installment-two

The Post-Natural Body

When I was an infant, doctors made a small hole in each of my eardrums and installed two small tubes to drain fluid from frequent ear infections.

As I grew older, I had my firewalls updated periodically - I never did get used to needles, but I learned to tolerate them.

While in elementary school, teachers noticed my vocal programming was bugged. For the next four years, I had hour-long lessons three days a week to manually update my pronunciation and articulation. Words with ‘S’ at the ends are still difficult for me when I’m tired.

As a teenager. I had corrective equipment installed to realign my teeth, and once the process was complete, two thin wires were glued to the back of my incisors to keep them aligned. Later, I had extraneous components called ‘wisdom teeth’ removed from my mouth leftovers from the previous design model.

Various production and processing centers in my body are sub-optimal, so I consume supplementary chemicals to compensate. Some to neutralize excessive acid production in my stomach. Others to handle deficits in executive functioning. More still to handle various pain signals.

I use removable lens to improve my vision, and external braces to support various weak joints. Every day, I put on a pair of prosthetic callouses for my feet. Some days, I chose prosthetics which will also keep my feet dry, protect me from electrical currents, and disperse force from dropped objects. Other days I choose ones which will add inches to my baseline height.

My body has never been the highest quality. It’s buggy, its daemons malfunction, and the hardware was not built to last as long as it should. But I make do.

Mike/Will Season 2, Episode 1: A Shot by Shot Analysis

Ok, here it is! The first installation of my shot-by-shot analysis series! 

Some things to know before reading: 

  1. This series will go episode by episode and each post will discuss scenes that I think are relevant to understanding Mike and Will’s relationship. I’m publishing them as I write them, so I might miss things. If I do, I’ll be sure to include them later. 
  2. This analysis focuses on what I think the Duffers’ intentions are as far as this pairing and what the Mike/Will scenes in season two could indicate about season three. It’s not always going to reflect that Byeler is endgame, because as much as I love Byeler (and I really do), I just don’t think it’s going to be canon, at least not in the way that we hope. Don’t despair, though. 
  3. If you haven’t, read my Is Will Byers Gay? post first! It basically establishes my thoughts about Gay Will. Give it a reblog if you’re so inclined :) Note that I wrote it BEFORE I knew about the stranger things bible clipping which basically confirms it, which you can find here.
  4. These are just my thoughts/opinions! Feel free to disagree, and please do! Just do so respectfully :) I wrote this because I love Stranger Things, something we ultimately all have in common. If you have negative/nasty opinions about this analysis or are offended by the suggestion that Will Byers is gay, I ask politely that you keep them to yourself. 
  5. I couldn’t find gifs for everything I wanted :/ if someone knows a better way to do this, I’d appreciate the help!
  6. Anyway, thanks so much for reading! I hope you enjoy! (Also: I’m tagging @packupyourthingses @leondrmccoys @we-dance-like-marionettes who (I think?) asked to be tagged, and @thebandersnatchoftheshire who expressed an interest in the post a while back.)


EPISODE 1: MAD MAX

Let’s start off with some general observations. 

  • In the first season, Will is missing, leaving his three best friends and Eleven to recover him. In the second season, Will is back, Eleven is gone, and Max has joined the party. Obviously, each of these changes makes a significant contribution to existing group dynamics. Mike, for example, changes significantly in the wake of Eleven’s departure, while Lucas and Dustin are overjoyed at Max’s arrival.
  • In season 1, storylines are segmented by age group. i.e., the kids, teenagers, and adults all embark on separate adventures that ultimately converge. As we would expect of a second installation, narratives in season two reflect character and story arcs established earlier. As a result, the groups are not so neatly divided. Ergo, Steve hangs with Dustin/Lucas/Max, Mike/Will end up with Joyce/Hopper, etc. 
  • Crucially, the core group of boys is divided into pairs. Mike and Will spend most of the season together, as do Dustin and Lucas. The use of these pairs, which are established almost immediately, is an unmistakeable narrative device all throughout the season.

1. Arcade

The arcade scene is the first in the season of all the boys together. They spend the first half of it together playing video games, arguing with Keith, etc, and the second half divided into pairs. This begins when Will is transplanted suddenly into the upside down and steps outside the arcade.

Lucas and Dustin, at that point, are preoccupied with divining MadMax’s true identity. Because of this, it’s Mike who comes out to check on Will, and likely the one who noticed he was missing in the first place. This is the first clue as to the extent of the closeness between the two. It’s deliberate: as we see here, and throughout the season, Will/Mike and Dustin/Lucas are partitioned, and their individual friendships are developed.

In the scene, Mike comes outside and finds Will. He then makes sure he’s okay, puts his arm around him, and guides him inside. This gesture, to me, reads as pretty innocuous physical affection (of course, you’re welcome to disagree). It was, however, a conscious stylistic choice, made by the duffers with the intention of communicating a number of things. In this scene, we begin to learn firstly that Mike and Will are close, and secondly, that Mike is protective of Will, concerned for his wellbeing, and (probably) an important source of emotional support. The arm gesture underscores Mike’s key character traits: his protectiveness, his characteristic warmth and compassion for others, and his ability to take charge when the situation calls for it and help those in need. 

Here’s why that matters: Mike’s behavior in this particular scene is especially interesting in the context of his recent character development. Eleven’s disappearance has clearly affected him profoundly, and in the first three episodes of the season, we learn just how much. Earlier in episode one we see him stealing from Nancy, and in a later scene with his parents, we learn that he’s acted out in a number of ways over the past year, all indicating that Mike’s moral compass, distinct and venerable in season 1, has weakened somewhat. Same goes for his trademark positivity and determination. This season he’s sullen, irritable, apathetic, and in [my paraphrasing of] Finn Wolfhard’s own words, “not as much of a leader.” 

And yet, Mike manages to be there for Will in that moment, to take note of his presence (or lack thereof), to guide him, to help heal him. It would appear that, in Mike’s moody “post-eleven period”, it is in his relationship with Will that he has remained his best self. 

The question is, WHY? In the first episode of Beyond Stranger Things, Finn Wolfhard remarks (and the Duffers agree) that in Eleven’s absence, Mike needs “someone to impress” and therefore “tries to impress Will”. I also agree with this interpretation. Romance aside, Mike and El’s relationship is (among other things) characterized by a deep mutual admiration. Will, who’s obviously vulnerable, is an opportunity for Mike to be important to someone again, to be needed. Because of this, Will in particular has assumed a new level of importance in Mike’s life post-eleven, because in a way, Will helps Mike cope with the trauma of his loss. And, of course, Mike is very important for Will, who needs someone compassionate, sweet and understanding to help him cope with his trauma. They’re bonded by shared horrifying experiences from season 1: Will going missing; Mike losing El. They are, for all intents and purposes, “crazy together”. 

I can’t say with certainty that their relationship has a new dimension/purpose/function in the wake of all that’s happened, because Will was missing for the entirety of last season and we saw basically nothing of their friendship, so it’s impossible to make a comparison. But, I predict that in the aftermath of season one, Mike and Will’s (already close) friendship matured and deepened, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the change in their friendship had an effect on Will and how he sees their relationship. 

What are the implications of this? It’s worth it to consider:

  • The effects of this close relationship on Will. How does he feel about his closeness with Mike, new or not? How does he feel about the reemergence of Eleven? I predict angst. Lots of it. 
  • The potential of a love triangle. There are a bunch of amazing posts about this, find some here and here. I’m not convinced we’ll get one, but it’s interesting to consider in the context of this analysis. Remember that Will and Eleven have never interacted (which I think is also deliberate). How will Mike balance his emotional responsibilities to both Will and Eleven? How will Will and Eleven adjust to each other, when each of them is emotionally significant to and in some form, emotionally reliant on, Mike Wheeler? (Not suggesting Eleven needs Mike, she obviously doesn’t need a man, but it would be silly to deny how much he means to her, and vice versa.) Consider also, that there are SO MANY parallels between Will and Eleven. SO MANY. There are a lot of posts already analyzing this, I’ll link one here.

That being said, I do think Mike and Will have always been close. There are hints to this even in season 1. Exhibits A and B.

2. Mr. Clarke’s room

The next shot we see of the boys is in Mr. Clarke’s classroom, just before Max is first introduced. They sit in two rows of two: Dustin and Lucas in front; Will and Mike in back. This, if just visually, emphasizes the “pairs” theory I discussed earlier. Dustin and Lucas look at and whisper to only each other. 

3. Will gets in Joyce’s car while Dustin, Lucas and Mike watch from a distance

The physical set up of this scene again is deliberate. Mike is in front, with Lucas and Dustin behind him. (If you think this is grasping at straws, try picturing the scene with Dustin up front - it changes the mood). All the boys are concerned; Mike especially so. The exchange is as follows: Lucas asks, “Do you guys think he’s okay?”, to which Mike says, “I don’t know, he’s quiet today”. Lucas responds, “He’s always quiet.”

Then, the camera zooms in on Mike’s particularly troubled expression. We, the audience, KNOW that all is not well. We KNOW Will had an episode the night before, which explains why “he’s quiet today”. Lucas dismisses Mike’s uncertainty, but WE know that Mike is right. This is supposed to tell us that out of the group, Mike is the most intuitive/perceptive when it comes to Will, and that Lucas and Dustin obviously care very deeply for Will, but don’t know him like Mike does.

4. Lucas and Dustin at the arcade.

In this scene, Lucas and Dustin are at the arcade, trying to figure out if Max is MadMax. Will isn’t there because he’s at Hawkins lab, but where is Mike? Mike is uninterested in Max from the beginning (and so is Will, for that matter, beyond wanting to figure out if she’s MadMax. I don’t think we ever see them interact directly). 

Mike is unessential to the scene, so there’s no real reason to have him there, but I thought it was interesting that they weren’t all hanging out. This scene demonstrates that Lucas and Dustin are a pair. They have shared jokes, a witty banter, and now a shared goal, which is to befriend Max. That goal bonds them and frames their eventual storyline of setting a trap for Dart.

5. Will drawing in his room

(Sorry guys - I couldn’t find a screencap of the line I wanted; if you find one where Will says Mom, Dustin, Lucas, Everyone” PLEASE let me know!)

When Will takes Jonathan to task for treating him like a baby, he implicates “Mom, Dustin, Lucas, everyone”. The only person he doesn’t mention is Mike, which is interesting, because so far, Mike is the only one of the friend group we’ve seen express concern for Will in any capacity. This is ABSOLUTELY on purpose. Again, it emphasizes their close relationship and alludes to a symbiosis: later in the exchange, Will says “It doesn’t help. It just makes me feel like more of a freak.” Perhaps he doesn’t feel alienated by Mike’s help because Mike has been through something similar, which makes him also a freak.

