Tumpik
#fic update
lay-z 4 months ago
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godspeed | b.b. x f!reader
Top Gun: Maverick
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Summary: You're in love with your best friend since childhood, and your heart breaks whenever you learn Bradley is dating someone new. Will you ever find the courage to let him know about your feelings?
Warnings/Info: Childhood friends to lovers; awkward flirting; angst; heartbreak; humor; cussing; drinking; (mutual) pining; two idiots in love; fluff; smut | 18+ (will be tagged accordingly)
Status: COMING SOON!
If you'd like to be tagged in the upcoming chapters, please feel free to let me know. Cheers! 馃槡
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kawaiikenna 5 days ago
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Me: *looking things up for fic*
My internet history-
Steps to find a missing person
Amber Alerts
How far Gotham would hypothetically be from Amity Park
What the time frame is for a search to turn from finding a living person to hoping to find remains
How long a person can go without food and water
What happens when someone does go through that
Severe Acute Malnutrition
How to treat SAM
What the recovery time is
My FBI Agent: Should I be concerned?
Chapter 3 of Under the Earth; Far from Home is in the works! And from how the story is going it looks like this fic is going to be closer to 5 chapters before I can get it to a more satisfactory ending. -w- So be on the look out! 鈽猴笍馃挏馃挏
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characcoon 3 months ago
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Chapter 6:聽鈥淧inky Promises鈥
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eldritchzombiehorse 4 months ago
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This time around, Who could have asked for better friends? Lucky in Love indeed.
https://archiveofourown.org/works/37831015/chapters/98512443
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smchr-nina 3 months ago
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AO3 is down and I was halfway through a fanfic
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saninthebuilding a month ago
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sheathed swords and stupid faces
summary: a coronation turning into a bloodbath could be the worst thing to happen, right? or so you would think. because apparently, dealing with a certain dark haired prince proves to be more challenging than getting out alive. especially when there are feelings involved.聽
(inspired by the coronation scene in the cruel prince)
word count: 2.5k
warnings: potential spoilers for the cruel prince, mentions of injury & blood, swearing, cardan being a hot asshole, bad writing??
a/n: i recently finished reading the cruel prince series and have been completely obsessed with it istg. like- CARDAN IS SO FINE HELLO?????????? this the first time i鈥檓 actually posting a fic that i鈥檝e been thinking about, so feedback is greatly appreciated! :D
hope you enjoy it <3
-
crouched under the table, i shift on my knees. 鈥渄amn this stupid dress鈥 i scowl, irritated as i struggle to move comfortably. inching forward slightly, i take a peek through the tablecloth, and am met with a rush of movement. dancing and drinking and fighting. it鈥檚 a mess.
in short, the coronation for the future king of faerie did not go as planned. not at all.
within a matter of seconds, the entire royal family had been slaughtered. and it was madoc鈥檚 fault. my father. i didn鈥檛 really acknowledge those words before, but believing them now was impossible. he was responsible for the deaths of all of them. rhyia. caelia. dain.聽
my parents.
a wave of emotion threatened to creep up, but i shoved it down. i had known this. i had known that madoc was nothing but a murderer. but i let myself think otherwise. i convinced myself that he could change. he could become a stand-in for the parental figures we had lost. i let myself hope.
and that hope would be the death of me.
his knights had managed to get jude, taryn and the rest of my family out, but they hadn鈥檛 got me. i was glad they didn鈥檛 have to witness the events that went down after their exit. but for some reason, i was glad i wasn鈥檛 led out.聽
if only because now i knew madoc was nothing but a cold blooded killer.
a thud somewhere nearby jolted me out of my thoughts. shaking my head to clear my mind, i shuffle to the other side of the table to get a view of my surroundings. as i look around through a slit in the cloth, i see the staircase leading into the castle.聽
鈥済otcha,鈥 i grin to myself.
as i start to formulate a plan, i hear footsteps approaching the table. 鈥渙fcourse luck isn鈥檛 on my side鈥 i think as my fingers brush the dagger in my sleeve. i watch the polished shoes come to a stop directly in front of me, and i clench my jaw, pulling my blade out. there鈥檚 a slight pause, and then suddenly the cloth moves.
and i am face to face with none other than cardan. the last one standing of the greenbriar line.
he also happens to be the only one who can officially crown balekin.
i meet his eyes- black and alive. a sudden surge of anger rushes through me at how he鈥檚 mixing with his would-be murders should an oppurtunity arise. it only proves what little regard he has for his own life. there鈥檚 a goblet in his hand, and from the slight laziness in his movements, he seems to be drunk. yes, when you鈥檙e about to die, the only solution is to drink yourself till you pass out. however, it doesn鈥檛 stop him from looking effortlessly handsome in his onyx suit.
damn him and his stupidly perfect face.
cardan stares at me for a second, almost confused, before speaking. 鈥渋t鈥檚 not safe here,鈥 he says, 鈥測ou鈥檙e mortal.鈥 鈥渘o shit鈥 i reply, mildly amused at his attempt to show concern for my well-being. 鈥測ou need to leave.鈥 he reaches down to grab my arm, but i yank him towards me before he can get a grip.
鈥渉ey!鈥 he snaps, wincing as he lands hard on his knees. rolling my eyes, i ignore the slight regret i feel as i pull him under the table. the tablecloth falls back into place.聽
鈥渁re you trying to die?!鈥 i hiss angrily. 鈥渢hey鈥檙e looking for you all over and you鈥檙e waltzing between them like your head isn鈥檛 up for grabs?鈥 he gives me an odd look, but doesn鈥檛 pull his arm out of my hold. however, he snaps out of his daze and yanks his arm away from me.聽
鈥渟ince when did you care? your father was more than happy to murder the rest of my family, what鈥檚 stopping you from finishing the job?鈥 he sneers, his usual glare seeping through his wine-glazed eyes. i turn on him, my own features hardening- 鈥渉e鈥檚 not my father.鈥澛
cardan eyes the dagger in my hand, but it doesn鈥檛 stop him from continuing. 鈥渋s that seriously what concerns you right now?鈥 then he scoffs, as if coming to a realization, 鈥渨hy should i expect anything else? mortals and their insignificant priorities.鈥 irritation rising, i shift my grip on my blade. 鈥測ou wanna see what else this mortal鈥檚 got in store?鈥
ignoring me, he looks through the tablecloth to avoid meeting my gaze. 鈥渨hatever. do you have a plan or are we going to keep playing in the dirt?鈥 i make a face at the back of his head, but i slide my dagger back into my sleeve before shuffling over to him. peering through the crack, i point at the stairs. 鈥渋f we can get through there, i can get us somewhere.鈥
i feel him come closer and look over my shoulder, his breath hot near my ear. i feel my heart speed up, but i ignore the shrinking distance between his body and mine as we study madoc鈥檚 guards. 鈥渋 don鈥檛 know why i鈥檓 trusting you,鈥 cardan mutters under his breath. i鈥檓 about to counter him, but he speaks. 鈥渇ine, let鈥檚 go.鈥 i stared at him, stunned. 鈥渨hat do you mean, let鈥檚 go?鈥 i ask, mimicking him, 鈥渨e can鈥檛 just walk out there as though we own the place.鈥
his dark eyes meet mine, black and glittering. 鈥渓ucky for you, i do.鈥
he pushes his way out from under the table, and i huff, following him. his life is in danger and he still has the balls to act cocky.
and someone kill me for finding it attractive.
we weave our way through the crowd, and i manage to snag a mask off the appetizer table before an elf can put it back on after eating her tart. slipping it on, i make my way back to cardan鈥檚 side and he glances at me as we make our way up the steps. from his face, i can tell he has no clue how i got the mask. i let myself revel in the achievement of surprising him.
as we approach the main doors, one of the guards steps forward. i recognize him as one of the men who madoc keeps at his side. 鈥渨here do you think you two are going?鈥 i opened my mouth to answer, but cardan is faster. 鈥渒ing balekin has been searching for prince cardan, and he is getting a response,鈥 he says. it takes all my self-control not to turn to him.
what the hell is he doing?
