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long mornings and longer thoughts

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ALRIGHT. I am going to say this once. I hope I don’t have to repeat myself again.

It wasn’t very long ago (in fact it was just yesterday it happened) But I’m going to say it now in hopes that you guys would stop. 

I started this blog to make people feel happy. I did it because the musical makes me happy and also because cute things make people happy! And what’s cuter than pure baby forms of your favourite musical characters?

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Your Move

The nine times Simon and Baz prank each other and the one time they don’t

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10

March 31

Simon

In hindsight, I probably should have expected a trap right away, from the moment I heard the voice. High and light and familiar, and shrill with fear.  Agatha.

           I’m running towards the Wavering Wood before I can take too much time to think about when I’ve last seen Agatha.  If I’d been thinking, I would have remembered seeing her at lunch and in classes, and that she’d only gone back to her room after lunch to grab a book or something, not into the Wood.  But here I am, following her voice, summoning the Sword of Mages as I run.  Because what if?

           “Agatha, where are you?”

           “Simon!”

           “Where are you?”

           “Here!”

           I always thought that monster attacks only happened deep in the Wood, if you stumbled into a lair or something, not that they would seek people out, and not this close to the edge of the Wood.

           But apparently I’m wrong.  

           Because before I’m even four trees into the shadows, something explodes against the back of my head and I drop like a stone.

***

           When I come to I’m face-down in the dirt and something with deft fingers is securing the knots in the ropes around my wrists. I start to thrash and find my ankles bound as well, and I receive another smack in the head, which almost has me losing consciousness again.  I wait for the stars to pass from my vision and go still, even though every part of me wants to kick, fight, escape.  Instead I listen.

           Whatever has its foot on my back (at least I think it’s a foot) is human-shaped, but that is not to say that it is human.  It has long, spindly fingers that seem to shake as they tie.  It breathes loudly and quickly, like it’s in a hurry.  I hear a twig crack to my left, a little way off.  Something else is here.      

           “There you have it, then.”

           The voice is cool and familiar, and my heart sinks like a stone.

           “As you said,” comes another voice, this time from the creature on my back.  It’s gravelly and high like nails on glass.

           “I didn’t lie.”

           “You did.”

           “When?”

           “You said you required no payment,” the higher voice hisses like it’s smiling.

           “I stand by the statement.”

           “Then you’re either lying, or you’re a fool.”

           “A fool how?”

           “A fool to come here.”

           There’s a dull thud, and then the crunch of the leaves as the body hits the forest floor.  I want to turn my head and look, but I can’t reveal that I’m conscious.

           The harsh, loud breathing continues, this time scuttling around to my left, no doubt tying another set of wrists and ankles.

           Something crawls across my hands, maybe a spider, and I shake it off without thinking.

           I can actually feel it when the creature catches me moving.

           “Nighty-night,” it sings in Agatha’s voice before its foot connects with my head and everything goes black.

Baz

I don’t open my eyes right away when I wake up, my head aches too much.  Like there’s a needle from one temple through to the other.

           I feel something shift against my back there’s the stink of sweat and long-dead meat.  The air is cold and damp and for a minute I think I’m in the catacombs.

           Then I remember.

           I open my eyes slowly and to my relief there’s no blinding light to aggravate my headache.  I’m staring at my navel, and I’m in a sitting position, my back against something warm and solid.  Rope stings my wrists and when I lift my head I see it wrapped around my torso and ankles as well.  The ground around me is cold stone and scattered with bones and tiny, sharp rocks. Moisture trickles down the stone walls, patchy with moss and spider webs.

           A cave.  It’s brought me to its cave.

           And not just me.

           Snow shifts against my back again and I have to roll my eyes, even though it burns.  It tied us together.  Figures.

           “Waking up, are we?” comes the goblin’s rasping voice from behind me.  I don’t turn my head to look at it, I already know what it looks like.  Short, pale, gaunt and wide-eyed, with graying brown hair in a mess on the top of its head.  An old-looking suit that’s covered in mud and bits of dried-on… well, let’s just say that goblins aren’t elegant diners.

           “Let us go,” Snow growls at it, and I can picture his defiant glare.  It’s been directed at me more than once.  It’s actually kind of cute, if I weren’t so often on the receiving end, I’d turn to mush inside.  As it is, I can’t help but smile a little.  Stupid, brave Snow.  No wonder he’s the Mage’s Heir.

