a touch of compassion

“I open my heart and send forth my energy of love and understanding to everyone who has made me suffer, to those who have destroyed much of my life and the lives of those I love. I know now that these people have themselves undergone a lot of suffering and that their hearts are overloaded with pain, anger, and hatred. […] I pray that they can be transformed to experience the joy of living, so that they will not continue to make themselves and others suffer. I see their suffering and do not want to hold any feelings of hatred or anger in myself toward them. I do not want them to suffer. I channel my energy of love and understanding to them and ask all my ancestors to help them.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh, ‘The Five Earth Touchings’ ~

I fucking cried watching the last clip, i cried when i watched sana doing her marghrib salah and the subbed text said that what the was muttering was “unaudible” while i KNOW what the words that were coming out of her mouth, i say to those words everyday, five times in one day, this is literally the first time when i’ve watched a western show that portray a muslim doing their prayer correctly, i fucking cried because seeing sana taking her wudhu, wriggling out of the crown trying not to touch a boy’s skin and her using the compass to find the qiblat

this is the first time a western show managed to portray something so simple for us muslims so accurately and i fucking cried

Small Talk

Happy Birthday @damselindistressmya - you wanted Office Party fic and this is what I came up with. Thank you for your honesty and your friendship.

S7 || Fluff || MSR || Teen 

Watching from a distance, nobody but Mulder would know how uncomfortable she is in the crowded room. Scully prides herself on it. While he lurks in a corner, all but concealed behind a pillar with a warm beer and a bowl of peanuts he swiped from one of the tables, she works the room, talking and nodding in a way that makes her hair catch the light as it just barely kisses the exposed swoop of her neck. She’s wearing a dress, fitted but not tight, with skinny straps that keep threatening to roll off her shoulders when someone presses past. She’s not carrying a weapon and she smiles widely when the man next to her says something, but the brightness of her teeth never reaches her eyes.

Mulder watches her shift her weight from foot to foot, focussing on the agitated circling of her ankle instead of the slimness of her leg vanishing seductively into a glossy stiletto pump. He watches her fingers flex against her wineglass, notes her flinch almost imperceptibly when one of her circle nudges her arm too familiarly. He sees the platters of canapes whisk by just out of reach, that her glass is almost empty, and he knows her patience will be wearing thin. 

It’s taken them seven years to even start to verbalise what they mean to each other, but he has been able to read her signs from almost the very beginning. Abandoning his beer and his hiding space, Mulder makes a pitstop or two and arrives at Scully’s side just as she empties her glass.

The man next to her, from Homicide he thinks, draws breath to offer her a refill but Mulder has already staked his claim, his finger light on the snowdrop skin inside her elbow, and his head bent in closer than is normal for anyone but them.

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Chaos in the Pantheon (Part 4)

((A/N: Yay more writing! I found myself stricken with the writing bug out of nowhere today, and as @sarazzprime can attest I went to town despite having LOST A CHUNK OF MY INITIAL DRAFT *ahem*. But I’ve fixed the tags, hopefully. If you aren’t getting tagged, let me know, some tags aren’t working and I’m having to manually enter them each time because I’m difficult and stubborn.

Pairing: Bucky Barnes (Ares) x Reader [FINALLY]

Warnings: None.

Word Count: 3k 

Catch up!: Part 1 // Part 2 // Part 3 ))

Steve hadn’t been wrong about Pegasus knowing the way, the creature beginning to move without being told as much. Pietro had been hesitant about letting you go, though Steve had reassured him it was necessary. You had a strong feeling Ares wasn’t the type to let a host of gods, goddesses, or anyone else for that matter to come traipsing into his palace.

But it felt nice to be moving on your own. You were tired, exhausted even, but this leg of the journey was yours to make. And it was reassuring to know that soon your father would be pulling in nets upon nets of fish and other marine life. You could see him smiling brightly, the ocean calmed as the water splashed against his weathered features. He was grinning like a madman knowing his family would be cared for.

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More soulmate AUs
  • Everything is black and white until you meet/touch your soulmate AU
  • You can communicate with your soulmate through your mind before even meeting AU
  • You hair colour always matches your soulmate’s AU (x)
  • You feel your soulmate’s emotions as well as your own AU
  • Soulmates have a half of a tattoo each AU
  • Soulmates die shortly after meeting AU (x)
  • Soulmates can read one anothers’ minds AU
  • You can taste what your soulmate eats AU
  • Soulmates have the exact same tattoos in the same place AU
  • Soulmates feel each others pain AU (x)
  • Everyone owns a compass which points to their soulmate AU
  • Your soulmate’s touch can heal wounds/fade scars AU
Gentle Touch

Bucky x OFC (Jules) /  Bucky’s POV

Summary: Where Bucky is so used to harsh, rough touches he never expected one to be so kind and loving. Realizing he’s been craving this kind of touch for years.

Word Count: 1,325

Warnings: Mention of abuse, touch deprived, language

A/N: I’m back!!!! I took a longer break than I originally planned, but school took up a bunch of my time and me taking on more projects I could handle. I also hit several walls the past few months, that left me lost, broken and down in the dumps. It’s been a struggle to get back on my feet and get my head in the game, but I’m here, I’m back and I’m doing so much better than I previously was! 

