Warnings: smudge of angst, reference to PTSD, teeth rotting fluff
Summary: There’s a nostaliga shop on the corner of Third and Maple that Bucky goes in for more than just the memories.
On the corner of Third and Maple there was a small shop just a bit classier than a hole-in-the-wall and only a fraction larger. The building was a comforting one, built out of brick that had seen it all. Nestled in between the modern sharpness of grey concrete from the bank and the endearing stucco of the neighborly Cuban restaurant, was Yesteryear.
tbh I’m v mad about this update. just ughh my phone and lighting wasn’t working with me so all the photos are faded and blurry. and overall it seems so messy ugh i’m seriously thinking of replacing the pictures if i can get better shots later i’m lazy af so that change is 0.5% lmao. ugh… i just.. wish i could get a proper scanner or smth
happy birthday to our wonderful maknae! a small writing for him <3
synopsis: down the rabbit hole you go, where you meet a boy who has already created a home for himself there.
genre: fantasy/fluff, slight angst
word count: 2,996
a/n: this was a PAIN to finish, oy but im glad i did! sorry if the ending feels a little rushed, and it’s not 100% beta-ed, but i hope this works, i had this started from a while back. happy birthday, chan!
Summary: Jon tries to get himself together. Rhaegar and Sansa bond. Jon walks in on something he really wishes he hadn’t seen.
A/N: Given the scenario in this chapter.. Rhaegar in this story (unlike another fic of mine) is intended to be a good and upstanding citizen of Westeros and a good father and gaurdian to Sansa. So don’t read too much into things bc that’s not how it was intended. K enjoy!
Zeus: The rumbling of thunder in the middle of the day. A hot sunny day suddenly devoured by rolling clouds and the feel of a cool breeze indicating the arrival of a storm. The first droplets of rain falling upon your face, bringing strong humidity afterwards, and with it the return of the sun once more.
Chalchihuitlicue: The glistening of a river, lake, of stream by the midday sun. The bounty of creatures attracted to a body of water by a drive to survive. The shrill yet consistent cawing of seagull colonies flying above a brilliant blue ocean and perching and nesting on rocky cliffs. The sounds of rolling waves smashing against rocks compared to the daily resurgence of the calm tide at the mercy of the of the force of the moon. Nightfall brings with it the croaking of frogs, barely visible in the reeds by the riverside, and footprints in the sand washed away by the tide, memories dragged into the sea.
Dionysus: Teens sneaking out of their parents house to attend late night summer parties at their friends houses. Innocence, curiosity, and excitement in the faces of those teens as the wine is brought out. Parents recording their children’s performance in a quaint summer camp play. A pastor preaches ecstatically about their religion as they sweat in their suits, and a group of fans squeals wildly at a concert performed at by one of their favorite stars. A mother who has finally put her baby down for a nap, raiding a hiding spot for her bottle of “special juice”, which turns out to be wine, or a group of friends kicking off their shoes after a long, hard day at work and pouring some wine for each other, getting drunk and forgetting their worries of the world for just one night.
Chang'e: Finding the perfect summer night to go stargazing. Celebrating that the hot summer day has now turned into a cool summer night. Gazing up at the clear summer night sky, feeling so empty yet so full at the same time. Staying up all night to celebrate the summer solstice aka the longest day of the year. Tracking the movement of the moon night after night and watching out for meteor showers. Taking moments to just enjoy the moon, and the calm night that comes with it.
Ra: The heat of the sun beating down on you on a sweltering and muggy summer day and beads of sweat rolling down your face. Flip-flops smacking against pavement on the days where the heat disposes of the need for shoes. The shadows cast around you, reflections of the movement of the sun through the sky. The feeling of the sun burning your arm, put up to protect your eyes from it’s harsh glare. Watching the beauty of a sunset from a high altitude, and smiling, knowing that the sun will come up tomorrow.
Aphrodite: Girls strolling upon a boardwalk, dressed in pretty and colorful sundresses made of floaty fabrics and bodies adorned with shiny jewelry. Brightly painted lips that part to reveal smiles as the girls giggle at a joke one of them told. Women of all ages, shapes, and sizes finding the courage to wear their bikinis to the beach or the pool on the first day of summer. Stolen kisses in the midst of night, and the chuckles of mischievous teens going skinny dipping in a nearby lake. Dates held at carnivals where hilarity is bound to ensue. The sharing of cotton candy and frightful screams of terrifying rides lost to the night, and one individual finally gathering up the courage to kiss the other at the top of the ferris wheel. Wild thoughts and rash decisions made in the name of love, that may or may not lead to regret in the fall. Trivial activities leading to the realization that summer will come to an end eventually, and then followed by the thought to enjoy it the best you can, for life is meant to be savoured, and so is love.