           “Why in the name of magic would I do that?” the goblin laughs.  “Look at me. Look at you.  You’re not just any old snack, are you?  You’re the Mage’s Heir.”

           “Which is exactly why you should let us go before you get hurt.”

           “You’re not going to kill me.”

           “That so?  Why not?”

           “Because I’m not going to kill you.”

           I can almost feel Snow balk in confusion.

           “Not yet, anyway.  I’ll say it again: you’re the Mage’s Heir,” the goblin goes on, “and do you know what happens to the lucky goblin who kills the Mage’s Heir?”

           Snow doesn’t say it out loud, but he knows.  I know.

           “So why wait until now to attack?” Snow questions.

           “Unfortunately, your little school has some pretty strong magical defenses.  I couldn’t get close enough until someone let me through.  You can thank your little friend for that.”

           I grit my teeth and don’t say anything.

           “Why not just kill us now, then?” Snow spits. “You’ve got us where you want us.”

           “Ah, but who would that convince?” the goblin chuckles.  “Anyone could claim to have killed you, and believe me, many have tried.  No, a simple claim won’t do.  You’re coming with me to the goblin court, where I will kill you, and your meddling friend, in front of many witnesses, and no one will be able to deny that I have killed the Mage’s Heir.”

           “And you’ll become the Goblin King,” Snow finishes.

           “As is my right.”

           “You won’t get away with it.”  I roll my eyes again at the cliché.

           “Spare me the theatrics,” the goblin groans and I hear the flick of a switchblade.  Snow cries out in pain and jerks back, his head hitting mine and my eyes explode again. A scent fills the air, familiar and terrifying.  Blood. His blood.

           It’s a good thing he can’t see me because my fangs pop instantly at the smell.

           Snow yells again and I don’t know what the goblin is doing to him but it’s making my stomach sick.

           “Stop,” I growl.

           Snow gives a gasp of pain and the smell of his blood grows stronger.

           “I said, stop.”  This time I shout.

Simon

The goblin stops, leaving me to pant away the sting of its knife in my shin.  My head is pounding from the many blows in the past half-hour (maybe more, I don’t know how long I was out after the kick) and blood trickles down my cheek to my neck.

           I don’t know if Baz is trembling against my back, or if it’s me doing the trembling.

           The goblin pockets the switchblade and turns its attentions on Baz, kneeling beside him and speaking close to his ear.

           “What’s wrong?” it sneers.  “Don’t like the smell?”  It drags a grimy finger across the cut on my cheek and waves my blood in Baz’s face.  I feel him go tense and still, like he’s holding his breath.

           “I’m surprised at you, boy,” the goblin continues, “weren’t you the one who set all this up?  And now you don’t want me to hurt him?”

           “Just leave him alone,” Baz seethes.

           “Make up your mind,” the goblin tells him.  “Or would you rather I paid you more attention?” There’s a crackle and I turn my head to see the tiny fireball the goblin has conjured in its hand.

           I’m feeling more and more sure that Baz is a vampire by the minute, because even though he’s obviously trying not to react, he shrinks back from the flame automatically.  If so much as a spark hits his skin…

           “Get away from him,” I spit at the creature, “it’s me you want.”

           “And it always has to be about you,” Baz pipes up, sarcastic to the last.

           The goblin stares at me for a long second before extinguishing the fireball in its fist and standing up again.

           “You boys will want to get some rest,” it says, “we’ll be leaving at sundown.”

Baz

Goblins are nocturnal creatures, and this one has been up pretty late in the day, so it doesn’t take long for the wretched thing to fall asleep.  Somehow it doesn’t look as peaceful in its sleep as Snow always does.

           “Alright Baz?” Snow whispers to me.

           “What the fuck are you asking me that for?”

           “Thought I’d try some compassion, since we’re in the same situation, but clearly it’s a waste of my time.  Fuck you.”

           “Likewise.”

           Silence.

           “Snow.”

           “What?”

           “Your move.”

           I feel him whip his head around.  “You have got to be joking.”

           “That would be nice, wouldn’t it?”

           “This is your idea of a practical joke?” he asks incredulously.  “Selling me out to a goblin?  And where does your own capture play into this brilliant plan?”

           “It doesn’t,” I admit, “I was going to kill it before it could do you any real harm.”    

           “Brilliant.”

           “I thought so.”

           “It’s not even your turn, you twat.”    

           “Thought I’d go for the element of surprise. Besides, you haven’t made your move yet today.”

           “Clearly you haven’t checked your closet yet.”

