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#the sentiment still makes me warm
bubmyg · 2 months ago
h the tweet i linked was originally a few cute cards with comforting yoongi quotes written on them,,,
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oh...
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schwarmerisch · 6 hours ago
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SICHERHEIT, XIAO
notes: yandere behavior, not s/fw, choking, toxic relationship
word count: 2.1k
Xiao’s got a little insecurity, you’ll remedy that won’t you?
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It was hard for you to make direct eye contact in the position you were forced in, you strained your neck to look up at him above you, the expression on his face made your heart sink to your stomach like a heavy weight. It was sullen, his lips were curled downwards, and his eyes looked like he was begging for something. 
You tried to lift yourself up, but the hand that pressed down on your chest kept you in your place. It hurt, as he pressed his weight down on your chest you nearly found it hard to breathe, it was strangled and uneven. Your body sank into the mattress below you, he was sitting on you, legs straddling your hips as he was arched over to keep you down on the plush bedding.
You did your best to convince him that he already had all of you, but you still ended up back to the beginning over and over again. You would end up back in your shared room at Wangshu Inn, with him poking and prodding out your assurance of love. 
You swore he himself was the coldness that the air brings. Whenever he came back to this, you got bitterly cold. Your body felt unbelievably frigid like a chilly breeze had just blown past you. His hand lifted some weight off of your chest but still kept you pinned under him. You struggled to take a deep breath, your gulps of air only coming out in desperate gasps.
Half of the time he’d act like his feelings for you were bothersome, like you were some great fault in his life. The other half would be spent in you drowning in Xiao’s insecurity. He wanted you, you knew that. He was desperate and starved, and you were willing to feed.
 “I don’t care if you think I’m greedy.”  he paused, adjusting his position so he could look you in the eyes. You’ve heard this exact sentence many times before. ‘I don’t care if you think I’m a monster, as long as you’re here with me.’ It was the act that this was all your fault.
His eyes were unblinking, dead straight on you. You suddenly felt another great chill shake through you. He began putting the pressure back on your chest. Your breath hitched in your throat, groaning from the ache. He was pressing nearly all the weight he could onto your ribcage, causing pain to surge stingingly throughout the entirety of your chest. The bitterness of the air shook through your entire body, a sweeping shiver coming over you. He stared down at you with a scowl as you fumbled to find words.
“But I can’t stand you looking at anyone else.”
His eyes- they were a predator's.
You promised him, that he had you, that you were his. You struggled to counter his odd dance of a discussion. Your voice spoke out to him, trying to reach him and convince him that you were there. His gaze seemed vacant, like a lost puppy desperately searching for its owner. You were sincere when you said it, you had meant every bit of it. "I love you."
He wanted to curse himself for how warm he felt in the chest. His heart pounding at the mere sentiment. How had a mortal wrapped him so finely around their finger? All of his karmic debt accumulated to this. A selfish love in which he could never be sated.
His hand lifted from your chest, and you took a deep, shaky breath as your body felt a wave of alleviation at the pressure being relieved from you. It didn't last for long though, as his slender fingers and thumb curled around the delicate skin of your neck. His eyes gleamed over as he squeezed your slender throat, causing you to choke on a gasp from the sudden constriction.
He failed to suppress a slight smile as he watched you tremble. You wheezed and whined as your airflow was obstructed by the adepti. You panted as his grip tightened again, a subtle blush flushing over him. Your eyes glistened, brimming with tears, yet you didn't attempt to stop him. Your cheeks heated in flush, his eyes were half-lidded as he watched you in adoration, a crooked smile becoming more apparent on his lips.
This was one of the only moments you could see him smile, when he was exercising his control over you.
“Am I the only one?”
"You're the only one I love," you spoke when he stopped to let you breathe, you answered quickly as to not be interrupted by another constriction. His cold fingertips against the porcelain flesh of your throat, his eyes glazed over in a haze as he treasured every expression that brushed over you. Parted lips and tear-rimmed eyes, begging for a release. Choked exhales made it past your lips, your breaths coming in broken and uneven parts as his grip would tighten around your slender neck. Tears welled up, threatening to spill with every constriction.
"You’re pretty like this," he mumbled at himself, so quietly you were sure he didn’t actually want you to hear it. Adoringly, his eyes gaped at you and held a strong sense of fondness. "Do you... like it when I choke you?" He put more pressure onto your dainty throat. He could feel your pulse pump against his fingers, counting the beats of your frantic heart. "Your heart is beating so fast, are you excited?" you felt something pool inside you as he spoke, your blood boiled falling upon his greedy stare.
His fingers released from the fragile flesh of your neck, and you took a much-needed breath, your chest heaving as you attempted to gain back the air you had lost.  You leaned up on your forearms, steadying yourself as you pushed up on the mattress so you and XIao were at eye level, and he was essentially sitting on your lap.
His hand reached for your wrist, latching onto the hand that once held your throat. He was leering at you with an inscrutable gaze. He slowly dragged your hand down your lap. Your eyes followed his hand the whole way.
"You should take responsibility."  his way of speaking coupled with the actual intent of his words sent jolts through you. He had further guided your wrist towards him, letting your open palm rest on his crotch. The way he looked at you... He was just like a wounded puppy, needy for any attention you could give him.
You still couldn't wrap your head around what he was upset about, but it probably didn't matter much anyway. He wanted your unwavering attention, he wanted validation, he wanted you. You could tell from the way he twitched at your warm touch, he was aching for you. You wasted no time in getting to work. Those puppy-dog eyes of his: they were predatory in the way they burned into you. His gaze forever engraining itself in you, and the image of you scorching itself into every corner of his mind.
Your hands made quick work of his pants, hastily undoing his belt and sloppily letting the metal clank to the floor. You tugged his bottoms down his hips so that they rested just below his waistline. Your body was trembling, no matter how many times he had taken you, you could never seem to let go of that initial uncertainty and embarrassment. His hand came to awkwardly pet your hair, his finger brushing through locks in an act of what you assumed to be adoration.
He was jumpy, twitching as your hand came closer to him. His body was starving and hungry for your touch. He was already like this and you hadn't even begun. Once your fingers had finally reached for the hem of his underwear you could audibly hear his breath hitch. 
He was so overly sensitive to all of the impressions you made onto his body. The warmth that you held that his body longed to steal, his patience was dwindling for it. You were teasing him, playing with the hem of his underwear, sliding your hands underneath but not far enough.
Anything to be sure he knew he was appreciated.
Xiao groaned as he was finally released from the tight restraint, his member springing free from the cloth, already wet with precum. You paused and wondered if him choking you really got him off that much. It was a passing thought, as Xiao seemed to get impatient with your continuing hesitation. No matter how many times you've been together, you couldn't help but tremble.
His hand grabbed a fist full of your locks, bringing your head closer to his leaking cock.
“Suck.”  You gently nudged his legs further apart and slid yourself between. You lifted your eyes to him, and his expression sent a shocking tremor down and throughout you. A deep rosy hue spread across cheek to cheek and his lips hung open by only a slight margin, just to allow his soft pants through. Once you locked gazes with your lover you took a slow tentative lick up his shaft, languidly dragging your tongue over the tip. "Gnn-... Aahn..."
For a man as serious as he was, you could have never expected him to be so loud. A bit of precum dribbled from his tip, so you lifted slightly, running your tongue along his shaft before flicking against the tip, lapping him up. Your eyes stayed glued to Xiao’s face. You watched him carefully as you pleasured him. Still hesitant as ever, you watched for every indication that you were doing something right. To him, it didn't really matter what you were doing, as long as he could get drunk off touching you.
Xiao bunched the fabric of the bedding with the hand that wasn't tenderly entangled within your hair. Looking up at him, he was mostly still aside from the frequent trembling of his lower lip. Once you had taken the leap and slipped an inch or two or him between your lips he began to lightly roll into your mouth. You brought your hands to his trembling hips, placing them there steady yourself as you took him deeper. His head fell back and he groaned your name.
"You’re so good to me... ahh." his eyes were laser-focused on you, half-lidded and begging you for more. You gripped the parts of him you couldn't fit in your mouth and tugged in an upward motion, wanting to hear more of the plethora of pleasured noises Xiao gave to you. You removed your hand and took him as deep as possible. You could feel him twitch inside you and his fingers tightened their grip on your locks. You wanted to hear more.
His moans almost came in unison with your bobbing head. The light rolling of his hips suddenly picked up its pace, so much so that you couldn't keep up with his sudden erratic movements. You rolled your eyes to the back of your head, trying to put aside your gag reflex for him. You could feel his tip hitting the back of your throat, Xiao forcing himself deeper than you could've ever taken him on your own.
He was close, you could feel it in the way he twitched deep within your throat. That would explain the abrupt desperation of his thrusting. You couldn't bring yourself up to suck with him if you tried, he pushed your head down so far on his cock that you couldn't help but choke a little.
With a few more frantic rolls of hips into your mouth, he reached his peak. With a loud final cry, he released inside your throat, ropes of his cum shooting down your throat. You swallowed down every bit of your lover's seed without a second thought, letting your conscience aside so you could swallow without being bothered by the taste.
You slowly lifted yourself from his member, a popping sound resonating as his member slipped from your lips. You were left teary-eyed and worn out. You looked at him and he still had that same absolutely smitten expression. He pulled you to his chest and hugged with an iron tight grip, soaking up all the warmth he could still get from you. He kept you firm against his chest, holding you like he'd die if he let go.
"I may have to not let you look another person again." and with those cryptic words, he left a fluttering kiss on your lips. Your eyes trailed to meet his once more. "I’ll let you cum if you apologize a bit more."
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urlocalllama · 16 hours ago
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Shadows of Doubt
Possessive AU by Emily aka @urlocalllama
Macaque is truly, deeply in love with Sun Wukong. He desperately loves his adoptive son, Mk, more than he ever thought possible. He would do anything to keep them happy. To keep them safe.
Anything.
Content/Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault Mention (the villain is described as wanting to use another character for sexual purposes), Blood Description
Macaque hadn't slept since he found out about Wang Kunhuo calling Mk.
He was apparently quite good at faking it, because Wukong was sleeping peacefully next to him and Mk hadn't stirred once.
He gently pulled Wukong closer to him, trying to close his eyes and let his breathing lull him to sleep, but it was to no avail.
Mk snorted in his sleep, rolling over. He was still healing from his burns, so he was particularly tired. His body worked as hard as he did to heal him.
They were going to be alright, Macaque… one phone call wasn't a guarantee that things were getting dangerous, Macaque… go to sleep Macaque…
Wukong's phone started vibrating. He snatched it off the side table before it could wake him up. He retreated into the bathroom with it, making sure not to wake up either of his loved ones.
Making the door soundproof, disguising his voice, and taking a steely breath he answered Wang Kunhuo's phone call.
"Wukong, is it really you?" Kunhuo asked hopefully.
Macaque let him sit in silence for a few seconds, prompting him to beg, "Please tell me it's you! I need your help! I'm desperate!"
"...say it is Wukong," Macaque said in Wukong's voice, making it sound like Wukong was trying to disguise his voice, "What would you tell me?"
"It's Lady Bone Demon! She's been taking over my estates, killing my servants by the dozen! I can't fight against her! Please, I am begging you! Hurry!"
It was a trap. It had to be a trap. There was no way it wasn't a trap.
And it was a really fucking clever trap.
If it really were Wukong on the other end of the phone, he'd have thought that any victim of Lady Bone Demon should be rescued, and it was worth the risk that it was a trap. Incredibly noble sentiment.
But Macaque wasn't noble. He was sneaky.
"And what will I get from helping you, hm? You've done enough to damage my trust in you."
"I will surrender my surviving estate!" Kunhuo gasped, "I will be a demon king no more! Please, they're all suffering!"
Macaque had a choice…
And he hoped he'd made the right decision.
<><><><><>
"Good morning, love..." Macaque whispered into Wukong's ear.
Wukong cracked an eye open, smiling warmly at his loved one.
Who was already out of bed...?
"What's got you looking sunshine-y today?"
"Well, I somehow ended up awake at a surprising nine am. Decided to get an early start. I'm still a night owl, but when I can take my mornings I'll take them! And, babe... it's noon."
Huh?!
He reached over and grabbed his phone, fumbling with it a little. It seems like he didn't put it in his usual spot last night, but that's fine. Probably just dropped it there without thinking.
Sure enough, it was 12:07 pm.
"You didn't- I just slept?"
"Of course! You've been..." Macaque started to look sad, "You've been getting more and more tired as of late. I..."
"...My powers disappearing is becoming really noticeable, hasn't it?"
Macaque nodded, "Even with them fading, you're still a powerful fighter. And so the group all agreed that we'd let you sleep when we could... preserve as much of that energy as possible."
"Yup!" Mk walked into the room, face almost hidden by food piled onto a large tray, "Powerful, powerless, anywhere in between, you're like, crazy important to us. And we love you!"
Macaque helped Mk unfold the legs of the tray and set it in front of Wukong.
All of his favorite foods were piled on it, from a warm noodle bowl of hot and dry noodles to fluffy bao to jian bing filled with a savory omelet-like egg mixture. A small cup of tofu pudding topped with brown sugar syrup and sliced peaches sat next to a cup of fragrant chamomile and peach tea.
He giggled a little when he also noticed that his favorite trashy American breakfast cereal with marshmallows was also on the pile, a little jug of milk next to it. They knew him too well.
"Y-you guys..." He stammered, overwhelmed with love, "Wh- you didn't have to do this... I'm just... me."
"Uh." Mei poked her head into the room, followed by the rest of the Brotherhood and Red Son, "No. You're like, the coolest weird uncle I have ever had. I like, adore you or some other corny shit!"
"And you, with the others, have been really kind to me when I joined your journey," Red Son added, shuffling his feat, "I was worried - we had been enemies in the past, and I thought I'd just get ignored. But that didn't happen!"
"Besides, we've been wanting to do this for a while," Wujing added, Sanzang and Bajie nodding with him, "You've been really lonely for a long time, and it was partially our fault. We wanted to make it up to you, let you know that we love you!"
"Now, are you gonna eat your damn food?" Bajie chuckled, "Mk and Macaque worked hard on pulling that all together, nearly leaving the kitchen in a disaster!"
Wukong could just smile. Then he dug in enthusiastically.
His heart warmed even more when Macaque let him lean on him, gently stroking his hair, and Mk gave him a big kiss on the cheek before running off with Red Son. He had heard the two of them were working on an art project together, something about writing a story then making the mech from the story?
This... this is why he kept fighting. This is why he worked so hard to provide and protect. This is why he needed to defeat Lady Bone Demon.
This was worth fighting for.
<><><><><>
Wukong let Bajie clamp a hand over his eyes when The Yellow Wind Demon blew a strong gust of his signature Samadhi wind at them.
They were all wearing safety glasses Wujing had created, but the demon had stolen the glasses right off of Wukong's face with the intent of blinding him again.
"Oh, so you think you can keep my revenge away by escaping with your precious monkey?" It hissed, bolting towards Bajie and Wukong when it noticed that Bajie was trying to get him off the battlefield.
"Not today, bitch!" Mk shouted, swinging his bo staff at the demon and knocking it away.
Wukong peeked through Bajie's fingers as he watched Mei, Red Son, and Mk all jump on Yellow Wind Demon. He desperately tried to throw them off, but they were simply too coordinated in their attacks.
He managed to catch a glimpse of Macaque and Wujing, fighting Yellow Wind Demon's tiger minion. Wujing tanked hits from the bastard, while Macaque slipped in and attacked quickly and sped off before it could counter attack.
Macaque seemed even more capable of his shadow magic. Almost like he himself was an actual shadow... then again, he had seen him training with Bajie and Mk, so there was no doubt that he had managed to increase his skills.
The wind died down, and Bajie let Wukong go while he himself rushed into battle. Wukong drew his sword and charged at the tiger demon, slicing it's arm off after it narrowly missed attacking Macaque.
It howled in pain, lashing out at Wukong in a blind rage. He avoided it's attacks while Macaque slipped up behind it and stabbed it through the heart.
It collapsed immediately, and it's body faded away into fine dust.
Demons. Their deaths had to be so dramatic. Couldn't even bother leaving a corpse behind.
He heard a sickening crunch, and he turned around to find that Mk had successfully subdued Yellow Wind Demon.
With that, it's glamour shattered like glass. It had returned to it's original form as a ferret-like marten.
Mk reached down and picked it up by the scruff of it's neck, saying "Sucks, doesn't it? You paint yourself as bigger and badder than you are, go on a violent power trip, only to find out that you were exactly the same as you were before."
"Now," Mk said wisely, avoiding the marten as it kicked and screamed, "I could give you the wise and sage advice that to become more powerful, you need to better yourself. But, well, you just tried to kill me."
Mk grinned evilly, said "Sayonara, fucker!" then tossed the marten into the air then drop kicked it over the mountain.
"THAT'S our Mk!" Bajie cheered, affectionately slapping him on the back.
Before, Mk would've stumbled over with that kind of force. But now, he just kind of leaned over, feet still firmly planted on the ground.
He was growing so much!
"So, did we get what we came for?" Wukong asked, and Mei nodded. She held up the bag she had filled with pieces of sacred flint.
"All according to plan!" Macaque smiled, "Just to remind me, we are currently how far from you guys' city?"
"About 30,000 miles!" Wujing answered.
Macaque nodded, "We've really gone far, haven't we? And it'll be all worth it!"
Wukong had a prickling feeling that Macaque had a double meaning to his words. He'll ask him about it later... maybe he was just being sentimental.
Or he was brooding.
Edgelord. But, like, his edgelord.
They made their way back to the ship, Wujing and Mei securing the flint so they could use it later.
"Shall we relax?" Macaque murmured in his ear, and he allowed Macaque to guide him onto the front deck and to some relaxing stretches.
When they were done, they sat down next to each other, lightly holding each other's hand.
"Peaches?"
"Hm?"
"Have you ever thought about... tying the knot, someday?"
"I... no, I... I've seen other's weddings. I've married my monkeys when they decided to make their relationships more formal. They're so beautiful and... well, I just never thought I'd be in the position to get married."
"Never saw yourself in a wedding dress?"
"I guess not. I... don't see my self as marry-able. I have... a lot of issues. With abandonment. And self doubt. And... well, ghosting people I guess. I get so anxious when developing relationships, that I get scared that if they got to know me further... they'd leave. So I... left first."
"...You know that I already know you like that, right?"
"I-I know. Probably why... this relationship was so easy. I... I don't want to be a burden on you. Even if I wasn't losing my powers, putting up with me is a full-time job. It's why I tried to keep my distance with Mk at first."
"Sounds like I know what my career of choice is, then."
"Pfft, aw you don't have to-"
"No, for real! I was... I had been so filled with anger against you before. So I was blinded to the fact that you would work for me. And... you have. You do! I've never been happier than when I spend time with you!"
Wukong blushed a little, "I... if you're ever going to propose to me... please wait until Lady Bone Demon is defeated. I don't want to have that big decision on my mind."
Macaque looked a little crestfallen, but he could see understanding in his eyes, "I cannot stress enough how I completely understand. This is hard! This has been hard! Lady Bone Demon's been conquering and corrupting almost everything, trying to wipe you from the world's permanent ledger... dealing with all your stress and trauma, having to face it down... that asshole Wang Kunhuo not leaving you alone..."
Macaque had an ugly sneer on his face when he said Kunhuo's name. Wukong could see that he was extremely protective of him and Mk regarding Kunhuo... he's actually felt how dehumanizing and perverted it felt when Kunhuo looked at him from disguising himself as him a couple months ago.
Macaque knew how badly Kunhuo wanted to turn Wukong into his personal sex toy.
"Yeah," Wukong agreed, "It's been hard. But y'know..."
"Hm?"
"When you do ask... for my hand in marriage... I think I might say yes."
Macaque's face lit up, and he enthusiastically kissed him.
It was so warm, so soft... he almost didn't notice that Macaque didn't taste like anything now.
But he did notice. The fruity taste of mangoes was completely absent.
"Macaque..." Wukong asked.
"What? What did I do?"
"Is this a shadow clone?"
"No! No it's not!"
"Theeen why does your mouth taste like nothing? And I mean, like nothing?!"
"I scrubbed my teeth this morning! Like, really scrubbed them!"
"You'd still taste like a mouth tastes... or like your toothpaste, which I know you use an incredibly strong minty toothpaste."
Macaque didn't answer, his eyes wide.
"Y'know what? Let's go get a second opinion."
Wukong dragged Macaque to the living room, despite his protests.
"So!" Wukong sat Macaque down, "Can anyone tell me what Macaque did this morning?"
"Uh oh, is Macaque in trouble?" Mei teased.
"Yes, and to a serious degree."
"Uh oh," Red Son mumbled.
"Well," Wujing raised his hand, "I saw him at 8:30 this morning in the kitchen. He was eating a breakfast, looking a bit like a zombie."
"And I saw him in the kitchen when we were making you breakfast," Mk added, "That was around 10 this morning."
"Did you happen to see anything he did before he left our room, Mk?"
"Uh... no... wait! I remember that at, like, 7am he got up and left the cabin. He came back a few minutes later with a snack... but for some reason he kinda blended into the shadows of the room. I figured it was still fairly dark, so I just went back to sleep."
Macaque was starting to sweat.
"Like a shadow you say...?" Wukong hissed, giving Macaque a look.
"I-I was just hungry!" He blurted out, "Can't a monkey get a snack?!"
"So uh... what are you trying to determine?" Sanzang asked.
"Someone..." Wukong dramatically waved his arm as he pointed at Macaque, "Has replaced himself with a shadow clone. And said shadow clone is ~denying it~ like crazy."
