the radicals arms

Nino Appreciation Week Day 1: Film

Headcanon: Nino decides to study filmmaking at university and often wonders why he still keeps trying to use his friends for his movies since they obviously don’t understand that only the director gets to say “cut”.

Also I just wanted a reason to draw an angry but somehow still fluffy Nino.

2

So like, Sabin has always been That™ dude for me but never really thought of drawing him before till @prettiestlttleliar got into playing FF6 because of yours truly so here’s Sabin as I always head cannoned him,

Without the pony tail

Transparent for your viewing pleasure as well!

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BCM Gunfighter History : Travis Haley

An Exercise in Compromise

Hanging in my office, is a clone of the rifle I carried on two combat tours(Iraq and Liberia). It’s a reminder of where I came from, where I stand today, where I am going and why I am going there.

While serving in 2nd Force Reconnaissance in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, my unit started seeing radical advances in small arms and light weaponry via the SOPMOD program. Suddenly, carbines could quickly be fine tuned for specific missions by mounting night vision systems, laser aiming devices, weapon lights and red dot optics to the 1913 Picatinny Rail Systems on the upper receiver and handguard.

These technologies opened up whole new tactics, techniques and procedures that could be employed to prosecute our mission of specialized reconnaissance, ambush and direct action raids.

Despite the additional capabilities the SOPMOD program delivered, opinions were sharply divided on the program. Some saw these tools as a burden, adding a lot of “crap” that would only increase the amount of weight our Marines carried on mission for little tangible benefit. A maxed out M4 could run up to 14 pounds, but we didn’t need every component for every mission.

TWO POUNDS OF METAL

The SOPMOD accessory package that my platoon ended up running included almost two pounds of weight in mounting interfaces alone. When I challenged this, I got a typical Marine Corps answer, “Because that’s what you are issued, now quit asking irrelevant questions Too Speed.” (Too Speed was my call sign)

I couldn’t accept that answer. It was an institutional answer that repeated a party line and the lives of my teammates were, and will always be, more important than not rocking the boat.

After some trial and error, the first mod I made was to ditch the Surefire M951 Weapon Light and replace it with a Surefire 6P in a shotgun tube light mount that I scored at a sporting goods shop near base. After swapping the 6P tail cap for the M951 remote switch assembly, I then ran the tape switch on the left side of the 203 so activating the light wouldn’t impact my weapons manipulation.

Getting a weapon light in tight with a rail and shaving weight off the interface was something I would spend the next 10 years fiddling with before I had a eureka moment and Haley Strategic Partners released the Thorntail Adaptive Series of light mounts, currently in use by military, security contractors and law enforcement worldwide.

This time was a defining moment for me, as it was when I first started tweaking and eventually building original components for my platoon based on the unique requirements of our missions. These experiences of shaving weight, improving ergonomics and finding a balance between capability and utility, would drive the development of so many of the components I have commercialized in my post-service career.

THE RIFLE I TOOK TO WAR

Colt M4 with 14.5” Barrel
Colt M203 40 mm Grenade Launcher
Knights Armament RAS Handguard
PEQ-2 IR Aiming Laser
Surefire Classic 6P with a custom “Simply Dynamic” mount
Boone & Packer Redi-Mag
Simply Dynamic Multi-Mission Sling (commercialized by Magpul as the MS3)

LOAD OUT

Prior to the invasion of Iraq, Force was trained up for both Green Side(reconnaissance) and Black Side(direct action) missions, with the assumption we would be tasked to one or the other. However, when we entered Iraq, our platoon found ourselves doing a combination of both at the same time. Force Recon is a special operations unit that prepares the battlespace and gathers intelligence for the MAGTF(Marine Air Ground Task Force) and then prosecutes specialized targets as directed.  

With a few days under our belts, the entire platoon started striping gear and mags, looking for that perfect balance of speed, utility and capability. If you can’t move, you can’t be effective. Most of the Marines went from 13 rifle magazines to between five or six. I ended up with four on my vest and two taped together on my carbine with riggers tape and offset with a stick.

Force Recon ran low signature loads outs, often working out of vehicles(mil and civilian), and running a double mag on the carbine meant I had 60 rounds at the ready. When I saw the “Redi-Mag” in a copy of Shotgun News, I ordered it and had it delivered to me overseas. Despite the weight, the Redi-Mag was more versatile than the old riggers tape and stick, and cut my carbine reloads to sub one second.

I no longer run a Redi-Mag because there are so many excellent belt mounted magazine pouches available today, that I can reload at almost the exact speed as from a Redi-Mag. That said, you will sometimes find them on my house and car guns, as I do not expect to be kitting up if someone breaks into my house or I find myself engaged with an active shooter around vehicles in the streets.

M203

The M203 is a vital component to small and agile units, like Force, who operate in small units in semi and non-permissive settings. It becomes even more essential in worst case scenarios where the mission is compromised or the unit is outright ambushed by an enemy force.

We prepared for scenarios where 203s could be employed for a hasty breach, in instances where a short count/stack was not possible. Also, as a posturing tool to achieve immediate fire superiority in the face of an ambush. Finally, we practiced employing them to suppress fortified enemy positions in buildings by putting accurate fire through windows or open doors.

