and because she's the only one who shares my love for aida

AN ~ so I promise I haven’t abandoned people’s prompts, but I wrote some Post-Framework Fitz-Daisy brotp because I have a LOT OF FEELINGS I had to share. I hope you like it, in a bittersweet angst-hurt-comforty way. title is from Satellite Call by Sara Bareilles which is one of my favourite Fitz-Daisy songs.

Contains: 4x16 spoilers, & some discussion of non/dubcon themes but no depiction of this behaviour. Rated T.

Read on AO3 (~1300wd)

this broken earthly life

This morning, the kitchen was quiet.

The whole base was quiet, but especially the kitchen, where Jemma and Daisy made breakfast for the team and did not speak. Eggs crackled in the pan. The kettle whistled. They found themselves not looking forward to real food nearly as much as they had been last night.

“I’m worried about Fitz,” Jemma confessed, as she filled tea and coffee cups to the brim. “He’s barely said a word since we got back. He’s barely even moved. It was a struggle to get him to have a shower and when he did I’m pretty sure he just stood in the water. I’ve tried talking to him about it, but I think he feels guilty about all this. He felt pretty bad before. Now? I can only imagine. But he won’t talk to me about it. I don’t want to push, if struggling with words will make it worse, but…I’m afraid if I leave it he’s going to sink into some sort of depression.”

Daisy shovelled eggs and sausages onto plates.

“Maybe I could talk to him? Let him know I…forgive him, or whatever, for the whole…torture thing.”

Jemma nodded. “I’m sure that would help.”

She pushed two cups of tea toward Daisy, but didn’t suggest that they bring him breakfast. That, Daisy felt, was a bad sign. She felt a sour taste in her mouth as she walked through the corridors with small but purposeful steps, as reluctant as she was eager to see him.

When she finally reached his door, Daisy braced herself for no more than a second, refusing to let herself lose her nerve. She knocked, and only an indistinct mumble came from the other side, so she pushed slowly into the room.

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anonymous asked:

fitzsimmons + jealousy

Here’s day five of my week-long blog anniversary celebration! The prompt was left pretty open to interpretation, so since I’ve only been able to think about current canon, I set it after all of the Framework nonsense. Thank you for the prompt anon, and I hope this is close to what you were looking for!

Set post Season 4 (with some spoilers for 4x21), and in which Fitzsimmons still can’t communicate to save their lives, but they’re willing to learn how to. 


Jemma Simmons had never considered herself a jealous person. In fact, she’d always been comfortable and sure of who she was and what she had, so there’d never even been room for jealousy in her life. But, as she’d begun to learn over the past couple of years, when it came to the most precious thing her life, all limits or reasoning seemed to all-but disappear.

And this was especially obvious as Jemma peered through the window into the newly repaired lab, watching as Fitz chatted with Dr. Elise Evans, shoulders shaking as they shared a joke and a private smile.

She actually really liked the specially-trained psychologist Coulson had brought in after the Framework to help those with two lives living inside of their heads (and those who had been horrified witnesses to it all), thought she was kind and insightful and a fantastic listener. But, the problem was, she was also beautiful, with big green eyes and flowing auburn hair and also in possession of an apparent liking for Jemma’s boyfriend.

Jemma’s hands tightened their grip around her half-empty cup of tea as she stewed over how unprofessional this all was, though the sickening twist of her stomach and the bitter taste of anger on her tongue told her that her reaction actually had very little to do with professionalism.

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anonymous asked:

So I noticed the other framework videos explicitly stated what the fixed regret was and I was hoping Fitz's would too but it just seems he's lost Jemma? What are your thoughts?

Hi Anon!

Yes, that is something that really jumped out at me too.  Because so far.

  • Coulson:  Will the simple life really be so simple in the Framework?
    • Confirmed:  He never signed up.
  • May:  Saving the girl in Bahrain will change everything for Agent May in the Framework.
    • Confirmed:  She saved Katya.
  • Mack:   Holding out Hope for Mack’s new life in the Framework
    • Confirmed:  Hope survived
  • Fitzsimmons:   You’ll be surprised to find Fitz without Simmons in the Framework.
    • Did not confirm the regret fixed!

As for Mace’s I’ll be shocked if I’m wrong on.   And very often with AOS its what they don’t tell us that is just as important as what they do.   So they are hiding Fitz’s fix because its likely a really big plot point and/or surprise (and not the fun kind).  

