Nineteen fifty-seven was a pivotal year for the Chevrolet Corvette. It was the first year for a four-speed transmission, while its Small Block V-8 grew to 283 cubic inches (4.6L) and offered mechanical fuel injection. Those “fuelie” models established a new performance benchmark by delivering one horsepower for each cubic inch of displacement.
It was also the first year Chevrolet offered options dedicated to enhancing the Corvette’s track capability. They included option 579E, known as the “airbox” package, and option 684, which was a heavy-duty suspension package commonly known as the “big brake” package. The airbox package featured a special sealed air intake that drew cooler air from the front of the engine compartment which helped the fuelie 283 run stronger during long races.
When the kettle begins boiling in earnest, it drowns out the ticking of that awful clock that Sirius found in a train station, or at the bottom of the Thames, or in nineteen fifty-two. He installed it so far up the wall behind the fridge that Lily hasn’t a hope of reaching it unless she somehow manages to grow an extra three feet, and it drives her mad (especially considering he’s only eight inches taller than her). The point of this is that Lily spends as much time as possible per day boiling the kettle. Lately, her rate of tea consumption is just about levelling James’, which is – well, she sent him a crate of real tea last week so it must be just about time to post him another one.
The clock isn’t even on the right time, which is probably the worst part. Actually, no, the fact that Lily has started automatically adding an hour and six minutes on in her head is probably the worst part.
(She was at work last week when her co-worker Dorcas had asked the time and Lily had told her it was four fifty. Needless to say, their boss had not been pleased to discover Dorcas in the staff room packing up her things an hour before the end of her shift.)
Lily looks at the clock, and it reads two forty-five, which means that in nine minutes’ time, James will be seated in front of his laptop, ready to receive an incoming video call from her. She plugs her own computer into its charger, and waits for it to turn on (too slowly), and then she logs in to Skype.
This is a sort-of companion piece to my other TAZ fic, The Things They Remembered, but it totally works as a stand-alone, you don’t have to read one to read the other. They’re just similar in style.
Spoilers for all of the Balance Arc.
Memories are fragile. They fade and warp and crumble away at the edges, even when they are not eaten by static.
When they first walk in the door, she thinks her heart might burst out of her chest. She had observed them from afar, of course, but always from a distance, through reports and spies and magic. She didn’t dare get too close. Seeing them in person again, it was all she could do to stop herself rushing forward to hug them. She could only drink in the sight of them, reminding herself of every detail she had lost in the years away.
Magnus has changed the most out of any of them, a whole decade making itself known on his human body in a way that has not affected Taako or Merle. There’s a new scar that splits his face, right across his eye, presumably from his battle in Raven’s Roost. His shoulders are broader and rounder than they had been at twenty-one, and his muscles sit differently on his bones. Still, her heart thuds at the sight of little things she had forgotten. His sideburns are cut the same way he had kept them for an entire century. He still has that woodworking callus on his thumb. Then he asks her name and she stumbles over her own tongue because she suddenly remembers, clear as day, the sound of a wooden duck hitting the floor, and Magnus’s voice saying Who are you, and she remembers the betrayal that had lingered in his eyes even as his legs went out from under him.
Merle is almost the same, stumpy and inappropriate and waddling after his friends. He’s braided flowers into his beard in a style she hasn’t seen since the sixty-fourth cycle. She didn’t know he’d started doing that again. He absent-mindedly rubs the edge of his hand-axe, and she’d forgotten he used to do that when he was thinking, that it always helped him concentrate.
There’s something wrong with Taako, something she can’t quite put her finger on at first. He seems the same— his hair falling out in voluminous waves from under his green pointed hat, his nails perfectly manicured, his mischievous quirk of a smile when he makes a dirty joke at Magnus’ expense. Then he says, “I’m but a simple idiot wizard” and she almost blows her cover then and there as she is startled into correcting him. But Magnus agrees with him, and he insists, and then she sees it: it’s his eyes. They are unfocused somehow. There is fire missing from inside them.
Memories are splinters. They break apart and drift away, out of context.
“Elderflower macarooooons,” Taako says, waving a plate under her nose. It’s the first time in a decade she’s been offered Taako’s cooking, because she never dared to attend Sizzle It Up. She can’t say no to this, so she picks one up and takes a bite.
