the ground is burning

“I don’t know what you’re waiting for. Whether you believe that the stars will suddenly align themselves and spell my name out for you to know that I’m the one. You keep waiting for a sign… for some sort of an answer. You keep giving me hope that we could be together, but at the same time you shut down all my dreams of that happening. You never give me a straight response, even after I pour out my heart to you. I want you so badly, but waiting around for your response is burning me to the ground. I’m afraid that by the time you come around, it will be too late.”

— kavithakavithe

An Old Flame (Part One)

Summary: Y/N is a hunter. She always has been, and she knows that she always will be. Headstrong, fierce, and takes no bullshit is the best way to describe her. A case in Ohio leads her to a nest of vampires, but that’s not all. As she’s investigating, she runs into a pain from her past, the one and only Dean Winchester. The man that ruined her, left her to trust no one ever again. When Dean sees her again, he feels like he’s alive again, and he’ll do anything to get her back. Will she fall back into old habits or will she stand her ground?

Pairing: SLOW BURN! Dean x Reader

Word Count: 1,339

Warnings: Angst, Eventual Smut, Violence, Swearing

Forever Tags: @reigns420 @onemorefanblog

SPN Tags: @tacklesackles 

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Alternatively: Earth M-1

The Mirror Earth-1, where the Arrow, aided by The Flash, rose to power across the Gem Cities, ridding them of their petty menaces through brute force.   They’re benevolent dictators: they don’t crusade to burn the world to the ground, just to stop any threats to their world in their tracks.  They have friends, family, past times, a seemingly normal life.  A thriving partnership exists between Oliver Queen, the political dynamo who speaks out against the Arrow, and Barry Allen, the CSI who inexplicably but inevitably rose to power alongside Queen.  Publicly, they’re no more ruthless than your average Wall Street brokers.

Privately, they murder anyone who so much as glances sideways at them, and keep the rest in line with a firm ultimatum: stay low.  They’re not loved; they’re feared.  They’re the two most dangerous criminals the Gem Cities know, vigilantes in the truest sense of the word.  They’re watchful.  They’re alert.  And Barry trips the alarm when he realizes that the League of Assassins has been bribed to kill Oliver Queen.  He tries to persuade Oliver to go underground while they strategize because even he can only run so fast, keep track of so many people, but Oliver refuses, and the League strikes.

But they don’t target the Mayor – they go after his right-hand.  Barry is standing beside Oliver, edgy and sleep-deprived, when he feels the poisoned arrow slice through his back.  He has time to grasp Oliver’s sleeve in surprise before he collapses.  The public is shocked; Oliver is horrified.

Furious and hurting, a still grievously wounded Flash goes on a tirade, and kills more than a few political dissenters, seeking to weed out anyone who might have bribed the League.  The head of the League, a woman in a white suit with a leonine smile, confronts Oliver, and they duke it out in hand-to-hand combat, brandishing anything available to them as a weapon.  It ends when Oliver gets out a distress call to Barry: he breaks the signal jammer clipped to the woman’s belt, an unbeknownst gift from tech genius Ray Palmer.  She vanishes like smoke before Barry arrives. 

Simmering, the vigilantes fall back – easy enough when the public persona of Barry Allen has been grievously injured and Oliver Queen has established an interest in his good health.  For a few days, things are quiet, tense, anarchic, like a storm waiting to break.  Barry doesn’t improve, and Oliver can see their world starting to tremble in place.  Despite Barry’s ferocious insistence that they will rebound and reclaim, burning the League to the ground if they have to, all Oliver can see is the speedster who can’t run anymore and a vigilante without his super-powered shield.

When it becomes clear that Barry is not just grievously but mortally sick, Oliver seeks out any remedy, threatening every person he can for a cure.  The League puts out its own ultimatum: the cure for surrender.  Oliver knows it’s as good as a death sentence, but he goes to the rendezvous site anyway.

But it’s not the League of Assassins that meets him – it’s a group of agents from the DEO, handing out only their initials: H.H., A.D., and J.O.  Their own super captures Oliver before he can fall back, and he’s forced to stand and listen to their claims.  They’ve been monitoring the dual lives of Barry Allen and Oliver Queen for a while now, and they were the ones who bribed the League to take them out once it started getting out of hand.  But, given how power the Allen and Queen relationship is politically and how volatile the underground situation is without Flash and Arrow to reign it in, the DEO wants to strike up an alliance in exchange for a few rules.  Stranded and outnumbered, Oliver has no choice but to comply or die.

Barry is furious after Oliver tells him about the alliance, because it puts his teeth on edge to have another super-powered human – an alien – who knows more about him than he would like.  It goes against their code: they’ve always strangled threats in their cribs.  They don’t wait until they get out of hand.  So he’s wary around “Kara,” refusing to acknowledge her and forcefully shutting down Oliver’s suggestion to attempt a cordial relationship.