"Macaque!" Mk accused, "Really?!"
"I-I-I can explain," Macaque stood up, holding his hands out to Wukong like he was going to hold his.
"Oh, so you admit that you're a shadow clone, huh?"
Macaque sputtered, the nodded, "I-I really can explain. I promise..."
"Well go ahead!"
Macaque opened his mouth, getting out "Last night there was a-" before he screamed in pain and fell to the ground.
His shadow's limbs started twisting into horrible contortions, tears dripping out of it's eyes.
"L-listen I... I had to, okay?! H-he called you... he actually got y-your phone number... and he tried to lay a t-t-trap..." The shadow gasped, desperately trying to pull itself together. It's feet started to look translucent.
"I couldn't... I couldn't... let him... so I pretended I was you again... and-and-and went instead... I thought... I thought I would be back by now...
"B-but I won't... I won't be back anytime soon..." The shadow started crying harder, then it's clothes started getting soaked in blood and his tears turned bloody, "I'm sorry! I'm so sorry!!"
"Please, keep yourself and Mk safe. Don't-don't worry about me, just defeat Lady Bone Demon..." "NO!"
Wukong reached down and tried to grab the shadow so it looked at him, but it was fading away faster, "No, you can't! Explain! Explain now! Why is your clone disappearing?!"
"Because... because I'm being broken," The shadow mumbled, it's eyes starting to roll back in it's head, "The Demon King... of Confusion... really doesn't like it when... I pretend I'm you..."
Then the shadow flopped over and faded away.
Mk screamed, and the other's rushed forward.
"Wukong! What was he talking about?!" Bajie reached out and turned his face to him, "What have you not been telling us?!"
"It's... it's Wang Kunhuo..." Mk whispered, "He's been hunting us down for months..."
"WHAT?!" Everyone else burst out.
Bajie turned his attention to Mk, who started tearfully explaining the situation.
Wukong then lost his focus on his surroundings.
The Demon King of Confusion was torturing The Six Eared Macaque.
And it was happening because his sweet Mango wanted to protect him.
He gave himself up... for him.
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amagicjessica · 16 hours ago
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I wrote this when I was 25, living in a small, old, house on a street with even older trees that turned unrealistically orange in the fall. I wrote it about a boy who doesn't really matter at all in the grand scheme of my life.. But, the sentiments I wanted to share with him resound much more wholely with me trying to reach my own self now.
And I don't know when the disconnect began in me. The hurt. The part that got infected and infected the rest of me.
Is this growing up? Is this accepting adult disappointments?
Or am I just so lost because I lost all of my anchors.
“People need to spend time alone, Jess. To figure out who they are. Figure out who you are.”
----------------
16,
So my house is quiet a lot. In a strange way. Light pours in strongly in one area, one room, but then it is so dark in others. I sit still and watch the way it all moves.
And it’s just me, mainly.
There’s my roommate, of course. She has a boyfriend who cooks her dinner every night and sometimes she comes home and tells me about lobster and steak. I’m happy for her. God, I am. It just feels like those sped up videos of people standing in Central Station as people move quickly around them. I smile, I nod, I listen as her bedroom door shuts so soon after the front door opens, and she’s in bed.
There’s school. I spend 60 hours a week with the same people. The same scientific, driven, type-A, 97 people. And I will for four years. We walk the same halls. We sit in the same seats every day. It’s something of a screen shot into modern art the way we interact on surface levels, but never try and connect. It’s too competitive. Too unsympathetic. Too... Sterile.
Sometimes, when I come back to that shadow/light, quiet, non-sterile home and drop my backpack to the floor, I can feel an extra layer of thick skin peel off with it. Some thick shell that I feel the weight of for the business hours, but it never does anything useful. Like keep me warm.
I don’t know why I wear it every day. I just know one day I went to school and I left it at home. Everyone else was wearing theirs and it was as if I had gone to school in one of those nightmares of being naked and exposed. I guess I had, in a way. Now, I make sure to wear it.
I don’t get a lot of days to myself. I’m not really sure if that’s a gift or not. When I am covered up in school, it usually just feels as if I’m drowning. When I’m free, I can feel my lungs again.. But, I’m suddenly not really sure why I have them. I guess we make each other work. There’s some purpose in that. In a way.
Last night I came home and I read a book on my patio for a while. I thought maybe the sun would touch me differently if I was outside, you know? It’s something our Moms always talked about when we were little and I’ve carried it with me. Even if now I am old enough to know about 7-Dehydrocholestrol and how easily it converts to Vitamin D.
I got cold. But I stayed there watching the leaves and the wind thinking about the thick skin I left on the floor of my bedroom next to my backpack. Maybe it did try keep me warm, in a way. Maybe I just wasn’t grateful enough for it.
I looked up and my neighbor across the street was out skate boarding again. We have a weird way of trying to pretend we don’t see each other even though our houses are so close. He’s in his mid 30s with two kids and a wife. He doesn’t even look like the kind of person to skate board, but he does it every night for an hour. Just him. No family. No kids. No music in his ears. Always leaving at dusk. Always coming home after its dark. My roommate and I have sat and watched him before through the window. We talked a lot about what that must be like to be him. I have always quietly thought that maybe him and I peel off the same thick skin clothing every day. Except his lays next to a tie, not a backpack. Maybe we make each other uncomfortable because we both sense the same sort of creature in each other. Me, watching shadows. Him, off trying to chase some sort of light.
I ended up closing my book and going inside. The only thing worse than being startled by your own reflection in someone else is watching it as it moves by.
I know you tell me a lot to get out of my own head. I don’t know what that means, really. I can infer what it means for you. But, what would that look like for me? How do I even begin.
It’s not that I suppose I wasn’t willing to try it. This being alone thing. This forced sort of trying to find myself event. It’s just that I don’t think you understand what it is already like. With the pressure I’m under. With the ways I love people and try to support them. I am a structure that is constantly degrading and rebuilding –always maintaining integrity. A constant, stable, equilibrium. I’ve supported myself for so long. I have to. And I know you know what that’s like.
But if you don’t... Well. How can you say I don’t know my own self when I’ve been putting it back together every day? I know all of these shadow/light, quiet, non-sterile, pieces. Every one.
So.
I know you’re going away. I know some friendships don’t always end with understanding. Closure doesn’t often come from 26 letters, but by the back of a shoulder. And I’ll be right here. Just fine. Knowing in the end it wasn’t me who didn’t know what they wanted. It was you. And I take quite a bit of comfort in that.
I hope you learn someday that the best things in one’s life don’t always begin with a tinder and end with you shutting a door behind somebody in the early mornings. Sometimes it begins with a girl, in a bar, telling you on your first night in town that you would always have a friend when you needed one. And knowing that sometimes it is the gentle weight of one person’s concern that can make all the difference in somebody’s life.
I’ll shut the door behind myself on the way out.
-        22.
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atypicalsenerio · a day ago
How do you repay someone who's given everything you've ever asked for, with or without your knowing?
Ike's not even half as smart as Soren. He knows this. All this while, he's relied on him for many things; his objectiveness, his tactical analysis, and has always, always counted on him to have a clear mind when he could not.
But Soren-- Soren is also a living, breathing person, and that makes him much more than that. The icy mage can get distracted, shows irritation, huffs (but he knows he's satisfied, perhaps even happy) and veils himself behind a wall of words that say everything about him and also nothing to those who don't quite know him. Soren tries-- very, very much.
The grains of time had piled up like a mountain, each a glimmering gold. Soren had given all of that to him, since day one. He'd not noticed, because he was silly. He'd noticed, but knew that any he could pay back was but a dim silver.
And then, he'd not paid back at all, and the grains had continued to trickle still.
Fingers run across the portrait that he'd been gifted. A memory of the past, a rallying cry.
But to him, wouldn't need something like this. Unlike Ike, who forgets, who blunders.
Because-- all this while, Soren has forged his own path, looking onward. Whatever that drives him had always been ahead of him, so a token of the past wouldn't be as meaningful.
The night passes. The day breaks.
A knock comes to the mage's door. Ike invites himself in, greets Soren with a warm smile and a nod.
"Happy birthday."
"I thought that this one out of the rest would be the most meaningful for you. I wish I could think of more, but-- here."
“My memory’s not as good as yours, but this is as close as I can remember.”
The crinkling of oil paper reveals a simple meal. It's nothing special-- slices of bread and lettuce and bacon. The taste wouldn't be the same; he's not his mother, and neither does he know well enough the taste of homecooked lunch. The best mimicry he can make of it is in its shoddy craftsmanship.
But it's as much as he can make.
"... And, I also thought about what I should do for next time."
A faint rustling, and fingers unfurl to reveal a band impressed with a seal, strung up with a line of rope.
“The signet rings gave me an idea. These are meant to be heated and pressed into rock, and they’ll leave stamp marks. So if you see this on a tree or a rock, you’ll know that I’ve been along the way. And—”
A faint tinkle, and Soren should feel cool metal land in his own palm.
“Here. There’s one for you, too. So it won’t be just you who’s looking the next time.”
He spends the rest of the time there he has with Soren, as long as the lamps allow. Eventually, they have to say goodbye to each other, and Ike waves goodbye, knowing that they'll see each other the next day.
The door creaks shut.
...
There’s also another reason for them. Ike presses his fist shut around the ring, feeling as if it would deform under his grip. It’s but an illusion of flesh, but held so tight, the ring feels like it gains warmth of its own.
Perhaps it truly does, for when Ike releases, letting the string catch on his finger, it turns, twirling like a pendulum, swinging one way and the other.
He holds it out. The swinging doesn’t stop, not for a long time. Ike catches it, and its head faces south—towards the door he’d come from.
It could just be his imagination.
But also; whilst in Castle Nados, there was some evidence left. There wasn’t enough to make good for a teleport, as much as Ike would have loved to, but with what he had, he’d put it in the rings.
It was mostly sentimental value. There shouldn’t be any effect with this little, but even if he couldn’t feel the reputed pull that the powder brings towards linking two points in space, perhaps the metal could.
Perhaps. It’s a little edge more, one more tiny patch for a gaping hole. A trinket at best.
But it's transcended it's purpose in the past, and taken on a new one for the future.
The ring lands in his palm, twinkling like an eye.
Ike still can't find an true answer to the question-- not now, and not still. He's not smart enough for something that slices down to the bone.
That was always more Soren's thing. He just barged in like a brute, and did what he thought worked best.
Perhaps that's his answer, this time. Because it's in the present, which ticks by like a leaky sieve.
If you can’t cut the truth in two; warming it up little by little--
Ike supposes-- Maybe, that’s fine, too.
All day long, there had been one person Soren wanted to see most on his birthday. They were close enough that Soren wouldn’t have minded if Ike was busy, they spent so many of their days together. It was with a softened smile that he welcomed Ike to his room, other gifts on his bed.
“Ike. Thank you. It has been. I wonder who let the date slip to everyone else. I have to admit I’m surprised by it.” This amount of casual attention, perhaps bordering on affection from others, people who mostly barely knew him, was too much to pass off as just flattery from someone trying to get their way or a favor returned to him. Being a part of a community and seeing it manifest in the smallest of ways in notes and trinkets had touched him in a way he hadn’t expected, nor voice directly to anyone else.
Ike, however, was the highlight of his day. Even empty handed, he would be. When all else faded, when it was no longer his birthday, he would still have Ike.
Perhaps the events of the day had him feeling especially sentimental. Soren took the offered sandwich, looking up at Ike. “This is how your mother used to make your lunch, isn’t it? It’s simple, but it really is my favorite meal. Perhaps your love of bacon is contagious,” he teased, voice gentle. “I might have a plain palette, but I wouldn’t change a thing about it. Funny, how the mind works,” he said fondly, taking a bite. There was nothing inherently special about the bread, lettuce, or bacon, but the memory attached made it all crisper, sweeter.
He set the sandwich down and turned his attention to the ring in Ike’s hand, watching it lower into his own palm. His heart skipped a beat at the association, foolishly, of rings and someone he cared for. (Who was the dense one here, anyway? Was it in fact, Soren? He was giving Ike’s history of being oblivious a real run for its money if he was…) Soren swallowed, a slight blush on his face as Ike explained. Hopefully, there would be no next time they were separated, but if there was—
“That’s brilliant. You’re brilliant. Thank you, Ike. I’ll guard mine well.” He slipped the ring on his finger to admire it, and felt the cord it was attached to. He raised his head, and he took a step forward.
A rush of affection carried him the rest of the short distance to Ike. Soren couldn’t remember initiating a hug before, but he did it before he could think, taking advantage of the chance to hide his warm face against Ike’s chest and cling to him in a display he didn’t want to hold back from anymore.
Every admittance and display of his flaws over the years, every conversation that had been a burst of what had always eaten away at him, the grounds for which anyone else would reject him, every part of himself or his background that had made him feel alone and unlovable— every syllable had been like asking Ike, ‘Are you sure you want me? Are you sure I’m worthy of being your friend? Are you sure, are you sure, are you sure?’ And every gesture, every answer from Ike had always been a confident, steady, ‘Yes’, as though Soren had never needed to ask at all, had never needed to fear his own vulnerable spots.
Soren squeezed Ike’s body in his smaller arms for a moment, hoping he was doing this whole hug thing right, overwhelmed and happier than he knew what to do with, for once overflowing with something other than painful memories and a silhouette that used to feel more shaped by old wounds and recurring rejection than his own lived life. “Thank you, Ike. For being here.” For being you, the only way you know how, so natural to you you don’t see how exceptional you are.
“I think I’d like to keep celebrating birthdays from now on.”
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24/7: Chapter One
Fandom: Sanders Sides
Ship: Romantic Loceit, Platonic Demus, Platonic Logicality 
Summary: James (aka Janus) works the graveyard shift at a open-all-night convenience store. Logan is a college student who stays up way too late, way too often. While pulling all-nighters, he often visits the store James works at. As time goes on, James begins to care about Logan as more than just a customer. 
Warnings: Moderate Language, Some suggestive jokes, Mentions of ignorant/negative sentiments regarding vitiligo, Mentions of intoxication— some implied to be underage (please tell me if anything needs to be added)
Genre: College AU, Coffeeshop AU but weird (that’s literally the best way i can think of describing it), Mutual Feelings, Fluff 
A/N: — Janus’ name in this AU is James (mostly because when I began planning this, his name hadn’t been revealed). I may still include his name by writing in a name-change but we’ll see lmao — I do not have vitiligo and do not personally know anyone with vitiligo; Janus’ experience with the condition is based entirely on my research. That being said, I did my best to give an accurate representation but I do not claim that it is flawless in anyway. If there are any improvements you think I can make in this area, please please let me know 🖤🖤🖤 Love you all 🖤✨
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James’ first shift started normally. That is, as normally as he could assume 24 hour convenience store shifts could be. It’s not like he had much experience with it.
Being his first day, he had assumed that the manager would’ve at least stuck around for a while. Instead, the woman had pointed out the bathroom plunger— advising him to not let anyone steal it— told him how to use the slushie machine, and said that if someone tried to rob the store, let them take the money; she even showed him the quickest way to open the cash register. Then she left within the first hour of James’ shift.
James didn’t mind being alone but he couldn’t fight down the frustration at his manager for abandoning him without actually telling him anything useful. He kept worrying that someone would ask a question that he couldn’t answer. What if the customer got angry and then he got reported and lost his job on the first night? Not to mention every time someone walked in, he was ready to bargain for his life with the $225.67 and a random condom in the cash register.
The adrenaline was getting to his head, stirring up usually dormant worries. He couldn’t stop glancing down at his hands. They were warm tan, patterned at random with lighter splotches. He had a condition known as vitiligo which made areas of his skin lose their pigmentation. For the majority of the time, it wasn’t a big deal; the worst part was the weird looks people gave him and even then, he could usually brush them off. Still, there was always the occasional idiot who felt the need to say something rude or inform him that he showed signs of demon possession. He hoped beyond everything that one of those incidents didn’t occur while he was alone in the store.
Thankfully, the only customers for the next few hours were a couple groups of teenagers at varying levels of intoxication and a traveling family made up of two parents suffering from highway-hypnosis and a small child who tried to climb into one of the drink refrigerators.
By one in the morning, the flow of incoming patrons had completely stopped. By that point James had already thrown back an entire 5-hour Energy drink and reorganized the chip rack— twice .
When the entry bell finally rang again at around two, James’ head was buzzing so badly he wasn’t sure if he had imagined the sound or not. A young man walked in— college aged with messy hair and glasses. He disappeared into the rows of brightly coloured plastic bags without a word and so quickly it made James once again question whether or not he was hallucinating.
It wasn’t until the man had made his way back to the counter, setting down a bag of chips and a couple energy drinks, that James was sure he existed. The man’s hair looked like it hadn’t been brushed in two days and his dark circles were so deep they could be seen from beneath his squared glasses. Yup, definitely a college student.  
Despite the obvious signs of exhaustion, the man was undeniably pretty. Counter to his tired scowl, his eyes were bright and alert, framing a sharp nose. The way he kept his strong chin tilted slightly upwards and walked with purpose gave him the appearance of someone who actually knew what he was doing with his life— so basically, the opposite of James.
James was hardly ever self conscious about his appearance but this man— this stupidly pretty, oddly perfect man— made James squirm just a little bit, made him wonder if he was living on one side of some scale while the customer lounged on the other side. James tried to shrugged it off, focusing on the items in front of him instead.
The man spent the entire interaction at the counter muttering to himself and never once making eye contact. It was a little strange, but he was cute and James was bored so he decided to just appreciate the entertainment while it lasted.
It wasn’t until James went to hand the man his receipt that he seemed to even become aware of James’ existence. James held out the thin slip of paper, apparently causing the man to flinch backwards. His reaction was strong enough to make James wonder if he was one of those people— the type that thought vitiligo was some sort of deadly, contagious disease.
His eyes darted up quickly, his gaze sharp as it scanned over James’ face, “You’re not the normal cashier.”
He was taken aback by the accusing tone in the man’s voice, “No, I guess I’m not? I just got hired; the other guy got let off… something about trying to steal the plunger.”
“Oh,” His face transformed into a noncommittal scowl that James simply could not read, “Expect me regularly.”
The man turned on his heels and walked briskly to the door as James stood frozen and mystified behind the counter, “Oh, uh… see you soon then.”
——————
James woke up to the smell of something burning. He didn’t even remember dragging himself home and collapsing in his bed but based on the smell bothering him he evidently had made it back. No one could burn food quite like his roommate.
“Remus what the fuck are you doing?” James shuffled out to the kitchen where his roommate was poking at something on the stove.
“Making lunch.”
Based on his bed head and near-complete lack of clothes (Remus always slept in booty shorts and nothing else) James could guess that he had woken up only a few minutes earlier himself, “Dude that does not smell like anything humans should eat.”
Remus gave him a wicked grin and James decided not to push the subject. He walked out of the room with a sigh and hoped that the smell would clear up soon.
He made his way into the living room, sitting down and flipping open his laptop. James groaned at the lack of new email notifications. No new emails meant no new job acceptions.
“Guess I’m working the night shift again.”
James was grateful he got the job at the convenience store— no question. Getting a job as a college dropout was both necessary and nearly impossible at the same time. He was lucky to get a job at all and being a graveyard shift, he got paid nearly double the normal wage for his position. For now, his sleep schedule would just have to suffer.
——————
The weeks drifted by and James fell into a dull, but easy rhythm. He would go to work every night, spend the hours rearranging chip bags, guarding the plunger, and— if he was lucky— the pretty college boy would come in for a few minutes to grab salty food and a caffeinated drink.
James wasn’t sure when it became “lucky” for the man to come into the store. Maybe it was lucky because he was entertaining, always preoccupied and wandering around the store like his mind was a hundred miles away. He had this odd sort of duality— somehow both spaced out and intensely focused at the same time. It was like he was concentrating on the dimension beyond the one James was living in. He floated through this world, always preoccupied with world in his head. It was endearing and intriguing and James found himself looking forward to seeing the man. James wanted to see the world inside his head, to know what was so captivating that he had no use or interest for what was outside of it.  
The student was quickly becoming his favourite customer— something James never thought he would have— and he genuinely enjoyed having a chance to talk to the other guy. He was handsome, obviously intelligent, and, if given the chance, James definitely would’ve asked him out for a drink.
As it was though, James looked awful in his uniform so he would never have the confidence to make a move the only times he ever saw him.
James started to watch for him. The man came at least once a week, always between midnight and four in the morning. He must have lived nearby because he always walked over instead of taking a car like most of the other patrons. Either that, or he lived further away and walked all the way just for a bag of chips and an energy drink.
It was a Thursday like any other when he walked into the store and James’ curiosity got the better of him.
“So,” James leaned across the counter as the man sat his items down, “you come around here often?”
He tilted his head quizzically, “Yes? I do come here often? You’ve seen me.”
“No I— it was a joke,” James resisted the urge to pinch the bridge of his nose. This was… not going the way James would have hoped, “What’s your name? We might as well get on first name basis since we see each other all the time.”
“I’m Logan,” Logan seemed surprised by the question.
“I’m James.”
Logan gave a curt nod, “I know.”
“But— how? I—“
“It’s on your name tag,” And with that, Logan turned and marched out of the store.
——————
Logan laid on his back, arms and legs spread over the entirety of his bed. The only leftover space of the bed was occupied by Patton, one of his housemates.
“So how did the all-nighter go?”
Logan groaned, “Well… it sure as hell did go all night. I’m so fucking tired.”
“This is what you get for viewing the entire American university system as a challenge.”
