usurpator

50 Rumors And Hooks...
  1. A bandit gang preys on wounded and weary adventurers as they straggle down the road from the dungeon to the city. 
  2. A black cloak was stolen from the Burnt Bridge tavern last night; sewn into the hem is a treasure map.
  3. A gigantic egg appeared in the town square last night. No one knows what might hatch out of it, but it’s going to happen soon.
  4. A deity walks the city streets disguised as a humble mortal. 
  5. A hot-tempered knight has promised all his lands to his brother if he is bested at the upcoming jousting tournament.
  6. A leading churchman has announced a heretical doctrine; his fellow priests have demanded that he recant, on pain of excommunication. 
  7. A wrestler named Drón Goldentress will perform three great quests for anyone who can beat her in a match. 
  8. Agitation grows in a neighboring land for a renewed war against the kingdom. 
  9. An eerie dog with glowing eyes stalks the city at night. The magnificent sorcerer Furioso was bitten by it, and now he can barely remember his own name.
  10. Ditchdiggers unearthed an ornate tin casket the other day. They can’t figure out how to open it, but won’t let anyone else try, either. 
  11. Drinking a poison surely meant for someone else, the meek baker Oswald dropped dead in a tavern last night. 
  12. During the day, the headsman’s daughter appears rather homely, but under the moonlight, she is the fairest young maiden in the realm.
  13. Every hundred years or so, a black, venomous rain falls on the city, killing hundreds of people. A recurrence is months overdue. 
  14. The Superordinate Six, a band of famed adventurers, have failed to return from an expedition to the Rat City ruins. 
  15. Goblins tunneled a good distance under the city walls last year, but the authorities covered it up. 
  16. Grave robbers have been digging up the bones of slain adventurers. They must be working for a lich or evil wizard. 
  17. Luriez the horse trader is auctioning off Bravo, a clever and magnificent steed. His former owner, a luckless mercenary, lost him in a dice game. 
  18. Magic items sold by Antesos Three-Beard have a peculiar way of finding their way back to his shop after the purchasers die. 
  19. Many of a famous knight’s heroic feats were in fact performed by his squire, a young girl dressed as a boy.
  20. Mercenaries have taken sanctuary in the temple; the high priests want them out but are forbidden by the tenets of their faith to expel them. 
  21. Pound for pound, the most valuable treasure in town is not silver or gold, but the cache of saffron hidden in the spice merchant’s shop. 
  22. Priestess Ciana has great healing powers, but those she raises from the dead sometimes take on her personality traits. 
  23. Pulsing green lights are frequently observed near the abandoned mines south of the city. 
  24. Recent rains flooded the catacombs beneath the city; strange things are floating to the surface.
  25. Someone is stealing all of the town’s church bells. 
  26. Somewhere in the city, the priceless Altar of Kych is hidden in plain sight.
  27. The armorer Casabon just received a shipment of Zhenish steel, which will make fine blades for those who can afford them.
  28. The astronomer Harun the Subtle reports sighting a circle of new red stars in the sky. The Royal Astrological Society has offered a reward to anyone who can conclusively explain the meaning of this omen.
  29. The beloved singer Dulari has fallen prey to a terrible illness, one the healers can’t cure. 
  30. The bullying city watchman Moyalva has been extorting money from the weak and helpless.
  31. The courtier Vivando has fallen out of favor with the king, who suspects him of having eyes for the princess.
  32. The exiled prince of Cadis unwisely dismissed a churlish servant who knows too much about his master’s business.
  33. The feathers that rained down on Beggar’s Alley last night came from the wings of battling archons.
  34. The floorboards beneath the Trembling Pig Inn are hollow and full of stolen gold.
  35. Pirates have disrupted grain shipments meant for the kingdom; starvation looms if traders cannot resupply in time.
  36. The high sheriff becomes violently enraged if anyone accuses him of having orc blood. 
  37. The king is a usurper who has the real heir to the throne chained up in his basement.
  38. The king plans to build new watchtowers around the city. Laborers, once desperate for work, will soon be hard to hire.
  39. The king’s chief minister plans to step down, making way for his clever but abrasive protégé. 
  40. The philosopher Frabreck has released another pamphlet arguing for the conquest of the orc lands, so that its peoples can be liberated from evil and placed under the king’s benevolent rule.
  41. The rancher Septimus is raising a flock of strange reptilian beasts on his farm.
  42. The retainers of an unpopular knight quelled an uprising on his lands by fi ring crossbows into an unarmed throng.
  43. The rich merchant Zaguant has learned that pirates have sold his son into slavery.
  44. The son and daughter of two rival merchant families eloped a few weeks ago. Both fathers offer a reward for the son: his father aims to protect him, but the girl’s wants him dead.
  45. Whenever a member of the murderous Lampedusa clan is slain, the weapon used to deal the death blow is permanently imbued with powerful magic.
  46. The young adventurer Brialda carries a shield bearing the crest of the Acatero family, even though, as an illegitimate daughter of that clan, she is not entitled to it. 
  47. An ancient throne lies buried in a field nearby. Anyone who sits on the throne for an entire night will rise from it a wise man or a lunatic.
  48. They say that if you listen long enough to the water lapping against the shore near the statue of King Brand, you will hear the name of an innocent person you are fated to kill. 
  49. They’re slaughtering more than just cows and sheep at the old abattoir down by the piers.
  50. Whenever ravens gather on the clock tower, a mighty hero dies. 
T’Challa Udaku Bio

