#op asked what does it feel to know peace oh op if only you knew
sundayswiththeilluminati · a year ago
I LOVE your meta on how essek was the perfect asset and want to ask the follow-up question in your tags: how do you think it went down? The agreement between Essek and the Assembly? And I think the fandom was convinced Essek would be disposed of after the peace talks — how do you see his future if there was no intervention by the Mighty Nein in 97?
ruvi-muffin asked:
What are your specific thoughts abt how ludinus recruited essek??👀👀 oh Person who knows a surprising amount of spy stuff 🙏🙏🙏👀👀👀
Anonymous asked:
PLEASE share your specific thoughts about how Essek was recruited, I'm so intrigued!
Anonymous asked:
Hello yes i am very interested in these very specific thoughts about how Essek got recruited? All these things about how actual intelligence works/uses their assets/how that ties to Essek and the M9 is really interesting :D
Thank you all so much for asking me the specific question I wanted someone to ask. I had to write and rewrite this post a half-dozen times because I kept going off on tangents about other Cold War spy stories so trust me there’s plenty more where this came from.
For reference, my original post on what made Essek an ideal recruitment target and why the M9 were the ideal counter to it.
First off, this is all based on real-world intelligence ops and is only as relevant to the campaign as Matt Mercer cares to make it. Having said that *slams notebook on table* BUCKLE UP, KIDDOS.
There are two ways Essek may have been recruited: he approached the Assembly or the Assembly approached him. I think the Assembly approached him. Not to be too hard on the guy, but Essek said it himself: he’s kind of a coward. I can’t see him mustering up the nerve to take that first step. Plus his espionage seems to have focused specifically on the beacons rather than dunamancy as a whole; that sounds like the Assembly to me. The beacons specifically offer the prospect of immortality and the Cerberus mages are arrogant enough to assume they can figure out dunamancy themselves if they have a beacon in hand. There’s no way the Assembly haven’t been trying to beg, borrow, or steal those beacons for centuries. Essek may not have even been their first try - just the first that worked. 
Chronologically, Essek would have popped up on either the Assembly or the Augen Trust’s radar quite early as I assume they keep tabs on all powerful Dynasty mages. As they followed his career, the Assembly would have ID’d Essek as a perfect target for recruitment as a spy, and then further for ego-based recruitment. Recruitment for espionage is a slow process - even slower in a fantasy world where some races reasonably expect to live 500+ years. Many intelligence agencies will do a sort of light meet-and-greet just to start a file on various people who might years later be of interest. The Assembly would have cultivated Essek as an intelligence asset with the same degree of time and care - and using some of the same methods - that Trent used to turn the Blumenthal trio into assassins. 
If they followed a modern playbook, they would have made contact with Essek anywhere from 2 to 10 years before the theft - nothing underhanded. A Cerberus mage approaches him at a negotiation or conference and strikes up a conversation. Then it’s increasing “chance” encounters to get Essek familiar with the handler, play the “we’re both mages, really we’re on the same side” angle to earn enough sympathy & trust to start talking regularly. Once the channel’s open, the handler and asset meet and/or talk routinely while the handler assesses the target’s motives, weaknesses, and the possibility that they’re a double agent. 
Espionage proper then starts with small favors, acts Essek can rationalize as victimless or even helpful to the Dynasty. In this stage the handler is getting the asset comfortable with engaging in espionage. They reward the asset for what feels like minimal moral trespass. For Essek that would have been praising his research, encouraging avenues of investigation they knew the Dynasty had shut down. Having meetings with Ludinus plays right into the ego trip - the Head of the Assembly himself is taking the time to meet with him! The Assembly gets how important this work is! That keeps Essek isolated from Dynasty members who might convince him to take a step back and builds loyalty to the Assembly over the Dynasty.
Once an asset settles in, espionage becomes easier. Routines get established. Moral hurdles have been overcome. Now the asks get bigger and the rewards get sparser. The handler will suggest larger acts just to get the asset thinking about them, since the more they consider “just hypothetically” how to pull it off, the more likely it is they’ll do it. This is where the idea of stealing the beacons would get introduced (though of course it’s been the goal all along.) I’ll bet the Assembly hinted at all the study that could be done if they could just get to the beacons in person, constantly bemoaning the lack of access. By now Essek sees the Assembly as colleagues in arcane pursuits, kindred minds, unlike the boring, stuffy old mages of the Dynasty. Of course he could outwit the Dynasty’s security and get the beacons to the Assembly - he’s a prodigy, a genius, everyone says so. And it’s not like he was stealing all of them. The consecuted would be fine. Everyone would be fine.
None of this is intended to absolve Essek of personal responsibility. But it provides a context for his actions, and for why he might regret them so much even though he apparently did them willingly. Asset handlers are very, very good at drawing someone willing to commit minor transgressions into far greater crimes. Look at how Trent shaped Caleb, Astrid, and Eadwulf. He didn’t order them to execute their own parents on day one. He spent years coaxing, tempting, and coercing them into darker and darker crimes, letting them rationalize their own actions at each step, preying on the same vulnerabilities as Essek: isolation (separating the three from other students, telling them their work was secret), ambition (the promise of great arcane power, of shaping the Empire’s destiny), and ego (”we were going to keep the empire safe,” telling them they were gifted, they were chosen).
So how do IRL spies rationalize their actions? Those who spy for reasons of conscience or ideology have done the rationalizing ahead of time, but everyone else has to get there somehow. Some who spy for revenge tell themselves it’s what their superiors deserve, while others tell themselves everyone’s doing it. Some just need a lie to get started (most commonly about who they’re spying for), while others have to keep up the charade all along. Let’s look at a few cases similar to Essek’s that demonstrate just how slippery the slope can be.
Aldrich Ames, a long-term CIA officer slash double agent for the KGB, got suckered in by thinking he could control the situation and wasn’t really hurting anyone. Ames had chronic financial trouble related to excessive drinking & his wife’s lavish lifestyle and in 1985 came up with a plan: he would essentially con the KGB by selling them a minor amount of classified info that he deemed “virtually worthless.” In April he set up the exchange and the KGB paid him $50,000, enough to satisfy his immediate debts. But after actually doing it Ames said he felt he’d now crossed a line he couldn’t step back from, and continued to sell information to the Soviets. By the time he was caught he had, by his own admission, compromised “virtually all Soviet agents of the CIA.”
While some assets just need a lie to get started, others require a delicate dance of self-delusion. Col. George Trofimoff was an Army officer who ran the center where would-be Soviet defectors were assessed & questioned. Trofimoff, a Russian émigré at a young age, was chronically in debt. In 1969 he renewed his acquaintance with his stepbrother back in Russia, now a bishop in the Russian Orthodox Church, and began to pass secrets in return for money - but he and his stepbrother never framed the transactions as such. Trofimoff described their meetings as, “very informal. ... First, it was just a conversation between the two of us. He would ask my opinion on this and that--then, he would maybe ask me, 'Well, what does your unit think about it?' Or, 'What does the American government think about it?’” His compensation was similarly informal: “I said I needed money. ... And he says, 'I tell you what, I'll loan it to you.' So he gave me, I think, 5,000 marks and then, it wasn't enough, because I needed more. ... Then he says, 'Well, you know, I'll tell you what. You don't owe me any money. And if you need some more, I can give you some more. Don't worry about it. You're going to have to have a few things, this and that.' And this is how it started.” Trofimoff could pretend to himself that he wasn’t really spying - just having a chat with his stepbrother - and wasn’t really getting paid for it - just borrowing a little money.
This got longer than I intended it to be and there’s still plenty to talk about, so I’ll save the rest for a second post. Next time: what happens long-term to espionage assets? And what happens if an asset regrets their actions and/or attempts to cut off contact with their handlers?
(This accidentally turned into a series on Essek & IRL espionage: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4)
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cornfarm · a year ago
waves against the rocks
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saiki kusuo x reader
word count: 2.0k
synopsis: you show saiki your powers. he’s unbearibly jealous, yet for the first time, he feels seen and understood by another person.
cws: mention of the reader having a bad family
genre: melancholic fluff
reader is gender neutral!
greetings... i promise i’m working on cease and desist part 2 but i keep starting one shots;; I ALSO DECIDED TO CHANGE MY TEXT FORMAT... i yoinked all the capital letters away... it feels a bit more liberating
whenever i make my crazy op self insert oc, i always think about how i can make them a foil/double to the characters i like. for example my gintama s/i is also a traumatized war veteran. i thought like... wouldn’t it be fun to write the reader character as a direct foil AND double to saiki? they have everything he doesn’t, but he has a lot that they dont and it’s like,., mutual jealousy.
i also wanted to write saiki properly empathizing with someone. aiura and toritsuka are so fun because they both have different moral compasses with their powers and how they’d like to use them. however despite the fact theyre all psychics, saiki can’t really empathize with either of them.
i wanted to have saiki be excited about something, and feel truly seen. empathy is a very powerful thing.
i hope the “ability” i chose isn’t too cringe;;;
i can’t help but feel like i write saiki ooc so feedback would be super appreciated!
perception. the way people are seen by others, the mental images and sour thoughts rooted in nothing but misconception. the falsafied persona of greatness, beauty, and kindness. perception.
you kept saiki afterschool. tugging at his sleeve, you quietly asked “i need to show you something, stay here for a few extra minutes?”. he refused you at first, but you stayed firm, “i need you to stay.” fierce. he decided to stay.
but you stood before saiki, right? were you there? he suddenly felt a bit weary, head pounding at the thought of you. your name, voice, scent, failing to find matches in his library of records. when he thought of you, his brain flickered through the faces and names of everyone else he knew.
you were a gap, a void, a sudden unconjurable memory. it was horrifying. but he quickly accepted it. the body circling behind of him was none of his concern, because there was nobody there. he supposes he should go home now. why was he standing alone in the classroom anyways?
firm hands land on his shoulders, warm, present. he remembers why he’s here.
“it’s not that i’m invisible, it’s just that your brain can’t recognize me, and refuses to acknolwedge me as a thing that exists.”
like a wave crashing against a rocky shore, the void is filled. your voice, your scent, your name, all slotted back into place in his mental library. he recognizes the hands on your shoulders as yours. 
a hand snakes around and pushes up his glasses, covering his eyes.
“it’s not about visibility, it’s perception. you are unable to percieve me as a living thing, or of anything of importance. that’s why you can’t read my thoughts, and that’s why you’re so quick to give up trying to recall me.”
he’s practically trembling- you have one power. it was simple, but it managed to find a loophole around practically all of his.
“that’s terrifying.”
you take your hands away and step in front of him. he adjusts his glasses properly.
“were you born with it?”
you nod, “it caused me trouble when i was a kid. i almost got left at an airport,” you chuckle.
“does anyone else know?”
“i’ve tried to tell my parents but they don’t believe me. they called me a liar and delusional, so i decided to stop trying with them. nobody else knows, i’ve never told any of my past friends either. when i found out about your powers, i thought maybe someone would finally understand. that’s the only reason i wanted to tell you.”
your lip quivers, “you believe me, right?”
truth be told, saiki’s stunned. he wasn’t expecting someone like you to have such an abrasive ability. despite how reclusive and fittingly unnoticeable it is, it was certainly powerful.
he’s jealous. you were able to freely aquire something he wanted- privacy, but he does believe you, afterall he just watched you waltz around him, outside of his keen field of view. 
“yeah, i do.”
you smile, bright and wide- you’re nearly trembling. was being believed that big of a deal to you?
you take a step forward and embrace him, wrapping your arms around his torso as your head presses against his chest. he goes a bit stiff, and glances at the door. “hey, someone might walk in-”
“it’s fine.” you look up at him, meeting his eyes, and oh. your eyes are glimmering, shining greater than he’s ever seen them, “they won’t.”
burying your face back into him, he tenataively wraps his arms around your back. you continue, voice muffled, “’m sorry, you’re the first person who’s accepted me. i’m happy.”
the emotional explanation for your actions ease him a bit, “it’s fine.” he states back.
you finally pull away, and for a brief moment as you lose connection, you flicker out of his view, but you come back in again, placing your hand on his.
“actually, i can touch you while using my power without you being affected by them, but i’m manually using it on you right now.”
“if you touch someone while making sure they still can’t see you, what does that make them experience?” his voice is clear, a bit fierce in tone. you always had trouble reading saiki, but you could tell that this was interest. perhaps he was threatened, but he was certainly intrigued.
“they might whirl around and look who’s touching them and account it to a person around them, but if not, they might think they’re having sensory hallucinations. i can also talk to people, but because my voice doesn’t have any weight to it, it’s almost like a hypnotic suggestion.”
“so you can brainwash people?”
“not necessarily,” you let go of his hand, you must have released your power, your eyes are dark, “if i suggest something to someone and it’s something mild, they’re more likely to do it because it already falls into their line of thinking. if i suggest something bold, they might do it thinking it’s an impulsive thought.”
“most people won’t do extreme things, they’ll read those as intrusive thoughts. but sometimes people think my voice is the voice of god, or a passed on relative, and will do intense things regardless of their judgement. others have poor impulse control, and some are just batshit crazy.”
you sheepishly scratch your head, “but i don’t really like having that much control over people. i don’t want to use my powers to hurt anyone.”
“do you want to use them to help people?”
you pause. it seems you’ve thought about this quite a bit.
“well my powers can’t help people. they give me the ability to help people, but they can’t help people directly. i think it’s a matter of it i’m strong enough to help people.”
“are you?”
“would you hate me if i said no? of course i lend a hand to my friends when they need it, but i don’t think i’m strong enough to really make a difference. i want to live peacefully.”
you look down at your hands, “i wish i wasn’t born with it.”
saiki felt unnervingly softhearted. he struggled empathizing with his peers, but his heart pounded in solemn familiarity. “i don’t hate you for that, i’m the same. having the powers i do means i have the responsibility of keeping the world in peace. people would be jealous of me for the self-fulfilling purposes i could use my powers for, but i don’t want to use my powers to hurt people. i don’t want to help anyone either. i just want to be left alone.”
guilt. guilt was a disease, just like jealousy is. it eats at you from the inside, and creeps up at times least expected. it left both of you hollow and empty.
“i wish i didn’t have powers,” he continues, “i don’t think i’ve ever properly experienced life in the way i’m supposed to, like everyone else has. i’m envious of you, you’ve had a bit more normalcy than me.”
“i suppose we’re equally unhappy, then,” you smile at him. he had been staring out the window, but he turns to looks at you. you’re leaning on the door of the classroom, tilting your head, you ask him a silent “walk home with me?”. 
“i mean,” you begin, “i’ve missed out on a lot. i’ve always had trouble making friends- my powers made it difficult for people to remain interested in me. i’ve gotten pretty good at controlling them, pk academy has been really good to me, but it doesn’t heal the damage it’s caused me.”
your teeth gnaw at your lower lip, “your family is so supportive of you, they love you so much, it makes me angry. i wish i could say the same about mine.”
it wasn’t too empty in the school, but your footsteps were loud and clear, both you and saiki walking in sync. saiki didn’t really know what to say, so he stayed silent. 
sighing, you continue, “i don’t want to be alone, but it’s too easy to be reclusive when that’s where you’ve always been. if you live a life of isolation, making friends is scary and draining,” a grim smile forms on your face, as if you’re trying to comfort yourself.
but saiki does have to admit that the two of you have much more in common than he initially thought. he quietly thinks to himself, perhaps he could use your abilities.
“y/n,” he begins, eyes meeting yours, “will you do me a favor?”
“yeah, what is it?”
he doesn’t like being indebted to people, but he wants to test your limits. you don’t give him the chance to ask, “you want me to use my powers while we walk out together, don’t you.”
his mouth falls a bit open, lips parting, “how did you know?”.
you laugh, “you’re not the only one who can read minds,” and reach out to wrap a hand around his forearm. he raises a brow at you, seemingly amused by your comment. he expected you to take his hand again, but your firm grip on his arm was admitedly unexpected.
he felt his heart skip a beat.
“well? are you doing it?”
“yup, you won’t feel any different though.”
walking down the steps together, people passed the two of you, strangers, familiar faces, teachers. nobody noticed.
the two of you passed toritsuka at the steps, but he paid no mind. “you know,” saiki started, “when i use my invisibility power, that guy can still see me.” 
“can he?” you murmur, your voice a bit low. 
“if it’s easier, you can just think what you’d like to say to me, we can talk that way.”
you squint your eyes in concentration, “like this?” you think to yourself. 
you smile. you continue to hold onto his arm as he changes his shoes. 
“that must be frustrating, that he can still see you.”
he nods. he supposes if toritsuka can’t see you, then aiura probably can’t track you- and him, down either. 
“hold onto my arm while i change mine.”
without breaking contact, he gently wraps his fingers around your wrist. you hastily change your shoes, and slide your hand a bit up, taking his in yours.
“is it neccesary to hold hands?” he asks. his expression was nearly deadpanned, but the slight crease in his brows communicated just enough. he felt sheepish, a bit lost.
“no, but it’s nice.” 
teruhashi stands idly at the exit, waiting, doing her best to gently shake off the boys that surrounded her.
“she’s looking for me.”
“is she? do you want to talk to her?”
you pause. 
“is she the reason you asked me to do this for you?”
he nods.
you turn and head towards the gate, but not before waving a hand in front of her face. you take a deep breath, before exclaiming a loud “teruhashi!”. she whirls around, trying to find the source of the voice, looking rather bewildered.
letting out a hearty laugh, you grin up at him. a slight huff of air escapes his upturned lips.
the two of you slip past the front gate.
“but you owe me something in return, i don’t give out my labor for free!”
he sighs, “what would you like?”
“wait, really? i was joking, you don’t have to do anything for me!” you double down on your demands.
“you say that, but i know you’re secretly hoping i’ll treat you.”
“shit, i forgot you can read my mind. that’s so invasive.” you pout, “not fair!”
“it’s fine, i don’t like being indebted to people, and you did do me a favor like i asked, so i’ll take you somewhere.”
you look a bit nervous, “really? you’re sure?”
“just accept the offer before i revoke it.”
you twirl in a circle, letting go of his hand and hopping a few steps ahead of him. “you’re buying me a nice coffee then!” 
he lunges out to take it again.
and once more in sync, both of your hearts skip a beat.
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shroudcore · a year ago
Speak now, or forever hold your peace. (II)
Summary: You crash the wedding with Grim and Ortho. Unlike the others, proposing isn’t on your mind. You come with a very different approach. 
An angstier take on Ghost Marriage. Idia x GN!reader. Reader is MC, or takes the role of MC in this story. (Part 1) (Part 2) (Part 3) (Part 4)
Warnings: none
If the students of NRC thought they’ve seen Eliza at her angriest, they were wrong. The fury she displayed now was incomparable. While Idia fawned over your dramatic anime-worthy entrance, the new interruption was getting on her last ghostly nerve.
“Guards! Seize them!” she roared. Immediately, the ghosts went into action. Idia held his breath as he watched the obedient ghosts charge at you, Grim, and Ortho. He hoped you didn’t barge in with no plan. If you didn’t come equipped with useful items, you would end up like everyone else. 
Chubby, determined to get rid of the intruders that caused distress to his beloved princess, was eager to get rid of you. (”Simp”, Idia muttered) However, eagerness wasn’t enough against an opponent equally as determined. As soon as he got too close, an unknown force threw him backwards to where Eliza floated, shocking the princess.
“Chubby! Are you alright?”
Idia, on the other hand, was elated. 
“Th-that’s so OP!” he exclaimed. He knew you heard him, because your gaze flicked to him for a split second before looking away. Embarrassed, Idia shut his mouth. He’d expected at least a smile. 
After Chubby’s failed attack, other ghosts attempted to face your group. They only met the same fate. Confused, they could only pay their apologies to the princess and watch on in helplessness. Just what did you have up your sleeve? Who did you get such an SS-tier item from?
“Princess, it’s impossible to stop them!” the last of Eliza’s guards told her. For the first time that night, she looked afraid. 
Grim guffawed, while you smirked. A familiar look. It was always there before you jumpscared an enemy, or before you checkmated a poor opponent. Idia might have thought it was kinda hot. At the moment, he was oblivious to his gaping mouth, and how wildly his hair blazed. What were once lightly blushing tips were now an alarming red—a level of ferocity never seen from him before. 
“You can’t touch or hurt us!” boasted Grim, a devious smirk on his face. “We had some he—mprfgh!” He was abruptly cut off by Ortho’s robotic arm covering his mouth. Idia’s brother shook his head at your noisy dorm mate. 
“Release my big brother now!” he demanded. Idia grimaced, but didn’t feel too worried. As long as Ortho was with you and your anti-ghost protective shield, he would be safe. 
As expected, the ghosts were affronted. 
“How dare he order the princess like that?”
“You ought to be punished for your insolence!”
“To intrude on a royal wedding and speak disrespectfully! 
“Send them to the gallows!”
One talked, and one talked over the other. Soon, all that could be heard was an unintelligible susurrus of disembodied voices. One ghost had enough of it, and shouted to Eliza: “Princess, the kiss! Do what must be done!” 
“NO!” You and Ortho yelled at the same time. You continued to walk towards the makeshift altar as your two companions followed close behind. Ghosts rushed to block your path, but you pressed on as your invisible shield threw them back. It looked absolutely badass. Well, anything you did was cool to Idia, anyway. 
 “Out of my way!” You commanded, strong and unwavering. He’d seen you annoyed and angry before, but never up to this point. It basically radiated off of you that a danger warning could be floating above your head. 
“S-so intimidating... “
“So scary!”
Sure, this wedding crasher looked like you, but something was different. An unexplainable sinister aura wreathed you tonight. Was it your glare, or was it that regal suit you wore? Idia must have been too distracted by you, that he only noticed now how your cape seemed to drag shadows with it. You were a villain... much like one of the villains from his video games! And something else that was familiar. 
Whatever it was and wherever it came from, there was a menacing presence in the hall tonight. 
All were silent, except for the wind whistling through the hall. If one listened more carefully, they would hear drowned-out cackles. But it is just the wind, right?
“Wh-who are you?” Eliza finally asked. The ghosts who were ashamed at being unable to seize you began to form a protective ring around their princess. Eliza herself, Idia noticed, was starting to curl in on herself—her presence shrinking the closer you approached. “What do you want?”
“The groom,” was all you said, staring her down as if eyes alone could exterminate the ghost in front of you. 
“Idia?” she asks weakly, glancing at her tied-up groom. Idia said nothing and did nothing but look at you, attempting to telepathically communicate his panic. You barely even looked at him. 
“He’s mine.” 
Hold up—?
More gasps and chatter. They sounded less like whispers and more like the buzzing insects he heard whenever he snuck out at midnight. The world spun. Idia stared at you open-mouthed. 
If he were asked to describe his state of mind at this moment, it would be similar to a loading screen. Suddenly, everything you did together played back in a 1.75x supercut sequence. 
“Wh-what?” Eliza sputtered. “What do you mean?” 
You answered her, voice losing the steadiness it possessed just moments ago. “You have the man I love.” 
Idia.exe has crashed. Reboot? 
The audience’s reactions were varied. Some students on the floor were amused by the spectacle and could have used some popcorn (and a comfortable position) during these times. Some were horrified and disappointed by the idea of the prefect being in love with Idia Shroud the shut-in. Some were much too confused to feel anything. 
“Pardon…? What did I just hear?” Azul asked the floor.
“Puppy love,” Lilia wept, sniffling very loudly. “You know, this reminds me of when I was young...” 
“Whaddaya mean when you were young?!” Floyd snapped. His irritability had spiked up even more when you arrived. His position prevented him from witnessing the events. Everyone on the floor could feel his bad mood rolling off of him in waves. 
“Hey! Watch your tone when speaking to Lilia!” scolded Sebek. 
“... Are they acting?” Leona mumbled. 
“Oh, this better be an act.”  said Vil.  “... though it does not seem to be.” The last part of his observation remained unheard by anyone else, except for Rook. 
“I believe we are witnessing a genuine love confession,” added the Chasseur d’Amour himself, voice soft as he sighed dreamily. “Engrave this moment into your memories, everyone! We are fortunate to witness it…”
But no one shared his enthusiasm about the situation. The others expressed their displeasure by groaning and complaining. “... well, even in this state we are in?” he added as a follow-up. 
You once fell asleep on Idia’s shoulder after finishing a movie. It was something you both only watched to make fun of, but you were apparently too tired to give your top-tier jokes and meme references. The contact sent his heart into overdrive as he froze, begging for option boxes to appear and help him. The flames of his hair blazed so brightly that it woke you back up. It was embarrassing, and sometimes he would remember it late at night and cringe. 
It was happening again, but worse. Any moment now, he was sure that he alone could burn down the cafeteria, if not the whole school. This was stupid. Why did he get that worked up over an obvious act? A mere ploy to get the ghosts to release him?
Reality catches up and deals him triple attack damage. Crowley probably put you up to this. You were probably annoyed that you were forced to do this, weren’t you? That’s why you couldn’t even look at him. It had to be the cruelest joke that fate ever threw his way. 
“I can’t say I don’t understand you, Princess,” you tell Eliza, forcing a smile. “Idia is perfect, is he not?” He felt your eyes on him. This time, it was he who couldn’t quite meet your gaze. Looking down at the floor was all he could do; it couldn’t judge his blushing face. Only when the warmth in his cheeks faded did he feel it safe to look back up again. 
“You see him, don’t you, Princess?” Your voice began to falter, losing the confidence and authority in it that scared the ghosts. “He’s so much more than what everyone else thinks! We agree on that, don’t we?”
Eliza’s face softened, nodding. “Yes. I’ve seen how these people insult him!” she tells you, gesturing to the ‘failed princes’ on the floor.
“But we’re still different,” you stepped closer, but still far enough so that your invisible anti-ghost forcefield wouldn’t activate. “You don’t want to marry Idia, you want to marry your fairytale prince.” 
Eliza appeared to be genuinely confused. She looked around at her companions, before turning back to you. “What do you mean?”
“You’re in love with your ideals, not the person himself,” you explain. “You only chose him for his appearance. Am I right? His personality, likes and dislikes, and possible flaws don’t matter to you.”
Eliza seemed deep in thought. While she was silent, you release a bitter laugh and threw your hands up.  “I mean, do you even know what his favorite candy is?”
Pomegranate drops. You asked to have some, but he refused to give you any. He wouldn’t tell you why, but he let you assume it was his favorite and didn’t want to share because of that. 
That wasn’t it, though. Maybe he’d tell you once you were both out of here. 
“You’ve never stayed up until 4am just to join him on a raid!” You waved your hands wildly, lost in your rant. Whether Eliza understood you or not, you seemed to have stopped giving a damn. 
“Weak!” he teased, noticing your drooping eyelids and reduced concentration. Deep down, he felt bad for keeping you up late.  “Look, it’s fine if you need to rest.”
“Nah, let’s finish this. What are you going to do without me?” you replied, smirking.
“You don’t even have 4-hour conversations with him on Magicord VC like I do!” 
It lasted up until 3am. You two were laughing at memes. He could hear a groggy Grim complain in the background about the noise. 
“Alright. Here’s a question, princess. How much would you risk for the man beside you right now? Bet that’s where we’re different...”
Eliza’s gaze darted back and forth between you and Idia. Even the other ghosts were silent, waiting for your next words. 
“... because if you ask me, I would risk everything! That’s why I’m here wearing this stupid suit!”
It’s not real. It’s not real. The emotion behind every word was a punch to the gut. If you kept this up, he might need a healer soon. Ever since he realized he was falling, he tried to quell the sparks of hope you ignited whenever you did something nice for him. All that hard work was gone. Each word you uttered was gasoline. 
“To think that if I arrived minutes later… th-that I would never see him again!” A sob escapes your throat, your intimidating persona crumbling.
No, don’t do that. Idia wanted to reassure you that he was still there and he was okay, but he couldn’t. It’s part of an act. It’s part of an act. 
“So please… just let him go.” The front you wore has completely dissolved. There you were, reduced to a sobbing mess in front of a ghost princess and the students of NRC. 
You weren’t the only one. All traces of anger or fear have vanished from Eliza’s face. Instead, she put her hands over her mouth. The princess had been moved to tears. Finally, she turns to Idia. “Idia, they seem to l-love you very much… ”
“That’s right.” You wiped your tear-streaked face and pointed an accusing finger at the ghosts. “And all of you! Are you going to enable her forever? Encourage her shallow ideas of what love should be?” 
They all looked down, unable to meet your eyes. 
“You have no right to just snatch him up and claim him as yours,” you told Eliza with an unfaltering resolve, despite your tear-covered face and your crumbled front of strength. “Did you never think… that there could have been someone waiting for him to return?” 
“I-I never meant to!” Eliza cried. “I was so blinded by my own happiness. I never thought… never even considered…” 
“Princess, it’s alright. We all make mistakes.” Chubby told her, trying to be reassuring. 
“Tell me, intruder. How else am I going to find my prince?” she asked you with no trace of hostility. You stopped for a while, staring at her. 
You must not have expected the question. Idia saw you look at him—it was the longest time you’d looked at him all evening. Clearing your throat, you began to explain. You fumbled a bit, scratching the back of your neck and tugging at the hem of your coat as you explained what a perfect partner should be. 
As you spoke, Idia was enthralled by your voice and most of all, the knowledge you possessed about love and romance. He hadn’t seen this side of you before. How did he ever think that a hundred dating sims could make him a romance expert?
“Is that so?” she sighs, bowing her head. “I understand now. I’m so sorry… for causing you so much grief.” 
She turns to her companions, giving them a sad smile. “There’s only one thing to do. Everyone, we must stop this wedding.” 
Idia wanted to fall to the floor in relief. At least a few exhausted sighs and weak cheers could be heard from the wedding “attendees”. You fell to your knees, exaggerating your gratitude. 
