so now you must see this and not be able to unsee it either

Flirting With Disaster

A/N: Happy Birthday to @constellunaa! I saw your beautiful drawing of Laxus and Cobra and thought ‘hey what if she actually ships it?’ and then wrote 6.5K of it in hopes that you actually do lmao.

If not, have some hint of nalu bcus I am so sorry

Part of my deaf!Natsu college au bcus I’m a slut for continuing universes! Also shout out to @papalogia for putting up with me yelling about this and for helping with some of the words. Natsu and Cobra are cousins, with Indian!Igneel and his unnamed brother who is Cobra’s dad. 

Also praise @rivendell101 for helping me title it! Apparently I’m useless without my friends :D

College!AU

Pairing: Cobraxus, Nalu, Fairy tail

Words: 6515

Rating: M for language

Part: Oneshot

Laxus wanted to die, and not just because of his pounding headache or the fact that he was in an eight AM lab for fucking chemistry of all things. No, Laxus wanted the sweet embrace of death -or maybe to plead for manslaughter on account of insanity- because of his benchmate.

“Could you please make your stomach make disgusting noises quieter? I’m trying to measure out our chemicals, considering you’re going to be useless today.”

Laxus narrowed his eyes at his labmate, thinking of other uses for the sodium hydroxide solution that was being poured from the erlenmeyer flask to a petri dish.

“Stop looking at me like it’s my fault you decided to do jagerbombs instead of sleeping like a normal human being with an eight AM.”

Laxus scowled. The dude wasn’t even able to see his face, eye on Laxus’ side closed from a nasty looking scar. Laxus felt his own scar over his right eye twinge in sympathy, line thinner than the other boy’s. “How’d you know what I was drinking?” he asked, tongue fuzzy and thick in his mouth and voice rough with disuse. He sounded like his dad, and Laxus wished for another double jager to push back that unwelcome comparison.

“Because you reek of licorice, red bull, and regret.”

Laxus snorted, grinning as he scrawled down the fourth trial’s measurement in his lab notes. “I showered.”

“Don’t feel bad,” the boy drawled, sealing the vacuum box the petri dish now resided in before they turned on the chlorine gas, “it’s a stench that permeates engineering students.”

Laxus frowned, wanting to bite back against the generalization of his major, but flashbacks to the group of twenty somethings doing keg stands and flip cup after their last electrical midterm stopped him. His labmate wasn’t exactly wrong.

But his class had fucking earned going a little wild, especially after the hell that was the four hour midterm of Jose’s quantum nuclear midterm. Laxus was pretty sure that time length wasn’t even allowed by the school board, but seeing as how his grandfather was at a bit of a cold war with the dean, Laxus wasn’t about to say shit.

“Well I’m sure you biology kids know all about the danger of popping illegal prescription pills, don’t you?” he snarked. He had yet to meet one that wasn’t permanently shaking from a near overdose of Adderall, struggling to stay awake to finish making their four hundredth flash card.

“I’m not a biology major,” he said flicking on the highly poisonous gas with the most uncaring expression Laxus has seen on something besides his mirror.

Laxus eyed him critically. “Only biology majors are actually interested in chemistry labs,” he said finally, watching the plastic cube in front of him as the gas reacted with the solution.

“What about chem students?” he asked flatly, switching off the gas lever after the thirty seconds had passed on the stopwatch.

“Those freaks can do this shit in their sleep and try to go and set shit on fire under the fume hoods.” Laxus said just as flatly as his lab partner, focusing on writing down the chemical equations involved in their experiment. “If you aren’t biology then why the hell are you in this lab then?” Laxus asked. He knew why he was there, stupid requirement for his degree saying he need at least a 200 level in each of physics, chem, and bio. Not that Laxus fucking understood why he needed to know how bases and ions reacted to make deadly gases, considering he was going to be an electrical engineer.

Fucking reqs.

Keep reading

Tough Kid

Tough kid, he thinks.

Can’t help but think it. She’s a scrawny little thing, covered in scrapes and bruises and dirt and blood and she’s shaking like a leaf…

But the pistol she’s pointing squarely at his chest is utterly, utterly still.

