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#the threads of memory
sparring-spirals 6 days ago
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i desperately need an episode of just the Bells sitting and talking to each other and checking in and touching base and bonding. both for "i live for that shit" reasons and because the amount of lore drops the last few episodes has left me yelling "MOON?" "HAUNTED?" "CITY?" "MOON CITY?" "RED?" "CAGE GOD EGG?" with increasing fervor and decreasing coherency. my brain was not built for this. i need like 80 minutes of everyone asking each other how they're feeling and in depth 1 on 1 talks and characters Vibing. CR please.
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redwinterroses a month ago
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Oh gosh I already have Such Thoughts around Loremaster Pix and I haven't even checked the tag to see what other people are saying yet but hang on gotta braindump--
His whole intro was about the old gods and titans dying and creating this world, their blood and bones becoming the civilizations that followed, which in turn fell and left their ruins to be the foundations of empires to follow. (Story nerd bit: so that means, I think, we are at least in the "third age" of this world: the gods and titans, then the ancients, and now the empires.)
But how does he know these things, unless he was there?
What if Pix is, as he said he wants to be, less a character and more a... a force, if you will. He is the past. He's a forgotten titan, a diminished god, a spirit of time and memory. A lorekeeper, a storyteller, a secret-holder... More and yet less than an emperor, less and yet more than a player in the tale. Maybe he doesn't remember it all -- diminishing can be hard on an immortal. But he remembers enough, enough to tell the story of the world and lead the current inhabitants to uncover the histories of their own lands.
And if I maybe headcanon that the Ancients were Empires s1, and this keeper of ancient stories could be a certain lost and forgotten desert king who vanished when his diminished immortality came sparking to hesitant life... you can't stop me.
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jingyismom 4 months ago
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Lan Wangji getting kidnapped during the Yin Iron quest by Wen Xu, who decides to humiliate Lan Wangji by messing with his memory.
(rated E, warning for perceived dubcon)
Wei Wuxian is of course tracking them closely, and thus opens the doors to an "inn" only to find a room full of beautiful courtesans鈥攁mong them Lan Wangji.
He's dripping in finery, his face made up to accentuate his fierce features, but the thing that stops Wei Wuxian short is that Lan Wangji doesn't even look at him at all.
Still, the relief at seeing him safe and unharmed is extreme. He almost calls out to him, but realizes a bit belatedly that something very strange is going on, and he should probably make sense of it before drawing attention to either of them. He makes his way through the鈥攂rothel, he realizes, face heating鈥攖oward Lan Zhan, and when he still doesn't look up, plops himself down beside him at the table where he鈥檚 playing a rather gaudy qin.
Lan Zhan ignores him entirely.
"Lan Zhan," he whispers urgently, "what happened? What are you doing here? And why are you...dressed...like that?"
Still, Lan Zhan ignores him.
Wei Wuxian tsks at him, frustrated, and grabs his arm, halting his song. "Lan Zhan!"
This, at last, earns him a steely glare. He lets go, and the music starts up again.
"Talk to me," he says. "Please. I came all this way, let me help."
"I do not know this 鈥楲an Zhan,鈥" Lan Zhan says. "And outside of paid patronage, I have need of nothing from you."
This stuns Wei Wuxian momentarily. He glances around, and sees a hawkish-looking madam overseeing the room, currently glaring at him. He sobers, thinking he's caught Lan Zhan's meaning. They鈥檙e being watched, so he鈥檇 better play along.
"Ah," he says, "apologies...I...got excited. You're just so beautiful I lost my head," he adds, hoping unabashed teasing might give him just a hint of the real Lan Zhan under the mask. But Lan Zhan doesn't react.聽
Wei Wuxian clears his throat. "Is there a place we can...um...talk?"
"You are talking now."
"La鈥! I mean...ah...G-Gongzi...that's not fair. I meant...more privately?"
It鈥檚 only because he鈥檚 so focused on figuring out whatever is going on that he notices Lan Zhan's sharp jaw clench, his full lips tighten.
"It's just that...I...I would like. To get to know you. Um. Better. Because鈥" he glances around. "You're so...beautiful? Alluring?"
"Do not give praise you do not mean," Lan Zhan intones, and finally, finally, it sounds like him.
Wei Wuxian huffs. "I do mean it," he says, absolutely still teasing and not at all telling the truth. "Gongzi is the most beautiful courtesan I have ever seen. So poised and lovely. He鈥"
"Quiet," Lan Zhan cuts him off.
Wei Wuxian can see the backs of his ears are red where the white makeup ends. He grins.
"What, you don't like to hear praise? What do you want to hear, then?" He tries to impress his real question with seriousness. He needs a clue as to what he should do here. "What should I say?"
There's a pause where he thinks Lan Zhan won't answer.
"Is it not for the patron to win the favor of his cherished one? Asking for help is not the way."
Wei Wuxian groans and almost, almost bangs his head on the table. If only Lan Zhan could give him something to understand this completely bizarre situation, maybe he could get them out of here.
"Fine," he says, feeling a million years old with the exhaustion of tracking the Wen
party through the night, and now this bizarre riddle instead of an end to his toil. "This one apologizes. He is determined to win your esteemed favor."
He casts about, and sees another courtesan demonstrating calligraphy.
"I'll be right back," he tells Lan Zhan. "Don't...ah...don't...abandon me while I'm gone."
Lan Zhan glances at him, and gives a tiny nod. Wei Wuxian relaxes infinitesimally.
He charms the calligraphy girl into letting him share her table for a moment with grand declarations of true love for one of her colleagues. He absolutely does not think about the words coming out of his mouth, he鈥檚 just saying whatever he thinks will work. And it does鈥攕he giggles and makes room for him conspiratorially, and he counts himself lucky.
The portrait he draws is quick, only broad strokes, not as detailed as the one he drew in the library, but that was ages ago now, and he's a better artist than he was then. He hopes Lan Zhan takes it as the token of...friendship? Old memories? Determination? That he means it as.
He rushes back with the ink still wet on the paper.
"Here," he says, laying it down behind the qin. "For you. It's you, see? And I gave you a...a bunny. Since. Well."
Lan Zhan stops playing, his hands hovering elegantly above the strings, as he stares at the paper.
Wei Wuxian waits in the silence, to see what Lan Zhan will do. If he'll fly into one of his unpredictable tempers, or maybe, possibly, relax into one of those rare smiles? Which of course he won't. Not when they're in such a strange, precarious, and dangerous situation.
But then, he does.
His rouged lips part softly, and he blinks in surprise, then looks up at him in silence.
Wei Wuxian squirms. "Did I...win Gongzi's favor? Or...is..."
He looks around again. The madam's attention is elsewhere.
"Tell me," he leans in, urgent once more, "tell me what I should do."
Lan Zhan takes a breath.
"You may visit me tonight."
"Okay," says Wei Wuxian. It's something. "Should I鈥"
"You already have a patron tonight," the madam squawks, out of nowhere. "An important one."
Lan Zhan's eyes lower to the table, and he nods. Wei Wuxian is knocked bluntly off-kilter by the amount of wrong and upsetting things in that exchange.
He focuses on the worst one.
"What important patron?" he demands, stomach queasy as the full picture of what's happening begins to form in his mind.
"What, think you can compete?" the madam sneers. "You can't, not with the heir of a great sect. You can have this one some other night."
A high-pitched whistle fills Wei Wuxian's ears, and his vision blurs briefly. His fists clench, but he manages not to tear the place apart.聽
Barely.
He looks at Lan Zhan, still staring at the table, and almost flies off the handle again. What did Wen Xu do to him, to make him act this way? To make him act as if鈥攁s if he would鈥攁s if鈥
"I understand," he tells the madam, voice almost even. "I'm just unlucky, I guess."
When she moves off, he leans in again, but not too close. He tries to appear casual.
"I'll come tonight," he says. "Just tell me when."
Lan Zhan looks at him in surprise. "I have a patron," he says.
Wei Wuxian has to look down at his lap to control himself, to beat back the useless rage at the proof that something has indeed been done to Lan Zhan. He has been harmed. He is not himself, not at all. His mind is not his own.
"I know," he says, feeling ill. "But I...I have to see you. Please? Just to talk."