He squinted up at Patton. With his blond hair and round, smiling face he looked like the direct inversion of whatever pale little zombie Logan currently felt like, “I gotta stop staying up so late.”
“I don’t know, you kind of seem to like it,” His housemate patted his leg and stood up to walk out of Logan’s room, “By the way, where do you keep going? I hear you leaving the house, like, super early all the time.”
Sunlight was streaming through his partially open blinds. It was probably quite pretty but to Logan it just looked like a headache-inducing glare. He threw a pillow over his face, muffling his voice as he answered, “Booty call.”
Patton laughed as he stopped walking, “Yeah right. The day you answer a booty call is the day I will shave my head.”
Logan shifted the pillow slightly to look at Patton again. The man’s hair was his prize possession, like a curly fluffy cloud that he kept as a pet on top of his head. Logan didn’t know how Patton could afford the time and money he put into his hair. What he did know, however, was that Patton would never risk its safety. Logan frowned in (mostly) fake insult, “You really think there’s not a single person who would send me a horny text at three in the morning?”
“Nah I think there are quite a few people who would do that. I just doubt there’s anyone you’d actually find worth answering.”
Was there anyone he would actually answer? Logan stared up at the dark fabric above him. The pillowcase was a deep navy blue and if he really squinted, he could see the weave of the thread, a thousand random threads coming together to make a greater whole. The way the individual pieces created something far larger than themselves was fascinating to Logan. He had never given it much before, but he couldn’t help but wonder if he would ever find a random individual worth making something together.
In the darkness covering his eyes, a vision of the convenience store cashier flashed across his mind. The face he saw was light brown and across that warm canvas, lighter portions sprawled. For the first time, Logan began really thinking about that face. He had sharp features, tired eyes, and when he smiled with lips sloped upwards at a lopsided angle. His skin reminded Logan of the glossy photos of nebulae in his astronomy textbooks— bright splashes breaking up the sameness of the night sky. How had he never noticed that before? What was his name? James.
He heard the creak of their old floors beneath Patton as he walked out of Logan’s room. He probably thought Logan had fallen asleep as he lay there in silence. He was far from asleep, though. His mind was racing, trying to find the missed connections and continually finding new ones in the process. His eyes flickered as previously unrecognized thoughts began surfacing. And they didn’t stop. How had he never noticed?
“I’ve been going to that convenience store down the street,” Logan called as Patton walked away.
James.
Maybe there was someone for him.
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24/7 Taglist: @imma-potatoo
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washingxmentality · 2 days ago
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[ @bloodxfanatiic — cont. from ♡ ]
There was definitely something too good to be true when it came to his relationship with Himiko. Sure, being a part of Fat Gum’s interns meant he now had a group of supportive friends. But something was just different with her, from the moment he’d relit the desire to become a hero in her. He’d always remember that night when he was walking home from UA, only to stumble upon her while taking a shortcut through an alley. Seeing how defensive, yet scared she was. Her desperately wanting him to get away so she couldn’t hurt him with her Quirk. Oh. Now that’d struck a nerve. Painfully similar experiences of his own involving those exact phrases. Fearing what one’s Quirk could do, not wanting to harm anyone or be viewed as anything bad. 
Now, Shinsou didn’t feel sympathy that often. Especially not for those flashier, traditionally heroic kids around UA. But now? He was essentially being flooded with empathy this time. Finding someone with an equally-judged Quirk, and finding out she’d also faced the same discrimination. Others wanting her to seem as normal as possible. Suppress her Quirk as though it didn't even exist. Her own parents, even, having that view of her. 
That, that made his blood boil. Never had he felt such fury and heartache for someone he’d only just met. But this encounter was special. More special than he’d realize at the time.
Never had someone bothered to get to know him as well as she did, let alone him letting anyone get as close as she did in the first place. The idea of a relationship was both something terrifying and something he secretly desired, despite him constantly insisting he was better off alone... because he couldn’t get hurt that way. But with her? There was this almost immediate connection with their Quirks being both unfairly discriminated against, winding up being the cornerstone for the friendship. One always jumping to the other’s defense, reassuring each other, and cheering each other on. 
All Shinsou had wanted was for someone to finally see things from his perspective, the perspective of being judged and needing to work ten times as hard compared to others who had a much smoother track to achieve a dream. And Himiko wound up being that person who saw things that exact way. That strong relatability and inspiration he found in her was undoubtedly one of the main reasons why he ended up falling for her. Not to mention her knack for making him smile. One would think her cheeriness and eagerness would annoy someone like him. But, oddly enough, it wound up being the exact thing he needed. It was something comforting, something he could fall back on. Even though he didn’t recognized his feelings as romantic at first. That had to be spelled out for him.
But did he love her? Of course he did. There was no denying that now. Shown in the warm smile that formed as he gave her hands a small squeeze, his previous anxiety lessening somewhat in his relaxing shoulders. Eyes locked with hers, he listened intently. It was good to know they shared the same sentiment in them finally having someone that truly knew them. After both of them being alone for most of their lives, subjected to constant scrutiny from others. Since he doubted he’d even find anyone who honestly understood. But now he had, and he couldn’t be more grateful. He gave a slow nod in response. “I never thought I’d hear someone call me that; their best friend. But... I’m happy you do, that you trust me enough to.” His voice was low, soft. Yet filled with far more emotion than he’d let anyone else witness. His eyes then widened at what she told him next, his classic surprised face showing itself. Before it ultimately softened. “I wish I had your optimism sometimes, but that’s still true. Maybe we can.”
Oh, okay, she was nervous as well. Understandable, but also relieving to know. Safe and happy. That was really all he wanted to make her feel. Those were two things he once thought as impossible for someone to feel around him. But Himiko proved him wrong. His Quirk’s a gentle one, a harm-avoiding one. He’s a deeply caring and dedicated person if one were to look close enough. At least, that was how she apparently viewed him. And he could say countless positive things about her in return.
“Alright. Friends first. Don’t think I’ll forget that.” A playful smirk appeared, before his face gained a more serious expression a few moments later. A hand tentatively reached over and rested against her cheek, momentarily pausing before officially doing so. There was an edge to his voice as he added, “I don’t want to make you feel anything but safe and happy. I’ve had nothing, and I mean nothing, like you in my life before. And I treasure you more than you’ll ever know. I’ll never regret saving you that night. I really want to get this thing right, like I said. I, I... love you so much, Himiko.” Were there tears gathering in his eyes? Maybe.
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teelagurl558 · 2 days ago
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Relocation
Chapter 3 of Elementary, Mr. Holmes
Other Chapters
word count: 3,800+ (I did a whole lot of revamping to this one, and combining scenes. this one is longwinded AF and has a bunch of plot movement to it so I apologize if it’s too much in one chapter.)
Warnings: break-in, attempted murder, unfamiliar panic from said situation, not knowing how tf feelings work
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I adjusted my rolled sleeves a little after letting down the box with a huff. The time on my watch surprised me, a bit later in the afternoon than I had suspected we would take given this task.
"Is that all?" John asked as he stepped back in through the door and set a few hangers of clothes atop a nearby chair. He seemed surprised, perhaps concerned.
We stood in the tiny main room of flat 221C, just below Sherlock's. I nodded at the small stack of boxes and duffel of clothes among Mrs. Hudson’s choice furniture; I didn't really hold much sentiment for material things, and being married to one’s work left home as a secondary habitat. John nodded with a quick, “Right then,” and headed back upstairs to Sherlock's flat, while Mary stepped in to help me unpack. The apartment was small--only a small bedroom, bathroom, and a main area with a kitchenette that served for everything else--perfect for someone like me to live alone. I didn't mind really, but Sherlock had said should I need anything to make myself at home in his flat upstairs as well.
Over the last few weeks, even with John back, the consulting detective and I had grown to be quite close friends. John and Mary both were delighted at this and with their kindness--along with my extreme gratitude for a female friend--I warmed up to them as well. I had spent much of the last near month with Sherlock bursting into my office at work to see if the cases were interesting enough to accompany me, or often just sweeping in to go with me somewhere on lunch break. He and John were present often with my job, and it was quite nice to have comrades to relieve the cloud of stupidity I felt surrounding me at a crime scene with Scotland Yard. Mary made sure I was getting established here among ‘all these blimey ruffians’, and soon I had met Mrs. Hudson as well, who had taken much more of a liking to me than I think Sherlock expected. It did, however, make it easier for him to convince her to let me rent her other flat, with only a moderately agonizing amount of ‘why doesn’t she just live with you, dear?’
Mary started unpacking bedding and setting up my room while I put away my clothes. The few small pieces of furniture were Mrs. Hudson’s, but I did have a few photos, several books, and my father's old Colt to sort of personalize the place. I almost never used it anymore, preferring my duty weapon from the Yard, but I still kept it. Staring at it in my palms, I huffed at myself for having an attachment to such an object, even if it was passed on to me in the old man’s endearing-yet-irritating emotional way.
"Well, that's it I guess," Mary said cheerfully, hands on her hips as she peered around. I nodded and smiled at the new flat, happy I had an opportunity to live on my own terms again. "Any celebratory plans tonight?" she asked, checking her phone.
"No, not really. I told my brother I’d give him a call when I got settled. Probably just read for a while and head up to Sherlock’s so we can have dinner and talk work. Usual, you know.”
She nodded, then looked up from her phone at me with a smile I found far too knowing. "You two seem pretty fond of each other now."
I cocked my head to the side and pondered that for a moment. "Well, yes, I suppose so. I rather enjoy his company. Keeps us both from getting bored, what with you two living away from him." With a nod of affirmation I stepped over to the bookshelf to adjust its contents.
"Oh, Y/n. I meant something a little more than that. I’ve never seen Sherlock warm up to someone this quickly," Mary cooed.
I stopped dead, hand with a book half-cocked off the shelf, and without facing her asked, "Are you insinuating that you think the Sherlock Holmes, a high-functioning sociopath such as myself, has feelings of sentiment for me?" I was agape at the thought. It was absurd. It was true that now I could say Sherlock was perhaps my best friend, yes, but we were both people who did not feel such things as sentiment and... love. It was astonishing even that we’d become such close companions at all.
"I am," Mary's words drifted into the air to hang without sinking in as she turned to leave the flat. "You may not see it, and probably he doesn't either. But there's something there in him that wasn't there before. And it’s good, for both of you, whatever it may be."
I turned out of my stiff pose to say something else, but she was gone, and I heard her footsteps out the open door heading towards her husband.
Pondering this scenario further, I sat on one of the two chairs I had in the house to enter my own sort of ‘mind palace’ as Sherlock called his. I sifted through Mary’s comments, as well as noting some of John’s from past days and Sherlock’s reactions to them in my mental notes. They were tucked away for later as I sighed, both mentally and physically.
Could Sherlock actually see something new in me? I doubted it was possible, just as I had doubted for years that it was possible for myself. But now, as I peeled my eyes open to glare at the floor wood grains, I realized that my reactions to these thoughts were entirely new. I decided it was as good a subject as any to discuss with my brother Thomas, considering he was more in-tune with the emotions department than I.
The phone rang only twice before the familiar young voice answered.
Thomas- "Hello, Y/n. How are you? How did the moving venture go?"
“I'm well, thank you Thomas. It went well, not as swift as I’d expected but not overbearing either. The half-flat below my friend I’ve told you about is comfortable, a good size for me. How are you faring?" As I spoke, I tried to emphasize the word ‘friend’ as I often did, hoping he would be pleased I wasn’t in social isolation. It was an odd thing for me to have to do, reporting that I was healthily sociable to my brother that I raised.
T- "Glad to hear you didn’t have trouble. I’m pretty well. Our dear stepmother is always a pain even from a distance, but University is treating me much better than home. What have you been up to with these friends? You said this Holmes fellow I keep seeing in the papers has introduced you to more.”
“Not much really. They like the work like I do. John and Sherlock come into the Yard or I see them out on scenes fairly often. Mary is the first woman friend I’ve had and liked since the neighbors when we were kids, and the landlady Mrs. Hudson is...charming, albeit overbearing. I suppose at this point I could count my boss Lestrade as well. He’s less irritating than the rest of my coworkers and I can tell he cares, even if he’s a little aloof.”
T- “I’m very glad to hear you’re getting along well. Perhaps I could come and visit when school breaks, and meet all these people that’ve somehow caught your interest...If I’m honest, I was sure you were lying when I heard you say your first friend was Sherlock bloody Holmes. But knowing you, I should’ve guessed you’d sniff out the local genius and that would be that.”
I smirked a little and let out a laugh, my earlier dilemma resurfacing. I tried to dodge it with another thought on instinct. “Well, yes. I’ve also been considering getting a dog. I remember how pleasant they were to have around at the estate back in the day. Perhaps a guardian breed, or one I could train for work...what was it Father used to keep?”
T- “Airedales, they were Airedale Terriers, but you’ll not distract me like that, my dear Sister. You’re troubled, what is it? A case been bugging you?"
I sighed and flopped back across my chair sideways, cursing myself for thinking my brother wouldn’t notice my habits. "It has been brought to my attention that I perhaps...am not as immune to sentimental feelings as I once thought. Mary suggested preposterously that Sherlock perhaps was growing fond of me in…in I suppose a romantic sense, and though I’m certain she has to be wrong, my natural reactions have been...less than in character.”
T- “Y/n, you said this Mary has known Sherlock for years, and her husband--John, was it?--has known him years more. Why would you think her statement preposterous? Tell me, dearest, what is it that you feel towards him?”
“I... I feel…” I stopped, having to stand and pace a moment. I knew Thomas was getting me to say these things so that I could lay out and work through my own thoughts, but it didn’t make it any less difficult. “He keeps me on my toes, keeps my head thinking. I like his company because it never grows dull as it does with other people. I feel...understood, in a way I haven’t really experienced before. And he speaks to me like an equal, which I’ve noticed he doesn’t do with most others, and is...quite gentler to me when we’re alone, than I’ve seen him be with anyone else. It makes me wonder if Mary was right or if it’s just my own new fondness hallucinating.”
T- "Well, dear Sister. I'm afraid it does seem as though it could blossom into something more, but how do you feel about it? You’ve always shied away from close bonds like this, but I want you to be okay with exploring it now."
“I think...I think I am okay. I don’t feel hurt, just a little confused since I never expected to be in this situation. I’m comfortable around him, Little Brother. I haven’t experienced that to this level since I lived with you. And his friends--our friends--they bring me joy. Moving here, away from...everything, at home...it’s given me opportunities I didn’t know I’d ever live to see. And I think perhaps this is one of those.”
T- "Oh, my dear Y/n, I’m happy at least you can share these things with me. I’ve wondered if I’d ever hear you say you felt such things. Judging his own for certain is going to be difficult, but you seem to be dealing with yours just fine. Call if you need me. I love you, best of luck."
"Same to you, Little Brother."
There was a click, and I rubbed my palm across my face with vigor, preparing to go upstairs for dinner. Damnation…
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"What in Hell is this?" Sherlock asked from the doorway. He got an excited yip from the creature before me in response.
"It is my way of both helping us find murderers and helping relieve me of boredom when you aren't around," I said, giving a scratch to the puppy's dark head. Sherlock stared at me for a moment, then grinned and chuckled. He shook his head and his dark curls jiggled for a moment, bending down to its level. The infant Doberman licked happily up his cheek as Sherlock bent to examine and pet him, earning a scrunched face of distaste from the detective. He smiled again however when the pup butted its head to Sherlock’s hand, and I hooked the leash to its collar.
"So you're serious then? What shall you name him?" he asked.
I nodded, walking determinedly out the door and into the street to walk him. The puppy followed beside me, panting cheerfully, and soon Sherlock caught up.
"I’m thinking something along the lines of Quatermain, or Nemo," I finally answered.
“A fan of Verne’s as well, are you?” Sherlock cocked his head and smirked. “Classic novels. Might I suggest Ishmael, or perhaps Jekyll?”
"Jekyll?" I asked, and Sherlock nodded with a look of pride in his eyes. I found myself quite pleased that he was impressed with my taste.
Thinking it over a moment and eyeing the gorgeous canine specimen at our feet, I nodded. “Jekyll sounds appropriate for a home dog I plan to train into a fighter on command.”
“I thought perhaps,” Sherlock stated. “I suppose it can't be all bad having him around, so long as you keep him well disciplined.”
I scoffed, "Yes, Mrs. Hudson." He rolled his eyes, but the corner of his mouth twitched in an almost smile, and continued walking with me to Scotland Yard before turning to leave.
"I'll be here for your lunch break at two, let me know if you've found anything," he called, and I waved in response. Lestrade immediately cast a wary glance at me and especially Jekyll as we passed to my office, but he didn't say anything. Anderson was about to open his mouth when a smirking Officer Donovan beat him to it. “I bet he’ll be real intimidating to the cracked out blokes you’re trying to catch, L/n.”
I made a "hmph" looking round the main office, before shutting the door to mine. Jekyll flopped over lazily in a corner and I began shuffling through the evidence of the latest case. It bored me to no end almost immediately as I recognized the simple open-and-close theft file, but continued through the stack of papers and emails for witness meeting requests I had to send.
I started filing paperwork to put Jekyll in K-9 Unit training classes, and occasionally the dark, floppy-eared puppy would come put his fat forepaws on my leg, wanting attention. I'd pat his head a little and with that reassurance he'd go back to his corner of the room and lay down, which gave me a good bit of hope for his temperament in future with my independent habits.
"Um, Y/n?" I heard from my doorway.
Without looking up from my laptop I uttered a muffled "Hmm?" through the pen in my teeth.
Lestrade shut the computer so I had to face him, much to my irritation until I scrutinized his expression. "You look both scared and angry. What did Anderson do that I'm about to beat him for?" I said, steepling my fingers. Lestrade scratched the back of his neck nervously before speaking.
"It’s worse than that, I’m afraid. The murderer from your first case with Sherlock, he... it seems that our officers thought they had him a few towns over, but it was a mistake. He's still at large. I need to know what you two’ve got on the suspect."
I swore. “What have you got these search parties doing, Greg? Sitting on their arses until some unlucky urchin runs by for them to grab?” My hands met my scalp in irritation as I reopened the laptop, pulling up the old file and showing it to my boss. He didn’t know how urgent this was.
“I cracked into the victim’s email, you know?” I said. He nodded.
“Right, that was how we ID’d the culprit, along with the blood samples.” Lestrade leaned onto my desk as I clicked through more pages and pointed.
“We think the criminal was working for someone bigger. He was corresponding with the victim in vague terms and code for a while before they met and things apparently went hairy. You see, Inspector, this is much bigger than you think and we need this man brought in for questioning yesterday to figure out who he was working for.” 
"Damn it,” Lestrade groaned, rubbing his face. “Alright, so likely the murderer was trying to recruit him and got a ‘No’?”
“You’re gaining brain function by mere exposure to us, Greg,” I encouraged bluntly, pulling emails together to try and crack any potential codes. “The suspect likely was getting in over his head. What I don’t know yet is what his real job was, why exactly he killed our victim, and most importantly for whom.”
“Okay. I don't know if he's still in London or not yet, but I'm going to send you and Sherlock out on a search tomorrow. You’ll need to be extra careful though since the bastard likely knows who’s on his trail now. I’ll have reports forwarded to you as they come in." With that I nodded.
"Very good," I sighed. "There should be no need to worry. A simple case, a simple man." I didn’t really have to reassure myself we were fine; there was no reason to be afraid when I dealt with these sorts of characters all the time. But I couldn’t bear to lose my grip on this thread I was pulling, and lose the chance at unravelling something potentially huge.
A moment later my boss left, and I checked my watch. It was almost 2 o'clock, and just as I looked up a flash of dark curls was in my vision saying, "Come on then, time to go!" I sucked in a deep breath, getting ready to tell the younger Holmes the ugly news.
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The room was pitch black, dark enough I almost couldn't tell when my eyes were open or shut. I was so tired, but also excited. After lunch break, Sherlock and I had taken Jekyll out with us and tracked the murderer a good long way on Lestrade’s order, as he’d said. The trail was old, but he had hitched a ride into the next town over from what we knew, and tomorrow we'd take a train and finally wrap up this blasted case. It was too simple to have taken so long, and we were hungry to sink our teeth into its connected crimes.
I let out a deep sigh into my pillow, trying to let sleep overcome me. Jekyll made a huffing noise from the blanket on the floor nearby, and I started drifting. The sheets around me melted until I felt like I was floating, and I almost didn't hear the crash in the other room.
But I did. I heard it and slammed back into awareness, cursing silently as I realized I didn't have my gun in the bedroom. Adrenaline gripped me like a vice as my bedroom door opened, and a broad figure entered. I realized I had seen him before, run into him outside our building and seen him walking up and down the streets--as well as in the photos in the file I’d been scouring for days now. I couldn't help myself and screamed as the terror forced its way through me. The figure was monstrous, definitely not Sherlock, and was now hurriedly heading straight across to me.
My scream was cut off by a calloused hand gripping my face, one so large its fingertips pressed into my throat as well. The intruder was staring at me with wide eyes, almost panicked as he looked around. It was like seeing a tiger suddenly noticing its prey wasn’t what it expected.
He jerked me forward by the face, my hands clawing at his thick forearm to no avail until I was pinned with my back to his torso, my arms now locked in place against me. I could scarcely breath, thumping my legs against the floor and bedframe and his shins in any attempt to free myself. My body thrashed as I felt one hand leave me and fumble around behind him. A weapon came into view and I felt ready to pass out, lack of oxygen and surplus of fear taking over my body. The blade raised just barely and was about to descend toward me when I heard the gunshot.
