one of these graphics looks different to the others and it's getting on my nerves

Flashes (Part 4 - End)

Summary: Soulmate AU. “The fault, dear Brutus is not in our stars, / But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” - William Shakespeare (Julius Caesar)

Pairing: Bucky Barnes x reader

Word Count: 2,964

Warnings: language, fluff, angst, pain, descriptions of injuries, graphic death

(Do not read if you’re squeamish or easily frightened or triggered by this sort of thing! DO NOT DO IT. I will completely understand.)

A/N: Well, I did it…at least I tried. The lovely @minervaem challenged me (sort of) to do an angsty story. Thank you to my friends Rochelle, Nicole, Lauren, and Bella for their support. I’m sure they are glad to see this go, too, lol.

I hated every second of this story. PS - I’m not doing an alternative ending, I’m not doing a follow-up. I want this gone!

Part 1 - 2 - 3 - 4

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answering asks!

been a while since i answered some QUESTIONS so here we go

remember to check my faq before asking! thanks!

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A/N: I feel like a lot of the fic I read (and write) centers around Emma, and paints Killian as a pining and/or doting partner, and we never really get to see the angry pirate side of him. I wanted to experiment with something different, so this piece aspires to be more Killian-centric and a little bit darker. Hopefully it comes out as what I imagine it to be. Warning, graphic depictions of violence ahead. American Assassin inspired AU.

Summary: After tragedy tears his life apart, Killian Jones is determined to exact revenge on the ones who wronged him. But his path to revenge turns out to be a winding one, filled with surprising characters that may even change his life again.

Word Count: 1306

Links: ao3,


Killian toyed with the ring in his pocket while he waited for the bartender to make their drinks. He’d spent a considerable amount of time thinking about how he’d do this, but he hadn’t been able to come to a decision. Putting the ring in the drink seemed a little too cheesy, not to mention a choking hazard, but he wanted to present it in some special way, not just hand it to her like a bar of chocolate.

The bartender set two drinks down in front of him, and as Killian’s eyes took in the large, tropical flowers sitting atop each, he knew what he wanted to do. Carefully, he pulled the ring from his pocket and balanced it in the center of the flower, threading the pistil through it. Smiling he turned and located Milah on the beach, where she was emerging from the water, hands running over her dark curls. She smiled when she saw him and jogged toward him, accepting her drink while keeping her eyes locked on his, and he placed his hands on her waist, pulling her closer. Milah’s eyes flicked down as she went to take a sip of her drink, and the shine of the ring caught her attention at last.

“Killian?” she asked, her voice brimming with surprise.

“Milah, my love,” he said, taking her free hand in his, “you are everything I could ever need in this world and so much more. You brought me out of the darkness and showed me that life could be more than just loss. You’re my one true love, and there’s no one else I would rather travel the world with. I never want to be parted from you. Will you,” he continued, dropping to one knee, “allow me the honour of becoming your husband?”

“Are you serious?” Milah exclaimed, her eyes glistening with tears. “Are you really serious?”

“Is that a yes?” he asked, nerves practically paralyzing him.

“Yes, of course that’s a yes!” she nearly squealed, falling into his arms as he stood and peppered her face with kisses.

Killian took the ring and slipped it onto Milah’s finger, and she pressed a long kiss against his lips. He opened his mouth under the pressure and was only dimly aware of the applause coming from the people around them.

After a few moments, they broke apart, and Milah buried her face in his neck, laughing happily.

“I should go get the camera,” Killian whispered to the top of her head, his heart pounding with joy.

“Okay,” Milah agreed, stepping away. She took his cup and lay down in one of the lounging chairs.

Killian took a moment to appreciate how beautiful she looked before jogging off in the direction of the hotel. As he went, he noticed a speedboat zooming across the shallows, sending waves across the sand. Boats themselves weren’t unusual, but it was the first time he had seen one so close to the beach. There was nothing sinister about a speedboat, however, so Killian simply kept moving, wanting to get up to their room and grab the camera as quickly as possible so he could return to celebrating.

Just as Killian was wrapping his hand around the hand of the door, he hear a barrage of gunshots, and he turned to see bullets spraying across the beach, striking down one person after another. Fear gripped him, and he turned immediately to run back toward Milah, but people were running everywhere, and he could no longer see where she was. Her brown curls blended into the crowd of people and despite his best efforts, he couldn’t seem to locate her.