Feeling stifled and pent-up, Barry starts quietly trying to break free of the DEO’s hold without visibly rebelling.  In the process, he accidentally bumps into a strange physicist named Harrison Wells.  They sit down for coffee and Barry learns about Wells’ proof of the existence of universes that vibrate concurrently with theirs at different frequencies.  Intrigued, Barry lone-wolfs a recon mission.  The results are spectacular – there are other Earths.  Ones where he can look for days and never find a hint of a DEO.

When he arrives back home, a disapproving Kara is waiting for him.  She takes him in, and the DEO is duly furious with his rogue mission.  They want to rescind their original offer and just let the League take down the vigilantes.  Oliver steps in, but the DEO doesn’t budge.  With things heating up in the criminal underworld, the League bearing down on him, and the DEO threatening to unravel his whole world, Oliver opts to do one better on Bonnie and Clyde: escape alive.

He jail-breaks Barry and they escape to an unknown part of another Earth.  They lie low to evade the DEO’s immediate retaliatory search, and successfully evade recapture.  To their delight, they find that this Earth is basically identical to theirs – the infrastructure is eerily similar, even if it lacks their direct influence. 

That can change.

They bait the DEO with their doppelgangers, insinuate themselves, and pass so well that everyone feels it but no one can quantify what is off until Barry’s in the field and he’s getting pretty pissy with the group because they’re so controlling.  When he stops listening altogether, Kara has to stop him, and Barry snaps.

Simmering in silence, Oliver looks at the Barry he’s chosen as his ally and demands through his teeth: “Do you want to die?”  He forcefully tells Barry to apologize or he’s cutting Barry loose, partnership be damned, and Barry steams but obeys.  The others release and welcome him back to the pack.  But they don’t let him out in the field on his own.

Meanwhile, Our Barry and Oliver are attempting to convince the DEO of another Earth not to kill them for a breach of trust that they didn’t commit.  Things escalate pretty quickly, and it’s only Cisco’s Vibing ability and Cindy’s knowledge of “Mirror” Earths that decodes the bizarre, juxtaposed images. 

Now Legends of Superflarrow have to somehow keep the evil Oliver and Barry on their Earth from learning that they know the truth while simultaneously shutting them down and freeing their Oliver and Barry.

Cue crossover.

anonymous asked:

What do you think about Rip this season, you seemed pretty worried about his character rightly so. According to Phil Klemmer Rip thought he was doing the Legends a favour by letting them go but he clearly was trying to get them to steal the waverider by acting like a asshole. Klemmer also said Rip misses the Legends way of doing things since it's more fun. Arthur's project finished during crossover filming so more Rip 3x09 onwards. Still hoping for timecanary and for Rip to rejoin the team

Wow this got buried in my inbox sorry friend!

I feel like… the Legends’ creative team (producers, writers) are really terrible with consistent characterization cross-seasonally (they’re pretty good within season though?).

So Rip at the start of season 3 felt a bit like whiplash to me. Here’s the man who left the Time Masters and rebelled, who recruited a team of misfits and eventually came to be inspired by each of them, who took down the Time Masters in a “let’s burn this motherfucker to the ground” style move (nice), and eventually handed over the reigns because he truly had faith in them, especially in Sara.

Originally posted by starcitysirens

And then we’re just supposed to accept that the next time we see him, he’s a bureaucrat who basically reassembled and recreated the very thing he rebelled against and destroyed? And it seems like he made it even more strict and stuffy than it was before (and honestly, by how it seems, less competent except for the much better technology).

I just find that to be a very bizarre 180.

Originally posted by supercanaries

And him being an asshole to goad them into action makes some sense, and truly believing in them. I wonder again about that whole concept of Time Drift and how maybe Rip has been outside of Time for too long, and that’s why he’s drifted into this bureaucrat, and reconnecting with the Legends helped recharge his batteries, so to speak?

Originally posted by lotsource

As for how he’s been since then… well he basically hasn’t been around except one episode and I honestly haven’t seen it yet (or any of last week’s except the first 5 minutes). I’ve been too exhausted to stay up and catch Legends after Flash recently (it’s on lateish in my time zone and I’ve been crashing early) and I’m finding it hard to be invested? 

I mean, I’m curious what’s going on with Amaya, and I love Zari a lot, and I’m worried about the Firestorm plot (and love the freaky friday situation even if I only caught 5 minutes of that ep) but I just don’t have any investment yet in the seasonal overarching plot. So staying up and pumped to watch it has been super difficult. Everything they’re doing feels isolated and aimless except for Amaya’s (and by extension, Kuasa’s) plot so far, and maybe that’s changed in the episodes I’ve missed (or maybe I just feel that way because I’m so tired I’m falling asleep in those episodes) but I’ve really gotta catch up. 

(And not only for the time canary scenes!)