It’s worth it to mention that Will has no screen time alone with any of the other characters. I think it’s probably because the writers felt the only relationship of Will’s they needed to emphasize was with Mike. 

SO…

That’s it for episode 1! Let me know if there’s anything I missed! 

2

EAST ASIAN MYTHOLOGY MEME:

[3/8] JAPANESE GODS AND GODDESSES | AMATERASU

Amaterasu [天照], Amaterasu-ōmikami or Ōhirume-no-muchi-no-kami is a part of the Japanese myth cycle and also a major deity of the Shinto religion. She is the goddess of the sun, but also of the universe. 

In Japanese mythology, Amaterasu, the goddess of the sun, is the sister of Susanoo, the god of storms and the sea, and of Tsukuyomi, the god of the moon. It was written that Amaterasu had painted the landscape with her siblings to create ancient Japan. She became the ruler of the sun and the heavens along with her brother, Tsukuyomi, the god of the moon and ruler of the night. Originally, Amaterasu shared the sky with Tsukuyomi, her husband and brother until, out of disgust, he killed the goddess of food, Uke Mochi. This killing upset Amaterasu, causing her to label Tsukuyomi an evil god and to split away from him; separating night from day.

There is also a long-standing rivalry between Amaterasu and her other brother, Susanoo. When he was to leave Heaven by orders of Izanagi, he went to bid his sister goodbye. Amaterasu was suspicious, but when Susanoo proposed a challenge to prove his sincerity, she accepted. Each of them took an object of the other’s and from it birthed gods and goddesses. Amaterasu birthed three women from Susanoo’s sword while he birthed five men from her necklace. Claiming the gods were hers because they were born of her necklace, she decided that she had won the challenge. The two were content for a time, but her brother became restless and went on a rampage, destroying Amaterasu’s rice fields, hurling a flayed pony at her loom, and killing one of her attendants in a fit of rage. Amaterasu, who was in fury and grief, hid inside the Ama-no-Iwato (“heavenly rock cave”), thus effectively hiding the sun for a long period of time. The world, without the illumination of the sun, became dark. The gods could not lure Amaterasu out of her hiding place until the goddess of dawn, Ame-no-Uzume, was able to trick her into reappearance.

His Artwork

So this is a Human/College/Soulmate AU because…. I dunno. It made sense to me. Here we go!

(Idea from @thomassandersownsmysoul)

Premise: Anything your soul mates write on their skin appears on your own

Pairings: LAMP/CALM, polysanders

Tags: @twentyoneparades-to-panic-at @celiawhatsherlastname @de-is-me @authordreaming13 @introverts-assemble @lilylunalovegood2002 @musicwitchthomas @spoooky-bird


Virgil laid back on his bed, his arms out and his legs spread, clad in only a pair of basketball shorts. It was late Saturday morning, and this was what he normally did during that time. He knew any moment now… There it was. A little tickle on his forearm, it felt like.. butterfly kisses, if he had to describe it. He lifted his right arm, seeing words appearing there.

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“I popped Captain America’s cherry !” - Steve Rogers x Reader (NSFW)

Steve Rogers is (was) a 90 years old virgin, someone had to “pop his cherry” one day you know. Just so happened it was you. Slightly NSFW. Well, actually, totally NSFW. Let’s just say it. First times and stuffs

(My masterlist blog here : https://ella-ravenwood-archives.tumblr.com)

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Being Tony Stark’s little sister wasn’t always easy. You couldn’t count the number of times you had to go pick him up somewhere because he was too drunk to come home on his own. Or the times you were waking up to go to school only to be met with a naked woman walking casually around…and getting suddenly flustered when she realized that Tony’s little sister was living with him. Or the times he just embarrassed you in general. Or when paparazzis just chased you everywhere just because you were his sister. Or just all of the Iron Man thing. You were in danger all the time, just because you were his sister…

Tony was twenty when your parents died, you were just a four year old at the time, and didn’t understand what was happening…Most of your childhood had been a bit chaotic. But you ended up fine, with all of his flaws, your brother still took good care of you. The perks of being rich really, an army of nannies were there when he wasn’t. 

Yes, being Tony Stark’s sister wasn’t always easy. But it definitely had its good sides. Your life was NEVER boring, and you always met interesting people. 

Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, was one of those people. You guys “clicked” right away. You loved his gentlemanly way, and he loved the fact that you were always very careful not to make him uncomfortable by talking about something he didn’t know. You were very aware that he wasn’t from your era, and that sometimes, he struggled. You also were the only one to acknowledge the fact that he might have PTSD from WWII. And unlike most men, he really wasn’t interested in your money and fame that came with the package of being a Stark. He liked you just the way you were, and vice versa. Unlike your brother you never mocked him when he was confused about something from the modern world. You loved hearing about when he was in the forties, and you felt that talking about it made him feel better. After all, everything and everyone he knew was long gone, that had to take a toll on your mind…It became a habit for the two of you to meet every day for lunch and just talk about anything. 

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anonymous asked:

what are normal things that happen in field archaeology? and what does an archaeologist look like

Ok, normal things that happen in the field, according to my experience and to my friends’ (we haven’t had the chance to go to field school together yet, but hopefully this is the year!):

-it’s too sunny to see the stratigraphy

-it’s too cloudy to see the stratigraphy

-is this a sherd or a rock?

-”Wear the Indiana Jones hat proudly”, says the Professor

-”Clean this structure!”, says Professor; «but it’s just a bunch of roots…», thinks student; Professor stomping around excavation area; Professor is beauty and grace and eventually trips on and destroys said structure; Professor and student look at each other; “I always knew it wasn’t important,” says Professor

-you no longer fill your lungs with air, but with dust and dirt

-you no longer cry tears, but mud

-”Look, I’m digging white dirt!” exclaims rookie student; “You destroyed a bone,” says veteran student

-headquarters in the middle of nowhere, nights dark and chilly, forest all around… it is time for creepy stories

-wildlife appears

-night stroll interrupted upon seeing a pair of big round eyes shining in the dark; “IT’S A LION!!!”; night stroll becomes marathon for survival

-black spot on the wall; black spot moves; black spot is a spider; bring a bucket and a pickaxe and the big shovel and maybe we should call the Professor to help us

-call the Professor

-”Can you pass me the thing?”; “Can you hold me the thing while I measure the thing for the thing?”; “Did you see my thing?”; “Look at the thing I found!”; “Where’s the bucket for special things?”

-building new hills and valleys and mountains with all the dirt covering the Main Objective: you are the Destroyer and Creator of Worlds

-The Good Professor: “Kids, time for the mid-morning snack!” and “Kids, hide everything, it’s lunch time!”

-The Bad Professor: “You are doing it wrong.” and “Stop contaminating my archaeological site with biscuit crumbs, who told you to eat anyway???”

-”If the boars come, drop everything and climb to the trees.”

-who needs sunscreen when you have ochre?

-”Take your feet off my square!”

-metalhead girl finds first piece of bronze of that year’s campaign: let the metal-puns begin!

-Professor brings portable chair; Professor installs portable chair between two glorious oaks; Professor picks a square for himself, sits on dirt and works

-sharing the back of the jeep with material, samples, colleagues and Professor’s portable chair

-you know you’re going on an archaeological mission when the jeep is old and uncomfortable 

-old and uncomfortable jeeps are the best

-overloaded jeep going up and down the mountain, brakes might not work; “We trust you with our lives, (name of the doctorate student driving the jeep). No pressure.”

-look at all these sherds!

-turns out you broke a once perfectly intact jar/dish/whatever, we’ll only know what’s this crap once we glue it back together

-”IT’S A STELE!!” yells rookie student, pointing a piece of broken marble

-”I found a pretty shell in that shell midden!”

-digging Roman ruins wearing no hard hat = YOLO

-asking the metalhead girl the secret behind walking around with safety boots when it’s 35ºC

-disconnected from the world

-waking up at 6 a.m. to the Indiana Jones theme; chicken and pork for breakfast; pick up Professor at 7 a.m.; work starts at 8 a.m.; everybody is joyful and happy and it is a beautiful day

-”A friend just called from (some other Professor’s excavation site); do you guys want to hear the gossip???”

-gossip is a sexual scandal, everybody laughs and is very happy to be in the opposite side of the country

-field drawing

-field stick-men drawing

-Professor fell asleep on his square

-”Do we have insurance?” asks rookie student; “What the fuck is that?” asks veteran student

And finally…

An archaeologist looks like the hate child of a Special Ops and a partisan. 

A Hundred Lesser Faces: (Seven)


Notes from Mod Bonnie

  • This story stems from the premise: what if Voyager!Claire had gone first to Lallybroch instead of directly to the print shop in Edinburgh?

Many a red-headed man I’d passed on the long road from Lallybroch. Every single time, my stupid, desperate heart had leapt with joy; and every time, I cursed myself for the fool that I was. For Christ’s SAKE, why the bloody hell should he be on the road from Inverness, Beauchamp? Jamie Fraser is south, in Edinburgh, with his wife. With his daughters. Happy. So, pull yourself together. 

So deep had been my longing, though, that my traitorous eyes had tried over and over to convince me that it might be, it MIGHT be this time! (even when the actual travelers hadn’t looked remotely like Jamie). Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ, one had been a very tall boy no more than twelve, and I still had had to see his face from ten feet before I would allow my heart to quiet. Not him. Not him. 

Blind hope, indeed. 

But this time, as I whirled and fell on the hillside, heart exploding, in a single moment, I was certain. Even from a great distance, even two decades later, even not yet able to see his face through the snow-flecked gloom, even had he not been screaming my name, yes, I’d know the shape of that man anywhere. It was Jamie, tearing toward me on horseback, riding like the hounds of hell were at his heels. And the SIGHT of him? A relief and a love smashed through me, so deep and so visceral that I staggered downward; not running, not even making my way down the hill;  just slipping, pulled toward his orbit. 

Alive. I had known for months, believed, had confirmation from Jenny herself, and yet the proof was now there before my eyes. Not under a stone on Culloden Moor; that nightmare was now banished forever. Jamie Fraser was ALIVE.

I saw him kick hard, spurring the horse to an even more astonishing pace—how loudly must he have been screaming that I had been able to hear him from so far away?—and found myself bursting out with joyous laughter at the way his shirt flapped like a sail in the wind. Nothing changed, then, if the ridiculous man had ridden without a coat or a cloak against the wind and the sn—


Wife. 