“Milah!” he screamed at the top of his lungs, trying desperately to be heard over the hundreds of other people calling for their loved ones. “Milah!”

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Kylux (bottom!Ren) recs

Compiled a list of some of my favorite fics as the fandom continues to grow. I’ll be posting warnings and short descriptions here. For more, check Part II.

“I can walk without your hand.”

“I know,” Hux says, not moving his hand.

A fantastic slow burn-type fic showing Hux and Ren’s developing relationship. It shows how their feelings for each other evolve throughout canon, and how certain events in the movie affect their already messed up dynamic (meaning they get, well, kinkier). Oh, and the part where Hux meets Leia is something else. Some implications of switching.

“See now that it’s just the two of us here don’t you feel stupid wearing that thing?” Hux says. “I know I do. I feel silly. It feels as though we’re trying to do bizarre Darth Vader roleplay to revive our marriage.”

“Interesting that you jump to that analogy,” Kylo says.

One of the earliest fics written, and still one of the funniest. It’s a get-together fic told mostly through conversations. I reread this constantly because it’s just so hilarious. Features snarky!Hux and deadpan!Kylo, and part of what I love about it so much is that it portrays Kylo as the socially awkward duck that he is. It’s also really, really sweet.

Kylo pulls back, panting. “You want me,” he breathes, looking a little stunned.

“I should have thought that would be fairly obvious,” Hux says, biting Kylo’s lip himself this time.

A virgin!Ren fic. Basically, Ren tells Hux he’s a virgin at the last minute and that turns Hux on even more. Lots of delicious smut. And one of the most creative uses of the Force that I’ve read.

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Talk To Her

Fic Request: The plan worked to get Lydia out but she doesn’t want to talk about what happened in Eichen but finally tells Stiles.

Rating: T

Genre: Angst, Comfort

Author: vforvafrous

Author note: there is the tiniest bit of a graphic description, it’s not much but beware anyways… I really hope this is what you expected from this prompt, also this is my first time doing this so please be nice.

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Confessions of a Teenage Sugar Queen: The Fall

This is for @zutaraweek​ Day Four: Icarus. Trigger Warning: hints of abuse

Chapter One | Chapter Two | Chapter Three

Is it ridiculous that I am now curled up in bed with Zuko’s sweatshirt? I’m not even wearing it, just hugging it. My brain keeps replaying this tantalizing scene—his car windows all fogged up for a much different reason. If only we had been swapping spit instead of sob stories.

Would he think me a desperate fool if I just… kissed him? After confessing about my dead mother, yes… yes, he would.

I wonder what the scar feels like.

What would Mom say? I could use a little advice here. Is it too soon? Yes. Is he even my type? No.

Jet had a tragic backstory. A small voice in the back of my mind says.

But Jet was also an amazing kisser. Says an even smaller voice.

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Rumbelle Revelry Fic: Mortuus Loqueris Ad

Title:  Mortuus Loqueris Ad

Rating: Teen

Word Count: ~3,200

Summary: While exploring the contents of her new library in the Dark Castle, Belle finds a dusty book that presents an irresistible opportunity. 

Notes: I used Google Translate for the title. If it’s wrong, I apologize for the offense against the Latin language. 

Prompt used: Old book in the back of the library. 

AO3 link

The Dark Castle, always too big and intimidating with its empty echoing hallways and never-ending collection of oddities, was even lonelier when Rumplestiltskin left for one of his deal-making trips. It was peaceful when he was gone, in a way. She didn’t have to worry about him lurking around every corner to bark a command as soon as he saw her, nor fear his unpredictable moods. But there was only so much dusting that one maid could do, especially since he’d forbidden her to set foot in the West Wing. The parts of the castle she was permitted to enter were usually clean, just one day after his departure. Which left her very little to do except wait for him to return.

At least now she had her library… and oh, what a library it was! There were so many books! Adventure and history, geography and romance, politics and comedic play scripts. Belle had yet to explore every shelf. Each time she told herself that she would at least skim the titles of every book in the library before starting to read, she’d inevitably see a title that looked too intriguing to not look at more closely. She’d pull it off the shelf, just to read the first page, and then look up hours later at the setting of the sun or Rumplestiltskin’s irate call for his afternoon tea, to realize that she’d spent hours reading.

