It had been eight years since the disastrous Civil War, seven
since Tony quit being an Avenger, and three since the accords were ratified to
Steve’s liking and the rogue Avengers came back.
But without Tony as an Avenger and with the US garnishing
their wages to pay reparations to all the people they’d hurt and infrastructure
they damaged during the Civil War, money was tight.
The Avengers couldn’t afford the upkeep or rent for the
Avengers Compound. The cost for jet fuel for the quinjets was mind blowing.
Their gear was falling apart and they didn’t have enough money to get
specialists to fix them.
So Steve was going to Tony, hat in hand.
They hadn’t spoken since Steve reached out to him when the
accords had been ratified, and when he had Tony had brushed him off, stating he
didn’t have time for empty apologies. Steve bit back his anger and tried to
convince him to join the Avengers again, but Tony told him the group wasn’t
worth his time.
It was a bit embarrassing to ask him for money, but not as
bad as when he’d been a dancing monkey raising war bonds.
Stark Tower seemed to loom over him with a malicious glare.
All the windows had been tinted, making it harder to look
through them from the outside.
As Steve walked into the lobby he gawped at the new design.
He could only describe it as razor sharp and intimidating.
It clashed with the wholesome look that Steve favored.
He was so caught up in his staring that he didn’t notice the
adolescent girl that was nearing him.
She was walking backwards and flipping off the cameras. She
walked straight into Steve and spun around.
“Watch it, fuck face!” she said loudly, making Steve reel
backwards. She stormed off before he could formulate a response.
Mulder goes away for the weekend so Scully has to take care of his fish and one of them dies and she has to scramble to replace it
He trusted her. That’s what he said, in those exact words: “I trust you, Scully. The fish know you. They’ll be comfortable with you.”
So, here she was, on a Sunday morning, truly considering autopsying a dead goldfish as she stood in Mulder’s bathroom over the toilet because this couldn’t possibly be her fault. She shook the cup in her hand just a little, wondering if maybe the fish was just playing dead, pulling a prank on her. It would be just like one of Mulder’s fish to play that kind of joke on her.
“Wake up,” Scully said, giving another shake of the cup. “Come on, wake up. Move those fins.”
The fish remained belly up and Scully sighed. She looked at her watch. Mulder’s flight was due in less than two hours from now. She’d taken damn good care of those fish for the last four days, stopping by every evening to feed them and even spending an hour cleaning the aquarium yesterday. She even got them a new little castle to play in.
“He trusted me,” Scully told the dead fish, holding the glass up so she could look at it eye-level. “Traitor.”
Poised to drop the fish in the toilet, Scully paused and then checked her watch again. She knew from her trek to purchase the little plastic castle that the pet shop by her apartment wasn’t open for another hour. And that wouldn’t leave much time. She took the glass with her and found Mulder’s phone book in his desk drawer. There was no answer at the first four pet supply stores listed in the yellow pages, but she got in touch with someone on the fifth try.
“Goldfish,” Scully said, holding the little cup up to the window where the sun was just starting to shine around the faded remains of a taped ‘X’. “Pale yellow, white belly, thin, maybe two inches in length. Do you have one?”
“Maybe,” said the salesman. “I guess. We got lots of fish.”
“I’ll be right there.”
Scully held a short funeral back at the toilet, crossing herself and shutting her eyes as she flushed the fish down. She washed the cup and got in her car. The pet shop was a ten minute drive, next to a drug store. A bell jingled as she entered and the smell of kibble hit her immediately. An elderly man with a green apron appeared out of one of the aisles.
“You the lady that called about the fish?” he asked.
“Come on back to the tanks.” He waved her over and she followed him down the narrow aisles to the back of the store where about twenty tanks bubbled in a dark space. He pointed out the goldfish tanks to her and she inspected them closely.
“Too orange,” she murmured. “Too fat…too small…”
“You got a little one at home lost one of their school?” the man asked.