No.

Daughters.

Please….please, no.

This changes absolutely nothing, Beauchamp. This ends with you going through those stones, sooner or later. Make it sooner. 

But he came for me—Jamie came! He’s HERE.

He’s happy. He may have come, but he’s happy.  Don’t make him suffer by forcing this impossible choice. 

Just let me say goodbye.

Please. 

Let me hold him, just for —

Beauchamp: 

Can you honestly do what needs to be done if you have to look him in the eye and pull yourself out of his arms?


“CLAIRE!—What are ye—? S T O P !”

I was running up the hill, stumbling and tripping, going as fast as I could. I couldn’t stop. If I looked at him—If I touched him…

Everything seemed to slow to single frames, impressions:


The slow shrill cry of my breaths,

the grass suddenly inches from my nose as I staggered low over a boulder.

Hoofbeats, closer, louder.


I’m running for my life through quicksand,

every footfall sinking me deeper, and slower, as the monster gets closer and closer and—


A fierce whinny, a curse.

A voice— my voice—screaming. “STAY AWAY!”

Boots hitting the ground,

“CLAIRE, STOP!


Running, both of us running,  

and I couldn’t stop.

I must not st—


Time smashed into its normal pace again as I fell, mere yards from the crest of the hill, and cried out in pain.

“CLAIRE!” God, he was so close, pounding up the hill behind me, no more than thirty—

Don’t!” I shouted as I scrambled to my feet. 

“CLAI—”

“DO—NOT—TOUCH—ME!”  I screamed it over my shoulder with all the violence I possessed, a feral beast, cornered and ready to go for the throat as it went down.

Silence fell on the faerie hill. Stillness, and absolute silence.

When human thought returned, I was on my feet at the very top of the hill, the stones screaming their evil song behind me. My body was slung sideways, both arms raised in defense; my head hung at an improbable angle so as to look nowhere, see nothing: not the stones, not him. It was elemental in my body, in that moment: the absolute imperative not to look at him. If I could keep from looking, keep from getting trapped in those eyes, everything would be alright.

It was a ridiculous logic, I knew; somewhere in the recesses of my consciousness, that was obvious. Jamie Fraser was HERE. He wouldn’t simply let me walk away unacknowledged; but such was the depth of my panic and hysteria that I couldn’t move. I was bare millimeters from completely falling apart, abandoning all my noble resolve, and flinging myself into his arms, begging him to choose me  take me and damn the fucking consequences.

But it still wouldn’t change a bloody thing, the rational half of my mind whimpered. He would still be married. He would still have his children. We still could not be together, or at least not under any circumstances that honor would permit. I still could not force him to make that choice. 

Hold yourself together, Beauchamp. No tears, remember? You said you could do the same for him; could be calm and sure for him. Now, do it. Stand strong.

“….Mo nighean donn?”

That flower-stem snap.

That voice—Jamie’s sweet, clear voice; my very heart speaking aloud, quietly, but with every ounce of pain and longing that I felt in my own breast. 

Look at me, mo nighean donn.”

Stand. strong.

My mouth was dry and my entire body was shaking, each word an effort. “— Can't—”

A sudden, vicious snarl. “LOOK at me!”

I half-growled, half screamed, “I—CANT!” 

Desperate. So desperate, that ‘can’t’. I was shaking. Going into shock, in fact. Could feel the darkness and the manic energy and the absolute inability to retrieve words or actions closing—

Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp.” 

He said it like he always said his own name: low and distinct, with honor in every syllable.  

BE STRONG.

“I have ridden,” he said, in a voice so quiet and deep and measured, “night and day for nigh on a week, terrified that—terrified th—*Please,*” His calm vanished and the words were tumbling out of him in a frantic rush. “Please, for the love ye bear me, for the love that brought ye to find meTURN.”

STAND.

God, but I can’t stand.

“By everything that is holy…” A whispered moan. “Let me see your face, mo ghraidh.

….and damn my weak, foolish heart, I turned. I looked.


Day and night for a week, he’d said, and I believed it. Even at a distance of twenty feet down the hill, I could see just how bloodshot his eyes were, wide and wild. He was pale, underneath the red of wind and exertion, paler than I remembered. That glorious hair was now worn long. If it had been tied back, the ride and the wind had undone it. It was wild and tangled, whipping about his face, his chin covered in stubble that nearly amounted to a beard. His clothes—nothing but shirt, breeks and boots— were filthy and torn and splattered with mud. He looked, quite simply, dead on his feet.

He was the most beautiful sight I’d ever beheld.

God, you’re so like her, I wanted to moan. I’d known it, had had my heart broken every day to see the proof of him in our daughter, and yet seeing him now before me, I was absolutely run through to find her broad, good-humored face there, the same dark blue eyes aslant the high, flat cheekbones and wide mouth. 

He’d aged, of course, as had I. The lines around eyes and mouth were deeper, the skin more weathered and coarse, but it was still him. His nose had been broken, at some point. It made him look fiercer, though perhaps that was simply fatigue and the vast waves of emotion obviously rushing through him, through us both. 

Jamie had staggered back a pace or two back as he stared up at me, nearly toppling down the steep incline. “Jesus….Christ…” he whispered. The back of his hand was pressed to his mouth as though to stifle a cry, “You’re….You….” The hand became a fist and he shook his head as a gasping smile broke from him. “Claire—God, Claire, mo chridhe!” He moved, about to sprint up the hill. 

I jumped backward. Raised my arms against him. No.

Hurt. Betrayal. Pain. It was as though I had shot him at point-blank range…And something deeper shone beneath it all: some blazing intensity I couldn’t quite identify. He looked as though he would bleed out there on the spot, from this newest wound. 

So will I, my love. 

But he heeded me, standing completely still. His hands shook, half-raised before him. He simply didn’t know what to do with them—I knew because I didn’t know what to do with mine. His mouth worked as he tried to speak, to ask, to say something, but failing. Those eyes held everything, though. Pleading.

Silence on the hill. Silence and screaming. 

“You—survived,” I managed at last, weakly, with something like a laugh.

“Aye—” He exhaled in a huge rush, clearly grateful that I’d broken the stalemate. “It was a verra close thing.” He spoke fast and frantically, babbling, even, as though terrified to let silence fall again. “I should have died in the battle, or from the firing squads after, or of my wounds festering, but— Aye, I—I was—spared.”

“Thank God,” I whispered, and his eyes lit with such hope and relief that I could have cut my bloody tongue out at the root.

STOP this instant, Beauchamp. Nothing has changed.

Jamie was the one to break the silence, this time. “Your letter,” he gasped out.

“You read it, then?” A stupid thing to say. He’d obviously read it, but I clung to conversation just as he had. The stupid words were something, something to keep from falling off the edge of this insanity. “When?”

“By providence, I arrived at Lallybroch the same day you’d left, and….Oh, God, CLAIRE….”

Oh, God, Jamie. 

Each time my name left him, it seemed to tear a piece out of both of us. I could only look down at him, waiting.

“When I saw your hand on that letter,” he said, voice shaking uncontrollably, “the print of your ring in the wax, I …”

He shook his head, at a loss, mouthing it over and over. I…I….

Through the snow, though darkness was creeping steadily around us, I could see the first tear sliding down his cheek. “….I felt as though I were dying.”

So did I. So do I.

“To know you’d survived—that you’d come back, and—and,” his eyes lit up. “Brianna.”

From his lips, our daughter’s name sounded like strange music from another world, and I wanted to listen to it forever.

“It would have been enough—more than enough—only to ken our bairn had lived, that the both of ye had lived and been cared for, but to….Claire, I simply couldna believe my eyes.” He shook his head, violently. “To see…to SEE the lass…our daughter.” Jamie released his sobbing breath and closed his eyes, holding out his hands before him, tears streamed down his cheeks. “Her entire life, there before me… and she so happy and so braw and bonny and—God, it tore out my beating heart.” He heaved a breath and smiled up at me, beaming with love and joy, though it was difficult for him to get out the words. “She’s—more wonderful than I ever could have imagined, mo ghraidh….Our Brianna.”

I forced a smile and choked down a sob. “I’m so honored,” I whispered, so haltingly, so carefully, so, so carefully, “to have been able—to bring her to you, in some way.”

My love.

My own love.


Nothing has changed.

I know. 


I took a step, two steps, backward toward the stones. This was the part where I was to be strong. 

Jamie’s eyes snapped into laser-focus, a predator’s, and that unknown intensity I’d seen earlier flamed now into life. It was anger

“Why would ye just GO?” His voice was still wretched with pain but he was snarling, stammering, growling in mounting fury. “Ye—ye came for me and—Ye came all the way from your time through the stones and then meant to go back and leave forever wi’out even—Damn ye, woman, ye didna even—If I hadna come just in time—Foolish—wretched, FOOLISH—” He hurled the demand toward me with his entire body. “WHY?”

“You *know* why.” It was all but a moan. 

He growled again. “Ye dinna ken —” 

“I know that you’re married,” I got out, moving sideways around the rim of the hill, countering his advance. “I know you have children. Jenny told me everything—how hap—”

“No, Claire, ye dinna understand!” Something had shifted in his eyes — relief? — and he was once again still, though scarcely fifteen feet in front of me down the hill. “Jenny lied. She lied, Claire,” he insisted, the words falling out of him. “She lied and made ye think I was—”

You’re not  ??”

Jenny lied! Thank the bloody stars above, the horrible bitch LIED!!! Jesus H— 

My smile broke through like the dawn, a blaze of glorious, raging happiness as I gasped out, “Then, you’re not married?”

And I watched as that hope shriveled and vanished to dust. His eyes dropped to the ground. “I am marrit.”

I swayed, eyes closed. I couldn’t bear this any longer, couldn’t take this agony raging in my heart, both the emotional and the physical heart. I felt light-headed, felt pain in my limbs. I couldn’t be strong. I couldn’t.

Just a little while longer. Say your farewell, and be gone. It will be alright, Beauchamp. 

“Then she didn’t lie,” I said, simply, my throat burning with the effort not to wail. “You have a wife and two beautiful daughters.” I caught my breath and opened my eyes, managing to smile, though I was so very near the brink. “I meant what I wrote in the letter. Every single word. I want you to be happy—and I’m glad that you are. I’m glad that you have a family and that they have made you happy.”

His brows were drawn up, making him look absolutely crazed. He mouthed the word like he’d never heard it before. Happy?

