So I was being a basic bitch the other day and listening to my true crime podcasts when it occurred to me just how suspicious Nile’s “death” would look to everyone not in the Guard, leading me to a train of thought that, 2200 words later, absolutely got away from me but I can’t let go so I’m inflicting it on all of you!
To set the stage, we know the movie takes place over approximately a week. Here’s what happens to Nile from the military’s point of view:
She dies is very seriously injured
She heals without a scratch
Just before she’s supposed to be shipped out to Germany, she vanishes, leaving two men concussed (and presumably reporting being knocked out by a woman with short hair wearing civilian clothes)
She goes AWOL for several days
They get word from the CIA that she is to be reported killed in action (details unclear)
So, at the beginning of this very weird week, the USMC has to tell Nile’s family of her death critical injury. What her family was told depends on how long she was dead – a Google search tells me that family will be notified in person within 8 hours of a soldier’s death, but we don’t know how long her first death lasted. For an injury, however, they’d get a phone call to notify them and the unit would arrange for them to visit as soon as the soldier is transferred out of a combat zone. Like I remember when I was in high school, a guy from my church who was a Marine was really seriously injured in a helicopter crash in Iraq and from what I could tell, his parents were told immediately and were flown out to Germany to see him, so it stands to reason that Nile’s family would have been informed relatively quickly after her throat was slashed, one way or another.
And then, she goes AWOL. Her family would be notified while the USMC tried to figure out where she went, not least because the military would want to know if she’s contacted them. (And it’s possible that her family may have been on the way to Germany to see her since we know that’s where she was supposed to go!) So for several days:
Nile’s mom and brother have no idea where she is
They know she was seriously injured and most certainly should not have been moving around on her own
They can’t get a hold of her
The military can’t tell them anything
And the next thing they know for sure is that she was “killed in action.” After being injured and vanishing into thin air. And they presumably cannot produce her body or any concrete evidence of her death. In any case, something sketchy is going on, so they’re like. SMELLS LIKE A MILITARY COVERUP.
In a surprise to probably no one, there is a well-documented legacy of mysterious US military deaths, particularly of women of color (TW for sexual assault in these links). The cases of LaVena Johnson and Vanessa Guillenin particular have made national news because of their families’ persistence in seeking justice. Likewise, Nile is a Black woman, and her mom and brother are most certainly hypercognizant of (a) state violence against Black people and (b) these high-profile cases of suspicious military deaths. So her family are seriously side-eyeing the situation, knowing that (a) the military has a serious incentive (and a documented history) of covering up things that make them look bad and (b) nothing about Nile’s disappearance and supposed death are adding up.
And Andy’s right. Nile does come from warriors. And you know who else does? Her brother.
Don’t get me wrong. Nile’s mom would absolutely not back down. She’d know something was up and want to get to the bottom of it. But based on what I know about Gen X parents (mine), they’re not the most technologically savvy. Like they can use the internet, but they didn’t grow up with it the way we young millennials and Gen Z did. So Nile’s brother takes the lead. And what do zillennials do best?
Nile’s brother starts going hard on any site he can, trying to get the word out to see if anyone knows what happened to his sister. He starts a Reddit thread. He starts a Facebook group. He reaches out to the media and true crime bloggers and podcasters à la Sarah Turney, getting loud and being a general nuisance in hopes of getting some answers. He gets his friends and Nile’s friends involved. Maybe eventually Dizzy, Jay, and others from Nile’s unit hear about it and reach out, telling him what they saw and how weird it all was. He’s drumming up interest, and soon “Nile Freeman” becomes a household name (at least among the true crime fans).
Copley is, of course, trying his best, but at this point there is just so much that it’s impossible for him to scrub everything. Sure, he can erase new footage of Nile and the Guard, but what can he do about Reddit threads and podcast episodes that are speculating something weird has happened? Maybe he could hack the sites and shut those things down, but honestly, that’s the last thing he’d want to do, because that only adds weight to the theory that Nile’s disappearance is a military coverup. So eventually he has to tell Andy what’s going on.
Andy, obviously, does not take the news well. However, she is also completely computer illiterate, because that’s Booker’s job and he’s the only one who ever bothered to learn what the internet is in any meaningful way. (She probably calls Booker for advice, and for the record, I think Booker would have no qualms about shutting down conspiracy threads, tinhats be damned, but Copley is too concerned about the consequences. He’s ex-CIA for crying out loud, he knows how it’ll look if they scrub every mention of Nile’s name from the internet.) Maybe she confers with Joe and Nicky but, let’s be honest, they’d be equally unhelpful. So at this point, she knows they have to bring in Nile.
But the thing about Nile is that she, too, knows how to use the internet (duh). Aside from her being a young millennial/digital native, we know from the cave scene where she’s giving Booker suggestions on how to track Copley that she clearly is even more computer savvy than the average person. And for that reason she almost definitely took over the day-to-day tech stuff after Booker’s exile. So I think it would be foolish to expect her to be unaware of what’s happening. She’s not contacting her family or posting on the message boards or anything, but she knows what’s up. So Copley and the team probably sit her down to “break the news,” but we know the girl does not have a poker face (see: literally shooting herself in the foot and not being able to play it cool whatsoever) and cracks immediately, telling them she’s seen everything about her case – she’s not interacting with any of it, she certainly didn’t instigate anything, but she knows. (And she is so goddamn proud of her brother.)
At this point, I’d like to pause and consider Nile’s role in the overall narrative of this movie. She’s set up as a foil to Andy, obviously, but she’s also a foil to Booker. Booker, who, like Andy, is a serious pessimist, but who, unlike Andy, still has very fresh memories and trauma associated with being the new kid, which have destroyed him. In his mind (and Andy’s), if Nile communicates with her family, she’ll become just like him in a century or two – bitter, alone, and stuck with her grief and memories of watching her family die and knowing they died resenting her. It’s a small sample size, but this is the only experience they have to go off of.
But it doesn’t have to be like that.
There’s been a lot of discussion of TOG being a fundamentally queer movie – a group of people brought together because of something inherent about themselves that is different, that must be hidden, that causes others to hate, fear, and reject them. Booker’s backstory is the archetypal traumatic “coming out” story – his family learns who he is, hate him for it, and attempt to cast him out of their lives. He’s stuck with his trauma, his pain, his loss, and it consumes him.
But what if Nile’s family would be the opposite? What if her “coming out” to them as immortal is met with acceptance, love, celebration? What if her family is just overjoyed to have her back, and they don’t care what the circumstances are? I'm reminded of this incredible post from @shitty-old-guard-deaths a while back, where Nile’s mother hits Booker with a frying pan because “my baby let me believe she was dead for FIVE YEARS based on your bad advice???” (which may or may not have inspired this whole tangent). Nile takes the advice of someone who did the same thing she wants to do because she doesn’t want to risk her family’s rejection. She wants the good memories with her family and is afraid that showing them her true self will bring her unbearable pain, forever replacing those memories. But, with high risk comes high reward.
Anyway. Nile and the team are trying to come up with a plan for how to handle this whole thing, but she’s not really participating because she’s too afraid to hope. Until finally, quickly, so she doesn’t lose her nerve, she suggests she reach out to them, knowing that, realistically, that’s the only solution before things snowball even further out of control. The team is shocked, but realize that she has a point. They decide that Copley should actually be the first point of contact, posing as a US government official to talk with them and test the waters.
So Copley goes to Nile’s family’s house to talk with her mom and brother. They’re probably distrustful and apprehensive, but nonetheless secretly ecstatic that their work has paid off. They talk and review all of the information that they’ve collected, including testimonials from the people on Nile’s base and recent sightings (along with photos) of Nile (with the same three people) over the last few years that people have sent them but they haven’t posted publicly. At this point, Copley’s like, yeah this is about to blow up, we gotta put our cards on the table. He convinces them to come with him to some safe house/black site/whatever he can get that is technologically impenetrable (I’m picturing them in like, an interrogation room at a police station kind of deal), takes their phones, locks the doors, and brings in Nile.
What follows is the most delightful reunion scene of all time, bringing Joe, Nicky, and even Andy to tears as they watch and listen from outside the room. With Copley’s help, Nile tells her mom and brother about her immortality and what’s been going on since she died (within reason, of course), and they are thrilled. They don’t understand why (because no one does) but they don’t question it and they see it as a gift from God – she’s been resurrected, she will live, and she has a purpose. Her mother and brother are so happy to see her again and are willing to agree with pretty much anything to stay in her life as long as they can.
So. They set up some complicated agreement (they bring in the other three for support/intimidation as needed) setting the terms of their relationship. They swear Nile’s family to secrecy, maybe bringing up the lab to show how high the stakes are, and they readily agree. They come up with some cover story for Nile’s brother to share on the message boards (maybe that the government has opened an investigation but because it’s an open case he has to shut it all down? Tells people to direct their tips somewhere else? Something to that effect). There’s still speculation, of course, but without Nile’s brother at the helm providing the energy, the hype dies down as news stories are wont to do without any movement. And Nile’s family goes to work for the team. The experience has taught them that Copley can’t possibly do everything himself, especially when it comes to social media, so Nile’s brother takes the lead on the day-to-day tracking/social media while Copley and her mom focus on finding jobs and scrubbing their traces afterward.
So there you have it: Nile gets to integrate her biological family into her found family and spend the rest of their lives with them as it should be, Copley gets some badly needed help managing the reality of social media, the team finally has a positive narrative surrounding outsiders Knowing About Them AND about interacting with people from their previous life, and the audience gets the happy ending to this very lovely and very queer story to counteract the pain associated with Booker’s family.
Plus, you know, I’m a sucker for both a good government conspiracy theory and for Nile getting every good thing she deserves.
My husband is very excited for this baby, we’ve been trying for two years to conceive and I was beginning to lose faith that it would ever actually happen.
Now that I am pregnant, any person I tell is delighted to learn that we’re expecting and it makes me very happy to be able to share the news to people who view it positively. Cultivating a village of people who are excited for the birth of a child feels like an sacred, ancient practice that I feel blessed to share.
My husband on the other hand, is met with snarky eye roller comments. People mentioning how is life is going to be ruined, all his money is going to be gone, he’s going to lose sleep and be miserable forever, He’s even been asked if we’re going to ‘get rid of it’ as though our good news is something shameful.
I don’t understand where this mentality towards fathers came from. He has just as much right to be excited that we’re having a baby together. He should be met with equal excitement as myself and yet he’s received lukewarm responses from people (regrettably, even his family) about his excitement. It’s heartbreaking.
When he’s beside me, talking to family on his tablet, I can see him utterly deflate when he shares the news and people offer condolences to him. He wanted this baby just as much as I did, and now he’s left feeling completely alone in the celebration of our news. I find it incredibly sad that I am met with positivity, but he is met with people who expect him to be permanently tied to misery.
I see hashtags demanding the normalization of many different things. I want to normalize men being celebrated for their future children. I want my good fortune to be matched with his, I want him to feel supported by his peers, I want him to tell someone and have them be just as happy for him, as my village of friends is.
Children are a blessing, they are are progeny, they are our future. They are the ones who will continue to make history after we are gone, and hopefully continue the family line into their own adulthood. We have taken part in a Tradition dating back thousands of years, with our ancestors contributing to allow us to be here in the first place. We’re continuing the chain forward. This is an important part of being a part of the chain and one I am happy to be a part of, and so is he.
Why do I get positivity when he gets regret?
Are we trying to breed a society of resentful men who view their loved ones as burdens holding him back? That his wife and children are wasting his resources? That he’s now going to be lumped with people he doesn’t want to be connected to and should run as soon as possible? Is this what stands as culturally normal now? That men should leave when children become involved?
We need to normalize the celebration of life with both men and women. Women carry life, but they are not the only piece of the puzzle when conceiving a wanted child come in. Men deserve to be equally a part of the process as well. They should gain a village as well, of men who want to be fathers, who celebrate the news with him and have his back when stepping into the role of Father.
Despite what society wants to say? We need Fathers.
Stop making men feel as though they’ve made the biggest mistake of their life by conceiving with their wives. Stop joking that they’ve messed up and will never have a life of their own again. It’s not cute funny banter between 'boys’. It’s not funny to be shitty to men who want to be Dad’s. It’s just another example of how we as a society have completely given into hedonism and degeneracy.
SUPPORT MEN WHO ARE EXCITED ABOUT BEING DADS!!
hmm pls expand on the idea of mean!wandanat/agatha😁
I’m thinking like sort of widow au/pet setting bc that’s what my brain has been for the past few months but like heads up for these three being more toxic than the ninja turtles:
Warnings: noncon situations, somnophilia, abuse, terrible ppl in general
Agatha as a pet owner is def very heavyhanded with it comes to both physical punishment and messing w/ your head, she likes you always slightly nervous or afraid when you’re near her
She loves how if you’re with other pets/people in general, you always glance up at her to check if you have permission to play or you lean away from someone trying to pet you bc you’re worried she’ll get upset
She’s likely backhanded you in public if she even feels you tugging on the leash bc you can’t keep up with her
Will choke you with her fingers, wipe them off on your cheek and kiss you breathless
She never pays you a compliment w/out sounding/looking condescending
Loves just like. yanking you to her by the hair, leash, collar or whatever for no reason other than to feel you jump and tense up until you realize she just wants something simple like laying your head in her lap or something
Def suggested you having to eat on the floor while everyone else is at the table bc she just loves the visual
Very much enjoys tilting your head up to look at her with her boot
Agatha has never shut her mouth in like 300 years so she definitely talks while she’s punishing you
She’ll tell you how disappointed she is, how absolutely stupid you were but it’s all okay bc you have good teachers to put you back in line
Generally an asshole so she’ll smack your ass with magic to be a pos
Nat’s physically the strongest of the four of you and never lets anyone forget it
She’ll manhandle you every chance she gets, just haul you off the floor by the waist, throw you onto the bed and get all up in your face
Her go to when you piss her off is to shove your face to the floor, either with her hand or her boot
Will grab you by the face and tell you how grateful you should be that they didn’t leave you to be picked up by some shitty breeding facility
If she’s in the mood to punish you, there’s literally nothing you can do about it. She’ll drag you screaming and crying, she does not care
Her punishments definitely hurt the worst
She’ll tie you up, put some clamps on your nipples, gag and blindfold you and just sit there until you start crying from either the pain or knowing you’ve disappointed her
Will step on your hands if she sees you trying to walk upright or generally use your hands for something you’re not supposed to
Says it makes you looks pretty when she ties you up so you can move and likes having you just kneeling on the carpet while she watches tv or something
The second you open your mouth to say something stupid, Wanda doesn’t even have to lift a finger, you can feel her magic choking you the life out of you and when she finally lets up she’ll just pet your hair while you cough trying to get some air
Out of the three Wanda is the nicest? Maybe?
Likes you watch your eyes when she uses her magic to make you feel so good your toes curl then yank it away over and over again until you’re begging
Gives you dirty dreams and uses it as an excuse to fuck you awake
You know it’s her bc literally when have you ever had dreams that disgusting except when you first met wanda
If you annoy her a little she’ll let you off by just spitting in your face and smacking you so hard your ears ring, which is better than what the other two will do, even if Wanda hits you so hard your lip splits
They never like. mortally wound you or something bc that would be a pain in ass not to mention messy
But they’ve definitely mentioned the idea of branding you and laugh when you tense up
Probably bring you to parties to meet their equally terrible friends to pass you around all night until you physically can’t move but they keep going anyway
Wanda, agatha and nat are at least nice enough to give you some time to recuperate after that
The bruises do make for some nice pictures though
More festive ideas with Kindergarten Teacher Steve!
This time it's Steve catching Billy at pick up time, just as all the kids are filing out of the class, to ask him about the band patches covering his denim jacket.
And Billy takes one looks at Steve's slightly furrowed brow, and starts bracing himself for some kind of snide comment, something about how his attire isn't appropriate for the school yard even though Billy knows there's nothing especially scary or vulgar on any of those patches, no matter what the school moms have been muttering, and so he's got a scowl on his face and his hackles raised, all ready to spout off about how Penny's mom is always carrying that shitty 'one tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor!' tote bag and no one bats an eye.
And OK, maybe Billy's a little defensive about his patches. Because they're special to him. And, more importantly, they're special to his daughter. The two of them have a whole routine of sitting together while she sifts through the ever growing collection of fabric squares, Billy listening to Emily making up fun stories about the pictures and praising her stilted attempts at sounding out the band names, then grinning in pride whenever she recognises one from the tapes and CDs they have littering the floor of Billy's car before they both dissolve into giggles as Billy wails out a verse or two while she bangs out a drum solo on the coffee table.
And then, when they've both calmed down, when she's sitting on his lap all curled up small, Billy will ask her which ones are her favourites. And he'll gather up the ones she points to and later on he'll sew them onto his jacket, ever so carefully, because those are the ones Emily likes best.
And Billy's all prepared to explain that.
But instead of any kind of rebuke, Steve just looks the patches over and hums, sounding satisfied, "So… this means you can sew, right? Properly? I mean, these all look pretty secure," he says, stroking a finger down the perfect stitches holding down a teeny, tiny rainbow flag patch almost hidden against Billy's cuff.
And when Billy nods at him, slightly baffled, Steve smiles that sunshine smile of his and that little crease between his eyebrows melts away as he says, "OK, yeah. That's good, that's great. Think you could stay behind tonight and give me a hand with the costumes for the Christmas show? Because, uh, yeah...I kinda, really need them to be ready soon and, uh, I'm really not having the best time with a needle and thread." He wiggles his fingers, giving Billy a good look at his Care Bear Band-Aid covered digits all while fixing him with the biggest, most pleading puppy dog eyes that Billy's ever seen.
Billy's powerless to resist.
Really powerless it turns out, because the moment he tries to claim that he'll be busy with Emily, she comes skipping back from where's she been playing over by the jungle gym, hand in hand with her best friend asking if she can go over for a playdate because, "Jasmine's Mom says it's fine, she does, I just gotta ask you, so please Daddy? Please?" and now Billy has no excuse and a whole other set of puppy dog eyes that he can't resist.
Which is how he ends up sitting in Steve's classroom, squeezed onto a tiny chair next to an equally tiny table, unpicking Steve's hideously tangled attempts at sewing felt baubles and stars onto thirty somewhat misshapen Christmas tree costumes as Steve sits beside him and fills the silence by talking about the whole routine he's devised for the Happiest Christmas Tree dance.
And it's twee as fuck. So saccharine sweet that Billy can feel the cavities already. But then Steve starts chattering on about how he knows it's a lot, overkill, really, just for a ten minute show, and how he had to buy all the material and the teeny tiny jingle bells with his own money, and how he's been staying late every night trying to get everything prepared, but it's all worth it because the kids love it so much. And then he swallows, his voice going quiet, that bubbly cheerfulness dropping away as he starts explaining how a guy, a grown man, in this line of work always gets questions. Always gets the suspicious looks and raised eyebrows, even now. Even after years of doing this job. Even after proving himself again and again and again. How he still feels like he's not doing enough.
And Billy gets that.
Because getting custody of Emily was a fucking challenge. A labyrinth of social workers with pointed questions and pursed lips and reams of mind numbing paperwork, and it's still not plain sailing; there's still that icy clench of fear with every brown envelope that falls onto the mat in the morning. He's still kept up at night by that all encompassing worry that someone's going to take Emily away from him. That he'll get accused of doing something wrong, of not doing something right, of not being stable or respectable or responsible and they'll take her away because he's failing her.
Because he's not good enough for her.