Originally posted by jeffersonjaxson

What I can say about that with respect to Rip though, is that it seems to me he needs to be brought in more. I know Arthur’s been busy, but it seems clear that Rip needs to help drive the main plot of this season, that he’s holding on to some of the information, and without him and the tension his new role creates with the team, something currently (or at least where I left of) feels lacking plotwise. Not that they needed Rip to play that role, but since they gave it to him this season, he needs to be back in the plot, I think?

Originally posted by starcitysirens

(Because this feels like it’s pretty-significant, plotwise? Not that I’ve seen it yet, but yeah.)

I do hope and think we’ll see him more after the midseason, though I’m not sure if we’re gonna see him rejoin the team ever? The Waverider is really firmly under Sara’s captain-ship now, y’know? 

(I also wonder about how Gideon feels about Rip not being on the ship anymore tbh but that’s a completely separate thing).

the face that launched a thousand ships to war

People will speak of her name for centuries to come. They will immortalize her—Helen of Troy, they will say. The most beautiful woman in the world. The face that launched a thousand ships to war. Sculptures will be made in her honor and likeness. Songs sung. Paintings made. Poems. Murals. Eulogies. Artists will render masterpieces in her name. Helen of Troy, the beauty that burned an entire city to the ground. Helen of Troy, who brought a million men to their knees. By the time Earth has turned to dust, she will have been the muse of a number greater than the thousand ships she launched.

But before that. Before—when she was not yet Helen of Troy, not yet the most beautiful girl—she was just Helen. Helen of Sparta, the land of her blood and bones. Her birthright, her throne. Troy was nothing to her then, just a blip in her horizon, one among the many city-states. Sparta was her home, her holy ground. People will call Helen beautiful her whole life, and even longer in her death—that is her fate, to be beautiful all our days. But before she was crowned best, before she lit a city up in smoke, there was this: Sparta glorious under the morning sun, the hills behind their palace sprawling acres and acres of green. The trees made music with the wind. All around her in the streets, people buzzed in a blur of culture and noise.

Even long after her body has decayed in the dirt, historians and poets will debate her love for Paris. They will say it was true. They will say she was abducted, raped. No one will speak a word of how Helen loved to walk barefoot in the garden of her Spartan home in the afternoons, soaking in the noise of her city. No one will know of how she listened to the crunch of Troy grass under her feet that first year and her heart broke, just a little. They will say she was a woman loved—and that too is true. Men will fight battles for her honor. But no one, not one, during the years following her death, will talk about all the things she loved and lost in the war they say she started. Only that Paris had loved her, and maybe she had loved him back.

But Helen had not always known Paris. Before him—before, again, for Helen had always been something more even before the war that will enshrine her name—she was a young girl. Beautiful even then, as all girls are, but young still. Her hair was a bright cloud around her pretty face as she wrestled with her brothers. Pollux and Castor would teach her to hunt with them, Clytemnestra following at their side. Under the canopy of the wide forest, they looked almost the same. Same wild tumbles of hair, same doe eyes, same olive skin. Helen was smaller than the rest, rounder, darker. Clytemnestra was the tallest, back before the awkward lines of her gave way to grace. Pollux and Castor, whose legends would be writ in stars, were identical except for a birthmark on Castor’s right cheekbone.

Before, Helen was not of Troy. Clytemnestra always said she didn’t want to wrestle with them because she feared it would hurt, but Helen knew she didn’t mean for herself. Pollux would always sleep after Castor did, to make sure his twin was resting soundly. Castor would let Clytemnestra ride on his back when she got tired from their walks. Helen loved their walks. Clytemnestra hated Helen, sometimes, because people would always look at her and weigh them together. Helen didn’t like the way Clytemnestra already walked like a queen without even trying. They always fought for their mother’s affection, and somehow Castor would always gain her favor. Pollux resented it, and sometimes they fought—loudly, and with swords—but they’d end up rolling in the grass anyway, laughing, Clytemnestra protesting at their heels. Helen knew all this and she loved them.

For years to come, people will look at Helen and call her beautiful. Her tanned skin was kind on the eyes and even softer to the touch. Her eyes were the clearest brown, warm, inviting. There was a brightness about her when she laughed, loud, everyone around her seeming to hold their breath to watch. This is not a story of how Helen had not always been beautiful—because she was, always, even in death. This is a story of how beauty was not all she was, but people always forgot.

The day a wild swan wandered over the hedges of their palace while young Helen was picking flowers in their meadow, Leda had rushed to her side and clutched her close, carrying her away in terrified silence. Helen had pestered her mother all the way up to her bedchamber, but Leda had not answered, her eyes wide with that same paranoid look. Helen will remember this, years later, when a hero named Theseus comes into her room at night and steals her away. The scream curdling at the bottom of her throat would die there, silenced by the same fear that seized Leda.

Theseus kept talking about being entitled to her, that he deserved her, beautiful and divine that she was, because he too was like her. She would hear him whisper to the night that she was his prize, and the word had seared itself on to her skin like a curse. Pollux and Castor would come eventually, spitting mad, to take her home. They give her a woman she will call her servant, and a part of Helen will twist in satisfaction as this once-queen brushes her hair in the morning, her hands shaking, scared to pluck even a strand out of place.

