Tumpik
#some else please dissect the details of this because I put a lot of time into them but I’m too lazy to explain
meowthefluffy · 12 days
Text
Tumblr media Tumblr media Tumblr media Tumblr media Tumblr media Tumblr media
Something something do you love the color of the sky
(based on this post) @zzoupz @writing-is-a-martial-art
4K notes · View notes
threewaysdivided · 3 months
Note
do you have any favorite dp or young justice fics you would recommend to your readership? or even fics outside of those two fandoms.
thank you! deathly weapons is one of my favorite things to read- and i especially love reading your meta on the subject- so anything you’ve read that you think is great/ has an interesting premise would be cool to see.
(Young Justice: Deathly Weapons)
💜🤍🖤 Thank you as well! 
I’m always astounded and delighted when people tell me they're rereading Deathly Weapons or anything else I wrote.  To me, one of the elements of a good story is it being something that you can return to, and it’s lovely to hear that I’m doing something right on that front. 
(Also I’m just so humbled that you would give my story your time like that.  I put a fair bit of my own time into Deathly Weapons, but that’s still a little piece of your life in return and it’s just… amazing.)
For me writing and meta are things that kind of ouroboros together.  I tend to engage with stories in a very inquisitive/ interrogative way - I want to understand the characters/ events/ world it’s trying to create as well as the mechanics behind the curtain - and I have a special place in my heart for stories that were constructed with enough thought to reward that kind of curiosity.  Which then reflects in my own writing and the behind-the-scenes planning work I do to make sure things hold up to inspection by other puzzlers.
3WD's Meta Collection
Danny Phantom Maddie & Jack | Vlad | Tucker | The trouble with Sam (+ follow ups) The Asexual Appeal | Reboot Thoughts | Ageswap AU
Young Justice Season 1 (and also DW) Let’s Analyse the Light | A Different Take on Martian Bigotry
Actually Critical YJ Analyses Masterpost | Invasion: a Detailed Dissection | Antithetical to Heroism (Bonus Rhyme)
And now…
Fanfic Recommendations
This one is actually a bit of a challenge for me because I consume media (and analysis) quite widely across a lot of fandoms.  I tend to draw eclectic inspiration from my whole ‘source-pool’ and its meta-patterns, so it’s hard for me to point to any one thing and say: ‘that specifically inspired part of DW’.
It’s also a little tricky because Deathly Weapons was partly inspired by me having some specific itches that I couldn’t find any stories to scratch. “People won't write the books I want, so I have to do it for myself” and so on and so forth. If you would like to make any recs based on DW then please do so, I would love to see them.
That said, my FFN Favourites and AO3 Bookmarks double as general recs lists - I tend to use my bookmarks/faves as quick-access for stories I want to revisit, so you can take anything on there as something I would potentially recommend to other people.
What I’d like to do now is give a more specific list of stories that are somewhat DW-adjacent or are doing interesting things with their premise/execution/characterisation:
Danny Phantom
Alibi (FFN) by MyAibou Gen | Complete | Post series (no PP) He was Dash Baxter. Football star. King of Casper High. The world was supposed to have been his oyster for at least another decade. So how did he end up in the basement lab of FentonWorks working for the dad of the kid he used to beat up in high school? And how far would he stick his neck out to protect that kid and whatever secret he was hiding from the government?
A Ghost Story (FFN) by Cordria Gen | Complete | Slowburn mystery AU Maddie finds a strange toy airplane in a field, and it leads her to learning some very interesting things about her family.
You know how I said I can’t usually point to something as direct inspiration for DW?  This is one of the exceptions: Maddie’s realisation very much inspired Robin’s similar one in CH12: Answers.
What Little Girls are Made Of (AO3) by Haiju Gen | Complete | Dani-centric reveal fic Phantom and his younger double save Amity Park from a monstrous ghost, nearly destroying themselves in the process. The Fentons have always hunted ghosts; now it's time to save one.
Young Justice
Before we begin, I would like to share this AO3 filter I use for YJ fics published pre-2019.  It won’t pick up any still-updating fics or older fics that might have migrated to AO3 since, but if you want to revisit what the fandom felt like before the Fire Nation attacked then this will come pretty close.
Age of Heroes (AO3) by VelkynKarma Gen | Complete | Zombie Apocalypse AU The apocalypse has come and gone and the Age of Heroes is long since over. There’s not much left to live for, but Wally’s never been one to give up without trying, and maybe there are still a few miracles—and heroes—left in the world.
The Fedora Verse  (AO3) by itsxandy Gen | Series | Complete | Villain!Wally Elseworld Wally West is the newest, fastest thief in Central City. His biggest offense so far? Making crime look this good.
No One Said Flying Was Easy (AO3) by Wrtrmd2 Gen | Complete | Robin origin story Eight year old Richard Grayson has just watched his parents fall to their deaths. Hurting and alone, he struggles to adjust to the new life he's thrown into. Bruce Wayne takes him in, but seems to have no idea what he's doing. Can they help each other put the pieces of their broken lives back together?
Morals (FFN) by WonderWalrus Spitfire | Complete | CW: graphic depictions of violence When a mission takes a turn for the worse, Wally is captured by Shadows and held captive in a secret base. Alone and afraid, he finds himself talking to the only person who will listen: the blonde archer guarding him who refuses to give her name.
Coming of Rage (AO3) by BlackFriar Gen | Complete | CW: graphic depictions of violence Batman is infected with rage, leading Robin and Kid Flash on a mad dash through Gotham to find the cure before Batman destroys either himself…or someone he cares about.
Danny Phantom x Young Justice (or Teen Titans)
Turning Tables (FFN) by Blackwolfhunting TT x DP | Gen | Complete | Post TUE AU | CW: experimentation When the Teen Titans face a new apprentice from Slade, what are they to do especially when this one can turn Invisible and hide from their sights. Though they receive surprising help that just might help reveal the mystery around this new apprentice and why exactly he hates one Vlad Masters' guts.
Shoutout to this as the first proper fanfiction I ever read and the one that started me on the path into fandom.  If you’re wondering where ThreeWaysDivided began, you can look here.  (I ask that you not hold it against them: they knew not what would happen and no doubt meant well).
Unfair Justice (FFN) by Daruku Janubu  DP x YJ | Gen | Discontinued |CW: Post-dissection fic Within the cargo box of a missing truck, the team found something that would redefine their view on justice. For sometimes, believing you are doing what is right makes innocent people suffer; and sometimes, saving people's lives is not enough to make you their hero.
Not the first YJ x DP fic I ever read but this is the first one I remember really sticking with me.  Warning for heavy content but lovely style.  Also, coincidentally, by the artist who drew the cover which first enticed me into checking out Turning Tables.  Because life, like fic, is sometimes very well written.
The Heart of a Hero (FFN) by Rookey DP x YJ | Gen | Hiatus/ Discontinued | Post TUE AU With the whole world blaming him for an accident that killed thousands, Danny Fenton finds himself living day-to-day in a rather peaceful city he thought to be widely overlooked by the Justice League. But the heart of a hero knows no bounds, and Danny finds staying hidden to be much harder than he anticipated; especially when Happy Harbor isn't nearly as "overlooked" as he thought.
Control (FFN) by nikodark  DP x YJ | Gen | Abandoned | CW: kidnapping & violence Dick Grayson gets kidnapped a lot. A whole lot. We all know that tired trope. But this time he gets kidnapped by a ghost.
The Half-Finished, Half-Assed Guide to Being Half-Dead: By a Half-Ghost (AO3) by ItsyBitsyBatsySpider DP x YJ | Gen | Ongoing Dick Grayson is thrown into a world he didn't even know existed, with powers that he can barely understand, and Danny Fenton did not expect to become a ghost mentor when the Justice League came knocking on his door.
Red Eyes (FFN) by art-is-a-bang-yeah  DP x YJ | Gen | Complete | Post TUE AU | CW: abuse During a benefit Bruce and his charge meet Vlad masters and his son Daniel, a boy with blood red eyes. When Bruce notices a few things seem off about the teen, he decides he should investigate and what he discovers is much darker than he thought possible.
Ghost of A Chance (AO3) by MirrorandImage TT x DP | Gen | Complete | CW: PTSD & former abuse At a financial gala, Robin finds a curious girl who only has one thing to say: "Tell Danny I'm alive."
Other fandoms and crossovers
E.Nigma Investigations (AO3) by Gh0stWriter, zorasublime (Dr_Skeletons) Batman Elseworld | Gen | Series | Quasi-1940s Noir Mystery Recently-reformed and even more recently-released from Arkham Asylum, Edward Nigma is struggling to find work as a Private Eye. A changed Gotham greets him; marred by the scars of a harrowing catastrophe that put real fear into the public and shifted the dynamic of the Rogues. Cobblepot is on the rise and, with the Joker leaving burned bridges in his wake, the city's underworld is more dangerous for Harley Quinn than she wants to believe. Police, doctors and former friends on all sides, suspiciously-specific fires breaking out in the slums and Whispers of something more horrifying on the horizon. What a time to try to go straight.
What the Cat Dragged In (AO3) by Kryal Miraculous Ladybug x Early MCU | Gen | Complete Tony's pretty sure it's written into cosmic law somewhere: superheroes are not supposed be cute. Apparently, no one's told these two. He’s okay with that.
They're Us (FFN) by Goldenbrook15  Young Justice x Justice League Unlimited | Gen | Abandoned When Young Justice’s Team land themselves in another dimension by accident and then manage to escape the entire Justice League (who strangely don't know them at all) and flee into the world outside, Batman can only come to one conclusion, "They're us, from a different world."
Happytown (AO3) by TMBrown Zootopia | Gen | Complete | Buddy-cop investigation A special assignment leads Judy and Nick into a tangled web of history in Nick's childhood home, while Judy deals with the consequences of her fame back in Bunnyburrow.
Good Neighbors (AO3) by PitViperOfDoom My Hero Academia | Gen | Series | Complete | Leverage AU Sometimes you miss your calling, but that doesn't mean you won't find it again in an unexpected place.
the family brooklyn (AO3) by tactfulGnostalgic Spider-man: Into the Spiderverse | Gen | Series | Complete A series of fics set in the Spiderverse, about home and its variations.
Developmental Milestones (AO3) by audreycritter Batman (comics) | Gen | Complete | OC Centric Dr. Kiran Devabhaktuni is a neurosurgeon. He's the neurosurgeon that cut a tumor out of Bruce Wayne's skull. At first, Dev was just coming around for tea with Alfred. But somehow he's now working as the doctor for the Wayne Family. And the Wayne family? Also the Batman Family.
I don’t usually recommend OC-centric fics but Dev is one of the best support characters I have ever encountered.  10/10 very good Batdoctor.
Demonology and the Tri-Phasic Model of Trauma: An Integrative Approach (AO3) by Nnm Good Omens (TV) | Gen | Complete As soon as Aubrey Thyme, psychotherapist, had opened her office door and seen her new client, Anthony J. Crowley, sitting in her waiting area, she was observing and assessing him. At first glance, she paid attention to the following: --His clothing was expensive and stylish; --He wore very strange but noticeable cologne; --His relationship to the seat he occupied could only, very loosely, be described as “sitting;” --He looked angry; --He was wearing sunglasses. What Aubrey Thyme, a professional, thought, upon first seeing her new client was: you’re going to be a fun one, aren’t you?
Other media recs
Going to finish off with a little tangent (as is my wont).  Sometimes I get the sense that Deathly Weapons is built a little different from the average crossover fic, and I think part of it is that I draw a fair bit of inspiration and stylistic influence from traditionally published media across a bunch of genres.  Here are a few of those:
Works that directly influenced Deathly Weapons
The Millennium Trilogy Book Series | Mystery/ Modern Noir | Trilogy | Complete | CW: MA15+ Millennium publisher Mikael Blomkvist has made his reputation exposing corrupt establishment figures.  Enigmatic delinquent security specialist Lisbeth Salander is a genius computer hacker who tolerates no restrictions placed on her by individuals, society or the law. They were men who hated women, and she was the woman who hates men who hate women.
This is one of my favourite mystery/ crime series and provided a fair amount of inspiration for DW in terms of structural, tonal and stylistic elements (especially in chapters like the Prologue and Phenomenon).  People familiar with this series might recognise some direct stylistic homages in future chapters. Trigger warning:  This series deals heavily in subjects of bigotry (especially misogyny), abuse (personal, sexual and institutional) and violence against women, and includes explicit depictions and discussions.  MA15+, reader discretion is advised.
The Kingkiller Chronicles Book Series | Fantasy | Trilogy | Incomplete (2/3 Published) I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep. My name is Kvothe. You may have heard of me
One of my favourite fantasy series, and a big inspiration in terms of prose and style as well as some character dynamics.  Fans may recognise direct homages in some of DW’s chapter titles, such as Roads to Safe Places and Ill-Lit Ships.
The Book Thief Book | Historical Fiction | CW: War, Nazism/ Antisemitism, Death It’s just a small story really, about, among other things: a girl; some words; an accordionist; some fanatical Germans; a Jewish fist-fighter; and quite a lot of thievery. I saw the book thief three times.
This book has my all-time favourite prose in terms of lyricism and imagery, as well as its ability to speak to loss and find beauty in the human condition even under horrific circumstances.  I sometimes re-read it as part of preparation for writing emotionally heavy chapters like Roads to Safe Places, and fans might recognise some direct stylistic homages.
Avatar: The Last Airbender TV Series (Animated) | Fantasy/ Martial Arts In a war-torn world of elemental magic, a young boy reawakens to undertake a dangerous mystic quest to fulfill his destiny as the Avatar, and bring peace to the world.
What can I say about A:TLA that hasn’t already been said by a million other writers and story analysts?  I certainly took some structural and emotional cues from this show and the discussions around it when planning DW’s overarching story.
Other ones you might like
I’m going to bundle Psychonauts 2, Leverage and Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse together as I have discussed them at length in another recommendation post but if you enjoyed any of the story flavours in Young Justice Season 1 then these will probably scratch some similar itches.
If you like young adult spy stories that are played more for tension/ intrigue than fantasy then you may enjoy the Alex Rider book series.  I reread the first book, Stormbreaker, while working on the last third of the Black Gold mission.
The Bartimaeus Sequence is a very entertaining series of YA Urban Fantasy political intrigues featuring magic and demons, narrated mostly by a djinn who has some pointed comments to make about humanity.   Those who like their Urban Fantasy with intrigue/ crime elements, villain protagonists and/or banter may also like the Artemis Fowl series (YMMV on the last 2 books, which were written later and somewhat divisive for their shift in style and focus).
Speaking of morally ambiguous intrigue-heavy Urban Fantasy, the Death Note manga is a fun cat-and-mouse murder-thriller between two ruthless strategists.
Fullmetal Alchemist is another deservedly well-renowned modern fantasy manga with mystery/ political intrigue elements, which has some broad-strokes overlaps with A:TLA in terms of structure, tone and general thesis on humanity.
Spiritfarer is a cozy indie management game about dying.  This might seem like a bit of a dark horse offering but a major component of DW Arc II’s planned main character thread is about the journey through (and specificity of) grief.  If that is something you enjoy then Spiritfarer is a concentrated dose of that in an exceptionally executed, insightful, gentle and touching form, with a gorgeous soundtrack.
Another dark horse offering coming in to land (heh) is Air Crash Investigations (also known as Mayday: Air Disaster), a documentary series about aviation forensics.  As discussed here, it’s a very good example of fair-mystery style investigative storytelling grounded in human tragedy - especially from Season 11 onwards.  Fair warning: if you have issues with planes or flying then you may want to tread carefully here.
And with that I think we’ll stop for now.  Hope you find something you like in the list.  Please feel free to add on any recs of your own!
24 notes · View notes
keanureevesisbae · 2 years
Text
But professor… - c.2
Tumblr media
Summary: Penny continues to have some questions about the assignment, but thankfully professor Marshall is right there to help her out
Professor!Walter Marshall x Penny Townsend (Asian ofc)
Wordcount: 2.3k
Warnings: Mentions of murder and blood
Masterlist // But professor… masterlist // Previous chapter // Next Chapter
My second criminology class, I was feeling a bit under the weather, but like the real die hard that I am, confusing to give in and rest (which would’ve be the better idea), I continued to go to class. I hid part of my face behind my scarf, while I would take a sip of my tea every now and then. I barely absorbed anything that class and professor Marshall must’ve noticed, because he didn’t call for me the entire class.
Thankfully.
But now I feel better and am going to make up for my lack of attention last class. While the the class can be pretty gore, it has become my favorite class, partially because I really like professor Marshall.
No wait, solely because I like professor Marshall.
I don’t want to admit it, but I kinda went out of my way to look presentable for class. I spend my entire life being invisible, unnoticed, but that’s not the case in this class. It’s nice to be acknowledged (I could do without Fitzgerald, who continues to creepily stare from a distance). I put on some lipstick, that matches my blush pink sweater.
Professor Marshall looks up from his notes when I walk in the lecture hall, one corner of his mouth curled up a bit. ‘Morning,’ he says, his tone low and brass.
‘Good morning,’ I say softly, walking towards my assigned seat. Since last class happened in a blur, I am going to pay extra attention to this one.
It is hard though, to focus. We have to understand the crime scene, trying to dissect what happened exactly. However, all the blood, fake or not, makes me want to vomit. I swallow hard and thankfully professor Marshall is skipping over me.
Until…
‘Miss Townsend,’ the professor says, ‘overlap between the victims. I want at four points.’
Four points? Is he for real? That’s a lot. I hate that I made a sort of good point the first class. I have to live up to that expectation now.
Think, Penny, think. ‘All victims are fathers,’ I start, ‘white collar workers and have a brunette wife.’ I try to remember what he told us about and what I read prior to this class. ‘They had affairs with someone they worked with, someone who worked a job that paid less than theirs.’
‘And what does that tell you?’
‘The killer has a type,’ I say, but from the looks of it, he wants more. ‘The victims are carefully picked out, maybe because… These men remind the killer of someone?’
He nods. ‘Exactly.’
I let out a deep relieved sigh, knowing that there is a possibility that he won’t pick me again. I see Fitzgerald looking over his shoulder, to basically gawk at me. He is going out of his way to say intelligent stuff during classes, but everything that leaves his lips is… Bullshit.
After the class ended, I stay for a bit, because of course I have another question. I might not be entirely stupid, but academically gifted is not applicable to me. ‘Professor Marshall,’ I say, as I walk towards him.
‘Miss Townsend,’ he says, ‘you did well today in class.’
‘Oh.’ Stupid me, blushing again. ‘Thank you. I have another question about the assignment.’
‘Why?’
Did he seriously just asked me why? I start to stammer a bit, taken aback from his retort.  How am I supposed to answer that? Maybe just stick with the truth? ‘Because I don’t understand.’
‘What don’t you understand?’
‘The case I chose,’ I say.
‘You have time at four?’ he asks. ‘To meet me in my office? I can help you out.’
I nod with a smile. I am going to his office! ‘Yes, thank you, sir.’
‘Where are your glasses?’ he asks, placing the presenter on the table.
He noticed that I wasn’t wearing my glasses today? Is it because I look stupid without them? ‘In my bag,’ I answer. ‘I sometimes switch between lenses and glasses. Why?’
Professor Marshall shrugs. ‘Just wondering. See you at four. Sharp.’
✎ ✎ ✎
I knock on professor Marshall’s office door at four sharp (I mean, he felt the need to emphasis it, so I should be on time, right?) and he says: ‘Come in.’ I open the door, to see him sitting behind his desk.
‘Is that… a chair?’ I ask, pointing to the pretty comfortable looking chair on the my side of the desk.
Professor Marshall nods. ‘I didn’t want you to stand,’ he says. ‘Don’t get used to it though. I plan on removing this thing as soon as you leave.’ He smirks. ‘It gives me the creeps. I usually don’t like people hanging around  in my office. Whether that is at NYU or the MPD.’
I take a seat and blink my eyes a few times. Gosh, I don’t think I have ever wore my lenses this long and they start to hurt a bit. Just keep them in for a few more moments. Be subtle. ‘My question is about the literature.’
Professor Marshall tilts his head. ‘Are you okay, miss— Penny?’
Apparently I’m not at all subtle. ‘Just my lenses, that’s it.’
‘You can take them out. Please, go ahead.’
Thankfully I brought my stuff with me and I grab my bag, searching for my glasses and lenses case. ‘The literature that is required for the assignment… There isn’t a list provided by you and I have a hard time finding some.’ I remove one of my lenses and continue to take out the other. Gosh, the relief. I put the glasses on and place both cases in the backpack.
‘I can email you a list of literature you can use,’ he says. ‘Why is it giving you difficulties?’
I shrug. ‘I don’t know, professor.’
‘Walter,’ he says.
Huh? ‘Excuse me, what?’
‘It’s after school,’ he continues, ‘so you can quit with calling me professor and start calling me Walter, okay?’
Walter. Seems so personal, so intimate. Not complaining at all, if I’m being honest. I nod. ‘Okay, I’ll try.’
‘Why did you choose psychology, Penny?’ he asks.
That’s a deep question. It’s almost like a first date (if I have to believe the movies, because yours truly never went on a date in her life). Why does he even care? ‘My parents thought it was important I went to university. They wanted me to become a doctor or lawyer, but I’m not that intellectually gifted. Besides, psychology might give me more of an idea of who I am or what I am. I traveled after high school, hoping to figure out who I am, but so far, no luck.’
Professor Marshall nods. ‘And you think criminology is gonna help you with that?’
I chuckle. ‘No, it’s not. Originally, I wanted to go for the child psychology course, to see if I could understand myself better through that, but I missed the enrolling date. It was either criminology or animal behavior.’
‘Animal behavior? That’s a course?’
‘Mhm.’