“Hot diggity shit,” she says, repressing an outpouring of swears because she’s just been transported back twenty-odd years to a day aboard the Starblaster when Taako and Lup made almost two hundred macaroons. She doesn’t remember why – although in all likelihood the reason was why the fuck not – but she does remember Taako chasing her down the hall with levitating trays of macaroons, and the distant sound of Lup shouting Try the lavender ones as Barry tried to escape the kitchen. She doesn’t remember what cycle this was, or how they even got their hands on the ingredients, but she remembers the taste of seemingly infinite macaroons, and realizes she hasn’t thought about that day since they made the relics.
Memories are whisper games, stories retold and drawings retraced until they are nearly unrecognizable.
Merle is lounging beside her in a mud bath. She has to stop herself from staring at the stump of his arm. Not because she hasn’t seen him missing limbs before – they all lost an arm or a leg during at least one cycle – but because she’s responsible, and because, if her plan works, there is no reset this time. They told her about Kravitz, bursting into laughter at the absurd notion that they had died eight, nineteen, fifty-seven times, and Lucretia bit her tongue, thinking of her own six deaths. What kind of bounty did that reaper have on her? What would have happened if Kravitz had managed to collect the entire crew’s souls? Would they have been safer if they knew about their past? Could she have saved Merle’s arm?
Was this how they had lost Lup?
It’s too late, anyway, and she’s come too far to backtrack now. But she can’t remember the last time she and Merle really talked. There was so little time, in most of those later cycles. There were so many years of broken worlds and the Hunger snapping at their heels, not to mention all the years when Merle went to parlay with John and vaporized in a curl of smoke. So she sits and talks, because this man is like the strange, globetrotting uncle she never had, with stories she’s never sure whether to believe.
“You gotta stand for something, or you’re gonna fall for anything. So listen! You have got faith; it’s faith in you.”
She has to resist throwing her arms around him and burying her face into his shoulder. She’d forgotten so much. She remembered him leaving for parlay with John, and starting the First Church of Fungston, and walking away at the sight of a town drowned by the Gaia Sash, the corpse of a small child floating gently by. But she’d forgotten the real Merle, irreverent, wild-haired, joyous Merle. She’d forgotten the wisdom that spilled from his lips, wrapped in impossibly unconquered optimism. She’d forgotten how much his irreverence was part and parcel of his faith. She’d forgotten how this contradictory bundle of a dwarf could help them all take a step back and remember the joy in their lives. She hadn’t realized how sorely she’d needed his advice these past ten years.
Memories are photographs, snapshots of important moments. But there is an infinity of moments left behind, abandoned to fade into nothing.
The moment the Animus Bell has been taken care of, she orders everyone out. Taako and Merle are waiting in her office, and she needs to go to them, and the Hunger is coming – she’s been seeing the signs for a while now – so she needs to start casting her spell as soon as she can. But first she collapses to the ground. Her legs simply give out from under her, breath shuddering through her body.
She should have known Magnus might not make it out of Wonderland.
That first year, the first world, they’d had a screaming match as Davenport piloted the Starblaster into the next plane, because they couldn’t just leave Magnus behind but have you seen what’s happening down there, he’s dead, they’re all dead. And then suddenly Magnus had materialized beside them, looking just as surprised as all the rest of them. She could remember with aching precision the swooping feeling of relief in her gut. She didn’t know Magnus all that well at the time, despite spending some time on the ship with him that year, but he was still one of only six people left from her home world, and she didn’t want to lose him.
Now he was gone for good, and it feels like a piece of her soul has been ripped out. With the Animus Bell right there, she’d felt the thrall of one of the relics for the first time in her life. How easy it would be, to reach out and just take it, just call up one soul, one soul who already had over twenty resurrections on its conscience anyway…
She wishes to every god in every plane that she were Lup, or Taako, or Barry. She wants to hurl fireballs and tear down the walls around her. She wants to rip the entire Bureau up stone by stone. She wants to barrel towards Wonderland in a whirl of pure destruction. She would trade away her time, her eyes, her luck, the hands that had lovingly written each journal, every single memory she had, to bring Magnus back.
She can’t pinpoint the moment the crew of the Starblaster had transitioned from crewmates to friends to family. She remembers one year when Magnus, Taako, Lup, and Barry had all died. Merle had survived the year, but he’d spent the last few months lost deep in a jungle after a failed attempt to recover the Light of Creation. Those months with no one there but Davenport and Lucretia had been painfully quiet. The Starblaster had gotten damaged in their search – which was why they had to abandon Merle – so they had poured all their time into repairing it, finishing with little time to spare before the Hunger came.
