#y’all knOW he probably reached out to Eddie right after
Buck texting Eddie after he got punCHED
From Buck: 🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺
From Eddie: Hang on. I’m coming over.
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now you know
genre(s): fluff; angst; friends to lovers(?)
pairing(s): rody soul x reader
fandom: my hero academia
warnings: language; spoilers for mha whm movie; unedited
other notes: i finished this at four am so some sleep deprived thoughts probably got in here but i’ll edit it next week! uhh there’s a lot of backstory. i can’t write endings for sht, sorry y’all
originally posted: 14 november 2021
keywords: y/n (your name)・y/f/n (your full name)・ r/f (random flavor)
you watch from the main room with a smile on your face as you watch rody get ready for work with the help of his brother and sister.
“roro, lala,” he says as he buttons up his gray dress shirt. “it’s about time for me to head off to work. you know what to do.”
“we’ll study bunches!” they say in unison as they hand him his tie. your smile widens.
“and if it turns out i’m not going to be home till late?”
handing him his jacket, the younger kids say, “we’ll make dinner for ourselves.”
“hmm okay. but what if a weirdo shows up and tries to stop you?”
you chuckle as he makes a nefarious-looking face, curling his fingers to resemble claws. he starts at them and they break out in to laughter, running to join you in the main room.
they jump on to the couch. “we’ll pretend nobody’s home.”
rody looks at you, giving you that gentle smirk of his as you stand up from your spot at the table, walking up to him.
he throws an arm around your shoulders. “and you’ll be good for y/n?” he asks, pressing a kiss to your cheek.
your eyes widen, your cheeks heating up as roro and lala nod eagerly.
when rody removes his arm from your shoulders, you reach up, pretending to wipe the kiss from your cheeks.
you think you see a flash of disappointment flash through his eyes before he unlocks the door to the trailer home.
“don’t worry though.” he says, stepping outside. “i doubt today’s gig is going to take that long anyways.”
pino appears then; she’s rody’s adorable pink bird, the reflection of his soul, though not many people knew that about the winged companion of his.
you knew, however; perks of knowing the boy since the two of you were tots.
she flies up to lala first, pecking her cheek, then roro’s.
“pino!” lala coos.
“alright i’ll catch you kiddos later.” rody says, jutting his arm out for pino to perch on. he winks at you. “you too, i guess.”
you stick your tongue out at him.
“have a good day!” the three of you call after him.
the three of you step back inside the home; you lock the door.
“roro, you want to do some math first?” you inquire, stepping into the bedroom to grab a bag from the closet area.
the bag was a simple tote, that you kept text and workbooks in for the kids. you take a seat at the table, pulling out the mathematics book you had for roro but to your surprise, the boy shakes his head.
he takes a seat at the table next to you and lala climbs in to your lap, curling in to your chest. you
“how did you and rody meet?” roro asks. “you guys have known each other since before i was born, right?”
you nod, unable to help the smile that spreads across your face as you remember being four years old, running around your backyard with rody.
“our moms were friends,” you start. “they met through work. i was two and rody just turned three when we met. apparently we got along really well right away; that’s what your dad always used to say.”
you didn’t exactly remember meeting rody, but your earliest memory involved you and him and a blow up pool; you were maybe three and a half, possibly four.
and, as it goes to show, you’d been around the souls ever since— they’d always been a big presence in your life, especially rody and the kids.
roro was born when you were five, and lala when you were almost eight. back then, you lived quite close to them, practically down the street, and you’d often go over and help rody with his siblings while eddy was at work.
then eddy disappeared, the news of him leaving to join humarise spread all around town, and everyone shunned the kids. the neighborhood ran them out of their home. it was your first look into just how cruel people could be, even to kids.
though your parents were against it, you often snuck away to the trailer home to see the three people who meant so much to you, skipping school to help rody care for the youngins while he went out to do whatever he could to help them get by for the week. at just eight years old, your heart was set on doing whatever you could to help that family.
eventually your parents found out what you were doing, but they knew how stubborn you were and though they didn’t like it, they’d never dream of taking your freedom away, of forcing you to do things you didn’t want to do. though you’d wished many times they’d done things differently, they hadn’t been all that bad; they more or less took to turning a blind eye, pretending like it wasn’t happening.
then, last year, your parents passed away in a tragic automobile accident. with no living relatives, there wasn’t much of a decision to be made— you packed what you needed and moved in with rody, roro and lala.
“do you love him?” lala questions, looking up at you with her wide gray eyes.
you practically choke on air then. roro moves to grab you a glass of water as lala giggles at your reaction.
you thank roro as he hands you the cup, taking a swig of the liquid.
“uhm,” you silently ask yourself if lala meant any specific sort of love, before deciding to answer her with the answer you knew would always be true, no matter what other feelings came in to play. “of course i love him. he’s my best friend.”
— ⋆✸⋆ —
it’d been a few days full of worry since you’d last seen rody, without any word from him, when otheon general had called you as you got roro and lala ready for bed.
“is this y/f/n?” a sweet voice hums on the other end.
“yes, speaking.” you say warily, handing the kids their freshly washed night clothes.
“this is tara with otheon general. we have you as the emergency contact for rody soul here . . .”
it felt like you’d stopped breathing then. like someone had punched you straight in the throat.
you’d done a good job keeping your shit together these last few days for the kids but otheon general was calling you, rody’s emergency contact, and he’d been missing, and oh god were they calling because he was—?
“he lost a lot of blood but he’s in stable condition,” tara says. “in fact, you can c—”
you’d moved to hang up on her before you even realized you were doing it, and told roro and lala there’d be a change of plans.
the three of you had walked to the hospital and when you got there, half an hour later, the desk lady told you he was ready for visitors. she gave you instructions to his room, pointing down the hall towards the elevator.
when you got up to his floor, you let roro and lala go in to see him first. they were his family after all; you could wait.
so there you sat, your bum hurting from the uncomfortable polypropylene chairs, picking at the skin around your nails. you laugh softly to yourself as you do so, knowing if rody saw, he would thump your forehead.
you exhale deeply and without roro and lala to be strong for, you finally let the tears fall.
you know rody’s okay. obviously he is, or else you and the kids wouldn’t be here; the kids wouldn’t be in his room right now and you wouldn’t be waiting to see him but when you’d gotten the call, you hadn’t been able to think anything but the worst.
your life would fall apart without rody. how would roro and lala cope— first their dad, now their beloved big brother? he’d die without knowing the full extent of your love for him.
you always thought you wouldn’t be that person who fell in love with their best friend. that you and rody could have that strong bond and those teasing moments without any underlying romantic feelings.
but everything happened— his mom dying, his dad disappearing, the terrible neighbors, and your parents’ death, and you don’t know how it happened or even when exactly, but somewhere along the line, the love you felt for the carefree smooth talker became something more than the “i’d do anything for this kid” love you’d felt since you were eight.
you’d found yourself wondering what it’d be like if the small, intimate moments you’d sometimes shared (cuddling on the couch, cheek kisses) would be like if you were calling him yours. what if, when your neighbors and the townspeople teased you two about acting like an old married couple, he’d toss an arm over your shoulder, pull you close, and say, “that’s right! this is my grumpy old person, and we’re not married yet but we will be one day.”
you’d fall asleep thinking about what it’d feel like to kiss him; trying to think back to when you started getting all flustered when you’d accidentally catch him without a shirt.
“y/n, are you okay?”
you sniff, looking up to see roro and lala walking toward you, a green haired boy just a couple inches shorter than your rody walking behind them.
he looks worse for wear.
“yeah, i’m fine.” you say, taking the end of your shirt to wipe at your eyes.
“y/n? i’m izuku midoriya,” the green haired boy greets with a bright grin. “you can call me deku though! i’ve been with rody these last couple of days and he’s told me so much about you three! it’s nice to meet you. rody would like to see you by the way. i’m going to take them down to the cafeteria to hopefully get a treat.”
“it’s nice to meet you too,” you say to deku. not exactly trusting him, you then ask, “who are you exactly?”
“i’m a hero!” he beams. at your furrowed brow, he continues. “from japan. i was here in otheon on hero business when everything went south.”
you look at roro and lala. “do we trust him?” you ask the two. they smile their bright smiles and nod.
“hm, if you say so.” you jest, standing up. you give them each a hug before walking towards rody’s hospital room and knocking on the ajar door. “‘tis i!”
“you’re oddly chipper for someone whose best friend was at death’s door not even six hours ago.”
“shut up rody soul, or so help me!” you snarl, wagging a finger at him. new tears spring to your eyes as, at his comment, you once again think about him dead.
he doesn’t seem to notice at first as he laughs to himself but when he catches sight of the thick balls of water streaming down your cheeks, he stops.
you take a quick moment to compose yourself before you go to stand at his bedside. he reaches out to you, grabbing your wrist and pulling you to sit down.
“hey,” he croaks. “no need to cry. i’m fine.”
“you almost died, rody.”
“yeah, but i didn’t!”
you snort, rolling your eyes. no matter, your free hand goes to rody’s still wrapped around your wrist; you uncurl his fingers from around your wrist and take his hand in yours.
“i saved the world! no seriously,” he assures at the look of incredulity on your face. “i thought it’d just be a normal job when i left, i was just supposed to bring some jewels to the drop off location but deku, the green haired kid out there . . .” then he launches into explaining what had gone on these last couple of days.
you’re mostly paying attention. but you’re also thinking, once again, how you almost lost him.
“i promise i listened,” you start. “but i’ve been thinking and . . .” he quirks a brow and you roll your eyes again, already knowing what’s going to come out of his mouth when he opens it. “let me finish this one, please?”
he quickly shuts his mouth and you smile softly at him.
“when i’d heard what had happened, i was terrified. i thought the worst.” you leaned forward, resting your forehead against his. you hear his breath hitch. now or never; maybe some other day, but now seems like the best option. “i thought, ‘rody’s going to die without ever knowing how i really felt.’”
rody says nothing, but pino makes herself known, curiosity etched across her features.
you swallow hard. “i love you, rody soul.”
pino chirps, making a show of falling off rody’s shoulder and landing on his chest. she lays there. you take a finger and stroke her feathers.
“i’ve known for about three years,” you’re guesstimating but it sounds about right. “when i realized i was probably stuck with you for life.”
rody opens his mouth, closes it. opens it again, closes it again.
honestly, you’d figured he didn’t feel the same— his short laugh whenever neighbors would coo at the two of you; his quickness to deny the two of you being a couple whenever store clerks would bring up how cute the two of you were.
though you’d known him since practically, sometimes it was still hard to tell what he was thinking, especially after his father went missing.
but those actions were clear enough. weren’t they?
“i- i’m going to go. i’ll send roro and lala back in.”
you reluctantly pull away from him to stand up, dropping his hand.
as you walk the few short steps to the door, pino looks up from rody’s chest. she trills worriedly, rushing over to you, grabbing hold of the hem of your shirt in her beak.
you stop, turning to face her owner.
pino releases your shirt to fly back to rody. she rests on the crown of his head, gesturing at him with one wing; she gives you a look of desperation.
you walk back to his bedside, arms crossed over your chest to keep yourself together in case he decides to break you.
“y/n,” he gestures for your hand again and you reluctantly let him have it. he takes it, once again yanking you down to sit on the bed with him. “hey, you know, i’d thought i’d say it first.”
your heart stops. you look at him, questioning.
he throws his head back against the hospital pillow. “i’ve loved you since we were ten,” he admits. “at first, i thought— i don’t know. i thought maybe i hadn’t loved you, as a friend, before? and so i was finally just feeling that love for you.
“but i had loved you as a friend. you made me smile and laugh, and you made me feel safe, and for that i was grateful and i loved you. then, yeah. at some point in our tenth year, it started to feel different. more intense. you’ve never failed to make me feel like i was someone who mattered. you’ve always been there for me, for us. and there were other things too that made me realize but . . .” he trails off, and you get where he’s going.
you let him know you catch his drift with a soft laugh.
“so yeah, i thought i’d say it first, when i finally found the courage; but i kept asking myself, what if you didn’t feel the same? what if i told you and ruined what we had? i couldn’t do that.”
you launch yourself at rody, wrapping your arms around his shoulders and hugging him as tightly as his injuries would allow.
pino jumps on to your shoulder, chirping happily.
“i never thought,” you start, pulling away from rody to look in to his gray eyes. “pino never made it seem like you were interested. when we’d go out and people would say things, you always denied it and—”
“sometimes she knows what’s good for her,” he interjects with a smirk. then he frowns. “i think she also didn’t want to know though, if you didn’t feel the same.”
“but now you know,” you say.
“now you know,” he repeats.
you bend forward, a hint of a smile resting at the corners of your lips.
“so, what now?” you ask.
“well, we already live together.” rody hums. “how about we get married?”
you yelp in surprise, frowning at rody when he starts chuckling. you go to shove his shoulder before remembering his predicament; you flick his forehead instead.
he whines, rubbing the area with the palm of his hand.
“now you have to kiss it better,” he huffs.
you roll your eyes, your eyes closing as you pucker your lips and bow towards your best friend. your lips barely brush his forehead when his hands reach up to grab your face, pulling your lips down the few inches to meet his.
he pulls away before you can even react, turning away from you, a furious blush on his cheeks he can’t hide no matter how hard he tried.
“sorry,” he says.
“no reason to be.” you tell him, reaching to push some hair from his face. you tap his nose, and he scowls for a second. then you say, “kiss me again.”
that’s when you catch the faintest hint of a smirk on his lips before he’s pulling you back to him by the back of your neck. he tastes like r/f jello and the kiss is sweet and tender, his lips on yours sending a soft ache humming through your veins.
your hands move from his shoulders to cup the back of his head, your fingers threading through the hair at the nape of his neck as you deepen the kiss.
an “oh” and an “aww” cause the two of you to pull apart; you look over your shoulder to find roro and lala in the doorway with deku standing behind them. the green haired hero scratches his neck, mumbling an apology.
rody grins. “it’s not like you knew, hero.”
lala squeals, running up to you and jumping into your arms. you adjust her on your lap as roro climbs up on to the bed as well.
rody reaches out for you and one look at him and you know what he wants. pino also helps you figure it out as she nestles into your shoulder.
you move to be closer to rody, curling into his left side as roro snuggles himself on rody’s left. rody wraps his arms the three of you, holding you tight.
tighter than he ever has before.
and you can’t really explain it other than there’s this weight that’s lifted off your shoulders. like the tides are finally going to turn.
rody knows he’ll always have you, and you know you’ll always have rody. the two of you, with roro and lala, your own little family.
and as long as you all have each other, nothing else matters and everything will be okay. it will all work out.
after story notes
sorry to taint the rody tag with this y’all🤧 hope you enjoyed!
taglists (permanent; bnha; rody soul)
@biqherosix @anything-and-everything-20 @leonardos-katana @greaser-wolf
© 2021 misfits1a. all rights reserved. do not repost, translate or claim my work as yours; please credit if you want to repost my work in a fic rec
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the 9-1-1 men seeing you in the LAFD sweatshirt and cuddled up to them 😍🥺
Author’s Note: I added Hen too because I couldn't help myself :) also it’s currently the morning of February 8th. Here’s a lil fluff for y’all before we go batshit crazy over the buckley family secret tonight 😌
Word Count: 1.8k
Oh how you despised laundry day.
You never did the laundry but Hen wasn’t home today and you figured it would be nice for her to come home and not have to worry. So as a good partner would, you tumbled through the house and collected all the dirty clothes, which included the flour covered shirt you were currently wearing and tossed it into the machine.
Now, if it were up to you, you’d just continue your day without a shirt but it seemed odd to do that, especially since you didn't know if Hen would be bringing any company home with her. Digging through the drawers, there were no clean shirts.
Are you kidding me right now ?
Finally spotting a shirt under a stack of pants, you tugged it out of the drawer. The front had the little fire station logo on it and the back read Los Angeles Fire Department. Not giving it a second thought, you pulled it on and went about your day.
Hen should be on her way home soon and you were sitting on the bed surrounded by clothes, folded and unfolded. You never realized how much work it took to fold laundry, you laid back against the pillows. The last thing you remember was the smell of freshly washed clothes.
“Babe? I’m home! Where are you ?” Hen calls out as she walks into the house. It was quiet but your car was in the driveway.
“Y/n ?!” she calls again, walking further into the house. Turning into the bedroom, she smiled at you. You were surrounded by the laundry and fast asleep. She moved some of the clothes over to the drawers and sat beside you on the bed. The bed shifted as Hen pulled the blanket over you.
“Hey” you give her a sleepy smile, “hey you, how was your day ?” she asks as you shift closer to her.
“Good, I did the laundry” you mumbled, your eyes shutting again.
“I like your shirt” she chuckles
You mumbled an answer, “yeah it looks better on you”
“I think I like this one better on you” her arm wraps around you as you fall back to sleep.
“What colour should we do ? We got blue and red and uhhh-” you reached into the cupboard for the little bottle of food colouring “yellow” you turned to Christoper who was beside you. The two of you were baking cupcakes for the team.
“Green!” he shouted and you nod. “Sounds like a plan, now my little scientist, what do we mix to make green ?” “blue and yellow” he said, you take the lid off the little blue bottle and hand it to him, you do the same with the yellow. The two of you pour a ridiculous amount of food colouring in the frosting. Plugging in the mixer, you began mixing the frosting. After a few minutes, the two of you looking into the bowl.
“Well, that doesn't look right” The frosting a mucky green, almost brown colour rather than just the normal, light green colour you were going for.
“We should buy frosting instead” Chris says, sticking a finger into the bowl and tasting the frosting. “Does it taste good at least?” he gives you a smile, you take that as a yes. You were looking up grocery stores that were still opened and Chris was washing the frosting off his hands. You moved so that he could be the paper towel and accidentally hit the on button on the mixer.
Frosting ended up everywhere.
“Well that’s not good” You and Chris laugh. You wipe the frosting off his face and send him off to change his shirt as you clean up the kitchen. Looking down at your own shirt, you too, were covered in frosting. You walked to Eddie’s room and found one of his LAFD shirts laying on his bed. Pulling off your own, you pulled on his instead.
“Maybe we should just buy cupcakes instead ? We can just eat these later ?”
The two of you headed out to find a store that sold cupcakes and was still open. it was currently 10:30 at night and technically, Eddie told you to have Chris in bed by 9:30 but you could never say no to Chris, especially when he asked to bake with you. Arriving at the station, you headed in together. Bobby was the first one to see the two of you. He walked you two up to the kitchen where the team was.
“Dad!” Chris shouted, getting his father's attention. He looked surprised to see you two there. “Hey buddy!” he gave Chris a hug, “What are you guys doing here?”
“We have cupcakes” he told his dad, Eddie smiled and let him go. Chris went off to see Buck and Chim. “Hey you” you smiled at Eddie, walking over and setting the box of cupcakes on the counter. “Is that my shirt?” he asks, you settle yourself between his legs, leaning onto his thigh as he sat on the stool by the counter. “Yeah. We attempted to make cupcakes but the frosting part was a bit of a disaster so I just borrowed this”
His arms wrapped around your waist, “that’s okay, it looks better on you anyways”
These back to back shifts were kicking your ass. You hadn't had a proper night’s sleep in over a week and you were running purely on the fact that coffee exists. You finally had a night off and thought it would be nice to spend a night with your boyfriend. You arrived at his place a few hours before his shift ended.
His fridge was stocked for once and you decide you’d make dinner. You weren’t the best cook in the world but you knew enough to make a decent meal and not burn the place down. It didn't take long to make dinner and you still had half an hour before he got home so to the shower you went.
The shower felt like heaven on earth considering that you had been living off coffee and mini naps in the break room at work. You managed to find a pair of pants you left there after spending a night, as for your shirt, you couldn't find any of your shirts.
What kind of person leaves pants but no shirt ?
You pick up the one you had on before only to find a stain on it. Tossing it in the laundry basket, you turn to the closet to find something. There had to be something in here that you could wear. Not that he’d mind coming home to dinner and a shirtless you but you rather eat with your shirt on. You pulled out a t-shirt from his closet, it was his LAFD shirt but it didn't seem to make a difference to you, you’d leave it before you went back to your place.
“Honey I'm home!” Chim laughed as he shut the front door. You practically skipped out of the bedroom, it had been way too long since you last saw him. “Hi, I missed you” you pull him into a hug, “I missed you too” he smiled.
He looked over at the kitchen, “you cooked too?”
“Yeah, I had some time”
“Can I take a shower or is dinner gonna get cold ?”
“That’s fine, it’s probably already cold,” you laughed, “I'll heat it up, go take your shower” you push him off to the bathroom before going to the kitchen. You tidy up a bit as he’s in the shower.
“Babe?” he calls as he walks into the kitchen, “have you seen my- there it is” he points to the shirt, you look down.
“Sorry” you give him a smile, making him chuckle. “It’s okay, I'll wear the other one.”
“Wait, you have more than one?”
“Yeah, obviously,” he laughs, “why would I only have one?”
“Well then, I'm keeping this one”
Opposite shifts sucks.
Although the two of you live together, you kept missing each other. Whenever he was coming in, you were leaving and when you were leaving, he was coming in. For the last 2 months, your relationship consisted of “good morning, have a good day at work” and “good night, sleep well” as you pass by each other on the way out.
You finally just gave in one day and called in sick. Were you sick ? No, but you were exhausted. You were working morning shifts and Buck was working nights, so you’d be home when he got home today but he didn't know that. Seeing that you were already up, you made you way over to the closet to get a hoodie because for some reason, it was freezing in the apartment although it was probably warm outside. You spotted Buck’s black LAFD sweater in the closet, it was your favourite of his but it looked better on you, or so you thought.
Walking down to the stairs and to the kitchen, you find the stale coffee that Buck left in the machine on the counter. Dumping it in the sink and putting on a fresh pot. The fridge was empty, for the most part, there was milk, eggs, cheese and what looked like leftover takeout. You managed to find pancake mix in the cupboard and dumped all the ingredients in a bowl. The door unlocked and Buck’s shoes thudded against the wall by the door.
“How many times do I have to tell you not to kick your shoes off like that ? You’re going to scuff the wall” your back was facing him but you glance over your shoulder to see your boyfriend. He seemed shocked that you were home.
“I thought you had work ?” he makes his way over to you, hugging you from behind. “Called in sick, thought we could spend the day together ?”
“Yeah, I like that idea” he kisses your neck, as his arms wrap around your waist. “Maybe we should just go back to bed” he says as he lifts you off the ground. The whisk falls from your hand and falls into the bowl, “Buck! come on, I'm making breakfast for you” you pry at his hands, he just squeezes you tighter.
“I just wanna cuddle, I miss you” he somehow turns you around, his hands now gripping at your thighs. He mustered up his best puppy dog eyes and gave you a lil pout. “You’re an overgrown baby Evan Buckley, do you know that?” you roll your eyes, he smiles at you.
“Yeah, I know” he makes his way up the stairs and back into bed. He dropped you on the bed, you shifted back up against the pillow. He joins you in bed after he changes, his arm wraps around your waist, pulling you into his side.
“Why do you smell like my cologne ?” he looked down at you, “is that my sweater ?”
“You mean our sweater ? Yes it is”
Buck laughed and shook his head, “yeah, our sweater looks cute on you”
taglist: @ssa-volturi @advicefromnixxxx @dralexreid @keenmarvellover @venusrosepetal @mikaelson-emma
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to let go
This is for the Discord lmao, y’all are the best.
Word Count: 2662 words
Eddie’s learned a lot from Buck over the years.
His partner is full of information, of random tidbits and facts about the universe. He’s intelligent, quick on his toes, and far more critical than anyone gives him credit for. He’s all these little things Eddie aspires to fill his life with, and just being with Buck is one of the best things to ever happen to him, period.
So when his boyfriend drags him down the dishes aisle at Walmart, Eddie goes willingly, because this is Buck and he always follows Buck. But even he has to admit that he's beyond confused at what's going on, because they're supposed to be on a date right about now.
“What are we getting these for?” he asks. “You trying out a new set?”
“No, but these are cheap, and if we break them, it’s not that big of a problem.” The answer clears up absolutely no confusion, but Eddie follows as Buck places two of the Walmart brand dinner plates and two of the smaller bread plates in their cart.
“What next?” Eddie asks, mentally checking his own shopping list for things he needs to get.
Buck, because he’s Buck, anticipates this and stops his thoughts right in their tracks. “We’re not shopping for things. We just need to pick up Sharpies and we’re out of here.”
“Man, are you okay?” Eddie looks skeptically in the cart, completely serious with his question. Buck only smiles, grabbing a two-pack of black Sharpies off the rack and nudging Eddie to move.
“Let’s go,” he says, walking to the checkout. Eddie trails behind him, grabbing a bar of chocolate that he knows Buck likes from the cashier’s counter and placing it on their carousel. One swipe of a card later, and they’re exiting the warmth of the department store to the frigidity outside.
Eddie, clad in at least three layers, shoves his hands into his pockets as deep as they would go, scowling when Buck, who’s roaming around in nothing but a thin T-shirt and an open jacket, laughs. He might be right at home with the cold, but Eddie isn’t, and has never been. His nose is already dripping for it, and he sniffles.
“Oh come on, Eds, it’s not that cold.” Eddie glowers at the teasing, snatching Buck’s keys away as he rounds the car to the passenger side.
“Save it, snow boy,” he grouses, hauling himself into Buck’s Jeep and turning the heater up as far as it’ll go. Buck places their bags in the backseat and climbs right in with him. “Where are we going now?”
His boyfriend sighs but humors him anyway. “We’re going a little past the LA city limit. I found this place when I first moved here, and it’s perfect for what we’re doing today.”
Eddie takes this opportunity to ask what exactly it is they’re doing, but he’s shot down immediately with one raised eyebrow and a smirk that Eddie wants to kiss off his partner’s face.
“You’re legally obliged to tell me now,” Eddie tells him, taking full advantage of his newly achieved boyfriend status.
Buck barks out a laugh, completely unfazed as he reaches for Eddie’s hands, still stuffed deep in his pockets. “No, I’m not. Jeez, you can’t wait twenty minutes?”
“We’re already twenty minutes from home.” Eddie slaps Buck’s hand away, not wanting cold fingers near him, and this only makes Buck laugh harder. “It is not that cold, Eddie.”
He doesn’t even try to justify that with a response, instead choosing to look out the window for clues on where they’re going. Part of him is thrilled at the prospect of this surprise, because he knows that Buck’s surprises are always amazing.
Another part of him really wants to know what his boyfriend’s up to. He can see one more plastic bag back there with what looks like dinner, and combined with the dishes and Sharpies, the only thing Eddie can think of is that they’re leaving the city to eat a picnic on permanently-labeled plates.
Regardless, the twenty minutes fly by in a comfortable silence, mellowed by the soft crooning coming from the radio.
As Buck pulls up and parks near the edge of a cliff, Eddie looks ahead and loses his breath.
He can see the city from this spot, all twinkling lights and a silence no one ever associates with Los Angeles, least of all two firefighters. It’s gorgeous, to be the minuscule equivalent of standing on top of the world, one half of his heart next to him, the other half asleep somewhere in that concrete jungle.
“You like it?” Buck’s soft voice breaks him out of his musing, and Eddie leans over to kiss him.
“I love it, and I love you,” Eddie says, savoring the light blush he can see even with the limited light.
“Well come on, then. There’s more to this than just sitting here.” Buck unfastens his seatbelt, leading Eddie to follow as he pulls the plates and permanent markers out. He also uncovers a black trap from the back that had escaped Eddie’s notice the first time.
“What’s all that for?”
“You’re more curious than Christopher is,” Buck teases. “What happened to the patient guy I fell in love with?”
“He gets it from me.” Eddie waves an arm, dismissing the quip. He takes the plates Buck passes him, along with the Sharpie. “All my patience disappears when it comes to these shenanigans of yours.”
“Now I know you didn’t call our date night a shenanigan.” He holds up the two plates. “Okay, so I saw this online, but basically, at the end of a year or month, depending on how anxious or bad it was, you write all the things that have bothered you onto these plates, and then you break them. I thought we could write the smaller things on the small plate that’ve just annoyed us but aren’t really big enough to make that much of a difference. Then all the bigger things that constantly set us on edge can be written on the larger plate.”
“Like flushing a burning photo down the toilet? Or burning a journal? Or shredding something to pieces?” Eddie equates, staring down at the large and small plate pair in his hands. He doesn’t know how he’s supposed to fit all of this stuff on here.