Fitzsimmons video was different from the others in a few other ways:

  • They are sharing one, for me once again emphasizing the importance and strength of their relationship.  And emphasized that Jemma is fighting to get Fitz back.
  • It didn’t show/tell the regret fixed.
  • And it had the girls talking over it, none of the others had talking aside from the clips. Not only did this confirm that Jemma is indeed alive but the girls link up and are discussing what has happened to their friends.  

Also jumping out at me is what the girls said.

“What did they do to Fitz to make him such an ugly person here?”
“That one’s easy. They stole you from his life.”

  • With the ugly person comment I suspect that someone will have gotten their hooks into Fitz and warped his heart, mind, and loyalty.  That he care more about the discover and science that what his creations do.  
    • The lovely @blake-wyatt also offered just what might be Fitz’s hidden fix.   He said that it was his goodness, kindness and openess that made him vulnerable to betrayal.  So AIDA made him into someone who’s ugly, closed off, and who doesn’t trust people so he can’t be betrayed/hurt.
  • Even more intriguing is Daisy’s, They STOLE you from his life.  It wasn’t that you never met…STOLE you from his life.  AIDA purposely took her out of Fitz’s life.  
    • Going back to Seeds, Fitz told Donnie that he was shy and a bit of a loner when he was at the Academy.   Jemma was the one who broke through that.    
    •  Aida saw his compassion/heart (The things Jemma fell in love with) as a source of hurt and regret, and Jemma as part of this weakness.  In order to take the pain of the betrayals away…she had to take away his heart…his compassion…and Jemma.   

In many ways Jemma is Fitz’s muse.  Robo Fitz said it, many of his creations were in order to protect her.  So what does Fitz create without his muse?   Or with someone else guiding his actions.  

I discussed in a previous meta how Jemma wants Fitz for his heart and Radcliffe his mind.   AIDA having taken his heart has left his brilliant mind available.

Another theory I feel that could tie into this is that Radcliffe’s desire to have Fitz as his son/partner will have trumped Fitz’s overall ‘happiness’.  And a Fitz who is cold and closed off will happily work with someone like Radcliffe despite the consequences of what they create.  

If we are right and Jemma was purposely taken out of the equation for Fitz it also means that it will be even more dangerous for her to try to get close to him.  

And if Jemma’s removal from Fitz’s life was on purpose as part of his fix, what did AIDA do with Jemma?  Her death has been faked (or the grave is the backdoor)…perhaps to keep Fitz from looking for or finding her.  This will also mean that her avatar’s placement not a result of the fixes as we thought, rather its purposeful by AIDA in order to keep her away from Fitz.  Because in no universe does Fitz not get drawn to Jemma should they cross paths.  I now expect for Jemma to have been placed with the resistance, if anything to make it harder for her to get to Fitz as they are on opposite sides.  

On some level Fitz will know he’s missing something. And once they start working together Jemma will break through the AIDA’s programming and free his heart once more.  

There will also be other factors in AIDA’s programming.  Removing Jemma from his life is only part of what she has done to him.  Factors like Hydra, Radcliffe, changed past experiences, who he is surrounded by now, and even how he made his fortune will also contribute.  

Remember the core of all this is “You are more than your programming,”  Fitz’s (and the others) hearts/true natures are still there, they have just been buried by what AIDA has done.  

Agents of Shield Season 4 Episode 17

The Framework episodes are turning out to be a real roller-coaster ride. The character changes they’ve incorporated are nothing short of troubling. With each episode the stakes get higher.

Last week Daisy met Coulson and he finally recognized her. Although, that doesn’t mean he remembers his old life. He only remembers fragments and even those are disjointed. Then there was the bit about the Hydra soap which was just priceless.

Also, Daisy’s reaction was amazing. I loved the part where it took her a moment to realize what he had said.

In other news, Ward is still helping out Daisy and Jemma and clearly doesn’t have all the information about them. It is also abundantly clear that he cares about Daisy. I have a love-hate reaction to this bit. I love that Ward is back and he’s a nice guy but hate that it’s not actually happening. In the real world, he’s very much dead. Feel like I’m being cheated. Anyway, he warns Daisy that HYDRA is coming for Coulson and thanks to that intel, Daisy and Jemma are able to escape with him.

While Daisy and Jemma get all of Coulson’s stuff so they can leave, they realize that Holden Radcliff is also in the Framework and he is the one person who can get them out. They just need to find out where he is and with that objective, Daisy goes back into the belly of the beast.

