I had this issue with my laptop where it would randomly shut off, sorta like overheating but it wasn’t hot and when I turned it back on it wouldn’t say “resuming windows” or “recovered from an unexpected shut down”
I figured it might be related to critical updates I’ve been needing to install since it would typically happen after I get a notification about updating–so around every 3 days
Yesterday night it happened again so I backed up all my art and stuff and then ran the update
My computer shut off mid update and I haven’t been able to get it working since then
I’m taking it up later to get it serviced but I’m just really glad I backed up my files
Summary: After being presumed dead for just over a year Gabe
finds himself thumbing a lift with a familiar pairing and finally making his
way to the only home he cares about.
Word Count: 1215 words
Prompt: Sweet Home Alabama
A/N: This is for my 800 followers celebration as requested
by the fantastic @captainemwinchester who requested a little Gabe and I am
happy to oblige. It kinda ties in with
the one I wrote for @thewhiterabbit42 as well. Miss Me?
was a long story. Well, he could give them
the cliffnotes version which was ‘faked own death by jumping into a parallel
universe, got stuck there due to injury because jumped too late, got back,
extreme lack of mojo, hitchhiking ever since.’
But where was the fun in the quick version. Gabriel had been sitting on a bench in the rain at the
side of the road, more than a little pissed, when a familiar motor vehicle slowed
to a stop a few feet away, the driver and passenger obviously having some sort
of argument about the figure now illuminated by the headlights. Taking his chance, the former trickster
jogged over and tugged the rear door open, slipping inside onto the comfy
leather seat. “You boys going my way?”
he asked with a grin as he spread his arms out across the back of the
I debated on how to go about this, but I decided to just knock all these out in a thank you post– So here it is~.
First off I just want to say that these meant a lot to me, probably more than I could properly articulate. But I just want it be known these all came in around the time I was having serious self-doubt; and for you guys to take the time out of your day to express how you feel about my writing ( which makes me want to try harder here, honestly ), I’d like to do the same for you.
@quxxn-of-thx-damnxd : Yeah, I saw that one coming. You’re my sweet girlfriend after all, if you didn’t send me one I’d humbly collapse and cry from insufferable loneliness–. Pft, no but seriously thank you; I just wanted to take a second to remind you’re still the reason I even have a Zero blog to this day. So whenever you doubt things, remember that–I loved your oc so much I actually left a group to become an indie. And from the time we’ve met till now, you’ve improved a lot in your writing and your overall aesthetic. But most importantly I love hearing the ideas you come up with, and from your OC to your canon characters, your dialogue is always amazing. I love our threads, very much.
@onixiri : Okay, but you really shouldn’t praise me so much out of the blue–. //Snickers. I remember how much I loved your Tohru back on facebook, ( years ago ) and you’ve grown extremely as a writer since then, so it’s pretty easy for me to say that you’ve become my favorite Tohru. Hell, I remember when we used to all think you actually were Tohru. I hope you continue being bubbly and happy, like your muse.
@delightful-envy : The crazy killer winds up in my askbox… pft, hearing that from you is something alright, though since I’m a very big fan of your writing. The style is definitely unique and you can easily incompass your entire character with it– so thank you, liking mine too.
@amaranth-vitae : I haven’t written much with you, aside from a meme from my previous blog and a txt one, I think. But I have to admit, I’ve peeked through your page on more than a few occasions, and you really are a very good Yuuki. I’d like to change the fact we haven’t rped much and harass you more– you’re a quality writer and I’d like to boost praise more confidently.
@teniras : You’re great. From ooc to ic, it’s always fun interacting with you. Your ideas are unique and different– so I like our current plot a lot. Plus your style is pretty easy to enthuse a writing spell, I’ll admit, I like to try a bit harder with ours, cause yeah, you’re great. lol No receipt on me. I want to make you ship my ship.
@x-mxsked-pxnther-x : My smol bean little ‘sister’, still can’t get over how well you write too ( especially since you’re such a dork ooc ) but if ever ask that again, Ima lie cause you’re a shit to me too–. Ha, I’ll save those stars for blackmail, btw. On that note, love me more by coming online dammit
@remedialmelody : You’re someone I really enjoy talking with OOC as much as I do with roleplaying with you, seldom as that is for both things. //SHOT because I’m slow af and so are you. But despite the lack of speed, ( that could go for everyone, I suck ) Liza is an original character I admire a lot, as well as your writing. I love the fluff between them, even as an angst sorta guy, and hope we can talk and continue to develop our ship with time.
