I think to be courageous, you have to be afraid. For me, it feels very courageous when I go skiing because I’m very, very afraid to ski. It’s dangerous! I feel very scared. But when I’m acting, I don’t feel very scared.
Pairing: Bucky Barnes x Reader (Fantasy/College AU)
Summary: An angel from heaven is sent back to Earth to prevent college senior Bucky Barnes from ending his life. But here’s the catch - she only has seventeen days to do it.
A/N: i’ve decided to do a special tagging list for this story! please let me know if you’re interested in joining me in the potential mess that is this story. and i know this pace is oddly slow, but bear with me, friends! there’s a reason for it! -j. x
Your feet land on a cushy rug, and an audible sigh leaves you. Contrary to popular assumption, the journey from heaven has been a bumpy one. No offense to the technicians of heaven, but there has to be a smoother way to cross the barrier between mortality and the divine.
Clutching your stomach, you lean against the wall for a breather. “Whew, that was horrible,” you let out as your stomach calms down.
“Aren’t you the one who set fire to David Bowie’s cape?”
You snap your head in the direction of the safehouse’s living room. Lounging on a couch is a young blonde sporting glasses and a cap. He studies you with piercing scrutiny, his blue eyes battling with your equally relentless gaze. As this is a safehouse for non-humans, you deduce he’s either a celestial being or a mythical creature in disguise as a human.
“I’ve heard stories, and… Yes, it’s definitely you,” he chuckles, crossing his legs with leisure. “You’re definitely the one who burned Bowie’s cape.”
Crossing your arms against your chest, you frown at the blonde. “I literally just got here. Is that really an appropriate way to greet someone who just made the journey from heaven to Earth?” you cluck.
“What do you want me to say? I’m sorry the ride to Earth wasn’t all rainbows and glitter with the Hallelujah chorus playing in the background?”
You curiously peer at the blonde, giving him the once-over as a pregnant pause blankets the room. A smile slowly invades your lips as you place your hands on your hips. “You’re a sassy grump. We’re either going to get along wonderfully or kill each other,” you confidently conclude.
The blonde snorts out a laugh and stands to his full height, forcing you to tilt your head upwards to meet his eyes. He holds out his hand with a cordial smile. “I’m Steve, Grim Reaper and your official mentor during your stay,” he introduces.
tl;dr – a major Sylb & Ojene spoiler (that you should probably definitely read)
Rain had finally reached the house, its cascading ovation on the roof filling the dark, candle-lit room with a cozy padding of ambient sound. I sat at the window, reclined in a comfortable sprawl the long way on our wide, roegadyn sized couch. Ojene was snuggled up to my side, her arm draped around my middle and her head nestled above the crook of my shoulder. I could feel her breath against my neck, the slow, even, deep breathing of one long since asleep, and I smiled, feeling my eyes go soft. Her hair, always so neat and precisely pinned, loosened into a pinless splay of soft, graying ribbons when we were alone, two of which snuck over her temple and spilled onto her cheek. Her brow, so active with thought when she was awake, completely serene and unmoving, a tiny wrinkle set between them. More delicate wrinkles fanned from her eyes, framing the minute motion of dreams beneath her lids. Even in the softness of sleep, they held an intelligent awareness, ready to open at the slightest sign of danger. Though, in my arms, with the scent of my shirt filling her thoughts, she’d likely sleep through Titan himself peeling back our roof. The thought shook a quiet laugh from my chest and she smiled faintly in response, her lips twitching at the corners before fading back into the neutrality of sleep. My heart filled to bursting.
I’d loved this face for so long. Known it for even longer. Suffered at its disappearance. Ached for its return. Begrudged its presence in my dreams. Tried to forget, but could never let go. I’d studied the scattering of its freckles with dogmatic focus, finding in them as much meaning as a map to the heavens – like patterns of starlight, pointing forever to home.
And now, here we were. Home, at last.
Careful not to disturb her, I slipped my hand out from behind my head and smoothed it gently over her hair, my fingers tucking errant strands behind the point of her ear. We’d not had it easy, she and I. For decades we’d struggled through racism, war, separation, death – through hidden lives and secret meetings, circumstances to grave to let us be together. Hands always reaching but never holding, grasping but never finding purchase. We were a dead end that neither could stop circling, turning ‘round and ‘round in an effort to find a way forward. And, fuck, am I glad that neither decided to turn back.
