life threating

Yes, I do teach creative writing: your opening scene

The opening scene is the most important piece of your novel. This scene determines whether your reader is pulled in or puts the book down. Here are some important do’s and don’ts.

DO write it as a scene, not a data dump. You may have a fantastic premise, a marvelous alternate history or post-apocalyptic world or magical realism to die for, but if you don’t engage your reader in an actual scene, you will bore them.

DO write a scene that immediately introduces a character that the reader can root for. Yes, I know Stephen King has had great success introducing victims that are then shortly afterward killed off. That’s a horror trope and we expect it. But if you are caught up in world-building and haven’t dreamed your way into a character who is worth following through 100,000 words of writing, your story is pointless. I have read many pieces of fiction by would-be writers who can’t grasp this essential concept, and without exception, they fail to engage the reader.

DO introduce the stakes right away. In case that’s a challenge that needs some exposition to develop, create some immediate stakes (a life threat works) that keep the tension high and the reader engaged until you can lay out the larger stakes.

DO begin in medias res, which means “in the middle of things.” Most beginning fiction writers make the mistake of starting too early in the plot. Meet the monster on page 1. 

DON’T include a flashback in the first chapter. Work on a scene, which means time is NOT compressed. It should include dialog, action, description, setting, and interior monolog. Keep everything happening within that scene for at least the first chapter. You can bring in a flashback in Chapter Three.

DON’T shift points of view within a single chapter. Let the reader establish a strong bond of interest (even if it’s with a POV villain) over the course of a whole chapter.

DON’T open the story with your character waking up unless it’s because she’s got a gun in her face (or a knife to her throat – you get what I mean). We don’t need to follow a character through their mundane daily routine. 

DON’T be coy. Beginning writers often have this idea that they need to hold back on revealing all their secrets – what’s in the box, who’s behind the curtain, where they’re going next, etc. Their well-meant plan is to slowly reveal all this over several chapters. Trust me on this one: tell your readers instead of keeping it a mystery. You WILL come up with more secrets to reveal. Your imagination is that good. Spill it now, and allow that revelation to add to the excitement.

 So a friend asked me to tell this story:

 Sometimes my uterus likes to play “will I or won’t I” with me, and one time my period was so late it was working my last nerve.
I had tried everything- from begging, to sex, to wearing the pretty expensive panties. But this damn period would. not. start.
 So finally, I sat down and thought “Uterus, if u don’t get your act and ovaries together, I will vote conservative and you’ll just have to live with your guilt and heavily restricted access to dick!”

 2 hours later my period started.

Enough excuses for parents who abused their kids but “meant the best”. They “meant the best” for themselves, not for the kids. It’s fucking easy to just rely on emotional abuse, threats, humiliation, shame, guilt and violence to get your way and to force your kid to stay in control and to sabotage and fuck up the child’s life so you would feel good about it, and then to just remind yourself “i meant the best” to feel no guilt about doing so whatsoever. Just repeating to yourself “it doesn’t hurt them” and “they deserved it”  while actively forcing your child to keep all the obvious trauma symptoms out of sight or ensuring the child believes it’s their own damn fault for feeling the way they do.

You know what’s not easy? Having your parent force control of your life via emotional abuse, threats, shame, humiliation, violence. Your parent getting into your own head and  gaslighting your senses until you feel worthless and insane and like a monster, until you don’t dare to feel your own feelings, until you’re ashamed of the pain you feel and can’t see yourself as anything other than a horrible burden and nothing you do can ever change that or make you good enough. You know what’s even harder? Still believing that your parent “meant the best” and not even daring to blame them and still being forced to draw the conclusion that it was after all, all your fault, for existing as you do, for being who you are, for not ever being good enough! And then, on top of all of it, hearing the rest of the world agree with the parent’s view, pressuring you to never blame them, to forgive them, to never hold them responsible, to “be better” and understand them, to not ever try to place blame on anyone but yourself because then you’re the monster.