In my panic, I hadn't heard the footsteps pounding down the stairs, but now I heard the gunshot, clear as day. The figure ducked and flung me down, thankfully towards my bed again. It hurled itself out my bedroom window with another crash, and in the doorway stepped an enraged Sherlock, pistol raised. He fired two more shots out the broken window before cursing and turning his attention to me.
I hadn't noticed the tears until then, or that I was gripping my sheets so hard my knuckles were white. I looked down in a panic for Jekyll, but he was cowering halfway under the bed, probably spooked into safety when the crashes woke him. Sherlock knelt and assured me he was uninjured, but looked at me with extreme worry.
"I fear that was our murderer, Y/n. Are you alright?" he asked. I could still see the rage in his eyes, but his voice had softened.
"I-I- I'm fine now, th-thank you," I croaked. My voice was hoarse and shaky, and Sherlock turned to look at the window, then back at me. He placed a slender hand lightly on my shoulder, trailing it gently up to my chin as he inspected what were likely bruised fingerprints.
"You should come up to my flat for the night," he whispered. I meekly nodded somehow, but couldn't move. Pale arms wrapped around me and scooped me up, sheet still clenched in my fist. I hung in a bundle in his arms and he clucked for the puppy to follow us upstairs. When our landlady burst out to the hall in a frenzy, he tightly called behind him, "Mrs. Hudson, call Lestrade and tell him to track the killer from Baker Street. Lock the doors and go back to your soap opera, we’re all fine now."
"Thanks to you," I mumbled as we entered his flat. He gave me a small, genuine smile and set me on the sofa. Jekyll stood nearby, tail between his legs until Sherlock had pet him long enough to calm and fall asleep.
I, however, was not in such a fine state. Sherlock noticed and tried to pry the sheet from my hands, one iron finger at a time. I was shaking almost violently and he finally wrapped his arms back around me and pulled me back into his chest.
"There now," he breathed. I gripped his nightshirt now, needing something--anything--to cling to.
"Sh-Sherlock?" I whimpered. I had never felt this fear before, and despite resenting it, I was for once also afraid of being alone.
"Don't worry, love. I'm staying right here, just breathe," Sherlock whispered. When I nodded, he laid us down on our sides along the sofa. An arm snaked down to pull the sheet up over us and I focused on my breaths against his chest.
Sherlock just held us there, occasionally petting my hair, his pistol laying on the floor in easy reach. His eyes--still full of hatred I hardly recognized--glared at the doorway and dared anyone to come through.
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Taglist: OPEN!
@viviace @a-paper-cut @rebel4fandom @twisted-monster
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journeyintonight · 3 days ago
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“What” he read “do you miss the most?”
The idea was preposterous.
A voice, as shrill as every annoying voice in the TVA, had uttered something about a “Mandatory self-examination across the board”, but he didn’t think they would really have him, of all people – if indeed he was people to them – subjected to this nonsense. Surely, they would not make him…
Well, technically, they could and were.
He went back to the question. This had Mobius written all over it. The sheer nerve of that puny little bureaucrat, that consiedered himself so perceptive, so incisive, that he thought he could play mind games with the God of Mischief, Master of Illusion!
Which he most certainly was.
Another sigh.
For all their precious time-guarding, well, they sure liked wasting it. What laid behind him? Nothing but fire and ruin. The very idea of missing one iota of Asgard (the golden city, he thought with derision, that now laid dead as dust, if the copious files the TVA so meticulously archived were to be believed) sounded ridiculous.
Such a Midgardian notion that was, missing something. Gods did not miss. Gods did not yearn. Gods were absolute.
They simply did not have in them the necessity to remember anything like the warm wind blowing in quiet summer evenings, or the ever so colourful trees and bushes that adorned the Royal Gardens in which he spent most of his youthful days practicing his mother’s charms and incantations while hiding from Thor’s boisterous “calls to arms” that usually had them getting in trouble.
Gods had no need for that. Sentiment.
What was there to miss, anyway? The bullying? The humiliation? The sheer feeling of inadequacy? Because there were moments in which he had felt so out of place he could still remember the sting of tears prickling him.
He looked down at his hands. How ironic that he had not been that far off then, after all, when he had felt misplaced and ashamed, even though he detested the recollection of feeling vulnerable. He wasn’t big on showing weakness that couldn’t be quickly twisted into being something else.
Not that any of that mattered anymore. He felt certain that he wouldn’t be able to come back even if he could.
Could he? Would he?
Something tightened in his chest.
Closing his eyes, somewhat exasperated, he tried to conjure up his strength, his sense of self, summon some of the reassurance he had so readily given every being that had crossed his path, of his rightful place in the Cosmos.
He found only emptiness.
Not knowing is not a bad thing, dear.
A cold unlike anything that he had felt before, colder than the cruel breeze of Jötunheim, ran through the lean muscles of his back. Alarmed, he gripped his knees and squared his jaw.
M-Mother?
Something buried deep inside him hurt and made breathing difficult. Still, he kept his eyes closed, desperately searching for… he couldn’t even say it.
Oh, Loki. My son. What have you gotten yourself into?
The thought of Frigga being held prisoner had, admittedly crossed his mind before, but it was rapidly dismissed this time.
No. This was an illusion. A crafty one, a good one. It was one of his own.
You’re unusually quiet. It’s unsettling.
Was he supposed to say something back? Was he really going to enact this ridiculous charade in his own head, out of some misplaced feeling of guilt? Regret? Loss?
I’m sorry, Mother.
Would it be a crime to indulge himself in thinking she would forgive him?
I know.
He sighed and relaxed his white fingers. His arms felt suddenly very heavy, and his head fell forward.
You are weary, my son. Tell me what’s bothering you. Talk to me.
He spoke slowly, not for the first time afraid of himself.
You are… not here.
Her reply came, somewhat cheekily for a Queen, Loki thought. That has not stopped you before.
That was true enough, he supposed, remembering the images that plagued him behind his eyelids since that day he had been shown his file.
And how would that me an impediment to listen to you? Didn’t I always listen?
He remembered being little, his head on her lap and her patient hands brushing through his raven locks as he, between hiccups, retold some cruel mishap or other. He could feel his tears dampening her dress, but he could tell, without looking at her, that she did not mind.
Loki huffed. He was bigger now but feeling as little as that boy, bent down and on the verge of being broken. For real this time.
I… don’t know what lies ahead. What is expected of me. How do I… fit in. If I fit in somewhere, in the great scheme of things.
Frigga’s voice did not come back to coax him to speak and, even though his throat felt very dry, he went on:
I’m sick of dead-ends, of being in chains, locked up, tied down, passed on for amusement. I tired of feeling this… this rage, Mother.
He thought she heard a tiny whimper but carried on, past caution or care:
There is a weigh I carry with me all the time that can’t shed, no matter how far I go. It follows me, feeds off of me, in whatever world I end up in. And I’m tired of shouldering it. I’m so tired. I’ve never felt so... powerless and I’ve never, ever, in my darkest moments, felt so alone.
Silence surrounded him. He felt the familiar uneasiness that came with the knowledge of reaching a wall that couldn’t be breached. How could he? Everything was, after all, in his head. 
He was bound to go round and round in circles.
Not knowing is not a bad thing, dear.
“It certainly feels like one” he thought dryly, cursing with all the spite he could muster the powers that had made whatever version of him feel so bereft.
You were always one to twist, but it doesn’t feel as good being twisted, does it?
Well, that was new. He tightened his lips together.
You are not beyond uncertainty, Loki. No one is. Nothing is. Fate is not set in stone, but mercurial and ultimately immaterial as time. We are all bound to it, but only a few have the power to be released by it.
Riddles sound an awful lot as lies,…
Confused, annoyed and impatient for answers, he began lashing out but was soon put to rest by the only one who truly knew best when it came to him.
… and you, of all beings, should know the truth they both hide. Dwell upon it, son. I have faith in you.
Unexpected tears pooled behind his eyelids once more and, for all his bravado, found himself unprepared for what came next:
I love you. With all my heart. I know you’ll find a way.
His sharp intake of breath was so violent that it made him cough. He opened his eyes with childlike urgency, but neither brown, gentle eyes were there to greet him, nor her calm, wise voice came to ease the pain of her loss. At his feet he found only a desk and a sheet of paper wherein lied the question that had triggered it all.
As he leaned back in his chair and tried to steady his rapid breaths, he considered the words that had come from so far within. The paper, the desk, this place, the whole Cosmos, seemed as insubstantial as air. The past, the present, the future laid before him in a rapid succession of possibilities. He thought of home, of Frigga and the soft and skillful hands that had welcomed, nurtured and taught him so patiently and lovingly over the long years of milennia. Of course he missed, he yearned, he loved. And he would go back... just as he would go beyond.
The TVA did not have a hold on him anymore. He was free – or would be very soon. The thought of a plan made him feel giddy, excited, and laughter, joyous, unchecked and certainly defiant erupted from his lips.
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clints-lucky-arrow · 3 days ago
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The Nomad - Chapter Nineteen
Din Djarin/The Mandalorian x F!Reader
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Summary: The painful realisation of Gideon’s revelation is pushed aside. With countless lives on the line, there is no choice but to act.
Enemies to Lovers. Slow Burn. Eventual Smut. Morally Grey MC. Established Star Wars Character as Parent.
TRIGGER WARNINGS: Explicit Language. Graphic Violence and Injury. Imprisonment. Familial Abuse (Non-S*xual). Childhood Trauma. Parental Death.
THE NOMAD - TUMBLR MASTERLIST
THE NOMAD - READ ON AO3
CLINTS-LUCKY-ARROW MAIN MASTERLIST
Ko-Fi: Buy Me a Coffee
A/N: Apologies for the delay! I’m seeing my boyfriend for the first time since the end of January, so he does take priority over writing, and I was also going through various rounds of interviews for a new job. Happy to say that I was successful!
I hope that each of you has been keeping well? My sincere thanks for your patience, and I hope you enjoy!
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Gideon chuckles, relishing in the cold shock that greys your face. Wind stirs the hem of your cloak, whispering in your ears. Upon your hip, the lightsaber suddenly seems unbearably heavy. Weighed down the crimes of the past, burdened with all of the blood that it has spilt. You knew that it had caused so much pain and loss - that he had - but it always felt far away. Now the knowledge is visceral. Real. Actually painful. The Moff drinks your torment greedily, and it adds to the swelling smile upon his cheeks.
"I met your father before. You emanate the same cold wrath,” he announces, hands clasping formally before him. The cape lining his shoulder twists as he does, while something dark and glinting catches the light upon his belt. The curious tilt of his head snags your attention back, and his gaze scans your face, searching the recesses of your expression as he speaks again. “Although Dooku never was as impetuous. Maybe it's for the best. He is dead, after all. And you… despite everything... You are still here."
The gears in your mind are turning painfully. Searching for a way out of this mess, some solution that will fix everything. More stormtroopers pour out of the alleys surrounding, encroaching further forward. Your head turns, eyes darting back over your shoulder to desperately scan the shadows that your companions had retreated to. Is there a way out? There’s no clue. Nothing to tell you what to do next, or how to proceed.
All that you know is that the Mandalorian is hurt, and you cannot let them take the child.
It snaps into your mind with perfect clarity. So intense and desperate that it radiates through your skull, ringing with clarity. Not everyone will be able to make it out of this.
“Take me.” The Imperial Moff stiffens at your words. His head tilts further, brow furrowing as the words drift into the air, floating through the empty stretch between you. You stand firm under the weight of his scrutiny, and the hidden eyes of dozens of other Imperials. Despite the clench of your jaw, how your hands tighten into fists, you speak again, repeating the sentiment clearly. “Take. Me.”
Silence stretches out as Gideon mulls over your offer. It's almost painful as you wait for him to speak. The eventual response is not quite what you want to hear. 
"It's a tempting offer, my dear. Your brothers would be more than thankful to have you returned. However, your importance is not nearly equivalent to that child's."
Your hand drops, fingers brushing against a hard metal hilt upon your belt. The lightsaber is warm underneath your fingers as you tug it free. Brandished towards the sky, the crimson blade ignites with a sharp crackle. It hums within your grip, vibrations running down your arm. "And what about this?" 
Moff Gideon only shakes his head, as if you are merely amusing him. His tone is indulgent, as if speaking with a child. “Impressive weapon. Your father’s, I believe?" Head shaking in a show of regret that feels a little malicious, he sighs before continuing. "It’s a pity that you do not possess his gift to wield it.” 
Something about the way he says it, as if it is disappointing and inconvenient to him, causes a flare of anger to surge within. The saber pulses, sparking dangerously, as if suddenly unstable. Gaze fixing on the crimson beam, the Moff's eyes widen ever so slightly, brow raising in a sudden show of interest. He speaks again, a note of unexpected surprise in his voice.
“... Unless, of course, I’m mistaken?”
Humourless disbelief causes a dry laugh to spill from your lips. “No. You’re not mistaken.”
Those black eyes narrow in suspicion. Without warning, his hand darts to his belt, ripping the blaster free to level it right at your face. The motion is fast, almost a blur, but something in you recognises the action before your mind can even register its fire. The saber jars in your hand, cleaving sharply through the air. With an echoing crackle, the blade knocks a beam of blaster fire away. 
It flits into the distance, before thudding into a nearby wall. You freeze, startled, gaze dropping to your hands. It’s not the first time that you’ve knocked a shot away, but the only time that you’ve ever been so taken off guard. That prickle of intuition - the one that has always steered you straight and warned of danger - suddenly seems like it could be a little more. But that’s nonsense. They would have known. He would have known.
“Interesting,” Gideon remarks, head tilted to the side. “Very interesting. Maybe you are indeed little bit more special than we both realised.” The Moff straightens, adjusting his uniform in a sharp downward tug. His hands fold confidently before him, head dipping into a nod of affirmation. “But… You have a deal, my lady. I will accept your offer.” The words are a death sentence, each word a further nail into a solidifying coffin. All the same, you can’t help but feel relieved. Hopeful. They may just make it out of this. “Drop Dooku’s lightsaber, surrender to us, and your companions will live.”
That cold command is what you were aiming for, but not completely. His promise is missing something. 
“And go free?” you ask pointedly.
Gideon scowls slightly - irritated at being caught - but then mutely nods. Yes. 
It’s done. 
Swallowing thickly, you mirror the action. Your finger presses against the button, and the crackling red blade retreats back into its silver hilt. Dirt billows upward as the lightsaber tumbles from your grip to thud dully into the ground. The sound reverberates through your mind, burning into your thoughts. A funeral knoll. One that you can’t help but be a little proud of, because they’ll live. This sacrifice is more than you’d ever thought yourself capable of, and yet here you are. 
Your hands lift, fingers lacing behind your head as you sink to your knees. All the while, your eyes never leave the Moff’s. The stormtroopers advance at his signal, closing in around you. Rough hands seize holds on your arms. They are wrestled down - none too gently, despite your lack of protest - and harsh cuffs shackled around each wrist. They are far tighter than Mando ever made them, biting deeply into the skin. You wince, but refuse to show further pain, fighting against the urge to try jerk away as they drag you back upright.
Gideon draws closer, each step taken with an assured flourish. He draws level, and that soulless gaze bores into your face. A cold smile draws his lips, and then he speaks his order, never averting his eyes from you. “Get the others.”
Disbelief floods through you.
“No!” The desperate cry tears from your lips in a howl as you struggle, writhing against the sheer strength of the men holding you in place.
Never take an Imperial at their word. It’s something that you should have known.  
A group breaks off, marching towards the building behind. The one where your friend’s distant voices ring out. Their shouts are panicked and muffled, but you can hear the fear in their timbre. They haven’t managed to escape. Everyone is going to die. Your attempts grow more fervoured as they pass, and the Moff watches you in a dark amusement. All of the cursing and striving is doing nothing. 
There’s a blow to the back of your head. Your legs tremble against the hit, but do not give out. That’s when something brushes the back of your heel, almost causing you to trip in the dirt.
The lightsaber. 
One chance. That’s all you have to do it right. Not that it matters, for there are no other options available. Your foot shifts, catching the edge of the hilt upon the rise of your heel. That curve to the blade provides just enough of a hold to kick backward, pitching it straight up through the air, until the solid metal cylinger smashes into your fumbling hands. Your fingers find the switch almost instantly. 
The crimson blade erupts forth with vengeance, bursting through the connecting latch of those thick cuffs. They shatter in an instant, and you spin, ducking low and lashing the saber in an arc. It shears through one of the troopers as if he were nothing. He doesn’t even have time to scream before it separates his torso from his waist. Coming upright, your other hand lunges to grasp the uniform of the other, yanking him in by the shoulder plates as the lightsaber plunges straight through his chest with a sickening sizzle. A gargled scream echoes from the confines of his helmet, and then his body is gone as your foot braces against his stomach while you rip the blade free.
Air whips as something else lashes from behind. You twist, the world spinning around you, as the lightsaber moves in perfect synchrony. You expect it to slice through whatever comes for you, to put as swift and brutal an end to this newcomer as it did the other two officers. Your arm jars violently as the saber catches on something, and shock ripples through you. Across a lock of rippling blades, Moff Gideon’s face is twisted into a snarl. 
The weapon that he holds is unlike any lightsaber that you’ve ever seen. Not that you have seen all too many. But this is just something different. Blade as black as night, so deep that its onyx glow could swallow you whole, but the outline sparks with vibrant white light. It strives against your own blood-red saber as you struggle to push each other back. Around you, the hair on the back of your neck prickles as the stormtroopers jump to lift their blasters.
“Liar.” The snarl is torn from the back of your throat.
The Moff only sneers, and breaks the hold with a quick slash. You parry, knocking it aside with ease before following through with hammering strikes of your own. This weapon is not built for such harsh hits, and the protest from the saber itself is all but tangible. Pressure radiates up your arm from the blows, but you do not stop the series of swift twisting strikes. All around, shouts ring out. The roar of stormtroopers who cannot get a clear shot at you without risking their Moff. You take any chance that you can get to send a spare blow their way, slicing through as many as possible while striving to fend off Gideon. 
This saber is not built for your style of fighting. It’s the weapon of a duellist, and not a brawler. That’s what you are, after so many years on the run. Someone who does not fight with a code or with any pretense of flourish. Just with whatever they can - doing anything possible - to survive. As a result, it feels strange in your hand. Cumbersome. But whatever the sensation, it’s still effective.
Red clashes against black. Sweat gathers on your brow. The Moff barely manages to deflect your next hit, but then it happens. A strangled noise grates torturously from the back of his throat as the very tip of your saber draws a burning line down the top of his wrist. There’s no time to press further. A blaster shot registers in the corner of your eye, coming straight for you, and you have to twist away to avoid it. The break loses your advantage. As you come up from the dip, Gideon’s blade collides with yours again, and the vicious strength of his strikes causes you to stumble slightly. Churned gravel shifts underneath your feet. It almost has you fall, but you manage to catch yourself on one knee, braced against the ground and fighting as he presses down upon your blade with his own. 
The weight of his exertion strains against your forearm. Dimly, you’re aware of pain radiating through your body, muscles screaming in protest as you fight to push back and rise. Blood bubbles around your mouth, rising from a split lip that you had not previously noticed. Muzzles settle upon you and fingers curling around triggers, the stormtroopers prepare to fire again. 
Gideon won’t stop them. He’s too much of a coward to try and finish this fight himself if there’s another option. Bent on one leg, your arm fights to keep your saber aloft. It’s wavering, stuck with nowhere to go as the Imperial presses down. A sadistic smile twists his lips, and hatred burns in your chest. You cannot let him win. Despite your drive to protect the kid and the Mandalorian, it’s just become almost personal now. 
Your eyes snag on something blurred behind him. A distant hulking shape, but one that’s familiar. Another canister. Same as the one that had injured Mando. It’s further behind, which was why it escaped the previous blast. Not that it matters. You’re a good shot. However, you’ll only get one. 
This is just a day for only chances.
Your other hand lowers, fumbling against your belt before the blaster tears free, focusing on a spot just underneath the Moff’s shoulder. He lunges to the side, intending to duck, not realising that he is not your target. A beam of red bursts from the barrel, screaming through the air. It slams straight into the centre of that canister, and another violent explosion ripples through the square. 
The Imperials pitch forward, disoriented by the blast, but not sent flying as earlier. Not that it matters. All you needed was the time to escape before they all turned on you. 
Footsteps pounding across the ground, you race back towards the building behind. Blaster fire chases at your heels as you sprint desperately. The manic thudding of your heart reverberates within your ear, and in your hands the saber dies with a flickering hiss. The ground collides roughly as you hurl through the rectangular sliver of an open window, tumbling recklessly to the floor. No glass shatters to block your path, but the rough, rolling landing aches dully all the same. Considering the many hits taken so far today, tomorrow will be a stiff and painful event.
That is, if you make it until tomorrow. 
Your head lifts, and immediately fastens on the small form standing just before you. It’s the child. His eyes are wide and dark as they drink in the sight of your dirtied appearance, but you shoot him a small and reassuring smile all the same. Free hand reaching out to brush affectionately down his little face, you drink in the sight of him for a just split second - revelling in the fact that he is okay - before your attention swiftly snaps away. Gaze casting around the room, it quickly sets on Mando, Cara and Greef huddled on one side. 
Sparks from the other catch your attention. It is IG-11, huddled over by a grate in the corner. Sparks emerge from his limbs as he works, apparently trying to pull that cover free. Oh. They’re trying to get down to the sewers. It must be. 
The lightsaber hums in your hands. A reminder.