“Something like that. This one!” Scully tried to point out a fish amongst the others that was darting around. It wasn’t easy to pinpoint, or for the old man to catch in his net. He finally gave it to Scully after catching the wrong fish twice and she managed to wrangle the chosen replacement after a few minutes. Half her arm was wet by then and she was pretty sure the rest of the fish were traumatized, but she caught him.
“Remember to let him acclimate,” the salesman reminded her as she paid for it.
Fifteen minutes later, Scully was pacing in front of the tank, watching the plastic bag with the new fish float around the top of Mulder’s tank. What if the other fish don’t like the new fish? What if the new fish don’t like the others? What if Mulder notices the difference? What if another one dies? What if…
“It’s just a stupid fish,” Scully said out loud, peering intently into the tank. She checked her watch. Another ten minutes for the fish to acclimate. An hour before Mulder’s flight landed.
Scully’s cell phone rang and she answered it without looking. “Scully.”
“You wouldn’t be available to swing by my apartment right now would you?”
“I’m…actually already here. Why? Aren’t you supposed to be on a plane?”
“Got an earlier flight. I’m in a cab right now on my way home, but I can’t find my keys.”
“You’re…in a…how far away are you?”
“I don’t know, fifteen minutes maybe.”
“Fifteen…I was just feeding the fish. I’ll…stay here.”
“Thanks, Scully. See you soon.”
“Dammit,” Scully said, hanging up the phone.
Fifteen minutes could mean ten. Could mean five. What should she do? Dump the fish in without letting it fully acclimate? Wait it out? She watched the time tick by on her watch, biting her thumbnail. At nine minutes, she couldn’t take it anymore.
“Sorry little guy,” she muttered, untwisting the rubber band from the top of the plastic bag. “You’re just going to have to deal with this.”
Holding her breath, she dumped the new fish in the tank and watched closely as it darted through it’s new environment, disturbing the other fish who flew out of its way. They all settled after a few moments and all seemed normal.
Engrossed with the fish, she jumped when there was a knock on the door. “Shit,” she whispered, looking at the wet plastic bag in her hand. Grimacing, she shoved it in her pocket and then wiped her hand off on the front of her jeans.
“You’re a lifesaver,” Mulder said when she opened his door, pushing past her with his luggage.
“How was the conference?”
“Conference-like. Next time Skinner sends me to one of these things, I think I’m going to develop a spontaneous hemorrhoidal condition.”
Scully eyed Mulder nervously as he dropped a briefcase on his desk and ran his hand over the stack of mail she’d been collecting. She tried not to glance at the fish tank, hoping he wouldn’t either.
“Well,” she said, turning to head to the door. “I should…”
“Hey!” Mulder called and she froze, turning slowly. He was peering inside the tank, tapping on it slightly. She clenched her jaw.
“I’m sorry,” she said, guilt eating at her for trying to trick him. “I just thought-”
“Where’d that castle come from?”
“…I just thought the fish might like it.”
Mulder smiled and stood up straight, walking over to her. “If you need any references as a fishsitter, I’ll be happy to provide.”
“I think I’ll stick to my day job.” She hesitated. “Do you need my key back?”
“Nah, I’ve got copies. You keep it. In case of fish emergencies.”
“Welcome back. See you at work tomorrow.”
“See ya.” Mulder waved and then plopped down on his couch.
Scully gave a little wave of her own and then headed to the door. Suddenly, she didn’t feel very trustworthy. Like his trust was misplaced and undeserved. “Dammit,” she muttered under her breath, turning back around. “Mulder, I can’t lie to you. One of the fish died. I found it floating belly up this morning and I went to the pet store and got a new one. I don’t know what happened, it was fine yesterday, they were all fine yesterday, I even cleaned the tank and I got them the castle and they were fine. I didn’t save the body, but if you ask me, it had to be some sort of pre-existing condition or old age or…or whatever else it is that fish die from.”
Mulder raised his brows at her and then chuckled. “Scully, I’m lucky if I make it a month without losing one of the little suckers. They cost a quarter at the shop around the corner, which is probably why I go through so many of them.”
Scully’s cheeks burned a little with embarrassment. “Well, this one was two dollars. Maybe it’ll last longer.”
