yet then she carries her inside and takes care of her

I am SO happy

So about 4 days ago my brother was working in the yard and he was getting rid of this big old plastic pot we had that was already falling apart. To fit it in the garbage bag he had to smash it into smaller pieces with a shovel.

But when he dumped out the dirt….

…eggs. Ten little eggs.


My mom brought them in to show me. Not knowing what they were or if they were dangerous or not, she asked me if I wanted to take one and open it up outside to make sure it wasn’t full of baby bugs or something. I told her that they were definitely reptile eggs but she was still giving them the ‘I-still-don’t-trust-that-they-aren’t-bugs’ look.

I knew there was no way it was full of bugs and I wouldn’t be able to get it off my mind if we cut one out and killed it. But then I remembered candling.

If you don’t know what candling is, it’s when you put a flashlight under an egg to check if it’s fertile or not.

So I told her to hold on and I ran to get a flashlight.

Lo and behold they were not bugs.

It was our first time ever candling anything so we weren’t exactly sure what to look for. The only videos I had ever seen for candling an egg was a video talking about how some geckos lay eggs without a mate but there is a rare chance they could be fertile anyway; the eggs in the video were always empty though. So we checked all the eggs and they were all alive and responsive. I managed to convince my family that I was 99% sure they were lizards of some kind.

Since we kind of accidentally destroyed their nest and a storm was coming we set out to give them somewhere safe to hatch.

 We got a pot and filled it with damp dirt like the one we found them in but smaller. After candling each egg, we made a divot in the dirt and placed each egg half in and half off, careful not to turn them too much and damage them.

My mom did some research and found that the eggs needed to be kept somewhere with good humidity so we got a plastic book crate, drilled some holes in it, and filled the bottom with wet paper towels.

The mystery eggs were put in the garage where it was just as hot as outside but safe from the huge thunderstorm.

Day 2 of eggs and nothing happened. We didn’t think anything would happen just yet but we were all a little worried that we were doing the wrong thing. It was my day to go finish up cleaning up the dirt and shards from the broken pot in the yard when I found another egg.

I picked it up and it wasn’t as firm as the others. In fact it was leaking. I called my mom and candled the little guy. He was just as alive as the others were. There wasn’t much room in the new incubator with the other eggs so we got a tiny beta fish tank we haven’t used in years and fixed it up for the egg. We put it in the garage next to the others.

Now this egg had me worried. He had been out in the storm with a damaged egg. I would go out and check on him throughout the day. Not a thing happened and I was starting to worry that he didn’t make it.

Day 3 of eggs was interesting. I went out to check again on little egg 11 with my mom. She asked how the others were doing and wanted to see. It was fogged up on the inside so I shone a light through and saw it. A head! A little baby lizard head poking out of the egg! 

The incubator was taken inside and everyone was gathered around the table. We would all switch from watching the eggs, to someone doing research, to checking the eggs, to setting up the empty tank we had, to checking the eggs again.

All together 4 little lizards were hatching. They’d kick for a bit in their eggs but then fall asleep because it was so tiring. 

After a while my mom got concerned about one that hadn’t opened its eyes in ages. It wasn’t moving. I picked up the egg and put it in my hand. I rubbed the shell and gently gave it little tugs. Then out the baby came!

This little guy came out healthy and fast. After a brief look-around he ran out of my hand and back into the pot. Then over the edge of the pot to explore the hides we fit in. 

After 4 of the babies fully hatched and we figured out what we were going to do, we put the incubators in the spare tank we had so we could keep an eye on them. At that point it was a little past 1:00am and a 5th egg started to hatch.

Day 4 of eggs and lizards we went to the local pet store to get something that these super small babies could eat. Luckily, Petco carries super small crickets and meal worms. We loaded up on reptile supplies: bus, vitamin dust, hides, heat lamps, you name it we probably bought it.

Upon getting home my mother and I readied the tank.

At that point all but two eggs had hatched. One we thought wasn’t going to make it because it didn’t react when I candled it, and the other was number 11 who was found a day late and broken. We decided to move the two into one incubator instead of two while we moved 9 of the lizards into their temporary home.

When we look for them they were hiding in the incubator all curled up together under a plant we had put in. They actually seem to do that everywhere they decide to hide which is kind of surprising to me. I thought they were going to all be really territorial with each other. But they seem to like each other more than I thought they would.

After a few hours, number 11 hatched and he was just as healthy and fast as the others despite being through the storm earlier. Not too long after that, the last egg hatched. He was much smaller than the others but equally as fast. We added them both to the tank with the others and they hid as quick as a ninja.

Day 5 of lizards was mostly setting up heat lamps and lights and worrying if they were okay. They stayed hidden under rocks and brush. We never saw them eat so we went back to researching.

Day 6 of lizards and they are alive and well! They’ve taken a liking to the new heat lamp and have been scuttling around there all day. I even saw one eat a cricket! 

Even the smallest of the bunch was enjoying himself in the warmth :)

I will continue to take care of them until it comes time to release them back to their natural habitat. I’ll keep you all updated. It’s such a strange and wonderful learning experience :) 

How to Make Your Villain Domestic but Still Evil

It’s the oxymoron that attracts us. Billowing black cape, terrifying worldviews, a willingness to make the streets run red with blood – and you know what would be hilarious? Them trying and failing to make morning pancakes. You know what would really hit us in the feels? Watching them show tenderness around a special someone.

Having a villain with a domestic side is lassoing a black hole, and it’s a tantalizing thing to watch. However, anyone who’s indulged in these daydreams with their own villains has probably encountered one very specific issue: it makes them less evil. They lose their edge.

For example, look at Crowley from CW’s Supernatural. This was a guy to be feared at one point; arriving out of nowhere at unexpected times, always playing both sides of the conflict, and you could be certain he would skin anyone necessary to get what he wanted – usually without getting a single drop of blood on his impeccable suit.

Flash forward to recent seasons, and we’ve seen Crowley cry and whimper more times than Dean has died –which is saying something. At first, it was fascinating to discover this powerful character actually had a tender side; and now, when Crowley makes a threat, we’re about as afraid as when any low-level demon makes one. This is because his evil was too compromised. He let himself go.

How can we avoid this mistake with our villains? The answer isn’t making them crush puppies and hate butterflies at every turn; it’s in balancing their core scariness with their softer side – giving them complexity, giving us a bit of “aww,” and making their eventual whiplash back into ‘terrifying’ all the more wonderful.

For this, we’re going to use Epic of Lilith by Ivars Ozols as an example. This book centers on arguably the original female villain – Lilith, the first woman of the Garden of Eden, who got on the “good guys’” bad side by refusing to submit to someone who was clearly her equal. There won’t be any spoilers below, but if you give the book a read (it’s an easy page turner), the points will be driven home stronger.

Plus it’s a book with a great female villain who isn’t objectified (don’t let the cover fool you, seriously) and prose that isn’t full of sexual over- or undertones. Talk about a win, eh?

Here we go.    

Keep reading

I Gift to You

@restlessandordinary OKAY, two things. One, I had this idea in my head and it is probably WAY different than you originally planned. Sorry about that. Two, this is later than I told you I would get it out. Sorry about that. Three, if you’ve got an AO3, I would like to have it so that I can gift this to you, since it is longer than a normal drabble and can stand as a oneshot. 

————————————————————————–


               The first time it happened, Draco swore it was just a slip up. He wouldn’t do it again. Nope. Potter certainly didn’t deserve his generosity. Because that was exactly what this was. People didn’t give him enough credit when it came to being nice.

               It’s just that the sight of the eleven-year-old in glasses that weren’t fitting his face, were horribly old, fading in color and just not aesthetically pleasing, had him wanting to rectify this travesty immediately. This wasn’t because he cared or anything. Nope. This was doing everyone else a favor. Really. It benefited society by no one having to see the hideous specs.

               Draco timed it perfectly. He knew that Potter tended to spend longer eating than everyone else. Certainly, longer than Weasley. The redhead inhaled food quicker than he did air. So, when Potter was about to leave for his morning class, Draco signaled the school owl that he had trained to wait for his mark. It took weeks to train the bloody bird. The only problem was that the bird was now attached to him. Which hadn’t been previously intended. At least the owl had proper taste.

               The brown barn owl swooped down, catching the attention of a few stragglers but otherwise the notice was limited.

               Confusion was the first expression that Draco could make out. He knew that the Gryffindor probably wondered why his snowy owl hadn’t delivered the mail, but the boy was too curious to not open it. Not exactly the smartest thing to do but that was just his own suspicious nature coming forward.

               The confusion quickly bled into shock before a genuinely pleased glint appeared in the brunette’s eyes.

               Instructions had been placed in the package, because Draco knew that intelligence was the reason the reckless idiot hadn’t been placed into Ravenclaw. The glasses were charmed to stay on his face until the wearer wished them off. They would mold to the user’s needs, whether the eye sight got worse with age or not. Not to mention, the frames would change to match the user’s outfit, ensuring that they remain elegant at all times. Which was a deal breaker in his opinion.

               Draco’s resolve to allow this to be a brief moment of weakness and a onetime instance, shattered at the flush on Potter’s face and a shy grin flickered on the Gryffindor’s lips.

               Salazar, this wasn’t supposed to happen. The git wasn’t allowed to make him feel like this. Draco Lucius Malfoy doesn’t do sappy feelings.

               Angrily, Draco made his way swiftly towards the entrance, inwardly cursing Potter’s existence. It wasn’t until he almost reached the door that he heard Longbottom’s question.

               “Oh, wow. Those are pretty expensive. Who sent them to you?”

               “No idea.” Potter’s tone was a little awed. “The note just says, ‘To fix your face, finally’.”

 —————————————————————-

               Draco was determined that the second time still be counted as a slip up. This wasn’t going to be a regular thing. Nope. Not at all. Because that was just silly. Draco Lucius Malfoy doesn’t do nice things for other people. Especially to Potter.

               Unfortunately, the delivery was not as well timed as last year’s gift. The other two members of the Idiotic Trio were still around.

               He watched his the school owl struggle to carry the packages and it caused a twinge of guilt inside Draco. He couldn’t trust any other owls to do the job, so the bird would have to do it alone.

               When Potter looked to the owl, it was clear that he recognized the bird. The Gryffindor reached out a hand to softly pet the owl before opening the packages with gusto.

               Draco couldn’t hear what was going on from where he sat, but he could tell that the other boy had gasped. It was the way the eyes widened, and his mouth dropped open slowly. Which was a great reaction so far. He knew that his gift would mean something. Not that he cared about that.

               The silence was killing him. He needed to know what was being said. Draco slowly made to the end of the table, pretending that he was listening to a few of his housemate’s conversations before using that as a reason to go a different route towards the exit.

               Just as he passed, he caught the beginning of Weasley’s questions.

               “What is it? Why would someone send you books full of scribbles?”

               Draco rolled his eyes and sighed heavily. Scribbles. That one actually hurt.

               “It’s not scribbles, Ron!” Granger corrected. “I think it’s in Parseltongue.”

               “It is.” Potter whispered, fingers running over the title of the first book. Behind the Wonders of Parseltongue Volume I: The History of the Snake Language and Why it’s a Blessing and Not a Curse.

               “Why do you think they sent it?” Weasley asked, eyeing the book warily.

               “To send me a message.” Answered Potter, placing the book in his lap, only to pick up the second one. Behind the Wonders ofParseltongue Volume II: The Astonishing Accomplishments that Parseltongue has Brought to the World.

               “What message? Because they think you are Slytherin’s Heir?”

               Draco wasn’t going to even bother coming up with a mental reply for that one.

               “No.” Potter shook his head. “So that I can love all parts of me. Even the ones that are perceived as evil.”

               The insight had Draco fighting off a flush. That was not his intention… not exactly. He just hated the thought of others degrading Potter’s ability just because they don’t understand it. There is nothing wrong with being a Parselmouth. It wasn’t dark, vile or even evil.

