The morning after Sarah Williams defeats the Goblin King, she gets up and makes toast. She has to brush some glitter off the toaster—it withers and vanishes at the brush of her fingertips, and she stares at her hand for a long time.
It mostly just looks like her hand. Even when she turns it over, and sees where she scraped her knuckles against the oubliette, where the shattered mirror cut the back of her wrist. It looks like she fell, or was playing in the street. That’s all.
The toast comes out burned, and Sarah stares at that too. Eventually, she slumps down against the cabinets and cries, wracking sobs that send her dad and Karen rushing into kitchen. They check her forehead for a fever, put their hands on her, and keep asking, “Are you okay? Sarah, please, tell us what’s wrong…”
Eventually, her dad drags her into his lap and cradles her against his chest, like he did when she was little. Her legs are too long to really fit anymore, but Sarah hugs him around the neck anyway. “It’ll be okay,” he says, keeps saying. “You’ll be okay.” And Sarah—doesn’t laugh, because she can’t, and doesn’t have the words to express what—how—
(None of her stories ever talked about this. What did Sir George do, the morning after he slayed the last dragon in England? Did Tam Lin eat breakfast, or did he sit there, shivering, wondering if his hands were different, having been claws and wings and scales?)
Afterwards, she leaves the burnt toast outside on the back porch. Not an offering. Maybe a reminder.
It’s Didymus she sees the most often, mostly because he’s the one who invites himself rather than waiting for an invitation. He comes for tea, but even if there’s no tea—which there isn’t, usually—he comes to tell Sarah stories. She learns to love poetry because there’s no escaping it with him. (She won’t read Idylls of the King until Brit Lit in college, but she ends up scrawling a lot in the margins; Didymus’ telling of events had been much more interesting.)
Once, she falls asleep like that, her hands tucked behind her head with Didymus curled up and sleepily reciting from the crook of her elbow. “So tender was her voice, so fair her face—though I don’t think he was looking at her face, my lady, pardon me for saying so—”
Sarah buries her nose in his fur. Didymus always smells of rosewater, and a crispness she thinks is just…the Labyrinth. She falls asleep trying to place it.
She wakes up with a wild fox in her bed, animal-black eyes frightened and flat, teeth bared. The fox is whining, and she’s tempted to throw herself across the room, to get away from this wild thing and its teeth. It takes a monumental will to keep herself still and her breathing slow, even; like she’s still asleep and unafraid.
It takes her longer to swallow, and start humming one of the songs he taught her—a knight’s round, he’d said. She’s shaky at first, but the fox’s ears flick forward. It cocks its head, and slowly, the teeth disappear behind its lips.
She almost laughs when noses at her throat curiously, butting its head against her jaw like a cat might.
Neil stopped counting. “You know, I get it,” Neil said. “Being raised as a superstar must be
really, really difficult for you. Always a commodity, never a human
being, not a single person in your family thinking you’re worth a damn
off the court—yeah, sounds rough.Kevin and I talk about your intricate
and endless daddy issues all the time.” “Neil,” Kevin said, low and frantic. Neil ignored him. “I know it’s not entirely your fault that you are
mentally unbalanced and infected with these delusions of grandeur,and I
know you’re physically incapable of holding a decent conversation with
anyone like every other normal human being can, but I don’t think any of
us should have to put up with this much of your bullshit. Pity only
gets you so many concessions, and you used yours up about six insults
ago. So please, please, just shut the fuck up and leave us alone.”
Jaws dropped up and down the line; Raven symmetry shattered as they
stared at Neil in stupefied disbelief. Riko’s expression could have
frozen hell, but Neil was too upset to be afraid.He’d have a nervous
breakdown later. Right now he leaned forward and looked down the table
at Dan, who sat with her face buried in her hands.“Dan, I said please. I tried to be nice.”
What if most alien species reproduce like avians or reptiles with large clutches of eggs which they don’t spend much time with, so the concept of raising a child inside of oneself is absolutely disgusting.
Y’xplc wandered the corridors of the ship in the middle of the night-not that it mattered in space. Most everyone was in their sleeping pods, but he heard shouts from the humans’ pod. He scuttled over as quickly as he could to investigate. There were clearly loud shouts and signs of aggression.
“I don’t want to have the baby here!” Human-Sarah cried, “In space! What if something goes wrong- what if the spaceship air hurts it. What if-”
“That won’t happen,” Jane interrupted her, “Nothing’s going to happen to the baby,” Jane soothed.
This outburst surprised Y’xplc, surely human-Sarah couldn’t be concerned. The air was kept at a stable oxygen level for most species. And there were incubators for all species, the eggs would be kept safe.
Human-Sarah had been absorbed into the crew for the most part. After a few words with Jane, the message about the shrieking had been conveyed and she had stayed quieter. Sarah even taught some of the crew-mates how to play chess. Many hours waiting in deep space were spent staring at a chess-board interspersed with some compulsory cursing as pieces were taken.
Human-Sarah had warmed up to the aliens and was friendly with everyone, though it wasn’t hard to notice how she shied away from direct contact with anyone, Jane.
However, in the recent weeks, Human-Sarah had been getting moodier. Y’xplc assumed it had something to do with the eggs. But when he went to the incubator there were not any eggs there. Perhaps the laying cycle was not going well.