So Billy gets it. Why Steve tries so hard.
He doesn't say that much. Not exactly. But he does tell Steve how clear it is that Emily's learned so much since she's been in Steve's class. How she's so damn smart now, reading all the labels on the tins in the shops and counting out the right money for the bus and telling Billy everything she can remember about Ancient Egyptians including that gross 'pulling the brain out through the nose' thing.
And then Billy takes a deep breath, staring right down at the fuzzy green felt in his hands and the tiny little jingle bells that have started to look kind of blurry, and he talks about how much more confident Emily is now, how she literally skips on the way to school, talking with just as much eagerness about Mr. Steve as she does about all her friends. How she's settled, finally, after all the upheaval in her little life. How she's happier now. So much happier.
And that's when Steve's sunshine smile comes right back. Full beam and directed straight at Billy, catching him unawares when he looks up, and making him stab himself right in the thumb on the next stitch.
Steve's got a mostly full pack of superhero Band Aids in his pocket and his fingers are warm and gentle when he applies them, so Billy can't be too grouchy about it.
And there's still ten costumes to go, so Billy's not gonna quit yet.
(Lil shout out and a thank you to @magniloquent-raven for chatting with me about this lil headcanon on Discord! I loved your idea about Billy telling Steve how much his on an impression he's made on his kid, and had to sneak something similar in here!)
Guys I’m having another Bakugo brainrot
Tw: bullying, noncon, nonconsensual peeping, manipulation
Remember that one episode of MHA where the class goes to the sauna and M*neta tries to check da girls out over the wall?
Imagine the same scenario, but years later when they’re all older
The class wanted a reunion, just to relax and blow off some steam
You’re with the girls, and you all lay back in the hot water reminiscing about the older days when everyone was still getting the hang of their own quirks
Mina brings up this exact same scene but years ago.
“Ohmigosh, do you guys remember the last time we came in our first year here and Mineta totally tried to get a peek at us?”
“Ugh, I hope Iida is keeping a good hold on him right now,” Ochacko giggles, kicking her feet up to rest on a rock
You hum in agreement, tilting your head back to rest against the wooden wall separating you and the boys.
As it was, Uraraka was almost spot on with her hopes. Except, Iida and Tokoyami were out getting refreshments for the rest of the boys, leaving the remaining group to their own plot.
Which was lead by Mineta, of course, who had the brilliant idea to spy on the girls, just like they almost did years back.
“Guys, come on, please they’re right there!” He practically salivates, wildly gesturing to the tall wooden wall in front of them.
Most of them shift uncomfortably and groan about him being a creep as usual, but the rest stay silent.
Mineta takes their lack of outright refusal as fuel to keep blabbering.
“Look, we almost got away with it back then-“
“-You mean you got away with it, we didn’t do shit. And you didn’t exactly get off scot-free, Kota completely demolished your attempts and you landed ass down on Four-Eyes’ face,” Bakugo drawls, leaning his head backwards and looking up at the obsidian sky. The boys laugh, remembering the ridiculous event.
The night is cool, the stars littering the inky atmosphere take the pressure off of Bakugo’s lungs. For weeks now they’ve been training like dogs, battling each other and even minor villains for extra practice of their quirks. This trip was supposed to be a leisure getaway, not a free porno.
But the grape-headed perv is insistent, scoffing and waving the blond’s quip off like some annoying fly.
“You know, there’s something in it for you too, Bakugo. I’ve seen the way you look at Y/N.”
This causes a murmur and a couple of light beers towards the blond, who in turn snarls and ignites his hand to quell the commotion. All of them had an inkling that Katsuki Bakugo had finally set his sights on some poor girl, and that was you. It was such a rare sight to see his face flush slightly when you walked past him, the way he stuttered over his words a bit when you two would be conversing amongst the same group, and best of all, when they would see how he would excuse himself to the bathroom or locker room occasionally when your hero suit would tear in certain places after battles.
“Shut the fuck up 3’2, unlike you I don’t need to ogle at those brain dead bimbos.”
“Oh? I didn’t realize you thought of Y/N as a ‘brain dead bimbo’, Bakugo, I’ll be sure to let her know how you feel” Mineta grinned maliciously, and the boys ‘oooo’ed at the jab.
Bakugo’s voice caught in his throat.
“You wouldn’t,” he growled, rising slightly out of the water.
“I already know you’ll kill me afterwards, but I’m prepared for the repercussions if you don’t help...cooperate here,” Grapehead inspected a cuticle and feigned a yawn.
“Come on Bakugo, it’s not like it’s gonna hurt anyone! Well keep this to ourselves,” Denki chimed in a little too eagerly.
“Yeah, I mean, we’re only asking for your and everyone’s support so that we can focus better on training y’know? A little fun never killed anyone.” Sero threw his arm over Kirishima’s shoulder, who blushed at the whole ordeal but kept silent all the while.
Katsuki looked around. Slowly, others were starting to really listen in and look interested at the outcome of Mineta’s plan. Surely a little peeping wouldn’t be too bad would it? And plus, it was only a one time thing.
Shoto was faring the same way as Kirishima, quiet and maybe embarrassed at what they were planning on doing, but no outright refusal. Even Deku had a weird longing glint in his eye, the same kind he would get when he used to fawn over All Might.
He thought about it for a minute more, a chance to see you, naked, honest, and pure, splashing around with your friends as you let your femininity dangle as it pleased.
“Do whatever the hell you want. I’m not taking blame if the bird and glasses come back, though.”
Hushed cheers and excited murmurs erupt from around the spring, and they huddle together to form a plan.
A couple minutes later, the boys were grouping around the wooden panels. Todoroki had burned a hole into the soft wood, and sero had used his transparent tape to cover it up so that the girls couldn’t see it from their side.
And there they were, completely bare, hair flowing, curves showing, voices mature and high pitched giggles emanating from around the water and bank.
Bakugo seeks you out immediately after the hole is made, shoving his way through the crowded bodies much to the amusement of others. But he doesn’t care, all he wants at the moment is to see you in your most honest element.
He doesn’t have to look long, because you’re right there, you’re right in front of them, only a few meters away. Your back is facing them, but the sight of your smooth, naked back and the round curve of your ass squishing against the rocks underneath you is enough to make Bakugo’s cock bob painfully above the water. It’s not too hard to hide his erection since the boys’s attention is elsewhere at the moment.
Your hair is open, and he wants nothing more than to feel it in his hands, run his fingers though your scalp and pull so hard that your neck is snapped back, he wants to know what kind of noises you’ll make for him, would you sound shrill and high pitched or would you wail and bellow for him to let go?
They can hear the girls talking amongst themselves, the hole in the wall makes their voices more audible and clear.
“Quit playing coy, Jirou, we know you’ve got your eye on someone,” Hagakure’s body is nowhere to be found as usual, but her chipper voice rings out from the middle of the hot spring.
Jirou is a few feet away from where you sit, her body also being shown for everyone to see. Bakugo glances at Kaminari to confirm his suspicion, but gags and quickly looks away when he gets an eyeful of his friends’ erect cock.
Not that Bakugo himself has room to talk, though.
“I mean, not really, it’s not a big deal.” The ravenette shifts and hides her head from the rest of girls’ cooing.
“Uh huh, sure. You’re not fooling anyone Kiyoka, I’ve seen the way you look at Denki. You two can’t keep your eyes off each other, it’s cute,” you purr, and Bakugo holds himself back from shoving the other guys out of the way just so that he can hear your voice the best.
Squeals and sounds of splashing fill the air, and Sero and Kirishima whisper excitedly and clap their red-faced friend on the back. Denki can’t keep the 50K watt smile off his face, and even Bakugo grunts and knocks shoulders with him, letting him know that he was happy for the human charger.
But then Jirou claps back with her own snarky observation, and the boys fall hush at the new revelation.
“Alright, you wanna talk about ogling Y/N? Then tell me, how’s Deku doing?”
“Or Bakugo, too,” Mina adds slyly, and now all the girls’ attention, as well as the boys’, is on you.
Bakugo felt like he had whiplash. He would’ve been elated, on Cloud 9 even to hear that maybe you had something for him too, had shitty Deku’s name not have been thrown in there too.
And he looks around wildly for the green haired freak, the freckles dusted across the expanse of his face even more prominent from the deep blush quickly forming, his scarred hands holding the sides of his face shaking in awe and gleeful shock.
But the rest of the boys aren’t as oblivious to how Bakugo seethes at his rival’s joy, from the way the water gets hotter from his quirk sparking underneath the rippling waves. Kirishima scoots closer to his friend and gently lays a hand on his shoulder as if to say, calm down, man. Not right now.
And so the hothead leaves it for the time being, opting to hear your response.
“I-it’s really nothing, they’re both just good classmates like the rest of the guys,” and although your back is turned to them, it doesn’t take a genius to know that you’re embarrassed too, your leg skittishly bouncing in front of you is making your ass jiggle from the back, much to the delight of the salivating boys.
Bakugo wants to spill blood when he suddenly realizes your body is being shown for the rest of these dogs to see
The girls start teasing you, your splutters being drowned out by their playful accusations.
“Come on L/N, whose cuter?”
“Dont act all coy now, I know how nervous you get when you’re all close to Bakugo. I mean I don’t blame you, have you seen his muscles? He could crush someone’s head with those things!”
“Yeah, but have you seen the way she giggles when Deku starts his mumbling tangents? That’s a classic crush right there.”
Bakugo is getting desperate to hear your answer now, some of the boys have left, feeling like they had their full of excitement for the night. They saw some tits and ass, heard some gossip, end of story.
The only ones remaining were Bakugo and his gang, as well as IcyHot and Shitty Deku.
Shitty Deku, who seemed equally eager to hear your response.
It pissed him off that he wasn’t getting the message to fuck off, even after all the growling and death stares he was receiving from his childhood friend.
But he guesses after a lifetime of dealing with it, it doesn’t scare Deku as much as it does anymore.
Maybe he’ll have to amp it up, later
“W-well I mean both of them have their own respective...flaws and strengths I guess..sometimes Deku can be kinda hard to talk to ‘cuz he’s so shy, but Bakugo can be a real jerk at times, too.”
You trail off, and Bakugo scoffs to himself. Him? Flaws? Those two words didn’t go well in one sentence together, but nonetheless he continues to listen. He wouldn’t refute the notion of him being an asshole, he wasnt that delusional.
“And yeah, I mean Bakugo definitely intimidates me sometimes with how aggressive he can be, but Deku is definitely getting up there in terms of physical prowess. But in terms of who I like, I’d have to say-“
“Midoriya! Bakugo! What are you two doing over there?”
Iidas voice booms across the water, and all 6 of the boys jump back, startled at the intrusion.
“No, wait-“ Bakugo hisses, clawing his way towards the hole to hear the rest of what you had to say, but Sero and Todoroki shove him back and patch the hole up with fire and tape, shutting off your confession.
Deku waves his arms around wildly, stammering some excuse of dropping his towel in the spot where they all were sheepishly gathered. They eventually waded their way over to where Tokoyami had set the drinks down, but the blond was shaking with hot rage despite the cool refreshment that was shoved into his hand by a wary Kirishima.
“Don’t sweat it dude, it’s not like her and Midoriya are gonna da-“
“Finish that sentence and I’ll blast both your and his head off,” he glowers at the redhead, shorting a dark look to where an all-too-happy Deku was chatting with Todoroki, as if they hadn’t been drooling over their naked classmates merely a couple minutes ago.
Kirishima backs off with raised hands in surrender, leaving Katsuki to mull over the situation by himself.
You couldn’t seriously be interested in that green haired freak, right? I mean he could barely talk to a girl without tripping over his own damn tongue, for fucks sake.
Not that he was any better himself. He failed to acknowledge the times where you had merely asked him for an extra pencil, when he snapped at you for being such a fuckin’ dumbass that you couldn’t even remember to bring your own shit. He had done that out of pure impulse, but he regretted it the moment he saw your face fall, his heart clenching at the sight
He’d have to show you that he was the better option, regardless of if you wanted it or not.
And so when they had all gotten out of the water and gotten ready for food, Bakugo already knew what he had to do.
You were all eating outside in the camp pavilion, each at their own separate tables. He was sitting with the boys, all of them joking around and throwing food at each other while he was staring you down.
He couldn’t keep his eyes off you. How could you expect him to, after he had seen half of you bare already? It was sinful almost, the way you were completely in the dark about what he had seen and heard, while he himself was fantasizing about what you looked like and felt like on the front.
So when Deku came by your table, no doubt also having the same conversation of the springs in mind, wanting to get closer to you, Bakugo felt his sanity snap.
The fork he held in his hand started melting in his ignited hand, steam curling from his palm. He watched as the green-eyed fuck made successful shitty attempts to make you laugh, his eyes trained on where you gently laid a hand on his shoulder after something he said that made you throw your head back and howl with glee.
“Hey man, your fork-!” Kaminari yelped, pointing at the disfigured mess of metal in his friend’s steaming hand.
“Huh?” Bakugo was pulled out of his irate daze, and he quickly dropped the fork when he saw what he unconsciously did.
They all looked at him for an uneasy minute after noticing the expression on his face, no doubt understanding he was furious about being compared to Deku once again in front of you.
“Look, Bakugo, don’t really take what Y/N said to heart. We don’t know who she actually likes, and Midoriya’s just her friend...” but Sero trails off hesitantly after glancing in your direction, seeing Deku’s dreamy expression as your hand still continues to rest on his shoulder.
“Just let her come to you, yeah? You don’t wanna force anything on her, that’ll make her really uncomfortable-“
-“Shut the fuck up Shitty Hair, and mind your own damn business,” Bakugo interjects, abruptly unscrewing his drink and standing up, unable to lose you to some broccoli- headed bug-eyed fuck.
He stiffly walks across the pavilion to where you two sit, and feigns a swig from his bottle. Your focus is still on Deku, so you don’t notice him approach until he comes up behind you two and ‘trip’s, falling forward and strategically spilling the liquid all over Deku’s back and your front.
You squeal as your blouse is drenched, and Deku shoots up from his seat to grab some napkins while searching for the perpetrator.
“What the- Kacchan?”
Bewildered, you look at the two while dabbing the wet splotches on your shirt, Mina and Tsu jumping into action to help you.
The boys exchange a weird look, and although Bakugo gave his version of an apology, he doesn’t look very sorry. In fact, if you saw it right he looked almost...smug? With a bit of anger?
Deku wasn’t any easier to understand either. His voice was lilted as usual while he grabbed napkins, but his gaze never left his childhood friends’ and his eyes weren’t exactly the big doe-eyes you had grown fond of.
They were darkened, and narrowed as they bored into Bakugo’s eyes. Neither one of them was looking away from each other, and there was a weird tension in the air that everyone could sense.
But you couldn’t focus on that right now, you had to go and wash up.
“I gotta change and maybe take a shower, I can feel it sticking to my skin,” you scrunch your nose in disgust and tell Mina as you stand to leave. Deku offers to walk you, but you wave him off kindly.
As you pass by Bakugo, you can feel his eyes rove up and down your body, very obviously staring at the way your white shirt clings to your chest from the liquid, sending chills up your spine.
But he doesn’t come after you, not yet.
It’s only after everyone has finished up from their dinner and headed off to bed almost 20 minutes later that the showers finally, finally warm up enough for you to dip a hesitant toe in.
Curse the old pipes.
He watches you from the dark, the only light you’re provided with is the dim emergency light from the rusty bulb, the camp counselors having been shut the facility’s lights off merely a half hour ago. But you were stubborn in waiting for the water to warm up so you were left alone in the showers, shifting uncomfortably in your sticky wet clothes.
And then miraculously you get up for the umpteenth time to check the temperature of the water, and it’s finally deemed appropriate for you when you sigh in relief and start taking your shoes off.
He hides in the door partition, his cock hardening slowly as he thinks of you alone with just him and his mercy. You were going to pay for almost breaking his heart and prancing around with stupid fucking Deku instead.
But asides from his rage, he still liked you, a lot. He wanted you to want him as much as he wanted you, so he decided to try and attempt to make your first time with him as gentle and as special as he could in the dirty cabin showers.
Bakugo waits with bated breath for the right moment, and the second your hands grip the end of your shirt to pull it up, he slowly emerges from the dark.
“You know, I’m glad you came here alone, at night. It’s almost like you wanted this.”
You jump violently at the low voice coming from seemingly nowhere, and you wildly look around for the source until you see him...coming at you slow from the inky abyss of the room, like a predator stalking his prey.
His figure seems to loom even larger than he actually is, the shadows of his tall body bouncing off the walls and grazing over the top of your head. He seems to be in no rush, taking his time with his hands in his pockets, eyes flashing dangerously at you as he stalks forward until he’s backed you up against the deteriorating wall, chest to chest with you.
“W-what the hell, Bakugo,” you stammer nervously. “This is the girls room, you can’t be here-“
And the hand you raise to push him away is caught in his calloused ones, your other wrist is quickly seized as well and slammed above your head. You cry out in pain and try kicking out, but he wedges a bulky knee in between your thigh and shoves his face mere millimeters away from yours, a mean leer adorning his normally-attractive face.
“What, I can’t be here? And here I was thinking that you almost liked me. But oh, I forgot, Deku’s your favorite, right?” The grip on your wrist tigthens and his leg flexes from in between your thighs.
You squirm and sob, about to ask what the hell he was talking about-
He sees the understanding pass over your face, and he laughs cruelly at the horror that comes with it.
“You heard me? How?”
“Not just heard. I saw you, too.”
He lets his eyes drop from your neck, to your chest, and then to the juncture between your legs which was being massaged by his knee.
Tears well up in your eyes as you realize he was watching you this entire evening in the springs. How he got away with it, you didn’t want to even know.
“I saw your hair open for the first time, and not in that stupid hairdo you always do for school.”
He trails his hand softly up the sides of your body and up your neck until he reaches his big hand into your scalp. You whimper and gasp as he laces his fingers through your locks, seeming to caress you but then harshly yanking your head back so you had no choice but to look at him head on.
“I saw your ass pressed up against the rocks, and I wished it was up against my cock instead.”
He removes his hand from your hair and snakes it down to your bottom, kneading and slapping it lightly. You writhe even harder now, too scared to make a noise in case he hurts you even worse, just wanting him to get the hell off of you.
“But I didn’t see the front of you. I imagined what you would look like with tears streaming down your face while I was stuffing you full of me”
He plays with the edge of your shirt, a dark look in his eye as he plays with you. You try to budge your hands but to now avail, only serving in annoying him and shoving his knee up further into your crotch. The pressure on your clit is immense, and your legs start shaking as you’re forced to be suspended almost midair on his knee.
“Take this off,” he says softly, the rasp catching in his voice.
“Bakugo, please. You don’t have to do this, I swear I won’t tell anyone-“
“You think I’m worried about if you’ll tell anyone? Hah! I already know you won’t, wanna know why?”
He leans in, inhaling the scent of your hair and grazing his nose along the side of your neck. You force yourself to breath in and out, feeling an impending heart attack.
“‘Cause if you do, I’ll make sure to fuck you in front of everyone, especially on Deku’s broken body.”
And then you can’t stop them, the tears fall from your body shaking in pure fear at his threat.
You knew he wouldn’t actually do something like that, but hearing it snarled in your ear so softly made you believe it all the same, the power he held while you were fucked, literally and metaphorically.
“Now I’m not gonna ask you again. Take this shit off before I burn it, bitch.”
You don’t want to piss him off further, so with trembling hands you lift the edge of your sticky uniform and start to pull it off, but he stops you with a frustrated grunt.
