white wash wood

Honestly like I HATE how underrated Peter Pan (2003) is because:

The mermaids were Asian

Tiger Lily was ACTUALLY Native American and even spoke the native  language 

These cuties turn into

THESE HOTTIES!!

And don’t even get me started on the music score

Honestly this new Pan aint got nothing on the old one, sorry ‘bout it

I love the ACOTAR series, but I think I’d adore a version of it where fairies (and High Fae too) are a bit weirder and dangerous and monstrous and inhuman: still beautiful, but beautiful in a way that is not uber-movie-star perfection, but a wicked, disturbing and definitively otherwordly thing. 

Like, Tamlin would still be the High Lord of spring, sure - but his hair would be actual flowers, closing and blossoming with twilight and dawn, and antlers on his head, and maybe sometimes, when he’s sleeping or fighting or fucking, thorns would spread from under his skin, bleeding with wild roses.

Rhysand would still be breath-takingly handsome - but he’d be a sleek, smoky thing of moon and dark, pianist fingers ending in talons he can’t hide, and raven’s feathers instead of hair. His eyes would stil be lovely and violet-blue, but they’d be an actual moonlit sky - with stars slowly spinning in them, and a solitary moon rising and waning where pupils should be.

Mor would still be herself, but a tad more like the Celtic Goddess she takes her name from: sweet and silvery, refreshing like clear water, with hair spun in starlight tumbling down her shoulders and snagging in her amor, the maiden and the mother. But then she’d step on the battlefield, and warriors would fall at her blade, and then her cheeks would flush crimson, her eyes bleeding red, and she’d be beautiful and horrible at the same time, beaming with silver light, a quartz princess of the dark caves of her kin.

Elain would get out of the Cauldron with fawn’s velvety ears, vines and blossoms spiraling and spreading across her skin, almost tattoos, shifting with the sun and her emotions. At first, they’d stay tightly closed - shivering and wrinkled liker her soul. And Lucien would have true fox ears, and clever, gold-flicked fox eyes, and his ears would tremble with delight the first morning he would make one of Elain’s blossoms open to him.

Nesta would forever be beautiful, but she would never be lovely again. The Cauldron didn’t leave her any softness, any warmth, any sweetness of features or shape. Looking at the sharp planes of her face, at the bloody-red slash of her lips is like looking at the jagged peaks of a mountain - at white wood washed over a shore, polished and hard and dead. She mourns her youth in secret: she mourns whatever girl-like beauty she has ever had, that scrap of Elain that used to live in her. Now she looks like a monster. She looks like something you should be scared of. But Cassian has teeth, predator’s teeth, and his hands have claws, and when he’s holding her she’s not afraid he will be scared. 

Maybe they’ll devour each other, but they’ll do it together.

And Feyre…  Feyre would find herself with new joints, new hands - with eyes that could see clearer and wider than ever before, but that are also pure pools of black, with no pupil no iris and no white. Her teeth are sharp - they tear through her lovers’ skin and don’t stop till they draw blood. And there’s something of the forest in her, too, of the woods where she had made herself a hunter: twigs and leaves growing amidst her hair, corsets made of leather and oakwood, so that when she’s running through the trees she looks like a sprite or a pixie - barefoot, quiver on her back, fangs bared in pleasure. She passes by with the rustling of fallen leaves, the whisper of squirrels and owls’ wings. You wouldn’t know she’s behind you till she’ll lean in to kiss your cheek, or stop your heart.

“Feyre darling,” this strange star-eyed Rhys would say, cupping the cheek of his wood-made girl, holding her close so feathers and twigs would mix together, and they would smile mirror fanged smiles, and they would still be beautiful.

Cherish the Peanut: Day 1 - Milestones

I’m really, really late to this party but here’s something for the first theme of this week!

Murmured words and hiccups are all that he can hear through the white-washed wood of the bathroom door, Regina’s honeyed tones weaving gently through the softest sobs that were barely audible. His daughter cries like her mother he’d discovered some time ago – almost silently and with her whole soul, in the same way that she laughed, that she loved and that she lived. There was no halfway in anything when it came to the Mills women, that much Robin knew at the very least.

Henry and Roland had been in the kitchen when he’d arrived home assembling their sister’s favourite treat with bowls, tubs and spoons all ready to be prepped on the middle island. The older boy had spotted him first, turning his long body (both Emma and Regina were still astounded as to where his height had come from considering his biological father hadn’t been exactly tall and nor is Rumple. He was even starting to edge a little higher than David these days.) to smile sadly at Robin and, in turn, catching Roland’s attention.

His boy was just on the brink of his own growth spurt, not far from hitting the awkward gangly stage that Robin had hated as a boy, all limbs and no idea of what to do with them. His curls were a little shorter and neater than usual and it had him frowning for a moment before he’d remembered Regina mentioning back-to-school haircuts the previous afternoon. Had he really not noticed since then?

“That bad?” he’d asked when they’d turned back around to begin spooning great scoops of vanilla ice cream into bowls, chopping strawberries and shaking the chocolate sauce bottle to ensure a steady flow. They’d merely nodded solemnly at him before Henry had directed his attention to the downstairs bathroom.

Today had marked Rae’s first day of school and even though both Regina and himself had been terrified (as she had been when Henry had first attended and they both had been when Roland had first gone), their daughter had been almost vibrating with excitement when her own time had come. She’d bounded through the front door and leapt straight onto his lap the day Regina had taken her to choose some ‘big girl’ clothes to wear for her first week, regaling him with tales of all of the new things she was going to wear and just how she was going to style her hair to complement each outfit. “Just like her mother,” Robin had smirked at Regina, recalling some of her more daring outfits in the Enchanted Forest. She’d scoffed at him and squeaked when he’d patted affectionately at her rear as she’d passed him.

Then there had been the afternoon Henry had returned home from his own first day, the oldest year group having gone back in a day early to get back into the flow of things before the corridors were hoarded with those transitioning from middle school to high school and over-excited teens returning for another year. He’d smirked at his youngest sibling and crooked a finger at her, telling her to follow him to the coffee table in the middle of the living room and, of course, she had. She’d perched herself on the floor, kneeling with elbows supporting her on the glass surface and waited with baited breath. He’d unzipped his rucksack and tipped it upside down to release a waterfall of pens, pencils and crayons. A rainbow of stationary that Rae had squealed with joy over before picking through the pile.