“Thank you, princess!”
“But Princess… what about your happily ever after?” Chubby interjected. 
“I can’t tear two lovers apart!” Eliza wipes a few of her own tears, then turns to you. “I was deeply moved by your words. I dream of having a lover like you,” she sighs dreamily, probably imagining her future lover already. 
While the students of NRC rejoiced at this victory, Idia’s heartbeat quickened in fear. What if Eliza decided to take you for herself?
“Princess…” Chubby muttered, sighing. Eliza only gave him a reassuring smile. Phew. Idia relaxed, grateful that she doesn’t have the idea… yet. He didn’t know what to do if that thought became reality. 
Eliza turns to address the hall with a smile. “I have decided.” Everyone waited with bated breath for her announcement. Idia squeezed his eyes shut and silently urged her to announce their departure already. 
“Idia and I will not be married anymore. She smiles wide, and clasps her hands together. “However, there will still be a wedding!”
Your smile faded. “What… what do you mean, princess?”
She beams. “To make up for my mistake, I will make sure that Idia and his lover are married tonight!” 
To be continued.
Tagging: @teashopwritingzz @twistedcrumbs 
Well, that was long. To think that I was planning for the story to be a one-shot! Once again, keep an eye out for Part 3. Thank you for reading! 
(Part 1) (Part 2) (Part 3) (Part 4)
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zhanyes · a year ago
Tianshan dating headcannons because i also love these two dumbasses too
Also dedicated to @el-mundo-real who requested tianshan headcannons 🖤
. . .
- Literally no one knows whether they’re dating or not. Not even themselves because they don’t talk about it
- Jian yi thinks they’re dating already and Zhengxi says they’re still getting there (somehow they’re both right) and they make a bet
- He tian likes staying over at Mo’s and he’s gotten pretty close to mama Mo
- Mama Mo teaches him how to knit !! He tried to knit a scarf for Mo but it came out a little messy and tangled. Mo still wears it anyway saying it’s a waste of yarn if not used (He’s actually really touched)
- He eats dinner there about 5 times a week and sleeps over thrice a week. He’s a permanent fixture in the house now, he has his own plate and mug, utensils, toothbrush, a spare key, and more than half of his closet migrated to Mo’s closet
- Sometimes Mo “accidentally” wears He tian’s sweaters and He tian dies a little bit every time
- Sometimes He tian deliberately wears Mo’s clothes and it’s always tighter and a bit shorter on his body so when he moves his arms the shirt rides up. Mo guanshan shouts at him to change and to stop contaminating his clothes but his ears are red anyway
- They bicker A LOT. Over the smallest things because He tian loves riling him up and Mo gets riled up too easily
He tian, for the 7th time in 5 minutes: “What does this thing do?”
- There are times when homicide is the best option
Mo Guanshan: “I acknowledge that I can be mean sometimes-”
He tian, in the bathtub: “Sometimes?”
Mo Guanshan: “Shut the fuck up. So I brought you a bath bomb as a peace offering.”
He tian: “That’s a fucking toaster.”
Mo guanshan: “Exactly. A bath bomb.”
- Contrary to what his actions say, Mo guanshan is actually relieved that He tian spends most of his time in their apartment. He tian never told him but he can see how lonely the other teenager is
- Mo guanshan tries to teach He tian chores because He tian knows nothing about cleaning or doing everyday things
Mo guanshan: “How the fuck do you not know how to wash dishes where the hell do you eat?!”
He tian, drinking milk straight out the carton: “Obviously on plates, Momo. I just throw them away after.”
Mo guanshan, sputtering: “WHY THE FUCK WOULD YOU THROW OUT PLATES?!”
- The first and only recipe that He tian managed to cook successfully is instant noodles with boiled egg that’s not quite cooked enough. Sometimes he brings Mo noodles as breakfast in bed and he looks so proud of it Mo has a hard time saying that the noodles are overcooked and that noodles aren’t exactly breakfast food (he eats it anyway)
- Mo sometimes, only sometimes, brings He tian grocery shopping because he needs to learn how to buy food for himself. Somehow He tian always ends up in the miscellaneous section where he has a pack of ballpens he’ll never use, 2 journals he’ll also never use, a couple of scented candles, various dog clothes and leashes for the dog he doesn’t have, a couple’s mug, and a vase in his cart
- He tian stopped trying to barge into Mo guanshan’s bed and sleeps on the futon on the floor beside it. It’s not the most comfortable and he had a hard time sleeping on it at first but he likes being in Mo’s company even while sleeping
- Sometimes Mo would move in his sleep and leave his arm dangling on the side of the bed, He tian grabs it of course and Mo wakes up to sweaty palms. He still leaves it for a few moments before harshly slapping away He tian’s hand
- Mo’s hands aren’t smooth at all because of working all the time and practicing the guitar but He tian loves them all the same. He likes to feel the contrast in textures with his slightly smoother hands
- He tian has a thousand pictures of Mo guanshan sleeping in various angles and poses. He has his favorites framed and keeps it on his bedside table in his apartment so when he’s sleeping there he still feels like they’re sleeping together
- Mo guanshan has a few of He tian sleeping but he swears up and down that he'll never do anything as disgusting as that. He makes one of them his wallpaper.
- Sometimes when they don’t feel like sleeping yet they stay up talking and arguing about random things
Mo guanshan: “Why would aliens be in space? The ocean is definitely the way to go.”
He tian: “But why would they be in the ocean? They’ll drown.”
Mo guanshan: “They’re aliens maybe they have gills or some shit.”
He tian: “I’m telling you they’re not in the ocean, Mo.”
Mo guanshan: “And I’m telling you you’re wrong, bastard.”
- On rare days they would stay up talking about their pasts and about life in general, with the lights closed and the only source of light is the moonlights from the window
- One of these nights, Mo told He tian about what happened to his dad and their restaurant, why they’re in so much debt over it and He tian holds Mo’s hand tightly throughout
- He knew better than to say that he could pay for that debt so Mo doesn’t need to worry anymore (He still says it anyway and Mo blew a fuse) but he swore to help Mo through other means
- The next day he orders a whole carton of mangoes, apples and peaches in his apartment and learns how to peel properly through youtube and Zhengxi
- He goes to Mo’s part time job in the grocery and helps him peel fruits, Mo guanshan doesn’t mention anything when he notices the bandaids on the other’s hands but he does cook him beef stew for dinner
- As expected He tian’s presence brings more customers and the manager asks if he wants to work there permanently but he said he’s only working for Mo so the manager can give Mo a raise instead
- Once, Mo got sick so he missed his part time job for the day (He was supposed to give away flyers on the streets) and got extra pissy because He tian didn’t visit him and wouldn’t answer his phone 
- Apparently He tian took over his job for the day and he only finds out when he goes to the manager and the manager asks when his ‘boyfriend’ can come back to work again because the customers love him
- He tian almost never talks about himself but once he talked about the puppy who disappeared after he saves it and then found out that it’s still alive after all these years
- Mo keeps quiet about it the whole time he was talking and the next few days he takes time to knit a small dog plushie and leaves it on He tian’s futon
- He tian didn’t cry, he didn’t (he did), but he hugged Mo and whispered a sincere thank you. For once, Mo lets it happen
- Mo quickly regrets his decision when He tian names the plushie “Chicken sandwich”
- He tian brings Mo in a lot of not-dates (according to Mo) like arcades, ocean parks, festivals, and fairs because he didn’t get to go as a kid and he wants to experience it for the first time with Mo
- They get crazy competitive in every game. Every. Single. One. If it’s a co-op shooting game they would compete on who kills the most enemies, if it’s a harmless crane game it becomes a competition of who can get the most plushies
- They both each have a photobooth strip. Mo keeps his as a bookmarker in a journal, and He tian has his in the back of his phone.
- They go on a double not-date with Jian yi and Zhengxi and it ends up in almost getting chased by a police car at 2 am in pokemon onesies and holding a bag of chips 
- Sometimes Mo would visit his dad in prison and just rant to him about He tian
Mo guanshan: “The nerve of that guy to do something like that in front of a teacher urgh.”
Papa Mo: “Your boyfriend sounds like a fun guy, son. I want to meet him soon.”
Mo guanshan: “BO-BOYFRIEND?!”
Papa Mo: “Yes???”
Mo guanshan: “No??? That bastard isn’t my boyfriend??”
Papa Mo: “Are you sure about that?”
Mo guanshan: “...Yes?”
- Enter gay panique because he doesn’t actually know whether He tian is his boyfriend or not
- They don’t call each other boyfriends and they never talked about it so no??? But they’re also not just friends so maybe??? Do they go on dates?? Can grocery trips be considered dates??
- He rings up Jian yi and the blonde just laughed for 5 minutes straight without stopping and he wonders how he’s still breathing
Mo Guanshan, after hearing Jian yi laughing for 5 minutes: “Are you fucking done?”
Jian yi, trying to catch his breath: “Man this is some top-tier entertainment.”
Mo guanshan: “WELL?!”
Jian yi: “Look bro literally no one knows whether you’re dating, fucking, planning each other’s murder OR planning a murder together.”
Mo guanshan: “What if it’s all of the above?”
Jian yi: “Then congratulations…? Please don’t murder me?”
Mo guanshan: “Urgh you’re fucking useless I should have called Zhengxi.”
Jian yi: “Wait don’t, I don’t wanna lose the bet. How about this, there’s a festival upcoming for couples and families, if He tian asks you then you’re probably, maybe, dating?”
Mo guanshan: “That’s stupid. AND WHAT BET?!”
Jian yi: “Ah woops gotta water my dog.”
- Mo tells himself that it’s stupid and there’s no way he’s falling for that...but he feels disappointed anyway when He tian doesn’t ask him the following days
- He tian asks on the last day before the festival, but he asks mama Mo first and Mo guanshan second cuz he wants to celebrate with both of them. He confessed that he’s never actually went to a festival with a family before so he was trying to build up courage to ask
- Mo guanshan is an absolute goner after that
- On the day of the festival, they find Zhanyi there on a date but decide to leave them alone. While they were leaving Jian yi kept throwing Mo guanshan so much winks that Zhengxi thought he got something in his eye
- The festival was fun but Mo couldn’t take his eyes off how happy and content He tian looks
- Queue cliche fireworks scene but it’s He tian being amazed by the fireworks and Mo looking mesmerized at him thinking, “Ah, I want him to look at me like that.”
- The next day, he drags He tian to visit his dad in jail
Papa mo: “Oh this is a surprise, you’ve never brought someone before?”
He tian, trying to introduce himself: “Hello, sir. I’m He tian, Mo guanshan’s fri-”
Mo guanshan, cuts him off: “Boyfriend. He’s my boyfriend, dad.”
He tian:
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hawnks · a year ago
coincide pt. ii
hawks (takami keigo) x reader
pg13 (this chapter)
word count: 5,500
Guess only love could hurt this bad.
[soulmate au, avian keigo, slow burn, good and bad coping mechanisms, pining & pining, slight scent kink…., oh oof ouch]
Warnings: alcohol mention, slight stalking, allusions to sexual activity
beta’d by the marvelous @keilemlucent
You don’t see each other for twenty eight days. It’s another iteration of The Incident, but this one leaves your chest feeling all caved in, all empty. It makes you want to cry.
You don’t, of course. You’re so far beyond crying over crushes. At peace with your place in the world. Kind of. 
Part of you is mad. Furious, even. You were not the initiator. You just let how nice he felt between your thighs cloud your judgment for a few minutes. And now this. The radio silence. 
You both should have known better. 
But the anger and blame is secondary. The ache is what overwhelms you. 
Back in highschool when you went through your desperate google binge, searching for a miracle cure for marklessness, you came across the concept of Soulmate Withdrawal. Being apart for too long is like suffocating, losing a piece of yourself. It hurts, physically as well as mentally. At its peak viciousness it can put a soulmate in the hospital, nearly comatose. Mostly it just feels like a bloodless limb. Pins and needles. Unscratched itch. 
Even that you craved. Wanted it so bad, to be able to be hurt in this special, sacred way. And you know you can’t, that pain is forever foreign to you, but—
You think this might be close. You can’t help it, what he does to you, how you miss him like a rib, like a lung. Something so intrinsic snuffed out of your life so simply. You wish you could take it back. It all felt so good, seemed so right. But if it meant having Keigo here, eating greasy breakfast food with you on the floor, chatting about stupid things, laughing so hard you cry… you’d do anything. Maybe. Probably. 
You start the text several times.
I’m sorry
Can we just 
I saw a pretty bird today and it reminded me of you
I saw a couple kissing and it reminded me of you
I’m not
I wish
It’s all meaningless, anyway. There aren’t any words that will fix it, that can suture the two of you back together, to that tender thing you were. There aren’t any that will make you feel better.
And what if...he doesn’t want that, anyway. What if he realized this thing you have—had—was unsustainable? When he meets his soulmate are they going to be okay with him winding up at yours five nights out of the week? Would they be okay with it if they knew what happened in his bed that afternoon?
Things were bound to change. You keep telling yourself that. 
Surface level, everything is average. You go to work, shoot shit with your coworkers, sneak snickerdoodles from the jar beside the register. You laugh, a few times even. You keep your hands clasped at your waist as you take orders at the counter, pretending you aren’t substituting his warmth for your own, like you don’t miss the sheer benevolence and goodness of someone simply holding onto you. 
More unsent texts. 
I got take out from that place you wanted to try 
Every fucking thing reminds me of you
Are you okay
Please tell me you’re okay
You feel like an animal softened and rounded out for the cold, on the verge of sleeping for six months straight. Part of you wishes you could. The other part wishes you could just call him up:
Rough day? 
Everything? Rough. Maybe you’ll just go to bed for the rest of winter, wake up when the sun comes back. 
He knows it’s fucked up. He’s fucked up. But he can’t help it, needs—
It felt like he’s been dragging his body through day after day. He’s exhausted all the time. His handlers have quietly suggested that maybe he should report to medical, and he quietly snapped that maybe they should mind their own business, he’s fine.
He’s trying to be. Everyday he wakes and tells himself that he’ll ask you, that you’ll have an open discussion about all of it. Clearly you want something from him— time, friendship, orgasms. Whatever it is, however much of him you’ll accept, he’ll give it to you, gladly and gratefully. He just needs to know. Why won’t you tell him? 
Why can’t he just pick up the fucking phone and call you?
There’s an idea brewing in the back of his mind, so mean and painful he can’t even touch it directly. It just lingers at the edge of everything, looming. 
And if that’s it— if this big cruel thing is the truth and not just something his stress-addled brain made up… 
He can’t think about it. He won’t. 
Instead he gives into his baser instincts. 
He perches on the rooftop of some complex, watching as you trudge through a foot of snow toward the coffee shop. You’re all bundled up but he can tell from your gait, the pace of your steps. He can feel it’s you, as cliche as it sounds. 
And just being this close is enough to soothe the anxiousness in his gut, like coming up for air finally, like letting go after holding on too long. 
Like something necessary. 
He follows you all the way to work, the snow muffling the beating of his wings. He feels heavy as he glides. Almost like he’s being dragged down toward you. He has to correct his trajectory more than once, the gravity of your bond making him dip and swerve. 
Twice he falls into your line of sight. He holds his breath, clenches his fists as he waits for you to call out to him. He’s almost thirsty for it, for you to look up at him, all pretty and wide and raging, for you to yell at him for being such a creep. 
At least he would get to hear your voice. 
But you don’t look up and you don’t notice him. You make it to the coffee shop and are unlocking the door when his comm chimes in his ear. A robbery, two blocks East. Just ahead. 
He tucks his wings and picks up speed, knowing that you won’t be able to miss him as he passes, that you’ll see him. 
He tells himself not to, but—
He glances back. Just for a second. Just to sate the hungry clawing in his chest. 
And you’re standing there in the cool light of dawn, gloved hands linked against your stomach. You’re looking back at him. 
You need a change of pace. All of this? Unhealthy. Killing you a little. 
You redecorate your apartment, pick up some throw blankets from the Goodwill, buy some stools from a woman off craigslist. 
You toss out your old, ratty sneakers. You buy better fitting bras. 
And, drunk on fruit wine at two am, you make the choice to be something other than a barista. 
Not that you hate your job. Quite the opposite actually. You can come in everyday in your jeans and oversized sweater, bask in long-lived running jokes. You know your fellow opener's favorite song and where she buys her books. It all feels a little too like a home. 
You don’t want a job that’s diametrically cruel. Just something that will look at you and your sleepless eyes and twice-worn sweater and say do better. 
You send out several resumes with your paltry skill stack on them, the locations and job titles vast and indiscriminate. To your surprise, one of them sticks. 
You have no real affection for the hero game. When you applied for the job it had been a bit of a personal joke. “Would be something interesting to talk about at parties,” you tell your friends. 
You never expect to actually get it. 
But you do, and you’re honestly a little dazed as your new manager gives you the tour on your first day. It’s not that you’re unqualified—it’s entry level data entry—but these positions usually get snatched up by starry eyed fans, people with some stake in this. Your cover letter could best be described as a docile shrug.
It all happens so fast. 
Red Riot’s agency is small and tight knit. It’s a single floor of a high rise, with big windows and a hundred comfy places to sit, couches and bean bags, lawn chairs and floor cushions. There are several TVs around, each of them on hero news outlets, creating a quiet, constant buzz. 
Everyone smiles at you, especially the man giving you the tour. It ends in an office, the largest one here. Red Riot is waiting for you. 
He’s just as big and bright as you imagined him. He greets you with unabashed enthusiasm, shaking your hand for just a little too long. 
“It’s good to meet you. Real nice to have some fresh meat around here, yeah?”
He tells you the MO of the organization, about what your position would entail. The agency is in its infancy and they’re still learning what kind of staff they need, so you’ll be making most of the decisions about what your job entails. 
“I thought I was supposed to be working in the intelligence department,” you say, eyeing the empty desk on the other side of the office. 
He rubs the back of his neck. “It is a kind of intelligence, right? Just slightly to the left of stats analysis.”
You chat for the rest of the day. And Red Riot (“Call me Kirishima. No, for real.”) is… fun. Goofy in a way that puts you at ease, drags your personality out without censure or judgement. You missed that. Being yourself. 
At the end of your shift he insists on walking you out. He’s stopped by a staff member and as they chat you loiter next to one of the TVs. A breaking news story makes your breath catch. 
On the big screen you watch Keigo— Hawks, as he swoops and darts, quick as a blink. In two strikes he has the villain incapacated, ready to be taken in for processing. Then he’s airborne again. 
In the light his wings seem to glow, shining like struck flint as they expand and send a flurry of feathers after trapped civilians.
“Twenty two lives saved in less than a minute,” the reporter is saying. Her voice is slightly breathless, a little awestruck. You don’t blame her. “This is what a hero looks like, folks. Sheer competency; the man is cool and collected as he navigates the battlefield and the aftermath. Unrivaled talent—and just look at that smile.”
Hawks had caught sight of the camera and flashed a crowd pleasing grin. Just long enough for his PR to grab a shot for his socials, then he’s touching off again, leaving the scene. He’s so quick he hardly looks like anything as he flies. Just an arc of bright red, gone so fast you might think he was never there to begin with. 
“Yeah, he’s something,” Kirishima comes up behind you, hands on hips, smile dashing and bright. “That’s a real man right there.” 
Your heart is thrumming in your chest. You’re already thinking up excuses for why you might be crying in front of your new boss. But when you turn to pay him an answering nod you find that your throat doesn’t burn, your eyes don’t water. You’re just numb. That’s relieving and not. 
“Yeah,” you say. “He’s really great.”
He’s at the end of his rope. Assignments are piling up, missed press briefings and interviews. His assistants revamp his schedule on the daily. 
He’s always two seconds from lashing out, and no one on his staff deserves that, or any of his other bizarre mood swings. He’s only around people when it’s absolutely necessary, and even then he tries to keep interactions short. He hasn’t been eating well. Or sleeping. That little niggling of doubt and dread, the looming nastiness pokes at him like a caged animal. 
No one asks him what’s wrong. He wouldn’t tell them, anyway. 
And now they’re sending him away. A covert mission that will take a few weeks, at least. There’s been a rash of attacks on heroes, mainly targeting families and significant others; his job is to gather intel. He tries not to think of it as a punishment, but somewhere in the back of his mind he knows there’s a cause and effect. 
He leaves in sixteen hours. 
He can’t sleep. 
This isn’t new. At night he lays awake for hours at a time, vaguely uncomfortable in a hundred different ways. If the sleeplessness doesn’t kill him, the dreams might. 
They’re all about you. Of course. 
Sometimes they’re wet. He wakes shaking and misted with sweat, rutting against the mattress until he cums with a cry of your name, your face tearing through his memory
He’s familiar with the aftermath of those. He’d had enough of them during his younger years in the barracks, before he’d understood his sexuality, what he liked, what to do about it. Some faceless person, beautiful and kind. A precursor, a suggestion of you. The clean up is a bizarre ritual, but it’s nothing new.
Not like the other dreams are.
In them, you arrive home, or he does. It’s a space you share, live in equally. You’re both exhausted, too tired to say anything. He bundles you up in his arms, wings wrapped around you both. He carries you to bed. He tucks you both in. He kisses you on the forehead. 
Then he wakes up.
It’s one of those mornings, rolling around in the sheets, trying to get back to sleep. But without something to hold on to, every position feels wrong, uncomfy. He keeps turning instinctively, trying to find another source of heat. But there is none. 
He gives up on sleeping. 
He wanders his apartment, pacing, pausing every few steps to rearrange something, adjust angles, order. 
His penthouse is fairly minimal. Comfortable, but sparse. His time with the Commission had rid him of sentimentality. He likes things for their practical application; a good meal, a plush couch, a pair of warm, serviceable gloves. He enjoys his home, but has no real attachment to it. If it all went up in flames tomorrow, he might briefly mourn the leftovers in the fridge, the time he would have to spend replacing things. He wouldn’t be devastated, though. He could live anywhere. 
But you— you hold onto things. You love them not for what they can give you, just for what they are. Birthday cards and sweaters with tears in them, potted plants and miss-matched silverware. Visiting your apartment tapped into some previously untouched part of Keigo’s brain. Where the avian and soul-bonded meet. 
It’s instinctual—people with soulmates will always want to insinuate the other into their space. Genre-mixing, the psychologists call it. The compulsion to combine lives. 
For Keigo there’s another piece. 
The urge to nest was unstoppable. He didn’t even try. Ever since he met you he’s been collecting things. Soft blankets and a second toothbrush. Little nicknacks that reminded him of you. Under his bed he has a box of trinkets, little shiny things, gum ball machine keychains and diamond rings, silver gold and painted plastic. All of it is for you. Everything is. 
He managed to tuck most of it away when you were coming over regularly, just to avoid overwhelming you. Now there’s nothing holding him back. The penthouse is cozier, these days. A home rather than a stopping place. He loves it and he hates it. 
Deep down he has the craving to show you he can be a good mate, a provider. He can take care of you better than anyone. 
It breaks him. 
He shouldn’t. It’s crossing a line. But the sun has started to rise and he knows you’ll be on your way to work, and without much thought at all he takes to the air. 
It’s a quick thing to get inside your apartment. You leave the balcony unlocked, a habit you’d formed when his visits started getting frequent.
He cracks the door, careful to be absolutely silent, though he knows you’re not here. The lights aren’t even on. He feels disgusting as he slips in, such a slave to his own impulses. Then his knees buckle. 
The smell of you overwhelms him, so wholesome and good, so perfect. He wants to roll in it like a dog, bottle it up and take it with him so he never has to go without again. 
He lets himself have a minute. Two. Just closes his eyes and breathes. Then he rises, stretches and ruffles his feathers. He continues on with his mission.
He knows exactly the spot, had it pictured in his mind the whole way over. It’s something you wouldn’t notice, a little shiny earring, part of a set he’d bought months ago. He leaves in behind one of your big houseplants. 
He feels infinitesimally better. It will probably be enough to prop him up until he gets back.
That’s supposed to be the end of this foray into insanity. Satisfy his primordial mind, then hit the road. 
But his eyes find the sweater draped over your armchair. It’s your favorite, the one you crawl into almost every evening after work. Your scent must be so strong on it. 
He doesn’t realize he’s grabbed it until he’s already back at his place, shoving his face into the worn fabric, letting out a shuddering groan. So good. So good. 
He lets himself have a minute. Two. 
He shoves the thing into his small duffle bag, zips it closed so he can’t see it anymore. His heart is pounding as he calls his handler and confirms the logistics of his departure. 
Weeks go by. 
You’ve settled in at the agency, found your rhythm. Kirishima insists on walking you home now. The attacks have gotten more brazen, and while they’re mainly centered around the significant others of heroes, your boss isn’t taking chances. 
Secretly you’re glad. You’ve been more out of it lately, just coasting through it all. Having Kirishima beside you, loud and large is grounding in some ways. Not getting murdered is a plus. 
You haven’t seen Hawks in two months. You don’t expect to see him waiting outside your door. 
He looks absolutely ragged. 
He must have come directly from work because his clothes are skewed and his hair is mussed. As you draw nearer you catch the smell of a fight in him, sweat and concrete. 
His wings twitch the longer you stare, puffing up and retracting, but the gaze isn’t returned. He’s looking at Kirishima. He looks — dazed. Slightly stupified. Like he doesn’t recognize either one of you. 
“Ke—Hawks,” you murmur. “Are you okay?”
His voice is barely there, all from the throat, all whisper. “Yeah. Just peachy.” 
You glance at Kirishima, who shrugs. 
You want me to stay? his expression asks. He’s familiar with that worn down hero stupor. If the No. 2 hero is showing up at your door looking like that, he probably doesn’t want an audience. 
You shake your head, just the tiniest bit. Kirishima catches it. 
“Well, I best be hitting the road,” he says. And with another meaningful look, call me if there’s trouble, he’s wandering back the way you came.  
And you’re alone with Hawks. 
“You’re not at the coffee shop anymore,” he says. “I went there. First. They said you…”
“I’m working for Red Riots agency now,” you finish for him. “A whole real person job.”
It’s the kind of statement that should elicit a polite congrats, but you’re not expecting one, and he doesn’t give it. 
“Is he looking after you now?” he asks. 
If you were in your right mind, you might have heard the vulnerability, the insecurity behind the words. But all you hear is an accusation. 
It’s a mean little stereotype, that markless people tend to sleep around. You heard it enough, growing up. Of course, Hawks would never say something like that to you, or to anyone. But then again, there’s a lot of things you thought he’d never do. 
The hurt must show on your face because he’s instantly reaching for you, then pulling away when you gasp. 
“It’s not like that,” he says, trying to backtrack, to keep you from flinching again. 
“Like what?” you demand.
But there’s no answer. They were just words thrown out to slow you down. Meaningless. 
You start toward the building again. 
“Wait,” he chokes out. 
You turn to him, one hand already on the door. 
His animal brain is spitting and snapping. You found someone else. Someone capable of providing better. Someone capable of protecting you better. 
“No,” he says. 
“Excuse me?” 
His chest is heaving with each breath, gloved hands clenched at his sides. “You can’t—“
It’s not like him to stutter, to be so incapable of finding the words. But there’s so many emotions clogging his throat, his analytical mind is all gummed up with them. 
And what the fuck does he want, just showing up after so long? What are you supposed to do?
His eyes are begging.
You come away from the door, stand directly before him. You grab the side of his coat, tugging. It ends up a strange sort of half-hug, precarious and one armed, so tight your knuckles are white where they dig into the fabric at his back. 
Keigo lets out a breath that’s more of a wheeze, stilted and shuddering, all the air inside him rushing out. He’s empty. He’s healed. 
And he feels like a rabbit in the trap, cornered from every angle by relief. How could he have survived so long without your presence? Without your hands and your eyes and your soft, rapid pants against his throat? 
What happens if he has to go without again?
He lets himself have one second. Two. Then he’s pulling out of your embrace, his face pale, steeped in sweat. He looks rabid in this moment, a heartbeat from grabbing you and pulling you back in, from bolting. 
The second instinct wins out. His eyes pinned to you as he spreads his wings for flight. They’re so large, so intimidating. Weapons made from soft, red quills—they could kill you in an instant. 
But as he lifts off the ground, he looks so incredibly lost that it makes your throat squeeze. 
“Sorry,” he says. 
Then he’s gone. 
Those eyes, glowing with tears haunt your night. You think about them as you cook dinner and as you take your bath. As you tuck yourself in for bed and as you lay awake. 
It’s with no real purpose. Your thoughts aren’t investigative, not even curious. It’s just the image hovering over you and all around. Whatever is inside you reflected back. 
Please don’t be sorry (Read 3:34)
Ok (Sent 5:46)
Can we talk?
Are you alright?
sent: Just saw a bird carrying a whole bagel
received: is that a hint?
sent: No, what?
sent: You Did Not have to send a bagel to the agency for me. 
sent: But thanks 
sent: Heroes need to stop destroying entire buildings. The infrastructure of this city must be the consistency of a Pocky stick at this point
received: ok but consider this
received: I look really cool emerging from the rubble 
received: link
received: It’s that cat you like 
sent: !!!
sent: link 
sent: Song I think you’ll appreciate ^^
received: listening to it on repeat 💫👊
You’re drunk when you call him. It’s late, you had to stay after hours at the agency. You’ve just finished off a bottle of red. You don’t really think about it, he’s just the first person that comes to mind, the one you want the most. 
Your best friend just met her soulmate. The two of you were so close, bonded by your perpetual singleness. It was kind of a running joke between the two of you. “Maybe I’ll never meet them,” she’d said so many times. “Then it will just be us forever. That’s all we need.” She’s been your lodestar the past few weeks. 
You shouldn’t feel so terrible about something so wonderful. She’s happy, overjoyed. You tried to be too. But your loneliness outweighs everything else. You want Keigo.