           My head drops forward and I sigh.  “Great.”

           “Don’t mention it.”

           “Seriously though, you’ve been slacking off.  Where were you on Monday?”

           He doesn’t answer.

           “Snow?”

           “I heard you.”

           “Well, then?”

           A defeated sigh.

           “You know those terrible nightmares you had that night?”

Simon

It takes a second for the penny to drop, but when it does it’s louder than a bomb.

           “Unbelievable.”

           “It wasn’t supposed to go that far.”

           “You cursed me into having nightmares?”  He sounds angry enough to burst into flames, which I’m not convinced he couldn’t actually do if he lost control.

           “It was an accident.”

           “So you just accidentally formulated a curse to attack me in my sleep.”

           “You were only supposed to have minor nightmares,” I insist, “not start yelling in terror.”

           “Sorry,” he snarls, “did I keep you up?”

           “That’s not what I mean.”

           “I cannot fucking believe you.”

           “You took my voice,” I shoot back, unable to keep the childish defensiveness out of my whisper.  “That’s practically unforgiveable.  And now you’ve almost gotten both of us killed, and you didn’t even know that I was responsible for the nightmares.”

           “The moment we’re out of this cave, you are dead.”

           “Shocking.”

           “So if you wanted me to have nightmares, why did you wake me up?  Why not just let me suffer?”

           “Because you were terrified, Baz,” I say like it should be obvious.  “You were crying out for your mum and it was awful.”

           He’s quiet for a second before replying. “What else was I calling out for?”

           Me.

           “Nothing.  You just kept saying ‘no’ a lot.”

           Baz lets out a long, shuddering sigh like everything he dreamt about is rushing back.  They must have been some of the worst nightmares of his life the way he’s reacting.

           I should have held him.  I should have comforted him.  I wanted to comfort him.  But I didn’t.  Because I was too proud.  I was too scared.

           I want to comfort him now, but we’re tied up. That and he’d probably vaporize me if I tried.

           “I’m sorry.”

           “What?”

           I take a deep breath.  “It was wrong of me to give you nightmares.  I should have known better, or I should have told you that it was me, I…” I’m almost too afraid to say it in a register that he’ll hear. “I’m sorry, Baz.”

           He’s quiet for a long time.

           “Baz?”

           “Don’t expect me to forgive you.”

           “I don’t.”

           Pause.

           “But thank you.”

           “For?”

           “Apologizing.”

           I breathe a sigh of relief.

Baz

“So,” Simon ventures after a heavy moment, “what now?”

           “We wait for the goblin to kill us.”

           “Yeah, right.”  I can practically hear his eye-roll.  “We need to get out of here.”

           “Any ideas?”

           “One.”

           “Let’s hear it.”

           “We’ll need to work together.”

           Now it’s my turn to roll my eyes.  “How inspiring, Snow, I thought you said you had a plan.”

           “Any plan we come up with is going to require teamwork,” he explains in a whisper.  “In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re literally tied to each other.”

           “I had noticed, thanks.”

           “So, we’ll have to work together to get out.”

           “You have a sword,” I reason, “can’t you use it to cut us free?”

           “I can’t summon it without spearing you,” he says, “it would appear in my hand, the blade would probably end up in your stomach.”

           Two birds with one stone, my mind supplies darkly, but I push the thought away. “Maybe I could burn through the ropes.”

           “Yeah, and send us both up in flame.  Great idea.”

           “Got anything better?”

           “Where’s your wand?”

           “Back pocket.”

           “Can you reach it?”

           “If I could, we’d already be out of here.”

           “If I can get it to you, could you spell the ropes off?”

           “Any chance to get your hands on my arse, eh Snow?”

           “Fuck off.”

           “Yes, I could spell the ropes off.”

           “Alright, what then?  Sneak out?”

           I cast a glance at the sleeping goblin. “Not until we deal with Goblin King over here.”

           “You have a plan?”

           A grin spreads across my face.  “Oh, I have a plan.”

Simon

Baz insists that I make a noisy show of escaping, to wake the goblin.  Why he would want to do that, I can’t imagine (he hasn’t told me all of the plan, which should probably make me suspicious), but he seems to be getting more excited about whatever he’s going to do by the second.  The smirk I’m so familiar with is glued to his face, but instead of making me feel sick, I’m buzzing like I’ve had too much sugar. Maybe because he’s not directing it at me this time, but sharing it with me.

