green to red
I had a dream about you last night || j.p.
James Potter x fem!reader
“Even when you’re gone, you are all that haunts my dreams.”
A/N: Happy (belated) birthday to the only man ever <33 I am illiterate, so I had a mental breakdown writing this <3 please enjoy!! special thanks to @anchoeritic and @gxtitobxby for supporting me via discord and for making fun of the time I got hit by a car :)) @skullsontess07 I finally posted it pls don’t hurt me <33
Warnings: alcohol, allusions to sex, death, bad writing, especially towards the end. barely proofread because I don’t believe in mistakes <3 /j
Please do not repost this!! I do not consent to this piece of fiction being published on any other site besides tumblr unless it by my doing.
The ticking of the grandfather clock thrummed in James’ ears as he tipped back the empty bottle, the smell of whiskey heavy in the air. He leaned his head against the cold surface of the white plaster wall, scanning the textured ceiling with misty eyes. His home, still half furnished, was riddled with traces of something better forgotten. Even with the weight of alcohol on his breath, his mind is running with memories and daydreams of her.
He closed his eyes, forcing the imagery away. In the distance, a train chugged on, its lone whistle echoing in the night, and James can’t help but be pulled into an uneasy slumber, memories still flashing through his mind like a broken film.
“Prongs, you git! We’re going to miss the train if you don’t hurry your fat arse.” Remus shouted, frustration seeping into his humoured voice.
“Relax Moony, we’ll be fine,” he replied, breath heaving slightly from sprinting across Platform 9¾, just narrowly having avoided knocking over an elderly witch.
As the four boys approached the entrance of the cart, the train’s departing whistle blared. They boarded quickly, though not without receiving a glare from a crew member.
Hurrying down the corridor, the boys glanced through every compartment window, though each appeared to be full of giggling sixth years. That is, with the exception of one.
Near the back end of the Hogwarts Express, was, at last, an empty compartment save for a singular figure slumped against the window. With no other choice of seating, the gaggle of boys slipped in silently, Sirius and Remus snagging the seats opposite to the slumbering girl, their pinkies linked as they whispered conspiratorially amongst themselves.
Peter, as adverse to the female race as ever, took the seat closest to the door, leaving James to be wedged between the mousy blonde and the stranger, careful not to bump her with his broad shoulders.
The train ride was filled with hushed whispers as the marauders discussed this year's prank for the welcoming feast, a customary tradition they held sacred, as to “start the year right.”
As they began going over the mechanisms of their plan, they felt the train begin to swerve as it approached a sharp turn. The compartment shook slightly and James suddenly felt a weight on his right side.
He stiffened, glancing over to see that the girl’s head had lulled over from the compartment wall and onto his shoulder. James recognized her as a student in their year. Y/N, who had tutored Regulus the same day that James had helped Sirius prank him as petty revenge for a now long-forgotten argument.
And well, perhaps James had wanted her to notice him for once. If so, it had been a successful endeavour as he remembered the way her face had contorted in anger, though her attention had remained just as elusive for the remainder of their fifth year. So… perhaps not so successful.
He flushed at the memory. She was now even prettier than the year prior.
“Oh? Is that a blush we see, Moony?” Sirius taunted, nudging Remus with his elbow as he snickered at James’ scowl.
“Bloody hell, piss off, will you? You’ll wake her–”
He felt her suddenly stir beside him, brows creasing as though on the cusp of consciousness.
James held his breath.
The moment passed as Y/N nudged her face further into the crook of his neck before settling back into a peaceful slumber.
Perhaps he wouldn’t need the prank to start the year right this time around.
It seemed that sixth year would be a good one for James.
In the early morning of a mid-March day, an unlikely scene unfolded between the shelves of Hogwarts’ library. There he sat beside a bleary Y/N, voice still drowsy with sleep as she read aloud a passage from the Herbology textbook perched between them.
Initially, James had detested the thought of having to wake up at such an ungodly hour for the sake of a project. No other time had fit, not with his Quidditch practices and her absurd number of tutoring sessions.
Though now, as the early rays of sunrise filtered through the library’s mullioned windows onto her skin, James thinks that there is nowhere else he would rather be.
He thinks this moment will be ingrained in his mind forever.
“–once a century, the Flutterby bush produces flowers able to attract the unwary.” she paused to yawn, eyebags evident as she turned to meet James’ gaze. She scrunched her nose and he swore he swooned at the very sight. “Are you even listening to me, Potter?”
“I’m always listening to you,” he replied, tilting his head. She grins in response and he notices just how beautiful it is.
She shifted her gaze back to the textbook lying in their laps, picking up where she had left off.
“Its scent adapts–”
James leaned forward suddenly, capturing her lips in his. The book fell closed between them.
Immediately, almost though by instinct, Y/N reciprocates, moving her lips gently against his as her hand cups his cheek. James finds himself gripping that hand as his other wraps around her waist, finding the small of her back and pulling her impossibly close against him.
She tasted of cherry chapstick and peppermint bubblegum, and though there was nothing particularly special about those flavours, on her, James swears that he could drown in his intoxication alone. Her perfume wafts through the air, the scent causing him to groan against her mouth.
When they separated at last, his head was swimming in euphoria, his expression dazed. Y/N blinked up at him, sleep wiped entirely from her expression.
“Its scent adapts itself during these times to attract said unwary.” she finishes, sounding breathless still, voice trailing off as James began to laugh hysterically.
She rolled her eyes, smiling sheepishly.
When James still couldn’t stop laughing, Y/N gripped his haphazardly tied red and gold tie, using it to pull his soft lips against hers once more and he was sure in his mind that there would no one else for him.
Beneath a great oak tree in the courtyard lay two figures. Under the tree’s twisting branches, they hid in its cool shade from the sweltering afternoon sun. Few places aside from the castle offered shelter from June’s blistering heat and as the semester approached its end, they finally allowed themselves to rest in the gentle breeze.
James was leaning against the thick trunk while Y/N’s head lay in his lap. His elbow was resting on her abdomen as she drew on his hand, doodling intricate flower designs alongside some… less desirable things.
He felt his heart swell with joy as her laughter filled the summer air and before he could catch himself, he blurted out the thought that had been weighing in the back of his mind since they had started dating.
“Do you ever think about your future?"
He felt the scratch of her muggle pen slow, as though pausing in thought.
"I want to grow old and die surrounded with people I love, knowing I lived a long and fulfilling life. You know, typical boring stuff," she replied after a moment's consideration. Her eyes twinkled with more, though Y/N never indulged in half-thought-out plans.
"What about you?" she questioned with the tip of her head. James didn’t need time to think about it. He had known his answer since that fateful September morning when she had slept on his shoulder throughout the entirety of the train ride.
"I don't care what my future is as long as you're there" he answers truthfully.
Y/N flushed, her ears heated. She looked away, the corners of her lips turning up in the barest hint of a smile.
James freed his hand from her loose grasp, hooking her chin to look back towards him before leaning in to kiss her.
Even after all these months, he relished in the taste of her lips. He doubts he’ll ever be able to get enough of the feeling.
He doubts he’ll ever be able to get enough of her.
The sun was setting in the west on a quiet evening, its golden rays shining on the slick skin of two lovers as they untangled themselves from the sheets, unable to hold in their laughter when one got his foot stuck in the knot of their crochet blanket.
The air hung heavy with the scent of sweat and endorphins as Y/N laid back, her body still bare, not bothering to cover it.
James propped his elbow beside her head, careful not to press on her spread-out hair, his face filled with ecstasy and pure bliss.
He will never get used to the sight of her in his bed, giggling as the sun reflected off her silky skin. The image of her underneath him is cemented in his mind, permanently lodged there as solid as concrete. He knows now with absolute certainty that there would be no one else for him.
James’ smile widened further as he nudged his nose into the crook of her neck, leaning in to place a kiss there when his vision blurred.
It was no longer sunset. Rather, the two of them were now enveloped in the dark of night and James is certain he hears the echo of a familiar spell ring off in the distance.
He pulls away from Y/N’s neck.
She was no longer shaking with laughter, but rather, writhing in pain. There were lacerations all across her torso and James felt something sticky underneath his hands.
They were laying in a pool of her blood.
Panic clawed at his throat and though he had never been averse to the sight of blood, yours was an exception. The taste of bile clung to his tongue.
“No... No no no no no,” he whispered in disbelief. Swivelling his head, outside the window, he spots a cloaked figure wearing a mask of silver disapparate.
Grasping for the wand strapped to his side, he murmurs a healing spell, gasping for breath when the wounds remain open. His head was spiralling as Y/N shook her head almost imperceptibly, grabbing at his wrist with a shaking hand.
Carved into her arm was the word “MUDBLOOD” and James felt his vision turn red, suddenly hyper-aware of the blood pumping through his veins.
“James…” she rasped. He gripped her shaking hand.
“Why isn’t it working? Why?” he cried, tears streaming down his face, struggling to breathe.
“Whatever our souls are made of,” she gasped, blood spurting out of her mouth. Her beautiful mouth, the one that tasted of cherries and peppermint, was covered in thick, crimson blood. “you and I are connected.”
“No! Stop with this rubbish, you’re not going to die!” he sobbed, gripping her bloodied hand like a vice. She continued as though he hadn’t even spoken.
Perhaps she was too far gone to hear him.
“Wh-whatever is beyond this life,” violent ruby coated her mouth as she coughed, blood splattering onto her smooth skin. “Promise me, y-you’ll find me again.”
“I promise,” he cried, sobs racking through his body.
But she was already gone.
James woke with a start, gasping for breath with the taste of blood and “promise” still coating his tongue. He was alone in a house built for two.
In his fitful sleep, he had knocked over the empty bottle of whiskey beside him.
She had hated whiskey.
A fresh wave of misery washed over James, adding to the dull pain that never seemed to go away, throbbing through him as naturally as the blood in his veins. It wasn’t enough that she existed still within every corner of their shared home.
Even in his dreams, he is haunted by her memory.
Polyam Alien Merfolk
GN reader X M mer-alien X F mer-alien, 6,743 words
Crashed on an alien planet and taken in by a couple, this story was uh, pretty self-indulgent for me. Not sure if anyone else is going to like it but I liked writing it.
CW: mentions of being in a cult and descriptions of family death and cult behavior.
“Is it like, alive?”
The voice was soft, coming from just over your head. Something sharp prodded your side. You groaned.
A second voice came from closer to your feet. “Sounds like it’s alive.” This voice was rougher, raspier, though also higher pitched than the first voice.
“Is it hurt, then? We can’t move it if its hurt.” The sharp thing poked your side again. “What if it’s really badly injured?”
Dimly, you were aware of sunlight against your face. Most of your body was covered with your skintight flight suit, but your face was exposed, and, from the feel of it, entirely covered in sand. Actually, given the grittiness in your mouth, most of your insides were coated in sand as well. The hard rock of nausea in your gut told you that you had probably swallowed a decent amount of sand too. Your lungs felt like they’d been aggressively sandblasted. Every breath stung like needles.
“Then there’s nothing we can do and it’ll die,” the second voice said. “It doesn’t look injured. I think. I mean, I don’t know alien anatomy, but everything looks right, doesn’t it? No blood. Nothing’s sticking out weirdly.”
“Internal injuries!” the first voice insisted. “What do we do? A doctor’s not going to know what to do about this.”
The nausea that had been churning in the bottom of your stomach abruptly kicked up a notch. Apparently, your body had decided you were awake enough to retch. Automatically, you twisted onto your side, abdominal muscles heaving, and a gush of fluid poured out of your mouth.
For the next minute or so, you were thoroughly occupied by vomiting. The nasty tang of saltwater mixed with bile filled your mouth and your injured lungs screamed for air every time you heaved. Finally, you were only dry-heaving and coughing into the sand. Somewhere nearby, you could hear the soft rush of waves against shore.
Groaning, you slumped onto your back once more. Sand shifted and crunched as you moved. Your head was clear enough to start putting the pieces together, though. You remembered… a space battle. Your little fighter had been hit. It had fallen.
“Hey.” The first voice was speaking again. You turned your head toward it. “Are you feeling better now?”
The speaker was covered in mottled scales, a dark green-blue near its back and a pale whitish color on its belly. From the waist up, it was humanoid, with a fairly human-looking face, large, fan-like fins along the back of its head and trailing down its back, and finned hands. From the waist down, it had the long, slender and finned body of some kind of sea snake. All of its fins had ruffled, fancy-looking edges and they were flushed a striking shade of red. Next to him was a slightly larger creature of the same species. This one had smaller, much duller fins and a slightly chunkier, rounded frame.
You tried to respond, but all that came out of your throat was a groaning hiss. The first speaker cocked their head at you. “Can you not speak? Could you not do that before or were you hurt?”
“Maybe that’s how it speaks,” the second speaker said.
“No! I’ve seen videos of them before, they speak like we do.” The second speaker rolled their eyes. The first speaker ignored them. “Hey. Hey! You okay? Blink twice for yes!”
You stared at the first speaker. They tilted their head back at you. “No? Not okay?” How were you even supposed to answer that question? You didn’t feel particularly hurt so much as pretty uncomfortable, but you didn’t feel totally put together either. After another moment of consideration, you made eye contact with the first speaker and carefully blinked twice.
“It’s okay!” they cried in utter delight. “Look, see?”
“Then we can move it somewhere. Get the interstellars involved. Go for the head, I’ll get the legs.”
“Why do you get the legs?” the first speaker whined. The second speaker ignored them and seized you by your ankles, hefting your legs up onto their shoulder. The first speaker, grumbling quietly, heaved your top half up.
Despite looking like sea creatures, they navigated the sandy dunes with a surprising level of ease. Within a few minutes, you were being set down on the wooden floor of a tiny, one-room building. The floor was flat underneath you, but you could see a slope leading into the ocean. The home was partially open, allowing for a smooth integration between water and land.
“Can you sit up?” The first speaker carefully lay you against the wall so you were in a seated position. “Naerie, can we get some water?”
The second speaker, Naerie, appeared holding a small, wooden cup. She passed it over to the first speaker, who held it to your mouth. “Here. Drink,” they said.
You sipped slowly. It wasn’t as pure as the water you were used to on your ship- it had a strange, slightly plant-like taste to it. Still, it was water and relatively clean, and it helped focus your mind and soothe your throat.
You leaned away from the water glass and cleared your throat. It was still sore, but it was functional. “Where am I?”
“It speaks,” Naerie said. Their voice was mildly surprised.
“Yeah. It does,” you said. “I… remember crashing here.”
“We saw that,” the first speaker said. “Well, we saw you fall into the ocean and dragged you to shore. I think your suit absorbed most of the impact?”
“They’re designed for kinetic redistribution.” The first speaker nodded, though their expression was entirely devoid of understanding. “Um. That means they’re designed to spread impact shock away from my body. I’m probably bruised, but I shouldn’t have broken anything.”
“I’ve never seen a human before,” the first speaker said. They lifted one of your hands, toying with your fingers curiously. They seemed fascinated by your lack of fins. “Not in person, anyway.”
“Yes. You’re quite a… reclusive species.” Naerie’s lip curled. A sliver of ice-cold worry dropped into the pit of your stomach. “What are you doing here, anyway?”
“It-” An abrupt rush of memories cut your voice off. You remembered running, barely able to feel your limbs through the numbness of fear. You remembered navigating a tiny fighter ship with numb fingers. You remembered flying and flying, not toward anything, but just away, away, away. And then watching the slow failure of your ship’s systems, feeling the ice cold of space leech into your cabin, the thinness of the air. The certainty that you were going to die, cold and alone in space and that somehow, that was entirely better than being where you had been.
“Oh, hey. Shh, shh.” Scaled arms wrapped around you, tugging you against a warm chest. The first speaker was hugging you, nuzzling their face against your head. “It’s okay! You’re safe now.”
“I’m alone,” you said, voice choked. Tears spilled down your cheeks. “I swear. I’m alone. No one’s with me. I didn’t mean to come here. I’ll leave.”
“You don’t have to leave! It’s okay!” The first speaker tugged you into their chest and glared at the other. “Naerie! Be nice! It’s okay, shh, shh.” They rocked back and forth, pressing your head to their chest. “You’re okay. You’re safe now.”
“If you’re alone, then I suppose it’s fine,” Naerie said. They seemed unsettled by your sudden tears. “All right. Terraso, let them lie back. We should get a good look at them, make sure they’re not hurt.”
You ended up wearing only the thin undersuit of your flight suit while Naerie probed at you delicately. In the end, it was determined that you were likely badly bruised, but not seriously injured. As Naerie prodded at your body, Terraso prodded at your mind by conversing cheerily. Names and pronouns were formally exchanged, and you learned that your rescuers were a couple, and lived on their own on the outskirts of a large city.
“I don’t suppose you have anywhere to go,” Naerie said, glancing you over. “You lost everything with your ship, didn’t you?”
You nodded. Technically, the only thing you had lost was a second set of clothes, but they didn’t need to know that. “I know how to live on my own.” Not really true, but you were pretty sure you could figure something out. “I can-”
“Absolutely not!” Terraso reared up on his long, serpentine lower half. “If you don’t have anywhere to stay, you should stay with us.” He turned, looking pleadingly at Naerie. “We can’t just kick her out.”
Naerie, despite her cool nature, didn’t seem keen on kicking you out either. Her brow puckered as she looked you up and down. “No, I suppose not,” she said. “You look as though you’re one missed meal away from starvation.”
You laughed. “It’s fine. I’ve missed plenty of meals before.”
Terraso and Naerie stared at you. Apparently that statement wasn’t as reassuring as you’d expected it to be. “You’re staying,” Naerie said. “Tomorrow, we can go into the city and see if we can get you set up with a life preserver pass. It’ll at least let you stay for a couple of months.”
“Life preserver pass?” you repeated.
“It’s like an emergency citizenship card. For people who end up planetside on accident, and are having trouble getting back home. If you get a citizen to stick up for you, you can get a life preserver pass until you figure out how to go home again,” Terraso said.
“That’s the simplified version. There’s a little more to it than that. Terms and conditions and all that. But you don’t need to know that to fill out the paperwork,” Naerie said.
Terraso rolled his eyes and leaned close to speak in a stage whisper. “Don’t mind her. She works for interplanetary governmental communications. Lots of paperwork.”
You nodded. “What do you do?”
“Oh. Mind the house, mostly.” Terraso rolled onto his back, swishing his tail idly.
You stared. “Mind the house?”
“You know. Cook, clean, make sure everything’s all nice for Naerie when she comes home,” Terraso said.
You mulled that over. “You don’t have a job?”
Terraso shrugged. “I mean, I keep everything in the household running. That’s kind of a job. When we have kids someday, I’ll take care of them.” He gave Naerie an eager look. She smiled back at him. “Didn’t they have house spouses where you came from?”
“Everyone worked,” you said. “Both my parents. All my siblings. If you had time to relax, you had too much time on your hands.”
Naerie and Terraso exchanged a look. “Where did you say you were from again?” Naerie asked. Her voice was soft, like she was talking to something easily spooked. You bristled at the implication.
“I’m from the Unity Formation,” you said. Naerie looked at Tarraso. He shrugged.
“Okay. Well. You’ve been through a lot. Why don’t you let Terraso take care of you for a while? I’ll start getting things set up for going into the city and getting you a life preserver pass.” They exchanged a couple more significant looks as Naerie slipped into the water at the other side of the house. It seemed strange, but you were too exhausted to care. You slumped back against the wall.
“You want anything to eat?” Terraso asked. There was a forced, cheery note in his voice. “You really are skinny. It’d probably be good for you to eat.”
It was clear he was trying to distract you, but you were hungry enough to allow it. “Sure.” Terraso grinned and started rummaging through cabinets, chattering cheerily all the while. His voice rose and fell like a wave. After a little bit, you didn’t even hear the individual words anymore. Just the soothing sound of his voice.
The next morning, Nearie provided you with some clothes. They were toga-like, made more for her legless species than yours, but you accepted them regardless. They covered everything important, anyway. Terraso fussed over you until you had eaten nearly two large helpings of breakfast. Feeling uncomfortably full, you left with your companions for the city.
The city was built much in the same way as their house- partially submerged, with other members of the alien species slipping in and out of water with ease. However, you noticed a few other land-walkers, like you, walking easily through the part of the city that was on land.
Naerie noticed you looking. “This city’s one of the more progressive ones. It’s the only interstellar spaceport, so we get a lot of other species here. Not many humans, though.”
You shook your head. “That’s okay.” A hulking, bladed creature strode by. You tried not to stare. There were more species here than you’d ever seen in your entire life. Gawking at them would probably not make a good first impression. Naerie saved you by slithering up to the front door of a tall, stately building and gesturing you inside.
It was several hours of bureaucratic wrangling before you could leave the building again, this time with a subdermal implant marking your status as a temporary citizen. You toyed at the small bump on your skin. It was designed for easy removal, but you couldn’t stop prodding at it, barely holding in the urge to rip it back out. The feeling of something like that under your skin again was unsettling.
The next stop was the shopping district. There were a few small, out-of-the-way shops that catered to bipeds, and you left laden with new clothes. The variety was amazing- you had never seen so many different kinds of fabric in your life, or so many rich, vibrant colors. It was almost overwhelming.
“Is this all right?” you asked as the three of you left the shop. “It must have been expensive. I can try to pay you back-”
“Don’t worry about it,” Naerie said, waving her hand in your direction. “Temporary citizens get a small stipend to fund their lives here until they can get stabilized or off planet.”
“Oh.” You looked down at the clothes. “And you’re okay with me staying with you? I don’t want to be a bother. I-”
“I think it’s exciting!” Terraso cut in. “I’ve never really interacted with a human before.”
Naerie smiled warmly at him. “Terraso’s always been fascinated with aliens. And, regardless, we’re not the sort of people who throw those in need out on the street.” She gave a disdainful sniff, displaying her opinion of those sort of people.
The city glittered with glass spires as you headed out of the shopping district and into an area that smelled mouthwatering. “Want to get some lunch?” Terraso asked. His body bumped lightly against yours as he spoke. He had a habit of doing that, freely letting a hand rest on your side to pressing his shoulder against yours. You nearly jumped every time he touched you. The casual nature of it was surprising.
“I’m not hungry,” you said. “I had a lot for breakfast.” Not to mention that lunch was more of a holiday treat than something you ate every day.
“That was quite a few hours ago,” Naerie said. “You don’t eat much, do you?”
“I’m used to having only two meals a day,” you said, an edge of defensiveness creeping into your voice. Terraso and Naerie exchanged looks again.
In the end, Terraso convinced you to try some sort of fried plant that was apparently the city’s specialty. It was far richer and oilier than anything you’d ever eaten before, and you had to nibble it slowly. Terraso chattered amiably about the city- apparently he was something of an architect nerd and could list off a few interesting facts about most buildings, even the ones that didn’t look particularly impressive.
By the time you had returned home, you were exhausted, and your stomach was in revolt over the fried food. You spent most of the night hunched over their toilet while Naerie and Terraso alternately checked on you.
“I’m really sorry! I didn’t think it would make you sick,” Terraso said, tucking a blanket over your shoulders. You retched once more, bringing up thin bile. “I’ve seen humans eat that stuff before, so I just thought…”
“Maybe I’m allergic to it,” you suggested. Terraso made a chirruping noise of surprise.
“You weren’t gene treated for allergies as a kid?” he asked.
“Was I what?”
“Gene treated? You know, they do the histamine test and then they correct mast cells and…” He stared at your confused expression. “It’s standard medical procedure. Nobody gets sick or dies from allergies anymore.”
You shook your head. “We didn’t have it, I guess. I might not be allergic, anyway. I’ve never had anything like that before. Mostly, we had nutri-slurry.”
Terraso fussed with the edges of the blanket, twisting it between his hands as he tucked it around you again. “Did you grow up on a station in deep space?”
“Er.” You paused. “I grew up on a station.”
“You’re supposed to have one year planetside for every four years on the station. And more to eat than nutri-slurries.” Terraso’s tone was less scolding and more concerned. He gave you a look with his big, soft eyes. “Are you feeling any better? Less sick?”
“I’m okay,” you said. “You don’t have to stay. I’ll be fine.”
“Mm. I don’t believe you,” Terraso said. “You seem like one of those people who won’t admit to being sick even when you’re a fin’s thickness from death.”
“Being sick isn’t an excuse for missed work,” you mumbled. The memorized phrase jumped to your lips before you had time to even think about it. Terraso’s expression flickered for a moment before smoothing back to kindness.
“You don’t have any work to do right now, so why don’t you just rest?” Terraso curled his tail beneath him and smoothed the blanket between your shoulders. “Get some sleep. I’ll stay here.”
You were too weary to protest. Instead, you snuggled further under the blanket and closed your eyes. Even the twisting of your stomach wasn’t enough to keep you from the warm embrace of sleep.
Gradually, you settled into a sort of routine with your rescuers. You woke in the morning, ate breakfast, and Naerie would go to work. Then Terraso and you would take care of any household chores that needed doing. Given that there were two of you, it took much less time than usual, and Terraso would usually spend the rest of the day teaching you about the local culture. It was overwhelming at times, the level of variety that was present. So different from your home, it made your head spin.
As you got bolder with your questions, you noticed Naerie and Terraso exchanging looks more often. You just started calling it the Look in your head- you would say something about your home and they would give each other the Look. The Look usually meant the next few minutes would be full of awkward tension, while Naerie and Terraso circumnavigated the topic.
The first few times the Look occurred, it was strange. After that it quickly made its way to annoying, then straight up frustrating.
When they exchanged the Look after you spoke about the oddness of the local week-long festival, you put your foot down.
“If you think I haven’t noticed the two of you sneaking glances at each other every time I mention something from my home, you’re wrong,” you said. Terraso froze like a kid sneaking extra slurry. Naerie, on the other hand, seemed entirely unaffected. She put her utensils down and steepled her fingers, as best she could with webbed digits.
“We weren’t intending to keep anything from you,” she said. “But… ugh, I’m not going to dance around the reef anymore. Where exactly did you come from? You crashed here looking half starved, you usually refuse to discuss your old life, except cryptic, concerning details, and everything seems to suggest you crashed here on accident while running away from something. So. What were you running from?”
“I’m not a criminal,” you said. It came out far more defensive than you intended. Terraso sucked in a breath through his teeth and tried to play intermediary.
“We don’t think you’re a criminal! We don’t! That wasn’t what we were suggesting. We’re concerned, though,” he said, his voice softening. “We want to know that you’re safe. You don’t talk about your life before you came here. We’re just worried about you.”
“I’m fine.” Your voice was sharp, automatic. Defensiveness bristled all over you, like quills. “There is no reason to be concerned. I am still able to complete my duties.” Terraso blinked and he and Naerie exchanged the Look. “And stop doing that!”
“We didn’t mean to upset you. We’re only trying to look out for you.”
“I have been doing fine,” you said. “Please. Leave it.” Your voice shivered at the end. You swallowed. A shiver of fear rippled down your spine and dug into the pit of your stomach.