Originally posted by softtroublemaker

Full Name: T’Challa Udaku

Known Relatives: T’Chaka (father, deceased), N’Yami (mother, deceased), Ramonda (step-mother), Hunter (adopted brother), Asiri the Wise (grandfather), Shuri (sister)

There are more but they are less relevant and probably won’t be in the Black Panther movie.

Early Life: His mother died during childbirth, then his father T’Chaka was remarried to Ramonda, who actually disappeared for a while when T’Challa was 8 because she was kidnapped, which the Udaku family did not realize until decades later.

How He Got His Powers: Black Panther is a ceremonial title given to the heirs of the throne but it must still be earned. T’Challa earned the title after his father’s death by defeating the leaders of various other Wakandan tribes for it. After he wins he is entitled to eat the special heart shaped herb which gives him his powers. In later versions of the story he had to track down and fight a black panther which he did so foolishly and before he was ready in order to prove he would be a better ruler than his brother which ultimately resulted in him losing his voice after having his throat ripped out by the panther.

Powers: acute senses, enhanced strength, speed, agility, stamina, durability, healing, and reflexes

Other Privileges and Such: As king of Wakanda, he has access to a vast collection of magical artifacts, advanced Wakandan technological and military hardware, as well as the support of his nation’s wide array of scientists, warriors, and mystics. The Wakandan military has been described as one of the most powerful on Earth. His attire is the sacred vibranium costume of the Wakandan Panther Cult. He is a skilled hunter, tracker, strategist, politician, inventor, and scientist. He has a PhD in physics from Oxford University. Considered one of the eight smartest people on the planet, he is a genius in physics and advanced technology, and is a brilliant inventor. He also has been granted the strength and knowledge of every past Black Panther. T'Challa is a rigorously trained gymnast and acrobat and is a master in various African martial arts as well as contemporary martial arts and fighting styles that belong to no known disciplines.

MCU Villains:

M’Baku - Also known as Man-Ape after he gains special powers and abilities from consuming the flesh of the legendary white ape. Ruler of the Jabari Tribe a recognized micronation within Wakanda’s borders. M'Baku was Wakanda’s greatest warrior second only to the Black Panther. He plotted to usurp the throne with the help of the outlawed White Gorilla cult who were ancient rivals of the Black Panther cult, which basically made them heretics since Panther worship is the state religion.