“Slowly. I wanna savor this while no ones here.”
You bite your lip and suppress a scream as you do what he says.
And oh, does he ever savor it. The shirt clings deliciously to your breasts, and he licks his lips as it ruffles up and over your head. Your skin is perspiring from the humid air, a sheen of sweat lightly decorating your collarbones. Bakugo can’t hold himself back any longer, and you yelp when he comes at you suddenly.
He lunges at your face and pins your arms down by your side again as his lips mesh against yours, his kiss filled with clacking teeth and a thrashing tongue against your lips. The knee you’re straddling is bouncing lightly up and down, jostling you on it and causing your cunt to pulsate with heat.
You let out a distressed moan, and he swallows it greedily, using the advantage of your open mouth to delve deeper into your wet cavern. You open bleary eyes and flinch when you find his already wide open, staring back into unforgiving vermillion orbs.
He pulls back slightly, panting. “I bet Deku didn’t get this kind of treatment, huh? It’s all for me right?”
You don’t know if he’s genuinely asking you or just being insane, so you don’t answer him. Fortunately and unfortunately for you, he doesn’t care for your response, rather more focusing on dragging you by your neck towards the hot showers.
You slip and stumble as he shoves you in a stall, gaining your balance only too late when he turns and locks the door.
“Look, I’m sorry okay? I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings, just forget you saw or heard anything at the springs, it was just girl talk, stupid stuff that didn’t mean anything-“
“-even if it didn’t mean anything to you I’ll make sure you believe what you’ll feel after I fuck you senseless.”
And with that, he tugs off his clothes and licks his lips at the sight of you cowering against the wall, naked and oh so vulnerable.
He slowly shifts towards you, pressing his body flush against your trembling one. You can feel the outline of his erection on your thigh, and you swallow at how big it is.
“I don’t wanna have to close your mouth or restrain you when I’m balls deep in that tight cunt. So don’t do anything stupid and this’ll be a whole lot easier for you.”
He reaches a hand down and lightly strokes your labia, relishing in how you whimper and jerk against him, but don’t dare try to stop his hand.
Another hand finds its way to your tits, tugging and pulling at your hardened nipples. You gasp and arch into his touch, slowly coming undone from his ministrations. He humps against your leg like a teenage kid, grunting while he does so.
His mouth is attacking yours once again, but now you’re too tired from the constant surge of adrenaline coursing through your veins to even move your head. You just let him play with your body, your heart, your soul.
“I think the princess is wet enough for me now,” he leers at you when he pulls his fingers away, scissoring his digits to show the strings of wetness he pulled from your pussy.
You squeal and grab onto his chiseled arms as he suddenly hikes his hands underneath your upper thighs and picks you up, forcing your legs to wrap around his middle for support.
He slams you against the wall, the water cascading down your head is making your hair stick to your face, and in a strange and sudden show of intimacy Bakugo softly moves your locks away from your eyes. Your gazes lock, yours desperate and tear filled while his scarlet hues show no signs of mercy, but rather a strange predatory hunger.
Your arms scrabble behind his head and on his shoulders for balance as he slowly sinks you down on his length. You hiss and throw your head back at the sensation of being filled, and he eats it up.
He watches the way your mouth opens, your eyes widen, as every sinful sound your body can make escapes you.
As if he needed more of an ego boost
You wail as the last inches are sucked into your dripping hole, and he lets out a mean breathy laugh.
“Fuck, you really were ready huh? I should’ve taken you weeks ago, little slut.”
Your brows furrow and you try to turn your face away but he snatches your chin in a hardened grip.
“Uh-uh, none of that shit. You were doing so well, don’t turn away from me now.”
He slowly starts to roll his hips minutely into yours, not exactly thrusting but enough movement to make your cunt flutter and throb.
“What do you want me to say? You got what you wanted!” You whisper to him, more tears falling down freely down your cheeks.
He can’t help himself, he groans and surges forward to lick the salty rivers up, gripping your ass tightly when you flinch.
“Tell me you love me. Tell me how much you want me, how much better I am than that green-haired bastard and I won’t shove it up your ass.”
You can feel his abdomen clench and shake from the effort he’s making not to completely batter your cervix so you give in quickly, afraid of what he’s like when his thin strands of self restraint snap.
“I...I love you Bakugo. I really want y-ooh!”
The last bit of your sentence is choked off as he lifts you up all the way to his tip and slams your hips down his length. You gasp and weave your hands through his hair for support, your legs violently shaking at the pain.
He grunts and starts really giving it to you, setting a fast pace as he bounces you on his cock. Your head is bobbing around, you’re fairly certain there’s drool coming down your lips but you can’t find it in you to care as he fucks you into oblivion.
After a couple of more painful thrusts he pushes you against the wall and removes your hands from his hair, holding them above your head against the wall. You’re trapped with your upper half plastered against the dingy tile while your lower half is wrapped his dick.
Your cunt swallowing him down is the only leverage you have, so your whole body weight presses down on his shaft. He moans loudly at the pressure on his tip, your gooey hot walls clamping around him from every angle and you yourself can’t help it when your eyes roll back at the sensation.
He rocks his hips up, and up you go as well, whining and clawing at the wall behind you, desperately grappling onto your sanity as well. Your tits bounce with each thrust, and his glinting eyes take perverse joy in their obscene movements.
Bakugo starts moving in earnst now, deeming the slow strokes enough prep for you. He batters your womb, reaching places not even your fingers could access, making you go cross eyed.
He sees this and snickers at your pathetic state.
“Fuck yeah you little whore. You’re gonna learn no one else can satisfy this slutty pussy like I can.”
You give him nothing but a choked gasp in response. You head moves like a bobblehead, you can’t even see clearly from the water cascading into your eyes. He’s just a towering blob of ashy blond hair and large muscles.
His hips start stuttering in their rhythm, drawing to a close from his contrasting pounding minutes earlier. Your nails rake over his forearms, holding on for dear life as he pants and groans into your ear like an animal. His dick spasms inside you for a second or two, and then Bakugo suddenly holds you tight against him, wet bodies pressed against each other as he cums.
He lets out a loud moan as you whine into his shoulder at the sensation of his hot seed filling you up. You’re held against his heaving chest for a moment of two, the both of you catching your breath until he slowly backs up and lets you slip to the ground.
It’s suddenly very quiet, the sound of the shower is drowned out by the ringing in your head. You’re shaking, shock overcoming your abused body as you refuse to look at him.
But he won’t have any of that. He steps forward, and you flinch yet again, scrambling backwards to put very necessary space between him and you.
“You got what you wanted. Please leave, I won’t say anything to anyone.” You breath out shakily.
He’s silent for a moment before you hear him chuckle. His low chuckles grow louder and more derisive, he’s booming with sinister laughter and you snap your head up in horror at him.
“You think this is done?”
He crouches to your level suddenly, elbows on his knees as he cocks his head at you, eyeing your naked body that he so recently claimed as his. His gaze travels down to where his cum seeps from between your legs, and you quickly cross your limbs over to prevent him from seeing the lewd sight.
“You’re mine now, Y/N. I already told you, you’re not gonna be talking to Deku, or any other guy apart from me. You think they’ll even want you when they find out how you loved being fucked in the dirty showers? Everyone’s gonna call you a slut, nothing else.”
“No, that’s not true you-“
He crawls to you, and it’s so mesmerizingly terrifying to see a man of his build crawl to you like some deranged humanoid that you shut up, words caught in your throat.
“Shut the fuck up.” He says softly. “You’re my bitch now, and you’ll do whatever the fuck I say, when I say it.”
Bakugo might’ve felt a little bad to see the girl he liked so scared of him all because of his doing, but the way you trembled and crossed your legs like the stupid, helpless little girl that you were erased every hesitancy from his mind.
He grabbed your cheeks and smushed them together, paying no mind to the pleas and whimpers you let out in retaliation.
Licking a long stripe up your neck, you shivered when he growled, “now clean up and be outside in 10 minutes, you’re sleeping in my bunk tonight. The guys are all asleep so we’ll just take an empty room in the cabin.”
He released you and stood back up, grabbing a towel for himself along the way. Drying his hair off, his back was turned to you as he started picking his clothes up too.
You just sat there in a daze, wondering what the hell just happened.
“Oh, and Y/N?” He was dressed, and he was at the door now.
“If you think about doing anything stupid or take longer than 10 minutes, I’ll come back in and get you personally. And I’ll make sure that we stay here for the rest of the night, just in case you like your little time alone that I’m giving you too much.”
Can we talk about this face for a minute? Nicky’s nonchalant “Oh hey, you’re up” face? It struck me as odd the first time I saw TOG. I was like, “Okay, I get that you’re immortal but aren’t you even a LITTLE bit concerned about what’s happening right now?! You’re strapped to a table, some crazy doctor just finished taking biopsies with no anesthetic and that looked like the opposite of fun, the love of your life has been unconscious for who the hell knows how long, and THIS is the face you make when he finally comes to?!” It seemed like a strange acting choice on Luca’s part. But Gina kept it, despite the existence of what I can only assume were multiple takes, in which I’m sure Luca tried different things, so I mentally revisited...
And the more I thought about it, the more I admired the subtly of the performances in this movie and had to give props to Luca. That look really brought home that Joe and Nicky have been in equally shitty situations multiple times over the centuries. In fact, given Nicky’s, “A fine justification. I’ve heard it so many times before,” response to Kozak, I’m left wondering just how many mad scientists (or whatever the equivalent would be, depending on the century) they’ve encountered! This look encapsulates the “This again? [sigh]” energy Nicky has throughout the lab scenes (aside from when he’s trying to get Joe to stop verbally beating the shit out of Booker).
Ultimately, Nicky knows Andy is coming for them. And Booker as well, since he doesn’t yet know about Booker’s betrayal. Or Andy’s loss of immortality. OF COURSE ANDY IS COMING. So this whole thing is just about waiting it out, with the inconvenience of a crazy lady sticking needles into both of them. In the graphic novels, there’s even a “What do you think is taking her so long?” exchange between Joe and Nicky. (Right before they scare the scientist into releasing them with the prospect of what Andy is going to do to him. Heh.)
So, in short, Nicky’s placid, “I’ve been reading in bed and sipping a cup of French press coffee waiting for you to wake up; do you want waffles?” expression that I at first was all “WUH?” about is, in fact, perfection.
Talks Machina Highlights - Critical Role C2E123 (Feb. 2, 2021)
After last week’s thoroughly relaxing and brief episode, tonight’s guests are Sam Riegel and Liam O’Brien!
Brian, to Sam: “You look like Tim Curry moved to Nantucket to become a sommelier.”
How did Caleb and Veth approach the ally-ship with the Tombtakers? Sam: “I mean, we got some information, and I think we got a little closer to Lucien and knowing whether he has any of Mollymauk inside of him, which is I think the most important knowledge that we’re seeking right now. Is there someone to be saved inside there? We got glimpses, and we got a little hint that Mollymauk is maybe still in there? Maybe? And we got a little more insight into their plans, so that was useful.” Liam: “We know why we were having that fucking dream.” Sam: “But other than that, it was just a road trip with assholes.” Liam: “All our plans have been ripped in a new direction, and it’s just been improvisation.” Sam notes that it feels like we’re always about to rip into Caleb’s backstory, but haven’t yet followed that thread all the way through. Liam: “It’s partially frustrating, to be sure, but also I like the idea that-- his whole shit has been selfish, it’s been dealing with the trauma that he’s been through and not the greater world, and that’s been shifting somewhat.”
Does Caleb think the book was worth it, and is he still interested in reading more? Sam: “How do you ask Caleb not to read a book?” Liam: “Caleb has spent enough time with the Nein to know you shouldn’t put a hand on a hot stove. After what happened with the book, he knows it’s a terrible idea. But maybe. But it’s a really bad idea. But reserve judgment, but it’s a really terrible idea. I think that Caleb is very aware that mages and people like him very easily fall prey to their curiosity and it can lead to bad places. But there is still that amount of scientific endeavor where you think there is value in knowing and learning, and maybe we can ride that line. He was True Neutral at the start of the campaign, and maybe he’s Chaotic Good now, but part of him is hubris, even if it’s a little bit, still.”
What about Otis has drawn Veth’s focus? Sam: “I mean, he’s a little shit. She was curious about Otis because he’s a small like she is, and in talking to him, he seemed to be real creepy, but he was just creepy and distant and didn’t value his past or family or anything like that. She sees someone who’s like her, but so not like her, and maybe that scares her a little bit more.”
How does Caleb feel about Beau being on this ride with him? Liam: “The dream is another example of how Caleb had very narrow vision of the things he wanted to do. It used to seem so massive to him, but now... To have Beauregard involved feels right. If anyone in the group is going to stop him from grabbing something he shouldn’t, it is probably Beauregard. She’ll punch him in the fucking face to stop him, which I think he needs, to a certain extent. They’re two different kinds of nerds, and I kind of like that, that this group of nine philosophers, they’ve reached out and somehow grabbed the two nerds in the party.”
How do Caleb and Veth see the Somnovum? Sam: “I mean, they seem real bad. Anything that’s a quorum of powerful entities heading towards your planet to unleash an energy of any kind, typically bad? I assume they’re bad, or at least the Tombtakers wish them to do ill.” Liam: “I think they want the kind of peace that comes from snapping your fingers and turning people to dust. Caleb sees them as a cautionary tale; they’re the worst-case scenario for arcane inquisitiveness.” He sees Allura Vysoren as the antidote to that.
Why the staunch refusal to use Halfling Luck? Sam: “I don’t like Luck! I just don’t like Luck. I think it’s cheap, I think it’s a cheat, I think it’s stupid. It just feels like a do-over.” Liam: “I am your antithesis! If I ever voice a halfling, I am going to hammer that feature!” Sam: “What I love about D&D is that you don’t know what’s going to happen. If you roll bad, okay, that’s it. If you roll well, it makes the success more enjoyable to know that it’s a pure success and don’t one where you’re like well actually... it’s so stupid. If someone was about to die, I would probably use the fuckin’ Luck feature. Well. It depends who. If it was Travis, yeah, no, he’s fucked, sorry.”
Liam drops that he’s picked Sam’s character class and race again for a hypothetical campaign three. Sam: “It’s not what I was thinking for future characters, but I’m excited to explore.”
Cosplay of the Week: an amazing Mollymauk by KatofValkyrie!
What was it like to bring the Tombtakers into the tower? Liam: “It is complicated, because he does not like him. Lucien’s just a fucking dick. But Caleb also knows that Molly’s in there somewhere. That tower’s only for the M9, and Lucien’s not in the M9. Their situation with these people is shitty, it’s terrible. Caleb doesn’t feel like they have the upper hand. He doesn’t like that they’re even going on this journey per se, because life is bigger than his bullshit. He feels like they’ve been losing over and over again, so it was a gamble to try to get on equal footing.
What spurred Veth into making sure she and Yasha have some one-on-one time? Sam: “Yasha hasn’t been getting a lot of moments to shine. Now that she’s back, I just got the impression that Yasha feels out of place sometimes, or timid, or unsure of herself. When Veth was Nott, Nott certainly had her share of those moments. I think she sees a kindred spirit and wants to make sure that she’s been giving all the opportunity she can to flourish and thrive. Dani, you’re just laughing at my mustache, aren’t you?” Dani: “Yes, that’s the only thing I’m laughing at through this whole bullshit.” Sam denies all knowledge of trolling, but eventually admits, on the topic of Yasha and Beau getting together: “They’ve made me wait this long... I’m going to make them wait a little bit longer!”
What was it like to show his friends the upper floors? Liam: “I kinda expected somebody to sneak up there before that. That being part of the tower is not even a conscious choice of his, it just is. The reason Caduceus has creeped Caleb out for a long time is because he talks about how-- Caduceus is a really kind person and wants Caleb to let go of the past. And in a really simplistic way, turn that frown upside-down. And that’s just not who Caleb is, and it’s not who everybody is. There is something to be said for trying to stay open and positivity, but thinking you can shut out the past, especially a traumatic one, is just not true. When things happen to us, we carry them. But to candy-coat it and say, ah, I’m free, or everything is good, or I’ve turned the corner... life is way messier than that. It’s not flipping a switch, it’s not bad-to-good, it is such a work in progress. Even when you make strides and start to get to a better place, you can backslide a lot. So the tower is who he is, and the tower is 7/9ths love for his friends, and 1/9th hope, but there’s still a percentage of him that carries everything from the past, and knows that he should, and knows that he should not go back to where he was. And the way to do that is not to say everything is rainbows, but to remember it. The tower is just like an extension of who he is. He’s never going to forget the past, and he’s never going to be like, I’m good, or I’ve turned a corner. He should remember the past, and he should do better, always.”
Does Veth still believe it’s possible to get Molly back? Sam: “Well, she was a person trapped in another body for many years, so has some experience there, and definitely believes that the spirit and soul of Molly is in there and just needs to be unlocked somehow.”
Fan Art of the Week: an amazing group shot by HarpySN!
How are Caleb and Veth dealing with their guilt and fear about being in the middle of this? Sam: “It definitely was a deep conversation that might have repercussions going forward. The problem with all of what we’re doing now is that we don’t have time to deal with our petty problems anymore. It’s all high tension all the time!” Liam: “It’s true; they’re not in control of their situation at all anymore.” Sam: “It’s good to have these check-ins, but it’s not like we can do anything about them. We’re reactive right now.” Liam: “He’s not happy with where they are, but they wouldn’t even be this far if the goblin hadn’t pulled him out of the mud. So part of it is, you saved me from where I was and got me on my feet again, and now it’s disconcerting to see it all just get knocked sideways by something he never could’ve predicted. I think Caleb felt nostalgic for when things were simpler, in a way, for them, when we’re both troubled drifters.”
What was it like to see Gelidon’s return? Liam: “I am the least superstitious person at the table. Ashley’s dice suck.” Sam: “It was fun fighting a dragon!” Liam: “Two massive battles in one episode, neither of which came away with a victory. I guess surviving is a victory.” Sam: “I’d forgotten about the dragon, honestly.” Liam: “I loved it. I was so upset at the idea that we were going to stealth and not get into it.”Sam: “Mercer doesn’t keep a live dragon around and not do something with it. That dragon’s coming back.”
How do Caleb and Veth feel about going to see Essek? Sam: “He can be very helpful, I believe, but as Sam Riegel, a player of D&D, I’m super suspicious. What the fuck is Essek doing up there, so close, now? I don’t trust him as far as I can throw him. And I can throw him pretty far because he floats.” Liam: “I 100% agree with you. I do not understand what Essek could bring to what we are going through. I know the audience loves him, I love him too. He’s a really cool character. But he’s fucking toxic. He out of curiosity caused a war between two nations. And Caleb has been changed for the good by the M9 from months of travel with them. Essek has had none of that. Caleb has changed for the good, but not because of people like Essek. Essek is where Caleb came from. We kept the lid on the pot during the whole treaty at sea and it almost all went fucking sideways, and only because we pressed him into a corner. I hope that guy finds some sort of balance and peace for himself, but I do not see how his input here would be helpful. There’s other heavy hitters that I would try to pull in.”
Liam notes that the Cloven Crystal is in the Bag of Holding. Sam: “Do I have Fluffernutter, or is Fluffernutter gone?” Liam: “Nope. 300 pounds of fireworks? Gone. A dead mage, a threshold crest, and fireworks.” Dani: “Your basic essentials.”
