nine fifteen

100 Kisses

Summary: You decide to give Bucky 100 kisses for his 100th birthday.

Word Count: 2,845

Warning: cursing

A/N: I’m sure in parts of the world Bucky’s birthday is long over, but it’s still March 10th where I live! Happy Birthday, Bucky Barnes!


9:15 am

Steve Rogers stared at you with wide blue eyes as you attempted to wolf down a bowl of cereal. There were many things out of place in this picture—for one thing, he couldn’t quite fathom how a person could so wildly eat cheerios, your spoon constantly clanging against the sides of the bowl.

For another thing, it was rare that you were up this early on a Friday, even if it was a special occasion. He glanced at the clock opposite him, noting that it was only fifteen past nine in the morning.

The super soldier opened his mouth to say something, but he stopped short at the abrupt sound of your chair scraping its legs against the floor. You shot out of your seat to drop your wares in the sink before floating across the table, depositing yourself in Bucky Barnes’ lap.

Bucky eyed you with a smirk, still chewing his breakfast while you placed your hands around his neck. You stared at him with doe eyes, batting your lashes heavily. “You need somethin’ darlin?” he questioned you, the tips of his lips curving into a smile despite the pointed look he was trying to give.

“Uhhhhh hurry up!” You bounced impatiently on his thigh, squirming around as you started to slip. “I’m only at twenty-seven!”

“Twenty-seven what?” For a quick moment, everything you could have possibly meant flashed into Steve’s mind, some of them not exactly what he wanted to think about over his first meal. With a quirked eyebrow he looked at the close couple, searching their faces for an explanation.

“I’m trying to mmm-” Your voice was cut off when your boyfriend shoved toast into your mouth, the jam smearing across your lips and making it sticky. Smugly, Bucky returned his attention to Steve, who watched on with a bewildered expression.

“She’s attempting to give me one hundred kisses today.” His voice was laced with mirth, a silly smile plastered onto his lips that juxtaposed his usual expression. Steve laughed, understanding your restless behavior.

“Did she give you ninety-nine last year?” Steve asked, very amused by the challenge, but also grateful. While your idea was strange, he found it sweet and affectionate; just the type of love Bucky needed after years of solitude.

“He hid his birthday from me last year, and now he has to pay for it!” you accused, poking your finger into his chest. “Besides, one hundred is a special milestone! Much more so than ninety-nine.”

“Most people don’t make it to ninety-nine,” Bucky pointed out, prodding your cheek with the end of his fork. You could see him fighting the urge to cave into your demands, hiding his grin with a cup of coffee. His eyes seemed to shimmer, much like they did when Steve brought him to the tower for the first time.

It felt like so many years ago that you’d met Bucky, a cautious, broken thing with eyes like glass. You didn’t think you’d ever get to see him so comfortable, so relaxed, so human. It made your heart swell, more so than the kisses ever could.

“Well then, even less people make it to one hundred. I’m glad you’re one of them,” your smile softened as you placed a kiss to his temple, his eyes closing in reverence. He wrapped an arm around your shoulder, placing his head against yours.

“I’m glad you’re here with me. You too, punk,” the brunette’s eyes picked up to Steve’s, narrowing playfully. “I see you over there.”

With a grin, Steve held up his hands in a placating gesture. “Who me? I’m not doing a thing. Just watching my best friend be totally disgusting with his girlfriend.” He was shaking now, wiping a tear away from his eye as his laughter continued.

“I guess there’s some things one hundred years can’t change”


1:34 pm

“Fifty three…fifty four…fifty five…fifty six,” You were on a roll, having placing your lips back and forth against Bucky’s for a few solid minutes. You were getting fast, knowing that at some point he would grow impatient of sitting on the couch for such small pecks.

He hadn’t complained yet, a satisfied smile growing even wider as the other occupants of the room stared in horror while you repeatedly kissed Bucky, counting in between. Sam mimicked retching, his acting turning into an actual couching fit.

“Jesus Y/N, aren’t you tired? And I don’t just mean from having to look at Barnes in the first place.” His voice made you stop, turning to face the man with a weak glare. Wariness showed on your face, emphasized by your off-guard expression and swollen lips.

“Could you please be nice to him for like, one day out of the year? Actually two; Christmas is a good time to lay off him too.”

“Could you two maybe get a room? We’re trying to watch quality entertainment, not whatever gross thing you guys are doing,” Clint groaned, eyes still glued to the television. Tony and Sam agreed with a round of complaints, the entire room beginning to get rowdy.

