#the effort it took to capitalize that H...
Meet Mary. She was Free, Educated and A Spy. Her Disguise… Confederate European House Slave!
Mary was the best as she was working right in The Confederate President’s home. She had a photographic mind. Everything Mary saw on the Rebel President’s desk, she could repeat word for word.
"Ellen Bond" was neither dim-witted, illiterate, nor a slave. In reality, she was a free, well-educated African-American woman by the name of Mary Elizabeth Bowser. And she was a Union spy working right under Confederate President Jefferson Davis’s nose.
For months during the most crucial period of the Civil War, as General Ulysses S. Grant maneuvered to capture Richmond, the Confederate capital, Mary supplied critical military intelligence to the Union army. In recognition of her contributions to the Union war effort, she was inducted into the U.S. Army Military Intelligence Hall of Fame in 1995.
Elizabeth was able to arrange for a friend to take Mary with her as a servant to help at social functions held by Varina Davis in the Confederate White House. Mary performed her servant role so well she was eventually taken on full time as, presumably, a slave hired out by her master.
As a spy, Mary enjoyed a significant advantage: invisibility. It’s not that she was unseeable, like H. G. Wells’ Invisible Man, but rather that as a black slave, she was unseen and unnoticed by the whites she served. Her entrance into the dining room to serve at table in no way affected the conversations Jefferson Davis might be having with visiting generals. When she went to his office to clean, it did not occur to the Confederate president that this seemingly ignorant and dull-witted African woman could have either the capacity or the interest to glean information from the papers he left lying on his desk.
In fact, Mary’s role went far beyond the norm. Whatever she read or heard she was able to remember and pass on word-for-word. That’s the testimony of Thomas McNiven, the official head of the Richmond spy ring. McNiven ran a bakery and made daily deliveries all around the city, including to the Confederate White House. This allowed Mary to regularly meet with him for a few minutes as he delivered his goods to the Davis household. Years later, in 1904, McNiven recalled those days to his daughter and her husband, who eventually recorded his story:
Mary was able to continue her espionage activities until January of 1865. Jefferson Davis had become aware that information was somehow being leaked, and suspicion apparently began to fall on Mary. She made the decision to flee Richmond and seems to have made her way to the North. One unsubstantiated account says that in her last act as a Union agent, she tried to burn down the Confederate White House, but was unsuccessful.
Sometime in the early 1850s, Mary was sent to Philadelphia, as Elizabeth had been, to be educated at a Quaker school for African Americans. In 1855, with Mary’s schooling complete, Elizabeth arranged for her to join a missionary community in Liberia. Mary, however, hated living in the African country, and by the spring of 1860 was back in Richmond with Elizabeth.
A year later, in April 1861, Mary was married to Wilson Bowser, a free African man. Interestingly, the ceremony, like her baptism, took place at St. John’s Episcopal. The wedding notice listed both Mary and Wilson as “colored servants to Mrs. E. L. Van Lew” (Elizabeth’s mother).
It’s been a while since I’ve read something angsty so… FO4 R!M! companions react to watching sole get tortured and when given a moment to rest, sole still tries to comfort him and asks if he’s okay.🥲
FO4 R!M! Companions React to Sole Being Tortured
Okay y’all, you asked for it. Here is some hurt with a capital H.
Included Below: Danse, Hancock, & X6-88.
(Part 2 will be Deacon, MacCready, Nick, and Preston.)
Seriously, if you don’t have a strong stomach for this sort of stuff, please just sit this one out. I don’t know what happened, I get really wrapped up in angst, and once you start researching torture methods, I think the gore descriptions become almost inevitable. So please proceed with caution!
Although, I must admit, some parts of this did physically hurt me to write 😅 But here's some good ole fashioned angst for ya.
I hope you enjoy! (?)
(also, I know this took forever, but I hope you're still out there, Anon, cuz this one's for you ❤)
Serious Trigger Warnings for what's under the cut: violence, injuries, gore, knives/cutting, torture (duh), allusions to [email protected]
(nothing explicit, but still, if it makes you uncomfortable please just sit this one out), and all around bad vibes ahead, please proceed with caution!
He rammed his bruised shoulder into the cold, metal bars of the cage again. All his strength, and he was useless when it came to this wretched steel prison. Danse's ears burned as Sole’s screams filled the air again. They were out of his sight, but near enough that he could hear everything.
How the hell had he let this happen?! He rammed into the metal again with a grunt. How could he have been so careless?! His shoulder cried from the ruthless contact against the bars, but he finally felt the foundation shake. Blazing amber eyes turned to the concrete ceiling where he noted a distinct crack forming around the tops of the bars. Danse took a deep breath and drew himself backwards until he was pressed against the opposite wall, his eyes narrowed and he surged forward, his shoulder and back stinging as he threw his body weight fully into the bars. He heard crumbling above him as he slammed into the prison wall over and over and over. Dust and bits of concrete fell from above, and with one final blow, accompanied by his own shout of effort, and a burst of pain, the bars gave way, ripping their roots from the ceiling and falling to clatter loudly onto the floor.
One hand went up to grip at his bruised and beaten shoulder as Danse heaved in a ragged breath, but he grimaced and soldiered on. He had to.
His mind spun as he set on his way in the direction of Sole's screams. Danse didn’t remember a thing. There perhaps was an ambush… He and Sole had gotten word of a settlement that was in need of aid, but when they arrived, it had appeared abandoned. They had turned to leave the place, to search the area for evidence of a struggle, but they had hardly turned around before he felt a flash of pain, and then... nothing. He remembered nothing. But he expected raiders to be the culprits.
The cage he’d been in was crude enough to support his theory. But he couldn’t be completely sure. For now though, he didn’t care. It didn’t matter to him who was hurting his beloved. Danse only knew that he had to stop them. Now.
His footsteps echoed harshly down the cement hallway, the one boon of hearing his love’s cries of agony was the knowledge it provided him of their location. He reached the end of the dim walkway and looked up the staircase with furrowed brows. He started up the stairs as hastily as he dared, peering around each corner as he ascended to the next floor. Just as he reached the threshold onto the next level, another agonized cry tore through his eardrums, making him grit his teeth to the point of pain. He crossed the threshold without abandon, paying for his recklessness immediately after, as he felt the beam of a laser rifle tear through his already injured shoulder. Danse grunted in pain, and stepped back to duck behind the sheltered hallway behind him.
He held his breath as one hand brushed over his fresh wound.
No blood. The laser must have cauterized it.
He heard a heavy pair of steps coming closer to him, and he pressed his back flush to the wall behind him, trying to ignore the blazing pain in his arm. The barrel of a laser rifle crept through the doorway, and Danse quickly made a move to snatch it, the sudden movement caught his attacker off guard, and the ex-paladin was able to pull the gun from their grasp. The enemy stumbled forward through the doorway, and Danse quickly twisted the rifle until the man’s head was in view. He closed his eyes for a moment as he heard the enemy’s body clatter to the floor. Peering down, he noted the power armor he wore. All pieces, apart from the helmet, were properly in place.
Impressive, for a raider. This must have been one of the commanding officers.
Another shout from Sole, and Danse snapped out of his thoughts. Now that he was armed, he moved more quickly, more comfortably, as his instincts fell into the proper mindset of a soldier. He scanned the large room as he entered it, pressing himself up against the wall as he moved towards the sound of Sole’s strained voice. His shoulder and arm were effectively useless, and the pain was frustratingly distracting, but Danse pressed on until he reached a hallway. One man was walking away from him, down the hall, while a woman stood guard in front of a pair of steel doors on the far side. They were both armed, and clad in combat armor. Danse took a shot at the woman facing him, and hit his marks. One on the shoulder, another to the head. She didn’t have time to utter a sound before she was down. The other guard quickly turned to take aim, but he was already in Danse’s sights, and in the next instance, his body crumpled to the floor with a pained groan.
As Danse made his way towards the end of the hall, his sights set on the pair of doors, he paused. His eyes narrowed as he took in his surroundings, noticing their distinct familiarity for the first time.
That room. This hallway… I’ve been here before.
He shook his head.
Now’s not the time. Danse clenched his jaw, and slowly pushed open the doors in front of him.
The sight of the room before him sent Danse’s reluctant mind tumbling backwards, forcing him to re-think everything that had occurred that day, and every single day prior.
Eyes fell to him as he burst into the room, the eyes of people he knew. Old friends, people he once called family; and the eyes of the one he loved, at the mercy of the men and women that he had once trusted with his life. Sole was seated in a steel chair, directly across from him, head hanging low. They were in the center of the large room. The largest of all of the rooms, here at Fort Strong.
Danse was utterly dumbfounded, his mouth hung open, even as the shouting began, as he felt a steel grip on one of his wrists, as he gazed around at power-armor clad bodies, as he laid his eyes first on his Sole, littered in dark bruises and bloodied injuries, barely conscious as their blood drained down their battered body to the hard, cement floor; and then to the orange flag, the one he'd once believed in with all his heart, hanging sententiously upon the wall behind them.
His amber eyes fell to Sole, fixed on them only as the Brotherhood knights closed in around him. Their head raised weakly, and their eyes grew wide for a moment. Danse saw them begin to struggle, even as he felt the weapon he held being tugged away from his grasp. At the sign of his companion's movement, the knight beside them turned his attention to Sole, swinging his rifle around to strike them in the side of the head with the hardened end of the weapon. At that, Danse snapped out of his trance.
Before the laser rifle could be torn away from him, he tightened his grasp, pulling the weapon back, and aimed it at the one who had struck Sole. He hit them in the shoulder, and watched as they stumbled backwards.
The room grew dark for a moment as the knight beside him brought a metal-clad fist to the side of his head. Danse shook it off, aiming almost blindly at the pair of knights on either side of him.
The ex-paladin was seeing red, and black, and orange. Each body that stepped into his sights took a direct hit. A dull pain ached in his shoulder, accompanied by sharp stings as more burning beams of crimson tore through his flesh. He hardly noticed. His ears rang and his vision honed into a bordered vignette as he focused on each enemy. Each one that had been either directly responsible for harming the one he loved, or anyone that had been present whilst it was occurring, and had refused to stop it. Unlike the Brotherhood, Danse fired without discrimination.
The rifle clattered to the floor, smoke coming up in faint ringlets from the overworked barrel as it fell from his slack grasp. The room was dead quiet, a stark contrast to the chaos only a moment before. Danse rushed to Sole’s side, placing his hands on either side of their face, as his eyes ran over their wounded form. He drew one hand downwards to press his fingers to their jaw. He could have sworn he heard them breathing, that he could see their chest rise and fall from where they sat in front of him, but he had to be sure.
Danse released a breath he must have been holding since he entered the room, the oxygen returning feeling to his limbs, and sense to his mind. His wounds stung, and he felt blood dripping from his nose, and a throbbing in his cheekbone, his heart was racing, and his chest felt hollow as the realization of what he’d done washed over him.
But Sole was alive.
Danse searched the knight that had fallen beside Sole for the key to their handcuffs, unlocking their wrists from the restraints, and rubbing at the marks they left. It was clear that Sole had tried to struggle out of them more than once.
Without the support of their arms wrapping around the back of the chair, Sole began to lean forward, and Danse rushed in front of them, placing his hands on their shoulders to steady them in their seat. He scrutinized every wound as he held them in place, every bruise and cut left on his partner’s precious body, and he cursed under his breath as he brought his hands back up to caress their swollen face. His chest seemed to crumple into itself as he noticed the outline of crimson that plastered his hands. The way their spilled blood clung to his fingertips made him sick to his stomach.
Their tender cheeks felt hot beneath his calloused touch, and time seemed to stand still as he tried to think through the situation. Tried to think about how to best help the one in front of him, how he could ever beg for their forgiveness for allowing this to happen, how he could live with himself if they were good enough to heed his pleading when he knew damn well that he didn't deserve their amnesty.
How could I have let this happen? How could the Brotherhood do something like this? To one of their own, no less.
The thought angered him beyond belief. All of Sole's loyalty to them, everything his partner has done in the name of the Brotherhood, and this is the way that the organization chooses to repay them? In this instance, those he once deemed his brothers and sisters, the ones he once relied upon and would have died for, they appeared no more honorable than a group of raiders. His breath shook as he released a deep sigh of disappointment, tinged with confusion.
He never would have agreed follow this sort of command, no matter the punishment. Would he? Now he wasn't so sure.
And they call me the soulless one...
Sole's eyes flickered open at the feel of his hands on their face, and their eyebrows scrunched together for a moment, the swollen flesh surrounding their eye sockets making it difficult for them to bring their partner’s face into focus. Sole blinked once more, and just as Danse opened his mouth to speak, to try and comfort them, to ask if they were alright, to tell them that he’s here, to apologize for his mistake, for his ignorance, for ever allowing them to fall into enemy hands, for ever forcing the Brotherhood to be considered the enemy, they cut him off before he could even start.
“Danse? Are you okay?” They croaked, blood dripping from their cracked lip as they opened their mouth. Heat rose to the ex-paladin’s face, and he felt a pang in his chest at the sincerity of their question.
He bit back the choked sob that nearly escaped his throat, as he released Sole’s face, wrapping his arms around them from where he knelt on the ground in front of them. He pulled his partner into his chest, holding them as tightly as he dared, one hand supporting the back of their head, and the other at their back as they leaned forward into him.
“Sole…” Danse started, pulling his head back to look his partner in the eye as their foreheads brushed against each other. “Forgive me. I-- This should never have happened. It was the Brotherhood, and--”
“They’re the ones that took you. That did this to you--”
“I know, but that doesn’t--” They tried to cut in weakly.
“If you had followed orders, if I hadn’t been a coward, if I wasn't... what I am, then they never would have had a reason to hurt--”
“Danse! Enough. We’re not the ones in the wrong, here. I was never going to let them kill you. Never going to let them convince you to do it yourself. I couldn’t--” Their voice cut out, the dryness of their throat preventing them from continuing further.
Danse leaned his forehead into theirs, hot tears running down his cheeks as they had this argument for what seemed like the hundredth time. Sole never budged.
Even after all they just went through… How can they not blame me?
“I can’t tell you how relieved I am that you’re still with me." He whispered, "If… If I’d lost you, I don’t know what I would have done.”
“You don’t have to worry about that.” Sole rasped, their hand weakly stroking at the back of Danse’s hair as they wrapped their arms up around his neck. Their body trembled as Danse held them close, and in that moment, as he felt their heart racing through their tattered vault suit, as he heard the strain of their damaged ribcage trying to accommodate their expanding lungs with each painful breath they took, he vowed to himself silently to never allow this sort of situation to repeat itself. He didn't know what he had done wrong, when the ambush hit, couldn't remember the steps that had led to their capture, but he would continue to dissect what he could discern from his memory to the best of his ability. Sole deserved better than this, better than him, and dammit, if he can't protect the one he loves, the one thing he has left in his life that even makes living worthwhile, what good was he to anyone? To himself? If Sole was ever injured like this on his watch again, it had better mean he had died in his efforts to prevent it.
Danse’s head snapped up, instinctively, he twisted his body so he was between Sole and the voice that had sounded from the other side of the room. He shifted to face them, a snarl forming on his face, even as he reached for the nearest laser rifle.
“Ah, ah, ah. You just stay right there, Pal-- Ahem, Danse.” Proctor Ingram looked down at him, the business end of her own modified laser rifle pointed straight at his chest.
“Look, I’m not going to do anything drastic, just so long as you don’t.” Her eyes focused briefly on the weapon just out of Danse's reach, before snapping back to the ex-paladin and his companion.
Danse’s nostrils flared, but his eyes pleaded with his old friend, for some semblance of empathy, some sign of sympathy, of mercy, anything.
“On your feet, soldier. Both of you, come on now.”
Danse clenched his jaw, but did as she commanded. Once he had clambered to his feet, he turned to Sole, helping to hoist them up next to him, keeping an arm around their waist to support their injured body from toppling to the ground once again.
Ingram’s eyes darted to Sole, then back to Danse. She lowered her rifle and sighed deeply, shaking her head as her gaze fell to the floor thoughtfully.
“Isn’t it just a shame when this happens. All these lives lost…"
Danse opened his mouth to speak, to defend himself, and his actions as best he could, but Ingram continued.
"... And no witnesses to the crime.”
Danse’s eyebrows raised slightly as the Proctor took a few steps forward, eyes scanning over the fallen soldiers around the fort.
“Hard to demand justice when that happens. Guess we’ll just have to live with the speculation of it.”
She passed by Sole and Danse, and he shifted to keep Ingram in his sights, and to keep himself between her and Sole.
“I’m gonna go and check on the… prison cell. Maybe I’ll find my answers there.”
The proctor gave Danse a look. Just the small, sympathetic smile of one old friend to another, and started down the hallway towards the stairwell. Danse released a breath, feeling Sole’s tense body slacken a bit as their old ally left the room. Danse snatched up the nearest laser rifle, still holding Sole close to his side, supporting them, as they headed towards the back exit of the fort.
Hancock never had a good feeling about Sam Cooke. The guy just seemed like scum to him; and not the good kinda scum neither, not the Goodneighbor kind. But eh, the man could make a damn good drink, and damn, were the pair in need of a stiff one right about now. Or two… or hell, why not make it three? They'd just run his good for nothin brother outta town for being a damned synth. Hancock didn't know how to feel. Should he be celebrating? Maybe his brother wasn't the self absorbed ambitious asshole he thought he was, no, maybe his brother was just dead, and the synth had been the one to kick the ghouls to the curb in the election. Or maybe Hancock was just trying to ease his troubled conscience.
It didn't matter why they were here, he supposed. Just as long as he was good and drunk, he wouldn't remember anyway. Turns out, this overpriced dive is the only bar in Boston where Sole could get their favorite pre-war beverage. They just had to like whiskey sours; figures this'd be the only place in the Commonwealth with the proper ingredients to make a damn good sour mix.
Ah well, Hancock didn't mind, he'd drink almost anything, and though there weren't any sofas to stretch out on, the bar stools were comfortable. All soft and cushiony...
Come to think of it… the countertop looked pretty damn comfortable too. And man, when did it get so warm in here?
Hancock peered hazily over at his companion. Their drink was only halfway down in their glass, and yet, they had laid their head down on the bar top and closed their eyes.
Damn. A nap does sound nice.
Suddenly, an overwhelming fatigue overcame him, and Hancock felt his own head sink down to the countertop. Opening his eyes for a brief moment, Hancock felt panic overtake him as the world tumbled out of his vision, spinning away, fading to a cloudiness he was sure he'd get lost in. Then he was calm. Calm, and encased in darkness.
The ghoul wrenched his eyes open. The room was small, dark, and not yet in focus. He was seated, something rough dug into his wrists, his waist, his knees, and his ankles. Hancock’s mouth was unbelievably dry, and he tried to blink away the blurriness from his vision. He could make something out on the other side of the room now. A figure. He was a large-framed man, he wore a tan hat, and there was… something else. Behind him, another figure.
All at once, Hancock’s vision seemed to clear, and he felt his pulse quicken at the sight before him.
The synthetic son of a bitch couldn't just leave well enough alone.
Two Diamond City guards were in the room as well, one standing on either side of Sole, where his companion was restrained to the wall behind them. His partner's head hung low, body bowing forward as their arms were stretched upwards. Their wrists were chained to a large hook set into the wall above them. They looked as though they were drifting in and out of consciousness, but otherwise, they seemed unhurt. Hancock released a sigh of relief at that. For a brief moment, their dangling form almost appeared to be lifeless, but now his vision cleared, he could see them breathing, see their eyes trying to keep themselves open, trying to blink away the same fog that had clouded his reality only moments ago.
McDonough turned at the sound of Sole attempting to speak.
"Ah! Good, glad to see you've joined us. And what about your friend here, is he awake yet?" The ex-mayor kept his gaze trained on Sole as he tilted an ear to Hancock's direction.
"Yeah." A voice sounded from behind him, and his body jolted in surprise at the man's proximity. The guard prodded sharply at Hancock's ribs with the end of his baseball bat, taking the ghoul's recoiling reaction as proof that he was correct in his assumption. "He's up, boss."
"Well, that's perfect then! It means we can begin, oh, and right on schedule. We mayors know all about the importance of punctuality, don't we...?" He trailed off as he turned to look Hancock in the eye, his uncertain expression attempting to prompt the ghoul to fill in the blank at the end of his sentence.
Fine. I'll play your game, you spineless bastard. Least 'til I get free.
"Hancock." He said flatly, his voice rasping against his parched throat as the words were forced from him. Sole looked on, towards the sound of the voices in front of them, and Hancock heard their breath catch in their throat, but their eyes remained searching, seemingly still unfocused and hazy.
"Right. Yes, of course. How could I forget? Like that fellow from the history books. Of course." The synth nodded his head in thought, clasping his hands together beneath his chin as his gaze searched for the right words, actions, whatever. Hancock didn't care what he did. What could McDonough do? His brother had been a coward as well, but this second-rate pretender? Not only was he spineless, he was stupid. Coming back to Diamond City after the shit he pulled, the secret he revealed. Did he really think these guards were loyal to him? Hancock almost scoffed audibly, but he held himself back.
"Well boys, I suppose that's it for me. You know what we discussed. I'll be back soon to check on your… ah, progress. Yes, I'll be back to check in soon enough. Let me know, of course, if you encounter any problems or anything like that. This one’s bound to try and give you grief." His hand waved towards Hancock.
Damn right I am.
Hancock's dark eyes never left the man as he moved to the side of the room.
The way out.
The door was behind the ghoul, but within Sole's view. He heard the heavy, metal thing clamor shut, and a lock set in place.
At the sound of the door closing, the guards had moved forward, all three of them were well within the ghoul’s line of sight, all heading towards the one he loved. He struggled at his restraints, and one of the guards jerked his head around.
“Someone needs to keep an eye on him, as M7-62 commanded.”
Hancock’s heart sank. He thought he could reason with these assholes, thought he could bribe them or sweet-talk them, somehow he thought he could sway their loyalty. But what the hell did he have that could sway a bunch of synths? They’d follow McDonough’s orders like they were coming straight from the Institute itself. He didn't even know if they could disobey him.
His attention snapped back to the guard facing Sole. He’d pulled something out of his pocket and was showing it to them, it was difficult for Hancock to make out from his angle, but as the item twisted in his hand, he saw the play of light glint off of it's shimmering surface. That honed edge, the hand-made, glossy wooden handle, perfectly carved with one specific hand in mind. His.
Fucker took my knife.
A growl formed in the ghoul’s throat and he bared his teeth at the man.
If ever there were a time to go feral... He thought, tugging further at his restraints. The guard beside him was watching his every move, and swiftly, the brute brought the butt of his baseball bat down on the side of Hancock’s head. Hard enough to make his teeth clack and his eyes squeeze shut, but not enough to knock him out.
No. They want me to see this shit. Bastards. They sure knew how to punish him. But for what? He wasn’t entirely sure. The McDonough imposter had seemed put-out when they ran his synthetic ass outta Diamond City, but to go to these lengths… Hancock thought the synth would be too soft for this kinda shit. I guess that’s why he’s making these assholes do it.
Hancock gritted his teeth as the guard in front of Sole took the knife to them. His knife. The one he’d used to gut Finn after he’d looked the wrong way at his Sole that first day he met them. Sole tried to be silent, he could see the way they set their jaw and held their breath as the blade dug into their exposed forearm, but as the guard continued his strokes down the length of the limb, digging the blade in, and separating their flesh in slow, painful strokes, leaving streams of scarlet in their wake, Sole couldn’t hold back any longer.
Their screams tore savagely into Hancock’s ear drums, and made him wince even harder at the sight before him. He wanted to look away, wanted to pretend this wasn’t happening, that Sole wasn’t being slowly torn to shreds by this synthetic monster in this dark, hollow room, using his own goddamn knife, but he couldn’t force his eyes from his love. No matter how much he wished this shit away, it couldn't stop it from happening. Sole would bear these scars for the rest of their life, if they managed to escape before bleeding out. And all he could do was fucking watch. It tore him apart.
He felt so fucking useless. In the next moment, Hancock began shouting at the guards, trying with every fiber of his being to speak to Sole in an attempt to distract them from the pain, trying to convince them that everything would be okay, promising to get them out of it. He pleaded with Sole's abusers, attempting to appeal to any humanity that might reside in them, but to no avail. It was as though they couldn’t even hear him. Hancock cursed and spat, threatened and thrashed, and lost track of how many times the butt end of the baseball bat made contact with his temple, but he didn’t care. The pain in his head was nothing in comparison to the anguish he felt at seeing his Sole this way.
It was a pain that leaked into every irradiated cell in his body, he felt each new stab wound as though it were upon his own ravaged skin, the pressure pounded and throbbed in his chest, the waves of hurt crashing each time Sole let out another agonizing scream. It drained into his soul, making his blood boil and his mind cloud with a fury and distress he never knew he was capable of experiencing.
He wasn’t sure when he blacked out, when the guard had bashed his bat into Hancock's temple one too many times, but as he came to, his panic seemed to redouble as his ears were met with only silence.
Hancock's eyes flew open, his dark gaze falling directly ahead, to the place Sole had been when he was last conscious.
He sucked in a breath. Hot tears of fury and deep anguish ripped down the paths of shriveled flesh upon his cheeks. His eyes stayed on his partner, unblinking, as he waited with baited breath to see their chest rise and fall, to be able to make out a subtle twitch, or a quiet sigh, or any indication that they were still living, that his love hadn’t left him. Not now, not like this, not because he wasn’t able to stop it.
“Sole?” He croaked, fear causing his limbs to tremble and his voice to rasp even more than usual. His partner's head hung low between their shoulders, their arms were still suspended by the hook in the ceiling, and streams of dried blood ran down from the thin wounds scattered over their body. The cuts seemed shallow, but there were so many of them, and Hancock was paralyzed at the thought of the one he loves most bleeding out in front of him while he was right fucking there, unconscious; while he was doing nothing to prevent it. It tore his heart into tattered shreds.
“Sole, please. You can’t go, sunshine, you can’t leave me here." He pleaded with their still form, "You’re the best damn thing that’s ever happened to me, you know that? Without you, I ain’t shit, without you sweetheart, I'm nothing. I need you with me. Please. Please, Sole, stay here. Don’t go. Don’t leave me alone again. I can’t-- I won’t be able to... ”
The shaking of his voice wouldn’t allow him to continue coherently, but they needed to hear this, Sole needed to know how much he cared for them, that he would do anything to reverse their positions, that he couldn’t go on if they left him this way, that he didn’t want to, that he wouldn't be able to, even though he knew that they would want him to.
Hancock didn’t know why the guards had left him alone with Sole, they were all gone though, and there was no sign of McDonough. He was sure they must be watching them from somewhere, somehow, reveling in their sickening victory as they watched Hancock fall apart within this wretched little room. But he had to take advantage of the situation. Had to do something.
Hancock struggled against his bonds, pulling with all his might, feeling the ropes around him dig into his flesh as he tried desperately to wrench himself free from the chair he was tethered to. Amid his struggle, he heard something beyond his own heavy breathing, grunting, shouting, and cursing. It was small and weak, but he paused his movements nonetheless.
“Hancock?” Sole managed from across the room, their head barely able to lift itself as they raised their defeated eyes to him. “Are you okay?” Their small, defeated voice asked him, and Handcock’s heart broke.
He’d never been so relieved in his entire life than he was the moment Sole spoke his name, but now all he felt was pain at the sight of them, regret at them coming to Diamond City at all. Sole didn’t deserve this shit. He couldn’t help but feel like it was all his fault, like they should be blaming him for all of this, begging to know why he felt he needed this closure with his brother, hating him for being the one to bring them here, for forcing them into this position. It’s how he felt. But of course, as always, Sole was better than him. They wanted to know if he was alright? They were so near to death he could physically see their life draining away from them with each passing moment, as their skin paled and their eyes glazed in and out of focus, and they were worried about him?
“Sole. Sweetheart, I’m fine, I’m perfect. But you…" He looked at them. Really looked. Took in every haunting, gory detail. Each trail of dark scarlet that fed the expanding crimson pool beneath their suspended body, the way their eyes and cheeks hollowed darkly, and he could see every blue-grey vein branching from underneath their parchment colored skin.
"I’m gonna make ‘em pay for this." He growled, "Don’t you worry about it, love. We’re gonna get you outta this, you’re gonna be safe soon. I promise. And when I get outta here, they’ll wish I’d be merciful enough to do what they did to you. But I won’t be. Nah. I’m gonna give ‘em a whole new meaning of the word suffering.”
With just the effort of raising their head to meet his gaze and speak a few words to their partner, Sole was spent. Their head fell back to slump beneath their shoulders, and Hancock renewed his vigorous efforts to wrench himself free of his bindings.
A click tore him from his concentration as he felt the blisters break upon his skin where he had been rubbing away at the ropes. His dark gaze snapped to the side, trying to get the door behind him in his sights, and his pulse quickened. He heard a feeble whimper from in front of him, and even from across the room, as the door handle rattled in an effort to disengage the lock, he could hear Sole's quiet pleas whispered under their shallow breath.
"Please. Please, no. No. I can't... can't do it anymore. Please."
They'll have to fuckin' kill me if they wanna touch Sole again. Hancock prepared to break free from the binds, no matter what it took, he'd rip his own goddamn arms off if he had to, as the door was finally wrenched open.
"Holy..." The man in the trench coat stepped into the room, and recoiled at the sight of Sole, his skeletal hand coming up to clutch at his chest in shock.
"Oh my god." Piper sucked in a breath as she came in after him, and, as Nick Valentine's yellow eyes fell to Hancock, the ghoul just couldn't seem to choke back his relief. He released a strangled breath at the sight of their friends discovering them. Saving them.
"Take care of Sole first," He told them, thrusting his head in his partner's direction to emphasize his point. "Make sure they're safe, that they get some medical help. Now. They lost a lot of blood." Nick nodded and turned, but Piper was already at Sole's side. The detective helped her wrench Sole down from where they were secured to the ceiling, and Piper rushed out of the room to find a doctor. Hancock sat by all the while, eyes glued to Sole's form, and ears trained on the commotion outside the steel door behind him. He didn't know what was being done with McDonnough and the guards, but whatever it was, it wasn't nearly enough.
"Now," The ghoul finally spoke up as Nick turned his attention to him, and Piper re-entered the room, a medic at her heels. "If you wouldn't mind, could you get over here and lend a ghoul a hand? I'd really appreciate it."
"Sure thing." Nick said as stood up from where he knelt beside Sole, making room for the newcomer to work. His synthetic eyebrows still crinkled as he looked back at Sole, and made his way over to the other side of the room. Hancock's eyes stayed trained on his partner as well, the sight of their continuing suffering fueling him as they writhed beneath the doctor's touch.
"Hope the assholes who did this are still alive" He told Nick as the synth began to undo his binds. "I've gotta have a word with them. And gotta get my knife back."
This was not what X6 had intended for this particular mission. Not at all. It had all started so smoothly, with Sole happily alluding to the pair's first mission together.
"Aw, X, this is just like the day we met! Collecting a rogue synth… bet you it'll go even smoother this time around, now that I know what you're capable of." They had winked at him then, and he felt his cheeks warm at their suggestive comment as they set off ahead of him.
"Yes ma'am/sir." He had said, "How could I forget? You nearly got us killed at the top of that rubbish pile." They had turned back to look at him then, eyebrows raised.
"Oh? Did I? I seem to recall it differently, sweetie. I think you were the one who set those raiders off, I had the situation completely under control."
