mother of spark

après la chute

an a:tla fanfic

words: 986
characters: zuko, ozai, iroh
summary: He falls twice from grace.
read on ffn, read on ao3

i.

There was a boy in a cradle. His fragile, newborn limbs peeked out from under a red blanket trimmed with shimmering gold. This symbol of royalty, swaddled in his nation’s favor and warmed by noble blood, looked up with wide eyes of pure gold and blinked at the smiling woman above him. Outside, trumpeters announced his arrival with triumphant fanfares. But inside, hiding their words behind curtains in hushed tones, the wise keepers of the nation’s traditions whispered. The boy was not old enough to understand, but one day he would learn that his eyes, though they shimmered and sparkled and shined up at his mother, did not spark.

There was a man standing over him. He scowled, turned his back, and said, “This is no son of mine.”

There is a boy on a ship. He stands straight with squared shoulders and head held high, but his face tells a different story in black and blue and permanent, glaring red. His eyes, once the color of soft gold, now shine as hardened amber with only one goal in sight. His clothes, once the vibrant color of his nation, have been reduced to tatters and ashes and traded for snow-white camouflage. Royal blood courses through his veins, hot with adrenaline, fighting the cold as he breathes in, out, in the dry northern air. He cloaks himself with pride to hide what lies beneath.

There is a man behind him, and when he speaks the boy starts. The cloak slips; his shoulders slump. The man swallows. “But ever since I lost my son…” The words warm the air and the boy breathes them in, allowing himself for just a moment to appreciate their meaning and the arms that have enveloped him. In the next few months he will think often of this moment, of these words, but not often enough.

Keep reading

I really need to follow more fan blogs. like/reblog if you post about any of these c:

  • set it off
  • harry potter
  • pierce the veil
  • demi lovato
  • paramore
  • ariana grande
  • bruno mars
  • against the current
  • greys anatomy
  • the fosters
  • how i met your mother
  • that 70s show
  • nicholas sparks
  • supernatural
  • stranger things
  • 5SOS
  • pvris
  • deadpool
  • anything disney related
  • youtubers (kingsley, connor franta, shane dawson, tyler oakley, lily singh to be exact)
  • orange is the new black
  • full house/fuller house

Mother… to fight and tried to protect us… For everything you do… Thank You for giving birth to us!
Happy Birthday, Ichiji, Niji, Sanji, and Yonji - March 2nd, 2017

Tagging:

Ichiji: @1chijirexu @askichijivinsmoke
Niji: @eprxr @asknijivinsmoke
Sanji: @chefalier @devilslcg @blckleg @askstrawhatsanji
Yonji: @winchxgreen @askyonjivinsmoke
Sora: @nncther @ask-sola

We’re excited to share this exciting documentary, The Reality Of Truth, with our community.
The film offers a front row seat on an around the world exploration of how people, groups and entire cultures tap into an alternative “true reality” through spirituality, meditation, and plant medicine. Featuring thought leaders from around the world, including Bruce Lipton, Deepak Chopra, Ram Dass, Marianne Williamson, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Foster Gamble and many more.

#TruthAwaits

anonymous asked:

I bet He Tian will act like an actual angel during the dinner, he wants to show how good of a boyfriend he can be in front of momos mom.

of fucking course he will. and he’ll tell mrs mo what such good friends they are and how much they look out for each other and guan shan will quietly seethe the whole way through.

(although i’m hoping for like, a moment where a) he tian watches guan shan interact with his mother and feels a spark of jealousy/unexpected fondness or b) guan shan’s mother mentions how guan shan talks about he tian or has done in the past and he tian is like holy shit he mentioned me c) he tian actually says something nice about guan shan and they’re both a little startled by it because he didn’t mean to. i’m pinning a lot on this meal and what happens after between them…)

Da, Who is that woman?

Hi everyone! So I have had loads of requests for a continuation of ‘Time Moves to A Different Rhythm’ - specifically nice moments between Jamie and Bree (who doesn’t love those, right?) and also a couple of requests for Claire and Bree meeting Laoghaire. What I have come up with is a sort of one-shot chapter including both of these things. I hope you like it. Han xxx

Jamie settled Brianna on the horse before him and wrapped his arm securely around her waist. Bree craned her neck to look up at him and grinned

“You look really smart, Da. Like a painting.”

Jamie smiled broadly back at her and placed a kiss on her upturned forehead.

“And ye look quite beautiful yourself, Miss Fraser.”

The use of his surname was tentative and Jamie deliberately kept his tone light and even but Brianna seemed completely unbothered. She has looked at him queerly the first time he said it and questioned if that should be her name now, the wee frown inherited from her mother prominent between her fair brows. However since that first discussion she had become neutral to the whole thing. Still Jamie used it sparingly and always with an air of respect, he would not strip the lass of her identity but if he could add to her sense of self then he saw no harm.