He nods. ‘Well, you’re really good in criminology,’ he says. ‘We could’ve used you in the force.’
I run my fingers through my hair and smile nervously. ‘No, I don’t think so.’
‘You noticed the droopy eyelid. Took detectives long enough before they realized that.’
‘Lucky guess.’
Professor Marshall leans back in his seat. ‘You’ve got to stop undermining yourself,’ he notes. ‘You are sharp, notice the details. You have a lot of potential, in this field or any other. I think you just don’t know it yet.’
My cheeks heat up. Is he saying what I think he is saying? ‘Really?’
He nods. ‘Really,’ he confirms. The professor keeps looking at me, but weirdly enough I don’t feel uncomfortable. ‘Tell me something what you want to find out about yourself.’
I clear my throat. ‘I don’t know yet.’
‘Tell me something about yourself then,’ he says. ‘Something that’s a foundation for who you are.’
I bite my lip and try to think of something. What is a foundation of who I am? ‘Well,’ I say, after contemplating for a moment or two, ‘I was adopted after I was left at a Catholic church doorstep when I was few hours old. I was brought to a hospital, where they found out I was a premature baby with heroin in my blood. They never discovered who my parents were.’
‘Oh, Penny,’ he says. ‘I’m so sorry.’
He is sorry for me? I bite my lip, before I say: ‘My adoptive parents are sweet, they really are, but I’m scared sometimes.’
‘Why?’
‘Well, because if I’m that unloveable at a few hours old, I bet I’ll become that later on, you know? Especially when they will find out that I might not even work in this field, because it’s not where my heart is.’
He places his underarms on his desk, folding his hands together. ‘You’re not unloveable,’ he says in a soft tone, ‘you could never be.’
I smile. ‘We’ll just have to see about that.’
The professor squints his eyes for a few seconds, almost as if he is trying to figure me out without asking anymore questions. ‘Tell me, what field has your heart?’
‘Cosmetology school,’ I say. ‘I know, a huge downgrade from this, but… I love stuff like that.’
He is smiling at me. ‘It’s not a downgrade,’ he says, his town a bit lower than before. ‘I bet you would be great at it.’
I clear my throat, a bit taken aback by the impromptu therapy session. ‘Thank you, Walter, for answering my questions. I feel like I’m bombarding you with questions to a point where it gets annoying.’
He shakes his head. ‘Don’t you worry about it, you could never annoy me.’ He grabs a piece of paper and writes something down on it, as I stand up. ‘Here.’
‘What’s that?’
‘My number. If you have another question or anything else, you can always text or call me.’
✎ ✎ ✎
Of course I have another question. Is it inappropriate to ask this much time and attention of your professor? I almost think it is, but I really want to understand the assignment and my other teachers aren’t as nice as Walter.
While I wish I wasn’t doing this entire major, I do want to prove myself, especially in my criminology class. I don’t want to let him down.
Oh my, have I taken an interest in my professor? That would be improper behavior, right? Isn’t this totally illegal?
Well, my feelings aren’t and he does not feel the same way, so nothing will happen anyway. No need to think about the illegality of the situation when it’ll never get that far.
I grab my phone nonetheless and the piece of paper and add him to my contacts as Walter. I check his profile picture. It’s a slightly blurry photo of Walter sitting in a police car, but even through the blurry pixels, I can still recognize him. The same type of sweater. The messy curls, the beard and the deep frown between his thick brows.
Me: Professor Marshall, can I ask you something?
Me: This is Penny btw
Walter: What did I tell you, Penny?
Me: Oh, I’m sorry
Me: Walter
Walter: Atta girl
My eyes widen as I read his text, while my heart skips a few beats. ‘Oh,’ I whisper to myself. This is making me slightly giddy. What is happening here?
Walter: What’s your question?
Me: I’m still having troubles with the literature
Me: You know what? I’m sorry, I am totally asking to much of your time and I shouldn’t do that.
Me: Forget it, I’m sorry
Walter: No, no, no, Penny, it’s alright.
Walter: I gave you my number, remember?
Me: Right…
Walter: The literature is your only question?
Me: Yes
Me: It’s just a lot and I don’t know which piece of literature is applicable to my case
Walter: You had case four, right?
Me: Yes
Walter: I’ll send you a list of the literature you can use
Me: You sure it’s not too much?
Walter: I’m sure
✎ ✎ ✎
During my counseling skills class I am in the back of the lecture hall and heavily distracted. This professor is incredibly boring and really enjoys hearing himself talk. However, I’m occupied enough. Since there is no on behind or next to me, I open another tab on my laptop, to see I have yet another message from Walter.
Yes, I said Walter. I’m not in class, so it’s not professor Marshall.
Walter: Still in class?
Me: Yes, still am.
Me: What are you doing?
Walter: Consulting on a case for the NYP
Me: Do you miss working for the police force?
Walter: I do
Me: Why aren’t you working for the police now?
Walter: I’m suspended
Me: Do I want to know what you did?
Walter: I may or may not have yelled at some guy, thrown around some chairs during interrogation.
Walter: Thanks to me we solved the case though
Me: Remind me to always be on your good side 😅 😅
Walter: You are, Penny
Walter: Don’t you worry 😉
Me: Do you enjoy being a teacher?
Walter: No, not in the slightest
Walter: How are your assignments holding up?
Me: It’s going okay… It’s just a lot.
Walter: I bet
Me: It kinda feels like I’m drowning
Me: Already
Walter: You need help?
Me: I can’t ask that of you
Walter: You didn’t ask, I offered.
Me: Okay detective 🙄
Walter: Did you just roll your eyes at me?
Me: No, sir, I didn’t 🙈
Walter: I can help you out, I promise
Me: Where?
Walter: My loft?
Me: Your loft?
Walter: Yes, I can pick you up from somewhere
Me: You have crime scene pictures around your place?
Walter: I’ll have them gone by the time you get there
146 notes · View notes
theyarebothgunshot · 2 years
Note
I’d be very interested in your thoughts on the JIB8 cockles panel. just a suggestion for your rewatch 👀
i’ve seen the jib8 panel so many times, because it’s honestly one of the wildest things i have ever seen and i just never get tired of it. 
first of all i want to give you my take on the overall vibe, and then second of all i will get into the details and link to certain timestamps in the video. 
disclaimer: i am not gonna be linking to every single thing i talk about, but i will try my best to link to the moments that stand out to me the most. i have read long posts about this panel before, so not everything in this post is gonna be original or said for the first time ever, simply because there is a good chance that information has stuck in my mind and has subconsciously formed my view of this panel. this is also in no way, shape or form gonna be coherent, unfortunately. i’m just gonna hope that the cockles hivemind will be able to make sense of this regardless. love and light. and lastly, this is all in good fun, so don’t come at me if you think this is too out there please and thank you.
fun fact: i was today years old when i found out that the airbnb story took place one day before this panel. what a sexually charged weekend that was for them dude (gn).
the vibe that i get from this panel is that their moods were off before they got on stage, and where misha kind of looks tired and not 100% enthusiastic about things, jensen apparently decided to get drunk and is trying to make it look like he is thriving. yet, a little while into the panel we learn that it has been an emotional rollercoaster of a day for him, which might have something to do with the overall mood. then again, it could be that something else happened in between the autographs and that panel, who is to say?
i have talked about the d/s subtones in their interactions before and this panel makes my radar ping like nobody’s business. if my interpretation of their dynamics is right, then one could assume that jensen was being very bratty on purpose, trying to stir up a reaction in misha, and i think he probably got what he wanted (more or less. maybe he thought misha would find it more amusing than he did, or but honestly, at that point they have already known each other for nearly 10 years so odds are he knew what he was doing and how misha would react to it. it would surprise me greatly if these two didn’t work out their mutual frustrations with the day and each other after this panel ended- in the bedroom.)
i genuinely think i have never seen jensen flirt more openly and aggressively with misha, ever, and i have never seen misha in the state he was in during this panel either: tired, a little annoyed about the fact that jensen was going off the deep end and that he was not able to stop him, to the point where he just gives up and says things like ‘when in rome’ etc. let’s get into it. 
the mood is set from the very first second: misha is kinda subdued, and jensen is being a bit of a clown, coaxing misha to join him in the madness, which he does to a certain extent. 
we are off to a great start with not just one [0m15s], but two [0m20s] moments in which i just know in my bones they wanted to hold hands. how do i know? because i have been there my fucking self. wanting to hold hands with your crush when you are drunk and acting silly is a love language okay.
as soon as they sit down, misha tries to make conversation and jensen just starts pushing him and pushing him, [1m11s] saying ‘shut up’ and ‘yeah it’s really stupid and it embarrasses me’, but misha tries to ignore it at first and just marches on through. which is probably why i never see people talk about that little comment. it embarrasses jensen when misha sits like that? why would he need to feel embarrassed by his friend’s actions? kinda weird tbh, sounds like husband behavior to me. i have a feeling that when misha said ‘by which he means it’s an innie’, jensen REALLY had to bite on his tongue not to go all ‘you weren’t complaining this morning’ or something like that. look at his face bro [1m55s]. 
and then jensen opens up his legs like the little tramp (affectionate) that he is and when misha tries to stop him he just TURNS to misha with said open legs like a mad man and goes ‘here’s the thing. pick a leg.’ [2m05s] LIKE? who DOES THAT? that is insane people behavior!!! admittedly i am a cis woman and i don’t have conversations with male friends about their bodily anatomy all that often, but i legit cannot phatom that this is a normal thing to talk about with your platonic buddy. pick a leg for me to rest my dick on, old buddy old pal. NOBODY DOES THAT. it’s not even something that i would consider flirting because even though i am into men, i would not find that arousing? so it’s either an action to provoke annoyance in misha or it’s something they have discussed before or both. because misha immediately understands what he means, starts shaking his head in frustration, and actually turns to jensen as if to say ‘are you fucking kidding me right now? really? you are really doing this?’ followed by a ‘this is making me feel so uncomfortable’ aka one of the phrases they both like to use even though they never mean it. 
then when jensen actually goes up to do his ridiculous mating dance and sits back down again, he automatically sits down with his body turned towards misha. 
quick side note: if anybody understands what the joke was about when they talked about ‘cas has big dolls’ i would love to hear it, because that has never made any sense to me, but it’s probably a me problem lmao. 
when misha goes ‘could you watch your language please’ i think that’s a sign that he is genuinely getting a bit frustrated [4m53s] with jensen even though he is obviously playing it off as a joke. right after he says that, jensen puts his fingers against his mouth, as if to shut himself up. i know that a lot of people don’t wanna read too much into body language but hey, i am writing an analysis here so work with me for a sec: i think that could be a subconscious decision to listen to what misha is telling him to do, which ties into the d/s dynamics i’ve mentioned earlier. 
i know people always go crazy when misha goes ‘what did i tell him’ [5m19s] and jensen whispers in his ear. i personally think misha probably told him about the fact that they booked kansas the band, but it’s still pretty telling that that is how misha would react to the question if something he told him is public knowledge. evidently that goes to show that there is enough that misha tells jensen that cannot be shared with the public, which i thought is interesting. 
now that i am watching it again, the ‘j*red would have just said it’ comment kind of stumbles around in my brain asking me to dissect it. let’s just say that i wouldn’t be surprised if they were both thinking back on the many, many times that j*red put his foot in his mouth and made a suggestive comment about jensen and misha’s relationship. 
god i just cringed [6m14s] watching jensen interact with that first girl who asked a question and he just goes off on her about how twins are cool and misha is shaking his head lord oh lord and that is the minute daniella decides that hey maybe they need even more alcohol lmfaoooo it’s a lot. poor misha i genuinely feel bad for him.
and then he goes ‘real men have twins’ and looks at misha and misha is still not having it so he goes ‘it’s just a shirt’ like girl (gn) pleASE that’s husband behavior, yet again, why else would he feel the need to clarify it. ‘look babe don’t be mad or jealous i don’t mean anything by it, it’s just a shirt’ i hate him. 
i just know misha would have wanted to take the apple juice away from jensen lmao. 
one of the moments [9m35s] that always stands out to me is when they go ‘that’s why we don’t bring steven’ ‘that’s right, that’s why he’s not allowed’ idk how to explain it but the way that just flows out of them so naturally feels very coupley for some reason.
i think we can all agree that jensen’s reaction [12m22s] to misha’s ‘i always wear orange underwear’ story is completely fake, right? because there is no way he didn’t know that, and his reaction was very exaggerated. plus, the little gesture to make misha show his underwear? bitch, please. whipped. there was also exactly zero reason for him to come that close to misha in order to inspect the color of his underwear.
the one thing that i wonder about, though, is why misha didn’t know jensen was wearing the famous underbear briefs? but as i am writing this i realise that even if they slept in the same hotel room, there are obviously a few different possible reasons why misha didn’t know what underwear jensen was wearing that day: either jensen showered and changed in the bathroom, so by the time he faced misha again he was fully dressed, or misha had to leave their hotel room earlier than jensen, or jensen changed while misha showered, etc etc. 
in any case……. jensen dropping trou in the middle of this fucking panel? absolutely batshit insane, 10/10 thank you for your service nesnej. 
this [13m54s] is where shit really starts to hit the fan. jensen is OUT OF CONTROL. the long stares??? the ‘rawr’s??? ‘you didn’t even get the full picture’??? (sidenote i would love to know what misha whispered to him right after).
OKAY so. when the girl mentions j*red and jensen goes all Knowing What’s Up and says ‘oh he has had a rough time today. misha kept us up way too late last night. *glances at misha* rrrrrrr’ listen. the only reason i am not reading too much into this is because i do not believe they had a threesome with j*red but also the way he said it was very sus and my mind can’t help but wonder if they were disgustingly flirty and way too touchy feely in front of j*red whilst drunk and honestly that’s probably the case.
of course this is followed [15m15s] by the insane man saying ‘by the way they go down to here’??? and the potentially whispered ‘i’ll show you later’?????? sir i have a lot of questions. number one: how dare you? 
bless this next person for this question, because she starts her sentence with: ‘people who have been together for a long time…’ i actually already made a post about this once so i implore you all to read that because i still stand by what i said in there.
it is of course followed by them both not being able to think about ANYTHING appropriate to say to the question if there is anything they only do in front of each other that doesn’t involve pants. and then misha goes ‘why don’t i just share a private moment that we had’ and jensen’s first instinct is to say ‘shit’. i mean. i am merely perceiving. 
this is the moment we realise that it has been quite The Day for them, but especially for jensen, because he has been emotional earlier in the day. which, again, could explain his demeanor during the panel. trying to distract himself. notice that he gets up and shakes his legs again and goes for a drink the second misha starts to tell the story: coping mechanisms aka distraction, just like he did at the start of the panel. 
the moment where he goes ‘it’s hitting me now. shit.’ really solidifies this theory for me, that he has been acting like a goofy drunken guy all panel, in order to drown out the emotions he felt that afternoon, but alas. once he started to talk about it, it still all came back to him. 
i will say this though: it kind of warms my heart that he was so touched by the fact that the fandom spawned something good. makes me feel slightly less dumb for forming parasocial relationships with that man. only slightly, but still. 
misha going ‘god he’s so grouchy’ [25m32s]? say it with me, folks: husband behavior. once again misha tries to talk jensen down and jensen listens (sort of). say it with me, folks: d/s behavior. and RIGHT after that jensen walks towards misha with this intense fucking stare in his eyes that makes me feel like i am intruding, and then after he gets another drink (nesnej, why?) he just. gently massages misha’s neck and shoulder before draping his arm around him? and his hand lingers when he goes to grab the keychain? okay. 
insert the famous ‘when in rome’ debacle lmao misha was so done with jensen by then it’s so hilarious. the funny thing is that misha says ‘what i mean is show each other our underwear, nothing weird. you can’t look at me like that, because of what you did’, while the question was ‘what would dean and cas do in rome’ and not ‘what would jensen and misha do in rome’ but clearly, once again, the actors cannot make a distinction between the two. interesting :) it also wouldn’t surprise me if jensen has told him to tone down the dean/cas answers but now that jensen decided to fully flash him on stage misha is like ‘sorry but i am not playing by your rules after what you did’ lmao. of course, jensen’s reaction is to go back to parting his legs for misha, like he is challenging him. i mean. you can’t make this shit up. 
am i the only one who thinks that jensen might be thinking dirty thoughts when misha repeats ‘what would dean and cas do’ [27m50s]? because like. that’s quite a face he is making.
when he says ‘i don’t know how to answer that’ and misha agrees, idk, for some reason i get the feeling that that’s in the sense of ‘i don’t know how to answer that in a way that won’t get our fans’s hopes up because we know what they would want and we know what we would answer but we can’t go there’. 
i really feel like the final straw for daniella was the way that jensen reacted to that last question like he was gonna have another breakdown lmao and that’s why the rest of the cast and crew were pushed onto the stage prematurely. because when you think about it, it’s a pretty rude thing to do when somebody is still answering a question? but okay. 
listen - the last 6 minutes of this panel are so chaotic sdjfhsjh the only thing i can conclude from it is that jensen is hella drunk but we’ve been knew. his mood changes by the fucking second. i love him and his little dance and how he sits down on the stage. i feel like i might be jensen coded when i am drunk. i too get slutty and unpredictable. 
so anyways long story short: jensen was hella drunk and wanted to provoke misha, it worked, they had hot sweaty sex after this panel, and the fact that jensen got drunk enough to entrust misha with taking care of shit during the panel makes me very emotional for some reason, and i just love them a lot. thank you for coming to my ted talk. 
127 notes · View notes
kagrena · 1 year
Text
tea
The Mysterium Xarxes. The Mysterium Xarxes. Encrusted in letters that are drawn all over the skin of sacrifice, pages woven of the will of Lord Dagon, rippling with power, ripe with potential, the wounds yet to be carved into Tamriel, “We shall script the divine, through shed blood and cleansing fire –” the words still rattle in your head “–shall be reckoned through the violence of the dawn to come–” that Mysterium Xarxes.
It’s not held sacred in a torrent of fire and rage. Instead, it’s sitting on a stone table, looking small, in this too-long too-wide too-empty temple hall dedicated to some nonsense dragon-god, all-adorned with detailed Akaviri-style carvings of some righteous battle scene whose name has been forgotten by anything except musty historians, sickening and ostentatious next to an unthinkable daedric artefact, a real and dangerous unthinkable daedric artefact, sits cold and small in the hands of the last living drop of the Emperor’s bloodline.
You wonder whether a fiery hand will rise up through its pages and drag you down screaming.
Martin, for his part, appears oblivious to this very real possibility, but you have learnt not to make assumptions on his behalf, not since he tore a scamp straight in half with a firebolt on your winding way up to Bruma. He is busy contemplating. Pausing. Turning a page forwards. Turning a page backwards. Mumbling. Nodding, occasionally. Making an occasional, quick note into a small leather-bound book he can slip in the inside of his robes. Perhaps he is dissecting it carefully. Perhaps he is leafing through it like a borrowed recipe book. You can’t tell. You have circled him twelve times. You have shifted out of your chair. Into the chair. Onto the floor. Into the air. Legs up, hands down. Then back in the direction of gravity. You then circled thirteen times, for extra caution. Each time, you’ve made twelve different patterns in the overly ostentatious and excruciatingly detailed Akaviri-style tiling, which you think depicts the end of the world, or perhaps the sundering of Akatosh, you can’t tell, not even when you squint, what the meaning is. Esoteric akaviri symbolism is not your forte. (Forbidden Daedric magic is your forte). You spin around. You consider, briefly, setting all your hair alight. Then the wobbly feeling scrunching up inside of you lets you breathe for a moment, and you do something rational. You turn to Martin.
“Do you need…. ah, help?” 
“Help, Ysamyne?”
There’s a strangled pause.
“I have a lot of expertise,” you add. “Considerable expertise, in this area, that is.”
Something softens. “Ysamyne, I have no doubt regarding your abilities. But I believe it was you who suggested that this research could be of particular risk to a former–”
“I know. I know – I know – I…” Long sigh. Deep, strenuous breath. Blink rapidly. “I’m just not used to it. Not used to.” You pause. Gesture emptily. Gesture at the way your insides bunch up. Gesture to nothing at all. “This.”
Martin looks towards you, too kindly.
“Ysa–”
“Martin. Is there anything I could do. Literally anything.”
He pauses. Features cross into frown – briefly, before clouding again. “Well, I suppose…” 
“Martin.”
“I wouldn’t want to send you on an errand I could easily do myself, it’s such a menial task–”
“–I don’t care, Martin,” you cut in. “I really. I don’t care.”
He looks at you.
“Ysa, it’s… it’s more of the principle of the thing, I’m not anywhere close to being, well, the Emperor–”
“Martin. Come on. Please.”
Someone swallows. Perhaps it’s you. Something’s stuck in someone’s throat because there’s a silence and it’s too long, before Martin takes a long breath.
“I suppose… well, I suppose, Ysamyne, you could make me a cup of tea.”
You blink.
“A cup of tea.”
“I… Yes? A cup of tea?”
It wasn’t a question. You don’t know why he made it a question. You want to rub at your temples. Why did he need to make this needlessly complicated.
“A cup of tea.” You say it again, quietly. “A cup of tea. Yes. A cup of tea. I can make a cup of tea.”
“Ysamyne. Please. It’s really not necessary, really, I am perfectly capable–”
“I’m going to make you a cup of tea, Martin.”
And you stride towards the kitchen, your back that bit straighter. You are going to make a cup of tea. An excellent cup of tea. You just need – What do you need? Leaves, obviously. Tea comes from a tea plant. You’re not a simpleton. You used to watch Mother, back when she was still trying to drag you by the collar from stopping you squeeze out the hatch for the half dozen crows she kept, brew a pot of tea with a practiced hand, carefully measuring spoonfuls of tea leaves as the water had just stopped to steam, a great delicacy, an alchemist’s artistry. You were an accomplished alchemist yourself, of course, Mother had seen that you had half a dozen recipes for sickly poison reeling through your head before you hit sixteen, and not just nightshade and bloodgrass too, but dragon’s tongue nectar and fresh strawberry leaves and golden apple peel. Which wasn’t helping. You were not trying to poison Martin. Poison was complicated.