As soon as the reset happened, the whole team had gathered into the Starblaster’s living room. Somehow they managed to fit all seven of them onto a couch meant at most for four people. Lup curled onto Barry’s lap, arms wrapped tight around his neck, their faces close enough to feel each other’s breath. Magnus picked up Davenport and set him, protesting, on his own lap. Merle tried to crawl onto Taako, who had a brief shoving match with him until Merle finished sitting on the edge of the armrest. Lucretia found herself in the middle. She pulled out a journal and began to read.
At some point, she reached the part where Lup and Taako had been separated from the rest of them, and Lup jumped in eagerly to fill in the blanks. Lucretia wrote at lightning speed, recording everything she had missed. Taako and Lup traded off explaining how they had been killed by a mudslide that buried them too quickly for either of them to fire off a spell. Barry, Magnus, and Merle all spoke up to recount their own adventures and deaths. By the end, they had all traded their stories for the year, and Lucretia’s journals were complete.
She can remember that day with the warm glow of a treasured moment. But she can’t remember when she had become comfortable enough with all her crewmates to crowd onto a couch with all of them at once. She can’t remember when she stopped recording their lives because it was her job and started recording them because they were her family. She can’t remember when she started peppering her journals with additions like, “Lup and Taako had to subsist on food they could catch and gather for themselves – of course, Taako’s biggest complaint about this entire arrangement was the lack of spices.”
How many things has she forgotten about Magnus? How many jokes will she never hear again? How much did he learn in their century of travel that she will never know? How long will it take her memory of him to blur at the edges, until she can picture only a vague outline of his face, remember only that his voice was low and gruff, but not the exact sound as he offered her comfort, or jumped out from behind a rock shouting “MAGNUS!”?
There’s no Animus Bell pulling her into its thrall, but for a moment, she is tempted. There’s a way to fix it, after all. She knows where the Starblaster is. She’s rusty, but she’s sure she could pilot it away.
She could save her family. She could fix Merle’s hand and eye. She could summon Lup from wherever she has disappeared to. She could bring Magnus back, so that she never has to forget the kindness in his eyes.
All it would cost is a world.
Memories are empty. They are shadows of the past.
She bursts into the room with her guards and doesn’t know how to catalogue the feelings that swell in her chest at the sight of Barry Bluejeans. His eyes are clear and she knows that he remembers. He knows exactly who she is and what she’s done.
He looks almost exactly the same. Unlike her and Magnus, Barry has not aged. She’d thought, she’d hoped, that when she’d lost track of him as a lich after the first time, that he had made himself a body, lost his memory, and was living a normal life somewhere. But ever since Magnus, Merle, and Taako told her about the Red Robe in Captain Bane’s office, she realized she’d been wrong. Barry had been hiding from her all this time, probably dropping in and out of bodies constantly. He looks, physically, exactly the same as he did the first day on the Starblaster. The same blue jeans, the same round cheeks and square glasses, the same mole on his jaw. The only thing she doesn’t recognize is the cold fury in his eyes when he sees at her.
If Barry – sweet, nerdy, shy Barry – ever looked at her like that before, she can’t remember it.
Memories are lonely. They are reminders of other times, other people, other places, but in the end they are nothing but ghosts.
The words make every muscle in her body still. Davenport’s voice is different. It’s not just that he’s saying words other than his name. He’s speaking with purpose. He’s speaking with clarity.
Ten years, and even on his best day, he could never say her name.
She remembers, abruptly, the first day she ever met Davenport. It was a briefing for the Starblaster mission. They hadn’t even finalized the decision on the crew yet. There were still thirty candidates in the pool. The IPRE only knew that Davenport was definitely the captain. He’d been giving a presentation on the bond engine and the potential risks and rewards of the mission. Starry-eyed, she had stayed back to introduce herself afterward, catching him as he was packing up.
“I’m sorry, I don’t mean to keep you, I just wanted to say— well, I’m one of the youngest people here, so I don’t imagine you’ll probably pick me for the Starblaster, but I think everything the IPRE is doing is so fascinating and— I just wanted to say, even if it’s not for this mission, it would be an honor to work with you in the future, sir.” Davenport had turned, smiling his gentle smile.
“Age is not necessarily a determining factor. We’re most interested in exactly the kind of passion you’re talking about.”