She, no longer running, her hunters gone. I, no longer helpless to protect her. We, no longer a secret, finally together out in the open. I drew my nose through her hair and brushed a soft kiss in its tresses, drinking in her scent like I might never do so again. Old habits die hard. Yet, it didn’t cast a lump in my throat as it once had, always on the last night together before she would leave again. There was no sadness now. No dull ache. No tightness of chest or preemptive flutter of panic for her safety. No.
Instead, my chest swelled with joy, a quiet pride mingling with the humility of knowing that this could have never been. This. Us. Her as my wife, and I her husband. But there was something more, something greater. Something I’d given up on long ago. I smoothed my hand over her belly, a sense of wonder erupting through my fingertips as they met the subtly round, but distinct, bump there. Our secret, kept successfully for 6 moons – through the Lominsan bombings and my stifling over protection, through Ojene’s lack of drinking and avoidance of risks, through the sudden increase of her overall discomfort and need for a cane, through her gradual wardrobe accommodations… Our child, growing day by day.
“Hello, you,” I murmured through a smile, my breath disturbing Ojene’s hair. It couldn’t hear me from here, of course, but I didn’t let that hinder me. “Someday,” I whispered, “you an’ I’ll watch the storms roll in from the sea together, like I do with yer mah.” I closed my eyes and kissed Ojene’s forehead, as much kissing the wee one as I was her. A flutter of movement fluted briefly against my fingers, its touch so light I almost didn’t catch it. With a quiet gasp, I opened my eyes and huffed a laugh. “Well, I’ll be damned,” I looked down at the spread of my hand over Ojene’s pregnant belly, half expecting to see a tiny kick from beneath her nightshirt. “Maybe ye can hear me after all!” I laughed as quietly as I could manage, blinking against the prick of sudden wetness in my eyes. I hadn’t felt it move before. “Well,” I brushed a kiss in Ojene’s hair. “Ye get that from your mah. I can’t hear for shite.”
Thunder rumbled sleepily overhead, drawing me back into reverent silence. Ojene stirred but did not wake, a content sigh parting her faintly smiling lips. I closed my eyes and drew a long, expansive breath in through my nose, cradling the immense tenderness I felt to my heart of hearts.
Our future was full – fuller than I’d had any right to hope for, and I’d not take it for granted.
There is but one
And light from cities
Become a swollen
Shade of dusk,
By the patch
Of distant dreamers
In lost directions
Left unmarked -
Or polluted stillness
Of heaven’s wishes
That are gray and blue
Of a sun
That’s dimmed to death
Its false resemblance
On the charts
Of aching pleasures
And early evenings
All the same,
Felt to last
By night and day
In a stretch
And such little room
Every night under the confines of your blankets, the same reoccurring nightmare haunts you. Men in dark cloaks and masks dropping you off in the arms of an old couple. Yet you wake up every morning to play the role of the orphan living with her grandparents in a village, surrounded by the bricks of Wall Maria. Until the sun shines for you to find your village burned to ashes, discovering that you were the sole survivor of the Colossus Titan’s attack. You are robbed of your boring days, your mediocre, peaceful life ahead of you ーall you have left are the maps left by your father and letters describing the heaven he dreamt of.❞
Summary: “O Dionysus, we feel you near, stirring like molten lava under the ravaged earth, flowing from the wounds of your trees in tears of sap, screaming with the rage of your hunted beasts.” - Euripides
Yoongi blinked open his eyes, a layer of crust making the lids hard to wrench apart. Just as he suspected, the pills didn’t work; they never worked. His mouth felt as though it had been stuffed full of cotton and his head was slightly, faintly pounding.
Yoongi couldn’t die.
He was surrounded by so much death, every day since his existence began, and yet he would never get to experience the same thing. There would be no one to upkeep the underworld if he left; no one wanted to travel there alive, much less be there for the rest of eternity.