"Of course. You're right, director." He had said with a half smile as the pair entered the raiders' base. It had seemed particularly ill-defended, but X6 wasn't surprised. Raiders were always disorganized. The pair would make quick work of them, utter the recall code on the rogue synth, and be back in Sole's quarters at the Institute before nightfall. The courser had been sure of it. So sure. Perhaps if he had been less certain, if he hadn't been so reckless in his confidence, Sole wouldn't be in this situation now. He despised himself for it.
The ambush had been executed almost flawlessly. It had been so perfect in its timing and ferocity that X6 wondered now if the rogue synth had been a courser before it had its memory wiped. Despite that, despite their perfect plan incapacitating the pair almost without a single shred of capable resistance, X6 cursed himself for being unable to anticipate it. What good was he if he couldn't protect his future director, his companion, his partner, his other half, from the likes of a few mangy raiders led by some disloyal runaway scum?
"A courser like that in our midst, and we'd be unstoppable. So, you gonna tell us his little recall code, or do you want us to break something else?"
The menacing voice brought X6 back to the present he wished he could escape from, but he was chained here as completely as he was to the brick wall behind him. His eyes blurred for a moment, the distorted heap on the floor swam into focus, revealing Sole just as they spit right into the enemy synth's face.
The sound of the blow he landed on Sole's cheek resounded through the small room, and X6 began struggling again, muscles straining and flesh screaming as the metal dug into his wrists. His head throbbed from the incessant beating it had taken each time he came back to consciousness. It didn't seem to matter to the raiders that they didn't know X6's recall code, they'd just keep striking at his temple with the hard, metal handles of their weapons until he was incapacitated once again.
Sole was even worse off this time than they had been when he last woke up, and X6 felt a white hot fury boiling in his gut at the sight of them. They were littered in bruises, blood poured from their swollen nose, dark rings had formed around their eyes, their hands were still tied tightly behind their back, and their underclothes were in scarlet-tinged tatters hanging from their slumped-over frame. They spit again, this time onto the floor, and a bloodied dribble dangled from their cracked lip. X6 could hear their labored breathing from where he was restrained on the other side of the room.
He wanted to roar, to scream and tear himself from the unyielding grip of the metal securing his wrists, wanted to wring the necks of each and every raider in the room that stood around watching this abuse. This torture. Wanted to tear their fingers from their sockets, the teeth from their gums, their eyes from their skulls with his bare hands, wanted to make them suffer more than he was now, wanted them to hurt more than Sole ever had.
He watched with a clenched jaw as the synth bent down to look Sole in the eye, reaching a hand under their chin to draw their cloudy gaze to him. X6 pulled at his restraints in earnest at the man's gesture, feeling a wetness seep down his arm as blood drained from the wounds in his wrists. What right did that filth have to touch the future director of the Institute? What right did that abomination have to touch the one he loved?
The muscles in X6's shoulders threatened to tear themselves apart as he pulled with all his might against the cruel metal that chained him so far from his beloved. So far from the one he felt that he couldn't live without, the one who gave his otherwise inconsequential existence a real purpose, the one he loved--
God, he loved them.
X6 had never said it in so many words, had never been able to show them just how much they meant to him. Maybe it was his programming that had stilled his tongue at all the right times, or perhaps it was his own fear or cowardice. Perhaps he feared caring more for one person than he did the entire organization he had defended and supported from the first breath they had allowed him to take, he feared caring for someone more than he had ever cared for himself, than he ever cared for Father, even. Sole bypassed all of the programming from all of his trainings; everything within him that forced him to stay his course in every mission he had ever gone on was rendered irrelevant in their presence.
This man in front of him, this monster had no right to touch this person that he loved. For the man truly was a monster, X6 should know.
The courser had often been considered one himself. And if he ever managed to escape these wretched manacles, he would show every person in this room why he was often labeled as such. Every. Single. One.
Starting with the man whose fingers now dug into Sole's throat. The one who, as X6 watched helplessly, tightened his grip around them at their refusal to speak to him. Who forced them backwards roughly to crash the back of their head into the unforgiving concrete below, before raising his combat boot high into the air above them, slamming it down in the next instance, directly onto their ribcage. X6 heard the crack of broken bone and he couldn't hold back his roar of fury any longer as he heard the breath leave them, the sound of their pain-filled shriek filling the room to overpower his own cry. The raider nearest to X6 turned his head in surprise, already raising his rifle to land another blow to the courser's head. X6 glared up at him, fire blazing in his menacing silver eyes as he snarled a word of warning, and the man with the gun hesitated.
In that instance, another raider came storming through the door, with news of a swarm of Gen 2 synths that were banging at the gates of their base. Chaos ensued at the news, and the raiders in the room dashed to the exit, preparing to ready themselves for the onslaught, as the rogue synth turned to consider his prisoners.
"Bar the door and leave them. For now." He commanded.
"But don't worry," he said down to Sole, prodding their ruined ribcage with the steel toe of his boot as they cried out in pain. "We'll be right back. Then you'll tell us everything you know. Unless, of course, the Gen 2s spill it to us. Then we'll have other plans for you." The synth pulled away with a dark chuckle, reaching one hand down to stroke over Sole's swollen cheek, before pulling it away and turning back to his men. He had spoken softly, but X6 heard every word, storing them away to use as fuel to fan the flames of his searing fury when the time came for his payback. Not that he needed it. In his eyes, the man was as good as dead them moment he had first touched Sole.
The door slammed shut behind the exiting entourage, and he heard something slide into place on the other side, but his gaze remained fixed on his partner where they lay on the floor, their chest attempting to expand with each deep breath, only to be cut off at the feeling of stretching their devastated ribs with each inhalation.
X6 began to struggle against his restraints again. Now was their chance, and he was not about to pass it up. He was relentless, he was a force to be reckoned with, a machine that would never quit, he was a goddamn courser and he will get Sole out of this. Even if it's the last thing he did. He grunted audibly with effort, with the pain that came with shredding his own flesh, and Sole clambered upwards to try and face him, their own expression strained with the agony of attempting to sit up.
"Are…" They flinched at the feel of their voice reverberating in their broken chest, continuing with a heavy grimace weighing on their devastated face. "Are you alright, X?"
He hardly even heard Sole in his desperation to reach them, the sight of their bruised and bloodied face, the suffering in their voice, the haunting dullness in their eyes making his chest ache, and his blood boil.
He heard the wall behind him groan and crackle as gunfire raged around the outside of their little room. He pulled harder, until he felt the searing contact of metal hitting bone as the restraints tore through him.
But they budged.
Finally, X6 was free. He fell to the floor, wrists too weak to catch himself properly, and left a trail of red as he crawled towards Sole. Even before he reached them, he heard a noise from beyond the door, against the door, the bar was sliding out of place again.
"No." He growled as a choked sob escaped his companion beside him. He quickly took in the room, searching desperately for a weapon, but as the door pushed open, his hands fell to the metal cuffs that had been holding him to the wall, grasping at the hard material that he knew he could find a way to kill with.
But as the door opened, and he prepared for his assault, a metal foot crashed to the floor in front of him.
It seemed the Gen 2s had found them.
X6 refused to let his guard down as a slew of synths entered the small room, but he allowed himself the small respite of peering over at Sole as the the other synths finished up their work outside.
"Ma'am/Sir?" He whispered as Sole's glazed eyes darted around the room, falling to fixate on the door at every new synth that entered into their claustrophobic space.
"Sole," he said quietly, wrenching himself closer to his companion with a grimace, his hands moved to clumsily unbuckle the leather that had kept their hands bound behind them, as his own injuries singed with pain, "I cannot express the depth of my regret." He told them, heat spreading to his face as he took in the physical details of his failure etched in crimson upon Sole's body, "I failed you. I should have anticipated their attack, should have stopped them, or died trying."
"X, no--" They attempted to cut in weakly, their breathing labored as they tried to prop themselves up with the bit of strength they had left in them.
"But I swear to you, I will make them suffer for what they've done to you." His growl interrupted them, the low gravelly sound of his fury-tinged words cut through the air like a serrated knife; and as another courser stepped through the door into the meager room, X6 set his silver eyes firmly on his next target. The unconscious rogue synth hanging from the iron grip of his fellow courser.
9/11 Bill POV
While Hillary was in Washington and Chelsea in New York, Bill was in Australia. Here's an extract from Man of the World by Joe Conason, describing the events from that day.
In Clinton’s suite at the Sheraton Mirage, a luxurious hotel surrounded by palm trees, he turned on the television to see the nightmarish images that would soon become a historic symbol of horror for Americans. Across the bottom of the screen, a crawling ticker listed the names of passengers on the four flights hijacked by the al Qaeda terrorist teams. Suddenly, Clinton saw the name of a friend, someone who had worked with him for years, a man with a family of his own. “Oh my God,” he breathed.
He knew Chelsea was in New York City, visiting a friend before her scheduled departure for England. Now he had to find out exactly where she was and who was with her, but nobody had been able to find her yet. When Hillary finally got through to his room, she pretended to know already that their daughter was safe, hoping to calm him—even though she felt inwardly frantic as her Senate staff continued to try to locate their daughter.
By her own account, Chelsea had been watching television at her friend’s apartment in Union Square when the second plane hit, and quickly tried to call her mother in Washington—but as she spoke with an aide in Hillary’s office, overburdened phone lines went dead. In a panic, she left the apartment and headed downtown, searching desperately for a pay phone to reach Hillary’s Senate office again. She was standing in line at a pay phone, about twelve blocks from the disaster scene, when she heard the deafening roar of the second tower collapsing. She headed back toward Union Square, eventually found her friend, and they walked uptown, like thousands of other New Yorkers. When she found a working phone and reached Hillary, her mother burst into tears of relief.
At Clinton’s office in Harlem, Karen Tramontano and members of the foundation staff were meeting in a conference room with a panoramic southward view when they saw the first plane. Someone came running into the room and suddenly they were watching the catastrophe on television. Tramontano picked up a phone immediately, trying to reach Band in Australia.
With all flights into the United States canceled, the Clinton entourage was stranded in Australia. After talking with Band, Tramontano placed a call to Condoleezza Rice to ask for help. After some wrangling that involved more calls from Band to the Secret Service and to Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, the Pentagon dispatched a military aircraft to pick them up at Cairns Airport in Port Douglas. “It won’t be very comfortable,” Rice warned, “but it’s the only plane we have available out there right away.”
It wasn’t comfortable at all aboard the C-130 cargo plane and the trip took almost twenty-four hours. There were no seats, there was no food, and at thirty thousand feet, the interior of the plane was cold—very, very cold. They stopped in Guam and switched to a refueling plane, which was no better. Band had tried to scrounge some sweaters and other warm clothing at the hotel, but they were all bone-chilled, starved, and exhausted when the plane finally landed at Stewart Airport, a New York National Guard airbase about fifty miles north of Chappaqua. Almost immediately they departed for Manhattan, where they headed to Union Square.
Despite their ordeal, Clinton was grateful to have gotten home, unlike thousands of Americans left overseas with no way to return until the airports reopened. Among them was Al Gore, who had been in Vienna when the terrorists struck, giving a speech to an Austrian Internet forum.
Evidently the Bush White House was not prepared to provide military transportation for the former vice president, who could find no way to get back except via Gander Airport, a tiny facility in Newfoundland. From there, he and an aide would have to drive southward across the Canadian border.
While seeking help with their predicament, a former Gore aide—who had also worked in the Clinton White House—called the Harlem office. Gore and Clinton had exchanged messages within the first hours after the terrorist attack, but had not spoken yet. Distant as relations between their bosses had become, the staffers remained friendly. When Gore’s aide reached Tramontano, they talked casually about “the crap that’s gone on for far too long” between Gore and Clinton—who literally had not spoken since a bitter two-hour argument about who was to blame for the disastrous outcome of the 2000 election. She suggested that on the long drive down from the Canadian border, Gore might stop in Chappaqua. When Tramontano reached Clinton to discuss the proposed sleepover, she wasn’t surprised by his enthusiasm. That evening around 8 p.m., the former vice president picked up his cell phone to speak with the former president for the first time in many months.
“Why don’t you come down here, and then we’ll fly down together Friday morning?” Clinton asked. An Air Force jet provided by the White House would take them to the capital for the special memorial service on September 14 at the National Cathedral.
Hours after midnight, driving a rented car, Gore arrived at the five-bedroom colonial on Old House Lane. Clinton was waiting for them in the living room, where he had been napping on and off, and got up to greet Gore.
As he climbed the steps to the front porch, the former vice president noticed a refrigerator, sitting where it had been moved while the kitchen was undergoing renovation—a tableau that struck him as more hillbilly Ozarks than chic Westchester. Eyeing the fridge, he cracked, one Southerner to another: “Well, you’ve really come a long way, haven’t you?” At the door, Clinton roared with laughter.
They stayed up almost until dawn, talking mostly about the 9/11 attacks, their own efforts to deal with terrorism, and the murky times ahead. Chelsea met them in the morning at Westchester Airport to fly to Washington. On the flight down, Gore invited the Clintons to join his family after the memorial service for lunch at his home in Arlington, Virginia.
At the cathedral, a century-old Gothic Revival structure on the northern outskirts of the capital, Clinton sat in a front pew alongside President Bush and the other living former presidents, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H. W. Bush. He listened as the president delivered words of compassion for the bereaved and a warning to the enemy. He was speaking out forcefully in support of Bush at every opportunity, starting with his departure from Australia. He had canceled all of his speaking engagements abroad to remain in Manhattan, spending hours at local vigils and especially at the Armory on Park Avenue, where he tried to comfort families whose loved ones were missing and presumed dead.
“They cheered, they wept, they hugged him,” wrote a reporter for London’s Daily Mirror. “All around him, New Yorkers gathered, some to pass on their thanks that he had rushed to their side, others to grab his hand and use him as an emotional crutch. . . . All felt lifted to be in the presence of the man they had looked to for most of the past decade when their country was in its hour of need.”
The Mirror correspondent was not alone in contrasting Clinton’s instinctive leadership with the unsteadiness displayed by his successor in the early hours following the attack, although Bush soon righted himself and took command. America and the world had turned a page, moving beyond the petty controversies that had almost consumed Clinton in the days after he left office. Gaunt, somber, and worried, he and his fellow Americans now found themselves in a very different world.
Not everyone was willing to leave old habits behind, however, especially among Clinton’s most rigid detractors on the right. Even as Bush and congressional leaders prayed for the nation to unite, the habitual haters simply could not resist a fresh opportunity to target him. Nothing mattered more than proving (or at least asserting) that the terrorist attacks of September 11 should be blamed not on the current president, but the one who preceded him. Before long a writer for National Review warned, only half-jokingly: “If we members of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy don’t get back to our daily routine of obsessive Clinton-bashing, then the terrorists will have won.”
As a Kama Enjoyer *coughs* I gotta say while I ENJOY Summer Kama because its Kama. I cant help but feel like they wasted a lot of potential with it. They could have made summer Kama what she is and made her an Archer or something and then made Avenger Mara/Kama for something else because honestly they have every right to be an Avenger... JUST NOT FOR SUMMER. And if they were deadset on Summer Kama being the first Summervenger... Why are they just the same but now more naked and with even worse player shiptease. I LIKE Kama but the complete destruction of interesting traits to make them more waifuey and in love with you is just u g h. I want Evil. I want destruction. I want depression. And most importantly... I WANT KAMA'S WIFE
You. YOU GET IT….obviously lol.
Yeah, you basically outlined all my thoughts on it without my obligatory jaded vitriol. I havent done ooku but i have learned SOME stuff about Kama, including more than enough to know how much potential they had as an avenger. Even if I think other servants deserve an avenger alt more… And more than that while, unlike you of course, i’m not super familiar with Kama, know what I am super familiar with? The Avenger Class.
I’ve outlined before why the Avenger-class is basically the peak of the entire franchise’s ideas as far as I’m concerned, but to tldr it’s because rather than embody skills or higher powers, it embodies emotions, the thing that makes us human. I cant speak for Ranmaru but even a gag character like Spishtar is driven by emotions and angst over the wrongs she’s been dealt. Her story didnt get to capitalize on it, but that’s the fault of Jane being terribly written not Spishtar herself. To say nothing of every “proper” avenger being an absolute banger of a character, because the game puts presentation the forefront and interweaves that aspect of hatred, futility, and angst into every aspect of their being.
The point i’m getting at here is that Avenger Kama had every right to be a banger character as well, and the reason they aren’t is entirely because they’re avenger in name only. It has nothing to do with stats or the event not releasing in summer or who deserves it more, though none of those help. It’s all as simple as them putting forth no effort and blatantly trying to pander to horny whales for the sake of pure profit. On a conceptual level Summer Kama was hacked out as a cash grab.
And its not even a Summer issue. Know why? Summer 3 exists. Servantfes is, with everything i’ve seen, genuinely the peak of fgo events. I was utterly spoiled by it as I got an event with more depth and intrigue than several main story chapters, on top of endless laughs. Servantfes proves you can have a character focused story that doesn’t throw away meaningful development for the sake of comedy, and ironically it does it with a character much Summer Kama’s inverse. Summer Jalter went from Avenger to Berserker, acted as a 4 star welfare so that people like me who couldn’t get her exclusive ssr self were still able to have an incredibly popular character, and rather than get butchered in the name of pandering in response to her popularity they gave that to her Avenger self, as I’m going to be mentioning in another ask response i’ve got lined up later on about jalter and Ereshkigal they took it as a chance to elaborate on a new facet of her that her class change threw into the spotlight separate from her previous self. So Summer Servant was, if anything, a perfect excuse to pivot the entire focus of Kama’s character to their wife and angst.
TLDR, should’ve been about Male Kama saving his wife
༉₊˚✧ꜱʜᴇ'ꜱ ᴀɴ ᴀɴɢᴇʟ : ʜᴀᴡᴋꜱ x ꜰ.ʀᴇᴀᴅᴇʀ
synopsis: she was a journalist, adamant on gaining information about the heroes she adored so much. he was a up and coming hero. could i make it anymore obvious?
word count: 2,742
genre: slow burn, strangers to lovers
warning(s): cussing, slight mention of attempted assault, not proof-read, reuploaded from my old account
Closing her door with a click, she let out a sigh- a breath she didn’t even know she was holding in. Today had been…rough to say the least. Her only day off work in 3 months and she had to spend it chasing up reports from her employees, reading through them and then the cherry on top: having to buy a fresh set of clothes because a truck decided to speed past her, straight through a muddy puddle.
A meow sounded through her apartment, the clicking of claws on her tiled floor echoing. At least someone was happy to see her.
“Yes, I’m back” She mumbled as she crouched to the floor, running her hands through her cats silky fur. Instead of taking the route her friends took, settling down with a partner and maybe even having kids, she decided that work was more her thing. Meaning life was pretty simple for (Y/N)- simple, but lonely. All she had was her cat, Minx, but she managed to convince herself that was enough.
She stumbled into her kitchen, the time on her clock reading 11:35 pm. Damn, she didn’t even realize she was out for that long. It was too late for her to cook a full meal now- it would require too much effort. So instead, she settled on some chicken ramen and called it a night.
“Work you stupid thing” The girl hissed as she slapped her computer screen, the loading bar almost taunting her. She really wasn’t in the mood for this today. First her day off was stolen from her, then she got drenched in puddle water and then…she was called into work at 6am.
Why she went into this line of work was beyond her. She enjoyed it at first, but slowly she lost passion for it- and passion was important in a job like this. She was a reporter, a very well renowned one at that. You’d tune into your local news channel and see her name in block capitals. And her specialty? Heroes.
She was notorious for being pushy, stopping at nothing to get the interviews she desired. Hell, she even managed to score one with Endeavour.
“Ma'am, I’m really sorry to bother you but can you check this article for me?” One of her employees asked shyly, breaking her from her train of thought. It was her intern, Izuku, stood with a thick stack of paper tucked between his arms. He was young, much younger than any other intern she had hired before. But he had spirit- and that’s all that mattered.
“You’re not bothering me at all, in fact you saved me from breaking my computer” She smiled, happily taking the stack from his arms. In all honesty, he was one of her favourite employees she had. Young, intelligent, actually excited to do his job. She cleared her throat as she skimmed over the paper, taking in every detail.
“Hawks, huh? He’s very new to the hero world right?” (Y/N) hummed as she flicked through the pages, and he nodded his emerald haired head eagerly.
“Yep! He’s gained a lot of attention recently, and when I reached out to him- he said he’d be more than happy to do an interview!” He exclaimed, and she couldn’t help but chuckle at his enthusiasm. Grabbing her f/c coat from the back of her chair, she began walking- beckoning for him to follow her.
“C'mon then, kid. Let’s go meet him”
Turns out, Hawks was very happy to do an interview with her agency. He agreed to meet up with them in a local café, and as they were waiting she spotted Izuku chewing his nails anxiously.
“You nervous?” (Y/N) asked as she took a sip of her coffee, and he smiled at her sheepishly. She completely understood, she was nervous when she conducted her first ever interview. But she believed in him. She reached over and placed her hand on his shoulder, giving it a slight squeeze.
“You’ve got this” She grinned, and he exhaled. The door bell chimed and he stood up immediately, the hero they were waiting on walking in. He looked young- maybe around her age- and he carried himself in a very odd manner. Blonde, unkept hair that fell around his stubbly face. Large crimson wings that sprouted from his back. She didn’t even notice she was staring until Izuku cleared his throat.
“T-thank you so much for coming!” He greeted nervously, eagerly shaking the heroes’ hand. Hawks sent him a smile as he sat beside him, scratching the back of his head.
“Of course. Anything for your bosses agency” He grinned, and their eyes met for a split second. His bosses agency? So he knew who she was? He had read some of her works? They held the eye contact, his golden orbs softening- and she quickly looked away. Maybe this new hero was more interesting that she thought.
The sky had turned gold when they had finally finished up, it’s soft glow bathing them as they stepped out of the café. The interview had gone surprisingly well considering how little experience her intern had. He was evidentially anxious as he asked the first few questions, but that melted away very quickly. And after ordering him a taxi home, she was left alone with the hero in question.
“Thank you so much for doing that, Hawks. He was so excited when he came into my office earlier” The h/c haired girl smiled as she did up the buttons to her coat, but she still shivered. It had quickly turned cold, the breeze assaulting her as it blew through her. Hawks chuckled quietly as he ran a hand through his messy locks.
“It was my pleasure. The kid seems really into it” He smiled, and she nodded her head in agreement. Before she could say anything else, the phone on his belt pinged- and he rolled his eyes in response.
“Sorry, I’ve gotta take this. But I’m sure I’ll be seeing you around” He winked and in a split second, he was gone. What did he mean…he’d see her around?
A few weeks had passed since their initial interview with the winged hero, and in that time his popularity had grown massively. He was on the cover of local newspapers, he was featured in adverts for food products, he even had fangirls.
Speaking of, even they loved Izuku’s interview. Critics praised it for being so professional, so well put together. Which of course, made the boy beam. And has a treat, she decided to take him out for some ramen.
“This is so good!” He hummed happily with a mouthful of noodles, making her laugh. Her head was buzzing a little from the beer she had drunk to accompany her food, she could feel her face flush because of it.
“I’m glad, you deserved it” She grinned, and he shoved more food into his mouth in reply. Leaning back slightly in her seat she sighed, swirling the contents of her drink around in her glass. Since the interview, she just couldn’t help but think of Hawks. He was just so…so captivating. The door of the ramen shop creaked open, but she couldn’t be bothered to look up and see who it was.
“Can I get some chicken ramen, please?” A familiar voice sounded, and she heard her intern slam his chopsticks down onto the wooden table.
“Hey, you okay?” She quickly asked, his face bright red as he pointed towards the doorway. In all his glory stood Hawks, his gloved hands shoved into his pant pockets as he waited for his order- and Izuku jumped up from the table to go greet him. They exchanged a few words before the hero looked over at their table, smirking slightly- and they both walked over.
“Good evening” Hawks greeted, sliding into the seat beside Izuku, who was beaming. She smiled slightly as she put her drink down on the table, stretching slightly.
“Chicken ramen, huh? Not what I expected” She grinned as she nodded to his wings, earning a chuckle from him. (Y/N) was never any good at small talk, so she was happy to see that her small joke received a good response.
“Hey, I’m a hawk. There’s a difference” He teased back, leaning in his seat to get more comfortable. All whilst her intern looked between the two with a grin on his face. He had finished his bowl, and he seemed content.
“Thank you so much again for the interview! It did really well, so (Y/N) treated me to ramen!” He beamed, and Hawks smirked at her slightly. He folded his arms over his chest in a comfortable gesture.
“Oh yeah, she sounds like a great boss” The blonde replied, sending her a wink. Damn…so smooth. The waiter quickly brought over his bowl of ramen, and he quickly tucked in.
“Hey, Izuku, when do you need to be back home?” (Y/N) asked suddenly as she plucked up her bag from the seat beside her- and the green haired boy hummed in response, thinking carefully. The rest of the customers chatted happily amongst themselves, filling the shop in a comfortable atmosphere.
“Any time really!” He finally answered, and she smiled at how excitable she was. Pulling out her purse, she pulled out 5,000¥ and placed it on the table- enough to pay for all 3 of their meals and leave a tip for the workers. She beckoned for Izuku to follow her and before they could leave, she looked over her shoulder.
“I’m sure I’ll be seeing you around” She winked, leaving Hawks with a pink face.
The office had quickly turned dark since the rest of her workers left and when she checked her computer clock- she was shocked to discover that it was 11pm. So she gathered her things, threw her coat over her shoulder and turned off the office lights. It was cold and wet when she stepped outside, so she shivered and wasted no time making her way home.
Cars whirred past her as she walked across the wet pavement, willing her body to go faster. She just wanted to get home to her warm cat, warm bed and cold leftovers in her fridge. As she walked, she couldn’t help but notice the second pair of footsteps quickly approaching behind her.
‘It’s just nothing, you’re fine (Y/N)’ She thought to herself as she clutched her housekeys in her pocket. But as the footsteps sped up she knew that wasn’t the case. A hand suddenly smacked onto her shoulder and spun her around, and she sucked in a sharp breath.
“Hey, pretty lady” The stranger slurred, and she could smell the alcohol on their breath- making her shrink away even more. They leaned closer towards her and she quickly shoved them off, breaking into a sprint whilst they were distracted. Her chest heaved as she ran, contracting as she gasped for breath. One minute she was on her feet, the next- she felt herself falling.
She had tripped on a stray crack in the pavement, and she landed on the wet ground with a large thump. As she tried to scramble to her feet she could see the stranger gaining on her, their face contorted in anger.
“You bitch! You’re gonna pay for that!” They yelled, but before they could reach her- she felt herself being picked up, and she was pressed against something warm. The wind harshly whipped her h/c locks around her face, but she didn’t dare open her eyes. And before she knew it, tears began leaking down her face- staining her cheeks.
“Hey. It’s okay, you’re okay” She heard him coo as they landed on a nearby rooftop, but the tears wouldn’t stop. Her chest continued to heave as she tried her best to steady her breathing, all whilst Hawks rubbed her back gently.
“Let’s get you home” He whispered as he placed a kiss on top of her head, and all she could do was nod.
Keigo yawned as he stretched his arms, his legs up on the desk. He had barely slept last night after returning the journalist home. All he could think about was the possible outcomes if he had been late. Would she have gotten hurt? Would she even still be alive? But he didn’t want to think so negatively, so he shook his blonde head- as if to shake the thoughts from his mind. A knock sounded on the door, and he perked his head up.
“Yeah?” He called, signaling for the person to enter and they did. It was one of the agencies assistances, and in their hands was a large cup of coffee and a takeaway bowl of chicken ramen. An odd combination, but one he loved.
“These were left at the desk for you, sir. With a note” The assistant explained as they placed the items down in front of him before hurrying off. He plucked the note up with careful fingers, his face quickly heating up as he skimmed through it.
Thank you for last night, I really appreciate it. I don’t know how to properly express my gratitude, so I thought maybe you’d appreciate these.
Also, I booked a table for us tonight. At the same ramen shop as before. I hope to see you there.
- (Y/N) x
“You smooth, smooth journalist” Keigo grinned as he took a sip from the coffee, shaking his head once more.
(Y/N) tapped her foot anxiously as she stood waiting outside the small store. An hour had passed since their designated time slot, and she couldn’t help but feel sad. Maybe last night was just a one off. He was a hero after all, it was his duty to save people in need. He was probably too busy for her. As she was about to turn and leave with her head hung low, she heard heavy footsteps.
“I’m sorry I’m so late! There was this guy running around stealing handbags, and I couldn’t keep up!” Hawks exclaimed as he ran up to her, and she couldn’t help the smile that broke out on her face. He was holding a bouquet of roses in his hands, his usually messy hair slick back in a tidy manner.
“These are for you” He beamed as he handed them to her, and she happily accepted them. She even went as far as to stand on her tip toes and place a kiss on his freshly shaven face.
“Shall we go inside, Hawks?” She grinned, and his hand hovered over the spot she had kissed. He quickly recovered however, wrapping an arm around her waist as he opened the door for her with his other hand.
“Call me keigo”
The battle that ensued was deadly, it had her on edge. Keigo insisted on her staying out of it, he couldn’t bare to see her get hurt. But she wouldn’t take that for an answer, so she hung back with the medics and the other students. She wanted to be there for him- she wanted to help in anyway she could. (Y/N) knew her quirk wasn’t particularly strong, so did he.
One minute all was calm as they awaited news from what was happening on the battlefield. The next, chaos ensued- and medics filled the scene.
“(Y/N)! Get back!” She heard Tokoyami yell as a stretcher was maneuvered around everyone and finally placed on the dusty ground. They had never really spoken much before, she only knew of him due to the fact that Keigo had taken him under his wing and taught him everything he knew. And as she approached the stretcher, she understood why.
Lying there was Keigo…her love. Covered in bandages and burns peaking through in the places his skin was exposed.
“What happened to him?!” She cried as she rushed towards him, even though Tokoyami tried so desperately to hold her back. His heart hurt as he watched the scene, he knew how much Hawks meant to her.
“He…he got caught up in Dabi’s fire blast. His wings- they’re gone! They may never grow back!” He yelped as he struggled to keep hold of her, even Dark Shadow was trying his best to keep her contained. But she broke free from his embrace and she rushed towards the stretcher. Keigo’s eyes fluttered open slightly, looking around as best as he could. Until he spotted her. Her h/c hair bellowing behind her as she rushed towards him, her e/c hues filled with tears. And like an angel emerging from the heavens, she came to him- crouching beside him with her eyebrows knitted in concern.
“You’re okay now, it’s okay” She whispered, and that was all he needed.
“The marginalization of girls’ domestic labor is evident in the descriptions of work that enter the records of their lives. Virtually all girls had some domestic responsibilities. (One study in 1896 found that 83 percent of high school girls said they did some ‘‘general housework’’ or sewing on a daily basis, taking about an hour a day.) But this work was characterized by its partialness, by its incidental quality as one of many features which were intended to structure the lives and enhance the character of prospering girls.
…Like the ‘‘pert miss’’ in William Thayer’s book of admonition wondering, ‘‘How can a girl like me be orderly, when I have nothing to order?’’ middle-class Victorian girls learned that they could practice habits of ordering on their own wardrobes and their own rooms, their labor defined by its value in building their own character. And indeed, that was often how girls’ duties were defined: as the light work associated with keeping up of a private bedroom or with the genteel presentation of the household.
Emily Eliot’s chores, which were rarely featured in her journal, included sometimes making out a list of the soiled clothes (which were increasingly sent out to commercial laundries rather than done at home), organizing her shelves, and sometimes sewing. Martha Moore’s mother often called on her to arrange flowers for the parlors before she did her schoolwork. Lucy Breckinridge, like Martha Moore writing in the South during the Civil War, had the lightest of household chores because of the presence of black slave labor.
