rifle toss

After the Parade

“Hush,” he says.

Above them, Cabal ships drag thick black smoke across the flickering twilight, and flames rise from the Tower. Legionnaires scour the streets, seeking out the cries of the wounded and afraid.

“Hush,” he says again, as the child starts to sniffle, and he pulls her into the shadows cast by an apartment block as a patrol makes its laborious way past. He was made to protect, made to serve, but he feels clumsy now; the hand on her shoulder is almost larger than her head and she has no armor to protect her bruised and burned skin from his rough gauntlets. When he tries to wipe the tears from her face he worries that he will be the one to break her.

He followed her screams, just as the Cabal did. He had no rifle to kill the Legionnaires that would have silenced her; dispatched the first one with his boot-knife but was not quick enough to catch the second unaware. It is dead, but his chest-plate is cracked and burned and the thing that eats the Traveler has also eaten his Light.

She is wearing yellow. A summer dress, for a celebration. When he offered her his gore-spattered hand she took it at once, and did not look back at the splayed and broken limbs visible beneath the rubble around her as though she knew there was no one left to wait for. He brushed dust and chips of concrete from the tight black curls on her head, and when she tried to smile her gap-toothed smile at him despite it all he knew that he would die the second death to save her.

They pick their way through dust-covered streets and alleys, one grimy hand holding his armored fingers, the other wrapped around the silent shell of his Ghost. He told her to keep it safe, and she clutches it to her chest with an intensity that would do any Titan proud.

To those behind the Wall, love and service. To those outside it, fury and fire. He is young: the Order’s maxim has never meant much to him, but here at the end of an Age he feels each word burning in his chest and he wraps his Mark around her shoulders like a cloak, like a little Hunter, to keep the nearness of the night from her as best he can.

When they hear the distant bursts of gunfire he waits until the chatter fades, then leads them in a different direction even though it gives him hope to know the City is still fighting. Perhaps if he ran to the violence he would find weapons or more Guardians, but he will not risk it. And so hours pass as they slink across the city, and as slowly as his wounds force him to move she still takes ten strides for every one of his. She has only one sandal, silver leather wrapped around a tiny leg, but he thinks that a single piece of armor is better than no armor at all.

He finds a battered pulse rifle in a street that leads to a square, tries not to wonder where its owner went. The magazine is full, but it is all he has and there is no Ghost at his shoulder to synthesize ammo. He bends to pick it up, never letting go of the hand that holds his own, just as a troop of Legionnaires turn the corner in front of them.

He pulls the child behind a crumbled wall. Waits one heartbeat, two; no slug throwers roar in response. Even so, they are between him and the direction he has lead, and he doubts he has the strength to cross the City again.

Love and service to those within. Fire and fury to those without.

The Legionnaires do not notice, but neither do they move on. More join them, and they begin to spiral out in all directions, continuing their search. It will not be long before they find him and the child. A narrow street, once hung with banners but now collapsing from the rooftops down, will lead her west, to the walls, away from Cabal patrols - as long as there is a distraction.

He lifts her chin as gently as he can.

“You have to run,” he whispers. He is bad at whispering. “I’ll keep you safe.”

“That way,” he says when she stares at him in silence, pointing with his outsized hand down the shadowed street.

He gives her a delicate push, points again. She blinks, once, then toddles into the dark, Ghost held close as though it will protect her. Perhaps, if there is a way to undo this disaster, it someday will.

He props the rifle atop the ledge, lifts his visor and sights with naked eye. There are so many, he thinks, and then bites back a laugh - there are only eight.

Love within. Fury without.

The rifle barks. One Legionnaire dies and the others spin in confusion, firing in the direction of his cover. He ignores them, squeezes the trigger again. And again. And again.

Love within. Fury without. Love within. Fury without. Love within. Fury without. Love within -

Something tugs his arm. He looks down into the eyes of the little girl, and pure terror finds him.

“I said run,” he growls, but she does not, her face set in a scowl. He shakes his arm and she does not let go.

A micro-rocket bursts against the barricade and he ducks, throws his body over her, sprays the rest of his bullets in response. The child buries her head in his cracked armor, her frail body shaking.

Never has he been so afraid to die.