They’ve been hanging out every day, and when Kara says every day she means every single day. Now that Lena owns CatCo she picks Kara up on her way to work, which is so much better than taking the bus. If Kara’s going to pretend that she can’t fly she at least wants to hang out with her best friend in the process.
They have lunch together in Lena’s office and leave work together so Lena can drive her home, except each time one of them says something like want to watch a movie? or I don’t wanna go home alone and they end up spending the night together too.
They laugh, all the time. Lena could just be breathing and it’d make her laugh. They create a new inside joke every day and they make fun of the other people in the office behind their backs, even though Kara feels a little bit bad afterwards and Lena has to convince her not to go up to them and apologize. That’s it, she says each time, that’s the last time i’m making fun of anyone with you, you angelic weirdo, and then proceeds to break that promise five minutes after.
Lena gets drunk on red wine one night and ends up crying in Kara’s arms, telling her that Lionel is her biological father and that she’s never told anyone before. Kara’s own eyes well with tears. I’m an alien, she wants to say. My parents left me in a pod and i’ve resented them ever since. My dad’s dead and my mom and i are pretending like everything’s fine but nothing is.
She’s scared. She’s scared because everything’s perfect, because Lena ends up sleeping over that night and countless nights after, and she’s just so happy and she doesn’t want to fuck everything up. Lena knows everything about her, everything, even the things that she never tells anyone because she’s afraid it’ll change the way they see her, thinks it’ll make them stop loving her and they’ll leave.
She’s not afraid like that with Lena. She wants to tell her, knows Lena will be okay with it, wants them to be equal. I know all of you and you know all of me and we both know that we love each other no matter what type of deal.
She learns how many glasses of wine it takes before Lena goes from giggly, aggressively affectionate drunk to sobbing, nauseatingly reminiscent drunk and makes sure the bottle magically disappears before Lena crosses that line. She learns what kind of jokes are off limits and to not go overboard with the cuddling. She learns that Lena freaks out if Kara tries to rush her even the slighest bit in the morning, or even suggests that she shouldn’t be working so late.
She learns that she loves Lena, all of her, and Kara wasn’t made for lying, especially when her heart is not in it, which is why it just... slips out.
“I don’t like lasagna,” Kara’s saying, hanging out in the kitchen in one of Lena’s hoodies. Her hair’s down under the hood, and she’s watching Lena pour her fourth glass of wine, looking around surreptitiously for a place to hide the bottle.
“You don’t like lasagna?” Lena asks, her voice higher than usual. She scrunches her nose at Kara, fist propping on her hip. “How can you not like lasagna. What kind of lasagna have you been eating?”
Kara’s lips twist in happy amusement. “When I first came to Earth I hated pancakes because I thought they all tasted like how Alex made them. Maybe it’s the same with lasagna?”
She realizes it just as she’s sitting down on the island. Her heart drops and she falls quiet, feels cornered, just like every single time she’s ever told anyone. She wants to take it back, snatch it out of the air, is willing to fly backwards around the earth and burn inside out just to turn back time.
But Lena touches her shoulder, her entire palm soothing over the breadth of it. She presses a chapstick kiss to the apple of Kara’s cheek, the space that feels like it belongs to her, that Kara eagerly waits for her to kiss every day. “It’s okay, Kara,” she says, unreasonably loud when she’s right next to Kara’s ears. “It doesn’t change anything.”
Lena pats her cheeks dry and shows her a video of Britney Spears burning down her gym on the internet, and next thing Kara knows she’s huffing out a laugh and it’s like nothing happened at all. She hides the wine bottle, discovers she actually kind of really likes lasagna, and they send a ridiculous voice mail to Alex berating her for her shitty cooking skills.
Kara wakes up to Lena nuzzling the back of her neck, the alarm clock beeping for them to wake up. “Is that why you didn’t get salmonella when we ate raw cake mix?” Lena asks, her brows pulled together disgruntledly, and Kara starts her day by laughing.
She thinks I know all of you and you know all of me and we both know that we love each other no matter what.
PLEASE TALK MORE ABOUT TUBBO IN THE HERMIT TOMMY AU.
Technoblade lives out in the middle of nowhere. It’s easy for him to disappear for a day. It’s not so easy for Tubbo. He lives in the heart of L’Manberg, and as its president he’s in the public eye all the time. However, whenever he gets even the faintest glimmer of a chance to see his best friend, he takes it. It’s risky, sure, but he thought Tommy was dead for months. The risk is worth it.
Tubbo likes the ideals of peace that the hermits have, wishes so much that he could implement them, but their entire peaceful dynamic is founded on the principle that everyone is equal and everyone is kind. That just doesn’t work in the Dream SMP.
He and Tommy spend their time together soaring the skies with elytra, building weird unexplained structures for the hermits to find, and playing minigames that Tommy actually pays for. (”They’ve got redstone bullshit,” he explains, “they don’t work if you don’t pay.”)
Tubbo gets a new compass to replace the one he lost to a creeper. It’ll just spin uselessly whenever he’s not on the Hermitcraft server, but he doesn’t mind. He records songs with Tommy, burns them onto music discs. Tommy’s been learning to play the guitar, and he’s really bad at it, but the music is fun anyway.
(He brings one of the discs back to Wilbur. Wilbur wants to see his brother so, so damn bad, but if he leaves the Dream SMP he might turn into Alivebur and he just can’t deal with that. He sits alone in the rubble of Logstedshire, plays the disc of his brother making a shitty cover of a song Wilbur wrote, and clutches his blue desperately. There’s a pile of blue all around him. It’s still not enough to drain all his sadness.)
Tubbo and Tommy sit on the bench that Tommy made in the shopping district. The sun sets as they listen to Mellohi. For a moment the two get to pretend that things are the way they used to be.
The hermits see this young man, a boy really, wearing a suit just a bit too big for him. Tubbo is, to the hermits, such a sweet young man that Stress can’t help but pinch his cheeks. They all give him little care packages to take with him whenever he goes back home to L’Manberg, because the hermits absolutely hate that they have to keep sending a fucking child into what’s basically a warzone, but the least they can do is give him things that will help him stay in one piece. They hear Tommy and Tubbo reminisce about the good old days of fighting for their independence, and they weep. If Tubbo weren’t so strongly bound by his sense of duty to his country, they’d have told him to stay with Tommy, become a hermit. As it is, he’d never do it, even if he wants to. He’s got people waiting on him back home. They need him.
The hermits wish Tubbo would consider what he needs.
Platonic Polyam Bench Trio Marriage AU
You guys asked, so here I am to deliver! Platonic Polyam Bench Trio marriage au where Tommy marries into Tubbo’s and Ranboo’s platonic marriage. (focus on Tommy lol)
NOTE; These are about the c!characters and not the irl people, and I'm writing this like a poly queerplatonic relationship okay? None of this is intended to be romantic or anything else and anything that is in this list is PLATONIC INTENTIONS ONLY
Edit; Now called the Bench Husbands Au
-It kinda all kicks off when about a week or so after Tommy gets out of Prison. (Note, nothing after the first stream after Tommy gets out is canon in this au, as well as some things before)
-Tubbo and Tommy finally have a small fight and argument, before talking, like really talking and Tubbo invite Tommy to come live with them in the mansion in snowchester once its done.
-Tommy doesn't really want to... but he’s tired and lonely and still scared to death and Tubbo promises he’s safe with them, plus if they lived together they could plan on how to kill Dream easier as well.
-Ranboo doesn't mind but after that he tries to go talk to tommy more, but Tommy isnt... the most receptive? Tommy is suffering still and is feeling very replaced and lonely, but doesn't excuse his kinda snippy behavior with Ranboo
-This finally comes to ahead when Ranboo snaps and calls him out, leading to another small fight, before Tommy apologizes and they also talk. This one is more in depth though and Tommy talks about what happened in exile, in the prison, and just general shitty stuff that's being going on.
-Ranboo, in turn, talks to him about the voices and Dream’s voice and the sleepwalking and Tommy is very much more concerned about them then anyone else he told was, and validates the fear about it, and resolves to help Ranboo get rid of it somehow.
-After this, and both trying to convince the other they should tell Tubbo, that they both probably need to tell Tubbo. They want to keep him safe and not worry him, but... they both need help in different ways and they both love him enough to not do that to him.
-The night ends with lots of tears, Tubbo admitting his own traumas and tears and what he’s been not saying, and a promise to help each other.
-Its not a while after that actually Ranboo brings up the idea of adding Tommy to their marriage. He can tell the blond is struggling with feeling replaced and low-self esteem, and it would help him feel more equal and loved maybe? Tubbo thinks its a great idea and they go to ask Tommy.
-Tommy’s pretty uppity at first, he believes its just them pitying him and treating him like glass again, which he hates more then anything, but after they calm him down and explain they just want him to feel equal and that they both actually cared for him and wanted him to join in on their thing, he’s more contemplative.
Ranboo nervously throws in a few other points, like how for legal reasons it could benefit him like it was for them, their allies had to leave him alone, plus Tubbo only started making his own hotel becuase he wanted Tommy to start interacting with him again, and-
-At this point Tommy just, interrupts and says yes, surprising them. They didn't exactly think he’d say no, but they thought it would be harder then that. He laughs at their expressions and says why not? Plus it stood to reason they’d want Tommy, everyone wanted Tommy.
-Ranboo and Tubbo exchange a look before bullying their now platonic fiancée.
They agree to get married as soon as the Mansion is done, and till then Tommy can finish packing his stuff and a few other things he wanted to do.
-Also Tommy is totally not avoiding Michael because every pet he ever got close to has died and he doesn't want to get attached and risk Tubbo and Ranboo losing something they cared about because of him, no siree, why wouldn't you think that?
-Speaking of Michael!
-Its not all that strange to keep undead mobs like Zombie piglins as pets, in fact Zombie Piglins are the probably better undead mob to keep around due to their mostly passiveness if you want a pet and the fact they don't need much to eat and wont really be harmed if out leave them alone for long periods of time
-Though Tommy kinda thinks Tubbo and Ranboo’s insist on treating him like their child is weird, but he’s willing to let them have it, clearly it made them happy to play around
-Isn't until he finally moves in that he realizes that Michael is different then other zombie piglins and finds himself being pulled into the parent dynamic as well
-Though now that he thinks about it, something about Michael seems off… welp it's probably nothing :)
-When the mansion is done, he tears down the dirt shack and makes it a community garden and it becomes one of the only things that stays free of the red vines (who knew watering it with water from the holy land would make it untouchable? It's thanks to this garden later others figure out how to defeat the egg)
-They elect to not have a ceremony, not now at least but Tommy actually thinks a small wedding party would be fun at a later date. Ranboo doesn't mind much if they have one or not but Tubbo is actually very excited about planning it.
-Tommy wears his ring on a necklace most of the time, but occasionally wears it on his fingers, usually when he needs something to fiddle with.
-Ranboo wears his on his tail (the area right before to fluffy part) normally but also wears it on his finger sometimes when he feels like it. (If your version has horns, he also does that too) it just really depends on what he’s feeling and if he’s forgotten where he put it. He also like, never takes it off unless to move it around because he’s afraid to lose it.
-Tubbo wears his as an actual ring on his finger (though if he has horns, sometimes he puts it on one of em if he needs the ring to be off his hand.) Tubbo learned the hard way when building nukes or other machinery (since, if you can believe it, his husbands aren’t that comfortable with the nukes as he is) you can't wield or do high heat stuff while wearing metal and nearly lost his finger. He’s very lucky and he has a small scar from it.
-Each of them have their own rooms so they can have their own space and somewhere to go if they want time to themselves/store their stuff in, but there is a 4th room (directly across from Michaels) where they share and tend to curl up to sleep together. About 5 out of 7 days of the week, some combo of them are cuddling together at night, more if they're having a bad day or nightmares.
-There's multiple bathrooms in the mansion but there's one they all like the best and will fight over it/race to get into it first before the others and the other two will stalk off salty to use a different one
-They're all pretty tactile people but out of them, Tommy is the most tactile (once the fear of being hurt recess he practically attaches himself to the others) and Ranboo is the least (he won't seek out comfort and touch as much as the others unless he needs it, but is the best at telling when the other two need touch or need to be left alone) and Tubbo is in the middle of that.
-Tommy is the one that cooks most of the time, Ranboo is banned from it after The Incident and while Tubbo is okay at cooking, Tommy just knows more recipes and how to make things taste really good.
-Tommy picked up sewing from when he was a kid, even before he was found by Wilbur and adopted by Phil, it was useful to be able to patch the rags he called clothes, and just ended up continuing because his brothers and dad sucked at sewing. It then morphed into full tailoring because he found it relaxing and liked being able to make his own clothes. He can and will be insulted if anyone wears anything he deems ‘ugly’, especially his new husbands. He makes them clothes all the time, specially Michael.
-In fact he also cleans the most, he just gets bored and while he makes a mess, if the house gets to a certain point he gets really uncomfortable and overstimulated, so he cleans.
-DomesticInnit? In my au? More likely then you think!
-Gradually the whole ‘watching the prison’ and ‘planning to kill Dream’ starts to fade as he gets back into the groove of living again and therapy. He’s just… tired of Dream having a hold on everything Tommy does, he’s sick of it. So… he just tries to live these days one step at a time. (Healing arc baby! Dream can die mad UwU)
-Tommy dragged them both to Therapy with him after a while.
-Because of this he finds himself home a lot with Michael, especially if the other two are busy. They’ve pretty much decided that someone has to be home with Michael at all times, which is now 100% more doable with the 3 of them, and Puffy or Foolish babysit if there’s ever time they can't.
-Tommy is a lot less of a hovering helicopter parent then the others and was the one to finally convince them Michael cant live trapped in a room. Yes, they were all worried for his safety but… you can't raise a kid in a cell, even if it's a nice one. Tommy takes Michael out more
-Tommy started to sleep walking again once they moved in and he still gravitates towards water for some reason. Nothing more startling then waking up because you plunged into frigid below 0 temp water while sleepwalking. Ranboo also enderwalks/sleepwalks more as well and there've been some nights where Tubbo has had to track them both sleepily walking around and make sure they don't hurt themselves or drown or something. At least Ranboo is semi-aware when enderwalking and normally just does weird ender things, Tommy likes to apparently walk into oceans or climb the mansion and nearly fall off and wander hundreds of blocks away. Tubbo’s not salty at all, really.
-Sapnap, Quackity, and Karl are 100% salty the benchtrio got platonically married before they got married
-They fight about last names all the time despite none of them actally taking eachothers last name, and if they happen to pick and choose on which one they’re feeling based on mood, well they can do what they want!
-However its agreed Michael’s last name is hyphenated so he’s now ‘Michael Beloved-Underscore-Innit’
These are all I have for now, feel free to ask about it or use my ideas! <3
On Boschlow, Skarlow and imaginary moral superiority
Alright, before anyone wants to yell at me for putting this in the ship tags, this is less an “anti ship”-post and more of an “I want to have this conversation with shippers because I think it’s important to talk about this”-post.
So, Boschlow has always been a fairly popular ship in the fandom, which doesn’t really surprise me, because the whole bully/victim dynamic is just incredibly popular, no matter which fandom you enter.
As a person that got bullied throughout the majority of my high school years, I have thoughts about this dynamic being so popular in general, but that’s not what we’re here to discuss today.
Recently, there has been an increasing number of Skarlow shippers making art and writing fics.
What makes this so different from Boschlow?
Essentially... nothing, and that’s exactly why I felt the need to make a post about this.
I’ve seen a bunch of Skarlow shippers say they do not ship Boschlow because Boscha is an awful person, putting themselves above the Boschlow shippers and making Skarlow a “superior” dynamic, based on... what, exactly?
From my perspective, there’s exactly two things Skara has on Boscha when it comes to shipping her with Willow. One being, she hasn’t thrown trash on her—which is an incredibly low bar to set.
The other thing? Skara acknowledged Willow’s Grudgby skills at the end of WILW.
And that’s a scene that gets misinterpreted a lot. See, people take Skara being nice to Willow here as a sign that she’s a way better person than Boscha, that she’s changed, and so on and so forth.
But this is untrue.
What exactly is it that changes between the beginning of WILW and the ending of the episode, between Willow and Skara specifically? It’s that Skara has seen Willow is good at Grudgby. Grudgby is something of value to Skara, thus, Willow’s skills impressing her makes Willow someone worthy of being treated well.
The ending of the Grudgby episode isn’t everyone except Boscha suddenly magically being better people. They’re all still very much bullies. They’re just now seeing Willow as someone who is better than other people because of her skills—and should therefore be treated better.
Boscha isn’t as willing to share her imaginary pedestal with Willow. But that’s the only difference. All the Grudgby girls are currently still on that pedestal. They’re just seeing Willow as someone worth sharing it with now. If they saw someone being “weak” the way they thought Willow to be previously to the match, they’d bully that person the same way they did Willow.
This isn’t any of them being better. This is all of them behaving the same way they always have. Willow is just moving up in their social hierarchy.
It shouldn’t take being good at some magical sport, or being a talented witch, or whatever the heck, to decide not to bully someone. NOBODY deserves to be bullied. Even the weakest, least sporty witch of the Boiling Isles should be treated with the same amount of respect as any of their classmates. Your value as a person shouldn’t be defined by how good you are at something. You have value no matter what you are and aren’t good at. And that’s something Skara and the others still fail to acknowledge.
Also I think it’s worth noting that even when they were treating Willow better at the end of the episode, they didn’t go out of their way to apologize for how they’d treated her before. They acknowledged her skills and don’t at all comment on how they treated her previously to the match.
If it takes some huge effort from Willow and her friends for the Grudgby girls to treat her with even an ounce of respect, that’s not character development. Character development would be them changing their general behavior. Acknowledging the way they’ve treated others was shitty, apologizing for that and actually working on being better. Is there a possibility this might happen? Sure. But you guys basically pretend WILW is their redemption arc already fully done. You’re giving Skara and the others credit for something that currently haven’t even happened.
And the option of them ditching Boscha (which also currently hasn’t happened) wouldn’t be a redemption arc either, even if it could be part of one.
Cutting toxic people out of your life can help, but Amity’s redemption arc was that, plus her explaining herself to Willow and giving Willow time, and actually acting on her word of not letting her friends pick on her again. Amity making it up to Willow wasn’t that she cut out Boscha and Skara. It was that she not only promised to be better but acted accordingly, standing at Willow’s side when she needed her.
(And Skara not constantly being a dipshit when she’s in the background is not a valid argument for why she’s a better person than Boscha. Boscha is also a harmless character when the episode isn’t focused on her, e.g. in Covention & Sense and Insensitivity. That Skara isn’t actively bullying her friends—which, uh, most people like their friends? This shouldn’t be that surprising?—is not a thing that should earn her any points in being “nicer” than Boscha.)
Do I think it might be a bit easier to get through to Skara than Boscha when it comes to letting go of current behaviors? Possibly.
From the way their characters are written and with how Boscha refuses to acknowledge Willow as equal even after the Grudgby match, it’s fairly obvious that it would need some pretty major event to get through to her. There’s an extra step here with Boscha (needing to learn to acknowledge others as having equal value to herself) that Skara doesn’t need to take.
BUT that one step in what should be a fairly long journey for either of them is far from enough to justify one ship being better than the other.
From the way I’ve seen it written (and unfortunately also experienced it in the comment section of my own fic), a bunch of skarlow shippers like to excuse Skara’s behavior by entirely pinning it on Boscha, pretending she’s actually a great person and that it’s only her friendship with Boscha that makes her toxic—and also that Boscha is the only one that should be held accountable for everyone’s behavior.
