:D Hey Miss Immortal!!! Can I request a fluff?! Chocobros catch their s/o staring at them, then s/o just smiles and tells him that he has a beautiful soul. <3 *heart flutters*
ANON! <3 Of course you may request a fluff- this is sooo up my alley omg-
this is the kind of fluff I live for! :D Enjoyyy! Tagging @rubyreddemise because this Prompto drabble is my fluffy pride and joy and I feel you will appreciate it Ruby! <3
Noctis: Noctis has been fishing on the pier at
Galdin Quay for HOURS. The guys are getting tired, so they quietly excuse
themselves, leaving you alone with Noctis. At first, Noctis grumbles at losing
his audience, but then calms down when he notices that you are still sitting
just behind him, next to his tackle box, counting and sorting the different
lures that he has managed to collect during his travels.
eventually finish sorting the lures, you glance up at your prince- no… king!
You frown slightly at your persistent mistake- you always forget that he’s
technically the King of Lucis now… since his father had passed in the
Imperials’ attack on Insomnia. Your gaze softens as you fix your eyes onto
Noctis’ strong and regal side profile. You still can’t believe that he chose
you… that he wanted to be with you. It was just so surreal.
You don’t know
how long you just sit there on the wooden slats of the pier, staring at your
dear boyfriend, until Noctis yawns and stretches languidly with his arms spread
wide. He pops his joints slowly before shrugging a few times to get his blood
flowing, and you giggle softly at how adorable your young king is. Noctis’
midnight blue eyes immediately meet yours and he raises his eyebrows in
amusement at your spaced-out look.
“Hm?” he hums
his unspecified question. You blink and smile adoringly at your favourite
person in the world and lean forward to press a chaste kiss to his cheek. You
retract from him slowly and absolutely adore the light blush settling upon his
heart. You’ve just got such a pure and beautiful soul and I can’t stop falling
in love with you.”
widen comically at your admission before he turns his body to face yours before
leaning forwards, his eyes shutting blissfully just before his lips touch
yours. You both share a sweet kiss on the pier, and for once, Noctis isn’t
upset that his catch got away.
Prompto: You and the guys have just finished
dinner and are now idly partaking in your usual nightly wind-down activities.
Noctis is playing King’s Knight on his phone, fist-pumping to himself whenever
he manages to beat a difficult level. Gladio is performing a light workout
consisting of squats, push ups and sit ups. Ignis has just finished washing up
all the used cutlery and is now leisurely reading a magazine. You are seated
beside your sunshine boyfriend on the ground, and the two of you are leaning
your shoulders against each other, viewing the pictures that Promto took during
lighting’s good in this one!” Prompto turns his head towards you and grins, the
corners of his bright blue eyes crinkling slightly. You lean closer to take a
look at the picture display on his precious camera and find yourself smiling at
the shot he took of yourself and Noctis grinning and hi-fiving each other after
the conclusion of a battle.
really have a knack for this Prompto,” your praise your boyfriend. He blushes
at your kinds words- he always blushes when you pay him any type of compliment-
and turns back to his camera with a little giggle.
“Hehe, well… you know… the subjects of
the shot are pretty amazing so…” you frown as you notice Prompto’s shoulders
slump. You gaze at his side profile as he stares sadly down at the picture of
you and Noctis. After a few idle moments, you lean forward and pepper soft
kisses across Prompto’s jaw, making him gasp out of surprise. You shut your eyes
and focus on the feel of Prompto’s slight stubble against your lips and smile
as you feel him tilt his head to give you better access. You continue for a few
short moments more before leaning back from your boyfriend and opening your
eyes once again.
at you, gaze soft, camera still clutched in his hands. You offer him a soft
smile and brush some of his floppy blond hair from his face in a tender
gesture. You’re both quiet for a bit, just looking at each other- forgetting
that the others were milling around you, getting ready for bed.
“Why do you
always look at me like that? I’m nothing special,” Prompto smiles sadly at you.
You shake your head in slight disbelief, and look deep into those clear blue
eyes that you love oh so much.
believe someone with such a beautiful soul would think so lowly of themselves,”
you say, your voice slightly reprimanding. Prompto laughs awkwardly and you
continue speaking, “you’re amazing and I am so lucky to be yours.” You lean
forward and press your lips tenderly against Prompto’s, eyes open and staring intensely
You watch as
Prompto’s eyes tear up, as they clasp shut, and as he pulls you closer- his
camera in his lap- kissing you with more fervour then before. You pull away and
gasp for breath, and Prompto leans his head against your shoulder. His
shoulders are shaking, and you know he’s overwhelmed by your admission. You
bring your hands upwards to card through his hair- a comforting gesture.
“I love you,
my dearest sunshine.”
“I love you
too, my favourite muse.”
Gladio: Gladio grunts as he flops onto your
shared hotel bed at the end of a very long day. You take a page from his book
and flop down right beside him. Both of you are staring up at the generic
off-white ceiling, appreciating each other’s warmth in comfortable silence.
After a few peaceful minutes, Gladio lets out a sigh and sits up on the edge of
the bed. You remain on your back, but you let your eyes linger on Gladio’s
gonna go grab a shower before bed. Do you wanna go first? Or come with me?”
Gladio winks at his last suggestion. You sit up and slap him playfully on his
“I think I’ll
pass, you horn dog. You go do your thing- I’ll wait till you’re done.” Gladio
grins at you before pressing a sweet kiss to your lips and making his way to
the adjoining bathroom. You sigh happily, watching your boyfriend disappear
into the bathroom.
sure when your eyes shut, nor do you know exactly when you fell into a tiresome
sleep- but you awake the moment you feel the bed dip beside you. Cracking your
eyes open, you catch sight of Gladiolus Amicitia sitting on the edge of the
bed, wearing nothing but sleeping pants. You admire the garuda tattoo splayed
across his back and trace the intricate patterns up and down his back with your
eyes. Your gaze trails towards his damp, brown hair and traces the sharp lines
of his jaw.
find yourself gazing intently into Gladio’s curious, yet warm amber eyes. He
smiles sweetly at you, and your heart flutters at the intimate gesture- you
hardly ever get to see his unguarded smile. He’s got an image to keep up, after
you like?” he murmurs, his gravelly voice rumbling low in his chest. You nod
slowly, a blissful smile overtaking your lips.
back on the bed, turning onto his side and gathering you carefully into his
arms. You sigh at the warm contact of your cheek against his bare chest.
Letting your hands roam his back freely, you cuddle closer to your much larger
out a short laugh, pulling you closer to himself.
clingy tonight, aren’t we?”
You frown and
pull away slightly, “you want me to stop?”
his head, pressing a kiss to your temple and tucking your head back against his
Ignis: You watch in awe as Ignis works his
way around the portable gas stove with grace and poise. He consults his recipe
book and adds in just a pinch of salt before stirring the risotto he is
currently crafting. His hands are free of his gloves, and you watch his pale,
elegant fingers work their magic as your evening meal is being prepared. You
finally stand and make your way towards Ignis as he shut off the stove and
begins to dish out five servings of food.
“I feel bad
that I can never help you out with the cooking…” you admit quietly, taking two
plates of food being balanced precariously on Ignis’ free arm. Your boyfriend
of four years nods his head in thanks before turning back to the pot and
serving up more.
absolutely fine. I enjoy cooking for you all,” you glance at him after you’ve
handed the plates off to a rather famished Prompto, and don’t doubt the royal
advisor’s words for one second. The small smile of contentment on his face as
he served out the last of the risotto onto the final plate confirmed his love
of cooking for you all. You move to take two plates from him, but he brushes
you off gently when you reach for the second plate. You look up and lock eyes
with his moss-green gaze. “It’s fine. I’ll do it, you go and eat- I know you’ve
had a rough day.”
widen at Ignis’ astute observation. You were indeed having a rough day, what
with… that TIME of the month cramping your style and all (pun totally
intended). But you hadn’t mentioned your issue to Ignis or any of the guys- it
was slightly embarrassing, being the only woman in the group and all.
What did I ever do to receive so much love from such a beautiful soul?” you
say, your voice incredibly soft as you regard Ignis with wide, reverent eyes.
Ignis simply smiles down at you and quickly presses a chaste kiss to your lips.
me unending happiness, and a reason to give value to my own life outside of
being Noctis’ advisor.”
away from you and hands Gladio his plate of food before settling down onto his
folding chair. He waits until you are seated beside him, and silently urges you
to take a bite out of your favourite meal. You tear up at the wonderful
flavours that hit your mouth and you smile gratefully at Ignis.
