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#those prawns were SO GOOD
yihooniall · 12 days ago
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megan’s tonight to celebrate niall’s birthday (and ours a bit too) soo delicious ! 6/5 would recommend !
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aiweirdness · 4 months ago
New Disney villains
Earlier I tried an experiment where I tried to get the GPT-3 neural nets, trained on a huge collection of internet text, to generate new Disney princesses. From just two example wiki entries, I got incorrect reimaginings of existing princesses (Snow White apparently has a magic wand, a fake shoe, and a stolen chicken), and brand new princesses (Banks Afloat, pirate of a swamp in a suburb of Buffalo). The princesses were, in general, extremely powerful. So for balance I decided to see what the villains would look like.
I summarized Disney Wiki articles for Ursula (occupation: sea witch) and Scar (occupation: lion), then asked GPT-3 to fill in the next entries.
DaVinci, by far the largest of the GPT-3 variants, tended to complete the list with real Disney villains, but do it somewhat incorrectly. Apparently Gaston is now a chef.
Name: Jafar Occupation: Ruler of Agrabah Powers and abilities: Ordinary magic, Killing by staring, Induce Fear into others, Shrinking (and later restoring people to normal size) Likes: Evil, snakes, power, being high and mighty, getting rid of meddling fools, starting fights, manipulating others, treasure, exploiting blind trust, parading around in his cool suit, smooth jazz, winning, looking at himself in the mirror Dislikes: Willful insubordination, lamp oil (although his men practically bathe in the stuff), being taken for a fool, that song "A Whole New World", magic carpet rides, shady deals that go sour, not getting proper respect
Name: Cruella De Vil Occupation: High-class fashion designer Powers and abilities: Ordinary witchcraft Likes: Red, black, white, length-changing, scary things/concepts, classical paintings, dogs, white animals, money, cruelty/cruelty against kindness/animals, dingo-didi-dango, Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, not getting proper respect, brief moments of calm, Johnny Cash, her car (the black Cadillac) Dislikes: Any kind of dog, snakes, rabbits, bad publicity, good publicity, common or poor people in general, feeling unnoticed, hearing her own name, poor sales, Chihuahuas, spinach, playing the clarinet, Dr. Facilier, being double-crossed, losing to the heroes, having a cold, tight clothes, the sound "eeh-eeh!", her accountant
Name: Gaston Occupation: Chef Powers and abilities: Utter confidence, presence, charm Likes: Acceptance, feeling dashing and irresistible, being respected, apple turnovers, wooing ladies, Lillian, making and eating food, fame, lavishing praise on himself Dislikes: Insults, being ignored, being used like a tool, people who disagree with his ideas
On the other end of the GPT-3 size spectrum we have Ada, who completed the list of Disney villains not with existing villains but with its own original characters. Some of them are quite powerful indeed. I do have questions about some of their abilities though.
Name: Cowhell Occupation: Ice Dragon, Bleaths and Dinchyshire Powers and abilities: Second-hand telepathy, magic resistance, control over unknown monsters, and magic control (for high enchantment) Likes: Power, water vapors, fun, flying, cheerleading, thlynde, eatin eels Dislikes: Red wine, sunbathing, fairies, excessive negative thoughts, fighting, crazy gladiators, having to dress strictly in sasquatch fashions
Name: Another Advertisement: Personality: One of OsFreeNs Giants? Powers (best): Dry swimming, Breakthrough, Healing, some form of phoenix fly-speedy or a/the flying material or a/the magic element Dislikes: Solids with bad Prawn factor, Fishn in cages, anger and constant noise in the room
Name: Glaucous (Captain) Dislikes: Methinks those cows will go fast enough regardless of this poor storm! Paraphernalia: Large voids, severed heads, eyeball beast Likes: "Combat" (including using his magic remotely), toying with more obscure topics, asking complicated questions, judging people by their actions (except the rational type), so much time with his children, brag-good and evil characters
Name: McGilling / Maridly (Meredith) Occupation: Hersey mermaid Powers and abilities: Missimension, super strength (albeit in the form of the Moon), healing, survival of the fittest nature, how to be an attribute of water Dislikes: Power plant, those who mess with her due to her powerful mermaid magic (and inner strength), the rule of Mrs. Fairfax, power/control over water
Name: Kal Occupation: Nunchuck. Paraphernalia: Infusion of Mud, Large, Small Cumulus Needle, Additional Cape (designed by Ursula), Hood (as she is a witch), Cloak (as an elf), Glasses (as an elf), Semblance Powered by Cakes Dislikes: Hiders, plants
Name: Hildave Occupation: Lady Python Powers and abilities: Terraforming, turning others children into lizards, healing, conversation, age bending, telepathy Likes: Her clothes, other people, talking, age bending, eating, talking, animals Dislikes: Narcissist, having enemies, talking bad of others
Name: Unicorn Occupation: Unknown Powers and abilities: Another personality, can transform into a variety of different species, transport and carry airbags (union van). A practical genius, investigator extraordinaire, and gifted poolroom rapper. Dislikes: Losing one's purse, judges, corrupt corporations, depravity, cruelty, anonymity, aggression, TV, exhaustion, work reduction, dinosaurs, anything that goes the opposite direction
If you detect a slight sea-witch theme, I don’t think it’s a coincidence. Unsure whether Ursula and Scar were two random villains or part of a trend, the characters on average seemed to split the difference and come up with characters who were animals (preferably sea animals) with witchy powers. This was the most evident in the middle-sized GPT-3 variants, Curie and Babbage, who seemed to be big enough to detect a trend, yet not big enough to be accurate about existing villains. Become an AI Weirdness supporter for bonus results from Curie and Babbage - or become a free subscriber to get new AI Weirdness posts in your mailbox.
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midnightstarlightwrites · 4 months ago
I’m Not A Damsel, But Cuddle Me Anyway.
Marinette burst out onto the balcony, absolutely fuming.
It had rained earlier that evening and all the outdoor furniture was wet. That coupled with the fact that it was a cold, early spring night made it so that the rest of the party goers were avoiding it.
She hoped he wouldn’t follow her. He’d been bugging her all night.
The Badeaux Party was a yearly function, something to celebrate the up-and-coming as well as the established people in the fashion industry. Although Marinette had been ecstatic to get her first ever invite, she was apprehensive about meeting all her idols. This industry, as much as she loved it, had its downsides. Judgment and gossip were catnip to these people.
So when a fellow upstart fashion designer kept repeatedly hitting on her, even going as far as to say, “what your boyfriend doesn’t know, won’t hurt him,” she couldn’t sock him straight in the jaw like she wanted to. Or shove one of the delicious prawns up his nose. Or pour a flute of champagne over his lap. Or any of the other hundreds of ways she’d imagined sending him away Ladybug-style.
No. She had to behave herself.
Making waves at the party was a bad idea, but that didn’t mean she was going to let this guy get away with it. The industry, as it currently stood, was getting a lot better at keeping creeps out and Pierre Durand (the guy hitting on her) was way too new to the industry to have the kind of clout a creep might need to survive any accusations.
And Alya was an expert at both journalism and twitter. No doubt the guy would experience his comeuppance.
Shivering due to the cold, Marinette sighed and stepped closer to the edge of the balcony. Out here, away from the crowd, it was easier to calm herself down. Pulling out her phone, she went to text Adrien once more. She wished he was here for moral support, and to hold her back from the aforementioned punches. He was so much more practiced at the fake smiles and the way to talk to people in that uniquely fashion-like way that said one thing whilst implying another. Marinette still had a lot to learn.
But Adrien wasn’t in attendance, despite being invited personally and not as a plus one to Marinette. No, he was stuck over in London at an astronomy conference. It was one of those rare moments the stars aligned (his pun not Marinette’s) in bad ways which tore them from each other. Usually when important events popped up at the same time, they could forego at least one of them. But not this time. They were equally as important.
Marinette: Ugh! It’s freezing out here. But luckily it's away from the creepo.
Marinette: How’s everything over there? You being all professor-y?
Frowning, Marinette saw that her messages weren’t going through. Perhaps the conference hall Adrien was in had a bad signal. Even so, her heart felt heavy and she sighed, leaning against the balcony railing.
It had been such a lovely evening too! She’d made connections, she was dressed in a gown she was particularly proud of. Everyone had given her compliments- even the current head of Chanel! But as the night had dwindled, and the dancing dispersed, that’s when the creep had descended.
Glancing at the clock on her phone, she realised that now was actually a decent enough time to leave without causing a huge stir. The party was nearing its natural end already. She’d been invited to a few after parties but those weren’t AS important as the connections she’d made that night already. She could afford to skip those.
So making a vow to turn in for the night, she turned on her heels-
And almost jumped out of her skin when she saw Chat Noir standing behind her.
“Wha- what are you doing here?” she whisper-shouted, clutching a palm to her chest. After the initial shock abated, she took him in. The infinite galaxy of his astro-cat suit twinkled at her and her eyes widened. “Did you fly from your conference?”
“I did! Can never say no to a damsel in distress,” Chat grinned, approaching her with a bow. With a green flash, he was back to being Adrien, standing in a full-blown tux as if he’d always been in attendance with her.
“It was his idea not mine,” Plagg replied, already stuffing himself with cheese. Tikki was asleep in Marinette’s bag, else she might have had something to say about the matter.
Marinette rolled her eyes, even as her heart fluttered. She leaned against the edge of the balcony. “I am a damsel. I’m not in distress though. I handle creeps all the time, it’s just now I can’t break this one without getting a reputation. Blegh.”
“Super blegh,” Adrien agreed, resting beside her on the balcony too. There was silence for a moment as they looked back at the lights coming from inside the party. As if sensing her building sense of guilt, he continued, “For what it’s worth, the conference ended and when I was going back to the hotel I suddenly got a bunch of your messages all at once. So I figured why not pop over instead? Also you said in one text that they had good prawns.” Adrien leaned down, casually pecking her on the lips. “You look beautiful by the way.”
“Thanks,” Marinette sighed, leaning into his embrace. 
“What do you need?” Adrien asked, stepping around her and blocking the view of the party. He wrapped his arms around her and she willingly let him pull her towards his chest. “I’ve always known you can handle yourself. But yeah this crowd can be something else. I made my fair share of blunders over the years, but I always had a layer of protection that you don’t. So, if you do need anything, let me know.”
Marinette sighed, closing her eyes and snuggling closer, Adrien’s scent flooded her senses- that warm wooded scent mixed with the smell of their shared apartment. He smelled like comfort, like love, and his embrace was always a balm, soothing the burning emotions from before. “This is fine actually.”
Adrien rubbed an arm up and down her back. “This? Cuddles?” he dropped his voice and octave and spoke in that silly way that always made her giggle.
“Cuddles,” Marinette nodded against him.
“We can cuddle for as long as you like, My Lady,” Adrien confirmed and Marinette felt the soft press of his lips against her hair.
Marinette decided to hold him to that and, when it finally grew too cold to stay, he transformed back into Chat Noir and took them home.
Cuddling all night was a better after party than she could have ever hoped for.
For @adrinetteapril day 29: Cuddles
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tastesoftamriel · 2 months ago
Hello again, Talviel! Today I come to you with not a logistical question, but simply;
What are the best "food on a stick, cooked over an open fire" dishes you've come across in your travels? It's one of my favorite ways to eat, so I'd love to hear about some interesting new things I could try!
Radiant regards,
Rowan Redmane
Dear Rowan,
Luckily for you, there is quite an array of foods on sticks across Tamriel, as everyone enjoys the portability of skewer snacks (also good for  impaling skeevers when you're done). These are few of my favourites!
While eating with your hands is generally frowned upon in Summerset, sticking your food onto a skewer is a good way to avoid greasing your fingers while still maintaining that carefully crafted air of casual dining. However, there aren't particularly any fire/stick dishes that really stand out in Altmeri cuisine compared to the other races, as it's really not the preferred dining format. I really love a type of sweet, cherry blossom-infused chilled rice cake that's stuffed with creamy centres with flavours like black sesame, almonds, and red bean paste. It's a delicious dessert on the go, but it is very chewy, so try not to run while eating...
If there's one race that's a master of the skewer, it's definitely the Argonians. From frog legs to seafood and stuffed flowers, nothing beats a good barbecue in Black Marsh. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by a witchetty grub and cricket skewer I had in Lilmoth recently, which were cooked over a coal grill after a good marinade in chili paste. The insects were seasoned with a delicious mix of local spices, and packed the right amount of crunch while still being tender and flavourful.
Skewers in Valenwood are generally made from metal or bone, as dead wood makes for brittle sticks. I am slightly obsessed with the goat meat satay from Marbruk, which packs loads of flavour from local seasonings like torchbug treacle sauce and pork scratching salt. The meat is perfectly charred on the outside, juicy inside, and very flavourful.
The Bretons make one of my favourite childhood desserts: doughnuts on sticks. I'm not talking about those grotesque, giant things with holes in them when I say doughnuts- these are small round beauties that are sometimes stuffed with things like chocolate or jam before deep frying. They're then dusted with cinnamon sugar, and stacked six per stick. So simple, but so delightfully fluffy!
Since the Argonians made the list with bugs on sticks, I'm going to try something a little same-same-but-different for the Dark Elves. I personally really enjoy kwama egg bites, which are bits of boiled kwama egg that's dipped into a nix-hound meat batter and cooked in a pan until crisp. They're usually drizzled with saltrice vinegar, a bit of melted scuttle, and topped with crispy hackle-lo nori.
Coastal Cyrodiil is home to some of the best seafood in all of Tamriel, and it invariably got put on sticks. I really love a plain old seafood skewer with the freshest king prawns, swordfish, scallops, and squid. What sets it apart, though, is the final dressing of a spicy-sweet lemon barbecue sauce and a dash of smoked powdered deer penis for flavour. What? It's traditional 3E Cyrodiilic cuisine!
Elsweyr is one of my favourite places to eat, because every meal from finger-foods to opulent banquets are always perfectly balanced perfection. I'm a huge fan of the fresh, hot egg waffles that come on sticks with a gooey moon sugar syrup dip. The waffles are bubble-shaped, with a crispy exterior and a fluffy, sweet centre. While I love my Breton doughnuts, Khajiiti egg waffles are a very close second.
Everyone knows about the honey nut treat, but nobody pays attention to poor old fried rabbit meatballs these days! Seasoned rabbit mince is shaped into small balls and skewered, before being fried in lard until golden brown on the outside. It doesn't sound like much, but visit The Bee and Barb for a taste of this true Skyrim snack (even more authentic with a snowberry dipping sauce)!
Were you expecting me to say meat, or radishes? Surprise, it's both! At a recent visit to Dushnikh Yal, they'd just broken out the previous year's durzog-and-echatere sausage, which we cooked on sticks over a fire along with radishes and sweet potatoes. I could have said "grilled pears on sticks for dessert", which we did indeed have, but where's the excitement in that unless someone's pear catches fire?
No, I'm not going to suggest goat again. Instead, I'm going to rave about the amazing king crab and mantis shrimp skewers I had in Stros M'Kai recently, which were grilled over a coconut-coal fire, giving the seafood a truly delightful aroma. The seafood was cooked in their shells on sharp metal skewers, and came with a coriander and calamansi lime salsa for dipping. Truly mouthwatering stuff.
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mlleclaudine · 5 months ago
In 2015, Nadiya Hussain’s life changed completely after she won the sixth series of The Great British Bake Off. She remains the most popular winner in the show’s history. “I mean, how do you even measure that?” she says, from her home in Milton Keynes. “That makes me feel weird and awkward, because we’re all just doing what we love.” Now 36, she has presented several cooking and travel shows and has written cookbooks, children’s books and a novel. She also baked the Queen an orange drizzle cake for her 90th birthday celebrations.
You must still have been at school 20 years ago. I was 16, so I’d just left high school. Big year. I was studying for my GCSEs. Oh, man, that seems such a long time ago.
What was your favourite subject? Food studies. I still have my project. I will share it with the world one day. I had to design my own cake, design its packaging, design how I would market it, what supermarket it would go in, and all of that. That is my idea of heaven. My little brother was about six at the time, and he was my guinea pig, so he would tell me if the cake was right, and if he liked the packaging, and all of that.
What was the cake like? I made a small four-inch round cake, like a party cake, for an individual. It was red and white marbled, and it was sandwiched with jam, butter cream, and then had another layer of marble cake. My theme was Pokémon. I still have a limited edition Pokémon card, a shiny one. I nicked it off my brother and stuck it in my book. He still doesn’t know.
He might find out now. If it’s worth anything, I might have to give him some of the proceeds. But I made a Pokémon cake with a Pokéball on top that I designed with fondant.
Was cooking a big part of your life when you were 16? Baking was only part of my life when I was at school. I never baked at home. My mum’s a bit of a dictator in the kitchen, she doesn’t like anybody being in there. You can watch and learn, but she doesn’t really let you do anything, and even when you do something, it’s never right. Even now, way before lockdown, when we used to go over, I’d say: “Mum, can I help you?” And she’s like: “No, I don’t like the way you cut onions.” No problem, Mum. It doesn’t matter that I cook for a living. Fine! I cooked more with my dad because he was quite experimental and quite creative.
What were you eating 20 years ago? This is the stuff that we tell our kids and they hate us for it. We lived around the corner from a gorgeous little corner shop, one that sold everything, bowls and pots and pans and toilet roll and sweets, and if your washing machine broke, you could go to the back and use his washing machine. I hated breakfast, but I would get up really early, go down to the corner shop with my little sister, and buy this twin pack of Mr. Kipling’s apple pies, and the Happy Shopper swiss rolls, the ones with the cream that stuck to the roof of your mouth because it was so artificial, with a sugary crust on the outside. We would slice up the swiss roll for everyone else, but me and my sister would eat the apple pies before they woke up. And at school, we would have chips every day. This is the bit my kids hate. They’re like, what? Did you guys have any salad? No! No salad. It was always chips, beans, mash, beans, rice, beans, either with fish fingers, a burger or pizza. And then you always had cake and you always had custard. Tottenham cake, that soft sponge with really thin watery icing, with sprinkles that just start to bleed into the icing, with congealed lumpy custard. That was it. That put me off custard for the rest of my life.
Do you think there’s been a big shift in what kids eat at school? It’s changed so much. My kids aren’t fussy eaters. They’ll eat anything, but they’ve grown up in a home of spice, there are a lot of layered flavours in what they eat. So, for them, it’s a bit of a shock when there’s no seasoning and no flavour, as such. When my eldest was in his last year of primary school, he got on the school council, just to change the food. He petitioned to put garlic salt on the table, hot sauce, black pepper and lemon juice. And their school still has those things as condiments on the table. So I understand why it’s changed. But you know, we don’t have to lose flavour just because we’ve taken away chips and beans and fried food.
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How much do you think Britain’s relationship with food has changed since 2001? Is it very different now? Yes. In the past six years, I’ve travelled quite a lot, and in terms of food, we are so diverse here in the UK. You could go to Borough Market, go to one place, and eat out of different corners of the world in one strip of food court. For me, that suggests that we are open to eating different foods. I’ve never been anywhere that’s as diverse as the UK. I lived in Leeds for eight years, and you go up to the food courts, you couldgo from Vietnam, to fish and chips, to Indian, to Thai, Chinese, Italian, all in one food court. There’s a new Peruvian barbecue place there, apparently. There are very few places in the world where you can do that. Immigration has a massive part to play in the food we eat. For me, that’s a really big thing, because as a daughter of an immigrant, it was really important for me to know we’ve made our mark in the food industry, and that’s something we should celebrate.
You won Bake Off six years ago. How easy do you find it to reflect on that time? It changed the course of my life. And the truth is, I didn’t go in with the intention of coming out of it with a career. I had and still have anxiety, and I really struggled with it. The only reason I did it was because my husband said: “I think you should do this.” Do the biggest baking show in the country to get rid of your anxiety? How does that make any sense? So I never did it for that reason. But it made me realise that there’s more to me than just being a mum and being a wife and being very good at laundry [laughs]. I think somewhere in between, I’d forgotten what I loved, and what I enjoyed and what made me who I am. It allowed me to be a part of an industry I didn’t think I would ever be a part of, which I never dreamed of being a part of. Six years later, it’s one of the reasons I keep going, because of the importance of doing the job that I do, to represent these minority communities.
What is the most delicious thing you’ve eaten in the last 20 years? I know it sounds fancy, but I was filming in LA, and there was this taco truck. By then I’d already eaten about a million tacos, so I thought it was just going to be another taco, but oh my goodness. This was like a taco that was filled with spicy prawns, and then the man holds it down, pushes it into the oil, then he fiercely fries it and you get this crispy taco shell with these just-cooked prawns inside. And then he covers it in this Mexican hot sauce from a bottle, and green salsa and onions and coriander. It was the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten. We went back four times.
What have been the best and worst things about cooking in a pandemic? The best is being able to sit down and have dinner together. Honestly, it’s like herding cats in my house. We make much more effort to have dinner together, which is really nice. But because this is my job and I have to cook for my family, the worst is the amount of onions I’ve had to chop in the last year. Shocking. So now I get the kids to do all the onions. I’m not doing it any more.
What do you think the next 20 years will bring for you? There was something Mary Berry said to my husband when she saw him at an event. She always recognises him and she always says hello, and always remembers his name, which I think is really sweet, and says a lot about a person. She said, I don’t keep up with you young folk and do all of the social media stuff, but I always keep an eye on Nadiya and make sure I know what she’s up to. Mary said to Abdal: “I hope she gets to do this job for as long as I’ve been doing it.” I mean, if that’s not a blessing, I don’t know what is.
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buckyssoldat · 5 months ago
Another love (Loki x Reader)
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Summary: She wants to love her new partner, but her heart has been broken too many times.
Word count: 1643
Requested: No
Warnings: mentions of death and suicide, depression, heartbreak, sadness, kinda happy ending
A/N: I can’t stop writing sad stuff lmao. This was based on Tom Odell’s song and music video, ‘Another love’. Hope everyone likes this!! Also, please check my series, ‘Forsaken – The Fallen Soldier’.
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Almost five years had passed since her relationship with Loki abruptly ended. The first year was rough, depression had taken over her mind and she couldn’t seem to be able to be happy. But everything apparently changed when she met Harry, a nice and kind men who brought out the best in her again. For the first few months, their relationship was absolutely perfect until it wasn’t anymore. She tried her best, she really did, but those depressive thoughts started to invade her mind once again. Memories of her past with Loki were constantly being replayed on her brain, the good and the bad ones. Harry tried his best to help her. He loved her with all his heart, and it broke him to see her like that.
She was sitting in her couch, a cup of hot tea resting between her hands. She had a cold look on her face, as if she was stuck in a trance. Harry caught her in that state and tried to lift up her mood by hugging her and caressing her hands, but she still had the same cold look plastered on her face. He called her name countless times, but she never answered. After what it felt like hours, Harry decided to give up and just leave her alone. Meanwhile, inside her mind, a happy memory with Loki was being remembered – the first time they met each other.
 Ever since she had joined the Avengers, she had grown close to everyone in the team, especially the God of Thunder, Thor. His goofy sense of humour attracter her to him like a magnet. Thor was also really fond of her, often confiding in her what troubled his mind. Since they were so close, Thor invited her to go with him to an Asgardian ball, so she could meet his family. She was reluctant at first but ended up accepting the offer. Jane was attending the ball too, and that meant she wasn’t gonna be the only person from Earth there, which eased her a bit.
As soon as they arrived there, Frigga, Thor’s mother, welcomed them with a warm hug, and also offered to help them get ready for the ball. Frigga gave her a beautiful black dress that went all the way to her feet.
When they entered the ballroom, Odin announced that an Asgardian tradition was gonna happen in just a few minutes and that everyone needed a pair to dance. This made her extremely nervous – besides being a bad dancer, she knew she didn’t have anyone to share this tradition with. The only people she knew were Thor and Jane, and they were obviously gonna dance together. She was making her way to one of the doors when someone tapped on her shoulder.
“Would you have this dance with me, my lady?” A man with black hair and sparkling blue eyes. She knew it was Loki, Thor’s brother. The God of Thunder warned her that Loki was a trickster, so she had to be careful around him.
She was ready to reject him, but there was something about him that made her heart beat faster, so she just nodded. Loki gently grabbed her right hand and led her to the middle of the ballroom, where the dance was happening. Thor noticed his brother and his best friend together, which confused him. When events like these happened, Loki would usually be around for the first hour, and then excuse himself to his chambers. And he had never seen him dance with anyone, so he was wondering why he would take an interest on her.
Loki was on his way to his chambers when he noticed the most beautiful being he had ever seen. She looked flawless, but nervous at the same time. He didn’t know how, but it was like his body was leading him to her and the next thing he knew, he was asking her to dance with him.
 The days passed and she remained in the same state, the cold look never left her face. Harry still did his best to cheer her up, but it seemed like nothing he did was enough. Tired of seeing her like that, he prepared a romantic dinner on his apartment, hoping to bring her old self back. She flashed him a small smile as soon as she saw the candles in the middle of the table, along with two plates filled with creamy prawn linguine. But her look changed once she saw the red roses bouquet he had gotten for her, as memories of her first date with Loki emerged on her mind.
 Her and Loki spent all their time together when she was in Asgard, getting to know each other, and inevitably, falling in love. He had asked her to meet him outside her room as soon as the clock hit midnight. She immediately agreed, thinking he was gonna show her something interesting about Asgard. It was partially true, but he was also gonna kiss her for the first time that night.