Erik Killmonger - He was born under the name N'Jadaka. When Ulysses Klaw and his mercenaries attacked Wakanda, they press-ganged N'Jadaka’s father into helping them; when Klaw was defeated, his father died and his family was exiled. N'Jadaka ended up in Harlem, New York, nursing a hatred against the supervillain and T'Challa, the king who’d exiled him. He changed his name to Erik Killmonger and studied at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, desperate to avenge his father’s death.

Fun Facts about Black Panther:

First black comic book hero in mainstream comics

He’s the wealthiest person in the Marvel universe

He actually predates the Black Panther Party

He debuted in an issue of Fantastic Four

He’s appeared in animated films since 1994

Has been a part of almost every major super team in Marvel

He was married to Ororo Munroe aka Storm (my OTP)

The Quinjet is actually designed and created by the Wakandan Design Group which is overseen by T’Challa

Briefly took over for Daredevil

He is also the king of the dead

Shuri eventually takes over the Black Panther crown and title

Personality Traits: determined, stubborn, loyal, bossy, protective, calm, disciplined, reserved, comes across as arrogant when he’s confident in his abilities, frequently described as “having the world’s greatest poker face”, dedicated

Internal Conflict:  Five Conflicting Traits of a Likable Hero.

1.  Flaws and Virtues 

I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but characters without flaws are boring.  This does not, as many unfortunate souls take it to mean, imply that good, kind, or benevolent characters are boring:  it just means that without any weaknesses for you to poke at, they tend to be bland-faced wish fulfillment on the part of the author, with a tendency to just sit there without contributing much to the plot.

For any character to be successful, they need to have a proportionate amount of flaws and virtues.

Let’s take a look at Stranger Things, for example, which is practically a smorgasbord of flawed, lovable sweethearts.

We have Joyce Byers, who is strung out and unstable, yet tirelessly works to save her son, even when all conventional logic says he’s dead;  We have Officer Hopper, who is drunken and occasionally callous, yet ultimately is responsible for saving the boy’s life;  We have Jonathan, who is introspective and loving, but occasionally a bit of a creeper, and Nancy, who is outwardly shallow but proves herself to be a strong and determined character.  Even Steve, who would conventionally be the popular jerk who gets his comeuppance, isn’t beyond redemption.

And of course, we have my beloved Eleven, who’s possibly the closest thing Stranger Things has to a “quintessential” heroine.  She’s the show’s most powerful character, as well as one of the most courageous.  However, she is also the show’s largest source of conflict, as it was her powers that released the Demogorgon to begin with.  

Would Eleven be a better character if this had never happened?  Would Stranger Things be a better show?  No, because if this had never happened, Stranger Things wouldn’t even be a show.  Or if it was, it would just be about a bunch of cute kids sitting around and playing Dungeons and Dragons in a relatively peaceful town.

A character’s flaws and mistakes are intended to drive the plotline, and if they didn’t have them, there probably wouldn’t even be a plot.

So don’t be a mouth-breather:  give your good, kind characters some difficult qualities, and give your villains a few sympathetic ones.  Your work will thank you for it.

2.  Charisma and Vulnerability

Supernatural has its flaws, but likable leads are not one of them.  Fans will go to the grave defending their favorite character, consuming and producing more character-driven, fan-created content than most other TV shows’ followings put together.

So how do we inspire this kind of devotion with our own characters?  Well, for starters, let’s take a look at one of Supernatural’s most quintessentially well-liked characters:  Dean Winchester.

From the get-go, we see that Dean has charisma:  he’s confident, cocky, attractive, and skilled at what he does.  But these qualities could just as easily make him annoying and obnoxious if they weren’t counterbalanced with an equal dose of emotional vulnerability. 

As the show progresses, we see that Dean cares deeply about the people around him, particularly his younger brother, to the point of sacrificing himself so that he can live.  He goes through long periods of physical and psychological anguish for his benefit (though by all means, don’t feel obligated to send your main character to Hell for forty years), and the aftermath is depicted in painful detail.