               “Does the note say who it’s from?” There was suspicion in Granger’s tone, which had Draco scoffing internally. If he had wanted to harm Potter, he would have. It’s not like the brunette even spell checks the gifts. Which was actually pretty moronic, but that was just Draco’s thought on the matter.

               “No, it just says, ‘To learn something, for once’.”

 ————————————————————–

               The evidence against this being a onetime incident was becoming a reach, even in Draco’s own mind. But that was beside the point.

               So far, this would probably be his worst idea yet. This was getting rather personal… but he couldn’t allow this year to continue with the mass hysteria that everyone walked around with. Not when it was a farce to begin with.

               This time, he chose to have Russet—not that he named the infernal bird—deliver the gift during a nighttime study session the Idiotic Trio were having in the Library.

               When a light scratching drew Potter’s attention to the window next to him, Draco stepped into the shadows of an alcove.

               “Oh, it’s you.” Potter’s voice took a happy glint to it.

               Draco watched him rip of the packaging and freeze. This was a normal reaction, but he just hoped that the brunette wouldn’t become angry.

               News clippings, articles posted in obscure news outlets, court records and even statements made by the accused where staring up at Potter.

               He watched Potter’s brow furrow slightly with each passing minute until he was full blown frowning as each parchment was leafed through.

               “Hermione!” Potter whisper yelled as his voice cracked.

               “What? What is it? Oh, your anonymous friend sent you something?” Granger hadn’t looked up from her book on Medieval Flobberworms and Why They Were the Downfall of Mermish Society, as she walked down the aisle.

               “Hermione, can the Wizengamot sentence someone to Azkaban without a trial?”

               That caused Granger to peer up at him in confusion. “No, it violates several laws and is illegal.”

               Potter thrusted all of the articles harshly as Weasley came around the other side of the table and read over their shoulders.

               “Oh.” Granger whispered, blinking rapidly. “This isn’t good.”

               “Black is innocent, isn’t he?” There was a miserable confusion in Potter’s tone. But Draco couldn’t have admitted that he knew from his father that Black truly hadn’t been a Death Eater, without revealing sources.

               “Let me guess.” Weasley began sarcastically. “There’s no signature?”

               “Just a note that says, ‘To provide the proof that has always been there, idiot’.”

 ———————————————————-

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Smooth Criminal

Officer!Bucky Barnes x Drunk!Reader

Summary: Bucky’s a cop and got called to a crime scene to arrest a criminal but he realizes the criminal is the person he’s dating

Word Count:1,892

Warnings: Police!Au, Language, Drunk Shenanigans, Major Floof

A/N: Written for Manu’s writing challenge, couldn’t help but write cop!Bucky again. @jurassicbarnes thank you for the fun opportunity.

Originally posted by uncensoredsideblog

It had been a quiet night for Officer James Buchanan Barnes and his partner. So far, they had to deal with a fight between two drunk men, an exhibitionist and a few reckless drivers.

Bucky had started his shift at 10 p.m. the previous night and it was now just after 4 a.m. He kept repeating ‘only two more hours’ like a mantra and tried to imagine you all wrapped up and sound asleep in your bed. He really wanted to be with you.

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{PART 27} I Won’t Stop You // Jeon Jungkook, Vampire!AU

Originally posted by jengkook

Pairing: Jungkook x Reader

Genre: Vampire!AU, Fantasy, Angst, Smut

Summary; As death enters the room to claim a soul; so does life. Who shall live and who shall die - as you begin to wonder…is this really the end?

“And as he looked upon her face amidst the madness, he saw everything he held close depart his world; while she slipped into the next”

|| Warning: This chapter contains mentions of blood and some scenes that readers may find upsetting ||

I update this series every Tuesday evening, 9pm-10pm (UK Time)

{Part 1} // {Part 26} {Part 27} {Part 28}

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Bruise [ IX ]

Genre [Rating] : Angst [M]

Length: 6k

Pairing: Chanyeol x Reader

Summary: He wasn’t yours, and you weren’t his, but that couldn’t stop your heart from believing otherwise.

Bruise Masterlist

Originally posted by loverkoreanasian

Red was the color that painted your skin through the sleepless night alone. Your eyes grew red from the endless stream of frustrated tears that dripped down your temples. Your cheeks changed hue from rawness, the sleeves of your sweater scratching away at them until they near bled. Your phone battery drained to zero, red painting the icon when you stared at it, debating calling him so his voice could fade your consciousness. Your lips drew too much blood to the surface when you bit down on them to stop another sigh from slipping out, desperate for it to all stop. Desperate for everything to be a dream you could wake up from rather than something you had to deal with when the sun rose back up into the sky.

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Do you ever shut up?

Desc: Richie Tozier is notorious for having the worlds biggest crush on Y/N, Bill’s older sister. The only problem was the fact that Y/N was in an exclusive relationship with Henry Bowers. Push comes to shove rapidly and soon Y/N is kidnapped by the one and only Pennywise, will they get to her in time?

Pairing: Reader/Richie Tozier

Warning: Harsh language, mentions of sex.


Do you ever shut up?

It was no secret that Richie liked Y/N, everyone knew and no one really cared. In all honestly they simply expected it to be puppy love, something he would outgrow once he saw another hot girl wandering around innocently. But, what they didn’t know was that it wasn’t just puppy love to him. It was more like infatuation, a craving, actual love. Unfortunately, Y/N was off limits, as Bill had said numerous times. That, and she didn’t really think Richie’s jokes were very funny either. She actually found them to be rather rude, ignorant even, but she let it slide. He wasn’t hurting anyone, she didn’t think.

She knew well that Henry Bowers, her exclusive boyfriend, wasn’t the best person in the world. He wasn’t a saint, but who was? Y/N knew that everyone deserved a chance to change, a chance to be happy. But, Henry never seemed to change his ways, he was still the school bully who had children cowering when he walked by, and Y/N was known throughout the school as ‘Henry Bowers Girlfriend.’ She was certain they never called her by name.

It was either that, or ‘Stuttering Bill’s sister’ or even perhaps, 'Georgie Denbrough’s sister, the kid who died.’ Really this had grown to make Y/N very uncomfortable. She was her own person, not just Bill and Georgie’s sister, not just Henry Bowers girlfriend.

*

At this current moment in time, Y/N was saying her goodbyes to the losers’, having to go home and help her mother with dinner and cleaning for a bit (she was certain it was Bill’s turn, but he argued against it.)

“I’ll buh-be home in a fuh-few hours.” Bill said, as Y/N waved them off and left to go home, fixing her hair as she walked.

”She really looks good from the back, and the front.“ Richie stated, adjusting his large glasses on his nose. This remark didn’t go unnoticed, a series of groans and eyerolls took over for the moment before Beverly stepped in to break the silence.

“Beep beep, Richie.” She said rather sternly, leaning back in her seat, she was rather annoyed at the inappropriate comment but definitely not as annoyed as Bill.

“T-that’s my sister, idiot. Duh-don’t talk about her l-like that.“ Bill stated blandly, clearly uncomfortable with the comment himself, and certain that Y/N would ultimately destroy Richie for a comment like that.

”It’s not my fault she’s hot…“ He paused for a moment, as if thinking it over before starting to speak again. ”And kind, and funny, and sweet, and—“ he was cut off by Stan talking over him.

”Dude, do you actually like her?“ Stan spoke, his voice slightly deeper than the other losers’, which they just expected it was because he was a little older than them.

Richie hadn’t noticed the opened-mouthed gazes that were trained to his face and the wide eyes searching for a hint of a lie. But Richie wasn’t lying. He really did think all those things about Y/N, but he knew the Henry would literally kill him for saying any of it.

“Do you ah-actually like my s-sister, Trashmouth?” Bill asked in utter astonishment, causing Richie to sink into his seat in embarrassment and shrug a little.

*

It had been three or four days since the losers’ realised that Richie wasn’t just chasing Y/N for her looks and since then it had been tense in the group everytime the two were together. Y/N didn’t really understand why everyone was so quiet whilst they were out, walking along the river bank in the mid afternoon sun. Beverly and Y/N had been talking, but it was low, almost like a whisper as they spoke as if the others would be mortified at their conversation.

It didn’t take long before they had ran into Henry and his group, minus Patrick who had been missing for several days. This utterly let to a panic within the losers’ but they seemed to remain calm, all of which were rather frightened besides Y/N.

“Hey Losers’, if you’re trying to get into her pants–” he stopped speaking to point a finger in Beverly’s direction, Y/N falling unnoticed, “All you have to do is ask nicely like I did.” He spoke with a wicked grin on his face, like something straight out of a thriller movie.

It was clear that the remark hit Beverly hard, but it hit Y/N equally as hard when she realised what he had said. In a fit of rage, Y/N picked up the biggest rock she could find and flung it as hard as she could. Her throw coming out rather well, hitting Henry on the forehead with enough force to draw blood.

“What the fuck!?” Henrys voice sounded from across the new-found battlefield as he chucked another rock back at her but failed to hit her or do any serious damage to anyone else.

”Rock War!“ sounded out from the losers’ side of the river as sudden airborne rocks were flying back and forth.

Even in this instance, Y/N felt like she was having the time of her life. She didn’t really care that after this her and Henry would be over for good, in fact she was incredibly happy about that. A smile spread over her face, even when a rock hit her painfully in the side. She had no idea how her and Bill would explain the deep purple bruises to their parents later, but she didn’t care anymore. This felt like a new beginning to her, she felt more welcome with the losers’ than she ever had with Henrys obnoxious clique.

She felt alive!

Once the final rocks were thrown, Henrys gang started to back up a bit, having suffered the most.

“Yeah! That’s right! Fuck off and go back to blowing your dad!“ Richie shouted from their spot a few meters away. There was a silence for a moment.

“And stay away from my girl!” He finished with, and Y/N didn’t care a single bit.

*

The bruises took several days to heal, turning from purple to a bluish shade, to a deep red and vanishing entirely. Y/N and Bill had been interrogated by their parents once they got home, but they simply smiled at each other and answered with blatant lies. Once their parents had bought it, the siblings it would be best to stay inside till the bruises healed once and for all.

Y/N sat by the window, the rain pattering against the glass in an almost rhythmic pattern. Her fingers followed the small drops as they raced down the glass, and she rested her head against the cool window. Looking out into the street she was almost certain she had seen a flash of yellow and red running by, and when she looked again she found herself staring at a small newspaper boat, with ’S.S Georgie’ scrawled messily along the side. Tied to it floated a red balloon which carried it with ease down the street as a little boy ran after it in a yellow slicker and red galoshes.

Y/N couldn’t believe her eyes, a sense of delight washing over her as she pulled on her fushia coloured rain coat and ran outside, slamming the door behind herself and chased the small boy down the street, calling out 'Georgie? Georgie!’ every time she got the chance. Deep down, a small part of her understood that Georgie wasn’t actually coming home, that he was almost definitely killed. But, she couldn’t help with hope and pray to God that this was Georgie by some convenience.

She ran after the child with every inch of energy in her body but he always seemed just out of reach, that was until she rounded the corner and came face to face with something she dreaded the most. A clown. A clown with a twisted grin on his makeup clad face. She suppressed a scream, her hand to her mouth and her teeth digging into the side of her pale skin. She noticed the one-armed boy standing behind the clown with his boat in his hands and recognised him as her brother. And then everything went black.

*

She awoke soon after, still face to face with the God-awful clown that she hated ever so much, yet this time there was no Georgie and this didn’t seem like the upper ground of Derry anymore. In fact, it seemed more like the sewers, and her suspicion didn’t go astray. She was shaking, her hands and knees trembling and her bottom lip quivering as if holding back tears, but she slapped on a confident expression.

“Why are you doing this?” She cried out at last, only to be met with a bizarre smile and a finger pressed to the clowns lips. She stopped speaking just long enough to hear the thudding of someone walking along the sewer pipes, then it came to sound like a group of people.