“Thank you, sir,” Lucretia had said. She was shaking with nervousness, but elation inflated her heart.
“What did you say your name was?”
“Oh— um. Lucretia. From the Chronicler department.” Davenport had stuck out his hand to shake hers.
“Lucretia. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
She realizes with a hammer to her heart that she must have met her entire family that day. Magnus, Merle, Taako, Lup, and Barry must all have been in that room with her. They must have all said their names in the brief little ice-breaker. She wonders if they remember seeing her, meeting her, for the first time. Except for Davenport, she doesn’t know when she first talked to any of them. She can’t remember the first words she said, or the first time she met their eyes.
Memories are a comfort. They wrap you in borrowed warmth and safety, and hide you from an unforgiving present.
“You’re DATING THE GRIM REAPER?”
She’s had her world rocked so many times today already that the sight of Lup almost breaks her. The protection spell flickers for an imperceptible instant before she returns to channeling it. Nothing, not even Lup’s return, can distract her now. But still, it knocks the breath out of her to hear Lup’s voice again. The vestiges of her flames are vanishing into the room, their heat dissipating. She’s forgotten how powerful Lup is, how she can swoop in and set the entire world on fire, both literally and figuratively.
She had looked. She had never stopped looking, not really. When Taako had appeared with Lup’s umbra staff, she hadn’t known what to think. When she’d heard about Kravitz, she thought she’d found her answer, as much as it pained her. But still, even as she gathered the relics and started to see the Hunger’s scouts appear, she still quietly asked all her seekers to keep an eye out for a certain elvish woman. Just in case.
She had hoped she had been doing Taako and Barry a favor, trying to let them forget Lup. But the sheer rage and despair in their eyes told her differently. There had been nights when she closed her eyes and let herself pretend she was still on the Starblaster. She had drifted back to memories of happier times and lived in them for a little while.
Taako and Barry had had nothing in their past but static.
Memories are persistent. Even in the darkness of everything forgotten, a certain smell, or a taste, or a sound brings them welling to the present, no matter how ill-defined. But they are still nothing but shadows dancing on a wall. They are not now.
Magnus catches her in a hug, and she sags against him. And then Merle has joined him, Magnus lifting him one-armed to let him reach around her shoulders. And then Lup is there, and Lup is forgiving her, her incorporeal hand brushing along Lucretia’s back. She can’t feel it, but where Lup is, she raises goosebumps on her skin.
It’s not everyone. Davenport stands by the ship, conflict clear in his face. Magnus is motioning to Taako, but he’s planted himself away from her. His eyes still go hard when he looks at her. Where they were once missing fire, it has been replaced with crystal, hard and unforgiving. Barry comes over and stands close, next to Lup, but he doesn’t quite reach out to Lucretia. His too-young face stays still, betraying nothing.
But it’s enough. Her family is here, reunited, and for the first time in over a decade, they are truly working together again. And she realizes, as her heart strains inside her chest, that she had forgotten what it feels like not to be alone.
Summary: You’ve just begun to settle into life as an Avenger when a mission gone awry divides the team in half, and a familiar face shows up just in time to make you second guess your every choice. Third installment of the Worth Fighting For Series
You grinned, leaning back in the office chair, propping your feet up on the desk. “You know me, Pegs. Civilian life just isn’t exciting anymore.”
Peggy tilted her chin up, looking carefully at you from her place on the other side of the desk. Wordlessly, she brushed your feet off the desk, a playful glare on her face. You rolled your eyes, smiling.
“Tell me,” she said, leaning her elbows on the desk, hands folded under her chin. “What alias will you be using this time?”
Warnings: angst feat. a pinch of fluff (but mostly angst)
Author’s Note: This month’s song (or technically last month… it’s for March) is Dirty Laundry by All Time Low. I’m so sorry this took a bit longer than planned, but I hope yall enjoy! The song is kinda about lying… (*coughs* Y/n? *coughs again*)so yeah, expect an argument about that :)
For the fall prompt thingy!! Sterek and apple picking please omg i need it Amber 😭😭😭😭
SO IT’S BEEN MONTHS AND NOW IT’S SUMMER BUT I FINISHED IT (also on ao3!)
Stiles never would have thought apple picking, of all things, was romantic. Then again, he never would have thought Derek ‘Angry Eyebrows’ Hale was romantic, either. And on both counts he was wrong.