Moreover, in spite of his outward bravado, we learn he doesn’t particularly like himself, doesn’t consider himself worthy of happiness or a fulfilling life, and of course, we have the Single Man Tear™.

So yeah, make your characters beautiful, cocky, sex gods.  Give them swagger.  Just, y’know.  Hurt them in equal measure.  Torture them.  Give them insecurities.  Make them cry.  

Just whatever you do, let them be openly bisexual.  Subtext is so last season.

3.  Goals For the Future and Regrets From the Past

Let’s take a look at Shadow Moon from American Gods.  (For now, I’ll have to be relegate myself to examples from the book, because I haven’t had the chance to watch the amazing looking TV show.) 

Right off the bat, we learn that Shadow has done three years in prison for a crime he may or may not have actually committed.  (We learn later that he actually did commit the crime, but that it was only in response to being wronged by the true perpetrators.)  

He’s still suffering the consequences of his actions when we meet him, and arguably, for the most of the book:  because he’s in prison, his wife has an affair (I still maintain that Laura could have resisted the temptation to be adulterous if she felt like it, but that’s not the issue here) and is killed while mid-coital with his best friend.

Shadow is haunted by this for the rest of the book, to the point at which it bothers him more than the supernatural happenings surrounding him.  

Even before that, the more we learn about Shadow’s past, the more we learn about the challenges he faced:  he was bullied as a child, considered to be “just a big, dumb guy” as an adult, and is still wrongfully pursued for crimes he was only circumstantially involved in.

But these difficulties make the reader empathize with Shadow, and care about what happens to him.  We root for Shadow as he tags along with the mysterious and alternatively peckish and charismatic Wednesday, and as he continuously pursues a means to permanently bring Laura back to life.

He has past traumas, present challenges, and at least one goal that propels him towards the future.  It also helps that he’s three-dimensional, well-written, and as of now, portrayed by an incredibly attractive actor.

Of course (SPOILER ALERT), Shadow never does succeed in fully resurrecting Laura, ultimately allowing her to rest instead, but that doesn’t make the resolution any less satisfying.  

Which leads to my next example…       

4.  Failure and Success 

You remember in Zootopia, when Judy Hopps decides she wants to be cop and her family and town immediately and unanimously endorse her efforts?  Or hey, do you remember Harry Potter’s idyllic childhood with his kindhearted, adoptive family?  Oh!  Or in the X-Files, when Agent Mulder presents overwhelming evidence of extraterrestrial life in the first episode and is immediately given a promotion?  No?

Yeah, me neither.  And there’s a reason for this:  ff your hero gets what they want the entire time, it will be a boring, two-dimensional fantasy that no one will want to read.  

A good story is not about the character getting what they want.  A good story is about the character’s efforts and their journey.  The destination they reach could be something far removed from what they originally thought they wanted, and could be no less (if not more so) satisfying because of it.

Let’s look at Toy Story 3, for example:  throughout the entire movie, Woody’s goal is to get his friends back to their longtime owner, Andy, so that they can accompany him to college.  He fails miserably.  None of his friends believe that Andy was trying to put them in the attic, insisting that his intent was to throw them away.  He is briefly separated from them as he is usurped by a cute little girl and his friends are left at a tyrannical daycare center, but with time and effort, they’re reunited, Woody is proven right, and things seem to be back on track.

Do his efforts pay off?  Yes – just not in the way he expected them to.  At the end of the movie, a college-bound Andy gives the toys away to a new owner who will play with them more than he will, and they say goodbye.  Is the payoff bittersweet?  Undoubtedly.  It made me cry like a little bitch in front of my young siblings.  But it’s also undoubtedly satisfying.      

So let your characters struggle.  Let them fail.  And let them not always get what they want, so long as they get what they need.  

5.  Loving and Being Loved by Others

Take a look back at this list, and all the characters on it:  a gaggle of small town kids and flawed adults, demon-busting underwear models, an ex-con and his dead wife, and a bunch of sentient toys.  What do they have in common?  Aside from the fact that they’re all well-loved heroes of their own stories, not much.