When Agamemnon and his brother, Menelaus, come to seek refuge in Sparta, Tyndareus gives them a house in the smaller settlements. He could not let them see Helen, for Helen’s abduction had scared Leda beyond belief. She had refused to allow would-be kings to litter her lovely daughter’s presence in her fear that they, too, would feel entitled to have her. But they had made an impression on the King, and that was something.

Helen was worlds older when Tyndareus says she must marry. Clytemnestra was already queen of a city called Pisa with a husband whose name was cursed. Her mother, Leda, who had always been queen in Helen’s eyes—she had thought, once, that her mother was born as she is—was loved by the people for it. Leda would walk the markets of Sparta and people would part to let her through, watching. She imagined that that was what Clytemnestra must have felt, and hungered for it.

“Will I be queen?” Helen had asked her father, the King. Behind him, the windows opened up to offer a view of Sparta, ripe for the taking. Clytemnestra already walked taller every day, but she was still just Helen of the beautiful face. He had looked at her without flinching, so she continued, braver. “If I marry, I can be queen?”

“If you marry right,” he told her, and the corners of his mouth had curled up at her ambition.

“If I marry,” she had echoed, certain.

The next few days, princes and nobles and kings would drop gifts at her feet. They have heard of her beauty from the whispers and shouts of ragged travelers. No woman was as beautiful as the princess of Sparta, daughter of Tyndareus and Leda. They came for her from every corner of the world and were not the least bit disappointed. Helen was beautiful—more than that, she looked alive. Vibrant. The pink of her cheeks bloomed each time she received a compliment, and her lips were a permanent wine red against the bared whites of her teeth.

Their visits gave Helen a picture of what the world was like outside her Sparta. Across the oceans was a stretch of sand, melting hot in the afternoon but freezing in the night. There were lands who knew not of winter at all, only the seasons of sun and rain. There were animals she didn’t know, fruits she had yet to taste. The thought of it excited her, but she liked the way her suitors looked at her more. Liked the way they told her these stories to impress her, the way their brows would raise in earnest if she listened. Helen basked in the way each man in the room straightened when she entered, puffing their chest out, hoping to impress.

This would go on for weeks. Tyndareus could not decide, fearful of how the rejection might affect the fragile state of his guests. Helen was too busy to choose, too happy with the attention. So when Odysseus, one of Helen’s Achaean suitors, drew him aside with a plan, Tyndareus listened.

The contest for her hand infuriated Castor and Pollux, who had joined just to make her suitors miserable. Odysseus had already sailed away to her cousin Penelope with Tyndareus’ aid, forgotten. Helen had sat at the front of it all, watching the contest in amusement. Men would fight battles for her all their lives, but Helen did not know that yet. They would die trying to keep her, die trying to take her back. Helen did not know that, and perhaps in a better world she never did—but in this world, the contest was just a game.

But it was not just a game. That night, Tyndareus had gathered her suitors around his table and made them swore that they would defend whoever the winner might be, no matter the enemy, no matter the cost. Helen was fast asleep in her chamber when they all raised their voices in assent. In Olympus, Zeus saw this and wondered.

He chose Agamemnon as the winner, in the end. When presented to Helen, she had frowned. Agamemnon was years older, all muscle and anger and arrogance wrapped up in fair skin and the harshest scowl. He circled around her as she stood unshaking before he laughed, the sound booming across the room like a war cry.

“My brother will like you,” he had announced then, eyes shining.

“Excuse me?” She had replied. Tyndareus had raised his eyebrows behind her.

“Menelaus sent me to champion him,” Agamemnon answered. “He will come soon.”

Tyndareus did not like that particular surprise. Helen didn’t either. She did not think she liked a man who sent his brothers to court a woman’s hand in his place. Agamemnon, however, did not care. He didn’t want her—which Helen would resent if not for the fact that he was a brute, plain and simple. Her father had bustled around, trying to figure out what he could do for Agamemnon now that he didn’t have Helen to offer.

The answer would come to him a few days later, when Agamemnon corners him and Helen as they are walking in the garden, discussing Menelaus’ arrival.

“Who is she?” He will demand. “That woman here, the tall one. Who is she?”

And Tyndareus will answer, “My daughter, Clytemnestra. Here for her sister’s wedding. Why?”

Helen would narrow her eyes but Tyndareus won’t mind the way Agamemnon’s eyes will spark with interest. Later, Agamemnon would murder Tantalus, king of Pisa. Later, Clytemnestra would sit next to Agamemnon as they ate so that when the time came for Tyndareus to announce their impending marriage, Clytemnestra could give a tight lipped smile while Agamemnon placed a triumphant hand on hers. Helen would sit through all this and feel betrayed—for her sister and for herself. Here Helen was, barely queen of anything, and her sister would already be queen twice over, with double the people to know her and love her. But she knew Clytemnestra and she knew Agamemnon would not make her happy. No man could.

