Okay I've only seen like one thing talking about this so I'm writing this
I don't know how many people know what happened this past week in a synagogue in Houston. A man was let into the Congregation Beth Israel of Colleyville by the rabbi, Rabbi Cytron-Walker under the pretense of needing someplace warm. The terrorist later took four people hostage, one was let out slightly before the other three. The rabbi and vice president of the shul used tactics thye had learned in security training to bring them closer to the exit and at the exact right moment, the rabbi threw a chair at the terrorist and they escaped.
These people weren't freed, the police didn't get them out, they escaped. They credit the training they got that is necessary to work in a synagogue as the thing that got them out. The FBI later commented how impressed they were with Rabbi Cytron-Walker's ability to stay calm and the strategies they used. Training at the level that the FBI is impressed by was necessary for these people to get home safely from services. I went to shul (synagogue) in America for a while. I have never been to an American shul that didn't have security guards posted at all times the shul was open, I have never been to one without extensive security and rabbis with training. Those are the necessities of Jews in America.
The terrorist was let in as an act of kindness. It was unusually cold so the rabbi let him in even though he didn't know who he was and went to get him some hot tea. It was later wondered why he was let in at all, that's how careful many shuls have to be. Because of this and far too many similar incidents, shuls have to constantly reconsider if they should extend kindness to strangers at the risk of their lives.
Anti-semetism isn't some far off idea that died when the Holocaust ended. Anti-semetism is a very real and prevalent issue that needs to be taken seriously. There's an an American congresswoman in office now, Marjorie Greene, who compared mandatory masks to the Holocaust, a genocide that destroyed European Judaism and murdered 6 million Jews, and claimed that the Rothschilds sent laser beams into space causing the horrific forest fires in California. She was elected. She is just one representative of the anti-semetism that is still rampant in society and in government. I send my support and best wishes to those who escaped the hostage situation in Texas and to all my fellow Jews. Goyim are encouraged to reblog as well.
—you really got me bad, now i’m gonna get you back! (part 1: wide awake and waiting for the sun)
pairing: villian!hawks/keigo takami x fem!reader
warnings: yandere elements (drugging, kidnapping, all the things that happen in a bad wattpad story lol), violence, killing/death, blood, eventual smut, mention of rutting, possessiveness, slight manga spoilers
a/n: misery by maroon 5 is my current brain rot rn don’t ask. also @innocentnymph plzzz be awake and treat this as a gift
Keigo Tamaki hates it when people wastes his time.
His whole being is built on being fast. His time at the Commission, his hero career, and now his empire— he gained it all quickly without hardly ruffling his feathers. He sinks his talons in and moves on. His morning routine takes him exactly 15 minutes, he can kill with a snap of his fingers, and, hell, he can fucking fly.
So when this slow-talking imbecile, who is clearly sweating through his suit, babbles during his business meeting, Keigo can't help but be annoyed.
Keigo thrums his neat nails against the table before glancing out the window, sighing under his breath. The weather was chilly— quite cloudy for Musutafu with wcool breeze weaving its way rbetween skyscrapers. Cars slowly push through the busy streets, people bustling on the sidewalks. Though he's on the highest floor, Keigo can still see the details of each individual person with his hawk-like vision. Mindlessly, with his hand balancing up his head, he follows them as they walk down blocks, open doors for one other, laugh at a joke—
Keigo's breath catches. He glances up— to make sure that no one has noticed the way his eyes widened like saucers— before he dips his attention back down, back to the girl he didn't think he'd ever see again. Back to you.
You're sitting outside a coffee shop, even though it's seemingly too cold to do so. Your brows are pulled down in concentration, bottom lip tucked between your teeth as you read something on your phone. An index finger is busy looping around the rim of your teacup. You put your phone down before lifting the cup, lips pouting slighly to blow over it before taking a hesitant sip. It must be satisfactory, since you give the tiniest sliver of a smile before drinking more.
He'd forgotten about you. But not anymore.
Keigo jerks his head back up. "Yeah, yeah. Just have it done."
He has no idea what he's agreeing to. But he does know what he's sinking his talons into next.
Someone is watching you.
You've felt a heavy gaze following you since your visit to the coffee shop, even as you headed to the hospital for work. You glance around the halls cautiously, not sure what to expect. A ghost, maybe?
"There you are!"
You jump as a hand slaps your back, but your nerves quickly settle at the sight of a familiar face. "Hey, Natsu."
Natsuo grins but his face falls as he notices your tense state. “What’s wrong?”
“Nah, it’s…” You wave it off. “What did you need to call me in for?”
His expression becomes grim.
Natsuo Todoroki is inarguably your favorite person in the world. During incredibly long shift of dealing with grumpy and angry patients, Natsuo is the one who makes you smile through it. You’d think he’d have the opposite of a cooling quirk with the way he warms the hospital.
To see him this upset about something that isn’t his father makes you sick to your stomach.
“There’s been this string of patients coming in.” Natsuo says as he leads you down the hall. “And, well, they’re all the same— lowly criminals. Not anything we haven’t seen before.”
You digest his words. “Another gang fight?”
“We aren’t sure yet. The police is working with us, but the markings on them are what’s off.”
“You’d think.” Natsuo opens the doors to the sectioned-off portion of the ICU— which was already a bad sign that he was bringing you in here— and you immediately freeze at the sight.
5 of the beds have a host wrapped in the heaviest of bandages around their necks, yet blood still seeps through the cloth to give it a pink tint. The wrists of each patient are clinked into handcuffs, but it seems satirical with the unconscious state of the criminals.
The hum of shallow breaths and heart monitors fogs your brain. “What the fuck?”
Natsuo clears his throat before lowering his voice to a whisper. “Every single one of them had their carotid arteries slashed. There were 12 of them. We couldn’t save the other 7 and they were sent for an autopsy.”
You swallow. “And?”
“They thought it was a knife but they couldn’t match the markings to an exact weapon. Maybe it’s some weird knife quirk, I don’t know. I asked Shoto but he hasn’t found anything in the system.”
Your hand inadvertently drifts to your own neck, feeling for the pulsing vein with the tips of your fingers. “How’d the killer manage to nick all of them in the right spot?”
Natsuo narrows his eyes. “That’s what’s freaking me out. There’s only one wound on each patient and it always hit the artery.”
He jerks his head back out the door and you follow, quite anxious to leave the room anyway.
“The police and heroes are trying to keep this under wraps, until they find more information. But I’m telling all the staff anyway for safety reasons. The fact is that there’s a skilled killer on the loose.”
Your tongue feels heavy in your mouth. “What do we do?”
Natsuo pulls together the smallest of a smile. You can tell that he’s faking it to ease away your worry, which does make your heart melt at his graciousness but does nothing to stop you from internally panicking. “All we can do is to stay safe, that’s all.”
You went home soon after, since you had the whole week off before your next shit. Yet, you stayed in your apartment for the next few days, sheltered for the sake of your safety. A few texts from Natsuo revealed that three more people were brought into the ICU with the same wound. You promptly turned off your phone and triple-checked every lock in your apartment.
When you finally got called back into work, you distracted yourself with your job. Shrieking patients in pain only dulling down after you place a gentle hand on theirs, your quirk resolving the issue within seconds. Yet, the nagging fear in the back of your mind of the serial killer roaming the streets of Mustafu makes you lose a track of time. One patient turns into forty until you realize just how much you’ve overused your abilities.
“Hey, why don’t you go home?” Natsuo frowns as he seems the way your hands tremble, a tell-tale sign of you working too hard. “I’ll drive you back.”
You nod, relieved. No way could you walk to your apartment now.
“Of course you’d drive a Tesla.” You laugh as Natsuo leads you to his sparkling white car, the T practically winking at you.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” He pouts, making you giggle even more. He opens the side door for you, the gentleman that he is.
“It means it’s expected. Anyways, Natsu, how do you adjust the seat? This shit is going to kill my back.”
It takes you a moment to realize that Natsuo hadn’t even shut the door for you. He’s not standing next to the car, even though he was right there a moment ago.
Silence. Leaves scrape the ground ominously.
Your legs swing out of the car swiftly, though they feel like jello when you find your placing on the ground. The parking lot has sparse cars, but is vacant of any people.
A hand slaps over your mouth, cloth against your nose. The smell is immediate, overpoweringly sweet and sticky. It reminds you of your childhood, licking away at cherry-flavored popsicles that dripped down your fingers. It also reminds you of your organic chemistry class in college, the warnings that your professor has drilled into you, the large “DO NOT INHALE” sticker on the side of one of the bottles.
But that memory took too long to emerge— you’re already slumping in the grip of the stranger, black dots swimming in your vision.
“Please don’t kill me.” You whisper to no one in particular, hoping that some being beyond can save your fate. A hero.
“You’re gonna wish I did.” The stranger chuckles before everything goes dark.
Your brain feels like wisps of cotton candy when you finally gain consciousness. You crack your eyes open, but the immediate light makes you hiss. After a few blinks, you peak down and see that you're sitting in a metal chair in the middle of an empty warehouse. Your wrists are clasped behind your back in red rope, which dig into your delicate skin.
Too busy deciding whether dislocating your thumbs is worth the pain in order to break free, you don't notice that you are not alone.
"She's awake. Tell the boss."
A chill crawls its way up your spine. You turn your head as best as you can, catching a glimpse of a handful of men in black suits. Your hands become slick with sweat when you notice how each of them have a holster and gun. Dateline did not prepare you for this.
"C'mon." One of them— who has way too much gel in his hair— grabs you by your bicep and pulls you out of the chair. Your feet stumble trying to keep up with him.
Your mind swarms with questions, but your inate instincts tell you to keep quiet. As Gel Hair (yes, you’ve nicknamed him and everything) drags you through the hall with the others following close behind, you try your best to take in all the details you can.
The warehouse door leads to a well-furnished hallway— one like that of a 5-star hotel. The cream wallpaper and gold decals are in pristine shape. The crimson patterned carpet has a shade too close to that of blood. The chandeliers swing above you like icicles ready to impale you with every step. The men behind you chatter quietly, but you catch some of the words. Office. Mission. Killed.
"Hey, let's go." Gel Hair grunts, tugging your elbow harder. You hadn't realized that your legs tensed up at that last word.
The group stops at a grand door, two guards with the same suit attire standing side to side. Instead of a gun in their holster, they each hold an assalt rifle— the ones you only see in action movies. You feel faint.
"This her?" One of them asks, and Gel Hair nods. The guard prompty swings the door open. And you stubbornly plant your feet further into the ground, refusing to enter.
A sickening feeling coats your body. It's the same sensation you get when you peer over the edge of a cliff, when you catch a glimpse of a black cat wandering down an alley, when you get an emergency call from the hospital during your break.
An overwhelmingly powerful force within you knows that something terrible will happen if you set foot through that office.
"The fuck are you doing? Move!" Gel Hair snarls, yanking you forward.
You squirm in his grip, desperately pulling back. "No! Let me go, you fucking asshole! You have the wrong person!"
Filled to the brim with desperation, you do the only thing you can. You shriek at the top of your lungs.
The two guards notibly cringe before lifting their guns in defense. Gel Hair slaps his palm over your mouth. Perfect.
You chomp down on his hand.
The feeling of pride at Gel Hair's blood-curdling scream and the taste of metal is short-lived. He slaps you hard, but you don't— can't— register the pain, not when he'd pulled out his gun and pressed the barrel up against your forehead.
"You crazy bitch, I'm gonna blow your fucking brains out. Ha?" He grins as you whimper, heart thrumming so hard that you have to read his lips to understand what he's saying. "Don't care that you're the boss's girl, I'm gonna kill you. How does—”
There's a flash of red. That's it. This is it. You were shot in the head, cause of death: brain hemorrhage. You can picture your graveyard: Here lies a daughter, a healer, a friend. But the red clears and Gel Hair is still and expressionless. Blood spurts from his neck, spraying droplets against your face as if it were an empty canvas. He crumples to the floor, gasping and clawing at his wound.
Again, all you can do is scream.
Your knees buckle as you fall to the ground as pure and utter shock chills you to your bone.
"What did I tell you all? She's precious cargo!" A voice chirps disappointedly, like a parent scolding their child. The sound crashes over you like a wave, roaring and echoing in familiarity.
You slowly lift your head. It can’t be.
“Well. At least he wasn’t one of our better members.”
A tight black-and-gold shirt is paired with baggy khakis. The belt around the waist glints golden Hs across the band. And behind him, large vermillion plumes drape behind his back like a deranged version of a cape.
No fucking way.
His golden eyes squint as he smiles, the black markings at the corners of his eyes sharpening his glare on you. “Hey, sweetheart.”
The “rope” holding your wrists together unfurls, looping around your face to flaunt itself as a feather, before it finds it’s place back to Keigo’s wings.
