Here’s a short, fluffy drabble written for the incredible norbertsmom. Sending much love your way.
When Peeta hears the jingle of keys in the front door’s
lock, he slips a bookmark into the binding of the novel he’s halfway through,
depositing it on the coffee table. It’s not entirely rare for Katniss to come
home a little late from work – her hours at the lab are relatively flexible, so
sometimes she’ll be home early in the afternoon, while other times, it won’t be
But tonight, one-half of the grilled chicken breast and
asparagus he prepared sits cooling under a coverlet of Saran Wrap in the fridge.
It’s now eight o’clock – three hours after she shot him a punctuation-free text
alerting him that she “might be late.” Being married to her for five years, and
dating her for three before that, Peeta has long since learned to not worry
over Katniss’s occasional truancies. Although she’ll give him a scare now and
then, she’s never let him down.
So, wiping his hands on his jeans, he pads through the
living room of their townhouse, ducking into the front hall just in time to see
the door swing open.
And there stands Katniss, paused in the threshold. A cluster
of plastic bags with the PetSmart logo splattered across them dangle
from one hand, while the other arm awkwardly cradles a small, hazelnut-colored
tuft against the inside of her elbow.
Oh my god.
“Whose puppy is that?” Peeta asks, both excited and afraid
of what he anticipates the answer to be.
She gives him a guilty smile, dumping the bags on the floor
so she can hold the thing up Simba-style with both hands.
not a lot. well under the daily turnover. little enough that it could be shrugged off as a night on the turps, arthur’s expensive women. you would even take some of the blame - nick some jewels or something. you’d get a clip over the ear, but it would be worth it when the deal played out and you could proudly take responsibility as the one behind it. to be pulled into polly’s arms as she shakes her head fondly, to have arthur laugh and pour you a drink. to have tommy smile at you again, the way he did before the fighting.
You were seated by the desk in
your room trying to get some sketches done on your tablet. Studying the piece
in front of you here and there, you tried to make some adjustments until giving
it one final look before placing your tablet back down on your desk.
Leaning slightly back in your
chair, you place your hands above your head, examining the marks left on your
fingers from the intense drawing session previously. A sigh escapes your lips
and you agree to call it a day, deciding to get up from the chair and head out
the room. But just as you were to walk out the door, you weirdly slant into the
door frame which made contact with your arm.
The instant shot of pain shocked
your body to jerk backwards, as you clutched your arm letting out a loud cry;
much louder than you would have liked. You tried retreating to the comfort of
your bed, hoping to soothe the pain away as you held your injured arm tightly.
Hearing loud footsteps come up
the stairs, you curled yourself up on the bed and practically sobbed realising
how clumsy you were.
“Is everything okay? Are you
hurt?” You heard your boyfriend’s voice, as you peeked your head to see him
stand by the doorway wearing a serious expression.
“I hit my arm…again.” You tried
to say the last part much quieter than the rest, instantly watching Sam’s sour
expression turn into a half smile.
You heard him chuckle as he
walked towards you to the bed, “Hey, that’s not funny.” You continued to clutch
your arm, as Sam let out another chuckle before taking his seat next to you on
“You okay over there?” He wore a
bright expression whilst placing his hand on your arm. You wanted to nod but
instead gave him a small frown. “It still hurts.” He rubbed your arm gently
before helping you up from the curled position and pulling you in his lap.
Resting his arm around your body,
he used his free hand to examine your injured arm. “Is this where it hurts?” You
nod, feeling Sam gently draw circles with his thumb as he pulls your arm closer
and places a kiss on the spot. “How about here?” He points an inch above, you
nod again. So he does the same by kissing the spot which instantly places a
smile on your face even if it still hurts.
Trailing sweet kissed all the way
up your arm, he eventually stops and pulls his face close to yours as he
brushes away the loose strands of hair covering your complexion. Feeling a
gentle peck of his lips on your forehead, he adjusts his gaze back to you as
you sport a cute smile for him.
A/N: So I made another one of these short imagine things. This one is dedicated to my lovely sis Kristina, so I hope you will like it. Of course, to anyone else who also has those clumsy days, let Sam Drake comfort you.
Summary: @morsalinou said: Your rrequest are open omgggg ok,…. I will try requesting simething for the first time here😅 hmm can i request a smut (🙊💕) where yugyeom sees you dancing in a competition (like hit the stage) or you dance with him you can decide (this weeks theme is love did you watch this show btw😍) and the rest is up to you! I’m so nervous omg😲😂
Author’s Note: i loved this request so much i’ve decided to turn it into a mini-series! You’ll have to wait a little while to actually get the smut part of it though, I apologize :( but hopefully you enjoy it either way~
You covered your eyes to save Yugyeom from the embarrassment he was surely feeling at that moment as you heard Bambam, unable to keep it in, burst into fits of laughter.
“An absolutely perfect moment. Kim Yugyeom, the king of timing!” BamBam chuckled softly, clapping his hands together as Yugyeom groaned softly.
“Oops!” Bambam said, a soft gasp leaving Yugyeoms lips after, “There goes your towel!”
“Youre an asshole, Bambam,” You heard Yugyeoms voice slowly become distant as you peeked your eyes through your fingers, looking at Bambam who’s smirk took up each inch of his face.
“I’m surprised you didn’t uncover your eyes sooner, (Y/N),” BamBam chuckled, patting your head, “I was sure you would have wanted to see him naked.”
“Yah!” you yelled, pressing your palms to your eyes yet again, “Don’t put that imagine in my head!”
Not that you were complaining. Maybe you wanted that image in your head.
“Can you stop teasing (Y/N)? I can hear it from back here,” Yugyeom yelled.
You sighed softly, taking your hands away from your face once and for all while spinning around in the chair that you had been sitting in to face the hallway.
“Aw, protecting (Y/N)? How sweet of you Yugyeomie~” BamBam hummed, causing you to giggle as Yugyeom entered your field of view; a black turtle neck covering the torso that was bare only moments ago.
“Yugyeomie?” you repeated, a slight blush rising on Yugyeoms cheeks as you reached over in attempts to pinch them, “Cuutttteee.”
“Oh, shut it,” Yugyeom said, taking your hand and yanking you from the chair. You winced in pain, the pain in your left leg lighting up almost immediately after you were pulled off.
“Ouch,” you mumbled, Yugyeoms face immediately dropping as you looked at you with concerned eyes.
“Your leg still hurts?” he asked, keeping a hand on your back to keep you stable, “Maybe we should take you to see a doctor?”
“No,” you shook your head softly, patting Yugyeoms chest, “Don’t over-react. i’m fine.”
“Uh, no you aren’t,” Bambam mumbled from behind you, “You’re in pain. You should rest and take some pain killers.”
“We don’t have practice today,” Yugyeom said softly, “so please rest up. Okay?”
You let a sigh fall past your lips as you nodded. You had hoped to go to the studio today to have alone time, to practice your dances and to see if you could come up with any new techniques, but it seemed as if your plans were shot.
“Okay. I’ll just sit on my couch a-“
“Nope,” BamBam hummed, turning around to open a cabinet, “You’re staying here. Sit on my couch and rest.”
“No,” you said softly, “It’s fine, really. I wouldn’t want to intrude.”
“Intrude on what?” BamBam chuckled softly, reaching towards the top shelf to grab a bottle of something you couldn’t see, “Maybe some friends coming to visit? You’re looking at my friend, (Y/N).” Bambam pointed at Yugyeom with the bottle, shrugging his shoulders softly, “He practically lives here anyway. You’re fine. Now stop being modest and sit.”
Yugyeom helped you over to the couch without letting you protest, sitting you down while he sat right next to you.
“And here,” BamBam said, walking over to you with a water bottle and aspirin, “Take these. I know you said you didn’t want them, but you need to take them. It’ll soothe the pain, even if it’s just a little bit.”
“Thank you,” you said silently, accepting the aspirin with a smile and quickly taking them, taking a sip of water straight after to chase them down.
“I’ll keep you company all day,” Yugyeom hummed smiling at you as he handed you the remote, “I know BamBam has errands to run.”