When she announced in her diary that she had ‘‘been a little more industrious and housekeepy this week,’’ she described chores remarkable for their seeming remoteness to the real work of the household. ‘‘I have crocheted bridle reins and breakfast mats, hemmed some ruffles, and made some ice cream and custard.’’ Sewing, especially ornamental needlework, was the prototypical girls’ work, redeemed by its suggestion of industry without urgency.
…When such household labor was in fact marginal, encouraged by advisers as ‘‘gratifying your mother in these little things,’’ and perceived by daughters as ‘‘sacrifice of my time and pursuits,’’ there is no wonder that girls did not take their responsibility to domestic labor entirely seriously, and sometimes chafed at or evaded those responsibilities. Especially when girls saw their house work as ‘‘helping mother,’’ a note of wryness or rebellion crept into otherwise implacable diarists.
Margaret Tileston, whose lifelong daily entries are notable for their flat, descriptive quality, revealed a saucy note in her contrast of her mother’s activity with her own quiet reading. ‘‘In the morning, Mother was very busy getting closets in order. I helped her a little, but not much. . . . Je n’ai rien à dire.’’ The next day, she noted that she ‘‘helped Mother somewhat by trotting up and down stairs,’’ her duties those of an automaton rather than a coworker.
…As Terhune suggested, when household work was defined as ‘‘helping mama,’’ even dutiful Victorian daughters felt infantilized and expressed rebellion. There were other circumstances, however, when a girl described her household work with acceptance, and sometimes even pride and a sense of accomplishment. This was when her labor was in fact irreplaceable, because she herself was filling in for an absent servant or an absent mother.
When the Baldwin family maid departed to nurse her sick cousin, daughter Jessie’s activities took a different turn from her usual genteel schedule. She wrote to a friend, ‘‘Now I’ll tell you what has been my occupation lately—Getting up at 5 a.m. cooking breakfast for H. and Papa at 7 a.m. washing the dishes at 8, dusting at 9, various odd things at 10, ditto at 11, and dinner at 12.’’ Jessie had inherited a full-time job.
For girls who already had full schedules, especially those who attended school, replacing a maid imposed real burdens. The sickness of her mother and her three brothers and the absence of a maid meant that Jessie Wendover’s friend Florence ‘‘has to do all the work and is completely discouraged about her lessons, she has so little time to study.’’ At the very least, it took a toll on a girl’s leisure pursuits, so that Florence Peck could win her competition with a friend in seeing who could read David Copperfield fastest, ‘‘for her folks are without a girl.’’
Daughters had a clear responsibility to replace mothers’ work when mothers became ill or were away, a responsibility which they accepted and sometimes celebrated. (When mothers died or were permanently incapacitated, girlhoods summarily ended.) Annie Gates’s mother broke her leg when Gates was twelve, and the girl commenced her ‘‘first experience in cooking,’’ a position which made her proud and which she ‘‘strove to prove’’ herself equal to, despite the disastrous results.
Mary Bartine, daughter of a wealthy New Jersey industrialist who employed several servants, noted that she had been ‘‘house keeper and sick nurse combined for the last few days,’’ when her mother had become sick. And when Eleanor Hooper’s mother was away, she wrote a friend, ‘‘I have been housekeeper and head cook and bottle-washer,’’ a phrase which she explained by allowing, that ‘‘although we have a capital servant who has been with us almost two years, I have heaps of work to do to keep everything up to the mark.’’
For seventeen-year-old Annie Cooper, a committed amateur artist whose family also employed servants, the managerial responsibilities of replacing her mother, away for the week in 1882, weighed less heavily. ‘‘I was housekeeper. Papa and I enjoyed it very much indeed, for I painted nearly all the time. and of course that was bliss for me.’’ The suggestion here is that for Annie, replacing her mother in her absence was less time-consuming than obliging her in her presence.
By the end of the century, cultural promoters of domesticity had almost given up on their efforts to reintroduce domestic apprenticeships among an urban elite. Instead, advice givers in periodicals found other ways to encourage girls to learn the skills of home work. The founding of clubs and the establishment of classes, like the writing of advice manuals themselves, were designed to encourage the practice of dying arts.
One Hamilton cousin prepared ‘‘peach creme’’ ‘‘for the cooking club,’’ in the context of a day which included reading, meeting with the Shakespeare club, a trip to town, another stint reading (this time Knickerbocker’s New York), and some crocheting, done while listening to the reading of another story aloud. Another girl organized a cooking club for the maid’s night off. A twelve-year-old wrote in to Harper’s Young People of her desire to belong to ‘‘the Little Housekeepers,’’ but lamented that she probably was ineligible because ‘‘I can’t cook much.’’ Even promotional schemes to restore the lost art of housewifery required at least a modicum of early experience.”
- Jane H. Hunter, “Daughters’ Lives and the Work of the Middle-Class Home.” in How Young Ladies Became Girls: The Victorian Origins of American Girlhood
five times the hermits reassured xb his reputation doesn’t matter to them & one time they didn’t need to
another fic in @martuzzio‘s space outlaw au! this was a bit of an in-between whilst i prepped for a bigger project. this time: exploring xb and his feelings towards his false accusation.
featuring: xb needs hugs, i promise he gets them, me trying to feel out voices, lots of reassuring hermits, they’re a big family okay, xb is Not Okay with his bounty and the effects it causes, but they’re there to help, some cute kids, when you have problems: lie in a pool, its angst with comfort, the usual.
warnings: people are mean, panic attack, minor violence, less minor off-screen violence (mentioned gun violence, no details), low self image, self worth issues, bad decisions made whilst possibly dissociating, i swear its happy at the end.
XB has never been one for public attention. He'd always been happy at his job. He minded his own business, enjoyed the research and helping people. Sometimes he even socialised with his co-workers, though that rarely extended outside of work. He lived a solitary life, away from the public eye, and he was happy with that. He had his lot. He didn't need anything else.
Then the accident happened and his world turned upside down.
Everything he'd built for himself, the comfortable life he'd made, fell apart at his feet. Suddenly he was to blame for the corruption of an entire planet. And he knew- he knew it wasn't really his fault. It was a complete mismanagement, barely even his department! But maybe if he'd paid more attention, worked faster, spoken out-
He can't change things now.
What followed was the most stressful period of his life. He watched as charges stacked up, already convicted in the public opinion. He went on the run, hiding on the half-dead planet and just trying to survive, really. He stopped keeping track of anything else, feeling sick as people demanded his head. His abilities saved him from two assassination attempts. He ran further, hid better.
Until he met the Hermits.
After all this time, he's not quite sure how he ended up joining them. He thought he was dead when he first caught sight of that emblem. This was it. The outside world had finally caught up. Then they helped him. Then he was on their ship. Then Xisuma was asking in a kind voice if he wanted to become one of them. A Hermit.
To tell the truth, if he knew the reaction it'd cause, he wouldn't have agreed. He would have said no, been dropped on a planet with a new identity, and gone on his way into obscurity. Instead, he said yes. He became a Hermit with a capital H. It felt good, at first. To be part of something like that. They had his back, they knew the situation.
The publicity didn't happen immediately. The Hermits were a smaller group back then. It took a short while until the rest of the universe caught up. Even now, he has no idea who first broke the story. One night, he falls asleep, lounging in the pool. In the morning he wakes up to a slander campaign.
Not against him. Against the Hermits. Because of him.
Hermits protecting planet destroyer, Hermits support massacre, Hermits criminal, Hermits, Hermits, Hermits, Him.
Joe is the one who finds him having a panic attack at the bottom of the pool. He's first aware of light touches against his skin, the water swirling in ways he doesn't expect. He opens his eye in a panic, but Joe is already shielding his face. He gestures a thumbs up and it takes all of XB's effort to remember what that means. He nods in a rush, realises Joe can't see that, and tugs him up instead.
They surface together. XB takes a strangled gasp of air, struggling lungs already unhappy. Joe guides him to the side, speaking firm instructions XB doesn't fully process but obeys all the same. Eventually, they sit at the edge of the pool. He can't feel the water around his legs. He can barely feel Joe's hand on his back, rubbing circles. He loses track of time completely.
Joe doesn't leave him.
He waits, his hand and unintelligible words a companion whilst XB fights for air. When XB can make out his counting, he tries to follow Joe's encouragement and take deep breaths. His heartbeat continues racing. He squeezes Joe's free hand tight.
Once he's finally confident enough, he mumbles, "Sorry." Joe makes an audible noise of disagreement. He places something cool in XB's hand. It takes sliding his finger around to realise it's his eye protection.
"Nothing to apologise for," Joe tells him. With his eye controlled, XB can finally see Joe's face. The Hermit is looking at him with a gentle calmness, water dripping from his skin and hair. Without the pounding in his ears, XB can hear them splash against the tiles. "I'm going to go out on one of Cleo's limbs here, and guess you saw the news." XB rubs at one of his fins with a nod.
"I shouldn't have joined you guys."
"I disagree," Joe replies. XB turns away. He kicks his legs just enough to create gentle ripples in the water.
"I've made a right mess of things. For everyone." Joe bloops, leaning onto his hand.
"Hardly more of a mess than before," he tells him. There's no doubt at all in his voice. No anger. "XB, you have to understand we knew what would happen when we took you on. We care about you. Not the opinions of the faceless masses. If we cared about that then we wouldn't get anything done." XB sighs, a drop of water falling from his fin.
"How can you be so calm about this?" He asks. He can't find anything else to say. Joe pats his back lightly.
"In the same way I was calm when False joined." He kicks his feet. "Things will be dramatic. It might feel like the end of the world. But sometimes you just have to trust Xisuma knows what he's doing. And I certainly think he did when he invited you." Joe pushes onto his feet, offering his hand for XB. XB takes it, trying not to use it too much. Joe is sturdy despite that. "This will pass," Joe encourages, "And you will always have a place here."
"That's a pretty bold statement." Joe doesn't let go of XB's hand. He leads them away from the pool, not caring about the trail of water as they go.
"And yet it's a true one." XB chooses to focus on the ground instead. He's...
He'll get back to Joe on that one.
It's not often XB leaves the ship. He has one of the higher bounties out of all of them. Close to False's, and she actually deserves her's. He was terrified of her until she patiently taught him how to handle weapons, not once becoming frustrated as he struggled. She's still terrifying, but at least she's on his side.
Keralis was the one who pestered him out this time. The promise of buying extra fruit had tempted him into the supply run. He just needed a partner in crime (no leaving the ship without one) and pretty please, XB, pretty please?
So now XB is stood in the middle of a store, scanning the shelves and checking his half of the shopping list. He worries his lip, standing and catching a woman staring at him out of the corner of his eye. He continues searching, but her stare doesn't let up. He finally turns.
"Um, excuse me?" He asks, tilting his head in genuine concern. "Are you-" He doesn't expect her to surge forward, fury written on her face.
"If you weren't with those filthy Hermits I'd have you." The woman shoves his chest, forcing his back against the shelves. He blinks, fins flicking in defence.
"You go and you murder an entire planet. Don't show a bit of remorse. Then you run and hide behind them like a coward." XB can feel eyes on him now, the entire store falling silent at the exchange. He thinks he might be trembling. He can't quite tell. The woman is up in his face. His hand itches to take his eye protection off, gently put her to sleep and run. But there's witnesses, there's so many people and- "Maybe I should just do it right now. Consequences be damned." Her fingernails scratch into his armour, and he nearly falls as she pulls him forward.
"Oh, wow wow wow wow wow, ma'am." XB has never been more relieved to see Keralis. He steps in between them, blocking her from taking XB any further. "Could you unhand my friend, please? You're not being very nice." To XB's horror, she doesn't, nearly dragging him into Keralis as she gestures.
"What authority do you have?" She demands. "Defending a murderer like this, you should be ashamed of yourself." Keralis holds his hands up, ears twitching very slightly.
"XB is a perfectly good person. No murderer in him. And we'd like to leave, please." There's a threatening hint to Keralis's usually bright tone. The hand around his arm is finally released.
She storms away with a shout of, "You'll get what's coming to you!" XB's legs jellify beneath him. Keralis is quick to get an arm around his shoulders, holding him up.
"Come on, back to the ship with you. That's enough adventure for today." XB nods, resting briefly on Keralis's shoulders. With a bit of effort, he keeps himself steady enough to follow Keralis out of the store. He tries to ignore the eyes that follow them, the tightness it causes in his chest.
"What about the shopping?" His voice is quiet even to him. Keralis shakes his head.
"It's okay. Shishwamy will send someone else to do it. No worries." XB tries to let that comfort him but it only makes his anxiety worse. Once again, things are messed up because of him. This will put them off schedule, someone else will need to come out, and they'll all know it's because of him.
"Maybe," he starts, hesitating and continuing. "Maybe I shouldn't wear my suit when I come out." Keralis chirps in concern, keeping them at the edge of the busy streets.
"And why do you say that?" XB looks at his arm, at the deep colours and intricate patterns and mechanisms that make up the suit.
"It might be easier if people don't like, associate me with the Hermits when I'm in public." Keralis frowns, a big expression on his face. He squeezes the arm around XB's shoulders.
"XB, sweetiepie-" Keralis nudges his head against XB's. The hair tickles enough to make him gently laugh. "-If you don't want to wear your suit for your own safety, that's okay! But don't you go taking it off because you're afraid of making us look bad. No siree! You're a Hermit, XB, and we love you."
"That doesn't change people's opinions of me." Opinions so strong they're willing to threaten him in daylight, and nobody steps in. Keralis chitters.
"Doesn't change people's opinion of me either! But I know they won't be upset if we have to avoid a planet, or I can't attend a meeting. We care about you. And I'm sure there's lots of people out there who care about you too." XB can't bring himself to respond to that. He knows Keralis is discriminated against for being a banshee. But it's just...
It's not the same as being blamed for destroying an entire planet.
XB doesn't go out in public again for nearly a year.
"I can't believe this," Doc announces as he storms into the room. XB twitches, instinctively listening whilst he tries to focus on his book. He's tucked in the corner of the common room, buried in beanbags and mostly out of sight. He can see the wall of Cleo's hair move as she looks up.
"What's happened this time?" She asks, placing her book on the table. She moves her legs so Doc can sit down. It's been a busy few months for the ship. They've had new additions. Doc is one of them. He's fallen quickly into helping Xisuma with negotiations, managing their various relationships with other groups. XB is kinda terrified of him, actually. But he trusts Xisuma and his judgement. He wouldn't do anything to put them in danger.
"A group has dropped their support of us because of the latest drama." Doc collapses into the seat, leaning into the cushions. "I can't believe it, man." XB presses his mouth together, his fins pressing back. The latest drama being people remembering he exists as a Hermit. Some news came out about the planet he- he didn't destroy. He's been avoiding going online but, apparently it's inescapable.
"Seriously?" Cleo asks. She scowls behind her hair. "That's so stupid." Doc hums his agreement.
"I just don't get it." He throws his robotic hand up as he talks, leaning towards Cleo. "I mean, I've barely seen the guy, but he doesn't seem that bad. Not bad enough to make a campaign like this." XB swallows. He puts his book down in favour of squeezing his hands into his robe. Cleo sighs, nodding.
"He really isn't. I don't know why they keep dragging it up." She grabs one of her legs, pulling it up close to her. She leans on her knee. "You should've seen him when he first joined, Doc. Guy looked ready to accept his death."
"He doesn't even look capable of doing that to a planet-" XB almost chokes, standing and abandoning his book entirely.
"Sorry I'm- I'm just leaving." He wraps his arms around himself, ready to stumble out of the room.
Cleo is faster, jumping up and grabbing his arm, pulling him back with a stern, "XB." She pushes him between them, sitting him down and reclaiming her spot. XB ducks his head, tucking his legs up in front of him.
"XB, sorry man, I didn't realise you were in here." Doc sounds apologetic. He's looking at XB with worry, sat a careful distance away to avoid crowding him in. XB still finds him a frightening sight. The un-moving robotics bore into him.
"It's okay," he murmurs, wrapping his arms around his knees. "I would've found out eventually." Doc frowns.
"I meant talking about you like you weren't here," Doc says. "I'm not usually a gossip. Though I would've preferred to tell you more sensitively."
"If we knew they were gonna drop us over some false allegations, X wouldn't have allied with them to start with," Cleo tells him, crossing her arms as she sinks back.
"They don't really know it's false though," XB points out. "I mean, it's not like this isn't a ship of criminals." He can't help his glance at Doc as he says it. Thankfully, the former mafia leader takes no offence.
"I barely know you, XB, and even I can tell it's stupid." Doc's accented voice portrays his emotions well. "You seem like you've been a big help to the Hermits."
"He has been." Cleo pokes his legs with her foot. “You're a Hermit through and through, XB. No escaping it now."
"Everybody here has only good things to say about you, man. I'm proud to call you a crew mate. Who cares what anyone else thinks?" XB smiles, relaxing more onto his knees. It's nice to hear but-
XB sighs as he flicks his fins back, fitting his helmet on snug and letting them pop into place. Keralis had to dip last minute, so XB is going to this meeting instead. He's not particularly intimidating, but hopefully he'll be able to defuse the situation if needs must. Two of the newer Hermits are coming as well. He watches as they suit up, making an odd pair. XB still isn't sure what to think of the group. Python vouched for them, but ex-Convex members? Especially such high ranking ones? And now one of them is going to a negotiation with them? Right.
"Is everybody ready?" Xisuma asks. There's a chorus of affirmatives. Doc stands next to Xisuma, files under his arms. "Let's get moving, then."
They keep as a tight unit, going over the plan once more. Xisuma and Doc will be doing the negotiating. XB and Wels, the other new Hermit, are there for protection. Scar, the ex-Convex, is there for luck. XB doesn't get it, and he's not going to ask.
The meeting falls apart from the moment they arrive, really. The crew they're meeting turn and whisper to each other, too quiet for XB's translator to pick up. Their admin steps forward, slit eyes threatening.
"You insult us," XB's suit translates. He can see Xisuma's suit plating shift as he tenses. He speaks in their language.
"I'm afraid I don't know where you're coming from," he replies, his voice controlled even in translation. Their admin steps closer. Any other person would've stepped away. Xisuma stands firm, Doc coming to his side.
"You bring a Convex member and a planet destroyer to our meeting." XB twitches, wanting nothing more than to sneak out of the room. "It is bad enough you grant them safety, but to have them in our negotiation?"
"Scar has denounced Convex, and the allegations against XB are false." Xisuma's voice is level, his posture not showing a hint of weakness. "Do you wish to negotiate or should we end this meeting here?"
"I recommend you leave with your lives while you can." XB shudders, fighting to stay still. He's thankful the helmet hides his expression.
"I recommend you don't threaten my crew." The temperature in the room drops with Xisuma's voice. The other admin steps back, eyeing them suspiciously. Xisuma turns to the Hermits, keeping an eye on the opposing crew. He nods. "We'll take our leave."
They exit at that, all of them keeping a watch that they aren't followed onto the ship. It's only when the door closes behind them that they relax. Wels darts to Scar's side. The ex-Convex collapses against the wall, trembling in his hold. XB looks away. That feels like something private. Definitely not something he'd expect from ex-Convex.
Apparently he's considered equivalent to the Convex. The thought makes him dizzy. Doc and Xisuma are already talking in low voices, recounting what happened and planning their next steps. XB is incredibly out of place. He glances around the room, trying not to feel jealous when he sees how close Scar and Wels are, how gentle Wels sounds, their helmets pressed together. XB swallows and slips out of the entrance hall before any of them notice.
He ignores anyone he passes until he reaches his room, closing the door behind him. His armour comes off, and he dives into the pool in the adjoining space. He sighs, lying face down in the water, barely feeling the fabric layer he left on. The liquid is a friendly pressure. Something comforting after all of... This. No matter what happens, he'll always have water.
Time passes as he lies there, blocking out the world outside the water. He tries not to think about how he's messed things up again. There isn't much else to think about, though. He doesn't understand why the Hermits keep him around when he causes so many problems. Lost deals, alliances, constant bad publicity. All tied to one person. Wouldn't it be easier to cut him off? XB could manage. Maybe he should do it for them.
"XB?" He jumps at the sound of an opening door, instinctively reaching up to cover his eye.
"Eye!" He calls, hearing the footsteps stop.
"Oh," Hypno's voice calls back. "Hold on, dude." XB follows the movement around his bedroom, until an object is placed in his hands with a pat. "There you go." XB pulls it over his eye, checking it's secure before looking. Hypno's crouched in front of him. He smiles, waving his fingers.
"How'd you know I was here?" XB asks, resting at the edge of the pool. Hypno sits down, not complaining about the wet floor.
"Guessed," he admits with a shrug. "They were worried when they realised you'd vanished." XB sighs, resting his chin on his arms.
"They seemed busy."
"Well, they are." Hypno nods in agreement. He crosses his legs so he can lean towards XB. "Xisuma doesn't want to stick around in case that crew turns hostile. But he was still worried about you."
XB frowns, "There's nothing to worry about."
"Is that why you're hiding in your pool?" Hypno asks. It's clearly not a question. XB slouches back into the water. "XB, it's not your fault, dude. You can't keep blaming yourself."
"Then who do I blame?" XB can't help but sound grouchy. If it weren't for him then that meeting might have worked out. Maybe they would've been fine with just Scar. Hypno leans back as he counts on his hand.
"The company for not taking responsibility, the management that decided to frame you, the other employees who were complicit, the news companies that were likely paid off, the ones that latched onto the story without researching it, the ones that keep bringing it up for quick clicks." Hypno turns to look at him. "Do I need to keep going?" XB shakes his head.
"I think I get the message," he replies. "But I'm not sure if it helps." Hypno nods without judgement.
"Then what do you think will?" He tries, instead. XB partially closes his eye to think about it.
"I'm not really sure." Hypno rubs his shoulder. The texture of dry skin helps ground him.
"That's okay." Hypno’s voice is friendly, reassuring. XB knows he's turned this into an impromptu therapy session. He thinks he needs it. "How about we try to work it out together? You're my friend, XB. I want you to be happy with us. I don't want you to feel guilty over things that aren't your fault." Hypno holds a hand out. "So, are you willing to work with me?" XB smiles, kicking up to meet his hand.
"Yeah. I think I can give it a shot."
They'd been outside, spending some time in the sunshine of the planet, then somebody-
XB squeezes his fins, continuing to pace the corridor outside the infirmary. Stress has closed the windows, needing to focus, and XB doesn't want to make anything worse. This is all his fault. Hypno's lying in there having emergency surgery because somebody wanted to kill XB. He finally falls against one of the walls as his legs give way, sliding to the floor with a quiet noise.
He formulates a plan in his head.
He's already been distant lately. This was the first time he'd hung out with Hypno in weeks, and look at what's happened. He can't be friends with people if he's going to hurt them. They'll understand. He hopes they'll understand.
He takes a deep breath.
His memories of the next hour are faint. He packs essentials into a bag. Leaves his suit and communicator neatly on his bed. He takes the emergency savings he keeps tucked away in his drawer, counting through without really taking it in. Though he writes a note, he doesn't remember what it contains. He thinks he stood in the doorway for a few minutes. Used some time to take in the room he's called home for so many years now. He really can’t remember.
Then he sneaks out, carefully unscrewing panels in the water filtration system, replacing them with care. He knows it like the back of his hand. He installed it, after all. The drop from the ship hurts his leg but nothing in his head registers it. He's lucky this is a big enough planet to park her. Means it'll be so much easier to get lost.
He wraps himself up in a coat, pulling it over his features. Some small part of him can't believe he's doing this. The Hermits are all he's known for years. They're his friends. But that's why it's so important he leaves. He survived on his own before. He can do it again.
He finds a room in a hotel for the night. The robotic receptionist doesn't question who he is, accepting the money and giving him the door key. He collapses onto the bed in a heap, realising he has no idea what he's going to do next. His plan kind of trails off here. Perhaps he'll hide out in this hotel until the ship leaves, but that's wasting money. It's probably better to head out for supplies, and get on a ship as far away as possible.
For today, he's exhausted enough to curl up under the covers and hide from the world. It doesn’t feel like he’s part of it right now, anyway.
There's a knock at the door.
He sighs, burying his face into the pillow. The knock only gets more insistent. Realistically, it's either the Hermits or somebody who's here to kill him. The fact they've not broken down the door yet suggests the Hermits. Well, the more responsible ones. XB keeps a hand on his eye strap either way. He's still in the rumpled coat.
He'll admit, he's surprised to see Xisuma in the doorway. The admin is wearing a cloak, his shadowed eyes nearly glowing in the darkness. He looks tired. When doesn’t he?
"Can I come in?" Xisuma asks, keeping his voice quiet. XB nods, stepping aside. If only because X should not be stood out in the corridor of some hotel in the same town someone tried to kill XB half a day earlier.
"I hope you're not here on your own," XB tells him, sitting on the bed. Xisuma finds a chair by the desk, sitting down tidily.
"Some of the others are nearby," Xisuma replies. "They checked it was safe first. Out of concern for you, as well." XB leans against the wall. "Hypno is okay, by the way. He was asking after you." XB sighs, tucking away into the coat.
"You're trying to make me feel guilty."
Xisuma shakes his head, "I'm letting you know. He was worried. We all were."
"He could have died because of me," XB doesn't try hiding it. Not from himself.
"Were you the one who shot him?" Xisuma asks. There's no change from his gentle tone.
"Then you weren't the reason." XB knows, logically, that's true. He wasn't the one who fired on him. He didn't frame himself, all those years ago. It's just hard to prove that in his head. Not when the consequences are right in front of him. When he’s spent so long thinking about everything he could’ve done differently.
"It feels like I am," he says, tilting forward on the bed. "I don't want to make the people around me unsafe anymore. Any of the Hermits." Xisuma nods, sitting up in the chair.
"If you want to leave, I won't stop you." XB swallows. He really can just leave. Just... Go. "But I want you to consider if that's what you want to do. Not because you want to protect us. We can protect ourselves. Do you want to leave?" XB digs his fingers into his leg.
"I'm not sure." Does he want to leave? He wants to keep the others safe. He wants to stop giving the Hermits his bad reputation. But they're still his friends. His family. He doesn't want to leave them, but he doesn't see a compromise.
"XB." He automatically looks to Xisuma when he says his name. "I am truly sorry I never addressed this with you before. I'm sorry it's been affecting you for so long."
"It's not your fault," XB replies. Xisuma shakes his head.
"I should have done more for you. And I'm willing to offer that now." XB’s fins twitch in confusion. "What do you say we try and clear your name?"
"You don't need to do that for me."
"I want to. The others want to." Xisuma crosses the room, sitting down in front of XB. "That's what I'm offering. You can stay with us. We want you to stay with us. And we'll help you achieve this. However we can."
"Nothing that would put you in danger," XB corrects.
"Nothing that would put the Hermits in danger," Xisuma agrees. XB shuts his eye, considering what that would mean for him. It's not like everyone would believe it. It's not going to solve all his problems. But it's a start. He can't just- keep feeling guilty forever. He's so tired of it. "You're family, XB. We want you happy." XB nods, leaning forward. His body is heavy with relief. Xisuma welcomes him into his arms.
"Okay," he agrees, "I want the same."
XB pauses at the sound of loud shouting coming from the park. He turns, watching Keralis jump to the fence delighted. Hypno laughs, gently pulling XB to watch.
"You can't get me!" A girl yells, dark cornrows pulled into a bun. She climbs onto the play equipment, standing with confidence at the top. Another girl runs to the ladder, her hand held in mimic of a gun. Her blonde hair is done in a braid.
"You can't run forever!" She follows it up with loud 'pew's, hanging off the ladder as she pretends to shoot.
"Yeah, I can put you to sleep!" Another boy climbs up the slide, his brown hair falling into his eyes. Keralis is chirping in excitement, watching with a wide smile. The chirps attract the attention of the blonde. She gasps, losing her grip on the ladder and falling backwards.
Keralis makes a surprised noise. He jumps the fence, rushing to the girl's side. XB doesn't see any parents around, following with Hypno.
"Hey, little madam, are you okay?" Keralis asks, crouching down by the girl. She sits up, bouncing forward with glee.
"You're Hermits!" She cries, voice high and squeaky. The other two kids are peering at them around the play equipment. Their mouths hang open.
"We are!" Keralis agrees. "And what's your name?" The girl's hands spread out across the spongy playground floor.
"I'm Flora!" She grins. "I like it 'cause it starts with an 'F', like False." Keralis nods, offering his hands to stand the girl up again. She wobbles on her feet, spinning to show off her plait. “And we have the same hair colour! It’s so cool!”
"Yeah, False is really cool, isn't she?" Keralis watches with a carefully controlled smile. It’s cute how he tries not to scare them. She jumps, holding her arms out wide.
"She's so cool! She's my favourite."
"Not as cool as Stress!" The other girl calls, running into her friend's back. She nearly sends them both sprawling over again. "She helps people, no matter what! I want to do that." Hypno joins Keralis, pulling XB over with him.
"A very noble cause," Hypno tells her. "I'm sure you'll be amazing." She puts her hands on her hips with a grin.
"Yeah. I'm gonna be the best doctor you've ever seen."
"Yeah, but Stress doesn't have four arms," Flora points out, mimicking each style of weaponry. "How cool would that be?" Keralis laughs, a series of cheerful chirps escaping with it.
"They're both cool, how about that?" He suggests, before it turns into a full argument.
"What about you?" Hypno encourages, holding an arm out for the boy. "Do you have a favourite?"
"His favourite is XB," the dark haired girl says, pointing at him. XB places a hand on his chest, unable to contain a squeak of surprise.
"Me?" He checks, not quite able to believe that. The three nod their heads. They peer up at him in a semi-circle, with bright eyes and curious faces.
"You can put people to sleep like Hypno-" the boy points at him, "-But you got such a cool backstory!"
"Mm-hm!" Flora nods quickly. "Framed by an evil company, joining the Hermits to do good across the universe!" She poses towards the sky, pumping her fist and bending a leg up. XB laughs softly, finding himself hiding behind his hand.
"Oh, oh, oh!" The boy jumps forward, looking between Hypno and XB. "Can you put us to sleep? That would be so cool!" Hypno laughs at that, joined by Keralis's squeaky giggles.
"I don't think that would be smart." He pats the boy's hair, smiling at XB. "But, if you've got something for us to sign, we could do that?" The girl claps, grabbing Flora's hands excitedly.
"We've got our cards!" She shrieks. She grabs the boy's hand. "Ben, come on, let's get them!" The trio run off across the playground, digging in their bags. XB can see the look Hypno and Keralis are giving him. He smiles, ducking his head in embarrassment.
"Don't you two start," he warns, hiding behind his hands. Keralis leans over, gently wiggling one of XB's fins.
"You're his favourite," he teases, voice sing-song. XB laughs, hiding even further.
"Noooo," he whines. Hypno puts his arm around XB's shoulders, pulling him into a side hug.
"And they're smarter than the press," he tells XB, his voice trying to sound serious, but playful all the same.
"Much, much smarter!" Keralis agrees.
"Only 'cause of you guys," XB reminds them. Keralis takes XB’s other side, pinning him between his friends.
“Nah.” Keralis rubs his fist against XB’s head. “You’re just finally getting the love you deserve.”
“Absolutely.” Hypno tilts around so XB can see his smile. XB ducks his head, embarrassed. But the feeling doesn’t leave him. Not as they talk to the kids, signing their cards and telling them (child friendly) stories of their travels. Or amongst the loudness of the other Hermits. His family. He’s a Hermit. And the people who care about him are the ones who matter.