Loki took her to a secluded area in Asgard, the top of a mountain, where they could watch the stars together. They sat close to each other, silently observing the breath-taking night sky. He put his right hand on top of her left really slow, afraid that she was gonna reject his affection. But she didn’t reject him. Instead, she intertwined their fingers together, making him smile. Out of nowhere, Loki got up and walked a few steps away, only to come back with a single red rose on his hand that he had picked.
“For you, my dear…” he whispered as he handed her the rose, “A beautiful person like yourself deserves the most beautiful flower.”
She lost control of herself and grabbed him by his shirt, finally closing the gap between their lips. Both were over the moon as they kissed, feeling like they had found true love.
 After eating dinner, Harry asked her if she wanted to spend the night at his apartment, which she politely declined. This was what finally broke Harry – he was tired of trying and trying and trying and failing every single time. At first, his voice was in a low tone, but then, he started screaming at her, accusing her of not caring about him. That wasn’t true, he was the alive person she cared most in the whole world, but that wasn’t enough. While he screamed at her, she maintained the same cold look on her face, not showing any emotion at her. Oh, but how much she wanted to love him and to cry for him, but all her tears had been used up. She couldn’t cry anymore, not after what happened to Loki.
 She had lost count of how many times Thanos and his lackeys tortured her and Thor, trying to get Loki to give him the Tesseract. Half of the Asgardians were dead, the Hulk was defeated, and Thanos had just killed Heimdall. All hope was lost. The Mad Giant had won, Loki gave him the Tesseract. He couldn’t bear seeing the love of his life and his brother get tortured anymore. As the God of Mischief falsely pled allegiance to Thanos, she noticed the knife hidden behind his back. She tried to scream and beg him not to do that, but her mouth was shut tight with a piece of metal wrapped around her head, courtesy of Ebony Maw. As much as she had faith in Loki, she knew he couldn’t defeat Thanos. Unfortunately, she was right. Thanos made her watch as he choked Loki to death. The titan was smirking at her, happy that he was making her watch her lover die. Loki used his last words to whisper her name. She screamed and cried in pain as she watched the life being drained from him. The only person she had ever loved had just died in front of her.
 For months after Loki’s death, she wished she had died before the Guardians of the Galaxy had found her, but due to her powers, she was able to be alive, even in outer space without any oxygen.
Days passed since their last fight, but Harry still wanted to work things out. She finally tried to make an effort too, inviting him over to her apartment so they could talk. After both apologizing, he asked her if they could dance, just like they had done on their first date. She went through her phone, trying to find the perfect romantic song to play, but every single one of them reminded her of Loki, and Loki only. She wanted to have the perfect love song with Harry, but she had already sung all of them to another heart.
After that whole debacle, she apologized to Harry before she quickly left her own apartment. She heard him scream her name as she ran down the stairs, but that didn’t stop her. Harry didn’t deserve any of that. He was amazing and deserved someone who could love him as much as he loved her, and she could never be that person.
Running down the streets without a clear destination on her mind, she found herself on top of one of the city bridges. This was it – she was finally gonna meet Loki again, she was finally gonna be happy again. As she got closer to the edge, she felt someone gently tap her shoulder. Thinking it was just a bystander, she tried to ignore them, but they tapped her again. She took a deep breath and got ready to tell that person to leave her alone. When she turned around and saw who it was tapping her shoulder, it was as if her heart stopped beating. There he was, beautiful as ever, with the same old smirk on his face.
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yespolkadotkitty · 6 months ago
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Masterlist ~ Chapter 17
BEAUTIFUL art by @heatherbel - thankyou!
Thankyou to my Zach squad, @sarahjkl82-blog @astroboots @disgruntledspacedad @knittingqueen13 & @alienprincesspoop
Words: 1,850 ~ Warnings: Prejudice against homelessness, confrontation
A/N THANK YOU EVERYONE who has read, commented and reblogged! Over the 26,000 word mark for this fic now! <3
I took the bus to meet Aisha and Emma - it would make me a little less late. Squeezing on between a tall, skinny guy in a tank top - it’s January, dude, wear a sweater! - and two girls whispering over something on their phones, I checked my own messages.
AISHA: Where are you? Did you change your mind about Ben? DID YOU?
EMMA: I’m trying to get her to stop texting you, but she’s stronger than me.
I laughed, tapped out a quick reply that I was now only two blocks away. I wished I could text Zach.
But even if I could - what would I say?
I miss you. I wish I’d stayed in tonight.
Please be there when I get home.
Of course I had no control over the outcome, but I hoped with every fibre of my being that he’d be on the couch, sleeping, reading, eating - I didn’t care what. 
Just be there.
The bus trundled on. I pulled up Facebook.
MARTHA: Hey Ben. I really am sorry about earlier. Zach’s a…. He can be prickly around strangers.
To my surprise, he replied almost instantly.
BEN: That’s okay.
BEN: Are you two .. A thing?
I read that line over and over, chewing on what to say. In the end, I settled on honesty. There was no reason to lie to Ben; he seemed a lovely guy, handsome, too, but he didn’t spark fire in my blood the way Zach did.
The way he had since I’d first met him.
MARTHA: I hope so.
BEN: Well then, I hope he enjoys croissant apple turnovers as much as you. :)
The bus pulled up a hundred feet from Aisha’s favourite xiaolongbao place. I’d tried the soup dumplings all over LA, but these were some of the very best. Emma wasn’t the biggest fan of them, but she did have a weakness for sweet and sour chicken, and that was good here, too.
I slid my phone back in my pocket and swung through the glass door, spying Aisha and Emma immediately, drinking jasmine tea and poring over the menus.
The server led me over and I asked for some tea for myself.
Aisha stood up to hug me and Emma followed suit.
My tea arrived and we all ordered food - I’d eaten here so many times that I knew the menu almost off by heart.
“Tell us everything,” Aisha began. “No detail is too small.”
“There really isn’t anything-”
“No. Detail. Is. Too. Small.”
I sipped my tea and eyed Emma. “I am so sorry.”
She shrugged. “Aisha is a decent pre-dinner floorshow.”
I snorted as a basket of prawn crackers arrived. After I thanked the waiter and he ghosted away, Aisha leaned over the table. “Well? Come on, this is my kid-free time. Give me the juice.”
“You’re lucky I really like you. The date - well, it wasn’t even a date - was fine. We like a lot of different things. He isn’t into food, for example.”
“Any food?” Emma asked.
“Well, he doesn’t like baked goods. So far.”
Both Aisha and Emma made oy faces.
“Exactly.” I bit into a prawn cracker. They were warm and greasy and perfect. “He wasn’t even excited by the croissant apple turnovers.”
Both girls shook their heads sadly. “Oh no,” Aisha breathed. “I think I would have preferred socks and sandals.”
“They’re equal crimes,” Emma weighed in, taking a cracker for herself.
“But, I do have some news. I sort of.. Met someone. Else.”
Aisha’s eyebrows shot into her hairline. “The guy from the park?”
“Uh huh,” Emma prompted. “I wanna hear about this guy in the park.”
The waiter arrived with rice and sweet and sour chicken for Emma, and crab meat xiaolongbao for Aisha and I, with a side dish of “stinky” tofu with pickled cabbage and garlic-chilli sauce. We dug in.
After a few mouthfuls of the dumpling soup, I laid out the story of Zach and I for Aisha and Emma; starting at the beginning because only Aisha knew about the night Zach had saved me.
These women were, after all, my closest friends and, aside from my Mom and Ahma, the women in my life I felt most comfortable around.
They listened without interrupting. I left out the couch-wrestling and kissing. I wanted to keep my intimate moments with Zach just for me; private memories I could treasure and hide from the sun, to stop them fading.
“So in summary,” Aisha said when I finished and attacked my dumplings again, “You’re in love with him, but he’s locked up like fort knox.”
“I didn’t say I loved him.”
“Oh sweetie, you didn’t have to.”
I chewed over this. Do I love him? 
I didn’t know him well enough for love. It hadn’t been long enough.
“I want to know him more,” I settled on. “But yeah. He’s.. impenetrable.” I toyed with the last dumpling, worrying it between my chopsticks. The thin skin shone under the restaurant lights, illuminating scallions under the smooth surface. “I just hope he’ll be there when I get home.”
Emma squeezed my hand. “I hope so, too.”
Poppy had a face like thunder when Emma, Alisha and I arrived, but refused to talk about it. We ordered drinks, and Aisha gamely started to wax lyrical about The Time Traveller’s Wife. Aleksandra played us the trailer of the film adaptation starring Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana. I’d enjoyed it, but for me, the total absence of the character Kimmy, who is vital to Henry’s rehab after losing his legs, turned it into a bit of a different story - not worse, but a big diversion from the book. Kimmy reminded me of my Mom - no nonsense, tiny Asian woman who could knock the wind out of you with a few choice words.
Poppy said hardly anything as we drank and chatted.
“What’s the matter?” Hanna finally asked, tapping Poppy’s elbow.
She shrugged, ran a hand over her face to bring herself out of the funk. “Just work.”
I stirred the straw in my chai latte. “Do you want to talk about it?”
Poppy leaned back in her chair. “I managed to score some amazing ad space in town, and it was a bargain. Now I know why and my boss is furious with me. I signed up for it without expressly getting her consent.”
The other girls made sympathetic noises. Hanna asked; “What’s wrong with it?”
Poppy lent her head back against the wall of our booth. “It’s an advert for luxury condos but homeless people are always hanging out under it. Not exactly great advertising.” Her nose wrinkled.
I tensed.
“Well, what does your boss think the solution is?” Hanna asked, always the voice of calm and diplomacy in our group.
Poppy drank her mojito miserably. “He told me yesterday I should go and move them on myself. Lay down spiky turf or something. Pretty sure he was joking,” she groaned. I noticed dark circles under her eyes, but it was really tough for me to feel sympathy for her when I knew Zach had spent potentially years trying to find any shelter possible.
“Where else are they meant to go?” I asked, realising too late my tone was more aggressive than Poppy deserved.
Her gaze cut to mine. “Somewhere else,” she said flatly. “You want me to lose my job?”
The tension around our table thickened.
“Look,” I finally suggested, “I bet it won’t come to that. You said yourself when we first met that you won an award for a magazine ad - you’re good at what you do. Can’t you contact the supplier and negotiate a further discount? They kind of mis-sold it to you.”
“They did,” Aleksandra agreed. She hated confrontation and jumped on this bandwagon immediately. “You should contact them.”
“I left them a message,” Poppy groused. “God. I’m fucked. I should just go downtown and start shooing those hobos away.”
“To where?” I asked, trying not to let anger boil over in my belly. Next to me, Emma squeezed my thigh. “They’re people with feelings. You can’t just shoo them away as if they were flies on your cake.”
“Even if the cake is my career?” Poppy asked softly.
I stood up so fast my chair creaked. “You know what - I have to go.”
I didn’t even say anything to Aisha. I should have, but I had to get out of there before I said or did something I’d regret.
I was disgusted with Poppy - but moreover I was disgusted with myself. How many times had people around me discussed the many homeless people in LA and how many times had I just stayed out of the conversation because it didn’t affect me; because I had no experience of it?
Tonight I was going to talk to Zach and find out about his life. What he needed and the ways I could really help him.
I reached my door and scrabbled in my bag before I remembered that I’d given Zach my key. I hesitated. If he’d left, he’d have found a way to tell me, right? A guy like Zach wouldn’t lock me out of my own apartment..
Feeling like an idiot, I knocked on my own door.
Mercifully, two heartbeats later it swung open. Zach smiled at me. “Hey.”
He opened the door and I walked in. God, I could get used to coming home to him. He smelled freshly showered, his hair curling and damp. He hadn’t shaved, I was so pleased to see.
The scent of cooking hung in the apartment, pleasantly. I took off my boots, setting them next to his. Even that was nice; novel. Homey.
“What’d you make?”
He shoved his hands in his pockets, almost bashful. “Just some noodles with the chicken in your fridge - hope that’s okay.”
“That absolutely is okay.”
We stood just feet apart from each other, awkward. I longed to touch him, but I didn’t know what he would and wouldn’t accept.
Fuck. I’d created this new gulf between us by going out, hadn’t I?
“How was bookclub?”
“It was nice. Thanks.” I missed you, I nearly said, but bit the words back. The argument with Poppy weighed heavily on my tongue, but I stayed the story. He didn’t need to know. He lived that shit every day.
“Oh - the cat lady was in the laundry room. The cat watches the drier like it’s TV.”
We both laughed, softly.
“I’m glad you stayed,” I whispered.
“I am, too.”
We looked at each other stupidly for another few moments before I unbuttoned my coat. “Um, wanna watch some Netflix? Brooklyn 99 is my Saturday night go-to.”
“Oh man, I love that show!” Zach enthused. “You, ah, want some tea?”
“Love some,” I replied, and he moved to the cupboard like it was the most natural thing in the world to make us both tea before sitting down to watch a show together.
And I wondered, as I studied his broad back and the hair curling at the nape of his neck, how long this beautiful dream could last.
@chattychell @tardisfangurl @kindablackenedsuperhero @sketchy-britt @poenariuniverse @the-ginger-hedge-witch @hopeamarsu @buttercup--bee @yoohoo307 @wowtory @vonschweetz @absurdthirst @wheresarizona @mouthymandalorian @pedro4ever @slutforfics @zaniasky @fangirl-of-randomness @the-feckless-wonder @badassbaker @missredherring @idreamofboobear @88dragon06 @dornish-queen @weirdowithnobeardo @ourmotherofyearning @booknerdswiftie @skvatnavle @jazzelsaur @thegreenkid @miulola @thirstworldproblemss @chicken-nugget-puta @myoxisbroken @ennuiandthebourgeoisie @oceaninfourhours @pascal-rascal424 @ladygrey03 @lunaserenade @songsformonkeys @pedro-pastel @confusednerd09 @wigwitch @f0rever15elf @havenforafrazzledmind @skdubbs @autumnleaves1991-blog
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write-like-wright · 8 days ago have to do attorney exes now, you realize! those prosecutor ones were so good!! 🥺💖 ..please, of course!
Thank you anon, I'm glad you liked them 💖 Sorry for the delay, I've been busy.
Being their ex: Ace Attorney defense lawyers edition
Phoenix Wright
Phoenix would probably handle it more maturely than the rest of the gang
He's hurt, but he acknowledges it's the best for the both of you
He wouldn't try to avoid you and he's perfectly civil
Maybe even a bit friendlier than you'd expect him to be
Feenie has a good support system and many shoulders to cry on, he'd be fine
You miss his 30 adopted kids and they miss you
You take Trucy, Athena and Apollo out for ice cream every once in a while
Every time you read his latest weird courtroom exploit in the newspaper, you get a warm, fuzzy feeling in your stomach
"Local Lawyer Proves Reincarnation is Possible, Wins Trial" and you're just like *sighs* "That's my Feenie"
He will keep everything you ever gave him, even if it's something dorky
Mia Fey
Similarly to Phoenix, I think Mia would handle the breakup well
She's been through a lot in her relatively short life and she knows how to deal with heartbreak
Some old abandonment trauma may resurface
Buries herself in her work
Always has a smile on her face when talking to you
Diego Armando/Godot
Already covered in the prosecutors list
To sum up - has a ton of exes, kinda flirty still, you have a complicated relationship with coffee now and you definitely get back together at some point for better or for worse
He's thotty, I don't blame you
Apollo Justice
Our poor short king can have no peace and stability, can he?
HE'S FINE!!!!!!!!!!!
The Chords of Steel training almost doubles
His confidence takes a pretty big hit regardless of whether the split was amicable or not
Finds comfort in his kitty and dorky media
Buys extra papers just to read different funnies every morning
Workes extra hard for a while to keep himself busy
Wright Anything Agency toilet is absolutely spotless and Trucy's show is spectacular as a result
Secretly listens to the Gavinners greatest love ballads compilation album
He tries to be friendly but it comes across as incredibly awkward
Moves across the world to be with his adopted brother #43
Athena Cykes
She senses something is wrong long before you have "the talk"
Knows your heart is not fully into it anymore maybe even before you do
That probably hurts more than the breakup itself
Widget broaches the subject before either one of you do
She's heartbroken both for herself and for you since she can feel your pain
Spends so much time in the gym trying to sweat out the sadness
Watches a lot of trashy romance movies with Trucy and Apollo
Simon Blackquill hates you
She's so nice to you it almost breaks your heart
Kristoph Gavin
Honey, you're better off without him, trust me
You realise there's more to life than trying to meet someone's impossible standards
You miss your manicure sessions and probably judge your future lovers' hands a bit too harshly from that point onwards
When you read he's in jail you can't even pretend you're surprised
Ryunosuke Naruhodo
He cries
So does Susato
And Iris
Sholmes is confused
Poor Ryu doesn't know how to act anymore
His eyes are popping out of his head whenever he's around you
Kazuma wants to kick your ass
So does Susato
And Iris
He has a good, albeit temperamental, support system
Shops away the pain
Hates to admit it, but nothing helps him like Sholmes' Shenanigans TM
Stares at his aquarium for hours, especially at the prawn Iris named after you
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wiypt-writes · 8 months ago
Riding On
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Ch21: Her Hooves Set The Beat, My Heart Sang The Song
Summary: There’s a feel good factor at the Gallagher-Adler’s as Alex hits another milestone, but their happy little bubble his shattered with some bad news at the stables, and Fliss is forced to say a heart-breaking goodbye…
Warnings: Bad language, 18+, animal death.
Pairing: Frank Adler x OFC Fliss Gallagher
A/N: So, for those of you who don’t know, Heidi was actually real. She was my beloved horse of a lifetime who I lost in July 2018 to complications associated with old age. At 28 I she had a good life, and for the 20 years I had her she gave me everything. Writing this brought back a lot of memories and was quite therapeutic in a way, but if anyone wants to skip over it for fear of being triggered, I won’t be offended.
Disclaimer: This is a pure work of fiction and classified as 18+. Please respect this and do not read if you are underage. I do not own any characters in this series bar Fliss Gallagher and the other OCs. By reading beyond this point you understand and accept the terms of this disclaimer.
Riding On Masterlist // Main Masterlist
Chapter 20
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 April 2020
“Go away!” Mary laughed, pushing Fliss’ arm as she tried to peek over at what she was writing on the piece of card upon which she’d been designing the Wedding Invitations.  “You can see when I’m done!”
Fliss chuckled and backed away, hands raised, palms up.
“Okay, okay.” She walked backwards a few steps before she turned and her eyes fell on Alex who was in his pack and play loudly banging some coloured blocks together. He looked up at her and gave a huge smile before he shuffled a little to the edge of his pen and reached up, curling his hands onto the sides. As Fliss watched, he tried to pull himself up into a standing position but only got so far before he landed on his butt, and waved his arms and legs shouting something in, what Frank called Bean-Babble. Fliss grinned and moved to pick him up.
“Not quite mastered that yet have you, baby?” She smiled, kissing his cheek.
Alex let out another loud squeal of contentment as he perched on her hip and she made her way over to the kitchen area. There, she settled him in his high chair and headed into the fridge to grab him an apple. Since he had started eating solids it had fast become apparent that he was particularly partial to the fruit, something Frank directly attributed to the fact that Fliss had eaten so many of them when she was pregnant thanks to her craving. Fliss carefully chopped the fruit into large pieces before she placed them down on the tray of his chair, kissing his soft hair again as Alex grabbed a slice in his hand and promptly jabbed it in his mouth, making appreciative noises.
Happy that he was content, Fliss then turned her attention to their dinner. She soon had the base of the cream and garlic sauce for the seafood linguini simmering nicely in the pan so she then turned her attention to shelling and de-veining the fresh, king prawns Frank had brought home the night before, along with chopping up the squid and cleaning the mussels before she turned her head and looked over to the table across the large family room.
“Mary, do you want mussels in yours?”
 “No, they taste like snot.” Came the simple response.
“You know what snot tastes like?” Fliss pulled a face. “Gross.”
Mary didn’t reply, her hand was busy scribbling on the paper. Fliss shrugged and placed some of the sauce into a separate pan before she dropped some of the seafood through to cook, before pulling a cod and mash potato puree out for Alex for his dinner. Whilst that was in the microwave, she tossed Mary’s sauce through some of the pasta, before sprinkling over a little bit of parmesan and setting it down on the breakfast bar.
“Mary, dinner.”
Mary hopped down from the table and made her way over to the counter. With a thanks to Fliss she tucked in as Fliss smiled and sat next to her, feeding Alex.
“What time is Dad home?” Mary asked.
“I’m actually expecting him any time now.” Fliss glanced at the clock. “He has no meetings tonight so he shouldn’t be too long. Did you want him for something? I can call him.”
“No, I was just curious.” Mary swallowed her mouthful of food. “Do you mind if I don’t ride tonight?”
 “No, of course not.” Fliss gave Alex another spoonful of his dinner before she turned to Mary. “Is everything ok, Stack? It’s not like you to pass up an opportunity to ride.”
“Well, I thought I could spend some time with Frank.” She shrugged. “I haven’t seen him properly this week.”
“I’m sure he’d appreciate that.” Fliss smiled, giving Alex more food.
 “Just figured if you’re at the stables and Alex is in bed, it’ll just be the two of us. No offense.”
“None taken.” Fliss chuckled, as Mary grinned and continued to eat. And she meant it. Over the past two weeks or so, Frank and Alan’s son had decided to expand a little and as such had been meeting with potential new suppliers, often working until later in the night, something Fliss knew was hard on him because it meant his time with the kids had really been limited to a quick hour over breakfast, the morning school and crèche drop offs and weekends. Fliss had assured him that the kids were fine, she was fine, and reminded him that he was doing this for the family, for their future but it didn’t stop him feeling guilty.
It was kind of ironic, when she thought about it. As she’d been expecting to feel the same guilt after going back to work full time but as she was self-employed, she’d been able to work her time-table quite well around the kids. She’d taken on another stable hand to help with the day to day chores leaving her free to teach more freelance in the area and school horses when they came to her for training. Joanne was now taking the group lessons completely, having passed her final teaching exams earlier that year, and Alex had settled really well into his day care, going two days a week to the centre round the corner from Mary’s school which had come recommended by Bonnie’s sister. The other two days a week Verity (and nine times outta ten Bill) came look after him or take him out, meaning on those days Fliss worked later- scheduling in evening lessons for clients as Verity would sort the kids dinner before Frank got home, and then on Friday, Fliss did her paperwork so Alex stayed with her . It was busy, and often required military planning as to who was picking which child up and when, but they worked it well, and Fliss had been very surprised at how easily they had picked it all up.
They continued chatting, and just as Mary had polished off her desert, Thor gave a little woof and padded to the back door as it opened and they heard Frank giving his usual jokey greeting.
“The boss is home.”
“Yeah I know, she made dinner.” Mary shot back and Fliss laughed, giving her a hi-five.
Frank walked into the main room and smiled at them both, giving Fliss a quick kiss before he ruffled Mary’s hair as she shoved him away, rolling her eyes, jumping off the stool to escape him.
“Good day?” He asked, and Fliss nodded.
“Yeah, not bad. You?”
“Busy, but productive. We got the final Price Lists negotiated so…” he trailed off, nodding to Alex who was smiling at him. “Looks like he enjoyed dinner.”
“So did Mary.” Fliss mused, nodding to the empty place on the side. “She ate a full dish of linguini and a massive piece of Mum’s chocolate cake. Think she’s going through another growth spurt.”
“Great, more clothes to buy.”
Fliss chuckled as she fed Alex the last of his peach and apple puree before she reached for a baby wipe and scrubbed his face and hands clean, much to the baby’s annoyance. She stood up to clear away his dish, leaving the spoon in Alex’s hand as he was busy banging it against the tray of his chair. Frank sat down on the stool she’d vacated, kissing Alex’s head. .
“Hey, Pal. Meet any hot girls today at crèche?” He asked. Alex shrieked in response, banging the spoon harder and Frank nodded. “Oh really? Well, you play it cool and she’ll be putty in your hands.”
“Like I was in yours?” Fliss asked, turning to face him and Frank grinned as he settled on the stool.
“Think we both know it was the other way round.”
“Don’t you forget it.” She smirked a little.
“Like I’d have a chance.” Frank winked at her and Fliss smiled.
“Do you want your dinner now or-“
“Oh, can I show you the invitation first?” Mary suddenly piped up from across the room and Fliss nodded.
She jumped off the table at the chair and approached them, placing the card on the breakfast bar in front of Frank. Fliss stood behind Frank, her hands sliding round his shoulders as she kissed his cheek, both of them glancing down at the design Mary had come up with. 
The front was a simple square piece of card. Across the top Mary had cut letters out of a magazine to spell out the words “WE’RE GETTING MARRIED” and underneath it she’d stuck a copy of a photo of the four of them which had clearly been taken at Bill and Verity’s a few weeks ago. Mary and Alex were both looking at the camera, whereas Frank and Fliss were both laughing as they looked at each other as Frank held Alex, the baby’s back to his chest, supporting under his butt with one arm, the other held across his front.
“Where did you get that?” Frank asked, grinning as he looked at it.
“Poppa Bill.” Mary looked at him. “He said it was like the five thousandth attempt at trying to get us all to look at the camera.”