Bree reached up to brush a small piece of fluff from Jamie’s bonnet and he ducked his head obligingly so that she could reach.

“Do ye remember what to say when ye greet people?”

“Greetings from the Fraser’s of Lallybroch! Bountiful Lammas to ye and your kin.”

Bree projected her voice with all the theatrical flourish of a budding thespian treading the boards for the first time, her hand fluttering before her like a pale hummingbird.

“Verra good.”

Jamie nodded trying to keep the amusement out of his voice. If his child had a theatrical nature then she came by it honest. Jenny had told him that the stately ride to each of the tenants was a daft and dramatic notion, especially as most had met Brianna and certainly Claire in the months they had been back, but Jamie had wanted to do it. He was once again in his rightful place at Lallybroch and he would ride out to greet the tenants as his father had done and he would show off his greatest treasures whilst doing so - modesty be damned.

As if summoned by his thoughts, Claire’s mount drew up alongside him in the courtyard and as Jamie glanced at her his breath caught in his throat. His wife, Lady Broch Tuarach. Her hair curled lightly, framing her face with gentle wisps that Jenny had left out of the intricate plait which wound across her left shoulder. Like Brianna, her dress was rich, ocean blue wool, but whilst Brianna’s plaid was worn as a neat little cap, a length of Fraser plaid wrapped around Claire’s shoulders and pinned across the swell of her breasts with a silver brooch.  

“Mo Maise.”

Jamie murmured, bowing as low as he could without crushing Brianna, taking Claire’s hand and bringing it up to his lips, smiling at the pretty blush his action brought to Claire’s cheek.

“Thank you. I don’t know how Jenny works such magic with hair…”

Claire smiled and touched the plait self-consciously, before smoothing back a stray lock from Brianna’s brow.

“You look every inch the Highland princess.”

She smiled and Bree sat up a little straighter under her mother’s proud gaze.

“No’ a princess, Sassenach. We have discussed the matter and both feel that she is more of a warrior queen. Just like her mother.”

Jamie commented, touching the small ceremonial dirk he had fasted to Brianna’s belt that morning. It had been a source of great pride to her to wear a dagger like her father wore and softened the blow of not being able to wear breeks for the outing.

Claire had to admit that there was more than a little of the warrior about their daughter, though she did not think she got it from her! Looking at father and daughter seated on Aioleaen together, both dressed in their finery, Claire longed more than ever for a camera. Their identically lustrous red hair fell onto their shoulders and twin sets of slanted blue eyes surveyed all before them with the same cheerful countenance and cool intelligence that Claire had come to think of as a singularly Fraser way of gazing at the world.

Overhead a kestrel shot through the sky calling out to her mate and all three lifted their faces to the pale sun to watch it make its crossing against the thick white clouds.

“Can you remember what to say to people who greet us Mama?”

“A very happy Lammas to you.”

Claire smiled and both father and daughter snorted simultaneously.

“What? That’s the correct thing to say!”

Claire huffed indignantly

“But it’s so dull! Lammas is a celebration of the first harvest of wheat for the year! You don’t want people thinking you don’t care about their harvest Mama!”

Bree scolded, carefully reciting what her Uncle Ian had told her of the reason for this celebration.

“People might give ye their first grain Sassenach, ye need to be prepared to look suitably pleased.”

Jamie joined in, mischief lighting up his eyes, making him look more like Brianna than ever.

“Taking the first grain is a verra great honour.”

“I took your first grain, surely I’ve been honoured enough!”

Claire muttered and Jamie’s eyes flew wide before he tipped his head back with unexpected laughter.

“And as I recall ye were suitably pleased.”

He grinned once he had recovered and Claire rolled her eyes, fighting back her own smile.”

“Don’t worry Mama, I’ll do the thanking, you just collect what they offer.”

Bree organised, handing the small sack Jenny had given her across to Claire who took it with as much dignity as she could muster and folded it neatly in her lap.

*

Claire curtsied and made polite conversation but allowed Jamie and Bree to take centre stage and both seemed more than happy to rise to the occasion.  Jamie kept his countenance as straight and formal as he could, greeting the tenants with dignity and warm smiles but Claire could see the barely contained pride in the set of his shoulders and the indulgent smile that curved his lips each time Brianna made her proclamation of good wishes to the houses they visited.

He shook hands, accepted tributes and handed out small loaves of bread from Jenny’s kitchen but throughout all the dealings one hand remained with Brianna, either around her waist on the horse, on her shoulder as she spoke to people or holding her own smaller hand in his as they walked towards a door. It was, Claire realised, the same way he had declared her as his own the first time he had brought her to Lallybroch and the sight of it warmed her heart.