She’d spent last night packing everything neatly into her new bag. It was tiny and it was adorable – styled to look like a butterfly though it’s wings were a vibrant pink, a gift from her Auntie Mal who’d stopped by to wish her goddaughter luck for the coming day.

That same bag now lay propped up against the wall beside the door, barely recognisable for the amount of paint splattered upon it and, with a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach, Robin realised just what had happened.

Regina hadn’t told him much on the phone, just that there had been an ‘accident’ (he hadn’t missed the suspicion in his wife’s tone, found her quite easy to read even when he couldn’t actually see her) and that Rae needed him, needed them all. Emma had waved him off when he’d asked if she’d be okay on her own for a little while or if she wanted him to wait until Ruby had arrived to take over. “Go take care of peanut,” she’d insisted, “and give her extra cuddles from me, okay?”

He knocked gently at the door and waited until he heard Regina’s gentle “come in” before turning the handle and pushing it open slowly. He didn’t look up properly until he’d slid inside and pressed back into the door to close it but when he did look up and take in the scene before him, his heart ached.

Rae’s face was splotchy and red, tears still glistening on her little cheeks whilst her bottom lip trembled something terrible. Her round blue eyes were glistening, crystalline in the light of the bathroom and made all the more vibrant with her anguish. It looked as though Regina had managed to clean her skin of the paint (new clothes left in a stained pile on top of the laundry hamper) but it was her hair that seemed to be suffering the worst.

Regina was sat in the bathtub behind their daughter, still wearing her clothes (it was moments like these in which his love for the brunette burned through his every cell because there was absolutely nothing she wouldn’t do for their children) and running gentle fingers through matted blue, green and yellow painted strands. She smiled sadly at Robin, fingers still moving as she whispered tender words of comfort to their whimpering child.

He moved to kneel at the side of the tub, closest to Rae’s face and she watched his every movement, his presence seeming to bring even more tears from her though he supposed it was the effect of having someone new see what had happened. He placed a hand on the ceramic bathtub for support before moving his other hand to stroke his palm along warm, slippery skin, cupping the redhead’s cheek and asking “extra cuddles tonight?”

Her little face crumpled then as she nodded vigorously, closed her eyes and moved enough to wrap her arms around her daddy’s neck with her mother now stroking at her back.

+++

They emerged from the bathroom when the water began to cool, Robin kissing his two girls (Rae on both cheeks and Regina on the lips twice) before watching them make their way up the stairs to change into the PJs. Rae was so tiny in his wife’s arms, so very small and vulnerable – children were unbearably cruel sometimes.

+++

All three boys were sitting ready for the movie Roland had picked out when both mother and daughter padded their way into the living room, Rae instantly making her way to where Henry sat with legs curled upon an armchair. He smiled when she approached and held out his hands ready to pull her up and onto his lap where she settled herself rather comfortably.

Robin smiled as he watched Roland pick up both his siblings’ bowls from the coffee table and handed them over for them to begin eating whilst Regina nestled herself into his side with a bowl for them both. His youngest boy then made his way over to nestle into Regina’s side with his own dessert and signalled for Henry to start the movie.

It was nothing out of the ordinary, their ragtag little family all snuggled together on the sofa, happy to fall asleep in the positions they were in now but on days like today, when things had been a little harder (as they always would with townsfolk unable to get over the past, unable to see Regina for the woman she was now instead of the woman she had been and those still judging both of them for raising the Wicked Witch’s daughter – though she was nothing of the sort), he would remind himself to take in everything he could about the moment, memories to keep and to visit when their children were grown and having kids of their own.

He smiled at the knowledge that, though Rae’s first day at school hadn’t been what she’d expected (what any of them had expected for that matter), at least their daughter would always know that, no matter what happened and no matter what anyone else said or thought, she had a family that absolutely adored her and would do anything for her and, in all honesty, Robin couldn’t ask for anything more than that.

019. 5SOS Preferences: Can't

ASHTON

“I’m going to miss this.” With only honesty in the low hum of his voice, Ashton told you with a croak. He was perched right behind you, legs open with you in the middle, and resting all of his weight on his forearms as his hands were sinking into the dry and cool sand you two were sitting in. It had been a little while since you two took a late night stroll along the beach together. He had been so busy with the band taking off and you were generally drained when he came by to pick you up from your shift at the grocery store, sometimes it was a struggle not to doze off in the front seat of his car right after.

He could taste the sea breeze blowing through your hair, the smell of salt mixing into your shampoo that he had already stolen a small tester bottle of in order to carry a piece of you around the world with him. He had become so accustom to that scent, waking up to your mane right in his face, as well as a handful of messy nights in the backseat of his car, your hair sticking to him with your combined sweat as strong as Krazy Glue.

You were going to miss this, but for a completely different reason. Ashton’s mind had him convinced that he would come home to this when there was a break during tour legs. He thought that when you came to see him in Los Angeles or Spain or anywhere near a coast, you two could close your eyes and pretend to be back home together while lying over the sand. You knew better though. In front of him, your eyes were closed as you breathed in the perfume of the ocean, listening to the waves rise just to fall, and took in the feeling of Ashton’s warm skin brushing up behind your back. This was the last time you two would be like this. This was the last time you two would be. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, you had already cried about it in bed, at the kitchen table, and in the shower, but it felt like what was best and you were coming around to accept that fact. Right now, you and Ashton had lives as different as a rock star’s and a check out girl’s. It couldn’t be denied even though he always acted as if it was no big deal.

“Two days…” He giggled in a whisper right behind your head, his fingers tapping into the sand as he was truly unable to hide his excitement. Ashton knew he was going to miss you and his family poorly, but he had been dreaming, actually lying in bed and having vibrant dreams, of performing in an awesome band since before he had hair anywhere beyond his head. He couldn’t wait to be keeping the beat for three of his best friends, seeing what all the other places in the world had to offer.