Perhaps this time, she’d make it all the way through. She knelt by the lowest shelf in the corner furthest from the stairs, and began skimming the titles. By the time she’d straightened up and was browsing the books at shoulder height, she’d already seen several that she wanted to pull off the shelf, but had resisted the urge. She had to get a stepladder to allow her to see the two highest shelves, balancing on the highest step of the ladder and gripping a shelf for support, but she finally made it through that entire bookcase without pulling a single book for closer perusal.

Proud of herself, she decided to look over the titles of the books on the next shelf before getting down. She was already up here, after all, and she could see the titles from here. It was when she grasped the topmost shelf to lean over that she felt it. Another book. Not on a shelf, but on top of the bookcase, where there was no possibility she’d ever see it from below. Mindful of her footing, she raised up on her toes till she could get a good enough grip on the book to pull it toward her.

It was covered in dust on the side that had been exposed, but the front cover had lain facedown and was clean enough to see. It was in a language that she knew only a little of, but she definitely recognized the word for spells.  This was odd. Every book in her library had been chosen for her and placed there by Rumplestiltskin. Why would he add a spell book to her collection, as if he wanted her to read it, when he’d been adamant since her arrival that she stay away from his magical items and spell books? Did he want her to read this one? Then why was it hidden away on top of the bookcase, as if he didn’t want her to find it?

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Blessing in Disguise, Chapter One

This is my first attempt at a fan-fiction. Like, ever. I’m always looking to improve, so any feedback is welcome! Once my email to AO3 has been approved, I’ll post it there too.

Synopsis (Because it sounds so much cooler than “summary”): Nick finds himself sitting in a bar, drowning himself in powerful vintage whiskey, after what was supposed to be the happiest day of his life. He replays the events that led him to this moment and the local barkeep serves him a new perspective. 


When did life become so complicated?

The movies made it sound so simple, specifically the sappy romantic comedies Judy always forced him to watch. You’re supposed to meet a really nice girl, hit it off, get married, have kits, and eventually grow old together. For Nick, it was about the halfway point of that list where it seemed everything went to shit.

Today was supposed to be the happiest day of his life, and yet here he was, drowning his heartbreak in a bottle of vintage, curiously strong whiskey. He had met Victoria through his police partner Judy, a mutual friend. She was a new resident in her building at the time, and Judy’s natural charisma made her feel welcome. Victoria’s fur was accentuated by the simple casual clothes she would wear, usually jeans and a graphic t-shirt under an old stained red hoodie. Contrary to the vibe her fashion choice gave off, the gray fox (who was roughly Nick’s age) was intelligent, headstrong, and an aspiring screenwriter. In fact, that was the main reason Judy introduced her to Nick. After hearing Victoria’s film idea, Judy mentioned Nick’s experience as a conman (which Judy reworded by calling it his “skill set as an unofficial police consultant,” which wasn’t a total lie), might prove helpful in bringing out a sense of realism in her screenplay. At first, Nick was reluctant to meet up, but eventually agreed to go once she promised him a box of fresh blueberries from the Hopps Family Farm. And so, one meeting turned into several, and before long, Victoria was able to produce a thrilling story about a seasoned con artist hired by two dangerous criminal organizations and finds himself torn between the loyalties of the Sahara Square drug cartel and the Tundratown mob. She sent the script to an independent film company that brought her story to life. Her film received about 1.3 million hits on Zootube, which surprisingly proved enough for a few screenwriting companies to take notice.

Although her film was produced, that didn’t stop Nick and Victoria from seeing each other. What started out as a few meetings in the same coffee shop escalated into a few trips to the movie house, then a few late night dinners, and even a couple of instances where she brought Nick home, which resulted in more than a few awkward encounters with Judy in the hallway. This went on for about one and a half years before Nick had built up the nerve to fish deep in the junk drawer in his apartment and bring out his mom’s safety deposit box key. One of the few possessions left to him by his late mother.

Judy ended up driving Nick to the bank just as it opened. “Nick? Why the big hurry all of a sudden?” She had asked.