Around her there are four bodies. Two humans, one man, one woman, and two batarians, both male. The humans lie on their backs their hands carefully laid across their stomachs, their eyes closed, so peaceful that they could almost be sleeping, but for the holes in their heads. By contrast, the batarians appear to have been left where they fell, their bodies twisted, limbs flung out at odd, awkward angles. All eight eyes are open, staring blankly at nothing.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what happened.

“It’s ok,” he says softly, using his best ‘soothing’ voice. “You’re ok now.”

“Who are you?” the girl barks and she’s still shaking, but there’s something hard and fiery in her eyes that both impresses the hell out of him and makes him cautious.

“My name is Commander Anderson,” he says slowly, carefully laying his rifle on the floor. “I’m Alliance, see?” He half turns away from her, tapping the insignia on his shoulder.

Slowly she lowers the pistol.

“You’re too late,” she says, her voice now small and unsure as her eyes flicker unseeing across the four bodies before her.

“I know,” he replies and God, they had been late, too late.  The dead civilians told him that, the swathes of missing civilians told him even more. “But we’re here now, and we’re going to keep you safe.”

She nods but doesn’t meet his eyes and she still looks doubtful. Given what she must have been though recently he can’t exactly blame her for that. 

Keep reading

Hold Me Tight | Jimin X Reader

Ch. 1 | When, Where, What, How 

Rated Mature - implied smut with set up for future chapters 

Originally posted by dazzlingkai

There is a time and a place for everything. Except to Park Jimin who makes you create time and place out of thin air until there’s really no argument to stand on. He’d heard about you from a friend, someone like himself who thought it ought to do him some good to- anyway, this is where it begins.

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

Did you read the article from the director? Tyrion' look at Jon and Dany is him seeing that politically it's a bad idea and being worried He won't be able to sway Dany the most, that Jon will. So nothing sinister and not romantic love either.

“Well I think there’s jealousy, but it’s maybe not romantic jealousy, in the way that it is for Jorah, for example. I think that for Tyrion, it’s more complicated. I think he has a very special relationship with Dany and he really believes in her as a true leader and has invested a lot in her. I think for him, with Jon and Dany getting together, this represents a possible undermining of his position with her and also a monkey wrench thrown into what the master plan really is meant to be around this entire alliance. The way I see it is Tyrion is a bit of a strategist—not just a bit of a strategist, he is a major strategist—and I think now, he can’t see where this is gonna go and that’s very difficult for someone who is always thinking three steps ahead. The consequences of Dany and Jon getting together are completely unknown. Is she gonna make decisions now based on this new relationship? Is she gonna be able to separate her personal [interests] from the interests of the greater group? What is this going to foretell for the alliance and what they’re all meant to do as a united front? So I think the worry for him is that now, everything is up for grabs. We don’t really know who’s going to side with who, what’s gonna happen at the end of the day, and which alliances are going to be the strongest.” (x)

ah yes he has invested a lot in her… politically. He’s jealous but like, strategically, platonically jealous. Of course it has to be more complicated, he’s Tyrion, he only fucks whores, drinks wine and knows things. 

Keep reading

AN ~ so I promise I haven’t abandoned people’s prompts, but I wrote some Post-Framework Fitz-Daisy brotp because I have a LOT OF FEELINGS I had to share. I hope you like it, in a bittersweet angst-hurt-comforty way. title is from Satellite Call by Sara Bareilles which is one of my favourite Fitz-Daisy songs.

Contains: 4x16 spoilers, & some discussion of non/dubcon themes but no depiction of this behaviour. Rated T.

Read on AO3 (~1300wd)

this broken earthly life

This morning, the kitchen was quiet.

The whole base was quiet, but especially the kitchen, where Jemma and Daisy made breakfast for the team and did not speak. Eggs crackled in the pan. The kettle whistled. They found themselves not looking forward to real food nearly as much as they had been last night.