I’m gonna try to get back in the groove of posting fics regularly, so I hope you’re ready! Help Me and Motionless Series are STILL going! And tags are ALWAYS open! :D Thank you for being patient with me these past few months, hopefully, I won’t go that long without posting something again. So enjoy this one and let me know what you think!! :) 

Touch, it’s amazing how much can be said and shown through the power of touch. But it can be hard to forget how much pain, anger, and torment can be expressed by the power of touch. No touch for me was ever gentle. There was no love, compassion or care in the physical touches I experienced throughout my lifetime. Not once has anyone touched me unless pain followed, which it always did.

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No compassion

At my work, we’re not allowed to touch any customer if they’re in danger. We had a man fall out of his wheelchair outside when I first got hired and his friends (also in chairs) came in to ask for help getting him up. I was on front desk, which I can’t leave, so I radioed my manager, who called the boss, who called 911. I was told I was under no circumstance to assist, even though the man’s friends kept coming in and begging for help. I got called heartless for not helping, even though if I did, I’d be fired and then I’d be homeless again. The poor man had to lay on the asphalt in the parking lot for an hour until an abundance came and helped him. He wasn’t even hurt, just stuck. I still feel bad, and that was like a year ago. I’m disabled myself, and I wouldn’t have been able to lift him by myself anyway, but it’s just the point. And it’s America, so he no doubt was changed several thousand dollars for the experience.

Finding Things/Memory Spell🌿

a spell for when many things go missing, to help things reappear

🌿 gather: a compass, a sprig of rosemary, and white thread. 

🌿 attach the rosemary to the compass using white thread

🌿 hold level, and turn three times clockwise with the compass

🌿 place it in the center of the room. 

🌿 wait a few days for it to begin to draw out the things lost

🌿 for memory, each time there is something important to remember, touch the compass and place it somewhere else. 

Signs as movie quotes
  • Aries: Sometimes I don't think people realize how lonely it is to be a kid. Like... you don't matter.
  • Taurus: Sweetheart, you can't buy the necessities of life with cookies.
  • Gemini: It's called a sense of humor - you should get one - they're nice.
  • Cancer: If you were happy every day of your life you wouldn't be a human being. You'd be a game-show host.
  • Leo: The night of the fight, you may feel a slight sting. That's pride fucking with you. Fuck pride. Pride only hurts. It never helps. You fight through that shit.
  • Virgo: You can't change who people are without destroying who they were.
  • Libra: If the sky were to suddenly open up... there would be no law... there would be no rule. There would only be you and your memories... the choices you've made and the people you've touched.
  • Scorpio: It's mercy, compassion and forgiveness I lack. Not rationality.
  • Sagittarius: Well, it's a crazy, fucked up world! And we're all just barely floating along, waiting for somebody that can walk on water.
  • Capricorn: You think you're free? I'm free! You don't know what freedom is! I'm free! I can breathe! And you - you're gonna go choke on your average fuckin' mediocre life!
  • Aquarius: One thousand years from now, there won't be any guys and there won't be any girls, just wankers. Sounds all right to me.
  • Pisces: The first time I ever saw a box jellyfish, I was twelve. Our father took us to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I never forgot what he said... That it was the most deadly creature on earth. To me it was just the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen.

anonymous asked:

I have extreme mix feelings about season 7, what do you think about it?

It’s a little hard to have mixed feelings about something that currently only exists in… well, my own mind? 😏 And all of our minds, but we don’t actually know anything yet? I haven’t heard anything about it that doesn’t work with my views of the show… so I can take you on that ride, if you want. As usual it may be a bit of a rollercoaster.

Emma’s death
It’s clear from both the PR and what’s happening on the show that they want us to think there is a possibility Emma will die. They need us afraid and worried about the next season - and maybe it’s because they’re not sure we’ll like what they’re doing so they’re hoping our worst case scenarios will turn into relief when we see the actual show. My take on the storyline of Emma possibly dying? The Savior needs to die in order for Emma to live.

The Savior is Emma’s persona. It’s the role she plays to the outside world. Part of it is her conforming to who the world wants her to be, part of it is her only showing the part of herself that she wants the world to see. It’s a mask. We all wear these masks. We have several of these masks depending on the situation. It’s normal, it’s how we operate as human beings. You can’t be the same person to your kids or your parents as you are to your friends or to your lovers.

These masks aren’t inherently bad. We actually need them in order to move around in the world. If we don’t know how to play the game in certain situations, then not wearing the mask can cost us. Masks require self-restraint. Emma’s life when we met her hadn’t given her the opportunity to really develop her masks. There was no consistency. Not enough parents with the same values giving her the same moral lessons over and over again. It was always different. Many two-faced foster parents. An early awareness of the hypocrisy of masks too. Over and over again there would have been parents behaving like self-congratulatory saints for taking in foster kids, meanwhile treating them like nothing more than a meal ticket as Emma said. And I’m pretty sure that was a euphemism.  She was in constant survival mode.

She didn’t just hurt Ryan by bashing his face in, she was also hurting herself. She could have lost her job, everything she’d built, because she wasn’t able to control her anger. Before that moment we also saw her - while she’s good at her job - give away too much personal information to this guy who was just a mark. She gave him the information he was able to use against her. So when we met Emma, she was struggling with these masks. She was almost always herself. Which is actually a great thing, except it still has to be your own choice. We did see that she was a really good liar when her emotional self-preservation kicked in - like when first telling Henry she didn’t have a son.

When we saw Emma hit her head against the steering wheel, it may have been karma for what she did to Ryan, but it was what made her stay in Storybrooke. It created the opportunity for her to learn how to control her anger. The first time we saw Emma make the effort to control her anger was with Henry. She started to try and learn when to wear a mask for him and by having her family, she was given a reason to try and learn how to use them.