“Angel?” He was asleep, it sounds like. But he still answered.
The softness in his voice, the carefulness, is what breaks you. You don’t say anything for a minute or two, crying softly into the receiver. Keigo flies into a panic, asking where you are, if you’re hurt, if you’re alone.
You assure him, in stilted, hiccupping sentences, that you’re fine, everything is fine, you’re just having a bad day. “I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have called you. No, really, it’s okay. You don’t have to come.”
He’s there in three minutes.
Upon opening the door, he bundles you up in his arms, tucks his face into your neck. His hold is fierce, almost painful, but it’s so good and warm and you let yourself fall against him, let him take your weight. 
You can feel his breath, hot and humid, coming in rapid pants against your skin. You can feel his delicate trembling.
Or maybe that’s you. 
You don’t know how long you stand there, clinging to each other. Keigo is the first to pull away, but just barely. 
“Hi,” he says. 
And you smile, despite yourself. 
He doesn’t ask you if you want to talk about it, not yet. He leads you to the bathroom, sitting you on the toilet as he turns on the shower, checking the temperature every few moments. Occasionally he turns and runs a hand down your knotted hair, or gives your hand a squeeze. 
He stands before you, grasps your hands in his. “Poor dove,” he says. “It’s alright, everything’s okay.” His eyes are molten and bright, as if they’re lit from within. 
He urges you to take a long shower, assuring you he’d be here when you get out. And he is. Leaned against the wall next to the bathroom door, arms and legs crossed. He looks surprised when you open the door and step out into the cool air. Like you might have disappeared again in those few minutes you were out of sight. 
He’s laid out your comfiest pjs, made a cup of tea for you, and brought several blankets into the living room, promptly wrapping you up after you take a seat. You feel infinitely better. You’re glad he’s here. 
Kneeling before you, he takes your hands. “Tell me what’s the matter?”
So you do. You tell him about how sad you are that your bestie has someone new, more important in her life. How you feel bad about feeling bad. 
And your best kept secret: how scared of being alone you are.
You don’t expect his reaction. He stands abruptly, pacing away from you, then back. He runs a hand through his hair. He looks slightly unhinged. “There’s something more, right? You’re not doing this just to fuck with me. You’re not cruel.”
Your mind is addled by the wine, the stress of the day, the emotional dumping you just did. You can’t figure out what he wants. You just tell him the truth.
“I don’t have a soulmate.”
His face-- it’s all shock, confusion. You almost laugh. Better than pity.
“It’s rare, but it happens,” you grouse. “Lucky me, I guess.”
He’s back beside you, sitting so close your legs are pressed up against each other, his chest against the side of your breast. “Are you sure? You checked everywhere?” His tone is frantic, clipped. 
His hands are raised as if he’s about to strip you and search you himself. You push them back into his lap. “Doctor confirmed.” You sigh. “No quirk. No mark. I’m the product of a failed evolutionary line. Me and the fucking dodo, brothers in arms.”
The silence drags on for too long. Then—
“Ah,” he says. It’s a long, drawn out syllable. He somehow pulls you even closer. You’re almost in his lap at this point. “Ok. Alright. I get it.”
Both his arms come around you, his hold firm. You’d think his wings would be cumbersome in a moment like this, but the closer one wraps around your shoulders, so warm, amazingly warm. You burrow further into him, out of energy to resist the feeling simmering in your chest. It’s so good to be like this with him, like homecoming, like right and right and right.
He nuzzles into your hairline, lips gentle in the filaments. You feel moisture against your skin, smell something like brine in the air. Your fuzzy mind tells you: tears. Someone is crying. 
“I’m sorry,” you murmur. “Missed you.”
 “Don’t be sorry, Angel,” he returns. His voice is so soft. Barely there. “Go to sleep. I’ve got you.”
He wakes curled around you. He’d moved the two of you to the bed last night, when he could finally move his lead-heavy limbs. Then he lay there with you, arms around your middle, your head tucked into his neck.
It was the kind of intimacy he’d dreamt of all his life. Simply being in another’s presence, no artifice or guile, no shields up. He stayed up as long as he could, wanting to hold onto this sensation for as long as he could, wanting it to fill him up, overrun everything bad he’d been storing up inside him. He wanted to drown himself in you.
He’s trying to let you sleep in, especially after last night. He eases you off him as carefully as possible. He places a butterfly kiss on your forehead. Pauses in the doorway for a long minute to just watch you. Then he makes breakfast.
He recalls the way you like your eggs, how you take your hashbrowns slightly burnt. He makes a lot. Good hangover food. The smell wakes you, and you creep into the kitchen, scrubbing at your tired eyes, fixing him with a wary stare.
For a moment the two of you stand in the kitchen, not moving, barely breathing. 
He breaks first. “Morning, beautiful.”
The look on your face -- pure relief. So grateful, and why? He’d do anything for you, don’t you know that? But of course not, you don’t know any of it. You don’t know about him.
He lays out the food and his hands are trembling. You’re not looking at them, anyway. Just at his face, the serene mask he wears. His training takes over, sends him into autopilot as he sits across from you and picks up his fork.
“Did you sleep okay?” he asks. His cadence has that signature insouciance to it, careless and dry.
You perk up at it, smiling. Your expression is so open. Tired but glowing. “The best,” you say.
You could have it all the time, he thinks. Always.
But you don’t know. You don’t know.
“That’s good. Great,” he says. His hands are shaking so hard his fork rattles against the plate. He pulls back, only to let it slip from his grip. 
Guilt grips him, closes in on him from all directions. He’s swallowed up in it. Devoured by it. He’s panting, can’t get enough air. His wings curl and retract, twitching, sharpening.
You don’t know you don’t know you don’t know.
He doesn’t realize he’s crying until you insinuate yourself into the dangerous arc of his body, careful of his wings, careful not to startle him. You ease his head against your chest and he feels the moisture soak your shirt. 
He’s slow to return the embrace, his mind foggy with fear, hurt. He wraps his arms around your middle and squeezes and squeezes, aware of the soft wheeze you let out but not able to let you go. You don’t care. 
All you can think about is running your hands through his hair, over the tense muscles of his neck, the hardened planes of his wings. Slowly, under your touch, they soften again, until you can finger the fine bristles of them, until his breathing evens out against your collar bone. 
You’re cooing at him, gentle nonsense words. Things that don’t mean anything. Got you. You’re okay. We’re gonna be alright. Nothing’s gonna hurt you.
And as he calms down, relaxing in your arms, the mantra in his mind is Liar. I love you. I missed you. You’re such a liar.
Because he’s yours.
And you’re not his.
an: my bad ʕ·ᴥ·˵ ʔ
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championofsanghelios · a year ago
SAN FRANCISCO SOMETIME AFTER THE EVENTS OF WATCH DOGS: LEGION “BLOODLINES” . . . "Come on..." Josh mutters, underneath the server-stack, a flashlight in his mouth, screwdriver in his right hand. "You were working fine up until now, what's wrong with you?"
"You still having trouble with that old thing?" Sitara asks, having just returned with several coffees. She places the cardboard tray down by the couch near the large television screens on the wall. "I keep telling you, it's about time we replaced it."
"I like to think I have it in me to coax some more life out of it." Josh pulls himself out from under the stack, brushing off his well worn, but equally well kept green sweater. "...but you might be right. Now may be the time to think about finding a new one."
He stares, rather sadly at the old ctOS 2.0 logo on the side of it. Sitara hands him one of the coffees, which he takes gladly, pulling the lid off and placing it in his sweater pocket. "...that's another thing to add to the checklists I guess."
"Where's Marcus?" Sitara asks, placing a coffee by his computer at his workstation. He had been there when she left to get them. "Did he get called out to the Beta Cell?"
"No, he was going to meet someone apparently." Josh returns to his own corner of the hackerspace, sitting down on his chair and taking a quick glance at his computer. The screens mounted on the wall above him show several camera feeds of the surrounding areas, as well as some op-reports from the HackNET forums. "I didn't get the chance to find out who, he left in a hurry."
Taking a sip of his coffee, he places the paper cup down next to his keyboard and opens up one of several windows that were on stand-by. "Now then...where was I before that thing started crowing about power failures."
"You men and your coding." Sitara sighs fondly, settling herself down on the couch. "I'll never understand what it is you get out of it."
"Peace of mind." Josh replies. "...well that's what I get out of it. I think Marcus just does it because he's bored, or trying to look busy."
"He's our lead field operative." Sitara says, just as the sound of the main door unsealing occurs in the background. Speak of the devil and he shall appear, this time it seems with good company, as he was laughing in a way he hadn't in quite a long time. "How can he get bored? He never stops working."
Josh picks up his coffee again, taking another sip from it. As he does, he glances towards the stairwell, letting out a gasp, followed by a flurry of coughs when he swallows it all the wrong way. He places the cup back down, reaching up to his chest. "...motherfu-...when did you-"
Sitara's eyes narrow where she's sitting. Normally his profanity went as far as "Damn it" or "Shit". Very rarely did he utter a "Fuck" especially preceded by "Mother" of all things. Turning on the couch, she goes to make a comment about swallowing properly, only to go as solid as stone herself.
"Guess who I ran into outside?" Marcus beams.
"..." Wrench reaches the bottom of the stairs, stopping abruptly when he sees the place. It hadn't changed much since he last graced it with his presence. Sure the tech was upgraded and Sitara had done some redecorating, but it was still same old hackerspace, still home. "...hey..."
"Thought I'd surprise you both." Marcus says, evidently proud of his work. "Damn if we didn't need this."
Sitara slowly stands up from the couch, pacing slowly around it and across the room towards them both. Wrench stares at her the whole time, his mask lit up with letter O eyes.
"Take it off." is the first thing she says.
He looks at Marcus, who for the first time since they met up, has nothing to say. All he offers is a somewhat knowing yet sympathetic look. With some reluctance, namely because he knew what was coming, Wrench reaches up to his face and pulls the mask off over his head, holding it in his right hand. "...okay."
Sitara stares at him for a moment longer, then in a blur, her right hand comes up and smacks him hard across the left cheek. He flinches as it happens, his head turning to the right. She'd slapped him once before, and it stung just as much now as it did then. "..."
"...yeah." He says after another pause, looking at her again. "I guess I deserve that one, huh?"
"3 years." she states, mouth tight, eyes filled with a fire so familiar, yet so frightening at the same time. "...you were silent for 3 years..."
"I know."
"Why?" is the next question, but before he can even think of a response, she snaps. "Why!? What part of you thought that running from your problems was the best solution!? You've done that before, and it got you into serious trouble with the law!"
She hits him again, this time it's a punch on the arm, and again he flinches as it happens. "During all the shit you went through with Zane, did it ever occur to you once!? That you could call us!? That we were here for you!"
"..." Wrench had thought of that, many times. The problem was he wasn't exactly sure if he really wanted to acknowledge what had happened, let alone make his friends share all the burdens of something so awful he refused to even acknowledge that waste of human flesh by name. Just hearing it made his stomach twinge with disgust. "...It did."
"Then why didn't you?" Josh approaches from the right, having recovered from his momentary choking fit. "Marcus was more worried than any of us here. He never stopped looking out for you. God only knows he sent you plenty of messages."
Wrench is simultaneously stung by what he just said, and unbelievably surprised at just how much had changed since they last spoke. He was still the same old Josh, in the sense that he had the same dress sense as he'd always had, and rung his hands whenever he spoke to people, a nervous autistic tick that he always seemed more proud of than conscious. He looked a little older though, and he had some significant scruff on his face now.
"...again...I don't know." Wrench says, blinking a couple of times. "Damn, you've grown up haven't you? I feel old."
"You're the oldest here." Josh replies, a small smile appearing on his face. At which point he let's out a laugh and hugs him. Wrench is taken slightly off-guard by it, before he left Josh would never have been like this with him. It showed how far he'd come in that time. "...I missed you, Wrench."
This is one thing, the last thing he expects is for Sitara to do the same, tackling his other side. "I'm still mad at you. But what he said."
She sighs, into his left shoulder. "More than anything, I'm just glad you're okay."
Wrench doesn't know what to do at this point, other than puts his arms around the both of them. "...am I supposed to cry or something right now?"
"Nah..." Marcus steps up to the three of them, putting his glasses back on after wiping his eyes. "I've already got that covered."
"Oh no, I've already got two of them clinging onto me, I don't need you getting all sappy-"
He let's out a deflating sigh as the Hipster joins his counterparts. "...over me."
"Just accept your fate." Sitara says. "You're family have missed you."
. . .
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sunsetcurvetaintedhotdog · a year ago
Let’s Be Kids Again ☀︎
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Summary: Reader is having an awful day but luckily Luke is there to help her.
Warning: Probably some language and bad grammar
Word count: 1,766
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Honestly, two more weeks left of school, and these teachers don’t give a crap. “UGHH!!” I quickly stood up from my desk because if I keep looking at all the missing assignments and projects that I have to turn in I’m probably gonna lose my mind.
Lately, I’ve been feeling like work just keeps piling up and it’s a never-ending cycle of turning in twenty assignments by the end of the week and then still being behind on fifteen more. I should be out right now not stuck inside on a Saturday. I could’ve gone to the boy’s rehearsal and just sat there. But no here I am stuck in my bedroom with papers all over the place.
I hear a knock at my door “Sweetie Luke’s one the phone come downstairs.” I quickly open my door and bolt downstairs.
Luke and I are best friends although I don’t really like saying it because it reminds me of how much I don’t want to be friends with him. I want more. I’ve had a crush on him for a while now still trying to adapt to the new feeling. I’m not gonna say anything tho it will ruin our friendship if he doesn’t like me back and just make everything awkward between all of us.
“Hey” I heard Luke’s mom talking through the other line “Luke wash the dishes before you leave please I don’t know how you could live in your own filth” on the other side of the phone Luke rolled his eyes at his mother exaggeration, there was only three cups in the sink “yea, yea, ok”. I started giggling at his antics knowing exactly he’s only saying that so she could get off his back. He’s not really gonna do the dishes.
“Hey, ok so I was thinking we could do something tonight. Reg really wanted to go to the new carnival that just opened. Something about needing to get his future told I don’t know” he let out a sigh “what do you think?” As soon as I was about to say sure I remembered the nightmare of homework I have upstairs waiting for me. “Ugh i cant i have homework sorry Lu”
“Forget about homework you could do it another day” “Lu I can’t just forget about it it’s due in a few days” Luke is now pouting “So, you’ve done a lot over the year getting a few bad grades won’t harm you come on party pooper” suddenly a light bulb goes off in his head “Bet i can win you at bumper cars loser has to buy the other one food?” He was teasing her and he knew it. Since they were little they always did bets sometimes going to far as none of them wanted to lose. He knew she wasn’t gonna turn down a bet.
“I hate you. You know that” Luke smiled in victory. “Yes, i love you too” he said with the biggest smile ever. He loved hanging out with her. More at carnivals her unmatched energy always amazed him she was so energetic and he loved it. Someone had to keep up with him right..
“Ok find I’ll meet you at the carnival” “ok see you there” I placed the phone back on the wall and went upstairs to change. Once I was done I headed out but my dad stopped me. “Finished your homework already?” “Uh...um... yea didn’t have that much apparently” yea that was a lie but that was tomorrow’s problem. I walked out and headed to the carnival which was only a few blocks away from my house.
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“Hey there trouble” ah trouble the infamous nickname that Alex gave me when we were 12. Luke had made a bet on whoever can scare Mrs. Frances, our 7th grade science teacher, the hardest got to name the their band. Because of me the bands name is Sunset Curve, a huge victory for me but I can’t say the same for Mrs. Frances. She had to eat lunch with a frog that day...ops... yea no I wasn’t sorry it was hilarious but if it wasn’t for me Sunset Curve would be named Bloody Devils cause Luke thought it was cool.
“Hey Al, oh I like your.....” I was cut off by Reggie putting his arms around me and Alex. “WHOS READY TO RIDE THE HORSES!!” Yea Reg has a thing for horses that explains ‘Home is Where my Horse is’.
“Reginald relax go get a corn dog or something” Bobby rolled his eyes at the over excited Reggie bouncing on one leg. He truly loved carnivals. “Ok I’ll be right back after the corn dog we have to get our future told I heard the one here is really accurate I want to know if I end up marrying Reese Witherspoon.”
“Ok guys what do you want to do first? Ferris wheel, go-carts, games, ...bumper cars...” I side glanced at Luke and he was already looking at me. “Oh your on” with that me and him were racing to the bumper car line bumping into each other once we got there. He quickly grabbed me by the waist so I wouldn’t fall on the other people. We were both laughing and smiling like idiots. “We should’ve walked” I said wiping my tears off my face. “Yea probably” he chuckled. “Ok so Al and Bobby get to choose who wins.” i said “Ok deal if I win you have to buy me the biggest ice cream cone they sell here” he said “Ok and if I win....um I want.... “ I looked around and the saw the big pretzel cart “The biggest pretzel they can make” “Deal” we did our handshake and turned around to stand in line.
“Ok Al, Bobby, focus you need to make sure you watch to see who wins” Luke said Alex and Bobby nodded and we were off into our own bumper cars. Me and Luke were bumping off each other and hitting other strangers cars. I think I might get a neck cramp. But it was really fun and I think I won. We got off giggling “ Ok so who is the lucky winner” I asked “Luke I’m never getting a car with you, y/n won” Alex said “yea totally destroyed you dude” Bobby added. Luke let out a snicker “yea please I let her win..” “sure you did bud” Bobby patted Luke on the back and went off to flirt with a girl he had seen earlier in the line. Reggie isn’t back so he might be stuffing his face with corn dogs. “And then there were three” I sighed. Alex turned around from walking in front of me and Luke “yea well make that two there is this really cute skater over there and I think I might go talk to him so peace out” he turned around and walked away. He quickly glanced back and winked at me “have fun”.
“Ok that makes two then, you up to take me on the pretzel offer” I asked Luke, he looked down at me with one of his gorgeous smiles that can brighten up the whole town. Geez why is he making it so hard not to fall in love with him. “Anything for you” he kissed the top of my head and we headed to the pretzel cart. We ordered and sat down on a bench to eat the pretzel. He took many bites but whatever he did pay for it. Still I won so I don’t see how it’s fair he got part of the prize, oh well. “So homework is stressful right?” he asked. I groaned “ugh yes I just wish I could be a kid so I wouldn’t have to do so much work and the only thing I would have to worry about is sleeping in nap time” I rested my head against his shoulder and he rested his against mine. “ Ok then, let’s be kids again then” I looked up at him confused “what?” “Let’s be kids again, let’s ride everything here and completely forget that we have responsibilities for tonight. How does that sound” he was practically buzzing now with excitement “I’m down” I said. “First one to throw up cleans the others room for a week” he said “Bet!”. We got up and starting riding everything that we could.
It’s been two hours and I’m waiting outside the boys bathroom with a water bottle for Luke. Can you guess who won. “Ugh that last ride really pulled some strings” he said. I giggled at him handing him the water bottle. “Up for one more tho” he groaned “depends, i don’t think my stomach can take anything else. “Ferris wheel?” I asked. He nodded and we headed there. Now getting into the ride we sat next to each other and the ride starting going up. The sky was a beautiful mix of pinks, reds, yellows, and blues. He wrapped his arm around my waist and I laid my head on his shoulder while we just admired the sunset. Well i did, I didn’t know that Luke wasn’t looking at the sunset he was looking at me like if I were the most beautiful painting he’s ever seen.
“Y/n...” i glanced back up and what he did next really surprised me. He pushed his lips against mines and I didn’t react I was frozen in place. He was about to pull away when I finally starting kissing back. He took his hand and put it on my cheek and I tangled my hands in his hair. This was amazing I always loved carnivals because of the adrenaline a ride gave you but this completely ruled out that feeling it felt passionate and warm. My stomach was doing flips and I was loving it, everything about this moment was just perfect.
When we finally pulled away we pressed our foreheads together still with our eyes closed “You don’t know how long I’ve been wanting to do that” he let out a shaky breath “then do it again” I whispered. He leaned back in to kiss me. This kiss went on a little longer and it was even more passionate than the one before if that was even possible. Now there was nothing stopping us we both know how we feel about each other and we can be together now.
Now not only do I have my best friend with me constantly but I think I might have found my soulmate. I am completely utterly in love with Luke Patterson.
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forasecondtherewedwon · a year ago
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3 Simple Rules for Dating a Centenarian - ch. 2
Fandom: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Pairing: Sam Wilson/Bucky Barnes Rating: T Chapters: 2/2
Read chapter one on Tumblr.
Chapter two summary: Sam and Bucky talk after their date op in Germany.
“Four,” Bucky says.
Sam, plodding down the road beside him, turns to stare. His sidekick (and fuck him if Bucky’s thinking of Sam in the same terms) has his chin lifted, moving his gaze back and forth across the horizon in a slow sweep. With the lines of trees planted as windbreaks around the fields, they can’t see the highway from here. It could be nice, without the rushing noise of cars and trucks, if Bucky knew how to shut up. That sorta pout his mouth does when his face is in its sour resting position—that’s what Sam wants to see. Only because it means Bucky wouldn’t be talking and Sam could maybe find a few minutes of peace, some quiet in which to consider the Flag-Smashers they just fought.
“Four what?” he demands when Bucky doesn’t continue.
Can’t be hostiles. If Bucky had spotted anybody, he wouldn’t still be striding along, looking unconcerned. No, he’d be running flat-out towards their adversaries like the rash moron he’s always accusing Steve of having been. Trying to leave Sam in the dust until Sam kicked off and spread his wings.
“Four stars,” Bucky says, carefully, clearly, like that clears anything up.
“What are you doing? Rating our trip down the highway? That was a transport truck full of medicine and super-soldiers, not an Uber.”
Sam’s grinning to himself when Bucky turns his head to glare. Ah. So gratifying. Amends sound good in theory, but Bucky’s irritation is so much simpler in practice. Sam knows how to handle that. He’ll take the grouchy stewing post-mission over having to meet Bucky’s eyes across a table, the promised snapper dinner laid out in front of them. They haven’t gotten around to that yet.
“I’m not rating the ride,” Bucky says, “I’m rating our date.”
That trips Sam up, but just for a second.
“No, no, no, dates don’t end with me rescuing you from the underside of a truck.”
“You didn’t rescue me.”
“Man, those wheels would’ve turned you into ground beef,” Sam says with a snort.
“I doubt it. Fell two hundred feet without a parachute today and I’m fine.”
“You want a second opinion on that?”
Instead of watching Bucky’s scowl deepen at the joke, Sam sees his expression flatten out. It makes Sam narrow his eyes in suspicion.
“What?” he prompts.
“You’re wrong,” Bucky states plainly.
“About what those wheels would do to you? We can test it when we’re back stateside if you want. I’ll requisition a truck.”
“Not about that.”
Sam’s looking closely, so he spots the smile. A curl at the corner of Bucky’s mouth. He hopes, secretly, that Bucky is scanning the surroundings well enough for both of them, because Sam’s attention is homed in on this little sign of Bucky’s amusement.
“About the end of the date,” Bucky finally clarifies.
“Mission. The end of the mission, when I rescued you.”
“The end of the date, when I was on top of you.”
Something to throw with all his strength, that’s what Sam needs right now. Some physical outlet for how badly he wants to fling the creeping, seeking, aching things he’s feeling very far away from himself. He wonders if Steve ever just whipped the shield as hard as he could to vent his frustrations. It’s hot as hell out here under the sun and Sam can feel the dampness of his chest inside his suit, the sweat riding his spine.
He takes a deep breath through his nose, fine with the scent of manure and getting nothing but grass instead. Like inhaling the colour green. Smells like the field they landed in. Landed in and went barreling across until, yeah, Sam wound up on his back with Bucky above him, their arms fastened around each other like life preservers or umbilical cords or anything else tight and necessary for keeping people alive. Goddamn nose-to-nose. Over the phone, Sam could brush Bucky off. When he says this shit in person, Sam has nowhere to go, besides extending the wings and launching himself into the sky. But he doesn’t want to overreact (doesn’t want Bucky to see him overreact).
“You just calling it a date because you don’t have rules for those?” Sam asks, deflecting.
“My three rules, you mean?” Bucky asks. He loses the smile.
“They’re for… everything. Supposed to be a blanket rollout, not doing anything illegal or that’ll hurt anybody in any aspect of my life. I’m sure the rules go for dating too, though Dr. Raynor and I didn’t really talk about those specific circumstances.”
“I think you might’ve mostly stuck to those rules today. I don’t think we hurt those guys.”
“Maybe you didn’t—”
“Get over yourself.”
“You’re a rude date,” Bucky notes. He’s looking straight ahead. No, not looking, staring. Like he does.
“I didn’t even invite you,” Sam says, refusing to correct this bonehead again about what kind of outing this was. “You walked onto that plane.”
“You wanted me to come.”
“Didn’t need you.”
“Oh really?” Bucky challenges. Sam clenches his jaw as he avoids meeting Bucky’s gaze.
“Hey, I was still in the air while you were clinging to that truck like a toddler to their dad’s leg.”
“You were in the air, but for how long?” Bucky asks, halting and grabbing Sam’s arm. Sam shakes him off in annoyance but stops too. “Until the Flag-Smashers knocked you out or broke your wings like they broke Redwing. They were mopping the floor with you.”
“And it was so damn useful to have you there to be the other mop,” Sam says sarcastically.
“If you’d put me back on the truck instead of in the field, we mighta had a shot at them.”
Bucky’s hands go to his hips, his Vibranium arm gleaming in the sun. He’s going to have to say more about that White Wolf thing. Wondering where the hell Bucky’s sleeve went and refusing to ask, Sam crosses his arms tightly over his chest.
“We had no shot. Not today, not without more information.”
“Information takes too long.”
“That’s what a successful op is,” Sam stresses, chopping the side of one hand into his opposite palm. “Intelligence gathering, corroboration, planning, execution. Information is what tells you to hang back instead of throwing yourself into a fight you’re not prepared enough to win.”
“We were already here. We couldn’t just let them leave.”
“Don’t worry about the hypotheticals now; them leaving is exactly what happened.”
“Unless Captain America has ’em on the ropes,” Bucky says deadpan.
“I hope they pushed him off the back of one of those trucks.”
“Were you thinking about that while we were up there with him?”
“At the time, I was thinking about pushing you off the back of the truck for getting us into that situation,” Sam explains, “that’s why I can picture it so clearly. See, Buck? I always have a plan.”
“Just like Steve.”
“No, not just like Steve.”
Sam pushes past Bucky to start walking again. After a couple steps, Bucky’s back at his side.
“You think the new guy had a plan?” he asks. “I don’t.”
“I don’t give a shit.”
“Sure you do.”
“Are you trying to get me to talk now? Mr. ‘I’m not a words guy’? Fine,” Sam huffs, tired from everything inside him that’s pushing to get out rather than their leisurely walk down a country road. Even so, he walks faster, almost stomping, and Bucky has to lope up next to him to stay in step. “I don’t think he had a plan. I don’t think he could fasten that dumb helmet on his head without a direct order. I don’t think he and his partner found us on their own initiative.”
“They work pretty smoothly as a team though,” Bucky tosses out.
“That looked like familiarity, not the result of inspiring leadership on the part of the Captain.”
“And not as good as us.”
Sam sends Bucky poisonous side-eye.
“I’m not trying to lead you.”
“I don’t wanna be led,” Bucky replies. “We fight together better than they do and that’s with you pretending you hate me.”
“Oh, I don’t need to pretend.” The comment is habit.
“All I’m saying is that it’s better. The two of us being out here doing this stuff together.”
“Especially with that dick waiting in the wings.”
Bucky stares at him long enough that Sam turns his head to stare back. When he does, Bucky glances away, but Sam knows where he was looking—at his back, where his wings are folded away.
“Waiting in the wings is a figure of speech,” he tells Bucky angrily.
“It’s perfect though. I always think of you as that dick in the wings.”
Sam exhales hard through his nose.
“I hope you don’t always think of me as anything.”
“I do. I always think of you.”
Freefall doesn’t jar Sam, no more than what he can remember it feeling like when he was a little kid and his dad would toss him into the air before catching him again. But what Bucky says changes the physics of his insides, the gravity all wrong with his organs. Heart plummeting then trying to sail straight up his throat like a balloon somebody just let go of.
Then Bucky adds, “You and that shield.”
“Drop it.”
He could just fly to the airport, leave Bucky here with plenty of time to think his stupid, shield-related thoughts. Maybe this smartass would have all the answers by the time he reached the plane, or Munich, if they went wheels-up without him. The truth is that the shield—and the Captain America persona—are on Sam’s mind just as much as they’re on Bucky’s, only he manages to keep those thoughts locked up tight. He has to make sure that shit’s contained, particularly if the new poster boy’s going to turn up like this. Sam doesn’t need that in his face.
As they walk, he glances at Bucky, who’s probably as aware of it as Sam is when Bucky gives him that stare. Blue as the sky overhead and heavy as a boulder. The realization that, although he didn’t mean to lead, Bucky followed him here, and continues to stick with him, is staggering. The pages of his mental photo album flip and he sees Steve crack a grin. It’s not like that, Sam tells that blond do-gooder, young in his memories. The only blond do-gooder who ever has or ever will look right with his arm threaded through the straps of the shield.
Maybe, maybe, this thing could work. Him and Bucky running ops, doing better at not getting their asses kicked in front of the government’s hand-picked hero. But Bucky’s gotta let that shit go. Since the Blip, Sam’s been trying to fly under the radar and that’s what he wants to continue doing. He doesn’t need to be showy, just effective; he doesn’t want to get dragged into some Cap vs. Cap contest, the inheritor against the upstart. If Bucky would take the time to think and listen, they could figure this out and be good. And do good. Understanding each other the way Sam wanted when he called Bucky up and they talked about Tunisia and rules and fish dinners. Bucky could make his jokes and, the next time, Sam could call his bluff. Show that gruff, rusty motherfucker what a real date looks like. What kind of team could they be? All kinds.