“I’m worried about Fitz,” Jemma confessed, as she filled tea and coffee cups to the brim. “He’s barely said a word since we got back. He’s barely even moved. It was a struggle to get him to have a shower and when he did I’m pretty sure he just stood in the water. I’ve tried talking to him about it, but I think he feels guilty about all this. He felt pretty bad before. Now? I can only imagine. But he won’t talk to me about it. I don’t want to push, if struggling with words will make it worse, but…I’m afraid if I leave it he’s going to sink into some sort of depression.”

Daisy shovelled eggs and sausages onto plates.

“Maybe I could talk to him? Let him know I…forgive him, or whatever, for the whole…torture thing.”

Jemma nodded. “I’m sure that would help.”

She pushed two cups of tea toward Daisy, but didn’t suggest that they bring him breakfast. That, Daisy felt, was a bad sign. She felt a sour taste in her mouth as she walked through the corridors with small but purposeful steps, as reluctant as she was eager to see him.

When she finally reached his door, Daisy braced herself for no more than a second, refusing to let herself lose her nerve. She knocked, and only an indistinct mumble came from the other side, so she pushed slowly into the room.

Keep reading

Thrawn - Story - The Unseen Web

Ras stared at the piece of artwork. He stared really hard. Nothing. There was nothing there. His brother had been chattering on about nonsensical similarities between pieces of artwork for the past hour. He had no idea where the boy was pulling this from. He turned from the flat-sculpt and scowled down at Raw, who’s rapid gestures and quick-fire sentences, directed at a number of pieces around the gallery - none of which looked very similar – were beginning to grate his patience.

Their small, local educational facility had scrapped together the funds to take the students of the town to the Ascendancy’s art museum in Csaplar itself. Ras was fascinated by the city. He’d never been anywhere so spectacular. This many people, all living and working together, ordering their lives toward a common goal, guided by grand principles of order and law, creating such wonderful buildings, establishing the groundwork for the next chapter of history, forming the beating heart of his people’s empire - this was awe-inspiring to him. This city, steeped in glory and honor - what he would give to live here, the seat of Chiss power, contributing to the vitality of the Ascendancy.

“ … and look! That one over there! It’s a different style, but you can tell the same people made it. But it’s so different; maybe they made these at two different times?” 

The majesty of the capital was evidently lost upon his younger brother, who had discovered in the museum a haven in which his idiosyncratic behavior could flourish.

Raw peered intently at the information screens. “Why do they say this one is ‘anonymous’? Does that mean they don’t know who made it? But how could they not know? Just look at it and then at the one back that way.” He pursed his lips and headed back to the other end of the gallery with persistence.

Ras felt his eyes roll involuntarily. “Raw, get back here. We’re already behind the group. My friends are at least two rooms ahead of us, and father told me to not to let you out of my sight.”

“But can’t you see? They’re wrong. I thought the people who made this exhibit were supposed to be experts. Where can I find them? They should know they got it wrong so they can fix it.”

“That’s right; they’re experts. You’re not. New get moving before we lose sight of the group.”

“But just look …”

Ras put a hand on the nape of his brother’s neck and steered him without compromise toward the dwindling student group. 

But then Raw halted and craned his neck out from beneath his older brother’s hand. He was looking up at Ras with that strange, grim gravity that little children possess when they are taking themselves very, very seriously. “I said to look. When you see, you’ll understand why it’s important.”

“I have looked!” Ras’ temper escaped his control and flared out at his brother. “There isn’t anything to see. Do you hear me? Nothing. I don’t know what it is you think you’re looking at, but it isn’t there.”

Raw locked eyes with him. “How can you not see the patterns? They are right there.” A slim finger shot out to direct Ras’ gaze precisely at the flat-sculpt.

“I told you,” Ras snarled, lowering his voice so others in the gallery wouldn’t hear, “you’re claiming to see things that aren’t there. No one else sees them. If other people saw them, they would have fixed the exhibit like you said. So there. You’re imagining things. Now move.”

Raw stared at him a moment longer, then his eyes flickered to the sculpt, then to another painting. When they returned to Ras’ face, the determination had faltered. “Other people say they can’t see either. I just thought you might be different.”