Buck’s expression lights up, and he nods eagerly. At that adorable look, Eddie can’t help but steal another kiss, grinning when Buck rolls his eyes. “Yeah, but basically you’re just letting go of all the negativity. It’s like...a condensed rage room that you can vandalize, I guess. You get to break things that you can’t.”
Putting the physical to the non-physical.
Eddie gets it; he really does. There have been so many things that have plagued both of them, rough times and months where there didn’t seem to be a way out. They weren’t problems that could be tangibly fixed in any way, shape or form, but Buck had found a way that they could at least try.
Hell, what did they have to lose?
Eddie says nothing after that, sitting cross-legged with Buck on the tarp, right on the cold pavement even though he feels like he’ll never get warm again. He uncaps his Sharpie and gets to work.
They write in silence, both of them doing the other the courtesy of not peeking or looking at the others’ plates. There’s an intimacy to be sitting here with his partner, writing his most private thoughts on these dinner plates.
As ridiculous as it sounds, Eddie’s glad Buck had the idea to do this.
It’s not until he gets halfway down the plate that he realizes a lot of his frustration this year has stemmed mostly from the job and the sheer annoyance that comes with people sticking body parts where they don't belong (among other things).
Last year, that story would’ve been completely different. Last year, it would’ve been full of all his leftover feelings after Shannon’s death, his lingering anxiety of not being enough to help Christopher through, the truck explosion, the tsunami, the lawsuit, the ambulance accident, the well rescue, Abby’s return, his anxiety over Chris going to a camp away from him for two weeks.
Now that he thinks of it, a lot happened that one year.
Regardless, he keeps writing, keeps listing the nightmares that plague him, borrows things from past years that he knows he hasn’t quite dealt with yet. The permanence of the black marker he’s using on the teal ceramic only cements their existence, and Eddie finds himself pulling things out of himself that he didn’t even know were there.
Eddie’s kept up with Frank. He may have started going for Christopher’s sake, but as he sits here in the cold scribbling onto ceramic, Eddie thinks that he must’ve made a lot of progress if a lot of his lingering feelings over the way his life had spun out of control haven’t plagued him as much this year.
He thinks that maybe this was an unintended function to this activity — a way for them to map their progress against the year before. There have been new challenges this year, but Eddie’s self-aware enough to recognize that his approach to some of them is a little different from before.
Still, there’s enough material here to cover the front and back of both plates, and Eddie can feel a flare of excitement at the back of his spine for the thrill of getting to break these. To let go of everything, even if it’s just for a moment.
“Done?” Buck asks. Eddie nods, getting to his feet and dusting off the seat of his pants. They rearrange the tarp on the side of the road, where there is still concrete, but they’re not right on the road.
“You know we’ve probably seen emergencies like these, right?” Eddie checks with his boyfriend as he goes to lift one plate above his head.
“Yeah, but that’s why we have this. We can clean the pieces off as best as possible. There’s a trash can over there where we can dump them.”
Buck’s clearly thought of everything so Eddie backs away, carefully watching to make sure Buck doesn’t get hurt himself.
Turns out there’s nothing to be worried about, because the second Buck slams the smaller plate against the concrete, he lets out a whoop of delight, bounding over to Eddie to kiss him.
“Dude, that’s amazing! Go, it’s your turn.”
Eddie skims the things he’s written on his plate, committing this moment to memory before lifting it and slamming it hard against the concrete.
The ceramic shatters, all of Eddie’s words scattering into tiny, minuscule pieces. With the image and the rush, he can feel some of the tension in his shoulders lift, and he grins at Buck who’s already beaming at him. “This is probably the best idea you’ve ever had, and you’ve had a lot of great ones.”
Buck laughs, slotting into Eddie’s side as he holds an arm up. He can’t even discern which of the scattered pieces belong to him and which to Buck, and in some ways, he thinks that’s an image he’d like to commit to memory too. They’re Buck-and-Eddie, pretty much everywhere. A package deal is what Hen calls them, and Eddie thinks that even in this, they’re not alone either way.
“It’s your turn again,” Eddie says, backing away to let Buck pick up his second plate. This is the one filled with all the bigger things and insecurities that have troubled his boyfriend and for one fleeting — unfair — moment, Eddie wants to read through all of those things so he can keep Buck safe from them.
But he doesn’t, because it’s not fair — especially when he knows that Buck wants to do the same for him.
Some things, though, they just have to work through alone.
The second plate goes down the same way, splintering further than its smaller counterpart. It somehow shatters into even smaller pieces, but they extend past the tarp, and Eddie catalogues where he sees some of them land so they can pick them up later.
Eddie picks up his last plate, making sure Buck’s a safe distance away. His eyes linger on some of the recurring nightmares he’s been having over the past two months, the biggest things that plague him right now.
And with one more controlled movement, Eddie slams the plate down hard, right in the middle of the tarp, where all the other broken pieces lay. This time, the sound of the ceramic shattering is louder than it had been before, ringing around them.
Eddie laughs at the sight, jogging across the road to pick up a few of the large chunks, making sure the road is completely clear. They don’t want to be responsible for an accident either.
Together, he and Buck fold up the tarp, carrying it over taco-style to the trash can. Eddie holds it steady as Buck tips the shards into the metal bin, wincing at the shrill sound it makes. They dust it off before folding it back up, hopping back into the warmth of the car.
“Where did you find the idea, anyway?” Eddie asks as Buck reaches back, pulling out a canister of hot chocolate from God knows where. He’s certainly not going to question it when his fingers are finally getting warm again, but sometimes Eddie wonders just how far in advance Buck plans for things.
“I saw it on Instagram. These teenagers just pulled up with a bunch of ceramic plates with things like “my boyfriend sucks” or “grades are dumb” or “I don’t like parents” written on them, and then they broke them in a parking lot.”
“Yours better not have had that first example on it,” Eddie teases, leaning back in his seat. Buck’s clearly in no rush to go anywhere, so neither is he.
Buck makes a face of mock-surprise. “Why, my entire plate was nothing but that you suck.” He sounds ridiculous with a faux Victorian accent and Eddie can’t help but laugh at the sheer ridiculousness.
“So they showed everyone what was on their plates?”
He shrugged, pulling a bag of pre-popped popcorn out. “They could’ve just staged it to show the idea, I don’t know. But it seemed like a good date idea to do before just chilling for a bit.”
“Chilling is right,” Eddie takes the opening immediately, laughing when Buck groans. “I had to say it, it was right there!”
They settle into a subdued silence after that, Buck passing him his dinner. They eat quietly, watching some of the lights flicker out as the buildings settle into slumber.
“It really did help, though,” Eddie brings up after a while. “Like I feel better about the things that’ve been bothering me. They’re still there, obviously, but not as hounding.”
“Are they things you can talk about right now?”
Eddie thinks about this, and thinks about this perfect moment they’re sharing. He’d share everything with Buck, that much is certain. But does he want to share it while they’re sitting here away from the chaos of the city? Not peculiarly.
“Are yours?” Eddie asks instead.
“Not right now, no,” Buck says.
“I think...I left a lot of it somewhere over there,” he gestures to the city, “but right now, I’m here with you and that’s enough for me. This stuff will still be there tomorrow.”
“So will I,” his boyfriend adds quietly.
Eddie turns in his seat so he can look at Buck instead, finding that he prefers this view instead. His boyfriend’s already looking back at him with a soft smile, and Eddie falls in love with him a little more.
He reaches for Buck’s hand, smiling at him. “Yeah, I know.”
And he does.
So they turn back, and together, they watch the city flicker to sleep.
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Modern AU teaser under the cut. Let me know what y’all think!
“Ugggh” Eloise said, dropping her forehead onto the textbook that lay on the table in front of her. She looked at her phone, 10:30 on a Friday night and she was still in the library. “How did I get myself into this situation?” she raised her head and looked across the table at Penelope, “Pen, when I said ‘oh I think I’m going to get a master’s in English’, English of all things, why didn’t you talk me out of it?”
Penelope shifted her eyes from her laptop screen to Eloise without moving her head. “Because,” she began to reply, never once stopping her typing “I believe your exact words were ‘Pen, I’m going to grad school and there’s no way you can talk me out of it’.”
“She’s right, El,” Edwina said not bothering to look up from her computer, “I have it on video.”
“How many drinks had I had up to that point?” Eloise’s head was once again in her textbook making her words difficult to hear. “And was I aware at the time that I would have to read The Canterbury Tales again?”
“None and yes,” Penelope replied.
“Ugh,” Eloise repeated, “what are you two working on?” she wanted to distract herself from Chaucer for a moment,
“I’m writing a paper about the works and political activism of Susan Sontag,” Penelope answered.
“I’m writing a reflection on a trip I had to take to the Met,” Edwina stated, “so I’m attempting to be engaging about statues I have seen on what must be at least a hundred occasions.”
“Do you guys remember in undergrad when we used to do fun and interesting things on the weekends?” Eloise asked.
“I don’t think that emptying 4 bottles of Barefoot Riesling and eating buffalo wings while watching Golden Girls re-runs could be deemed interesting in any sense of the word,” Penelope said, “plus, judging by the frequency with which Eddie’s phone has been vibrating, she certainly has an interesting weekend ahead of her,” she smirked.
Eloise’s head popped up in interest. Finally a distraction! “Are these texts from a gentleman?” she asked with a tone of overstated interest.
Edwina started to flush “Do you guys remember that TA I had last semester for my archaeology class?”
“The one who’s so smart and funny and cute and always replied to your e-mails right away?” Eloise replied, “I’m not sure if you mentioned him.”
Edwina’s eyes narrowed at Eloise’s teasing, “Well, we went out and got coffee the other week and we’ve been texting ever since, and long story short I think I’m going to marry him.”
“Marriage?” Eloise scoffed, “have you two even…?” she let her words trail off, but let a rude gesture with her hands finish the statement.
“I was being facetious,” Edwina replied, “and no, I haven’t slept with him,” she returned to typing just before adding, “Very ladylike hand gesture by the way.”
“Well, it’s a good thing I’ve never once tried to be ladylike in my life,” Eloise retorted.
“The blouse and pencil skirt you’re wearing at the library would state otherwise,” Penelope teased.
“Pen, you know I have to wear this when I tutor,” she shot back “apparently I have to look professional when I’m trying to help freshmen comp lit majors figure out what Candide is about.”
“What is Candide about?” Edwina asked.
“Hell if I know,” Eloise replied with a shrug. She looked back at her phone, “can we go home now?” she asked, “I hate walking through the park after 11.”
Penelope closed her computer, “I was about to suggest the same.”
As the 3 women walked out of the now-empty library Eloise spotted something on a bench in the vestibule between the library doors. It was a leather-bound notebook with a snap closure. Eloise couldn’t help but be curious, so she opened it.
“What on Earth are you doing El?” Penelope asked, “we are in New York City, god knows where that’s been!”
“Calm down Pen, it’s not street trash,” she replied. She opened to the first page of the notebook and read: property of Phillip Crane. If found, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Phillip got home and all but went straight to sleep. Well, first he thanked and said goodbye to his Aunt who had been kind enough to watch his children after their most recent nanny had quit.
It appeared that the final straw for the most recent young lady–in what seemed to be a revolving door of unfortunate women (and some men)– was when the twins had decided to put a layer of cream cheese on the deodorant that they found in her purse. Phillip was more bewildered by his children’s antics than anybody, but even he had to admit that someone who decided to pursue a career in child care ought to be made of sterner stuff.
But today had been a long day, and he needed to sleep before he went back to the lab tomorrow. He peaked his head into Oliver and Amanda’s room to make sure they were asleep. Or, if not asleep, not causing trouble. Then he went to his room and simply fell face down on the bed.
Phillip woke up the next morning to his alarm at 6 am in the clothes he had worn the day previous. He cursed under his breath, he was planning to wear that pair of khakis again today, but now they were all wrinkled and so was his shirt. Phillip went out into the kitchen and started making coffee when he heard a small voice from behind him.
“Daddy, you’re not going to wear those clothes to work are you?” He turned around to see Amanda in her pajamas.
“Don’t I look good?” Phillip joked with her.
“You look like you slept in your clothes,” she said flatly, moving a chair to the side of the cabinet to reach for the cereal that was a bit too high for her to reach on her own.
“That’s just the look I was going for,” he smiled and took a sip of his coffee, “do you want me to pack your lunch for you?” he asked. He didn’t have to be at the lab until 9:00 this morning.
“No thanks,” Amanda said passing him to get milk from the refrigerator, “Me and Oliver packed our lunches last night.”
Phillip felt his stomach knot. He was proud that both of his children were self-sufficient, but he hated the fact that they had to be. Ever since their mother died–and frankly, before–they had needed to be like little adults, in spite of being 8 years old. Phillip tried the best he could to be a good dad to them, but working toward a Ph.D. and having the pressure of a research fellowship on one’s shoulders made active fathering somewhat difficult.
“What did you pack, is it healthy?” Phillip asked, trying to make up for his dead-beat ways.
“Sandwich, apples, yogurt, and cheez-its,” she said matter of factly “I don’t know what Oliver put in his.”
As if on cue Oliver walked into the kitchen, rubbing the sleep from his eyes, “I made the same thing but with chips instead of yogurt, because yogurt is gross.” He joined his sister at the countertop and poured cereal into a bowl that Amanda had already set out for him.
“Alright, kids, what’s on the schedule for today?” Phillip said, putting down his coffee, “anything after school that I should let Aunt Gertie know about?”
“I have piano right after school,” Amanda stated.
“And I have a hockey game at 5,” Oliver said with a mouth full of cereal, “can you come, Dad?”
Phillip’s heart sank, he knew he probably wasn’t going to be able to make it, but he decided to try and humor his son anyway.
“Let me check my book,” he said walking over to his bag. He looked in the brown satchel to find that he couldn’t find the familiar brown leather datebook.
“Shit,” he whispered under his breath, “shit shit shit shit shit.”
“Are you okay dad?” Oliver asked, once more with his mouth full.
“Yes,” Phillip said with a sigh “I just can’t find my datebook.”
Phillip grabbed his phone to check the schedule he tried to maintain electronically and saw that he had an e-mail.
Dear Mr. Crane,
Hello! I just wanted to contact you because I believe I found your datebook outside the library last night. At least, this is the e-mail that was written to contact in case it was found. What is the best way that I can return it to you? I know I’m personally lost without my planner. Let me know how I can get it back to you and I will be sure to do so ASAP.
Eloise Bridgerton, B.A.
Student | NYU Graduate School of Arts & Science
P.S. I suppose I should ask you to describe it, just to make sure I’m handing it off to the right person. Once you’ve done that I will promptly return it to you.
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Romeo and... Cullen?! (Part 1.) | Jacob Black X Reader
Summary: Y/N Cullen, youngest in both actual age and last to be turned in the Cullen clan. Her world is turned upside down when Bella Swan enters her family’s life, because Bella doesn’t bring just herself but drags some of her friends into the Cullen’s life as well.
Pairing: Jacob Black (eventually) X reader
Word Count: 2,024
Note: ‘Tis I , back again, I know...another story? No stories are being abandoned I just have a lot of random ideas and will write as we go. Honestly it’s because my roommate and I constantly binged Twilight and Game of Thrones when we just couldn’t handle school and sorry not sorry I un-ironically love these trash movies and books...anyway onto the story!! (and yes the descendants stories are still going)
Note Pt 2: Y/N is actually gonna stand for your nickname in this like how Bella goes by Bella instead of Isabella. And Y/F/N is for your full name so basically the Isabella to the Bella.
“Someone tell me again why I can’t move up and be in junior year with Ed, Alice and Jas?” you yelled from the balcony of your room.
The yelling wasn’t necessary. They could all hear you from my balcony if you were at a normal speaking level the same way you could hear them if they were to speak at a normal level.
You were already dressed for school minus makeup, hair and shoes. You walked casually to your bathroom and opened up the various drawers to get your supplies. Your amber eyes looked extra gold this morning, evidence of last night’s family hunt, the black wings from the liner making them even more gold. You pulled the latest lipstick you bought from the store and swatched it on the back of your hand, grimacing as you looked at the ugly shade of pink against your skin.
Not that funny, Ed. you thought as Edward’s laughter could be heard from across the hall in his room. He was laughing louder on purpose just so you would be sure to hear it.
You wiped the lipstick off of your hand and picked up a different shade. You figured you’d just give the pink to Alice, everything looked good on her skin. Racing down the stairs at vamp speed, you went straight to the refrigerator. You hummed contently to yourself while looking in the fridge. Esme had stocked up on food and even made some biscuits. You warmed up two biscuits and after spreading butter on them sat down at the kitchen island.
“Ugh, (Y/F/N), how can you eat that stuff?”
“You know Rose, we were all human at one point. I seem to remember you liking this stuff,” you said, waving around a piece of biscuit. You set the food down and picked up the cup of blood, putting the straw to your lips.
“Still, it tastes like shit now.”
You shrugged. Something felt like you should eat. Blood was just needed for basic body functions, a single cup in the morning was probably enough to survive. Food was what really got you going for energy and even strength. Carlisle thinks it has something to do with how you were bitten. You, personally, don’t care enough to figure out why.
“It’s cause baby Cullen’s a weird one.” Emmett ruffled your hair as he spoke. “And you’re a sophomore because you look like one, you were turned at sixteen. Deal with it. Besides, now we get to stay here a little bit longer.”
“Hands off the curls, bro.”
You pushed his hand away. You already knew that being younger was a benefit for the whole family but it was still annoying. Senior year and you’d be without your siblings.
“Alright, I’ll catch you all at school. Dad asked me to drop off these files to Chief Swan.”
“Chief Swan? What does he want from Carlisle?” Emmett asked downing the leftover blood in the cup.
“Files. Something to do with the animal attacks around Washington, they’re coming closer to Forks you know. I think Carlisle’s been looking at the bodies. I’ll catch you at school, which I will be late for if I don’t drop off the files now.”
You pulled up to the Swan’s residence to see a beat-up, burnt orange truck.
“Hey Chief, I didn’t know you got a new car,” You said, getting out of your Mercedes convertible, the top down on this oddly clear Forks’ day. Your nose scrunched a little at the slight hint of wet-dog smell.
“Hey, (Y/F/N). This ride’s not mine, it’s for…”
“It’s uh, my ride.” A pale girl got out of the driver’s seat.
“Right! They’ve been talking about the chief’s daughter coming back to town. Isabella, right?” you extended a hand.
“Bella, got it. Then call me just (Y/N)… and you would be?” you turned your attention to a tan boy standing slightly awkwardly to the side.
“Jacob, Jacob Black.”
“Nice to meet you, Jacob.”
You ignored the glare you could feel from a man in a wheelchair who you could only assume was Jacob’s father. Black. You knew that name well. The faint wet dog was definitely coming off the old man and his chair.
“Well, I’m just here to drop off these,” you said, handing Charlie the files.
“Good, the station will be pleased to see these. One step closer to figuring things out. Tell your dad I said thanks.”
“Will do Chief Swan. You need a ride to school, Bella?”
“I don’t start till tomorrow.”
“Alright, then. Swans, Blacks. I wish you a good day, I’m off to class.”
“Need a pass?”
“From the chief of police? Anything to get out of study hall, thanks Chief.” You waited for him to write up a letter for the office and then sped away to Forks High School.
“I call shotgun!” you sped downstairs as fast as you could.
“Too late,” Jasper said smugly as he closed the passenger door to Emmett’s Jeep.
“Whatever, I’ll just ride with Edward,” you muttered, slinking over to the silver Passat.
“Am I that bad, (Y/N)?”
“No, you just drive reckless.”
Edward smirked as he drove out the garage and onto the main road. The drive was quiet. When it’s Edward and you, it’s always quiet. People wouldn’t think you two were the closest in the house based on first glance but the two of y’all just existed in the silence.
He reminded you so much of your actual older brother, it was scary how alike they could be in personality. He knows that and you were pretty sure that’s why Ed stuck so close.
Edward and you walked with Alice to your first class of AP English. The most the Cullens could swing was getting you into a few advanced classes with the juniors but you were still a sophomore. English went the same as it always does. Mr. Varner’s teaching style never changed.
Lunch rolled around and you met up with the rest of your siblings outside, ready to walk into the cafeteria. Sometimes it was aggravating looking at them all coupled up, like they had to show everyone their affection as they walked to lunch. Edward threw an arm over your shoulder and smiled as you looked up at him.
“We can be alone together, (Y/N).”
“I really wish you couldn’t read my thoughts, it’s getting old.”
“Give it a couple more decades, maybe it’ll get old to me too.”
“Whatever, Eddie. Let’s just head inside, I’m absolutely starving.”
Edward clutched your shoulder a little tighter as you walked in. You reached up to grab his hand and gave it a soft squeeze. The cafeteria could be overwhelming for Ed, too many unadulterated teenage thoughts running wild; and, he struggled to filter it all out sometimes.
“The Cullens. Dr. and Mrs. Cullen’s foster kids. It’s been going around Mrs. Cullen can’t have kids, so they’ve taken to adoption.”
Your ears pricked up at the mention of your names. No one really talked about your family like that anymore after two years, gossip’s no longer interesting. You looked out of the corner of my eye to find the source of the voice. Jessica and her friends, including Bella. You tuned in intrigued as to what they had to say; it seemed the rest of your siblings felt the same way. All of you purposely walked a little slower just for effect, Emmett and Rosalie leading the way.
“They’re all like together. Rosalie, the blonde one, yeah she’s with the big one, Emmett. Like a thing.”
“Jess, they’re not actually related,” Angela quickly interjected.
“Yeah I know, but it’s still kinda weird don’t you think? Anyway, the small dark-haired girl Alice is with Jasper. He’s the one that always looks like he’s in pain.”
You heard Emmett snort, trying to contain his laughter, at Jessica’s comment about Jasper.
“Dr. Cullen’s like this foster dad matchmaker.”
Well, Jess wasn’t too wrong on that.
“Maybe, he’ll adopt me,” Angela said.
“What about him?” Bella asked.
“Edward? Totally hot, supposedly single.”
“He’s not with her?” Bella must’ve been talking about you.
You unlocked your fingers from Edward’s and he removed his arm from your shoulder with a quickness, both of you disgusted. Maybe it would’ve appeared like you heard them but in that moment neither of you cared. Honestly, humans don’t notice that well anyway.
“Oh no. Just really close. I’ve heard that they’re actually related, half-siblings or something. No one really knows. No, Edward’s completely single. No one here seems good enough for him. Don’t waste your time.”
You pushed Edward’s shoulder as you sat down. He was laughing gently, remembering his less than gentle way of shutting Jess down.
“Wasn’t planning on it.” You heard Bella say.
“And that’s (Y/F/N). Youngest Cullen, she’s actually a sophomore. Also single, not like every guy hasn’t tried. Her brothers seem to stop anything before a guy can even get close to her. She keeps to herself just like the rest of them.”
“Really? She seemed nice the other day.”
“You talked to (Y/F/N) Cullen?” Mike asked while Jessica and Angela just stared in shock.
“She just came to drop something off to my dad but yeah, she offered to give me a ride to school.”
Bella gave you a small wave that you decided to return much to the shocked looks of her friend. It was the Cullens turn to look at you crazy. You just shrugged your shoulders and got up to get food, watching Bella, Jessica and Tyler get up and move towards the lunch line as well.
“Hey Bella. Jessica, Tyler.” you nodded at the two behind her. They both mumbled out their own ‘hey Y/N’ as if surprised you would even speak to them.
“How’s your first day been, Bells?”
“Alright, only three classes left. Barely survived gym but other than that, alright.”
“That’s good. Listen, my family will have my head if I don’t get back to our table but we should do something this weekend. Maybe catch a film or something? Not much to do in Forks, you know.”
“Yeah, uh, yeah, seems good,” Bella stuttered.
“Cool, oh my sister will probably want to join us knowing Alice. I’ll let you know, I guess. Catch you later.”
You strolled back to my table munching on the chips from the tray. Perk to being a vampire, you could eat all the junk food you want and never gain weight or anything.
“You want to spend time with her? The Swan girl?” Edward asked when you sat back down.
“Maybe she’s actually interesting, be nice to know someone at this school besides you guys.”
The rest of your family scoffed as you stuffed your face with the few chips left on the plate.
You were exiting the front doors of the school when you saw a silver Volvo zip out the parking lot at the speed of light.
“Edward, what the hell?!” you asked when he picked up the phone after the fourth time calling. He didn’t say anything but a weak sorry and hung up on me.
“Come on (Y/N), I’ll even let you ride shotgun.” Jasper walked by. You followed him and walked towards Emmett’s car.
“Seriously, Ed a heads up would’ve been nice. Thanks for fucking leaving me!” You yelled as you entered the house.
“He’s not here,” Esme said, coming from wherever she was in the house.
“What do you mean he’s not here, mom? He sped out of the parking lot with a vengeance where else would he go?”
“He stopped by briefly. All he said was La Tua Cantante.”
You stopped in your tracks. For now, you decided to drop it. You figured you could forgive him for leaving if it had to do with his mate.
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here’s a lil smth i wrote that i don’t think i’ll ever finish so! y’all can have it :)
He was living on borrowed time.
He had felt this way as soon as Richie had woken from the deadlights. He had taken such a deep breath after Eddie had reached him, unshed tears glistening in his eyes. Richie eyes had widened as he gripped Eddie’s arms and rolled both of them away from where Richie had been laying. Eddie barely had time to notice as they narrowly avoided the giant claw striking down where they had just been.
Eddie remembers the feeling of shock, how scared he had felt in that moment. He could’ve died, but he hadn’t. Because of Richie.
He remembers trying to swallow down whatever unsureness he had felt in that moment.
He remembers looking over at Richie, only to find him staring right back. Eddie had tried to say something, anything. Perhaps thank Richie for saving his life.
He remembers leaning a little closer, trying to get the words out as he looked in Richie’s eyes. Then someone, probably Bill, had shouted for both of them to come help. Beverly’s screams echoed around them and the moment had been lost.
For the first time in 27 years, he wishes he couldn’t.
Once they had finally gotten back to the Inn, he had left himself think. He belatedly wonders if he should call Myra.
Bill had mentioned needing to get back to work as soon as possible.
Richie had casually brought up tour dates he had coming up.
Stan was desperate to get back to Patty.
Ben and Beverly obviously were planning on getting the hell out of Derry again, but this time, together.
Mike was heading to Florida, maybe someplace further after that.
Eddie wasn’t quite sure where that left him. He had a job but he’d be surprised if they hadn’t already fired him considering the lack of notice he had gave before leaving. He had a wife but she was the last person he wanted to see right now.
He doesn’t know how to move on from this. He’s not sure what to do now that he Remembers. He doesn’t know how the rest of them can just go back to their lives.
Every time he closes his eyes, he sees himself dead, the way their battle with IT was supposed to end for him.
He’s not sure if any of them could even understand.
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Real to Me (Princess and the Frog AU) Chapter 1
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Summary: Virgil’s closer than ever to getting his dream, Pat’s prince is finally coming, and the Creativitwins are here, queer, and- shit.
Relationships: Platonic moxiety, familial creativitwins, eventual prinxiety
Characters: Virgil, Patton, Roman, Remus, and Janus (eventually Logan and C!Thomas)
Warnings: Unsympathetic Janus (I promise he gets a redemption arc) and like. one very minor swear word (lmk if I need to add anything else)
Word count: 4343
A/N: Heyyyy... so this chapter. Was NOT meant to be this long lmao, but I hope you enjoy it anyway!! I worked really hard on it, and as always reblogs are very much appreciated :) (Also feel free to drop by my ask box if you have any questions!!)
Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep!
Virgil groaned as he fumbled for the off button on his alarm clock. Another day. He rolled out of bed, narrowly avoiding the beat-up nightstand, working the kinks out of his neck. He quickly straightened out his sheets and stepped over to the old (“it’s vintage”) mirror his mama’d given him. Virgil wanted to make sure he was presentable, if only so he’d be stared at as little as possible. He tugged at his tight curls and grimaced. He’d slept in his work clothes to save time in the morning (lord knows he needed all the sleep he could get) but it left him looking a little rumpled. Virgil could see bags under his eyes too, and there was no time to put on makeup. He sighed. The outsides are just gonna have to match the insides today.