In fact, in the first gunfight I was involved in during OIF, I put this into practice, pumping 40mm HEDP(High Explosive Dual Purpose) rounds through windows of enemy positions 50 meters out. This fire created instant hate and discontent on target, where crew served weapons and M4s did not offer as much of an immediate positive effect. We had never trained to fire the M203 at such a close distance for safety reasons, but I held at the top of the window frame with my Aimpoint and the round went straight where I wanted it.

MEUSOC 1911

The MEUSOC 1911 has an almost legendary reputation among 1911 and handgun enthusiasts. One of the most high performance handguns ever built, the MEUSOC 1911 we ran was hand built by Marine Armorers from the Precision Weapons Section at MCBQ (Marine Corps Base Quantico). They fine tuned our 1911’s, hand selecting barrels, link pins, sear springs, ejectors, firing pin stops, mainspring housings and mainsprings. Slides were custom built by Springfield Armory with beavertail safeties and recoil spring guides by Ed Brown, Novak rear sights, Wilson Combat extractors + mag release buttons, and King’s Gun Works ambi thumb safeties.

Force ran the 1911 specifically in direct action raid or ambush missions. It was not a primary and would only come into play if our carbines had run dry or malfunctioned. We carried 10 round magazines with 230 Grain 45 ACP. More than enough to deal with any immediate situation and then refocus on the carbine to get it back into action.

On DRP(Deep Reconnaissance Patrol) Missions, I personally chose my Berretta M92, which was our only 9mm alternative at the time. The flatter trajectory at range of the 9mm and the larger magazine meant more bullets to deal with more problems in the event my carbine was down or permanently disabled.

When I later worked as a security contractor on Ambassador Bremmer’s detail with Blackwater, we would run Glock 17s. But in the end, the mission drives the gear. But more importantly, the mission drives the man.

THE MISSION DRIVES THE MAN

When I first started making gear, I was doing it to help keep my guys alive. When I started my first company, Simply Dynamic Tactical, I wasn’t in it to get rich. I was doing it to pass on what I learned in combat and to provide tools that would stack the deck in the favor of the men and women who were going overseas or out on our streets as warfighters, law enforcement or private citizens.

Surviving war is an awesome responsibility. For those who have been in combat, you never forget the brothers you lost. When you are one of those who made it back, you carry a weight that is difficult to put into words. I was lucky to have known such great men in my life. I was lucky to have a second family closer than any people I will ever know.

As I approach the 5th year in business with Haley Strategic Partners, we have tried to bring this industry together and to stay focused on that one mission. Enable brave men and women to complete their missions as safely as possible. Through training, through gear and through mindset.  

Stay Sharp and be safe,

Travis Haley
October, 2015

An extremist Muslim is one that will kill or explode you as commanded by the Quran.
A radical Muslim is one who vocally demands you be killed or exploded, but won’t do it themselves. They’ll get the extremist to do it, as commanded by the Quran.
A moderate Muslim is one who believes quietly that you should be killed or exploded. They argue for the acceptance of Islam in public and call it a religion of peace. And continue to attend their radical imam’s mosque and pay the zakat so they can fill their basements with weapons to arm the radicals and extremists. As commanded by the Quran.
A liberal Muslim is one who doesn’t believe you should be killed or exploded, and has either rejected or hasn’t ever actually read the Quran to know what they’re supposed to be doing. The others correctly call the liberal Muslim an apostate as commanded by the Quran, and have the extremist kill or explode them, also as commanded by the Quran.
Kiss ♥ - Calum Hood Smuff

You had been good friends with Calum for a few years since you met at school, just before he moved to England to continue with his music. Ever since you were first introduced to the boy, you had had a connection. You’d both been in the same Drama class, and somehow managed to both be forced into the lead roles in the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet.

“Calum Hood, and [y/n],” your teacher chimed, “You’ve been slacking off this semester and I need something to put into your report cards. At the end of this double lesson, I expect a vivid production of the play we’ve been studying. I’m hopeful you at least know the title of it.”

The brunette boy standing on the opposite side of the theatre had looked over to you and smiled softly before heading in your direction. Upon getting closer to you, he’d dug his hands into his pockets and bored his eyes at the floor.   As soon you opened your mouth to say hello, he avowed conversation himself.

“I saw you at the soccer match I was playing at on the weekend.”

You froze like a deer in the headlights, trying to quickly reminisce back to the previous Saturday and Sunday.

“Oh yeah,” you affirmed after a short moment, “I play netball on the courts next to the oval. We usually play Friday nights, but it got cancelled-“

“cancelled because of the weather,” Calum concluded your sentence in a sigh. “We were supposed to play Thursday night and it got pushed to Saturday.”

“No shit,” you sighed.

He laughed under his breath, “Yes shit.”

“Dog shit.”

“Horse shit.”

Both of your eyes flicked to meet each other before a grunting chuckle emerged from both of you.

“So, why netball?” he asked after a while.

The chatter didn’t stop from there. Literally. You spoke for the next two hours. At the end of the class, when the teacher had beckoned you onto the stage, improvisation had been your only hope.

“How thy face be so lovely?” Calum had screamed whilst clutching his shirt near his heart and holding the other arm out to you.

Struggling not to double over with snorts and laughter, you yelled back and stepped one leg out towards him, “But thou love is forbidden poor Romeo!”

Lunging outward, he fell brutally onto his knee, using the momentum from his arms to slide along the hard floor and land on his knees at your feet. “Oh Juliet, drink this poison shot with me.”