“Why are we even watching this? It’s March Madness, turn on ESPN!”

“Um, the Joffrey Ballet is performing Romeo and Juliet and I’m missing it.”

“Would you guys mind if we put on Star Trek?”

“Fuck Next Generation, Brucey. Someone hand me the remote or put on How I Met Your Mother.”

All of a sudden the T.V went blank, the remote clanging to floor as you dropped it with your powers. The room was suddenly silent, no one daring to make a move as your eyes returned to normal.

“I was here first, and I say you’re all watching T.V. in another room,” Your voice became dangerously low, scarring the others to scamper out of their seats without any complaints. There were small apologies being thrown at you, mostly muttered from Clint and Tony. (“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, please don’t use your powers!”)

You smiled until a pair of lips were pressed firmly to yours, a much longer, heated kiss that stole your breath and your thoughts. Bucky had grabbed your waist, pulling you to straddle his lap once again.

“Sixty,” he reminded you, voice low as though he was sharing a secret. You blinked, forgetting what the numbers were for in the first place. He had that effect on you.

He smiled, a little embarrassed, but hugged you closer all the same. “I wanted to give you one. That was pretty hot.”  


6:28 pm

“What number are you guys on now?”

Natasha lazily swirled her spoon in her tea, head propped on her fist as she sent a smirk towards you and Bucky. By some miracle you weren’t completely smothering him, the two of you eating like normal people at the dinner table.

“Eighty-six. I’ve been spreading them out, he likes it better that way.” You beamed at him, unaware of his blushing state. Nat, however, noticed this right away, wiggling her brows to gain his attention.

“I’m sure that’s not the only thing he likes spread out,” she winked, and immediately after Bucky placed his head in his hands. A chorus of feminine cackles erupted, making his face even hotter.

“Bucky, please,” you wheezed out, holding a hand to your stomach. You gave his back a little rub, coaxing him out of his flushed state. “What are you acting all shy about, baby?” you teased him, the two of you calling him “ladies man” and “lover boy”, harping back to the stories Steve used to tell about him.

Bucky slowly lifted his head, hands still covering his face. “You know, I thought today was going to be more embarrassing for you than for me. How could I be so wrong?”

You rolled your eyes as his antics, prying his hands away. “C’mon Buckaroo,” you joked, trying to use as many dumb nickname as you could to calm him down. “We’re only teasing.”

“Relentlessly,” he added, and you scoffed, placing your hands on your hips.

“You’re one to talk about relentless! Do you want a list of all the times you’ve taunted me! You did that to me this morning!” Bucky peeked at you through his fingers, catching the frown etched on your face. “It’s only fair!”

“Sorry, don’t recall,” he muttered, getting up from his seat and walking away from you. You sputtered, standing quickly and bumping your thighs against the table.

“Hey!” he was starting to run now, even with very limited space. His back was retreating faster down the elevator corridor, and you picked up speed, getting a running start off the ground before you flew towards him.

“I can fly faster than you can run, Barnes!” you called after him, eyes glowing as you shot forward. Bucky suddenly turned, arms wide open, ready to catch you with a solid stance. You tried to slow down, but you were hurdling toward him like a comet. The force of your collision sent him skidding backwards, his feet tripping over themselves to regain a sense of balance.

You ended up twirling like a top, his arms wrapped around you as you spun into the elevator. Your giggles turned into a hiccups, only to be silenced by a kiss. A deep and slow one, melding your mouths together and ultimately grounding you. Any dizziness that persisted afterwards was not from being spun, but rather from the kiss that had you seeing stars.

“Eighty-seven,” you counted proudly, without a single hiccup.


10:04 pm

Ten o’ clock wasn’t late by any means, but it had been a long day.

There had been something of a party in the common room since seven; a small gathering that consisted of the Avengers, and a few other agents Bucky knew well. Tony had promised it wouldn’t be anything he wasn’t comfortable with, and that if he wanted the celebration over, he could have it.

Tony kept his word. Even though Bucky had been having fun, he realized that while he was busy catching up with Thor and Scott Lang, Y/N had hardly been by his side. Perhaps it was the suddenness of it all, but he felt immensely detached, gazing at her from across the room with longing looks.

You were quite adept at deciphering Bucky’s looks, even from far away. He’d given you this long stare, his baby blue hues so cloudy and dull, reason enough to saunter over to him and press a quick kiss to his lips.

