*sobs gently on floor*

When matt and pidge reunite, pidge runs to her brother with open arms expecting the tearful hug she’d been imagining. But instead matt flinches away and takes a few steps back with fear in his eyes. Pidge’s eyes fill with tears as she freezes, staring at him with mixed shock and devastation.
While in the galra prison matt was subjected to mental torture to keep him from fighting back. What he was shown was his little sister being hurt and killed by his hands over, and over, and over. So he can’t think of coming near her, if this is really her.
It takes time, matt sitting on one side of the room and pidge on the other just having little talks, trying to get matt comfortable. Weeks pass and eventually matt looks up when she walks in and opens his arms, pidge hesitantly walks over to him and they collapse into each others arms, falling to the floor. Pidge is sobbing and matt is shaking, gently running his hand over her hair, finally realizing he has his sister back and he will never going to let her go again.

Concept: framework!fitzsimmons first kiss is a complete role reversal from their real first kiss. Jemma kisses Fitz in a hurried effort to get him to remember her, and after being stunned for a moment, Fitz kisses her back gently.

i had nothing to do today (it’s a lie, i have like a fuckton of things to do and i’m not doing any even at this very moment) so here a list of fics i deeply enjoyed and that y’all should read because they are The Good Shit™

  • By Any Other Name by APaletteFullOfYou: okay, so this fic has it all. you like flowers? this fic got ya. you like the deep bromance between yuuri and phichit? bam, the fic got your back. you like flowers and puns? j a c k  p o t. guys i’m telling you this is so good and i hope to see more in a very near future because i just can’t wait (if you’re reading this, whoever you are, author, please, update, my crops are dying, my soul is leaving my body, give me something.,)

  • Storge by FullmetalChords: everybody loves a good family fic with all the bonding between yuuri and yuri, all the fluff, but like the very good fluff, the one that leaves you lying on the floor gently sobbing onto the tiles because you cannot believe that your own two eyes could read something like that. i loved it, it’s one of those 5+1, so a good bonus!!! everybody loves it, i love it, you’ll love it too!!!

  • Never Look Away by gabapple & mamodewberry: listen to me. and listen very carefully. i dread the fics where their goal is to retrace all the canon stuff by writing it down and adding things up as you go. but this. this is 120k+ words fic (still going!!!!!) of pure happiness and fluff and angst all together and i cannot understand how. it tracks the canon episodes while giving all the introspection i crave and the good and natural interactions i desire between viktor and yuuri. it’s long but you’re not gonna regret it, believe me. also, child viktor owns my life, my soul and my bank account.

  • Katsudon by azriona: you know how hard it is. to find fics. based on pure motherly love. and the unstoppable force of fluff and family love. while still giving you the sweet and nice viktuuri everyone crave? guys, this fic is like eating a pie. but not any pie, it’s the pie of your dreams. it’s the pie you regret not eating at the shop you passed by thinking ‘eh, i don’t need it right now‘. it’s the pie that smells like cinnamon and it is served with coffee or your favourite tea while outside is pouring and you can hear your favourite song at the radio, guys, do you understand how good can it be this fic? yeah, i don’t think so, go read it now

  • Closing Shift by yaboykatsudon: it’s a retail au. it’s the au that silently everybody wants because everyone undeniably understand what it’s like working in a job where you are really close in losing your shit because of dumb clients and you silently like to project on fictional character who can, in an ideal world, say ‘fuck you’ to rude people. even tho in this viktor is a lovely cashier who likes to talk to old people and yuuri had just started his job. also, please, if you’re reading this, update, my crops are dying,,,

  • The Carnage of the Art by ExorcisingEmily: before we start, kudos to that title because it’s #verygood. so the fic is yuri p. centric and it revolves around how he’s dealing with a career theatening injury and it’s a w o n d e r. there’s angst but then!!!! there’s fluff!!! the angst is cured by love and the power of family!!!! go read it, it’s 10 chapters of Very Good Shit

  • the nostalgic feeling of the familiar by myoue : HOLD THE FUCK UP, BECAUSE THIS IS GONNA GET REAL GOOD. so for those who don’t know i really really love the fake engaged au. and guess what is this!!!!!! a very long fic still in progress with a fake engaged au!!! their relationship may be fake but their slow burn is not!!!! nor my raging need for more unpdates after the cliffhanger!!!!
    also, their writing is #goals so please go read it

  • just like insects by synthpopp: and guess what else i really really like!!! ghost presence au!!!!! and guess what is this!!!! a fic where yuuri dies after an incident an remains in his apartment which happens to be bought by viktor who just happens to have the ability to see ghosts, H O W  W O N D E R F U L and you know what else would be wonderful? an update, because i’m dying

  •  After Everyone Else by dance_across: the summary for this fic is
    f u c k
    literally and metaphorically speaking. this is a chris/viktor/yuuri so idk if you’re interested but i assure it’s really good, it has a wonderful introspection, wonderful characterisation and i love everything about it because it is written so well

  • cast off all my bandages and see what happens next by infiniteandsmall: kudos to you too for the title because it’s !!!!!!
    tiny viktor again owns everything i have, including my own beautiful nana and my bank account. the interaction between viktor and chris are beautiful and i want to drown myself in my own tears because they’re so good and cute and i want for them eternal happiness and good things

  • anarchy for sale! t-shirts only ten dollars by spookyfoot: will it ever come a day where i won’t like puns and bad humour and really bad shirt with really bad puns as a trope in a fic? no, never, and i bet neither will you, because this is so good, yuuri wearing embarassing t-shirts and phichit totally down with that because he totally thinks it’s his style and viktor indulging into this, hands down to the best comedy, 10/10 would probably read again

  • soldier boy, tripping over himself to win my praise by thissupposedcrime: okay, i’ll start saying that from these point these are all otayuri and are all good. but this one. this one is like Heaven™
    the writing is #goal
    the characterisation is something out of this world
    the titles of every chapter, including the general title, are taken from hamilton the musical lyrics, i mean, what could you ask for more???? nothing because this is perfect??? i cannot believe
    also, i suggest you to check everything they wrote, so also blowing kisses to hurt you and everytime i try, everytime i win

  • we got soul and we got gold by barricadeuse: this is an on going series and i hope she got more in store for me because i want more of this writing and this awkward yuri and i want more of what in italian we call “disagio”
I’m Doing Fine [Part 1]

This is a companion mini-series for Friends in Dark Places. I’m having a bit of trouble continuing that story right now, and I got a really good idea for this story, so I’m going to be updating this one for the next few weeks. Hope you guys understand.

Summary: (Sophomore year; about one year before Patton and Virgil meet) Patton isn’t feeling his normal happy self anymore.

Pairings: none

Warnings: depression, panic attacks, self deprecating thoughts, self doubt, feelings of worthlessness, self hatred, minor descriptions of self harm/suicide, minor descriptions of verbal violence

Tag list (send me an ask if you want to be added): @milk-withtwosugars@abstractedthinking @gotta-love-dem-sides @ashrain5 @waste-disposal-unit​ @evilmuffin @taki-random @ts-sideblog @rebbeash@justanotherpurplebutterfly​ @eternal-sanders @satisfied-sanders-sides @teal-eaf @meginoi @holdnarrytight @demonickittykat @musicphanpie-b@lizziepopanime @pat-on-verge @love-sanders-sides @analogical-trash@spaceacephan @kasylikescookies @lackingroman

Friends in Dark Places - Read on AO3

October 8, 2016

Patton couldn’t get out of bed. It wasn’t that he couldn’t physically get out of bed; he didn’t have the mental strength to get up. He pulled his blue duvet over his eyes and aggressively punched the snooze button on his alarm clock. Another missed day of school. Whatever.

Twenty minutes later, Mrs. Shea walked into Pat’s room with a worried expression pulling at her face. This was the third time this month he hadn’t gotten up for school.

“Hey, kiddo. You feeling okay?” she whispered, softly making her way to the side of his bed. Patton was laying in a tight ball under the covers; his hair barely poking out from underneath it.

“My stomach hurts really bad…” Lies. Everything he’d been saying recently was one giant lie. “I think I should stay home today.”

His mom sighed. “Alright. I’ll leave some soup in the fridge for you to heat up if you get hungry, but I’ve got to go to work now. Love you.”

“Love you too.” As soon as he heard the door click shut, Patton released the choked sob he’d been holding in. There was no reason for him to be so sad; he had a wonderful family, so many beautiful belongings, caring friends. And yet here he was, laying in bed and feeling like the most useless piece of garbage known to man.

Tears ran across the bridge of his nose and across his cheek, sinking into his pillowcase and leaving a growing wet patch in the fabric. Pat stayed under his blanket crying until he finally was released into the realm of sleep


“Have you seen Patton? He wasn’t in first block,” Roman asked Logan as they sat down at their lunch table. Patton never missed school unless he physically couldn’t get out of bed. And yet this was the third time this month he’d been absent.