“Yeah,” Bambam sighed, walking over to the island in his kitchen, “Now that the groceries are done, I have to pay my bills and start looking for a better job, obviously,” Bambam said, knocking on one of the cobards, only to have the door slant off of the hinges, “This job doesn’t pay me enough.”
“You can say that again,” Yugyeom chuckled, taking the blanket that you had used earlier and fanning it over you, “Why don’t you rest your leg on me? Isn’t it better to prop your leg up when it’s hurting?”
“It’s not broken, you idiot,” you chuckled, leaning your head back on a pillow, “it’s just a bit hurt, is all.”
“Still,” Yugyeom protested, taking your leg gently and placing it in his lap as Bambam walked over to grab his keys and his wallet, “You should keep it elevated.”
“Listen to Nurse Yugyeom,” BamBam chuckled, opening the door to his apartment, “Yugyeom has my number if something goes wrong. Don’t call me unless you’re dying.”
“Wow, so caring,” Yugyeom mumbled, rolling his eyes and causing you to giggle as Bambam shut the door behind him.
“You and Bambam seem to have a close relationship,” you smiled at Yugyeom, placing your hands in your lap, “It must be nice to have a friend who lets you stay here when you’re too tired to go back home.”
“He’s my best friend, my only friend, basically,” Yugyeom chuckled, “he’s the only person I’ve ever told about my dancing. He’s my biggest supporter, and my biggest critic. It may not seem like it, but BamBam actually comes from a long line of dancing. He was the one who told me about the contest, because he was going to enter it himself.”
“He’s not your only friend,” you pouted, hitting Yugyeoms arm softly, “What am I, just your dance partner?”
Yugyeom let a smile spread across his lips as he looked straight ahead, avoiding your eyes, “Of course you’re my friend, you brat.”
“It’s not kind to call your friends brats,” you mumbled, now pinching his skin, making him hiss.
“It’s not kind to pinch your friends,” He mumbled back, making you smile as you sat up again.
“You deserved it.”
“Brat.” - After a while of sitting in silence, you felt Yugyeoms hand run up and down your leg. Absent-mindedly, he began to massage your leg in the place where it seemed to hurt, almost as if he knew exactly where your pain sprung from. You didn’t stop him, though; it felt nice. He was very gentle with his hands when he wasn’t dancing and doing harsh moves and gestures with them.
You smiled at him, taking a moment to take in his features, when you had noticed him staring back at you.
“Ah,” you mumbled, looking away with a slight blush on your cheeks, “Stop staring at me.”
“You were staring at me, too,” he shot back, “Why were you staring at me?”
“I just spaced out,” you mumbled, crossing your arms over your chest like a defensive child, “Why were you staring at me?”
Yugyeom shrugged softly, looking at the Television, “Because you’re cute when you’re relaxed and not stressed over dancing.”
You felt your cheek flush and your heart rate pick up a bit, but you didn’t dare to tell him that.
“You think i’m cute?” You asked, pushing his shoulder back a little as he chuckled, “Aw, how sweet of you, Yugyeomie~”
“Stop,” Yugyeom chuckled, shoving your hands away as he rolled his eyes, “Take the compliment and move on.”
“You’re not so bad yourself, for a mushroom head,” you mumbled, his eyes causing you to burst into fits of laughter.
“Mushroom head?” he said, a pout on his face as you held your tummy, unable to stop your giggled, “My hair?”
“Yes!” You smiled and ran a hand through his hair, eliminating a bit of space between you two without realizing, “You look like a mushroom!”
“That’s so mean!” Yugyeom cried out, a soft pout falling on his lips as he looked at you, “You’re mean.”
“You’re mean too! It’s only right for me to call you a mushroom after you call me a brat every moment of the day.”
Yugyeom pinched your cheek jokingly, “But a cute brat.”
“Ow,” you mumbled, your hand instinctively reaching up to cup the place Yugyeom had pinched on your cheek. You hadn’t realized his hand was still there and accidentally, you had pressed his hand against your cheek even further. “Jerk.”
“You don’t mean that,” Yugyeom said softly, pout still present on his lips, which seemed closer than they had been before.
When did he get so close? Why was your heart beating so fast? Why did his touch feel like fireworks against your skin all of a sudden?
You felt the questions circle in your mind, and you thought he had notice the slight shift in the air around you, because it quickly fell silent. You watched his eyes as they traveled down to your face, glued to your lips as you bit at them nervously.
Your breath began to quicken as you felt his fingertips press gently into your skin, his hand slowly sliding back to tangle itself into the bottom of your scalp. You weren’t sure if it was by accident or not, but you felt yourself come closer to him, so close your nose began to brush against his. You felt your eyes slowly flutter shut as his breath fanned against your delicate skin, his actions mirroring yours as he continued to lean in.
Steve Holt was a hard case. A petty thief turned depression era bank robber turned prison escape artist. A scuffle with a guard had ended badly for the guard after Holt stomped his spine and left him paralyzed. Holt was tried and given forty years added to his sentence and transferred to Alcatraz, the “Rock”.
While in Alcatraz Steve began to read. Alcatraz had surprisingly well-stocked library with many books donated by wealthy patrons and the University of California. He read books on philosophy, religion, science and history.
One day Holt discovered a book on Buddhism. It was the Sutta Nipata the words of the Buddha. After this, he devoured every book he could get his hands on about Eastern religion and Buddhism in particular. Once having read all the books in the library he began purchasing books by mail order. He learned to meditate. He became more serene. He no longer quarreled with the other prisoners and the “bulls” as the guards were called. He practiced Tai Chi in his cell and sat cross-legged on his bunk lost in meditation for hours.
Prisoners on the Rock were kept in single cells except when given an hour to walk the yard. A small flat paved surface with a view of the Pacific and the Bay. One windy March day he was one of the few men who chose to go out to the yard. There was a scuffle. A man went down. Stabbed to death. Holt was not involved but when the bulls demanded that he identify the assailant he refused and for this he was tossed into “the hole” the infamous cell block 6. The cells in this block were pitch dark. They slanted downward from the door and had only an open hole for a toilet. This hole was a narrow pipe which opened up directly on the bay. The wind and chill salt air whistled upward through this pipe.
The door was clanged shut and Holt found himself in darkness so complete that he could not orient himself in space. In this Stygian darkness he seemed to float suspended in space and time. He had no bed just a woolen army blanket on the concrete of the cell floor. He could hear the sea below through the pipe and occasionally the cries of gulls. So he sat with his back to the corner and meditated. This went on for days upon days. Complete darkness, complete silence, damp and cold. Still he meditated and quieted his mind. Sometimes the images would come. Strange flickering images as in a dream. Swirling galaxies, faces, strange landscapes like none on this planet.
Then one night he heard a strange sound coming through the pipe. A kind of singing. He listened to the sound. He focused his entire mind on the sound until it filled his thoughts and he became the sound. It was whale song. A pod of orcas in the bay. Calling to each other. In an instant Holt was transported in spirit into the waters of the bay. He saw not with a man’s eyes but with a whale’s eye. He understood the songs of longing. Holt then moved his gaze to the City and he saw the restless people just waking to a new day. He turned his soul to the east and watched the sunrise with eyes which saw in all directions. He was a free man though his body remained imprisoned and a new day dawned.
I was walking through campus one evening, it must have been around December, and it was dark out except for the light posts throughout campus. I was going down a sidewalk that, in the distance, went underneath a “bridge” between two buildings. As I was approaching the building, I saw two people ahead of me - one walking away and one walking toward me. As I was watching them, it seemed like time slowed down, and all I could focus on was that one small scene in front of me.
I blinked and suddenly they were walking in reverse. It looked like they were walking backwards and they seemed to be talking to each other as if they were having a conversation and I even saw them wave. But suddenly the scene “glitched” and they were walking normally past each other again, completely oblivious as if nothing had just happened.
My Childhood Friend’s Closet
I say childhood but in reality the friendship stretched to age 17, definitely old enough for it to not just be a kid with bad memory thing.
When I was a kid I had a friend called Harry that lived down my road. Because we went to the same primary school we often hung out at each other’s houses. Sometimes sleeping over. I was always terrified of the wardrobe in his bedroom. The door would slant open even when you jammed it shut, and Harry always shut it without a second thought. 7 year old me instantly assumed devil ghost monsters.