Y/N wanted to cry, she wanted to scream and tell them to go back and leave her here. To save themselves from their independent doom, but she couldn’t. She simply found herself in an utter trance, staring into the clowns eyes, that was until the losers’ burst into the sewer baring what seemed to be weapons of some sort or another.

“Fucking clowns..” Richie spoke through gritted teeth before they each took their fair share of clown beating till the monster clawed its way away from them, leaving Y/N dazed and confused before spotting the rather bloody, bruised, and ridiculous looking group of teenagers.

Y/N had never been so pleased, she ran forward and incased Bill in the worlds tightest hug, muttering apologies and thank you’s for what seemed like forever.

“Hey! I was the one who figured out where you were and what had happened.” Richie fummed unhappily, rather jealous that he didn’t receive the same attention as her brother did.

“Well then thank you too, Trashmouth.” Y/N laughed as she pulled him into an equally tight hug, an endless smile on her face.

“Really it was nothing, could have…would have done it anyday for you Y/N, It wasn’t that big a deal I mean anyone could have done it–” Richie proceeded to boast, gaining a playful eyeroll from Y/N.

“Beep beep Richie.” She stated simply, gaining a strange look from Richie before she pressed her lips to his, and for a moment Richie could have sworn his heart completely stopped.

Once she had pulled away, both were red faced and flustered, though Richie was so close to passing out it was almost unreal. He simply couldn’t say another word besides 'Awesome!’, and honestly Y/N was sure everyone else in the room groaned in annoyance at the sudden display of affection.

Y/N couldn’t have been happier.


{For the lovely Anon who sent me four different asks with so much detail, I absolutely loved writing this!

I hope this is good enough for you! Please keep in mind I haven’t proof read it so there may be some grammar or spelling mistakes throughout, I’m so very sorry. Also, I’m not sure how long it is, so I apologise if it’s too short!}

The Paladins Reacting To You Getting Hurt In Battle Would Include..

I DO NOT OWN THE GIF

PROMPT?:  hello! i friggin love your blog. do you think you could do a would include for the voltron paladins, how they would react to you getting hurt in battle/captured?? sorry if it’s a bad explanation, i haven’t really requested for much ahah. thank you so much!

A/N: An option for allura lovers! yay! And hell yeh i added dad Coran. Also this is my first one in this format so be kind? and these all surround the same kind of injury! 

WARNINGS: gender neutral!! pain mention?? cursing

SHIRO: When he hears your body hit the alien dirt, Shiro loses all patience. He orders all the other paladins to start kicking ass and runs to your noodle body. Although he knows it’s probably bad, he would start cradling your neck and wrap his other available arm around your midsection and nervously smile down at you. He would laugh and brush away any dirt or stray hairs. And once you got back to the castle, he would attend to your every need, even the smallest pillow fluff. Lots of “Shiro, I can walk-” “Nope, crutches.” and “Shiro, I’m breathing. You can go to bed.” but he would stay there anyway. He would keep you from fighting for at least a week. And lots of nose kisses once he feels your ‘frail and fragile’ body could handle it.

PIDGE: Once you’re taken out of battle, Pidge’s fighting power like.. triples. She finishes it for you. She will make sure that whatever hurts you, pays for it. Most of the paladins get out of the way once the news gets over the com that you’re hurt. And once she’s pulled away from kicking the enemy and berating it, she runs endless medical tests on you. Space CAT Scans and going into the castle healing pods for at least three hours a day until even the pod rejects you. She will hang out with you and make you soup and bring you water if you even look the least bit dehydrated. She will block off a good portion of the lounge so Lance and Keith have to sit on the last three feet of the couch. No one says anything. They’re afraid. 

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fictionandmusic  asked:

wow your writing in the gods and monsters series is amazing! i've always loved greek myths and you bring them to life and add a different twist that makes it better than anything i've ever read about mythology!! if you have time, could you do a continuation of the Hades and Kore story? Kore/Persephone is one of my fav goddesses and i can't wait to see where you take her story!

(continuation of: x, x)

The first time Kore throws herself into the River Styx, she is reckless and stubborn and feels like she has so little left to lose, only an overbearing mother she yearns to escape.

The first time Kore throws herself into the River Styx, she fights and swims and survives. She is picked up on the shore and carried to safety in Hades’s arms.

The second time Kore throws herself into the River Styx, she is reckless and stubborn and feels like she has everything to lose. She lets the water take her, and she drowns.

The second time Kore throws herself into the River Styx, it kills her.

~

Kore wakes up after falling unconscious while being carried by the King of the Underworld. Her skin is fully healed, no longer blistering and burning. She’s naked under the soft blankets, but she was naked when she dove into the river, so she’s not too worried about it.

“I didn’t know you were a goddess,” someone says, and she turns her head to see a little girl sitting by her bedside with black skin and grey eyes and hair. She’s glaring at her, “I wouldn’t have tried to kill you if I’d known. You shouldn’t touch my water – it’s not good for you. It will kill you. It does not care what you are.”

“It did not kill Achilles,” Kore says, pushing herself up so the blanket falls to her waist.

The young Lady Styx huffs and gets to her feet, pushing open the long wardrobe on the other side of the room. “It did, actually. What my river takes, it keeps.” Kore raises an eyebrow. Styx doesn’t explain further, only places a dark blue gown on the bed. “Hecate put some of her old things in here for you. She’s taller and thinner than you are. But you are a goddess. You can make it work.”

“I can,” Kore agrees, amused. She pushes herself out of bed, and her hair falls into her face.

Her hair has been a dark brown her whole life.

She strides over to the wardrobe and pulls it open, starring at herself in the mirror.

Her hair has turned pure, snowy white. The hair on her head of course, but the rest of it too. Her eyebrows, the light hair on her arms and legs, going down her navel, the hair between her legs – all of it white.

“You’re lucky nothing worse happened,” Styx scolds. “My river usually does much worse than that.”

Kore touches one of her new, pale eyebrows. “That is an excellent point, Lady Styx.”

With some clever magic, Kore pulls on the now perfectly fitting gown. Hecate doesn’t tend to bother with them, only dresses up if there’s some sort of celebration that requires her attendance – something that hasn’t happened in a long time, ever since she irritated Zeus and Poseidon to the point that they called for her head on a spike. The gown is old, even by their standards, but its beautifully crafted, stars plucked from the heavens and sewn into the bodice, waves from the seven seas curling around the long skirt. “This is very valuable,” she says, “Is Hecate sure she would like me to have it?”

Styx shrugs, “She said it was a young woman’s dress, and however she may look, she’s not a young woman any more. It’s my favorite dress of hers – I was quite cross that she gave it to you, but I did almost kill you. So I suppose that’s fair enough.”

“Ah,” Kore says, not quite sure how to respond to that. “I see.”

Styx grins at her and grabs her hand. The child goddess’s skin is freezing to the touch, but Kore doesn’t flinch back out of fear of being rude. “Come with me now. Hades wants to see you.”

The girl leads her through the twisting hallways to a polished wooden door. It’s not the throne room, where Kore thought that the girl would take her. She’s seen the grand inner chambers of Poseidon and Zeus’s homes before, of the lesser gods even, and Kore braces herself for something just as grandiose and intimidating.

Styx opens the door and pushes her inside before vanishing.

Kore blinks and looks around.

The room is smaller than she expected. It’s lined with shelves packed with scrolls, and mounted on the opposite wall is large map that’s constantly shifting and changing, and it take her almost a full minute of looking at it to realize it’s a map of the underworld.

“You’re looking better.”

Kore’s eyes snap down, and it’s only then that she notices the figure of Hades, King of the Underworld, hunched over his desk. His hair pulled in messy low ponytail, and there are dark bags under his eyes. He’s in a simple black chiffon, one no more presumptuous than any mortal noble would wear. He’s the most unassuming, unremarkable thing in already unassuming, unremarkable room.

Suddenly, she feels over-dressed.

“Thank you,” she says, not knowing what else to say. She feels – awkward, almost, in front of him, which isn’t something she’s ever felt with anyone. She wants to climb into his lap and rest her head against his shoulder. She wants to force him into some proper clothes for a king. She wants to put him to bed and make him sleep until he loses those bruises under his eyes.

She’s never wanted to do any of those things for anyone before. She doesn’t even know him.

Although – she knows he came for her. That he found an intruder into his realm and picked her up and soothed her, carried her to safety and washed her of the corrosive water of the Styx. He placed her in his palace and did not touch her as so many other men would have touched her.

So perhaps she does know him. At least a little.

He rests his chin on his hand while he looks at her. “Hermes came with a message from your mother, demanding your return.” She doesn’t even have the time to panic before he continues, “I denied her. If she wishes to speak to me in person, I told her she is welcome to step into my realm herself.”

“She won’t do that,” Kore says, “She fears your realm. She fears how her power means nothing in your domain.”

Kore had never known her mother to fear anything – except the land of the dead. She’d grown up thinking Hades must be a hulking, formidable figure to pull fear from her mother’s breast, but that’s clearly not the case.

He smiles, and it’s the first hint of sharpness she’s seen from him. “I know. There will be consequences, of course. But those are my concern. You are a guest of my realm, Goddess of Spring. Walk where you please, and do as you please. No one will stop you.”

He’s already looking back down at his papers, eyebrows drawing together as he scratches out a series of numbers and rewrites them. It’s a clear dismissal, but Kore can’t bring herself to move.

She’s never met this man before. Yet he stands against her mother, yet he welcomes her to his realm, yet he permits unrestricted access to his home, yet he grants her every freedom he’s able.

“Thank you,” she says again. He gives an absent nod, already reaching for another scroll.

She leaves as quietly as she came.

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TEW Dating Headcanons


Dating Sebastian would involve:

  • Falling asleep alone but waking up with him. He doesn’t like staying out late for work, but definitely makes up for it with warm cuddles
  • This man cannot cook but will try his very best to impress you with plenty of home cooked meals and other little labors of love
  • Sometimes when he’s drunk he really can’t keep all the horrible things he’s seen, and all his fears from spilling out. He’s always afraid you’ll leave because of he’s such a unreliable wreck. Just hold him tight. He’s a sensitive guy and needs love and support.
  • Big on PDA, no mater the time or the place if he gets the urge to kiss and cling to you it’s going to happen
  • Acts really confident and serious during lewd acts but will fall apart if you give him attention
  • Seb’s a detective. He almost always a pair of handcuffs on hand. No need to say anything else.


Dating Joseph would involve:

  • He is such a dork and will try to be really formal and polite the first few months you are dating. A bit old fashioned and always a gentleman.
  • Working at the KPD is overwhelming but with your support he feels like he can do anything
  • So passionate it’s rather infectious. Seeing him get excited about a movie/book/whatever seems to rub off on you even if you have zero knowledge/investment in what he’s obsessing over
  • Loves receiving PDA. Hoh boy its wild how reactive he is to every little touch. He’s a bit loud though, so maybe save it for home and not at the station.
  • He’s so soft spoken and gentle but he is fucking strong. It’s almost frightening when you see him work with an axe to cut wood. Wouldn’t want to be on the wrong end of that.
  • Soft cinnamon roll in the streets, total freak in the sheets


Dating Ruvik would involve:

  • First and foremost is his work. If you really are serious about being with him, be ready to lend a helping hand in the lab
  • PDA is a no go at first. He’s not too self conscious about his burns but still doesn’t like being touched or exposed for prolonged periods of time. gradually he’ll come to enjoy holding hands and hugs, but it’ll take some trust.
  • Ruvik is petty as fuck and will hold grudges. Expect small acts of revenge (nothing lethal or really harmful) in the strangest of places.
  • His version of ‘talking dirty’ is using very detached and scientific observations to describe the situation he has you in and what he plans to do you. Don’t expect your actual name to be used. You are just another test subject after all.
  • While he doesn’t seem to care and appears cold at times, he is trying so hard to be a better man. While they are few and far between, he will make grand gestures to try and show how he really feels.