Terraso lifted his hands and spread his fins. “Hey,” he said, his voice lowering. “Hey, hey. It’s okay. You’re all right.” He moved slowly toward you until he was within touching distance. Despite being close enough to hold you, he just extended his hands, like he was waiting for you to make the first move. “Breathe. Just breathe. You’re safe. I swear you’re safe here. Just wait for a moment until you come back to us. Okay?”
The soothing rise and fall of his tone relaxed something in the back of your brain. Your chest loosened and the trembling fear in your gut eased. Tentatively, you reached out and touched his hand. His fingers closed around yours, loose enough that you could pull away if you wanted to.
“You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to,” Naerie said. She was speaking in the same soothing register as Terraso, though she was somewhat less practiced at it. “I’m just worried. I want to know that you’re okay.”
Her voice was unbearably tender on the last word. Terraso’s thumb traced along the back of your knuckles. The combination of two, tiny, kind actions made something in you, something that had barely been holding steady all this time, crack.
Sobs shuddered through your chest. Terraso made a quiet cooing noise and you slumped blindly, fumblingly, into him. Naerie slipped around him to rest a gentle hand on your back. For several moments, they held you up as you cried.
Somehow, you weren’t entirely sure how, you ended up on the floor, cradled between Naerie and Terraso. One of Terraso’s cheeks rested on your head. Naerie was rubbing your back up and down in slow, loose circles. “Feeling better?” Terraso asked quietly.
“I think so,” you said. Despite the tension releasing in your chest, you couldn’t get your fingers to relax on Terraso’s arm. He didn’t mention it. “I- I know you’re worried.”
“You don’t have to talk about it,” Naerie said. “I shouldn’t have pushed it.”
“No. I know I should talk about it. It’s… not happy, though.” You took in a deep breath. Terraso nuzzled you comfortingly. “It’s… I spent most of my life on the Unification Centralized space station. My parents joined when I was two. It was supposed to be this… utopia, I guess. A self-sustaining space station. But it wasn’t that. Once you were on the station, you couldn’t leave, and you had to work for the greater good. They said that all the time. You needed to work for the greater good. If you weren’t working, if you got sick, it meant you weren’t strong enough, that there was something wrong with you. And that was life. You worked and you tried to keep on the good side of the leadership, and if you didn’t you were in trouble.”
Naerie was looking at you with a combination of worry and horror. You glanced toward her face, but you couldn’t maintain eye contact. “I… left. My little sister- she was born after my parents joined. She got sick. Really sick. They said that she was being… I don’t know, punished for something.” Tears stung at your eyes, but your emotions had become manageable enough to repress them. “She died. Because we weren’t allowed to get help for her. And I didn’t know where to go after that but I knew I couldn’t stay there.”
“So, you left,” Terraso said. “That must have been terrifying.”
“It wasn’t, really,” you said. “I mean, it was. But it all seemed really far away. I didn’t want to die, but I guess I figured that staying there was a death sentence anyway, so it didn’t matter. I just… I had to leave. I had to.”
There was silence for a few minutes. Terraso rested his head on your shoulder. Naerie’s arm lay across your shoulders. Their touch felt stabilizing, grounding, like it was what was pulling you to the planet, not the gravity.
“I’m sorry,” Naerie said. “I’m sorry that happened to you. And I’m sorry about your sister.”
“Thank you.” Your voice grated in your throat. You cleared it a few times.
“How did you come here?” Terraso asked. “Did you just pick a planet to go to at random?”
You snorted. “I didn’t even get that far. I just tried to go in a different direction from the space station as fast as I could. I used one of the little space hoppers, the ones that are only supposed to be used for short travels. They don’t have onboard navigation systems.”
“That was reckless,” Naerie said. “You could have died. You almost did die.”
You shrugged. “I know. Like I said, I wasn’t really all that focused on surviving. I just wanted to get away.”
Terraso hugged you. His tail swung up, loosely wrapping around your waist. Naerie petted your head absently, though her gaze was distant.
“Please focus on surviving now,” Terraso said. His voice came out soft enough that it was almost a murmur. “It’s… scary to hear you talk like that. Like you don’t care if you live or die.”
You brushed your hand along his head, prompting his fins to stand to attention. “It’s okay. I’m feeling better now. It’s easier, with you two here. Like I have something to live for.”
Naerie smiled at you. Her eyes softened, glittering with emotion in a way you’d only seen when she looked at Terraso. Something in your chest tightened and loosened in the same moment.
“I have a suggestion,” Naerie said. “You have never experienced anything like the festival before, have you?” You shook your head. Naerie smiled. “Well. Why don’t we go out? It will be a good experience for you to have fun.”
Terraso perked up, lifting his head off your shoulders. “Yes! We haven’t been to one of the festivals in so long and it’s so much better with someone who hasn’t been before! You’ll love it.” He straightened up, tail coiling and uncurling with enthusiasm. “Only if you want to go, of course,” he added, looking at you with uncertainty.
“I’ve never been to one before,” you said, “so I won’t know what it is you’re supposed to do…”
Terraso grabbed your hands, squeezing them in his. “You’re not supposed to do anything except have fun! It’ll be good, I promise! And if you’re not having a good time, we can just go home.”
“It’s true. There’s no reason we can’t come back if you aren’t enjoying yourself,” Naerie said. “I think you’d enjoy it. And I think I’d enjoy seeing you have fun.”
“Okay, okay. If you both are so excited, then we’ll go. I just need a minute to get ready-”
“Meet us outside in ten,” Naerie said. She slipped underwater with Terraso, presumably so they could both get ready themselves.
Ten minutes later, Naerie met you outside. She flicked her fins casually in the faint sunlight that filtered through the clouds. “Terraso will be along in a moment. He likes to dress up.”
“Dress up?” The concept of getting into fancy dress to go places was still a bit of a foreign concept to you. Everyone had worn the same uniform in your old home.
“He likes the festivals,” Naerie said. “You’ll see.”
Almost as soon as she’d finished speaking, Terraso emerged from the sea, squirming in excitement. His fins seemed a brighter shade of red than usual, though you weren’t sure if he was slightly flushed or if it was an effect of the bright gold piercings he’d applied. A few of them even had red, fluttering cloths attached to them, giving the impression that he had more fins than he did.
“Are we ready to go?” he asked. Naerie smiled, linking one of her arms through his. The way her eyes roved over his body almost made you blush.
“We were waiting on you.” She reached out and, to your surprise, linked her other arm through yours. You tried not to look too surprised. As strange as it was, you didn’t want to do anything that might make her let go.
The city was enveloped in brilliant lights when you arrived. Aliens and natives alike were out in the streets, laughing and talking and shouting amongst themselves. The air smelled of a hundred different things, all delicious. Stalls were set up all over the streets, most of them with various pieces of art or food or souvenirs for sale. A few of them seemed to be offering some sort of lessons in art or dance or other such things. It was almost immediately overwhelming. Not negatively overwhelming, but it took you a moment to process everything.
“You should decide what we do first,” Terraso said. He looked at you with bright, eager eyes. “See anything you like?”
“Er,” you said. There were a lot of things that looked interesting, but you couldn’t sort out what a lot of them were, much less what you would enjoy.
“Terraso,” Naerie said. “Why don’t you pick first? We’ve been here before, after all, so we should be guides.”
In the end, Terraso dragged you over to some sort of simple game that consisted of tossing small balls into several different containers. You tried a couple of times, but the game was a lot more difficult than it looked. After quite a few tries, Terraso managed to score enough points to receive a stuffed toy resembling one of the many eel-like creatures that lived in their oceans.
“Here!” He thrust it into your arms, smiling triumphantly. You blinked down at it, a little confused.
“I don’t need this?” you said. “You don’t even have stuffed animals in your house. Why were you so intent on winning it? I don’t even think it’s particularly well made.”
“That’s not the point!” Terraso said, still grinning broadly. “The point is winning! Especially winning something for someone else!”
“He loves those games,” Naerie said, leaning over to speak quietly in your ear. “He’ll spend all our money on those things if we let him.”
You looked down at the stuffed toy in your arms. It looked pretty wonky, honestly. “Why? You could probably buy one of these for pretty cheap. Why spend so much money to win it? There’s no point.”
Naerie smiled slightly, eyes glittering. “Of course there’s a point. It’s to have fun.”
Naerie ended up drawing you over to some art booths. There were some live demonstrations, even things like glass blowing. You were fascinated by the careful motions, the way the demonstrator was able to twist blazingly hot glass into delicate shapes. Apparently taking into account how fascinated you were, Naerie practically shoved you into the arena the instant the demonstrator asked for a volunteer.
The demonstrator was kind and gentle as he helped you through the moves. In the end, you had a small replica of an undersea plant. Apparently you had a knack for shaping glass and the demonstrator insisted that you have another lesson when you came to pick up the piece from him.
“Perhaps there’s an apprenticeship there for you,” Naerie said as you rejoined her and Terraso.
“An apprenticeship?” you repeated. It hadn’t been something you were considering.
“Just a suggestion,” Naerie said. “You seemed to enjoy it and he seemed like a good teacher. I was only thinking- you’ve been here for a while. Perhaps it’s time to start… setting down roots?”
Her voice was delicate, gentle, but you could feel the intensity behind both her and Terraso’s gazes. It was true- you’d been living with them for a while, but you hadn’t really made any preparations to fend for yourself. You’d just been sort of floating.
“It’s something to think about,” Naerie said, putting a soft hand on your arm. “You don’t need to think about it right now.”
Your stomach picked that moment to interrupt. Terraso burst into high-pitched giggles. You glared. “Maybe we should get something to eat,” he said. “Something that’s not too hard on your stomach.” You pulled a face. They’d never forgotten your incident after the fried food and, in all fairness, you couldn’t either. Your stomach had adjusted to some of the heavier fare, but you were still prodded to nausea by anything with too much grease.
Naerie ended up picking some kind of grilled plant matter skewered on a thin wooden stick. Terraso practically crawled over her back as she took the sticks from the vendor. “Here, here, take it,” she said, passing him the stick. He bit into it delightedly, tail wriggling. She offered you one as well and you bit into it tentatively.
The fruit was sweet and salty in equal measure, with just a bit of bitterness from the char. You practically ripped into it, eating it with a ravenous fervor. Within a minute, it was gone.
Naerie laughed. “We’ll have to get you some more of those,” she said. She held out her own stick. “Here. You can have a bit of mine, too.”
You paused. Naerie had already taken a few bites out of it, and she was holding it out to you like she was just expecting you to take a bite while she was holding it. Somehow, that idea came across as almost unbearably intimate. A flush started to creep up your face. Still, Naerie was looking at you with expectance. Maybe you were overreacting? And even if you weren’t… you wanted to. Slowly, you leaned forward and took a delicate bite of the sweet fruit.
Naerie smiled. “Good?” Her voice had taken on a melodic tone, one that made your blushing even worse. You nodded slowly.
“Good,” you said. Terraso smiled and winked at you over Naerie’s shoulder. You looked down at the ground, flustered. “Er. We should, er. Keep going, right?”
The rest of the night was spent wandering the festival, attending the booths and activities. There was more to experience than you’d ever seen before- rides and shows and games all in a riot of colors. At some point, Naerie had pressed alcohol into your hands and you’d started drinking. Terraso was in a similar drunken state, giggling and flopping around, his slithering unsteady.
When the three of you made it back home, all of you were tipsy, bordering on drunk. Naerie was the most sober, but that wasn’t necessarily saying much. She managed to get both you and Terraso in the door before she slumped against a wall, giggling faintly.
Terraso was wrapped around you like a scaly rope, tightening his grip every time you tried to wriggle free. His head was pressed into the side of your neck, fins tickling lightly against your skin.
“Tired,” he mumbled. “Go to bed.”
“You can go to bed, if you want, but you gotta let go!” you said.
“No!” Terraso nuzzled further into your neck. “I want to sleep with yooouuu.”
“I can’t sleep underwater. I’ll drown,” you reminded him.
“Then I’ll sleep up here,” he declared. He lifted his head from your neck and, with some effort, focused his attention on Naerie. “Come on! Come sleep with us!” He made grabby hands at her, then started giggling. “Ooh. Sleep together. Ha ha. We shooouuuld.”
The double entendre made your cheeks grow warm. “Oh, I don’t know about that,” you said, trying to gently pry him off of you. That only made him cling tighter.
“But Naerie said she wouldn’t miiind,” Terraso said. He tilted his head, hanging off of you so he was looking at Naerie upside down. “Right? You said you wouldn’t miiiiiiind, Naerie.” He looped his arms tighter around your neck. “You’re so nice and pretty.” He hiccupped. “And- and- I love yooouuu.” His face was almost completely buried in your neck, muffling his voice. “I love you and Naerie and I wanna be with both of you! Naerie agrees!”
You looked up at Naerie. She was staring at you with wide eyes. It was hard to tell with her species, but you were pretty sure she was blushing. “He’s very drunk,” she said apologetically. “He tends to be, er. Very open when he has too much.” She held her hands out. “Here, I can take him and make sure he gets to bed okay.”
“Noooo!” Terraso wailed. He wrapped around you as tightly as he could. “Not goin’ anywhere!”
Perhaps you also had gotten a little tipsy, because you were feeling unusually bold. “I don’t mind,” you said. “If he wants to stay with me, that’s fine. He can sleep in my bed tonight.”
“Yay!” Terraso mumbled from his position against your shoulder. Naerie seemed conflicted, but she helped you and Terraso into bed. Despite how awkward it made things, Terraso was very insistent on not letting go of you at all.
“What he was talking about before,” you said as Naerie helped you into bed. “That stuff he said, about…”
“About the sleeping with you?” Naerie asked. She sounded unusually unsteady. “Yes. It was. I’m sure he wouldn’t have said anything if the drink hadn’t rendered him completely senseless.” Despite her words, her tone was affectionate. “We didn’t want to make you uncomfortable.”
“It doesn’t,” you said hurriedly. Terraso moaned and somehow managed to snuggle closer to you. “I like you. Both of you. You’re the first people who’ve ever been really nice to me. And you’re both so sweet and Terraso’s funny and you’re so caring- I don’t think I could ever find anyone better.”
“I was hesitant to approach you about it,” Naerie said in a slow, uncertain voice. “I didn’t want to make you feel pressured to be in a relationship with us because we’re the ones helping you. But we… have discussed it. Polyamorous relationships are fairly common among our species. We’ve been interested.”
“I’ve never had any kind of relationship before,” you said. “Not a romantic one, anyway. So I’ll be a little new to this. If you’re still okay with going through with this?”
Naerie smiled and leaned closer to you. One of her hands lingers on your face. “I think I would be interested in teaching you. And I’m certain you couldn’t drag Terraso away with wild therians.”
“It’s true,” Terraso mumbled into your shoulder.
Something in your stomach fluttered. “If- if you’re sure, then.”
Naerie smiled. “I could not be more sure,” she said. She leaned in, then paused, your faces less than an inch apart. You realized she was waiting for you to make the next move. It took you a moment to steel your confidence, then you leaned in and pressed your lips to hers.
The kiss was clumsy and uncertain, but it managed to be good nonetheless. When you broke apart again, you were giggling giddily.
“Perhaps you need practice,” Naerie said, a faint smile playing with her mouth.
“I’ll help,” Terraso declared. He pressed a sloppy kiss to the corner of your mouth. Naerie laughed, easing him off of you and into bed. His tail wrapped around your leg insistently, though, and there was no way you would be able to pry it off.
“I suppose we’re staying up here tonight,” Naerie said. Terraso nuzzled into your side with a happy sigh. Naerie smiled. “He’s happy, at least.”
“I’m happy too,” you said. Naerie looked up at you, eyes soft with affection.
“Yes. I am too.”
a life with you | hwang hyunjin
genre: assassin au, epilogue(?), inspired by @chaninfused “row, row, row your boat” universe
description: when you have doubts about your future with hyunjin, the assassin is more than happy to reassure you that all he wanted was to be with you.
word count: 2.8k+
a/n: i am officially a month late and terribly sorry, furat dear. TT happy (very belated) birthday to you! thank you so much for screaming with me about hyunjin, rrryb, and everything else in between. most of all, thank you for being such a dear friend. <3 i really hope you enjoy!
For the first time since Hyunjin became your friend, your confidante, and then your darling, doubts about your relationship began to fester into gnarly thorns, sitting in the deep recesses of your heart.
It didn't have anything to do with your love for Hyunjin. On the contrary, your love for the man was stronger than ever, built upon a bond of trust and deep care for one another. Hyunjin had stood by your side through the highs and the lows, just as you had watched him discover what it means to love someone, watched him discover that he himself was capable of being loved.
No, your doubt stemmed from an instinctual fear that the two of you were simply not compatible because you would never be able to assimilate into the lifestyle he grew up in.
You thought you could do it, at first. After all, what's so hard about being well off? What's so hard about being able to splurge a little extra money on your clothes, your food, your overall lifestyle?
You quickly learned that noble life wasn't quite as simple as that.
For one thing, it was overwhelming to the highest degree. Ever since you agreed to attend the banquet with Hyunjin as his significant other, you'd been thrust into an endless cycle of dress fittings, shoe fittings, and practically any other type of fitting that exists. The party itself was also an overstimulation of all your senses; there was so much to see, so much to comprehend and hear and say that it all just got a bit too much for poor you.
So that was why you were here alone, standing on an empty balcony to find some fresh air, some quiet, and some peace. The wind felt nice against your skin in comparison to the stuffy rooms and banquet halls, and you couldn't help but wonder guiltily if you could head home by yourself. You didn't want to bother Hyunjin, of course, who was born noble and was probably enjoying himself.
“Oh, thank goodness, I've finally found you!”
As if the stars had heard you, Hyunjin stepped out into the balcony, his expression wrought with relief as he made his way towards you, taking your hands in his.
As you gazed upon him, those long lashes, those soft lips, and above all, those gentle eyes that held nothing but love, affection, and concern as he studied your face, you found yourself once again falling deeper in love with him, as if that was even possible.
“Why did you abandon me in there?” The assassin almost whined, and you fought back a smile as you rubbed your thumbs against the back of his hands.
“I just needed some air, and you seemed preoccupied,” you explained, ducking your head slightly as Hyunjin shrugged off his long coat and wrapped it around your shoulders.
“But you didn't need to escape so quickly without telling me,” he argued like a petulant child when his eyes suddenly flashed with a sharpness that you hadn't seen in a while, “Unless...did something happen?”
Damn Hwang Hyunjin and his ridiculously fine-tuned awareness.
You shook your head, running your hand up and down his arm, “Nothing happened,” you smiled soothingly.
“But you look unhappy,” he insisted, cupping your cheek with his gentle hands, worry filling his dark brown irises, “My darling, please tell me what is wrong.”
Inside, Hyunjin was panicking. He knew you better than he knew himself, and he knew the look of uncertainty on your face when he saw it. Were you beginning to have second thoughts about him? Was being with him becoming more of a burden than a blessing to you? Was the constant little weight in his coat pocket something that he’ll have to throw away soon?
Logically, Hyunjin was almost sure that any of those possibilities weren't true. You loved him, and you loved him dearly. The two of you have been through thick and thin together, and he knew your love for him was as deep as the darkest oceans and as pure as the sunrise sky. But yet, the coil of doubt could not totally recede from his mind. After all, you were always so much more than he could ever dare ask for.
“Hyunjin,” you spoke softly, your smile so knowing that the assassin felt more at ease just at the sound of your voice, “Relax.”
“So something is wrong, my love?”
You sighed, cursing at Hyunjin’s endearingly insistent nature. Hyunjin was a fixer at heart. Whatever was bothering him, whatever was bothering the people he loved, he was proactive about finding a solution. He’d go to the ends of the earth to find one if need be, which was what he did for your precious daughter all that time ago.
But this, this wasn’t a problem that you were sure he could fix.
“I don’t know if this is going to work, Hyunjin.”
Hyunjin had never experienced such physical heartache until this very moment. His eyes widened with alarm, a terror that he could hardly keep clamped down, but ever the gentleman, he waited for you to finish before interjecting.
“I know you were so eager to introduce me into this world, to give me luxury that I didn’t experience before, but truthfully, I don’t enjoy this lifestyle,” you confessed, gesturing to the ballroom where the party was still ongoing, where the lords and ladies chatted and drank the night away, “It’s stifling for me, Hyunjin. But this is your life, and I don’t want to take that away from you--”
You found your answer in the searing kiss that closed the gap between his lips and yours. Hyunjin’s kisses were passionate, palettes of red and orange that swept you off your feet time and time again, but they weren’t all consuming. His fire was warm, homely, loving, and you quickly found yourself wondering why you had any doubts in the first place.
“Is that what was worrying you?” He murmured, pulling away with bright eyes as he brushed the hair away from your face, “That I wouldn't want to leave this life for you?”
“Oh, I didn't doubt that you'd leave if that was what I truly wanted,” you assured him, your hands resting against his chest as he listened intently to every word you said, “And that worried me. I don't want to make you choose between me and your life here.”
Hyunjin shook his head, brushing your cheek with his gentle, yet calloused fingers, “You've got it all wrong, my darling,” he whispered, pressing his forehead against yours for a short moment before pulling away, “Come with me?”
Confused, excited and only slightly worried, you followed him wordlessly, placing your safety in his hands without question, as you've always done. Hyunjin led you back inside the estate, but not back towards the party that you were so obviously trying to avoid. Instead, he took you somewhere the music seemed to blend into the peaceful silence and where the mindless chatter faded into nothingness.
"Am I even allowed to be here?" You were pretty sure you had no need to whisper, but you still found yourself doing it.
“I'm allowed, so you're allowed by association,” Hyunjin said with a smile, brushing a strand of your hair away from your face as he laced your fingers together, tugging you down the hallway until he stopped at a particular room.
“Miss?” He bowed dramatically, making you giggle as he opened the door, pulling you in.
You looked around the space, a quaint little thing with a small office desk and a simple bed, but everything was clearly expensive and high quality. Even though most of the design and decor was quite minimal, there were little touches like the choice of wooden, the scent of the candle, the distinct stuffed animal that you remembered was once Nari’s. It all just screamed Hyunjin.
“Is this your room?” You asked with a soft laugh, brushing your fingers against the wooden surface of his drawer before picking up the small stuffed bear.
“Yes. I didn't need much space, and I'm not here often, so I just took one of the smaller guest rooms,” Hyunjin chuckled before turning and seeing you with the familiar stuffed animal in your hands. His expression morphed into one of nostalgic happiness at the memory of someone that meant the world to him and pain at the reminder of his own failure, “Oh, that was one of Nari's stuffies.”
“I remember,” you found yourself smiling sadly, lost in the memories as you squeezed the stuffed animal gently.
Hyunjin walked over, eyes distant as he gently placed his hand on it's head, “Wherever I used to watch over Nari while you ran errands, she always wanted me to play with this stuffed animal in particular,” he chuckled softly, “I always want to have a part of her in my life, so I held onto it. I hope that's alright with you.”
Your eyes watered as you gazed up at the man who you loved unconditionally. Such a gentle soul, a person who'd treasure all that were close to him, a man who had such a natural instinct to nurture and care for others.
“Of course, it's alright,” you smiled, placing the stuffed animal down, “I-it's more than alright. She always loved it when you came around to see her.”
Hyunjin chuckled, wiping the corner of your eye with a delicate swipe of his finger before gently guiding you to his desk, “Close your eyes, my darling.”
“Why?” You raised a suspicious eyebrow as your hip leaned against the desk and Hyunjin stood before you.
“Because!” His lips curled into a pout, “I have a surprise for you.”
“You better not have bought me another shawl, darling. I don't mind that the last one got a small tear in it,” you berated him preemptively, worried that Hyunjin had fallen back into his habit of overly indulging you for the sake of making you happy.
Hyunjin’s eyes sparkled, and you wondered briefly if he was the only person who seemed to enjoy being nagged at, “Just close your eyes, darling. Please?”
Oh, he wasn’t playing fair anymore, not as he flashed those irresistible puppy eyes, and you could do little more than let your eyes flutter shut. You felt his hands take yours, guiding you to open your hands with your palm facing upward. Giddy with anxiety, your confusion was palpable as you felt a featherlight weight fall into your hands.
When you opened your eyes, you could barely hide your puzzled expression as you inspected the piece of paper that Hyunjin placed in your hands. Unfolding it, you scanned through the contents to get to the chase and then--
The paper fell to the ground as you let out an audible gasp, whipping your head up to glance at your lover. It was his sheepish, excited and slightly anxious expression that truly made it real to you.
“Was that a good gasp or a bad gasp?” He asked, trying to lighten the mood.
“It’s…” you swallowed, still trying to sort through the plethora of emotions that were clouding your mind, “it’s real.”
Hyunjin couldn’t fight his smile, realizing that he’d made you speechless for one of the first times in his life, “It is, darling.”
“B-but, it’s right in that secluded area outside of town, the place that I always--” you spun around to face Hyunjin, utterly dumbfounded, “How did you know?”
The assassin laughed, picking up the deed which you had rather unceremoniously dropped on the floor, “We were taking the carriage back to your bakery once, and I noticed the way you looked at the cottages in that area. Plus, you mentioned once that you’d want to live a simple and secluded life, and this location fit your description quite perfectly. It’s nothing really--”
Your lips pressed against his as you shut him up with a sweet kiss, cupping his cheeks and holding him close, “I love you,” you murmured without an ounce of hesitation as you pulled away from Hyunjin, cheeks flushed and eyes bright.
Hyunjin looked dazed, utterly lovestruck as he gazed into your eyes, pulling you towards him as he sat on the edge of his desk, “Do you like it?” He asked softly, playing with your fingers and making you smile. Oh, Hyunjin, always so eager to please, so eager to do things right for you, to make your life easier. You wondered how you ever deserved such a lover.
“I do,” you smiled softly, looking down at your hands.
“It’s a small cottage, but it has enough space for us and...more...if that situation ever arises,” Hyunjin’s ears seemed to redden, and your heart skipped a beat as you realized what he was so gently insinuating.
“I love it,” you whispered, watching as your fingers laced together.
Hyunjin’s eyes brightened, “You do?”
“I do,” you smiled at his eagerness, “Do you? Do you want this life? I won’t fault you at all if you do not--”
“Oh, my darling,” Hyunjin murmured, gazing into your eyes as you drowned in his loving gaze, his bottomless affections for you that gave you the butterflies even after so long, “When will you realize that I want nothing more than to live a quiet, simple life with you? When will you realize that some of my most treasured moments were with you and Nari in your cramped little bakery? All I've ever wanted was to find a nice, quaint little location that wasn't too far from the town, and for us to grow old there together…”
Your eyes welled with unshed tears as you brought his hand to your lips, kissing it gingerly, “That’s all I want, too,” you confessed, “I want to live quietly and happily with you, put our suffering behind us…”
Hyunjin was silent for a moment before he tugged you towards him, “If that’s what we both want,” he trailed off, red dusting his cheeks as he looked down, “would you like to get married?”