鈥渋s he now?鈥 the guard narrows his eyes, and i can see the other one let his hand fall toward the hilt of his sword. i let mine dangle freely by my own, but otherwise remain calm. 鈥渋 received this ring to prove a connection to the royal family鈥 he says, and from the corner of my eye i see a ring in his palm.
his ring.
how the hell did he get it off without getting caught?
immediately compliant, the guard steps out of the way, and we make it through the doors without further confrontation. i lead cardan down a hall to the passage the roach had shown me. i鈥檓 about to push the trigger, but i hear thuds from behind the wall. coming in our direction.聽
my eyes go wide, and i turn toward cardan. alarmed, he takes a step away, and ends up backing into a door. 鈥測/n?鈥 he asks warily, hands coming up halfway as though he expected me to hit him. 鈥済et inside,鈥 i breathe as i push him. the door opens, and he stumbles backwards. i rush inside, shutting the door and locking it in time to hear bricks sliding, followed by footsteps receding. blood pounding in my ears, i lean against the door as i exhale deeply.
looking up, i see cardan leaning against a desk stationed by the back of the room. he鈥檚 watching me, an unreadable expression covering his face. i meet his eyes, and he raises his eyebrows. 鈥渨hat鈥檚 up with you?鈥 he asks, but surprisingly there鈥檚 no attitude in his voice. i shake my head, 鈥渘othing.鈥 silence fills the air.
he鈥檚 the last greenbriar left to crown balekin.
he wouldn鈥檛 do it.
hope will be the death of me.
hand him over to balekin in exchange for power.
i am no murderer.
my stomach lurches as the image of cardan kneeling comes back to me. his bare shoulders tense as balekin pressed his nails into the pale skin of his nape. him gripping the sword as though he would run the human servant through. the belt coming down hard on his back, his jaw clenching down. the slap of leather against skin-
鈥渉ey.鈥澛
cardan.聽
i shake my head, coming back to where i am and what is going on. 鈥渟orry?鈥 i push off the door, only to stop myself from crashing into cardan鈥檚 chest. i look up to see him standing in front of me, hands shoved deep into the pockets of his dress pants. 鈥渋 said鈥︹ he leans down, putting his face in front of mine, 鈥渨hat鈥檚 got you so shaken?鈥 my brows come together, proving my confusion, and he drops his gaze down to my hands which have formed fists. i unclench my fingers, and see my nails have pressed half-moons into my palms.聽
i run a hand over my face, feeling exhausted. 鈥渨hy do you hate me?鈥 i find myself asking out of nowhere. he seems surprised too, leaning back to take me in fully. but i need to understand how he sees me before i figure out what to do.
can i trust him?
鈥渋s this really the time to be asking this?鈥 he asks, but i fix him with a stare. within a split second, i pull my sword from my hip and hold it out in front of me, pointing it at his chest. 鈥渋t鈥檚 a simple question.鈥
cardan instantly stops playing around, his jaw tense, 鈥測ou gonna kill me if i don鈥檛 answer?鈥 my chest tightens at his words, and the fact that he believes i will actually harm him shows me that i鈥檓 no different from madoc. 鈥渘o鈥 i snap, 鈥渏ust answer me.鈥 my arm doesn鈥檛 waver, still extending the sword, and cardan glances at it once more before opening his mouth.
鈥渋 hate you,鈥 he says finally. 鈥渂ecause you are a mortal yet madoc treats you with respect, while my father disregards me even though i am a prince of faerie. i hate you because you are the older sibling to jude, taryn and oak that i never had- caring for them and treating them with respect regardless of how they treat you. i hate you because you don鈥檛 get beat by your older sibling on a day-to-day basis, and because balekin never failed to degrade me after your performance at the feast.鈥
i stare at him, mildly surprised at balekin even knowing that i exist. 鈥渢here has to be something else.鈥 鈥渆xcuse me?鈥 cardan seems a bit worried now, seeing me raise nightfell higher, and gambles by taking a step back. i don鈥檛 move.
鈥渢hat鈥檚 ridiculous. you can鈥檛 just hate me because of all that. you don鈥檛 live with the murderer of your parents, both anger and fear ruling every aspect of your life. you don鈥檛 have to deal with the fact that there is nothing you can do to prove yourself worthy to live among those around you, because being mortal is a sin on these lands. a sin that instantly overlooks your value.鈥
something in cardan鈥檚 eyes changes, but his lips curl into a familiar sneer. 鈥渇ear? anger? i鈥檓 bargaining for my life here, and you say i don鈥檛 know anything about fear? 鈥漣 take a step forward, the sword still a threat, 鈥渏ust answer me!鈥
cardan leans back into the desk, and tilts his head down to avoid my gaze.聽 鈥渕ost of all, i hate you because i think of you more often than i should. and i can鈥檛 stop.鈥
i stare at him, frozen in place. no way. 鈥渄on鈥檛 mess with me鈥 i say, but it comes out as a whisper. not about this. but he remains still, even as i walk up to him, sheathing my blade.
he stays silent, and i realize that his reluctance isn鈥檛 because he鈥檚 thinking himself superior. it鈥檚 because he doesn鈥檛 want to face me. my heart speeds up- he鈥檚 serious.
鈥渄o you really?鈥 i raise an eyebrow, taking another step forward. 鈥測/n鈥︹ cardan鈥檚 watching me, hesitant yet seeming bolder than usual. i force him into the desk behind him, my hands coming down on either side of his hips, trapping him in. i lean in, my lips close but not enough to touch his.聽
if i hadn鈥檛 been right up in his face, i wouldn鈥檛 have caught how his breath hitches at the lack of distance between us. how he swallows hard, seeming to hold himself back. how his face is a mix of panic and longing.聽
鈥渋 guess it鈥檚 true鈥 i breathe, and he shivers at the heat of my words against his lips, 鈥渇aeries can鈥檛 lie.鈥 i bring my hand up to rest on the column of his throat, his skin hot against my palm. his eyes flash with alarm, probably thinking i鈥檓 going to choke him.聽
however, i shift my grip to his nape and press his lips to mine.聽
for a boy nicknamed 鈥渢he cruel prince,鈥 his lips are surprisingly soft, which makes me wonder how such harsh words could slip through them with such ease. i can feel how tense cardan is under my touch, and his hand on my arm is slow. he鈥檚 holding himself back.聽
however, it doesn鈥檛 last long.聽
he pulls away, and i open my eyes to see him staring at me, his gaze intense. 鈥渨ha-鈥 i don鈥檛 even get to ask him. 鈥渇uck it鈥 he whispers, and suddenly spins us so that i鈥檓 pressed against the desk. his hands come up on either side of my face and he kisses me hard. my hands wrap around his neck, drawing him against me. it鈥檚 messy and rushed, but in this moment i know better than to doubt him.聽
it鈥檚 real.
we break apart, chests heaving, and his hands grip the desk from around me. i stare at cardan, momentarily speechless, 鈥渋s that what you thought about?鈥 his eyes meet mine, the emotion swirling through them wild and unchained. 鈥渋鈥檝e thought about way more than that鈥 he grins, and i鈥檓 hit by how young he looks when he smiles. how charming.聽
i roll my eyes, 鈥渟hut up. i can still attack you.鈥 the threat comes out half-hearted. he raises an eyebrow, 鈥測ou expect me to believe you after you kissed me like that? please.鈥 i feel my ears burn red, and i shove him in the chest, but he just laughs. my heart speeds up at the sound, and a smile makes its way onto my lips.
damn him and his stupidly perfect face.
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ididloveyou 2 months ago
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The couple next door
Pairing: Tim Drake & Conner Kent
Summary: Tim and Conner go undercover as a married couple. Unfortunately, a big part of going undercover as a married couple is... well... pretending to be married.
Chapters: 4/13
Chapter 4 preview under the cut. Full chapter on AO3
I鈥檓 used to it.
Tim looked at Conner for a long moment and the rest of the world felt distant. Conner stared back at him in disbelief. There was a voice in Tim鈥檚 head telling him that the mission came first. He ignored it.
鈥榊ou can go home,鈥 said Tim, moving to sit at the table, 鈥業鈥檒l say we had a fight and you鈥檝e gone to stay with your family. I can handle it from here.鈥
鈥楲ike hell you can,鈥 Conner sounded mad.