Henlo how much would you take for a modern!au Vipurr ficlet with a prompt of your choice because i love them oh so very much and your writing is love, your writing is life 🥺❤
Letho works the door at the Cheshire Cat and is becoming increasingly attracted to the barman...
He wore a rainbow cat pin on his staff lanyard.
Letho saw it for the first time while he was dragging a handsy asshole out by the scruff of the neck. He'd groped two bartenders as they weaved through the mess of tables and chairs collecting glasses. There was no need for the police because Letho knocked him on his arse the moment he opened his mouth to complain.
Rainbow cat pin. It had bushy cheeks and stuck out from the rest of his uniform. Black slacks, waistcoat and white open-collared shirt. Letho knew his name - Gaetan - but his head used 'Him'. Capital 'h'. Because He drew Letho's attention in a way that didn't bear examining too closely.
At first it was easy to dismiss it as an appreciation for his skill at the bar. Gaetan turned and flipped the cocktail flask effortlessly - over his shoulder, behind his back - dazzling the punters and Letho alike. His face lit up when he ignited the surface of a shot or popped an umbrella at a jaunty angle across blended ice.
In fact, the Cheshire Cat - marketed unironically with the strapline 'we're all mad in here' - had become somewhat famed for its energetic bar staff. Almost as much as its line up of live music; everything from niche indie outfits to small name signed bands. Its shabby chic aesthetic attracted a huge spectrum of people and there was never a dull night.
It was a good gig. Letho's best since leaving the forces and getting his private security certification. He just had to… ignore these unwelcome knots that formed in his chest whenever Gaetan winked at him over the bar or slid a beer at him after a shift or sat down with him in the break room to ask what he was reading or -
Because Letho was not gay.
He'd had relationships with women. Didn't matter that they took effort and felt false. Just hadn’t found the right one, and he had to settle for whoever would put up with him. Scarred, covered in a tapestry of tattooed scales and tribal symbols - Auckes jokingly pointed out that people would think Aquaman was his better looking brother when the movie came out - and built like a grizzly bear on steroids, Letho didn't tend to attract the fairer sex on looks alone.
Sane ones anyway. Definitely attracted the crazy. A whole lot of crazy.
"You like it?"
Gaetan's voice broke through the mire of his reverie, and Letho frowned upon realising he'd been staring at the pin badge for at least five minutes. "I'm not…" He cleared his throat when Gaetan quirked an eyebrow. "Why a cat?"
They were in a pub called the Cheshire Cat. Letho was a fucking idiot and he regretted opening his idiot mouth -
"It's a long story."
"I've got time." Letho said it without even thinking. Usually he was a lot smoother. When you didn't have the looks, you had to rely on the personality. But it didn't matter, because he wasn't trying to flirt. So -
"Let me serve this bloke, and I'll be right back." Gaetan grabbed his towel from the bar and slung it over his shoulder before sauntering away. This close Letho could follow the way his narrow hips moved, and the way his slacks emphasised just how perfect his ass was. He pulled his eyes away to survey the floor. A quiet night. Not a lot to distract him.
Although he wasn't sure an all out brawl would've dragged him away from Gaetan when he returned. It didn't help that his smile was so charming; it set his turquoise eyes alight. Of course they were turquoise. Why settle for one colour when you could have a mix of two? Because Gaetan, it turned out, was the kind of man that didn't enjoy the mundane or the simple.
The cat was left over from his time as a stripper. He moved as gracefully as a feline, apparently. Letho nearly choked on the beer at his lips - Gaetan's silent acknowledgement that his shift was over - and murmured an apology. The cat in question just grinned - that massive fucking beaming toothy smile that made Letho's lips tingle with desire to - , ah fuck, no, not into men. Gaetan listed off his other former jobs; plumber, electrician, carpet salesman, social worker, teaching assistant… "I like people. But I get bored easily."
"You've been here a while." Letho remarked, trying to avoid looking down at that open-necked collar flaunting the beginnings of a muscular chest.
"Yeah. Lots to hold my interest." Gaetan glanced up from the glass he was drying, and realised his pointed remark had sailed right over that shaven dome. "Come on then. I've heard the others call you Viper. What's the story?"
Letho told him. About spending most of his adult life in the special forces, leaving to find some stability and ending up in private security because it was something familiar. He felt adrift though. Without focus or purpose, and he wasn’t really sure what was missing. Gaetan listened, disappearing occasionally to draw a pint or mix a cocktail. Letho's own hand never seemed to be empty, and by the time he stepped out into the cold night air, his head was swimming.
Talking to Gaetan was so easy. Letho found a reason every shift. He was funny, quick-witted; his relaxed manner put Letho at ease even when the customers were being dickheads and the music was awful. They started spending their breaks together deliberately; reading, Sudoku, playing cards or chatting.
Letho tried not to think about how the warmth in his chest didn't appear around his other male friends, only Gaetan.
He tried not to think about how he fantasised about that bright smile when he was in bed, his hand around his prick, trying to focus on the porn on his phone rather than thoughts of what that tight ass would feel like.
He tried not to think about how disappointed he was when their shift patterns changed for a month and Serrit took over Gaetan's slot. Or how happy he was when that familiar grin was back again.
He tried not to think about the way Gaetan answered Letho's tentative questions about his sexuality. How did he know? When did he know? Did he have a type - ?
He tried not to think about the way Gaetan touched the tops of his hands when they were on the bar, or hugged him goodbye, or complimented his new suit or flirted with him relentlessly and openly. And how much it made Letho preen. No one complimented him. No one was ever remotely nice to him. But Gaetan genuinely meant it.
He tried not to.
But he did.
So the night when Gaetan's shift ended and they drank some shots and Gaetan's hand slipped into his and pulled him out into the night air and pressed him gently back against a wall and -
His body was warm. And firm. It wouldn't break under Letho's hands.
It felt so -
The kiss stole Letho's breath away. Lips hot, and wet, and good. Tongue as skilful in passion as it was with words when it licked into his mouth. The quiet rumble of a pleased groan when Letho’s hands gripped his waist and pulled him close.
It felt so -
The brush of stubble across his jaw as soft lips pressed beneath his ear. The whisper of reassurance that melted every coil of tension in his shoulders.
It felt so -
Letho walked Gaetan home, his mind in disarray, but still holding the smaller hand securely in his thick fingers. Said good night to him at his door and took another kiss to end their farewell. The tender brush of fingers down his cheek and a promise to take it at Letho's pace if that was what he wanted made the warmth balled in his chest spill through the rest of his body.
The next shift Gaetan wasn't there. Another change. The swell of disappointment ebbed away when Letho found a small envelope with his name on it waiting behind the bar. It contained a small note and a pin badge. A rainbow snake.
“Took me ages to find one. Hope you like it.”
Letho pinned it to his jacket lapel - no ties or lanyards for security - and wore it with pride. He wasn't sure whether these were his colours yet or really what they meant, but they were Gaetan's, and Letho knew one thing for certain...
His boyfriend wore a rainbow cat pin.
Chapter Two: Secret Love Songs
Always Golden Masterlist
Harry was on Ashley’s mind, it’s all she could think about, the way Will was with him, the way Harry tried to defend himself without causing conflict. It was all she could think about, as she stood at the kitchen counter, stirring the sugar into her tea. “Morning gorgeous, sleep well?” Will asked, snaking his arms around her waist as he stood behind her.
“Fine, yeah,” She sighed, “I’ve got to get Daisy ready.” She told him, pulling away from his embrace and taking her mug of tea upstairs, after working on the breakfast show for almost three years, you would think she’d be used to the insanely early mornings, but suffice to say, she wasn’t. She got Daisy fed and dressed, before doing the same for herself, leaving the house to drop Daisy off at nursery on her way to work, without so much as a goodbye kiss for Will.
Once she had dropped Daisy off she hopped on her regular tube into work, having moved to North London at the beginning of the year, the journey was far more enjoyable. “Morning Ro,” Ashley smiled as she buzzed herself into the offices.
“Morning Ash, how are you on this fine morning?” He replied.
“Not bad, you seem very cheery.” Ashley said as the duo made their way into the studio.
“It’s a brilliant day, it’s Friday, Harry’s dropped a new song-”
“Has he?” Ashley asked, not aware of this brand new information.
“You do have twitter don’t you? The fans were going crazy about it this morning. We’re playing it on the show later, you can hear it then.” Roman explained.
“I had no idea, me and Will were binge watching netflix last night. Guess I’ll hear it first on the radio.”
“Good morning, you’re listening to Capital Breakfast with me Roman Kemp and Ash Hanson. We’ve got some great music to come your way this morning, with some shiny new releases too.” Roman said into his microphone.
“That’s right, for the first time on the Capital network this is the brand new single, Lights Up by Harry Styles.” Ashley sat back in awe, admiring how much Harry’s sound had matured, the song itself was a masterpiece and she was so proud of Harry for being so honest in his music again. She quickly pulled out her phone, hesitant to send him a message of congratulations, but in the end she did.
Harry lay anxiously in bed, staring at his phone screen as more and more notifications pinged onto his screen. He didn’t bother to open them until he saw Ash’s name pop up on his screen, he opened it to see a text from her, his heart now full of joy; H, it’s incredible, you never fail to amaze me, I’m so incredibly proud of you my rockstar, love A x
For the first time in almost two years, he felt at peace, for it seemed his Ash had forgiven him, she was ready to move on, as was he. In a haste he replied quickly; Do you want to come for dinner at mine later? I’ll cook our favourite, H x
Ashley wasn’t expecting him to reply so quickly, and she wasn’t expecting the reply she got either. For Harry to invite her over, when until August they hadn’t seen each other for two years it seemed like a big deal. She was meant to be going out with Will and Daisy, but they could do that any night. Sounds like a lovely idea, I’ll bring a bottle of something, shall we say 7pm? x
Ashley wasn’t really sure what she was doing, or why she had agreed to it, but she cared for Harry more than she cared for their animosity. She found herself looking back through old photos on her phone, pictures of Harry and Daisy, pictures of Ashley and Harry at various one direction shows, along with some of her favourite pictures of Harry she had taken over the years.
[insert pinterest picture]
“So this is a girl from work you're meeting up with tonight?” Will asked, sat on Ashley’s bed as she curled her hair. He was meant to be staying the night after their family trip out for dinner, but Ashley decided to put that on the back burner.
“Yeah, her boyfriend’s been cheating on her, she found out last night.” Ashley lied, somehow thinking up a complex web of lies was easier than explaining she was going for dinner with Harry.
“Couldn’t you just go another night?” Will asked, massaging her shoulders.
“She needs me now Will, they were together for almost seven years, and he goes and shags her best mate. She’s distraught, we can go out literally any other night of the week.” Ashley explained, topping up her lipstick, “How do I look?”
“Probably just as well you’re meeting up with this girl from work, if there were lads about I wouldn’t want them to so much as glance at you.” Will’s tone surprised her, it was almost territorial, she knew what Harry was like, he was a sucker for dishing out compliments, and Will would absolutely hate him for it.
“Well Holly is very much straight, so there’s no worries there.” Ashley assured him as she buckled up her heels, checking herself in the mirror, the sheer black shirt over a bralette with a leather mini skirt was a risk, but she felt confident, and it was only polite to make an effort for Harry. “I should head off now, I’ll just say bye to Dais.” Ashley made her way into the kitchen where Daisy was munching on fish fingers and potato faces. “Be good for Will my lovely, I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Have a good evening baby, love you.” Will whispered, kissing her out of nowhere.
“See you later.” Ashley smiled, before leaving her flat promptly.
In all the years Harry has lived in his massive Hampstead home, Ashley had never got used to the sheer size of it. She felt lucky that she could afford a two bedroom flat in Hackney on just her wages, but this was something else. She rang the buzzer and the gates swung open almost immediately, she made her way up the crazy long driveway, her heels crunching into the gravel. As she arrived at the door, Harry was already there waiting for her, dressed in a shirt, only buttoned halfway of course, with a pair of loose fit trousers, “Don’t you look lovely?” Harry smiled, greeting Ashley with open arms, it had felt like an eternity since Harry had embraced her, his arms made her feel safe in the same way they always had.
“You don’t look too bad yourself, Styles.” Ashley smiled up at him, “Oh I bought wine,” She continued, realising that they had slowly become lost in each other’s gaze.
“Oh right, thank you, come through to the kitchen.” Harry stuttered, taking the bottle from her and leading her into the dimly lit kitchen. “Do you want a glass then?” He asked, taking two from the cupboard.
“Oh of course! Feels like an eternity since I’ve properly let my hair down.” Ashley replied, kicking off the heels that were already giving her blisters.
“Is Will not the partying type then?” Harry asked, sliding her glass to her.
“Do we have to get into that again?” Ashley sighed, remembering the fallout on her Mum’s birthday.
“I’m sorry,” Harry held his hands up, “He’s definitely jealous though.” He smirked.
“What’s there to be jealous of?”
“Our inexplicable connection,” Harry smiled, “Anyway, this food isn’t going to make itself.”
“So what are we having?” Ashley asked.
“Which is?” Ashley teased.
“My homemade roast dinner.”
“Is the right answer!” Ashley shouted.
“I don’t think I’m going to need to eat for another five years after that,” Ashley announced as the pair took a seat on Harry’s massive sofa.
“I do my best,” He smiled, “So how’s life been?”
“Busy, work’s chaotic as always, but I love it, me and Dais moved to Hackney at the beginning of the year, Lou and Lux literally live two doors down from us which Daisy loves. She started nursery last month, she loves it so much, she’s such a little performer, look at this.” Ashley pulled out her phone, turning it to Harry, it was a video of Daisy dancing to a One Direction song that was playing in the middle of a supermarket, she looked up to see Harry wiping his eyes, “Hey, why are you getting like that for H?”
“I was such an idiot, I let you down, both of you,” He sniffled, “I missed all the important bits, when she was born I promised you I’d protect you both, and what did I do? I ran away at the first sign of trouble.”
“I don’t blame you, at the time I was mad at you, but I could never stay angry at you, we both know that.” Ashley assured him, taking hold of his hand, “You will always be my best friend, till my very last breath, I promise you that.”
“What would Will have to say about that?” Harry asked.
“Why should his opinion matter? You’re part of my life, and that shouldn’t hinder our relationship in any way at all.” Ashley assured him.
“Do you love him?” Harry asked out of nowhere.
“Of course I do, he makes me happy, and he’s great with Daisy.” Ashley couldn’t help but feel as though she was lying to Harry, she cared for Will, of course she did, but even eight months into their relationship, she hadn’t said that he loved him off her own back.
“As long as you’re happy, I’m happy.”
Hours had passed and Harry and Ashley had been talking non-stop, about life when they were teenagers, life now and everything in between. “Do you want to hear some music from the new album?” Harry asked.
“Are you sure? I know how much of a perfectionist you can be.” Ashley replied.
“I wouldn’t be asking if I didn’t want you to hear it,” Harry led Ashley to his studio, a room in the house that Ashley had never really spent much time in. He pulled up some of the tracks, playing an upbeat one first, Harry sat back in his seat, trying to read Ashley’s emotions. The lyrics echoed through the room, “You’re so golden, I'm out of my head, and I know that you're scared, Because hearts get broken.”
“It’s beautiful H, all of it is.” Ashley told him, Harry’s expression was lifeless, like he didn’t want to have to tell her the truth about something, “Wait hang on, no, surely not,” Ashley was slowly piecing together the truth, “Please tell me that song is not about us.”
“I can’t lie to you Ash,” Harry whispered.
“No, don’t do this, things are alright between us now, this doesn’t need to happen.” Ashley muttered as she slowly stood up,
“You can’t tell me you don’t feel the same way Ash, you can’t tell me you haven’t thought about it too.” Harry sighed, following after her as she made her way from the studio into the hallway where she left her jacket and shoes.
“We can’t do this Harry, we can’t be those people.” Ashley told him forcefully.
“We could be though, deep down you know it too.” Harry replied softly.
“Harry, I know how this works, you find someone, its sunshine and roses for a couple of months and then one day you shatter their heart into a million pieces.” Ashley cried, tears streaming down her cheeks, “And I’m not going to let that be me.”
Ashley slept badly, the following morning she woke up to the sound of Daisy’s hysterical laughter coming from the kitchen, she threw on the first hoodie she could find and made her way downstairs to see Will and Daisy making cupcakes. “Morning you two,” She smiled, filling the kettle up with water.
“It’s the afternoon,” Will replied bluntly as he helped Daisy ice her cupcakes, “You got back late Ash, I was worried about you.”
“Holly needed me there, she got drunk and I put her to bed.” Ashley lied.
“Could’ve texted me though.” Will replied,
“My phone died.” Ashley explained, pouring herself a cup of tea.
“Yeah I realised, hence why I put it on charge,” He unplugged her phone and slid it forcefully across the counter to her, “Might want to check your messages, a certain someone was really concerned whether you got home last night.”
Ashley’s heart fell to the pit of her stomach, “Dais go play in your room for a bit please.”
“But I’m busy.” Daisy replied.
“Just go please poppet,” Ashley smiled, causing Daisy to hop off her chair and run upstairs to her room.
“So are you going to tell me why he wants to know you got home safely?” Will asked.
“I saw him last night.” Ashley whispered.
“So Holly doesn’t exist?”
“I didn’t tell you, because I knew it would make you angry,” Ashley explained.
“Well how do you think it makes me feel that you lied to me?”
“He invited me for dinner, it was just two old friends having a catch up, nothing more than that.” Ashley assured him.
“I don’t know whether I believe you.” Will huffed.
“Will I promise you, nothing happened, we ate dinner, talked about old memories, that's it.”
“Fine, if that's the truth, I believe you. Just don’t go doing stuff behind my back again.”
Some more letters from March 1814
March 1814. The French empire has four more weeks to go. Murat weather forecast for Northern Italy: still unsettled and changeable.
From the memoirs of Colonel Maceroni, Volume II:
On the occasion of Lord Bentinck's applying to Murat for the cession of Leghorn and Pisa, as above stated, it was through the remonstrances of the Austrian Count Mier, and of other diplomatists of the allied powers, that Lord Bentinck withdrew his demand, and appeared quite reconciled, friendly and respectful towards the king. This induced the latter to give implicit faith in the victories of Napoleon recounted in the bulletins, and exaggerated by the French officers who still remained in our army, and about the king's person. The king having now had so many evident proofs of the insincerity of the allies, which it is not necessary for me to recapitulate, now made a last attempt to join with Prince Eugene. He therefore deputed to him the Marquis Livron and Colonel Desmolands, but the Prince, more influenced by his personal animosity towards Murat, than by a desire to serve the Emperor, who has since said so much about his fidelity, not only refused to listen to the proposal, but found means of acquainting Marshal Bellegarde with the occurrence!
From DuCasse, Memoirs and Political and Military Correspondence of Prince Eugene, Vol. 10
Eugène to Murat, Borgoforte, 3 March 1814
Sire, Your Majesty is informed of the setbacks recently suffered by the corps of General Nugent; they are considerable.
This is the moment when I desire more than ever to know the definitive intentions of Your Majesty. I must adjust my movements accordingly. I therefore beg Him to tell me what I have to hope or to fear from His army.
I will not permit myself to put before him the reasons which he has for declaring himself frankly for the cause of the Emperor, I limit myself to asking him to be so good as, at least, to have his army take positions which do not impede my undertaking for the interests entrusted to me.
A certain number of troops belonging to Your Majesty have been found in Parma. I ordered that they be treated well and that they be set free; they were to be sent back to you the same evening.
The three divisions which operate on the right bank of the Po have orders to put themselves in communication with me through Borgoforte. I flatter myself that Your Majesty will want to put no obstacle in the way.
I hope for a favourable response from Him. I dare to ask for a precise answer. The estrangement with the Austrians must finally allow Your Majesty to listen to his interests and his heart and to reveal himself as that which, I have no doubt, he has not ceased to be.
From DuCasse, Memoirs and Political and Military Correspondence of Prince Eugene, Vol. 10
Murat à Napoléon (sans date)
Votre Majesté court des dangers ; la France est menacée jusque dans sa capitale; et je ne puis défendre ni l'un ni l'autre, je ne puis mourir pour vous! et l'ami le plus affectionné de Votre Majesté est en apparence son ennemi! Sire, dites un mot, et je sacrifie ma famille, mes sujets; je me perdrai, mais je vous aurai servi, je vous aurai prouvé que toujours je fus votre meilleur ami. Je ne demande dans ce moment autre chose, pourvu que le vice-roi vous fasse connaître ma conduite... Les larmes qui remplissent mes yeux m'empêchent de continuer ma lettre. Je suis ici seul au milieu d'étrangers; je dois cacher jusqu'à mes larmes; cette lettre vous rend entièrement, Sire, le maître de mon sort. Ma vie est à vous. Aussi bien avais-je fait le serment de mourir pour Votre Majesté; si vous me voyiez et si vous pouviez vous faire une idée de ce que je souffre depuis deux mois, vous auriez pitié de moi.
Aimez-moi toujours. Jamais je ne fus plus digne de votre tendresse; jusqu'à la mort, votre ami.
Murat to Napoleon (undated)
Your Majesty is in danger; France is threatened even in her capital; and I cannot defend either of them, I cannot die for you! and the most affectionate friend of Your Majesty is apparently His enemy! Sire, say a word, and I sacrifice my family, my subjects; I will lose myself, but I will have served you, I will have proved to you that I was always your best friend. I do not ask for anything else at this moment, provided that the Viceroy makes my conduct known to you... The tears filling my eyes prevent me from continuing my letter. I am here alone amongst strangers; I must hide even my tears; this letter makes you, Sire, the master of my fate. My life is yours. If you could see me and imagine what I have been suffering for the last two months, you would feel sorry for me.
Love me always. I was never more worthy of your tenderness; until death, your friend.
This is heartbreaking. And I fear, Napoleon did not get it at all. Judging from his reaction below, he probably assumed Murat was faking it.
From DuCasse, Memoirs and Political and Military Correspondence of Prince Eugene, Vol. 10
Napoleon to Eugene. Soissons, 12 March 1814
My son, I am sending you a copy of a most extraordinary letter I have received from the King of Naples.
At a time when I and France are being assassinated, such feelings are truly inconceivable. I also receive the letter which you write to me with the draft treaty sent to you by the King. You can see that this idea is madness. However, send an agent to this extraordinary traitor, and make a treaty with him in my name. Do not touch Piedmont or Genoa, and divide the rest of Italy into two kingdoms. Let this treaty remain secret, until the Austrians have been driven out of the country, and 24 hours after its signature the king declares himself and falls upon the Austrians. You can do everything in this sense, nothing must be spared in the present situation, to add to our efforts the efforts of the Neapolitans.
Afterwards, we will do what we want; for, after such ingratitude and in such circumstances, nothing binds. Wanting to embarrass him, I gave orders that the Pope be sent, by Piacenza and Parma, to the outposts. I let the Pope know that, having asked as Bishop of Rome to return to his diocese, I have allowed him to do so. Take care, therefore, not to commit yourself to anything in relation to the Pope, either to recognise him or not to recognise him.
I assume this undated letter by Murat also is the »note« Eugène was so furious about in an earlier letter, when he called Murat “totally nuts now”, but which he still sent on to Napoleon. Apparently, it did not go over too well with that one either.
From Helfert, »Joachim Murat«
Mier to Metternich (postscript)
Bologna this 6th of April 1814.
My Prince! I have been informed by a reliable source that about mid-March the Viceroy had made proposals to the King of Naples for an arrangement between them concerning Italy.
The King listened to them but took no action on them. Some Neapolitan generals, who had taken it into their heads to reunite Italy and put the King of Naples at the head of the Italians, continued to haggle and used all possible means to get the King to adopt their plan. They argued that for its realisation it was necessary to come to an agreement with the Viceroy.
Things remained as they were until Bentinck arrived in Livorno. A few days before the King had received a letter from Campochiaro announcing the refusal of England to accede for the moment to our treaty of alliance, and the difficulties of Russia and Prussia on the same subject. His whole report was so stitched as to inspire H. M. with great distrust of the views of the Allies in His regard. At the same time His Majesty was forced to ask Marshal Bellegarde to recall and replace General Nugent in the command of the Austrian division, in order to put an end to the continual gossip and harassment.
This unfortunate combination of circumstances, all designed to annoy His Majesty, was not lost on the Viceroy, and he rightly considered the moment favourable to renew his proposals. Bentinck's conduct served him wonderfully, and the King, pushed to the limit, believing himself to be sacrificed, decided to enter into talks with the Viceroy. The Duke of Gallo spoke out strongly against this step, but he was not well supported by the other people surrounding His Majesty. M. Generals Carascosa and Livron were sent on several occasions to the Viceroy's headquarters. In this time I had been near Marshal Bellegarde; we were not unaware of all that was going on. Lord Bentinck maintained by the positive data of the bad faith of the King of Naples the necessity of treating him as an enemy; but Marshal Cte Bellegarde knowing the position and the state of our army, foreseeing the unfortunate consequences which would result if we had the Neapolitans against us, and not wanting and not being able to take upon himself the decision of an affair of such importance, was firmly opposed to it, and we decided that it was necessary to prevent by all possible means that the King should throw himself on the side of the French.
The arrival of General Balascheff to sign a treaty of alliance, the reassuring statements Lord Bentinck was authorised to give in writing to the King about the British Government's feelings towards him, of which he had hitherto made no use, and more than all this the certainty I had that the Queen, whom I had warned of the turn affairs were taking here, would make up her mind to come and rejoin the King, gave me hope that S. M. return to himself, return to his commitments and duties, and that everything would be arranged amicably. The state of the Queen's health and the position of affairs in the kingdom of Naples did not allow her to come to Bologna, but she sent two persons of confidence to her august husband with letters and verbal declarations so firm and energetic, threatening Him to leave Him, to separate His fate entirely from hers, and to make the Neapolitan government take the course which its true interests required, if He ever dared to dishonour Himself by failing to keep His engagements with Austria (which would bring upon His kingdom inevitable misfortunes), that they produced all the effect that could be hoped for. The King acknowledged His wrongs, was ashamed of them, cut off all communications with the Viceroy and declared himself firmly unwilling to hear any more about them.
From that moment on things took a different turn here, and it is to be hoped that all will go well. On the 7th of this month the King will have an interview with Marshal Bellegarde at Revere, where the plan of operation will be discussed and decided. He is in the best of spirits; I hope that this time we will be able to make the most of it. For more than a month I have been endeavouring to persuade him to hand over the command of his troops to Marshal Bellegarde, and for his own sake to return to Naples. It was the only means of putting an end to all the mistrust, all the cabals, of ensuring us of Him to provide a unity to the operations of the two armies. I had asked the Queen to assist me in this respect. She entirely approved my project and made it agree to the King who is decided to give the command of His troops to Marshal Bellegarde as soon as the Viceroy will have been forced in his position on the Mincio. Once the King is in Naples, under the supervision of the Queen, we can be at peace about His conduct. I have the honour etc.
Calling in the cavalry on the cavalry general: Caroline. Not trying to be disrespectful but Mier does sound a lot like a nursery school teacher running out of steam and patience with a toddler in his care. »That’s it. I called his mom.«
King: Rex x Reader
Today was unlike any other day in Villeneuve, the capital city of your planet Dalmorth.
Though it was a fairly large planet with a population in the hundreds of millions and various biomes, involvement in the war between the Separatists and the Republic seemed almost inexistent. In the early days of the clone war, you chose to align Dalmorth with the Republic. They exchanged protection of your people when traveling between planets for a safe resting place when traveling to wild space, since Dalmorth laid in the middle of the outter rim. The only condition was that you wished for these terms to be private.
You stared out your palace window at the wave of droids slowly approaching. The last thing you wanted was the be the Queen of Dalmorth during Separatist invasion, but that's exactly where you found yourself.
Before you knew it, Republic forces were on their way to Dalmorth, upholding their promise to protect your people. You ran your hands though your hair and made your way to the throne room, taking a seat where you mother once sat. Dozens of royal guards protected the room both inside and out, but they were never trained to fight droids. One of your guards informed you of an incoming transmission from the Separatist leader. You nodded at him to accept it.
The hologram showed a tall menacing looking man with a well trimmed beard and a lightsaber on his waist. He introduced himself as Count Dooku, Sith Lord. You swallowed your response of fear and asked bitterly what he wanted with your planet. It was exactly what the Republic had come for about a solar year ago. As the Sith Lord kept rambling along about why he needed your planet, you anxiously awaited the arrival of the Republic. You didn't want war on Dalmorth, but that was almost unavoidable at this point.
You respectfully asked Count Dooku to have his troops retreat while you discuss terms of negotiation with him, and ordered your guards to the outskirts of the palace to escort Dooku to a room where he could be quartered overnight.
"You highness. The Separatist forces have been sent back to the command ship except for a single platoon requested by the Count for his safety. The Republic forces should be arriving soon," you most loyal guard informed you.
You nodded, "Thank y- Wait. A Separatist command ship?"
"I'll alert the Jedi," he quickly responded, hurrying out of the room. You slumped into the throne and dragged your fingers along the intricate design of the woodwork, the thought of war on your planet tearing you apart. Your eyes glanced up at the oil painting of your parents on the wall, the former King and Queen of Dalmorth.
"I wish you were still here," you whispered, closing your eyes and taking a deep breath. The horrific images of the accident flashed before your eyes before you opened them. All you wanted right now was their guidance. Dalmorth hasn't been at war in over three centuries, and that was coming to and end before your eyes.
Trying not to fall asleep on the throne, awaiting the Jedi's arrival was nearly impossible. In an effort to pass time, you scrolled through the holochannels until a game of bolo ball caught your attention. Before the match ended, you were alerted of the Jedi's arrival.
"Finally", you mumbled under your breath, turning the match off and straightening your posture upon the throne.
"Your highness," the one Jedi announced, pulling down his hood, "My name is General Obi-Wan Kenobi, and this here is General Anakin Skywalker. We are here to insure the safety of your people during this separatist invasion."
"Will my planet remain beautiful as it currently is?" You asked, the landscape of Dalmorth being your favorite part of the planet.
The Jedi glacned at each other with discomfort in their eyes. They knew keeping minimal damage could always be a struggle when fighting the droids. "We will try our hardest," Kenobi nodded.
"Thank you," you grinned, bowing your head slightly, "and also, generals, one of the leaders of the Separatist army is currently being quartered in the palace. He said he wanted to negotiate terms of aligning with the Separatists. I do not condone this and I fear we will no longer be faking neutrality."
The generals' faces dropped, "Who is this leader?"
"He called himself Count Dooku," you shrugged, not knowing of the grave mistake you've made.
"Your highness, you have a safety bunker, correct?" General Skywalker asked, moving his forearm to his face.
"Yes, my guards can take me there if you need-"
The General shook his head, "I'm going to send one of my best men to protect you." He turned his comlink on, "Rex, I need you or Fives to report to the palace immediately. Obi Wan will meet you outside."
"Do you really believe all of this is necessary?" you asked, trying to remain composed in hopes of having your world remain unscathed by the war.
"Unfortunately, yes. We have fought in countless battles against the Separatist Army. Whenever Dooku is present, it's a sign violence will soon follow," Anakin sighed, "we just want to insure your safety.
Obi Wan reentered the palace, this time with a Republic soldier next to him. "Your highness, this is Clone Captain Rex of the Grand Army of the Republic. He is one of our finest men and will certainly keep you safe in the event of an emergency."
"It's a pleasure to meet you," he bowed, his voice muffled under the static of the helmet. "I was informed of a safety bunker. We best be headed there soon."