“Are we even going the right way?” Bucky asks after a half-hour of silence.
“Yes,” Sam says firmly.
He actually hasn’t checked. After they untangled themselves in that field, he just started walking, too keyed up to establish their position. He wonders if the grass still shows their path, crushed where they rolled to a stop.
“You sure?”
“Uh huh.”
“Got any thoughts you wanna share?” Bucky asks. Sam frowns and steals a glance at him. “What? I told you I’ve been going to therapy. I know the importance of a healthy dialogue.”
Sam tries to force his mouth to keep curving down, but he really wants to smile. Bucky’s not the worst company and he is obviously capable of growth.
“A question,” he says.
“If it’s sarcastic, I’m not—”
“Four outta what?”
“You said four stars,” Sam reminds him. “Is that four outta five or four outta ten?”
Bucky’s smile spreads slowly, smugly, and Sam rolls his eyes hard. He’s no more aggravated by Bucky than he is by his own need to know. ‘Four stars’ was an incomplete assessment! Typical.
“I hate you,” he says.
Still smiling away, Bucky sways into Sam as he walks, their arms brushing. Could be an accident.
But probably not.
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stray-tori · a year ago
Heaven Official’s Blessing | Live comments compilation
eyy, I finally finished it. I won’t talk about plot too much because I don’t trust my brain to remember it correctly and I watched it in very spread out sessions dshsj-
I really liked it though I don’t follow all the heaven politics at all dshsj- too many names, too small brain.
Randomly decided to continue heaven official's blessing bc i was bored.  The op is so damn soothing and pretty i still can't.
I also forgot so many details probably but I'm too lazy to rewatch the episodes I've already seen so. Here i go.
It's kinda funny how this whole meeting call of gods is like "yeah that guy is dangerous, the butterflies are a bad sign" Meanwhile mc is like huh i thought they were adorable
Okay why did i stop exactly where it gets REALLY gay okay then me
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Alright then friend
Also bilibili subs are so small pls save me
I feel like the dynamic is kinda sassy but it's kinda like... It's still kind of calm in it's portrayal which is interesting. 
Idk how to explain it but sth about it just rly calm and sort of peaceful pshhh so i need more braincells to pick up on the low-key sass and witty banter.
Maybe it's also me not being as used to chinese and that's why hmm Chinese is growing on me tho it's so pretty
[the bilibili subs]'re on Funimation too, also?? Funimation didn't even make their own subs good job guys. I could literally watch this on bilibili too wheeze
Okay main guy has been interrupted twice when he was gonna say sth about himself stop
Also intense staring intensifies goddamn
They keep glancing at each other intensely guys stop.
This is wild
I'm enjoying it but I'm just very sjdhdhdh
I feel like there's intense staring every like 2 minutes like y'all pretty i get it but pls my gay goggles might overheat here.
[someone else:] I can just imagine them staring at each other in a gay way and then there's Tori squinting at the subtitles
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Mc is big brain he's like "there's no way a ghost could fabricate a human body well. Give me your hand, I'll tell you your fortune." *proceeds to inspect hand* "let me brush your hair!" his hair would surely give him away *proceeds to lean in close* "Are you really fixing my hair or trying to do something else?" sahjs
Also ma ghost man rly made a door for their home so that he wouldn't use talismans on the entry. What a guy.
This guy is so offended at them living together oh jeez sjdhdj
Also great line.
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A classic
So much food. Only so.much digestion i can do
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He do be smug.
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Stop it with the gayzes jesus-
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I mean don't stop but holy hell
No wonder these two guys wanna out him as a ghost king, they're just sick of you two not getting a room shdhd
I mean don't stop but holy hell
No wonder these two guys wanna out him as a ghost king, they're just sick of you two not getting a room shdhd
Wow. He just tripped into him. I'm not used to food every 2 seconds pls my heart
Casually putting the robe back on your companion, then he catches your hat before it yeets away
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Everyday things.
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I can’t-
[someone else:] What are they even doing for all this gay to happen in such little time 
You see, they really hit it off. 
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But i don't know and I kinda don't want this to end bc it's just... So charged sjsjsj
Snake bite treatment bc of course 
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Dramatic name calling and self-sacrifice. The food is real with this one Hahahaha immediately following into the cliff
Carrying bridal style while fighting, okay then 
Also HHhH they revealed something in hindsight and now I'm emotional. So: at some point they read the tombstone of a general, and how he died, and the travellers that were with them laughed. And black hair said that it'd bring luck to bow before it 3 times, so they did. Brown hair asked if that was rly on there and he replied "they made fun of it so we can have some fun too". And it just now got revealed that that general was actually brown hair and I'm just :((( he probably knew bc he's so knowledgeable about everything and he protecc. Big emotion.
And if not it’s just even sweeter in hindsight, anyway sdhjds
Why do they keep leaning into each other while gayzing. Like ik it probably won’t commit to it fully/obviously but JESUS The description even calls it an affair WHAT I-is anyone actually believing this is not gay- it's impossible right im-
They are just actually flirting Jesus Christ
He literally just said "so you were the bridegroom on Mt. (Sth)" ":)" "I mean. You pretended to be" "I didn't pretend." "So why were you there?" "Two options. 1)" LEANS OVER HIS SHOULDER "for you. Or 2) i have a lot of time to kill"
[someone else:] How can we speedrun every romance trope
I also think it’s hilarious that priest girl basically went “ok this is too flirty, let me out of here” in the special dshdsj
Ehehe welp there's a ring
Okay that was neat. Now to wait for s2
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apocalypticwafflekitten · a year ago
Never Too Much
Maul x ASD!Reader 
A/N: I am SO ASHAMED OF HOW LONG IT’S TAKEN ME TO GET THIS OUT HOLY CRAP I”M SO SORRY! BUT IT’S FINALLY HERE!!!! YAY!!! ...pretty please forgive me! (Also, If anything is wrong or offensive, please please let me know so that I can fix it! I tried to keep it as gender neutral as possible, but I’m used to writing with a female reader in mind, so if I’ve slipped up and missed anything that would label a gender, feel free to let me know as well! Other than that, I hope you enjoy this story!)
Original Imagine/Summary: This is for the lovely @localnightmare13! They requested a story with a gender-neutral reader who has ASD and is a little insecure about it. But we all know that Maul is always ready to make you feel loved and cherished in this world, so it’ll be alright!
Warnings: I’m not... I’m not sure if I’ve made it 100% crystal clear, but the reader has ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder)! So if that throws you off your rhythm, then by all means, you don’t have to read this story!
Other than that, miiiiild angst if you squint. It’s mostly the reader feeling insecure about themselves, and wondering about their relationship with Maul. There is crying involved, so you maaaaaay want tissues. Maybe?
Word Count: 2.6k
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He could feel you walk up beside him, though it wasn’t the tapping of your shoes against the smooth floor, nor was it the soft brush of your hand on his shoulder that told him you were here.  
It was a ripple through the force. A wave of worry. A spike of something else he couldn’t quite place.  
But you smiled at him. A large smile, like always, as if nothing was wrong. He was baffled, confused, but he decided to ask later. After the syndicate meeting perhaps. 
The members of the syndicate gathered before the throne, and chatted to themselves while they waited on you and Maul to arrive.  
It had been a while since you had lead a meeting. Your last mission had you bedridden with a nasty wound to your side for weeks while you healed. This was the first time you’d be leading a meeting in nearly a month and Maul could feel your stress shedding from you in waves. 
As you entered the room, you resisted the urge to wring your fingers in your hand, but despite your nerves, you missed leading the meetings. You enjoyed knowing about everything that was going on in the syndicate, and you enjoyed getting a say in how it was run. It was a fun job for you.  
That is, it usually was. But for some reason, unknown Maul, today you were trembling.  
Still, even in your fear, you held your head high and began the meeting as normal. 
“What do you plan to do about the Pyke’s incessant demands for increased revenue on a quarterly basis.”  
There was a beat of silence as all waited for your response.
“What do you plan to do? What do you plan to do?” (Y/N) muttered under their breath, “What do you plan to do?”
You paused for a second before speaking,
“The Pykes will face an ultimatum. Settle with a singular 5% increase for this standard year with potential for growth in the coming years, or face no increase for the foreseeable future. It seems to me that their annual profit is quite sufficient as is, but their loyalty is important to this syndicate.” You answered in a confident tone. 
“Only a five percent increase?” The Pyke representative scoffed as he huffed into the room.  
You shuddered, startled by the brash, nearly offended tone the representative held.
But before you could stutter together a drefute, Maul was already speaking.
“You should realize the generosity put forth by this offer,” He warned with an edge to his voice, “I would have offered less. Your loyalty is only important to the survival of this syndicate. Not crucial. There are many others who would gladly take your place. And your tardiness inclines me to speak on behalf of this deal’s overruling.” 
The Pyke representative grumbled at Maul’s reprimand, but agreed to the deal nonetheless. He sat quietly in his seat for the rest of the meeting, knowing better than to challenge you or Maul. 
“Are there anymore concerns you wish to bring to the table?” You ask, and Maul doesn’t fail to notice the way you rub the palm of your hand in fast, worried, repetitive circles with your thumb. Nor does he miss the sharp spikes of fear that shivered their way across the Force.  
That was strange. Especially for you. He knew you. You were never one to fear meetings like this. You’d held so many of them that it was like a routine at this point. You didn’t fear the syndicate leaders, and you knew how to deal with their demands. Then again, you were just getting back from a long leave, and a lot had changed since the last meeting. Maybe that was the cause of your distress. 
“Maul, dear?”  
Your voice pulled Maul from his musings, back to the throne room and the present meeting.
“Yes (Y/N)?”  
“The Black Sun leaders had some questions for you regarding the additional tax on their income.” 
And so Maul delved into discussions with the Black Sun, but in the back of his mind he was still worried about your fear, and why it had reared it’s terrifying head this day.  
There was an uncomfortable, prickling itch at the back of Maul’s neck the rest of the day. His chest would feel constricted; he would shudder out heaving breaths. And yet, he was fine. He knew he was. It was you that he was feeling. You and the worries that consumed you today.  
He wanted to take the day off. He wanted to be by your side if you needed him, or free to be there even if you wanted space.  
But today was full of meetings, paperwork, and every other responsibility ever imagined for a royal. It seemed that today was jam packed with everything he didn’t want to do, not sparing even five minutes to be with his darling.
It was all too much when, in the middle of a pitch meeting for new city developments, Maul felt a jabbing pain at his temple, and stinging in his eyes. Something had gone wrong. 
“So, if we can, the city would greatly benefit from the addition of --”  
“Senator.” Maul cut them off. The senator stopped, confused and visibly displeased, “Something urgent has come up, and it is necessary that I attend to it. We can continue this discussion at a later date. I’ll send you the details as late as tomorrow morning.” 
Maul stood from his chair and rushed out of the room, leaving a confused and frustrated senator in his wake. 
The stabbing pain returned, searing a grimace on his face as he reached out to feel for you in the Force. 
Oh my love? What’s gone wrong?  
He found you in the middle of the garden’s greenhouse. He heard your crying first. The anguished wails jabbing right into his heart. Then he saw you huddled on the floor, clutching your ears; your eyes screwed shut  in what he could only imagine to be the intense, stinging pain.
He was by your side, kneeling next to you in a second.  
His eyebrows knit, and he had to keep himself from touching you, realizing the severity of your sensitive state. He had to be careful.
“My darling,” Maul ventured with as gentle a voice as he could, “Love, what is it? How can I help you?”  
It took a second, but you responded with shivering hyperventilations.
“Its...it’s too much....There’s too much sound, too much light. I...I need it to be quiet...I-I need everything to sto-op.”    
There was a flash of panic. This had happened before, yes. Maul knew what to do, but still, there was just the smallest worry that he wouldn’t be able to help you. That no matter what he did, he couldn’t ease your senses’ sensitivity.  
But he couldn’t dwell on that worry right now. He had to take care of you. He figured your room would be the most comfortable place. With the blinds closed, and the room far away from any commotion in the palace, it should be a good spot for you. 
“Is it okay if I pick you up?” Maul asked, “I can get you somewhere dark and quiet, but I need to pick you up.”  
Your eyes cracked open just the littlest bit to see him hovering above you. Your nod was small, but it was enough. Maul scooped you into his arms and carried you to your room as quick as he could.  
The sheets were cool and soft against your skin. A welcome feeling to pull your attention from all the noise. Except now there was no noise. It was quiet, and the room was dark enough that only a shadow of Maul’s outline could be seen. 
He wrapped you in the sheets which offered you their soft, sweet embrace. The darkness was gentle. Plush like a cloud so that could rest, far away from the garden’s garish light. And the quiet....oh the quiet. It was a wave of relief. A wave of peace. You felt weightless in all this silence. Your muscles let go of their tension, and you could breathe again; loose and free. There was only one sound came through minutes later to break the blessed silence.  
“My darling?” His voice was smooth. Gentle, unlike the crickets and chirping birds from the garden. His voice was the only sound you were willing to welcome now.
“Would you like me to stay with you, or would you prefer to be alone?”  
“Alone for now please,” Your voice was a whisper, sounding far too loud within your head than it should, “I’ll come out to finish my duties in a little while; once I’m feeling better.”  
“You needn’t worry about that my dear. You can rest for the remainder of the day if you wish.” He whispered, gently stroking some hair away from your face. 
“Thank you Love.” You left a kiss on the palm of his hand and closed your eyes, slipping into blissful silence once again.
It wasn’t until later that day that Maul got the chance to talk to you.  
The night was cool. Leftover light peeked over the horizon as the sun fell across the sky.
When you walked into your bedroom that evening, your face was sullen, and he felt that sharp sting of fear ripple in the Force.
Maul stood from the bed, brows furrowed, and came to stand behind you where you stood at the dresser. His hands traveled to your shoulders and started rubbing little circles across your shoulders as he asked the question that had been on his mind all day.
“My darling love, what’s going on? You’ve been so quiet today. Every time you walk by me, there’s a cry in the force. What’s hurting you?”  
His plea was almost desperate. How he wished he could help you, but he didn’t know what was wrong. It was eating away at him horribly.
You stood still for a moment, meeting his eyes. The sincerity there, the care. It brought your dam down. Tears flowed as you pulled away from him, unable to pull your worries from your throat. 
Maul’s eyes widened and you could see the second his heart snapped. You pulled away from him. You had never done that before. 
“My dear why do you back away?” He whispered to you with an outstretched hand. His voice trembled as he spoke, “...Have I done something dear?”  
You whipped your head up to look at him. 
“Oh. No. No Maul. It’s not you. It’s just...” You sniffle as Maul lets out a bated breath. It was a slow breath, but he was relieved in some small sense that he wasn’t the cause of your problem.
He watched you intently as you struggled to find words. HIs eyes bore into you. The gold of them burned with concern, and the crease in his brows; the frown on his face. You turned yourself, unable to look at him as the guilt built in your gut. There’s was silence before your voice rang through.
“Do you..do you like being with me?”  
Maul’s eyes widened further, impossibly so before he stepped closer to you.  
“What?” His voice was weak. For once in his life, Maul could say that he was scared, and he wasn’t hiding it well. 
“Well, um, do you like being with me?”You asked again, “I know I’m a lot to handle sometimes, I mean, look at what happened this afternoon!” An annoyed huff left you, “Someone else would probably make your life easier, and I just-“
Maul rushed forward and grappled you into an almost bone-crushing hug. You could feel his nose brushing at your neck as his arms held tight.
“You are never, and could never be too much for me to handle. No one could make my life easier than you. And even if they could, I wouldn’t want it. They wouldn’t be you. No one else could come close to you. There will be hardships, yes, and this afternoon carried such a hardship, but I’ve never loved you less for them, nor will I ever. Darling, where do these thoughts come from? Why do you doubt my love?” Maul pleaded, holding your shoulders tight, his eyes desperately begging for an answer.
‘Its...It’s not...I know you love me.” You breathed, trying to figure out how in the world you were going to explain this, “I”m just worried that....that I...well, my.....my disorder...I was a mess in that meeting, and I was a mess this afternoon, and I know that I’ve been away for a while, but I just...I worry that I’m...that I’m not enough. For the people, for the city...for you.” 
He’s still. Stone-still to the point that you couldn’t tell if he was still breathing. But your quiet sniffles seemed to break him, and his eyes began to fill with tears.
“My darling,” His voice was so sincere, “The city, these people, even the syndicate will never weigh your worth based on your disorder. And neither will I. Ever. I know it’s hard for you. Some days more than most. Even if I don’t share the experience, watching you is enough to know that your hardships take a heavy toll.”  
He paused, watching you. Gaging your response; the widening of your eyes, and the knitting of your brows. When you said nothing, he took it as his cute to continue.  
“My dear, you care so much for others, see the good in others, but you don’t ever seem to see it in yourself. The way you feel for the people around you astounds me. The way you hold their opinions and needs so close to your heart, and try to do for them everything that you can, it’s a completely different perspective. It inspires me. You give this job, this world, this life a meaning. You make me want to try my love. You give me a reason to push past the hardships, and keep trying. And that’s so much more than enough.”  
 A moment of silence.
You felt gutted. You wanted to cry, and squeal, and scream, and sob. Was that...He....? He really means all of that? You’re...you’re enough?” 
“Darling?” Maul’s voice broke through your clouded thoughts; a wave of concern rippling into your ears. 
You don’t think, you just cling to him, holding him as close to you as you can, s sob ripping itself from your throat. 
You can’t stop the sobbs, and the tears, and the aching in your chest that feels like you’re being constricted. Gosh, why is it so hard to breathe?  
“I know my dear. I know. Let it out. Yout deserve to let it out,” He whispered as he stroked your hair and held you tight. “I hope that someday you’ll be able to see yourself the way I see you...the way everyone sees you. Until then, I’ll hold you tight and tell you everything wonderful about yourself until you can believe me. Until you can see the good in yourself.”  
Your sobs died down to a whimper, and you lifted your puffy, watery eyes to look at Maul.  
It took a second before you could speak; lingering whimpers and sniffles stuck in your throat. 
But when you were able to, you spoke with a quiet voice, so full of gratitude and love, and tenderness that Maul was almost thrown back by the ripple created in the force. 
“Thank you Maul. So, so much.” 
“Anytime my dear. Anytime.” He whispered once again, tenderly wiping a tear from your cheek before placing the gentlest of kisses to your forehead.  
You swear you had never felt so loved as you did that night. It was a night that would live with you for the rest of your life.   
@justalittlecloud @fanficsforheartandsoul​
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cynergy-laughter · a year ago
Obey Me! One Master to Abridge Them All! Ep. 5
5. Rewind... Rewind... Rewind...
Leviathan: W-What?! No, that doesn’t happen!
MC: Uh, yeah it does.
Diavolo: Enn doesn’t seem like the kind of person who would lie about something so detailed... I think we know who the winner is...
Leviathan: No... NNOOOOO! *changes into demon form* You shouldn’t know any of this! You are just a newbie wannabe! You got into TSL in such a short time, and now this... I will not accept this... I will not recognize you as a fan!!! *runs at Enn*
MC: Oh shi- *falls down* Mammon!
Mammon: I’m comin- GAH! *slips on some melted ice cream* Dammit! I can’t get there in time... run!
Levi: I WILL NOT BE DEFEATED BY A NORMIE!!! *reaches out hands to wring Enn’s neck*
MC: *voiceover* This is me, I know what you’re thinking, this is a huge jump from the last time we left off. Oh dang... I look so scared at that frame... who even got that angle of me? Well they deserve a raise... uhh anywho, you’re probably wondering how I got here... well good, fleeting audience, I shall tell you how.
*rewinds two days and two nights ago*
MC: *groaning, brushing their teeth and getting ready for bed* I knew I shouldn’t have eaten that garlic and ghost pepper devil potato salad... best potato salad I’ve ever had, but feels like a detox coming out... *sprays and finishes up in the bathroom*
???: H-Help... Help me...
MC: *eyes widen* Oh please tell me I’m not in a bathroom fever dream...
???: Please... help... follow my voice...
MC: ... Yeah, cause that always goes well...
*follows to the attic stairs anyway*
Lucifer: *pops up out of nowhere* Go back now. There’s nothing up there for you.
MC: For me? Now you’ve piqued my interest.
Lucifer: Well there’s nothing at the peak for you, go back to your room. Don’t ever go up to the attic.
MC: How do you spell attic, by the way?
Lucifer: ... A-T-T-I-C.
MC: Ah! You naughty boy, why were you looking down there?! *puts hands over chest* My eyes are up here.
Lucifer: *blinks and blushed mad, realizing what he just said* Room. Now.
MC: *tries not to laugh as they go to their room*
MC: *sitting at breakfast, alone with Mammon, zoned out*
Mammon: Hey! Are you even listening to me?!
MC: Hmm? Oh, sorry, as soon you started talking crap about me I kinda just turned your ranting into background noise.
Mammon: ...Well... don’t do that, you don’t just skip over The Great Talkative Mammon’s dialogue, that’s rude.
MC: Did you... really just add another adjective to your Name Title?
Mammon: Yeah, what you gonna argue with The Great Infallible Mammon?
MC: I literally made you enter a pact with me two nights ago.
Mammon: Shut up! Gah! Why did I have to be the one who be paired with you. It’s all Levi’s fault that I’m with you in the first place... no, it’s all Lucifer’s fault... none of this would have happened if it wasn’t for him...
MC: *sighs, and goes on another daydream, he wanted to know how to get past Lucifer*
*Earlier last night*
MC: *Casually walks toward the stairs* Hey Lucifer, can I see what’s upstairs, please?
Lucifer: No.
MC: tch, almost had him... *walks back to room*
Mammon: ...Lucifer’s color scheme reminds me of those OP DeviousArtsy original characters, like Red and Black? Seriously? Get a better outfit, especially if you’re gonna wear brown shoes, why can’t you wear black, you’re already wearing so much of it! Oh and to top it off, his feet reek... not that I’ve... ever smelled them... but I’m saying it, so it’s true-
MC: Mammon, what’s in the attic?
Mammon: Don’t change the subject, right now we’re discussing Lucifer’s feet, which, by the way, freaking stin- wait what?
MC: ... Mammon. Attic. What’s up there?
Mammon: ... Geez, you really don’t know how to mind your business do you?
MC: I do, but I feel like I’m already more involved than anyone could ever realize...
Mammon: *walking with Enn to Levi’s room* If you wanna get past Lucifer and find out what’s in the attic... You’ll need something that Lucifer wants, and I think I know just who to go to for that something...
MC: *looks at Levi’s room door* ... So why the hell are we outside the Ultimate Otaku’s door? What does he have that Lucifer wants?
Mammon: *whispering* There’s a record of the limited cursed edition of the TSL soundtrack in there, he absolutely loves it, so we just gotta ask Levi for it, it’ll be easy peasy, lemon squeezy.
MC: One, don’t ever say that again. Two, I don’t know how easy it’s gonna be since Levi wants nothing to do with me, and three... oh what the hell. *knocks on the door*
Levi: What’s the secret phrase?
MC: *looks at Mammon* Yeah, Mammon, this sure is gonna be lemon squeezy.
Mammon: Okay, Levi, let us in, it’s The Great Older Brother Mammon, and his pact slave.
MC: *leers at Mammon* You’re about to be the Great Fat-Lipped Mammon in a minute.
Mammon: *shied away a couple of steps* At least capitalize the T in the word The...
Levi: I am known by someone outside the door as the Ultimate Otaku, and to gain entry, you must say the secret phrase.
Mammon: *leers at Enn* So great, he was listening the whole time, and you’re calling me names?
MC: Ugh... umm... Rurichan is bae? Mammon’s an idiot? Enn’s a Normie?
Levi: ... while it is all true, bzzt! Wrong! Access denied.
Solomon: *appears behind them* Well, if it isn’t the celebrity and his newfound pet demon~.
MC: *jumps up, and holds Mammon close to them* Get the hell outta here, Goblin King, we ain’t wishing for nothing.
Solomon: *smirks* Sorry for scaring you, Enn. *knocks on the door* The fifth lord...
Levi: ...couldn’t keep his huge rod in his pants and took the Lord of Corruption’s wife to bed...
Solomon: And for the betrayal done unto his home...
Levi: The Lord of Corruption named him the Lord of Lechery, and cursed him with eternal unattainable climax. Secret phrase approved, welcome to my kingdom.
Solomon: *smirks* Peace out suckas. *hits the whip, and nae-naes backward into Levi’s room*
MC: *still holding Mammon protectively* So the Goblin King had an invitation?
Mammon: *blushing* ... You do know that was the secret phrase right?
MC: ... *knocks on the door* The Fifth Lord-
Levi: Bzzzt! The password has been reset! Bitch you thought! Next time know more about TSL before you try me, normie!
MC: *growls and bangs on the door* GAH! Go to Heaven you K-Pop Justin Bieber!
Mammon: Enn! ENN! Don’t, you don’t wanna get in trouble with Lucifer, not this early in the year... *pulls Enn away*
Levi: *with in the room* You see what I have to deal with? The violent life of the yucky otaku.
Solomon: Hmm...
Solomon: *bursts out laughing* PFFFTHAHAHAHA! K-Pop Justin B-Beihihiberrrr! Oh my god, I have to text that to Asmo... *starts texting* Man, as belligerent as Enn is, they sure know how to roast someone...
MC: Don’t worry, this makes day 4 that he hasn’t noticed. But... I have to find a way to get him to give me the record... God, I don’t know what it is with Levi, he just knows how to push my buttons... have I let him get to me?
Mammon: So... why am I gonna be watching this with that human... and Beel... why are you here?
Beel: A Movie marathon means popcorn, and I had a craving.
Mammon: ... Of course you did.
MC: *comes in with a huge tub of popcorn* Alright, a huge tub of popcorn, extra butter and salt for Beel, a pack of chocolate coins for Mammon, and a sensible bowl of popcorn and soda for myself. Oh, I also made all of us slushees.
Mammon: *blinks* slushees? What are those?
MC: It’s cherry and blue raspberry.
Beel: *eyes widen* Why is it that you continue to amaze me with your snacks?
Mammon: Did you really just ask that question? Did YOU... just ask that question? The bigger question is how did you make these?
MC: Not important. Alright boys, 12 hours ain’t gonna watch itself, let’s get ready... The Tale of The Seven Lords... *presses Play*
————— The next day...
Levi: Human.
MC: *looks at Levi* Wow, look at who decided to grace us with his presence after spending his whole day in his room.
Levi: Don’t talk down to me just cause you have all the time in the world to do what you want, like having a TSL marathon. Totally not fair by the way.
Mammon: Wow, talk about nosy, were you spying on us?
Levi: No, Golden Moron, I heard it from Lucifer.
MC: First of all, don’t steal my joke, I worked hard for that, and second of all, for someone who minds his business, you sure do like knowing everyone else’s.
Levi: I don’t want to hear you talking especially since you are the ruler of not minding your business! Just cause you’re trying to suck up to me, doesn’t mean we’re gonna be all buddy-buddy. So get it through your thick head.
MC: Leviathan, I challenge you to a TSL Fan-Off.
Levi: *blinks* Excuse me? Are you serious? You really think that you, a human normie is gonna out-fan me?! LMMFAO! That’s not even a contest.
MC: Wow, I never knew you were a chicken, Levi.
Levi: ... what?
MC: I’m just saying if you had your own fursona, it would be a chicken. Ba-GAWK!
Levi: ... You take that back. I would N E V E R !
MC: Because you already are Levi, just cause you didn’t accept. An Otaku Chicken, I can see the Fanart now!
Levi: You know what, I was gonna spare you the embarrassment, but now I’m gonna make it my goal to destroy you in that Fan-off, human. When I’m finished with you, your time in the Devildom will be cut short. But, if by some odd miracle you best me, I’ll join Mammon as one of your pacts. Not like it’s ever gonna happen, I mean, I’ve only been following TSL all of a millennia. And that, compared to your 12 hour marathon, should speak to how much more knowledge I have of TSL than you. So let’s see who Fans off more. Student Council hall, today after school, and don’t chicken out.
MC: Heh, just I eat chicken doesn’t mean I am one. I’ll see you then.
*there was an intense stare down, until there was a loud cackling from upstairs*
Asmo: BWAHAHAHA! K-Pop Justin Beiber, I’m done! Solomon, I am done with you! AAAHH! YAAASS!
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bravo-four-seal-team · a year ago
More Questions than Answers.
A/N: So, this is two OCs @disasterfandoms OC who you all know Amelia, and my OC: Ashley. 
Co-written: @disasterfandoms
Summary:  When a Marine finds out her brother is dating, she hunts down the girlfriend to ask some questions. Is it a start of a great friendship? or a hateful one? 
Year/Month: 2017 - Mid May.
Tag List: 
@rebelwrites @thegirlwhoisalwayswriting @supervalcsi @jayhalsteadfan-2417 @mrsmarvelous1995 ​ @velvetcardiganbucky ​ @chibsytelford ​ @itsonautopilot ​ @pinkrockstar19 ​ @galaxysanduniversesinmymind ​ @softi92 ​
She did not plan this through. What was she thinking, that answer to that she wasn’t, what were you supposed to say? ‘Your dating my brother who I haven’t spoken to since 2012?’ cause that would go down well.  These are things people could easily ask Ashley as she approached the door to the woman's apartment she had seen with her brother, but it's not like he knew she was even on base. 