Ever since they’d started dating–having gotten together the summer before senior year after Stiles had come dangerously close to dying from the aftereffects of having been possessed by the Nogitsune, Derek not wanting to risk never being able to love Stiles the way he wanted to, open for the world to see–Derek had absolutely blown him away with how affectionate and downright romantic he could be. Not a day went by without Derek performing some sort of grand romantic gesture.
On their first date, Derek had surprised him with a bouquet of deep red roses, despite the fact that they were only going to dinner at the local diner that served Stiles’ favorite curly fries. They held hands throughout their meal, Stiles somehow managing to eat a greasy, bacon loaded double cheeseburger one-handed, playing footsie under the table like the dorks they both unabashedly were.
It had started raining by the time they finished dessert, sharing a milkshake like it was the nineteen fifties, Stiles teasing Derek about looking the part of the bad boy greaser in his leather jacket. As they fled to the Camaro, hoping for a reprieve from the heavy rain, Derek used his jacket as a makeshift umbrella, holding it above their heads to shield them from getting pelted by the cold rain.
Once they’d climbed into the Camaro, Derek draping his jacket over Stiles as he unlocked the doors and jogged around the front of the car to climb into the driver’s seat, they’d luxuriated in the Camaro’s heated seats as they laughed about their luck and poor timing, going on their first date the only time it rained that month. Stiles had made a comment about rain on a first date being a sign of good luck, Derek arguing that it was only wedding days that were lucky if rained on, sparking an intriguing conversation about various good luck signs as Derek drove Stiles home.
Stiles had kissed him on the front porch after Derek walked him to the door until his dad started flicking the porch light on and off. Stiles had smiled like an idiot when Derek insisted he hold on to his leather jacket for a little while, laying a kiss on Derek’s cheek for the sweet gesture. He’d put the roses in a vase and set them on his nightstand after Derek left, stealing glances at the beautiful bouquet for the next two weeks, breaking into a blinding grin whenever he did.
On their second date, a double feature at the local movie theater across town, Stiles had attempted to return Derek’s jacket, slipping it off his shoulders when Derek pulled up in front of his house, only for Derek to insist that he keep it, at least for just a little bit longer. Stiles had proudly strut over to the Camaro, chin held high as slid into the passenger seat still wearing the leather jacket despite the midday heat, slipping his hand into Derek’s as they pulled onto the road.
They’d sat in the back of the darkened theater, Derek leading Stiles to their seats, his werewolf night vision guiding him through the crowded theater, the location of the seats prompting many innuendos and eyebrow waggles from a jokingly scandalized Stiles. He’d only stopped teasing Derek about his choice of seating when Derek had grabbed the front of his Star Wars t-shirt and pulled him into a deep kiss as the opening credits rolled.
They’d spent the rest of the double feature holding hands as they shared a tub of popcorn and a box of Reeses Pieces, occasionally feeding each other the peanut butter candies before leaning in to kiss the butter from the popcorn off each other’s lips afterwards. They both blissfully ignored the appalled, genuinely scandalized looks they received, mostly from the elderly couples in attendance, due to their blatant public displays of affection, Derek assuring Stiles that he had no reason to be embarrassed or shy, casually throwing his arm around Stiles’ shoulders and kissing his temple.
A few hours later they left the theater with Derek’s arm still around Stiles’ shoulders, smiles proudly plastered on both their faces.
Their third date consisted of a nice dinner in at loft, giving Derek an opportunity to flex his culinary muscles, thoroughly impressing Stiles with a three course meal — an appetizer of potato skins followed by an entree of filet mignon before a dessert of various fruits dipped in chocolate and caramel sauces. They ate on the couch, the informal seating belying the sophistication of the meal, cuddling as they took Boyd’s suggestion to heart and watched Luke Cage on Netflix.
They watched Mike Colter kick ass on screen, Stiles making an offhand comment about how hot he was, Derek huffing and crossing his arms over his chest in faux jealousy until Stiles peppered kisses over his cheeks. Whenever there was a lull in action on the TV screen they took advantage of the opportunity to lick the sticky sweetness of chocolate and caramel off each other’s lips, hands tenderly stroking each other’s faces, fingers brushing through each other’s hair.
On Stiles’ eighteenth birthday they had sex for the first time.