Pretending to take a cup from his open hand, you crouched lowly onto your knees so you were both at eye level. You were not in the slightest prepared when Calum’s dry lips attached to yours for a hasty kiss. Instantaneously, your eyes had slammed shut. Your body remained perfectly still. There was no time for a proper reaction to the event, as your brain had completely turned off for the two second that his gentle mouth lingered.

He was the one to pull away from you, and swivel to face the teacher, lifting his arm with a thumbs up at her. Her expression was just a replica of your own. Mouth wide enough for an apple to be shot into it, and eyebrows trying to touch the sky.

Up until year 11, you continued as good friends. Partnering up in every group project, going to watch each other’s sport games, late night phone calls. One night, at about 11pm, Calum had called your phone while you were in bed.

“Hey [y/n], look at your window,” he’d laughed. You could legitimately hear the smile through the phone, and then quite easy see it through your own eyes when you looked out the window.

That night he took you on a tour around every street of the suburb. Every house you walked past, you would take it in turns to make up a story about who lived there and what they were doing. It was after hours and hours when you came across a mansion surrounded by a tall white gate.

“Okay, okay,” you’d taken charge for this one, “So it’s a husband and a wife. Two kids. One of the kids is a rebellious teenager who wears all black and the rest of his family hates him.”

“I’m pretty sure Michael doesn’t live here,” Calum inputted.

“Oh my gosh,” you’d giggled, “Michael’s parents don’t hate him! Well they might when they find out how bad he’s going to do in the exam tomorrow.”

Then you’d realised and screeched through the hand that you’d cuffed over your open mouth. “Calum! We have an exam tomorrow morning.”

Raising his hands in a shielding manner, as though you were going to smack him for keeping you out late, he spat out a few words to defend himself, “You wouldn’t have slept anyway, [y/n], I was trying to keep your mind from stressing.”

It was stuff like that which made you fall in love with him.

But all you ever were was good friends. There was no spark of lightning when you’d kissed in that one Drama class. No fire inside of you. No stomach being attacked by butterflies. No, none of that. That had all come later, you see. Once you knew all about him. Once you’d met his friends and family, and found out that you loved them. Once you’d understood all of his perfections and all of his flaws. His tempter was one those defects. The first time you had witnessed it, you were shocked out of your mind, completely unsure of what to do.

As the siren rung to conclude the end of the match, he had crouched onto his knees and punched his fist antagonistically into the grass, his head plunging down. Watching from the sidelines, there wasn’t anything you could quickly do to stop him as the opposing team captain had smugly patting him on the back. Calum was already furious, nostrils flaring madly, at the disgusting umpiring during the game, and the sarcastic ‘good play’ from the other player enforced him to stand up and lividly grab a hold of his white collar, elevating his feat nearly off the ground. Whiter than a ghost was the only way the competitors face could have been described. It was as though Calum’s snarling had killed him from shock and sent him to heaven and really just left his skeleton behind.

Thankfully, Calum’s team mates pulled him off and dragged him to sit down on the sideline bench. Frankly, you were slightly too mortified to approach him, but Luke, his best mate, persuaded you to go over there and do something. Sitting by his side, your legs dangled timidly off the bench, feet scraping along the tallest pieces of lawn underneath. His head was snug and compact into his open hands, not aware you were sitting right there.

Clearing your throat, you’d dithered with a conversation starter and settled with, “Hey Calum.”

After a small hesitation, you softly heard him grouse a “fuck” under his breath before lifting his head and looking at you. His eyes were straining red with tension, but he took in a large slow breath and then a sizeable exhaling prior to applying an acquiescent tone to his voice and answered with, “Hey. I forgot you’d come to watch the game.”

Calum had forced himself to hide his enragement from you until it had passed over. When you brought it up later, he admitted that he felt pressured to calm down in order to not scare you. And he mentioned that you should appear more often when he gets incensed so that he wouldn’t lose control as regularly.

The more times that he showed up, knocking urgently on your door with sweat running down his forehead after running the two kilometres to your house, because something had infuriated him and he couldn’t oppress the anger, the more time that you ended up spending with him.  The fondness between you increased slowly, gradually, but eventually hit what you thought was the peak one night at a Hood family gathering.

Because Calum was leaving for the UK, his mum had invited over the close relatives, and you, to spend some time together. But you ended up spending majority of your time playing lego with Calum’s four year old cousin.

“No, no, no,” you warned to the tiny child as he brought the tiny red piece into his mouth. “You can’t eat that!”

Cries began dispensing from his mouth like a waterfall after you’d taken the piece from him.

“Wait, no, it’s okay,” you spluttered, “look, look.”

Your efforts of connecting a few pieces to distract the child failed initially, but not long later, the cries evolved to small chuckles. And then you could hear a deeper chuckle transpire behind you. As you turned around, none other than Calum was bending over with his two fingers posing as bunny ears atop your head. You couldn’t help but be appreciative of his assistant in soothing the poor kid, so you promptly whispered, “thank you,” to him.

Smiling, he increased the volume of his voice and asked politely, “Hey Jack, do you mind if I steal [y/n] for a bit?”

Then without waiting for a response, Calum bounced up and proceeded toward his bedroom, expecting you would follow. Which you did. After shutting the door behind you, he sprung to his television, grabbing two xbox controllers and pressing the power button. Knowing where this was going, you crashed down onto the left side of his beanbag at the same time he slumped down into the right, evening the weight out perfectly.

