Healing came in different forms. It was rarely the grand gestures that truly made a difference– it was the tiny things that mattered. It was going about life at a steady and uncomplicated pace. It was waking up and getting breakfast together. It was going to work and coming home to see the person you loved already there waiting for you. It was getting groceries at the same time and debating which cereal you wanted that week. It was going to bed early and sometimes just cuddling… but sometimes being intimate.
Inko was learning about Toshinori all over again. It was hard. It was. He was a boisterous man in his entirety– unhindered by the need to hide his hero self. His confidence was overflowing in most areas and sometimes she had a difficult time reigning him in. Yet he floundered in the aspect of relationships, and that was the area she almost NEEDED him to flourish. Because she was starting to flounder too. But every day WAS getting better. They were learning together. That was what mattered. Between the blushing and the stuttering and the dancing around each other’s intentions, things were starting to fall into place. Slowly. Slowly. Every so slowly.
It seemed that just as everything settled, something else came up to unhinge it, though. A complication to upset the proverbial apple cart. The next complication would change both of their lives forever, and in irreversible ways.
“You’re looking pale, my dear. Are you SURE you’re alright?” Toshinori asked her for the third time. They were in the grocery store. It was just after her morning shift. Inko had taken off her apron and name tag, grabbed a cart and was determined to get groceries over with before going home. She WAS pale. White as a sheet, if one were to be brutally honest. He would never insult her that way, though.
She cast him a baleful, sickly look. He was in his civilian disguise, as he always was when they went shopping together. “I want to get this over with.” Inko admitted. No, she wasn’t sure she was alright. She wasn’t going to lie to him. It was simply easier to get groceries done and just GET HOME.
“You’ve been sick for a while now. What… a-a couple weeks? A little more? Maybe you should see a doctor.” Her boyfriend went on, following her down the aisle, dutifully pushing the cart. She could tell he wasn’t far behind her– their cart had a squeaky wheel. They ALWAYS seemed to find the cart with the squeaky wheel. For some reason, that day it was getting on her nerves worse than usual.
Inko raised a hand to her forehead. “That CART.” She grumbled.
Toshi chuckled. “We DO always seem to get this one!” He stopped to debate between Sour Cream and Onion or Dill Pickle flavored chips.
Something about the very thought of them just made Inko’s stomach turn. It usually didn’t. Just this time… it did. She bolted for the public washroom. The woman could hear Toshinori yelling after her, following very closely (he had little trouble keeping up), but he thankfully had the foresight to NOT continue past the threshold of the Women’s washroom. Inko burst into a stall, shoved up the seat cover of a toilet and started to retch.
Outside, Toshinori winced, listening to the less than appetizing sound. He stood stiffly against the brick wall, watching other customers pass by. They hurried past, wide eyed. He couldn’t blame them– it wasn’t a lovely shopping experience.
Eventually the sound ceased. Inko didn’t emerge. Toshinori stood awkwardly for a bit longer, eyes darting. Did he dare to venture in? He was certain she was the only one inside, but STILL. His right hand clenched into a fist, steeling his resolve. It was a rescue mission. Or so he would tell himself. He could lie to himself if he had to.
A woman walked by him and into the washroom. He hissed out a breath. No! NO! “Inko?” He called in through the door instead. A moment passed. He held his breath for her answer.
“I’m… alright.” Her voice finally came. There was a shuffling and a pause before she emerged. Her hair was askew and her face deathly pale. Oh… his poor girl.
“Let’s get you home. I’ll come back for groceries later.”
If he worried for her more than usual, it couldn’t be helped. Yet Inko insisted that she was ok. He couldn’t fathom it.
Tuesday night he came home to a surprisingly lovely dinner considering that she had felt unwell the past three weeks. She was smiling, but still looked honestly tired.
Inko was nervous. He could tell. Her tiny fingers trembled when they found the collar of his costume and tugged at it to get him down so she could kiss him. He didn’t understand– weren’t they beyond that? She hadn’t displayed that nervousness for weeks. Not to such a degree. Still, he indulged her. Of course he did. Her lips were intoxicating.
“Bedroom?” He suggested, surprised when she shook her head– no.
“I have a surprise for you, Toshi.” His woman spoke instead. That was when he looked at her. REALLY looked at her. She was in a beautiful red dress with a yellow floral print. It hugged her curves just SO. Her hair was pulled up from her neck and she had adorned herself in the jewellery he had given her for her birthday. Jewellery she had cried to see, and he had needed to reassure her she was MORE than worthy of. The emeralds sparkled in the dim kitchen light and his breath caught in his throat.
She made her way to the table and he could only follow like a moth attracted to a flame. Then she picked up an envelope and handed it to him. “Open it.”
Now it was HIS turn to be nervous. His hands were clumsy– almost dropping the delicate thing. He ended up almost mutilating the envelope to get the card freed from it. “C-Congratulations on becoming a father…” Toshinori read the front aloud. His eyes flew to her face, then back to the card. “Inko.” The man’s eyes burned with tears.