Through high school we crashed at his place a few times, late nights “studying” (Mortal Combat FTW). I came out as gay around that time, and he stuck a label on the wardrobe door that said “BrokenBaubles closet!” (This is important as it definitely verifies that it was there). I laughed and ripped it off, shoving it in my pocket. The wardrobe still slightly concerned me, although now I was a teenager I could justify it as crap hinges. (Further confirmation, my mum washed my coat and found the label in the washing machine filter thing a week later after it flooded the kitchen).
One day, nothing special about it really, we decided to go back to his for the first time in about a year. I said “As long as your creepy fucking wardrobe stays shut from now on”. He looked at me weirdly but said nothing else.
The wardrobe wasn’t there.
Flat white wall with some Liverpool FC posters on it. No wardrobe in sight. The wardrobe was built into the wall of an old Victorian house. There was no fucking way they sealed over it that cleanly. It was gone. I asked him about it and he just said why the hell would he have a wardrobe. I laughed and asked him how he got the seal so clean, he stared at me with the biggest “WTF” Look I’ve ever seen. I guess I left a bad impression by “not remembering” because we never hung out again after that.
I’m nearly 30 now and this still gets to me. I have the guy on Facebook and want to message him so badly but don’t want to come across as insane.
Credits to: BrokenBaubles
A Text That I Never Received
It was my first year of college and I was in a study room with a couple of friends. My phone died so I went to charge it. The cable didn’t reach to the table so it was just in the corner of the room on the floor. Some minutes later I went to check and the phone was charged and when I pressed the home button I saw a few text notifications from my friend Shelly whom I hadn’t really spoken to since like 10th grade in high school.
Like usual, I just skimmed the texts to see if there was anything important and I saw that she had texted me about “tropical penguins” (this was an inside joke because we liked the band Arctic Monkeys). So because I’m a procrastinator I decided to stop studying to text her back.
When I unlocked my phone, I didn’t have any new messages, not from Shelly or anyone else. I then checked Twitter, Facebook and every other social media. But I never found the messages. Then I went on my laptop because maybe it was there (iMessage) but nothing. I searched and searched for 30 minutes and was freaking out the whole time. Finally I had the courage to message her on Facebook (really didn’t want to do this because I hadn’t talked to her in years) and she confirmed that she never sent anything.
To this day I don’t know what happened and I know it’s not an exciting story like the others on here but it really freaks me out.
I Saw My Grandmother In The Wrong Place
I went over to my grandmother’s because she had a computer issue and asked me to look at it. I parked and walked down to the pool, usually that’s where she is in the summer.
As I’m walking and about 30ft away I notice a duck swimming on the surface. I grab my phone to take a pic. On my phone if you double press the power button its a shortcut to the camera. I double press and it starts but freezes and turns to black screen, not something I can recall it doing before.
I look up and I see a figure moving and duck down behind the deck by the filter. This isn’t it uncommon, as my grandmother fiddles with the filter whenever she cleans or does maintenance to the pool. I notice a bright pink color, I figure it’s her shirt, but it’s hard to see much more than that because I can only see through deck spindles from where I’m standing.
I then hear her say, “SHOO” and the duck reacts. It jumps onto the side of the pool and then flies away. Just as it goes out of site my phone “unglitches” and the camera comes on.
I laughed, because she has told me before that she’s had problems with ducks making her pool home. I start walking around the deck and say something to announce I’m here. I turn the corner and face the filter… there’s no one there. I look back toward the house. I walk around the pool. No one.
I walk back up to the house, go inside and call out. She answers, she’s in the back bedroom. I go back there and find her at her computer, wearing a bright pink shirt. Needless to say this is messing with my head a bit. It’s almost as if my brains way of dealing with it is to push it out.
I asked her if she was down at the pool, as if a 73 year old woman could sprint past me up a hill without me seeing. She was not. I ended up telling her and later my boyfriend what I saw. They were both strangely apathetic about it. The whole thing just feels weird.
Chef Charles Phan of San Francisco’s The Slanted Door shares more than just recipes in this fascinating behind-the-scenes cookbook
The Slanted Door: Modern Vietnamese Food by Charles Phan
Ten Speed Press
2014, 288 pages, 8.7 x 11.8 x 1.2 inches
$26 Buy a copy on
Emma Campion, the cover designer of The Slanted Door is to be congratulated for her outstanding work. The contrast in texture between the gray flannel top and the smooth photographic bottom not only enhances the work visually, but also creates a contrast to the touch. The embossed titles further enhance the tactile experience. There are many cookbooks I like to read – a very few that inspire long study of food photography – but how many do I like to touch? Campion has gone beyond the boundaries of cookbook design to create a new sensory experience of the cookbook. She is a true innovator.
The interior design of the cookbook by Bullet Liongson, with its limited color palate, slightly desaturated color photos, black and whites, and cityscapes exemplifying a pervasive feeling of gray fog, suits the San Francisco bay-front location of The Slanted Door restaurant. The food photography may not pop, but it does blend into a cohesive whole. A food photographer myself, I am always interested in the photographers and techniques of food photography found in cookbooks. Photographer Ed Anderson, known for his work in My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz, has a gritty, masculine, street photojournalist style to his food shots and he is not afraid to show dirty pots and scuffed kitchen floors. His best work seems to be his beautiful landscapes and cityscapes of San Francisco.
As those of us who have written cookbooks for chefs and restaurants know, writing a cookbook is a full-time job and running a restaurant is a full-time job. No chef can do both and the wise ones, like Charles Phan, hire a specialist. Charles Phan made a good decision hiring Janny Hu. The recipes work and Hu successfully created a voice that I, for one, believe is that of Charles Phan. To sublimate one’s own personality and successfully translate that of Chef Phan’s into a voice is a true gift and Janny Hu has done well.
I began eating Vietnamese food in 1980 when the first Vietnamese restaurant opened in New Orleans to serve the some 20,000 Vietnamese located here after the fall of Saigon. I also included a number of Vietnamese restaurants in New Orleans Best Ethnic Restaurants, so I enjoyed exploring Charles Phan’s growth as a restaurateur and comparing it to what my local Vietnamese restaurant friends have done. Charles Phan primarily keeps to traditional Vietnamese dish preparation for his entrees and appetizers. A few of the dishes are more Vietnamese fusion than traditional Vietnamese and I find that they do not work as well as the traditional recipes which have had hundreds of years to develop a flavor profile. For desserts, Phan provides exquisite pastries in the tradition of the French occupation of Vietnam and forgoes the fruit-based desserts so often seen in local restaurants.
His two smartest moves as a restaurateur were to free himself from the tyranny of local soda distributors and his creation of a wine list and a spirits menu totally unrelated to Vietnam. Phan removed the soda guns from his restaurant – an action so without precedent in San Francisco restaurant history that the distributor was not sure what he meant. No well-known commercial sodas at The Slanted Door, rather hand squeezed juices, made to order and combined with small bottles of sparkling soda water in the tradition of Vietnamese soda chanh. Soda chanh, a combination of fresh squeezed lime juice, sugar and club soda, is one of my favorite drinks. Hiring an expert, wine wizard Mark Ellenbogen created the wine list for The Slanted Door. He found that low alcohol wines with some residual sugar and high acidity like a German Riesling worked with spicy Vietnamese dishes and concentrated on whites made from cool-weather grapes and reds with low tannin. For the spirits menu, the fresh squeezed juices of the non-alcoholic beverage menu was a natural springboard for fresh juice and homemade syrup based cocktails with an emphasis on tropical cocktails, extremely well done. The cocktail recipes include cute bits of info. One bit that I did not know is who drank the French 75 in the movie Casablanca. Read the book to find out.
Most impressive, however, is Charles Phan’s story of how he raised capital for his restaurants, avoided double-dealing landlords and used DIY skills to remodel and decorate his restaurants without the all too often amateur look resulting from DIY restaurant design. The Slanted Door provides a fascinating look into the evolution of a restaurant dynasty, some great recipes, some even better cocktail recipes and a romping fun read. If I were to be forced to find a drawback, it is that I would have enjoyed the book much more if I lived in San Francisco and knew Charles Phan personally – but there are always vacations. Traveling to San Francisco soon? Put this book on your to-read list and visit the restaurant while you are there. I know I will.