“No, and I’m starting to get worried. He’s been acting strangely as of late. I can’t help but wonder what must be going on.” Logan took a bite of his sandwich and flipped on his phone, pulling up Patton’s text conversation. “And look.”


Logan 🔬

Read October 7 at 7:15 pm

Patton, what did you get for the third problem in the chemistry packet? I want to double check my answers.


Patton 🐶

Delivered October 7 at 7:18 pm

I haven’t done it yet. I’ll check in with you after advisement tomorrow.


Logan 🔬

Read October 7 at 7:25 pm

Don’t worry about it, Patton. I’ll just ask someone else. Good night.


“I sent that first text at around seven pm, which was around the time I finished my homework after crew, and the second at 7:19, so right after he sent his text. He never takes that long to look at or reply to texts. Plus, he didn’t say goodnight to me. I truly am worried.” Logan pushed up his glasses, which had slipped down his nose, and looked at Roman. The usually over-the-top teen looked sullen as he mulled over the information.

“Can your mom drive us to Patton’s house after school?”


They arrived at Pat’s as soon as humanly possible after school. They’d explained to Mrs. Christiansen that Patton had missed school and they were going to help him figure out what homework he needed to get done. Thankfully, she’d bought the lie and gave them no questions.

Roman hopped out of the minivan and practically sprinted to the door, roughly poking the doorbell. He could hear the bright ring sound through the house as Logan walked up behind him. They waited for two minutes, but nobody showed up. He rang again, this time with less aggression.

Less than a minute later, the door swung open and a disheveled Patton was standing in the doorway. His hair was going in practically every direction and he had rumpled pajamas that were far too large for his slight frame. Pat’s nose was red and his eyes looked slightly puffy. The smile on his lips looked fake and didn’t meet his eyes in the slightest.

“Hey, guys! What’s up?” The cheerful ring in Patton’s voice was gone, replaced by a duller version of himself.

Act natural. They can’t know. This is your cross to bear; not theirs.

“We wanted to come check on you since you didn’t come to school,” Logan explained, casting a worried glance at Roman. This was unsettling.

Just get them out.

“Thanks for the gesture, kiddos, but I’m all good! Just a bit of a cold, you know? Well, I’ll see you both tomorrow.” The door began to swing closed, but Ro shot out his hand to stop it.

Damn it! Try harder.

“Woah, Pat. Calm down there. Are you sure you’re okay; you look like you’ve been crying.” Roman’s voice was laced with caution, not wanting to seem too interrogative.

Patton’s smile faltered for a second before coming back with even more faux brightness than ever. “It’s just the cold. Darn thing’s making my eyes water and nose run!”

Lies, lies, lies, lies, lies.

“Right…” Logan didn’t believe a word he was saying. “Why didn’t you come to school today? You seem well enough for your usual standards to not miss—OW!”

Roman’s heel dug hard into Logan’s toes, warning him not to overstep any boundaries.

“I was feeling really awful this morning; I could barely roll over in bed.”

“Pat, we’re just worried about you. You’re our best friend,” Roman interjected.

I’m doing fine.

“There’s no need! I’m doing great!”

Logan desperately cut in. “You haven’t been acting like yourself recently. Our text conversations have been curt and to the point, and you haven’t sent your trademark goodnight text in well over a week—“

I SAID I’M FINE!” Patton yelled, finally at the end of his rope. His two friends stared at him in shock, mouths hanging open and eyes wide. Pat stood there for a moment to catch his breath before he realized what he’d just done. He sunk to the ground and roughly tugged at his hair in frustration. Tears began to stream down his face and sobs racked his body.

Suddenly, he was gently picked up off the floor and carried through his house until he was set down on his soft bed. Blankets wrapped around him and soothing words were whispered as he let out all of the pent up shit he’d stored away.

Soon enough, the tears stopped coming and Patton’s breathing slowed down. He shifted to look at Logan, who was sitting cross legged next to him and absently petting Pat’s hair.

“I don’t deserve you guys,” Pat mumbled, shying away from Logan’s touch. That snapped Lo out of his thoughts.

“What do you mean? Of course you do! If anything, Roman and I don’t deserve you.” Logan had his “mom voice” on and was ready to fight any of Patton’s worries away.

“No I don’t. You guys are fantastic and nice, but I’m terrible. I yelled at you. That’s not something that any good friend should do.” Patton sighed and rolled his face back into his pillow. Hopelessness travelled through his body in icy waves.

Logan made an affronted noise. “That is most certainly not true. Roman and I were pushing you past your breaking point; that was our fault. We shouldn’t have done that. You are the best friend anyone could ask for, Patton. You’re compassionate, kind, loyal, and most of all you love each of us with your entire heart.”

“I guess…” Pat trailed off into his pillow. He heard the door click open and someone, probably Roman, walk in. Logan gently kissed his hair and slid off the bed, walking to the door before softly closing it again. Outside he could faintly hear the muffled voices of his friends talking, but he couldn’t quite make out their words.

He slowly drifted back to sleep as his emotional exhaustion caught up with him.


“How is he?” Roman asked once the door was closed, making sure his voice was hushed enough that Patton wouldn’t be able to hear.

“I think he’s okay…” Logan fidgeted with his hands. “But I do believe he’s depressed. He has a lot of the symptoms: pessimistic attitude, feelings of worthlessness, difficulty concentrating, weight loss. I-I’m really worried about him, Roman.”

Tears began to roll down his cheeks as he broke down. Patton was supposed to be the light of the group. He was supposed to provide comfort to them, and they’d in return neglected him. It was their fault. And now they’d lost constancy in their group. Logan’s breathing sped up as he lost control of his feelings.

“Woah, Logan. It’s okay. It’s all going to be okay. We’ll figure this out.” Roman enveloped Lo in a soft hug. Immoderately, his friend pushed him away, sinking to the floor and pushing his back against the wall. Ro stares at him for a moment in shock before kneeling down and just barely resting his hand on Logan’s knee.

“Hey. You’re going to be okay. Just listen to my voice, okay?” Roman softly began to sing one of Logan’s favorite Pink Floyd songs until he was calm again. “That’s good, Lo. Why don’t you go take a nap in Pat’s bed while I do some research?”

Logan nodded and allowed himself to be led to the plush bed, where he almost instantly fell asleep. Roman sadly smiled at his two friends, both suffering in such different ways.

He sat down at Pat’s desk, opening the laptop and typing in the password. pattoncake2001. As much as Ro loved Patton, he really needed to get more secure passwords.

Google Chrome popped up once the screen had loaded. Roman’s heart dropped as he looked at the open tabs.

lasting feelings of worthlessness

symptoms of depression

how to hide depression from others

He impulsively collapsed the browser and stared at the dark background of the Spotify app before regaining his senses. Ro felt so bad for Patton; he couldn’t even begin to imagine what his friend must be going through.

As he moved to close Spotify, he caught sight of the playlists Pat had saved. Most of them were things he’d normally listen to, like X Ambassadors, but there were some playlists named “depression help” that just made Roman’s mood sink even further.

After a few more minutes of clicking around, he reopened Chrome and began to Google symptoms of depression for himself. He clicked on the first few links, finding mostly the same things, but then found a link to a Tumblr blog. Hmm. That might help.

Roman immediately regretted his decision. Graphic images of self harm and suicide flooded his screen. Panic bubbles up in his chest until he couldn’t stand it anymore. He snapped the laptop shut and pushed it away from him as if it had physically hurt him.

That was enough research for one day.

The Forging of the Wolf, Chapter 9

Aedion’s backstory continues.  Mildly NSFW.  Trigger warning for attempted sexual assault and PTSD symptoms.  Read Chapter 1.  Chapter 2.  Chapter 3.  Chapter 4.  Chapter 5.  Chapter 6.  Chapter 7Chapter 8


Paget’s camp ran like a dream, Aedion decided a month into his tenure there.  The more experienced officers were eager to involve the newer ones, regardless of rank.  They, in turn, helped train the regulars and recruits, rather than that training being left to a couple of lower ranking officers as been protocol at Perrington’s.  As newly made lieutenants, he and his fellows were being taught how to manage large groups of men both in training and in battle, and how to foster obedience to their commanding officer.  Yet respectful debate was encouraged, and good points were listened to regardless of who made them.  

It reminded him of Terrasen.

His fellow officers were by and large good men, though there were a couple who seemed to delight too much in their newfound status.  He enjoyed whenever he was paired with them in training, as he got to knock them down a peg or two.  General Paget would ride out whenever it was horse work, and even though he was fifty five if he was a day he was still an outstanding horseman and intimidating opponent.  Those were Aedion’s favorite sessions, and Avenar proved her worth again and again.  Then there were the private sessions with Captain Paget.  It was remarkably satisfying to be able to punch something as hard as he could, and the captain had him hold weights to increase his speed even more.  Not to mention the fun of the constant bantering with innuendo that bordered on flirtatious.  Captain Paget - Mikkal - had also insisted that he eat more, so his plate was always loaded.  It still felt like he could never get enough.  

