A bit of back story:
I’m the dm for my newly started group, and im starting each player with a solo session to get them use to the world and to give them a good grounds for how they got together. When I got to the rogue’s session he was having a blast. He started with looking for a bounty for a smuggler and found out that his bounty was apart of a crew that found “Black Dust” (Gunpowder) and the smuggler lost it all.
He then goes to his contact who is a sadistic slave owner, whom he got out of trouble with his own bounty with the help of the rogue, and saw him torture a pair of elf slaves who were sisters (This is important later on he found out). And something about the rogue, he likes to give his victims three options, the first is to turn them in for the alive bounty, the second is to collect dead bounty, and the last is to hide the person with the bounty for double the price.
Anyway, so the main adventure is done, and the rogue helped out a famous pirate captain with finding his lost blackdust, this is them talking in the captain’s office.
Dragonborn Captain: “Right, so here is ye payment. Have to say boy, you really helped us out.”
Half-elf Rogue: “It’s no big deal, I got my payment that’s all that matters.”
DC: “Indeed, but before you go, I have something to ask of ye.”
HR: “Hm? Sure, what is it?”
DC: “You see, I was adopted into a half-elf family… I haven’t seen my two sisters in sometime, and I be worried.”
HR: (Worried about where this is going.) “…I- I see… I suppose i can try to find them… do you know where they were last?”
DC: “On this island actually, they went to work as models for this one painter named (Contact’s name), I’ve been meaning to see them myself but with all this business as of late…”
HR: (Sweating like a pig) “Oh…. um… I don’t know the guy, i’ll be happy to look around for them… But, just a question, what would you do if you found out that something happened to them…?”
DC: (Without missing a beat and way to cheerfully) “Oh, just raid the city in search for the bastard and murder anyone who got in my way, nothing too drastic.”
Later on, after the Rogue found his contact’s place and found out one of the sisters was dead, the other missing a leg.
HR: “Shit! Do you know where Eric (Contact) is?”
Slave: “W-why? P-please don’t tell me you’re here to torture me too…”
HR: “No! Your brothe-”
Eric: “FRIEND! It’s good to see you again! I knew you wanted some blood shed on this worthless piece of meat!”
A long pause, with the Rogue just staring at his contact.
HR: “Eric, I have three options for you…”
Eric, who knows what’s going on when he says that: “… Friend, please, i’ll pay you double…”
HR: “I kinda lied about the third option this time.”
Eric: “Why, you know i’m good on the money!”
HR: “IT’S FOR THE CITY, ERIC. I FUCKING LIVE HERE!”
Hogwarts. The school in which we send our children to when the time comes for them to learn magic, the school we went to ourselves when we were just children. It was a safe haven all throughout the war against You-Know-Who, but is it still safe?
How can it be, when there is a student missing?
“We didn’t notice at first,” a sixth year Gryffindor said when asked about his missing roommate, “He keeps different hours then us - comes in real late and heads out early. He likes to walk around the grounds, see?”
In fact, it was a sixth year Hufflepuff that first noticed the Gryffindor was missing.
“I didn’t really worry at first,” the female Hufflepuff, a friend of the missing student, said, “Sometimes he’ll skip meals and even classes to go help Hagrid with whatever needs doing, Hagrid’s never complained and he always keeps up with his work so the teachers never stopped him. The thing is, he never misses Care of Magical Creature - it’s his favorite class and the only one we share so we make a point to go since it’s hard to spend time together otherwise - but that day he did. And I just knew something was wrong.”
The student went straight to Professor McGonagall, the Deputy Headmistress and Gryffindor House Head, who in turn went to the Headmaster when a quick search failed to locate the missing Gryffindor.
Headmaster Dumbledore canceled several classes so that more teachers could help do a more thorough search that brought them to the Forbidden Forest.
Sources say that Professors McGonagall and Flitwick accompanied Mister Hagrid into the forest to search for the student but there’s yet to be any news on whether he - or his body - has been found.
Our sources also say that Headmaster Dumbledore did not partake in the search due to informing the student’s family- whom have all declined to comment but are understandably distressed about the situation - of the situation.
Is this a simple tale of a student whom wandered too far into the Forbidden Forest? Or is this a more complex story of some nefarious plot targeting this poor sixth year Regardless, the question on all of our minds is this:
♪ At first I was afraid, I was petrified. Kept thinking I could never live without you by my side ♫
Ignis: … Gladio:
But then I spent so many nights just thinking how you did me wrong- I grew strong…
Ignis: Gladio- Gladio:
And I learned how to get along-
Ignis: Gla- Gladio: And so you’re back
From outer space
♪ ♫ I just walk in to find you here with that sad look upon your face
♪ Ignis: If you could- Gladio: I should have changed that stupid lock, I should have made you leave your key-
Ignis: For the love of- Gladio: If I had known for just one second you’d be back to bother me
Ignis: I can- Gladio: GO ON NOW GO
Ignis: Gladiolus Amicitia, Gladio: WALK OUT THE DOOR
Ignis: Listen to m- Gladio: JUST TURN AROUND NOW
Ignis: I’m trying to- Gladio: CAUSE YOU’RE NOT WELCOME ANYMORE
Ignis: When I said I was leaving this morning I meant to work, not leaving you, you twat. Gladio: … Gladio: Ah.
