“FOOTBALL GAME? IS that the one where they hit the big, orange ball with the bat?” Your boyfriend is a mass of sharp angles and jutting bones atop your floral-patterned bedding. From the outsider’s vantage, one would say he emanates an air of discomfort—beanie still crowning his head, ragged leather jacket blanketing his shoulders, even his feet remain tucked inside his worn boots—but, to your knowledge, this is his highest state of relaxation. Iron rods have materialized from a decade and a half of misery, guarding his gelid heart, and shielding him from curious outsiders. He says there’s something special about you; you think that’s how you managed to slip through the gates.
“You’re cute.” The reflection of a boy in your vanity mirror winks. Involuntarily do your lips ascend into a pillowy crescent. “But seriously, it’s not my scene.” And then aforementioned lips descend.
Steely optics seek out his tangible form, goading you into pivoting on the balls of your feet. “What does that mean?”
His brows graze his hairline in a terse, first meeting. “It’s not my scene? It’s not my thing? I don’t do school events?” The questionable lilt that punctuates every last statement plucks on your frangible nerves. Of course Jughead doesn’t like school events, one glimpse of him is all the confirmation necessary, but he does like you, and you like school events—a message you attempt to convey with your facial ticks.
He isn’t comprehending.
“O-kay? And I don’t do Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys, but do I not sit with you at Pop’s every night, going through evidence I don’t give a damn about to help you write your novel?” Baby pink nails cut into a curling palm, and—
—Oh, he’s getting it now.
Jughead tucks pallid digits underneath his cap, massaging the skin usually hidden underneath. “That’s different, Y/N.”
“How so?” you persist.
“Uh, I dunno, ‘cause my shit actually has a purpose?”
It’s not raining, but the cold seeps into your uniform and laces through your bones.
“As opposed to cheerleading, right? That’s what you’re trying to say? The River Vixens’ only purpose is to raise tents in pants?”
“Well, I wouldn’t call that a purpose since it’s a considerably easy feat,” he murmurs through clenched teeth and stiffened jaw. Your spine straightens—an aftershock of, well, shock. You’d find it comedic how his gaze enlarges, his sardonic bite and exactly who was being subjected to it dawning on his cognition, if anger wasn’t coiling around the mass of your stomach. Jughead displays both palms in a bid of surrender. “That came out wrong.”
“There’s a right way for something like that to come out?”
Now, you lift a hand. Your boyfriend’s focal point snags on the half-moon indents that desecrate your palm. “No. No.” The wear and tear of six months spent with a boy who isn’t as immersed in your interests as you his finally laps over you. He can’t attend one game, not one for you. “I’m good at cheer. I’m really good.”
The raven-locked boy lopes long legs over the edge of the bed, sitting from his previous lackadaisical position. “I know that.”
“How could you? From mandatory pep rallies? You bring your laptop to those, Jughead.”
He doesn’t disregard this fact, opting to offer a soft “I stop typing when you perform.” He thinks it’s a compromise; you think it’s a cop out.
You swing (literally, swing) into action and your bedroom’s threshold is the end-goal. Jughead tosses himself off the mattress, thrusting himself in front of your mobile form and nearly skittering into the doorframe. Dexterous digits curl around your shoulders, though you think the gesture’s done more for his balance than to immobilize you.
“I’m shit with words,” he begins.
“No, you’re great with words.” Thin lips quirk, and you wish he wasn’t so damn cute. “You’re just a shit boyfriend.” You utilize the loosening of his grip to your advantage, shrugging his hands and his touch and him away from you. “Look, I don’t wanna look like a fool anymore than you do. So here’s your chance, Jug, tell me. Tell me you’re not interested in me anymore. Tell me the reason why I’m giving you my all and you’re giving me half is because you’re sick of me. Tell me, Jughead. Be honest with yourself, be honest with me!”
A beat of silence.
And then two.
“Not interested in you anymore?” he half-echoes, half-sputters. Incredulity paints his sharp features. From knitted brows above cerulean irises down to slightly agape pink pout, Jughead’s disbelief is like a grass stain on white shorts. Unbelievably stubborn and not going anywhere. “Y/N, I am so interested in you it’s sickening. Literally. You make my stomach hurt.” (You hate that a chuckle rumbles from your chest. Jughead grins.) “Honestly, I thought you were into the whole Jason Blossom mystery thing. You love Criminal Minds.”
“It’s not scary when it’s on TV.”
He visibly softens at this, back winding into its comfortable slouch. “No, it’s not. And I’m sorry I never asked you how you felt.”
“So you’re not sick of me?”
Your gaze follows the swing of his head. “I am the farthest thing from sick of you. You make me sick” —Jughead catches your hand before it could make playful contact with his shoulder “—but I’m not sick of you, no.” He swipes his thumb across the skin pulled taunt against your knuckles. “If anything, I’m a little in love with you.”