Virgil shuffled over to his closet to grab his coat. He rubbed his eyes and smiled at the sight of his dad’s picture, right next to the illustration he’d given Virgil so many years ago. Working three jobs suddenly didn’t seem as soul-crushing as before. He grabbed the black coat, quickly shrugged it on, and dashed out the door, snatching his hat at the last minute – it might rain later.
Virgil got to the corner just as the tram was pulling up, green paint and white stripes as dull as ever. The door opened and Virgil was eternally grateful someone he knew was at the wheel. He didn’t think he could handle the stress of wondering if they were going to go off the tracks. He gave a small smile to the portly man driving. “Hi, Charlie.”
“Hey Virgil!” Charlie looked him over sympathetically. “You’re lookin’ a bit roughed up today, son. Didn’t get much sleep?”
Virgil internally grimaced, knowing he’d probably be getting comments like that all day. He just forced a laugh as he reached the top of the steps and replied “Gotta pay the bills. You know how it is.” He wasn’t going to mention he could pay the bills just fine with one job. Or that he was probably chasing a pipe dream.
“Ha, yeah,” and a sympathetic look were the only responses Virgil got. That was fine. Uncomfortable people didn’t ask you questions.
Virgil walked down the dirty aisle of the tram. There were some empty seats, the hard plastic kind that public transport always has, but he just grabbed hold of one of the metal poles in the middle of the aisle.
Every once in a while, Virgil felt his eyes close for a few milliseconds longer than he’d normally let them. He didn’t want to let his guard down, lest he be pickpocketed or trampled or find himself in any other scenario anyone else might call “unlikely,” but it took an astounding amount of effort to pry his lids open every time. Virgil tried to fight it by staring at the people and cars passing by. New Orleans was as lively as ever. Even at 5:30 in the morning, there were jazz musicians playing on street corners and people dancing beside them, looking like there was nowhere else they’d rather be.
Virgil unfortunately became quite familiar with that fact as he stepped off the tram, almost running into a line of musicians as they paraded down the street. He started to get increasingly impatient as the trumpet, then the trombone, then the drummer danced by. Just as there was a break in the line and Virgil could see the street he needed to take to Duke’s Cafe, a large man with a handkerchief grabbed his hand and swung Virgil around in a circle. Affronted, Virge pushed the man’s hand away and quickly walked in the direction of the restaurant. Some people need to learn personal space.
“Wait Remus, I’m going to- ! Oof!”
Cackling could be heard as a fancifully dressed man with loose, dark curls piled on his head slammed into the railing of the ship.
“But Roman,” Remus said innocently, “I thought you said you were excited to get on land.” He waltzed up to the man pushing himself away from the edge of the boat.
“That doesn’t mean push me off the ship!!” Roman playfully shoved Remus.
“Eh, you didn’t fall or anything,” Remus shrugged.
The other rolled his eyes as the boat slowly pulled up to the docks, allowing the men aboard to see the photographers and reporters waiting to catch a glimpse. As soon as the ship pulled in view, flashes started to go off, capturing its gleaming white hull and a man standing behind the railing. As Roman flashed a practiced grin, Remus stepped away from the railing, as if hoping to prolong the time he had before stepping off the boat. When the ship began to pull to a stop though, the twins walked over to where the stairs led down to the dock, one with excitement in his eyes, the other with distaste. Roman struck a pose, hands on his hips (easy access for elbowing Remus), and flung off his crown to dash down the steps. Remus chased after him, determined not to be left on the boat (again), only pausing when he physically ran into Roman at the bottom of the stairway.
“Ro, what th-?!”
“Prince Roman! Over here!! Did you see you were declared most eligible bachelor by the Times-Picayune?”
Remus squinted at the reporter that called out to them. To Roman, anyway. Most eligible bachelor? Really?? That’s the dumbest question I’ve ever heard.
Roman, however, grinned and drifted to the center of the crowd. “Well no, you see, I just arrived, but to say I’m surprised would be-”
“Prince Roman! What do you think of New Orleans? Have you received your invitation to Eli La Bouff’s masquerade?”
Remus’ expression soured. Masquerades were lame anyway. He tried to push his way toward his brother. “Roman, come on-”
“I’ve found this city quite welcoming so far,” Roman didn’t acknowledge Remus, he just paused to beam around at the crowd, “and I’m looking forward to seeing more of it. In fact-”
“In fact,” Remus cut in, finally reaching that asshole, “we’d enjoy it more if we did some sightseeing.” He shoved Roman away from the crowd without waiting for a response. He hated reporters. He wasn’t even allowed to talk around them because apparently what the press hears is “important to our reputation” and if he doesn’t watch his language, “rumors might spread.” It was one time! And who would actually believe that Roman uses cacti as dildos? The whole thing’s all shit on a stick if you ask him.
“Oh, yes! Sightseeing!!” Roman clapped his hands excitedly and followed Remus off into the city.
Roman couldn’t remember when, but at some point he had lost Remus in the busy streets. It was definitely after he’d changed into street clothes, but before he passed the place grilling shrimp… The prince wasn’t too worried about his brother, but having a loose Remus on the town probably wasn’t great for the people of New Orleans.
Ro’s train of thought was interrupted by the sound of a trumpet blaring a couple blocks down. His head shot up and he took off down the road, drinking in all the sights around him. Every once in a while, he’d wink at a stranger, or maybe strum his ukulele in tune with the sounds of the city.
As the prince reached the end of the block, he saw a line of musicians dancing down the street. Roman’s face lit up and he chased after them. When he caught up he strummed along with the group and called, “Mind if I join?”
“Hey, we can always use another!” a dancing man with a handkerchief shouted back.
“Ashidanza!” Roman danced off after the band. These guys’ll probably show me all around the city.
They walked down several streets, each as exciting as the next. There were so many people milling about, so many smells and sounds, so many lights strung up between balconies, and restaurants on every corner. He flashed his most heart-stopping grins at the people they passed, drawing blushes left and right. His eyes only lingered on a few, before he danced on.
The group of musicians passed by a diner that smelled particularly good, and a tall man with a strong jaw caught Roman’s eye. He spun around, strumming louder to catch the man’s attention all while eyeing him up and down. Tight curls, glowing skin, dark eyes? Looked a little tired, but handsome nonetheless. Yeah, that deserves a wink. But as soon as the man turned away from the table he was cleaning, he just rolled his eyes at Roman’s antics and walked back inside the diner. Roman simply shrugged and lost himself to the music.
The group continued for a few blocks until they found a fairly empty road and started to really play off each other. Now this is what I signed up for. Roman cheered and whooped along with the others, and slowly a crowd formed.
It’d already been a few hours since he’d seen Remus but… what’s a few minutes longer?
“Order up!” Virgil held back a grimace at Buford’s gruff voice and the dinging of the bell. He turned to walk towards the back counter with his tray and pushed imaginary flyaways away from his forehead.
“Another coffee over here, Cher!” The man at a nearby table called.
“Gotcha, Eddie.” Virgil internally sighed and poured the coffee into the cup, eyeing Buford every once in a while to make sure he wasn’t gonna start slamming the bell again.
He threw out a quick “Mornin’ Georgia” while placing a woman’s plate down.
“Hey, how you doin’ Virgil?” another voice called.
Virgil finally looked up to find a whole group of people sitting around a table, and hoisted the coffee pitcher off his tray to serve them. “Hey y’all.”
Georgia grabbed the mug he just filled for her. “We’re all goin’ out dancin’ tonight, care to join us?”
There were some words of assent amongst the group, but Virgil just protested, “You know I don’t dance. Besides, I’m-” he handed a napkin to a dirty four year old he wouldn’t have even come near if it wasn’t his job. “Need a napkin? I’m gonna work a double shift tonight.” Virgil strode over to a well-dressed man putting a napkin around his collar. “Here’s your hotcakes.” He folded his empty tray to his side and turned back to Georgia’s group. “I’m just really busy right now-”
“Again?” Georgia interrupted. “All you ever do is work.” She looked so disappointed Virgil almost felt bad. Almost.
Buford’s bell dinged. “Order up!”
“Maybe next time,” Virgil called over his shoulder, knowing full well it was a lie. He thought he might’ve heard someone say “I told y’all he wouldn’t come.” But that was probably just his imagination.
Buford cut him out of his thoughts, “You daydreaming ‘bout that damn restaurant again?”
Virgil deadpanned. “Buford. Your eggs are burning.”
He scrambled to get them off the griddle, but kept going off on Virgil. “You ain’t never gonna get enough for the down payment.”
“I’m gettin’ close,” the waiter scowled indignantly.
“Yeah? How close?” Buford was just mocking him now.
Virgil pushed down his frustration to demand, “Where are my flapjacks?”
The chef didn’t seem to notice Virgil’s impending anger, just laughing out, “You got about as much chance of getting that restaurant as I do of winning the Kentucky Derby!” Virgil’s lip curled into a snarl, but Buford kept going. “Saddle me up, y’all! It’s post time! Giddyup!” Virgil heard the worst trumpet imitation he’d ever had the displeasure to witness coming from behind him as he stormed off with the food piled on his tray. Just ignore him. Just… just ignore them. You’re getting there.
The bell dinged and Virgil looked up to welcome the customer, brightening a little when he saw who it was. Thank god. An easy customer. “Morning, Mr. La Bouff.”
“Morning, Virgil,” Eli rumbled as he pulled the chair out from his usual table and opened the morning paper.
Virgil placed the eggs and flapjacks on an old woman’s table. “Congratulations on being voted King of the Mardi Gras parade.”
“Caught me completely by surprise! For the fifth year in a row,” Eli joked. Virgil smiled good-naturedly at Mr. La Bouff’s hearty laugh. “Now, how ‘bout I celebrate with some-”
“Beignets?” the waiter placed a plate in front of the large man. “Got a fresh batch waiting for you.”
“Well keep ‘em comin’ till I pass out,” Mr. La Bouff laughed gleefully.
Virgil had just given his most indulgent customer service smile and turned toward the kitchen when the door slammed open and left a blond boy with a light blue jacket and a cream waistcoat beaming in the doorway. He stood there for only a split second before jumping up to Virgil, shouting, “Vee!!! Virgil Virgil Virgil, did you hear the news??” He plopped down into the chair across from Mr. La Bouff to say “Tell him Daddy!!”
Mr. La Bouff slowly swallowed and held up his paper to show the front cover displaying a handsome man with loose curls and a dimpled smile. “Oh yes,” Eli started, “Prince Roman-”
“Prince Roman is coming to New Orleans!!” Patton interjected, giggling excitedly. “Isn’t he amazing?” His face got all dreamy before continuing, “Tell Vee what you did, Daddy!”
“Well, I invited-”
“Daddy invited the prince to our masquerade ball tonight!!” Pat jumped up excitedly, then seemed to realize he was making a scene and sat down to continue a little quieter, “Tell him what else you did!” Mr. La Bouff paused to look at Patton for a minute, expecting him to interject again, but Pat stayed silent. He looked to his daddy and beamed, “Go on.”
“And he’s staying-”
“He-” Pat started, but then caught himself, deciding to shove a beignet in his mouth instead.
“...And he’s staying in our house as my personal guest,” Eli finished proudly.
Patton nodded excitedly, and Virgil looked at them both with wide eyes. “Pat, that’s amazing! It’s a lot, but… amazing.” He walked back to the kitchen to grab another batch of beignets, and when he got back he placed the treats in front of them and rested his hand on Pat’s shoulder. “A little word of advice: My mama always said, ‘The quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.’”
“Don’t I know it,” Pat laughed, taking a big bite of his pastry before gasping, “Wait, that’s it! Virge, you are a genius!!” Virgil gave him a look of confusion from where he was placing dishes in the sink. “I’m gonna need about 500 of your beignets for the ball tonight!” Virgil looked up in alarm. 500?? Patton darted over to where his daddy was sitting and grabbed a large wad of cash from his wallet. “Will this about cover it?”
The waiter stood there speechless for a few moments before forcing himself to reach out to take the money Pat was shoving at him. “I- yeah. Yes, this- this should cover it just fine, Pat.” A rare smile slowly grew on his face and he looked up at the La Bouffs gratefully. “This- this is it... I’m actually getting my restaurant!”
Patton hugged Virgil tight and bounced him around, squealing, “It’s gonna be amazing Virge!” Suddenly, he let go, gasping, “I’d better get ready.” He grabbed his daddy and shoved him towards the door. “Tonight my prince is coming!!”
“Everything looks good to me, Mr. Fenner.” Virgil looked away from the building (his building!) as the man in question began to get up to haul the “For Sale” sign away. Another, much shorter man with the same nose and mustache walked by where Virgil stood. “.....And Mr. Fenner.”
“We’ll have all the paperwork ready to sign first thing after Mardi Gras,” the taller of the brothers announced.
“I’ll be at the La Bouff’s masquerade ball, how ‘bout I sign them then?” He wanted his ownership confirmed as soon as possible – there was no way something this good could actually be happening to him.
“You drive a hard bargain boy,” the shorter Fenner called from the car. “We’ll see ya there!”
Virgil finally let himself take a breath once the real estate agents drove off, and stood back to take in the view of what would be his restaurant. He felt truly hopeful for the first time in a long time. He was really gonna get his restaurant. Wow.
He was startled out of his reverie by a woman sneaking behind him to say, “Table for one please.”
Virge turned to see a woman with graying hair and deep smile lines holding out a beaten up pot with a bow tied around it. “Mama!”
“Here’s a little something to help you get started,” she smiled.
Virgil’s face went soft, a little nostalgic. “Dad’s gumbo pot…” He hesitantly reached out to take it from her.
“I know,” Eudora comforted, “I miss him too.” They both stood there for a moment before his mama urged, “Well now, hurry up and open the door!”
Virgil went and unlocked the doors, and as soon as they were wide enough to walk through, said wistfully, “Look at it mama... Doesn’t it just make you wanna cry?”
Eudora took in the cobwebbed rafters and the creaky walls. “Yes…”
Virge seemed to notice her skepticism, turning to look at her after placing the pot on a lone stool. “It’s a little rickety, it’ll definitely need some sprucing up to be safe, but can’t you see it? The maitre’d is gonna be right where you’re standing, and over there’s gonna be the gourmet kitchen.” Virgil gestured to the left end of the room. “And hanging from the ceiling, a crystal chandelier! I’ve been thinking about the weight of it to make sure it doesn’t fall down, and so long as it’s not too big, I can save on the structuring of it. Of course I won’t pinch pennies too much, I want it to be safe, but-”
“You certainly have this all figured out, don’t you,” his mama laughed. “I’m sure this place is gonna be wonderful baby. It’s just…”
Virgil looked at her nervously. “What?”
“It’s a shame you’re workin’ so hard. It’s all you do,” Eudora smiled gently.
“How can I let up now that I’m so close? I’ve gotta make sure all Dad’s work means something.” I’ve gotta make him proud.
“Virgil, your daddy might not have gotten his restaurant, but he had somethin’ better,” Eudora squeezed his arm gently. “He had love.” Virgil snorted lightly. “Laugh all you want baby, but that’s all I want for you. Pat’s got his own dreams of happily ever after.” Virge’s eyebrows scrunched. “I don’t want you to be lonely. I wanna see you dance off into happily ever after too.”
Virgil stepped away from her. “Mama, I don’t have the time right now. I’m so close. Maybe when I get up and running, but right now… it’s just not an option for me.”
Eudora sighed and patted Virgil’s hand. “Alright sweetheart. I trust you.”
Roman stood amongst a crowd of people, all dancing and cheering. The trumpeter blared his horn, and the rest of the band energetically played along, the whole atmosphere charged with the infectious energy. A short news boy danced along with Roman, trading moves back and forth and smiling wide. After a few trades, the prince stepped to the edge of the circle to let the boy have his moment. With the space to himself, the kid dropped into a split and popped right back up.
“Ashidanza!” Roman laughed, tilting his head to some swooning admirers and immediately spinning back into the fray.
“Ro!” a familiar voice called. Roman looked up and smiled brilliantly, having caught the eye of his black-clad brother. “There you are. I should’ve been following the shrieking earlier.”
“Excuse me?” Roman dramatically placed his hand on his chest. “That is the sound of joy.”
“Sure, and you’re a heartthrob.” Roman squawked indignantly as Remus shoved him away from the crowd. “Come on, I found a restaurant that sells frog legs!!”
“What?? Ew, no. I’m staying here,” Roman dug his feet in.
“But Rooooo, they have five different sauces!! Five!!!”
“Yeah, for frog legs!”
“You got to play your jazz,” Remus argued, “so now we’re gonna eat some goddamn frog legs.”
“But I haven’t gotten to show all of my moves yet!” Roman protested. “And I’ve almost gotten enough admirers to form a fan club!”
“We should leave then, so my roguish good looks and entrancing humor don’t steal their hearts.”
“You mean your worm of a mustache and your freakish flirting?” Roman teased.
Remus glared and opened his mouth to argue, when a smooth voice came from the wall behind them. “Gentlemen!” The twins spun around to find a tall, masked man with a hooked cane and a black hat leaning casually against the wall. “Enchanté. A tip of the hat from Dr. Côté.” Roman noted that he didn’t actually tip his hat. The man – Dr. Côté – pulled a business card out of seemingly nowhere and held it out to them. “How y’all doin’?”
Remus swiped the card away before Roman could even lift his hand. “’Tarot readings, charms, potions.’” Re’s eyes shone brighter with each word. “’Dreams made real.’”
Ok, now Roman’s attention was piqued.
Remus looked up with a wild grin on his face. “You can really do that stuff?”
“Well… normally I do it for a price but… I suspect I’m in the presence of some very important people,” Dr. Côté grinned charmingly, canines glinting. The twins’ heads whipped around to share a look.
“...What other things can you do?” Roman inquired.
Dr. Côté seemed to really notice Roman for the first time. “Why don’t we take a little trip to my office and I’ll show you.”
The twins gave each other a look. Then Remus jumped up, shouting, “Come on, let’s just go already!”
First thing Roman noticed was that the “office” was not an office. Honestly, it was more of an urban cave – a nook in an alleyway off a street that was more dirt than anything else. It was filled with all sorts of things Roman never imagined would make for desirable décor. There were herbs dangling from one corner, and large masks with strange markings hanging on almost every available surface. Roman was pretty sure he saw some bones in the corner. The rugs on the floor didn’t match each other at all, but all were made of what was once probably very expensive fabric. Now it was just musty, matted, and muddled. The furniture was limited to a small, circular table in the center of the room, sitting directly beneath a chandelier that gave off an orange light, which didn’t seem to help much in the way of seeing. Roman silently vowed not to go within three feet of any of these… decorations.
“WOAH, cool bones!” Remus, on the other hand, seemed to have no qualms.
“Don’t touch those!” Dr. Côté hissed. He took a deep breath and grinned, gesturing to the table Roman noticed earlier. “Why don’t you come have a seat?”
The men settled themselves around the table, Roman carefully examining his chair before sitting, just to make sure he wasn’t about to sit on anything… distasteful.
Then, Dr. Côté pulled a deck of cards seemingly out of nowhere. They didn’t seem particularly special, simply decorated with a symbol of a hand that had an eye in the center, but the voodoo man held them with reverence.
“Are you gonna do a card trick?” Remus snickered. Roman buried his smirk and elbowed his brother’s side. He did not want to make a magic man angry.
Dr. Côté simply looked up, though, giving an oily smile. “They’re tarot cards. I can tell you your past, your present… your future.” He gave a knowing look and fanned the cards out to the twins. “Go ahead. Take three.”
The princes reached out to the deck, holding their chosen cards close to their chest as if it were a card game.
The Shadow Man stared at them for a moment, as if expecting them to do something before prompting, “How ‘bout I take a look at those cards now?”
Roman grinned sheepishly and placed his cards on the table.
“Ah… now you, young man, are quite a prince,” Dr. Côté began. “A prince of fairy tales, really.” Roman thought he heard Remus huff beside him. “Your world is truly… perfect.” Something retreated inside Roman a little at the words, but he looked up when the Shadow Man asked, “But will it ever be anything else? Nothing is quite so disheartening as playing the same role all your life, huh? But when I look forward… I can see you’ll be more… very soon.”
The prince felt an anticipation swell inside him. Very soon.
Dr. Côté grinned down at Roman, then turned to Remus, peering at his cards. “Ah, yes. You’ve always been ambitious, hm?” Roman was shaken from his reverie and just barely kept from snorting. (Judging from the glare his brother aimed at him, he didn’t do a very good job.) Remus was ambitious if you considered chaotic enthusiasm to be ambition. But Dr. Côté just continued, “You could do more, be more, than they’d ever imagined. I know it. What are you going to do about it?”
Roman looked to Remus, and Remus looked down at his palms. A hand was outstretched for each of them to shake. “Well, boys?”
The world was still for a moment. And then the black-clad prince’s hand shot out and shook the voodoo man’s, the other prince soon following suit.
“Very nice.” Dr. Côté’s smile grew leering.
Then an orange smoke crept up Roman’s arm and into his mouth, and the world went dark.
A/N: Sorry, the ending came kinda fast 😅 I hope you enjoyed it anyway!! Please feel free to point out any mistakes you see, and keysmashes are VERY appreciated :D
Taglist: @midnightstorm-underthe-moon @meowthefluffy
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Losers Club Plus One Part 10
A Richie Tozier x daughter!reader series
Read the previous part here or go here for the full series masterlist.
A/N: Hi there! It’s been a while, I know, and I’m truly sorry! There has been so much going on in my life and I simply lost my motivation to write. However, thanks to a very dear person, I have regained said motivation and I am here to give y’all some content! The next part is already being worked on and I hope to publish it very soon!
Anyway, this is about 3k words long. I hope you enjoy!
“Bill, we’re at the library. Where are you?” Mike asked the second Bill answered his phone. The incomplete Losers Club Plus One was gathered around him, trying to listen in on what they were talking about. To say that they were worried was an understatement. But the fact that Bill had picked up was relieving, to say the least. It meant that he was still with them. It meant that IT hadn’t gotten to him. It meant that he was more or less safe. It meant that Bill was still alive and not doing anything too stupid.
“IT took a-a little k-k-kid- IT k-killed a little k-kid right in fucking front of me.” Bill sounded distraught, heartbroken. He had been crying, probably still was crying. Y/N, who was close enough to Mike to listen in on the conversation, especially felt a strong urge in her to just hug the man and tell him that it wasn’t his fault. Because it really wasn’t. But Bill thought differently. It was his fault that Georgie was taken by IT, Georgie had been taken because he hadn’t been there. And Dean, the little kid, had been killed because Bill hadn’t been fast enough. It was Bill’s fault, in his mind, and it would always be.
“No, no, no, no, no,” Mike jumped out of his seat. He had known Bill when he was a kid, he knew that Bill often made stupid decisions, and Mike was sure that Bill’s want to protect the Losers from IT was kicking in just then. If there was one thing each of them remembered about Bill, it was his unintentional heroism as he was trying to protect his friends.
“Look, just come back to the library, we can talk about the plan-“
“I’m gonna go kill IT. I don’t want any of you to get near IT. I’m gonna kill IT.” Bill said through gritted tears before hanging up, falling into a quick jog towards Silver. It was only a matter of seconds until he and Silver were fast enough to beat the devil. And the devil, they would beat.
“He’s gonna fight IT alone. Alone!” Mike said, almost as though he was concluding the very short call he and Bill just had. Mike was scared. Not only for Bill who was driven to do the stupidest things, all by Pennywise, but he was also scared for the rest of his friends. The people who had once gone down the drain with him, explored the sewers with him, fought IT with him. But most importantly, he felt scared for the new generation. Because if they failed now, if the ritual didn’t work and all of them were to end up dead, what hope did the children have left? IT would continue to attack children, eat children, tear families apart.
“What?” Richie mumbled more to himself than anyone else. And, almost as though he had the same train of thought as Mike, he looked at his daughter. The girl he had watched as she grew up and had taken care of nearly every day of her life. He felt his heart drop to the pit of his stomach as he thought of the things IT would do should he and his friends fail to kill IT once and for all. Or, should she be able to escape Derry, the things she would have to live through as she got back home to LA. Would she be able to provide for herself? Who could she go to once he was gone? How would she handle all the paperwork? And oh, all those moments ahead of her that he was going to miss. Graduations, relationships, first jobs, first travels, all the accomplishments and big events in her life that he would miss. The moments that would fill her with pride but also shatter her heart if he wasn’t there.
Y/N looked up at Richie. Her mind was blank with pure worry. She hadn’t thought further than what would happen to Bill just yet, but maybe it was for the better. Maybe it was better that she didn’t worry her head with too many consequences and the horrors of IT, the true horrors of IT that she had yet to face.
“It’s- it’s about the group. The ritual doesn’t work without the group. Doing it together was why it worked.” Mike’s fear was growing, steadily consuming him. Like a shadow covering the little light of hope, he had left after noticing that the remainder of his friends had come to the library. He had felt so hopeful when he saw all of their faces, despite the horrid circumstances, in the library, knowing that they had gotten their tokens, knowing that they would face IT with him. He had trusted Bill to come back as well, he knew that Big Bill was known to stick to his friends. Leaving them to fend for themselves was not like Bill. Not at all. This wasn’t Big Bill talking, this was Bill, the author with the childhood trauma, talking. The man who had no idea how to properly end a book. They needed to show him how it’s done.
Y/N was gnawing at her thumb. It was sore and it stung a little, but it provided her comfort. Not much, but every single bit of comfort was more than welcome. Eddie saw, and pushed her arm down, hoping it would pull her out of her thoughts and get her to stop hurting herself. A million arguments as to why she shouldn’t do that, shouldn’t nibble at her nails when she was nervous, ran through his mind, he was ready to spill them out, but he bit his tongue. Y/N surely didn’t need that right now. She needed someone to take care of her. She needed her father.
With anxious eyes, Eddie searched for Richie.
Richie, lost in his thoughts and fears, wasn’t one to quickly notice. He didn’t even properly listen in on what the Losers were talking about. He heard Ben speak. Voice raspy, heavy with worry. Then Bev. Her voice was airy, light like she didn’t want anyone to hear her words because she didn’t want them to be true.
Richie looked up. He noticed that he hadn’t heard either of his loves speak up in a while. His gaze landed on Eddie immediately.
The man had slung one arm very awkwardly around his daughter, almost like Eddie wasn’t sure of his role in that particular moment, nor did he seem very confident with it. Both Eddie and Y/N were looking at Richie with raised brows and huge eyes. They resembled a pair of helpless puppies in a way.
With a few quick strides, Richie reached the pair and pulled his little girl close to him. Y/N leaned against her father. It felt strangely foreign and yet so natural to be so close to him. Her whole body seemed to still be a little confused with what was going on, how to feel about Richie, how to act around him. But Y/N knew him. And she knew his comfort. Richie was something to hold on to. Someone who had always been there. Father or not, she needed to feel at home. And that was exactly what Richie was.
“Oh, we’re not going to like this, are we?” Eddie asked, making Richie and Y/N listen in on the conversation around them again.
Y/N looked at the group. Everyone suddenly seemed much tenser. Arms crossed, faces cold, almost sorrowful looks in their eyes. Sighing, and then-
“Fuck.” Y/N whispered as something clicked in her mind. Shit was about to go down.
Derry had turned dark. Very dark. But not only the sky had lost its light, the occasional lightning on the horizon being an exception, but the town itself seemed to change. It was like the town had become one of ghosts. Barely a soul left a trace. Very few windows were lit. It was like time had stopped around Derry and no one was alive, or at least truly waking anymore. Everyone except for the Losers Club Plus One.
Y/N found herself feeling more and more like she was asleep. She couldn’t say it had been since arriving in town. Coming to Derry was strange. It was like she had started reading a book from the middle. She had a very small knowledge of what has been happening and tiny snippets of explanations were thrown her way, but nothing really. It just wasn’t enough. And the more she lost herself in the book, the twisted storylines and the even more confusing actions of the characters, the more she felt like nothing was real. Like whatever was happening wasn’t really happening and she had actually fallen asleep while reading a book.
But every book also had an ending. And not all of them were happy endings.
“Whatcha thinkin’ about, squirt?” Richie broke the silence in the car. Richie and Y/N were riding together, just like Mike and Ben and Bev and Eddie. All of the pairs were ready to beat silver. Desperate to beat silver.
“Don’t know… Just… This place, I guess. It’s strange, isn’t it?” Y/N looked at her father. His face, every now and then illuminated by the scarce light of the streetlights all around Derry, seemed so young, yet he didn’t act like he usually did. Even Richie ‘Trashmouth’ Tozier seemed to be intimidated by the situation he found himself in.