They continued on, the bread running lower until there were only a couple of loaves left, whilst the wheat sack that Claire held was becoming increasing fat and rather cumbersome and she became quite concerned that it would swing down from her lap like a pendulum and smack a well-wisher in the face if she leant too far over in the saddle to greet them.

“I’ll go alone to the next house, a leannan.”

Jamie said quietly and both Bree and Claire looked at him askance.

“It’s the McKimmie place, ken?”

Jamie’s eyes met Claire’s apologetically and she shrugged, despite the slight flutter of anger in her chest that she felt whenever she had to think of Laoghaire. Bree also wrinkled her nose, she had never met Laoghaire and had no particular reason to dislike the residents of the small house beneath the hill, but she felt that Marsali was too often the centre of her beloved Fergus’ attention and all too often he would send her back to the big house when Marsali came along. Bree would not call it jealousy, not even to herself, and forced herself to be polite when she had to be but she was in no hurry to wish the girl a happy Lammas either.

They rode on in silence; Jamie intended to stop by the shade of one of the large oak trees by the creek so that the horses might take a drink whilst he conducted business as swiftly and hopefully painlessly as possible.

None of them spotted the small woman crouched by the roadside until they were almost upon her. She was crouched low, her head bent and face averted from them and when she looked up, the lower half of her face was covered in blood.

“Oh!”

Claire was out of the saddle and hurrying forward, medical instincts overtaking, before she could think twice, Jamie’s call of warning and muttered curse lost to her.

“Laoghaire! What happened?”

Laoghaire had stiffened seeing who it was approaching but blood was dripping from her chin and the bleed from both nostrils was showing no signs of stopping so she could hardly deny that anything was amiss. Of course the Sassenach couldn’t help herself with a chance to show off her ‘healing’, she thought bitterly to herself as she forced herself to her feet.

“Nothing, I get the bleeds sometimes. It is no concern.”

She answered as Claire pressed a clean handkerchief into her hand and tried to examine her face.

“Please… Mistress Fraser, dinna fash o’er it. I dinna need tending.”

Laoghaire ducked away from the cool touch of Claire’s fingers and waved her away. It was bad enough that she should be found in such a state, but to be touched and prodded by the bitch was more than Laoghaire could stand.

“Da, who is that woman?”

Bree asked, turning to Jamie, her brow wrinkled in confusion and shock of seeing the state of her face.

“Mistress McKimmie, a woman that your mother and I knew long ago, mo chridhe.”

Jamie answered shortly and swung out of the saddle, taking the last of the bread with him.

“Stay here.”

Bree glanced again at the woman waving her mother away and her interest sparked

“But can’t I …”

“Stay.”

Jamie spoke firmly, fixing his daughter with a gimlet eye that brooked no further argument, before turning on his heel and approaching the women.

“Oh!”

Laoghaire curtsied as elegantly as she could, the new handkerchief pressed to her face as Jamie strode towards them.

“Mistress McKimmie, can we help ye at all? We came to bid ye a bountiful Lammas.”

Jamie kept his words formal, but his tone gentle and slowly bridged the distance between them, palms held out in a gesture of peace.

“Ye seem to be in some distress, lass. Will ye not let my wife tend ye?”

“’Tis just a nosebleed Ja… my laird. Nothing more.”

Laoghaire looked at Jamie with pleading eyes and after considering for a moment Jamie offered the small cloth bag of bread to her, gently pulling Claire away, placing himself between the two women, a hand extended to each.

“Then we bid ye a good Lammas and may your harvest be blessed.”

Jamie said softly and offered the woman a small, kind smile.

“Thank ye.”

As she took the bag from him, Laoghaire allowed her fingertips to linger a fraction of a second longer the necessary against the warm skin of Jamie’s hand before pulling away and ducking her head once more in thanks as Claire slipped her palm into Jamie’s hand and drew him to her.

They watched Laoghaire walk slowly back towards her house and Claire waited until she could be sure Laoghaire was out of earshot before turning to Jamie, her brow wrinkled in the same confused frown Brianna had given him minutes before.

“Why didn’t you persuade her to let me take a look?”

“It’s just a nosebleed Claire. Her pride would have taken longer to heal had I insisted she let ye tend her.”

Claire snorted and leant her head lightly against Jamie’s shoulder

“Laoghaire’s pride! This is the second time that you have stepped into the fray for the sake of her pride.”

Jamie looked down his nose at Claire from the corner of his eye and resisted the urge to shrug.

“Ye get a bit swept up in medical matters, aye? It’s why Brianna comes to me wi’ scraped knees and bumps.”

Startled, Claire returned his look with interest.

“Once. She went to you once.”