Anansi: Swatting off flies on a sticky summer day. Mosquito nets put up and screen doors being closed, protection from their constant biting. Itchy bumps and visible redness brought on by the relentless bites of various insects and arachnids. Spiderwebs flowing in the summer breeze, the unfortunate corpses of their prey left to rot in the hot summer air. Spiders of various shapes and sizes crawling up buildings and nesting in cracks and crevices, protection from the summer heat.
Demeter: Rolling fields of yellow grain, and tall green stalks of corn that seem to lose you in their cornfields. The sweat of farmers in faded denim overalls with rolled up sleeves toiling in the summer heat, harvesting their crops, and the shadows cast by their wide brimmed straw hats. Sinking your teeth into a soft roll of handmade bread prepared from the harvested grains while the elderly joyfully recount memories and life stories over freshly brewed beer, toasting to more memories to come.
Agni: The crackling sounds of dry wood burning in a campfire, sparks visible in the air, the small flame illuminating the night sky. The sounds of laughter as friends and family swarm around a neighborhood bonfire. The visible smoke from a forest fire ignited by the sparks of a small, unkempt flame. The savory scent brought on by the roasting of s'mores around a flame. The glowing embers of a dying fire and the ashes that are left afterwards, a symbol of what was once there.
Hermes: Familial dysfunction occurring during an hours long road trip. Poorly read maps and a malfunctioning GPS system. Little children crying over stolen toys. The hum of the wind and hair whipped around by it, caused by a car speeding down a highway. The sound of a lone car driving down an empty road. The crossing of state lines and the miles recounted. Postcards sent and received recounting tales of places visited and vacationed to. The sound of a car engine starting up once again, signalling a readiness for adventure.
Loki: Raucous laughter caused by a very audible joke. The sneaky giggles of friends planning a prank on another. Gasps of shock as someone is “accidentally” shoved into a pool. Playing with the gags at the jokes section of a toy store. Rolling your eyes at crude, unfunny, and/or distasteful joke. Mysteriously initiated water balloon fights that lead to everyone getting soaked. Clutching your sides and gasping for breath as your eyes tear up due to a joke that for some reason you found really funny. Getting cheered up by a friend who knows how to make you smile when you’re down. Remembering the importance of comedy through all the seriousness in the world, and knowing that sometimes, you just have to laugh.
Persephone: Walking through a field of flowers, all in full bloom, watching the butterflies, bees, and other pollinators flutter around, performing their built in duties. An odd couple sits under a tree to avoid the harshness of the summer sun, an imperfectly perfect match. Spending an hour plucking fresh flowers for your crush, inhaling their lovely scent beforehand and afterwards. Basking in the sun, flowers all around you, for summer is here, and it should be cherished for it will eventually come to an end.
It’s exactly how it sounds, tall skyscrapers peaking high over dull ash coloured roads with gloomy storm clouds covering the sky like a blanket. The city rarely saw the sun, it was rarely able to feel it’s warmth bathe across the grass or paint shadows on the sides of houses. But one thing the city knew well was rain. Tiny droplets of liquid that drizzled from the clouds, splashing against printed car windows and bouncing off the streets.
Everyone carried an umbrella with them in the city of rain. Everyone but you, who was rushing to work in the rainy weather of early morning. Tiny yelps of sorry’s and excuse me’s left your lips though you hardly meant them as you weaved through crowds of people to get to your destination. After entering the building you gave your head a shake feeling tiny specs of water fly from your hair.
“How many times do you need to get soaked before you bring an umbrella?” Your eyes skipped upwards to meet the friendly face in front of you. A young man with sparkly eyes and neatly combed hair. In his hand was a cup of tea which he handed to you with a smile. “I guess I’ll never learn Joshua.” Your job wasn’t very exciting, at least in your opinion. Every time something major struck out in the city your boss sent you to the scene with a notepad and pen to collect information.
Then you came back and typed up a report for him to publish. That was it. That’s all you did. The only things that ever happened in your rainy city were convenience store robberies and murders. Most of the time you could hardly get any information so you had to expand the truth a little in your reports. Taking a sip of the tea you enjoyed the warmth it installed in your cold body as you followed Joshua into the office of your boss.
“Welcome, welcome, my two greatest reporters on the team!” You quickly exchanged an uneasy glance with Joshua while your boss used his chubby fingers to grab another cigarette to light. “Sometimes I think you two are the only reliable people I have working for me so today I’m sending you off on something big. I want you to go down to Churchill Cemetery and check things out. A few bodies have turned up missing from their graves along with other strange occurrences.”
Churchill Cemetery was usually a very quiet place, not many people ever visited the graves to even pay their respects. Right next to the cemetery’s edge was a forest filled with nothing but tall prickly pine trees and twisting roots jutting out of the ground. You couldn’t say you were shocked to hear that bodies had been disappearing though. “Okay, we’ll check it out.” Joshua turned to you with a nod as your boss puffed out a cloud of grey smoke. “Sounds good to me.”