“I’m not the one who’s different.”

Ras regretted the impulsive words as soon as they left his lips.

Raw’s eyes widened momentarily and then slid away. His head dropped and his narrow shoulders drew together in a wilt of defeat.

When Ras begin his brisk strides towards the group, his brother fell into step behind him.

.    .   .

“Are you awake?”

“Unhh … what the …” Ras was caught momentarily in the limbo between dreams and wakefulness as his sluggish body surged with an adrenaline that demanded alertness. “Yeah. Yes. Um. What are you doing in here?”

Red eyes burned at him through the darkness.        

The voice that answered was quiet and small, but oddly taunt. “I was afraid. I’m sorry.”

Ras rubbed at his eyes and passed his fingers over the light sensor, emerging the room into an unobtrusive glow. He looked at his young brother, standing beside the bed, posture folded up in a way not so different from how it had remained the rest of the day at the museum. “What is it? A dream?”

Those red eyes tightened momentarily. “No. I wasn’t asleep. It wasn’t a dream that made me afraid. It was something I thought.”

Oh, here we go again … his brother had a bad habit of thinking more than was good for him, especially at such a young age. There would be plenty of time for thinking later in life, but Raw seemed intent upon getting a head-start. He sighed and let his head fall back against his pillow, gaze locked on the ceiling. “Alright, tell me.”

The silence of hesitation. Then, “I see patterns that other people don’t, right?”

A hiss of a sigh. I thought we were done with this. “Yes.”        

A deeper silence than before.

Softly, “So, if no one else sees them, how do I know they are real?”

“That’s just it. You don’t. You’re imagining things. We all do that when we’re children. You’ve got to grow out of it.”

The voice, indignant, straightens like a reed after the wind has gone, “I Know what imagining is. I know what pretending is. This isn’t those things. This is seeing, the way you are seeing the ceiling right now. It’s real.”

And then the voice bends once more, before a new, powerful gust, “But you said the things I see aren’t real. To me they look just as real as everything else. I don’t invent them. I couldn’t make them go away when I tried. I tried today. They were still there . . .

… if the patterns aren’t real, what if nothing I see is?”

Ras knotted his eyebrows in a frown at the ceiling. “What?”

“If I can’t tell what’s actual and what’s not, maybe everything is just, something that’s not there.”

The frown deepens. “That’s ridiculous.”

“No. It doesn’t make me ridiculous. It makes me frightened.”

“I don’t understand what you’re talking about.”

A very small whisper answers, “Are you real?”

With a wrench Ras sat up and looked at his brother, who was staring at him with wide eyes, fingers wired white-knuckle against the fabric of the sheet, face pulled tight against some kind of rising panic Ras could see working its way up knotted throat muscles towards the jaw and ridged eyelids.

He suppressed the unsettlement in his own gut and tried to sound reassuring. “Of course. Of course I’m real. You’ve known me your whole life. You don’t have to worry about that. Don’t be silly.”

The voice was pinched now, like something raw was clinging inside. “But, I can’t tell the difference between what you say is real and what you say isn’t. So how do I know …” a catch in the throat prohibited further sounds from escaping. A crimson light glinted in the eye, and transformed into a pale blue shard as an eyelid snapped shut against it.

Ras swung his legs over the side of the bed and pulled his brother up beside him.

“Do you know about the mineral spider?”

Raw rubbed his eye. “ . . .um, the what?”

“Mineral spider. It’s a creature that spends its entire life among the glowing rainbow mineral caverns of the equatorial caves, very far from here. It’s blind. But it lives off of the prey it catches in the many-colored webs it weaves of mineral fibers. Scientists have found that these fibers possess values in beautiful color spectrums that we can perceive, and appreciate. But the creatures that create them have no eyes at all. They think they live in darkness, just feeling their way around, but in reality there exists the most spectacular, ordered color all around them.”

“Okay.”

“What I’m trying to say is, maybe, it isn’t so much that you see things that aren’t there;  it’s more like you see things that are there, but which the rest of us are blind to. The colors and webs are a part of reality. But if you tried to tell that to the blind spiders, they wouldn’t believe you.”