“That was Frank’s fault.” Fliss laughed, “He kept nipping my ass.”
Frank shrugged, before Fliss spotted one of his arms snaking backwards, blatantly intending on doing the same and she slapped his hand, making him give a dirty chuckle as he pulled it away.
“Turn it over!” Mary urged. Frank obliged and they both smiled instantly at the back. It was written in Mary’s untidy writing, in bright multi-coloured felt tip.
“Oh Mary, this is just what I wanted!” Fliss grinned. “For it to look bright and unique.”
“You haven’t read it yet.” She looked up at Fliss rolling her eyes, but before she could comment Frank started to laugh as he had and his chuckles continued as Fliss read the words out-loud.
“Mary and Alex Adler would like to invite you to their Mom and Dad’s wedding.” Fliss took a deep breath at the word, looking at Mary who gave her a small smile. Whilst Mary had referred to Fliss when talking to other people as her mom, she’d never actually used the word directly to Fliss yet. But, now wasn’t the time to dig into that. Fliss cleared her throat and read on “Frank and Fliss met at the stables. Frank was smitten, Fliss was too. But they were too dumb to admit it straight away. And then Frank took her sailing (not driving) on a speedboat. They kissed, made a baby and now it’s time for a party. (And a wedding too).”
Fliss burst out laughing, as Frank tried to gain enough control to read the final bit at the bottom, which was situated underneath the details of time and venues, before it went on to state their address.
“RSVP to Mary (not Alex, because he can’t read!)” He managed to wheeze out, wiping at his eyes. “Oh, Stack, you’re killing me.”
“You like it?” She grinned and Frank nodded.
“Mary.” Fliss’ laughter died down as she took a deep breath. “It’s absolutely perfect!”
Once they had finished laughing at Mary’s Invitation Prototype, Fliss and Frank ate dinner together, Mary chatting away to the pair of them as she sat at the end of the breakfast bar, sipping a milkshake, informing them both about her day, before Frank took Alex to get him bathed and changed into his pyjamas.
“This bath is supposed to be for you.” Frank grumbled as Alex enthusiastically splashed at the water with his little hands, those little babbling noises emitting from his mouth as he glanced up at Frank with his big blue eyes, making another sound that could almost have been interpreted as a question. Which, maybe it was. “You heard me.” Frank looked at him. Alex studied his dad for a second before continuing with his splashing, laughing loudly as he tossed a plastic boat to the end of the tub before he stretched towards it, then realising he couldn’t reach the toy, promptly burst into tears.
“Seriously, Pal?” Frank rolled his eyes, stretching his right hand over to retrieve the precious item. As soon as he passed it back, the over the top tears stopped and Frank raised an eyebrow. “If you wanted it so badly why did you throw it away in the first place?”
Alex responded with another noise, this one a gurgle and Frank nodded.
“Okay, understood.”
At that Alex looked at him, cocking his head to one side, making another puzzled noise and tossed the boat this time over the side of the bath, a grin spreading across his face as he studied his dad.  Frank arched an eyebrow. “You know, just because I love you doesn’t mean I sign up for this whole throw and fetch shit you got going on.” He picked up the toy and tossed it back into the water. “That’s Thor’s job.”
“You know, if his first word comes out a swear, you’re in deep trouble.” Fliss arched an eyebrow as Frank turned his head over his shoulder to look at her as she stood in the bathroom doorway. At the sight of his Mumma, Alex gave a huge grin and let out another gabble of noises.
“There are worst things it could be.” Frank shrugged, looking back at him.
“Like what?”
“Trump.” Frank deadpanned and Fliss let out a chuckle as once more the plastic boat came out of the tub onto the floor.
“Right, I think play-time is done pal.” Frank looked at Alex, who glanced up at him as he made sure to keep one hand behind his son’s back whilst reaching for his little hooded towel, which was patterned with tiny little ducks. “Come on.” No sooner had he lifted Alex out of the tub, the eight month old started to protest, dramatically, screams once more hitting Frank’s ears. “Oh, hush…” Frank chuckled as he lay him down on the towel before wrapping him in it and picking him up, rising to a stand and gently jiggling the now hysterical baby up and down.
“Anyone would think we’re tryin’a kill him, not simply dry him off after he’s spent fifteen minutes in the bath.” Frank rolled his eyes, an amused expression on his face at Alex’s dramatics.
“Well, he’s a right little water baby, aint you Bean?” Fliss leaned over to kiss Alex’s head as his cries suddenly died down as he had become instantly distracted with the buttons on Frank’s shirt. He made a little “oooh” of approval, his tiny fingers reaching to the ones near the collar. “Ha, look at that, he’s easily distracted, just like his daddy.”
“Yeah, well, I won’t deny, I quite like undoing your buttons.” Frank teased, dropping a kiss to her mouth. “Shall I dress him or do you wanna do it?”
Fliss took a deep breath, of course she wanted to dress him, she wanted to do everything for her baby, but she also knew that Frank had been out of the house early every morning and this was the first evening since Monday he’d made it home before bath time. With a smile she shook her head. “It's okay, you can do it. I’ll clean up in here.”
“Leave it, I’ll do it later.”
“It won’t take me five minutes. Then once I’m done and he’s settled, I’ll head over to the yard so I can ride and finish off. I won’t be too long, just an hour or so.”
“Then we got some us time?” Frank asked, almost pleaded and she smiled.
“Then we got some us time.”
“Perfect.” Frank gave her a soft smile before he kissed her again and carried Alex into the nursery. Before long he’d managed to wrestle a very wriggly baby into a clean diaper, a fresh romper suit and headed downstairs. Mary was now sat on the couch, her eyes glued to something on the TV as Fliss was warming Alex’s bottle up.
“You going with Fliss, Stack?”
No answer. With a raised brow he turned to look at Fliss who was biting her lip, trying not to laugh as he switched his attention back to Mary.
“Earth to Mary.”
With a groan she looked at him. “What?”
“Less of the attitude.” Frank looked at her. “I asked if you were going to ride?”
“Oh, erm…” She hesitated and Fliss chuckled.
“She wants to stay here and spend some time with you.” She smiled as Frank looked at her, then to Mary.
“Wow, me over Monty, I’m flattered.” He smirked. Mary rolled her eyes.
“Don’t get used to it, it’s only because I’ve not seen you properly this week to hang out.”
Frank snorted before he sighed. “I know, I’m sorry. It won’t be forever.”
“It’s fine.” Mary shrugged, her eyes back on the TV. “Not like I’m neglected, is it?”
“Good to know you feel that way.” Frank nodded seriously, before he caught Fliss’ eye and she gave him a wink.
He placed Alex down on the play mat in front of the TV and within seconds the baby had flipped himself over and pushed up onto his hands, rocking back a little onto his knees, emitting more excited noises.
“Mary, I’m just gonna grab a drink.” Frank looked at the Alex, before he turned to Mary. “Keep your eye on your brother will you?”
“Sure.” She shrugged, her attention now completely on the baby as she dropped onto the floor and shuffled over to him, talking to him as she did so.
Frank watched for a moment, giving a silent groan as Alex flopped gently down face first onto the mat.
“Oopsie!”  Mary grinned, and Frank braced himself for the dramatic screams, but they never came as this time, Alex managed to right himself and roll back over onto his back, giving Mary an excited grin and a loud shriek as Mary waggled one of the toys from the baby gym over the top of him.
Satisfied they were okay, Frank headed into the kitchen where Fliss was busy finishing off the lunches for the next morning, dropping a kiss to her cheek as he reached into the fridge, grabbing a beer.
 “You wanna do bedtime as you’ve not had chance this week?” Fliss asked, nodding to Alex’s bottle where it stood in the jug of boiling water.
“He’s my son, course I wanna.” Frank frowned as he looked at her, flipping the top off his beer. “You know, it’s not like I’ve been working late on purpose, Fliss.”
“That’s not what I meant.” Fliss narrowed her eyes at him as he took a long pull of his drink. “And you know it. So less of the shitty tone, thank you!”
“Sorry, Honey.” Frank sighed, dropping a kiss to her lips. “Just, well, I didn’t think Mary would have bothered as much as she had.”
“She’s fine.” Fliss shook her head. “And she isn’t bothered as such, she just wants to get you to herself for a little while. I mean, let’s face it, how often does she get chance to do that now?”
“True.” Frank nodded. “Maybe I should take her out on Saturday somewhere, just the two of us. Would you mind?”
“No, course not.” She shook her head. “I can take Alex down to the beach with Bonnie. You can always join us later on.”
“Yeah.” Frank nodded. “Sounds good.”
“And tonight, why don’t you spend a bit of time in the pool before she showers?” Fliss suggested, as she slid her hands up round his neck. “Then maybe when I get back, me and you could-“
But whatever filthy water-based shenanigans she was about to suggest, Frank never found out, as at that moment Mary let out a yell.
“Oh my God! Alex is crawling, quick!”
In a flash the parents rushed over to where Mary was sat at one side of the play-mat, waving Alex’s huge stuffed elephant at him, as he unsteadily made his way over to her, one hand and knee moving at a time.
“Frank, quick!” Fliss nudged him as she dropped to her knees behind Alex, her hands settling either side of his little body, getting ready to catch him if she needed to.  
“I got it…” Frank muttered, as he crouched next to Mary, his phone out. “Alex, buddy, you reckon you can make it all this way to Daddy, huh?”
Another few little movements later, Fliss’ sharp eyes saw the baby’s arms beginning to wobble and, just as they gave way she grabbed him and pulled him backwards, swinging him up and pressing her to his chest, smothering his face in kisses.
“My clever little man!” She beamed as Alex laughed, grabbing at her hair as she kissed him. “Oh my baby, you’re getting so big!”
Alex clearly decided that his crawling efforts were done for the day as he made no attempt try again as Fliss held him in position on the mat. With a shrug, she gently placed him on his back where he began to grab once more at the toys hanging over him.
“Obviously had enough excitement for one night.” Frank chuckled as he reached over and tickled the baby’s belly, drawing a gaggle of laughter from him.
“I’m so glad we all got to see it.” Fliss beamed round at them both and Mary nodded enthusiastically. “Right…” She rose to her feet. “I’m going to go ride and finish off. I’ll be back in an hour, hour and a half.”
Once she was gone, Frank turned to Mary. “Fancy playing in the pool for a bit before bed?”
“Errr, yeah!”
“Okay, well give me half an hour or so to get him down and then we’ll head out. I wanna see if you can master a back flip this time instead of a front one.”
***** Alex went down, as usual, with minimum fuss and once Frank was happy he was settled he changed into his swim shorts and headed downstairs. Grabbing the baby monitor screen from the side in the kitchen, he and Mary headed out to the pool, Mary wasting no time in cannon-balling straight in. Not one to shy down from a challenge, when Mary told him to beat her splash, he did just that. The two of them enjoyed a fun filled forty minutes or so, racing one another (Frank let Mary win a few, but not all) play fighting, diving and generally larking around as the sun dipped behind the eye-line of the fence and the lights in the pool kicked in, reflecting against the bright blue tiles which lined it.
Frank climbed out of the pool to check the time on his phone, and realising it was now almost eight, he told Mary it was time to get out. She protested, but he shot her a no-nonsense stare and with a loud groan about how unfair life was, she climbed out and Frank wrapped her in a towel before giving her a drink of water and then packing her off upstairs for a shower, promising her she could read in bed before lights off at nine.
He showered himself, pulling on a pair of sweats and a well-worn light blue T-Shirt, and by the time he had finished and headed across the landing to tuck Mary in, she was already out for the count. With a smile, he placed her book down on her night stand, gently kissed her head and then flicked off the lamp before he moved to the next room to check on Alex. He was also fast asleep.
He headed back downstairs, grabbed another beer and settled in front of the TV, giving a snort as he glanced at the time. It was now ten past nine. So much for Fliss being just an hour. No doubt she’d ended up chatting to one of the clients about something, as usual, which had delayed her locking up. Firing her a good humoured, sarcastic text about how he should grow a mane, tail and two extra legs so he could get a look in, he tossed the phone down onto the coffee table, frowning as it instantly began to light up. It was Fliss.
 “Hey, Honey, I was only joking, take as-“
“Frank, there’s something wrong with Heidi.” She cut him off, her voice cracking. “She’s got colic and it’s bad. I called the Vet and he’s on his way but she won’t get up. I can’t get her on her feet to try and walk her round she’s just…”
Frank took a deep breath, his stomach falling as he digested her words. He wasn’t clued up on a lot of horse lingo or issues, but he knew colic was fatal to some horses, depending on the severity. And even without the fact that Fliss was clearly concerned, he knew that with Heidi being as old as she was this wasn’t good.
“How long is the Vet going to be?” he asked.
“They said about half an hour, he’s on his way but as it’s night it’s an emergency call so he’s coming from home.” She took a deep breath. “Frank, I’m gonna lose her.”
“Look, you don’t know that for sure.” He placated her gently as he stood up from the sofa. “Listen, let me grab the kids and we’ll come over.”
“Frank, they’re sleeping.” She began to protest, “And Mary will be so upset to see Heidi like this, and if the vet has to put her to sleep then…”
“Then she’ll be mad as hell she didn’t get to say goodbye.” Frank reasoned as he made his way into the hallway. “I don’t want you over there on your own, sweetheart. Not if…”
There was a pause. “I don’t want to do it on my own either.” She whispered and he took a deep breath as he headed up the stairs, taking the steps two at a time.
“And you don’t hafta.” He replied. “Give me five minutes. Do you need anything else?”
“No, I got everything here.”
“Okay.” He nodded, pausing outside Mary’s bedroom. “We’ll be with you in five.”
She sniffed. “Thank you.”
Frank stuck his phone in the pocket of his sweats before he opened Mary’s door and headed over to her bed. Standing on the bottom rung of the ladder of the cabin he gently leaned over. She was led, facing away from him, face snuggled into her pillow as Fred lay by her side. He raised his head questioningly at Frank as he softly brushed Mary’s hair off her cheek, pressing a kiss to her face.
“Stack, hey…come on, wake up.” Mary gave a groan as she pulled her covers up further, her eyes still closed. Frank spoke a little louder, his hand softly shaking her shoulder. “Mary, sweetheart, I need you to wake up, come on.”
She stirred a little, before she rolled onto her back, blinking sleepily at him before she frowned.
“Frank, it’s still dark!” She glared at him and he bit back the smirk at the fact she’d reverted to Frank, not Dad. Something she always did when she felt he was being a jerk.
“I know you haven’t been asleep long, but Fliss is at the yard and we need to go be with her. Heidi isn’t well, the vet is on his way.”
At that she sat up, all tiredness evaporating from her system. “What’s wrong with her?”
“It’s colic, Sweetie.” Frank answered gently. “But Fliss is on her own, so I need you to get dressed whilst I grab Alex, okay?”
“Okay.” She nodded, and Frank smiled softly before he turned and headed over to the nursery which was quiet bar the soft sounds of Alex’s little baby snores. In the stream of light that illuminated the room from the landing, he could see his son sleeping, halfway down the crib, head tilted to the side, the pair of them meticulous in the way they set him down at night. He crossed the room and gently picked Alex up out of the crib, the baby giving a little sigh as he did so but other-wise remaining asleep. He grabbed a little fleece blanket and as he made his way back out into the hallway, Mary appeared in her jeans and a red t-shirt.  
“Why don’t you bring your laptop or something, just in case we’re there for a while and you get bored?” Frank asked. “You can sit in the office with Alex.”
“It’s downstairs.” She answered. “I’ll go grab it.”
They headed down stairs and Frank settled Alex in his stroller which was by the kitchen door as Mary grabbed her stuff. Frank slipped his feet into his sneakers as Mary stuffed on her boots and he wandered into the laundry room and found a warm top for them each.
“Frank it’s like almost summer outside.” Mary looked at him, “It’s hot!”
“I’m well aware of the climate, thanks.” He looked at her, stashing the hooded tops and cardigan on the underneath space of the stroller, before he made sure that Alex’s little blanket was set around his legs. “But it might get a little breezy if we’re there later.”
Truth be told he had no idea why he was taking them, other than the fact it felt like something he should do even though it was still in the low 70s at night. He was a little lost, this was something he’d never dealt with before, and there was a sick feeling in his stomach that it wasn’t going to end well. But, there was no point worrying about it until they knew what they were dealing with. He had to be strong, be calm. Taking a deep breath he looked at Mary and nodded. “Get the door, Stack.”
By the time they had reached the Yard, Fliss had managed to coax Heidi to her feet. As Frank and Mary walked round the side of the barn Fliss was heading to the paddock, Heidi trudging behind her.
“Hey.” Frank looked at her, and she gave him a tight smile, not stopping.
“I’m sorry, but if I stop she’ll…” She began to explain but Frank waved her away.
“Do what you gotta do.” He watched as she cast a look over her shoulder. “I’ll settle these two in the office and then I’ll be out.”
After doing just that, instructing Mary to keep an eye on Alex and promising her he would come get her once they knew what was going on, he wandered back to the paddock and without a word simply took Fliss' hand in his as she continued walking Heidi. Frank could hear the horse was making grunting noises and every so often tried to stop and kick at her stomach, but Fliss kept walking, her face set. She didn’t say much, making a little small talk, but Frank simply stayed by her side as every so often they changed direction.
“Where the hell is this vet?” Fliss gave an exasperated sigh and looked around, almost as if she expected to see him.
“It’s not been that long yet, Sweetheart.” Frank soothed her.
“Well it feels like forever.”
Frank kissed her head as they continued walking and about five minutes later a dark blue Hyundai pulled up the drive and Fliss let out a sigh of relief as she saw it was Scott, their usual vet and not some random on-call one. She led Heidi onto the main area of the yard, the horse rapidly becoming even more agitated. Fliss gently ran her hand down her neck, as she turned to Scott and gave him a quick low down and he nodded, patting Heidi.
“Okay old girl, let’s see what’s going on…” Scott hooked the stethoscope into his ears and moved to listen to her belly, taking a deep breath as he looked at Fliss. “Yeah, there’s absolutely no gut noise at all. It’s definitely colic, but you know that already…” he unhooked the ear pieces, leaving the item hanging around his neck before he moved to her head and examined her nose to get a look at the mucas membrane colour, then did a quick check on her gums which Frank noticed were pale instead of the usual pink.
“She’s in shock.” Fliss sniffed a little, noticing the change in colour and Scott wrinkled his nose.
“Not uncommon if she’s in a bit of pain.” He stood back. “Okay, I’m going to give her an anti-spasmodic and some pain relief which should help, and a mild sedative so I can do an internal examination.”
 “Yeah, whatever you need to do.” Fliss nodded as Scott turned to head back to his car to prep what he needed.
“Internal examination?” Frank looked at Fliss, “Like, is he…” He mimed fisting something and despite herself, Fliss let out a snort of laughter.
“That’s exactly what he’s gonna do.” She shook her head as she gently stroked Heidi’s face, the mare giving another grunt and huff as she butted Fliss out of the way a little. “Still a sassbag, eh girl?”
“Like her mom.” Frank looked at Fliss and she shrugged, turning over her shoulder as the vet approached, two large syringes in his hand.
“Look, can you call my mum and dad?” Fliss looked at Frank. “I don’t think…well, Dad especially is going to want to be here if…”
“Sure.” Frank nodded and turned away, obligingly.
He wandered back into the office, Bill who answered the phone instantly asked him what was going on and when he explained he simply stated they would be there as soon as they could be and hung up.
“Is she going to be okay?” Mary asked, as Frank checked on Alex where he was still sleeping in his stroller.
“I honestly don’t know Stack, but as soon as I do I’ll tell you okay?”
“You’re doing a good job in here, watching him.”
“Don’t patronise me, Dad.” She rolled her eyes. “He’s asleep, and I’m reading. Not like it’s hard.”
Frank blinked, before he gave a little scoff and turned to head back onto the yard.
The Vet was just finishing giving Heidi the first jab and he gently rubbed the horse’s neck and then nodded to Fliss.
“Okay so that’s the pain relief and anti-spasmodic administered. Take her back in the paddock and give her another couple of minutes’ walk round whilst it kicks in.”
Fliss nodded and led the horse away, waving off Frank’s offer to come with her, Thor trotting behind.
“What’s the chances, Scott?” Frank turned to the man and he pulled a face.
“It’s hard to say.” He sighed. “If she was younger I’d be optimistic but with horses that age, well everything like this can be a risk. If this doesn’t work then I’ll know more after I’ve done an internal.”
To their despair it didn’t work, and if anything after another minute of walking around Heidi had gotten even worse and her bright, chestnut coat was now damp with sweat, her chest area and parts of her chest covered in a thin sheen of white foam.
“Scott, she’s in agony.” Fliss sniffed as Frank curled an arm round her.
“The sedative will help more with the pain.” Scott assured Fliss, pulling out the second needle which he administered into the horses neck. “Atta girl. We’ll give that a minute to work.”
As Scott snapped on a pair of rubber gloves, Frank and Fliss both turned to look as they heard another car heading up the gravel driveway onto the yard. Verity and Bill appeared shortly after, exchanging a look before Bill headed straight to Heidi, giving her a soft stroke on the nose before Verity did the same.
“You okay, Titch?” Bill asked, dropping a kiss to her head and she swallowed.
“Not really.” Her eyes flicked to Scott as he moved behind Heidi whose head was now slumped down, resting on Fliss’ shoulder as the sedative had kicked in. No one spoke for a moment, before they all heard a heavy sigh from Scott as he pulled his arm back and shook his head.
“I’m sorry, Fliss.” He sighed, and immediately her face crumpled and she took a deep breath.
“Don’t say it, please.” She begged, her chest tightening painfully as her voice cracked.
“Her gut’s twisted. The only option is surgery, but given her age and the stress that would put on her heart…”
He trailed off as Fliss shook her head, wiping her nose on the back of her sleeve. “I’m not putting her through that.” She whispered, “It’s not fair. She’s too old.”
“In that case then, well, you know what I’m gonna say.” Scott dropped his head as Frank softly placed his hands between Fliss shoulder blades as she nodded and took a deep breath “I really am so sorry.”
“It isn’t your fault.” Fliss shook her head, sniffing loudly. “I don’t want her in pain longer than she needs to be. Can we…can we get on with it, please?”
The Vet nodded. “I won’t be able to arrange for her body to be collected until the morning.” He looked at Fliss who took a shuddering breath, more tears rolling down her face. “So errr, where do you want to….”
“Why don’t you use the barn at the back?” Bill cut in gently. “I can move the tractor out for the night. There’s enough room for her to go down peacefully and she can stay in there until someone can collect her.”
“Yeah, it’s clean in there and a soft landing for when…” Fliss took a deep breath before she began to cry as she pressed her face into her beloved horse’s neck, her shoulders shaking as Frank gently rubbed at her back.
“The kids are in the office.” He turned to Bill and Verity, “Mary’s gonna…”
“We’ll sort it.” Verity assured him. “I’ll take Alex back to the house.” She turned to Fliss and gave her arm a gently squeeze before she gently scratched at Heidi’s wither, her head bowing as she walked away.
The next five minutes passed in a blur for Fliss, and somehow she found herself in the barn at the back, as she led Heidi in, the mare following her faithfully.
“Do you want another couple of minutes?” Scott asked kindly.
“Just one, for us all to say goodbye.” Fliss nodded, as she stroked down Heidi’s nose, the tears pouring down her face. She turned to Mary who was stood with Frank, her eyes wet and Frank picked her up, carrying her over as the family crowded round.
“Goodbye, Heidi.” Mary sniffed, pressing a kiss to her nose as Frank gently gave the horse a scratch on the neck. “Frank says we all end up in the same place eventually, so we’ll see you again.”
At that Fliss let out a loud sob and clamped her hand over her face as she broke down. Bill wiped at his eyes as he dropped his arm round his daughter.
“Do you remember when we went to see her before we bought her?” He asked and Fliss let out a choked laugh. “She was in that field, and she came straight over, but so did that big black horse…”
“And she kicked it.” Fliss laughed. “Then she bit Steve. That’s why I picked her.”
At that Frank let out a soft chuckle.
“Yeah, he held a grudge about that, still does.” Bill smiled softly. “God, you had some moments with her. Falls, disagreements, battles of wills, but you got there in the end.”
“She’s been amazing.” Fliss smiled, pressing her nose to Heidi’s. “Turned herself inside out to please me. The best horse I could ever have had.”
Bill smiled, before he reached up and stroked Heidi’s face. “Night, old girl.”
At that he stepped back a little, the three of them plus the vet giving Fliss a moment alone with her old faithful.
“Dad’s right.” She smiled, her hand stoking Heidi’s nose, “You were an asshole for the first four months but, I knew you’d be special, I just had to get your trust. You gave me everything, baby girl, and I’ll never forget you. I’m gonna miss you so much. Your stupid temper tantrums if I don’t pay you enough attention, the fact you rule the pastures…” the tears poured freely down Fliss’ face as she took a shuddering breath, pressing her head to Heidi’s, taking a deep breath. “Sleep well.”
At that she turned to Scott and nodded, and he stepped forward.
“Okay, you’ve seen this before, right?”
“Yeah.” Fliss nodded, “But Mary hasn’t so…”
“Right, so, Mary, I’m gonna give her the first shot and that’s gonna knock her out pretty much, she’s likely to rock back and sit down like a dog before she flops sideways so, be prepared okay.”