But one common element they all share is they all have people they care about, and in turn, have people who care about them.  

This allows readers and viewers to empathize with them possibly more than any of the other qualities I’ve listed thus far, as none of it means anything without the simple demonstration of human connection.

Let’s take a look at everyone’s favorite caped crusader, for example:  Batman in the cartoons and the comics is an easy to love character, whereas in the most recent movies (excluding the splendid Lego Batman Movie), not so much. 

Why is this?  In all adaptions, he’s the same mentally unstable, traumatized genius in a bat suit.  In all adaptions, he demonstrates all the qualities I listed before this:  he has flaws and virtues, charisma and vulnerability, regrets from the past and goals for the future, and usually proportionate amounts of failure and success.  

What makes the animated and comic book version so much more attractive than his big screen counterpart is the fact that he does one thing right that all live action adaptions is that he has connections and emotional dependencies on other people.  

He’s unabashed in caring for Alfred, Batgirl, and all the Robins, and yes, he extends compassion and sympathy to the villains as well, helping Harley Quinn to ultimately escape a toxic and abusive relationship, consoling Baby Doll, and staying with a child psychic with godlike powers until she died.

Cartoon Batman is not afraid to care about others.  He has a support network of people who care about him, and that’s his greatest strength.  The DC CU’s ever darker, grittier, and more isolated borderline sociopath is failing because he lacks these things.  

 And it’s also one of the reasons that the Lego Batman Movie remains so awesome.


God willing, I will be publishing fresh writing tips every week, so be sure to follow my blog and stay tuned for future advice and observations! 

Stay back, I’ll protect you

Day One Hundred and Thirty-Two

-Some days, I interact with less than amiable guests, and I feel that there can be only very little good in the world. Some days, I am reminded of just how small a baby’s hands are, and I know that the world is not all that bad.

-Due to a series of injuries from the manliest of stunts and certainly not my own inadequacy as a functional human being, my thumbs spent the better half of my shift wrapped up in bright blue bandages. Despite the hit to my dexterity and disadvantage on all thumb-based maneuvers, the bonus to flair `checks that I received made it overall worthwhile.

-For the duration of his mother’s purchase, a boy threw each bag into the cart the second that I set it down. When asked why he was slam dunking the groceries, he explained that he was attempting to compete with me and my speed. Usually, I like to know when I am being challenged, but in this case, I did not mind. I still effortlessly slaughtered this usurper without the slightest clue.

-I witnessed the same skeleton of an elderly man walk into the store four times; however, I never once saw him leave. I do hope he escapes his time loop soon, as I have to close tonight, and I would rather not lock in such a tortured soul.

-A woman made certain that I knew I was lucky to have the job that I did, as it was air conditioned, and I was not in a ditch. This truly changed my perspective on life. The thought that I was not working in a ditch had never once occurred to me. The thought that I was, in fact, working in a ditch had never occurred to me, either, but I suppose it is always best to be cognizant of this sort of thing.

-Over the past week or so, I have been handed a great number of bills with the message, “Where is George?” scrawled on them. I do not know what sort of conspiracy is afoot, but I do not wish to be the one to tell these passionate hunters that the man they seek cannot be found, as Washington has been dead for several years now.

-A crow in the parking lot stumbled across the mother lode of fallen popcorn. I am thrilled by his good fortune, and I deeply enjoyed watching this lucky boy living his best life.