Raw was silent and still for a long time, legs hanging from the edge of the bed, hands in his lap, eyes gazing unseeing through his knee-caps.

Finally, “So, you’re real, and the patterns, and everything else are real, just because I see these things? And maybe I see more than you do, but I could never prove that I’m right on your grounds, could I?”

“Well, I guess not.”

“No. If what I see is real, then it must work somehow. Whatever I see, I should be able to trace it back into a reality that everyone else accepts.”

“Umm…”

“The spider knows the web exists when it feels it has caught its prey, even though it never sees the web, it experiences the causal relationship facilitated by the web, between the spider and its prey – it understands that there is a third factor operating in a specific way, in order for its reality to exist as it does, even though it doesn’t perceive the factor, it knows that it necessarily must be.”

“Yes, all right, I see know.”

Raw leaned against Ras’ arm. “’I’m less afraid now. Thank you.”

.    .   .

Thrawn sat in his meditation room, the tangible darkness licking the still air around him.

“You cannot see. But I can. I see your defeat, like many arms surrounding you, in a cold embrace.”

An invisible web. Now, I am the sightless spider. What have I woven? What is this trap of my own making, that others can see but to which I am blind? What are the patterns I cannot perceive? Can I escape my own unseen reality?

My Human Pet, Ch.2 (Jumin X MC fanfic)

Fandom: Mystic Messenger
Rating : M, definitely 
Summary: An AU where Jumin acquires a human replacement for Elizabeth 3rd outside the RFA…you. 
Author’s Notes : I read every comment, reblog, tag, like and private message. Your love for this fic truly moves me! I hope you all enjoy the 2nd chapter just as much :)

Read Chapter 1 

Chapter 2: Becoming a cat

A dragon.

There was no other way to describe Jumin Han that night – a dragon watching over his most precious treasure, his eyes glowing in the night with the fire of obsession like two smoldering obsidians. You could feel them just outside of your dreams, gazing at you with the constancy of the moon; ever there, even when hidden, and the knowledge of it sent you in a blissful sleep.

An average person wouldn’t have understood how you could find so much peace in Jumin’s unseeing stare, but it was precisely his willful blindness that muted your fears. Your physical appearance, that had been despised as “cursed” by your family and that had excited the libidinous ambitions of the Agency, was now your ticket to safety. Women could be discarded; charity cases abandoned; but as long as you submitted to Jumin’s mania – as long as your embraced Elizabeth 3rd’s identity—you were untouchable in the hold of this corporate leviathan.

There was no way you’d ruin this opportunity by a lack of commitment. When dawn finally pierced through the curtains, you were ready to shine in your new role as a cat.

READ THE REST UNDER THE CUT

Keep reading

Isala Arla - Chapter 1

This is the start of a long form multi-chapter Solas x Isii fic. (Not kidding about length - there are roughly 30 chapters in my outline.) I hope to update on a weekly basis - probably Thursdays or Fridays.

You can either follow this fic here on tumblr or over on AO3

Setting: Weeks after Adamant, before leaving for the Arbor Wilds. Set after the fics Simple Pleasures and Some Choice Passages.

***

Emma solas.
Emma ena souveri suledin
Sahlin ar ven ma vir, ma aravel
In Elvhenan
In solas vhen’alas
Arlathvhen
Dar’en isala atisha
Dar’en isala arla.

I am proud
I appear weary but am able to endure.
Now I go down my path, on my journey of great purpose
In the place belonging to our people,
In the proud land of our race,
For the love of the elves.
We are in need of peace.
We are in need of a home.

 -Translated from a Dalish poem of unknown origin

***

It felt much like falling, but with purpose.

There was a boundlessness, a sensation he had not felt in a long time, no longer held to the narrow parameters of weak flesh and petty magic. Movement was effortless, fluid, unrestrained. The Fade bent before him, arcing, twisting, giving way to his will as he walked – no – hunted, stalking with soundless steps.

He was himself again.