@the-crimson-haired-princess : When you shared with me how much you love my writing, it really flattered me. I think you remember that I’ve always had a dislike for it, but it’s hard to think negatively when people like you (literally) shove their praise in my face. So, thank you. Also, I don’t know much about your character, but you seem to give her justice, and your writing is as good as ever.
@princessbarb21rpblog : We still need to interact, and I plan on discussing a plot with you when I get a bit more caught up on things– but I have seen your writing and your posts around, and needles to say, I like them. ( Or I wouldn’t have followed back, honestly ) You have the ability to write multiple characters well, and I find that admirable. Plus, you’re pretty funny ooc, so that’s cool too. XD
@electrxfy : Please come back so I can love on the only Rima ( no offense to any others that may be lurking where I haven’t seen them–) I’ve ever liked that much. Honestly, I’ve went on about it before, but you make her a real character to me– it’s impressive.
@silvercrossblade : The other half of one on my OTPs – your writing is always so detailed and long. Whenever I start feeling like I know where our threads are generally going, you tack on more and really get me into it. Your threads are hands down up there ( with a few others ) in my favorites spot. Plotting with you is entertaining and in turn you’re probably one of the easiest to actually just shoot ideas off with. And not that I’ve ever seen another Lass but if I did– you’d still be my favorite. ( So put up with my pace–)
@wayward-innocent : The only OC I’ve ever met to be so damn crazy. I have such a huge soft spot for Yunneth that it’s not even funny. She reminds me of the crazy voodoo lady with depth and cuteness; and I really hope you know she’s heavily appreciated.
@diaboliktheology : I’ve peeked at your things too and I’ll admit when I first saw your blog page, it gave me high expectations of you. ( For the simple fact it was so well put together and the rules, etc, was all very fair and again, well articulated. ) And I can say now, as I’ve basically stalked your things, that you’re just awesome. I’m not familiar with your character– as I feel like I’d hate Diablik Lovers and I’m picky as hell – but I have seen others and seen enough to know your portrayal is different and catches my interest.
@xx-watch-me-fly-xx : I love Hinata okay. And you showcase his cuteness really well– as your friend, I’ll be blunt– I didn’t think your writing style would match him after seeing you roleplay Ren ( my son who you play on point ) but you do– you really, really do. I know I’m slow as hell, but keep up the great work, Milla. XD
@neon-witch : My message tag buddy. XD
Alyssia is someone I’m excited to interact with, because not only do you write and draw her with a lot of talent, her entire basis is intriguing. From her backstory, to her existence, I genuinely want to know more about her. Plus, her mun seems pretty cool too, lol, so that’s a plus. All in all, I like your writing a lot too; I’m happy you sent this in.
@moonlit-theft you’re not on here, but you’re a great friend and you’ve helped me a lot–so I’m giving you a quick shout out too for your weed ass. //shot
&&& @EVERYONE FOLLOWING ME
I love you guys too, every interaction or like is support, and I wouldn’t even bother without it–so thank you. You guys make roleplaying worthwhile.
That was too much nice for one day, jesus christ. I’m going back to never talking again now, GOOD DAY.
I got to work with some amazing writers for the @snkminibang. I was so excited to collaborate with them, eventhough I’m slow as hell with my work lol
And so this is the first piece for the Mini Bang, companion to Danger Days (an old west AU I didn’t even know I needed until I got my hands on it uwu my life is complete), written by Tempest_InA_Teacup. Go read it!
Their done!Erwin is my favorite.
wow...This whole booktuber thing about Shadowhunters is making me very uncomfortable! The show is showing a vulnerable loving Jace trying to save his brother after he escaped his abuser, and booktubers degrading that because he's not sarcastic. Also the Malec story means the world to me, since I'm a gay guy, and I don't see the rush in it? Alec came out, almost like the book, and it was beautiful and I love the slow work towards their date and Alec loving himself. What the hell do they want!?