“You’re going to do so great.” You spoke to the ocean, facing it as you smiled. While many people poked fun at Ashton and bombastically shot down his dream, you had felt it from the moment you met him in the corner of a billiard hall, hundreds of Saturday nights ago, that he was going to be somebody, he was going to make his mark on the planet. While you wished, selfishly, that he would stay, you knew that even party balloons couldn’t be tied down. He had to go. “I’m so excited to watch you blow up.” Laughing lightly, you turned your head to watch him over your shoulder for a second, his smile right on yours. You lifted up your knees to your chest and Ashton took your gaze as an invitation to lean in and kiss you, savoring the peppermint taste that was painted in layers over your lips due to the lip balm you had been using since the hot weather returned. He held your lips against his, sipping you back like a hard lemonade under summer heat, and you almost cried at the mouth massage. You didn’t want to pull away. You wondered if you reached around and held him to you if he could possibly stick to your bottom lip and stay put.

Without asking for your consent, a few brave tears dripped down your cheeks, burning into them, and tickling Ashton’s face. He sat back abruptly, smiling and wiping at the residue on his cheeks with his wrist before he realized you were crying.

“Awh, doll, come on…” Playfully, he jetted out his bottom lip and reached around your neck with one arm to pull you close into the crevice between his chin and chest. It was a small divet in his body that you seemed to fit into perfectly like a handmade puzzle piece. He slid down deeper into the sand, his elbows buried, as he held you against him. “Don’t be sad. You’re going to visit in a month.” You two hadn’t actually spent a month apart before. There were the two weeks where he and his family went away to New Zealand, but that was all. Even then, you two texted like you would die without communication.

This was your door. You could hear it creaking open slowly on it’s hinges, Ashton’s hand pressing the white washed wood to keep it open just long enough for you to step in and straddle the threshold. Taking a deep breath, you sat up and shook his arm from around your neck. He let it fall almost naturally to your hip, two fingers linking themselves into the denim belt loop of your dark shorts. You stared at him blankly for a few moments too long, causing him to chuckle excess air from his lungs, before you sucked in your stomach and prayed for a little strength. The mental image you had of Ashton with a broken heart was not one you were ready to create in real life.

“I’m not coming…” Almost as you swallowed around your nerves, you told him, your voice a muffle under the sound of waves dying at the shore.

Ashton chuckled at first since your words gave him anxiety and he always gave a childish laugh when he was uncomfortable, but then he accepted how serious you looked while sitting in front of him, right between his knees with your hands tucked under the sleeves of your cardigan, and his face shifted from hopeful to distressed. Ashton climbed back up onto his hands and stared at you like you were both about to be lit on fire and sacrificed.

“What are you talking about?” It had all been planned. You two had marked dates on the calendar that hung on your wall, you were going to visit him eleven times and he was going to come see you four times for sure, more if he could swing it.

“I’m not doing a long distance relationship.” Early on, too far back for Ashton to properly remember, you two talked about a pair of friends you mutually knew who did a long distance relationship when the guy went to Canada to tap maple trees and how difficult it was and how they wound up hurting each other in ways that would have never happened had distance not been a factor. You both agreed, with every fibre of your being, that long distance relationships could not possibly work. Somehow, Luke had convinced himself when the opportunity of going on tour arose that you and he were different. You two were the grand exception.

Scrambling along with his thoughts, Ashton’s little boy eyes shifted from left to right feverishly as he tried to think of what was the right thing to say. He figured there must have been one perfect sentence, magic words that would fix what the hesitance you were feeling.

“Well, come with us then.” It couldn’t be long distance if you were right there along with him. He suggested it so cavalierly like it was nothing for you to just up and leave your life with only 48 hours notice.

“And take another year off school?” That was why you were working at the grocery store after all, so you could pay for your college tuition that seemed to only sky rocket in price with every passing term. It would have been an adventure to see the world alongside Ashton and the other three band members, but you knew you would return home broke and still without any education to speak of. School wasn’t for everyone, but you really did want to give it a go. Just as Ashton had been dreaming of being in a band since he was in Pampers, you had been aiming to go to the University of Sydney since your Dad lent you his U of S sweatshirt on a windy day at the beach over a decade ago. “I can’t afford to up and leave.”

“Well, we’ve planned everything. We’re going to see each other all the time and you switched your cell phone plan, so we’ll Skype and talk…” He was pulling on your belt loop, bringing you closer, but you were already drifting away like a tugboat at sea. He could feel it. You were in his hands, but he couldn’t hold you anymore.

“Ashton, it’s not going to work.” Sadly, your lips quivering, you shook your head.

“You don’t know that.” He begged. He was sitting up as straight as a pin, his face close to yours in case you couldn’t hear the gravity and sincerity in what he was trying to get across to you. “I know it’s scary, I mean, I’m freaking out, but…we can make this work.”

“You’re not even gone and I’m already a mess about the distance. It’ll only get worse.” Optimism wasn’t lost on you, but you had to think about your own self-preservation in all of this. Ashton going away would present so many opportunities for him and you just wanted to protect your heart from the possibility that one of those opportunities would lead to your impending heartbreak. You had been down the road of emotional turmoil and heartache before and you weren’t interested in going through it again. Not right now.

“You don’t know that.” He wanted to smash his fists into the sand like The Hulk, kick up his legs like a toddler in a Zellers not getting their way, but Ashton just whined and let his eyes do the talking, pleading at you while they were forced to stretch as he absentmindedly filled them with more fear. The idea of being without you was a lot worse than the reality of being away from you. He pushed back his overgrown hairs, shaking them away once his fingers had combed down his sculpt, hoping you would have changed your mind once his eyes found you again, but you still looked torn yet strong in your convictions.

“I do. I really, really do.” You nodded, crying as you noticed he was beginning to well up. His nose wrinkled between his eyes, shaking, as water filled his eyes and poured out from the inner corners. Out of instinct and love, you reached around and bundled him up to you by the neck, sobbing with your face on top of his sobbing head. “I just know it’ll break my heart.”