It wasn’t a sudden proposal. Hyunjin and you had vaguely mulled over the idea for months now, especially since it was becoming increasingly clearer that the two of you loved no one but each other. But to hear those direct words falling from his lips, with no lighthearted quips or jabs to deflect the sincerity of it, it utterly floored you.
The assassin took your silence for doubt, and he looked back up at you with shining eyes, “I know you had bad experiences with your past marriage. My line of work isn’t exactly stable either. But, Y/N, I’ll spend my life showing you that a future with me will be worth your while. Would you,” he swallowed nervously, “would you let me do just that, my darling?”
“Oh, darling,” you murmured, reaching forward and cupping his cheek with your hand. He leaned into it almost desperately, “You have nothing to prove, nothing to show. We’re equals in this relationship,” you smiled, standing on your tiptoes and gently pecking him on the nose, “And yes, I’d love to marry you, Hyunjin.”
The childlike sparkle in his eyes made you giggle as you watched him physically process your words. Slight confusion, then disbelief, then awe.
“Really?! Oh, my love, I’m so happy!” Hyunjin lifted you in his arms, spinning you around as you laughed, wrapping your arms around his neck. When he placed you down, he fumbled around in his back pocket, eyes wide, “I-I can’t believe I forgot this! We were having such a soft moment and the question just slipped out of my mouth--”
Giggles burst from your lips as Hyunjin finally managed to pull out a black velvet box, revealing a small, simple, yet priceless diamond ring. It was so undeniably Hyunjin to get so caught up in proposing that he’d forget to present the engagement ring to you, and you found the two of you chuckling about it up until he gingerly slipping the silver band onto your third finger.
“Oh, I do have a request from Jisung, who wants to be present at the wedding,” Hyunjin said when the two of you were finally curled up in his bed, embracing each other’s warmth.
“I’d be happy to invite him,” you chuckled, looking down at your finger and at the glimmering stone that now rested on it, “It’s beautiful, by the way. The ring.”
Hyunjin smiled, leaning down to press a kiss to your hair, “I passed a jewelry shop when I was running some errands for your bakery, and it just reminded me so much of you,” he said, brushing his fingers across is, “Elegant and beautiful.”
“Such a flatterer,” you complained to hide the heat in your cheeks.
“Oh, no no. There will be much more of that now that we’re engaged,” Hyunjin teased, tickling your waist, “I hope you’re prepared.”
And you were prepared, alright. All of the trials, tribulations, and the joys of marriage, you were ready for all of it as long as Hyunjin was by your side.
Your Biggest Fan | Kirishima Eijirou x Reader
Wrote this entire fic and then realised that the ask mentioned tights. Whoops ~ but hey! On the plus side, more subway train sex!
Shout out to: @mothwithteeth @angeliclyaslut @redbeanteax @bbygirlpastel for indulging in my stranger Kirishima fantasies, a lot of this fic is thanks to their depraved ideas. Also tagging @ikinabi because Kirishima?
Warnings: 18+, dubcon-ish~
You raced up the stairs in the train station, after hearing the familiar rumble of your train pulling into the platform. You cursed at the scurry of people coming down the stairs at the mainline station, trying to avoid them as you rushed towards the train.
“Shit,” You groaned as you heard the familiar voice indicating the doors were about to close, managing to slip into the carriage before the doors closed.
Out of breath you made your way towards an empty seat, thankful that the train seemed to be almost deserted. Panting as you tried to regulate your breathing.
“You okay, cutie?” A voice caught you by surprise as you looked up to see a towering figure looming over you.
“Red Riot?” You blinked, tilting your head as you did a double take, “I-I’m a big fan-”
There he was standing in front of you, in the flesh. Your favourite Pro-Hero Red Riot. His signature hero outfit replaced by a pair of grey sweatpants, a baggy stringy black vest showcasing his chiselled pectorals and an open black hoodie. You couldn’t take your eyes off his pointed collar bones, the curve of his chest or the peak of his pointed nipple that was exposed due to his vest. This had to be fate. Any other day you would have missed the train, the doors closing in your face as you were forced to wait for the next one. But not today! No, the gods had to be on your side today. He was even more handsome in real life-
“I saw your fight last week where you saved all those people from that Villain attack, you were so brave.” You gushed, unable to quite believe you were meeting your favourite hero.
“That was nothing,” He smiled, coming closer towards you as he puffed his chest out slightly, “just another day on the job.”
“But you were incredible. The way you used your quirk to block the attack and protect those children. I’m honestly such a huge fan-”
“Aren’t you sweet?” He smiled, his own eyes roaming over your body, feeling your face heat up at his gaze. Suddenly feeling incredibly self-conscious and your fingers moved down to the hem of your skirt, trying to pull it lower over your exposed thighs, “I can’t lie, I was really surprised to see you on this train all alone at this hour. It isn’t safe, you know?”
“Oh, It’s fine, honestly. I take this train home every day.” You smiled up at him, starting to play with your fingers nervously. His body towered over yours from his position, he was even bigger than you had imagined him to be in real life. Your eyes taking in his wide, muscular shoulders as he shifted his feet, a hand coming up to grip the pole beside you as the train began to move again.
“You do? At this time?” Kirishima tried to sound casual as he picked up on the information you provided, “I can’t willingly let you take this journey by yourself. It wouldn’t be very manly of me at all.” Kirishima stepped to the side, slipping down into the empty chair beside you. His large thigh pressing against your own as you felt his warmth engulf you.
“There’s a lot of creeps out at this time, stay close to me and I’ll make sure you get home safe.” He placed a large palm on your exposed knee, the touch sending tingles throughout your thigh as you felt him grip gently, a toothy grin remained on his features as his eyes watched your reaction.
“That’s so nice of you, Red Riot.” You smiled up at him, his scent invading your senses, “But you don’t have to do that. I’m sure you must be so busy-”
“Never too busy to help such a pretty lady,” He squeezed your knee, his hand sliding further up your thigh, “I couldn’t live with myself if I found out something happened to one of my biggest fans- hey, is that one of my hoodies?”
You blushed as you leaned forward so he could see the back, the hoodie was a design based off his hero outfit, red gears on the shoulder blades and a prominent ‘R’ symbol on the front that you showed him by closing the hoodie. Kirishima’s eyes gleamed as he watched you gush over him, you were so sweet, so innocent.
“I’ll have to sign it for you some time, huh?” He smiled, his other arm moving over the back of the chair you were sitting on, circling around your shoulders as he held you closer to his body, “In fact, I could send you a whole bunch of my merch.” He felt himself harden at the cute, excited gasp that left your lips, your eyes lighting up at the thought.
“You don’t have to do that, Red Riot. But I would love it so much-” Hearing you all him ‘Red Riot’ with your breathy voice sent a throb to his cock every time,
You couldn’t believe this was happening. Your hero was literally sitting right beside you, touching you. This had to be a dream, surely? You cringed as you continued to gush about him to his face. He probably thought you were some creepy obsessed fan girl, especially considering you were wearing his merchandise. This was the complete opposite of the image you wanted to give off, but you couldn’t help it. Here he was, in front of you.
“It’s always a pleasure to meet my fans,” The hand on your thigh going higher, slipping under your skirt, the calloused pads of his fingers grazing against your panties. His lips moved down to press hot kisses against your jawline, his warm breath fanning your face as you felt yourself easing into his touch, spreading your legs as he continued to brush his fingers against your clothed slit.
“I- don’t, I-” You whispered as he shushed you, his fingers sliding under the thin material of your panties, lifting your lower half with ease as he slid them down your thighs, groaning as he saw the glistening string of your slick connecting to the material in the process. Sliding the panties down your legs and helping you step out of them, he immediately move to slip them into the pocket of his sweatpants, “For safekeeping,” He smiled at you before returning his focus to your body, his fingers quick to move back to your cunt, dipping down to stroke between your folds.
“Red Riot, We shouldn’t-” You were cut off as Kirishima captured your lips in a bruising kiss, taking advantage of your open mouth as his tongue brushed against your own, lashing against your teeth. Dipping a single meaty finger into your tight hole. You whimpered into his mouth as he began to pump his digit into you, feeling it curl inside you as he brushed the pad against the spongy spot inside you.
Kirishima caught you by surprise as he slid a second finger inside your cunt, groaning at how tight you felt around him. Your insides clenching desperately around him as he moved back from the kiss. His red eyes watching your face as he continued to get you off on his fingers. His thumb moving up to rub messy circles around your clit was all it took for you to feel that familiar feeling inside yourself, your orgasm surging through you as you came around his fingers. Kirishima’s lips moving back to your own in another bruising kiss to muffle your cries.
“I’m so lucky to have such a loyal fan,” He smiled down at you, slipping his fingers from your convulsing sex, bringing them up to his lips to lick them clean, “my biggest fan-”
“I hope your stop isn’t soon?” He asked hopefully, glancing down at your flushed face. Your eyes squinting up towards the illuminated passenger information system to try and read what stop was coming up. You had at least another thirty minutes before your station.
“It’s at least another ten stops,” You turned back to him, now unable to make eye contact. You were in public, what did you think you were doing? You glanced around the train to see a few late night commuters sitting in the carriage, busying themselves with newspapers and cellphones. Had they seen your lewd acts? Did they know what you were doing. The pure idea of anyone seeing you engaged in such sinful acts made your stomach lurch. It would be okay, you could just tell Red Riot that you didn’t want to do anything here, he would understand.
“Well, how about you help me with something, Sweetheart?" Kirishima held the same charming smile, his hand now lingering on your inner thigh, his calloused fingers squeezing the plush skin as his larger body loomed over your own.
"Anything for you, Red Riot!" His cock twitching at your words, so compliant.
“I’ve had such a long day at work, saving lives-” He let out a sigh as he pretended to stretch his back, leaning back in his seat slightly so you could see the prominent bulge desperate to be released from the sweatpants he wore, “I could really do with some relaxation-”
“Oh, I-” You’d fantasised about this moment for months, dreaming of sleeping with your favourite Pro-Hero, touching yourself to the thought of Red Riot between your thighs. But now the moment was here, you were terrified. You were in public. What if someone saw?
“I’m not sure if I c-can, Red Riot-” You blushed, your body sliding back from his before the strong arm around your shoulders stopped you from moving away, “I mean we’re in-”
“Oh? I thought I was your favourite Pro-Hero.” His eyes looked dejected as the toothy grin fell from his face, “I guess you’re more of a Deku fan? Or maybe even Ground Zero, huh?” His arm lifted from around your shoulders, placing both hands into his hoodie pockets as he sat beside you on the empty carriage.
“No, no-” You looked at him with wide eyes, “You’re my favourite, Red Riot. My number one-”
“I spend every day trying to protect people, risking my life so that they can be safe-” You bit your lip as he continued to list off his accomplishments, his near death experience from last week. He really did risk his life for everyone.
“It’s okay, really. I’m used to girls leading me on to get to my friends,” He smiled at you, “I just wish you would have told me that before you let me finger you. I mean, before you weren’t going to reciprocate-”
“It’s not that. Not at all. Please-” You stuttered out, your smaller hand reaching out to lay on his muscular forearm, “let me make it up to you,”
“Really? You’d do that for little old me?” His smile returned to his face, spreading his legs slightly as he leaned back in his chair, “You’re such a good fan.”
His hands slid from his hoodie pockets, moving down to the waistband of his sweats, his thumbs hooking under the material to tug them down. His cock bouncing up from its confines as it arched towards his chest, pre-cum beading against the engorged reddened tip.
“Such good stress relief after saving lives all day,” He moved a hand up behind your head, his fingers trailing through your hair as he put a light pressure on the back of your head.
“H-here?” You stuttered out, eyes darting around the seemingly empty carriage, “We can’t-”
“It’s okay, Princess. I won’t tell anyone.” You felt him continue to press your head down towards his large cock, “You’re such a supportive fan, and you did say anything-”
You did say anything, didn’t you. Your slender fingers moved down to curl around Kirishima’s large girth, a low hiss leaving his lips at the sensation as you lowered your mouth towards his crotch. Your tongue sweeping out to lap at the bead of pre that sat along the tip, taking in a deep breath before taking him into your mouth. Your tongue curling around the head as you felt Kirishima’s hand tighten against your hair, putting pressure on the back of your head as he pushed you further down on his length.
“Shit,” He groaned, throwing his head back, “That’s it. Such a good fucking girl.” His fingers weaved through your hair, holding you down against his length as your nose brushed against his black public hair. Groaning around him as you sent pleasurable vibrations along his cock.
“Shit, not so much teeth, Princess.” He hissed as your teeth accidentally scraped along his length in your attempt to take him inside your mouth, “Careful-”
You tried to maintain your breathing through your nose as you continued to bob your head along his length, determined to make this enjoyable for your favourite hero, Red Riot. The head of his cock hitting the back of your throat with each roll of his hips, making your eyes water at the sensation, trying to hold back your gag reflex to make this as enjoyable as possible.
The train halted at a station and you heard the loud ruckus of a group of men, shouting and yelling which made you pull your head off Kirishima’s cock in panic, your eyes immediately darting towards the source of the sound. Sighing in relief when you noticed that they got onto the carriage beside yours.
“Hey, hey, hey. Calm down, Sweetheart.” Kirishima’s large palm came up to stroke your cheek, holding it in his hands as he moved your focus back to his own, “We don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do, okay?”
“What if people see, I-” You were in a panic, you never did stuff like this. What were you thinking?
“Hey, hey.” Kirishima brought you closer to him, planting a gentle kiss to your temple as he shushed you, “It’s okay if you don’t want to do anything with me, I get it.”
“No, it’s not that!” You whimpered, pulling back as Kirishima held a dejected look on his face, “I just don’t want people to see me. Like-”
“Oh,” Kirishima’s face lit back up again, “Well why don’t you sit on my lap.”
You felt his strong hands lifting you from the train seat, pulling you into his lap as you felt his large cock press against the curve of your ass.
“I’m so happy that we ran into each other, Sweetheart. I can’t believe I met my biggest fan today.” His hands slid down to spread your thighs, arching your body as he pressed the tip of his cock against your tightness, “What a treat.”
You mewled at his words, gasping as you felt the bulging head of his cock press inside your tight cunt, stretching yourself around him. Kirishima muttered a crude ‘shit’ as he pressed you down harder, feeling more of his length engulfed by your inner walls, feeling you clench around him in anticipation.
“You’ve got such a tight little pussy, Princess. You feel so good.” He groaned as you began to wriggle on top of him, desperate to feel some relief to your throbbing sex. His strong hands moving to grasp your hips, using them as leverage as he began to lift your body up and drop you back down on his thick girth.
“Red Riot-” You whined, the curve of his cock angled perfectly to that spongy spot inside you as you continued to rock yourself against him, gyrating your hips against him as you searched for your release.
“See? That fucking pervert could have his hands all over you right now? Do you see him looking at us?” Your eyes snapped open to glance towards the corner of the carriage, seeing the pair of eyes peeking at you from over a newspaper. Immediately glancing back down when he noticed that he’d been caught, “It’s so lucky I ran into you this evening, Sweetheart.”
“You like this? You like my cock in your tight pussy, huh? Who knew my number one fan was such a slut,” Kirishima continued rutting his hips up into you as he dropped you down on his cock, groaning as he bottomed inside you with each thrust, the sound of his balls slapping against your slick filled the carriage as he bit down on your neck to muffle his grunts.
“Are you my slut?”
“Y-yes, Red Riot-” You managed to get out between your heavy breaths.
“Say it.” He grunted, his hands bruisingly tight on your hips, digging into your skin as your shirt had risen up.
“I’m Red Riot’s slut, oh-” Your words causing a feral growl to leave his lips.
“I’m sorry I’m being so rough,” He managed to get out between thrusts, his movements rutting himself up harder into your cunt, “I guess I don’t realise my own strength.” Your head fell onto his shoulder as he continued to suckle your skin, his tongue lashing against the wound his sharp teeth had caused, his groans sending pleasurable vibrations along your skin as your cunt continued to clench around his length. His hand coming around you to search for your puffy clit, rubbing messy circles around it as he felt you squeeze around him.
“Come on, Sweetheart. Cum on my cock.” He groaned as he felt your inner walls contract from his words, “Show me how much of a loyal fan you are-”
You whined as you felt the coil inside you desperately close to releasing. Kirishima’s cock was big and he was stretching your tight heat, the prominent veins that wound around his length rubbing against your g-spot perfectly as you felt your climax begin to flood through you.
“Red Riot!” You cried unashamedly, knowing that the man in the corner would be watching your every movement as you came.
Hearing his hero name come from your innocent mouth paired with the way your cunt clenched tightly around his cock made a feral growl leave his lips as he searched for his own release, moving his hand back to your hip as he began to use your body like his own personal cock sleeve.
“You feel so good clenching around me, Princess. Squeezing my cock.” He grunted, his cock throbbing with his impending orgasm, “Gonna cum in this pretty little pussy.”
“No!” You blushed, immediately remembering that he’d taken your panties. You couldn’t-
“Fuck,” Kirishima grunted as white ropes of cum shot into your tight cunt, painting your inner walls white as he rode out his climax, giving a few more hard ruts of his hips.
“You’re such a good little girl,” You whimpered as Kirishima lifted you from his lap, his cock slipping out of your cunt as he sat you back down beside him, tucking his length back inside his sweatpants as he helped you to flatten your skirt over your legs.
“How many stops, Sweetheart?” He waited for you to check the passenger information system.
“It’s the next one,” You pulled your shirt back down, fixing your hoodie as you made to stand, the movement of the train paired with your wobbly legs made it hard to stand.
“Don’t worry, I’ll escort you home. I wouldn’t be much of a hero if I didn’t make sure a lady out on her own at night didn’t get home safely!” He helped you to your feet as you immediately felt his cum seep from your quivering cunt and spill down your legs, a drip falling to the floor as you tried to pull the hem of your skirt lower down your thighs, “It’s for your own safety,”
Pairing: Priya x MC (Rose) x Kamilah
Warnings: Heavily! NSFW aka pure sin. Minors, avert your eyes. The rest, prepare to be tainted.
A/N: Another request fic, I hope it’s everything you wanted. Enjoy!
Loud bass. Strobe lights. The comfort of alcohol.
Those were the only things Rose was aware of as she raised the forth shot of the night to her lips and downed it in one go. A trail of fire slipped down her throat, its burn more tolerable by the minute. The empty glass was pushed towards the bartender with a vague gesture for a refill. The handsome man regarded her cautiously for a moment, the ‘you sure this is a good idea?’ type of look, before complying.
Of course, Rose was sure.
She was certain going to Priya’s club to drink, dance, let loose and forget how shitty her life had gotten within the last months was most definitely not a good idea. Adrian had warned her to stay away from ‘that place’, Kamilah had pretty much forbid it. Which was exactly what made Rose go, in the end, against all common sense.
Defiance was as sweet and toxic as the tequila slipping down her system.
Perhaps Kamilah would know –she probably would and Rose was counting on it— the following days and be irritated over it. The secretary dared even hope upset, but that was a long shot for the stone-faced ancient. She was fine with getting even just a mild rise out of her. Anything, other than the cold-shoulder treatment the queen had been giving her, as of late.
‘This won’t work for us. It’s too dangerous. It was a mistake.’ Kamilah had said. Only she’d said it a tad too late, after the human had gone and developed feelings for her she was stupid enough to think were returned.
“Ah. I thought I smelled something delicious.” A familiar voice came from behind, light and throaty.
Rose made to turn around to meet its owner, but a cold, unyielding body blocked her movement. Priya, as always, had zero regard for personal space. Rose hated that she never quite hated it. The designer’s expensive, chocolaty perfume and subtle hair conditioner were impossible to ignore, even over the many scents of the club. Impossible to dislike. The human caught herself breathing in a little deeper.
“And what are you doing here, little bird, so far from the safety of the nest?” Full, dark lips leaned tantalizingly close to her ear.
“Well, it is a club…” Rose gestured, greatly appreciative of the liquid courage in her veins. She couldn’t push Priya off if she tried, so she didn’t even attempt it. Merely turned back to her drink, trying –failing— to ignore the fingers playing with the very tips of her wavy hair. Come on, Rose, you’re drunk enough to focus on the shot…
“That it is.” Priya slipped from her back to her side, casually leaning against the counter, never too far.
Rose shouldn’t feel the loss of contact so acutely. She willed her eyes to stay glued on her drink, but they didn’t obey, turning of their own volition to the designer, in awe of how good her silver dress looked against her caramel skin. She glowed like an angel. Or, more accurately, like a demon in the guise of one.
Priya raised her long fingers in a deliberately slow motion, knowing, too well, she held every bit of Rose’s attention. She took a sprinkle of salt between them, then turned to lick at her other wrist, never breaking eye-contact with Rose. The secretary had to hold her breath, while an ache settled low in her stomach. She pressed her thighs a little tighter together. Priya dropped the salt onto her wrist and held a lime between her teeth with a sexy little wink.
Her arched eyebrow was a challenge; ‘do you think you can play?’
Rose shouldn’t. She knew she shouldn’t. Indulgence with Priya was fatal, but she made temptation so difficult to resist. The secretary did not shy away from the hunger in her eyes. She leaned in, licking the salt off the designer’s smooth skin, lingering just a tad over non-beating veins. Then she downed her shot… and went for the lime.
Priya smirked as the secretary sucked on it, both loving its sourness and loathing the fact it was between them. The vampire fixed the problem for her, taking the lime off her mouth to replace it with her lips.
Oh. Rose’s brain halted.
She didn’t think it was possible for a kiss to feel so slippery and so good, but the way Priya moved, the way her tongue coaxed hers only to leave her wanting more, proved otherwise. Cold hands once again framed her waist, crushing their bodies together, sharp nails digging in.
Rose hissed from the sting, but Priya only chuckled, following her for another prolonged liplock. By the time she pulled back, the secretary could barely stand. She was pretty sure there would be crescent marks on her skin the next morning, but they were not as insistent an ache as the one between her legs.
The vampire seemed to notice, her gaze an abyss as she stared at Rose, ready to devour her. Her fingers closed around her wrist in a vice grip, pulling, too fast, towards the back room.
“Stop right there.” A growl came from behind them, halting their steps.
Rose whipped around to see Kamilah, far more agitated than she’d ever imagined. There were ominous shadows around her eyes, a petrifying coldness to her aura. She was furious, like a wildfire about to burn everything to the ground. Holy…
Priya, however, only laughed. Her chin dropped to Rose’s shoulder, an arm around her waist. “And why would I, stick-in-the-mud? Have you forgotten this is my kingdom?”
“It’s my human you’re laying hands on.” Kamilah took another step forward, a clear warning. Rose gulped. That was terrifying…ly Hot, her horny brain added. “Drop them before you lose them.”
“Yours?” Priya smirked challengingly. “I don’t see your mark on her.” she guided her hair out of the way to make her point. “I don’t smell your scent.” she said it against Rose’s neck, just to anger Kamilah further. “But she’s a big girl. If she doesn’t want to have fun with me, she can walk away before it begins.”
“Come, Rose. Let’s go.” Kamilah said.
But the secretary… wasn’t so sure. “You can’t just toss me and pull me back on a whim.” she stated. “If you’re going to let go, then let go.”
Priya smirked victoriously and began leading her to the next chamber with deceptive gentleness. Backward steps, so she could gloat at Kamilah’s look all the way.
The vampires feeding on their every desire in the Red Room looked up with hungry eyes when the pair passed them by, but the look their clan leader gave them was an order in itself –‘this one is for me alone’.
The final room was a decadent space filled with dark tiles and black sheets, a wardrobe Rose wasn’t sure she wanted to open out of fear of what it contained and a four-poster, queen-sized bed whose purpose was clear. There were no windows. No means of escape.
“Welcome to my sanctum, doll.” Priya spoke by her ear, from behind. A cold finger traced across her shoulders, to the zipper of her dress. The human shivered. “Now come, let me see you.” The fabric pooled, crimson as blood, at Rose’s feet. The designer’s lips latched onto her neck as though they couldn’t wait to drink from it. “Let me taste you.”
Rose could only moan at the feel.
Half a second later, the room was spinning; she was pushed onto the bed and harshly pinned there. The vampire, out of her own dress and clad only in black, lacy lingerie, pushed up between her legs, biting underneath her jaw with blunt teeth. Rose bit her lip not to cry out, but she was certain she’d already stained through her white underwear and her control over her body’s primal cravings was fading fast.
Priya pulled back to regard her with glowing red eyes. Rose wanted to commit the wild beauty to memory, though wasn’t given time to. The designer moved fast, ducked, pushed twin needles into her skin.
Rose really did cry out, then.
The sensation was different with every vampire, but no less addictive for both parties involved. Priya hurt, at first. A lot. Enough to drive the human to tears. Then all the cutting chill and pain shifted into boundless pleasure, mind-numbing, toe-curling, deep and so very dark. Rose wanted to push her fangs deeper into her veins, as far in as they would reach. She was already on the edge of her orgasm…
When Priya’s head was extracted from her neck.
Rose was shocked to see Kamilah there, fangs bared and hissing, followed by the younger vampire’s animalistic growl. And yet, somehow, even the sight of Priya with her fangs stained red and trails of blood down her chin only served to ignite Rose further.
It occurred to her they were one step away from pouncing on each other, so she did the only thing she could.
She pushed herself up and between them.
Priya’s eyes flitted from her body, to her wound, to Kamilah. The elder queen leaned down to lick the blood as though she couldn’t help herself. Rose groaned. Then the designer was pressed to her front once more, tipping her chin up to kiss down her throat, a slender finger hooking into her panties and pulling them to the side.
Rose had no time to wonder what was happening. Everything was touch and slippery chill and heat and she couldn’t tell who was caressing her where. Kamilah’s nails moved up her thighs. Her fangs barely prickled at a lower spot on her neck. Priya was toying with her center, lips and tongue at her breast.
“I –ah!— I can’t—!” she panted –cried?— one hand finding purchase on Kamilah’s hair, the other on Priya’s shoulder. She was burning with the need to crumble into pieces in their arms. To come all over Priya’s fingers while Kamilah was biting her, but she wasn’t even certain if she could take that—
Both vampires moved, then. Two sets of fangs sank into opposite sides of her jugular and Rose lost her mind, her body, the bed beneath her knees. She screamed against the tidal wave of pleasure, coating and clenching around Priya’s fingers. It was too much, otherworldly, enough to shatter her mind.
Her orgasm felt never-ending… until the world started to grow dark.
Kamilah was the first to pull away, then pushed at Priya to stop. The designer leaned back with a satisfied hum, licking her full lips. Her sexy smile and red eyes were hypnotizing in the blur settling over Rose’s mind, the exhaustion crawling across her limbs…
Her eyes began to droop. Her body to fall. Kamilah’s hand curled around her head and gently guided her to the plush pillows. Rose fought down the urge to surrender to sleep, yet it was overpowering.
The echo of Priya’s soft, insistent mouth and Kamila’s caring, firm touch followed her to the land of dreams.