“Fifa?” he questioned you, receiving a sharp nod in reply.

Half way through playing, he started up a conversation.

“You’re pretty good with Jack.”

Although it was surely a joke, you hadn’t sensed the sound of sarcasm in his words. “You’re kidding, right? If you hadn’t had come along the kid wouldn’t have stopped crying.”

Both your eyes sustained focus upon the screen as you flicked the buttons and swayed your arms radically with each swish in the match.

“[Y/n], seriously, you had him so down packed for hours before that. You’d be such a good parent.”

“Pfft,” you replied, “I don’t know. I definitely would want kids though.”

“How many?”

You thought about that for a moment, and when you finally answered it sounded more like a question, “Maybe two?”

“Fuck!” he growled as you scored a goal. Hitting pause on the game, he set the controller onto his knee and continued talking.

You’d been through what kind of house you wanted, where abouts you wanted to live, how often your children would be allowed to see their grandparents, what sport they would be playing as a child and whether the tomato sauce would stay in the pantry or the fridge; each of you revealing your thoughts, which besides the argument between netball and soccer for being a better sport, you had agreed on. When the chatter led to how you wanted your wedding to place out, you hadn’t been able to contain your dreams. After explaining every detail from what style of cake, to what colour flowers, to the exact number of guests invited, you were shushed at the deliberation of how your dress would look. Calum had been silent next to you for the entire ramble, smiling when you got overly thrilled regarding the unimportant minor niceties. But as soon as you had mentioned that you couldn’t reach a conclusive idea about your attire, he’d struck you with his own input.

“You’d look absolutely beautiful in anything, [y/n].”

That one line had done something to you. Almost like your heart actually hadn’t been working your whole life, and that tiny sentence had slapped it into full action. And then it was like every time you caught a glimpse of him, you’d had a lion beating at the inner of your rib cage, begging to escape and just attack Calum with all of the slowly increasing lust and burning desire to be with him. The immense want to be in constant contact with him had only exacerbated when he left the country.

Even when he moved to the opposite side of the globe, you both maintained frequent texts and calls. The two of you genuinely cherished your friendship. Calum could vent to you about how frustrating or tiresome his days had been, and you could do the same. One night, he had deliriously called your mobile at what was only 8pm for you, but 1am for him.

“[y/n],” he’d whined slowly into the speakers.

Concerned, you had frantically asked him what was wrong, if he was alright, if he needed help. Ignoring all that you had said, he spoke over the top of you quietly, “I really have to tell you something that’s been bugging me for ages.”

“Yeah, Calum, go,” you’d encouraged.

But muffled scratches and static had blared into your ears, followed by Michael’s annoyed voice, “Hey, [y/n], Calum’s drunk. And he’s being an annoying shit. Sorry if it’s a weird time in Aus.”

Whenever Calum returned to Australia from tours or during breaks of recording he would spend the days either with his family or with you. During his last homecoming, he had used up all of his spare days at your house. A vivid memory from the first night was still imprinted in your brain. 

“[Y/n]?” he had asked, fumbling with his fingers. You were both half-laying on your bed, atop the covers, with your backs resting up against the bed head. The laptop sat in between the two of you, bent at an angle where you could both adequately view the movie through the slightly scratched screen. You had needed to play snap with Calum for 30 minutes to waste the time as it illegally downloaded earlier.

“Yeah,” you breathed, acknowledging him but not removing your intense stare from the major character conflict occurring.

The slight pause before he spoke again did induce you to tear your vision from the film and look towards him, however. As you rotated, you saw his Adam’s apple run up and down his throat slowly, and then a hefty breath was pushed out his lips.

“You alright?” you quickly spat out, eyebrows furrowing.

Ignoring that question, he stretched out his fingers and pushed his hands downward on his thighs, as if attempting to get sweat off of them.

His voice was low and barely audible as he spoke, “Considering it’s late and all, and I don’t want to force you to drive me home, I was thinking I could, like, stay here for tonight.”

Of course, you had agreed, happily. But you weren’t sure how this was going to play out. Although you were obviously close friends, you had not ever slept at his house and he had never slept at yours. For the continuation of the movie, you struggled to focus on the action because your mind was contemplating whether you were to give Calum a blanket and lead him to the couch in the living room, or just hop into your own bed and expect him to follow suit. Your mind was suffering such a cyclone of anxiousness that you didn’t even realise when the credits began rolling on the screen.

Calum leaned forward himself and pulled the laptop screen down so that it clicked shut and the music that was playing ended abruptly. That was what shook you from your thoughts, and when you snapped back into reality, Calum was gazing at you, his hands clasped together and thumbs rubbing over the top of each other, hard enough to turn his tanned skin white.

Clearing your throat, you manoeuvred your legs to fall off the side of the bed and drop so your feet were flat on the carpet. Rising up from the mattress, you stood and began making your way over to your set of drawers. While you slowly retrieved your pyjamas you decided to turn your pondering onto him.

“So any preference where you want to sleep then?” you laughed awkwardly.

Calum’s response was speedy, as though he had already thought through his reply, but his words seemed to shake uneasily when they were delivered, “I don’t want to be a hassle, I’ll just sleep here with you.”