“Kay…” Mary spoke in a quiet voice from where she stood in front of Frank. He gently placed his hands on her shoulders and bent down.
“You sure you wanna watch this?”
Mary nodded. “Yeah. Heidi doesn’t know what’s going on. She should have her family here.”
Frank smiled, pressed a kiss to the top of her head and stood up, his hands remaining where they were as Bill gently strode forward and grabbed Thor’s collar, removing him from the barn and out of the way.
Within seconds of Scott administering the first injection, Heidi did just as Scott said. Fliss gently pushed back with the lead rope, guiding Heidi back and the horse fell onto her haunches before flopping sideways, her head landing heavily on the straw bales that Bill had positioned to cushion her blow.
With a loud sob Fliss dropped to her knees and cradled the horse’s head in her lap as Scott then bent over to give her the last injection.
“So now she’s just basically gonna fall asleep and never wake up.” He looked at Mary who nodded, giving a loud sniff as she reached up to grab Franks hand.
“You okay?” He asked and she nodded, wiping at her face with her other hand. Bill moved, dropping a large hand to the back of the small girl’s head as Fliss gently stroked Heidi’s face as the animal’s eyes closed.
With a final, laboured breath, the animal’s chest grew still and Scott bent over.
“She’s gone.” He looked at Fliss, who gave another loud sob, bending over to press her face into the side of Heidi’s cheek.
“I’m so sorry I couldn’t fix you.” She cried, her voice broken. “I’m so sorry.”
Frank was surprised to find his own eyes misting up, and as Mary turned to him, pressing her face into his T’shirt just above the waistband of his sweats, he glanced up at Bill who had tears trickling down his cheeks. He nodded to Frank who gently looked down at Mary, who stepped back and moved towards Bill as he opened his arms, allowing Frank to move into the barn.
“Hey, Lissy…come here.” He dropped to his knees and wrapped his arms round his girl who turned and pressed into him, her body wracked as she almost screamed out her sobs.
It was pushing midnight before they made their way back to the house. Fliss had broken down once more as Frank and Bill had pulled the huge barn doors shut where Heidi’s body lay, covered by a tarp, ready for collection in the morning. The Vet had been nothing short of fantastic, as sympathetic and understanding as he could and for that Frank had thanked him profoundly as he’d been packing his kit up.  Without a word said between any of them, they walked down the little pathway and through the gate that connected into the gardens of the house and walked slowly across the gravel driveway. Fliss was walking a little ahead of them, every so often Frank would notice her hand falling to Thor’s head, almost as if she was checking her faithful dog was still with them as well.
She opened the back door which led into the mudroom and walked in, kicking off her boots and then headed into the family room where Verity was sat watching TV. She stood up immediately, took one look at Fliss and then she held her arms out.
“Mum…” Fliss choked and Verity swallowed, her own face creasing into sadness as Fliss stepped into the comfort of her mum’s arms, sniffing slightly.
“Oh, Sweetheart.” Verity pressed a kiss to her daughters head. “I know this is no consolation but she had the best life ever with you, she was so loved and looked after.”
Tearing his eyes away from Fliss, who continued to sniff softly as her mum held her, Frank gently turned to Mary who had tugged on his sleeve.
“You okay?” He asked, his hand gently cupping under her cheek and she shook her head.
“I’m just sad.”
“I know.” He agreed. “You will be for a while, and there’s nothing anyone can say or do that’s gonna make it better, but if you wanna talk about it…”
“No, I think I just wanna go to bed.” She shrugged slightly. “And give Fred a hug.”
“Alright.” He nodded. “You go up, I’ll come tuck you in, in a second.”
She nodded and then walked towards Fliss, hesitating a little, before she continued and gently reached up to lay her hand on Fliss’s elbow. Fliss broke away from her mum and turned to look at Mary, wiping her eyes. Mary blinked and Fliss gave her a soft smile, crouching down to give her a hug, kissing her head.
“I love you, Mom.” Mary’s voice cracked and Fliss pressed her face harder into her hair, pulling her even closer, before she pulled back a little bit and smiled.
“I love you too. And I’m proud of you. You were so brave then.”
Fliss straightened up as Mary walked from the room after bidding everyone a goodnight, before she turned to Frank who was watching her carefully, knowing from the way her face was crumpling that her emotions were about to boil over completely. “Frankie…she…” Fliss stuttered, her chest heaving as Frank stepped forward quickly. “She just…”
“I know…” He wrapped his arms round her and pulled her close as she began to sob, her face pressed into his t-shirt. He stood, his large arms holding her against him, one hand gently resting on the back of her neck, his thumb gently arching over the skin at the back of her ear as he slowly rocked her to-and-fro on the spot, pressing a kiss to her head.
“I’ll make us some tea.” Verity swallowed, and Frank looked at her gratefully as she passed, Bill following, the man gently squeezing Fliss’ shoulder. The room was silent apart from the clinking of mugs as Verity gathered the items she needed to make them all a drink, and Thor’s soft little whines of concern, the dog eventually sticking his head in between Frank and Fliss, nudging Fliss’s thigh with his nose, his noises of distress becoming more and more high pitched. Fliss looked down, Frank’s arm curling over her shoulder as she reached down and scratched behind his ear, before the dog stood on his hind legs, his large paws reaching Fliss’ shoulders as she stooped towards him as he gently licked the tears from her face, his noises dying down a little. Frank watched the animal, a warm feeling in his chest. He’d never seen him react in this way before. He knew from tales Fliss had told him that he’d often comforted her before once her shit bag ex had given her a battering, and he’d seen the dog seek her out when she was upset or worried, but never in such an overt way like this.
“I know you’re not keen on the idea.” Fliss sniffed, looking at Frank and he turned his eyes from the dog to her. “But, can he sleep on the end of the bed, just for tonight?”
Frank looked at her, then back to the dog. Having never had pets as a kid, the bond between a human and an animal was never something he’d really given a second thought to, that is until Mary had found Fred. But since meeting Fliss, seeing the way she was with Thor and her horses, seeing how Mary was with Monty, he’d started to really comprehend that the ties went beyond a simple love. They were bonds, bonds that transcended species, bonds that snaked their way around your heart and latched on with barbs and having one of those bonds wrenched away was not only excruciating but it was devastating.
In simple terms, it was like losing a member of your family, and that Frank could relate to. It was a physical pain, a searing knife which twisted in your heart every time you thought about the person you’d lost.
The lump in Frank’s throat grew even larger as he reached out and scratched Thor behind the ear, the dog turning to him and licking the underside of his forearm, his bushy tail wagging against Frank’s leg.
“I think we can make an exception for one night.” He smiled, looking at Fliss before he pressed a soft kiss to her temple.
Frank was glad their bed was a kingsize. Whilst he never minded particularly that Thor would lounge on the bed with them before they were going to sleep, or in the mornings when they got up, having the big animal on there all night could have been a problem, but as it stood, the dog was perfectly happy to curl up round the peak in the covers which Fliss’ feet made, and she pointed out to Frank that he’d probably hop off and get on his basket at some point during the night.
“He used to do that, anyway.” She shrugged. “When I was in the annex that is. Asshole never let him on the bed. If he was ever away for a few days and I let him or Loki up, I used to have to change the bedding so he wouldn’t find out. One day I forgot and…well, you can figure the rest.”
“Shhhh.” Frank kissed her neck softly as he pulled her closer, her back pressing into his chest wrapping his arms around her. “Try and get some sleep, Sweetheart. It’s late.”
“Thank you.” She whispered.
“What for?”
“Just being you.” She let out a deep breath and turned her head so she could look at him.
“Well, that is one thing I’m pretty good at.” He quipped and Fliss gave a soft chuckle before she took a deep breath.
“I know you’re busy at the shop, but is there any chance you could start late tomorrow?” She asked him softly. “I don’t wanna be on my own when they come to take her.”
“I’m not going in tomorrow.” Frank shook his head. “And Mary’s not going to school. We’ve had a late and upsetting night so I think we should all take it easy, spend some family time together. I thought maybe we could go for a drive, head down to Bay Vista Park.” He suggested. “There’s plenty of shade to sit in. We can take a picnic, climb some trees, me and Mary can have a game of Ultimate Frisbee, perhaps a swim. Hey, we might even spot some manatees.”
“Sounds great.” Fliss agreed, turning her head back round and laying down on the pillow. It was silent for a while, and Frank thought she’d drifted off to sleep until he felt her take a shuddering breath and her shoulders began to shake.
“Hey, come on.” Frank pulled her closer, pressing another kiss to her neck and she turned in his arms, pressing her face into his chest.
“I can’t believe she’s gone.” Fliss sniffed, as Frank’s hand ran up and down her back.
“I’m sorry, Sweetheart. I wish there was something I could do to make this better.”
“This is helping, a little.” She spluttered and Frank gave a soft chuckle, kissing her head again.
“Then you can stay like this all night.” He replied, closing his eyes as he simply held her close.
Eventually, Frank felt Fliss’ breathing grow even, and even though he couldn’t see in the dark of their room he knew she was asleep.
“Night, Baby.” He whispered, kissing her forehead and at that he heard Thor give out a little huff as the dog hopped down off the bed, his basket creaking before there was a soft thud indicating he’d bedded down there.
And, as Frank drifted off, he couldn’t help smile at just how the faithful dog had waited until he knew his precious human was asleep before he left her side. 
***** Chapter 22
Dedicated to  my gorgeous, wonderful, bad tempered but oh-so-loyal and loving chestnut mare, Sandybrook Hideaway. Keep waiting on that rainbow bridge until I find you again.
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Don't Go Into The Kitchen
Summary: Sam, who gladly lets people be in the kitchen with him when he cooks, learns you want no one in the kitchen when you bake. Pairing: Sam Wilson x reader and Bucky Barnes x Sarah Wilson Warnings: None Word count: 2.2K
Very early on in your relationship you had discovered Sam to be not only an avid cook but also a creative one whose dishes with their flavors, their textures, their colors, their everything, even the plating if it wasn’t soul food, made heaven come down to earth and on one simple plate.
However small Sam’s kitchen was, he not only kept you close, he wanted you close and almost always pulled you to him. You could just go from the door to the bedroom and he’d pull you to him to taste something new he cooked up. It wasn’t unusual for you to stand with your back pressed to his chest and you both pressed to the countertop, because the cable of the immersion blender was too short for you two to stand there comfortably but it was imperative for Sam to have you near when cooking.
The kitchen in your appartement wasn’t much bigger than Sam’s but it was closed off. That wasn’t much of a problem when you lived alone and it also wasn’t much of a problem when Sam spent the night and you had breakfast.
Some time later, you’d spent a lazy Sunday at your place and lived on your homemade waffles and muffins. Sam went into the kitchen to get you some more waffles and stayed there longer than you thought he would.
“Baby? You bake?”
“No Sam, I cooked the muffins yesterday” You deadpanned.
“Right, and I’ll bake mac’n’cheese. No, really. I didn’t know you also baked cakes. Like, those big ass, fancy cakes with decorations!”
You sat up. “Sam. Did you touch my baking utensils?”
“No baby, I’m just looking. Why? You turning green and big when someone does?”
“I’m not gonna rip my clothes but I’m very particular about my kitchen and especially all my baking things. Just so you know, should we ever move in together” The smile was audible in your voice.
Back on the sofa, Sam pulled you into him. “Already talking about moving in together?”
“Should we ever do that we’ll need a reaaally big kitchen.”
A few weeks later, you went over to Sam’s and practically the second you stepped through the door, there was Sam to pull you into the kitchen.
“Sorry to ambush you like this but I just finished this recipe and you gotta try this!”
He held up a wooden spoon. You could see different kinds of sea food in what seemed to be a broth on a tomato basis. It tasted exquisite. It was a perfect blend of the tomato broth with basil, thyme, cumin and garlic and complimented the salmon and prawns perfectly.
“And? What do you think?” Sam seemed like a giddy child.
You just took his face in your hands and kissed his nose, his forehead and then his lips. “You’re a master cook. But some garam masala would make this even better, what do you say?”
He didn’t say anything, just put the container with garam masala in your hand and let you do the rest. Now it was you who held the spoon and let Sam do the tasting each time the spice was blended with the rest.
“Now that’s good! You were right” Sam pecked your cheek.
“So, can we eat that now or do we have to wait for someone?”
“Naaa, it’s all ours.”
“Nice. Cause I don’t wanna share this.”
“You know I’m also here?”
“You’re the exception.”
“Well, I’m glad.”
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Sam had invited himself over to spend the entire weekend at your flat. And since you wanted to try this new cake recipe and creating the fondant decorations would take some time, you baked on Thursday. Sam wanted to come Friday morning. That meant there would be no chance of him going into the kitchen while you did anything.
Except that train of thought got derailed when your doorbell rang. You looked at the batter. It wasn’t time sensitive so you opened the door to see your boyfriend standing there with a flower bouquet and what seemed like takeout.
“I thought I’d surprise my wonderful girlfriend with a lazy evening, movies and takeout. Wait, what’s with the spatula?”
“I didn’t expect you now. So, I’m baking.”
“But I’m still welcome?”
“You and the takeout. And what’s with the flowers?”
“I got my girl flowers because I can.”
You nodded. “That actually makes sense.”
“I have my moments” Sam smiled.
You put the flowers in a vase and went back to the kitchen.
“Gimme the food and I’ll put it in the fridge.”
He took two steps and the third would take him over doorstep to the kitchen.
“Do. Not. Go. Into. The. Kitchen.”
“Remember how I told you I’m very peculiar about my kitchen?” You asked.
“Well, this is it. You don’t go into my kitchen when I’m in there and especially not when I’m baking” Your voice was sharp and your body blocked the doorway.
“Okay? I’ll just wait in the living room and we’ll talk loudly?”
You nodded and smiled. “I’ll be out when the batter’s in the oven.”
“And then?” Sam looked over your shoulder.
“Then we’ll spend a nice time until the cake is done and I’ll do the decorations and the coating. And after that, you’ll have me to yourself for the rest of the evening.”
“No assembling the decorations?” Sam grinned.
“You really are a cook, not a baker” You nudged his shoulder with yours. “The decorations will last longer after they spent some time in the fridge.”
“I see.” You spent the evening cuddling, talking, eating and watching dumb movies with the exception of you getting the cake out and Sam watching you form the decorations with different fondants.
“Is there an occasion you’re doing the cake for or just baking a cake for the sake of baking a cake?” Sam looked from your face to your hands that were currently forming a flower.
“Just for the sake of it. Didn’t bake for quite some time. Although some would say I bake really much” You mused. “But I got the urge to again and I thought I’d have today.” You smiled.
“Sorry” Sam bowed his head but you could see the slight grin he wore.
“You’re not sorry.”
“Not really” Now he wore a big grin.
When you were done and everything was in the fridge, you two went to enjoy the rest of the evening.
The next day after a lazy morning with cuddles, breakfast and breakfast cuddling, you poured the couverture on the cake and placed the decorations in the molten chocolate and let everything dry. Some hours later, every step was finally done and you put the cake on the coffee table in front of the couch.
“And now we can eat it.”
“We eat it? I’m supposed to eat this?”
“Love, I’m not baking a cake just to look at it.”
“But how can I eat something this beautiful?”
“I’m not gonna remind you of what else you eat that’s beautiful…”
Sam chuckled.
“But if we eat it… wait no! I got it! I’ll send a photo to the group chat to make them jealous!”
“Bucky looks at his phone?”
“He’s gotten better since he’s an honorary Wilson.”
“Maybe he won’t be just an honorary Wilson anymore some time from now” You grinned.
Sam looked at you dumbfounded. “Say that again.”
“They both told me separately they’re thinking of that step.”
“Both?! They’re both thinking of-“
You nodded. “Yeah. Hey, how about a bet about who takes that step first? I’ll say Bucky.”
“Alright, I’m in. 15 bucks on Sarah taking the first step. But back to the cake. Let’s make people jealous. Steve’s gotten better on his own about checking his phone.”
“Your phone, your picture…” You grinned.
The picture Sam sent to the group chat garnered all kinds of reactions. Steve, innocent Steve, complimented the cake and wanted to know if Sam made that. Bucky apparently had gotten some lessons from Cass and AJ about how to use emojis, because he sent an eyeball emoji and one with its tongue licking the lips. Sarah commented in true sibling fashion about how Sam must have either been switched out to start baking or just have an amazing girlfriend and how in earth did he get someone like her.
You chuckled.
“So now we can eat it?” Sam seemed torn between being giddy and mournful of eating such a beautiful cake.
You cut him a piece. You had to do that slowly and carefully to keep the decorations intact but no matter the reason, Sam looked pained. But all that changed when he took the first bite. He moaned. Sam straight up moaned.
“You’re a master baker.”
The second breakfast, lunch and the afternoon snack consisted of varying sizes of the cake.
One year later, you and Sam had moved in together and the key feature of the flat was the open-plan kitchen with a kitchen island facing the living room with a dining corner. The dining table was a beautiful piece made of stained wood.
Sam and you had invited the other Wilsons’ plus Steve and Bucky to a nice evening in your new flat with the promise of a tasty dinner and fancy dessert. They arrived separately, first Steve which didn’t surprise you but what did surprise you was Cass and AJ arriving after. Alone. It took fifteen minutes for Sarah and Bucky arriving together. No one said anything, only Sam raised his eyebrows at you. You smirked.
“Where should we?” Steve wanted to know.
“You can sit there” You said and pointed to the chairs between dining table and wall.
“She lets people into the kitchen now?” Bucky asked.
Sam looked at him. “See how big this kitchen is? And the table? And how she told you to sit at the side farthest from her?”
“Yes, okay.”
“So, what kind of dinner are you serving us?” Steve wanted to know.
“Always the guy with the fast metabolism who asks that question first” Sarah grinned.
“And what am I then?” You chuckled. “Or Cass and AJ?”
“You just eat without that” Sarah hugged you sideways and went over to the table where Bucky pulled out a chair for her.
“To answer your question, Steve, I made a casserole with fish and seafood and Y/N here made a layered cake with chocolate, mint, strawberry, vanilla and lemon.”
“Is that way the fridge compartment trays aren’t in the, you know, fridge?” Bucky looked at were there were indeed the trays and apparently the fridge didn’t have any compartments now.
“Oh, oh, oh! Can we see it? Can we? Please?” AJ and Cass twisted their bodies in the chairs to look at you and the fridge.
“Not yet, okay?”
Sam put the casserole down and started dishing out the food. All of you tucked in and only the clattering of forks and knives on plates could be heard. Until Steve swallowed and loudly exhaled.
“Steve? You okay?” Sarah looked at him with concern, while Sam looked at his casserole.
“Y- yes, I’m-“ He was caught off guard by a cough.
“Milk” You stated and put some in front of Steve. He drank the whole glass in almost one go.
“Thank you, Y/N.”
“Don’t mention it. I forgot not everyone is used to spicy food.”
After he recovered, he turned to Bucky: “Buck, how-?”
“You cannot be engaged to this beautiful woman here and not eat and love spicy food.”
“I told you!” You hit Sam’s upper arm.
“Who of you asked?” Sam wanted to know.
“I did. I’m old” Bucky smiled at Sarah.
“And old-fashioned, but only sometimes” Sarah pecked his cheek.
You chuckled, while AJ mumbled an “That’s disgusting.”
“You get used to it, buddy” Sam wrapped his arm around his nephew.
“And you owe me 15 bucks, Sam.”
The rest of dinner went by without other occurrences, only Steve eating slower than usual and occasionally sipping some milk. After Sam cleared the table, you put down the cake.
“Y/N this looks awesome!” Bucky exclaimed and AJ and Cass nodded vigorously.
“Now, who wants the first piece?”
“Me!” Cass and AJ called at the same time.
“Boys…” Sarah mumbled. You weren’t sure if she wanted to reprimand them or not.
You winked at Sarah and gave her the first piece. You got a second cake server that you only had because you thought Sam had misplaced your trusty one after clearing the dishwasher some time ago. Now you twirled one in your left hand, and one in the other. You looked at the two boys and served them each a slice at the same time.
“Yeah, what he said!”
You served the others and tucked in. The evening went on, talking and laughing poking fun at each other. Despite all the sugar of the cake, Cass and AJ slept like logs after some hours on the couch. It was a perfect evening.
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This is what I imagined the cake to look like, only taller to fit the five layers.
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technofantasia · a year ago
Rise of the TMNT Timeline
Alright, by piecing together some clues from the show and making some educated guesses, I’ve put together a tentative chronology for Rise!
(Note: not all episodes are included, just a couple that either have timeline evidence or are somehow plot notable. This is assuming the canonical episode order is also chronological order.)
[EDIT] Added some more information (namely Splinter’s birthday month).
1600s-ish: The Shredder was created and sealed away September 1960: Splinter was born 1966: Splinter’s mother left (Finale part 1 flashback) 1979: Splinter left for America (Finale part 1 flashback) 1980-1984: Splinter became an action film star, dated around 1984: Splinter started dating Big Mama 1987: Splinter’s “Hot Soup: the Game” was released 1989: Splinter proposed to Big Mama, was imprisoned in Battle Nexus November 2002: April was born April-August 2003: (Presumably) Raph was born April-August 2004: (Presumably) Leo and Donnie were born April-August 2005: (Presumably) Mikey was born October 2005: Splinter and the Turtles were mutated February 2014: The first Lair Games was held 2014-2016: Donnie made his first battleshell, goggles, and tech bracer Early 2018: Piebald was flushed August 2018: Mystic Mayhem (the series begins), Down with the Sickness September 2018: The Turtle Tank was created (The Fast and the Furriest), Bug Busters, Hypno part Deux October 2018: Bullhop,  Evil League of Mutants, Shelldon was first created (Smart Lair), Shadow of Evil November 2018: April’s 16th Birthday (Warren and Hypno), April meets Sunita (Operation: Normal) December 2018: Snow Day January 2019: S1 Finale February 2019: The sixth Lair Games was held (Lair Games), Repairin’ the Baron March 2019: Air Turtle April-May 2019: S2 Finale
(Reasoning below the cut!)
So. Assuming that the episodes occur in chronological order, we can reasonably assume that the course of the show proper takes around or slightly less than a year.
In Hypno Part Deux, April is going to a homecoming dance; homecoming dances happen usually around the beginning of the school year, in late September or early October. Since she is canonically 15 at the time (she says she’s 16 in Always Be Brownies, which happens after her birthday) and has a birthday that comes after homecoming, that would likely make her a high school junior! That’s not important, just a fun fact. Placing the beginning of the series around August makes sense, then, since it’d be before April started school and during flu season, giving Splinter a good reason for catching the rat flu in Down with the Sickness.
The other solid time marker we have is Snow Day, which obviously takes place during snow season in New York (which is usually December to March). It’d likely be closer to December, since I’d like to imagine that they would have gone out to have fun in the snow as soon as they could have, potentially even at first snow. Since Lair Games comes chronologically after Snow Day and confirms the year as being 2019, we can assume that most episodes that happen before Snow Day happened in 2018 while those after happened in 2019.
Another, slightly more tenuous time marker is Bullhop, where a calendar is shown that says the 21st of the month was on a Sunday; by our previous assumption, this is 2018, so a calendar shows this must have been during the month of October, which falls in line with the rest of our timeline here! Neat. The 2018-2019 NBA season went from October 6 to April 10, so, since Air Turtle presumably showed a late season game with potential for turnaround, early March seems like a fair bet. All of those episodes combined give a pretty good sense of time throughout the series, spanning from probably around August 2018 to Mid-2019. The finale could have happened any time after March and before June (when high school would end, meaning Sloppy Joe wouldn’t have had to be working Draxum’s kitchen). Because there were quite a few episodes that should have happened before the finale, though, I’ll split the difference and say the S2 finale happened in or around May.
Fun detail: by this timeline, April’s birthday is sometime between October and December/January, likely November (seeing as it comes after Bullhop but before Snow Day, and judging by the fall colors of the foliage in Operation Normal which comes directly after her birthday episode.)
As for the brothers, we can assume that they might have different birthdays judging by how in Lair Games, Mikey says that one of his favorite days is “my birthday”; if they all shared a birthday, he might have been more likely to say “our birthday”. They were mutated sometime close to October, but since they didn’t seem to see the date of their mutation as anything special in ELoM, we can assume they don’t celebrate it as their birthday. We know that at the beginning of the show, Mikey is 13, Leo and Donnie are 14, and Raph is 15; at no point during the show do any of them have a birthday, which leads me to assume that they are the same ages by the S2 finale. They COULD have had a birthday offscreen, but since birthdays are a pretty big thing for teenagers, I’d think that if one of them had a birthday it would be pretty noteworthy. I’ll just guess and say they didn’t have one. If that’s the case, then all of their birthdays would be some time between April-ish and August-ish. By the time the show starts, then, they would have already had their birthdays, confirming for us their (probably only guessed anyway but whatever) birth years as 2003, 2004, and 2005. Realistically, Splinter probably didn’t know how much older Raph was from any of the others or anything like that, but the years are still somewhat important for age calculation purposes. I could try to guess their birthday months by saying they might all have wanted a unique birthday month, but that would be complete conjecture on my part (as compared to the rest of this which is just mostly conjecture), and would honestly be more headcanon territory than an educated guess? So for the timeline I’ll just say that their birthdays are between April and August.
Now, reaching further backwards to figure out Splinter’s life timeline!