“It is. And I never missed it.”
“You couldn’t even remember it until Mike called.”
“Because I didn’t want to.”
“So you didn’t want to remember Eddie either?” Y/N smirked.
“Damn you, squirt. Sometimes I really wish your mom would have swallowed.”
“Do you think things will change when we get home? Like between us?” Y/N asked curiously. But there was a sliver of hurt in her voice. Richie sighed.
“I don’t think anything is going to change unless we make a change. If you don’t want things to change between us, they don’t have to. We can act like Derry never happened when we get home. We can forget about all of this.”
It was strange hearing Richie speak all wise and serious. But it felt nice. It felt nice knowing that he took Y/N and her worries seriously and didn’t just flip them off as irrelevant.
“I don’t think I want to forget.” Y/N mumbled more to herself than to her father.
Richie’s car caught up with the other two. He hadn’t noticed how far they had fallen behind until he noticed that he could barely see the other cars before them. That’s when he sped. And it felt nice. It felt like he finally regained at least a little control over something. The last time he felt so powerless and so small compared to the world was when he entered the house on Neibolt Street for the first time. When he saw how Eddie got hurt. When he tried to reposition Eddie’s broken arm and was trapped in the same room as IT.
When the group split up for the first time.
When everything somehow shifted. And they were the world’s oldest 13-year olds.
“I can see Bill!” Y/N exclaimed, sitting up straight in her car seat, hand shooting to the seat belt buckle.
“Fuck.” Richie said as he watched Bill pushing a bike away. Was that silver? Richie was sure that he somehow had gotten his trusted bike back. How exactly, Richie didn’t know. Things had a way of coming back in Derry. But it wasn’t important. What was important was getting back together.
“Bill!” Beverly yelled, effectively stopping Bill. He turned to look at her just as he was about to enter the house.
Y/N felt like she was trapped inside a bad horror movie. The house she was facing was dark, the wood it was made of looked like it defied the laws of nature as it still stood. Y/N felt like she should feel silly, she should not be able to take this house seriously. It was the definition of a bad idea, but somehow, she felt compelled to show respect. Something about it felt intimidatingly evil. She knew the house would be no good, but she didn’t expect the place they would fight IT in to be looking as shabby yet scary.
“No!” Bill yelled back as he watched the group step closer to him and the building. They all were there. Bev, Mike, Ben, Eddie, Richie, even Y/N. Y/N, who was just a little older than they were when they first encountered IT.
Bill felt tears stinging in his eyes. He didn’t want to risk his friends’ lives again. And he for sure didn’t want to be the reason another kid had to go through what he and his friends did. Or – worst of all – he didn’t want to risk seeing another kid die because of him.
“N-no, you guys, no. I st-st-started all this. I-It’s m-my fault that y-you’re all here. Th-this curse, this fucking thing- It’s inside you all. It’s s-started growing the day I m-m-made you all go down to the barrens. Bec-cause all I cared about was finding G-Georgie. Now I’m gonna go in there, I don’t know what’s gonna happen, but I c-can’t ask you to d-do this.” Bill sounded distraught.
Y/N, subliminally, wrapped her arms around her father’s right arm. Richie acknowledged it, pulling her a little closer, but remained silent as they watched Bill fall apart with the pent-up guilt. The guilt he had been living with, sometimes more and sometimes less consciously, over the past 28 years.
Bill made eye contact with Y/N. He looked at her and saw so much potential in her. So much life, so much she had yet to give the world. And he felt sorry that she was there. He felt sorry for the pain she had endured over the past hours. Physically and mentally. Bill felt sorry for the wounds and the scars that, ultimately, he was to blame for. Because none of this would have happened if he had listened to his father. If he had stopped looking for Georgie. Or better yet, if he never acted sick to avoid playing with Georgie.
Had Bill not been so selfish, Georgie would still be alive.
“But you’re not asking us.” Y/N told Bill. “We’re here because we want to be. All of us could have left, we are free to go. But we didn’t.”
Bill sighed, running a hand through his hair to push it back. It felt sweaty, his whole head felt heated and the slight breeze of evening air felt nice. Relieving.
Richie looked funnily at his daughter. A part of him was scared she might tell the story of how they almost left if it wasn’t for Stan the man. Another part of him, however, registered that she wanted to be there. Be there, at Neibolt, with them. And it scared him to death. Nausea washed over him again and Richie had a hard time not showing just that.
Beverly picked up something from the ground. Something long and rusty. To all the Losers, it seemed to make sense, seemed to be a missing piece from a puzzle. Only Y/N watched on, visibly confused.
“Well, we’re not asking you either,” Beverly replied.
“We didn’t do this alone then, Bill. So, we’re not gonna do this alone now.” Mike added.
“Losers stick together.” Ben.
A pregnant pause. The air was thick with tension as the Losers made it clear that Big Bill wouldn’t go in there on his own. Like they had proven to one another once before. When they were nothing more than a mismatched group of kids that fit together perfectly.
The only sounds outside the house were crickets chirping in the night, an occasional roll of thunder and the wind lightly blowing through the grass. No one dared to speak up. No one dared to say another word. But not all words had been spoken yet. Each Loser was just waiting for the next move. The words that would decide how they were to proceed.
“So, does somebody wanna say something?” Eddie broke the silence. And with that, decisions were made. The Losers would, once more, stick together.
“Richie said it b-b-best when we were here last.” Bill replied, looking at Richie expectantly. Richie now looked taken aback. He couldn’t remember ever saying the right thing at the right moment. Even Y/N looked at her father, a hint of curiosity on her otherwise confused face.
“I did?” Richie asked, still not remembering. He felt the Losers’ eyes on him, all of them waiting to hear the familiar words again. Richie thought for a moment.
“I don’t wanna die?” he asked. His daughter loosened her grip on him and shrugged a little.
“Very reasonable.” She mumbled to herself.
“Not that.” Bill’s voice sounded hoarse. A few moments of silence as Richie thought again, trying to remember what he said that day.
“You’re lucky we’re not measuring dicks?” The Losers looked at Richie, unimpressed. Y/N, however, had to fight back her giggle, but a tiny snort escaped the girl. She couldn’t hold herself back at the unexpected and yet so typical statement from the man she grew up with.
“No…” The Trashmouth whispered to himself as his friends failed to answer. The group seemed to ease up a little despite the situation they found themselves in.
“Let’s kill this fucking clown?” Bill grinned at that. The Trashmouth had found his words.
“Let’s kill this fucking clown!” Richie repeated, this time more eager. With that, the group found their spirit. The Losers Club was back and ready to kill a bitch. With that, the Losers entered the house that they knew was potentially the last place they would visit.
Taglist (let me know if you want to be tagged in the upcoming parts!):
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So, I have many thoughts about the finale ending that I haven’t even sorted out my feelings about yet BUT posts on here have helped me see the positives in the ending...Yes I’m still bothered by some of the beach conversation and the TIMING of Steve’s temporary leave and the fact of what we see last on the screen despite knowing Steve will of course return, but I’m going to put that aside to focus on OMG WE JUST GOT AN ALMOST WHOLE EPISODE STRAIGHT FROM A FANFIC THAT I ABSOLUTELY LOVED. I know much of this has been discussed so I apologize if it’s repetitive, but a bunch of my favorite McDanno fanfiction tropes just actually happened in canon and I just...still can’t believe we actually got all of it? So I wanted to make my own list, and feel free to add on or expand or share your thoughts about any of these!! Let’s take stock (warning, this is long!):
-Danny calling Steve in distress, Steve immediately leaving his important cipher mystery meeting to get to him. Can already see Steve starting to freak out before the gunshots ring out when he looks out the window and stutters.
-Gunshots ringing out OVER THE LINE, and Steve very obviously starting to panic. Drives like a maniac (still confused on how going INTO oncoming traffic was supposed to help but I digress). Steve yelling Danny’s name repeatedly desperate to hear his voice
-arriving at a burning camaro, screaming Danny’s name (fun tip: play this bit in slow motion!), and STICKING HIS ARM IN A BURNING CAR/catching himself on fire when he thinks Danny could be inside
-You can hear the creeping desperation/emotion in Steve’s voice as he’s giving orders to HPD (“Detective Danny Williams-MY PARTNER-you know who he is”)
-Steve actually mobilizing the whole island to find his Danno. (Again, something I never really expected to see outside of a fanfic). “I want every person on this island with a badge looking for Danny Williams”
-Steve’s face when he walks into HQ with Cole and the tears in his eyes when Tani is showing him the kidnapping footage
-Just the whole “An enemy of Steve’s uses Danny to get to him”!!!! I always wanted it but never expected it so explicitly
-“I HAVE THE PERSON YOU CARE ABOUT MOST IN THE WORLD.” GUYS—IT DOESNT MATTER WHATEVER ELSE HAPPENS BECAUSE THIS IS CANON BABY. We knew it, everybody knows it, but now it’s confirmed. When rewatching the series, remember this<3 also part of me is like, will all the other criminals hear about this and try to do the same when Steve comes back since Steve put up no fight in giving in to Dayui Mei’s demands? Isthiswhyheleftsoquickly.
-video footage of Danny strung up and bloodied...fanfic come to life. Steve’s face when he sees this....
-Steve looking like he’s gonna simultaneously collapse, panic, and murder someone when Dayiu Mei is asking him what he will do
-Steve not hesitating to give into Mrs. Wo Fat’s demands bc any risk is too risky when Danno is involved
-The team trying to get Steve to give a flying fart about the cipher when Danny’s life is on the line and Steve still not giving a flying fart.
-Steve finding Danny lying helpless on the floor. His whispered “Danny” when he first sees him (you have to listen close for this because the dramatic background music is super loud at this point).
-His little stream of soft, comforting reassurances as he’s getting Danno to the car. Danny holding onto him
-CRADLING BLOODIED, STRUGGLING TO-BREATHE-DANNO TO HIS CHEST IN HIS ARMS. My mom, who doesn’t ship McDanno romantically but loves their friendship, when this happened: “whoa! That’s a little much (gay), don’t you think?” Hehe, no, it’s perfect.
-More tears from Steve as he’s holding Danny on the way to the hospital.
-Steve’s comforting reassurances and refusing to let go of Danny on the gurney until he’s absolutely forced to. DANNY REACHING FOR HIM, Steve’s reassuring pat. Steve’s face as he looks down at him fearing how dire this is.
-Steve’s face as he collapses against the wall when they roll Danny through the double doors, closing his eyes, trying to calm his breathing as he tries to avoid thinking about the unthinkable.
-STEVE BARGAINING WITH GOD FOR DANNY’S LIFE. After not seeing him pray before I don’t think? His face...that emotion...omg. He very obviously can’t imagine living in a world without Danny in it, and would rather die than do so.
-Side note: Imo, Steve seemed closed off to the team—physically and emotionally—when he wasn’t sure Danny would make it. Almost as if we got a glimpse of the Steve he’d be without his Danno, if that makes sense. Notice how he’s turned away from them in the waiting room/chapel, how he didn’t even look at them when Danny was wheeled away through the double doors. How he didn’t give an eff about the cipher they were trying to get him to care about. Not that he doesn’t have beautiful Ohana bonds with the other team members because of course he does, but...it’s just different with Danny and I don’t know how he would’ve made it through this one, especially considering his already struggling state at the time. I think we kind of saw a glimpse of that, is my point. They both helped each other grow since first meeting, and it was almost like that part Danny helped bring out in Steve went away with Danny when Steve thought he might lose him. If that makes sense? More on this later?
-Steve holding unconscious Danny’s hand❤️❤️❤️ Closing his eyes and letting out a deep breath right after taking his hand (anyone want to gif this moment? ;) )-side camera view of this moment so was hard to see but it’s there. Seeming to look at the machines for reassurances that Danny is alive, healthy. Scanning him over and likely feeling guilty for the marks on his body. Holding his head in his hands by Danny’s bedside.
-the whole conversation when Danny wakes up! Danny, probably a little doped up, all sweet and reassuring and cuddly and funny. “Why’d you stop holding my hand?” and Steve immediately taking his hand back and rubbing his forearm I think (this was out of the camera angle tho so idk for sure). Steve’s voice tinged with so much emotion when he says “Buddy.” And, Steve being emotionally vulnerable/open again bc his Danno is back!! This whole scene I just fhdisksml.
-Steve’s smiling and squeezing and wrapping his arms around Danno like an octopus when he hugs him (I wish we had some additional slightly different camera angles of this hug-as was shown in the promo for example-but I digress again). Danny closing his eyes for a moment, seeming to savor it. Steve getting Danny to look him in the eyes to tell him he loves him. To me, this scene had a very “see you again soon” rather than “goodbye” vibe even though I wish there were parts of the dialogue that were different.
-Steve slowing down, looking unsure, and turning back to look at Danny before he leaves. Anyone wanna analyze this? Maybe just a “I know I need to do this so I can come back and be the person I need to be for both of us but fuqqit imma miss you while I’m gone” or “I need to leave so no one can use/hurt him to get to me again right now.” Or just “hey maybe this isn’t the most genius plan.” Idk, but I would LOVE to hear Scott and Alex’s take on this scene. Also they filmed this scene before the show was ended by CBS so who knows how that factored into it. If they thought there would be a possible reunion later?
-Telling Eddie to look after Danno, which definitely means Danny will be keeping his house/bed warm til his hubby returns.
-fleeting thought I have that I might expore later: possible acting choices in the difference in hand holding/smiles between with Danny vs. Catherine?Notthepointofthispostthosoweskipfornow
-I might post thoughts on other things later but I mainly just wanted to compile this list of straight-out-of-fanfic moments that 100% confirms Danny IS the most important person in Steve’s life and OF COURSE he will return and text/call him everyday til then. Regardless of the end, which is really so open that we can do so many beautiful things with now, most of the episode served as a beautiful culmination of what Steve and Danny have come to mean to each other throughout the last 10 years, and we can rest peaceful and happy in that. ❤️ (this is also me still trying to convince myself to be okay with the way things were left on the beach/the conversation, etc)
I would love to hear y’all’s thoughts about any of this!! if you made it this far—I apologize again for the length but lovey boys call for lovey rambles
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Ok so I’m probably way off… but when Mr. Sweet is trying to send Eddie home after he leaked the tape of him dancing he says: “You know I always suspected that this place might bring out the worst in you” and like y’all! Is this an Osirian hint?!?
We can assume from Eric Sweet’s participation in the child sacrificing cult that he would fear anyone trying to protect the “chosen one” from them. Also the fact that Rufus Zeno “the betrayer” was the last Osirian probably had him worried about how Eddie would turn out if his powers were activated. Not that he should get a say when he gave up his parental rights, and abandoned his family. Plus the fact that he is just now reaching out to his son for the first time now that he is no longer immortal and is clearly getting on in years… very suspicious.
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all i want (reddie)
Summary: Eddie is dying. He knows he’s dying. He can’t die without telling Richie the truth. If it’s the very last thing he does, Eddie will make sure that Richie knows how he feels about him.
Word Count: 3.2k
Warnings: a homophobic slur, cussing, near death
A/N: y’all are probably gonna see a shit ton of these fics around bc we’re dramatic hoes who need to see our boy live and get the ending that he deserves. this is not beta’d, but the spirit hit me and i had to write it. hope y’all enjoy!
AO3 link: here
“I fucked your mom..”
Eddie let out a choked laugh before rather quickly easing off of it, not enjoying the extra dose of pain his body received from moving even a little bit. At least the severe pain he’d been feeling was starting to numb.
Fuck. That’s not what I meant to say.
There was so much he wanted to say.
Eddie had pondered death before. Who didn’t? He had faced it several times, in fact. But it was real, now. Eddie knew that he was dying. He was running out of time.
There was still so much he had to say.
Eddie could hear them talking. He watched them make a run for it so that they could continue the fight. But not Richie. Richie stayed right next to him. Richie.
A small smile came onto Eddie’s face as he gripped Richie’s jacket tightly, not even remotely thinking about ever letting go of it. “..h-hey, Rich...?”
“Shh.. save your energy, Eddie. I’m getting you out of here as soon as I can. But until then, shut the hell up.” Richie whispered as he held onto Eddie tightly, and Eddie watched as Richie’s eyes flickered back and forth between him and the horror that their friends were trying to overcome.
Eddie loved that about Richie. That trashmouth idiot might always talk a lot of shit, but he cared. He cared about them. Richie cared about him.
For so long, Eddie had tried to deny it. Even when he left and his memories became repressed, Eddie had always known that something had been missing. He’d known that his marriage with Myra was safe, but it wasn’t what he wanted.
Coming back home and seeing that goofy grin and huge bifocals made him remember.
Now he was at death’s door and Eddie knew it was now or never. If he didn’t say it now, he would never get the chance to. He had already lost that opportunity once.
“No.” Eddie stared over the side of Richie’s face in confusion, shakily reaching one of his hands up to cup Richie’s cheek that was wet. Richie was crying. “You’re not leaving me, alright? Whatever you have to say, just don’t. You can tell me once we get out of here.”
There was something in Richie’s tone. It took Eddie a second, but he was quick to pick up on it. It was desperation. Richie was scared. Richie didn’t want to face what was happening.
Eddie could feel his vision fading in and out, just wanting to close his eyes. But they were almost there. Eddie could feel it.
He also had something to say before that. He had to say it.
“Richie--” He could see Richie gearing up to interrupt him again, a fire in his eyes, but Eddie rushed to get it out before that could happen. “I love you..”
He watched as Richie froze momentarily, any berating dying in his throat. Eddie didn’t care what happened after this. He just needed Richie to know the truth before he left the world. If he died, if they all died, he just wanted Richie to know how he really felt about him. His best friend. The boy who made terrible mom jokes and baited Eddie like no other. The boy who never shut up but made him laugh all the time. The boy who didn’t want to share the hammock when his ten minutes was up.
Now they were adults, but Eddie didn’t feel any differently. Richie was the same person he had loved all that time ago.
“H-hey, what’d I tell you? No more bombshells until I get you out of here. Give a guy a ch-chance to stop shitting his pants before--” Richie choked up, unable to finish, but all Eddie could do was smile fondly at him―the same person he’d fell in love with.
Eddie’s eyes fluttered closed, his thumb softly stroking over the flesh of Richie’s cheek and feeling hot tears continuously flowing. “Please open your eyes, Eds. We--we’re almost there. You have to wait for me to say it back.”
"Don’t... call me Eds...” He barely got out through a chuckled whisper. Eddie couldn’t hold on any longer. He felt drained and he just wanted to sleep. So he did.
Lights. That was the first thing. Lights.
Then there was noise. It sounded muffled, but it was there. The muffling noises slowly began to turn into ringing, and then the ringing shifted into voices.
After that? That was when sensation started to return. There was a tingling sensation in both his arms and legs and Eddie felt like it was impossible to move. Along with that, it felt like his whole entire chest was burning and he wanted that to stop. Except, it was as if he were in a fog; A half-sleep, half-awake state.
But then there was a gasp that made his muscles twitch with a jolt of fear. That had been much louder than the voices he heard in the background. It wasn’t until he heard a familiar voice practically screaming for a doctor that Eddie realized something.
He wasn’t dead.
Blearily, Eddie began to blink his eyes open slowly and drowsily, everything a blur to his vision. He wasn’t all the way there yet. All he knew was that he wasn’t dead and that Richie was there.
That was enough comfort for Eddie to give in to the wave of exhaustion that kept trying to pull him back under.
This second time around was a lot more unpleasant.
Where before he had been slowly trying to adjust to becoming conscious once again, this time had no compulsion or the sympathy to make his awakening less harsh.
Eddie could feel something in his mouth and throat that was making it difficult to breathe and immediately, he reached his left arm up to try and pull out the offending device, eyes still closed and the action more subconscious than anything else.
But a hand grabbed onto his and stopped him, easily lowering his hand back down to the bed. “Hey, relax. Open your eyes, Eds.”
It was like that was all he needed and after blinking a few times, Eddie was finally seeing.
There Richie was, sitting right on the bed next to him and looking like he hadn’t seen a shower in weeks.
Eddie tried to grumble something, but the tube prevented him from speaking and again, he attempted to reach up to dislodge it, but Richie was still holding onto his hand and keeping him from doing so.
“Someone is coming right now.” He heard a female’s voice and turned his head slowly to see Beverly standing at the door, her arms crossed over her chest and a look of relief on her face.
Now that he was starting to come to even more, he could see that the others were there too, every pair of eyes trained on him. It didn’t take Eddie long to figure out they were at the hospital, but now he had to recall how he got there in the first place.
Eddie could feel a small dread building up in his stomach, and it was like that reaction was enough to remind him of the fact that he was injured, feeling a pang in his lower shoulder that started to throb the faster his heart began to beat.
“Eddie, breathe.” His eyes flickered right back over to Richie again, watching tears stream down Richie’s face. “It’s okay. You’re okay. We did it.”
We did it.
Before he could even try to process it, they weren’t alone anymore.
Hours later, after the assisting tube removal, multiple test, and pain-killer induced sleeping, Eddie was finally coming to. This time, he was alert.
He looked around the dark hospital room and his friends were no longer there, but there was one person there in the chair besides his bed, body draped over and face pushed into Eddie’s bed.
A fond smile came onto Eddie’s lips and his hand moved to rest against the top of Richie’s head, gently running fingers through his hair. There was so many questions Eddie had, but he didn’t think he could voice any of them. He was just so relieved. He was relieved that he wasn’t dead; Relieved that he saw the others were okay; Relieved that Richie was here.
It was foggy, but Eddie remembered. He remembered entering Neibolt. He remembered going to the well. He remembered entering its lair deep in the ground. He remembered the horror and he remembered saving Richie, only to feel the worst pain he had ever felt in his lower right shoulder―it felt like he had completely lost that part of his torso.
Eddie’s gaze hesitantly drifted over to his right side and he saw a huge white bandage running down his arm, a sling holding it up. The discomfort he felt throbbing there, pain muted by the opioids, let him know that he hadn’t lost that side like he had been so sure he had.
Swallowing hard, he turned to look back at Richie and felt a shock run through his system when his eyes met with a pair of gorgeous blue ones.
“You’re awake.” They both said at the same time.
Richie snorted and started to sit up, and Eddie placed his now-free hand into the bedding, pushing so that he could sit up as well. He winced at the wave of pain the sudden movement created, hissing low.
“Hey, take it easy.” Richie said, his tone laced with concern as he stood and helped Eddie to sit up against propped-up pillows. Eddie threw Richie a fleeting, but thankful smile as he settled again. “You’re acting like you didn’t get skewered by a demonic spider clown.”
Eddie glared at Richie playfully, but his expression immediately softened when he looked over Richie again. Richie looked like he hadn’t slept in days and despite the joking, he could tell that his best friend was still shaken up.
“It’s okay, Rich.. we did it, right..?” Eddie’s voice was a little rough and quiet from disuse, but he knew that Richie could hear him.
Richie let out a soft sigh as he sat on the edge of Eddie’s bed, and Eddie couldn’t help the warmth that shot up his spine when Richie was grabbing onto his hand. “Yeah, we.. it’s dead. For good, I think.”
Silence soon settled between them and Eddie suddenly remembered his confession just before he caved into unconsciousness, causing a bright red blush to take over his face and for the hand Richie was still holding onto to feel like it was on fire.
He should probably say something.
Eddie stopped short when he heard a quiet sniffle, and his gaze lifted from their hands to look at Richie who was crying again. He could feel his heart break a little at the sight, confused as to why Richie was crying if it was finally over.
He didn’t have to wait long for an answer.
“Don’t do that to me again.” It was whispered, but Eddie could hear a pin drop in the silence of the room. It was like the air was vacuumed so that he and Richie could talk without any interruption or overhearing. “You... you didn’t wait for me to say that I love you too.”
Eddie could feel his face becoming hot again, the heat rushing through his body and making him shudder involuntarily as tears began to develop in his eyes. Richie loved him too. “Richie...”
“No, Eddie. They thought you died, that you would die if you weren’t already dead, but I didn’t care. We carried you because I knew.. I didn’t know, but I just didn’t fucking care. I needed you to be okay and for fucks sake, if you weren’t, I wasn’t gonna leave you down there. Eddie, just let me―I have always been in love with you, okay? Ever since we were stupid fucking teenagers. I wanted to tell you back then. I did. But.. I was so fucking scared. I couldn’t lose you. I would rather have you in my life than not at all. We all know how they treated fags, right? I should have known you would never be like that.”
There was an intensity in Richie’s voice that had Eddie in awe, unable to blink or speak. Richie had loved him this entire time? “Even... even when I forgot, there was always something missing. Not just our childhoods or friendships or family, but you, Eddie. I might not have been able to name it, but fuck, it’s always been you, Eddie.”
Richie’s voice grew weak, probably from trying not to sob, and Eddie knew he needed a moment. Gently, he broke his hand from Richie’s grasp and moved it to cup Richie’s cheek instead, giving him a watery smile as tears silently streamed down Eddie’s face as well.
“You know, Richie.. I would watch your comedy specials sometimes. I.. of course, I couldn’t remember you. But I would always laugh. I would sit there thinking ‘god, this idiot reminds me of someone who I grew up with’. I was always on the cusp. Always so fucking wistful whenever I watched those specials.
“S-so... y’know.. you weren’t the only one missing something. It took me coming back here to realize that I married someone who was exactly like my mom.” Eddie made a face of distaste, gently slapping at Richie’s shoulder when he laughed at the revelation. “Fuck off, alright? It’s fucked up, I know. But Myra was safety, Rich. I.. I didn’t have to think about the way I felt about other men when I had her constantly reminding me that I had to be good.
“I thought I was gonna die down there, Richie. I knew that if I died, if we all died, that I needed you to know the truth of how I felt about you. You made me feel like it was okay to be myself. You.. you just make me feel okay, Richie―”
Eddie cut off short when he suddenly felt a warm pair of lips pressing to his and he was already melting, eyes wide and body shaking from it.
It was too quick. The kiss was only for a moment and Eddie couldn’t stop the soft whine he let out when Richie pulled away before he could kiss him back.
His hand shot up, fingers brushing over his lips as he stared at Richie shyly with a bright red blush on his face. It definitely made him feel better to see Richie’s ears flushed just as brightly, looking as if he would freak out at any second.
Eddie couldn’t let that happen, could he?
Thankfully, Richie hadn’t gone too far and Eddie was able to lean in and close the space between their lips again, kissing Richie with a tenderness he hadn’t realized he was capable of. Once he felt Richie relax and kiss him back, his hand moved to the back of Richie’s neck, allowing their connection to continue for a little while longer.
When they pulled away this time, they both were a little breathless and Eddie couldn’t help the smile that found his face when he saw Richie grinning at him.
“I’m not letting you go this time. I swear it.” Richie promised. Eddie’s eyelashes fluttered when he felt Richie cup his cheeks and he sighed quietly when Richie pressed a small peck to his lips.
“Good. I don’t want you to. Now, tell me where the others went and how you were able to stay.” Eddie demanded as he relaxed back into the pillows, and Richie grinned sheepishly at Eddie after dropping his hands.
“I might have lied and told them that I was your husband.”
“Richie, what?! What the hell were you thinking? You know that they can figure out if that shit isn’t true, right?”
“Oh, relax, spaghetti. I had to find a way fucking somehow, didn’t I? S’not like it won’t be true in the future.”
Eddie could feel his heart squeeze hard in his chest and he knew that he was fucked in the best way possible. He would have to deal with Richie ‘the trashmouth’ Tozier for the rest of his life, now.
He was okay with that.
“Richie, I thought we were meeting with the others one last time.”
Eddie huffed out as he followed Richie across the bridge, wishing he could take his itchy cast off. He had broken in his arm in several places and apparently had been lucky that his arm wasn’t gone, or better yet, that he wasn’t dead. Eddie knew that he had almost died a few times, but he liked to believe that he had held out for his friends. For Richie.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah.. Look, I just have one thing to show you, and then we’ll go. Calm that cute ass of yours down.” Richie winked, and Eddie rolled his eyes playfully at his boyfriend.
“You’re the worst.” He mumbled out as they finally seemed to walk up to what Richie wanted him to see. “What’s this? Oh god, Richie, did you really just take me to this damn―“
Eddie stopped short when he saw what Richie had crouched down in front of, and he was soon walking in closer and bending down to see if he hadn’t been imagining it.
Eddie could feel tears springing into his eyes when Richie held out a pocket knife to him, his gaze warm and excited. “I.. I started it a long time ago. I.. was hoping you would finish it.”