Pushing yourself to your feet, you rush towards him. Outside, the heavy footfalls of stormtroopers grow closer. Desperation surges again, along with the red glow of your father’s blade.
“Move!” The words are snapped, for there’s no time to be polite.
Your hand roughly shoves the droid aside, just as the other casts down. The grid screams in protest as the lightsaber cuts through it. It easily slides in, but the surrounding metal immediately starts to liquify at the sheer heat. That curdled mixture is harder to shift than one would expect. Like dragging a stick through thick mud that doesn’t want to yield. Mouth setting into a snarl, your shoulders hunch as you further strive to drag it across. The IG-11 adjusts himself by your side, preparing to use its artificial strength to help knock it free. There’s only a little more to go. 
However, it’s too slow. Too late.
The door crashes in. Before you can even react, there’s fire. An intense roaring heat that fills the room, and twisting orange flames that lunge to swallow you whole. A stormtrooper stands just behind, massive flamethrower strapped to his shoulder. Fuck. 
You abandon the grid and move to hurl yourself at the child - not quite sure how it will help but knowing that you have to at least try to protect him - but then it happens. Just when the blazing inferno threatens to consume him whole, it stops. Hovering and churning amidst the air, writhing like an animal caught in a trap. Your mind quits working. Faltering and readjusting to try and make sense of this, but then something registers. 
Before the firestorm, stands the lone figure of the child. His hands are raised, and from your place at the side, you can see his wrinkled face further creased in concentration. Something pulses from him, invisible but tangible, and you just know that he is doing this. That you were right with your earlier suspicions, and now it all makes sense.
His hand flicks back, and the flames twist, turning on the trooper to blast him clear of the building. Some small patches of flame remain alight as smoke fills the air, but the danger is not as immediate as before. At the IG-11’s kick, the grate finally snaps, clanging inwards and vanishing into the darkness below with an echoing clatter. There are only moments available here, mere seconds before the group has to move. You are rushing forward instantly, scooping the kid’s collapsed body off the ground with your free arm. Underneath the shroud, that small chest raises in exhausted breaths. 
He’s unconscious. Over-exerted, likely, after such a display of power. Relief bubbles in your chest, but it is soon coupled with indignation.
“When was someone going to tell me that the kid was Force Sensitive?” you demand, voice high with irritation. “I mean, seriously, Mando. I asked you if there was something up with him and you just-”
Cold shock ripples through your body. You had turned mid-sentence, already lost in your spiel, and had not truly noticed until now. No. Everything had happened so fast. You’d lunged for the grate as soon as coming in, and had not properly looked. But now, you do. 
He is lying on the ground. Sprawled. Weak. Broken. 
Cara is crouched, and sadness swims in her eyes as she raises a despondent gaze to you. It can only mean one thing. 
That blast was worse than you had realised.
The red blade vanishes in an instant. The IG-11 plucks the child from your arms as you rush across the burning room. Soot is bitter upon your tongue, and smoke squeezes the back of your throat, but you ignore it all. Debris shifts underneath as you drop to your knees by the Mandalorian’s side. You can feel the weight of those hidden eyes upon you as your hands flitter uselessly down his armour, searching for something. A way to fix him, to stop this from happening. There’s a deepening weight of panic in your chest, and an ache that you didn’t expect. 
There’s nothing that you can do.
Air catches in the back of your throat as the realisation crashes down upon you. After all of this… You never thought that he could actually die. Yet, that tremor of knowledge that lingers at the back of your skull sadly whispers that he is. 
His hand weakly rises, wavering. You seize it swiftly, clamping it between both of your own. Those gloved fingers lack their usual strength as they take hold of yours.
“You came back.” His voice is still gruff, but pain laces each word.
Guilt forms a thick lump in the back of your throat. This is your fault. Maybe if you hadn’t left, this all could have gone differently. Perhaps if your father hadn’t ordered the slaughter of his village, neither of you would be here right now.  
Your response is a barely audible whisper. “We stay together. Remember, asshole?” He doesn’t answer, head lolling to the side. One of your hands leaves his, resting on the bottom of his helmet to gently turn his face back towards you. Mando is visibly weakening by the second, and so you swallow heavily before pushing through, and saying what you need to. “I’m sorry that I left.”
It takes a tense beat for the reply to come. “Don’t apologise.” 
The modulator in his helmet must be broken, because this is his real voice. Unwavered by any technology, it’s soft and gentle. Rich and smooth. Just like back in the cockpit, cradled in the calm darkness and the quiet of space. You can’t quite believe that this is only your second time hearing it. Second, and likely the last. 
Outside, the calls of the Imperials grow louder again. You can hear them at the front door, readying to make their way through. The barest squeeze of Mando’s fingers draws your attention back down to his broken form. His breathless rasp comes again, and each word causes your heart to lurch. 
“Take the kid. The ship is yours now. Get him out of here. Get him somewhere safe.”
Your voice hitches in disbelief. “You… You want me to take him?”
The Mandalorian’s gaze bores into yours through the shadowed glass visor of his helmet. Just for a moment, you fancy that you can see past it, and that a set of dark eyes meet your own. The image is so clear across your mind that it has to be your imagination.
“You'll look after him,” Mando replies roughly. “I trust you…. But you need to leave. Now.”
Another loud clatter from the outside lifts over the crackling of the burning building. He is right. There’s nothing else that you can do here, except leave. Run away and protect the child. Not too long ago, the idea of being saddled with the infant had seemed like a burden. Now, that little bug is your lifeline. 
It’s almost funny how things change. Looking at the Mandalorian, feeling your sadness at having to leave him, that statement resonates more true than ever.
Cara’s hand falls on your shoulder. A similar pain is reflected on her face. 
“Goodbye, Mando,” you whisper, before bestowing that particular farewell on him once again. “May the Force be with you.”
“Goodbye Nomad. This is The Way.”
Your fingers slowly release his, allowing them to gently slide back onto his armoured chest as you rise, lifting the saber back from the ground as you do. The IG-11 presses the child back into your chest. “Take the child and escape. I will stay with the Mandalorian.”
Cara’s quavering voice rings out as you adjust the infant in your arms, aimed at the droid. “Promise me you’ll bring him.”
The IG gives his word. You can’t help but think that he shouldn’t. There’s no way of knowing if he will be able to fulfil it. 
Fighting against the desolation, you cradle the child’s sleeping form with one arm, leaning forward to press a melancholy kiss against his wrinkled forehead. The other hand tightly grips the sheathed saber. Squaring your shoulders, you make for the exposed grate. For escape. 
Cara’s hands land on your back, hurrying you forward, as Greef’s sad eyes meet yours. He is crouched by the grate, eager to escape but still lingering to witness to it all. The loss of the Mandalorian - a man who almost seemed indestructible at times - has weighed heavily on everyone. Stooping low, he ducks through the opened grid, disappearing into the shadows.
Just as you are about to follow, you pause to look back. While unable to turn fully, that inscrutable helmet is slightly inclined in your direction, watching you even as the IG-11 crouches over him. The embers of the burning building glint off the beskar, casting lights onto the charred and blackened ceiling. He's watching. You swallow again, trying to get your throat to work. 
“Go.” The one word, softly spoken, fills the crackling air.
Still, you can’t just yet. Not until you say one more thing, something that’s long overdue.
“Thank you, Mando. Thank you for everything.”
And then, you do.
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It’s a little embarrassing when he shows up only minutes later. 
You can’t help but make a remark. Despite the fact that he is unsteady and still quite visibly injured, it just falls from your lips before you can stop it. However, relief is also audible in the timbre, mixed with a thinly veiled attempt at dry sarcasm.
“Well. Now I feel like a fool. That whole emotional moment for nothing, then?”
Mando huffs in amusement, staggering slightly as he draws level with the rest of the group. “There’s still time for one of us to die.”
His comment has a bark of laughter burst from your chest. “Wonderful. Thanks for that, Mandalorian. Truly uplifting.”
Gaze darting between the two of you - as if a little unable to comprehend quite what’s going on - Cara steps forward to drape Mando’s arm over her shoulders. With Greef taking the other side, and you still gripping the now-awake child, the small group continues down the tunnels. You can only be thankful that this particular network ran dry years ago, and the places doesn’t reek of more than dust and damp. The loud clang of the IG-11′s steps echo around as the procession continues, following the Mandalorian’s murmured and uncertain directions. 
After a while, the bacta infusion that the IG had given works enough that he no longer needs support to walk. He draws ahead them, flashlight beaming from the side of his helmet as he grows more confident with each twist and turn through the tunnels. You increase the pace to draw level with him as he stalks forward. Part of you feels the need to say something, but you’re not quite sure what. 
Eventually you simply settle for the fumbling truth. “I just want to clear about something. I’m glad that you’re not dead.”
His gruff chuckle brushes over your skin. The child stirs in your arms, as if curious about the sound. A few seconds pass as the Mandalorian - still somewhat distracted by trying to decipher the passage to his covert - works to cultivate a reply. In the end, he settles for a simple touch. Just the mere brush of his fingers against the small of your back as he gestures to turn down another corner, but the contact lingers. It says more than he would ever be able to aloud.
‘Miss me?’
‘Like a hole in the head.’
He comes to a sudden halt upon catching sight of a pile of stacked helmets. Mandalorian helmets. Discarded into a cluttered heap as if they were nothing more than trash. A change washes through the air as you all stare at it, cold intutition prickling your skin. It grows as Mando sinks to his knees, lifting one aloft. As he stares at it, unmoving, you exchange a glance with Cara.
She steps forward, leaning into his field of view. “We should go.”
“You go,” he replies, tone tight with emotion. “Take the ship. I can’t leave it this way.” A thought occurs to him, and his head angles towards Greef. “Did you know about this?” There’s barely contained anger in the tone, mixing with the somber reverence pulling the air. “Is the work of your bounty hunters?”
“No,” Greef refutes immediately, sounding nearly horrified at the accusation. “When you took the system and left the prize, the fighting ended and the hunters just melted away. You know how it is.” His head shakes. “They’re mercenaries, not zealots.”
The Mandalorian doesn’t listen. Something in him breaks. A crash reverberates as the helmet flies from his hands, cast into the nearby wall. He is on his feet in a moment, pressing into Karga, almost screaming. “Did you do this?! Did you?!”
“Stop!” you start to yell, knowing that there’s no time for this fighting, but another voice rings above yours to bring them to a halt.
It is composed, gentle with calm serenity. “It was not his fault.” 
A figure steps out of the shadows of a corner. Patches of light glint upon beskar as another Mandalorian looms into view. A thick fur lines her shoulders, falling to brush against her heels.
“We revealed ourselves,” she says, as if it’s the simplest explanation in the world. “We knew what could happen if we left the covert.” Stooping, she lifts a spare shoulder pauldron from the pile, before rising to meet the combined gaze of your group. “The Imperials arrived shortly thereafter. This is what resulted.”
Mando, more composed now, speaks in a husky voice. “Did any survive?”
“I hope so,” the female Mandalorian replies. Your eyes fasten on her helmet, noticing that the shape is cruder than your friend’s. Pointed and a little more animalistic in appearance. “Some may have escaped off-world.”
She proceeds to pick up pieces of abandoned armour, placing into the cart that hovers by her side. It’s hard to know what to make of her. She radiates an aura of mystery and intrigue, and it stirs something within your mind. Her helmet tilts, as if caught by a distant sound or sudden realisation. Just like with Mando, the weight of her gaze is palpable upon your face. It trails down your body, fixing on the half-hidden silver hilt dangling from your belt.
Another response from Mando calls back her attention. “Come with us.”
“No,” she answers immediately. The tone is emotionless, but leaves absolutely no room for argument. “I will not abandon this place until I have salvaged what remains.” WIthout another word, she begins to push the cart away, retreating down the tunnel from which she came with an almost ghostly grace.
Exchanging a confused look with the others, you follow Mando as he sets off after her. The air grows warmer as you walk, approaching a room that casts a dim orange light. Adjusting the child a little closer to your chest, your grip upon the hilt of the saber tightens. It’s unlit for now, but your thumb is inches from the button, ready to slam down incase it needs to activate. All the same, you do not want to bare a red blade in-front of this other Mandalorian. You’re not quite sure how much she knows. If she would recognise it.
Gideon’s voice floats hauntingly through your mind. ‘I have to wonder what the Mandalorian will say when he finds out who you really are… If he’ll hate you. And you know, I truly wouldn’t blame him if he did.' Wincing, you fight to shrug it away. It’s not the time to dwell on this. Not right now. 
Focus on simply living, before figuring out how to live with this.
Pushing the thoughts aside, all of your attention turns to scanning the room that you’re in. Heat prickles, stemming from a forge atop a raised dais. It’s a smithy, that much is clear. Unperturbed by the weight of all curious gazes, the new Mandalorian hoists a pair of tongs, neatly lifting singular scraps of metal before carefully placing them amidst the flame. The unhurried ease of her motions leads you to believe that she’d done this many times before.
An armourer.
Her voice rings out, clear and firm, even through her helmet. "Show me the one who’s safety deemed such destruction.”
You hesitate, suddenly uncertain. Mando’s helmet turns, taking in your visible apprehension. Something passes between you - an understanding - before he nods. A deep breath draws your shoulders as you take a step forward, arm shifting away from your chest so that the smith can peer down into the sleeping face of the child as you slide the saber back onto your belt. She watches him for a few long moments, but makes no move to come closer or take him. 
“This is the one that you hunted, then saved?” she then asks, words directed at Mando.
You know what she refers to. The bounty. That job that you had gone to take, only to be cornered by Imperials. It felt like so long ago. As you glance between your companions, all that resonates is that much has changed. More than you could have ever expected.
“Yes,” your friend replies. “The one that saved me as well.”
Head tilting, that statement seems to pique her interest further, and she continues with words that war against the soft crackle of the fires. “From the mudhorn?”
“Yes.”
Your own curiosity peaks inside at that. It’s not a tale that you’ve heard before. Not one that the Mandalorian had entrusted to you. Maybe when you make it out of this - if you make out of this - he will.
“It looks helpless.”
The armourer’s response draws you back to the conversation at hand. Her attention is still fixed on the small infant held against your chest. Staring back at her, he emits a loud gurgle. 
Mando replies before you can. “It’s injured, but not helpless.”
Something about their exchange prickles your nerves, and has you interject pointedly.
“He,” you correct irritably, eyes narrowing slightly. “He’s not an ‘it.’”
They both turn to you. Even though their gazes are hidden, the scrutiny is the same. Mando’s is warmer, maybe a little surprised. The armourer’s remains intense, and you shift nervously underneath it. Something about those unseen eyes feel like they are boring into your very soul. That little voice at the back of your mind whispers suspiciously. ‘She knows.’
“Sorry,” Mando says, head dipping apologetically. “His species can move objects with their minds.”
“I know of such things,” the Mandalorian smith remarks, throwing another heavy glance in your direction. Lips clamping tightly together, you do not speak up, but wait, listening intently as she continues. “The songs of eons past tell of battles between Mandalore The Great, and an order of sorcerers called ‘Jedi’ that fought with such powers.”
Jedi. A word that had not been uttered upon Nevarro in all of your time there. Not an order that you were ever keen to hear of again.
“He’s an enemy?” Mando asks.
Your grip on the child tightens automatically. Slowly, your hand slips down, fingers brushing once more over the half-hidden hilt of the saber. Just in case.
The armourer continues, disagreeing, much to your relief. “No. That kind were enemies, but this individual is not.”
“What is he then?” Mando wonders.
He watches, almost enrapted as she begins working by her pyre. You can understand his intensity. Undoubtedly, he had questions. Ones that were finally being answered. A small, unsatsified part of you whispers that it would have happened sooner, had he just decided to trust you. 
Because the armourer is right - the Jedi indeed use the Force - but she is neglecting another point.... So do the Sith. Users can comprise of one or other, maybe even neither, and certainly not simultaneously both. A former Jedi can become a Sith though, and those are two particular tales that you know well.
The smith’s voice calls you back from the recesses of your thoughts, and into the present.
“It is a foundling,” she tells Mando seriously. Flames writhe as she places another piece of beskar into the fire before her. Heat flares at the action, accompanied by the low sound of metal bubbling. “By Creed, it is in your care.”
Your friend flinches, posture rigid, as if taken aback. “You want me to train him?” He sounds more than a little incredulous, as if the mere thought is preposterous.
“It is too weak,” she responds, and the continued use of ‘it’ causes you to bristle slightly. “It would die. You have no choice. You must reunite it with its own kind.”
“Where?” he questions breathlessly.
The moment shifts around you. Building to something. It comes to a head when the smith gestures languidly. “This you must determine, but perhaps your friend can be of some use. She bears the blade of a Jedi, if not the correct colour.”
A ripple of shock rushes across the rest of the room. Everyone stiffens on instant. You can feel all of their scrutiny prickling across your skin. Greef’s confusion, Cara’s suspicion, and the Mandalorian’s suprise. All weigh upon the words that you hack from your chest as you speak roughly, clearing your throat to brush away the nervous grate of the words. “This is not a Jedi’s weapon, and it is not mine.”
The armourer’s head tilts again, vistor boring into your from across a pit of flames. “But you have knowledge. You have connections.”
Your head shakes. “None that will provide us with any real help.”
Silence stretches as she contemplates your reply. You can’t help but feel like there’s a challenge growing in the air. As if she is waiting for you to speak - to provide something of use - and growing more disdainful with every second that you don’t. But what can you offer? Scraps of information that you gleaned over the years, but nothing more. The barest of bones, shaved down to almost nothing, and lacking the meat that will be of most use. 
They kept you far away from all of that knowledge, all hoping to avoid tainting you against them in some way. It left you with nothing. Just a scramble to put it all together, and figure out what your life truly meant. 
Thankfully, Cara interrupts. “These tunnels will be lousy with Imps in a matter of minutes. We need to focus on an escape plan.”
Her words make sense. There will be a time for explanations - you know without question that the Mandalorian will certainly want some - but now is not it. This moment needs to be about getting out of here, so that you’ll live long enough to figure out exactly what the fuck you’re going to tell him. 
Gideon’s haunting words resonate once again, that ghostly voice mocking. ‘That is where the Mandalorian lost his parents. To the very weapons that assembled on the grand lawns of your home.’
The armourer’s cold gaze breaks away, returning to her craft as that emotionless tone rings out once again. “If you follow the descending tunnel, it will lead you to the underground river. It flows downstream toward the lava flats.”
Okay. A plan. You nod, eagerly preparing to turn away and leave when the Mandalorian speaks again. 
His words halt you in your tracks. “I’m staying. I need to help her, and I need to heal.”
As your mouth opens to argue, the Mandalorian smith beats you to it. She doesn’t even turn around. Just enunciates each word with the clear, reverberating strike of her hammer against beskar, shaping it to her will.
“You must go. A foundling is in your care. By Creed, until it is of age or reunited with its own kind, you are as its father.”
Seeming to like the sound of that, the child coos, struggling to reach out to Mando. Aware that each second brings Gideon’s men closer to finding you amidst these tunnels, you silently pass him to the IG-11. It will be easier to fight with both arms free. The droid takes him silently, sliding the infant into the satchel strung across its thin frame. 
“This is The Way,” the armourer finished neatly, before turning to face Mando. She stands atop the slightly raised platform, a slight smile in her voice at the next line. “You have earned your Signet.” 
In easy strides, the other Mandalorian descends the steps to stride towards your friend. A small plate, glinting in the light, shines as it is raised level with his pauldron. Sparks fly as she indents it in, welding it to the armour upon his shoulder. Your head cranes to take in the sight, noting an almost sketetal design of the head of a creature, curved horn stretching from the tip of its nose.
The smith’s gaze flickers to you, and then back to Mando. “You are a clan of two. Maybe three. A curious mix of past, present, and future.”
The words have you still slightly. Down on yout hip, the lightsaber pulses. ‘Past, present, and future.’ You know the connotation of her statement. It’s hidden meaning. She knows. There’s no denying that she doesn’t.
“What do you mean?” Mando asks, voice a slight rasp.
The smith just shakes her head. “Some mysteries need to be unlocked on their own. The keys are usually a little closer than you think.”
Underneath the helmet, those eyes flicker to you. Even though you can’t see it, you just know. Still, she choses not to divulge your darkness, but accepts his quiet thanks with that unaffected grace. 
An explosion echoes from somewhere outside the forge, followed by distant blaster fire. All jump, attention turning back to the shadowed tunnels of beyond. Cara’s reminder was right. They are on their way. 
“We should go,” Greef intones.
You agree, going to move, but the smith’s voice draws you to yet another halt. “IG, please guard the hallway outside. A scouting party grows near.”
The droid does as asked, after handing the child to Cara. You do not make any move to rescue her, even as she attempts to protest that children are not her forte. All that you can do is lower your hand, fingers anxiously tapping against the smooth metal of the saber as you wait for them to finish. This is taking far too long, and your nerves only fray further with each passing moment.
“Have you trained in the Rising Phoenix?” she questiosn Mando, twisting away to fetch something.
“When I was a boy,” he tells her, and you see the sudden desire ripple over him as she turns, holding something aloft.
There’s another hint of a smile to her next remark. “Then this will make you complete.”
A jetpack. Made of compact silver beskar, it appears strudy and strong. The reverence in Mando’s voice is obvious as he thanks her, listening intently to the words of advice and instructions. Before he can take it, blaster fire rings out from the corridor just beyond, and thrashing shadows are illuminated in dancing beams of red. 