Ashley Sawyer, Staff Sergeant in the USMC, younger sister to Trent Sawyer, who she hadn’t spoken to for five years. The same brother she saw 5 hours ago and hid from so she wouldn’t be seen or have another fight, same one she saw hugging this lady, smiling - of course she knew what that meant, another relationship, this time though, she wouldn’t ask her brother, she’d go to the source and ask this person questions. 
If she couldn’t deal with the work, his family, his life even, then she needed to leave and get out the picture, before she hurt him, just like the other two did. Adjusting her cap she knocked hard on the door. 
Two sharp knocks and and stepping back, arms behind her back, standing tall “Afternoon Ma’am, sorry to bother you. But Do you know this man” she asked, holding up the image of her brother. 
“Yes, why?” the woman at the door asked, Ashley looked at her watching her “Ma’am, I’m Marine Staff Sergeant Sawyer, I have a few questions in regard to your relation with my brother” she says, making sure to keep her tone neutral and her expression calm. 
“Oh, sorry, come in” 
That is not what she was expecting, do people not think about the danger of letting a stranger into their home? Stepping inside, she looked around, the place was clean and neat, very bright. Definitely a change from the last woman her brother was with, she watched as the woman moved to the kitchen “Coffee?” she had asked, Ashley nodded with a ‘Thank you Ma’am’. 
“Your Ashley right?”
“Yes ma’am”
“I’m sure he’s mentioned you a few times”
"I highly doubt he'd mention me ma'am. Nice place, very different."
“Why wouldn’t he? And call me Amelia, please. Ma’am makes me think of my mom. Any cream or sugar in your coffee?” Amelia said with a smile.
"Complicated story, involves sensitive material which only few are welcome to. All you are required to know is we have not spoken in many years or seen each other Just cream thank you Ma--Amelia." she responded. Ashley couldn’t wrap her head around the fact that she had just been let into this woman's home. She could rob her, kill her, kidnap her, this was terrible, surely everyone was taught not to let random people inside unless you are expecting someone. She would need to fix this later. 
The silence was heavy, she was thinking how to broach her questions, without sounding too rude.
“There you go. And it’s alright, someone will tell me eventually. So, you said you had questions?” Amelia said as she handed Ashley her coffee, nodding her thanks, before speaking “Why exactly are you with my brother? The job he has cannot afford him to be played around” she stated, watching for the slightest indication that she wasn’t in it for the long run.
“I’m sorry, why wouldn’t I be with Trent?”  Amelia blinked, looking a little surprised at this. 
"His job. The stress. You would not be the first to quit because of it, I want to make sure you aren't going to hurt him. So, I need to know your exact feelings and plans for the long haul." Ashley said, taking a drink of the coffee, it would help her survive the deployment flight then the intel gathering for a joint op with Charlie Team. 
“I’m used to stress, my brother is a seal as well. And we’ve been together through, what, two deployments now? If I was going to leave I would have done it in 2015. I’ll be here as long as he has me.” Amelia said calmly, she was watching her closely, sipping her coffee. 
Ashley frowned, she wasn’t expecting that answer, "humph, he shuts down during trauma. How do you handle that? When he won't speak for days on end" she said, remembering how he was when he was hurt, when he lost a teammate when she was visiting him for a few days, which turned into her leaving early. 
“He’s quieter than usual, sure. But he’s never shut down with me. Love him, though, he goes through a lot.” She heard Amelia respond, she was expecting answers, just not these, last time she had asked these, the first wife just tutted at her, the second gave a response but not one she liked. 
"First meeting place. who spoke to who" Ashley said, watching this woman carefully for a slight falter “Coffee shop on the corner. Barista got our orders wrong and switched them. I took a drink of his god awful rocket fuel, spit it out involuntarily and it went everywhere! Landed on his shoes, I apologized, nearly cried, and I helped him clean up. Offered to pay for his next one.” Amelia responded, she was smiling, why did she need to be this relaxed? A stranger was in her home, questioning her!
"Coffee taste hasn't changed then I see. Do you plan on leaving him when things get tough and dark?" Ashley said, tone sharp, that got a response, Amelia sat her coffee down on the counter and crossed her arms “No disrespect, Staff Sergeant, but Trent and I have been together for almost three years now. If I was going to leave I would have. We’ve already had rough spots, ma’am.”
"Same thing different person"
An Eye roll, then she shook her head before speaking “Let’s be clear on something: you wanted to ask me questions, I’m answering them honestly. You said you two haven’t spoken in years, which I know is the truth because he’s told me, so what makes you think you have any idea what we’ve gone through?” Amelia said, watching the marine carefully, taking in her appearance, different from how Trent had described her. 
Ashley set the coffee down, hands going into her pockets as she shrugged "I know what he's gone through. I know he's been hurt more than you can imagine. I've seen the aftermath. I may have not spoken to him. But I will always be somewhere having his back without him knowing. It's what family does. I always protect my family. It is my job to do so, I don't need to know what you have gone through. I just need to know if you'll have his back helping hold him up and not betray him like people have done" she said, giving her a look, judging her, putting the pieces together, would she actually like this one?
“I’m sorry, before this goes further, how would you like me to call you? Ma’am seems very formal, so does your rank, but I don’t know you well enough to call you by your first name. You’re correct, he has been through more than a person should go through in a lifetime, but my point still stands. You’re making accusations that I’m just going to leave, when the hell we’ve gone through has only solidified my wanting to be with him.” 
Ashley was not expecting that response at all, it caught her off guard big time "Ash or A.C is fine. I'm making sure you aren't just going to up and leave him like the last one when things got tough. So far I'm convinced you are here to stay. Which is good. Means no one's gonna need to pick up the pieces lord knows I did that enough." she explained calmly, hoping not to get into a fight with this one, that would be all she needed. 
“Ash it is. I’m surprised he told you that story, it’s, well, pretty dark how that ended. Have two rules: be honest with me and don’t disrespect me, and we’ll get along fine. Learned about putting boundaries up years ago.” 
"He Didn't tell me the story. But I have people watching. Keeping me informed. This is my card, don't let him see it, I know T he Don't speak of people cut from his life. Number connects to a sat phone. I got a flight to catch. Thank you for your time. Oh and. Don't let people you don't know into your home, it's a way people get killed, robbed or end up missing" She had pulled a card out of her pocket, phone number and email address on it, setting it on the counter top, watching as the woman in front picked it up, reading it and then looking at her.
“You have the same eyes he does, really noticeable, especially since they’re both your mother’s. Figured it couldn’t hurt hearing out the sister.”
"Best never to mention you saw me. At all. Only bad will come from that Amelia." Ashley said, a hint of warning in her voice. The next thing Amelia came out with did get her by surprise “He doesn’t hate you, you do know that right? He told me stories about how you two were when he was still at home, you should reach out to him.”
Thinking quickly Ashley responded, with the one thing she had been repeating over the past 5 years "That's the past, those who remain telling stories from happier times are the ones refusing to acknowledge the pain. I've kept my tracks covered this long. I don't need to be undoing that." she said hoping that would be it.
“You really want to live your life in the shadows? I know you guys haven’t talked in a while but he’s your brother, and you clearly care to be on my doorstep before you leave for deployment.” Amelia countered back with. Ashley really wished she hadn't, others had accepted what she had said and just left it alone. 
"Ma'am, my job is to get in and get out, without much attention. I've been on the same base as him twice, he's walked past and ain't spotted me. Shadows are where I'll remain. I care for what happens to him. I've made peace with never being in contact with him. Just a ghost from his past that doesn't need to come back and haunt him you understand?" Ashley huffed slightly annoyed, she wasn’t here to talk about her relationship with her brother, she was here to talk about Amelia's relationship with him.
“You may be used to it, but it’s not a life either of you should live. I won’t say anything unless he brings it up, but not for you or your little shadow games. He doesn’t need to think you were around him and still hated him so you didn’t talk to him. That’s not fair to him.” Amelia said, opening a drawer and placing the card inside, gently closing it and turning to face her. 
"I don't know what he told you. But it's the other way around, I avoid him so he doesn't throw a fit if I'm around, he hates me, cut out from all angles. If I hated him I wouldn't be checking up. Making sure his back was covered, I went outside the wire with his team" the Staff Sergeant explained with a frown, she worried for her brother, she wasn’t a Marine for nothing. She hoped to tell him that one day, she had it in a letter she left with her mother that if anything happened to her, she would give it to Trent. She would know to give it to him after a year if she never returned. 
“He told me he worries he’s going to see your name in the obituaries one day, that he won’t be called when you die. You think if he hates your guts he would be worried for you?” Amelia spoke softly, leaning forward slightly, Ashley was uncomfortable being assessed under the look she was getting.
"He won't be called ever about anything about me, no name will ever be printed, it's clear in my files. No contact with anyone, no going to look at them. I best be off, just watch his back keep him up when he is ready to break. Thank you for the coffee Ma'am in future, don't let random people in to your home" She stated, moving towards the door at seeing the time, an hour until Wheels up, pulling the door open the heard Amelia call out  “Good luck over there” before she left, closing the door behind her, pulling her cap down over her eyes and making her way outside. 
What neither of them knew, Amelia would be the last person to see Ashley safe and healthy. As for the next 3 months she would be MIA, in late august Amelia would be woken in the early hours of the morning with Trent telling her he received an email from his sister, who was currently on base in Baghdad Iraq.
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lys-lilac · a year ago
The Realization of Importance
Part (3/3)
Let’s end it. 
A/N:  This is to say that all the characters and the main story line belong to Voltage Inc. Only the fictional story is a work of mine, as well the fictional characters, Hana, Touma and Akari. Also this story is based on dream event, because I had this as a dream many days ago. It might be a little different from the usual genre, a little more angsty, so this little girl wants to know your honest opinions about the work. Be honest and do let me know what you think. But, if it feels a little bit dreamy or weird, you can discontinue reading from here.
Part 1 II Part 2
                                                      Part 3/3
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Hana: ?!
Standing behind me was none other the man I loved the most, Kasumi. But, why is he here? His face is looking as cool as a cucumber. And, is he smiling? I hurriedly get up from my seat.
Hana: Kas- Err, I mean Chief Kasumi! What are you doing here?
Kasumi: Listening to your conversation.
Hana: ...I- Well, I am not MC. 
Turning my head where I put the hairpin to his side, I show him my ‘recognition symbol’ or whatever.
Hana: I am Hana, the new resident.
Kasumi: I know that. 
Hana: ?
Why? Just as I am trying to focus on my work, why does he drop such lines? What work has he with me? I rack my brains for a possibility. 
Hana: Oh, are you here to talk with Touma?
Tucking on my white coat and holding me like a scared child, Touma slowly ducks his head to the side. I knew that Kasumi loved children, like he played pictionary with Sora that time. So I decide to give it a try.
Hana: Touma, he is the head of EICU, Dr. Kasumi. You can talk to him. He really is good person. Oh yeah, we might play pictionary together!
Kasumi: ...
Probably not expecting the response, Kasumi’s eyes go wide. Did I say something wrong? Wait, don’t say me... This event has already happened here already. If that’s the case, I might be in knee deep water right now.
Hana: I thought that Touma might like to draw, since he is good at gardening and sightseeing, so I asked. That’s it. 
Kasumi: Touma, I know you can do it. And as she said, we can play pictionary anytime you want. But, I have a request to make.
Touma: What is it?
Kasumi: Can I accompany you to the visit to your garden?
Hana: What?!
Okay. I seriously need to check my mental health now. Am I really in my senses? What in the world did I hear just now?
Hana: But, we shouldn’t trouble you. After all, your schedules might be packed. And what about Dr. MC?
Kasumi: She has a lot of study to do. Besides, I want to see how this resident handles the case.
So it was just as a mentor... I see. Although I would have felt pangs in my heart at this time, I feel relieved, although I don’t know why.
Touma: I would be happy to! 
After finishing our drinks, I drop Touma to his bed, and go towards the CSD (Cardiovascular Surgery Department). But, Dr. Kasumi is following me. I was sure that was not the case at first, as both CSD and EICU were in the same direction. But, instead of turning to the opposite side in the fork, he turns in my direction. WHAT IS GOING ON?! Oh god, stop, my heart...
Hana: Dr. Kasumi, I need to ask something. Do you have any work at the CSD? I can help you out with the menial tasks, if you ask.
Kasumi: ...
The silent intimidation! His dark prince cape never slides from him!
Kasumi: I need you to meet me in the outside in the evening. I have something to discuss with you.
...aand, there he goes, not listening to me. And, why the heck is he calling me to join him in the evening? The more I try to clear out my mind, the more it becomes tangled with his words. Guess I have no choice left. Maybe it’s something related to Touma?
Hana: ...Alright.
[Evening: Seimei Medical University Porch] 
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As I am sitting on the bench after completing the post OP rounds of some patients, a chilled can of coffee hits my cheek.
Kasumi: Here.
Holding two cans of coffee in his hands, he gives me one, and takes a seat beside me. Surprisingly, it’s my favorite flavor, mocha. 
Hana: So, what is it that you wanted to talk about?
Kasumi: ...
Gazing at the children playing at a distance, he remains silent. 
Hana: Dr. Kasumi, I am not a psychic that I can read your mind by telepathy. You have got to say something.
This time also, the response is nothing. Giving up, I look up at the sky, which is painted with a hue of orange and yellow. Gradually, the Sun sets, leaving a pinkish violet band spread in the horizon.
Hana: Look, Dr. Kasumi, the Belt of Venus! Now, you have to say the reas-
What leaves my mouth leaves me surprised. Clasping my mouth with my hand in order to shut it, I slowly move my fingers around the coffee can.
Kasumi: MC.
Hana: Dr. MC? What happened to her? Is she busy today?
Kasumi: You are MC, right? And that name ‘Hana’ is just a false one. Am I wrong?
Hana: You are getting it all wrong, Dr. Kasumi. Look at this hairpin, I am the new resident, not MC...
Kasumi: And what if I say that the hairpin you are wearing is the one you bought when you went to the zoo with me?
I can’t even dare to say a word. What exactly am I supposed to say? That “I am MC, I don’t know what’s going on here” ? I try to push another excuse.
Hana: This hairpin is common here! I think that Dr. MC may also have one at her home. Look, Dr. Kasumi, you might need some rest as you may be overexerting yourself. I will go and inform Dr. Kyogoku, okay?
As I get up from the bench, a sudden grab of my arm makes me stop.
Hana: ?
Kasumi: At least let me justify why I think of you as the MC.
Why those pure eyes? Was his pull not enough? Those eyes are my weakness, and I can’t resist his words.
Hana: Ok, I will listen to you.
Kasumi: Until yesterday, I was unsure myself that which one of you was my MC. The way you said that you are a new resident, all of us had no choice but to believe it as the truth. But when I saw you talking with Touma, that made me clear of your identity. Because my MC is a little childish, likes to get acquainted with patients, and...
Hana: and?
Kasumi: No wonder where you are, I can always recognize you.
His fingers intertwine with mine, and as I am about to reply, Kyogoku comes from the building.
Kyogoku: Kasumi, we have got hold of her true identity.
Without any delay and without loosening his hand, he drags me with him, and we all leave for the EICU. My mind which had turned to mess after all the things he said, was not working at all, so I stay silent to know the truth.
[Evening: Seimei University EICU]
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There was she, Dr. MC. All the other doctors were also there. But, why were people from Metro Police Department standing there? And that to, handcuffing her? What the heck was going on while I was outside? Just as I was thinking, a police speaks up.
Police 1: Finally, this miscreant got caught.
Police 2: We are sorry for all the trouble she caused. We will make sure she gets the ‘reward’ for what she had done.
Police 3: Thank you for the help doctors! No wonder you all are jewels! Now, give us the permission to leave.
What the WHAT?! No one was in shock as me. She, A MISCREANT? So, inso and dreaming were not the reason?
Hosho: I am glad to see our MC back!
Takado: Oh, and how foolish of us to think that the silent impostor was this idiot. Never in life.
Ekuni: She didn’t even falter when we threw jokes on her.
Matsunaga: And here I thought, we are going to get two talented doctors... Although I am happy that you are the only precious girl of the EICU.
Kyogoku: Butthead, now you know who you are right?
{A/N: Now, Hana is the actual MC, so no need to use the fake name, otherwise who knows what will Kasumi think of me... ^^;)
MC: God, can anyone please explain what is going on... I might just pass out from the overdose of information.
Kyogoku: Apparently, she was a die-hard fan of Kasumi, or whatever it may be, and was super jealous of you. So she arranged all of this. Went through a plastic surgery to look exactly like you, changed your documents by adding a false name, just to take your place.
MC: Then, how you all figured it out?
Hosho: It was Kasumi who first told us that something was weird.
Takado: That how the office, which is a place of damn banters, was as silent as the sea. Although it was peaceful, it felt wrong.
Ekuni: She didn’t know her own schedule of scrub ins, and didn’t lash us out.
Matsunaga: And most importantly, I was not satisfied her response when I asked her to join me during breaks.
Kasumi: We all are aware of your behavior and your nature, so it was not long till we figured it out.
Kasumi: MC?
Ha... haha, my life. I will not hesitate to say that it is more intense than what happens in mangas. One can do this much only for jealousy? 
MC: Thank god, thank god you all remember me. Here I thought I was in a parallel world and no one recognised me. 
The doctors could sometimes lead me to release smoke from my ears out of fury, but nonetheless, they cared for me, and that’s what of value to me the most.
[Some days later: Touma’s garden]
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{A/N: Again, a random picture}
Touma’s surgery is a success. On the day of the surgery, Kasumi volunteered to accompany me in it, as his schedule was open for the morning. The good thing is that he can still walk and talk, although now in wheelchair for some days of recovery. Me and Kasumi, to fulfill our promise to Touma, were leaded to Touma’s garden on the day we paid a home visit to him.
Can I say that the place is paradise? Tulips, lilies, hydrangeas, pansies, daffodils and all the varieties are lined in rows. Adjoining to it is the fruit garden, and beside it is the vegetable one. Huh, did I even know how to plant a sapling when I was of his age? Answer: no.
As I was appreciating the beauty sitting on the cool grass, a small flower is tucked into my hair. It is a Syringa Vulgaris. In other words, a small lilac.
Touma: This looks pretty on you.
MC: Oh, thank you Touma.
But, just after that, a flower crown is placed on my head.
Kasumi: And I think this looks even prettier.
MC: ...
My cheeks flare up crimson. Aww, just how cute are these two, adoring me like that! I can just float in the sky out of happiness,
MC: Thank you. 
MC: Oh, but I wanted to ask something. 
Kasumi: Sure.
MC: If you realized that I was the original piece, then why didn’t you recognize me in the office?
Kasumi: That’s because the other you submitted your reports just before you came. Did you notice that when you were about to submit the papers in your hand, it was not the original but only blank papers?
MC: ...No! Now that I think about it, I was so heartbroken at that time, that I didn’t even glance at it. And probably, she might have done it when I was in post OP rounds, and my documents were all laying on the table. Ah, the headache I felt there might be due to her making me unconscious using chloroform, because I found myself in the closet. God! And here I was thinking that I fainted due to overwork!! That chick, grrr...
Kasumi: Pfft, as expected.
MC: Don’t laugh at me! Well, how did you find the clue then? Even I was confused of my own identity. Didn’t your thoughts waver?
Kasumi: I got the first hint by the hairpin you had. I was pretty sure that it was the same one that you bought when we went to the zoo, and that you always kept it in your bag. But when I asked the other you about this, she just made excuses that she had left it at home. Further, you mentioned about Sora and also exclaimed when the Belt of Venus appeared, so my confirmation was strengthened.
MC: A prodigy you are, aren’t you?
Kasumi: No.
MC: Huh?
Kasumi: No matter which different identity you own, or wherever you may be, I can always recognize you, because you are the most important person to me in my life.
Seeing my blank face, he chuckles and a soft touch lands on my lips, like a feather fluttering on my skin. 
MC: The same goes for me too. I can always recognize you anywhere, because you are the one I love the most.
 As I see the dandelions dancing in the wind, the flowers, fruits and vegetables bathed with sunlight, and the smile of Kasumi, which I yearn the most, I realize something. That I am important to him and so is Kasumi to me. No matter whatever may come, I will always stay by his side, and support him with all my heart.
{Author’s trivia: I actually woke up just after the scene where Kasumi realizes that she is his MC. So, I just added the after plot, to complete it.}
That’s it! I am telling you, I was myself feeling butterflies when writing the end part. So I am sure, the story will appeal you just like it appealed to me. Pure nature of Kasumi, dipped in honey felt words. But gahh, it felt so dramatic, the police and all... Let me know what you think. If any requests, feel free to drop it in the suggestion bowl. Have a good day ahead, and give your best everyday, just like our dark prince!
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villiageidiot · a year ago
the one wherein they piss off the Greek gods: Mnemosyne
on ao3
title: the one wherein they piss off the Greek gods (chapter 3: Mnemosyne)
square filled: memories
ship: Magnus/Alec
rating: R
summary: The gang meets the Goddess of Memory
created for @shadowhunterbingo​
Alec wakes up slowly. He’s lying on the side of the bed he never lies on with his arm outstretched like he’s trying to drape it over someone next to him, someone sharing the bed with him. But Alec has never shared the bed with anyone so the position doesn’t make any sense. It’s intimate and domestic, two things Alec doesn't really… do. But it doesn’t feel foreign, either, and Alec can’t reconcile the conflicting ‘this doesn’t make sense’ with ‘but it doesn’t feel wrong.’ He blinks a few times then slowly sits up.
Then he about loses it when he sees Izzy and Jace sitting on chairs at the edge of the bed.
“What the –” he starts, scrambling to sit up against the headboard. But neither of them says anything.
“Oh, Alec,” Izzy says softly, and Alec notices her eyes are wet.
He looks to Jace, who isn’t crying, which Alec is relieved to see, but who’s wearing a look of defeat. Alec tentatively tests the bond and feels a subtle current of panic that matches Izzy’s face.
“What’s going on?” Alec asks carefully. He searches his brain because everything is fuzzy. He can’t figure out what would evoke this kind of reaction from them, no hunt gone wrong or permanent injury.
Izzy opens her mouth to answer then glances at Jace who meets her gaze but only shrugs in response. They both look utterly lost.
“Someone say something,” Alec says, a bit more forcefully. He hates being left in the dark, and there’s clearly something he’s missing. The fact that he’s partially clothed and in bed makes him feel even more helpless. He looks down to find some kind of sign, some injury or telltale wound or maybe a new rune. But he finds nothing. Except –
His left hand.
There is a ring.
What the hell, he thinks, panicked. His eyes dart up to meet Izzy’s.
“You – you lost some memories, Alec,” she explains, though it’s not much of an explanation.
“Very specific ones,” Jace adds.
Alec sits there, shaken into silence. He struggles to think of something, anything, that could explain a damn ring on his finger, but he comes up blank. No face, no name, no wedding. What he does notice, though, is the pit in his stomach. Or the lack thereof, really. There’s an empty, gaping space that he can feel now that he’s looking for it, presumably the place where the pieces of his missing life fit.
But that ball is gone, the jagged ball of shame and fear and inadequacy. The nausea is gone, too, that feeling he gets when he thinks of his secret, the secret that Izzy and Jace know anyway, being exposed.
Alec steels himself and says, clearly and purposefully, “What’s – what’s his name?”
Relief floods over him as he watches the neutral, if not relieved, expression on both of their faces. They know. Well, they always have, Alec knows, but if he's openly displaying a wedding band, apparently everyone else knows now, too.
And there’s that feeling again, those warring thoughts of ‘that makes no sense’ ringing through his head while ‘but it still feels right’ argues back. He’s spent years hiding himself, knowing he’d never get this, resigned but confident in that fact. So who convinced him otherwise? Was it easy for him? How long did it take?
Izzy, whose relief has shifted into belated surprise, says, “Wait, how did you know –”
Alec doesn’t respond because, well, for all of his earlier bravado, the idea of talking about a husband, a very very male husband probably, is fucking terrifying. And also because he has no idea how he knows.
Izzy doesn’t press for an answer, just takes a breath and looks to Jace again. “Are we allowed to say? I don’t know the rules.”
Jace shrugs again. “I have no idea. M– he didn’t say.”
After a pause, Izzy tells him, “It’s – you were – god, Alec, I don’t know what we’re allowed to tell you and what’s against the rules.”
“Rules?” Alec asks. “Whose rules?”
He can feel Jace’s frustration shooting through the bond, though it’s clearly not directed towards Alec. “This is so messed up and we want to tell you, man, but we don’t know yet. Just – he’s working on it.”
He. The word has Alec’s thoughts racing. There’s fear and anxiety and vulnerability, sure, but they’re barely noticeable under the staggering relief and gratitude and peace and freedom. He struggles against his fuzzy memory again, desperate to see his life and picture his – his husband, but he still comes up blank. He doesn’t even have a general canvas to work with. It’s just that Alec, he’s never known himself to have a type. Izzy, she always liked men that would piss off their parents – Seelies and vampires and now, bizarrely, a nerdy, awkward Daylighter that is so far from what their parents probably expected of her. And Jace, he always went for skinny and spirited and well, willing, though Clary’s optimism and stubbornness is probably new territory for him.
But Alec, there wasn’t ever anything concrete; men were such an abstract, unattainable concept that he never bothered much with trying to figure out what he liked because what was the point? Whatever’s happened during the time he’s lost, though, has somehow involved figuring out that his type is definitely not Jace. But "not Jace" isn't really much to go on. He thinks, distantly and with absolutely no reason to think it, of dark hair and slender and culture and grace.
“I’m going to text Mom,” Izzy says abruptly, pulling Alec from his thoughts. That feeling surfaces again at the idea of his mom. Objectively, he knows the disapproving, emotionally-distant woman he was raised by is far from the loving, supporting mother she is now, but he can’t figure out why. He can’t remember what, or maybe even who, helped her to change.
Alec is acutely and suddenly aware of a thrumming under his skin, a pricking in his fingers. There’s a wave of clarity that he can’t explain. “He’s a Downworlder,” Alec says to no one in particular. It’s not a question. “A warlock?”
Izzy’s mouth falls open. “How do you keep doing that?”
“I don’t know,” Alec admits. “I can just feel… something. His magic, I think.” And he trusts it implicitly, though he doesn’t know why. Seelie magic has always made him uneasy, probably because it always reminds him of deception and ambiguity and mistrust, so he knows it’s something else. Warlock feels right. He’s always had his misgivings about warlocks, promiscuous and shallow and self-serving, but the magic radiating from him, or from his ring maybe, feels right. It doesn’t make sense but it feels right.
Finally, Jace stands up and motions towards the door. “How about you get dressed and meet us outside? We can figure out the next steps.”
Alec nods, desperately grateful for the beginnings of a plan, and waits to climb out of bed until they’ve both left. He looks around his room and there’s a surge of wrongness. He’s lived in this institute for years but now it just feels wrong. This is not his home.
Less than ten minutes later, the three of them are walking towards Ops. Alec tries to assess everything he sees to make sure it fits. That screen there, he thinks, they installed it a year ago. And: that’s the Shadowhunter that transferred from Madrid six months ago; Izzy told me about him.
“Have I lost time?” Alec asks. “Or just… a person?”
“As far as we know, just M– a person,” Jace answers, the three of them still walking briskly until they reach a monitor at the edge of the room, away from prying eyes. Simon and Clary are both there, watching him carefully.
Alec watches them back, unnerved by the scrutiny. 
“Hi,” Simon says, holding out his palm. “I’m Simon. I know you want to ask ‘but why is there a mundane in the institute’ because I’ve heard it a million times before but –”
Alec briefly glances down at Simon’s hand, then says, “I know who you are.”
“Oh,” is all Simon says, frowning and dropping his hand.
“You do?” Clary asks hopefully.
“I think he remembers everything, even some things he probably shouldn’t be able to,” Jace answers, then pauses. “Actually, what is the last thing you remember, Alec?”
Alec has to sift through memories, some that seem to be crystal clear and some that float in that hazy, empty space he’s now all too aware of. It’s not overly difficult to differentiate, except for when they seem to be intertwined. “I’m the Inquisitor now. Clary’s started to get her memories back,” he says slowly. It’s vivid; he can see conversations with her clearly and remembers feeling that desperate relief thrumming through his bond the moment she really, truly saw Jace but –
“Do you remember how I got them?” Clary asks cautiously.
And he doesn’t. However it happened, the answer is sitting in the chasm of emptiness that grows wider every time he thinks about it.
They take his silence for what it is and stand there quietly for a minute.
Simon clears his throat eventually. “So.”
“Did you find anything?” Jace asks, nudging past the Daylighter to see whatever it is on the screen.
Clary shakes her head. “We can’t find him; wherever he went, he doesn’t want any of us to know.”
“Shit,” Izzy swears. “I knew he was going to try to take this on by himself.”
“Oh yeah, real surprise,” Simon counters. “Because these two are normally so rational when the other is in danger.”
For some reason, his sarcasm doesn’t bother Alec because – well, it checks out. Alec dives headfirst when someone he loves is in danger, no thought to his own safety. Although… this is new. The idea that someone does that for him, that someone loves Alec so much that it makes him dangerously impulsive, it makes Alec’s heart stutter for a brief moment.
Izzy makes her way next to Jace and presses a few buttons on the touchpad. Suddenly, a face flashes up on the screen.
And Alec’s brain short circuits. 
Not because of the face and how breathtaking he is – well, it’s partially that, if Alec is honest with himself – but because of the sheer number of thoughts firing off at the same time.
The first is simply, Oh. It’s a candid shot, one where he’s expertly wielding a blue ball of magic in his hands, but Alec can’t place where he is. The man’s got the black hair and the slender frame that flashed through Alec’s subconscious earlier, which makes him wonder if grace and culture are somehow meaningful, too. He's wearing a dark jacket with a collar that accentuates his jawline and a deep blue shirt with a few open buttons that hints at a toned chest and eyeliner that sets off – fuck, everything. The screen only shows the top half of his body and Alec wants to see the rest, to see everything else. He’s got a piercing gaze and a coy smile and he’s radiating a power, a strength, a danger, that's so palpable even in a static photo.