“Just something I have to do, Carrots.” Nick replied, his muzzle buried in his paws in contemplation. Judy glanced at Nick somewhat worriedly. Nick would usually at least try and make a non-answer like that humerous. What has him so serious?

Nick took a deep breath as the banker brought out his mother’s safety deposit box while Judy watched curiously. Nick unlocked it and flipped the lid open. Its contents were few. A photo of Nick and his mother, beaming proudly as Nick wore his Junior Ranger Scouts uniform before the events that took place later that day, some old photographs of Nick’s mom and dad long before Nick was in the picture, some assorted documents, and a small velvet covered box, which was Nick’s primary objective.

Nick took the small box and held it up as he sighed. Judy slowly approached behind him, looking over his shoulder and gasping softly. “Nick, is that…”

“It was my mother’s…” Nick articulated, opening the box to reveal a simple diamond engagement ring. “Above everything else, she wanted me to live the life she couldn’t give me. ‘Find a girl who completes you, a girl you realize you can’t live without… and give her this…’” Nick cleared his throat, fighting to put on a brave face as he relived his mother’s dying moments.

“And you think Victoria’s the right girl?” Judy questioned, her big amethyst eyes darting from the ring and back at him.

“Not just think, Carrots.” Nick responded, holding the ring at different angles, “I know she is.” He shut the box and stuffed it into his pants pocket.

“Oh…” Judy frowned for a brief second before regaining her composure as Nick shut the box and slipped it back into his pocket. “When are you going to ask her?”

“Tonight. I’m gonna surprise her at her place.”

“Wow. Seems pretty sudden.” Judy cleared her throat and nodded, her long ears lowering slightly and her eyes fixated to the dark green carpet. “Good for you, Nick. Really.”

Nick turned to face her, concerned but still walking. “Carrots? You alright..?”

Before Judy could answer, her phone rang. She held up a finger to Nick as she pulled her phone out with her other paw. She plugged in her headphones and inserted one bud into her ear before she answered, holding her phone out in front of her. Nick only heard one half of the conversation between her and, judging on the caller ID, Chief Bogo. “Officer Hopps… Yes sir… No sir… Really?… I’ll be over as soon as I can… Yes sir… Goodbye.”

She hung up her phone and tugged the earbud out of her ear before turning back to Nick. “Sorry… The chief’s busting my butt about some late reports… And he says he’s gotta see me about something else… I gotta run.”

Nick smirked. “Don’t let me keep you.”

“You be alright walking home? He said this really couldn’t wait”

“I’ll be fine, Carrots. Go on”

Judy smiled. “Thanks, Nick. Good luck tonight!” she declared before bounding back to her car.

Title: It Belonged To Bucky

Graphic Credit: lovealetterbomb

New York was never going to be the same. Steve was covered in dust and alien blood, full of shawarma and looking out the ruins of Manhattan.

In the handful of days he’d had between waking up on a stage and being called back to service he’d done everything he could to get caught up on seventy years of history and innovation. Some of it was easy enough to figure out just by asking. The Commandos were all dead, all had had fulfilling lives and Falsworth was the only one who hadn’t married. Peggy was in a nursing home in Washington- Alzheimer’s had her in its grasp for a few years now. Bucky had an empty grave in Arlington, next to Steve’s own, now defunct, headstone. He had the feeling Peggy had had something to do with that.

He’d gone to Brooklyn once. He had nearly turned right back around, convinced he’d gotten off at the wrong stop. There were a few places he recognized though- owned by the children and grandchildren of the people he had known. The spirit of the place was still the same though, and he supposed that’s what mattered. There was still a grab bag of appearances and personalities- people who didn’t have anywhere else to go and no other place they’d rather be.

They sent him to a therapist for a while after the battle, citing regulation, and Steve didn’t bother to argue. Getting caught up was easy- the Internet really was helpful and the rest was a matter of exploring and observing, feeling out what was different. Trying new food alone was incredible, things he’d never imagined existing. 

The hard part was dealing with what he had lost. He hadn’t allowed himself to deal with Bucky’s death- it had only been a handful of days between his fall and putting the plane in the water, most of which had been devoted to planning the attack. The therapist said the nightmares were normal, to be expected even, after his time in Europe, losing Bucky then waking to find up everyone he knew dead or worse. He didn’t tell her about the nightmares from Azzano though- he’d wake up chanting Bucky’s serial number himself. 32557038. 32557038.