“What about me?” He breathed out, his voice made of the grains of sand that sat underneath you both as he spoke into your neck. “What about my heart?” He managed to ask while looking up at you through slanted eyes. He didn’t sound vulnerable or young when he asked, he sounded masculine and you could tell he was like you, trying to shield himself from any hurt. That was the one downside of falling in love, giving someone the power to kill you, but crossing your fingers they won’t abuse it. “I thought we could make it,” He looked around the deserted beach as if there was an answer hidden around somewhere. If only he had a metal detector or his scuba gear on hand. “And you’re so positive that we can’t. You don’t even want to try…”

“I’m sorry.” Faintly, almost inaudibly, you whispered as he climbed up aggressively onto his feet. Ashton bent down and began dusting at his board shorts, removing sand from them as if they were annoying bugs all over him. He turned from you and kicked up the beige grains with a loud groan, stomping a few steps away and snuffling loudly in an effort to compose himself.

Quietly, you picked yourself up from the ground and dusted sand off of your bum and legs. You took one step forward and found Ashton stalking back over to you, clearly tightening his face as he tried not to cry anymore. He looked as if he was in complete anguish.

“Just I’ll drive you home, okay?” He picked up his hands and wiped at his face, pressing his thumbs hard over his orbital bone. “And think about this. Don’t just make a rash because you’re scared.” He shuffled closer to you, his chest against yours as he kissed your cheek once and then twice and then over your lips. “We can make this work.” It only occurred to Ashton then that he didn’t really want this without you. Over the years, his dream had changed some and he had made room for you in the backstage he envisioned. Without you standing by, cheering him on, the whole dream seemed duller. You were the one he wanted beside him when the world knew his name.

“Ashton, I love you.” You knocked your forehead to his and took his hands in yours, trying to calm him down. “I love you so much, but I know I can’t do this, so please don’t make me.” Once more, your lips warbled like unsteady water in a glass on a broken table. If you spoke any more, you feared you would spill.

“But I love you.” He tightened his fingers around your hand as they were already laced perfectly between yours. “Will you still visit?” He tilted his head to the side, sniffling, and asked with the bleakest sound of hope in his cracking voice.

“I might.” All you could do was breathe out your answer, you couldn’t promise him anything as it felt like everything was changing. “Let’s not go home just yet, okay? Just lie here with me…” You pulled on his hand delicately as you sat back down in the sand. Hesitantly, uneasy on his feet, Ashton followed and you two held one another, your bodies cocooned, in the sand under the pitch black Australian sky.

LUKE

It was his first visit home since going out on tour again, taking on the world along with One Direction once more, and Luke was walking on clouds. It felt almost like Sydney was a tour stop as he had never been in his hometown with such confidence bubbling inside of him. He didn’t feel like the old kid who kept to himself and aligned his stare with the cement beneath his sneakers, careful not to make too much noise until he was alone in the safety of his own home. He wanted to go out and socialize, he was proud of himself, and he felt like he could conquer just about anything. Including you, the girl he had been lusting after and writing songs over since he started putting pen to paper many years ago. You were friends, but Luke had always mentally allowed himself to imagine how much sweeter life would be with you as more than just his movie-watching, head-bobbing, and cupcake-making friend.

Finally, after just under five years, he felt that he had mustered up enough courage to be real with you. He wasn’t going to sit next to you at the backyard bonfire, flames crackling between you like hyena’s jaws, and nod as you talked in length about your summer plans. He was going to be forward and tell you just what he wanted and hoped for. He watched through the burning wood as you were sitting in a lawn chair, laughing with a red plastic cup held between your hands as you listened to one of your friends recite how he had nearly been attacked by a kiwi bird when he visited New Zealand a month ago.

In his head, he coached himself, mentally rubbing his shoulders and spraying cold water into his mouth.

It’s all you, Hemmings, it’s all you. You can do this

He lifted his shoulders to his ears and shook away any leftover insecurities before walking around the fire on his way to you, one hand clammy in the pocket of his skinny jeans while the other was holding onto a can of beer for major support.

“Hey [Y/N],” He nodded at the back of your head, calling for your attention. You whipped around fast enough to almost give yourself whiplash, but your deer in the headlight expression quickly morphed into a smile just at the sight of him. “I heard you were going to be here.” He half-lied. He had heard through Calum, but only after bugging Calum over and over whether or not you were coming.

“Yeah, I didn’t know if I could come. It’s my grandmum’s birthday, but it turns out 90 year olds don’t like to stay up that late, so I made it.” You laughed and shifted yourself to be facing your childhood friends, your knees underneath your jacket that you wore as a blanket towards him. “Are you happy to be back? You having fun? When did you get in?” All at once, you bombarded him, your grin not wavering for even a second. It was really nice to have him back even if it was only going to be for a couple days.

“Yeah, it’s been great.” A man of few words at most, he nodded and took the seat right beside you as it was vacated. Luke sat down and used his hips to move the lawn chair closer and closer to where you were. “I got in this morning. I’m a little jet lagged.” He laughed and tossed a cold sip back, in need of liquid courage as he was close enough to see all six colors that made up your eyes. Your natural beauty was even more overwhelming when illuminated by hot flames.

“Well, it’s nice to have you back. Fit me in your busy schedule, okay? We should go to Monty’s like old times.” Off the cuff, you suggested. You had worried it would be weird to see Luke again, but he was the last person who would ever develop an ego. He was still the same old skinny jean clad Luke Hemmings he had been when you two met.

“I actually was planning to spend a lot of time with you.” Trying to be smooth, he channeled his inner Johnny Bravo and took the entrance you allowed him.

“Why me?” Lighting up, you asked.

“I like you.” His cheeks blushed and he filled his mouth with the glass of his beer bottle, pouring the liquid in. He was nervous now. His confidence must have been an illusion because he felt as if his heart was about to jump right out of his chest and turn to ash in the fire, committing suicide before you could stomp all over it. 

“Okay. Well, I like you too.” You were grinning at him, but your eyes suggested that you thought he was behaving sort of strangely. You slid your pupils away and looked at the leftover content of your own drink, wondering if, possibly, Luke was a bit tipsy. Unbeknownst to you, he was still working on his first stout.