鈥業t isn鈥檛 your problem anymore.鈥
Tim made a mental checklist of everything he needed to do. Arrange a run-in with Frida. Lament his husband's return home. Check-in with Dick for a crash course on talking to women. Tell Bruce鈥 God, he was going to have to tell Bruce.
He was going to have to update Conner鈥檚 file and tell Bruce about Conner鈥檚 messed-up sexual history and Bruce was going to look at him in total disbelief - like he expected Kon to be able to handle one harmless woman - and then they were going to argue.
鈥楲ike hell it isn鈥檛.鈥
Full chapter on AO3
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chloehl10 5 months ago
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Nothing Better (Your Skin On Mine) by lovelarry10 / @chloehl10
Omega Louis and Alpha Harry have never met.
Ending up in Australia at the same time was a coincidence.
Ending up with each other's cases was fate.
Falling in love was destiny.
Now complete!
Read chapter by chapter...
Chapter 1 馃С Chapter 2 馃С Chapter 3 馃С Chapter 4 馃С Chapter 5 馃С Chapter 6 馃С Chapter 7 馃С Chapter 8
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realityandrebirth 6 months ago
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(art by @calypsolemon !)
Summary: Two princes from Merlopia come to the surface to build a relationship between their kingdom and Ninjago, though one of them seems much more enthusiastic than the other. When they visit Borg Tower, Morro doesn't know how much he can trust either of them, but he can't help but take an interest in Benthomaar. A non-canon fic in the Coinverse AU.
Warnings: not naming any names but SOMEONE almost drowns. he's fine though
THIS IS TEN THOUSAND WORDS SORRY FOR BEING A MENACE TO THE NINJAGO FANDOM & OVERALL SOCIETY. hope U enjoy!
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metamatronic a month ago
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new chapter of T(A)LOTP out! look at me, posting on time. :)
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faz-friendly-light-up-shoes 2 months ago
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Uhhhhh ch4 real. That is all.
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characcoon a month ago
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Chapter 15 -聽鈥淲ith My Own Hands (I Break Apart the Sky)鈥
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eldritchzombiehorse 23 days ago
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Ever wonder what happens after the end?
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gallavichy 6 months ago
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things beyond mistake (5/?)
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Chapter 5: Even the Darkness Has Arms
In the 90s and early 00s, they were distant neighbors on a long, dirt road out in the middle of vaguely Georgia farmland. Ian and Mickey: two poor, closeted Southern kids with similar financial situations but very different families, harboring secret crushes that felt illegal and that manifested themselves as sharp words, punches, and self-loathing.
In 2021, Ian, a high school teacher in need of a fresh start, returns to his childhood home after nearly 20 years to find himself once more sharing a lonely dirt road with Mickey, the boy he once knew and the man he's desperate to get to know.
Rating: E overall, this chapter T
Chapter Word Count: 20k
Summary: 鈥淪o Ian鈥︹ PJ starts. 鈥淎re you seeing anybody?鈥
Fic Playlist: Click
Click here to read Chapter 5 or here to start from the beginning.
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deepshadows2 2 months ago
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Title : Particular Chapter 5 Chapter Summary:聽 Narcissa Malfoy rose from her seat as they stepped into the room, a pleased smile on her lips. 鈥淐ongratulations to the new Mister and Missus Snape,鈥 she greeted, before turning to directly face Hermione, reaching for her hands. It was a surprisingly intimate gesture from the woman. 鈥淚 am delighted you could join me for tea today, Hermione. We have so much to talk about.鈥 With a curve of her lips, she flicked her ice-blue eyes towards Severus and gestured her head to the exit of the room. 鈥淟ucius is in his office, Severus, waiting for you.鈥 It was a clear dismissal. Content and Trigger Warnings: None Link: https://archiveofourown.org/.../37443892/chapters/102020460 Author's Notes: After a two month hiatus, I have finally been able to get my head into the right space for this.
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youcouldmakealife 5 days ago
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ScratchnMoney
and a toast or ten.
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lunaandhertrashheap 4 months ago
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鈥淏lood For Blood鈥 (chapter 10)
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Pairings: ABO!Ot.7 x Omega! Reader
Warnings: nightmares, gory flashbacks, torture in the form of human sacrifice??, mentions of blood.
Word count: 8k
Synopsis: You are better off alone. That鈥檚 what you鈥檝e told yourself for the past 13 years, living off a food source that has dwindled with each passing season. But when you hunt down a buck on someone else鈥檚 territory, you invite the attention and compassion鈥攈owever unwanted both of them may be鈥攐f a rising Alpha. Determined to remind you what it is to have a family, he makes a decision that could very well end his position as Alpha no sooner than it鈥檚 begun. The funny thing about staying in one place, though, is that now you鈥檙e forced to relive the nightmares you spent so long running from. And along with them come the memories of a debt that demands to be paid in blood.
This is my original work so please do not repost or modify in any way!
I cannot thank you all enough for your patience. Life has been all over the place the last few months but thanks for waiting on me, for checking on me as well as my progress on these stories. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I hope you like chapter 10 because we are nearing the end of this series ( possibly no more than 4 or 5 chapters left) and each one will be a dramatic rise in suspense and action and generally the product of my overactive imagination. previous chapters are linked below, you will need to read them if you are new here (or need a refresher becaue it HAS been four months). If not, have at it and enjoy!
Chapter 1 聽Chapter 2 聽Chapter 3 聽Chapter 4 聽Chapter 5 聽Chapter 6 聽
Chapter 7 聽Chapter 8 聽Chapter 9聽
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Mallory did not like having a full house.
Jungkook had gotten a paw caught on her brand new teal chiffon and nearly shredded the fabric, Jimin had practically made a nest of all the scraps she鈥檇 let fall to the floor and was currently sprawled out in a corner. At least Hoseok brought food when he visited.
Three. Times. A day.
Jin came with Nina and Maurice every morning and night to check your vitals, hope for consciousness, then, when you remained unresponsive, left dejected with no new news of your condition. Mallory was all but grateful for the sudden need to play hostess. Mixed with her shop duties, she almost had no time to be worried.
Almost.
Because the fact was鈥 it had been five days and you had not stirred once. It was unlikely Jin had knocked you into that tree hard enough to put you into a coma, but there was no other reason for you to be unconscious this long. And though Mallory had been sure you would be fine when they carried you in鈥ach day that passed made her a little more uneasy.
Maurice squeezed her shoulder on the way out, but whatever comfort came from the gesture did not reach his eyes---he was worried, too.聽She waited until the door snicked shut before making her way back upstairs.
鈥淵ou know,鈥 she began, leaning a shoulder against the door frame,聽鈥淭his is the cleanest my room has looked in years and you aren鈥檛 even awake to appreciate it.鈥
Silence.
鈥淥r maybe you are.鈥澛燭he bed creaked as she lowered her weight onto it, removing an imaginary thread from the comforter. 鈥淚s the聽bed so comfy you decided to sleep a few days away all tucked up in it? I guess that counts as appreciation.鈥
The wind brushed up against the window, rattling it softly.
鈥淚 do hope you don鈥檛 plan to sleep forever, though. I know you drank your weight in wine that night but this is a bit excessive for a hangover. I suppose I could let it slide, though, since they found my gorgeous dress draped over some branch a few miles from where you and Namjoon had been. Pristine condition. I鈥檓 glad someone knows how to treat quality garments.鈥
Mallory examined your face, still dewy from Nina鈥檚 sponge bath.
鈥淪peaking of our chivalrous new Alpha, he hasn鈥檛 been by yet. He carried you all the way here and then had to meet with the elders. The other Alphas returned to defend their own borders after Namjoon told them what had happened. Him and Taehyung have been back and forth between the northern and eastern packs nearly every day. They won't confirm it yet, but I know they鈥檙e preparing for something. That Alpha that came looking for you is a threat to all of us and-鈥
Her eyes fell on your expressionless face, shadowed by the moonshine spilling into the room. She tried not to let her mind go there, but the way you were positioned, how still you were鈥ou could have been lying in a coffin.