He found out tattoos were a thing now. Lots of people had them and no one seemed to care as long as there weren’t obscene words across your forehead. That had taken a moment to process- the only person he’d known before with tattoos had been an old sailor who got them to cover shrapnel scars from the Great War. Once he’d gotten his head around that though it occurred to him that it was something he could do or at least try to do if the serum didn’t reject it. He was sure of it though.

The day of the appointment he was shaking with nerves. He hadn’t told anyone about his plans, just that he would be unavailable in the morning. Apparently Captain America was entitled to a few eccentricities, as well as a day off . The artist had raised an eyebrow at him but hadn’t said anything else beyond what was necessary, friendly and professional.  He’d made sure that he was clear about the curve of his ear before the tattoo gun started buzzing. He took a deep breath to calm his shaking hands. It hurt less than he was expecting. When he looked at it the mirror after he was surprised by the sting of tears pricking his eyes.

“Memorial tattoo right?” the artist said.

“Yeah. Best friend. Died in the war.”

“Sorry for your loss, man.” A firm hand on Steve’s shoulder squeezing, before the bandage went on.

It was a few days later, an scheduled interview, talking about the events of New York and coming back to 2012.  The serum had healed it quickly- it looked good, and he was overjoyed the ink had stayed. The make-up girl had hesitated over it before leaving it visible. He knew he was going to be asked about it.

It was another one of the things that were different.They wouldn’t have had to hide now, not if they didn’t want to. There was no reason for him to keep hiding, he knew Bucky would be okay with it. He had been the one desperate to tell people how much he loved Steve, even when it could’ve gotten them both kicked out of the Army, if they were lucky.

“So, Cap, you’re sporting a new tattoo. Have to say I’m surprised so can I ask? 32557038, what does it mean?" 

Steve was surprised she’d managed to avoid asking for this long.

"It’s the serial number of the love of my life.”

The interviewer was taken off guard, hesitating a moment, glancing towards the producers who were feeding her information.

“I didn’t know that Peggy Carter had a serial number, as an SSR agent.”

“She didn’t. This serial number belonged to Bucky Barnes.”

The entire studio had gone silent. Steve knew that someone at SHIELD was in a panic right now, trying to figure out how to spin the PR for this. He almost felt bad about it.

Pillow Talk with Nobuyoshi Araki and Kiko Mizuhara

“I’m interested in fashion, but I’m not bothered by what they wear. I’m more interested in the woman underneath.” Nobuyoshi Araki is a superstar in Japan. Confronting taboo subjects such as sex, female nudity and death head on, his photographs are at once erotic, intimate, challenging, confrontational and beautiful and Kiko Mizuhara is his ideal subject.

Kiko Mizuhara steps up and Araki, purring, is clearly enamoured by his new subject. Pumping his fists and spinning on the heels of his New Balance trainers, Araki lunges forward to give her a cuddle. It’s the first time they have met and the reaction is genuine. Like the cat who’s got the cream, you get the feeling he’s in for a treat. She’s giggling, nervous – his reputation, as ever, truly precedes him – yet all smiles.

A model since she was 12, Kiko made her film debut as Midori in Norwegian Wood, the outgoing girlfriend that reinvigorates a boy’s lust for life after the suicide of a friend. The casting is perfect, and the contrast between the two actresses pronounced. Araki sets her nerves at ease by cracking a joke. He calls her “Oishi” [delicious] and smacks his lips before letting out one of his trademark belly laughs.

Araki flirts with Kiko as she positions herself in a corner decorated with a giant bouquet of flowers. He makes her laugh by asking, “What do you love more, money or love?” Kiko answers, “Love” as she plays with a flower between her lips, her teeth gripping its stem, trying to suppress the laughs created by his constant joshing – she can barely keep a straight face. Today’s shoot is tame compared to his famous kinbaku rope bondage photographs of naked girls tied from the rafters – not to mention the candid graphic black and white photographs of Araki and friends frequenting Tokyo sex clubs in the 1970s – but even still the charisma that creates these possibilities to push the boundaries is evident. He wants “more skin” from Kiko. She kills the request with kindness. He then asks whether she has a boyfriend. “I don’t,” Kiko replies. When the shoot is over, “Shall I kiss you?” he asks. “No, no thank you, it’s okay!” Kiko blushes, laughing. As the team pack up the clothes and equipment, I retire with Araki, his agent Natsuko – who acts as our translator throughout – and to Araki’s delight, Kiko, to Hanaguruma, the nearby 6th floor karaoke bar he visits every night.