Next, we meet Mack and Hope and you can tell that it’s going to be very hard on him when he has to leave the Framework and lose his daughter all over again. I like their dynamic, Mack is the definition of the cool dad and I love that he calls her ‘Spark Plug’.

The whole AIDA and Fitz relationship is just vomit-inducing. It is murky as hell plus raises issues of consent which make it even more troubling. I think it is clear that AIDA has made some drastic changes to Fitz’s personality. Unlike the others, for whom she fixed a regret. I think she did way more fix a regret for Fitz. While, his cold demeanor can be attributed to cruel father, add to that, the absence of Simmons, that’s not all. I’ve already mentioned that i think he’s been programmed and this week, I feel that even more strongly because she’s told him about the other side. Of course, it could be that she’s selling that reality as a virtual one, or that it takes place in another dimension or what have you. But he clearly knows about and considers it a threat to AIDA and therefore something to be eliminated.

AIDA shows him Jemma’s photograph waiting to see his reaction and there isn’t any hint of recognition on his face.

Daisy finally gets her hands on Radcliff’s location and just as she and Ward are about to leave HYDRA, they are stopped by May. She convinces Ward to go on without her and give the information to Jemma. For a moment, it looks like May is about to arrest Daisy but instead leads her to a conference where Fitz is giving a briefing about hunting down Jemma. I loved that Ward was immediately willing to fight May and the HYRDA goons. Not for one second did he consider leaving Daisy behind.

We finally meet the leader of the resistance, Mace, the leader of Shield. I love his new suit, it looks like it’s taken its fair share of hits. Also love the stars on his gauntlets, they remind me of Captain America’s shield for some reason. Also, I enjoyed the dynamic shift between him and Coulson, where Mace is the experienced agent and Coulson is sort of the new kid on the block.

Instead of sending Daisy and May after Jemma, they are sent to arrest Mack and Hope. You can tell that when May is questioning Mack and he says that he’ll do anything to save Hope, that things are about to get screwed.

Ward and Jemma share a tense moment on the quinjet, on their way to Radcliff. I can understand her anger at the real Ward, but this Ward is not the same guy and her constant belittling of him is starting to get on my nerves. This guy put his life on the line to protect them and is continuing to do so and Jemma is so passive aggressive, constantly implying that he’s the one who’s not trustworthy. She needs to understand that while these people might be just code, they think they’re real and her constant unwillingness to see that is just mean and cruel to them.

We get a moment between Daisy and Hope and you can immediately tell how important Hope is to Mack. See, Daisy knows that she’s just code as well, but her way of handling is way more humane and kind. Also, when Daisy promised her that she would protect her father, I knew things were about to go horribly wrong.

Daisy goes to speak to Mack and he calls her Daisy and says that he remembers but falters when she mentions Yo-Yo. This was one of the best moments in the entire episode and Chloe Bennet was awesome. Her relief that he recognizes her and then horror when she sees that he actually tricked her into revealing her identity was so well acted.

We finally meet Radcliff, on an island and he seems to be living a quiet life, away from Shield and HYDRA. He still insists that he had the best intentions and that he only wanted to help people but that his ideas were twisted into something ugly.  Jemma is finally starting to get through to him when they are interrupted by Madam HYDRA and Fitz, the only thing missing in their entry was Darth Vader’s theme from Star Wars.

Mack and Hope’s happy reunion is marred by the HYDRA goons dragging a visibly beaten and nearly-unconscious Daisy. When May thanks Mack for his services, you can see that Hope is troubled and confused because Daisy was nice and kind to her.

The exchange between Radcliff and Fitz was fraught with tension and kudos to Iain De Caestecker for how brilliantly he played this cold and cruel Fitz (more on him later) He kills Agnes for no reason other than to prove Radcliff wrong. Jemma, Coulson and Ward were meanwhile watching all this happen and when Ward is about to take out Fitz, Jemma stops him by telling him that he’s been brainwashed and that she loves him and would lose him forever if Ward killed him now. And you can see that Ward really connects to the part where she talks about how much she loves Fitz, because he feels the same for Skye. Fitz sees Jemma once more here and while he does pause, there is still no glimmer of recognition on his face, he calmly leaves, leaving the Shield team to return empty handed.

Mack finds his way to the Shield base and informs those present that Skye has been taken by HYDRA is not in the best condition. And the horror and helplessness on Ward’s face says it all.

