I finally got a fish to fill up my empty tank…I wasn’t really planning on it but my friend was getting some stuff for her tank and I just couldn’t pass him up…far too pretty! The Spruce Tank is still cycled and has been running with just plants for ages now so it was about time. I’ll probably continue my tree-related naming scheme for this tank…
So Transformers The
Last Knight was a deuce, but if there’s one thing that makes fans call a truce,
it’s love for new Decepticon Nitro Zeus! His figure is finally available for
retail price online, so you don’t have to be rich as Bruce to afford him, so
now he’s here in my house and he’s loose!
Now I’m no Dr. Seuss,
but I can deduce a few words to boost this Zeus. His design is really spruced,
being a beefy moose, looking good up on any sort of roost. It’s a who’s who of
visual cues, as Zeus cribs views from Shockwave’s head and the previous movie’s
KSI crews. Now this isn’t news, but his antenna, wing-booster-packs and
arm-mounted weapons prove cool things come in twos. It all suits dudes like
this who like to knock back some brews.
Zeus is a confused hoot, a complex move that you might take your time with, if
you so choose. And the resulting jet is pretty smooth. It’s no Spruce Goose,
but Zeus still cuts loose with nice clip-on missile moves and an opening
cockpit with room to groove. If you need a jet that can elicit coos, this
juiced Zeus is one that can’t lose.
Request- Could I possibly get an imagine of like the Ghost Facers episode in
season 3 but with the reader added into it and she’s dating Dean and
some of the Ghost Facers crew start to like her and try to hit on her
and stuff and Dean gets angry and jealous so he keeps her close to him
the whole time ? Thanks ! Sorry if this is long & weird !
A/N- Sooo sorry if this didn’t come out as good as you hoped. Let me know! So this one occurs during ‘Ghost Facers’ episode in season 3 episode 13. I watched it a million times while writing this (not that I minded) which is why it took a bit longer. Any who tell me what you think x)
Dean x Reader
“Hey you guys hear that?” you whisper while you and the boys wander around the Morton house. You all turn towards the sound and see a flashlight pointing your direction.
“Freeze! Police officers! Don’t Move!” Dean yelled, the two men that were there were freaking out.
Sam asked for their ID when the one with glasses remembered them, “I know both of you guys, yeah.”
“Holy shit!” Sam said realizing who the guy was.
“What?” Dean asked wanting to know too.
“West Texas… the tulpa we had to take out. Those two goof balls that almost got us killed.” Sam responded.
“Oh!” you shout “You told me about these guys… The um- hell something or the uh… Oh the hellhounds.” you say.
“Well we’re not hell hounds anymore… it didn’t test out well.” he said while telling his friend that you weren’t cops.
“Ed! Ed, you had a partner didn’t you have a different guy? Where is he?” Dean asked.
“He’s uh running around… chasing ghost” Ed responded.
“Well you and Rambo need to get your girlfriends and get out of here.” Dean demanded.
Ed had continued arguing, “I’ll look for them” you volunteered. As you walked out, you heard Ed call Dean ‘chiseled chest’, you smiled and continued on. You roamed through the house and stopped when you heard a voice.
“Guys… Guys! Guys!” You followed the voice to find some guy with a camera and a couple? The guy with the camera was videotaping a death echo. After it was over they noticed you. The camera man turned the camera towards you, “Who are you?” he asked.
Before you could answer, “We have to go show Ed!” The girl interrupted, still a bit freaked out with what just happened. Everyone ran screaming, heading downstairs. You couldn’t help but laugh a little at their excitement.
They were screaming excitedly telling Ed and Corbett what they had seen. Then Harry stopped, “Hey! Aren’t those the assholes from Texas?”
“Yes” Ed responded.
“Guys let’s have this reunion somewhere else… Come on let’s go” Dean demanded, but they ignore him and continued showing Ed and Corbett the video they just took.
Dean and Sam walked over to you, “Think we were wrong on this?” he asked.
“I don’t know that was just a death echo of someone who got shot but I don’t think anyone was shot here.” You say.
“No one was shot here… At least none that I can find.” Sam said.
“Wait the pretty lady is with you guys?” asked Spruce.