At the cemetery gate you met with an old man named Albert. His pale wrinkled skin hardly seemed to cling to his face while his eyes were a dull greyish colour. His faded overalls were caked with mud as a shovel hung loosely in his grip. He looked after the Churchill Cemetery, cutting the grass and plucking the weeds that grew around the grave stones. “Is it okay if we examine a few things?” Joshua asked as he pulled out a notepad. Albert responded with a nod of his head.
“These are the graves that have been dug up.” Albert beckoned to the two head stones beside each other, clumps of dirt now turned to muck tossed up and scattered all over the grass. “They belonged to two sisters who died in a car crash just over two weeks ago. Mary and Kate Stewart.” Your pen scribbled across the expanse of the notepad along with Joshua as you drew a quick sketch of the scene.
The crime in the city was horridly high, different deaths every week or new criminals emerging from the shadows. The police were very useless, doing almost nothing against it and leaving the citizens to protect themselves. It was saddening but there was nothing you could do. “Is it okay if we look for a little while longer?” Albert welcomed you to look for as long as you like so you did, collecting information and the tiniest details alongside Joshua.
“Wanna know something?” The young man randomly said while he squatted down to run his fingertip through the dirt. With a nonchalant shrug of your shoulders you flipped the page of your notepad. “Why not?”
“This city is dubbed as the city of rain but it’s also dubbed as Urbem Lamia which means city of vampires in Latin.” (omfg I’m so smart right?)
You gave your eyes a roll at Joshua’s words. He always babbles about these random things that never make any sense so you usually dismiss them. “They say this city is a main attraction for vampires because there’s hardly any sunlight and with all the deserted parts of the city it makes the perfect place for them to hide. Also haven’t you noticed that most of the graveyards are close to forests? Easy access to bodies for their thirsty little fangs.”
“Wouldn’t they prefer fresh blood?”
“Whatever blood they can get their hands on.”
Tossing away Joshua’s little fantasy you began to close up the examination session. Flashing your wrist in front of your gaze you check the time. It’s 11 o'clock and you got here around 9 or so. About 2 solid hours of searching and pointless information that wouldn’t lead anywhere but a news article fluttering along in the breeze, long forgotten. You adjust the straps of your rain jacket as Joshua pulls out an umbrella seeing as thunder could be heard in the distance.
“We should say goodbye to Albert.” Though you didn’t know the little old man very well it was at least kind to announce your leave and thank him for letting you stay awhile. Your dirty rain boots sloshed through pools of muck and slick grass as you huddle close to Joshua under the umbrella. However it seemed as though Albert had disappeared, his faded yellow overalls and ripped fishing hat nowhere to be seen.
That it until Joshua caught him staring into the line of pine trees that marked the forests edge. The amount of grave stones began to lessen until only a few dotted here and there, Alberts shovel propped up against one of them. He didn’t seem to detect your approach, in fact his body seemed still as stone. Exchanging a glance with your partner you slowly break away from him and stand next to Albert.
You followed his strained gaze into the forest, slowly pivoting your head with your lips pressed together. For some reason you could feel the thump of your heart beating inside your chest like you were about to experience the jump scare of a life time. But instead you see nothing, absolutely nothing but the branches of pine trees bobbing in the rough breeze. Just as you reach out to place your hand on Alberts shoulder Joshua is beside you his eyes wide as he squints into the woods.
“Did you just see that?”
“That glint just then, behind that tree trunk. It was like a tiny flash of light.”
Suddenly Albert snapped to his senses like he had just woke up from a coma. He quickly stares between you and Joshua before taking a few steps back and reaching out for his shovel. “You are finished with the examination?” He questions like nothing had happened. Instead you ignore his question asking one of your own. “Why were you staring into the trees?” Joshua is by your side again, pulling the umbrella over your head as a few drops of rain splash on your skin.
“Just looking at a squirrel that’s all. If your work here is done then I should be going back to the shed. Have a nice day.” Just like that, Albert scuttles away weaving his path through the gravestones like he’d been here his whole life. Shrugging your shoulders you tug Joshua away from the tree line and out to the road but not before spearing one glance back into the row of pine trees. And at that moment your heart stops for you swear you saw a face between the trunks.
Finally you finish writing the report. Scooting backwards in your office chair you approach the printer and watch in satisfaction as clean crisp pages of papers slip out. Gathering them up you hurry towards the office of your boss. Giving a few hard knocks you wait until his raspy voice is heard from the other side. The moment you enter the stench of cigarette smoke hits your nose and fills your lungs. You almost drop your report as you cough into the side of your elbow.