“Maybe.” He grinned at her, pushed himself up from the couch, and walked towards her. He touched her wrist with his index finger a little bashfully. “See you tomorrow, partner.”
Relieved of her burden, she nodded once and turned to walk away. He’d never really called her ‘partner’ like that. Like he meant it. She smiled as she left his apartment.
How about headcanons for Mafia! Dazai on how he acts with his kids,please? (/ω＼*)
If Dazai had a kid in the mafia I think it’d be limited to one accident, so I’m going to write these with his daughter Haruko I always hc/write him with when I do Daddy!Dazai ^^
• On days where you’re
trying to run errands or just need a few hours to yourself Dazai is quick to
scoop up his daughter and let her run around the mafia HQ. She scribbles on the
walls, knocks over expensive things in Chuuya’s office, and sometimes she even
braids Akutagawa’s hair if she wants. Nobody says anything to Dazai’s daughter,
and if someone does have the balls to punish Dazai’s kid they’re quickly
• Dazai’s office is littered in his daughter’s toys. He rarely picks them up
nor does he give a damn about them being there. If anything he’s constantly
buying her more things to stack in his office because it gives him a reason not
to be doing boring paperwork if he’s ever stuck in there longer than half an
hour. And he gets a kick out of seeing Akutagawa’s face when he nails his knee
on a big plastic pink castle.
• When he’s feeling lonely or irritated with work Dazai snags his daughter from
school and drags you both out to lunch. More often than not these lunch
excursions turn into afternoon family dates. Trips to the beach, any festivals
going on, or simply taking your daughter to the park. If your daughter’s
teachers try to get uppity about her skipping school Dazai simply flashes that
mafia-boss smile and reminds they’re on his payroll and if he wants to see his
daughter he’ll damn well do what he pleases. His remarks turn personal if they
attempt to give him any lip after his initial response, and on more than one occasion
he’s left the principle near tears.
• Dazai threads strategy into your daughter’s life and has since the moment she
could walk. Playing hide and seek is one of Dazai’s favorite ways to test how
much of his intelligence was passed on to his little princess, but he doesn’t
make it obvious to her. It’s just daddy playing with her and when she’s hiding
behind a very thin lamp Dazai pretends to search forever for her, feigning
terror when he can’t “find her”. Once she comes out from hiding he wraps her in
a big hug and smothers her with kisses.
• When Dazai is home before she’s asleep Dazai takes over the bedtime routine.
Since his work keeps him out closer to midnight pretty often he rarely gets to
be included in the nightly rituals you’ve developed with Haruko so when he gets
the opportunity he goes full speed. He offers to bring home dinner (usually
fast food Haruko loves) and asks her a million questions at the table. From
school to friends to obscure news headlines Dazai talks with his daughter until
he’s out of breath. Bath time ends up being more of a mess than a clean-up as
Dazai has found the amazing world of bath tub crayons. He draws out scenes for
Haruko, anything she asks for, and together they create a huge collage.
Afterwards he reads Haruko to sleep and just stays in bed with her for a while
holding her and keeping her snuggled to his chest.
• Movie nights are a common occurrence during the colder months. Dazai makes a
cozy blanket fort with hot chocolate and a massive bowl of popcorn. He plants
Haruko on his left and you on his right and snuggles you both into his chest.
If Haruko picked out the movie nine times out of ten Dazai falls asleep within
the first half an hour, quietly of course, head plopped on your shoulder and
nose buried in the crook of your neck.
a/n: ngl i had a shit ton of fun writing this and it’s so so nice to write fluff after essentially having fic after fic about smut. i hope you guys enjoy reading this bc i’m super duper proud of it!! as always, feedback is much appreciated :) love you all <33
Only one more set of ICAD 2016 after this! The prompts were “aquarium”, “Olympics” (the penguins as Penguins are wearing a Canadian flag cape and a Russian flag cape), “text as texture”, and “stickers”.