“No, I like really have been into you for a bit. I was hoping you’d want to give it a go…” Luke had his eyes so tightly shut that they might as well have been stapled. His hand was gripping the bottle as hard as it could, trying not to slip due to how greasy his palm had become due to nerves and the burning fire beside you both. Slowly, he peeled his eyes open on you, staring at him like oncoming traffic while your feet were frozen to the ground. This wasn’t how he imagined it going down in his head. He thought you would look less terrified. Instantly, Luke wanted to toss himself in the fire, forget about his fire. He just wanted to disappear. He felt like an idiot.

Putting down your cup between your feet on the grass, you scrambled to reach over and touch Luke, your hand on his leg right away, “Don’t make that face.” You begged cutely. Luke hadn’t realized he was wearing his sense of rejection so clearly, but he looked like a little kid who had just had their lunch stolen by the classroom bully. “Don’t. Let’s go for a walk, okay?” You weren’t about to let him down gently or at all with everyone around. “Let’s go inside.” You stood up and stretched, leaving you drink behind as you led the way back into your friend’s house through the sliding patio door that led into a busy kitchen, wrestling your arms into your jacket as you moved.

Everyone wanted to say ‘hi’ to Luke as he entered. Guys were eager to high five him and invite him into an ongoing round of beer pong while girls were desperate for photos. Happily, you waited by the kitchen table covered in different mixes and cell phones, proud as you watched your friend be the guy he always thought he couldn’t be: the guy everyone wanted to know.  Luke didn’t feel like that guy though and with a nervous smile, he excused himself and nodded at you to follow him up the stairs. The bedrooms were occupied with tube socks covering the golden door handles, so you two crept into a dark office at the end of the hall, the room’s only source of light coming from the fire and street lamps outside the window.

“So?” You closed the door behind you, licking your lips, and then leaned your back against it, hands behind your bum. “I wasn’t expecting that.”

“I finally thought that, maybe, I don’t know…” Luke backed up and sat in the computer chair right in front of a shut down Macbook, facing you, but looking at his almost empty bottle in both of his hands. “I thought maybe I’d have a shot now.”

“Because you’re a singer in a band?” In order not to giggle, you bit down on your bottom lip as Luke nodded and shrugged in response. “You always had a shot.” As if you were filling him in on all the secret steps it took to win a Grammy, Luke raised his head up and stared at you with pure bewilderment. You were speaking in tongues, but he truly wanted to understand what you were saying. “I think I started to like you while we in Mrs. Milner’s class, but you were into Aleisha and…anyway, I’m flattered now, but it’s just not a good time.”

As fast as you had picked him up, you put him right back down on the dirty ground.

“Because Craig is into you?” That was the word on the street at least. Luke might have been miles away, but he made sure to keep in the loop. He had his tabs open on you.

“Craig Mortimer? Is he? Ew.” You physically grimaced, just the reaction Luke hoped you would have. “Well no, it’s just not a good time because…” You tapped your foot like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland on the carpeted floor, waiting for the best word to pop into your head. “Well, you’re a celebrity now.” As many other people, you let your mind come up with scenarios of you on a red carpet, maybe hand in hand with Ryan Gosling, but that was all make believe. You never actually thought about having a big public life like Luke had and watching him go through it only made it more unappealing.

“I am not.” Modestly, he insisted.

“You are. I watch videos of you.” Walking over, you sat down on his knee and leaned your back into your chest comfortably. It was a shame that his lifestyle was so undesirable because you two did fit together like a perfect set. There shouldn’t have been one without the other. You were two halves and not a proper whole. “Girls are shouting and panting at you to let them suck your dick. It’s intimidating. I wouldn’t be okay with it. I’m just your friend and I’m not okay with it.”

Luke just scoffed and shook his head at your reasoning.

“It’s not like I’m taking them up on the offer.” Had he done things while on tour he didn’t want you to hear about? Of course. However, he couldn’t control other people and he always made sure to do right by himself. He didn’t have any major regrets to speak of. “I want you. I wouldn’t screw things up. I’ve wanted you for a long time…” He was nervous, but he rested his empty hand on your bare knee, bruised from a fun football match in the park earlier. It felt tender under his thumb as he ran it over the rouge bruise, wondering what it would feel like beneath his sunburnt lips.

“Your life is so crazy, Luke. Don’t get me wrong, it’s so cool, but my dreams don’t extend that big. I don’t want to be competing with crazy girls in night clubs or at concerts. I just want some cats, maybe a little cottage and a bakery. Doesn’t your head just spin when you think about how hectic your life is? How different it is from everybody else’s?” While you thought it was amazing that Luke had accomplished so much, it still wasn’t tempting to you. It was all too easy to imagine yourself staying up and wondering where he was, who he was with, and why he hadn’t called when he said he would. Luke was a good guy and you knew whoever could deal with his lifestyle would be one lucky girl, but you were too scared of clowns to join his circus.

Slowly, not ready to give you up after lusting after you for so long, Luke slid his hand off of your knee and put it by his side restlessly, tapping it into the gray leather cushion of the chair you were both sat in, wobbling slightly.

“So, it’s a no?” He gulped and checked, maybe you could talk yourself into it. He had seen you change your mind before, but that usually had to do with food. This was a little bit different. “I understand. It sucks, but I do.” He wished you could be open to giving him a shot, that he was worth the flight risk, but Luke knew that no matter how many number one singles he had or money he made, he would never be anything special. He would always be Luke Hemmings, Sydney’s resident weirdo.

“I’m afraid so.” You turned your cheek so it brushed against his and then kissed the apple that was pushing out as he brought air into his mouth and held it there before exhaling. “But we have tonight.” Grinning, you slid your mouth down and kissed his lips, giving him a taste of what he had stayed up imagining many nights before. You were ever sweeter than ice cream which was always what he thought your flavor would be. Vanilla with a sugar cone beneath your cream. He opened his mouth and leaned his head back, taking in what you were willing to give, the cold bottle of beer pressing against the small piece of exposed skin between your shirt and shorts. Maybe, you couldn’t be with Luke, but you would always be his friend. 