Just. How. Is. One. Supposed. To. Heal. From. That.
Healing can’t even begin until the blame is placed on the parent! This person literally benefited from their child’s suffering! They did not get affected negatively from it at all, they didn’t even care, they walked away satisfied and getting what they wanted while the child now has a lifetime of traumatic consequences and mental illness problems! Their freedom is taken away, their quality of life reduced, their relationships and friendships sabotaged, their confidence crushed! They’re placed at extra risk for addictions and obsessions because they keep falling into the black pit of trauma no matter how hard they try to distract and their life is heavy and painful no matter how well they do afterwards! Their brain can’t regulate stress properly anymore! Abuse causes literal brain damage and all this is just so the parents would get their way! And you all still insist they shouldn’t feel guilty about it or be faced with consequences of their abuse? They shouldn’t fucking admit to themselves and to their children what they’ve done? If the truth will kill them, let them die. Abused children’s right to heal comes way before the abusers feeling good about themselves.

Why Embracing Emotional Distress is the Best Medicine Sometimes

Much of our mental suffering is caused by our overwhelming attempt to avoid it. We think experiencing any sort of anxiety is a threat to our existing, but psychology studies have proven that one learns from struggle. One becomes a better human being through heartache. Let us explain with the science behind this theory..

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scorpio is a sign of survival. this can be why they are hyper vigilant and highly suspicious. they are constantly on guard for threat, betrayal, and actual threat of life. this can be for seen and unseen forces. unconscious fears in scorpios can manifest in everyday people 

6

Neck Deep / Life’s Not Out to Get You

3

The Need (Joker x Reader)

“Imagine the Joker falling for you when you’re taken hostage during a bank heist.”

Requested by Anon: “Can you write something where the joker meets a girl while him and Harley are out causing mayhem and the joker can’t get the girl out of his head? And he eventually leaves Harley for her?”

A/N: I almost made this a two part fic because I didn’t want it do be too long. But I like how it came out. I hope you guys like it too!~

Warnings: Violence, swearing, falling for people who probably aren’t good for you.


Why did banks always have such long lines? You’d think that they would be a bit more efficient.

“Don’t you just hate long lines?”

“Sorry, what?” You blinked a few times before you realized that the man in front of you was speaking to you. He repeated himself and smiled at you, to which you smiled in return. “Yeah, the lines are usually what keep me from making frequent trips here.”

He laughed and nodded in agreement. “Same here. The reason I’m even here today is for my son.”

“Oh really?” You looked around, “where is he?”

“At the hospital, he just had surgery so I’m withdrawing some money to go buy him something to keep him occupied while he’s recovering.”

Your smile grew a bit, “that’s kind of you. How old is he?”

“He’ll be 6 next month.”

Before you could respond, the blast of an explosion threw everyone in the line onto the floor. The room was engulfed in smoke and debris from the explosion. As the dust started to settle, you could see the two figures responsible.

“Listen up, everybody!” The female voice called out. “You’re all going to do as we say and if you don’t, well…we’ll have to kill ya.” The woman walked towards you and the others who had been line. “Ya got that?”

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This is for the lost, downtrodden, and rejects, and anybody looking for a purpose.

I’ll fall asleep with my eyes open just to see if I could focus on something more than my loneliness.

We know what it’s like to be put down so “fuck you” to the world and stand your ground.

It’s all fun and games until someone gets fucked up. This will end in tears, I could never be enough for you.

Sometimes things will bend you, but trust me you’ll be fine. I’ve been moving mountains that I once had to climb, and life’s not out to get you despite the things you’ve been through.

Is it too late to say that I’m sorry for the things I do? I’m missing you like shit today.

I gave her my heart, she didn’t want it. She took it anyway and put a dark spell on it.

I’ll grow up someday, but for now I’m fine. I just wish that you were near me.

I miss your face, you’re in my head. There’s so many things that I should’ve said.

There will come a time when you will face your life, don’t let it twist and tear you up inside.

I hope this comes back to haunt you. Then maybe you would know just how it felt to be like me at my lowest.

I don’t have much to offer, but had you loved me, I’d have loved you back forever.