“Pretty lady” Dean repeated looking towards you, you shrugged, “Look buddy, it would be best if your eyes don’t linger on my girlfriend.” Dean told him, taking a protective step in front of you, shielding you from the camera.
“Oh what’s a death echo?” he asked looking at you over Dean’s shoulder, completely ignoring his warning.
“Look we have a problem here and that ghost aint it.” Sam answered.
He ignored Sam and looked back at you, “What’s a death echo hot stuff?”
Dean was getting increasingly more annoyed and you tried so hard not to laugh, “Echoes are trapped in a loop. Okay, they keep replaying how they died over and over and over again usually in the place they got gank’d. It’s about as dangerous as a scary movie.”
“Well maybe the echo is not dangerous but something else is.” Sam said, Dean agreed, “We need to go.”
You all tried to push them out the door. It being too dangerous for a bunch of amateurs. When Ed realized Corbett was missing. A few seconds after, you could hear his screams. The Ghost Facers’ crew scrambled after him.
“Shit!” Sam shouted.
“We should probably go after them.” you said.
Dean nodded as he grabbed your hand, “But you’re sticking with me, I don’t want those creeps making any moves on you.” You nod, you would have usually teased him about his jealousy but this was no time for that.
You all run after the Ghost Facers, when the screams stopped and Corbett was nowhere to be found. Dean, Sam, and you start shouting to go back down stairs. Ed had not only taken you with him but he did so while having a fair grip on your arm.
“Oh my god… He’s gone, he just disappeared.” Ed said looking into your eyes. Dean was none too happy.
He came over, pushed Ed off you, and walked over to Sam while holding your hand. “Well it’s 12:04 Dean. You good, you happy.”
“Yeah I am happy-” he responded.
They bickered about whether this was a good idea or not. “You got two months left Dean. Instead we’re going to die tonight.”
“Guys calm down,” you say. You hated it when the counted how much time Dean had.
Sam grabbed a chair and smashed it against the door. Alarming the Ghost Facers, who then came over to check what the commotion was about. Spruce notified everyone about the camera spritzing again, and another death echo appear. Dean tried to shock the echo out of its loop. Unfortunately he didn’t succeed and the ghost proceeded to repeat its’ moment of death.
You all decided to continue your run through the house, in hopes of maybe finding Corbett. “Stay close” Sam said. You were in front of them, Ed and Spruce slowed their speed to be ‘close’ to you.
“No! NO not you two. You keep walking.” He yelled, grabbing your hand pulling you behind him, guarding you from them. He continued explaining what death echoes are and where they appear. Maggie then asked what the echoes ‘were doing here’. “Hey! Give the lady a cigar. Alright seriously does looking at this nightmare through that camera make you feel better or something?” he asked, earning him a nudge from you.
“Um… Uh… Yeah I think so.” she responded.
You all enter a room and look through the things. Ed was frustrated and wanted to look for Corbett as soon as possible. Dean had found a box full of the things of the last owner of the house, Freeman Daggett.
“Eww” Dean said “Got three toe tags here. One death by a gunshot, train accident, suicide.”
“Eww” Sam responded.
“Ugh that’s just wrong” you add.
Ed and Harry didn’t seem to figure out what that meant, so Sam explained, “…because their bodies are here… somewhere in the house.”
“He brought the remains from the morgue… to play” Dean added when they still didn’t understand. After their brains figured it out and they were grossed out, Dean noticed that Maggie was missing, and found her shortly after. Told her to stay close. All of a sudden the emf was going nuts, the camera was spritzing again, and Sam disappeared.
Dean yelled for Sam the ghost facer crew called for Corbett. You all split up looking for them, you and Dean then heard yelling. Following it you found Ed and Harry attempting to fight. Dean broke it off. Ed turns and looks at you, “I. I won that right? I’m pretty strong huh?”
“Oh yeah… Super strong.” you answer, nodding sarcastically.
Dean came back, once again taking a hold of your hand, “Don’t- don’t encourage him.” he told you. Then continued your search for Sam. Spruce followed you and Dean down a set of stairs leading into the basement. Suddenly the door slammed behind you, leaving Maggie, Ed, and Harry alone. Dean instructed them to make a salt circle as you continue on down to the basement.