Relief lifted a weight from your shoulders, knowing now that you wouldn’t have to sound rude dejecting him to the lounge, or seem perverted to want him in your own quilt. Just as you rushed into the ensuite to get changed into more comfortable clothes, however, an even heavier weight was dropped onto you. What side of the bed would you sleep on? And what if you moved in your sleep? Or spoke? You might ruin Calum’s night if yo-

Again your hectic mind was interrupted by Calum wandering aimlessly into the bathroom, halting immediately at the sight of you and scuffing his feet as he stopped. Looking down, you saw that you were standing in only your bra and panties, the rest of your body completely exposed. The blush that crept across his cheeks was only half the intensity of the redness encompassing yours. You were frozen by his stare as his eyes slid down your features, stopping momentarily at your breasts, but then continuing down to around your knees before snapping back up to your face.

“Shit,” he swore squeakily.

The miniature you that sat inside your skull threw out a line and went fishing inside your brain for something to say.

Calum got in before you though, whispering, “damn,” and then half a minute later, “fuck [y/n].”

Shaking his head, he then took the few steps towards you, and raised his hand up to your chin, pushing your jaw upward to close your mouth which had subconsciously fallen slightly ajar. Showing a quick smile, he then walked by you to get to the sink, your shoulders brushing against each other ever so slightly. As the tap turned on and water started running, it ignited energy to start running through your own bones, and you hastily grabbed your long shirt and pulled it over your head.

The anxiousness you had regarding the rest of the night was a waste. Calum took control of most of your worries, hoping into the opposite side of the king-size, facing away from you and calling out a ‘good night.’ The lightness of your sleeping, though, permitted you to feel a movement behind you at around 2am. Forgetting that Calum was staying with you, you gasped and widened your previously closed eyelids as a large hand rested gently on your hip.

“Shhhh,” you recognised Calum’s voice quietly behind you and his warm breath now on the back of neck, calming you back down.

When you woke up in the morning, he was even closer to you, his chest almost flush with your back. His head was propped up on his hand, his elbow on the pillow, watching your expressions as you slept, and his fingers were trailing softly over your hip and up your side to your arm, before flowing all the way back down.

After that night, Calum’s confidence soared through the roof and did a few flips around the sun. It made you think that him seeing you half naked had amplified an underlying desire beneath himself to impress to you. He slept in your bed every night, usually spooning you, but sometimes pulling you backward and twisting your body so your head relaxed on his broad shoulder or muscled torso. During the daytime, if you left the home, he would lazily drape an arm around your shoulder and neck or place his hand around your waist.

This was what you had been wanting for, for so long. You could never notice, but whenever he held you, or touched you, there seemed to be a breath that you could finally release. It was as if you were constantly holding it in, like there was this incredibly tension in your life, but in his presence you were just relieved, calmed.

On the final night, you had both found your way onto his roof. You were having dinner with his mum, but Calum excused you both from the table. Sitting in between his legs, you had pulled your thighs up to your upper body, and wrapped your arms tightly over your knees. The night was fairly cold, so without being asked, Calum shook off his jacket and draped it over you.

How cliché and romantic. No wonder it made you feel like a child being given candy on Halloween.

While you both glared up at the first few stars that were appearing for the night, Calum suddenly changed the sweet mood and stated emotionlessly, “I’m going tomorrow.”

Neither of you spoke much after that comment, simply embracing each other’s existence while you could. It hurt that nothing was going to become of the past week. Your stupid feelings that you had developed for Calum were going to be drowned in a sea as soon as he was flying over an ocean himself in the direction of Europe. The next morning when you woke up in Calum’s bed, without Calum, you sighed and grabbed your phone from underneath his pillow.

(1)    Text Message: Cal

I didn’t want to make the goodbye any more difficult after such a nice week. I’ll probably be boarding the plane by the time you wake up. L. J

Luckily, school had started back up, so you were forced to do something during the day and not ponder on what extra you should’ve done whilst Calum was here, or why you didn’t just man up and become closer with him earlier on in your friendship. A week or so later, your phone had buzzed in your pocket in the middle of a class. Rapidly, you put on a small act, standing from your desk and clutching at your stomach with one hand. Furiously slapping the other across your mouth, you muffled to your teacher that you were going to vomit, and sprinted out.

Pulling your phone from your shirt pocket as soon as you’d made it half way down the hall, you were surprised to see that it was Luke. Pressing the green accept button, you held the speaker to your ear and listened to his perturbed voice.

“Okay, look. Calum has been a lost fucking puppy since we got back on tour, [y/n]. And I thought nothing of it, just assuming he was mildly upset from leaving family. But no. I was wrong. A couple of nights ago, I’m lying in my bunk, and what do I hear? Calum. Talking in his sleep. And whose name is he fucking whimpering? Yours. So in the morning, I’m like, ‘dude are you okay?’ and he’s all like ‘yeah, bro, I’m okay,’ and the next thing I know, he’s got his head on the fucking table saying how much he fucking misses you, and can’t even get out bed in the mornings, let alone go to these fucking interviews or concerts, without thinking about how god-damn much he wants you.”

Your eyebrows had raised at Luke’s immense ramble. The break in his monologue suggested that it was your turn to talk, but all you could muster up was a shocked, “Oh.”

Taking that as a sign that you were alive and listening, he continued, “you’re fucking coming here, [y/n], I really don’t give a fuck what you have to say, but you’ve done something to my band mate and you need to get your butt over here to help this kid out.”