Months passed and Y’xplc began to notice other things as well; human-Sarah was eating excessively and was gaining weight, a lot of weight. Progesterone levels were also increased to an unhealthy amount.
Eventually, Y’xplc contacted human-Jane about. She was under the belly of a generator fixing it with a sonic wrench.
“Human-Jane,” He asked, “Is human-Sarah ok?”
“What do you mean,” Jane looked up “Is she hurt?”
‘No, but she is gaining weight rapidly and it’s noticeable as well as increased progesterone level.”
“Oh,” Jane let out a rush of carbon-dioxide. “That’s just because of the baby,” She explained
“But there are no eggs in the incubator,” Y’xplc questioned, “Are you keeping them elsewhere,”
There were a few species who liked to keep the eggs safe with their own body-heat as part of their customs.
“Eggs? What does this have to do with eggs,” Jane asked confused. “The eggs-your offspring.” “Y’xplc,” she garbled, “Humans are mammals we carry are babies in us.” “What?” Y’xplc couldn’t hold back a sound of disgust. “That’s why she’s gaining weight and eating so much, she has to feed the baby/” “That’s like a parasite,” Y’xplc unconsciously scuttled backward.
Human Jane's eyes narrowed angrily, “Our baby is not a parasite.”
In the coming weeks, human Sarah’s belly swelled to unimaginable sizes and she spent most of her days lying in bed. Jane too was preoccupied with the baby and Sarah. She was reading books on human child-care almost constantly whens he wasn’t fetching Sarah food.
Most of the other aliens kept a wide berth from the baby inside of Sarah. The idea of keeping one’s young inside of themselves was absolutely disgusting.
Then one day, Y'xplc her screams from their pod. "It’s starting,” Human-Sarah half screamed, half groaned. “the contractions." Many hours later a squirming ball of flesh popped out of human Sarah’s reproductory region. It was tiny and delicate. It’s smooth round head. Human-Jane carefully swaddled it into a soft blanket and handed it to human-Sarah.
"Your baby. It’s a she,” Jane smiled.
“Our baby,” Human-Sarah sighed in relief. “It has your genetic code."
The baby soon became a constant on the ship. Its wails punctuated the night and were subsequently followed by either Jane or Sarah cooing and shushing before providing it with sustenance.
Y'xplc documented the babies growth and wondered why humans would give birth in such a dangerous and painful manner. Well, humans were weird.
Steve fic based around this button? i(.)ebayimg(.)com/images/g/MDkAAOSwt0FZCocL/s-l500(.)jpg
Steve didn’t think something
as small and inconsequential would have lasted.
But there it was in a box of effects that Becca had given him (there was
a shirt and a scrap of paper Steve had drawn the skyline on for Bucky and some
letters with Bucky’s deliberate, heavy handwriting).
I gave my share
inside a faded red heart and the year – 1928.
He’d been ten, at the
time, breathing reedy and limbs thin. He
was picking himself up from a scrap, (Bucky would be back for Steve once he’d
properly run the other boys off), when he saw it, shiny and entirely not trash behind the barrel.
Fifty cents. A whole fifty cents and Steve couldn’t
believe it. He and Bucky could split
something at the diner, maybe.
He thought of what his Ma
had said about fortune and some people not having any, had thought of the fight he was in – the little girl was gone
but her shoes still had holes in them bigger than Steve’s.
When Bucky returned, Steve
had pocketed the quarters and was dusting himself off.
“Your Ma is gonna kill
me. Lookit you.”
“We gotta make a stop on
the way, Buck.”
Bucky glared and Steve
returned it, neither having the energy for anything more.
Bucky sighed. “Fine.”
Steve marched them
straight to the Red Cross and donated the fifty cents he’d found, and the woman
at the desk – kind-faced and eyes full of something Steve couldn’t describe –
gave him a pin. I gave my share, it said.
He pinned it on his shirt
and his Ma – when he stepped through the door at home she didn’t mention his
bruises or the bleeding, but she saw his pin and smiled so wide, Steve thought
her cheeks might ache.
Steve left the pin in the
box, needing to find a place that would be safe but visible for him to keep
it. It made him think of his Ma and
Bucky and Erskine; on those days he questioned himself and his purpose, it
helped him to think of his ten-year-old self, reassure himself that boy, that
boy who wanted to give, was still in
I love the slight hesitation in alec before he kisses magnus. you see him shift on the spot as though he almost dipped forwards but didn’t, and then the second time he gives in to himself and it’s just so important to me? he’s so scared. he’s never done anything like this before. he’s scared that magnus will treat him differently for having a lack of experience, scared that they’re too different, scared that he might not compare to a single one of magnus’ memories. but when he turns to leave, he can’t. he wants this; he wants magnus. he can’t find a good enough reason to let his fears make him walk away from what he wants, and so he turns back, and he’s still scared, but he kisses magnus and in that moment decides that he’s going to fight for this man
I could dance all night like I’m a soul boy, but you know I’d rather drag myself across the dance floor I feel like dancing on my own, where no one knows me, and where I can cause offence just by the way I look.
And when I come to blows, when I am numbering my foes, just hope that you are on my side, my dear.
But it’s best to finish as it started, with my face head down just staring at the brown formica. It’s safer not to look around, i can’t hide my feelings from you now, there’s too much love to go around these days.