“Hey can I ask something. Earlier… You, Sam, and Y/N talked about how you had two months left?” Spruce questioned.
“Yeah… it’s complicated.” Dean said absentmindedly.
“L-let’s not talk about that and focus on finding Sam and Corbett.” you say as Spruce had the camera on you. You pause, straining your ears, “You hear that?”
“Is that music?” Spruce asked.
“It’s coming from behind this wall.” Dean answered while he moved the metal cabinets and busted open the door behind it. Finding Sam tied to a chair, Dean shot the ghost making it disappear. You and Dean proceeded to untie Sam as quickly as possible. Unfortunately there was no helping Corbett.
Sam explained what the ghost of Freeman Daggett was doing. How he would bring the dead corpses home to celebrate his birthday. While on the stairs to go back to the first floor Spruce’s camera began to malfunction. He turned around, the Daggett’s ghost was right behind him and threw him back into the room. Sam came down and shot it. It disappeared and reappeared behind Dean who came back into the room. Then Daggett’s ghost sent him flying and Sam right after. All of a sudden Corbett’s ghost appeared and talked him and they both disappeared in a big flash.
“Babe! You okay?” you asked holding your hand out to help him up.
“Yeah, I’m fine…”he answered taking your hand and getting back on his feet.
You all walked out of that house. It then cut to a black screen ‘In Memory of Alan J. Corbett 1985-2008 King of the Impossible”
The ghost Facer crew looked at the three of you expectantly. “So what’d you guys think?” Ed finally asked.
Dean turned to look at you and Sam, “I think it was half awesome…” he stood and faced Ed, got in real close. “Just uh one little suggestion” he paused waiting for Ed to answer, he was a bit intimidated and simply nodded “If I were you I wouldn’t have added all those scenes where the camera stays a little too long on my girlfriend.” Ed’s eyes widened slightly and nodded once more.
The three of you headed outside towards the impala, “We clean?” Sam asked. Screams of the Ghost Facers could be heard and the three of you smiled and hopped into baby.
“Electro magnet wiped out every tape and hard drive they have” Dean said.
“World isn’t ready for the Ghost Facers” Sam added.
“That’s too bad… I kinda liked the show.” stated Dean.
Sam smirked, “it had its moments”
“I don’t like being the center of attention.” you declared.
You all laughed as Dean pulled out of the drive way and back on the road.
Hanging out with Michelle Yu of Old Man Art Shoppe
What inspired you to start your own blog and shop?
I’ve always loved illustrating and known that I’m good at it, but it had never really occurred to me that it could be more than a hobby until I met fellow local artist, Randa Salloum, who runs a successful website and Etsy shop selling metallic foil prints. I’d shopped on Etsy before and knew what it was, but for some reason it never clicked in my mind until I saw that lots of artists were selling their work online.
Who or what influences your style?
Everything from menswear to hip hop to the Vogue Paris power pack. I appreciate certain elements of different styles and adapt it for myself. I like mostly pretty minimalist and monochromatic looks for myself, with a dash of “street”.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
In life? My relationships. In my work? I’ve done some pretty cool stuff in my career but I’d say starting the shop is pretty high up there. From the outside it might not look like much, but it really took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears; I’m proud of this new project I’ve started and am really excited to see where it goes. I think it’s because it’s my own, not something I’m working on for another company.
What’s the greatest advice you’ve ever been given?
Go out and see things. Whether it’s travelling to other countries, or sample-shopping to see what your peers and competitors are doing, it never hurts to expose your senses to new ideas because they’ll either keep you informed or give you inspiration.
I just released a card for Valentine’s Day (the “Elephant Shoes (I Love You)” card), which is a first for Old Man Art Shoppe. More greeting cards are in the works, and there may be some collaborations with other local fashion folk–stay tuned! And buy my existing shit!
What are your long-term goals for your blog and shop?
My dream job would be to illustrate full-time, with 50% of my time allocated to creating new products for my shop, and the other 50% to contract illustration work (for magazines, retailers, bloggers, brands etc). Kind of like what illustrators like Danny Roberts and Megan Hess are doing–I really admire their work.
Do you have any tips for aspiring bloggers?
Work hard and with purpose. Also, there / their / they’re; to / two / too.