I know!!! This is exactly why i dont like so many booktubers because they ignore all the good stuff the show is doing and say really hurtful things, like jace is finally being represented as a realistic abuse survivor and also a likeable character who is selfless and vulnerable and emotional but all they care about is the sarcastic toxic apparently funny jace that cc gave them. And the way they complain about the malec storyline is suspicious af… like theyre finally actually included like main characters and not all of the focus is on clace who are currently siblings and those booktubers are suddenly concerned that its rushed?? Clearly theyd rather just not see any of their romance just like in the books smh
He doesn’t see that any more clearly than he does when looking at the small screen of his outdated laptop. It barely works. The internet connection is slow as hell. He likes it that way, it keeps him away from communication. It keeps him away from all of that. But now.
He closes it, quietly. Sees Mabelle’s message on his phone, and ignores it. She’s been busy. He’s…. been alone. And he knows that she’d give him the world and a spoon of sugar if she could, but there’s things to attend to, things bigger thanhim. Maybe he needs mortal. Mortal, and messy…. and petty. Maybe.
Besides, he’s wiping away tears and at least he’s feeling something. Feeling something almost feels new, nowadays. All the in and out, latitudinal habits got old quick. He used to be dynamic. He used to take risks.
He steps into Midnight City not looking like himself. Pyjama pants. A frame shirt. He knows where Spades must be. He’s built himself a new hideout, a new center of violence and hate, and who cares who sees him - civilians, Tracker, who cares, who… he felt remorse, he said he was wrong, he didn’t sound like himself, and it’s simultaneously the best and worse thing Droog has ever seen.
He clambers into steel and concrete and why the hell was this place so cold, and he knows why, feet clicking against the ground. He runs. Is he lost? Maybe. Who cares. He just listens to the sounds of the place, feels out the passages and uses a palmed purple flame to light the way. He’ll find Slick. He has to.
It’s easy to find the secret passage. Slick was so predictable that it almost makes him laugh. He slips by a crony, and he remembers what this feels like. Who he was, once. A lifetime ago. Two lifetimes ago.
Aries: will find them in their dark bedroom covered in tissues watching Netflix Taurus: won’t stop thinking about how they possibly got sick. Will feel sorry for themselves and expect everyone else to as well. Won’t stop them from going out tho, bc they have shit to do. Not hungry for once, which freaks them out. Like they want food but can’t keep it down ya feel Gemini: won’t stop complaining about how sick they are. They will let everyone around them know how sick they are. The world is basically ending. Cancer: cuddled up in bed with a book and won’t leave until they feel better. Very moody, don’t speak to them during these dark days. Leo: wondering why the fuck no one has delivered them soup to their bedside and asking God why such a terrible ailment occurred within their glorious bodies. Virgo: will probably be on their death bed whispering “this is the end” to themselves. Libra: someone will be catering to their needs, whether it’s mom, dad or significant other. Will probably have a cool, damp cloth over their forehead. Worried about how this will affect their social life. Scorpio: no one will even be able to tell that they’re sick because they’re sure as hell not taking off work or letting it slow them down. Sagittarius: mad because they can’t go out, but then realize that this is a good excuse to stay in for once. Capricorn: still cooking, cleaning, taking care of duties. Responsibilities always come first no matter how shitty they feel. Aquarius: wrapped in a blanket playing video games for days straight.
Pisces: probably the laziest sign while sick. Tea, tea, and more tea. Not different than most days bc they are usually inside doing nothing anyway but it’s nice to finally have an excuse to be lazy. Will probably be working on some type of artistic ability.
You did, once. Long ago. Maybe not. Feels like a long time, though.
Only been a few days. Woke up here. Went outside, breathed the air. Got ready for the stink of death to cover it. Didn’t expect it to cover you. But them’s the brakes.
Why’d this happen to you? Dunno. Never loved fighting. Saw its value, but not your idea of a good time. But then he talked to you. Scratch. He looked at all of you and said that you gotta kill to live.
You want to live. So you gotta kill. Not complicated.
Along the way, other stuff falls to the wayside. You don’t think about much else but living, so you don’t think about much else but killing. Doing bad shit doesn’t feel bad even if you know it. Latula shaking and sobbing over her boyfriend’s corpse? Jake with his face in strips on the ground? Who gives a shit? It ain’t you, and them dying means you might live yet.
Hooked up with some folk. Damara keeps making eyes at you. You know what she wants. You just gave her a look, she knew better. You’d break her in two if you had to. Now Caliborn… he’s interesting. Just violence, nothing else. People are so complex. He’s as simple as a punch to the face, and about as pleasant. But you kinda like him. He kills good.