“You okay?” you asked him, concerned that he wasn’t having fun. He didn’t seem to suggest the idea, but you could tell that something was bothering him. The first two times you did it, he shook his head and granted you a small smile.

The third time was different. By the third kiss you felt his restless energy, his hands cupping both your cheeks, seeking some sort of outlet. You held his hands, looking straight into his eyes.

“Bucky,” you paused, making sure he was hearing you. “Bucky are you alright?”

He was beginning to nod, his hair falling into his eyes as he bowed his head, but his chin never came back up. “I’m fine, I just,” he sounded strained, his voice thick with some emotion you couldn’t quite place. “How many left?”

“Ten,” you told him, rubbing the pads of your thumbs over his hands. “Just ten more.”

He licked his lips, grabbing onto your wrist loosely and pulling you away. “I want to go.” He was using short sentences, his speech rushed and shoulders tense.  Today had been long, and social events tended to tire him out quicker than anything else.

“Okay baby, you stay right there, I’ll tell Tony.” You gave him a smile that was forced, the façade vanishing when you turned away from it. You nearly jogged to reach Tony, explaining the situation as best you could, despite not understanding it yourself.

He was good about it. Tony didn’t make a scene, he just waved graciously with a small smile. Bucky returned it, and suddenly the whole room was raising a glass in his leave.

“Happy Birthday, Buck! Hope you had fun.” Steve’s strong voice was wistful, but his smile was not at all sad. Bucky gave a salute, relief seeping back into him as you two looped arms, turning your backs to the avengers.

“You sure you’re okay?” It was simply precautionary, your worry fading when he gave a genuine smile.

“I’m fine, doll face. Just wanted to cash in those last ten kisses in private.”


 11:15 pm

He was smooth, in almost everything he did. It was scary, sometimes, how he could surprise you like that. Bucky appeared so sharp, so bent and twisted sometimes that you were always taken aback by how careful and soft he treated you.

His hands slowly went up your side, bunching the soft cotton of your pajamas impatiently. When he detached himself, his burning blue eyes looked straight at you, lips parted but unmoving, the question unspoken between you two.

“Ninety-eight,” you replied, breathing heavily against his lips, your foreheads touching. He’d been playing this game since he’d gotten you alone, taking charge of the gift you were supposed to give him. He rolled his hips under yours, nails digging into your sides almost painfully as he angled his mouth down for another go.

Suddenly his pursed lips met the pads of your fingers. He blinked, watching as you sat back on your knees, taking his wrists into your hands.

“This is my gift. You can’t take control of it, that makes it yours.” You felt like you were pouting, crossing your arms to convey your annoyance, even it if was acute.

Bucky laughed until he realized you were serious. “What? Darling, come on,” he persuaded, lifting up your chin. “It is for me.”

“Yeah, but it’s, I’m,” you struggled to form your thought into a coherent statement, one that would make sense. “I’m giving you one hundred kisses, in my time. You can’t cash them all in like a rain check.”

That seemed to do the trick, your boyfriend leaning back on his elbows, looking at you with raised brows. “Well when you put it like that,” he drawled, and you used your strength to push him down onto his back.

“When I put it like that,” you mocked him, landing on your side next to him. You grazed your finger across his jaw, tracing the outline down his neck and collarbone. His skin was hot to the touch, but shivers wracked his spine when your nails scratched under his chin. He was eager, hands twitching to touch you. You laughed at his restraint, cupping your hands to his cheeks and giving him a soft, tender kiss that lasted but a minute.

You didn’t need to say it out loud; you both understand that this was the last of them, the final kiss to mark his birthday. He smiled as he shifted to mirror your body, arms snaking around your neck. He wanted so desperately to say something, but before he could even think about it, your lips placed a small peck to his.

“One hundred! Happy Birthday, Bucky!” you grinned sneakily, and he grabbed you, pulling you onto his lap. You laughed at his expression, the fleeting anger that bubbling under his shock.

“What? That so does not count!” he yelled, feeling cheated. He pulled your wrists to bring your closer, so close that your chests touched and your eyes were solely focused on each other. You still stifled some giggles back, and Bucky finally sighed, resigned to the fact that, no matter how devious it was, you’d kept your promise.

“You’re forgetting something,” your chirpy voice reminded him, and he grumbled a quick response before you placed your hands on his chest. You captured his attention a mere moment before you captured his lips, this time in a kiss that mattered.