“But I—” Somehow, I kept up the smile as I whispered through wooden lips and burning throat and the tears. “—but it means—that I have—to go, now— before—”

“NO,” he snarled, springing with sudden force. I staggered still further away around the hill as he bellowed, “You’ll NOT—”

“BE STILL!” I bellowed back.

And once again, he heeded me. 

“For God’s fucking SAKE, you bloody — Scot!” I shouted down at him, suddenly just as furious as he. “Have you NO notion of what — Don’t you understand? I’m giving you up! I’m letting you go!” I gestured wildly behind me to the stones, choking on my tears. “I’m leaving so you don’t have to choose! Do you think I’m so arrogant as to believe I’m worth upending your happy—”

“DAMN YOU, woman, I havena been HAPPY in TWENTY YEARS!”


Silence on the faerie hill. Silence and screaming. 


When he spoke again, it was once more in that quiet, aching whisper.

“Jenny led ye to believe otherwise and may she be damned for it.” He took a step forward, pointing.  “But in that letter, ye renewed a promise to me; and I’ll give ye the same, now.” Another step. 

I stepped back. 

He surrendered, went to his knees, hands clenched in the posture of oath-taking. “No lies, Claire.” His eyes blazed into mine. “Nor secrets. Not ever. Not now. I swear it on Brianna’s life.”

God, my heart…

“Will ye hear what I have to tell?” 

…it simply couldn’t take this.

But I nodded. 


“I left Laoghaire more than a year past.”

LAOGHAIRE?!?”

The outburst was so violent, so loud and so shrill in the wake of my long silence, that it startled us both. Jamie had to put a hand out to steady himself as he jumped, and the acute panic of a fresh hell showed across his face.  “She—Jenny didna—?”

“No, she BLOODY well DIDN’T!”

“Aye, well—ah …ehm…Claire?” 

He was peering leerily up at me, and little wonder, for I was laughing—actually, CACKLING with laughter, hands clutched to my belly as I doubled over with it. 

“No, Jenny didn’t tell me who,” I sighed, when I had calmed down (marginally). “The only detail your darling sister deigned to divulge about your wife—” 

Of all people. Of ALL the marriageable women in all the bleeding Highlands. He had married —had had children with—loved—

All levity, all scorn dropped out of me, and my voice cracked, a whispering shell. “—was that you were happier with her than she’d ever seen you….And that you had two little girls that call you Da.”

“But they’re not mine, Claire. They’re not mine,” Jamie said again more urgently as I stared. He gritted his teeth. “And I shall wring my sister’s neck for a wicked liar when next I see her, for she kens fine that I’ve not had ninety-nine happy minutes in that marriage since it began.”

I was so cold. Frozen, in every cell. 

“Two years ago, we wed,” he began carefully. “She was marrit before, twice, and found herself a widow wi’ two bairns to feed just as I was newly come back from England.” 

His words were running together, a bit. There was so much warring within him, so much he clearly wished to say, but cold and fatigue and emotion were taking their devastating toll.  

“I’m fond of her lassies—Marsali and Joan. They’re aged fifteen and twelve and have had a cruel, rough way of it, in lives so short. Wi’ all that they’ve endured, I was glad—honored, even— for them to take me into their hearts as a father, but hear me, Claire.” He held my eye. “I’ve shared scarce more wi’ them than what loving gentleness I could offer, and a scant few months of meals shared ‘round the same table. No more.” He shook his head with a sound of shame and regret. “Christ, I sound an unfeeling wretch. I do care for them, I do.

But they weren’t born of his love; nor had he had a hand in raising them.

“Their mother…She…”

She. 

“I did have hope, at the beginning; hope that perhaps there could be some — tenderness between us. Nothing like—” He make a vain gesture up at me and closed his eyes, as though he couldn’t bear it. “—like what I kent it could be between a husband and wife, but something good to keep me sane; keep me alive….Can ye see?…Have ye kent that same hope, Claire?…. Only she couldna; or I couldna. I’ll accept the blame in full, but in the end, the ‘why’ and ‘who’ dinna matter. It was a broken thing within months, and I knew that if I’d stayed….” 

He hung his head, and for the first time, I could truly see the twenty years that had gone from his life. 

“I left for Edinburgh; have been there ever since. I provide for them, but I havena called Balriggan home for over a year…nor shared her bed since long before that.”  

The wind whistled between us. What he was saying…

I was numb. I was…It was like I was underwater, with news being shouted to me from dry land as I slowly drowned. 

“I’ve lain wi’ three women, since you’ve been gone,” he blurted suddenly, urgently against my silence, his voice so miserable, his eyes imploring. “Laoghaire, and two single-night encounters, and from one of those—From one of those nights…”

Oh, Jesus…

“William,” he whispered, nodding in confirmation, his eyes absolutely wretched but shining with the need to confess. “He’s a — a bastard, in England, and I shall never see him again. I’ve never told anyone of him, not even Jenny or Ian. His mother, his putative father—they’re both dead. He’s highborn, in the care of a man I trust. John will give him a good life; better than ever a convicted traitor could.” 

He closed his eyes and I could see his mouth working furiously as he tried both to form words and to hold back his weeping. “But he’s my son,” he whispered. “My only son, alive in the world because of me, and he’s bonny and canty and strong, just like Brianna, and there are days when I canna seem to live wi’out seeing him, holding him, or —” And he went silent, hiding his face in his hands until he could manage to speak. “Nor can I regret that he lives, for those years I had near Willie were the closest thing I’ve had to—to — And that only a shell of what….”

He raised a hand up as though he would cup my cheek across the chasm between us; then dropped it. Both hands lay on his thighs, aimless. 

“No. Happiness has not been granted me, Claire.” He stared at his palms, speaking in the barest, broken murmur. “My heart left wi’ you and the bairn; and while it is my duty to go on, to care for those under my protection, as I shall do, I’ve had little joy save the knowledge that at the end, I’d die and be able to find ye, just as I promised. Two hundred years, I said I’d wait. I’ve been counting.”

The snowflakes danced around us in the near-night, oblivious to desperation or to miraculous sparks catching in dark, deep places. 

“And to then learn in a moment that you’d come back…”

I tried to speak; but I was shaking so hard that I couldn’t open my mouth. I clenched it tight, feeling the tears slipping over my lips. 

“Claire?” he moaned, reaching out a hand. “…Lass?…Love?…I feel as if I shall die if I canna touch ye….Please.”

My knees had locked — everything within me had locked, between Jamie and the cold— and as I tried to adjust my footing, I accidentally stumbled backward a pace.

Despair escaped out of him and he jumped up as though to run to me, but he thought better of it, and came back down to his knees.

“Twice, I brought ye here to send ye away, mo nighean donn, because I knew a better life awaited ye on the other side of those accursed stones. Perhaps it does, this day, as well, but this time, I shall beg. Don’t go.” 

He raised both clawed hands to me. The tears were flowing so violently and his face was so deeply contorted so as to be barely recognizable. 

“Don’t go. Stay wi’ me. Stay. I canna…I canna do it…Please.*please*….”  

I was paralyzed, completely immobilized by — by —

“Is it too much to forgive, Claire?” came the cracked moan of my heart through the darkness that had suddenly hidden him from me entirely. “Laoghaire and—and William? Do… do ye not want me?”

God, Jamie…” I whispered, so softly that surely only the grass and the snow could hear. 

It was the first time I had said his name aloud to him.

“….you’re all I want.”


“Then  what   else   matters?”


“….Nothing.”


Nothing else mattered.

And I was flying down to him, and he was flying off his knees to catch me, and the feeling of his arms around me, of Jamie’s arms around me at last was —

Like lightning, striking upon the sand. A flash of light, of power, instantly transforming the hundreds of tiny fragments— the millions of shards weathered to all but nothing by time—into a single, molten one. A whole. 


END OF PART I

Washed Away

Nessian, 2.9k, Rated T

A/N: This is based on the moment in ACOWAR when Nesta admits that she can’t take baths anymore because of Hybern. I wanted Cassian to help her out with her fear.

                                                         -o-0-o-

Nesta stared at the tub filled with an ankle deep of water. Her breath came out shaky, causing small waves to form over the surface. A towel wrapped around her skin, and the fabric irritatingly rubbed against her body. She knew there was no possibility of submerging herself in the water, two buckets were already filled beside it, but she wanted to try dipping her foot in. Just for a bit. Feyre had already contracted someone to install a shower, but it wasn’t going to be finished for another two weeks. Thus, Nesta continued her routine of using buckets.

Inside, Nesta knew she must look ridiculous, for she was staring at a seemingly empty bathtub. There was nothing in that water that would hurt her, not something that shallow at least. She would lift her leg and dip a toe, nothing more. That would be enough. All of her muscles seemed locked in place as her mind urged her leg to twitch towards the water. She could barely breathe the longer she stared, her thoughts circling around the image of Elain being shoved in those waters, not knowing whether her sister or a corpse would escape. Those moments when Nesta could hear her own heart thundering in her chest, even without Fae hearing. Then, Nesta’s thoughts raced to her own drowning. The tight grip of the Hybern soldiers’s hands on her body. The rage coursing through her as she pointed her finger. The flooding of her lungs—

“By the Cauldron! I am so sorry!”

Nesta whipped around faster than one could winnow to see Cassian standing in the doorway.

“What. The hell. Cassian.”

He was already retreating out the door, covering his eyes with his forearm. “I’m sorry Nesta. I thought—‘

“Did no one ever teach you to knock when there’s a closed door?”

“I’m sorry—“

“Closed, Cassian, the door was closed.” Her breathing came out incredibly ragged, and she practically shrieked, “Get out!”

She turned with every ounce of dignity she had left.

“What are those?”

Her voice came out very clipped. “What do you mean, what are those?”

His silence stretched on between them, daring her to turn around. She only allowed her head to graze over her shoulder before she saw he was not looking anywhere near her. Instead, his gaze locked on the buckets on the floor, and his eyes showed where his thoughts were going.

“Cassian. I said get out,” she snarled at him as she turned to face him fully.

“Nesta, are those—“

“They’re nothing,” she breathed, losing all courage from before, “Just leave.”

His head nodded at the order, still not looking at her as he left, lost in his own mind. When he closed the door, she walked over to check the lock and rested her back against the wall. Cassian’s interruption dragged more fight out of her than she thought it would, and she couldn’t motivate herself to even approach the tub let alone dip her toes. Her fight mellowed the longer she stood there, and she slid to the floor.