鈥淪orry, you probably don鈥檛 want to hear about any of that, do you? Fine by me, we can talk about something else. You got placed into the art district, right? I know you鈥檒l be staying with Namjoon for the time being but鈥f you wanted, when you鈥檙e ready, I could help you build your own space. There鈥檚 an empty lot next door. Not big enough for a cottage but鈥aybe a studio? I鈥檇 say we could build an attachment to the shop and you could just work out of there but I haven鈥檛 seen any of your pieces yet. New friends or not, I am a businesswoman.鈥
She chuckles, but it comes out dry; the silence was starting to weigh on her, pressing in at her shoulders.
鈥淵ou, um鈥ou gotta wake up soon. I have to show you how much these boys are fussing over you. Jimin brings flowers every day. 聽Hoseok has damn near filled my fridge with broth and soup and stew and tea. When you wake up, I鈥檓 sure you鈥檒l be in on all the gossip since as soon as Taehyung gets back from his travels with Namjoon, he comes straight here to talk to you. And I don鈥檛 mean a quick update; he stays in here for hours sometimes. I don鈥檛 even know what he talks about. Jungkook鈥e鈥檚 quiet but I know he鈥檚 worried. He stays over most nights after his patrol shift and won鈥檛 leave your side. Yoongi came by the other day and played for you. He sang, too. We heard him downstairs so don鈥檛 let him tell you it was the wind or something. And Jin鈥︹ she paused, taking in a strangled breath.
鈥淛in?鈥
The dark-haired beta stood in the doorway, arms crossed over his chest. It seemed he always stood that way, lately. Like it made him feel less vulnerable.
鈥淚 didn鈥檛 know you were still here.鈥
He makes a sound in the back of his throat, as if he doesn鈥檛 fully believe her, then nods towards the corner of the room. 鈥淚 left my bag.鈥
鈥淥h.鈥
He swings the brown leather satchel over his shoulder, then says, 鈥淟et me know if anything changes.鈥
鈥淚 will.鈥
He gave her a vacant smile, then headed for the door.
鈥淲ait a second.鈥
鈥淒on鈥檛.鈥
She scoffs. 鈥淵ou don鈥檛 even know what I鈥檓 going to say.鈥
鈥淵es, Mal, I do. What everyone else has been saying for nearly a week: it wasn鈥檛 my fault, if I hadn鈥檛 she would have been killed, it was a choice between a rock and a hard place.鈥
鈥淎nd you think they鈥檙e wrong to want to comfort you?鈥
鈥淚鈥檓 a doctor, Mallory,鈥 he bit out, features tight, 鈥淚 am a creature of fact over sentiment. ______ was going to die if she crossed the border. None of us could think of any way to stop her. Namjoon gave an order, I followed through and while I saved her from one fate I delivered her gift wrapped to this one. Whether it was intentional or not, it is my fault.鈥
Mallory held his gaze, watched as he tried to calm the guilt threatening to overcome him.
鈥淚鈥檓 his second. I always know what to do. I always have a plan, a different angle, a different perspective. But that night鈥hen Namjoon told us about the bond, what it would do to her if she crossed鈥 got so scared I couldn鈥檛 think.鈥
鈥淭hat鈥檚 a normal response, Jin-鈥
鈥淔or other people, Mallory, not the second in command!鈥
鈥淔ine,鈥 she relented, 鈥淵ou鈥檝e had a few days to think on it. What else could you have done? How else would you have saved her, knowing her mind and body were being controlled and that she had no will as long as she was conscious? Knowing she was faster than all of you, knowing that you had seconds before you reached the border. Is there anything you could have done differently?鈥
Jin shook his head, not in answer, but as if he were attempting to shake off her words.
鈥淎 coma is better than a corpse, Jin,鈥 she murmured.
His face crumpled a bit. 鈥淚 know鈥 know it is, but-鈥
She crushed the air right out of him. The smell of roses after a night of rain, sweet and heady, wrapped its way around his senses and he found himself burrowing down deep. She shivered a bit when his hair brushed against the exposed skin of her neck. What he usually kept short and clean-cut was now less so, but it still suited him, Mallory thought鈥攎ade him seem younger, a little less burdened.
鈥淵ou should get some rest.鈥
鈥淚 do-鈥
She pulled back to take in his face, a brow arched at the lie he was in the middle of telling. His mouth promptly shut.
鈥淔ine, a few hours couldn鈥檛 hurt.鈥
鈥淣o, it couldn鈥檛. In fact, it might actually do you some good. So would some of that broth Hoseok left in my fridge. It鈥檚 not like she鈥檚 eating anything and I can鈥檛 drink it all.鈥
He nods, not sure why he鈥檚 suddenly reluctant to release her.
鈥淎nything else I can do for you? Since you鈥檙e in the mood to order me around?鈥
Her eyes searched him in the flickering firelight, the shadows playing at both their features. And then hesitantly reached up, twirling a lock of his hair around her finger.
鈥淒on鈥檛 cut it yet.鈥
鈥淚鈥檒l think about it,鈥 he responded softly, as if speaking too loudly might break whatever charm-ridden moment the two of them had somehow slipped into. But the acknowledgment of such a moment was enough to jerk Jin out of it, removing his hands from her waist and furiously shoving them into his pockets to keep from reaching for her again.
鈥淩ight. Well. Goodnight.鈥 And with that, he turned on his heel and disappeared down the hallway.
鈥淕oodnight,鈥 she smiled after him.
Mallory鈥檚 eyes found you again, still perfectly statuesque. Her head thudded dully against the door frame.
鈥淲ell, I won鈥檛 keep you, kid. I鈥檝e gotta get some rest. These fabulous clothes don鈥檛 make themselves鈥ungkook will be by within the hour, I鈥檓 sure.鈥
Just before she crossed the threshold, something gave her pause, and she half turned back into the room.
鈥淚 hope you鈥檙e still in there.鈥
~~~
鈥淭homas!鈥 you hissed. 鈥淭homas, stop, they鈥檒l-鈥
He yanked you behind a tree, pressing his hand firmly against your mouth.
You stared up at him as he took in your surroundings, his jaw tight. This was the fifth or sixth night he鈥檇 stolen into your tent and whisked you into the surrounding forest.
Every time he did, though, there were more sentinels in rotation.
But he still came for you.
And you still went with him.
You touched a finger to the cut of his jawline and it feathered briefly before smoothing, his gaze shifting to you. The guarded look seemed to melt away, like mist clearing in too much warm sunlight.
鈥淲e shouldn鈥檛 keep doing this,鈥 he whispered.
There was no moon that night. Had he not been inches from you, his breath fanning across your face, you would barely be able to make out his outline. Sometimes that鈥檚 how it felt even in the light of day. Like he was disappearing right in front of your eyes, little by little.聽
鈥淚 know. I keep telling you.鈥
鈥淢aybe you鈥檙e right.鈥 You stilled. His hand traveled away from your mouth, cupping your cheek. 鈥淢aybe we should stop.鈥
鈥...I don鈥檛 want to.鈥
He pressed his forehead to yours.
鈥淎s much as it would pain me to go back to 鈥榓ccidentally鈥 brushing my hand against yours every other day, it would kill me to know he hurt you because of this.鈥
鈥淗e hurts me anyway.鈥
The words were out before you could stop them and you heard his breath catch. The rage made him so tense that he was shaking beneath your fingertips.
鈥淚 know,鈥 the words were icy, bitter. 鈥淚 have to listen to his men recall it every time he wants an audience. I have to keep my head down to pretend I don鈥檛 hear you screaming.鈥
What he didn鈥檛 know was how often you鈥檇 nearly bitten off your tongue rather than let him hear. You squeezed your jaw shut so tight last week that one of your teeth had chipped.
鈥淭homas鈥his鈥攊t鈥檚 mine. I don鈥檛 want to stop because I'm afraid. I spend every second of the day scared anyway. At least this fear comes from something good, something warm. Something I want to protect.鈥
He鈥檇 never been muscular or broad-shouldered. He was lean, his collarbones so hollowed you could drink from them. But his hands were rough, strong as he cradled your face in his hands. 鈥淥ne day, fate is going to smile on us. We鈥檙e going to free the other omegas and burn this place to the ground.鈥
You nodded, leaning into his touch.