When Emma and Regina met, Regina was her polar opposite. Cora had groomed her to repress her own feelings and desires. Regina was all mask. She didn’t know where the mask began and where she ended and she is now finally figuring that out. In Regina’s case, you could say the Evil Queen was her mask, but I think it makes more sense to see her as Regina’s negative self image. Instead of the mask, hiding her true nature - which she sees as evil - is the reason for all and any of the masks she wears. Imagine that everything you want and everything you feel, every desire, every need, every want, is constantly labeled as bad by your parent, your teachers, your environment and society. Imagine you’re not allowed to be angry or to express your anger.

After a while you start to believe that everything you are on the inside is bad. Every natural impulse seems to be wrong according to someone. Your true self, your true identity is made of Evil. That’s Regina’s struggle. She saw herself as much worse than she actually was and it also left her open to be manipulated by everyone - to become an Evil Queen - because she was completely out of touch with her own feelings, but also with her own inner compass. Her sense of right and wrong. She started to lash out in every direction because nothing was allowed. How can you tell apart what you are and aren’t supposed to repress in which situation if everything’s already repressed all the time to begin with. Just like Emma - but coming at it from the opposite direction - Regina couldn’t take control of her life, because the only time she would let go was when the pressure was too much. Both of these women needed to become conscious, become aware of themselves, their feelings and their actions.

The split was the start of Regina’s process to let go of her negative self image. We see the Evil Queen fight to take her position back, but the fight is staying on the surface. Regina has been successful keeping the taunting at bay. The Queen trying to tell her she is nothing but Evil. The Queen personifies the struggle itself. It was actually good for Regina to resist her and deny her. I suspect the next part of the story will involve her looking at the Queen and now she will become a reflection of the repressed desires. She will have to face the fact that what she labeled as Evil… simply wasn’t. It was her True Self. Her misguided and misdirected anger, at its core, was justified. The way she dealt with it wasn’t. The anger itself was. Those are things she needs to see before she can really let go of the Evil Queen.

Interestingly, this puts Emma and Regina in a very similar position. Emma has learned how masks work now, but she has completely mistaken the mask for her True Self. She has taken the lesson too far. She thinks the Savior is all she is or all she should be. Naturally the Death of the Savior, the death of her persona feels like her own death… 

Rejection feels like Death to Emma. Opening yourself up to someone, opening yourself up to love, to rejection, in a way, it means embracing death. Embracing the idea that yes, something might end. If you want to truly love somebody else fully and completely, in order for you to be all-in, you have to accept that it might end. You have to accept there may be hurt and pain involved. The relationship might die. Your partner might die. Your child might die. Anything could happen. You have to face your fear of death in order to be in a real relationship with someone. You have to allow the other side to see who you really are so they can learn to love you completely. You have to stop hiding.

Look at the situation she is in. If she drops the mask, if she lets go of the Persona and becomes her True Self, then she risks rejection. She risks that her parents, her family, that they won’t love her anymore. If they know everything about her past, if they know everything about her true feelings and who she really loves… she may lose everyone. It will feel like Death. It may be such a strong blow, she will feel like life isn’t worth living anymore…

…but if she keeps wearing the Mask, then she can never feel fully and completely. She may not experience pain, but she also won’t be able to really experience joy and love. She will die inside, the person she really is, her real desires and memories can’t be repressed forever. No matter what she does, she will die. That is what this storyline is about. It’s what the Oracle said.

Emma has a choice and the choice is which death to choose. The Death of her True Self or the Death of her persona, the Savior. This is what this season is really about, it’s about Emma figuring out what the difference is between the Savior and Emma Swan. Between Regina and the Evil Queen.

Now what’s interesting is that all Emma has to do is remember who she was before she came to Storybrooke. Now that she has learned to control her feelings more, she has an extra skill but she always was a person who was very true to herself. Unlike Regina, who was never allowed to know who she really was, Emma’s journey back to her True Self will be shorter. She’s actually halfway there, because she is remembering. Now she needs to find a balance between the Savior and Emma Swan. She has to realize that even if she is Emma Swan, she will not lose the lessons she learned as the Savior.

The Reset

Let’s look at all that and link it to the word “Reset” that they’ve used to describe season 7. If you take a look at The Heroine’s Journey, then you actually see the Hero always ends up back where she started, but thanks to her journey, she is now better equipped to deal with the situation that she encountered in the beginning… First she had a wish. She wished not to be alone. Second she had a conflict. She had herson knocking at her door, dragging along with - but unbeknownst to - him a host of unresolved trauma that she was going to have to deal with anyway, if she truly wanted her wish to come true.

So she crossed the threshold. Magic came to Storybrooke, she went to an unknown world of fairy tale characters and she learned important life lessons. If you look at the circle, you see that in the end our Hero has to cross back over into the normal world. Meaning she has to go back to Storybrooke and apply the lessons she learned in the real world.

Can you see how it all fits together? When Emma kissed Henry, she expressed her commitment. She wanted to love Henry and do right by him. She started on her journey where she would find the answer to her wish. Right after that moment, magic came to Storybrooke. The Evil Queen’s curse was half broken and everyone suddenly had double identities. Emma became the Savior & Emma Swan.