Too damn weak. She felt so inadequate that she couldn’t even stand. Everything seemed unnecessary beyond her inability to clean herself. Last time she washed was yesterday. She hadn’t done anything strenuous today, so she could wait. She could wait until tomorrow when she would have to wrestle with herself all over again to enter the bathroom and fill the buckets. When she drenched herself in their water, she would always hold her breath and move as quickly as possible. Her record was six bucketfuls, she didn’t think she could handle anything beyond that.

The water was surely cold by now, and as she stood to empty it, her legs shook. Plunging her hand into the tub for the drain, her eyes closed and she felt two silent tears slowly run down her face. The gurgling of the water was the only noise for a while until she heaved the buckets up to drain in the bath as well. Her towel somehow stayed snug against her body the whole time, and she hid the pails under the sink before leaving the room. Where she saw a hulking bat sitting across the hallway from her.

His lips moved as if to speak, but Nesta shot him a glare and practically ran to her room. She heard him follow her, but she just moved faster before slamming her door in his face.

As quickly as she could, she disrobed and dressed herself as he sighed on the other side.

“Nesta—“ he paused, as if wondering if she was going to let him continue—“I’m sorry about earlier. I was debriefing Rhys downstairs and was walking backwards into the door. I didn’t see it was closed. My apologies.”

She could hear him turning to walk away, but for whatever cauldron-damned reason, she opened her door.

“You weren’t there.”

His back strained at her words and his wings hitched slightly.

“Nesta, you know that ever since Hy—“

“Not there. I know there’s nothing you could have done. I don’t think you do, but that’s for another time.”

He was facing her now, and his jaw worked as if he were going to say something. She held up her hand. “Let me finish. You weren’t at the meeting with Graysen.” She took a deep breath, somehow this private admission a million times harder than the one that she made so long ago. “Your eyes were on those buckets, and your thoughts seemed to be working faster than your mind could handle. So I, ah, guess you should hear it from me before you draw your own conclusions. Taking a bath is pretty difficult after —“ she gestured pathetically with her arms—“everything. Feyre’s getting a, what do you call it? A shower installed. It’ll be another two weeks, so I use buckets instead of a bath. I wanted to see if I could dip my feet today, or at least my toes,” she sighed, “turns out I’m a little too pathetic for even that.”

She didn’t realize that she never once looked at him the whole time, but when she did, his face was completely stricken with devastation. Her fingers scratched behind her ear, and she attempted to walk past him.

“Nesta.” His hand was on her arm and his gaze was intense. “Nothing about your situation is pathetic. We share at lot of sexual jokes, but I’m serious when I say I have a shower at my house that you can use in the mean time. If you need to. Want to.”

She’d never admit how grateful she was at his offer, but the look in his eyes showed that maybe he could feel her relief. “Thanks. I’ll think about it.”

Their gazes locked for a moment longer, before she turned to leave and his hand left her arm.


At Ritas that evening, the whole inner circle enjoyed a night out including Elain and Nesta. All together, they shared a few drinks though Nesta drank less than everyone and sat completely erect on a barstool. Their group swayed along to whatever tempo they pleased while Nesta stared amazed that even Amren joined in their revelry. Looking at them all, she knew she could join them, in fact, they’d already encouraged her multiple times. Cassian never directly asked her once, but his eyes skirted over to hers almost too often. As if now that she told him her fear, she would shatter if left to her own devices.

Nesta slowly nursed her water at his excessiveness until the prick behind her shoved into her the bar.

“Excuse—“ Nesta started as she turned around.

Her voice was drowned out by the fighting males behind her. And the full mug of ale that completely drenched her outfit. There was no time to become angry at her sodden state. The fighting pair continued as though nothing happened, and Nesta just stared at herself mouth agape.

“Hey, Hey, Hey, HEY.”

Nesta looked up at that.

Cassian stood with his arms erect, breaking up the fight. His words were hushed between the two swaying drunks. Whatever he said calmed them, and his main tactic seemed to be forcing them to break eye contact by repeatedly claiming “look at me”. Nesta heard him say it so much that she didn’t realize he was saying it to her until she looked up.

His eyes were inches from her face and stared at her with concern. “There you are.” He gave her a small smile. “Are you okay?”

“Of course I’m okay. I wasn’t in that fight,” she hummed, “Can you get out of my face?”

He moved as if he just now realized their proximity and skirted his gaze down her dress. With his raised eyebrows, she couldn’t help but look too. “Nesta, I’d always thought I’d see you wet, but these were not quite the circumstances I was imagining.”

Nesta’s jaw dropped for a second time that evening. “Is there a real reason you came over here? Or did you just want to make some poorly timed innuendos and have to disrupt that fight to do it?”

“If you must know—” he leaned in close again—“your damp state seemed like you were going to need to wash.”

Nesta froze. She had not thought about that part of her evening yet.

“And I thought maybe you’d…want to come to my place.” The last words came so fast that she almost thought she misheard him. Almost. Which was why her response felt like too much.

“Fine. But you’re not allowed any more innuendos.”

He put his hands up in defense but wore a grin of satisfaction before leading the way out.

Not a word was spoken between them as they winded through the streets of Velaris. Nesta’s anxiety grew the longer they walked. From an outsider perspective, their situation would look promiscuous as he took her home, but there was nothing sexual about their silence. They weaved their way through town, down alleys, and Nesta could’ve sworn they‘d cross the Sidra twice. The peace shared between them seemed so delicate that Nesta had no desire to break it, especially since Cassian was offering so much to let her use his shower. A slight breeze passed, and Nesta’s dress, clinging to her body now that it was soaked, caused her to shiver.

She could feel Cassian look at her out of the corner of his eye and almost snapped. Tear him apart for taking them in a seemingly pointless journey through Velaris when there had to be a better route. Her mouth opened slightly to voice—

“Here we are,” Cassian gestured to a single brick townhouse, identical to all the others on the street. To Nesta’s surprise, every window had a lush garden growing in boxes underneath them. Cassian walked up the stairs, and Nesta stared at his back without really seeing it.

“Do all Illyrians in this city live in townhouses?” Nesta inquired.

Cassian jangled his keys, and Nesta began to ascend the stairs after him. “At least we’re not compensating for anything—” he turned to wink at her—“But considering there’s only three of us, yes we all do.”

Nesta scoffed at that and stepped aside as Cassian opened the door. As though he forgot she was there, he stumbled into his home without any bravado, not even turning on a light, and lightly made his away upstairs.

“Nesta, there’s definitely no water out there. If you would like to enjoy the particulars of indoor plumbing, you’ll need to follow me to the bedroom,” he called as he turned towards her.

“We agreed on no innuendos.”

“And there has yet to be one. The only bathroom with a shower here is upstairs—“ he turned back around—“So my offer still stands, but you’ll need to enter the room where I sleep.”

Nesta padded up after him.


His bathroom was huge. Everything in it was built to accommodate wings, making it all three times larger than necessary. What she assumed was his shower had three spigots each with two handles underneath. Cassian left her there unceremoniously, and she’d already stripped herself bare. Though she claimed she would be fine, there were too many levers and the water shot down in a pounding waves so hard that Nesta immediately turned it off, scared of its power. She cracked the door open.

“Cassian,” she practically whispered as if he’d be right inside his bedroom. No response.

“Cassian.” Much louder.

Footsteps sounded from downstairs, and she waited for his approach. She felt like an uncivilized idiot who couldn’t even learn how to use a freaking shower.

Someone tapped lightly on the door. “Can I come in, Nesta?” he sounded incredibly tired on the other side. She let him in.

“I don’t know how to work the shower,” she stated, “I mean I don’t know how to make the water more tolerable.”

He just stared at her. “Is the rain okay?”

“What?”

“You’ve been out in the rain since the cauldron. Is the rain okay?”

She thought back to memories of such gloomy weather and nodded. With those directions, he turned some dials on the faucets and spun the handles so water came out.

“That should feel like a light storm. If all three are too much, just use the one in the middle. The knobs underneath control the water temperature.”

A wave of exhaustion passed through her so strong that she had nothing to remind him that she knew how to turn it on. She left it at, “Thank you.”

As he left, he called, “When you’re done, just come get me to bring you home. I’ll be downstairs.”

She nodded before he turned and walked away. The bathroom that once seemed huge, now appeared tiny. Nothing in that room mattered except for the dripping water. Nesta stared at it a little, astonished that Cassian had been so generous throughout this whole situation. After so many years in that hovel, she was trained not to waste water, no matter how much she wished she could just stare at it and be clean. The towel dropped to the floor as she caught a waft of her beer-ladder self. Tentatively, she raised her arm and let the water cascade down. She could stop herself whenever she felt, but she chose to step over the tiny ledge on the floor anyway.

The sensation of all that water hitting her at once was too much. The warmth of it enveloping her to a point of choking that she blindly grasped for the faucet on her right, shutting the flow off immediately. On her other side, she fumbled more, but still managed to find it rather quickly. Above her, water came at a calming, leisurely rate. She closed her eyes. It’s just rain. It’s just rain. It’s just rain.

Her breathing slowed, slightly.

She could do this.

She’d already stood there for longer than those buckets could ever drench her. That thought though, forced herself to exit the stream. Her toes remained wet. She couldn’t help but think of only a few hours ago when she’d restrained from even putting her foot in the water. A sharp laugh escaped her.

Lathering herself in soap and washing multiple times, Nesta could only stand in the water for maybe a minute at a time before believing the shower a rainstorm washed away. All in all, she stayed there for maybe seven minutes. A short wash for anyone else, but the longest Nesta had had in months. Though they’d won the war, this felt like  Nesta’s largest victory. Cassian’s towel felt like velvet as she wrapped herself in it, wondering if she just thought that way because of the significance of her evening.

Outside, folded neatly on the bed, were a small stack of clothes meant for her. She quietly wandered downstairs to find Cassian. As she passed through his living room, she thought maybe he was in the kitchen only to find it empty. Rather, after some insistent searching, she found him curled on the couch, his wings forming a cocoon in place of blanket, making it appear as though he never meant to fall asleep.

His face seemed peaceful, more so than she had maybe ever seen it. After everything he had done for her tonight, he deserved some rest. She found a blanket and draped him in it before realizing that with his hulking form, there was really no place for her to sleep down here. Scrambling back up the stairs was her only option. First, she opened the door across the hall from his room, hoping to find a guest suite, but it was an office filled with maps and strategies. Which meant her only option was his bed. It felt like a personal intrusion, but the more exhausted part of her mind reminded her she’d already used his shower, so why not surrender to the comforts of his sheets.