Menelaus will come to her on a white horse. And that will be her first thought of him—that the plumes on his helmet looked too bright a red to be anything other than new and that he had come, funnily enough, on a white horse. His robes shined in the light. Helen will look at his entourage as he approached their palace with Clytemnestra, who had not yet been betrothed again, and watch her lord husband gallop through the gates like he already owned Sparta. And maybe in his mind, he did, after living there for so long.

“He seems… handsome,” Clytemnestra had offered, skeptical at this distance. Helen had laughed.

“Better than Agamemnon, at least,” she said instead. Clytemnestra did not answer and, during the years after, Helen would wonder if Clytemnestra knew, even then, that she will be Queen of Argos. “Come, sister. Let us greet my lord husband.”

Helen was the most beautiful woman, but Menelaus was not stricken at the first glance of her. Somehow, that did not sit well with Helen. It would take her months to realize that she’d thought her husband would look more—in love at the sight of her, so in love with her already that he’d stop in his tracks just to look. Menelaus smiled when she stood to face him, but if he was truly happy to see her he did not show it. He had an appraising look throughout their first meeting and he too surveyed her like his brother, weighing. He did not try to impress her. When he reached out a hand to take hers, he did not ask. Menelaus raised her knuckles to his face and planted his lips on her as if he already owned her.

Sometimes, if Helen awoke alone at night, she still heard Theseus mutter proudly: a prize, a prize, a prize. She will look at herself in the looking glass in the morning and decide she is more than that.

Helen becomes Queen of Sparta when her parents abdicate the throne to her and Menelaus. She would not become Helen of Troy until years later, when an apple for the fairest falls in the middle of a banquet. Helen is Queen of Sparta and she loves it, soaks in it, is so happy at thought of it sometimes she can’t speak. The first thing her husband does is help his brother get the throne of Argos. Helen deals with the people of her kingdom, filling herself with their love, and walks the halls of her childhood home, a crown on her head. If anyone had asked her—the romantics, philosophers, historians—if any one of them had asked Helen what she preferred, this or a burning city at her feet, Helen wouldn’t have to think twice.

Her marriage with Menelaus was a public success, to say the least. Two beautiful, powerful mortals together above a flourishing city. Her lord husband did not make her want for a thing—Menelaus tried his best to give her all the luxuries in the world, as Tyndareus expected of him. And if at times he raised his voice or a hand at her, well. Helen grew up in the underbelly of Sparta, the most glorious warrior state in Greece. Clytemnestra hid an axe under her robes from the legacy of her late husband and she knew how to use it—this woman, too, Helen knew from birth. She accepted Menelaus’ lukewarm kisses and sat through his soft embrace, as any dutiful wife would. But the problem was not that Menelaus couldn’t love her: it was just that he did, and Helen didn’t want it.

The most beautiful woman, and she was stuck with a husband who loved his throne more than her. The most beautiful woman, and she had to lay there in the night as Menelaus took what he thought was his—without any consideration for what she felt. The most beautiful woman, and her marriage was duty. The most beautiful woman, and she had never felt emptier.

So when a handsome Trojan diplomat comes strolling in one morning, stars in his eyes and only for her, Helen stirs. People will write songs about them: Helen and Paris, whose love had made an armada bleed. They will say that the two were blessed, meant to be, that their love had defied all and would have survived all. But when Helen first sees Paris, she does not think of his pretty face: only that there was a leaf stuck through one of his yellow curls. His grin was so stupid at the sight of her she was breathless with it. He had stopped in his tracks to look.

But that is not enough to warrant a war. So how about this, then? When Paris asks her if he could hold her hand, Helen feels so gratified she agrees. He always asked when he wanted to do something with her that first few months. He looked so earnest, like a pup wagging its tail at her, that it made Helen smile even when he wasn’t around.

This—his star eyes, her consent—this would be the thought that Helen keeps tethered to her heart years later, as Troy is burning below her. Paris had sought her approval. He took the liberty to know her better than Theseus or Menelaus or the rest of the Danaan kings trailing at her feet. She would look down at the blood and smoke and think through the guilt, I deserved better.

When he asks her to kiss him, she thinks she might be in love with him. Paris holds her like his life depends on the way their skin comes together. And Helen embraces him: his love, the pin-prick dimple on his cheek, the freckles spattered across the dip of his back. She likes the way Paris stops when she enters the room, how the world falls away when he sees her.

When he asks her again, “Come to Troy with me?” Helen takes his hand. She only lets go when they’re a day away, and morning has turned to night again. She is too immersed in him and the adventure to mourn the loss of the only home she’s ever known. No one, especially Helen of Sparta, knew then that this one decision would be marked in history as the start of a great war.