My heart died with you
Akaashi Keiji x reader
Summary: Akaashi Keiji. A very successful man. If you were to ask anyone about him they would say that he has a good job and a beautiful wife. Or had a beautiful wife.
Word count: 1338
A/n: I already posted this but I am just copying it here! Please reblog if you link my work!
Warning: Alcohol, character death (reader), suicide??, ANGST, post timeskip
One year. It had been one year since the day that he lost his light, his laughter and his love. One year since Akaashi Keiji lost you. You were the love of his life. He loved everything about you, from the way your eyebrows would wrinkle when you laughed to the way you said his name. Today, you were all his friends talked about. Bokuto, you best friend was more depressed than usual, even Tsukishima seem to miss you. That day going to work was both the best and worst decision. It helped him keep his mind from wandering to thoughts of whether you were in a better place or if you still watched out for him, but those looks of sadness and sympathy from the faces of his co-workers made him feel sick with regret. He left the office early that day to head to the bar across the street from his office. Now Akaashi was not a heavy drinker, whenever you would go out for drinks, he was always the designated driver. He never even thought about letting the alcohol touch his lips, but when he walked into the empty bar, he just hoped that he would be able to make his way home after a few drinks. Taking a seat at the counter, he orders his first drink
“Whiskey neat, please.”
It had been 5 shots, no 6. The world around him was just starting to get slightly blurry. The quiet bar was now bustling with customers looking for the same high as he was. They were all looking for a way to forget what was right outside the threshold of the bar doors. As Akaasi finishes yet another, a woman comes up to him, everything she does reminds him of you. The way her hair fell around her face and the way she walked was so stupidly similar to the way you would when you were drunk. Sitting on the bar stool next to him, she crosses her legs and leans forwards seductively.
“Hey,” she slurred, in a manner that was so similar to the way you would take when you had a little too much to drink.
“Hey,” Akaashi replied. The large wave of nostalgia washing over him like a tsunami. Everything about this woman in front of him was exactly like you. Well almost, she had the look of lust and mischievousness in her eyes, while you always had a look of innocence and kindness. But that difference wasn’t enough to keep Akaashi from indulging in a dream, even if it was just for the night. “Do you want a drink?”, he finishes. The smug smile on the woman’s face was enough to answer his question.
They lasted 2 drinks. 2 drinks before he let the succubus like woman pull him outside to an alley by his tie. The kiss they shared was sloppy as both ends intertwined their tongues in a fight for control. One of her hands was busy lacing the fingers through his dark curly hair, and the other was working on the buttons of his shirt. The passion was nothing but a pure illusion, but one that brought the drunken man some comfort. The kiss deepened with each passing second, becoming more and more intimate. Suddenly, as her cold hands touched his bare chest, in the way you used to do, did his eyes flash open. The coldness was uncharacteristic of you. Your hands were always had warmth. These hands feel like those of a dead body. In a panic, the man that you loved so much pushed the woman that mirrored you almost perfectly. Both people were silent at his sudden opposing movement. The woman moved closer to him caressing his muscular chest with her cold, dead hands.
“Keiji, what happened?”, she asked with lust dripping from every word she spoke.
“I am sorry, I can’t do this. Especially not today.” Akaashi answered. “And it is Akaashi to you.”, he answered with a sliver of hatred in his tone as he buttoned up his shirt and readjusted his tie, all the effects of the alcohol now gone. Before he walked away, leaving the woman alone in the alley, confused and alone. He wished he could say that he hated her for what she made him do. But he couldn’t. It was his fault, his fault for betraying his loyalty to you, and letting that woman take advantage of him. He could hate her because he was too busy hating himself.
The walk back to the apartment was long and full of shame. The thought and memories of you bombarded his mind. He wanted nothing more than to be held in your arms while you told him everything would be alright. Your warmth was always able to pull him out of his thoughts. It was like you were his life line. Pulling him out of the deep and mysterious ocean and into the safety of your arms.
When he arrived at the apartment that the two of you used to share, he was met with emptiness. No warm meal, no hug, no hello, and no you. Sighing, he loosens his tie and unbuttons the first few buttons on his shirt. Walking through the gloomy, dark and empty kitchen, one that was once filled with laughter and happy memories, he makes his way to your favourite spot in the entire apartment, the fire escape. You would sit there at night with a cup of coffee and a fluffy blanket to talk to the sky. “The night sky knows everything about everyone!”, you used to explain excitedly to Keiji. “All the stars and the moon that make up the night sky always keep their promise and all of your secrets.”. You were so happy back then. It made him wonder when it all changed for you. And why didn’t he notice. He was supposed to be very observant, but he couldn’t even notice the spark in your eyes dull as your smile slowly shrink. Grabbing a cup of coffee, your old blanket and the photo of the two of you on your wedding day. Settling down to sit on the fire escape, Akaashi stared at the photo of the two of you, both frozen in time and forever young. You looked so beautiful that day he thought that you were definitely a goddess. Your dress had long lace sleeves and a low scooped neckline that perfectly suited you. He wore a classic tux with dark blue accents you could only see if you looked long enough and a blood red rose which adored his breast pocket. Everything about that day was perfect. All of his dreams came true of a beautiful wedding with an even more stunning bride. He wordlessly ran his along the picture, pausing when he got to your face, a wide beautiful smile on your face and your bridesmaids and Bokuto surrounding you, and Akaashi holding your hand with a rare smile on his face as well. The generally calm and composed man broke down into tears.
After what seemed like a hour of crying, Akaashi looked up towards the night sky, some of the stars were present, and a crescent moon hung above his head, the noise of the city fading behind him. Wiping away the last remnants of the tears, he spoke to the night sky, hoping that maybe you could hear him too.
“Y/n,” he began, voice shaking, “I am sorry I couldn’t save you. I’m sorry. I am so, so, so sorry. I know in your letter you told me to move on. I went on a date with a girl, but I couldn’t move on. If you are watching over me, you probably know what happened at the bar today. The woman I was with. I couldn’t help myself. She reminded me so much of you. I thought that maybe I could give my heart to her. But I couldn’t. How could I when my heart died with you?”.
Loki/OFC one shot
Rated M: Angst, tooth rotting fluff, love, some light smut,
Summary: Laek is a healer from Alfheim sent to Asgard to train under Eir. She is lonely on so alien a world, with no one to talk to and all her dreams of adventure on hold. When she begins to receive gifts from a secret source, she cannot begin to imagine who has left them, or why.
**Set before the events of Thor I, when Loki was still a sweet (if mischievous) untraumatized soul.
I have been feeling a bit blue this weekend, and wanted to write something angsty and tooth-achingly sweet. This was the result. I hope you like it!!!
@arch-venus25 @caffiend-queen @ciaodarknessmyheart @devilish--doll @hiddlesholic @hopelessromanticspoonie @izhunny @just-the-hiddles @kellatron55 @myoxisbroken @nonsensicalobsessions @poetic-fiasco @shiningloki @yespolkadotkitty
*If I ever tag you and you want off a tag list, please let me know!
She did not belong here. The thought echoed like a silent scream through Laek's mind, try as she might to suppress it. Looking around her, at this strange world she'd been thrust into, it was all she could do not to weep. Laek knew she was being self indulgent and melodramatic, but she could not seem to help herself. What, after all, was a young woman like herself, born and raised to heal the injuries of men and gods, doing in a realm that celebrated war?
All around her, men and women dressed in armor, encased in and carrying the steel that was designed to do harm to one another. The air filled with the clang of weapons on a constant basis, accompanied by cries as blade edges found their homes in flesh. Even wielded as they were here in practice, mistakes were bound to be made, injuries acquired. They celebrated scars here, badges of honor for the noble race that elevated all that she had been raised to strive against.
It was not that she was a pacifist. Laek knew that there were things worth fighting for, causes that she would die to defend. It was just that the level of worship here accorded brute strength, the ability to maim and kill, was out of all proportion to her mind. Surely, surely, she thought, there were other skills of equal value.
She had been brought here to train in her arts, for it was on Asgard that the Goddess Eir, worshiped above all by healers such as herself, resided. It made sense, in its way. Where else would she be more needed than on this barbaric world. And Laek was learning much and more from the blessed Goddess. Her own powers and knowledge were still green, if great in latent strength. Laek was the strongest natural healer to be born to her people in generations, but at just 700 years old she had much still to learn. It was thought that 100 years under the watchful eye of Eir would be exactly what was needed to nurture her gift. 100 years. She had been here for one month, and already she wanted to throw herself off the much vaunted rainbow bridge to escape.
It would be easier, she often thought, if she didn't look so different on top of all else. She was smaller than most of these Asgardians, both in height and body mass, and her clothing was soft and flowing rather than hard and protective. Her pale gold hair she kept long, after the fashion of her Alfar people, braided across her temples and tied with ribbon woven through. Under a high brow, her wide, tilted eyes shaded different colors, from gold to green to crystal, depending on her mood, an embarrassment to her now that she found them so often a cloudy grey that gave away her discontent.
Laek was not mistreated, of course. Eir and her acolytes were kind to her, in their fashion. But the Goddess was old, dry, and set in her ways. The All Mother, Frigga, had pulled her aside upon her arrival in a most kindly manner, telling Laek that her door was always open, should the young healer need to talk. Occasionally she had thought of taking her up on that offer, but in truth she was more than a little intimidated by the regal Goddess that ruled Asgard at her husband's side, and her courage had failed her every time. Odin himself flat out terrified her, as did their two sons, the golden Thor and the sleek, dark but pale Loki. She watched them, but never dared approach.
And so Laek spent her time in a somber routine. In the mornings she would rise, bathe, dress, and report to the infirmary. Once there, she would spend the early half of the day tending to the sick and injured, attending on Eir and absorbing as much knowledge as she could at the healer's side. In the afternoon, she would head to the library, where all of the written knowledge of all 9 realms was stored in the pages of books and scrolls, a collection that had no rival in any universe. She would loose herself there for hours in reading, studying healing or simply learning about the customs and practices of other places, places she longed in her secret, adventurer's heart to see for herself one day.
She ate her meals at the end of a table in the great feast hall, alone amidst a sea of strangers. At night, she retired to her chambers to an early rest, often walking in the moonlit garden beneath her rooms, where she could pretend for a moment that she were home and at peace.
It was in the library one afternoon, in the beginning of her second month, that the first token appeared. She had found her eyes glazing over as she studied a text on blood transfusions, and in an attempt to rouse her mind had gotten up and wandered to the section that contained dwarfish riddles, pulling a book at random to bring back to her seat.
When she returned to her bench, her breath caught in her chest. There, lying atop the open tome that had so sedated her, was a pale blue crystal. The stone, smooth to the touch and oval in shape, had a pure clarity that made the sparkling fire at its depth shine so brightly it looked like the evening star. Laek had seen many such stones in her time, for they came from her home, from Alfheim, but never one so perfect, so incandescent.
Dropping the riddle book, she had picked it up with trembling hands, and then, unable to do anything else, had run to her rooms, thrown herself on her bed and wept, clutching it to her breast. It was home, a talisman of all that she missed in this strange land.
She had asked the next day, in a shy, anxious voice, if the librarian on duty had seen where it had come from, who had left it. In response, she had gotten a terse "no" and a lecture on leaving her books unshelved when she was finished with them.
Eight days later, she had been walking in the garden as the first stars rose, blue stone secreted into her pocket so she could feel it cool against her hand. When she reached her favorite bench where she always stopped to gaze up at an unobstructed view of the heavens through a circle of elder trees, she found a flower. Placed carefully in the exact center of the bench, it was a perfect red rose, a flower that she had only read of until then. It grew on neither Asgard nor Alfheim, but was prized on Midgard for its beauty. She raised it to her nose and inhaled the lovely aroma, a soft smile coming to her lips.
After the rose, it had been a snowflake, perfectly preserved between two pieces of glass found in her cubby in the healer's quarters. Larger than any she had ever seen, she knew it could only come from Jotunheim, home of the fearsome Frost Giant. How anyone could have gotten it, let alone why they would have left it for her was a mystery she couldn't begin to explain. Still, the gesture touched her deeply. Someone had noticed her, other than to sneer or pity. Someone was being kind. She only wished she knew who it was.
Laek began to hope for the small tokens, to take greater note of her surroundings in case some small item were to be slipped in. It was a good thing, too, as she could easily have injured herself had she accidentally sat on the twisted puzzle box made of small metal daggers that had obviously come from Nidavellir. She spent all that night unlocking it, to find a bright green gem set on a silver chain within.
The tokens made Laek's life exciting again. Oh, she knew how pathetic that sounded, but she didn't care. She had a friend, even if they didn't make themselves known to her. Every time she searched the area where a gift was deposited, there was the same result. No one had seen anything. No trace was to be found of the person who had left them.
When they stopped, she was devastated. Three weeks went by, and there was nothing. Not in any of the places she frequented. As time went on and no further offerings of friendship appeared, Laek grew despondent. Perhaps whoever it was had found a new game, a new way to pass the time that did not involve the strange Liosalfar who was all alone on Asgard. On the day that marked a month passing with no new token, Laek begged off early from the infirmary, pleading fatigue of her own, and returned to her quarters. She knew it was silly to feel so bereft, but she could not help it.
She was aware something was wrong the moment she opened the door to her outer chamber and her eyes shifted to amber. She had magic deep within her, at her very core. A warding over her rooms, her sanctuary, was a automatic outcrop of that magic. She could tell beyond a shadow of doubt when someone had breached that warding, no matter how subtle the magic the intruder had used. Tiptoeing silently, she made her way towards her bedroom, where a quiet rustling could be heard. Opening the door, her eyes went to a figure standing over her bed.
"Frjosa!" she said, arm twisting out towards the intruder, who instantly froze in place.
With a pounding heart, Laek pushed door the rest of the way open and gaped in stunned disbelief. There, next to her bed, was the frozen form of Loki, Prince of Asgard, Odinson. She had caught him just raising his head, his green eyes wide with surprise as the spell hit him. His hair, dark and straight, brushed against the collar of his green tunic ornamented with gold. One elegant, long fingered hand was extended towards her pillow, and in it was grasped a rolled up piece of parchment tied with a green ribbon.
"What in all the Nine?" Laek said allowed, staring at the frozen prince.
Why would he be in her room? It made sense in one way, only a strong sorcerer would have been able to break her wards and enter. She knew he was known for his mischief, had he had some prank in mind to play on the unsuspecting foreigner thrust into their midst? With his mastery of magic, he could pull any number of tricks on her.
Shaking her head in confusion, Laek made a small motion with her fingers, and unfroze his body, still, however, containing him within a parameter of limited space.
"My Lady," he gasped, a flush of red suffusing his cheeks. "I pray, forgive me my intrusion."
"You," she said, stupidly.
"I am Loki," he told her, sketching a courtly bow.
"Yes, I know," she replied with a little laugh, feeling her eyes shade to blue as she blushed. He was royalty and handsome as sin, she could hardly not know who he was. "I am Laek of Alfheim. But I suppose you know that, since you are in my room."
"I do," he admitted with a small nod of his head. "Again, a thousand apologies for my trespass."
"But why are you trespassing?" she asked, tilting her head as she stared at his handsome frame. She could feel his magic pulsing from him, attempting to find a chink in the stasis field she had him trapped in. Only in her own chambers would she be able to confine one as strong as he she knew.
"I don't suppose you would believe this is a shortcut to the armory?" he asked with a devastating smile.
"Through my bedroom? I think not."
"Ah, well then."
"What is that you have in your hand?" she demanded, noticing how he was attempting to hide it behind his back.
"Nothing," he said shortly, blushing again.
"It is not nothing!" she approached him warily, as one would a cornered animal. She knew he could do no magic, not bound as she had him, but that did not mean he could not use physical strength should she come too close. Against that, she had no defense unless she chose to freeze him again, and such a course would not yield the answers she sought.
"Your magic work is commendable," he praised her, sending a spark of something warm shooting through her. "Normally I could break a spell such as this in a matter of seconds, but your construction is seamless."
"You are in my nest," she shrugged, inching closer. "It is the way of our kind to protect our homes."
"Perhaps you could teach me," he smiled again, unleashing a lethal charm for one so young. She felt her own lips begin to tilt up, struggled to get them under control.
"Perhaps," she said non-committaly. "Once I know your intentions."
With speed that she knew surprised others not of her race, Laek's hand shot out and snatched the scroll from his hand. He made an unconscious noise of protest, but she had it out of his reach before he could grab it back. Was it a spell, she wondered? Some joke he sought to play on her? Biting her lower lip, she untied the ribbon and unscrolled the crackly parchment.
Her eyes widened with shock as she read the words written in an ornate, ancient hand. It was Vanir in origin and dialect, but the words were not a sorcerous incantation, but rather a poem; a rather romantic, lyrical poem set in a forest by night.
"I meant to be gone before you found that," he stammered. "I had no wish to embarrass you."
"You!" she breathed, realization hitting her. "You are the one who left all the tokens for me!"
Her left hand dipped into her pocket to grasp the blue stone, while her right flew to the green gem around her neck. Her eyes flicked to her bedside table, where the rose stood in a crystal bud vase next to the pressed snow.
"I did," he admitted, not meeting her eyes. "I ran out of locations to leave them for you. You go so few places. It took me weeks to breach your warding and make my way in here. I never expected you to return so soon. It is not your normal habbit."
He was babbling, she realized. As though he were the nervous one.
"Why?" she asked, at last. "Why leave them for me?"
"You seemed so lonely," he said, arms coming across his chest and head ducking down defensively. "Always by yourself, not really fitting in here. It caught my attention."
"Yes," he said softly. "I know a bit what that is like. Let us say, it piqued my curiosity. An easy thing to do, in truth. I watched you often in the library. I spend a portion of most days there. Tracked what you read. It seemed you had a desire to see the worlds."
"I do," she admitted. "I always have."
"I know a bit about that too. I know of course that you are here for study, and what a demanding teacher Eir can be. I trained under her for a century or so myself you see. I thought, if you could not go to the world, perhaps the world, or a small representation of it, could come to you."
"A stone from Alfheim, a snowflake from Jotunheim, a puzzle and gem from Nidavellir, a rose from Midgard, and a poem from Vaniheim. You went to all of those places? Found these things?"
"I did," he said, as though it were nothing. "It is easy enough if you know how. I admit, I was stumped as to what I would do when I reached Helheim on my list. Even I might have difficulty breaking in and out of there."
"Again, why?" she asked, staring at him with wonder. "It must have been so difficult. Why go to all that trouble? You might have just talked to me."
"I like a challenge," he said proudly, lifting his chin. After a moment though, his eyes dropped. "And I did not know if such an overture would be accepted. I am not... well liked or understood on Asgard."
"That makes two of us," she laughed, a bit breathlessly.
"I suppose it does," he replied, chuckling himself. "My dear Laek, do you think you might undo the stasis barrier? While it is causing me no physical distress, the wound to my pride is nigh on unbearable."
"Of course!" she said at once, moving her hand in a lateral swipe that dissolved magic.
"Thank you," he said with a deep breath of relief.
"I liked the gifts," she told him quietly, suddenly feeling shy now that he was free.
"Did you?" he asked, stepping towards her.
"They are all that has made these past months bearable on this planet."
"You are all that has made the past months bearable," he said, gazing into her eyes in a way that made her breath catch. "Before you arrived, I was miserable. Nothing changed, everyone was the same. Then you appeared, and I couldn't breath. I wanted... needed to know you."
"Me?" she she breathed in awe.
"You. Have you no idea how beautiful you are? And then to discover you were smart as well, gifted in magic, and curious to boot? For the first time in centuries there was someone in this accursed realm besides my mother who I thought I might understand. Who I wanted to know. To know in so many ways."
"You could have said hello," she said, feeling far out of her depth as he stood so near to her, took her hand in his.
"I could have," he said. "I chose not to. Can you forgive me?"
"Yes," she said simply, willing in that moment to forgive him any sin.
"Will you let me kiss you?" it was the uncertainty in his voice that touched her the most. He honestly didn't know if she would allow it.
"Yes," she said again, transfixed.
He was slow, gentle. His lips touched hers softly at first, brushing against her like silk. When she tilted her head towards him, he sighed into the kiss and gently lapped against her lips with his tongue. Laek opened her mouth willingly to him, inviting him to explore, to taste her. His arm came around her waist and pulled her flush against him as her fingers fanned out over his chest. He at last pulled away from her, leaving little nipping kisses on her lower lip as he did.
"Minn svass," he murmured as he gazed at her. "Your eyes are crystal."
Laek blushed crimson. She could tell from his smug voice that he knew what crystal meant. Her truest color. She wanted him. Wanted him desperately.
"Do not be embarrassed, sweetheart," he smiled. "Mine would be too."
As he took a step away from her, her eyes drifted downward and she saw the proof of his words, tenting his trousers.
"I would not disrespect you," he told her in a rough voice. "Would court you as your station deserves."
Laek bit her lower lip, struggling for words, always a problem for her when her emotions ran high.
"Could you not disrespect me just for one day?" she asked at last, flashing him a nervous smile.
A slow, wide grin spread over Loki's face as he stepped back towards her, pulled her into his embrace.
"I can do that," he practically growled at her.
He was kissing her then with a newfound ferocity, claiming her mouth, her neck, anywhere he could find flesh. Her hands fumbled at the hem of his tunic, and he raised his arms to help her pull it off. Her dress quickly followed, and he tumbled her down onto the obliging mattress just inches away.
"So beautiful," he groaned, eyes wandering her body where she lay naked before him. "Delicate as a flower and all for me."
"Loki," she panted as he devested himself of his trousers and stood before her in all his glorious nakedness.
She guided him into her, sweet and wet and open to his invasion. Her slim legs rose to wrap themselves around his hips as he buried himself within her walls. He had wanted her for so long, the beautiful, alien woman who had captured his interest from first glance. The reality was even more perfect than he had imagined. She was soft yet supple, molding around him as he thrust within her. He could feel the magic that was part of her very being, and it mingled with his own in a way that made their coupling more intimate than he had ever known it could be. When he felt her walls clamp down around him, felt his own release pump warm and strong inside her, filling her, it was with an intensity he had never experienced before. He cried out her name, almost as though in prayer, heard his own name called back with equal urgency and bliss.
When at last they could breath again without panting, Laek lay cradled in Loki's arms, head resting on his slim, muscular chest. One of his hands toyed lightly with the stone around her neck, and she smiled at the thought of him finding it for her.
"Promise me," he said to her, "that you will wear this always."
"I promise," she told him without hesitation.
"Tomorrow I begin to court you officially," he reminded her.
"I look forward to it," she smiled at him with a dreamy smile. The smile faded after a moment as her crystal eyes sought his green. "Loki, I have been so lonely."
"Think not on that, love," he told her, covering her with his body. "I am with you now, and you will never have to be alone again."
Rookie’s Nail Salon
Paring: Ethan Ramsey x Casey Valentine (f!mc)
A/N: Just jumping in here to let you know this is a very sweet fanfiction. No NSFW content here this time. Just pure cute moments and friendship! <3
“... yeah I think you have a real talent Case!”
“Could you do mine for me later?”
“I.. yeah of cour-“
“Scatter. Dr. Ramsey’s coming!”
The group of friends who were gathered in the atrium scattered, heading off to do there jobs. Leaving Casey to stand there alone, with a face like a deer trapped in headlights as her boss and secret lover strode towards her, trademark scowl on his face. He stopped in front of her, arms crossing over his chest as he acknowledged her.
“Dr. Ramsey! Hi! What’re you doing here?”
Ethan sighed as he pinched the bridge of his nose.
“..we’re in the hospital Rook- Dr. Valentine. My place of work, in case you hadn’t noticed.”
“Ha ha, of course! Just... testing you.”
She laughed awkwardly before turning and making an effort to run off.
“Not so fast.”
Her shoulders sagged as she held in a sigh and grumble.
“Is there something I can do for you, Dr. Ramsey?” she asked, putting on her best polite smile.
“Yes. You can tell me what your group was doing congesting the walkway down here.”
“You mean like you are now?” she retorted cheekily, raising a brow. A light blush spread onto Ethan’s face as he stumbled over his words, moving out of the way.
“No.” he grinned. Casey rolled her eyes but couldn’t help smiling at his child-like action. She shook her head, looking at her shoes before looking back at her boss with a serious look.
“Honestly. If that’s all you need, I need to get going now. I have rounds to get ready for.”
“Oh. Yeah.. of course.”
Ethan smiled and gestured for her to leave, she turned and walked away happily to get ready for her rounds.
--- Late That Night ---
Casey had just finished setting up her station at the dining table when a knock sounded at the door. She raced to answer it and smiled back at a happy looking Bryce.
“Hey Casey. How are you?”
“I’m okay. How was work?”
They shared a chuckle and hug before Bryce come in and shut the door behind him.
“So.... Rookie’s Nail Salon huh?”
“Yup. Are you a potential client?”
“oooo. I don’t know, how much do you charge?”
“$75, but for you I can do the friends & family discount and ask for $60.”
“$60?! That’s a little expensive isn’t it?”
They shared a look and then burst into a fit of giggles as they headed to the table. Casey passing Bryce a binder with a smile.
“Take a look at the designs. Take your time and then let me know what you want.”
Casey sat back in her chair and played a game absent-mindedly whilst she waited. Bryce looked through the pictures, finding it hard to make a decision. All of the designs were so nice. But in the end, he decided on a white, blush tone design with golden lettering.
“This one.” he said, pointing to the picture. Casey locked her phone and put it to the side. Sitting up and to attention.
“Sorry, I wasn’t looking. Which one?”
Bryce points again with a smile and places his hands on the table. Casey gets to work, starting up an entirely new conversation.
“Ramsey was not pleased with our congregation this morning.”
“When is he ever pleased with stuff our group does?”
“That’s true. We do get up to some pretty ridiculous shenanigans for almost 30 year olds.”
“Speak for yourself Cass.”
They chuckled as Casey done his cuticles before selecting out the polishes and the brushes she would need.
“What am I writing on your nails anyway?”
“On my left hand fingers, sexy and on that thumb draw a heart. On my right hand, write bitch. Please.”
Casey giggled. “I think the whole world knows you’re a sexy bitch Bryce. Hell. You may as well be a Greek God.”
“Are you admitting you think I’m sexy?”
“Bryce, I know you’re sexy.”
“Why thank you. Nice of you to state that so boldly.”
They laugh again before Casey’s face settles in concentration. She’s halfway done when Bryce shifts ever so slightly. She looks up at him as the brush slides off his nail.
“Are you okay?”
“No... I uh.. I need to pee.”
“Bryce! I told you not to guzzle that drink!”
He grins at her sheepishly, blushing lightly as he shifts in his seat.
“Would you hel-“
“It’s the first and last time I’m holding you whilst you do your business.”
“Thank you! You’re a life saver!”