This confession, subtle but heavy, sinks its claws into your disposition, altering your expression sans consent. You aren’t aware you’re wearing your perturbation as well as you are your uniform until Jughead says:
“Gee, baby, I hope that’s your ‘I love you, too’ face.”
So he did say the l-word.
“No. No, of course, I just–I never thought you would say it first. Is that–? That’s the first time you’ve said I love you.”
“Yeah, and it doesn’t mean shit unless I start showing you. So from now on whatever you’re into, I’m into. You like cheer, I like cheer. You like watching bad Netflix movies at 2 in the morning, so do I. You like Reggie Mantle, I–well, I don’t have to like everything you like, do I?” The tip of his nose crinkles in jocular distaste. Your own laugh of euphoria rings in your ears.
Also known as the super teeny-weeny Major Edmund Hewlett post - and FINALLY completed!
I originally started making tiny Hewlett and Anna dolls for the ever-wonderful @calamity-bean way back at Christmas-time, as a little thank you, but with one thing and another, it’s ended up as a sort-of Easter present. Sorry, @calamity-bean! But at least you should get him (and the lovely Mrs Strong) by the end of April. Call it a token of my respect and friendship.
Well, Mini-Hewlett here went together much better than Anna did, possibly because I’d already worked out the logistics of making men’s uniforms from @rapid-apathy’s Mini-Simcoe. Being smaller, though, the major got much less pretty braid and silver lace sewn on his uniform - something Simcoe would probably be insufferably smug about. But Mini- Hewlett has got a Mini-Anna, dude. I wouldn’t gloat too much.
I think my favourite part of making the major was probably his tiny riding boots, made out of a small piece of leather stitched in a tube with his painted feet. The dark red sash is a tiny piece of ribbon - and his brass buttons are those little stick-on dots you can find in craft shops sewn down ! Sadly the facings are a bit uneven, so he looks a bit absent-minded - and dishevelled. (Personally, I think Anna may be to blame for that one, hehe)
But gosh, his HAIR! That was my favourite part, because it was so simple! I’d struggled for ages trying to make a tiny removable white wig, and initially I was just going to paint on his dark hair - but I eventually discarded that idea as being overly- complicated for such a small project. I found some some soft black ‘cuddle fleece fabric’, and simply glued a scalp shaped piece onto Mini-Hews scalp. IT gives him adorable rumpled black hair, that is also rather nice to pet, should you be in the mood!
@calamity-bean - maybe you should practice Annlett voodoo with these to ensure a happy season 4 outcome.
Nanami stood by the school gates and dutifully waited again.
She has been waiting for months now, every day, just faithfully waiting for someone to fulfill their promise. She trusts him and she holds on to the hope that he’d answer his words with action. She wanted to believe that she knew him well enough to know that it wasn’t like him to break off suddenly without prior notice. She wanted to believe in him. She didn’t want to believe otherwise.
Maybe something happened. And as she pondered over what that something could be, another something was happening right before her. Someone had comically tripped in front of her, his bag slid on the ground and stopped just at her shoes. She paused her game and her thoughts and then she immediately picked up the bag and crouched over the person with genuine concern.
“Are you okay?” She asked as her eyes scanned him for any signs of injury.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” He replied with a wince. “Just tripped over my shoes.”
“But… they don’t have laces?” By standard uniform there shouldn’t be any laces on the required leather shoes. She blinked and then her eyes momentarily gazed at his feet and then back at him. It’s only then that she noticed the missing shoe. Specifically, his right one. “Oh…”
“Well this is embarrassing.” He sheepishly rubbed the back of his head.
“Just a second.” She said as she then went to retrieve his shoe. If her peripheral vision was right then she should be able to find it with relative ease. Which she did by the way and within seconds, she was back with his shoe in one hand. “Here. I believe this is yours.”
“Thank you.” He murmured, his face red with embarrassment, as he graciously took it and wore the troublesome shoe.
Nanami thought it was better to leave the stranger alone now. She didn’t want to embarrass him any further even though it was never her intention. So with a nod, she returned to her post and continued where she left off in the game. Or so she tried to.
“Is that… Gala Omega?” She heard him say and the moment the words left his mouth, his head immediately snapped up.
“You know of it?” The words leave her mouth before she could even chew on them. And just as soon as they did, they left a nostalgic aftertaste. She unconsciously held her console closer to her chest. Didn’t she have a similar conversation before? Her enthusiasm faltered for a bit.
“Yeah, I do.” He nodded with an easygoing smile. He leaned forward with a face of pure adoration and proclaimed, “It’s a classic, don’t you think?”
Nanami slowly blinked. That’s right, she’s had this conversation before… but not quite. Last time it was her who was the enthusiastic one. Last time it was him who got pulled along. Last time… was their first time to speak with each other. And last time, he fulfilled his promise. Just not this time…
“Yeah… I think so too.” She replied absentmindedly, her gaze was at a distance far away from where they were.