The breath was knocked out of Eddie and he let out a choked laugh before he carefully grabbed the knife and started to kneel, helped down by Richie.
‘R + E’
The E was faded, but it was there. He had never doubted that Richie meant it when he said he had feelings for Eddie back then, but Eddie didn’t know he had done this. So many times, he walked past this bridge without thinking twice about it, and this secret had been etched there for years for only the two of them.
Eddie glanced over at Richie with nothing but love and fondness in his teary eyes, and then he got to work with his left hand. It was a little shaky because it wasn’t his dominant hand (and also because he was trying not to cry - god, Richie was such a sap), but the job got done and Eddie could feel his chest tightening. It was completed.
He thanked Richie quietly once he was helped back onto his feet, and once the pocketknife was put away, Eddie was quick to grab Richie’s hand. “Okay, loverboy. We’re etched into this bridge forever. How about we go say goodbye before we go home?”
There was no way he was going anywhere that Richie wasn’t. California had just as many people who needed limo services and it was about time that he expanded his business anyway.
When instead of a verbal answer, he got a kiss, Eddie’s eyes fluttered closed and he pressed into it, feeling a happiness he couldn’t describe.
“Yeah, guess we can go say goodbye to those fucking losers.” Richie smiled, starting to lead Eddie back the way they’d come.
Everything would be okay. They were all okay. It was over. They had defeated It, and now, they all had each other again.
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Buck And Eddie Get Fake Married
Request: Can you write something for #5? “This is where we kiss, right?” Like with oblivious Buck?
A/N: Okay so a fake wedding au? You didn’t ask for it, but it’s what I’m giving you, sorry. I don’t know why y’all put up with me. I hope you like it!
Summary: A previous patient drops by the station to thank 118 one last time, and to see her two favourite firefighters get married, regardless of whether they’re actually together or not, and it might just be a little too much for Eddie’s pining heart.
Warnings: Um? Pushy elderly lady? And extensive mentions of feelings of anxiety.
It was just a week earlier when the team had been called to the home of an elderly woman, who managed to get herself stuck in the rails of her staircase as she used it for balance. She was kind, and stayed in good spirts as they worked around her, careful not to damage her fragile skin any further.
She was one of the good calls. The ones where they left knowing they made a difference, and that the person they had helped was genuinely grateful. It was a surprise to see her visit the station with her daughter, but she was adamant on one more favour from the team before she let them go.
“Before I die, I want to see my two favourite firefighters get married.”
At first, when the elderly lady looked in their direction, Eddie was confused, but once he understood, he scrambled to hide the blush creeping up his cheeks.
“Oh, we aren’t together,” Buck denied casually with an easy laugh,
The team jumped. Hearing a sweet, elderly woman swear like that was a whole emotion in itself.
“I’ve seen you two around town with your son, he’s adorable,”
“Thanks,” Buck smiled,
“But we aren’t together,” Eddie reaffirmed,
“Come now, I’m sure you two could give a Good Samaritan her last wish,” Chimney pushed.
Eddie was sure he could throw up. Did everyone have to keep implying he and Buck were together? He had been dealing with his increased fondness towards the other man in his own time, he really didn’t need the team thrusting them together. What if Buck didn’t feel the same way? Eddie was sure the ground would swallow him whole if he had to go through that.
“Let’s do it!” Hen clapped,
“No, no, no, not here! Somewhere bright! And beautiful,”
“There’s a park right down the road,”
Eddie glared at her.
How was he supposed to keep his feelings at bay and figure out what they all mean if he is going to marry Buck within the half hour. Why did they have to put him on the spot like this. He can’t fake marry the man he is potentially in love with, he might as well just tear his heart out and let the truck roll over it.
“Perfect! Bobby can officiate it and we will be the witnesses,” Chimney clapped,
“We can do it on the truck... bring some good publicity to the station,”
“Uh, are we all forgetting what happened the last time we did that?” Eddie tried,
“You’re not going to deny an old lady her dying wish are you?” The woman blinked at Eddie expectantly.
By now, Buck was also stiff beside him, the entire thing had been blown way out of proportion. They were getting married, although fake, in a very public place in a very realistic way. Eddie dared at peak at Buck, who looked back at him. He was shocked, but it was in Buck’s nature to quickly adapt, and Eddie knew that he’d get on board with the idea if someone said even one more time that it was a good idea.
“I’ll buy the beers,” Chimney bargained,
“Ready to get married, husband,” Buck slapped Eddie on the shoulder.
Everything inside him tingled at that. Husband. Off of Buck’s tongue. It was too much, Eddie wouldn’t be surprised if he fainted and fell right off the top of the fire truck later on. Still, he put one foot in front of the other, and while unwilling, we climbed into the truck anyway.
His hands sweat the entire way there. Eddie must have run them down his trousers a thousand times. The worst part, Buck had become far more comfortable and friendly with the woman on the drive. He was completely calm about the whole thing now. And Eddie didn’t want to say he was jealous, but... when she put her hand on his arm and he smiled back at her... he was jealous.
Why the fuck couldn’t that have been him?
Eddie was a little relieved when they arrived. It was a pretty quiet day at the park, or so it looked. A crew of firefighters with a truck always drew a crowd in a few short minutes. It took some time to get angles and the set up right, and then there they were, just the two of them on the truck, about to be wed.
Bobby stood with the rest of the team on the ground, surrounded by the spectators when he began. He cursed everyone who had encouraged them to hold hands like a real couple during the ‘ceremony.’ It gave Eddie’s brain too much to process.
How could he focus on Bobby’s voice when Buck’s hands were right there in his? His head felt stuffy, and he was actually a little worried he made pass out. The entire thing flew by, and before he knew it, they’d reached the most important part of the ceremony.
“I now pronounce you, husband and husband,”
“This is where we kiss, right?”
“Usually,” Eddie nodded,
“Do we actually have to do that?”
“Well! Kiss!” Chimney egged them on.
The boys looked at each other as the crowd on the ground below them all began to cheer.
Someone had it out for Eddie, he was sure. This may very well be the death of him.
Buck looked at him and shrugged, and before Eddie could protest anymore, Buck had a hand on his waist, another on his cheek, and their lips were pressed together.
Eddie was shocked for a split second, then all he could comprehend was Bucks lips on his, and how he really, really didn’t want it to end. So, he kissed back. Maybe a little too eagerly, but Buck wasn’t pulling back either.
Both of Bucks hands rested on his cheeks now, and Eddie couldn’t help but reach up and hold them, he figured that was safest. If he had his way, his hands would be all over Buck, but that wasn’t exactly park nor audience friendly. Though, Eddie was pretty sure he could get used to Buck’s big hands holding him still to kiss him.
He was weak under Buck, ready to give him whatever he wanted.
Buck tugged on his belt, pulling them closer, and Eddie couldn’t resist wrapping his arms around Buck’s neck, letting the kiss deepen.
“It’s a children’s park!” Athena’s voice broke through their moment, “please don’t make me arrest you for-“
Eddie gasped as he sprung back, completely out of Buck’s hold, leaving the other firefighter stunned, hands still frozen in the position they’d been in on Eddie’s waist seconds earlier.
He could hear the crowd below them cheering, but it was like an outer body experience. Like they weren’t really there. Buck still hadn’t moved, and Eddie’s head was rapidly telling him to abort mission. It went too far, it was too much.
Now he had screwed everything up. Screwed up everything for Christopher. He cursed himself as he made his way to the edge, ready for his feet to be on solid ground where he could run and run and run until he collapsed in a pile of self pity. He wasn’t ready to face Buck’s rejection yet.
Eddie was sure he was about to just throw himself over the edge rather than climb down safely, but Buck caught him just in time, and now there they were again. Still stuck atop a fire truck, collapsed almost on top each other, Buck the only thing keeping Eddie from ungracefully going over the edge.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you, I- we’ll forget it, yeah? I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to fuck it up,”
“You didn’t fuck it up.”
And if only Buck knew just how true that was.
“It’s fine. It’s fine, it’s just...” Eddie couldn’t find the words to say,
“This can’t change anything,”
“For Christopher!” Buck agreed, “...but I mean... If you liked it, maybe...”
“Maybe what?” Eddie pushed,
“Maybe we could try it again some time... maybe not with a bunch of strangers staring at us, because I really don’t even want to go down there and face it once, let alone again,”
“Yeah, I think I’d like that,”
A weight fell off Eddie’s shoulders, and he laughed. Real and loud.
“Yes, really... but like, after we talk, because I’m not ready to-“
“Yeah, no, totally agreed,” Buck nodded, “we have the rest of our lives, right?”
Eddie could’ve slapped Buck. Did he have to say cute shit right now? Did they not just agree to put their feelings to the side until they talk about it? Eddie was pretty sure the first chance they get alone was in fact not going to be filled with a single word at all, probably a lot of lip work, but no talking. But could anyone blame him when Buck looked like... that.
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loving you is a losing game
Happy New Year y’all <3 (this is emotional hurt with no comfort, if that’s not your thing, do not read this)
Word Count: 1552 words
He’d promised himself this one thing.
It’s taken too many missed chances, too many fleeting moments of everything and nothing in between, too many almosts, too many should-haves. Too many moments where Eddie could have reached forward and taken what’s belonged to them this whole time, and didn't.
There's also been too many occasions of love lost in their line of work, too many moments of people losing loved ones. Eddie's one of those, too. He's watched his wife bleed out on a random sidewalk in broad daylight, with so many regrets that he doesn't know what to do with them half the time.
And so he’d promised himself that he’d take his chance. He’d step that half-step between platonic and romantic and keep Buck close, in his orbit. Because Buck has had multiple opportunities over the past few years where Eddie’s slipped in ample openings between them, testing the line, and he hasn’t taken any of them.
So it makes sense that it be Eddie. Buck takes his cues from him, and if Eddie were to breath one letter of I love you in his direction, he’d immediately catch on without needing the rest of them.
But Eddie thinks that Buck deserves better than that. He deserves the words said to him with all the conviction of the world propping them up, and no matter how difficult it may be, Eddie’s determined to cross the line in no other manner.
The line that seems flexible, elastic, bending to their will without breaking. They’ve pushed and pulled into territory that probably wasn’t theirs to begin with, always snapping back into their frail, constructed boxes at the end of it. Boxes made of glass, where Eddie can see the reflection of himself loathing the barriers between them.
Most of the time, Eddie forgets that there is a line. He forgets that he can’t just pull Buck into his side, can’t kiss him when he wants, can’t tell Buck to spend the night with him in his bed.
But there’s been the hope in Buck’s eyes, and this spurs Eddie on. He knows that same hope is reflected in him, because all he’s ever wanted is to be enough for someone, for someone to not look past his shortcomings, but not see him as any less for them.
Buck is all of those things, and more.
Eddie stares down into the pile of Shannon’s things he’s dug out of his closet, the very ones that sent him spiraling down with the insecurities that tip him this way and that.
The box contains everything, neatly folded into place. The clothes she’d been wearing, her jewelry, the form with Eddie’s shaking signature...two flowers he’d taken from the funeral to put in the box.
They were dried now, but their scent had been left behind on the cotton fabric, in the musty smell of the wooden box. If he concentrates, he can even scent the flowery perfume Shannon used to use, the one that sat in its little glass bottle on their vanity for years.
The last time Eddie tried to do this, he’d been left with nothing but a wish for divorce. He’d read everything wrong, and lost the woman that’d held his heart for the better part of a decade...that still holds part of him. Hell, he’d lost her even before she’d died.
Eddie can’t even count the mistakes he’s made on one hand, because every time he thinks of it, he thinks of another thing he’d been doing wrong. There had been multiple facets to their anger and discontent with one another, but Eddie knows that he’d been the one to tip his marriage into precarity first. No matter how much he’s come to terms with the fact that they’d both made mistakes, he also knows that there’s always a starting point.
And sometimes, that start point leads miles past the end line, without ever circling back to where the beginning was.
He’s terrified of making the same mistakes with Buck.
Inside, no matter how many therapy sessions he’s taken, no matter how many ways he’s avoided discussing the nature of his relationship with his best friend, Eddie knows that if soulmates exist, Buck’s his. He’s been his partner in every shape and form since the day Eddie met him, and in his head, he knows that he’s been that person for Buck, too. He trusts that the bond that they’ll build will be on much more solid foundation.
Eddie gingerly closes the box, sliding it back on the shelf in his closet. As he turns to shut the door, he catches sight of two articles of clothing he doesn’t remember buying. Tugging one out, he instantly recognizes the printed pattern on the hoodie as Buck’s. The second is a jacket Eddie now recalls having been left here, having thrown it in haphazardly into the rest of the laundry.
A smile tugs at his lips at the sight of it, but quickly drops when the previous thoughts accost him again, taking away the small shred of happiness this measly thing brought him.
Hell, the man’s stuff is sitting in his closet.
Irritated with himself and his inability to force the one thing he wants from his throat, Eddie shuts the door louder than he intends to, wincing when the loud crack reverberates through his room. He stays still for several seconds, keeping an ear out for Christopher’s stirring.
When he hears nothing, he pads over to his window, staring out at his moonlit backyard. Sleep evades him more often than not some nights, and tonight is one of those nights where sleep doesn’t come at all.
Tonight, his poison of choice is to think about all the reasons he won’t step over the line with Evan Buckley.
Eddie has been called many things in his life. He’s been called a soldier, came back to the title of war hero, has been a husband, father, somebody’s partner, a firefighter.
Somewhere in the middle, Eddie knows he’s lost track of himself, of the things he needs, of the things he’s wanted out of life. He’s lost track of what Eddie once stood for, only barely clutching to the values that have kept him alive to this day.
In all the turns his life has taken, he’s lost sight of where the original track once was.
He doesn’t regret it. How can he, when these life changes are the ones that have taught him to be the man he is now, the ones that have given him his son? That have given him a sense of purpose in the moments that Eddie thought he’d never do anything else?
But other than that, Eddie doesn’t remember the last time his wants were separate from his family’s. He doesn’t remember the last time he did something purely for himself.
He also knows how much Christopher adores Buck, knows the unyielding affection Buck showers Chris with. Buck stepping into a parental role feels like it would be a lot more natural than Eddie can fathom right now, and that in itself settles one requirement he has for bringing someone into his son’s life.
Despite the bond Buck and Christopher share, Eddie’s love for Buck is something that’s only his, brought about by nothing but a product of all the qualities that make the man who he is.
He’s not stupid, and he’s not naïve. He knows that if he takes this step with Buck, their makeshift family will only get stronger, the tentative threads that start with sharing a closet will only weave tighter around them.
It’s always felt a little inevitable for Eddie to fall in love with him. As if their story couldn’t end anywhere else — even if it hasn’t really started yet.
In his head, he knows Buck feels the same. He’s seen his own longing and desire reflected on Buck’s face more times than he cares to count. It’s his heart that needs convincing, that it’s not just wishful thinking, that he’s not just projecting his own love onto his best friend with some silent expectation that he feel the same.
He’d gone over to Buck’s tonight after promising himself that he was going to use his words, let Buck know how he feels. Then he’d taken one look at the routine they’d built, one look at the wide grin on his son’s face, one look at the soft expression on Buck’s, and opted straight out.
He can count on one hand the number of times he’s felt the same visceral fear as he had sitting on Buck’s couch. Just the thought of losing what he already sends him deep into a pit of terror.
Eddie sighs, scrubbing a hand down his face as he turns away from the window. The night could’ve turned out so much differently if Eddie had just done what he’d set out to do.
But maybe this is a blessing in disguise — maybe he isn’t as ready as he thought he was.
Instead, he slips back into bed, setting another goal for himself. If he’s going to give Buck the things he deserves, he needs to make sure that he’s ready for them, too.
With that in mind, he closes his eyes.
This time, he’s playing the long game.
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Small Bump 7/?
Hi guys I’m back, fully and definitely back, I’m trying right now to catch up on everything I left on hiatus so be ready for a lot of prompt and an ABO buddie coming soon, I want to thank you guys for your patience, your love and support through all of this, I know I was absent for a while, I know I wasn’t really active but I’m coming back more fueled and ready to battle, I also wanted to tell you that I’m probably going to reopen anon ask, I feel ready to do it and I know that I can always count on you if anything goes wrong ♥️ well enough of my ranting here is the awaited part 7 of Small Bump it’s longer than the previous part and I really hope that y’all going to like it !
Tag list : @diazbuckleysworld @felicitous-one @gxtop @cherishingstydia @translucent-bisexual @profangirl1999 @zola9612 @impossiblealice @sergeant-barnes-and-his-captain @meloingly @shipping-queen @my-name-i-we @reecedaddario @fyeahhipsterdoctor @evan-diaz-buckley @duckcollectorus @graciemma16 @snorlaxishere @fandomfullofgayness @zeethebooknerd @nilshki @adamngoodbuck @reenessie @hardychick89 @lovegiveortakefivethousandyears @peroquenotevean @lullez @chioink @silkevanloon @chrrlees @meisterdani @thegreatgherkin87
Word count : 2063
Song : All I Want -Kodaline
He was all alone once again, but this time Eddie departure didn’t hurt, it didn’t shatter his heart, didn’t make him feel empty and alone, no this time he knew that they both needed some time off from one another, they needed to think, to assimilate both of their betrayal, Eddie more than him it seemed.
He never saw him this way, so hurt, vulnerable and tired, Eddie never showed anything, always keeping his feelings for himself, always sucking it up as he’d been teach, it had been a first for the both of them, it was the first time Eddie allowed himself to be weak, to be open, to be honest with his feelings.
Everything was quiet, disturbingly, painfully and numbly quiet, as his gaze was fixed on the wall in front of him, as he toned out the comes and goes of the doctors and nurses, the buzzing noise of a busy hospital he let himself think, let himself remember how everything was simple before all this mess, let himself wonder if he made the right choice....
He knew that day would have eventually came, knew that at some point he would have to tell Eddie the truth, knew that he wouldn’t be able to hide his secret still he hadn’t expected would turn this way with both Eddie and him heartbroken, and more distanced from one another.
It’s been six days now, six days since he was released from hospital, six days since Eddie learned the truth, six days since he broke down in front of Buck.
Eddie had been kind of M.I.A since that fateful day and neither the team nor Buck had tried to get in touch with him, all assuming he’d needed time to assimilate all that happened, to accept that life changing new, but after the fourth day without any words from him Buck started to worry, started to wonder if something happened to Eddie, if he had to be the one to break the heavy silence that settled between them.
He’d been debating with himself all Friday night, deciding whether he should go to Eddie’s or not when Carla called him clearly distressed.
-Please he hasn’t left his room in two days, she shared sighing tiredly, Chris told me he’s been depressed lately and I thought that maybe you could talk with him, she added, see what’s wrong, she breathed, Chris miss his dad and he miss you too, she revealed.
-Tell Chris I’ll be there tomorrow, Buck declared.
Saturday came faster than what Buck had anticipated, he felt his stomach tangle with stress and anticipation, he felt his hands becoming sweaty, his heart beating faster, even though he knew that the chance of Eddie opening his door were slim, he couldn’t help but dread this impromptu reunion.
He arrived at the Diaz household in less than ten minutes, he stayed in his car for five, trying to calm his nerves and beating heart, trying to convince himself that everything was going to be ok, he was going to spend the first half of the day with Chris and Carla and then if he was lucky and if Eddie was willing they would have a longue and overdue conversation.
As predicted Carla was the one to open the door telling him that Eddie had totally refused to go out of his room after she told him that he was visiting, he pretended to be sick but Christopher has told her that morning that his dad wasn’t in a good shape, that he saw a bruise on his left eye.
Buck felt his blood boil after Carla revealed this, he thanked her before going to join Chris in the living room, he smiled at him and felt some of his rage disappear when the little boy hugged him and started to tell him all about his week.
-I missed you so much, he confided still focused on his drawing, I think daddy missed you too, he observed.
-I missed you to buddy, Buck smiled purposely ignoring his last words.
-Daddy is always sad, Chris sighed, he thinks I don’t hear him cry at night, he pursued, sometimes he’ll say your name, he added finally looking up.
Buck felt his heart ache for Christopher, he felt guilty, felt as if he was responsible of the strain between father and son, he threw a glance to Carla who nodded in understanding.
-Christopher honey, she called lightly, how about we go buy lunch for everyone, she beamed.
-And dessert, he demanded grabbing his crutches.
Silence engulfed the house after Carla and Chris departure, a loud and heavy silence, one foretelling how their conversation would turn out.
Shaking his head, he tried to turn his attention back on Eddie’s bedroom door, he tried to focus, tried to force himself to stop thinking about how they both hurt the other, tried to force himself to stop remember that night, tried to convince himself that everything was going to be ok, that they were going to put everything behind and move on, as parents if not as a pair.
Eddie didn’t know how to feel anymore, he was lost, confused, numb… It was as if something broke inside of him, no words could describe the state he was in after he learned the truth, no one could understand the impact of that night, hell he couldn’t understand it either, he never felt that way and it was both scary and disturbing…
He always believed that Shannon abandoning them was the most hurtful moment in his life, that nothing could top her giving up on both Chris and him, then she died and he felt like she was leaving them behind once more, he felt like he could never recover, felt like he was never going to be enough for anyone or anything not even his son, but then Buck saved the day like he always did, he stupidly made him believe that he had the right to be happy, that he was enough, he was needed and wanted, he gave and gave never asking for anything in return, and Eddie had felt guilty, he’d felt as if he let him down that night, he felt like somehow he’d betrayed Buck, because he didn’t left by choice, didn’t abandon Buck without saying anything because he wanted to but because he had to.
He never imagined that Buck would make him pay, never though that this kind and selfless person, his person, would take everything back in the cruelest way possible, but he did and Eddie didn’t know how to feel about it, sure he was aching but somehow he got it, he understood that Buck had been hurt too, had been afraid, he made Buck feel what he felt when Shannon left and he couldn’t forgive himself for it, couldn’t face Buck, he was too ashamed for that.
He wanted time to stop just for a moment, he wanted everything to stop, to be quiet, calm and southing, he wanted the world to pause just for a minute, a single minute that will allow the quiet to let him think, let him reflect; let him draw on their link, allowing him to find the right words, allowing him to reassure his tired mind and broken heart that everything was going to be alright.
Buck was silently sited at the window when he got out his room, he was watching kids playing around with a soft and living smile, he didn’t turn when Eddie approached, didn’t make any move, he just tensed and snickered. Eddie stopped walking all together feeling as if he wasn’t wanted here, as if he disturbed Buck peace, as if he ruined things once more, he was ready to turn back and close himself in his room when Buck broke the silence.
-I wish you loved me enough to stay, Buck whispered still looking out the window.
-I love you enough to go, Eddie retorted approaching him hesitantly, I love you enough to want you safe, he added brokenly understanding the hidden message in Buck’s words, he found himself kneeling down in front of the younger man.
He could feel Eddie’s arms tightening around his body, could feel his tears wetting his shirt, could sense the sheer agony and sorrow the other man felt. It was destroying him, tearing him apart, poisoning his blood, still there was nothing he could do, he was still hurt, still wary, still resentful, his wounded soul was keeping him from reaching out to Eddie even though his heart was yearning for him.
-I wanted to stay, Eddie revealed raising up, I wanted to I swear, he croaked passing back and forth in front of him, hands messing with his hair.
-Then why didn’t you, what was so important that you had to leave in the middle of the night without so much as a note, Buck demanded drily, his arms crossed protectively.
-Lena, Eddie mumbled almost inaudibly turning his head in shame.
-Lena, Buck croaked taking a step back, Lena, he repeated in a chuckle, I see, he stated nodding his head.
-I know what you’re thinking, Eddie objected, but I swear it’s nothing like that, he tried.
-Right, Buck scoffed, nothing like that at all, he snarled, excuse me then for feeling like some cheap booty call, he mocked.
-Don’t be like that Evan, Eddie sighed tiredly, it wasn’t like that for me, he growled, it wasn’t just sex and you know it, he pointed.
-No I don’t, Buck retorted his voice raising a little, how could I know it wasn’t just sex when I woke up cold and alone, he snorted, how could I know, when they were no note, no text or call for three whole days, he counted , how could I know it wasn’t just sex when you had a massive breakdown days after it happened making me fake forgetting it so you’ll feel better, he frowned hands in the air, tell me Eddie how dumb me was supposed to know, he nodded toward the older man.
-You weren’t supposed to know, cause I wasn’t supposed to leave, Eddie roared back grabbing him, I didn’t want to leave but she made me do it, he panted, she forced me and I had no other choice, he gasped, I had to go to keep Chris and you safe, he avowed.
-Safe, Buck repeated, safe from what, he demanded grabbing Eddie’s left shoulder, Eddie, he called.
-She’s blackmailing me, he chuckled drily, letting himself fall on the couch, she lost her job because they found out she was in a fight club, he explained, they never found out about me because Bobby made sure of it, he sighed, I left that night because she threated to expose me, told me that if it was to be known I’ll probably lose custody of Chris, I’ll probably lose my job, he passed a hand through his messy hair, she knew about us, he breathed, and I was afraid that she would do something against you too so I left, he croaked.
-You’re fighting again, Buck stated nodding to Eddie’s black eye, and she’s taking the money, he added.
-Yeah, Eddie nodded, I didn’t say anything and didn’t leave a note cause I didn’t want you to worry or get involved in it, he frowned, I was ashamed and scare of retaliation, he breathed out heavily.
-We’re a team Eddie, Buck objected, I have your back and you have mine, and I get it, I get you were worried and afraid, he pursued, but I could have helped you, I could have gave you the support you needed, he added, we’re in this together, he affirmed pointing at themselves.
-I don’t think you can help me in this, Eddie chuckled, it’s a big mess, he heaved, if I talk I lose everything, if I keep quiet I lose everything too, it’s a lose-lose situation, he mused.
-She wants to play dirty, Buck challenged, then I know exactly the person who could take her down, he announced, I’m going to help you out of this mess, but you have to tell me everything no lies, no secrets, you have to be honest there Eddie because Chris needs his father, and I need you to, he added softly massaging his belly.
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Eddie Week Day Three: Eddie y su Abuela
Word Count: 1603
Original Pub Date: 17 June 2020
Relationships: Eddie Diaz & Christopher Diaz, Eddie Diaz & Abuela
Read on ao3 here
By now y’all know I’m gonna tag: @eddiediazweek @hearteyesforbuck@rebeccaofsbfarm@thisissirius@hearteyesforbuck @dramamineontopofme@twinien@meloingly @myemergence
The muscles in Eddie’s arm protest as he pushes the truck door open, and his legs barely catch him as he slides out of the truck. He’s not as young as he was when he started with the LAFD – two whole years ago – and the effects of the long shift are catching up with him. He rolls his neck as he walks up Abuela’s driveway, winces at the way the movement makes his head throb. There’s a thin layer of sweat across his face, but he chalks it up to the number of hours he spent wearing a heavy plastic helmet today.
Mercifully, she has the door open before he’s even made it to the porch, so he doesn’t have to get his arm to cooperate enough to knock, or deal with the sound of his knuckles against the door.
Eddie greets her with a gentle hug and a kiss on the cheek, looking over her shoulder to see Chris sitting on the floor, working to get his sneakers tied. He leans back, careful not to overbalance himself and topple over, which feels like a very real risk tonight. But almost as soon as he’s upright again, his lungs rebel and he starts coughing.
Odd, they didn’t run any calls with heavy smoke inhalation today.
It’s the kind of uncontrollable coughing that threatens to double him over. His chest aches and his eyes water as he tries to suck in enough air to keep breathing. The back of his throat is scratchy, but he can’t stop coughing long enough to swallow and ease the strain. He’s half-crouched, bracing one arm across both knees. The other hand digs into his shoulder as he coughs into his elbow, hoping to squeeze hard enough to stop the coughing fit.
Eddie is vaguely aware of Christopher peering around Abuela to watch him, eyes wide with concern. Finally, he’s able to get himself back under control, stand up and take a couple of deep breaths.
He doesn’t get the chance to say anything, though, can’t soothe Christopher’s worry, because Abuela is stepping into his personal space, rolling up onto her toes to cup his face in her hands.
“Eddito, what’s wrong?” She presses the back of one of her hands against his forehead and he watches her brow furrow. “Do you feel alright?”
“I’m fine, Abuela.” Eddie tries to brush her off, but he’s too exhausted to step back, and her hands feel so cool against his skin. “Just a long shift.”