鈥淵ou and I are going to find our own little patch of land, paint every night, and wake up at noon like lazy house cats.鈥
You could see it, too. The two of you intertwined between layers of blankets, waking up bathed in a buttery light, paint still splattered on your fingertips, your arms, your feet. He would smile at you as he stretched before draping an arm back over you. Hours would pass like that--- memorizing the timbre of his voice, the exact hue of his eyes, counting each freckle on his cheeks. Only hunger would finally drive the two of you out of bed.聽
Suddenly, you were nostalgic for something you鈥檇 never known.
鈥淚t won鈥檛 happen right away, but eventually, I think we鈥檒l stop looking over our shoulders, waiting for the other shoe to drop.鈥
He pressed his lips against yours, soft, warm, home.
He kissed you like the two of you had met under different circumstances, like you鈥檇聽had the time to sink into love, unrushed and openly. Like there was all the time in the world to explore you, your touch, your lips.
You kissed him back because you knew there wasn鈥檛.
~~~
Namjoon was exactly where his mother suspected he would be.
Back in the archives, haunched over dusty books that made her eyes puffy and itchy.
鈥淲hat are you doing down here, Mother?鈥
鈥淵ou become Alpha and now I can鈥檛 check on you?鈥
Her smile was small but he couldn鈥檛 even match it. In fact, he didn鈥檛 look up at all, eyes scanning the page like a mad man while his hand scribbled notes onto parchment nearby.
鈥淵ou haven鈥檛 been to see her.鈥
It wasn鈥檛 a question but she knew he heard the inquiry in her tone.
鈥淪he is well taken care of. I can鈥檛 spend all of my time by her side when I now have a pack to protect as well.鈥
鈥淵ou were willing to lose your position for her mere days ago. And now you鈥檙e too busy with that same position to even see her face?鈥
鈥淎 few days ago I鈥檓 pretty sure you didn鈥檛 really like her. What鈥檚 with the sudden change of heart? And she isn鈥檛 the only one who needs me, Mother-鈥
鈥淲hatever reservations I had before, she鈥檚 a part of this pack now. 鈥榊our duty to all is great, but your duty to each one is greater still-鈥欌
鈥淚 know my oath,鈥 he snapped, finally meeting her eye. And Renali鈥檚 heart ached for her son. His eyes were lined with scarlet and buried deep in dark circles. His skin looked tired鈥 like he hadn鈥檛 been home to rest since the induction. But it wasn鈥檛 just the exhaustion. She could see it there, at his core鈥攊t was killing him to stay away from her.
鈥淭hen why are you here instead of by her side?鈥
鈥淏ecause I don鈥檛 know how to protect her!鈥 The book he was holding was snapped shut and tossed onto a nearby pile. 鈥淚 was right there. I was right by her side and he nearly killed her. He nearly took her from me and I didn鈥檛 know how else to save her! On the very night I swore to protect her, I failed!鈥
鈥淪he鈥檚 not dead, Namjoon-鈥
鈥淚s she alive then? Is she walking around? Is she speaking, is she laughing, is she crying? Is she snapping at me o-or smiling at me? No! I left her at Mallory鈥檚 and she hasn鈥檛 moved since.鈥
鈥淎nd you think that鈥enying her your presence will make her better?鈥
鈥淗e鈥檚 never been able to control her like that. She鈥檚 got a hand-made fortress around her mind and a damn death god squatting at the entrance and he聽still got into her head. He knew exactly when to call her. I can鈥檛 face her again without a plan. I can鈥檛 look her in the eye and鈥nd know I can鈥檛 prevent this from happening again.鈥
Renali scoffed, arms crossing over her frame. It was casual enough, but it sent a clear message: he was in for it now.
鈥淵ou Kim men are all the same. Do you think when I was giving birth to Seokjin that I wanted your father to come up with a plan to keep me from being in more pain? Do you think I wanted him to say 鈥楻enali, next time we have a child we should have you chew on willow bark鈥? Or that what I really needed as I was pushing out our first child was for him to ask the doctors about all the ways something could go wrong?鈥
鈥淢other, that鈥檚 different-鈥
鈥淎nswer the question, Namjoon.鈥
Namjoon rubbed at his eyes with both hands, his head suddenly throbbing. 鈥淣o?鈥
鈥淣o. Exactly. I didn鈥檛 need him to make a plan. I needed him to hold my hand, I needed him to be there with me and tell me everything was going to be fine even if he was scared shitless because you know what? We both were.鈥 Renali squatted next to her son, already feeling her nose beginning to itch.
鈥淵ou can鈥檛 control what happens to you or her. All you can do is be there to give her strength.鈥
Namjoon鈥檚 jaw tightened and released several times before he nodded.
鈥淕ood. Now, get going. I鈥檒l send over some-鈥
鈥淲ait, wait鈥ill you come with me?鈥
~~~
鈥淥mega!鈥
You looked up from your pile of cloth at the same time as every other female, needle frozen in your fingers.
鈥淵ou,鈥 he pointed, 鈥淵ou鈥檝e been summoned.鈥
Another pair of hands instantly reached over and took your work from you. You tried not to look at her eyes and wonder if when you returned, you鈥檇 be wearing the same vacant expression. Following the beta out, you kept your eyes forward, glued to the half-frozen ground to keep from looking back. Partially because you didn鈥檛 want to see the male omegas on the other side of camp, cutting down trees while someone whipped at them.聽
Mostly because you didn鈥檛 want to know if Thomas was watching you.
His tent was warmer than usual, candles lit and dispersed throughout, animal furs draped across the barren ground. And in the center of the room, was a basin just large enough for one person. The water was a milky white color, dotted with bobbing chrysanthemums along the surface.
鈥淢aster.鈥
Your voice was small, submissive, and practiced.
鈥淚鈥檓 so very glad you could come.鈥
He knew you had no choice. The idea seemed to amuse him.
鈥淚 have had a breakthrough of sorts. A few months ago I sent Alan to look for something; the last piece of the puzzle. You see, every time I find a way to get what I want, there seems to be another step beyond that. As we both know, I鈥檓 not a patient man. However,聽Alan came back from the islands with this.鈥 He holds up a rolled-up piece of yellowed parchment.聽鈥淚t speaks of a聽ritual I can perform. It will summon enough dark magic to potentially draw the attention of a death god.鈥
Ice began forming in your stomach; it was no longer the cold that racked your body with tremors.
鈥淎lthough, it will be tricky, and require a great deal of sacrifice. Well, yours, not mine.鈥
It came out as a sort of joke but you weren鈥檛 laughing. You weren鈥檛 even breathing. The air had all stalled inside your chest and left your lungs burning.
鈥淵ou鈥檝e been my favorite for so long,鈥 he continued, looking around fondly as if the memories of what he had put you through in this tent were dear to him. 鈥淚 really do hate to be parted from you but-鈥
All of a sudden your breath returned in pants, in quick, terrible breaths that shook your whole body. He crossed the space between you in two long strides, his hands cupping your face.
鈥淪hhh鈥on鈥檛 cry, pet. I鈥檝e arranged for you to have this lovely bath to soothe your nerves. Pamper you a little on your last night.鈥
鈥淭onight?鈥 you bleated. You were shaking so hard that your teeth chattered.
鈥淚鈥檓 afraid I cannot afford to wait. The tribe Alan stole the scroll from is quite feral. They want it back. By the time they arrive, I would like to have the power to wipe them out entirely without a single loss to the pack.鈥
He turned an expectant look on you as if you were to understand, to thank him for all of this. When such gratitude did not come, however, that expectancy morphed into agitation, though he tried to cover it with a forced smile.
鈥淕et in the tub, pet. Someone will be by at sundown to retrieve you. I鈥檒l do my best to make it quick but the ritual is intended to cause pain.鈥
He sighed as if that aspect suddenly grieved him. But only momentarily.
鈥淪undown, pet. Don鈥檛 make me wait for you.鈥
The flaps slid back into place after him and you were alone with your thoughts. At long last, he was going to kill you.
No, he was going to sacrifice you.聽And it would be painful on purpose.
You were going to die.