He feels a fool. He tosses the rifle down, wraps one arm around the child and pulls her close. With the other he slams his visor shut. He takes a deep breath, and then another, and when at last there is a break in the constant fire he lurches to his feet, lifts the child to his chest, and runs.

It is hard, so hard, to move full Titan-plate without his Light to drive it. His body aches. Something inside is probably broken, and he does not know how long it takes a body to heal without a Ghost.

A slug hits him in the back and he stumbles but his armor holds, and he sprints down the street where he tried to send the child, the sound of jump-packs following behind. He ducks his head and cups himself around his charge, makes himself as big as he can, plows across the debris-choked pavement. The girl begins to cry again, though to his ears it is not the sound of fear but of fury, and before long he is roaring with it, and the two of them roar together down the long, narrow street as explosions scatter bits of ruins that once were homes. He does not know where he is going, knows only that he must go somewhere, that he will not stop until the child is safe or his legs no longer work; that when he has nothing left he will throw her from him and tear the Cabal apart with fists alone, Light or no.

He has stopped counting the impacts. Every step is a knife in his chest. The Legionnaires must be close but he does not turn, lest the shield that is his body fail. He can feel himself slowing, a sensation that fills him both with wonder and despair, but he cannot force himself to let her go despite his promise. Something cracks against the back of his leg, and he is too tired and too hurt to correct. He lands heavily on one shoulder, slides ten grinding yards, arms still wrapped around the child. At the very least, they will have to rip him apart to get to her. Maybe, if he dies quickly, they will not notice her at all.

Gunfire interrupts his thoughts, along with the sound of footsteps and the roar of Cabal. Hands grab him, drag him out of the street, but still he does not uncurl. He sees Hunter cloaks, Warlock robes, a Titan mark.

“Hush,” he tells the child, head still tucked close, while they cower in a doorway and around them Guardians fight.

“Hush,” he tells her, over their surprised cries of pain.

“Hush,” he tells her, over and over, until at last all is silent and he dares to lift his head and stand.

He helps the child to her feet, and though he leans against the doorway it is her tiny hand in his that keeps him upright. He looks around at their saviors: most are near as bruised as he is. They nod their heads, pat him on the back, and he opens his mouth to ask for forgiveness, for leading the Legionnaires here, but a Hunter shakes her head as though she knows what he will say.

Two Guardians lie dead. Truly dead. One Hunter, one Titan wearing the Mark of the Gatewatch. He waits the half-second for their Ghosts to revive them, feels sick when they do not rise. He swears that he will learn their names and add them to the Order of the Pilgrim Guard.

Someone makes cooing sounds and tries to take the child, tries to give her water, but she refuses to let go of his hand, refuses to surrender his Ghost. For a moment they stand there, all seven of them in a circle around her, and it is as though a different light has risen to bond them all.

They need ships. Weapons. Food, maybe. The child, at least, must eat. The Hunter offers water again, and he wonders how many new scraps of fabric she has taken for her cloak. A different Titan, this one wearing the Mark of the Six Fronts, hands him the dead Hunter’s rifle - then looks down at the child, still clinging to his hand, and passes him a sidearm instead.

They turn their backs to the Tower, and continue their slow march to the western wall. Perhaps they will find supplies along the way. If not, so be it - they are still Guardians, and they will save what light they can.

Love within. Fury without.

The Cabal have no word for ‘retreat.’ Soon, they will learn that the Guardians have none for ‘mercy.’

Words: @themothyards

Art: @artdailybykitty

“No mourners,” Jesper said as he tossed his rifle to Rotty.
“No funerals,” the rest of the Dregs murmured in reply. Among them, it passed for “good luck.” 

Leigh Bardugo, Six of Crows

Currently reading this book and it’s incredibly great! I am enjoying every page and I wonder how The Dregs will pull off this dangerous heist.

titaniasfics  asked:

Agelast <3 !

You bring out the twisted in me, woman. I blame you entirely. Not really. I love you. Don’t hate me. WARNINGS: RATED E, for sexual content, brief violence, character death, arranged marriages and associated dubious consent, …and general fuckery. Keep an open mind here, I was trying for a variety of cultures. Also bisexual!Peeta…so anyway, there’s a scene here with him with someone who is not Katniss. You’ve been warned. And I’ll probably continue this because who am I kidding? I cannot resist starting random WIPs at the worst time possible. This is wholly unbeta’d, so you can blame me for this pile of trash. Also go easy on me. It’s my first foray into sci-fi.