“No, a long shift would not make you so flushed. You look tired, too. Christopher, mijo, doesn’t he look tired?”
“He looks tired.” Christopher nods solemnly, and Eddie regrets the day that he told his son to always listen to what Abuela says. “Dad, you look tired.”
Eddie grumbles, but even he can tell that the words are incoherent. Still, he’s pretty sure his dissatisfaction is clear, even as Abuela tugs him by the hands into the house. He doesn’t put up any resistance, he’s learned better than to argue with her when she’s got an idea in her mind, and before he knows it, she’s nudging him onto the sofa.
The exhaustion is so strong in his bones that the gentle push drops him to the cushion in a hard flop. He groans as the impact jostles his head, and the new vantage point gives Abuela an opportunity to start prodding at his face again.
She doesn’t say anything, but the look on her face is chastising enough for Eddie to be thrown back to his childhood days, remembering the way she’d cluck her tongue at him whenever she was disappointed. It hadn’t happened very often, but it’s still the only thing he can think of as she pats his cheek and turns away, heading for the kitchen and leaving Eddie and Christopher alone on the couch.
“Hey, kiddo. Good day today?” Eddie hears the rasp in his own voice, but holds back a grimace when Christopher starts rambling excitedly about his day. His voice is just this side of too loud, the tone just right to grate on Eddie’s rapidly fraying nerves. But he can’t bring himself to shut Christopher down, ask him to be quiet. It’s parenting, right? Being engaged in his kid’s life even when his brain is trying to crawl out of his ears?
He thanks the Lord for Abuela, though, when he hears her voice float in from the kitchen.
“Christopher, mijo, come here and help me fix the Caldo de Pollo. Let your father rest; he’s had a long day.”
“He’s can-cansado?” Chris clambers down from the couch, and Eddie smiles at the pride in Abuela’s voice when she responds.
“Right, muy bien. Muy cansado.”
He listens to them working in the other room, faintly hears her walking him through how to dice the celery and chop an onion. His eyelids droop closed, too heavy for him to hold them up any longer, and he reaches blindly for the worn-in blanket that he knows is draped across the back of the sofa. It’s not heavy, but the added warmth is welcome when he leans sideways and tucks himself underneath the cozy material as the noises around him fade out.
Eddie isn’t sure how long he’s been asleep, but the next thing he knows, Christopher is shaking him awake.
“Dad! Dad, wake up! We made soup!”
“Shh, gentle, Christopher. We want to wake him up, not scare him to death.”
But Eddie isn’t scared. He’s too drained for that, hardly able to muster the strength he needs to open his eyes and sit up. There’s a TV tray unfolded in front of him, and a big bowl filled to the brim with soup sitting in the middle.
Before he can lean forward, though, Abuela’s hand is pressed against his forehead again.
“Still too hot, Eddito,” she tsks at him. “You eat your Caldo, I’ll get some ice chips.”
There’s nothing he can do but groan and obey his orders.
Besides, Abuela’s soup is stronger than any drug he’s ever had. The first bite alone is enough to perk him up a little bit, give him enough energy to take another spoonful.
Chris is sitting next to him, in front of his own tray, with his own bowl of soup.
“This is so good, Dad! I feel better, and I’m not even sick!” He’s slurping from his spoon, but Eddie can’t find it in himself to scold, remind his son to use better manners.
All he’s up for is emptying his soup bowl, carefully regarding his stomach to make sure he’s not feeling queasy.
(He’s not, thankfully, but he does eventually reach a point of diminishing returns on the healing powers of the soup and it starts to drain his energy away again as the warmth of the meal pulls his body back toward sleep.)
Just when he’s accepted that he can’t wait any longer, that if he and Chris don’t go home now, they’ll probably wake up here in the morning, Abuela appears again from the hallway.
“I put fresh sheets on the bed for you, Edmundo. Come on, let’s go, there’s a blanket in the dryer, but you have to go to bed first.”
Eddie stumbles when he stands up, catches himself on the arm of the sofa and almost trips over the blanket that lands at his feet. But he manages to stay standing, and lets Abuela lead him down the hallway to the spare room. He doesn’t have pajamas here, but it’s not like he’d have the energy to change clothes right now anyway.
Instead, he drops himself face first onto the mattress, jeans, boots and all, and groans. Abuela pats his shoulder, then the bed shifts as she unlaces his boots and lines them up at the foot of the bed.
“That’s better, isn’t it?” When Eddie groans, she runs a hand up his back. “Shh, I’ll be right back.”
Eddie doesn’t move while she’s gone, doesn’t even roll over or turn his head to uncover his nose and mouth. He just breathes his own hot, muffled air and waits. Everything else is too much effort.
The mattress dips again and Abuela is rolling him over carefully, covering him with a blanket just the right amount of warm and fresh with the scent of fabric softener. She squeezes his shoulder, her fingers ice cold even through the fabric of his T-shirt.
“Eesh, you’re cold.” It comes out more mumbled than he’d hoped, but she still laughs.
“No, sweetheart, you are too hot.” But she pulls her fingers away, reaches behind him and fluffs his pillow. When Eddie sighs, she pushes her fingers through his hair, massaging his scalp lightly.
Eddie’s eyes close again and he shifts to burrow himself further under the blankets. It’s possible, he thinks, that there may be to this than exhaustion after a long shift, that he might be coming down with something. But it’s nice to know that he doesn’t have to worry about anything else tonight; Christopher is taken care of, and he’s getting more attention here than he would at even the best hospital.
It’s hard for him to admit that he needs help sometimes, but he never wants to take for granted the way that his Abuela can always see right through him. She always knows when he needs someone to step in and take care of him and Christopher.
That’s his last coherent thought as sleep pulls him under again: he’s so, so lucky to have Abuela there to look out for him and Christopher, her family.
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Chapter V: out of line
Summary of series: Katie moves from Peachtree, Georgia, to L.A. with her son, Alex to start fresh after the death of her husband. When she meets Evan Buckley, a young firefighter, she falls fast but will her son be so quick to accept Evan into his life?
Summary of chapter: After the dinner at the Firehouse, Katie is confused by the way Big Jeff is acting around her and tries to talk to him but it doesn’t go as planned.
Warning: Angst, death, possible trigger warning for death of a child
Author’s Note: Here we go y’all! The start of the angsty chapters. I love me some good angst but this, to me, is the bare bones of what I’ll typically consider angst. This is more just casual dramatics but I did want to have some kind of ‘Evan has a bad day and come to Katie for comfort’ element so this is what I came up with. I have something pretty big in mind for a few chapters down the line which I think you’ll enjoy but, until that comes, I hope you enjoy the ride! Cheers, xx! 😘
the other masterlist
You dialed Evan’s number into your phone, sighing before bringing the phone to your ear
“Hey” he greeted
“Hi,” you smiled to yourself, something about his voice could immediately calm you down, “I’m sorry about last night.”
“Don’t be. A little drama never hurt anyone” he laughed
“I don’t know about that. I’m gonna talk to Jeff today, and Nick, to find out what was going on...”
“Okay,” he responded, uncertainty on his tongue, “do you need me there in case he tries something?”
“No,” you smirked, “I think I’ll be fine. Plus, I’ll have Alex with me. He’s the best way to diffuse any situation.” Evan laughed before agreeing and signing off, while you got ready to head into the fire -- so to speak. As you and Alex drove to your young client’s house, you tried to come up with something to say so you didn’t get too emotional but when you pulled up in front of the house, your anger couldn’t be contained
“NICK!” You shouted outside Nick’s door while banging your fists on the wood, “I KNOW YOU’RE IN THERE! ANSWER THE GOD DAMN DOOR NICKY!”
“RELAX!” He yelled as he whipped open the door
“Where is he?” You said, pushing Nick aside
“Who? Big Jeff?” he answered, a confused look on his face, “he really didn’t mean anything by--”
“Where. Is. He?” You urged and Nick obliged, directing you and Alex to the kitchen where his bodyguard was preparing a meal
“Oh Katerina! Alex!” He said with a smile, welcoming you into the house, “It’s so good to see you!”
“Save it, Jeff...” You hissed, “what the hell was that last night?”
“What?” He asked, dumbfounded
“Alex, sweetie,” you knelt down to meet your son’s eyes, “how about you go play video games with Nicky for a bit?” Just as you thought he would, Alex bounded over to the couch and you turned her attention back to ‘Big Jeff’
“Everything okay?” he asked
“Do you think I’m stupid? Or that I’d find the way you acted last night flattering?” you started, “because it wasn’t. It was embarrassing and completely out of line!”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said, walking over to the fridge to put away the food he’d brought out earlier, “I was looking out for you and Alex. I’m always just looking out for the two of you.”
“What was there for you to look out for?” you chided, “we were at dinner and my boyfriend offered to drive me and my son home. There’s nothing to worry about there..”
“I think there is”
“I think there’s not”
“Well maybe that’s why you need someone like me.” Jeff said as he moved behind you slowly
“What?” you asked, your breathing beginning to shallow
“What would Jesse think?” he whispered, finally standing still behind you
“Excuse me?” you started to turn but Jeff forced you to stay forward
“Your husband died,” he snarled, “he didn’t leave. He died. You think he’d be okay with you moving on so fast?”
“Watch it, Jeff” you tried, but it only seem to make him snicker
“Someone needs to make sure you keep some kind of... virtue--” he circled around you and met your gaze-- “wouldn’t want to ruin the reputation you’ve worked so hard to create for yourself would you?”
“You have no right to talk about my husband. You didn’t know him and my reputation is going to be just fine. I don’t need your help. We don’t need your help,” you scolded, beginning to storm out of the house, yelling to your son, “ALEX, come on baby, we’re gonna be late for school!” Your breathing was beginning to normalize but you could feel Jeff following you out of the house; he watched you as you helped Alex into the car and opened your car door before stepping in yourself, an almost sinister smile creeping across his face.
“So... what do you think his problem is?” Marie asked curiously, “think he’s obsessed with you?”
“What? No!” you answered, “I don’t know what’s wrong with him but it was super weird and incredibly sketchy. I mean I’m sure it’s nothing...”
“Yeah maybe..” she started, “but if you feel at all nervous, I would keep your distance. You and Alex”
“I know but how am I supposed to do that? He’s on Nick’s payroll and I guess, technically, so am I..”
“Just don’t be alone with him.” Her words sounded so final like they should be easy but something just didn’t sit right with you
“Should I say something to Nick?” you asked
“No,” Marie said bluntly, “I don’t think Nick would do anything other than say ‘it’s probably nothing’ and then go play some stupid video game.” You shrugged and moved on with your day.
“Katie, let’s go!“ Your boss called out and you shot to her feet
“Where are we going?” you asked
“We’re going to get set up your two favourite clients on a date!” Raquel confidently walked past as her words mingled with the business of the office, “come quick before I take her off your hands!”
“I never wanted her on my hands in the first place” you muttered to herself
“COMING!” You responded, running to meet your boss for a meeting you really didn’t want to have.
“I’m sorry,” Amber said, disdain dripped from her tongue as she spoke, “why do I have to fake a relationship with this... child?”
“I’m not a child,” Nick replied, smiling as he continued, “and I can prove it to you.”
“Ew” she scrunched her face before Raquel interrupted
“Look, this is a great opportunity for both of you to branch out to different audiences,” she said, “get more fans..”
“I don’t do PR relationships.” Amber stated, making you scoff and roll your eyes
“You also don’t respect yourself” you added
“Excuse you, yes I do.”
“Not according to the millions of results whenever someone does a web search for Amber Reed” You chided
“Who cares,” she scoffed, “that’s all fake anyway”
“It doesn’t matter, Amber,” you tried, “your audience is made up of young, incredibly impressionable, girls and their parents are the ones who hold the purse strings.”
“Oh my go--” you sighed to her boss who immediately took over
“So, you don’t make money if your image doesn’t improve”
“I’m not a child and I want to be treated as the adult I am”
“You have to know your lines and learn to stick within them.” You added and watched as Amber considered your words, pursing her lips before looking at Nick
“So what does surfer boy have to do with this?” she asked and you noticed Raquel smile
“Well,” you started, “Mom’s love Nick. No one really knows why, but it probably has something to do with his videos with his little brother who doesn’t live in L.A.--”
“He lives in Minnesota with my Dad” Nick interjected and you shook her head, smiling at him
“Mom’s can see Nick as being a good influence on their kids because he’s a good influence on his own brother. Add to that that his publicist is a mother,” you gestured to yourself, “and they’re immediately won over by him and his stupid charm.”
“I have to play girlfriend to a Youtuber to fix my image?” she cringed
“You really think I wanna do this sweetheart?” Nick countered, “No. I know your story. Spoiled little rich bitch who won a talent show and never had to work to get where she is. I’m only agreeing to this because I trust Katie and she seems to think this could be good for both of us.”
“You don’t know a thing about me” Amber scowled at Nick
“That’s why you get to know each other,” Raquel added, “you two don’t actually have to date each other. Just learn some things about each other -- enough to fool reporters and paparazzi and both of your audiences.” The two thought about it for a minute until reluctantly agreeing. You would be lying if you said you didn’t think it was going to be a total disaster but you were really hoping you were wrong.
“So you talked to him?” he asked Katie, who’s voice chimed from the other end of the call
“I did. It was really weird, he was really weird. But it was probably nothing...”
“Are you okay?”
“Oh god, yeah,” she laughed, “I’m fine. I’ve got it handled.. for now anyway.”
“I’m only a phone call away if you need me”
“Good to know.” The siren rang through the firehouse and you had to say goodbye to Katie. He had no idea what the call would be about but he dove in, ready for anything. Though he couldn’t say he was ready for this.
“Holy crap...” you whispered to yourself, staring at the scene in front of you. A bus had skidded off the road and was stuck between a branch and a road off the side of a cliff.
“What do we got?” Bobby said as Hen gave the team a run through. Everyone else had gotten out of the bus fine, unscathed, except for one little boy who was too close to the front door -- too far for anyone to reach, “alright. Here’s what we’re gonna do. Eddie, Buck, you two are going to repel on either side of the bus. We have to move quickly because we don’t know how long that bus is going to stay where it is. But the two of you can’t make any sudden movements when you get there, we don’t want to risk that bus falling.” There was something about Bobby’s tone that made you realize that the likelihood of saving this boy was low but he did as instructed and made his way to the front of the bus where the boy was. When you saw the little boy, he called out and asked for the boy’s name
“Kingston” he sobbed
“Hi Kingston, my name is Evan and this is Eddie,” he gestured to Eddie on the other side of the bus, “we’re gonna get you outta here okay? But you have to be really still for us.”
“Okay” he replied and you could see him wiping away his tears.
“I don’t know how to get in there, Buck,” Eddie called, “if we try to open this door, the whole bus could shift and fall”
“If we break a window, we won’t have room to get in there and bring him out safely,” you answered, “it’s not sturdy enough for us to shimmy through”
“How’s it goin’ down there guys?” Chimney called
“We’re thinking!” Eddie yelled up, concern lacing every word, “we need a harness!” You weren’t sure what Eddie was doing since the two of them agreed there was no way of getting into the bus without it shifting loose and falling
“Eddie, what are you doing?” you asked as Eddie contemplated a way to get inside
“If I can get in there and position myself in front of the window, and quickly grab him, maybe I can break the glass and repel out the front instead of to the side?”
“And what if the bus falls forward?” you argued, “it’s too risky Eddie!”
“I know! We can’t just leave him there. We need to do something!” Eddie was clearly stressed but he calmed himself down enough to talk to Kingston
“Hey buddy, it’s Eddie, how are you doing?”
“I wanna go home” Kingston answered shakily
“I know, bud, and you will. Can you do something for me and Buck?” he asked and Kingston nodded, while you payed close attention, “can you move slowly, very very slowly toward this door?”
“Eddie..” You started but Eddie held his hand out as if to say ‘give me a second.’ Kingston moved slowly but when the bus began to creak, he stopped
“I can’t! I can’t!” he cried
“Okay, that’s okay,” Eddie said, “you did so good, Little Man!” He dropped his head and tried to figure something out with you but the you could only stare at each other.
“I think that we can only keep him calm..” Eddie sighed, “make sure he’s not alone.” You knew, on some level, that Eddie was right but you didn’t want to lose someone else; especially not a child.
“What if we--“ You started to suggest something when a voice called out
“Kingston!” the voice yelled, “Kingston baby! Where is my son?! WHERE’S MY SON!”
“Mommy?” Kingston yelled
“Ho-ho-hold on!” You and Eddie both yelled to the woman above them
“Mommy?!” Kingston repeated
“Kingston, no!” You shouted as he saw the little boy begin to move, “STOP!” Your words were met by panicked screaming as the bus shifted away from the branch it was trapped by and crashed to the bottom of the cliff. Leaving you and Eddie to drop their heads in defeat, a rush of sadness covering their faces.
“Where’s my son?!” The two of you heard the mother call as they removed their harnesses and slumped back to the truck, “WHY COULDN’T YOU SAVE MY SON?!” She cried; both Eddie and you were silent as they left the scene and made no eye contact with the rest of the team.
“THIS IS AWESOME!” Alex shouted as you and him set the bed with the new comforter set that he picked out for Evan
“I think he’ll get a kick out of it” you laughed as you stared at the comforter, covered with Does and Bucks.
“I think he’ll like it too!” he smiled
“So you like Buck now?” you asked and Alex nodded emphatically.
“He’s pretty cool.” You smiled before finishing making the bed. When the doorbell rang, Alex rushed to answer it
“Slow down, bud” you laughed
“Hey Buck!” Alex greeted him just as you came to stand behind your son
“Hey Bud!” Evan replied before Alex dragged him into the bedroom to show him the comforter, “WHOA! Look at that!” Evan said
“They’re Bucks, and you’re Buck!” Alex shouted and you laughed, paying close attention to Evan’s face
“I love it, buddy.” He was sincere in how he said it, and when he picked Alex up to give him a hug, you noticed Evan’s eyes welling up with tears
“Hey Liebling,” you said to Alex, “how about you go watch T.V. for a little while okay?” Evan put him down, and you giggled as he skipped out of the room and down the hall to watch his favourite shows, “the set isn’t that bad is it? He saw it and immediately thought of you, so we bought it. But it can just st--”
“No no,” Evan smiled, rubbing your arms, “I love it.”
“What’s going on?” you whispered, bringing him to sit on the bed with you. As soon as you asked, he fell apart in front of you, his head falling onto your lap and you brushed his hair to soothe him
“Can I just.. be here like this?” he asked, tears falling on your lap
“Of course you can” you replied, continuing to brush his hair, not knowing if he would tell you what had happened when he sat back up and began walking out to where Alex was; you followed closely behind, furrowing your brows when Evan stopped at the end of the hall and leaned against the wall. You let him know that you were there by rubbing his back gently, feeling him release a deep sigh
“He’s so happy,” Evan said as he watched Alex play with his Lego in front of the T.V. with a very colourful show playing across it, “such a happy kid. Exactly how he should be...”
“Yeah, he is..” you smiled but turned him to face you, “talk to me, Evan. I’ve never seen you like this and I’m starting to worry.”
“We lost someone today,” he answered, “a kid.” He fell back against the wall and you moved closer to him, closing the gap to comfort him
“Evan I’m so sorry”
“His name was Kingston and he was just so young. It all happened so quickly. I can’t imagine how scared he was or what his parents are going through. I’ve only lost one other person on the job and it did a number on me...” You weren’t sure what to say, so you rubbed his shoulder and let him talk about it as much as he needed to, as much as he wanted to, “I don’t mean to dump all of this on you, I didn’t think I would talk about it this much--”
“You can always talk to me,” you added, “about work, good or bad. About anything. I’m always here for you Evan...”
“I know,” he smiled, taking your hand in his, “as weird as it sounds, I just wanted to see his smile. I wanted to just be around him, and you of course.”
“I understand.” You smiled and he made his way over to the couch to sit by Alex. You watched as the two of them built an imaginary world of Lego’s, smiling at each other, laughing and letting the day wash away from them; you could tell it was exactly what Evan needed. He looked back to find you and smiled when he caught your eye, you returned the gesture before walking over to the couch to join them.
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They’re Funny That Way
A/N: Hello, lovelies, I’m rolling out this chapter about a month after I had originally planned to! Wonderful! Honestly, though, I’m really happy with how this one eventually turned out, and I hope you all enjoy it. We’re gonna be getting to that good shit soon, y’all, I promise. What can I say, I love me a good slow burn.
(cross-posted to my AO3 @ marie_deneuve)
Summary: Emma finds herself locked out of her apartment, leading to an unexpected meeting with her next-door neighbor.
Arthur's mission to conveniently bump into Emma again is proving incredibly difficult.
It's hard enough simply pinning down her schedule, with how sporadically she must leave the apartment. However, luck is on Arthur's side today, and he spots her in the hallway as he is leaving to run some errands that morning. His heart stutters as he recognizes her figure just before she reaches the stairs and descends out of view.
Heaven help him, she's even more beautiful than he remembered. He hasn't seen her since that time in the elevator - well, not in person, at least.
She has visited him every night in his fantasies - watching Murray with him while resting her head on his shoulder. Comforting him when harsh nightmares jolt him awake. Telling him that she's proud of him in that soft, melodious voice. That voice that's been echoing in his head and taunting him, driving him mad because he can't recreate her tone exactly, can't match her precise cadence on his own.
Last time they met, she had shaken his hand without a second thought. Arthur had been wearing gloves at the time as part of his work attire, and he'd been kicking himself for it ever since. She reached out and touched him, and he didn't even get the benefit of feeling her hand against his! Pressing that glove to his face as he slept that night had been mildly comforting, but it was no substitute for the real thing.
It's his one day off this week; he definitely has time for a little detour. Maybe if he runs into her somewhere along her way, makes it seem natural, she'll touch him again? He imagines how soft she must feel, how warm. He wants to pull her into his arms, tangle his fingers in her blonde waves, bury his face in the curve of her neck.
Those are the thoughts propelling him forward as he accompanies her through the streets of Gotham that morning, hood of his tan windbreaker up and obscuring his face. "Accompanies" may not be the correct word if one person is unaware of the other's presence, but Arthur isn't too caught up in semantics at the moment. No, he's much more preoccupied with following that streak of golden hair weaving through the foot traffic at a frustratingly quick pace. It's a good thing Emma doesn't share Arthur's talent for disappearing into crowds, he thinks to himself.
If anything, it's the opposite. Gotham City has a perpetual storm cloud hanging over it. Or perhaps it would be more apt to say that Gotham City is the storm cloud. Everything is a different shade of gray, the streets, the smog in the sky, even the people. She is the only splash of color for miles - all reds and blacks and spun gold, shining despite it being overcast.
He maintains several yards between them, knowing that if he gets caught prematurely, he risks scaring her off for good. The last thing he would ever want is for Emma to feel unsafe around him, and there is really no explaining this one away. Hi, I know this looks bad, but I'm that clown you were really nice to on the elevator a few days ago. Anyway, it's been a few days, and I just had to see you again because I can't stop thinking about you, even though we barely know each other. Have coffee with me?
Yeah, real smooth.
His insecurity is gaining on him, when suddenly, Emma slows in front of a store window - Cypi's Bakery, to be exact. Arthur swiftly ducks into the nearest alleyway, poking his head out to see what it is that captured her attention.
Her gaze is fixed on a chocolate croissant on one of the display shelves. She steps right up to the glass, transfixed.
It's the perfect opportunity to approach her. She's so close, it's nearly impossible not to make himself known and reach out to her. It's like the universe is dangling her right in front of his nose, teasing him. Look! She's right here! Come and get her!
What would he say, though? Scratch that, what would a normal person say? Try as he might, he can't quite find the words.
Seconds tick by, and Emma finally checks her watch, rolls her eyes, and with one last forlorn glance at the pastry, continues down the sidewalk. Several feet behind her, Arthur is rolling his eyes as well - he dawdled too long and missed his chance.
She has already rounded a corner by the time Arthur trudges out from his hiding spot, defeated. He tugs his hood down and attempts to straighten his ruffled hair with a sigh, Gothamites shouldering past him without so much as a glance.
Oh, well. Like he could have held the conversation without royally fucking it up anyway.
Perhaps this isn't a total loss - he can still buy her a gift. He knows what she wants now, after all. It will stretch his budget a little - unless he can ration out his cigarettes until the end of the week - but if it will make her smile, it will all be worth it.
He decides he'll wait a little while after she returns home, and then leave the box on her doorstep. With an anonymous note letting her know it's for her, of course.
Can't have that noisy brother of hers stealing her gifts.
One week, and Emma has already reached the end of her fucking rope with this building.
If it isn't the deathtrap elevator, it's the water heater. If it isn't the water heater, it's the absent staff. If it isn't the absent staff, it's the rusted spare key she's been given breaking completely off in her deadbolt, leaving her stranded in the hallway with five bags' worth of clothing and hygiene products.
Today, it's the spare key thing.
For a while, all Emma can do is stare in disbelief at the piece remaining in her hand, the way one might stare at someone running naked between the floats at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. She knows there's no one downstairs at the moment to let her in, or even to get the old key out of the lock. Eddie has the afternoon shift, so he's definitely at work right now. She could just wait at Sophie's for him to return, but she won't even be off for another hour.
It's a perfect cocktail, she thinks. And then she hates herself even more for making an alcohol metaphor when she just took that damn bartending job she doesn't really want earlier today.
She's meant to start working at The Harlequin this weekend, which means two more nights attempting to sleep on that awful air mattress before then. Her new one is set to be delivered sometime after that, and she had to pawn her wedding ring just to afford it. Despite the foul memories behind it, that ring was the only nice thing she had left. Now, she truly has nothing. She can't even get into her own home.
So what does she do? She thinks of the only honorable thing a lady can do in this situation, which would be to march back downstairs, go out to the payphone on the street corner, and call Eddie for help.
And then she does the opposite of that.
With a defeated groan, she throws down her bags and slides down the wall until she's seated on the floor. And keeps sliding until she's lying fully on her back, her bags strewn around her, pathetic puddle of bad luck that she is.
A part of her is ashamed of this private tantrum, and another part of her couldn't give less of a fuck anymore. Hasn't she earned the right to a couple meltdowns?
Emma is broken out of her reverie when the door to the adjacent apartment swings open. The person must not look down in time to notice the mess of a woman lying right outside the door, nor the shopping bags scattered like land mines.
It all happens so fast after that.
The person trips over one of the bags, and Emma has no time to brace herself before their entire body weight slams down onto her at full force.
She lets out a pained whine as the person's bony elbow meets her stomach, knocking the wind out of her. Her head instinctively jerks back, colliding clumsily into the wall behind her, and she briefly sees stars.
Clearly not expecting to effectively elbow drop some woman like a WWF wrestler, the person scrambles wildly on top of her, not helping her discomfort in the least. They flail backwards until they're sitting up on the floor next to her, and Emma finally gets a good look at them as she gasps inelegantly in an attempt to refill her lungs.
It's a man, older than she is, possibly in his early forties. The wrinkles adorning his gaunt face tell a story of utmost exhaustion, and he's dangerously thin, like he hasn't had a proper meal in ages. Brown curls float a touch above his angular shoulders, and his sunken green eyes...look quite familiar. The sudden hypoxia could just be playing tricks on her, though.
Those same eyes finally seem to focus in on her, and he looks at her like he recognizes her as well. She watches his expression quickly shift from confused shock to abject horror.
As Emma finally gets her diaphragm under control, she does her best to sit up, her abs screaming in protest. That'll be a nasty bruise. "Ugh," she groans out. "Holy shit, I'm so sorry! Are you all right, sir?"
The man pauses, thick brows furrowing. "I...I landed on you, and you're apologizing to me?" he asks, perplexed, as if the person who tripped him being repentant about it is the wildest thing he's heard all week. Here in Gotham City, it probably is.
His voice is soft, and upon hearing it, Emma shaves ten years off of her previous estimate of his age. He stares at her guiltily, as if he's just waiting to be reprimanded, despite the whole ordeal not being his fault.
Damn, where has she seen him before?
"What do you mean? Of course I am, I was in your way." Emma goes to gather up her things, still seated against the door to her apartment. "Let me just move these..."
"N-no, it's...it's okay!" the man stutters out. He rushes to stand, and even helps her to move the rest of her things up against the wall.
There's a long and awkward pause before he continues. "If you don't mind, um..." His eyes dart between her and his shoes. "What were you doing out here like that?"