—  Favorite lyrics off of “Life’s Not Out To Get You” by Neck Deep.
The Writer’s Guide to Abdominal Trauma: 1 / ?

Okay, guys, I have had a LOT of questions about wounds to the belly, and at or under the bottom of the ribs. Shootings, stabbings, crossbow bolts, arrows, and fisticuffs: you guys wanna know, what’s up with wounds to the abdomen?

So gather round the ol’ anatomy book, kiddies! Auntie ScriptMedic is gonna teach you all about ABDOMINAL TRAUMA!

First, I am going to say this as loud and as hard as I can, so the people way in the back can hear me: ABDOMINAL WOUNDS ARE LIFE THREATS UNTIL PROVEN OTHERWISE. Yes, all of them. Yes, that one, too. I know what you were thinking. Still a life threat.

But why? Why is it so sensitive? Well….

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I still think it would have been really funny if Bran hadn’t actually realised that the baby in the Tower of Joy vision was Jon

like

imagine the remaining Starklings gathered together (shut up, they’ve all reunited and safe and happy together at Winterfell fight me)

and Bran (the real Bran, completely snapped out of his new persona) is like, “Guys, you’re not gonna believe this. We have a cousin. No, not that milky little shit in the Eyrie. I mean Lyanna had a kid.”

“No way, really? Holy shit.”

“Dad must’ve hidden this kid somewhere far away.”

“Imagine being part Targaryen- your whole life being under threat if anyone ever found out.”

and Jon finally goes, “Whoa, and I thought I had it rough. I’d hate to be that kid.”

(somewhere in the heavens, Ygritte just cackles, “You know nothing, Jon Snow.”)

Sirius Black and Remus Lupin's first times

Here is a (mainly) fluff Wolfstar I wrote those last days ! Hope you’ll like it >w<

If you prefer to read it on AO3, here is the link


When they first meet, it’s at the train station. Sirius is with Walburga and Regulus, half listening his mother’s “advices”, which sound more like orders and threats. Looking at the crowd, his eyes catch a pair of scared but happy green eyes. It’s a boy his age, with apparently his parents and little luggage.

He later get to know his name : Remus Lupin. He doesn’t know yet this name will become his world.


When they first get detention, it’s together, less than a month after the first day of class. Sirius pull a prank on a group of Slytherin boys who are always mocking him for being a lion, but the teacher punishes Sirius and Remus since they are together.

During the detention, Remus tries not to pay attention to Sirius – it’s his fault they got here after all ! He doesn’t last more than twenty minutes though.

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Dangerous Obsession.

Request from anon:An imagine where the Avengers (from CACW) and Y/N go out to a restaurant. Hydra wants to eliminate her so they send Rumlow undercover to poison her drink. She is also Bucky’s girlfriend and Rumlow has an obsession with her but also wants to kill her because she is with Bucky. Anyway once she gets poisoned Bucky gets angry and holds Y/N while help comes. While the others find out it was Rumlow and go after him. But things end well so it’s all good. Sorry this is long but thank you!

The Avengers x Reader, Bucky x Reader

Words: 2,109

Warnings: Violence, language, angst, mention of injury and threat to life. Think that’s everything!

Disclaimer: First GIF was made by me any others used were not so all credit goes to their creators <3

Clouds of perfume hung in the air of your room as you finished getting yourself ready for the dinner you had all been invited to. You weren’t entirely convinced that it was a good idea for the whole Avengers team to be heading out of the tower but when Tony was paying how could you refuse?

“Doll I hate to sound like an old ma-“

“Buck you are an old man.”

Your boyfriend sent a playful scowl in your direction as he sat on the edge of the bed you shared before grabbing one of the pillows and launching it at you. With quick reflexes you caught the item before it could hit you and you poked your tongue out at him in a smug way.

“Anyway as I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted…is there a reason as to why you are drowning yourself in that perfume?”

You immediately stopped spraying once he spoke, pursing your lips slightly, before placing the bottle down onto your dresser.