And once a week the officers had social time in town.  It was essentially glorified whoring, but Aedion wasn’t about to object.  The evenings off afforded him the time to grab a new book and eat an extra meal before satisfying other appetites.  

On one such night he lay on his back, panting, between two women in similar situations.  He had always wondered what one man could manage to do with two women, and it turned out the possibilities far exceeded his imagination.  It had never occurred to him that they might also enjoy each other’s skills; nor how much fun that would be for him to observe.  One of the women stirred, brushing her fingers over his chest, and he pulled her to him for a thorough kiss.  He just needed a few more minutes…

A faint scream hit his ear, and he was out of bed before anyone could blink.  Yanking his pants on, he ran out of the room shirtless and barefoot, the calls of the women he’d left echoing after him.  At the bottom of the stairs, he paused, listening; he could hear muffled sobbing now, coming from down the hall.  Tracking the sound, he burst through the door it came from, ripping the hinges straight off.  Lieutenant Harcourt was in there, pants down, tearing at the clothes of a terrified girl lying prone on the bed.  He froze as Aedion roared in rage and grabbed him by the throat.  As Aedion dragged him through the hallways and out onto the street, Harcourt made enough noise fighting his hold that doors slammed open throughout the inn.  

When they reached the open air, Aedion threw him down the front steps.  “What the hell is your problem?” Harcourt yelled as soon as he had breath.  

“My problem, you son of a bitch, is that you were about to rape an innocent girl!”

Harcourt tried to laugh derisively, though it came out as more of a squeak.  “You don’t know what you’re talking about, you stupid bastard,” he sneered.  “She wanted it, you had no right to interfere.”

“Her screams would suggest otherwise.”  Aedion could feel himself shifting into a cold rage.  All of his senses were heightened even more than typical; he could hear the heartbeats of the people clustered in the open doorway behind him, could still smell the salt of the girl’s tears, the acidity of her fear.  “You’re so weak you have to prove yourself by taking some poor child by force?”  He spat in the dirt at Harcourt’s feet.

Harcourt lunged at him, and Aedion struck him on the cheek, hard enough to knock him back a little but not enough to break anything.  Swearing, the man charged him again, and Aedion’s knuckles buried themselves in his gut.  Harcourt fell to his knees, retching.  When he’d finished he leaped up, wiping his mouth, and came at him a third time.  One more blow, this one to his ribs, hard enough to bruise bone, had Harcourt down on one knee, gasping out, “You don’t outrank me, you can’t do this!”

“I’ll take the censure if it comes, you fucking prick.”

“I don’t see how you can hold yourself up as some sort of..” he sputtered incoherently for a while, before spitting out, “You fucking killed a man for no good reason.”

“And you would do well to remember that,” Aedion snarled, and Harcourt blanched at the promise of death in his face.  Aedion prowled down the steps and bent low over his fellow lieutenant.  “You might think you’re some sort of stallion who can breed whatever filly he wants,” he murmured softly.  “But I wouldn’t even need a knife to geld you, if you ever touch a woman without her consent again.”  Grabbing the back of Harcourt’s shirt, he yanked him to his feet.  Turning back to the inn, someone tossed him Harcourt’s pants, and he threw them on the ground in front of him.  The crowd parted as he stalked through, but there were a few gentle pats on his back as he passed.  He went to the room where the girl was still clutching at the sheets, sobbing quietly, and knelt gently on the floor next to the bed.  

“Are you all right, honey?” he asked gently.  She nodded, then burst into a fresh round of tears.  He sighed, wanting to comfort her but could see his presence was only scaring her more.  The innkeeper’s wife bustled in with a basin of water and a washcloth, and he rose to let her help the girl.  Out in the hallway, the innkeeper was hovering, looking anxious.  Aedion apologized for damaging the door, but the man waved that off, thanking him for intervening.  Now that the situation was under control, he could feel the blackness pressing down on him and fought to retain consciousness.  He trailed back up the stairs to the room, leaning heavily on the bannister, everything around him going gray.  The women were gone, thank the gods.  He almost made it into the bathing room before his knees gave out and he vomited up his dinner.  There were spots in his vision and a buzzing in his ears, as wave after wave of nausea hit him.  Finally he became aware of a cool dry hand on his forehead.  Litton.  His face was grim as he helped Aedion to his feet and handed him his shirt.  He stayed with him while he put on his socks and tied his boots, not speaking, until Aedion stood up to leave.  Then, Litton pulled him into a quick embrace.  

“Thank you, my brother,” Aedion said, looking steadily into Litton’s face.  The two men clapped each other’s shoulders, and Aedion headed down to walk home alone.

*****

Mikkal had kept his vow to himself for a full month, which was about three times longer than he had expected to manage given his constant close contact with Lieutenant Ashryver.  Indeed, he was beginning to congratulate himself on his self-control when the man in question swaggered into the officer’s lounge, brushing past him on the way to the small bar.  Like most of the unmarried officers he had evidently spent the evening in town, and he reeked of sex and ladies’ perfume.  Mikkal had stayed at camp ostensibly to finish the week’s reports, taking advantage of everyone’s absence to spread his papers out all over the table in the lounge.  In reality, he wanted to avoid temptation.

It looked like temptation had found him.

No.  He would go back to his quarters and finish up there.  As he started to gather up his files, Ashryver flopped down in the chair opposite, sliding a glass across the table at him before propping his feet up and leaning back.  “Thought you could use a drink,” he said, smiling crookedly.  “I know I’d need one to get through all that shit.”

Mikkal huffed.  “Seems like you’ve had a few already.”  But he picked up the drink and took a sip, rolling it in his mouth before swallowing the burn.

“Not really.”

Mikkal looked at him more closely, at his glittering eyes and the aggression that seemed to be pouring off of him; usually he kept it more tightly leashed.  But he certainly didn’t seem intoxicated.

“What happened?”

“Nothing.  Sir,” Ashryver said, the honorific an afterthought; he got to his feet and prowled over to the bar.  Mikkal waited.  “It’s just…Nothing.”

“You know I’ll hear about it eventually,” Mikkal said evenly.  

“There are plenty of women who are ready and willing in town.  Plenty.”  He walked around the room, coming to a halt next to the table, looking down at Mikkal, who nodded, unsure where this was going.  “So why do I have to pull a fellow officer off a fourteen year old girl who’s not?”

That was when Mikkal noticed the bruised and cracked knuckles.  “Who.”

“Harcourt.  Don’t worry, I got there in time.  Barely.  And the bastard’s not going to try anything like that again, or I told him he’d lose the ability permanently.”  

At least it was another lieutenant and Ashryver hadn’t assaulted and threatened a superior officer.  Mikkal closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose.  Technically, it should have been reported to a superior and they should have dealt with it, but realistically there probably hadn’t been time.  Also, technically, he was reporting it now.  “How badly did you hurt him?”

“He’ll have some good bruises but I didn’t break anything.  Except his sense of entitlement.”

Mikkal laughed; he couldn’t help it.  This camp had never held with taking women by force, though he was aware it was all too common elsewhere.  He would back Ashryver up, and more to the point so would his father.  He held out his hand.  “Let me see.”

Reluctantly, Ashryver reached out with the injured hand.  It was his left, though Mikkal knew by now that he favored his right.  Inspecting the knuckles, Mikkal noticed that several of the fingers were crooked.  “How did you break these?”  He brushed them lightly with his thumb and pretended not to notice the shiver that followed.

“Umm.”  His voice cracked a little.  “They were broken in a fight a few months ago.”

“Why did you punch someone with a hand that’s been broken that recently?”  And how had he not known about this?  He’d been having the boy punch weighted bags for the past month.

“Because if I’d hit him with my right I probably would’ve done a lot more than I meant.”  

Mikkal brushed his thumb over the fingers again, then released his hand and looked up into those strange, beautiful eyes.  “How was the rest of your evening?” he asked quietly.

“Satisfactory,” Ashryver replied, that one corner of his mouth hitching up again.

Definitely time to leave.  Mikkal stood, tapped his files against the table a few times to get them to line up, and headed for the door.  Ashryver downed his drink, then turned out the lamp and followed him, reaching him just before he could turn the handle.  That bruised hand appeared over his shoulder to press on the door, holding it closed.  Mikkal turned around to find them inches apart.  His eyes focused on the other man’s mouth, the little dent in the upper lip.  Ashryver was the only man he’d ever met who made him feel small.  It wasn’t so much the few inches in height but the breadth of his frame.  Even though he was lean - too lean, despite all the work they’d been doing to build his body up - he was still utterly overwhelming.