Standing at the sink, you washed potatoes as you decided what you wanted for dinner. Clint laid curled up at your feet, dozing off. He had become lazy in his old age, opting to stay close to you and sleep most of the time, though he still got bursts of energy, particularly when Jesse was home.
It had been two weeks since you had heard from the cowboy, but with him new profession, that wasn’t abnormal. After Jesse had left Overwatch, he had stayed with you. There were people that weren’t too happy about his leaving, people Jesse said could cause him a lot to trouble. Luckily, Jesse had never told anyone about you, about his visits, about where you lived. Taking advantage of this, he stayed with you.
That is, until the fall of Overwatch. You were with him when he heard, you had both seen it on the news. Jesse hadn’t broken down, not immediately at least. As the names of the dead flashed across the screen, you had seen it, clear as day. Gabriel Reyes. You looked over at Jesse, not sure what to expect. Tears. Pain. Sorrow. But instead, he just stood there, stoic and somber. For the rest of the day he remained like that, unwilling to talk about what had happened. But that night, in the darkness of your room, in the comfort of your bed, he broke.
Clutching at you with a desperate grip, Jesse fell apart in your arms. You had never seen him like this. When you had buried his father two years ago, he didn’t shed a single tear, showed no sorry. Simply threw the dirt upon his coffin and walked away. But now, the toughest man you had ever known lay crying soft, broken sobs in your arms, tears running free as he clung to you for dear life. It was two months after that night that Jesse finally ventured beyond the safety of your land. With Overwatch gone, he figured he’d be safe to go out into the world again, seeking his own form of justice. That’s when Jesse started bounty hunting.
He was good at it. Taking out criminals and turning them in, dead or alive. He was making some good money. Sadly, it meant it was harder to judge when he would be home. Depending on who he set his sights on, it could be a week or two, or it could be a couple months. But he seemed happy. He felt like he was making a difference again. And with every bad guy he captured, he seemed to be healing. Slowly, his laid back attitude returned, his flirtatious smile easier to come by.
You missed the days when he would call often, but your time with him was savored, with Jesse making a point of bringing you presents and showering you with affections when he returned. But despite the occasional loneliness, you were happy. Jesse, the reckless boy who raised hell as a youth had now grown up into the man you always knew he would be. And, even if only in spirit at times, he was by your side. You couldn’t be prouder of him.
As the roar of an old motorcycle grew louder, a large smile grew across you face. At your feet, Clint jumped up, barking excitedly as he pranced around the kitchen.
“Daddy’s home.” You told him, abandoning your work, opting to meet Jesse at the door. Opening the screen door, you enjoyed the light breeze as the cowboy smacked the kickstand into place with his boot. He now wore a bright red serape around his shoulders, going along with that silly hat to complete his cowboy look.
“Welcome home.” You called, walking down the steps to meet him as he swung his leg over his bike. Looking over at you, his eyes were tired, distant as he puffed on his cigar. As you came to stand before him, your arms wrapped around him, hugging him tight as you enjoyed his warmth. It was a moment or two before the man reciprocated, his hand splaying across your back as he nuzzled into the top of your head.
“Hey.” His voice was quite, empty as he responded. Rubbing your hands across his back, you nuzzled into his chest, hoping he would hold you closer.
“You have perfect timing. I was just about to start dinner. Chicken and mashed potatoes sound good to you?” his grip on you back tightened, arm pulling you close as you smiled into his shirt. “Or I could make some chicken and dumplings. I know you love those.” Your smile dropped and the man’s body enveloped you, leaning over your smaller frame as he pulled you painfully close, his body racked with small tremors. “Jesse? Jesse, what’s wrong?” frightened, you tried to pull away, tried to get a look at the man’s face, but his grip was too tight.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” He muttered, breathing forced as he clung to you. With a harsh shove, you were able to force him off you, hands moving up to cup his cheeks as you stared into his eyes. They were fearful, distressed as he breathed heavy.
“Jesse, what’s wrong? What happened? Please tell me.” But he couldn’t. Closing his eyes, he pulled away from your touch, turning away as he grimaced. You were afraid, mind conjuring images of terrible things as you wondered what had a hold of the cowboy. But as you reached out to him, you realized what had him so shooken.
“Jesse! Where is your arm?” As you pulled back his serape, you got a clear look at the mans left arm. Or at least, what left of it.
From the elbow down, nothing remained where there had once been a strong and dexterous limb. At the end of his bicep was a gnarled mess of scar tissue. Your heart stopped at the sight, stomach tightening as you stared at what had become of his arm.
“I’m so sorry.” Pulling away, Jesse hid the stub behind his back, eyes filled with shame as he stepped away from you. “I got reckless. I didn’t know there were so many of them.” His voice had a quiver to it that shook you to your core. Moving forward, your arms were wrapped around his neck before he could take another step back.
“Oh Jesse, hunny.” Pulling him close, his hat fell to the ground as you ran your fingers through his hair, an act that always calmed him when he was upset. “It’s ok, Jesse. It’s going to be ok.” The man remained unmoving, unsure whether to push you away or cling to you as the feeling of your hand petting him lowered his defenses. Finally, the man gave into you, good arm squeezing you as he buried his face into your neck.
“I can’t shoot anymore. I can’t be a hero. I’ve let you down.” You struggled to support him as the man leaned more of his weight on you. Pulling back, you looked the man in the eyes, frightened by the hopelessness that hid just behind those brown orbs.