If we see this show as 7 seasons, then season 3 was halfway on the journey, we actually had the first attempt to return to the normal world in Going Home. There were two issues. Regina wasn’t with them - they’ve said as much last season - and they didn’t remember the fairy tale stories. Meaning Emma would forget all the lessons she learned. Soon after in season three we also had the True Love’s kiss between Regina and Henry marking the start of the second half. Emma became a catalyst in Regina’s growth and she is the other half. The other answer to Emma’s wish. You can’t have children in order to not be alone, so Emma needed to create a bond with Henry, but Henry can’t be her friend. She needed a mate. So as both of their relationships with Henry were mended, the next part of the story, became about what it took for them individually to be open to another person.

The Swan Mills Family kisses are special, because they affect everyone, whereas the other kisses seem to affect only the people who are directly affected by the current curse.

So if we follow this pattern, we’ll get a True Love’s Kiss between Emma and Regina and it will mark the end of the Queen’s curse. The fairy tale world and Storybrooke will split again and magic will leave Storybrooke. It ties in with both Emma and Regina embracing their True Self. Society doesn’t encourage homosexuality in anyone. Even without parents, that’s a mask Emma will have learned about, because everyone teaches you. So both women have to embrace and love who they are, see their own desires as valid and acceptable, before they can share a kiss. It’s a beautiful message, because True Love here encompasses a True Love of self, before it becomes True Love of another. It fits in with letting go of the Savior and letting go of the Evil Queen. Letting go of the fairy tale world, but remembering it exists and remembering all the lessons learned. 

If like last time, Henry goes to our world because he was born there, then Regina and Emma will both choose to be with him. They will all be the family they choose. 

So I think that’s the reset everyone seems to be worrying about. We’ll follow the fairy tale characters as they get used to life in the Enchanted forest again and we’ll follow Emma, Regina and Henry as they get used to Storybrooke without (much) magic. Thanks to the Dragon they have learned there is also magic in the world without magic. I’m not sure how much of their memories Henry and Regina will have, but I think Emma will have them… There will be a price to pay, because there always is. So even if there is a True Love’s Kiss between Regina and Emma, I’m not sure if they’ll both remember. 

It would make sense, because then they truly are back to where they started, except now Emma has to apply all of her life lessons in the real world. No magic, no special powers, but everything she’s learned and finally a more balanced Self. So it would be the ultimate test of everything she’s learned during the past seasons.

So that’s what I expect from season 7. Emma and Regina learning to navigate the real world again. Apart and together. As a family.

Since this story is finished, if the show wants to go beyond a 7th season, they would also need to start introducing new characters for a new journey - the circle always continues as you can see. The story should be related to the original story in some way, but it will probably place someone else in the position of the Hero. So that’s what those casting calls may be about.

…so you could say I’m simply curious and cautiously excited about the next half of this season and about season 7 at this point. 

5 times Peter Nureyev kissed Juno Steel and 1 time Juno kissed him back

I’ve been having a lot of thoughts recently about Jupeter and physical affection and Juno’s problem with Not Letting Himself Have Nice Things; thus, this fic was born. Read on for a little bit of angst and a whole lot of fluff and happiness. (Because deep down, all we really want is for Juno Steel to be happy.) 


“Life can wait one night, Juno. Come here.”

He knows he shouldn’t. He’s been suspicious of Rex from the start; by now he’s almost certain that the Dark Matters agent is not what he appears. The flirtation, the kindness, and even that inexplicable trust could easily all be an act put on to seduce him into incompetence. But now Rex is leaning in, one hand pulling at Juno’s coat and the other curling around the back of his neck, and Juno can’t make himself turn away.

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Safe Haven

In a lifetime of self-destructive isolation, he became my safe haven.

Characters: Chen x You
Genre: Slice of Life, Angst, Romance
Optional Music: I’m Not Okay - Chen ¸¸.•*¨*•♫

To this day, I still get nightmares about the place I grew up in - a crammed up basement, settled in the back of a two-floored apartment that was illegally rented out by some drug dealers.  One year, they had the judicious idea to build a canopy-like shed to keep the crows from eating away at the hundred-year-old foundation.  And yet, because of that, mornings became night; no light could permeate into the lifeless building.  The only telltale sign of dawn were the chilling footsteps of drug lords advancing toward the alleyway, located right outside my room.  Duck taped windows could only hide so much; I heard everything…from the way they forced a pregnant teen to swallow ten pounds of packaged cocaine to how they had cut off a loaner’s fingers.  

Footsteps…footsteps, I turned in bed to survey my mother, father, and older sister.  They must have heard too.  How could they not?  It wasn’t like I had some super power hearing…and yet, they hide their signs of recognition.  My father fakes a few snores; mother rolls in bed to greet me with her back, and sister murmurs for me to stop making so much noise with my shuffling.  So I hide deep, deep, deep within the comforts of countless layers of my blankets; lying to myself that this darkness, this suffocating feeling is the definition of safety.

We were robbed five times - one of them being my own sister when she turned eighteen and decided to flee away from this illusion of life.  Though, I resented her, deep down, this sense of jealousy gnawed at my soul.  While I still choked under the covers of safety, she was now free to see the light.  


“Appa…Omma…Unnie…” I heave in my sleep.  Sweat drops coat my skin, soaking the bed sheets.  I fumble, toss, and turn, drowning in my own sea of darkness.  

After another thirty minutes of self induced asphyxia, I pry away five layers of blankets and jolt upright in bed.  Lungs rasp for air; bloodshot eyes, exposed to light for the first in hours, protests with tears.  