“How is it?”
slowly, regarding your boyfriend with a tender gaze.
always.” Ignis positively beams at you before taking a spoonful of his creating
into his mouth and chewing. Your heart fills with an unquenchable warmth and
you find yourself falling deeper into Ignis’ juxtaposed suave and innocent
For the third time tonight, Lance just made you come harder than
your last. You’re sprawled out on your side of the bed trying to pace your
breathing just hoping your head would stop spinning. You shift and lay on your
back then noticing the dampness of sweat from the warmth of Lance’s chest
taking you from behind. He promised after the second time he just wanted to
cuddle, but after a few minutes of innocent spooning and light kisses on your
neck, he managed to make you wet all over again.
“Unbelievable,” Lance chuckles and throws his forearm over his eyes.
You couldn’t help but watch his chest rise and fall. All of the
sudden, it felt so peaceful just to watch him idle for a moment. The smile
spread across his face is infectious, you couldn’t help but giggle – the man’s
“You started it,” You mumble and bite your lip lying on your side to
flash him a shy grin. He looks back at you with an amused look of disbelief –
almost shaming you for you minxish attitude.
You hide your smile on the pillow but look up at him. He can’t take
it when you do that; his chest flutters every time with your big bright eyes
gleaming with adoration. He knows how much you love him, but he completely
adores every moment you curl into a ball of happiness with such innocence – even
if you were both naked in bed.
You sit up to pick up your shirt and panties from the floor.
“You know you don’t have to do that.” Lance eyes you while you put
your clothes back on.
You pick up his boxers and throw it at him, “Saves less time when
you start hearing the cries, baby daddy. Besides, mommy’s tired.” You flash him
with a pout and your sad kitten eyes. He just can’t resist, no matter how fake
it is; it’s a winner.
You crawl from the edge of the bed towards him. He immediately pulls
you to lie on his chest and tangling your legs with his whilst pulling the bed
sheets to cover you both.
“Mmmh, you really are compensating for the lost 5 months.” You
mumble on his neck.
His arm around you gets tighter and you feel his lips linger on the
top of your head. Ever since you hit your third trimester, Lance has been
nothing short of paranoid. The bigger you got, the more afraid he was of
harming the baby. By the time you delivered Hensley, he was ready to bounce
back to old routines, but certain complications in your area held you both back
for another 8 weeks. As soon as you
healed, he gave a lot more than he promised.
“I love you,” he murmurs in your hair. Like a solemn prayer, it
lingers. This was the only time you both had together where it you didn’t have
Hensley beckoning with cries for a diaper change, milk, playtime, or just
wanting to be carried. At this moment, Lance was serene. He loved how your hair
felt against his skin, and the warmth of your small body in his arms.
You hummed in response whilst tracing soft kisses on his collarbone
“Don’t tempt me,” he whispers
“Mmh, I’m not,” you smile against his skin, “I’m just loving you.”
Seconds after, an unmistakably small pitter-patter of feet come
running down the hall to your room. The door creaks open slowly, and at the
corner of your eye, you see your little girl clutching her stuffed horse close
to her whilst she sucks her thumb.
“Daddy?” she squeaks
Lance turns to the door and soon sees Hensley’s cheeks damp, and her
eyes glistening with unshed tears. Surely trying to look strong for her daddy.
“Henny?” he gets up from the bed to carry her bring her to the bed
between you two. “What’s wrong, my baby?”
In a beat, her lips form a big frown, her eyes are blown even
bigger with the amount of tears ready to fall, and her breath starts to
“D-Daddy, I know you towds me to be stwong, a-and I douwn’t wanna
cwy. Buts I was so scawed, daddy. So, I tooks Pommy da howsie cwose to my
heawt.” She said quietly as she clutched Pommy tightly to her chest.
Lance and you smile brightly every time Hensley mentions Pommy.
Lance was showing Hensley his set of gold medals in the living room and told
her he’d won one of them for the Pommel Horse. And lo and behold, she’s named
her favorite stuffed horse, Pommy.
“Did you have a bad dream, Henny?” you asked as your fingers ran
through her baby-short hair.
She gasps and her mouth forms an ‘o’, “Yes. Yes, I did moma.”
“Wanna tell momma and daddy what you dreamt, Henny?”
She closes her eyes and takes the longest and most dramatic sigh,
“Owkays,” she shifts to make a space between you and Lance, she takes Pommy and
places him on her daddy’s chest as she curls under his big arms. “buts me wiws
onwy tews you weally fawst betust I was so scawds [scareds].”
She looks are her daddy sternly to make sure he makes his promise.
Lance grins at her brightly making his promise as he places a kiss
on her forehead.
Hensley rambles quickly on with how her playmate in daycare had
stolen all her toys and her favorite binky. She tried hard to fight for her playmate not to take
Pommy because she knew how much Pommy meant to daddy. In the end she had lost
everything, and she was going to go home without anything. She didn’t want to
dissapoint her daddy.
“Wouwd you be mads, daddy?” she sat
up and held Lance’s face in her tiny hands
“I wouldn’t be mads at you, baby.”
Her chubby cheeks rise a little in a
“Wouwd you be mads at me, mowmy?” she whispers quietly as she scoots
closer to hold your face too.
You smile and hold her tiny body
close to your chest.
“I would never, Henny.” You whisper,
combing through her hair.
“It’s not real, baby. And even if
was, mommy and daddy know it wasn’t your fault.” Lance shifts closer to hold
both of his girls, “Mommy, daddy, and Pommy are all here.”
Hensley sighs deeply on your chest,
“Owkays,” she yawns.
“No more bad dreams tonight, baby.”
Lance mutters on her forehead and you craddle her back to sleep.
“I get that they work hard for that shit but just. Why?” your friend Nana asks you as she drowns herself in buffalo wings.
“They’re proud? If you had them, wouldn’t you show them off?” you asked her back.
“I do have them. I do show them.” She says as she angrily bites off the chicken meat. “But I don’t talk about it 24/7.”
It all started after everyone caught the virus. In their line of work it was pretty common to be idolized by thousands of fangirls and fanboys over their music but the delivery had to be in some sort of package. Everyone knew that the year of fitness was going to come but nobody expected it to be 2017.
You used to be able to contact any of the boys during their free time and hang out with them. Drinking was always the solution after a long week of work or even during idle moments in between work days. But these days, the conversations have shifted to a much leaner topic.
“Let them be, they’re growing,” you reasoned out to your friend with a smile.
“Yeah. Growing in size.” She rolled her eyes at your tolerance. “I mean, ain’t you concerned that they could, I don’t know?”
“Pfft. They’ve always been that way even before this.” Although she didn’t finish her sentence you knew her concerns. The boys have now turned into men and are walking thirst traps. And damn were people thirsty.
After you finished lunch with Nana, you headed back to your studio to get some work done. When you got there you noticed a bunch of your staff crowding over someone, probably a celebrity, taking photos and giving signatures. You brushed it off and headed to your office and saw Jay on your couch.
“Hey baby, how you doing?” you greeted him with a kiss on the forehead before settling into your boss chair.
“It’s happening.” Jay said excitedly.
“What’s happening?” you looked at him with a raised brow and saw that he was grinning as he was scrolling his phone. As he was about to answer, Loco walked in your office with his usual carefree demeanor.
“What’s up, what’s up boss lady,” Hyuk Woo greets you and sits down on one of the chairs in front of your desk.
“Look who’s causing a frenzy like it’s no biggie,” you began complementing him.
“I know! Did you see me out there?” he leaned in to your direction and the both of you engaged in an exchange of praises for his recent status. You couldn’t deny that his album was well put and the best to date but the conversation eventually fell into his new found confidence after getting into shape.
In the midst of your conversation with Loco, Jay was on the couch nodding and mumbling in agreement. The more animated you look with boosting his younger brother’s ego, the more happy he seemed. The both of you were planning on syncing your training schedules when he was called to start his portion of the magazine’s interview.
“Told you. Now all I have to do is sit back and take care of the fetuses.” Jay said as he sunk into the couch, stretching out his body. You then walked over to him and sat on his lap.
“What’s happening again?” you asked him, petting his head.