There are just so many thoughts at once.
The next is: right, so that’s my type. Alec realizes why he never figured out his type when he was younger. He just hadn’t met this man yet. The more Alec stares at him, at the cheekbones and the smile and the impeccably styled hair and the painted nails and that jawline and the scarf tied intricately around his neck, the more Alec realizes he has a very, very specific type.
But there’s also: how can I not remember him? Because there is nothing forgettable about this man, that much is clear. Alec is certain with every fiber of his being that this man lights up everything around him, that he’s obviously the focal point of every room he’s in. Or, at the very least, Alec’s focal point.
And: there has to be a mistake. Alec tries to picture the two of them together in public, to see what everyone else sees, but he can’t. There’s no way. The two of them together, Alec in his simple black shirt and basic black pants and standard-issue black boots and messy hair – walking side-by-side with this man? Just… how?
Very clearly and prominently: oh god he’s beautiful.
And the one echoing loudly and repeatedly:
“He married me?” he asks, accidentally out loud, with undisguised confusion.
Izzy gives him the same sad look from earlier. “Oh, Alec,” she says softly, “He loves you so much.”
Alec doesn’t pull his gaze away from the screen and can’t think of what to say.
“And you – I’ve never seen you as happy as you are when you’re with him,” she adds.
Alec thinks of saying, Yeah, obviously, look at him, but lets it go. There’s an ache in him now; he’s started to feel the significant weight of that empty space where the life he forgot still sits. There’s no way he can go the rest of his life with this ever-increasing chasm inside of him. 
“What do we do?” he asks the group. “Because I think I’d like to get him back.” His voice is unsteady, and god does Alec hate feeling open and exposed, but his gut is telling him that he doesn’t always keep his carefully-controlled emotions in check when it comes to this man. 
“We could, I don’t know, see if he left any clues at the apartment?” Izzy suggests, looking defeated. “He's not answering calls and I don’t know where else to start.”
“Let’s go,” Alec says immediately. He can’t just wait here, staring at a lifeless screen, hoping that something happens. He needs to do something, to have a purpose.
Jace watches him then nods. “Whatever you want, Alec.”
Moments later they’re standing outside of an apartment in Alicante that looks completely foreign to Alec. He pushes through the haze in his mind to picture where he lives because he knows his home is in Alicante, knows he’s the Inquisitor, but can’t see a home or a life or a partner there. Or how he got there. Or why. Because something is telling him that whoever this man is, he’s helped Alec get to where he is. Somehow a warlock led to Inquisitor.
Izzy moves to open the door but before she can, it slowly clicks ajar. It puts Alec on edge but he follows her through anyway.
And there on the couch is the man that apparently married him, staring blankly at two bottles on the coffee table in front of him. The hi-res screen at the Institute did him absolutely no justice. He’s stunning – no, he’s beautiful – and Alec’s mouth parts slightly.xx
Jace elbows him. “Stop, we don’t have time for that right now.”
Alec looks over, defensive and self-conscious, only to see Jace is smirking at him, no heat in his tone or judgment on his face. Apparently Alec's loosened the tight grip he's held on to their bond, lets Jace feel things now, which… doesn't make sense. But it feels nice. 
At Jace’s voice, the man glances up, looking more defeated than Alec has ever seen a person look. He stands quickly when he meets Alec’s eyes.
“Alec,” he says on an exhale, relief flooding his face.
Alec can’t figure out what to say and he can almost hear his heart beating and he’s suddenly so frustrated and maybe a little angry. Why would someone take this away from him?
“He seems fine, Magnus,” Jace says, as if answering a question the man hadn’t asked yet. “It’s just you he doesn’t know.”
Magnus, Alec thinks, feeling satisfaction at finally knowing something about him.
Alec swallows. “Hi,” he says, sounding more awkward than he feels.
Magnus’ mouth curves into the beginning of an amused smile. “Hi,” he replies.
“I – I’m sorry I don’t remember you,” Alec apologizes in a rush.
Those beginnings of Magnus’ smile fall. “Don’t you dare take responsibility for this. You’re not to blame, Alexander.”
And the name – it brings back those warring thoughts from earlier. No one calls him that... but it feels right coming out of Magnus’s mouth. He actually kind of likes it. The name has always rubbed him the wrong way but when it comes out of Magnus' mouth, it makes Alec feel warm and important. Significant. 
“What are those?” Simon asks, gesturing to the two bottles on the table.
Izzy walks over to inspect the engravings on them. “‘Lethe’ and ‘Mnemosyne,’” she says aloud before narrowing her eyes. “Why is her name on this bottle?”
“It’s not her name,” Magnus explains. “Well, it is, but it’s also the name of one of the mythical rivers in Hades, as is the Lethe.”
“Hades?” Alec asks, eyes still trained on Magnus. “As in the Greek underworld?”
Even without breaking his gaze from Magnus, he can sense everyone sharing some kind of significant look.
“What am I missing?” Alec asks. “What aren’t you telling me?”
Magnus keeps his eyes focused on Alec, obviously as determined to maintain their gaze as Alec is. “You and I may have upset the Greek gods,” he says carefully.
“What? How?” he asks, brows furrowed in confusion.
Magnus’ mouth hints at a smile again. “I don’t think now is the time for that particular story.”
“Now is definitely not the time,” Jace agrees.
“Okay, but what are those?” Simon asks again.
Magnus hesitates, his almost-smile falling again. “I’m not sure yet,” he replies vaguely.
Alec squints at him. “You’re lying,” he says, hoping it doesn’t come off as accusatory.
Magnus looks taken aback. “I’m not.”
“You are,” Alec argues. “I can tell. You’re trying to keep something back. To protect me.”
Magnus is quiet. “How do you –”
“He knows things about you,” Izzy interrupts. “I don’t know how but there are some things he still knows.”
“Ah,” Magnus says, trying to sound casual but Alec doesn’t buy it. “And reading me tells just happens to be one of those things, I suppose.”
Alec doesn’t let himself be distracted by the small smile Magnus directs his way, even though he really really wants to be. “What are those?”
Magnus looks away from Alec, back towards the bottles Izzy still holds in her hands. “They’re meant to be the answer but I don’t think they are.”
“What does that mean?” Alec asks, eyeing him suspiciously.
Magnus pauses and Alec can tell he wants to be evasive. He takes a few steps closer and Magnus meets his gaze before standing straight, looking stiff. 
He’s tall, Alec notes as he gets closer. Almost as tall as Alec. His shoulders are broader than Alec realized, and he can see the definition of Magnus’ arms underneath his fitted shirt. Alec’s stomach is swooping, which he wants to be embarrassed about because they’re married and it’s probably weird to get butterflies from a man you’re married to. But he reminds himself that, in a way, it’s the first time he’s ever seen Magnus, so –
“Alec,” Jace says warningly. “Focus.”
Alec swallows and snaps his gaze back up. He reaches out tentatively for Magnus’ hand, who allows it to be pulled into Alec’s own, to his relief. There was a small part of him that thought maybe – maybe he wouldn’t want to touch the man that is definitely not his husband right now. “Please,” Alec asks quietly, choosing not to be embarrassed about how close he sounds to pleading. “Don’t make me stay like this.”
And Alec can see how his words shatter Magnus’ carefully controlled poise. “I – I don’t like our options,” he replies, just as quietly. He looks vulnerable and broken and Alec hates it. He wonders if Magnus always makes him feel this much and with such intensity.
When Alec doesn’t say anything, Magnus sighs and drops Alec’s hand, reaching over to carefully take the bottles from Izzy. “According to mythology, you would drink from the river Lethe to forget everything then from the river Mnemosyne to remember. The idea is that Alec could drink from both bottles and his memory would be restored.”
“Like a reset button?” Simon says.
Alec waits for Magnus to continue but when he doesn’t elaborate, Alec asks, “And?”
“And what?” Magnus counters, an unexpected challenge in his voice.
“And why is that a problem?” Alec wonders aloud, holding out his hand for the water. “Give me the bottle.”
“You could forget everything,” Magnus points out, the challenged edge turning frustrated. “You can’t just rush into this, Alexander. Not this time.”
Alec’s eyes widen. “Are you kidding me? Give me the bottle, Magnus.”
“There are a lot of maybes here, and if this doesn’t work, you could lose everything! Your sister, your brother, your parabatai, your job, everyone and everything you know and love and fought for.”
“My job,” Alec echoes dully, a little stung. “Magnus, you don’t know how this feels. There’s this space inside, this emptiness and it… it aches. You belong there, our life belongs there, I know it does, and I can’t spend the rest of my life feeling like this. Like there’s part of me that’s not complete.”
Magnus looks at him brokenly. “Alexander, please, just…”
Alec turns to face Isabelle and Jace, an apologetic look on his face. He knows what he’s asking of them, the kind of pressure he’s putting on them to understand that he has to do this. He knows it’s risky and impulsive and selfish, which feels foreign to him, but none of that is going to stop him. “I know what this might mean for you two, I do, but I can’t –”
“Oh shut up,” Isabelle says, smiling.
Jace stares at him, unimpressed. “The real you would have already downed the first bottle by now.”
Alec feels relief wash through him and he turns to face Magnus, eyebrow raised and impatience etched into every feature, hand outstretched expectantly.
Magnus sighs. “Alexander,” he says softly, and his hand stays still.
“Let me remember you,” Alec says plainly, motioning for the bottle until Magnus reluctantly passes it to him.
Alec uncorks the bottle, downs it in three pronounced gulps, and never looks away from Magnus once.
Alec is sitting on a couch. Opposite him are a blond man and brunette woman. They all watch each other. He knows his name is Alec and that these people in front of him seem familiar – maybe family? – but he doesn’t know much of anything else. He struggles to search his brain for recognition, any memory at all, but he comes up blank.
The blond holds out a bottle. “Can you drink this for me?”
Alec eyes it cautiously. “What is it?”
“It’s – it’ll help you remember, I promise.”
But Alec doesn’t take it from him.
The blond sighs, handing the bottle to the brunette woman so that he can pull a small knife from his pocket. He holds it up for Alec to see and raises his eyebrows. “Watch,” he says as he drags it slowly over the back of his hand. Blood begins to drip out of the new cut and suddenly, Alec’s own hand sears with pain. He looks down at it, disbelieving, then back up to the blond.
“We’ve got a bond, me and you. Is that enough for you to trust me?”
Alec doesn’t say anything in response but reaches out to take the bottle from the brunette. He doesn’t do much with it, though, just holds up to inspect the clear liquid inside.
“Can you drink that for us, Alec?” the brunette finally says.
Alec looks between the two of them. They’re familiar somehow, both of them, but he still feels the need to be on guard. Objectively, he notes that they’re young, they’re friendly, and they’re attractive – but attractive in a way he can’t place, in a way that feels wrong. 
Alec startles as another figure moves from behind the couch to sit next to the other two. And this man – this man is attractive in a way Alec can immediately place, in a way that does not feel wrong at all.
The blonde lets out a sudden laugh. “Seriously, Alec? Now?” he asks, looking skeptical but amused.
Alec is completely unaffected by the hint of light-hearted judgment, though he doesn’t know why he’s so quick to ignore him.
The attractive man with the dark, styled hair looks curiously at the blond. “Really?”
“Really,” the blond says, shaking his head. “I think you broke him, Magnus.”
Magnus hums to himself, pleased for a moment, before seemingly remembering his surroundings.
“Please drink it, Alec,” the brunette says, a hint of desperation in her voice.
Alec hesitates then nods. He uncorks it and raises it to lips. Before he drinks, though, he inexplicably looks to Magnus as if waiting for some kind of encouragement.
Magnus gives hints of a smile and a nod, and Alec decides that’s enough.
So he drinks.
Alec is trying to wake up but he feels like he’s suffocating under visions, memories, moments. There’s a flood of images of Magnus: bursting into Alec’s wedding to Lydia and permanently turning Alec’s life upside down in the best possible way; breaking Alec’s heart in the middle of a hallway outside of a hospital room and teaching him the real meaning of heartache; bathed in sunlight and handing a semi-asleep Alec a half-glass of orange juice; standing across from Alec in front of their family and friends exchanging vows. Alec is conscious enough to remember the events of the past several, what – hours, days? – and realizes he’s watching his memories return to him in waves.
And then he remembers:
A woman showed up to the apartment. She was dressed in a flowing pink gown, long wavy hair cascading down her back. She called herself Mnemosyne and told them she’d be playing a game, taking away Alec’s memories, but not all of them, just the ones of the person he loved most in the world.
Everyone was quiet. They shot panicked looks towards Magnus.
Jace introduced himself to Mnemosyne, said he was the most important person in the world to Alec, that Alec couldn’t survive without him.
Izzy argued, said Jace couldn’t compare to her, said she was Alec’s blood and Jace couldn’t live up to that.
But Mnemosyne had seen through them both, understood Alec’s silence as he stared at Magnus, like maybe he was trying to memorize his face in case, in case…
And Izzy had begged her not to do it, to take her instead, said Mnemosyne didn’t know what Alec was like back then, didn’t know what it would do to all of them if she took Magnus away from Alec.
Mnemosyne said it would be a gift.
Jace tried to argue that she was taking, not giving, but she paid him no attention. 
Alec had tried to move towards Magnus, to touch him just one last time.
And then he woke up in a bed at the Institute.
Alec finally breaks free from the onslaught of images and props himself on his left elbow. For a minute, he can’t figure out what’s real and what he made up. Is Magnus real? Or just Alec’s desperate attempt to create someone that loves him unconditionally? Are they actually married?
He calls out, “Magnus?” without even consciously deciding to do it, then looks down to take stock. He’s tangled in yellow-gold sheets, he’s wearing his ring, and the bathroom is exactly where it’s supposed to be in the apartment that Alec remembers.
“I’m right here,” a soft voice says from behind him. Alec whips around to see Magnus sitting on the edge of the bed, tentative and unsure.
“Oh god, you’re real,” Alec says, scrambling to pull Magnus close to him. He grips him tightly and buries his head into the crook of Magnus’ neck, remembering the feel of Magnus’ skin on his, of Magnus’ smell, of how he fits in his arms.
Alec’s thoughts and emotions threaten to take hold of him but he wills them down, needing to stay in this moment for just a little while longer.
“It’s okay,” Magnus tells him. “You’re okay.”
Alec pulls back briefly to look at Magnus, to really see him. He’s not sure he’ll ever get over the feeling of looking at Magnus but not recognizing him. “I’m not okay.”
Magnus shakes his head sadly. “You’ll be okay,” he amends. “We both will.”
Alec nods, pulls Magnus close again, and stays that way until he’s lost track of time.
“I can’t do that again,” Alec tells Magnus two days later – two days of paranoid suspicion and looking over his shoulder. They’re eating dinner on the couch for some reason, possibly because they feel the need to be pressed up close, and it strikes Alec that he lost the big, important moments of their lives, but he also lost the casual dinners and popcorn-and-movies and pool games, too.
“I know,” Magnus agrees. “But on the bright side, I don’t think repeat visits are what they have in mind.”
“The bright side,” Alec repeats dryly.
Magnus smiles at him from across the table. “I’m sure the next one – if there’s a next one – won’t be as bad.” Alec can tell he’s not fully convinced, only saying the words for Alec’s benefit.
“Well there goes your theory that they’re just trying to help,” Alec says with a raised eyebrow.
“I don’t know,” Magnus counters. “She didn’t hurt us. We’re alive and everything is back to normal.”
Alec is speechless for a moment. He grabs Magnus’ plate, placing them both on the coffee table, and pulls Magnus’ hand into both of his. “Normal? Magnus, I’ll remember that for the rest of my life. Do you know how painful it is to look at the man you love and not remember him?”
Magnus fixes him with a sympathetic stare. “No, but I know how painful it is to have the man you love look at you and not remember,” he says pointedly.
Alec deflates. “I – you’re right; that must have been awful.”
“And I’m not downplaying what you lived through, Alexander. I hope you know that.”
Alec watches him and his hand grips Magnus’ a bit tighter, like maybe he’s still not convinced Mnemosyne won’t make another surprise cameo.
“The lengths you’d go for us,” Magnus whispers, mostly to himself, “I never imagined that.”
Alec deliberately doesn’t mention the become-a-vampire thing. 
And ultimately, that’s what does it for Alec. The whole terrifying experience, the memories that might possibly haunt him for the rest of his life, it all led to this moment, to Magnus discovering just how far Alec will go, how far gone Alec is on him. Maybe it was supposed to be a gift for Magnus. And maybe that’s worth it. 
Maybe being this far gone doesn’t make sense, Alec thinks, but it still feels right.
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shiny-procrastinates · a year ago
(re)Watching Magia Record S1 - part 11
part 10 here
Hello and welcome back everyone to our Magia Record s1 watch-along! Last time, we had the aftermath of the Endless Solitude's incident, found out that Mami is now part of the Wings of the Magius and left off with the reveal that one of Ui's (Iroha's sister, for those who have forgotten) might be another one of the Magius. What is this all about? Let's watch and find out:
Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story: Magia Record S1 episode 11
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For some reason, we are now watching Tsukuyo's club practice. Wait- Akatsuki? That's not the surname I remember. We also see a photo of Mifuyu on the club room, so they must've been club mates.
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Good question, Tsukuyo. Maybe she's waiting for Sana? (lies)
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awnt the whole family's on the op now. Yachiyo is even smiling!
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NOW we're back to where the other episode left off. According to Sana, she sometimes heard the Feathers talking about Nemu when they came to Ai's barrier to retrieve a witch. The girls then wonder if Nemu's being forced to work with them and Iroha says that maybe Ui's being kept captive by them too, with everyone falling silent at this.
Felicia asks if they can't just catch a Feather and force them to speak, so Tsuruno says if they should keep going after the Rumors them. While the three are wondering that, Iroha remembers about Tsukuyo, who she had seen in her uniform, and we are now back to the present.
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Yeah right, are you saying you were actually triplets?
So Iroha decided to catch Tsukuyo after school. If Tsukuyo had a braincell, she could've left by a backdoor or used her magical girl powers to jump over the wall, but it seems she borrowed hers to Tsukasa today.
Tsukuyo stops Iroha from outing her as a Feather, so Iroha invites her to go talk somewhere else. Tsukuyo asks if she plans to interrogate her or worse but Iroha really only wants to talk.
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After changing locations, Iroha seems to have told Tsukuyo about her situation. Tsukuyo asks why Iroha would go so far as telling her that, and Iroha answers that she needs to see Nemu no matter what.
After asking who between Tsukuyo and Tsukasa is the younger sister, appealing to their point in common, Iroha threatens outing Tsukuyo to the others if she doesn't let her see Nemu. Tsukuyo is shocked, asking if she's threatening her and Iroha says she doesn't care if she sees it that way. Damn, Iroha really means business when it's about her sister.
As always when it comes to Ui, Iroha's unusually pushy, and Tsukuyo ends up giving in and promising to at least talk to Mifuyu about it.
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Later that day, the Mikadzuki girls minus Yachiyo are having a meeting in Iroha's room, and decide to get Yachiyo coasters as a thank-you present for giving them the mugs. So cute.
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...that's some interesting club this school has.
The next day, Iroha meets up after school with the other girls to go buy the coaster. Can we talk about the fact there's a group chat just for watching over Felicia? lol
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The girls go buy the coaster, and get interrupted by a witch. Guess we can add that to the things magical girls can't do in peace. No probs Tsuruno, there's really no run-time for this.
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Look how happy she is. Please don't ruin this in the next scene, show (flag).
Back at the house, Iroha's waiting for Yachiyo's return on Tsuruno's instructions. She hears the doorbell ring and answers it immediately, thinking it's Yachiyo (really, Iroha, why would Yachiyo ring the doorbell to her own house?) but, shockingly, it's Mifuyu.
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This probably situation couldn't get more awkward for Iroha had they tried. Iroha tries to show some hospitality, but Mifuyu takes the lead and the opportunity to rub in that she knows the place (and its owner) way better. What's with the attitude, Mifuyu? It's not like Iroha threatened your friend or a- oh wait, nvm.
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Iroha asks what business Mifuyu has with Yachiyo today, and Mifuyu asks in return if she has to have some business in order to visit a friend... no, not business Mifuyu but normally you'd warn someone before dropping by, where's your manners? Iroha points out that she hasn't visited for a long time and Mifuyu explains that she didn't come because she knew Yachiyo wouldn't agree with The Wings of the Magius. She then explains she's actually there to talk to Iroha today.
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Oh, she did it, she flipped Iroha's switch.
Mifuyu asks if Iroha wouldn't join the cult if she wants to know about Nemu, but Iroha questions Mifuyu's motive for recruiting her, to which Mifuyu says it'd be good for them because she'd be able to investigate about her sister without clashing with them. Iroha presses her about Ui, which she says she doesn't know, and Nemu, but Mifuyu does not say anything else.
...aaand the other girls are standing there in the garden while all this is going on lol
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Mifuyu invites the girls of Mikadzuki Villa to attend a lecture about what exactly the cult is doing... this is definitely a trap ain't it. At that moment, Yachiyo arrives. Oooh man...
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Mifuyu apologizes for the surprise and makes to leave, saying this one unpleasant remark to which Yachiyo angrily replies right away.
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Mifuyu provokes Yachiyo, saying how she went back to being her old self, which Yachiyo denies, eventually losing her cool and ordering Mifuyu to leave.
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Tsuruno tries to check on Yachiyo but Yachiyo also leaves. Felicia's confused and Tsuruno tries to keep a bright mood, but the atmosphere is definitely ruined.
Yachiyo has went back to her room and-
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ohhwoah what is that that's creepy!
So, uhh, Yachiyo is not well at all, she's now hallucinating. Whatever Mifuyu was trying to get at earlier it definitely got to her.
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Seems the other girls aren't having a much better night either... but at least they're not hallucinating.
The next day, Iroha relays Mifuyu's invitation to the others. Yachiyo, however, refuses to take part in the conversation and leaves. She's very clearly still bothered about what Mifuyu said, and now she's avoiding her team.
Iroha and the girls have each their reaction to Yachiyo's behavior for a moment, but then go back to the matter at hand. Sana asks if Iroha really plans on going to the lecture, and she says she decided it'd be best to go, after thinking it over. They don't want to fight the cult either, so it shouldn't hurt to at least try to hear them out. Felicia says it's definitely a trap but that they can just break out together then, with Tsuruno agreeing. The two laugh, but doesn't it feel kinda forced?
...and then they realize no one knows where Memory Museum is lol
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Mitama! Long time no see.
Iroha drops by the Coordinator's to ask about Memory Museum, which Mitama reveals is a Rumor that's being spread around Sakae Ward.
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We then get a scene about the contents of the Rumor. Apparently, the Memory Museum archives memories (who'd thought!) and you can do things with them by ringing a bell, or something. But if you see one you'll end up influenced by it. (I refuse to comment about the goat)
In any case, Momoko points on the map the probable location of Memory Museum, to which Iroha thanks the two and goes back. After Iroha leaving, Mitama advises Momoko to tell "something", at least to Rena, since Kaede is still down, and Momoko says she knows. Quite the dark clouds are on the horizon.
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No, literally. It's raining.
Back at Mikadzuki Villa, all the girls except Yachiyo are leaving to go to Memory Museum. Iroha warns Yachiyo they're leaving, but she doesn't answer. Ohh Yachiyo, please, are you sure you won't regret this later?
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Iroha and co. naruto run on the rain to Memory Museum, meeting Chibi Kyuubei on the entrance. Yep, definitely Rumor. I might be going crazy but I always think that Iroha looks more her age with the raincoat, despite Madoka's wei- I mean, unique art style. Gotta be something with the proportions.
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Also like this detail with Tsuruno's coat folded weird and Felicia's not folded at all lol
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We are platformer game now
While climbing up the drawers, the girls talk about chibi Kyuubei, eventually raising suggestions on how to name him... which is funny because that's for the player to decide in the game, so we don't have an official way to call him.
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Meanwhile, Rena's meeting up with Momoko. She starts complaining like usual, but soon hesitates when she reads the mood. Momoko says she thought it was time to tell her what happened to Yachiyo one year ago. Wait, what? We never heard about anything either.
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But, well... we can guess.
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Back at the Memory Museum, Iroha might be the unluckiest mahou shoujo ever, because
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One of the Magius is none other than one of her sister's friends.
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- x -
Aaand that's it for episode 11. That last scene is a bomb drop, but it's not like you couldn't see it coming from the moment they said Nemu was part of the cult. I mean, if one of the hospital trio was erased from existence, and the other was part of the cult, what were the odds that the last one would be normal? lol
Talking about this scene, I feel compelled to post here the corresponding still from the game, because the world was robbed of Iroha's surprisingly gallant back:
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Seriously, when was she ever this cool?
On the other hand, Touka looks like a cute normal kid here which is about as far of the truth as we can get, so I'll give the anime credit for that.
All that aside, we are now approaching the end! With the Magius giving a lecture about salvation and Momoko having a talk with Rena, it's quite clear that the truth about magical girls is about to be revealed to our cast next episode. The big question here is: how will they react? Felicia specially shouldn't be very happy to learn this, considering what her wish was. Exciting!
We also have left to wonder what's up with Yachiyo. Why did what Mifuyu say affect her so much? We have yet to see her backstory, so Momoko talking might just gives us the answer to that question.
With that said, I'll leave it here for today. I can't believe this ended up even later than yesterday considering I start writing even earlier. Dammit short attention span, stop getting sidetracked pls. Tomorrow we'll be watching episode 11 that's looking really promising, so I hope you'll be reading me again then. Have a good morning/afternoon/evening and bye-bye!
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toysoldiers-rwby · a year ago
[CS] 6. Conflict
Cutting Strings
Characters: Team APCX, Winter Word Count: 7k
Somethings never change. Even if it’s new to Penny.
Read on Ao3
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  Error: Enemy Unknown  
Neon’s frustrated voice rang around the Gym. “Reese! She closed shop to help you and Nadir study!”  
“Yeah but Aro can be really scary!” Reese argued. “We still have like two weeks till Haven officially starts…”  
Penny slowly tunned their voices out. Ciel and Penny arrived 30 minutes ago. May was there again and she challenged Ciel to a sparring match. Ciel declined, her shift was about to start but Neon begged her for the hours. Neon’s reasoning that training with a Huntress was more valuable than lien convinced Ciel.  
Penny joined their warm-ups to burn some excess energy her upset Aura was generating. It helped a little but it would take a real fight to exhaust her. Then she spent five minutes of watching the Huntress play around with the officer-in-training and an unknown amount of time slumped against the table drawing aimless shapes on the wood as little Billy tried to ram into her finger.  
Another discovery Penny had made was that she needed a routine. Previously her days was scheduled to optimize both her father and Ironwood’s time. But now that she was free to explore Atlas- and Mantle as long as Ironwood doesn’t know, she had to make her own schedule. This past week she’d work on Billy, the now fully repaired miniature robotic goat with limited functionality! At night she’d visit Ciel and they’d relax at the Officer’s Gym.  
But tonight was a little different. Xanthic had finished her assignment from Ironwood… Then Winter escorted her back to her quarters. Four hours ahead of routine. She didn’t argue or fight, just stared at Winter and Penny…  
“Oh!” Penny gasped. Billy had determined her nose as new challenger and rammed into her. She giggled and picked him up, “Alright, Billy. It’s bed time.” She said. Pushing aside the cover on his back she pressed the sleep button. Billy’s charge slowed to a trot and eventually a complete stop. His head shook, metal ears stiff in the air when they should be flopping around. Tinny rubber hooves dug into Penny’s hand so lightly her sensors didn’t recognize it.  
Winter didn’t need to isolate Xanthic. They could have worked on this little robot together. She wanted to have it updated to perform simple tricks and vocal commands. Penny was curious to see her Father and Aro’s reaction.  
“That’s so cute I think I have cavities,” May muttered. She grunted as Ciel finally got a punch in. “You little!” May practically growled. She feinted a jab then dove in a low tackle. Ciel’s back slammed into the mat as her legs were pulled out from under her. Once taken to the mat, Ciel was quickly put in a lock and forced to tap out.  
Ciel lay there, exhausted and breathing hard while May barely broke a sweat and effortlessly jumped to her feet. “Huntresses are insane…”  
“We are superheroes!” May said with a large smile. It faltered slightly when Penny couldn’t match that energy. “Something biting at you Penn?” Penny tilted her head and looked around. Her false skin wasn’t sensitive so if something was biting her she didn’t feel or see it. May laughed and shook her head. “What’s on your mind? You’ve been acting sad all evening…” Her voice drifted off, posture completely slacking. She thickly swallowed and that definitely triggered Penny’s interest.  
Before Penny could turn around a pale green hair flew past her. Aro stood a few feet from May. She was grinning, ears to excited to stay hidden and fluttering up and down. She had an excited bounce and tiny flaps of her arms-  
“Aro!” Penny’s mind nearly shorted. There might have been several warnings about velocity and weight but all that was registering was her friend was finally back. Her processors fired several simulations about how easier the week would have been if Aro was there to smooth conflicts or to infect her with her cheery attitude.  
“Hi Penn!” Aro yelled back, grunting as the women tackled her. They didn’t fall to the ground but floated long enough for Aro to get her footing again. Penny was hugged tight. That comforting feeling of pressure back in greater force. Penny giggled burying her face into her future teammate’s shoulder. She wanted to go back to the drinks with Winter and May or even the trails General started her with. She was built for the stress of combat not… whatever she was feeling righ tow. Aro set Penny down and looked at May again. Her grin was bigger, undeterred by May’s indifferent, almost glaring expression. “Hi.”  