The work table surface, normally splashed with a variety of colors and shapes, was spread with orderly units of army greens, red berries, and white sprays of filler.
Fucking cunts. These rich hags left it to the last minute, and wouldn’t you know who had to rush the arrangements. And every fucking order was just a bit different- one wanted red as the highlight and white as the accessory, and another wanted it the other way round.
Nosty tucked a trimmed dreadlock back under its band and stabbed a block of foam with a wired stem. He’d given up filling the orders as they were written and just made a variety. The cunts would forget what they thought they wanted by the time he delivered them.
Happy fucking Christmas.
It was Christmas Eve and he was stuck here, covered in flakes of chipped green foam, soaking wet from shoulder to wrist and from his knees down, constructing decorations for silly bints when his own home was barely trimmed.
Belle’s home, he corrected. He was a guest.
Guest sounded better than stray, but now at least he could pretend to contribute. This job came with a pay packet and almost regular hours, as long as there wasn’t a big holiday everyone got into a fucking twist over.
Happy fucking Christmas.
His dreads were wet now. Even shorter, the fuckers would take a day to dry. The ends had been so ragged that he agreed to trim them when he took the job. Now they made him look artistic rather than just dirty, and the customers seemed to think nothing of it. They never had to know that he’d originally done it because bathing was a luxury and the lice were easier to see and get rid of this way.
It had been months since he’d been to the bridge. Months since he finally cleaned up and let go, accepting, after nearly a year, that he really could have more. He stopped trying to sabotage whatever it was he and Belle had. If his bird liked a bit of rough, who was he to argue? He liked a bit of posh, and they got on well enough. How much harder did it need to be?
The work table was clearing off again, so Nosty wiped it down and went to the coolers to stow this finished arrangements and fish out a few more sprigs for the last batch. The odd pieces and mistakes, though, he returned to his extra buckets. He had plans for them.
A violent shiver ran through him. Fuck, he hated being cold. He was cold for so long, chilled to the bone by wind, pavement, rain, and the looks in people’s eyes. Now his teeth chattered despite the puffy down waistcoat that made him look a twee poof.
Well, he did arrange flowers for a living.
Once the big arrangements were done, and his hands had nearly gone blue, he turned his attention to the note he’d found tucked in his trouser pocket.
Be home by five. Hate these faculty things. Please make something pretty? I like evergreens! And when you can, trim the tree? You can use whatever you find. Can’t wait to see you tonight.
His bird was mental, but she wasn’t picky, thank fuck. The place was covered in pine, rosemary, and spruce. His fingernails had turned a faint yellow from the oils a week ago and Nosty doubted the smell would wash off before the New Year.
With a shudder from the chill, he surveyed he coolers. If Belle wanted something pretty, he would make her something pretty. He couldn’t manage the kind of gift he wanted to give, though she seemed to have everything he could ever imagine giving. She had diamonds, silver, gold, pearls, silk, and nice shoes. Her clothes were whole and soft, and her coats were warm. Nosty knew he couldn’t afford the kind of clothes she wore anyway. Not living clean.
But he could take home any leftover trimmings from the shop he liked. Most days there were a few posies, a little greenery, or an arrangement that got cancelled that was too specialized to take apart and reuse. Today, Christmas Eve, he carefully gathered what he could and set to work.
The last delivery was done and he was walking home, the arrangement for Belle wrapped in foil and tied up in bright cellophane. Nosty never walked under bridges anymore, staying on the high streets and lit pavements instead. It actually took him time to learn these routes- he’d always kept to the shadows and dark places.
As he walked, Nosty couldn’t help stealing a glance at himself in a window, his image spangled here and there by fairy lights and the bright displays behind storefronts. He’d filled out over these months; the hollows in his face softer and his clothes on him rather than hanging off. With his dreads a bit shorter and pulled back, the boys might not even recognize him now.
He’d been gone too long to even try. They probably thought he was dead or nicked. It was probably for the best.
Fuck, was this middle class morality growing on him? Was he going to start a rose garden and wearing tweed next?
That thought might have sent him plodding to the bottle months ago, just to prove he wasn’t. Nosty ran his tongue over his repaired teeth and grinned instead. He might not be garden club material, but he might try a few window boxes at home. Working at the shop hadn’t taught him how to keep a plant alive, just the basics of arrangement, but he could try. Belle would like that. He liked it when Belle liked things— things he did. There were advantages and rewards for that.