“I’m pregnant, honey.” She smiled fondly. “Two months and a week.”
Squeaking, she flung her arms around her man, accepting his sloppy, teary kisses as he hauled her into his huge embrace– lifting her off the kitchen floor. They were going to be a family.
- - -
Author’s Note: We’re not done yet! There’s also going to be a sequel to this with a lot of DadMight! And Inko won’t be pushed to the background. :3
You are twelve and your best friend kisses you the day before moving away. He’s nervous and shy, and the kiss is soft, but there are no sparks and no butterflies in your stomach. You are left feeling weird and uncomfortable, like there’s something wrong with you.
You are thirteen and your classmates talk about their crushes and how much they want to kiss them. You listen from a corner but don’t join the conversation. You don’t have a crush on anyone, you wouldn’t want any of their mouthes close to yours, so you can’t add anything to it. One of them still turns around and asks you about your crush. No one believes you when you say no one. The next day there is a rumor that you love one of your friends.
You are fourteen and come back home to find your living room busy with relatives. You join them and for a while everything seems fine, everyone is talking about embarrasing moments, and telling funny stories, and saying lame jokes. But then one of your aunts smiles conspirationally and winks at the other adults, and starts questioning you.
“You must have a boyfriend, someone as pretty as you!” She beams, and everyone gathered agrees. “So tell us, who is your boyfriend? Who do you like?”
You try to laugh it off and get out, and feel uncomfortable about it all, but they keep asking and keep asking and so you say the first name that comes into your mind (because your classmates didn’t believe you and you almost lost a friend because of it). That satisfies them for now and they all commend you for your good taste. No one notices you slipping out of the room until much later, and they all think it’s because you’re a teen now.
(Not one of them thinks that maybe they made you uncomfortable. No one thinks that maybe you would rather not talk about things like this.)
You are fifteen and have resigned yourself to the feelings of isolation. Your friends talk about masturbating, about sex, about the hot people in the class. Your classmates still ask you who you are crushing on. Sometimes you say a random name, and sometimes you claim to be too busy with your homework to worry about love (which seems to be a good enough excuse), but in the privacy of your mind you still wonder.
You look at women, trying to feel any sort of attraction towards them. You even try kissing a friend, but you feel absolutely nothing. You conclude that you can’t be neither homosexual nor bisexual. The logical leap to this is that you must be hetero, since those are the only options.
You try to make yourself fall in love with a boy, then. You stare at the so-called cute boy of your class for hours, waiting for the magical spark to appear. You try to make yourself love a boy based on his clothing. You try to understand what the hell is it that people are talking about.
You waste days, weeks, months on this task. You never succeed.
You are sixteen and you know you are broken. People still ask you about love and sex and crushes, and you still lie for fear of being different, of being alienated, of feeling even more isolated than you already do. You know you will have to marry one day, because marriage is mandatory no matter what you feel. So you resign yourself to pretending, to keep up the act. You try and keep trying not to let it bother you, but the idea of sex, of marriage, of love, all of it makes your stomach churn. You try to pretend you aren’t broken, but you know you are.
You are seventeen when you first see the word asexual, somewhere on the internet. You end up looking that word up, and find a website dedicated to it. There are hundreds upon hundreds of comments in the forums, but you first read the FAQs.
‘Asexuality is not feeling sexual attraction’, you read out loud, barely a whisper, as something inside of you clicks. It makes sense. It makes sense but you ignore it, and convince yourself that you do feel it (because there was that boy you thought looked pretty and that girl you considered cute), and you think the only reason why you don’t really fall in love and want sex is because you are broken. You know this to be true.
You close all of the tabs related to that word. For the next weeks you pretend to never have found it, but it’s always at the back of your mind.
(It’s a chance of being whole, your mind whispers, and you deny it because you are normal. You’ve been trying to be normal for so many years and you must be, have to be, will be…)
Asexuality fits with your life. You are broken, but maybe you aren’t alone.
You are eighteen, and you are more informed now. You have accepted that you are asexual (ace, as the community calls it), and you are somehow much happier now. You know you aren’t broken, now. You know this is an option that was never presented to you before.
You finally come out to your family, feeling safe and secure and confident in your knowledge. Your family laughs. They say that asexuality doesn’t exist, that it’s impossible not to feel sexual attraction. They tell you that you are too young, that you’ll find the right person, not to worry, as if your biggest worry was to not fall in love, instead of not succeding in life. They act like idiots and apologize when it’s too late, and even as you accept their apologies your mind keeps whispering (but what if they are right, what if it’s true, what if you are too young, what if you are faking it, what if, what if)
Your family refers to asexuality as 'that thing’, and they never ask you questions about it. It becomes an unspoken thing. Something that must never be talked about.
Sometimes you feel like crying, but you don’t really know why.