Agelast - A person who never laughs.

Dark Matter

Mud sprays up around them in deceiving tufts of gentle soil and flashes of blue light. His feet carry him in a vaguely serpentine pattern. A delicate balance of speed and survival. He raises his weapon and fires towards the enemy, watching at least one mud splattered white uniform drops before the others behind him open fire as well. He grips the shoulder of his Sergeant to haul him back to his feet.

“Thought you’d never get here,” Darius says and catches the blast rifle Peeta tosses to him as they continue the charge.

“You doubted me?” Peeta asks with a grin as they dodge more blasts.

“There!” Darius shouts and points towards an outcropping of rock that should provide shelter and Peeta nods in agreement. They need a place to regroup and plan a flanking maneuver around Snow’s troops. The small group of soldiers forms a ring around Peeta and Darius, firing outward as they race for the rock. A few yell as they go down and a loud humming fills the air. Peeta turns to drag them to safety when Darius screams and shoves Peeta towards the rock.

Brilliant blue light blinds him for a moment, throws him back against the rock as it consumes his Sergeant and friend. His body slides to the ground, the armor having taken most of the force, but he’s left winded and in shock as he stares at the space where Darius should be and instead finds a pile of bloodied, desiccated flesh. Another blast of the blue light follows a brief hum and them a choking noise as though the weapon malfunctioned. The force of it hits the rock and splits it in two. Before Peeta can react, half of it crashes down towards him.

Keep reading


For anon…enjoy!

Y/N peeked her head slightly into the hectic hallway. The men in white snowsuits continuously shot toward her and Eggsy. They were shooting right at them from the center of the corridor. She grit her teeth while retreating behind her little safe spot. She could hear Merlin, clearly stressed, telling them to hurry up.

“You’ve only got 15 minutes. You two need to stop him,” Merlin urged.
“We’re a bit busy,” Eggsy bit, “unless you’d like to have a go at it.”

Y/N quickly scanned the area. Her eyes landed on Eggsy’s umbrella weapon. A little bit in front of Eggsy was another assault rifle. She sucked in a breath in order to calm herself.

“Eggsy,” she spoke into the comm, “I’ll be able to give you a window to get through. You have to take it, alright?”
“Y/N, wait! You don’t have to-”

Y/N kicked up the umbrella weapon and caught it in her hands. She snapped it open and lowered to the ground until the shield fully protected her. She crawled out into the open and turned the gun to stun. With deadly precision, Y/N shot stun bullets at the encroaching men.

Off to the side, Eggsy grit his teeth. He was slightly annoyed for…select reasons. After a moment, he noticed a path clearing up in the middle. He watched as she inched her way to his side. He looked down and caught her idea. Oddly enough, it was as if she noticed him notice.

“Switch,” she yelled.

With ease, she snapped the umbrella closed and tossed it to Eggsy. In the same moment, the blond kicked up the rifle, caught it, and tossed it to her. Eggsy reopened the shield as she opened fire. Her eyes widened as she saw the path diminishing.

“Go, Eggsy,” she ordered harshly.
“Head back to the jet,” he shot back.
“Just go,” she bit back with a little more venom.

With one last look at her, Eggsy rushed down the hall. He may be upset, but he had to stop Valentine first.

Keep reading

ID #51148

Name: Marissa
Age: 15
Country: USA

Hi, my name is Marissa. I am a lesbian. My pronouns are She/Her. I am a feminist. I am quite introverted. I love to read. My favorite books, at the moment, are Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of The Universe and House on Mango Street. I love music. I don’t really have a favorite band I kinda just listen to music. I like indie music. I play ukulele and guitar(kinda).I like tv too. My favorite shows right now is Skam, Doctor Who, and Game of Thrones. I’m really into art. I can’t draw to save my life, but I love photography and film. My favorite artist is Vincent Van Gogh. My favorite film is Moonrise Kingdom. I make crappy films myself. I do color guard(it’s like dancing but you toss flags, rifles, and sabres). I can somewhat speak and write french, but I am fluent in English. I like memes too. The reason why I want a pen pal is because my school year is ending very soon and I really don’t have anything to do this summer and I would really like to talk to someone new. Also, I would like somewhat to listen to me rant and in return, I can listen to you rant.

