edge condition

Harsh Realms Chapter 12: Thin Places, an once upon a time fanfic | FanFiction
Crime reporter, Emma Swan's star is on the rise. So when she is suddenly fired in a "corporate restructuring", she doesn't take it all that well. Cue the drinking. The daytime TV. The unexpected offer to man the phones of her brother's best friend's floundering PI firm. With rent past due, and options limited, Emma agrees. How hard could working for Killian Jones be? CS Modern AU.

12. Thin Places

To say Killian hadn’t been expecting her to just lay one on him, well, the way he froze up like carbonite beneath her fingers could have given that away. But the way he broke free from his momentary stupefaction with a frustrated groan against her lips, or the way his hand slid around her waist, pulling her against him? Well… that may have said something else. And the way he kissed her back?

Not really part of the plan. Though to call it a plan might have been a tad generous. A whim. An impulse. Whatever it was that had led Emma Swan to be sucking face with Killian Jones in his living room, holding onto the lapels of his jacket for dear life as they scooted backwards, Emma falling back onto the couch cushions, taking him down with her.

Killian Jones was a pretty orderly guy. Emma had seen the inside of his refrigerator, and someone had gotten a little too cozy with his label maker. This Killian didn’t kiss like an orderly guy. This Killian kissed like a man driven to the brink of sanity, his frustration fast giving way to lust. Oh yeah, there was plenty of that, if that bruising claim on her mouth was any indication. Men. Such hot-blooded creatures.

At least she’d gotten him to shut up.

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After all, the assertion that we ourselves, or the business of love, or the universe at large, or a religion (such as Islam or Christianity), are essentially cruel or essentially compassionate, essentially “nice” or essentially “not nice,” essentially peaceful or essentially violent, essentially optimistic or pessimistic, or essentially any one thing at all, is but an assertion—one whose pretension to certitude usually incites rather than terminates debate. Perhaps you could even call such an assertion a choice, albeit one mitigated by an amalgam of experience, education, genetic disposition, ideology, mood, chance, and will. But whatever it is, it cannot be an empirical measurement, or a verdict reached after all the evidence is in.

Freud knew this, which accounts for his ever-changing conjectures about the complex drives that propel and perplex the human animal. But that didn’t stop him from making radical pronouncements throughout his career on the human condition—pronouncements that have, over time, been isolated from their contexts and congealed for many into “fact,” as if their emanation from an entity named Freud miraculously stamped them with a lasting, objective authority. “Men are not gentle creatures who want to be loved,” Freud famously wrote in Civilization and Its Discontents (1930). “They are, on the contrary, creatures among whose instinctual endowments is to be reckoned a powerful share of aggressiveness. As a result, their neighbor is for them not only a potential helper or sexual object, but also someone who tempts them to satisfy their aggressiveness on him, to exploit his capacity for work without compensation, to use him sexually without his consent, to seize his possessions, to humiliate him, to cause him pain, to torture and to kill him.”

Men do these things, it is true. But men are also gentle creatures who want to be loved (see Hitler, nuzzling his cat). Due to Freud’s own revelatory, relentless emphasis on ambivalence, his life’s work, when taken together, ends up providing a portrait of the human animal that does more to explain “why we deplore cruelty in some cases and relish it in others” (see Richard Rorty) than that of almost any other thinker. The more compelling question becomes not “what” or “which” we essentially are, but why, how, and when we choose to believe that one aspect of the human condition edges out, invalidates, or annihilates another.

– Maggie Nelson


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I don’t even know what this is, but it is for feanorinleatherpants.

Um…Steve/Bucky not-too-distant-future psychic police force science-fiction AU? the first chapter of something I may or may not ever do more with? hurt/comfort? broken-psychic-Bucky? I don’t even know how to explain this, guys.



Steve’s cellphone goes off mid-meeting. It’s on vibrate, but he’s pretty sure everybody in the secret base of the day can hear it.

Director Fury turns a coolly judgmental eye his direction. Natasha, despite sitting beside him, somehow manages to kick the back of his ankle. Clint looks at Steve with a hopeful expression, as if Steve’s personal baggage’s going to get them all out of the mission briefing sooner.

Steve puts on his best innocent gosh-wow Captain America expression and under that a leave it alone narrowing of eyes. His personal baggage isn’t any of their business.

Except for how it kind of is. In the sense that it’s tried to kill most of the people in the room, or their grandparents, at one time or another.

His phone buzzes again. He sneaks his hand into his pocket to cradle it protectively. Bucky likely hasn’t expected the meeting to go this long. No one’s fault.

Well. Fury’s fault, if one wants to be accurate. This secret base is, yes, secret, and damn hard to find on time.

The remnants of Nick Fury’s SHIELD Force eye Steve and shuffle their feet. They all know it’s Bucky, but no one’s going to say it. No dragging Steve’s other half and tragedy and epic romance out into public scrutiny, at least not now, at least not when it’s entirely possible that the scrutiny’ll end in blood.

They’re under several feet of Washington D.C. and all sorts of technological blankets. It’s a hold-out bunker, a pitiful but courageous safe-house shred of what’d been the strongest psychic enforcement agency ever in existence. The Seers and the Shields, which Steve has ever since recruitment considered a stupid nickname because technically they all work for SHIELD Force. Helping the helpless, protecting the innocent, catching criminals. Major criminals. The serious ones.

Serious like the ones they’d failed to pick up, Alexander Pierce and Brock Rumlow and every other agent who’d insidiously been working to destabilize and conquer the world all along. They’re still reeling from the aftermath. Still trying to get back on track, to get back to protecting.

The dim lights of the bunker flicker in sympathy. Compassionate. Steve has to consciously relax his fingers so as not to crush his phone. Bucky’s gone silent.

Fury’s sending Natasha and her partner to Berlin. Something about Clint Seeing an assassination. Steve probably ought to be listening.

Bucky’s at home at their apartment, while Natasha and Clint and probably Fury also tactfully pretend they don’t know of his existence. Steve, since getting pulled out of remorseless ice and into this shiny new century, has been working without a partner, without the eyes to his hands, without coordination. Officially, that is.

Unofficially…that’s a different story.

Oh, Bucky, he thinks, and tries to surreptitiously accomplish a glance at the screen. Can’t be urgent; Bucky would’ve called, or just shown up, the way he had once in Tahiti, spiky with weapons and sharp-edged conditioning, systematically dismantling three cyborg assassins who’d learned the safe house’s location.

Fury dispatches Agent Coulson and his team to handle some sort of imminent man-made devastating earthquake in California. Scowls at Steve. “Am I boring you, Captain Rogers? I would hate to think the world’s only successful living super-soldier couldn’t sit through a briefing about currently active missions.”

“I am ninety-five,” Steve crackles right back, “and you’re taking too long, sir.”


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