Wet, wet, everything feels wet and soggy and disgusting.    

The ever-haunting footsteps of my nightmare trample my agitated heart.  I slap myself awake and scamper over to the windows, checking every lock, every bolt and nail to comfort myself with a false sense of security.  With the metal bat I had kept beside me in bed, like some precious stuff animal gifted by my ancestors, I tiptoe my way to the living room.  

Windows, closed, locked.  Double checked for security because I knew the metal bars, just barely held up together by four screws, served only the purpose of deterring robberies, not preventing them.  

After a full round of security checks…I checked them once more…just…just to feel safe.

My fingertips glide across the deadbolt lock and I stand there wondering how many more times I was going to unlock it to make sure it was locked.  How…ridiculous

“What am I even doing?” I whisper to myself as my hand falls back to my side and the metal bat, released from my death grip, slowly falls down onto the floor with an unfitting quiet tap.  

My head spins around as I survey my apartment like it’s my first time stepping on these wooden floors.  Not spacious like a rich heir’s loft, not ornate nor bedazzled by interior designers, but it was big compared to that tofu-sized of a home I grew up in.  

But it’s been five years since I moved out…

“What am I even doing?” I repeat, this time with a hint of anger as I straighten up and totter over to the kitchen sink to grab myself a glass of water.  The metal bat drags along the wooden floor, creating a subtle coarse and scratchy sound.  

Ding dong!  Ding dong!

“Who is it?” I ask while hand-combing my hair into a ponytail.  

“Hello, I’m from the insurance agency,” a man’s voice announces from outside.

On my tiptoes, I plant my face against the door to peer through the small peephole and spot a fishbowl preview of a young man dressed in a suit.  

“I didn’t call the insurance company,” I note but begin to undo the five locks.

“Hello, I’m Kim Jongdae, from Safe Haven Insurance,” the agent strikes his hand out and craftily invites himself into my apartment.  He takes a seat down on the living room sofa and pats the seat across from him.

It’s funny how I spent so much effort putting a barricade to protect myself, and yet, so easily I let this stranger traipse through my door.  

“It’s a new year; a new start!” Kim Jongdae giddily introduces as he begins to lay down countless forms, some for me to sign, some just simple spectacles.  He flashes his ID badge at me before hard-selling the life insurance plans, to which I either feign a nod of understanding or stare blankly at his face.

“Why do I need a life insurance plan?” I break his train of overly rehearsed sales pitch to ask.

He pauses for a moment before forcing on a wide smile and answering in cringe-worthy politeness, “It’s so you can feel security in life.”

“Doesn’t the reward come after I die?” I bluntly ask.  It turns Kim Jongdae’s kitty smile into a flattened line.  He realizes that I am not his typical opponent.

“Well…” he adjusts his specs and lowers his head.  When he lifts it back up, his expression is intense and much darker; his stare drills right into my shining orbs as he tries to hypnotize me into submission. Ethos.  Pathos.  Logos.  He brings a palm inches from my face and snaps his fingers.  My pupils dilate.  

On the outside, I am unshaken.  On the inside…

“Don’t you have relatives to protect?” he asks.

In pieces…

“No,” I honestly answer.  

“No?” the hypnotist questions, a little taken aback by my answer.  I am starting to really distinguish myself as a worthy adversary.    

“No, I don’t,” I reply again.  A small smile creeps onto my lips at the sight of his disoriented expression.  Without his permission, I get up from my seat, “Do you want a glass of water?”

Kim Jongdae narrows his eyes; his sight locks onto me as I trudge freely over to the kitchen.  He’s baffled, not by my response but by the ease of how I had escaped from his illusion within mere minutes.  It was a first for the skilled hypnotist.  His gaze follows me into the kitchen and he wonders if I had even fallen into his trap?  

In truth, even before the self-proclaimed insurance agent rang my doorbell, I had spotted him days ago, skipping from one neighbor’s home to the next.  Years of being better-safe-than-sorry taught me to do a little research.  I tap in the logo plastered on his briefcase into Google, which only proved my suspicions that “Safe Haven Insurance” was a made up agency and Kim Jongdae is nothing more than a con artist. – And, his spell had no effect on me because I’d been treated for years, for my insomnia, with hypnotherapy.    

“Here you go,” I politely place a glass of water in front of him.  

His deep gaze continues to observe the most minuscule of my moves, analyzing the details in hopes of finding a weakness to attack me with.  

“Where’s your family?” he takes a short sip of water and lowers his guard to ask.  It’s a question asked out of personal curiosity, rather than with ill intentions.

“Where do I sign?” I avoid his question and instead shoot him one of my own.

His eyes flicker for a split second before he straightens up and points to a blank box on one of the forms.  

“Here, you can put your bank account for the first deposit,” he tries to explain.  Though he expertly hides his nerves, I catch the small crack of his voice.  

“No, it’s fine,” I answer, “I’ll give you cash.”

The con artist freezes in place, puzzled by his prey.  Cash?  That’s even better because there would be no evidence of his crime.  With a smile, I count out the bills and hold it out to him.  He narrows his eyes to question my motive.  One moment, I seem immune to his hypnosis, the next, I am his willing victim?  

Instead of taking my money, Kim Jongdae clears his throat and alerts, “You didn’t fill anyone out for primary beneficiary.” We both know the forms are but printed out lies.  

“I don’t have anyone to fill,” I calmly respond and place the money into his hands.  