His eyes flicked up and were caught by the intense expression in the lieutenant’s.  Holding his gaze, Ashryver leaned in and covered his mouth with his own.  Mikkal felt himself melting into the kiss, much as he had that first time all those weeks ago.  Ashryver’s tongue brushed his lips and he opened for him.  He reached up to cup his face, to drag him in even deeper, and ended up bashing him in the shoulder with his files.  Ashryver broke off abruptly and looked down at the papers in confusion.  

“Ignore it,” Mikkal said, and dropped them on the floor.  Ashryver chuckled and returned to the job at hand, pressing him back against the door, that long lean thigh between his own.  Their hands began roaming over each other’s clothes, and Mikkal couldn’t stop his body’s response, didn’t even want to.  Ashryver clearly felt it pressing into his hip and he gave a soft groan into his mouth.  He tugged harder at Mikkal’s shirt, sliding those callused fingers directly over heated skin as soon as he found a gap.  Mikkal let his own hand wander down, feeling the smooth ridges of the younger man’s muscles through the thin fabric, then down further to palm him gently through his pants.  Ashryver jerked slightly with a soft curse, then leaned into the touch, continuing to explore Mikkal’s back with his hand.  

Suddenly he froze, listening intently to something Mikkal couldn’t hear.  “Shit,” he whispered.  “The others are back.”  Mikkal wondered how he knew.  “What should we do?”

He heard it then, the faintest of voices.  “I don’t…” He couldn’t think over the roaring of blood through his veins.  Ashryver kissed him once more, softly, then pulled away.  Picking up the papers, he handed them to Mikkal, then moved him gently out of the way.  Opening the door, he sauntered casually into the night.  Mikkal could hear the other men calling out a drunken greeting, and Ashryver replying in kind.  He waited until the men had passed, then slipped out and headed to his quarters.  An hour later, he was laying in his bed, staring at the ceiling, fighting an absurd urge to cry.

*****

A month had passed.  A month of living in relative luxury, delivering letters, and waiting.  In which Delaney had learned nothing of the message she had brought hundreds of miles to Terrasen.  In which there were whispers on the street of the resurrection of a prince thought dead, of rebellion, of the rousing of the Bane.  In which there were hushed meetings behind closed doors and people coming and going in the night.  In which nobody smiled, but everybody began to feel a tiny spark, smothered long ago, glowing deep in the ashes of Terrasen.

*****

The weeks continued to slip by.  The lieutenants were divided into pairs to start working with regulars, organizing drills and planning forays out into the field.  Aedion was paired with Amond.  He was a nice enough fellow; the third son of a minor lord, he had ended up in the military more or less by accident and seemed determined to make the best of it.  Together they schemed and organized and trained, and Aedion loved every second of it.  Loved finding the rhythm of the work, the new ways to challenge the men and keep them interested, breaking the monotony of routine while not disrupting the comfort that comes with familiarity.  And he loved the few stolen moments he found with Mikkal, their brief clashes of lips and breath that never went farther but somehow left him more sated than his trysts with women in town.

One afternoon, Major Ivry asked him to run into town to pick up something for his wife.  He liked Mrs. Ivry; she was cheerful and funny and so pregnant she looked like she was going to rupture at any moment.  Hopping on Avenar, who needed the exercise and made the first few moments of the ride interesting, he made it into town to the herbalist just moments before the skies opened in a summer squall.  While waiting out the worst of it, the innkeeper’s wife saw him and began making a fuss.  Naturally this drew the older generation of women out of the woodwork who all clustered around him, telling him how noble he was, how wonderful it was to have officers with such a sense of honor, and so handsome too.  Flushing beet red, he made his excuses and grabbed Avenar from her tie under the building’s overhang.  The rain had lightened some, but he and his horse were both soaked through before they passed through the gates.  At least the herbs were safe in their waxed paper in his satchel, and he handed them off to Mrs. Ivry.

“Oh, thank you, Lieutenant.  I’d have gone myself, but the major wouldn’t have any of that.  He told me he couldn’t have me be dropping the baby on the public street.  And here I’ve got another month to go!”  She laughed, shaking her head at the ridiculousness of men, and patted Aedion on the cheek.  He bowed and retreated, blushing fiercely again and cursing his complexion.  

Once safely in his room, he realized he was dripping all over the floor.  Stripping off his sodden clothes, he toweled off and then began digging through his wardrobe.  Shit.  He’d forgotten that he’d sent his spare shirt to the laundry for repair.  With a sigh, he pulled out a short-sleeved training shirt.  It wasn’t protocol to wear off the pitch, but he could get a fresh shirt from the laundry before dinner.

He was about the pull the shirt over his head when there was a token tap on the door and Mikkal entered, focused on a paper in his hand.  “Sorry to intrude, Ashryver, Litton said…” he trailed off as he looked up and realized he had just walked into a room with a very naked Aedion in it.

Aedion raised an eyebrow.  “What did Litton say?”  A grin began to spread across his face at Mikkal’s distraction, those amber eyes roving over his body.  

“He, umm.  He said you were, um, in here.”  He dragged his eyes up to meet Aedion’s, then reached behind him and closed the door.  

“So I am,” Aedion said, and closed the distance between them in two strides.  “What did you need?” he murmured in Mikkal’s ear.  

“It can wait,” he replied, dropping the paper on the small desk by the door and pulling Aedion down the couple inches to meet his lips.  

It was so easy, Aedion thought, slipping his tongue into Mikkal’s mouth, so easy to lose himself in this man.  He yanked Mikkal’s shirt free and pulled back to watch him tug it over his head.  Then they were chest to chest, and he savored the skin on skin contact, the feel of those hard muscles against his own.  Their hands roamed, and it was getting hard to tell where he ended and Mikkal began.  So easy to lose himself, and to love being lost.

Which was why he didn’t feel the wave of icy black coming until it crashed over him and dragged him under.

*****

Mikkal had never felt so helpless in all his life as he did when Aedion collapsed in his arms.  It was too sudden and Aedion too big for him to do more than control the fall.  At first he thought it was some sort of seizure, but Aedion’s eyes were open and staring, horror-filled, as if it were more of a waking nightmare.  Then the retching began, and he helped him onto his hands and knees as bile poured out of his mouth and nose.  This must be what Litton had told him about when he came to him the day after the incident with Harcourt.  No wonder Litton had been so shaken.

It seemed to last forever.  He thought about calling for help as more spasms of nausea wracked that huge frame, but he didn’t want to have to explain the lack of clothing.  And Litton had said he’d come out of it on his own eventually.  So he waited, crouched on the floor with one arm steadying his shoulders, using his body to stabilize them both until finally Aedion pulled away and sat down, back against the wall, arms resting on his knees.  There was an odd sort of defiance in the tear-bright eyes, and Mikkal sat back and waited quietly, not breaking eye contact.

He must be ill, somehow.  When he had burst in on Aedion he had been first struck by his sheer beauty, but it hadn’t escaped him that despite his muscle mass, those bones were far too clearly visible.  Holding him as he had been sick made it even more obvious.  Mikkal wondered how long it had been going on, how he had successfully hidden it.  He certainly ate plenty, more than any of the others, especially since they’d decided he was underweight, but if anything he seemed to be getting leaner.  “I want you to see the healer,” he finally said, little louder than a whisper.

“I’m fine,” Aedion replied.  He leaned his head back until it rested against the wall, closing his eyes and rubbing his face.

“You’re not fine.  You’re losing weight, you’re vomiting -”  

Aedion dropped his hands and glared at him.  “I don’t want to see the healer,” he snapped.  “There’s nothing wrong, this just…happens sometimes.”  

Mikkal thought for a moment.  Behind the flash of anger there was a glimmer of fear, and he supposed that having the official camp healer diagnose him with some sort of illness could impact his status.  “What if I took you to an outside healer?”

“What?”  

Mikkal stood and grabbed the paper he’d brought off the desk.  “I was coming to ask you if you were familiar at all with Oakwald.  I’ve been assigned to do a little scouting training there, and I wanted to visit beforehand to plan.  But I haven’t spent much time in the forest, and I thought perhaps you had.”

Aedion nodded warily.  “Yes, I know the forest well, at least on the Terrasen side.”

“So…what if we go together to plan the training exercise, and find a healer on the way?”

“I’m telling you, I don’t need a healer.”

Mikkal smiled, a slow, lazy smile that he knew would get under Aedion’s skin.  “Then it will be a short visit.”

Lurching to his feet, Aedion stalked to his bureau and pulled on some pants, then picked the shirt up from where he had discarded it and pulled it over his head.  “You’re not going to let this go, are you.”

“Would it help if I made it an order?”

Cursing, Aedion went to his washbasin, poured himself a glass of water, and rinsed his mouth several times.  Then he crossed back to Mikkal, pushing into his space, but Mikkal planted his feet.  They stared at each other, so close that details blurred.  “Fine,” he said, and his breath hitting Mikkal’s cheek almost made him shiver.  “I’ll see a healer, but only because I want to take this trip with you.”