– Ann Benoit
A/N: So awhile back, @startswithhope had made a post about CS domesticity headcanons (which I will link to as soon as I can, but can’t find it right now, dangit - aha, startswithhope found it for me!! Thanks!!), and we mutually bemoaned how neither of us had time to actually write fic for any of them….well. Oops. This little fic is inspired by that list, and all the talk of keys (I believe that @killians-dimples had the original key headcanons, though this one was my addition to the list). Hope you all enjoy!!
He was always losing his key.
At first, it had surprised Emma. Enough of the well-trained
Naval lieutenant still lurked within Killian to make him habitually neat –
shoes were always lined up near the front door as soon as they came off,
everything had its proper place in the kitchen, and sofa pillows were tilted
and set just so (when the two of them weren’t curled up among them, that is).
His shirts and vests hung in an orderly fashion in their closet, his socks and
underwear nestled in perfectly folded bundles in his designated dresser
drawers, and when not in use his few toiletries marched in a tidy row across
his half of the bathroom vanity.
Hello! I’m @nolebug01 and i entered this contest because I was bored and had no idea that i was up against the freaking gods and goddesses of writing ( @bananannabeth im looking at you) But I had fun writing this, its really old, my beta left, but im somewhat happy with it, and i hope you will be too if you decide to read it. The prologue is optional tbh, you wont miss anything if you dont read it.
Water seeped from under the door in warm puddles along the long hallways. The faintest of dripping noises could heard collecting themselves into a rainstorm. The violent pattering echoed throughout the halls like gunshots.
Pat pat pat pat pat patpatpatpatPATPATPATPATPAT
The atmosphere around the room was stagnant and thick; hard to breathe. A guard with curly hair launched himself out of the room, slamming the door behind him and forcing a watery squelch from the other side. His face was covered in a sheen of sweat and he blew air between his lips, red-faced. From the other side of the metal door came pounding fists and distressed yelling.
“Don’t leave me here! Why do you have to go? Come back, come back! Don’t leave me!” The strangled voice chanted his mantra over and over until it seemed to grow delirious. All the guard on the other side could do was sit rigidly in the water, tears streaming down his face. He pounded his fist into the warm water pooling beneath him. His face crumpled in defeat.
“I brought you here, I saved you.” Whispered words dripped with caution, only to be thrown back with malice. The scarred faced guard reached to stroke the subject’s face. She jerked away. “You ruined me.”
Metal was screaming at painful frequencies like nails on a chalkboard. Each metallic scream caused shivers to run through one’s body and hair to stand cooly on end. A girl sat in a far corner, rocking herself. Her hair no longer blanketed her face in golden curls, now turned dull from lack of care, but limply hung in greasy spirals across her scarred forehead. A gentle hand tried reaching out for the small figure but was only greeted by a push away.
“Dear, you’re stuck. Let me help you.” The green skinned guard tried to smile for the girl, to remain calm for her sake and the girl’s.
“No no no no,” the girl continued to whisper, her voice growing in pitch with each protest until it became a shout. In the beginning they were cautious rebuttals, now they were harsh and unlike the small child sitting below her. She could almost imagine the girl spitting fire if she could. Her gold eyes flashed with the metaphorical flames flitting off her tongue.
There was something about this girl’s blood. Something they had done to her. Rocks and shimmery flakes littered the floor. Holes the size of pebbles decorated the ceiling and walls. One wrong step, the guard and the girl could be dead. But that’s what the girl wanted, wasn’t it? The guard’s hair stood on end.
It ranked of metallic blood and unkempt animals, wild animals, if you will. The inside of the door was in shambles, not unlike the rest of the room. White claw marks stood out cruelly on the walls and floors exposing the cement beneath. Fur was floating serenely in the filtered light through the barred window on the door. Blood stained the bedsheets like a crime scene and hardly any of the guards could believe that the boy reading on the stool could be the one to blame. He couldn’t believe it either, that’s why he was reading. Shaking hands from strain over the –much too long- few months made the pages scrape together and interrupt the pleasant reading. He wouldn’t let himself turn. He wouldn’t be the monster responsible for everything in the room. He couldn’t be, right? The hair on his arms quivered. He delved deeper in his book, he wasn’t going to let it happen, not now. Not today.
Scorch marks seared from under the door and the window on the steel door was slanted shut. Oxygen masks littered the room in pitiful piles and gloves clawed uselessly at the doorway.
"I didn’t do it, I didn’t do it, I didn’t do it,” mumbled a high voice.
All times, all days, every day. Sometimes whispered, sometimes screamed, and sometimes cried. No one left Room #67 without burns and a child screaming for forgiveness. A female guard skirted around the door.
Room #025 was sealed shut.
No sound could be heard, ever. Earplugs were mandatory and kept in a little bin outside the door. Caution was printed haphazardly across the steel. No one could hear the quiet singing, no one heard the lullabies, and that’s how it was supposed to be. Once she messes with brain chemistry, it’s over. The subject was known to send guards to their deaths, screaming beautiful threats at their faces, ripping at their badges and clothes, grabbing their faces.
“She’s a living siren,” a man said after the first incident, as it would soon be called.
“LOOK! AT! ME!” No one walked past that room at this time of night. Too dangerous.
Room #006 was bound closed with rags. The window was thick, shatter proof. Not even the highest pressure could bust the glass, they went through thousands of trials just to make it. Entering it seemed easy, alarmingly so. Sticky red puddled onto the floor, causing disturbing bloody patterns to spiral down the drain in the center of the cell. Shallow breaths were only taken here, it was the freshest atmosphere of all the rooms. Crystal clear air, no particles, overwhelming cleanliness that gave you a headache just breathing it. And the static. Guards reported feeling as if they were swallowing volts of electricity, sending shivers into their guts. A wispy voice was the last thing they heard before their blood joined the other on the floor, their eyes dimming and their chest catching. “Sorry”
Wind howled inside, eerie moans resounded through the hallway, adding much more horror to the clinic. No one would forget the last incident, the new blood, two hours ago. “Sorry,” seemed to echo down the halls, carried on with the air vents.
Room #004 smelled of death. Walking near it made the guard gag. But they edged themselves closer and closer to the room before shakily opening it and tossing in a blanket. It wasn’t too long of a glimpse, but the guard caught a glimpse of a pale boy shivering in a corner, talking to nobody but himself. The walls shook and the guard ran.
Failed reverbed in the guard’s mind, the young boy’s face flashing with each thought.
Rooms were dangerous. But the rooms had to be protected. So did the subjects inside. Even the ones with the strangling vines, even the one subject with the ear splitting scream, even the violent ones. Cause really, they weren’t like this. On their good days, that is. Or until they’re triggered. Don’t speak what will turn them. Don’t make them the monsters they are. Don’t turn their two face.
You’ll regret it, and so will they.
End of Prologue
It was always pretty humid in here, he had to admit. So it wasn’t a shock to him anymore when the specialists would come in with choked voices and sweaty faces.
He knew they didn’t like him that much, always glaring at him when he spoke. Yelling. Their movements always seemed rigid, holding back something too strong. Their rare gentle movements always seemed a bit forced, like the smiles on their faces.
“I’m getting better,” he’d spout off, the brightness in his voice all but faded within the first few visits. All he would get in return is an eye roll and a wave. They never said goodbye, it’s not like they ever did anyways.
It always hurt him, to have no acknowledgment. But he knew what would happen if they made it clear they were leaving.
First, the physical signs.
He could feel his pupils twitch. Gross. He felt his neck muscles pop and strain. It sounded like every vertebra in his neck cracked and ran down his spine in violent rhythm. His chest would burn as if it was filling up with liquid out of nowhere.