That’s why Yoongi came to the hotel, especially when she left for the Spring. He wasn’t sure who’d build the hotel, or who’s idea it was, but as long as he could remember, it had been there for any of the gods to come to.
Suddenly, a woman started screaming from the corner of his room. Yoongi jumped only slightly; he would never be used to lost souls coming to find him instead of making their way to his realm’s gates instead. He cast her away, blood oozing from her nearly transparent head but never dripping to the floor.
When she was gone, Yoongi was left alone once more to his own thoughts and despairs. As he placed another orange pill into his mouth to try again – he’d try again all Spring until she came back – the faint taste of wine prickled his taste buds.
The hard drywall dug into the vertebrae in Seokjin’s spine, causing the bones to crunch together. A lone disco ball cast the room in gloomy, uplifting shadows. He felt sticky all over; his skin had been covered in sweat, and then it dried.
None of that concerned Seokjin, though. What concerned him was the tattered pieces of flowers petals that coated the rug at his feet. Seokjin preferred staying at the hotel, and he’d brought the rug in almost 30 years ago. It was starting to blend in to the dirty carpet, with only the faint tinges of red showing. He was sure he’d had sex on this rug before, although now he couldn’t remember for certain.
The rug didn’t matter to him, though. It was the petals sprinkled over the flowers that caused him great despair. He’d brought the flowers in too, although much sooner than the rug. A lily, that’s what it used to be. Now it was just the shattered, ripped pieces of the flower it used to be.
Seokjin held one of the pieces in his hand, moving the velvet between his fingers. The flower was soft, flowing along the pads of his fingers like woven silk. He leaned his head against the wall, eyes closed as his fingers moved over the petal. It felt as silken as the supple skin of a breast, a nipple caressed gently between his fingers.
He sighed gently, his eyes peeling back open. The flower’s serene feeling between his thumb and forefinger seemed to die in his grasp; the gentle force of the fact was, the flower was broken, and Seokjin couldn’t fix it.
He remembered, vividly, the moment his precious flowers were crushed. He’d watched the lilies fall under the calloused pads of bare feet, nails buffed into a glistening shine. The flowers had seemed to make a small sigh, a sad gasp of death, as they found their end.
A tear trickled down Seokjin’s cheek, and nestled itself in the crevice of his plump lips. It tasted of sea salt, of earth and captivating ecstasy. His lips were chapped, the dry skin peeling slowly up around the edges in sporadic patches.
The party he’d had – the party that brought about the end to his lily – had ended itself merely an hour before. Yet, here Seokjin continued to sit, basking in the aftermath of sex and wine. He could smell the pheromones in the air, mixing with the sweet scent of vinegary grapes.
The room cast a warmth glow over Seokjin’s skin, and yet he felt dark. He stared at the bed in front of him, the sheets rumpled and vaguely damp. A couple had frolicked in them only hours before, at his encouragement. He’d watched their bodies intertwine, their tongues forking a path towards the other’s mouth. He’d fixated on the small, burgundy droplets of wine that trickled down their bodies as they’d drank the liquid and continued drinking in each other.
Seokjin felt hallow just by reminiscing the room full of people. Sometimes he used these people to give him strength, to take his mind away from reality. However, when the dream faded and the bodies disappeared, Seokjin’s body exposed the empty cavity beneath; he was nothing.
The hotel, the god’s place, was where he came to escape those duties. He’d invite crowds of people, stuff them into room 307, and watch has their clothes peeled away and his bottles of wine disappeared one by one.
Seokjin never drank. Maybe it was because he’d always be able to taste the wine, no matter where he was. Harvest was the worst, when the essence of the crops and the grapes bubbled up into the back of his throat like a bad memory. He came to the hotel during the harvest to leave it all behind.
Thunder rolled outside his window, the shades drawn shut tight. He knew he was being called, he knew runaway gods were always punished. Unless, of course, they stayed run away. Which was exactly what Seokjin planned to do: keep intertwining others in his hotel room until the end of time, and then after. It was his escape from reality, after all.
Seokjin was dreaming. He only saw the lilies in his dreams: in wine induced comas heightened by an array of modern and ancient medicines to place him in the happiest of saddnesses. While he was pretending to huddle on the floor of his hotel room, he was actually lying in his unkempt bed, the sheets tousled around himself instead of other people.