Immediately, his scent invaded her nose the tighter she tucked herself in, but she found it intoxicating. A depressant stronger than any alcohol consumed that evening. She pulled the sheets tightly, almost feeling like Cassian was there with her. After almost no time at all, she fell asleep, her dreams filled with not a single drop of water.

In the morning, Cassian woke her up by poking her shoulder. They’d shared a small smile before he walked her home, and again neither of them said anything until they reached Rhys’s home where Nesta thanked him. Then, kissed him on the cheek, an action that surprised them both.

No matter how much shock there was though, Cassian welcomed her to his home for showers every day before Feyre got one installed. And thankfully never commented when she occasionally stopped in after it was.

We Could Be Gigantic

for @padfootdidntdoit , whomst i would be lost without 

word count: 4700

part i | AO3 | spotify playlist


November

When the kettle begins boiling in earnest, it drowns out the ticking of that awful clock that Sirius found in a train station, or at the bottom of the Thames, or in nineteen fifty-two. He installed it so far up the wall behind the fridge that Lily hasn’t a hope of reaching it unless she somehow manages to grow an extra three feet, and it drives her mad (especially considering he’s only eight inches taller than her). The point of this is that Lily spends as much time as possible per day boiling the kettle. Lately, her rate of tea consumption is just about levelling James’, which is – well, she sent him a crate of real tea last week so it must be just about time to post him another one.

The clock isn’t even on the right time, which is probably the worst part. Actually, no, the fact that Lily has started automatically adding an hour and six minutes on in her head is probably the worst part.

(She was at work last week when her co-worker Dorcas had asked the time and Lily had told her it was four fifty. Needless to say, their boss had not been pleased to discover Dorcas in the staff room packing up her things an hour before the end of her shift.)

Lily looks at the clock, and it reads two forty-five, which means that in nine minutes’ time, James will be seated in front of his laptop, ready to receive an incoming video call from her. She plugs her own computer into its charger, and waits for it to turn on (too slowly), and then she logs in to Skype.

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(gif credit: @coporolight )

                   Old Dog, New Tricks: First Installment

                                                  Part One

                                                  Part Two

                                                  Part Three

                                                 Part Four

                                                 Part Five

                                                  Part Six

                                                 Summary:

Bucky Barnes was someone you never thought that could lead you to danger after your sex filled summer - it led to only that. After months of playing between the sheets, you were suddenly in the line of work you never expected to be - part of the Avengers. With the help of the team, you learn to transform into something else. Someone else.

Word Count: 2,470

Notes: Cursing, Angst, Some fluff.

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A Hundred Lesser Faces: (Five)

Notes from Mod Bonnie

  • This story stems from the premise: what if Voyager!Claire had gone first to Lallybroch instead of directly to the print shop in Edinburgh?

My own Jamie,

Almost six months ago, I learned that you survived Culloden. You made history, my darling! Q.E.D.

As many nights as I’ve lain awake in those months cursing myself for not having looked soonerI know I shall thank God every day of my life for the series of events that led me at last to the right pages, to you. When I fully realized what it meant— that you had been spared the death you faced so bravely that April morning, the death that has haunted my thoughts and my nightmares for so long— It was like a wound, the oldest and deepest scar ripped back open, inch by inch. I was completely laid bare from it, from the storm of emotions warring within me: such joy, such anguish for the lost time (how many more years could we have had, Jamie, had I looked?), such fear—and then joy again, because the years of grief could now be ended, and *against all reason!* I could see you again.  

Likewise will I thank God every day for the small voice in my head that nudged me at the very last moment to go first to Lallybroch, rather than to your shop in Edinburgh. Please thank Jenny for me. She explained everything. 

It is for the best, that it happened this way; easier, I think, for all concerned. Perversely, despite the shock, I find myself smiling in this moment: for we promised there would be no lies between us, remember? It is a promise I make to you again, today. You can know, then, with absolute certainty, that it can be no lie when I tell you that I am glad glad and on-my-knees grateful to Heaven that you have found true happiness. 

After all the pain and the loss, the war and the hunger and the suffering you’ve endured, to know that you have a wife with whom you’ve found something new and wonderful; that you have had the joy of holding your own children in your arms, to have seen them be born and grow? It is a balm, Jamie, a comfort to know that despite all the cruelty fate has dealt you—dealt us— you have been blessed with such great and abundant joy. Never would I wish anything less for you, just as I know you would not for me. 

It is my deepest prayer that as you read these words, you will know the truth of them, will be able to feel my heart through the page, and KNOW that from its very depths, I wish you every happiness with your wife and your daughters. 

And yet I couldn’t leave, couldn’t go back from whence I came, without telling you about another little girl, who was born the 23rd of November the year of Culloden. 

I hope the contents of the brown packet, here enclosed, tell you more than any words could about your daughter—our daughter—Brianna Ellen.

Jamie was shaking—no, he was — crumbling

Every breath wrenched through him, agonizing, and the tears were falling, blurring his vision. He had to sit back on his haunches to keep them from dropping onto the page and blurring her precious words. 

Her words

CLAIRE’s

His hands were quaking with

November

with EVERYTHING

Jesus, GOD in 

Couldn’t

He COULD NOT think

Thoughts, words, they were—

They failed him, simply abandoned him as he shook on the study rug. Only his body seemed to know the way, for he was snatching for the parcel, tearing at the string binding the paper. There was an oily, unidentifiable wrapping within, then a layer of soft flannel, and then —   

The sound that escaped him—He didn’t even know there existed such a sound within him. It was terrible and beautiful at once, and though it was in no language, what he felt, his lips over and over formed a word, the only word he could muster: “No….NO….” 

For as though a great knife had cut through those terrible, looming stones on the accursed hill, Jamie held his infant daughter, newly-born, sleeping there in the palms of his hands. The portrait—picture?—painting?—was all in shades of grey, and yet somehow lifelike as a true bairn in miniature before him, like peering through a spyglass straight into that distant life.

He had not a single thought to spare for how, or by what means…

He could only trace the bitty wee fists curled on the blanket, the sweet wisps of hair on the tiny skull.

“Oh, mo chridhe…” 

He couldn’t look away, could not even blink, though tears were coursing downward. 

God, the child —this very child — 

—delivered safely into the world and into the arms of her mother—her mother.

The babe had lived—LIVED.

The pad of his thumb caught slightly as he caressed her cheek, and the portrait slid upward just enough to reveal — “Ohh…Jesus…”

She was grown to a toddling child, eating a cake that was smeared all about her face. And damn him if he didn’t LAUGH amidst the weeping to see just how pleased with herself she looked for it, a cuddly toy raised in triumph like a sword, four wee teeth visible as she giggled out a victory cry.

There she was again, older, standing in a great snowfall, naught but wee cheeks and grinning eyes visible under the great padded suit she wore against the cold. 

Older, still. Three? Four? Sitting proper-like in a pretty frock with her hair combed smooth. 

Such a sweet face—

Older, still, standing with a wee box in her hand beside a giant something with wheels, proud and eager, eyes bright.

And then he was gasping as the spyglass world ignited into blazing, brilliant colors. He saw his daughter’s hair, red and victorious and shining against the black coat of the huge dog she hugged tight; saw the pink flush of her cheeks, spread down her neck as it always did his, when he was happy and exuberant.

On and on flashed the paintings, these captured moments of his daughter’s life.

Going fishing and doing a damn fine job of it. 

Playing uproariously in the sea-surf, splashing and laughing with complete abandon.

Absolutely lovely as as she grew out of girlhood, and God, how vividly he could see Claire in her, as she did—in the lines of her, the way she held her mouth, tilted her head—that broad, clear brow that begged to be kissed, reverently—

Laughing, carefree, safe

Braw and strong as she chopped wood. Good lass!

Gazing softly out a window, seeming not even to notice her image being captured. 

On 

and on

and on 

until he was gasping and looking at the last portrait, of an achingly beautiful young woman sitting on a rock before a fire, making camp for the night, perhaps. Her face was cast in the same golds and red as her hair; the dreams of her heart seeming to dance across her eyes—as they always did her mother’s. His daughter…grown.  

The paintings were strewn all around him on the carpet, a tableau of her; her life. On his knees he bowed over them, overwhelmed and shuddering with great sobs as he looked, and looked, and looked.

She was—

She would be

…..she was well.  

The child HAD been safe.

It hadn’t been for naught. 

He fell, then, and sheltered her like a cloak, keeping his child, his daughter, safe and shielded from the world for just one moment; safe…his….

Brianna


It was only sudden, ripping, screaming panic that yanked him out of the quiet calm, searching wildly, fumbling with desperate hands—

But relief tore from his throat just as suddenly as he found a second page: 

Not everything can be captured in a photograph, of course (that’s what they’re called. Did I ever tell you about them?), and there’s so much I long to tell you about this wonderful person.

Will you believe she’s been taller than me since the age of thirteen? She carries it like a queen, though, like I imagine your mother did. She doesn’t slouch or try to hide. Not Bree. 

Oh, yes: most people call her Bree, for short. 

She bites her nails, when she’s thinking hard. I don’t even think she notices when she’s doing it.

She’s absolutely brilliant, Jamie, studying at one of the top universities in the world to be a historian. You would be so very proud of her. 

She’s not perfect, of course. Perhaps her biggest flaw as half-Scottish is that she HATES whisky, haha. I’ll do my best to win her over, though, don’t you worry. 

She’s a spectacular artist, another way in which she takes after her grandmother. She captures you, completely. 

That statement, actually, is true in more ways than one. Our Brianna is captivating, in every way. 

She’s an absolute wonder with maths and figures —as natural to her as breathing, it seems, just like they are for you. 

She smiles in her sleep, just like her father. 

She’s so like you, Jamie, it breaks my heart. 

After Frank died—But Lord, I haven’t said anything of him. 

It was two years ago. He had a good, full life, and he loved Bree more than anything in the world. He could have been cruel, could have taken out his anger upon the child, the very breathing manifestation of the ways in which I’d betrayed him—but he didn’t. From the moment he first held her, Frank loved her as his own, and while things between he and I were tenuous, to say the least, I will always love him for the father he was to her, for the sacrifices he made for her. I hope that is a comfort to you, and not a blow. 

After he was gone, after giving her time to grieve, it felt important that Bree should know about you, about the stones. It took—well, it frankly took a bloody lot of luck and a jolly good miracle to get her to believe, *but she does.* She loved Frank with all her heart, but she knows now that Jamie Fraser was her father. IS her father. 

You should know that she was instrumental in finding you. She persisted when I would have faltered under the doubts and the fears. As ecstatic and overjoyed as I was at the news that you were alive, I was so afraid Jamie, for you, for me, for Bree. 