Preferences: I would like someone between the ages of 14-16. Gender doesn’t really matter. Please don’t be homophobic, transphobic, racist, sexist, anti-feminist(you don’t need to be feminist but you can’t hate on feminists), and please no trump supporters (I will rant about him a lot).

WIP for musicalluna pt3

(Eventually I’ll get the hang of coding html on tumblr but for now there’s this) for @musicalluna


When Tony woke, it wasn’t light like he was expecting.

They had all been ridiculously tired and hurt - Tony assumed the only chance of it still being dark when he woke up was if he slept until the next evening, which it definitely was not. No way would the others have let him sleep that long, they enjoy distrusting his sleep far too much.

The moonlight made the snow outside glow softly, subtly illuminating parts of the cabin. Tony shifted to sit up slightly, careful not to press on his new stitches thanks to Steve. For a guy with large hands, Steve had a remarkable skill for detail, probably because of all the time he spent sketching privately.

Tony plucked himself out of Steve’s grip, who apparently locked his arms around his waist in his sleep. Steve’d never do that consciously, surely (right?). Looking down fondly at the blonde, the hairs on the back of Tony’s neck stood up suddenly, sending chill down his spine - not a pleasant one, either. Glancing around the room, Tony took a sudden intake of breath when he noticed Barnes had silently gotten up too, looking alarmingly alert for such an ungodly hour in the morning.

Barnes’ mouth was set in a thin line, barely making a sound as he breathed. He’s listening for something, Tony realised, when a noise outside drew his attention towards to door. He almost didn’t hear it, but a rustle of movement beside him and Nat was now wide awake too.

Something wasn’t right then.

Soundlessly, the three of them got up and crept across the floor of the cabin, Bucky nudging Steve awake as he did so, bringing a finger to his lips when Steve eyed him curiously and was about to speak up. Steve clearly sensed something was wrong too, and joined Natasha in looking carefully out the window through the drapes, riddled with holes and frayed at the tips.

Tony felt his heart beating in his mouth, and swallowed down the stir of dread pooling in his gut.

Pulling on boots and coats, the four of them regarded each other before Steve spoke in a hushed tone to them, “I say three of us check the area, and someone stays behind to keep watch if the others.” Clint, Sam, and Rhodey were all fast asleep, oblivious to the tension around them, deeply sedated on the pain meds they managed to scramble together from the wreckage earlier.

Tony noticed the other three looking at him expectantly, and he huffed an air of annoyance. Of course, because he was without his suit he should be the one to stay behind, because without it, he’s as good as a civilian. Steve read as much on Tony’s scowl, and sighed gently.

“Stark- Tony, it’s not that you aren’t capable-”

“But I’m not as capable as you, got it.”

Steve didn’t look pleased by this, but ignored the comment in leu of the current situation. Like the fact they’ve probably been found by hydra, who’s forces are currently trying to ambush them.

Sounds about right, Tony mused.
Nat, Barnes, and Steve took a final once-over of the scene from the window and filed outside, gens turning signals to each other as they went.

Steve head out first, making a gesture behind himself a few yards from the cabin. With his left arm, he raised his forearm up, making an ‘o’ shape with his hand.

hurry up

Before they’d slunk out the door, they’d grabbed their handguns fixed with silencers. Nat and Barnes followed up behind Cap in a wedge formation, keeping enough distance between each other to get a good scope of the area around them. Tony craned his neck out the door as much as he could until all three were out of sight. The trees were much denser in this area which made the threat of an ambush much more likely.

Ten minutes past and Tony still hadn’t seen or heard from the others. Rhodey had woken up, not nearly on as main pain meds as Sam and Clint, and had a pistol in hand from his spot on the sofa. Tony cursed whatever hydra goon had set off the EMP immobilising the suit. He and Rhodey had had to abandon most of their armours, not having enough time to get it back into working order. They’d made sure to blow it up first of course before retreating back to the jet.

Tony had kept his gauntlets on, and the reactor of course, and was currently in the process of trying to boot them back up. Without the reactor at full capacity though, it was a long and tedious process.