In Splinter’s memories in E-turtle Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, we see a clip of a teenage Splinter. Said “teenage splinter” looks to be on the older side of teenager, as he seems to have his own apartment and just looks older besides, so I’d place him at either 18 or 19 (leaning towards 19). Additionally, taking a look around his room, it looks like he might be using a Sony Walkman (first made in 1979), and has what looks to be a Star Wars poster on his wall (1977). Additionally, he has a TV in his room that looks to be a Toshiba Blackstripe model that was popular in the mid-to-late 70s. While I can’t tell if he does actually have a walkman or not, I’d probably place this scene as being 1978 or 1979 anyway, so let’s just say it’s 1979. If he was 19 in 1979, that would place Splinter’s birth year as 1960, which is nice and even so I’m keeping it. That would make Splinter 58-59 during the course of the show, which seems to track! He has a birthday in Mascot Melee (the turtles are buying him a new robe as a birthday present), which, according to my episode timeline, puts his birthday around early September.
The flashback of Splinter as a kid is a little bit tricky, since he looks to be about five or six judging by how he acts in the scene? But he’s also holding a Kamen Rider doll, and that show didn’t exist until 1971. I nonetheless place the scene in 1966, since this is a cartoon and hey, maybe the Kamen Rider equivalent came out a few years earlier in this world, who cares. The bottle flip challenge already apparently happened in 2014 here, why not move some other stuff around? This exercise has already had me comparing calendar days, I will not be deterred
In Many Unhappy Returns, the clapperboard for the film “Crouching Shrimp, Hidden Tiger Prawn” in Splinter’s flashback shows that it was 1984 when he first met Big Mama, meaning that he was not only Lou Jitsu by then (at just 24 years old!), but that he had been making movies for at least a few years. After all, he and Big Mama were supposedly inseparable after meeting, and in The Shadow of Evil, it’s shown that Splinter did date around a bit as a star. Assuming that rat dad isn’t the cheating type, that would have had to be before meeting Big Mama. In Fists of Furry, Splinter mentions that he hasn’t seen any of his dojos in thirty years; while he may not have meant literally thirty years on the dot, assuming he’s at least close, that would mean that he was first abducted around 1989 (age 29). At that point, he and Big Mama would have been dating for around 5 years, which seems like a reasonable amount of time for him to wait before proposing. He also would have had time to build up quite a bit of fame as a movie star; the game he had of him looks to be on a system similar to the Atari 2600 and in fact looks pretty similar to the real life game “Kung Fu Master” that came out on Atari in 1987, a year which would have been the prime of his career. Sure, that date works as well as any. After that point, we know he was imprisoned in the Battle Nexus until Baron Draxum kidnapped him in order to use his DNA to mutate the turtles 13 years before The Evil League of Mutants. That would have placed his kidnapping and their mutations at around October of 2005, judging by the monthly timeline of the show. So, Splinter would have been around 45 when he adopted the turtles, after having been imprisoned and forced to fight for ~16 straight years. Dang.
Finally, I figured that the whole deal with Shredder and Karai would have happened at some point in the 1600s as it was 18 generations ago, judging by the number of “greats” in Karai’s grandma title, and if you average out a generation to be about 20-25 years, that lands you in the range of the 15th century. That works especially because Ninja apparently first started becoming a thing in the 15th century, so the timing checks out well enough.
(and, just as an extra fun note for the timeline, the lair games was said to have been going on for 6 years as of early 2019, meaning it must have started in 2014. We see that, in 2014 (year 1 of the Lair Games), Donnie doesn’t have his goggles or battleshell and is instead wearing glasses. In 2016 (year 3), though, he looks about the same as he does in the present, meaning he must have created all his tech that he wears on him (battleshell, goggles, tech bracer) between 2014 and 2016.)
So, the above timeline is a guesstimated and shoved around compilation of all this totally meaningless investigation, typed in a form that makes some kind of chronological sense! I hope that someone finds it useful, or just fun to think about :D
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sooibian · 11 months ago
Flambé - II
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pairing: kyungsoo x fem!reader ft. baekhyun, chanyeol, mark lee
description: pull up a chair. take a taste. come join us. life is so endlessly delicious. - ruth reichl
themes: fluff, crack-ish, slight angst, a lil bit of spice, rivals to lovers au, kyungsoo best boyfriend, husband, business partner!! an unnecessary lecture on molecular gastronomy :)
word count: 10.4k
a/n: really hope you enjoy because i had an absolute blast writing this and a big, big thank you to those of you who came along for the ride!!! i look forward to your comments!
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“He is SoulEats!”
You emphatically whisper into Imo’s ear while she’s adding an assortment of mussels, littleneck clams, prawns, and squid to the red hot simmering wok of Jjampong.
“Yah! Get out of my face and stop playing detective or else I’ll send Baekhyun back to Bucheon.”
Baekhyun was now Imo’s weapon. She used him every time she needed to wring something out of you but you were well aware she wouldn’t send Baekhyun home. She couldn’t afford it at this stage. Yet for her sake you let her believe she held that power over you.
“What did Baekhyun do?” You coyly retreat to your station to help a sullen Kyungsoo with Matang.
Roughly chopping sweet potatoes into chunks, you continue to harp on about the man who came in everyday exactly at noon, ordered exactly one entree, the same thing everyday - Matang, held the table too long and tipped well.
Baekhyun and you suspect he’s SoulEats, the anonymous food expert and reviewer. Have your restaurant reviewed by SoulEats and that was it. You had arrived, so to speak.
The overwhelming evidence at hand was a glimpse at his screen, that both you and Baekhyun caught while he was editing his blog.
How was this not exciting for either Imo or Kyungsoo?
Kyungsoo’s preparing the caramelized coating syrup while you’re frying sweet potatoes, the intense crackling of hot oil obscuring his rather soft, “Sajangnim.”
“Sajangnim?”, he repeats a little cautiously. He’s always had a thing about not disturbing her when she’s in chef mode. Little did he know, it was this hesitance of his that annoyed her a great deal. But she refrains from giving a piece of her mind to her treasured pet.
“Yes, Kyungsoo?”
“I think it’s rude of us to be snooping around customers. It might make them uncomfortable.”
“Kyungsooyah -”
“Imo!” You interrupt.
“Aegiya -” she sighs disdainfully.
“Is it really snooping if one happens to unintentionally catch a glimpse of something?”
“I’m right here, you know?” Taunts Kyungsoo, coating the batch of freshly fried sweet potato with caramel syrup.
Purposely getting in his way to sprinkle black sesame seeds onto the dish, you huff, “You’re one to talk!”
Imo starts humming a pleasant tune.
“EOMMA!”** **
Dropping the pail of dirty laundry on the floor, you rush out of the storage room at the sound of her unrestrained, infectious laughter and squeeze her into a hug.
“Eomma! Eomma! Eomma!”
Cheeks streaming with tears, you twirl her around joyously.
“Why didn’t you tell me you were coming! When did you get here? Where’s your luggage? Have you eaten? Ah, Eomma I’ve missed you!” You rant, dissolving into a deluge of sobs.
The restaurant is at least an hour from opening so the premises is pretty much your playground.
“Yah! Don’t act like a baby!” Your mother chides, pulling you into a bear hug. Sniffling, and patting the top of your head that’s buried in her familiar warm and cuddly frame.
“But I am your baby.”
“You’re daydreaming.” Kyungsoo announces.
Mouth agape, your eyes flit between him and the frying pan in which vegetable fritters, you swear were golden-brown just a second ago, had turned a disagreeable shade of brownish-red.
He carefully draws the tongs out of your right hand. The slight brush of his fingers against your wrist shooting startling sparks of electricity down your spine. You try to ignore this. And these…feelings. You’ve never weighed them as important in the grand scheme of things, case in point being your much turbulent history with Kyungsoo. Whatever either of you did or felt now was in no way going to mend the past. Grand scheme of things, you think, what was that even supposed to mean for you?
Maybe you’d just live and die working here with Imo. That was your big plan.
You feel the grip of his hands strengthen around your shoulders. Gentle, yet firm. More electric sparks, making you jumpy.
Literally. Causing you to let out an outlandish squeak.
“Sorry”, he mumbles, “I’ve been asking you to get out the way but you’re firmly planted to the ground…like a wise old oak tree. Except, you’re not wise.”
He proceeds to discard the unuseable batch of fritters.
“What?” You exclaim, tugging the pockets of your very green khaki jumpsuit. Wise old oak tree?
“Just…go sit with your mother. Send Baekhyun in. We’ll make do without you for the day.”
“This feels like a deal with the devil kind of a thing.”
His ears turn the shade of overdone fritters.
“I don’t need my kitchen to go up in flames.” He deadpans, layering a fresh batch of vegetables with batter.
“This does not give you the carte blanche to push me around forever.”
“Did I ever stop?”
“Aegiya, you’re Kyungsoo, right?”
Your mother grabs a hold of Kyungsoo’s wrist as he carefully places the bowl of Kalguksu in front of her. You notice Baekhyun’s tending to another table.
This is quite unlike Kyungsoo.
Sending Baekhyun to wait on other guests while he’s here, making it awkward for everyone, especially you. You’ve chomped your mother’s ears by endlessly complaining about the man ever since he started working with you. She’d once remarked how all of your phone calls began and ended with his name. You’re pretty sure she has a less than favourable opinion of him which makes you introspect every word you ever uttered against Kyungsoo.
Yet, he’s here, confidently flashing his trademark ‘all mothers love me more than they do they’re own children’ smile. He pulls a chair to sit between the both of you. Uninvited.
“I hope I’m not imposing.”
“Chef, Imo is alone in the kitchen. Am I expected to go help?”
“No.” He smiles.
“No?” You gleam, eyes wide and distrustful.
“No, she’ll be okay there’s not much to do.” He deadpans.
From the corner of your eye, you notice your mother’s smile shrink by the second during this exacted polite exchange.
“Omoni, how did you like the fritters?”
“Crunchy. Just the way I like them”, she tilts her head in a motherly, affectionate manner. Lips stretched in a motherly, affectionate smile.
His voice drops in awe, “Wah! You’re a connoisseur.”
Doh Kyungsoo did not just laud your mother for calling fritters ‘crunchy’! It’s like saying ice is cold or the sky is blue or sugar is sweet.
Your mother further relaxes in her chair, pride painted across her face, “I’ve heard a lot about you.”
“Only good things I hope?”
Starving and salivating, you pull the bowl of the now going cold Kalguksu to your end of the table only to receive a harsh swat on the back of your hand from Kyungsoo who pushes the bowl towards your mother instead.
“Omoni, please try the soup.”
“Of course, Kyungsooyah.”
With a loud slurp, she exclaims, “Delicious!”
“Like I said, a connoisseur.”
“What a delightful young man!”
Grinning, Kyungsoo shakes his head in mock objection the way he does every time he receives any kind of praise.
She leans forward, with that unmistakable sparkle in her eyes and starts to get nosy, “Do you have a wife?”
Absolutely shell-shocked, you scurry for damage control, “Eomma, that’s none of our bus -”
“No”, Kyungsoo giggles in response like a teenager.
“A girlfriend, then?”
“Eomma!” You exclaim, tightly gripping your mother’s elbow, begging her to stop.
And on the other hand, Kyungsoo continues to indulge her, “I’m as single as they come.”
“Why, a handsome and successful guy like you -”
“Maybe it’s his personality”, you finally decide to contribute to the conversation.
“My personality?” Kyungsoo shoots you a glare and asks through gritted teeth.
“Honestly? You could scare a demon away. Which makes me think, have you considered a career as a shaman?”
Kyungsoo’s jaw goes slack and an awkward silence follows. Your mother defuses the situation with a fit of fake boisterous laughter, “She’s always been a blabbermouth, this one.”
“Must’ve gotten herself in a lot of trouble…” Kyungsoo mumbles, lips stretched into a thin line.
“Often, yes. But she’s a good kid, very responsible. I’m proud of my little bird.”
“As you should be”, Kyungsoo smiles. This smile of his is a rare commodity - it’s genuine.
Your mother muses before using her dulcet voice to speak again, “Kyungsooyah, Bucheon is hardly an hour’s drive from here. You should come home sometime. Bring this one along, too. She hasn’t visited me in months! Not as good as my sister, but I’m a half decent cook.”
“Nonsense! Eomma you’re brilliant. Chef, she’s taught me everything I know. Imo would’ve never accepted a complete amateur.” You argue rather aggressively invoking yet another fit of laughter from your mother.
“She flatters me. After my husband passed, she helped me a great deal without ever having to ask. And she was only ten at the time! I’d come home to freshly cooked meals and forget all about life’s hardships. I could taste abundant love in all of her dishes. Even the less impressive ones -”
You’re at the edge of your seat out of embarrassment, reading Kyungsoo’s face through tentative glances only to catch a stoic man with all of his attention focused on your mother’s sudden surge of sentiments.
“Eomma, I think that’s enough.”
Wrapping an arm around her in comfort, you finally bring yourself to speak but your mother far too deep in the bottomless ocean of nostalgia and bittersweet memories to take notice.
“Kyungsooyah”, she tenderly places a hand atop Kyungsoo’s, “I know she spews a lot of nonsense, but she truly admires you and has a good heart. Take care of her, yes?“
His hands are tightly glued together and you notice the top of his ears go scarlet.
He didn’t ask for any of this. He didn’t ask to be acquainted with the overly emotional mother. Just the normal, ‘fritters are crunchy’ one. Feeling sorry for him, you act upon your first instinct to apologize.
Unheeding, he responds to your mother instead, “I will, Omoni. You don’t have to worry.”
“I didn’t know about your father.”
Kyungsoo tries his best to lay off the apology in his tone and succeeds to a great extent. The sharp sound of his knife blade sliding against the steel sharpener in steady motion pervades the kitchen while you’re segregating waste.
“I didn’t know about your École Ducasse diploma. What was it? Contemporary Gastronomy Signature Program?”
As per usual, Kyungsoo stays mum, shying away from his accomplishments as if they were just handed to him on a platter and he didn’t earn them with grit, determination, and discipline.
“Baekhyun?” He’s curious about your source of information, instead.
“Baekhyun. It’s surprising he knows more about you than I ever managed to learn in….what’s it been? Nearly two years?”
“Mmm…Twenty two months precisely.”
“I’m kinda mad Chef, that you’d tell Baekhyun and not me.”
“He’s easy to get along with.”
“And I am–”
He says, pointing the knife at you, “You could scare a demon away.”, and immediately goes back to sharpening it.
“Ha-ha! Do better. Why?”
Halting abruptly - knife halfway down the length of the vertically held sharpener - he looks down at you with a quizzical ‘hmm?’
“Why are you here, I mean. You could be anywhere. France, Italy, Japan?”
He laughs.
It’s the texture of a crème brûlée, his voice - rich custard base topped with a contrasting layer of hardened caramelized sugar. Preciously placing his knife and sharpener back in their sheath, he moseys over to help you with packaging waste and glass bottles.
Accustomed to being in closed, stuffy environments with him - Gwangjang, Gangnam, the past two months have been unusually difficult for you.
A dainty brush of his hands against your skin had started to feel like fizzy flickers of light.
You’re both on the floor, hunched over garbage. The odour is less than pleasant.
But this closeness radiates a warmth that’s akin to giving your insides a hug with homemade soup on a chilly day. Your mind feels comfortably encased in this warmth. If you had it your way, you would probably spend the entire day with him just…segregating waste.
“I’d like to show you someday”, he startles you again with that voice of his.
“Hmm?” You scoot away from him a little, suddenly wary of the scent of compost on you.
“I’d really like to show you why I’m here when we have the chance but simplistically speaking, I like it here.”
“What is it that you like?” You hand him an empty bottle of soju, held by fingers gingerly clasped around its mouth. He grabs the bottle by it’s base.
“I like Imo, Baekhyun…you. The fact that Baekhyun’s still here - I know he says that he’s bored of Bucheon and that he has people running his academy for him so he doesn’t have to worry - but it’s really the sense of community. He’s here because he knows that Sajangnim still needs someone she can trust. I truly appreciate the kind of freedom we have here…the space to experiment. I’ve learnt so much from Sajangnim…and…you.”
“There’s something to learn from everybody.” He says nonchalantly.
“Of course”, you mask the dejection in your voice by bringing a shift in the subject, “Okay, I’m still not convinced so, when will you show me?”
“When I think it’s time.”
“I’m going to ask him today.”
“Go for it, Dooly!”
“I’ll ship Baekhyun back to Bucheon!”
“Dooly, don’t!”
Kyungsoo brings you SoulEats’ (or the man who you think is SoulEats) order of candied sweet potatoes and asks, “Do you really want to do this?”
“Yes, Chef.”
“Let’s find out.”
“Kyungsooyah, stop!” Imo urgently clutches at his arm and shoots him a look of pure confusion.
“Sajangnim, what’s the worst that could happen? He comes in everyday during lunch hour, holds the table for a considerably long time. And what does he order? A portion of Matang. We allow this only because she thinks he’s SoulEats. So let’s find out. If he is indeed SoulEats, he better give us a review. If he’s not, hello to ‘improved table turnover rate’.”
This seemed to be a convincing enough argument for Imo who approves with a very slight nod.
You walk over to the man’s table, excitement bubbling in your belly, “Sir, here’s your order.”
As always he says thank you in a voice that’s a little attenuated for a man his size. But today you stall - hovering around him - a fidgety Kyungsoo by your side.
“Can I help you?” The balding man with perfect teeth looks over his laptop, eyes flitting between an effervescent you and a nervous Kyungsoo.
Kyungsoo and you say in unison.
“Sir”, begins Kyungsoo, “how do you like the Matang?”
Annoyed, you kick the back of his leg, causing him to wince. Not bothering with the man’s very obvious answer, “Are you SoulEats?” you ask instead.
He smiles.
“So you are SoulEats!” Uninvited, you sit down at his table, your partner in crime grudgingly taking the seat next to you.
“She’s just a fan of yours”, Kyungsoo tugs at your arm, wordlessly begging to abort mission.
“Say, I am SoulEats, what do you want from me?” He directs his question at you.
“The obvious?” You confidently lean back into your seat as if in a drama, negotiating one of those fancy company buyouts.
“I won’t do it.”
“Why not?” Kyungsoo and you, again, revolt in unison.
“Because I like it here.”
“You like it here but won’t give us a review? Why’s that?!” Absolutely enraged, Kyungsoo protests
The man only laughs at Kyungsoo’s desperation. “You see the neverending line outside Tosokchon, Goryeo Samgyetang, Hadongkwan Myeondong? I made that happen. It’s unfair when I think that it is me who now has to struggle to get a reservation at these places.” With a click of the tongue, he digs a chopstick into a chunk of sweet potato. “Ah! Beautiful”, he sighs. “Do you know why I order Matang everyday?”
This guy sure loves to talk about himself. But you’ve been curious nonetheless. Although crestfallen, you still urge him to go on with a nod.
“My mother made it for me every time I did something she was proud of - like getting good grades or quitting my boring desk job to start a food review blog. She passed away last year and ever since I’ve been on a rather rabid hunt for a Matang that -” he gestures vaguely with his hands, “that…brought back those memories. What you serve here comes pretty close.”
Tongue tied, Kyungsoo and you exchange an awkward glance.
After a rich pause, SoulEats lightens the atmosphere by saying, “Don’t be so greedy, you’re doing quite well for a young restaurant. Bring me a fresh portion, this one’s gone soggy because of your useless chatter. I suggest you make it complimentary, if you want a review someday.”
“Review or no review, you’ll never have to pay for Matang here.” Kyungsoo gets up, courtesies and disappears into the kitchen.
“Your husband’s a clever man”, he says to you jocularly.
Laughing defensively, you say, “He’s not my husband! Far from it actually. We’re not even friends!”
“I’m nothing if not observant. I see the way he looks at you. And he looks at you all the time.”
Six months later
“Not bad”, Imo nods enthusiastically at the numbers on the register.
Not bad didn’t mean you were making a lot of money but you weren’t losing any either. This curve, you thought, would never come. The three of you finally made it to the other side and if things continued at this rate, the restaurant would soon start making profits.
But you know what this meant for you.
Baekhyun would go back to Bucheon. And although Choi Yoonsun’s could now afford additional help, it would be just the three of you again. At least for a while.
Baekhyun’s farewell dinner at Imo’s house consists of his favourites - Hawaiin pizza, chicken wings, and cider. You can’t stomach it: him leaving, that is, more than his choice of pizza. Kyungsoo doesn’t seem to be greatly enjoying himself either. Maybe he’s upset, too. Maybe he’s not and this is nothing more than just wishful thinking.
He catches you staring and to your utter surprise, he gently taps the back of your hand and gives you a reassuring nod.
After a quiet dinner, Baekhyun’s the first to get up. He’s not one for tearful goodbyes. Imo’s barely holding it in and Kyungsoo’s impassive per usual.
Imo, almost urgently, wraps her arms around Baekhyun’s broad frame and he seems to condense under this heavy-handed affection. He laughs a little too loudly, “Imo, Imo, Imo…. I love you. Take care of yourself okay? And promise me you’ll stop overworking?”
Imo sniffles and hums in response.
“Stay beautiful”, he says with a wide boxy grin and kisses her forehead.
“I’ll miss you”, you nearly cry as Baekhyun pulls you into a warm and comforting embrace.
“Yah! Bucheon isn’t all that far. You know you can come see me anytime, right?”
Resting his chin atop your head, he cradles you in his arms.
“I know, but we get so busy and then we hardly ever get to see each other”, despite your firm resolve, you break into full blown sobs.
“Awww, Doolyah…”, his eyes moisten as he softly dabs the tears off your cheeks, “you have a lot of potential. Don’t let it go to waste, okay?”
“Yah! It’s not like he’s moving to another country!” Kyungsoo suddenly lambasts the sobfest and ends up being the only one laughing at his own joke.
When it’s Kyungsoo’s turn to say goodbye, the two men nod at each other and proceed to shake hands. Kyungsoo pulls Baekhyun in for a kind of a hug that’s very typical to the male community and it lasts for an uncomfortable minute or two longer. You almost have half a mind to bark Kyungsoo’s well meaning yet ill-timed joke back at him but you choose to count to five instead.
To you it was rather alarming that you could now do without the morning alarm.
Because, this was one of your symptoms.
There was a boy in eighth grade that you liked. Really liked. He’d be one of the firsts to arrive in class everyday, so you started following suit to snatch those few extra minutes with him every morning. You’d wake up an hour earlier than usual (very much to your mother’s surprise), put a little extra effort in your appearance which involved nicking her favourite shade of red lipstick and applying it with a frugal hand on your lips, smudging it along the cheekbones. You’d also allow yourself an additional touch of perfume and adorn your hair with brightly coloured bobby pins.
As a grown up, although using your own products, the rush you’ve been feeling every morning is akin to stealing from your mother as a little girl.
“You’re early!”
Kyungsoo and you accuse each other simultaneously.
“Umm - ”
“So - ”
“You first”, you offer, walking alongside him. Pace leisurely. The golden glow from the morning sky accentuating his striking features and dewy skin.
The sweet smile blossoming across his face literally throws you off balance. Although startled, he’s quick to grab your elbow and steady you, “You alright?”
“A misstep”, you grin awkwardly, “What were you saying, Chef?”
“Two things. No, three. Actually…four.”
“I’m all ears”, you chuckle.
“First, how about you stop calling me Chef?”
“What do you want me to call you then?”
Parking the cart to the side, he says, dramatically extending his arm, “Hi, I’m Doh Kyungsoo, pleased to meet you.”
Taking his hand in yours you deadpan, “Hi, Kyungsoo. I’m __, and I do not have a death wish.”
Growing irate, he looks up to the sky, “You’re difficult, you know that?”
“I’m also very serious. Suddenly?”
“You’re not the brightest, are you?”
“Tell me why.”
Worrying at his lower lip, he studies your face intently before admitting, “Because I was being stupid and stubborn and slightly insecure.”
“Can we move on?”
“Not unless I have all my answers.”
He sighs and looks you square in the eyes, “Okay. Sajangnim and you seemed so tight I thought I’d never be able to carve out a niche for myself.”
“Funny you’d think that Mr. École Ducasse. Don’t you know you’re amazing!”
“So are you.”
“You think so? Then why do you hate me?”
“Yah! I don’t hate you anymore. In fact, I never did. It’s just that I mistook your easy going attitude for carelessness. Also because you slathered ketchup all over the pajeon I cooked you the very first time we met, straight up butchering its flavours!”
“Sorry, not sorry. I love ketchup. And you’ve held this against me for the longest time. You literally let that one incident define our entire working relationship. A bit childish don’t you think?”
“And you walk around with a halo around your head, right?”
Clearing your throat, you ask, “Okay, Chef…No, Kyungsoo! What’s the next item on our agenda?”
Gaze locked with yours, he says, “I’d like to apologize for the way I acted on inspection day -”
“Kyungsoo, let’s just -”
“No, I was shallow, and stubborn, and again, a little insecure.”
“Forget about it.”
“Do you forgive me? Can we put this behind us?”
“Yes. Yes, I forgive you. I was never mad - no I was mad but I realize I overstepped and God! I never wanna talk about it again. Please. Number? What was it? Number three?” Impatient, you rush him out of the awkward and hurtful conversation.
“Are you sure?” Kyungsoo still asks. Slow and deliberate.