“Jesse, no. You could never let me down. I am so proud of all the things you’ve done. We’ll get past this. You’re alive. Your home. That’s all I care about. Jesse, I love you.” Jesse wanted to believe you, wanted to trust that things would be alright, that one day he would look back and see this as just a bump in the road, but right now, in the moment, overcome by his loss, he didn’t see how that could ever be possible.
He was damaged goods now. Half a man. It had been a struggle for him just to get back to you. He had never before had difficult riding his bike, but with fifteen pounds missing from one side, he struggled to balance. And his livelihood? He could still shoot, but with one hand, he couldn’t dead eye enemies, couldn’t fight off opponents in hand to hand combat. And god had reloading been a bitch without his left hand. He was useless. He couldn’t protect anyone. Couldn’t redeem himself. Couldn’t provide for you. What good was he without his arm? There was nothing he could possibly give you.
“Well, I guess it got rid of that tattoo you hated so much.” His attempt at humor fell flat as you lead him into the house, Clint waiting eagerly at the door to meet you.
The next couple of days were a struggle for Jesse. Every day tasks now far more difficult as he attempted to relearn simple things that he had always taken for granted. Getting dressed, brushing his teeth, making food, going for runs, showering, even lighting his cigar was a challenge. You helped his as best you could, rearranging the house to make things easier for him, buying him cloths with out buttons on them, doing an little thing you could to make things easier for him.
After finding him angrily fumbling to open a jar of pickles, you had taken over all the cooking, too many food containers proving near impossible to open single handedly. It had been so long since you had seen this much anger in Jesse. Everything frustrated him,
Though he knew his arm was gone, knew there was nothing bellow his elbow, no one had bothered to tell his brain that. Many nights he lay up awake, tossing and turning as the phantom pains convinced him that his left arm was trapped in an ever tightening vice, electricity surging painfully through his fingertips. He tried not to wake you, not wanting to bother you with his shortcomings. But more nights then he’d like, his grunts and groans of pain would cause you to stir. His arm was gone, wasn’t that enough. Why did he have to suffer this pain in addition to his loss. You would stay up with him, massaging the wound in an attempt to make the pain dissipate, but he never had the heart to tell you it did nothing.
Once, while making love in the kitchen, he had had you bent over the table enjoying the feeling of you for the first time since he had returned. But as he reached to pull you back, he lost his balance, toppling over as his imaginary left arm reached out to catch him. Unfortunately, his chin collided with the very real counter. Embarrassed and frustrated, a flurry of obscenities filled the kitchen. But you were patient with him, kneeling beside him as you kissed his jaw, moving down to kiss the stump he cursed as words of bitterness and self loathing gave way to insecurity and fear.
That was the worst part. That his arm never really felt gone. Every morning he woke up, thinking he could lean over and stroke your cheek with his missing hand. He still tried to pick thing up with his left arm, tried to put on his clothes with the imaginary hand, reaching for his cigar with his stump.
One day, as you were up on a stool putting grocery’s away in the top cupboard, your foot slipped, causing you to fall back. Jesse saw, lunging out to catch you, to save you from a hard fall. Only, it was his left arm that reached out. As your body smacked against the hard floor, a groan of pain escaping you, it all came crashing down on him.
“God fucking damnit!!” Jesse yelled, startling you as he stood over you, face contorted in anger and grief. “Mother fucking bitch! Useless piece of- Shit fucking ass fuck!” His curses stopped making sense as he shouted out every foul word and angry phrase he had ever heard in a jumble of slurs. You were frightened by his anger, not sure how to react.
“I-it’s alright Jesse! I’m alright.” But your words were lost to him, unheard as he sunk deeper into his own self hatred and despair.
“Why am I so useless? If I just had my fucking arm!” As anger consumed him, he felt ready to explode, needing to lash out at something, anything. Chairs went flying, glasses shattering to scatter across the floor as the table was overturned. You scooted away frantically, terrified at his outburst. “You can’t even fucking protect her!” Turning, he slammed his fist into the counter with a sickening crack, and you could see the pain it caused in his face, despite the anger that still raged.
“Jesse!” you cried out, jumping up to drape over him as he fell to his knees, his fury leaving him drained.
“You’re worthless. Fucking worthless.” he muttered, too lost in his pain to recognize your touch. “Everyone would have been better off if you had died that day.” Your heart broke, tears unrestrained as you clutched fiercely at the man.
“Don’t say that! Don’t you dare say that! I need you, Jesse! You can’t leave me alone like that! You promised you’d always come back! I love you, Jesse! You have to stay with me!” Shouting, your body shielded him from the world, your tears falling into his lap as you sobbed. Through the cloud of despair and sorrow, your words started to reach him as you whimpered in his ear. “Please don’t say that Jesse. I could never smile again if I lost you. We’ll get through this. We’ll be happy again. Stay with me. Please, just stay with me Jesse.” Overcome by his actions, by the reality of his life now, the man went to bury his face in his hands, but was met by only one. You were tired, in every aspect of the word, but still you comforted him as best you could, holding him, saying whatever you thought might reach him, promising him future happiness that you weren’t sure you believed yourself.
Eventually, Jesse let you guide him to bed, undressing him before the both of you crawled into bed. In your arms, Jesse finally found rest from his troubles, his exhaustion so overpowering that even the phantom pains couldn’t keep him up. As you lay there, hands rubbing over his body in an attempt at comfort, you wondered how long you could keep this up. How long could you endure this man’s suffering. As you drifted off to sleep, one thought lingered in your mind, indomitable and dangerous.