She stands on that ship with Paris at her back, holding her close to him, and remembers all her suitors’ stories about the expanse of the world. Not once did she think of Sparta and her people when she ran into the night with her lover: only that she was finally alive again. Only that this was what she meant when she said she would be Queen. She imagines visiting the world with Paris—the heat of the deserts, the monsoons, the different fruits. She thinks she could be happy with him, loved as she was by this boy who was much too young, much too soft to be a warrior.

And the thing is—Aphrodite had everything and nothing to do with it. There will be those who will say that she had bewitched Helen to give to Paris, that it was her magic that ensnared the most beautiful woman in the world so much that she ran away with not a thought. Paris was only lucky, blessed. But the only thing the goddess of love had to do for her plan to work was urge Paris to present himself to Helen. She needed no spells, no glamour, no divine intervention. Aphrodite knew that Helen always had this hunger inside of her—this burning want.

Paris introduces her to his family when they arrive—King Priam of the fine ash spear and his wife, Hecuba. He had other siblings, too many to name but familiar to the eye because they all had the same curling hair. The oldest of them all, older even than Paris, was a man named Hector. He did not speak when he saw Helen, just stared Paris down with that serious face till he turned on his heel and vanished to other rooms.

“Don’t mind him,” Paris tells her when she expresses concern over Hector’s dislike of her. “He’s like that with everyone else.”

But Hector was not, so Helen must’ve been everyone else. The hard lines of his face only appeared whenever he was in her presence, or especially Paris’. And he was everything soft and kind when it came to his wife, Andromache. Helen had seen this and ached.

One night, she decided to wander the halls of Priam’s palace, trying to remember her own. She had wondered what Menelaus’ wrath looked like when he saw her bed empty in the morning, the heated concern bubbling in Pollux and Castor when they found out, if Clytemnestra had denied that Helen had run away because Clytemnestra knew her sister, knew that Helen loved Sparta too much to leave it, knew that she wasn’t so stupid as to elope with a boy she barely met, you have to believe me—Helen tried to imagine the look that settled on Clytemnestra’s face when she realized the truth.

That night, she heard Hector and Paris arguing about her.

“She must leave you,” Hector had been saying. Helen had hid behind a shadowed corner, heart caught in her throat. “Sparta will come looking for her. Her beauty is famous. Helen is their queen, Paris. You eloped with a Spartan queen!”

“She is mine,” Paris insisted, the first time Helen sees that he was not just his soft hands and his afire love. The glint in his eyes was steel, and she almost did not recognize him. “And she loves me! I promise, Hector. Don’t make her go back. I love her. I’ll protect her.”

Hector had run a frustrated hand through his hair and Helen was struck by the brothers’ resemblance. “Cassandra—I went to her tower the other day, and Cassandra says Troy will burn.”

Paris had laughed, harsh and mocking. “Then you will be the first to believe a thing our mad sister says!”

There was a silence, stunned. And then Hector was shouting, “I don’t believe for a minute that her visions are true—but Paris, she is not wrong! It doesn’t take a prophet to see that Helen will bring trouble to our city gates!”

“Enough, Hector!” Paris had turned away from his brother, and Helen had folded herself further into the shadows. “I will not give her up.”

“Then you should be ashamed, Paris.” Hector had sounded both disappointed and enraged.

Paris had shook his beautiful blond curls, the same ones Helen would run through her hands before he slept. Her fingers had itched then, disgusted. “But I am not.” And Helen had felt ashamed for him.

It had seemed like the end of it, so Helen had started walking back to her bedchamber. But before she could, before Helen could retreat to the safety of her bed and ignorance, she heard Hector tell the boy she left her world for—“You only say that because Aphrodite promised her to you after a stupid contest!”

And suddenly, she was with Theseus’ mother again, being groomed to be child-wife to a man grown. Helen had tried to forget—she loved Paris in a way she never could Menelaus, in the way she might never love a man again, a love without ghosts, the first of many. But every time he held her after that, she was Aphrodite’s prize to him and nothing more. She could not ask Paris how that was so, for asking would mean explaining to him that she had been wandering his home alone, at night, and she could not tell him she missed Sparta. Paris would not have understood—to him, Sparta was Agamemnon as a city-state: a hulking, angry brute. Seeing that Paris did not understand would’ve made her feel more alone, would’ve made her realize that she alone in Troy knew Sparta like a mother knew her child. Helen felt the loss of her child in her bones, and it weighed her down like no other.

In this story, Paris breaks her heart. Helen will not admit it to herself and later, when people write about her life, they will not consider the possibility of this. They will say Helen never loved him, that she was distant during the war because she thought little of him. They will say it was never true, that it was a deal between them, that it was her plan. They want a story where Helen is empowered, and who can blame them? A war rages because of the egos of men, and they say it is because of a woman. They have given her no agency—for centuries, the most beautiful woman in the world has been an object, a figurehead for sexual desire. They gave her no wants, no hopes, no dreams. So how about this? In this story, her only mistake is that she loved, as most do. It is the most human thing in the world, and hardly enough to deserve the violence attached to her name.