“Didn’t want to meet this way but, y’know.”
“What the fuck?” The venom coating your words surprises you, but it’s understandably. “You kidnapped me? You… you’e the one who killed all those people, didn’t you? Keigo, you’re on Japan’s Most Wanted—“
“Memorized my wiki page, huh?“
He’s laughing. Your blood simmers beneath your skin. He’s killing people for fun and he’s laughing.
Even though the Commission capitalized on your healing quick, they did teach you basic self-defense and fighting techniques.
You aim for his legs. An easy sweep, so long as you pounce quickly and hit right above the knees.
Of course, you’d forgotten just how strong he is.
As you lunge in his direction, two feathers circle around each of your wrists and tug you back. Unshed tears from the stress, the fear, the anger spill over your waterline.
“What do you want from me?” You scowl, teeth bared and ready to lash out.
“Your compliance.” Keigo takes a few steps forward, bending down to your height. You can’t pull away as he brings a calloused hand to your face, gently cupping your cheek. “We can’t have you biting away at my men, can we?”
You can feel bile rising up. “And why the hell should I listen to anything you say?”
“Hmm…” Keigo hums, the edge of his grin stretching even wider, Joker-esque. “We do have your Todoroki boy with us, don’t we?”
You blink, heart sinking. “No.”
“If you comply, then there’s no need to worry.” Keigo gives your cheek a pat before rising back up to his full height. His shadow paints over you, sealing your fate.
“Take her back to the bedroom. And someone, clean this shit up. I don’t need the scent of blood in my hallway.”
“That went well, huh?”
“Shut the fuck up, Jin.”
Keigo clenches and unclenches his fists, snarling as he makes his way back into his office. He didn’t want to scare you away, but the fear and fury in your eyes confirmed it all.
But, you’re tough. You can handle a little blood, right?
Besides, spring is creeping in quickly. He’s already showing signs of his impending rut— nails growing sharp, eyes becoming more slanted and predatory. Hell, he’s surprised that he didn’t rip that Todoroki boy to shreds when Keigo caught his scent on you. His business partner, Dabi, wouldn’t be too pleased if Keigo tore into his beloved brother.
Nevertheless, Keigo needs you to comply soon. Because he’s about to lose every ounce of his self-control once spring begins.
what’s happening in the UK right now: the murder of sarah everard, who went missing in london last week and whose body was found a few days ago and the publication of a survey which found that 97% of women in the UK have experienced sexual harassment has caused public uproar about misogyny and violence against women. sarah, who went missing as she walked home from a friend’s house, did everything women are “supposed to” as she walked home in the dark: wear bright clothing, stick to main roads, walk under bright street lights. the last image of her alive is from CCTV footage taken about 30 mins walking distance from her home, in which she can be seen talking to her boyfriend on the phone. the man who’s been charged with her murder is a cop. and not just any cop, a diplomatic protection officer, which means he’s one of around 5% of cops in the UK that carries a gun, although he was allegedly off duty at the time and we don’t know how sarah was murdered yet. FIVE independent investigations have been opened in connection to the cop’s arrest. the uk gov is going to debate making misogyny a hate crime. violence against women isn’t new, but this level of outrage is significant.
update: a peaceful vigil that was held tonight at clapham common, london, one of the last places sarah walked through before her abduction (source), has turned violent. (the relevant hashtag is #reclaimthesestreets.) the london met police are now snatching and arresting peaceful protestors, less than two weeks after one of their fellow officers snatched sarah off the street and murdered her. (sources x,x) sarah was a white woman, so this protest against the police is specifically with regards to their misogyny and male violence against women in general.
the angel that challenges God is doomed to fall. but he’s no fallen angel, and his story isn’t paradise lost. rather, his descent goes something like this:
he is a man—a mere sinner, and far from the first.
see, a fallen angel understands that it is eternally dammed; it does not attempt to fight its way back to the top only to inevitably plummet back down again. but a human when given the gift of flight clings to the hope of salvation and flies higher and higher, not minding that it is a great ways down if it means being just a little closer to heaven. and he knows what it means to fall from that height and survive. what it means to stumble. what it means to get back up over, and over, and over again.
his fall from grace was not divine or beautiful or even significant. his wings simply became weary of pushing up against the wind.
No prompt this time, just a sequel to ‘Welcome To Evil-Mart’
Working at Evil-Mart is usually… well, it’s retail. It’s physically exhausting, you have to deal with a lot of idiots without being overtly rude, and your feet hurt. Even though the hours and pay are very good, the benefits are great, and our bosses treat us well compared to most retail employees, it’s still not what I’d call a fun job.
But it’s not what I’d call dull, either. Especially not on days like today.
I was promoted to supervisor after the Food Poisoning Incident, so I have a little more authority and a little less obligation to be pleasant and I got issued a weighted cosh because sometimes Evil-Mart customers get… feisty. I’d never had to use it, though, because those who hadn’t seen what I did to Majority Rules, either in person or on one of the cell-phone videos that circulated afterwards, had at least heard about it. They didn’t give me any trouble.
I was halfway through my shift, and the worst things that’d happened had been running out of croissants and a machine oil spill in Aisle Seven, when our greeter pressed the alarm button, which sent an alert to my handset. As front-end supervisor, that meant me, so I went over. Sam, who is unusual in the henching community for having actually aged out rather than ‘being retired’ jerked his chin in the direction of a tall, swaggering figure. “He just came in,” he whispered.
I did a full double-take before I took it in. Superdyne. Fucking Superdyne.
We’d all heard about his dramatic heel-turn a couple of months ago. The whole world had heard about it. Superdyne, who’d skated closer and closer to the line for years, had decided to cross it in a blaze of bloodshed. He was a villain now, he said. There’d been a whole speech about how ingratitude had driven him to it blah blah blah.
I work at Evil-Mart. I’m from a hench family. If someone becomes a supervillain because they hate Mondays or want to turn us all into dinosaurs or whatever, I don’t judge. I will sell depth-charges and laser guns to anyone who can prove they’re over eighteen without hesitation. But even we get kind of grossed out by the ‘I am forced to turn evil because I haven’t been given enough love’ thing. People who are actually so fucked up by emotional abuse or neglect or some superhero killing their family, we’re fine with them. But they don’t say that’s why they do it, and most of them need a lot of therapy to even realize it. People who actually say that’s why are entitled dickwads.
And now the dickwad had walked into Evil-Mart like he was entitled. Like he thought he was one of us.
“Lockdown protocols,” I told Sam quietly. “On my authorisation.” That takes a minute or two, though, so I went over to talk to Superdyne. “Sir, I have to ask how you even knew where to find this place.”
He smirked at me. “I have my ways,” he said smugly. He’d either bribed or beaten someone, that was my guess. “So this is where the villains shop? We all thought you went to Wal-Mart.” He laughed, like he thought it was clever.
“Yes, so you all say,” I said dryly. I didn’t feel like pretending he was the first person to make the bad joke. “My next question, sir, is what made you think it was a good idea to come in here.”
He spread his hands. “I’m one of you now!” he said happily. “I’m a bad guy! So now I guess I shop where the bad guys shop!” He looked around, frowning a little. “Although I was expecting more weapons and explosives. A… more villainous atmosphere. I didn’t know Evil-Mart had fresh produce.”
“I don’t advise buying herbs here unless you’re a magical practitioner. Some of them have… unusual effects.” A lot of our produce is normal stuff, but some of it not only isn’t legal, it doesn’t exist anywhere else.
“Oh. Well, that makes sense. But the bright lights and the bakery?”
“We have excellent gluten-free breads. In many ways, Superdyne, this is just another store. We have sales, we mark down the breads in the afternoon, we even have a PA system.” I pulled out my handset, and thumbed the button that tied it to the PA. “Attention, shoppers,” I said in my most soothing Customer Service voice, which made him grin. “Evil-Mart wishes to inform you – “ The countdown on my handset reached zero, and I turned to look at the entrance as a huge blast door thudded down. That was the last part of the sequence – staff outside the area were already in lockdown and security were on their way. I smiled, and continued almost without a pause. “- That we are in lockdown at this time, due to the presence of Superdyne in the store. Please remain calm, and be advised that security are on their way to deal with the problem. If you have a personal grudge that you wish to address with Superdyne at this time, he is standing near Register Six with a stupid expression on his face.”
He was staring at me, stunned. “But… but…” he stammered, and damned if he didn’t look puzzled. “But I’m one of you now!”
“No,” I said flatly. “You were always evil, that’s true, but you’ll never be one of us. And for the record, I’m one of the people with a personal grudge. All those henchmen you’ve killed and maimed had families, asshole… and they all shop here.”
He swung at me, then, but I spent years in hench training. Even someone super-strong can be dodged, and once I slammed my cosh into his groin a few times his punches got a lot more aimless. Around then, Tiger Ty came over the register, claws out and snarling, and I figured I should stand out of the way.
About ten minutes later, I turned on the PA again. “Clean-up to Register Six,” I called, in the same special voice. “Category 7, class three. Shoppers, please be advised that lockdown is now lifted but Register Six will be closed until clean-up is completed.”
Hunter, who’d been working Register Six, came out from underneath it. He looked a little green. Well, he was still in his teens, this was probably his first fatal mobbing. “What’s Category 7?” he asked in a shaky voice. “I haven’t heard that before.”
“Oh. Class three?”
“Send three people. He was a juicy one.” I stepped away from a spreading puddle of blood. “Run and get a couple of caution signs we can put around this mess.” I eyed it measuringly. “And one of those fifteen-gallon plastic tubs with a lid, I’ll damage it out.”
He eyed the mess. “Are you sure that’s big enough?”
“Yeah, the average human is only about seventeen gallons by volume, and I’m not going to put all the blood and mush in there, just the big pieces.”
He gulped. “Ah. Yes, ma’am.”
I called after him when he ran off. “One of the black tubs, not a clear one!” Which honestly should only be common sense, but you can’t count on a flustered teenager to have common sense.
We frown on killing customers at Evil-Mart, up to a point… but when a particularly murderous super-hero walks into our store, well, that’s something else. I’d have to fill out a ton of paperwork, though.
I had to chase off one of Doctor Malign’s minons and two members of the Genetic Reign before the clean-up crew arrived, both of whom urgently wanted samples. In the end I scraped a few pieces of liver and unidentified organ into two of the bags we use for possibly-contaminated money just to make them go away. (They’re good customers, and it was just going to go in the trash anyway.)
By the time the clean-up was done, all the big pieces were boxed up, and I’d finished the paperwork, my shift had been over for twenty minutes, and I’d been asked to come up to the boss’s office.
“Listen, I have no issues with how you handled the situation, I want you to know that.” Mr Trent leaned back in his chair, tapping his fingertips together. “It was quick, it was efficient, and… given your personal history with Superdyne, not to mention mine and that of half of our customer base… richly deserved.”
“Yes, sir,” I said. It came out too meek, and I cleared my throat and straightened up. It’s hard not to be intimidated by Mr Trent, when you’re in the same room with him. It’s not his fault, and he does his best, but even under the strictest control his fear-inducing powers tend to unsettle anyone who gets too close. We all know he’s not doing it on purpose and we try not to show our reactions. “Do you have any orders regarding the remains?”
“Doctor Order wants them.” He rubbed his chin. “Get someone from the pharmacy to prepare samples for him, please, including brain tissue. He’s our primary supplier, and we can’t offend him. As for the rest… as you know, I’m retired, and I don’t usually participate in the Endless War.” One of his hands dropped to his left thigh. His prosthetic leg is some of Doctor Order’s best work, but the injury that led to his retirement had been brutal even by our standards. “But this is different. Superdyne came here. To our place of safety. We need to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
I nodded. “Do you want the remains dumped somewhere public? Some kind of dramatic display?”
“No. Something more direct.” He rubbed his chin again, then tapped the intercom on his desk. “Iris, please send up Miss Fedorova from Marketing and Mr Levy from the warehouse.”
“Yes, sir,” Iris responded, and he clicked off the intercom again.
“The three of you worked together very well, during the food poisoning incident,” he explained. “And I believe they can assist us in a satisfactory conclusion.” He hesitated, then smiled ruefully. “Perhaps you should wait outside until they get here. I can tell I’m unsettling you.”
“Sir, I know you’re not – “
“Not doing it on purpose.” He sighed. “I do appreciate how hard you all work to make me feel… accepted, I really do. But I’m very annoyed right now, which makes control more difficult for me, so I think we’d both be more relaxed if you waited outside while I do my meditation exercises.”
I waited outside. When the three of us went into his office again, the miasma of low-level fear was definitely a bit lighter, and he smiled. “All right. Now, this conversation is going to be very confidential, and I will remind you all of the agreements you signed when you were employed.” We all chorused agreement, and he nodded. “Good. Now, this is very much a secret, even among Evil-Mart staff, but we do have a few online clients who are… ah… on the other side of the fence.”