Dating Laura would involve:

  • Sneeking out in the middle of the night to see her at the Victoriano mansion
  • She is so soft and beautiful but she is such a fighter. She has a strong spirit and will do anything to protect what she believes in and you are constantly amazed by her sheer resolve
  • She will always blush really hard if you compliment her, without fail. She says she doesn’t like all the flattery but really she holds everything you say close to her heart
  • She will sing until you fall asleep, and loves writing small songs about you
  • She isn’t super confident with PDA, so you’ll have to make the first move. With some reasurement that you love being seen with her she’ll get much more daring with handholding/kissing in public
  • The last gift you receive before the fire from her is a small locket with a picture of the both of you inside.


Dating Stefano would involve:

  • Art. 24/7. You’ll never not be hearing about his art or other artists that he admires.
  • Stefano is rather private about how his art is made and doesn’t divulge many details, but loves the fact that you constantly ask how he does it.
  • Will never ask you to model for him. Don’t take it personally. He just wants to keep you all to himself. The world doesn’t deserve to see the true face of his muse.
  • Not super into PDA but he does leave plenty of marks in the bedroom. No public displays are needed for other people to know that you’re taken.
  • Stefano might take a few pictures now and then when you don’t realize he’s watching.
  • Despite his smug and superior attitude, he does have a good heart (most of the time) and always is someone you can depend on
  • Might like having you depend on him just a little too much…


Dating Tatiana would involve:

  • Team mom will do everything in her power to make you feel safe and loved
  • Not the best at expressing affection out loud and usually comes off as sarcastic but man is she a sap for writing poetry for you
  • She tries to maintain a small ‘garden’ in her office so she can give you bouquets when pretty flowers are in season
  • Middle of the road when it comes to PDA. Either no physical contact whatsoever or she goes full force.
  • She’s a dom. Sorry I don’t get to make the rules
  • She loves spoiling you with gifts


(Bonus: Monsters)


Dating Reborn Laura would involve:

  • General disclaimer, watch out for those nails
  • You were sure the thing was going to maul you the first time you encountered it, but soon the resemblance between the creature and your deceased lover makes sense
  • It’s hard to tell if this Laura remembers you or not, but you aren’t dead yet so that’s got to count for something
  • No need to fear the other creatures of STEM when your significant other is top of the food chain


Dating Haunted Joseph would involve:

  • It’s never clear if he wants to kiss you or eat you
  • So many bite and scratch marks.
  • Despite his aggressive nature, Joseph seems to have brief moments of lucidity in which he frantically apologizes for what he’s done to you.
  • Possessive and nasty as fuck. It’s not beneath him to openly take out his aggression on other Haunted so that any and all monsters will keep away from you and him.
  • Returning his affections will calm him… temporarily


Dating The Keeper would involve:

  • B i g boy
  • Expect to be carried in his arms or over his shoulder everywhere
  • Honestly the best at hugs and cuddles
  • The tentacles that sprout from the inside of his safe are a bit frightening but they seem to help The Keeper sense his surroundings and gradually become less scary.
  • Cant really kiss but will bend down to softly press his head against yours to show affection
  • Look you will probably die if you attempt lewds. If you are so determined to bang the Keeper just take it slow for your own sake


Dating Obscura would involve:

  • Loves cuddles but she doesn’t really realize that the size difference might be a bit hard on her human
  • Touching her ‘face’ makes her purr, just avoid smudging her lens!
  • Loves bringing back gifts and random things she finds in STEM. Some of these things are more pleasant than others…
  • Stefano is protective of his sweet Obscura. Don’t piss him off.
  • Obscura especially loves ‘surprise hugs’. Try not to have a heart attack when she drops from the ceiling to engage in some PDA
Why Do You Keep Apologizing! (Theo Raeken Imagine)

Here’s a Teen Wolf Imagine!

It’s actual rather longer than my usual, hope you don’t mind… I got carried away.

Requests are Open (Just bear with me)

I hope you enjoy!

You were born to a family of angels. If someone thought goody-two-shoes people were terrible, imagine how it felt to sport wings that burned every time you lied and having to move nearly every month once you’ve served your purpose. 

Being an angel, you all had a specific purpose. And being part of a family, your family would spread across a town to spread positive energy throughout the people. No one could ever be in a bad mood if an angel was around… unless they’re so consumed by the darkness.

And once you stepped into Beacon Hills High School, you knew you found where you needed to go. You had a feeling you belonged to be there and it made your wings tingle underneath your jacket. You rolled your shoulders back and took a deep breath before setting off to find your locker. As you walked, there were multiple pairs of eyes on you. Not because you were an angel that just glowed (that’s actual a myth), but because there were other supernatural beings in that school that got a whiff of your scent. You just didn’t know that… yet. 

“She’s not human.” Malia whispered, looking over to Scott and Liam who understood her statement. “Her scent… it’s… different.” 

Scott nodded in agreement. “We don’t know if she’s a bad guy-” 

“Or girl.” Lydia interrupted. 

He looked over to her and nodded slightly. “Yeah… bad girl or not… We lay off her unless she proves to be a threat.” 

“Just keep your wolf and coyote eyes on her.” Stiles added. “Stay. Away.” 

“Well someone needs to tell Theo the plan.” Liam muttered. The pack looked over to what he meant. 

And there you were, standing next to Theo Raeken, struggling to open your locker which, coincidentally, was next to his. He stood stiffly as the doors were pushed open a breeze sweeping in, carrying your scent over to him which made it stronger. Fear struck him in his bones after registering what your scent was. “Are you here to punish me?” He thought aloud. 

You looked over to him as he hid his face inside his locker. “Excuse me?” You asked, politely. When there was no response, you decided to pat the young man on his muscly bicep. But then you saw darkness and a young woman tearing this boy’s heart out repeatedly. It was like a nightmare. You yelped as you pulled your hand away, immediately recognizing the feeling of darkness. It consumed him. 

You were standing in a daze as Theo slammed his locker shut and hurriedly walked away from you. Your eyes trailed him. 


In your first period, you introduced yourself to the teacher and was shown to a seat. There was an empty desk beside you and you couldn’t wait to attempt to befriend this new person. But fate decided to play against you as the boy from earlier sat next to you with an annoyed expression.

“Are you stalking me?” He asked, abruptly. “First you’re next to me in the morning, opening a locker that clearly wasn’t yours since you can’t even open the damn thing. And now you’re sitting next to me in my first period? I’ve never seen you a day in my life. So if-”

“I’m sorry if you got that impression.” You apologized. “I was told to sit here by the teacher. And as for the locker situation this morning, I honestly could not open the.. um… thing.” 

“Damn.” Theo repeated. You raised an eyebrow. “Say it.” You shook your head. Wings tend to painfully shed a feather or two if a curse word left your mouth. Growing feathers back was the true punishment. After a long period of silence and an intense staring competition, Theo finally said, “I know what you are. And I’m not going back.” 

“What?” You asked as the bell rang and class began. 

After the class, you chased after him but he immediately disappeared into the crowd of students. “What did this kid mean.” You asked aloud. 

It wasn’t until lunch time that you saw this mystery boy again. The two of you locked eyes across the room and he stood up to leave the cafeteria. You ran after him and just before he opened the doors to leave, you grabbed him. “Let go!” He said, shaking you off. 

“What did you mean you aren’t going back?” 

“Why do you care?” He shot back. “I don’t know you!” 

“My apologies… I’m-I’m..” You began, but he interrupted. 

Why Do You Keep Apologizing!” He screamed. “Demons don’t do that!” 

You furrowed your eyebrows. “You-you think I’m a demon?” You couldn’t even contain your laughter. His face sported a confused expression. “I apologize for my laughter. But I’m not a demon. My name is (Y/N).” You said, offering your hand. 

“Theo.” He muttered. “If you aren’t a demon, then what are you? ‘Cause you’re definitely not human.” 

“And I suppose neither are you.” You said with a playful smirk on your face. “You don’t need to be afraid of me, Theo. I’m not here to harm you nor take you back to that girl.” He raised his eyebrows at you, wordlessly questioning you. “That girl in your nightmares. The one that tears out your heart.” 

“How did you-” 

“Angels are more than just wings and good deeds, Theo.” You said. “We have purposes as to why we arrive in cities… and I have a feeling my purpose is to rid you of your darkness.”

“Can you do that?” He asked, hopeful. You smiled warmly. 

“Of course.” 

 

part two

 

KAIROS. 1

Originally posted by yoongichii


  • Pairing: Hoseok x Reader
  • Genre: Sugar!Daddy AU, Fake!GF AU
  • Warnings: angst, smut, degrading names, mentions of cheating, dom themes, asshole hoseok
  • Words: 10k
  • Summary: Jung Hoseok is the devil in Armani. Self-entitled, rich, with striking good looks, there’s nothing he wants for with his parents’ money backing up his extravagant lifestyle. Yet when suddenly he’s forced to find himself a humble girlfriend or say goodbye to his monthly paycheck, he runs into you, lacking everything he possibly looks for in a girl. But he’s desperate, and being desperate makes a man do crazy things.

a/n: tysm to my irl bff @garbageeking for beta-ing for me and providing me with endless sugar!daddy hobi inspo to help me finish this chapter!!! ily!


The high chime of yet another eager customer ricocheted off of pale yellow walls, leather booths, and tiled flooring that was worn down with age. The quaint little shop lacked elegance, yet made up for it with charm. Watercolor paintings of sea cliffs, dipping waves, and golden sand hung from every corner of the small cafe, each dated and signed by a unique signature in the far left corner.

“Table three!” Your father’s gruff voice reminded from the back storage room, your attention once again redirected to the easily recognizable and overgrown mop of dusty brown hair, belonging to your best friend, who wore a forlorn frown, looking especially distressed as he sat himself into his regular booth. Red leather squeaked under the weight of his body as he threw himself down onto it, leaning his head against the cool glass of the large window that overlooked the crowded sidewalks and busy streets, a long horizon of blue easily noticeable in the distance.

“You look like you need some pie.”

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I Don't Wanna Live Forever [Connor Murphy x Reader]

Title: I Don’t Wanna Live Forever
Pairing: Connor Murphy x Reader
Fandom: Dear Evan Hansen
Requested: no
Summary: Your family takes an annual trip to the mountains with the Murphy family every year to unwind over the winter break–that being said, Connor Murphy isn’t the sweet kid he used to be, and you’d rather be anywhere else than sharing a room with him for two weeks. However, between your parents, a line of accidents, and a mapless trip in the woods seem determined to bring you together–if you can make it out alive.
Warnings: Connor’s potty mouth | Mentions of drugs, abuse, alcohol, panic attacks, sex trafficking, sex, blood, hospitals | First person reader | face paced/vignette style | not proof read | tenses may change
A/N: Here’s that long ass thing I’ve been working on for weeks and just finished a few minutes ago, ayy. Based entirely off the “Connor hated skiing” line. This is long af with no read more option, sorry :/ Here we go! (THANKS FOR 500+ FOLLOWERS ♡♡♡)


Connor Murphy was a lot of things.

He was stubborn–I’d never seen him admit he was wrong, but I’d definitely seen him throw scrabble pieces across the wooden floor of the cabin, leaving Zoe to scramble red-faced to collect them as he stomped up the oak steps to his room, echoing around the house.

He was annoying–I’d told him once I wasn’t crazy about Iron Maiden, which resulted in the album being on blast for the entirety of the time he drove Zoe and I around the mall in the family’s silver minivan.

He was stoic. He was impatient. He was angry.

I’d begged my parents not to go cabins for winter break. I’d begged them to pick a different mountain range if we were so dead set on skiing. But Mr. Murphy and my mother were business associates, and the last thing she wanted to do was make them feel like we were no longer on good terms–especially because of Connor.