His lips curled, teeth gleaming. There was a heady quality to this feeling, slipping back into the familiar skin, letting himself experience his senses how he once used to, heightened and indulgent. He had forgotten what it was like to truly take in scent, to be able to taste the buzzing of the Fade on his tongue.

He felt alive again.

He could hear the voices. They echoed, ringing, distant, familiar. He loped toward the sound, drawn to it, pursued by it. The din formed words, ancient and half-remembered. The song soured in note as he neared, the chorus of voices choking on bitterness, one rising above them. A deep, commanding voice. One he would never forget.

“We are trapped. We are dying. Betrayer.”

A low, guttural hum rumbled in his throat as his eyes narrowed.

“We trusted you. You were our kin.”

“This isn’t real,” Fen’Harel growled. The Fade shifted and changed. A forest now, deep and ancient, jagged shards of mirrored glass embedded in each trunk, hanging from the branches, sputtering shafts of light dancing as they caught the dim beams of the sun. In each reflection he could see the ghostly echo of hands pressing from within, scratching, clawing in desperation with bloodied fingers.

This was a dream. Nothing more. A dream stitched together from memories. He could control this.

Keep reading

It was a heaviness, a tightening, a sickness in his heart that just got worse the closer the date came. He was anxious and unhappy and if he could have come up with a single way for them to stay together he would have taken it in a heartbeat.

“Erwin,” he said, head down, as he continued to fold the contents of their shared wardrobe into a packing box. “Can’t we just ignore it?”

When he was younger, and had never been in love, he’d been relieved to have the clock, the instant knowledge between him and his prospective partners of just how long their relationship would last; two weeks, seven months, three years. He’d entered into every relationship knowing when it would end, and knowing that it would always end at its pinnacle, when eveything was at it’s best. He’d been relieved then that the responsibility for ending a relationship would never be his and that he’d never have to experience a relationship breakdown.

At the age of twenty three, ten years had seemed a long time. At the age of thirty three, he knew just how short it really was.

His question was met with silence and, when he looked up, he found Erwin was staring at him, the look in his eyes switching from pained to stoic and quickly back again. Levi thought if he pushed the point right now that Erwin might just fold, but before he could formulate his next words, Erwin beat him to it.

“We both know how that turns out, darling.” his voice was soft, careful, not wanting to make the situation harder. “We’ve seen how quickly love can turn into hate.” Levi looked back down, putting all his attention into packing away Erwin’s clothes before the removal van arrived.

He knew Erwin was right, they’d seen it happen too many times to their friends, the ones who thought their love was too strong for it to break, but they had all always been wrong. A year, two years, five years after their expiration date had past, things turned bad. The expiry dates were there to ensure nobody had to suffer the heartache of love turning to hate.

“How much time do we have?” Levi murmured.

“Three hours.”

Ten years, and all they had left was three hours.

Three hours to pack everything into the back of a van. Three hours to check that nothing had been forgotten. Three hours before they said goodbye and never saw each other again.

It’s taken them a month to collect Erwin’s things from around the house, they’d both been reluctant, neither of them wanting to admit that the end was coming. It was only as they had started to divide between them the life that they had built together that the dread had started to creep into Levi’s soul, making him permanently cold.

It broke his heart, piece by jagged piece.

The van arrived, the removal men loud and intrusive, an unwelcome distraction from his pain. It was no longer just him and Erwin. It would never again be just him and Erwin.

Levi dumped a box into the back of Erwin’s car and then turned to watch Erwin talking amiably with the removal men. He always made it look so easy. Levi doubted Erwin’d have any problem finding someone new; someone to replace Levi. His own chances of finding anyone else willing to put up with him however, were, by comparison, quite slim.

With the van now packed and on it’s way to Erwin’s new home, there was very little for them to do.

“I love you,” Levi murmured.

That look crossed Erwin’s face again, pain and loss and fear tempered by a terrible resolve that told Levi that no matter what he said Erwin was going to walk out that door and out of his life.

“I love you.” he said again, only this time he couldn’t keep the desperation from seeping into his voice: please don’t leave me.

Erwin took the few steps to join him in the centre to the living room.

“Please darling, don’t.”