Ms Fedorova blinked. “What?”
Knuckles sighed. “We ship to a few heroes,” he explained. “The ones who are… less homo than sapiens, if you get my drift.”
I didn’t, and from her expression Ms Fedorova didn’t either. Mr Trent spread his hands, drawing our eyes to his fingers. Which as a rule nobody looks at, because there’s fourteen of them, with four joints in each finger, and we know he’s self-conscious about it. “The less… purely human ones,” he said quietly. “One of the reasons I created Evil-Mart was to give those who can’t pass for human, like me, a place to be… people. To have dignity. So that the obligate carnivores weren’t reduced to living on pet-food or scavenging for scraps, so that those with complex metabolisms could get the supplements they need so that people who are still people, for all their outward differences, could shop in safety. There are a great many more monsters, demigods, abominations of science and other non-standard persons among our set than among the heroes, and I wanted to meet their needs, as well as selling weapons and Lair-away-from-home sets and so on.”
“And there are a few heroes who order from us for that reason,” Knuckles added. “The ones who can’t get medications to suit their metabolism, or need to eat things that you can’t get easily anywhere else.”
I nodded, because that much I understood. We have some very esoteric ‘dietary supplies’ that start with fresh, healthy, well-treated and disease-free prey animals frozen whole (from mouse up to calf and goat kept in stock, larger sizes by pre-order, halal and kosher certified where possible) and end with human blood (rejected blood bank stock mostly, we have an arrangement), and human flesh and organs (sourced from hospitals, morgues and crematoriums, guaranteed no murder, at least not by us). “Well, I suppose that makes sense. I’m surprised we ship to them, though.”
“Oh, they don’t know we know. It’s all assumed names and secret bank accounts.” Knuckles grinned. “But Mr Trent has all our online customers identified before we ship. And for the ones who don’t have any other options, well… we let it slide.”
“I can see why you don’t want that to get out.” Ms Fedorova tapped her chin. “What does this have to do with disposing of the body? I was planning to set up a really ghoulish display in a public place somewhere, I already have some sketches.” Marketing for Evil-Mart is… well, it includes more than designing our sale flyers.
“No. We’re going to deliver them to a hero… one of the ones who owes us… and make it very clear that just because someone decides to admit he’s a villain, that doesn’t make him one of us and it doesn’t entitle him to union services,” Mr Trent said flatly. “I want to make it crystal clear to all of them that a heel turn does not mean their sins are forgiven, or that we will accept them as anything other than a very brief amusement.”
Late that night – we were all on overtime, but it couldn’t be done in daylight – we wheeled a cart down the run-down hallway of a shoddy apartment building. “This is a terrible address for a hero,” Ms Fedorova muttered. “Are we sure he lives here?”
“I deliver here a couple of times a month.” Knuckles was pushing the cart. “I’m sure.”
“Okay.” Ms Fedorova cleared her throat, coughed once or twice, and suddenly her voice was deeper and her very faint Russian accent was as thick as pea soup. “This is intimidation tactic,” she said, grinning toothily. “Do not act surprised.”
I knocked on the door, but let Knuckles do the talking. “Delivery, Mr West,” he called, using the fake name the guy had been giving.
It worked… the door was unlocked and opened almost immediately. “I scheduled the order for next – “ the mark said, and then we were pushing inside, slamming the door behind us.
“Do not be alarmed, Mr… Dinoid, is it?” Ms Fedorova said, folding her arms. “Evil-Mart is knowing all along your real identity. But you are needing to eat, and we are not turning down regular business, so we make no trouble.”
Knuckles rolled his eyes behind her back at how much she was hamming it up, but I waved a hand. Let her have her fun. So Knuckles started unloading the boxes onto the table while she talked. “First, your Budget Bunny Box. Your favourite, da?” The next box, smaller, plunked down. “Two fresh chickens, halal certified, healthy and having lived good life, gift for good customer.” Knuckles dumped the plastic tub on the floor. “And mortal remains of Superdyne, with note.”
Dinoid was staring at us, but that made him shift into a combat stance, his long claws spread. “The… Superdyne’s dead? And in there?”
“Well. Most of him. The big pieces.” Ms Fedorova shrugged an impressively Russian shrug. I hadn’t even known that was a thing, but when she did it, it was obvious. “You must understand, when a mob tears a man apart, it is hard to find every little piece.”
“I’m pretty sure Doctor Malign and the Genetic Reign took off with doggy bags,” I said, as if I hadn’t handed them over myself. “And Doctor Order probably has some of him too, by now. So looking out for clones would be a good idea, I don’t know if that’s in the note.”
Insofar as that reptilian face could show readable expressions, he looked shocked. “Why on earth would… why? He changed sides? And why did you bring him to me?”
“We know your address, we know you don’t want to turn us in because we’re the only ones who can supply your meals, and our boss wanted us to make this very clear.” I indicated the note. Since Ms Fedorova was hamming up her Sexy Russian Supervillain act, and Knuckles was very obvious Muscle, I figured it was on me to be the Reasonable One. “He might have stopped being a hero, but that didn’t make him one of us. That didn’t make him acceptable to us. Our boss wants it made very clear that your failures shouldn’t expect to be accepted by us… or even spared by us.”
He shifted slowly, the tip of his tail twitching. “I… see. I understand why you would reject Superdyne. He was notorious for killing and maiming people on… your side. But I know other defectors have been accepted. Philomel, for example.”
“Philomel was child of villains. She is young, she is rebellious, she sides with heroes for a while.” Ms Fedorova shrugged. “Is understandable, da? The young do foolish things. She comes home, all is forgiven.”
He nodded slowly. “Tenebrous?”
“That story I don’t know.” Ms Fedorova glanced at me.
I nodded. “Tenebrous was just a kid. He was twelve when Varide recruited him. Nineteen when he broke with the guy. Varide put a kid into combat, left him with massive PTSD, then ditched him when he had a breakdown and went too far. Mx Frantique at least made sure he had a safe place to stay and some therapy.”
“It’s happened a few times.” Knuckles rested his elbows on the cart’s handles, his inhumanly big, strong hands dangling. “But there’s a process. A system. If someone’s sponsored by a villain in good standing, like Frantique sponsoring Tenbrous, they can be accepted. Nobody gets to just choose to join. Especially not a smug, entitled prick like Superdyne.”
Ms Fedorova suddenly leaned forward, scowling. “And why are you called Dinoid? You are not dinosaur. You are clearly monitor lizard. Golden monitor, I think.” She reached out and prodded his arm. “And not healthy, either. Look at colouration! You do not keep environment humid enough. Are having trouble with shedding, da?”
Now we were all staring at her. “You’re a lizard expert now?” Knuckles asked.
She shrugged. “What? Is hobby. Mamma’s little Varanus Acanthurus are pride and joy. Sadly, cannot keep larger monitors in city. Is unkind.”
Dinoid ran a hand over his head slowly. “Not many people realize,” he said slowly. “That’s why I order from you guys. I used to get frozen… food… from a pet supplier, but then I got contacted by someone who told me there was another option.”
“Is good thing. Those pet suppliers, they are rogues. They do not keep animals healthy, can get diseases or mites from those things.” Ms Fedorova sniffed. “I would never buy from them. My babies would get sick.”
He actually chuckled, then, seeming to relax a bit. “You’re not wrong. After… this happened… I got really sick a couple of times before I figured out what to eat, and where to get it. And even the reputable suppliers don’t always have the healthiest stock.” He opened his mouth wide, making a gagging noise. “You have no idea how bad that ‘reptile food’ is. Eating whole animals may be a little disgusting, but it’s nothing to some of that stuff.”
“I believe it,” I said emphatically. “There’s a reason Evil-Mart has such an extensive pet-food line. The horror stories we hear from some of our customers… well, you’d believe it, I bet, but most humans just look confused.”
Knuckles nodded, and spread his hands. “People who can’t pass for regular humans… or even for people, the way most normies see it… are a lot more common on our side of the fence than yours. That’s why we delivered to you. We figured you really needed it.”
“Does he order from the pharmacy?” Ms Fedorova was around behind him now, examining his back. “He is having calcium deficiency, am betting. He needs nutritional supplement.”
“I take a nutritional supplement,” he said defensively.
“The one for normal-sized lizards is not enough for man-sized monitor/human hybrid,” she said firmly. “Check pharmacy section next time. We are having excellent selection of supplements for hybrids, and chart to tell you how much to take for body-mass.”
He looked back and forth between the three of us. “You people are… not what I would have expected from an evil supermarket.”
“We may be… morally challenged,” I said, shrugging, “but we’re not heartless.” I looked around his tiny, shabby apartment. “Unlike some of your lot. I thought you were on a team. Why are you living here?”
He ducked his head. “I couldn’t live at the base,” he said, his tail drooping. “My… I made people uncomfortable. And the stipend isn’t much.”
“Isn’t much? With the merchandising deals they have?” Ms Fedorova sounded shocked, and the accent had dropped back a lot. “I know for a fact that if the accountants ever got hold of their books they’d owe more in back taxes than… well, than Evil-Mart would if our illegal product arm ever got discovered. And we pay our taxes on the legitimate stuff scrupulously.”
Dinoid blinked rapidly, though I couldn’t tell whether he was more surprised by her suddenly dropping her act or the idea that Evil-Mart pays taxes. “You do?”
“Of course. Not under that name, of course, there’s a shell company.” She sniffed. “All villains do. Al Capone, you know. We’re not getting caught that way again.”
Knuckles and I both nodded when he looked at us, and he shook his head. “Huh. Makes sense, I guess.”
“It does.” I looked around again. The place really was crappy. “I know it’s a personal question, Mr… West, but under the circumstances I’d like to know… how much is that stipend?”
He looked down at the floor for a while, then cleared his throat. “Uh. $1100 a month.”
We all stared at him. Ms Fedorova’s mouth fell open. Knuckles looked shocked, and I was horrified. “$1100 a month?!” I asked, my voice coming out louder than I’d intended. “For risking your life on a superhero team?! I have teenaged cashiers working part-time who make more than that!”
He looked almost as startled as we did. “For working a cash register?!”
“Evil-Mart pays pretty good.” Knuckles shrugged. “But that stipend is disgusting.”
“You are being exploited,” Ms Fedorova said, sounding really aghast. “That is terrible. Why, baseline henchman pay is twice that, and there are danger bonuses and…” Her voice dropped suddenly. “You don’t have a union, do you?”
“A union? Of course we don’t have a…” He trailed off. “You mean you do?”
“Of course we do. An extremely well-armed one.” Ms Fedorova folded her arms. “Henchmen And Allied Industries has represented us for generations. The last time a supervillain executed a union henchman for failure, he was boiled in oil… literally. On camera. Oh, of course some of the less reputable villains just pick up small-time trash from the streets, untrained rabble from the gangs and so on, so they can treat them as disposable, but we union members are skilled workers, with rights and protections. I bet you don’t even get overtime.”
“Of course not. Crime happens when it happens, and we have to…” He trailed off. “You guys get overtime?”
“We’re getting double time and a half for this conversation. And an extra day off.”
His eyes widened again. “Really? Wow, that’s… even when I was working a regular job, before this, I didn’t get pay like that.” He looked down at his hands and bared his teeth in what looked like an unhappy expression. “And now I can’t work anything but this kind of job. People don’t like having a scary dinosaur in their restaurant.”
There was a long pause.
“You can cook?” Ms Fedorova asked carefully.
“Yeah. I worked in my parents’ restaurant before… this.” He gestured at himself. “They were killed when we were attacked, and I was… changed.”
We all looked at each other. “After you’ve returned Superdyne’s remains to whoever you consider appropriate,” I said, grabbing a notepad and scribbling down my number, “I’d like you to give me a call. Evil-Mart is always hiring in the bakery and deli, and I mean always. Most bad guys aren’t great cooks. We don’t know why, it just seems to be one of those things.”
“You want me to join the bad guys?”
“I want you to work in a bakery. Villains and henchmen need to eat, and so do their families. Nobody’s going to ask you to rip superheroes in half, just maybe make a sandwich that won’t give anyone food poisoning.”
“That’s a regular concern?”
“Six months ago the three of us ran Evil-Mart’s physical store completely unassisted for most of a day because the only people who weren’t down with food poisoning were the ones who’d had the vegetarian and kosher meals.” I shuddered at the recollection. “Trust me. Someone who can cater staff functions without a major disaster would never have to live in an apartment like this working for us.”
“And we get full benefits, including dental.” Knuckles was shaking his head. “I bet you don’t even get hospital.”