“Larry’s been having an awfully hard time with Connor, sweetheart, you have to understand,” my mother crooned in our rental car, fixing her lip liner as she drove, my father keeping a white knuckled grip on the Jesus handle above his head. “He’s not doing very well in school and he’s been throwing tantrums at home. Poor Cynthia is at her wits end. They’re lucky to have that sweet Zoe, she’s so talented and smart. Poor Connor is jealous and acting out, just try not to rally him up, alright, dear?”

I didn’t dignify her with a response, mostly because I knew she wouldn’t like what I had to say anyway, but also because I knew she wouldn’t care to listen, either. I sighed loudly, watching the snow flurry softly outside the window. It wasn’t fair–here I was in the middle of something so remarkably beautiful, and I’d be shoved in a minivan with the Murphy kids and stuck in the valley town’s 1970s mall with crappy t-shirts and a vape store that Connor would spend all day in.

The cabin was huge, up with a view of the town below, nearly three stories made of solid, stripped oak, in the middle of a winding road with a four percent grade. Half the cabin was supported on beams which plummeted down the mountain face. I’d be lucky to stand on the deck without vomiting, let alone being able to venture into the hot tub.

The Murphy’s minivan was already in the drive, trunk shut, meaning they’d unpacked and I’d be left with whatever miniscule space they’d left for me in the loft area.

“Remember to be nice, sweetheart,” my mother crooned again, fluffing her hair in the mirror and giving me an enthusiastic smile in the rearview. “It’s important! They’re practically family.”

Geez, I was lucky to not have Connor Murphy for a cousin.

Slinging my backpack over my arm and exiting the rental car, I took the liberty to stretch, despite the cold air that stung my cheeks and the snow that fluttered down into my hair. This may very well be the last moment of solitude I had for the entirety of the week, and I was going to revel in it.

A movement caught my eye, suddenly, and I lowered myself off my tiptoes to glance up at the second story window–a curtain fluttered shut. It was most likely Zoe or Connor checking out the commotion that was my father and mother bickering over who carried what into the house, and shutting it once they’d realized I caught them. Feeling vaguely uneasy, I turned just as Larry Murphy, bundled in a parka, burst out of the house to take two suitcases from my father.

It was going to be a long two weeks.

——

Cynthia Murphy made me stand by the kitchen counter as she was stocking the cabinet with neon colored cardboard boxes containing various sugary, pink cereals with marshmallows and prizes inside. The Murphy kids were both picky eaters, I remembered quickly, Connor more so than Zoe.

Mrs. Murphy kept playing with my hair, crowing about how much longer it looked (despite the fact I’d cut it since the last time I’d seen her) and how pretty and grown up I’d become, asking me the usually annoying adult questions (“Any thoughts on schools yet? Oh, Connor can’t decide either! Do you know what you’re going to major in? That’s alright, you’ll figure it out soon!”) It would’ve been annoying, I decided, if and only if she didn’t look so sad all the time, the purple bruising under her eyes visible still underneath the layers of makeup. My mother could say whatever she liked about Cynthia Murphy where her wifely duties were concerned–Mrs. Murphy tried to be a good mother (re: tried, period), and that was more than enough to pass her in my book.

In the background, my parents were settling into the second master bedroom, Larry Murphy yelling at the bottom of the stairs to announce our arrival. I could do without the annual reunion, awkward questions about school. The Murphy kids were tolerable–Zoe definitely more so–but it didn’t mean they had to force us together so artificially.

Zoe skimpered down the stairs first, her soft moccasin boots barely making any sound on the stairs–I was surprised to find her long legs bare, her thighs peeking out beneath a pretty pink chiffon dress, covered by what I hoped to be a faux fur parka. Her pretty auburn hair was curled, pulled back with a polka dot headband I could recognize from her childhood. She was wearing eyeliner, and cotton candy flavored lip gloss I remembered sharing when we were thirteen.

It was such a stark contrast from how I remembered her before. The last I’d seen her she’d been gawky and fifteen with a mouth full of metal and a bra full of kleenex. She was practically grown now, and beautiful–it made me feel slightly subpar in my own blue jeans and blue sweater. Regardless, she smiled brightly and skipped over to me, opening her arms to wrap them around my neck.

“It’s so good to see you!” She exclaimed, pressing a quick kiss to my cheek that shocked me, as well as some others–Larry Murphy’s horrified expression was priceless, and I was convinced Connor put her up to it–but I just laughed and hugged her tightly before letting her go.

“You look so pretty,” I told her with a wry grin, and she just tossed the expression back, nodding with a, “So do you!”

“It’s so good to see you girls are still so close,” my mother tittered, beginning to uncork a glass of wine–we didn’t drink much at my house, but the Murphy’s, I knew, did, and my mother certainly wasn’t going to let that go to waste. “Where’s that sweet boy of yours?”

Larry Murphy at the bottom of the stairs, banging on the oak walls, yelling out, “Connor!” was enough to make both the Murphy women flinch visibly. Zoe still had her arm around my waist as we stared up at the ceiling above us, waiting for the squeak of sneakers on the polished wood.

“Don’t yell.”

Zoe jumped away from me as if she’d been burned, pressing herself against the countertop as if to make herself invisible. Mrs. Murphy, her hand clutched to her chest after the initial nose, fought hard to smile believably. I, myself, had jumped at the unexpected sound–Connor Murphy’s curt tenor clear across the room, no where near the stairs, instead standing the doorway were we had just come from. I couldn't  quite make out his frame from here–there was a line of bodies blocking my view, my parents, Mrs. Murphy, and Zoe all formed a human barrier that constructed the divide between Connor and I. Fine by me.

“There you are!” Mrs. Murphy chirped, clearly still nervous, visibly by her shaking voice and hands, fluffing her hair to give her something to do. “You didn’t miss much, Connor, they’ve just arrived.”

My mother said something unintelligent in way of greeting, to which Conner didn’t reply, just shut the door carefully behind him to keep out the cold air. I couldn’t see his face from here, but I could make out that he was much too still for a teenage boy, much too quiet.

“–You remember her, don’t you, Connor?”

My throat closed up as the Red Sea parted, everyone’s heads turning to look between the two of us.

He didn’t move from the doormat–boots  caked in snow, as if he’d gone for a walk, and the bottoms of his skinny jeans were muddy and slick looking. Still, he didn’t shiver, which was slightly unnerving. He was skinnier than I remembered, like he hadn’t been eating, and his face was all angles. He slouched, his pink mouth which was mottled red from the cold was set in a heavy frown. His eyes, which were scanning somewhere around my waist and hadn’t come anywhere near making eye contact since he’d seen me, had blown pupils. Drugs. He was doing drugs in the middle of the afternoon.

He hadn’t cut his hair since I’d seen him last, brown curls poking out of the bottom of a black sock toboggan with a soft pompom on top. It could’ve been funny, I supposed, his rough puberty finishing to leave him left over with this, something akin to a drugged out vogue model who listened to way too much 2008 Fall Out Boy, if he didn’t seem so…unnervingly somber for someone who clearly wasn’t sober. Geez, this kid was a school shooter in the making.

I glanced back up to find him finally staring at my face, shooting an uncomfortable alertness down my spine. His eyebrows were crooked in vague amusement that didn’t seem to reach his mouth, and I felt my face heat up under his scrutiny. If he was trying to intimidate me, it wouldn’t work. I wasn’t scared of boys like him.

“Yeah, I remember her,” he grinned mirthlessly, stuffing his hands into the gut pocket of his hoodie, giving me a nod that, while meant to appease our parents, also felt like a vague threat. I didn’t smile back.

“Great! Wanna show her the room?”

Connor grinned crookedly. “Follow me, kid.”

——

The upstairs layout was just like I remembered  it–Two rooms, one main one in the first entrance with a king bed tucked in the corner, a TV and a few gaming systems with some furniture in the front, a bathroom with two doors which lead through to the other room, which held the fold out couch and television I was accustomed to using.

The Murphy kids already had their belongs strewn about the room–Zoe’s stuff animals and princess blankets eclipsing most of the bed and an ancient Nintendo DS on the table with SpongeBob stickers on the cover that I’m sure belonged to Connor–and it left me very little room to maneuver through.

Connor was silent as he lead me up, as if I didn’t know the way, but surprised me by stopping in front of the king bed, holding out his arms to signal me.

“Your room, my lady.”

I cocked an eyebrow. “This–this is your bed.”

“Not this year. Dad’s decided it’s a little too Flowers In the Attic for Zoe and I to share a bed this year–I’m on the pull out and you girls get to have your fun.” He shot me a bitter smile to let me know he wasn’t thrilled about having the pull-out–he shouldn’t be, the thing was total garbage–but surely he’d enjoy the privacy of it?

“I don’t care to take the pull-out,” I told him, keeping my bag on my shoulder despite the fact it was beginning to be painfully heavy. “If you wanna–”

“Don’t have a choice,” he said, already turning toward the bathroom to walk to his half of the loft. “The bed’s yours.”

——

So, Connor Murphy had turned out to be a total dick. It should’ve unsurprising information, I knew, but part of me still remembered him as a charismatic kid I was, at one point, friends with. Back when the three of us all slept in the king bed, before any of us ever had a zit, when we’d fall asleep in the floor watching early 1990s Pokémon episodes, because Larry Murphy didn’t like them watching it.

Even the Connor I remembered at fourteen, gangly and silent and shy with close-cropped hair felt better than this. I was past uncomfortable, sitting stiffly between he and Zoe on one of the couches in the living room. There was a faux fur blanket hanging behind us, shedding hairs onto Connor’s black jacket, which would’ve been funny if he wasn’t picking at his nails with a slightly rusted pocket knife–I notice he’d painted them, which I oddly admired. I’d kissed a boy earlier this year who painted his nails, and his palms were always soft when he’d reach up to cup my cheeks. It softened Connor in my head, just slightly.

He was careful, I saw, to stay on his side of the couch, leaning into the apex of the arm and the back of the couch rather  than flush with me, his thin legs stretched out and crossed at the ankle to avoid me. I appreciated it, but it didn’t stop me from leaning forward, my elbows on my knees, sitting on the edge of the cushion. I could still feel warmth radiating from him–it was late, and I was tired with a full stomach. If I wasn’t careful, I’d fall right into him, and he’d never let me live that down.

Zoe practically was asleep, leaning forward as well with her head on my shoulder. Cynthia had let her have nearly two glasses of wine at dinner–not enough to get her drunk, but it didn’t change the fact Zoe was still lithe and young, and easily tipsy.

We’d all gone into town for a very awkward dinner–I was just thankful to be placed between my father and Zoe, in a position on the opposite end of the table from Connor, who was stuck in between Larry and Cynthia, looking as if he were in a permanent time out.

Now we were gathered around the coffee table in the cabin, the seven of us hunched over a tiny photo album that I couldn’t really make out from here. There were fuzzy polaroids of us as children, looking nothing like we did now. Connor and I at six, soaked from romping in a sprinkler. Zoe and Connor sharing a chocolate icecream cone, their faces covered in the brown spatter.

“You were all so small,” Mrs. Murphy crowed with a choked voice, covering half her face with her hand in a faux attempt to eclipse the emotion. “Oh, I miss it. You kids used to spend so much time together! Now we only get together for break, and Zoe is so busy there’s hardly enough time for her to spend quality time with her sweet brother.”

Zoe snorted loudly, earning a glare from Mr. Murphy I was positive I wasn’t supposed to see. I snuck a glance at Connor, whose face betrayed no emotion, just staring blankly ahead in the direction of the album. From his position, I was positive he couldn’t see more than the chipped leather cover of the book. Even if he leaned forward, he wouldn’t have been able to see much.

My mother and Mrs. Murphy went out in loud voices in a seamless attempt to pretend the seemingly secret interaction had taken place, so, while the focus was shifted, I turned my attention to Connor.

He didn’t cock an eyebrow this time when he caught me staring, instead just furrowed his eyebrows and looked at me, as if he expected me to speak.

“Can you see?” I asked, nodding my head in the direction of the book.