This couldn’t continue.
Despite your overwhelming fatigue, you got up early the next morning before the sun had even thought about raising, finishing up your chores in time to cook breakfast. The food was prepared and laid out on the table before you went to wake Jesse. The man begrudgingly rolled out of bed, not even bothering to get dressed as he trudged to the kitchen, falling heavy in one of the chairs as he gave a small noise of protest. The cowboy didn’t say a word as he ate. You weren’t sure if his silence stemmed from exhaustion or embarrassment or a lack of things to say, but a part of you was grateful for the quiet.
As you finished up your food, you left your plate in the sink, telling the man you would wash them later. If you left the dish there, he would be less likely to try to wash his on his own, making things easier on both of you. Giving him a kiss on the forehead, you told him that you would be going into town, and weren’t sure when you would be back. The man said nothing as he bit into a piece of toast, his eyes distant and hollow. A part of you felt bad for leaving him like that, but you weren’t sure what you could do to help at this point.
You had never been good at comforting people. You knew how to deal with wound, knew how to address snake bites, knew how to handle broken bones, hell you could even perform tracheotomies. Emotions however, were a different story. Reading people had never been a strong suit of yours, often opting to be alone instead of interacting with others. Jesse had always been the exception to the rule.
The cowboys directness and unreserved character had always put you at ease. With Jesse, you knew where he stood. You didn’t have to read him, didn’t have to analyze or dissect, it was always written all over his face. If he liked someone, you knew it, if he didn’t, then everybody knew it. It had always been so easy. But the Jesse you saw now, the Jesse that laid on your couch all day, the Jesse that showed no interest in the things that used to bring him such joy, the Jesse that never smiled, he was a stranger to you.
The bell on the door clanged a cheerful tune as you walked through the door, unfamiliar smells greeting you as you took a deep breath. The shop was empty. Not surprising on a Sunday morning. Folks around here took church very seriously. You should have been there right now. But instead you were here, doing this. Nervously, you took a few more steps into the shop.
This had been a candy shop when you were a kid. Mr. Mercer had owned the shop running it since the beginning of time, or so you had thought as a child. Whenever your grades had been good enough you dad used to give you a couple bucks and let you go down to this shop to pick up a treat. You’re mother had always been strictly against sweets, so those rare delights had been a secret, just for you and your father. But Mr. Mercer had passed away many years ago and with no children to carry on his work, the shop had been sold.
As you walked up to the counter, looking around for any signs of life, you heard a familiar voice call out to you from some back office.
“Coming. I’m coming.” As a door behind the counter opened, a man emerged that you hadn’t seen in nearly a decade.
As you stood at the other side of the counter, Mark was momentarily frozen in place, eyes wide with surprise as he recognized you. You offered a weak smile, not sure how to approach the situation. It had been nine years since you had last seen the man, he was older looking now. He had changed his hair, and grown a neatly trimmed mustache, it was different from the clean shaven face you remembered, but you liked it. He was just as handsome as you remembered.
“Hey.” You said softly, giving a small wave. You honestly weren’t sure how this was going to go. You wouldn’t be surprised if he turned you away.
“Now there’s a face I haven’t seen in a long time.” Stepping around the counter, he was in front of you, holding you, before you knew it. His hug was warm, comforting. Returning the gesture, you felt like no time had passed at all, instantly picking up on the years of closeness and understanding you had shared with the man. “It’s been too long.” He muttered, giving you one last squeeze before stepping back.
“It has. You seem well. I hear the shop is doing good. Everyone at church talks about what a success you’ve become.” You shared comfortable smiles, watching each other as you picked things back up.
“It’s an honest living. I’m afraid everybody likes to blow my ‘success’ a bit out of proportion though.” His eye’s were bright as he looked around at the place “What about you? I hear your running Mrs. Jodeen’s ranch now.”
“Yeah, it’s a lot of hard work, but I love it. The house is payed off and the cattle bring in good money every season, so I’m pretty well set.” Mark had always been so easy to talk to, so good at making people comfortable.
“I’ll be honest with you, I never thought I’d see you again.” It was a sobering look that overtook his face, eyes soft and warm as they looked at you.
“Well, if I’m being honest with you, I didn’t come here for 'just’ a visit.” Mark seemed intrigued by your words, leaning back against the counter as you waited for you to continue speaking. For better or worse, you wanted to give this a shot.
It was dark by the time you got home, the stars making their appearance one by one in the navy sky as you walked up the creaking steps. As you walked in the front door, you saw Jesse, a lump on the couch as he watched tv, his serape draped over him so he wouldn’t have to see the stump that plagued him. Giving him a kiss on top of his head, you ran your fingers through his hair, massaging his scalp as you leaned over him.
“How was your day?” a raised beer glass, mostly empty, was all you got in response. “Is the pain bad?” Closing his eyes, Jesse gave a small nod. You knew when he didn’t speak it was bad news. That was when it hurt the most. “Want me to give you a massage?” You asked, already starting to kneed the muscles of his shoulders with your trim fingers. Shaking his head, Jesse continued to stare at the screen, unable, or unwilling to make eye contact. And tonight, you were ok with that. “Is there anything I can do for you?” Again he shook his head. Giving him another soft kiss on the head, you wandered into the kitchen to do the dishes that had accumulated throughout the day.