A cup of tea? Simplicity. You, however, have a knack for making things extraordinarily complicated. Which works for intricate summoning rituals, less for basic domestic tasks. 
Tea. Simple.
You swing open every cupboard door in the kitchen. It’s all empty, of course, there weren’t even ghosts left in this place. There’s still crumbs of things left in the pantry, though, and that’s where you find a bag of dry leaves stashed in the third left bottom shelf, which you presume is tea, you suppose – you suppose, because you haven’t had a nice hot drink in a long time, haven’t you? Did anyone ever offer to make you a cup of tea? A sobering thought, you think – no, this isn’t the time to think, you have a task at hand. 
You look at the bag. Dry. Measly. Withering. You take a bite of one, just in case it’s something else, and it’s awfully bitter, and not much else. You decide this has to be tea. Mother would have drunk nothing else – nothing, except perhaps the tears of her sworn enemies, so she claimed – a dark jest, you had thought, but trust mother to be serious about idle threats of vengeance, especially about tea. You don’t recall her drinking anything else. You don’t recall her eating much of anything, actually – it strikes you, perhaps she skipped her meals to make more for you, to make sure you weren’t ever in hunger? Starve herself for an ungrateful weed to grow –
You bite your lip. It’s dry, and it almost bleeds, in the cold.
You think you understand the next stage. You need a pestle and mortar. A mortar and pestle. And you need water, and it needs to be hot, and you set a blue flame alight beneath a rusted kettle, and while it begins to whistle you begin to grind, but how much should you grind, and where do you put the leaves – there’s a filter, but does it sit above to soak, and your water is bubbling and that’s good and you wonder whether it was three minutes or five your mother left for the tea to brew, perhaps it’s different based on if the water is hot enough but if it isn’t hot enough will there be enough flavour, you don’t want it to be tasteless, your water is bubbling out of the spout and boiling over and maybe yes perhaps you should leave it to soak – yes, you need to leave it to soak, it’ll stop it from being too dry, so you pick up the leaves – the water’s on the floor and it’s scalding – and – and – you ground the leaves too finely and it’s all slipped through and you’re there – fretting, trying to pick out bits of leaves from scalding water because you don’t even know how to make a stupid cup of tea, you imbecile, you utter fool, you stupid – to Oblivion with this – 
You freeze the pot. You freeze the pot until it’s ice the whole way through. And the pot shatters. 
Shit.
You sit on the floor for a minute. Your burned fingers running through your hair, wet.
You’ve made a complete mess out of everything, haven’t you, Ysa?
Ysa. Martin’s name for you, you’re using. It sounds wrong, the way it rumbles in your head, though.
Ysamyne.
Something quick and flung-together to throw away after used, a nonsense name, an impossible person. But he kept on to it, though. Held onto every syllable. 
It sounds wrong, the way it rumbles in your head. So cold. 
When you pull yourself up, so that you’re just about standing, you begin melt what’s left until it’s warm enough, and you dump what you can gather of the leaves in another pot. It hardly matters now, and you know you want it to taste of something rather than nothing, so you suppose, well, ten minutes, if the water’s cooler, it needs more time to steep, surely. You know that’s stupid, and wrong. You don’t care. You’ll heat it up at the end.
It doesn’t matter.
You offer Martin tea, from hot to cold to hot again, in this little grey cup and saucer that you’d found at the back of this cupboard along with a bunch of dusty tableware which might as well been from the Reman dynasty. Crumbling antiques. Perhaps it’ll taste of dead history. Or perhaps it’ll taste of nothing at all. 
He takes the cup, and sips it. There’s a pause.
“Ysamyne, this is rather… well, it’s bracing.”
If Martin has noticed the scalding on your fingers, or how much you’re trying to hold in all that damned shaking you’ve started doing, he’s kept it all to himself. 
“It’s... not too bland?” 
“Oh, no,” he says. “No. Definitely not bland. Rather far from bland.”
You nod. “Well. That’s good, then.” 
You don’t – you’re not sitting down. You’re standing there – like you’re waiting. Except – you’re not waiting for anything. And you’re trying not to shake but you’re still shaking, still, in your fingers and your boots and your smile you’ve tried to stitch-on here, paste onto your face like it’s not all a stinking disaster, is all lop-sided and there is something wrong, something very wrong, you think, with you, and you’re thankful you’re not holding the tea-cup because you think it would shatter, shatter –
“Ysamyne?”
A hand almost touches your shoulder, but it’s a touch too hesitant. It hovers, uncertain.
“Ysamyne, you don’t – it’s – it’s just a cup of tea – it’s – um, I’m not very good with this, with... um.”
“Martin.”
“Yes?”
“Just... let me lean on your shoulder. But don’t look. Don’t let anyone look.”
You begin to spill. You begin to spill over and flood the floor and part of you wants it to be loud and thunderous, a storm of yourself, all the wind and all the rain, howling –
– but really, you’re barely more than a girl, who hasn’t yet learned how not to cry. It’s an ugly, wretched sight.
He doesn’t even take a glance. But he does wrap an arm around you eventually, holding on just gently, but just firmly enough, as you cry into his shoulder.
——
(“We’ll make another cup. Promise. I’m actually not bad with tea, myself. I could even show you how.”
“Oh, piss off.”
It tastes delicious, of course.)
——
< Prev | Directory | Next >
44 notes · View notes
a-froger-epic · 2 years
Text
About the Interview
Since I posted the interview with J - a woman who has described herself to me as one of Queen’s first “groupies” - there has naturally been a lot of discussion about the veracity of the interview, the source, and my own motivations in posting it. I fully expected that, and I will say once more that nobody (apart from a small handful of anonymous trolls) has behaved inappropriately in these discussions. I have not received any “hate” because of this. There is no “drama”. Nobody is wrong, or a party-pooper, or attacking me by expressing their doubts. I have seen some awful bile spat at people anonymously recently, and that kind of behaviour has got to stop.
Now, if you don't think I am genuine, there is obviously nothing I can do about that. 
However, what I am hoping to do here is add as much transparency as I can in regard to how and why the interview happened, and also share my own full thoughts on it with you. 
First things first. No unverified, anonymous source can be seen as definitive proof of anything, ever. That is my stance. I have myself been criticised for so much as suggesting that other anonymous sources tied in with Freddie’s history are not 100% proof of one thing or another. But for me, an anonymous source can never mean more than at best: this seems very likely, but we can’t be 100% certain.
Perhaps I was naive to think that what I considered to be enough of a disclaimer at the beginning of the interview, was enough. My intention was to express that while I, personally, believe J to be a) the person she says she is and b) genuine about what she remembers, that does not mean I believe everything she has told me is fact or happened in that exact way. I thought this was obvious. Perhaps I was unclear, and I apologise for that. 
So let me be clear. There is nobody in the world who has perfect, factual recollections of what happened to them almost 50 years ago. Not even J herself claims for one moment that this is the case. She mentions several times that these are old memories from when she was very young, that she indulged in recreational drugs at the time, and that her views - of course - carry a personal bias. All this, I thought, would be enough for readers to know not to take everything they read at face value.
All of the above is why I kept my own thoughts and notes to a minimum within the interview, why I didn’t correct or point out obvious mistakes. I simply assumed that everybody would go away and read the interview against all the sources and information they already have, as I have done myself.
But maybe that was somewhat irresponsible of me, and I should have been the first person to dig into how J’s memories fit in (or don’t) with the information which is already out there, and how to put the two together. While I refrained from sharing all my thoughts alongside the interview (although I have fragmentally done so in response to other people since), others like @quirkysubject​ (here), @iwilltrytobereasonable​ (here), @emmaandorlando​ (here), @sarinataylor​ and @talkingismylifewrites​ (here) all had some very good things to say. All of them make excellent points. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES SEND THEM NASTY MESSAGES. I frankly can’t believe I have to say this at all.
I found myself in a difficult position, because as the person who had spoken to J and asked her all these questions, I did not feel as though I could dissect her words as freely as anybody else. She has put a lot of trust in me, and I do not want her to think that I question her honesty and intentions. Because I don’t. If I hadn’t felt as sure as I reasonably can be that she is the person she says she is, and that her story is genuine from her perspective, if I had been in any doubt about that, I would not have made it public.
Here's the thing:
Even if you don't believe J knew the boys, her recollections of the time period alone are still valuable and incredibly interesting, giving us a glimpse of early 1970s London. 
But I do believe J. Why?
Before I answer that, let me just say: I fully realise that of course the fact that it was my story J happened across, and me she decided to speak to because of it, makes me more inclined to want to believe her. However, other authors I'm friends with, as well as myself, have received messages from older people several times before. It does trigger nostalgia when a story is very strongly rooted in a time somebody has lived through. There are older people in the fandom. (I recently ran a poll and all age groups were represented even here on Tumblr.) 
Now, on to the reasons why my communication with J has felt nothing but authentic to me.
1. She was never in any rush to get in touch with me or relate information to me. It took her a few days to email me after she first spoke to me in the comment section, where I begged her to please get in touch. She then sent me the same email five times, over two days, because she couldn’t quite work my email address out at first. 
Tumblr media
I ended up asking several questions more than once to get an answer because they were overlooked. The conversation went off on tangents, and we chatted about her weekend at her friend’s house (and I was presented with a beautiful snapshot of the beach), the memory box her daughter made for her, her work and other things. There were stretches of days at a time when J simply didn’t find the time to get back to me. And I may have badgered her with a few too many emails asking her to please remember to answer my questions when she has a moment. In short, it was the opposite of somebody rushing to share their story. I was doing all the rushing. (I realise that I am asking you to take my word for this, but this did not all happen in a vacuum. @plainxte​, @quirkysubject​, @fingersfallingupwards​, @onegoldenglance​ and @freddieofhearts​ witnessed the process first-hand, as well as my excitement and some of J’s original emails.)
2. J was very trusting. I know her full name, where she lives and her place of work. She sent me current pictures of herself and her husband unprompted. At no point did she ask me not to reveal her identity, that is a call I made because I did not want to expose her to any possible harassment.
3. There were a few things in her account of what she remembered which were so obviously at odds with what we know to be true - it’s well-known John is a bit taller than Roger, for example, but J remembered him shorter, Queen went to Sydney in ‘85, J remember it as ‘84 - that I couldn’t help but think, if I was somebody who was trying to convince others of a made up story, the first thing I would surely do is make absolutely certain to get the facts which are easily findable right. Instead, J always lead with: this was all a long time ago, I’m sorry, I’m doing my best trying to remember.
I realise that a very clever hoaxer could do all this and convince me. But here the question has to be, to what end? This would be quite an act for someone to arrange, to make it seem quite so naturalistic. Nobody would go through the trouble of doing that for nothing. There’s no monetary gain. Scandal? There is nothing scandalous in the interview. Attention? J is barely an active member of the fandom. She has managed to create a Tumblr though: @since72​. There is one post currently. 
It also took her a couple of days to get back to me after I posted the interview.
In brief, I have no logical explanation for why somebody would go to these lengths and fool me so cleverly, with such attention to detail, when there seems to be nothing in it for them. Why then did J bother to talk to me at all? What was her motivation? Well, after I thanked her profusely for doing this, she simply said that she felt she owed me as reading my story had brought back so many memories for her.
All of the above is why I strongly feel that J is very much real and genuine. But I completely understand that it all hinges on the fact that in order to believe everything I say is true, you would have to trust me. And I know that as I am just another person on the internet, you have no reason to do that. But I’ll get to me in a moment.
Here are a few more doubts which I have seen come up with regard to J.
Why would she be reading fanfiction about people she knew? That’s weird.
To be perfectly honest, exactly that was my first reaction, too. But then I thought about it and talked to friends about it. 
Firstly, J says herself that she was never a close friend. I agree that it would be far weirder to read fanfiction about somebody you knew very well. Having said that, John Deacon’s son has been known to read Queen fanfic about his father (and read it out on his YouTube channel). But I think given that it’s been half a century and J has been watching Queen in the public eye ever since, it isn’t really all that strange to read about fictional versions of them.
Secondly, a friend of mine noticed that it seems as though older people in the fandom find J overall more credible than younger people. I’m 35, and it is true that the older we get, the more we look for the things which remind us of our younger years. There is an urge to remember and re-live. You can trust me on this, or you can ask anyone over the age of 30 or 40. Nostalgia is real, and it only comes to you with age. Why would somebody who had briefly brushed shoulders with people who later became celebrities not take an interest in them later? It seems natural that she would. As J says, she never stopped being a fan of Queen’s music and came across fanfic when she looked up Adam Lambert. Is it really so strange that she would find fanfic about them entertaining? Having given it all this thought, I really don’t think so.
It’s unrealistic that she was so young.
This is something I have to disagree with. Times were different. Pete Townshend entered Ealing Art School at age 16, according to Wikipedia. My mother (currently 62) moved 600km away from home at the age of 15 to study piano at music college. I myself moved out from home at 17 (no tragic reasons whatsoever), but that’s beside the point. I have seen it framed in a way where it was said that “It isn’t realistic that a 16-year-old was hanging out with Queen who were all in their 20s”. I agree, it would be a little strange if the story was that one 16-year-old girl was hanging out with Queen by herself as their good buddy. But that is not the story. (Even though it is well-known that during the 60s and 70s, young teenaged groupies did in fact hang out with rock groups very frequently. Of course, J was not that kind of groupie.) She was simply part of a large circle of friends, by her own admission not a close friend of the band. Personally, I struggle to see how this is unrealistic in any way. 
It seems super suspicious that she lost her photos in a flood.
Yes, it does. I agree. J realises that, too. 
Tumblr media
Like @quirkysubject​ said in her post, I don’t blame anyone who is too sceptical at this point. But there actually was a pretty bad flood in Australia in 1988.
There are mistakes in J’s story!
Yes, there are! Let me point them out to you. I already mentioned John’s height and Queen being in Australia in ‘85, not ‘84. I also think that her perception that Freddie was taller than Roger in ‘72, but no longer in the 80s, had everything to do with platform shoes. I have to say that I did ask J some questions which I knew were things which are almost impossible to remember about people you weren’t particularly close to. I knew there was no way she would be able to accurately recall their heights, but I still wanted to know what the impression was which she had come away with. I don’t for one moment think she could possibly know why and if Freddie’s nickname was really ‘Freddie Baby’ at EAS well before she went there. But I still wanted to hear what she thought of that. This is why I stated specifically that this entire interview consists of one woman’s subjective opinions and memories. That alone means you can absolutely not take any of it as definitive fact. That just isn’t how memory works.
Kensington Market and the stall:
J’s answers on this one thoroughly confused me. Not only did she say that while she saw Freddie at the market a lot, Roger was hardly ever there, but there was also some Indian man working at the stall during the week (who I don’t think could have been Freddie’s father). She saw Freddie at multiple stalls, a girl named Jill also worked at the stall… and J was under the impression that Roger and Freddie hadn’t even started the stall. None of this made a whole lot of sense to me, until somebody pointed out that the original stall owned by Roger and Freddie must have closed in the second half of 1971. (Sources: Queen in Cornwall & Queen: As it Began)
It is confirmed (same sources as above) that Freddie worked at the market until as late as 1974. I think it is therefore entirely possible that J would have seen him working at Alan’s stall, or helping out at other stalls, and the likelihood that Roger would have come to hang out with him on a weekend is fairly high, in my opinion. Later, reading about Freddie and Roger running a stall, J would have had no reason to think that this wasn’t the same stall she had seen them at. And yes, this is of course only a theory.
The gay pride march:
@rushingheadlong​, who has recently done a lot of fantastic research about Tim, confirms that there’s no chance (as far as we know) that Tim could have been at the march. Did any of them really go? Is J misremembering entirely? Could it be that one of them or two of them went, and looking back, J remembers it as all of them (minus John, however) because she was used to mostly seeing them all together? Does she remember them from another protest march and got it mixed up with the gay rights march? I can’t say. The march and who exactly went is a big question mark. Even J herself is only “pretty sure” that they were all there, and I have to say, I can’t tell you who was where exactly when I think back to when I was 16. Certainly not when there was a big group of people around. And that was only 20 years ago for me.
Lastly, I’m going to try and use the guide our awesome local historian @emmaandorlando​ provided on how to analyse new sources. Of course, I’m not a historian (and I’m also partly the source by being the interviewer, so I can perhaps only do this impertectly), but let’s give it a go.
1. Who wrote this document? 
‘Written historical records were created by individuals in a specific historical setting for a particular purpose. Until you know who created the document you have read, you cannot know why it was created or what meanings its author intended to impart by creating it’.
In this case, the answer is two-fold because essentially I wrote the interview, in as far as that I asked the questions, I gave it shape and presented it in the form in which it came, but the answers are J’s. I completely understand that this is already a big stumbling block for many, because not only am I presenting her as an anonymous source, but many of you don’t know anything about me. If you follow me on Tumblr, you will know that I have shared more with the internet than is probably wise. But still, I am somebody you know little about, presenting to you a person you know even less about. Whether you trust me or not is entirely down to your own judgement and instinct, and that will be different for everybody.
(I’ve seen it said that I’m plugging my own work through this interview. If that was my plan, I’m afraid it’s failed miserably. I looked, and DoA has gained a whopping 2 or 3 kudos.)
2. Who is the intended audience?
‘The relationship between author and audience is one of the most basic elements of communication and one that will tell you much about the purpose of the document. Think of the difference between the audience for a novel and that for a diary, or for a law and for a secret treaty. Knowing the audience allows you to begin to ask important questions, such as; “Should I believe what I am being told?”’
The intended audience is the Queen fandom on Tumblr and AO3. I have no interest in sharing this anywhere else because I’m not familiar with the other fan communities (Facebook? Instagram?) and wouldn’t know how to go about it. For J, the intended audience was mostly me, an author she likes who was very interested in her memories.
3. Why was this document written?
‘Everything is written for a reason. Understanding the purpose of a historical document is critical to analysing the strategies that the author employs within it. A document intended to convince will employ logic; a document intended to entertain will employ fancy; a document attempting to motivate will employ emotional appeals. In order to find these strategies, you must know what purpose the document was intended to serve.’
I got really, really excited. That is the reason. When J got in touch with me, I had a decision to make. I could ask her all the questions I wanted privately and share her answers only with my "inner circle” of fandom friends, or I could share everything with the fandom spaces where I’ve been very active in the last two years. I wanted to share the excitement and decided to do the latter.
I also wanted to present the interview in a way where it would be an engaging, well-structured read and not simply all of her emails to me dumped here with a quick ‘there you go’. So I tried to wrap it in a beautiful “package”, which is why I asked her for her art, for example.
4. What type of document is this?
‘The form of a document is vital to its purpose. The form or genre in which a document appears is always carefully chosen. Genre contains its own conventions, which fulfil the expectations of author and audience.’
An interview, written by somebody who has never interviewed anyone before.
5. Can I believe this document?
‘To be successful, a document designed to persuade, to recount events, or to motivate people to action must be believable to its audience. For the critical historical reader, it is that very believability that must be examined. Every author has a point of view, and exposing the assumptions of the document is an essential task for the reader. 
You must treat all claims sceptically (even while admiring audacity, rhetorical tricks, and clever comparisons). One question you certainly want to ask is, “is this a likely story?” Testing the credibility of a document means looking at it from the other side.’
This is for all of you to decide for yourselves, and that was always the case. Far be it from me to be upset with anyone who straight up doesn’t believe a word I say, doesn’t believe J is real or any other scepticism. I’ll say it again, DO NOT harass anyone for expressing their opinions on this! It is NOT WRONG to discuss a new source! It’s wonderful that people are doing it!
And so, we come to that last question: Is this a likely story? 
Personally, I can firmly answer that with: Yes. In my personal opinion, it is. I find J’s story very likely and there is close to nothing that makes me question that these are indeed her real memories. But given the nature of human memory, they are just as imperfect as anybody else’s and do not, and should not, supersede any factual, verified information we already have.
With that, I hope to have provided a bit more clarity and transparency, and leave you - as before - to make up your own minds.
52 notes · View notes
siyvaruli · 1 year
Text
Hang My Head Low
(Ch. 4, other chapters here)
Pairing: Hotch/Morgan
Warnings: Infidelity, off-screen sex, internalized homophobia
Notes: Hotch and Morgan discuss racism in this section. Please do not take this as any sort of social justice template, their attitudes and reactions are based off of their reactions to the issue and each other in early seasons canon and are not indicative of what one should say or believe.
--
Custodial interviews, lectures, consults and fresh cases. It went on, and they went to northern California, child molestation that had escalated to murder. Jason sent Richards and Derek to examine the latest crime scene, sent Gaudioso—Singnoth’s replacement—off with the evidence bags, called Penelope to find files on any old molestation cases within fifty miles. Aaron handed him the crime scene photos and they sat in silence for a while, dissecting and reconstructing the case.
“The first murder was accidental,” Jason concluded, and Aaron hummed his agreement, had deduced that much on the plane. “Why don’t you file for divorce?”
“The unsub isn’t married,” Aaron replied, immersed in the case, then paused. Set the file down. Cleared his throat. “What did you say?” he queried, his voice thin.
Jason set the stack of photos down, leaned forward and clasped his hands, caught Aaron’s eyes and wouldn’t let him look away. “I asked why you haven’t filed for divorce,” he repeated. The words echoed like a gunshot at a shooting range, and yet no one in the precinct ducked or covered their ears. Aaron swallowed, felt for the straps of his absent vest.