“I’m fine,” he said immediately–vaguely irritating, I’d admit, but nonetheless understandable. I was sure Cynthia Murphy had spent most of her life making sure Connor was comfortable at all times. Still, this was my olive branch, in an attempt to make this trip a little more tolerable, and Zoe seemed less than likely to console her brother at this point.

“We can change seats, I’m not really looking,” I promised, sitting forward more in my seat to show that I was ready to make the change.

“I’m fi–”

Connor was cut off by a squeal from his mother, who had tossed the book into our laps. It had taken a great deal of squinting, letting my heartbeat slow before I realized she’d been showing us something and not trying to kill some giant bug between us.

The polaroid was grainy, an ivory hue that whitewashed the photo and the years of existence made the picture hard to decipher at first, especially when we were so tired. The time stamp was from the late nineties, glowing yellow in the corner of the frame. I recognized the gilded tub from upstairs that dominated half the bathroom, big enough for three adults easily.

Connor threw to book onto my lap first, like it had scalded him. I should’ve done the same, but it took me a moment. To see, to adjust, to read and understand what was so socially condemning about the photo.

It was Connor, I realized first, small and tanned with bony ribs and chunky fingers and the apples of his cheeks straining against his baby skin. His hair was cropped so short, it looked almost silly. Beside him was me, my hair wild and tangled, curled as if my mother had teased it for dinner. My wide eyes were blazing, much too big for my face, and I was grinning with wet lips at the camera.

We were in the tub, surrounded by big pink bubbles.

We were very, very naked.

It shouldn’t have been a big deal–not really, unless you counted the fact that if this had been printed, our parents would be arrested for child porn. I was mostly covered, sitting beside Connor, my shoulders hunched forward. But Connor was standing, meaning the camera got a very decent view of–

“What the fuck, Mom!” He screaming, standing and ripping the book off my lap. Cynthia’s tittering died immediately, the hands covering her laughed instead covered her horrified face.

This was how it started, I realized.

“It’s not fucking funny,” he growled, tossing the book across the room, banging against the wooden wall with a heavy whomp.  

“That’s enough, Connor,” Larry Murphy growled low in his throat. Cynthia’s head was downcast, her eyes wide and wet. I recognized the emotion immediately–she shut down with conflict the same way Connor did.

“You don’t get to laugh at me for shits and giggles this whole trip,” Connor said, already lunging up the stairs, his hands shaking. “If I wanted to feel shitty, I’d have a conversation with you.”

So much for having a quiet trip.
——
Zoe wasn’t quiet in her gossip about Connor–his door was fashioned shut, I saw, and I doubt he’d come out for the rest of the night. I was positive he could hear his sister’s loud comments from our room.

“Sorry, he’s such an ass,” Zoe groaned, stretching on the bed, her little lilac nightgown shifting across her thighs. “I think his high is wearing off or something–don’t let it bug you. You don’t have to be nice to him, by the way. I’m not gonna let him hurt you.”

I shrugged, noncommittal. “We were friends once. I’m not gonna be mean, he’s never done anything to me.”

Zoe snorted. “You didn’t just see that? He’s a monster, and it gets worse.”

“He just has a temper. Everyone gets like that sometimes.”

I wasn’t sure why I was defending Connor–half because I didn’t want Zoe to tell Connor I disliked him, then he’d actively terrorize me–half because I had no idea why Connor Murphy was so pissed off. It was just a picture. Yeah, embarrassing, I’ll admit I wasn’t too thrilled about eighteen year old Connor Murphy seeing my nipples, and I’ll admit he definitely had the worst end of the stick.

“He loses his shit like that all the time,” Zoe said. “It’s not just a temper.”

“He’s your brother, Zoe,” I reminded gently, brushing out my hair in the bathroom mirror. “Can’t you give him the benefit of the doubt?”

“He’s no brother of mine,” she whispered, rolling over on the bed and clicking off the light.

——

The next few days passed as the usually did–the adults going places without us, albeit romantic and boring, and leaving the three of us to wander about the town below the mountain crests. It was Zoe’s turn to pick the day’s activity, and she’d chosen the mall.

The place was all dark oak, and hadn’t been remodeled since the late seventies at the earliest. Zoe was chipper, balancing a bag of organic soap and bath bombs on her lap that she’d bought at a local shop, pouring over the cheese fries between us on a plastic red tray.

Connor had also been well-behaved since his outburst several days ago, albeit quiet. He’d separated from us the second we’d arrived, holed out in some record store. Zoe was thrilled to be rid of him, and very vocal about it. I was bored out of my mind.

“Don’t look now,” Zoe said brightly, despite her face suddenly shifting into a mask of disinterest. She bit down on her lip, covered in a pink glitter lipgloss she’d applied much too liberally, and pulled on her pretty auburn braid. “There’s some boys two tables behind us checking you out.”

I felt my face get hot. “You’re lying.”

“Nuh-uh,” Zoe said, leaning into take a sip of her milkshake, biting down on the straw–the look on her face told me she’d got their attention.

“How old are they?” I hissed. The last thing we needed were some creeps following us around the mall–this was how sex trafficking started. Surely Zoe knew that this was a huge red flag.

It was clear from her overzealous wave she didn’t.

I felt a hand on the back of my chair before I saw them–to Zoe’s credit, they were pretty. Both in thick denim blue jeans, both in letterman jackets over white tee-shirts. One was tall, skinny, with pretty dark skin and hair cropped close to his head. The other was a little thicker, pale and short, in badly need from a shave. They were smiling brightly at the two of us in a way that was less awestruck and more closely resembled a triumphant conquest.

“Hello, ladies,” the shorter man greeted, grinning like a shark between Zoe and I. His hair was dark, curling around his temples–handsome, maybe my age, maybe ten years older. It was impossible to tell. There were lines around his eyes that either indicated he smiled too much or was simply older. “What are two cute girls like you doing inside on a day like this–the ski lift is just a walk down the road.”

“We’re here shopping with our brother,” I said immediately, giving a grin. The taller boy quirked his eyebrows at me–his eyes, I noticed, were dark with tawny flecks hidden in them.

“That’s cool,” he said to me, switching places so that the other boy could be closer to Zoe. They both pulled chairs up to our table, facing us. My stomach pinched uncomfortably. “Where’s he at?”

“Nike,” I lied, seeing the sign from the distance and knowing very well that Hot Topic, while probably true, didn’t exactly invoke fear.

“Ah,” he said with a grin, his eyes glancing down at my bare arm with a grin. With two slim fingers, he reached forward to pluck at my woven bracelet Zoe had made me a few nights ago, my name in block letter strung across the twine. His hands were uncomfortably hot, and I drew my arm back into my lap. “Aren’t you cold?” He nodded to my bare arms. I’d left my flannel with Connor, who was sitting on a bench at the time–I hoped he remembered to grab it. I was just wearing a striped cotton tee right now, and my arm had broken out in a case of goosebumps, though I wasn’t sure it was from the cold.

“I’m fine,” I said, careful not to meet his gaze. He was pretty, and if I wasn’t careful, I might end up going somewhere with this guy.

“You know,” he began, and I could hear his grin turn predatory. “You’re very pretty.”

A jolt shot down my spine–I wasn’t pretty, not really, which terrified me. I could hear what the other boy was whispering to Zoe, but I could tell that all the stars were gone from her eyes. She looked pale, panicked. These weren’t the kind of boys we needed to hanging around with.

“I know,” I said quickly. “We really need to call our brother–”

“I think he can wait long enough for me to get your number, right?”

Across the table Zoe laughed, too loudly, pushing back and standing from her chair. She was grinning at the dark haired boy, beckoning her to follow with a jerk of her chin.

“Zoe–”

“We’re gonna run to get some coffee, okay? Connor should be back soon, don’t wait up.”

She didn’t meet my heavy glare for long, and didn’t turn around when I yelled her name. I watched in silent horror as the boy put his hand flush with her lower back.

I was alone.

The panic crept onto the back of my neck long before his thin fingers did. He smelled like cinnamon, strongly, like he’d done one too many sprays with his cologne that morning. When I turned to face him, his tawny eyes were asking.

“Is this the part where you say you’ve got a boyfriend?” He grinned, his teeth blindingly bright in his tan face. He was so close I could see the threads on the collar of his letterman jacket–it looked soft.

There was a possibility, I realized, that they weren’t dangerous. That I was just being paranoid–Zoe wasn’t stupid, and she wouldn’t go off with a strange boy unless she was sure it was safe. Still, they were definitely in college.

And boy, were they pretty.

“I do have a boyfriend, actually,” I said, lifting my chin to meet his gaze so he wouldn’t think I was lying. There was a small voice in the back of my head, screaming, raised on her tip toes that I should just take this plunge–let him hold my hand or kiss him or whatever he wanted to do, because this was a shitty trip and I deserved to be as reckless as the Murphy kids were allowed. I didn’t see a reason why I shouldn’t.

Besides, you know, the obvious.

He quirked an eyebrow. “You have a boyfriend?” He asked, biting back a smirk. I felt the voice in the back of my head get sucker punched by my ego. So, he didn’t think I was pretty after all. Which meant he was dangerous.

Which meant Zoe was in trouble.

“Yes,” I growled, standing, yelping a bit when his hand snaked up to grab at my wrist, nearly breaking my bracelet and keeping me bent over the table.

“Let go,” I hissed–the food court was nearly deserted, and the family in the corner was carefully avoiding my eyes. I wasn’t sure I had the voice to scream.

“I don’t believe you have a boyfriend.”

“Let go, or I’ll scream,” I warned, yanking on my arm. He let go immediately, holding his hand high above his head, which I knew was meant as a gesture of calm, but instead looked an awful lot like he intended to strike me.

“Where’s your boyfriend, then?” He taunted loudly, thrilled to see no one in the court coming to my aid. I felt sick, the panic rising in my chest. Where was Zoe? She was in trouble. I was in trouble. I was going to have to scream–

“He’s right here.”

My arm flailed, immediately cocking back in an attempt to elbow in the stomach whoever had wrapped their arm around my neck, their other spidery hand snaking just slightly under the hem of my t-shirt to splay across my hip, finger tips barely brushing my skin above my jeans. The arms were strong, vice like, pressing me against a hard body, and suddenly I felt limp, panic leaving me as I realized whose familiar smell I was enveloped in.

Hair grazed across my cheekbone, and I could make out the dark locks if I looked out the corner of my eye, and I nearly yelped when I felt lips press chastely against my temple.

I couldn’t make out much of the boy anymore, my eyes level with Connor’s adams apple from where he was pressing me against him.

“Babe,” Connor said cooly, calmly, making my knees knock against his. “Who’s this?”

“H-he’s leaving,” I managed to stutter out, barely a whisper, my voice hoarse. I sounded terrified. No wonder this ass in the letterman jacket hadn’t be intimated by me, I sounded about as frightening as a kitten. Connor pressed his fingers against the nape of my neck, tilting my head against his jugular so that I couldn’t see anything but the pale column of his throat and his dark hair. It was getting difficult to breathe–I felt sick. He moved his hand to wrap around my waist, yanking me tightly to him.

“You heard her,” Connor said, again stoic–half of me wished I could see his face, but the other half knew it would be terrifying. Connor’s temper was legendary and destructive–to see him so angry wouldn’t make the fist in my gut unclench. “Go. Take your friend with you.”

There was a beat of silence. Then two. I couldn’t hear much but my own shaky breathing, warm and wet against Connor’s neck, his hair making the space much too hot. I wasn’t aware I had knotted my fingers into his shirt until he started walking, dragging my stumbling form forward with him. He was going fast, too fast for me to keep up, and my chest could only rise so far before deflating painfully.

“You gotta breathe,” he grunted, one of his arms still around me. His face felt hot against me.