He has to get Lan Zhan to see him alone, so they can get out. And he has to see him before his...patron...Wei Wuxian suppresses a shudder. He is going to kill Wen Xu for this. He is going to鈥攏o. No, Lan Zhan will get to kill him. When he's himself again. Yes. Lan Zhan will have revenge, will have justice.
"...Alright," Lan Zhan murmurs. "You may visit."
Wei Wuxian is strung so tightly with anger that he almost doesn鈥檛 feel the relief that some persistent part of Lan Zhan still recognizes him as his friend.聽
"Before him?" Wei Wuxian insists.
Lan Zhan nods. "As you wish."
~~~
Later, after the evening meal, Lan Wangji is yet to understand the strange feeling in his stomach. It began when that young man sat beside him, and grew stronger when he spoke as if they knew each other, when he flirted so shamelessly, and then so sweetly. It has not calmed since.
He tries to meditate to settle himself. He is a professional. He knows better than to allow emotions into his work. He goes through the motions鈥攖ouching up his face, perfuming the sheets. He kneels to prepare himself: fingers, oil, the small phallus that helps spread it deeper.
All of these things he does as he has done them countless times, as he was taught so long ago, but tonight, there is something different about it. The sensation feels...new. And when he presses the phallus deeper, errant thoughts catch in his mind鈥攐f the boy from today, and his smile, and his artist's hands, and the fact that he will be here soon鈥攁nd he gasps in surprise as pleasure makes him stiffen.
He pulls the phallus free, shaken. This is not how it normally feels. It is normally...
He tries to remember. He knows in his mind that it normally feels like nothing, perfunctory. Not something to enjoy鈥攏one of his work is, it is merely a job, a show to put on鈥攂ut he cannot remember the feeling. His mind slides past such details until he feels dizzy. He gives up.
He puts his tools away and cleans his hands, attempting to clear his mind. But as he dons his thin, billowing silk robe, and cinches it, anticipation fizzles in his limbs.
The knock on his window startles him, though they agreed the young man should arrive that way.
He opens it swiftly, and the youth pulls himself gracefully inside.
The anticipation sparks into something hotter.
"Tea?" Lan Wangji asks, indicating the brew waiting on the table.
The young man looks at him strangely.
"...There isn't much time," he says. "Before...well. We have to go."
Lan Wangji blinks, and steps back. "Go," he repeats.
"Yeah, we have to get out before Wen Xu鈥擫an Zhan, I know something is really wrong, but we have to leave if we want to figure it out."
Lan Wangji frowns. That name again. "My name is Lan Wangji. I am bound to this house. I am not permitted to leave. If you wish to go, then go."
The young man gapes at him for a long moment, then shakes his head as if to clear it. He looks away, his jaw working.
"Sorry," he says at length. "I'm sorry. I got ahead of myself. I just...feel...like I know you, somehow. And I...I want to take you away from here."
Lan Wangji swallows past the unfamiliar thickness in his throat. He has heard of such ridiculous speeches made by pathetic patrons before. But he is once again shaken to find that this speech feels neither ridiculous nor pathetic.聽
He straightens, remembering himself. One of the first lessons he ever learned is that leaving this house is certain death.
Though he cannot remember how or when he learned it.
"I do not wish to leave my home. If you wish to go, then go," he repeats.
The young man sighs. "I'm not leaving you," he says. "I came here with a purpose."
Lan Wangji nods. He prefers bluntness to seduction. He steps forward, and begins to unbuckle the young man's belt.
"Ah, ah!" he says, pulling Lan Wangji's hands away.
They stare at each other.
"That's not what I meant," he says, but his breathlessness belies him.
Lan Wangji gently disengages from his hold, allowing that some seduction may be in order.
"Perhaps," he says, "but it is what I intended."
He watches the young man's throat bob as he swallows and shakes his head.
"I, ah, no. We...you see, I meant it when I said I just wanted to get to know you. And, so. This..."
"...is a way to get to know me."
"Hhhha," the young man breathes. "This is not, oh, no, this is not鈥"
Lan Wangji puts his hands back on the young man's belt, and he stops talking.
"This is what you are here for. If you disagree, you may leave," he says.
The young man is breathing hard under his hands, and he refuses to dwell on how much he likes it.
"Is there no...third option?"
He looks so wide-eyed, so vulnerable, that Lan Wangji wants to eat him whole. He realizes abruptly that this feeling, blazing through him like fire through a drought, is desire. He wants him, badly, as he has never wanted anything else. Has wanted him since he first entered the house.
It feels, impossibly, as if he has wanted him since long before even that.
He does not want him to go, or to talk with him and watch him tire of his rigidness as so many do. He knows only one way to keep him coming back.
"No," he says. "I will have you, or you will leave."
(Perceived dubcon ahead! Lan Wangji is very much acting on his own true desires, but Wei Wuxian won't know that just yet! And Wei Wuxian is also acting in accord with his desires, but believes himself to be taking advantage! Oops!
Also in case it wasn't clear this JUST happened, like, in the span of a day or two, so any "memories" Lan Wangji has are false. He's never done any of this before.)
The young man looks as if Lan Wangji has just hit him over the head. Lan Wangji takes this opportunity to unbuckle the belt and toss it to the side, then pluck loose the knot of his outer robes.
"Wait, wait," the young man breathes.
He puts his hands over Lan Wangji's to still them again. They are slightly smaller, rough but warm. Gentle.
"I don't think I can actually. I don't think鈥"
Lan Wangji loses patience.
"The heir of a great sect will be here in less than a shichen, and my mistress has ways of checking if I am working, or preparing鈥攊f I am idle, she will know. And she will come and cast you out."
"But鈥"
"She has cultivators. Powerful ones. And soldiers to do her bidding."
The young man stares at him. Lan Wangji steps back, and folds his hands in front of him.
"Decide," he says, eyes on the floor. He is not one to beg, though he cannot remember having the urge to, before now.
"It's not that I...don't want," the young man begins, "I just...it's not fair to...since you..."
This is enough for Lan Wangji. He steps forward again, and makes quick work of the few dark layers between him and his goal. The young man's breath is hot and quick against his skin, giving him goosebumps, a tingling sensation he has never felt before.
"Lan鈥" the young man cuts off. "Gongzi. Are you certain? You.."
Something snaps in Lan Wangji, and he leans in and kisses him, quick, something he
knows he should never do. It is too intimate, too personal, and what's more, it does not do to smudge one's makeup before the main event.
But it shocks him, shocks both of them, if the young man's face is anything to go by. They stare at each other as the lightning fades from Lan Wangji's veins.
And then he does it again.
He lingers, this time, though not long. He should not smudge the paint. But he cannot help it. When he pulls away, the young man's mouth is stained darker. He wants to taste it. Thoroughly.
He shakes the feeling off, and composes himself before going to his knees.
The young man goes rigid in front of him. "Oh," he says, "that's not鈥"
Lan Wangji presses a hand against him through his trousers, and he cuts off with a punched-out noise. It is...satisfying. Deeply. Unexpectedly. Lan Wangji pulls the fabric down, sets his hand to hot flesh, and is gratified by the low noise it elicits. But he cannot seem to look up from his task.
He does not ever remember being so focused, so mesmerized by this action before. He does not remember seeing this body part and feeling desire, touching it and wanting more. But he does now.
He strokes it with purpose, and watches it harden further in his hand. His mouth waters. A gasp above him draws his attention, and he looks up. The young man's beautiful face is open with shock, dazed, but his hands are fisted in his open robes.
On an instinct he has never had before, Lan Wangji reaches up with his free hand and gently pries one fist free, to lace their fingers together. He does not look away from his wide, lovely eyes as he leans in, and drags the flat of his tongue up the shaft.
The young man's mouth falls open, his fingers tightening in Lan Wangji鈥檚 grasp.
"Fuck," he murmurs with feeling.
Lan Wangji hums and does it again. He uses his tongue and his fingers with skill, mindful still of the delicate paint on his face, until the young man is fully hard and beginning to drip. Lan Wangji catches some with the tip of his tongue, and though the taste is not pleasant, he wishes he could taste more. The dichotomy of this troubles him, but distantly, as does that of the tightness and pleasantness of the grip on his hand. It hurts, but in combination with the sounds of labored breathing and muffled groans, he likes it very much. At one particularly labored gasp from above him, Lan Wangji sits back on his heels and reaches for the young man's boots. This seems to startle him.