“What hospital would take me? I always figured I’d go to the zoo and talk to the vet if – “
Ms Fedorova actually put her arms around him. “You,” she told him firmly, “are going to resign your terrible exploitative job, and then I will personally sponsor you to the union immediately. I have a spare room. You will like it. Humidity and temperature can be set just how you like, and Mamma Yelena will take you to real doctor expert in health of hybrids.”
“Those exist?” he asked, sounding a bit overwhelmed.
“Yeah, the Genetic Reign has like three of them,” I said sympathetically. “Listen, you can take some time to think it over, but you don’t have to put up with this kind of exploitation just because you don’t look human. Nearly a third of Evil-Mart’s staff can’t pass, and they’re treated just like everyone else.”
Superdyne’s dramatic demise got a lot of news coverage. Apparently it came as a real shock to the ‘good guys’ that there were some monsters even the superest villains wouldn’t embrace.
Dinoid no longer exists. Ismail Jameel works at Evil-Mart, and has expanded our fresh food lines a lot already. He’s a nice guy, and after Ms Fedorova told everyone how disgustingly he’d been exploited by those so-called ‘heroes’, he was welcomed with open arms. Literally, in at least one case – he’s dating someone from the warehouse, I’ve heard, though I don’t know who. He says we should rename the store, because we suck at being evil.
But evil is a really relative term. It can mean the blackest depravity, or a moment of viciousness, or even just ‘people on the other side’. Evil-Mart is called that because everyone, at least everyone on our side, is welcome. Plus, we all think it’s funny that the least-evil megacorporation is called ‘Evil-Mart’. What can we say? Bad guys have a sense of humour too.
The Miꞌkmaq people are facing hostility and threats in Eastern Canada over the right to fish to sustain themselves.
This has included:
“In response to Mi’kmaq fishers setting up 150 out of their 350 allowed traps, non-Indigenous fishers gathered at the wharf in Digby to protest.”
“One of the ways Nova Scotian fishers have found it appropriate to protest Mi’kmaq harvesting practices has been to chase down boats and fire flares directly at them. There have also been attempts to ram small boats with much larger vessels.”
Two people being arrested and charged with assault.
“Lobster traps in St. Mary’s Bay were vandalized, their lines were cut, and the traps were left on the shore.”
“Some fishers have posted calls on social media to reimplement the Canadian residential school system, and for other harsh treatment of Indigenous peoples and their children.”
A lobster boat belonging to a Mi’kmaq fisher has been destroyed by a suspicious fire at a wharf in southwestern Nova Scotia.
These people have the right to sustainably fish on their own land and support their livelihoods. Megan Bailey, professor at Dalhousie University’s Marine Affairs program, an expert, has said that there is no conservation concern as has otherwise been claimed. “The scale of the livelihood fishery as it exists right now with 350 traps is not a conservation concern.”
Ways you can support the Mi’kmaq people (both on this front + other issues):
Treaty Truckhouse Legal Fund - Grassroots Grandmothers, Mi'kmaw Rights Holders and others continue to stand united as water protectors of the Shubenacadie River in the Sipekne'katik District of Mi'kma'ki, where Alton Gas intends to dump salt brine equivalent to 3000 tonnes of hard salt every day.
Another donation link is here, or e-transfers can be sent to email@example.com
Support for our Eskasoni Mi’kmaq Fishers - Supplying resources for the fishers to continue the battle to have access to moderate livelihood fishery.
Mi’kmaq Fishers: To show support you can donate funds via e-transfer to the following emails with the message “donation”:
If you have any useful additions, please let me know, and I will add anything that I find. Also please spread this around, awareness is also important so that these issues do not fly under the radar and get a pass.
mob!steve literally destroying anyone who hurt his little bubble [anon]
they both get into a fight and reader storms off after that she gets kidnapped and our stevie gets feral to find her (bonus: desperate reunion fking) [anon]
Content Warning: Mob!Steve x Reader, daddy!steve, angst, arguing, yelling, jealous!reader, asshole!steve, kidnapping, threat of violence, distressing themes, brief mention of torture, physical violence, minor character death, mention of blood, smut (make-up penetrative sex, possessive!steve, daddy kink, creampie), fluff.
His lips are on yours in a deep kiss, his hands roaming your half-naked body like it's the very first time. It's been so long since you felt him that it may as well be the first time. He gropes and rubs and strokes you, taking his time in exploring your skin.
"Daddy," You mumble into his mouth, grinding against his boner.
"What is it, my little bubble?" Steve asks you softly, squeezing your ass.
"Want you," You reply desperately, running your fingers through his beard.
"You've got me, bubby," He promises you, kissing your lips shortly. "Always."
Just as his hand slips down your ass and to your panties, his phone rings out. You think nothing of it, assuming he'll hang it up and throw it to the side like he usually does - but then he fucking answers it.
You sit up, straddling his waist and frowning down at him as he holds the phone to his ear. "Hello?" His voice is firmer, a slight frown in his brows as he exits daddy mode and enters boss mode. Seeing him so serious is turning you on even more, and you run your hands down his abs. Before you can get to his boxers, though, he grabs your wrists in his and gives you a warning look.
You're a little disheartened, but you hold back anyway. And then you hear the voice on the other side of the call. It's unmistakably that of a woman's.
"I told him to have them dropped off by last week," Steve replies to her muffled question. "Are they not there?"
You glare down at him when you realize it's his personal phone. Why is he talking to another woman on his personal phone?
With a huff, you get off him and get up to your feet. You clothe yourself with the dress he threw on the ground ten minutes ago, listening with a clenched jaw as he chuckles over the phone.
"Alright. I'll call you later to check in," He says before hanging up and looking over at you. "What are you doing, huh? Get back over here, bubble."
"I'm going home," You reply stubbornly, putting your shoes on.
Your words make him stand up with a deep frown on his face. "Home? You are home."
"I mean my apartment," You mutter.
"What?" The shock is clear in his voice. "I thought you were gonna rent that out?"
"Well, I couldn't find anyone who wanted it," You tell him casually.
"And so you just kept it?" Steve asks you incredulously. "As some sort of fucking backup home? You know how insulting that is?"
"No, Steven, you do not get to be angry right now," You say with a glare. "You're not the one who's just been treated like shit."
"What the fuck are you talking about?" He asks you wildly, throwing up his hands.
"We were about to have sex for the first time in two weeks and you picked up the phone!" You exclaim, hating that you have to spell it out to him.
"It was an urgent work call-"
"Oh, fuck you and your work calls," You cut him off bitterly.
His face falls and he raises a brow. "You wanna try that again, Y/N?"
"That isn't gonna work this time, Steven," You say, emphasizing his full name because you know how much he hates it when you call him that. "We haven't been intimate in a long fucking time, and just as we finally get somewhere, you pick up the phone to some other woman."
He lets out a scoff. "So, that's what this is about. You know, you've never been one for jealousy, bubble."
"Because you've never given me a reason to be jealous!" You retort, feeling your rage grow. "And I didn't miss the fact that it was your personal phone, Steven. What the fuck is that bitch doing with your personal phone number, huh?"
"Pepper would never call me unless it was urgent, so I gave her my personal number," He explains with narrow eyes. "You think I'd pick it up if it was my work phone?"
"So whatever Pepper has to say is more important than me?" You ask childishly, hating that be used her name as though they're best fucking buddies.
"That is not what I said-"
"All I'm hearing is that I'm not your priority," You tell him, folding your arms across your chest. "You promised that nothing would ever come before me - or was that a lie, Steven?"
"Don't be like this," He mutters, rubbing his forehead. "You know how much you mean to me."
A part of you feels bad, and you want to cuddle him and apologize- before you realize that you have absolutely fucking nothing to apologize for.
"We haven't been the same lately," You say regretfully. "You're always out late. You never call me when you're at work anymore. You take me for granted."
"That's not true," He insists. "Work has been crazy lately, you know that. I appreciate you more than anything."
"They're just words, Steven!" You exclaim, taking a step back. "They're just words you've gotten so good at saying that even you believe them. How many others did you practice them on before me?"
"The fuck is that supposed to mean?" Steve asks you harshly. "When I told you that you were the first woman I've ever loved, I fucking meant it."
"It doesn't feel like it!" You admit, going to pull off the ring on your left hand that he gave you in an attempt to throw it back in his face. The second Steve realizes what you're doing, he grabs your hands, glaring down at you.
"Don't you ever, ever fucking dare take that off," He warns you gravely, pure rage in his eyes.
"Why not?" You shoot, attempting to pull out of his grip but failing. "You've broken every promise it was meant to symbolize, anyway!"
"Stop being so fucking dramatic," Steve seethes. "You're still mine. You always will be."
Narrowing your eyes in an attempt to keep your tears at bay as you prepare to say the words you never thought you'd say. "I think we need a break."
The silence that grows is cold and merciless.
"How the fuck could you say that, Y/N?" He asks you bitterly. "How the fuck could you walk away from this?"
"It's not forever," You promise. "Just until we find ourselves again. This doesn't feel right anymore, Steve. You don't treat me the way you used to, and maybe we need to miss each other so we can appreciate each other again."
He stares at you blankly, and you know he's angrier than ever. Dropping your hands, his face falls. "Fine. Fuck off."
Your heart breaks at his harsh words. "Steve, I'm not breaking up with you. We just need some space-"
"I said fuck off," He repeats, unable to look you in the eyes. "Go on. Get out."
A whimper leaves your mouth before you race out of his room and out of the large home, fear filling you at the thought of losing him forever. What have you done?
In his bedroom, Steve lets out a hissed curse before picking up his phone and calling someone. "Hey, Barton. Y/N's about to leave; follow her home. And make sure there's two men stationed outside her apartment at all times."
Clint Barton is stressed out.
The immense weight of Steve's new deal with the Potts family combined with the new responsibility of keeping two men on you at all times is killing him. He's never been the best project manager, let alone multi-tasker, and it's this that allows him to facilitate two mistakes in one night.
"I don't mind delivering the samples," Bruce says.
"I've got the new guy on deliveries already," Clint tells him with a frown.
"But I wanna deliver them," Bruce insists with a frown. They both know the truth - the delivery is due on Western Street, which is located near to where a certain Natasha Romanoff lives.
Clint runs a hand through his hair, groaning. "Who's the other guy on Y/N watch?"
"Uh, Barnes, I believe," Bruce tells him.
"That's fine; let him know you're swapping with the new guy," Clint says with a shrug. "Just get your shit done ASAP, you hear me? You have one hour."
Bruce grins. "More than enough, boss."
"Yeah, yeah," Clint rolls his eyes. "Now fuck off, you horny idiot."
That's the first mistake that's made.
The second is made by Bucky Barnes himself.
"Listen, I gotta get my car from the garage," Bucky tells the new guy. "You alright with watching Y/N alone?"
Christian nods adamantly as Bucky pats his shoulder appreciatively before rushing away.
Well, Christian thinks to himself. That was easier than I thought.
You feel cooped up in your building, knowing that no matter where you go, Steve's men will follow you. You're in half a mind to call him and demand he make them leave you alone, but you can't give him the satisfaction and be the first one to give in.
Instead, you decide to do some late grocery shopping. Walking up and down the aisles will be a nice change from staring at your walls all day, anyway. You put on some cycling shorts and one of Steve's sweatshirts, because he is still yours and you'd be damned if he dared to think otherwise. Yes, he's a prick, but he's your prick.
Once you get outside, the man watching your building approaches you, making you frown. Does he not understand the concept of following from a distance?
"Hi, there," He greets you politely, offering you a smile. "Do you need a ride anywhere?"
You fold your arms across your chest and glare up at him. "If Steve knew you were talking to me, he'd cut your fucking tongue out, so do your job and stay 10 paces behind," You state curtly, before turning around and making your way down the street.
When you hear him following way too closely behind, you roll your eyes and turn back to him, ready to yell. But the second you see him, he raises his fist and thumps you on the head, knocking you out.
Bucky Barnes is contemplating taking all of his money out of the bank and running away to Australia where he can start a new, peaceful life, because when Steve Rogers finds out that Y/N and the guy who was supposed to be watching her building are both missing, it'll be Bucky's head on the chopping block.
"Buck?" Steve frowns when he sees the brunette waiting outside his office. "What are you doing here?"
"I, uh, I was on Y/N duty," He says blankly, wondering if this is the last conversation he'll ever have before dying.
"Okay," Steve says slowly. "You expecting a raise, or something?"
"No, of course not, boss. Looking after Y/N is my honor," Bucky replies obediently, before looking down. "Last night, me and the new guy, Christian, were watching her."
"The new guy?" Steve's hand clenches into a fist. "I told Clint I only want guys I trust watching her. The new guy was supposed to be on fucking deliveries."
"Yeah, I know," Bucky mumbles.
"Speak the fuck up and speak clearly," Steve booms. "What the fuck is going on?"
"Boss!" Sam Wilson shoots into the hall, his eyes wide. "Shit. We have an issue."