Samwell's Most Beautiful: HAUS EDITION
  • Jack: Actively avoids reporters. Wears loose sweatpants for the entire month leading up to publication, an intrepid young journalist still gets a picture of him squirting himself in the face with his water bottle, sweatpants riding REAL low. Top ten material right here
  • Bitty: Said he didn't care about the Swallow, so everyone assumed he wouldn't be in it. When the magazine comes out, Bitty is nowhere to be seen, but #100 is a photo of a perfectly baked pie. Suspicious.
  • Shitty: Runs naked out on the Haus lawn every time he sees a reporter (or an innocent photography student) oiled up and ready for his close up. The reporter retreats 9 times out of 10, but not before commenting on the strange pull he feels towards that mustache...just barely makes the list.
  • Ransom: Freshmen weren't even supposed to be in the running until one dedicated intern saw his friend request pop up on Facebook his first year...those cheekbones...those eyes...that smoking goddamn personality of his...Ransom is the undisputed king of the Samwell Most Beautiful List for two years. He has ascended to Godhood. Your fave could never.
  • Holster: Hasn't ever made the list. He's tried everything, washing cars shirtless, doing push-ups on the lawn, wearing soft sweaters in the winter and flirting very nonthreateningly with all the girls. Holster barges into the Samwell Swallow's office senior year with a photo of his rippling abs and demands to know why he's never been on the list. The editor looks him up and down, shrugs, and says "sorry; we have a no glasses policy". Holster may or may not scream.
  • Lardo: [REDACTED]
  • Dex: Only makes the list because he tutors the editor of the Samwell Swallow. He made a bet with Nursey freshman year that he would make the Most Beautiful list, Nursey says "that'd be chill bro" which Dex thinks means "haha that's not gonna happen" and which Nursey meant to mean "that'd be chill bro". Dex slams the magazine on Nursey's bed, Nursey looks at it and goes "babe, did they crop out your ears?" They did. They had too.
  • Chowder: Doesn't really care about making the list, but is constantly campaigning for Caitlin to be #1. When the list comes out, he charges into the Swallow's office and goes "#23????????? Are you BLIND??????" And the lil intern goes "No!!! Mr. Chow, you're #22" and that's when Caitlin appears wearing a t-shirt that says "#22 in the Swallow, #1 in my heart". Chowder loves his girlfriend!!!!!!!!!!
  • Nursey: Usurps Ransom's crown his sophomore year without even trying. His photo in the Swallow is him sitting on the quad, looking perfectly fall aesthetic, surrounded by autumn leaves. Nursey wears a green SnapBack and a soft looking grey scarf. The picture was taken in March; no one can explain the leaves to this very day.
Mentoring

My players had just finished usurping a tyrant mayor of a small harbor town with the help of a rag tag group of rebellious kids. Our Warlock, a Drow named Yaz, has become friends with one of the kids, a Drow girl studying wizardry named Tabitha.

This conversation takes while they sit dockside, away from the rest of the group.

Tabitha: Hey! If we’re going to teach each other some magics can you teach me Eldritch Blast?

Yaz: Well no, you see, you’re studying to become a wizard, and Eldritch Blast is a cantrip for Warlocks.

Tabitha: Wow. We just drowned a homophobic mayor in the lagoon and you’re going to be discriminatory?

Yaz: It’s not an issue of– Look, have you heard of multi-classing?

Tabitha shys away from this idea.

Tabitha: Dad told me when I was younger that kids that try multi-classing end up not finishing high school and their life becomes a mess.

Yaz: Does this shanty town even have a– are you even going to high school??

Tabitha: Fair enough.

Yzma: It is no concern of mine whether your family has…what was it again? 

Peasant: Umm… food?

Yzma: Ha! You really should have thought of that before you became peasants! 

-”The Emperor’s New Groove”

2

AU →  Rhaenys and Aegon Waters, the delegitimized children of Rhaegar Targaryen, return to Westeros after years spent in exile.  They mean to take back their birthright, which their father and the usurper both stole from them, and prove that despite being stripped of the Targaryen name, they are still dragons.  

11/28/1978
As a self proclaimed Garfield scholar on the forefront of the Garfield Deciphering Movement, I’ve seen my fair share of Garfield comics. This one, however has stumped me and some of my brightest colleagues for weeks. I have lost sleep over this particular strip. I’ve seen the comic in sequence and the context is fine, Garfield is sick. However this comic in particular is odd.