Giggling slightly at the amount of cursing Luke was emitting, you explained to him that you couldn’t just ditch school and head over to Europe to join them. Annoyed, Luke continued to pester you until you admitted that in under a month you had a ‘home-study’ week instead of school. By then, the boys would have just made it onto the commencement of their North American leg, and Luke wouldn’t let you get away with saying no to joining them.

That conversation was what eventually led you to be walking off a plane in a foreign country, and being greeted by a grey-haired man holding a white paper sign that had your name on it.

“[y/n], this way” he shook your hand before pointing at a black van. Although you spent the entire car ride imagining how you were going to escape if this was actually a murderer kidnapping you and taking you to a secluded desert to chop you up into pieces, the van thankfully pulled up near a hotel which had a name you remember Calum mentioning a couple of days ago over the phone.

 Calum knew you were coming. Luke had to tell him so that he would stop his moping. As soon as he found out, he’d downloaded a countdown app on his phone, taken a screenshot of how many days it was until he saw you again, and sent the image to you. You were slightly concerned, though. Maybe Calum wasn’t going to show as much affection as he did when you were in Australia. You were hopeful that he hadn’t lost any of the ostensible interest he had towards you previously, because your ‘crush’ that you had on him, which you officially decided you could name a crush after you spent a complete two hour Maths lesson daydreaming merely about his eye colour, definitely had not faded.

Much to your delight, it was only a second after you stepped through his hotel door that his arms were swathed around your waist, his head digging deeply into the crescent between your neck and shoulder. Dropping the handles of bags that you were clinging, you returned the hug automatically. In that moment, you were able to truly understand how much you missed him.

“We’re going to go out for dinner tonight,” he hummed, lips moving against your neck. “We don’t have a concert, so yeah.”

Retreating away from him, and bending down to get another grasp of your bags, you nodded with a bright grin on your face. Swatting your hands away once he saw that you were going to carry the luggage yourself, Calum swiftly picked up the items and began walking backwards into another room, keeping his eyes set on yours. After an hour or so of meeting some of the crew that were also touring with the lads, and also having a decent catch up with the other three band members themselves, Calum loudly announced to the small group around you that you were both leaving to go grab something to eat.

It was a low key dinner. The café you were at was small, but it was welcoming, and you were quite frankly very content to be anywhere with Calum. There wasn’t too much to catch up on, because you had been sending messages back and forth ever since you saw him last. Three times throughout your meal, Calum had stared at you until you’d realised he was watching you. Then he’d quickly returned his eyes to the food in front of him, saying something like “I really did miss you, you know [y/n],” or “I don’t even know how I managed the past month without you.”

When you had both fit as much food into your mouth as you could, you pulled out your purse from your bag, expecting to go halves like you normally did.

“Don’t worry about it,” Calum affirmed with a smile as he stood from his chair, obtaining his own wallet from his pocket.

He grabbed your hand and helped you up before heading in the direction of the door and telling you he would just pay and be outside with you in a minute. As you waited by the street, it gave you a minute to re-adjust yourself, brushing your hair out of your face and flattening your clothes. Once Calum was back out, he put his arm on your hip and faintly pushed you to cross the road. You didn’t oblige, and continued to go along with his push for around ten minutes until you started hearing the soft sounds of waves crashing onto a shore. After a short while longer, the wind had picked up slightly around you, and despite the thick black night sky surrounding the two of you, you could just make out that Calum was directing you onto a jetty.

“Is this-“

“Yup,” he calmly interrupted. Standing behind you, he wrapped his arms just under your chest and rested his head sideways on top of yours.  Your body weight was sufficiently supported by him, as you allowed your now tired structure to fall into him.

By the end of the night, you’d ended up in his bed, because apparently Luke had never booked you your own room in the hotel. He’d made the brave assumption that you would be fine sleeping with Calum. And he was correct. The flight had made you so tired that you could barely move any part of your body. Your arm was flung around his neck as you limbered into his hotel room and crawled slowly onto the bed. Once your head had sunk into the cloudy depths of the pillow, your mind had also.

Only vaguely could you feel him pulling off your top over your head, unbuckling your jeans and pulling them down your legs. His fingers, which were like ice cubes from being in the wind earlier, brushed over your calves as he raised them up gradually to remove the pants from bundling around your ankles. You had no energy to protest. And even if you were awake and active, you doubt that you would’ve stopped him. Slipping his hands underneath your knees, Calum tucked your lower limbs up to near your chest whilst heaving down the thick quilt cover underneath you.

Before pulling the sheet back over the top of you, there was an elongated period of time where you lay hopelessly exhausted on your side, merely in your underwear. It was only when a small chilly shiver slinked into your spine and consequently inflicted a tremor to vibrate your body, that the soft covers were finally rested on top of you. The warmth and comfort, which was heightened even more when Calum’s body slid in behind you, automatically sent you into slumber.

The week that you had with his was nice. You were taken along to all of the interviews and all of the concerts with the boys. Time spent with just the two of you was restricted to nights, as he was busy majority of the daytime. But that didn’t stop him from resting his hand on your thigh during every car ride, or escaping vocal warm ups with his band to chat to you. The feeling of being in Calum’s arms every time you slept was overwhelmingly wonderful, but also daunting when you took time to think it through properly. Your relationship with Calum was strictly friends, and it had been for years, until that one week at home. How had things changed so quickly?

On the night before you left to head back home, you’d hoped and prayed that just you and Calum could waste the entire night together. Just becoming encompassed with each other like you had done on his last night in Australia. But your dreams had been shot in the face when his manager had made a declaration to the band that afternoon.