Everything was changing so fast. Just hours before this, not a single outsider was on Dalmorth. Everything was in harmony.
"You hold the lives of my people in your hands. We will side with the Republic. If the Separatists are as dangerous as you claim, please do everything you can to remove them with the least amount of violence possible. I'll allow the Senate to make decisions while I must be hidden from the exchange of fire," you frowned your final words to the Jedi Generals while the clone captain escorted you to your safety bunker.
The next few moments were a whirlwind. You were capable of leading the way to your bunker though if you had to put what was going through your mind into words, you'd be at a loss. The captain followed you into the secret concealed door that led to a stairway that went several stories below ground. He followed you into the blast doors of the bunker and locked them immediately, sighing in relief.
For a moment you were silent, still taking in everything that was happening. You watched Rex take a seat on the futon and look around. Even though he helmet was on, you could tell he was in awe of how luxurious of a safety bunker you had.
"It's like you have a mini palace down here," the captain joked, his helmet still muffling the sound of his voice.
You sighed and sat down on the edge of the only bed in the bunker, "I thought I'd never have to use it."
Rex took off his helmet and placed it on the ground. You gasped softly, in pure admiration of what you saw. Prior to this, you've never seen a Republic soldier. You didn't expect them to be as handsome as Rex was. As he was scrolling through a holopad, presumably trying to get some information on the pending battle, you admired every square inch of him. You notice the faint scars that are scattered over his face, wondering if his whole body is like that. The made you frown.
"Are you okay, your highness?" he asked, noticing your frown.
Quick, you snap out of your trance and look away from the handsome captain, "I'm fine, sir. How long do you think we'll be down here?"
"Not sure," he hummed, "Depends how quickly we can get the Seppies to retreat. General Skywalker is incredible at what he does. I'm sure it should be too long. Maybe two days."
"We're stuck down here for two days?!" you gasped, beginning to panic. As your breaths began to become shallower and more rapid, Rex rushed to you and kneeled down in front of you, placing his hands on your shoulders.
"It's going to be okay your highness," he confidently smiled, "I promise."
"Call me (Y/N)," you whispered, sinking your head into your chest.
"Well, (Y/N). I promise, everything is going to be okay. Would it made you feel better if you laid down and I put something on the holovision for you?"
You quickly nodded and smiled, queuing Rex to go put the holovision on.
"I'll be right here if you need anything," he smiled, sitting back down on the futon as you laid down in the bed.
You woke up from your nap and let out a soft groan, stretching out your shoulders.
"Sleep well?" Rex asked, still on the futon. As you looked across the room to reply to him, you noticed he took his upper armor off. Instead of answering his question, you began to stare at his tight under armor suit against his toned body.
"(Y/N)?" he asked again, bringing you back.
"Slept great, you?" you laughed, nervously shifting you attention to the chips in your nail polish.
Rex shook his head, "I didn't sleep. I'm supposed to be protecting you, remember."
A small smile formed in the corner of his mouth as he glanced up at you.
"You have a nice smile," you hummed, getting off the bed and making your way to the futon next to him.
"I said," you sat next to him, "you have a nice smile."
He huffed, "That makes me and about a million others."
"Oh please," you let the syllables roll off your tongue, "I don't know much about cloning but I'm sure you all smile a bit different. Emotions can't be engineered."
Rex opened his mouth, then closed it, seeming to not know how to respond.
"A smile is created over time. Everyone's looks different," you grinned.
"I never thought of it that way," he commented, squinting slightly, "what makes you say that."
You rolled your eyes, "You say that like I'm the first person to tell you that. Not a single girl in this galaxy has told you that you have a nice smile? I wouldn't believe that for a second."
"For a queen, you are being especially kind to someone so much lesser than you."
His tone was firm. It took you back for a second. He was being serious.
"Your social status shouldn't determine who gives you compliments. Praise is given where praise is deserved. Or, at least, that's how I try to make it on Dalmorth," you shrugged.
Rex bit his lower lip, thinking about what you said, "Well, if this war ever ends, maybe I'll consider coming here to live. Tell me more about it here."
Even though he'd been on many different protection missions before, and asked the question, "tell me about it here," many times, this time, he actually cared about the response. He was not only taking your mind off the horrors happening outside the palace, but he was seeing your words from your perspective. Which for once, actually meant something to him.
"We have so many vast landscapes here. We have tropical regions, tundra regions, and everything in-between. That's one of my favorite things here. Sometimes, I'll go outside and lay down in the grasslands outside the palace, listen to the nature around me. All of the people on this planet are so compassionate. We are raised on values of charity and love. Though I am the queen, I like to think of myself as just as important as everyone else on Dalmorth. After my parents passed in an accident, I was showered with so much support. Why can't every citizen be held to that high of a regard. Anyway, it's been lonely here being the only royalty in the palace, but there is still no where else I'd rather be. My king will some, someday."
Rex smiled as he listened to you talk. Your happiness was radiating onto him, an effect no one has ever had on him. "The people here are lucky to have you as their leader. If I wasn't in the army I'd want to explore the town myself."
You perked up, "I'd love to offer you a tour!"
"That sounds lovely, but that can't happen," he sighed, moving his body slightly away from yours.
Rex moved his hand to the back of his neck and softly scratched, "That's not a luxury a trooper gets."
"You're not allowed to walk around a Republic aligned town?" you asked confused. The true treatment of Republic troops was still blissfully unaware to you.
"Well. It's a lot. But to make a long story short, yes," he muttered, reaching for his holopad, trying to end the conversation without being rude.
You placed your hands on your thighs and stood up from the futon, grabbing a snack from the food supply, "If we're going to be down here for two days, I'd be willing to hear the long story, not the short one." He slowly looked up at you in awe. He felt like he was dreaming. "Snack?"
Rex nodded and you tossed him a cereal bar.
"So, tell me the long story."
"Are you sure? No one has asked me-"
You stopped him in the middle of his sentence but placing your index finger on his lips, "I want to know more about you."
And that is exactly where it began. In that moment, Rex's eyes met yours, where he saw everything. For the first time in his life, he truly felt as if someone cared.
"Your highness," he whispered, "I've never done this before, so I apologize in advance."
As soon as you were about to ask what he meant, he parted his lips and pressed them into yours. His lips were rough, chapped from the war, but them seemed to lay perfectly on yours. It was almost hard to believe he has never kissed someone before; his movements felt so natural, so perfect.
He slowly pulled his face away from yours. The second eye contact was made, he quickly looked away, in a shame like manner. "I'm sorry," he mumbled, "I don't know why I did that."
You smiled, "There's got to be a reason why you did that. Not like I'm complaining or anything. I mean, I did it back because I think you're ridiculously handsome."
"Oh, no no no no no," he sighed, standing up and pacing around the room, "I'm a clone. I'm not allowed to have emotional attachment. I just made this next few days awkward. I'm sorry."
"You're not allowed to have basic human emotions?"
"(Y/N). I just broke one of the most important rules of the Grand Army of the Republic. I-"
You interrupted his ramble, "Rex come with me."
"Come with you where?"
"I mean," you stumbled over your words, "stay here on Dalmorth with me. I rarely abuse my power but I think I can make a circumstance for this. Please."
"(Y/N), I have a duty to the Republic."
You smirked, "And I have one of the oldest locks in the galaxy."
He looked at you baffled and you approached him and grabbed his left hand, placing a golden band on the second finger. "What is this?" he asked as the band seemed to magically size to the size of his finger.
With his hand still in yours, you smiled, "It's the Dalmorth lock band. The band is given to the Queen after the King passes. The ring is to remain on the King's finger from the moment the Queen places it on him, until the moment he dies."
Rex stared at you with a blank face, "So I'm the-"
"King," you both say simultaneously.
"But why?" he asked, breathing heavily.
You laughed, "Something in my heart told me to. And Rex means king in the native language of my people. But mostly that first point."
It's been two years since Dalmorth was invaded by the Separatist army. Two years since your beautiful planet was almost torn apart by the demons of war.
It's been one year since the war ended. You leaned against the balcony that was attached to your bedroom, starring out at the rolling fields that made up the backyard of your palace. Daylight was just beginning to break, and you were still in your sleepwear. Slowly, you began to untie your loose braids to let the cool morning air run through your hair.
"It still amazes me that you wear such stunning outfits even to bed," Rex smildd behind you, slowly pacing towards you. He surrounded you with his arms and placed his head on your shoulder, giving you a soft kiss on the neck.
You looked down at your nightgown. It was a mix of lavender and grey lace, with silver embellishments here and there. Rex, on the other hand, wasn't wearing much. Just a pair in sleep pants and a robe, which he only put on when he joined you on the balcony.
"If you told me a year and a half ago, I'd be where I am now, I'd call you crazy," he mumbled against your shoulder.
With a small smile, you turned your head into his, kissing his temple, "If you told me two years ago Dalmorth would be a battle ground and I'd meet the future King of Dalmorth all in a few hour time span, I'd call you even crazier."
"If you told me back when I was a cadet on Kamino that I would marry a gorgeous queen, I'd call you the craziest."
You laughed, "are we just going to do this all day?"
The moment was interrupted by the morning bells that rang from the palace every morning, reminding the citizen that it's a brand new day, full of opportunity.
"Who would have thought a clone like me would end up here?"
"I did," you smiled, standing up on your toes to give him a gentle kiss.
And just like that, Rex got the one thing he's always craved; love.
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this may have sucked oops
Why Kylo Ren/Ben Solo and Theon Greyjoy are similar, beautifully grey and real characters that represent overcoming abuse and manipulation and it makes no sense to love one but hate the other, a thread:
*Disclaimer* I have only watched the GoT series & SW movies, I have not read the books or comics for either series but I have done research into both so anything I’m pulling that’s not from the movies or show has been taken from research/information I have gathered from others who have used these sources for their own opinions/arguments/statements as well as from a GoT class I took my senior year of college
Life of Mental/Physical Abuse:
They both had mentally abusive upbringings which is obvious to say has a huge effect on your development and how you perceive the world around you. Theon was the youngest of 4, known to cling more to his mother and not care as much about the ironborn mentality of piracy and raiding as his older brothers did. He was constantly tormented and bullied by them for it as well as feeling neglected by his father for “showing weakness” which made him feel like he didn’t belong and wasn’t accepted in his home. He was then sent off to be Ned Stark’s ward (prisoner) and would be executed if Balon tried to rebel against the throne again. This knowledge is constantly hanging over his head and threatening him even though he makes the best of the situation, especially by finding a brother in Robb. The North and most of the Stark family don’t accept him despite his best efforts in trying to do his best while also missing the Iron Islands and not being able to fulfill his right as the heir to the salt throne
Ben has been mentally abused since he was in his mother’s womb. Palpatine has been in his head since he was conceived, trying to seduce him to the dark because he knew the power Ben would possess from his family. Now were his parents abusive towards him like Balon, Maron, and Rodrik were to Theon? No. But they were afraid of who he could become which definitely drove him towards becoming what they were afraid of to begin with. He felt isolated and alone. Aside from questioning why his parents were afraid of him with no explanation (making him feel like he was some sort of monster), Han was gone the majority of his upbringing and Leia was building the New Republic. He was often left with droids to watch him, further developing his isolation. There’s also apparently an instance where a droid fantasized about killing him and how they’d be able to cover it up? Eventually, L&H sent him off to be trained by Luke due to their growing fear of him becoming like Vader, but he didn’t know because they never told him Vader was his grandfather. He ended up finding out later on when it was announced at a senate meeting that was broadcasted on the holonet. (Keep in mind he’s consistently being mentally tormented and tempted by the dark but fighting it off)
Loss of Identity:
I think you can argue that Theon and Ben have struggled with their identity their entire lives. Before Theon was taken to Winterfell he already felt like he didn’t belong. Then he does his duty as Ned’s ward, placing him in the midst of the rest of the Starks and trying to figure out his place without stepping out of line but also wanting to fit in as best as he can. After Ned dies and he’s at war with Robb he is able to return home to persuade Balon in lending his fleet to help Robb. Balon refuses and now Theon is stuck in deciding if he should help Robb or win over his father and take back his place as a Greyjoy. He leads an attack at Winterfell, betraying his loyalty to Robb, killing two farm boys that all of Westeros believes is Brand and Rickon, which leads to him getting overthrown by the Boltons taking Winterfell back, putting him in the hands of Ramsay who tortures him mentally, physically, and spiritually to the point where he takes on the persona of Reek and truly believes that’s who he is, who he was meant to be and who he deserves to be
Ben has also had this lifelong struggle. He’s tried to follow what his parents have taught him while fighting everything going on in his head. He looked up to his dad and wanted to be a pilot like him despite Han being gone a majority of the time. Not to mention just the pressure he faced with being Han & Leia’s son as well as Luke Skywalker’s nephew. But he could sense and sometimes hear his parents discuss their fear of who he is/who he will be. He was under the impression that they thought he was or could become some sort of monster and gave him no explanation on why they would think that and then was sent off to train with Luke (when there’s no real indication that he wanted that, he just voiced how he wanted to be a pilot) Luke could sense the same darkness in him as H&L but instead of helping him and having a conversation about it he decided to sneak into Ben’s tent one night and kill him before his fears came true. Ben awoke to his own uncle standing over him with an ignited lightsaber about to strike him down. Yes, Luke regretted it the minute he ignited it but it was too late, Ben was awake and betrayed. What he didn’t do (but the galaxy thought he did) was destroy the Jedi temple and the rest of the padawans, a higher power (most likely Palpatine) did and Ben was upset about it and he didn’t want them all to die. He felt like he had nowhere else to go and succumbed to the voice that had been tormenting him for 23 years (but in a way was the only consistent thing in his life) and went to Snoke. He felt unwanted, untrusted, and doomed to become this awful being everyone around him thought he would. He took on the persona Kylo Ren and allowed Snoke to continue to torture him mentally and now physically and spiritually to ultimately turn him into Snoke's chess piece to take over the galaxy
Path of bad decisions driven by the need to please their abuser who gives false hope of a home:
Parts of this are redundant but they both have made some terrible decisions that were heavily influenced by the manipulation of their abusers and a need for a sense of acceptance and belonging. Theon wanted to please Balon and later Ramsay, Kylo wanted to please Snoke and his grandfather (who we later find out was all Palpatine). The majority of deaths that Kylo is blamed for were under Snoke’s orders and Kylo was either unaware they were happening or tried to prevent them and resort to other solutions to get whatever it is they wanted. He killed his father because he was convinced it would make him stronger and reach his potential on “who he’s destined to be” when really it tore him apart and destroyed him,
similarly to how Theon felt after he killed those farm boys and saw what his actions had created for Winterfell and Westeros
Acceptance of “who they truly are” through self-hatred and regret:
Through this they come to terms with their actions and the destruction that has followed from those actions. They believe they deserve the pain and suffering they’ve had their whole lives. Theon is constantly saying how Theon is dead, he’s Reek and he deserves to be. Ben states how Ben is dead, he’s only Kylo now and that he deserves to be seen as a monster.
Needing help to be pulled back to their true selves:
Their inner conflict is clear through both of their journeys and it’s clear that others can see that. They need help to be pulled in the right direction and reminded that they’re not the person they think they are. Yara comes for Theon when everyone else has given up on him. He’s her brother and regardless of what he’s done she still cares for him and believes in him. However, even the love of his sister can’t persuade him or break the abusive turmoil he’s been suffering and he stays with Ramsay as Reek.
Then Sansa comes, someone he has grown up with and cares for. She learns the truth that he didn’t kill Bran and Rickon. She knows who Theon really is and she brings him back, she needs him back and gives him the strength to do it.
Similarly, we see Han trying to bring Ben back in TFA, and like with Yara and Theon, it doesn’t work. He believes Ben is dead, that his family gave up on him and he did too so he can only be Kylo now. And as we see later on, the act of killing Han only made it worse and caused a deeper pain and regret to Ben as well as the conflict on where he lies in the force. In TLJ we see this and how Kylo seems to be chipping away from coming to terms with everything he’s done.
(I would also like to point out that in TLJ Ben couldn’t kill his mother and it’s stated that had he noticed quick enough he would’ve stopped the blasters from hitting the bridge) He gets a connection with Rey, who at first wants nothing to do with him and sees him as the monster he thinks he is. But similarly to Sansa, she finds out the story Luke told her about him destroying the Jedi Temple was a lie and from then on they’re able to console in one another and understand the pain and isolation they’ve both felt their whole lives.
When Luke refuses to go back and help Rey and the resistance she takes it upon herself to go and fight to bring Ben back to the light because she can see that he’s still there.
Taking a stand against their abusers, specifically to help save someone they love:
They both go against their abusers and take a huge leap towards taking back their true selves. Theon wants to help Sansa and she gives him a few chances too, for example with the candle but he ends up telling Ramsay. However when Ramsay is gone Sansa is crossed by Miranda and even though he’s still filled with fear and conflict, he throws Miranda off the ledge to save Sansa and finally defies his tormentor and everything that he’s done.
Kylo retrieves Rey when she lands on the capital ship and takes her to see Snoke. In the elevator they both state how they’ve had a vision of seeing them by each other’s sides. Kylo takes it as Rey joining him in the dark but Rey sees it as him reclaiming who he was supposed to be and even refers to him as Ben which he responds to.
(for the majority of knowing him she called him Kylo, monster, etc but since they touched hands and she saw the conflict she now sees him as a real person and more importantly Ben) Snoke wants Kylo to kill her in order to reach is full potential since killing Han only made him question the path he was going down even more. However, he tricks Snoke and instead kills him instead of Rey, destroying his abuser and saving Rey who is the only one he’s ever been able to connect to.
Reclaiming their identity:
Even though they have someone in their corner, believing in them and helping them to come back to who they are, it takes time. Theon stays with Sansa until they cross paths with Brienne and Podrick and knows she’ll be safe with them. He then heads back to the Iron Islands to join Yara and help her however he can. He still feels as though he’s Reek and doesn’t deserve any redemption or to be trusted/loved.
Overtime those who still believe in him and given time to heal he reclaims himself as Theon Greyjoy, not even the one from before, but a better and stronger man because it’s who he chooses and wants to be. He saves Yara from Euron and goes back to Winterfell to help fight against the dead. He protects Bran at the Weirwood tree bringing it back and trying to rewrite his wrong when he took Winterfell from Bran and caused him to abandon his home. Even though Arya is the one to ultimately save Bran by killing the Night King, she wouldn’t have been able to without Theon and his sacrifice.
Now Kylo’s is a little different and his journey back to Ben takes a few more steps. Killing Snoke was supposed to be him reclaiming himself and finally getting rid of the demons that have been haunting him his entire life. But now we’re aware that Palpatine created Snoke and was the one who has been in his head the whole time so really those voices are still there, abusing and tormenting him to do what they want. Except now he has something more to fight for. He knows Rey believes in him and they have a bond, a force dyad, that hasn’t been seen for centuries. We don’t get to see much of how Supreme Leader Kylo Ren deals with First Order affairs but I would assume it would be different from how Snoke handled it considering (as stated earlier) Kylo tried to get what they needed in the easiest way, preventing as much unnecessary harm or death. (I also would like to point out that at the beginning of TROS we see Kylo in Mustafar and all of the people he’s killing are Vader cultists so they were bad beings) He then travels to Palpatine who reveals it’s been him all along in his head and Kylo threatens to kill him, but then palp shows his army he’s been creating, how it could be Kylo’s, and reveals who Rey truly is. Palp wants him to kill her and he tricks him into thinking he will when really he chases her around to tell her this information as well as see if it’s true and to prevent her from getting killed. They fight a lot but it’s always Rey initiating it and Ben defending himself when he needs to. He gets distracted during one of their fights because Leia is reaching out to him and in the process, Rey stabs him with his own lightsaber (death of Kylo Ren) but ends up healing him and tells him that she did want him, the real him
He then has a vision of Han and basically reenacts what happened in TFA but has it play out how he wished it did the first time. He is now truly Ben Solo and goes to Exogal to help Rey and defeat Palpatine. After Rey kills Palpatine she dies and Ben comes back (he was thrown down deep pit) and transfers his life force to her to save her. Like the situation with Theon, if Ben wasn’t there Rey wouldn’t have been able to defeat Palpatine and save the galaxy.
Only got to live in peace with themselves for like 2 minutes:
They both get complex, intriguing, and beautiful arcs of redemption that represent realistic struggles of life and grey morality that people face throughout their lives. But they both end with a terrible message that the only way to fully redeem yourself from past mistakes, bad decisions (even if it was influenced by a life of mental/physical abuse) is to sacrifice yourself.
Theon sacrificed himself to save Bran and the fate of Westeros and was only able to be at peace with himself for about the last 20 seconds of his life because Bran forgave him, told him he was a good man and confirmed the type of person Theon really is and always wanted to be.
he deserved to feel this way for a MUCH longer time and continue to heal and grow and live a life that gave him much more peace and happiness (preferably with Sansa 😏) but instead he only gets to feel good about himself for the first time in his life and have it only last for a moment.
Once Rey defeated Palpatine it’s safe to say that the voices stopped in Ben’s head. There’s no more tormenting, persuading, or taunting. He climbs out of the pit to find Rey dead (his literal other half) and channels the rest of his energy to bring her back and it works. Similar to Bran, Rey confirms her joy and acceptance of Ben being back
and he would’ve been fully content with that, but Rey kisses him and he smiles for the first fucking time we’ve ever seen. His mind is at peace, Rey is alive in his arms and for the first time he is truly happy. And then he DIES.
Who knows what would’ve happened to him and how the resistance would’ve reacted, but he deserved the opportunity to atone for the mistakes he made, live life with a clear mind, as well as continue to be the other half of Rey that brought balance to the force and galaxy.
They both deserve to be with the only person that fully understands them and their pain and can grow, heal, and live in peace together.
WINX REDUX AU SUMMARIZED: INTERLUDE 6 (Season 6.5)
Or, in which I give the basics of what I’ve changed about the story for the AU. It was originally way more descriptive but if I kept it in that style I would have finished in 2039 and I ain’t got time for that. Let’s cover the small crisis that happens between S6 and S7! It took as long as it did because Life interfered.
WINX AU INTERLUDE 6 - Distant Legends, Sudden Troubles
A week later, after receiving the call from the Order of Mana, the Winx and Roxy (alongside Daphne and Faragonda) arrive at the Council of Mana’s headquarters in Roccaluce.
Once inside, they’re brought to a larger room seemingly made of crystal, and see that all 9 keys are on top of a small pillar of the same crystal. A lot of magi are around.
They spot Eldora along them all, looking annoyed, and when they talk she tells them that the Order wants to make a new transformation out of Pleiadix.
She cynically elaborates that they didn’t like that there was a form they weren’t in charge of, but a Paladin corrects her that it’s to ensure the Legendarium can never be open, even on accident, again, and that she herself agreed to this plan.
Eldora mutters under her breath that she wasn’t given much of a choice, but then formally adresses the Winx’s presence - as they are the last users of Pleiadix, they are the ones that should run the ritual to ensure there’s no issues with it.
A few minutes of preparation later, and everyone arranges themselves in a weird formation, the Winx at the center, a magic circle appearing under them.
Chanting begins, and the Winx plus Roxy focus on their keys, Eldora focusing on the remaining two. The Keys slowly seem to lose their magic, alongside their color, and an incredible surge of magical essence starts to form around everyone.
With a final chant, the essence seems to light up and explode, and a magical shockwave is felt all over the universe.
The Order of Mana then announces this is the birth of a new form - Mythix, and requests the Winx and Roxy to discover how to earn the form.
Everyone is incredibly confused at all this, but Bloom agrees to it, saying that it might be interesting as something to do over the summer. Everyone can pick up that she’d like to occupy her mind on other stuff as she’s still hurting over Selina, and so they agree.
The magic shockwave seems to stir something up in the wind, and stray magic seems to be coalescing, acquiring a vague humanoid shape.
The next day, on Red Fountain, everyone attends to see the graduation ceremony, excited that their friends are now free from Red Fountain. Team 3Q is given extra honors thanks to their help during the last crises the System has fought over, and they are offered positions as teachers in Red Fountain whenever they please for their actions.
Everyone cheers, and after a couple more speeches, a big party is thrown, the Winx and friends reuniting. They all celebrate and chat, and they ask the guys what are they going to do now.
Brandon answers that they’ve been thinking about that for a while now, and they decided to stick together living in Magix for a couple more months before deciding on joining a Guild of warriors as a group or not.
They keep chatting (with Sky helping Stella and Diaspro in trying to cheer Bloom up, but it's not fully successful). Everyone says their goodbyes and decide to rest in their homes for a week before starting the whole Mythix deal.
It’s two days later, on Melody, that the Soniata takes place on Caden, honoring the Hexer Sonia of lore. Musa has a fun time with her dad and brother, and ends up surprised at Galatea also being there, having managed to escape the palace and enjoy some time with local stories on the other side of the country. Musa then tells her the full legend, but as she does that, dark shadowy beasts start to attack.
Musa and Galatea transform, while Jian dons armor and Huan tries to help him evacuate the premises.
The two fairies manage to make quick work of the beings, but end up slightly overwhelmed. At the sight of a couple more families about to be attacked, they both come up with a plan.
Both of them join their magic, Musa starts to play a lullaby on her sword, mimicking the legend, while Galatea begins chanting a long spell, acting as an “amplifier” to Musa’s music. This manages to slowly make all the remaining shadow beasts fall asleep, and with the chance, both fairies unleash a convergence, destroying them all.
A rush of magic envelops them both, and suddenly, they got new forms - Galatea’s perfect control over the voiced ritual earnt her Glissandix, while Musa unlocked Mythix due to her parallelisms with Sonia’s tale, even her sword undergoing a transformation, looking far more detailed. A shadow seems to grumble, before vanishing again.
That night, Musa contacts the rest, telling them of her findings and how she believes it’s tied to stories of their realms or that they know, and that the shadow things she fought felt familiar.
Bloom compares them to the creatures Campana and Venomya used, but Musa says they felt different, much more recent.
Two days later, Flora is on a date with Helia, who came to visit for a couple days, when they hear about the urban legend of a ghost haunting a nearby abandoned hall. Flora, with what Musa said in the back of her mind, tells Helia to go with her to said place after their date is over for help.
After a few hours, they reach the hall, finding Krystal as well, who came to check the place out as a Princess - the Hall was part of the ancient Privamerian royal state, and the rumors concerned her.
They all explore the place for an hour or so, before a sudden apparition shocks them all in the large stage, a shadow of a man seemingly dancing near a large dead tree.
Everyone transforms and goes up to it, other shadows rising and starting to attack them, but Helia and Krystal fend them off while Flora approaches the main shadow, fans at the ready.
The shadow doesn’t seem to move, and looks around, seemingly sad at the dead tree. It then extends a hand to Flora, confused.
Helia keeps fighting the creatures, but Krystal recalls the full story and tells Flora to take the shadow’s hand and to dance, as she rises up and starts to cast a spell on the tree.
Flora is even more confused at this, but trusts Krystal and starts to dance with the shadow, being guided and using her fans as support.
Krystal focuses all her energy on the tree, slowly revitalizing it and making it grow again, as Flora and the shadow dance around it, twirling.
The dance comes to an end as the tree comes back to life fully, lush and gorgeous, and the shadow seems to smile, as it dissipates into yellow specks of light, all traces of darkness gone. Both Flora and Krystal flashed but for a second - Flora earning Mythix, her outfit now vaguely dance-ready, and Krystal getting Arborix from her effort in revitalizing the tree, covered in hydrangea-looking petals.
Krystal then tells her the full story - during the war, a tree was discovered growing in the hall, and a man had been taking care of it keeping it healthy amongst the ruin. However, a faction of the soon-to-be-called Dolona snuck in and destroyed the place, killing him and the tree. The man was apparently still trying to care for the dead tree, and the shadow manifested his repressed anger in the creatures that attacked them.
Late that night, Flora relaid the info to the rest, confirming Musa’s suppositions, and is surprised to learn that Bloom and Roxy have also obtained Mythix.
Bloom obtained it after a royal meeting, having heard rumors that the city was suddenly assaulted by a dragon made of shadows, and after some research with Daphne they confronted it - Daphne recalled a similar tale of a priestess of the Great Fire Dragon having to fight a rival god in the Fire Dragon’s place, having used just a pair of swords - and after the shadow dragon broke Bloom’s bow, she used the two halves augmented with the small Light magic she knew to slay it, her bow also transforming with Mythix and forming a pair of twin swords that can join to become a bow again.
Roxy meanwhile got it via saving Artu from a group of shadows that suddenly kidnapped it, having to be stealthy and facing off a shadow that disturbingly looked way too much like her mother for her to be comfortable, as well as a small knife she had just in case turning into a detailed dagger.
A shadow seems to get even angrier, and a small burst of energy seeps into Astrael, Solaria’s capital, as well as the capitals of Zenith and Andros.
The next day, while out with Nova and Riven, Stella catches wind of the reappearance of The Twilight Maiden. Nova is confused, and Stella elaborates that it was a ghost story that arose shortly after she moved away - the ghost of a woman killed by her lover, who during twilight supposedly whisks away a girl so they don’t suffer her fate.
They go around their day until sunset arrives, but they realize the whole street went quiet all of a sudden, and after inspecting an alleyway following a weird sound, Nova suddenly vanishes.
Both of them panic for a bit and start looking for her, and after a while both transform into their respective forms to look for her in the sky, Riven finding a dark shadow figure up above, as well as some sort of dome over them.
Both rise to meet with it and find a woman-like form, with an angry expression and see Nova, unconscious, in her arms.
Stella tries to get closer but the shadow throws a blast at her, and Riven gets the same treatment, though harsher. Both Riven and Stella assume the shadow is the Twilight Maiden, and so end up using Riven as a decoy while Stella tries to rescue Nova.
Riven then proceeds to taunt the shadow, driving its anger further and further until it drops Nova and starts to chase after the warrior, Stella catching her with a spell.
After leaving the still unresponsive Nova on a nearby roof, Stella takes the distraction and starts casting both a light spell and a healing spell, trying to “exorcise” the spirit controlling the shadow after what Flora told her of her Mythix earning.
The Maiden almost catches up to Riven and does damage one of his wings, but by the time she feels a strange warmth around her it’s too late - Stella fired the spell and completely engulfed her, a short scream followed by a sigh as her shadows faded completely.
Stella then slowly flies down, exhausted, earning her Mythix and her staff evolving once more. She then notices Riven’s armor malfunctioning and tries to catch him as well.
Nova wakes up moments later and everyone then finds a couple other girls near the same place, probably caught by the Maiden, trying to help them as well as they can.
After all this, she relays the info to the rest, and finds out Aisha also got her Mythix, having to fight The Deep One - a massive jellyfish of Mareian mythos that once destroyed Andros in antiquity, her meteor hammers evolving as well following the pattern of everyone else’s weapons.
This means Tecna is the only one without Mythix yet, and at the same time everyone realizes she isn’t in the call, wondering what could have happened to her.
On Zenith, Tecna is currently locked in a random room, after a sudden burst of energy drove most of the equipment in the Grand Palace, the main presidential office of the country, completely out of control.
She had sent a couple of her assistants to check on the Magic Animals helping on the place and then started to investigate, before some of the machinery started to actively attack her, taking refuge on a random room.
There, however, she found three shadows that matched the description of the other Winx’s experiences, and instinctively transformed, aiming her gun to them. One of the shadows seemed to get annoyed, but another calmed them down and the last one made a gesture, as if they wanted her to follow them.