He pulled Levi into his chest, strong arms wrapping around him, holding him safe and warm and loved. Levi breathed in deeply, savouring the smell he’d begun to take for granted.

Erwin pulled back and kissed him on the forehead, holding his lips against Levi’s skin for several long breaths.

“I will always love you.” he said, earnestly, and then he was gone out the door and down the steps, into car. “Take care of yourself, Levi.”

He’d never again be Erwin’s darling.

Levi waved him goodbye and closed the door, staring around him with unseeing eyes. Slowly, he folded down to the floor, his back to the front door and his knees snug against his chest. And he stayed that way until Hanji came to force him out of it, her bright, jovial, enthusiasm overshadowing his dark, gloomy, pessimism and making it impossible for him to wallow. On the few occasions he did lock himself away and refuse to come out of his room, she set up camp on the landing outside his door and talked incensently at him until he gave up and came out just to shut her up.

He secretly suspected that Erwin had put her up to it; still trying to look after him from afar.

At first it was easy for him to pretend that Erwin was just on a business trip and that he’d be back in a few weeks, and as long as he avoided looking in the wardrobe at the empty shelves that used to be Erwin’s, and diverted his gaze from the lighter, discoloured squares on the hall wall where their photos had once hung, he managed to keep up the pretense for a while.

When that eventually stopped working, he threw himself into work.

There were a couple of brief dalliances, which was by his design. He wasn’t ready to move on. He wasn’t ready to give up the hope that Erwin would by some twist of fate come back to him. Only those who’s expiry date gave them anything from three weeks to six months stood any kind of chance. There was only one instance where the expiration date gave them odds of sixty seven years, a life time and more, and he had walked away from it, as quickly as possible.

Then the thing he had been dreading more than any other happened. He bumped into Erwin … and his beautiful pregnant wife. She was so large it looked like she could pop at any moment, and she walked with a waddle, clutching onto Erwin’s arm. Erwin himself was also carrying a baby, not yet old enough to walk, strapped to his chest in a papoose. He seemed to glow with happiness, and when he caught sight of Levi, quickly trying to backpeddle out of the coffeeshop, his eyes shone even brighter.

“Levi,” he called. “How wonderful to see you.”

“Yeah, you too.” Levi countered, even though it must have been obvious he was lying through his teeth.

“You look well.”

“Thanks.”

“How have you been?”

“Oh, y'know, fine.”

They stared at each other for a few silent moments before Levi looked down at his feet and ‘the wife’ cleared her throat, obviously in an attempt to prompt Erwin for introductions. As dutiful as ever, he obliged.

‘Marie, darling, this is Levi.“

It stung to hear Erwin call someone else by the name that had once belonged to Levi.

“Oh,” she said brightly. “I’ve heard so much about you. Erwin still follows your career, y'know.”

Levi looked up and caught the faint reddening on Erwin’s cheeks.

“There’s not that much to follow.”

“Nonsense, you’ve really made a name for yourself.” Erwin quipped.

In the four years since they’d been apart, Levi had been picked up by a large designer company, and now had his own range on the highstreet. There was even talk of expanding oversees. In the four years since they’d been apart, Erwin had got married and made a family.

An array of drinks were pushed onto the counter and Marie thanked the barrista.

“It was really nice to meet you, Levi.” she said as she handed Erwin his drink.

“Yeah, you too.” he lied again.

The baby on Erwin’s chest started to wake, gristling and moaning. Marie turned to leave but Erwin stayed a moment longer.

“Maybe you could come around for dinner sometime; you and your partner, of course.”

Levi flinched at the mere idea.

“I’m not seeing anyone.”

“Why not?” Erwin said, aghast. “I find it hard to believe that nobody has been suitable.”

“There could have been someone,” Levi bit out. “But I wasn’t ready.”

“I see.”

Erwin looked like he wanted to say more but at that moment Marie popped her head back in the door: “Erwin, dear, we’re going to be late.” She was stating her claim. Levi could imagine this meeting wasn’t easy for her either.

“I have to go,” Erwin said. “You should really find someone, Levi.”