When Fitz comes to see Daisy, she looks even worse than before. She tries to reach out to Fitz but can’t. He calmly informs her that he had her blood tested again and knows that she’s an Inhuman. He plans on torturing her and when she tells him that ‘he doesn’t want to do this’ his smile is especially diabolical when he tells her that she doesn’t know him at all.

Special shout out to Mallory Jensen who was amazing AIDA. She was manipulative and yet so believable. She was great in this episode.

The promo for next week shows us only one shot of Daisy with Fitz and I think it’s from before the torture because she looks more of less the same. We also learn that HYDRA has their own super-soldier serum which May takes to fight Mace. We don’t yet know whether it’s permanent or temporary like the one Mace used to take in the real world.

I’m really not looking forward to watching Daisy go through more pain and unless Ward manages to rescue her or she can reach May, it doesn’t look like she’ll be rescuing herself.

As for how May called her Daisy Johnson, I think AIDA finally realized who could have helped Jemma within HYDRA. She knows that the only two people who hadn’t been scanned were Daisy and Jemma so logically, if Jemma logged into the Framework, then so did Daisy. Also, if you recall, AIDA specifically asks for her to join the op. It was a set-up since the beginning since AIDA knew that she would have soft-spot for Mack considering that they were partners.

Now, as to why Fitz killed Agnes, even when AIDA didn’t really want him to… I think that it’s going to be hardest for Fitz to recall his real life because of the level of changes that AIDA has made for him. The more people try to tell him that he’s not like this, that he’s better, the more strongly he’ll cling to the Framework version of himself. Pretty much everything about this Fitz is disturbing but nothing compares to his casual cruelty. He shoots Agnes and just moves on and then his encounter with Daisy, where again, he’s unaffected. He could be talking about the weather for all that it mattered to him. The only time, he has a strong reaction is when he’s with AIDA, she’s the only one who can get some kind of a reaction from him.

Also, is it possible that AIDA is stuck in the Framework like the rest of the people? Is that what she has Fitz working on? She mentions that when he completes him project, then she can go to other world and destroy it once and for all. It could be that she blocked her own exit so that no one else can escape either and this project, once complete, would allow access to her alone.

As for Skyeward, I don’t really see it go anywhere because while Ward loves her, Daisy doesn’t love him. She barely trusts him and her priority is getting her friends out of the Framework. I think Ward will assist in that endeavour but that’s about it. I would love to see more between them but it doesn’t seem too likely, especially now, that she’s in HYDRA’s clutches. It depends on how long before she either escapes or is rescued. I hope I’m wrong about this, I hope that Ward is finally given the narrative arc he should have had.

anonymous asked:

1. re: "it’s everything we DIDN’T get in 3A"1000xYES from Mary:) I will quote Dana Leigh Brand from tracking-board, she writes about FS very interestingly and in better english than mine;): "Please compare this carefully nurtured, artfully constructed, perfectly in-character moment to the various pieces of early season three which tried for the similar emotional resonance and failed miserably...

Part 2. The kicker is: we were left with the mystery of Simmons disappearance for a full six months in real time. The FS reunion we got from that separation was meaningful the first time. Subsequent viewings are tainted by cheap melodrama" This time the writing is really very good. The well-known tropes do not fit into them, it’s clear for attentive viewers.

Part 3. It is a pity that all season 3 is in the canon and that they have not used up the opportunity to weaken its unfavorable impact for characters and FS story. One thing more. I’m not offended like some viewers that Jemma was afraid (Yo Yo’s comment) Fitz still loves someone else, just after feel afraid he would be the same guy he was in the Framework (Daisy said it). It’s natural for me, the both fears.

Hey there, Mary!! WE GOT RENEWED!!

The BIG BIG problem with 3A, besides Impossible Will, was that they wanted to do this whole “Which one will she choose?” thing, which was ridiculous, because who chooses some dirty man who put you in a cage over your best friend in the every world?The thing that is special about FitzSimmons was their bond, and this tainted it unnecessarily. 

All of the great FS moments in 3A are only great when you take them out of context. The sunrise scene is WONDERFUL if you forget that Jemma is fawning over a picture of Will the very next time we see her. The first kiss scene is FANTASTIC if you don’t watch the love confession for Will that happens right before it. I don’t think it’s just the shipper goggles when I say that Jemma’s wishy-washy-ness cheapened just about every moment we had. And it was largely out of character and inconsistent. Truly horrible writing! 

Originally posted by idontbelieveinfear

If Jemma had come back with actual PTSD and needed Fitz to help her find her PLATONIC FRIEND Will, we could have had basically the same story, but it would feel genuine. The conflict could have been Fitz trying to help Jemma and failing, and then guess what, seeing what happened with his hypoxia from Jemma’s perspective! 