Not having more options, Tecna did, and after a bit she found a massive hall, covered head to toe in computers, at the center a massive control panel. The shadows seem to focus on the panel, and seem to try to communicate with Tecna. Tecna glances at one of the monitors and sees several dungeon-like structures, the people in them languishing. She finds a file in the computer, detailing many attempts at revolution, the people attempting them thrown into these dungeons, the main computer running them all.
Tecna, while shocked, isn’t really surprised - she knew she couldn’t have been the first person to try to rise against Datacorp, but it is still disheartening and terrible to see these people still suffering. She tries to turn off the machine, but it seems to lash out.
The shadows alongside her recoil in what she assumes is fear, and as the machine seems to start commanding different objects in the room to fling themselves at Tecna, something similar must have happened before, and assumes this is a failsafe mechanism installed by the Council.
Tecna keeps dodging and starts charging a spell with her gun, and asks the shadows to help her if they’re able, assuming they also want to destroy the thing. They start disrupting the commands thanks to them being non-corporeal, and after a few minutes, Tecna manages to fire off the spell, destroying the machine and somehow earning Mythix, her gun getting retouches.
The shadows start to flicker, and through broken speech manage to tell Tecna they were the leaders of the last attempt at a Zenithian revolution, perishing in prison without no one ever knowing about their existence. They tell her that she managed to do something that was considered impossible, a myth, and thank her before completely disappearing.
After recovering her energy and making sure everything else is working properly, she contacts the Winx again, and after thanking them for worrying about her, tells them she also got Mythix, and so if everyone has it, they should go back to the Order and tell them their findings.
The apparition gets even angrier, and it seems to be starting to manifest a stronger spell.
A few days later, everyone goes back to Lake Roccaluce, ready to inform the Order of their findings, before suddenly being attacked by the shadows again.
With Mythix, the shadows seem to go down even faster, and Roxy and Bloom seem to register its magic signature as that of Acheron’s. Everyone else questions how can that be given he’s dead, but Musa points out that Darkar was similar in that regard.
Acheron then reveals himself fully, a literal shadow of his former self, seemingly in an eternal Energix and his face twisted into anger and hatred. He keeps up the assault, and after a bit, the Winx and Roxy start to feel tired of fighting.
They start to brainstorm ways to defeat Acheron once more, and they come to the conclusion to try and disrupt his form, similar to what they did with Darkar once he went insane, and set up the plan.
Roxy and Bloom rush in to distract him, angering the shadow enough to focus solely on them, while Musa takes down any straggler creatures and Flora, Stella and Tecna start to form a convergence. This seems to work for a while before a couple shadows tackle Tecna, but they’re quickly dealt with when Eldora and a couple of the Order of Mana magi arrive, wondering what was taking the Winx so long.
They take over the distraction job, and with no further setbacks, the other 4 join the 3 Winx and combine the convergence, erasing Acheron once more, all the shadows disappearing.
A bit later, now in HQ, the Nymph spearheading the Mythix project both congratulates the girls on discovering the ways to earn Mythix while also apologizing for causing Acheron’s comeback, confusing everyone else.
They elaborate - when doing the ritual to create Mythix, it seems the magic shockwave was powerful and familiar enough for Acheron’s still lingering soul to also be affected, turning him into a ghost, and while reduced to basic instinct and emotion, he still wanted revenge on the Winx for killing him in the first place.
However, unlike Darkar, who was the fusion of two consciences and Auras, Acheron was still just one person, so he had to rely on pulling energy from elsewhere to try and attack, leading to the events that earnt everyone Mythix.
They still admit that Acheron’s temporary revival helped further their goal so it wasn’t something completely bad, but immediately retract when they catch Eldora and the Winx’s expressions, and dismiss them all to be free to continue their break.
As they’re leaving, however, they are surprised by Faragonda, who wants to talk to Roxy in private for a special project she wants her help with, and that can also act as her thesis if she so desires, but it must be a secret until the new school year starts.
Roxy agrees, curious as for why she would be needed, and bids goodbye to the rest, who start to go back to their realms to have an actual, proper vacation for once, their last breaks being incredibly hectic.
In a cave system in Magix, meanwhile, a Fairy seems to have heard about Faragonda’s plans already, and starts to make interesting preparations...
major tw for gore, medical imagery, mentions of abuse, and drugging
i owe the title to @bupine. finally, got back at you! <3
The room is pitch black, but it doesn’t matter. Anti cannot see either way.
There’s a blindfold, scratchy and stiff, over his eyes, just as there are tightly-notched straps restraining his limbs to the cold table beneath him; something about this place feels familiar - the way his muffled voice echoes through the room...
While he trembles, his mind starts to wander into each crevice of the darkness, considering each and every terrible option behind his circumstances. He had to have been drugged, right? Something slipped in his drink? It’s not like anyone could’ve taken him in his sleep, they must have disoriented him somehow. That is how he feels. Disoriented.
Then comes the second wave of thoughts, tumbling down and making his headache thud against his skull even louder: not the how, the who. Plenty of people would be overjoyed to make him suffer, but this feels like he is on the wrong side of the mirror, a very shattered one. He’s been here before, hasn’t he? Just… not… oh.
Anti tries to call out a name, but through the rag in his mouth it just sounds like “Hmhmph?”
The cold room does not answer back.
But after a few more excruciating minutes, the door finally swings open.
First, the monster hears the creak of it, and that’s enough to make him sure of who brought him here. While his stomach is full of dread, there is not a hint of surprise in his eyes when Henrik von Schneeplestein is the one to tear off the bandanna tied around his head.
“You giggle way too much when you’re given Rohypnol, did you know that?” Henrik half-heartedly muses, stiff fingers pulling the gag from between Anti’s fangs. “And you tried to flirt with me when I shoved you in the back of my car.”
“That’s it?” Anti breaks into nervous laughter, the kind that turns in your chest and then bubbles from your lips no matter how much you try to seal them. He almost reaches up to soothe his aching jaw before he remembers the leather cuffs on his wrists. “No proper dramatic entrance, no speech?”
“Oh, do not worry. We will have plenty of time for that,” the doctor sarcastically reassures, giving his captive a pat on the head. Somewhere between Anti’s muddled thoughts, the sunshine peeking through the apparently closed door had been replaced by Henrik switching on a dingy caged light. Now, it illuminates Schneep’s face, the dark circles around his eyes that age him so badly, the pink scar splitting across both of his lips. His hair, which used to be kept neat and short, is now disheveled and reaching the collar of his shirt, with a beard that seems to be phase one in a crisis-fueled attempt at being a mad scientist. In all honesty, he looks like a decayed version of himself, as if he had never left the basement where Anti treated him as both a friend and a plaything.
Anti makes a questionable attempt to force the shaking out of his own voice and plaster on a wicked smile. “What, are you gonna beat the shit out of me in the meantime? That’s justified, honestly. I get it.”
Now it’s Henrik’s turn to laugh. It sounds so cold, so fucking tired, not like the taunting glee he exuded around Chase, or the biting, stubborn bark of a cackle he used to throw in his captor’s face. “No! No, no, no. I have already done that many times in the past, hm? And yes, you are hurt, but you keep going. You have fun with that, correct?”
The monster doesn’t respond.
“You are so funny, Anti. You think I brought you back here- here, to the place where you first tortured me before you took me to that goddamn basement - just to throw in a few punches? No. Coward. Nothing I have tried ever works on you, so I’m getting… creative.”
Face twisting into a warped smile, Anti starts to mutter a crude joke. But his voice dies in his scarred throat as his eyes finally settle on the surgical tool tray beside him and the blue gloves resting snug on Henrik’s hand.
“I remember the first time we met, Anti. Do you? Do you remember laying in a hospital bed, eyes full of fear when you looked up at me?” The doctor straightens a scalpel, and Anti’s gaze doesn’t break when the light reflects off its blade. “Because this scene looks very familiar, except I was actually trying to help you then... well, I suppose I still am. I am trying to help you realize something about consequences to actions.”
But this time, Anti thinks, Henrik won’t be offering him any anesthetic.
Staring at Schneep’s wrists, the monster imagines invisible strings around them, tight and unwavering, dragging the limbs against their will; they tie in their places, but immediately snap away and leave Henrik unaffected. Anti stiffens, confused, and closes his eyes. Tries to leave those bones and possess the captor’s body instead, tries to settle within the doctor’s mind so he can break himself free. But when he opens his mismatched eyes, he is still in his own body, and the doctor is simply smiling down at him with a tilted head.
Henrik grins. “Trying your powers? Good luck with that!” His scarred, calloused fingers drift over Anti’s restraints, then suddenly tug on them hard enough to leave bruises on the monster’s thin wrists. “They are enchanted.”
A low chuckle scrapes through Anti’s throat, as he leans forward as far as he can, arms trembling from the effort. “Oh, my. Does the little kitty know you’re using his claws for such wicked deeds?”
“Marvin?” Though his eyes are joyless, his posture far too rigid, Henrik laughs, lifting a pair of scissors. “Yes, he is right outside that door.”
He gestures towards the closed entrance, where shadows slip back and forth like someone is moving around outside. The monster looks almost impressed at that, but the doctor doesn’t seem to notice or care. “As I said, you are so funny. You think I would do this by myself, you think Marv would care if I hurt you. Funny, funny, funny.”
Instead of retorting, Anti sighs sweetly and asks a question. “So… how long does the enchantment last?” He squints, feigning deep thought, before suddenly raising his eyebrows. “I think a suitable term would be… nine months?”
At that, Henrik reaches across and slaps Anti so hard his skull slams back into the table, the face above him full of simmering rage just beneath the surface. The clang echoes through the small, damp room. “I think it is time we stop chatting, alright?”
There are scissors pressed cold against Anti’s abdomen, threatening, taunting against his skin before they cut away at his shirt; the print on the fabric is torn in two as the clothing is pulled back. He tenses, his face still stinging from the strike across it, and finally shows his anger, glaring up at Henrik. Despite that, his rage is soon overruled by dread when Henrik chuckles at him and lifts a scalpel.
The first cut is not exactly pleasant. It digs terribly deep from his sternum to a few inches above his navel; he grits his teeth and slams his head back into the table. While he tries to avoid screaming, he can’t help but writhe and hiss through his teeth when the blade is past his tenth rib and the pain crescendos. Shaky, strangled breaths tear out of him when Henrik finally draws the scalpel away and lets it clatter to the table.
“Cute,” Henrik mutters, wiping at the cut with a rag as blood starts to pour from it.
Anti is in pain, terrible pain that only grows louder in his mind when Henrik drags the scalpel in deep lines at the corners of his already-existing cut. They’re messy; the monster was squirming far too much to keep them straight, but they look almost like a capital letter “I,” or maybe a stretched-out red “X,” as if to mark the treasure.
Gloved fingers worm their way into the wound, tearing further and forcing more blood to the surface. “Fucking hell!” Anti screeches at the top of his lungs, but Henrik’s dull blue-grey eyes barely meet his own as the skin is slowly and agonizingly pulled back. It’s like being conscious in surgery, it's like being torn apart. His head connects with the table one, two, three times, and the power within him is pushing towards the surface, begging to be free. His hands tremble, magic burning beneath his skin as the enchanted restraints force it back.
It’s then, after a long, bloody scream drips from the walls, that Anti realizes what he looks like right now. Strapped to a cold table, rib cage and organs starting to be exposed, the air stinging against every part of him… he looks like a lab creature, here for dissection. And he is quite the specimen - after all, no matter how much this hurts, he cannot die. His body won’t free him, not yet.
His captor raises his hands, hovering above the disgusting display of blood and gore. Despite their distance from him, Anti swears he can already feel them.
“H-Henrik, Schneep, w-wait. Don’- w- please! Please, please.”
Raising an eyebrow, Henrik hesitates.
The monster’s voice cracks and whines, already worn down from his desperate wails. “W-we made sandwiches, remember? Your- it w- your favorite kind, peanut butter and s-strawberry jam. And I bought you those books, the stupid movies, a whole shelf of them. Christmas gifts, and b-birthday presents, and- you- I- we were friends, y-"
Anti closes his eyes. The pain is smothering him in waves, the ache and sting pushing past the damage and lapping at his fingertips. He has to get the words out, before he fucking drowns.
“I- I love you. I’m sorry. I’m s-sss-sorry, I’m sorry, I’m-”
Finally, something breaks through Henrik’s dead gaze, but it isn’t what Anti wants. Rampage, a painful sort of hatred...eyebrows furrowed and teeth gritted, hands shaking as they curl into fists and slam into the table. Anti flinches at the sudden movement, and even that jolt sends currents of misery through him.
“No, you are not, you piece of shit! Stop lying to me, sick fuck!
Schneep kicks over the cart and tray with a violent scream, letting the tools tumble to the floor. “Oh, I hate you. Son of a bitch, son of a bitch! Tortured me, and you finally got bored of it, so you played nice while you tore me further and further away from my old life! From my old heart! That is not love! That is not friendship! And you are not fucking sorry!”
Finally ending his rant with another shriek, Henrik turns back to Anti, eyes full of furious fire. In a last ditch effort, the monster tries to tear away and cry out for Marvin’s help, begging, shouting, to no avail.
“It took you two weeks to make me beg, and I already have you crying in less than an hour? God, Anti. You really are weak.”
Tears pour from the monster’s eyes as Henrik reaches into the incision, the dissection, the mutilation, and lets the blood spill out. Justified, long-awaited, and vengeful.
(after the discussion about this scene in the first screenshot if its even legible,,, edit: its legible if you click on it, for-fucking-ever ago, reina wrote her own fic titled comeuppance. sorta backwards from this one, go check it out! certainly better than mine.)
some things about this scene, since i couldn’t write it completely accurate or in it’s full extent for the sake of decent narration:
marvin came in the room a few times. he didn’t do anything, he just would drop by to tell henrik an update on the time or let him know marv needed to take a call or whatever. he ignored anti, even though anti begged him for help every time.
for the most part marvin was just outside the door, sitting on a folding chair and checking his watch, picking at his nails, trying to keep the enchantment steady as he hears anti scream. he doesn’t ask what henrik does to him. he’s just here to make sure it doesn’t stop.
anti wasn’t completely lying.
anti is scared of hospitals and medical stuff, thus a large part of his fear is related to that.
it actually DID take a bit longer to get him to the begging and crying point, but i didn’t wanna write too much out. there’s only so much disturbing content a writer’s block-infected kid can put out there.
this isnt all that henrik does!! he makes anti miserable for like 2 hours at least
after henrik was done, he stitched up anti (but only a little bit) and left him in the restraints while he and marvin left. anti has inhuman healing (as well as other abilities, which is why he wasn’t like. dying or passing out this whole time) and so he was okay, but it still fucking sucked. eventually the enchantment wore off and he could escape, but he had to sit there for hours before he felt physically intact enough to even try to leave.
anti deserves it tho
the dismemberment song largely inspired this
the reason anti knew it was henrik when he heard the door creak is bc he’s been here before! this wasn’t where he kept henrik for the full 9 months, but he did have him here the first few days. henrik doesnt know how to find the place where he was for most of it.
i feel like my use of names fucking sucked but thats ok. this is why its hard to write characters with matching pronouns
anyway idk what else to say but it took me weeks to write this bc my writing brain is no longer functioning. have a good day
Nightfall in Seoul - Chapter (1)
Summary: Rosalia decides to go on an adventure in a new city. Chose Seoul. She's clumsy. She's energetic and open for romance. Have I mentioned she's a vampire?
Genres: Romance, Vampire, Modern, Modern fairytale, Fantasy, Comdey, Kdrama
My Masterlist || Series Masterlist
Click. Clack. Click. Clack.
The sound of heals striking concrete rang out. Heels of a black pair of platform chunky pumps with ankle straps. Those shoes were worn by a woman in her early 20s, rocking a long-sleeved black lace maxi dress. With a flowy skirt and wide sleeves that swished with every confident step she took. Her right fingers were delicately wrapped around a large umbrella that was safely shading her from the early-day sun. Her left hand resting inside an inconspicuous side pocket in her dress. She sported round black sunglasses, leather and silver-chained accessories and a bold matte maroon lipstick that contrasted against her pale skin. A smirk was etched onto her lips as she walked down the street, attracting the attention of pedestrians left and right. Not that she minded.
With each of her steps, the ends of her loose short brunette curls bounced slightly, the top of her head adorned with a small wide-brim black hat. Yes, she was certainly dressed in black from head to toe. Even the umbrella. Considering her stride down the sidewalk in Seoul, the capital of South Korea, her gothic style was quite the head-turner. Not that she cared. Even with numerous pairs Of eyes following her every step, she continued her stride. She’d worked so hard to get her family to let her travel alone, to a foreign country that’s in a completely different contenannt than her home, and she wasn’t going to let a couple of pesky humans take away the fun of her stay. Well, not a couple… maybe a bunch… no, a lot.
She shrugged and kept walking, basking in the breezy weather. Her steps halted as she reached a high-rise building. She pulled her phone out of her pocket and checked the address again. Yes, she has indeed arrived. She climbed up the small flight of stairs to the entrance before walking to the receptionist. She took off her glasses, placing them on top of her hat before closing her umbrella. Her amber eyes eyed her surroundings carefully before clearing her throat to the receptionist, who has been staring at her like a deer caught in headlights since she walked in
“H-Hello, Madam. H-How can I help you?” Spoke the woman in hesitant English
“Hey! There’s a penthouse here under the Vladislav name for me. Can I get the keycard and pin please?” Replied the woman in perfect formal Korean speech. The receptionist was completely taken aback now, considering she’d never expected a fancy looking foreigner to speak her language so fluently
“Y-yes, ma’am. One moment, please” she replied, in Korean this time. She scrambled around her drawers “Can I get identification, please?” Once her eyes snapped up, a Romanian passport was placed on her desk. She quickly opened it and looked at the identification page.
“Miss Rosalia Vladislav?”
“Yes! That’s me. Also call me Lia, it’s easier to pronounce, isn’t it?” Rosalia smiled widely before taking back her passport and the offered keycard
“Alright, Miss Lia. Umm.. there is no password for the door right now. You can set it up after you settle down then you shouldn’t need the keycard again. Your luggage arrived yesterday and they were left in the entrance hall.”
“Alright, thank you so much, Jiyoung” she winked at the receptionist and whirled around gracefully, heading towards the elevator. Poor Jiyoung was still caught in the whirlwind that is Rosalia Vladislav.
The Romanian young woman hummed to herself during the elevator ride up. Her striking eyes never leaving the monitor showing the floor numbers. Her entire body was buzzing with enthusiasm. This was it!! The start of her life in Seoul! Her new favorite city. It has been years since she’s lived in a new country and it could even be the first time she’d travelled alone. The possibilities were endless with this fresh start. She kept bouncing ideas of outings in her head. She needed to go sightseeing, eat some street food, learn more about the country. This is going to be so much fun!! She thought, giggling to herself
She reached her floor, the 43rd. She swiftly walked out of the elevator and strode towards her new home’s door. Apartment number 413. She giggled at the number. Leave it to her dad to choose the penthouse with her favorite number. She really was his favorite. She unlocked the door with her card and walked into the pitch black apartment.
She switched on the lights and spotted her three large suitcases left in a neat pile next to the door. She nodded to herself before turning around towards the inside battery cover of the door lock. She pressed on the reset button and punched in her 4-digit lock code and smiled in satisfaction once done. Step 1 of settling down done. Taking off her shoes, she turned towards her bags and pulled two of them with abnormal ease as she walked inside. The living area of the penthouse had large floor-to-ceiling windows that hid under heavy blackout curtains that didn’t let even a silver of sunlight in. Perfect. She thought as her eyes flickered to the small flight of stairs that took to a second level in the penthouse. So it was a two-level. Her dad, once again, went above and beyond for her.
“Gotta call him later when he wakes up to thank him” she mumbled to herself before she headed towards the stairs.
She carried both her suitcases up the stairs with little to no effort. The bedroom occupied the whole second level with the railing from the stairs looking down at the living area that was attached to an open-area kitchen. Simple and elegant, just like her. She placed down the bags next to the bed then turned towards the railing. Placing her hands on it, she swung her weight around and jumped down, landing gracefully on the lower-level like this was the most normal thing to do. Perks of not being human. Yes, she was indeed a supernatural being. A vampire to be specific. She quickly got her third bag and headed upstairs again. Time for step 2 of settling down: unpacking.
Unpacking took a couple of hours. With her super speed, it was a complete breeze. She even took the time to set up a list of the books she wanted sent over to her from her home in Romania. She had a large sturdy book case adorning the hallway wall next to the living area that could handle those. The apartment was indeed beautiful but it lacked her spirit, which prompted the decision of needing to change the decor. She needs to look for paintings and other knickknacks around the small city shops to liven up the area. Maybe even get her sister to send some of her room decorations with the books.
Lia checked her phone. No new messages and it was almost 1 pm. Not a good time to go out, considering the sun would be at its worst now. Maybe she could take a nap. No no. She’ll open up her laptop and watch a couple of episodes of her new favorite kdrama. That was the perfect plan. Time to kick back and relax.
The next day, sporting a new maxi long-sleeved black dress, a new black hat and the same accessories and umberella as the day before, Lia was out the door at 7 am. She wanted to explore the city as soon as possible, even though she barely slept a wink. Excitement was all she could feel and her energy was bubbling, she couldn’t bring herself to lay in bed. Her stride was long and fast as she walked through the streets. She wanted to walk and enjoy the scenery around her that would just pass by if she’d take a taxi or a bus. And walk she did. For hours.
The streets were quite at first as people were still waking up and heading out. But she still enjoyed her time. Humans were so lovable in her opinion. They filled what little time they had in life with so much spirit and all kinds of memories and it really fascinated her. She stood on the sidewalk, waiting for the traffic light to turn green for pedestrians so she could reach the other side. That’s when she noticed something. A man walking with a small girl in hand across the street from her. Father and daughter it seemed. The little girl looked like she was heading to school but she was holding a flower in her other hand and laughing in excitement. They stood next to a young woman and the girl offered the woman the flower out of the blue. The woman looked shocked but at the girl’s insistence, she politely agreed to take it. She looked up at the father who was smiling and started to explain something.
Lia narrowed her eyes in curiosity, she strained her ears and picked up bits of the man’s words. A habit he said. He’d buy a flower for his daughter every morning on her way to school and she’d give it to a stranger. Make someone’s day better so yours would be filled with blessings was his motto. The vampire’s heart skipped a beat at the warm notion. She wanted to learn more about this. Without thinking, she took a couple of steps towards the three people. And that’s when she heard it, the loud honk of a truck on her right. She slowly looked over her shoulder and sure enough, a truck was struggling to slow down, mere feet away from crashing into her. She knew she’d survive this crash, but she didn’t want to cause a scene. Well, honestly, a scene was inevitable at this point. Avoiding the crash would show her inhuman speed. Stopping the truck would show her inhuman strength. Before she could make a decision, her arm was yanked and she was pulled out of the Truck’s way, her face landing square into a muscular chest. She looked up and her eyes connected with a pair of wide brown eye.
Prompt: AU, bored and exploring Malfoy Manor at a social function, young Sirius Black finds an old diary belonging to T.M. Riddle.
Thanks so much for this prompt, Anon! To be honest, at first I had no idea what to do with it, but it would seem Tom’s diary possessed me as well, because once I started, I couldn’t stop. I’ve enjoyed writing teen Sirius a lot, so I hope you’ll also like it.
Shout-out to @mariagvogel for making this one shot better with her comments. It can also be read on AO3.
Sirius hated them all —every fucking member of his family. Nothing could really top his hatred for his mother, who insisted on dragging him to those pure-blood parties no matter how much her eldest son embarrassed her. He was wandering around, sneering at the portraits that lined up the walls of the Malfoy mansion.
Those events were always supremely boring, but Sirius had never felt so utterly alone. Regulus was socialising with their cousins like the good Black son he was. Yet, the only cousin that really mattered, Andromeda, was not present and no one talked about her. Her face still decorated the Black family tapestry, but Sirius did not think it would last long. It was a very odd feeling. When Andromeda talked about cutting ties with her family, they used to laugh about going out in style. He had not seen his cousin in months, though, and, if she had concocted any plans with her Muggle-born boyfriend, she had not breathed a single word about it to Sirius.
The dark corridor he was crossing at the moment threatened to be as dull as the guests downstairs. At least he had managed to slip unnoticed from the party. He could not have shown his distaste as freely there. A somewhat distant crack startled him out of his thoughts. He froze on the spot. That must be Dobby. Although Sirius could not say he liked the house-elf —who was always too overexcited—, he pitied anyone who had to live under the thumb of a prat like Lucius Malfoy. Dobby was also far nicer than Kreacher. Even so, if he saw Sirius snooping around, he would be forced to tell his masters. Sirius would rather avoid angering his mother so soon when there was still a long evening ahead of them.
Thinking on his feet, he walked quickly to the end of the corridor, where a door hid the stairs to the attic. Andromeda and Cissy had discovered that one dragging a very young Sirius with them. He could no longer remember the exact reason, but they had been hiding. It felt like a very far memory.
Sirius closed the door carefully behind him and waited until he heard the second crack that meant Dobby had left. The party seemed not to exist in the absolute stillness of the stairs and Sirius let out a long-suffering sigh. Glancing up, he decided to head for the attic. It was a good hiding place if nothing else.
The room looked dirtier and more abandoned than Sirius remembered. It actually reminded him of their attic at home, full of useless and forgotten pure-blood memorabilia. He stepped around the worn-out furniture, dodging the odd-shaped items scattered in some parts. He could not help thinking that, if the rest of his friends were with him, poking around Malfoy’s stuff would have sounded much more exciting. Alone, however, Sirius did not truly feel like exploring.
Looking round in order to find at least something to distract him from the fact that there was no one to share his findings with, his eyes fell on a small bookcase. The dust made his eyes itch when he got closer and most books did not even have a title on the spine. He gazed at them blankly for a moment longer, trying to decide whether picking them up was worth the effort. His interest was suddenly piqued when he saw a small rectangular item wrapped in fading brown fabric. That time, he took it with no hesitation, revealing a black leather book. It was rather thin and the year on the cover —1942— let him know it was not a recently purchased item. As he opened it, he was disappointed to find there was nothing on the blank pages except for a name on top of the first one: T. M. Riddle.
Sirius let it fall, huffing. An empty diary whose owner did not even have the right surname for the house. He did not really care if it had been someone who had married into the family or if some Malfoy had stolen it. Somehow, Sirius was not able to picture someone staying for a sleepover and leaving their diary behind.
Bored, he sat down on the floor, near the diary. He could already see the others’ faces when he returned downstairs having ruined his new, shiny robes. The mere thought brought a smirk to his face and lifted his spirits lightly. He picked the diary back up. Perhaps no one would ever see it, but Sirius wanted to leave his mark in case someone else found the old thing.
He searched through the drawers and found a couple of broken quills, but no ink. He cursed out loud, remembering the Muggle drawing kit that Moony had gifted him last Christmas. He would carry a pen everywhere if he was not certain his mother would enjoy burning it while Sirius was still carrying it.
Nevertheless, he found a small piece of charcoal and did not hesitate to open the diary at the first page. In big capital letters, just under the name, he wrote, FUCK PURE-BLOODS —SB. He had to admit it looked lamer than it had sounded in his head, so he was trying to come up with another epithet when the words faded away. Blinking, he stared down at the yellowish pages. If it was a means of communication like the two-way mirror he used with Prongs, he might be screwed.
The diary answered right away.
Interesting choice of words to write on someone else’s diary. And who might you be?
Sirius looked at the words for a few seconds. It had been quite a prompt answer for an object that had seemed abandoned just a moment ago.
I’m not telling you my name, he decided to write at last. He was not that much of an idiot.
As you wish. Mine is Tom.
Again, the reply was quick. Sirius bit his lip, rolling the charcoal between his fingers.
Are you friends with the Malfoys?
I might be, came Tom’s enigmatic answer. They must not have taken great care of my diary if you have got your hands on it, though.
The calligraphy was elegant, although not as flowery as Sirius’s. For all his faults, the Malfoys were not as exclusive as the Blacks. Tom’s elusive comments sparked the boy’s imagination and he was already picturing Riddle as the offspring of a marriage between a Malfoy and someone of not such a high standing.
Focusing back on the pages, which had returned to their original state, he decided to try his luck.
Do you write to them often?
I can’t say I do.
Sirius could almost hear the playful tone behind those words.
What would you do if I took you with me?
Write to you, what else?
Sirius’s smirk grew bigger as he closed the diary and threw away the charcoal.
In the end, getting away from the gathering had indeed been worth it. His parents had not been able to do much in public, since they knew sending him home would actually have been a reward. By the time they had got back, both of them had been too inebriated to punish him properly. Sirius had got away with just his hurt pride at having had to apologise to the Malfoys plus a quick stinging hex before being sent to bed. Still, his leg hurt like hell from the surprisingly well-aimed spell.
He was lying on his bed, groaning into his pillow and with absolutely no intention of sleeping. He would like to contact James through the mirror —he did not think anyone would hear him despite the absolute silence—, but he did not want to come across as needy. He could wait until tomorrow to whine and tell his friends all his woes.
Turning around, he sat up and examined his leg. He concluded it would be better not to risk asking Kreacher for a pain potion, since it would lead to his mother hearing about it. In a couple of hours, it would no longer sting. Making what felt like an enormous effort, he stood up and started disrobing. It was only then that he remembered Tom. Still half dressed, he hurried to get ink and quill and got comfortable in his bed. It was pretty late, so he told himself he might have to wait until the morning for an answer.
Are you there?
Sirius smiled at the immediate reply.
I —don’t— regret to inform you that you are no longer with the Malfoys.
His grin grew bigger as he felt clever. He would keep talking to Tom if it was going to help him forget about his misery for a while.
You sound like more interesting company anyway. I take it that you had fun and the event is over?
Sirius scoffed loudly.
I don’t think a single one in that bloody bunch of old snobs know what having fun is like.
You may be right, but why would you want fun when you already have power?
Reading those words gave him chills and sobered him up. Perhaps it was because Tom’s phrasing urged him to agree at first. He frowned and put down the diary to physically distance himself from that feeling. Almost right away, though, he picked it up again.
Do you believe that blood supremacy crap?
He felt something akin to disappointment and had to rein in the impulse to throw a cruder accusation.
What I believe does not matter. It is a fact they have power, is it not?
Sirius liked that answer even less and he felt his frown deepen. He stared as the ink faded, considering what he should retort. Apparently, Tom found his words sooner.
You benefit from that power, don’t you, S?
An inexplicable, overwhelming anger rose in the boy’s throat and he was scribbling furiously before he was aware of it.
Fuck you. My name is Sirius.
He slammed the diary shut and threw it in his trunk.
I’m a fucking tosser.
It was the first thing he wrote in two weeks and the black letters were blurry.
Tom’s response came at once as usual, but it felt oddly impersonal. It was just what Sirius needed, because the last thing he wanted was a friendly ear. He was determined to avoid thinking about the next letter he would have to write to Prongs.
I was going to spend half the summer at a friend’s, but I crossed my mother and ruined everything. I’m not going anywhere now.
A little splash smeared the ink before it disappeared completely. He wiped his eyes furiously while he waited for Tom to say something.
Oh, boo-hoo. Why would you act out if you needed her permission?
Didn’t plan on it, you twat. Just happened. You’d also scream at her if you’d met her, he added before a reply could come.
I think not. I’ve been told I’m a great actor.
Pretentious prick, Sirius shot back. He was feeling calmer, though, and not truly annoyed.
Tom offered no reaction to that, but Sirius did not want to finish their conversation so soon. It was a very welcome distraction from the pain and humiliation that usually followed an argument with his mother.
I don’t know how I’m to survive an entire summer locked up in this house.