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Natsu - NaLu Theory

I feel like there is a lot of frustration over NaLu not becoming cannon recently. I am going to write a character meta-analysis of both Natsu and Lucy which will help explain (I hope) why NaLu won’t happen until both characters overcome/realise this:

1. Natsu is dense when it comes to romance/love and he won’t realise unless it becomes undeniable/obvious.

2. Lucy gets over her unrealistic ideals prince charming or her knight in shining armour expectations. She is a hapless romantic and naive when it come to love. (Note: this is not me bashing Lucy, it’s just a reality of her character. I think she has gotten better recently but I will do another analysis for Lucy)

I haven’t gone in-depth into every single scene because this was getting too long. If you would like to know my thoughts on a particular scene, please don’t hesitate to ask. I love a good discussion ;)

In regards to manga panels, there were more I could put in as evidence. I chose the events I thought illustrated my point the best. This took me a few weeks to compile between uni and life in general, so I hope you find it interesting.  Please keep in mind, these are my observations and I am not bashing any characters or ships.

Natsu and FT

Erza is a mother/sister figure to Natsu, she is essentially his female role model who taught him how to behave around people, showed him a motherly/sisterly love (I think it’s a combination) so she’s the role model he will fall back on when he’s trying to be affectionate with Lucy. Erza is an important supportive role model to both Natsu and Gray.

Examples to prove Natsu’s reaction to Erza is different can be seen by looking at his initial reaction to her being in danger, and his reaction is the same as his reply to Lucy’s question as to whether they should help Gray. He replies that he would want to finish the enemy himself, not to have anyone interfere. Natsu doesn’t apply this logic to Lucy.

You might say that’s because Natsu doesn’t respect Lucy’s ability and that isn’t true he does, but the emotions he feels for Lucy compels him to protect no matter what. Even if he knows she can protect herself. The panel above is a key example because it was a lighting fast reaction to protect who mattered the most to him (keeping in mind Happy and other friends were there but it’s Lucy he covered with his body). It is the split-second decisions which I hold in high regard, due to the fact they reflect a person’s true feelings. 

If you want to read more about my thought in regards to Natsu, Lucy and Happy —-> Link

After the Tenroujima fight with Kain, Natsu’s behaviour towards Lucy changes once again. This is shown in the Grand Magic Games (GMG). I believe during the fight with Kain, Natsu subconsciously fell in love with Lucy. However, that doesn’t mean he acknowledges it because he doesn’t think too much outside the moment. This shift in feeling does change how he acts around her, even in general situations. 

GMG

I didn’t watch Fairy Tail for years and I didn’t ship anyone.  I was on the fence about NaLu (is there something, isn’t there?)  it sparked my interest before the GMG arc but there wasn’t definitive evidence Natsu felt the same as Lucy. It wasn’t until the end of Tenroujima and the GMG which convinced me Natsu had feelings for Lucy.

What changed my mind wasn’t the obvious Natsu going to save Lucy. There was a considerable difference in Natsu making his opinion known when a subject/situation concerned Lucy. Which compared to the others who are friends, guildmates and close team-members (Gray, Erza and Wendy) were over-reactions to the situation. Saying this is because of a life threating situation and he wants to protect is a weak argument. In these panels, Natsu is substantially more powerful than the characters concerned. You might say with Yukino that was purely Natsu’s dislike for Saber showing but he is an instinctual person, he would have noticed her mood but it didn’t matter in this case because his priority was Lucy. 

Before this Natsu was not as concerned with what was happening with Lucy, which solidifies my point on Tenroujima being the event that changed the depth of his feelings (note that in the manga neither Natsu or Gray are waiting at her flat). 

Despite Natsu being oblivious to his true feelings (which even a child -Aska- picked up on), Natsu still flirts with Lucy. He even admitted himself that he can’t resist teasing her. And the number one thing emotionally immature guys do when they like a girl? Tease them, annoy them, be a brat to get attention. All behaviour which Natsu exhibits, because Lucy makes him feel comfortable enough to do those things. 