“Why would I file for divorce?” he parried, years of experience keeping his voice level and his demeanor calm. “Haley and I have been married for almost fourteen years.”
“And you need twenty before you can retire with a pension?” Jason asked sardonically, then softened his tone and his gaze and continued, “You fell in love with someone else, Hotch. Either it’s the end of your marriage or it’s a mistake.”
“I’m not in love,” Aaron denied, because it was the only thing he could address, couldn’t envision his life without his marriage to Haley, couldn’t classify Derek as a mistake. “It’s not like that. Derek’s a man.”
Jason’s eyebrows shot up; somehow, unintentionally, Aaron had taken his unit chief by surprise. “Is this about making special agent in charge?” He sounded confident that it was, but Aaron had studied years of Jason’s interrogations, clocked the minute changes that meant Jason had started guessing, had found himself on uncertain ground.
What had Aaron said to throw off Jason’s profile? I’m not in love. He’d still been a teenager when he fell in love with Haley. Aaron had been entranced by Haley’s laughter, by her assurance, by how easily she doled out kindness to everyone she met. He’d taught himself origami that year, swans and frogs and flowers, set them on her desk before the bell and glowed when she saw them and smiled. They hadn’t had sex until college and Aaron hadn’t minded, hadn’t understood the locker room complaints about blue balls and and desperation to get laid. He loved Haley, and it had been easy to wait. He loved watching her walk down the aisle at their wedding, he loved that she’d told him he made her feel safe.
Derek was something completely different. Derek danced around the living room while he worked and Aaron finally saw the appeal in clubbing, touching someone he’d never met just to feel them move under his hands. Derek sparred with Gaudioso in the gym and Aaron thought he might combust. That wasn’t love. The only things he’d learned in the past few months were how to sand off his fingerprints, paint his clothes, and injure himself, and Aaron’s skills as a handyman made Derek curse more than they made him smile.
Derek’s a man. No, it couldn’t have been that one. Jason knew Aaron wasn’t gay.
Jason was still sitting there, waiting for an answer, and Aaron couldn’t deny that he was cheating on his wife. Why didn’t he file for divorce? Was it about making SAC, hopefully assistant director in DC a few years after that? Aaron had passed the bar and sworn he’d work in the DA’s office before thirty, determined to be as successful as his father had been. How far could he rise in the FBI if he didn’t keep his marriage intact?
Then Richards and Derek burst through the precinct doors, the building small enough that Jason and Aaron caught the tail end of their conversation, Derek’s coldly polite, “Look, man, I get that you’ve specialized in sexual offenders, I’m just saying that the most recent murder was planned. We need to rethink the profile,” and Richards’s biting, “Maybe you need to rethink opening your mouth, Morgan. Some of us earned our place in the BAU, and some of us are here because Gideon couldn’t resist putting a poor little Black boy on the team.”
Aaron came to his feet, his fists curled and his jaw set and about three seconds from laying Richards flat in the middle of the precinct. “Hotch,” Jason warned, but Aaron didn’t hear him, didn’t consider two decades of tight control over his fists and his rage. Then he glanced at Derek, and Derek met his gaze and gave a single, firm shake of his head.
“I’m getting coffee,” Aaron growled, shoving his chair out of the way, then stormed out of the building before he disregarded his teammates and his common sense and got arrested for assault.
-
Derek found him a few minutes later, pacing circles around the parking lot. “Come on,” he said, tossing a set of keys from one hand to the other, “let’s go get coffee. We can work the case on the way.”
“Forget the case!” Aaron shouted. Derek stilled, and Aaron remembered that Derek had spent the entire flight perusing the children’s files, long after even Jason had put them away. “I didn’t mean that,” he apologized, and Derek relaxed enough to unlock the car. “But Derek, you can’t just let this go.” He climbed in the passenger seat, had barely shut his door before Derek drove out of the lot. “Richards needs to be written up, at bare minimum, the man doesn’t belong in the FBI.”
Derek laughed mirthlessly. “If I didn’t let shit like this go, I’d never have time for anything else. Richards is just pissed because I made the BAU without putting in the time. I’ve heard worse.”
“I don’t care if he’s pissed that - Wait. What do you mean, worse?” Aaron twisted around to look at him, but Derek stared fixedly at the road. “From Richards?”
Derek shrugged one shoulder. “Richards. Other agents. Professors. Cops. The guy across the mat. The cashier at the jewelry store. The woman who crosses the street when I’m walking her way.” He stopped at a light, but kept his sunglasses on and his gaze aimed straight ahead. “I appreciate your concern on my behalf, but I’m telling you to let it go and focus on the case.”
Aaron was torn between the intense desire to punch Richards in the nose, the urge to demand Derek’s life story in agonizing detail, and the absurd compulsion to wrap his arms around the other man in broad daylight on Main Street and hold on. None of those were conducive to letting it go. But they had a case and, more importantly, Derek had asked.
They pulled up in front of the town’s only coffee shop. Aaron took several deep breaths, then followed Derek inside, rested his hand on the other man’s shoulder and allowed the sound of Derek’s voice as he ordered the coffee to soothe the large part of him that wanted to put Richards in the ground.
“Promise me we talk about this later,” Aaron demanded, once they had the coffees and were back in the car. Derek avoided questions constantly—talked about his sisters instead of his childhood, talked about cases instead of his time with the CPD, smirked and winked when Penelope asked about his weekend plans—but he’d cracked the door open on this, and Aaron wasn’t willing to slam it shut again.
For a long, lingering moment, Derek didn’t respond, but eventually he muttered, “Fine,” and inclined his head.
“Okay,” Aaron agreed, balancing two trays of coffee in his lap and something much more delicate in the air between them. “Then tell me about the scene. Let’s solve this case.”
-
They solved the case six hours later, one unsub captured and one boy saved. Jason had wisely kept Derek and Aaron in the field and Richards with him, but they all had to share the jet home. Aaron passed the time glowering at a sleeping Richards until Derek threw his psychology journal at Aaron’s head.
It was morning on the east coast by the time they landed, so they straggled into the office and drank the coffee Penelope had brewed them and dozed through writing their reports. Jason sequestered himself in his office and Aaron hoped the man was making whatever calls it took to have Richards removed from the team.
He watched Derek print his report, pack up his desk, and stop to chat with Penelope on his way out. A few minutes later he printed his own report, checked in with Jason, and wished Gaudioso a good day. Then he drove to Derek’s house.
“Go home, Aaron,” Derek huffed, doing sit ups in the living room as Aaron hung his keys on the hook and locked the front door.
“I brought breakfast tacos,” Aaron announced, holding up the bag, and Derek frowned but stood to accept the bribe.
-
“All right.” Derek wiped his hands with a napkin, crumpled the trash into a ball and launched it artfully into the trashcan. They’d eaten breakfast in silence, years as a lawyer and agent having taught Aaron never to push a witness too soon. “What do you want to know?”
Aaron wanted to know a million things about Derek, wanted to sift through the evidence of his life until he could read the man’s favorite color in the tilt of his head. “Richards has been harassing you,” he said instead. “Why didn’t you mention it to Gideon?”
Derek rolled his eyes. “Richards isn’t harassing me because I’m Black,” he told Aaron. “He’s harassing me because the BAU is one of the best assignments in the FBI and it’s a privilege I didn’t earn. Why would I mention it to Gideon when he thinks it’s true?”
“Gideon doesn’t think that.” Derek raised his eyebrows, but he’d been with the BAU for almost two years, he had to know. “Derek, Gideon would have kicked you off this team after the first case if he thought you couldn’t do the job.”
“I still should have put in my time, spent a year in some satellite office in Nebraska or something. Proved myself to Gideon before you asked him to give me a job.”
“Sure,” Aaron nodded. “That’s an easy fix. We’ll have you transferred to Omaha. Our solve rate will drop and you’ll spend two years running local investigations and reading back issues of The Journal of Applied Criminal Psychology and be bored out of your mind. Then, when you come back to the BAU, all the insecure racists who wish they were half as good at their jobs will agree that you belong.”
“It might work,” Derek said, straight-faced, and Aaron wrinkled his nose.
“You’re good at your job. You know you’re good at your job, and Gideon knows it, and Richards knows it or he wouldn’t be such an ass. And even if you weren’t,” he added, “it wouldn’t give Richards the right to hurl abuse.” Derek opened his mouth, but Aaron pressed on. “You know the profile here. If he’s doing it to you, he’ll do it to someone else. You’re going to let him keep treating people like that?”
Derek’s jaw went taut, and he closed his eyes for a long beat before shaking whatever it was away. “No,” he admitted. “I’ll talk to Gideon about it tomorrow.”
Aaron suspected that Richards would be gone by then, sent somewhere for basic decency trainings and a reprimand from HR, but it wouldn’t hurt to have Derek corroborate Jason’s report.
“Thank you,” Aaron murmured, because his mother had raised him to be polite, because he didn’t have words for the wave of relief that came with knowing Derek wouldn’t continue to be beaten down by their team. And then, because the door was still cracked open a hair, because Derek had yet to shut down and spin deftly away, he asked: “What about the rest of it?”
“The rest of it?” Derek echoed, confused. “What are you -” Then his eyebrows lifted in realization and he choked down a laugh. “Aaron, are you trying to solve racism?”
“Of course not,” Aaron huffed, crossing his arms and frowning. He knew he couldn’t end racism, any more than he could end abuse or murder or rape. He was only trying … to prevent it from hurting Derek. And wasn’t that their job, saving a few people from the evils of mankind?
Derek laughed at him, but he also leaned forward over the table and uncrossed Aaron’s arms, covered Aaron’s hands with his. “This is something you can’t fix,” he said bluntly, but his smile was gentle, his gaze fond. Aaron tried to argue with that—he had joined the FBI to fix things, to make the world a better, safer place—and Derek cut him off. “What are you gonna do, shoot Richards?” Aaron made a considering noise, and Derek sighed. “And then what? You’ll beat up the law professor who asked if I was in the wrong building? The cops that arr - harassed me when I was a kid? The manager at the hardware store who follows me down the aisles? Aaron, have you ever walked into a place and been told you didn’t belong?”
Aaron had a joke ready about jurisdiction at crime scenes, but he wouldn’t cheapen Derek’s honesty with it, so he merely shifted to curl his fingers around Derek’s and shook his head.
“No,” Derek confirmed. “That makes this my specialty, my lead.”
Aaron nodded. He wouldn’t—couldn’t—let it go entirely; a good profiler was driven by a desire to map out every angle, to understand. But he could fall back and let Derek take point. “You’ll tell me when to shoot?” he stipulated, because Derek had a tendency to take everything on himself without entrusting anything to the person at his back.
“Yeah,” Derek promised, squeezing Aaron’s hands. “But it won’t be today, because I intend to sleep until Gideon calls us back in.” He pulled his hands away, gathered Aaron’s taco wrappers and busied himself at the trashcan so that Aaron couldn’t see his face. “Are you headed home,” he wondered, his voice meticulously level, “or did you want to stay?”
Haley would be at work for hours. She expected Aaron to be at the office anyway, and the office expected Aaron to catch up on his sleep, and it was none of Jason’s business where Aaron chose to lay his head.
You fell in love with someone else, Hotch. Either it’s the end of your marriage or it’s a mistake.
He traced the whorl of Derek’s ear with his eyes, the breadth of his shoulders, the slope of his neck. Jason’s words faded from his mind as he rose to his feet, desperate to touch. “Come on, hot shot,” he drawled, coming up behind Derek to rest his chin on one broad shoulder, reveling in Derek’s shiver when he slid his hands under the other man’s shirt and over bare skin. “Take me to bed.”
“Just the invitation I was waiting for,” Derek breathed, and tugged Aaron toward the stairs.
-
Several months later, Aaron had developed a method, transformed from a disorganized cheater into an organized adulterer. The cell phone helped, as did Jason’s unspoken agreement to call Aaron’s cell, then Derek’s, then Derek’s house phone when they had a case. This system allowed Aaron to call Haley and claim to still be at the office or on a case, and she could continue to complain about the hours he worked, something she’d been doing ever since he’d joined the BAU. It wasn’t as if that had changed: ninety percent of Aaron’s time went to his job, and he divided the remaining ten percent between Derek, Haley, and sleep.
Jason didn’t ask any more questions after the first time, probably should have asked Aaron what the hell he was doing fighting for truth and justice while lying to his wife. Haley asked him to spend more time at home, but he’d been ignoring those requests for years. He’d made a place for himself at the BAU. He’d made a place for himself in Derek’s bed. Derek never asked for anything, not for help with the house, not for a ride when his bike wouldn’t start, not if Aaron would leave Haley and stay.
He never asked for anything at work either, but that was mostly because he argued instead. Especially after Richards left—after Jason chose Derek over Richards, Aaron realized—Derek spoke his mind, offered up his own ideas on the unsub and the way to run the case, even if those ideas contradicted something Jason or Aaron had said.
It had thrown Aaron at first. No one in Aaron’s life argued without bitterness, but Derek didn’t seem to be gearing up for a fight, wasn’t offended when Aaron countered Derek’s assertions with his own. Well, mostly. Aaron had shot him down once or twice without acknowledging what Derek had said, and Derek had called him SSA Hotchner for a week.
“He doesn’t respect the chain of command,” Aaron griped to Jason after the second time, studying the evidence boards with his arms folded tightly across his chest. Jason had sent Derek back to the last crime scene with Ford, their newest recruit, after Derek had brought up a detail Jason hadn’t noticed and after he’d disagreed with Aaron about the instructions he’d given the local PD.
Jason took his glasses off and laughed, slapped Aaron on the back. “Did I reenlist?” he asked, chuckled when Aaron’s frown deepened. “Hotch, if we ran this unit like the army we’d never catch a single unsub. And if I thought Morgan couldn’t follow orders,” he added more seriously, “then he wouldn’t be in the field.”
“He questions your authority,” Aaron pushed, frustrated that Derek thought he had the knowledge or the right to second guess a man who’d built the BAU.
“Aren’t you more upset that he questions your authority?” Jason riposted, and Aaron’s jaw muscle twitched. “You think he doesn’t respect you?” Aaron swallowed and looked away. Jason sighed. “Love really does blind people, then,” he murmured. “That man respects you a great deal, Hotch, which you’d see if you opened your eyes and looked. You’re upset that he follows his hunches and speaks his piece - the same qualities, I might add, that made you want him on the team.”
Detective Derek Morgan, fresh off of eighteen months of deep cover, twisting his coffee cup in his hands, willing to defy the police chief if it meant solving the case. Aaron had looked at him, perched at the edge of his chair, ready to take flight. He’d defied Jason, then, and added Detective Morgan to the case. He’d followed a hunch. Almost three years later, he’d do it again.
“He’s the man of his family, isn’t he?” Jason queried.
Aaron nodded. “Two sisters and a mom,” he confirmed. “His dad died when he was young.”
“And he played sports?”
“Football. He doesn’t play any more.” And that had always struck Aaron as odd, that Derek never suggested they throw the ball around, never insisted they put on the game.
“Quarterback, I’ll bet. Derek Morgan strategizes. He plans. He calls the plays.” Jason turned to face Aaron, pinned him with a look. “The only real question is, why haven’t you already figured this out?”
Derek was right about the crime scene, wrong about the local PD, unperturbed by either outcome because they solved the case before anyone else got hurt.
-
They made it to Quantico just after midnight, and Aaron followed Derek home. He crafted his opening statement on the drive, sifting through the tumult Jason’s question had left behind. Why hadn’t he already known just what kind of man Derek Morgan was? Had his skills failed him, or was Derek different with him than with everyone else? And if so, which man was the mask?
He meant to offload his thoughts on Derek once they made it to the living room, after the brief moment Aaron always took to look around the house and smile at the changes they’d made. I did that. But Derek shrugged out of his jacket in the entryway and his shirt rode up and Aaron had to have his hands there, fell to his knees and followed hands with tongue, all his other thoughts fading like mist in the sun.
“Impatient, aren’t we?” Derek said, laughter in his words, his teeth gleaming in the dark. His eyes sparkled as he stripped out of his shirt and used the distraction to lure Aaron up the stairs and to bed.
“Why don’t you argue with me when we’re at home?” Aaron finally asked, once they were naked and sated and his hair was damp with sweat, his head resting on Derek’s equally sweaty chest.
“What?” Derek responded, running his hand absentmindedly up and down Aaron’s back. “You’re delirious, gorgeous, go to sleep.”
Aaron lifted his head, set his chin on Derek’s chest so he could look him in the eyes. Derek’s eyebrows went up, but he took the cue and tucked his other arm behind his head.
“You don’t argue with me here,” he repeated, having pored over the evidence and drawn up his case. “I say let’s have Italian and we have Italian, I say let’s take a break and we take a break.”
“Yeah, because I’m not an asshole,” Derek huffed. “You’re mad that we don’t fight?” He stopped rubbing Aaron’s back, though, and Aaron knew he was getting close.
“You argue all the time at work,” he continued, and Derek rolled his eyes.
“And you hate it,” he pointed out, but Aaron kept talking.
“At least, you do now. You didn’t in the beginning, because …” Aaron blinked, and Derek’s face went carefully blank. “Because you thought Gideon might kick you off the team. Because you thought you didn’t belong.”
“Don’t profile me,” Derek warned him. “We don’t profile each other.”
“Derek.” Aaron was too flabbergasted to process Derek’s warning. Over a year, and somehow he hadn’t seen. “You can’t possibly think I’d leave.”
“I can’t possibly think you’d leave,” Derek echoed incredulously, twisting to dislodge Aaron from his chest. “Aaron, you can’t possibly think anything else.” You’re married, he didn’t say, but it was written all over his face. “How had you pictured this ending, exactly?”
Aaron hadn’t. He’d boxed Haley off in one corner of his life and Derek in another, he’d created a functioning system. He knew Derek would leave at some point. He’d wake up one morning and remember that he was smart and witty and so beautiful that men and women stopped in the street, and he’d wonder why he ever let Aaron Hotchner into his bed. And if by some miracle that didn’t happen, eventually Aaron would be killed on a case and everyone would move on, he assumed, but he’d never once considered that he could stand in front of Derek and choose to walk  away.
His slack-jawed expression betrayed his shock. Derek sighed. “Aaron, why does it matter? You said yourself it was just sex. Let’s forget it and go to bed,” he begged, sounding exhausted, but his weariness didn’t come from lack of sleep.
Aaron gazed at Derek and relented, didn’t know how else to ameliorate the man’s distress at an idea Aaron had never contemplated, that somehow he would walk out the door and leave Derek Morgan behind. He leaned in and kissed Derek softly, hummed when Derek tangled fingers in his hair.
“You’ll start arguing?” he demanded, laying on his side so he could study Derek’s face.
“Tomorrow,” Derek promised, didn’t ask why Aaron cared so much when he was just there to get laid. “I’ll tell you that your taste in bagels is terrible, and you always buy the wrong orange juice.” He caught Aaron’s hand in his, lifted it to his lips and pressed kisses against each knuckle, down the back of his hand to his wrist. “Will that do?”
“For now,” Aaron compromised, because there was still something fragile in Derek’s voice, something he hadn’t solved. Because Derek could hide it well—had hidden it for this long—but he still believed that Aaron wouldn’t stay, and Aaron didn’t know how to prove him wrong.
They went to sleep, but Derek held on to his hand.
11 notes · View notes
jlf23tumble · 2 years
Note
Hey Jen. I think you’re superb like in a (not to quote anyone but) you can sit and kind of admire what you’re like kind of way. So thanks for being awesome and enjoyable to this internet stranger. In unrelated matter, do you have any angst filled fics? I mostly read HL but I’ll dive into whatever as long as the pain is there. (If I can give a preference, I’m not so much into magic, fantasy, wolves, and sorts.) In these unprecedented times, I think I’d still need a happy ending though after the characters suffer terribly lol. If you find time to put something together for little old moi, I’d appreciate it very much. Thanks! Keep on keeping on! You’re wonderful!
<bryan_cranston_me_question_mark.gif> !!!!!!!!!! This is so incredibly kind, I think you’re pretty wonderful, too! I feel like I’m probably going to let you down here, though, because I generally don’t go too hard for angst (for one, it usually translates into longer fics, for two, some areas of true angst are just things I don’t really want to read for pleasure, like messy cheating aftermaths, abuse, character death, etc., and for three, I get lost in the sauce if I try too hard to dissect if something actually IS major angst versus, say, intense pining), but I’ll do my best! I’m going to give my dirty dozen here--my top 12 for hl--then I’ll dive deeper under the cut, with authors I love who write so much angst it’s tough to pick just one, plus other fandoms, too, in case you want to dive deeper.
Fertile Ground, Blake, 4.4k. Okay, in truth, so much of what Blake writes has gorgeous lashings of angst, so definitely read all of their fic (every fandom), but this one?? HOLY MOLY, it deserves to be separated and celebrated, Harry’s angst about fertility, howwwwww is this 4.4k, I ask, constantly?
sensitive to pressure, momentofclarity/ @gaycousinlarry, 4.4k. Hockey players and pubes and scent kinks, and yet there’s still this current of angst that thrums underneath, man oh man, would I read everything in this universe.
Everything You Do, jishler/ @jishlerfics, 6.6k. The third part of a stunning series, this one focusing on Harry’s gender identity and the Dunkirk haircut, and if you saw those recent gifsets with him wearing the beanie during training, yeah, this fic is alllll about it
i’m a captain on a jealous sea, devilinmybrain/ @thedevilinmybrain, 15k. A lot of jealousy on Louis’s part about all things Gryles, both real and imagined, I’m loving the vibes this author brings to it all.
taking tips and getting stoned, alison, 24k. I don’t think I can sum this one up quickly, but taxi driver Louis comes across singer Harry, and a lot of things change after that? God, that’s bad, but this fic is not!
hard to confess, @hereforlou, 24k. I adore Maggie’s writing so much, and she’s another one where I could rec at least three more here, but the one where Harry hides that he’s pregnant until the very last second? It’ll forever be the scorpio of mpreg fics, and I say that with the highest praise.