Have you tried to escape?
I’m only 14. The Ministry will find me as soon as I try to do magic.
Of course, living as a Muggle is out of question.
Sirius frowned, not liking one bit the mockery he could feel behind the words.
It is when I have neither Muggle clothes nor Muggle money, he retorted.
And your friend? Wouldn’t he take you in?
James would, he was certain of it. However, that would require detailing exactly how bad things were at home. It was not worth it, Sirius told himself as he had a thousand times before. It was only three more years until he could do magic and then no one, not even his mother, could stop him —after all, his fourteenth birthday was just a few months away.
My family would not allow it, he wrote instead.
Are you important or something?
Again that derisive feeling. Sirius could not explain why he felt the other’s intentions so distinctly.
Or something, he agreed noncommittally. He was about to add something else when a knock on his door startled him.
Swallowing with difficulty, he reminded himself that only one person in their household would knock before entering. Not that his dear brother waited for an answer. Sirius had barely had time to close the diary when the door opened. At least, Regulus was not in the habit of barging in.
“What do you want?” Sirius snapped right away, feeling anger consuming everything within him once again.
Any tentativeness disappeared from his brother’s demeanour and his young face hardened. He closed the door after coming in, but did not step closer.
“Don’t take it out on me. I did nothing.”
“Yeah, I think that might be the problem. You never do anything. The perfect son,” snarled Sirius, in a well-rehearsed course of action.
“What d’you expect to get when you insult the whole family? Couldn’t you just go along with it for once and say what she wants to hear?”
Regulus was frustrated, but his controlled manner paled in comparison to the ire running through his older brother, who jumped off the chair, not caring about the noise.
“I’ll never stand by while she badmouths my friends,” he said, barely restraining from shouting. “But of course you don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about. You’d need to have some friends for that.”
The jab hit Regulus as hard as Sirius had intended and his pain was plainly visible on his face. He refused to regret having caused it.
“I just came to see if you were all right, you imbecile.”
Regulus practically spat the words before turning around and taking hold of the doorknob.
“Hurry up and move along, then. I’m fine.”
Regulus opened the door and stared back one last time. His mouth was a hard line and his eyes glistened. He looked too old for his age.
“You’re a liar.”
Have you ever been trapped with no option to escape?
It was the middle of the night of a perfectly ordinary day, but Sirius could not sleep. Luckily, it seemed that neither could Tom.
Most people have at one point or another, came the answer, swift and vague as ever.
His friends were taking too long to reply to his letters and Prongs had forgotten the two-way mirror at home when he had packed for his holidays. Talking to Tom felt just as good, though.
More letters appeared in the centre of the page while he was lost in thought.
What matters is your ability to break free when the time is right.
What is ailing you this time? I can tell you didn’t steal an enchanted diary to complain about your house-elf’s cooking.
Their correspondence was getting more familiar and Tom did not hesitate to cut his ramblings short. Sirius decided not to beat around the bush, either.
Do you come from a pure-blood family?
I have old blood running through my veins, yes.
Sirius had never felt so grateful for Tom’s pretentious nature. He had a feeling the other would understand.
They burnt my cousin Andromeda’s face off the family tapestry. She has married a Muggle-born, so they say she’s tarnished our blood.
And you fear to suffer the same fate?
I’d fear to stay in this house forever, but
He hesitated. Sometimes, he felt as if he were offering up too much information, although nothing he had said so far was truly a secret.
she is my favourite cousin.
The words faded away slowly, as if the diary were absorbing Sirius’s strong feelings behind them, too.
I think she’s forgotten me, he wrote in a rush, feeling extremely self-conscious.
That time, Tom seemed to take an eternity to answer.
Pure-bloods are good at holding power, but their short-sightedness will be the death of them.
The words took Sirius aback and he did not think about his next response.
I thought you fancied that blood crap.
I told you. What I may believe or feel is not important. Ignoring the talent of those who do not fit the ideal perfectly will hardly do us any favours.
Sirius blinked, uneasy at how reasonable Tom sounded. He needed to think, so he wrote goodbye and returned the diary to its safe place. After a while, he realised he could contact Andromeda once he was back at school.
Sirius skimmed through Prongs’s last letter. He still needed to get back to Moony and Wormtail as well. However, no matter how hard he tried, he could not shake off the feeling that his friends were far too predictable. James told him all about his brilliant family holidays, whereas Remus was as bored and lonely as Sirius. And he really could not bring himself to care about Peter’s latest crush.
On top of his apathy, he was worn out all the time. The bright side of it was that he was usually too tired to pick a fight with his parents. He spent most of his time locked in his bedroom, listening to Muggle music or just staring up at the dark ceiling —or writing to Tom. Sirius could not consider him a friend since the bloke had not revealed much information about himself. Yet, during their exchanges, Sirius did not feel quite so sad or angry, just sort of entertained.
There was only a week and a half until the beginning of the new school year. The rest of the Marauders would not be surprised if Sirius told them he had been too lazy to reply to their last batch of letters. Thus, he picked up the diary, willing to forget about the world for a while.
You didn’t write yesterday.
Sirius felt a pang of culpability upon seeing the message. In fact, he had felt guilty ever since school had started. Normally, he waited until his friends had gone to sleep to take out the diary and write on it, sheltered by his drawn drapes. At first, he had looked forward to that nightly encounter, even if it made him feel like he was lying to his friends. During the day, Moony and Prongs were set on finding out what was wrong with him. Nothing Sirius told them stopped their nagging. He could admit he was bloody irritable around everyone those days, but it did not truly warrant their insistence. At least with Tom he had not needed to worry about reining in his temper so as to avoid worried looks.
Nevertheless, eventually, even Moony had let the matter of his bad mood drop. It had led to a more relaxed atmosphere in their friend group and, for the first time since their return, the previous night Sirius had gone to bed knackered and happy and, especially not feeling like he needed to seek out someone else’s company. Frankly, he had not thought Tom would care, but now the guilt rose back up and it was not because he was hiding something from his friends.
I was busy.
It was a lame excuse, but Sirius told himself he did not need to explain his reasons to a perfect stranger.
Hanging out with Hagrid again?
Distaste dripped from the ink of every one of those words.
No, planning a prank for a greasy git. He won’t know what hit him. Sirius’s smirk vanished before it fully formed. He frowned, still thinking about Tom’s comment. What have you got against Hagrid, anyway? He is all right.
That is because you do not know what he is capable of.
Sirius rolled his eyes at the condescending reply. He had known Hagrid for over three years and, while the man had his quirks, he was one of the nicest people Sirius had ever met.
Another sentence appeared as the first one was absorbed by the page.
Want me to show you?
He read the question a few times, trying to understand what it could possibly mean. Tom had never implied they could send anything other than messages through the diary.
“Can’t you– What are you doing?”
It was barely a whisper, but he had already jumped when Moony drew the curtains back and so, he ended up spilling ink all over himself and the diary. His wand was knocked off as well, falling to the floor with its tip still lit up. Sirius barely spared a glance at his friend as he attempted to get away from the mess.
“Bloody hell,” he muttered.
“I’m so sorry,” Remus apologised right away. Turning around for a moment, he retrieved his own wand from his bedside table. “I’ll clean it up.”
With a circular movement, he managed to summon the ink and get it back into the bottle. The diary was intact, not a black trace on it, although Sirius suspected not all the ink had been collected by Moony’s magic.
“Thanks,” he grumbled, because his friend was looking at him with soft eyes full of uncertainty.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you. I just couldn’t sleep and saw the light from your wand.”
“It’s okay. I couldn’t sleep, either.” Sirius huffed, unable to stand the awkwardness any longer. “Sit down, for Merlin’s sake. Unlike others, I don’t bite.”
He received a brief, albeit quite powerful glare as expected, which in return brought a grin to his face as he closed the diary and put it in a drawer for the time being.
“Was that… a diary?”
Moony’s incredulity was obvious, so Sirius forced himself to let out a dismissive snort.
“Just brainstorming our next pranks. Prongs and I still have to take revenge on that Seventh Year Ravenclaw prick for laughing at us when Snivellus and Evans dumped us in the lake.”
“To be fair—”
“I don’t want to be fair, Moony. I want to laugh at Mr Brainy.”
Remus rolled his eyes, but a long yawn interrupted whatever he was going to add. Right on cue, Sirius also yawned.
“I think I’ll go back to bed now. You should try to get some sleep, too.”
“I will,” promised Sirius, smiling fondly at his always responsible friend.
He drew the drapes and snuggled up under the blankets, having forgotten all about Tom and Hagrid.
Guess who is not going home for Christmas?
Sirius was feeling light as a feather and needed to share his enthusiasm.
Did you get your face burnt off the family tree as well?
Not yet, he replied, beaming in the semi-darkness. His penmanship was messier than usual, because his brain was going too fast for his hand to keep up. I’m going to spend the break with Prongs. His parents have invited me to go with them to ski. The entire hols! he added, trying to convey his utter delight, for he felt like exploding every time he thought about the letter he had just received.
My mother will be furious, he kept on, not waiting for an answer. She will have to explain her disgraceful heir has once again chosen blood traitors over the family.
You do realise that, by cutting ties with them, you are only making things harder for yourself, don’t you?
As if I cared. I’m not going to put up with their pompous arses one minute longer than I need to.
Well, perhaps there is something better that you can do at school if you stay.
“What?” Sirius almost yelled, turning it into a whisper at the last moment.
I’m not staying, he wrote quickly.
Why did Tom feel the need to sour his mood like that? He had said he was not upset by the lack of daily updates on Sirius’s part, but he may have lied.
You never let me show you that memory about Hagrid. I could show you things about Hogwarts, places no other person knows about but me.
Sirius felt his hair stand on end. No one should sound so alluring through a written message. Without another thought, he slammed the diary shut and pushed it off his lap. He was suddenly afraid of how much he had longed to accept Tom’s offer.
As if a veil had just been lifted, he realised the diary was an object taken from a family with close links to dark magic and even darker social circles. He had been tired all summer and his bad temper had persisted after getting away from his family. He had only started to feel better once he had stopped writing to Tom every day.
He nearly tossed the diary out of the window, but he stopped when he took it in his hands. Surely, he was overreacting. He had been talking to Tom for months and, even though the other gave him the creeps from time to time, he had felt no dark influences trying to control him. Prongs always said he was paranoid about everything that had to do with dark magic and he reluctantly had to admit his friend may be right.
Tom must be even lonelier than he was to keep him company after all that time, for Sirius would not describe his life as fascinating. He was happier than he had ever been at Hogwarts, certainly, but Tom had put up with his continuous complaints about his family the entire summer. Perhaps it was only fair that he felt ignored since school had begun, because Sirius had indeed been writing less and less frequently as days passed. He felt like a terrible friend —even if they were not such—, so he picked up the quill again, dipped it in the ink and wrote,
Why do you like talking with me?
I thought you were braver. I thought you’d dare uncover Hogwarts’ deepest secrets.
The ink faded away slowly as Sirius found himself unable to tear his gaze away. New words appeared before he could think of an answer.
Let me show you, insisted Tom. It all started when
Sirius slammed the diary shut for the second time that day, although on that occasion his decision was fuelled by blind rage. The urge to know was still there, whispering in his ear that he should continue reading, continue writing. However, another feeling flooded him and he distinguished the sting of something else besides his hurt pride. He was under no delusions that they were friends, but he had hoped —believed— that the other’s interest meant he shared his feeling of comfortable attachment. Sirius had enjoyed being able to say anything without fear of being judged or pitied, but right then, he only felt manipulated.
Truthfully, he had very much longed to know the answer when he had asked why. Instead, Tom had insisted on talking about his own damn secrets and mysteries. In fact, Tom had elegantly sidestepped every personal question and had always sounded more invested in reading about Sirius’s troubles than any good news he brought up.
The hurt cleared his thoughts in the most painful way possible. At that very moment, he could not care less whether he was indeed paranoid or losing his mind. He had itched to know whatever Tom had been about to tell, but curiosity had played no role in it. The pull had been far less innocent than that and, once he could recognise it, he realised it had been there for a while. However, he had never expected that darkness would feel so sweet and intoxicating —so inoffensive.
Damn, he truly was a bloody idiot.
Sirius had bravely fought the temptation to write on the diary again to curse its very existence and, so far, he had won. Still, he had buried the blasted thing at the bottom of his trunk and only taken it out on their last day before the holidays. He was currently waiting for his brother outside the Great Hall, while the students who had already finished their dinner passed by while animatedly chatting about their upcoming plans.
At last, he saw the familiar pale face and hurried towards the small group of Slytherins.
His brother glared at him, but murmured something to his companions and they promptly left towards the dungeons. Sirius could not help frowning at their backs —if the tables had been turned and it was him asking to be alone with a Slytherin, he would have expected a little resistance from his friends. Focusing his attention back on the younger boy, he saw the scowl was still very much present.
“What do you want?”
Sirius swallowed the urge to snap back, irked by Regulus’s defensiveness.
“I’m not going back home these hols, so I need you to make sure this gets back to the Malfoys.”
He handed out the diary, wrapped in the brown fabric, but his brother made no move to take it. Instead, he asked,
“You aren’t coming home?”
All of a sudden, Sirius felt his mouth dry at the vulnerability clearly present in the question.
“Um, I’m… I’m not.” He ran a hand through his hair. “It’s not that bad, though, is it? Mother will be in a foul mood when she finds out, sure, but I won’t be there to aggravate you all every day.”
His light tone was weak and did not get a reaction from Regulus beyond a renewed glower.
“So what, you want me to deliver one of your funny pranks to Malfoy now that he no longer attends Hogwarts?”
“Don’t be daft, I’d never let you take the blame and steal my spotlight.” Regulus refused to say anything and so, a tense silence ensued. Out of the corner of his eye, Sirius noticed they had drawn the attention of some students. He pushed the diary against his brother’s crossed arms. “It’s something I took from them at the beginning of the summer. I’m not interested in it anymore.”
Finally, Regulus took it and started to unwrap it. Sirius hurried to still his hands. Physical contact between the brothers had become rare nowadays, but neither seemed to realise.
“Nuh-uh. Everyone’s always going on and on about how you’re so much smarter than I am, so show a bit of brains. It’s one of those diaries you can’t stop writing on. Took me a bit to figure it out.”
It was not all the truth, but he did not know what the diary was exactly and hoped it was enough to deter Regulus from giving in to his own curiosity.
His brother was still looking back at him with plenty of mistrust in his clear eyes, but he would not keep an item like that —Sirius was sure of it.
“You can give it to Cousin Cissy,” he joked, breaking the silence once more. “I’m sure she’ll be delighted to have a reason to call on the Malfoys and insult the white sheep of the family at the same time.”
He wanted to add something else, either wish Regulus good luck or happy Christmas. In the end, the right words never came to him and his brother walked away after uttering a curt, ‘Goodbye, Sirius.’
It turned out that getting rid of that diary was the best decision he had made in a while. James’s parents had also invited Remus and Peter to their winter house for a week —carefully chosen by the boys so that Moony would not have to deal with any furry problems.
Not even Walburga’s Howler managed to shatter his happiness. It had arrived one morning, while they were all having breakfast. Sirius had prayed for the ground to open up and swallow him whole when he had seen Euphemia’s and Fleamont’s faces as they heard the usual string of slurs and threats —fortunately, Prongs was used to those Howlers by then. For a very long moment, Sirius had also feared what they would think of him after learning he was a thief.
In fact, he had barely dared look up when an ominous silence had returned to their table. However, it had soon been broken by a new string of voices, only that time there was a mix of indignation and reassurance and it was all in his favour. Sirius’s eyes had been suspiciously wet when his friend had clapped him on the back and he had had to talk the adults out of seeing Walburga Black before they went back to school.
Even if he did not manage to find an excuse to stay at Hogwarts during the next break, he would not have to face her in months. It was a very freeing, hopeful thought. He knew that his little stunt would bring other, more serious consequences eventually, but he was not very worried about whatever hell his mother had promised. Hell could not scare him when he already knew what it was like to live in it.
Description: You accompany your friends on a day trip to Animal Kingdom Theme Park where you meet Scott Evans by chance. This one afternoon leads to a year long friendship with both Chris and Scott over text messages and phone calls.
Pairing: Chris Evans x Reader
Warning: Cursing, drinking, maybe a little heartache.
Word Count: 7,750
A/N: Comments and reblogs are always appreciated. Italics are internal thoughts. This is strictly for fun. I know nothing about the lives of these two individuals, so this is purely fiction.
Catch up with chapter 5
Scott called about an hour later. The two of you apologizing to each other which neither of you really needed to do.
“Look, I’m sorry about Chris taking my phone. I should have called you when I got home rather than calling you with Chris there,” Scott said.
He sounded down which you hated. None of this mess was Scott’s fault.
“You honestly have nothing to apologize for. I’m sorry that you were even caught in the middle of whatever that was,” you replied and took a deep breath. “I don’t want to fight with Chris. But I don’t think it’s fair that he gets to pick and choose when he wants to be a part of my life. I mean, it’s been about a month of us barely speaking.”
“Completely agree with you there,” Scott said.
“I get it though, he’s with Courtney now. And for as much as he and I were talking before New Year, I can see how that wouldn’t necessarily be something you could carry on doing when in a relationship,” you said.
“Plus, my brother is a flirt.”
“That he is,” you sighed.
“On to more serious topics. So how slutty did you decide to go?” Scott asked.
“You’re impossible,” you replied.
Jana agreed that neither dress would be considered as Scott put it, slutty. One just showed a tiny bit of cleavage and the other showed just a tad more. You decided that the deep purple flattered more, even if it did show a bit of cleavage.
Ethan arrived promptly at six with a bouquet of roses in hand. The varying shades of pink matched the color of his cheeks, which frankly was adorable.
The Capital Grille was a beautiful restaurant with old world charm. Mahogany stained wainscoting and rich red paint covered the walls. Crisp white linens with intimate lamp lighting adorn each of the tables. It’s far nicer restaurant than the last few dates you have been on. You like Chilis as much as the next person, but Ethan was definitely trying to impress and you appreciated the effort.
“I hear congrats are in order,” you said, pleasant smile on your face.
He ducks his face for a second but then offers a strong grin. “Thank you. Thank you. I take it Jana told you the news?” he asked. You nodded, taking a sip of your champagne cocktail, enjoying the flavor of the peach vodka. “I worked hard and it paid off.”
Lifting your glass, you angled it toward him. “Cheers to making partner,” you offered.
He clinked his glass of bourbon against yours, offering you a gentle smile and a muttered thank you.
Dinner was delicious and the ride home not as awkward as you assumed it would be. While you had known Ethan for over a year, each interaction had only been minutes and it was generally him offering you dazzling smiles. This Ethan was sweet and eager to know about you. The cockiness that he generally pushed out was more subdued and a part of you could see this moving on two a second and a third date.
Ethan walked you to your door and you were almost tempted to invite him in, but you did want to push this into a one and done date. Leaning in, you offered him a hug which he fully embraced. The woodsy scent of his cologne enveloped you as your face rested in the crock of his neck. After you hugged a bit too long, your pulled back with flushed cheeks, only to be met with his soft pillowy lips cooling the heat.
You went to bed that night with a smile on your face. Jana and Scott could hear about your evening later.
Ethan sent you a text around lunch the next day. Just a simple check in that kept that smile going.
Ethan: Hi 😊 Hope your day is off to a great start.
On Valentine’s Day, Ethan didn’t send anything or ask to take you out. It was much too early for something like that in your opinion, but he did send you a good morning text and another that afternoon.
Ethan: I know this is short notice, but can I take you to breakfast tomorrow?
Y/N: That sounds great. Do you want to meet somewhere or are you picking me up?
Ethan: I’d like to surprise you. Pick you up at nine?
Y/N: Great! I’ll see you tomorrow.
Ethan: Have a wonderful day beautiful.
Brunch was at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. The California Grill not only offered dinner with a spectacular view, but it also offered an upscale brunch on the weekends. On your first date, you told Ethan about your love for the mouse. Even though he was a native Floridian, he confessed he’d only gone to the parks a couple of times as an adult.
“We should go sometime,” you said, pointing at the castle that could be seen from your table.
“Yeah?” he asked.
“I mean, only if you want to. It would be a fun date,” you said shyly.
“You’re going to let me take you on more dates?”
What a flirt.
“Or I could take you. Ever think of that?” you sassed.
“Alright. Yeah, you take me out. As long as you buy me a churro,” Ethan said.
“I’ll even throw in popcorn!”
Ethan stuck out his hand for you to shake. You turned your head to the side and gave him a lopsided grin before extending your own.
“Deal,” he said.
The date ended in a sweet kiss that felt right.
It was a week before Chris makes the first move and reaches out to you. Via text message of course. You’re in the middle writing an article about your brunch with Ethan a couple of days ago. The brunch is not a new offering at the hotel, but it’s the first time you’ve dined there and your boss agreed it could be a nice article for the paper’s online edition. Since you thought an article was a strong possibility, your date humored you as you took several photos of your and Ethan’s entrees, the buffet offerings as well as the Bloody Mary bar with your phone’s camera. You’re happy you did. It’s always nice to be able to use your own pictures to add a personal touch to the article rather than using images Disney supplies.
Chris: “Please forgive me – I know not what I do”
Using your love of soft rock against you was a cheap move. He knew about your obsession with Bryan Adams. It wasn’t something you shouted from rooftops, but you also didn’t hide it which is why you confessed one of your more recent regrets was missing him in concert at Red Rocks. A guy you were seeing at the time suggested the trip to Colorado but you didn’t feel the two of you were at the “vacation together” stage.
Chris: Can I call you? I really want to talk to you.
You slapped your phone face down on your desk.
Nope. Not right now. Work first. Chris drama later. Much later.
A second later you grabbed your phone off the desk and saw that a new message had come in.
Ethan: Hi Beautiful. Can I see you tomorrow night?
Smiling to yourself, you typed out a quick reply.
Y/N: Hello Mister charmer. Yes, I’m free tomorrow night.
Hitting send on the message, you placed the phone in the desk drawer. Out of sight, out of mind.
With the dinner dishes currently drying in the rack, you walked outside to your lanai, sitting down on the cushioned loveseat. Tucking one leg under the other, you got comfy. Despite it being the middle of February, the temperatures were still comfortable in the high sixties at night. You dug your phone out of your pocket and passed it back and forth between your hands. The text from Chris had burned a hole in your brain all afternoon, despite your best effort to forget it. Taking a deep breath, you counted to three before hitting the phone icon on Chris’ contact information. If you two were going to have a conversation, you wanted to have some control.
It rang only twice before he answered.
“Y/N? Hi.” He definitely sounded nervous which slightly put you at ease.
“H-hi, Chris. Is now a good time?” you asked.
“Yeah…Just give me a second,” he replied.
It sounded as though he was moving. You could hear voices in the background getting quieter. Then you heard a door close.
“I can call you back later, if you’re busy,” you offered.
“No. No. Just watching TV with a friend. Not a big deal,” Chris said.
Part of you wondered if the friend was Courtney. Not that it was any of your concern.
“I’m glad you called. I was a little worried when you didn’t reply to my text,” he said almost shyly.
“I was working.” You took a breath. That wasn’t the whole truth. “Too be honest, I wasn’t sure I wanted to. This has been weird for me,” you said.
“Been weird for me too,” he interrupted. “You’re right. We haven’t been talking, so I shouldn’t have expected you to have told me you had a date. I’m sorry.”
You’re not sure what you expected from the conversation. Chris didn’t really owe you anything. If you guys weren’t as close as you once were, then that’s just the way it is. But you couldn’t help yourself.
“Why haven’t we been talking? I mean…I feel like I’ve put effort into it. Into our friendship. You know what? Never mind. I appreciate you saying sorry. I’ll let you go,” you said.
“What? No. Please. Tell me what you were going to say. Please,” Chris pleaded.
You let out a slow breath and licked your lips. “You really pulled away in January,” you started. “And maybe the last couple of weeks I’ve stopped trying as much, but I started to feel like I was the only one trying. This…this thing between us shouldn’t have to feel like work.”
He slightly groaned. “I’m sorry. I’ve just been busy and I know that’s not fair to you. Sweetheart, I don’t want to lose you. Can we please try again?”
There he goes again making you weak with that nickname. You truly missed talking to Chris and you really hoped the two of you could get back to the way you were. As long as he tried.
“Okay. But only because you said please.”
He chuckled at your response. “Good. Ma did teach me manors, I’ll have you know,” he said.
“Then how do you explain Scott?” you asked.
You’d like to say that your friendship with Chris went back to daily phone calls and constant text messaging, but it didn’t. It was better, but it wasn’t what it once was. You chalked it up to him being with Courtney and you being with Ethan. The two of you texted each other once a day, but it was mainly memes and the occasional, “how’s your day?” Neither of you brought up your partners. But that was probably for the best. Besides, that just seemed…awkward.
That Magic Kingdom date you wanted to take Ethan hadn’t happened yet. The two of you had been seeing each other for just over a month. Two weeks in, he asked if you were exclusive and you said yes. It might have seemed fast to some, but you were seeing each other every other night. He texted you daily with sweet words and charmed you with multiple phone calls. A fresh bundle of various types of flowers in gorgeous hues of red, pink, yellow and creams were given to you weekly. Ethan was great and you were happy. Were you in love? No. But that’s something that came in time.
While you hadn’t gone on a true double date with Jana and Brooks, you had dined with the two of them at dinners with the other partners. Other nights were spent schmoozing Ethan’s clients. It had become a regular thing the last two weeks. You drew the line at three nights a week. Some nights you just wanted time with your boyfriend. And some nights you just wanted time for yourself. On the nights he was out without you, he’d come over when he was finished to spend the night at your place. Often dragging you to bed way earlier than you were used to. Scott did not appreciate your missed late-night phone calls, but you always made sure to touch base with him at some point during the day. You did not want to be accused of being a friend who forgot about everyone else once in a relationship.
“You’re lucky I love you. Taking your calls during the middle of the day like you’re my mother. Am I going to meet this boyfriend of yours?” he asked.
“Am I going to meet yours?” you countered.
“Touché…So, Chris and Courtney broke up,” he said casually like he was discussing the weather.
“Oh.” You’re so caught off guard, you’re not sure how to respond. “Is he okay?”
“Yeah, they do this. He says this is it this time. They just don’t work together,” he replied.
This is none of my business.
You reply with a hum. Since Chris and you don’t discuss your relationships as some sort of unwritten rule, it doesn’t feel right to discuss his breakup.
Scott seems to get the hint.
“What are you guys doing tonight?” he asked.
“Just watching a movie at his place. Nothing too exciting,” you replied.
Ethan knew about Scott, but he didn’t know Scott was an actor or the brother of Captain America. You didn’t hide it, but Ethan just wasn’t invested enough in knowing your friends. He was busy and you understood that.
Jana had taken a late lunch and met you at a strip mall near her office for a quick lunch and some shopping. With all the dinner dates, you needed to add a couple of dresses to your rotation.
“Are you out five nights a week like Ethan? I just feel it’s excessive,” you asked Jana.
“Kind of.” She shrugs. “Maybe three nights. Some weeks, just once,” she said.
“Then why the fuck have I been going three nights a week the last two weeks? I have to encourage him to go without me. Sometimes I just want to watch TV,” you whine.
She lets out a choppy laugh. “Ethan’s a work-aholic. I’m pretty sure I told you that before you two even got together. He’s just trying to prove himself to his new clients and the other partners.”
You had a pile of dresses in your hands and it was getting to the point where you were pretty sure your arm was going numb.
“Come please,” you beckoned Jana with a head nod toward the changing rooms. “I need you to help me decide.”
She followed you, taking a seat just outside your changing room door. Before you even put on the first dress, Ethan was calling you on your phone.
“Is it Ethan?” Jana asked.
“Yep. Hang on,” you told her through the changing room door.
“Hey Beautiful. How are you? Are you at work?” he asked.
“Good and no, taking a long lunch,” you said while shimming your pants down. Expertly holding your phone between your cheek and shoulder.
“What are you doing?”
“Shopping for some dresses. All these dinners we go on, I’m running out of things to wear. Jana met me, we grabbed lunch before and are headed back to work soon,” you said.
“Oh.” He sounded disappointed “Where are you?” he asked.
“At that strip mall on Citrus near your office,” you replied.
You’ve managed to unbutton the twelve or so buttons on your shirt without dropping your phone. You throw your fist in the air to celebrate, almost dropping your phone in the process.
“Wait, you’re near my office and you didn’t stop by?”
You love that he always wants to see you, but he spent the night at your place last night. But then again, you’ve dated guys that thought two dates a week was a lot.
“Eth, aren’t I seeing you tonight? I just needed some girl time,” you replied.
“Alright, fine. I just miss you,” he mumbles over the phone.
Your cheeks grow hot. This big, bad, scary lawyer is mush for you.
“You’re too sweet. I’ll see you later though,” you said.
“Okay. Bye sweetie,” he said.
You slip on the first dress and walk out to show Jana. She immediately shakes her head and you walk right back in.
The next three she’s iffy about, but tells you to put the last of the three in the maybe pile.
You walk out in the fourth and she gasps. “That’s way too nice for a night out with clients, but that looks so good on you.”
You turn around to get a different angle in the mirror. She’s right. The cobalt blue looks great against your skin tone. The cut making your ass look great. You nod and smile, doing a twirl to make her laugh.
Before you make it back in the changing room, she grabs your hand.
“What did Ethan have to say,” she asked.
“He was just checking in,” you say with a shrug. “Wanted to know if I was stopping by when we’re done.”
“He calls a lot, doesn’t he?” she asked hesitantly.
“Jana,” you half chuckle. “Where’s this coming from?”
She lets out a small sigh. “It just seems like you guys spend a lot of time together. Do you ever feel like it’s lot? You were texting him at lunch.”
You’re not sure what’s she getting at. Yes, Ethan checks in quite often, but it’s a new relationship and you like spending time with him. It makes you feel good that someone cares that much about you. And yeah, it’s a lot, but it will probably lessen as time goes by.
“It’s new, Jana. We’re at that stage where we can’t get enough of each other. It’s fine. It’s sweet.”
She gives you a small smile. “Okay. You’re right. I’m just being weird. I am really happy for you,” she adds.
You walk back into the changing room, suddenly feeling a little down. You change out of the dress, opting to put your dark wash jeans and pink button-down back on. You grab the maybe dress and the cobalt blue dress to pay for. There’s a tiny bit of doubt planted in your mind now and you’re not sure what to think.
Ethan’s cut back on the amount of nights he works late in the office, instead opting to work at your place or at his. He’s even trimmed down on the client and partner dinners, only going if you have agreed to go. It’s a lot of time together and it’s really starting to take its toll. At first, you loved all the attention, but you can’t help but think back to that tiny seed of doubt that was planted a few weeks ago. Scott’s even mentioned that you’re more withdrawn, despite your best effort to call or text him often.
It’s a beautiful spring night and you’re on your lanai enjoying the extra hours of sunlight that April brings. The darkness of winter always gets you down; you can’t help but soak up the sun for as long as you can get it. You’re working on an article for Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival for the online edition. The festival has been going on for a month and you’ve already written a preview article for the paper, but this one is more your speed. You’ve been writing more and more for the online edition. Those articles allow you to really insert yourself into the story and write about the event from your personal experience.
The sliding glass door opens and closes behind you. You feel Ethan’s hands on your shoulders as he starts to gently rub them. An hour ago, volumes from The Southern Reporter and The Law of Torts, as well as his laptop were spread out across your kitchen island.
He kisses the top of your head. “Let’s go to bed sweetheart,” he softly says into your hair.