His brows only knot tighter.  Something about me perturbs him but he’s not quite sure what.  He feels his pride buckle under my keen observation and he’s rattled by my eagerness.  Was it a trap?  Darkened eyes scan around my home and the handsome visitor notices the suffocating, enclosed, and lonesome space, the tightly shut windows, metal security bars that condemned me to prison, the row of five locks securing the premises from thievery, and the bat that perched at the side of the sofa, just inches from my grasps.  Were my actions a challenge for him to break through this well-thought out barrier?  He feels an odd heaviness build within his chest.  

Kim Jongdae’s once happy-go-lucky image morphs into one of solemnness.  He observes me from head to toe.  I reek of innocence and vulnerability and for some reason, it makes his heart blunder.  His wandering sight lands back onto my opened palms.  

“Then, you were right.  A life insurance plan is unnecessary for you,” Kim Jongdae concludes with an excuse, grabs his briefcase, and heads for the door.  

I dash after him before he’s able to open all the five locks of the front doorway.  My wad of cash is placed safely into his palms.  The handsome young man stares at me in utter confusion.  

“I don’t have anyone left to protect anymore,” I honestly admit, “You have loved ones you want to protect though, right?  That’s why you’re doing what you are doing?” I softly answer his unasked question.  His brow twitches - whether it were touched by my compassion or miffed by my charity, I’m not quite sure.  Without waiting for his response, I turn the doorknob and let him out.  “Thanks for your company today, Mr. Kim!” I chirpily remark before closing the door.  

I thought that’d be the last of him.  He returns two days later - this time, not with a suit and tie or briefcase, but with a black muscle tank hoodie and three boxes in his arms.  Before my brain could stop me, I let him in again.

“Do you welcome strangers into your house, without question, all the time?” Kim Jongdae raises his brow and scoots the large boxes into the apartment with his feet.  “It’s so unsafe.”  

“No, I don’t,” I simply reply.  My eyes roam over his polished physique and raves over his bare muscular arms.  

“It’s unsafe,” he repeats, ignoring my answer.

Without a word, the medium built man skids a blade across the box tops and reveals the contents.  I pout, still wondering what on earth I was…or he was actually doing.  Did I seriously invite him into my house again?  Yet, my heart was placid and calm.

He’s gorgeous…not in your typical flower boy or hot stud way…but gorgeous in the way he looked tough but soft…One side of his head sports a buzz cut so that it emphasizes his smooth side bangs and angled jawline.  Simple tasks, like cutting the boxes, suddenly turns into a performance as he nonchalantly twirls the blade between two fingers.  And…the corner of his lips spoke a language of their own – sadness, bliss, anger, content…all in the centimeter measurement.

In the lonesome world I created for myself, his company suddenly feels like bright shining stars and colorful sprinkles atop a cupcake.

I shake my head.  Was I really attracted to him when I barely knew him?    

“It’s a home security system,” Jongdae mistakes my troubles to be about the contents inside the box.  

He flips through the user’s manual faster than a flipbook.  With a frown, he discards it off to the side and begins to set up the machinery with what he called, “common sense.”  

“This.  This.  This…” he points to the ridiculous amount of locks set up in my house and demonstrates their uselessness by easily prying them open with a pin.  “Useless,” he scoffs and tosses the metal gear onto the floor.  

“Well, normal people wouldn’t pry open someone’s door with a pin,” I shrug.

Jongdae tosses me a pointed look and scoffs again.  “So your ridiculous amount of safety measures is to keep normal people out, but you invite a thief into your house?”  This feeling of transparency is so strange but freeing, especially to Jongdae, who has never openly admitted to anyone about his occupation.  He can’t help but gaze in my direction a moment longer in anticipation for my reaction.    

“I have nothing for you to steal,” I honestly note as I nonchalantly hop onto the kitchen counter, a popsicle stick in one hand, and legs dangling back and forth.  

His eyes flicker for a brief moment and he turns away, now confirming from my lack of shock to be evidence that I had known from our first meeting, that he was a con artist.  

Minding my own business, I open my mouth to welcome the sweetness of my mid-afternoon treat, only, to be intercepted by the foreign male.  Chomp.  He licks the creamy residue from his lips and smirks in pride at his successful mischief.  Despite not having even tasted the ice cream, my small body paralyzes into ice.  Jongdae leans closer to further taunt me.

“Are you sure about that?” he clicks his tongue against his cheek and stares deep into my oscillating orbs.  

“About what?” I manage to rid my befuddled mind away from the attractive man’s dangerous gaze.  The half eaten ice cream drips down my arm.    

“You sure there’s nothing I can steal from you?” he teases, bringing up his hands to mold around my waist.  In one swift stroke, he pins me against the kitchen counter.  “I think there’s a lot a man can steal from a beautiful woman…” I could smell the mint from his breath.  His bangs tickle my forehead.      

“But I don’t think you would,” I cover up my state of shock and earnestly say.  

Or perhaps, I didn’t mind anymore.  After years of trying, trying, trying so hard, at one point you begin to unknowingly self-sabotage.  And perhaps, inviting a thief into my two-decade-old barrier was just an act of self-destruction.

But my answer is enough to break the man’s facade.  His thumb unknowingly strokes the side of my jaw and it’s so calming and sweet amidst such turbulence.  

“I’m a bad person,” he speaks with a sharpness that wavers to sadness toward the end, as if begging for me to counter.  And I do.

“You aren’t.”

“What makes you think that?”  He feels himself losing momentum and surrendering under my acceptance so he grits his teeth and forces himself to wake up from my enchantment.  His large hands grip my smaller ones tighter and he presses his body closer.