Maybe I Miss You series, 13ways, 28k. THIS SERIES, ooooooooffffff, the angstometer is off the chart, and then the last installment? Harry in makeup? This after all the sexting and boxing and hate sex and finally they figure their shit out? All of it is so good, and I’m eternally sad the author moved on (but jesus, I get it).
hush., Wankerville, 41k. Easily in my top five fics of any fandom, the softness and the cruelty, the growth and the real-life feels, an American high school AU that is still stunning and must have blown doors off back in that particular day (I’d also rec this author’s other work, esp. for angst).
every universe but ours, 28finelines, 49k. Okay, so this one has a little bit of magic that might annoy you, but it’s mostly in a multiverse way, like you’re reading a ton of AUs, but the theme itself has an angsty core, fwiw!
Truly, Madly, Deeply (10 Things I Hate about You), sunsetmog, 54k. I know I talk a LOT about this author’s ongoing wip, Harry Styles Cooks... (which is phenomenal, please do yourself a favor if you haven’t already), but this one? Angst ahoy, Harry auditions for XFUK without telling his boyfriend/friends, becomes a success, then comes home.
Time Passed, coffinofachimera/ @belialsmiracles, 66k. For every fic rec list I make, I always have at least one fic where I say, if you read nothing else, read this one, AND THIS IS IT, all categories, it’s simply astounding, life-changing, world-ending, and it kills me that more people haven’t left comments, but if it keeps shitty comments away, I’m all for it, I’ll protect this author/fic with my life. I can’t even begin to describe it, but if you want to know what the songs Fine Line or She are about, here you go! AIMH, Tokyo Harry!
The World Turned Upside Down, dogslpdi/ @dogsliampaynedoesntinstagram, 71k. I’m really iffy on historical fics, but this fic! This fic nails it! The detail and the emotion, the way you can feel the effects of the strike in so many ways, but also how HIV/AIDS is not that far off on the horizon, it’s just so well done. Plus, I adore Ralph’s humor and the way she tagged this both “minor angst” and “miner angst,” and if I can’t end an angst rec on a light note, what more can I do?
Let’s start with things beyond hl...lately, I’ve been reading a LOT of Untamed fic, and I feel like I should just point you to Liv’s masterlists because they are angst city (and fun city, too), plus she’s done a really good job of labeling them accordingly (right now, my fave angst is from chunk no. 2, Fire in the Blood, which is a case fic, but oof, I can’t wait to read even more in these parts).
I’m also just now getting into Merlin and reading a lot in that fandom, but it’s a bit scattershot at this stage (I haven’t finished the show yet, and I’m still working my way through one author who wrote 100+ fics, all of which are incredible; if you’re curious for something recent from over there, Phoenix wrote a short, angsty one that’s good and ouchy, this tangled thicket).
Speaking of Phoenix, EVERYTHING she has written for Cars (Lightning/Doc) is incredibly angsty, usually with that happy ending finale--I’d rec my current fave, but it’s a wip, so no happy ending yet, wahhh. Check out this link to the rest of them, though, I rec ‘em all!
I still have to watch the source material, but everything anyone’s sent me from Cobra Kai is INCREDIBLY angsty and so, so good, so I’m gonna bet there’s a fair bit of fix-it fic in my future, but we shall see! 
Now onto the hl angst, ideally things you haven’t already read a million times before. Like I said earlier, this one’s kind of tough because I’m not into intense angst (major character/close family member death, messy cheating aftermath--though @kingsofeverything’s Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is fantastic, if you’re into that [messy cheating aftermath, not death]; actually, a lot of Lauren’s longer fics have a dose of angst, so dive away!)
Speaking of authors who regularly deliver angst, I have quite a few that I would say just go check out their works because almost every single thing they’ve done has it in varying degrees, you won’t be disappointed! These authors primarily write the hl pairing, and I definitely rec ‘em all: HappyPrincess, got2ghost, mediaville, and sedfierisentio. Authors I love who write Harry/other characters and do it in a hella angsty way include vondrostes, sulkingroom, radiodurans, and wishforwishes (I swear, I still think about call me anything you like at least once a month).
46 notes · View notes
mysticsparklewings · 1 year
Text
Stay Away from this Art App
Tumblr media
Hey there, Sparklers. Long time no "Mystic feels the need to open a discussion about this thing that happened that she's not happy about." Let's change that, shall we?
TL;DR: A new "social media for artists" app lured a lot of artists in without making it clear they were going to turn into an NFT platform, and I'm mad about it. If this dissection does not interest you or you've come here specifically to tell my why I should not be upset, kindly go somewhere else that is not here.
Some of you remember back in September I posted this Works-In-Progress (WIP) image that contained, among other things, a sketch for a Draw This In Your Style [DTIYS] challenge that was taking place at the time on Instagram. In the WIP Description, I mentioned the event had introduced me to a "pretty neat app," but I didn't want to say much more until the final art was ready to post.
I had a lot on my plate even when I posted the WIP, and of all the things I had a choice in cutting out, the DTIYS made the most sense, so that sketch now sits abandoned and will either never be finished, or if it is, it won't be for the original DTIYS anymore and I'll repurpose it for another project. So, likewise, I never got around to discussing what that "pretty neat app" was. Until now, though I regret this is the way things turned out. 
You see, the DTIYS in question had joining the app and posting there as one of the entry requirements, so when I first came across the post and thought I'd get around to entering, I went ahead and signed up so I wouldn't have to worry about it later.
The app in question was Bubblehouse, and the main reason I thought the app was so neat because it features two different ways to post art that I haven't seen anywhere and I hope DESPERATELY that more social media platforms adopt, especially considering the point we're leading up to today.
Among the "normal" ways to post--As a single finished picture, or you can post multiple finished images at once--You had two other options: A. Post a "before and after" image where the idea is you post the beginning sketch or the art alongside the full finished version, and the viewer is given a slider a the bottom of the image to expose more or less or either the sketch or the finished art. B. You could select 3 or more images, each one showing a different stage of the art in-process like the sketch, the lines/inking, the flat color, and then the final finished image. (Though most artists, myself included, would usually opt to put the full-finished piece at the beginning and then worry about the process shots, since the app would use whichever image you placed first for this method as the thumbnail.)
Beyond that, the app didn't really strike me as anything special. Or, at least, not anything more note-worthy that one of the dozens of "art-focused" social media attempts we've seen in recent years.
The only other thing that managed to catch my attention about the app is the comments. I could go into great detail here explaining why exactly the comments I've received on Bubblehouse gave me pause in the first place, but the bottomline to that tangent is there just seemed to be too many "gushing" comments that still said very little about the artwork, to a point where I become suspicious as to if the app had some kind of deal with bots or the employees in an attempt to artificially bolster the user experience. 
And in my efforts to google Bubblehouse and see if anyone else had similar suspicions (which, for the record, I did find at least one other person who thought the app's use of bots was overbearingly obvious, if that means anything to you), I discovered that apparently Bubblehouse has taken major steps to turn itself into an NFT buying and selling platform. 
Subsequently, you might say my "bubble" had "burst." 
Before we continue, please know I am not an expert in NFTs, Cryptocurrency, or how any of that stuff works and therefore am not the person qualified to explain those things. If you would like an explanation from somebody who understands those things far better than I and thus can more effectively explain why NFTs are generally not a good thing, please see this rundown via Reddit.
That said, I assume a lot of people who choose to read this will at least be able to understand that at present, a large portion of the art community is completely against NFTs for several reasons including the fact that the NFT marketplace is currently rotten with art theft--People just grabbing whatever art they can find on the internet and minting it as NFTs to sell, where the real artist never sees a dime and usually isn't aware this has been done. 
To be clear, NFTs are not the only instance of rampant art theft on the internet and shouldn't be treated as such [and art theft isn't the only thing wrong with NFTs), but I think it's telling even DeviantArt saw the problem and has made at least a few steps to try and do something about it, even if there are holes/flaws in their plan(s). 
Anyway. My point is that it was one of the rudest awakenings I've had in a while to discover this was Bubblehouse's fate; That this app, which had appeared on the scene originally marketing itself simply as another art-based social media alternative, had just pulled such a cruel bait-and-switch.
And if you don't want to take my word for it that that's what happened--A Bait and Switch--I implore you to do as I did: If you start searching for "Bubblehouse" online, you'll notice articles about the NFT nonsense don't start popping up until September 28/29th of this year. I told Google to only show me posts from before September 25th, and sure enough--there were a few links about the Bubblehouse app that popped up, but they were generally positive and speaking of it as an alternative to Instagram. There were a few Reddit posts, and none of the replies mentioned anything about NFTs. 
Just to make sure I wasn't imagining things, I even checked the App Store page via the Wayback Machine. I lucked out--the page had been archived all of once, on April 5th of this year (I assume when it was added to the store in the first place), and you can see for yourself that there are no mentions of NFTs anywhere, whereas if you look now, the app page specifically says NFT stuff is "coming soon." 
Personally, I don't believe this is a natural progression of business, either, because in my opinion, there are two options as to how we got here:
1. Bubblehouse was conceptualized to be an NFT platform from the very beginning, but whoever is running the show realized they needed to draw people to the platform first to establish a user base and look more attractive & trustworthy to potential customers. Considering the generally harsh feelings artists have towards NFTs, the solution was simple: Market the app towards artists and build up an audience...while not mentioning the eventual NFT implementation. 
2. Bubblehouse was conceptualized purely as the art-centric platform it originally marketed itself as, but somebody running the show saw greater, more lucrative potential in the NFT market and decided to jump ship with the established user base already in tow. 
The second option isn't impossible, of course. There is also the possibly there's an Option 3 that I haven't considered. 
Why then do I believe Option 1 to be correct? Aside from the suspicious comments I mentioned earlier, and the fact you currently cannot delete your Bubblehouse account (at least not easily from inside the app) there is one semi-glaring more complicated reason.
Inevitably, whenever a new art-focused social platform pops up--usually marketing itself as an alternative to Instagram or DeviantArt--a specific problem other social media outlets don't really have pops up: How do you attract non-artists to the site so the artists can find an audience and the people running the website can benefit from that? 
There's a lot of logistics and inner-workings as to why that's a problem, but the gist is that "Artists supporting Artists" can only get a platform so far. 
This, and again I point you to the fact that NFTs are not terribly popular with artists at present, strike me as very good reasons why Bubblehouse would plan to become an NFT-centric platform but hide that information until they were ready for the big reveal. 
Think of it: How do you make your platform look trustworthy both to artists wishing to share their work--maybe some of them even have a passing interest in trying to make some of these NFT things they've heard so much about just out of sheer curiosity--and NFT customers that have never heard of your platform before? 
Answer: Don't tell the artists what you're planning on doing and make yourself a very attractive new place to post, so they'll come post their work and fill the platform up, bring in more users and make it look trustworthy. Surely with so many artists already posting there without NFT integration, it must be a good place to be! [Said with heavy sarcasm.]
Just as a legal disclaimer, I have no proof that's what Bubblehouse's intentions were. This is just my opinion based what information is available and the current state of the online world. 
Even so, you Sparklers can probably tell how infinitely frustrated and angry I am by this move regardless of how it came about based solely on the fact that I'm bothering to post about it at all. I'm not usually one to bother with big public displays just because some big company that doesn't care about my opinion did something I don't like, because if I were I'd have no free time for anything else.
However, I make an exception this time because it seems to me on top of everything else, Bubblehouse may have used manipulation and deception in a more direct way to accomplish its goal. 
Remember how before I said--One of the requirements for participating in the DTIYS was joining Bubblehouse. The hosting artist was specifically partnered with them, per the Instagram caption. And they weren't the only one in that situation, either. Another DTIYS where the hosting was partnered with Bubblehouse concluded just a few days ago, and while for their DTIYS, joining Bubblehouse wasn't required, it was greatly encouraged. 
I couldn't confirm if either of those two hosting artists had made it clear publicly how they felt about NFTs  beforehand, but I suspect whatever the case that Bubblehouse didn't tell the artists in question about their plans anyway, so I'm not sure it mattered. [This is also why I'm not naming these artists here--if they don't support NFTs and Bubblehouse didn't tell them what they were planning on doing, it's not their fault. And if they support NFTs anyway...well, partnering with Bubblehouse actually works out for them, I guess.]
Of course, Bubblehouse is very clearly partnering with NFT-making and -favorable artists now that those features are starting to roll out, which muddies the waters a bit, but I digress. 
The takeaway I'm getting at, based on the popularity of those DTIYS' (the one that ended most recently in particular) along with any other pre-NFT news partnerships that Bubblehouse did, in my opinion, make all the sense in the world if I'm correct about their plans to bait-and-switch the app's purpose. 
To add to my questions from before: How do you draw (no pun intended) artists to your new platform and get the word out in artistic communities to build it up?
Answer: Pick a few fairly popular artists on a competing platform (like Instagram) and offer to do a partnership with them where they encourage their followers to join the app, especially if you can work in it being a "Draw This In Your Style" event. This would mean the new app users are very likely to have at least one thing to post and create a false sense of a pre-existing community that's already thriving with widespread challenges and events. It makes the app look more trustworthy because they partnered with "your favorite Instagram artist" with seemingly no ill intentions whatsoever, just a desire to build a user base...
Of course, without the bait-and-switch context, that plan actually sounds pretty harmless on paper. Heck, if anything, it's a good idea for any new artist-based platform trying to build itself up.
The issue hinges all on that alleged NFT bait-and-switch, particularly if they didn't tell the artists they partnered with what they were planning.
But for better or worse, this is all just speculation. I have no proof Bubblehouse was planning this bait-and-switch from the beginning. Just a feeling and suspicions based on what facts are available to me.
Whatever the case, whether this was planned or not, whether Bubblehouse intentionally kept their plans a secret from the artists they partnered with beforehand or not, whether the choice to not make it very easy and very obvious how to delete your Bubblehouse account was a calculated move or not...I'm still angry and frustrated this is how it has to be. 
And to add insult to injury...As far as I can tell, hardly anyone is talking about this. It seems the majority of the artists posting on the app have no idea the NFT push is happening--And why would they? Bubblehouse appears to have made no in-app announcement (I'm sure they recognize that would've been a terrible idea), and unless you have reason to believe there's something the app isn't telling you (and you downloaded it before the App Store page was changed to mention NFTs) what reason do you have to google it and potentially be exposed to the news? 
Perhaps most frustrating of all though--Bubblehouse will get a way with it. Even if once NFTs become un-ignorable on the app, even if enough artists leave that it's no longer viable, there will be no apology issued. There will be no sympathy for the people that feel blindsided by the bait-and-switch nature of their decision. By that point, the damage will have already been done and the only thing to do will be to move on and try to forget it happened. 
I don't want to move on. I don't want to have to forget this app that had such cool posting formats went out of it's way to support something I simply can't on principle. 
But what else can I do? Is it really worth it to keep posting there just because they have a couple of unique formats, when supporting that also means indirectly supporting what seems to be their main position going forward? 
I have made a lot of exceptions and overlooked many disagreements with various companies over things like this over the years, because you can only boycott and refuse to support so many companies before you start running out of "safe" options altogether. This time, I don't think I can. Not because this the worst thing that could've possible happened, but rather because even I consider the only reasons I'd have to stick with Bubblehouse as incredibly flimsy reasoning. 
So then, consider this my open letter to other art-focused social sites to please work to implement Bubblehouse's "Before/After" and "Evolution" posting methods so I can still use those features without also having to support a NFT-focused platform. 
Aside from that, maybe obviously I also just wanted to put the word out that this was happening, even though I'm quite sure it won't change anything. And I suppose you can consider this something of a disclaimer in the event someone finds my as-of-yet-un-delete-able Bubblehouse account and assumes my presence on the app means I support NFTs 100%. I don't, in case that wasn't clear enough for you. 
Admittedly, I am considering making a series of images to post over there using their unique posting methods that say things like, "This App was a Bait-and-Switch" or "Did you know Bubblehouse wants to become an NFT focused platform?" And other such things "exposing" the app's real nature to its user base, for however little good it would do. 
I still might since I can't delete my account anyway, but I have much more important things to worry about where I'm sure my time would be better spent. If you already have a Bubblehouse account and find yourself wanting to do much of the same, I encourage you to try. It likely won't affect Bubblehouse as a company in a meaningful way, but at the very least it may enlighten some users who are anti-NFT and push them to leave/stop using the app as intended to the same effect. 
And with that, I think I've said all I can on the subject. I'm tired, dear Sparklers. Forgive the cliche, but it is just so exhausting that nearly every day the internet does something like this that reduces my faith in humanity just that bit more. 
To anyone that made it this far, thank you for listening to this overly long rant that probably isn't going to amount to much in the grand scheme of things. If nothing else, I appreciate that you took the time out of your day to do so--it's the little things that restore my faith in humanity, and that's far more valuable than whatever damage Bubblehouse has done.
Sparkle On, ~Mystic~
4 notes · View notes
silyabeeodess · 2 years
Text
So... Last night, I read the Balan Wonderworld novel.  It’s... something.  It's not bad--I did enjoy it and it does have its moments--but there’s bits that don’t really seem to work as well as they could’ve and they can add up.  To avoid major spoilers, like last time, I’ll put my thoughts below the cut, so be warned:
Most of my concerns are issues with the individual characters, but I’ll start by talking about the book itself first.  Because there are so many people and themes in it to discuss, with the plot covering every stage and each of the residents’ backstories, you have to move through events quickly: We don’t really spend enough time with any of the characters to know them beyond some basic traits and what they need.  Fine for a game and with visuals, sure, but not so much for a story.  Things can feel like they’re moving a bit too fast, which I can excuse because of the large cast number; however, the writing only amplifies the problem and makes it feel like the book is being padded with wasted, repetitive dialogue that takes away from the story. I want you to imagine taking the 12 Days of Christmas and turning it into a novel--not with the things divided up into each individual day, but each chapter repeating all of the other days that came before it.  It’s stale, it’s droning, and you as a reader will just end up skipping through material after a while.  The book does this through the visions the characters share of Balan and Fighter/Emma, with Streetbeat/Leo and the residents each having them with slight differences in-between.  As you meet each individual resident, one by one, they repeat a lot of the same things over and over.  Not only that, but then you have to loop back through them and their stages a second time as Leo saves everyone.  It’s not quite as bad as my 12 Days of Christmas example, but it does get to the point where you’re ready to say, “I get it! Your lover gave you calling birds, hens, doves, and a partridge--please, just move on already!” There are such easy fixes to this issue too, like having characters already meeting in each other’s stages to cover them together, maybe summarizing the differences in their stages to set up Leo’s expectations before he sees how distorted they become later on since he’s going to have to visit each one anyway.  Instead, time is wasted that could’ve been spent on descriptions or building the characters in other ways.      
I think the one character that suffers the most because of this Fighter/Emma.  Because she’s placed in the story with the same mystery as Balan and viewed as a villain by the rest of the cast up until the end, she’s constantly being sidelined even though she’s a main character.  She’s used more-so as a plot device for Leo, running off to do her own thing when she’s no longer needed, and then gets no conclusion where all of the other characters do.  It’s like that meme where a person asks, “What about Emma?” and everyone just repeats the question dismissively as an answer. Again, I get it, we’re following Leo’s story here just as we would only be following one of them in the game, but it’s bad to keep dismissing her all while using her as a necessary key to saving everyone else.  I guess it’s implied at the end that the Wonderworld gang might seek her out too, as they did with each other, but she’s barely a footnote.  Balan and Lance suffer a little bit too, but do make enough satisfying reappearances that it’s not as much of an issue.  
I kind of want to avoid talking about the writing style further, as I can’t help but wonder how much might be more of something like a translation issue; however, I will say that if you plan on reading this with a young reader, be ready to explain some extensive vocabulary to them.  The style itself isn’t very flowery, the book isn’t a heavy text, but there are some words they won’t understand that can’t be deciphered by using the surrounding text.  Like I said, the book doesn’t have a strong focus on description: Moreover though, there’s not as many illustrations paced through the book as you would imagine based on the preview.  You end have having to rely on what you already know going off those first images at the start of the book introducing the characters or if you’ve played the game. It’s not a big thing, but I can see it being a small problem if you chose to read the novel alone.  I tend to lean toward styles with heavier description in both my reading and writing though, so that might be a bit of my personal bias as well.  Some of you may prefer it as it is.
Now getting on to the individual characters... Oh boy, is there some stuff to go through.  Let me start with the one I’m actually a little uncomfortable with, as her actions affect some of the other characters as well in major ways: The Clocktower Kid/Cass Milligan.  Throughout the story, we’re given clues that she has a big crush on Pensive Perriot/Attilio Caccini--who, as most of you likely already know--is in love with a woman who works with him at his theme park as a princess.  By the end of the book, it’s revealed that there’s a near decade-long gap between when the two stepped into Wonderworld and that Cass is the princess...  Thankfully, Attilio showed no interest in Cass as her child-self and this means that they’re actually close to the same age, but let’s unpack the assortment of other problems this brings up.  1.)  This goes beyond a childhood crush with someone older that most people get over: The girl devoted a decade of her life to getting the princess role so she could be with the guy.  If it was a year or two between teenagers, that would be one thing: This borderlines obsession.  2.) She knows who Attilio is from the beginning and waits for him to confess his love to her before revealing her identity.  She says it’s because she didn’t want to risk messing up the timeline, but her own actions could’ve done exactly that had the princess role been meant for literally any other girl on the entire planet.  She didn’t know that she was meant to be the princess: All she knew was that she wanted to be with Attilio.  3.)  Either Attilio just kind of accepts all of this or, again, the pacing won’t give us some much-needed details, because the next thing we know we’re getting to their engagement and honeymoon months later.  Keep in mind: While she waits a decade for him, his confession takes place barely a few hours after he leaves Wonderworld.  I think the guy would need at least a little time to process everything.  4.)  While the book seems to stay close to the game’s canon from what I’ve seen, this particular relationship is handled even weirder in its cutscenes.  For one thing, it’s not revealed that Cass is the princess.  For another, despite this, we see her with Attilio anyway as her young, childhood self--granted, without any big hints to a romance between them. I’ll let you dissect what you will from that.