okay… but… small dragons. little pesky things that are barely domesticated and often just here for the food. opening your cabinet to find one has started to horde all your peanut butter. finding one in the shower but it’s really territorial and keeps hissing you so give up and end up spending like three hours in a towel just scrolling tumblr hoping it will go away. dragons in the night sky like fireflies, flocks flying south for the winter against pink setting suns, preditory dragons making lazy circles overhead in summer. checking under your car to make sure none made a home in your warm metal box. venomous dragons who are like spiders and eat bugs but you give a wide birth. happy friendly dragons who fall asleep on your laptop and are reasons number one through ten why you didn’t get your homework done. training your dragon to sleep on your shoulders, waking up with a portion of your hair burned off - waking up to the little lick lick lick against your nose of a very hungry baby. leashing your dragon with a little harness as he wiggles. little plastic castles you put in their enclosures. big fluffy dragon flopping onto your face from the ceiling while you’re asleep. many small warm heat-seeking cuddlebears all crawling onto your chest and leaving your toes cold. finding little dragon prints in the pie again for like the fourth time this week. dragons in the forest who are generally shy but like taking joyrides on deer - and will absolutely swarm you if they are frightened you might be hurting their home. tired dragons taking naps on subways. dragons in the trash again even though you swear you locked it for real this time. dragons that are more domesticated and are trained to do things like calm anxiety, watch for seizures, fetch pills when it’s time, alert others when their human needs help. dragon parks where you can socialize your dragon, sighing when your dragon inevitably makes a huge fool of himself (you swear he was smarter five seconds ago. like a lot smarter), dragons meeting other dragons with little puffs of flame or ice or whatever. “what happened to your hands?” “my dragon is teething”. little pockets in coats specially designed for them to ride in. dragons in little cute outfits. just. dragons, many, very small.
what are your fave narumitsu fics? top 5 pls i'm looking for stuff to read :D
!!! I’m not sure how new you are to p/e fic BUT I’ve already got a post of some of my all time faves + a general fic rec tag, though I can make another rec for newer fic rn?? especially since the ones in that first link are some of the most popular/well-known already in the fandom
Hi! Can you recommend more Trixya fanfics? Girls like dollies was the first one I've ever read and I LOVED IT AND I NEED MORE
Girls Like Dollies was the first fic I’ve ever read, too! It really opened the door to this whole new world for me, and I hold it so so close to my heart. Additionally, if you liked GLD, Lale has more fics you should check out!!
These are just some fics I could remember off of the top of my head!!
ADDITIONALLY, if anyone finds a fic on this list, or anywhere, that they really enjoy, please take the time to write a comment or send a message to the respective authors, even if it’s small. I can’t begin to explain to you how good feedback feels, big or small. It keeps us going, and we really appreciate each and every little token! Please be respectful, please be kind.
She could see her through the aquarium in her office.
Apparently, all the interns had to take the desk for a couple of hours everyday, never mind how impressive their portfolios were. Marinette could accept that. Today a designing internship. Tomorrow a scholarship to ESMOD. Day after that, her very own label. She could suck up taking desk calls, staring at spreadsheets, sending emails, and following the heels of her idols for the summer.
Besides. The view wasn’t half bad.
She checked the directory outside two mornings ago and found out that the office across from theirs was an online magazine. If she peeked around all the Rosy Barbs and Angelfish meandering around the long aquarium tank stretching along the wall right across from Marinette’s desk, she occasionally saw people bustling by with manuscripts and cover proofs. But that wasn’t even the best part.
By far the most interesting about the office was the beautiful girl who worked the front desk.
They looked to be about the same age, so Marinette assumed she was also an intern. She spent her days staying at her desk – probably sending emails and working on projects – and only leaving to run off to meetings or go to lunch. Marinette honestly didn’t mean to stare, but sometimes there was nothing to do at her desk other than wait for the phone to ring. Her eyes would drift up and see that gorgeous girl, hair piled up charmingly on the top of her head, pushing her glasses up the bridge of her nose every few minutes, and yawning in front of her computer screen while she multitasked on her cellphone.