“I thought you were trying to quit smoking.” You huff, your voice strained against the poisonous air. Your boss burns out the end of his smoke, tossing it carelessly in the trash before shooting you an apologetic glance. “It’s not easy you know.” Setting the papers down on his desk you push them in his direction noticing the empty pack of cigarettes next to the stapler. His eyes brighten at the sight as he quickly reaches into his desk and pulls out a wad of cash.
“You are absolutely brilliant! I can always count on you to go above my expectations. For all your hard work, here’s a tiny reward.” Your eyes widen as your boss slips off the elastic around the money and pushes off some of the cash. “Where did you get all that?” You exclaim in shock always thinking your boss blew his money on all the cigarette packs laying around his office. “I know some people. It’s 150 dollars, spend it wisely.” As much as you wanted to seem humble and selfless you were quite the opposite.
Money was tight and you could hardly afford your apartment. You would take what you could get. Swiping the cash off the table you give your boss an appreciative nod and thank him for his generosity. On the way out of his office something catches your eye in the corner of his shelf. A photo of a crowd of people standing in front of a building. You had passed his shelf many times, not caring about his baseball trophies or little antiques that had stories worth a thousand words. But this photo was new and it captured your curiosity.
“New photo?” You ask as your boss rises from his chair and walks beside you. With his arms folded behind his back he releases a long sigh. “It’s a photo of the day this business was opened. Almost 40 years ago. That building is the one you’re currently standing in.” Carefully you reach for the frame looking at your boss for permission before taking a closer look. You notice your boss with his arm around a young mans shoulder, a proud smile on his face. Also one thing you noticed was their shadows. It was sunny the day the photo was taken.
“Who’s this?” You point to the young man as your boss takes the photo into his own chubby fingers. He examines it closely before smacking his lips. “Of course! This is Albert, Albert Stewart.” You almost choke on your spit in surprise, not expecting to hear that name. “Is that the Albert that works at the Churchill Cemetery?” The same proud smile from the photo appears on his face, creases gathering by the sides of his eyes. “It sure is.”
“But the two girls who disappeared from the cemetery Joshua and I examined the other day, their last names were Stewart.” You squeezed your fists while probing your mind for a conclusion. “Is he their father?” Your boss was no longer at your side, instead he was opening another pack of cigarettes. “Albert never had any kids, they could be his brothers perhaps.” Your mind began to ache at all the possibilities.
You realized it was better to dismiss the situation seeing more than half the mysteries is this city were never solved anyways. Taking one last glance at the photo and then at the cash stuffed in your pocket you announce your leave. “Urbem Lamia.” Your fingers pause as they wrap around the doorknob, your face turning hollow. “What?”
“It’s just something Albert would say whenever it was sunny. He would go I guess we’re aren’t the Ubrem Lamia today. Never knew what it meant, never asked. He was always a strange fellow.”
“Indeed.” You reply quickly before rushing out the door. After snatching your jacket off the hook you begin to walk home, focusing on the watery sidewalks with the streetlights reflected in them. Cars sped by along the streets, a cool spray of water following in their path as it dampened your skin. However an uneasy feeling had settled inside your gut and it followed you all the way home.
The sun will come out tomorrow,
Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there’ll be sun,
Just thinkin’ about tomorrow,
Clears away the cobwebs and the sorrow,
When I’m stuck with a day that’s grey and lonely,
I just stick my chin up with a grin and say,
The sun will come out tomorrow.
What a depressing day to be replaying the song from Annie, it’s lyrics stuck clearly in your head until you sang it without even thinking about it. You leaned back in your chair inside the small café, a swirl of steam brewing up from your coffee. The sky was dark and gloomy like usual with the expressionless faces of the cities people strutting by. You poked at your late breakfast with your fingers until you peeled away the muffins wrapper and tossed it on the plate taking a big bite and hardly chewing before your swallowed.
“Careful or you might choke.” Your eyes met with Joshua’s sparkly ones as he entered the café with some coins in his palm. Taking a swig from your coffee you give him a scrunched up face as a reply in which he laughs with his little eye smile. Joshua also purchases a late breakfast, sitting down across from you with his jacket sliding down his arms. Taking a bite from his bagel he gazes out the window, the people reflected in his glossy eyes.
“I didn’t sleep well last night.” You tell him while fiddling with your fingers. “Did you know Albert from the cemetery use to work for our boss when he first started his business?” Joshua cocked an eyebrow as he devoured his bagel obviously hungry. After wiping his mouth with the napkin he shook his head. “I didn’t know, how did you figure it out?”