Let me get to The Checkered King/Cal Suresh next.  In the novel, a couple of the characters had their backstories tweaked.  These changes don’t interfere with what we see from the game’s cutscenes, but they do add more context to them that changes what particular issues the characters are suffering through.  In Cal’s case, his obsession with his champion title in chess led him to ignore his dying wife, adding an extreme sense of guilt and longing that wasn’t there when we believed this was just a matter of his pride and sense of identity alone.  Enter Cass, who reappears in her timeline before this death takes place, finds out who Cal is... and apparently does nothing to warn him. We can use her timeline excuse, but this is someone’s dying wife we’re talking about--she even sees him grieving over her in an illusion as they’re all leaving Wonderworld.  Even if no one could do anything for Mrs. Suresh, even if Cal didn’t listen to Cass and dismissed everything she had to say about wasting precious hours better spent with the people you love, I think an attempt at talking to him would at least be necessary.  No though, the book just ignores that while the two of them and Attilio eat snacks together.            
Cal isn’t the only one who had the added trauma of death: They did it to The Watcher/Sana Hudson too.  In her case, she was trying to protect some endangered birds that were killed--both directly and indirectly--by the construction workers in her area, leading her to despise humanity for its “greed and selfishness.”  Now, her situation/feelings is/are perfectly understandable, especially given how the construction workers in the story are portrayed.  What doesn’t really work is the context surrounding the issue and her actions involving the event. Now, I admit this first point is a bit weak as I can’t speak for the regulations across every country and we don’t know exactly where Sana is from, but a lot of places have heavy regulations and work with big organizations to protect endangered species.  Not to mention this is a bit of a heavy topic with much-needed context for a book like this to properly cover.  This fact isn’t even glossed over though and the workers have no problem cutting down the birds’ tree despite how this would likely cause massive legal trouble for them and be a major deterrent as a result.  As to the “greed and selfishness of man,” this doesn’t really work well considering that the workers are trying to build a residential area.  A cost to the environment?  Yes.  However, it was likely ordered for the benefit of the community.  We see this debated a little more evenly in the conclusion to Sana’s story; however, we’re also pretty much told “Yeah, humans are terrible and can never change. Pick birds over them,” beforehand.  Lastly, Sana’s own actions--or rather, lackthereof.  When the birds lose their tree, their eggs are destroyed and the parents stay behind out of their love for their deceased offspring rather than leave for winter later on, resulting in their deaths.  To try to prevent this, Sana begs the birds to leave... Let me repeat that: She begs the birds to leave.  The problem?  They’re birds.  They’re animals.  And, outside of the theatre, this is supposedly a world just like ours.  You can’t reason with a bird like a person.  She could’ve just as easily tried to capture the birds and brought them somewhere safer herself or called someone who would.  If that didn’t work, at least those actions would make a lot more sense for the hatred she feels towards other humans: Instead, this decision makes their deaths kinda her fault too for leaving them there despite knowing what would happen is she did. 
I don’t know how I feel about the added issues involving death.  Yes, there’s a lot surrounding that theme alone to cover, but part of Balan Wonderworld’s charm is confronting all these people with extremely diverse problems, some stemming from issues beyond their control and some their own, internal struggles. The inclusion of death might have made the consequences of events more traumatic, but I think to a detriment.  It doesn’t affect Sana as much, but Cal’s case is the worst, as his wife’s passing echoes the regret and mourning we already get from The Lady/Iben Bia’s story when it could’ve been it’s own, independent thing focusing on pride, identity, and a sense of fulfillment that we see more in his game counterpart.  I can’t help but feel that we miss out on a wider range of messages by emphasizing on the aspect of death so much.         
Lastly, let’s get to Balan and Lance.  Overall, I greatly enjoyed the twist at the end with the connection between their characters.  The problems I have with them, honestly, I debate whether or not are even problems at all as they do address real concerns that perfectly fit what individuals in their circumstances would go through.  First Lance, then Balan, they’ve spent a millennia helping others repair the imbalance in their hearts.  People come, people go, and they’re left behind, forever alone in that that theatre.  It would be crushing.  Lance already broke under the weight of that pain, which is why Balan exists--and now he’s likely doomed to continue the cycle as he suffers this same degree of loneliness.  My main issue is that there’s so much to cover about this that we’re barely given a teaspoon of.  The author couldn’t really give us much, as this book’s main focus was on Wonderworld’s inhabitants.  It feels though that there’s something being built-up that we might not ever get to see completed depending on how successful the franchise it, which is sad if that’s the case.  (Hey though: That’s where we fans usually step in, right?)          
Secondary to that is that there’s a level of hypocrisy to Balan, Lance, and how they engage with the inhabitants.  I kind of love it, but this is where I’m a little conflicted since Balan is supposed to be the one helping people fix their hearts.  Two general themes that carry over greatly among all of the inhabitants is the importance of love and friendship, how we rely on others to grow and save us from the worst of ourselves.  Balan, however, is required to stay detached from others no matter how much it hurts or what it will inevitably lead to, as everyone must leave Wonderworld eventually.  It’s a conflict of interest.  Ironically enough, it’s Lance’s decision to trap Leo in a stage and his overwhelming longing for true connections that allow the inhabitants to find and help each other.  It’s bad that Balan and Lance couldn’t take the lessons they gave others and apply it to themselves, because their situation is so extreme. 
Furthermore, there’s a hypocrisy between Balan and Lance in their decision to wipe the inhabitants memories.  It’s revealed not to be a magical phenomena caused by the theatre itself once people leave it as many of us thought, but rather a conscious choice Balan makes--just like Lance.  However, while Lance does it to keep the inhabitants contently trapped inside their hearts, we’re not really given a reason for Balan’s actions. Memories, good and bad, are a vital piece of us: We reflect on them as we grow to maintain the lessons we learned in those moments that make us who we are.  We see the danger of lost memories not just with Lance, but with Balan as well as part of Sana’s conclusion alludes to a potential relapse.  It was her connection to the people she met in Wonderworld that allowed her to recognize one of them--Eis Glover--back home and keep her grounded in another, potentially shattering instant of her life. Similarly, Leo only managed to restore his imbalance because of his friendships with the other inhabitants--friendships he was destined to lose the moment he walked out of the theatre had Balan taken everyone’s memories.  This too, I feel, could’ve caused Leo to relapse.  If so, Balan’s choice to let them keep their memories of Wonderworld likely prevented them from needing to come back to the theatre--at least not as often as they may have needed to otherwise.  Let’s get to the question Lance brings up at the end: “Honestly, enough with the self-deception.  You normally take everyone’s memories when they leave, so why this time did you make an exception?” It could be that Balan simply didn’t want to be forgotten anymore.  It could also be that he loved them enough that he didn’t want them to suffer to the extent where they had to return to the theatre even if it meant there was a chance he wouldn’t see them again.  That idea would beg a second question though: Why did Balan erase the memories of every inhabitant who came before them?   (If it isn’t obvious by now, this scene was my favorite bit in the whole book.)    
I know this whole post seems to be mostly a series of complaints, but I did enjoy the book overall: I just have a tendency to look at every detail and, when things don’t work, they stay in my mind for a long while.  Like I said at the start, the novel isn’t a bad read, it just has some bad points.  If you’re already a fan of the game, you’ll probably enjoy it too.  If not, I’d recommend checking out some of the other content available--like the video previews/cutscenes introducing the characters--before stepping into this.   
23 notes · View notes
diaryofabeautyfiend · 2 years
Text
Tumblr media
Small Time Witch (16)
You had your phone on silent the entire time you were shopping. Once you realized you checked your notifications. You had a text and missed call from Steve a voicemail from your therapist and a text from Tony. You called Steve back. His message seemed to be the most urgent.
“Hey. What’s up?”
“Where are you?” He sounded upset.
“In the city shopping. Why? What’s going on?”
“Did you see your doctor today?” Snitch.
“No. Look I know what you are going to say. I think I really have a handle on everything, Steve. I don’t want to see Dr. Calloway anymore.”
“Good. No, baby, that’s good. Don’t take anymore of those pills. Come back to the compound as soon as possible. We need to talk.”
“Steve you are scaring me.”
“Everything is fine, doll. Come on home.” You drove as fast as the law allowed. Steve met you outside of the gate. He stopped you before you could pull in and jumped in the passenger seat. Wanda and Sam got in the back and Bucky followed on the bike. “Just drive.” He pulled the radio out of your dash and told you to kill the navigation.
“We need to get somewhere out of SHIELD and Tony’s reach.” You bit your lip knowing exactly where to go. You started driving towards the freeway to head north.
“I have a place but you have to promise not to lose your shit when we get there. Promise me, Steve.” You tapped your fingers on the wheel and chewed your lip raw.
“I promise. Want to tell me what I’m walking in to?”
“Uh. My house. Not the one that was burned down. The new one.”
“When did you buy a house?” You were silent and started to tear up a little.
“Heimdall! I know you can hear me. Tell Thor to meet us at our house.” You wouldn’t look at Steve. You could feel his anger building. “You promised, Steve.”
“Baby, when you said ‘our house’ what did you mean?” He was gripping the arm rest so tight he almost snapped it off. He knew the answer to the question. He just wanted to hear you say it. You didn’t answer. You were concentrating on keeping the mood from escalating in the car. You were scared and it would be really easy to lose control at this moment. “Y/N I need you to answer me.”
“Loki built a house on the land that my family owns. He may or may not be living there. I don’t know because I haven’t talked to him in almost a year.” You put your hand on his arm and he pulled away.
“Nope. You don’t get to tell me how to feel right now, Y/N. I thought when you took that bracelet off he was out of your life. Out of our lives. That was a big deal for me.”
“It was a big deal for me too. I only found out about the house a couple of months ago. It’s a gift.”
“That’s a pretty big fucking gift. I can’t fucking believe you right now.” The rest of the ride was silent. Sam and Wanda looked out the window. The only sound you heard was the growl of Steve’s bike behind you.
The road went from paved to gravel to forest floor. You traveled far off the main drive. You arrived at the glen that was hidden in the shadows of a the mountains save for the beam of sunshine that shone down like a spotlight. There was a patch of grass that was singed where Thor likely landed.
You were trying so hard to hide your emotions but it was so beautiful. You took a deep breath getting a nose full of the mimosa that was now in full bloom. Wanda held your hand. “It’s stunning. I can’t believe he did all of this.”
The five of you walked into the gate. Loki was waiting in the doorway. “This is not exactly how I envisioned you seeing the place.”
“Thought she’d be alone?” Steve said blowing past him.
“Nice to see you too, Captain Rogers.”
“Don’t. Please” you begged. “Steve, honey. Can we have a seat and talk about why we’re here?” You gathered in the kitchen so Steve could explain. He confessed to knowing about the medication but not exactly what it was. He said he knew that Dr. Calloway worked for Fury and that the operation in Alaska was a rescue mission. He still hadn’t figured out the rest.
“I promise you I had no idea what that medication was not until I spoke to Agatha and Professor Xavier. Tony does and that’s why we’re here.”
“Steve, you should have come to me. The good news is I know what Aconite is. It’s been used for centuries as a poison and, in some varieties to help with anxiety. It slows the heart rate. Luckily I know an antidote. Plus I minored in chemistry and I’ve been working with Stephen Strange a literal medical doctor who helped me compound a quick dissolving tablet to neutralize the Aconite.”
“I’m sorry. I thought I was protecting you. I should have talked to you. I would never willingly hurt you. Do you understand that?” He hugged you tight and kissed you. You nodded your head and hugged him back but you were still hurt.
Loki beamed with pride. You were always one step ahead of these idiots. What a clever little witch. It irritated him to his core that you met Steve with understanding and compassion rather than blind rage when he lied to you. You were clouded by your feelings for him.
“So what’s the plan, Cap? Do we go on this mission?” Sam asked. While they discussed a plan and you excused yourself to explore. Every detail was as you imagined right down to the door knobs and drawer pulls. Loki left a clone of himself in the kitchen so he could join you.
“What do you think? Did I get it right?” he whispered. You slipped your hand in his and squeezed.
“It’s perfect. Thank you, Loki. I love it so much here. I’m sorry I’m seeing it this way.” He didn’t let go of your hand right away.
“I’m just glad you’re here. I do admit I thought it would be just the two of us. But, there’s plenty of room. I’d better get back.” He pressed his lips hard to the back of your hand. You heard Steve calling from the kitchen.
“We’re going to stay the night here and go back to the compound in the morning. Until we figure all of this out you stay and we’ll come back to get you. I trust you’re safe here.” Steve explained. You went back to the bedroom to try to get some rest. Loki took the couch. He grabbed some blankets from the linen closet and winked at you as he went down the hall.
“Baby, I’m gonna check on everyone to make sure they’re set for the night. Why don’t you go take a bath? I’ll be back in a sec.” Steve checked on Bucky and Sam who were sharing a room. The bed was large enough for the two of them to fit comfortably. Wanda was already in bed so was Thor. Loki was sitting up on the couch reading.
“Can I talk to you?” Steve asked. Loki looked around to see who else was in the room. He gestured towards the big chair across from him. Steve sat down and stared around the room trying to collect his thoughts. Everywhere he looked he saw you. Everything was soft and inviting. There was a spice to the air warm and aromatic. He wanted to curl up in this place. Get lost in here. This wasn’t his place though. Loki built it with the intention of living out your days here. There were flashes of him too. No. There was no place here for Steve.
“Can I trust you with her?” His voice was low and gritty like it was worked over with sandpaper.
“You know she’s safe with me.”
“You know that’s not what I’m asking. Can I trust you to keep your hands off of her?”
“I won’t touch her. You have my word.”
“Your word. That’s cute. You see here I was thinking you were gone. Out of our lives. It took her six months to take that damned bracelet off which means it took her six months to get over you. And here you are back in our lives again. What possessed you to build this house?” he put his hand up to stop him, “No. Don’t tell me. I already know. It’s the same reason I went out to Westchester today. The same reason I’m ready to go ape shit on Tony fucking Stark and all of SHIELD. Because you are in love with her just like I’m in love with her. The difference is she chose me. She chose to have me in her life. You just keep showing up.” Steve buried his face in his hands. He wasn’t sure if he was coming or going.
Loki was deep in thought dissecting what Steve said but also trying to figure out Tony’s play. “I’m trying to understand what binding her will do. It won’t change the fact that she’s a conduit. It will only leave her defenseless. Unless that’s what they are trying to do.” Loki’s eyes were wide thinking of the possibility that you would be able to absorb all of the powers of the people Hydra kidnapped. You’d be a nuclear bomb indeed. That’s only if you were powerless to stop it. As it were, you cast a spell on yourself that had a fail safe built in. If you kept training with Strange and Wong, you would be able to stop the lot of them. “Captain. That’s it. They are using her to steal powers. What is in Alaska?”
“Fuck. That’s it. Fuck! Alaska is a giant Hydra base housing mutants. I’m leaving Wanda with you. I’ll call Stephen Strange in the morning. Don’t tell her anything. She’ll want to confront Tony. I won’t let her. I can’t let Tony know she hasn’t been taking her meds.” Loki nodded in agreement.
Steve stood up to go to bed. He was bone tired. All he wanted was to crawl into your bed and wrap his body around yours like a cocoon.
“Steve,” Loki called after him. Steve stopped in the doorway his shoulders slumped down in defeat. “I’ll keep her safe for you. When all of this is over, the place yours. Just promise me you’ll let her be herself out here. She hides a lot from you because she’s afraid she’ll scare you if you really saw her. You really love her? Get to know the real Y/N.” Steve responded with a weak smile.
The master bedroom was painted a deep green and had warm wood trim. A large vanity was situated in the corner with perfume bottles a comb and a brush neatly arranged on top. A massive four poster bed was dead center. The posts were ornate and winding like a tree the legs like roots. The Yggdrasil tree. A big round window sat high on the wall letting the moonlight stream in. He could smell the oils you used in the tub. Warm spice notes and deep florals. That’s what your skin would smell like. He wanted to burn it into his nose.
Off in the corner there was a small winding staircase that lead to a loft. He climbed it to find a reading nook with a small table for snacks. He smiled thinking about how much you would love it up there.
On the other side of the room was a wardrobe. Inside there were dresses that you’d no doubt wear barefoot and blouses and trousers for you to wear to work. Off to the side were three little drawers. The top was for bras the middle for panties and the bottom larger drawer for sweats leggings socks and T-shirts. The bottom was neatly lined with heels strappy sandals and a pair of boots that made his cock twitch. He imagined you wearing them with the leather dress that would barely cover your thighs.
In the chest of drawers there were sweaters jeans that looked worn in and a whole drawer for tac gear in case you went on missions with them. This fucker thought of everything.
He wanted to go out there and punch him in his smug little face but stopped when he heard you sloshing around in the water. He cracked the door open so he wouldn’t startle you. “Sweetheart? Can I come in?”
“Hey. Yeah. There is plenty of room for you.” Steve stripped and eased in to the too hot water. You grabbed the big sponge hanging over the faucet and got it sudsy enough to wash him. He let you though he felt like it was somehow wrong. Like he shouldn’t be this intimate with you in another man’s home.
The bathroom was just as glamorous as the bedroom. A small gas fireplace sat perfectly positioned to warm the whole bathroom. A chandelier hung from the ceiling. The shower was also large enough for two people. There were so many spouts it looked like a car wash. There were candles placed on every and any flat surface. The place was fit for a queen. Loki’s queen.
Funnily enough you didn’t seem to care. You rinsed off the soap and kissed your way up to his neck. You used a small pitcher set on a step stool to wet his hair. When you massaged his scalp you kissed him deeply. “Close your eyes and hold your breath” you said in that low tone that made him crazy.
He shook off like a dog making you giggle. His favorite sound. He lifted you enough to sink you down onto him. He will never get enough of how you felt. The water lapped around your body as you moved. You both came quick and hard collapsing your body down around him. “I love you, Steve” you whispered as you caught your breath.
“I love you, Y/N. So much.”
You got out of the tub feeling like your limbs were made of jelly. You dried off braided your hair and slicked your skin with more oil. The one you chose was warm and slightly citrusy. Vetiver. It made your heartbeat quicken knowing that Loki remembered your mother’s fragrance. The two of you crawled into bed and slept like you’ve been sleeping in this room for ages. You weren’t sure if it was being back on your land or something else but you felt like you were finally home.
8 notes · View notes
halequeenjas · 2 years
Text
Love Bites || Jasmine & Savannah
TIMING: Current PARTIES: @savannah-lim & @halequeenjas SUMMARY: Jasmine and Savannah go out for a night on the town and to pick up some hot musicians. Things don’t quite go as planned. 
Considering she was hanging out and making a new friend, Jasmine decided it was high time she tried out a new venue. She’d never been to the jazz night at this club before, but a change of pace seemed nice. Plus, this place was a little closer to Beatrice’s so less time spent in a likely sketchy uber. She hardly doubted Savannah would mind much either way. She walked up to the entrance and was tentatively impressed with the establishment. The music pouring out sounded good and the place had a sort of speakeasy vibe that she could get down with. She saw Savannah approaching and waved eagerly. “Hey,” she greeted with a bright smile, “So this isn’t my usual haunt, but it looks promising. Here’s to hoping the musicians look as good as they sound.” 
Regan had said she needed to get out and meet people, and reluctant as Savannah was to take advice from someone who had just quit their job and vanished like a hermit into the woods, she realised Regan was right. She didn’t have the excuse of recently discovering she was fae. She just had her work, and White Crest wasn’t the sort of mystery she could solve alone. “You look lovely,” she greeted with a smile. “I think this is the first time I’ve put on a dress in weeks.” She followed Jasmine inside where a hostess led them to their table and left them with a drinks menu. One of the acts was already performing, so Savannah took a moment to check them out. “That one’s married,” she observed, seeing his ring flash under the lights as he played his sax. 
 By nature, Jasmine had always been a social person. In a crowd was where she thrived and she always enjoyed being the life of the party or a night on the town. Making a new friend was always welcome. She lit up with a megawatt smile and said, “Thanks, this is one of my favorite dresses.” Red and Dior had always suited her well. “You look pretty great yourself though I do say we need an excuse for you to wear dresses more often.” Which more likely than not meant more girls’ nights which she was always here for. She looked over the performers and her eyes looked them over. She hadn’t even noticed the ring. No wonder Savannah was in the FBI. “Good eye,” she said with a tilt of her head and a tone that indicated she was impressed, “We’re not here to be home wreckers. I’m sure there are enough attractive single people here for us to flirt with.” Her eyes fell on a trumpet player who noticeably had no ring and swayed with the music in a way that was entrancing to say the least. “Dibs on the trumpet player,” she nudged with a smirk before she asked, “Any wine preferences? Figured we could share a couple of bottles.” 
 Savannah couldn’t help her flirtation as she gave Jasmine a small wink. “Well, I’m sure we can find someone who can’t wait to get your favorite dress off you.” In another life, she might have been that person, but her gaydar really wasn’t picking anything up. Jasmine only ever talked about men. “If we find me an attractive person to go on dates with, I might have an excuse to change out of the business suits,” she snickered, situating herself and looking through the drinks menu. “I was married once. I’d have gone crazy if anyone tried to put the moves on my wife. Not because I didn’t trust her. Just because it’s disrespectful.” The harmless flirting was one thing, but flirting with intent, knowing someone was in a committed relationship was something else entirely. “I’m easy,” she said, in reference to the choice of wine rather than her pants. “But if you’re having the trumpet player, I’m claiming the cellist,” she joked. She appeared to be in her late thirties or early forties and Savannah was a little more hopeful about her preferences. 