I am not exaggerating, I got a comment that essentially said “this shows wonderfully that Amelia and Skara are actually good people that unfortunately met a horrible person that had too much control over them.”
This strips Skara and Amelia of any accountability for their actions. And the idea of Boscha being an evil mastermind that forced all her friends into doing things they never wanted is... quite frankly, stupid, and also untrue. Skara actively encourages Boscha making fun of Willow at the beginning of Understanding Willow:
In the same episode it’s also stated that Amity “let her new friends bully [Willow] for years”, which definitely includes Skara and isn’t just about Boscha.
Skara looks really pleased when Boscha takes Willow’s hair clip at the beginning of WILW, just appears bored and not at all sympathetic when she throws gum at Willow, and grins gleefully when Boscha suggests using the others as target practice later in the episode:
Also, in Once Upon A Swap, Boscha’s entire squad is messing with people all over Bonesborough. Skara is throwing monster balloons at the city when Boscha isn’t even present:
Not only that, but a very large portion of the episode has Skara and the others literally ditch Boscha in favor of an even meaner person (King in Luz’s body).
King states, and I quote, “Hey, impressionable youths! Under my command, you could learn how to do some real damage.” after unleashing a monster on the city. And the entire group cheers him on and decides to follow him.
If Skara was actually so much better than Boscha, why the heck would she run after someone that is worse than her when given the opportunity?
And here comes the thing that a lot of the Skarlow shippers refuse to acknowledge because they for some reason feel the need to have moral superiority over Boschlow shippers: Skara isn’t a nice girl. Skara is a bully. And Skara should be held accountable for her actions in the same way as Boscha. Saying everything she did was just Boscha forcing her is entirely untrue to canon and just a lame excuse to make your ship look better.
Boscha and Skara have both bullied Willow for several years. If you want to ship either of them with her, even if you just want one of them to be friends with her, that needs to be acknowledged and definitely not excused. Even if you treat Skara’s bullying of Willow as something she did only due to Boscha (which, again, is canonically complete nonsense), she’s still hurt Willow to pretty much the same extent as Boscha has.
That a person isn’t as into the bullying as someone else doesn’t make it hurt any less for the victim of the bullying.
No matter if you ship Skarlow or Boschlow, commit to the reality that Skara and Boscha are both Willow’s bullies. Quit pretending Skara is so much better than Boscha, or that she isn’t responsible for her actions.
She is just as responsible for bullying Willow for years as Boscha is.
I’m so sick of hearing how Skara’s bullying is far more redeemable than Boscha’s. It’s not. Stop declaring bullying that doesn’t get physical harmless. As someone who was “only” ever verbally bullied, let me tell you that after four years of not seeing that person I’m still scarred by it. Stop getting your head so stuck in high school movies. Just because not every kind of bullying involves someone getting shoved into a locker doesn’t mean it’s not harmful.
Even worse: the take that people are shipping Skarlow “because they realized shipping Willow with Boscha is inherently toxic”. Tell me again why this “revolutionary” movement deciding that Willow deserves better then turns around and ships her with another one of her bullies?
This isn’t about treating Willow better. You’re just making Boscha seem unreasonably evil for no reason, and treating Skara as her not at all responsible victim, so you can ship Willow with her and don’t have to acknowledge that Willow is a victim of both of their bullying.
This needs to stop. Skara needs to be held just as accountable as Boscha.
If a Skarlow shipper exclusively comes from a perspective of “I think their personalities would mix better”? Sure, whatever, they may or may not, but that’s a valid opinion to have. But don’t start shipping Skarlow because you think you’re being better to Willow than the Boschlow shippers.
This whole thing isn’t a movement to get Willow a better girlfriend, lol
Both of them bullied her. Both ships are bully/victim dynamics. Skarlow does not actually have any moral superiority over Boschlow. As much as you refuse to acknowledge this, these two ships share the same basic dynamic.
Stop pretending shipping Willow with one of her bullies is leagues better than shipping her with another.
Alpines' first time gun buyers tips:
Dont buy a gun just because it's cheap and "you absolutely need something". Chances are if you didnt see a need for something before this, then you can save up for something worth the wait
Dont buy a revolver, if you do. Make it an afterthought, not your primary.
Dont buy a walther p22
Find ammo where you can. Dont hoard.
Invest in mags, holster and training. Not cosmetics
Lasers and a gimmick, buy a flashlight
Stop focusing on if the shotgun is a pump action. Stop giving the market a reason to have shitty repro shotguns
The guy across the counter doesnt care "how scary it's getting". They've been there for a while
Dont load your self defense firearms with blanks, birdshot or "less than lethal" ammo. If you're drawing that firearm, your life is on the line. Dont take that risk
Try before you buy. Dont buy a gun because either a buddy says it's a good gun or because the guy across the counter bullies you into it. buy what works for you.
Dont just throw your gun under your bed after you buy it. Take it to the range and train.
Learn to fix malfunctions. Have someone put snap caps in your mags and then try to correct the issues as fast as you can
Practice mag changes, dont listen to the old fart telling you "if you have to change mags you need more range time hyuk!"
Full frame(5in or more)= better for home
Compact(4in)=middle of the road for home AND carry
Sub compact(3in)= better for carry
Little gun does not equal little recoil. It's the exact opposite. The heavier and bigger the gun, the less recoil.
Invest in medical supplies and training. If you're this willing to take a life, you should be ready to save a life
If you're shooting left, your finger is too far out. Shooting right, finger is too far in. Shooting down, you're anticipating recoil. Shooting up, you arent controlling your recoil
Educate yourself on your state and county laws. It'll keep you from landing yourself in prison for ignorance
For those of you who have been around, feel free to add. Keep it civil and educate.
Ok, love me some dilf Joseph. Love him LOTS. But consider... single y/n friends with Suzi who's noticed how lonely you are and setting you up with equally single dilf Caesar. (WHENEVER I SEE ANYONE MAKE SUZI A WINGMAN BOI I DIE WHAT A QUEEN)
Anon oh my goodness YES. Dilf Caesar is an excellent idea anyway, but Suzi playing wingman to set you two up? I love it! You’re two of the most important people in her life— you’re her friend, and she and Caesar are practically siblings for as close as they are and as many years as they’ve known each other. When she hears you complain about shitty guys you’ve dated or been into, or tell her how you wish you could find someone who’s more mature, has their life together, isn’t afraid to settle down…. Well, she knows immediately what to do 😌
She tries to start small, suggesting that you tag along when she goes to meet up with Caesar. You’ve heard her mention him before and he sounds nice, but oh my god Suzi never told you how handsome he is ??? You arrive at some little café and there’s this stunning blonde man, gleaming smile, eyes you could get lost in, the faintest bit of scruff, and a muscular build just starting to soften into a bit of a dad bod. Suzi just smiles to herself as the two of you lock eyes and both turn a little pink. Caesar, of course, smoothly recovers, kissing your hand and introducing himself. He’s intelligent, polite, charming, and the two of you hit it off really well.
After a few months of beating around the bush, he asks you on a date. Dinner goes well, but it’s the part after that has you swooning. Going back to Caesar’s place to chat and getting to meet his daughter (babysitter Suzi apologizes sheepishly for not having her in bed yet, but the little girl excitedly chats with you for a little until her papa insists it’s bedtime.) Before she scampers off with Auntie Suzi to get into her pajamas, she beams at you, announcing, “Daddy was right, you are really pretty!” Caesar is flustered at first, but you smile and kiss him on the cheek shyly, thanking him for an amazing night. The rest is pretty much history 💕 You become part of the family seamlessly, and Caesar is quick to suggest the idea of a few more kids 😉
(Also just a little idea that I think is so soft— Caesar’s favorite flower is canonically the sunflower… so I love to think that he affectionately calls his daughter his girasole, or sunflower in Italian 🥺🌻)
I'm sorry to hear that your hard work was leaked but I was curious about what happened. I hope the person faced consequences because that was a very selfish thing to do leaking your work like that :(
I haven’t taken action against the person who leaked the book. I know who they are, since they uploaded the page I signed for them, and I was able to match that against my records.
I haven’t refrained from taking action because I feel sympathy for them. I don’t. It’s beyond shitty behavior to receive an early, signed book as a gift, and to then leak the entire book online. It’s a shit thing to do to the authors and an equally shit thing to do to other fans. However, I don’t want to put myself (and Wes) through the exhausting, grim and expensive process of legal repercussions. It doesn’t mean what this person did isn’t horrible, and it doesn’t mean they haven’t cost the entire fandom any chance of there ever being an early contest giveaway like that again. They did. There never will be. There will be no ARCs of Chain of Iron, either, and you can thank them for that, too.
Part of what makes piracy such an issue for authors goes far beyond the individual assholes who upload and distribute and translate stolen books. It’s that the whole system is set up to make it incredibly difficult for us to do anything about it. Publishers do little to nothing to prevent piracy, and authors shoulder the entire burden of searching out and reporting illegal copies of their books. And even then, we’re dependent on whether or not the reported website feels like complying with copyright laws or not. Twitter is incredibly slow to respond, Tumblr is about fifty-fifty on bothering at all. They’re legally required to take action, but they also know that the effort of doing something about it if they do not falls on exhausted, overburdened artists who often can’t afford to follow up with a lawyer’s letter.
And like, I get being broke and wanting to read books; there were a lot of books I had to pass up reading when I was broke (I will be forever grateful to the library system of New York and Brooklyn, which is how I read books at all from about 2001-2004.) I was broke enough that I slept on a bare mattress because I couldn’t afford sheets, but I’m pretty sure if I broke into Bed, Bath and Beyond and stole a bunch of fitted percale bedding I wouldn’t have encountered much sympathy if I got caught.
I talked about this on Twitter before, and I’ll say it again here though I know it will make very little difference: pirating books doesn’t just hurt the author of those books. It hurts everyone at the publishing company, where the margin of profit is razor-thin (and yes, publishers should do more to protect themselves against piracy; I agree there); it hurts bookstores, especially indie bookstores (I remember doing an event at a store that told me, sadly, that they were likely going to have to close because people “came into the store, looked at the books, took notes, then went home and pirated them.”) It hurts libraries, who rely on circulation for funding, and the shutting down of libraries hurts people who actually can’t afford books.
Now, I know is no way to talk people out of piracy; the internet has normalized it, and besides, people will generally do the cheaper, easier thing — you can’t talk people into not doing something they want to do by telling them it’s wrong, in my experience. They’ll find ways to justify it, whether it be that they can’t afford the book or it isn’t yet available in their language or that they find the author “problematic” and this is the way they’ve chosen to punish them.
The reason I put “problematic” in quotes is because yes, of course you can read and enjoy work that has problematic elements. Pretty much everything has some element that’s going to be found problematic by someone — which is exactly why deciding that it’s morally excusable to steal from people you think are creating flawed work is more than problematic. Holding creators accountable for their work means critiquing that work, not stealing it.
I listen to a lot of political podcasts, and some of them review work by extreme right-wing politicians etc. who have written books that the podcasters find morally despicable but wish to, or need to, review and discuss. Since they don’t wish to give money to the authors, they buy second-hand copies or take the book out of the library. They certainly don’t steal, translate and distribute copies of the books because they genuinely do not like them and do not want more people reading them. That’s what it looks like when you have an actual moral problem with a book or author.
However, running multiple fan accounts for a book series, naming your internet identity after characters from that book series, and talking endlessly about “your favorite parts” and how this is “your favorite book” entirely invalidates any argument that you’re doing this because you think the books are bad, evil, etc. If you claim a book is actively homophobic or racist but are so desperate to read it that you’ll steal it, so excited about it that you’ll share that stolen copy, so obsessed that you’ll illegally translate a whole book and provide that stolen translation to as many people as possible, and so dedicated to the fandom that you’ll name yourself after the characters in the books and write poetry about them, I have to tell you: the last thing that looks like is that you actually find the books problematic, regardless of what you say to the contrary. It looks like you like them but don’t want to pay for them, because in fact, that’s the case. (Either that or it looks like you’re really into racist, homophobic books, and making sure as many people read them as possible, which is your problem.)
One of the issues I have with piracy is that it teaches you to hate creators. You have to hate them, because you’re doing a fucking awful thing to them and you have to justify it. This results in lying about creators — about their process, their translations, their research — as if somehow, even if they were bad researchers, that would justify widespread theft. (It doesn’t.) Those who steal books wind up in a headspace where they are obsessed with the content of the books, and entirely unwilling to accept the reality that those books were created by a real person that they’re really harming. It encourages the mentality that I didn’t create Jem or Magnus or Will or Cordelia: they came from some kind of sparkly outerspace planet and I was just lucky enough to get to write down their adventures. It invalidates the hard work creators put into what they create, and in fact, erases their very existence. The internet attitude toward creators is already incredibly toxic (especially if they’re women, LGBT+ and/or BIPOC) and the feeling of entitlement to free content, and vicious hatred toward those who aren’t providing it (even though a lot of creators, me included, provide a great deal of free content) contributes to that. Genuinely, if you’re stealing someone’s work, the least you could do is not also be an asshole about them. (Or pretend you’re Robin Hood. He stole from the rich who had taken property and goods from the poor, and returned that stolen wealth. He didn’t steal from artists and independent bookstores and use that stealing to benefit himself and his friends. The idea is actually kind of funny.)
I understand there is a pressure to be up to date on the books that are being released so as to participate in fandom, and I do get that. Unfortunately, piracy has real consequences that stretch beyond just hurting me and Wes. Because LGBT+ books are pirated at such an incredible rate, and we’ve definitely seen that with TEC, I am left wondering if there will ever be an actual Spanish translation of TEC, or whether the publisher will decide not to bother because it’s already been so thoroughly pirated in Spanish. I have to wonder if there will even be a third book of TEC at all, or whether publishers will feel it isn’t worth doing. And I have to wonder why the people who create this situation so often have usernames that include Jem or Magnus or Alec or Cordelia or Julian or Tessa. What an incredible misunderstanding of those characters, to imagine a world in which Will Herondale or Magnus Bane or James Carstairs would approve of stealing books and harming writers. And why name yourself after a character who absolutely couldn’t stand you? I don’t know. I don’t get it, any more than I get hating someone who provided you with something you claim is your favorite book.
That was a much longer answer than you were probably expecting or hoping for, and I know I’ll get yelled at quite thoroughly for writing it. Writers always do, when we engage with the issue of piracy. I know most of you reading this acquire your books honestly; most of you are not like this at all. But like most things on the internet, a small amount of people really do have the power to make things pretty rotten for everyone else.
You cut your toe in half when you were 14? Did your parents... do anything about that? Or about any of the other wild things you apparently got up to? Or are they just as chaotic as you?
Look, if some parents are “helicopter parents,” then mine were aircraft carrier parents. They were there for support if we needed it, and we knew we could go to them for help and supplies, but mostly they stayed out of range and let us fight our own battles.
Even when we chose to get in fights with inanimate pointy objects in dark rooms.
I told them what had happened, and they were like, “Hell, that’s really dumb. Boys, stay out of Hellen’s room or we’ll let her go in your rooms.” And obviously that was threat enough.
To be honest, my parents had the dubious blessing of very sturdy children with ridiculous pain tolerances. It seems to be genetic (and it comes with an equally robust liver, which is a nice but inconveniently expensive thing to have when you hit drinking age.) My younger brother once broke his arm sledding and just...didn’t bring it up for three days. Not because he was worried about getting in trouble--my parents tended to regard stupidly-acquired injuries as their own punishment, and they’ve never been the sort to get mad about things--but because he just didn’t think it was that big of a deal.
My own pain threshold was set at age eleven, when a really shitty dentist pulled four of my teeth without properly anesthetizing me first. My face went numb two hours after the teeth came out. There are times when late is better than never, and that was NOT ONE OF THOSE TIMES. Anything less than that experience fell into the category of No Biggie, and it should be noted that even then I did not cry.
Also, relatedly, dentists are my mortal foe. All dentists. Horrible bone stealing bastards.
I swear I had a point...
Oh! Yes. My parents are just as chaotic as I am, but with the chill that comes with age. They fully support the idea that anything that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger--or at least stranger, which is just as good--and so far I’ve been pretty hard to kill.
My dad has always said that there are those who dance to the beat of a different drum...and then there’s Hellen, who tangoes to the oompah of a different bagpipe.
It’s mostly not an insult.
Dating Loki and Bartleby
(Not my gif)(Requested by anonymous)
(I’m obsessed with these men)
- I think it’s important that you meet Loki and Bartleby before the whole “messiah thing” because regardless of how handsome someone may be, the minute they start talking about being banished from heaven; or start to spout out information only high level stalkers would know, is the minute a rational adult woman runs for the hills.
- But I’m getting ahead of myself, you don’t meet Loki and Bartleby until after they’ve become invested in your life.
- It all starts with a chance encounter, or rather, a chance glance to be more exact. Bartleby spots you as he’s going about his day and while he passively notes that you’re pretty, it’s you that interests him: your life, the way you seem to think or act, the things you do, the way you treat people and the way people treat you. You may think that your life is boring and monotonous, and it may very well be, but there’s something about it that just …keeps him watching.
- Bartleby doesn’t usually “take” to people: he enjoys watching little entertaining splices of their lives but he’s never attached himself to a single story like he’s done with you.
- Initially, it’s what's currently going on in your life that has him paying particular attention to you. It might not be anything revolutionary but there is a dramatic scenario taking place; whether you’re willfully ignorant towards it or not.
- Maybe it’s a cheating partner, a sick loved one, a shitty boss, or just an overall low point in your mental health. Maybe it’s all four, mixed together like a shitty cocktail specifically designed to make your life a living hell. Either way, something is occurring and it’s nothing pleasant.
- …And yet, you never “stray from god’s path”. You have this genuine kindness that you extend towards even the most undeserving people and you don’t ever expect anything in return. You might not have a lot of faith but you’re still a good person.
- You’re an innocent soul …and god do you fucking infuriate him. Would it kill you to just stand up for yourself? Dump that douchebag, quit this shitty going nowhere job, do something. You can’t just let people walk all over you all the time!
- Him having to watch you bite your tongue for the hundredth time is what finally brings Loki into things. You say nothing as your awful boyfriend kisses your forehead with a lie about being called into work or allow your boss to demand far too much from you and Bartleby internally screams all the way home so that he can rant to the amused blond.
- The next day, Bartleby drags him out on his usual stalking session and while the blond is initially annoyed that he’s missing his Saturday morning cartoons, the minute he sees you walking down the street, he forgets all about being upset.
- You see, Bartleby falls for your story; your face is just an added bonus, but Loki, Loki falls for your looks before anything else. He lets the brunette lead him throughout the city as you go about your day, half listening to what he’s saying about you and paying more attention to the way your hips move as you walk or the way your face and hair looks in the sunlight.
- Because he’s paying so much attention to your face, he see’s the way it falls when you’re on the phone. That’s when he takes interest in what his friends been saying, asking the man who you’re talking to and listening to him explain that your boyfriend is cancelling your plans so that he can go out and fuck some other girl behind your back.
- And just like that, the two of them are equally invested in the television show that is your mortal life.
- Unbeknownst to you, you’re a major point of discussion in their lives. The more interested in you they become, the more they talk about how you deserve better, and the more they start to talk about how they are what's better.
- You know how hard it is for Loki not to murder your boyfriend once he really starts to develop feelings for you? You know how hard it is for Bartleby to not let him do it? The two of them have to physically restrain themselves from intervening every time someone wrongs you.