“Aye, but I expect she will again for I dinna insist on poking at her…”

Sensing an argument brewing Jamie let the matter drop and turned to face Claire properly, placing his hands gently on her arms, smoothing the fabric of her dress.

“Ye have no reason to be jealous on Laoghaire’s account, Sassenach. If ye are, which I am no’ saying is the case.”

Jamie continued quickly, seeing a flash of annoyance in his wife’s whisky eyes.

“I’m not jealous, but … well you seem to have a similar understanding of pride and maybe it’s a Scottish thing…”

Claire stopped, taking a deep breath.

“I sound like a jealous school girl with a crush.”

She smiled ruefully and Jamie grinned

“Aye, maybe a little but I understand it for all it is a daft notion. Ye are as prideful as any lass I have ever known, except maybe Jenny, and ye ken well enough that I pay heed to it.”

“I know, but sometimes I do wonder if … well if your life would have been simpler with someone of … your kind and kin.”

Claire finished limply. She half expected the hands on her arms to tighten, for Jamie to protest and assure her that she was the breath in his soul but when she looked up at him he was still grinning and did not look at all concerned by her words.

“What?”

She demanded smiling back despite herself

“Do ye remember when we were riding to Leoch, after the business with Randall and such and I said to ye that I dinna understand ye, but I like ye well enough?”

“We were walking as I was not able to ride, and you actually told me I don’t make a lot of sense.”

Claire said thinly, her memory of that particular night was not one of the most pleasant she had but Jamie brushed off her displeasure with a wave of his hand and nodded

“Aye, weel it still stands. Ye dinna always make a lot of sense, but I still like ye well enough, ken?”

“I like you too, bloody Scot!”

Claire laughed and slapped his arm lightly. Jamie caught her hand and raised it to his lips, kissing her knuckle and then turning her wrist to gently kiss her palm.

“You are my heart and soul, Claire. Please never doubt it, for I never have and I never shall.”

“Da?”

Bree called and both her parents startled slightly.

“She won’t be happy you gave the last greeting.”

Claire murmured and Jamie laughed, a rich sound that soothed away the last of Claire’s misgivings.

“Aye, she’ll likely scold me for it but I’m used to such things from my warrior queens.”

Twenty-second Christmas

the series is as follows so far:

FirstSecond ThirdFourthFifthFifth Christmas, Part 2SixthSeventhEighthNinthTenthEleventhTwelfthThirteenthFourteenthFifteenthSixteenthSeventeenthEighteenthNineteenthTwentiethTwenty-firstTwenty-secondTwenty-third

———————–

I have to mess with the timeline again but I need another Christmas in here before Maggie dies so I’m putting one in and shifting the rest of the timeline … sue me … 8^)

&&&&&&&&&&&&

Maggie had lay down the law with his previous year’s Christmas gift. It was a smartphone, a simple one, one without a camera on it, one attached to her cell plan, one that she insisted he keep on now because she was getting old and if she fell, he would be the first one she’d call and he needed to be reachable at all times.

He tried to argue but she shut him down, good-naturedly and with mother’s love abounding but still, she told him to be quiet and do as he was told. He’d fought her but she was more stubborn than her daughter had ever been and much scarier so he relented, taking her at her word that she’d be calling him at random times just to check that it was on.

It didn’t annoy him.

It made his heart beat a little faster, however, at the prospect of something on in his house at all times that wasn’t ‘firewall-paranoid-Frohike would be proud, technologically protected from everyone in the world who was not him or Scully or Maggie’. He did, once he got home, stare at it for a long while, power it down, felt the crushing guilt of having turned it off, turned it back on, plugged it in in his office, shut the door, went to bed, returned five minutes later to retrieve it because he had sudden visions of Maggie falling down the stairs, Maggie burning the house down, Maggie getting in an accident, Maggie showing up to read him the riot act for having turned it off in the first place.

It took until the next morning for him to use it to call her with one simple response to the whole situation, “why wouldn’t you just call Scully? She’s closer and can sign forms and stuff and won’t need to wait for a cab to get to you.”

Maggie honestly had no idea it would take him this long to figure that out and she laughed, “just leave it on, Fox, for me.”

He did.

Now he called her like a normal human being, she called him and somehow, Scully began calling him … not often but at least once or twice a week, sometimes just to see if she had any mail there or if he was doing okay or if he needed anything …

Scully’s standard mode of caring when she wasn’t sure if she could handle admitting she cared.

He accepted the erratic thud of his heart when he saw her name flash on the caller ID and the second thud as he hit the accept button. It returned to its normal beat two minutes later when she deemed the conversation over, having satisfied some nameless need buried deep inside for another few days.

He accepted this, too.