“I just don’t think you are,” I firmly state.

My decisiveness aggravates him for reasons he doesn’t even know.

“I’m a thief!” he barks, “I swindled money from yo—“

“But you’re not a bad person,” I bite my lip and respond, “Trust me, I know a bad person from a good one. I grew up around bad people.  You’re a good person.”  Why did my lower lip ripple…and my vision blur?

“You know nothing!” Kim Jongdae harshly dismisses my explanation and tries to prove his point by lowering his face to the croak of my neck, almost forcing me to retaliate and push him away.  Why is he even trying to prove his malevolence - even he isn’t sure?  My defense, on his behalf, is strange to him; he’s so used to being beaten up in alleyways or at least cussed at after being caught.  

“I saw you give the money to the old lady downstairs.  You knew she picks up cardboard boxes and soda cans to fund for her son’s tuition so you helped her,” I reveal my discovery.  Jongdae’s eyes flicker.  From the close distance, they look even prettier than they normally do and I find myself lost in a trance staring into them.

Slowly, his grip on my hands loosens and he straightens himself.  He swallows hard and tries to clear his throat several times as he observes my disheveled state.  Sweat had accumulated along the croak of my neck, where he has rested his lips against earlier.  I stare up at the chandelier lights on my ceiling with my breath still withheld.    

“Foolish girl,” he murmurs and hides the slight upward twitch of his lips by picking up the screwdriver and busying himself with installing the security system.  

It takes me a moment longer to shake off the sudden encounter and sit up straight.  And when I do, I discover myself silently observing this stranger, who felt more familiar to me than my estranged relatives.  Though the situation was rather shocking, I knew with every fiber of my being, that he wasn’t going to hurt me.  If he were going to hurt me, why would he be installing all these mechanisms to protect me?

Sweat trickles down Kim Jongdae’s pronounced cheekbones as he hauls a large and sturdy security gate into my bedroom to replace my faulty “only-good-for-show” one.  Silently, I tail him.  

“Look,” he directs my attention to a metal tab at the bottom of the gate, “Unlock, lock,” he flicks it to demonstrate how it’s only controllable from within the house.  “Green is open, red is lock,” he further explains.  When I simply nod, he tsks, walks over to the doorway, where I had been standing, takes my hand, and tugs me over to try.          

I toggle the switch and he nods in approval.  

“Come here,” he motions for me to follow him into the living room where he had mounted a small tablet onto my coffee table.  I settle down next to him on the sofa.  “I installed a security camera outside your apartment complex and mini ones, one in each room.”

“Even the bathroom?” I raise my brow.

“N-no…not the bathroom,” the master thief stutters for the first time.  A light blush colors his cheeks.  I hide a smile with the turn of my head as Jongdae takes a nervous sip of water.  I forget to tell him that it was my cup.    

“Well, what is that?” I point to a red exclamation mark icon on the upper right of the tablet screen.

“That’s the emergency button.  Press it if you suspect suspicious activity,” he explains.

“Ah, speed-dial for the cops,” I conclude.

He keeps his lips tight.  “You really shouldn’t be living in such a high crime neighborhood alone…” Jongdae shakes his head in disapproval.

“I grew up in a drug lord’s den,” I don’t know why I let secrets about my past slip from my lips but I do.  

The attractive man’s expression softens and he scans my empty apartment again, putting the pieces together as to why I had built such a lonely prison for myself to live in…

“Why did you become a con artist?” my subconscious curiosity questions before I could stop it.  

Jongdae takes the question easier than I expect.  Perhaps, deep down secrets are just tales we all wish someone cared enough to listen to.  After a brief moment to collect his thoughts, he answers, “Because I wanted to be strong and earn enough money to find someone.”

“Find someone?  Who?” I scoot in.

“Someone I owe my life to,” he looks off into the distance, “Someone I wish to protect.”

Patiently, I wait for him to elaborate.  

“She saved my sister and nephew,” he continues but I could tell confronting memories of the past is taking a toll on him so I quickly try to change the topic.

“…How much do I owe you?” I chirp.  

He raises his brow.  I spot a smear of dirt on his cheek and it takes all my energy not to give in to the temptation of wiping it off for him.  

“For all the gadgets you installed for me,” I explain.  

He lets out a soft chuckle and turns his head slightly to the side to hide his gentle smile.  

“Was it really expensive?” I cluelessly ask.  A sparkle ignites in his eyes.  

“10 digits,” Jongdae responds with a mischievous nod.

“10 digits?!” I choke and count with my fingers, “That’s one billion!” My once soft voice rises up three octaves.  "What kind of scam is this?!”

Loud laughter plays like an orchestra recital in the background.  It’s sharp but comforting.  Still, I look at him in utter terror.  $100 is fine.  Heck, I could swallow $1000 to offer my anxiety intoxicated brain with another layer of false sense of security…but $1,000,000,000?!

I reach for my bat.

“One billion, you might as well just take my life!” I snap.

Grinning from ear to ear, Jongdae holds his hand out.  “Phone.”

“Phone?” I raise my brow but hand him my phone.  The metal bat settles back on the side of the sofa.  

He taps the keypad of my device.  A vibration sounds from his pants pocket.  With a kitten smile, he tosses my phone back to me and heads for the door.  