After that day, you started to go out more and more. It seemed like every two or three days, you would run into town, staying out for large portions of the day before coming home with groceries or supplies for the ranch. Jesse didn’t like it, not that he would admit that. He was starting to feel lonely whenever you left, having nothing to do but lounge on the couch, watching tv and drinking. He couldn’t even rewatch his favorite old cowboy movies, the memory of what his life used to be too fresh, too painful to revisit. He wanted you here, wanted to see you smile, hear your laugh, know you were still happy, even if saddled with the pathetic man he had become, but he could never bring himself to voice these thoughts. That’s why, whenever you came home, he just lay there, unable to speak as you went about your business.
After a while, you were spending more time in town then you were at home. Most days, you’d walk in the door long after dark, not even having purchases to show for your day spent out. Now, Jesse was never book smart, but he was people smart. He knew you weren’t going shopping, weren’t running errands. But he played it off like he saw nothing, not having the conviction to confront you.
As his days of beer turned into days of whiskey, Jesse couldn’t shake the feeling that you were avoiding him. Did he disgust you now? Were you tired of his endless neediness? Tired of a man who couldn’t take care of himself? Did you no longer yearn for him the way you used to?
Desperately, Jesse tried to drown out these thoughts, reminding himself that you had always been there, would always be there. You were the one constant in his life. Somewhere along the way, Jesse had become aware of the distinct possibility that you were cheating on him. But he would always force the thought out of his mind, the idea too frightening for him to face. Over and over again he would reassure himself, you would never do that to him.
But as time passed, and you came to be gone every day now, he could no longer deny the obvious. Every day you came home with a light in your eyes and a bright smile, the same look he used to inspire in you. You didn’t smell the same anymore, a faint, unfamiliar odor always lingering on your skin.
When he did work up the nerve to ask you where you had been, you would ramble off some vague excuse, unable to meet his eyes. His nights were spend sleeping on the couch, unable to stand the smell that lingered on you, his days drowned in whiskey as he sat in that lonely house.
Not even bothering to get dressed anymore, Jesse spent all of his time in boxers and a t-shirt, showering seldom, and eating only the premade meals you left for him. The drinking didn’t help the phantom pains, but it helped the emotion pain, dulling him till he didn’t care anymore.
Deep down, Jesse couldn’t even deny that a part of him couldn’t blame you for seeking comfort in another man. He was worthless. Nothing but a shell of the hero he used to be. You had once dreamed of greatness for him, but now he couldn’t deliver on that. He knew you were disgusted by him, repulsed. Lord knew he was. He had nothing to offer you. He should just leave, but he was too much of a coward to even do that. You were the only home he had, and as much as he knew you’d be better off without him, he was too scared to leave you, to lose you. So there he sat, planted in that couch, drinking his problems away as he stared blankly at the tv, trying to forget about the useless sack of shit he had become.
That’s how you found him, already halfway to drunk as you walked in the door, a joyous smile on your lips and a song in your heart. Carrying in a large box, you walked over to the cowboy, standing in front of the tv so he couldn’t ignore you like he always did.
“Hey Jesse.” Your voice was chipper as the man continued to ignore you, tipping back his whiskey bottle as he took another swig. “Jesse, I want to talk to you.” Taking the remote, you turned the tv off, snatching the bottle from his hand.
“Hey.” He protested, finally making eye contact as he glared at you. Readjusting the cumbersome box, you were unhindered by the cruelty in his eyes.
“Don’t ignore me Jesse.” He grimaced slightly at being called out, instinctively firing back, going on the defensive.
“What’s in the box? A present from your new boyfriend.” He regretted his words, this not being how he wanted to start this conversation. In fact he didn’t even want to have this conversation.
“What?” You questioned, flustered and confused as Jesse’s eyes left yours, not feeling prepared for this.
“Just leave me alone.” He muttered, reaching for the remote, but you held it out of reach.
“No, Jesse. This is important.”
She’s leaving me. She’s going to kick me out. I’m no use to her anymore and she’s finally had enough. It was just a matter of time. But as you put the large box in his lap, your eyes were warm, excited even as they looked at him.
“What is this?” Jesse asked in confusion.
“Open it.” you prompted, hands clasped together as you watched him eagerly.
Jesse gave you a puzzled look, but when you offered him no further answer, he gave in. As he removed the lid, he just stared at the contents of the box, so many questions swirling in his head.
“It’s a prosthetic.” You announced, unnerved by the cowboy’s silence as he just stared.
In the box, on top of a pillow, lay a metal arm. Shiny and pristine, besides the lack of skin, it was so human looking it was almost creepy. “I wanted to have it sooner, but there were parts that had to be specially ordered. It should do everything a real hand can and a few more things. It’s made out of this special metal that’s really strong, but light weight, so it wont be too heavy for you.” Jesse ran his fingers along the back of the hand, across the skull on the forearm. “The skull I had added as a decoration.” you admitted, a little embarrassed. “I thought it would look bad ass and intimidating. Sorry if it’s a bit silly. We can have it changed if you don’t like it. But this was made specifically with fighting in mind. It’s super strong. You should be able to able to tear through steel with just this hand, or so I’m told. And its quick, so you’ll be able to dead eye people again. You can continue bounty hunting if you want. You can shoot again.”
“You had this made?” Jesse asked quietly, face still down turned as he looked over the present.
“Yeah.” you answered nervously. You had been anticipating more excitement at the prospect of regaining his livelihood. “I went to a robotics engineer, but I oversaw everything to make sure it was exactly what you needed.”