“Salutations,” May drawled, voice dead and voice of any emotion. She crossed her arms and waited for Aro’s energy to calm a little. It had the opposite effect and she only squeezed Penny tighter. Penny giggled as Faunus ears tickled her fake ones. Apparently they were sensitive and sent a Morse code of sensation confusing her processors. May sighed at the cute display, “I’m still mad at you.”  
“I deserve it,” Aro said only a hint of seldom and guilt in her voice. “I know it’s not showing now- I really missed you.”  
A blush flashed across May’s face for a second. The Huntress groaned slapping her head. Then held her arms open and Aro jumped into them. Arms wrapped around her neck and face buried into the crook of her shoulder and neck.  
“I hate you sometimes.”  
“Sometimes I deserve it,” Aro said.  
Penny giggled from the side. If this was how they resolved their conflicts how did they end up fighting in the first place?  
“Ugh. Get a room,” Ciel groaned from the floor. Aro snorted. She separated from from May and threw her head back laughing. It shamelessly echoed around the basement.  
It was then she understood why May paused, so surprised. Aro wasn’t dressed in her boiler-suit, wasn’t covered in grease. Sweat, or Dust. Penny knew Aro own a successful weapon and Dust shop. But it was difficult to actually see her as a businesswomen.  
Her high class suit rivaled Winter’s casual outfits. Penny’s eyes were particularly drawn to the pin on her tie and collar. Aro’s dull eyes were framed by glasses… May caught her staring and smirked. Penny flustered, a surge of Aura generating too much heat. While she couldn’t blush Penny felt it the hot air rise to her face and she huffed out cloud of steam.  
Aro stomped on the floor, a bright glow of purple slowly levitating Ciel up. The student was floundering. Her legs kicked out wildly for footing only to be upside down. Penny wasn’t fond of the sensation either, so she quickly helped Ciel upright. Aro gently turned off the Dust. Ciel looked more disheveled by the gravity Dust than the sparing.  
“Never. Again.” The officer-in-training said, as if the order would stick with the anarchist.  
“No promises,” Aro sang. She looked at May with a guilty and open expression. “I was waiting for Xanthic’s okay to come back.” May’s quick temper flared again. A fierce scowl and a trembling fist instantly set Penny on alert. She took a deep breath. She’s spent more time with Ciel and May these past few days and trusted that peaceful experience rather than her sensitive protocols. It was a little slow, but May slowly relaxed and nodded at Aro to continue. “A mutual contact told me Xanthic disappeared.”  
Penny frowned. That was… true? She pushed her processors trying to analysis the situation from a different perspective. It was difficult, trying to think of false information and incorrect functions. Chances were high only the Ace-Ops and Winter knew about Xanthic’s whereabouts. The hacker was taken by surprised, so she couldn’t call for help. Did she even have anyone that would help her?  
May frowned and crossed her arms. Penny didn’t know if she was pleased or alerted, that indifferent mask was on her face again. She liked the smile better.  
“Since when were you and Xanthic talking?”  
Aro made sure to hold eye contact with May. Her dull eyes were sincere… and not glowing! Her semblance was off! Aro’s entire energy seemed a little muted but much more earnest, “Almost two weeks. Since she found out Ironwood is trying to puppet us.” May closed her eyes, fighting off another outburst. She took a deep breath. Penny added a reminder to ask Aro about her history with Xanthic. Judging from May’s expression it wasn’t good.  
“I want to punch you in the face.”  
Aro didn’t even flinch at that but Penny did. Was… this common? Is this how friends behaved? “I deserve it, but we need to find Xanthic first.” May visibly blanch and deflate.  
“I know her current location,” Penny said. Her voice sounded too seldom but. She was oddly worried about a women that was far too aggressive. Somewhere deep in her programming told Penny it didn’t matter. “She’s under house arrest at the my father’s Facility. Are we helping her escape?” She asked quietly.  
“Depends,” May said quickly and harshly, “Does she really need saving?”  
“I think so,” Penny said. She hadn’t notice it at first because Xanthic was working but General Ironwood had placed her in near complete isolation. Alone, no socialization, no freedom… “Kidnapping. Isolation. Forced Labor. Forgery.” She listed, flinching at each word. She was sure General Ironwood had a good reason, but was also understanding Xanthic’s precautions. May and Aro didn’t seem surprised at the list but Ciel was deeply skeptical and glared harder at every word.  
“Kidnapping. Don’t you mean arrested?” Ciel asked. “She was guilty of hacking Atlas’ system!”  
“Then she would be in prison, not a military research facility.” Penny reasoned. They had to return Xanthic’s home to bring necessities Atlas provided in prisons. She still didn’t know if she enjoyed Xanthic’s company but it often lead to Winter assisting her. Seeing her almost made the fights between them worth it. “Ms. Xanthic is crass, aggressive, and enjoys challenging authority.” Ciel stared hard while May and Aro nodded. They both looked like they wanted to add more but refrained from doing so. “She was oddly compliant and docile with Winter today.”  
Aro popped her lip, brows raised high. “Isolation… with Win?” She asked slowly. She looked at May with a pleading stare, “You know Xan doesn’t handle both of those things well.”  
“If she doesn’t want to be lonely she should try being nice!” May said. Aro snapped her jaw shut. Her semblance must be active again because the usual bright blue glow returned, pupils flaring white. “I like you better with Focus off.”  
“And I’d like your support.” Aro snipped back. “You don’t need to help but I’m not letting Ironwood get away with this.”  
“Breaks people!” Ciel yelled. "We are not infiltrating a military facility."  
Aro smirked arms crossed in a way that strained her suit across her large arms and shoulders. “Infiltrate? You do realize you’re talking to a businesswomen.” She gestured to her suit. This time Penny caught May admiring it, a bit reluctantly. The Huntress huffed, trying to act frustrated rather than flustered. Penny giggled at the bravado.  
They took the elevator up to the roof where Aro had parked her airship. Two more Huntresses sat atop of it and one jumped down when they saw the group.  
“Salutation!” Penny didn’t instantly recognize the voice so she wasn’t Atlesian Military. The distinctive Faunus ears and excellent record identified her as Fiona Thyme. She grinned running up to Penny and shoving May aside even though she had her arms open for a hug. Her partner Robyn Hill, laughed so hard she almost fell off the airship on her descent. Fiona grabbed Penny’s hand and shook it, “I’m Fiona, it’s a pleasure to finally met you!” She said. “Aro and May are constantly talking about you.”  
Penny gave Aro a curious glance and she simply raised a brow. Her eyes flickered before she talked in a voice that was too smooth and perfect, “She’s lying.” The liar said. Penny and Fiona glanced at each other a knowing look and shared a giggle.  
“It is a pleasure to meet you too!” Penny grinned, “I have to admit it’s nice not having to look up so much…” Ciel and Fiona was around her height. Aro was surprisingly short when she stood next to May and Winter. It was her horns brought them closer to height.  
“Right?! These assholes should treat us to a good chiropractor.” Fiona covered her mouth as if she was whispering, but Penny was sure she purposely increased her volume.  
“You brat!” May grumbled picking Fiona up and throwing tiny Huntress over her shoulder. Fiona only laughed and playfully tried to break free. Ciel looked hesitant but followed Penny into their future teammates’ transport. The inside looked like a luxury cruiser, two sofas pointed at an entertainment system with a hard-light table disappearing from the center. The rather happy group of huntresses already took a sofa catching up on this week’s events.  
“Someone actually tried to mug us in Vacuo,” Robyn said. “Aro accidentally drew blood and then fainted on the spot!”  
May rolled her eyes, “Dressed like that and in this airship? I’m surprised you didn’t get shot down.”  
“With what artillery?” Fiona asked.  
Ciel made her way to the front. She didn’t take a seat on the sofa but hovered at the cockpit door. Penny decided occupy the co-pilot seat next to her future-teammate.  
“You two are idiots.” Ciel said with a sigh. “You’re actually going to talk him into releasing a dangerous criminal?”  
“You sure you trust an idiot to fly an airship?” Aro said with a large grin up at her. Ciel frowned. She didn’t look nervous and didn’t look at the door. After a few seconds Aro finally lifted her personalized transport off the building.  
“Aro has one of the best records for nonmilitary pilots!” Penny informed. That seemed to eased Ciel but she didn’t sit down.  
The ride was short and easy, so Aro entertained herself by giving Ciel a brief overview of the console. It didn’t match any specs that Penny knew so she suspected she personally built it. As they finally reached the floating city Atlas Command tried directed Aro to dock at the Academy. The ships audio-to-text was instantanious and the hard-light words hovered above the dash. Aro weighed her options. But with one looked at Penny, she confidentely veered off course.  
“Actually I think Dr. Pietro is holding something important for me.” Aro said. May loudly gagged, then grunting in pain as two loud smacks stopped her.  
“M-Ms. Glade!” The military personal stuttered.  
“Very confidential,” Aro said drawling out the words with a grin. “I was his protégée, I still help every now and again. You know how it goes.”  
“General Ironwood-” Aro turned off the speech-to-text. Penny remembered where the volume was and turned that down for everyone else.  
Before Ciel could scold her, they finally sored above the smog and factory smoke. For a second, Ciel looked amazed. Then it was replaced by scowl. Penny spent enough time with her to recognize that analytical look. Her eyes darting from bright tower to hard-light banners and even the robots that waited patiently for their owners. Penny flinched.  
“Wow.” Ciel scoffed. “So much for hard-light Dust being rare. One percent of the excess funds here could help the hospitals and miners- Ugh.”  
“Welcome to the Atlas sucks club!” May cheered from the back. Penny frowned. Was it really that bad? “Hard to see the bullshit they are pulling from below.”  
Aro landed the ship on the roof and Penny’s Scroll granted the group access. Ciel tried to talk her way into staying on the ship but Aro and Penny convinced her not to. She would be alone, technically trespassing on Military property.  
“It’s best if you stay with me,” Aro said. Her tone was a little different. Leveled and practiced in a way that reminded Penny of Winter. Then her sensors picked up on something, or rather the lack of noise. Penny glanced at the back to see the Huntresses looking uneasy. Aro only smiled and laughed, “I’m a pretty good distraction.”  
“Hm. For the record I was kidnapped,” Ciel muttered.  
“Records Xanthic is able and willing to alter,” Penny reminded.  
When the elevator opened to the main floor, General Ironwood and a small entourage was awaiting for them. Specialist Winter stood, poised like a soldier but lacking any real conviction. She nearly broke rank when she saw Penny. Her eyes locked on to hers far too long and Penny could only smile back. She hoped it was comforting because it felt sad. Almost guilty. Vine Zeki and Marrow Armin stood behind her. Vine was the only real image of an Atlesian soldier, Marrow looked conflicted, tail almost between his legs.  
These operatives were ideal for crowd control.  
If a fight broke out, the battle would hinge on Marrow’s Stay and Ciel’s Clockwork, perhaps even Aro’s Dust abilities. He was a newest Ace-Ops member so statistics was still off, in theory he could Stay a group. But one of this size as well as three Huntresses would be a challenge. Penny would be able to fight off Winter’s summons- Penny shook her head. She should not be strategizing against the military.  
“Welcome back, Ms. Glade.” General Ironwood greeted. His tone was as cold and welcoming as the steel they stood on.  
Aro on the other hand kept her playful persona, “You didn’t even bring my favorites,” Aro said with a small pout. Once again her voice was too perfect, too smooth and at ease. Her eyes seemed to shine brighter, “Where’s Hare and Oak?”  
“Standby with Clover,” Ironwood said. He stood aside and waved his arms. A silent permission for the group to enter and an order to follow. Robyn and her team scowled but followed Aro’s lead. Flanking her, as if they were guards.  
Winter broke rank, strides placing her next to Penny. She didn’t speak, instead giving Penny a concerned look then a questioning glance at Ciel, who didn’t look very pleased. The possibility of a fight breaking out was… low. Ideally. The human variable was very unpreditable, and Aro seemed to be the largest unknown factor. Perhaps kidnapped wasn’t too extreme.  
“Congrats Marrow!” Aro said, “I had a bet with Joanna and May about when you’d get accepted into the Ace-Ops. I won.”  
“Thanks! I-” Marrow was cut off by a pointed look from Vine. “I’m not allowed to be polite apparently.” He said with a pout. His tail curled down and arms folded across his chest.  
"I don’t quite understand it either. I feel like the silence is meant to rile us up." Aro said. Despite her smooth and easy going voice the soldiers seemed to flinch. General Ironwood increased his pace and no one stopped any further conversation.  
Marrow excitedly told her about a search and destroy mission of a Geist that plagued a few SDC transports. It was particularly fond of taking over machinery. Aro talked about the crime rates in Vale, how Dust theft is increasing the demands for Dust. During her week long trip she made several contracts for the Abyssal Dust Company that would give her a small lead over the SDC.  
“Sounds like Vale needs help,” Marrow frowned.  
“They do,” Robyn agreed, “I still have a few connections from my cop days. We helped a few investigations and the scale of this thing could mean a huge gang war.”  
“But Vale isn’t known for those types of conflicts,” May muttered.  
“I still think they’re shipping it to Vacuo.” Fiona added.  
“Their history of violence and such little resources would mean they’d need outside help.” Vine agreed.  
Aro was right. The small talk did easy tensions a little. They were all Huntresses and Huntsmen after all, their duty was to protect the people, and they easily talked about Vale’s situation for the duration of the walk. But Ironwood only grew tense. His posture grew stiff, walking more like a march.  
Then Penny notice Winter fell back, nudging May’s arm and giving a questioning look. May’s hands and fingers moved, face quickly changing from expression to expression. Penny realized she was signing when Winter did a gesture and May repeated the motions a little slower. Whatever information they traded set Winter on edge. She widen her strides and walked even closer to Penny.  
She tried to trust Aro. Her future teammate was confident and unwavering but as she watched everyone’s behavior Penny was starting to realize something. She was helpless and useless. She couldn’t contribute anything to Xanthic’s freedom. She was created to help and protect, but this situation wasn’t a physical fight.  
It was beyond her control…  
They finally arrived at Ironwood’s office. Xanthic was seated there, surrounded by the other Ace-Ops members. The gravity Dust bindings were on, holding her wrist together. Physically, she was well. Mentally, Ashley Xanthic nearly catatonic. The way her eyes… Penny’s Aura clenched around her systems. There was nearly no power running through Xanthic’s circuits. It was dull almost-  
“You look dead,” Ciel blurted out, surprise and a near overwhelming tone in her voice.  
Immediately those cybernetic eyes flickered on. It was long enough for Xanthic to take in the rebellious group but it dimmed far too quickly for Penny’s comfort. She didn’t stand when Harriet tried prompting her too. “I’m here to haunt you. Boo.” Xanthic said. Again it didn’t hold any bite and Penny’s processors barely register it as Xan’s voice. She wasn’t happy that so many people came to support he. Just tired.  
Ciel sneered, “A failure even in death, I see.” That finally got a reaction even if it was a lazy middle finger. The bit of normality helped Penny calm down.  
“Clover,” Ironwood commanded.  
“We’ll be close,” Clover said with a nod. He lead Harriet and Elm out of the room. Elm gave May a concerned look. Harriet and Fiona lightly glared at each other until Robyn stepped between them. She completely ignored the Spec-Ops and kept her eyes on Ironwood. Vine and Marrow stepped forward, protecting their General’s flanks. Penny was grateful Winter stood by her side. Even it was to protect her from Aro or Robyn’s team.  
The General’s eyes landed on Ciel though he didn’t speak until the doors hissed shut. The officer-in-training tried not to fidget, but from her position Penny could see her tightly squeeze her hands hidden behind her back.  
“I’m surprised Ms. Soleil is with you.”  
“I found them bonding at the old Gym! Ciel’s credentials are some of the best in the Police Academy. Almost as good as Robyn’s,” Aro said with a smile that wasn’t perfect. It was a little smug and that made it completely vicious. Penny looked around the room, reading people’s reactions. Everyone stared hard at her, tense.  
Penny flinched a little. Aro wasn’t a threat, she was a friend trying to help their future teammate. She wanted to say it but the tension in the room caused her processors to stutter and falter.  
"I bet with training Ciel’s Clockwork would be more versatile that Stay." Marrow seemed to frown at that. “I also noticed Penny completely destroyed the highest score.” That another response from Xanthic. Her cybernetic eyes glowed softly. Aro signed at her and finally roused the hacker onto her feet. It seemed like she was trying to wake up.  
“… She did now?” General Ironwood asked with a raised brow. His eyes finally lifted off Ciel and to Penny. She tried not to flinch under it. She really did but couldn’t find the courage.He was General Ironwood, he helped her father create her and- Aro’s arm wrapped around her shoulders, body angle between them like a shield.  
“Without breaking a sweat, according to May. Which is… surprising,” Aro tapped her chin. She spared a glance at Penny then down to her hand. She had grasped Aro’s shirt out of reflex. Penny let go and took a step closer to Winter. She was relieved to feel a faint pressure push into her.  
Aro pulled out her Scroll- a new model. It was gold and green, compact with only one handle. It didn’t open, with a press of the button it projected schematics… of Floating Array. Penny’s eyes widen. That was hidden off the network, the data was only in this facility.  
An instances was immediately brought forward in Penny’s head. Caught red handed by General Ironwood himself.  
Xanthic didn’t just hack Atlas’ Network but she physically snuck in here! That finally seemed to bring the hacker back to her senses. The smirked was a little soft, her features hard lacking the sharp edge but it was slowly coming back. Your system locked me out before I could get any real information, Xanthic once said.  
Floating Array and Penny herself wasn’t on the record, according to Atlas documentation, they didn’t exist.  
The mechanic took a deep breath. Slowly that façade faded with the bright blue of Aro’s eyes. A nearly chilling deep sea green eyes challenged Ironwood.  
“I don’t remember giving the military access to my design or permission to turn it into a lethal weapon.” Aurora Glade, lied with her semblance off.  
Penny felt a heavy weight in her chest. In order to keep the lie Ironwood carefully constructed around her, he couldn’t risk denying that claim. Aro effectively stolen Atlesian Military Weapon in front his most loyal subordinates.  
When she spoke this time her voice was completely flat, mimic’s Ironwood’s tone when he gave out orders. “I’ve had some companies ask me if it was a personal weapon or commercial one…” She was threatening to publish the schematics.  
“What do you want Glade.” The only crack in his composure was his tone of voice. It was so tense it was nearly dead.  
Aro’s semblance immediately turned on, “Xanthic’s punishment adjusted to accommodate for her autophobia. Of course this wouldn’t affect our previous arrangement.” Except it does. If Ironwood doesn’t give Penny complete freedom to choose her final teammate, the schematics would be released to the public. While the only people capable of using it were in the room, it could easily be reverse enginered by other Kingdoms. And as Ciel one said, humans could be horrible to each other.  
“Of course.” Ironwood said. He pulled out his Scroll transferring permissions to Winter. Immediately the cuffs turned off. “I’ll entrust Schnee to work out the accommodations with you.”  
Aro grin was more of a show of teeth, combined with her golden horns and glowing eyes… For once Penny was skeptical of her first friend. Marrow tried to hide a small smile, his tail wagging so slightly as they left. No one talked as Winter escorted the rebellious group back to the roof. Penny didn’t quite understand the atmosphere. She thought she’d be more conflicted about this but she found herself scared for the others.  
Wasn’t this a victory? Somehow her civilian teammates twisted Ironwood’s lies and manipulations against him. It felt… Penny fidgeted and she took a deep breath of the cold Solitas air to cool her down. Her processors finally placed the emotion, finally realized how bad the consequences could be. She was scared for her team. Her two civilian teammates just blackmailed the General into a corner in front of his subordinates. Not to mention Aro claimed to have created Floating Array.  
The repercussions would be dire.  
Whatever was hanging over them didn’t break until Xanthic stepped out onto the roof. She glared at everyone, “Whoo. Go team APCX…” It was said in such a bored and thick drawl it seemed to have shorted Focus. Aro’s eyes suddenly dulled and she snorted and laughed while Ciel manage to hide it a little with a cough. Satisfied with seeing some life back into everyone, Xanthic ran out arms stretched above her head, “Sun! Praise the sun! I want some Menagerie and Minstrel BBQ! A drink! Fucking pretzel dip!” Whatever tension that remained eased off as Xanthic vented out into the air.  
Slowly they filtered out of the cramp elevator. Penny let everyone walk past her, watching the crowd and life the empty halls of the facility never had. Robyn and Fiona was chatting and giggling, mocking the Ace-Ops reactions. Winter and May seemed a little conflicted but their shoulders weren’t as pinched. The Specialist was rubbing her temples. All the noise of life could be overwhelming at times but… it was wondrous.  
“That would be more effective if you relaxed your jaw,” Penny whispered to her. May sneered and coughed trying to hid it. Winter half glared at Penny but she saw those lips part ever so slightly.  
“Was fucking pretzel dip sex or food?” Aro whispered to them. May growled shoving Aro forward and Winter only groaned. Thanks to the Schnee’s famously pale complexion, Penny did see a small blush across her cheeks.  
They finally caught up to the others who was just watching Xanthic prowl around yelling.  
“We should calm her down,” Robyn whispered to Ciel.  
“I was kidnapped and treated as a bargaining chip. I’m not participating in anything.” Ciel objected. Despite the harsh words her attitude was a little light and entertained, like she was enjoying Xanthic’s frustration.  
“You have no idea how crazy I was going locked up doing the same thing every-day!” Xanthic screamed into the air. Aro hummed, playing along as she opened the transport with her Scroll. “Fucking Ironwood. Argh! I want to rip that Bluetooth off his fucking face and watch his body go limp!” She stormed the transport. Team APCX followed their raging teammate. Penny frowned, finding her co-pilot seat stolen by the hacker. At least she stopped yelling and was glaring past the window. When those sharp cybernetic eyes flicked to Penny she yelped and jumped a little. “I want to beat Penny’s score.”  
“Of course you do!” Fiona yelled from the back. The Huntresses had settled onto the sofa. Penny was a little surprised to see Winter seated in the middle, Fiona and May at either sides of her. Of course Robyn at Fiona’s side. “What does everyone feel like eating? I’m calling Joanna to pick us up some food and meeting us at the Gym.” Someone said sushi and the other wanted pizza. The Huntresses argued amongst themselves with Winter softly critisisng their choices.  
Ciel made a displeased noise, “Please don’t tell me this is going to be a regular thing,” She said. The officer-in-training leaned against Xanthic’s seat, probably because Penny was beside Aro. “Blackmailing the General and everything.”  
“Things usually go a lot smoother…I’m having a hard time figuring out where my plan failed,” Aro admitted with some embarrassment.  
“Oh. So this is fucking routine. Lovely,” Ciel scowled. Then Penny remembered the little box. She slipped off her backpack and pushed aside several folded blades to get to it.  
“Could it be because I didn’t delivery this?” She asked holding the mysterious box out. If she was the reason this happened…  
Xanthic took it and wrote out her signature with her finger. Invisible seems split open to reveal a new Scroll similar to Aro’s new one and thick gloves with cybernetic attachments. Penny counted at least four hard-light projectors on the palm side.  
“There was too much security to use the Scroll and I would have just assaulted the Ace-Ops if I had my gloves,” Xanthic explained, “So it’s probably a good thing you didn’t.”  
“And even if I was here I doubt I’d be able to do much. I prefer subtle manipulations,” Aro said.  
“Pretty sure they hate it.” Xanthic’s head nodded to the back. For a moment Penny caught Winter and May’s eyes. Penny finally realized why they were able to communicate without words. It was shared history and understanding. All three of them hated this side of Aro. The pair turned back to Fiona and Robyn. Xanthic noticed but continued talking with Aro in low volumes. “But no… I don’t think we can afford to be so reckless.”  
“We showed our biggest trump card,” Aro said with a frustrated sigh. Her hands flexed around the joystick. Her voice dropped to a whisper, “My trip to Vale was to transfer ownership of ADC so Ironwood or Jacques doesn’t target that next. I’d still have connections and favors but resources will be short for a bit.”  
“Wait… what are you two talking about?” Ciel asked with a worried edge to her voice.  
Aro tilted her head, dull… no, normal sea-green eyes looking at her, “Court games, Squire.” She grinned weakly. Ciel groaned and rolled her eyes but accepted the answer. Penny had a vague understanding of the phrase. The subtle manipulations of people and appearances to influence the masses. “Things should be calm for awhile. And as much as I hate Ironwood, I’m a little excited to do this Vytal Festival thing.” Aro said, her voice picking up and sounding a little lighter, more like Penny’s first impression of the women.  
How much of her was a lie through Focus?  
The rest of the ride was filed with oddly peaceful chatter. Xanthic’s bite was more like nibble now and Ciel was always ready with a quip back. Or perhaps Penny was just growing acustome to those harsh tones. The closer they got to the Gym the more energy built up, thanks to little Thyme. In the elevator down to the basement the sheep and goat Faunus was posturing at each other.  
“Oh come on! Xanthic is a legendary shot,” Fiona argued. Xanthic smirked, pride swelling obviously.  
Aro scoffed and rolled her eyes, “And Floating Array and is 100% accurate! Besides Penny’s eyes are the newest model.”  
“Bitch,” Xanthic scowled, "My shots are all skill."  
“Five thousand lien that Penny will smoke your ass,” Aro crossed her arms. Ciel sputtered, eyes wide and head whipping back the businesswomen.  
“Just 5? And upgrades.” Xanthic pointed to her eyes.  
“Seven and a gadget IOU,” Aro agreed.  
“We’re gonna be rich!” Fiona cheered running out of the elevator as soon as it opened. She was at the far end of the basement already setting up the shooting range. Joanna had two boxes and two booths shoved together in the back looking a little confused. As soon as she saw Xanthic, a grin broke out on her face.  
“Wow! Just like our academy days!”  
“Don’t remind me,” May and Winter groaned.  
Penny wanted to watch them interact a little more but her teammates Ciel and Aro dragged her off. Specifically Aro with her odd fluctuating gravity presence. Ciel took a deep breath and put her hands on Penny’s shoulders. “Don’t lose. This is two months of pay.”  
“Uh…” Penny smiled a little nervously. Two months sounded like a lot of time and effort but she did not fully comprehend the value of lien. Or human effort. But she was combat ready! Her systems was made for fighting, “It is nearly impossible for me to lose!”  
“I don’t know…” Aro muttered rubbing her chin. Focus was still off so the chances of the mechanic lying was nearly a 0.2 percent. “Xanthic is a really good shot. I’m sure it’s because of the upgrades because her a semblance was tied to her original eyes.”  
Penny only smiled, trying to reassure her teammates. "Floating Array can split into fourteen individual components."  
“Xanthic only has two hands,” Ciel reasoned with a shrug. Aro was starting to look a little worried.  
“Will our shooters please take their places!” Robyn yelled.  
Aro ruffled Penny’s hair, a familiar gesture that tickled Penny’s ears and had her giggling a little. The seating arrangements were divided amongst Team Xanthic and Team Penny. Winter, May, Aro and Ciel sat on Penny’s side. She smiled brightly at them and May gave a loud cheer. Joanna and Fiona stood at Xanthic’s side, loudy hollering and ignoring the other patrons. Robyn dropped her lien onto the table, next to the boxes and boxes of food and walked to the middle to referee.  
“Alright ladies the rules are simple. Highest points at the end of ten minutes is victorious!” She yelled with a flare that was nearly making Penny Aura overload her power unit. Penny bounced with excitement to burn it off a little. “The current pot is half a 32 thousand lien,” Robyn said. Penny frowned and looked at Winter and May. May was grinning and cheering while Winter just shrugged her shoulders. They came from rich families but throwing so much into a game seemed excessive. “The winning team can decide how its split.”  
“What?!” Neon and Reese yelled from the back. They quickly dashed over on their skates and threw more lien on the table. “You got this cutie!” Neon cheered jumping.  
Robyn covered her mouth trying to hid a grin. Penny giggled as Reese jumped up and down on her hoverboard. “Team Penny! Go! Go!”  
Penny unfurled Floating Array from her back. All fourteen blades pointed down range. Xanthic smirked and dusted off her palms. Hard-light projectors sparked at every contact. The cybernetics glowed brighter and brighter. Was it charging or was it for show?  
“Do Robyn’s crossbow!” Fiona yelled.  
Xanthic sneered and flourished both wrist. The hard-light projectors on her gloves crafted a near exact replica of the arm mounted weapon. Robyn let out an appreciative whistle. Her confident eyes slide over to Penny.  
The metal women was starting to worry as even Robyn smirked at her, “Care for a test shot, Blue?” Robyn asked.  
Xanthic aimed down range then looked at Penny. She winked as the crossbow fired. The on the spot changes were three rails on the crossbow. Three hard-light arrows split off into different directions, three targets. Like how Aro dodged the Spider Droid without looking, Xanthic’s blind fire were all within the lethal zone. Penny frowned, humming in thought. Aro’s assessment about Xanthic’s eyes must be off. Or maybe Xanthic was using more of her neural augments? The most plausible explanation was both semblance and cybernetic enhancements.  
This challenge was definitely harder than anticipated.  
“Participants ready!?” Robyn asked.  
Penny felt her Aura swell and systems hummed. She took a deep breath, taking in as much cold air before blowing out a slightly visible steam.  
“Combat ready!” Penny confirmed.  
“Player two ready,” Xanthic smirked.  
“You got this Penn!” Aro and May yelled.  
“Xan! Xan! Xan!” Joanna and Fiona cheered.  
Robyn let the tension built up a little more before yelling, “Begin!”  
As soon as Penny started firing she realized her firing rate was not high enough. Floating Array needed time to charge while Xanthic shot once and hit three different targets. She took a deep breath and focused on control. She didn’t need a lot of power, didn’t need to charge up the shots so long. It only need to be detected by the scoring system.  