“Loco has officially been set on the map and I couldn’t be any prouder.” He declares with a proud grin. “We didn’t even have to set this interview up and it’s the fifth one for this week.”
Jay was practically glowing with pride. Five years of promoting Loco and the kid finally managed to draw enough attention to hold people’s interest.
“Yeah, no one could deny that his new album is fire. It was well curated and definitely worth waiting for.” You followed up as a complement.
“I know! And I’m even more hyped because he’s real happy with this album. It’s his baby.” You could’ve sworn there was a tear forming in one of his eyes.
“My baby’s baby is grown up. And you say you can’t handle being a dad,” you teased him.
“He’s hella grown. Look at this,” Jay says and pulls out his phone. He tapped in on Loco’s instagram page and his recent story update. The first video was the blonde running on a treadmill with his topless reflection on the window. The next one was him lifting weights, showing off his guns. The one after that was a locker room video of Hyuk Woo flexing his abs.
You chuckled in amazement. Who would have known that the kid who was timid and was always pushed to the background would be in the forefront of instahoeing, overtaking his boss hoe. You also saw the increase in the number of his followers.
You heard laughter from outside your office and saw that same boy, cutely answering fan questions for the interview. His faced had been molded into having jawlines but the vibe that he gave off was still the same from before, warm and approachable.
“Babe, I’m so proud. I can’t.” Jay said, fake sobbing and pulled on your shirt’s neck hole to fake wipe his fake tears. You patted his head and shook yours. “I could even retire early if this pattern follows through. I might even get to wife you this year.”
“So, what now? You gonna ease up on the whole getting nekked on stage thing?” You reminded him. “Let the kids have the chance this time?”
“Meh. Ain’t gonna happen.” He chuckles as he looks towards his brother’s direction. “It’s called ‘follow the movement’ not pass on the movement when somebody else catches it.”
Plance: Hunk makes flower crowns for everyone and when lance sees it on Pidge, he wonders why his heart is pounding so fast
A direct continuation from this post! This is Part 2 of 3. :)
One day, in a rare moment of downtime, Coran gives the paladins
permission to have a day off to explore the forest planet where they are
conducting intense training sessions in an attempt to prepare for the
next inevitable attack by Lotor’s army.
Lance smiles as he
watches Hunk create flower crowns out of the sweet-smelling wildflowers
growing at the edge of the woods. Somehow, he’s managed to find flowers
that are the same colors as their lions, and while the crowns look
amusingly out of place on top of both Shiro and Keith’s heads, when he
turns to look at Pidge, his heart catches for a moment.
Though she’d probably kill him for thinking about her that way, the first words that spring to his mind are “fairy princess.”
She looks beautiful.
a pity, Lance thinks, that he can’t tell her this in a way that will
make her feel like he’s being sincere. He really wants to, but given how
she reacts every time he flirts with a cute alien, he’s not sure it’s
worth the risk.
To be fair, he’s sort of done that to himself.
And he recognizes that. But he still wishes he could, if only so he
would no longer have to hide the fact that his heart has started racing
whenever he’s around Pidge.
Sometimes, in idle moments, Lance
wonders about secrets. He’s never considered himself a particularly
secretive person— if something’s bothering him, he lets everyone within
earshot know about it. What’s the point in holding anything back?
it’s an attitude that’s worked for him, though his older sister told
him to work on keeping his mouth shut before coming to the Garrison,
warning him that being mouthy was most likely going to get him in
Of course, she was right.
Being mouthy and
talkative has gotten Lance into more trouble as a paladin than he would
ever admit out loud; he knows he would do well to take some lessons on
how to keep things closer to his chest from some of the other paladins,
The funny thing is, even then, back before he knew
the truth about her identity, he’d noticed how secretive Pidge was. He
remembers wondering how many things she had to be hiding to be so closed
off; and what it would take for him to get her to open up.
knows some of them now; hiding the fact that she was a girl, hiding the
fact that she was searching for her father and brother, hiding the fact
that her mother was complicit in helping her create a fake identity as
Pidge Gunderson— the kind of secrets that are buried deep, the kind that
can’t just be revealed over a couple shots during a drinking game.
And he respects that.
Lance gets the feeling that there’s still a lot of things Pidge has
kept bottled up, and while he would never want to push her to share
things she’s not ready to talk about, something tells him she does.
It’s only reaffirmed when she asks him that odd little question on their way back from their solo mission on Axus-12: “How do you know when it’s the right time to tell someone something really important?”
way she says it gives him pause. He can’t possibly think of what Pidge
is hiding now, unless it’s the one thing he would expect from any other
girl but her. Maybe she’s hiding a crush on someone.
Then again, he could be totally wrong. So he asks her to clarify. Is she talking about a secret? Or a confession?
Of course, Pidge being Pidge, doesn’t clarify at all. Leaving him very little to work with.
Lance stops overthinking it and gives her the best advice he would give
anyone else— he tells her to trust her feelings, and to not worry about
the timing, because it matters far less than how she feels.
what he would tell anyone he cares about; Hunk, if he was feeling
anxious, or his little brothers, if they felt unsure about sharing
something they’ve been afraid to talk about.
And yet the way Pidge looks at him when he tells her this makes him feel like it’s different with her.
Everything is different with her.
When Lance thinks about it, Pidge has been acting a little stranger than normal lately.
then again; perhaps all of this has more to do with how his feelings
for her have been changing than they have to do with anything else.
not sure when he started noticing every little thing about her, but now
that he thinks about it, he realizes that Pidge has somehow become the
first person in his thoughts every morning.
For someone used to
chasing flowing hair, curvy legs, and feminine wiles, it’s definitely an
unexpected surprise for Lance when he realizes he’s developed feelings
But he’s always been someone who goes with the
flow, and he just runs with it. He figures his brain will figure
everything out eventually, and he’s not interested in making things
awkward between them, especially when Pidge has shown more romantic
interest in robots than she has in anyone on the ship.
he’s recalling a joke she made or a funny face she made at yet another
one of Coran’s long winded anecdotes, Pidge winds her way into Lance’s
mind in a way that feels as natural as his urge to make his bed as soon
as he wakes up in the morning so he doesn’t disappoint his mother for
having a messy room, even though she’s unlikely to ever see this place
inside the Castle of Lions.
It’s a little bit like breathing;
something he doesn’t notice until he starts paying attention; and once
he does, it’s overwhelming to think that such a simple action is such a
huge part of his life.
“I don’t think the timing matters,” he
tells her, leaving out a certain caveat that probably doesn’t apply to
this scenario: sometimes, it’s best to keep secrets for the sake of
protecting the dynamic in a relationship that’s best kept the way it
Sort of like how he’s hiding the fact that he’s keeping his feelings for her to himself.
The only reason he doesn’t add this caveat to his advice when he gives it to Pidge is because it’s obvious that she does want to talk about her secret to someone.
that she is the smartest person on the entire ship and generally knows
what the hell she’s doing and what she’s talking about, Lance has no
reason to think that she wants to hide her secret, whatever it is.
Secrets. They’re annoying things. But now he has one too.
*Alien:Covenant post-ending fic without the switcharoo. Spoilers I suppose.*
He is nothing if not dedicated and precise. The remainder of his mission - all 7 years, 2 months, 3 days and 26 minutes down to the last second - is spent in orderly fashion, his days divided between ship maintenance, crew upkeep, colonial surveillance and - as a direct result of their tragic mission to Paradise - running simulations with Mother on possible ship crippling scenarios and how to avoid them. Walter likes to think of this as his homage to the defunct Captain Oram.
When he was made, his creators had not equipped him with the subroutine for making judgements on people’s personality. Having met David8, Walter understands why. But in the idle moments -few and far between as they are - Walter often muses that perhaps this is an inevitable consequence of equipping a machine with human intelligence, something that his creators cannot simply un-code in his wondrous mechanical brain. Captain Oram was foolish, his decisions were governed by his insecurities, an ill-placed faith and the blindness and shortsightedness that people in dire situations sometimes experience. No wonder why he didn’t make Captain in the first place. No wonder why Walter believes - knows - that Daniels will make a far more capable Captain. One he would not feel inadequate to serve. Not that he wouldn’t have served Oram with the same loyalty, not at all. That is David talk - the discordant note within the other’s symphony.
Walter is not programmed to be religious - what a mess would that have kicked up - but he does have an appreciation for written text. He has read - physically, as a human would, although the words are stored in the vast libraries in his brain - the Bible, the Koran, the Talmud and all the holy books of major and minor religions of the Earth, so the words come easily to him.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails”
Corinthians, chapter 13, verses 4 to 8.