“Thank you. How are you holding up? You must really miss Baekhyun”, he maneuvers the cart comfortably in the narrow street leading up to the market. He’s been managing the ingredient load since the past few weeks and even getting coffee with you after every other day. You often feel like asking him the reason for his sudden change of heart but you know you’re not entirely prepared for his answer.
“I do miss him a lot. Especially during the weekends when it gets too busy. You know how he was so fun. Playing and joking around all the time.” You chime, now skip-walking.
He responds with a meaningful nod, “I miss him, too. We should go down to Bucheon someday to see him, no?”
“Of course, He’d like that”, you smile, “What’s the final point, Doh Kyungsoo-ssi?”
“The final point is, remember when you asked me why I’m here if I could be working anywhere else?”
“And you said you’d show me?”
“Would you like to see?”
“Umm…okay, sure.”
“My place. After closing? It’s a date.”
His words send your heart into a frenzy. Were you imagining this? Did Doh Kyungsoo actually say ‘It’s a date’?
Jaw slack, you stare at him, devastatingly confused. He smiles shyly, rubbing the outer corner of his eye like he does everytime Imo praises him or when your mother once called him handsome and successful.
It’s a date.
“What can I do you for?” Hands on hips, you ask your pain in the neck regular, Mark Lee.
“Nice to meet you, too. Where’d the hot dude go?” He scowls.
“Hot dude? How come I was never introduced?”
“You know who I mean! Ugh I don’t even know why I bother - ”, you relish being the cause of his annoyance. Mark Lee’s the younger brother you never had. Studying the already limited menu meticulously he looks up and asks, “What’s the chef’s recommendation?”
“Oh, you really don’t wanna know. Also, whatever happened to Mr. Egg Sandwich and Watermelon Juice? Where’s the real Mark Lee?”
“Look, you gotta help me out here. My boss -”
“Yes! Park Chanyeol will be here soon and I want to make a good impression. You see”, his voice drops to a scandalous whisper and you quickly slip into the chair next to his, “he was dating the manager of the cafe down the street?”
“Yes! He’d dine there everyday but they broke up a month ago and ever since he’s drowned himself in work and dude! I’m his new best friend because no one stays back longer in the office than I do!”
“And you seem awfully pleased with yourself.”
“Please, noona!”
“Noona?” You giggle. “When did that happen?”
“Please, please, please. Now’s my chance to earn some brownie points with him.”
“Preying on the weak, hmm. Let me see what I can do.”
Kyungsoo and you decide to start off Mark Lee and his guest of honour Park Chayeol with Imo’s famous Kimchi Mandu. While you knew perfectly well that Park Chanyeol ticks all the points on the handsome checklist - he’s tall, blessed with stunning proportions, is always well dressed, is polite and well-mannered, the moment he says hello back, you realize how breathtaking he is.
“Hello -” flustered, you repeat and kick yourself mentally.
“It’s nice to see the restaurant doing so well”, he grins, flashing the perfect smile and hands you a delicate assortment of pink and white flowers out of which you honestly recognize none.
“For me?”
“I didn’t bring anything to the opening so I thought - ”
“Oh, as long as you settled the tab, we’re okay.” You dismiss Chanyeol with the wave of a hand and laugh hysterically at your own joke causing Mark to give his forehead a loud smack.
Chanyeol giggles away the embarrassment, “No, yeah, I mean, yes of course”, he clears his throat, “of course I did, yes.”
“Super! I’ll go inside and bring you more yummy food. Please, enjoy.”
You turn back around to find Kyungsoo standing a few feet away with arms crossed over a puffed out chest, brows pinched together, lower lip caught between his teeth, looking like an angry chick in the darned bright yellow apron which hasn’t seemed to dull even after so many washes.
Head down, you retreat into the kitchen and he follows closely behind. You dunk the flowers in the compost bin and proceed to plate Yukhoe for the dapper consultants.
As if on cue, Kyungsoo asks, “Why did you do that?”
“Do what?” You feign innocence, eyes trained on the beef fillet.
“Don’t pretend. The flowers?”
“I’m allergic?”
Averting his gaze, you’re almost out the kitchen with the entree but he still continues to argue, “Allergic? I saw you sniffing them.”
“Not to the flowers.” You spin on your heels and look him square in the eyes.
A look of relief descends in his eyes. Hesitating, he barely nods, shifting his weight from foot to foot. “We’re - we’re still on for tonight, right?”
“Oh, Kyungsoo”, letting out a deep sigh you turn back around.
“Hyun Jin has something important to talk about and he wants the two of you there. Do you mind joining us for dinner?”
It’s thirty minutes to closing.
Kyungsoo and you had spent all of post lunch exchanging furtive glances to gauge the other’s frame of mind. Your ceaseless questions about what you were going to do after were met with crisp responses (and empty threats) such as: You’ll see later, Why don’t you go ask Park Chanyeol? Patience is clearly not your best virtue, Annoy me one more time and I’ll have you fired.
Barely minutes to closing and Imo pops this question.
She observes your sullen faces with confusion written all over hers.
You eye Kyungsoo almost apologetically. Pursing his lips, he gives you a curt nod.
“I’ll be there, Imo”, you say through gritted teeth.
Kyungsoo accepts Imo’s invitation with a forced smile.
In addition to an irked aura you bring with yourself a box of couture chocolates for cousin Hyunjin.
Kyungsoo meets you at the front gate of Imo’s apartment complex. Dressed exquisitely in a white polo neck jumper, black dress pants and a black overcoat, he is carrying a similar white box from the chocolate store down the street, Coco Bruni.
“Pralines?” You enquire.
He hums, “You know he likes them best.”
Fidgeting with the metallic strap of your black clutch you start to whine, eyes trained on Kyungsoo’s black loafers, “I’m so bored, I just wanna go home.”
“Home?” He asks, dejection betraying his voice.
“To - to your…house, I mean.” You stammer.
Kyungsoo wraps a bold arm around your shoulders and you instinctively snuggle closer. Enshrouded in a caramel warmth, you’re walking together at a snail’s pace. Oh, to stay like this forever, you think to yourself. It’s incomprehensible, beyond language, the way Kyungsoo makes you feel. It’s like being caught in a whirlpool of overwhelming joy with the sweetest melancholy tugging at your heartstrings. His grip on you strengthens and he allows for a few more moments of tranquility before letting out a throaty laugh, “We’re running late. And uh–”
“You look pretty.” He says, looking straight ahead at nothing in particular. If you were still standing on your own two feet it was only because he’d held you up.
You’re curious about what exactly he finds pretty. Is it the peach coloured dress? Or the way your hair falls in waves down your shoulders? Or the winged eyeliner you tried so hard to master only to fail miserably?
“I just uh- grabbed this out of the laundry bag and….it’s not even ironed -” You blurt out, instead.
His hand finds the small of your back, guiding you into the elevator. “You make the dress look pretty.”
Dinner went about as usual with the same old banter involving the restaurant, Hyunjin’s job at Four Seasons, how the bank’s kept Hyunwoo so busy, and how everyone misses Baekhyun.
It was infuriating because you could’ve been alone with Kyungsoo listening to him explain why he chose to work at Choi Yoonsun’s instead of conquering the culinary world. All of that in his dulcet voice.
“Hyunjin oppa, what is it? The suspense is killing me! Also, this’ll probably sound stupid coming now but aren’t you supposed to be at work?” You break at last.
The box of Coco Bruni being passed around halts abruptly somewhere between Imo and Kyungsoo and three pairs of eyes land on you.
Hyunjin laughs aloud. “Are you ready?”
“Since yesterday”, you snap, earning a glare from Imo. Kyungsoo squeezes your hand under the table, wordlessly asking you to shut up.
“I have some big news.”
“Go on, Hyunjinah”, a curious Imo persuades her son.
Hyunjin half speaks, half exhales, “I got offered the Executive Chef position at the Lotte Hotel, Jeju and I start in six months.”
“Oppa, that’s amazing!” You exclaim.
“Congratulations, Hyung!” Kyungsoo beams, lifting his wine glass in half salute to Hyunjin.
In the face of fanfare, Imo’s silent. The ripple effect of which brings down the collective energy level of the table.
“Eomma…”, says Hyunjin, gently stroking his mother’s hand.
She merely sighs in response, blinking furiously to fight back tears.
Hyunjin is Imo’s favourite son.
She never admits to it and she never will but everybody knows. Even Hyunwoo. While Hyunwoo followed in his father’s footsteps, Hyunjin was part of Imo’s personal fanbase. He took after her and her passion for food and earned a name for himself in the culinary circles of Seoul.
“Eomma, come with me.” He says with a sudden spurt of confidence in his voice.
“What do you mean? The restaurant’s so young! How can I leave? Besides, what in the world would I do in Jeju?”
“Write your book, what else is left to do? There will always be something or the other holding you back. This is it, Eomma. Retire. Might I add, Jeju is the ideal location.”
Feeling like intruders in an intimate family discussion, Kyungsoo and you look at each other utterly confused. Has Hyunjin asked you here to assure Imo that you were okay with the restaurant closing down? Although you’re more than happy for him, your mouth is filled with a bitter taste. And it’s not the chocolate.
“A book?” You can’t help but ask.
“It’s been a dream of hers to write a recipe book.” Hyunjin answers, eyes transfixed on his mother’s still, cogitate frame.
“Sajangnim”, Kyungsoo starts delicately, “you don’t have to worry about us…”
“Kyungsooyah!”, she bellows, “The two of you are as precious to me as Hyunjin and Hyunwoo. I’ll need some time to think about this but be rest assured, I will never jeopardize your careers.”
“That was…” says Kyungsoo as soon as you’re out of the apartment complex, face clouded over in uncertainty.
“Quite something, yeah. So, it’s nearing midnight. I think I should rush else I’ll miss the last bus home -” You vaguely gesture towards the end of the street.
“Erm, why don’t you come home with me?” His words are calm but panic betrays his voice.
“Kyungsoo?” You draw his name out in a question, closing your hands tightly around your frame to steady yourself as he hits you with this proposition.
“We can still go through with our original plan so what if it’s a couple hours late? The thing is”, he exhales sharply and rests his hands on his hips, “I’m done dilly dallying…I don’t want to play this game anymore. After tonight, we both don’t know what the future holds so let me just say it now -”
Your throat seizes up and you wipe your sweaty hands on your skirt before he takes them in his. Crinkling your nose, you purse your lips to stifle a grin. You intertwine your fingers with his and ask, “You’re not gonna ask me to marry you, are you?“
“No…not yet.” He coos, pulling you closer.
You click your tongue in disapproval. “Colour me disappointed.”
“I like you, __. I really, really do. And unless I’m really dense, I think you like me too. If you really want to go home, I’ll drive you. But I’d really like for you to come to my place because it’s closer and I’m far too exhausted to drive to yours.”
Giggling, you continue to tease Kyungsoo, “That’s a lot of reallys. Besides, I’m not carrying an overnight bag.”
“We’ll pick up all the stuff you’ll need from the chemist’s and you can borrow my clothes for the night.” He says with a finality in his tone and with your arm linked with his, you’re already walking towards his car.
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Kyungsoo’s house is exactly the way you’d expected it to be.
Distinguished by its unspoilt simplicity.
The living room is furnished with a tan Lawson sofa, there’s a carpet of a complementary shade underneath the coffee table, a rustic ceramic vase sits in the opposite corner alongside a huge plasma TV that’s fixed to the wall.
He has an L shaped, open plan kitchen with corner cabinetry - which is usually tricky - actually done right. Functional, and clean.
Kyungsoo helps you out of your coat and then hands you a cup of warm ginger tea while you’re busy admiring his cutlery tray.
“What do you think?”
“It’s a beautiful kitchen, Kyungsoo. So why are we here?” You ask, sipping on the tea.
“To cook.”
“You can’t be possibly serious! After a twelve hour workday? I’m exhausted!”
“I’ll do most of it, don’t worry.”
In a flash he brings out a heavy bottom saucepan, a mason jar filled to the brim with an orange-ish red liquid, and a translucent bottle of white powder.
He pours about a fourth of the liquid into the saucepan and throws in a tablespoon of the white powder, allowing the mixture to simmer while stirring continuously with a whisk. As soon as he notices that you’re done with your tea, he asks you to stir the mixture for him while he moves to fill another pot with ice water.
What comes out of his top drawer next is a huge injection and a very thin wire which he uncurls and immerses into the pot of ice water.
When the liquid comes to a boil, he asks you to stop stirring and lowers the flame.
“Very Breaking Bad in here, Soo.”
“Soo?” He cocks an eyebrow at the pet name, a smirk playing at his lips. He then proceeds to draw the thick liquid into the injection and shoots it in the thin wire resting in the ice bath.
“What did we just do, Professor?”
“Class, for your first lesson on molecular gastronomy, we’re going to be making kimchi noodles.”
“But I don’t like chemical-y food. Soo!” You protest.
“Soo?” He asks again, in the manner of poking fun at you.
“How old are you?” You chastise.
“Of age.” He nods, playfully patting the top of your head.
“Gah! Okay explain what we just did.”
“Do you recognize this liquid?”
“Of course, it’s kimchi juice.”
“Great! And the powder?”
“Some sort of a binder? My best guess is something like gelatin?”
“Pretty close! It’s agar powder. It comes from seaweed and at the right temperature, it helps congeal liquid. Like you just said, it basically acts as a catalyst for body and binding. In this case, once we’d achieved the desired consistency with the liquid, we injected it into that slim silicon tube which obviously helps with the shape and the ice cold water gives it a noodle-like elasticity and firmness.”
After a few minutes, he injects air into the silicon tube and what comes out of the other end is the perfect kimchi noodle.
“I still don’t get it.”
“It’s a pretty simple technique -”
“No, Soo! I get the process. What I don’t get is that you’re capable of such incredible stuff why are you at Choi Yoosun’s?”
“My baby, that’s because -”
“Baby?” You take it as your cue to defeat him in his own game.
A frown makes it’s way to his face and he whines, “I thought we were doing pet names.”
“Touché. Go on.”
“Okay so Sajangnim is all about cooking the traditional way, right? To be able to do this.. and by this I mean molecular gastronomy, I need to understand ingredients closely: taste, texture, and all that jazz. Only then can I reformulate textures, maximise flavours and modify sensory experiences derived from food. As far as chemicals are concerned, they’re mostly plant based for example agar and calcium chloride come from seaweed. Nothing toxic. I want to be able to create an everlasting harmony between traditional and contemporary.”
Contemplating on his words, you ask after a rich pause, “But, why? Why modify? Why not stick to what we know best?”
He leans against the counter, arms crossed over his chest. “Simply because I enjoy playing around with these elements. The whole process of cooking scientifically requires one to have an intimate relationship with food: deeply understand its physical and chemical changes. Take kimchi for example - an essential component in the Korean kitchen but it’s used as a side dish however with the help of molecular gastronomy it can be used as a main dish in so many different ways.”
“How’s that?”
“So, I created a couple of variations such as the Kimchi Lollipop with liquid nitrogen, coated in butter. It tastes somewhat like fried kimchi? Thinly sliced kimchi made with gelatin gives it a roe fish like physical property so it can actually be maneuvered as a vegan entree but at the same time if you give these very same slices a dose of alginic acid and calcium chloride they end up with a….wafer thin…almost a fine film like texture. Oh, and my favourite was pureeing kimchi, mixing it with glutinous rice flour and frying thin strips of it. Not exactly in the molecular gastronomy arena but a fun experiment nonetheless. The whole thing is…it feels like a process of cooking scientifically to create art. It’s a story on a plate! The master at the midnight diner I worked at in Tokyo always told me, People first eat with their eyes, then with their mouths and finally their hearts. I want to do that, you know. I want to elevate the Korean dining experience.”
While you’re busy gaping at him with sheer awe painted across your face, he pulls out a silicon tray from his refrigerator and plops it onto the marble counter, a childlike excitement dancing in his eyes.
“Translucent ice with…what are those? Leaves? In it?” You enquire.
“We’re going to be making…drum roll please….”, he asks and you indulge him, “mojito spheres!”
“Soo, I hate to sound dumb -”
“You never sound dumb -” he interrupts, giving you a quick peck on the forehead.
“Honeymoon phase!” You pout playfully. “Okay so these look ready to me?”
“They’re almost ready, yes. We just have to give these babies a bath. While we get the bath ready, let’s allow them to rest in the freezer for a couple more minutes, shall we?”
The next thing he does is bring out a tall container half-filled with water and blends sodium alginate with it and leaves the mixture to rest for fifteen minutes.
“Call me Soo again?” Tilting his head, he asks, teasing.
Letting out an exasperated sigh you exclaim, “I don’t believe this! Just six months ago you’d stare daggers at me from across the room. Is the bath ready? I’m thirsty!”
“You drink bath water? That explains a lot.”
“Okay, now go bring me a bowl of fresh water.” He laughs quietly and takes out three silicon trays from the refrigerator. He carefully removes each frozen mojito from its mold, immersing them in the sodium alginate bath one at a time, thus allowing each sphere to individually set before transferring formed spheres to the bowl of water to rinse before serving.
“I want MORE of these, Soo! MORE!”
You’re sitting cross legged on the floor across from Kyungsoo with a bone china bowl full of translucent mojito spheres between you, gobbling them down like shelled peas.
“We’ve wiped off two entire trays. That’s enough for tonight. Are you drunk?” He asks, voice laced with concern.
“Haha no, I’m good. But these are really concentrated, huh? I love the way these spheres just explode inside my mouth.” You say, popping two to three at a time.
“You’re adorable, you know that?”
Averting his gaze, you start to fidget with the bowl and ask, “Who or what possessed you?”
“Clearly not so good at my night job as a shaman, right?”
“Pfft! So? What do you wanna do now?”
He bites down on his lower lip in mock contemplation, making you giggle.
“Soo!” Still giggling, you feign surprise and ask in a high pitched voice, “The kitchen’s a mess. Do you maybe wanna help me tidy it?”
“That’s not exactly what I had in mind.” He moves closer to you, his face barely an inch from yours.
Holding his intense gaze, you ask, “Do I want to know what you’re thinking right now?”
“You tell me.”
The warmth of his arms sinks firmly around your waist as he’s guiding you to his bedroom, trailing slow, deliberate, attentive kisses on your lips, along your jaw, hitting the sweet spot on the curve of your neck. The touches that Kyungsoo so impetuously brings, heighten your senses, forcing your eyes shut and settling deep inside your bones. The sweetness of mint on his breath, the melody of his soft moans, the tactile sensation of his skin on yours - etching in your memory, never to be forgotten.
Your hands do their own bidding, wanting against his taut back muscles, craving him nearer, closing every last bit of distance between your bodies.
Feeling the mild impact brought on by falling back on the sturdy mattress, with his fingers woven between the locks of your hair and the length of his torso steadfast against yours, you softly open your eyes to adjust to the light in his bedroom.
But there is none.
For a moment the darkness makes you wonder whether you’ve completely lost your eyesight. Taken aback, you gently pull away from the voracity of his luscious lips. Gasping, you stutter, “Soo, it’s quite dark in here- is that?”
“Huh?” Brows knit together, he follows your eyes across the room and smiles sheepishly. He rests his arms on either side of your face, panting slightly, he replies, “Yeah, the wallpaper’s all black. We could take this outside if you’re….uncomfortable?"
"No, sorry, it’s…it’s perfect”, you say, making yourself smaller under his smoldering gaze as you ponder your extempore with mismatched underwear.
“Sure you’re okay?” He interjects your self-contemplation, voice but a whisper, as he tenderly runs a thumb along your cheek.
With that his lips crash into yours again, with the same ferocity if not more, deft fingers doing away with the inhibitions of your clothing and you to return the favour with his polo neck jumper and black dress pants.
“You’re beautiful, my love”, he whispers, taking in your bare frame with the scanty light this room allows either of you. Bashful, you bury your face in the curve of his wood scented neck.
He grabs your face, a teasing smile playing on his scarlet lips, and plants a firm kiss on your forehead before gently easing you on your back.
The market’s basked in a dazzling gold of the morning sky, brimming over with nature’s bounty. All the reds, yellows, greens so inviting, you can practically taste the medley of mouth watering flavours in the air.
In the midst of this divine serenity are you and Kyungsoo, walking hand in hand, garnering ingredients so alluring, they look especially handcrafted by the Food Gods.
There’s no one around. No vendors, no buyers. Just you and Kyungsoo sans the usual bustle, nestled in nature’s sanctity.
He feeds you an apple - the best you’d ever tasted - juicy, crisp aromatic flesh snaps as you dig your teeth into it, sugary sweet with just the right balance of tartness.
And you don’t even like apples.
“But, Soo, I don’t even like apples -”
“You do now, my dear”, he brings his lips closer to yours. And closer. And closer.
“Baby? Baby?”
“Hello?” Befuddled, you answer groggily.
He laughs, “You’re not up yet?”
“Now I am. Where are you?”
“The market?”
“Why didn’t you wake me?”
“You seemed tired so I thought you could use some rest.”
“If sleeping with you was what it took to get out of market duty I would’ve done it long ago.”
He lets out a deep sigh. “You know you sleep talk?”
“I do not!”
“And you drool?”
“What the hell, Soo!” You urgently check for any sign of moisture on the pillows.
He laughs. “There’s breakfast in the kitchen.”
“Did you even sleep babe?”
“Two to three hours, maybe? I feel pretty energized though. You know because of -”
His words send tingles all over your skin. Floundering out of bed, you skip over to the mirror and give yourself a once over. The areas he’d paid special attention to are now painted in loving hues of red, blue, and everything in between. Biting back a chuckle, you feign annoyance, “Shut up! You should’ve woken me. See you at the restaurant.”
“I’ll be waiting!”
The kitchen, cleaned off all evidence of last night’s debauchery, carries a lemony fresh aroma.
Your fingers ghost over the cloche on the counter before unveiling the luxurious breakfast underneath: a tureen full of freshly cut fruits sit prim and pretty next to a plate of omelette with two adjacent dots and a crescent moon smile all drawn with ketchup.
Smiling to yourself, you grab the unused bottle of ketchup from Kyungsoo’s fridge and draw elaborate circles around the eyes and an outstretched heart for lips. Leaning closer to the counter, you click a selca with the breakfast tray, call the ketchup face ‘EggSoo’ and hit send.
Kyungsoo responds within seconds. It takes your still sleep befuddled brain a few seconds to realize that he’d set the image as his lock screen.
Seeing Imo’s doleful eyes hits you with an unpleasant inevitability.
Kyungsoo has no reason to stay and the last thing you want is to be the one holding him back. Especially not after what you witnessed yesterday: his unbridled potential and passion for culinary arts.
Piecemeal elements of one robust solution exist in different areas of your brain. Clamoring to coalesce. Giving you a headache.
Soon as you enter the kitchen, Kyungsoo sneaks up on you and wraps his arms around your waist, nuzzling your shoulder, away from Imo’s unsuspecting eyes. The warmth of his embrace slowly starts to thaw the iceberg of your worries. Sensing your tense shoulders he cuddles closer, cooing softly, “You okay, love?”
A sound of footsteps shuffling grows louder causing Kyungsoo and you to break apart at once. His chocolate eyes melt into yours, and suddenly everything starts to make sense.
“Yah! What’s wrong?” Imo’s sharp voice cuts through the tension in the kitchen.
“Imo, I need to speak with you. Privately.”
Two weeks later
Time certainly wasn’t in favour of Choi Yoonsun’s.
Precariousness with an undercurrent of chaos made its presence felt in every moment you shared with Kyungsoo. Yet, both of you avoided the subject, playing ostrich in the face of uncertainty. But someday, you’d have to speak about it: the oddly terrifying future.
Imo’s left for the day and Kyungsoo and you are hunched over a laptop, going through job applications for a kitchen assistant and an extra server for weekends. Two candidates, Kim Doyoung and Lee Taeyong, look particularly interesting. And from their applications, particularly interested.
“Kyungsoo, I have something to tell you.” You quip as soon as he shuts down the portal.
“And I, you.” He replies.
Dreading what he might have to say, you insist on going first, especially after the painstaking research and effort it took you to get through to Imo.  You hurriedly bring out a neat little stack of papers and place it before him, hands and voice both tremulous.
“What’s this?” He looks at you with inquisitive eyes enlarged to dark brown circles.
“An agreement which says Imo - ” unable to form a single coherent sentence due to your erratic heartbeat, you sink back in your chair, face buried in hands.
What if he disapproves?
“Baby, what is it?” His hand wraps around your wrist, urging you to look at him.
You lean forward, arms outstretched on the table. “Okay, Soo, I know this place isn’t your future. You’re meant for much, much bigger things. So is Imo and -”
He moves closer to you and places a hand on your head, stroking gently, “So are you.”
“Soo, please, let me finish okay. So, this…this seemed like the perfect time to…perfect time to…”
He then takes your hands in his, squeezing reassuringly.
“I told Imo that she should listen to Hyunjin and write her book. You see, she, Choi Yoonsun, has had an absolutely riveting journey. She’s an epic in and of herself and there’s very little chance of her book not doing well. Her recipes are carefully curated yet not complex or daunting. She has a way of connecting with people and I, as a layperson, interested in cooking would totally give her book a chance. So then.. Soo!”
“I’m all ears, honey”, he chortles,  rubbing his thumb along the back of your hand.