 Jasmine chose to ignore the wink. It wouldn’t be the first or last time a woman was a bit flirtatious with her. “That’s never the problem. It’s always more of a finding someone I’d actually let take my favorite dress off,” she joked with a small laugh. She’d been told by too many men that her standards were too high and that she’d never find better than them. She also knew they were all wrong. “I formally request to be the one helping pick out the dresses. It’s one of my areas of expertise.” She glanced over at the bartender to indicate they were ready to order as she agreed with Savannah, “Can’t say I’ve been married, but you are right it’s disrespectful. Plus, anyone that would cheat on their significant other is hardly worthwhile.” Once the bartender came over, she gave him a winning smile and ordered a bottle of mulled wine for them to share. It was a cold night and something about the spices made it feel warm. “If it makes no difference to you I figure ‘tis the season and all.” Her eyes fell on the cellist and responded, “She’s all yours. Not really my type anyway.” The set ended as they got their bottle of wine and she gave Savannah a devious grin. “I think that just might be our cue.” 
 “Standards are important,” Savannah said. She wasn’t too picky when it came to one night stands, but a real relationship was far more elusive. She rarely found anyone who truly interested her, and she doubted most people would be too happy with her fascination with murder and the macbre. “My wife would never have cheated on me. Nor I on her. It was just… complicated.” Savannah drank the wine, watching as the set ended, returning Jasmine’s grin. She waved over the cellist and sax player as they left the stage and started mingling at the bar. “Hey,” she said. “Care to join us?” 
 “You’d be surprised how many people don’t realize that,” Jasmine said as she thought over the partners of some of her high school friends. She’d never understood dating someone who didn’t appreciate who their significant other was as a person or bothered to treat them with basic respect, but she couldn’t just make people have more self-respect. She sipped her wine and nodded as Savannah spoke. “Sometimes things just don’t work out and that’s okay.” She wasn’t about to press into the details there when they were about to take a go at flirting with some of the musicians. Thinking about ex-lovers wasn’t exactly a fun time no matter what way you sliced it. She gave the saxophone player a wink as Savannah invited them over. Jas had never been one for subtle. If she wanted something, she went after it. He seemed intrigued and the pair walked over to join them. “That was a great set,” Jasmine said as they sat down with them. “Which I’m sure you knew. Anyway, I’m Jasmine and this is my friend Savannah. We couldn’t help but notice you’re both talented and beautiful people. It seemed only right we should meet.” Her eyes lingered on the sax player who introduced himself as Jean as he smoothly responded, “It takes beautiful to know beautiful.” And boy was he right. 
 Savannah nodded appreciatively. Jasmine seemed to understand that sometimes relationships just didn't work, and thankfully, she didn't seem interested in going into detail or rehashing it. She'd rather move onto something else anyway, and right now, that something else consisted of an attractive cellist who hopefully, unlike everyone else attractive in this town, was single. "Nice to meet you," she said to Jean. He had a hint of a French accent and somehow made the cheesy introductory remark work. "How about you?" she asked the cellist. 
"Lucille," the other woman said, extending her hand to Savannah's and holding onto it a moment too long. "Glad you enjoyed the set. The next guy's are really good too. You'll like them." 
"I'm sure I will," Savannah said. "Your hands are a little chilly. Should we get you a drink to help you warm up?" she asked, smiling, because apparently, the French didn't get to have a monopoly on cheesy. 
 Jasmine was pleased with how considerably well this was going. Maybe checking out this new joint had been one of her better ideas. Which was saying a lot considering she was filled with great ideas. Jean and Lucille seemed eager to join them and at Savannah’s suggestion, she got the bartender’s attention with a small wave. “Two more glasses, please,” she said brightly before turning to them, “I hope you like Pinot Noir. If not, we could always get a bottle of something else.”  
She watched as Jean eyed the bottle of wine with a seemingly approving look. “You clearly have good taste,” he stated. Expensive was left unsaid though it was true all the same. “It only seems right that a fine woman should have a fine wine.” It was cheesy, but the way his dark eyes looked her over like she was the most enticing thing he’d ever seen cancelled it out. Savannah and Lucille seemed to be hitting it off, too. With drinks poured all around, Jean suggested, “You know, we have a nice VIP lounge in back.” 
 Savannah was happy to take Jean’s direction on the drinks. She was far more interested in getting to know the two people who’d just joined them for drinks. She quirked an eyebrow at the mention of a VIP lounge. “Oh, that’s very flattering.” The waiter returned with two more glasses and a fresh bottle of wine, but Lucille held up her hand.
“Could you actually take it into the back for us, please?” she said, her voice sugar sweet, but something deviously charming lingering in her gaze. Something Savannah was all too keen to dissect. 
“I think that’s a great idea,” Savannah said, looking to Jasmine. “Shall we?”
 Given the musicians were both attractive, talented, and seemed to have a fair amount of class, they easily agreed to hanging out in the VIP lounge. There was nothing Jasmine loved more than a good VIP section and this spot delivered. The couches that lined the area were a tasteful black, but comfortable and plush… and surprisingly clean. Always a plus. The lighting was dim and the red of the walls gave it a sort of prohibition era vibe that she could get down with. Maybe it wasn’t quite Speakeasy, but she found she enjoyed it all the same.  
The group had chattered on for a bit and the flirtation seemed to be natural between both pairs. Chemistry was definitely there and the time seemed to be moving quickly. She set her own wine glass down as Jean took her hand. She swore she saw a flash of red in his eyes momentarily, but wrote it off as part of the lighting. That was until he placed a kiss on her wrist and she felt something knick it. “Ow,” she said, attempting to draw her arm away from him but his grip on her wrist tightened. Now, the red eyes were definitely not something she could write off as given the glow and sinister look they were delivering now. “Uhm, Savannah,” she said uneasily, not daring to take her eyes off Jean as she fumbled her free arm back for her bag. 
 Savannah could be incredibly awkward, but she could also be endearing and charming. Fortunately, the latter was winning out tonight and Lucille seemed interested. They talk, drank, flirted, and right when she thought maybe she'd be able to actually invite this woman back to her house for some privacy, she heard Jasmine yelp.
"Jas?" she answered, turning to look at the others, and then she saw the glowing red eyes and the hungry expression. "Hey!" She grabbed some pepper spray. "Back off, buddy."
Lucille also jumped up, eyes widening with a gasp. "Jean! Have you gone mad?! Where are your manners?" She waved Savannah's pepper spray holding arm away. "That won't be necessary." 
But Savannah wasn’t convinced and still kept it upright, finger on the trigger. “Get him off her then!” 
 Jasmine still fumbled trying to fish through her purse for one of the iron rods she kept in there, but Jean’s grip only seemed to pull her closer. The smile on his face was daunting to say the least and she noticed just how sharp his teeth were and she noticed a bit of the blood from her wrist on one of them. Great, she finally hits on a hot jazz musician and he just happens to be a hungry vampire. 
Savannah had pepper spray raised up and ready to go, but somehow she doubted that would slow a vampire down. Lucille was saying something about manners that caught Jean’s attention and he pouted, “But Lucille, I’m hungry now.” Before she knew it, he was sinking his teeth back into her wrist to turn her into his dinner. Or a light snack. She didn’t really know. Either way, she shrieked and defensively slammed the heel of her Louboutin into his foot hoping to give new meaning to the whole red bottoms thing. 
The action seemed to distract him enough for him to release his grip on her and she quickly fumbled to grab an iron bar from her purse. Her hands gripped around it and she looked at Jean with a glare. “Come any closer and I will whack you in the face with this thing.” Not the worst threat, but she definitely didn’t have a stake on her. She glanced over at Savannah who was still ready to wield her pepper spray and noticed Lucille’s eyes. “Savannah, watch out!” 
 Savannah stared on in awe at the madness unfolding before her eyes. Lucille had seemed disappointed in this manner of behavior, but not surprised. She had known what he was, probably because she was one and the same. At Jasmine’s warning, Savannah turned, eyes widening at the creature that now had its sights turned on her. 
“Sorry, love,” Lucille said. “He’s not usually like this, but you’ve seen too much now.” Savannah’s heart was in her throat, threatening to force its way out, and as the vampire lunged at her, she sprayed almost the entirety of the bottle into Lucille’s face, causing a scream and a long enough hesitation for the two of them to begin to flee. 
“Let’s go!” She grabbed Jasmine’s free hand, still holding up the spray and firing it into the air behind them as the two of them fumbled through the door and out into the hallway. She could hear the grunts and growls behind them. There was a large heavy box of sound equipment by the door, and Savannah shoved it in front so it would prevent them from being chased for a few moments. She followed the exit signs on the wall. They needed to get the hell out of here.
 Not surprisingly, Jean cared little for Jasmine’s warning. After all, her frame didn’t look like it could wield all that much damage, but as he leaned toward her again, she gave him a good whack in the head with the iron rod. At the same time, she heard Savannah releasing the contents of the pepper spray directly onto Lucille. The pair of musicians were stunned momentarily and she was quick to run off with Savannah. 
Much to her relief, Savannah had managed to block off the hallway so they could get away. Running in heels was less than ideal, but adrenaline worked wonders. She could hardly even feel her feet as they bolted out of the bar. She kept running up the block until she saw a few officers outside of one of the bars. No one would try anything in front of an on duty cop, right? 
She let out an exhausted breath and mumbled, “Holy crap.” While she wasn’t sure how much Savannah knew, she was able to act quickly in the face of supernatural danger. So she cautiously asked, “So… did you know what Lucille and Jean were?” 
 Had they truly cared to track them down, Savannah didn’t doubt that the vampires would have caught up to them, but now that they were in a crowded place, it wasn’t worth the effort, which was fortunate for them. She recalled Carrington’s concern for her a few nights ago when she’d ended up in Teeth. Had this encounter happened first, she might have been a little more cautious about going in, and certainly what had unfolded once she was there. 
“Me?” she asked, sucking at the air to attempt to catch her breath. “No, no, I didn’t know. I thought you were the expert.” Jasmine might not have said as much, but Savannah had read between the lines. Jasmine was savvy and smart. She knew the secrets of this town. “I just wanted a nice night with a hot musician,” she sighed. 
 Initially, her question had come out rushed and Jasmine found she was still trying to catch her breath. Despite her regular cardio there was something about sprinting in heels was definitely enough to leave her winded. That and the face a vampire tried to turn her into a snack didn’t help. That was decidedly not the kind of snack Jasmine wanted to be. She leaned against the brick wall of another bar and kept her arm close to her. “That’s not what I meant,” she said as she shook her head, “It was my idea to come here anyway. I just know-- you seemed hesitant about the idea of haunted houses before.” 
This was a risk, but given what they just experienced, she couldn’t not tell Savannah the truth behind their encounter. It was a matter of safety which was slightly more important than her reputation. She sighed. “Those were vampires. Hence the red glowing eyes and the trying to eat us. Not really my expertise, but I know some about them. If you don’t think I’m totally crazy, I do know a vampire free bar not far from here.” 
“Oh.” Savannah had just about caught her breath now. She was sure she looked a mess, and she’d used the last of her pepper spray. “I… knew that, but only after they bit you.” She pulled a compact out of her purse, examining herself in it to make sure she didn’t look too worse for wear. Her hair needed some attention, and her clothes needed straightening a little, but she was intact. Self consciously, she favored her inner thigh where Carrington had fed from her during their encounter a few nights earlier. “I think we have a lot to talk about.” She nodded to the bar behind them. “Is this one safe? I don’t think we’re done drinking yet.”
8 notes · View notes
gemsofthegalaxy · 1 year
Text
ugh i've been reading different takes, most of which are fairly well thought out, etc and I just can't fully decide how i feel. Please note, I've only watched the show one time so I'm going off memories and this is a post on tumblr.org explaining my feelings and impressions, not a detailed literary analysis for submission to a journal (my MA isnt even in english lit or film studies 😘)
I did generally like the Falcon and the Winter Solider but I still feel like, I dunno, a little off about Bucky? I also felt like Sam was just somehow underutilized or something, like, I dunno. So it's not like it's just him. But I'm dissecting Bucky's character here first and foremost (and I'll comment a bit on the whole show in the end)
it was a decent show and my expectations for marvel are on the floor anyway but I still like to think about these things because, Head Full Cant Stop The Fixation even if i try.
it might just be the residual fuckiness of Endgame that is shaking me. Like, Bucky should probably actually move towards being resentful of, or angry at, Steve for a while. I DO think the indication that his identity was wrapped up in how Steve saw him, that Steve was his moral compass etc was Good, in line with what we've seen of him before and something I personally agree with for his characterization. But there wasn't really any sense of acknowledgement for the way Steve chose to abandon him, which means it feels like something is missing. To me, at least.
Other than this, I still do feel a little iffy with the "Was he a villain or a victim" question. And to address some of those takes I've been reading, yes we've established before (in CW, whathaveoyu), he was a victim more than anything. and I will say, his seeking to make amends/atone of his own accord is fair, I can see how that would be healing. I also agree that his therapist and Zemo are not "reliable" sources when it comes to his character, they are both clearly biased as hell.
I also feel like there was a lot of time dedicated to insinuating that Bucky was in fact responsible for his actions with HYDRA, and I don't personally remember a time when Bucky or anyone else ever directly challenged that line of thinking to the face of those people. and some may say "well why do you need him to challenge that, he's not just some no-agency waif, people don't have to rush to his defense. he can handle it and we already know how he feels" and, like, sure, I guess. of course Bucky can't control how people think about him and what matters is what he thinks of himself. But, also, having other characters throw his trauma in his face a bunch of times just feels.... weird?
like one of the arguments I've seen is that people who are dissatisfied want him to be seen as "more vulnerable, more fragile, more feminine " , we want to see him "woobified", see his trauma displayed and drawn out for our sick twisted pleasure. which, like, wanting to see trauma played out on fictional characters is not inherently bad or morally objectionable, see the whole horror genre. and the other thing is that they did show us his trauma, such that it was thrown in his face often. From what I recall, He took this in stride and seemed to grow and heal regardless
again, though, I don't know. I do agree that the audience doesn't always need to be spoonfed things. And I vaguely recall Zemo might have been like "oh ho ho seems like I was a bit wrong about you" during their final confrontation before Bucky handed Zemo over to Ayo and I should probably confirm that, but ugh I've spent too long on this post already.
So i guess the thing is that they sorta pulled it off in the end? I think? if i'm remembering correctly anyway LOL. and on one hand it does make sense for them to show that arc and the change. but i'm still like at least a little frustrated that I personally felt beat over the head with instances of "You're at fault for being the Winter Solider" and Bucky being like "/shrug. i mean, maybe, I guess, not really, but yeah" until Sam tells him "you've gotta stop letting other people decide who you are and decide for yourself who you are" and Bucky is like "yeah"
but, yeah, if he was already in that place at the Beginning of the series, where does the change and growth go from there? It does make sense for him to be grappling with how his body was used for violence. I guess it feels like it just didn't get as in depth with that aspect of it. I don't know what I'm actually looking for, though.
That's another thing people have said, like, "okay, if you didn't like how his trauma was displayed or the ways he grew and change, what DID you want to see?" and for that one, I actually don't know. I do think it woulda been nice to see a bit more emotional vulnerability? I guesss? I mean, I know one of my favourite parts was the "couples therapy" scenes (not just for the ship bait 😏) but when Bucky said "if Steve was wrong about you maybe he was wrong about me" because, even tho the therapist (who was shitty) was Displeased, i was like, wow that's actually probably a lot to admit out loud, Yeah it's not fair to put that onto Sam, but I was pleased he got that off his chest anyway? I thought they might have more discussions, except for the very end (which I also enjoyed) but. yeah.
And maybe I'm just mad that we didn't get to see this until now, as well? And that a significant amount of growth/change must have happened off screen, save for the one flashback of testing him with the trigger words (which was great!). Because we do get to see him feeling guilty, grapple etc. despite knowing it wasn't his fault, which, I mean, I think is fair given what he's been through, but I still don't know if I'd say he was often "emotionally vulnerable" (and i don't think you need to fully woobify someone to show them as emotionally vulnerable.. and vulnerability isn't a Bad Horrible Nasty Thing)
LIKE LITERALLY, though, i don't know. I keep flipflopping. do I love it? do I hate it? do I just want to go back to stucky-healing-avengers-tower-2014 vibes? (yeah, i've been doing the latter for like 2 weeks now. it's fun). am i just pissed they assassinated Steve Rogers' character and we just have to move forward with that? (like objectively, yes.)
Maybe it was just, like, there was so much stuff jammed into the show? like we had Bucky's growth, Zemo's whateverthefuck, John Walker Cap, Karli and the Flagsmashers, Sam's becoming Captain America, Isiah's story, and the Boat Stuff, like. OH almost forgot about Sharon and the Powerbroker stuff.
like yeah all those things were all intertwined and they did it somewhat smoothly given the sheer number of them, but perhaps we didn't need ALL of them? like that's a lot of Significant Characters and a lot of plot to be juggling all at once for a limited series.
i guess one of the eternal Marvel Problems is that they are simultaneously 1) not fussed about making sure everything lines up perfectly with their other products because that's impossible and they're all written by different teams and 2) making sure their current movie/show IS setting up what's coming next at least in characters/plotlines even if it won't be fully cohesive after the fact
so while I did enjoy the series, maybe it mostly just would have benefited from paring down the amount of significant plots/people and dedicating more time to the actual leads (shocker) and then they could have had more vulnerability without sacrificing the resiliency in Bucky specifically.
but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ i've already spent WAY too much brain power caring about this Goddamn Marvel Product .
In conclusion,
Idk
1 note · View note
obi-kin · 2 years
Text
dance with me
summary: luke decides to step in and stop y/n’s friends from teasing her about never having a boyfriend. this leads to fake dates and real feelings.
pairing: luke patterson x reader
word count: 5.5k
warnings: fake dating, alcohol mentions
a/n: my second luke fic which took me way too long to finish because motivation deserted me. Gif is mine :)
Tumblr media
It wasn’t a new feeling to feel somewhat left out and like a spare part. Y/N was more than used to her friends chatting away beside her like she wasn’t even in the room. She was sure it should have bothered her more than it did. Countless times people had asked why she put up with it, and the answer was always simple. Because they were her friends, at least one of them was. Yes the other two weren’t the greatest friends, she could at least admit to that. But she had known Jessica her whole life and now they were kind of part of the package, it was easier to be with them. And if she was being honest with herself she liked to sit on the outskirts, only listening in and never participating.
She wasn’t much of a talker. She enjoyed people watching and listening to her friends gossip, she could think of nothing worse than having attention on herself. Plus, if her friends were ignoring her it meant they weren’t pestering her about her love life. And that was something Y/N was more than thankful for. It started out harmless when they were younger. She was the last of her friends to hold a boy's hand. The last one to share a kiss. The last one to have a boyfriend (of course, because she still hadn’t). They had teased her about it.
“Oh, Y/N, why do you never go out? Why do you never have fun?”
“Don’t you want a boyfriend?”
“Please let us try and hook you up!”
But the meaningful pestering had slowly turned to more hurtful taunts.
“You’re so boring Y/N, you really need to lighten up!”
“You’ll never find a boyfriend if you don’t live a little!”
“Are you sure you want to come to the party? Everyone has a date, you’ll be alone like usual.”
She tried not to let it bother her. Rolling her eyes and shaking off her friends comments. She convinced herself she was fine on her own. She didn’t want a boyfriend and she certainly didn’t need one. She had considered finding one just to shut them up, but she couldn’t imagine dating someone just for the sake of it. She was old fashioned. She believed you should love wholeheartedly with everything in you. You should love truly and fiercely and definitely not give yourself away just to be included.
Y/N had seen her friends jump from one boy to the next, some not lasting more than a week. She didn’t want that. She would rather be seen as boring than throw herself at boys just for attention. She knew she had nothing in common with her friends and she also knew people wondered why they even hung out with her. But her friends were popular. And it was easier to be in the popular crowd and ignored than it was to be in the shadows and picked on.
It was near the end of lunch time when her friends finally noticed her again. Jessica was leaning against her locker, eyes locked on her compact mirror as she applied another layer of pink lipstick.
“You haven’t forgotten about my party this weekend, have you Y/N?” She asks before pursing her lips at her reflection.
Jessica was the girl Y/N had known the longest. She could stand Jessica. When they weren’t around everyone else she was back to being the girl she’d met when they were seven. Giddy and excitable, not caring what she looked like. But in public she put on the image of the perfect princess, and she definitely played it well.
“It’s your birthday Jessica, how could I forget?” She rolls her eyes with a smile gracing her lips.
Jessica snaps her mirror shut and forms her pink lips into a dazzling smile, “So you’ll be there?”
“Of course I’ll be there.” She agrees with a nod, she would call Jessica her best friend, she wouldn’t miss her birthday party for anything.
“Are you bringing someone?” Jasmine asks, her perfectly trimmed brow quirking up with her question, “We wouldn’t want you standing on your own in the corner like last time.” She smiles, tight lipped and fake as she waits for a reply.
She opens her mouth slightly, considering for a moment if it was a good idea to lie and say she was bringing someone, just to wipe the smug look from Jasmine's face. But before she can decide if that is a good idea or a train wreck waiting to happen a voice speaks up.
“Of course not,” Amber giggles, “Have you ever had a date before, Y/N?” Amber tilts her head, a smile just as fake as jasmines setting on her lips.