"Ah! No, no, let me," he says, leaning down.
Lan Wangji would normally not protest. But he catches his hand, firm.
"Allow me," he says.
They lock eyes, the young man's wide and dark with pleasure, with desire, and something else Lan Wangji does not wish to understand just now.
"Alright," the young man says softly, as if defeated. "Alright."
Lan Wangji removes his boots, and pulls his trousers off. He does not allow himself time to look, to appreciate his easy grace, the well-shaped planes and curves of him.
"On the bed," he says instead.
The young man lets out a shaky breath and does as he's told. Lan Wangji stands and looks at him, perched on the edge, nervous. He goes to him, and brushes a hand across his cheek before removing his simple guan and his vivid red ribbon, letting his masses of soft hair fall free. He runs his fingers through it, automatic, as if he has always meant to, though he has never done so before.
They are staring at each other again, something conflicted and pleading in the young man's expression.
"Will you lie back?" Lan Wangji asks.
"Yes," he says, closing his eyes.
But he does not move at first, simply nuzzles his head into Lan Wangji's hold, and breathes deeply. Lan Wangji waits, and lets him, his impatience fading under the weight of a deep, ancient fondness. It is terrifying. Lan Wangji holds onto it like a lifeline.
Eventually, the young man does move. He presses his lips to Lan Wangji's palm with a furtive glance at his face before pushing back. Lan Wangji's palm tingles as he watches him scoot over and lie down. He does look, then, his eyes selfish and thoughtless and hungry for the muscles of his stomach, the dark jut of his cock, the strength of his thighs. He climbs onto the bed after him and does not even think of stopping himself before dropping another short kiss to his lips.
"Be still," he murmurs to him.
He nods jerkily, blinking as if coming awake. Lan Wangji kneels astride him, and settles the silk of his robe so that it does not catch or drag. Elegance and ease are important aspects of what he does. Then he slips a hand beneath the hem, behind him, and around the cock beneath him. He holds it steady, and lines himself up to sink down on it.
He is not prepared for the way it feels. For the hot stretch, the interminable, filling pressure.
He gasps for air, momentarily confused by his shock, but that strange dizziness drives it from his mind, and he settles. He breathes, though his lungs try to spasm. His thighs shake, but he lowers himself slowly.
"Oh," breathes the young man, "oh, fuck, ah鈥"
The sound of his voice blooms warm and familiar in Lan Wangji's chest, and all at once, everything feels very, very good. He sinks down farther, taking more of him, circling his hips, leaning into the pleasure that lies just past the burn.
"Oh," he breathes, as his own cock twitches. It has never been hard during this before. In fact he is not certain if it has ever been this hard. "Oh."
The young man is heaving beneath him, a sheen of sweat glowing on his tan skin.
His hands are fisted in the bedding, pretty mouth open in pleasure. Lan Wangji rests a hand on his hard stomach as he seats himself fully.
"Is it good?" he asks, breathless and shaky, but somehow needing to know. He has never needed to be told before. "Does it feel good?"
"Yes," the young man groans. Lan Wangji can see him straining to keep still. "Yes, it feels, yes. Please, Lan鈥攁h, fuck...please."
Lan Wangji wants to kiss him, filthy and deep. He does not. He breathes, and lifts himself up, then grinds down, the beads of his hair ornaments clinking. They both make satisfied sounds, and Lan Wangji knows he cannot control himself much longer, his careful restraint fraying. He moves again, slow and purposeful, though it is possibly driving him insane.
"Would鈥攐h鈥攚ould gongzi like," he says with difficulty, "to see what he does to me?"
There is a ripping sound as the young man's fist jerks, tearing the bedding.
"Yes," he groans tightly, "yes, fuck, oh, Lan Zh鈥攆uck."
Lan Wangji does yet another thing he should not, and unties his sash, unraveling the costume. He rips it away, and opens the robes to put his whole self on display. The young man groans, his hands reaching out, then stopping.
"So beautiful," he says, quiet. Fiercely reverent.
His hips buck up into Lan Wangji, and a hot surge of pleasure courses through him, ripping a moan from his chest.
"Fuck," the young man says, "I鈥擨'm sorry鈥"
"Please," Lan Wangji begs, beyond all reason now, "please, oh鈥"
The young man fucks up into him again, and he almost collapses with the force of pleasure, his back arching, his head falling, his muscles failing briefly. The young man reaches out for him again, but still stops himself.
"Touch me," Lan Wangji rasps, taking hold of one of his wrists. He places it on his waist, and the sudden, squeezing grip forms a strange, pitiful sound in his throat.
The young man holds onto him, and fucks him, and murmurs praise, and Lan Wangji goes weak. He falls, bracing himself on the bed.
"Oh," he groans, "please."
The young man wraps both arms around him and rolls, pressing him down into the bed, pressing down into him with all his weight, with new force. Lan Wangji's vision begins to go dark.
"Yes," he breathes, "yes, Wei Ying, oh鈥"
The young man gasps, moans, "Lan Zhan," and fucks him deeper, shaking as he comes.
Lan Wangji's world goes blindingly white, and then black.
When his vision clears, the young man is lying beside him, watching him. His beautiful hair is a damp, tangled mess, and his robes trail from his shoulders, but his eyes are bright and intent. With such a face so close, and so open, Lan Wangji finds it difficult to recover his breath.
"You remember?" the young man asks.
"Remember?"
His lovely face clouds with confusion. "You said my name."
Lan Wangji blinks at him. "Your name?"
He frowns. "You said it, just now. When we were..."
With effort, Lan Wangji thinks back to just moments before.
"Wei Ying," he says. The syllables feel good in his mouth. Familiar.
Wei Ying smiles, heartbreakingly sunny. "My name. You remembered it."
Lan Wangji shakes his head, confusion making the dizziness threaten the edge of his mind. "I have never heard it before."
The young man鈥擶ei Ying鈥攍ooks devastated, and drops his face into the bedding.
"Why do I know it?" Lan Wangji asks, his heart beating hard.
Wei Ying shakes his head.
"I...I can鈥檛 explain it," he says. "I...knew yours too, before you said it.
"You called me Lan Zhan."
Wei Ying groans. "That was...a joke. It was dumb. But I...knew your name was Lan Wangji. And that...you like rabbits. And...I just..."
He lifts up his head to look at him. He looks miserable. "I knew you. You don't...feel like you know me?"
Lan Wangji considers him, though trying to think clearly with his body still humming and wrung out is difficult. He fights past it all, past the encroaching dizzying blur, and finds鈥e did...does鈥eel. Something strange and inexplicable for him.
"...Yes," he says. "I do."
"Lan...Lan Wangji," says Wei Ying. He goes up on his elbows to look down at him, serious. "I think...I...I don't know what I'll do if you make me leave here without you. I think we're fated. It's meant to be you and me, and I鈥擨 want. I don't want to leave you...ever again."
This declaration is nonsensical. It is horrifyingly emotional, and unrealistic, and Lan Wangji deeply, deeply feels the same. It is the scariest thing he has ever heard.
"Wei Ying," he says.
Wei Ying nods, his expression grim. "Come with me, right now. Nothing else matters鈥擨'm a cultivator, and I can bring you to a great sect. You'll be safe, and...you'll be with me."
Lan Wangji sits up, feeling blindsided and confused. His heart is beating hummingbird-quick.
"I know this is a lot," says Wei Ying, "but we have to go now. Before...before your patron comes."
He pauses.
"And if you don't want me then...let me at least鈥"
Finally, finally, Lan Wangji gives in. He kisses him, slow and deep and with no concern for the paint on his face. When he pulls away, Wei Ying is looking at him with an embarrassingly unguarded, happy expression. He looks away, his ears heating.
Wei Ying takes his hand.
"Let's get dressed. I'll fly us away.
~~THE NEXT DAY~~
Wei Wuxian knocks on Lan Zhan's door with a heavy heart.
They got into Qinghe very late, and he's been up all night in their library looking for answers. He's never been so depressed to solve a puzzle in his life. He just hopes Lan Zhan listened to him and hasn't gone out or spoken to anyone.
Well. He hopes other things, too. But he's staunchly not thinking of them just now.
Lan Zhan opens the door, and smiles when he sees its him.
Wei Wuxian's heart sinks further.