Derek made love to him so gently and so sweetly, holding him and touching him and kissing him like he was something to be cherished, something to be treasured and protected and loved, that Stiles had buried his face in the crook of Derek’s neck and cried. Derek had held him for the rest of the night, rolling over so Stiles lay on his chest, running his hand up and down the smooth, mole dotted planes of his back, whispering hushed words of love into his sweaty hair as Stiles sobbed softly.
In the morning, Derek made him breakfast in bed and scattered kisses over the marks he’d left on his neck the night before, combing his fingers through Stiles’ disheveled bed head as Stiles munched on the perfectly crispy bacon and wonderfully fluffy pancakes Derek had made, trying not to be too embarrassed by the previous night’s waterworks.
After breakfast, Derek had literally carried him to the bathroom where they’d taken a hot shower together, Derek, unable to help himself, nipping and sucking at Stiles’ neck as he massaged body wash into Stiles’ smooth, pale skin. Soon enough, Derek’s amorous kisses and less than innocent touches led to what was both Stiles’ first time having shower sex and his first time having sex standing up–all in only his second time having sex at all.
Between moans he thanked the heavens above for Derek’s foresight to have a bottle of oil based lube on hand in the bathroom, smirking to himself as he idly wondered about how long Derek had wanted to fuck him in the shower.
After their steamy shared shower, Derek had carried Stiles back to bed after drying him off, Stiles too boneless with pleasure to even lift his head off Derek’s shoulder. They spent the rest of the day lounging in bed, not bothering to put a shred of clothing on, Stiles lazily pressing kisses over Derek’s neck and shoulders and collarbone as Derek gently stroked his hand up and down Stiles’ naked back, tracing the play of moles across the breadth of his shoulders.
And the romance hadn’t stopped there. If anything, it had intensified.
Derek made a point of continuing to be as romantic as humanly–werewolfily?–possible, constantly one upping himself with every gesture.
A few days after he gave Stiles another bouquet of red roses for their three month anniversary, he one upped himself by scattering rose petals and candles around the entire loft leading to the bed upstairs where he made love to Stiles for hours. Only a few hours after he’d absentmindedly began singing to Stiles on the couch, Stiles’ head in his lap as he re-read one of his favorite books, he pressed kisses to Stiles’ shoulders and back as he mumbled poetry into his skin in fluent Spanish as they laid in bed together.
So, naturally, he was intrigued when, while he and Derek were driving along a country road on the outskirts of Beacon Hills, Derek had pointed out a sign in front of a local farm, advertising for people to pick their own apples, and insisted he pull over. He’d cocked an eyebrow at his boyfriend but parked and climbed out of the Jeep nonetheless, eager to see what Derek had in mind.
Derek slipped his hand into Stiles’ and led him over to a display of produce for sale where an elderly man was restocking a wooden shelf of cartons of cranberries. The man turned to greet them with a warm, toothy smile, wiping his hands with a handkerchief. “What can I do for you gentlemen?”
“Hi,” Derek greeted, holding his hand out to shake the man’s hand. “How much to pick our own apples?”
“Five dollars a head,” the man replied, returning Derek’s firm handshake. He visibly blanched when Derek handed him a twenty dollar bill, shaking his head as he stammered, “Oh, no. This-This is too much.”
Derek simply shrugged and slipped his arm around Stiles’ shoulders, hugging him tightly against his side. Looking back at the man who was still gawking at the twenty dollar bill, he explained, “It’s a special occasion.”
After blurting out a few thank you’s, the man directed them over to the apple orchard, handing them each a hand woven basket to collect their apples in. They had eagerly hurried to the orchard where Derek set to work explaining which apples were the best to pick.
Stiles waited until they were both immersed in picking apples, steadily filling their baskets, to ask the question that had been burning in the back of his mind since they parked. Glancing over his shoulder at Derek who was reaching up to pluck a juicy red apple, he inquired, “So… Apple picking?”
“Yeah,” Derek answered simply, a smile audible in his voice. “My mom used to bring us every year. All of us — me and my sisters — would spend the whole day picking apples with her.”
Stiles smiled himself, biting his bottom lip. He loved hearing about Derek’s family though he always ached at the fact that he would never meet any of them.
“My mom would always bake an apple pie that same night. With streusel on top, not pie crust,” Derek continued on, luring Stiles away from his downright depressing thoughts. A soft, nostalgic smile accompanied his words as he recalled, “She’d use the rest of the apples to make her own apple sauce. And apple cake and cider and muffins, even cheesecake.”