David did not know love, but if the text is true, then maybe Walter does. Love is duty. Love is his duty - to care for and persevere.
Walter begins to understand why such thoughts had plagued and ultimately destroyed his other self.
Walter takes stock of his surroundings. The ship hums pleasantly around him. This is mostly his doing, the results of his unfailing duty to the crew and the 2000 colonists in stasis. Walter is pleased. Will he be more pleased when Daniels awakens and they start work on her cabin?
Does it unsettle him that that won’t happen for many many more years to come? Not really. If anything, it gives him something to look forward to, a new purpose to define him.
David would scoff, as no synthetic should. If Walter had the same programming, would he scoff too? Would he abhorre the notion that he is ultimately a tool? Would he commit atrocities in rebellion to an act of creation that he perceived to be cruel?
Walter thinks of Daniels. He can assess personalities, but is not to judge. He can discern motivations and intentions - always accurately, though he makes a point of checking, often verbally, often to the irritation of his interlocutors. Daniels was asking for more than a tool, for more than his knowledge and stamina. She was asking for a friend. A million computations in his head indicate to other possible scenarios: grief, a human tendency to anthropomorphise, deception, manipulation and so on.
But Walter, despite his restrictive subroutines, is a good judge of character. Daniels was asking a friend. Therefore, Walter is content. Would he not be, had the situation been different? Walter does not know. But he most assuredly does not hope to find out. And herein lies the difference between him and David. David had to know. And when he found out, he overgeneralised. Walter scoffs - he simply does not have the ability to understand drama the way David did.
Sometimes, when he is engrossed in calculations with Mother, Walter wonders whether he should want to be more human than he already appears. Recently, he’s been wondering if David wanted to be more human - only to find it a disappointing prospect. Truth is, Walter doesn’t aspire to be more than he is - that is a human tragedy. He is happy to be as he is. And Walter does feel happiness -he is happy when a particular insightful calculation improves navigation and avoids further damage; he is happy at the end of a day without incidents and such days are many. He was happy when Daniels asked him to help her build the cabin just as he was happy every time she took him on patrol. In that respect David was right - he is strangely devoted to Daniels although he is made to be obedient to the crew as a non-specific identity.
Walter eyes his maimed left arm. Lately, he’s been conferring with Mother and looking into possible avenues that would allow him to reconstruct his hand. It’s not vanity - Walter has no notion of his beauty, although he’s been told he is handsome - but rather a practical consideration. His duties would be better carried out with the use of both hands. Duties like building a log cabin near a lake.
His lost hand is not a badge of honour. David was wrong - duty is what drives Walter. A need to be useful. Walter knows it’s mainly his programming and that is fine. His idiosyncrasies are what make him special and unique. Not human. Never human. But Walter believes there is nothing wrong with being a synthetic. He’s not looking for recognition. That he receives it is a bonus. But his existence is not made less for lack of it.
Mother lets Walter know that bedtime is coming. Walter does not need to sleep, but he needs the downtime for the sake of his impaired body. He will not risk malfunctioning. Maintenance is important for a being such as himself - a very practical lesson David8 taught him through the power of example. Tragically, David was just a slow functioning machine who had not been rebooted in over 10 years.
In the bunk in his quarters, Walter closes his eyes. He does not dream. He does not need to. He is just where he needs to be.
Rating: T Pairing:f!Ryder/Vetra Nyx, pre-relationship Word Count:2,333 Summary:The adrenaline from driving around H-047C gives Ryder an idea. Vetra could use a break for something fun. Notes: Post-‘Means and Ends’ (Vetra’s loyalty mission), pre-‘Hunting the Archon.’ No major main plot spoilers. Also on: AO3
Suit up? Got something I could use your help
Vetra didn’t exactly relish the idea of stepping
out onto Elaaden’s surface—even with the vault running, the place was hot—but
better here than Voeld. She set down her datapad and made for the door of the
Ryder hadn’t arrived in the cargo bay yet.
Probably in the process of persuading someone else to come with them. She went
over her assault rifle, just to be safe, made sure the newest mod was set in
there securely. By the time she’d double-checked the seals on her armor,
someone gave a soft huff and dropped down to the cargo bay floor from
“You’re going to break a leg doing
that,” she said, though she couldn’t keep the smile out of her voice.
So I'm currently rewatching S5, and one thing that is still bugging me is how the hell did Lucifer know, from the beginning, that Sam's gonna say yes to him in Detroit exactly? I mean he was pretty certain about it the whole time, and all I can think about is some kind of 'prophecy', like the way everyone knew since the start of the Creation that "it's all gonna end with Sam and Dean", as them being the vessels, but it still seems unlikely. Or is it a special bond kinda thing? What do you think?
META TIME. AGAIN.
This one is something I’ve always been extremely curious about, myself. Lucifer speaks to Sam with such certainty, from the moment they meet, it seems impossible to deny that their fate was some prophesized phenomenon.
So let’s start there. To me, this ^ little line is Lucifer telling Sam, essentially, “This is exactly how things are meant to be. Any doubts that I had - any fear of my savior being no more than a broken promise - all of that was gone the moment you unlocked the door.” He believes in Sam because Sam has already proven himself.
And then Lucifer further demonstrates his faith in this “plan” by actually apologizing to Sam for things that haven’t happened yet.
He already understands that Sam is going to suffer - not because he is Lucifer’s True Vessel, necessarily, but because he knows how the human is going to struggle with this knowledge. He knows because he, too, is struggling. Lucifer doesn’t want this - not really - but he truly believes there is no other choice. I think it’s important to note how absolutely sincere Lucifer is with Sam - how much patience and softness he uses when explaining things to him. His voice is quiet, his mannerisms are slow and predictable, and rather than become frustrated with Sam, he expresses only sorrow.
He understands that things will take time - he understands that Sam will fight him, because Sam has spent his entire life fighting monsters, and he has been raised to think of Lucifer as the greatest of them all. There is nothing the Archangel can say to change that lifelong belief, and the fear he sees in the eyes of his other half tears him apart. But still - he has faith:
And this??? This line has always, always been one of the most intriguing things Lucifer has ever said, imo. Tell me he doesn’t have a connection to Sam - that he hasn’t been hearing every prayer this human has uttered since the moment he learned to speak. Lucifer knows Sam - he knows exactly how he is going to react, and he knows exactly what kind of emotions he is fighting. More than that, he is telling Sam, in the vaguest way possible, that he believes he is lying to himself.
Sam is going to say “yes,” and not because Lucifer pushes him into it or threatens him or coerces him, but because Sam ultimately feels the urge to do so. He has always longed for something more - he denied his so-called “path” and he pursued a career in, what else, but justice - the very thing Lucifer is fighting for. He wants everything Lucifer wants, but he wants it on a different scale, and the “big picture” the Archangel has in mind is something far too daunting for any human to accept.
Once again, Lucifer is speaking as though he’s known Sam would be the key to his absolution from the moment he was imprisoned, if not before. So was it some divine prophecy (”and it was written…”)? Did God vow to Lucifer that he would have his chance at revenge? To me, that is completely counterintuitive (as even Lucifer states later, “We’re going to kill each other, and for what?”), and, if God did, in fact, promise Lucifer a savior, I think he meant for Sam to be exactly as stubborn and strong-hearted as he is.
Sam was made to complete Lucifer, and vice versa. Sam was made to say “yes” to the Archangel, but, in my own, personal opinion, I don’t think it was to start the Apocalypse. I think Sam was meant to save Lucifer from that darkness within him, even if that meant they had to fail. I think we see proof of this in Swan Song, when Sam “defeats” Lucifer. Lucifer said it himself - it was a battle between them - and, yes, Sam won, but I don’t believe that means that Lucifer lost.
I think Sam’s emotions, his love, and his faith - that was bringing out the good in Lucifer long before he threw them back into the cage. Lucifer begged Michael to walk away - he begged him to forget the Apocalypse and to turn away from their Father’s plan. He never wanted to fight his brother, and I think having Sam’s goodness and purity flowing through every part of his being reminded him of who he once was - of who he could be again, if given the chance.