He pushed himself up with the palms of his hands and jogged to the bathroom, Casey following behind him. She closed the door but didn’t lock it, Bryce smiled awkwardly as he gestured to his jeans. Casey crouched down and unzipped them, lifting the toilet seat with the other hand when an idea popped into her head. She left the toilet seat as of she was going to the toilet and undone Bryce’s jeans completely, closing her eyes and pulling them and his boxers so they pooled at his feet.
“Just sit down and pee.”
She covered her ears and shut her eyes tight. Once he was done, Bryce gently tapped her with his foot, she turned and opened one eye to see he was still sitting on the toilet.
“I uh... I need you to um...”
“oh god no. I’m not...”
They stared at each other, awkward energy hanging in the air between them.
“Could you not just wiggle?”
“Wiggle?” Bryce laughed
“Yeah. You know. Wiggle.” Casey demonstrated, seriousness on her face.
Bryce pressed his lips together trying to suppressed the laughter bubbling at the back of his throat, but he couldn’t fight it. He shook his head as it came out. The sound rich and full, making Casey pout.
“I- I’m so-sorry but. Wiggle.” Bryce said as the laughter overtook him and he leaned forwards, holding his hands in front of him.
”Bryyyyycccceeee.” Casey whined and he looked at her adorable pouting face.
“Okay. Okay. I’ll sto-o-op.” He said but couldn’t stop laughing for about five minutes. Casey sat on the floor in a huff.
Once he had calmed down, he looked at Casey seriously.
“Alright. Serious talk now. I really need you to clean the remaining piss from my...”
“I suppose if I have to.” Casey huffed before cleaning him and pulling up his clothes. She washed her hands and they headed back to the dining table to finish his nails. Once they were done and dried Bryce sat back and admired them with awe. Casey watched him from the corner of her eye as she cleared things away before turning to face him.
“Are they okay?”
“Casey... they’re gorgeous. Everyone at the hospital is going to be jealous of these.”
“Just don’t tell them I done it. Rookie’s Nail Salon is for friends only.”
“Okay. Message received. Loud and clear. Ethan’s rookie.” He smirked as he said his last words and a blush creeped up Casey’s neck and across her cheeks, she tried to hide it by looking away, but Bryce had already seen it and started teasing her.
“You’re in love with your boss. You’re in love with your boss.” Bryce sang teasingly, Casey’s blush getting brighter with each tease.
“You should get home, Ethan’s scalpel jockey.” She retorted with a smirk of her own. As Bryce blushed a little himself. “Oh that’s right. I went there.”
“I can see why you want to.” Bryce commented, clearing his throat as they reached the door
“Why I want to what?”
“You know. ... Get in his pants.”
Casey instantly turned as red as a tomato, choking on the air she was breathing.
“Hey, it’s okay.” Bryce reassured as he placed a hand on her shoulder. “I’d be trying too if I were you.” He smirked with a pat to her shoulder and left out the door. His face changing to a sweet smile as he turned round, shutting the door behind him.
--- The Next Day ---
When Casey awoke the next day, the light was filtering in through the gaps in her curtains. As she stretched out with a groan, her eyes widened in alarm as she noticed the time on the clock that sat on her bedside table. Though the panic disappeared from her chest as quickly as it arose when she realized today was a day off for her. She walked out into the main part of the apartment to find it completely empty. Smiling she grabbed some cookies and a can of her favourite soda, settling on the couch to put on one of her favourite shows to binge. After getting herself super comfy with her blankets, favourite stuffed toy and plenty of refreshments to indulge herself with, she pressed play. It was well into the afternoon before her phone even so made as much as a sound. She paused her show when it dinged, signaling she had a new text message. She picked it up and smiled softly when she saw it was Bryce.
Bryce: Hey! How are you today?
Casey: I’m doing okay. Or I was until someone interrupted my binging...
Bryce: Sorry not sorry babes. Guess what though!!?
Casey: Somehow the whole hospital knows I helped you go to the toilet? -_-
Bryce: Ha. Funny. No. Ethan Ramsey... THE ETHAN RAMSEY. A.k.a, your boss. LIKES MY NAILS! :O
Casey: haha! Good one Bryce, you’re funny xD
Bryce: No. Casey I’m dead serious. He JUST complimented them. He’s still standing next to me if you want me to call you and ask him to verbally verify it.
Casey: Go on then. Dare you :P
She placed her phone back on the table with a smirk as she looked at her messaged challenge, but the smirk morphed into shock as her phone rang with Bryce’s number. She picked up with a chuckle.
“So Lahela. You actually called me.”
“I did. And Dr. Ramsey will now tell you what he told me.”
She giggled as she heard Ethan sigh on the other end of the line. She could practically feel his eyeroll as he spoke up.
“Hello Dr. Valentine. I’m going on the record to say that you done a very good job with Dr. Lahela’s nails.”
“Thank you Dr. Ramsey. I know how much you hate taking time from your day to talk about non-work related things during work hours.”
“Pleasure. Can I get back to work now?”
“I’m not going to stop you. I have a binge session to get back to.”
“Looks like I’m not the only one Dr. Lahela is distracting then.”
Casey stifled a giggle, Bryce wouldn’t know because he wasn’t as close with Ethan as she was, but that comment was dripping with sarcasm and again, she could feel the suppressed smirk he was hiding as he walked away, his footsteps retreating. On the other end of the line Bryce whispered, sounding awestruck.
“He’s. so. COOL.”
Casey laughed. “What was that Bryce?”
Bryce cleared his throat. “Hm? Oh nothing! I just said, what a douche.”
“Mhm. Sure you did.”
“Whatever. I’m not the one with a crush on my boss. Today must be kinda sad for you huh?”
“One more word Lahela and I’ll come to the hospital in my 6 inch heels, baseball bat in hand. Just to look cool whilst I beat your ass.”
“You’re cute when you try to sound tough you know. Like Sienna. Only... she’s actually scary.
“I have a show to watch Bryce and you have work to do. Call me back later yeah?”
“hff. Fineee. Bye, I guess.”
She hung up with a chuckle, the home screen reappearing and a red bubble on her messaging app. She opened it and smiled when she saw who it was from.
Ethan: I was being truthful, Rookie. His nails are really good.
Casey: Aw. Thanks Ethan.
Ethan: Could you come over and do mine? I get off work in 3 hours.
Casey: Are you being serious?
Ethan: Yeah. What man wouldn’t want his nails done by his beautiful girlfriend?
Ethan: BEST FRIEND! Darn autocorrect. How do you turn it off?
Casey: heh. I’ll be there. Just let me know when you’re home.
Ethan: Awesome! :D
Later on Casey had finished binge watching her show and was showering, getting ready to head to Ethan’s with her nail supplies in tow. She could leave the apartment easily without raising suspicion with her roommates, as they were all at Donahue’s after their shifts. She left and caught the bus across town to Ethan’s apartment complex, pressing the buzzer for his apartment number, saying their secret word through the intercom to get in. A minute or two later she knocked on Ethan’s door. He answered with a smile, wearing some light blue basketball shorts, his cheeks flushed and hair dripping wet. It was clear he’d just got out the shower, but Casey couldn’t say anything back. Her heart was hammering in her chest, her own cheeks were turning a shade of light pink. She knew he could do the ‘hot stud’ look very well, but she had never seen the ‘hey baby. I need cuddles’ side of him before. If she wasn’t sure before, she definitely was now. Yup, she was in love with this man.
“Uh... Casey? Are you... going to come inside?”
Upon hearing his voice, she snapped back to reality with a small shake of her head. A soft smile taking over her features. “Yeah. Sorry, I just thought I’d left my straightening iron on.”
He gave a soft smile back, stepping out of the way so she could come inside. He knew that wasn’t the reason she’d zoned out, but he chose not to push the subject. She walked into the living room and looked around.
“Where can I set up?”
“Coffee table will be fine.”
She set up her little station as Ethan sat on the couch beside her with a smile, that turned into a light and amused chuckle as she put up her little light up sign.
“You’re too adorable. That’s what.” He responded with a shake of his head, adoration etched on his every facial feature as their eyes met. She smiled and just like she had with Bryce, she handed Ethan her little design book. He flipped through it to be a polite client but then placed it on the table.
“I decided when I saw Dr. Lahela and complimented him earlier.”
“yep. But first.. could I get a cuddle? Please?”
Casey’s heart ached in her chest as she took in his outstretched arms, pouty bottom lip, and the puppy dog look in his eyes. “Long day?” she asked, and he nodded. She chuckled lightly and slid closer to him, leaning back against the couch. He pulled his legs up and rested his head on her chest, wrapping his arms around Casey’s waist. Her hand going to his now damp hair and playing with it absent mindedly.
“You know. I like this side of you.”
“The cuddly teddy bear side. I understand you don’t want to be like this with everyone, and that’s totally fine. You’ve been through a lot in your 37 years of life so far. From what you’ve told me, it sounds rougher than having to wipe your ass with newspaper. No-one’s parent should walk out on their child like your mother did. And the anger you have towards her, I feel it. You aren’t alone there. And I’m glad you made peace with your father too. But those walls you put up because of that. When it’s just us, and you put them down, stop trying to prove how big your muscles are by holding them up 24/7. When you let things go and become just Ethan. I like that. Because Ethan is kind, caring, still a little bit of an ass at times... but overall, Ethan is amazing. He’s....” she trailed off, scared to finish her thought for fear of losing him by saying something too soon.
“He’s what?” Ethan asked as he sat up, looking at Casey.
“He’s a man that I admire very much and proceeds all of the outstanding expectations I had of him from reading his book.” She smiled though it was guarded and didn’t quite reach her eyes.
“You know. I figured out I signed that snake’s copy of your book. The one who almost lost you your job.”
“Dr. Olsen? Yeah. I regret that action every day. I got you to sign his book and then he betrays me because I helped a woman live out her dream. That and the fact we grew close and he was jealous. He wanted to be in my position. He wanted to be the one impressing you and sharing longing glances with you and-”
“Casey. I’m going to stop you right there.”
“I don’t give a damn about that snake. I care about you. And you deserve to have a signed copy. So.. I got you one. Wait here.”
Casey watched as he walked to his bedroom, returning with a smile on his face and a book shaped gift in his hand.
“Yes. I went to the trouble of wrapping it, but that’s because I had slight cover adjustments made, and well.. here.” He sat back down and blushed bashfully as he handed over the book. Casey took it with a smile, breaking her gaze away from him to unwrap it, gasping quietly as she looked at it.
“Ethan. You. But I’ve never...”
“You can tell a lot about someone in how they carry themselves and how they personalize things. And from the times I’ve been in your room. I concluded you like blush pink tones and golden trim. But go ahead. Open it and read what I’ve written aloud.”
She gave him a skeptical look as she opened the cover before looking down inside. Her jaw dropping at the long note inside.
“Go on. Read it for me.” He encouraged.
She took a deep breath and started reading. Saying the first word with a smile.
“Rookie. If I’d seen you at a book signing I would have written something short that seemed encouraging but most likely wasn’t. I would have been brief and aloof in acknowledging you back as you spoke to me. But I’ve known you for over a year now and I have so much more to say. When I saw you as an intern I swore to the God’s, begged for you not to be like the many others that had walked through those doors. And it seems my prayer was answered. You’re mistakes were... creative, to say the least, and the trouble you brought with you made me chuckle in private as I replayed situations over, seeing the other staffs reactions play over in my mind. It reminded me of the trouble I’d cause as a teenager. I still have no idea what I would’ve said to you back then, if I’d found you hiding, and you needed motivation. I’ve never been good at that. As you know I’m not really an optimist. Or well... I wasn’t much of one. But if you needed me to help you through something now. I’d say that you’ve got this, you’re smart, intelligent, funny... cute. I’d tell you that you’ve got this because you’re Casey flipping Valentine and you can conquer anything you set your mind to. You’re future both as a doctor and in medicine is bright, and who knows, maybe one day you’ll be doing this for me. Yours, Dr. Ethan Ramsey.”
It took her a few minutes to read it all, and at the end she teared up as she looked at him. He was smiling back at her, anticipation dancing in his eyes.
“Ethan, I...” she sighed happily, she was speechless. And she always had something to say. Yet Ethan Ramsey, the guy who a year ago would have just shouted at her to shut up and go back to work, had made such a kind gesture and rendered her speechless.
“Don’t tell me that I have the privilege in being the first person to actually shut you up for longer than 10 seconds.”
But she couldn’t answer that either. Tears pricked her eyes and her throat felt dry as her heart swelled in her chest. She closed the book and hugged it to her chest. Ethan smiled at her and let out a small breathy chuckle.
“You know. You could hug the actual man and not his book.”
She was rendered even more speechless. She must be dreaming. That was a joke. Ethan Ramsey doesn’t crack jokes. He gently slid the book from her grasp, laying it on the table and wrapped his arms around her smaller frame. They stayed like that for a while before Casey could talk again.
“Thank you, Ethan. That um.. that really moved me. Um...”
He smiled as she reached for a tissue, dabbing away her tears. “It’s okay.”
After things settled, she smiled at him again. “So were you going to tell me what colour nails you want?”
He let out a rich laughter. There she was. His Casey. The sassy little brunette with ombre dyed pink ends to her hair.
“Of course. I would like a bright red. With... little white flower details.”
Casey smiled brightly at him. “You got it. Dr. Ramsey.”
“Thank you. Dr. Valentine.”
Casey stayed at Ethan’s that night and they shared stories from their times in med school, with wine. Ethan told Casey about some of the mischief he would get up to, seeing how much he could shock her with each story, before they called it a night and they headed to bed.
The next day as Ethan collected the charts for his own patients after the team had finished their group rounds, fellow attending, senior staff and nurses passed comment on his nails. He passed Casey at a nurses station, writing on charts of her own, catching her gaze as she looked in his direction, almost as if she could sense him. They shared a secret smile and he winked subtly with a wave before continuing on his way. He went to seek her out that lunchtime and found her outside, playing basketball with her friends. He walked over and stopped on the side of the court.
“Who’s the rookie’s opposing team?” he asked, clearing his throat as a small smirk tugged at his lips.
“That would be us Dr. Ramsey. Non-shirts.” Bryce grinned. “You wanna join? We could use the extra member.”
He looked at Casey briefly, who gave him a challenging gaze. Almost as if daring him to break his own professional protocol.
“What do you say boss? You joining their team?”
His smirk was one only she could see before he discarded his white coat, tie and shirt on the side of the pitch, holding his hand out towards Bryce.
“Gimme the ball.”
“Alrighttttt!” Bryce exclaimed as he handed off the ball and the game resumed. It went on for way longer than any of their lunchtimes, but for some reason that day nobody seemed to care about that too much. It was sunny and they were having fun. Casey smiled at Ethan as he scored for his team a bunch of times, each time celebrating in a new way.
‘Aftermath’ Part 9: Be Prepared (Commodus x OC)
Summary: With the Senate officially dissolved, new alliances and plans form. The Emperor calls an old advisor, and two military minds come together to save their Republic.
Warning: Mentions of violence
Word Count: 2,203
Read Part 1: The Impossible Dream here
Read Part 2: Proud of Your Boy here
Read Part 3: Point of No Return here
Read Part 4: Look Down here
Read Part 5: Beneath a Moonless Sky here
Read Part 6: These Palace Walls here
Read Part 7: Wait For It here
Read Part 8: Something There here
“I had hoped you might have learned some humility and respect.”
Petronius scoffed as Gaius led him out of his villa, having spent the night there after a long discussion filled with songs about the Republic and philosophical quotes. The estate was quite modest for a Senator, or rather a former-Senator. Lemon trees that emanated a sublime citrus fragrance lined the front of the sandstone building.
“Forgive me, Senator. A general is one who only knows to fight their enemy whilst looking them in the eye. He knows not of the art of flattery or the strategy of bending words with a slip of his tongue.”
Gaius sighed. Such is the nature of most military men, he thought, save General Quintus. That man had enough intelligence to save his skin when Commodus seized power for the first time. However, like all military men, his allegiance ultimately returned to the Spaniard at the crucial moment of judgment. “You crave for too much, General,” the older man replied. “It does not become a warrior to yearn for bloodshed so strongly.”
“I want him dead, that is all,” Petronius dismissed. “Rome has suffered enough under his wing.”
“And we shall save our motherland,” Gaius finished. “But we must arm ourselves with alliances and unite the forces under our cause. In the meantime, there may be a chance that Mania may take control of our Caesar before any other weapon can.”
As he reached the iron-gates of Gaius’s estate, he snorted. “With all due respect, Senator. If you are waiting for Commodus to lose himself in madness, then it is now that we must strike.”
Petronius continued, “He has no one left, Gaius. Even his own family had begun to fear him - his sister, his nephew…and possibly anyone else who happened to know Commodus as a child. If we killed him now, there would be no one too mourn for him, or defend him.”
“Humor me, then. How would you, a mere general who lives off the Emperor’s bread and salt, kill him?” Gaius smirked condescendingly.
“Bribe the servants to poison him.”
“Suppose the servants decide to tell the emperor,” Gaius countered. “You would be caught, and they would be rewarded.”
“Then we bribe the gladiators to attack Commodus.”
“He pays their entertainers well enough. Why should they complain or succumb to the influence of an outsider?”
With every counter-remark given by the old man, Petronius felt his temper dissipate bit by bit. Who was Gaius to lecture about the importance of saving Rome from a dictator when he himself, let alone his friends, could not bring themselves to take action? Even after the loss of their positions within politics, all the men were talking about the night before was the beauty of Gaius’s seemingly splendid mistresses. Certainly the wine may have loosened their usually-sharp tongues, but it was surprising, nay unacceptable, to see the state of Rome’s greatest minds.
Could those men not see that by lying low, they were putting the lives of Roman citizens at risk? That by refusing to rise to their call of duty, that they were only clipping the wings of the eagle that symbolized Rome and its greatness? It would only be a matter of time before the emperor, in a bout of madness, paranoia, and pure malice, would sever the talons of this eagle and leave it as powerless as a common fowl.
The general’s nostrils flared while the veins in his forearms throbbed furiously. “I do not care for your shrewd statements, Senator. I do not wish to contemplate upon your retorts, nor do I wish to indulge your appetite for wordplay. As I have told you, I am a general - I shall fight with my hands and not with my tongue. My hands are bound to serve Rome, and all it stands for.”
“Nevertheless,” he hastily added. “Since I have shared your bread and wine, as well as taken refuge in your home during the night, I shall revere you as any proper guest ought to. Fare thee well, Senator. I hope that you and I shall meet again.”
“Fare thee well, General.” Gaius watched as the young man vanished into the hustle and bustle of the public square. He certainly had a problem with the much-too-transparent ideologies that military men had, but in order for Commodus to receive his duly-deserved demise, the Senators needed the favor of the military. Perhaps he ought to the be the one to vouch for diplomacy in the midst of this clash of ideals.
The city was quiet compared to most days, even for a mid-morning. Possibly due to the games taking place today, the plebeians seemed to be missing from the streets. However, peddlers were still out selling their goods - a man clamored for people to buy his new stock of clams and oysters, freshly caught from the Mediterranean, while another advertised fine silks imported from China. Various hues in various designs, he said. A dark red one with a golden border caught Petronius’s eye, immediately remembering his sister’s favorite color.
Perhaps he could buy a bolt of the silk for her, possibly as an attempt to apologize for being away all night. Ever since his brother-in-law had passed away from the wars against Germania, he had sworn to guard his sister and her two sons with his life. Keeping such a vow felt almost effortless under the reign of Marcus Aurelius, but under his son, it was the contrary. She wept in Petronius’s arms the night that Senator Gracchus died, saying that she was glad that her husband received an honorable death instead of a false treason accusation. At that moment, he shushed her for fear that the other Praetorian guards would hear her, reporting them both to the emperor. However, if he could turn back time, he’d tell her not to worry, for the emperor would not live long enough to turn Rome into ruins. And with a warm hug, he would seal his promise to her.
Boots clicking, Emperor Commodus paced the empty throne room with a strangely serene look on his face. He’d just come from the games, which never failed to amuse him. For those moments in the Colosseum, he felt as powerful as the gods themselves, taking life as needed, while watching lesser beings fight to survive. Sweat beaded his forehead while he walked, and he almost wanted to remove his laurel crown off due to the heat. Nevertheless, an emperor had to look his best at all times.
From an outsider’s standpoint, it seemed that Emperor Commodus took the Senators’ tongues along with their power. Silence was all those dry old men had to give him today as well. He needed to know what they could possibly be thinking of, nay, he needed to know about their plan to end his reign before they could strike. It was time for an old loyalist to join minds with him again.
“Falco, I’ve been expecting you.” The former senator entered cautiously, his leather sandals echoing against the smooth floor of the palace halls. He bowed before the emperor and stood upright. From the events of last night, it was with much skepticism that any of the senators thought that they could ever receive the emperor’s good graces. Perhaps his former loyalty has now manifested into a blessing. “How may I be of service to you, Caesar?”
Commodus gestured for him to be seated. “I take it that you, along with your colleagues, have heard my decision regarding the new…alterations in the governance of Rome. It must certainly displease you and your colleagues, does it not?”
Without flinching, Falco kept his wits near despite the presence of the temperamental Emperor. “Caesar, I cannot speak for those men. With all due respect, they are no longer my colleagues. All I know is that you are my Emperor, and that every decision you take must have been formed with necessary contemplation." Falco knew he was telling lies. To the Senate, Commodus never gave the impression of a man of thought, let alone the impression of a man.
And as for the Emperor, he knew better than to take the former Senator’s words by face value. Nevertheless, he did need an ally and it was only Falco who gave him advice when the rest of the Senate sided with Maximus.
“Thank you, Falco. Out of those men, it seems that you are the only one who genuinely cares for my welfare. Your priorities lie for the Empire, and for none else. That is why I wish to make you my main advisor. With no Empress and no Senate, I need a good man like you by my side…to rule, and to care for the people.”
Pretending to be stunned, brimming with gratitude, Falco rose from his seat. “Highness, your offer is…one of high value.”
“Join me, Falco,” Commodus extended his hand, which was accepted by the former Senator. “Join me, and we shall usher in a new age of Rome.”
The Sun was ruthless to the troops of Rome today - many a foot soldier grunted with displeasure as they sparred with each other under the sweltering heat. General Petronius and Centurion Philomenus greeted each other with a familiar look, having seen each other at Gaius’s meeting last night.
“I sense tension in your fingers,” the general pointed towards his peer’s hand.
Philomenus chuckled as he glanced at his knuckles circling the hilt of his sword. “I…I thought about my sister. How she must be waiting for me, and how the heat is making her uncomfortable.”
“I empathize - I have a sister as well. Her husband was a legionnaire - do you remember Felix Cassius? No…well, the army is quite massive.”
The centurion picked up his weapon, twirling it absentmindedly. “Forgive me for not knowing him. I think it would take one eons to count every single life lost during the late emperor’s battles in Germania.”
Petronius gritted his teeth. “I wish the emperor’s son lost his life in Germania instead of the emperor.” Almost immediately, Philomenus tackled him to the ground with a sandy hand over his mouth.
“You monster!” Petronius gasped as he tried to catch his breath. “What in the name of Jupiter was that for?!”
“It was for daring to speak against the Emperor. We both know that punishment would be doled out on both of us - on you for your impudent tongue, and on me for listening to your talk of treason.”
“Men like you make me sick,” the general spat. “Was it not you who quoted the great Marcus Aurelius himself, having memorized his extensive writings? Do you not know that by punishing those who speak out against Commodus, you only encourage his tyrannical, anti-republic ways?!”
“Perhaps, but I do know when to keep my tongue in my cheek,” Philomenus retorted. “Did you not see what happened to the Spaniard who dared to challenge the emperor?”
“The Spaniard was once a general, Philomenus. He used to be one of us. If he could not complete his revenge, it would be our responsibility to finish it for him.”
Shaking his head, he took the general behind a wall while pretending to be very thirsty. “I do believe in the ways of the Republic, and that Rome’s golden age ended when the republic was seized by a pompous man pretending to be a dictator.”
“Commodus is not Julius Caesar, Philomenus - he has no military prowess of his own, aside from formidable swordplay.”
“Please, just know that he will not last long. The grain will run out, and the public who loved him so much will turn their backs on him. But while he’s in power, let him be happy.”
“You sound just like those blasted Senators,” Petronius grunted. “Those old men can afford to live off their ancestral wealth for their remaining years, but you and I are not like them!”
Philomenus yelled back, suddenly triggered by the mention of familial affluence. “I know that! My parents perished when I was thirteen, leaving my sister and I penniless with a pair of newborn twins.”
“I have worked a long way to come where I am,” he continued to fume. “I know what I have read speaks of a Republic, but what can I do?! What can we do, given our state?”
“Then join me,” Petronius coerced the other man. “Help me think of a way to kill Commodus, and together we can bring back the Republic Rome was always meant to be.”
“Here is what we’ll do- we will ambush him from the exit gates of the Colosseum. And when he enters without bodyguards, we will make our presence known and attack him,” Philomenus whispered. “I will keep our weapons under my tunic so as not to arouse suspicion.”
“Anger has certainly brought your intelligence into light. I admire your plan, but what will I do?” Petronius asked with a raised eyebrow.
The centurion smirked, “Stay alive, and keep your goddamn mouth shut for once.”
“Commodus must die….for Maximus and for the Senate.”
“No, he must die for Rome.”
jesus take the wheel
Joe | Yusuf Al-Kaysani/Nicky | Nicolo di Genova, 1.3k, no archive warnings apply, read on ao3
“Maybe I’d be a better driver in America,” Nicky muses. “Everything is opposite, over there. Switching things up might help.”
“I don’t think we need to test that hypothesis out,” Joe says. “Nothing is better in America.”
Or: A domestic one-shot in which I project my terrible driving skills onto Nicky.
The thing is, Nicky is fine driving when it's life or death. (Well, not death, he supposes. But there’s certain phrases you can’t drop from your vocabulary, no matter the language or century, and hyperbole has its place in every dialect.)
The point is, he’s great behind the wheel of a car when careening and explosions are involved. When the goal is to get away as fast as possible with a minimal amount of limb regeneration, consequences be damned.
But anything more mundane? Well. There’s a reason Joe is the designated driver. Nicky tends to drive like an army is on his heels, no matter the circumstances.
“I miss horses,” Nicky grumbles. “You never had to care about stop lights when there were horses.”
“Horses didn’t have air conditioning,” Joe points out, drumming his fingers aimlessly on the steering wheel. “And they smelled a hell of a lot worse.”
Nicky can’t exactly argue with that—the twenty-first century may have its horrors, but the torrent of cool air pouring from the car vents is certainly not one of them. He props his feet on the dashboard, eyeing the red light ahead. “There’s no one here, anyway, can’t you just go?” The tiny eastern European town they’ve settled in for the time being–just until the dust settles, Andy claims–is small enough that even on a weekday, the main intersection at the center of town remains empty.
“That, my darling Niccolò, is exactly why you have not been entrusted with the leadership on this most delicate mission,” Joe replies.
“Yusuf,” Nicky sighs. “I think I could manage a grocery run.”