And Meulin? Meulin got it bad. She used to talk a lot, say nothing. She and you could talk for days and have shit to say. You liked it, though. Wasn’t a waste of time. Being near her was good.
But she’s changed too. Quiet. Dead eyes. Feels nothing, or next to it. She still loves you, though. She told you so herself.
Old Kurloz might have been afraid of her. But New Kurloz knows that this is what has to be.
So how the fuck are you gonna kill these three?
You’ve been wrestling with that question all day. Haven’t got an answer yet. None of you talk and you’ve seen no other players. That means you’re left with your thoughts, left to get to know New Kurloz. He’s a bit of a douche.
“I am getting sick of this,” Caliborn declares. “We’ve been searching for hours. Hours. Fucking hours. How can one bitch be this elusive?”
“Roxy’s no fool,” says Damara, taking a seat on the ground. “She knows that if we find her, she’ll go down like the rest of her friends. Besides, I don’t really mind it. Every minute builds anticipation, and once we get to the climax, it’ll be…” she smiles and stops talking.
You look at Meulin. She doesn’t have your stamina, and you can see that she’s getting tired. You and her take a seat on a stump. She rests her head on your lap. “Oh great, you’re all taking a break.” Caliborn says. He punches a tree, causing a flurry of leaves to fall. “Fan-fucking-tastic. Let’s just let those assholes get away.”
“Callie, sweetie, we’ve been doing this non-stop.” Damara reaches down and pulls off one of her shoes. “My feet are killing me. Let’s just rest for an hour, alright?”
“Do not.” Caliborn levies a finger at her. “Ever call me that. Do it again and I’ll kill you.”
“Yeah yeah yeah.” Damara waves a hand at him. “Look, I’m bored too. I can hardly jerk off with all you watching me, and I’d love to find Lalonde and make her squeal, but obviously what we’re doing isn’t working. Let’s think of something better.”
“Hello, children,” says Scratch, his voice coming in from the collars. You like his voice- it’s smooth. “I have some bad news. You see, you have exceeded expectations. I chose a small island for this session because I expected a quick rate of deaths, but not nearly as quick as this. Twenty-two deaths in twenty-four hours is almost a new Program record, you see, and it seems that most of the survivors have settled into alliances and failed to run into any other groups. This is, of course, unacceptable. Please remove your program manuals from your guides so that I may inform you of what measures will be taken to prevent such an occurrence. It is Rule Number Eight, and it reads as follows: should there be no deaths in a twenty-four hour span after The Program has begun, all surviving players will have their collars detonated and the game will have no winner.”
You watch Caliborn and Damara make eye contact. “To clarify,” says Scratch, “You all have half an hour to kill or be killed at least once. If not, all of you will die.”
So. One hour more and all your heads pop like pimples. Bad news. Someone’s gotta die.
Caliborn spits on the ground. “You’re right, Damara. This isn’t working. You three have been slowing me down. Hell, I’d kill you if I felt like it. You ain’t even worth sullying my blade, though.” He grabs his bag and hefts it over his shoulder. “I’m gone. I see any of you again, I’ll saw you in two.”
Nobody moves to stop him- there’s no reason to. Calibborn’s no dummy, he knows all of you have got guns. He knows he’s the biggest threat. He knows that he has the best chance of being sacrificed.
Damara looks at you. Her hand goes into the pleat of her skirt and she removes her pistol. She figures that the lovers are gonna stick together. Meulin’s eyes are on you too. “Kurloz,” she whispers, “What are we gonna do?”
You put up a hand at Damara. Nothing to worry about here. You’ve got this.
You turn to Meulin and reach into her bag. You rifle, you find it. The arsenic.
You show the bottle to the girls, and Meulin’s eyes soften with understanding. “Damara,” she says, not looking away from you, “Do you think you could give us some privacy?”
Damara licks her lips. “Sure. Ta, lovebirds.”
You look into Meulin’s eyes. Your girl, your bestie, the other half of your soul. Old Kurloz was gobbled up, but so was Old Meulin. New Kurloz just wants to live, no matter the cost. New Meulin’s got nothing left but love. She doesn’t care about killing or living or dying- just you. She just wants to be with you forever. She told you so herself.
You pour the arsenic into your hand. With a finger, you split it in two shares and Meulin takes one. “Together,” she says.