Tension floods the space. Greef and Cara lifts their guns as something clunks closer. As it turns the corner, the familiar form of the IG-11 appears, confirming that you are all protected. Such an obvious statement nearly makes you chuckle. The armourer presses the jetpack into the droid’s hands, instructing him to carry it until the Mandalorian is better. Something about her ease with the droid  piques your attention. It’s different than the distrust that Mando has always displayed. One undoubtedly born from watching such a legion slaughter his parents. 
“Now go,” the armourer orders. “Down to the river and across the plains.” 
You do not linger back to argue. 
Thankfully, there are no more delays. Everyone follows, moving in quick strides. As Karga stumbles into the tunnels, Mando reaches up to turn on the light at the side of his helmet. The dancing beam almost threatens to blind you at first, for his attention had lifted to your face. His head quickly diverts, and you choose not to remark on it. The gaze had felt curious, and in a way that made you nervous. He had all of those questions - that much was apparent - and you feared having to answer them.
The tunnel dips, growing steeper. One of your hands reaches out, fingers brushing the wall for balance as the group descends. It feels sticky underneath your touch. That’s not something you wish to think about, but you grit your teeth and keep it aloft. Mando’s shoulder brushes yours as the stretch grows tighter, and you have to both turn sideways to progress in a shuffle.
His visor locks upon you, chests brushing close together, and those eyes prickle against your face. Under the scrutiny, you still manage a tight smile. “Getting pretty cosy, aren’t we?”
Another small chuckle escapes him, and a beat of satisfaction wells within. At least he still finds you funny. 
Soon enough, the space opens back into something wider. Faint light grows in the distance, as does the throbbing heat in the air. It’s wafting and palpable, causing a slight sweat to prickle upon your brow. Almost there.
“This is the lava river,” Greef calls, outstretching a hand as your group steps into a small underground bay. 
Together, you all make your way towards the edge. A small boat is docked at the side, impervious to the smoldering burn of the lava washing past. It rocks slightly, as if docked in simple water. Off to the side, the stream spits up a splattering jet of molten liquid. You step back, narrowly avoiding a splash that could melt the skin off your bones if it were to make contact. 
“The ferry droid is fried,” Mando intones.
He’s right. It just sits there - lifeless and rusted - within the seat that was both most of its life and the majority of its death. Never destined beyond.
Greef pipes up quickly, not wishing to lose any more morale or time. “Yes, but if we push the boat out, we can get it to flat downstream.” He surges forward, already laying his hands against the flat surface of the side. “Come on.”
“Looks old,” Mando continues cautiously. “Will it take the heat?”
Karge throws an indignant glance back over his shoulder, timbre tight with agitation as he issues a curt challenge at your friend. “Have you got a better idea?”
Mando turns, exchanging a small look with you. Although his words have conjured some worry, all that you can do is shrug helplessly. Greef is right. There’s no other option here. You’ll simply have to take a chance, and hope it works out. As if reading the explanation in your eyes, the Mandalorian’s head drops into a tight nod of agreement. He doesn’t like it either, but so too recognises that it’s the only choice.
It takes a visible strain to even attempt to push out the boat. The men struggle, but its side has all but welded to the pier. Your hand falls, pulling free the lightsaber that rests upon your hip. As Mando both tries and fails to lever it free with a pipe, you push past with a curt order to “stand back.”
A red flare ignites sharply in the darkness. You hear an intake of breath from behind, but fight to ignore both it and the rigid heat flushing your cheeks. All the same, the pulsing blade does the trick. This time - now that you have a better understanding of the weapon - it is easier to step forward, gritting your teeth as you slide the crackling lightsaber through the narrow space between stone and metal, and pull. The boat shears away from the pillar quickly. Where the point of the blade brushes into the lava below, the lumpy molten flow bubbles, melting further under the unbearable heat of your father’s weapon. 
It slides free easily, and the crimson glow vanishes instantly at your command. As you clip it back upon your belt, the others shake themselves out of awed stupour long enough to move past. You are aware of Cara’s eyes most of all. They are almost accusatory, all of their earlier comradeship gone. Settling into the boat, her dark gaze bores into you. 
“You said that it wasn’t your weapon?” The words are edged with hostility.
“No,” you reply staunchly, knowing well enough to offer a mere sliver of the truth. One that will hopefully keep her satisfied for now. “I stole it. And killed the previous owner.”
The words do the trick. Her brows quirk up in surprise, but the nod that she gives is approving. There are not a lot of red blades out there, but she doesn’t recognise this one. If she did, she’d know who you were. 
As you go to clamber inside, the ferry droid surprisingly beeps back to life. Rock crumbles as it rises, clutching a large pole amidst its metal grip. It beeps again at you all, and your head tilts to the side as you struggle to understand. You've learned a bit of binary over the years, but your grasp is still quite limited.
"Don't suppose anyone speaks droid?" Mando remarks.
The IG pipes up, giving an answer. "I believe he is asking where we would like to go."
"Down river," Greef instructs, voice both tight and resonating. "To the lava flat."
The droid chirps loudly in agreement, and begins to move. It uses the pole to pierce the molten current below, and slowly push the ship. It glides downstream, and even through the thick hull is solid underneath the soles of your boots, the slightest warmth is still palpable. Around you, the others lower themselves into ledged seats, letting out tired groans and sighs as they do.
You slide past Cara to draw level with Mando. He is perched upon the heightened side of the ship, helmet turned ponderingly outward. The width of the container narrows to a point up here, so your knees brush when you sit on the opposite edge. He shifts a little, noting your proximity, and you offer a tight smile to the shadowed glass of his visor.
"How's your head?"
"Better by the minute," he confirms, much to your satisfaction.
All the same, some uncertainty persists. One of the gloves slides from your fingers as you pluck it free. You move closer, turning to face him fully, and hesitantly outstretch a hand. "Can I check?"
The Mandalorian stiffens. Surprise causes his body to lock rigidly, and you - having expected that this would happen - simply wait for his answer. When his head finally dips in the shortest of nods, you lean in. Gentle fingers creep lightly up the back of his helmet. It lifts the tiniest amount as you do, but the motion does not reveal even a sliver of his face. Your fingers gently delve inside, brushing against soft, slightly matted locks of curls, and a jolt runs through you.
His hair has curls? You never expected that. But now that you think about it... There had been a slight lift to his hair when you saw him in the cockpit.
All the same, you don't remark on it. Those strands grow stickier the closer you draw to his wound. When your fingertips brush over the spot, tracing the rigid lines of the scalp, your head dips into a nod. He doesn't flinch, which is a good sign, and you can feel that it is indeed closing.
Underneath your touch, his skin is warm. The weight of his hidden gaze rests upon your face, helmet turned towards you. It heats against your skin, bringing a wave of warm embarrassment to wash through your cheeks. As your hand withdraws, Greef surges forward behind, pointing to something in the distance.
"That's it! We're free!"
Something at the back of your mind - that familiar voiceless whisper of intuition - murmurs that you are not. Mando confirms it, staring ahead to announce that there is a hidden platoon waiting at the mouth. Stormtroopers, and a legion of them of them. Enough to make this constrained fight a real struggle.
Cara turns, her voice tight with panic as she demands the ferry droid to stop the boat. It chirps, but continues to push the pipe into the molten current, guiding the group further down the track. Even as she repeats the statement, it doesn't listen. Face twisting in anger and agitation, her pistol presses into its neck, before firing its head off.
The lifeless bot slumps to the ground. Her attempt to stop the track of the vessel does little. Underneath, the thick boat keeps drifting, carried closer to the distant semi-circle of grey daylight. There's a sense of rising concern as it grows closer, and your slightly damp palm lowers to brush against the hilt of your lightsaber.
It will do no real good here, trapped on board the vessel.
"Looks like we fight," Cara remarks grimly, and your jaw tightens in apprehension.
"There are too many," Mando retorts, shaking his head.
"Well then what do you suggest?" the ex-shocktrooper asks, words rushed and tight. "Because I can't surrender."
A gleam of fear swims in the depths of her dark eyes. You understand it more than most. It's not like you ever could, either. And besides, you'd already tried it once. Offered up your life in return for your companions. It hadn't exactly worked out well.
The IG-11 weighs in, boasting its usually emotionless tone. "They will not be satisfied with anything less than the child. This is unacceptable. I will eliminate the enemy and you will all escape."
While it sounds good to you, the Mandalorian is both curt and doubtful. "You don't have that kind of firepower, pal. You wouldn't even get to daylight." As he makes to turn away, to lose himself in summoning some other escape plan, the droid's reply stops him in his tracks.
"That is not my objective." Aware of the attention now upon it, the IG continues. "I still have the security protocols from my manufacturer. If my designs are compromised, I must self-destruct. I'm not permitted to be captured, I must be destroyed."
"What are you talking about?" Mando pushes, sounding confused.
The droid ignores him, reaching behind to pull the jetpack free. "I can no longer carry this for you. Nor can I watch over the child."
The satchel holding the infant is pulled free, and gently placed into your arms. Staring up at you, the kid gurgles. You offer him a tight smile, before lifting your attention back to IG-11.
"Wait," Mando tells him, tone ringing with something that feels strangely torn. "You can't self-destruct. Your base function is to protect the child. That supersedes your manufacturer's protocol, right?"
After a pause, the droid reluctantly replies. "This is correct."
"Good," Mando pushes, sensing victory. his tone holds finality, as if saying that he will not indulge this pattern of conversation further. "Now, grab a blaster and help us shoot our way out." 
He makes to twist away again, but the IG's words stop him in his tracks once more.
"Victory through combat is impossible. We will be captured. The child will be lost. Sadly, there is no scenario in where the child is saved, in which I survive." Mando goes to argue, but your silent hand on his arm stops him. The droid continues to speak, pushing gently. "Please tell me the child will be safe in your care. If you do so, I can default to my secondary command."
Staring upward, the Mandalorian tries one last time. "But you'll be destroyed."
The IG's tone is almost kind. "And you will live, and I will have served my purpose." It's metal limb reaches out, brushing gently over the child's wrinkled forehead. "There is no need to be sad," it tells Mando softly. "I have never been alive."
"I'm not sad," he attempts to refute, nearly stammering.
The argument is weak. It falls dully, and his true emotions simmering underneath the surface are palpable. You can feel all of it. Greef's panic. Cara's fear. Even the electronic pulses of satisfaction echoing from the droid.
No, it's not alive, but it's not quite not either.
The IG-11 answers your friend knowingly. "Yes, you are. I'm a nurse droid. I've analyzed your voice."
While you recoginse that this is necessary and don't hold the same sadness, you can respect this sacrifice. It's honourable. More so than one could have thought a bounty droid to ever be capable of.
Your head lowers in silent acknowledgement as IG pushes itself away. There is no hesitation or moment of vulnerable contemplation as it rises, lingering for only a split-second on the edge of the small boat, before dropping down into the lava blow. Jets splash around its waist as it lands, not pausing or collecting itself before continuing to drag in confident strides through the stream.
The effort of motion is visible, seen in the labourous shift of its legs against the thick flood of molten rock. Still, it pulls ahead of the boat. Moving in-front, shuddering and shaking all the while as it determinedly staggers ahead to the encroaching mouth of the tunnel. Grey daylight eclipses its form, the sunshine glinting off metal and causing you to squint as rays stream by. Beside you, Mando moves up to the bow, gaze never leaving the illuminated silver of the droid.
Knowing better than to speak, you just move up beside him, only pausing briefly before resting a hand upon his shoulder. Against your chest, the kid gurgles.
Squinting, you can make out white forms in the distance. They stream from either side of the crescent shaped exit, lining the two strips of land running alongside the bubbling amber river. Their weapons are raised, attention on the IG as it haltingly draws level. It stops, and the distant timbre of its robotic voice echoes.
"Manufacturer's protocol dictates that I cannot be captured." Beeps ring out from that slim metal frame, accompanied by the orange flash of warning lights. The sound is distorted when it reaches you - a garble - but you hear the last line rise above it all. "I must be destroyed."
The droid explodes with all the force of a bomb. Red flame wreathes into the sky, sudden heat flaring across the exposed skin of your face. A flinch jerks through you, but the blast goes not reach the boat. Still, thick smoke creeps into your lungs as you slowly draw near the exit. The blast site. Such a cloud of smog is almost suffocating when it finally passes through.
You manage to fight the urge to hack and cough, retaining your composure to ready yourself once the ship pulls clear of the tunnel. After so long in darkness, it takes a few seconds to blink and adjust to the daylight. Dirtied white does litter the surrounding area. None of the stormtroopers move, and it only takes a brief look at their cracked and bloodied armour to know that they are no longer a problem.
Before you can react - or relax - something screams in the sky above. The TIE Outland. Moff Gideon. Your jaw sets into a furious line, saber pulsing in your hand as your fingers brush over the hilt. A flicker passes through your mind, a memory of the weapon he bore. How it felt locked with your father's blade, straining against your arms. Like a lightsaber, but not.
There's no time to dwell further. Not when it barrels towards you, engine screaming, and unleashes heavy bolts of green fire. Mando pushes you down, both of you protecting the child with your bodies as he stands above to fire at the ship. You already know that it will be no use. Mere guns will have no impact on that thick hull.
Cara voices that aloud as the TIE fighter curves away, gaining some distance in preparation to return for a second round.
"He won't miss next time," the Mandalorian says grimly.
His hand grips you by the elbow to pull you back to your feet, and you have to agree with his statement.
"Let's make the baby do the magic hand thing," Greef suggests, twisting to look at the child that you still clutch. "Come on, baby! Do the magic hand thing!"
He holds up his fingers, twitching them in a mimicry of what the child did earlier, trying to replicate the power that held back the inferno of flame. Much to his chagrin, the infant only squeals and waves joyfully back.
You're not even sure if the kid could use the Force to bring down the ship. Only extremely strong wielders would be able to afford such a feat. The child had passed out from the fire alone, and while impressive, a stopping a raging TIE fighter in mid-air is another thing.
That low whine sound wells in the distance, pulsing against your ears. He’s coming abck around.
"I'm out of ideas," Greef says.
In a harsh rasp, Mando responds. "I'm not."
The edge of the Outland is visible. Gideon's skirting the craggy peakes of dunes behind, trying to get as close as possible before veering into the open. A blaster is pressed into your free hand as the Mandalorian pushes past, moving to the front of the ship. His hands raise, fingers hoisting the jetpack atop his back, locking it into place. Relisation beats through you.
"Are you crazy?!" you all but roar, joining Cara and Greef in firing at the ship that now streams straight towards you. "You're going to get yourself killed!"
Mando does not respond. At the push of a button on his wrist controls, the jetpack powers up in a sharp burst. Twin blasts of flame churn at the underside, growing in preparation. Gideon grows closer, and he just watches, body tensing with each second. Your attention is torn between the approaching Imperial craft and the man before you.
Emerald bolts begin to pepper the ground as Gideon fires, vessel screaming as it bears down. Just a hundred metres away, a small building explodes. The weight of the wind threatens to push your body back as it shrieks overhead. Just as it passes, the Mandalorian launches himself upward into the air, rising high into the sky above.
You have to twist to see it. The grappling hook that he enables slams into the side of the ship. Mando's form is but a flailing speck, but he manages to pull himself in, almost slamming against the exterior as he scrambles for a hold. Gideon pitches this way and that, trying to throw him off. The twists and turns disrupt your vision, causing you to lose sight of him.
Something explodes in the air below, drawing an echoing boom. A pang of fear shoots through you that it's Mando - that he’s dead - before you catch sight of him again, still clinging to exterior of the Moff's ship. It's unusual to feel so helpless, to watch from below and know that there's nothing that you can do to help. The child whines, obviously sharing the same sentiment, and you soothe him with distracted murmurs, rocking him in your arms. Still, your gaze can’t tear from the fray above.
Cara's hold pulls you from the boat just as the resonating sound of another blast rings through the sky. Roaring like a struck dragon, the Outland shatters, raining in broken chunks from the sky. 
Fuck. He did it. The prick actually did it.
But where is he?
Gaze snapping panickedly around, you finally fix on Mando's falling form. He's alive, kicking and struggling, fighting to ignite the jetpack again. It spurts alive just before he hits the ground nearby, and he lands a little more heavily than grace dictates. All the same, he's unharmed. A rueful laugh escapes your lips, head shaking as a mixture of relief and happiness dilutes the pounding adrenaline swirling in your chest.
You have to fight the urge to hurry towards him, and instead restrain yourself to keeping pace with Cara and Greef. After all, you need time to conjure a smart retort to offer as your opening line. You wouldn't want him to realise just how glad you are to see him in one working piece. And as you think about it, watching him draw closer, those tinges of anxiety begin to rise again, and slow your steps.
"That was impressive, Mando," Greef calls. "Very impressive." The group draws back together, and Karga leans forward, offering the next words with a smile. "It looks like your Guild rates have just gone up."
The Mandalorian ignores the statement, putting forth a question of his own. "Any more stormtroopers?"
With a wry grin, Cara's head shakes. "I think we cleaned up the town, but I'm going to stay around. Just to be sure."
Within your arms, the child wriggles. He leans forward, small arms outstretching to the Mandalorian. Laughing slightly, you step closer, passing the infant into the arms of his father figure. Mando takes him readily, fingers brushing against yours. The sensation is no longer unwelcome. The two of you have moved beyond that now - that old animosity - and as such, you don't immediately step from his side.
Not until he bids the others goodbye. Greef tries to encourage him to stay but the Mandalorian refuses. As his helmet lowers to focus on the kid, you know that he's remembering the armourer's words and the demands of his own Creed.
He has to bring the child back to the Jedi. To whatever Jedi are left.
As the Mandalorian turns - having said his piece in those usual few words - you just linger behind uncertainly, watching them through narrowed eyes. You can't help but be unsure of where you stand, even after everything's that happened. He had told you to get off his ship, and you both had exchanged some harsh words. Now that the crisis is over, that the fast-paced reunion has passed, you don't quite know how to act.
"What about you, Nomad?" Karga's voice turns your attention back to himself and Cara, and causes Mando to halt in his tracks. "Are you staying? Your rates will have sky-rocketed as well, you know. One of the best in the Guild, I can promise you that."
"I..." you trail off, gaze flickering between the Mandalorian's back, and Karga's keen eyes.
While you watch, almost holding your breath, Mando finally turns. The weight of his gaze falls heavily upon your face. That helmet tilts questioningly to the side, and his voice rings out, the tone striving to sound relaxed. To sound like he didn't just falter upon hearing Greef's words, and that your answer doesn't matter to him.
"What's the hold up? We need to get moving... Or aren't you coming?"
There's uncertainty at the end. Just the smallest note that he tries to mask, to make himself seem unperturbed. As if your company doesn't matter to him, when you are softly able to tell that it does.
The corners of your lips turn up in a wry smile, as you take a step forward. Just one, and then another, slowly approaching until you draw level with his side. Mando just watches you approach, form reflected in his visor, but you can see some of the tension lessen in his shoulders as you come to a confident halt beside him.
"Of course I am," you find yourself replying smugly, a sudden amusement rising in your chest as a memory flashes back through your mind. "It is my ship after all."
He seems confused at first. Not understanding the meaning of the words. As your head inclines mockingly, you can somehow tell the moment that the recollection flits by. 'Take the kid. The ship is yours now.'
The Mandalorian's helmet shakes in exasperation, his words almost a sigh. "I said that on my death bed."
He knows fine well that you're not about to let this go. And so, teasing grin stretching even further across your lips, you don't.
"Sorry Mando. No take backs."
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A/N: I hope that you liked it!
Well, we’re almost officially done with the Season 1 arc. One more chapter to round it off, that takes place shortly after this one, and then we’re on to Season 2. ;) It’ll be a softer one, and I’m really looking forward to it.
(Just to let you all know, I’m likely moving jobs in the next few weeks. It’s quite possible that my writing will slow down as it has over the past little bit as I get adjusted to the new role. Just wanted to say it in advance, so you know what to expect!)
And without further ado, I received more incredible pieces for ‘The Nomad’ during these past few weeks. Please see them below, and be sure to give these talented fellow readers some love! You all being so kind and engaged is truly what keeps me going. 
Art:
Chapter Eighteen: The Nomad (Warning: Spoilers) - Created by @boomtownboy
Our Little Nomando Family - Created by @boomtownboy
Grogu and Grandpa Watch An Argument (Warning: Spoilers) - Created by @uncle-kenobi
Laughter:
Don't Make My Summon My Grandpa (Warning: Spoilers) - Created by @uncle-kenobi
Music:
The Nomad: Playlist - Compiled by @the-bottom-of-the-abyss​
ALSO: Huge shoutout to @rattlethe-stars for making custom GIFs for all of my masterlists. Honestly, I’m so in love with every one of them, and you are so generous!
The fact that you guys took the time to make stuff for me absolutely blows my mind. When starting the story, I honestly never thought I’d get such amazing support. I am thankful for you all everyday!
To be notified of updates, please fill out my Taglist Form!
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AUTHOR REVEAL of the JATP’S FINAL ROUND!
Theme: Author’s Choice
Tropes:
Royalty AU
Soulmate AU
“Long Story Short…”
Author’s Choice
———
Look, Steal From the Rich. Do It. (Rated T) [Julie/Luke] by nik_knows_nothing
Summary: The Rebel Alliance needs Cassavel's support.
Cassavel needs a certain artifact returned to the royal family.
Luke mostly just needs someone to explain why his entire team has been pulled off duty in order to steal a statue.
(A Julie and the Phantoms Star Wars AU that kind of looks into the ramifications of soul marks in a turbulent society, but mostly just focuses on the gang infiltrating a fancy Core World party.)
take my heart (and take my hand) (Rated T) [Alex/Willie] by @sunsetcurbed
Summary: The stranger smiles. “I’m Willie,” he greets.