You are nineteen when you come out to your friends. You have put a wall around the fiasco with your family, and you explain everything to them. Your friends are open-minded about it and agree that it fits with your behaviour. They ask you questions and joke about it, but always make sure not to be offensive. You smile all thorought the afternoon, and even once you get home.
A few weeks later one of your friends tells you they are terrified of the idea of being like you, or becoming like you. They say, with concern and real worry in their eyes, that they wouldn’t be able to live a life like yours, so uninteresting, so lonely. You tell them not to worry and don’t even cry about it. But there is a heavy feeling in your chest and a knot in your throat.
You are twenty and the world exhaustes you sometimes. You get tired of watching sex and romance be such an important part of the plots of your favourite movies and TV shows. You are tired of being told in very subtle ways that your orientation isn’t valid. You are tired of the looming threat of corrective rape, of people who hate on you for your sexuality, of stupid jokes and stupid tropes. You are tired of them all.
But you are also twenty and understand that you aren’t broken. You know you aren’t alone. So you wear your ace ring with pride and wear the colors of the flag during the awareness week, and are ready to talk about it with anyone who listens. You are tired of being silenced, so you will yell until you get hoarse if that’s what it takes for the world to listen.
You are twenty, and you accept yourself, and even if things get rough, they can also get better.
Howdy, my name is Rawhide Kobayashi. I’m a 27 year old Japanese Japamerican (western culture fan for you foreigners). I brand and wrangle cattle on my ranch, and spend my days perfecting the craft and enjoying superior American passtimes. (Barbeque, Rodeo, Fireworks) I train with my branding iron every day, this superior weapon can permanently leave my ranch embled on a cattle’s hide because it is white-hot, and is vastly superior to any other method of livestock marking. I earned my branding license two years ago, and I have been getting better every day. I speak English fluently, both Texas and Oklahoma dialect, and I write fluently as well. I know everything about American history and their cowboy code, which I follow 100% When I get my American visa, I am moving to Dallas to work in an oil field to learn more about their magnificent culture. I hope I can become a cattle wrangler for the Double Cross Ranch or an oil rig operator for Exxon-Mobil! I own several cowboy hats, which I wear around town. I want to get used to wearing them before I move to America, so I can fit in easier. I rebel against my elders and seniors and speak English as often as I can, but rarely does anyone manage to respond. Wish me luck in America!
you know, I just realized what bothers me so much about even just the thought of jon kneeling, of giving the north to dany
it’s not the bad writing or the forced romance; it’s not even that sansa would be hated and ridiculed for such a decision, even though she would be
it’s that sansa went through everything for the dream of home - of the north. She was abused and tormented and tortured, physically and emotionally, and all she wanted was to go home
she was told over and over and over that her sole purpose, from the moment her father died, was to be the way another gained entry into the north
that she was just a tool to be used, for someone else to control her home
and here’s jon, giving it to someone. Giving away her home, her freedom, her safety
everything she’s worked for, every soldier she’s welcomed into her home for him; every northern lord she’s convinced to follow jon in his absence; every fire she’s put out, literally and figuratively; every time she’s refused to crown, because it belongs to jon
and he just gives it away
more than that, Robb died trying to free the north from the south; catelyn died trying to free the north from the south. Their blood runs through the country; their sacrifice made it possible for the north to be it’s own, independent kingdom
Here, this is my heart. I’ve spent quite a lot of time putting it back together. I’m sorry about the cracks. Some people weren’t that gentle with it. Sometimes I wasn’t gentle either, but I’m getting better at it every day. I don’t really like having these protective walls up, but my past wasn’t great. I’ve knocked them down just to build them back up stronger than before every time. That’s become exhausting, but you’ll be different from the rest, won’t you? You won’t take this love for granted, you’ll cherish it, right? Right?
liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiike. let’s talk about their reactions here? because i 100% believe in my filthy trash bin of a heart that this episode was the point of no return for parker and eliot both, the point at which they both realised holy shit i am in way over my head.
look at those reactions. like, it’s not simple relief, it’s relief and *total fucking whelm*. and neither eliot nor parker has–allowed themselves, maybe, the relative luxury of just thinking about what someone means to them. because it’s always been a liability. for eliot, caring too much about people would just be something that someone could use against him; for parker, it’s what archie’s cautioned her against a million times: we don’t get involved.
and worse for both of them, really, is that they’re not–not too caught up in a job, not too wrapped up in their own reputations or…or things that could be forgivable, really. things that they could realise and chide themselves for and then pull back from, do better. no, instead they’re both of them way overinvested in another person, in a person who could be hurt, who could be taken from them because they weren’t good enough or fast enough or–or just because sometimes you lose.
parker and eliot have always been aware of when they should cut their losses and get out. but this–this isn’t an acceptable loss. maybe neither of them can say the word love just yet, even to themselves, but this is where they realise it.
hardison doesn’t die, but he comes back to life anyhow, and when he does, the whole world changes.