Marinette really wanted to ask her out to lunch, but she could never catch her outside the office. She sometimes meandered around the elevator during her lunch hour in the hopes that the girl would come out at the same time so that she could strike up a conversation, but their schedules never melded. Marinette tried to do the same at the end of the work day, but one of them was always staying late and finishing projects. All she had was her view through the aquarium tank.
One of the models who worked for the label, Adrien, was about the only person who stopped by her desk everyday to have lunch with her and ask her about her day. It didn’t take him long to pick up on Marinette’s little hobby. He stopped by her desk one morning and poked her in the cheek when he caught her staring through the tank again. “You know, you could just make an excuse to go over there and talk to her.”
Marinette snorted. “And say what? ‘Hi, I’m Marinette, I think you’re cute and I’ve been creepily staring at you for the past two weeks. Wanna get coffee?’”
Sitting alone in the sandpit, you scooped up the incredibly dry sand and shoved it into the plastic castle shaped bucket resting beside you and flattened the top down. Picking up the bucket, you placed it upside down on the sand and patted it several times to ensure there were no remains inside the container. You lifted up the bucket to reveal a sand castle that was definitely one of the best ones you’d ever made in your short time in the sandpit. Looking over at the grass field, you poked your tongue out at Dylan, though he didn’t even notice. He was too busy playing around with all of the other boys with fake cardboard swords and shields.
Looking back at your masterpiece, you noticed Misha crouching down beside it like he was examining the structure. “Good, good.” He mumbled to himself before plopping down on the sand and locking eyes with you. “Why are you here? I thought you were friends with Spencer and…and Duncan?”
“I can’t play with them.” You murmured, your eyes glossed over with tears threatening to fall. You loved playing with the boys, they always included you in all the new activities. They didn’t care if you were a girl. But now that the new kid, Dylan, had started hanging out with them they didn’t want anything to do with you. Grabbing hold of your shovel, you dug deeper for the wetter sand underneath and begun placing it into the red and blue bucket that was smaller than the previous one.
“Why not?” Misha asked, digging his fingers into the sand.
You shrugged your shoulders. “Dylan don’t like me…I-I wanna play too.”
Misha took one look over at the boys and noticed the handcrafted weapons. “I’ll be back.” He yelled, excitedly. You opened your mouth to ask him what he was about to do but he was already running back towards the classrooms.
Lowering your head back to the sand bucket, your lip pouted in sadness.
A/N: Hello, everyone! This is a late bday gift for my great friend Rachel! I’m sorry it took me this long, doll, but here it is! Lots of love and well wishes! I hope you like it!
Logan had loved the idea of a little brother. When they told him Annabeth was pregnant again, he’d been adorably excited. The reality of his constantly crying and attention needing baby brother, on the other hand, didn’t thrill him as much. He was usually a happy, well behaved child, but Nate’s birth brought upon some epic jealousy crisis. It had taken both Percy and Annabeth sitting him down and very seriously explaining to him that Nathan got more attention because he was very little and he couldn’t do anything by himself yet. Some additional sucking up about how Logan was such a big boy already and could help mommy and daddy with the baby did the trick. From that moment on, Logan had donned the big brother mantle with pride.
They thought Nathan would go just about the same way when Annabeth was pregnant with Charlie. A bit resistant to the idea at first, but soon get used to it and join them in their excitement.
Boy, were they wrong.
Logan was six when Charlotte was born, and he thought having a little sister was the coolest thing ever – mostly because he figured being a girl, she would want different toys and things, so he wouldn’t have to share his stuff like he’d had to with Nathan. He already had gotten used to not being the baby of the house anymore, so Charlie wasn’t a threat in his book. She’d be just another kid in the house he could play with. Now, Nate…
Nathan hated Charlie. From the moment he heard the news of the pregnancy, he had resented the new baby. While Logan spent the nine months around Annabeth, bugging her with questions about the baby and asking her if his little sister was kicking yet, and if he could feel it, Nathan was usually plopped down a few feet away, resolutely playing with his toys and making a point to ignore mommy and baby. He occasionally sent betrayed glares at his big brother, like he was honestly shocked Logan wasn’t as mad at the addition to the family as him. It would have been funny if it hadn’t been so worrying.