He wasn’t sure how he did it, but every time he felt this, things would get weird. Weirder than usual of course. The ceiling would begin to drip rapidly until it seemed like it was actually precipitating indoors. Hot water would splatter the metal interior with such intensity it peppered his skin with red spots. Water and sweat coated his hands and arms in a hot sheen. Condensation would build up on the walls and fog the windows. And that’s when things got really bad. With the windows fogging, he couldn’t think straight. It was like the air was fogging up his brain too. Clouding all his gestures, thoughts, choices, actions. He heard it was like dealing with a hurricane. Up close and personal.
He never remembered this, just what the curly haired guard told him. He could feel it until he felt no more. And then he was asleep in a cooling puddle, new bruises on his hands. Every waking moment started with a “Why?”
He shook his head, clearing his mind. It wasn’t time to dwell on his own mysteries; he had plenty other things to worry about instead. Like, when was that curly haired specialist coming back?
He didn’t want to admit it to himself, but he liked that man. He was soft spoken, funny, and in all ways awkward. Lanky arms, wiry stubble, pointy ears, and a mop of curly ginger hair. He spoke with a stutter and in a way, it calmed him. It reminded him of the breaking of waves-what he remembered of the waves he had seen. He didn’t like to think about liking this doctor, this Grover man, but he couldn’t help it. As far as he was concerned, Grover was his only friend in this facility. God knew if there were any others here like him. He doubted it.
People don’t last forever.
Friends never stay.
It was easier to just hate everyone than allow them to wriggle their way inside and then end up breaking it. It was just… Easier this way. He reminded himself this constantly. It always seemed harder and harder to convince himself after Grover left. The closing of the door always felt too….empty. The finality of it was heavy and he just wanted to reach out and pull Grover back in. He wanted to watch how the light spilled onto his curly hair and watch the sun glinted off his stubble and listen to the nervous tap of his fingers instead of the angry shouts that echoed off his walls alone and get rid of the lonely sun light square on the bare floor when Grover was gone.
He wiped his face from the settling humidity and earnestly looked out the door. He smiled when he saw the latch on the doorknob jiggle sharply and a wall of light blinded him.
He struggled to keep the smile off his face. Temporary loss of eyesight never felt so good. He kept still while Grover entered. He watched with careful eyes even though he had seen Grover nearly a thousand times.
The too long white sleeves but the too short white pants.
The bitten fingernails on the green book with stickers all over it.
The bounce of the curly afro dancing with his nervous steps.
The half-smile that softened his eyes.
The way he sat in the sunlight, crossed legs and hands in lap, an expectant raise of his chin.
“Hey man, how’s it going today?” Grover spoke with more caution. His hands were slowly raised in a semi surrender position in front of his chest. His smile wasn’t as wide as usual. Grover cleared his throat when the silence grew too long.
“I’m fine,” he spoke carefully. His eyebrows scrunched up in distrust at Grover’s sudden personality shift.
Grover wrung his hands and sighed in relief. He pulled the small stool from the corner of the room in front of the door. He sat down and pulled out his bag while twirling the yellow gold pen between his fingers. "Good, good. I just need to- um- standard protocol first. Does anything hurt?“ Grover always spoke like this. It fit his nervous demeanor, stuttering sentences, unsure thoughts and actions.
He held out his hands slowly, this wasn’t an odd request but it always meant the same thing whenever he was asked. He looked at them himself before allowing Grover to examine them.
Black and Blue, black and blue. Discolored skin popped up in sore patches around his knuckles and wrists.
Grover looked up with brown doe eyes, studying the green eyes staring back.
"Percy,” Grover sighed.
He flinched. He wasn’t used to being addressed by his first name. Usually it was “Hey, you” or “Subject!” and occasionally “Jackson!“ to his face. Hardly ever Percy.
He inhaled deeply before he settled his eyes back on Grover’s. A growing sense of foreboding expanded inside his chest. "Yes?”
“You know what we have to do now, Percy.” His eyes shone with guilt.
It was the look in his eyes that Percy remembered why he was so scared. “I thought you weren’t allowed. Have you asked yet? You know we will both be punished if you get caught. …Or if I freak.” Percy muttered the last part. “I don’t want to get you in trouble.”
Secrets were a part of this place. He would know, he was part of the secret.
He wasn’t supposed to have secrets with Grover though.
Grover studied him carefully. “Nah, Percy. You won’t spill. Even in your- uh -other state you’re pretty trusting from what I’ve observed. Thankfully I’m one of those people right?” He noticed that Grover didn’t mention telling anyone about what he was about to go through. Grover was a terrible liar. It was probably how he and Percy got so close in the first place, their foundation built on truth.
“Right,” Percy replied. It was hesitant enough that Grover’s smile faltered.
Grover sat on his behind, back to the door. Water dripped into his afro of ginger curls and the curls stood up atrociously. Percy didn’t miss the way Grover’s hand shook while holding the keys.
“You know what we are going to do. Like every day.”
“We’re going to assess my trigger response,” Percy swallowed. His inner alarm tingled. Memories floated past his eyes.
Grover telling him that it had worked before, they can be trained out of their two face!
Grover not answering when asked what happened to the girl who was trained out.
Grover with a bloody nose, escaping out the door.
Banging fists in bloody puddles, light fading away.
He inhaled sharply and shook himself back into the present.
“We’re going to start.” It sounded more like an apology than the statement it was.
Percy looked away, his head already pounding in anticipation for what was about to come. "Kay,” he mumbled. He listened as a page turned in Grover’s secret book. It sounded too loud.
“Names first.” Grover looked at him, eyebrows raised.
Percy already knew what he was going to say. He shook his head. Get a grip
A hand twitch. Hearing her name sent Percy’s heart into spasms. His brain ignited like a match.
He couldn’t make the connection to why the name hurt so bad. Why he wanted to reach out for any warm body in the room and wait for them to cup the back of his head and whisper in his ear. He didn’t know why his eyes watered everytime anyone so much as spoke the name. He didn’t know why she was such a mystery to him. And that hurt almost worse than the two face.
“Good,” Grover mumbled. “Good, okay, good. Didn’t flinch.” He scribbled quickly while glancing at Percy’s face with an increase of worry at the obvious state of stress he was in.
Percy heard the rest of the names, but not really. It was almost like his head was stuck in a fog where only specks of words and sentences floated meaninglessly and Sally Jackson was the only thing that made the slightest sense in all the mess.
“Claustrophobia.” Grover’s eyes flitted up behind Percy. "Can I close that windo-” He tried so hard to be nonchalant.
The fog inside him cleared. Percy snapped to attention. “No!”
He felt his neck straining. No no no nononononono. Don’t touch the window, don’t trap me in.
He didn’t know why it scared him so much, maybe it was something to do with the first trials they did on him. Maybe he was scared of being trapped inside before. But something about closing the window made him want to scream. He already felt his throat closing. He tried swallowing away the fear.
“Why?” Grover asked the question like it was heavy on his tongue. A sigh.
“I won’t… be able… to breathe.” Please just listen, just this once. I don’t know why either, I just don’t know just please don’t close that window
“Can I just-“
He stood up. "NO!”
“Okay, okay. Window is still out.” He shook his head and marked an X on the page.
Blood fired in his veins. His head began to ache. Painfully. Electric shocks were running through his neurons, begging for him to change. To turn. But he was stronger than that. He grit his teeth and forced himself to try and stay steady. Instead of a fog In his head, it was fire, roaring and burning and nothing made sense. All thoughts burned away and any trace was unintelligible in the damaged mind.
“Physical exam,” grover swallowed. “Can I check the scar? You know, if it’s still healed.” Grover’s eyes gave away the beginning of terror. It set Percy on edge. He felt as if Grover’s negative energy was washing over him. He placed his hands on the back of his head and backed away slowly. The clattering of the stool he sat on was only background noise.
“Don’t. Touch. Me.” The last time someone got to his head-literally- he wasn’t himself, he was only a subject in a building that knew how to destroy. He wouldn’t let it happen again.
Grover raised his hands. "I won’t do it. No scar, no scar.” He rubbed his forehead. Sweat and water ran in rivulets down his arm and neck. It took a moment for Percy to realize it was drizzling in the room.
Percy felt his nostrils flaring, He was fighting a losing battle. His vision doubled with the strain from repressing the twitch. He had to control it.