It started slow and hesitant, as though you were testing unsteady waters. Soon it became deeper, those hovering hands now fully immersed in his hair, tugging at the roots with just enough pull to spur him on further.

Bucky placed his hands on your hips, slowly sitting himself up, never breaking contact. He placed you back down onto the bed, his weight pressing against yours. Your resolve broke, that earlier statement off the table as Bucky guided you onto your back, trapping you between his arms. Your head pressed into the mattress, your body sinking as your breath was stolen from you, Bucky’s chest flush against you.

When the need for air became too hard to ignore, Bucky pulled back, a questioning glance on his face. “Pretty sure I’m not one hundred and one,” he inquired, and you smiled.

“One for good luck.” Your answer made him break out into a grin, one so contagious you nearly forgot about everything else. He slowly leaned down and pressed a chaste kiss to your lips, a good and quick thing that conveyed everything it needed to.

“I don’t need luck when I’ve got you.”

Full list of Satanic Sins and my additions/edits

The Nine Fifteen Satanic Sins

by Anton Szandor LaVey ©1987
With additions/edits by Alexander Antonin ©2012 and ©2015 (in italics)

1. Stupidity—The top of the list for Satanic Sins. The Cardinal Sin of Satanism. It’s too bad that stupidity isn’t painful. Ignorance is one thing, but our society thrives increasingly on stupidity. It depends on people going along with whatever they are told. The media promotes a cultivated stupidity as a posture that is not only acceptable but laudable. Satanists must learn to see through the tricks and cannot afford to be stupid.

2. Pretentiousness—Empty posturing can be most irritating and isn’t applying the cardinal rules of Lesser Magic. On equal footing with stupidity for what keeps the money in circulation these days. Everyone’s made to feel like a big shot, whether they can come up with the goods or not.

3. Solipsism Projection—Can be very dangerous for Satanists. Projecting your reactions, responses and sensibilities onto someone who is probably far less attuned than you are. It is the mistake of expecting people to give you the same consideration, courtesy and respect that you naturally give them. They won’t. Instead, Satanists must strive to apply the dictum of “Do unto others as they do unto you.” It’s work for most of us and requires constant vigilance lest you slip into a comfortable illusion of everyone being like you. As has been said, certain utopias would be ideal in a nation of philosophers, but unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, from a Machiavellian standpoint) we are far from that point.

4. Self-deceit—It’s in the “Nine Satanic Statements” but deserves to be repeated here. Another cardinal sin. We must not pay homage to any of the sacred cows presented to us, including the roles we are expected to play ourselves. The only time self-deceit should be entered into is when it’s fun, and with awareness. But then, it’s not self-deceit!

5. Herd Conformity—That’s obvious from a Satanic stance. It’s all right to conform to a person’s wishes, if it ultimately benefits you. But only fools follow along with the herd, letting an impersonal entity dictate to you. The key is to choose a master wisely instead of being enslaved by the whims of the many.

6. Lack of Perspective—Again, this one can lead to a lot of pain for a Satanist. You must never lose sight of who and what you are, and what a threat you can be, by your very existence. We are making history right now, every day. Always keep the wider historical and social picture in mind. That is an important key to both Lesser and Greater Magic. See the patterns and fit things together as you want the pieces to fall into place. Do not be swayed by herd constraints—know that you are working on another level entirely from the rest of the world.

7. Forgetfulness of Past Orthodoxies—Be aware that this is one of the keys to brainwashing people into accepting something new and different, when in reality it’s something that was once widely accepted but is now presented in a new package. We are expected to rave about the genius of the creator and forget the original. This makes for a disposable society.

8. Counterproductive Pride—That first word is important. Pride is great up to the point you begin to throw out the baby with the bathwater. The rule of Satanism is: if it works for you, great. When it stops working for you, when you’ve painted yourself into a corner and the only way out is to say, I’m sorry, I made a mistake, I wish we could compromise somehow, then do it.

9. Lack of Aesthetics—This is the physical application of the Balance Factor. Aesthetics is important in Lesser Magic and should be cultivated. It is obvious that no one can collect any money off classical standards of beauty and form most of the time so they are discouraged in a consumer society, but an eye for beauty, for balance, is an essential Satanic tool and must be applied for greatest magical effectiveness. It’s not what’s supposed to be pleasing—it’s what is. Aesthetics is a personal thing, reflective of one’s own nature, but there are universally pleasing and harmonious configurations that should not be denied.