“Whoever gets to be with you is damn lucky.” Luke murmered as he stopped for a quick breath. “Holy.” He hoped that whoever you decided to give yourself to would know just what they had and treasure you properly. You were a diamond in a world of Cubic Zirconias and you deserved a prince, not just a pauper in designer clothes. 

“Same to you.” You nodded, meaning it, before sighing sadly at the truth and kissing his chin as his empty hand slid up your back. He brought his hand around to push some of your fallen hairs aside, staring up at your full face that shone down on him like his own personal moonbeam. 

He didn’t know if he would ever accept that he couldn’t call you his own, but for now he was happy just to have you under the soft touch of his fingers. It wouldn’t be until he arrived back home, drunk, and find his mother on the couch that he would start to tear up and complain to her that he couldn’t have you due to being a ‘celebrity’.  His mum knew just how badly he wanted a chance with you, she didn’t ridicule him for getting upset. She just held him into her chest and comforted him the way she would when he was a little boy being teased by his brother or awoken by a night terror

CALUM

You practically sprinted through the hotel lobby, you were leagues away from him. Calum just made it in through the painted gold elevator doors before they closed. He slid in carefully, swiping his shirt on the edge of one door before standing right next to you in the corner. He reached for your hand with one finger, trying to hook his index finger around yours, but you picked up your hand and put it out of his reach, focusing your eyes on the numbers above the doors as they lit up on which floor you were on.

“Are you okay?” Faintly, Calum asked, as if he didn’t want the invisible people in the elevator to hear.

You didn’t say a word though, you waited for the chime that prompted the doors to open and strolled out to continue moving at  lightning speed down the hall to where yours and Calum’s hotel room was located. Your brain was actually seething as if it was sitting and roasting on top of hot coals and you were concerned that if you opened up your mouth to speak you would release a breath of fire in Calum’s general direction. Sliding the card key into the door, you let yourself in and just barely held it open for Calum behind you. He didn’t need to ask again, clearly you were rattled.

“It’s over now.” He pointed out blandly as he watched you dodge across the room, stepping out of your suede heels as you did and picking them up off the floor.

“I can’t do that!” Finally, you broke your silence and exclaimed, spinning around and causing the bottom of your dress to flutter out as you faced your wide-eyed boyfriend. “I’m not made for that. I can’t imagine myself ever getting used to it.” You exhaled chaotically, lips never quite closing. You felt as if you hadn’t caught your breath since pulling up to the hotel from the venue and having to wrestle your way inside.

“I don’t think anyone gets used to cameras being shoved in their faces.” Paparazzi was a strange concept to Calum and he was the one who lured them like flies to shit. It had been such a nice night of watching him perform and then play fighting backstage before your ordered pizza arrived. It felt as close to how it did when you two were just sweethearts back in Sydney, goofing around before one of his low key pub sets with the guys. While you always believed in Calum’s talents, you didn’t actually think his life would ever blow up the way it had. In fact, when you two first got together, people thought of you as just another girlfriend to another footballer. It wasn’t very different, standing on the sidelines and watching him from backstage monitors, but everything else was a total whirlwind. You went to sleep in a twister every night and were just praying to wake up in Kansas. Your nice night had been ruined as soon as you arrived back at the hotel in the back of a black SUV with Calum, cameras from every blog, vlog, magazine, online magazine, and so on were waiting and while they didn’t care about you that didn’t stop them from getting in your way and cutting off your freedom to move. “Calm down, [Y/N].” He approached you without caution, reaching out and grasping both your shoulders. You wiggled to move away, but he held you firmly where you stood before him. “It’s all over now. It’s just you and me.” Calum nodded and stepped forward to kiss you, but you moved your head to the side. You hadn’t done that since he tried to kiss you in the middle of a science lab and you knew he would be thrown out if the teacher saw. Calum’s face squished together, astonished, before he leaned back and let go of you.

“I’m not calm. I’m the opposite of calm. What’s an antonym for calm?” You asked seriously, but all your boyfriend could do was shrug, dumbfounded. “I’m agitated!” You guessed, shouting loud enough for Luke and Michael in the next room, formerly messing around on their acoustic guitars, to hear you.

“Well, when are you going to calm down?” As if there was a precise answer, Calum asked. He checked the time on the digital clock plugged in by the freshly made bed, wondering if he could catch the end of the football highlights while you moved back to a state of tranquillity.

“Probably when I’m home.” It took you moment, but as soon as you said it, you felt better. The answer was clear as day in your head and you felt like you could finally breathe again. You may have escaped the confines of paparazzi about six minutes ago, but you only felt like you weren’t being suffocated now.

“You’re not going to chill for four days?” That was when your flight back was, you had to go home for your best friend’s graduation ceremony, you had promised her months ago.

Calum took a seat on the edge of the hotel bed, reaching down to untie his brand new sneakers. He was watching you as you seemed to be coming down from your freak out with ease. He was glad, too, because he never knew the right things to say when you were wound up. He tried, but always seemed to make it worse with his questions and attempts to smooth things over. He knew you well, better than he knew himself, but you were still surprising and confusing him constantly.

“No. I’m going home tonight.” As if it was nothing, no big deal, you sighed and looked over at him to see his eyes on you, springing from his face like a cartoon who had just been duped. “I’m not coming back, Calum. I…I…” You stared down at your painted red toes, a shade called ‘Hello, Sailor’ that Mali-Koa had given you along with other goodies for your birthday years ago, and tried to ready yourself for what you were about to say, the blow you were about to deliver to both you and Calum. “I can’t do this anymore.”

“What?!”

Calum’s mother had warned him when he was younger and even more of a lad to be careful with you. She knew he would, without meaning to, screw things up and you were the kind of girl that you were supposed to hold onto for dear life once you were lucky enough to catch. Calum always assumed he would trip up by accident and lose you, but this was beyond his control. This was just a small aspect of his life: the lack of privacy.