Control Control Control. He was in control.
He watched as Grover fumbled with the keys in his hand, jingling with an annoying frequency. The sound paralleled into tinny bells, soon whines. He wasn’t sure if it was himHe still had more to go. At least a page left after the quarter he had already done. He wasn’t getting better. Maybe Grover was better at telling lies than he thought.
“This is worse.” Grover paled. “I’ve got to go now Percy,” he stood up carefully. They keys were placed between his fingers. Would he stab Percy?
It was too late. Too much. Percy felt the words melt into him and fear settle into his limbs. His chest tingled with the rising words. “NOOOO! No NO!” He barely heard Grover yelp and escape the room. He scrambled to the door, his fingers barely getting crushed in the closing doorway.
And the wretched twitch was full on vibrating inside of his skull. He screamed and placed his head against the door, eyes shut so tight they burned.
A sob built up in his throat behind the rawness. “No-o! Please don’t leave me! Why do you leave me?!” Percy pounded on the metal door. The pain of the bruises were pale contrast to the contractions inside his chest. He vaguely wondered if he would ever be able to break the door if he completely lost it, though he was barely holding on still. Steaming water pooled around his tennis shoes and slipped under the door. A faint drip drip drip noise was blocked out by the pure rage inside.
“I-I’ll kill you!”
He was knee deep in his own miseries. The fire inside was fizzling out, but it all still burned.
From the other side of the door, Grover sat staring blankly at the wall. He calculated the exact moment he would scream, cry, bang on the door, and drop.
Bang bang bang
The angry confused tears
Hes trying to break the door now
Hes fading out
Percy had never managed full two face while Grover was in there, and for that, Grover was thankful .He had heard what happened to the others that didn’t get out in time, that underestimated the children’s power. He listened to the pouring water from inside and felt as it seeped under the door and down the hall, steaming with the boy’s rage.
He hated how he was thankful to escape; to never see Percy’s face like this. He just wanted to do right by Percy, to do right by the world. Not…this. Maybe this was payback for what hehad done before.
He hardly heard the heavy footsteps race down the hall until they came at a complete stop at his feet. He looked up mechanically.
The gold and blue eyed guard, Luke, laughed. He eyeballed the ever growing pool of water growing beneath the door. “Again Underwood? What the hell happened this time?”
Grover gave a half-hearted shrug. “He freaked. Just…turned.” Lies.
Luke clapped him on the shoulder. “Well, it sounds like mama’s boy is out. C'mon man.” Luke offered him a hand before laughing again. “He has to be one of the clingiest subjects we have.”
“Just scared no one will come back, I guess.” Grover stood up shakily.
“Wish the others thought like that mate. At least he goes out quick.” Luke flashed his eyes to the door again, the only sound within the room was dripping water and uneven breathing.
“Yeah, he’s out,” Grover tried to mask the discouragement in his voice.
A guard with an eye patch spoke up, a scowl on his face. "Hey, least you don’t have La ‘Rue.” He pointed to his eye patch. “Took out my fucking eye. All this one can do is drown yah, and he hasn’t caused any deaths yet.”
I’ll kill you reverberated in Grover’s mind. “Yeah,” he laughed nervously. “No deaths yet.”
The group of guards walked down the hallway, sharing banter that nonetheless made Grover nervous. “McLean nearly gutted Khione today with a hair clip. Hair clip! She’s a feisty one ever since we got a hold of her.”
“Did you hear about Grace? Knocked himself out again. We’re gonna have a chilly night tonight because of him now.”
"Levesque was surprisingly calm today, Juniper didn’t leave with anything wrong with her.”
“Yet,” Luke pointed out. “Doesn’t matter what or when, but visiting Levy always gets you. You’d think she would have cursing abilities. Ha! That would be a success in our book. Have the Titans fight that.”
Hearing the words Titans made Grover shudder. The group never seemed to be a real threat until they were brought up and he remembered why he was here. Why they did their jobs like this. Why they took the kids.
Forget about it
Grover chewed on his fingernails. "What about your girl, Luke. Chase?” Grover wanted the girl the minute she came through the doors. A passed out 7 year old with wicked smarts. Working with her could get him somewhere. As far as they knew she didn’t have anything lethal in store for them.
Luke’s smile faded off his face. His scar twitched. It reminded Grover of the scar all the subjects had. He shuddered.
“Uh, she’s fine. Cooperating well. Yeah.” He clapped his hands and turned back to face Grover and his friend, Ethan. “Whelp! Night shift turns begin now and we’re the lucky ones that don’t have it! Ave us!” He turned on his heel and walked away briskly. Ethan waved a careless farewell and Grover was standing alone in the halls. His mind mulled over the results from the trigger assessment. Delayed response to first few that was progress. But he blew up. Still. It didn’t take whoa- It didn’t take her long. She was a powerhouse though, willing to do whatever it took for her to be the best. Grover shook his head. Valdez was still whining and the lamps were flickering; Grace.
He always gets antsy at night, Grover thought drearily. He yawned miserably and slid into his room. Just another long day, he consoled himself.
Harsh breaths. Stifled voice. Percy could hear the wind crying. Maybe it was someone else, he mused. Maybe he wasn’t alone in this god forsaken place.
The thought calmed him. He was about to blame the movement of his lock on the strong breeze that ran through the hallway until the door spoke. Soft, feminine.
Percy sat up straight, ignoring the cry of pain in his back. He scooched closer to the door slit until he heard faint breathing like his own.
“Subject? Are you in here?”
Percy breathed out a sigh of relief he didn’t know he was holding. His arms tingled. “Yes,” he coughed out.
“I’m Annabeth Chase and I know how to get out of here.”
First thought: What the-?
Second thought: This is a joke
Percy leaned against the door, closing his eyes in exasperation. He was drained, cold, and tired of the mind games. This girl, this Annabeth Chase, was surely just a figment of his delirious imagination.
His eyes snapped open when he heard another tap. “Subject?”
He scooted closer. “Who are you?” He hardly heard himself over his own heartbeat.
The girl on the other side of the door sighed. “I’m Annabe-”
“No. Who. Are. You?” He spoke each word as clearly as he could while keeping his voice low. Names were nothing in this place, so who was she really besides this “Annabeth”?
There was a hesitation from the other side, mulling over her response. “I’m a subject here too. Luke Castellan is my guard”- Percy had never heard of him. He wondered if Grover knew him, talked to him even.
“I have one alteration. Power, if that’s what it’s referred to. I don’t think it can even be called a power.” She said it disapprovingly.
“I’m positive I know yours.” He cringed when he realized that the puddle of water was still seeping from under the door and she was likely sitting in it. She continued, “I can get us out.“
Percy’s heart rate picked up even faster. Any faster and he figured he would have a heart attack.
"How did you get out of your cell?” And teach me please
"That’s where the ‘power’ comes in, but there’s no time for that. Are you in?”
The mood dropped there. He wanted more of what she was talking about. He wanted more about her. There was another one in this place. But the awe filled moment was ruined. Just another plan, another trial.
“Are you in?” he said incredulously. “I just met you.”
“Well, it looks like you’re going to have to trust me aren’t you?” From the tone of her voice Percy envisioned her hands on her hips. He bit back a frustrated groan.
Percy rolled the thought over in his mind. Would he trust someone to get him out of here? Did he even have enough trust to spare? He set his head against the door again. A hollow thud echoed in the enclosed room. He had a bitter taste in his mouth when he spoke again.
“I trust yo-” no-“I trust your plan, I suppose even though I don’t even know it.” He felt his chest sinking with each syllable. What had he gotten himself into? What level of stupidity did this even land on?
“Good,” was all Annabeth said. “I’ll be back at the same time tomorrow, Subject.”
"Percy. My name is Percy. Please don’t ever call me subject again.” Subject was just a brand name given out to the meaningless. The replaceable. He didn’t want to be that.
“Okay, Percy. One more thing. We-we aren’t alone in this place.”
He didn’t know what shocked him more. The last sentence or the lack of shadow when he heard her move away from the door.
Percy couldn’t sit still while Grover was there. His knees bounced, his fingers tapped, and he kept rolling water over his shoulders. Grover stared at him in apprehension.