"Hey," he says, "sorry, I, um, had something to work on. But it's finished."
Lan Zhan nods, and sits at the table to set out teacups.
"Actually I...need your help."
Lan Zhan looks up at him. "My help?"
"Mn," Wei Wuxian nods. "I have to...ah, have an extra set of hands, to...make something."
"But I have no knowledge of cultivation,鈥 Lan Zhan says.
Wei Wuxian just barely stops himself from making a horrible face at the awful wrongness of it.
"That's okay," he says. "I just...would rather do it with you."
Lan Zhan's ears go pink, his face gently pleased. Wei Wuxian thinks very hard about all the ways he's going to have to punish himself for all of this once it's over.
He draws the array he found, with a few modifications, and gets Lan Zhan to stand in the middle of it.
"Okay," he says, "now copy what I do, and picture a dam breaking, and clear water overflowing riverbanks."
Lan Zhan gives him a quizzical look, but nods. Wei Wuxian guides him through the motions of unlocking spiritual energy.
He gasps, and his eyes go clouded as he had seen them do briefly the night before. He teeters, body locking up with the effects of the memory curse. Wei Wuxian activates the array. It lights up, and so does Lan Zhan. For a brief moment, he looks weightless, suspended, bathed in the bright white glow. Inhumanly beautiful.
And then it flares out, and Wei Wuxian rushes forward to steady him. Lan Zhan blinks, brow furrowed. Confused. He looks down at the array, and then seems to notice Wei Wuxian's hands on his arm. He stares at them. And then, very slowly, looks up at Wei Wuxian.
"Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian says, "are you back?"
Suddenly, Lan Zhan stumbles away from him, eyes wide. Wei Wuxian has a pang of terror that he's done something wrong, that he's made it even worse.
"Lan Zhan? Are you alright?"
Lan Zhan's eyes catch on the table, on the hair ornaments he was wearing the day before. He casts about.
"Bichen," he says. "Where is Bichen?"
A tiny reprieve of relief tugs at Wei Wuxian's joints at the name.
"I'm sorry, I don't know. I think Wen Xu has it."
Lan Zhan blanches, and then his face goes more livid than Wei Wuxian has ever seen it. He looks like fury personified. Wei Wuxian takes a step back, toward the door. He watches Lan Zhan's fists curl, watches his posture tighten, his anger hardening to stone, to ice.
"I will kill him," Lan Zhan bites out.
Wei Wuxian nods. "You will."
It seems to alert Lan Zhan to his continued presence. He looks at him, surprised, and drops his eyes to the floor.
"You can kill me, too, if you like," says Wei Wuxian. It comes out too lightly. It's not a joke.
Lan Zhan flinches. "Wei Ying."
"I'll go," he says. "Now that you're fine. You can decide on that later."
"No!" Lan Zhan lurches toward him, then stops. He's breathing hard. "Thank you," he says. "For...saving my life."聽
He bows.
And then folds himself down to kneel.
"I am sorry."
He touches his forehead to the floor before Wei Wuxian can stop him.
"Lan Zhan!" Wei Wuxian shouts, pulling him up. "Don't. Don't!"
Lan Zhan fights him to stay kneeling, so Wei Wuxian gives up and kneels beside him, pushing him away from the floor.
"Stop it. Lan Zhan, stop, please don't apologize to me."
"I cannot ask your forgiveness," Lan Zhan insists, still fighting. "Please tell this one鈥"
"Lan Zhan!" Wei Wuxian shouts, shaking him by the shoulders. "Stop. Don't apologize. I should be the one apologizing. I...should have gotten you out, not鈥攖aken advantage of鈥"
Lan Zhan is shaking his head, eyes wide with horror. "I gave you no choice. I made you. I forced you to鈥"
"Everything I said to you was true," says Wei Wuxian.
Lan Zhan stares at him.
"That...I think we're fated. And I never...never want to leave you again. And that I wanted all of it. It's true." Wei Wuxian lets go of him, fighting back tears. "I wanted it. Before, since鈥攆or a long time. So you can take your revenge on me, too, Lan Zhan. It's my fault." He hangs his head. "I'm sorry. You can hate me. You can do whatever you want to me."
It's a long time before Lan Zhan speaks.聽
Wei Wuxian spends all of it deep in anguish.
"Wei Ying," Lan Zhan says, hoarse. "My memory was...not mine. But the things I wanted. The things I did." He takes a breath. "They were."
At first, Wei Wuxian thinks he's misunderstood. He glances at him, and finds his expression distressingly open.
"...Lan Zhan?"
He looks down. "I have...wanted. I have dreamed. Of鈥"
Wei Wuxian finds himself clutching the front of Lan Wangji's robes.
"Lan Zhan. Can I kiss you? Would that be鈥"
They stare at each other, breath equally ragged in the silence.
"Yes," says Lan Zhan, looking dazed.
So Wei Wuxian does. He kisses him, and kisses him, and after a stunned moment, Lan Zhan kisses him back.
Wei Wuxian feels as light as the first time he flew his sword. He feels as powerful as the first time he destroyed a monster. When he pulls away, Lan Zhan stops him with a hand fisted in his robes. He's breathing hard, his eyes alight. His mouth is almost as red as it was when it was painted.
"Again," he says.
Wei Wuxian smiles, and does as he's told.
(Lan Wangji absolutely kills Wen Xu before the Cloud Recesses ever burn, which creates a different but more manageable set of problems. Everyone you love lives, everyone you hate dies, and Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian live happily ever after. The end!)
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thededfa 8 days ago
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I have several yards warped up on my new inkle loom and a very simple pattern on the tablets to practice with it.
My youngest child asked if they could try, and so I showed them how to pull the shuttle through the shed and tighten and beat the threads. I helped them turn the cards and they were happy after a few rows.
There is a wonky spot in the weaving now, a little bumpy and wobbly spot where the tension wasn鈥檛 perfect, and I鈥檓 going to smile every time I see it, remembering their excited smile that they got to help me weave
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doortotomorrow 6 months ago
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You are more important than any other person in this universe
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cor-ardens 6 months ago
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Memories can be polished, like objects taken out, burnished, and contemplated, or they can flitter just out of reach, like lost threads of broken webs. To remember is to have two selves, one in the memory, one thinking about the memory, but the two are not precisely distinct, and separating them can be dizzying.
A. S. Byatt, introduction to Memory: An Anthology
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keykidpilipili 20 days ago
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There is subtle and Namine warning Sora through the disney characters is not one of them.
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mbti-enemies 3 months ago
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isfp: dammit intj j found a good book
entp: yeah so??
isfp: well now im not gonna get any response from them until they finish binge reading
entp: oh yh lets see about that ...
entp: *yells* READING A BOOK IS THE SAME AS MINDLESSLY WATCHING TV
intj: *slams book shut and gets ready for a fight*
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pastafossa 4 months ago
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fellow writer here 馃憢馃徎 I wanted to know what your drafting process was like for TRT鈥ow did the idea come to fruition and how do you draft each chapter? do you follow a plan to guide the story or just wing it? It鈥檚 one of the best I鈥檝e ever read and I鈥檝e always wondered what your writing/thought process looks like
Heyo writer friend! I can absolutely talk about this! And I'm going to do the best I can not to sound too much like this:
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-How did the idea become TRT: so after a friend challenged me to try a 2nd POV fic (the only POV I hadn't written yet) and I'd chosen DD, I was trying to think of an idea that I could build a plot around. That was when I saw a little image blurb that said something like, 'In mythology, a red string of fate ties two soulmates together. It can tangle or stretch but will never break.' And my brain went... what if you had someone who could see those threads? And what if there were more threads, more colors, more types of connections? What if you could feel them? The plotline kind of blossomed up around that: obviously it would be useful for tracking, so a Big Bad should want to use it (enter Man in the White Coat funded by the military), and all protagonists need a Big Secret, so I can use one of my favorite tropes of the Morally Grey But Likeable Bad Dude (enter Ciro). I'd also been taught about the seven basic plotlines for large stories, so it made sense to choose a combo of 'Overcoming The Monster' and 'Rebirth' since those are continual themes explored by multiple characters in the DD universe. I also looked for openings to write my take on my favorite tropes from my favorite stories, and so those influences are there if you know what to look for (books like the Dresden Files, sci-fi fare like Stranger Things, etc).