           I have to wonder why we’ve never teamed up before.  Granted, we’re usually at each other’s throats, but something about this, the working together, the shaky alliance, is making me giddy.  I’m almost giggling as I throw the ropes to the cave floor.

           Baz has already disappeared from view as the goblin wakes up, turning to find me frozen on my way to the cave entrance.

           “Where do you think you’re going?” it sneers.

           “Goblins,” I shake my head, “you really are as stupid as they say.”

           The goblin pulls its blade from its pocket again, but doesn’t respond with any more than a growl.

           “You see,” I go on, “you were smart to take us both.”

           I can’t help but watch Baz as he appears behind the creature, silent as a wraith.

           “But you were a fool,” I grin, “to leave us both alive.”

           A flame appears in Baz’s hand.  In a flash he wraps an arm around the creature’s neck and shoves the fireball into its open mouth.

           Its eyes widen and steam pours out of its ears as the fireball takes the path of least resistance: right down the throat. The human illusion starts to disintegrate and I see flashes of the goblin’s true face, gray and leathery with red eyes and sagging, pointed ears.  It struggles but Baz holds on tight, until the thrashing stops and the goblin droops in his arms, and he drops it, limp and smoking, to the ground.

           He hasn’t looked away from me the entire time.

           I haven’t looked away from him.

Baz

It’s still light outside when we emerge from the cave, but we’re clearly much deeper into the Wood than before.  I don’t recognize anything.

           “Hang on, I’ll climb a tree and get our bearings,” I tell Simon.

           He gives me a quizzical look and unfurls his wings without a word.

           I shrug and take my place at the bottom of a tree.  “I bet I could still beat you.”

           “Come off it.”

           “You haven’t seen me climb a tree.”

           “And you haven’t seen me fly.”

           We stare each other down for a second, tasting this new dynamic.  Still rivalry, but different.  Less hateful, more fun.

           I leap into the tree without warning.

           I can see his eyes widen as he takes in my speed, and he kicks off the ground an instant later, but we reach the halfway point around the same time.  He beats me by seconds, perching at the top like a bird while I scramble to the branch below him.

           “See anything?” I ask, catching my breath.

           He scans for a moment before pointing behind us. “There’s Watford.  Not a bad view from here,” he says as I climb up a branch to meet his level, “we should climb trees more often.”

           I peer the few inches up at him, a strange expression on my face.  “We?”

           Simon meets my gaze suddenly, like he’s realized what he’s said.  “I, um… well, whatever,” he stammers.

           Is his face going red from flying?  Or from…

           I’m not used to looking up to meet his eyes, and he’s not usually framed by the pure white sky and the smell of pine and mountain air.

           I’m not used to him looking at me the way he is now.

Simon

I’m not used to being this close to Baz, or holding his gaze for this long, or letting down my guard with him, or seeing him framed by pine branches and treetops, or wanting to touch his hair…

Baz

There’s a fresh scar on his cheek from the goblin’s blade.

Simon

His hair is black again, and I still want to touch it.

Baz

His lips part slightly, and my heart stops entirely.

Simon

I don’t know what I’m doing.

But I lean in…

Baz

I’m just closing my eyes as the bough breaks beneath me and I fall through the branches.

Simon

He only falls about halfway down, but he hits just about every branch on the way.  I jump from my perch and dive after him, grabbing onto a limb where he stops his descent, groaning.

           “You alright?”

           “Perfect, thanks Snow.”

           We both climb the rest of the way down and head back towards the castle.  We don’t speak, and my head is still spinning with everything that’s just happened, not to mention what’s almost happened.

           “So,” I venture, “who’s turn is it again?”

           Baz shrugs.  “Tomorrow’s the first of April.”

           “I know.”

           We look at each other for a moment.

           “Fair game?” I suggest.

           He nods.  “Fair game.”

           We walk another few minutes in silence.

           “So, you’re not going to kill me for the nightmares then?”

           Baz shoots me a sideways glance, but he’s smiling. A real smile, not a sneer. Genuine.

           “Not today.”

She’s probably staring at her beautiful girlfriend, Luna, or deciding whether she will or will not bat-bogey hex you to the moon and back


(I’m probably going to do all characters - does anyone have suggestions for who I should do next?)

Your Move

The nine times Simon and Baz prank each other and the one time they don’t

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10

March 26

Simon

“So, how did you respond to the stone-scones?”

           I chuckle.  “It was a bit risky.”

           “What did you do, Simon?”

           “I wrapped my cross necklace around his wand.”