“Just a conversation with him when I stopped by his office last night. Who knows what else he’s hiding.” A soft chuckle escapes Joshua’s lip as he leans back in his chair. “Yeah I’m sure he’s hiding a lot.” You give Joshua an eye roll for his sarcastic tone while finishing your coffee, enjoying the last of its flavour before it’s gone. “You know that stupid Urbem Lamia thing you were talking about, Albert use to mention how the city would lose that title on sunny days.”
“Well obviously, vampires don’t like the sun so they’d hide away.” Pressing your lips together you give your head a shake. Vampires don’t exist, it’s just a bunch of wives tales. As you both clean up your table in the café you slip out onto the streets and head back to work. Break was nice but staying cooped up in a tiny office cubicle seemed so much better. Just before you enter the buildings front entrance you notice Joshua’s fingers freeze around the handle.
Glancing over at him you notice how he reads over a text on his phone with a worried expression, his fingertips turning white from squeezing the case too hard. You nudge his shoulder asking him if everything was alright which is when he turns to you with a puzzled but depressed expression. “Going back to the topic of Albert,” a pause as Joshua glances once more at his phone screen, “he’s been murdered.”
Alberts body was discovered at around 6am by his wife, who came to investigate the cemetery when he didn’t come home from work. The whole area was plastered with caution tape as there were police officers not only at Alberts shed but also around the area where the bodies were missing. You stiffened next to Joshua as officers walked in and out of the shed trying to seem like they had a clue what they were doing. The same uneasiness pooled into your stomach when you noticed your boss pull up in his dark blue truck, his wife stepping out beside him.
The officers wouldn’t let anyone past the caution tape until your boss approached, letting him hop over to check out the scene. His wife waited by the truck, her body wrapped in an expensive fur coat while her eyes were covered by an extra large pair of shades. You follow Joshua over to the place where your boss had slipped past uttering an I’m with him to get by. Chills crept down your spine as you approach the shed an officer talking quietly with your boss.
There laying in his own pool of dried blood was Albert, his eyes now a milky white colour with his skin looking sickly pale. You swallow thickly upon taking in the sight a churning feeling developing in your stomach. A loud yelp sounds behind you as you turn your head catching sight of an old women being ushered to sit down on a wobbly bench. You guessed it was his wife from the way she dabbed a white cloth at her cheeks and the gold ring on her finger. “Joshua this is terrible.” You mutter while stepping out of the shed.
“I know, he seemed like a nice guy.” As your fingers rake through your messy hair you find yourself blowing out a huff of annoyance. Annoyance at how everyone around here seemed to be getting picked off like flies. You feel Joshua’s arm lounge around your shoulders to comfort you when a quiet conversation between two officers capture your attention. Focusing in on the sounds of their hushed voices you find it hard to believe their words.
“There’s two tiny holes on the side of his neck, almost covered by his shirt. It’s like a bite mark.”
“You think it was an animal?”
“Maybe, it’s hard to tell what happened to him or how he bled out like that.”
Though you wanted to listen further, a sharp breeze down the back of your neck snapped you away. Joshua glanced at you in surprise when you whipped around but it was you who was now glancing in surprise at the face you met. A young man, maybe around your age with a playful smirk on his flower pink lips. His skin was a smooth milky colour with jet black hair that perfectly framed his mischievous features. Your gaze fell across his sharp jawline and exposed collarbones that rested under his skin.
But what caught you the most was his beautiful shimmering eyes. Though they were a dark chocolate brown they held a mysterious glint that had shivers prickling along your skin. His stare was bold and had your body feeling as cold as ice. “Were you a friend of Alberts?” His voice had your cheeks flushing a scarlet red, so calm and smooth. A voice you could listen to all day. Swallowing dryly you try to form a sentence but Joshua beats you to it.
“We chatted with him a few times. Just coming to check things out. Sad things had to end this way for him.” Joshua’s face was blank and expressionless as he spoke but you took note of his fidgety fingers telling you he was nervous. “Did you know him?” You ask your voice sounding tiny and quiet. The young man eyes moved slowly from Joshua to you, once again paralyzing you with his stare. A chuckle falls from his pretty lips as the glint flashes in his eyes.
“How could I not? Most of these bodies weren’t buried by him you know.” A still silence hung in the air, the sounds of people’s rushed discussion being carried away by the wind. “You helped Albert bury bodies?” Joshua questioned with a raised eyebrow as though he didn’t believe the young mans words.
“You think I’m lying?” His head cocked to the side as he took a step forward causing you to flush with panic. He may have been a handsome sight but he was as equally intimidating. Grabbing a hold of the fabric on Joshua’s coat you drag him back slightly. “We believe you.” You giggle nervously while you feel Joshua stiffen beside you at the fact you would surrender so easily. However you weren’t taking any chances with this mysterious stranger.