10. SolipsismThe real world DOES exist. Granted, a large portion of the perceived world is invented by your brain, but that’s based on data from the real world. Anyone who thinks they’re the only person in the world, and that they create 100% of reality, is a delusional fool.

11. Ignorance of ignorance - It can be very dangerous to not be mindful of the ignorance of other people, especially children. This is related to “solipsism” and “projection,” but is different because not only might you be projecting your own abilities and knowledge onto someone who is differently abled and not as knowledgeable as you, but refusal to acknowledge your ignorance of someone’s ignorance can easily become stupidity. And trying to raise children while constantly expecting them to be as able and knowledgeable as you are is not only stupidity, but is often cruelty.

12. Neuotypical-centrism - Never assume that someone can do something you can just because “everyone” can. The brain is a self-programming computer prone to programming errors and hardware defects, neither of which can be fixed at this point in time. The mind is a function of the meat, and if something is wrong with the meat, something will be wrong with the mind. Mental disabilities are far more difficult to work around than physical ones. Have patience and compassion with people different from you, but also don’t treat them like idiot children, either.

13. Over-Lording/Cult-Leading - This is what I’m calling the opposite of herd conformity; it’s when you bring people in with your charisma and - either intentionally or not - start manipulating them into becoming your own little herd of sheep, with you as their shepherd.

14. Pointless Judgmentalism - Hating someone simply because they have a different belief or preference than you, on something inconsequential, is pointless and wasteful judgmentalism. What difference does it make what someone chooses to eat or not to eat?(1) What difference does it make if someone believes in God or not, as long as they aren’t forcing their beliefs on you or acting like a complete jackass to you about it? Why do you care that someone likes to take a cock up the arse, as long as they aren’t forcing you to watch or participate in something inappropriate? As the Wiccans say, “An ye harm none, do what ye will.”

15. Modeltheism - When you hold on so tightly to your beliefs, or to your model of the way the world works or should work, that you take on a mentality that all must convert to your way of thinking or else be killed or treated like the scum of the earth, that’s modeltheism. Anyone can fall victim to this parasitic notion, from hard-core Christians to atheists to Satanists, and can be applied to political stances or even taste preferences (LOTS of modeltheists in the music fandom). And because modeltheism tends to make its hosts close-minded, arrogant, and often times make them fall victim to the sin of stupidity, it is a sin to be very wary of indeed.

1 = Yes, I go off on certain kinds of people a lot, such as vegans, but my beef is not with vegans in general, rather with the 14th sin, Modeltheism. My ire in such cases is always directed at modeltheistic vegans/others.

the beauty of eve sedgwick’s work is that she predicted all her critics’ critiques such that her original texts, with those predictions in them before the critiques were even written, are like clapbacks from the grave. ruth leys tries to undercut the affect theorists who take silvan tomkins’ theory of emotions seriously (as leys describes tomkins basic emotions theory: ”the existence of six or seven (or is it eight or nine or even fifteen?) discrete emotions or ‘affect programs’ located subcortically in the brain and characterized by distinct, universal facial expressions”) — AKA sedgwick and frank, who co-edited the tomkins reader. leys self-assuredly writes, “Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick and Smail are two such scholars [who accept the basic emotions paradigm…” but sedgwick, way back in the intro to the tomkins reader, had already written this glorious rejoinder in 1992: 

At some level we have not demanded even of ourselves to ascertain whether we believe this hypothesis to be true; we have felt that there was so much to learn first by observing the autonomic nervous system of a routinized dismissal of it in the terms of today’s Theory. 

she goes on, slicing into academia’s culture of critique: 

The moralistic hygiene by which any reader of today is unchallengeably entitled to condescend to the thought of any moment in the past (maybe especially the recent past) is globally available to anyone who masters the application of two or three discrediting questions. How provisional, by contrast, how difficult to reconstruct and how exorbitantly specialized of use, are the tools that in any given case would allow one to ask, What was it possible to think or do at a certain moment of the past, that it no longer is?

leys’ critique is basically “but science!” and sedgwick had not only already acknowledged that humanities scholars would take issue with too much empiricism but that scientists would find tomkins’ theory not empirical enough. leys agrees with psychologists who think “the emotion categories posited by Tomkins and Ekman do not have an ontological status that can support induction and scientific generalization” — but this is sort of why sedgwick liked tomkins; it was nonscience and nontheory, scandalous to the fields that already existed, something she could reference but didn’t have to stick to. it wasn’t about being inductive. the only thing sedgwick wanted to induce was seduction, and she did it by way of covering all her bases. her defensive writing was so impenetrable, so right, that all that was left was to feel a sort of affinity with her. and as the father of reparative reading, she accomplished this through paranoia. 