- They know that they can’t just pop into your life at random and start hacking away at people, and that it’s best for them to just let your life run its course as naturally as possible …but that doesn't mean that they can’t be a part of that life and subtly influence you towards the “right” decisions, right?
- Right! So it’s not wrong for them to show up to your favorite spot, start making conversation about something they know you’re passionate about and purposefully appear ambiguously gay so that you don’t pull the “I have a boyfriend” card when they ask if you want to join them for some coffee.
- And when the three of you start hanging out more, and your boyfriend disapproves, you can insist that he’s being ridiculous and an argument can arise and your newfound buddies can comfort you and start to make you see that you deserve better! Right before running a train on you with their tongues!
- Ignore that last part, it’s not important. What is important, is that you finally make the decision to dump your ex, giving them the chance to move in on you like they’ve wanted to all along.
- Congratulations my dear, you’ve earned yourself two guardian angels.
- Loki’s love language is a lot more physical than Bartleby’s so, while neither of them are particularly fond of pda, the blond is definitely more likely to grab at you while you’re out in public. Even so, both of them will wrap an arm around you, hold your hand, or place a guiding appendage on your back every now and again.
- Although pda is scarce, affection in private is not; especially when it’s coming from Loki. You’ll usually wind up cuddled up on the couch with Bartleby; either tucked under his shoulder or letting him rest his head on yours, or being tugged around by your other boyfriend; touched in any way he can think of.
- I’m sorry but Loki is going to want to grab at your boobs and ass constantly; usually with an apology and a half-assed excuse about it being “so long” since he’s been able to. Bartleby will scoff and scold him but he isn’t much better when the two of you are kissing.
- While Loki definitely show’s his love through touch, Bartleby tends to show his love through his words and actions. Affirmations, I love you’s, considerate deeds, and loving glances are all things that show you he cares without him having to have his hands all over you; not that he’s especially opposed to that.
- Kisses on the top of the head from Bartleby and pecks on the lips or cheek/corner of the mouth kisses from Loki.
- Bartleby is usually slow and deep with his kisses, taking his time and really savoring the feeling of your lips on his. Loki tends to be more fervent and feverish, either pouring all of his emotions into one kiss or being a bit more playful and teasing. While they both have differently styles, they’re equally as passionate and domineering in their own special ways.
- They find making out with you to be both enjoyable and infuriating. Wouldn’t you be frustrated if you couldn’t crank one out after a hot and heavy kiss between you and your incredibly attractive partner? They’re left high and dry every time, give em’ a little sympathy.
- Being tossed from lap to lap whenever the three of you are together. Both of them are big on cuddling so there’s never a shortage of snuggles when you’re with them.
- Usually, you’re either all piled together in bed at random or sandwiched between the two of them. Bartleby will be the big spoon and Loki will either face you and have you crushed up against his chest; head resting on his bent arm, or have your head laying on his flattened shoulder; one leg hitched over his waist while his arm falls asleep underneath you.
- But don’t be surprised if they want to be the little spoon or cuddled up into your chest; especially when you’re alone with one of them. A murderous streak doesn’t mean that they don’t like being babied from time to time!
- Princess is a big pet name in your relationship: both of them have a habit of using it, along with “angel”; though that's more of an inside joke between the two of them when you’re first getting together. Baby is Loki’s go-to and “honey” or “hon” is Bartleby’s, except for when somethings wrong or he’s being less sincere; he tends to use “sweetheart” in those moments.
- They love watching you get dressed and/or show off the outfits that you bought when you went out shopping. Seeing you all excited and gushing about something so trivial is adorable to them; and seeing your body is always a plus.
- So many hoodies to choose from. You have two boyfriends that almost exclusively wear them, you have at least half a closet full of the fucking things; and they never have the heart to complain once they see you wearing one.
- Who knew that a person marveling at and touching wings could be so erotic? But in all seriousness, anytime they catch you staring or when they first let you see/feel their wings, they were surprised to see just how much of a reaction it elicited from them. There was an overwhelming feeling of love towards you; along with pride, and they can’t even really explain why.
- As I somewhat mentioned before: Bartleby is a lot more romantic than your other boyfriend. He likes his hallmark moments so anniversaries, birthdays and reunions after you go on trips are always made special.
- He’s the one who surprises you with clean dishes or laundry and gets you flowers for no real reason at all.
- His Loki-described “anal retentive attention to detail” means that every date that he plans is almost always near perfect; if not completely perfect, and that you can never hide anything from him; even if it’s just what you want for dinner.
- And speaking of dates: Bartleby tends to go for more serious and romantic outings; like candlelit dinners or nighttime walks around the city, while Loki tends to try and make things more fun; like taking you mini-golfing or getting takeout while watching something like a pay per view wrestling match. Both think that you enjoy theirs more; it’s a point of contention in your relationship.
- Saturday morning cartoons with Loki or people watching at the airport with Bartleby. You get to choose where you want to go but they’ll probably get a little jealous or miffed if you choose the other more than them.
- Movie nights.
- Getting to fly with them at least once. They argue about who gets to do it because they know the chances of you letting them take you up in the air twice is not very high.
- You’re like 90% of Loki’s impulse control. Bartleby is somewhat nonchalant about his friends behavior and only has a problem with it when it interferes with his plans but you have a conscience so you’re the one who has to stop him from slaughtering people just for not saying bless you. He’ll get a little frustrated or disappointed but he’ll also think it’s cute that you’re “so innocent”
- Loki and you goofing off while Bartleby watches with fond exasperation. The blond definitely makes you laugh the most in your relationship.
- Them not being able to eat will not stop them from eating with you or eating whatever you cooked/baked. They’ll remind you that they can’t really eat “them” but once you mention that you can just give them to someone else, they’ll immediately insist that you don’t do that; usually before shoving one into their mouths. They’ll have to spit it out but they’ll enjoy them!
- Loki lowkey loves to prank and just overall fuck with you; like trying to “gaslight” you into believing something innocently stupid or pretending that there’s a spider somewhere nearby. Sometimes he does it just to look like “the hero” and get close to/touch you but he usually can’t keep a straight face and starts laughing; letting you know that he’s lying.
- Getting roped into helping them. They probably somewhat lie to you to get you to agree but they think of it as a necessary evil; you’re sort of their ride so you know.
- Sitting; adorably, confused when they argue and talk about their pasts. Loki will usually try to quickly explain and get you to side with him while Bartleby will join you as you’re sitting and tell you not to worry about it; making Loki drop the subject.
- Them talking about Mooby to those boardroom executives is them trying to convince you that they’re angels: like Loki takes personal offense to Bartleby forgetting some specific portion of your life that he thought was particularly endearing and worth noting.
- Okay but isn’t it reassuring to have a boyfriend who knew almost everything about you; flaws included, before you even met and still decided to pursue you? Arguably, they could have had anyone they wanted and yet, they still chose to love you.
- Bartleby always notices when something is wrong and will usually kick Loki out of the room or bring it up when the two of you are alone, letting you talk to him if you need to and providing comfort. Afterwards, the blond will be let back in or he’ll walk in on you and obliviously make some joke or bring up something so trivial and far from what you were conversing about that it makes you laugh.
- They like to think that they’re above all that jealousy crap; and oftentimes pretend like they are too, but come home from a business dinner in that one dress and bring up josh from finance and you’ll see the truth.
- Loki is all about punishing the wicked. Your ex or a stranger bothering you? He’ll kill them. Someone cut you off in traffic? That’s close enough to them trying to kill you and that’s a no go for him. Someone didn’t say bless you after you sneezed your brains out? Well he’s gonna blow their brains out.
- And when it comes to you, Bartleby will just sit by and let it happen. They can never be too sure when it comes to your fragile, mortal life.
- Loki is the one who causes most of the fights in your relationship but he’s usually too cute for you or Bartleby to stay mad at. The three of you tend to bicker but you do occasionally have a big, ugly fight.
- Depending on whose fault it is and how big the fight is, you either wait and cool off or let the problem go. Loki tends to try to worm his way back into your good graces by making you laugh while Bartleby tends to ask how you’re doing before giving a genuine, heartfelt apology.
- If the fight is your fault, they either take some time to cool off and then just pretend like nothing happened or they’ll hold a grudge (cough cough Bartleby cough cough) until you cozy up to them and apologize.
- Bartleby tends to say “I love you” more seriously than Loki does. Loki will be more nonchalant or just show you that he does while Bartleby is more romantic about it; though the brunette does give a casual “love you” as you’re saying goodbye as well.
- To put it simply: you’ve become their home. You’re the one good thing that’s come out of being cast aside by god and they’re planning on keeping you by their side for as long as they can.
What are some examples for you that, in your opinion, are the reasons Rayllum is a healthy romance while Catradora is not?
(This is not a ship hate ask question, I'm just curious since I've seen a few comparisons and I'd like to know more)
Short answer? Everything.
Long answer? Under the cut so people have an easy time scrolling past it if they want, since this isn’t quite my usual content.
And special note to CA shippers: this probably isn’t a post you’re going to enjoy, nor is my mind really open to being changed if you disagree. This is my own personal discussion and opinion, not a debate, and it holds as much or as little weight to you as you want it to. Please choose accordingly whether you want to read something that may be upsetting or if it’s better to just scroll by. Do what’s best for you.
TW: discussions of emotional & physical abuse
Let’s get into it.
Now, to get the obvious out of the way:
1) Rayllum and C*tradora do have some similarities. Rayla and Adora both have swords and immediately switch sides when they realize their original side was wrong and decide to fight for peace; Rayla and Catra can both lash out when others are trying to get them to open up; Callum and Catra both have issues with insecurities / feeling inferior. The shows also touch on similar themes such as choosing your own destiny, breaking the cycle, overcoming negative parts of your upbringing (for Rayla in particular) and more. Largely due to Shera’s ending, I don’t think it handled any of these themes particularly well, unfortunately, but I will be keeping this specifically centred on the relationships out of preference and because this meta is already long enough.
2) Children can indeed abuse other children, the same way that children can bully/torment other children. Adora and Catra had a “golden child — scapegoat” dynamic with Shadow Weaver as their “shared parental” figure (a very common dynamic for siblings). Someone can be an abuse victim and also be an abuser. Mental health and abuse are explanations, not excuses.
3) No, Catra’s abusive behaviour towards Adora cannot be explained away under the guise of “friends to enemies to lovers.” Mostly because that would mean they’re both equally enemies to one another over the course of the show, like Catra doesn’t always hit Adora where it hurts 100 times harder. Nor can the 4+ seasons worth of harm all just all be magically swept under the rug by one apology and a season where Catra treats Adora the way Bow and Glimmer have been for the entire show. Beyond the really awful stuff — physically attacking and injuring Adora (in ways Adora never returns the same way, ie. scarring her), attacking and kidnapping her friends, electrocuting Adora (s4), trying to kill Adora, tasing her, drugging Adora to use her as a weapon (remember “White Out”?) — there are also far worse emotionally abusive behaviour underneath it all. Guilt tripping, blaming Adora for everything, consistently lashing out, being angry whenever Adora does something good for herself that doesn’t also benefit Catra, wanting to isolate her, not being emotionally supportive, etc. But I’ll get more into that later. Funnily enough, the fact that an abuser was abused doesn’t tend to actually matter to their victim.
The crucial thing about Catra’s character and her relationship with Adora is that — rather than seeing Adora leaving the Horde as a moral/ethical thing (of which Catra the war criminal just doesn’t care as she becomes Hordak’s right hand woman) or even as Adora leaving an environment Catra knows is shitty (“They’ve been messing with our heads since we were kids”) — she sees it as Adora “leaving” her. She sees it as Adora choosing other people over her. And that’s been something Catra has seen as unacceptable ever since they were children, pushing/punching/scarring Adora on the face and making her cry when Adora is friendly with Lonnie and tries to convince Catra they can all be friends. It’s why she’s so angry about Adora “abandoning” her to be best friends with Bow and Glimmer, and the idea of Adora making the right choice in leaving an abusive environment and not her specifically never even crosses her mind.
The fundamental flaw in their relationship is that Catra never actually lets go of the belief that Adora abandoned her, or that Adora’s actions against her (y’know, when Catra was literally helping the Horde conquer the world and is the aggressor in every fight scene between them) were ever Justified.
[From the finale episode] C: So please, just this once — stay!
[The multiple and repeated times Adora tried to convince Catra to come with her and even said “I’m sorry for leaving” and “I won’t leave you behind again” and “Please stay, I need you”? Completely chucked in the bin, thanks for nothing - cause yeah, Catra, that certainly never stopped you from scarring or hitting Adora at any point in your life]
While watching S5 and the series through the first time I enjoyed their relationship and even shipped it (the turn around came two weeks later as the more I thought about their relationship, the less I liked it / more deeply uncomfortable I became with it), but one moment rubbed me the wrong way even the first way through it. In the penultimate episode — “Failsafe” as I’m counting the finale as one joint episode — Adora has taken the Failsafe to save Etheria. Delivering it to the Heart may kill her. However, as She Ra, she is literally the only person on the planet — which is about to end! — who can take it and not automatically die. Adora has also, already, taken the Failsafe. It can’t be removed.
C: Why do you always have to sacrifice everything for everyone else? Why are you like this? When do you get to choose? What do you want, Adora?
So despite being literally the Stupidest time Catra could have this concern — again, Adora has already taken the Failsafe, she can’t remove it, the whole world will end if someone doesn’t, and Adora is the only person on the planet where taking the Failsafe isn’t an automatic suicide mission — let’s focus on what happens afterwards, because That is what rubbed me the wrong way.
Adora has made a choice, but it doesn’t align with what Catra wants. So in the penultimate episode, and we’re supposed to believe Catra deeply loves Adora, Adora clearly states what she wants. She is scared of dying and of failing the world, she knows she’s put herself greatly at risk, and she understandably asks Catra — someone who is supposed to love her — for some goddamn emotional support.
A: Catra, please, stay. I need you.
And what does Catra do? She abandons Adora and basically says she’s a liar: “No, you don’t. You never have.” And she leaves Adora, sobbing alone in the woods, with the entire weight of the world on Adora’s shoulders. We later get more of an explanation as to why Catra left, as she states, “Adora chose Shadow Weaver, okay? Not me. Adora doesn’t want me! Not like I want her.” Catra sees Adora choosing the well being of everyone on the planet and her takeaway is, yet again, Adora choosing people over her, somehow. Even worse, part of Catra’s justification is that Adora, apparently, doesn’t romantically want her back.
Just to recap: it is the penultimate episode, the apparent girl you have “always love(d)” is about to possibly sacrifice herself and die, and asks you for emotional support. And then you abandon her because she doesn’t want other people to die and because she might not return your feelings. Are. You. Shitting. Me.
But put a pin in that, cause we’re gonna come back to it later.
But you know what, why is Adora like that? Why does she always feel like she has to protect and save everyone else, even at detriment to herself? What could have possibly made her feel like a failure at protecting her friends? Who could have blamed her for all these problems that aren’t actually hers to fix, but it feels like they are? Gee, I wonder...
C: As long as we have this sword, we have the power to make her go berserk. We can turn the Rebellion's own hero against them. That's good. [to Adora, smugly] I wonder which of your friends I'll have you annihilate first [...] Are you kidding? I've got control of Adora. I am not giving that up.
A: [quietly, seriously] You wanna know the worst that could happen? Fine. I'm the heaviest hitter, so Catra will separate me right away. Trap me, take my sword, do something so I'm helpless when she turns on you. She knows everything about me, exactly what I'll do, exactly how to take me out. [...] Catra will make me watch all of it before she finishes me off, and then everyone is gone, and the Horde wins the war, and Etheria crumbles, and it's all my fault! [knocks all the figures off the table]
C: It's always the same with you, Adora. “I have to do this. Oh, we have to do that.” Let's be honest, all of this is your fault. If you hadn't gotten captured, your sword wouldn't have opened the portal. If you hadn't gotten the sword and been the world's worst She-Ra, none of this would've happened. Admit it, Adora, the world would still be standing if you had never come through that portal in the first place. You made me this. You took everything from me. You broke the world, and it is all your fault.
A: Why are you doing this [attacking me]?
C: Because you left me! (early s1)
C: Where's Adora?
G: She...She left us. She's headed to the Heart on her own.
C: Of course she's gone! That's what she does, isn't it? (finale s5)
Because there’s nothing more romantic than basically telling someone you’ve “always” loved that the world would be a better place if they’d never been born, right? To the point where Catra basically becomes a trigger in Adora’s mind of how her dominos will fall and culminate in her losing everything she loves. To the point that Catra still acts like it’s Adora’s fault for taking the Failsafe. To the point that Catra’s ‘love’ for Adora reads almost entirely as completely selfish at basically every turn for the majority of the show.
Another moment that rang very hollow very quickly was the fight between chipped!Catra (aka brainwashed) and Adora in s5. Adora has come to rescue her after Catra made one (1) apology and sent Glimmer safely to Adora, doing one (1) good thing after season upon season of terrible thing. The show frames their face off as this big tragic fight — as most brainwashing plots tend to. The whole point of a brainwashing plotline, usually, is to have someone hurt someone they never would ordinarily. Except there is basically nothing that happens in the brainwashing fight in terms of physical harm that Catra hasn’t willingly inflicted on Adora in the past (the last time they saw each other in person, Adora was being electrocuted by ‘Catra’ — another character in disguise, but Catra gave the order for it and saw it happen, so).
[Screencaps from s5 and s1 respectively, of Catra clawing at Adora’s back; in the lower picture, she breaks through cloth and rips through skin]
Horde Prime is seen as the ultimate evil in the series because he brainwashes people and sets them on their loved ones as well as being an abuser. And Catra does the exact same thing to Adora earlier on in the show (remember that “annihilate your friends” comment?) — and even if you aren’t willing to admit that Catra abused Adora, the show makes it explicitly clear she manipulated Entrapta and flat out abused Scorpia. But Catra is redeemable because...? (Don’t even get me started on the fact that Catra is responsible for the death of Glimmer’s mother, which is a massive deal in season four, and it’s never even mentioned, once, in season five, and Catra never has to face consequences for any of it.)
That being said, I’m actually not opposed to Catra being redeemed, nor was I ever, and I always thought she’d end up with Adora. But the path they took to get there, the utter lack and regard for Adora’s feelings, are incredibly bad and very transparent. The show and showrunners tried to patch this up with statements like, “Catra knew when she left Adora to die — after Adora had saved her life and was begging for help — that Adora would survive the fall from this cliff.” Which is all well and dandy for Catra’s characterization, but does absolutely nothing to address the trauma, or at the very least negative emotions, that Adora would have from that experience.
That, combined with other prominent facets of emotional abuse in romantic relationships being
The abuser is angry with the victim for prioritizing other things (people, needs, career) over them = a lot of what I’ve pointed out above
The abuser gaslights the victim, saying the victim is to blame for their abhorrent actions (self explanatory)
The abuser seeks to isolate the victim = even Catra as a child not wanting Adora to have any other friends but her that was present at least until s5
The abuser will guilt trip and take out their rage on the victim for “leaving” them
The victim convincing themselves that if they just try hard enough, they can “fix” the abuser with their love, perpetuating the cyclical belief that the victim is really to blame for the abuse, etc. = “You’ve never given up on anything, not even on me” and again, fairly self explanatory
Which is too bad, because as a concept, C*tradora is great. Childhood best friends, raised together (take out some of the consistent resentment Catra harboured for the only person she claimed to love), pushed to be on opposite sides of a war (in which almost any chance — except for maybe two — that Catra has to ruin Adora’s life or hurt her, she takes). Then they end the war, hurray, and live happily ever after!