When she found out that Paris only met her because she was his reward, she clutched the covers of her bed, Paris’ warm body sleeping next to her, and cried herself to sleep. Helen of Troy is an influential figure—the mother of a million deaths, bride to carnage, queen of blood and smoke. She will be fearsome, reveled. They will say she is a daughter of mighty Zeus and that power lived in her bones—and she is his daughter, sure, but then her relation to this man—god—hardly matters. In this story, Helen is just a girl who wants to be loved as she is. Loved and free, as she was when she was young, and her siblings had hunted beside her. Just a girl, as she was before Theseus took her.

And Theseus had held her like she was a prize. Menelaus had held her like she was a prize. Paris, after losing to Menelaus, would hold her like she was a prize until their separation. But when Hector comes into her room one night to tell her that her husband’s arrived with a thousand ships to take her home, and that Troy—under Paris’ command—refused, he had held her just as she was. Not a face but a body: blood and bones and nerves and hair and sweat and sinew. Hector did not understand. She can feel it in the way his silence stretched through her sobbing. But he let her cry in his arms till she fell asleep.

It was meant as a comfort—and she had been grateful—but even Hector, who looked at her and saw just a girl, could not understand her. The thought had made her lonelier than she ever was. When he dies, her only friend in Troy, the only one who bothered to be gentle with her plight, she kneels before the gods and mourns the loss of him.

And isn’t that tragic? The most beautiful woman in the world, and she is not truly loved by the people who have her. The face that launched a thousand ships, and people don’t know her enough to understand her sorrow. Helen of Troy, Helen of Sparta, daughter of Zeus, Paris’ lover, Menelaus’ queen—she is all of this, but never just herself. She is a face and nothing more. Her grievances, her loves—nothing. They had not even asked her. Her beauty will be the stuff of songs, but no one will tell tales of her hurt.

“Paris,” she had whispered to the night once, as the Achaeans gathered at Troy’s gates, her breath warm against his bare back. “I want to go home.”

She had said it with such longing that Paris turned to look. “But why?” Paris had asked, and the fact that he had to stole the words from her tongue. When she did not answer, Paris placed a hand on her arm and she flinched, but he didn’t see. “I love you.” He had said it like a plea and Helen never wanted it, never wanted the kind of love you felt trapped in, the kind of love that you begged for, the kind of love that set cities on fire.

They will remember her beauty and how it sparked the match that made war catch fire in Troy. They will remember this, but not the way King Priam had looked at her and said: it is not you I blame, but the gods. They will call her beautiful and build a legacy for her face, but only some will remember how she had looked at this man in supplication, and then relief—it is not you I blame, but the gods. And isn’t that sad? All her life, and even in her death: people will say that she was the root of it all. Only this old man, who will lose to a war they say she started, could look at her and say no, you are not the cause. This war, this blood—they have never been from your hands.

The Achaeans will lay siege to Troy for ten years—can you imagine? Helen was trapped inside the walls of a city-state not her own as her people fought for her release. Or were her people fighting for her stay? Was she Helen of Troy, or Queen of Sparta? Were these walls hers now, after its people had bled for her? What was she—how much of a monster could she be, letting these people fight for her?

Paris will take her to the sound of people dying, and she will close her eyes to the world. She’d try to imagine, even after all these years, the lands from her suitors’ stories. Sometimes she thinks to herself, if she had left—if she had only left, if she had went with one of her foreign admirers and never looked back, if she had—

But Helen can never finish the thought.

When the Achaeans come, Clytemnestra is not among them with her axe. Helen had not expected her to be. But she hears not a word of even Castor and Pollux—her beautiful brothers, who had wrestled with her and taught her the feel of a sword in her hand, a bow, a spear. Helen had not known before then how thoroughly her heart would break at the realization that perhaps even her brothers, who had loved her and who she had loved in turn, would fault her for the chaos.

The Achaeans will lay siege to Troy for ten years—and not once, in that long war, does anyone tell her that Castor and Pollux were already one with the life giving earth back home. Helen will keep this heartbreak in her breastbone for years and she will carry the weight of it—of her mistake, for even longer. She had not been to her brothers’ funeral. When she comes back to Sparta after the war, Queen again of this city who once loved her, she will stand across their burial mound and cut her beautiful hair to lay beside the dirt.

But the story was never hers—it was great Achilles’, whose wrath would end the bloodshed, it was Paris’, who took her, it was Menelaus’, who came for her, and Hector’s, who would die for Troy. People will know these men and sympathize with their plight, but not Helen. Helen will be the cause of a million deaths, and she will forever be of Troy, the hallmark of her greatest mistake, her greatest sorrow. Men will fight for her all their lives—and she had never asked for it. She never wanted it. When Paris dies, she is given to his brother, Deiphobus, who proves himself worthier in battle than Helenus. They do not ask her—what do you want? Do you want to go home? She is Helen of Troy, the prize of a thousand ships, of a dozen heroes. They will not let her be anything else.