Percy and Annabeth tried including him like they did Logan, telling him what size the baby would be (“She’s a little peanut, Nate! Isn’t that cute?”), bringing him along on nursery shopping (“Do you think your little sister would like little ducklings, sweetie?”) and asking him if he wanted to feel his little sister kick (“No.”) When they asked him what he’d like her name to be, he’d suggested “Ugly Jackson”. They’d tried every trick in the book to figure out what was the problem, short of calling a psychologist. They gave him just as much attention and just as much love as ever, so it was really a mystery why he’d be so reluctant to welcome the new baby.
They thought maybe it would get better when she was born, that maybe he’d see how cute and tiny she was and follow Logan’s example of being the proud and protective big brother, but it didn’t happen. He seemed to resent her even more. Every time Charlie cried, he burst into tears too; whenever one of their friends came over to see the littlest Jackson, he’d start an embarrassing temper tantrum; if Logan as much as got near Charlie, he’d stand up from wherever he was and rush to his brother’s side, sticking to him and not letting go. It was getting out of hand.
They’d talked to him innumerous times about being nicer to his baby sister, and while it did get better with time, he never really seemed to like Charlie much. As she grew bigger and started crawling, she’d crawl his way and he’d stand up and go play somewhere else. When she started walking, he’d literally run away from her if she came closer. While Logan was teaching her that her Barbies could be the heroines to his action figures, and patiently standing her tea parties, Nate was always glaring at them on the other end of the couch. The older they got, the harder they bickered, and soon enough the hair pulling and biting started. Nate had once gone to school with purple teeth marks on his cheek from where Charlie had bitten him, and Charlie had needed five stitches from the time he pushed her from the swings face first into the sand of the playground. Logan did his best to intervene and send them both to opposite sides of the house when they got too bad, but he was a child too, and at times he was so fed up with his siblings, he’d lock himself up in his room and let them kill each other.
It wasn’t always so bad. They had their moments of peaceful co-existence. When they wanted to cause mischief there was no family feud that could stop the Jackson kids. Percy had once found Charlie standing on Nathan’s shoulders to try and reach the cookie jar on top of the kitchen counter, and they usually teamed up to make Annabeth’s mother’s day gifts. There was no more unified front than the three of them when they’d demanded to go to Disneyland on the holidays, and there wasn’t a peep when they all sat down to watch The Lion King. But still, the general rule was, if Nathan and Charlie could find any reason to fight, they would.
Until Charlie was about six.
Logan had been caught up in the latest flu season, so Percy had dropped him off at Sally’s for the afternoon. Nate and Charlie had been lucky enough to not catch it, and thus, didn’t get to miss class. Logan, being the oldest, usually picked them up from the school’s playground after their classes were out, and waited with them at the front for their parent’s cars. Since he was home sick that day, Annabeth had left Charlie and Nathan at school with express instructions to wait for them in the playground, not talk to strangers and not to follow strange people anywhere. She left Nate in charge due to his second oldest status, and rushed them both to their classrooms.
The school day went on with little excitements, the high point of Nathan’s day had been winning the spelling bee game of the week. He’d ran out of the classroom with his little friends, very much part of the mass of screaming children glad to be free of the days classes. Remembering his mom’s order, he’d looked around searching for Charlie, but she wasn’t anywhere. He felt immediately annoyed. Leave it to Charlotte to not do what mom had told her to. He’d spotted some of her stupid little friends giggling near the swings, so he knew she wasn’t still in class. He dismissed his friends playing invitations with a disgusted sigh, telling them he had to find his sister, and set off to do so.
The playground’s slide was a built like a castle tower, plastic walls imitating stone, a large archway in either side hiding the stairs that led to the top of the slide. And that’s where he found Charlie minutes later, hiding inside the tower’s walls, huddled on the ground, hugging her knees and sobbing profusely. Nate felt the urge to roll his eyes. Charlie was always crying about something or other, it was so annoying. He kicked her sneakers lightly to call her attention, and when she looked up, there was a flash of fear in her eyes before she registered it was him.