“Nicky,” Joe sighs back. “Your lack of respect for the great traffic laws of Croatia says otherwise. I will compromise Andy’s baklava for no one. Else we might find ourselves testing the limit of our immortality rather sooner than we expected.”
“What about Malta?” Nicky retorts. “I was a superb driver in Malta.”
“You were superb in many ways in Malta, my love,” Joe concedes, a smile tugging at his lips. Nicky knows exactly what Joe’s remembering when he side-eyes him, gaze catching on his lips. “But as the car still ended up a flaming wreck, I’m not taking that as proof of your everyday driving skills.”
“Those were unique circumstances,” Nicky protests.
“And these are not.” Joe eyes the stoplight, which remains stubbornly red.
“Maybe I’d be a better driver in America,” Nicky muses. “Everything is opposite, over there. Switching things up might help.”
“I don’t think we need to test that hypothesis out,” Joe says. “Nothing is better in America.”
Technically, Nicky can drive. He has the license to prove it—several dozen, actually, though since the names and birthdates are far from accurate, they don’t exactly prove much. He’s just not…particularly up to date. They all have blind spots in this modern world–Andy’s attitude towards smartphones is a reluctant reliance above some mixture of confusion and paranoia and Joe occasionally finds himself less than clear on the ever-shifting borders of countries (when, exactly, did the Soviet Union stop regularly appearing on the news?). Nicky’s blindspot just happens to involve four-way intersections and general bemusement at yield signs.
“It’s barely been a century,” Nicky protests. “Give a man some adjustment time.”
Stoplights are not really the problem, if he’s being honest. It’s more the sudden vehicular evolution that really threw him–how a few automobiles cruising at thirty kilometers an hour exploded into a world-wide industry of speed that always catches him off guard when he looks away for a few years. Now they talk? And drive themselves? It almost seems a waste to stay on top of such an ever-evolving invention. By the time he’d gotten comfortable with a stick shift, they were practically obsolete.
The light finally flickers green and Joe eases the car into acceleration with a whiff of exhaust and a rumble of tires against concrete.
The thing about cars, Nicky supposes, is that they truly remind him of how far he’s come. There’s always a moment—a pure, unavoidable split second—when his foot hits the accelerator and he realizes just how unrecognizable this world would be to the man he once was. This great hulking beast of metal and glass at his command, roaring through smooth stone streets with a belly full of gas and sparks.
Never in his wildest dreams could he have dreamt such a thing. Not in his days as a priest with his rosary smooth beneath his fingers, not once he’d traded worn beads for a knight’s sword, heavy with purpose and intended glory. Not even once he’d seen his flesh improbably knit itself together, once he’d met the eyes of a man once placed as his enemy and felt a spark that was anything but animosity. That mankind could forge metal and distill substances from the depths of the earth into something he could tame with a single press of his foot, with the turn of a key, is still remarkable to him.
He likes to remind himself, still, of the everyday miracle of living so long. There’s always heartache, always the wounds that fade from flesh but never soul, but there is also this moment here in a creation his civilization never lived to see, alongside a man he would have died hating if not for a turn of fate.
“Penny for your thoughts?” Joe asks as they slow to another stop. He’s always testing out new idioms, letting his tongue trip across the fresh inventions of language, as fleeting as sugar between the teeth.
Nicky shakes his head. “I don’t like that one as much. Are you supposed to be paying me to speak my mind? And pennies are so transient, I’m sure they’ll be gone in a few decades and the whole phrase rendered useless.”
“Better make use of it while it lasts,” Joe says. He reaches out for Nicky’s hand without even looking, easy as breath, and smoothes a thumb across the back of Nicky’s hand.
Nicky traces his own finger across his husband’s hands, the contours almost as familiar as his own. They wear rings for now, having deemed this place and time safe enough to indulge. They’ve been married almost more times than Nicky can count—in Arabic, in Italian, in English, in Dutch, in silence, in a dozen more languages than he can count, alone beneath the sky or in grand churches or mosques—yet they’ve always had to be cautious about it. Perhaps the world is finally beginning to catch up, in fits and starts, to what they and so many others have always known to be true in their hearts, even if only witnessed by the shadows.
“We should get married again,” he says, suddenly. “It’s been long enough since the last time.”
Joe tilts his head, the evening light pouring through the windshield sparking gold from his brown eyes. “You think? Perhaps we should spice things up and get a divorce for once.”
Nicky scoffs. “That involves more paperwork than either of us is willing to cough up. You’re not getting rid of me that easily.”
Joe laughs. “Fair. Another marriage, then.”
“Yes.” Nicky laces fingers tight with Joe’s, feels how perfectly they weave together as if some long-ago creator molded them to fit. “Now that Nile’s here. It’d be nice, I think, to celebrate with someone new.”
The unsaid between them: that this will be the first wedding in centuries without Booker, where he can’t get wine drunk and quote rambling sections from classic literature on love and commitment and they’ll all pretend his tipsiness isn’t to hide an edge of bitter jealousy. That Andy may not live to see the next time they exchange vows.
But at least they have Andy for now, and Nile, and each other.
“It would be nice.” Joe’s free hand is still splayed on the steering wheel and for a moment, Nicky is possessed by the urge to take it, to take all of him, and hold him tight, Croatian traffic safety laws be damned. Nicky at least knows enough to check in the mirrors that the road behind him is clear before he leans in and reminds Joe that there’s one language their mouths will always be fluent in, no matter the century.
You and Michael playing PC games in the Sanctuary. Everything was okay until Michael decides to play the infamous "Cat Mario". That fucking fan made game that you can even past the first level. His rage level just explode with this game. I took inspiration from that youtuber named "Rooster Teeth".
listen y’all this is pure crack, but it was super fun to write. thanks so much for such a hilarious idea!
When Michael finally brought you to the Sanctuary, it was everything you dreamt it would be. Your new home felt like it existed on an entirely different plane of reality; a little slice of what you imagined heaven would be like, yet it was so much more. It was better than heaven, all because Michael had created it, and he created it just for you. It certainly wasn’t a complete picture of what yours and Michael’s new world would be, but for now, it was everything you could ever need to enjoy your victories and plan for the future.
The Sanctuary itself was like an oasis in the desert, overflowing with lavish gardens, ornate palaces, and artful sculptures that were seemingly derived from all the rococo masterpieces you could recall from the previous Earth. The sun always shone brightly, and it only ever thunderstormed when you were tucked safely inside; a blanket wrapped securely around your shoulders and a book in your hands.
Best of all, Michael seemed relaxed, more relaxed than you ever remembered. The scowl he had adopted back in the Outpost had melted away, his mildly cherubic face becoming one of ease, the soft look in his eyes making your heart flutter. He still maintained his elegance– after all, he is the son of Satan and heir to Earth’s throne –but now, Michael was free to breathe a little. As the days went by, he became the playful boy you first fell in love with, indulging you in movie marathons, ruthless game nights, and impromptu dances in the kitchen.
As elegant as your Sanctuary was, it wasn’t long before you and your beloved ventured back into some of the more nostalgic creature comforts of your previous lives. You’re unsure how, but Michael managed to save the remnants of whatever the human race had left of the internet before the nuclear fallout.
On a particularly lazy day, you find yourself in Michael’s study, diving deep into the rabbit hole of PC games from your childhood. You’re halfway through Resident Evil 2, when Michael strolls in, the sound of him humming softly under his breath drawing your attention away from the computer screen. His hair is pulled back into a loose bun, and a pair of beige linen pants hand loosely on his hips. You smile to yourself as an image of Michael in crimson velvet flashes in your mind, and you feel proud of how much he’s let himself grow.
Sure, he’s still the antichrist, but now the darkness inside of him doesn’t have to fight for space anymore. There’s no good half or bad half, human or nonhuman– there’s just Michael. Your Michael.
“What are you up to, my love?”
You open the game menu, pausing your progress for a moment. “Oh nothing, just rotting my brain with the old Resident Evil games. You remember these? God they used to scare the shit out of me.”
“Language, darling,” he teases, poking fun at your casual mention of the Lord Almighty. “Mind if I join you?”
“I thought you’d never ask!” you giggle. “Now pull up a chair so I can kick your ass, pretty boy.”
Michael drags one of the plush lounge chairs over to the desk, all the while chuckling to himself. “Someone’s feeling feisty, today. Why don’t we find something we both can play? I wouldn’t want to inhibit my baby’s progress in her crusade against the undead.”
You playfully shove Michael as he flops down beside you, the chair squeaking against the wooden floor as he stumbles into it. “Hey, you don’t have to make up excuses, I’d be intimidated by my zombie-killing prowess, too.”
Michael just rolls his eyes, a coy smile tugging at his perfect lips. “Oh yeah, that’s definitely it. Now hurry up and pick something before I change my mind.”
You save your progress on Resident Evil 2 and close its window, promptly opening your folder of games you filed away for later. You had all the classics: the rest of the Resident Evil series, Silent Hill, Doom, Super Mario Brothers, Super Mario World, and a few indie games you had yet to try.
“What about this one?” Michael asks, pointing to a game labeled Cat Mario.
The game looks innocent enough. Based on appearance alone, it seems to be the exact format of a regular Mario game but just a little more homemade. Rather than having the adorable Italian plumber you know and love being the game’s main protagonist, a little white cat stands in his place. The instructions are in Japanese, but everything about it is virtually the same game– how different could it be?
“Sure! I mean, I haven’t played it yet, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t love a good Mario rendition.”
“Game on,” Michael grins, “Why don’t you go first?”
You happily oblige, and select the only available stage on the colorful screen. It may not be a true Mario game, but the delightful pastel blue sky and white little clouds make you feel right at home.
The first thing you notice as you move the little white cat is how much slower everything is. No problem, you think. Maybe it’s just a little hiccup in the developer’s design. It is an indie game, after all, so you can’t expect it to be perfect. It isn’t until you reach the first green pipe that you realize something is terribly off about the whole thing.
Rather than your adorable little cat character hopping inside and materializing through another pipe, the cat sinks within in and the pipe flies off the top of the screen, effectively wasting your first life.
“Whoa, what the fuck?” you look over at Michael, but his confused expression is just a mirror of your own.
“Yeah what the fuck is right,” he murmurs, “Are you sure you’re doing it right?”
You scoff indignantly, “What do you mean, am I sure?”
“Here,” he smiles confidently, “Let me give it a shot.”
Pushing yourself away from the desk, you allow the office chair to roll you out of Michael’s way, wondering what he could possibly do that would be any different from what you were trying.
Annoyingly enough, Michael gets farther than you did on your first attempt, quickly correcting every mistake he had observed you making.
“You know, the controls may be slow, but once you get the hang of it–” Michael starts, but is immediately cut off by the sight of a floating platform falling from the powder blue sky and onto the little white cat.
“Are you fucking kidding me?!” Michael growls, “That’s never happened in a Mario game before, has it?”
Even though you’re just as perplexed as Michael, you can’t help but be amused by just how much he hates losing. “I don’t know, boy wonder. Has a green pipe ever flown off-screen in a Mario game before?”
Michael just turns his attention back to the screen, his teeth clenched tightly in frustration. “Whatever, I’m trying it again.”
This time around, Michael tries to make the cat jump and punch a question block, only for it to soar upwards and out of his reach.
“Please tell me you’re seeing this shit, and I’m not going crazy.” Michael whines.
“Oh you’re going crazy, alright,” you smirk, trying your best to bury the laugh that’s starting to bubble in your throat.
Michael continues on a little further, dodging green pipes and avoiding slow-moving enemies like the plague. You’re just about to tell him that he might be out of the woods when suddenly, the little white cat jumps up to hit a series of hidden blocks, only to be immediately boxed in by every single one of them.
You don’t have to look at him directly to know that his face is bright red with aggravation. In all the years you’d been with Michael, you’ve spent enough time with him to know that it’s taking him everything within his power not to smash the PC to bits with the wave of his fingers.
“This isn’t happening, this isn’t fucking happening.” Michael huffs, his eyes darting between the pastel-colored screen and your face, trying to gauge your reaction. “Listen, I’ve seen a lot of evil in this world– hell, I’ve done a lot of evil –but this is something else.”
You let out a hearty laugh and plant a firm kiss on his anger-flushed cheek. “Well, if it makes you feel any better, I’m sure that whatever internet troll invented this horrible thing probably perished in the blast.”
“Kicking and screaming?” Michael inquires, a hint of humor returning to his velvety voice.
“Kicking and screaming,” you confirm, “Although, I can’t help but wonder what that kind of evil genius could have done for the new world…”
Michael looks at an empty corner of the room thoughtfully, his brilliant eyes sparkling. “Well, we could always do a good old fashioned blood ritual later tonight…maybe bring the bastard back. You know, for old time’s sake.”
You grin, feeling an overwhelming sense of affection for your competitive husband. He may be the son of the Devil, but he had all the competitive fire of a Greek God, scorned and beautiful all at the same time.
“It’s a date.”
Soooo @rock-n-roll-fantasy wanted me to write an essay on my self-indulgent theory that Muse’s ‘Simulation Theory’ and Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’ are set in the same universe, and my brain rather predictably used this as an opportunity to develop a novel-length crossover fic instead. I’m starting to doubt that the full idea will ever get written purely because life has a habit of getting in the way, but here’s a bit of an overlong teaser in place of your essay! 😉🥰
The trek from Room 521 to the ballroom is a long, monotonous one. Not that that particularly matters; even if Mark didn’t know every corridor like the back of his hand, he no doubt would have been guided to his destination regardless, simply by following the growing ruckus of banal chatter overlying soft musical notes. His own band won’t be the ones playing tonight – thank Christ seeing as he barely has the energy to hold a mic for two hours let alone sing into it – but the prospect of spending the evening alone in his room had hardly been tempting. He could have arranged to meet one of the lads for a drink, he supposes, but he hadn’t wanted to impose. They all have lives beyond the hotel after all, whereas he remains tied to its walls like an obedient dog on a leash.
High-ceilinged corridors eventually lure him towards a set of heavy oak doors, the only veil remaining between him and a horde of guests who by now are likely enjoying their third glass of champagne. Muffled conversations become crystal clear for a moment as one guest stumbles onto the corridor looking considerably worse for wear, but the noise is quickly silenced by an exaggerated slam. The guest sways on his feet for a moment, narrowed eyes struggling to maintain focus on Mark’s face, before he huffs and takes the first step of what promises to be an arduous journey back to his room. No doubt he’ll have collapsed in a pool of his own vomit before he’s even halfway there, adding one more job to the cleaners’ already overflowing pile in the process. Mark sighs, already regretting his decision to be sociable, and forces himself over the threshold before he can change his mind.
The ballroom does ignite a certain pride within his chest, he must admit. The spacious hall - resting beneath a curved ceiling kept afloat by granite columns - is a stark contrast to the narrow claustrophobic corridors leading up to it, and the size is adequate enough that the space never feels too crowded. Waiters flit back and forth between packed circular tables on the fringes, offering blessed champagne or scotch from a well-stocked bar, and an elevated platform at the far-end of the hall proudly showcases the evening’s entertainment.
It would appear the choice of dance tonight is a simple waltz. Guests dressed to the nines in elegant frocks and sharp tuxedos glide effortlessly along the polished dancefloor; guided by lilting piano notes as they sway beneath the soft light of a glittering chandelier. As usual, Mark feels no particular inclination to join them. On occasion, he himself will be the one sat by the piano, enticing his guests to dance for him whenever the evening feels a little too stagnant, but it would appear that his influence is not needed tonight. Besides, the only thing enticing him for the moment is the bar.
Despite having to make his way through the masses in order to reach his destination, luck must be on his side for no-one takes the opportunity to disturb him. He must have timed his trip well enough that the drinks are already taking hold, to the point where the hotel owner himself has become an unnoteworthy presence. His short walk to the bar goes entirely without a hitch, so much so that it probably shouldn’t surprise him when he arrives to find that his luck has run dry.
There’s someone sitting in his usual spot. Logically he knows this isn’t an issue; there are plenty of free stools lined up against the horseshoe-shaped counter, but the sight gives him pause nonetheless. For as long as he can remember, that centerfold seat has been his and his alone, and the sight of someone new sitting there has unease coiling in his gut for reasons he cannot explain. If that were the strangest thing about this situation then he could have moved on and settled himself elsewhere without another thought, but what truly makes him gape is the appearance of the man who has seen fit to take his place.
In stark contrast to the stylish formalwear adorning the vast majority of guests, this man seems to have made it his mission to break every rule of fashion there is. The loud red jeans and shiny trainers would no doubt have been bad enough on their own, but in comparison to the gaudy nylon jacket and the lit neon sunglasses which remain fused to his face despite being indoors, the lower half of his body looks positively tame. Intricate circuitry is affixed to the front of the jacket, with wires snaking their way into a large pocket which no doubt houses a switch designed to make the jacket as loud as the sunglasses. Mark can’t help but wonder how this man hasn’t attracted any unwanted attention and has instead been left to cradle his glass of bourbon in relative peace. Perhaps this is the current fashion trend on Earth and someone has simply forgotten to give Mark that particular memo.
Shaking his head once and remembering his mother sternly telling him that staring is rude, Mark clears his throat and gestures to the free stool by his side when a pair of concealed eyes turn in his direction.
“Mind if I take this seat?” he asks, well aware that he of all people shouldn’t need to ask permission.
A knowing smile graces the man’s thin face and he nods graciously, removing his glasses to reveal surprisingly gentle blue eyes. He appears more normal up close than Mark anticipated, barring a pair of impressively sharp cheekbones and a hairstyle so haphazard he doubts an intense combing session would tame it.
“Be my guest,” the man offers in an accent which turns out to be English, to Mark’s not unpleasant surprise. Besides the lads, he can’t remember the last time he encountered someone from home. “Though I imagine that’s usually your line.”
A surprised laugh escapes Mark at the lame joke, causing the stranger to grin proudly before taking another generous sip of bourbon. Mark considers calling the waiter over – the impressive display of booze resting before him is enough to make his mouth water – but the man in question appears to be preoccupied with an uptight elderly couple nearby, and besides, his curiosity is already threatening to consume him. The booze can wait.
“Love what you’ve done with the place,” the man interjects before Mark can ask the question weighing on his mind. The words escape like a bullet, so rapidly that the compliment could easily be dismissed as flippant, but the stranger’s smile seems sincere enough. “You’ve got one hell of a mind, Turner.”
There’s a gravity to his tone that Mark can’t quite comprehend, but he doesn’t dwell on it.
“How did you get here?” Mark asks, aiming for a conversational tone only to flinch when the words emerge as confrontational instead. In an attempt to save face, he adds, “I don’t remember greeting you at the station, is all.”
‘I would have remembered if I had’ goes unsaid, though the implication doesn’t appear to be lost on his new companion.
“Interdimensional portal,” he replies without missing a beat, bringing his glass to his lips once more as he gazes at Mark with mischief in his eyes and a challenge in his smirk.
The ensuing silence is broken almost immediately as Mark bursts out laughing again; an action which appears to serve as an invitation for the other man to join him. The high-pitched giggle is unexpected, but the sound of it is enough to melt some of Mark’s lingering unease.
“I doubt technology’s reached that stage yet,” Mark teases once he’s recovered his composure. “Not unless they’re keeping secrets from me back home.”
“I wouldn’t sound so sure if I were you,” the man retaliates, that same challenge resting on his lips and a single brow quirked upwards with mocking intent. “How long has it been since you visited Earth?”
The lightness in Mark’s chest vanishes for a moment and his brows knit together as he ponders the question. Strange. Now that he thinks about it, he honestly can’t recall how long it’s been.
When it becomes clear that no answer is forthcoming, his companion simply shrugs before facing ahead once more, demolishing the rest of his drink with a single gulp. It’s impossible to tell how much he’s had already. His current glass barely seems to have touched him, unless his strange approach to conversation is merely the product of drunken ramblings. He makes no move to relinquish his seat however, nor does he signal to the now-free waiter for a refill, and Mark finds himself facing straight ahead as he contemplates the choice lying before him.
On the one hand, this man is clearly strange. The unease which continues to coil in his gut is proof enough of that, and Mark imagines that walking away now would spare him a world a confusion. His eyelids feel heavy enough as it is without his mind being weighed down as well.
On the other hand, he honestly can’t remember the last time he had a conversation that was so... spontaneous. He’s grown accustomed to forced chats about hotel business and band rehearsals, to the point where he can’t remember the last time anyone made him laugh in pleasant surprise. Until tonight that is.
And honestly, what is his alternative? Mingling with the guests and sweeping up compliments about the taqueria, or the pool, or the perfect view of Earth offered by the casino’s transparent ceiling? Having to listen to rich businessmen divulge their recent purchases of eye-wateringly expensive yachts or starships, while wives half their age hang onto their arm and pretend to look interested?
It isn’t really a contest in the end.
Decision made, Mark gestures to the waiter, who approaches with what he suspects is a put-on smile. To the man’s credit, said smile doesn’t falter even when he casts a sideways glance towards his boss’s unconventional choice of companion.
“Sixteen-year-old Lagavulin please, Andrew,” Mark orders with an easy smile of his own. “And one for my friend here as well.”
Andrew hesitates for only a moment before preparing the drinks with practiced ease, applying a crystallised ball of ice to Mark’s glass once both whiskies are poured. At his side, the mysterious stranger eyes Mark with what appears to be surprise at this unprompted display of generosity, but the smile returns soon enough as he takes his drink in hand and thanks Andrew with all the grace of a perfect gent.
“You trying to get me drunk, Turner?” he teases, though if he’s opposed to the idea he doesn’t show it.
“Just hoping for some interesting conversation,” Mark responds with a wry smirk of his own. “Scotch usually helps with that, I’ve found.”
Without further ado, he takes a sip and closes his eyes in satisfaction as the golden liquid instantly works its magic. A pleasant burn trails down his throat until warmth settles in his belly, and any lingering stress drifts away like smoke on a breeze.
“You can call me Mark by the way,” he says, raising his glass as an invitation. “It’s about time we introduced ourselves, don’t you think?”
A flicker of unidentifiable emotion crosses over his companion’s face, just for a second, before he returns Mark’s easy smile and brings their glasses together with a soft clink.
“Matthew,” he says, which strikes Mark as such an ordinary name for one committed to looking so extraordinary. “But you can call me Matt. Everyone else does.”
Mark nods in acknowledgement before returning to his drink, and they wile away the following minutes in companiable silence. The band appear to have moved on from classical waltzes and are now playing a smooth jazz number, the seductive groove of the double-bass soothing Mark into closing his eyes and forgetting the hundreds of guests gathered nearby. The chatter has died down slightly since his arrival, but the odd clink of a glass or drunken laugh is enough to assure him that he’s not entirely alone. Not as alone as he would have been had he remained in his room with only the hotel blueprints and a virtual reality mask for company.
In a few more moments he may even have found himself forgetting Matt’s presence, but it isn’t long before his reverie is broken by a now-familiar voice.
“What do you know of ‘Simulation Theory’?” Matt asks flippantly, as though it’s the most ordinary question in the world. The fact that Mark can only stare dumbly for several seconds is likely a sign that his scotch is already beginning to take hold, but he eventually forces himself to give a resigned shrug.
“Not much,” he admits. The name doesn’t sound familiar in the slightest, though he’ll admit that he isn’t known for scouring scientific journals. “I suspect that’s about to change though.”
That statement seems to be invitation enough for Matt, who downs the rest of his drink without so much as a flinch before launching into what appears to be a well-practiced spiel.
Mark can only try to keep up between finishing one drink and ordering another, as Matt starts explaining the concept of computers advancing to the point where they can simulate the laws of physics, so much so that the future of interplanetary travel may end up being achieved via the means of simulated reality - unlimited by the demands of the fragile human body - rather than old-fashioned means such as starships or satellites as ancient sci-fi shows had predicted. The whole lecture is delivered in what must be Matt’s typical rapid-fire delivery; Mark would likely have been left with little breathing room even if he had been entirely sober, which he is becoming less and less so as the evening wears on. With his keen enthusiasm and eccentric hand movements, Mark reckons Matt would have made an excellent physics professor in another life if the concepts escaping his mind weren’t so utterly ridiculous.
“Which of course poses the question,” Matt concludes eventually, pausing to stop for breath. A pleasant buzz is coursing through Mark’s veins by this point, and he rests his head on one hand as he studies Matt with an amused smile. “If we conclude that it is feasibly possible for technology to exist which is capable of simulating reality so convincingly, who is to say that it hasn’t already happened? What if we’re all just cogs in a machine, believing our decisions are our own and that everything around us is real, when in actuality we’re being watched and studied and controlled? Like ants under a microscope?”
“Hmm,” Mark ponders the question as best he can, taking another sip despite knowing it won’t help. It strikes him that the whisky has already rendered him soft and sleepy, whereas Matt doesn’t appear to have been affected at all despite the fact that he’s clearly had more. As quick as his delivery is, Mark can’t even recall hearing a slur. “Like characters in a videogame or summat?”
“Something like that I suppose,” Matt concurs, though there’s a tension in his skinny frame that implies Mark has barely scratched the surface. “What do you reckon would happen if a videogame character realised they were trapped in a videogame? That their entire lives were a fiction and that someone else was in control?”
“I imagine they’d spiral into existential dread,” Mark concludes with a dismissive shrug, polishing off what must be his third glass and placing it face-down on the countertop. It would probably be best if he stops now, seeing as Matt appears to be in a philosophical mood. “Good thing they can’t think or feel anything then, isn’t it? They just do as they’re told.”
An amused smirk graces Matt’s face and there’s a glint in those blue eyes that implies he wants to add something, but he keeps his mouth firmly shut. For now at least. Mark uses this window of silence to wipe the exhaustion from his eyes before casting a glance around the ballroom. It’s still relatively busy. The band have given no indication that they’re approaching the end of their set, and so long as the drinks keep flowing, there will always be ample opportunity for dancing and conversation. He loses himself for a moment as he observes the movements of the guests gracing the dancefloor; everyone from beautiful newlyweds to elderly couples celebrating their golden anniversaries locked in intimate embraces, with eyes only for each other. Matt’s musings weave their way through his mind and he finds himself searching for flaws in the system; a hint that what he’s seeing isn’t all it appears to be. He scans the faces of the guests to see if he can find any duplication; eavesdrops on nearby conversations in search of generic, repetitive sentences. He feels the warm cotton of his suit and the cool condensation on his glass and the sticky sweat on the palm of his hand, only to conclude that it all must surely be real. He knows all-too-well what it’s like to wander lucidly through a dream, and this isn’t one.
Still, the possibility is fascinating. Ludicrous, but fascinating.
“Let’s say you’re right,” he starts, taking a moment to select his next words carefully. He doesn’t usually feel the need to be so cautious in conversation, but Matt’s ability to spout ridiculous theories with the utmost confidence has left him feeling like he’s playing catch-up. “And let’s say that we’re the ones trapped in this game, or simulation, or whatever you want to call it.”