You were going to die, you were鈥our knees gave out, hands coming up just in time to grip the side of the basin before you fell into it.
No one would mourn you. No one would even notice. Gods, it had finally come back to you-鈥搕hose years spent detachedly hauling corpses into the woods had come to an end. Now it was time to switch places.
You tried to compose yourself, hissing as you stepped into the water.
A string of memories flashed in front of your mind鈥檚 eye. The first time you saw Thomas鈥 welts and he had told you every terrible joke he knew in an attempt to calm you. His fingers in your hair, his warmth seeping into you. The first time he sang to you, hushed and sweet while the two of you painted the hillside.
You would never hear his voice again. Never see his crooked smile, feel his curls wrap around your fingers.
Oh, gods鈥
That sweet future he had dreamed up for the two of you, you held it close to your heart as you dunked yourself under the water, as you scrubbed your skin raw. You didn't let your focus waver to the sharp angles of your bones or the hollowness in your cheeks or the litany of scars in every crevice.
Rays of noon-day light. Warm cotton blankets. Thomas鈥 heartbeat echoing yours. His steady breathing鈥
When another beta stepped in, telling you it was time, you had shoved everything lovely and right to the front of your mind. You would not show your fear.
You stood, the hot water cascading off of you, and followed him out of the tent.
He didn鈥檛 offer you clothes but you didn鈥檛 mind. The cold was clarifying, grounding; it kept you from panicking. When you approached a small clearing outlined with torches dancing in the wind, you didn鈥檛 allow your stomach to sink.
The ice in the air鈥
Thomas鈥 hand outlining your spine鈥
The master was standing by one of the torches, the scroll held near the light.
He smiled wide when he saw you walk into the center.
The cold wrapped itself around your body, goosebumps rising wherever it touched. A combination of grief and guilt tried to claw its way up your throat but you swallowed it down, replaced it with thoughts of Thomas smiling into your hair, his calloused hands on your cheek.
鈥淭his time tomorrow, pet, I鈥檒l be the most powerful man on the earth. No more staying on the reserve, no more ranks, no more hiding. Only power. My power.鈥
Someone pushed you to your knees.聽Each arm and leg was tied to a stake that was then driven into the ground, exposing yourself fully to the night air and his greedy gaze.
Hickory-colored eyes, creasing with laughter鈥
You would find him again. In another life, you would give him every day and night you had and you would be so fiercely happy. You swore it.
You swore it when they began uttering spells, slicing their palms, letting the blood soak into the earth.
You swore it when the air became dense, the copper tang of magic filling your mouth.
Nearly every lantern blew out with a sudden, forceful wind. You closed your eyes and swore it as his knife caressed the skin of your abdomen before settling over your heart.
You swore it when he bent over you, breath hot on your ear, and told you it was alright to scream this time.
You swore it when he began slicing into you like venison, flaying your skin away, carving runes deep into the tissue, to the bone. Shrill, agonizing screams surrounded you and resonated through the night air. And even then you swore. You swore fiercely, fervently.
It would be over soon.
Thomas鈥 kiss on your cheeks, your temple, your fingers鈥
Thomas twirling you around to no music, holding your body to his鈥
The two of you would be happy. He was yours. He would be yours in the next life and you would be his.
You swore it. Again and again and again like an enchantment, like your own counter curse.
A weight sank into you like a boulder atop your chest and you began screaming so loudly your voice cracked. And when your lungs burned for air, you inhaled it deep and screamed again. You had never felt agony like this. The runes burned but didn鈥檛 cauterize the wounds. Fire bled into your bones and your body jolted, trying to get away from the sensation. Anything to ease the pain.
All the while the master watched you, his eyes wild as he waited, each scream like a coin in the cosmos. When the scale tipped, when the debt was paid, he would have everything he wanted.
And then someone screamed your name and your eyes shot open.
Voices around you began shouting, betas rushing past then dropping like flies, the dull thudding of impact vibrating through the earth.聽Thomas fired one arrow after another, the crossbow needing little time to reload before he buried another into someone鈥檚 chest.
鈥淿_____!鈥
No鈥o, he shouldn鈥檛 be here.聽You fought to swim through the haze, to tell him to get out while he still could.
鈥淭homas, don-鈥
Smoke flooded your lungs, swallowed you up in a sea of ash and flame. And then your body went limp.
~~~
Mallory stumbled down the steps, face puffy with sleep.
鈥淣am-...My Alpha.鈥
鈥淚鈥檓 sorry to stop by so late.鈥
The blonde scoffed. 鈥淟ate being the operative word.鈥
鈥淚鈥檝e come to see her. Renali is with me. May we come in?鈥
Mallory peeked over his shoulder and smiled at his mother.
鈥淧lease do. Jungkook is already up there so you might have to shoo him out.鈥
At the back of her shop was a narrow spiral staircase, leading up to her living quarters. Namjoon could tell his father had been the one to build it due to the woodland details carved into each step. There had been similar ones carved into wall trimmings of his childhood room.
Down a wide set corridor lined with consoles draped in fabric and thread was Mallory鈥檚 room. With the younger wolf still in his animal form, the room seemed smaller than it was. Even with him curled up on the bed, his massive head resting on your chest.
Namjoon smiled fondly at the sight, scratching lightly behind the younger wolf鈥檚 ear. 鈥淛ungkook鈥ungkook you can head downstairs. I鈥檒l stay tonight.鈥
He lifted his head, accepting scratches from Renali as well before maneuvering himself off the bed carefully, both frame and floorboards creaking under his weight.
Namjoon swallowed once, then again, harder, before he could drag his gaze up to your face. Besides the slow rise and fall of your chest, he could have been looking at a corpse, he thought, taking your cool hand into his own.
鈥淚鈥檓 here, ______.鈥
鈥淣amjoon, wait.鈥
Renali took a cautionary step into the room, feeling the sharpening sense at the base of her neck.
鈥淲hat鈥檚 wrong?鈥
鈥淚 don鈥檛 know just鈥︹
His brow creased but he said nothing more, watching his Mother tread carefully towards the bed. But when she got to the base of it, reaching out a hand to touch your ankle, her body went rigid.
鈥淪omeone else is in there with her.鈥
~~~
A tug from your center pulls you forward, as if through water, through your own consciousness, and then stops abruptly just before you break the surface. Voices swirl around you, rising and falling in volume and urgency. But you can鈥檛 call out to them, can鈥檛 seem to tap into your body at all. In fact, it doesn鈥檛 even feel like your body. There鈥檚 no heartbeat, no fill of warm air in your lungs, no swell of fear or anger or pain just锟斤拷锟絙itter cold coating everything. It鈥檚 as if you鈥檙e floating just above it; not quite submerged, not quite expelled to the other side where nothingness awaits. Just a veiled, in-between place, covered in blurry film.
A strange sensation is keeping you anchored to your body, like a piece of string tied from your soul to one of your ribs. When it tugs, your bow towards it, slipping a little more into your skin, into this plane of existence.
A voice slithers into your ear and coils around your brain. Before you turn, you know you鈥檒l find him inches from your face, a hideous grin plastered on his lips.
鈥淔unny meeting you here.鈥
In this place, there is nothing to hide the burns that have destroyed his body. If he notices, it doesn鈥檛 seem to bother him.
鈥淲ell, I say it鈥檚 funny but as we both know, it was intentional. We need to talk, pet.鈥
鈥淭alk about what? I have nothing to say to you.鈥
鈥淚 wouldn鈥檛 care if you did, so why don鈥檛 you keep your mouth shut and I鈥檒l make this quick? You stole something from me and I have every intention of getting it back.鈥
鈥淚f you mean Lorelai, I hate to tell you, but you鈥檙e wasting your time. You may have been the one to summon her but she chooses her vessels. She didn鈥檛 want you then and I doubt she wants you now.鈥
鈥淚 have my ways of persuasion so don鈥檛 worry yourself over what I鈥檓 going to do. What you need to worry about is what you are going to do.鈥
鈥淎bout what?鈥
The way his grin spread wider over his face made the cold unfurl farther, coating the very air around you.