That strangely bothered Nate. Charlie was a firecracker, they had rolled around the floor pulling each other’s hair and she never once looked afraid of him. She wasn’t even afraid of Ursula, and Nathan admitted to himself that even he was a little afraid of the Little Mermaid’s witch. But Charlie wasn’t scared of anything.
Something had happened.
“Why are you crying?” he complained, still very much annoyed. He had to look all over the playground for her.
She rubbed her eyes with her sleeves and sniffed hard. “Nothing.”
He shrugged. “We have to wait for mom.”
She nodded and stood up, a wince scrunching her tiny features. Nathan’s eyes zeroed in automatically on her scraped knees. They weren’t bleeding anymore, but they had, he could see. His eyes narrowed. He grabbed her hands and turned them palm up, to see they were covered in scratches too.
“Why are you hurt?” he asked her.
She pouted, lower lip jutting out as her eyes filled with tears again. “Melissa was being mean to my friend. I told her to stop and she pushed me. It hurts!” she whined.
Something very strange happened then. Nathan had the weird, never before present, urge to punch that Melissa in the face for what she had done to Charlie. It took him by complete surprise. He was so used to their games of pushing and shoving and biting, they hurt each other all the time. But that was different. That was Charlie and him, that was when Charlie was annoying him, and stealing his toys and being a pain in the butt. She hadn’t done anything wrong. And this Melissa girl couldn’t just go around hurting his little sister.
He could push Charlie if she was being annoying. No one else could.
He grabbed Charlie by the wrist and started tugging her out of the tower.
“Who’s Melissa?” he asked her seriously.
“That… With the pigtails…” she pointed, mid-hiccups, at the tallest girl among a gaggle of other little girls, twisting her stupid pigtails and laughing.
“Stay here.” He instructed, letting go of Charlie and marching towards the other kids.
Melissa must have sensed him standing behind her, because she turned around with a ridiculous little pout, still twisting that stupid pigtail.
“Who are you?” she asked, nose twisting in that way girls in his class did sometimes, when they thought the boys were talking to them.
“I’m Charlie’s older brother.” He saw the moment she registered who Charlie was supposed to be, because she stopped smiling and took a step back.
“What do you want?” she asked, going for bravado, but sounding a bit like a whimper.
He took a step forward and tugged her pigtail hard. She squealed in pain and he let go.
“Next time you hurt my sister I’ll cut it off!” he threatened.
She, of course, ran away screaming for the teacher. He would probably get grounded. He didn’t stick around to find out. He grabbed Charlie’s wrist and ran in the opposite direction, direction, hiding under the slide tower with her in a vain attempt to escape their punishment. As they crouched inside the plastic bricks, listening intently for the sound of the teacher’s steps, Charlie turned to him with big sea green eyes misted with tears and gratefulness.
“Thank you, Nate! You’re the best big brother!”
“Well…” he huffed, suddenly feeling bashful at his display of brotherly protectiveness. “Don’t get used to it!”
She cleaned her tears on her sleeves and giggled happily, and for the first time since Nate could remember, he was glad to hear the sound. Charlie was mostly a pain in the butt, but no one was going to hurt his little sister in his watch.
Annabeth found them a few minutes later, hands in her waist and foot tapping angrily, Charlie’s teacher behind her with a matching unimpressed expression. They softened once they’d seen Charlie’s scrapes and their explanation, but he still got a stern chewing out from both adults of how violence isn’t the answer. Annabeth agreed to ground Nathan for his misdoings, but pointed out to the teacher that this wouldn’t have happened in the first place if Melissa hadn’t been going around pushing her classmates to the ground, and the woman compromised to call her parents too. They walked away with a warning and Nathan’s dessert suspended for the week.
When they were in the car, though, Annabeth looked at Charlie in the rear view mirror and told her seriously.
“Next time she pushes you, Charlie, you give her a kick in the knees. She’ll never mess with you again.”
Charlie grinned. Nathan almost felt sorry for that Melissa girl. Charlie could kick like a karate champion. He felt a bit proud actually.
“Can I kick Nate if he pushes me?” she asked gleefully.