And she has been tired. She is tired. She will always be tired. When that final battle comes and Menelaus is stood before her, ready to kill her, she is as her name says: the most beautiful woman in the world. She does not bare her breasts to him, she does not cower under his sword. The stories are wrong. She tilts her head up, dares him to kill her—it will be a blessing for her, surely—and she is far lovelier than anything on this earth. Her face is splattered with soot and blood and embers are glowing around her, lighting her dark skin, her dark eyes. She is queen of blood and smoke, bride to carnage, mother of a million deaths. This battleground is the kingdom she never wanted, and she would gladly die with it.

“Kill me, then,” she tells him under the screams, her people. “And let this war be done with.”

In a better world, the war never happens. In a better world than this, Menelaus kills her and lets her rest. But the world has never been better, and it will not be for pretty girls with power to their names, so when she says so Menelaus sees the despair in her eyes and lowers his weapon. “No,” he says. “That will be too easy.”

Helen of Troy will go back to Sparta, to the sprawling green behind its palace and to the noise of its people. They will look at her, parting to let her though—and in their eyes she will see the demand for the return of their sons, their husbands, of the ten years wasted fighting her war. Clytemnestra does not come to visit her. It is only later, again, that she hears of her sister’s plot—that she had killed Agamemnon with her lover—and that her son had sought revenge. When the news is relayed to her, she visits their old hunting grounds and closes her eyes.

During the years of her war, she had closed her eyes and thought of other places, places untouched by her beauty and carnage, places she had yet to visit, where no one knew her and she had yet to kill a soul. She hadn’t allowed herself to think of the only place in the world she would rather have been. She did not deserve to.

But here? Now? Under a clear sky and alone, her war still setting angry whispers at her heels, her whole family dead? Helen shuts her eyes and tries to imagine wrestling with her brothers under the same old canopy of leaves, Clytemnestra hunting beside her. She does not cry. The trees made dirges with the wind.

In this story, all Helen ever really wanted was to be loved. And when she finally gets to go back to the place she treasures above all, she is scorned and alone. The war does not end for Helen—how can it, when the people do not let her forget? The city’s people, and even the generations that come after, will render her image in blood. She will be queen again, and a mother finally, but people will always remember her first children: fire and blood. Never mind the men who decided it, never mind that she had not asked for it. No one ever does.

People will speak of her name for centuries to come—that is true. They will speak it in classrooms, in museums, in lovers’ promises. She will be art. She is Helen of Troy, because she cannot be anyone else. And isn’t that telling? The most beautiful woman in the world, and she is a tragedy.

nancy wheeler: *loses her best friend when she’s murdered by a bloodthirsty monster and feels immense guilt about it because she truly believes it’s her fault*

nancy wheeler: *reacts somewhat emotionally because she can’t even tell her best friend’s parents what happened and they’re SELLING THEIR HOUSE to try to find their daughter because of their false hope*

nancy wheeler: *has a hard time feeling deeply connected with her loving boyfriend, not because of any fault of his, but because she’s SIXTEEN, and she’s dealing with A Lot Of Shit*

nancy wheeler: *naturally gravitates towards Jonathan who understands a similar sort of loss and stood by her side while they were trying to hunt the monster that took her best friend (and his brother)*

nancy wheeler: *handles her emotion with anger and focus on a cause instead of dealing with it head on because she is a T E E N A G E R and would rather burn Hawkins Lab to the ground by exposing them to the world than work through her complicated loss*

everyone on the internet: omg nancy has no depth she’s such a BITCH she’s just toying with the boys emotion and playing them!

Listen, I get it, life is hard and you’re dealing with some shit, but could you not tag my posts as “neurotypicals be like” when I talk about trying to remain positive in a world gone mad with apathy and suffering.

When I say I believe in taking light into dark places, I’m not talking soft pastel aesthetics and salt rock lamps. I’m talking burning this shit to the ground, I’m talking about rising up swinging against those who would put you down.

My hope does not negate my rage or despair. And it sure as shit does not negate my mental and physical illnesses either. 

I am hopeful, despite and perhaps even possibly out of spite, because I refuse to surrender my belief that we can do better. That we will do better. When you give that up, they’ve already won. And I’ll die kicking and screaming all the way before I let that happen. Neurodivergency and all.

And if you’re the edgelord off there in the corner talking about how hope is dead and the human species doesn’t deserve to survive? What the fuck are you doing to try and help fix that? This shit is your responsibility too. Fucking rise to it.

Media sometimes uses a snarky butler as a sign of a weak or ineffectual employer, but man, if I had that kind of money, I’d pay extra for a butler who was quick-witted enough to just burn me to the ground at a moment’s notice.

Trump signing an executive order to torpedo Obamacare, tweeting threats that he’ll pull FEMA out of Puerto Rico, no action on California burning to the ground, Rose McGowan kicked off twitter for being mean to Ben Affleck, and a women’s march picks Bernie Sanders as their leader. This is a peak 2017 day.