Mikkal’s reply was not in words.

*****

Delaney came down to breakfast one morning to find a stranger sitting at the table.  Clery had still not descended, but the fair-haired man seemed quite at home despite his dusty clothes and pungent smell.  He looked up from happily slapping jam on a piece of toast.  “Good morning, miss,” he greeted her in a cheerful Adarlanian accent, slurping some coffee.  

“Good morning,” she murmured automatically, and sat down a bit dazedly in her usual chair.  Shaking her head to clear it, she pulled the silver teapot closer and poured herself a cup, adding her usual heaping teaspoon of sugar.  Clery burst into the room, making Delaney slosh her tea everywhere, and pulled the stranger into an enthusiastic hug.  

“Fulke!  I didn’t expect you back so soon.  When did you return?”

“About twenty minutes ago,” Fulke replied with a grin.  “I came straight here, as you can see.”  He gestured to his stained clothes.

“And what news from Paget’s camp?”

Delaney startled at the name and leaned forward, feeling her pulse all the way in her fingertips.  

Fulke settled back in his chair with the air of someone preparing to tell a good story.  “Well, it seems the new lieutenant class has made a bit of a splash.  All was pretty quiet in town when I arrived.  I was staying at the main inn, just like we talked about, trying to feel out if there might be some work available in the camp itself.  I’d only been there three days when I was wakened out of a sound sleep by a ruckus the likes of which I’ve never heard before.  Out on the front step was a half-naked giant of a man, beating the shit out of some fool lieutenant who’d evidently tried to take a young girl to bed against her will.  It was young Ashryver.”  He shook his head, chuckling.

“Ashryver tried to rape a young girl?” Clery asked, aghast.  Delaney almost laughed, the idea was so ludicrous, and Fulke looked contrite at the misunderstanding.

“No, no, he was doing the beating.  And let me tell you, there’s no doubt that boy was trained by Rhoe.  Dropped the man in three blows.  Nobody in that camp is ever going to force a woman as long as he’s around, not after that.”

Clery sagged in relief.  “And you’re sure it’s him.”

“No doubt.  He looks just the same, only bigger.  Could never mistake those eyes, anyway.”

“Aedion’s all right?” Delaney interjected, needing to hear the confirmation.  Fulke looked at her in some confusion.

“Sorry, this is Delaney, the girl who brought us the message,” Clery introduced her.  “Delaney, Fulke is one of my…associates.”

“I’m one of his spies, he means,” Fulke said, adding, “Come on, man, it’s gotta be obvious,” in response to Clery’s glare.

“But Aedion really is all right.”  She would not be deterred.

Fulke nodded.  “Yes, he certainly is.”  Her eyes filled with tears, and she blinked furiously.  The fair-haired man smiled at her kindly.  “You must have been…close.”

She couldn’t help but smile at that, knowing what he was implying.  “He’s like my brother,” she said.  “As dear to me as my real one.”

Clery began questioning about more general matters then, and Delaney paid close attention even though her heart was singing.  Fulke answered in great detail about the layout of the town, the proximity to the camp, the frequency of visits from the officers, and the ease of traveling there from Terrasen.  Evidently despite Clery’s acquiescence to Darrow, he was still developing a contingency to get Aedion out of Adarlan altogether if necessary.

After breakfast, she was sent out with just one letter, but it was to a country house well away from the city.  Part of her wondered if it was to get her out of the way while Clery and Fulke plotted, but she didn’t mind.  It was a glorious day in high summer, and even Horse didn’t seem to object too much to being ridden out, though that may have been because of all the tall grass lining the road.  As the sun beat down on her and she could practically feel her smattering of freckles darkening, she thought about Fulke.  About the advantages Terrasen could find in having spies of Adarlanian descent.  About her own skill in getting around unnoticed, and her longing to do something other than eating all of Clery’s food and waiting, always waiting.  After delivering the letter and receiving her reply - and a delicious lunch, courtesy of the bustling cook - she returned to the city.  

Dropping the letter onto Clery’s desk, she stood straight and proud before him and announced, “I want to learn to be a spy.”

*****

Aedion shouldn’t have been surprised at the ease with which Mikkal arranged their trip, but he was.  They would travel due west to a small town that bordered Oakwald forest, then spend two or three days exploring the area to determine how best to set up the scout training.  The training itself would take place in a month or two, after the lieutenants were all made and had received their assignments.  Which meant it was possible neither Aedion nor Mikkal would be present for the actual training, so their notes would have to be meticulous.

Avenar seemed glad to be on the road again, or perhaps she was feeding off Aedion’s mood.  The weather was glorious, and the rich scents of baking earth and growing plants filled his nostrils.  He and Mikkal joked and laughed for most of the trip, interspersed with brief snatches of more serious talk about the challenges of training in the forest compared to on the plains.  It was well past noon and getting on towards evening when they reached the tiny town, little more than a village.  Mikkal asked a passing farmer if there was a town healer, and they were directed to a small cottage right on the outskirts, backing up against the woods.

The healer was a pleasant faced, pleasantly curved middle-aged woman who nonetheless made Aedion edgy.  She welcomed them into her cottage, directing him into a clean, bright room that smelled pungently of herbs.  As Mikkal followed him into the room, she glared at him.  “And who are you?” she demanded, hands on her hips.

“I’m his commanding officer,” Mikkal replied, drawing himself up to his full height.

She glanced at Aedion, comically unimpressed.  “Is it all right with you if he stays?”

“It’s fine, he’s the reason I’m here,” he said with a disarming smile, adding silently in his head, Because I’m incapable of saying no to him.

She closed the door and, gesturing Aedion onto a stool, sat on a small chair opposite him.  Mikkal hovered behind him.  “What brings you here today?”

Feeling a bit foolish, he replied, “I’m having trouble putting on weight.”

She looked him up and down with a knowing eye.  “Is that the sole complaint?”

Aedion started to say yes, but Mikkal spoke over him.  “And you’re having those episodes.”

Nearly growling, Aedion turned to Mikkal and snapped, “I’m not having episodes.”  Turning back to the healer, he added more gently, “I’m not.”

“You’ve had two that I know of,” Mikkal retorted, not backing down an inch.  “Yes,” he said in response to Aedion’s self-conscious look, “I got the full report of what happened with Harcourt, so don’t give me any bullshit about it.”

The healer was watching them with some amusement.  “Define episodes.”

“He collapses.”

She turned to Aedion for confirmation.  “If I get…upset, or emotional,” he said with a warning glare at Mikkal, “I vomit and get light-headed.”

Making a few notes on a small pad of paper, she asked, “How often does that happen?”

He shrugged.  “It varies.  I can go a month or more with nothing, then have two in a week.”

After asking a few more basic questions and jotting the answers down, she asked him to remove his shirt and examined him carefully, making more notes after examining his eyes and his mouth, then pressing an ear to his chest.  “How well do you sleep?” she asked, as she probed his abdomen.  

“It’s inconsistent.  Sometimes like the dead, other times I can’t settle, especially if I don’t fight or…” he trailed off, reluctant to say “fuck” to this motherly woman.

“Have relations?” she suppled drily.  He nodded, feeling the blood rise to his face.

“Well,” Mikkal muttered, “when it comes to that, I have the same problem.”

Finishing her examination, she pulled back and tapped her pen against her leg.  “Can you shift?”  He sat up straighter and eyed her warily, twisting his shirt in his hands.

“Shift?” Mikkal asked.  “What’s shift?”

Aedion ignored him, staring the healer right in the eye as she gazed back calmly.  He gave in first.  “No.”

“Could you…before?” She waved her hand in the air, and he knew she meant before magic vanished.  He shook his head, biting his cheek to keep from laughing at Mikkal’s baffled expression.

“Was it your mother or your father?”  

“It was,” he thought back to what he’d been told, “my mother’s…grandmother, I believe.”

She shook her head.  “That’s impossible.  It’s way too strong to be that distant.”

“What’s too strong?” Mikkal interjected.  “What are you talking about?”

“Mikkal. Shut. Up,” Aedion hissed.

“Commanding officer, you say?” the healer asked Mikkal sweetly, and he cursed under his breath.

“My cousin could shift, though my senses are better,” Aedion said, turning back to her.  “We shared the same amount of blood.  We were told it just bred true in our generation.”

“Hmm.”  The syllable was dripping with skepticism.  “Who was your father?”

His lips tightened slightly.  “Unknown; I’m a bastard.”

“Isn’t that the truth,” Mikkal supplied quietly.  If Aedion could have cold-cocked him without upsetting the healer, he would have.

The woman studied her paper, then him, continuing to ignore Mikkal.  “How old are you?” she asked abruptly.

“Sixteen.”  

“And you?” she said, turning to Mikkal.  

“Twenty four,” he responded automatically.  She gave him a disapproving glare.  “What?” he asked defensively, but she just turned back to Aedion.  

“How often do you eat?”