&&&&&&&&&&&

They hadn’t eaten a meal together in nearly two years but Maggie had called about a dripping pipe and Mulder had come, even though it was a Wednesday and Scully had dropped by unannounced because it was Wednesday and not Tuesday and the moment she saw him, soaking shirt with a wrench in his hand and he saw her in a messy ponytail, keys dangling from the Apollo keychain held precariously in her teeth while she tried not to drop her purse and what looked like Maggie’s mail, her mother/his adopted mother felt a spark in the air, a flutter in the ozone, a blip on the radar and breathed a sigh of relief because, regardless of what may have happened between them in the last 24 months, the magic was still there, sleeping but stirring awake once again and palpable in her freezing living room.

“Dear, would you shut the door, please? Fox is going to freeze solid and I don’t think he’ll enjoy that.”

Scully quickly gathered her senses, dropping keys and mail, shutting door, opening door again to retrieve dropped keys before finally standing up, blowing stray hair from her eyes with a sudden puff upwards, “sorry. I just … wasn’t … sorry.”

Maggie nearly giggled but managed to contain her glee at her two people finally in a room once again, “it’s fine. Come on in. We were just about to have some dinner. Fox came over to fix a pipe that was dripping.” Twisting her hands gently, “old things don’t grip quite as well as they used to.”

Mulder scrambled out of the way, “yeah, sorry. Come on in. I’ll head out in a minute, just need to find a dry shirt.”

“Fox, I promised you dinner and you are staying. I’ve made your favorite so you don’t have much of a choice in the matter.”

Shrugging but smiling, he looked at Scully, “she really enjoys ordering me around.”

Returning the smile before quickly looking away, “she does it out of love.”

“She must adore me something fierce then.”

Tentatively touching his arm as she passed, “she does.”

Dinner itself wasn’t as awkward as it could have been but there were definitely moments, moments of dead air that pressed down, compressing the spine and shoulders, back hunching involuntarily under the weight of the silence. Scully excused herself to the bathroom in one moment … Mulder to blow his nose in another … both stood in unison for the third to bolt then both smiled shyly for a moment before turning their looks to a Maggie simply shaking her head, “we need some dessert and music. Dana, go find a decent station on the radio for me, please.”

All in all, it was a happy night, all three parties going to bed at ease with the world.

&&&&&&&&&&

Maggie had her normal, raucous Christmas with the family, sans Charlie and Bill but with enough grandchildren and grand nieces and nephews to fill her house to cacophonous capacity. She had invited Mulder but he was nowhere near ready for that and politely declined, telling Maggie he’d be around on the 27th with her gift and to help her clean behind the oven and refrigerator. Instead, he settled with an orange cat on his lap, a bag of Cheezits so if some got on the animal, he’d never know and six bottles of ice tea and root beer.

Nearly asleep, with the cat ninja-like attempting to steal snacks from the open box, he startled awake at the sound of a quiet knock on the front door. Jerking upwards, the cat, the crackers and two empties clattered to the floor, the yowling cat jumping immediately to the coffee table to give Mulder a piece of her mind at the disturbance.

He ignored the cat, optioning to panic at the midnight rapping at his entryway. Peering cautiously through the front curtain, he saw Scully’s car and pulled the door open immediately, “what’s wrong? What happened? Is Maggie okay?”

His intruding presence, inches from her, panic look on his face made her smile, arms automatically going to his chest, pushing him back slightly into the house and out of the freezing wind, “we’re all fine, Mulder, I promise.”

Next he pulled her further in, shutting the door, softest touch of coiled steel to her forearms, “are you sure?”

“Yes, honest, I swear to you. She’s fine. I’m fine. Everyone’s fine. I left there about a half-hour ago and everybody was just going to bed.” Still bundled in her coat and knit rainbow stocking cap with the tassles on top, her pink cheeks peeking through her matching rainbow scarf, “I just wanted to come wish you a Merry Christmas.”

Studying her for another second, he deemed her honest and let out a sigh, “you scared me.”

“I’m sorry. Truly. I didn’t think. I should have called to warn you.” He saw the doubt at her side excursion creeping into her eyes, which began darting around the room, then angling towards her escape, “I can go though. Sorry … sorry again.”

Finally smiling in her direction, “get in here. I need help drinking my root beer.”

Raised eyebrow met crinkling forehead, “root beer?”

“No liquor for me anymore. Interferes with the meds.” Shoving his hands in his pockets, he nodded over his shoulder, “me and Flab share us some of that fine New England root beer every so often. Keeps us young.”

Hearing her name, the cat jumped from table to couch to end table to chair back to Mulder shoulder in silence, perching as if she were queen of the kingdom and Mulder was her throne. Scully laughed, “Flab?”

He scratched the cat’s chin, “Flab.” Finally remembering the rest of his manners, “shit, sorry. Would you like to stay?”