There were no rewards to going back. There would be work, retribution, payouts and paybacks. The only advantage was freedom, or so he once told himself. It was hard to be free when your belly was empty and your bed would be cardboard over pavement. If you slept. Sleep was a risk best kept to a minimum.
Nosty shook himself. He slept every night now, warm and safe. Some nights he didn’t even need to crawl to the head board and cage Belle with his body. Sleep evened out the highs and lows, and so did regular feedings. He ate proper food every day and even knew how to make a cheese toasty and eggs and shit now.
His stomach growled. It was after lunch time and he hadn’t much for breakfast. Belle’s steak pie was waiting for him and he couldn’t wait to see how his decoration looked on her table.
Nosty kept walking at a good clip, eager to get home. As he crossed a bridge he glanced up and saw a cop with one hand on his truncheon and he started to freeze, panic tightening his gut and shoving his gorge to the back of his throat. The cop just nodded at him and kept glancing up the street where he’d come from.
Not for me. Not here for me.
But the reflex was still there.
Happy fucking Christmas.
Nosty’s boots scraped the pavement as he slowed. No buskers in Belle’s neighborhood and no dark corners full of wasters. Her stoop wouldn’t be covered by a bleary lump in the morning, either. How had he come to see this place as maybe just a tiny bit his? Not the flat, so much, but the feeling. Not being out of place. Belonging. Maybe his boots would learn to walk like they knew the way soon.
As he unlocked the door, Nosty smiled at the sound Belle’s key made. Good sound. Solid. The weight in his pocket all day made him feel right. Grounded. Safe.
She gave him the key some weeks back, saying something about status and security. His bird was a bit mental, but she understood him. He didn’t really even mind the implication.
Nosty set his jacket down and unwrapped the flowers. They were just right on the table in the entry. They would get Belle’s attention just by being there, but hold it because they were intriguing. There were standard sprays of rosemary and spruce and pretty paperwhites, but that wasn’t what he really liked. There weren’t many, but a few lavender roses were left from a holiday wedding. The stems weren’t long enough for the designer, but they were just fine for him. A few silver balls and a couple blue flowers made the whole thing glow.
Satisfied with the flowers, he turned to Belle’s note. He had about two hours before she was home and they could finally start their holiday. She’d got the tree delivered a few days before and they’d taken turns watering and forgetting to water the bastard thing. If the lack of needles on the floor were any indication, they’d done a decent job of not forgetting too often.
There was a box of lights, a packet of stringy silver tinsel, and a handful of ornaments with scrawling hand painted years or family pictures mounted to them.
It was a big tree.
Maybe there was more somewhere in the flat. She had said to use whatever he could find, so she probably had a box of red and gold shite somewhere sitting about. In their bedroom there was no more than had been there that morning. There were a few Father Christmas figurines and one snowman with a dried husk shoved in his gob for a pipe, but nothing he could hang on a tree.
He knew she had jewellery, but he wasn’t about to sling Belle’s pearls around a branch. He never touched her personal things. For all the thieving he’d done, he’d never even looked at her things that way. Except that one time… Nosty shook his head, slinging a dread free to flap into his face. That wasn’t who he was any more.
Speaking of the tree, it needed water. He mixed up some tree food and looked at himself in the spoon. The polish was perfect and reflected his nose into a strange bulbous lump. When he was clean, he wasn’t a half bad looking bloke and the clash of visions left him uncomfortable.
After mixing up the tree food and sloshing a liter into the pan, Nosty left the pitcher and shiny spoon on the counter and scrounged. There were oranges in a bowl and a wreath on the table. The kitchen twine was out, ready to truss up their Christmas dinner.
No tree trimmings.
He stomped through the flat in cold, wet shoes and trousers, shivering and chilled. He only had a half hour, so where were the fucking bows and bells? A woman like Belle would have perfect little glass ornaments, or cases of matched designer globes to hang and catch the light. As a bairn he’d stared at pretty trees, all done up in shades of blue and silver or red and gold. He even liked the tacky multicolored lights and mismatched bits kids did at their schools, glue dripping from between layers of colored paper to frost the tree with sticky globs.