“Chow!” he salutes and swings the front door open.  Automatically, it triggers a high-pitched alarm.  I cringe and am reduced to a huddle as the tech expert cheerfully punches the passcode into the system.  “Oh, forgot to tell you.  The password is 09211992, my birthday,” he chirps.

Knocking my throbbing head, I slowly stand up.  “W-wait…Doesn’t that mean you know the passcode to my house?”

“See you,” Jongdae winks and skips out the door.

“Wait!  Tell me how you change this…” I scurry to open the door, only, to be bombarded by the ear deafening shrill.  “Wait…what..what..was it?” I nibble my fingertips and poke at the keypad.  Kim Jongdae’s laughter echoes down the hall.

Part II.

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an enjoyable thing to do that infuriates racist white liberals is to say gently that since neither empathy, nor logic, nor compassion, nor justice, nor rationality has touched them, they and their family will be in your prayers, as the only hope left for them is an act of god.

they lose their shit.

and then you just say that a good first step to undoing internalised white supremacy is to donate here and then repeat that you’ll be praying for them and their family.

it’s not perfect but it really gets them.

Only once you have understood and embraced your dark side can you fully stand in the light of your being. And what is the dark side but a metaphor for the abyss, the void, the great unknown, the force that plays upon our fears of mortality, and furthermore, how does one even begin to reconcile that which one instinctively does not wish to face? Well, usually the world must thrust it upon us, prying our eyes open to our particular individual brand of previously held blindness through the reality of experience. These moments tend to be rather destructive to our once cherished, perfectly maintained, most safeguarded beliefs about life - this can be an incredibly painful experience. However, if one does not lose oneself in self-pity, these moments can be utilized constructively when seen as points or inner loci within the psyche which - via sadness, depression, or anger - purposefully hurt to make themselves noticed of their unhealed existence; only by mustering up the courage to face our pain and sit with it can we channel, uncover, and integrate the lessons inherently impregnated within the experience as a soul defining force in deepening our awareness of life. One can either absorb theses experiences by reflecting, understanding, and growing from them or one can deny them as the opportunities they are to learn. When one is not whole, the dynamic between ones’ being and the world will naturally conspire to bring upon these rough awakenings through the vessels of drama and calamity. When these experiences happen, they tend to momentarily break down our ego giving us a refractory window in which to either widen our gaze or construct defense mechanisms in an attempt to look away from something that will forever remain unavoidably close. With experience, you will further acquaint yourself with the alchemical process of locating the little white dot of yang within the yin, constructively using pain as a kind of motivational fuel, and transmuting suffering into wisdom. Do not take a passive stance, take creative ownership in your self-destruction, of all that resides within as illusory, delusional, or wishful fantasy. The secret is in exposing our insecurities to the world and going through the painful process of honing these marginalized aspects of our being by steadily owning and integrating them back from the fringes. In time, one will come to an intimate appreciation and acceptance of oneself rendering one immune to the views others castigate or applaud one for; an interpersonal invincibility of sorts forged from having cultivated immaculate - or near immaculate - integrity with oneself. In this way, the combined ideals of vulnerability, transparency, and compassion mixed with a touch of martyrdom give rise to a greater understanding and appreciation of the totality of who we are enabling us to act, when triggered, not from a defensive standpoint of emotional-reactivity, but with the sovereignty we have earned from having demonstrated the necessary courage to have undertaken the experientially-instilled, viscerally-inscribed repertoire of scars and lessons now carved within the annals of our memory. This kind of self-directed growth is akin to exposure therapy; it’s raw, painful, and slightly masochistic - it also works.
—  Syncretic Tendencies
The thing is, [he’s] trying to hold everyone out. “Don’t come near me.” My character’s [Lee] kinda like “Please no one look at me. No one treat me like I’m living. I don’t wanna be seen and I don’t wanna be talked to as a human being because I can’t really engage with anyone emotionally. I can’t. So stay away from me. Because I’m afraid if someone touches me or looks at me with scorn or compassion, either one, I’m gonna fall apart.” […] “Or beat the shit out of someone. Just barely hanging on to myself here. Please just let me move through life and don’t talk to me.” And kids don’t hear that. [Patrick] doesn’t let me. He doesn’t give up. He just keeps coming back for more. Most people see in my eyes, the desperation and the the vulnerability and they stay away from me. And a teenage nephew, he doesn’t give a shit. He’s like “Why? I need a ride. Get me where I’m going dude. I’m in a band, I got a girlfriend. I don’t give a shit about your problems.” And it draws [him] out.
—  Casey Affleck on his character Lee Chandler in Manchester by the Sea (2016)
Fire and Rain

SUMMARY: A recount of a passionate love that ignited in the island of La Huerta, and how it went up in flames as the same passion that brought them together tore them apart.

UNIVERSE: Endless Summer

PAIRING: Jake McKenzie X MC

WORD COUNT: 420+ words

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Channeled my inner Douglas Adams and Shakespeare in this week’s #ChoicesCreates by @hollyashton and hosted by @pb-boeboe, which had the prompt: Passion led us here. Wrote this while listening to both Tiffany Alvord’s Over for Good and Sabrina Carpenter’s Smoke and Fire. (Rating: T)

Originally posted by byrneing

The college student.

The runaway pilot.

A passionate love.

A doomed romance.

They were in a limbo of euphoric bliss. Without a care in the world, without notice of the wildfire they had started.

They were like the sparks that lit up a 4th of July sky—loud and compelling. But as soon as those sparks reached their peak, they fell back down, disappearing into oblivion like they were never there to begin with.

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