“No, but that’s okay,I don’t revolve my self worth around boys' attention.” She returns Amber's smile.
“That’s good! Because you don’t get any!” Amber retorts back with a laugh.
“Amber-“ Jessica begins to scold her friend but is cut off before she can begin.
“Hey, Y/N.” A voice from behind her catches everyone’s attention.
Jessica raises a brow at the boy behind her friend as she turns to see who exactly was greeting her.
“Oh, hi, Luke.” Y/N replies, her hand coming up in a small wave, she cringes at her own awkwardness.
“I just wanted to make sure we’re still on for tonight,” the boy smiles at her and she can’t help but forrow her brows.
She knows Luke from a couple of her classes but she can’t say she’s ever said more than a few words to the boy. Her memory wasn’t amazing but she was pretty sure she hadn’t made any sort of plans with the boy, he was practically a stranger after all.
“Uh, I-“ she begins to tell him that she has no clue what he’s talking about but he cuts her off again as if he knows what she will say.
“I know I said I wasn’t sure what we should do, but I was thinking we could catch a movie?” Luke raises both of his brows at the girl in front of her, willing her to just go along with it.
And if Y/N has learnt anything from her many years people watching she knows how to read signs, something finally clicking in her head as she quickly nods.
“Right!” She smiles, “Yes, a movie that sounds great! Is seven still good?”
Luke nods, a grin appearing on his face, “Seven, yeah, see you then.” He sends her a last nod before burying his hands into his pockets and turning away, feeling pretty pleased with himself.
Y/N turns back to her friends feeling extremely confused but determined not to show it. Amber and Jasmine look somewhat annoyed but Jessica is practically bursting with excitement.
“Y/N!” She squeals and grabs her shoulders, “Why didn’t you say you had a date with that cute boy?” She shakes her friend for an answer.
The girl laughs, prying her friends hands from her shoulders, “I guess it slipped my mind.” She offers with a shrug.
“Slipped your mind?” Jessica she is sure is about to reprimand her but her scolding is cut off by the ringing off the bell, “I want all the details!” She finishes instead.
She sends her friend one last grin before grabbing onto Amber and Jasmine and pulling them down the hall while Y/N turns the opposite way and heads to literature. She couldn’t honestly say why Luke had come over to them but she was glad he had. The looks on her friends' faces when they thought she had a date was the best thing to happen to her in a long time.
She took her seat in the classroom, the room already almost full of students. The seat next to her was taken up by the boy who had stood in front of her just moments before.
“Hey,” she greets as she opens up her notebook, “What was all that about?” She asks.
Luke looks over to her, his desk empty of anything except a blunt pencil which he was rolling around with a finger. He shrugs, smiling as he meets her eyes.
“I guess I got sick of your friends always making fun of you for not having a boyfriend.” He replies like it’s nothing.
“Wait, you know about that?” She asks, a soft laugh leaving her lips, “I never realised people noticed.”
Luke nods, “I notice a lot of things. It’s not right, friends shouldn’t put each other down. I hate seeing it, so I thought I’d wipe the smirks off their faces. Thanks for going along with it.”
She offers him a genuine smile, “I nearly didn’t, I was so confused!” She admits causing him to laugh, “But thank you.”
He opens his mouth to reply but the late bell sounds and the teacher shuts the door bringing the class to silence. So instead he sends her one last smile before averting his eyes out of the window, his finger still pushing the pencil he’d stolen from Reggie around his desk.
The hour dragged by slowly. She didn’t mind this class most of the time but she couldn’t get her mind to focus on the poem they were supposed to be dissecting. If there was one thing she could never grasp it was poetry. She found it beautiful and clever, but she couldn’t tell you what most of it meant. So when the bell finally rang to signal the end of the lesson she let out a sigh of relief and snapped her notebook closed.
“Not like poetry?” Luke asks with a laugh at her slightly dishevelled look after running her hands through her hair.
“If my life depended on understanding poetry I’d have been dead a long time ago.” She admits, and then frowns at the awkwardness of being death up in a conversation.
“Well, it’s a good thing it doesn’t then.” Luke grins as he follows her out of the glass room.
The pair don’t get two steps away from the door before they are bombarded by a blonde in a pink dress.
“Why haven’t you replied to my text?” Jessica stresses, reaching out and grabbing Luke by the shirt as he tries to slip past her, “Are you bringing your new date to my party?” She deposits Luke back by Y/N’s side and looks at the pair expectantly.
“Oh! Uh, well I hadn’t actually brought it up yet.” She offers with a shrug.
“Well then you’re lucky I brought it up for you!” Jessica grins, “It’s on Saturday at nine, my house. I’ll see you there!” She waves to Luke before disappearing in the crowd of people.
Luke and Y/N share a look, one full of confusion, hopefulness and a tinge of awkwardness.
“Guess I’m your date to a party?” Luke asks with a soft chuckle, his hand coming up to rub the back of his neck.
Y/N quickly shakes her head, “No! No please don’t feel the need, I’ll just make something up.”
“So you don’t want me to go?” Luke asks holding a hand up to his heart, “I’m slightly offended.”
“I mean…” she bites her lower lip, looking around the hallway desperate for an escape which never came, “I just meant, it’s not necessary.”
Luke laughs, “I’m only messing with you,” he reaches out and taps her arm lightly, “But uh, i'll go, if you want. I kind of want to mess with your friends a little more.” He admits.
She raises a brow and laughs a little, “Like, fake date?” She asks, laughing again when Luke nods. She knows she should say no, roll her eyes and push him away, but the memory of Amber and Jasmines faces from earlier flashed back into her mind. This opportunity was too good to pass up on, it’s not like she was throwing herself at boys like she promised herself she wouldn’t, it’s all fake. And what’s the harm in fake dating a cute boy?
“Okay,” she nods, “Fake boyfriend, i'll see you there.”
------
The more she thought about it the more she was convinced she was crazy. Fake dating someone was one thing, but fake dating someone she’d never even held a conversation with? That was off the spectrum of crazy. How was she supposed to convince her friends that she was actually dating someone who she knew nothing about? What if they actually had nothing in common? What if when they finally do hang out they can’t stand each other? She supposed they could just fake break up just as convincingly as they fake got together. And she decided that was probably the best option. Break it off now before it got too out of hand for everyone involved. It was what she fully intended on doing. Her speech was already planned out and rehearsed multiple times on the walk to Jessica’s party.
She was going to walk up to him, look him straight in the eye and tell him it was a crazy idea and they needed to stop. She didn’t have time for a real boyfriend let alone a fake one and she didn’t want anyone to get hurt. But as she rounded the corner and saw the boy waiting for her the plan fizzled out of her thoughts immediately and she found herself skipping over to him with a grin.
“Don’t you scrub up nicely.” She comments, tugging playfully on his shirt.
He had forgone his usual slogan tees with ripped sleeves and dressed in a plain black T-shirt and jeans, a plaid shirt thrown on the top which she was sure she’d seen a friend of his wearing the week before.
Luke shrugs looking almost bashful for a second, “I didn’t want to stand out and show you up. You look nice.” He adds, finally looking her up and down.
She’d chosen a simple dress, dark blue in colour and stopping just above the knee, “Yeah well, I didn’t want to show you up.” She teases with a nudge of her elbow.
“I guess we should get this awful evening over with then?” Luke jokes, offering his arm to her to link hers through which she does instantly.
The party was already in full swing when they walked through the doors, her friends drunk to the point of not caring about her arrival which she was more than pleased about.
“I don’t really drink.” She comments as she grabs a can of cola from the table, Luke helps himself to one after.
“Me neither.” He smiles, “I’d rather know what I’m doing...And not look like an idiot.” He leans up to look over her shoulder at the girl stumbling around in her heels like bambi on ice.
She looks over her shoulder, letting out a laugh at the sight before turning back, “You mean you don’t want to look like that?” She grins and grabs onto his arm, “C’mon, there's nothing more annoying than drunk people.”
She leads him outside, pulling him down onto a bench beside her. The backyard was quieter than inside the house, fewer drunk people shouting and laughing and mostly just people chilling out.
“Honestly, I don’t really like parties.” Luke comments, taking a sip from his can, “I’d much rather hang out with some friends and chill.”
Y/N nods her head in agreement, “Same, but unfortunately my friends are the ones who throw all the parties.”
“Don’t take this the wrong way but, why are you friends with them?” Luke looks over to her and raises an eyebrow in question, “You don’t really seem to fit with them.”
“Jessica’s my best friend, the others...Well, they’re friends with Jess so I guess I have to put up with them.” She shrugs, averting her gaze from his intense stare and looking down at her can in her hands.
“Yeah but you don’t have to put up with them being bitches to you.” Luke comments.
She lets out a laugh, leaning her head back against the bench and looking over to him, “It’s not that bad. It’s either that or sitting on my own everyday. And I’ve never heard you swear before.”
“Y/N! Luke!” Jessica practically screams their names, stumbling through the patio doors and pulling her nights catch along behind her, “I’m so glad you came! Together!”
She leans down pulling her into a clumsy hug, almost knocking Luke out with her elbow as she pulls back.
“So! This is getting pretty serious, huh?” She wiggles her eyebrows suggestively at her friend causing her to laugh.
“Jess, it’s been three days.” She giggles, she feels Luke's hand grab hers and allows him to intertwine their fingers, “Three great days.” She adds on with a grin she was sure was the definition of cheesy.
“I’m so happy for you!” Jessica pouts grabbing onto her friends spare hand, “I guess this means you’ll be going to the dance together?” She gasps, the grin on her face radiating excitement.
“Uh,” She looks over at Luke expectantly, eyebrows raised in question.
“We wouldn’t miss it.” Luke answers for them, squeezing her hand and shooting Jess a smile.
Jess lets out a squeal before the boy attached to her hand begins to tug her back inside complaining that it's cold. She rolls her eyes and mouths an apology before disappearing back into the throng of people inside.
“We don’t really have to go.” She begins to say quickly but Luke jumps up and pulls her with him by her hand.
“I don’t mind. And uh, as much as I dislike parties, we’re not going to annoy your friends if we sit out here all night.” He shoots her a cheeky grin before dragging her into the mass of the party.
They discard their empty cans on the kitchen table and head to the living room which has been turned into a makeshift dance area. The room was packed and Y/N already felt nervous about the idea of dancing and being surrounded by so many people.
“I can’t really dance.” She laughs, stopping in the midst of the drunk dancers.
“It’s not proper dancing,” Luke shrugs, he grabs ahold of her waist and pulls her into him, their chests pressing together as his arms snake around her back, “And your friends are watching.”
He smirks as she averts her eyes to the left, Amber and Jasmine watching their every move with matching scowls causing her to giggle. She lifts her hands and rests them against Luke’s chest, letting him move her along to the pop song which was playing too loudly.
“I don’t think we fit in.” She mentions, watching the couples around her grind against each other.
Luke laughs, “Well if you want to fit in.” He quickly spins her around, pulling her back so her back is pressed against his chest, “We can dance like this.” He whispers into her ear as his hands rest against her hips.
She feels her face heat up and lets out a laugh hoping to cover it up, “I guess this is more believable, but I’m not doing that!” She motions with her head towards the couple beside them who were grinding aggressively against each other.
“Deal.” Luke laughs against her cheek as he slides his arms fully around her waist.
Dancing with Luke for the whole night was not as torturous as she had expected it to be. They talked, at least as well as they could with the loud music. She found she got on with Luke quite well which she hadn’t expected. He was funny and sweet, his usual rugged appearance not one which matched his personality at all. When they finally decided to leave the party he offered to walk her home and she agreed. Their intertwined hands splitting apart once they were far enough away from the party to not be seen.
“It’s weird, having a fake boyfriend.” She comments, looking up to the night sky, the stars barely shining through the group of clouds overhead, “I almost like it. Like having a boyfriend but minus all the drama.”
“I thought you’d never had a boyfriend.” Luke laughs.
She shrugs and looks over to him, “From what I’ve seen with my friends I’m not sure I ever want a real one.”
“Well I’m glad I make an acceptable fake boyfriend.” Luke nudges her with his shoulder eliciting a laugh from her.
------
The following week at school was full of preparations for the dance, Y/N feeling more excited about it than she ever had before. This time she would actually be going with someone! Fake or not, it was still a lot more exciting than standing around alone for the whole night. She’d also spent the week getting to know Luke more. They were ‘dating’ after all so they had to hang out in public to make it look at all believable. He spent a lunch with her and her friends, but she didn’t blame him for hating every minute of it. Amber and Jasmine weren’t nice to her and they definitely weren’t nice to him.
She spent most of her lunches with him and his friends, having much more fun than she’d like to admit. She watched them rehearse, half of it actual rehearsing half of it messing around. She liked Luke’s friends and even started feeling a little bad about lying to them when Alex said how happy he was they were happy together. She found she got on with Reggie the best. He was silly and it was a nice change of pace to her own friends to be around someone who didn’t care what anyone thought.
She was also getting used to the physical touches, maybe too used to it. She noticed that Luke was a touchy person, he was always wrapping his arms around his friends shoulders and nudging them and that didn’t stop when it got to her. She now wasn’t sure if it was because of the fake relationship or because he really was like that with everyone. But she found she didn’t mind. She quite liked when he would hold her hand in the hallways or throw his arm over her shoulders when they were sat somewhere. She had to keep reminding herself that he only meant it in a friendly way.
Friday came around quickly and she took the day off from hanging out with like to spend time decorating with Jess, something they always helped out with for every dance.
“What colours your dress? Is Luke getting a matching tie?” Jessica asks as she helps her hang a banner from the ceiling.
Y/N was sat atop Jessica's shoulders struggling to secure the string to the ceiling, they knew they would get told off if a teacher saw them like this but neither could be bothered to go and find the ladders so they had to make do.
“I was thinking either blue or green,” She comments, her words muffled around the extra string in her mouth, “And I hadn’t even thought about ties.”
“He has to be matching! Otherwise you will look odd!” Jess complains.
She had always been way more invested in fashion than Y/N ever had, she didn’t really see the harm in Luke’s tie not matching her dress, but also knew Jess wouldn’t let it go.
“I’ll talk to him.” She mumbles out, letting out a cheer when she finally gets the banner to stick.
As she climbed down from Jessica’s shoulders she was met with a pair of blue eyes, her friend quickly slinking away behind her.
“Hey Y/N, can I talk to you for a sec?” Jason asks.
She chews on her bottom lip, silently scolding her friend for abandoning her, “Yeah, sure.” She offers a smile.
“I was just wondering if you’d want to go to the dance with me? I know it’s a little last minute but…” Jason rubs the back of his neck with his hand, sending her an awkward shrug.
“Oh! Uhm…” She pauses for a moment at a complete loss for an answer. She was supposed to be going with Luke. But that wasn’t real, whereas this could actually lead to something, she was sure Luke would understand if she cancelled with him, she knew he never usually went to dances anyway.
But as she looked up to answer her eyes landed on the figure walking down the hallway towards them, Luke shot her a smile and raised his brows at the boy in front of her and she thought about how she felt when she was with him. Fake dating or not, Luke was her friend now, and friends didn’t cancel on each other last minute.
“I’m sorry Jason, I’m already going with someone. But thanks for asking me.” She offers him her kindest smile.
“No worries, I thought it was a long shot being this late.” He shrugs again and bids her goodbye before disappearing around the corner.
“What was all that about?” Luke asks, leaning against the locker in front of her with a curious look in his eyes.
“He asked me to the dance.” She answers.
“And?” Luke prompts.
“And I said no.” She laughs.
“You did?” Luke doesn’t try to hide the grin that appeared on his face, “Why would you say no? To an actual date, instead of a fake one?”
“I don’t know.” She fiddles with the bottom of her jacket, pulling it tighter around her, “I considered it, but it didn’t feel right, I didn’t want to cancel on you.”
“Well I’m flattered.” Luke laughs, “I was actually looking for you, what colour dress are you wearing? Jess just shouted at me about ties.”
She just rolls her eyes and links her arm through Lukes to pull him down the hallway.
------
Y/N paces on her front porch as she waits for Luke to turn up, part of her dress skirt scrunched in her hand to prevent her from stepping on it and tripping over. She had never felt so nervous before. She had to keep reminding herself that this is a fake date. Luke doesn’t actually like her and she’s sure the feelings she's starting to get are just results of faking sed feelings in public.
“Why are you out here?” Luke’s voice cuts through her worrying thoughts and she turns to him with a smile.
“My mum was bugging me about pictures. I thought it was safer out here.” She laughs, biting her lower lip at the sight of Luke stood on her porch, his suit fitting his body perfectly and his tie an exact match to the green of her dress.
“You look amazing.” Luke breathes out in awe, he holds his hand out to her and she gladly accepts it and lets him lead her down the steps.
“So do you.” She replies quietly.
The ride to the school is quiet but she’s acutely aware of Luke’s eyes flickering over to her during the drive. She doesn’t comment on it but the butterflies in her stomach go wild at every glance.
“Did you help put this together?” Luke asks as they enter the hall.
The hall was decorated with blue and silver giving it a wintery feel, balloons and streamers around the outskirts and hanging from the ceiling.
She shrugs, “I guess. Jess did most of it, I just helped.”
“Well it looks great.” He compliments.
They stand in the doorway sharing a glance before looking around the room, “So, I don’t usually come to these. What do we do now? I thought people would be dancing.”
She laughs and slaps his chest lightly, “People won't be dancing till later, once the punch has been spiked.” she grins and takes hold of his hand to lead him to one of the tables around the edge of the dancefloor.
“I’ll admit, I’m surprised this is still a thing.” Jasmine comments as she sits opposite them, “Are you not bored yet?” She directs her question to Luke who shoots her a glare.
“Why would I be bored? She’s the most interesting girl I’ve ever met, she's actually real.” He comments back playing with her fingers in his.
Jasmine lets out a laugh, eyebrows raised as she lifts her drink to her lips as if she thought Luke was crazy, which she probably did.
“Where’s your date?” Luke asks.
Jasmine’s glass hits the table with a glare, “I’d rather be dateless than have whatever this is.” She points between the two before standing up and stomping off.
“Sounds like jealousy!” Luke calls after her and Y/N erupts into a fit of giggles beside him.
“I think she hates you more than she does me.” She laughs leaning into Lukes side.
The hall soon began to fill up with students, couples slowly making their way onto the dancefloor as the dance fully started. She had spotted Jessica and sent her a wave as the girl made her way to the dancefloor where she would stay for the entire night. Y/N wasn’t sure how to dance and she would take a wild guess that Luke didn’t know either, this didn’t seem like his kind of scene.
“Do you want to dance?” Luke asks as though reading her thoughts.
“You want to?” She responds.
“I can try.” He laughs and stands up motioning for her to join him, “Can’t come to a dance with an actual date and not have at least one dance.” Her cheeks heat up at the comment about it being an actual date, not sure if Luke meant it or if it was just a slip of the tongue, she didn’t point it out.
His hand finds hers as they walk to the dancefloor, finding a spot in the middle which she was thankful for, less likely people will see them there. Luke's arms wrapped around her waist and hers went around his shoulders, much like at the party except their movements were slower.
“Is this right.” He asks and she lets out a soft laugh.
“No idea, but it feels good to me.” She hesitates for a moment before leaning forward and resting her cheek against his chest.
The stay pressed together for the next two songs in a comfortable silence before she decides to break it.
“Why are people staring at us?” She asks.
Luke hadn’t noticed but looks around at her question and notices a few eyes on them, he shrugs, “Because we’re the best looking couple here?”
She laughs and slaps his arm, pulling her head away from his chest, “I’m serious! It’s making me nervous.”
Luke sighs and squeezes her waist lightly, “I have no idea. Maybe people are just surprised to see us here together.”
She considers it for a moment before finally nodding her head, “Yeah, that’s probably it.”
Luke watches her look around anxiously for another moment before he squeezes her sides again to bring her attention back to him.
“I know we haven’t been here long, but I think we’ve made our point, do you wanna get out of here?” he smiles down at her and she doesn’t have to think twice about nodding her head.
Once out of the building Y/N lets out a sigh of relief, “I didn’t realise how claustrophobic I felt in there.” She breathes out.
“Yeah, it’s tough work being surrounded by people like that.” Luke agrees, “I’d much rather hang out just us two.”
Luke drove them away from the school and to a park, the street lamps illuminating the play area which he led her to. They sat down on the swing set, both angled towards each other as they swayed back and forth slowly. They talked about anything they could think of; family, Luke’s band, memories, movies, music. They talked for what felt like hours before Luke jumped off his swing and held his hand out to her.
“What?” She asks as he leads her to a clear area.
“Well, we’re supposed to be at a dance right? So dance with me again.” He pulls her into his arms as she laughs at him.
“There’s no music.” She comments and he just shrugs.
“I was thinking,” He begins, looking around nervously as he bites his lower lip, “When you’re finished with me being your fake boyfriend, maybe you could let me take you on a real date?”
She felt her cheeks heat up a little bit and didn’t hide the smile growing on her face, “Well, maybe I’m done with you being my fake boyfriend now.”
Luke’s face lights up, his eyes finding hers again and looking a lot less nervous, “Yeah? So you wouldn’t mind if I did this then?” He asks.
He leans forward, his lips grazing across hers lightly before pulling her into a kiss. She felt like the world around her had stopped, the only thing indicating she hadn’t died and gone to heaven was the rapid beating of her heart. When he pulled away she pouted up at him.
“I only mind that you pulled away.” She replies, his smile being covered by her lips again as she pulled him close to her.
They stayed kissing and swaying in the silence until Luke finally said he should take her home. They planned their first real date for the next morning, because neither of them could wait longer than that.
tags: @rudyypankow​ @chrlsgillespie​ @crybabyddl​ @lovesanimals​ @marinettepotterandplagg​ @alexpjoyner​
724 notes · View notes