Matt turns to him as though shocked that Mark’s actually giving his ramblings any consideration, and he can’t help but wonder how many times he’s been shot down in the past. He pauses, half-expecting an interruption, but Matt’s only response is a smile followed by an encouraging nod.
“What if there’s a reason behind the fiction?” he proposes, more confidently now. “What if we’ve been trapped in a game because reality is terrible.”
“And therein lies our conundrum!” Matt says, eyes lighting up with childlike glee as he leans back and slams his hand on the counter. Tending to a guest a few seats away, Andrew side-eyes him warily, perhaps wondering if he’ll be forced to escort another drunk from the premises soon, but Mark’s total lack of concern seems to reassure him. “Is it better to exist within a terrible reality or a beautiful lie?”
The hypothetical weight of the question stumps Mark for a moment. Any thoughts which had previously been running through his mind fragment like shattered glass, leaving only a warm fuzz in their place. He lets himself imagine what it would be like to have an all-powerful, all-seeing creature manipulate his thoughts - moulding them like clay - and despite the room’s pleasant warmth, he finds himself shivering. It’s not that he believes Matt’s theories – far from it – but pondering the question elicits the same uncertainty planted by movies like his beloved Blade Runner; makes him contemplate deep, existential ‘What-ifs’ until sleep eludes him and a shiver creeps up his spine.
When the power of speech finally returns to him, he finds the words spilling forth without having crossed his mind beforehand.
“I think we’re both a little too drunk for philosophical discussions, don’t you agree?” he says blankly, though upon hearing the words even he is left utterly unconvinced. He may already be able to anticipate the crushing headache that morning will bring, but he’s managed to remain somewhat lucid so far. Matt, damn him, doesn’t appear to have been affected by the alcohol at all. Nor does he seem willing to let Mark back down; instead he pointedly says nothing as his lips curl upwards in an unspoken challenge.
Mark sighs, before forcing himself to answer the question with one of his own.
“If the fiction is so convincing that you could go from birth to death without realising it is a fiction, does it really make a difference?”
“A fair point,” Matt concedes with a shrug, though Mark doesn’t miss the way his expression darkens. A twitch in his jaw implies that his words have struck a nerve, only he can’t possibly see why that would be the case. He expects Matt to elaborate further – to quash his argument with a clever retaliation – but he simply turns back towards the wall of booze and signals to Andrew to bring him another glass of scotch. The temptation to tell him that he’ll need to be carried back to his room on a stretcher if he carries on like this is momentarily overwhelming, but the words remain glued to Mark’s tongue like resin. His mouth feels as dry as sandpaper and the flurry of unease which had been temporarily dispelled returns with a burning vengeance. All he can do is watch as Matt gratefully accepts what must be his fifth glass and gulps half of it down his throat without the slightest hint of hesitation.
Something stirs in the back of Mark’s mind. A distant memory perhaps; a vague flicker of recognition which had lain buried until this moment. He can honestly swear he has never laid eyes on Matt before today, but it strikes him that their camaraderie has been a little too easy tonight. Almost as though he should know Matt from his previous life on Earth.
But he doesn’t. He knows that for a fact, and any treacherous doubts suggesting otherwise are swiftly cast aside with an urgency he can’t explain.
It doesn’t take long for Matt to polish off his glass, setting it down on the counter with a finality which suggests it’ll be his last of the night. Just as well, Mark thinks. He can feel the evening beginning to wind down already, and he can feel fatigue settling into his bones.
Before he can offer to foot the bill, his companion finally decides to pipe up again. Any trace of his earlier bravado appears to have abandoned him, leaving him crouched and visibly exhausted, his voice impossibly small.
“If nothing is real – if everything around us truly is a fiction - then it stands to reason that there’s no underlying purpose to our existence. Our lives are there to serve as meaningless entertainment for something lurking in the shadows and nothing more. So everything we do or say, everyone we love...none of it matters in the end. Not really.”
He looks directly at Mark then, his once gentle blue eyes burning with an intensity that makes him want to shrink back like a frightened child. A silly notion really. Of all the words to describe Matt, ‘threatening’ doesn’t immediately come to mind, but the discomfort lingers regardless. Matt must notice, for he averts his eyes to the floor almost immediately and offers a small, apologetic smile as recompense.
“I just don’t think I could live with that,” he concludes with a certainty that has Mark’s chest tightening. “No matter how beautiful the lie is.”
A beat passes. Then another. Mark becomes all-too aware of his heart pounding in his chest, trying to assure him that he’s okay; that he’s solid and real. It occurs to him that he has forgotten how to breathe, and the discomfort in his chest outweighs the soothing burn the scotch had planted there earlier.
Matt doesn’t say anything else. Instead he runs a hand through his wayward hair, before ultimately deciding that fidgeting with his discarded sunglasses would be a better use of his time. Against his better judgement, Mark allows the weight of his words to sink in and momentarily imagines an existence in which all of his actions are pre-determined, his thoughts carefully filtered. Where everyone he loves are simply figments of expertly-written code. Where any responsibilities he may have are ultimately unimportant.
A simpler existence perhaps, but a wholly purposeless one.
“I don’t think I’d want to live like that either,” he admits quietly, so much so that he’s amazed Matt hears him. He must do however, for the words force him to look at Mark again, his expression unreadable besides a hint of sadness in deep blue eyes.
There doesn’t appear to be anything more to say. Words escape him - even the simple courtesies which usually come so naturally - and yet he cannot bring himself to look away. Matt seems to be in the same predicament. For a moment it’s as though they’re both gazing into a supernova, unwilling to look away despite knowing full well that the sight will blind them.
For the first time all evening he finds himself missing his friends. His Matt would have told him to snap out of it by now and Jamie or Nick would have called him a twat for getting so worked up about meaningless theories, and while Mark may have retaliated with a pointed ‘fuck off’, he no doubt would have felt lighter in their presence.
In the end it’s Matt who breaks the spell first. His eyes are drawn from Mark’s face to something lurking in the background, and a palpable shift overcomes him as thin lips are pulled into a grim line. Beneath soft overhead lights, Matt visibly pales and his pupils dilate with what Mark can only presume is fear, and white fists clench so tightly around his glasses that it’s amazing they don’t shatter. Dread claws into Mark’s chest with no explanation, and before curiosity can swallow him whole, he turns his head to follow Matt’s eyeline.
It only takes a moment to locate what has grabbed his friend’s attention. The new arrivals have barely made an effort to blend in after all. Standing out among the throng of increasingly drunk guests, two men linger at the far end of the hall, eyes obscured by dark sunglasses and twin postures stiff and unyielding. Both are clad in leather jackets which are only slightly less conspicuous than Matt’s own, and once again a treacherous flicker of recognition ignites in Mark’s brain before sputtering into a puff of smoke. The taller man must be pushing six feet, his brown hair cropped short and a 5 o’clock shadow darkening his features as effectively as the scowl on his lips. The smaller man must be around Mark’s height and appears slightly less threatening for it, though from a distance he almost resembles Matt himself with the exception of his dirty-blond hair.
For a moment Mark wonders if the two men are members of his own security team, seeking out Matt on grounds of a misdemeanor which Mark has been blissfully unaware of all night. Matt doesn’t necessarily look surprised to see them after all, though their presence certainly disturbs him. That thought is cast aside quickly, however. Mark has made an effort to familiarise himself with every member of his workforce, and even if these two are last-minute recruits, their outfits don’t resemble any worn by the rest of his staff.
The not-so-concealed carry lurking on their belts is hardly a feature of his security team either.
Blood freezing as two hidden pairs of eyes settle on the bar and its occupants, Mark turns to Matt in a panic; mouth open with the intention of voicing a warning, or demanding an explanation, or both, but Matt is already one step ahead of him. Those awful neon sunglasses are back on his face, albeit he has the good sense not to activate them this time, and he throws some crumpled notes onto the counter before turning to Mark with what is no doubt supposed to be a reassuring smile. It doesn’t work of course, though he imagines Matt is well-aware of that.
As a gesture of goodwill, Matt places a firm hand on Mark’s shoulder and offers what sounds like a very final farewell.
“It was good to see you again, Alex.”
And then he’s off, wandering past the quickly emptying dining tables and mixing with the assorted bodies on the dancefloor. Fat lot of good it does; he has about as much chance of blending in here as a giraffe does hiding among a gang of meerkats. Casting a glance towards the mysterious arrivals, Mark spots them making their way towards the dancefloor, the only indication of urgency being the grim determination on their faces. They don’t seem to have any interest in him for the moment, but that prospect brings him little in the way of relief. Instead he simply feels nausea crawling up his throat, and as Matt threatens to escape his eyeline, a new madness takes hold and compels him to follow.
Keeping Matt in his sights is more difficult than he’d hoped it would be. As much as he stands out among the crowd of dancers, once Mark finds himself trapped within that very crowd, his ability to focus on what’s directly ahead of him falters. The band has gone and a DJ has taken their place, enticing drunk youths to stumble to and fro under the guise of dancing, and Mark finds himself being roughly grabbed more than once by revelers inviting him to join in. One man pointedly tells him to “fuck off” when he manages to free his arm from his tight grip, before swanning off to harass some other poor sod, but Mark forces himself to recover quickly and carries on with his misguided pursuit. Later it will occur to him that he is not usually in the habit of hiring DJs, nor is the ballroom usually so crowded at this late hour as the casino tends to attract the night-owls, but for now all he can focus on is Matt’s retreating back sneaking onto one of the many corridors adjoining the hall.
Mark follows him seconds later, having escaped the horde with his limbs intact; not daring to look back to check if their assailants have located them. It occurs to him that as hotel owner, he could abuse his status and stand in their way in order to buy time, but he’s not sure he trusts them to resist putting a bullet in his head for insubordination. He may not have the faintest idea of what’s going on, but it feels so much bigger than him somehow. Like he’s been handed solid proof that everything he’s achieved – the hotel, his band, his reputation – is meaningless in the grand scale of the universe.
He stumbles onto the corridor just in time to spot Matt turning right at the far end, and he follows as quickly as he dares. The next turn is a left, then another left, then a right... an endless maze of blinding white walls and hotel room doors, flanked by sprouting monstrosities emerging from intricately painted plant-pots. After a while it seems like Matt has deliberately chosen this route to tease him, and he begins to wonder if this entire evening has been a devilish ploy, but the thought has barely had a chance to take hold when he finally reaches the end of the line.
There is no turning point at the end of this corridor. Only an unassuming wooden door leading into what appears to be a store cupboard. There aren’t even any hotel rooms remaining in this section; instead the route ahead is lined with marble columns sporting busts with expressionless faces.
Mark only manages one step forward before freezing, as icy fingers of dread crawl up his spine and clutch his heart in a fierce grip.
No being in the universe knows this hotel better than he does. He knows every room, every corridor, every little nook and cranny as surely as he knows his own name. As well he should; he designed every inch of the place.
And yet, he can say with absolute certainty that he has never laid eyes on this corridor before. Not even in a passing dream.
Before he can blame the obvious hallucination on the scotch, or even glance back in search of Matt’s pursuers, the silence is shattered by a blinding red light emanating from the cupboard door, illuminating the corridor in time with a sharp, mechanical whine. Mark raises a hand to his eyes as the light pulses in time with his heartbeat - giving untouched walls the appearance of being drenched in blood - and the accompanying noise slams against his eardrums with unrelenting ferocity. Against his better judgement, he presses onward, cowering as the assault on his senses intensifies with every step. No doubt he will be left with nothing but regret as a result of this choice, but he fears the lack of answers will drive him mad if he doesn’t see what lies beyond that door.
Besides, Matt must be in there. There’s nowhere else he could have gone, and Mark has little desire to leave him for dead.
The pulsating doesn’t stop until he reaches the door. Body trembling in the quiet aftermath, he takes a moment to recover as the light’s echo persists with every blink of his eyes and a sharp ringing assaults his ears. His breathing sounds painfully uneven in spite of his efforts to remain calm, and he can feel his heart hammering away in an attempt to break free from his chest. He finds himself wishing he could explain away these last ten minutes, but his mind feels numb with uncertainty and the alcohol certainly isn’t helping. Has it even been ten minutes since he’d been sitting at the bar? It simultaneously feels like it’s been mere seconds and several hours since he was enjoying his evening without a care in the world.
The cupboard door remains unopened, the handle a seductive enchantress promising answers he isn’t sure he wants. This new silence doesn’t bode well, and his lack of familiarity with this section of the hotel only increases his chances of running into danger on the way back. There is no doubt in his mind that he’s damned regardless of what he does however; he may as well sate his curiosity in the meantime.
A cool trickle of sweat slides down his cheek as a trembling hand curls around the door handle, and he pulls sharply before sanity can take hold, expecting resistance but receiving none.
It seems he will have to settle for not receiving answers either.
The cupboard is empty.
The details of how he stumbled back to Room 521 and wound up sprawled on his bed are a murky blur. Even as his drunken haze makes way for a pounding headache, he can only recall glimpses of dragging his feet back the way he came; wandering through an almost deserted ballroom followed by similarly empty corridors, before eventually collapsing into bed with a crushing exhaustion. Despite his fears, he never did end up encountering those two assailants on his way back, nor did he glean any further clues as to Matt’s whereabouts. All three men had vanished into the night as mysteriously as they’d appeared, and a numb regret settling over his mind is enough to assure him that he will never see Matt again.
That is, if he even existed in the first place. As the night wears on, he begins to feel more inclined to put the evening’s events down to the drunken hallucinations of a lonely mind. Perhaps if he calls Jamie in the morning, he can put his mind at ease and call him a silly twat, erasing the whole sorry ordeal in the space of one conversation. The urge to pick up the phone now is almost too tempting to resist, but he stays put for now. There’s no need to bother his friend with the drunken ramblings of a madman. Not at this hour anyway.
Reassurance can wait. For now, he desperately needs sleep which is stubbornly unforthcoming.
He misses the presence of moonlight. That notion is so strange that a weak rebellious smile tugs at his lips, before the bitter sting of tears replaces it. Homesickness is unlike him – he has never been inclined to hop on a rocket and return home no matter how easy it would be – but right now his yearning for Earth feels suffocating. He misses the moon’s comforting presence in the sky and the wonder it had elicited from him as a child. He misses it hanging overhead as he wandered along silent streets with friends and lovers, singing and kissing and stumbling drunkenly as joyous laughter broke through the relative peace. He misses waking up with his heart in his throat and a new lyric in his head, only to be soothed instantly by luminous streaks of light.
All he has here is thick, empty darkness which seems intent on crushing him down to dust.
Those memories of home seem so distant now. Unreachable; locked away in a chest sporting a rusted padlock and buried deep beneath the realm of consciousness. Perhaps it would be best if they remained buried. Even if Mark were capable of digging them up and freeing them from their prison, the sheer weight of the memories within would surely drown him in an instant.
Mark shakes his head and closes his eyes before bitter tears can trail down his cheeks. It would be best not to dwell on such things. His nights are sleepless enough as it is.
It only occurs to him later, as unblinking eyes linger on the ceiling above, that Matt had casually referred to him as ‘Alex’ and that the thought of questioning it hadn’t even crossed his mind.
One Last Thing (A RWBY V8 AU)
A/N : purely self indulgent so who knows how committed I'll be ? centered around Neo and my sort of self projecting OC, Christyl Orai (20 y/o, she/her), whose semblance is basically lightning (it flows in her blood, so using it would not only drain her aura but also her blood)
Prologue | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2
Neo didn't have the chance to protest as the door was locked right in front of her face. Gritting her teeth together and hissing through it, the petite girl started stomping one foot on the floor with displease. When she agreed to Cinder's deal for the second time in her life, she at least expected the least bit of respect from her, but no. If anything, her attitude's gotten worse since the Beacon incident.
Roman would never treat her that way.
The sentence quickly got pushed out of thought as Neo reminded herself where she was. Before she even fully turned around to take in her surroundings, a snarky voice filled the room. Jeez, at least put her in a room alone-
"Of all rooms for her to lock you in, it's here."
Neo warily spun on her heels to find the figure speaking to her. The person was sitting on the counter, and only once Neo notices what the room was did she raise an eyebrow. Did Cinder just lock her in a bar? And why would this person be here in the first place? Not only that, why was the voice so distinctively familiar?
"The queen put me here, I'm barely even old enough to drink those." The figure clarified when they saw Neo suspiciously eyeing the expensive, towering glass bottles near her. Neo cringed at how Salem was referred to as, walking over to take a seat at the other end of the countertop. Since the room only had a half lit candle as a sorry excuse for a light source, Neo wasn't able to see the person's face. As if reading her mind, they showed off their fist and a red glow began emitting from it. It turns out the glow wasn't just a glow, but rather an electric charged glow.
"A little knack I got recently." They explained with a bitter sounding chuckle. They then charged their other hand and proceeded to clap both hands in a swift motion. Before her heterochromic eyes, the room was suddenly half lit. Only then was Neo able to recognize their face. Their face, part of which were one of a grimm's. The skin surrounding their right eye was pitch black with white spots here and there, that specific eye colored crimson. Oddly enough, it wasn't glowing. Somehow it wasn't like that with the rest of their body, but then again Neo knew better than to judge from first glance.
This actually wasn't the first time they've met, explaining her recognition of their voice and their casuality with her. Not that the two of them were ever playing on the same side. Or possibly, now they are. "Orai." Neo signed with her fingers, expression a tad bit more playful. "Politan." Christyl humored her.
Neo took off 'her' fedora and gently set it beside her, fondly staring at it for a second. She then crossed one leg on top of the other and brought her beloved disguised weapon on her lap. A remodelling was long over due, she remembered thinking months before this whole ordeal. After hours and hours of trying different designs for it which admittedly exhausted her aura, she came up with a design she was satisfied with. Anyone could tell her that was a waste of time for something as trivial as an aesthetic aspect, but anyone who even tries to would end up with a stab or two. Maybe a missing head if Neo wasn't feeling nice.
"So, assets, huh?" Neo hoisted her parasol and threateningly pointed it under her company's chin. "Cinder's words first, not mine." Chris defended herself, shrugging as if she wasn't in any sort of danger. That was probably why Neo particularly liked their fight that night on top of the skyscraper. Having the upper hand in combat while maintaining grace has always been what Neo's known for, but even she enjoys an equal fight with mutual sass every once in a while. An eloquent way to break routine for once.
Lowering her weapon, Neo didn't break her glare aimed right in Chris' eyes, to which the latter once again chuckled at. "Besides, I was roped in this stupid cult before you were, so that's your win." The platinum blonde begrudgingly stated, earning a triumphant smile from Neo. "But you know, of all people to fall for Cinder's antics twice I didn't think it'd be you." Chris sneered. "Not my best, I must say." Neo signed, rolling her eyes.
"Why did you, anyway?"
"She offered a chance at long deserved retribution."
"Don't get me wrong, killing that brat never was my intention. I was stalking Cinder before we had a proper.. talk."
"You attempted to murder her."
"No, I simply requested a friendly reunion chat."
"Which included stabbing."
"And it wasn't fulfilled, I'm guessing?"
"Cinder revealed her maiden powers before I got the chance."
"So you got scared?"
"A maiden's capability isn't to be laughed at, Orai. I believe you out of everyone should be aware of that, considering the state of your late mother."
"You sure know where it hurts, Politan."
"Why, thank you."
"Though, yeah, I do know, was just teasing."
"Glad to see you haven't lost your touch. Say, wouldn't you agree that a rematch is an absolute must to hold ?"
"Can't argue with that."
Day 6: a song that makes you want to dance
Song: DNCE - Cake by the ocean
Jughead is finally feeling free and light as a feather. The school is over. He managed to get into NYU even studying in Southside high and can’t wait to leave behind the town with pep. Even dorm room would be better than an old trailer with alcoholic father passed out on the couch, no one in the big city will know him like here. Besides Toni and Fangs are moving to New York too, he will have his people near enough when tough times are gonna happen.
He is genuinely happy and doesn’t remember the last time he had this feeling.
They are celebrating around a bonfire on the bank of Sweetwater river. He diceded no to indulge in red solo cups to remember this evening clearly, but he feels confident because he is surrounded by people he’s known his whole life.
He sees Archie, his only friend from the North side of the town, finally arrived accompanied by two girls.
“Hey, man!” the redhead greets Jughead giving him some sort of side bro hug “I hope you don’t mind I brought the girls”
“Of course not!” Toni interjects “the more the merrier”
“This is my girlfriend, Veronica” Archie introduces the short beautiful Latina girl in expensive looking outfit, but with kind eyes and warm smile.
“You can call me V, guys”
“And here is Betty, I think you’ve met her before” Archie points to the blonde girl with a ponytail, that looks slightly uncomfortable.
Of course he knows who is Betty Cooper, the drama of her sister’s involvement with the heir of Blossom empire was the theme of towns gossips for the entire sophomore year. Besides he met her several times at Archie’s birthdays.
“Uh, hey” she gives a little wave and tight-lipped smile.
Archie grabs Veronica’s hand, a red solo cup and goes mingling with people.
Betty is left to stand alone, kicking sand with her toes.
She is put together, even uncomfortably so, like people shouldn’t be so perfect. It’s always put him on edge around her. She always keeps quiet and polite, the perfect girl next door.
But today.... today he doesn’t know if it’s the light from the bonfire or something else, but she looks mesmerizing.
“Hey, Betty, why so serious?” he suddenly asks
“Huh?” she shifts her big doe eyes to him.
“School is over, we can leave this god forsaken town, you are leaving, right?”
“Yeah, I got in NYU” she smiles a little
“Really?” it seems like he can see excitement in her eyes.
“Yeah, so live a little before school starts. Do you want beer?”
“Oh... no, I... I’m designated driver” she looks bashfully to the ground
“Yeah, I’m not drinking either” he smiles “cupcake?”
“What?” her eyes shot to his, confused
“You want a cupcake?”
“Do you have cupcakes here?” she lifts her brows obviously amused
“I know it’s not what you expect from a southside party, but Sweet Pea here is going to culinary school and he wants to open his own bakery one day, so he practices a lot... so... you want one?”
“Yeah, sure” she starts moving to the tables and can’t tear his eyes when she walks in proper lightning. She moves gracefully, these long legs do things for him, he could see a hint of cleavage in the low cut of her tank top, her round ass in this tiny shorts is just... wait is she swaying her hips a little bit more now?
She is a masterpiece.
They come up to the table where Sweet Pea is crowded by girls fascinated by the man, who can cook.
“Hey, Sweets, give us two of your best”
Sweet Pea turns to them and smiles knowingly “okay... so red velvet with vanilla for you blondie and pure chocolate for you, Jug” he says handing them two cupcakes.
“Wow... they are perfect” Betty whispers, studying the cupcake, which could as well be sold in New York’s fancy bakery.
“And you haven’t even tasted it yet” Sweet Pea smirks.
She swipes the frosting with her finger and wraps her lips around him.
“Mmmmm.... the frosting is soooo good” she moans.
“God damn” Jughead thinks observing the scene and feeling that his jeans probably became a little tighter.
They spend most of the night talking and eating cupcakes.
“You know, I’m so tired of being careful, I wanna start living dangerously” she confesses.
“Wanna go skinny dipping?” he suddenly blurts.
“What?!” he eyes go round and big as saucers.
“You said it yourself, so let’s lose our minds and go fucking crazy”
“Here?” she ask hesitantly.
“Nah, I’m not actually eager to show the goods to half of the Southside, but I know a secluded spot not far from here”
“Uh...” she is hesitating and he understands that she is a little afraid.
“We’ll tell Archie and Veronica where we are going, he knows the spot” he tries to calm her.
“Okay....” she finally surrenders blushing.
Archie is surprised and a little confused with the information Jughead gives him, but Veronica gives him a knowing smirk and he starts blushing himself.
He takes Betty’s hand and walks her through the woods.
It’s when they are in water naked already, that she swims to him, placing her hands on his shoulders.
He can’t breathe for a moment, they are staring in each other’s eyes and when her gaze shifts for a moment to his lips, he takes it as the right moment to connect their lips.
She gasps, but quickly sinks in the kiss. Her lips are soft and move against his so deliciously. He swipes his tongue hesitantly against her lower lip and she opens them deepening the kiss. She tastes like strawberries and vanilla frosting. She shifts closer and her breasts are pressed against his chest, he feels her pebbled nipples against his skin, she intervenes her fingers through his damp locks and moans into his mouth and his minds go hazy.
It’s when they finally separated, breathless, he whispers “You are my real-life fantasy, Betts”.
She giggles sweetly and pecks his lips “Juggie, I’ve had a crush on you since middle school”.
Heartbeats quicken. The tremors return. Rose opens her laptop, glancing about to make sure she’s alone. Gods forbid anyone, especially Jade, see her revisit one of her lowest points. She craves it -- to know the bitter ennui of her past mistakes is a nectar that keeps her reality grounded and the fire under her lit. This particular memory is perhaps the worst mistake of her young life though, and to correct it would be to supp deep from the ichor of sweet relief. She pulls up the log...
tacitTherapist [TT] started trolling grimAuxiliary [GA].
TT: It’s come to this.
GA: Indeed It Has
TT: And you’re still not budging.
GA: Consider My Position Entirely Unmoved
TT: Entirely? That seems a bit harsh.
GA: This Is A Harsh Reality
TT: I imagined you’d have at least granted me the niceties and lied about how malleable your convictions are.
GA: What Is There Left To Say
GA: We Have A Crucial Difference In Opinion That Cannot Be Reconciled
GA: We Have Iterated Our Arguments To Each Other For Days Without Relent
GA: The Underlying Basis To This Disagreement Is Presupposed On The Notion That This Infernal Game Has Shown You The Right Course Of Action Without Any Other Supporting Evidence That It Isnt Simply Lying To You Once Again
TT: They aren’t lies, they’re possibilities.
GA: But Only One Of Them Will Happen To Us
GA: The Rest Dont Matter
GA: Thus They Are Lies And There Is Just One Truth
TT: Couching your beliefs that way is what I disagree with.
GA: Then You Arent Fucking Listening
GA: Only One Of Those Timelines Will Be The One We Are In
GA: So Forgive Me If I Buttress My Language In Solipsistic Idiom
GA: Unless You Can Give Me More Than One Percent Assurance That We Will All Make It Through This By Jumping On This Fantastic Savior Satellite
GA: I Cannot Support Your Idea And I Suggest You Let It Go
TT: I can’t.
GA: I Know
GA: Thats Why Theres Nothing Left To Say
TT: I disagree. I think there are a variety of things left to say.
GA: Do They Relate To The Problem At Hand Or Are You Stalling
TT: Irrelevant. The impetus of communication isn’t inherently problem-solving, it’s to convey meaning.
GA: The Impetus Does Solve A Problem
GA: You Want To Convey Meaning So The Solution Is Communication
TT: Semantics. I’m saying there are other avenues of thought we must explore first.
GA: Rose According To You We Are Running Out Of Time
GA: Is This Truly How You Want To Spend Your Last Moments With Us
GA: Bickering Pointlessly On Separate Computers To Avoid Devolving Into Another Shouting Competition Which Karkat Invariably Wins
TT: Would you rather I pivot into sweet nothings about how I’ve so enjoyed our time together on this desolate rock?