Anyway, now onto something far happier for me, at least, which is Rayllum.
Ah, Rayllum. A barely enemies to friends to best friends and lovers. Let’s revisit those brief similarities with C*tradora, shall we?
Rayla and Adora immediately defect and swords are involved. They have to turn against someone they love (Runaan, Catra) in order to do so. Rayla ends up aligning herself with Callum (and Ezran) as an ally rather than an antagonist. Even in the brief period she is an antagonist, Rayla quite frankly isn’t aggressive. She’s threatening, sure, and chases Callum down with swords — it’s scary, I won’t deny that — but she also immediately starts stalling.
Then, when Rayla actually does threaten him, she apologizes: “I’m sorry. I have to do this. I don’t want to, but I have to.” And she lets Callum stall her further in their ethical debate, and after he’s lied to her about his identity and run away again, and when the actual Prince Ezran has been revealed. So despite being enemies, either of them actually hurting each other willingly? Completely out of the question, except for one (1) kick Rayla gives him in 1x02.
You also have Rayla’s similarity with Catra in terms of lashing out when someone tries to get them to open up. The difference is that Catra lashes out at Adora usually because of some negative emotional response ‘Adora’ has drawn out of her. For example, feeling rejected and abandoned because Adora was friendly with one of the other cadets.
Yes, Catra is an abused child and it feels like Adora is all she has in the world, but that doesn’t make that okay or healthy. Catra very clearly wants to keep Adora to herself and rejects any other possible friendships either of them could have. And Adora is also an abused child. Catra pushes Adora, makes her scream and cry, scars her across the face, all for Adora being friendly with another kid their age and coming to see if Catra is okay.
In contrast, Rayla tends to lash out because she’s crumbling under the weight of her own failures. Callum is not connected to why she’s actually lashing out at all. This is how Rayla responds when Callum tries to be there for her after she’s discovered the death of her father figure and has been banished from her village, just like her biological parents were, all of them branded as cowards (which is the worst thing someone in her society can be).
Callum isn’t injured, he’s not crying. He isn’t made to feel responsible for any of Rayla’s emotional turmoil; if anything it’s the opposite, as she places it wholly on herself and her own feelings of inadequacy. Rayla then opens up, processes her anger and grief, Callum is able to successfully cheer her up, and the next time they’re in a similar situation of emotional turmoil, she’s grown greatly. The scene above is also generally considered (and seen, in show) as Rayla’s lowest moment in many ways. Whereas for Catra, it seems like it could honestly fit right in with being a semi weekly experience. Again, I think the screencaps 90% speak for themselves, but this was just for clarity’s sake.
Then you have Callum and Catra. Both have struggles with feeling inferior. But Catra has a tendency to blame other people around her for everything (“You made me this. You took everything from me” and “Some people have a bad day. I’ve had a bad life”) Callum sees the fault line being in himself.
The only time he ever blames Rayla for anything is in 1x06 about rushing them and causing him to forget some of their supplies — a minor thing that she then just teases him over and something he apologizes for later — and for dropping the egg of the Dragon Prince as a spur of the moment reaction. Which he then almost says was his fault later on in the season.
This is especially important, because both Rayla and Adora deeply struggle with a fear of failure and many of their actions are defined by their self sacrificial streak. But Callum never blames Rayla for things, even when he would be justified in doing so, and Catra routinely harps on Adora’s biggest insecurity as a way to cut her open when Catra isn’t blaming her outright for things. Remember that pin we put in, earlier? We’re bringing it back now.
Because Rayllum also has a fight in their penultimate episode about one of them being self sacrificial and the other disagreeing. And it goes completely differently than the one C*tradora had in a few key ways.
1) Callum does not abandon Rayla for wanting to sacrifice herself. He does the opposite, elongating the conversation and trying to get through to her that this may not be the best thing.
2) It is never, ever, Callum’s concern that Rayla is “choosing something” over him. It does not occur to him, he does not bring it up, his relationship to her — and by this point they’re actually in a romantic relationship — is seen as completely irrelevant to her levels of agency.
R: This all happened because my parents ran away, so I have to stay and protect the [sleeping] Dragon Queen. [...]
C: Really? So, that’s it? Just… goodbye? You’re going to stay here and die out of pride? Oh? You have a nicer word for it? Honour? Redemption? It’s just pride! [...] Don’t let your parents’ mistakes drag you down. I know you feel guilty, but you’re not thinking straight! Rayla, you have to let it go!
3) Later after their argument, he calmly approaches her and provides a solution that places the full agency back in her hands. Rayla then resolves to include him in the decision making process.
Again, there are similarities: “Then you don’t know me at all. You never did.” and “No, you don’t [need me]. You never have.” But again, Rayla is the one who walks away from her and Callum’s argument, which is about her risking her life. Adora and Catra’s argument is at first primarily about Catra abandoning Adora in her greatest hour of need without saying goodbye (which Catra never apologizes for or even seems ashamed of) and then Catra switches gears and makes it about Adora. She says that Adora should care about her own needs, but when Adora expresses those needs, Catra ignores them.
The one time that Adora ever thinks Catra has come back for her, she’s surprised.
On the multiple occasions Callum goes back for Rayla (or she, him), she’s almost never surprised.
Which is really just reflective, honestly, of the fact that the vow Catra makes to Adora in the finale is basically the promise/offer Rayla makes to Callum... three episodes into the whole series, the first night they met each other.
Another direct comparison is the early conversations between each pair that we’re privy to. The conversation enclosed below (the bolding are my personal additions, not to indicate actual emphasis)
C: No way. You've been promoted?
A: Well, kind of. I mean, yeah, I guess. Heh. But it's not a big deal.
C: Are you kidding? That is awesome. We're gonna see the world and conquer it. Adora, I need to blow something up.
A: Shadow Weaver says you're not coming.
C: What? My time was just as good as yours today. What is her problem with me?
A: I mean, you are kind of disrespectful.
C: Why should I respect her? She's just bitter that she doesn't have any real power that doesn't come from Hordak and everyone knows it. I guess it sure must be easy being a people pleaser like you.
A: I am not a pe-- Catra, wait. [Sighs] Look, I'm sorry. I didn't even think you wanted to be a Force Captain.
C: I don't. Here, take your stupid badge.
A: Come on, Catra. This is what I have been working for my entire life. I was hoping you could be, I don't know, happy for me.
C: Ugh, whatever. It's not like I even care. I just wanna get out of this dump at some point before I die of boredom.
Let’s look over that conversation in more detail, shall we? This is supposedly when Catra and Adora were best friends and happy. This is the “positive” background given that “justifies” Adora’s continued investment in Catra even as she does more and more terrible things. But what actually happens? Adora reveals she’s been promoted. Catra immediately makes it about them as a unit / about herself; no congratulations or anything. Catra then insults Adora for no reason other than her own bitterness and resentment (which is ironic given her comment about Shadow Weaver). Adora apologizes for being promoted and not being able to magically read Catra’s mind. Catra insults Adora’s promotion and when Adora asks if Catra can be happy for her, because “this is what [she’s] been working for [her] entire life” Catra just completely dismisses her and makes it all about herself. Again.
Below, I’m going to show one of the early disagreements between Callum and Rayla in 1x04 (roughly two days into them knowing each other). Callum said that she (as an elf) was a bloodthirsty monster in an attempt to protect her, although it still hurt Rayla. He’s relieved that they’ve made it out okay, but Rayla quick makes her displeasure known:
C: Ah, it worked. I can’t believe it.
R: I can’t believe that you’re such a jerk.
C: What? What’s wrong?
R: You called me a bloodthirsty monster. You have no idea how that feels.
C: But I don’t actually believe any of that, I was just trying to scare her. I thought she’d back down.
R: Oh that went well. They tried to kill me!
C: I’m sorry. That’s not what I meant to happen.
R: Well it did.
Rayla insults him directly for something he’s done (not a decision someone else — Shadow Weaver — has made). She’s open and honest about her feelings. Callum clarifies his own — he doesn’t see her as a monster at all — but he can recognize that even though none if it was intentional, he messed up and hurt her and put her at risk, so he apologizes. And then never does it again, worrying about her being around other humans more than Rayla does throughout the rest of the seasons (1x07, 2x04, 3x08).
Another notable difference in terms of just overall health is that unlike Catra and Adora, where Catra often slacks off in training and is then angry about being held back and Adora has actually put in all the work to earn her own accomplishments in the Horde... Rayla has something Callum desperately wants — a connection to an arcanum to do magic — that Rayla was born with and does not care about at all, and Callum never, even for a moment, resents her for it. Ever.
C: I will learn magic. It’s who I am. // When I could do magic, I finally felt like myself. I’m just trying to find my way back.
Other Important differences:
Even when Callum and Rayla are angry or upset with each other, they never use it as an excuse to mistreat each other and they never take out their anger on each other — nor are they ever angry at each other for someone else’s words or actions. Callum is upset when he finds out Rayla knew about his father being gone and that she didn’t tell him right away, but all he says is this.
Even when Rayla is mad at him for doing Dark Magic, she still worries about him, makes sure he gets out safely, lays him down gently, and tends to him while he’s sick.
Another thing I love about Rayllum — and this is my aro-specness coming out — is the irrelevance of romantic feelings. Callum likes Claudia at first in 2x02 and Rayla doesn’t like watching them flirt, but she’s never possessively jealous whatsoever or angry at Callum for pursuing something else he wants. Callum also chooses to trust Rayla over Claudia in the end. Then in 3x04, when Callum has a big speech building Rayla up after her breakdown scene, (and he does know he has feelings for her at that point), Rayla kisses him. He fumbles through explaining he wasn’t saying all of those nice things about her just so she would kiss him. Rayla is embarrassed — and covers some of it up with anger — and views it as a rejection (she also saves his life and accepts his help like, three minutes later). But even when Callum is awkward about it the next day, Rayla sets it aside and puts his comfort ahead of her own hurt feelings or awkwardness, so that he can have an easier time of things.
A: Did you have to make [Catra] so mean?
LH: The simulation is designed for total accuracy. Is the one you call Catra not mean?
A: No. She is.
C: You never did have much faith in me.
A: Can you blame me?
“Romantic” dancing versus two friends actually having a good time together
Before jumping off a cliff to follow/rescue their partner, Adora and Catra’s last interaction was Catra apologizing over a commlink and sending Glimmer to her. Before that, their last interaction was Catra brutally electrocuting her.
A: Can we skip the speech? I’m done playing your games, Catra. Too many people got hurt when you set off that portal [ie. Catra purposefully trying to end the world so Adora couldn’t ‘win’ and save it]. I hope it was worth it. Because I won’t let you hurt my friends or anyone else ever again.
When Callum leaps after Rayla, their last two previous interactions were both Rayla comforting him, taking his hand and silently asking him to be in the present with her, rather than consumed with worry in his head.
1) I have no idea what Catra and Adora admire/like about each other.
The closest I’ve got is “Hey, you were great out there” from Adora to Catra about her fighting skills when they were kids, and “You’ve never listened to anyone in your life, are you really going to start now?” (from Adora) and “You’ve never given up on anyone in your life, not even me” (from Catra). Even in seasons one and two for Rayllum, it is abundantly clear what they admire about each other.
C: I don’t get it, Rayla. Why are you so worried about a dragon that just set fire to a town?
R: I’ve been thinking about something someone once told me. About how when one person hurts another, then that person hurts them back, it becomes a cycle that never ends.
C: Who told you that?
R: You did.
R: But Callum, to break that cycle someone has to take a stand when no one else will [...] Protecting that dragon doesn’t just feel like the right thing to do, it feels like the right thing for me to do. It’s where I’m meant to be.
Don’t even get me started on season three (“He’s noble and true” “Rayla, you’re the most amazing person I’ve ever met,” “He’s smart and kind and brave and he’s—” “I’ve seen you get knocked down so many times and every single time you get up again. That’s real strength,” “I don’t think I can do it without him,” “Rayla is selfless, strong, and caring”).
2) This isn’t relevant to the discussion, but someone pointed it out once that when Shadow Weaver sacrifices herself so both of her adoptive daughters can get away, she erects a boundary to keep the monster out. Is there any particular reason she couldn’t have sealed all three of them behind the boundary and just closed the monster off in the other room? Genuinely asking.
3) Because it can be / apparently needs to be said, TDP is nice because Rayla is allowed to form healthy meaningful relationships with other characters, like Ezran, that exist completely separately from her relationship with Callum. Whereas Catra arguably gets Glimmer and all they do, more or less, is talk about Adora (again, Scorpia and Entrapta don’t count because those are abusive, unhealthy relationships).
Glimmer: Wait, are you—are you saving me?
C: Not you. Adora.
4) For TDP, they take the character with massive fears of failure and pair her with someone who continually builds her up and says that things aren’t her fault and speaks up when she’s being treated unfairly (without treating her like shit for seasons beforehand). They take the character with inferiority issues and instead of giving them resentment, makes him deeply admire his love interest while she also validates the fuck out of him. Don’t get me wrong, Callum can be insensitive and Rayla can be snarky, but they give as good as they get (an equal standing sorely missing in C*tradora in every season, whether it’s causing physical pain to each other or Adora doing way more emotional support for Catra — the person who has caused her the most emotional distress in the whole series — than the other way around). But Callum and Rayla never belittle each other. Ever. Much less in the season where they get together.
I genuinely don’t know why SPOP thought pairing up a character with deep seated inferiority issues with the person they’ve continually resented, and the character with deep seated fears of failure with the person who has continually blamed them for everything, was a good idea. Especially when, as the screencaps and quotes show, almost none of that has changed in season five. All that’s really changed in season five is that Catra has stopped attacking Adora and started helping her, doing things Adora’s friends had been doing for ages without, again, treating her like shit.
Callum and Rayla meet on a mission of convenience and chance, and although imperfect, they always choose to care about each other. Catra and Adora, meanwhile, are bound together by who and where they raised — things they never ever had a choice in, which is interesting for a series that strives against the idea of destiny so heavily.
5) Catra resents Adora for being a hero to everyone but her (ie. not focusing solely on protecting/saving Catra) and Callum admires Rayla for being a hero to everyone but him. Catra then tries to destroy Adora’s sense of self and wellbeing any chance she gets up until s5, but even then still resents her even when Adora is showing concern for her. It never, ever occurs to Catra until the season finale that Adora is someone who needs to — in the most literal sense of the word — be saved. Meanwhile, Callum knows this even before Rayla does. He knows she’s a hero, and he knows that sometimes, she’s the one who needs to be saved.
[Screencaps from 1x05 and 1x06 respectively]
[Followed by screencaps from 3x01, 3x05, and 3x09 respectively.]
As a queer afab, I find She-Ra’s portrayal of abuse in all of Catra’s relationships (the Horde trio — and even within that group, the treatment Kyle consistently receives — Scorpia, Entrapta) worrying, her “big epic romance” with Adora as “true love” most of all. Emotional abuse isn’t cute and passable just because it’s gay, with domestic partner abuse already not talked about in queer relationships, and something this messy and unhealthy being marketed in a show for small children who still like talking horses. I understand the appeal of the show and the ship — I was similarly drawn to it, for a while, for its “complexity” and “layers” — but that’s true too, of the emotionally abusive relationships I’ve been a victim of; I didn’t see them as abuse, either, until I was out or on my way.
Nor have I ever said in fiction that healthy relationships are the be all end all. People like the twisted shit. I ship some things purely for the fictional, non canon dysfunction of it all, and it’s really fun.
But, one of my favourite things about Rayllum is that they’re healthy, and supportive, and work through their problems with generally good communication. They both have trauma and issues, but they never act like those things are excuses in regards to how they treat each other (or even explanations) and you can actually buy that they’re best friends by choice.
And, in my humble opinion, are far healthier than C*tradora in every way imaginable — but that’s not exactly a hard bar to meet when the bar itself is Healthy Relationship.
little bumps in the road (pt. 5)
Parts 1, 2, 3, 4
there’s a change after lena’s little breakdown back in kansas--a paradigm shift that upends their entire dynamic seemingly overnight in ways that lena cannot even begin to comprehend.
but she can categorize them.
at the beginning of this road trip of insanity, when someone had taken a bag off her head and shoved her in a jeep with kara--kara, alive, with cropped hair and new glasses and alive--they had merely existed in the same space, because... well, lena was furious, kara was furious, and so they sat together, stewing in their anger in a confined space for hundreds and hundreds of miles.
so it had been... silence, and a whole lot of ignoring one another, when they weren’t sniping, fighting, bickering. willful, stubborn, heavy and deliberate silence. but now? now that silence is often interrupted -- not always by words, but by looks.
there’s glances, all from kara, and they say things more clearly than words ever could, and they come when lena is least prepared. it’s a look that asks her whether she’s alright--the answer to that is almost always a categorical no-- while kara is driving, or through the glass of a phone booth while she attempts yet another of her mysterious calls as lena waits outside. it’s a poorly concealed glance at a rest stop that asks whether or not she’s hungry, a side-eyed gaze that asks the silent question of what’s on your mind?
lena doesn’t know how to deal with any of it, has simply no idea how. but glances are only part of this altered dynamic, of this unexpected shift, because now there is also talking.
they talk. or well, kara talks--to lena, for lena, sometimes for no reason at all. they’re not exactly having conversations--not yet, because that still requires more than what lena’s prepared to contribute--but at least they’re not arguing, either, and that feels like a considerable step forward.
kara will talk about everything and nothing; little comments on the weather, passing observations on the scenery, but that’s not all. she’ll tell lena things--not important things, because they’re not there yet, and sometimes lena wonders if they’ll ever be-- but things nonetheless, like where they’ll be stopping next, or an interest factoid about the state they’re in (like, the location of the nation’s largest inflatable donut or something equally ridiculous).
but the most worrying of all, the thing that really throws lena off her game, that unbalances completely, is the touching.
the first time lena registers kara’s casual touches, she feels like she almost has an honest-to-god aneurysm, because the last two times that kara’s touched her happened to be when lena was in the middle of a panic attack, and it’s like her body remembers those particular circumstances. she nearly jumps out of her skin the next time she feels kara’s hand on her shoulder.
it turns out to just be kara asking whether she’s done with the sink (at a motel in nebraska, this time), and lena’s heart is still hammering in her ribcage as kara gives her one of those are you ok? looks.
over the course of a few days, lena grows used to it all--kind of, but not really, but as much as she can under the circumstances, she accepts these new little facets of her current reality.
she’s lost track of time--maybe they’ve been on the run for weeks, maybe it’s been months, who’s to say? but at every rest-stop, at every shitty motel or random attraction, kara’s there, looking, talking, and touching, and lena doesn’t feel so horribly untethered any more. she’s still terrified, confused, and generally listless, but... it’s easier to breathe, somehow.
they’re approaching the state-line between missouri and tennessee when lena dares (she hasn’t tried since... texas, maybe) to ask a question.
she’s been dotting the places they’ve passed through on a roadmap she picked up a few towns ago--some are so small they’re not even on the map--trying to make sense of the route kara has been seemingly making up as they go.
she stabs through the paper with her pencil at caruthersville, missouri, knowing they’ll cross the mississippi sooner or later.
“are we going all the way to the east coast?” she asks, mostly just voicing her thoughts aloud, not really expecting kara to give her an answer. to her surprise, kara does, barking out a little laugh.
“i mean, if we have to, sure.”
lena almost drops the pencil and the map, she turns to kara so quickly.