           Penny turns to me, wide-eyed.  “You did what?”

           “It’s no big deal, Pen.”

           “Simon, you acted on assumption that he’s a vampire,” she says in a hushed voice.  “If you’re right about that, which we still can’t be sure of, it means that you removed your only form of protection against him and put it into his hands.”

           “Yeah, but he can’t touch it,” I reason, “so it’s no good to him.”

           “You have it back now, right?”

           “Of course.”  It comes out a little indignant, even though I don’t mean it to.

           She shakes her head, returning to her book. “That still wasn’t a very smart move.”

           “I was in the room, it’s not like he could have attacked me.”

           Penny reads a few more lines, I see her eyes scanning back and forth, before looking back at me with a curious twinkle in her eye. “Did it work?”

           “Did what work?”

           “The necklace.”

           I shrug.  “He took it off bare-handed, and it didn’t look like it was burning him.”

           She looks thoughtful.  “Have you considered the possibility that you’ve been wrong this whole time?”

           “Of course I have,” I sigh, “but what if I’m not? You have to admit, Penny, there’s reason for me to be suspicious.”

           “He hasn’t retaliated yet?”

           I shake my head grimly, a touch of nervousness poking at my stomach.  “Not so far.”

           She raises an eyebrow.  “Keep your guard up.”

Keeping an eye out for Baz has become something of a habit since I met him, but today I’m even more jumpy than usual, scanning the hallways almost constantly.  It’s a little ridiculous, even for me.  I wonder if maybe he won’t fight back, if the cross really didn’t affect him, but then again this is Baz.  He’ll never pass up an opportunity to torment me.

           By the time I return to our room after our last class, my stomach has worked itself into knots.  I keep telling myself to stop it, but somehow the chance of Baz pulling something feels more imminent now that we have a… what even is this?  A game?  An agreement?  A series of mutually bad decisions?  A commitment to hate each other even more?

           He’s beaten me to the room of course, which makes me even more anxious.  He doesn’t look up from his phone as I kick off my shoes, casting a wary glance around the room.  Nothing seems out of place, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t cursed something again like he did with my plate.  When I move over toward the bathroom, my steps are light and slow.

           “Something wrong, Snow?” Baz pipes up, still staring down at his phone.

           “No,” I bluster, unable to come up with anything smarter on short notice.

           “Then why are you acting like there’s a monster under your bed?”

           “Funny, the only monster I see is on yours.”

           His eyes cut up to mine briefly, flashing annoyance, but he doesn’t respond beyond that.  I notice suddenly how tense my shoulders are and I give them a roll to loosen them.  I need to relax.  Quietly I take a deep breath and make for the bathroom.

           “I wouldn’t go in there, if I were you.”

           My hand freezes on the doorknob.  “Why not?”

           “I just wouldn’t.”

           I turn to glare at him.  “What did you do?” I growl.

           He’s actually looking at me now, his face cool and innocent.  “Who says I did anything?”

           “This isn’t funny, Baz.”

           “You’re right,” he nods, “it’s not, and neither was the salted tea or assuming I’m a vampire.”

           “Those were harmless.”

           He shrugs.  “Go ahead then, see what happens.  Or maybe I’m bluffing and there’s nothing to be afraid of.”

           I glare back for another moment, trying to read his expression, but his eyes don’t betray anything.  Slowly I turn the knob and push the door open a crack, peeking in cautiously.

           “What am I looking for here?” I mutter.  There doesn’t seem to be anything amiss, no rats in the sink, no roaches in the toilet, no spiders in the shower.  My reflection in the mirror is unaltered.

           “You tell me,” Baz muses in response.

           I shut the door again.  “You are bluffing, aren’t you?”

           He meets my eye evenly.  “You tell me,” he repeats.

           I let go of the doorknob and fold my arms across my chest.

           Or at least that’s what I try to do.

           Except that my hand is now welded to the knob.

           “What the-” I stutter as I try to pry my arm away, my skin smarting as bits of it rip off of the knob.  “Are you serious?”

           Baz stands, reaching into his pocket as he moves toward me.  A smirk sneaks into the corner of his mouth, and from his pocket he produces a tiny bottle of glue.  Extremely strong Normal glue, the kind people use to hold broken furniture together.

           Just as I’m registering what he’s done, he leans closer than I think I’ve ever been to him, his breath dusting my ear and sending a prickle across my neck.