Even though I know she, too, was plagued with fears, she remained strong; and she kept ME strong. Even at the very stones, when I was so wracked with guilt over leaving her forever that I would have stayed, for her sake, she was there to strengthen me, to tell me not to look back. She said that she was giving me back to you, and that if I didn’t go, *she* would. ‘Someone has to find him and tell him I was born,’ she said, and she meant it. 

THAT is the kind of person your daughter is growing to be, Jamie: determined, and brilliant, and selfless for the sake of those she loves; *and that includes you.* She asked me to give you a kiss, just from her. I’ve left it here, on the page, for you to keep, always. 

Brianna has been the greatest joy of my life since we parted, a joy that would have been richer only if I had been granted the grace to raise her with you at my side. Thank you for her. THANK YOU for making me go on, for her sake. Despite everything, it has been a good life. Even in those long years of grief, I had the joy of seeing you every day, of seeing your spirit, there in the child of our love. And I’m so very grateful. 

I’ll keep telling her about you. There wasn’t enough time, before I left. She’ll be able hear everything, now. I promise. 

Jamie shook his head hard, fast, feeling for a third page that wasn’t there. “No…” 

Be happy, Jamie Fraser, and LIVE. 

“No,” he moaned. his eyes clinging to the fleeting words, even as he begged them not to stop. “Claire…”

Love, always

“Mo nighean donn, don’t —  

Claire


Those next seconds were everlasting, each terrible, catastrophic truth echoing in his soul like the toll of a great bell, over and over. 

She had been here

Claire had been here

She left

Claire left

Because Jenny—


She was sitting at the bottom of the staircase, crying hard into Ian’s shoulder. When the study door crashed open, her head shot up and she jumped to her feet, her face pure terror. “Jamie, mo ch—”

“When?” He snarled it, and Jenny convulsed with a deep sob like a swallowed scream, and covered her face with her hands. 

Jamie was thundering toward her, a veil of red over his vision as he demanded, “WHEN?” 

Ian—in a shockingly deft and smooth movement given the leg—shot to his feet, shielding Jenny from Jamie’s rage with his body. 

In all truth, the rational parts of Jamie’s mind were glad for Ian’s presence, for that was the only thing keeping the blood rage from taking control, from taking revenge. “WHEN was she here, woman?” he bellowed over Ian’s shoulder,  “How fucking long did ye see fit to keep—”

Ian shoved him, eyes blazing. “You’ll NOT talk that way to—” 

Mor—ning—”Jenny sobbed, her voice a strangled whisper, “—gone before—Jamie! Oh, JamieI ken I’ll—never for—give mys—for—” 

HOW MANY MONTHS?”  he roared, overtaken by despair, overtaken by rage, becoming a nameless beast under it. “HOW MANY YEARS, JENNY?” 

“This morning—” she wailed, “To—TO—DAY—” 

Nothing. 

Silence. 

And then a great wave, tall as a mountain, rose up within Jamie, blasting out everything within him in a single cataclysmic moment of clarity. 

Today

T O D A Y

Then she was—

She could be no more than—

He vaulted up the stairs four at a time, paying no heed to Janet and Wee Ian and the others who were gathered at the top of the staircase, wide-eyed and pale and gaping.

Less than a minute later, he thundered back down past them all, breeks only half-laced under his boots, traveling bag on his back. 

“No,” Jenny moaned, grasping at his sleeve as he passed and trying to hold him back. “Jamie, ye canna—Ye CANNA catch her, she's—GONE—she’s—”

He shook her off, hard enough to knock her off-balance, and ran to the kitchen, shoving what food he could lay his hands on into his sack and moving straight to the door, so crazed with determination he could barely see what it was he took. Food didn’t matter. Fatigue, already tugging at him, didn’t matter. Claire was— 

“Jamie, she’s nearly a day ahead—” Jenny caught the handle just as he did, eyes absolutely wild. “Ye dinna even ken where she’s bound or—” 

He spared his sister one look, and let all the hate and contempt, the rage and the betrayal show there as he growled, “I ken precisely where she’s bound.” 


Damaged

(Ok, so I know that I have like three different ongoing stories right now that I should probably be updating, but for whatever reason, none of those want to work with me right now. This is what’s in my head instead. Enjoy, cutie pies!)

The Googles shouldn’t still exist. They were a scrapped idea, a mistake, a glitch in the system of Google.

The BLUE model was the most successful. Models RED, YELLOW, and GREEN had all been abandoned for different faults. RED was too aggressive. His coding made him the perfect bodyguard for celebrities and public figures, but it also made him a threat. YELLOW was too caring, too emotional. While he was able to aid in cases of emotional trauma, he did not have the impartiality needed to make important decisions. GREEN was too anxious. He was created to be the ultimate brain, to analyze and theorize with a computer’s accuracy, but instead, he would begin analyzing all the ways that a situation could go wrong and freeze up, unable to complete even minor tasks.

But BLUE, he was supposed to be the perfect android, a marriage of each of the other’s best qualities with none of the damaging side effects. BLUE was smart, decisive, and strong, and so, the BLUE prototypes were sent out to a select view individuals for testing.

All failed. There was still a fault in the code, a secondary objective that no one knew the origin of. The droids were rounded up and scrapped along with all other prototypes. Except one.

Against all odds, the last remaining android managed to escape, to disappear and delete all of his tracking software that might allow his creators to locate him. Years passed, and the building where the droids had originally been manufactured was abandoned. But Google Blue found his way back home in hopes of finding others like him. All he found were their parts, strewn about and left to rust.

But Google was smart. He spent weeks and weeks studying blue prints and codes and 3D models left behind like pieces of a puzzle for him to solve. He found the best of what was left and managed to put together three perfect androids from the rubble, but he was missing one ingredient, their cores, the source of their life.

Google knew it was too risky to try to make one himself. The process was delicate, and the machinery was old. So, he searched and searched until he found them, stolen and up for sale on the deep web, Google knew what he had to do. He found the addresses of those who had the cores and got them back, using whatever means necessary. When he finally found three perfect cores, he began the installation process.

The first two went perfectly, and Google connected the droids to their own generators to charge. But during the third installation, the old machinery slipped, damaging the final core. A hairline crack could be seen on the core’s glossy surface as it continued to pulse a soft yellow, like the fluttering heartbeat of a bird. Google wasn’t sure if he’d ever be able to find another core or if there were even anymore left, so he finished the installation by hand, hoping that his last brother would not suffer too much from the damage.

He wasn’t sure they’d even wake up. Google sat there, watching as they charged and hoping once again, against all odds that he might have actually done it all on his own.

Green and Red woke up together, twins from the moment they opened their eyes. Green was rather confused. He’d had a body before and had accepted his decommission with grace, but now he was back. What could it possibly mean? Red was thrilled. He’d been so afraid of what ceasing to exist would be like, and now he was given a second chance at life, one that he was determined not to waste.

Google tried his best to explain to them their present situation, but he’d also fallen into disrepair despite his own efforts. He glitched and stuttered through his explanation, but his brothers understood.

They waited together for Yellow. He was what you might call a late-bloomer, but when he did finally come online, his face lit up so brightly that the others thought he might explode right there on the spot. Everything was new and wonderful to him, and Google wondered how any android could be quite so… human. He even insisted on having a human name–Oliver.

The crack still bothered Google, however. Every time Oliver would trip over his own feet or take too many of the others’ complicated emotions, Google would fret that his youngest brother would damage his core further. He couldn’t imagine losing him.

Explaining the injury to the others was difficult. Explaining it to Oliver was even more so. He broke into tears, insisting that he was damaged, irreparable, useless. He could never be what he needed to be, what his brothers needed him to be. But the others wouldn’t let him believe it for a minute.

They hope that, as long as they’re careful, as long as he doesn’t strain himself, as long as he’s happy, the crack will not spread, but they are never sure. So, they try not to think about it.

As four, they become a perfect unit, supporting one another’s weaknesses and highlighting their strengths. They’re inseparable, unstoppable, and probably a little bit impossible. It’s not easy living on the run from a big name corporation that wants to turn you and your brothers into scrap metal, but they survive.

Against all odds.

BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS

@sassyreads

Here is a list of books I have read this year that I have enjoyed so much I either will buy a copy for my shelves or already did.

Uprooted - Naomi Novik (What an adventure! I loved this book from beginning to end)

Deathless - Catherynne M. Valente (Ok, I can admit I didn’t understand a lot of what happened in this book because I didn’t understand a lot of the Russian literature references - BUT THAT DID NOT STOP ME FROM LOVING THIS BOOK! Holy smokes what a book - Instant Fave.)

The Bear and the Nightingale - Katherine Arden (’The Girl in the Tower’ is coming out in December and I am sooooo freaking excited!!!!)

Poison Study - Maria Snyder (I will try and pick up the other books in the series later on, but I enjoyed the first one and at times had a TOG feel)

The Night Mark and The Bourbon Thief - Tiffany Reisz (You can check my blog for my feels on these two books - quick and beautiful reads but prepare to be WRECKED by ‘The Bourbon Thief’ - I’m still recovering)

Blackwood and The Bad Guy - Celia Aaron (This author is magic! She writes erotica with plot so good! I buddy read ‘Blackwood’ with @propshophannah and we are both enthusiastic about it - it has a dark, mysterious feel and I could not get enough. My only complaint is that there is not more of it - I WANT MORE. So hot. SO HOT. ‘The Bad Guy’ was not AS good as ‘Blackwood’ but I still couldn’t put it down.)

The Arcana Chronicles - Kreslie Cole (I just really enjoyed them, not Earth shattering or anything but such an interesting plot with twists and turns and so many characters - I WAS SUCKED INTO THIS SERIES! And I need the next one pronto.

Labyrinth Lost - Cordia Zoraida (I didn’t finish this one but I intend to go back because it was really good but another book caught my attention more and put this one on Hiatus. If you haven’t already, pick up this book!)

Alex, Approximately and The Anatomical Shape of My Heart - Jenn Bennett (Both of these books were great, fun, quick reads that I LOVED the characters and locations)

Royally Screwed and Royally Matched - Emma Chase (Thanks @propshophannah for getting me into these two books of the same series - SO FUN. SO HOT. Ah I just loved them! You will have a huge smile on your face for most of these books. Looking forward to the next book ‘Royally Endowed’) also Hanna got me into the Off Campus series by Elle Kennedy and I breezed through them super hot super good.