Mentionitis

Written for the @timepetalsprompts drabble prompt - ‘game’, this is actually 250 words. Sooo…two-and-a-half drabbles?

Nine/Rose, Rose & Jack, 250 words, rated G

~*~O~*~

“You, my dear Rosie, have got mentionitis,” Jack accused, leveling a finger at her.

“What are you talking about?”

“It’s when you fancy someone so much that you can’t stop talking about them. It’s like a sickness. Mentionitis.”

Rose crossed her arms, smirking. “And you think I’m afflicted with your little made-up disease?”

“Oh yeah. You’ve got it bad. You can’t go more than three sentences without mentioning the Doctor.”

“S’not true,” she sulked.

“Tell you what,” he said, leaning forward, “let’s make it interesting. Tomorrow, I’ll pick a random hour, and I’m going to keep count. Every time you say the Doctor’s name, you owe me a credit. If you get through the hour owing me less than twenty credits, I’ll give them all back and say I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, alright,” Rose said, one corner of her mouth turned up. “But you’d better be ready to apologize.“

“I hope you’re ready to crack that piggy bank, Tyler.”

“Dream on, Harkness,” she snickered.

~*~O~*~

The next day found Rose scowling, handing thirty-three credits over to a beaming Jack.

“See, Rosie? Mentionitis. I told you! I knew you couldn’t shut up about the Doctor. Maybe you should mention to the man himself that you’re afflicted with this dread disease and can’t shut up about him.”

Rose flushed. “Don’t you dare tell him about this…nonsense mentionitis, Jack Harkness!”

Jack snorted. “You think he’s not aware of it? I won fifty-four credits off of him this morning with the exact same bet.”

i was telling my mom once how like reading aloud in french class was all fun and games til it came time to pronounce dates n shit. i would see “1995″ on the page nd my face would just drain of color. in order to say 1995 you have to say “mille-neuf-cent-quatre-vignt-quinze,” which translates to “thousand-nine-hundreds-four-twenties-fifteen,” which just fyi is a nightmare and the entire french language should be ashamed,

There’s something so immensely satisfying about collecting a big series.

<my collection of the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich>

youtube

Diamond Eyes - Nine Fifteen (Curious Kontrol Remix)

2

Imagine; Father Calum finally let his little girl go on a date, on the rule that the guy brought her home by nine pm. When nine fifteen reaches and she isn’t home you walk in to see your husband a little angry to say the least. We can all say his little girl didn’t see that boyfriend any more after Calum scared him off.

408

2408 = 661 055 968 790 248 598 951 915 308 032 771 039 828 404 682 964 281 219 284 648 795 274 405 791 236 311 345 825 189 210 439 715 284 847 591 212 025 023 358 304 256 — six hundred sixty-one novemtrigintillion, fifty-five octotrigintillion, nine hundred sixty-eight septentrigintillion, seven hundred ninety sextrigintillion, two hundred forty-eight quintrigintillion, five hundred ninety-eight quattuortrigintillion, nine hundred fifty-one tretrigintillion, nine hundred fifteen duotrigintillion, three hundred eight untrigintillion, thirty-two trigintillion, seven hundred seventy-one novemvigintillion, thirty-nine octovigintillion, eight hundred twenty-eight septenvigintillion, four hundred four sexvigintillion, six hundred eighty-two quinvigintillion, nine hundred sixty-four quattuorvigintillion, two hundred eighty-one trevigintillion, two hundred nineteen duovigintillion, two hundred eighty-four unvigintillion, six hundred forty-eight vigintillion, seven hundred ninety-five novemdecillion, two hundred seventy-four octodecillion, four hundred five septendecillion, seven hundred ninety-one sexdecillion, two hundred thirty-six quindecillion, three hundred eleven quattuordecillion, three hundred forty-five tredecillion, eight hundred twenty-five duodecillion, one hundred eighty-nine undecillion, two hundred ten decillion, four hundred thirty-nine nonillion, seven hundred fifteen octillion, two hundred eighty-four septillion, eight hundred forty-seven sextillion, five hundred ninety-one quintillion, two hundred twelve quadrillion, twenty-five trillion, twenty-three billion, three hundred fifty-eight million, three hundred four thousand, two hundred fifty-six (123 digits, 1510 characters)

Pacifica

He moves to the seaside expecting warm sand and clear air to be a balm against his loss, and arrives on the 24th in the middle of Summer to fog, brine and salt strong in his nostrils. He heaves cardboard boxes into the dusty house that is now his, and ignores the taste of salt against his lips.