And he picked up the change immediately. “Hey, um, I don’t mean to pry but I noticed you’ve always been here after class hours. This doesn’t look like the best place to play videogames… What exactly are you doing here?” He politely started and then raised his hands. “You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to. I’m just a little concerned…”
“I’m waiting for someone.” She answered without hesitation. She always did whenever confronted with the question. Just like how there was no doubt in her faith, there was no hesitation in her voice. But that didn’t mean that there wasn’t any sadness either. She continued morosely, “Someone who… likes Gala Omega almost as much as I do.”
Someone who disappeared all of a sudden and has been missing ever since.
“Oh, I see…” The stranger responded, he looked torn on how to reply to that. In the end, he settled for a hopeful smile. “That person must be precious to you for you to go this far.”
“He is.” She replied and her hands held her console tighter at the same time her chest tightened. “He is… very important to me.” She softly whispered. “My friends are… worried for me. They think I should stop waiting.”
She didn’t know why she was telling this to a total stranger. Perhaps it was because he was a stranger which made it easier to talk. She didn’t know what she was trying to gain from this conversation but she felt as though she needed it. She needed someone to talk to who wasn’t coddling over her safety. She appreciated her friends and their concerns but she wanted them to acknowledge her concern over her own friend. They don’t bring up the topic as often anymore except on stormy days. She’s grateful for them giving her own space but sometimes it could get lonely. She closed her eyes. Ah, it’s pointless. He’d probably tell her off just like her friends. It’s only normal to come to that conclusion and she doesn’t expect any different.
“They’ve got that wrong.” He cut through her thoughts.
Huh? Did she hear him right? She opened her eyes only to stare at his determined ones.
“I think it’s admirable for you to hold on for so long.” He said with a tone of respect and awe. “It’s okay to hold on to someone despite the signs. That just shows how much important that person is to you. As long as you want to do this and no one’s forcing you then there shouldn’t be a problem.”
“That’s not the problem.” She shook her head and then frowned slightly. While it’s true that it was one of their concerns for her, that wasn’t their only concern. A more practical and immediate concern was that, “They think it isn’t safe for me to be here.”
He just stared at her for one full minute, his determination unrelenting, until he finally declared, “Then I’ll be here.”
Nanami’s eyes widened at his sudden declaration.
“With you.” He boldly continued. “I know we don’t exactly know each other but I also know just how much this person means to you. And if I could help you in any way I can, I want to help you.”
She carefully weighed his words. He sounded serious about this, dedicated even. Maybe even more dedicated than a stranger should have been. And that’s the thing. They barely knew it each other but he sounded as if they had been bonded for longer than just a few minutes. It puzzled her, this stranger’s kindness. “Why would you want to help me?”
“Consider it calling it even for helping me today.” He reasoned.
“I just gave you your bag and shoe.” She pointed out.
“I know. It’s just an excuse for me to help you. But honestly, I just can’t leave you in good conscience knowing that there was something I could do to help.” He confessed as he sheepishly rubbed the back of his head. Nervously, he asked, “So… what do you say?”
What should she say? She’s still flabbergasted by his kindness to think coherently. She’s a bit hesitant if she were to be honest but at the same time, she was also a bit lonely.
It gets lonely waiting here alone without a player two.
She looks down at her console. The two-player mode seemed to flash brighter the longer she stared at it. Games are more fun when played with others, right? She’d definitely play with him when he comes back but for now, it should be alright for her to try and play with someone else too once in a while.
Nanami returned his gaze with her own as she mumbled, “I don’t even know your name.”
“Oh, right. Sorry, I must have jumped the gun a bit there.” He chuckled a bit, still embarrassed, and he then raised his hand towards her. “Makoto Naegi. It’s nice to meet you!”
“Chiaki Nanami.” She lightly shook his hand. It was warm just like the fuzzy feeling in her chest. “Let’s play lots of games… tomorrow then?” She smiled softly.
And he smiled brightly. “Yes! We definitely will! I promise!”
The next day, Nanami stood by the school gates and dutifully waited again. But this time, Naegi stood by beside her. And the two played games as they both waited together.
It was another late shift for the teen, adjusting his army man uniform and lacing his boots up as the other back up dancers also practiced their dance steps. At the Thunder Ball he was known to give large dances with sensual choreography for just the VIP members, but also for parties. Tonight he was doing Partition by Beyoncé, which had fast steps which required him to use lots of muscles at his core so he mostly hoped he wouldn’t fall off stage or break something.
concept art: ww2 battlefield scene, soldiers with their backs against deep, muddy trenches, filthy and sweaty on d day + 8, guns raised and captured in a moment between breaths. except all of the soldiers are women, no explanation , no changes, just ladies with their hair in buns that are coming loose, strands falling in their face, some with their heads shaved, some with lipstick and some only wearing mud. laced up, uniforms exactly the same, mortar squads exactly the same but ladies