Penny started to stagger her shots as well. One barrel always firing with the others were charging up. The steady stream of fire quickly caught up with the burst Xanthic did. A downside to the gloves was reloading ability. Xanthic had to recreate the entire weapon. Which was why she was only firing with one arm, Penny realized.  
When the first crossbow finally ran out of hard-light arrows, it disappeared. With a flick of her wrist military grade, long barreled pistol was in her hand. Penny could see her cybernetic eyes telescoping and shifting from target to target. Underneath the loud cheering she could hear Xanthic’s augments hum loudly.  
It was a genuine challenge for both shooters but at the end of 10 minutes…  
Xanthic’s rate of fire outpaced Penny by ten points. Team Penny groaned and collapsed to the floor, the students particularly defeated. The idiots that threw in such large amounts of money didn’t seem to upset. Aro was nervously laughing as Ciel chewed her out.  
Team Xanthic was jumping around, particularly Fiona. Xanthic rolled her eyes and fist bumped Robyn and Joanna. Then she turned to Penny and held it out a first, “Good shooting, Swords.” Xanthic said.  
With a smile.  
Penny grinned, fist slamming into Xanthic’s. The women let out a pained, flinching as metal connected Aura-less bone and flesh. “Oh! I’m sorry!”  
“I-I’m fine,” Xanthic mumbled despite the tears in her eyes. It took a few tries with a throbbing, possible broken hand but the alias Silver Wat was once again top on the scoreboard with Penny’s name under it.  
Error: Enemy Unknown
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Suppose a Kid... 1 | Hortensia Saga 1 | Kumo Desu Ga 1 | 2.43 1 | Cells at Work!! 1 - 2 | Cells at Work: Code Black 1 | Back Arrow 1 - 2 | Praeter 1 | Horimiya 1 | Tomozaki 1 - 2 | Wonder Egg Priority 1 | IChu 1 | Kemono Jihen 1 | YuruCamp 2 1 | Dr Stone: Stone Wars 1 | Sk8 1 | Mushoku Tensei 1 | Design-bu 1 | Wave!! 1 | BSD Wan! 1 | Ex-Arm 1
After much watching...I cut it down to 5 anime and 1 short.
Suppose a Kid… 1
I am not writing out that full title every time! Anyways, here’s the first “real” debut of winter 2021.
For some reason…this series reminds me of Pokemon. Probably how at the start, Ash tries to get along with Pikachu by doing all sorts of things like what Lloyd is doing here. (<- learnt protag’s name through synopses)
The name “Shouma” rang a bell and I was right – Shouma is voiced by Souma…Saito.
The Japanese title has “monogatari” on the end there…so it probably doesn’t fully translate into the English title.
These orange flecks in Lloyd’s eyes are kinda distracting…
Isn’t Kunlun in China, though…?
If this is just going to be Marie yelling…I don’t see why I should stay. (<- turned volume on for everything so far)
*facepalms* Lloyd is so dense…
That fight scene’s not very good…
…oh great. Selen’s fallen in love with Lloyd already…*sigh*
The missing princess is certainly going to be a plot point later.
Wow, that tiger looks impressive! If only they could’ve done that for the fight scene…
…oh great, Selen is a low-key yandere…
Didn’t Lloyd say he sucked at combat…? Anyways, I’m not keeping this. The designs are colourful and the tiger was good, but it’s meant to be a comedy and it’s not funny.
Hortensia Saga 1
Here for Ume! He’s voicing a guy called Defloitte Danois.
I-Is that CGI? So early on into the anime???
*a dude gets bitten into by the werewolf*…welp, at least this series isn’t afraid of its own gore.
I had a sinking feeling our real protag was Alfred…and I was right, according to the OP.
Huh? The song goes silent for a second near the end…what the heck?
The book appears to use English, albeit English so faintly inked in you can’t quite tell what language it is.
Alfred, governing Albert…? Isn’t that a bit redundant?
I swear all the female voices in this anime are squeaky as all get out…
All these high fantasy anime – or heck, any high fantasy series full stop – ever justify why the country is worth fighting for. It’s why I find war stories pointless and senseless.
You can tell from the voice and short stature “Marius” is Mariel…but she uses boku, which is why Alfred can’t really tell the difference. (Also, he wasn’t privy to the fact Mariel cut her hair.)
This almost smacks of a game tutorial. The CGI is still there…it’s not as bad as other examples I’ve seen, but you can tell it’s CGI when you look at it.
Roy’s kind of pretty, in a generic way.
A close-range archer! Ho, you’re kinda impressive yourself, Roy. (The feeling of a game tutorial has disappeared by this point.)
Hortense…of Hortensia…how confusing.
The scruffy guy you keep seeing with the dark hair is Defloitte. Keep an eye out for him for me, would you?
The ED seems to consist mostly of…anguished pop screams. *cringes slightly*
Anyways, this anime isn’t bad. It’s quite average though and its CGI could easily get worse.
Kumo Desu ga 1
…you know I don’t like 1st person cam, yeah?
…this is just Kumoko (as I’ve heard her being called) yelling so far…plus there’s quite a bit of CGI.
I like how the ED has an English overlay and the style they’ve used for it. The music, though…? Nah.
Wait a second? Millepensee? Shin Itagaki? That would explain the CGI!
“…a spider that just happens to have my memories.” – A butterfly dream, huh?
…well, at least this anime is well aware of the genre space it inhabits. Maybe you could say…it’s an isekai light novel, so what? *groans from the audience*
…well, you didn’t really “bring” your “brother’s” (?) corpse in case of an emergency, now, did you?
…welp, to have guts, you must eat guts. I guess that’s how it goes.
What’s a “skanda”?
This anime’s quite monologue-y (as expected of an LN). I can live with it, but I don’t know if it can carry the entire thing through the season.
…humans? Haven’t seen them almost all episode. What are they up to?
These designs sort of look like SAO’s. They’re not a dealbreaker yet, but they could be down the line…
This ED seems to take cues from Cop Craft’s OP (same studio). It also has some…“Aggretsuko rage”, I guess you could call it.
2.43 1
…Another confusing title, I see. I normally don’t do sports anime, but I’m here for Ume.
*sees the colour of the volleyball* - Basically anything volleyball has to collaborate with volleyball maker Mikasa, doesn’t it?
This anime seems to like putting characters’ thoughts on the screen for dramatic impact. The CGI is sort of visible, but not a dealbreaker.
I’d thought I’d heard of this OP artist before, but it turns out I haven’t.
This series has a nice sense of force. You see those moments where the ball squishes, or when Yuni presses against the wall without thinking? Those.
LOL, way to burn Yuni, Chika…
These transitions are a bit hard to detect. I think I like Akudama’s more overt ones more.
LOL, Dr Popper (sic).
The serves are nothing special. Haikyuu does the same thing from the episode I saw of it. (You know I don’t like Haikyuu, yeah? Dropped it after 1 episode because everything I heard the fans talking about caused me to connect the dots.)
The way Yuni blushes…it’s more than someone usually would, even if it is out of embarrassment. It may just be the entertainment I consume, but I could swear that’s going somewhere in more of a BL manner.
I get the feeling Chika has a bit of Virgo or Taurus in him somewhere. The sort of guy who nags at everyone to do stuff his way is probably like that.
Pocari Sweat (unaltered).
I gave myself dimples by puffing up my cheeks and poking them until they became permanent. I guess you can do the same thing with ambidexterity…?
For some reason, I can detect Chika’s jealousy when he discusses blocks and natural talent.
…wow, this anime is pretty serious for a volleyball anime.
The ED scene where the face is replaced with flowers is pretty creepy. Like Jigokuraku or something.
Cells at Work!! 1
What are these blob creatures you see in the OP, anyway…?
I think I remember reading something that the numbers assigned to the cells aren’t arbitrary – they’re hexadecimal colors, e.g. RBCs get shades of red as their numbers.
D’aww, Platelets warm the heart. They really do.
Platelets have a master…? I thought they were all just lil’ kids.
“What the cell’s going on?!” – Oh, I remember seeing a tweet about this. I love that pun! Kudos to whoever was responsible for that.
LOL, no. 4989 dancing in the background.
Hmm…those nets look like CGI.
…uh, I did not need that shot of the Megakaryocyte’s camel toe…that’s distubring.
Wait, Backward Cap is a she?!
Aw, lookit WBC being a dad. That’s cute.
Backward Cap = Ushiromae-chan.
Is that…a construction worker holding a giant pudding?!
Cells at Work Code Black 1
This anime is called “black” due to black companies. It’s Code Black to avoid being racist, I guess. I’m looking forward to it because it’s undoubtedly going to show a dark side to the main series…
…and there it is, the RBC complaining.
I assume OJT = on the job training.
I knew “pespin” (sic) was a typo. It’s pepsin.
Now that I’ve been working at customer service for two years (give or take COVID), I can see where the senpai RBC is smoothing over the relations.
…that also means I know where to suppress my emotions. I’m not a person who opens up to people easily without getting used to them, so people never see me as suitable for customer service anyway, but it’s the only experience I have so *shrugs*.
…oh gosh. I haven’t seen these words since…the time I was still learning biology.
…*sigh* Rookie RBC is worried about boobs.
The fact Senpai lost his iconic hat…is kinda sad, actually.
“Don’t let his resolve be for nothing.”
Hmm…does the male WBC from the main series wear black fingerless gloves?
I thought I’d heard of this artist before…but turns out I just can’t distinguish really autotuned artists from each other…(lel)
…and stuff goes ka-blam. It’s the spiritual successor to HypMic, even if I wasn’t asking for it. (LOL)
Back Arrow 1
…I heard you said “hot guys”? (Yes, I am predictable as all get out.)
What’s with that episode title…?
Stereotypes, eh? I kind of expected as much from the promo, but where’s the title character…?
…was that yuri fanservice? I can’t quite tell because it was the aftermath of an action scene, but I can see the shippers gearing up in my head.
…after a bit of waiting, there he is. Back Arrow himself. He kind looks like Takuto (Star Driver).
“I’m not trying to hide anything!” – Well, that’s…true.
…*sigh* Why do girls always have more feminine-looking mechs? (Plus this one has boobs…*sighhhhhhhhhhhh*)
So it seems mechs in this anime are the form of one’s conviction and they have skills along those lines, eh? An interesting concept.
…you do realise I abandoned an entire anime based on a joke about lucky underwear? However, this anime is so absurd and just keeps running with the joke that I just can’t say no to it. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from volunteering at a charity store, it’s that when it comes to selling stuff, you can’t say no to a lot of stuff…including selling potentially used underwear, so long as it’s not dirty or stinky.
Whoa! Those things break?!
Why does the title card mention the wall...?
Anyways, I…like it, surprisingly enough. Let’s keep going.
Back Arrow 2
…eh? Didn’t expect inflatable clothing, LOL.
I suspect Shu Bi is scheming something.
What’s the long thing…?
“…tomorrow might not come.” – A good reminder to have in these times of COVID.
Peath = Peace. (Heh. What a stupid name…*thinks about the name “Quattro Bajeena” suddenly* Okay, “Peath” pales in comparison to that.)
What is that creature that circles in the sky…?
I know this is meant to be a serious fight, but…that attacking guy’s hat seriously looks like a bamboo stalk and so I keep seeing it and trying not to laugh.
I only just now realised there’s CGI. CGI these days is getting much better than it used to be.
Tomozaki 1
LOL, Yontendo. It’s clearly Smash Bros + Nintendo Switch and the character designer was also around for Iroduku, so that’s why this style looks familiar.
…lemme guess, since this is a romance, it’s likely NONAME is Aoi. Or some other girl.
I would pay for a romance where it’s the girl building the guy up to be presentable, instead of a girl building other girls up to be presentable a la Ageha 100%.
Didn’t the anime show us Tomozaki reflecting to himself, though…?
“…rules working in combination.” - Well, there’s social norms (e.g. knock before entering a room), laws, contracts, societal standards (e.g. in Japanese society, you bow to others as a greeting or apology)…(continues to blabber on for a bit)
I think Aoi said something like “onitadaku”, but I’m not sure what the joke is there. Oni is in there, sure, but what’s the original phrase she’s playing off?
…LOL, it’s a good time to remind people to wear a mask.
LOL, Krout.
Anyways, this seems decent. I like how it’s going the way I want it to.
Tomozaki 2
“…make sure I’m nearby…” – Okay, that’s just being pushy, Aoi.
Minami and Hinami…so confusing…
*Minami chomps on Natsubayashi’s ear* - …okay, that’s not a thing girls do in real life unless they’re lesbians. This is likely trying to take the fanservice route.
They didn’t even show why the “kiss” was broken up…meaning they were doing it to make potential girl-on-girl look hot. Just great.
*Aoi touches Tomozaki’s butt* - Dude, that’s groping…
I didn’t think we’d get the story on Aoi’s “hexactly” so soon.
…well, that episode just made me feel mildly bitter. I’m dropping it here.
Praeter 1
…aw s***. Only a few seconds in and this looks like a terrible game…
It’s like someone barfed paint across Durarara…
The only time the background buildings look any good are when there’s a fight scene…
These Seals (or whatever those designs are called) seem to act like mini shields. Update: They’re called tattoos.
That transition was a bit fast for my liking…
Seems like the series is mildly peppered with Greek terms.
“To Infinity and Beyond” by…some author I can’t really read the name of.
Suddenly, they throw in more characters…?
Where does Eiji keep those bullet cases of his…? In his jacket?
Having a guy die in the 1st episode is cheap. I mean, we don’t quite care for him yet – it’s too early in the anime for that.
Now there’s Norse terms on top of the Greek ones…
Even more characters? You kidding me?
Lemme guess, Eiji gave up his tattoo because Yamato inspired him and now he’s a goner.
Welp, the weight of the world is in your hands, Yamato. Including that dead dude on your back. (<- sarcastic)
Sk8 1
I’ve been hearing good things about this anime! Let’s go! (<- about a week late to the debut)
That politician is probably relevant…probably someone’s dad, if HypMic taught me anything.
LOL, a beef. They call this stuff “beef”? Where’s the chicken? (<- joke from HypMic)
Haemanthus…apparently a flowering plant from S. Africa.
That’s rare, you don’t see Canadians in anime all that much. I was just thinking as I came home from volunteering how you know British people all have fancy names like William and Australians are Johnno, Danno etc., but Canadians? No clue. Update: Apparently you’d call one Arnold or something just as generic…?
Why are all foreigners in anime half-Japanese with the mother being the Japanese side, anyway?...Because people can make their character speak Japanese while looking foreign. Right. Moving right along.
Ahh…I understand your plight all too well, Reki.
…Hmm. It seems Reki’s surname is written kiya, but read “Kyan”. His name literally translates to “history (calendar/age) of bravery (military might)” Update: Turns out his surname is 3 characters (read “kiyan”, although I’ve never seen that final character ever being read as “n”) and his first name is one, so his first name is just “history (calendar/age)”.
Even I suck at balancing on bikes and stuff (…yeah, I still can’t ride a bike even though I’ve done so many other things in my life) and I know you have to support yourself with one foot on the ground before you do things like trick flips. I may not have observed Tony Hawk all that much, but he was on the periphery of my knowledge.
“What’s your hourly wage?” – Ouch, I feel ya, Langa.
Koko ni netete actually means “Lie down here”, but…okay.
These eyecatches are cute.
That’s a cute fox.
Yikes! 60 mph = approx. 97 km/h!!!
Random umeboshi, LOL.
Aghhhhhhhhhhh! Cherry Blossom’s so pretty~! I love him already!
Thank you, based Bones!
Something that can be enjoyed, even without sound: this is why I enjoy both action and comedy anime!
Okinawa? We’re in Okinawa?
Well, that was cool! I didn’t even ask where the location was until the end. Update: Why is this anime sometimes called Sk8 the Infinity anyway…?
Horimiya 1
Horimiya…I’ve been aware of this series for a while. There’s even a Chinese volume of it at a library close to me, although due to contact tracing I haven’t bothered to check it out.
Oh, I bet Hori is the otaku!
Ooh, Marketing Script!
Because I’ve been behind on the premieres, I’ve seen enough to know this boy with the chain is Miyamura.
…argh! Miyamura is cute! Y’all were right!!! (<- likes blushing bois)
I bet there’s going to be an emergency meeting!
“Sorry, it’s egg time!” – Oh, I’m laughing so hard! So that’s the context behind the Wonder Egg Priority meme!
“…see these?!” – Well, it’s not like you have a tattoo or some-*Miyamura shows his tattoos* Never mind…
Oh, I just realised they even animate the minute movements of the eyes Miyamura does…cool.
Notice how Miyamura is blocked from the other guy due to the window.
Miyamura goes “Ishikawa-kun” but “Hori-san”…hmm. No wonder he’s letting Ishikawa get Hori.
The problem I find with romance series is that they’re generally tied to heteronormativity. Hori is coded with red silhouettes and Miyamura with blue…*sigh* Whatever happened to gender ambiguity?
Good heavens, what is up with this ED?! It looks like Pocoyo! (…Does anyone else know that cartoon…?) Aside from that quibble, this anime is great though.
Mushoku Tensei 1
Apparently this is the grandad of all isekai. Why it took so long for an anime of this…who knows?
…and of course this guy’s a loser virgin. Go figure.
*sighhhhhhhhh* He’s just ogling this woman’s boobs…
…oh, sorry. I was so distracted by the man candy, I didn’t care about Rudy.
I-It’s actually quite refreshing to not have an OP protagonist from the get-go for once. (Or maybe I’ve developed such a disdain for isekai since SAO rolled around that everything here suddenly feels fresh.)
You can see the birthplace of isekai without having watched any of the others right here, it looks like.
“…what’s the point of incantations?” – To make it easier for you to cast spells, I gue-spoke too soon.
…wow, they shamelessly showed off Rudy’s privates. I know he’s still young at this stage, but that reminds me of how I dropped Dragon Ball around the time Goku was shown the same way (which is…very early on, by my own admission).
I believe, based on the name of the spinoff I see in the 7 Seas emails, the magic tutor is called Roxy.
You’re thinking about marriage?! At your (reincarnated) age?!
Oh no! The tree again!
LOL, Rudy’s acting like a kid who’s been in COVID lockdown for a while.
I think what most of the isekai that spun off from here missed is that the loser is job age. Losers at life at job age are relatable and high school geniuses are relatable (albeit sometimes insufferable), but losers who become NEETs for no reason whatsoever and then get banged up by Truck-kun are not.
Anyways, this was good, but a risky kind of good, since it seems like this male gaze will continue to be around as Rudy gets older.
Update: Dropped after learning Rudy was a paedophile in his past life.
Update 2: Apparently the anime toned down this paedophilic tendency of Rudy’s, so...now the verdict is that I move on while I let other people tell me if this is true of the anime or not.
Kemono Jihen 1
“Kemono Jihen” means something like “creature incidents”. I wonder why Funimation didn’t change the name…?
Kabane means “summer wing”.
Kanoko Villa, I’d assume, is named after the deer (the name means “deer’s child”).
My experience with Sho Aimoto (creator of this manga) is reading a bit of Hokenshitsu no Shinigami. (That, by the way, reminds me of Nube, but it’s nothing spectacular.) However, Hokenshitsu no Shinigami has a very detailed artstyle…That’s why I’m pretty shocked Kemono Jihen has such a scratchy one…
Ooh, edamame!
Oh, I see…this is like Furuba or a werewolf story, huh? Rather than a Natsume Yuujincho sort of thing.
…I thought Inugami and Dorotabo had seen everything of each other because of bathing together…I guess not, then.
…is Yataro going to die?
It seems the “immortal demons” are oni, so…why subtitle them as “immortal demons” and not just “demons”?
Ohhhhhhhh…this shite’s good. It seems to have a throwback feeling to it, moreso than even Yashahime or a lot of the sequels I’ve seen recently.
Cells at Work!! 2
I was going to move right along to Wonder Egg Priority because I’m really behind on the debuts right now, but I accidentally opened this up while I was cleaning up so I might as well watch another episode or two before setting it aside.
He’s dead, Jim. (<-joking)
…gosh, these walls look like Hover all over again and that’s from 1995…
LOL, these background cells don’t even have any details. They’re basically stick figures with fat bodies…
I think that phrase that appeared, “Take good care of B Cell!”, may be a pun on Give My Regards to Black Jack (written with similar Japanese, “B Cell wo Yoroshiku!” vs. “Black Jack ni Yoroshiku!”).
LOL, “you sure have the guts”…while they’re in the guts.
The certificate says something about it being presented to someone in the face of bravery, I think (<- just looked at it briefly).
“You have a good head on your shoulders,” says the T cell as WBC struggles with the disguise…stuck on his head.
Wonder Egg Priority 1
I’ve been hearing this series is surreal, but no more surreal than Flip Flappers. So…I don’t know if I’ll like it or not.
What’s this K?(?96…?
There’s a sunflower on her raincoat…so that’s why I saw a post called “You’re the sunflower”. Personally, that just reminds me of Post Malone.
Those Seeno Evils…they’re CGI, aren’t they?
As Boueibu once said (but I may be paraphrasing here), “nothing is more scary than free”.
…to be honest with you, I haven’t had a best friend for at least 2 years now. I only really feel close to people who are like me and who I have sustained contact with over many years, so I end up cutting contact with people after we part ways and never trying to fix it.
I always find it slightly absurd when anime girls get a little pudgy and go, “I’m so fat!” (See, for instance, the Dumbbell series.) Or, in this case, Ai’s going, “I’m so ugly!” when there’s nothing wrong with her. She’s only a bit different from everyone else due to her heterochromia - she doesn't have any physical or mental difficulties.
IChu 1
Here for Ume and, of course, dem bois. Bring it!
I seem to remember one of the magazines called an “Ichu” “an idol egg” (i.e. a fledgling idol)…More egg puns for me, then.
I found him! Ume! He’s Akira Mitsurugi! Update: Turns out that’s Toshiyuki Toyonaga…Oops. (Ume is actually Lucas from I*B.)
Huh? For a second, I imagined Akira with a dubbed voice. Of course, I could only be dreaming, because idol anime normally don’t get dubs, but…it was interesting to think about.
LOL, “Onsta”.
This Akio-type character is popular lately. The sort who’s timid but has an outstanding talent they themselves might not see.
…uh, but Kocho means “Principal”…?
An idol bear?!
Torahiko is crazy…(Note the tigers. Tora = tiger.)
Specifically, that’s black coffee with no sugar.
As much as I want to keep watching this, I’ll hit pause on it here. There’s much better offerings this season.
YuruCamp s2 1
…grandpa’s writing is so…neat.
*glares at CGI car…*
This OP just doesn’t compare to Shiny Days, y’know…?
Talking pine cones! They’re back!
Curry rice! Literally had some of the Japanese-style stuff the other day. It was great.
All this talk about jobs…I personally don’t like jobs because I like to work at my own pace (hence one reason why I’m working on being a translator), but…money…I’m jealous, girls.
I’m trying not to rely on the subs for those texts that appear on the screen so that I can keep my reading skills up…I kept up with them for the most part…but then I got distracted by the croquette sign at one point…
“…buy you some local food?” – That’s omiyage, normally translated “souvenirs”. “Local food” actually does make more sense in that gap, though.
…man, I’m jealous that the girls all got jobs suitable for their personalities and everything. Lil’ ol’ antisocial me sucks at retail, even after 2 years.
Design-bu 1
LOL, that man and his bunny. Update: That’s Unabara-san.
…geez, these utaite are everywhere now. I’ve seen 96neko, USSS, Eve and more being more central to anime song creation…
Thise characters in the OP seal (<-the stamp, not the animal) are saiyou, meaning “recruited”, or in this case, “accepted”.
OEM = original equipment manufacturer.
Hrm…you can tell it’s a giraffe by description, but…that “base everything on the horse” is interesting as you could count several things as horse derivatives. Also, the angels’ names are all standard Japanese names with natural components to them (Ueda = upright rice field, Shimoda = frost rice field etc).
Is this pink-themed guy…a guy? Or a crossdresser? Update: That’s Kanamori-san.
I like how the suits have little wing-like flaps. Also the wings on Shimoda’s back.
…I never thought an anime episode would make me so concerned about giraffes.
That guy in the green I remember from the Wave x Tendebu (Heaven’s Design Team) collab, his name is Kimura.
Oh, so there is a bird like that!
The random wiggling the chibis do in these short segments…it’s a bit disorienting. (<-Just a small quibble of mine.)
Oh! Galapagos effect!
Agonistic: “polemical; combative.” I thought they meant “antagonistic”.
Oh man, that punch line was great! It took me a while to get into the spirit of it, but this anime is great!
Update: Oh, that’s where those nature names come from! They’re actually meant to be gods! (Or…named after gods…?) Also, Ueda vs. Shimoda (the “shimo” could be the kanji for “below”).
Ex-Arm 1
I’ve heard this anime looks bad…even well before its debut. How bad? Let’s find out.
*stifles laughter* From the first pan, I know this anime is doomed on my list. Even Praeter was better than this!
*stifles laughter again* This OP really does look as bad as the stuff I was seeing prior to winter 2021! Like a game I shouldn’t take out of my archives! (It’s not as bad as Hover’s graphics, but still…that’s from 1995. Cut it some slack.)
That’s the 2nd Kimura this season…
Yugg is just…ugly. Never try to render elaborate eyelashes in CGI again, people.
Dimension High School was better than this because at least that had puzzles. This is even jankier than that!
Wait, why is Akira 3D when his dad is 2D? It’s not that obvious, but I notice these things. Update: That’s not his dad…but close enough. (That’s his brother.)
…and here comes Truck-kun! (LOL)
This would be good…if it weren’t rendered in the jankiest CGI known to man…
Alma’s gun strike doesn’t have a lot of force to it.
The fire is rendered so terribly…*stifles laughter*
This part with a disembodied Akira is what I assume I got up at 6 am for…but I can’t hear it, due to background noise. Remind me to confirm this later. (Minami’s mouth is rendered so terribly…augh.)
No force to any of these recent motions, either.
LOL, this censorship.
Wave 1
Ever since this project was announced, I’ve been watching developments unfold on Anime News Network. I knew it would get an anime or something similar I could follow…and now here I am. I mentioned in the Sk8 comments I have basically zero knowledge of surfing, so…this is very unexpected, in one sense.
Was that a drone…?
“Wizard of the Waifu Board”?! Are you kidding me?! (LOL)
There seem to be shots where I can see the CGI here, but…anything’s better than Ex-Arm. Let’s say that.
Actually…yappe is a derivative of yabai, meaning “cool” or “crap” (in an ironic sense). So it would probably be better to translate it as “Surfing’s the greatest!” or “Surfing’s the coolest!” Anyways, what I was thinking before I was going to say this was that the waves are so enticingly animated, it feels like a summer anime. Basically the only other anime I’ve ever said that for is Grand Blue.
If I’m understanding where Isokichi’s name comes from right, “iso” is the character for seashore or a rocky beach (磯).
LOL, the teacher just wrote “Show must go on.”
Hayama, Kanagawa. Kanagawa’s capital is Yokohama, so it’s not quite Tokyo, but somewhat close.
“Murphy”? I have zero clue what that means.
Oh, I see. The title is translated that way due to context. Now that I can accept.
I just burst out into laughter when I realised Nalu hasn’t dropped or put down his ukulele once.
BSD Wan! 1
Here comes my past to haunt me…aside from me being a fan of BSD, I’m here because I influenced this series. How so? Once upon a time in the now-distant year of 2016, I was a scanlator for a brief period. Most of the work I’ve done hasn’t influenced the world at large, but this is the most influential manga I had a hand in working on.
Oh no! They’re starting with the dog AU?! (That comes from pretty far into the manga, IIRC. Further than my work was on it, at least.)
It’s Rashomon, but Rashoken (that last bit means “dog”). Hence Ruffshomon.
Basically, they just insert dog-related words everywhere…don’t make me explain every one!
Ouch, I can only imagine how much pain it was to translate Inu Shikkaku. Literally, it’s “No Longer a Dog”, but how would anyone make it in line with the other puns…?
I wasn’t fully aware of how the dog AU was connected to the main Wan series because I haven’t really looked at it after I quit due to aggregators, but…that was a nice fakeout. Also, I was concerned as to whether this was going to be a full-length ep or a short…seems like it’s a 10 minute short, so I have more chances of taking it.
…oh gosh, that pose! I remember it! I worked on this one! (Now that I know it’s a TV short, I won’t cover future episodes, but I want to at least finish this one because I started it.)
I think they added a bit there. I remember Kunikida’s and Yosano’s were in the manga, but not the other members or Fukuzawa going “the wind is smiling” + Kenji working on the roof at the start.
Oh yeahhhhhhhhhhhhh, I remember Rampo. I think I had to approximate how he would say stuff with Pocky in his mouth, but Slug (current scanlator) went the extra mile and stuck food in his mouth to do the same panel.
It seems to make a short ep., they strung a bunch of the chapters together. Also, I don’t think we ever found out what Yosano’s puddle was and that was…probably for the better.
Oh yeah…I think I remember this one.
Now I remember it! I remember having fun explaining what a youkan was.
Whoa, Higuchi scrapped the SFX! That wasn’t in the original…
The ED seems to be an Atsushi cover of Namae wo Yobu yo.
Oh noooooooooooo! The flower gazing episode! That’s the one I remember most, because I was trying to figure out how to translate 移動 while making it smooth-sounding English…(I remember the final result was something like, “Move! Move~!”
Dr Stone: Stone Wars 1
Final debut! Let’s go~!
The last time this series was on the air was about 1 year ago. I can remember that far back…
I like how that recap is framed as Gen talking to the kids.
Senku overcomes every problem with science.
…not much to comment on here.
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