You nod. She leans in close and kisses you, and her lips are warm. She puts her share of the poison in her mouth, and you drop yours into the dirt.
Meulin’s eyes widen, but it’s too late. Your hand flies up over her mouth and you shove her into the dirt. She kicks and screams, but you quickly mount her chest and massage her throat, forcing her to swallow. Tears fill her eyes as she realizes it’s down her throat.
She doesn’t even bother to struggle. She just stares up at you. Then her face becomes drawn and pale, and something sticky and warm covers your hand. Vomit. It oozes between your fingers.
Her eyes go milky-white. Then they close. Then she’s still.
You rise. “Ice cold,” remarks Damara. You turn to look at her, standing there. She’s got this funny little flush.“You’re the biggest asshole I’ve ever seen, Kurloz. It’s really hot.”
Sorry about the long delay. Wasn’t really sure how I wanted this chapter to go down. After a lot of planning and outlining, I came up with this. Hope you like it!
CHAPTER 8: Ghosts
If you don’t find her, don’t bother coming back at all.
Those bitter words keep cycling around his mind. The fact that they came from his own flesh and blood only made it worst. He could vividly recall Jr’s stern blue eyes. Those blue eyes that, just hours ago, shared in jokes, giggles, and sipping on the same sweet tea. Those same blue eyes that adored him, admired him, loved him.
But now they were harsh.
Cold, steel blue instead of those soft, warm sky blue eyes. These were the kind of eyes a father would give his son when he went off to war. When he joined the military instead of becoming a farmer.
His hand gripped the fabric right over his heart.
God, the more he thought about Jr’s blue eyes, the more he saw his father. His dad gave him those same eyes. Only, instead of finding her it was, “If you die, don’t bother coming back.” Ironically, Jack did die (at least according to the world), but his father seemed to forget that cold comment from over 15 years ago.
“Dad,” he shook his head.
It finally made sense now. All of those damn comments that used to piss him the hell off.
“I’m not you,” Jack screamed while tossing a bag across his back. Since signing up, things between he and his father had grown worse. They used to be inseparable. But then Jack turned 16. Starting getting into that whole ‘the world needs hero’ bullshit. At 17, he started prepping. Then, at 18, he left. Or rather, was leaving.
His mother flew out the door after him. “Jack, please,” she plead. She knew that if things ended on this note, the relationship would forever be frayed. “Please,” she collapsed into the dust-coated lawn. The year’s drought was taking its toll on everyone. Sucking the life and happiness right out of the Morrison family.
Stopping dead in his tracks, Jack turned his head over his shoulder. “Please,” he couldn’t look at her, but at least she could hear him, “don’t interfere. You don’t understand. Neither of you do.”
“Jack,” the tears cascaded down her cheeks, crashing to the dry soil beneath her. “Please. Please.”
He couldn’t. He couldn’t do this. Do this to her. But… but he had to. He wanted this. To become something more. To farm was to die without a purpose, or at least that’s what Jack believed. He needed to get out there. Meet people. Prove his worth. Find his name.
Head turning back toward the old blue Wrangler, he sighed.
This would be the hardest goodbye. And he wasn’t even saying goodbye.
I’ll be back, mom. I promise. I’ll come home when basic is done. Once I’ve got a position. A title. Something.
Without a word, he marched forward. Bag in the Jeep, he kept his eyes forward. Focused on the future before him. If he looked back, he knew he would be just a simple farmer. Alone in a wasteland.
Hand coming up, Jack’s hand rammed into the visor still on his face. He’d forgotten about it momentarily. With a sight laugh, he shook his head. Funny how crisp memories can make you forget your surroundings and attire.
The rain was still coming down in buckets, which greatly slowed his progress. He hadn’t even made it to the lake yet, not that he should have. That was a good 4 or more miles out still.
Eyes to the sky, he growled up at those dark, gray clouds that dropped large dots against his visor. It wasn’t letting up; it was only getting worse. Darker and darker by the second, sans those brilliant white and purple flashes that lit up the ground.
“Easy,” his hand brushed down the matted coat of the stallion. There was no point in getting them both killed with these kind of speeds. A brisk trot would work, it had to.
Creature slowing, Jack sighed. How the hell was he supposed to find her. It was like finding a needle in a haystack.
Still, he hoped for the best. If anyone can find her, it’s you. He knew it true. He always found her. Always.