Steve rolls his eyes, not in the mood to fix yet another problem today. "What is it?" He asks flatly.
Sam's eyes are filled with fear, and he stays a few steps away from Steve so as to not incur his wrath. "Y/N's missing."
A bitter laugh leaves Steve's mouth. "Well, that's impossible," He says matter-of-factly. "There have been two men watching her at all times."
Swallowing, Sam glances at Bucky. "Last night, Christian Mado was left alone with her. We believe it was him that took her, boss."
Steve's blood runs cold. He can't help the images that immediately run through his mind- images of you lying in your own blood, beaten and bruised. Gory, heartbreaking flashes of you crying out in pain, calling out for Steve, begging for mercy.
"Boss," Sam says lowly, preparing for Steve's reaction. "What do you need us to do?"
With a deep inhale, Steve turns to Bucky with a cold look. "If you don't find her location within thirty minutes, I will rip your fucking heart out. Do you understand me?"
He really should have bought that ticket to Australia. "Yes, boss," Bucky replies weakly, his heart thumping in his chest.
"This was a stupid idea," The male voice mutters bitterly.
"You're a stupid idea," The female voice retorts childishly.
You've been subjected to this immature back-and-forth between what you really hope isn't a couple since last night when you were taken. The black fabric wrapped tightly around your eyes prevents you from seeing anything, but you can feel your arms and legs are tied to the wooden chair you're sitting on.
"Fuck this. I'm taking the blindfold off," The woman says before the noise of her heels clacking towards you sounds out.
"Are you insane?" The man asks her incredulously.
"We're gonna get rid of her once we're done, anyway," She replies casually, just as you feel her hands removing the fabric from your head.
When your eyes open, you're faced with a pretty redhead with a curious look on her face. The man behind her has dark hair and looks incredibly nervous. Looking around, you notice you're in a lavish living room, which takes you by surprise. If they're planning on killing you, why do it on their expensive white carpet? Amateurs.
"You're not scared," She mumbles, tilting her head. "Why aren't you scared?"
You roll your eyes at her. "The fact that you think you'll get away with this for much longer is laughable."
"Oh, really? It's laughable?" She asks passive aggressively, and you can tell she's pissed off. Raising her hand, she strikes your face and her rings cut your cheek. "How's that for laughable?"
"Pepper, don't!" The man yells, making you eyes widen.
"You're Pepper?" You ask her with a raised brow. You knew there was no sense in trusting a girl named after a seasoning.
She looks utterly frustrated as she turns back to him. "Don't use my fucking name, Tony!"
He gasps. "Now you've used mine!"
Pepper lets out a angry squeal and pulls on her hair before glaring down at you. "Little word of advice: never get married."
Now that you know that this is the infamous Pepper that Steve seems to have cosied up to, you can't help but laugh. "Oh, you've absolutely fucked up, Pep. You do realize Steve will be here any minute to take you down?"
"And do you realize that he doesn't care about you anymore?" She asks with a snort. "It's a well known fact that you guys have broken up."
"And you think that means he stopped caring about me?" You question her. "You have a warped outlook on love and relationships."
She says nothing, wordlessly walking over to the coffee table upon which lay a variety of torture tools. It makes you a little uneasy, but you have full faith in the fact that Steve will be here before she gets the chance to use any of them. He has to be.
"Why are you doing this, anyway?" You ask her with narrow eyes.
"Because I'm about to go into business with your dear Steve," Pepper answers, running her finger down the blade of a dagger. "And it would be mighty helpful for me to get a little inside information beforehand."
You laugh at that, shaking your head. "You really think I'm gonna give you anything? You might as well just kill me now."
Her face morphs with anger as she steps forward. "Listen here, you whiny little cun-"
She's cut off prematurely by her phone's obnoxiously loud ringtone. With a huff, she takes it out of her pocket, and her face lights up with delight when she sees the caller ID. "What a coincidence!" She sings, sending you a wry grin while waving her screen in your face like a child. "It's your man- oh wait, ex-man."
Excitement hits you. He knows. He knows she took you. He's probably on his way right now.
"Maybe he wants to fuck me, again," She wonders out loud.
You narrow your eyes. She's bluffing. There's no way Steve fucked her. There's no way.
"Cover her mouth," Pepper orders Tony, waiting until his hands are firmly on your face before answering the phone. "To what do I owe the pleasure, Rogers?"
You can just about make out his muffled voice from the other side, and he doesn't sound nearly as angry as you would have hoped. Instead, they seem to be having pleasant fucking small talk. Has Steve not realized that you're missing yet? Prick. You scream as loud as you can, but Tony's hands mute your voice. Your attempts to bite at his flesh fail as he stays strong, not affected at all by your teeth sinking into his fingers.
"Of course," Pepper says with a sultry voice, making you roll your eyes as she smirks. "In fact, you should come over right now and we can search for her together."
That throws you. He asked her for help? She's inviting him over?
"See you soon, honey," She says sweetly. "And Stevie, you know I'm always here for you. Just like the night at the docks last Tuesday."
You can hear your blood rushing around your head. Last Tuesday, Steve didnt get home until 4am. He told you he was taking care of something at work, and you didn't think anything of it. And why would you have? It's Steve. You trust Steve.
The second she hangs up, Tony pulls his hands away from your mouth with a grimace, and you glare up at Pepper. "Night at the docks?" You can't help but ask.
She laughs maliciously, throwing her phone on the couch behind her. "Ah, what a magical night that was. Steve just has the most magnificent tongue, don't you think?"
Don't react. She's lying. There's no way.
With a deep breath, you somehow remain calm. "You cheated on Tony?" You ask, looking over to him with a raised brow. "What are your feelings on this, T?"
"We have an open marriage," Pepper answers on his behalf. "It's not cheating."
Tony half-heartedly nods, but you can tell there's anguish behind his eyes. Poor little bastard.
"Steve's gonna be here in less than 10 minutes," Pepper announces, clapping her hands together. "So before we hide you away, I wanna have some fun."
She's good with those tools, you have to admit. At first, you assumed she laid them out to intimidate you, but it seems that Pepper Potts is a connoisseur of pain.
Sure, you've caught brief glimpses of Steve carrying out dirty work before, but that always seemed so far away. Sure, you've watched Sam shoot multiple people dead before, but those people weren't real to you. And yeah, Bucky literally cut the eyes of an overly-flirtatious waiter out right in front of you with a blunt bread knife, but all of those instances were just shows to you. You were but a spectator.
And now, you're the main fucking attraction.
Pepper burns, cuts and bruises you, leaving you weak and achy by the time the unmistakable sound of Steve's Porsche is heard from the driveway.
"Take her upstairs," Pepper orders Tony sternly. "If she makes a single sound, you shoot her dead. Understand?"
With a burst of motivation as you hear Steve's car door shut, you scream out his name in the hopes that he'll hear you. Tony rapidly unties you before holding a gun to your temple, silencing you.
"Keep your mouth shut," He says gruffly, holding your wrists tightly and dragging you out of the room and up the long, winding stairs.
Pepper opens the door for Steve with a sympathetic smile. "I'm so sorry this is happening, Stevie," She says, allowing him to come in.
"I just need to find her, and soon," Steve replies gravely, walking further into the house.
She leads him into the living room where any signs of her torture tools and the ropes they used to tie you up have disappeared. "Do you have any idea where Y/N might have gone?"
"She was abducted," Steve tells her, his hands clenching into fists at the thought of you being taken from him. "Someone is holding her against her will. One of my men betrayed me."
"Are you sure?" She asks him with a frown, stroking his bicep. "I know this may be difficult to hear, but she might have... ran away with him?"
His eyes narrow at her suggestion. "She was taken, Pepper. I know it." Why is she so against that idea? And why is she touching him so much? Is she just trying to comfort him? All he needs is you; not a fucking hug.
He came over because he knows Pepper has a lot of connections in this city, and if anyone can help him find you, it's her. God, he feels so guilty. If anything happens to you, he thinks he may die himself. He should've protected you. You should have been safe under his wing. Why did he ever let you leave that day?
"I'm just saying, Steve," Pepper begins, slowly wrapping her arms around his waist from behind him and resting her chin on his shoulder. "It's very possible that she chose to leave. You did just break up, didn't you?"
This is beyond a comforting hug. Steve may have been stupid in letting you go, but he isn't dense. He knows when a woman wants him. It disgusts him that, in the wake of your disappearance, Pepper thinks that her body could be what he needs to feel better.
Just as he's about to throw her arms off of him, he spots it.
There, on the ground. On the soft white carpet. It's unmistakable.
That ring is a one-of-a-kind. He had it specially made for you. There's no way anyone else could own one that even slightly resembled it, let alone look like an exact clone.
That's your fucking ring.
And next to it, making his stomach clench, are a few droplets of blood staining the carpet.
With a deep breath, Steve gently removes Pepper's arms from his chest and turns around to face. "Come here, Pepper," He mumbles, nodding once.
Smiling wryly, Pepper moves closer to him, resting her hands on his chest. Finally, she's got him. "Yes, Steve?" She asks softly, widening her eyes.
His hand moves up to wrap around her throat, making her legs squeeze together instinctively. He lowers his lips to her ear, making her shiver. "Tell me, Pepper," He whispers, wrapping his other hand around her wrist. "Tell me where she is."
What? Pepper's face drops. "I don't- I don't know what you're talking about," She claims with a mumble.
He tightens his grip on her neck, making her eyes bulge. "Tell me where Y/N is right now, or so help me God, I will cut you into pieces and feed you to my dogs."
Pepper lets out a squeak, fear rushing through her. "Steve, please."
"She was here at some point," He says lowly. "The ring and the blood tell me that much. Where is she now, Pepper?"
"Upstairs," She manages to whisper, her voice raspy. "With Tony. She's alive, I swear."
Steve's eye twitches as a tinge of relief hits him. But he's much too angry to let that calm him down.
Meanwhile, you're on your knees on the bed in the guest room, praying to God that Steve will notice the ring. Tony's gun has been glued to the side of your head since the second you entered the room, a blank look on his face.
With a sniffle, you glance over to him. "You know, you don't seem like you're cut out for this life."
He meets your eyes. "You don't know me."
"I know that you're a cuck," You spit.
"There's nothing wrong with having an open marriage," He defends. "Unless you're too small-minded to accept it."
"I couldn't give a fuck about your marriage," You tell him with a glare. "But I'd bet good money that you haven't fucked nearly as many other people as her. Have you?"
He says nothing, his eyes flickering to the ground.
"Have you slept with anyone else?" You ask curiously.
When he still doesn't respond, you raise a brow.
"I know she was bluffing about her night with Steve, but does Pepper fuck other guys?" You question, and his further silence confirms your theory. "Babe, that ain't an open marriage if only one of you is getting some."
"You don't know us," Tony huffs, pushing the gun against your head. "Now, shut your mouth, unless you want a brain full of lead."
You do as he says, bored of his sob story. Just then, a text notification sounds out from his phone. He looks down at it to see it's from Pepper.
The Wife 💀
Bring her downstairs.
Tony raises a brow. Huh. He doesn't remember hearing Steve's car leave. Oh, well.
You're surprised when he pulls you up to your feet and leads you back out of the room. You don't remember hearing Steve's car leave.
The two of you make your way downstairs, and you wonder just how much more torture Pepper will subject you to before she finally realizes you'd sooner die then give up sensitive information about Steve and his work.
Tony opens the door to the living room and pushes you in - and both of you freeze at the sight you're presented with.
Steve's casually sitting back on the couch and taking a bite out of a green apple.
Pepper is sitting in the chair you were previously tied to, with a thin wire wrapped around her neck and some blood seeping from the wound. She's very clearly dead, making your heart skip a beat.
"Pep!" Tony yells, with his gun still aimed at you. Steve immediately takes out his own gun, furious at the bruises on your face, and shoots Tony dead. He falls to the floor beside you, but you barely even register what happened.
Your eyes are glued to Steve, who stands up and drops the apple to the ground. "Hi, bubble," He greets you gently, blood staining his white shirt.
Rushing over to him, you let him engulf you in a tight hug, wrapping his arms around you and kissing you deeply. All your emotions are poured into the kiss, from love to pain to relief to anger.
"I knew you'd come for me," You tell him, smiling against his chest. "I knew it."
"I'm sorry, baby, I should never have trusted that bastard," He grumbles, stroking your hair. "Your safety is something I'll never again put in the hands of someone else. You're mine, bubble. Always."
"I'm sorry about the apartment," You cry, clutching onto his shirt. "I don't know why I kept it, I-"
"You have nothing to apologize for you. I'm the one who gave you a reason to use it," He says lowly. "You were right, bub. I was taking you for granted. I got comfortable, and assumed that you'd always be there, no matter what. That was wrong of me."