Nothing. There was not a fucking thing sitting out to use.
Was this a joke? With a snort, he tossed the idea aside. Belle wouldn’t be so mean. She’d never make him feel less than what he was.
But what the fuck was he?
Nosty looked down. Not fucking housebroken is what he was. He was leaving puddles on the hardwood floor. He brushed at the half-dried flecks of green foam on his shirt and just ground the stuff in worse, so he shrugged it off and left it in a basket. His boots went to the mat by the door where they should have been in the first place, not tracking streaks across her floor.
With damp socks squishing over stiff, cold feet, he searched the room with sharp eyes. What was in here he could use? Nosty pulled out the string of lights and got them round the tree and sorted. It was quite nice when he plugged them in, but barren as bare rock. After a half hour of fiddling with bits of wire and shifting things from branch to branch, what he had just wasn’t enough. The half dozen dull, mismatched bits arsed up the whole thing. He snatched open the tinsel and his chilled, sore hands dropped the slippery mess.
Nosty looked down.
He shouldn’t have fucking looked down.
He was pale with cold and damp. The scars on his chest, jagged scrapes from his own rabid claws, stood out in hideous relief in the chill. Like a bloody map leading to hell. How fucking nice it was, right over his heart. What was left of it, anyway. He was wet and cold and running circles around a stupid bit of useless wood because it wasn’t pretty enough. If he was anywhere else that fucking thing would be tinder and he’d be warmer.
He yanked his dreads loose from the tie. Who did he think he was, pretending to be a big man? Big man in a tiny waster’s scarred skin. No good, fucking pathetic—
Liar. Such a fucking liar. He lied to the system, lied to the hospitals, to his boys at the bridge, to himself… to Belle. Dear god, he’d been lying to Belle, spewing his shite at her sweet face all this time.
A violent shiver shook him, splattering his back with wet hanks of hair.
Nosty slipped to his knees by the tree. He imagined her ivory skin covering in the muck under Waterloo Bridge. Street grime, scum, and rot mixed to a paste by boots and thinned with piss. Lies were sticky and so was the muck. It took hot water and lots of soap to get it off but lies went under the skin, seeped into the brain.
He’d find the kilt. Drag out the jacket and boots. Maybe he could keep the job Belle helped him get, but he’d have to find a room, keep the kilt and his old shanks as back up. If he needed to, he could find a new crew-
He jerked in reflex and shivered again. She’d see the tree any moment and know what he was, a fucking failure. A sad little waste that crumpled over some ribbons and string.
“Nosty, are you here?” Her footsteps came closer. They were slower and softer than usual. “I saw your flowers— oh.”
Belle stood over him. Nosty could feel his labored breaths pushing his ribs out against his skin, straining his lungs. Dribbles of water ran down his back and chest, wetting his trousers again.
The heavy, wet dreads lifted from his back and were replaced by warm softness. Belle knelt in front of him and tugged the blanket, holding it closed. Nosty kept his chin down and watched a drop fall onto the blanket, float as a bead, then darken a tiny circle of fluff.
“Did you get cold?” She rubbed his shoulder and scooted closer.
He didn’t trust his lying mouth yet, so he just nodded.
Belle pushed away her shoes and tucked her luxurious hair back. “The damp got at you. I should have kept the heater on higher.” A touch at his face made him look up. Her eyes were sad— too round for happiness but too clear for tears. Why was his bird sad?
“Did you get my message? On the phone?” Belle searched his face.
He swallowed hard. Fuck him, he failed her again. “No.”
Belle smiled weakly. “I forgot— I have almost no decorations now. I always decorated the tree with James…” She trailed off. He’d never heard her lose a thought before. She wiped her nose delicately. “I’d boxed everything up and sent it to Matthew.”
Belle was hurting. Fuck him, his bird was hurting and he was sniveling over a tree. If she’d got home and he’d been gone then she would be alone, too. Hurting and alone.
Nosty knew what hurt and alone felt like. You needed someone to give you a place to rest; some place soft, warm… safe.