Knowing the path to get to Angela wasn’t going to be a short one, he rolled his shoulders forward. Thinking about her (worrying about her!) wasn’t helping. He needed to focus on something else.
He tried to focus on the soft splish-splash pitter-patter of the hooves against the soggy ground. Zoning and pushing all other noses out, a numbness lapped over him. Rocking him into another memory…
“Shhhh,” he held back a laugh, though he failed. It still came out, but he couldn’t help it. She, Angela Ziegler, was perfect. Everything he could ever ask for and then some. The way she laughed always made him laugh. She was precious. Adorable. His. “Don’t give it away. You’re a surprise, remember?”
Her welcoming pair of blue eyes locked with his shimmering blue pair. “Sorry,” she giggled, giddy with the whole idea of being Jack Morrison’s girlfriend. They weren’t even 48 hours into their relationship and Jack was already bringing her home. Okay, okay, so they had been seeing each other long before the official 'will you date me’ segment, but those weren’t details his parents needed to know about.
Creeping around the foundation of the house, Jack held up a finger. She was to pause. Wait there. Angela nodded, knowing the plan by heart.
Breaking from the wall, Jack rounded the corner, which led up to the back porch and, ultimately, the kitchen. “Ma,” he shouted, “I’m hooooome~!” There was a pleasant chirp to the way he said her name.
Not a second later, a door slid open and the sound of quick feet against a deck followed. “Oh Jacky!” It was a woman’s voice. His mom’s voice. “What are you doing home?” Her hands were running through his hair, cupping his cheeks, and checking out his less-than-desirable hole-infected jeans. “What are these,” she said tugging at the material. “Take them off before your father has a f-”
The deck boards moaned as another body stepped onto it.
“Don’t hear from you for five months and you come back wearing that,” his voice is gruff, antagonizing.
Jack rolled his eyes. “You do know what I do, right?” He pointed to the logo printed on the back of his form-fitting shirt. “Right?”
His old man snorted before shoving his hands into his pockets. “So what brings you here?”
Jack rarely showed up, unless he was looking for something-money, his Jeep, someone to mend his torn pants.
“Well,” Jack ran a hand through his soft, golden locks. This was probably the hardest thing he’d ever do. He wasn’t the type to really bring a woman home. “I wanted to introd-”
“Better not be the fucking guy from last time,” his father interrupted. “If I ever see ’m again, I’m getting the shotgun.”
His face paled. Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to bring his girlfriend over. Still, he had to stand his ground. “Dad,” Jack’s voice was sassy and sly, “His name is Gabe and he’s my friend. We don’t shoot my friends, especially friends who have high ranks in Overw-”
Again, the older Morrison cut him off.
“I don’t care,” he spat off the porch. “I don’t like him. Know a bad tomato when I see one.”
“Technically he’d be a taco,” his mother corrected.
“Mom,” Jack’s voice cracked. Did his mother really just make a racist comment. What was this? 2016?
“What,” she chuckled to herself, “I’m just saying he’s not a tomato. Not red enough.”
Shoulders caving, Jack pinched the bridge of his nose. “This is just going south. Coming was a mistake.” Without looking, he stepped down the stairs, backwards. “Maybe I’ll try back in a few months.”
“No, no, no,” his mother protested. “You didn’t drive all the way out here to leave.” Her hands crossed over her chest. Her husband went to open his mouth but her hand smacked him before he could. “Play nice or no pie for your later.”
“There’s pie?” His father was a sucker for her homemade pies, especially the cherry one.
“There will be since Jack is home.”
Again, Jack rolled his eyes before sighing. How was he supposed to introduce Angela now? They ruined everything with their bickering and comments, especially the ones about Reyes.
“Well?” His father’s brows hiked up his head. “You just gonna stand there or are you going to get on in and help set t-”
Before he could finish, a loud shrill pierced the air. Seconds later, a body flew from around the corner. A woman’s body. Slim, fit, and with lovely, long blonde hair. She jumped right up onto Jack’s back with a finger pointing toward the corner of the house.
“F-f-f-f-frog,” her face burrowed into the space between his shoulder blades. Her hands further snaked around his body, absolutely refusing to let go until it was deemed safe and frog-less.
As if it were straight out of a movie, his parent’s heads turned to look at one another before panning forward to spy the cute blonde woman clinging so desperately to their son’s back. Their eyebrows arched as their arms crossed over their chests, questioning eyes evident as they tried to connect the dots before them.