Natsu can be himself because he doesn’t fear that Lucy will hurt him. He’s is used to a gentle Lucy and shows restraint he otherwise wouldn’t when she has hit him (in a serious situation). If it was anyone else in the guild, I believe you wouldn’t get the same reaction. He starts fights with them all the time, so what difference would it make knocking them out.

The fact that Natsu will fight with everyone in the guild, apart from Lucy, is a telling factor that he loves her. He doesn’t want to risk hurting her and as I said before, this isn’t because he doesn’t believe she is strong. When he does bring up the prospect of sparring, it is usually in a playful manner. 

Natsu’s Emotional Growth

I think the problem on Natsu’s side is he’s dense when it comes to romance. Shown by his interaction with Gildarts. 

Indicating that Natsu’s emotional intelligence when it comes to recognising the difference between friendship and lovers isn’t great. Though I have no doubt about his feelings for Lucy are intense because of his different reactions to losing his love interest and losing a beloved friend/family member.

This to me is a desperate man losing a woman who he didn’t realise was vital to his future. With Erza and Igneel he was very sad/aggrieved but he wasn’t devastated. 

As for the breast groping, I don’t give these a lot of credence other than it’s a shonen manga (there’s always going to be fan service like that) and Natsu is a young man who is sexually aware of the girl he likes. Lucy is grown woman capable of making it known what she feels about that.  And she does, the first time she punched him.

Considering current events in the manga, I don’t believe NaLu will happen until Natsu’s role within Lucy’s life is challenged in some way. Natsu knows that he wants Lucy in his future, he wants things to be the same with them going on adventures. They are best friends, it’s natural. However, it wouldn’t be the same if she were to go out with another guy. Yes, they would likely stay on the same team but he wouldn’t be able to continue the same behaviours. 

I believe Natsu has come to depend on Lucy emotionally (in a good way). He seeks her out before significant events and feels most secure when he’s vulnerable by surrounding himself with her. Lucy provides him with a different kind of care and affection that isn’t provided by other guildmates, which is why he chooses to spend most of his time around her. Another reason I think he finds this in Lucy is the start of the manga.  

At the beginning, he says ‘I chose you’ and the way Happy explained the way teams worked, it sounded like Natsu didn’t work well in teams before Lucy arrived. Plus, Natsu is always reminding that her presence on his team is essential. Erza and Gray come and go (they pair up with other people) but Natsu and Lucy are always together by choice.

He is sensitive to her mood and when she is upset, he knows it and it throws him. Especially if it is him who upset her. Any other time he has a nonchalant attitude but with Lucy, he feels the guilt.

He won’t be able to be ‘more than friends, less than lovers’ if she were to marry another man. If she had a boyfriend he wouldn’t be able to crash around her house, play games, sleep in her bed, eat her food, go through her draws etc. Which is why Natsu will need an event that triggers this realisation before NaLu will happen. There will be more angst because angst is essentially the hard lessons the characters need to learn. No emotional events, no story progress.

I have considered the possibility of this event being Lucy’s perceived death but I’m not holding my breath. I still think he has some more growth to go before NaLu happens. I think this is good because it means Mashima pays attention to character growth and development, if the character isn’t at that stage then it shouldn’t be forced. The slow burn is why I like NaLu, seeing two individuals develop an unconditional love and it’s beautiful.

Thank you for reading! <3 xx

how i wish the balcony scene went

Originally posted by deliriousgirl05

the awesome @skittycat21  requested a continuation of my fic, ‘what I wish they showed us after the party’ which takes place after 2x08. But chronologically, the balcony scene is what takes place after that scene so I decided to rewrite that instead according to how I wish it happened (because we can all agree that that conversation was hopeless, also they discuss the suicide attempt in that previous fic so I left it out here).


The early morning sun crept up on Brooklyn almost warily and Alec watched from Magnus’ balcony as the streets became busier and busier. Magnus cautiously made his way out to Alec, already anxious that he was anywhere near a balcony considering recent events. Standing next to Alec, Magnus weaved a hand between Alec’s arm and torso. He could already hear how hard Alec’s heart was beating.