“why would we have to?”
kara shoots her a look, but it’s got... mirth, something that has been missing from that blue gaze since... since they had decided to be enemies. give or take.
“we’re kind of on the run, lena. in these situations, it’s imperative that we keep on running.” she quips sarcastically.
lena blinks. are they talking-talking now?
“are we running anywhere in particular?”
kara’s lips press into a thin line, and she doesn’t answer for so long lena thinks that well has run dry. but, once again, kara surprises her.
“just... away.” her eyes are glued to the road ahead. “there’s no plan, if that’s what you’re asking. at least not yet.”
kara shakes her head, sighs deeply. “not until i get in touch with some friends, at least.”
there are many follow-up questions to that, but lena settles on what is probably the worst possible choice imaginable.
“are we having a conversation right now?”
she can see kara tense a little, hears the sharper intake of her breath and regrets her words immediately; however, kara sighs once more, relaxing into her seat by degrees.
“sure. if you want to.”
lena swallows dryly, her throat tight all of a sudden. there are so many things she wants to say, so many questions, worries, so, so much to get off her chest.
“uuh,” she starts off, hoping to find the words along the way, and kara laughs a little. “what... what friends are you trying to get in touch with?”
“the usual,” kara says, looking a little wistful, and lena can tell she’s trying to keep her smile up for her sake. “mostly, i need to reach alex somehow.”
“is... is alex the one you’ve been trying to call? from the pay-phones?”
kara nods the affirmative. “we have a few codes; a system in place if we ever need to contact one another if we’re ever in trouble. she hasn’t been answering, which is a little worrying, but i’m sure she’s just waiting for the right moment.”
if we’re ever in trouble...
“did, uh... did the briefcase come from alex, too?”
“yeah. she made me memorize several coordinates across the country--said they would be useful if the fortress was ever compromised.”
which it was, lena thinks immediately. because of her.
“anyway,” kara continues, oblivious to lena’s thoughts, hands running over the steering wheel a little nervously. “i’m sure she’ll answer soon. she’s probably got too many eyes on her right now.”
lena perks up at that, brow quirked in question.
“too many eyes on her? why?”
kara seems to shrink in her seat.
“well...” she says, eyes darting like they’re looking for answers and finding none. “alex doesn’t... she doesn’t exactly know... that uh... she doesn’t know you’re with me.”
lena blinks, opens her mouth, closes it again. kara looks sheepish.
“she may be leading the manhunt for you.”
<< Previous || Next >>
Snape’s Schedule — Around 100 hours of work per week (?)
I am only sharing this, I am not the one who made the essay.
This is called Fanon vs Canon by White Hound. It discusses Snape a lot.
That’s where they calculate that Snape works around 100 hours per week for years—a little less before he was Head of House, a little more as he started to work against Voldy, gave detentions or gave Occlumency lessons to Harry.
They mostly have to round off (and even if you take fanwikia’s reports on Potions classes as the only source you can’t really know everything because Harry doesn’t say clearly what are all of his courses), but that’s pretty telling of Snape.
100 hours/week—it’s 3 times too much for a normal person.
Plus he had to
play spy to Voldemort,
teach Harry Occlumency,
watch intensely over the kids (Harry in PS and Draco in HBP mainly) when they’re in special danger,
he has his duties as a member of the Order (reports),
he patrolls the night (at least in 1st year),
he’s able to run from the dungeons to the 5th floor in around 5 minutes the moment he hears a scream like someone who’s being tortured and nobody else but him, Filch and fake!Moody come,*
and surely more.
Severus Snape is OVERWORKED and must be on the verge of exhaustion and burn-out. Of course he’s not feeling well. Of course teachers are shitty in Hogwarts, and not only is he only an example (other teachers are worse), but before complaining about his work, maybe we should wonder if complaints count when working 3 times too much is not even legal in the first place.
By the way, I’m also sharing this here, if people want to search for the exact quotes and reference (I’m particularly thinking of @potter-n-potions) but White Hound says that McGonagall forced Hermione, a cat-lover, to Vanish kittens as punishment, which equals to kill them.
Not counting how, by their words (and I think it’s during the exams at the end of PS or CoS), they transfigure mice into pincushions and pierce them with pins to check if they’ve been well transfigured or not—ie they stick pins in immobilized & half-Transfigured mice while they can still feel the pain to check if they’re responding or not.
EDIT: *apparently I was mistaken, Snape does not run up the stairs when he hears the egg since the egg fell right at the entrance of the dungeons or something.
**However, I also forgot to mention that Snape had to ensure Lupin’s Defense classes as well when he was sick from lycanthropy in PoA (+ essays he was ready to correct), AND brew Wolfsbane, a highly complicated potion (that no doubt take a long time to brew) which Snape managed to brew perfectly for every month.
Chapter Two: Until the Fabric of Time and Space Are Torn Asunder
In which you must convince a petulant - and semi-crispy - Variant Loki to do what you tell him to.
18+ only, warnings here for violence
For my beloved @nildespirandum
So I had a story all planned out here and I kind of lost it because I knew that anything I write will be in direct contradiction of the genius Loki series. So, let us all agree that since I have no goddamn idea what they've cooked up over at Disney +, that you will not read this and think, "Man, Caffiend totally fucked up this time." Okay? Please? Totally separate, no relationship, not even trying for accuracy. Thank you!
Chapter One here
Loki laughed in a very well-rehearsed, contemptuous sort of way. “Really,” he drawled, “and you think you can keep me here?” It was impossible not to admire him, even if Variant Loki was being a complete asshole.
You sighed, “That thing around your neck? It’s called, oh, so creatively, the Correction Collar. It can fry you faster than a moth in a bug zapper. You think that little tickle you got when you sassed First Secretary hurt? You can’t sleaze your way out of this one, so why not join me for lunch in the cafeteria. The food is shit and my company will be worse, but you don’t have any other pressing engagements, I imagine?”
He got that same expression of outrage on his pretty face that he’d had when Unit #372 stripped him of his clothes and threw him into the 100% polyester prisoner jumpsuit. And from the looks of things, Unit #372 had done you a solid by not including underwear.
Oh. Maybe that look of outrage from Variant Loki was because you’d been absently admiring his rather impressive cock, outlined by the shitty polyester of his jumpsuit while he’d been attempting to say something dismissive, likely something cutting to you. “To the cafeteria, shall we?” you inquired pleasantly.
“This pitiful charade does not-”
“Oh,” you add, looking over your shoulder, “do not call the Time Keepers ‘space lizards’ anymore. That just added 26,000 years onto your sentence.”
He joined you in the elevator, watching the dented silver doors close slowly. Oh, so slowly. And the longer you looked at them, the more slowly they would close. “That woman, the one who attempted to incinerate me-”
“First Secretary,” you interrupted, “do not call her ‘that woman,’ either.”
“She already sentenced me to a lifetime of servitude,” Variant Loki blustered, “so the absurd addition of twenty-six thousand years-”
“Precisely!” you agreed, “So don’t get any more time tacked on, you nitwit.”
“She’s right, ya know,” chimed in the pleasant, ersatz Southern tones of Miss Minutes, “it’ll all be better if you just-” You smiled slightly as the doors finally slid shut, cutting off the last of the cheery bitch’s speech.
You could feel his assessing stare as the elevator moved sideways. "How long have you been here?" Loki demanded.
"Oh, you know..." you shrugged, "time moves differently here at the TVA." Nine hundred and seventy-three years, thirty-two days, sixteen hours and twelve seconds, you added silently.
The cafeteria was everything you’d promised, bleak and redolent of the lifeless scent of tuna casserole. At least, that’s what you’d named it because it was the closest thing you could think of. “Grab a tray,” you sighed, taking two juice boxes and plopping one on his. “And if you complain about the food, they’ll give you a double serving, so just nod and smile.”
“This preposterous ordering about by you and the rest of these TVA cretins has brought me the last of my pat-” The triple helping of the greyish-tan casserole was so heavy that it nearly knocked the platter from Variant Loki’s hands.
You mimed closing your mouth and locking it, then handing your new prisoner a fork as he strained to lift his tray from the serving area. Blessedly, he shut up.
There was a pleasant silence at the little table - after you’d brought over another folding chair, which shrieked as you dragged it across the floor like a dying puma and made everyone else look up from the sludge on their plates. The quiet moment ended when Variant Loki held up the juice box, which looked hilariously tiny in his giant hand. Like his equipment below, you thought briefly, but appreciatively.
“What is this?” he sneered, pinching it between his thumb and forefinger like a dirty diaper.
“The Prince of Asgard, Rightful King of Jotunheim never had a juice box?” you chuckled, sticking the little straw into yours and taking a loud slurp, “We don’t have any mead, or ale or whatever that alcoholic swill was that you drank before. Get used to it.”
He groaned elaborately, stretching his neck above his grim electronic collar. “I have seen the pageantry of your preposterous court and sentencing. I have been dragged through tedious eons of footage from my exploits - which really, should have exonerated me - but you have yet to explain, Agent Tumult,” Variant Loki sneered, “exactly what you expect me to do.”
Pushing away your casserole, which was developing a skin of some kind as it cooled, you held on to your pleasant smile. He would get no other reaction, particularly because you knew it was infuriating him. “While I am quite sympathetic with your desire to escape from the Revengers- wait, that sounds wrong-” you consulted your paperwork, “the Avengers, your method could not have been more disastrous. Using the Tesseract? You violated the Sacred Timeline. No, you soiled it. You threw it into a pile of horse manure and stomped on it. And now-” you checked your paperwork again, “-as of 1600 hours there are 3,076 alternate timelines sprouting off from your irresponsible actions. These will continue to multiply until the fabric of time and space are torn asunder and the Universe will implode taking with it billions of lives. And not just this timeline, kitten. Very likely, all the other timelines we track here at the TVA. Your actions are already sprouting variants in established timelines as well. You see the problem here.” You sucked loudly on your straw again, trying to get that last bit of juice and enjoying his flinch.
“I hardly see how I can be held responsible,” Variant Loki started defending himself as you tuned out.
Okay, you thought, I’m just going to call him Loki because this Variant Loki stuff is annoying as shit.
Waiting until his diatribe slowed down - which took three hours and thirty-seven minutes - you leaned forward. “You caused this mess, Loki. But here’s the good part. You are uniquely qualified to fix it. I believe that your participation is critical, in fact. So unless you wanted to fold in half and implode like the rest of us, I suggest you get creative.”
It was almost a clean getaway.
You were going to take Loki and a couple of people you could actually tolerate from the TVA Police Department and just… pop in to one of the alternate timelines of lesser impact. Maybe put out a couple of fires, clean it up and move to the next one after giving your new charge a little confidence - not that this arrogant, beautiful bastard needed any - and prove to First Secretary that this wasn’t the worst fucking idea ever.
And of course, the speaker located right at ear level gave a vicious round of feedback just as you passed it. Nice timing, you bitch, you thought, pushing your hand against your ear to stop the ringing.
“Agent Tumult,” report to the First Secretary’s office.”
Leaving Loki in the non-tender hands of Dressbot #936, you moved down the hall, enjoying the strident tones of his protest as he was stripped down again. Knocking on her door, you schooled your features into quiet seriousness at her soft, “Enter.”
“First Secretary,” you intone, head tilted into something that could almost be construed as deference.
She was leaning back in her big leather chair, her lovely features stern as she examined you. “How’s the arm?”
“Just fine, First Secretary, right as rain.”
Her eyes fell to where you held it against your ribs, cradling it. “I see. And your decision to take the Prisoner LV-78773 out of the TVA Garrison?”
She had not invited you to sit, so you forced yourself to not move. “This mess is of his creation. Yes, Variant Loki is a god with an impressive criminal background, but I believe his quickness, intelligence and limited use of his seidr will help us stop this alteration of the Sacred Timeline more quickly than we can do alone. He’s experienced several of these alternate timelines himself, and-”
“You know, Tumult, that he is not to be trusted.” First Secretary leaned forward, hands folded. “Despite some spectacular blunders, you are a diligent TVA agent. You need to be clear on something. This is your last chance. Should you fail, you will be stripped of your rank, of your duty, and your weapons.” She watched you press your lips together into a thin line. “Do you understand, Agent Tumult?”
“Perfectly,” you gritted out, nodded politely and left her office.
Meeting Loki after his abrupt wardrobe change, you caught him watching you, eyes keen as he examined you. Maybe I haven’t exuded the quiet confidence I was going for after that visit with First Secretary, you thought regretfully.
He was straightening the beige jacket, worn over an equally bleak-looking taupe necktie and shirt, mud-colored rayon pants and as he caught your thorough up and down stare, he smirked, flipping up his collar and straightening it. “Proof,” he sniffed, “that even these rags look acceptable when donned by a god.”
“Uh-huh,” you made a neutral sort of noise. “Just try not to get them wet. The chafing is unbearable.”
Okay, maybe that one was mean-spirited because when you stepped through the TVA Western Division Portal #K-719, it was pouring down rain. His lovely, long black hair was plastered to his face in moments.
"I know this place," Loki snarled, "a benighted, backwater speck of a city. Why are we here?"
“Then you remember this is where you attempted to trick the indigenous culture into believing you were their god,” you reminded him, looking back to check on the two TVA Police officers you’d brought along. They were both eyeing Loki the way one would examine an egg salad left out too long in the sun.
“I am a god,” scoffed Loki, feeling around his neck and finding only the hideous mud brown tie and not the Correction Collar.
“Yeah, but you’re not their god,” you corrected, “and you attempted 4,621 cultural advancement processes in less than 72 hours. So we’re here to walk in to that same bar, have a drink, and you’re going to avoid any of your fancy seidr, you’re going to pay for your drink and leave without so much as a fucking card trick. Oh,” you leaned in ominously, “you will also return the Particle Energy Stone that you stole from them and which without the entire planet will crack like an egg in exactly-” you checked your watch, “-exactly forty-seven days, three hours, twenty-seven minutes and eleven seconds.”
“That’s preposterous!” scoffed Loki, “And I don’t have the insignificant rock any longer.”
Rolling your eyes so far back that you were pretty sure they were scraping your cerebellum, you answered, “Yes, you do. Hidden away in one of your little pockets of null space that you collect like a magpie. Our scan detected the particles on you. So you will walk in there, replace the stone, have your drink and we’ll depart.” You were a tall woman, but you moved up the steps so the two of you were eye to eye. “And if you fuck with me, or attempt to deviate from this plan in any way, I will re-activate your Correction Collar and you can fry like that duck-looking thing on the grill in there. Extra crispy. Are we clear, Variant?”
"Completely," he sniffed. Loki flipped up the collar of his soggy jacket and strode masterfully into the cantina, head high as befits One Burdened With Glorious Purpose.
Officer Redress leaned over your shoulder. “You know he’s going to cut and run at the first opportunity, correct?”
You liked Redress, she was one of the least asshole-ish people at the TVA and also, she could snap you like a pretzel stick should she ever be in the mood. “He’s going to try.” Your fingers were already twiddling with your long, silver bracelet, running the silver links between your fingers with a soothing little chime. “Let’s get this over with.”
It was a medium-sized room, maybe forty or so of the local constituency enjoying a night out and attempting to get drunk enough to forget their grinding, day-to-day reality for a while. Most were rough, farmer-looking folk with a few sleazy-looking grifter types, here to steal these people blind or collect a bounty for some crime or another.
The bar was the only interesting item of note, a long flow of some kind of glowing wood you didn’t recognize. It was dirty and scratched, but the lovely carving around the edges still told some story of adventure and heroism, studded here and there with small chips of colorful stones.
Loki had actually done as he was told, ordering a drink from the bar and deferring away the eager queries from the locals. You two were the most exotic thing to hit this territory in eons, and even your severe black suit was receiving “ooohs,” and “aaahs.” Of course, this suit was an Akarian Bindlespin, woven from the silkiest and most delicate of Bindlewool. Even Loki had surreptitiously fingered the cuff of your sleeve quickly while standing in the lunch line to see if it was a knockoff.
The two officers with the shock sticks stayed outside, stoically ignoring the rain.
“Is this your friend, Variant Sir?” The bartender was already sliding something across the bar to you in a dirty glass, but you raised it politely with a nod.
“You told them your name was Variant?” you chuckled to Loki, who was standing stiffly with drink in hand and looking like he might be in actual physical agony in his effort to appear pleasant and unthreatening.
“It’s on my uniform,” he not quite snarled, “you told me to appear casual and unmemorable. The name of Loki is known throughout the galaxy and beyond, and is-”
“Did you say yer name was Loki?” It was more of a growl than human speech, and the gigantic fucker standing up and lumbering across the bar definitely looked more like a water buffalo than a man. “Oh, there’s a bounty on yew, fancypants! I’m gonna collect sixteen million-”
One mission, you thought, just one goddamn mission without something fucking up. You turned to incapacitate the guy who really was looking more like a musk ox up close, but Loki beat you to it, sending him sailing in a majestic arc across the room and smashing into the tidy pyramid of liquor bottles.
“We don’t have time for a bar fight, you asshole!” you shouted, grabbing a chair and smashing it into the faces of two of musk ox’s buddies who were coming at Loki, knives in hand.
He casually flicked away the enraged bartender and three of the locals, one who’d started firing his gun. You stepped in front of the bullets, not because you were fond of Loki but you really needed this idiot to clean up his messes. Your Akarian Bindlespin suit might have been delicate and light, but the fluffy Bindles also spun a yarn that was bulletproof, fire-proof, likely even blast-proof, though fortunately you hadn’t been required to test that yet. And of course, your prisoner rewarded your protection by nipping over to the entrance of the cantina through the knots of fighting, thrashing locals and waving mockingly at you as he blinked away into a cloud of green smoke.
“Amateur,” you sneered, and twisted your wrist, sending out the shimmering silver of your bracelet into a whip, hurtling into the smoke and dragging a stunned Loki back out, hogtied in silver linking. Holding up your other hand, you flicked a band of metal around your middle finger that activated his invisible collar, sending him into a series of violent convulsions and then, quickly unconscious.
The two TVA cops are already wading into the mess, briskly using their shock sticks until the entire bar was down on the dirty floor, groaning. Officer Redress opened her mouth and you sighed, “I know. I know! Let’s hit the reset button and try this again.”
This time, you stepped out of TVA Western Division Portal #K-719 and kicked open the doors of the bar and strode through the crowd, dragging an unconscious and soaking wet Loki behind you. The bastard was heavy, those Jotunns were must be made up of granite bones and lead blood, because he was really straining your good shoulder. Hauling him up onto a stool and letting his head drop with a thump on the smudged bar, you chuckled heartily. “My partner here can’t handle his booze! Can you set me up with your finest, uh,” you scanned the bottle pyramid behind the bartender for something that wouldn’t poison you, “uh, that purple thing? And a cup of coffee for my friend, the hottest you’ve got.”
Halfway through the drink that you were pretty sure was 50% used motor oil, Loki regained consciousness. “By the Nornir,” he managed, “one day I shall-”
You shoved the mug of coffee over to him, splashing a bit on the perfect skin of his hand and enjoying his yelp. Just a bit. “Do the job and we’re leaving,” you hissed into his ear, smiling for the benefit of the amused bartender.
His eyes, green as the forest and alight like the fires of Hel, stayed focused on yours as he produced the Particle Energy Stone - a tarnished bronze color - and gently clicked it into place in the ornamental carving on the bar.
Alerting mutuals I thought might be interested, please let me know if you’d on or off this this. Thank you as always for reading…