Aedion’s brow furrowed.  “Uh, three times a day?  Sometimes four, if I can manage it.”

She stood with a derisive snort.  “Well, then, there’s your problem.  Don’t you know demi-fae have to eat at least six times a day during adolescence?  You’re burning up the food too fast to follow human eating habits.”  Mikkal looked so shocked Aedion thought a strong breeze would take him off his feet.  “Of course, if you settle, you’ll be able to eat far less often.”  She ushered him to his feet, then opened the door to the small room and swept into the hallway, saying over her shoulder “Now, I’ve got to be going, if you don’t mind; I need to collect some herbs before dark.”  The men followed her, Mikkal still looking like he’d been punched in the balls, Aedion feeling a bit the same.  They were nearly out the door when Mikkal stopped.

“Wait, what about the episodes?  Why is he collapsing?” he asked.  

The healer looked at Aedion for a long moment, expression unfathomably sad.  “A totally normal response to trauma,” she said quietly.  He looked at the ground, unable to hold her clear-eyed gaze.

“Trauma?”  Mikkal repeated in little more than a whisper.

Throwing a red cloak over her shoulders, she locked her door behind her and patted Aedion on the arm as she passed.  “Be honest with your lover,” she said.  “And eat more frequently.”  With that, she walked into the woods and disappeared.

*****

It was a quiet ride back into the town proper.  Once, a number of years ago, Mikkal had taken a colt out that was only just started under saddle.  The horse had shied at a bird and set off in a series of back-cracking bucks; on the fourth leap, Mikkal had sailed over the colt’s head and landed flat on his back.  He still remembered the feeling of being utterly unable to move air, of feeling the earth sway beneath him even though he was laying down, of the nauseating spinning of his head.  He felt somewhat like that now.

Not that it was really so shocking that Aedion had fae blood, when you considered his size, his speed, and his strength.  He wondered if his father knew. If the King knew.  Remembering his recent conversation with his father, he suspected they did.  The general had pulled him aside before this trip and warned him to be careful of the young lieutenant.

Mikkal had laughed.  “I don’t need to worry about Ashryver,” he’d assured his father.  “I’ve never raped a woman, and I don’t plan on starting now.”

The general had huffed.  “I certainly hope not, son, or you’d have more than Ashryver to worry about.  Just…don’t forget what he’s capable of.”  Mikkal had pointed out that Aedion had deliberately used his off hand when he had punished Harcourt, and the general had looked grim.  “I know, son, and that’s part of what worries me.  A man who can show that type of control when he’s in a rage like that?  It’s not just you who needs to be worried about Ashryver.  We all do.”

He was still a bit lost in his thoughts when they reached the inn and requested a room for the night.  “One room or two?” the innkeeper asked.  He hesitated, uncertain what to say.

“Do you have a room with two beds?” Aedion asked smoothly.  He turned to Mikkal.  “Might as well save the general the coin.”  

“Of course,” the innkeeper said, and showed the to a large, airy room on the  top floor.  Mikkal ordered food, and then stopped the man before he departed and asked for another meal to be sent up right before the kitchens closed.  Aedion flashed him a quick smile in appreciation, then dropped his pack on the floor and fell back on one of the beds, just staring at the ceiling.  Mikkal sat on the other bed and pulled off his boots, wiggling his toes in relief.  He needed new ones, he noted idly; these ones always seemed to pinch.

After several minutes of silence, Aedion sat up and pulled off his own boots, setting them neatly by the bed.  Then he met Mikkal’s eyes and just…waited.

Mikkal opened his mouth to ask some sort of brilliant question about the implications of being demi-fae, but what blurted out was, “Does the age difference bother you?”

Aedion gaped at him in disbelief, then started laughing.  “After all that came out during that examination, that’s what you got caught up on?” he asked once he was able to recover his breath.  There was a knock on the door before Mikkal could reply, and he opened it to allow in a man carrying a tray with two heaping plates on it.  After setting the food and silver on the small table, Mikkal gave him a copper and the man bowed and retreated.

Mikkal sat at the table and picked up his fork; Aedion sat opposite him and fell on the food as a man starving.  Which, Mikkal thought with a twinge of guilt, he was.  “Yes,” he answered the question asked several minutes ago.  “It’s been bothering me for a while, actually.”

Aedion came up for air and met his eyes.  “Really?”  He nodded.  “How long?”

“Since I read your file.”  He gave a short, humorless laugh and decided he might as well confess.  “Otherwise I probably would’ve invited you to my bed a while ago.”

Taking another bite, Aedion chewed thoughtfully for a moment.  “But I’ve bedded women your age and nobody thinks twice about it.”

That hadn’t actually occurred to him.  “Well, but…it’s different with women.”

“Why?”

That was an excellent question.  Mikkal searched his mind for a reason.  “They’re less predatory.”

Aedion choked.  When he had finished coughing, he said wryly, “You’re fucking different women than I am, then.”  They ate in silence for a while, and finally Aedion set down his silver and leaned back in the chair.  “Let me get this straight.  I’ve been raised for war, trained for it since I could lift a wooden sword.  I’ve killed a dozen men that I know about, most of them when I was fourteen.  Are you telling me I’m old enough to kill a man, but not old enough to love one?”

There was no answer to that.  Mikkal didn’t want to even consider the ramifications of that word, even as a wild joy flared through him.  He cast about for a different topic.  “And you’re fae.”

Those turquoise eyes showed no surprise from the abrupt change in subject.  “Only part.  It’s not a secret.”  Mikkal narrowed his own eyes at him, and that one corner of his mouth lifted slightly.  “I’m an Ashryver,” he said by way of explanation.  “All Ashryvers have fae blood,” he added at Mikkal’s blank look.  “It might not be common knowledge over here, but I’m sure the King knows.  Probably how the healer did, come to think of it.”  Finishing his food, he stood and stretched, then pulled a book out of his pack and sat on his bed, back against the headboard, long legs crossed at the ankles.  The book sat on his lap, unopened.  Mikkal rose and sat himself at the foot of the same bed, pulling Aedion’s feet into his lap and beginning to massage them.  

There was something intimate about it, some dropping of a barrier as Aedion gave a little moan of pleasure.  He peeled off the socks and dug his thumbs into the ball of one foot, enjoying the feel of the strong arch and the smooth calluses beneath his fingers. “I’ve been in war camps my whole life,” Mikkal said quietly, watching his hands work, “and I trained in Rifthold for a year.  I fought in Terrasen and then in Fenharrow.  I’ve seen almost every torture that can be devised for a man.”  He glanced briefly up at Aedion’s guarded face before returning to his task.  “You don’t have to tell me what happened to you, but you can.  It won’t change how I feel about you.”

Aedion was silent for so long Mikkal was sure he wasn’t going to answer.  Then, in a soft voice so cracked with pain it didn’t even belong to him, he began.  He told about the confrontation with the man who’d broken his fingers, about the ambush with the corporal.  About being brought around with smelling salts solely so he would feel the terror of being trapped, the pain of the repeated violations.  About the threats and mocking words that had been whispered in his ear, the pinches to his thighs and balls every time he threatened to lose consciousness again.  About the overwhelming smell of blood and sex and his own fear that had saturated the room.  Mikkal kept his eyes down, barely daring to breathe, just absorbing the pain and humiliation that poured off this man he knew now, in this moment, he loved.  Only when Aedion admitted that it was exhaustion alone that had kept him from throwing himself off the watchtower afterwards did Mikkal’s own tears start to fall.

“So you see,” he concluded so quietly Mikkal had to lean closer to hear him, “I want to…be with you, but I…” Aedion’s voice broke completely then and Mikkal all but lunged to gather him in his arms.  Pulling him to his chest, he rocked him gently while Aedion’s whole body strained to control his weeping.  Mikkal sang to him as he held him, just the nonsense songs his mother used to sing when he was upset, over and over until his voice was growing hoarse and Aedion finally began to cry himself out.  

As Aedion quieted, Mikkal still held him close, gently brushing back that golden hair with his fingers.  Slowly, he felt him relax, and he pressed a gentle kiss to his forehead.  They lay pressed together, Aedion’s head on his shoulder, their legs tangled.  Mikkal felt grateful for the tranquil closeness that came from the purging of such pain.  Eventually he realized that Aedion had fallen asleep, and he smiled a little despite himself as he rested his cheek against the top of his head.

He himself was fully awake.  The sky outside the windows was finally darkening, a rich deep blue stained with orange and pink at the bottom.  The day’s revelations crawled through his brain.  It was hard not to be angry at himself for not picking up on what had happened to Aedion; now that he knew, it seemed obvious.  He thought of the note he had found in his pocket after leaving the healer.  Be patient, it had said in a beautiful flowing script.  Be kind.