"Oh! Ha, good question." Emma shows him the key - or rather, what's left of it. "It would appear that I'm locked out. It was either do this or throw myself off the roof, and I'm too tired to climb any more stairs today."
Emma briefly wonders whether she should be joking that way in front of a stranger. To her relief, he doesn't seem the least bit unsettled by her dark humor. He simply grins at her bashfully. His eyes briefly light up in turn, the spark so dim and fleeting that, had she blinked, she would have missed it altogether.
And that's when it hits her.
"I've got it!" she exclaims, clapping once. "I know where I've seen you before!"
"Y-you do?" The man appears startled.
"Yeah! It was bugging me, but I remember now." She points one red-painted fingernail at him. "You're that clown! The one I saw in the elevator on my first day here!"
He actually looks relieved at that for some reason, and he visibly relaxes. "Oh, right! I, um...forgot about that." He scratches at the back of his head. "I'm surprised you recognized me - or Carnival, actually. That's my clown name at work."
The irony makes Emma giggle. This skinny, timid man in a knit sweater and loafers puts on greasepaint and dances around at parties for a living... Somehow, she can't picture it, and she's even seen him in full costume. Right now he looks like a sad accountant. Or like Mister Rogers.
Sick of craning her head up to talk to him, she stands as well, brushing some dust off the sleeves of her black cardigan. "I can't say I've ever met a clown off the clock before," she says. "Your life must be a lot more interesting than mine."
His answer comes out slightly pained. "I really doubt that... What do you do?"
"I just became a bartender over at The Harlequin." Emma rolls her eyes and shrugs, smiling wryly. "It's a job. Hopefully a stepping stone, so I can get out of here before long." She gestures to her door. "Pretty sad that I can't even manage to get in today."
The man chuckles at her dry excuse for a joke - shyly, as if he's afraid of it being heard. Emma can't tell if she's being genuinely charming or if this guy just pities her. She hasn't been paying too much attention to his body language, so far down the shitter is her initiative to do so. She just wants to curl up in bed.
Being back in Gotham has been all right so far - preferable to the alternative, at least - but she can't seem to shake the cloud of dread that manifests each time she's not immediately busy with something. She figures it's stress-related. After all, there's so much to do in the coming months, just in regards to dealing with judges and lawyers. These things take ages, even if both parties are cooperative. She's not lucky enough to have the sort of divorce all little girls dream of...
She must have started to zone out because she's suddenly brought back by the man exclaiming, "I-I have pliers!"
Emma peers at him, quirking an eyebrow.
"For your door!" he elaborates. "I can't get you into your apartment, but I can at least get your key back!" Quieter, not meeting her gaze, he adds, "And then, you know, if you need to call someone...you're welcome to come in and use my phone."
Emma blinks, momentarily taken aback by this Good Samaritan. "Uh...yeah, that would be great! Thank you!" She reaches down and starts to collect her bags. "Good thing I bumped into one of the only nice people in the city."
While she's retrieving the last of her things, something at her feet catches her eye. There's a sealed envelope on the floor near where she was sitting earlier. Curious, she picks it up, and then balks at the name of the recipient.
"Woah!" She holds the envelope out incredulously. "This letter is addressed to Thomas Wayne! ...Did you drop this?"
Based on what Emma has seen of recent headlines, Thomas Wayne is a frontrunner in Gotham's upcoming mayoral election. As if Gotham doesn't have enough problems - the last thing the city needs is a pigheaded authoritarian billionaire running things. This guy who's been so kind as to help her couldn't possibly be a fan, right?
The man appears mildly annoyed, although not at her. Taking it from her outstretched hand, he says, "Yeah, I did. It's not mine, though - my...m-mother asked me to mail it." He rushes through that last part in a low voice, and Emma realizes he's embarrassed.
If he does still live with his mother, it's only natural that a man his age would feel insecure about it. She's always found the stigma silly, personally. What is Western culture's obsession with "leaving the nest" as soon as humanly possible, even to the child's detriment? Why, if Emma's parents were still around...
Never mind that.
She has no time to reassure her companion before he changes the subject. "I'll handle it later. I should help you first." With his free hand, he pulls out his key and goes to unlock the door to his apartment.
"Hang on a second!" Emma smacks her own forehead, and he freezes. "God, I'm so rude. What's wrong with me?" She shakes her head. "You're being extremely helpful, and I haven't even asked your name! Your real name, that is - I'd imagine it's not always Carnival, right?"
"Heh, right... My name's Arthur."
"Arthur," she repeats, not half minding the way it sounds in her own voice. "It's nice to officially meet you, Arthur."
Predictably, he looks flustered as he replies, "Yeah... Nice to see you again, Emma."
He unlocks the door, holding it open for her, and the smell of cigarette smoke mixed with high-end perfume wafts out. It's not her favorite scent in the world, but it's familiar - comforting, even.
Inside, gaudy pink plaid lines the walls, a sharp contrast to Eddie's taupe covered with band posters. The living room, or at least what she can see of it, is neat and tidy, despite the abundance of knick-knacks covering each surface.
Although, not a single family photo in sight, Emma notes. Some people simply don't have them lying around. She and Eddie are much the same way.
Lingering self-consciously in the foyer, she spots an older woman reclining in an armchair across the room. Arthur's mother, she presumes. Hearing the door, the woman turns and regards her, then Arthur, confusion plain on her features.
"Happy? I didn't know you were having company." Mild surprise colors her voice, affirming Emma's theory that Arthur doesn't get visitors often.
"It's just one of the neighbors, Ma! She's locked out!" he calls back. Squeezing past Emma, he slips into the kitchen and discards the Thomas Wayne letter on the counter. Rummaging through one of the drawers, he produces a pair of pliers rustier than the key that had gotten her into this mess.
"I'll be right back," he tells her. "The phone is in the hallway behind you, if you need to use it." And with that, he rushes back outside before she can even thank him.
Feeling Arthur's mother's eyes burning holes in the back of her head, she does step into the hallway, partly to call Eddie and partly to get out of her line of sight. Emma struggles to remember the number for his store, but breathes a sigh of relief when someone picks up on the third ring.
"G-String's, this is Ron."
Christ, she always forgets that's the name he decided on. "Ron, it's Emma. Is my brother there?"
Before he can answer, she faintly hears Eddie's voice in the background saying that, yes, he is still out of Pink Floyd's The Wall. "Yeah, he's right here, what's up?"
"Good. Listen, tell him I got locked out of the apartment, and I'm heading down to borrow his key." She dreads the walk. It's not far, but her arms are already sore from the shopping bags weighing them down.
Momentarily ignoring Emma, Ron starts talking away from the receiver. "Dude, it's your sister, she's locked outta the house... Okay, I'll tell her. Hey, Emma, he's on his way."
"What? I just said I'd-"
"Too late, he's grabbing his shit."
Emma groans. "Fine. Tell him I'm waiting for him in 8J."
"Will do." A pause. "So, uh... I hear you're single again-"
She hangs up.
She barely wanders back into the foyer when Arthur's mother surprises her by saying, "It's no use standing around over there. Sit down and make yourself comfortable, dear." She gestures vaguely to the sofa next to her.
Emma complies, stepping gingerly into the living room. She sits at the end of the couch, as far away as humanly possible, and sets her bags down underneath the coffee table, her arms crying out in relief.
"My brother should be here any minute," she begins sheepishly. "I'm so sorry to intrude like this, Miss..." She trails off.
"Penny," the woman supplies. "It's no trouble."
A stodgy local political forum is playing on the television. This is a particularly conservative broadcast by the sound of it, anchors harping primarily on Gotham's floundering economy and the ramifications of a potential garbage strike.
Penny is watching raptly, and Emma uses the opportunity to peer over at her. She certainly is done up to be sitting around at home. Sure, she's in button-up flannel pajamas, but she's also wearing a full face of makeup, and her graying hair, fading from strawberry-blonde, is curled. Underneath it all, the wrinkles on her face betray a beautiful visage. Emma feels oddly intimidated all of a sudden, trying to make a good impression on this woman who gives an air of having once been one of the most stunning girls in Gotham.
As if sensing her unease, Arthur returns. He hastily crosses the room and presents Emma with the other half of her key. "I'm sorry it took me so long... It was really in there."
She smiles gratefully up at him. "Oh, don't apologize. You totally saved my hide out there."
Still not quite on board with the whole eye contact deal, he busies himself by straightening up the coffee table. Lifting an empty mug, he looks up at Penny. "Oh, you finished your tea already. Want me to make more?"
"If it's not too much trouble."
"Of course!" He starts for the kitchen. "Emma, do you drink chamomile?"
She does, but politely declines, already feeling like she's taking advantage of his kindness. He only looks a little dejected by her refusal.
As Arthur bustles around the kitchen, silence descends upon the living room, save for the droning of the television. The subject has changed; the anchors have moved on from essentially blaming the working class for not making enough money to worshiping the ground their candidate Thomas Wayne walks upon. How original.
Penny practically lunges to raise the volume, startling Emma. "Did you mail my letter, Happy?" she interjects without looking away from the screen.
"I didn't make it downstairs yet." He assures her, "I'll do it before the mailman gets here."
"Don't forget. It's very important," Penny insists somewhat curtly.
"That Thomas Wayne is polling pretty high these days, isn't he?" Emma muses, attempting to make small talk.
Penny instantly perks up. "Yes, that's what everybody on the news is saying. It's a good thing he's running this year. He's exactly what this city needs, don't you think?"
Hardly, but Emma elects to keep her opinion to herself. Instead, she blurts out, "I met him a few years ago."
Penny looks positively awestruck. "You did, really? Oh, he's a wonderful man, isn't he?"
She did technically meet him, although she never spoke to him personally. It was at a benefit that Daniel had dragged her along to, so that he could network (code for smooth talk billionaires). They had conversed for a grand total of thirty seconds, shaken hands, and that was the end of that. He had come off every bit as arrogant and self-important as she would expect of the CEO of a multi-billion dollar industrial corporation. He and Daniel were two peas in a pod.
"...My husband seemed to like him."
The clattering in the kitchen stops cold.
The sudden absence of sound causes her to remember herself. "I mean, my ex - my ex-husband. Excuse me, I'm newly separated. Still getting used to it."
"So sorry to hear that," Penny tells her, not sounding in the least bit sympathetic. Not that Emma needs, or even wants, sympathy.
She instead returns to the previous subject, with Emma half-listening. Apparently, Penny worked for the Wayne family years ago, and is now chock-full of anecdotes from within Wayne Manor.
Emma smiles and nods along. Penny clearly sees her idol though rose-colored glasses, but there's no use telling her that. She must be delighted simply to have someone new to talk to, and Emma would hate to spoil it for her.
Arthur emerges with a steaming mug of chamomile tea and a facial expression that lets Emma know he's far sicker of these stories than she is. Nevertheless, he hands his mother the mug, giving her shoulder an affectionate pat.
The scene has her beaming up at the back of Arthur's head as something stirs deep within her. Something like the first sip of hot chocolate on a snowy morning, coursing through her veins and warming her from the inside out.
Before he can sit down, there's a loud knocking accompanied by a shout of "Hey, Em, you in there?"
"Ah, that's my cue." Emma gathers her things as Arthur hurries to answer the door. She says her goodbyes to Penny, but she's once again engrossed in her program and only offers a halfhearted "goodbye, dear" in return.
Eddie waits in the entryway, arms crossed, his voice booming in the otherwise quiet apartment. "Thanks for the excuse to break early today, ya lucky ladybug. You wouldn't believe some of the idiots coming into the store, you know what I'm saying?" He reaches down to ruffle her hair when she gets within range.
"Glad my misfortune was useful." She notices how Eddie completely towers over Arthur, whose hands fidget anxiously as he hangs back, unsure of what to do with himself. It's honestly sort of endearing how tiny he is, how she could probably lift him up if given the chance.
"I owe you one, Arthur. Knock if you ever need anything, okay?" Emma extends a hand, similar to their first meeting.
This time, Arthur immediately clasps her hand in his, with a grip that is equal parts firm and sweaty. "Okay, and the same goes for you." Eddie good-naturedly claps him once on the back, clearly taking him off-guard, and he drops her hand.
She's poised to head out when Arthur stops her, saying, "Oh, one more thing!"
He zips out of sight for just a moment before reappearing with a small, white box. "This is for you."
After all that, he's even giving her a gift? She starts to dissuade him, but he holds the box out toward her, close enough that social etiquette dictates she take it. And so she does, brows drawing together. "You're too nice, Arthur, thank you."
"Take care, man," Eddie says, finally ushering a confused Emma out the door.
When the door clicks shut behind them, he immediately fixes her with a long and pointed stare. For a second, Emma thinks he's pissed for having to walk all the way back home, but then he breaks the silence.
"So...you and the neighbor, huh?"
Emma tilts her head. "Me and the neighbor?"
"Lemme see this." He grabs the box out of her hands, ignoring her protests. A glance inside, and he shuts it again, raising his eyebrows at her in a nonverbal "I told you so" before handing it back and unlocking their door with a flourish.
"What? What is that face? What's in there?"
"A Cypi's croissant, Em? Oh, he's got it bad for you."
She snatches it back, indignant. "Ugh, you're delusional. I've met him once before; he probably just felt sorry for me." Although, she had really been craving one of those since she passed by the store on her walk this morning. What a happy coincidence.
"Don't be so naive. You have any idea how many girlfriends I've hit that place up for on Valentine's Day? You don't bust out the Cypi's unless you're seriously looking to drop some panties."
"Gross. Thanks for coming to get me, but never talk to me about panties."
It's strange to think that the seemingly mild-mannered, reticent man who gifted her a croissant has such a blood-curdling laugh. It would have been incredibly rude to bring it up today, when he had so kindly gone out of his way for her. Surely, there's a courteous method to broaching the subject? It would be unfortunate to hurt his feelings and topple the precarious acquaintanceship they were building.
She is pleasantly surprised that night when the walls are resoundingly, blissfully silent.
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Haunt, chapter two: Eventually, We All Float Baby.
Fandom: IT by Stephen King but like more based on the movies that came out in the recent years and not the novel or miniseries.
Summary: Shanice, Mike, Stan, Richie Ben, Bill, and Bev discuss the word ‘haunt’.
Word Count: 3,387
A/N: So, this basically turned into like an alternate, novelized version of the first movie's original script and partly aspects from the novel. Anyways I mainly wrote this for fun and to relieve stress so I hope you enjoy reading this!
The two get home, both weathered and tired. Leroy spots them and smiles at them like an old, amused tabby.
“Long day, you two?” The two siblings stay quiet, sitting at the dining table in mutual silence.
“Something happened while y’all two were out on collections?”
He pauses as if he knew the answer once the question flew from his mouth and onto the cold, wooden table. Shanice’s and Mike’s eyes dart from each other to the elderly man.
“Saw Baby Girl’s bike. Y’all have a run-in with the Bowers boy?” Mike gazes at his grandfather, then nods.
“That’s it? Hmmm, thought it was something else...”
“Something else like what?” His words catch Shanice’s attention.
“Dunno. Y’all tell me.” Shanice holds his gaze, clearly unhappy that he might be hiding something from her, but doesn’t question further--hell, she wouldn’t even know where to start if anything. Instead, she elaborates on the whole Bowers interaction.
“‘The Bowers boy?’ He mangled up my bike and almost killed us with his car--a total psychopath."
“Is that why do we live outside of town? Is it because of the Bowers?” Mike follows up, with questions of his own.
'Stay the fuck of out of my town!’ His words echo through her head, her hand make fists
"Granddaddy, are we outsiders?"
“No. We live out here because I want the best for my grandchildren." He says to his grandson, patting his shoulder before sighing at his granddaughter. "We're not outsiders. See, it’s not just the Bowers that ain’t right. It’s that whole town that’s wrong...” Silence once again overtakes the three.
Inching, aching, catching them by the throat.
“Do y’all know what a haunt is?”
An unknown fear.
Shanice had dreamed later that night. It was seven years ago.
She still had her family together.
She was at a grocery store, with her mother, their hands clasped--her mother was glowing, her toothy smile made her so happy she was speechless.
As she reached out to hold her mother, everything disappeared around her--her mother glanced at her with crimson hands. She wore horror on her round face, her hands trembling, shaking with fright.
Her mother looks at her.
“My baby, why didn’t you save me?”
Then, she smiles. Her grin wide, unsettling--yet, it drew her in.
The false sense of comfort that caressed her, that infantile warmth.
Shanice, grounded, shakes her head.
“Mama I--” Her mother holds her face in her hands--dirty metal and aging rust fill Shanice’s senses, and she closes her eyes.
“Mama, I’m so sorry. I was so scared.” Her mother laughed, bringing Shanice's head to her chest--the smell of Swisher Sweets, the ones her Mama used to smoke, calmed her down--she breathes in, wailing as she stroked her hair.
"There ain't no reason to be scared."
Shanice weeps, now alone with nothing but a bright, red balloon in her mother’s place--yet, her voice is still heard light, her soft giggle giddy.
"Eventually, we all float, baby."
There was something strange about Derry that Shanice couldn’t quite put her finger on. As she stood in the kitchen, frying eggs and stirring a pot of grits, she felt complex. She couldn’t sleep, the bags under her eyes were evidence of that. On top of everything, her monthly friend came around to give her terrible cramps. She’d be good for a day or before the red flood starts, but probably be better off She tries to get stuff off her mind by turning on her off-white boombox, with a New Edition song playing.
Mike appears. He looks as weathered as her.
“Hey, Mikey.” Shanice gives him a quick hug, planting a quick kiss on top of his head.
“You look like shit.”
“...you do too, Shay.” She shakes her head, tittering as a distant rooster sounds off.
“Imma go to the pharmacy--wanna come?”
When Mike shakes his head, she makes her way upstairs to change and go out. She gathers her dark, coiled hair into two puffy buns, settling on a pair of black shorts and a white t-shirt. After lacing up her red converses, she waves her brother goodbye with a gap-toothed smile.
She takes the long walk into town.
When she makes it Keene’s Pharmacy, she’s sweating, a bit fatigued. She notices a familiar head of ginger hair and notices the girl she’d seen while working at the school looking at a shelf of tampons and pads like it was a guillotine.
“Hey.” She looks startled, turning her sight at the small yet imposing girl. She's short than her--her dark eyes are big, deep-set--her grin makes her seem approachable, her head cocked to the side with her hands in her pockets.
"Thanks, I'm Bev."
“Shanice. Periods, they suck right? You look a little overwhelmed. Your Mama never told you about them?” At the mention of a mother, the girl shifts in a pretty floral dress.
“My...my mom’s not here anymore.”
She gives her a small, toothy smile.
“Mine isn't either. Good thing she taught me about that stuff. You’re looking at a five-year veteran.” She watches the girl’s face pale.
“Five years...” The girl trails off, before looking and hiding behind Shanice. Shanice looks in the direction that she glances and recognizes the girl’s voice--the girl from the bathroom. She finds a haughty-looking chewing gum quiet-loud before she explains, “Watch it, losers!” at a group of boys who pass her and her way out.
Glancing around the girl trembling behind her, with her voice dropped down to a whisper she asks, “Was that one of the girls from the bathroom”
She nods, only sighing relief when she realizes she’s gone.
“Are you ok?”
“Uh...I’m fine. So...when did you get it?”
Shanice gives her a confused look.
“Oh, the monthly thing. Nine.”
“Really? I didn’t know people got it that early, that's gotta suck.”
They continue to talk until she notices the girl glance at the boys coming in. They’re all chattering, inspecting each other's monetary means.
An older man stares at them sharply--then, locks eyes with Shanice before grumbling.
Shanice finds some products with good absorption levels, the group of boys staring at her with curiosity.
“Who are you?” Shanice smiles at Richie who seems to size her up.
"The name's Shanice. SHA-Niece. You can call me Shay." she says with emphasis, adding. "My family used to live here, before...”
“I’m Richie, that’s Bill, Stan, Eddie, Ben--and she’s--”
"Bev, I know. We met earlier."
The teenager nods, looking over as the aforementioned girl knocks down a cigarette display--the next thing she knows they’ve run out of the pharmacy, like bandits. Shanice finds herself following them into an alleyway, where Ben is being patched up due to a gnarly injury.
"W-We're going the quarry, wanna come?" She looks over at Bill, who asks the question to Beverly, but sheepishly looks back at her
“Y-you should come too.”
“Sure. See you around.” The two girls walk out of the alleyway, into the main street.
“Want me to walk you home?” Beverly looked at her with a flash of concern before nodding.
“Where do you live?” A breeze past them as they walk--as they stroll deeper, houses become noticeably different. A lot of them are older, abandoned, or hadn't been repairs in years.
It's a run-down area, neglected by the rest of the town.
“The outskirts.” She frowns.
“Dunno. The people in the town think my Granddaddy’s strange--but you know what I think? This weird town is mistaking who and what is really strange.”
The teenagers make it out to the quarry the next day. Shanice finds Beverly standing off to the side, now sporting a bob.
“New Haircut?” Bev, hearing her voice putting her hand to her hair absentmindedly.
“It suits you, I think it’s cool. You look a lot like Molly Ringwald.”
The boys, who have stripped to their underwear, are contemplating who should jump first.
“Who’s first?” Bill inquiries.
“Eddie?” The fourteen-year-old rebuttals, “Screw that.”
Shanice and Bev who stand off the shadow look at each-other.
“They’re a gang of sissies.” Shanice stifles her laughter, before doubling over.
“Right? Inviting us over and acting like a bunch of wusses!” For a moment, silence befalls the girls, only the boy’s chatter can be heard--then, Beverly gives the girl a look, a wild one, dripping with adrenaline.
“Hey, wanna jump?”
The two quickly discard their clothing--a pair of denim overalls and plain summer dress--before bolting as fast as their legs could muster, their hands clasped, jumping into the murky waters below.
After a while, everyone is out of the water, resting on rocks while Shanice finds solace in the sort-of cool temperature of the water. On Richie’s boombox, a song, one that made her bob her head slightly, she finds herself singing along in a small voice,
“I’m alive, huh, huh, so alive...”
Her body goes deeper, the sound of the music becomes muted. She felt like she was being tugged, something was her pulling away--when she realizes, it's too late. She's seized, water begins filing her mouth, nose, the sight of a balloon rising above her field of underwater vision--
Shanice wakes up, coughing up violently. Her body’s laid flat out on a scalding rock, all around her are the teenagers, still soaking wet in their undergarments. Dread overcomes, her throat burns as if it’s been choked--the Stan looks over at her concerned, his curly hair puffy, tangled like a bird’s nest.
His cheeks are flushed--he looks frazzled if anything.
“What the fuck...” She mutters before coughing up more water.
“Are you ok?”--Stan asks, his face inches away from hers--they lock eyes for a moment before he looks away, even more flustered--the chain event leaves her puzzled as she tries to catch her breath.
“Not bad for almost dying,” She jokes, sitting up.
“Did you guys drag me out?”
"Nope, Stan the Man dived in when he saw you were gone." Richie quips--Shanice gives Stan a jovial smile.
After she pulls away and walks over to her backpack to pull out her bottled water.
“So? Aren’t we gonna talk about how Stan slobbered all over her li--” Shanice stops and looks over Richie with a raised brow.
“Nothing--it’s nothing,” Richie says, drawing his attention to something else--with that something else being Ben’s backpack. Shuffle through it, he pulls out books--lots of them.
“You went to the library? On your own? For fun?”
“Oh, uh, when I moved here I didn’t have anyone to hang out with or anything, so I just started spending time in the library.” Shanice grins while Richie frowns.
“Seriously? You went to the library? On your own? For fun?”
“He's 'cultured' or whatever,” Shanice notes, shaking her drenched hair before continuing, “girls like that kinda stuff sometimes.” She gestures to him inches in for a better look at the copies of newspaper stories Ben had gathered.
“Derry’s not like any town I moved to. And we’ve moved a lot. Did you guys know people die violently here or disappear like six times the national average?” Ben states, gaining the wide eyes of the teens in the process.
“That’s just adults. Kids are worse. Way worse.”
“You know, my granddaddy said that.” The group's eyes glance at their oldest, with morbidly curious stares.
“Said what?” Beverly asks--Shanice reminds her of what they talked about on the way to her house.
“Like I said yesterday ...that this whole town’s wrong. He’s been here for a while. Seen things, probably.”
A unanimous shiver occurs.
“I’ve got more stuff if you wanna see it...at home.”
Shanice could call his room one thing. Messy--indicative of a boy. Covering every inch of his bedroom walls were more newspaper clippings--some dating back a whole century.
“This is pretty impressive,” Shanice croons, amazed, sipping on her bottle of water.
“Cool, huh?” Ben replies.
“No.” Richie says with immediate denial.
Bill's off in a corner, looking at an ‘ancient’ paper--as Shanice looks closer, she sees it says ‘INCORPORATION OF THE TOWNSHIP OF DERRY’.
“What’s this, Ben?
“The charter for Derry Township--it’s kind of interesting, actually. Derry started as a beaver trapping camp.”
“Still is. Am I right, boys?” Everyone looks at Richie who grins--it’s quiet until Shanice retorts with a snort “That joke is almost as funny drying paint.” Beverly shakes her head, hiding her smile while everyone has a good laugh at his expense.
“So it’s a record of them coming over here--what makes it so special.” Ben raises his eyebrows, almost relieved the conversation managed to get back to its original point.
“Ninety-one people signed the charter that made Derry. But then, later that winter, they all disappeared, without a trace.”
Everyone stops--the only sound that could be heard was the breeze from out the house. Ninety-one people--gone, just like that. In Shanice’s head, possibilities run. Diseases? Famine? Sure, that can happen--but everyone--every last, single person?
Eddie looks particularly spooked by the information, cautiously asking “The entire camp?”
“There were rumors of Indians but no sign of an attack. Others thought it was a plague or something. It was like everyone just woke up one day and left. The only clue was a big hole in the ground where the wellhouse was.”
“Jesus, we could get Derry on unsolved mysteries!” Ignoring Richie’s quip, Bill asks “Wh-where was the wellhouse?”
“Somewhere in town, I guess...”
“What’s the point of all this? What are you gonna do with it?” Stan asks--Shanice herself wondered it too.
Truthfully, he shrugs, saying “Dunno. Just killing time I guess.”
“Can you do the deliveries by yourself today?” Shanice asks her brother, she stood beside the bathroom, brushing her teeth. The teenager gives her glance, then nods his head. She smiles, taking her tired body back to the room, quickly slipping on her white summer dress and her sneakers--making her way down the stairs, stops her in her tracks at the sound of her grandfather's weary voice.
“Be safe.” Shanice looks at him, before pecking his cheeks, hugging him tightly.
“Ok, I love you.”
“Love you too, Shanice.”
Later on that day, Shanice finds herself going about absent-mindedly. She had nightmares again--so many more since she moved to Derry--since everything happened.
There was a common theme with her nightmares--the inclusion of a red balloon--but what did it mean?
She walks and walks until he finds herself in the neighborhood where Bev lived, when--she notices the whole group gathers on the sidewalk, in front of her place.
“Hey...what’s going on?”
“Bev called. She’s freaked out about something... Sh-sh-she told us to wait out here until--”
A door bursts open--it’s Beverly, out of breath, spooked.
“You made it. I need to show you guys something...Shanice you--”
“Uh, hey. I ran into the guys while I was out. What’s up?”
Ben follows her question with, “Yeah, what is it?”
“Did we just win the Publisher's Clearinghouse ten million dollar sweepstakes? If Ed McMahon is in there I’m going to lose my sh--” Shanice glances before giving him a sharp punch in the arm.
“Read the room, Dummy.”
“I just need to know I’m not crazy. But my Dad will kill me if he finds out I had you guys over.”
“We’ll leave a lookout. Richie?” Bill says as he looks at the teen who’s still rubbing his arm.
“Yeah, whatever. Ed McMahon can wait...”
Shanice gives him a look before they head inside her house. The light shines through the desolate feeling house as they follow her--farther into the house--until she stops in front of a door.
“In there,” Beverly says, her voice a fine to a whisper. Stan, who was beside Shanice asks, “What are we about to walk into?”
“You’ll see.” She doesn’t open the door--she seems rooted in her place--instead, it’s Bill who opens the door with her and Eddie following after --and the smell hits Shanice like a slap to the face. Her eyes were wide, visibly shaken. She doubles back until her back is against the wall and she falls on her bottom.
“You see it?” Beverly asks Bill.