-How the fuck did you plan this beast and the chapters: I do in fact have a guide/outline for TRT to guide me for each chapter! I generally wing it for shorter fics, but once I realized just how big this was going to be and decided I was going to go for it, I knew I needed an outline. I actually figured out what worked based on talking at a con to Mike Laidlaw, who at the time was the creative director of the Dragon Age series at Bioware, which is known for expansive stories with rich, detailed, branching plotlines. I wanted to know how the hell they kept track of everything, and bless him, he talked with me for a good while. They use a combo of a wiki page and twine, and twine was visual which worked well for me - highly, highly recommend twine. I've got my outline broken down in general events/themes/arcs, and then get more detailed as needed, though not too detailed since I like a little freedom in deciding how to do it as the event gets closer. Generally, everything flows downwards into the chapters like so:
Overall arc: these are the two arcs I listed above - Overcoming the Monster and Rebirth. Think 'Destroy the Ring' for LOTR. Even when a bunch of other stuff happens, these are the two eventual end destinations. I've got this broken down into general stages (which will be broken down further, as you'll see below) like, 'Avoiding connection due to fear of WC', 'Reveals WC tracking', 'Decides to stay and fight WC', 'Thread Training As Prep', 'S.H.I.E.L.D. involved to fight WC', 'Almost Caught By WC', etc. This allows me, at a glance, to figure out how the major events are driving everything else that's happening in any given chapter: how is it influencing the emotions of the characters? How is it nudging events along? What clues should I be leaving? Etc. It also lets me figure out how to create a rising arc of tension. This is then broken down further as needed, and I can get as specific as possible (I broke down Miami pretty detailed as I got closer to it). I also try to make sure most of the smaller arcs in the chapters nudge these two plotlines along at least a little. Everything should serve your overall arc in some way, is what I was taught. Admittedly I sometimes deviate from that cause this is fic and it's fun (aka: why this story is so long), but if I were publishing this, I'd snip some of those elements out.
Major Arcs: these are sometimes breakdowns of the overall arc (say, Matt and her relationship, which both plays into the Rebirth arc and also is an arc of its own), and sometimes they're standalone plotlines. If it were a tv show, some of these would be classed as the arcs for a single season rather than the entire show. I've got Matt and her relationship broken down into stages for this - 'Wanting to Connect', 'Struggling Not To Connect', 'Considering Running To Escape Connect', 'Accepting Connection', things like that. I then have those events broken down further, so 'accepting connection', for example, is broken down into the kidnapping arc, which fuels those chapters.
Minor Arcs/Breakdown Arcs: and here is where chapters usually pop up, and the place I might wing it. This is the reason I leave myself some generalities and open doors in the outlines, specifically so I can go with how the story's flowing at present. Sometimes I can write a chapter/scene in from the very beginning before I have the outline worked out, because I know they'll fit SOMEWHERE even if I'm not sure where or how yet. I had the Post-Nobu chapters plotted out from the very beginning, for example, and the Kidnapping plotline was also written up really early on when I was inspired and the muse bit. Other times, when I'm actually drafting a chapter, I look at where we are in the overall arcs and major arcs, figure out how the plot needs to be progressed (or if we just hit something heavy and need a break), and workshop around different ideas until I find one that fits. While drafting it out, I keep notes at the top of goals for that chapter and the driving theme (so Devil Hunt themes/goals are, say, releasing the Devil, displays of relationship trust, thread training, and just plain fun). Then I write out an in-order list of, 'things that need to happen'. I usually re-read the previous chapter, too, so that I can ensure things flow properly from one chapter to the next. Once I've got all that down, I just... sit and write it out in a fairly basic fashion, glancing at the themes as needed, but still allowing myself the freedom to deviate a little if the flow needs to veer off a little, especially since I can nudge things around in editing (fun fact: roughly forty percent of each chapter you read in TRT is added in the editing process!).
So basically, when it comes to drafting chapters and outlines for a long fic or story like TRT, the way I work is: I like having an outline, specifically so I can figure out how to drive the plot and what clues/foreshadowing I need to leave ages ahead of time. At the same time, I always remember to leave myself a little room to breathe in individual chapters. I've found that locking myself in too much can either stifle creativity or I wind up painting myself into a corner. Let your outline and draft be the bones of the story, the muscle and the meat, while the chapters themselves are your clothes, made to be changed and altered as needed.
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romeo-the-homeo 25 days ago
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only d(a)emons can modify memory and only they can slice threads. imagine u piss off a d(a)emon so bad they remove u from the empowered world entirely LMAO
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yukitsunoda a year ago
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"Breathe, Darling. This is just a chapter. It's not your whole story."聽 For the Daniel fans going through it this season, form is temporary, class is permanent, he鈥檒l be back 馃挏
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lesbianshepard 10 months ago
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oh to be eleven years old again and on the neopets roleplay boards pretending to be a vampire
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get-back-homeward 4 months ago
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La Marseillaise Intro
Two decades ago, I studied recordings of La Marseillaise, the French national anthem, for a school project. Note for note, word for word, I memorized it for weeks in preparation to teach it back to the class. It鈥檚 still probably the best French assignment I ever had, and I probably should have been assigned more like it because to this day it鈥檚 still the most accurate French I can speak. A reminder: teach kids language through music.
Ever since then, I鈥檝e wondered.
Why do the Beatles decide to use the French national anthem to open All You Need Is Love?
Listening to it today...
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I finally connected the dots.
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Oh, right.
PARIS.
The city John and Paul have a decades-long obsession with because of that one 2-week trip they took together in 1961.
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These morons really have their most obvious basic bitches moment on the most watched livecast of all time.
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legalbrats 5 months ago
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Thundering Memories
Starter for @xmfxne
Working on building a justice system of a country from the ground up meant, as it turned out, staying up late quite often. Not that Ema was a stranger to this. But she still didn鈥檛 find it fun. She was a woman of practical science- Not sitting-all-day-inside-and-doing-paper-work science! Nonetheless, they had to write and re-write things and keep everything organazied. They would鈥檝e gone insane otherwise.聽
So, instead, she was going insane by helping Apollo with it today. She didn鈥檛 even notice how late it had gotten or how the weather had changed... until the sudden thunder made her jump and drop her pen.
鈥淪hit,鈥 she hissed under her breath and turned to look at the window, 鈥淲hat was the forecast for today?鈥 Her eyes lingered on the darkness outside before she bent down to look for the pen.
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Damaged Doll: Chapter 3
Summary: Angeal and Zack discover a man in all black trapped under boulders in the mountains near Icicle Village. They notice things are extremely wrong about this man, but one thing demands their attention: mako blue eyes with slit pupils.聽Sephiroth will want to see this. And meeting him only raises more questions than answers. But what happens when this blonde is face to face with the silver general himself?
Based on this prompt by @im-totally-not-an-alien
Please Enjoy!
Chapter 3: A Link
A short pause filled the room, snake like eyes bearing into each other, one with utter obsession, the other with incurable curiosity.聽
Sephiroth鈥檚 throat hitched, despite all of his planning, all of his preparation. It was his mother, the woman he was punished for asking about. The connection he never had but desperately needed, no matter how many times he was told he was better, different, and had no need for such pointless connections. He could finally learn about his mother. He took one last breath to clear it before asking, 鈥淗ow do you know my mother鈥檚 name?鈥 He hoped this would be the least complicated question, or at least the least complicated answer he鈥檇 receive tonight. 鈥淗ow do you know my mother is Jenova?鈥
鈥淚t鈥檚 the name you know, therefore the name she took,鈥 He answered simply, like that explained anything, 鈥淵our hair and the shape of your eyes are the same as hers.鈥
He knew he should be smarter than this, much more cautious of the abnormal answer, but a childish longing held his rational mind hostage as he answered mindlessly, 鈥淪he looked like me?鈥
He nodded.聽
鈥淲hat was she like鈥?鈥 His voice was small, and he received an almost caring, empathetic look from the blonde.