Aedion shifted slightly in his sleep, tucking himself in closer.  Mikkal realized that he had lied earlier when he had told Aedion the story wouldn’t affect how he felt towards him.  Well, not so much lied as been wrong.  He had known, before Aedion started talking, that he was brave; yet the guts it took to sit there in the lamp light and lay bare those soul scars was something he had never seen.  He couldn’t even comprehend it, it was so different from his brand of hot-blooded courage that took soldiers into battle.  Until tonight, he had cared for Aedion, had been attracted by him, even to the point of distraction; but now, this draw he felt was something he didn’t dare name for fear of destroying it.  The arm trapped underneath the broad shoulders began to tingle and slowly go numb, but he didn’t move.  This was the first time since he met him that Aedion had ever actually seemed content, and he couldn’t risk ruining that. So he waited, grateful for this moment of peace, wishing it would never end.

Bloom

This was originally going to be just a warmup piece, but I like it enough that I’m going to be turning it into a short series! This first part is this one, which is BakuDeku, the second part will be TodoDeku, and the very final part will be BakuTodoDeku. Each can be read separately once they’re all finished or if you’re a multishipper you can read it all together!

Read on AO3 or below the cut!

From the time that he was a little boy, barely able to walk, Izuku could faintly remember his mother telling him to be careful of who he decided to fall in love with. “Guard that little bulb in your heart, my sweet Izuku. And wait for the right love to make it bloom,” she would say, her warm and gentle voice making Izuku feel like she would protect him from anything that may ever harm him.

When he was young, he took her words very seriously. He mostly kept to himself at preschool and on the playgrounds, only ever playing and spending time with his best friend and neighbor, Bakugou Katsuki. They grew so close together in such a short amount of time, much to both of their mother’s approval, and were practically attached at the hip during their younger days.

Kacchan would pull Deku everywhere and anywhere on all sorts of wild adventures, their imagination running wild with battle of salty sea pirates and aliens from outer space. Bakugou would always insist that he be the hero and Izuku be his beautiful freckled damsel in distress that needed to be saved. Izuku almost always agreed, just content with being able to spend time with his best friend any watch his face light up with joy. At one point Bakugou proudly declared to their mothers that one day Izuku would be his wife. A statement that resulting in two swooning moms and various pictures being taken to document such a moment.

Needless to say that in their younger days, Izuku looked up to Bakugou quite a lot. He was easily taken in by the other boy’s willingness to always take that extra step forward, even if it resulted in some scraped up knees and palms. Izuku was overjoyed when his best friend had awarded him the nickname ‘Deku’, despite its not so kind meaning, and Izuku returned the favor by giving Bakugou the nickname ‘Kacchan’. When he was so young, Izuku truly believed that he and Kacchan would be best friends for years to come. That they would always be there to hold each other’s hands and pull the other along.

However, just like the flowers after summer, nothing ever truly lasts.

Once they reached elementary school, Izuku could practically feel himself and Kacchan slowly drifted apart. His best friend found purpose and pride in taking on the sort of role of an alpha dog, the other boys in their classes finding his loud and brutish personality as something to be admired. It was shortly after Kacchan took on this roll that the bullying began. What used to be such a kind and warm friendship withered and dried up as Kacchan fed off of the other boys’ encouragement of violence and mean words, of which Izuku found himself to be on the receiving end of most of the time.

He should have been angry at suddenly being turned on by who was supposed to be his closest friend, but he just couldn’t find it in his heart to feel anything but regret for not trying harder to keep that distance from growing. Izuku refused to tell his mother of the verbal and physical violence that he was subjected to on a daily basis, blaming his bruises and occasional tear streaked face on clumsy accidents and stumbles down the school steps. He knew his protective and wise mother didn’t fully believe the stories she was being told, but she respected her son’s privacy enough not to pry. If there was anything he really needed to talk about, she knew that Izuku would tell her about it.

By the time middle school rolled around Bakugou no longer directly sought out to harass Izuku, only doing so when he felt as though he was provoked by Izuku’s words or actions. Which, in retrospect, was still fairly often, but not to the extent it was in elementary school. Izuku made new friends, but the scars from his first failed friendship remained, and he couldn’t bring himself to let any other kids get as close to him as Kacchan used to be. Hopeful and optimistic as he was, Izuku couldn’t help but hang on to the belief that his former friend still cared about him. If anything, this idea held on by the fact that Bakugou still continued to use his nickname from so long ago.

It wasn’t until they entered high school that Izuku more or less came to the realization that Bakugou really wasn’t going to accept his friendship ever again, and he swore that when that realization dawned on him, he felt something in his chest wither away and die.

That first day of school when his beloved Kacchan looked his way and didn’t even offer his usual sneer or threat like he used to and only offered a look of bored indifference, Izuku felt something in his throat tighten up. Warmth seemed to melt from his very bones and drip from his fingertips, leaving his body feeling empty and cold.

And then, he was choking.

Stumbling to the bathroom with small, panicked hacks and coughs escaping his throat, Izuku earned a few concerned and curious glances from his new classmates. Izuku’s first thought was that perhaps a bug had been caught in his throat, or perhaps that he had caught ill and was about to lose his breakfast.

Flinging open the bathroom doors, Izuku hunched over the closest sink to and dry heaved, uncomfortable droplets of sweat forming on his brow as he tried to force his throat to give up whatever had got caught inside of him. Painful shivers made his spine tremble, feeling like they were resonating from deep within his chest.

A shudder violently crawled down his body before air finally seemed filled his lungs, and once Izuku was able to wrench his tear filled eyes open, all he could do was stare in awe at the sink’s contents.

Flower petals.

A handful of soft, velvety sunflower petals nestled at the bottom of the sink, staring back sadly at their former host.

Freckled fingers trembled as they slowly journeyed to his throat, gently brushing over the skin of his adam’s apple. The pained tears from before turned hot and heavy as they began to steadily trickle down red, freckled cheeks, softly pittering against the sink’s ledge once they fell. This time what left Izuku’s throat was nothing like the soft yellow petals it had just produced.

It was a mangled sob, twisted with years of emotion all built up until this point. Overflowing with years of neglected friendship and love, with years of failed attempts at rebuilding something that never had a chance of lasting, Izuku sobbed.

Knees gently hitting the cold tiled floor, heart wrenching sobs echoed off the walls and filled the bathroom. As more sunflower petals softly whispered past his lips, the word’s of his mother from years before quietly floated through Izuku’s mind.

“Guard that little bulb in your heart, my sweet Izuku. And wait for the right love to make it bloom.”

Izuku then realized what had been told to him, and he knew in that moment.

His heart had blossomed and bloomed years ago with love for a tiny blond boy.

Only now, that boy was no longer there to help tend to it.

The flower that bloomed within his heart had no other choice…

But to wither and die.

So that maybe someday it can bloom for someone new.

Resurrection ➳

Pt.1, Pt.2, Pt.3, Pt. 4


A year had passed now, and Wanda, ever so still in her grief over the death of her best friend, watched as her brother weltered and became his cold, arrogant self again, but this time, darker than ever before.

The others were aware of this, all having kept a close eye on him ever since the incident on the day of the funeral, and they were aware of his change in behaviour. All of them had promised that they would watch over him during this difficult time for him, even if it did last for a very long time.


Another night they found themselves sparring, against one another strategically. Just as Natasha and Clint were sparring, Wanda caught sight of Pietro who was walking by, giving a glare as he did.

Slowly and carefully she ran after him, calling out to him, ‘Pietro! Hey were doing some training and some sparring! Would you like to join us?’

‘No, I’d rather not sister … So, back off before you hurt yourself,’ He said dangerously low, towering over her and sending a chill down her spine as he did but she ignored it.

‘Pietro please, just come and have a little-’

WHAM!

‘Oi!’ Wanda held her cheek that was now stinging a deep red imprint, gasping as the tears trickled down her face. Steve and Tony at her side simultaneously as their shouts echoed through the hallway.

‘What’s your problem kid?! She was just trying you to get involved with something to get your mind off your problems!’

Pietro gave him a glare before sending another to Wanda who stared up at him frightfully. He just scoffed before disappearing in a flash of silver and blue, a brisk wind left in his path.

Wanda let out a sob before falling against Tony, having him to gently guide her to the floor as she sobbed into his shoulder desperately.

‘I’ve tried everything … Yet I can’t get him to be how happy he was around Y/N … I just-’

Steve went on his knees beside her, placing a comforting hand to her shoulder as Tony patted her head softly, ‘Its okay Wanda, you’ve done all you can. Now I think its time you let Pietro find his way back into the real world … without our help.’


It was yet another stormy night at the Avengers Tower, thunder and lighting striking out of no where, having nothing to do with Thor’s loud snores as he lay across the couch.

All the while Tony, Wanda, Steve and Clint all sat around the dining room table, chatting away about the new matters involving Hydra.

‘So what did you find out Clint? I hope its not bad news ….’