“The sink. It came out from there. My Dad couldn’t see it. I thought I was going crazy...” Shanice looks over at Bill, breathing heavily.
“You’re not going crazy. I saw something too. I-I, I saw Georgie.”
“Like a ghost?” Eddie asks, trying to avoid looking into the room again.
“N-no. He tried to get me to go into the basement with him. It wasn’t just him either. I saw this other... I don’t know."
“What’d you see, Bill?” Stan presses,
“And red balloons?” Shanice says immediately after Eddie, loud enough for everyone to hear. Bill doesn’t have a thing to say, only his silence the answer. They both shake, Shanice is trying to keep calm, while Eddie full-on freaks out.
“Are you two okay?” Beverly asks, concerned.
“Go outside. Keep Richie company, okay?” Eddie nods, Shanice shakes her head.
“You don’t look fine.”
“I am. Look, let’s just focus on cleaning this blood up.”
“R-Right, we can’t leave it like this.”
Cleaning--cleaning, cleaning, covered in blood.
Bill, Ben, Beverly, Stan, and Shanice spent time cleaning the bathroom, full of blood only they could see. Stan crouches next to her and asks, “Are you really, ok?” the sixteen-year-old glances over him, continuing to clean.
“I’m ok, I said before. I’m just...tired. This town makes me tired.”
Soon after they’re finished and exit the building, going down to Kansas Street.
“All that blood at your place and you s-say your folks didn’t see any of it... Last night at my house, with Georgie and the water, my Dad just acted like everything was normal--I think if you’re a grown-up...” Bill trails off, looking off into the distance.
“They can’t see it.” Eddie chimes in, which in turn Richie questions: “Can’t see what?”
“It.” Beverly answers.
“That’s why the cops won’t help, our parents, teachers...”
The group of kids stops, while Shanice continues to walk until she sees it--her brother’s mangled bike in a bush.
“That’s my brother’s bike.” She looks over at Bill, her face in a deep frown, rage bubbling in her chest.
"It’s..it's that Bowers guy again, that’s why y'all stopped, right?”
“We have to help him,” Beverly says, seeing Shanice runoff, already in hot pursuit of her brother and the gang of high-schoolers.
“We do?” Richie snorts, watching the same, to which Bill replies, “If we don’t, who will? That could be any one of us.”
Shanice runs and runs, only stopping when she’s greeted by the sight of her brother's face being shoved in the same meat they deliver every week.
“Hey, you fuck faces!” Shanice yells, her voice being drowned out by their laughter and tithers, she meets her brother's eyes as he tries to crawl to her--only yanked back by the
A rather large rock first hits one of the boys, straight in the face, leaving blood gushing from his face. The assailant is Shanice, who's backup came in the form of Beverly, Bill, Richie, Eddie, and Stan.
“Holy shit!” Richie exclaimed, staring at the girl who was still throwing blows.
“Nice throw.” Stan compliments, although the armed girl hadn’t heard him--she was busy trying to save her brother.
Seeing the bullies distracted, she hurriedly yelled, “Mike, run!”
The boy scrambles to his feet, into the arms of his sister, who squeezes him tight.
The two siblings seemed to have reunited, beside them was an all-out rock war.
Rocks fly in the air, everyone ducks, hoping not to get hit by the hail of fire. When they realize they’ve been outmanned, Bill, their unassigned leader, screams for them to run.
“Mike, get on my back.”
They race until they find themselves back on a residential street. Everyone’s catching their breaths, tired from the sudden encounter.
Mike looks at the teenager whilst standing beside his sister relenting, “Thanks but you shouldn’t have done that. He’ll be after you guys now too.”
“Bowers? He’s always after us.” Eddie says and the rest shrugs in reply.
“I-I guess that’s one thing we all have in common,” Bill remarks, almost with a bit of sarcasm, while Richie full-on deadpans.
“Yeah, welcome to the Losers Club.”
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Chapter 27 - Wonder whose arms will hold you good and tight (when it’s exactly twelve o’clock that night) [part 2]
Birds Of a Feather
(In the previous chapters: Layla and some of the guys are trying to prepare a decent New Year’s Eve party, while Eddie and Sara went to watch the final installment of The Godfather saga; an attempt of Ed to become closer to Sara failed miserably)
“Ok, so, I have a ball”
Sara was still shaken when she got home and it took her awhile to steady her hand and insert her key correctly into the lock. But what she heard Layla say from the living room, as soon as she pushed the door open, managed to break the bubble of numbness she fell into after the movie.
“Alright, go on” Mike prompted Layla to continue as he was sitting right in front of her on the couch, together with the other friends who were forming a sort of semicircle around the girl.
“I’ll give it to you, then I’ll give it to you, then to you, and you…” she went on with the game Sara knew too well, addressing the guys one by one “Then I’ll give it to you, Sara, hi!”
Everybody in the room turned to greet Sara briefly, only to focus back on Layla a moment later.
“Then I’ll pass it to Mike again, then to Stone. Who’s got the ball?” the girl concluded and asked.
“SARA!” Mike shouted animatedly.
“Hi to you too, Cready. I see you’re already in overdrive despite the early hour” Sara smirked as she hung her jacket and approached the group.
“I’m very happy you’re here Miss Fancini but… I wasn’t talking to you, that was my answer to Layla’s game. And I bet I’m right, am I not?” Mike talked gently to her, then turned to question Layla with almost crazy eyes.
“No, it’s actually Chris who has the ball” the girl shrugged.
“CHRIS?! How can it be Chris? You didn’t even look at him!” Jeff complained from his seat.
“It’s Chris, sorry guys. Wanna try again?”
“No, thanks, I’m already tired of this and I guess I’m not the only one, am I right guys?” Stone tried to stop the game, not because he was actually bored, but more to prevent the mess his bandmates were gonna make until they’d find the solution.
“OVER MY DEAD BODY!” Mike blurted out.
“Nobody’s leaving until we guess the right answer” Jeff added.
“You mean until I guess the answer” the guitarist pointed out.
“Yeah that’s exactly what I meant: until I guess the correct answer, ha!” Ament retorted.
<Fuck, this is gonna be rich…> Stone thought as he sipped his beer and enjoyed the show.
“Shall I do it again then or not?” Layla chimed in during the verbal fight and everybody nodded yes.
“Right. Now… as y’all know by now, I have a ball” she added with a devilish smile.
“Shut up Stone! Go on, babe” Jeff yelled and the girl was almost surprised the bass player was using an endearment term to call her instead of the usual Four Eyes or other funny nicknames.
<He’s probably being kind only to get some hints> she soon realized.
“I pass the ball to Matt, then I give it to you” Layla pointed at Sara and then at different guys in the room and in the end she asked again who had the ball.
“Is it Jeff?” Chris tried to guess out of the blue.
“Yes, Chris, it’s Jeff! Good job! But why?” the girl pointed at Cornell who suddenly had all eyes on him.
“YOU! HOW DID YOU DO IT?!” Mike yelled at the singer who wasn’t really aware of being at the center of the attention in that moment.
“I don’t know, I thought… maybe alf… alp… you know the letters, as they go…” Chris hardly mumbled something.
“ALPHABETICAL ORDER! IS IT? I KNOW IT IS! AM I RIGHT?” Jeff basically stole Cornell’s answer since he wasn’t in his own mind.
“No, that’s not the right answer” Layla shook her head no but Jeff insisted.
“What? Of course it’s the alphabet! You said it was Chris, then me”
“Did you forget I was the one who had the ball on the first round?” Stone added with an annoyed voice “Then it was Matt, then me again. What kind of alphabet do they teach in Montana?”
“Oh right…” Jeff sulked then squinted as if he was trying to concentrate more on the possible solution.
“You’re following an order anyway, are you?” Matt asks.
<The first question of the evening with some sense, thank God> Layla sighed internally.
“No, that’s the point, I’m not following any specific order” she replied but someone misunderstood the answer.
“ARE YOU TELLING ME YOU’VE BEEN MAKING FUN OF US FOR AN HOUR AND YOU’RE JUST CALLING PEOPLE RANDOMLY?!” Mike stood up but Sara pulled him down on the couch.
“Hey, just relax! That’s not what she meant” she admonished him.
“I only meant I’m not following an order but THERE IS a reason why I’m calling people. The reason is that… they’ve got the ball” Layla explained calmly and Mike’s face finally turned back to its natural color.
“So it’s because of something we got…” the guitarist nodded but ignored something that someone else was ready to point out.
“… And how did you know what she really meant, Sara?” Stone asked right when someone rang the doorbell.
“Right! How did you fucking know?” Ament growled and all of a sudden Sara was the focus of the whole attention.
“Well, that’s because I was the one who taught her this game” she candidly replied, reaching into a bowl of chips.
“WHAT?” Mike gasped and the doorbell rang again.
“Err, isn’t anybody going to answer the door?” Layla said, timidly standing up.
“Lemme do this, so I can put an end to this stupid cross-examination” her best friend was quicker than her, and went to the front door munching.
“Oh, it’s you” she dead-panned, taking a step to the right to let Eddie enter the apartment.
“Yeah, I-I just took a walk” he said, stepping inside “Where’s everybody?”
“In the living room, wasting time without getting anything done” she shrugged and made her way to the other room, with the guy right behind her.
“Hey, it’s Eddie!” Mike enthusiastically greeted him, then patted the space beside him “C’mere, buddy, our dear Layla has been entertaining us with the most mind-blowing game that mankind could ever experience!”
“Is that so?” the singer smiled at the girl, then plopped himself where his bandmate had pointed.
“It is, indeed!” Cornell chimed in, then looked in Sara’s direction “And her friend, here – what was your name again, darling?”
“I can’t believe this… you’re so full of shit, Chris” she snorted, stuffing again her face with other chips “Audrey Hepburn, that’s how people call me”
“I can see why, the two of you could practically be sisters!” he retorted, sipping some beer for the umpteenth time “Anyway, as I was saying, miss Hepburn here has confessed to be the one who taught miss Layla this trick of the mind, so we’re gonna extort the solution from her!”
“... Over my dead body”
“Nobody’s gonna reveal anything to anyone, you’re all gonna play honestly and ask questions and find the solution using reasoning and deduction” Layla tried to have the guys focus on the game.
“In that case I think you’d better go and buy an inflatable number 2 balloon because we’ll most likely be still here one year from now without knowing the solution” Stone said, making Layla laugh.
<Why is she laughing? Does she think I’m joking?>
“Haha, come on! It’s easy! Ok, Eddie you probably don’t know but… I have a ball!”
“Alright” Eddie tried to concentrate, especially because he didn’t want to make a poor figure with the girl.
“I give it to you first”
“Then I’ll give it to Mike, then back to you, then back to Mike once again. Then I’ll pass it to Sara, then back to you. Who’s got the ball?”
“Uhm… I got the ball”
“WHAT?” Jeff yelled.
“Beginner’s luck” Mike mumbled between gritted teeth.
“Because.. I was the last one to get it?” Eddie tried to guess.
“Pfffft! As if it was that easy!” the bass player snorted and had a sudden revelation “Wait, it’s because he arrived last! You’re following the order in which we arrived, right?”
“Nuh-uh, I’m following no specific order, I told you! And Eddie’s answer was only 50% correct anyway” Layla went on and dropped another hint.
“What do you mean?” this time it was Stone that asked, taking it personally: he pretended he didn’t care but he felt he HAD to find the solution.
“Somebody else has got the ball too” El shrugged and the guys went nuts.
“WHAT THE HELL??” Mike cried.
“... Two balls?” Jeff followed.
“Balls usually come in pairs anyway” Chris joked and the room went silent for a couple of seconds before everyone burst out laughing.
“Hahaha, you idiot! By the way, Eddie and Chris both have the ball”
“Sara, please, put an end to this. Can’t you see we’re suffering?” Matt chimed in, still in stitches.
<Weeeell, if YOU ask me, I can’t say no> Sara pondered and it was like her roommate could read her mind.
“… NO FUCKING WAY” she hissed and in that instant Sara knew that, since the F word was pronounced, hell could start any minute now.
“I don’t wanna know the answer, I wanna play! Try me again” Eddie clapped his hands and winked at Layla.
<If I had an actual ball, by now I’d have squeezed it until it exploded…> the girl thought as she went back to being her usual smiley self, trying to act nonchalant.
“That's because you’ve just arrived! We’ve been racking our brains over this fucking ball for an hour!” Ament complained, then turned around and, unexpectedly, offered his best puppy eyes to someone else “Ok, Sara, what do you want to spill the beans?”
“Cough, cough! I have a ball!” Layla ignored the comments and started it all over, while the other girl gestured zipping up her own lips.
“Please!” the bass player pleaded once more, and Sara turned her face just in time – apparently, the puppy eyes were working better than her expectations suggested.
“I’ll give it to Mike, then to Matt, then I’ll give it to you, Sara, then I’ll keep it to myself.” the other girl continued, adding another new element “Now, who’s got the ball?”
“Now I can see: balls are brain cells going lost during this game” Stone joked but was immediately shushed by everyone.
“Is it… Mike?” Eddie tried.
“No! It’s Matt and Stone”
“... Jesus Christ” Mike face-palmed, letting himself fall on the floor.
“And nooow, Sara and I are gonna give you all a moment to ponder” Layla stood up and literally pulled up her friend from the couch and dragged her away from the living room.
“El, I don’t know what’s happening to me but I’m starting to pity them. The caveman even begged me! Maybe I should give them the solution…” Sara remarked, still surprised by how low Jeff could stoop to have the solution.
<Pity, sure… and Matt’s charming smile has got nothing to do with it, right?> Layla thought as she pushed her friend even more away from the gang’s protests.
“C’mon, you don’t have to stay here and tell ‘em the answer!” she exclaimed, while the other girl rolled her eyes.
“Look, I’m not partaking in this madn-”
“Run along, you have to get changed and ready for the party! There’s no time to waste by dawdling here!” she took Sara by the shoulders and dragged her until they were in front of Jeff’s ex-room “I’m sorry but for the hair and make-up this time you’re kinda on your own, I have to supervise the preparations”
“Great loss, now I’m actually offended” the younger girl dead-panned and then faked a noble, detached voice “You’re free to go, servant”
“Your Grace is so full of understanding, I shall never thank you enough!” Layla laughed and quickly went back to the living room, afraid of how many different kinds of damage could be awaiting for her, while Sara finally opened the door in front of her.
“Nice try, El” she smirked, eyeing the jumpsuit that was lying on her bed “It would be a real shame if somebody were to completely ignore your innocent suggestion…”
The girl caressed the velvety texture of the clothing and simultaneously went for one of the dresser’s drawer handles, pulling it towards her without looking at it, but it was apparently stuck.
“Oh, fuckin’ great… That asshole obviously couldn’t check if the room was falling to pieces before chivalrously lending it to me” she muttered, trying again with more strength; once again, the drawer didn’t budge.
“This is ridiculous – whatever, just lemme grab something quick from the closet so El won’t feel the urge to bug m-”
While she was pulling, Sara heard a faint metallic sound, so she looked better and finally found the bitter truth: the closet and every single drawer inside her room had been sealed up with a plethora of lockets.
“What in tHE FLYING FUCK IS GOING ON HERE??? EEEEEEEEEL!” she roared, running away from that living nightmare and demanding immediate explanations from her so-called best friend.
“I can’t see why you’re making a fuss about this? You love that jumpsuit, don’t you?” Layla was rubbing her temples as she tried to stay calm and talk to her friend through the door, which had been locked by Sara from the inside.
<I should have made the room keys disappear, how could I forget?>
“Yeah, I love it, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I want to wear it!”
“It’s lovely and looks great on you and I didn’t buy it for you to keep it in your closet forever! I wanna see my present finally put into good use”
That seemed to shut Sara up, leaving her with her mouth open but no words coming out of it.
“And I bet everybody’s gonna love it, especially the guys!” Layla added, making the worst mistake.
“... OH YEAH, THAT WILL SURELY BE THE MAIN REASON FOR ME TO WEAR IT” her best friend regained consciousness “PLEASING GUYS IS MY MISSION IN LIFE” she roared back, while Layla tried to convince her to lower her voice.
“Shhhhhh fuck, I was almost there!” the girl cursed at herself for talking too much and went back grasping at straws “Who said anything about pleasing anyone? I just meant that they’ll appreciate your party outfit and won’t make any unpleasant remarks about it. Plus they’re mostly drunk, what they say makes no sense anyway, so who cares? And since when do you care about men’s opinion? A bunch of guys now stop you from doing what you like or wearing what you want?”
“THAT DOESN’T MAKE ANY GODD-wait a minute, it actually makes sense”
“Of course it does! Come on, get out of that room, please” Layla insisted, pleased with herself for pushing Sara’s right buttons.
“... I don’t know, it seems like a stupid thing to do; after all, it’s you who wants me to wear the jumpsuit, not me”
“Jesus…” Sara’s friend rolled her eyes “Right, since you don’t wanna wear it, don’t do it. But remember I’ve got all the keys so I’m really curious about what your alternative choice of clothes will be in the end”
“My pajamas would work too, you know?”
Layla wanted to smash her own head against the wall or against the door so she could open it and put an end to this, when she finally came up with something.
“Alright, put your pjs on… Wait, that’s not a bad idea at all! Let’s all put pajamas and turn this into a slumber New Year’s Eve party! Sara, you’re a genius”
“... I didn’t think you would have agreed with my idea, but-”
“I’m gonna go and tell the others! I heard Jeff sleeps in the nude, did you know that?”
“YOU HEARD WHAT?!”
“There she is! Where have you been? We were talking about you!” Matt waved to a girl who was slowly pushing her way through the crowd, and the whole group of people near him turned around to see who was coming.
“All good things, I hope”
“If you’re dressed like that? Always, Sara” the drummer winked at her, then threw his arm around her shoulder and pulled her closer to him; needless to say, the girl blushed to the roots of her hair.
“Is that a jumpsuit with the zodiac?!” she heard a loud gasp and turned in the direction of another girl, shorter than her and clinging to her boyfriend’s arm, whose eyes were literally shining.
“Yep, it is”
“That is so gorgeous! Can I come closer to better see it?”
“Yeah, no problem”
“Oh my God, you’re an angel! Thank you!” the other girl almost squealed in excitement, then jumped in front of her and began to study her garment “This is real velvet, I can’t believe it! Where did you find this gem?!”
“I think it’s that shop in Pike Place… Vintage Clothing?”
“... the place where Xana used to work” the girl had turned to face again her boyfriend and share a knowing look with him, then refocused on her “I doubt I’ll ever find something as cool as this, but thanks for the tip”
She offered her a genuine smile and her hand to shake: “I’m Demri, by the way, and this is my boyfriend Layne”
“I was the one who told ‘em to come, hope it’s alright!” Chris chimed in, giving a nudge to the Alice In Chains singer.
“You did the right thing, Cornell; they’re cool enough to hang with us losers” Sara grinned, then waved back at Layne “Hiya to you as well, stranger; how are your bandmates doing?”
“Oh, Jerry is with a girlfriend of his and Sean and Mike went to do a tour of some of the hundreds of parties that this city has to offer – but I wonder how Mike will react when I tell him that I went to the same party that you attended” the guy smirked at her “Did he come to visit you at your workplace?”
“Nope, thank God”
“Fear not: he will… soon”
“He’s gonna get me fired! Please, can’t you come with him so you can keep him at bay? Pretty please”
“Hey, it’s not my fault if he doesn’t understand a single thing when you’re nearby… his brain short-circuits”
“So you’re the one who has poor Mike wrapped around her finger! I can see why” Demri joined them again, giving the girl a little nudge “If it helps any, he seems pretty serious about it – I, for once, have never seen him acting like that before”
“I don’t know, I’m not that keen on trusting men… seems like a waste of time” Sara shrugged, then followed Layla with her gaze: she was talking with Stone and Ed and seemed really invested in drinking what was inside her glass.
“Can I get one more try?” Eddie pleaded Layla, who was chatting and drinking with him and Stone in the middle of the living room among the party guests.
“No, you can’t” Gossard answered in her place, officially because he was fed up with the game, but actually because he wanted to be the one to guess the solution right.
“Sure you can! But, as I said, I’ll tell the solution after midnight” the girl replied sipping her sangria through a straw.
“Alright, alright eheh, no pressure, I swear” Eddie put his hands out laughing and his guitarist friend rolled his eyes so hard for a moment he thought his retinas detached.
<No pressure? Tsk, that’s your problem, man. What about putting a little pressure on this girl for a change?>
“Ok so I have a ball, then I-” Layla started but was soon interrupted by a stranger’s voice behind her back.
“Who’s got a bong?” Stone didn’t need to look up to the person who spoke to know who it was and a smile appeared on his face.
“Hey Lukin! I thought you’d never come” Gossard patted his friend on his back.
“Uhm, now that’s not something I hear that often... too bad you’re not a girl, Stoney.” Matt replied and finally noticed the other two people looking at him with the same perplexed expression on their face “Hi, so where’s this bong of yours? I’m ready”
Layla laughed as the guy clapped his hands once and then rubbed them together.
“She said ball, not bong, you asshole!” Stone explained barely holding his laughter.
“Yeah, right, hehe, it’s a game, you know? Anyway, I’m Layla, nice to meet you” she stretched her hand out and he looked at it suspiciously before shaking it.
“Nice to meet you too. But you shouldn’t play with people’s feeling and promise bongs that are not actually there. That’s not nice at all”
“Oh, sorry… well, I’m sure somebody brought something to smoke, don’t worry” Layla was almost apologizing for doing nothing and that made both Eddie and Stone laugh.
“Who needs bongs? We can always make a pipe out of a can, do you remember?” Stone said referring to older times.
“Yeah, and that’s when we came up with the motto Who needs a bong when you have coke?” Lukin explained, suddenly serious, as he was a teacher talking to his students.
“Smoking through a coke can? Isn’t it dangerous, with the chemicals and everything?” the girl retorted.
“Chemicals are not as dangerous as Matt Lukin” Stone remarked while Eddie introduced himself too.
“Nothing’s as dangerous as Matt Lukin!” another guy came up from out of nowhere and put his hands on Stone and Matt’s shoulders, then his attention focused on the girl in the small circle “Layla?? Hiiiiii!”
The color drained from the girl’s face once she recognized the guy’s face.
“Steve! Hi!” she faked an excessively big smile and both Eddie and Stone, although for different reasons, noticed something was off.
“Wait, do you know each other?” Stone asked confused.
“Well, either they do or they’re champs at Guess my name” Lukin pointed out.
“Huh… well, yeah, I know her, she’s the girl who works at Scarecrow Video”
“THAT ONE?? OUCH!” Matt almost yelled, only until Steve squeezed his shoulder very hard.
“Yeah, and I know him as a customer, ehehehe” Layla went on.
<... And as the guy who asked me out and I had to turn down> Layla told herself as she thought about Steve coming to the shop and striking up a conversation with an excuse to get to know her. She didn’t understand he was flirting with her – not even the fact he used to come over to the shop ever so often opened her eyes. The fact he started to rent at least a couple of movies every day gave her a sneaky suspicion.
“And how do you know each other? I’m Eddie, by the way” Vedder tried to make his handshake as firm as he could.
“Yeah, I’m good at Guess My Name too” Eddie continued.
“The new singer, huh? Well, Stone and I used to be in the same band. Did you tell them about Green River or is it a taboo topic?” Turner joked trying not to make it too obvious that he was drooling all over Layla. When he asked her out and she turned him down, he didn’t take it too well. He knew she had a boyfriend, she didn’t miss a chance to casually drop his name during their conversations.
<But he wasn’t in Seattle after all… I mean, he was in a different city, in a different state… he was in fuckin’ Massachusetts! Why waste your time and your youth with a long distance relationship?>
“Oh yeah, you told me you were in a band! But I think it was a different band, or I didn’t get the name right maybe” Layla chewed on her lower lip trying to remember the band name he had told her.
“I told you about Mudhoney, that is my current band”
“MUDHONEY! That’s it, yeah, now I remember!”
“Well, now I’m in Mudhoney with this guy over here and another couple of guys, who are not at the party”
<Thank God!> Stone thought, picturing a fist fight between Mark Arm and Sara as very likely.
“He said that guy over here because he doesn’t remember my name anymore” Lukin said shrugging.
“He remembered hers though… and she remembered his, he must be a regular customer, right?” Vedder realized his comment was out of place the moment he said it but it was too late.
“Yeah, sort of… not now though, I mean, not as much as I used to” Steve answered.
“Oh, and why?”
“Well-” Turner started to speak but Layla interrupted him out of the blue.
“I’ve never tried with a coke can but once I smoked pot through a carrot” the girl gave her statement and Matt’s attention focused on her right away.
“And once I got high with a snorkeling mask too”
“WHAT??” Stone and Eddie yelled at the same time, as they probably found the second option weirder than the first one for some reason.
“I like your attitude. Can I become a regular too?” Lukin suggested, then turned towards Steve “Ehm, can I? I’ve got no bad intentions, I swear”
This exchange didn’t go unnoticed to Stone and most of all to Eddie, so Layla had to come up with another diversion. She started jumping and waving around her arms like the wings of an eagle, apparently wanting to get everybody’s attention.
“HEY GUYS! WHO WANTS TO PLAY A GAME?”
“Another one?” Jeff walked up to Layla and then acknowledged the rest of the group “Hey, hi guys!”
“Yeah, we haven’t even finished the first one yet!” Stone complained.
“Oh but I wasn’t thinking about a riddle, I meant something different, like a group game” the girl explained trying to ignore both Steve staring at her and Eddie staring at Steve.
<Is this some kind of weird Mexican stand-off or something?> Layla asked herself in disbelief.
“Make it a drinking game and I’m in” Lukin gladly accepted.
“I had no doubt about it” Steve laughed.
“MAKE IT STRIP POKER AND I’M IN TOO!” Mike yelled as he appeared out of thin air, coming back from one of his frequent trips to the bathroom.
“Cready, I swear to fuckin’ God, if I hear you babblin’ one more time about this heckin’ strip poker, you can bet your sweet ass I’m gonna tie you up to a chair and force you to listen to Barry Manilow non-stop until your brain oozes out of your nose like fuckin’ pudding, understood?!” Sara had just stomped in their direction, making her opinion about the guitarist’s suggestion crystal clear.
“... you’re no fun, Sara” McCready gave her his signature puppy eyes, along with a big pout, but the girl replied with a punch on his arm.
“Yeah, in fact I’m not joking at all: you know I can do it and I will, so don’t tempt me”
“Sara Fancini? Is that you? I can’t believe it” Steve chimed in and finally Sara turned around and registered his face.
“... Well, I’ll be damned! Steve Turner!” she replied surprised.
“If we were playing the drinking version of Guess the Name as I’ve been suggesting for hours, I’d be already drunk now” Lukin mirrored Mike’s pouting face while a bunch of guests had stopped to see what was happening.
“You know her too. Wow. Are you a regular at Easy Street Records too?” Eddie narrowed his eyes at Turner as he addressed him.
“I’ve known this guy for longer than six years, what do you mean ‘a regular’? A regular loser? A regular pain in the ass? Oh wait, you’re not in Jeff’s band anymore, so you might stand a chance in life, after all” Sara smirked and couldn’t help catching a glimpse of Ament’s angry face when she said that.
“I haven’t seen you for a while though, I didn’t remember you being so harsh” Steve pointed out with a smile.
“... You tell me” Jeff remarked through fake coughing.
“Oh right, you were in their band and Sara knew you back then” Eddie finally joined the dots.
“Earth calls Eddie, Earth calls Eddie. Good morning Eddie, glad you’re finally back with us” Stone joked prompting an awkward and embarrassed look from the singer.
“And where does this bullying against Jeff come from? I honestly remember you were getting along so we-” Steve insisted, dredging up the past, but he was promptly interrupted by Sara.
“DID I HEAR SOMEONE SUGGESTING ‘NEVER HAVE I EVER’?? LET’S DO IT”
“Someone who? I didn’t hear anything” Mike pointed out as he looked around.
“Also because we’re not at a sixth grade party?” Gossard added but Layla immediately loved the idea and ignored him.
“Yeah! That’s exactly what I was thinking about: a nice group game. I’m in!”
“My idea of group games is a tad different but… ok, as long as it’s about people drinking and falling down on the floor I’m in” Lukin shrugged and joined in as other guests did.
“It can involve drinking?! COUNT ME IN” McCready chimed in again, going near Lukin and sharing a high five with him.
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