“Relax, you look like I’m going to hurt you.” His smooth voice flows through your ears and you almost wish you could block it out. He slowly approaches you and and Joshua with an out stretched palm a crooked smirk painted on his lips. “I’m Jun.” He announces proudly while waiting for one of you to return the gesture. “Joshua.” You observe as they share a firm hand shake holding one another’s gazes as though they were stalking prey.
Questioning whether or not a crime scene was the right place to be making friends with someone you reluctantly shook his hand but found yourself biting your lip to hold back a tiny gasp. Though his skin was soft it was also shockingly cold, like shaking hands with an ice cube.
Giving him a tiny smile you shrink under his steady stare while giving your name. “Your heart is beating like a drum. Why so nervous?” Jun pulls away while rolling up the sleeves on his loose black jacket, his eyes scanning up and down your body.
“I’m not nervous I guess just a little all over the place because of what happened.”
Jun tugged his lower lip between this teeth before brushing past you and Joshua. “Don’t worry, the sun will come out tomorrow.”
A/N; Vampire Jun for everyone:) pls pray for me I am weak when it comes to this boy anyways I’m hoping to turn this into a short series and I hope you enjoy it^^
ope. that's awkward. i just picked a number lmao Stony 47 work?
47: Meeting at a festival
MCU AU where the Avengers never happened and Pepper and Tony never started dating, but otherwise it’s mostly the same.
Steve wasn’t entirely sure what he was expecting when a SHIELD agent turned up at his front door, but it wasn’t this.
“Orders,” she said briskly, but with a definite air of something Steve would later positively identify as glee.
Her name is Natasha Something Eastern European if Steve remembers their brief introduction from some weeks ago correctly. “Boss says you need to be acclimated. I’m here to acclimate you.”
She was in civilian clothes; a brown leather jacket, red and white striped t-shirt, faded denim waist overalls and black boots with heels that must have been at least three inches high. Steve may have been a super soldier, but he knew he’d still break his neck if he ever tried that.
“Acclimate me to what, exactly?”
She grinned at him, toothy and a little mocking, as if she were going to goad him out of his quarters and into the twenty-first century. “Life.” She pulled a folded piece of paper from the pocket of her jacket and holds it out.
He stared at it for at least thirty seconds, looking for some clue that maybe this is a coded message. “The Annual NYC LGBTQA Pride and Awareness Festival?”
“I don’t know what that is,” he said.
“That’s why you should go,” she said, plucking the paper out of his unresisting hands. “Because that’s something you should know in this day and age.”
The more he thinks on it, the more he’s half-certain he’s heard that string of letters somewhere before. Since SHIELD is still blocking his access to TV and the radio – as well censoring his newspapers and completely prohibiting him from something called the Internet which he had been repeatedly and condescending assured he wasn’t ready for – he supposes it must be some military or government agency that hadn’t existed in his day. “Why are we starting with this?”
She shrugged, long red hair spilling over her shoulders in a riotous tumble of curls. It’s the least subtle hairstyle he’s ever seen on a spy in his admittedly short experience. He’s also fairly certain it’s fake since he saw her as a blond with a pixie cut when he first woke up. “Well, hell, Cap. You gotta start somewhere and this is today.” She rolled her eyes. “Or we could sit quietly in your room and talk about the current presidential candidates over a nice PB&J sandwich like the elderly spinsters we are.”
He may have been mostly dead for seventy years and trapped in a time he doesn’t recognize, but Steve is only slightly dismayed to find that he’s still a sucker for an I dare you even when it’s unspoken and issued by a pretty dame.
LGBTQA is not a government agency.
“Huh,” Steve said, eyeing the massive crowd. A lot of people wore rainbow-colored beads, or scarves – hats, shirts, bracelets – some wore elaborate costumes made of leather, lace or feathers. Or all three. Some had signs with messages or slogans – all friendly, he noted, though they’d seen some less encouraging ones as they approached. A lot of people had facepaint on their cheeks or the back of their hands, three stripes of various color combinations that he hadn’t managed to decipher yet, though many of them matched flags he could see flying through the crowd. He stuck to the edge of the street, habit making him want the buildings at his back in a strange crowd. “This is nice.”
Natasha snapped her gum, a trick Steve hasn’t seen since Bucky did it as a kid to annoy his sister. “Not the reaction I was expecting, to be honest.”
“We had homosexuals in the 1940s,” Steve said dryly. “And the thirties and the twenties. You know who didn’t like homosexuals? Hitler.”
Natasha threw her head back and laughed. “All right, fair enough. If anyone gets to use the Hitler card, I guess it’s you.”
“Card?” he asked but something had caught her attention.