“I’ll think about it.”

But he didn’t really think about it, instead he moved to Paris. As far away from any possibility of ever bumping into Erwin again. Hanji was an almost permanent visitor, and he’d come to think of the guest room as Hanji’s room. He met someone with an expiration date of four years, and right at that moment four years suited him just fine, after all he wasn’t getting any younger.

He’d expected when the four years were coming to an end, that it’d be amiable spilt, he hasn’t expected the Skype call from Hanji.

“You probably haven’t heard, have you?”

“What is it?”

‘Erwin’s wife, Marie, she died. A collision accident.“ Hanji explained. “I don’t think either of them saw it coming. I mean we all know our relationship expiration but we don’t ever think they’ll end because one of us died, right?”

“No,” Levi agreed. It had been hard to watch Erwin walk away, but he knew it would have been a hundred times worse if he’d watched him die.

“He asked about you,” she continued carefully. “I think maybe he could do with your friendship right now. It might help him.”

The day he caught his flight home, was the exact expiry date of his relationship with Michel, or Mike, as Levi called him. Although, he had a feeling that it wouldn’t be the last time they saw each other. Erwin was in a state. A five year old girl and a four year old boy pulling on him for attention he physically, and emotionally, wasn’t able to give them. When he spotted Levi from across the room, his eyes started to swim with unshed tears.

“I didn’t think you’d come.” he said. “I’m glad you did, but I didn’t you would.”

“It’s OK.” Levi said, reached down to pick up the little girl tugging on Erwin’s trousers. “I want to help.”

“Thank you.” Erwin all but sobbed. “I mean it.”

“I know. It’s OK.”

The little girl introduced herself as Isabel, and her brother as Farlan. And while Erwin went about doing what a grieving spouse does at the wake of his wife, Levi entertained the children, telling them about Paris and the Eiffel tower and the Champs-Élysées, and how everything was all lit up right now for Christmas, and the water in all the fountains was frozen. They listened, although he wasn’t sure how much they actually understood.

Levi spent a lot of time with the kids, taking them to playschool and the park, giving Erwin the space he needed. He eventually set up a home office so that he didn’t have to travel too much, and his next clothing range, the summer season, was exclusively for children, he even managed to convince Erwin to let Isabel and Farlan model the clothes on the catwalk.

Everything settled into an easy pattern. For almost two years.

Then, on the ten year anniversary of their first expiry date, the clock reset. It had been two years since the death to Erwin’s wife and in that time Levi had been a constant fixture in Erwin’s life. He got the kids up at 6.20, as usual for a week day, got them washed, dressed, made their lunch, and had them ready to go for when Erwin came down stairs, reaching for the car keys.

Erwin was usually home by 8.30, and then he’d get himself ready before heading to the office. He’d generally look in on Levi before leaving. Today, when he stepped into the doorway of Levi’s office, Levi was bent over his workbench, sketches for hs latests range spread out in front of him, but he still felt it. The pull, the relax, the clock.

Levi turned around and looked at Erwin, the disbelief on his face. He would have been happy with this life, but the fates had taken it upon themselves to change everything once again. Erwin stepped into the room. His expression was just as incredulous as Levi’s. They stared at each other for a long hard few moments and then Levi put down his stencil and took the few steps towards Erwin.

“Will you have me?” he asked quietly, uncertain, looking up at Erwin with a beating heart.

Erwin pulled him in close, sheltering him in the circle of his arms. Levi breathed in deeply, savouring the smell he’d once taken for granted, and had missed for so long.

“I love you.” Erwin murmured into his hair, sending a shivef of excitement through him. “I didn’t think I could love you more then I did before. But I was wrong. I love you more now because of the way you love my children.”

Levi looked up at him.

“Will you take me back, darling?” Erwin asked.

Levi smiled and snuggled closer into his warmth.

This time they got ninety four years on the clock and at forty three Levi knew that would give them the rest of their lifetimes, and some.

“Yes.” Levi answered without hesitation. “I’ve waited for you for ten years.”

Ten years together. Ten years apart.

The rest of their lives to come.