鈥淧owerful. Intelligent. A tactician. A savior to so many.鈥 He paused as he hunted for an answer. 鈥溾he was caring. Kind. Beautiful.鈥 A wistful expression claimed the patient鈥檚 slitted eyes, which, peculiarly, expanded like a cat鈥檚 in the dark. 鈥淵ou鈥檙e so much like her, My prince.鈥
The general forced down the bubble of warmth from the comparison calmly, attempting to focus on his goal. 鈥淗ow did you know her?鈥澛
鈥淵our mother created me.鈥 He answered truthfully, but that wasn鈥檛 possible. His age seemed about the same as Sephiroth鈥檚.聽
鈥溾楥reated鈥?鈥
Cloud lifted his head in confusion for a moment before nodding. 鈥淵es. She created me from the stone and glass in the north.鈥
Sephiroth only raised a brow, but Cloud did not continue.聽
Instead, he returned to a different topic, a bit of explanation before he planned to continue his answer evident in his voice. 鈥淲hen your mother came to this planet, she-鈥
鈥淪top,鈥 He ordered in bewilderment, shaking his head and hands softly in wait, gaining instant silence. He always showed more emotion when it came to his mother. 鈥溾楾his Planet鈥?鈥
The blonde looked down, folding his hands neatly in his lap before raising his eyes hesitantly. 鈥淔orgive me, My prince, I must ask...鈥 it was the first time his voice faltered in front of Sephiroth, matching his currently fractured state. 鈥淲hat do you know of your mother鈥?鈥
Sephiroth鈥檚 heart dropped at the question, his confusion replaced with the ever gaping hole in his chest. The color vanished from his face. 鈥淗er name was Jenova. And she died giving birth to me.鈥 He did not meet the gaze of the patient as he finished, refusing to see the reaction to the statement he told no one before, 鈥淭hat鈥檚 all I know.鈥 He closed his eyes to center himself, and he heard the patient breathe deeply in thought, analysis, interrogation, determination.聽
鈥淵et you鈥檝e come so far鈥︹ Was that surprise, the smallest hint, in the raspy voice? Then it was back to steel, the solid tone he only used to Him. 鈥...Your mother would be proud.鈥澛
Sephiroth鈥檚 chest warmed again, and with a nearly sad expression on his face, he didn鈥檛 fight it.
鈥淧lease, let me explain, My prince.鈥澛
He sighed softly and nodded, his signal to continue.聽
The blonde completely understood. 鈥淵our mother was not from this planet.鈥 Sephiroth nearly jerked in question, and though he did not ask, the blonde knew exactly what he wanted to know. 鈥淭he humans would call her an alien, but she is so much more than an extraterrestrial.鈥 His change in tense was noticed, but the general swallowed to soothe his inquiring mind, despite the cautiousness slowly stirring within. 鈥淪he was a godsend. Multiple planets would call out to her when their beings were in danger due to the lifeforms they could not control. And after aiding them, she ruled them as queen. This planet, the Lifestream itself, cried. And she answered.鈥
Sephiroth opened and closed his mouth once, like a guppy, too many questions colliding that only one stuttered to escape. 鈥淗-How?鈥
鈥淎 meteor. I believe鈥he crater should still be there.鈥
鈥淭he Northern Crater?鈥
Cloud nodded. 鈥淵es.鈥
The silver general shook his head, denying this explanation. This was nonsense, a terrible waste of time. You're insane. Completely insane or delusional. After the state he was found in, the general wasn鈥檛 surprised, just disappointed. Perhaps it was brain damage from the boulders. Perhaps it was the unspecified length of solitude. Perhaps he was never well, and that鈥檚 how he ended up in that cave in the first place.
鈥淢y prince, please wait,鈥 The blonde begged when Sephiroth took a step toward the door, and the general gave him a tired look. 鈥淧lease, I speak the truth, but it鈥︹ He trailed off, then closed his eyes and breathed. 鈥淚t may not seem possible today. This world has changed so much. But your mother remains the same. Please, what other questions do you have about her?鈥
Is he using my own mother to justify this asinine story? Is he trying to control me just because our eyes are the same? The slightest counter shone out of the inhuman eyes.
Cloud鈥檚 eyes widened in defeat, before he closed the lids and bowed his head, dread settling in his features as the fire dwindled. 鈥淚 have bothered you. I鈥檒l stop鈥︹
鈥淭ell me something I don鈥檛 know,鈥 Sephiroth stated suddenly, even surprising himself with the burst of his thoughts before turning to the blonde with a cold expression. One last chance. 鈥淭ell me something I don鈥檛 know.鈥 That鈥檚 even remotely possible, the silent half of his sentence was caught as well.
Cloud took a pained breath, then paused, analyzing his mind and the room for what he could believably explain. 鈥...Do you truly believe your mother is dead鈥?鈥
His heart dropped, the hook ripping through his walls and reeling him in completely.
鈥淗ow many times were you told鈥?鈥
鈥淥nce.鈥 His eyes winced closed, the memory excruciating as it overwhelmed every cell in his body, dragging him down to the depths of the suppressed and fragile mind. Back to a little boy, stronger than any machine or monster they threw at him, special and different and above all else, though he never believed it. He was barely strong enough, barely as strong as they wanted, finally making his鈥 finally making someone proud of him.
He鈥檇 be leaving for Wutai in a week, his life no longer dictated by every word out of Hojo鈥檚 cruel mouth. He鈥檇 be the first SOLDIER, out of the lab, in the field, in the real world.聽
Maybe he鈥檇 finally feel rain.聽
But Hojo, for the first time in his life, offered him a gift, any gift within reason, the only shred of joy the scientist ever offered. The opportunity.聽
鈥淢ake your decision while I'm feeling sentimental, boy.鈥
Though he fidgeted in his spot as he thought, the minute of silence that passed did not change his question. He prepared for the argument, the yelling he couldn鈥檛 capture in his throat when Hojo inevitably went back on the deal after hearing what he wanted. Clothes, weapons, equipment, he wanted none of those things, nothing material. He took a breath before forcing his eyes to the scientist.聽
鈥...Okay. I鈥檝e made my choice.鈥
He felt the gaze burn through the black glasses as the scientist crossed his arms, an annoyed gesture to tell him to continue.
One more breath. One last attempt at steeling himself. 鈥淚 want to know about my parents.鈥 He felt the white hot burn from the white reflection in the back glasses in his heart. 鈥淏oth of them. That鈥檚 the only thing I want.鈥
Hojo nearly stood and tensed in response, analyzing him, calculating his mind. The glare and pause nearly stung his skin, but he refused to back down. 鈥淵ou鈥檙e better than this. You know you鈥檙e better than this.鈥
鈥淚t鈥檚 not an attachment-鈥
鈥淭hen what is it, boy?鈥 The scientist spat. 鈥淚s it curiosity? Is that the lie you鈥檙e about to tell me? That you don鈥檛 care about the answer? You 鈥榡ust鈥 want to know?鈥
Like glass, cracking at the force of the words. 鈥淚 won鈥檛 ask again鈥 Please鈥 Just once...鈥 He nearly whined, his voice as small as a field mouse. 鈥淭hat鈥檚 all I want鈥︹
He couldn鈥檛 read the expression on the professor鈥檚 face. He didn鈥檛 know what to prepare for. The silence felt like an eternity. And when the professor moved a hand slowly, he actively forced his eyes to remain on his target.聽
鈥淵ou get one gift,鈥 the scientist seethed while holding up an index finger. 鈥淪o choose. Which parent do you 鈥榗are鈥,鈥 the professor nearly gagged at the thought, 鈥渁bout more?鈥
He froze at the challenge, his anxious movement vanished into ice, a shocked look on his face, his mouth agape and his eyes accusatory. He had to pick between his mother or his father? When he鈥檇 never know either? How would he know if he made the right decision? Hojo鈥檚 mind was made up. He knew there was no room for argument. Why would Hojo do this to him?
鈥淲hich one, Sephiroth?鈥
Glass.聽
鈥淢ake a choice.鈥
Glass.
鈥淧ick already.鈥
Clear as a window.