There was a man in a suit a few feet away, wearing the visor-like sun shades that everyone seemed to like these days and stabbing at one of the touch-screen phones that Fury didn’t know Steve knew how to use. He looked like he was completely ignoring the woman with him, which was a goddamn shame because she was beautiful and smiling at him like he’d done something very right. The woman looked up, saw Natasha rocketing toward them on her ridiculous boots, and darted forward to greet her on even more ill-advised pencil-thin heels. She had to be six-feet-tall in her bare feet. In the heels she was taller than Steve.
“Natalie,” the woman said with a sweet voice and a mocking smile and Natasha heaved an exaggerated sigh.
“I was working,” she said in a loud voice, but that didn’t stop her from giving the woman a quick hug. “God, hold a grudge. Tony’s forgiven me already hasn’t he?”
“I had you banned from all my buildings,” the man said, peering at Natasha over the rim of his shades. His eyes were a stunning shade of blue and his smile – which, while decidedly shit-eating was still absolutely gorgeous – made something flare briefly in the pit of Steve’s stomach. He was wearing face-paint as well, three bars on his left cheek. Bright pink, vivid purple, brilliant blue.
“Stab a guy once,” Natasha said. “What, are you slumming with the plebes?”
“Excuse you,” the man said, pressing one hand against his chest in obviously feigned insult. “I was invited. I gave a speech.”
“Was it adults-only?” Natasha asked and the man laughed.
The woman ignored them both and turned to Steve. “I’m Pepper Potts. I assume you’re safe to introduce myself to since Natasha isn’t pretending not to know us.”
“I was working,” Natasha said again in a loud voice while the man with her burst out laughing.
“I just met her today, so how safe she is seems to be up for debate,” Steve said. He took Pepper’s hand in a firm, business-like shake while Natasha scowled at both of them. “Steve Rogers.”
“Tony Stark.” The man held his out for Steve to shake and gave Natasha a narrow-eyed stare. “Steve Rogers, huh? Clone, time-traveler or LMD?”
“Cryogenic hybernation,” Natasha said. She snapped her gum and grinned. “Fury says if anyone asks you figured it out yourself.”
“I did figure it out myself, it’s not like he’s wearing a fucking sign.” Tony gave Steve a once-over, still absently shaking his hand. “Shit, you look good for a guy in his nineties.”
“Thank you,” Steve said automatically. “Is he supposed to know who I am? Everyone keeps telling me it’s some big secret - wait, Stark?”
Tony sighed. “Yes, that Stark.”
“Howard was your grandfather?”
Natasha snickered and Tony threw his head back and laughed which did interesting things to Steve’s stomach. “Howard was my father,” Tony finally told him. “The old man was very active in his later years.”
“Fury and Tony go way back,” Natasha said, jamming her hands in her coat pockets. “Apparently.”
“You’re still his favorite,” Tony assured her.
“Phil’s his favorite,” Natasha said. “I’m the middle child.”
“Whatever Nick and Agent have going on is not a parent-child harmonic,” Tony said. “Are you showing Cap here the sights?”
“I’m acclimating him.”
Tony smirked. “And running into us was purely coincidence?”
“I don’t know your life,” Natasha said disdainfully. “Your schedule is very heavily guarded, you know. To get you itinerary and know that you would be standing in this exact spot and this exact moment I’d have to be some kind of spy.”
“Or have someone on the inside,” Pepper said lightly.
“I love a conniving woman, don’t you?” Tony asked and Steve just shrugged helplessly.
“Fury’s counting on you to make a fuss,” Natasha said. “Get the shackles off. He needs to know the world they’re trying to make him fight for before they dress him up in spandex and point him at whatever enemy they think is worth taking down first.”
“Is that why they won’t let me watch TV?” Steve demanded. He couldn’t help the flash of fury as he rounded on Natasha. “They want their super solider stupid enough not to ask any questions?”
“Wow they have not done any research on you at all have they?” Tony asked. “My dad’s notes on you mostly involved the words ‘stubborn asshole’ and details with great delight all the times you made up your own orders. The Council is going to love you.”
Steve stared at him, betrayal making his head throb, helplessness thrumming in every nerve ending. He wanted to say something, anything, but he didn’t know where to start. All he had was knowledge of a world almost seventy years out of date and his own judgment. He liked Fury, so far. Fury trusted Natasha. They were both trusting Tony.
“Come on,” Tony said. “Let’s walk around. Pepper, can you clear me for a few hours?”
“Already done,” she said cheerfully. “Happy’s going to wait with the car in case the Captain wants to go anywhere.”
“No TV, huh?” Tony said, eyeing Steve up and down. “So no internet I’m guessing? Newpapers?”
“No,” he said tightly.
“Pep, can you get one of the interns to run me over a Starkphone, a tablet and one of the new webbooks? Attach them to my accounts, it’ll make it harder for SHIELD to realize the Captain has an internet presence.” Tony clapped Steve on the shoulder. “All right, what do you want to see first? There’s a parade in an hour or so, we should stick around for that, but we can go explore the city after. Oh, there’s funnel cake!”