“You’ve over-reacting.” He scoffed, cracking his toes under his white worn out socks, and shook his head. You didn’t mean what you were saying, he was sure of it, you were just upset still. “Tomorrow, we’re going to laugh about this.” He said, mostly assuring you over himself.

“No, no, Calum, I’m serious.” Over your chest, your crossed your arms and lifted one hand to your mouth, biting down on your thumb nail that Calum said was the perfect guitar pick. “I’m spent. I’ve had all the flashing cameras, screaming girls, and made up news stories that I can take without losing myself.” Some days you couldn’t tell what was real and what wasn’t, but you stuck it out because you loved Calum and you wanted to look after him, but you knew that you would just become a dim and angry shell of yourself if you stuck around. It was wearing on you like a mink coat in July heat.

“I know that was ridiculous outside,” Calum stood up and approached you delicately, his hands open, but flat to assure you he meant no harm. It was like he was Steve Irwin and you were an angry alligator weary of any intruders. “But come on, you want to throw us away because of some stupid paparazzi’s?” Calum slid his hands, folded, up and down your arms and tried to warm you up, but you were still on fire from fuming earlier. “Don’t let them ruin us.” He met your hands with his and picked one up, kissing your knuckles while keeping his eyes enlarged on you like a little puppy dog.

“It’s not just the paps, Calum.” Your voice broke as you whispered. “We haven’t been us in a long time. It’s just you right now and I’m like your shadow. I’m so happy for you, but I am losing myself in your spotlight.” You felt like you used to shine, but these days you were losing your spark, you were a flicker instead of an actual flame. There wasn’t enough room on the road for another big personality so, without meaning to, you had filed yourself down and become a ghost.

“Well, don’t end this. Let’s work on it. What’s going to help?” Shaking his head with haste, Calum asked. He reached around to wrap you up, but you still felt like you were light years away, already boarding a red eye, while in his arms. You weren’t hugging him back and he instantly felt as if he was going to turn into an ice sculpture in the middle of the room. “What would make you feel better?” He wished that he just knew, but he didn’t. He was in over his head.

“A break.” Right in his ear, you whispered, deeply inhaling to keep any kamikaze tears from arriving.

“No.” Calum shook his head and laughed. “That’s not an option. What else?” He slid an arm higher up from your waist, right under your breast, and took your other hand in his to begin leading you around in a goofy little dance. All that was missing was some twinkle lights and Frank Sinatra. He was humming the melody of a song you didn’t know, one he was making up, his cheeks vibrating against yours as he tried to make you laugh, anything to keep you his.

“Calum, I’m serious. I want to go home.” He couldn’t ignore the obvious melancholy in your voice. You were only dancing because he was leading, but if he wasn’t moving you around in a tiny circle, you weren’t certain that you would break into pieces like a marionette after it’s strings were cut. “I’m sorry.” You cried with your cheek against his, the two of your faces scorching. “I want to be able to handle this, but I just can’t…” You were shaking your head as you began to lose your breath, tears in control. He allowed you to let go of him and just stood in place, staring. Calum never knew what to do when you cried because it truly was a vision of horror for him. He hated it. It broke his heart more than anything you were saying could. He felt terrible that his life, his world, made you feel this way, this small and somber.

“If you’re this unhappy, I won’t make you stay…” Calum licked his lips, looking down at the space between the two of you on the outdated floral carpet. “I’m always going to love you though.” You were his first and he had never even thought of being with anyone else (besides Katy Perry, of course). Calum sniffled his own tears back, leaning his head over his shoulder blades to force the water inward. He didn’t want to cry, but he could feel depression setting in. He didn’t want this, but he knew he couldn’t keep you if you were this miserable. “And you know, I’d change things if I could…”

“I wouldn’t ask you to give this up. This is your dream.”

“You’re my dream.” Your mouth wasn’t even closed and he had corrected you. “This is nothing without you.”

Nodding, you wondered what more either of you could say. When you were silent, you could hear people screaming for 5 Seconds of Summer outside, lights bursting in the darkness as cameras flashed for a glimpse of the boy’s silhouettes in the window pane. You could remember when this made you laugh, when it was funny and exhilarating, but now it just felt like unwanted knocks on a door you were trying to keep locked in order to stay safe. Eventually, they were going to knock it down and you didn’t want to be there when they did.

Before going to pack your suitcase up, you walked over and held Calum tightly, his arms embracing you just as firm as he moaned into your shoulder, his head bowed over it. He tried to take in every part of you. The way you looked in your black and white summer dress, like a Mod Goddess who could rule a skate park and still go meet your parents, your scent was floral and he had grown so accustom to falling asleep with it lingering up his nostrils like he was passed out in a field of purple wildflowers, you tasted salty as he kissed your shoulder, your skin sweaty from fighting your way through the crowd into the five star hotel, and you sounded like a child as you softly cried against his face, but Calum knew he wouldn’t have to struggle to remember the feeling of you. Your warm baby soft skin burning under his fingers, you felt like a caged animal that needed to be freed or put down.

As you packed, Calum took himself for a walk, strolling the halls of the building and crying in the staircase like a newborn baby, slapped by the cold air of the world. He didn’t want you to see him like that, vulnerable and a wreck, but he couldn’t breathe as he held his face in both palms and bellowed out loudly from the pit of his stomach. His tears echoed in the staircase, filling the empty space, but he had no idea where to start with filling the growing void you would leave in his chest. Everything is settling once you’ve had the very best.

MICHAEL

Behind you, folded into the shape of a limp uppercase ‘s’, Michael was still shushing you in an attempt at being comforting while he ran one hand down your bare arm. You weren’t crying anymore, but the sound was so fresh to him. The sniffling noise stuck to him like seal adhesive, but tasted even worse. He pressed his lips against your neck after lifting up your air, feeling you as you started to relax again. 

Michael felt like a bit of a moron. He had always thought that you didn’t care about the rumors. He even bragged to the guys that you were super chill about everything and took it all in stride. He hadn’t noticed it ever bothering you before because you casted it aside or covered his apologies with your mouth and went straight to kissing him whenever a story was released.