“Z-zoe!” I choked out, realizing I had no idea where she was. She could still be with that boy, be in danger–

“Oh, Christ,” he exclaimed bitterly, letting go and beginning to trudge forward. I was terrified briefly, suddenly overwhelmed with the fact I didn’t know where I was. There was a Game Stop, and a Victoria’s secret, the neon lighting combined with the screaming toddlers and the kissing teens and Connor was leaving

An arm swept up from behind me, leading me just as quickly, mumbling something I couldn’t make out into my ear.

“Zoe!” I grinned, immediately feeling safer, feeling my fear melt away just smidgen in my gut.

“I’m so so sorry I left,” she sobbed. “I went looking for a cop, but I found Connor first and I told him you were in trouble–”

“It’s fine,” I said immediately, surprised that my voice was no longer wet. “Thanks, Zoe.”

I was calm, or, at least calmer by the time we reached the van. Connor was waiting by the passenger side door, which was opened, leaning against a scratch in the silver paint. He wasn’t looking at us, instead appearing to observe the silver snowflakes as they fell.

My reflection in the side mirror revealed my face was red and blotchy, not just from the cold wind. I felt gross–guilty for the fact I hadn’t been able to defend myself and Zoe, guilty for the fact Connor Murphy was the one who had to come to my rescue, and guilty for the fact I’d cried all over him. His zipped up hoodie seemed to have escaped the mess, but that didn’t mean I didn’t feel awful. 

He stepped out of the way when I made it close, gesturing for me to get in the passenger side door while glaring at the ground. I was only vaguely surprised, and followed along immediately. Zoe and I almost always rode together in the back. I let Connor shut the door, ignoring the disgusted look Zoe gave as she got into the back.

Connor hoisted himself into the driver’s seat, surprising me with a costume change, reappearing in only a forest green tee. He held out his hoodie to me, balled up in one of his fists without looking at me, before just tossing it into my lap.

“I–”

“I left your flannel in the back. Put that on or you’ll freeze.”

He licked his lips, staring coldly out the front window, before starting the car. I swallowed. Yeah, he definitely hated me.

“Okay.”

——

“You’re sure you’re alright, honey?” My mother asked for the third time. Her hair was tied up, her pink bathrobe covering little of her cleavage and bare legs. She was cradling a wine bottle in her hands, looking at me in faux concern.

I gave her a soft smile. “I’m fine,” I lied. I’d calmed considerately. Connor and Zoe had both agreed I needed to shower to wash off the panicked look on my face–I’d asked them to keep the days happenings a secret. They’d reluctantly agreed.

She gave me a clipped smile. “Maybe you should go to bed early, yeah? That’s what I plan to do.”

I nodded, scratching at my bare leg. I’d taken advantage of Zoe’s absense and changed into boxer shorts and an oversized tee with a kitten on the front–she and Cynthia had headed into town for the night, spending the night at a spa and would be gone for a few days, and my father had taken his annual ‘me time’ and booked a hotel downtown to do his own thing. I think Mr. Murphy went with him, but regardless, he was out of the house. It was just me and my mother.

And Connor. I tried not to think about it. I planned on offering him the big bed tonight, in way of thanking him for today, but we hadn’t spoken much since the incident and I felt…odd. Unsure how to thank him. Unsure why he helped.

I supposed the Murphy men were just gentlemen, even under all that teen angst.

“Yeah,” I agreed. “I’m probably gonna sit out on the balcony and then head to bed.”

She grinned. “Don’t stay out too late, it’s almost down to single digits, dear.”

I just nodded, sliding off the countertop, and slinking upstairs. I was surprised to see Connor sitting on the bed. I grinned.

He looked different, to say the least. He was still without his jacket, wearing only his tee and jeans, and little pair of socks with stars on them, which did seem a little out of character, but I assumed Cynthia bought them. His head perked when he saw me, simply craning his neck, keeping his shoulders bowed forward over his body.

He looked small, I realized. He didn’t look like a boy who punched holes in walls or scared off very big very scary men in shopping mall food courts. He looked like a vogue model with a little too much innocence.

He gave me a grin with no teeth, and it didn’t quite meet his eyes, but I gave him a sheepish smile back.

“Hey,” I greeted, tugging on my top to cover my shorts a little better–Connor Murphy didn’t have any interest in seeing my thighs. Despite all the panic, I’d been playing over and over in my head the comment the boy in the mall had made, incredulous that I had a boyfriend. It was silly to let it sting me, considering he probably wanted to stuff me in a van, but it crippled me nonetheless.

“Hey,” he greeted back, not rising from the bed.  I waited for him to speak again, and when he said nothing, I continued.

“I, uh, meant to say, since Zoe’s gone, you can have the big bed like good old times.”

He frowned. “I don’t need the bed.”

“I don’t either,” I promised, leaning against the banister. “Plus,” I sighed, scratching at the back of my head. “I’m not entirely sure how to thank you for today. I’d probably be selling for a low ball price on the dark web right now, if it wasn’t for you. So, thanks.”

Connor was still frowning. “You’ve had a really rough day. You should take the bed.”

“No,” I insisted, beginning to get frustrated. “I’m really okay, I promise. I can’t give you anything else, take the bed.”

His dark eyebrows knit together quickly, licking his lips again nervously. “I don’t–”

“Plus,” I cut him off again with a curt laugh. “I owe you for your Oscar performance. That was crazy, you know. I can’t believe you fooled him into thinking a guy like you would be with a girl like me.”

His head snapped up. “A guy like me?” He reiterated coldly. I felt my face grow hot.

“You know,” I said quietly.

“Know what?”

“That you’re cool,” I muttered. “And nice looking. And I’m not.”

I was thankful for the warm lighting in the room, concealing my red face. It was already dark out, the blinds drawn tightly. Connor’s fists clenched in the white lace comforter on the bed. I didn’t want him to feel bad for me, and I sort of regretted saying it. Connor had already seen me blubbering today and he didn’t need my shitty teen angst to deal with.

He bit down on his lower lip, staring coldly at the ground before murmuring, “I need a shower. Take the bed.”

I shook my head. “I’m gonna go for a walk.”

He just nodded, rising from the bed. “Don’t get too far. It’s cold out.”

Connor shut the bathroom door behind him, and I was left feeling like a total idiot. I could hear the shower running before I left, snagging Connor’s grey jacket from my bed post and sliding it on. I went down the stairs, sliding out the first door to the outside, stepping out onto the first floor balcony. I made a mental note to the shut the blinds later, before walking around to the front of the cabin.

I should’ve been thrilled to be alive, I realized, snorting at how melodramatic that sounded. Still, as I burrowed deeper into Connor’s jacket, watching my thighs turn red from the cold, I realized that I was shrouded in a veil of melancholy I wouldn’t be able to shake off.

I missed Connor. I missed being his friend. I missed him coming over for play dates when we were kids, gauzy fairy wings strapped to our backs, jumping on a trampoline when Zoe was still to young to participate. I missed writing him letters, like a pen pal, despite the fact he only lived on the opposite side of town. Going to different schools hadn’t deterred us, for a while, at least. We had sleepovers every birthday, and Zoe told the best scary stories. I remembered hiding under Connor’s bed with him, a hand clasped over my mouth so Zoe wouldn’t hear our breathing.

I remembered kissing him when we were in kindergarten, ridiculously late at night, a quick smack on the lips during a game of pretend. I’d kissed Zoe, too, when we were probably much too old for it, but thinking of Connor tugged on my chest.

It stopped as we turned twelve, I realized. I never saw him–he was still playing little league, and I stopped coming to his games to pick dandelions with Zoe. He was beginning to get teased. My parents insisted the slumber parties should stop, we were too old. Every time Connor and I were together at birthdays or Christmas parties, adults would joke about when we’d fall in love, how soon would it be before we got married. We avoided each other like the plague, unless we knew we could be alone. And we were never alone.

Connor hid inside himself. Zoe made fun of him at parties, loudly. I kept quiet.

He stopped calling during the summer months. He never rode his bike by my house. The only time I saw Connor Murphy was the annual ski trip.

I missed him. He’d been a childhood friend, and I’d let him go without a second thought to save myself some shred of dignity, like it wouldn’t be ripped away from me regardless.

Connor Murphy was nothing to be ashamed of.

And now it was too late to be his friend.

It had started to snow again, so I wiped my face and rose, walking the opposite way I had come, skirting the stairs–they led to the upstairs, but only to Connor’s room, and I didn’t plan to barge in uninvited, especially if he was still in the shower, two rooms blocked me from getting to the king bed, so I’d have to walk all the way around the house.

The lights were out, I saw, but again no one had bothered to close the blinds. The television might have been on, a dim blue glow resounding onto the leather couch–

I froze.

As it turned out, my mother hadn’t gone to bed. The television was on, showing some late show with some old white man making cracks about some politician I didn’t care for, casting the blue haze onto the coffee table, revealing the wine bottle my mother had been cradling. Two empty glasses sat on the table–my mother’s bathrobe crinkled on the floor.

I was disgusted in a comedic way, just for a moment, to see my mother in her nightgown kissing my father, who my brain had filled in under the assumption he’d arrived back.

I’d begun backing up to the stairs, Connor Murphy’s naked body be damned, when I realized my father’s car had never pulled up, and I’d been on the front porch the whole time.

A better look in the window revealed a man a little older, a little more gray and a little more handsome than my father.

I was sprinting by the time Larry Murphy had begun to peel his shirt off his back.

I didn’t knock by the time I’d made it to Connor’s room, just threw open the door, struggling to get my breathing under control. I stumbled to the pull out couch, dragging the sheets up around my freezing legs. I was in shock, I knew, and I needed to calm down before Connor came in–the bathroom door was shut, but I couldn’t hear the shower anymore, despite the steady trickle of steam coming through the cracks. I was trapped in this room until Connor came out.

My mother was cheating on my father Larry Murphy. Larry Murphy was cheating on his wife with my mother. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t believe it, I had to have made it up, this had to be a dream–

“What are you doing in here?”

It was an exclamation, alarmed, grasping a towel tight with thin white knuckles.

Connor. Connor in a towel. Connor wet with slick hair and chest hair and navel and hip bones. Connor Murphy, son of Larry Murphy, who had his tongue down my mom’s throat–

“Hey, breathe, what’s going on? What’s wrong?”

By the time my eyes snapped back into focus, Connor was struggling to pull on grey basketball shorts without dropping his towel, and I dropped my gaze back to my shaking hands, almost startlingly red from the temperature change and what was most likely shock. I was hyperventilating, struggling to smother the sobs. I knew this deep in the house, they probably wouldn’t hear me–they were most definitely preoccupied anyway. 

The bed dipped, and Connor’s bare side brushed my thigh. I didn’t mean to jerk back, but I did, clinging to the arm of the couch and staring horrified–Connor looked almost hurt, but mostly panicked. I tried to calm down, for his sake.

“S-sorry!” I sobbed. “Sorry! I-I-I didn’t mean–I didn’t mean–I didn’t–I–”

“Hey, stop, breathe. You gotta breathe. Go slow, okay? Stop tryna talk,” he commanded, holding up his hands to show he wasn’t gonna hurt me, readjusting so that he sat up on his knees, leaning  over me to take my hands, rubbing them between his own despite the claminess.

I avoided his eyes, focusing instead on the dip of his collar bone, surprised to see thin lines of chest hair, wet and plastered to his chest. He was skinny, and I could see his ribs despite the tiny stomach roll from where he folded in the middle. His thumbs rubbed soothing circles across the backs of my hands, and for a moment, I didn’t think. I could’ve forgotten everything and fallen asleep right here with him.

He pulled my hands against his chest, cradling mine in his own, pulling me forward, asking with his slate eyes if it was alright.

I pretended we were friends.

“You wanna talk about that?” He asked very softly, looking down at where our hands were clasped against him–he was warm, his skin pink and hot from the shower. He’d combed his hair back out of his face, and it was almost cute like that. “If it’s about today, I promise you’re safe, alright? I wasn’t gonna let that guy hurt you.”