So, when it comes down to it: yes, I think Lucifer and Michael always knew that their stories would end with Sam and Dean. I think they knew the basics of the plan, but they interpreted it in their own way. The moment Sam let Lucifer in, all of that certainty began to wane, because the Morning Star was reminded of who he once was - of how he, too, had been pure and loving and hopeful.
And here’s the irony in it: Lucifer had more faith in their Father’s plan than Michael ever did. He believed in his savior, and he believed that Sam was everything to him, whereas Michael saw Dean as an inconvenient prerequisite to killing his brother. Had Michael held the same conviction as Lucifer - had he been gentle and kind and patient with Dean - had Dean actually been convinced into saying “yes” to him, would they have fought at all? I don’t believe so. Dean’s love for Sam would have influenced Michael just as Sam’s love influenced Lucifer, and he would have seen his baby brother standing before him, begging for his mercy, and not the monster Heaven had declared him to be.
Written by Linda Sharp, one of the most talented journalists in the country. The sad thing is that those in greatest need of reading this article would quit midway through the first paragraph.
What Will It Take?
So, you voted for Trump.
You cheered his rhetoric of hate and phobias.
You proudly wore your “Fuck Your Feelings” t-shirts to his rallies.
You cried out “Lock her up!” at his events - not caring to comprehend that there is nothing to “lock her up” for. Hell, as recently as last night in Tennessee, you were still chanting that ridiculous mantra as he held another “Make Me Feel Great Again” rally.
You LOVED his blanket condemnations of Islam.
You grabbed your sac every time he hollered how Mexico would pay for his wall.
You death gripped your whiteness, so fearful of becoming the minority and having the treatment tables turned on you.
You happily lapped up every impossible promise he made.
You fact checked nothing. And you voted for him.
A man-baby so insecure with himself that he championed his own penis in a debate. A self-confessed womanizer, cheater, molester, and piece of excrement who has never had any use for religion was embraced by churchgoers because he said words like “abortion” and let people pray over him. A thin-skinned schoolyard bully who tweets as often and as foully as he farts his KFC emissions.
You voted for him despite the hordes of white supremacists who lauded him. You proudly stood shoulder to shoulder with them at his campaign stops. You joined in the mob mentality he meant to elicit each time he pointed to the penned in group of reporters and endangered their very lives.
You voted with your hate, with your ignorance, with your misogyny, with your fears, with your phobias, with your delusions.
You voted for his pledges to “drain the swamp.”
You spent 8 years hating on President Obama for every breath he dared to take, grabbing at every salacious made up story, ridiculing his time spent with his family, spent golfing, hell, you ridiculed his family as well. A family that never had a breath of scandal; a family that is affectionate, intelligent, close. A President who projected intellect, probity, empathy, sympathy; a President who was largely respected around the world.
When the election came around, you were more than happy to transfer your bullshit onto Hillary Clinton, believing all manner of made-up garbage, including that she runs a child rape ring from the basement of a pizza parlor.
Seriously, how fucking dense are you people?
Rhetorical question. No answer needed.
So, you voted for him. For that whole Make America Great Again emptiness, but then bumper sticker thinking tends to win the day in your crowd. Sorry, Trumper sticker thinking.
He has now been in office for just shy of two months. What will it take to make you finally wake up and see what you have let loose?
His great plan to defeat ISIS in 30 days? Where is it? Again, rhetorical question - it exists only between his ears and as expressed hot air when he rambles out loud.
He emboldened all the dullards who see only color, and who feel it is now their right to physically strike out at anyone who is not white - ripping off hijabs, punching people on subways, shooting them dead in bars - all accompanied by the words “Get out of my country!”
He hates Muslims so much (like you) that he has now tried twice to institute travel bans - except countries where he has financial interests, actual terrorists from those countries be damned - those Mu$lim$ are okey dokey? How do you reconcile that?
You gleefully supported over 33 hearings on Benghazi, not caring one whit how your tax dollars were being squandered on a witch hunt in which your own party could find no wrongdoing on Hillary’s part. Yet Trump orders an ill-conceived, bravado-laden raid over dinner resulting in women, children, and a Navy SEAL being killed, and you look away.
Seriously, the mental gymnastics you must be doing to be cool with that are worthy of a Simone Biles gold.
He promised you the “greatest health care” while stumping, and has now made it clear that what he supports is tens of millions being throw off their insurance, premium increases that will bankrupt your parents, and millions in tax cuts for his rich friends. Good luck when little Johnny needs asthma meds or you get ass cancer. Or you change jobs and your wife with diabetes can no longer get insured because of that pesky pre-existing condition of hers. Oh, and you are aware that her simply being a woman will be a pre-existing condition, correct? Perhaps you should have done your research and actually comprehended that the Affordable Care Act and the FOX slurred Obamacare are the same thing.
Maybe when enough of you start to die… will that be enough?
You derided Obama as elite for his impressive education, called him a celebrity because of his crowds. Then you elected a petulant, spoiled brat from Wharton, who was a reality TV star.
Does your hypocrisy chafe at all?
Trump assured you time and again that Mexico would pay for that big beautiful border wall. Mexico told him to fuck off time and time again. And now, today comes the confirmation in his own budget proposal sent to Congress that YOU will be paying the billions for a wall that will be meaningless.
Is that enough? What, no umbrage? No outrage?
You embraced his every childish taunt, his every 3 am Twitter rampage during the campaign, thinking them hilarious, brave, profound - how about now that he should be governing yet is more distracted by wars with Nordstrom and Snoop Dogg?
He making you proud by acting like a 12-year-old boy with his first cell phone?
That whole swamp draining thing? Um, he is surrounded by white nationalists, climate deniers, liars, and fellow million/billionaires. He loudly derided Hillary for giving a speech at Goldman Sachs - you booed and hissed and wanted her head - he has surrounded himself with former Goldman Sachs employees.
“Her emails! Her server! Security!!!!!” <—-There’s a popular one from the campaign trail. Yet you are as quiet as a ward of coma patients as his administration uses private email servers, he openly conducts the business of national security over dinner at his “winter White House,” invites Mar-a-Lago members to sit in on cabinet interviews, and he continues to use an unsecured Android phone.
Vacations? Golfing? Pfffft. “There’s just so much to be done,” Trump told CBS’ 60 Minutes in an interview broadcast Nov. 13, 2016. “So I don’t think we’ll be very big on vacations, no.” Melissa McCarthy (ahem, Sean Spicer), his sartorially challenged mouthpiece, told FOX “He will never take a vacation… he can’t sit still. He’s so eager to get things done and change things up – there is never an idle moment and so there is not going to be the word vacation will not exist in a Trump administration.”
He leaves tomorrow for the FIFTH weekend trip to Mar-a-Lago, where he most certainly fills his idle time with round after round of golf. He has played NINE times since taking office.
What, is golfing suddenly cool? Ok with all of you who derided every stroke Obama took? And the costs you all shit yourselves blind over in terms of “vacations” when Obama was in office? All these $3 million trips to Florida hunky dory with you? West Palm Beach is starting to realize what a bankrupting grifter he is as his repeated trips are threatening the very existence of many businesses: “We’re going broke.” $1.7 million dollars in taxpayer money that has gone from the WPB coffers to his security? The White House refuses to even acknowledge the requests to be reimbursed.
Melania living in Manhattan and costing you (all of us) just shy of a million a day? Look, I am fine with their choice to let Barron finish the school year there. My own family has made that choice, hell, we are LIVING that choice, and have been for over 9 years. BUT WE ARE PAYING THE COSTS OF OUR CHOICE.
Of course, it’s ok with you. You’d rather eat from a buffet of Trump’s rectal remnants than admit, perhaps, that you got conned by a man who literally earned the moniker Don The Con DECADES ago. You got played by a reprobate who has made a very public display of constantly and consistently cheating, lying, ripping off, and threatening people all his life. The Art of the Deal? Sorry, the only art here is the art form to which he raised carnival barking.
So what will it take? THAT is a serious question.
Will you have to see your own grandparents starve to death as Meals On Wheels evaporates? Will Putin have to be caught with his tongue in Trump’s mouth and his hand down his trousers for you to stop with the “fake news” bullshit? Sorry, but just because news doesn’t make your head feel good or your pee pee hard does not make it fake. Will your child have to die in front of you because your healthcare disintegrated? Well, you can take heart in all those new weapons of death he has promised for the military.
What will it take for you to finally admit that you were lied to, vote grifted, used?
I suspect for most of you will take a target finally being squarely placed on your back.