It’s just the sea, Levi tells himself. 

He spends two weeks clearing out the detritus of his childhood, posting ads on Craigslist, (Hardwood Bedroom Set, gently used, US$200); an attempt to empty it of all memory. The photo albums he tosses into the fireplace, and laughs bitterly when some of them fall out of the yellowed adhesive-pages, scattered at his feet.

The sight of Isabel’s sepia-smile sucks the air out of him, and his lungs feel bruised with every breath he takes. He picks the photograph up with trembling hands, memory rattling around in his skull. The both of them, fifteen and nine at the beach.

“Brother!” Isabel shrieks, sand crusted on her legs as she laughs and laughs.

He slips the photograph into his wallet. It’s slightly singed. For the first time in weeks, his cheeks are dry.

He walks the ten minutes to the village to get groceries when he finally tires of hiding in his house and eating out of crappy takeout boxes. He recognises the man at the counter through the greying hair and full moustache.

Mr. Tom?” he asks, disbelieving.

The old man pauses, liver-spotted hands halfway through manoeuvring eggs into a paper bag.

“Yes?” Tom replies, squinting at Levi.

“You probably don’t remember me,” Levi begins, already wishing he hadn’t said anything. “I’m Levi Ackerman. My sister and I used to bother you a lot when we lived here.”

Tom laughs, and it sounds the same — breathy and warm, and Levi smiles. Eleven years, and nothing has changed.

He leaves the store with a bag of groceries and a promise to visit already pricking guilt in his chest. On the way home, he meanders down to the shore, walking until the wind bites at his cheek and his fingers go numb around the handle of his paper bag.

He walks until the concrete path gives way to loamy sand-soil, the heels of his boots sinking into the ground with each step. The wind-battered trees he remembers are still there, bent halfway at the trunk and scrubby. The pedestrians are as he remembers; old couples with their hats and fleece jackets, the mothers with strollers of bundled up babies. He nods, murmuring Good Morning’s to them, bending down once or twice to scratch under a dog’s chin. The sea feels the same, cold and unforgiving, and despite the years he’d spent living in the claustrophobic embrace of cities, he feels himself slip into the slow amble that he used to know.

Then again, he supposes that there really isn’t much that he needs to do, now.

He takes to walking by the sea in the mornings, and some of his neighbours start to recognise him. They talk to him despite his awkward reluctance, as though trying to overwhelm him with chipper friendliness. They push food on him when all else fails, and he ends up helping them with their bags when he notices their fatigue. 



 “Such a sweet boy,” they call him, and Levi laughs. He hasn’t been called a boy for years, but here, it seems to fit.

There’s already somebody at the top of the cliff when Levi reaches the end of his hike one morning. When the stranger turns, Levi catches sight of green eyes and thinks, Isabel, stepping forward with hope desperate in his throat before catching himself.

“Good Morning,” the boy says, peering at him worriedly, “Are you okay?” 


“‘Morning,” Levi replies, hoarse. “I’m fine. You- you look like my sister. It surprised me.”

The boy blinks, and laughs easily.

“Most people wouldn’t enjoy being told that, you know.”

Levi doesn’t reply, shrugging a little and looking past the boy and his green eyes to gaze out at the sea. 



 “What’s she like? Your sister.”

Levi swallows.

“She was bright. Laughed a lot. A brat. Kind of stubborn,” Levi murmurs. This is the most he’s spoken in a month and it’s nothing he ever wanted to speak of, but the kid just sits down on the pebbly floor and looks up at him, patient.

“I’m sorry,” he offers, when Levi doesn’t continue. Levi sits down, too, dirt and grass cold under his palms. 



“I’m Eren, by the way.”

“Levi.”

They stay like that for a while, talking and skirting around topics that are clearly too sore until Levi feels less raw around the edges. Eren has only been here for a week, meaning that he is the only person that hasn’t lived here for the past 30 years that Levi has met so far, and he tells himself that it’s the only reason he’s reluctant to go home.

“I’ll see you around, Eren,” Levi says, and means it.