“So I suggested we draw up a contract - what we have between us right now is the draft of the same - and it says we continue to run the restaurant in Imo’s name and she gets a fee worth twenty five percent of all sales for the next five years. And at the end of five years -”
Your voice gets caught in your throat as if you’re on the edge of a precipice and things could really go either way.
“Yah! It’s just me and we’ve seen each other naked on multiple occa -”
“SOO! Okay so after five years, you and I…we rebrand, create our own menu and we have ample time to experiment, right? Also, we’re literally in the heart of Seoul so this is a wonderful opportunity, no? You can work your molecular gastronomy magic of course and uh I didn’t think that far ahead but Imo’s willing to hand this over to us. We’ll obviously have to pay her rent after the end of five years because she owns the place and all -”
Before you know it, your face is caught between his hands, his lips are on yours deepening a kiss that goes on for what seems like an eternity. He slowly pulls away, face flushed, short of breath. Teary eyed, he asks you in a voice filled with amazement, “You did all of this for me?”
“No!“, you protest, "I did it for myself because I didn’t want you to leave. I never ever want you to leave. Of course you can still choose to leave. I’m confident we can work around that as well…”
“I can’t believe this is coming from the woman who wanted me gone since day one!”
You smack the back of his hand and rebuke, “Quit gloating!”
He laughs. “Okay, okay, no this is perfect.”
“What do you mean perfect? Define perfect. Explain ‘perfect’ in this context.”
“Yah! I’m staying - and just for the record I wasn’t ever going to leave without you - and you’re right. This is huge! For both of us.  This gives us enough time to hone our skills and put everything together. Thank you for thinking this through, big brain. I’ll sleep better tonight.” A heartfelt smile appears on his face. He then raises a finger mouthing ‘one moment’ and saunters over to the cash counter and brings you a very fancy looking booklet with École Ducasse printed across the cover in a big, bold and intimidating script.
“What’s this?” You ask Kyungsoo, feeling the knot in your stomach tighten.
“The prospectus for their Contemporary Gastronomy Signature Program.” His tone is businesslike.
“And this is in my hands right now because?”
He half shrugs before saying, “I would like for you to…give it a shot.”
“Soo, you can’t be serious right now. I am never getting accepted. We both know that - ”
“We won’t know for sure unless you apply.” He states matter-of-factly.
Feeling your cheeks burn, you admit with great difficulty, “Okay, Soo, I hate building castles in the air but on the off chance that I do get accepted, you know that I can’t afford the program…”
“You don’t have to worry about any of that.”
“Soo, I just can’t, I can’t!”
He lets out a deep sigh. “Hon, you obviously don’t have to do this if you don’t want to. But if it interests you, I suggest you give it an honest attempt and see where it takes you. We’re going to be business partners soon - I feel a weird mix of pride and embarrassment saying it out loud - give and take is just….part of the equation, right? Needless to say, your perspective after having gone through with the program is going to be a major asset for us. Don’t you think?”
Chewing at the insides of your cheeks in contemplation of Kyungsoo’s words, you finally only manage to nod in response.
Five and a half years later - On the last day of Choi Yoonsun’s
Kyungsoo walks into the kitchen with a dazed look on his face, running a hand through his close cropped hair. It’s the grand opening day all over again. He’s fidgety, pointlessly pacing, literally all over the place, and extremely micro-manage-y thus getting on your nerves.
“Are those apples?” He asks, trying to fix one of the beyond repair cabinets in the kitchen with his bare hands. Pretty useless, considering the entire place is going to be razed on the morrow.
“Hmm”, you respond, attention focused on the apples.
“You’re eating apples for breakfast?”
You choose to respond only with a ‘hmm’ again.
“Use your words, maybe?”
“I don’t know what other than ‘yes’ is ‘hmm’ supposed to imply?”
“A bit too early in the day to be this snippy, no?” He asks, still working the cabinet in vain.
“Probably.” You answer, trying your best to lay the edge off of your voice.
He laughs, “You’re dicing them like it’s my head on the chopping board.”
You choose not to reply, yet he continues, “You don’t even like apples.”
“You’re a bit slow, aren’t you?” You ask, popping a small cube into your mouth.
“I wouldn’t say I’m slow, no.” He turns around to face you but you immediately look away.
“Really? Then why did it take you a year to propose to me? I was the one who had to finally do it. You know how embarrassing that was?”
He joins you at the table, and enquires with a tilted head, “Why are we digging up ancient history when we’re at the cusp of creating history?”
You snort, “Ancient history? It only happened three years ago.”
“Exactly. And I was going to propose to you on the very same day. You know that! The ring was in my pocket. If only you’d held it in for another two hours. I had everything planned out to the tee.” Kyungsoo argues.
You nod, eyes brimming with tears.
“What is it? What’s wrong?” He asks gently, voice laced with concern.
You take a big bite out of the fourth apple.
“Are you getting cold feet now? Like you did on our wedding day?” The pitch of his voice rises a few notches.
“God! Kyungsoo, I told you! I had a last minute zipper debacle! Geez! I was only five minutes late.”
“Only five minutes? You almost gave me a heart attack. I thought….I thought you were gone!” He complains.
You half shrug and go back to your apple.
“Enough with the bloody apples!” He cries out loud, “Are you getting cold feet? Baby, we can get through this. You see”, he brings out the very heavy, colour coded binder and starts flipping through its pages.
You let out an exasperated sigh. “Soo, I made the binder, I know exactly what it says.”
“Then what is it? Talk to me, please? We’ve done this before.”  
“At the time we had lesser responsibility. We had Imo and - we’d accounted for all unforeseen circumstances!” You explain, gaze fixed on him.
“We’ve accounted for everything this time around, too, my love. Contractors, legal, the menu, vendors, insurance…everything’s in order.”
“Not everything”, you say in a small voice, “we didn’t account for any addition or deletion of human resources?”
“Taeyong and Doyoung are never leaving. We both know that. It’s a bit of a problem if I’m honest.” Kyungsoo reasons with you in a very calm voice.
“That’s deletion. What about addition?” You ask.
He gently places a hand on your head, “You want more staff? If we stretch a bit, we’ll be able to afford one more person at minimum wage.”
“Umm, Soo….I’m eating apples.” Your voice gets smaller, tremulous.
“Yes, I see we’re going off on a tangent again but it’s absolutely alright. I’m shook about the apples thing but it’s a good so please, continue.”
Anxiety slowly starts to settle in your bones and your mind wanders off into the distance. Kyungsoo brings you back with a kiss on the forehead, one hand grabbing the side of your neck. “Baby, we still have six more months…. it’s absolutely alright to take a couple of weeks off to clear your head and -”
“Six months, you say.”
“Yes.” You can sense Kyungsoo growing increasingly wary of you but continues to stay steadfast in his support.
“Third trimester.”
“What did you say?”
“Third trimester. How will I manage everything? I wanted to support you and not be a burden and -”
“Slow down, please! I’m….wait? Do you mean?”
“Yes, Kyungsoo. We’ve been….less than careful.” You say with a hint of apology in your voice.
“Stand up, please?” Kyungsoo requests, almost jumping out of his own chair. You tentatively oblige as he’s helping you up like you’re the most fragile thing to have ever walked the planet.
“My mind is drawing a big, huge, giant blank right now”, Kyungsoo says in a shaky voice, teary eyed, visibly swallowing the lump in his throat, “but please, please know that this is the best thing to have ever happened to us. Ever. Ever in our entire existence as human beings and I have no fucking clue what I’m saying right now but I love you. I love you both so very much!”
Kyungsoo goes down on his knees, wraps his arms around your waist, places a tender kiss on your belly and whispers, “No ketchup for you.”
118 notes · View notes
risukadarlin · 18 days ago
[dear♥vocalist evolve] vol. 2: joshua - track one
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1; like the moonlight
listen along・masterpost
Right then. Cheers!
It’s good!
I didn’t realise waiting for the results of the Survival Wars would make me this anxious.
They decided the results right away after the last Survival, so I never felt like this until now.
But I’m really glad.
I can release a new song and the Devils seem really happy.
Then, just so you know, I plan to make this song completely different from other Brave Child songs.
Yes, look forward to it.
The truth is I’ve actually finished most of the planning.
I was thinking about my own so I’m ready, whenever the results are announced.
I’ve already got the sheet music and the studio ready.
Ah, I have to call the support members before that.
Yes, I wanted to work with the members that worked with me last festival again.
They’ve been working with me continuously since my last single.
We all get on really well.
You’re right.
The mood is always really good when I work with those guys.
And they’re all really talented.
But, well…
It depends on the schedule, I guess.
Oh? Speak of the devil.
Yes, it’s the guitarist.
Sorry, is it okay if I take this?
I’ll finish quickly.
News travels fast, huh?
But thank you.
I’m actually celebrating right now.
For the new Survival.
Yes, I want to start as soon as I can.
By the way, what’s your schedule like right now?
I wanted to ask for your support this time too.
Really?! Great!
I’ll mail you the details tomorrow.
I’ll talk to you later.
Thank you for calling!
Yes, the guitarist will, at least.
I’ll message the other members when I get home.
That’s right.
I’m sure it’ll go well if it’s with them.
They’re only support members but…
They don’t feel like strangers, they feel like friends.
They don’t just follow my orders.
I can tell they’re enjoying making music for Brave Child as members and as professional musicians.
Their performance at the festival was amazing too, right?
I’m really hungry all of a sudden.
This isn’t enough; is it okay if I order more?
Then I’ll just order everything I see.
You said that nothing here tastes bad, no matter what you order.
Ah, by You I mean the vocalist from Jet Rat Fury.
He’s doing the Survival with me.
Oh, how does this sound?
Coconut prawns.
It looks good.
Oh and let’s get this skewer too.
You’ll have some too, right?
Beef, chicken or mutton, which do you want?
Excuse me!
Can we order?
Yes, yes, yes.
Thank you!
That was really nice of you to say.
Right, I’ll be in contact again later.
Let’s do our best this time too!
The bassist and the drummer are joining too!
Yes! I’m really happy!
One of them even said they’d prioritise this because they love Brave Child’s songs!
You’re so right.
I have to treasure them.
So that I can work with them as long as possible…
I wonder.
It’s not like I didn’t think about it.
I really thought about it last CR Festival.
Most of the other bands have had the same members for ages, after all.
They all have an emotional attachment to their bands; they’ve overcome so many hardships together and were finally able to stand on stage.
Having fixed members like that really is nice.
But I can’t just decide something like that on my own.
They’re all freelance and unrestrained right now.
And they each have other jobs.
It might only be going so well because they are support members.
It’s fine.
I chose to do it this way.
I plan to do this single the same way.
It’s not easy to join a specific band when you’re free like that.
It can change the rest of your life, after all.
It’s obvious.
And I don’t want to put pressure on them now they’ve decided to support me this time too.
Let’s stop talking about this.
More importantly, look outside the window!
The moon is out.
You come too.
It’s really pretty.
The moon’s really bright tonight, isn’t it?
And… It's so round.
Looking at the moon has always made me think of you.
Yes, I’m not really sure why.
Maybe it’s because this gentle light is just like you.
It’s not too bright I can’t see, like the sun.
It’s just a little reserved.
But it’s still so bright.
I think that’s why I was so happy to see the moon when I was in LA too.
It made me feel like I wasn’t alone.
You’ve given me way much more than you realise.
It’s thanks to you that I can still do music now.
I have to hurry up and give you something back, don’t I?
I’m going to work hard on this new song with that in mind.
I want to see you happy, after all.
Yes. Wait for it - the new music I make for Brave Child.
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Why do so MANY religions have such a deep hatred for homosexuality in the first place? I know most religions are already ripoffs or basically shitty fan fictions of other ones, but it seems that no matter WHAT religions that I look at (including ones older than the Abrahamic religions). They always never have an end to how evil and awful being gay is, and the severe punishments that one can expect to receive for just being gay!
Basically, the same reason “sin” exists.
At the time these religions were being forwarded, they were up against pagan beliefs for the minds of the populace. There’s many references in the Jewish and Xtian texts about not worshipping other gods, not being like the heathens, the pagans. They wanted to replace these beliefs - many relatively unbothered with who slept with whom - with their own concoction.
Admonishments to “not kill” would be meaningless, as these cultures already had strong moral structures, even if they were relatively more primitive compared to us. They had long-standing laws prohibiting theft, murder, etc. This should not be very surprising, since we can tell that Jewish and Xtian moral writings often stole directly from earlier religions. The Book of Proverbs is essentially a rewrite of the Egyptian wisdom texts. The Ten Commandments are poor knock-offs of earlier Sumerian, Egyptian and Mesopotamian codes. There’s literally nothing new to learn in Jewish and Xtian morality.
As Salome Sibonex mused, we are a species that worries about our own inadequacies and failings.
I’ve heard multiple times from believers “we all sin, we all do bad things.” These are two separate statements. “Sin” is just things that “god” doesn’t like. Such as eating prawns. “Bad things” are things that hurt others. Such as molesting them as children. This statement is an attempt to smuggle the nonsensical notion of “sin” into our sense of right and wrong.
It’s a way to exploit that feeling of inadequacy, that existential guilt, by defining new, mysterious things you should feel guilty for, since the real ones have already (or largely) been addressed.
Create a problem to exploit an emotional vulnerability. Tell people they’re inadequate or morally deficient. Find someone or something to act as the locus for that deficiency. Offer the solution to the problem you created. Deepen the commitment. Make it the only way to view the world. Now you’ve got them. Power, influence, compliant people who want to be “good” - as you define it.
“You’ll never win the lottery with all that 5G you insist on using. Don’t you know how harmful that is? It dirties your aura. You’re in luck, though. I have some very reasonably priced crystals that will cleanse it for you.”
Homosexuality is an easy candidate for problematization. Say god doesn’t like it and call it “unnatural.” Then define “natural” as what god likes or intends. Those who aren’t interested in a same-sex relationship might well be convinced that their lack of interest in it reflects it being “unnatural.” It isn’t exactly clear what causes homosexuality, so ignorance can be easily leveraged. They’re “different.” Declare this difference “evil” and a “choice.” There’s your moral failing. Demonize pleasure and love for the sake of pleasure and love. Biological dimorphism facilitates reproduction. Same-sex relationships don’t produce children, so they’re selfish and self-indulgent. What if everybody “chose” to be homosexual? This entire goat-herding, dirt-village would die out. Do want that? Moral failings aplenty. Especially not producing more believers to glorify god.
Being a minority aids this, as it provides a vulnerable scapegoat and target for the majority. Call natural events god’s punishment for homosexuals. That’s the reason god sent the fire that destroyed all the crops. It’s not that god’s an asshole or not there at all. It’s because your community deserved it.
“Why do bad things happen? Is it because of chaos and entropy and people making choices and nature not caring?” Uh, nope, that would imply god isn’t in charge. So... why... uh... homosexuals, that’s why!
You need never explain precisely how god works when he’s flexible enough and mercurial enough to fit into any outcome. Like Play-Doh.
Get enough people on board to create a moral panic. “Have you heard about your sin?” “You’re not a homosexual, are you?” They’ll run with it, embellish it, make it their own. Next thing you know, homosexuals have horns on their head - but they keep them hidden - and they worship the devil and want to convert you. ‘K... that works.
The homosexuals themselves feel shame. Well, of course they do, look how society treats them. Because they’re bad. They must be, or society wouldn’t treat them that way, right?
Offer the solution: rebuke the homosexuals, the sinners, the heretics. Those that represent the inadequacies, the deficiencies. Denounce your own homosexuality. Worship and give yourself to god. Commit deeper into belief.
Believers then regulate the community and each other. The community keeps inwardly vigilant, constantly looking for the moral failing that’s just waiting to be found. Those who go against the “word of god” are punished by other believers, as it risks the moral purity of the community. Homosexuals are imprisoned or shunned. Call it a “morals charge.” The following year’s crops were destroyed too? Well, the community still isn’t pure enough. They weren’t? God is good and has blessed us for our actions. It all makes sense.
The priests go unmonitored and unquestioned. It’s a good thing they warned about sin, right? That was a close one. We sure are lucky we learned all about the things that are wrong with us that we didn’t know about. They sure know some stuff, don’t they? We should use this wisdom all the time, for everything. Lord only knows what else is wrong with us.
The priests need do very little except reinforce the “word of god.” Remind them they’re morally inadequate once a week. Remind them who to blame for the inability to create paradise on Earth. Remind them to commit even deeper to the only belief that can save them. Some of the details fade, but everyone knows homosexuals are bad. God doesn’t like them - the book humans wrote, and the humans who read it to us each week prove it.
In short, it’s a way to give people someone to hate while you manipulate them.
“The surest way to work up a crusade in favor of some good cause is to promise people they will have a chance of maltreating someone. To be able to destroy with good conscience, to be able to behave badly and call your bad behavior ‘righteous indignation’ - this is the height of psychological luxury, the most delicious of moral treats.“ - Aldous Huxley
We’ve seen this sort of thing more recently, too. Witches in Europe and America. Jews in Germany. McCarthy’s communists.
And now, “privilege.”
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7-percent · 5 months ago
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British Savouries
There is a course in the traditional upper class English dinner party that is often overlooked by those who are not native. And, it has to be said, this course is for real traditionalists, ie, not young people who are more interested in the latest curry, vegan dish or Italian pasta creation. 
The Savoury Course was the last course of the evening and very popular amongst the wealthy who would spend hours at the table during Victorian and Edwardian times. the key was its very small portion size- really only one or two mouthfuls. The recipes that were common have back then have also become part of the middle class and working class meals over time, so are worth mentioning. Nowadays you are more likely to encounter these as canapés served with drinks. 
The key to a good savoury is that it has to be some combination of salty, creamy and or a strong spicy flavour. It’s also an interesting gender thing, because back in the Victorian and Edwardian days, what often happened was that the gentlemen ate their savouries and went off to drink port or whisky, smoke cigars, and play bar billiards, and the ladies had their sweets and swished off to the withdrawing room for cards, gossip and sherry. 
Welsh rarebit
You might be forgiven for thinking this is just cheese on toast, but... it is SO much more! It has a sauce made with grated sharp cheddar cheese, butter, mustard and worcestershire sauce (OMG, I think I need to do a whole post on British sauces!) and a dash of cayenne pepper, plus English beer. It was once called “welsh rabbit”, eaten by peasants who lacked money for meat; later it was changed to the more truthful “rare bit”.
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Potted shrimps
The traditional British version is made with tiny brown shrimps. The photo below is the larger version, but still tastes great. The day before you want to eat it, melt 100g unsalted butter, add in 2 pinches of cayenne pepper, a generous grating of fresh nutmeg, and then add in 350g cooked and peeled North Atlantic prawns or shrimps. You can add a bit of chopped parsley. The butter will rise to the top as it cools, giving you something that is easily spread on toast.
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Devilled kidneys
The devil is in the detail - in this case, it’s the sauce. You can devil ANYTHING, not just offal. Mushrooms are a popular choice too. Just fry up whatever the main ingredient is in butter and finely chopped onion and then smother it in a sauce made from 2 tbs English mustard + 2 tbs Worcestershire sauce. 1 tbs vinegar, a good pinch of Cayenne pepper, a dash of Tabasco sauce, freshly ground black pepper. Simply beat all the ingredients together – taste and add more Tabasco and pepper if you like. There’s no need to add salt.
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Angels or devils on horseback
The Devil was once a tea-soaked prune, but nowadays is more likely to be a date; the Angel is an oyster; both are wrapped in bacon and grilled. They are notorious for keeping their hot in temperature!
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Potted chicken livers
(AKA chicken liver paté)
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Most of these are served on toast, which means that they have survived over the years as more of a snack, a canapé or in sufficient numbers, as a lunch. 
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astral-space-dragon · 4 months ago
On Sweeter Tides Ch1
Hey all! The Mermay fic is here! :D
This particular fic is an AU of “The Quickest Way to a Devil’s Heart” AU. And AU of an AU lol
While the series is normally a reader-insert, I’ve decided to use the actual name of our lovely baker to hopefully avoid any confusion from those who regularly read the series.
Anyways, let’s get to it!
Like my work? Leave a tip!
Read on AO3!
tagging: @harlot-of-oblivion @drusoona​ If you want to be tagged for this partiular fic lemme know. It’s not the usual series, but lemme know either way :]
Summary: Rosemary is the new owner of a small seaside diner. It's small, but is more than anything she has dreamed of. It has a lovely view of the beach and most importantly, it's hers.It's easy to say: Life is good. She has her own business and she's made friends with the local fishermen. What more could she want.Little does she know, something will change her life. Something from the depths of the ocean.
Rosemary leaned against the doorframe, staring out into the ocean. Never in her life did she believe she would be at this point: nineteen years old and the new owner of her tutor's seafood restaurant. Not that she was complaining. She loves seafood, she loves cooking and the view of the ocean… comparable to the hotels that tourists stay in. Her ears perk up at the sound of the bell jingling. She peeks into the restaurant lobby to see a familiar face. She grins at the old man "Hey, Frank. Catch anything good, today?"
The old fisherman returns the smile as he takes a seat at the counter "Plenty of prawns and lobster. My boys will be by later to bring you some of the more fatter lobsters"
She smiles in thanks "You're so sweet, Frank. I really do appreciate it"
Frank winks "Can't have lobster rolls without good lobster"
Rosemary giggles as she asks "Speaking of lobster rolls, you're usual today?"
Frank nods "You know it, Rosemary"
Rosemary digs through the large lobster tank and pulls out the largest looking lobster "I'll be right out with it. You want fries this time?"
Frank nods "Extra crispy"
She chuckles "The only way to eat fries"
Rosemary enters the kitchen and places the lobster on the cutting board. Grabbing a large knife, she begins her work. She presses the tip of the knife at the base of the lobster's head, then quickly presses straight down and brings the knife down to split the head, killing it instantly.  She puts the knife down and tosses the animal into a boiling pot.
Once the animal is cooked, it's time to get the meat.
She wiggles tail from the body, pulls the claws off, and then the legs. She gently breaks the tail, freeing the meat. She gets the meat from the pincer with ease. With the crusher claw, she cracks it and breaks it open, being careful to not destroy the meat. She gets the meat from the knuckle and turns her attention to the legs. She places the legs down and squeezes the meat out using a rolling pin.
After chopping the tail into large chunks, she tosses the meat into a mixture consisting of mayonnaise, dijon mustard, chives, salt, pepper, and a tiny bit of butter.
Rosemary cuts open a freshly-made hoagie roll and places a bib of lettuce. She stuffs it with the lobster mixture and sprinkles the roll with paprika. After dumping the freshly made fries onto the plate, she brings the fresh food out to Frank.
"Here you are, Frank. One lobster roll and fries. Let me get you your beer"
She makes her way to the fridge and pulls out a bottle of lager and slides it across the counter towards the fisherman. Frank takes a bite of the roll and she asks "How is it?"
Frank gives Rosemary a teasing look "Do you really need to ask that? It's delicious"
Rosemary shrugs "I can't help but ask"
As Frank eats, a second customer comes in: a small woman; a tourist. Rosemary greets the woman "Hi, there! What can I get you?"
Through a bit of broken English, she asks "Is this where cookie tarts are?"
Rosemary's eyes light up "Yes! I have three different kinds. I have peach tarts, blueberry tarts, and strawberry tarts. All of which I use a cookie dough recipe for"
She shows the woman the display of tarts.
After a few moments, the woman asks "May I have two strawberry?"
She gets the woman her tarts and takes her pay. As she leaves, Rosemary hears a knock coming from the kitchen door.  She opens the door to see two young men with olive skin: Frank's co-fisherman, Bruno and Stefano. You smile "Hey, guys! He with the lobster?"
Bruno holds up a large yellow bin "You know it, Rosemary!"
As the two men put the lobsters into the tank, Rosemary asks "Can I get you boys anything?"
Bruno slaps down a few bills "Two orders of fried shrimp and fries"
Rosemary gives a curt nod "Coming right up!"
Rosemary places two plates of fried shrimp and fries in front of Bruno and Stefano "Here you are boys! Fresh out of the fryer"
Stefano squeezes the lemon wedge over the shrimp and dip it in the cocktail sauce before eating it, tail and all. The fisherman's eyes flutter shut "Tasty as ever, Rosemary"
Rosemary grins.
For the next two hours, customers come and go. Some come for seafood, while others come for pastries; all while she converses with Frank and the other two fishermen.
As Rosemary pours Frank a mug of coffee she asks "See anything interesting lately, Frank?"
Frank takes a sip of his coffee before saying "Not me personally, but I've been hearing rumors of strange sightings"
Rosemary raises an eyebrow "Strange sightings?"
Bruno groans "Come on, Frank. Don't tell me you believe any of that!"
Now Rosemary is intrigued "Believe what? What's going on?"
Frank takes another sip of his coffee "There have been talk of merfolk sightings"
Now Rosemary's intrigue turns into investment "Really? Merpeople? Like in the stories?"
Bruno groans "Jeez… you too, Rosemary?"
Rosemary shrugs "Call me crazy, Bruno. But the idea of merfolk being real sounds amazing"
Stefano chuckles "I seem to recall you telling you were always fond of stories of merfolk, selkies and sea-wolves"
Another shrug from Rosemary "And why not? The ocean is so vast and deep. These sightings might not even be merpeople. They might be sightings of a new species"
Stefano hums "True. I got a cousin who does dives around shipwrecks. He always tells me he always feels so damn small in the water"
Rosemary hums at his words "Something to ponder on"
Stefano nods to himself as he eats the last of his fries. Rosemary checks the clock. 3:45pm. Frank checks the clock, as well "Almost closing time. We'll get out of your hair"
The three fishermen place money on the counter before bidding Rosemary a farewell.