“I - okay. Do they still make coca-cola?”
“Oh, honey,” Tony said and slipped his arm through Steve’s. “Okay, funnel cake and coke. Pep, you coming with?”
“Not today. It was very nice to meet you, Captain Rogers.” Pepper smiled at him. “Welcome back. Don’t let Tony and Natasha boss you around.”
“I would never-”
“He would a little,” Pepper said. “But he’s mostly harmless.”
“Lies and slander,” Tony said. “Okay, food first. What’s next?”
“Face paint?” Steve offered tentatively. “What do the stripes mean?”
“It’s your sexual orientation,” Tony said. He led Steve across the street to a cart selling drinks in brightly-colored cans and pouring thick streams of cake batter into a fryer. It smelled heavenly and Steve’s stomach - always ready for the next meal - growled appreciatively. “Different colors mean different orientations. A full rainbow means you only dig your own gender, shades of gray and purple means you’re not into sex at all, but you might have romantic inclinations. There’s a pink triangle in a circle, that’s for friendly straights.”
“Seems kind of personal to be painting on your face,” Steve offered.
“Yeah, but when you’ve got an entire society that’s been forced into hiding for years, sometimes just standing up and forcing people to acknowledge that you exist is the most liberating thing. Once everyone stops treating it like a secret, then it can be private again.”
That made sense. “Can I ask what yours means?”
“Bisexual. I go both ways, men or women,” Tony said with a light grin, but he was definitely watching Steve for his reaction - as was Natasha.
“Oh.” Steve took the plate the vendor handed him. “Can I get one?”
“Yeah, absolutely. Which one do you want?”
“That one.” Steve nodded toward Tony and licked a smudge of powdered sugar off his thumb. He hadn’t actually intended it to be a come-on, but if the way Tony’s eyes widened slightly, it came across that way. Steve was okay with that. “Bisexual. That’s me too.”
Tony smiled at him, this one softer and a little more real than the others had been. “Finish your cake and we’ll go get you a flag.”
Steve broke off a piece of funnel cake and held it out with a grin and a blush. “You could help me eat it?”
thanks for answering! <3 :O i want to dye it pink again so bad, but it never ends up looking like pastel pink :'( what do you do when you shower? doesn't the color fade out really fast? i've heard that mixing some hair dye with the conditioner to your hair while showering and let it for about 5 minutes will help maintain the pastel color longer. also, did you only apply the hair dye to your ends? i like how the color goes from some sort of blonde to pink <3 it looks so pretty!
ur hair has to be pretty light if you wanna go pastel! i dont use any special conditioner or anything so it does fade every time i wash it, but ya, mixing semi permanent dye (not box dye) with shampoo/conditioner and using that will replenish the color a little bit so it fades less overall.
lool no, the blonde happened because it’s a little under bleached (too dark so the pastel pink dye didnt do anything to it) my roots are always a little under bleached and thus darker / blonder than the rest of my platinum blonde ends. i go over them again the next time i bleach regrowth so black regrowth -> blonde and blonde -> platinum blonde, if that makes sense.
“Garrison and Willow would seemingly never be friends. She’s sitting inside with faded overalls, a blue shirt with bat-prints, and glasses crooked on her nose. She’s introverted and bookish. He’s rebellious and outcast. Their unique interests may not align, but something in the core of their hearts does—and that makes the difference..”
Using dishwater to keep his late wife’s favorite roses alive
Text by Diana Marcum
Photos by Robert Gauthier
We were driving north through Butte County when Rob saw an inflatable swan in a fire lane.
The car slowed. “You shooting?” I asked.
I looked past the swan, a vinyl dinosaur, a Loch Ness monster and a blue-painted driveway. Across the street, an older man in faded overalls and a pith helmet was watering a border of roses with a garden hose. No inflatables in sight.
“Hell of a time keeping them alive with water restrictions,” said Ronald Bretherton, 85, his accent tipping off his Australian roots.
“But I’m not in jail yet, so I must not be abusing. We’re all going to have to do something to get us through this drought. ”
Once again, someone had brought up drought without me mentioning it. I’d barely said hello.
“When my wife was alive, we were growing the roses from bare roots,” he told me.
His wife Margaret’s favorite was a deeply perfumed red-and-gold rose called Double Delight. It smelled like fruit and sugar.
Ronald said he’d always liked roses because “it’s important to give women something pretty.”
He had dug the moats around the bushes a little deeper. He’d been carrying out his used dishwater to give them a soaking.
“Long as it’s not too soapy,” he said.
Today, he admitted, he had the hose trickling on a hot “non-watering” day.
“Roses do love water,” he said. “But with just a little tiny bit, each day, I can pull them through.”