Lifting up your head, you meet his eyes. "It's okay, Steve. I know you were busy, and-"
"That's no excuse," He cuts you off with a frown, stroking your cheek. "I love you, and I wasn't showing it the way I should have been. I will never treat you that way again, baby bubble. I appreciate you, so much."
"I love you, Steve," You whisper, clinging onto him.
Without wasting another second, he kisses you again, this time picking you up and wrapping your legs around his waist.
"Oh, bubble," He groans, placing you on the couch and getting on top of you. "Daddy missed you so fucking bad."
Your hips buck up at his words as you whine, "Please, daddy, need you."
"You have me, baby bubble," He promises, grinding his boner against you. "Always, always, always."
He holds your wrists above your head, teasing you with his hard cock as it rubs against your clothed pussy.
"Please," You cry, throwing your head back. "Need daddy so bad."
"Fuck," He groans, releasing one of your wrists and peeling down your shorts. His hand cups your cunt, making it throb as your entire body tingles. "So wet for me, baby. Daddy missed his pussy so fucking bad."
He doesn't even need to play with your clit for long before you're soaking and aching for him to be inside you. Steve unbuckles his belt and hurriedly takes out his swollen cock, bringing it to your quivering entrance. You lift your hips up, feening for him, desperate for your bodies to perfectly connect.
With a soft thrust, Steve plunges his cock into you. Both of you take in a simultaneous gasp as he fills you up, his hands tightly gripping your hips. Brutishly, he begins fucking you, giving you the pleasure you've sorely missed for so long.
"Oh, baby," He groans, gliding in and out of you. "Feel so good around daddy's cock."
"Missed you so much," You cry out in response, digging your nails into his shoulders.
"Promise me, little bubble," Steve grunts, resting his face in your neck as he fucks you harder. "Promise me you'll never leave me again."
"I promise, Steve," You vow, tugging on his hair. "I'll never leave you. You have me forever."
"You'll always be mine, no matter what," He growls possessively, wrapping one of his hands around your throat. "Nobody is ever taking you from me again. I'm never letting you go."
"Daddy," You squeal when he hits your g-spot, making your toes curl. "There, there, there."
"Yeah? You like when I fuck you deep, don't you?" He teases you, an animalistic hunger in his eyes. "My little bubble loves being fucked deep, doesn't she?"
"I love it, daddy," You sing out, tears gathering in your eyes when his cock brushes against your cervix. "I love you, Steve."
"Oh, baby, Y/N, my good girl," He chants weakly, placing one of his feet on the ground to give himself more balance as he slams into you over and over again. "I love you more than anything, bubble."
Your eyes roll back as you feel the ecstasy build up within your core. When he feels your legs shaking around his waist, he knows you're close.
"That's it, baby," Steve growls, chuckling deeply. "Cum for me, like the good little girl you are. Cum for daddy."
He tightens his grip on your throat and it's enough to pull your orgasm forth, causing utter delight to ripple through your body. Your cunt convulses around his shaft, making it hard for him to hold back any longer before he's shooting his seed deep inside you.
"Oh, fuck," Steve groans, thrusting a few more times as you each fly through your highs, in a chorus of moans and gasps.
Once you've recovered, you blink a few times to see Steve crouching down beside the couch, stroking your hair with a soft smile on his lips.
"You always look so beautiful after your brains have been fucked out," He mumbles, scanning your flushed face.
Slowly, you sit up. Steve takes your hand and gently guides you up to your feet, keeping an arm around your waist to stop your weakened legs from giving out.
"Here," He begins, fiddling with your finger.
When you look down, you see him replacing the ring back where it belongs. The sight of it makes you grin and you pull him in for a tight hug.
"You'll always be my girl," Steve promises, swaying you in his hold. "Anyone who ever tries to hurt you, or take you from me, will be given the same fate as those two."
You glance behind him where you see Tony's body on the ground, and then to the right where Pepper sits lifelessly. Once again, you're the spectator. Steve, as he vowed on the day he realized he loved you all those years ago, will never stop protecting you. Never.
"I love you 'til the end of the earth, and then some," He mumbles, pulling back your head to kiss your forehead. "Always, my little bubble."
hi! i no longer have a taglist, but if you follow @kinanabinksupdates and turn on notifications, you'll know when i post 🥰
also, if you are willing and able, i would appreciate if you buy me a kofi - even the smallest of donations helps me out so much! ❤
Summary: Upon learning of his father’s affair, Sesshomaru lays waste to a human bordello as revenge…that is, until he discovers a better outlet for his frustrations.
Request: hi!!!!! i just finished your koga fic and i adored it omfggg 🤤🤤🤤 i was just wondering if i could request any 18+ content for sesshomaru with a fem!human reader? if not though no worries at all 💕💕
A/N: This request is almost 2 years old but I hope you’re still around <3 Takes place right after Sesshomaru finds out that the Inu no Taisho left his mother for a human woman, which Sesshomaru is not happy about lmao
imo this is the only good filth I’ve written in a while, hope you guys like it!! If you don’t I will cry lol
Tags/Warnings: dubcon/noncon, predator/prey dynamic, borderline yandere, geisha (sex worker) reader, degradation (anti-human), threats!!, fearplay!!, marking (bites, scratches, bruises) ft. a little bit of blood, dog demon/animalistic/feral stuff, possessiveness, breeding kink (mentioned but no follow-through), implied violence (not toward reader), historical inaccuracies, “girl”, in my brain all of the demons are at least 6’3 so jot that down
There’s a smell like burning, but only half of it is smoke. You can imagine it when you close your eyes. Candles, incense, hearth fire consuming everything it touches. But the other half—the other half is sharp and bitter and acidic. It stings down your throat when you inhale.
You can’t move. The dressing assistant added pins to your complex updo: long golden ornaments hung with strings of shining bells. It was beautiful. You’ve always admired the older girls who wear these, the way the angelic ringing announces their footsteps when they walk. It’s an honor to be wearing the same bells. But now you can’t move.
You hold your breath until you can’t anymore, and then let it out slowly. Shallowly. So carefully that it barely stirs the air. You can’t even hear yourself breathing, but maybe…maybe he can hear it anyway.
Or maybe it doesn’t matter.
Maybe he can smell you.
There are footsteps outside the thin paper wall that separates the room you’re hiding in from the hallway. They’re slow, light, measured. He’s not running—it’s the rest of you who are desperate, scattering like roaches in daylight to avoid him. And you’re the same, cowering in the corner of this empty room, drowning in the heavy silk of your kimono. Trying to convince yourself that the sour acid smell is so strong that you can’t make out the blood.
The footsteps halt just a few feet from where you’re hiding and your heart seizes when you hear them stop, wait. Listening. Listening for you. You wonder if he can hear your heart beating as loud as you can. Why did he stop?
He can hear you, you know he can hear you.
It’s too late. Your hands are shaking as you do it but you force yourself to sink into a bow, kneeling, facing the floor, even as you hear the scrape of wood sliding against wood. The door of the room opening. You’re not really sure why bowing feels right, but it does—half because some animal sense is telling you that this is no ordinary demon, and half because you’re too afraid to face your death directly, if that’s what he is. Your forehead almost meets the tatami mats and the bells in your hair chime lightly and his footsteps pad across the floor to stop in front of you. The burning smell thickens.
“Look at me, human.”
You don’t want to—you don’t want to look, but his voice is a command and there is no will in your body strong enough to deny it. You lift your head from the floor, still kneeling, and force yourself to meet his eyes.
You’re not sure. In the stories, demons are ugly. You’ve only ever seen them in scroll paintings: horrible slavering monsters, grotesque distortions of mundane beasts. Repulsive things. Less than human. But the demon in front of you (if he is a demon) is something else. He’s not human—you’d know that by the color of his eyes, if nothing else—but he’s beautiful. Colder and more beautiful than pure winter snow. As soon as your eyes meet his, you’re held captive; you couldn’t look away if you tried…
But that doesn’t mean you can’t smell the dark splatters of blood slashed in arcs over his clothing. Or the hissing miasma of poison issuing off his clawed nails.
“Girl…will you not attempt to run? Or do you believe I will grant you mercy if you beg for it?” His inhuman gaze travels down your body and you press your palms into the floor to make your shaking less obvious. “Are you not afraid? Answer me.”
“Yes,” you whisper. You’re terrified, paralyzed by fear and the overwhelming knowledge that you have never in your short life been closer to death than you are now. Even if you thought you could escape by running, you don’t think you could compel your muscles to move.
His eyes narrow. “You knelt before I entered the room.”
“I…yes…it was…” Your breath is coming quickly now, as if your lungs can’t get enough oxygen. Why is he talking to you? Isn’t he going to kill you? Will he tear you apart with his claws, or will he simply snap your neck?
You try, but your throat is seizing up with terror and your mind is going blank. The poison will probably hurt more…you picture him reaching toward you and digging the claws into your skin, letting the acid eat through your flesh… “I knelt…out of—out of respect…”
“Hm?” A flicker of an expression passes his face, but you can’t name it. “So here is a human who knows her place, at the feet of her superior. Your kind is usually so arrogant.”
If you were in your right mind you’d take offense at this demon having the nerve to call you arrogant, but you’re not foolish enough to anger a creature whose bare hands could tear you to pieces without a single thought. “Sir—sir, please—“
“Not ‘sir’. Lord. You speak to the inu daiyokai Sesshomaru, son of the Inu no Taisho, Lord of the Western Lands.”
Lord of the Western Lands? You’ve never heard of any such title, but you know not to question him. “My lord—” you gasp, and you squeeze your eyes shut for a moment because the heat behind your eyelids cannot be allowed to break. “My lord, please, is there anything I can do to serve you?”
“How could you serve me? What use could you possibly have?” Sesshomaru’s face remains impassive, but out of the corner of your eye you can tell that his hands are no longer glowing green with poison.
You don’t know what ridiculous idea you’ve latched onto in your desperation, but he doesn’t seem to be killing you yet, so you have no choice but to keep at it. “Th-this place is a teahouse! It would be an—an honor to entertain such an esteemed guest.”
“A teahouse,” he repeats.
You swallow and attempt to suppress the sense that you’re digging your own grave every time you speak. “Yes, my lord… I-I could perform a tea ceremony? Or if you would prefer to drink, I could pour for you. Or I could—I could play—“
You’re cut off by the sudden movement of Sesshomaru in front of you as he crouches to your level—you’d pull back, but as soon as the thought crosses your mind you feel his hand wrapping around your chin, tilting your face up. “The tea ceremony and shamisen…surely these are not your only talents, girl.”
Don’t move. Keep still. The sides of Sesshomaru’s long nails press lightly on the tender skin under your chin. You stare straight forward and don’t speak.
“I do not think I am mistaken.” His other hand comes up and you close your eyes, only to feel the pad pressing into your lower lip and then tracing the red makeup on your eyelids. “This is a whorehouse.” Sesshomaru’s voice is low, pensive, as if he’s talking to himself. His hand ghosts over your head and before you can register that he’s touched you, the pins and combs from your updo are ringing down against the floor and your hair is springing loose.
“…It is, my lord,” you answer after a beat, as it occurs to you for the first time that there may be something this demon is more interested in taking than your life.
“Stand,” Sesshomaru says, and when you’re too stunned to obey immediately, he grips you by the collar of your kimono and pulls you upright. Your knees almost buckle and he folds his arm behind your back, propping you up against him. “Calm yourself.”
The spikes on his breastplate push into your chest. You try to feel out for something reassuring—a crease in his brow, a flush in his cheeks, body heat, something human—but there is no trace of a flaw in his perfect composure. His hands are cool where they touch your skin. You have to…he wants…
But does he even want you? You tip your head up from his shoulder to face him and his lip curls like he’s about to snarl. There’s no heat in his gaze. His eyes are so cold that you feel gooseflesh stand up on your arms, as if a spirit is dragging its icy fingers down your spine. There’s no way he’s attracted to you—how could he be, when the expression on his face is nothing less than consummate disgust?
Sesshomaru does not want you. You’ve misinterpreted something. Because every sense in your body is telling you that when you look at him, you are looking into the face of someone who hates you. You are going to die, like the customers in the rooms next door, like the other girls who had the misfortune of coming across him before you did and trying to run. You are going to be killed.
You try to flinch back, put some space between the two of you, but his arm is rigid behind you and you aren’t given an inch. He eyes narrow a fraction and his grip tightens, thumb pressing into your spine through the many layers of your kimono. “Such a cowardly species. Even a geisha is so skittish.”
And then he grips your jaw and presses his mouth into yours.
Your pulse stutters and trips. The kiss is light, but Sesshomaru’s hold on your body isn’t. He pulls away and you suck in a dazed breath. “L-Lord Sesshomaru…”
“Undress me,” he orders.
Warm, Sesshomaru thinks. You’re warm.