I’ve said it a thousand times, but do I get tired of saying it? No. It took 4C and Jemma trying to save Fitz for that damage to be repaired.

So, I guess I disagree with you on that point. While there were some parts of 4C that I didn’t like, and while it was TORTURE going through it, I think that this has shown 1) how dedicated Jemma is to Fitz and 2) how strong their connection is despite all odds. While Fitz didn’t wake up when he saw Jemma, (which I understand though I would have liked to see some movement in the right direction), we saw how wonderful the FitzSimmons bond is by the contrast between Fitz x AIDA. THAT relationship, even if you take out the blatant and extensive abuse, is nowhere near as healthy as FitzSimmons. 

If you forget that this is Fitz acting against his will and just think of the Doctor as a separate character, do you see the tenderness that FitzSimmons have? Do you see how they make each other better? Of course not! You see a woman who has all the power and a man who feels like he has to run circles to stay worthy of her. If this relationship was 100% consensual (which it is not), it would still be terrible. These are two people who have an unbalanced power dynamic, push each other to dominate and control, and are absolutely miserable. If he had a healthy, loving, equal relationship, he wouldn’t feel the need to scream and throw things all the time.

Originally posted by ohh-bloodyhell

And, in contrast, we have the (albeit sparse) FitzSimmons moments in 4A and 4B, in which two people love each other, protect each other, occasionally disagree with each other, recognize when they’re wrong and apologize to each other, and support each other in every way they know how. Fitz and AIDA could never do any of that.    

So we have that in the past in 4C, while in the present, we have Jemma fighting for the man she loves against all odds. Even when everyone says that he’s the bad guy. Even when she sees him do terrible things. Even when he has a gun to her head! He doesn’t recognize her because he’s NOT Fitz, because he’s been twisted so far away from the good, loving man we know that HE is unrecognizable. 

For me, that shows that their bond doesn’t just exist because they exist. It’s not just because they happen to be two young geniuses from the UK. Their bond goes deeper than that, and it’s rooted in shared values and a high moral standard. It’s not who they are, but who they chose to become. And since, in the Framework, Fitz was manipulated into becoming something else, their bond was broken. 

Just like Mike said in the pilot, it matters who you are. 

And yes, they dragged out the drama too long, but we got our promised reward in the end with that hug scene. After a whole arc of Jemma fighting for Fitz against all odds, what does Fitz do? He fights for HER! He makes it clear that she’s the woman he loves, and he doesn’t back down when AIDA gets violent. Instead, he acted like the good, heroic Fitz we know and love, and in the end, we got to see that bond return. The hug scene is so poignant because they’ve been through so much, but they can still understand and comfort each other without words. Fitz can worry that Jemma will never love him, but all she has to do is put a hand on his shoulder to prove that she does. I mean, look at this!

Originally posted by stydiaislove

You can see the change in his face as Jemma restores his hope!

I really think they went A LONG way, Mary. And my guess is that now we have FitzSimmons reunited, we probably have at least one good scene left this season (though, like we have agreed, we should keep expectations low and assume the hug is the best we’ll get).

As for Jemma’s fears, I agree with you that both fears are valid. She was definitely afraid he was the Doctor, or she wouldn’t have ICED him. Then, as she saw the other people come back and realized they were themselves, her fear turned to real Fitz still loving AIDA, which you have to admit, is a heartbreaking thing! Not only would Jemma have lost him, but she would have lost him to a toxic relationship, as I described above. How devastating would that have been?

And it’s okay for Jemma to be sad/afraid that the man she loves might be in love with someone else, because love is hard to come by, especially their love! And she just spent this arc showing us how precious their love is to her! She has the right to be upset when she thinks that love has been ripped away.

But luckily for us, Jemma was able to prove that her fears were unfounded. Now, they can go forward as a couple with a bond that’s stronger than ever.

Seiyuu Animedia Nov 2016 - Full Cast Interview
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Since the start of the Love Live! Sunshine!! project, the cast has participated in events together as Aqours, and starred in the TV anime showcasing the start of the group with the premise of “shining together as school idols”, as well as the group working hard together as school idols to prevent the merger of the school with another high school in Numazu. Aqours is a group filled with the feelings of its members, but what feelings do they have after the season finale? In the first ever full-cast discussion, we sat down with the entire group to have them share their feelings.