“Alex,” Alex nods back.
“Sir,” Willie says pointedly, and smirks up at him as he bows exaggeratedly.
“The word sir is coming out of your mouth directed at me, but I don’t feel like you just addressed me as a sir at all. And please, call me Alex.”
“My apologies,” Willie hums, straightening back up. And then, pointedly, he lowers himself back into the same bow and makes deliberate eye contact with Alex. “Sir.”
Alex blinks. “You’re not going to call me Alex, are you?”
“Absolutely not, Sir.”
the princess and the lord (Rated T) [Julie/Luke] by @the-most-beautiful-broom
Summary: On her eighteenth birthday, Julie Molina’s grandmother arrives in San Francisco, explains that Rose forfeited her claim to the throne of Genovia by marrying Ray, and that Julie is actually Julia Nayelis Adriana Reyes Molina, Princess of Genovia. Five years later, Julie is ready to take over the throne, but an old law surfaces and a rival for the throne, and Julie must decide between love and duty. // a JATP x Princess Diaries 2 AU
Diamond in the Rough (Rated G) [Julie/Luke] by @tmp-jatp
Summary: From down below, a loud shout rings. “Here you are!” Julie’s head whips to the street and there stand three palace guards, swords being drawn.
Julie jumps away from the window and adrenaline fills her veins. Apologetically she turns to the boy who mirrored her action. “They’re after me!” she cries at the same time as him. “They’re after you?”
His hands rise to cling at his hair and he grips tightly. “My parents must have sent them- they were never supposed to find me, I’m so sorry you got caught up in this-”
Julie spends his rambling crossing the room to the doorway they had just vacated not moments before. She doesn’t have time for emotion or sentimentality to stop her this time. She can’t let them catch her. Julie spins back around, reaching her hand out for him and cutting off his verbal thoughts. “Do you trust me?”
The JATP Aladdin AU
Okay, So You’re Interrupting the Political Guy Again, So Think About That (Rated T) [Julie/Luke] by nik_knows_nothing
Summary: Julie learns of the old king’s death approximately five minutes before Covington pulls her to one side and tasks her with bringing the new king back to court.
Which is normal, and all perfectly good and reasonable, except for one tiny detail: the king (the new king, not the dead one) was three or four points of succession away from the throne.
In other words, he was never, ever supposed to be king.
Still, he’s all that’s left, so Julie guesses they might as well go ahead and work with what they’ve got.
This’ll be totally fine.
(Julie and the Phantoms meets The Goblin Emperor meets a soulmate AU meets the author’s stunning lack of what I assume is basic knowledge on how monarchies work.)
i had the time of my life, fighting dragons with you (Rated T) [Julie/Luke] by @tonightthestarsalign
Summary: Lucius is born on a warm summer’s night. The midwife places the newborn against Emily’s chest and he looks up at her with wide eyes. He is a special baby, she knows.
Her suspicions are confirmed moments later, when the midwife gasps and points at Lucius’ back. There on her baby’s shoulder a constellation is forming. Emily instantly knows what it is. It’s a mark of the fated. They are destined for loves that burn brighter and larger than any other, loves that cross continents and defy time and space, destined to meet a soul that understands theirs as if they were two parts of a whole.
Her baby will do great things in his life.
or: luke gets hired by some noble to bring back the princess that was kidnapped by a dragon
born to be yours (Rated G) [Alex/Willie] by @willexxmercer
Summary: “Hello. It feels strange, resorting to notes like this, but I couldn’t think of any other way. I know you’re here, somewhere. At the ball. I’ve tried to find you for the past few nights. My parents always told me never to believe in looped days and soulmates, but I think this just proves that they were wrong.
My name is Willie. I don’t know how to find you, but sometimes I feel like I’m drawn to you. Like I can just sense you nearby. I don’t know if you’ll find this, but if you do, I’ll try to wait for you on the balcony.
Until we meet.”
our best days are yet unknown (Rated T) [Alex/Reggie/Willie] by @aroacethetic-shitpost
Summary: When Prince Alexander of Sacuria meets his fiance, Prince William of Coterra, he’s astonished to discover that he recognizes his daemon. He recognizes it as one of the other shapes that his own daemon is able to take… as his soulmate. The only problem? Alex already has a soulmate: Reggie Peters, his childhood best friend. What should he do about finally meeting his second soulmate?
Panic and run away? Yeah, sure.
Little does he know he’s about to have a bigger problem than that…
————
All the Winners can be found here.
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bee-dameron · 3 days ago
Ellieeeeeeeee
How do I begin to tell you how much I love you??? Gosh, I feel I've known you forever- you're one of the first people I interacted with on here, when before I had planned to simply post chapters and bounce but damn, you were so funny and engaging and genuine to everyone you spoke to that I was like pls i need this person to be my friend.
You have some of the best hot takes I've read and your understanding of the worlds you create, the feeling you want to evoke and the sentimentality that is always laced between your words is exquisite and something I admire so so much about you!
Do I even NEED to mention Meteor Showers? That I still think about daily after my life was irrevocably changed with your words? I swear-- I always liked Poe, but you kicked me in the bum with that fic and threw me deep down into the pit and I'm never escaping it! Sometimes I think you underestimate how truly talented you are-- but you literally made me obsessed with another character and I'm like??????????????? GODDESS PLS HAVE MERCY?
You're like a warm cup of tea and our curl club and clownery over everything SW, Clones and Marvel never fails to make my day better and brighter. I love you to pieces Ellie!! Never change 💜
Anonymously tell me how you feel about me? I can't reply, I just have to read it and post it.
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jomiddlemarch · 3 days ago
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to make sweet my hive
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“That ring is an affectation,” Alina said, gesturing at the curved silver talon on Aleksander’s little finger. “Or a crutch. Take your pick.”
“I gather you don’t like it, though it revealed you to me,” Aleksander said. “For that alone, I have an infinite fondness for it, milaya.”
“That’s terribly sentimental of you,” she said, smiling. “I can feel it. When you kiss me. You have to hold your hand a certain way or you might get it tangled in my hair. Or cut me.” They were lingering over glasses of tea and a plate of pastries, his hand resting on the table-top, the lingering new for both of them; Aleksander because he had always felt overwhelmed by the need to care for his Grisha, Alina because she’d rarely had a meal large enough to merit lingering over and a companion willing to sit with her. Ivan now guarded the time fiercely, as if the maids of the Little Palace could be assassins. Alina had not exactly warmed to Ivan, but she did appreciate his degree of conviction and what it allowed Aleksander to do.
“That’s why I’m very, very careful,” Aleksander said.
“But you don’t actually need it,” Alina went on. “You’re an amplifier; as soon as I learned what they are, I recognized that’s what I felt whenever you touched me, even in the slightest way. You don’t need to cut anyone to discover their power. So why are you still using it—it’s not sealed to you in some way that you think you can’t break, like a Kaelish geas?”
“No, it’s simply the custom. Tradition,” he said, leaning back in his chair as if it were his throne. “A symbol of power.”
“That’s a stupid reason, surely you see that,” Alina said. She broke off a piece of the pastry in front of him and popped it in her mouth. It was soaked in honey and she had to lick her fingers after, which she’d anticipated.
“I see that you are trying to distract me into agreeing with you,” he said, pushing the plate closer to her. He took great pleasure in watching her eat and was always trying to tempt her to take another bite of whatever she showed an interest in; if she’d had a mother or grandmother who’d ever cajoled her to finish her food, she might have found it annoying but she couldn’t, not when she knew he was thinking about how many years she’d gone without either appetite or the means to satisfy it. “Even if I consigned the kogot’ khishchnika to your jewel-box or had it melted down into a comb for you to wear to the Imperial Court, the other Grisha testers will still have to use theirs.”
“That’s another thing. Why must young Grisha be discovered by being hurt? Surely you can see how that’s a terrible way to begin, as well as being easy enough to subvert,” Alina said.
“I’ve never liked that the younglings are cut but it’s a small pain to bring them safely home to the Little Palace, well worth the cost,” Aleksander said.
“But it’s not necessary,” Alina protested. “It’s not the only way to find out and I don’t mean the accidental fires little Inferni are prone to. There are other methods.”
“What are you talking about? Ilya Morozova’s diaries don’t say anything about another way,” Aleksander said. Alina repressed the sudden, compelling urge to roll her eyes, took a sip of tea instead.
“There is more to being Grisha than Morozova’s diaries. Morozova’s research. You only have to be willing to look for something else,” Alina said. “I understand Morozova’s voice is dominant but that doesn’t make it the only one. The only source of truth or inquiry.”
“But where—” Aleksander looked so taken aback, so flustered and distressed, young and worried about being foolish when he was so much older than almost everyone else, Alina almost wished she’d begun the discussion in their bed, where she might kiss him easily before explaining more.
“The Library of the Little Palace, Sasha,” she said. “There are so many books there that no one ever reads. The Grisha you’ve raised are devoted to you, good soldiers and well aware that you want them safe and do whatever you can to make that happen. If you say Morozova is the one true path, no one’s going to argue. Even the few who are curious channel it—David has his workshop filled with all sorts of devices and inventions—or have it beaten out of them by Baghra. No one thought much of me spending extra time in the Library, after all, I hadn’t been at the Little Palace my entire childhood, I had plenty to catch up on, and frankly, most of the Grisha were happy to see me off in a corner, so they could almost pretend I’d never come, that the Sun Summoner was still just a myth. It’s not very comfortable eating herring next to a myth, you see, especially one who doesn’t look the way you expected.”
“That has stopped? Their disrespect?” Aleksander asked as she knew he would.
“Our marriage has fairly well eliminated that whole issue. Now they’ll worry about Lady Kirigana being offended. But if we taught them better, it would fix a lot of problems,” Alina said.
“Taught them what?”
“Master Geng’s Treatise on Vials, Dobrodeia of Kyiv’s papers on healing, work by the Kaelish scholar Elisheva Fulhame on fire, any number of books and essays and papers by other Grisha practitioners. They’re all in the Library, I didn’t have to go poking around radical bookshops in Os Alta. It’s just that no one else seems to read anything else but Morozova,” Alina said. There were texts she didn’t mention, didn’t intend to, the mystic work of Hildur and Inessa, puissant, provocative work that required her to access her light and then hold it in abeyance to comprehend even the briefest phrase.
“You spent a long time in the Library,” Aleksander said.
“I was curious. Nothing made any sense to me, especially merzost. So, I kept reading, once I figured out the Apparat wasn’t coming back,” Alina said.
“That’s how you found out about the marriage of the two keftas,” he said. “Research.”
“That’s how I found out we could make it. That it was meant for us,” Alina said. “That’s how I found out there was a way for us to be happy and for the world to be made right. But our marriage was only the beginning of what we can do.” She waited. Aleksander looked down, not meeting her gaze and she hoped she had told him well enough that he wouldn’t regret the marriage he’d seemed eager enough to claim as his choice, but whether or not he regretted it, they were bound. He might not be willing to entertain any further changes in the world.
He slid the ring off his finger and put in front of her. She remembered how it had felt cutting her open, sharp as a needle, destructive as an awl, and how it felt against her skin when he held her face in his face and kissed her as if he would never tire of it, his whole yearning soul put into the caress, its depth and heat and limitless power, how he tasted her like she was honeycomb, how she swallowed his filthy, unrestrained moans. It was just a ring now, the silver with a patina made more of a thousand tiny scratches than any tarnish.
“You decide what to do with it,” he said, taking her hand in his, letting his shadows seek after her light.
“I like the idea of the comb. Do you think David could set it with some amber drops?” Alina said.
“That doesn’t sound like much of a challenge for him,” Aleksander said.
“I wouldn’t wear it to court though. I’d wear it for you, when we are alone. I’d wear it alone, nothing else,” she said. “Because I know how much you like honey.”
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France Football World Cup: Hugo Lloris plays down row between Kylian and Olivier
Mbappe disapproved of Giroud for speaking out about the facility he acknowledged in a warm-up game. Lloris, it didn't damage the team completely. I reflect we allocated with it very fine. France goalkeeper and skipper Hugo Lloris has occupied yourself down the public argument between forwards Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud.
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Their preparations have been flawed by a divergence between the strikers, with Giroud disapproving the package of his teammates. Contempt coming off the seat to score double in a warm-up match and Mbappe hopeless the matter was made public.
On the eve of the Germany competition, Lloris supposed Mbappe and Giroud had possibly a short conversation. But that's usual, it's nothing uncommon. There are different sentiments in the locker room, this can occur. It didn't damage the team completely. We have got an excessive team essence. I reflect we distributed with it glowing. Kylian had to give or take something, but this is somewhat what he supposed in the past. We are attentive present-day on our initial competition in this race.
Les Bleus boss Didier Deschamps has a fully-fit team to choose from at the Allianz Arena with Mbappe, Karim Benzema, Giroud, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele among an affluence of aggressive options. These are outstanding players who have been playing at the highest level, supposed Lloris. For more to know about Football World Cup Hospitality Click here.
I appreciate that our challengers may be frightened of our spell and that we are admired for the attack we take. But we can only realize achievement through the cooperative. It will be significant to keep the right balance and be attentive in contrast to such an excessive opponent as Germany.
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Neuer: We're not underdogs
Germany skipper Manuel Neuer supposed his squad does not see themselves as underdogs compared to the world champions. The Germans are not as well-fancied as normal, consuming gone out at the cluster stage in the 2018 World Cup and with an impartially untried team established to line up. They will play in their group competitions in Munich. Neuer supposed it is very significant to start with a fruitful outcome.
We recognize we be obliged the supporter's something after the last event. We expect to enthuse them with the way we will play and we need their support. We know France has been successful in the past year. We are still a very decent squad, tight to play against. We have reverence for them but we don't understand ourselves by way of the underdogs. We need to win the sport here in Munich. For more to know about Football World Cup Packages Click here.
Joachim Low is making it for his last tournament as Germany head coach and trusts his team is overflowing with ambition and fervor. There is the massive expectation, he supposed. We are observing forward to the start for us compared to the ruling world champion this is somewhat superior.
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In the squad there is much keenness and determination, this is what you contain sense. All players are starving, grasping. They need to be fruitful and this makes me sense self-assured and sleep fine at night.
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staylibrary · 4 days ago
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➴ 𝗁𝗈𝗆𝖾𝗌𝗂𝖼𝗄 | 𝐥𝐞𝐞 𝐟𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐱
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𝗴𝗲𝗻𝗿𝗲∿ lee felix x gender neutral reader, new relationship, slight angst with a fluffy ending ♡
𝘀𝘂𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗿𝘆∿ after a visit to the beach, felix just can’t help but feel homesick. is home a place? a feeling? a person? he just can’t figure it out, that is until you finally gain the courage to go over and be there for him.
𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗱𝘀∿ 1.5k
𝘄𝗮𝗿𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴𝘀∿ none! unless themes of being homesick make you feel uncomfortable.
You could feel the warm sand snuggle itself between your toes as you wiggled them into the minuscule minerals. Legs pulled against your chest, you rested your head atop of your knees. The fire in front of you was burning tremendously, spreading its warmth to all of those around it.
Chan poked at it with a fire iron, adjusting the dark crumbling wood that rested on the bottom of the flames. His sleepy eyes reflecting the fire looked over in your direction before glancing to the side to look at Felix.
You copied his action, eyes wandering over to the solemn-looking man in front of the sea. He was in a similar position as you, but instead of resting his head on top of his knees, he had his arms wrapped around his legs. It was as if he was giving himself comfort by hugging himself, becoming entrapped within his own company and warmth. 
“You should go talk to him.” 
You let out a sigh as you turn your eyes away from Felix to look at Chan, “I don’t know…I tried earlier, but he said he wanted to be alone for a bit,” 
Chan set down the fire iron onto the sand and made his way over to you. Sitting next to you, he let out a sigh of his own, “Well, he’s… really homesick and has been more than usual lately. I don’t think he should be alone with his thoughts.”
You nodded, acknowledging his statement, knowing it would be true. Whenever Felix visited the beach, he was always so ecstatic. He would lose himself in the ocean, messing around with the guys and reveling in it because it felt like home. And then that’s when his happy sentiments would slowly shift to those of pain. 
His mind would fill with memories of times back home in Australia. The pretty beaches, his loving family, and an atmosphere that felt comfortable... that felt like home. Felix would try to contain these bittersweet feelings and not let them overwhelm him, but he just missed his home so much. 
“Wouldn’t it be better if you talked to him? I mean, you’re a fellow homesick Australian, too…” You said, still a bit unsure if your words could truly be of help to him. 
“You’re not from Korea either, so your insight is good too, plus… you’re his partner. It should be you.” He replied his tone just a tad bit teasing towards the end. 
“I know, but I just… I don’t want to… bother him. He said he wanted to be alone….” You sigh, glancing over towards Felix once more. He was still sitting there, looking out towards the ocean, lost in his thoughts all alone. 
“I know your relationship is still pretty new, so you don’t want to overstep or be too overbearing, but I think he needs you right now. He’s just too shy and nervous to outright say it,” Chan explained, putting a supportive hand on your shoulder, giving it a weak squeeze, “Trust me,” 
Still looking at Felix, you finally stood up and gave Chan a determined nod, “Okay, I’ll try again. Thanks, mister Felix whisperer,” 
As you made your descent towards Felix, you heard Chan laugh regarding your comment. Your legs carried you to where Felix was, feet relishing in the warmth of the sand despite the sun almost setting. As you walked towards your boyfriend, your mind scrambled, trying to think of the perfect words to say, the perfect words that could bring him solace. 
Once you reached Felix, you decided to sit next to him closely. Nerves began to build within you, fully hoping that you weren’t being too clingy or too forward. But when he reached for your hand and intertwined his tiny fingers with yours, you let out a mental sigh of relief. 
“Hey,” 
Felix looked over at you, and that’s when you noticed the tears that stained his freckled cheeks and the prominent pout on his lips, “Hey…”
“Felix…”
He let out a chuckled and wiped his tears with his free hand, and quickly put on a smile, but it didn’t reach his eyes, “I’m okay,” 
You shook your head and reached for his other hand, grabbing it gently, “Felix, you can talk to me, I want to be here for you,” You looked into his eyes, how they gleamed with tears, “Please,” 
And that’s when his expression changed once again, his lips quivering as he nodded his head sadly, “I… I just miss home. I miss my parents, my sisters…” he squeezed your hands, almost as if he was hoping the affectionate gesture could give him more courage to express his feelings, “I know I have the guys, and I have you, so I feel so… silly for feeling this way,” 
“It’s not silly,” You said, voice gentle and filled with understanding, “Sometimes I miss home, too,” 
Felix nodded and cleared his throat, eyes glued onto your intertwined hands that rested on his lap. 
“I think I understand. Being homesick can feel so lonely, so suffocating… even if you’re surrounded by people who love you. Your heart will still long for that place where you really feel at ease. It doesn’t make you a bad person, just makes you homesick.” 
You sighed as you finished your spiel, nerves bubbling within your stomach, a bit nervous that maybe you rambled on a bit too much. But instead, you were soon engulfed in a tight hug. 
You felt Felix’s arms wrap around you, one around your waist and the other around your shoulders, pulling you in as close as he could. He tucked his head into your neck, and you could soon feel his hot tears make contact with your skin. 
“You get it,” he mumbled, his words greatly muffled. 
You quickly wrapped your arms around Felix, pushing yourself into him, not caring that he was taking a bit too much oxygen out of you. His tears kept on spilling, and each tear made more cracks appear among your tender heart. 
“It’s okay Felix, let it out,” You soothed, fingers gently caressing the back of his head, wanting to comfort Felix in every way possible. So you just held him, held him tightly and tenderly as his tears continued to flow, seemingly never-ending. 
Felix sniffled as he pulled away but remained close, not removing his arms from around you. His teary red eyes bored into yours, and he smiled, this time genuine, “Thank you, thank you for listening,” He leaned in to press a quick kiss on your lips, his lips curling up a bit more when seeing your shocked expression, “And thank you for your comfort… you’re right.” 
He sighed as he glanced over towards the ocean, pressing his lips together, “The beach always makes me homesick, but I love the beach so… it’s bittersweet.” Felix looked back at you, a small smile still intact, “It never gets easier, but now I know I have you to lean on.” 
This time you returned his smile and nodded, admiring his blossoming expression, your conversation being the water he needed to bloom, “Of course, I’m always here for you,” 
“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” Felix repeated, leaning in to press a kiss against your cheek and then the other. Another chaste kiss was pressed onto your nose and forehead before leaving his last kiss on your lips, “I’m glad you came, sorry for being a bit cold earlier… saying I wanted to be alone and all,” 
You shook your head, “It’s okay to spend some time alone with your thoughts, but whenever you need me, I’m here,” 
“Gosh, I’m so lucky to have you,” Felix chuckled, pulling you in towards him to give you a squeeze. You took advantage of the opportunity and nuzzled yourself into his warm chest, taking note of how firm it was.  
“Well, I need you now. Let’s watch the sunset together, yeah?” He questioned, looking down at you with his beaming smile, no sign of prior sadness. 
“I’d like that,” You replied, hand gripping his t-shirt. 
Felix turned to face the ocean once again, still holding you in his arms. To make it easier on him, you moved with him as well. You shifted a bit, trying to find a comfortable position before leaning against your boyfriend again. 
He let out a content hum as you leaned against him and wrapped his arms around your middle tightly. Both of your eyes fixated on the setting sun, its presence turning the sky into a warm pink-orange hue, the threat of dark skies looming overhead.