鈥淢y mother!鈥 He spat out so quickly the scientist flinched and tilted a head ever so slightly in confusion. 鈥淢y mother. I choose my mother...鈥 His strength failed him and his eyes fell to the ground, guilt pumping through his veins. Why did Hojo make him choose? Why鈥? He kept his eyes down until Hojo spoke again, his mouth dry as a bone.聽
鈥淗er name was Jenova.鈥
Sephiroth鈥檚 blue eyes widened as he repeated the name for the first time. 鈥淛enova...鈥
鈥淵es.鈥 The scientist spat. 鈥淎nd she died. Giving birth to you.鈥
He didn鈥檛 see a shred of lie or truth beyond the black glasses. He tried to breathe, he tried to speak, but he was spellbound by the guilt in his heart and the scientist dangling the organ over a floor of swords, always ready to drop. It made sense, why he never saw her, why he didn鈥檛 have a single memory of her. It hurt. Gods it hurt, his chest tightening, but he had to keep trying, anything he could get. He swallowed hard, his hand twitching in shock. 鈥淲hat was she like鈥?鈥
The scientist scoffed. 鈥淣o.鈥澛
Why? Why not?聽
鈥淣o, I gave you your gift. That鈥檚 all.鈥
鈥淏ut-!鈥
鈥淒on鈥檛 pull this on me,鈥 Hojo growled. 鈥淚 answered your question, now go.鈥
He instinctually stepped toward the man. 鈥淧lease, Hojo!鈥
鈥淪tep back, Sephiroth.鈥
But he couldn鈥檛 stop his mindless pleading and eyes from watering when he moved One. Step. Closer. 鈥淧lease!鈥
The last memory forced upon him was the crack against his cheek, that sent him stumbling back despite all his strength.聽
When Sephiroth finally returned to reality, finally outside the prison of his memories, he found himself standing at the center of the same room, but with the blonde鈥檚 arms wrapped around him and pulled tightly to him. A hug. He glanced at the clock for confirmation. Only a few seconds had passed. Maybe five, or ten? Did he...dissociate? This has never happened before.
鈥淲ho did this to you, My prince?鈥 was all he spoke, embers growing to a small flame. He was shorter, the soldier realized, the first time he stood for anyone, his head politely pulled away from the opening of skin in the leather jacket, the palms of his yellow hair softly brushing the soldier鈥檚 chin.
Sephiroth was at a loss for words.聽
鈥淵ou do not need to explain anything. Please answer when you鈥檙e ready. Who did this to you?鈥 Cloud tightened his grip, his posture a rock, a ground to focus his prince.聽
The silver general, the silver soldier, the first SOLDIER, the little boy cowering away from the experiments, the tiny kid crying from each failure, each break, each cut, each bruise, every emotion in his very being screamed over the whisper of logic trying to break through. His arms moved impulsively, like a desperate child, starved for attention and affection, and gripped the shoulders of the injured blonde across the smaller body.聽
Cloud did not ask again, but patted the space on the back between the large pauldrons, petting the space of leather soothingly.聽
Then he found himself removing one hand and pulling the blonde to his chest, with no resistance. It felt鈥ice, to have someone so close to him, the vaguest memory of a stuffed chocobo dashing through his mind, the fluff of the fur delicate and comforting. The similar color almost coaxed him into leaning his face into the dandelion of hair, perhaps even breathing in a scent of something other than this solitary lab. So many memories鈥hy now? He searched his thoughts for an answer, the silence only aiding his tracking mind.
鈥is mother. It tied to her, didn鈥檛 it? Whether the blonde was telling the truth he sought all his life, or a story fabricated by a tortured and damaged mind, he didn't know. He did not believe the tale, of course, but he felt a connection. A deep connection.聽
鈥...Hojo did this鈥︹ His deep voice boomed softly, and the blonde only nodded in confirmation. The only noise in the room was their tensioned breaths and the occasional beep of the medical machines. Maybe a minute of peace passed through them.聽
But then they felt something, and Sephiroth let go and took a step back as they both glared at the observation window. The speaker in the ceiling clicked on.
鈥淎pologies.鈥 That was absolutely a new hire, stuck on the absolute worst shift for specimen monitorization: zero-hundred to zero-seven-hundred hours. 鈥淰isiting hours are 9AM to 12AM, and the patient should not be standing. Please help the patient return to the bed, then leave the room. Thank you.鈥 Another click notified the shut off of the microphone and speaker.聽
The blonde鈥檚 head was bowed again. 鈥淔orgive me.鈥
His silver brows knotted in confusion as his gaze returned to the blonde. 鈥淔or what?鈥 Only now did he realize the blonde was balanced on one foot, the damaged leg dangling in the air.
鈥淚 disobeyed your order to stay in bed.鈥
Sephiroth shook his head. 鈥淒on鈥檛 apologize. Here,鈥 He stepped toward the blonde with his hands out, 鈥淟et me help.鈥
Cloud shook his head and held his arms out to stop him. 鈥淢y prince, I can鈥檛 let you- nh-鈥 He was already lifted and back in the bed before he could finish, grabbing his sides to soothe the pain from movement and failing at concealing his low, pained grunt.
鈥淎re your ribs okay?鈥 The soldier asked, scanning the other set of eyes for the truth.聽
The blonde nodded quickly. 鈥淵es. Thank you, My prince.鈥
Sephiroth cringed at another use of the faux title. 鈥淧lease don鈥檛 call me that.鈥 He moved to the exit.
Cloud tilted his head, and spoke as the door slid open. 鈥淲hat would you like to be called?鈥
鈥淢y name,鈥 Sephiroth spoke softly, too tired, too confused as to what just happened to continue, why it happened, and left the patient alone in the hospital-like room.聽
* * *聽聽
Hojo. Will. Die. For the pain he caused My prince. But he had to be careful. He was strong enough to kill the scientist if he got close, but he wasn鈥檛 strong enough to get away with it. It angered him greatly, his hands itching to break holes in the wall. Whatever his prince had to endure as a child still haunted his prince now. But he had to control these impulses. He would not make the same mistake again. His prince deserved the perfection he failed to give his queen. Now he needed to weld the connection they both shared. He already looked back fondly on the moment in the middle of the night, finally treated as what he was. He was a weapon for her use. But he was also a tool for comfort. A toy for a child, a stuffed animal to hold for safety. Cloud almost smiled at the memory as he stared at the walls. But he was still being watched. Again.聽
When the scientist, no鈥 when Hojo finally entered, Cloud was informed he should not attempt anything with his leg for at least a month. But the longer he鈥檚 weakend, the longer that bastard lives.聽
However, the scientist raised a hand and made a gesture toward the room through the one way glass. Almost immediately, the door opened to a young girl with red hair in mostly black clothing, a rougher fabric than what he was given. She adjusted a white bag in her hands, and nodded to the professor upon entry.聽
鈥淪he鈥檚 a part of the Turks,鈥 Hojo explained. 鈥淎n elite program, a type of special forces here. They investigate, interrogate, exterminate, basically whatever we see fit,鈥 He spoke with power behind the 鈥楾鈥, then gestured to the woman. 鈥淭his is Cissnei. She鈥檒l be teaching you everything you need to know.鈥
Cloud carefully moved his eyes to the scientist. 鈥淲hat specifically鈥?鈥
鈥淲ell, what you鈥檝e missed the past two thousand years,鈥 he stated as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. 鈥淲e can鈥檛 expect you to assimilate into our society easily, but perhaps you can find someplace with more knowledge. In return for my research, of course.鈥
His predatory eyes narrowed for a fraction of a second before he returned to calm and collected. 鈥淰ery well...鈥
He scribbled something before clipping the pen to the board. 鈥淕lad you agree. Now excuse me.鈥 Then he left, without another glance to either of them, though Cloud watched his location, even through the mirrored window.聽
The red haired girl approached him while he wasn't looking, and she only met his eyes when she was an inch away from the bed, gently placing the bag in his lap. 鈥淭hese are the clothes you were found in. We highly recommend excluding your pants to let your leg heal.鈥
Cloud was already opening the back like a child with a gift, pulling out his coat first and analyzing the sown scratches.聽
鈥淲e had them cleaned and repaired. We hope you鈥檙e satisfied.鈥 She took the open seat as he continued to scan, frowning as he ran his thumb along the new patches.