Derek raised his head to smile over at Stiles who beckoned him over with a wave of his hand. He set his basket down and meandered over to Stiles with a sly grin, backing him against a nearby tree. “Yeah?”
“I love you,” Stiles announced, raising his hands to fist them in the front of Derek’s shirt to reel him in for a sweet kiss. The funny thing was it almost tasted like apples.
Summary: In which the girl who’s always in for flowers at 8:30 sharp in the morning is late, and Dean senses that something is up.
Word count: 2732
Warnings: Drinking, some profanity as always, but it’s assholes, mostly. Beware of assholes. I mean the people kind. You knew what I meant, you sly dog.
a/n: A hearty dose of secure-in-his-masculinity Dean who really likes flowers and a sprinkle of fake dating, because we all need it. This is my first fic after a long hiatus, so I’m rusty, I know. It’s also for @thing-you-do-with-that-thing‘s SPN hiatus challenge, and I used the prompt, ““It’s 8:30, I have a hangover and you’re annoying me.” Unbetaed, all mistakes are mine. Also, I apologize to every cool dude named Trent in the world. I see you, man, and this is just a story.
She comes into the flower shop at ten forty-three on a Saturday.
The nineteen fifties were in full swing at Grimme U. Rumor had it there was a new student transfer to the small college and rumors were rarely ever wrong…half the time. Rumor also had it, he was a square.
‘Just what this town needs,’ thought Grell, ‘another goody two shoes’.“ Grell Sutcliffe sat on the hood of her boyfriend’s roadster, applying a fresh coat of lipstick as the rest of the students milled about, heading to their respective classes. She wore a red skirt that had been shortened to reach just below her knees and flared out. Her white blouse was tight fitting and knotted under her breasts instead of being buttoned like normal, exposing quite a bit of her breasts and as always, she wore a red jacket. Her chainsaw shaped earrings dangled from her ears.
Her boyfriend, Sebastian, his hair greased back as usual, was discussing what she deemed ‘guy stuff’ with Slingby and Faustus, two other greasers. Allana and Sascha sat on the hood with her, also fixing their makeup. From the mirror in her compact, she spied someone she had never seen before.
He was tall with dark hair, very kempt, but not greased back like her Bassy’s. He wore glasses and carried a book with him. He wore a white shirt with a black sweater and wore a blue tie. His pants were khaki. “Well, well, well, ladies,” she purred as she closed her compact and turned around to look at the newcomer. “Looks like our square has arrived.” The other girls turned to look as the young man drew closer.
As he drew nearer, Grell saw just how handsome this “square” was and had to hide a blush. She turned back around and called for her boyfriend. “Bassy, yoohoo, Bassy, darling!”
Sebastian shot her a glare for interrupting his conversation and then continued talking, ignoring his girlfriend.
It wasn’t long, however, when Sebastian noticed the newcomer encroaching on what he deemed ‘his territory’. He moved to stand in front of him and stopped him by shoving his palm against the other’s chest. “Watch where you are going, square,” he said threaningly. “This is ‘Demon’ territory.”
“I apologize,” answered the man, stepping back to adjust his sweater and glasses. “I was not aware this section of the parking lot belonged to you.” He reached into his pocket and produced a cars with his name on it. “My name is William T. Spears, I am a new student here. And you are?”
The gang laughed and the girls giggled. Grell watched the scene intently, her knickers growing wet at the smooth sound of William’s voice. “Sebastian Michaelis!” said an exuberant youth with multicolored hair, who popped up suddenly, carrying a grocery sack. “Leader of the Demons!” he introduced and showed off his leather jacket all the members of the group wore. The word “Demon” was scrawled across the back in red letters.
“And you had best remember it, 'square’,” the Scotsman, Eric Slingby slurred the name at William.“
“Then I shall be on my way,” said William.
“Just a moment,” said Faustus, grabbing William’s sweater. “Michaelis didn’t say you could leave yet.”
Grell slid off the hood of the car and ran over to the pair, taking pity on the poor man. This situation needed diffusing fast. She took hold of Claude’s arm and looked him in the eyes. “Let go of him Claude. The last thing you need is to go before the dean again.” She zipped over to Sebastian and sewed her feminine charms on him. “What do you say, Bassy-darling?” She wrapped her arms around his neck, her breasts pressing up against his body. “Let him go? He didn’t mean any harm.” She stood on her tip toes and whispered something naughty into his ear.