           “Your move,” he murmurs, pocketing the glue and striding to the door.  I don’t follow, I can’t.  “See you at dinner,” he chuckles, halfway through the door, “assuming you make it down there.”  And then he’s gone.

I’m seeing a lot of young transgender or non-binary people out there freaking out or going completely silent and removing all their info from their bios in light of the recent news in America. And I get that, I really, truly do.

But I also want you guys to know that it’s safe to come talk to me if you’re feeling pressured or scared or angry or whatever you’re feeling. If you’re comfortable with talking to me, go for it. :)

Secondly, if you’ve spoken to me about your gender for whatever reason, and are feeling scared about someone else finding out or you being being outed for any reason, please know that I will never reveal anything we have spoken about, anything you have sent to me or asked me about (as an anon or not) to anyone. What we discuss is private, and unless you give me permission to respond publicly or speak about it to others, it will stay between us. Always.

2

kings rising ch16: nikandros is a bro pt 2 (pt 1)

ok but y'all

there is no way mickey isn’t gonna be in season 8. he has to at least have a cameo. and mickey and ians relationship is the main reason a lot people watch shameless which means if they get rid of it completely then they’ll most likely lose a lot of viewers and that’s the last thing a business wants. not to mention mickey is the most devoted person and he’ll always find a way to get ian. hell, he broke out of prison for him. i doubt a little inconvenience will keep ian away from mickey for longer than a season. i’m sure he’ll be back, guys. i really don’t feel that worried. if he’s not back by 8.10 we can panic.

people who act like tony stark has somehow been mistreated by the mcu frankly just baffle me

you guys, the entire franchise is centered around your fave and his decisions have been vindicated again and again

what do you want

4

I’m a screw up that is my genetic code.

                                      Well, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

anonymous asked:

Ima be that person and... Alright I'll leave you alone - tuckington?

“Did you know?”

Washington turns to see Tucker framed in the doorways, his hands curled into fists. The new armor he wears makes Washington feel automatically uneasy, to see the domed helmet of his friend Maine and his monstrous parter the Meta on someone else’s head. He dismisses the pair of foot soldiers he’d been lecturing and starts to walk off the field, slowly, expecting Tucker to follow.

“Did I know what?” he asks, though he has his suspicions.

“Epsilon’s plan to kill himself. Again.” Tucker is keeping up, his voice low and aimed to injure. “Did you know?”

“I didn’t,” he says.

“Would you have told me if he had?”

That one isn’t as easy to answer. And it doesn’t get any easier when Tucker grabs his shoulder and spins him around.

“I said,” and even though Washington knows that Tucker is’t really the Meta, he can clearly hear Omega through his voice, “would you have fucking told me?”

Off guard, Washington reverts to regulations. “If it was important, I–”

Tucker shoves him away and storms off; alarms are starting to go off in Washington’s brain, echos and parallels of the corrupting influence of the original AIs, and he all but jobs to catch up.

“Tucker, you know I’d never–”

“No, I don’t,” and his only warning is the buzz of the sword but its enough to jump back before he loses a limb. “I don’t know fuck all about what to expect from you anymore. Or anyone. You stupid,” Tucker’s voice cracks, and he spins to slash at the nearest object, a set of old Warthog tires that squeal and sizzle under the plasma blade, “fucking Freelancer pieces of shit. Both of you. All of you.”

“All right,” Washington says slowly, completely lost, “I’ll leave you alone for right now. I’ll come back a little later and we can–”

“No you won’t.”

Tucker plunges his blade one last time, as deep as he can, into the heap of molten rubber and kills the blade. His shoulders are shaking, and Washington sees the flash of multicolored AI hover at the back of his head; purple, then yellow and pale cyan. 

“You’ll never come back. I– we– nobody every comes back to Blue Team once they leave. We’re not worth it to them.”

“Church,” Washington breathes in the silence. “You’re not upset about Epsilon. You’re upset about losing Church.”

“Three times, man,” he says; fragile and fallible and yet still so goddamn strong. “Three times, he had a choice, and never once has he picked us.”

Washington approaches Tucker with caution, laying a hand gently on his shoulder and coaxing him away from the melting tires. “Have you let Grey check you out, yet?”

“Not that I know of, but who could resist these buns and thighs, huh?” It’s the first he’s sounded like himself since the end of the Hargrove mission, and Washington finds their fingers laced together as they walk. He can’t really say he doesn’t like it, either.

“Let’s go see how she’s doing, okay?”

“Okay, Washington,” Tucker says, and squeezes his hand.