“I though you were cheating.” you were awe struck as Jesse looked up at you, vulnerable and questioning as tears ran the length of his face. His eyes held so much sorrow, so much fear, finally letting it all loose as he admitted his deepest worry to you. You hadn’t realized he was plagued by these thoughts, hadn’t considered that while you were out collecting parts and pieces for this, he was at home, alone to stew in his own fears and self loathing. You had been so absorbed in making this perfect, you had forgotten to tend to the man, leaving him to his own devices as you neglected him. “I thought you found another man. A real man.” Before you knew it, he was standing, the metal arm falling to the ground as he wrapped himself around you, burying you in his embrace. “I thought I lost you.” His voice was meek, fearful as he muttered into your hair.
“Oh, Jesse.” quickly embracing him, you rubbed your hands all over him, filled with remorse for the torment he had suffered at your absence. “I’m here. I’m not going anywhere. There’s no one I want but you.” Kissing all over his face, you wiped away his tears, looking deep into his eyes and regretting the pain you had caused him. “I’m so sorry I left you alone. I’m here now. I won’t leave you alone again.”
Jesse cursed himself for the things he had thought, the images his mind had conjured. All this time he had let himself believe that you were finding your comfort in the arms of another, but you had been slaving away to bring him this present. Present wasn’t the right word. You had given him his life back. Not only had you stood by him through thick and thin, not only had you supported him at his lowest, you had made him whole again, working tirelessly to restore him to his former glory. Like so many times before, you had never given up on him, even when he had. How many times now had you saved him from himself?
“Thank you.” Before you could respond, he had your lips, kissing you deeply, all the love and passion and appreciation you’d been missing over the last two months pouring out in that one kiss. As his hand began to wander your body, you felt light headed, his kiss taking your breath away as he relearned every inch of you.
“J-Jesse” you gasped into his mouth, fighting for air as he pulled at your cloths. “We still need to have it attached.” You broke from his lips just long enough to protest before he reclaimed you, making it clear he wasn’t letting you go any time soon.
“It can wait.” He growled into your mouth. “I’m not done showing you how thankful I am.” Picking you up, he never broke the kiss as he carried you off to the bedroom.
Jesse had been more lively then you had expected. But finally, three rounds and one shower later you found yourself walking into the small robotics shop. You hadn’t yet told the cowboy who would be attaching his new arm. You knew it would have been polite to tell Jesse back at the house, but you had worried if he knew, he would refuse to come. You knew he wasn’t that childish anymore, but his spirits were so high now, you wanted to stall ruining that for as long as you could. A part of you hoped he might not even remember Mark. He hadn’t recognized him when last they had seen each other, and that had been over ten years ago. Maybe you would get lucky.
As you entered the shop, a few of the customers spared you a glance, eyes widening as they saw Jesse. He had become a bit of a legend around town. Elders still saw him as the hotheaded brat that raised hell in their quiet little town, but the youth only knew him as one of the heroes of Overwatch. You hoped Jesse wouldn’t notice their stares as you both walked back to the counter. You lucked out. Carrying his new treasure in his good arm, Jesse was too lost in his own daydreams of renewed heroism to notice the eyes that followed him. It was so good to see him smiling again.
As you approached the counter, you saw Mark talking with Mr. Bannin, a local farmer. Looking over, Mark offered you a soft smile, giving you a brief wave and holding up a finger to signal he would just be a minute before returning to his conversation. You gave a soft nod, grateful that he was still making time for you despite it being an hour past your agreed upon time. You were startled as Jesse suddenly grabbed at you awkwardly, almost dropping the box that held his arm as he pulled you towards him.
“What’s he doing here?” Jesse watched Mark untrustingly, body ridged as he stood on guard. Biting your lip, you cursed Jesse’s untimely memory.
“Who?” You knew it was a stupid question, but a part of you still hoped this could be avoided.
“That’s the pansy boy you used to go with. Why is he here?” As Jesse looked down at you, you could see it in his eyes, there was no way around this. Moving to stand in front of him, you shushed him, not wanting to draw attention to yourself. The people of this town were kind and friendly, but they could be nosy.
“He owns this shop. Mark is a robotics engineer.” You explained, unnerved by how untrusting Jesse’s eyes were.
“You mean this is the guy you’ve been with this last month?”
“Jesse, please, don’t make a scene. Mark worked really hard to make this for you. And he didn’t charge me half of what it was worth. He did us a really big favor.” The cowboy grew quiet, though his face was still stern, eyes watching the other man intently.
Finally, with a laugh and a pat on the back, Mark left the farmer, walking over to the two of you as he offered a friendly smile.
“Long time no see, McCree.” he greeted the other warmly, though he did not extend a hand for the cowboy to shake, recognizing his lack of a free hand and not wanting to offend him. Stepping closer to you, Jesse offered the other no smile, instead pursing his lips as he tried not to scowl at the man.
“Yeah. It has been.” He muttered, his disdain clear to everyone in the shop.
“Well if you want to step in back I have everything all set up for us.” Mark paid the man’s attitude no mind, waving you both towards a back room. Jesse rested what remained of his left arm across your back, ushering you forward as he eyed Mark.
“Come on, darlin’.” You winced as he put extra emphasis on the pet name. After all these years, Jesse was still possessive of you when he felt threatened. You weren’t sure if you were annoyed, or a little happy that after all these years, that part of him still remained.