Your heat pushes into him through your hands ghosting over his body as you fumble with the straps of his armor and then unfold the robe from your own narrow shoulders. When he had you pinned against his chest, he’d felt the warmth of your body even through every layer of fabric and metal that separated you from him. And when he kissed you, he’d felt that same sultry wet spread inside your mouth.
Perhaps this is why his father has come to prefer mortal women.
He stops you before you take off the last layer of his kimono. When you finally slip the last piece of clothing from your shoulders, Sesshomaru wastes no time in pulling your naked body into his, holding you by your shoulders when you try to stumble back from him. Your skin is fever-warm to his touch—you’re so pliant, so malleable—but you’re no less terrified than you were when he walked into this room and found you kneeling in front of the bedroll with your forehead pressed to the ground. You’ve been obedient, which is good. Your obedience is the only reason you’re alive. But your fear is wrapping around your body so thick he can smell it, and it’s making his blood rise.
His cock twitches where it’s pressed against your stomach through his clothing, and you suppress a gasp, but when he scratches the blunt edges of his fingernails over your skin you can’t hold back the squeak of surprise. Like a frightened rabbit, he thinks with—pleasure? Which is odd, and yet…
Seeing this human girl submitting, delicate and vulnerable and so obviously aware that she is beneath him, is a pleasure.
“Tell me, girl. Why do you fear me?”
You’re acutely aware of your own nakedness, not to mention his, especially when his cock is pressing insistently into your abdomen. Why is he asking you—? Of course you’re afraid. How many corpses did he leave on his path here? “You—you killed—“
“Not just that. You know to fear me. Your body knows. If I came upon you in the dark, if you were blind and deaf, you would still know to fear me.”
When he speaks, you can see flashes of his canines, sharper than any human’s. He’s right. You would know. “You’re a demon,” you murmur.
“And you are a human. A very weak one.” A claw traces your cheek and you shudder. “Your kind is prey to mine. Prey to be killed…and eaten.”
Are you going to be eaten?
“This is unnatural,” he muses under his breath, lowering his mouth to your throat. “Obscene.” You feel the brush of his lips on the artery in your neck and wonder if he can sense the pump of your blood, responding to his touch. “Sick.”
And then Sesshomaru—he nips that spot on your neck. The bite isn’t near hard enough to hurt, but it shocks you because you’ve never felt teeth so sharp against your skin. You whimper, and even to your own ears, it doesn’t sound like a whimper of pain.
“Despite every danger I pose to you, you seek pleasure. Humans are such base creatures.”
It’s not fair—it’s not even true, is it? You’re going along with this to appease him. You shake your head lightly, but you don’t resist when he pushes you down into the bedroll. Do you even want to resist?
Submit, your body is telling you. Submit. Submit.
You couldn’t resist. It would be impossible even if you tried. You barely have time to register him tipping his head to the side and and acknowledging your silence before the pressure on your arms increases and air whips through your hair and then the back of your head hits the mattress. Sesshomaru kneels on top of you, knees framing your hips, his loose kimono draping open to reveal a sliver of his pale chest.
“Do you mean to disagree with me?” The lack of inflection in his voice betrays nothing, but you scramble to deny it.
“No! No, my—my lord, please of course I—I’ll do whatever you want—ah!” You cut yourself off with a yelp as he reaches down and wraps his fingers around one of your thighs, unceremoniously dragging your leg up to wrap around his hip.
“But this is what you want.” Sesshomaru reaches down to your cunt and slides two fingers up against your slit, slow and careful so that his nails don’t touch you.
This part is warm too. Warm and wet and sticky, coating his fingers in clear liquid. You must be able to feel how wet you are—and you do, judging by the way your body is squirming and wriggling every time his touch passes over your clit.
Ah…you should stop squirming. For your own good. The feeble little movements of your body underneath his just make him want to pin you harder, force you to be still, force you to surrender.
You buck your hips up against the movement of his hand, wary of his nails but unable to keep yourself from pushing your clit against his fingers. It doesn’t make sense. You’re still scared of him—every time your gaze crosses his, you’re reminded that the man between your legs isn’t even really a man. He’s a demon.
A demon, a demon…
A demon’s fingers are caressing the length of your slit. A demon is crouching over you, covering your chest with his while you rock yourself into him. A demon is lowering his face into your shoulder, breathing in and lapping at your skin like he can smell you. Like he can taste you. Which, you think belatedly (because most of your attention is focused on the things Sesshomaru is doing between your legs), he probably can.
“What…what are you doing,” you gasp halfheartedly as he licks again at the side of your neck. Maybe you shouldn’t ask, but you still haven’t ruled out the possibility that he’s going to eat you, and you’d at least like to know if that’s what he’s preparing for.
To your surprise, he looks…taken aback? It’s hard to tell when his expression changes so little, but he pulls back from you and takes his hand away from your cunt, leaving you feeling needy and anxious. “Humans lack marking customs? How vulgar.”
“Marking…?” you ask. Sesshomaru sits up away from you and you quickly prop yourself up on your hands and draw your legs back toward yourself so you’re sitting in front of him. He sounded displeased. You can’t—you have to give him what he wants. “We do, my lord! Humans—we can leave marks, if, if you would like—“
You wait a moment and he doesn’t move, so you hesitantly crawl toward him, dragging out each step and letting your knees sink into the cushions because you have no idea if you’re doing the right thing or signing your own death warrant. You reach out, but your hand stills before you can touch him. ‘Marking’ is juvenile, isn’t it? Kiss marks are usually forbidden for customers; they’re considered unprofessional in your line of work. But that’s human ettiquette. Perhaps for demons, it’s something entirely different. Sesshomaru did call himself inu daiyokai—a dog demon, then.
Gathering up the measly courage you still possess, you pick up the collar of Sesshomaru’s kimono and pull it to the side, exposing a patch of the pristine skin where his neck meets his shoulder. He doesn’t move to assist you, so you have to climb into his lap to get close enough. You brush away a few strands of his hair—so long!—and set your mouth against his skin.
How hard should you…? Well, he’s a demon lord, so you doubt you’re capable of harming him. Still, you bite and suck carefully, only increasing the pressure when you feel no sign of resistance from Sesshomaru. When you’re satisfied, you pull back and assess the small bloom of purple-red standing out in stark contrast to his pale skin. Half bite mark, half bruise—you haven’t done this in years, but this is what he wanted, isn’t it?
“This is a human mark?” Sesshomaru’s face is inscrutable as he pets the place where you left the hickey.
You nod slowly. “Is it—is it not good enough?”
“It is faint. But I cannot expect more from a mortal.” His hand moves to your chin, forcing your jaw open so he can push a few clawed fingers between your lips and run them over your canines. “Your teeth are blunt. Useless.”
He pushes his fingers deeper over your teeth and you feel saliva gathering on your tongue, an involuntary response to your efforts to keep your mouth open and still. You can taste yourself…the juices from your cunt on his fingers. “L-Lord—Lord Sesshomaru,” you stutter when he finally pulls them out.
You’re so warm, so soft. Like sinking into bathwater. Sesshomaru wants to be inside you.
“Lie down,” he commands, and when you tentatively lower yourself onto your back he releases a barely-audible sigh of annoyance. “On your stomach, girl.”
You must take a second too long to comply with the command, because in the next moment you feel Sesshomaru above you, flipping you over as easily as if you were made out of paper. You squeak in surprise—the smooth cold of his touch, the edges of his inhumanly long nails grazing over your skin—but that doesn’t stop him from effortlessly pulling your body into alignment with his: him above you and you lying on your belly with your back arched so that your hips can meet his. You squirm your hands under your torso and try to lift yourself off the bedroll, but he pushes you back down without mercy. “Do not test me.”
“No—n-never, never, my lord,” you gasp out as his hand curls around your hip, just as you feel the hard length of him press against your backside and then—slowly, slowly, slide into your cunt. Fuck—this is happening, it’s really—happening, this demon is fucking you. You’re terrified, but you can also feel the slickness of your pussy stretching around him, your body subconsciously giving in to the unwavering dominance of the demon—the man—on top of you.
“Are you still frightened…? And yet you respond so easily,” he says, stroking up the length of your side again and feeling you shiver.
“Yes, I...yes?” You squeeze your eyes closed, focusing on the sensation and trying to drive out everything else. He’s big—pushing you to your limits trying to fit his cock inside and you don’t even sense his hips against you yet. And the feeling—cool, uncomfortably cool in a way that sets every nerve on edge, overly sensitive to every deep place where your body meets his.
It’s like—you can’t even describe it, you know you have to be quiet and obedient for him but your instincts are pulling you in every direction at once—you want to run you want to hide you want to rock your hips back and feel him bottom out, make him fuck you like an animal—and this thought combined with the friction of his cock over that patch inside your drooling walls forces a whine out of your mouth. Apparently he likes it—two fingers pet over your clit and the muscles of your cunt twitch desperately, begging to be filled.
With his body curled over yours like this, you must be able to feel the rumble of his breath as he growls in pleasure. You were—you are better than perfect, your kind, your race—or maybe it’s just you. Your body, the warm wet softness of it. Taking him in, dripping around him as he starts to pump in and out of you, pushing his cock a little deeper with each thrust. Your breath is laced with the high-pitched whimpers and moans you’re not able to suppress, and it’s strange—earlier the sound of your voice (so pathetic, so human) disgusted him, but now?
“Such a weak little thing,” Sesshomaru says, voice low and intoned with something like approval. “I know it hurts…”
You bite your lip roughly and shudder as the head of his thick cock kisses against your womb. It does hurt—you’re no innocent maiden, and it isn’t as if you’re not used to clients being much rougher with you than this, but you’ve never felt so helpless… You can’t even adjust to him, can’t even pull away from him on the plush bedroll because he’s holding you in place, positioning you as his tame little toy with his nails scraping threateningly against the top layer of your skin every time you try to move…
“…but you take me very well. Like your body was made for this—to be bred like this.”
The pace of his thrusts is picking up, knocking your breath into sync every time the weight of his body slaps against yours. His own breath is getting heavier too—you start at the feeling of him folding his torso lower against you, locks of hair spilling over your side in a silver curtain. Once again you want to pull yourself up off the futon, but he isn’t going to let you—a pale hand layers over yours, tendons flexing as he laces his fingers into the spaces between yours. And your nerves are wound so tight with what you’re feeling—the pleasure, the fear, all of it pulling you tight like a harp string—that you aren’t paying quite enough attention to what you’re hearing, until you realize—
Like your body was made to be bred like this.
If you had the strength to actually pull yourself away from the punishing force of him fucking you, you would now; as it stands, you’re too weak to do more than pull uselessly at his grip and shake your head. “No—m-my lord, please—I can’t, my lord, p-please don’t—“
A cold laugh, one that sounds like anger, and Sesshomaru presses the flat of his hand to your stomach, feeling out the path of his cock pushing into your tight, plush body. “Insolent girl. You demand me that I mate for pleasure alone, like—a human…? Your species…your arrogance knows no bounds…”
“Please,” you moan softly. The weight of him—on top of you, inside you, everywhere you can feel—is driving you out of your mind. He’s going to—mate, like he said, he’s going to spend himself deep in your cunt and breed you. “Please—please, I can’t, I can’t—“
The distress in your voice is almost unsettling to Sesshomaru, and this reaction catches him off guard—it’s the intimacy of this action, of fucking you like a legitimate mate (you! a girl, a human, so powerless that resisting him has barely occurred to you!) that’s forcing him to be aware of your fragile emotional state. But demons—dog demons especially—are more attuned to their instincts than humans, the physical responses of their bodies and their partners’, and everything in your body is screaming out acquiescence, submission, fertility.
“Liar…” Sesshomaru murmurs, petting again over your womb and rolling his hips into yours. You’re so wet that he can hear the sounds of your coupling echoing over the walls, the slap of flesh against flesh from where your cunt has dripped slick down your trembling thighs. The sweet, dizzying scent of your arousal (and his) is so thick in the air that he can barely smell the rancid smoke and blood outside—every time he inhales, he feels almost intoxicated by it. You’re not quite in your heat but there’s an edge of it in your natural scent, something rich and heavy underneath all the layers of perfume and oils decorating your skin.
He didn’t come here, to the mortal world, with the intent to mate with a human. Certainly not with the intent to breed her, but…
Sesshomaru takes a deep sigh again and swirls a fingertip over the little bud of nerves at the top of your slit and everything in you convulses, squeezing down on his cock so tight that for a second he can barely move. At this point, there isn’t much that could stop him from finishing inside you, even if he wanted to.