Then he looked up to her and moved the clothes to his side. 鈥淭hank you...鈥
She nodded in response. 鈥淭hey said your throat will take another day or two to fully heal. After that it shouldn鈥檛 hurt so much to talk.鈥
He nodded in appreciation. Then he noticed her gloves. Both black, but only one covered her whole hand. She was a part of some kind of special force, right? The Turks? 鈥淲hat kind of weapon requires those gloves鈥?鈥
Cissnei had to look down at them to notice what he was talking about. She didn't think about them anymore. 鈥淥h, these?鈥 she held them up for a better view. 鈥淭hey鈥檙e the most effective for using a large shuriken.鈥
He tilted his head, so she elaborated.聽
鈥淎 type of throwing star.鈥 She scanned him as well. 鈥淒o you know what that is?鈥
He shook his head.聽
鈥淲ell,鈥 she almost laughed, 鈥淭hen let鈥檚 start your lessons there.鈥
Cloud appreciated her aid, kindly smiling as she explained whatever she knew about their world, with him asking questions as she went on. But he hated where this aid came from. He needed to learn about this changed world, yes, and she seemed kind enough. Yet she is tied to her job. Perhaps learning her loyalty to this special program would aid him in his coming cover-up. He needed an opportunity, and he still needed it while he looked innocent. No more mistakes. No more failures. Everything must be perfectly clean. Not a drop of blood will tie back to him.
.
.
.
.
Thanks for reading!聽
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Author's Notes: New baby Sephiroth content will not change this story. I already finished that section before the announcement. Though I am EXTREMELY excited to see the little Babyroth! (Check tags for more notes)
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zhuchef 2 months ago
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馃惙馃崪 mo 聽ping 聽verse 聽 ( 聽starter ! 聽 ) 聽 //聽 聽@energeticsand鈥嬄犅
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he聽 stands聽 in聽 front聽 of聽 the聽 riverboat ,聽 unsure聽 of聽 what聽 to聽 do聽 next .聽 聽his聽 brain聽 is聽 fuzzy聽 but聽 he聽 can聽 feel聽 his聽 heart聽 pounding聽 in聽 his聽 temple聽 as聽 the聽 shadow聽 of聽 the聽 vessel聽 overcasts聽 him聽 with聽 the聽 setting聽 sun .聽聽he聽 had聽 been聽 in聽 such聽 a聽 hurry聽 to聽 get聽 there聽 in聽 the聽 first聽 place聽 too ,聽 聽the聽 shattered聽 pieces聽 of聽 his聽 memory聽 clearing聽 as聽 the聽 dread聽 of聽 bajie鈥檚聽 last聽 moments聽 of聽 existence聽 scratched聽 at聽 the聽 outskirts聽 of聽 his聽 mind .聽 聽he聽 still聽 can鈥檛聽 recall聽 exactly聽 聽how聽 聽it聽 all聽 played聽 out--聽 聽but聽 it聽 was聽 bad .聽 it聽 was聽 聽VERY .聽 BAD .聽聽聽
that鈥檚聽 why聽 he聽 needed聽 to聽 see聽 sandy .聽聽
what聽 made聽 up聽 for聽 it聽 was聽 pigsy鈥檚聽 ability聽 to聽 remember聽 everything聽 聽before .聽 sandy聽 was--聽 聽no ,聽 it聽 聽WAS聽 聽him .聽聽 old聽 hog聽 would聽 recognize聽 youngest聽 brother聽 anywhere !聽聽 the聽 very聽 same聽 he聽 and聽 聽eldest聽 brother聽 聽wukong聽 picked聽 a聽 fight聽 with聽 in聽 the聽 flowing-sand聽 river .聽 聽the聽 very聽 same聽 that聽 boosted聽 their聽 morale聽 and聽 leveled聽 the聽 two聽 elder聽 brothers聽 out聽 when聽 they聽 were聽 too聽 unruly .聽 聽the聽 very聽 same聽 that聽 had聽 the聽 best聽 聽one聽 liners .聽 聽the聽 very聽 same聽 that--聽 聽the聽 very聽 same聽 he聽 left聽 behind .聽 聽suddenly聽 their聽 聽first聽 meeting聽 聽made聽 a聽 lot聽 more聽 sense .聽 maybe聽 destiny聽 isn鈥檛聽 聽total聽 聽bullshit .聽
still ,聽 it鈥檚聽 all聽 so聽 surreal聽 and聽 pigsy鈥檚聽 got聽 enough聽 sense聽 in聽 that聽 聽psychologically-shaken-up-pig-brain聽 聽of聽 his聽 to聽 know聽 that聽 bringing聽 all聽 this聽 up聽 at聽 once聽 is聽 INSANE .聽聽 that鈥檚聽 why聽 he聽 can聽 forgive聽 sandy聽 for聽 keeping聽 it聽 from聽 him聽 for聽 so聽 long .聽 聽but聽 a聽 boar聽 doesn鈥檛聽 beat聽 around聽 the聽 bush--聽 聽it聽 runs聽 聽straight聽 through聽 it聽 ,聽 demolishing聽 everything聽 beneath聽 it鈥檚聽 snout聽 and聽 hooves .聽 聽and聽 oh聽 how聽 badly聽 pigsy聽 wants聽 to聽 do聽 just聽 that .聽
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鈥溌犅爓ujing--聽鈥澛 聽he聽 tries聽 it聽 once ,聽 and聽 that鈥檚聽 enough聽 to聽 set聽 him聽 off--聽 knocking聽 the聽 side聽 of聽 the聽 boat聽 to聽 draw聽 out聽 the聽 river聽 spirit聽 by聽 his聽 religious聽 name .聽
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鈥溌 wujing ! !聽 i know聽 you鈥檙e聽 in聽 there !聽 鈥澛犅爌igsy聽 roars .聽 he聽 already聽 feels聽 his聽 eyes聽 welling聽 up聽 .聽聽 鈥溌犅燼in鈥檛cha 聽gonna 聽greet 聽your 聽 elder 聽brother ?聽!聽 鈥
he聽 must聽 have聽 finally聽 lost聽 it ;聽 this聽 stupid聽 mystic聽 monkey聽 business聽 has聽 finally聽 gotten聽 to聽 his聽 head聽 and聽 he鈥檚聽 imagining聽 that聽 he鈥檚聽 part聽 of聽 a聽 story .聽聽but聽 it鈥檚聽 okay聽 if聽 he聽 is ,聽 pigsy聽 wagers .聽 sandy鈥檚聽 a聽 brother ,聽 past聽 life聽 or聽 not--聽 he鈥檒l聽 always聽 answer聽 the聽 door .聽
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wolfskintribedaughter 4 months ago
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Mellow Memories
@constancevonnuvelle continued from here
Constance nods in agreement. 鈥淭hat it is.鈥 She turns to look back out at the scenery beyond the bridge again. The water below shimmers in the bit of light that manages to break free of it鈥檚 dim prison and shines through the clouds above. Despite how annoying the sounds of the church doors and crowds of people usually are, they are quieter than usual today, creating a much needed serene atmosphere. The silence stretches on for a moment longer, although it is not uncomfortable.
鈥淚t is鈥 not often that I am able to observe the surface world without limitations these days.鈥 Constance adjusts her posture towards Velouria slightly so she鈥檚 leaning a bit more comfortably for a conversation. 鈥淚 never can tell if it is better or worse than I remember. It is a pretty sight, of course, but I mean honestly. How is it that you all can even see it with this light in your eyes?鈥 Constance laughs softly and shakes her head at her own joking question, a stark contrast to her usual, self-assured laugh. Constance looks back up at Velouria and notices the redness that hasn鈥檛 yet left the girls eyes. 鈥淏ut enough on those such matters, how are you faring today?鈥
Velouria tried not to look directly at her friend, trying to hide the red corners that still dotted her eyes. She didn鈥檛 like others seeing her cry. Today should have been a happy day. Her daddy would have wanted to see her happy on his special day. But she couldn鈥檛 be happy now, not when she was so far away from him. In more ways than one.
鈥淭oday would have been my daddy鈥檚 birthday...鈥 That鈥檚 why she had come all the way out to the church when she could have just lurked in her room. If he was with her somehow still, she felt it the most in that church. She sniffled softly, trying to tug down her hood to cover her face. Birthdays were something both treasured and disregarded by the wolfskin. On one hand, it was excuse for all the silly little gifts they always gave each other anyway. And on the other, they lived for too long to bother counting too far up. That, and most of them couldn鈥檛 count much anyway. But it had always been important to her daddy, he liked being celebrated, and his birthday was a good excuse to do so.
鈥淚 miss him...鈥 More than anything else, even the Nohrian hills that she used to romp on, she missed her daddy like her life depended on it.
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