“Are you alright?” In the darkness of the hotel room, he asked, whispering in case you weren’t completely ready to talk or move on yet. Michael could be a bit of a buffoon, but he was aware of how clumsy he was, so he tried to be overly gentle when you were like this. He hadn’t actually ever seen you like this before though, you had only told him stories of when you were really hurt or disappointed in the past.

“It’s so exhausting, Mike…” Your voice cracked at the first word, but thinned itself out into a hint of a whisper. You were barely audible or visible in the darkness, so Michael just kept touching you, running his hand down your side and keeping you close to his chest.

“I know.” He was as empathetic as could be. He knew exactly how frustrating the rumors were. Michael thought it might help that you two had to read and deal with them together. Neither of you were alone with the nuttiness of his show business life.

“Even the stories about you and Luke being gay lovers are hurtful now. I know they’re not true and it still makes me feel like garbage.” There was a time where the really silly stories humored you, but you were so worn out by the constant lies and questions and malicious accusations that you couldn’t tell what was true and what was just a story to sell these days. You had actually watched Luke and Michael sitting beside one another in hair backstage at the Ellen Show and wondered if they ever did do anything. It was bizarre. “I trust you…” Rolling around to face him, making out his features in the darkness, you explained with your noses brushing at the tip for a moment. “And then I read one of these articles or someone sends me a message and I doubt everything.”

“You know, I would never do that to you. I’m loyal.” It felt ridiculus to Michael that he even had to say it. His actions spoke at a much higher volume that you meant the world to him. He had the opportunity to step out on you on a more than daily basis, but the idea left a disgusting taste in his mouth. He wasn’t even polite when the offer of sex with someone else was offered, he just turned up his nose and walked away.

“I just can’t take it anymore, Mike.” Sighing, you ran your hands through your hair and unconsciously pulled away from him, forcing his hand to slip from your silky arm.

“We could go on a vacation in a couple weeks. We can get away.” On the spot, he tried. It sounded nice after all. He had told his mum that he would be coming home to Sydney, but right now, he just wanted you to feel safe and comfortable with him again and he was willing to spend all of his time off with you somewhere remote and private if that was what it took. Michael was willing to do whatever it took.

“I can’t stop picturing it!” Holding your head in your hands, you complained and laid your head down in the pillow. “You and her. I can’t get it out of my head.”

“That story was all fabricated, babe.” He reminded you behind locked teeth, reaching for you to pull you closer as he could hear your nose wrinkling as you were trying to swallow back new tears. “You said so yourself that you recognized the picture and know that you were there at that club that night.”

“I know, but when I read it and I think about it and I…”

“Stop.” Sounding as bossy as he could without yelling, Michael shook you in his hands and then ran his fingers down your hair and began to hush you all over again. “Stop torturing yourself.” He kissed your forehead, but his lips moved out of a pucker quickly as he felt your face pulling away.

Michael’s arms laid open and extended, but you were sitting up with your legs over the side of the bed furthest from him, looking at the faint sight of the crescent moon out the balcony window.

“They win, Michael. I’m done.” As if you had been chain smoking cigarettes all day, you barely said, but your weak voice was enough. Michael shot up and slid as close as he could to you, his legs falling over your sides as he sat behind you, his arms loose around your waist.

“No, no, don’t say that. One bad night. We’re okay.”

“No, I don’t want to be in a relationship that’s just fodder for the public, that nobody respects, that people think is theirs to dissect and critique and attack or to talk about at all.”

“It’s not theirs, it’s ours.” He swore, tightening his grip on you with his arms connecting around your stomach. “What they talk about isn’t us, it’s some made up bullshit.”

“Let me go.” You shimmied your shoulders in an effort to be freed, but he was holding you too tightly.

“No.” Michael refused, tapping into his inner child that you had fallen for in the first place. “No, you’re mine and I’m not letting them take you from me.”

He held you in place for a minute more before you gave in, letting your muscles relax until they were wet noodles. You leaned your head back and rested it on Michael’s shoulder, bare from his cut up t-shirt that now was without sleeves. His hands roamed freely, but respectfully over your stomach and chest, feeling the inches of you that he couldn’t imagine being without.

You fell asleep tangled around one another, he in his tank and boxers while you wore a pair of pink silk underwear that he was a not-so-secret fan of.

The sunlight woke him and he snuggled closer to the softness beside him, breathing in and expecting something that was in the vanilla family to greet his nose, but instead he smelled himself and cotton. Michael opened his eyes slowly, groggily as his voice tickled at the back of his throat. He was hugging a pillow, not you, and there wasn’t a trace of you anywhere. You weren’t standing on the hotel balcony with a glass of orange juice or fresh cup of coffee. You weren’t humming in the shower in the bathroom adjoined to the room and you weren’t curled up under his arms, playing a word game on your phone while you waited for him to wake up. Michael sat up with his weight on one hand and scanned the room in fear. Your bags weren’t anywhere, your shoes no longer scattered on the floor along with your tight jeans and the jumper he just bought you simply because you liked it as much as he liked to treat you. He sat up like a Jack in the Box, springing to life, and picked up his phone on the nightstand, a text from you greeting him in on the scteen. Mentally, he prayed it just said you were downstairs with Ashton’s girlfriend, having breakfast.

I love you. I’ll call you when I’m home. I need space.

Michael read the message over and over, sure that he was misreading something or there was more to come, but after the tenth time, he threw his phone with vigor across the room, listening to it collide with the wall before he laid back down, throwing the covers over his bed head and hiding from the sunlight that was so happy to be shining down on him. 

“Wake up, Mikey.” One of their publicist’s gruffily called from the other side of the door, knocking their knuckles against it somewhat melodically. That was all it took though. The world wanted him to go on, but he didn’t have it in him. 

Unexpectedly, he began to cry under the covers. He slid his head underneath the pillow and folded his arms over it, muffling the sounds of his sadness as he prayed you would turn around and come back. He didn’t want to lose you.

Kentucky: Historic Houses and Horse Farms

Waveland
Lexington
The pairs of ionic columns flanking the entrance are brick overlaid with stucco and topped by white-washed carved wood capitals.