What Seokjin wanted more than anything was to return to his dreams, his visions of simplistic triumphs. However, the thunder was roiling, and Seokjin knew he was very near to waking. His dreams always became troubling when he was about to awake: the broken lilies were beckoning for him to open his eyes and breathe a taste of reality.
When his mind finally jolted, abruptly, Seokjin’s body followed. His eyes peeled open, the iris scratchy from years of being unused. A god’s time is his own, Seokjin’s hallowed mind thought. There was a pregnant pause in the air, the chill of static so coppery it was like tasting blood. The thunder rolled again, this time streaking the skies in spurts of lightening.
Seokjin hated his own body, hated the way the porcelain of his skin showed the maps of his blue veins underneath like the roadways to heaven. His tongue peeked between his lips, dousing them after years of being dormant. The last thing Seokjin wanted, besides to be awake, was to face his own self.
The mirror hanging dingily on the wall of 307 cleared things up for him quickly – Seokjin hadn’t aged once during his sleep. Instead, he was simply the same as when he’d gone to sleep. He hadn’t lost weight, and certainly hadn’t gained weight either. He’s hair was the same mousy brown; his eyes always tinged with the redness of a drunkard.
He wanted to go back to sleep; he wanted to forget himself. He couldn’t face himself, not yet. He didn’t want to face the unhappiness that came with this world. Seokjin, unabashedly, wished he could curse all those that cursed him with this realm: it was the realm of emptiness. It wasn’t empty like the underworld, that was filled to the brim with damned souls. No, this emptiness that he controlled was hallow, a pitch black void that disguised itself as happiness, ecstasy, and then cast a misery on its followers so despairing, so black, that the soul ate itself instead of dealing with its numb existence. It was a ritual madness of the worst kind.
Seokjin cried softly as he peeled himself away from his bedsheets, this joints popping only slightly as his feet hit the floor and supported his weight.
Who am I? Seokjin asked the ghastly figure in the mirror, but the man behind it stood still, frightened. He was ready to face the harvest: this was his fate. Blood gushed through his veins, the blue streaks popping forth in his arms. He sunk his teeth into his plump lips; he heard the wheat calling to him like a forlorn lover. The crops were out, and so were the sinners.
Seokjin’s feet stayed bare as they trekked over the plush red carpet: the carpet he wished he was still perching on in his dreams. His feet carried him, instead, closer to the door. Closer to a duty he fulfilled year by year, season by season. His heart weighed heavy.
When he reached the small table by the door, the lily wrapped its petals around his arm gently: one last silent plea to not go – don’t do this.
Seokjin plucked one of the virginal petals from the stalk, rubbing it gently between his fingers as he pulled the door of 307 shut behind him.
The Abbey Bookshop, 29 Rue de la Parcheminerie, 75005 Paris
This is one of my all-time favorite places here : i can literally spend hours in this bookshop, for the exquisite pleasure and magic of getting inspired by new authors & topics. It’s a very good alternative to Shakespeare and co, when there’s too many tourists or people.
And there’s a little secret for you : at the door, you can find a woodbox full of country maps..
The final mystery is oneself. When one has weighed the sun in the balance, and measured the steps of the moon, and mapped out the seven heavens star by star, there still remains oneself. Who can calculate the orbit of his own soul?
Map of underworld crafted by Christ cartographer heaven bound mega-mind; He plots visions of a world something other than our own, a new mind-mirror mapped terrain other than what’s known. Prints sold from van @ roadside. Acquire with Calym for info. Dial your birthday to hear the neo-secrets. ☮ Peace ☮
Sky writings of your own memories now made possible via repurposing of chemtrail spraying jump jet Big Govt. technology. State assets seized by rogue Lord lovers - chem-weapon disseminating hell planes now used to dust images from Ur childhood over hills and mountain tops. See what you saw once before AGAIN against the sky! Memories of an old sunset printed across the new dawn. This is possible. Real life just got realer. Heaven is a city in your heart, hermano, hold me close don’t let me go.