It turns out that Eren, too, has been living out of takeout boxes, so Levi drags him out to drive into the nearby town, because no self-respecting resident can live without having eaten Maria’s sandwiches. Eren fiddles, connecting his phone to the car stereo and hums along to songs that Levi doesn’t recognise, but enjoys. 

They bring their lunch to a park, which is more like a plot of bare land, concrete and wildflowers warring to occupy the same space. The ravens edge closer, suspicious until Levi pulls a piece of meat from his sandwich and tosses it to them. Eren laughs at a particularly fluffy raven, he himself being the most windswept thing that Levi has seen.

He ruffles Eren’s hair into further disarray, fingers tangled in the soft brown hair as Eren ducks his head down as he laughs and laughs.

Eren is not Isabel. Levi knows this. 

On certain mornings, Levi wakes up drowning. His room is bare; cardboard boxes still half-unpacked, and there is no air to be had at 5:43 a.m. and grief and memory is filling your house to its roof. He goes to run near the ocean, sand in his shoes and his steps heavy and dragging. His lungs are searing by the time he reaches the cliff where he met Eren, and he crumples to the ground with a passing thought that Eren would be here in a few hours.

For some reason, the thought calms him.

 He doesn’t want to be alone.

By the time Levi has shown Eren all of town, it has been two months and half a dozen childhood hiding spots rediscovered. The stories come easy, now, stories of skinned knees and captured sea creatures found on the muddy shore. Eren soaks them all in, a new, warm constant in this cold, old town. 

He moved to the seaside expecting warm sand and clear air to be a balm against his loss, and instead found a boy with eyes like the ocean on a bright afternoon, warm and blue-green. Eren is reconciliation to a home Levi had forgotten.

He heaves cardboard boxes into the house that’s now theirs, ignoring the sound of Eren’s voice calling for help with moving his furniture.

“I like it here,” Eren says, stretched out on the deck at Levi’s house. 


“Me too,” Levi says, and finds that he means it.

@mlk94


Matt sighs when he walks through the hospital doors.

Since he got fixed from being made into a Swiss cheese he’s not been too fond of hospitals, but a job is a job is a job and saying no to Mello just because you don’t feel like it isn’t exactly the way to have a good day.

So there he is, queuing at the reception like a normal citizen, trying not to let the hospital smell and fluorescent lights get to him.

The receptionist coughs into her hands when Matt finally gets to her, and Matt can’t be bothered to stop himself from glaring.

“Uhh, Mike Jones. I’ve got an appointment with nurse… uh, Cortez?”

The bitch in front of him scowls back at Matt and slowly, slowly checks the information from the computer.

“Room nine. Fifteen minutes.”

~~~~~

Half an hour later Matt’s still outside the room, waiting for this supposedly-relative-of-Mello’s to get him for whatever tests Mello made him take.

His headache is going to fucking kill him.

Matt gives it another five minutes before he’s out.

Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

cinnamonskull As requested—-


  A little yawn comes from Levi’s mouth as he unlocks the library door and heads in. It was just before nine, about fifteen minutes until the library was to open. He dropped his bag on his desk a little ways in from the door and took off his jacket, draping it over his office chair.

    He spent the remaining minutes of peace to get the building ready for the day. He took the upside down chairs that sat on the children’s tables and put them on the ground, pushing them under the tables neatly and other odds and ins before going back up to the front. He made a mental note to wash the windows soon as he flicked the ‘closed’ sign to ‘open’.

    It wasn’t fifteen minutes later that the door opened. The bell jingled lightly to announce the presence of the newcomer. Levi’s eyes flicked up from the list of overdue books on his computer screen to see two people come in. One was an anxious looking man with black hair. He seemed to be a college student, by his loose sneakers, gray lounge pants and hunter green hoodie reading Trost University. The freckled kid sped off, towards what looked like the psychology section.

    “Exam time,” Levi mutters before his eyes travel back to the second to enter.

    He was a young man, looking to be in his early twenties, with brown hair that managed to stick out from under his multicolored beanie. His wide green eyes made him look younger than he really was, but Levi knew – from registering him for his library card, mind you – that this kid, Eren Jaeger was his name, was in fact right around twenty four. He was a regular at the library. Levi guessed he was either jobless, taking college courses online, or he made money over the internet because almost every day, he comes in, and sits his ass down in the back, and does an assortment of things on his laptop.

    “Good morning Levi,” Eren calls cheerfully, approaching Levi’s desk with a large grin.

    “Geez, what is your problem, kid? It’s a fucking library, quit yelling,”

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