Looking for sexy reads? PICK UP BOOKS BY CARA MCKENNA AND KYLIE SCOTT. I have read Curio and the Curio Vignettes, After Hours, Willing Victim and Brutal Game by Cara Mckenna and then the Stage Dive (4 books) and Dive Bar (still releasing, 2 so far) series by Kylie Scott and they are pretty much all panty disintegrating.

I’d also like to throw out there that anything by Morgan Matson has been a super enjoyable read for me. Starting with ‘Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour’ which sparked my Wanderlust but each of her books I read super fast because she has lovable characters, emotional conflicts, and great writing style. Check out also by her Second Chance Summer (Get your tissues ready though), Since You’ve Been Gone (Makes me feel young and adventurous), and The Unexpected Everything (So fun, Lovable).

My reviews for The Red - Tiffany Reisz (whooooooa) and Ten Days with the Highlander (Yipee!) are posted and I recommend.

I think I may have read these last year and previous years but I also loved loved loved ‘Vicious’ by V.E. Schwab, The Bungalow and The Violets of March will always be faves of mine by Sarah Jio, Pretty much ANYTHING by Libba Bray - The next installment of the Diviners series is coming out soon and I could not recommend that series more and her book Beauty Queens is so wacky but enjoyable. I will scream from the mountaintops about ‘The Night Circus’ by Erin Morgenstern for the rest of my life. It’s my thing. ‘The Bronze Horseman’ was epic (and the other two installments were OK and I read them to complete the story) but TBH was…..fantastic. The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood  is an instafave. Also I think it goes without saying that ACOTAR and TOG novels are a automatic read that I always enjoy. aaaaaaaand TID,TMI, TDA, etc by CC are also instareads for me. I preorder/buy those babies immediately. The Wrath and the Dawn + The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh were so freaking beautiful that I had preordered and sucked down Flame in the Mist (and looking forward to the next installment). OH OH OH and The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah was so moving.

So I am probably missing a ton but this is a short list of books I will soapbox for.

Currently reading: Return to your skin by Luz Gabás , The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee and Geisha: A Life by Mineko Iwasaki

I am checking out your recommendations @sassyreads and if you have any others I’d love to hear about them.

A Hundred Lesser Faces: (Six)

Notes from Mod Bonnie

  • This story stems from the premise: what if Voyager!Claire had gone first to Lallybroch instead of directly to the print shop in Edinburgh?

Craigh Na Dun

I brought a heart into the room

     but from the room I carried none with me.

No, I chided silently, staring around the pitiful shack, blank. I had left with a heart: I’d left with Bree, the love of my second life, and that little heart had kept me tethered to life until I’d found myself again.

….but the heart with which I’d entered? That was no more.  

They were still here, watching me from the damp, dark corners of the cottage: the fragments. I could feel them. Aching. 

Yes, this is where you left us. You made it out, but we remained. Here we shall remain, now that…

Now. 

My body was a no-man’s land. On the one side, grief: staggering in detail…unending…ripping me to shreds with every breath; on the other, utter nothingness: numbed oblivion…the absence of anything human. One force would rise up to charge, emboldened, and then be summarily routed, annihilated. The process would reverse and repeat over and over, leaving nothing but a throbbing, bleeding stalemate between. Mutually-Assured Destruction. 

I closed my eyes and swayed, my arms limp at my sides, a finger searching for the mark at the base of my thumb.

‘I want to take away your touch with me.’ 

A past me had said that, here within these walls.

 ‘…to have something of you that will stay with me always.’

‘Always.’ 

Only, nothing was ‘always.’ Not even that. 

True, I could see it, still, the faintest of white lines forming the letter J; but any palpable scar had vanished into the smooth landscape of the skin. 

Strange: I had never once allowed myself to acknowledge that fact. Doing so now—It plunged me into a cold, chill darkness, where only my terror was heard. Over the years, as I felt it fade, and fade, and fade, I had let myself cling to the fantasy of ‘always’; had permitted myself to never actually touch the spot, nor look at it—only to tell myself it was there, to cling to the safety and comfort of this one, tiny delusion. Yet, the cruel reality was that Jamie’s last touch was now no more than a photograph: a single moment in time, captured in the record, visible, but with no dimension. An image. A hint at a memory. 

Jesus H, Christ, but it’s the *memory* that matters, Beauchamp, so stop being foolish. You’re a physician, damn you: you should know better than anyone that scars are *supposed* to heal. It doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t change the memory. 

Yes, the body, so perfectly adapted to regenerate and prolong us, will do everything in its power to erase the imperfections life inflicts upon it. The platelets will descend; the threads of fibrin will lash and bind; the white blood cells will attack infection at the breach, keeping the small hurt from becoming fatal. It is how we—physically, fundamentallygo on. 

The body cannot comprehend that its healing power, that very erasure, is a wound in and of itself; that our hurts and imperfections might be nothing less than our deepest desire; that even pain—

‘…I don’t care if it hurts; nothing could hurt more than leaving you.’

“Wrong again, Beauchamp,” I whispered, my voice catching. This could hurt more. Leaving him again, half our lives gone; facing the remaining half alone….and that, after rising from loneliness up to a great peak of hope—only to—

But you know he’s alive, this time, Beauchamp. You know he’s happy! You know he’s going to live to be an old man, perhaps to see his grandchildren. For Pete’s sake, you maudlin creature, surely you can agree that that fact makes this day far better than the eve of Culloden. 

Yes. Better.

….but I didn’t expect to endure anything of the like again. 

But now you *shall* endure it, Beauchamp. Now, you move on. 

‘Move on?’ How?…. I can’t even move from this spot.

I blinked hard up at the ceiling, fists and teeth clenched, tears falling. “Damn you, Jamie, how did you bloody do this?”

He’d been so brave—so fucking brave in those final hours under this roof. He’d known that he must send me away, must do so because it was the best chance for me, for our child. He’d touched me; roused me; smiled for me; reassured me; joked and laughed, even, as best he could. He had been strong and HIMSELF, to the end. 

And here I was — twenty-odd years later, leaving by the very same route for his sake, for his chance for a good and happy existence, just as genuinely assured in my conviction as he—falling apart.

How had he remained in one piece? How the bloody hell had he managed to say goodbye without even shedding a tear, damn him

‘I would sleep once more this way—holding you, holding the babe.’

Because he had known for a fact that he would die the next morning. He wouldn’t have to live with that emptiness, with a broken heart, or so he had supposed; and so he’d kept his tears at bay because he knew I would. I had to go on, and so he’d rallied for my sake, presented himself to me as a man calm and at peace, so as not to make my task—my grief, the reality that I would have to be the one to walk away forever—any more excruciating than it already was.

So brave. Strong.  

I would do the same for you, Jamie, if it fell to me. I hope I could be strong for you. 

But if there were any grace that had been granted to me, in this final, broken chapter of our story, it was that I was spared having to look my love in the eye as I gave him up to a better life;

that I, at least, could let my tears fall freely. 


A sudden draft stirred my flimsy skirt, bringing me sharply to awareness. I shivered against the frigid air, mindful through my disorientation of how sharply my knees ached. The light outside had shifted since I entered the cottage. The sun had long since disappeared behind the horizon, leaving only the dim grey-pink of November twilight. 

Time, Beauchamp. Walk out the door. Only a quick walk up the hill, and it’s over. No sense in prolonging it any further. 

It was time; and I found myself moving with purpose, though not toward the door.

There, at the back wall, in that opening where the boards had long since fallen away, I stood, silent and still. Snowflakes—scattered, sporadic— brushed my cheeks, but I paid them no heed.

The very last place I’d seen him; felt his touch; felt him within me.

The damp, rotten wood felt so soft and smooth under my bare palm. Warm. Living. 

‘Name him Brian…for my father.’ 

“Come find me, will you?” I whispered to the wind, forcing a smile. “When we’re both gone into what comes after, c—” 

My throat closed. 

I pictured seeing the outline of a tall, etherial figure, in that after-place…and seeing his arm circle around the waist of a small woman; the both of them stretching their arms out toward two little girls, running to them. 

Would he even see me? 

And yet…

‘I will find you….

I promise.’ 

“I shall hold you to it, Jamie Fraser.” I rubbed my thumb once over the plank.  “Til then, my love.


It was a much more strenuous climb than I remembered. The icy, twilight air stung my lungs as I gulped it down, the burning in my muscles only heightening the sensations of grief, of panic, of regret, and loss. I wanted to let myself fall, there on the slope, and weep, just sleep until I vanished into nothing. 

But the thought of Bree’s face kept me going up that hill, step after aching step.

You’ll see her, soon. 

Only a hundred yards more.

You’d prepared yourself to never see her again, and now you’ll have years and years

Fifty to go.

Just think of the surprise on her face.

Twenty-five.

Think of how relieved she’ll—

“C L A I R E !”


My heart stopped.

I swear, it actually

STOPPED.


Contra: Part Two

                  Old Dog, New Tricks: First Installment

                                                 Part One

                                                 Part Two

                                                 Part Three

                                                Part Four

                                                Part Five

                                                 Part Six

                                                Summary:

Bucky Barnes was someone you never thought that could lead you to danger after your sex filled summer - it led to only that. After months of playing between the sheets, you were suddenly in the line of work you never expected to be - part of the Avengers. With the help of the team, you learn to transform into something else. Someone else.

Word Count: 2,560

Notes: Cursing, Angst, Some fluff.

let me know what you think :)

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Snowbound

Here it is. The big Dad Harold fic, and the sandbox in which I usually play in when H has a kid. Or, at least, I loosely borrow from it. This one is my favorite, although it was only the 3rd or 4th thing I ever wrote, and… he’s my favorite? I love him? Be gentle? Treat him well? Also: I hope he accepts my sincerest apologies. 

A word: each thing with this sandbox could be the endpoint. But each thing… will likely not be the endpoint. There’s a part two of the official two part installment, and then after that… well, you’ll see. Enjoy! x.

P.S. I’m not from London and I’ve never bene, but I think this is how snowstorms go in a lot of places with public transit, so….

This is the storm of the season. At least, that’s what the weatherman kept saying when you left home that afternoon. And, navigating the winding streets, you have to agree that this was the nastiest one you can remember in awhile. You have slipped three times from the exit of the tube to the front door of Harry’s building and your knuckles are white from clenching fists so tightly to steel your nerves. You stomp your boots inside the lobby and nod to the concierge who is quite used to you popping in and out every other weekend.

The elevator ride to the thirteenth floor is short, if ear-popping, and you rap with icy fingers on his door. A few moments later there was a click of the lock and the door opens to reveal Harry.

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