‘Well you said it Steve, it is. They are bringing the whole cult subject up again! But they’ve been talking about something about a new mutation program that they are beginning, like the experiments ….’ He said nodding towards Wanda who’s eyes widened, ‘BUT, I bet its ten times dangerous that your process.’

‘How can it be worse-’

‘Sir I believe someone is requesting to see you,’ FRIDAY spoke out of nowhere slightly startling them.

‘Not now FRIDAY its late-’

‘Sir their very weak and are unable to even stand. He’s badly hurt …’ At this Tony and Steve stood up and ran to the elevator, a tired Thor following on before disappearing out of sight.

After a few minutes, Thor and Steve carried in a tall, bloody and rain drenched unrecognisable man who was beaten and battle worn. Wanda cleared the long couch before they placed him down, a small groan leaving him.

Tony checked his pulse and vital signs as Clint brought in the equipment, hooking him up to different types of medicines. Wanda watched slightly horrified at the scene, slightly taken aback at the situation.

Finally when the wounds were cleaned and bandaged, and he had been checked by Tony and an awaken Bruce, he pulled away, ‘He’s been beaten badly, so its best to just let him rest for the moment and we’ll leave the interrogation till the morning.’

Everyone nodded with hooded eyes, all trying their best to stay awake before making their own ways to their bedrooms to get some good shut eye.

Just before Wanda could leave she heard another groan from the man, turning to see that he was tossing and turning, looking unsettled.

She made her way over to him cautiously before kneeling beside him as he continued through his pain. She watched sadly as a memory of a woman he was watching was tortured and screaming, blood covered and a mess.

Wanda wiped his tears away before taking his hand in hers gently, and almost instantly at her touch, he became calmer and more stable making her smile as her eyes slowly and unintentionally fluttered shut.


‘Who the hell is he?!’

‘Would you shut up-’

Wanda’s eyes opened slowly at a loud outburst, her neck and body aching after sleeping in the most impossible position. She looked up to see the man sitting up now, smiling gently down at her.

She sat up slowly as well before saying, ‘Are you okay? You were very uneasy last night …’

‘I was, but I guess I should thank you for calming me down-’  

‘Who the HELL is HE?!’ Wanda cringed slightly as she heard Pietro yell out, feeling the man’s hand tense at the sound instantly. She didn’t even look up to know that her brother was pointing dagger eyes at her.

‘If you hadn’t been off in fairyland last night, you would’ve known that our GUEST, was beaten almost to death and needed our assistance!’ Tony said angrily as he and the rest of the Avengers moved away from him except for Evelyn who stood suggestively close to him.

‘Guest?’

‘He helped during the battle of New York, though a lot of people didn’t even realise because he’s so good at fighting and has quick instincts-’

‘That HE has a name!’ Wanda said cutting Thor off before turning to the man who gave her a smile, ‘Thank you, yes I did help during the battle because I thought it would help a lot. My name is Zack Lee.’

‘What happened last night Zack? You never get hit hard like this!’ Clint said from beside Natasha. ‘That is true, but these enemies were quick and fast, faster than anything that I’ve seen! Those Hydra buddies got it right this time-’

‘HYDRA?!’ Almost everyone exclaimed, their eyes going extremely wide, ‘How-’

‘They had the uniform. And also I could tell, their technique was not giftedly born but instead was forced into them, obviously through experiments and such …’

‘What do you think they’re cooking up in that lab?’

‘I’m pretty sure they’ve already cooked up a lot of whatever it is they’re making. I think that they’re trying to create a-’

‘Where did you get that necklace?’ Everyone, including Zack, turned towards Pietro that was now turning red, his eyebrows creased with what looked like burning anger about to blow.

‘What?’

‘Don’t play dumb! The necklace, I asked you where’d you get it?!’ Pietro’s voice raising slowly making everyone uneasy.

‘Whoa easy Pietro what are you talking about?’ Steve said slowly, walking before Zack just in case of his safety.

‘Is that your hobby Zack? Robbing people’s graves? I put that necklace on Y/N’s grave, this freak has lifted it!’ Pietro tried to fling himself at Zack but pushed back by Tony and Clint quickly.

‘EY! Take it easy Pietro! Listen buddy if thats true … There were two other graves down there, both belonging to my parents!’ Tony exclaimed as Zack pulled on the necklace, staring down at it in concern.

‘This was a gift from my leader, Angel,’ He said softly, staring down at the ring in sadness but looking back, ‘But you mentioned a name, Y/N?’

‘So this guy’s a thief, whooptidoo! Let’s just get him to give us the ring and he can go!’ Evelyn said quickly but was cut off my Zack.

‘No, wait. Angel once had another name, one that she was known by her friends, the ones that abandoned her …’

‘What are you saying?’ Pietro said quickly and quietly. ‘Her name was Y/N.’

Everyone stood in silence, shock and mostly, awkwardness. The silence was broken by Pietro who quickly shook his head in denial, ‘No, your lying!’

‘I’m not lying! Why would I make up such a thing. Thats horrible, to lie to someone that someone who is dead is actually alive …’ Zack said angrily, trying to stand up but pushed down by Steve.

‘So what are we supposed to do-’

‘Wait … Where’s Wanda?’ Tony said cutting Pietro off, causing all of them to look around and groan.

‘Where the hell did she go?’


Wanda’s tears fell fast as she stared down at the coffin, now lying against the grave she had dug up with her powers, open and more importantly  empty.

Pietro zoomed towards her, skidding to a halt beside her as he let out a terrible gasp, the other Avengers also as they set their eyes on the empty coffin that was supposedly their friend’s.

Zack now limped towards them also looking into the empty coffin and grave.

‘Did ANYONE see her body?!’ Pietro cried, staring around at everyone who shook their head immediately and quickly.

‘Zack, your leader Angel? What is she like?’

‘Well, she’s always talking about building a better future, for everyone, one that won’t cause suffering to the generations to come. To live off yet Earth, being free and provide a new future for the children of the future.’

‘Sounds like Y/N, to me! Please Pietro we have to find out the truth!’ Clint said as Pietro wiped his tears, pulling at his hair. But Evelyn had other plans in mind, ‘The fact is that you are willing to sacrifice yourselves for a dead person and not worrying about the thousands that will suffer under Hydra! An empty grave proves nothing!’

She was ignored yet again before Pietro said softly, ‘Zack, your leader … Angel? If she isn’t who we think she is … Could your tribe maybe join forces with us and maybe help us against Hydra …’

‘I’m not sure … But yes, we can try and persuade her.’

‘Its settled then. We leave as soon as we can, a small group of us. Now move it!’ Tony said quickly before putting his arm around Zack and helping him back towards the Tower.

Pietro stood beside Wanda as she wiped her tears, ‘Do you think its true …’

‘I think … I can feel a faint presence of her around us… It has to be her.’

‘Look Wanda, I’m-’

‘I know, you were a jerk. But I’m sure you’ve learnt your lesson. I hope!’

Pietro smiled before taking Wanda into his arms, holding her close as she whispered, ‘We’ll find her Pietro … soon enough.’


Tony created the team that would take off that afternoon. Zack, Pietro, Wanda, Clint, Tony himself and much to everyone’s dislike, Evelyn who insisted she must come along.

They made their way through the countryside, running along mountains and ridges, feeling the lush, tangled green grass caress their legs. The echo of streams and rivers echoing through their ears as well as the wildlife around them.

Finally after climbing up a hill, they were able to sight a large camping ground, tree houses build up towards the skies, many on the ground as well surrounded by cabins and large fires.

Pietro looked around desperately for a sight of his girlfriend and last love, taking in all the sights as they made their way through the camping grounds.

Finally he turned to a young girl, saying, ‘I’m not sure if you are, but are you angel? We are part of the Avengers and we have come to ask for your help.’

The young girl stood up from her place beside the fire, nervously twiddling her thumbs.

‘Why have you brought them here?’ A very familiar voice rang out behind them, making all of them turn and their eyes widening, their jaws slack.

A woman was standing behind them, staring up at Zack before turning her head towards them. Her long black hair fell past her shoulders, a diamond like piece of jewellery placed on her hair, beautiful markings caressing the corners of her eyes, a white and gold dress hugging her body perfectly.

‘Oh my God …’ Pietro whispered in horror, staring up at the beautiful girl before them. It was Y/N.

New Management
  • New Management *on site for MITAM photo shoot*: Louis? Harry? A word please?
  • Louis: Me and who?
  • Management: Harry? Your fiancé?
  • Harry and Louis *put head down and saunter over*: coming
  • Management: You understand now that we are taking over you're allowed to be near each other. I mean nothing too serious yet but you can stand next to each other and sit with each other and even acknowledge each other ease it in, yeah?
  • H&L *stare in shock* in unison: What do you mean?
  • Management: Christ. You're allowed to interact!
  • Harry and Louis *hug then begin sobbing as they fall to the floor on their knees putting gently placed kisses on each other's face* Louis speaks as he gleams into Harry's eyes: We're free