The room you walked into was clearly a workshop. Strange tools and parts hung everywhere, shiny and foreign to you. In the center of the room was a work bench Mark had cleared off and covered with a tarp, clearly where he intended to perform the 'operation’.
“If you could sit up here for me, please.” Patting the table, Mark pulled over a tray of tools you didn’t recognize.
Mark Johnson Sr. had been a doctor. You remembered many dinners where he would regale you with stories of tricky medical procedures he had done. You weren’t surprised that his son had picked up a lot of those skills. Or at least enough to perform a simple prosthetic attachment. You weren’t sure what all was involved with it, but you knew with modern medicine, it wouldn’t be a very invasive procedure.
Placing the box on the table, Jesse hopped up, his legs swinging out like a child as he scooted back. Once he was settled his hand reached out, taking yours and pulling you close as his eyes watched Mark. You gave a sigh. You couldn’t say you were surprised.
“This shouldn’t take too long. I’m just going to use a local anesthetic. The procedure itself shouldn’t hurt, but sometimes when attaching the mechanics to the nerve endings it can cause your phantom pains to flare up. Most of the time the anesthetic helps with that.” Jesse still watched the other untrusting, eyeing the shot he pulled out. “Can I get you to take your shirt off?” As Jesse’s eyes moved to you, you knew where this was going.
“You want to help me, sweetheart?” You knew if he wanted to, he could undo the buttons himself. The cowboy just wanted you to undress him in front of the only other man you had ever dated. You had half a mind to refused, but it had been so long since Jesse had been this lively, you didn’t want to see that falter.
Moving to stand between his legs, you pulled is shirt out of his pants, nimble fingers making quick work of the buttons. It didn’t take long, but you were distinctly aware that Jesse was giving Mark the biggest arrogant grin while you stripped him of his shirt.
“Thanks, babe.” Leaning down, Jesse captured you lips in a kiss and you knew it was more for the other man than you.
“Alright, if I can get you to lay back.” Mark was unfazed by the cowboy’s show, busying himself with his work. Feeling sufficiently triumphant, Jesse let you go, turning to lay down across the table.
Over the past month of drinking and living on the couch, Jesse’s muscles had lost some of their tone, and he had gained a little weight around the midsection, but as he laid back on the makeshift operating table, you could tell he was sucking in his gut, trying to look impressive as the other man studied his wound. It was almost cute. Staying by Jesse’s side, you held his hand as Mark administered the shot. In a minute or two, when his patients arm was fully numb, the operation proceeded.
It was fascinating to watch. No cuts, no intrusions, no blood. You had no clue what was going on as Mark used all sorts of strange and foreign tools. A part of you wanted him to explain what he was doing, but you didn’t ask, not wanting to slow things down.
You were surprised with Jesse’s patience. Never one for sitting still, the cowboy didn’t squirm or fidget through the whole course of the hour long procedure. Briefly, you wondered if he had grown accustomed to sitting for medical attention from his time in Overwatch.
“All done.” Mark announced, giving you both a smile as he stood up, stretching his back. Sitting up, Jesse admired the piece of metal that was now attached to him. Narrowing his eyes as if consecrating heavily, the cowboy stared at the hand. With the squeak of metal against metal, the fingers moved slightly. Jesse’s face lit up.
“HA!” He exclaimed, clenching and unclenching the hand as looked at it from every angle. Delight danced in his eyes as he toyed with the dexterity of the hand.
“I would be careful what you use that hand on for a while. It possesses more strength than any human, you could easily break things or hurt people. So give yourself time to adjust to the feeling of it.” Mark smiled warmly at the cowboy’s joy.
“Thank you Mark.” Your eyes were soft as they regarded the other. He had done so much for you. You knew you would never really be able to repay him for what he had given you.
“Glad I could help.” He spared you one last affectionate glance before addressing Jesse. “You call me if you have any trouble with it. I can make any adjustments you need.” Offering up a hand, you were surprised when Jesse eagerly took it, giving it a hearty shake as he grinned at the other.
“I’ll keep that in mind.” With that, Mark left to attend his shop, leaving the two of you alone.
You helped the cowboy get dressed. Not cause he needed you to, but because he was too distracted by his new limb to bother putting his shirt back on. Guading him out of the store and to the street, Jesse was all smiles as he flexed his mechanical arm.
“So what would you like to do first? We could go for a ride? Go fishi-” Six shots rang out, causing you to jump as the loud noise interrupted the quiet of the town. Quickly, men nearby drew their guns, women ducking as they looked around, children scurried off, and six birds fell hard to the ground.
Looking over you saw Jesse, eyes bright with glee, his gun in his hand as he studied the fowl he had dead eyed. He almost looked crazed, his smile wide and manic.
“Jesse!” you shouted, smacking him in the chest as he laughed with delight.
“I still got it.” You wanted to stay mad at him, to lecture him for causing such a commotion, but as the man smiled that child like smile, you couldn’t bring yourself to reprimand him.
“At least wait till we get home. You’re going to have the whole town in an uproar.” Holstering his gun, put his arm around your shoulder, smile never fading as he pulled you close.
“Sorry, darlin’. I’ll behave. I promise.”