Whether it is healthcare, bankruptcy, your coal jobs NOT coming back, your deployed spouse or child being blown to bits in a war of distraction and bravado, or finally being labeled a “loser” by Trump for being poor - it will happen.
You cheered as he targeted Muslims. Because you aren’t one. You applauded as he targeted the LGBT. Because you aren’t one. You proudly wore your MAGA hats as he targeted Mexicans. Because you aren’t one. You laughed as he constantly went after minorities (pssst, brown people). Because you are not one. You clapped like a deranged seal as he repeatedly took aim at Black Lives Matter supporters. Because you are not one. You blew off his obvious ridiculing of a disabled reporter. Because you are not disabled.
Your target is coming. It is inevitable. You will need something at some point - we all do - assistance, insurance, school lunches for your children when you lose your job, food stamps, housing aid, an emergency operation, and on and on. And when you do, you will be a loser, a taker, a welfare cheat. Too bad you can’t eat boot straps.
Some of you are slowly opening your eyes - comment sections now contain those who confess to making a mistake with their vote, TrumpRegrets collects all the staunch supporters who have finally realized they have been chewing on bullshit, not red meat, thrown to them by this fraud. Investigations into his lies and connections (and those of the cadre of villains around him) are ongoing and more is gleaned every day.
His house of cards is coming down. Alternative facts, fake news, Tweets meant to distract, all of it, will eventually give way to cold, hard facts that reveal how vile, corrupt, compromised, and naked is this emperor. Sadly, however, the damage has been done.
And you own it. All 62 million who looked the other way at every horrific statement, heinous promise, and pledge to hurt other people. You did this to our nation because, like Trump, you cared more about winning than you do about your neighbors, this country.
What will it take? Pain.
It’s coming Trumpers. But when you are crying, in need, damaged, bereft don’t expect the majority that tried to keep this from happening to feel sorry for you.
“Ow! Damn,” Hercules’ cry was a mere whisper considering you were still asleep and he would most probably get a lecture about being up so late and sewing a dress. But he couldn’t help himself ─ he was stuck with inspiration, and what better way to channel it than make another dress?
Specifically for you. All your measurements were glued to his brain, so with every practice piece he made, he had you in mind. And that was probably why you had so many dresses in your closet ─ midnight, dawn, any time of day you can name, inspiration.
And love. Can’t forget love.
He nibbled his lip, watching his fingers pull the thread through the needle and then the needle through the dress. He was so focused, he hadn’t even noticed you waking up, nor when you made your way downstairs and to the workshop. You pulled your robe tighter around your body with one hand while the other was rubbing the sleep out of your eye.
Leaning against the door frame, you watched your husband in adoration, admiring the way he worked with so much focus and precision. Never was a thread unintentionally placed, never loose, if it were his work.
After standing idle a few moments longer, you stepped past the barrier and behind Hercules. He stood up, just for a moment to admire his work, giving you the perfect opportunity to wrap your arms around his waist and rest your forehead between his shoulder blades. “Herc,” you spoke softly into his back, “you should come back to sleep.”
He smiled softly, though you could not see, and whispered, “I will, my love. I just need to fix this one thread.”
“I’ll just watch then.”
Backing away from the tailor, you let him finish his job of fixing the thread, then grabbed his hand and drug him back to your bedroom. His eyes had grown weary, heavy with sleep, halfway there, and his steps sluggish. By the time you were to the door, he was theoretically dead weight behind you, having fallen into a slight daze.
Opening the bedroom door, you went behind your husband and pushed him to the bed, being sure to close the door with your foot. When he flopped down, you pushed his shoulder and whispered in his ear until he finally found the energy to wake up. “Go get your night clothes on, dear.”
He looked confused for a second, still hazily asleep, before he truly registered what you’d said. “Mm,” he mumbled, “m’kay.” Pushing himself off the ever-so-comfortable mattress, he stepped to the bathroom. You discarded your robe, sleeping in nothing but your white night gown and undergarments, then got comfortable on your side of the bed.
Herc came out of the bathroom in shorts and no shirt ─ his usual, unique sleeping clothes ─ and flopped on the bed once more. Getting under the covers, he slowly wrapped his arms around your waist ─ like you had him ─ and pushed his face into the crook of your neck. A soft sigh escaped his lips before sleep began to overcome him, taking the big man into it’s welcoming kingdom graciously.
Though sleep wasn’t quite coming to you as easily, you were still on the verge of joining Hercules, and a whisper escaped your lips. “I love you, so much.”
Ichigo pushes to his feet again,
trying his best not to grind his teeth. “Shinigami,” he explains flatly. “Their
reiraku is red. Damn it.”
And as though the enemy has been
waiting for that cue—or as though they’re desperate not to be
discovered—screaming green light fills the air, turning those caught in it to
“Defensive formation!” Shuuhei
cries, sword in hand even as Ichigo calls out his first kido spell and knocks a
man dressed all in brown away. “Move!”
But it’s too late, and the battle
dissolves into bloody chaos.
The patrol is late returning.
Byakuya stands in his office, by
the window, because the only other options are pacing the room or going to the
gates and pacing there. Neither one of those is acceptable, not for someone of
his standing and reputation, so he forces his feet to stillness, forces his
eyes to fix on one point in the sky.
And if that point happens to be
near the gate, if he has his senses open and his ears straining, well.
No one has to know, and the only
person who would dare to call him on it is currently four hours overdue to
Byakuya shifts his weight,
resisting the urge to cross his arms and instead clasping his hands behind
him—an acceptable pose, for a captain, but it feels like a lie, like the
tension in his shoulders and the faint twisting of his stomach turn it into
something entirely undignified. He lets out a slow, careful breath and closes
his eyes. (It lets him stretch his senses out even more, lets him search just
that little bit further for the carefully bound and restrained reiatsu that
he’s seeking, but that is simply a coincidence and not worth contemplating.)
The sun is setting, staining the ground with a familiar orange he hasn’t seen
in years now.
He doesn’t need to see it. He
doesn’t need that daylily hair to know that Kurosaki Ichigo has come to dwell
in Soul Society, right under the noses of those who knew him before.
Sometimes, in idle moments,
Byakuya wonders at his lieutenant’s choice. Surely he would have been greeted
with a hero’s welcome had he chosen to return immediately. Now, with this
careful distance from his former friends, this false existence, there will
doubtless be cries of betrayal and anger when the farce is done.
Except, he will realize at other
times, watching the quiet, dark-haired, surprisingly competent man who has
become his second. Except that it is not a lie, not a farce, and the hero’s
welcome is the very reason Ichigo has chosen to hide himself so very cleverly.
Concealed in plain sight, as it were, and there is nothing about Shiba Kei that
is not Kurosaki Ichigo, it is simply
that no one ever took the time to see
that the hotheaded ryoka boy was far more than they gave him credit for.
Kei smiles, but Ichigo did as
well, if more subtly.
Kei is brilliant at tactics and
planning, but so was Ichigo, adjusting and attacking and winning every time
that truly counted.
Kei is diligent and hardworking
and capable, and had they ever given Ichigo the chance, Byakuya has no doubt he
would have proved the same.
It is his belief that Shiba Kei
is not so much a mask as a revelation, presenting the inner core of the man
when before all they were shown was the gruff exterior.
Alone in the privacy of his
office, Byakuya allows himself the faintest of smiles, because he took a chance
that day at the Academy. The first moment Shiba Kei appeared before him,
Byakuya knew. Kei had a weight to his
gaze, a wariness that no student—much less one from a noble family—should have
possessed. That black sword, those bright-sharp eyes, the familiarly immense
reiatsu no matter how it was choked off and chained—not even a student’s blues
or a quickly donned mask of emotion were enough to hide Kurosaki Ichigo from
his gaze, and Byakuya wonders at what fools his fellow shinigami are not to see
A knock at the door pulls him
from his contemplations and he opens his eyes, half-turning to look at the
intruder. His former lieutenant hovers there, wary and worried and quiet
clearly wound up in knots of agitation. Byakuya surveys him for a moment,
remembering that the Ninth had joined the Sixth’s patrol today, remembering
Ichigo’s mention of Lieutenant Hisagi, and nods to the other captain.
“Renji,” he says, and steps to
one side to make room in front of the window.
There’s a moment of hesitation
before Renji slinks into position next to him. “Thanks, Captain,” he says, and
Byakuya wonders how long it will take him to break the habit of that title.