“We have the album release celebration party in a few hours, boys, I’ll meet you in the foyer.”

Calum’s anger was immediately evident as you could see his jaw tighten and fists clench. When he made his comment, each of his single words were pronounced as if there was a full stop at the end of them, “John, why the fuck are we having an album release party now when it was released three months ago.”

His manager put a tight hand onto his shoulder blade before straying his eyes towards you and then back at Calum, “work comes before girls, mate.”

A grunt elicited from Calum’s mouth as he aggressively shook the hand off his shoulder and began stomping from the room, grabbing your hand and dragging you along the way. When you were in another room, with the door locked securely shut, he had raised his hands to his head and began tugging hopelessly at clumps of hair, as if ripping them from his skull was going to fix the situation.

“[y/n], I’m fucked off,” he said slowly with his top and bottom teeth grinding.

“I know,” you replied, with lack of anything better to say, the clogs in your brain were working over-time.

“This night was meant to just be for us.”

“I know, Calum,” you started and then moved to stand in front of him. Your mouth turned into a soft smile as you gently grabbed his wrists and lightly pulled to bring them away from his hair. “It’s okay, we can still hang.”

You could tell he was attempting to calm himself down as he shut his eyes and fastened his lips together.

“We like parties, anyway,” you chirped.

When he didn’t make any calmer response, you sighed and dumped your head onto his heaving chest. Although the pumping of his heart merely augmented in speed, the muscles in his arms seemed to un-tense. Placing his hands on the top of your arms which were dangling by your side, he began to soothingly caress them up and down. To an onlooker, it now would’ve seemed as though Calum was the one relaxing you after an angry outburst.

At the celebration, you’d been slightly nervous with the large crowd of people in black suits and thick ties. The other boys and yourself were still wearing your denims and cotton shirts from earlier. This ‘party’ was more of a cocktail business meeting. Calum had sensed you felt slightly out of place and intertwined your fingers with his, squeezing gently, and then whispering in your ear, “at least we don’t have holes in our top.”

As if on queue, Ashton had nudged your shoulder and let out a low whistle, “I knew John was fucking around when he said we were going to a party. I heard there’s vodka at the bar though.”

Within ten minutes of that remark, you and Calum were crouched behind the bar counter, trying to stifle giggles and hold your hands still as you poured out six tiny glasses with alcohol.

“Ready?” he’d stammered before taking a firm hold of the first glass and raising it up to his bottom lip.

Mimicking his actions, you commenced counting, “3.   2.   1.”

In perfect unison, you both chugged the shots down your throat, each pitching three into the pits of your stomachs. Time was lost from that moment. Lost within the combustion of happiness and overall harmony of being with each other. There wasn’t much talking between you. Just simple stares at each other before one of you would laugh and look away. At first the drinks had made the cupboards and small surroundings by you spin clockwise around your head, but after Calum had gestured for you to lie down in between his legs which were spread on the floor, you felt much better. His strong fingers grazed through your hair peacefully, tugging somewhat at a few knots. Your eyes had leisurely shut when he began mellifluously digging the tips of his fingers into your scalp and relieving any tension.

You only recognised how soothing it felt when he briskly stopped, and began budging behind you, trying to stand up.

“I wanna go,” he announced to only you listening.

As he stood, he took a firm grip onto your hand and wrenched you from the ground. Holding his right arm with both hands, you stuck closely by his side as he escorted you out of the building. From what you could tell of the quick glance you’d made around the venue, the other boys had left also. For the entire amble back to your hotel, you kept your tense hold on Calum. It was only in the lift when he had hit the button for your floor that you released your clutch on him. For the ride upward, he had leaned on the handrail and gawked at you, while you were gawking back at him whilst leaning on the opposing side’s handrail. When the elevator dinged and the sliding door divided open, he bounded from his rested position and dashed out the door calling, “race you!” as he went.

Gasping at the change of pace, you pounded your feet against the carpet to chase him down the corridor to your room. When he hit the door ahead of you and rattled his keys shakily into the lock, you gained the time to catch up to him, and as he opened the door, you’d thumped into his back, causing the both of you to plunge through the door way and clutch each other for support from falling.

The two of you doubled over with sniggers at the childishness of it all, until eventually you both calmed and stood with pleasant smiles, again, just gaping at the sight of each other. Calum was the one to shatter the wall of silence.

 “God, this is going to sound stupid,” he muttered softly, as his eyebrows furrowed and he maintained eye contact with you, “but I just want to kiss you so badly.”

With just those words slipping fraught from his mouth, you had reached an absolute pinnacle of how far your yearning could go. You slapped your small hands onto each of Calum’s cheeks and lugged his face towards you. The blister inside of you that had been growing in your soul ever since you had been on your knees kissing Romeo had finally popped.

When your mouth attached, it couldn’t even be compared to the same instance that had occurred all those years ago. This time, Calum had twisted his head and snuck his lower lip in between your bottom and top. His lips were damp and soft from the liquids that had been passed through them earlier, and his tongue was even wetter when it slithered in between your teeth. His hands had glided to a resting position on the small of your waist.

Your feelings were up on a brand new level than what you had ever felt before. Like the blister that had popped released an assortment of stars that were now gracefully attacking every organ you had. The black inside your eyelids was complete with a firework display, and convivial rush of bliss was seeping in your skin and dripping onto your heart. The elation fluttered on for the furtherance of the night.