鈥淎bout them, pet.鈥
A wave of memories washes over you. Hoseok by the ravine, Yoongi in his green vinyl apron, Namjoon鈥檚 kiss in the woods, Nina talking about her sisters, Jimin, Maurice, Mallory, Jin, Taehyung, Jungkook. They were all there. Complete images of their faces, their scents.
鈥淗ow did you get these? She burned you out.鈥
鈥淭rue鈥ut your friend doesn鈥檛 seem to understand how blood magic works. Some things can鈥檛 be undone.鈥 He taps a rhythm against the back of his neck and your spine locks up.聽鈥淣ot even by a death god.鈥
鈥淵ou don鈥檛 scare me anymore.鈥
鈥淣o? You found yourself a new pack and a new alpha to fuck you and now you forget who provided for you and gave you shelter?鈥
鈥淵ou can鈥檛 possibly think you did me any favors. Had Lorelai not chosen me as her vessel, you gladly would have killed me if it meant you got more power.鈥
He takes in a deep breath as if he were pondering the weather, not his murderous appetites. 鈥淵ou鈥檙e right. So I hope you鈥檒l take that into consideration before you give me an answer.鈥
At your silence, his grin curdles into a sneer.
鈥淵ou were my favorite pet. The omegas I acquired usually didn鈥檛 last more than a few months. Either they couldn鈥檛 withstand my tastes or they bored me. But not you. I kept you longer than anyone else. You could even say I had a鈥 fond attachment to you. And yet, my purpose was greater than that attachment. So ask yourself this, pet, and then I鈥檒l tell you what you鈥檙e going to do. If I was willing to kill you to get what I want, do you think I'd have any qualms about killing your friends? About taking my time with them?鈥
鈥淵ou can鈥檛 kill another Alpha.鈥
鈥淚 don鈥檛 have to,鈥 he spat.
The blurry fog surrounding him sharpened and took the form of at least fifty or sixty wolves, all of them with the same grayed skin and bulky green veins.
鈥淗ow do you defeat a death god, pet? You build an army of the dead.鈥
Just one had nearly taken down all of Jimin鈥檚 patrols. If Lorelai hadn鈥檛 intervened, it would have ransacked the village. And even then, it had pulled itself together as soon as its master called. With sixty of them, he would be able to take the entire reserve, maybe even more. And when he was done, he would still get what he wanted, only then, everyone would be dead because of you.
You felt the memory of Thomas鈥 corpse lying on the ground pushing to the surface, but you shoved it away. No one else was going to die because of Lorelai or you.
~~~
鈥淲hat鈥檚 happening?鈥
鈥淚 don鈥檛 know. She won鈥檛 let me in.鈥
鈥淐an鈥檛 you call out to her?鈥
鈥淭hat鈥檚 not how seeing works, Namjoon. I can only put my body places and look around. I can鈥檛 speak or move.鈥
鈥淪o why can鈥檛 you see anything now?鈥
鈥淪he鈥檚 got walls around her mind. They鈥檙e too thick, I can鈥檛 slip through.鈥
Jungkook fidgeted in the doorway, Mallory鈥檚 hand on the tuft of his neck the only thing keeping him from rushing back into the already cramped room.
鈥淲ho鈥檚 in there with her?鈥
鈥淚 can鈥檛 tell.鈥
鈥淚s it Lorelai?鈥
鈥淲ho鈥檚鈥揘amjoon, stop asking me questions so I can focus!鈥
Voices called up to Mallory from the shop below.
鈥淯p here!鈥
Hoseok and Jin came running up the stairs peering over the short blonde woman.
鈥淲hat鈥檚 going on?鈥
鈥淩enali says someone else is in ______鈥檚 head with her.鈥
鈥淟orelai?鈥
鈥淒on鈥檛 know. Don鈥檛 think so, though.鈥
The room goes quiet when your body begins jerking, spasming beneath the covers.
鈥淲hat鈥檚 happening to her?鈥
鈥淚 don鈥檛 know. Whatever it is, I don鈥檛 have a way in, and without a way in, we can鈥檛 get her out.鈥
Namjoon goes still. 鈥淲hat about a bond?鈥
Renali leans forward, placing her centermost fingers on either side of your temple.
鈥淚n theory, a bond would work but it would have to be strong. Like a mating鈥撯
Renali鈥檚 eyes widen and immediately find her son鈥檚 face. His hands raise in defense.
鈥淚 don鈥檛 know if that鈥檚 what it is but鈥 have my suspicions.鈥
鈥淎nd we鈥檒l talk about them later, you can be sure of that,鈥 she snapped, hair escaping from her neat bun and framing her face, 鈥淩ight now, I need you to find that bond and pull on it.鈥
鈥淚 don鈥檛 know how to! I鈥檝e never done it intentio-鈥
鈥淣ow, Namjoon!鈥
~~~
There鈥檚 a tug on the thread, not painful per se, but it鈥檚 gripped with such a terrified tightness that it goes entirely taught. All your focus goes to it, to the scent on the other side of it. You brush a finger against it and the odd sensation of falling ransacks you to your core.
Ample light fills your sight, a starburst chandelier swaying slightly from the vaulted ceiling. It鈥檚 not the cabin. In your peripheral, there鈥檚 a fireplace crackling to your left, but when you try to turn your body in the slightest鈥ou鈥檙e not sure if you鈥檝e somehow become paralyzed. Your muscles feel filled with cement, barely managing a twitch of your fingers, the steady expansion and depletion of your lungs.
A face comes into view, framed with shaggy brown hair and hovering so closely it nearly fills your entire field of vision.
His features contort into such overbearing relief that his body sags under the weight of it.
鈥淵ou鈥檙e awake! Jin!鈥
A dark-haired man appears, shooing the doe-eyed man away. His gaze is medical for the expanse of time required to examine your eyes with a flashlight, take your blood pressure; to ask you questions about who and where you are. As soon as you manage to respond, though鈥揺ach answer coming a little quicker and less drowned in static鈥揾e, too, sags with relief.
鈥淕ods, ______, you scared the living shit out of us.鈥
鈥...Jin?鈥
He nods, his smile brightening his entire face.
鈥淗ow long have I been out?鈥
鈥淒ays. Five or six, at least.鈥
鈥淲hat happened?鈥
鈥淲hat do you remember?鈥
鈥淲e were drinking at the induction and鈥 was spinning.鈥 Just thinking of the word makes your head pound. It had only been that one night, but perhaps it was a good idea to swear off until you could learn your limits better.
鈥淛ungkook, get Jimin to bring my medical bag and the vials of powdered clove and willow bark from Maurice.鈥
He nods once, reaching for his jacket before disappearing from view. You try to follow him with your gaze but it makes your eyes pulse with pain.
鈥淒on鈥檛,鈥 Jin says, placing a warm washcloth on your forehead. 鈥淜eep still.鈥
鈥 ______?鈥
You know by the timbre of his voice, the faint scent of sea and salt, that Namjoon is in the room. Relief floods you so suddenly that a bit of it spills from your eyes. Before even a drop of it can fall from your face, he鈥檚 crossed the room and encased your hand in his.
鈥淚s everyone all right? A-are you-鈥 You stammered, voice hoarse with disuse,聽鈥淚 didn鈥檛 mean fo-for anyone to get hurt, I-鈥
鈥淪hhh, ______, none of this is your fault. I don鈥檛 know how he got into your head but that鈥檚 all this was. Do you remember anything else?鈥
鈥淛ackson. The whisky. You and I went to the field behind the hills and then鈥︹
His thumb swipes along your cheekbone, and the touch is so soothing your eyes fall closed again, briefly.
鈥淚 felt him in my head.鈥
鈥淲hat did he want?鈥
鈥淢e. To follow him.鈥
He nods, assuming as much. 鈥淲e鈥檒l talk more once the rest of the boys get here. Are you comfortable?鈥
鈥淚t鈥檚 so bright.鈥
A few lights blink out and the pressure behind your eyes begins to dull from a throb to an inconsistent pulse. His hand pulls away from your cheek and you jump to grab it.
鈥淪hh, it鈥檚 alright. I won鈥檛 go anywhere. Get some rest.鈥
You can鈥檛 bring yourself to ease the grip on his fingers, though.