The intended context appears to be that Garfield is trying to act like he is not sick for Odie to prevent his foe from spotting him at his weakest, potentially avoiding a political coup and usurpation of Garfield throne as head of household. But the middle panel is so bizarre, he appears to be floating in an odd, contorted position rather than walking strongly.

The meaning of this comic cannot be as simple as we have assumed, I am getting powerful energies from this strip. There is a deeper, more powerful meaning buried deep within this piece, one that we cannot easily comprehend with our feeble understanding of life. If anyone can decipher this cryptic comic, please inform us immediately. Paws Inc. thanks you.

4

My G-Grandmother’s Great Uncle, President McKinley - assassinated by Euro Anarchist trash. My family still hasn’t forgotten - nor forgiven. This is my country. This is my nation. No Usurper will rip from me what I and my ancestors have given so much for. This is GOD-BLESSED AMERICA.

  • Arya: *speaks badly about Sansa*
  • Jon, in the middle of his wight hunt, teleports back: I love you, baby sister, but I swear to the gods I'll give you the silent treatment if you disrespect my queen one more time.
  • Arya: But she wants to usurp you!
  • Jon: Sansa is the single most capable ruler in all of the Seven Kingdoms, much more so than me, and she is kind and gentle and strong and beautiful and loyal! *sighs* Sansa is perfect, Arya. You'll fall in love with her too soon enough.
  • Arya: Ummm.... what?
  • Jon: .... you know in like a familial way. Totally not romantic or sexual. Nope.
  • Arya: I feel like I'm missing something here.
  • Davos, Brienne, Tormund, Bran & Podrick: You have no idea.
5

We, the Rebel Alliance, do therefore in the name—and by the authority—of the free beings of the Galaxy, solemnly publish and declare our intentions 

[ We believe that the Galactic Empire has willfully and malignantly usurped the rights of the free beings of the Galaxy and therefore, it is our unalienable right to abolish it from the Galaxy. ―Declaration of Rebellion]

Big Girls Don’t Cry

Stiles/Derek, 1.3K words, Rated T, Domestic Fluff


Stiles groaned and flipped over, burying his face in the curve of Derek’s shoulder. “This is torture,” he whined, and he felt more than heard Derek’s rumble of agreement.

“Yeah,” he said drowsily.

“How can you be so calm? Our daughter is wailing.”

“I’m not exactly calm. It hurts my ears more than yours,” Derek said dryly, and Stiles rolled his eyes. There had to be a limit on the amount of times that he was allowed to use that excuse. “But the pediatrician suggested that we at least try it. Give it five minutes, we’ll see if she soothes herself.”

Stiles sighed and patted Derek’s chest hair idly, rubbing at his own dry, achy eyes. The past six months had simultaneously been the very best and the most difficult of his entire life. Laura had very kindly donated one of her eggs, Stiles had jerked it in a cup, and a lovely young woman, who was in need of tuition money for grad school, served as their surrogate. Stiles had never expected the conception of his offspring to be such a complicated process that involved so many doctors, but a year later, they were blessed with Mia. She had his eyes and Derek’s hair, and Stiles was pretty sure she was the most beautiful creature to ever walk the earth. She was perfect and wonderful and glorious and holy mother of god, so much work. Stiles had no idea how it was possible to be so exhausted and yet so deliriously happy at the same time.

“How long has it been?” he asked, and Derek grunted.

“90 seconds.” 

Stiles groaned again, squirming restlessly. “Torture, torture, torture.”

“I’m going to the bathroom,” Derek said softly, easing himself out from underneath Stiles’ weight. “Be right back.”

Stiles rolled into the warm spot left by Derek’s body and closed his eyes, praying for the sweet relief of sleep. He dozed off, he was pretty sure, and sat bolt upright when he realized that Mia wasn’t crying anymore. How sad was it that he now jerked awake at the absence of sound?

He flopped over to look at the nightstand—it had been four minutes, Derek was still “in the bathroom,” and Mia had stopped crying. Hmm.

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