Alec looked down at Magnus’ hand which rested on the ledge next to his and opened his palm. Magnus immediately interlaced his fingers with Alec’s and turned to rest his chin on the Shadowhunter’s shoulder. He smelt of soap and coffee, and Magnus’ heart clenched at the thought of him having to leave to the Institute soon. Alec relaxed into his boyfriend’s touch as Magnus leaned in to tenderly press a kiss to Alec’s jaw. Normally, such an action would have caused Alec to tense up, but right now it was just what he needed.

Magnus turned back to the city and leaned the side of his head on Alec’s broad shoulders. Alec closed his eyes and breathed in the calmness that Magnus brought with him. “How many Downworlders do you think live in New York?” asked Alec.

“I don’t know,” replied Magnus. “But they’re not all your responsibility.”

Alec let out a breath he didn’t even know he was holding and squeezed Magnus’ hand. “But you are,” said Alec in a small voice and Magnus’ heart broke.

Magnus muffled his mouth into Alec’s shoulder, smiling at the boy, and pressed a kiss there. He didn’t know what he had done to deserve someone so caring and loyal. Most people would have run away by now – they had run away. But Alec was so determined to hold onto any kind of feeling he hadn’t had before. And Magnus didn’t know how to deal with it. “I can take care of myself, Alexander,” replied Magnus, only half-jokingly. If there was one thing he didn’t expect from Alec, it was the boy risking his own life for him. Maybe Magnus thought he didn’t need it, or maybe he thought that he didn’t deserve it.

Alec leaned the side of his head to Magnus’. “I know, but it can’t have ever been this dark,” he whispered and Magnus realised just how scared Alec was.

Squeezing Alec’s hand tighter, Magnus could feel his heartbeat increasing. He wasn’t talking enough. And after the incident at the party, that was one of the most dangerous things Alec could do right now. “Talk to me, Alexander.”

Alec clenched his jaw and bore an expression that Magnus hadn’t seen on the boy before. Magnus could feel Alec’s hand becoming sweaty as he repeatedly shook his head and took several steps back, releasing their hands. “I can’t, I… I don’t know how,” stated Alec, breathing hard and swallowing air.

Although some would argue against it, Alec had naturally been a very anxious person. He was just extremely good at hiding it. Alec was never relaxed, not until he met Magnus. Whenever he was around the man, Magnus balanced him.

It became clear to Magnus that Alec had never really had someone that he allowed himself to be vulnerable around, nobody to be able to get his anxious thoughts out on. He made sure to be the most composed around Izzy and Max, in desperate need to prove that he could always protect them, that he was the level-headed one. And he just felt downright embarrassed to bring up the issue with Jace or his parents.

“Hey, hey, hey…” said Magnus, reaching a hand out to place it on Alec’s tense back. He began to stroke the base of Alec’s neck but it only appeared to make Alec more uneasy. He abruptly turned away from Magnus’ touch to which Magnus recoiled his hand. A look of immense worry took over his face.

“There’s so much at stake here and I…” Alec pulled at the collar of his shirt in an attempt to ease himself. “I can’t breathe,” he choked out helplessly and Magnus felt his stomach churn.

Alec stumbled back onto the armrest of the outdoor bench, too preoccupied to take a proper seat. Magnus stood in front of him, reaching out to Alec’s shoulder and pulling his head into his chest. “I’ve got you, you’re alright,” he said in a soft tone, stroking the boy’s back. “You’re okay,” he continued, fingers moving to run through Alec’s hair as he pressed reassuring kisses onto the top of Alec’s head.

Alec coiled his arms around Magnus tightly, breathing in every bit of him, making sure that he was still here. Alec hated feeling so weak, he was supposed to be the collected one. He felt like he had no right to be in this emotional state now. His life wasn’t at threat, after all. But Magnus made him feel comfortable enough to be in this state unapologetically.