Everything in her flat was rich and plush. There was food, a warm bed, a heater, and a fucking badly decorated tree. What could a bit of rough give a posh girl like Belle? She didn’t need anything. Didn’t need anything, except…
Nosty spread his arms wide and held the blanket open.
It took her a moment. Belle’s face was a mix of misery, uncertainty, and want. She craved connection as much as anything in the world, but she hated to make him sacrifice his own little comforts. It was the least he could fucking do—offer her space in her own flat, under her own blanket. It put his frailty on display, but Belle had never humiliated him for his scars before. He marked himself on the outside, but as she crawled over to him and snuggled to his side, Nosty knew she wore her hurts her own way.
It was different, having her need him. No one needed Nosty, but as the minutes crawled by and Belle’s wracking breaths calmed, for once he felt like someone else’s center. He used to sneak into a planetarium and learned all about gravity and orbits while getting dry and warm. A huge model of the solar system had spun high above his head, making him queasy, but he always felt like he was stuck in some outer ring— a comet that would blaze by and disintegrate once it touched anything.
Or anything touched it.
Except here he was, anchoring his woman to his side. And he hadn’t crumbled to dust. But he hadn’t done anything, either. Just opened his blanket and let her collapse on herself.
Somehow it was easier when he was half asleep, or when she took control of him, easing his hurts and letting him play out his needs. But Belle had needs, too.
“I was fine at the faculty party until someone asked about my brothers.” She sniffed. “I just stood there with my mouth open like a fish until someone whispered in her ear. She got all red and walked away, but I had to stay there until the department chair came by.”
Nosty chewed his tongue. There wasn’t a right thing to say. “I’m sorry.”
Belle sat up. “I wanted to run away so bad. I hated everyone there right then. I hated their perfect hair and suits and all their perfect families and decorations. I just wanted to get away.” She looked far away. “My brother is dead and this is my first Christmas without him and I wanted to burn everything.”
He was quiet. God, it was like they’d been linked. Twin panic attacks.
“Nosty, is that what it feels like?”
His eyes were stinging.
Belle turned to face him, her sweet, round face smooth and terrible; beautiful and terrifying. He lifted a hand, his fingers trembling, to stroke her cheek. She was so lovely, too gentle to have those thoughts in her head even though he knew she had every right to. He knew what people looked like as they were on the way down, and she’d watched her brother spiral. She knew what darkness there was down there.
“Nosty?” Belle was waiting. She was patient, but she was hurting. Hurts shouldn’t wait. Not when her bright eyes were so flat.
“Don’t run, Belle.” The words cracked on the way out. “Please. Never run.”
“You ran.” Lifeless voice, lifeless eyes. “You ran from me.”
“And I was stupid and cold and hungry. Never run.”
Her nose turned pink. “I worried about you. I was sick from it.”
It hurt so much. Fear and hurt and cold and wet. “I sat in a toy house all night. I froze and starved and thought of you. I could only live if I kept thinking of you.”
Belle’s eyes were wide. “You never mentioned that.”
“No,” he said. Why was it easier to do than say? “I wouldn’t have.”
She frowned. This wasn’t just about her brother. It was him, too.
You ran. You ran from me.
Belle hadn’t gotten over him leaving, walking away from her. It wasn’t about some stupid expectation, either. It had left her unbalanced.
Here he was, telling her not to get upset over some twat when she was upset with him. He already knew that he and her brother were some strange amalgam anyway, so when he left it was her brother walking away to his death all over again, too.
And he got weepy over some fucking tree. Had thought to leave again. Fuck him.
She had inched away. Not really getting away from him, but not in his space anymore either. Nosty didn’t want to overstep, but for once he had to move first.
He scooted closer and ducked his head to kiss her cheek. It was such an innocent thing, which made it all the more unusual, so he kissed her behind the ear for good measure.
Belle’s eyes closed and she held the blanket tight around them. Her shoulder was warm against his chest, her cheek soft against his nose.
“Belle, I… I have things to say, but I’m fucking awful at this so it’s going to be shite.”
She turned a degree. He knelt at her side so her head was just under his chin. If she turned and made eye contact it would be too much.
“Everyone has shite to run from. There’s bad homes, bad families, bad friends, and bad jobs, right? You can have one, but if the rest are okay, then it’s not so bad. If you’ve got two that are bad, then there’s work to do. If three are bad, then you have to grip onto that thing that’s good and keep it safe. If you run from that, then you run from the only good thing you have, yeah?”