Another 10 minutes passed (well, actually 8 minutes, 37 seconds, 38, 39…) and Tony heard the muffled sound of a gunshot spit through the silence on the night air. Looking back at Rhodey for a moment, Tony thought fuck it, they probably could do with some help, and made a dash for it out of the door, into the cold biting air outside.

Clicking the door shut behind him, Tony scurried to the nearest evergreen to get some kind of shelter while he surveyed the area. His breath frosted in front of his nose, and be took a moment to control his breathing before heading in the last direction he saw the others go. Following in that direction, Tony regarded the bootprints left in the snow. Hydra issue combat boots had a distinction tread mark, and Tony followed them cautiously. As far as the hydra agents knew, only three Avengers we’re currently out on the scene.

Hearing the crunch of snow underfoot a few feet ahead, Tony poked out from behind a large oak tree, adjusting the silencer into his gun, and picked off two hydra goons in two practised shots. Venturing out and searching the agents of anything useful, Tony heard a commotion a few yards ahead. Setting off in a sprint, Tony came to the edge of a clearing, throwing himself onto the ground before a steep drop into the clearing.

Steve was there, wrestling three agents off his back. One agent deliver a swift jab to his gut, only slightly making Steve double over, before he delivered a far more devastating uppercut to the hydra goon’s chin, knocking him out cold. Steve then grappled with the agent over his back, trying to crush his windpipe with the rifle he was carrying. Steve got a grip on the rifle and tossed his attacker over his shoulders, where the guy landed in a graceless pile at Steve’s feet. Scrambling for a handgun, the agent was cut short with a swift step to the neck from Steve.

The crack of bone breaking reverberated through the trees, and the third agent panicked momentarily before Steve shot him between the eyes in one graceful movement.

Steve was panting, shoulders heaving with adrenaline and fists clenching and unclenching as he caught his breathe. Tony kicked himself internally for not coming out sooner, since they clearly had needed the extra support. Steve was tired, which said a hell of a fucking lot about the current mess they were in.
Tony was about to make his presence know to Steve when a spot of light caught his eye from amongst the trees a few yards behind Steve, who was busy kneeling down beside the agents, searching them for anything useful. A figure stepped out the shadows, raising a large looking blade into an offensive position.

Tony swallowed hard, then set his face determinedly, raising his own gun directed at the agent. Tony didn’t want to risk yelling at Steve to warn him, since the agents reaction would be too unpredictable. Too many variables he is not willing to test.

Once in range, Tony focuses the barrel of the gun on the mark and pulled the trigger.


Wait, no. No, no, no, no,


The chamber was empty.

Grunting in frustration and feeling the sudden build up of panic and dread, Tony did the only rational thing he could think of, and lunged.

Steve spun around at the commotion, gun raised, before lowering it when he saw Tony. Tony was leapt down from a hight like a bat out of hell and sent himself and - and a hydra agent (how did he miss that, damn it?) skidding across the clearing.

The agent rolled Tony over onto his back and swung a meaty just at Tony’s nose, grinning when it crunched under the impact. Tony kneed the guy in the groin, turning them both over again and began beating the agent again and again and again until he saw blood. Steve stood frozen for a few precious moments before running forward - and gracelessly slipping on ice.

His body landed with a ear-splitting crack on the ground, and for a moment everything stopped.

Tony had paused, fist frozen mid-air, and the agent’s eyes were blown wide and startled. Steve only had a moment to realise what was happening; the deep echoing crack underneath them, and a split in the ice coming from under his body, headed like a bold of electricity towards the fight I front of him.

Steve didn’t dare breathe.

Another large and ominous sound echoed underneath Tony and the agent, before Tony’s eyes met his, panicked and wide, and Steve barely had a moment to call for Tony’s name before the ice gave way and the two men out on the ice went crashing though the surface into the freezing cold mercy depths below.



okay so i saw @kathy-plumpies’s post on newsies and instruments and i immediately had to make a marching band au.