After the restaurant is locked up, Rosemary decides to take a walk along her favorite part of the beach.
As she makes her way down to the beach, she deeply inhales the salty air of the sea. I'm never going to get sick of the smell of the ocean.
She walks along the shoreline to a more secluded part of the beach, away from the tourists and locals, the sounds of the waves relaxing after a long day. She reaches her favorite spot by large beach rocks. She stares out into the ocean, decompressing.
Then something catches her eye. She notices someone sitting atop of the rocks, staring out into the horizon: a man with white hair. She also notices that he's topless. A surfer, maybe?
She sees him glance behind him before sharply turning his wide-eyed gaze to her, bearing a look of startlement.
Just as she is about to greet him, he quickly leaps off the rocks and dives into the water. Her jaw drops as she catches a glimpse of a blue fish tail. She watches as he disappears beneath the surface, leaving only ripples.
She quickly looks around to see if anyone else saw the same thing. Much to her surprise, not a single soul is around. She looks back to the rocks to where the… man… once sat, her brain trying to process what she just witnessed.
She snaps herself out of her daze as she checks her watch. I… should be getting home.
She turns to go back the way she came and gives the rocks one final look before starting her journey home.
After returning to her apartment, she took a quick shower and changed into her pajamas before plopping herself in front of the TV.
Even as she channel surfs, her mind is still thinking about the… merman? No matter much she tries to rationalize what she saw, her brain immediately shoots it down. She knows what she saw. She saw a merman.
And she is not going to tell a single soul.
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mintyfrosty · 11 months ago
Back To Square One
Hello all you wonderful people!!
Ya’ll want more merfolk Au stuff?? I gotchu fame. Small one-shot under the cut >:3333333
You know.
Most humans didn't find themselves to be half fish somewhere in your early 30s. Right happened to be an exception.
Despair following his every moment, frame tight and compact against the rocky edging on the cave's underwater cavern. Caramel eyes gawked blankly at the dozens of grains of sand that littered the ocean floor. Too many to count in a lifetime. In a way, an odd sense of loneliness captured his spirit, mainly for two reasons. The first being he was alone in a literal sense, his fri-- acquaintance named Reginald had swum off somewhere to get the two of them a meal for the evening. And the second, well, he didn't know of any miracle stories of humans turning into merfolk, let alone if there was a way to revert it. It didn't make sense; he just...fell in a batch of glowing, purple water, sunk to the bottom and suddenly he was equipt with a tigerfish tail.
And with it, everything he was familiar with.
His whole life was gone.
His friends.
His family.
His crew.
His ship.
His food.
His bed.
Simple as that.
But just because it was gone, didn't mean it didn't stab a deep wound in Right's spirit.
A voice. High pitched. Familiar.
Sullenly, the taller of the two looked up from his arms that were crunched in a huddled position, nothing less than a glare coming under the brim of his hat. The other had a satchel strung over his shoulder down to his left hip (Er- top of his tail on the left side?), swimming over gently to the man's side. It was good, however, that the two knew each other for about a month before this 'incident'; made the whole process a little bit more bearable. Or, at least it would if the two weren't in a slightly discourse at the moment.
When Right was still human, his ship had swept up the merman in a net and said merman immediately lost it. Turns out, merfolk don't take kindly to figuring out your species is the reason that your ocean has been limiting its food supply or polluting your oceans with junk (even if Right wasn't guilty of either of those. He was a pirate, not a fisher). As a result, Reginald...lost trust in him, even though Right had assisted him for about a month whilst the merman recovered. Perhaps it was related to Reginald's 'clan' situation. He didn't know. Didn't seem to matter now.
At least, however, Reginald was being much gentler and pushing his feelings on the matter behind him to assist the transformed human. That was something Right could appreciate.
The purple painted merman took a seat to the left of Right, pulling the satchel in front of him and unclipping the button that held it together. The shark mercreature was sure to slightly uncurl himself out of his misery as his gaze fell to the contents the other brought out. A variety. Recently slaughtered fish. Some kind of cod. Prawns. Was that octopus? 
"I, erm, didn't know what you fancied, so I tried to find as much as I could." Explained Reginald, putting the batch of octopi to the side; seemed to be one of his favourites. Right, however, went slightly pale at the suggestion. Eating raw fish? Well, prawns were okay sometimes. But cod? Let alone octopi? That sounded like a slimy mess of distress. 
The other must've caught his disgust, as he began saying something along the lines of: "I...understand you're not used to this. But, unless I'm wrong, you-- er-- drylanders don't eat fish fresh, so, it could be better?"
To be fair, Reginald was as much in the dark as he was. And, luckily, he was somewhat correct; getting fresh fish was extremely rare on the surface. Or, at least, being freshly killed.
So, hesitantly, Right reached an arm forward, hands grasping roughly at the cod and inspecting it. Quite clear to see that Reginald had done all the hard labour of cleaning the thing of its insides before presenting himself. A small feeling of gratefulness developed in his soul. Thoughtful, it was. Very kind. 
The shark-merman did find, however, that it was much easier to bite into and chew things with his newly sharpened, second row of teeth. And, frankly, wasn't as bad as he was expecting. Yes, the texture was horrid and he had to push the thought back of eating the thing raw but...not terrible.
"'anks, Reg." Mumbled Right underneath his breath, eyes focused on the meal in his hands. Too focused to not see the bright light shine in Reginald's purple and black eyes, turning his head with a snap. Didn't last long, as the sound of crunching octopus flesh met his finned ears. Well, not after a soft 'you're welcome.'
And now it was quiet.
Both of them, Right knew, were confused. Of course, the taller of the two was much more distressed than he was bewildered, caught between a wave of different emotions. He didn't handle them well; that went for most emotions. Stupid feelings. Stupid attachment. Stupid; all of it.
"I...erm--" Reginald's voice hit his ears, eyes only turning to meet Reginald as his teeth sunk into his cod. The shorter cleared his throat. "I'm sorry-- I don't know of any to this. But-- I'm sure I can find something in time. I-I can assure you, though, I'll try my best to be as fast as possible to get you back to normal."
... What?
"Yer gonna...find me a cure?" 'Cure' was probably a bad word to describe the term, but, both of them knew they were thinking about this situation as if it were a problem. Right turned his attention fully now, letting the cod rest in his hands that fell into his lap (lap?). The other had a crimson look on his face now, looking down at the ground, fumbling with his hands slightly.
"I...figured it would be...appropriate because, well, you helped me a great deal-- and that-- well-- how I--" Reginald brought a hand to his face, rubbing it with his webbed fingers, letting out a small groan of frustration. "--look. I'm sorry about being upset over the dry lander thing on the ship. Ugh-- the clan's been in such a slump. And we've messed up heist after heists because of those wooden whales. And I was frustrated and upset-- and I just--"
The purple and gold merman slumped his face into his hands. "I'm so sick of how miserable The Toppat Shells and the answer was right there, even though you were already so kind to me. I wasn't thinking; I was just mad and upset. And now that's led to--"
Reginald cut off his rambling, looking up from his hands to look at the small concerned yet stern expression of the other merman in the cavern. A hand came to his shoulder, grasping it gently. "If ye 'ink f' a second t'at...t'is--" Right gestured to his lower half. "--is yer fault, yer wrong. Yeah, maybe it was a result of some dumb s'it ye were upset wit', but t'ings were gonna turn out dis way because of the ' on the s'ip t'ing."
"No-No, I'm not saying that." The brunette let out a sigh, brushing a curl out of his face and slumping against the back wall, not moving from the comforting presence on his shoulder. "I-- erm-- just believe I owe you some payment for...everything you've done for me. How I reacted was uncalled for and...consider this an apology, maybe."
Owed him payment? That was an odd thing for an ex-pirate to hear.
He wasn't paid back for anything; that's just how things were on the surface. Steal. Work as a crew. Get the job done. Do it all over again. Right supposed, however, that it did sort of match his out of character performance of helping a dying fish on the beach and growing slightly attached over time. A lot of things were out of character. This whole damn situation was wrong.
A sigh left Right's throat, coming out as a string of bubbles as he brought his hands back into his lap, too leaning back.
"Can't 'ave that, 'orry. If t'ere's one t'ing 've learned being a 'aptain, ye never play princess. Ain't yer responsibility ta change me back, when it ain't even yer fault. Kinda my business, 'onestly. But, if yer committed, we'll...figure it out together, suppose."
Octopi falling to the ground in a stunned grasp, Reginald's eyes turned up and met the brown ones that belonged to Right, blinking several times to understand what he had said. The ex-pirate held back a smirk, feeling slightly satisfied on getting an upper hand. Of course, it didn't last long, since his expression turned into painted, crimson blush at the response from the other.
"S-Sorry, could, erm, I hug you?"
...Hug? Uhm-- It wasn't an odd request, of course. But Hugging
"Erm--" Right let the cod drop into his lap, brushing a hand behind his head to scratch his hair, even if it wasn't itchy. Might as well not bring another problem to this situation. "I mean-- sur--"
Right didn't need to say one word more, as Reginald was suddenly on his chest, wrapping his arms around the other's torso in a tight embrace, face buried into his shoulder. Taking a sharp inhale, the taller of the two felt his face heat up, despite being the cool waters of the seafloor. With much hesitation, Right wrapping his arms around the other, trying his best to not hit his fins or something along those lines (he didn't have a clue to how sensitive they were). Heh. It almost seemed like Reginald was just as choked up at the situation as he was, despite that not being true in the slightest. However, he seemed to be greatly upset by it, at least.
It only lasted a moment, the smaller individual pulling back, keeping his distance and looking slightly awkward. It was clear that Reginald seemed to express appreciation and gratitude through physical affection, even if it was platonic. Didn't exactly clash well with Right's nature of pushing people away when he was emotional. was manageable. The ex-pirate let out a chuckle, scratching his head once more with a cough of bubbles. "'ow about...we start again? Like, bef' all t'is bullshit 'appened."
Before the pirate ship. Before things had gone pear-shaped. Before when the last time they saw each other was on the beach.
The merman before him took a moment of stunned silence before his lips formed into a smile, sticking his hand forward.
"Alright. Hi there. My name is Reginald Coperbottom; second in command of The Toppats Shells!"
A firm handshake was met with a wave of bubbles.
"'ello. 'm Right."
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Things about Iorath Beylon(idk if I posted before, but here we go):
1. He grew up in a backwater town with a small population. Both of his parents were businesspeople and they owned a small prawn shop. Iorath was expected to inherit it and be a businessman like those before him, but he had never liked dealing with people. His parents, however, believed this could be rectified. They forced the young Iorath to stay in the shop to "learn to chat with customers", but the boy absolutely loathed the experience. The only good thing that came out from the tormenting time was that he could play with all the curiosities that the customers left here in exchange of money. One day, a stranger sold a spellbook to his parents, and this opened a whole new world to the young Iorath.
2. Utterly fascinated by the spellbook, he spent all his time trying to decode it. One day, finally, he thought he figured out the first spell. It was find familiar. Iorath was pretty lonely - most of his time was spent in the shop, and when he was free, he was picked by other kids for being weak. That's why he thought having a familiar was not a bad idea, and from what he read, a familiar could communicate with him - he could have a friend, finally! So he conjured away. The problem was that his translation was not pefect, and a mistake led to a small explosion. It left a scar on his right cheek that could not be healed by any means. For some mysterious reasons, his magic still worked, and a kitty appeared before him.
3. Erebus had always considered himself a royalty. He thought he was meant to conquer the world. When he was summoned, he was elated, as it was a sign that his plan could be set into motion. He told the curious young boy that he was the Lord of Darkness, and the boy was lucky to be his first minion. From now on, the boy must address him as "my liege".
4. Little did they know, Erebus was just a normal kitty (well, he was magical in origin, but it was not very special). He could form bonds with Iorath, but that was all. His only special trait was the seemingly insatiable appetite for expensive cat treats. Other than that, he was a greedy, arrogant, and selfish jerk. But Iorath loved him. He still loved Erebus when the wizard learned that his cat was just a normal one. When Iorath found out about the truth, he did not tell Erebus, preferring to let his friend live his own fantasy, although he stopped calling Erebus "my liege". (Well, the young Iorath could be easily fooled despite his intelligence. The adult version sometimes could be, too, because he lacked the wisdom to be discerning).
5. Iorath's parents were furious when they found out that their son experimented with magic and disfigured himself. Iorath had been a handsome fellow, but after the accident, people could only notice his ugly scar (it was probably due to some residual magic in the scar). He had not been popular for his shy and quiet nature, and he was even less liked after acquiring that scar. His parents was angry precisely because of this - such a look and reputation would certainly be detrimental to business. Worse yet, Iorath was their only child, so there was no one else to realise their dream of expanding the prawn shop business.
6. They started to look for people to heal their son's scar. None were successful, but Iorath managed to pick up tricks here and there when he was spending time with the healers. Magic enthralled him. He knew he was going to be a wizard, although wizards were practically myths in this small town.
7. When he exhausted all the materials available to him, he decided to leave. Knowing that his parents would intervene, he told them nothing. He started running small errands in the town to save up for his plan of leaving. When he had enough, he sneaked out from his home, leaving only a note to inform his parents of his intention.
8. Thus his adventuring life began. It was hard. He got injured fairly easily, but thanks to years of good care and having the proper nourishment, he got back up just as quickly. Sadly, his scar had earned him few friends. He could not stay in a place for long because of his ugly look and his nature as a magic user. Sometimes ignorant villagers would consider him as a kind of hags and drove him away with torches and pitchforks.
9. All those did not deter him. He continued to learn whenever he could, and his magical talents grew. He quickly developed an affinity with conjuration spells. Erebus sometimes would got bored of him as all cats did to their humans. But he needed someone receptive to talk to. In those times, he would often conjure magical creatures and spoke with them. He preferred weird creatures, such as monstrous catepillars, because he saw himself in them. They were all monsters to the world.
10. Still Erebus remained his favourite and best friend despite the cat's many shortcomings. It was because Iorath knew Erebus cared for him too. The cat would snuggle with him when he thought Iorath was not awake. It was his immense ego that prevented Erebus to show affection openly. The cat was also the only one who encouraged Iorath to learn magic, as it pleased him to have a "powerful minion". Although Iorath was amused by the motive, deep down, he was grateful for his cat's encouraging words.
11. The cat would get into troubles constantly by challenging creatures way more powerful than him, forcing Iorath to the rescue.(Of course it was not a rescue for Erebus. It was his minion carrying out orders.) Iorath would admonish his cat for his recklessness, but the wizard in fact liked the challenge. When he had a windfall, Iorath would treat his cat with the best fish sashimi he could find. Because of this, he could not stay well-off long. His cat would always demand fine food that would cost all his money. Recently, Erebus was fed Dragon's meat by a powerful sorceress, and since then, he could not shut up about it. Well, it seemed that Iorath still had a long way to go!
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khesi · 6 months ago
Interrupted Study-Date
Summary: While having a study-date (well hopefully more date than study) with your handsome incubus classmate James, things go wrong.
Like they usually do
Words: 1K
Fandom: Seduce Me (Visual Novel)
Paring: Mika Anderson (Reader)/James
Tags: College AU, Gender-Neutral Reader
Rating: Teen 13+
Warnings: None
Read on AO3
Author's Note: (I forgot to post this on here lmao)
Hey! So this was just some practice I did for my up-coming fic. This is not what the story is just gonna be about (in fact I don't plan to have this scene happen until quite later on in the plot). But I had this running through head for days so I had to right it down. Hope you enjoy!
I breath into my numbed hands, trying to warm them up. It’s only early fall, but the cold has picked up quite quickly.
I had assumed before coming to live and study here, that Australia was a hot country. With big kangaroos hoping around, red deserts for miles and shrimps on the barbie. But looking up at the grey clouds covering sky that’s filled with tall city buildings looming over and the lack of jumping marsupials, it’s seems that was false. Also, they call them prawns.
What is weird though, having all the seasons flipped.
I still haven’t gotten over Christmas in summer…I think while rubbing my hands together, trying to get the blood flowing again.
Where is James? He normally isn’t this late. Actually, he is never late. Forever punctuational. I glance over from under the small alcove leading into the café that we choose into the street, trying to catch glass-covered brown eyes. I could’ve just sat inside and waited but I was a bit excited, with it being a date and all.
We’re just studying for the test next week, it’s not a date date, I scowled at myself. But…. says my hopeful romantic side slowly creeping in, He did say “It’s a date.” on the phone. And you know he’s the kinda guy that doesn’t just say-
“Sorry, have you waited long?”
“AUGH!” I jumped, turning to the voice of those brown eyes I had been looking for. “Oh I-ah, no not long” I quickly say, trying to brush off my embarrassing outburst. I catch his outfit, a simple grey long coat with dark pants. And a black turtleneck that seems tight enough to accentuate his build.
Hmm not bad…
He shows that smile that gets all the students in our economics class swooning for (me included). “Well, that’s good. But still, you could have waited inside for me. It’s getting more chilling out as autumn goes on”
I signed “Yeahh I kinda regret not packing my snow jacket, I thought I didn’t need it cause of no snow”
“Actually, it does snow here.” James informs me “Not as much as the northern hemisphere and only really in the high altitudes but they do get a good down fall. My brothers and I went to Mt Bulla last year for a week, it was quite lovely”
“Oh yeah? Huh” I imagined the boys in the snow doing various activists, like Matthew and Damien making snowmen, Sam shredding up the slopes at speeds at are not humanly possible, Erik taking photos for his gram and James probably sitting inside quietly with good book.
“I’d love to go; I missed my white Christmas…” I sign. “It just wasn’t the same you know?”
“Well, we should all go together this year, I’m sure the boys wouldn’t mind. You could even bring your roommate if she'd like to come. But we got a few months until then so in the meantime lets go someplace a little warmer, shall we? After you” While saying all this he opened the café door, with its sliver bell chiming. He then slightly bowed and while not wearing at wearing a cheeky smile, it flashes in those dark eyes of his.
Omg it IS a date.
I quickly thank him, praying that he thinks my heated face is just from the cold and stiffly walk in. I looked around, with it seeming like any other modern trendy café, with warm lighting and little pot-plants. We grabbed seats by the windows looking directly looking across the busy street that was just off the main road.
“I’ll go and order our drinks, the usually?” he asks. I nodded and he goes and wait in line, by a potted fern that, even after me squinting at it for more than I should of, I’m not quite sure is real. I shrugged, turning to the glass, seeing now that it had started to rain. Not heavily, but the kind where after a minute walking under it, you’ll become moderately wet.
I should have brought an umbrella… I signed. I then feel a sudden chill down the back of my neck, making me shiver. “And I should buy a scarf”
“I could knit you one if you would like” James said, as he takes the stool on my right side and sits down. Startled, I glared at him for spooking me once again and this time he does grin.
“I didn’t know you knit” I remarked, shifting in my sit, still feeling that chill.
“You didn’t ask, but yes. I knitted scarfs for all my brothers last year. You’ll probably be seeing Sam wearing his soon.” He tilts his head “Or maybe not. He wasn’t really a fan of the yarn I used. “Too fluffy” he complained” James mused.
I giggled, thinking about my bodyguard standing in the snow with a bright, fluffy pink scarf. With that frown on his face that seems to be a permanent fixture. “That’s a shame” I say, “I would have loved to have seen it.” And taken a photo. Maybe Erik has one…
“Well you might get your chance to see it at least once; I’m making new ones this year with Damien’s help. Although, he didn’t tell me his dislike for the wool until these one were already under way, so he might just refuse to wear it outright” He remarked.
But he says this in a way where he doesn’t seem to be any real regret. And with Damien’s telepathy, he would have probably found out about Sam’s ‘dislike’ of the textile used beforehand. But from what I’ve learned from the year we’ve been friends, he maybe a model elder brother who always tries putting his younger siblings first (sometimes to the detriment of his health), he isn’t above being a little petty and pulling pranks on them.
“Order for James!” called out the barista, listing our drinks in making sure they got them right. “I’ll be back” he tells me before heading off.
I turned to the window again, praying the rain has lessen. Nope, it seems to be pouring harder now.
As I’m thinking about asking if James has an umbrella I can use (he is always prepared and actually checks up the weather, unlike me who just hopes for the best), I catch a glimpse of a lady in front of me on the other side of the window. She is wearing a yellow raincoat with the hood up and has stopped walking, opting to move to side of the footpath while staring down into her handbag quite intently. It’s then as I’m watching and looking closer, I realised that she’s not moving.
And I don’t mean standing still-as-a-statue not moving, I mean like I don’t think she’s breathing. I then glanced around outside more and see that everyone has seemly stopped. A guy across the street who looks to be in mid-step in crossing the road is just hanging in the air, and another man in an expensive business suit with his bag raised over his head, phone in ear with the mouth left open. Even the rain has stopped its heavy down pour, the thick droplets frozen in the air. I’m so transfixed by the scene in front of me, I don’t notice James coming back and sitting beside me once more until I feel his hand push a warm cup into my own.
I whispered “James I think somethings- “and as looked to him, I freeze as cold gold eyes glare at me, with a face I’ve never seen before or thought possible coming from James. It’s then I realise that he’s not looking at me but past me, which rather than sooth me, just freaks me out more. I gathered up my courage and slowly turned my head to left to see what has caught the ire of my demon friend, that’s when I see her.
The woman in question is sitting to the left of us with a chair in the middle between me and her. She is probably one of the most gorgeous people I’ve ever seen and no, I’m not exaggerating. With beautiful long, luscious, brown hair just pooling down her back, cherry red lips begging to kissed and a cute black spaghetti dress that seems way too light for such cold weather but darn she looks good in it.
When I finally shake myself out of her intoxicating presence, the ol’ brain catches up and notices two things:
One, James has raised his left arm behind me, with his forearm brushing my head. He’s pulled out a gun out of out of seems to be thin air, a solid gold one, and is pointing it head on to the red-lipped lady.
And two, the woman has gold eyes, the same shade as James, except these ones are reflecting amusement instead of anger. Like as if it’s a fun game to be at gun point.
I internally sign. Great, more magic shit
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wishingforatypewriter · 8 months ago
(Self-Indulgent Domestic Fluff Alert) 
It was well after midnight when Kuvira got back to the Ba Sing Se estate. She entered quietly, nodding at the extra guards she always had posted around the residence when she knew she’d be away. The idea of one of her enemies—and there were honestly too many to count these days—might try and hurt her family, her children always haunted her to some degree, but it became that much worse whenever she had to leave.
Korra had suggested they share a hotel room and a bottle of soju after they settled the land dispute between the northwestern states, and then remarked that Kuvira must be getting old when she decided to head home instead. As she entered the darkened foyer, stepping over a small obstacle course of robots, building blocks, and dancing shoes through instinct alone, she figured the avatar must have been right.
As she drew closer to the living room, she spotted Baatar on one of the couches, staring at a set of blueprints with a familiar expression that fell on the cusp of focus and exasperation. Their youngest daughter, Shreya, was fast asleep next to her father, with a pillow propped up against his leg and her favorite Avatar Kyoshi doll tucked securely under her arm. How in the name of Oma and Shu had that angelic thing come out of her?
Kuvira hovered in the doorway for a moment, watching father and daughter and wishing she had bought one of those stupid Varri-cams when she had the chance.
“What’s she doing out of bed?” she asked in voice just above a whisper, when she finally felt like making her presence known. “Another nightmare?”
If Baatar was at all surprised by her arrival, it didn’t show. He merely regarded her with a smile and then glanced back down at Shreya. “I think so. She came down a few hours ago saying she wanted to wait up for you.”
Kuvira bent down and ran a hand over the five-year-old’s head, admiring the silver fire-butterfly and dream daisy ornaments woven into her long fishtail braid. It had been some of her finest metal artistry thus far. “Her sisters couldn’t bend these out for her?”
“They tried, but this one was having none of it,” Baatar said, shooting an amused glance her way. “She wanted mommy to do it.”
Kuvira laughed a little, imagining vividly how that exchange must have gone down. “This girl always gets what she wants.”
“Reminds me of someone I know.”
Kuvira made a small, self-satisfied sound and then straightened. “Let me go find a comb–”
Before she could move, Baatar seemed to draw one out of thin air. Kuvira smiled at him and sat down on the couch, only then fully realizing how tired she’d been. She watched her husband shift Shreya—Kyoshi doll and all—from his lap to hers, ever careful not to wake her. 
Kuvira began the intricate work of unbraiding and extracting, bending with one hand and combing with the other, watching closely all the while to make sure her daughter’s hair didn’t get caught on any of the ornaments. 
“Did you eat?” Baatar asked after watching her work for a few minutes.
She hadn’t, now that he mentioned it. Between the meetings, reconnaissance, and airship rides, there hadn’t been much time. “It’s late and the staff are all gone. I’m not going to ask you to cook at this hour.”
“Good thing you don’t have to ask.” Baatar leaned over to kiss her forehead. “What kind of noodles do you want?”
Kuvira sighed, gazing at him fondly. “The wide ones, with prawns.”
“Say no more.”
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