Their son never brought home a girl.
Breaking out into a ab-attacking laugh, Jack rolled forward. This action brought Angela swinging around until she eventually landed right before him. With his laughter growing, Angela fell in line, her melodic laughing pairing nicely with that of their sons.
With their eyebrows still quirked, the Morrisons glanced to one another before demanding with their bluebell eyes for an answer.
“Dad, mom,” he drew the back of his hand across his lips, moist from the deep laughter he and Ang just shared in, “this is my girlfriend, Angela.”
“Pleased to meet you,” she curtsied before waving politely. “Someone,” her eyes narrowed before throwing daggers at Jack, “forgot to mention that you have frogs here.”
Biting his lip, Jack chuckled to himself. “I didn’t think you’d actually run into one,” his voice was soft, airy, delightful. It forced the wrinkles on his father’s face to retreat. It brought a warm, buttery glow to his mother’s face.
Mr Morrison elbowed his wife. “I like this one.”
She leaned into him. “Think he’ll marry her?”
They hardly whispered, which caused Angela to catch her laugh with her hands. Jack, instinctively, wrapped his arms around the woman and twirled her about, hoping to distract her and maybe get his folks off the ill-timed comment.
They were giddy. They were young. They were in love.
“We only just started dating,” Ang piped up before turning her beaming gaze up to Jack. “Right?”
He nodded, lips falling sweetly into her blonde hair. A quick kiss was planted before they separated.
“Jack insisted that I meet you,” she stepped up with her hand out. But before anyone could take it, Jack’s parents pulled the woman into their endearing embrace. “And you said they wouldn’t like me,” she teased while squeezing them back. “They’re delightful,” she added. Not having a family of her own anymore, Ang was more than happy to engage in a long, loving hug. It had been forever since she last shared one with people like this.
“You’re welcome here whenever you’d like,” his father stated.
A light smack fell against his forearm. “You mean, we’d like you to stay forever.” His mother smirked, loving the thought of finally having another girl around.
A moan came from the lawn. From Jack.
“Take it Jack doesn’t bring many girls home,” Angela said with that flirty grin in tow.
“Not one,” his father retorted. “Wasn’t sure he even liked wo-”
“OKAY,” Jack stepped forward and to separate his parents from Angela. “So how about we talk about that pie.”
And they wonder why I never wanted to bring people home. He chuckled before pulling from those memories.
Happy tears clutched the edges of his eyelashes, but they didn’t spill or fall. He kept them right in line, as if they were soldiers.
Then he crumbled. Caving, he fell forward into the horse’s mane. His breath heavy as he tried to breathe. “Angel,” his voice trembled. It was meek, weak. He was ever fearful. “Please, please be okay. I-I…” he swallowed the large lump that blocked his airway, “I can’t lose you.”
As silence fell over him, Jack continued to stare at the ground. And god only knows for how long he rode there in silence. Each passing minute of solitude, brought him closer to the day he was presumed dead. Jack felt like he was losing this battle, just like the one he lost at HQ.
But at least Angel lived, he told himself. At least she survived. And, a smile pushed away his frowning, at least Jr was safe.
This, what he was doing-moping and being miserable-it wasn’t going to bring Ang back. It was time he soldier up. Get tough. He’d been through worse. He could find Angela. He had to. The world, his world, depended on it.
Hands curling around the mask, he paused. If he was going to yell for her, he needed this damn thing off. But, doing that would reveal his identity. Would that… would that be good?
“Fuck it,” he mused.
His fingers pried the material away, which resulted in a pneumatic hiss before a click released it. Really, he could have played the mask off as if he were Darth Vader. Actually, that made his brows furrow. He didn’t want to be the bad guy.
Tucking his mask between his legs, his hands came up to curl around his face.
“ANGELA!” he belted into the storm. “ANGIE!” He called again. “WHERE ARE YOU?”
When the hills and forest bounced his echo back, he tried harder. Maybe he wasn’t loud enough. Clearing his throat, he screamed the second the thunder vibrated the world around him.
Somewhere, off in the distance, came a faint cry. It was hard to make out, too, due to the heavy rainfall. But, if he trusted his gut, that voice sounded like it said, “Help. Over here.”
Leaning forward, he made eye contact with the horse he rod upon. “You heard that too,” his brow hitched. The horse snorted, head nodding. “Well then, what are we waiting for. Heeya!”