  • pulitzer is that one judge at every competition who gives modern shows a low score because he doesn’t like that it’s not ~classical~
  • denton is the super cool band director who always does modern shows because a)they’re fun. b)to piss off pulitzer.
  • their band is called “the marching strikers.”
  • katherine is the drum major who rules with an iron fist and makes the band do unnecessary drill downs when they’re goofing off too much.
    • when she’s not in drum major mode, she’s a lot of fun to be around.
    • she also looks damn good in her majorette uniform.
  • sarah is the other drum major
    • she and katherine are the power couple of the band.
    • she also looks damn good in her majorette uniform.
  • it’s not on purpose, but spot is never on his dot. ever.
  • neither is racetrack(who plays the sousaphone), but he does that on purpose. mostly to be closer to spot.
    • this is a problem because whenever katherine yells at him to get back to his spot, he just dramatically tackles spot.
    • this is an even bigger problem, because spot plays the quad. a small angry boy with a quad being tackled by an overexcited italian boy with a sousaphone never ends up well.
  • speaking of drumline, spot’s the captain. he’s the reason why all the other high schools are terrified of being in a drum battle with them. also the reason why drumline always has detention.
  • crutchie is the color guard captain. despite having a bad leg, he’s still the best performer the band has had. denton makes sure the drill is accommodating so he isn’t excluded. and damn, that boy can toss a rifle. have you seen his arms??
    • medda is the colorguard instructor and she works with crutchie to make sure he can do the work without hurting his leg. she’s also the official band mom.
    • every season, crutchie makes sure the guard has glitter somewhere in their makeup.
    • specs is also on the colorguard, and each year he has a dance solo.
    • mush is on guard and he always helps everyone with their makeup and he’s especially good at high tosses.
  • david is the clarinet section leader, obviously. he’s the only section leader who denton actually trusts to do things right.
    • swifty and elmer are also clarinets, and they’re all pretty geeky in an endearing way.
  • les isn’t in high school, but since his parents are part of the pit crew, he’s usually there to help out (aka follow jack around).
  • jack is section leader of the trumpets, obviously. he’s cocky and full of himself and has deep, hidden insecurities.
    • dutchy, buttons, and albert are all trumpets as well.
  • drumline and trumpets are neck and neck for Worst Section Ever
    • the trumpets once set the storage closet on fire.
    • the drumline closet has half a pizza in the ceiling, and it’s been there since spot was a freshman. it smells so bad that people have to put cloths over their mouths when they go in there. there’s also weird stains in weirder places of the closet.
  • finch and jojo are saxophone buddies and they are…..something. by themselves they’re fine but together they’re a nightmare to control.
  • henry is just a sweet french horn trying his best.
  • smalls is the best piccolo and snipeshooter is the best flute. they break the stereotype of piccolo and flute players being quiet and shy by a long shot.
  • The delancey brothers are on the rival school’s drumline. oscar plays snare and morris plays the cymbals. They’re the only school who actually wants to go against spot’s drumline in a battle, despite losing every time.
  • tumbler, skittery, and bumlets are all on pit. The first two play the marimba and bumlets plays the percussion instruments(his favorite is the gong).
  • the rest of drumline consists of boots and pie eater, who play bass, romeo on snare, blink on the quad, and myron and bart are on cymbals.
    • specsromeo and blush are the inevitable drumline/colorguard couple. specsromeo are always making out during practice and blush is disgustingly domestic.
    • jake and itey are those poor souls who switch between different brass instruments each year.
    • much to pulitzers anger, the marching strikers win every competition with a standing ovation.
    under ground

    pairing: blaise zabini x ron weasley

    setting: modern, non-magical, college au

    word count: 804

    written for: @icanhelpyouthere + @themalfoymanner + @hexmionegranger + @hermionvgranger + whoever else asked idk

    It starts with a secret.

    “The fuck are you doing here?” Ron Weasley demands, just as Blaise enters the locker room.

    Blaise arches a brow, but otherwise doesn’t bother to respond. Ron Weasley is irrelevant. The contents of Draco Malfoy’s gym bag, however, are not.

    “Hey, man,” Weasley goes on, undeterred. “I asked you a question.”

    Blaise glances at an unmarked orange pharmacy bottle sitting on the middle shelf of Weasley’s locker. Fucking idiot. Fucking amateur. “That doesn’t entitle you to an answer, though, does it?”

    Weasley narrows his eyes. “What are you—that’s Malfoy’s bag,” he blurts out, sounding surprised. “What are you doing to Malfoy’s bag?”