TT: Would you rather I spin the yarn of our tale aboard this distant laboratory, slowly starving as our grist cache dwindles?
TT: Must I recount our feeding calendar in which we literally take turns stemming the hunger pangs until we all eventually succumb to malnutrition and sickness simultaneously?
TT: Then this is how I’m spending my last moments. Quite presumptuous of you to assume I’ve made up my mind as well. For all you know, I could be swayed and end up staying here.
GA: Given You Were Just Eviscerating My Position Mere Seconds Ago As To Why We Should Stay Here Im Sufficiently Certain You Wont
TT: That’s another issue. Your certainty. The Light has shown me countless avenues to success. There are literally endless timelines in which we follow my advice and everyone meets up to finish the game.
TT: And yet you’re somehow unwaveringly certain that none of them will occur?
GA: Your Argument Swings Both Ways
TT: I don’t appreciate the implicit reference to my confusing sexuality, but go on.
GA: If There Are Countless Possibilities In Which We Succeed Following Your Idea Then There Are Also Countless Possibilities In Which We Succeed Not Following Your Idea
GA: Its Two Infinities
GA: The Question Lies In Which Infinity Is Bigger
TT: That makes no sense, infinity is infinity.
GA: Yes But Some Infinities Are Larger Or Smaller Than Others
GA: Some Infinities Are Not Even Truly Infinity But We Consider Them Infinity For The Sake of Mathematics
TT: How does that make even remote sense?
GA: While You Were Studying The Majyyk I Was Reading The Calculus
TT: I didn’t realize I was speaking to Jade’s pupil.
GA: You Arent
GA: If I Were Jades Pupil Wed Have Met Up By Now And We Wouldnt Be Having This Inane Conversation
TT: But you can become her pupil! If you just come with me. Trust me, Kanaya. Please.
GA: I Trust You Rose
GA: But I Cannot Go With You
GA: The Prophecy Satellite Is On The Horizon
GA: You Have Not Much Time
TT: Technically I have all the time I need.
GA: Dave Has Sworn Off His Powers And You Know This
TT: He can be convinced.
GA: If Your Powers Of Persuasion On Him Are Anything Like They Are On Me I Highly Doubt That
TT: Fuck you.
A pregnant pause passes as Rose looks over on the horizon. The satellite is indeed coming into view.
TT: I’m sorry, Kanaya.
TT: I love you.
GA: I Love You Too Rose
GA: But This Is Goodbye
TT: It doesn’t have to be.
GA: Didnt We Just Go Over That Im Not Coming With You And That You Arent Staying Here
TT: Yes. But if you don’t say goodbye, it means we’ll meet again.
GA: Rose This Is Childish
TT: If you don’t say goodbye, it isn’t the end.
GA: This Is The End Rose
TT: It isn’t the end. I’ll see you again. I’ll find John and Jade by myself and we’ll come get you.
GA: How Long Will It Take To Find Them
GA: And How Will You Find Us If You Ever Do
GA: This Laboratory Is Bound To Continue Drifting Even After You Depart
GA: We Wont Stay Frozen In Place Once You Leave
GA: This Isnt Like One Of Those Trashy Rainbowdrinker Books You Devoured
GA: This Is Real Rose
GA: You Must Face This Truth
TT: We are the shapers of our world.
GA: Not This Again
TT: We determine our own fate.
GA: Rose This Is A Quote From Another Novel Please Dont Do This
TT: We mold the physical to our whims and thrust it forward through our own designs. We shape destiny. We reject that which displeases us and create our own reality.
TT: Can you really not indulge me? As this one last act of kindness?
GA: I Will Allow You One Kindness But It Will Not Be This
TT: Fine. As my last act of kindness from you, I want...
GA: It Cannot Be Something Ridiculous
TT: I want you to forget me.
GA: What The Fuck Did I Just Say
TT: Hear me out.
TT: If truly everything we’ve been through thus far has meant so little that you can’t put your faith in my decision, I want you to forget it.
TT: It will be as if it never happened. I was merely a phantom in this session, and should I somehow return (against your predictions), I will get to vindictively rub it in your face.
TT: But if you’re right, and I never return, the pain for you is lessened. You were never in a relationship with me, so there’s nothing to mourn. I never existed. Things were simply bad, and my nagging insistence to redirect our course was never there.
TT: I want you to forget me.
GA: Rose You Know I Cant Do That
TT: Not even for me? As your last kindness?
GA: It Would Not Be Kind To Invalidate The Memories You Ensured We Would Create
GA: It Would Not Be Kind To Devalue Everything You Have Done For Us
GA: And I Still Cherish Those Memories Even If They Led To Something Painful
TT: It will only cause you more pain if you hold onto them. I don’t want you to suffer.
GA: I Want To Suffer These Memories
GA: They Offer Me Some Reassurance
TT: But not enough to convince you to join me.
Rose stops typing, a nerve in her snapping. Her face goes beet-red, despair swelling into wrath. She sets her claws to the keyboard once more.
TT: Then if not by your grace, I’ll make you forget through spite.
TT: I want to be forgotten. I want my existence to be erased from this failure of a timeline. I never loved you. You meant nothing to me.
TT: My departure will be a curse upon you unless you forget. Whether by magic or by will, you must forget me. All those memories I made with you meant nothing. I did those things only to ensure my own survival. Your presence was happenstance at best.
TT: Now that I’m heading out on my own, our destinies are uncoupled. Whatever happens to you is beneath me. I am taking the path to victory, and you can all squander the rest of your miserable lives here.
TT: I won’t come back for you. I gave you all the chances I had. This is your fault.
GA: Rose Please Dont Do This
TT: You won’t see me again. I’m getting on that satellite and I’m not looking back. Even if I am to die, alone on a satellite, it will be a Heroic death as the only one with any sense not to continue a cursed existence on this fucking rock.
TT: I will live with only a spectre of guilt that I didn’t forcibly coerce you onto the satellite with me, chastising myself for respecting your wishes and letting you choose your own demise.
TT: That is all. Goodbye.
tacitTherapist [TT] stopped trolling grimAuxiliary [GA].
True to her word, Rose closed her laptop and walked briskly to the edge of the floating laboratory to wait for the satellite to pass by. Sheer anger coursed through her veins, hoping that would mask her true intent. She had never displayed that kind of fury before, let alone to Kanaya. If she played her cards right, Kanaya might still join her, moved by the pure strength of her conviction. But there was no hesitant hand on her shoulder, begging her to stay or to join her. There was no last-second plea, no ‘Rose Wait’, and not even a footstep in her general direction as she waited.
Resigned, she boarded the satellite, breaking her word and casting a desperate glance back as the satellite continued its course away. Through the tiny window, she could see Kanaya simply looking down at her grubtop, her face stained jade. Regret swelled, and for just a second, she could feel herself begin to open the hatch and jump back towards the meteor. But the second passed, and soon she was out of range to give even a cursory wave goodbye.
The same tears begin to stream down her face as she closes the pesterlog and wraps her sheets tighter around her shoulders. She can’t keep putting off her meeting with Cetus forever... but she still doesn’t know how she’ll reckon with the shadow of her failed ploy.
Versace on The Floor
An indulgent heart boner (thanks btw @frenchy-and-the-sea for that) piece inspired by a song. Mildly nsfw and hella full of feelings, read at own risk!
Word Count: 1149 words
If you had asked him years ago where he thought he’d be at this point in his life, ‘making love to the woman he loved under the chandelier’ would not have been his answer. And yet, here he was.
On the floor of a small ballroom, under the chandelier, wrapped up in her.
Not even fucking, but actually making love to the woman under him.
His coat (he has a coat) spread beneath her for her comfort, alongside her own dress (some expensive designer taste, Versace, Armani, something like that), her eyes, such a lovely shade of blue, staring into his, while her hand curls in his hair.
And they were entirely alone in this huge place. Alone, and together.
And such is how it started.
There had been a party, a few hours ago. A ballroom full to the brim, full of swishing skirts and dashing suits and lovely music. Scandal had stayed by his side the entire night, and tempted him to more than one dance on the floor, and had resisted an attempt or two from his own prompting. “I know this dance,” with a smile on those red lips, “and I know you can not dip me.”
“But practice makes perfect, doesn’t it?” He’d prompt again, and her smile would soften.
“Perhaps in private. But the next dance, darling, I will give you.”
That she did. It was actually a good time, considering these had never been his type of party, even from the very start.
But then the time came when people began to file out of the door, one by one, two by two and even in threes. The lights dimmed as they went until the chandelier was almost the only light still going.
The music, however, still played slow and louder now that there was no longer the chatting of the upper class in their fancy clothing around them. He wasn’t quite sure why they had stayed so long here, but even he could call the atmosphere romantic. Especially with Scandal on his arm, humming the tune lightly as she leaned against him, and the moment of pure peace between them did something silly somewhere inside his gut.
Then the music around them changed, into another tune he’d heard scattered throughout the night, and he really just couldn’t help himself. He pulled himself away, sliding his hand down her arm just to catch hers in his, putting on his best gentlemanly flare, and gave her a slight bow.
“If I could have this dance, madam?” That’s when the smile really broke across her face, one that didn’t match the ‘gentlemanly’ act that was on his own face. The act he was finding hard to keep up, that favored melting into something...worryingly soft, as he pulled her close again. As she let him pull her towards the floor.
It would worry a him from years ago, though he would loathe to admit it, that her smile made something go in his chest. A him from years ago would be afraid, when she laid her head against him as they swayed, that she could hear that something in his chest. That she’d try to make something of it. The him of now barely even paid attention to it.
The huge room was silent save for the gently swaying tune still on the air, and still besides their own slow rhythm.
It was...comfortable. Some kind of peaceful, the quiet between them, the easy way they moved together. A content sigh bubbled from his chest, and she adjusted her head against his shoulder.
Their calm and peace lasted until the familiar chords of the end of the song, and for a split second, he almost mourned the space between them, the cold space of where she had been pressed against him, and thought about just pulling her back in.
But he had something to prove now, and what better way to end this part of the night than with a perfect dip?
Scandal went easy in his arms, and the thing in his chest was back at the easy display of trust in him as she leaned with it-
He didn’t drop her this time.
That was only a partial victory he could claim, as he pulled her back to him and all the balance he’d ever possessed seem to leave him, and down they both went.
The floor was cold and unforgiving to his elbow and spine, and Scandal’s weight only marginally less so on his stomach.
The music faded around them to the silence of the night as they lay on the floor.
Misfortune took his time propping himself onto back up, ever aware of every place on his body that had collided with the floor, and Scandal stared from where she awkwardly sat on his thighs. He cracked a small smile at her, and opened his mouth to ask if she was ok-
And the quiet room was filled with the sound of her laughter. Beautiful and behind a hand like she could ever hide it, eyes closed and delicate shoulders shaking. He couldn’t help the wide smile that came from him in return, propping himself up a little more as she re-settled herself on his legs while she laughed, hand moving from covering her mouth to brush against his cheek. “At least you didn’t drop me?” she said, before erupting back into giggles, and the laugh he didn’t realize he’d been holding back echoed around the room with hers.
He’s not entirely sure when they’d stopped laughing, but he was very aware of the way she was looking at him, teeth worrying at a perfectly red lip, and of how very close they were, breaths mingling. He was very aware of when her hand slid from his cheek to the nape of his neck, fingers curling in his hair, as she closed that distance between them, and he was very aware of the pleasant taste of the night’s champagne on her tongue.
And here he was now, and here she was now, beneath him, and it all felt too...rightfully in place to be real. Felt like this is what was supposed to be, felt like something-
Her legs squeeze around him just so, and he slows like he knows she's asking him to, draws back to look at her.
And she, ever so devastatingly, just looks at him, little smile playing on her lips. Meets his eyes, finally, with her hand smoothing down his jaw, and so earnestly whispers, "I just want this to last a little longer, is all."
The something in his chest lodges itself in his throat on it's attempt out, and he finds himself just as unable to swallow it down as he is to let it out. So instead he kisses her, and hopes she can understand what he’s failing to convey.
congratulations v ! we adored your application for ARIADNE. there’s an underlying passion in her that you’ve captured with the resentment she still holds towards theseus and the steady resilience she maintains in the face of obstacles. please join us with your requested faceclaim choice: ZENDAYA COLEMAN.
☆ﾟ*・ﾟ OOC INFO.
V - 24 - PST - She/Her
I’m basically a magical trash can fire in human form
☆ﾟ*・ﾟ DEITY — GENDER. AGE RANGE.
ARIADNE— FEMALE. 21-24. )
☆ﾟ*・ﾟ MORTAL NAME. JOB/OCCUPATION. BOROUGH/NEIGHBORHOOD.
AUDREY TOMLIN. COLLEGE STUDENT & PERSONAL ASSISTANT TO (literally whichever character wants an assistant). Wherever broke bitches live?
Zoey Deutch OR Nina Dobev OR Holland Roden OR Barbie Ferriera OR Maddie Hasson
I honestly can’t decide so there is no ranking I love them all
☆ﾟ*・ HOW WOULD YOU PLAY THEM?
Once upon a time, her name was Ariadne and she was a beautiful princess of Crete. Her tale is told as such; she fell in love with a hero, she helped him best the labyrinth, and when it was all over, she sailed away with her husband to be. This was not her happy ending, however. Soon, she was cast aside by her beloved Theseus and left to die on the island of Naxos. Heartbroken, she took her own life and willingly surrendered herself to the underworld. Even this was not her ending, though. Next came Dionysus, who took her from the darkness and gave her life anew. It was immortal life, pure and bright and full of all the luxuries one could imagine. There were children. There was marriage. There was love again. Finally, there was an ending.
This is the story told throughout the ages. It is a wonderful tale, but it is greatly lacking. The poets of old never mention her thoughts, her feelings, or who she really was. They forget her cleverness. They forget her determination. They forget how did not just stand by, no, she led the way through the labyrinth. They forget how she left family and country behind for love. They forget that she did not shed tears of heartbreak. No, she shed tears of rage, and she screamed with such fury that it rang out through the isle. They forget how she cursed Theseus’s name, and how when she wrapped the vine around her neck, her only thought was that she would rather take her own life than let him have the pleasure of killing her. Most importantly, the poets forget to mention that she never forgave what was done to her. Even after she ascended, even after she found joy with another, she remembered the promise Theseus had broken and she did not forgive him.
The life of Audrey Tomlin has thus far followed many of the patterns of her previous one. Like Ariadne, she was born into a wealthy, affluent family that was led by a powerful and controlling father. She was given everything in the world, from expensive cars to designer clothes. However, like an idiot, she threw all that money away away for love. Well, for what she thought was love, anyway… The relationship that changed Audrey’s life came just after her sophomore year of college. Her family hated him and swore they’d cut her off if she stayed with him, but Audrey didn’t care. He was everything she had ever wanted and hoped for. That man promised he would stay with her forever… but really forever only meant until her credit cards were cancelled. After that, he was gone, and he never even bothered to say goodbye. That experience changed Audrey. It hardened her to the world around her and made her swear off love entirely. Sex was one thing, but love was something she wanted no part in.
In regards to her personality, Audrey is much like her former self. Impulsive, creative, brave, and bold, but also lacking in foresight and far too quick to act on her feelings. She is kind, but incredibly prickly. Lively, but uncouth. Temperamental and moody, but affectionate and loyal to an extreme. Audrey works incredibly hard, putting in long hours and managing school on top of it all. Each day is just about keeping her head above water. Survival is all that matters to her these days. There is occasional fun, however. All work and no play is far too dull, and Audrey is anything but dull. No, Audrey is the life of every party, and her nights out are as wild as they come. It’s really no surprise, her prior associations have left her with a penchant for revelry and over indulgence.
At this point in time Audrey will have no memories of the past apart from dreams of the labyrinth, which she frequently sketches.
I don’t think Ariadne has a dog in the race in regards to who’s in charge. There are a select few that she cares for, and her allegiance lies with them and whoever they support.
Ariadne was a mortal first, so she has no issues with them.
☆ﾟ*・ GIVE US A SAMPLE OF YOUR WRITING!
Note: I normally stick to past tense in my own starters, but I always mirror whatever post I’m replying to.
New York is a city of all types. Every ethnicity, every class, every social group is represented in this wonderful place Audrey calls home. For the most part, she has no issue with any of them. In fact, the diversity is what makes her love this city, despite the shit hole that it can be at times. However, there is one type of person that Audrey Tomlin can not stand - and it’s fucking weirdos like this one.
With an irritated huff, Audrey turns to face the girl. It’s not so that she can get a good look at the woman in question, rather, it’s to put a bit of distance between the two of them. Really, has this Wednesday Adams wannabe never heard of personal space? Sure, it’s a crowded city, but that’s no excuse to be creepy. Things like this drive Audrey mad. Why is it so much to ask to just be left alone? All she wants is to not be bothered on her break. Lord knows she doesn’t get enough of them.
“Listen, I don’t know what kind of game this is, but I’m not interested in playing.” She pauses, gesturing to the couple. They seem like a happy pair. They’re all kisses and cuddles, probably newly together and still in the honeymoon phase. She thinks they’re idiots doomed to fail, but it’s none of her business. “All I want to do right now is finish my cigarette before my boss calls me back — “ at the mention of which, she takes a puff. “So go ask your question to someone else. I don’t have the time for this.” With that, Audrey gestures with her hands, urging the woman to shoo and get out of her face.
Really. The nerve of some people.
☆ﾟ*・ ANYTHING ELSE?
cigarettes. bubble baths. red wine. long hours. long naps. dark circles. study drugs. sleeping pills. the morning rush. curse words. floral print. pencil marks. pet snakes. an empty fridge. shots of vodka. tinder dates and disappointment.
you like making rpg maker games right? are there any reoccurring characters or themes that show up in them? who or what do you take inspiration from?
it’s a very weird surprise that anyone cares or knows enough about me to even ask this, like you’re genuinely that interested. i don’t think i can answer your questions, at least allow myself to answer them, but i can explain to you what the two games ARE, hopefully in the driest most neutral way that won’t make the audience in my head cringe oh wow this didn’t go very well FUCK
i made the first one (skull island) i think starting on august 31st 2016. i stopped making it somewhere around late november. i made it purely because someone had kindly gifted me the program, and i felt like i’d be ungrateful if i didn’t make something with it. my initial idea was to just throw some awful 15 minute long thing together, use some “random” humor, show it to some people, they’ll laugh and forget about it and i’ll be free from this. but as it went on i felt compelled to put more things in it. my internet was going out often back then so i’d just be left alone working on it for hours on end. i made a starter area and then a hub area and then the 3 main areas and their respective secret events. as it went on, i had ideas and understood i wouldn’t be able to fully realize them due to my nonexisting talent. it was this very strange exhausting tightrope between shame and irony. i went from making areas to trying to draw my own assets, an extremely infuriating experience. i made a school, a city area leading into a park leading into a lab, and a night-time highway leading into a tunnel leading into my patience running out and me getting sick of this and just ending the game. everything about it is completely unbalanced. i went through the trouble of designing enemies even though i could never figure out how to make most of them attack during battles. i incorporated real chat logs and things i’d heard about in the past into their own “levels” and events. the “main character” was still just a stock rpgmaker sprite even though i had gone through the trouble of editing other sprites for characters to make them semi-original. very uncomfortable dialogue was written. you could get a whip as a weapon, from an NPC who tells you “you look good with it”. or something. the bgm for that area was text to speech voices saying “you were always sick, i was always sick”. it stopped being a joke, but it wasn’t serious, it instead became nonsense. there are no themes. there’s no inspiration. nothing could justify this.
when making it i remembered this text file i had from back in 2014, where i detailed areas and the plot of a game i wished i could make but never even tried to. it was about the world disappearing, the protagonist being the only human left alive. his name was mori. he’d find other characters eventually including a little boy who liked watching stars. i put no thought into how it would work, i guess i just unconsciously knew it couldn’t realistically be made without a lot of knowledge, hard work and talent. i thought it would be funny if i tried bringing those characters and areas into life ayway, into this stupid half-joke clusterfuck of a game. the stargazing kid does nothing but despair about how his existence is tainted, how he wants to “go back”, ie. go back to being an idea of something good. parts of that old text file flash by the screen constantly in the background. i made roleplay scenarios from when i was 13 into “””gameplay”””. like “follow this red line in a void, you are then led to a house (that is just a blue rectangle), go up the stairs and meet this naked faceless boy with a suicide note written into his body, who then blows up in a shower of blood and gore.” a random battle happens just before the final stretch of the game. it appears to be a mound of scrap metal and junk with an old TV sticking out the top. this is a reference to another character that appeared in the old concept. a “cool” bad boy character with a TV for a head. i guess that’s how you can tell it was written in 2014. the final boss is Mori, who talks about “leaving this world” through death. in a horrendously drawn replica of my bedroom, you find the original synopsis for the 2014 game, in the end it asks “what happened?” over and over again. the final bit of gameplay in the game is a calm scene with a character talking to you about how all of this was meaningless and you shouldn’t worry about it. you walk by a bunch of graves. the final screen is 3 graves, one for Mori and one for the stargazer, and one open grave for you. you jump in it and the game ends. a quick joke that could have gotten a laugh out of someone turned into a 3 month long self-indulgent masochistic shameful project of fetishized inability, then recorded and put on youtube to satisfy my digital hoarder compulsions.
OKAY NOW FOR THE OTHER ONE in 2017 i tried my hand at making some assets and characters for a game, another fucked up grand concept like the 2014 one and just as impossible to implement. shame got the better of me this time and i gave up. near the end of march 2018 a person i know had made a joke game on Unity just to get acclaimed to the engine. this one was actually successful, short, and made me laugh. i thought it would be funny to one-up said person and make a game myself. and then i tried. and then i learned i couldn’t do it and immediately lost interest. but for some reason i didn’t stop
instead i made safe room, which i developed for all of april and released late may this year. so i made it in less time than skull island, even though both games are just about an hour long, and with this one i had used almost entirely original assets. huh. i repurposed the characters and areas i drew in 2017 and made up a new “””story””” involving them, though some of the usual self depricating “hahaha wasted ideas asshole” humor came through in this one aswell, nowhere as much though. a young boy is stuck in the basement of some mysterious man who had presumably kidnapped him from somewhere. his condition is a mystery and so are the motives of his kidnapper. there is this smart-mouthed, incessant, gameplay interrupting voice constantly coming in and deriding him for everything, but at the same time almost empathizing with him. the voice is confused about it’s own existence. you have nothing to do but watch time go by mercilessly, dreaming to try escaping from your situation. there are no battles in this one. there are two puzzles except they don’t work. i couldn’t figure out how to make them work. i also didn’t care. i stole a lot of music, because in skull island i was terrified that someone would copyright me and hastily cobbled together a bunch of ear-splitting bullshit. at this point i was begging to just stop. stop doing this kind of shit. it’s not funny. it’s not cool how i made this despite not wanting to, despite having years of free time and infinite resources and tutorials on how do anything at my fingertips. this is just shameful. this time there’s 4 “levels” except one of them is like 5 minutes long. i wanted to go a little further with this barely-a-concept i made up. laziness had something else in mind, however. again the “inspiration” is taken from the strange internet interactions i had in the past. fake stories from other people. one trick pony. you go from a forest, to a small house in the “woods”, to a snowy, corrupted mountain taken from a stupid dream i had years ago, to a creepy museum. it’s more…polished than the last one? i guess? it has an unique text box. the main character’s sprite is edited. there’s a place where you have to jump to platforms. sometimes there’s “animated” sprites. i suppose it’s an improvement. the best, nicest looking thing in this game wasn’t made by me. you could play this with your eyes closed, though that’s absolutely not to the game’s detriment.
“You are locked in a room. Some time has passed, enough for you to start doubting everything. You have to escape, you guess, but it’s hard. It gets harder to do anything the more time goes by. You’re forced to depend on him, the person who brought you here in the first place. Most days, there’s nothing you can do. In the middle of all this, I came to exist. Let’s figure this out together, okay?“ this is it’s official description
oh god i hate this. oh man. oh wow what a fucking idiot i am. i can’t even tell if this is ignorant or just narcissistic. i’m just gonna leave this here and go away
I was writing a story about Jason Todd, if he had been in the Marvel universe, so basically he’s ‘adopted’ by Tony (keeps the last name Todd like he did in DC) and he’s killed MUCH younger. Like, age nine. (because yes I’m self-indulging, I want him to hang out with Peter Parker, sue me.)
So he dies at age nine, here’s how it happens
He lives in a really bad part of New Jersey (which is roughly where Gotham would be located if it were real) and his mother Over-Doses on a drug that’s purely meant to kill the competition’s buyers. So Jason is left alone, so he goes outside and is kidnapped (they’ve been watching his and a bunch of other drug addict’s kids) to be basically auctioned off to whoever wants him for any myriad of reasons. However, the competitor's lackeys go and grab him and the kids, and Jason thinks he’s being saved, until he, as one of the kids in the three oldest groups is beaten until he can’t try to escape and then left in an abandoned building to be blown up.
He dies shielding the youngest kid with his body, trying to save her.
She doesn’t survive, and neither does he, she is crushed by the building when Jason is thrown to the side, and he asphyxiates (is choked) because of the smoke.
Until he wakes up in an unmarked grave, crawling his way out.
That’s when Jason basically learns he can slip in and out of the soul realm, with his physical form, and if he dies his body basically shifts out of time and then back into it, having reversed the wounds on his body.
Kind of like a healing factor.
Now, because of this, they think Jason somehow is associated with the time stone, but this isn’t necessarily true.
Jason decides to call himself the Red Hood, after the clothes of the man who killed him.
He gets vengeance for the deaths of all of the children and clears New Jersey of crime without being noticed.
Or, so he thinks.
At what would be age 23, (Jason only ages if he wants to, so he sped up his personal time to be around 17 at the age of twelve and then traveled the world learning from killers, just like he did in Red Hood: Lost Days).
A streak of his hair is white because of how he over-exhausted his abilities to do that.
Jason is taken in by Tony Stark, given a choice to either work with SHIELD (and be watched by Tony) or go to prison for life.
Tony forces Jason to stop smoking by supplying him with Nicotine gum.
Jason creates hollow-point bullets with a c-4 kicker, the best, most explosive in the world, and Tony realizes Jason is basically a rugged genius.
Jason goes to school, and then to college, graduating in record time, but doesn’t have clearance yet for fieldwork, from Tony, the Avengers, or the U.N.
Those that know about Jason are few and far between, and those who know he is one of the most effective killers in the United States even more so.
That is, until after the events of Civil War.
Captain America’s shield is melted down to create armor plating that becomes Jason’s Red Hood helmet, which he designs himself, with some help from Tony.
And then comes Peter Parker. So, upon Tony’s request, Jason goes back to school as ‘Todd’ and follows him as a protector, both as Todd and as the Red Hood.