…Well, there isn’t much, but the incessant reminder of his instinct to treat the soft, vulnerable body underneath him as a proper mate doesn’t seem to be letting up. The obvious pleasure you’re feeling from having your cunt filled up like this hasn’t stopped you from continuing to whimper and shake your head in denial of what your body is telling you. Your distress seems to be bordering on helplessness now—he can smell it on you—a bitterness folded into that irresistible sweet, and even though he wants to ignore it…
For your part—it doesn’t feel right, none of this—it’s like what he was saying earlier, how this is obscene and you know deep in your core that he’s right. A demon, a dog demon, fucking you like he owns you, ruining your pussy and digging shallow scratches into you to hold you in place—breeding you—you should be afraid, and you are. You should want to cry, and you do. But you shouldn’t like it like this at the same time—you shouldn’t feel your cunt fluttering around him, shouldn’t feel your juices slipping over your body and his, you shouldn’t be wishing he would let you move just a little so you could move your hips back, fuck yourself on his cock like you’re supposed to—how can you want this, both of these things, stop and don’t stop, pull out and cum inside so deep you’re marked with it—
Your head is spinning. You’re too dizzy to think but you hold onto this knowledge, the only certainty you have left: it’s wrong. You can’t you can’t. There’s nothing you can do to stop him but you can’t keep yourself from pleading senselessly with what little breath you’re able to articulate— “please—please—my lord—Sesshomaru—please don’t…”
—and just when you don’t think you can take it any longer, it turns out that he’s at his limit too. The demon growls and brushes your hair away from the side of your neck so he can nuzzle into your pulse point, lap at the thin layer of sweat collecting there. “Quiet,” he hisses, voice labored. “I will not—I have no intention of…fathering…a bastard.”
“Oh—ohhh…” you whine, letting some of the panic drain out of you. You’re not—he won’t—thank god, thank god… The broad muscle of his tongue runs stripes across the side of your throat in a manner that you almost understand is supposed to be comforting, and he keeps rubbing at your clit, coaxing something out of you that you don’t think you should be allowed to give. You want to ask why—why is he stopping himself? why is he touching you? why does he care?—but you know better.
Sesshomaru’s teeth are too close to your neck like this. He should pull back, shouldn’t tempt himself…he knows this, and yet. The smell of you, your relief, your pleasure, the climax that he can feel creeping up on you through the tension in your muscles. It would be unnatural not to do it. The faint little bruise you left on him when he asked about human marking customs is probably already healed, but there’s a phantom ache on his throat reminding him of it—proof that you have no idea what a true mark is supposed to look like.
If he marked you, it would probably take weeks to heal…months. He knows humans are such fragile creatures—it would leave a permanent scar, wouldn’t it? A reminder etched into your skin with his teeth, his claim, his subjugation of you. A demon lord’s power over a human woman. As it should be…why would you be permitted to forget?
He drags the length of his cock out and pushes back in slowly, feeling your insides stretch around him and paying special attention to the way your legs quiver like a newborn foal’s when his cockhead presses against that gummy patch in your inner walls. You’re close to finishing—the fluttering of your cunt and the needy twitch of your hips is proof enough of that. The marking will hurt, but you’ll have to take it well enough when you’re creaming yourself around him.
The fingertips massaging your clit speed up, and you choke out a moan. “Oh—it feels—my lord, please, I—I’m going to—“
Without a hitch in his relentless pace, Sesshomaru pulls back from where he’s been laving over your neck so he can speak lowly into your ear. “This will be painful…”
…What? you think, too focused on the way he’s touching you, fucking you, building up your orgasm to really care what he’s saying. Just like that—just a second more and I’ll—
“Endure it,” Sesshomaru commands, and just as you feel yourself tip over the edge and lose yourself in pleasure, there’s a surge of something behind you, on top of you—some energy, something that makes every hair on your body stand on end because of how inhuman it is, and then—
—ah, it hurts, it hurts…
he’s biting you, teeth puncturing the skin of your shoulder and holding you down in this position of undeniable surrender. The pain is overwhelmed by your sopping cunt clenching around him, all of the sensation rolled together and crashing over you like a wave—and you feel it, feel yourself go under for a second—your vision winking to black as you open your mouth and wordlessly keen like an animal. Tears prick your eyes (from the pain in your shoulder or the force of your climax—you can’t even tell the difference at this point) and you try to pull back and wipe your face but you’re too weak for it. Sesshomaru’s arm is flexed, still holding your hand down and locking you in position. He pulls back from your neck and you can hear his own breath falling out of rhythm, the uncontrolled jerks of his hips into you as your pussy seizes up on his cock.
It takes a moment—a long moment, maybe even longer than that—before you’re able to muster up the strength to speak, but he’s lapping at the mark on your neck and every time his tongue passes over it, the sharp ache of the wound lessens by a fraction. “Did you—was that a demon mark? You marked me?”
Sesshomaru’s chest moves slowly as he pulls out of you and forces his breath to calm—he hasn’t done this in a long time, hasn’t had reason to—and the sight of the claiming mark is waking up something predatory in his blood. He feels—closer to his true form than he should in this appearance; the demon blood is racing through him, youki prickling over his skin and drawing him into you, into the place where his teeth were sunk in your neck—(he did try, he tried to hold back) but even so it’s more pronounced on you than it would be on a demon: a ring of shallow red welts punctuated with the harsher points where his canines drew blood, the flesh puffed and bruised darker than the surrounding skin. Such things are meant to be temporary and periodically renewed between mates, but yours will be permanent.
And still. Still. He wants to do it again. Leave proof of his ownership on every patch of untouched skin on you. Ruin you for anyone else who sees you like this—better, better yet, make sure he is the last, the only one who will ever see you like this, have you like this, ever again.
You asked something. She asked something. Your heart is beating like you’re afraid. You asked if he marked you. He can taste your blood in the air. Sesshomaru’s mouth moves and it wants to speak in the voice of an animal, of a demon, but you won’t understand. “…Yes.”
Oh…he wants to look at you, wants to see the evidence of what he’s done to you in your face. Humans have so little control over what they let themselves feel. “Look at me,” he says, and despite the tremors still passing over you, you tentatively raise yourself up on an arm and twist to look back at him.
The second you reluctantly meet his gaze, your meek expression shifts into horror. “L-Lord—Sesshomaru? Your eyes…”
And it’s then that Sesshomaru realizes what he’s done, what he’s doing. He’s sustained the partial transformation he took in order to mark you, and you’re seeing it now—the scarlet eyes, the exaggerated markings, the sharp canines, each feature a shade closer to his genuine youkai form. You flip onto your back and then edge back on the bedroll, but he feels you—trying to get away, she can’t—and pushes you back down to hover above. “Did you forget…what I am, girl?”
Human speech feels like a labor—his mouth should be touching you, tasting—marking you. Again. He should be inside you, feeling your soft, sticky cunt bathing him in warmth. Here, listen, you’re a human but it doesn’t matter now. You can take it because you will, you have to. You came so quickly—it must be easier, faster for humans than demons—and Sesshomaru wonders idly how many times you’ll cum before he does, whether you’ll be able to hold yourself together or—
No—no. A stubborn drop of blood wells up in one of the welts on your shoulder and then smears down, leaving a trail of rich red on your skin until Sesshomaru lowers himself down to lick it clean, letting the smell, the taste of you spread over his mouth. He won’t let you. He won’t let you fall apart. You don’t have a choice.
And—whether he realizes it or not—neither does he.
Writer Spotlight: Amanda Foody & Christine Lynn Herman
Well, well, well. What's this? A treat? For you? In Halloween week, its very self? You betcha. This week, we're exploring the world of new @torteen release ALL OF US VILLAINS by asking its creators, Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman, all about the novel's characters and themes. Click through to the end for writing advice, thoughts on the YA fantasy genre, and a linked sneak peek 👀
First off, can you describe the plot of ALL OF US VILLAINS?
All of Us Villains takes place in Ilvernath, a small, remote city that—up until the publication of a salacious tell-all book one year ago—was quite forgotten and overlooked. But now, its dark secret has been revealed. Every generation, seven of the city's oldest families send a teenage champion to compete in a tournament to the death. The winner's family gets to claim the most powerful type of magic in the world. Our four POV characters, each one of this generation's seven champions, have to grapple with the dangers of the tournament in addition to their newfound but unwanted fame. The book has lots of plot twists, morally gray characters, and—as you'd probably guessed—blood.
Can you talk a bit about your inspiration for exploring themes of inherited family responsibility and community-sanctioned violence?
Both of these themes came about organically as we developed the initial concept of a death tournament novel. By linking the tournament to seven families, each required to put forth a champion, we created an inherited trauma that each of our main characters grapples with differently. It was important to us that we explore the nuances of how they were raised, their coping mechanisms within such an extreme situation, and the tournament's impact on the wider community. Because for all that these teenagers are fighting for power, there is also a question of responsibility. Is the blood they've shed on their own hands, the hands of the people who sent them off to die, or something else entirely? In a world of spells and curses, how do these people allocate blame? All of this is tied up in the stories our characters tell themselves and in those the world tells about them; their roles as heroes or villains develop from that.
What made you want to write a story about the villain instead of the hero? And do you believe in that binary, or is it more complicated than that?
We both firmly believe that all people—and thus all interesting characters—are composed of good and bad traits. We chose to write about characters whose bad traits are especially villainous because it felt appropriate for the story. These are teenagers who have been raised for this death tournament, who have been taught that the reward of power is more important than the lives taken to achieve it. That takes a certain type of person…and not necessarily a straightforwardly good one.
Can you give us any hints as to what to expect from the next book in the series?
You can expect a lot of romance and a lot of betrayal. Perhaps they even go hand in hand?
What made you first want to write stories, and how did you come to tell the stories you tell?
Christine: I've wanted to be an author from the moment I fell in love with books—so, most of my life. Since the books I connected with deeply were always speculative fiction, it was inevitable that I'd want to write books that included magic. And since I loved kidlit so much, even after a lot of my friends "aged out" of reading it, it was inevitable that I'd want to write YA books, too.
Amanda: If I loved something as a child, I had a very "my turn" attitude. I loved drawing, so I drew all the time. I loved crafts, so I knitted and beaded and made pottery all the time. I loved board games, so I designed at least half a dozen. Books were just another thing I loved, and writing was the hobby that endured the most. And because fantasy was always my favorite, it never felt like a question that fantasy would be what I would write.
If you could pick one character from AOUV that you identify most with or root for most, who would it be, and why?
Amanda: I'd choose Isobel. Not only do we often think alike, but Isobel's family looks a little bit like mine since her parents are divorced. I grew up with a lot of divorce within my immediate family but never saw it in fantasy novels, so it has become a running theme in my stories. But I have no one specific character I've rooted for more than the others. They're all our characters, and I love them all equally!
Christine: I identify a great deal with Briony's stubbornness and determination, as well as her struggle to break out of the stories she tells herself vs. reality. Although she definitely takes all these traits to extremes in ways that I personally do not. As far as rooting for any of them...well, as one of their authors, I'm responsible for all of their misfortunes. But I am also rooting for all of them to get the chance to take a relaxing nap one day.
Do you have any hopes and dreams for the future of the YA Fantasy genre? What would you like to see more of?
We are both thrilled with the ways that the YA fantasy genre has become more inclusive to marginalized voices. But we also believe that there is a continued need for authentic and diverse representation. In the future, we hope to see more books by authors of color, fellow members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and other voices that deserve to share their stories and that will bring so much to the genre.
Aside from working on AOUV, are there any other exciting projects you're working on that you can share with us?
Amanda: I'm currently publishing a middle-grade fantasy series, Wilderlore. It's been my lifelong dream to write this kind of story—the kind where the characters age up with each new installment, with a sprawling cast and world and so much adventure. I'm completely smitten. The first book, The Accidental Apprentice, is already out, and Book 2, The Weeping Tide, hits shelves on February 1, 2022.
Christine: I have a solo YA contemporary fantasy novel coming on April 19, 2022, called The Drowning Summer, that's about queer first love, climate change, ghosts, and a very spooky ocean. I'm very proud of it and excited to see what readers think!
Do you have any advice for writers who are just starting out and trying to get a foot in the door?
Christine: It's so easy to get discouraged when tackling a project as long and laborious as a novel, especially if the words aren't coming out the way you envisioned them. For me, writing is mostly re-writing. Learning to embrace that messy first draft as the first step in a long but rewarding process is a great way to be proud of putting words on the page. It also helps you let go of the need for those words to be perfect.
Amanda: I always recommend that aspiring writers read as many books about the craft of writing as they can. Once you understand the nitty-gritty mechanics of storytelling, every new book you read for pleasure will teach you twice as much. Plus, though they might sound textbook-adjacent (and thus rather dull), I've always found them really fun to read!
Thank you to Amanda and Christine for taking the time to answer our questions! If you want more of ALL OF US VILLAINS, click through here for an exclusive reading/audio sample, or pick it up from your local bookshop or library on November 9, and let us know what you think!