Calum has pushed you backward, smacking you awkwardly into the bathroom door, and then removing one hand from your side to rattle the knob until the support behind you was lost and you stumbled backwards with your feet slipping on the tiled floor. Calum’s face was encompassed by a huge grin and rumbling snort as you squealed and stuck your arm around to grasp onto the sink near you. When he bent over to help you back to a standing point where you could tilt your head at another angle to kiss him, you felt his hands take a new location on your ass. The length of his fingers as they were stretched out to their full extent allowed him to wholly cup your cheeks in the grasp. With the slightly more passionate sentiment, you took initiative in placing your hands like paws upon his chest.

A quiet hum broke from the confines of your throat as Calum began hastily squeezing and releasing your ass. You could feel the air that was being pushed from his nostrils onto your face was intensifying in speed and amount with every clutch. The action only made you want more. As you shifted your hands upward to embrace around his neck, you enclosed any free air that had been lying between your bodies, and instantly you could feel his hard length busting through his jeans into your centre. 

Like the plain feeling of his stiffness wasn’t enough, Calum forced your back onto the wall behind you and split his legs apart. Bending slightly at the knee, but ensuring not to lose the intimacy between your two warm bodies, he sent his crotch on a trip down a few centimetres and then up. The rigidness of his cock against your heat, even though clothes, was driving sweat to spur from the pores in your forehead. Your head flicked back, hitting the wall behind, as you moaned deeply at the sensation.

“Mmmm,” Calum grumbled as his hands lost the grasp of your ass and transferred his hands to your front, sinking down your pants initially to haul them off of you, but then later addressing your t-shirt and gradually pulling it over your head.

Neither of you kept a consistent control over one another. You moved smoothly and speedily, as if both fully aware of what you wanted. And what you both wanted was exactly the same. In no time, you had your legs wrapped securely around his naked torso whilst under the pelting warm water from the powerful shower head. The pellets of water were soaking through his tresses and dripping slowly onto your bare breasts before running off your nipples and soaring down to the floor. Some of the wetness was creating a stream down the crease of your spine, and flooded down into the slit between your two ass cheeks. As Calum spun you around slightly, the force behind the stream increased and sent the water flowing into your folds, where it met an already moist area.

Calum broke his lips from yours to pucker his mouth onto your cheek bone and then trace a straight line down onto your neck and collarbone. The foggy cloud of humidity from the general ardour and genuine heat of the bathroom was sending you into overdrive. As his teeth nipped slightly at your wet skin, you felt his hand tap at your thigh, begging you to release your enfold around him. Once you did as he wanted, he placed his nose to the tip touch of yours, and his hand grabbed his length and hazily draw figure eights on your clit with it’s tip.

“Uh,” you cried vulnerably, “Cal.”

“[y/n], I want you, baby, do you want me?” his voice sounded rough and husky, quite desperate after your weak response.

“Y-yes, Ca-Calum,” you stuttered in sharp breaths.

The pensive wait for his cock to fill you was broadened as he continued to speak gravelly, “Do you know how long I’ve been waiting for this?” There was a slight pause before he continued and his voice cracked, “So fucking long, [y/n]. So, fucking, long.”

As you forced your gaze to meet with his glassy eyes, you could see that he was being completely serious.

His tone turned hushed as he persisted, “Do you remember when we first spoke and I kissed you in that stupid play?”

A lazy smile took over your facial expression as you recalled the memory.

“We were fifteen years old. And I thought you were the most beautiful girl in the world that day.”

The entire pace of the scene had fizzled to a standstill as you listened to him with trickles dripping off his hair now blending into a tear on his cheek.

“And when I kissed you, I felt absolutely fucking nothing.”

Your lungs were now inhaling shakily. The expression of his thoughts was like an audit of your own.

“So I left it. For what, three years? Three years. Every single time I looked at you and saw how absolutely gorgeous you were, I brushed it off, because I knew that there was no spark between us, no flame, no feelings, we were better just friends.”

One blink and then tears were pouring from your own eyes.

“And God knows why I didn’t re-try it earlier, [y/n]. But when I’m kissing you now it feels like everything I wanted that damn first kiss to be.”

In a quick movement, he thrust himself into you, causing your jaw to drop open at the pristine feel. The palm of his hand stroked gently on your neck and cheek as he remained stagnant inside of you. His tongue emerged from inside his mouth and ran slowly over his bottom lip before his teeth came out and bit down firmly on the pink skin. You actually felt complete with him inside of you.

The next sentence that left your mouth didn’t need to be processed. It had been lingering in the back of your mind for a while now. Waiting for the perfect opportunity. And here it was.

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Destroy the idea that desiring to see injustice end and peace prevail is weak, childish, soft, or foolish. Destroy the idea the valuing human life is too impractical and expensive an ideology to hold for long.

Destroy the idea that being strong means being hard enough to hurt, to kill, to cut off feeling. Destroy the idea that growing up means being able to “make the tough call” and “do what needs to be done” when that means throwing individuals or groups to the wolves.

Destroy the idea that you must perpetuate and sanction violence in order to spare your loved ones from violence. Destroy the internal terrorism of “it could be you next” that silences peacemakers and arms militants, radicals, and war criminals.

Destroy the idea that strength is anything but being able to hold a gun to someone’s head and not pull the trigger.