As you were distracted by the beauty of nature, Felix looked away from the scenery to look down at you. His neutral lips formed a smile once again as he remembered the words you declared to him. 
His thoughts went back to what he was thinking of earlier, how home doesn’t have to be an exact location: it can be a person, too. And as he continued looking down at you with adoration, he thought maybe you could be his new home. He also thought that maybe, just maybe, he was falling in love. 
Oblivious to it all, you didn’t find the kiss atop of your head to be any sort of indicator of something more and instead interpreted it as a “thank you” for coming to him. 
“Chan was right,” You thought, smiling profoundly as you snuggled closer to Felix, eyes still looking forward to admiring the dwindling sun. 
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𝘁𝗮𝗴𝗹𝗶𝘀𝘁∿
@decembermoonskz @eajone @sleepylixie
𝘪𝘧 𝘺𝘰𝘶’𝘥 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦 𝘢𝘥𝘥𝘦𝘥 𝘱𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘦 𝘭𝘦𝘵 𝘮𝘦 𝘬𝘯𝘰𝘸! (𝗌𝖾𝗇𝖽 𝗆𝖾 “📚” 𝗍𝗁𝗋𝗈𝗎𝗀𝗁 𝖺𝗇 𝖺𝗌𝗄!)
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xserpx · 4 days ago
Rate the character: Leo dan Brock, Horatio Hornblower, Ardee West
I just did Hornblower, but...
LEO DAN BROCK:
looks: somewhat attractive | eh | not really my type | pretty | handsome | beautiful | stud | gorgeous | SWEET LORD MERCY
Pre-TTWP, Leo has a serious claim to being the most handsome man in the series, and honestly post-TTWP I can't imagine he's not still very attractive. I'm pretty sure his face, arms, arse, and other body parts are described very favourably by a number of other characters, male and female, throughout the first two books. Leo is objectively, inarguably hot af.
can you relate to this character on a personal level?: no | not really | somewhat | yes | they are me
I really relate to Leo's naivety. He always seems to land on his feet, and that harms him in that he's relatively late in learning many of life's more common hardships (though Leo is way more inclined than me to view his privilege as something he earned rather than acknowledging that much of it is luck and other people's hard work). He's fundamentally trusting of others, warm-hearted and passionate, and he's selectively sentimental - I totally get that. I also have to admit I relate way too much to him in how he never gives enough time to his friends. My problem is more a case of insecurity, though, rather than being a self-centred ass. I annoy myself with how dumb I can be.
Also he doesn't worship the ground Finree walks on, and I really can't relate to that at all.
would you date/be friends with this character in real life if they were real?: total bros | friends | best friends | date | become their steady boyfriend/ girlfriend | neither | i don’t kno
Leo is a sexist, racist, homophobic asshole with delusions of grandeur and a constant need to fight everything in order to keep from fighting himself. He's also a golden retriever friend, generous and funny, and he's a big, dumb, gay idiot who believes in the best of people and makes everyone feel good about themselves. Ultimately I'd hate him because of his bigotry, and because his self-centredness is almost impossible to ignore. I'd rather be friends with Jurand.
ARDEE WEST:
looks: somewhat attractive | eh | not really my type | pretty | handsome | beautiful | stud | gorgeous | SWEET LORD MERCY
I love Ardee. I love how she contradicts every fashionable trend and even gets Jezal looking respectfully.
can you relate to this character on a personal level?: no | not really | somewhat | yes | they are me
Nope. I don't drink, I don't go out seeking lovers, I don't have an abusive older brother, and I cry over every little thing. Aside from the fact we both have brown hair and brown eyes, I'm not sure if Ardee and I could be more different...
would you date/be friends with this character in real life if they were real?: total bros | friends | best friends | date | become their steady boyfriend/ girlfriend | neither | i don’t kno
I'd love to know Ardee, but I don't think she'd love to know me. We can't even bond over drinks. Hmm... If she doesn't want that Fall of the Master Maker boxset I would be more than happy to take it off her hands. :/
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sailorgreywolf-german · 4 days ago
Text
Dialect Differences
Summary: Austria and Switzerland enjoy a quiet moment. For @aphrarepairweek2021 day 1. The prompt is Language.
Ship: SwisAus (Edelweiss pair)
Characters: Switzerland and Austria.
Word Count: 1.3K
Austria was looking out the windows at the beautiful vistas of the Swiss Alps. There was a beautiful layer of snow on the peaks. It had been a beautiful and brisk winter day for a vacation, and as the sun set, Austria felt at peace.
In the years since the collapse of the empire, he had found the Alps to be a very comfortable escape from the troubles in Vienna. Those years had passed, but he still felt a certain comfortable connection to the mountains. And there was only one country who shared his beloved mountains, and understood his feelings about them.
Taking a break to ski in the comfort of the wintery landscape put him in a good mood. He was relaxing in the spacious cabin with a warm mug of hot chocolate in his hand. He was comfortably exhausted from a long day of skiing, and wanted nothing more than to drift off to sleep with pleasant company.
But, his companion looked like he was irritated as he scrolled through his phone. He had been texting Liechtenstein for at least twenty minutes, and it was clear that he was anxious.
Switzerland had a tendency to  worry about things at home when he was away, even when there was little to worry about. It was his habit to leave detailed instructions and then call to make sure that they were being followed.
Were he anyone else, Austria would have found the whole routine deeply annoying. It was hard to relax when the other person in the room was positively buzzing with concern. But, with Switzerland it was charming that he was concerned. It was his own particular way of showing love, even if it could occasionally come across as nagging. Austria had certainly never complained when he was younger and Switzerland had fussed over his injuries from the fights he could never win.
After all of the centuries that they had known each other, Austria could read him easily. And the frustrated hunch of his shoulders was incredibly clear, as was the wrinkle between his eyebrows.
He looked up at Switzerland, and let out a sigh. He said, trying to be as gentle as possible, “Just call and talk to her. You’ll feel better, and you’ll stop making that face.”
Switzerland looked up from his phone and said, his face not changing, “What face?”
Austria tried not to laugh at the fact that he was still making the exact same face. He replied, “This face.” Then he attempted to mimic the look of stress on his face.
The pantomime of scrunching his face made the right impression, and Switzerland made a huffy noise. He replied shortly, “I do not make that face.” That did get Austria to chuckle. Switzerland sighed again and added, “But if you don’t mind, I think I will call. I just want to make sure that she found my notes.”
Austria nodded, affirming that he was giving permission and said, “Tell Lili that I hope she’s having a good night.”
Then he took a sip of his hot chocolate as Switzerland dialed a number. He rattled off a series of questions, and then nodded as they were answered. He then blushed slightly as his sister said something that was apparently sweet.
He always blushed when he got even a little flustered by his own sentimentality. Austria couldn’t help but find it cute every time he saw it. For such a serious man, Switzerland could not hide his emotions at all.
With a chagrined smile and a little more embarrassed blush in his cheeks, Switzerland ended the call by saying, “I ha di liab.”
Austria took another drink before he asked, “Is it better now?”
He expected it was, because Switzerland looked like he had let out a breath that he had been holding. The other didn’t answer immediately, but instead took time to seat himself besides Austria on the couch.
Only once he was comfortably next to Austria, he answered, “Yes. She has already done everything I asked. She told me to stop worrying and enjoy myself.”
It didn’t surprise Austria at all, since he knew that Liechtenstein was capable of handling herself well. The little princess had often spent time at his court when he was still an empire, and he knew that she was not helpless. And she seemed interested in her adopted brother being able to relax a little.
He said, meeting Switzerland’s eyes, “She’s right, you know. She can handle things on her own.” He leaned against Switzerland, and added, “And you promised that this vacation was for the two of us.”
He could see the conflict in the other’s eyes, but his faith in Liechtenstein won out and he started to relax. Switzerland smirked and said, “I wasn’t going to say no. You offered to pay.”
Austria rolled his eyes. He had known that Switzerland could always be tempted with the promise of having to pay less for anything. But, it could not just be that. He answered, “Oh yes, you agreed to spend a week alone with me to save money. Did you at least tell Lili that you’re on a romantic trip?”
He thought for a moment that the comment would irritate Switzerland, but instead he got an amused chuckle. Switzerland put one arm around Austria’s shoulders, and answered, “Rod, with the way that you ski, I think that you just wanted someone to race with.”
Austria leaned into his arm, so that he was resting against his companion. He could not deny the accusation completely, since he did enjoy going fast and seeing if Switzerland could keep up. When they had been kids he had always been the one falling behind, and it felt so right to invert that paradigm.
He said, with a smile playing at the corner of his lips, “You’re just jealous that you can’t keep up.” He felt Switzerland softly touch his hair, like he wasn’t entirely comfortable with physical affection but he was trying.
He changed the subject, “You heard what I told her. You were listening to my call.”
Austria touched the other’s face softly, like he was about to say something sweet. And he took a silent moment before saying, “Basch, darling, I can’t understand a word you say when you speak that quickly.”
That brought the crease back between the blonde’s pale eyebrows. He responded with genuine confusion, “I don’t see why not. You speak German too.”
For a moment, Austria thought of dropping the subject before he irritated his companion. But, he was certain that Switzerland was not capable of really being mad at him, and he replied, “Oh, is that what you were speaking? It’s hard to tell when you change half the words.”
It was reassuring that Switzerland’s hand did not leave his hair, and the man didn’t pull away from him. Instead Switzerland said, “You should be wary of your own glass house. Your dialect isn’t much better than mine.”
Austria was certain that his dialect was charming, and less incomprehensible. Using a few words that he borrowed from Hungary or old Swabian did not mean it was difficult to understand him. Austria smirked and said, “At least everyone knows what I’m saying.”
Switzerland raised a skeptical eyebrow and said, “Lili understands me.” Austria answered, “Of course she does. She lives with you.”
He saw Switzerland roll his eyes, but he seemed to decide that it was not worth the argument. Instead, he tightened his arm around Austria’s shoulders and said, “I’m sure that you understand this.”
Austria nodded. He very much liked the feeling of having closeness, and no linguistic differences changed that. He answered, “I do, and I’m so glad that you’re here with me.”
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in-some-future-time · 4 days ago
favourite quote?
ahhh i've got so many!
-We've learned that quiet isn't always peace and the norms and notions of what just is, isn't always just-ice." -Amanda Gorman
-"To those accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression." -Anonymous
-"You may forget but let me tell you this: someone in some future time will think of us." -Sappho
-"Thinking about history makes me wonder how I’ll fit into it one day, I guess. And you too. I kinda wish people still wrote like that. History, huh? Bet we could make some."-Red, White and Royal Blue
-"The stars fight against us my friend." -Alexander Hamilton
-"Cold in my professions, warm in my friendships, I wish, my Dear Laurens, it might be in my power, by actions rather than words, to convince you that I love you." -Alexander Hamilton
-"we can die but once, and when more gloriously than in defense of our liberties" -John Laurens
-"You know the unalterable sentiments of your affectionate Laurens." -John Laurens
ahhhh i'm sorry this was a lot lmao, thanks for the ask :D
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viriyanon · 5 days ago
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this is so sappy but im sentimental. i'd like to say thank you to my mutuals. i dont know how to explain the feeling inside, it's weird. it's just, thank you. thank you is the only way to deliver it really. i may sound freak at the first time, unhinged at the second time, and chaotic childish at the third time. maybe my humour doesn't fit well or i annoy you with tag and ask games or im a vibe killer in chats or i fill your dash with posts from another dramas that you don't and/or won't watch but really. thanks. thanks for sticking around and make this quarantine as a third year student less suck. thanks for considering me as a friend, or acquaintance, if ur uncomfortable. thank you for interacting with me and appreciating my works and dealing with my chaotic ass. thank you for being my english speaking(?) writing(?) partner because im not a native and i need to keep practicing and advancing it. thank you for educating me about things my country isn't yet aware, through contents that you reblogs or even your own written opinion so i can be a kind of agent of change among my small circles of friends, family, etc.
thank you ppdcc crew, my first mutuals in this damn website. thank you lara for reaching out first thru dm i remember you commented abt a remark in my atots meta, if only my assignment was this interesting. and im happy that i finally have a tumblr friend (i had to be so awkward and weird back then, sorry lara 😞). thank you orthy for being so nice, so warm and welcoming, and so supportive to me youre like that mom on the bleacher with a camera and a a pair of sunglasses on the olympic day at school. thank you quan for your friendliness it always moves my heart even until now. thank you nads for your straightforward writings that i relate to a lot and also appreciation to my works (tbh i used to be scared of u, for no reason, i feel like ur gonna kick my ass but now i know ur just another sweet human dw i have no fear 😉) thank you nuria for sharing about yourself and welcoming me if i need the adulthood 101 talk and encouraging me to do what i really want in life even if it may cost me something but i should always try. thank you laura for your appreciation and supportive tags under my works and for hyping le wingmen with me, esp yod :"). thanks oli for immediately screaming about phutian (this is what i remember) in the beginning when i tagged ur post with "pls scream with me". and also for writing metas along with me and nads back in the atots day. i see three different pov for a certain scene/episode and i love that diversity. and other atots fams who i rarely talk to but know youre there and are the part of the family too, thank you too.
thank you too sass, mom friend 1, for reminding me to sleep and for your sexy creative juices and for being very supportive and warm. (pls let me have the aoty 2021). thank you jaz, mom friend 2, who i can easily talk to abt everything and for introducing me to the world of beautiful poems from around the world so now i can make more aesthetic contents. thank you mish, my tumblr baba, for translating english to 'russian-approved' russian and for being chaotic with me in the k&h fandom. during that aoty mess, i realize we probably are the craziest people in the fandom atm. thank you sof for helping me with my gifset and also providing me with sudden earth/atots related contents, i didn't see that coming sis. thank you mar whose tags always excite me and you do give a lot of ideas for sass, thank you for the supplies so we can enjoy sass' fic. thank you jina for providing us with top-tier contents and even though you don't do many tag games, you still do one for me and sass. thank you mahan for your junchun requests. tbh i saw them really as a side pairing only, i barely grew feelings for them. but now i do, i see them in a different light thanks to you. and other content creators who keep the angst real. thank you so much, you make my days wonderful. and you also make my uni assignments look even shittier than they already do, thank you so much.
the people in this post:
@atotsphutian @ataleofthousandstars @billkinsdancing @systoles-lfc @phapundao @thebadmoonsrising @nct-oli @the-sassiest-trixster @jazthespazz @mishathewtf @nineninepetals @marulo @itsdeanwinchester @mahan734
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cloudninescenes · 5 days ago
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take it higher (take it spin-off 3)
genre: smut
member: jake, appearances by the rest of hyung line (enhypen)
warnings/notes: fem!reader, oral, slight degredation, implied threesome
a/n: third spin-off to take it! thanks for patiently waiting guys! tbh idk how many installments are left but for now, FOR NOW, there might be two left. enjoy!
tagging: @j1ungluvr @minspalette @defxciii @fart200 @enhaenhaenhypen @spasmodicmuse
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"where's everyone?"
stepping out into your apartment's tiny balcony, you immediately wrap your arms around jake's torso, the warmth of his body a stark contrast to the chilly air blowing around you.
jake turns to peek at your shorter figure pressed up against his back, a smile settling on his face. he turns, your arms still encircled around him, until he's facing you, his own arms enveloping you in a hug.
"at the gym," jake answers, gently playing with the ends of your hair as he sways the two of you side to side. you almost purr at the feeling of his fingers working through your hair, goosebumps erupting on your skin as you shiver slightly.
"is my baby cold?" jake asks playfully, pulling away slightly so he could take a good look at you. you peer up at him, a smile easily making its way onto your face. there's something about jake that always made you smile, no matter the situation. his easygoing nature, paired with how dorky he can be at times, lead to a blossoming feeling that you can't quite put a name to.
"a little," you admit. you wind your arms tighter around him and he chuckles.
jake rubs his warm hands up and down your back before moving to your sides, going lower and lower with each pass of his hands, his fingers now tracing patterns on your hips. he moves his palms towards your ass, giving it a light squeeze as he pecks your lips.
"better?" jake's voice is low, his face closer to yours. you hum out a confirmation, leaning in to kiss jake properly. jake sighs into the kiss, letting you back him up against the concrete railing, his hands settling on the sides of your face.
"am i finally having you all to myself?" jake teases as you kiss down his neck, your hands going dangerously lower on his body.
"well, isn't that what you wanted all along?" you tease back, undoing the strings of his sweatpants. he hisses as you slip your hand past his waistband, feeling him up through his boxers.
"you're lucky our balcony isn't one of those open ones," jake breathes out as he eyes the solid walls encasing your balcony on either side. his breath hitches further as you pull his bottoms and underwear all the way down in one graceful swoop.
kneeling in front of him, you look up, smiling sweetly as you take his quickly hardening member in your hand.
"you're so pretty," jake blurts out, raking his fingers through your hair, admiring the way your eyes look at him with so much adoration.
you blush at the compliment, head turning towards the side. jake gently coaxes your gaze back towards him, his thumb running along your cheek.
"you know i--we'd do anything for you, right?" jake declares, expression softening as he looks you in the eye.
"this is such a weird time for you to get all sentimental," you giggle.
"yeah, well, you're about to suck me off, so this is me saying 'thank you' in advance," jake replies, pinching your cheek playfully.
you beam up at him before licking your lips. your tongue pokes out, teasing against jake's tip as he throws his head back. you flatten your tongue against the underside of his cock, enjoying the low groan that escapes jake's lips. you wrap your lips around his head, moving forward little by little, taking more of him into your mouth.
you feel his tip brush against your throat and you pull back before bobbing your head forward once again, setting up a steady rhythm as you properly start sucking jake off.
jake's chest heaves up and down as your mouth gets to work, his gaze falling onto the top of your head. he reaches over and threads his fingers in your hair, gripping lightly. you pull off, glossy eyes looking up as drool trickles down one side of your mouth.
"use me," you utter out, lips forming into a slight pout. jake lets out a breath as he guides his cock back into your mouth, his hold on your hair tightening. your hands settle on his thighs, anchoring you as you prepare for what's to come.
"always wanna be used like a little fucktoy," jake observes, pushing into your waiting mouth. you whimper, jake's first thrust hitting the back of your throat.
jake starts to snap his hips forward, keeping your head in place as you helplessly whine around him. you relax your throat as best as you can, breathing through your nose as you've learned from your other friends. one of your hands sneaks under your shorts and underwear, fingers immediately being coated by your wetness. you rub at your clit, the slight pain of jake's movements adding to the pleasure you're feeling in between your legs.
"look at you getting off like that," jake drawls out. "you love being our little slut, don't you?"
you whine again, his words going straight to your throbbing pussy. you suck in your cheeks extra hard, wanting to be as good as you can for jake, and he lets a louder-than-usual moan rip through him, his fingers tightening in your hair even more.
"always so obedient, aren't you _____?" jake says through gritted teeth, hips speeding up. tears streak down your face as the ache in your jaw starts to make itself known and the sting at the back of your throat grows into a raw pain.
you rub at your clit even faster, feeling your orgasm fast approaching. jake never ceases in his movements his breathing speeding up, something you took as a sign that he was close. your other hand leaves his thigh, your fingers pinching and rolling at one of your nipples through your shirt, wanting so bad to reach your own climax.
you moan around jake's cock as your fingers move harshly against your clit, your pussy clenching after a few moments, your orgasm slamming right into you.
you squeeze your eyes shut, rutting against your own hand and riding out your orgasm, as jake groans above you, his cock twitching in your mouth. you feel him spill his cum right against your throat, letting your jaw fall slack as you take all of him inside your mouth. you pucker your lips around him as you pull off, making him shiver at the sensitivity. you look up at him and swallow, licking any excess off from the corner of your lips.
the two of you are thrown into silence for a couple of minutes, with you catching your breath and jake redressing himself, a far-off look on his face as he ties his sweats back up.
"did you cum, too?" jake questions as you're pushing yourself up from your position on the floor. you nod, smiling shyly. jake bites his lip and shakes his head, leaning in to seal his lips over yours.
"fuck, you're so hot," jake murmurs against your lips. he pulls away and dips down, grabbing you by the back of your knees as he quite literally sweeps you into his arms. you yelp, wrapping your arms around his neck as he steps into the apartment, making a beeline for his room.
just then, the front door swings open, and in comes your three other roommates, fresh from your apartment building's gym.
jay glances at the two of you and snickers, heading off towards his room without saying a word. heeseung plops down onto the couch and gives the two of you a little salute and a quick 'have fun'. sunghoon sighs, settling beside heeseung, watching you and jake's figures disappear down the short hallway.
"jealous much?" heeseung asks, giving sunghoon a pointed look. sunghoon quickly shakes his head, avoiding eye contact.
"we talked about this," heeseung begins, pulling out his phone. "you know she's not the type to pick favorites, right?"
"i know," sunghoon answers, running a hand through his hair. "it's just gonna take some getting used to."
heeseung holds up his fist to sunghoon. "if anything gets too bothersome, we can all talk about it, okay?"
sunghoon bumps his fist with heeseung's, nodding, the younger's expression relaxing considerably.
"you can always join them if you want," heeseung suggests, smiling mischievously. sunghoon laughs, shaking his head.
"let jake have his moment," sunghoon says with a wave of his hand. just then, sunghoon's phone pings with a message.
you up to share right now? 😗
-jake
heeseung peers over before making a face at sunghoon, as if to say, 'i told you so'.
"you better thank me for manifesting that," heeseung says as sunghoon practically springs up from the couch.
"i hope she gives you amazing head next time, hyung!" sunghoon calls over his shoulder as he hurries off towards jake's room.
all heeseung could do is laugh.
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