Great debates raced through her mind, even as she was shrugging out of her coat, stuffing scarf and hat into her sleeve, “for a little bit.”

&&&&&&&&&&

Twenty minutes later, they were settled on the couch, Scully on one end, Mulder on the other, Flab stretched to maximum capacity in the middle, head pressed against his thigh and feet pushed against hers. The TV was on but mute and making the darkened room glow blue, “so, don’t hit me for this but I can’t ask your mom and I’ve been wondering for awhile now … what the hell happened with Charlie?”

Scully could only shrug, picking at the label of the bottle in her hand, “nobody really knows. Mom won’t tell me, Bill talks to him occasionally and can’t get anything out of him, Sarah, while she loves us and is around all the time, we’ve stopped asking because it just makes her cry and that bothers the kids and so … we just … ignore it, I guess. The kids bring him up sometimes and we all are fine with that but usually it’s just to say what they used to do with him or something he would have liked.” Turning her head and resting it on the couch, “I hate to say it but it’s like he’s died and we’ve moved on but he’s still alive and we don’t know how to move on.”

Moving his hand to touch her automatically, he discovered his reality a moment too late and instead of hanging there like an idiot, he nonchalantly dropped his hand to pet Flab instead.

Scully was not an idiot and knew what his hand movement had been about though she couldn’t fault him since her body anticipated the touch, craved it and standing up, she turned, then sat on the table, knees touching his, bottle still in hand, although not for long. Setting it down beside her, she let her fingers float over his denim, loose fitting cotton over hard thigh. She didn’t move any further up than just past his knee but it felt warm and comfortable and right.

“Scully?”

“Nothing’s going to happen, Mulder. I know it can’t but I haven’t touched you in centuries.”

His hand drifted to cover hers, digits between digits slipping in divots and dips. Fingerprints circle knuckles, palms against backs as his thumbs finally settle softly against wrists, “I miss you everyday, Scully. Every hour, every minute, every second, every millisecond and whatever the hell comes after that.”

She couldn’t begin to echo the sentiment, even come close to how much she missed him. Needing to break eye contact with him before she came apart completely, she looked around the room, letting the emotions settle, “not decorating this year, I take it?”

Beginning small circles on the softest skin known to man, he felt the delicate tendons under her skin, the underside of her wrist his sole dream in that moment, “I haven’t decorated since you left. I didn’t see any point to it. Have you decorated?”

Truth bubbled up, threatened to pour forth in a torrent of painful, hurtful words but a quick intake of air shored up the dam, “no. Haven’t been in a Christmas mood the last few years. I do well at Mom’s but I go home and I don’t want that there.”

“You don’t want what there?”

Shit, she couldn’t stop it now, “I don’t want that sense of permanence, the notion that I’m going to be there long enough to have to go out and get more decorations, pack things up and put them within easy reach for the next year. I’m not ready for that. I want a place that is mine but I’m not ready to call it my home yet. Decorations are for a home, Mulder, not a stale apartment in the city.” Tears pricked her eyes but always the expert at pushing through them, she blinked rapidly, although not fast enough to hide them completely, “I will someday but not yet.”

Checking the clock and seeing they still had about a half-hour, he squeezed her wrists lightly, “what do you think about decorating now? We could put up all our regular stuff and make this place look like it used to.”

Suddenly, she missed him so much her chest ached, a stabbing pain across her breastbone reminding her she did indeed have a heart, still broken but very much there. Fighting the logic racing through her brain, she nodded, “I’d like that.”

&&&&&&&&

Slipping into old habits instinctively, Scully set up the tree while Mulder hung stockings and garland. Both quietly placed ornaments until Scully came across the one her mother had made him. With a smile, “I knew she made you one, too! She didn’t answer me when I asked but she had that ‘I’ve got a secret’ look on her face.”

“What color is yours?”

“Red, white lettering.”

He scooted just a little closer, brushing shoulders with her, “you should have bought yours with you. We could have added it to the collection.”

“Maybe next time I come by.”

Mulder wanted to smile at the prospect of her coming by again but he couldn’t look forward to it, knowing disappointment would set him on edge so he chose to continue staring at the tree, feeling her warmth, her energy, the life he had once and would give almost anything to have again.

Scully felt it, too and nudging his hand with hers, no commitment, no expectation, just touch, “you got any hot chocolate around this place?”

“I think I got some on my last shopping trip. Flab likes to drink it with me on our Saturday dates.”

Following him to the kitchen, “you have a standing date with your cat on Saturday nights?”

He knew she wasn’t judging so he told her over his shoulder as he rummaged through cupboards, “yeah. We have tuna salad, carrots, biscuits and hot chocolate or steak, baked potatoes, spinach and hot chocolate. We eat on the couch and she gets to share and then she gets to lick my mug when I’m finished. After that comes brushing and then she falls asleep while I watch bad sci-fi.”