“You seem a bit-ah- hyper today, Percy,” Grover stuttered.
Percy shrugged. “Just thinking.” Play it cool. If you want answers, play.it.cool.
Immediately Grover’s eyes widened. Whatever a subject could possibly be thinking about, it couldn’t be good.
They can’t have minds of their own. Let them have that power, and the two face will never be controlled again. They. Can’t. Think.
Grover remembered the day he was told that. Luke close to his face, as if he forgot that Grover was the reason he got here, that Grover was his superior, and hissed the words at him. Grover wondered if that changed once Luke got a hold of Chase.
Grover cleared his throat, forcing the bitter memories from his mind. “What about, Percy?”
Percy stopped moving all of a sudden. He tilted his head carelessly and his black hair swept across his eyes. He didn’t mind it so much anymore. It had been a while since his hair had been cut last. It nearly touched the back of his neck. He chewed on the inside of his cheek. Don’t make it obvious, start slow.
He almost spat out the words, “Hey, Grover! I met someone last night and there are others here too! Anything else you’d like to explain?” He bit back the sarcastic sentences bubbling up in his throat. Slow.
“What were you before you were here, Grover?”
Grover pretended not to be shocked at the random question. He calmed his sudden racing heart and took a deep breath. “I worked in a lab. I helped with genetic modifications, improving sequences is an easier way to put it I suppose.”
Percy seemed interested in the thought. "Do you miss it?”
“What made you come here?” Now this was something Percy had been dying to know.
Oh boy. “I-ah- heard that there were genetic projects going on and I figured that with my small experience I could maybe help. I thou-I figured that I could be part of something good.”
The next question Grover swore he felt his heart stop.
“Were you right?”
"Now, Percy, that’s not why I’m here; to just talk about my past. It’s gone, it doesn’t matter anymore.” Grover chuckled nervously. What’s going on?
“Does it? Does it not matter?” Percy kept his voice low. The way he kept pressing for answers made Grover feel like he knew something he wasn’t supposed to. That was bad, really, really bad.
He tried to harden his voice. “No. It doesn’t matter. It never will. I’m here and that’s that. Now what I came for-”
“There’s others here. I hear them. I’m -I’m not alone,” Percy said suddenly. It seemed he couldn’t contain himself any longer; his chest heaving in anticipation and his arms still as stone on his knees, fingers turning white. His mouth twitched in a crooked smile that Grover came to miss. Now, it just seemed threatening.
Grover’s face paled and he glanced at the door, praying no one heard the echoing accusation. “What? I don’t-I don’t understand.” His voice came out low and hoarse.
“I’m. Not. The only. Subject.” With each word he let a single drop of water fall on Grover’s head. He looked like he wanted to laugh. Percy didn’t abuse his powers like he was now. In fact, he hardly used them at all. The rolling of water and water droplets was so out of character Grover was beginning to wonder if the chips inside him were becoming faulty.
“How do you figure?” Grover shook the collecting water droplets off his head.
That’s where Percy faltered. “I told you, I can hear them.” He seemed unsure of his answer. He was hiding something.
“And you just figured this out… now?”
His eyes brightened and he sat up straighter. “So it’s true! Are they my age?”
“N- I mean yes. and Yes. It is. When did you figure this out?” Grover figured that if the chip inside him was messed up, he had nothing to lose. The clinic would handle it. The thought made Grover sick to his stomach.
Percy chewed on his lip. “I’ve figured it for a while, but after what I heard last night, I’m positive.”
Grover wiped his face. “Must’ve heard Grace, or, or the one on top floor. Maybe Valdez?” He mumbled shakily. Percy strained to hear the names.
Grover finally sat up and looked Percy wearily in the eyes. “Why do you want to know this?” His hands flew uselessly into a shrug and he sat defeated.
“Why wouldn’t you tell me? Why couldn’t I know? So many whys and you never bothered to tell me. Or anyone of us stuck in these cells. So just…Why?”
Grover grit his teeth. “Because I couldn’t. I can’t tell you. It’s against my contract.” I’m keeping you alive as long as possible.
The anger faded off Percy’s face and left it to form a concerned expression. His eyebrows scrunched together and he frowned. “Why?” Again with the why’s.
“I’ll get in trouble. I’ll-I’ll get kicked out. I need to be here.” You’ll die
Percy stopped himself from asking why again. The questions jammed in the back of his throat. He just stared blankly at the distraught guard in front of him and forced down the guilt inside. Just one more question, one more.
“Why me? Why did you pick me?” His heart leaped and bounded against his ribcage. His throat was raw with fear. He wondered if he really had to know this. Was this important? He took a wobbly breath through his mouth. All water was still.
Grover’s eyes were shiny and his smile was thin. “Because I wanted to protect you.”
It began to drizzle in the room and for once, Grover wasn’t leaping for the door.
Annabeth was short tempered with Luke when he came to do his daily rounds. It wasn’t uncommon for her to easily spike her anger, but with Luke it had become a daily occurrence. Her fingers clenched and unclenched every time she tried to bring up something and Luke spoke over her. Luke kept brushing her off and trying to talk to her like he was her friend. Friend! When she was younger maybe, this may have worked.
I was so naïve then… I worshipped him like a god…
But now, it only fueled her hatred. She felt like he was just pouring more gasoline onto her open flame. Luke could tell she was on edge, she could tell by the way his eyes squinted; scanning her every fidgety, rigid movement. She felt a little guilty for being like this, but was it really her fault he made her this way?
Every night was plagued with “Who are the good people in this world?” She never knew where to place Luke. She placed all of the other workers in the deepest darkest rank she had. The fury burning in her gut was especially for whoever created this place. But only a small flicker of kindness remained for Luke. He was a part of this miserable clinic, but he was her friend. He talked to her. He treated her like she was sane. He treated her like a person, which she didn’t even consider herself sometimes. There were exceptions though.
He was rambling on and on and on and on and on about something she had merely questioned the night before. Something hazardous. Something she would get reprimanded for. But she hardly had the energy to listen to the obvious. And anyways, didn’t she have a right to know why she was here?
She took a deep breath through her nose. “Luke.”
He stopped talking. “What? Look, I know you’re upset but-”
“Why can’t you just answer any of my questions for once? Please? I just want to know what exactly goes on here.” Loose ends Annabeth, loose ended questions and he’ll give you something new.
"Know what?”-No such luck this time-“I can’t tell you everything. It’s my job and I’ve done enough. I don’t want to be the bad guy.”
Her lip curled up and she replied with snark clipping the ends of her words.
“You already are.” She let the words slip out of her mouth without even thinking of them. Her quick reaction made her think about her true impression of him rather than the one she tried to force upon herself day after day, night after night.
“Stop that,” he hissed. “I protected you. You were all alone and she and I-”
“Save it, I’m sick of your stories.” She was shocked when the words rolled off her tongue. She never spoke to him like this, even during all the other times she was furious with him.
Luke suddenly stood up, anger flashing dangerously in his one gold and one blue eye. “You know what? I’ve tried everything. I’ve done everything I could to treat you like you’re normal, to treat you like an equal. And you just toss insults to my face. This isn’t my fault. None of this is. Don’t expect to get anything out of me ever again. One day you’ll understand.”
He stood up and slammed the door. Annabeth sighed. It wasn’t like him to lose his temper like that. But it wasn’t unlike him to lie. She rubbed a hand on the back of her head, roaming over the raised scar in her hair.
Lie #1- This isn’t my fault.
Of course it is. You brought me here.
Lie #2- I treat you like a normal, an equal.
Honestly you should’ve regretted that the minute it came out of your mouth. Referring to me as if I was anything other isn’t treating me as an equal, thank you very much.
Lie #3- One day you’ll understand.
I don’t think I ever will.
She placed her head on the table in front of her, relishing in the cool texture on her heated face. Her fingers absentmindedly traced the pencil marks underneath the table. Silently, she lifted it up and cautiously turned it over. Underneath the metal table were chicken scratches of notes everywhere. Diagrams, numbers, graphs, drawings, everything. Everything she pulled out of Luke. Everything she heard.