It’s eight o’clock. And the sun hasn’t set. The urge to snap at him is strong, but you bite your tongue.
“Go ahead without me. I want to finish this tonight so it can go up tomorrow,” you replied.
You turn around slightly and give him a small smile. This has become a normal fight between the two of you the last couple of weeks. Ever since he’s cut back on his nights out. You’ve always been a bit of a night owl, going to bed at ten feels like a compromise.
“Sweetie, I’m beat. It’s been a long week. You can finish that up in the morning. Wake up with me, you sleep too late anyway.”
You sigh out loud. “Ethan, this is work. I really need to get it finished and I don’t want to wake up at six and feel like I need to rush to finish. You’re perfectly fine to go to bed without me.”
He comes around the loveseat to stand in front of you.
“Please? For me?” he begs, voice light and sweet that you almost cave.
You shake your head. You’re not even tired. He’ll be passed out in fifteen minutes and you’ll be lying awake for hours.
“Sorry Eth. I’ll see you in there later,” you said.
You offer him a smile again before turning your attention back to your laptop screen.
“It’s like you don’t want to spend time we me anymore.”
Really? This is how this night is going to go?
“That’s not fair. We see each other almost every day. Even yesterday when I was at the park late for work, I still crawled into bed at your place when I was done.”
“My point exactly, I was already in bed.”
“We’re both busy Ethan. You work a lot. I work a lot. I honestly am giving you all my free time. I haven’t seen Jana in forever and she works in the same building as you!”
The two of you have only been together for two months. It’s too much too soon and you feel like you’re going to implode.
“Excuse me for wanting to spend time together with my girlfriend,” he said abruptly.
“If you’re sleeping, we’re not really spending time together either,” you counter. “I have to get back to this.” You point at your laptop.
“You write stories about theme parks, Y/N. It’s not that serious,” he grumbles as he starts to walk back inside.
You hop up, going after him, catching the door before he closes it.
“What a shitty thing to say. This is my career. I don’t care if I am writing about the neighbor’s dog taking a shit in my yard. I’m a writer and a journalist.”
Your face is on fire and you feel like your heart is going to beat out of your chest.
“You’re right. You’re right. You’re right,” he quickly offers. His hands going to your biceps.
“I think you should leave,” you said sternly.
“Y/N, sweetheart. I’m sorry.”
“Ethan, I need space. Please just leave,” you replied.
He nods solemnly, letting go of your arms and walking back in your bedroom to grab his duffle bag.
He walks back out of the room and gives you a sad smile before making his way to your front door. “I really am sorry for what I said.”
You nod your head and follow him to the door, closing it once he’s through the threshold. There’s a pit in your stomach and you’re shaking slightly. Finding the couch, you collapse onto it and as the tears start to flow. You don’t know if your crying because your angry, hurt, or overwhelmed.
Sleep that night is restless. Ethan has been a part of your day for the last two months. It was an odd feeling to sleep without him. What he said about your job was hurtful. Did he really think so low of you? The man that praises you daily with sweet words and gentle kisses found it so easy to cut you down.
The story doesn’t get posted the next day like you had planned. You opted for a sick day, staying in bed and ignoring your phone completely. You needed a day just for you. The relationship was too much way too soon. You’d always had that independent streak and to practically be living with someone suddenly, it was a big change.
You managed to finish your story before going to sleep that night, e-mailing it off so that it could be posted in the morning. Finding your old alarm clock because you still didn’t want to face your cellphone was a struggle. It was buried inside a box of clothes for donation that you’ve been meaning to drop off for the last seven months. Setting the alarm for nine, you fell asleep easy due to the lack of sleep and the crying the night before.
As expected, you had several missed phone calls from Ethan, a call from Jana and a couple of text messages from Scott and Chris. You didn’t talk to Jana or Brooks at all yesterday and you knew Ethan wouldn’t go to her with this, so you knew it was just a normal check in call you missed. It was hard to listen to Ethan’s calls in the morning. You were still pretty angry at him for what he said about your career. You were also angry at yourself for sticking in a relationship you weren’t entirely happy with. You really liked Ethan and cared about him, but you knew you couldn’t go back to the way things had been. The three messages were all the same. Apologizing for how the conversation went. Saying he missed me and hoped I would forgive him. You still needed more time.
Y/N: I need more time. Please understand.
A few minutes later her responded.
Ethan: Of course. Take all the time you need.
You fired off similar texts about having a migraine yesterday to Jana, Scott, and Chris. Since you weren’t sure what was going to happen with you and Ethan, you didn’t want to say anything to Jana or Scott yet.
A few days had passed when you finally called Ethan and asked to meet at the coffee shop the two of you took to visiting on Sunday mornings. You were nervous about seeing him which was such an odd feeling. You had gone from seeing him, kissing him, sleeping with him, to not speaking for several days and your nerves were shot.
When you entered the small shop, you saw Ethan already sitting at your normal table, two cups of coffee already waiting. He spotted you as well and quickly stood up, offering you a nervous smile.
“Hi,” you greeted him.
He leaned in for a hug and you accepted it.
“Hi,” he responded, still holding you.
When the two of you let go, you took a seat, already grasping on to the mug for comfort.
“Thanks,” you said, slightly lifting the warm mug.
“Thanks for meeting me,” he replied, small smile on his lips.
“Of course. Listen. I’m sorry for how I handled our fight that night. I shouldn’t have kicked you out, instead we should have talked. Actually, I think we should have talked a lot sooner than that night,” you said.
“I’m so sorry for how I behaved,” he interrupted. “I didn’t mean what I said about your job. I over reacted and I apologize.”
“Ethan, it’s more than that,” you sighed out. “We aren’t working. I care about you, but I don’t think we fit together as a couple.”
He starts to shake his head slightly. “That’s not true. We get along so well and we feel so right.”
You take a deep breath and let it out slowly. “It’s just too much for me. All this time we spend together, it’s too much too soon for me. I’ve always liked my alone time, and time with friends. I’m not used to spending every night with somebody. I’m sorry.” You pick up the mug and take a few sips. Breaking up with someone is never fun and your thankful this is only your second time. Granted, getting broken up with is no picnic either.
“But-But that doesn’t mean we need to breakup. I can give you space. Start sleeping at my place more. This doesn’t mean we can’t see each other,” he argues.
You take his hand in yours. You truly do care about Ethan, but you let yourself get wrapped up in someone else which you know isn’t healthy. Ethan pretty much planned your days and nights for the last two months and you just let him. Looking back, you wish you wouldn’t have jumped right into the relationship. Maybe things would have been different.
“I care about you, but this isn’t what I want. I’m sorry and as cliché as it sounds, I want to be your friend again,” you replied.
You’d still see Jana; she was your best friend. Neither of you would want the awkwardness that would come from your regular office visits.
He squeezes your hand and then keeps it encompassed in both of his. He takes a couple of breaths before speaking.
“I’m sorry we couldn’t work this out and I’m sorry if I pushed to hard too fast,” solemnly he replied.
You shook your head no. “That’s on me too.”
The two of you part the same way you began, with a hug.
That night you call Jana and then Scott. Jana’s supportive of your decision but she’s also upset for you. She brings up your office visits and you explain that you don’t see a problem with them. Of course, it will be awkward to begin with, but you hope you and Ethan can get to a place where you’re able to have conversations as you are coming and going.
Scott is taken aback that you’re calling him at midnight your time, he’s even maybe a little surprised you are calling at all.
“I’m sorry, I don’t think I recognize this number,” he said with such snark.
“Is this Chris Evans? Maybe I have the wrong number,” you sassed back.
“You bitch,” he said before bursting into laughter.
“Yes, it’s me calling, brat. Deal with it,” you said.
“The boyfriend let you have a free night?”
Had you still been dating Ethan, you would have only rolled your eyes at that, but now that you’re broken up, it only shows you that you really were wrapped up in each other.
You let out a small cough, then clear your throat. “Well, actually, um, we broke up.”
“You did? I’m so sorry sweetie. Are you okay?” he asked sincerely.
“Ye-yeah. It was for the best. I think I just need to pledge of celibacy. Apparently, I’m not cut out for a relationship.”
“I doubt that. That’s not what he said is it? I’ll beat him up,” Scott threatened.
“No, no. Not at all,” you chuckled. “I broke up with him. I was beginning to feel suffocated by the amount of time we spent together. And if I wanted to do my own thing, he would make me feel bad about doing so. Plus, he called my job a joke more or less.”
“Well, that’s horseshit and I hope you know that,” Scott said.
“Completely agree. Sure, maybe it’s not something I want to do forever, but I enjoy my job and I do it well. It hurt that he said that, which is what caused me to take time to myself and decide to end it. I just need some me time,” you said.
“You deserve it. But don’t get holed up in that house of yours. Call Jana and some of your work friends to go out. You need to let loose,” he said.
“Yeah. You’re right. Probably this weekend.”
But you didn’t. It was work and then home for the last five days. You did make it to the grocery store over the weekend, but that was the extent of your adventures. You hadn’t gone to Jana’s office yet, but you did meet for lunch a few days prior. It was easier to mope at home. Alone.
Scott: Please tell me you’ve left the house besides going to work.
Y/N: I went to the store on Sunday. Does that count?
Scott: Sassy, you can’t stay home and just be sad. That’s not good for you either.
Y/N: I’m fine. I was with someone almost every day for two months, being home alone is a nice change.
Scott: I’m not disagreeing there. But it’s also therapeutic to socialize with others. Maybe get drunk. Dance on a table.
Y/N: That sounds more like your speed Grumpy.
Yes, it was nearing the end of April, but you still had those twenty or so Christmas movies to get through which is what you were working on Wednesday night when Scott called you at a surprisingly early time.
“Guess what?” he gushed.
“What?” you said with a laugh.
“I’m coming to visit you!” he sing-songed.
“What?! When?” you asked.
“Friday. So, you better call in sick or take the day off.”
“Not that I don’t want you to come, but what’s with the last-minute trip?” you asked.
“What? I can’t just want to visit?” he insisted.
“When one of my bestie’s is down, I am there for them. You’re one of my bestie’s and you need me. I’ve already booked the flight, so you can’t say no.” he chided.
“Hon, I appreciate it, but I promise you I am fine. Of course, I’d love to see you though.”
“Good. Then it’s settled,” he said.
“Are you renting a car or am I picking you up?”
“You are stuck with me all weekend, so you are picking me up. I’ll text you my flight info,” Scott said.
“Goodnight trouble,” you replied.
Now you needed to clean your house. Sure, it was clean, but overnight guest clean? Not even close.
It was Thursday night and Scott was packing his bag last minute for his trip to Orlando in the morning. Not entirely sure what their plans will be, even though he’s the one that planned the trip, he packs a little bit of everything. A suit for going out, shorts, tees, sandals, boots.
“Sassy has a pool, right?” he said to himself. “I’m sure she does.”
With swim trunks securely packed in his rolling bag, he zips it up, before dropping it to the floor.
His phone starts to ring and he sees that it’s Chris, suddenly remembering he was supposed to call him to cancel.
“Hey,” Scott answered.
“Hey. What time are you coming by?” Chris asked.
“Yeah, I’m sorry, I forgot to call you. I’m flying out early tomorrow so, I’m not coming by.”
“What? Where are you going?” Chris asked.
“To visit Y/N,” Scott said.
“Why are you visiting Y/N?” Chris asked, surprise evident in his voice.
“Because I want to see her. Plus, she needs me.” Scott answered.
“Needs you? What’s going on with Sassy?” Chris asked, growing tired of this game Scott was playing.
“Why? God, do you not talk to Y/N, like ever? She and Ethan broke up.” Scott exclaimed.
“We talk,” Chris scoffed. “Just not about her boyfriend. When did they break up? Is she okay?”
“Like a week or so ago. Maybe call your friend once in a while,” Scott spit out.
“Yeah, you’re right. You’re right.” Chris sighed out.
When the call ended, Chris wiped a hand down his face, leaning back into the couch cushion. Scott was right. He hadn’t been calling Y/N like he should. When they had that long call a couple of months back, he told her he didn’t want to lose her friendship and while they still talked, they were barely friends at this point. If he was being honest with himself, he was a little jealous that Scott was visiting her. He needed to make a change.
After picking up a very excited Scott from the airport, the two of you made a stop at the liquor store per Scott’s request, because, per Scott, “I don’t trust your wine selection.”
After that regretful stop which included picking up a bottle of raspberry flavored vodka, the two of you stopped at a grocery store for breakfast items, frozen pizza, and chips and salsa. The essentials of course.
After a quick tour of your house including a stop in the guest room so that Scott could set his bag down, he immediately ordered you to take a shower.
“I love you like a sister, but you’re looking rough my dear,” he said.
You had showered that morning, but didn’t put any effort into your hair, makeup, or outfit choice.
“Scott, I really don’t want to go out. I rather just hang out with you. Please?” you pleaded.
“We don’t have to go out, but we are getting pretty tonight. Go shower and I’m going to lay out what you are wearing on your bed,” he said.
You stuck out your lower lip to pout, but complied. Scott was here. In your house! Really, you’d go out if he asked. You started toward your bathroom, Scott promptly slapping your ass as you went.
“Brat!” you said, turning around sticking out your tongue.
After a quick shower, you blow-dried your hair, applied some light makeup before walking your towel clad body to your bedroom. Scott laid out the cobalt blue dress you bought with Jana about a month ago but never had the chance to wear. You smiled to yourself, quickly changing into the dress, opting to go barefoot since you weren’t actually leaving.
Walking back into your living room, you were met with a wolf whistle from Scott. He was dressed in a blue suit, the shirt underneath in a slightly lighter color. The two of you almost matching which made you grin.
“Looking pretty good yourself Evans,” you replied.
“Thank you.” He bowed to you. “Thank you,” he said.
“What are we having for dinner?” you asked.
“Let’s start with the chips and salsa. And the vodka. We’ll have the wine tomorrow,” he replied.
It was going to be a long night.
The two of you never did eat anything else. The bag of chips was entirely gone as well as a lot of the raspberry vodka. Scott commandeered your Bluetooth speakers at one point, starting a playlist he had created. The two of you dancing in your fancy clothes and barefoot to Liam Payne’s Strip That Down.
You know I love it when the music's loud
But c'mon, strip that down for me, baby
Now there's a lot of people in the crowd
But only you can dance with me
So put your hands on my body
And swing that round for me, baby (swing)
“Are you having fun?” Scott yells over the music.
Your body continues to dance to the beat. You offer him a thumbs up, because you’re singing along.
“Oh, strip that down, girl. Love when hit the ground, girl. Oh, strip that down, girl. Love, when you hit ground.”
The song changes to Demi Lovato Confident. Scott starts to sing along and you’re in hysterics.
“I used to hold my freak back. Now I'm letting go. I make my own choice. Bitch, I run this show
So leave the lights on. No, you can't make me behave.” Scott sings out.
Scott grabs you so that your back is against his chest. He takes his phone and starts recording the two of you swaying and singing along.
What's wrong with being, what's wrong with being
What's wrong with being confident?
What's wrong with being, what's wrong with being
What's wrong with being confident?
Scott apparently sends the video clip to Chris because a short time later, Chris is facetiming Scott on his phone.
“Chris!” Scott shouts when he sees his brother’s face on the screen.
“Where are you two?” Chris asks.
You kind of duck out of the way of Scott’s camera. Throughout all your phone calls with Chris going back to October, you’ve never once facetimed him before. Even with the amount of raspberry flavored vodka in your blood, it still made you nervous to talk to him face to face.
“We’re at Sassy’s house!” Scott replied.
Chris chuckled at Scott’s response. “I could have sworn you two were at a club. You’re dressed to go out. Sassy, you were lookin’ sexy in that video Scott sent,” Chris said loud enough for you to hear.
You know your cheeks are flushed, from the dancing, drinking, and now, Chris’ comment.
“This is just how we do big brother,” Scott said. “Sassy’s being shy from the camera.”
Scott flips around his phone so that you can see Chris and he can see you. You wave awkwardly at him.
“Hey sweetheart. Good to see you again,” Chris said.
He looks good, but, when doesn’t he? He’s got on a simple gray t-shirt and jeans, but his hair has grown out a bit and his beard is full.
“You-you too,” you said with a smile.
Scott turns the camera back to him. “Don’t give me that pout. Call Y/N on your own time.”
“I was just calling to see how you to were getting along,” Chris offers.
“Smashingly of course. But if you will excuse us, we have a dance party to get back to.”
Scott disconnects the call before you hear Chris respond back. You give him a smile and resume Demi’s song.
You wake up to another hangover. In your defense, Christmas was months ago. You did pretty well with the whole ‘I’m never drinking again’ thing. Despite Scott being shown where his room is this weekend, he’s asleep next to you. You had managed to change into a t-shirt, but Scott had only managed to take his jacket off. Deciding to let him sleep since he is a guest, you make your way to the bathroom, slipping on a pair of sweats first, and then to the kitchen.
You make pancakes and sausage patties because it’s quick and easy and you really need something in your stomach as soon as possible. It’s already after eleven when breakfast is ready.
Walking back into your bedroom, you crawl back into the bed, running your hand through Scott’s hair to gently wake him. He starts to stir and puts on a sleepy smile.
“Breakfast is ready,” you said softly, withdrawing your hand.
“Well, don’t stop,” he said, eyes still closed.
You let out a giggle and resume rubbing his scalp. “It’s going to get cold.”
When that does nothing to get him moving, you speak again. “I made pancakes.”
“Finnnnee. I’m awake.”
You both spend a lazy day in the pool. Scott lounging on a floaty shaped like a piece of pizza and you on a donut. A frozen pizza is baked around three in the afternoon because your stomach starts to growl much to Scott’s delight.
Jana calls to see how Scott’s visit is going, but you think she’s more calling to pry. When Scott hears his own name, he asks who you are talking to. You tell him it’s Jana and he grabs the phone from your hand. You’re only hearing one side of the conversation but he’s asking her and Brooks to dinner and apparently, they agreed because he tells them we’ll meet them at seven.
Dinner is at a bistro near your house that you’ve eaten at several times before. You always get a cup of French onion soup no matter the time of year.
“Is this one driving you to book an early flight tomorrow?” Brooks teases.
“She won’t let me leave! I don’t know how you worked with her for so long.” Scott replied.
You and Jana shake your heads at their teasing.
“The paper offers great benefits. That’s really the only reason.” Brooks said while shrugging his shoulders.
“You two love me. Don’t give me this shit.”
The table erupts in laughter and you find yourself smiling for a second night in a row.
Scott and you opt for more pool time on Sunday. His flight isn’t until six that night, so neither of you are in a hurry.
“How are you doing?” he asked.
“I’m fine. I’m really glad you came out. This was a lot of fun,” you replied.
“It really was. I’ll bring Zach next time.”
“That’d be great,” you said.
“How are you feeling since the breakup?” Scott asked.
“Mostly good. Ethan was a really good guy, but we moved too quickly. He moved too quickly, but I just went along with it. I’m sad it didn’t work out, but I learned what I don’t like.”
“Oh yeah? What’s that?” he asked.
“Losing myself. While I was still very much me, I caved a lot. Mostly did what he wanted to do. I love being in a relationship and spending time with someone I care about, but I’m also important. My work is important to me. My friends are important to me. I lost a bit of that when I was Ethan.”
Scott offers you a smile. “You’re still very much Sassy to me.”
“Always,” you replied.
With Scott safely in the air, headed back to L.A., you resume your Christmas in April marathon. You’re phone rings with Chris’ name on the screen. He hasn’t called you in months, so you’re a bit surprised. You hit pause on your movie and hit the call accept button.
“Hey sweetheart,” he said.
“Scott’s already on his way home if you are looking for him.”
“Yeah, I know. He called me from the airport. I just wanted to call and talk to you, if that’s alright.” He said.
“Yeah. Yeah, that’s completely alright. Dork,” you chuckle out.
“Oh, I’m the dork? I’m not quite sure about that.”
And just like that, the two of you started to build up your friendship like it was the first time around.
Tag list: @tanelle83 @pinknerdpanda @allaboutthebooz @estillion14@patzammit @heartislubbingdubbing @collinsstanharbour @twittytelly @thefandomzoneisdangerous @linki-locks11 @mywinterwolf @ab-baybay @rda1989 @impalaimages @jesseswartzwelder @rainbowkisses31 @xostephanie @smoothdogsgirl @mrsambroserollinsacklesmgk @xxloki81xx@panicfob @mustangshelby04 @bellaireland1981 @carolina-thiell @straightforwardly @torntaltos @denise1605 @mcuclintasha @southerngracela @iam-cj @trynnabemultifandom @chrisevansforever @kelbabyblue @broadwayandnetflix @kyjey @thevelvetseries @i-just-feel-like @daddieslittlefangirl @hista-girl @stankface @denisemarieangelina @im-not-an-armrest-im-short @whymalu @the-doctors-fallen-angel @mariswritingforfun @tessabb7 @chrisevansfanfic @lakamaa12 @thinkxlovexloud@deidrashouseofpain @nea90sweetie @the-murder-strut-murdered-me @greyeyedsmile14 @dangerouslovefanfic @ripvandrinkle @bitterstar88 @andymi3ntus @zestygingergirl @xstudiousslytherinx @hidden-behind-the-fourth-wall @cocomel0613 @onceuponathreetwoone @supraveng @michelehansel @fanfictionaffair @genesgoingtohamslam@barnesthot @chrisevansforever @agirlcanstilldream @what-is-your-plan-today
Summary: The 118 throw Hen a leaving party after she gets into med school. Buck gets her a leaving present.
Written for 911 Week Day 5: “It’s okay, you can cry” + comfort.
Tags: @sofuckingchuffed; @evansdiaz; @orchidlover; @maddiehans; @kiki742; @scandalnewbie; @rynewind; @bisexualbuck. As always, let me know if you want to be added to or taken off the tags list!
They’d done a good job on the banner, all things considered.
“Thought about just using the other side of the one from my party,” Chim grinned, handing her a plate of cake. “Saving paper. But nope. Sprung for a whole new one, so, you’re welcome.”
“It’s a good effort,” Hen nodded, tilting her head as she studied it. “Who wrote it? Can’t have been you; I can read it.”
Chim pressed a hand to his chest. “You wound me, Hen. Truly. My handwriting is its own art form.”
Hen raised an eyebrow.
“Bobby wrote the main bit,” Chim admitted. “He offered.”
That made sense. She could see it in the curve of the letters, recognised it from post-it notes left on the refrigerator, from messages in Christmas cards. A bright, bold ‘Congratulations!’, capital letters in red marker.
Hen squinted to read the addendum someone had scrawled underneath in black pen.
“Yeah,” Chim snorted. “Buck made some edits.”
That made sense, too. She could just make out what the letters said, and she could hear it in his voice.
’Don’t forget about us when you’re a hot-shot doctor!’
She’d done it. She’d passed the MCATS. She’d got into medical school.
She only wished she didn’t have to leave the 118 to do it.
It was weird being on the other side of the surprise party. Not that it had been a surprise; she’d overheard too much hushed whispering and stared down too many looks of feigned innocence to not be suspicious. But they’d wanted to throw her a party, so she hadn’t said anything. It wasn’t their fault she was the single greatest party planner in the firehouse. They’d have to get used to managing on their own without her.
Thinking about that made her heart hurt, so she tried not to.
This was a good thing. A great thing. That feeling of saving lives, getting to know for sure that the person you were saving was going to be okay, getting to go past those doors and help more than she was used to, it was everything she wanted. And she’d still have her friends. She’d still have barbecue invitations to Athena and Bobby’s. She’d still go to the bar with Chimney. She’d still take Denny over to Eddie’s for playdates with Christopher. She’d still find a way to destroy Buck at video games. It wasn’t really a goodbye. But it was the first time she’d walk out the doors knowing she wouldn’t see everyone back there in a couple days’ time.
“Hey.” Karen reached over, brushing her thumb against the back of Hen’s hand. “You okay?”
“Yeah,” Hen smiled back. She set her plate of cake down untouched on the table closest to her. “I’m just gonna take a little walk. Get some space from this party for a second.”
“Okay.” Karen leant in to kiss her. “But once they notice you’ve ducked out I don’t know how much peace you’ll have.”
“I only need a minute. I promise.”
The rest of the station was quiet. Hen found her way to the locker room and sat down on the bench, taking in every detail of the room, committing everything to memory. Every mark on the linoleum. The feeling of the wooden bench beneath her hands. The sound of her friends, her family, in the loft above.
A soft rapping against the locker room wall made her look up. Buck smiled, one hand held behind his back. “Hey. You ducking out on your own party?”
“Just for a second,” she said. “Gotta get used to not having you guys around sometime, right?”
“Oh, we’ll always be around,” Buck shrugged, grinning. “You can’t get rid of us that easy.”
“I guess that was me being naive,” she smiled back. “Whatcha got there?”
Buck grinned wider. “It’s a leaving present. Leaving presents, I guess. You want ‘em?”
“Are you kidding? If I’d known there were presents coming I wouldn’t have run away from the party.”
Buck laughed. He crossed the room to sit beside her, pulling a familiar box out from behind his back. “This is the first thing.”
Hen peered through the transparent lid. “More cake?”
“Cupcake,” he corrected. “Red velvet. You know, because you’re about to be a doctor and all, I figured I should repay the favour and get you something that-“
“Bleeds when you cut it.” Hen breathed a laugh as she took the box from him. “Like I got you.”
“Thought you should get used to all the blood and whatever before medical school.”
“Because eight years of being a firefighter and a paramedic and three years of knowing you haven’t been enough to prepare me for facing trauma calls.” Hen elbowed him in the ribs. “Thanks, Buck. This is really sweet.”
“That’s present number one,” Buck said. “Present number two isn’t cake.”
Hen watched him reach into his pocket and pull out a narrow rectangular box. He handed it to her, watched her take it with a confused furrow between her eyebrows as she carefully slid the lid off.
Hen took the contents of the box out and held it between her fingers. It shone silver in the light that reached them.
“So doctors all have fancy pens, right?” Buck said after a moment’s silence. “They keep them in their coat pockets and whatever. I don’t even think they use them, I’m ninety-eight percent sure it’s just part of the look, but you’re going to be the best doctor California’s ever seen so obviously you need your own.”
Hen brushed a thumb over the engraving on the side of the pen.
“And I got them to put your name on it too,” Buck smiled uncertainly. “Do you like it?”
Hen read the swirling script over and over again until her eyes blurred.
Doctor H. Wilson.
“Aw, Buckaroo.” Hen smiled, swallowing the lump in her throat as she put the pen back in its box. “I was doing such a good job at holding it together and you do this to me?”
“It’s kind of a reminder, too,” Buck admitted. “I thought if I gave you something you would see every day you wouldn’t forget that we’re all here for you, no matter what.”
Hen set the box down on the bench between them, blinking quickly.
“It’s okay,” Buck said, his voice soft. “You can cry.”
Hen gave a shaky laugh, reaching to hug him. “I know it’s not like I’m never gonna see any of you again, but I’m really gonna miss you.
Buck hummed. He wrapped his arms around her, rested his chin on top of her head, and hugged her tightly back. “We’re gonna miss you too.”
Ahh my fish slapping comment xD lolol I am happy it makes you laugh but no reference. It's something I just have been saying since like, oof I was like 14 and on the internet? I truly don't know how or why I started saying this but I randomly did and it stuck with me ever since. Sadly not a cool backstory to the fish slapping
True, true. While you will spot similarities (as they are under the same company per se, that also means the manufacturer who creates the merch has things set up for not just one specific artists always) its how they do make it unique for said fandom. It is the first round of the new hybe rebranding so let's see how it goes for sure! I have some minor worries but I'm being optimistic! Oohhh that si also a good idea! I do know bighit did this for bts and school luv affair if memory is correct. The re-released that album for its anniversary as limited edition and I think there was some small merch for it as well. I do think that will be cool for the boys as well but as you said, we may have some minor issues with the repriting. Sometimes that can be solved but other times that cannot so sadly we don't know. I believe you can(?) Still get their older albums. Granted last time I saw this was during oh my era so I haven't checked since then via online stores.
Oohh no that makes sense! Doing bday merch isn't all too bad (granted not a western artist thing from what I have seen) but it is just well, capitalism lol. I do think they could have done the scoups (and possibly future members) differently. Like a book with pictures isn't a bad idea but idk...give me some pizzaz ya know? Like I get the simple design and I respect that but like you said, make it be related to the members personally like a cherry for cheol or tiger themed for hoshi (it would be chaotic but I would be here for it) if it is meant FOR fans. Make it seem like it has some thought besides just wanting an extra $$$ ya know? Apparently I saw that the scoups book has the letter H on the spine so some theorize that all together you get "happy birthday" spelled out which is unique if true! I just hope it is a bit ya know, something more. Not the worst but I hope you know what I mean! Ahh gotchas, gotchas. No, no thay makes sense with the svt ring merch. I think doing rings isn't a bad idea but it could have been a bit more unique to "carats" so have the ring be in either the official svt colors (so one in serenity and another in rose quartz) with something like "say the name! Carats!" Engraved into the ring, that would be I think a cute idea? A way to connect to the boys while being something unique? Of course it could be a bracelet or a necklace with a small pink or pastel blue diamond instead with a little charm with the engraving I suggested. Being too close to the rings the boys wear I think is slightly stepping lines but making a ring that is different but related to svt would be a good balance? Again just my suggestions (which am curious on your followers on what other merch would you like to see? I feel like you could so so much here! Just please no more plastic water bottles xD)
Oof yeah I think for me it is a similar time? Plus I sadly am not doing great money wise this week so I sadly have to miss out on it. But to those that will, have fun! I watched the 2018 one and it was fun (granted many stuff was cut? K believe the special solo stages weren't shown in the official vlive video) but it was a fun time so enjoy this year's caratland!
dhfjf that's fun though! the fish slapping does make me laugh 🤣
yeah i have hope for merch in the future as well! as far as old albums go i just bought my first "old" album this summer which was YMMDay and I ended up getting it used... a lot of sites have YMMDay and other old SVT albums listed but they're all sold out and as far as I know pledis isn't still printing new albums except for those on weverse shop (so like an ode onward. although i just checked and an ode and hitorijanai are sold out on WV shop too rn, idk if that's temporary or if they're permanently sold out too...). honestly this is why I'll probably keep buying svt's albums as they come out just so if i want them in the future i don't have to search for it, in hindsight i really wish I had just bought YMMDay back when it came out 😭
yeah exactly, i just wish they'd put more effort/personalization into the design rather than making it an obvious cash grab... it would be a cute design feature if the spines spell out happy birthday! and yeah exactly instead of the ring they could have done something else with its own meaning 🥺
I'm also interested in other carats merch ideas... whenever i see ppl talking about it i feel like they have such good ideas. and there are some carats on like twt and such who do merch resigns or theoretical concepts just for fun and they always look soooo good. honestly pledis/hybe just hire some carats for your merch team... DHGKGJG
caratland has come and gone which once again shows how long it took me to answer this DHFKGJ i know i don't have to explain myself but just to give you an idea of what I've been up to i was on the road for a week coming back to the Midwest and then going my sister's graduation ceremony and seeing family i haven't seen since before covid, then i moved into my apartment and spent a week settling in and catching up w a few friends i haven't seen since before covid, and today was my first day of classes! so I've been a bit busy and socially drained (but in a good way!) the last few weeks. but i did enjoy caratland! especially perf. units cover of chocolate, that lives in my head rent free DHFKGJ i think the links i posted before got taken down though, I'll need to update those at some point... did you have a favorite part from caratland if you watched it? (or from any clips you've seen djfkgjg)