Deciding the past wasn’t as forbidden as she thought it was when she knocked on the door, “that sounds surprisingly like our Saturday date nights used to be as well.”

With a glance at her hair, “speaking of brushing, what happened to your hair? I mean, it looks good but it’s not the right color suddenly. I noticed earlier but forgot to ask.”

Self-consciously touching the strands against her shoulder, “yeah, so I was at the hospital and Methylene blue sprayed on me and dyed my hair a lovely shade of splatter-pattern Cobalt and it wouldn’t wash out so I had to bleach my whole head and then the woman who went to dye it back to my regular color did something and it came out like this. It’s paler than it used to be but I’m getting used to it.”

Reaching out to feel it, “are we mentioning the straw feeling?”

With a smile, she batted his hand away, “we are not and I was also informed that if I try to color it again in the next six months, it’ll all fall out of my head so I’m living uncomfortably with it until further notice.”

“Good to know.” As he pulled the hot mugs from the microwave, he handed her one, “I’m liking it, if that’s any consolation but I gotta say, I would have liked to have seen you as a blonde again. It’s been awhile.”

“Well, next time someone tries to turn me into a Smurf and I have to bleach, I’ll be sure to call you.”

Grinning, he nodded, “I’ll be waiting.”

Mugs in hand, they headed back to the couch, where they proceeded to sit until well after 3am, when half-asleep on his end of the couch, he suddenly remembered, “shit! Aren’t you due back at Maggie’s in two hours?”

Scully, more than half asleep on the other end, grunted quietly, “then I’ve got an hour and a half to sleep. Be quiet.”

Flab, happy to snuggle on the lap of the strange lady invading her home for the evening, stretched, kneaded, wiggled and purred her way to sleep, notifying the stranger, in no uncertain terms, she wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

“I don’t think the cat was going to let you leave anyways.”

“My kind of cat. G’night, Mulder.”

“G’night, Scully.”

&&&&&&&&&&&

Baffled as to how she got out of the house without disturbing him, he awoke to Flab on his lap, the Christmas tree lights still on and a new ornament on the tree.

Well, new to the tree but matching the one Maggie gave him the previous year. She’d smuggled hers over, sneaking it onto the tree before disappearing to her Christmas morning chaos. Picking up his puddle of cat, he held her, showing her Scully’s ornament, “that’s your mom’s. She’ll be back someday I hope but for now, I think we should decide to have truly enjoyed last night then move on to breakfast. What do you say … eggs? Pancakes? Tuna?”

The cat simply purred, licking his hand for a moment before going back to sleep.

He kissed the top of her head, “Merry Christmas, animal.”

“Mmmrrrorr.”

You can’t convince me that Spark doesn’t baby his eggs like the mother hen he is

2

A wildfire was sparked about 8 miles southeast of the place we live this afternoon. They just put one out in basically the same area a few days ago. About 7 pm we had a rather rare occurrence for Arizona in May: a thunderstorm popped up. Right over the spot of the fire. And then there was a rainbow 🌈 So hopefully it helped out our first responders a bit! They’ve been busy around here lately!

4

pre-asoiaf characters ♔ Ashara Dayne (unknown - 283AL)

Ashara Dayne was a noblewoman of House Dayne, the younger sister of the famous knight Ser Arthur Dayne. Ashara was tall, with long dark hair and haunting violet eyes. She had a reputation for great beauty. Many men were infatuated with her, including Barristan Selmy and, according to rumor, Eddard Stark. After the events of the Tower of Joy, Ned Stark went to Starfall to inform House Dayne of Ser Arthur’s death and return to them his greatsword, Dawn. Ashara jumped from the top of one of the towers of Starfall, called the Palestone Sword, on the cliff atop the sea. Her body was never recovered. After these events, Ned Stark returned to Winterfell with the infant Jon Snow, whom he claimed as his bastard son, refusing to name the child’s mother. This sparked rumors that Ashara had been the mother of Stark’s bastard, and that grief at learning that her lover had been responsible for her brother’s death was the cause of her suicide.

Couldn’t help churning something out after seeing the Sombra reveal video. This fic sits inside my Reaper and Wraiths AU, where Gabriel brings a good chunk of Blackwatch with him when he goes to infiltrate Talon.

~

Stepping inside La Mesa always feels like coming home. More of the hallways are dark, many of the jets are missing from its hangars, and the plants in his office are long dead, but Gabriel can’t help taking a deep breath and relaxing his shoulders. There’s no aide to meet him in the entryway, but Artemis has turned on the lights and opened up the double doors to let him in. 

“Still holding down the fort?” he asks her.