“Right.” Belle swayed, bumped his chest with her head and left echoes of sensation in his ruined skin.
“You’ve got a great home. Pretty good family. Your job is full of cunts, but you like what you do, right?” Belle looked up and nodded. “But me? I’ve got nothing.” His skin felt too tight. “My old mates would shank me if they had half a chance, and I’m in my first real paying job.”
Belle’s face softened. “So, what do you have?”
Carefully, Nosty put his arms around her. “I have a key.”
She wrapped her hands around his arms and held them. “You have a home, Nosty. If you want it.” Belle twisted, her hair straying into his face, and tucked herself to his chest. Nosty stroked the soft strands down and swallowed hard.
For the first time in so very, very long, Nosty felt just a bit solid. The pit that a hard youth and a harder life had carved into him smoothed and filled in. Belle could do that, find his cracks and burrow into them. He wasn’t going soft, he was getting whole.
His sweet little bird was trembling. Nosty couldn’t allow that, not when he was there. Pitiful as he was, there was no way his precious posh was going to feel that kind of emptiness. His hands might be empty, but his heart felt full to bursting.
Unaware of his revelation, Belle had tucked her face to his neck. He needed to see her, have her see that she didn’t always have to carry him. Maybe, just maybe, he could carry her this time. Nosty brushed her hair back, gently bringing her face to his.
Oh. Her eyes were a bit red now. Those pale blue eyes couldn’t hide anything. Not from him. He’d seen her shine with joy, sparkle with laughter, blaze with fury, and glimmer with passion. Her eyes were dull and red now.
He felt his own eyes sting again. “Oh, Belle. That won’t do.” He brushed her cheek with the back of his rough fingers, tucking her hair back and tracing her ear. She was weary, and he had to provide her with a place to rest. Comfort. Safety.
Belle didn’t resist when he moved towards her. He didn’t pull at her, didn’t tug her into a kiss, just kept her steady against the waves that threatened her. She’d always been the one to start, to initiate, and it didn’t take him long to realize that it was because he didn’t know how.
But he could try. His full heart could try. But not now. “Belle, we have a problem.”
“What?” Her voice resonated in him, gentle and tinged with concern.
He sat back on his heels and pointed at the tree. “That looks like some street urchin got hold of it.”
Belle’s gaze lifted to the tree. The corners of her mouth twitched, then smiled. When she giggled, Nosty finally sighed in relief. “It is pretty awful. Any ideas?”
“One or two.” Nosty hopped up and went to the kitchen.
Nosty gave her rear a squeeze and drowsily kissed her hair.
“My Gran would never approve.”
He nuzzled her shoulder. “Hmm?” She was so warm, it was easy to drift with her weight over him.
Belle leaned up and braced an arm on the back of the couch. “I mean, it is pretty. I didn’t expect them to catch the light so well.”
He tapped the side of his head. “Clever me.”
“You might be clever, but you look ridiculous.”
“Oi! It’s not my fault we ended up on the floor.” Nosty wanted her to lean back down. His chest was getting cold.
“Trying to do that over the edge of the couch was your fault.”
He smirked. “You should tell me when you haven’t got a good grip. I almost took a fork to the eye.”
Belle tugged a bit of tinsel from a sparkling dreadlock. “That would have easier to clean up than this. Honestly, you’re going to look festive for days. The whole pack must be tangled in here.”
Nosty grinned and gently pulled until Belle tumbled back over. He kissed those swollen lips until he felt sated again. “I’ll just say I was in the Christmas spirit.” They laughed and kissed until his stomach growled loudly.
Belle tsked. “I thought you ate! C’mon, I’ll warm up some steak pie for you.” Gingerly, because they had been at it for a while, Belle pulled herself from the couch.
With a luxurious stretch, Nosty let his weight float. He felt so at peace. It was domestic as fuck and he didn’t think anything could be nicer.
Then he froze. “Belle, what are gonna eat with?”
“Oh! Untie a few spoons from the tree. Gran’s been dead a decade and isn’t likely to say anything about her best silver.”
God, his bird was mental, and he loved every bit of it.