A fresher pencil mark stood out at the very corner of the table.
Annabeth stared at the time scrawled on her notes. The clock on her wall read 6:30, sharp. Three hours left. She picked up her hand and watched as it faded away.
Annabeth watched the clock with an unwavering gaze. She hardly gave a glance to the green lady who walked in to clean her room and give her supper. She didn’t eat. When it was 9:15, she took off her shirt.
I hate this, she thought to herself. The hallways were cold, and probably wet over where Stubborn Aqua Boy was surely at.
She raged internally at the extent of her powers. It would be illogical if she could make more than just herself translucent, but her clothes as well. But nooooooo, if she wanted to sneak out, she had to strip to only the sheer cover-up they were given at shower time. The thin fabric wouldn’t reflect as much as the bright yellow standard night clothes they were issued. Maybe they would think it was a ghost, and honestly she wouldn’t be surprised if there were any in the place.
Or I could just take my chances…
Yikes, no. She cringed at what could happen. Handcuffs, rough arms, bruises, no light and a locked door.
It was 9:25 by the time she stopped wallowing in her self-pity and anger at her own stupid little power. She took a deep breath and watched as her body no longer was visible, not including the sparse layer. She grabbed the handle of the door and the model of the key she had taken from Luke. He wasn’t the only one good at swiping things. She unlocked her door, flinching at the creak it made. She prayed to whatever gods above that no one would hear her just like the night before. Wrapping her arms around herself, she tiptoed quickly to the tap water scented room down the hall.
She sat on her knees and right when she was about to knock she heard shifting inside. "Annabeth?” A voice whispered.
“Good, because I’m too tired to think up an excuse to why I said your name if someone else was at the door.”
“You need to be careful, Sub-Percy. This could be big trouble.”
She heard him snort from the other side of the wall. “I thought this already was. Anyways, I was 99% positive it was you.”
“How so?” She crinkled her brow and swiped back the invisible hair tickling her thighs.
“One, I heard you sitting down. Two, I can’t see you, just like last night. And yet you’re talking to me.”
“What do you mean, can’t see me. I’m on the other side of the door stupid.”
“Anyone visible would cast a shadow under my door. I see it all the time. You don’t. So, why don’t you confirm that little power with me Annabeth?”
She blushed furiously. She had wanted to keep it secret for longer, much longer than one night. She cursed in her head.
I’m usually so careful…I’m so stupid.
“I can turn translucent.” With his power, this shouldn’t be shocking, she thought.
“Yeaahhh, invisible sounds cooler.”
“But it’s not quite that, Kelp for brains, or else I would’ve said that.”
“Only my body can go ‘invisible’. You’d see my clothes shadows if I was wearinn…..” She slapped a hand over her mouth.
“Wait, What?!” the boy shrieked. She could hear a thump from the other side. It sounded like he hit his head on something from jerking in surprise. If she wasn’t so mortified, she would’ve laughed.
She let a breath out through her teeth. “Yes, yes. Let’s get it over with. I’m wearing the sheer cover-up from the showers. Now shut up we have to talk.”
He was hesitant before he answered. She smacked her forehead. “Ookay.”
She heaved a deep sigh before continuing. “Okay, like I said last night, there are other people in this clinic.”
“I just got that out of my guard today. I can’t believe he admitted it.”
“Pleeease tell me you weren’t being obvious.”
"Duh, I’m not stupid. I’m not going to be obvious about this. I told him that I could hear them. He started muttering names.”
It sounded like he was scratching his head. “I think I heard something like "Valdoh, Valdoo, Valday? I don’t know. And Grace?”
“…Grace. He might be referring to the boy that messes with the air conditioner.” She scowled at the way the frigid air seemed to escape the vents at high speed this night. Sometimes, Jason could get pretty annoying with the air.
“It’s his last name. And for the other one, I think Valdez? Is that it? Luke doesn’t care for him much.”
“Yeah Valdez!” Percy snapped his fingers. The sound was tinny through the hallways. Annabeth looked around the hallway cautiously.
“I know a few more. You’re the only one I’ve talked too.”
“Gee, I feel special.”
Her face burned. “Shut up, you were the easiest.”
“Most convenient, huh?”
"Shut up! Do you want to know their names or not?”
“Sorry,” he mumbled. He sounded somewhat annoyed with a little trace of sincerity behind his words, and Annabeth felt bad for snapping at him. He was obviously trying to make the situation more comfortable than it was. It was a bit awkward. Not to mention, stressful. “I do want to know.”
Annabeth sucked in a breath, casting her eyes around the hallway before leaning closer to the door. “Valdez, Zhang, Levesque, Mclean; I heard she’s dangerous. Anyways, Grace, and diAngelo I think, and then there are a few on the top floor. I need to get these to cooperate right now. We will have a team of eight, including us. Then we need to figure out how to get to the next floor, if we even can.”
“What exactly are we going to do, Annabeth? I’ve already figured to get out, but to go through with this, insane.” Percy was silent for a few seconds before speaking again. "This is huge Annabeth. It’s just going to be you sneaking around? What if you get caught?”
“I’m invisible or however you want me to say it.”
“No, seriously. I want to help.” He sounded earnest.
Percy snorted. “That’s the second time we’ve said that this whole conversation. And you heard me, I want to help.”
“How are you going to do that?”
“That’s a good question. But, I’ll figure it out, I promise.”
“Don’t promise anything you can’t back up.”
“Oh come on, have faith in your fellow 12 year old.”
I have faith that he’s going to be pretty difficult about this…
This is based on a request
I hope you guys like it :)
Rain trickled down the window and I turned to cuddle into Tom, just to realize that the bed was empty. The soft pitter-patter of rain muffled the noise from the kitchen - breakfast, of course. Even though the bed was where I imagined staying all day, I’d much rather feel Tom’s arms around me. I got up and walked to the kitchen. I didn’t mean to sneak up on him, but being barefoot he didn’t hear me coming. Well if I didn’t think it before, I now needed no convincing: Tom really is a breakfast enthusiast. Mid-spin he realized I was experiencing his little dance. Stopping dead in his tracks, he faced me and tipping his glasses said, “It’s called breakfast in bed for a reason, Taylor,” a smile playing on his lips. I ran up to him, sliding my hands around his waist and up his back to pull him closer. “I wanted to say good morning,” I said, smiling innocently up at him; knowing the effect I have on him.
The rain came down harder and slanted against the front door. It was a downpour.
He tipped my chin and pulled me in even closer and kissed me ‘till my head spun and my blood simmered through my veins. His lips lingered on mine and when he pulled away slightly he whispered, “my eggs…”; so I started laughing and slapped him lightly on the chest, before heading back to bed, so that he can continue his breakfast preparations.
Every now and again the rain would let up and send rays through the dark clouds, but soon enough droplets would start to gather on the window sill again. Many a song I have written involved rain. I opened the drawer of my bedside table and pulled out my notebook. But today I didn’t feel like writing; I felt like revealing.
I read over what I had written the week before and looked back up to stare out of the window. The sea was always rough in this stormy weather. The waves seemed to represent my jumbling thoughts.
I tiptoed out of bed again, snatched my guitar from where it stood in the corner and plunked back down on the bed. I softly started playing the melody that has been running through my mind for days on end. Along with the rain, the lyrics I had just read came pouring out. I closed my eyes and every note fell and sunk into the turbulent sea and I got swept along, my voice swelling with the tide.
As I sang the last piece, I opened my eyes to see Tom gazing with pure adoration over at me from the doorway. The doorway where he stood just nights before, the moon glistening on his well toned body. Repeating the last line back to me he said, “And that’s why I love you.”
In that moment I knew what the song still needed. So I got up, walked over to him, took his hands in mine and said, “I loved you then, I love you now and I doubt my heart will ever beat differently.”
The thunder rolled in over the sea. He loosened his hands from my grip, cupped my face with both hands and said, “I love you with my heart, body and soul Taylor Alison Swift,”
And the rain came pouring down.
“I think teaching them how to eat is more important than learning how to cook. They might not like to cook but learning how to eat is important. If my son wants something bad enough, he’ll get off his computer game and make some food.”