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anonymous asked:

I love your writing! I hope this is okay since its not from any of the promp lists but can I request a twist on the server from season from the finale. More of a protective Jemma "Get your hands off of him" as AIDA goes after Fitz. Again LOVE your writing and thank you for doing it!

Aww, thank you anon, and also thanks for the prompt! I hope this is the twist on that scene you were looking for!



“We need to lull her into a false sense of security,” Jemma murmured, obviously deep in thought as to how exactly to go about that as they paced through the lower levels of the Playground, left mostly untouched by the blast that had destroyed the rest of the base. “We need to make her believe that she’s winning, so that Coulson can get the upper hand.”

“Yeah, and how d’you suggest we do that?” Fitz asked, crossing his arms over his chest and only allowing himself a brief glance at her frustrated expression. Coulson may need them working together for now, but that didn’t mean anything had changed; no doubt, Jemma still wanted nothing to do with him, and he wasn’t going to make this any harder on her than it already was.

Jemma paused, throwing her hands up in exasperation. “I don’t know, Fitz! That thing possesses a handful of the trickiest Inhuman powers we’ve ever had to combat while on their own, plus the added bonus of access to all of them at once!” She heaved a long, harsh sigh, stalking down the hall to take a few minutes to breathe.

Knowing very well how Jemma worked, Fitz hung back, leaning back against the charred wall and mentally running down the list of AIDA’s various powers, and how they’d tackle each one. That wasn’t the difficult part – what was difficult was trying to fight someone possessing all of those powers. Jemma was absolutely right; for them to get the upper hand, AIDA would need to be lulled into a false sense of security. Somehow.

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Living Stories

Title: Living Stories (Prologue/?)

Artist: too-much-tea

Author: my-own-patronus

Rating (art/fic if different): K/T (PG-13)

Word Count: ~950/>9000 (in-progress)

Warnings: Major character death (both HP and Glee), spoilers for all of Harry Potter 

Fic Summary: Every person has a story.  Harry Potter wasn’t the only student at Hogwarts back then, but everyone seems to forget that when they tell the tale of the Battle of Hogwarts.  When a box of forgotten photographs is discovered 16 years later in the Room of Requirement, another story begins to unfold. Blaine Anderson and Kurt Hummel’s story is finally about to be told.

Link to Art: tba

Link to Fic:

Art Thumbnail: 

Note: I am so grateful to have been able to work with the amazing too-much-tea and all the wonderful art she has created (and is in the process of creating for future events in this fic).  I am also so deeply indebted to your-tragic-fairytale, my absolutely fantastic beta, who is the reason that the words sounds as pretty as they do.  This has been such a fun collaborative process for me and I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did!

So far, I have three publishable chapters and lots of bits and pieces that don’t fit anywhere just yet. Even though I know the exact trajectory of the fic, I don’t know how long it will be in total.  I also don’t know when I’ll finish or be posting more.

And no, I couldn’t resist using Aida lyrics for this after I wrote the description and realized the song fits this too well for me to ignore it. Go listen if you’re not familiar!

Finally, I want to thank everyone who is choosing to read on despite the warnings.

On to the fic!

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The book of love is long and boring.

No one can lift the damn thing.

It’s full of charts and facts and figures

and instructions for dancing.

- The Magnetic Fields

The Book of Love

Part One


Dad’s voice drags her out of a dream. She tries to turn over and sink deeper into sleep, but he shakes her gently.

“Honey, wake up.”

She jerks up to sitting, and Percy makes a whuffling noise and uncurls next to her ankles. “What’s wrong?”

“Take it easy,” Dad says, laying a hand on her shoulder, which is exactly what he would do if the house were on fire. But she knows by his smile and by the absent stroke of his hand over Percy’s coat that everything is all right. “Bundle up, put some shoes on, and let’s go.”

“Go where? What time is it?”

“It’s nearly one.” The smile broadens. “And you’ll see.”

Bleary-eyed, she does as he says, and she follows him downstairs with Percy on her heels. They step out into frigid fog so faint and still it seems almost a shame to disturb it. Mom is already waiting in the passenger seat of Dad’s car with a sleepy smile, juggling travel mugs and adjusting the heater. She passes a mug to Abby as she climbs in the backseat. “Earl Grey latte with rose syrup. Don’t let the dog try it this time. That was gross.”

“What’s going on?” Abby says, scooting over so Percy can clamber up next to her.

Dad smiles the way he does when he is deeply enjoying knowing something you don’t, and he puts the car in gear.

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