    Blaise rifles around, tossing aside a few of Malfoy’s extra shirts and a monogrammed grey hand towel before coming up empty. He frowns. “Taking back what’s mine.”

    Weasley snorts, and then rakes his fingers through the sweaty red fringe of his hair. “Jesus, dude, do you have to make everything sound like a threat?”

    Blaise inspects the peeling blue label on a tub of IcyHot, irritation beginning to lick like fire against the tops of his tonsils. Malfoy wasn’t this clever. He fucking couldn’t be. “Dunno,” he muses, flatly. “Do you have to make everything sound like a deleted scene from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure?

    Weasley huffs at that, audibly dismissive, before turning towards his locker and reaching an arm back to lift his practice jersey over his head.

    And Blaise.

    Blaise is suddenly paying only very minimal attention to the gum wrapper and Dorito crumb and parking ticket detritus at the bottom of Malfoy’s bag. The fucking little black book could wait. Because Weasley

    Weasley is tall, obviously, tall and broad shouldered and long limbed; more lanky than he is anything else. But there’s a promising sort of elegance, almost, to how he’s put together. Big hands and strong forearms and an unexpected layer of muscle bunching around his biceps, cording up and down his neck, stretching and flexing and pulling beneath the freckled skin of his upper back as he shifts around, searching for a shirt.

    And Blaise.

    Blaise appreciates pretty things. His apartment is monochromatic, a perfectly contemporary celebration of sleek lines with shiny finishes, and he’s no stranger to sacrificing basic functionality for aesthetic appeal. And while Weasley might not be particularly refined, he is, Blaise thinks with some confusion—with some interest, really, lazy and muted and soft—he is most certainly a pretty thing.

    “What?” Weasley snaps, glaring at Blaise with thinly veiled suspicion.

    Blaise toys with the zipper on the inside pocket of Malfoy’s bag. “What do you mean, what?

    Weasley hunches forward slightly, crossing his arms over his still-bare chest. A decidedly rosy flush is starting to creep across his face. “You’re—fucking staring at me, man.”

    Blaise smirks. “Am I?”

    “See—that, that definitely sounded like a fucking threat. What’s your problem? You look like you’re—like you’re plotting something.”

    Blaise shrugs, and then chuckles, unable to stop himself from letting his gaze linger—impulsively, pointedly, heatedly—on Weasley’s exposed skin. Shoulders. Abdomen. No. Lower. Blaise is plotting something, of course. Weasley’s locker is two down from Malfoy’s, and that might just be better than a surveillance camera.

    “You think Malfoy’s a douche, right?” Blaise asks, as conversationally as he can manage.

    Weasley rocks back on his heels, basketball shorts slung low across his hips. “Doesn’t everyone?” he sneers.

    Blaise licks his lips. Weasley watches him. “Want to help me out with something, Weasley?”

    Unbidden, Weasley’s eyes drop to Blaise’s crotch. He looks stunned, and not a little dazed. “Um. What?”

    “Not that,” Blaise lies, and then pauses. “Well. Not unless you really want to.”

    Weasley clears his throat, expression hovering somewhere on the knife-edge between uncomfortable and intrigued. He appears helpless. Focused. Sharper than he usually is. Blaise can’t believe it took him so long to notice this. To notice him.

    “What?” Weasley says again, more quietly.

    “You know what I do, right?” Blaise drawls, taking a step forward. Leaning into the solid cold metal of the locker directly in front of Weasley’s.

    There’s a beat of silence. It’s tense, like a wire trap coiled tight. Expectant. “Yeah.”

    “Then you can imagine how…valuable…a list of my customers would be. Past and present.”

    Weasley’s tongue darts out, wetting his lower lip. Blaise’s gut clenches. No. Simmers. “That’s what Malfoy’s got? A list?

    The list,” Blaise corrects.

    “Right. That.”

    Blaise chooses not to speak for a minute—just lets his mouth fall open and his posture relax as he makes a show of inspecting Weasley. Of studying him. “You’ll let me know if you see anything,” Blaise murmurs, flashing a smile he’s surprised to realize he almost means. “Won’t you?”

    Weasley blinks.

    Blaise doesn’t.

    It starts with a secret.

    Blaise has always liked secrets.