鈥淚 won鈥檛 go anywhere.鈥
~~~
There鈥檚 less pain accompanying you to consciousness this time, just a dull sort of throb that runs the length of your body and then settles in your skull before making the trip again. It takes several seconds for your eyes to adjust to the still dim light filling the room. From this position, you can see out of an alcove of window top gardens. Through violet petunias and bushes of lilac, you spot a deepening purple sky. Muffled voices waft through the screen-- it鈥檚 late, but not late enough that everyone else has gone to bed.
One of them has draped you in a blanket which you pull up to cover yourself as you move into a sitting position. Once the nausea from that task alone subsides, you take note of the hunkering blonde wolf just seconds before your feet land on his stomach.
鈥淵oongi?鈥
His head lifts and for a moment you expect to feel him prod your mind shields but he doesn't. He noses around your stomach, your neck, your hands, checking your body with an intensity that only eases once he鈥檚 certain there are no lingering injuries. And then he promptly drops his head into your lap with a huff you interpret as 鈥淭hank the fucking gods.鈥
The first thing you notice is how unfamiliar the room is. Nothing but white walls and a pile of balled-up wallpaper shoved into a corner by the door. Beside it, though, are several cans of paint and a cup filled with brushes.
The cedarwood floors match the trimmings, but the latter seems to have wildflowers carved into its face. There鈥檚 a small door in front of you that must lead to a closet of some sort, and, sharing the same wall, is an empty four-shelf cabinet.
The whole room is an empty canvas.
Yoongi lets聽you lean on him as you stumble across the room.聽When you open the closet door, a blast of cold air greets you. Not a closet, but a storeroom. Shelves free of dust held canvases, paper, jars of compressed charcoal, pallets, canisters, and tubes of paint. You reached for one and pried open the lid. Fresh and vivid and dying to be splattered somewhere, given shape and form and life.
And perhaps鈥erhaps it was time to put your hands to work.
~~~
You painted through the night.
When the voices outside vanished and the moon rose, you painted. When it crested and fell to the horizon, you painted.
You paused only to bring out the boxes of wax candles from the storeroom to fill the space with light, and then you continued.
You forgot Yoongi was even there until exhaustion pushed you back to bed and you found him asleep beside it. You didn鈥檛 bother washing the paint from your hands or changing your clothes before falling onto the mattress and letting sleep claim you.
When you awoke it was mid-day and you started again, claiming washbins from a nearby bathroom and filling them to rinse the brushes before tapping them out on whatever spare cloth you could find. More often than not, it was whoever鈥檚 shirt you were wearing.
Yoongi had left and returned while you slept, bringing in bread, fruit, and bowls of steaming soup that smelled familiar though you knew you鈥檇 never tasted it.
When a knock sounded at the door, you froze.
鈥淿_____?鈥
Jimin wandered in accompanied by Hoseok.
鈥淗ow do you-鈥 He notices the brush in your hand, the paint splattered on your neck, your thighs, drying in your hair. 鈥-feel?鈥
And then he looks at the room, stepping in with his mouth widening slowly.
Hoseok follows him in and stops, eyes rising to the ceiling.
鈥淚 see you found the paint.鈥
That you had.
You鈥檇 painted every spare inch of surface you could find.
The three walls that held your bed, the alcove windows, and the storeroom closet had become your own little forest, covered in fallen logs, clumps of moss, and bundles of woodruff; rolling hills and sweetwater lakes, the golden harvest fields and clusters of mushrooms. Even the ceiling鈥搘hich Yoongi had been so kind to allow you to stand on him for鈥 seemed to hold the tops of cedar trees, stretching up through the sunlight. When you laid down at night, it almost felt like you were out there, leaves brushing your cheek as they fell from the branches.
The fourth wall, though, the one that held the door to the hallway, was the one you had spent all day on.
Bits and pieces of all of them. A montage, of sorts.
The yellowed mineral deposits that had dripped from the ceiling of your cell. The salt and pepper-haired old man in his copper-colored sweater and wire-rimed glasses. Hoseok facing the drop of the ravine, Jin beneath the spray of the waterfall. Taehyung in Mallory鈥檚 dress, Nina鈥檚聽fire hair tied low to her nape while she dusted a baking sheet with sugar, Jimin smiling up at you as he takes your measurements in Mallory鈥檚 shop.聽Jungkook twirling you beside the great tree, Mallory鈥檚 arms filled with flora for your head garland, Yoongi鈥檚 fingers on his guitar.
And peaking over the architrave was Namjoon leaned against his hand, a portion of his wrist exposed and revealing Fenrir, the symbol of your bond. Attached to his pinky, though, was a lilac thread that was woven through the entire montage until it came to an end at the bottom of the wall. From there, it traveled along the floorboards and rose back onto the wall that your bed was pushed against, outlining the frame in grand loops.
Hoseok was the first to meet your gaze, his smile so proud and warm it made you fidget. When he held out his hand, you placed your own directly into his palm.聽He rubbed the pad of his thumb over your fingers.
鈥淚 knew you had a knack for it.鈥
鈥淵eah鈥eah, I guess I did.鈥
鈥淗oly shit, Hoseok, look! It鈥檚 me,鈥 Jimin called, mirroring the pose you鈥檇 drawn him in.
The two of you turned to look at him, grinning as he examined every inch of the wall. You hardly noticed Jin step into view until he spoke.
鈥淗ow do you feel?鈥澛
The second time, the question finally manages to sink in, and whatever wall painting all this had put up to keep you from thinking about the past few days, it had all but evaporated. But you managed a wan smile and said, 鈥淪pectacular.鈥
鈥淵ou slept for another two days when we brought you here.鈥
You blink once. 鈥淚 did?鈥
鈥淢ild traumatic brain injuries require lots of rest and the occasional pain relief for headaches,鈥 Jin says, taking up a spot along the door frame.
鈥淚 slept nearly a week and a half.鈥
鈥淲ell, then, perhaps it was a bit more than mildly traumatic.鈥
鈥淚s that your official diagnosis, doctor?鈥 You ask, throwing a little more effort into your smile to deflect the unease settling into your chest.
鈥淛in! Jin, come look, it鈥檚 you! ______ painted all of us.鈥
It鈥檚 then the older beta seems to finally take in the walls and steps slowly into the room. You watch his face for every crease of the brow, every upturn of his mouth, every look of gentle awe.
When he settles on his portion of the wall, he snorts.聽
鈥淲hat?鈥
鈥淚鈥檓 surprised you didn鈥檛 paint us bickering.鈥
鈥淚f I鈥檇 done that, I would have spent half the night just trying to find the right argument to bring to life. Maybe when you threatened to kill me the first time we met. Or perhaps when you snapped at me as you set my shoulder. Or maybe-鈥
鈥淵eah, okay, fine, the waterfall is better.鈥
鈥淚 know it is. Which one of us is the artist here?鈥 you ask, puffing out your chest a little.
He doesn鈥檛 even hesitate.聽鈥淵ou are.鈥
You swallow, a warm blush dusting your cheeks.
鈥淚, however, am the doctor, so I need you off your feet for the rest of the day.聽They started a bath for you.鈥 he nods towards the bathroom.聽鈥淲e鈥檙e gonna run to the dining hall to get you some lunch. Jungkook, Taehyung, and Namjoon will be by in time for dinner. Why don鈥檛 you get cleaned up and we can talk once everyone gets back.鈥
A jolt from the nape of your neck sends your stomach flipping. You shake it off and nod, following them down to the front door. They disappear down the walkway and into the village just as a burning sensation begins to travel the length of your spine.
Years later, no matter how the following days would change you and everything you had come to love, you would look back on that day as the catalyst. You would pour over every detail, every decision you made, and wonder what you could have changed, what you could have done differently to ensure their survival.
And you would come up empty every time.
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That鈥檚 it for chapter 10! I鈥檓 so excited to get the next one done because you guys are in for a wild WILD ride. Hope you all enjoyed it!
Also, I have a discord server! Any of you are welcome to join--I will be posting sneak peeks, upcoming spin-offs, and 鉁╝bsolute nonsense鉁 but I would love to have all of you there!
https://discord.gg/p6usg5fD
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