Alec felt Magnus’ fingers tingling against his scalp and didn’t protest when streams of magic helped calm him down. “I’m sorry,” Alec murmured and Magnus frowned. “I know I’m meant to be strong right now-”

“Don’t apologise,” said Magnus firmly. “Look at me.” Magnus lifted Alec’s chin up. “I’ll be honest, there’s not much that I can reassure you of right now. But if there’s one thing that rings true, it’s that we’re going to be okay.”

Alec’s eyes darted between Magnus’ eyes and mouth. He was so close. “You don’t know that.”

“Maybe I don’t. But I’m here, now, whatever you need,” Magnus said, stroking the spot under Alec’s glazed eye.

Alec knew he was falling in love – fast – and yet, it was the most calming thing in the world.


i hope you enjoyed, let me know what you think! if you have any prompts or scenarios for me, please head over to my ask box.

in the meantime, magnus takes alec on his first beach trip.

anonymous asked:

Hi! Could you do write andreil where Neil leaves Andrew to protect him? Like angst with a happy ending cause Andrew won't let Neil be stupid ! Thank you so much I love your writing!!

thank you thank you, my majestic anon! i know a lot of people have written prompts along these lines before, so i tried to take it in a direction i don’t think i’ve seen. also on AO3.

send me prompts :)


Neil hears Andrew in the kitchen of their Detroit apartment, apparently trying to navigate the cabinet of pots and pans. A loud crash comes just seconds before a hissed, “Shit.” Neil smiles and laughs quietly to himself, returning his attention to the Exy notes he’s working on.

“Shut up,” is thrown harshly from Andrew’s general direction.

Okay. Well, he thought he had laughed quietly.

Neil ignores him and watches King as he jumps up onto the couch beside him. He reaches out to scratch along his spine as Andrew comes around the corner to glare at them both, giant wooden spoon in hand. Neil wonders how much damage Andrew could do with that particular kitchen tool. He has been known to be quite creative.

“Are you going to help, or are you going to continue being useless?”

Neil smirks at him. “Oh, do you need my help? I just assumed you had everything under control.”

Somehow, the glare intensifies. Having thought this feat to be impossible, Neil is pretty impressed.

Andrew turns on his heel to head back into the kitchen. “Get in here,” floats back over his shoulder, like he knows Neil will immediately follow. He’s right.

Neil releases a dramatic sigh as he tosses his notes onto the coffee table, navigating his way around cats and furniture to trail after Andrew. Once he enters the room, he sees that Andrew has hopped up onto the counter and is studiously ignoring him, turning the spoon over and over in his hands.

Neil stares at him until he finally looks up. Andrew simply points to the pile of vegetables on the counter beside him, then over to the cutting board on the drying rack.

“Really? I thought I was offering assistance, not to take over.”

“Like I’d let you take over anything,” Andrew replies, something dangerously close to amusement in his voice.

Neil rolls his eyes. “Fine,” he relents. “What’s your job then?”

Andrew gestures toward the stove with his wooden spoon. It’s a pot of jasmine rice that’s just been set to simmer. That’s it.

“That won’t need any attention for like twenty minutes!” Neil complains, but Andrew just shrugs and looks pointedly over at the cutting board again.

Neil casts his eyes to the ceiling and lets out his second dramatic sigh of the evening, resolving himself to chopping for the foreseeable future. As he turns away to pick out a knife, Andrew grabs his arm and pulls him back to the space between his legs, still dangling over the edge of the counter. Neil smiles and begins to lean closer. Just as Andrew’s mouth opens to ask his yes or no, they are interrupted by three quick knocks on their front door. Andrew raises a questioning eyebrow, and Neil answers with a shrug.

Neil reluctantly pulls away and starts toward the door, counting it as a victory that he kept his third dramatic sigh underwraps. He opens the door, and upon finding no one, sticks his head out into the hallway. His eyes catch on a large manila envelope leaning against wall. He stares. Picks it up. Turns around, and closes the door.

He stops just inside the living room, still staring at the object in his hands. Perfectly innocuous, not suspicious in the least. It shouldn’t fill him with fear and anticipation the way it does.

A second later, the envelope is gone. Neil looks up to see Andrew taking it into the kitchen, opening it along the way. He follows.

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