Translated to English, the bar’s name means ‘The Flower Wheel’, a fitting title if we consider the connection between blooming fertility and death that appear so often in Araki’s photographs. The walls are covered with prints and posters of his work and what gaps remain are occupied by Polaroids recording past escapes in this secret den – French fashion editors topless, pillow fighting models, Lady Gaga, Harmony Korine and his wife Rachel, and a portrait of Araki sketched by Nan Goldin. In every Polaroid on the wall, Araki appears wearing a T-shirt with Kaori’s face on his chest, “Because if I don’t wear her near my heart, she’s going to escape,” he says. Shifting in his seat with a glass of shochu in hand, he cannot hide his excitement towards Kiko. It’s quite clear which one out of the two of us he would rather be spending the evening with.

I ask the half-American, half-Korean Kiko whether she was scared to be photographed by Araki. “Yes! Everybody had been giving me so much pressure leading up to the shoot…” she says, whispering “Araki Araki Araki” as if he was a Ghostbusters gremlin. “My manager was like, ‘Are you sure?’ but of course I wanted to.” Araki bursts out, “Everyone says so! But Kiko, there’s no need to worry. I don’t just suck on your nipples, but blow them too!” It makes no sense, but everyone laughs. The two endearing 60 something women who run the bar, old friends and former subjects of Araki, don’t bat an eyelid. Later, they point out naked photos of their younger selves on the wall.

Did Kiko tell her parents she was going to be photographed by Araki today, I ask, wondering how her mother would react? “No, not yet,” Kiko replies. “She’s going to be excited, but worried. I know she’s going to ask whether I was naked.”

Earlier in the day, while photographing club kids on location in the Golden Gai bar district of Tokyo, Araki complemented one of the girls by saying she looked like a “streetwalker”. In 40 years of photographing Japanese women, how have they changed, I ask? “It’s not so much that they’re getting dirtier, but they’re getting less, let’s say, innocent,” he replies. “The club kids aren’t really ideal subjects, because they’re so… knowing, they know how to be separate from normal society. So they’re maybe much cleverer in a way, but they’re less innocent. Kiko on the other hand is much purer, polite, she looks innocent. She’s the perfect subject.”

It’s a much less backhanded complement than before, and I ask Araki what photography has in common with sex. “Photographs are sex, it’s like making love with the shutter, it’s pillow talk.” He continues, “Say with Rinko, her reaction was good, she’s quite sensitive in that way, it was more like dancing. The camera is a love machine!” Kiko, returning to a question I asked before the conversation meandered, describes auditioning for Norwegian Wood, “It was my first time acting. I didn’t know it was that big a deal, I thought it might be a little part or not that big a story. So I was really relaxed when I went to audition. I was like, [waving] ‘Hiiiii I’m Kiko!’ But then I started and I felt awkward.” Araki, frustrated by not being able to follow us in English – and perhaps a touch jealous at the shift in Kiko’s attention – suddenly shouts out in Japanese, “Congratulations on your pregnancy!” Laughing, they toss up their glasses; Kiko cheers “Kampai!”