Careful calculations allowed both man and horse to ascend up the rocky hill that stood between them and the faint voice on the other side. Hand butting against his brows, he blocked the rain from marring his vision.
“WHERE ARE YOU,” he shouted into the valley.
The horse’s ears jerked forward, wise enough to know that they were listening for a return call.
Nothing but silence.
Jack slid off the horse. “She’s got to be nearby,” he said with grit teeth, hating the idea that maybe he was just hallucinating. But the horse heard the return call too. He couldn’t have been dreaming.
The bark of a dog brought their swiveling heads toward the sound. Not installing the mask, Jack brought the visor to his eyes.
“Tactical visor activated,” he repeated without prompt.
As the screen scanned the area, it honed in one one figure. No. Two. Two lifeforms.
Eyes narrowing, he stared down that red screen. If he looked hard enou-
“There!” Jack pulled the mask away.
Not even waiting for the horse to follow, he started jumping down the stone-covered hillside. A few times his footing caused a landslide (nothing noteworthy other than it did make him flail) but he did eventually make it down to the bottom.
Eyes up, he scanned the area. Last he saw them they were over th-
Again, he rushed forward. Body falling forward, he scrambled up that hill on all fours. It was probably for the best, as the grass was slick with all the rainwater-rainwater that still continued to fall around them.
Arf, arf! The barking was louder. Arf, arf, arf! It was anxious too.
Shit, Jack chided internally. That meant only one thing.
Cresting the hill, his eyes fell on the collapsed woman. Her pale yellow hair matted against her face. Mud caked on her cheeks. Miserable painted all over her hunched shoulders. Her foot was wedged between a rock and a fallen log. Her jaw was clenched and tight. Her eyes, closed, but the vein above her brows bulged. She was in pain, immense pain.
Scrambling forward, his hands started to pat the log that sat upon her. He wasn’t heavy by any means but, due to her fatigue, she probably couldn’t lift it. It wasn’t like she had breakfast or lunch!
With little effort, Jack pried the log off Angela’s tender foot. Her ankle was swollen, at least four times the usual size now.
He winced. He was no doctor but-!
He patted his sides. Yes! He took out the medical canister. If he cou-
Arf, arf! The dog’s cold nose pressed against his neck.
“A-A-Avery?” Jack dropped the can as his hands scrunched up the wet, matted fur of the German Shepherd. “Have you been helping her?” The dog nodded. “Adda boy,” he patted him before checking out the area. “We have to get somewhere dry.”
Avery was already on it. Leaping forward, he climbed up the side of the hill just a bit. Once up, he started to howl and bark while running toward what looked like a black opening.
“A cave!” Jack’s smile came onto his face.
Turning to Ang, he scooped the fainted woman into his arms. He was careful not to mess anything else up. It was bad enough her leg and ankle were already injured. And, from the scuffs on her shoulders and arms, it looked like she had a few minor bruises and scrapes too.
She was so light. So pale. So…
Bleeding?! She was bleeding. How did he not catch that before.
Double-time, just like we trained with Overwatch. With uncanny speed, he hauled ass up that hill. In no time, he was in the cave and setting Angela gingerly against the damp floor. Reaching for his pocket, he felt the lack of weight. Brows furrowing, he patted himself down. Where in the blue blazes did the canister go?
“Shit,” he turned to the dog, “I forgot the canister.” His brow quirked. “Fetch?”
Avery complied and barreled out the entrance. A few minutes later, he returned with the tool in hand.
“Thanks, boy.” He patted between his ears while pulling the device from the dog’s jaw.
Shaking it feverishly, he then shoved it into the ground. The second it made impact, a warm, yellow glow illuminated the cave.
“Hey,” Jack moved closer to his fallen angel, “I’m no doctor,” his hand fell softly against her cheek. “But I’m here. I’ll save you.”
Leaning into her, his pursed lips planted a gentle kiss right off to the left of her lips. “I’m here,” he cooed while brushing her hair back.
Brow furrowing, the tingle of the medical canister started to awaken her. Just momentarily. Just enough for her to open her glassy blue eyes to catch the face of a ghost.
“J-ack,” she fought to talk, exhausting gripping her. “Y-y-you’re h-h-”
His hand brushed against her jawline. “I’m home, Angel.” He smiled down at her, tears in his eyes. “I’m home.”