The lights flicker on, and Artemis’ silvery voice is as familiar as ever when she replies, “Always, Commander.” 

“Good job.” 

“I aim to serve,” she replies, and Gabriel snorts a laugh at the old joke. If there’s one thing that separates the Blackwatch AI from Overwatch’s Athena, it’s that she’s anything but docile. 

He heads down into the guts of La Mesa, drags his fingers along the walls to feel how they’ve aged. There are still scars left from Talon’s attempt to conquer the fort, bullet holes and gauges and blood stains in corners. Artemis doesn’t waste her hard-won energy banks on keeping things clean anymore, and Gabriel’s claws leave trails in the grime. 

Things feel more lived in the closer he gets to las sombras’ lair. The smell of food, the low murmur of voices, and someone has bothered to sweep the floors. Gabriel inhales, grins at the scent of energy drinks and coffee. Some things don’t change.

Marisol greets him at the door. She’s the oldest of their remaining sombras, and it shows in the lines under her cybernetic eyes and the gray in her hair. Her grip is strong, though, and even if she’s old enough to be Gabriel’s mother there’s still a spark in her eyes that have nothing to do with the LEDs inside them. 

“Commander,” she says. “What brings you this time?”

He hands her a datacube. “Talon’s recruited a new hacker. I thought you should know about her.” 

“Interesting.” Marisol brings the cube back to her console. Gabriel follows, stifling a chuckle at how the younger sombras crane their head to see when Marisol plugs the cube in. She pretends to ignore them, but when she opens up the cube’s contents, she projects them onto the room’s main screen instead of her own console. 

“Softie,” Gabriel murmurs.

“Takes one to know one, Commander,” Marisol replies serenely, and smiles when it provokes a laugh out of Gabriel. 

There’s a moment of silence as all las sombras look over the information, the pictures, and then Chava says, “Oh, this one.”

“She’s using our name,” Beimnet says, frowning over in her corner. 

“Coincidence,” Marisol says, pulling the picture to center. “Adebe, you’ve been the one keeping an eye on her, haven’t you?”

Adebe nods, throwing up more information on the big screen. “She’s former Los Muertos. I haven’t been able to pull up too much on her childhood–she’s done a good job covering it up–but she’s from Dorado, and it’s likely she’s one of the Omnic Crisis orphans.” 

Gabriel shoots him a look. “Initial threat assessment?”

Adebe chews on his lip, absently fiddling with his mouse. “Not sure. She has a lot of potential, and if we were still active, we’d be trying to recruit her.” He gestures to the main screen. “She’s breached the Overwatch and Lumerico servers, but we’ve been safe so far.”

Beimnet snorts. “Hard to hack something you don’t know about.”

Adebe shrugs. “True.” He fiddles with his mouse some more. “I’d say… keep cautious. We haven’t been able to purge as much as we should have from the Overwatch servers, and she’s not just hacking into things for kicks. She’s going to use that information sooner or later.” 

Marisol hums. “We’ll beef up our firewalls and send out a few probes to see if we can’t get past hers.”

“Good.” Gabriel looks up at the information displayed across the screen. “Keep me posted, and if you can, get me an in-depth threat assessment by the end of the week. I’m going to have to start working with her soon.”

“Understood.” Marisol nods, makes a note. 

Gabriel waits until it’s done to ask, “Do you need anything?”

Chunhua waves her arm up in the air. “More Red Bull!”

“New kinds of coffee!”

“Rubber duckies!”

“Leggings!”

“We need a new printer too–”

Gabriel bursts out laughing at his sombras, all eagerly waving their hands like little children. “I shouldn’t have asked without a pad. Send me a list, okay? Send me a list.” 

Marisol snorts, shaking her head. “You spoil them.” 

They can’t see behind the mask, but Gabriel smiles anyway. “You all do good work. I’m allowed.”

“Of course, Commander,” Marisol replies, rolling her eyes, but they’ve worked together long enough that Gabriel can see the grin tugging at the edges of her lips. “Well, while you’re at it, send along some nice bath salts.” 

“Your wish is my command,” Gabriel replies, and the delighted giggles of las sombras follow him all the way out of La Mesa. 

Lost, Not Dead

John Grey meeting Faith

I was just rereading voyager and I can’t help wondering what John Grey’s reaction would have been to meeting Faith along with realising Claire is Jamie's presumably dead wife or even what John would have thought at meeting Faith for the first time.


So I wasn’t looking to write any more Faith prompts until I was further along in my Faith Restored fic - I don’t want things to overlap with plot points or scenes I’m planning for that one. But this prompt is just too good. 

This ficlet contains allusions to events/information that appear in Voyager (including small excerpts of dialogue) and could therefore be considered vaguely spoilery.

Available on AO3 here

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