Kiko gained a sizeable following online, posting photographs of herself in various outfits and YouTube videos of her modelling. “Everyone in Japan seems to record everything they do, like, [in a sarcastic voice] ‘I ate this today, and look at this, I’ve been hanging out with this girl today.’ And I wanted to do something different, more about what I’m interested in rather than how I spend my days.” She is, like a lot of other Japanese girls her age, a dedicated follower of fashion. I ask what her fashion favourites are. “I really like Miu Miu,” she answers. “Because… it’s really Lolita!” Araki’s ears prick up as they recognise this English word. He pipes up in heavily accented English, “Rurita?” Kiko corrects him, they laugh. Araki takes out a book of photographs of his naked girlfriend Kaori and puts it on the table. The four of us looking at these black and white photographs, with purple and blue brushstrokes painted on top of Kaori in compromising positions, forms quite a surreal scene. Does Araki ever get jealous of others ogling his girlfriend? “I’m a photography fan so I like sharing my work,” he says, “and the work of others. I’m ready to share everything with everybody.” Does Kaori get jealous? “No, not so much.” He mimes getting a slap across his face when he gets home. “Once upon a time she did, but now she’s much more mature.” Another book comes out on to the table. Black and white photographs with brushstrokes on top, this time though there’s no naked Kaori, or any other women for that matter. Instead, page after page is filled with sunsets. The book, his 452nd, is his most recent. A diary of sorts, there are no entries between the 18th and 27th of January, 2009. He tells me the reason those dates are missing is that he underwent an operation for prostrate cancer, from which he has now recovered. Called Testament, the book deliberately mirrors Skyscrapes, another collection of sunsets taken the year after his wife Yoko died in 1990 – the only photographs he took in that time of mourning. Though he spent much of his childhood playing in a cemetery amongst the anonymous graves of courtesans from the Yoshiwara red light district – the only green space in an otherwise poor, crowded area of Tokyo – and making a connection between sex, death and flowers at a young age, Araki doesn’t believe it’s necessary to visit Yoko’s grave. “Because whenever I think about her, or death, I can just look at the sky instead,” he explains. “I haven’t been thinking about death recently, but there is always a grim reaper stalking me. But then I get days like this where two beautiful young girls come to visit me, and they make me feel alive again.”

Araki tells me he has only two regrets, for not taking any photographs of Yoko’s body in her coffin. Because he organised the funeral himself he was “too busy to take any pictures.” The other is “failing to take photos of the nostrils of a girl who acted perfectly during sex. I said to her, ‘Come on, look this way!’ but she refused. I’m still powerful in bed you see, I can keep going for a while,” he says in the direction of Kiko, never missing an opportunity for innuendo. Continuing, he lets it be known that even though he’s having a great time, he’s feeling tired and can’t stay out drinking as late as he once did. Also, meeting Kiko might have worn him out.

I ask Araki – whose work in the 1970s, with its slapstick black spot censorship is often credited with overturning the Japanese ban on pubic hair – whether he enjoyed pushing the boundaries of what is accepted in this generally conformist society. “Do you mean enjoy or enjoyed? Because I did enjoy it. But now, it’s more accepted,” he replies. “I still feel like a little boy, in the way that if someone tells me not to do something, I will do it. It may be provocative, but it’s in more of a boyish way. Not in a violent way, it’s the act of doing it, the reaction pushes the boundaries.” His answer brings to mind a scene from earlier that day. At a zebra crossing stood dozens of salary men and shoppers waiting for the red light to change on an otherwise empty street – Araki might just be the only person who would dare cross while everyone else waits until they are told. Since a series of large exhibitions in Europe and America alerted mainstream Japan to his talent in the 1980s, he has held countless exhibitions at museums across the country and is regarded alongside Yayoi Kusama and Haruki and Takashi Murakami as a national treasure. Street sweepers high five him in the street. When did Araki realise he was accepted by mainstream Japanese society? “I don’t think it’s happened yet. Perhaps not in my lifetime. I will turn 70 this year but I have only just started running.” At least in this day and age, he won’t be running alone.

Text by Xerxes Cook

Cool Guys Like Scorchios

Happy Birthday makapedia! As promised, I have delivered the most ridiculous thing I have written to date. Precanon fluff, Soul is way too into neopets. 

The word ‘partnership’ is still a little foreign in Maka’s mouth, as is her own cooking, which is not particularly stellar. Everyone had told her that she should stay in the dorms until she was a little older, but given the choice between living in the same building as her father, and living as far away as possible, with a boy no less, she’d pick the latter. The choice seemed obvious at the time.

She decides very quickly that domesticity is not for her, and especially not with a boy who she barely knows. Soul is moody, to say the least, though if asked in confidence she’ll admit that cranky is a more fitting descriptor. She’s twelve years old, and trying to work out the kinks of cohabitating with another human who won’t put up with her bullshit, but who also is unable to tell her what to do. It’s a steep learning curve for the both of them, and three months into the school year she’s relieved that Soul is going to visit his parents for Christmas.

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