You managed to get him home without further incident, Jesse whistling a happy tune the whole way. Once you had returned, you broke out the ammo. Taking all the empty beer bottles and whiskey jugs, you started lining them up on the fence post for the cowboy to shoot at. Just like you had all those years ago. You wondered if Jesse would ever get tired of smiling as the hours rolled by, the man shooting trick shot after trick shot. He was impressive.
As the day faded into night, Jesse showed no sign of quitting. You could still see his glowing grin illuminated by the light of his cigar as shot anything you put up for him. Finally, after hours of shooting, you approached the cowboy, laying a hand on his shoulder.
“Jesse, it’s pretty late. We should get some rest.” In a flash, his gun was holstered, his cigar thrown away before both his arms encircled you as he moved in close. Gentle kisses were lane all over your face and neck, his hands wandering you as he pressed against you.
“Thank you.” His voice was soft, but his words carried a weight to them that left you startled. “You always stand by me. You’ve given me everything. I really would be nothing without you. And here again, you’ve saved me.” Taking your lips, he kissed you so deeply you were forced to lean back. “I love you.” Wrapping your arms around his neck, you returned the kiss, tears of joy coming to your eyes as you regained the Jesse you knew and loved. He was back. “Now lets get inside. I want to thank you properly again.”
<b>Them:</b> What could you possibly dislike about 2ct? It's the twist that Yana has craftily made from the very beginning of the story, with subtly hints about the twin's existence and "Ciel's" true sin, tying into a masterpiece of a stor-<p/><b>Me:</b> The fact that Agni, who has been with us through the majority of the story, won't get a volume cover but some doppelganger, pale-faced, petty, freak-of-nature, cocky sauce-box will.<p/></p>
What if Petyr Baelish is the Night King from the future?
what do you mean? like he dies at the end of the season and gets turned into a White Walker, then betrays the Night King and becomes the new leader? lol. still a snake, even in death. or maybe he just gets turned by them, while being alive. ya know, like Craster’s babies. just because he’s sick of humanity. I dunno. it defo would be cool. but it would
presuppose not losing his head. literally. when they execute him, then please no beheading. cuz I’ve never seen a White without head. I guess that’s their weakness.
The letter from his daughter arrived at a most unfortunate time, when he was spending all waking moments trying to extricate Robert and the realm from yet another disaster of Robert’s own making. It took him three days after its arrival to finally read Shireen’s letter, recalling all the while Maester Cressen’s gentle rebuke that he should be writing more often to the wife and the daughter he left behind in Dragonstone.
I have found a splendid pet, Father, Shireen wrote, before adding, Actually, Patches was the one who found her for me, in Aegon’s Garden.
We have found a most splendid fool, his father had written about finding Patchface, another lifetime ago. The fool had survived while the parents of three young sons, one of them still a toddler tottering unsteadily on his feet, had not. The High Septon was fond of prattling on and on about how just the judgment of the gods was bound to be, but where was the justice in that?
Though, if Patchface were to perish now, Shireen would be inconsolable. Not that Stannis would have the least idea on how to even begin to try to console his grieving daughter. Her mother would know. Isn’t that what mothers are for?
Unbidden, the retreating figures of his own mother and father came to mind, his mother and father as he last saw them alive. Turn around! Let me see your faces for the last time, he always pleaded in his dream. They never did turn around, no matter how much he willed it. The sight of the backs of their heads seemed almost like a silent rebuke to Stannis, a judgment from the dead.
What kind of father have you turned out to be, Stannis?
Robert is worse!
Is that any consolation for us? Have we failed our sons so badly?
It is not your fault. Neither of you. We failed ourselves.
His eyes roamed through his daughter’s letter, not really seeing or understanding the words, until he reached a certain part. I hope she will be able to fly again, when her wings are healed. It must be sad and so lonely for a bird not to be able to soar in the sky like all her companions.
Stannis halted. He went back to the beginning of the letter, reading more carefully this time. The ‘splendid pet’ turned out to be a pigeon, a fallen bird with injured wings. Cook had wanted to put the pigeon out of its misery and serve it for dinner, but Shireen had run to her mother, promising to nurse the injured bird back to health herself, and Selyse had promptly put an end to the roasted pigeon notion.
She is not in too much pain, I hope. Maester Cressen said the ointment -
I hope. I hope. I hope, his daughter kept writing.
I hope you will find a suitable bride for Prince Rhaegar. I hope you will return home safely. I hope I will see you both very soon.
You foolish, foolish child, he thought, but whether he was actually thinking of his daughter, or of his younger self, or perhaps both, he would not have been able to enlighten even himself.
What should I name her, Father? Mother said you had a goshawk called Proudwing when you were a boy.
An ill-omen name if ever there was one, Stannis scoffed. Her pigeon would never fly again. Or it would, and then it would swiftly leave her behind. Either way, it was bound to end in tears, thwarted hope and grave disappointment. The trick, he had finally learned, far too late, was to expect the worst, always, and then you would never be disappointed, would never have to suffer the recurring pain of disillusionment.
He knew what Cressen would say. The old maester would say that it was too cruel a lesson to be taught to a child, any child. But was it any crueler than leaving them vulnerable and defenseless against the cruelties of the gods?
But then again, how much had always expecting the worst truly protected him from disappointment and disillusionment? Or was that just another layer of illusion he had never managed to shed despite his best effort - the illusion that he was a man completely without illusion?
She may never fly again, your pigeon. You must be prepared for that possibility, he wrote his daughter.
But I hope she will, one day, he finally added, the words coming hard, like an old friend that had become a complete stranger.