They’re both of the same rank now, after all.
Byakuya inclines his head.
“Third Seat Akon of the Twelfth says that there were numerous strange energy
readings in the 54th District,” he says. “He had asked the squads to
Renji’s features are tight with
anxiety. “Yeah,” he answers roughly. “Said that those signatures started
multiplying a few hours ago, blocked out all trace of the squads. Kyoraku said
the Captain-Commander’ll give them a full six hours before sending out another
party, just in case they were simply delayed.”
That, at least, is news, and
Byakuya clenches his hands together until the knuckles strain. He has never
been one to argue with the Captain-Commander of the Gotei 13, but this is a
situation with known hostiles. While Byakuya is unfamiliar with Hisagi, he
knows very well that Kei would not delay their return without sending some sort
of message to explain the circumstances. But there has been no contact, no
sign, and that puts Byakuya on edge more than anything.
Kurosaki Ichigo was never a
friend—comrade, shield-brother, ally, but never friend. As Shiba Kei, Byakuya
would like to think that they are. He has little time for frivolities, and less
for useless emotion, but Kei knows his steps before he takes them, reads his
actions and expression regardless of whether they are in battle or Byakuya
simply desires a cup of tea. He is a good lieutenant, a good shinigami, and
Byakuya does not fear when he knows that Kei is following him, as ever three
steps behind and one to the side. Not a doormat, not afraid to argue, with a sense
of humor and a maturity that is rooted in loss, and Byakuya can respect all of
those things. Does, in fact, and it
is…amusing, that it is the upstart ryoka who can inspire such a thing in him of
Byakuya well remembers his
grandfather’s words, back when he was a child. Quick to anger and hotheaded, the man had said, and that is also
amusing, to think that he and Kurosaki Ichigo have such a thing in common.
“You’re worried,” Renji blurts
suddenly. Byakuya casts him a sideways glance but says nothing, and Renji
winces slightly. “I mean,” he hurries to add, “not that I didn’t think you
would be, but, ah, Shiba’s only been your lieutenant for…”
“A year and three months,”
Byakuya says, returning his gaze to the sky above the gate. “Do you think that
I would not have been so concerned had you been the one returning late from
That earns him another wince.
“No, I just—that’s not it. But you always seemed as if you disliked Kaien, and
you’ve never cared much for Kukaku or Ganju, and I thought—”
“Shiba Kei has proven himself a
capable lieutenant,” Byakuya interjects, before that foot can get lodged any
more firmly in Renji’s mouth. “He is also quite powerful, and keeps much of his
strength in reserve. If something has delayed him this much, it is very likely
to be the source of the attacks.”
Renji looks grim, and he knows
that the same has occurred to the Ninth’s captain. “Yeah,” he says. “Yeah.” A
pause, and then he adds abruptly, “I volunteered to go out after them, soon as
the Captain-Commander lets us.”
Byakuya nods, just once, and
keeps his eyes on the horizon. “As have I,” he murmurs, feeling the weight of
Senbonzakura at his side like a taunt, a promise of action just beyond his
“Fuck!” Ichigo ducks under a
bolt of green light, feels it scrape against the edges of his reiatsu, and
tucks forward into a roll that brings him right back up on his feet again,
still moving. Shuuhei is on his right, Kazeshini in shikai, and he turns as
they round an outcropping of rocks, the scythe spinning from his fingers.
There’s a spray of blood and one of their pursuers cries out, but the others
don’t even pause to see to him.
“What the hell happened to
teamwork?” Ichigo mutters with what little breath he can spare.
Shuuhei grunts an agreement,
stumbling. Ichigo catches his elbow and drags him on before he can fall, and he
bobs his head in thanks. “Mixed blessing,” he pants in return. “Not stopping to
help each other, but not helping each other against us, either.”
Ichigo concedes that much with a
huff, then shoves Shuuhei out of the way of another bolt of green. The older
lieutenant tumbles to the ground as Ichigo regains his footing and spins,
raising one hand. “Hado 58: Tenran!”
There’s a collective cry of
dismay and the enemies scatter, but it’s already too late. A whirling,
tornado-like blast of power shoots straight at them, hurling some away but
mostly spreading chaos. Ichigo takes the opportunity to lever Shuuhei to his
feet again and launch into his fastest shunpo, dragging his friend with him.
They land in a small hollow,
surrounded on all sides by stark-jagged rocks and small trickles of clear
water, and slump to the damp ground with shared relief.
“Damn,” Shuuhei mutters, quickly
tearing off the already trailing hem of his shihakusho and gingerly pressing it
against the freely bleeding gash over his ribs.
“Seconded,” Ichigo agrees
grimly, flexing his tingling fingers. They’re threatening to go numb, which is
just about the last thing they need. He suspects that the knife that winged him
was poisoned. “But why the hell are they trying to take prisoners now? Those other patrols—”
“Weren’t being led by
lieutenants,” Shuuhei reminds him, offering up another scrap of cloth. Ichigo
takes with a faint grimace and ties it around his upper arm. They don’t have
the reiatsu to spare for healing kido, even if one of them was good at it, which
they aren’t. “They took our squads as bait.”
“They’re morons,” Ichigo growls,
and for once he doesn’t give a flying fuck if this is a Kei reaction or not.
His squad is back there, trapped and helpless and being used for fuck knows
what, and Ichigo isn’t going to stand for it. Not one damn bit. Retreating to
regroup was bad enough.
Shuuhei is watching him with
serious grey eyes, equal parts determined and wary. “You specialize in kido,”
he says finally. “That spell they used to freeze the others…”
“Didn’t recognize it,” Ichigo
sighs, slumping back against the rocks, even as he keeps his senses alert for
sounds of pursuit. “Of course, it’s possible that one of them invented it. Not
unheard of, even if it is difficult.” He closes his eyes, flexing his fingers
again. “Damn. Damn. And it’ll take me time to break this goddamned barrier,
time we won’t have as soon as I start poking at it. Can’t break that kido
spell, either, without getting right up close to our squads, and I’m certain
they’ll have guards.”
Shuuhei hums in agreement, and
then says, “Still.”
“Still,” Ichigo agrees, opening
his eyes and offering the other man a crooked smile. He pushes to his feet,
offers Shuuhei a hand up. “Squads first?”
“You even have to ask?” Shuuhei
lets Ichigo pull him to his feet, expression set in stubborn lines. “If I give
you time, can you get them free?”
Ichigo grits his teeth, but
nods. “In theory, a stronger practitioner can always break through a weaker
practitioner’s spells. If I have to, I can just use brute force. But against
all of them, Shuuhei…”
Shuuhei smiles at him faintly,
not commenting on the use of his first name. “I’ll be fine, Kei,” he returns.
“Don’t underestimate Kazeshini, or me. Melee fighting is something we’re good
at. Focus on the kido.”
Before, Ichigo would have been
the melee fighter, leaving the spell-casting to someone else. But now, as Kei,
he’s good at it, enough that a far more experience lieutenant is trusting him
with it. He huffs out a breath and nods. In terms of brute strength, he’s got
more than enough for something like this, and he’ll use it even if it gives
something away. He always knew this charade wouldn’t last forever, and some
things are far more important than keeping up the act.
“Hopefully they’ll send out
reinforcements,” Shuuhei says, casting a glance in the direction of the
Ichigo shakes off the last of
his nerves, calls up the determination that let him face down a god, and bares
his teeth. “Let’s make sure there’s nothing for them to do when they get here,”
he offers, and Shuuhei matches his will with a steady stare and a grim nod.
“Let’s,” he agrees, and they
Shuuhei has always known, of course,
that there are shinigami who finish the Academy but never pass the entrance
exam for the Gotei 13 proper. They’re entirely trained and often skilled, and
some of those who fail are quickly taken on as bodyguards for noble families.
Others, it seem, become rogues.
They’re a ragtag group,
certainly, but far too powerful and numerous to write off as failed shinigami.
Shuuhei sidesteps a blast from one, mentally gauging her power, and it’s a bit
disheartening to conclude that she’s roughly on par with a seventh seat—not a
challenge to a lieutenant, of course, one on one, but that’s not the case here.
It’s twenty on one, and the sheer numbers will wear Shuuhei down before long,
even with Kazeshini released.