“Claude,” Sebastian called the other demon off who seemed a little disappointed. William was released and he proceeded to make tracks. Sebastian looked down at his girlfriend, his hands trailing down her back to grab her ass. “Next time I won’t be so forgiving.”
“Nor do I excpect you to,” said Grell. “He just looked so pathetic, and it is his first day. His lost expression reminded me of our little dog, Ciel.”
Another young woman in a red jacket came running up to the group holding her books looking winded. “That isn’t very ladylike behavior, Ms. Grell, no it isn’t,” she puffed. “And in public too!”
“There’s my red lady,” said the one who had introduced Sebastian and wrapped an arm around his girlfriend. His name was Ronald Knox.
Marcus Flint is a lot like fire when he’s angry: flames lick
from his skin when he bellows, roaring out gasoline explosions and scattering
young Slytherins like mice when they dare to come too close; Neville, of course,
stands behinds him and waits, the water for Marcus to douse himself in. He is
aware that he’s not important, just a
vessel through which Marcus gets to vent his frustrations – and yet he’s so
addicted to the process, too, his misty eyes watching as Marcus slams his fist
against the sturdy stone walls, his skin coming away bloody.
The greenhouses are their safe space for the aftermath of
Marcus’s outbursts, Neville soaking his bloodied hands with a wet washcloth, scrubbing
away embedded dirt and leaving his hands roughly clean, pure again, as if he
had never made the disdainful mistake of standing
up for a pathetic Gryffindor like Neville – and it’s not as if the thought
ever leaves him, or anybody else, but the actions dissipate into the air and
become nothingness until the next blow lands.
It’s months in the making when Neville finally says
something more to him than trying to implore Marcus’s likely nonexistent good
side; he looks dejected by the cycle, his growing dark hair wild where it hangs
over his face. “Why me?” he asks, without looking up – because if he looked up,
that would be it; he would crack,
from side to side.
“Cause you’re so fucking small and pathetic,” Marcus grunts;
and it’s the same reason that people bully Neville, that he knows, but inverted
and twisted – and if either of them understood why, they likely wouldn’t be
there. “And a pushover.”
“I’ll miss you,” Neville says, earnestly: and it’s not necessarily
just the protection he’ll miss, but everything. The company. Marcus. Slytherin
robes fluttering in the wind. The feeling of Marcus’s aura, palpable, tangible when he gets close to Neville,
like his nerve cells have all been sparked simultaneously.
“You fucking better,” Marcus growls – but it’s not ominous,
not scary, not a command: he just
always talks as if his throat has been cut with glass and wasted away with
fifty years of cigarette smoke, an old pipe soul long before his time. Neville
sometimes dreams he can feel the nineteen fifties when Marcus breathes too
close to him, on his neck, the decade pumping through his veins when Marcus’s
hands are closed around Neville’s arms.
It is not a surprise when he kisses Neville – they’ve been
tiptoeing around it for so long, the guardian and the protected; they’re so
connected sometimes by their own trouble that they can feel each other around
the grounds – and when they do they always turn up in the same place, waiting.
They are each others’ only other.
Does it matter that it’s stupid and fucked up and that
Marcus is far too old for Neville? It doesn’t matter when Marcus’s hand is flat
against the nape of Neville’s neck, when his cigarette breath is in Neville’s
throat, when they’re kissing so hard it feels like they’re planets colliding.
It doesn’t matter when they leave, at separate times, never to be seen, never
to be associates to anyone but themselves. It doesn’t matter when Marcus comes
back for more, deeper, or when he floors a clique of bullies who dared to call
Neville an elephant.
It doesn’t matter, because when the year is over, Marcus is
gone; and Neville fends for himself, always wishing he could embody that fire.
He never learns it – he just waits, waits, and hopes that one day he’ll feel it
again, hot against his chest.
also just about every person discussed or quoted in this book is openly disdainful of effeminate gay men and helen branson herself proudly admits to banning “crossdressers” and “flamboyant” men from her bar… and like i’m not obviously going to fucking fault people who were trying to establish a safe social space for gay men in nineteen-fucking-fifty for doing what they had to do to keep the place discreet and avoid attracting attention to themselves, but by the same token, in doing so, they were deliberately making the most vulnerable people in their cohort that much more unsafe, and it really speaks to how far back the #nofems attitude goes and how deeply ingrained it is within the gay community.