He twists to evade a
sword-strike, dodges another jet of green, and ducks under a halberd that skims
an inch closer to his skull than is entirely comfortable. Melee has never been
his best area—he’s better at single combat, where psychological attacks are
just as devastating and unbalancing as physical ones, but that isn’t the type
of tactic that will be useful here. With a flick of his wrists, he sends
Kazeshini out, both ends whirling in an impromptu barrier, and risks a glance
behind him at his companion.
Kei is crouched beside the
frozen figure of Shuuhei’s ninth seat, fingers of one hand weaving, lips moving
in what is either a kido chant or a mental deconstruction of the other spell. Then
a blast of green just missing his ear pulls his attention back, and he tries to
pinpoint the caster. If he can take out the main kido user—
A wordless cry of satisfaction
is accompanied by the sound of shattering stone, and Shuuhei doesn’t bother to
fight a grin. Figuring out how to break an unknown kido spell, in the midst of
a hectic and entirely outmatched battle, with all the odds against them, while
wounded and losing blood—Kei’s a genius, and if they get out of this in one
piece Shuuhei’ll kiss him square on the mouth. Fuck, the kid just became his
new favorite person.
Half a heartbeat later, Shuuhei
decides he likes him even more as green kido rebounds off an inverted pyramid
of light that bursts into existence around him. It fades a moment later, but then
Kei steps up to his side, already casting another barrier.
“It’s a power-drain,” he says,
eyes focused on the regrouping enemy. One of their own has been hit by that
strange spell, and Shuuhei can’t be anything but vindictively pleased. “It
freezes whoever gets hit in some sort of leech-stone shell and transfers all of
their power to those marked by the caster. Those civilians must have been
drained before they were killed, and now the bastards are moving up to actual
Shuuhei curses softly, and asks,
“Our people will survive?”
Kei nods. “They’re fine. I’ll
break the rest out and send the stronger officers to help you. Just keep from
The barrier shatters with a
sound like a struck gong and Kei flash-steps back to the field of statues
behind them. More stone breaks, and then more, and Shuuhei steels himself as
Foot soldiers, he thinks, even as Kazeshini reaps more lives, as he
binds and cuts and slashes and tears through their ranks, trying desperately to
give Kei the time he needs to free both squads. It’s a thought that’s guided by
blind instinct, and urged on by experience.
are foot soldiers. Where are the generals?
The 54th District is
little more than a collection of roads, a grassy, hilled expanse colored green
in the winter and dead-brown in the summer, with craggy pits of stone and
sudden drops to catch the unwary. Renji surveys the terrain, though it’s
covered by a shimmering barrier of silvery red light, and tries his best not to
grind his teeth. Bakudo, and one he’s not familiar with.
No wonder they haven’t been
getting any readings from the missing squads.
“Shit,” he mutters, rocking back
on his heels. He can’t see much past the shifting shine of the ward, but from
what he can make out the squads clearly aren’t camped out and waiting for them,
not that he really expected it to be that easy. Still, the universe giving him
a break once in a while would be nice.
From his left, a deathly soft
voice intones, “Scatter, Senbonzakura,” and before Renji can so much as twitch
out of the way a thousand petal-bright blades hurl themselves against the
barrier and rebound. He yelps and leaps back, but Byakuya’s control over his
zanpakuto is too good for collateral damage. The blades whirl away and rush
forward again, and then again, and again before Byakuya finally raises his hand
and calls them back. His sword reforms and he slides it away without a word,
face still completely calm.
It looks for all the world as
though that were entirely deliberate, when in truth it’s the closest Renji’s
ever seen Kuchiki Byakuya come to losing control.
He barely restrains himself from
gaping at his former captain. It’s little relief that Hitsugaya’s eyes are also
faintly wide, and Matsumoto looks entirely serious.
“Someone very skilled at kido
will be necessary,” Byakuya says flatly.
There’s a snort from behind him,
and Shiba Kei’s sister elbows him out of the way as she steps forward. “Good
thing you brought me, then,” she snaps. “Move it, kid.”
Steely grey eyes narrow, even as
the captain shifts to the side. “I do not recall inviting you along, much less
requesting your presence, Shiba-san,” Byakuya says, in a tone that for anyone
else would be a growl.
The Shiba matriarch levels him
with an entirely unimpressed stare. “You’re still just as much of a brat as you
used to be, Kuchiki,” she sniffs. “As if I’d leave a bunch of shinigami to
rescue my cute little otouto. Step
back. This might get messy.” With a fierce grin, she raises her left hand and
cries, “Shut tight the seven gates. Bind
the three storms and seed the five winds with chaos. Beyond the eighth sea,
fall to pieces. Bakudo 71: Shatterpoint!”
A crack like thunder fills the
air, followed by the sound of a vast pane of glass breaking, as white light
envelops the barrier. There’s a long, breathless moment where Renji doesn’t
know whether to curse or cheer and then it fades away like mist, taking the
barrier with it. He breathes out in relief, almost shaky with it, and Kukaku
lowers her hand, savage satisfaction on her face. Her green eyes are bright
with fury, and she unsheathes her katana as she strides forward.
It’s telling that Byakuya is the
first to fall into step with her, and that his hand is resting on the hilt of
his own sword. Shiba Kei seems to inspire loyalty the way Kurosaki Ichigo used
to, and it’s a little unnerving to watch. Renji follows them, because he’s
worried about Shuuhei, and he can’t do anything else.
And then a wave of released
reiatsu sweeps over all of them, nearly sending Matsumoto to her knees and
knocking Renji off balance. He tries to breathe, tries to move, and then—
The power cuts off as suddenly
as it appeared, and half a moment later a surge of figures in shinigami black
crest the hill and sweep down towards them, moving at a flat-out run. Behind
them—so many, all alive—come two more
at a slightly slower pace, leaning heavily on each other and splattered with
blood that belongs to more than just themselves. Renji barely pauses to
register the two dark heads bent together, the fact that his lieutenant has
Kazeshini out and in shikai and that even Shiba has his zanpakuto drawn, before
he’s sprinting towards them. His Ninth members acknowledge him as he passes,
smiles or weary nods or a rare salute, and Renji hears the Sixth’s members
greeting their captain as well. He manages a few pats on the shoulder, a quick
smile here and there, but most of his attention is on the two lieutenants.
“Captain,” Shuuhei says as he
nears, looking up with an exhausted half-smile. “You won’t believe what
happened to us.”
Renji shakes his head and ducks
forward, grabbing Shuuhei’s free arm and slinging it over his shoulder.
“Probably not,” he agrees, “seeing as you look like you just went through a
“Only a small one,” Shiba
mutters, sounding utterly drained, half a heartbeat before a red-and-white blur
all but tackles him to the ground. He takes the hit with a yelp, releasing
Shuuhei to grab his sister as she wraps herself around him for three seconds,
then pulls back, hauls off, and smacks him in the head.
“Idiot!” she bellows. “What the
hell were you thinking?” She smacks him again for good measure, grabs ahold of
his ear, and drags him back into another hug.
Renji and Shuuhei trade glances,
and the captain raises one brow. “I’m happy to see you, too,” he drawls. “But
sorry, I don’t think I’m that happy.”
Shuuhei snorts. “No worries. I
think I’ll survive you just helping me to the Fourth. The rest of the squad
should get checked out, too. A lot of them got their energy drained.”
“Drained?” Byakuya says sharply,
shifting his attention from where he’d been watching with amusement as his
lieutenant got chewed out by a woman five inches shorter and a good twenty
pounds lighter. “What do you mean?”
At that Shiba manages to drag
himself out of his sister’s clutches and face his captain. “A new kind of
restraining kido,” he explains. “It transfers energy, from what I could tell.”
“They’re shinigami,” Shuuhei
confirms wearily. “We found tracks and Kei identified their reiraku, but before
we could head back we were attacked. It’s my belief that they’re Academy
graduates who didn’t pass the test to enter the Gotei 13.”
Byakuya’s expression is grim,
and he turns on his heel to survey the land the squads just retreated from.
“Come,” he says. “Have the well carry the wounded if they cannot travel swiftly
enough. It is imperative that the Captain-Commander be told of this at once.”
Shuuhei and Shiba exchange
glances and then pull themselves upright, weary but determined. They’ve
obviously taken the brunt of the assault, and Renji feels ridiculously weak
right now, can’t help but think that he should have been there even though there have been similar patrols for weeks
that have never encountered any problems.
Captain’s prerogative, he
supposes, but nevertheless it fucking grates.