My heart sunk in my chest, nearly restarting my panic attack. I shook my head.

Connor deserved to know.

I was scared, briefly, that it would set him off. He might yell at me, throw things, kick me out of the room. He might hit me.

I didn’t care. He had a right to know.

I swallowed thickly, shaking my head. “N-no.”

“Did something happen on your walk? Are you okay?”

I shook my head.

“What? Trouble back home–your boyfriend break up with you or something?”

“My mom–” I started, voice breaking, feeling fresh tears of shock on my cheeks.

His eyebrows furrowed, tightening his grip on my hands. “Is she okay? She–”

I saw it in slow motion–his jaw unclenched, eyebrows relaxing from their set, pouted mouth turning down. It was calm. It was knowing.

“You saw them,” he said very softly, letting my hands fall back into his lap. I was too shocked to move them away from his thighs.

“You knew,” I spat–an accusation. I hadn’t meant to make it one.

Connor scrubbed at his eyes roughly, flopping onto his back against the bed. Frustrated.

“I was tired of my dad reading my fucking emails, so I hacked into his–I only saw a few. I didn’t want to see anymore.”

I paled, feeling nauseous. “So it’s happened before?” I choked.

He swallowed. “That was two summers ago.”

“Fuck,” I hissed uncharacteristically, surprised to find Connor stretching out an arm to me. I took his hand with a firm grip. “How long before then.”

He shrugged. “Maybe our whole lives. Maybe before. I’m not sure, angel.”

I nodded, secretly pleased that he was so calm. It kept me level, grounded, watching where our hands were linked.

“What do we do?” I choked. “I have to tell my dad. He deserves to know.”

Connor’s eyebrows furrowed. “Everything would change. He’d tell my mom.”

I bit down on my lip, folding down onto my back to lay down beside Connor. “I hadn’t considered that.”

Connor sighed, scratching at my hand tenderly with his black painted nails. “I’m not sure that my mom and Zoe could handle the news–it’s not like they’d turn to me. They’d be alone. Zoe might even take my dad’s side.”

I groaned, stealing my hands to scrub at my eyes. My wet hair was beginning to dry in a tangled mess.

“This is too much,” I mumbled, rolling onto my side to face Connor, staring at his bare, freckled shoulder. “I don’t know what to do. If I can do anything.”

I jumped a foot out of my skin when he placed a hand at the corner of my jaw, brushing the tangled hair back out of my face. “You don’t have to think about it right now. You’ve had a really long fucking day. You should sleep.”

I didn’t want to sleep–I didn’t want Connor to leave. I didn’t know how to say that.

I couldn’t believe that everyone had tried to desperately to convince me Connor Murphy was a bad boy–fuck them, Connor Murphy was good. He was better than everyone in this cabin combined.

He cared about me.

I caught his wrist, which froze in my grasp, but I just took his bony hand and cradled it between my hands the same way he’d done mine, tracing the lines across his palm. He sucked  in a sharp breath.

“Okay,” I said, and he smiled, moving away. I let go of his hand.

“I just have to turn off the light. Get comfy.”

His retreating footsteps filled my stomach with dread, but nevertheless I unzipped his jacket and draped it on top of the blanket so that it would at least keep my feet warm. Pulling the pillow tight behind my head, I was pleased to find it sort of smelled like Connor’s shampoo as the light clicked off. It left me feeling a little more safe. Ironic, I realized. I was in the middle of a wilderness, I’d almost been abducted, my mother was downstairs ruining our family, and all I could find myself to be worried about was if Connor would be okay.

The bed dipped behind me, shocking me into stillness, surprising me even more when someone lifted the sheet and slid in behind me, a bony hand resting on my hip.

“This okay?” He asked, and I dared to open my eyes to meet his. They were unsure, nervous. He was scared I’d reject him. I nodded, scooting closer.

“It really will be okay, you know,” he assured. “Whatever you choose, I’m gonna be with you.”

“You’re amazing,” I said without thinking, but being entirely sincere. Even in the dark, I saw his eyes go wide and his cheeks tinge a deep magenta in his pale face.

“No, I’m not.”

“Yes, you are,” I assured with a laugh, reaching across the divide to poke at his side, slightly surprised to still find him shirtless. He’d withdrawn his hand almost immediately, keeping respectfully to his side of the bed. “I’d be dead without you. And you’ve supported me this whole way.”

His jaw clenched and unclenched, freeing one of his arms to pick at the wrinkled sheets between us. “I just, fuck, I knew you’d hear some shit, but I was hoping you’d be able to come out here and we could start over again, like before? Zoe started her smear campaign almost immediately. I just, fuck, nevermind.”

I watched him withdraw, turning over with his back to me, the pale plains of his back bared to me.

“Con,” I said very softly. “I don’t care what they say–fuck them,” I laughed, watching Connor’s shoulders shake. “I think you’re good, Connor, and I miss being your friend.”

I watched with bated breath as his back rose and fell with his steady breath in the cold room, his skin radiating heat. I shifted closer, crossing the divide between us. He didn’t respond.

I didn’t sleep.

——

I was alerted late in the day by a noise–it was daylight, I noted, the clock on the bedside table reading it was almost noon. I was groggy, still in the state between sleep and consciousness. The room was shrouded in a bright grey hue from the winter wonderland outside–it had snowed a significant amount, apparently, and the white fluff stuck hopelessly to the window.

At the foot of the bed, Connor was on his knees, pulling a navy sweater over his head. It was tight, with a stretched collar and holes at the hem, but he looked good in it. His hair was frizzed at the temples, and his eyes were wide when we saw me.

“You’re awake.”

I just nodded, a little embarrassed. Part of me hoped Connor would just let last night drop, and we could continue our indifference toward each other, but most of me felt as if we had an unfinished conversation to attend to.

“Is anyone back yet?” I asked, surprised as Connor came to sit in front of me, legs crossed kindergarten style. He shook his head.

“No, actually. No one came back from their trip, and the lovebirds have miraculously vanished for a ski day. It’s just me and you.”

“Oh.”

Connor seemed unsure for a moment, brushing his hands off on his pants. “I’m sorry, um, about last night? I should’ve asked first if it was okay to sleep next to you, I just–I know you said you missed being friends, so I thought–”

“It was nice,” I cut him off with a smile that was nearly all false bravado. “Warm. I really do miss hanging out with you.”

He pursed his lips in way of a smile. “Me too. Miss having friends, period, but you’re kinda great, so–I’ll shut up.”

Stretching, I groaned with the sensation and smiled widely at him. “We can be friends again, don’t you think?” I asked, rubbing the sleep from my eyes. When my vision cleared, he was sitting by my feet, eyes downcast.

“It’s kinda lame, isn’t it?” He asked, sending ice down my spine.

“What, I’m not cool enough for you?” I teased half heartedly, despite feeling slightly sick. If Connor left now, I’d be marooned on this island I’d made for myself, and it wasn’t ideal knowing I no longer had any allies.

“No! That’s not what I–no, fuck, I just meant. Don’t you like Zoe better?”

I shook my head. “I like Zoe–but I liked you first.”

“Yeah, I liked the Teletubbies first, doesn’t mean I prefer them to Death Cab for Cutie.”

I snorted. “Okay, I like you best. You’re both really similar, you know, but you’re kinder.”

He shot me a glare, which I supposed I’d earned. “Liar.”

“Can’t lie,” I protested. “And I like you better. Get used to it.”

He swallowed, shifting on the bed and looking at me again as if grappling to say something. His eyebrows were pinched in the middle, making him look slightly worried, small. I watched the way his mouth bowed as he opened and closed it, my eyes tracing over his soft lips.

He was pretty, I realized, in a way I wouldn’t have considered before.

“What about when you leave?” He asked softly, scratching his arm absently.

I frowned. “What about it?”

“We won’t see each other again.”

I smiled. “Connor, you just live on the other side of town. I do own a car.”

He frowned. “You’d come to see me?”

“If you wanted me to,” I answered honestly. “Or we could go do stuff. It doesn’t make me any difference–whatever you want, I’m game for.”

His eyebrows took a sharp hike into his hairline. “Whatever I want, huh?”

My stomach clenched nervously–decidedly a good kind of nervous. I didn’t realize it till he placed his hand on my ankle, grinning up at me with crooked teeth and pretty eyes, that I might’ve begun to develop a small crush on him.

Which wasn’t okay.

——

“This is such bullshit.”

I cackled as Connor continued to strap on his snow boots, repeatedly tripping and losing his balance in the snow.

“C'mon, it’s fun!” I protested, pulling my sock toboggan down tighter over my ears, trudging another few slow steps through the slush. Connor was frustrated, I could tell, seeing his pink nose and ears, his breaths coming out in angry puffs of smoke.

“No,” he grunted, dragging himself up the trail a few more steps. “Video games are fun. Cartoons are fun. Cheap Internet porn is fun. Dragging my frozen ass up a mountain covered in snow for ten miles is not my idea of fun, dude.”

“It’s not ten miles,” I protested, taking a seat on a mostly clean looking rock, patting the seat beside me in condolence to Connor, giving him a much needed break. He’d agreed to go outside with me at least once to take a hike, since the Murphy kids never ever wanted to do anything that didn’t involve fried food or touristy tie dye t-shirts. We’d been going for a few hours now, and the last bench had easily been miles ago. I wanted to see where the trail ended.

Part of me was scared he’d only agreed because he thought I would break. I’d surprised myself with how calm I’d been after, well, what a nightmare this trip had been. I supposed I’d be worse once my dad got back–but he wasn’t yet, so I was content to have my last moments with Connor.

“We’ve been out here for hours, man, don’t you think we should head back before it gets dark?” He whined, leaning forward on his elbows and rubbed his hands together–he had on mittens, which was probably the cutest thing I’d ever seen. Say what you want about Connor Murphy, his aesthetic was absolutely demolished once you put him in a fire engine red puffer coat.

I sighed, glancing wistfully up the trail. I’d like to finish, but Connor was right–it was getting dark, too dangerous out for us to be out here alone. He’d humored me enough for today.

Time to go back and face reality.

I just nodded, stuffing my hands in my pockets and rising from the rock, giving a decent stretch before moving forward back down the path, Connor scurrying along beside me.

“Thanks for coming,” I said again, nudging him with my shoulder. He stumbled gracefully, grinning with a subdued force that warmed me a little, before checking me back with his shoulder.

“Don’t tell anyone,” he warned, stuffing his hands in his pockets. “But it wasn’t totally awful.”

I snorted. “I won’t let anyone know Connor Murphy can feel fun.”

Biting back a smile, he nudged me again. “God, please don’t. Then they might bring me back here and I’ll have to spend another two weeks with you.”

“I’m sure I’m just killing you inside,” I teased. “How dare your parents give you unfiltered access to a teenage girl.”

“Who never wears pants around the house,” he added sagely.

“And sleeps in your bed!” I choked with laughter, the bird walking along the snow path in front of us clearing the way. “God, I can’t believe I did that. I’m sorry, I was probably awful. Did I snore?”

His mouth twisted, as if trying to look indifferent but instead just failed at smothering a smile, both corners of his lips turning in a different direction.

“Not awful,” he offered, earning an embarrassed groan from me. “No! It’s cute, like a kid, I promise. You kicked the shit out of me, though.”

“You’re kidding me,” I groaned. “I’m so so sorry! I didn’t hurt you, did I?”

“Might be some bruises,” he grinned, to my further mortification. “Hey, nah, I’m kidding. Any damage will heal. It’s kinda funny.”

I cocked an eyebrow from where I was hiding my face behind my gloves. “Seriously?”

“Yeah, don’t sweat it,” he said, reaching out to take my wrist, pulling one of my hands away from my face. He didn’t realize it, just held it, swinging stiffly between us as we walked. He held his breath for a moment before continuing, “I would’ve let you know if I didn’t like it.”

“Kinky,” I said upon reflex, earning a lazy kick to my ankle.

“You’re hilarious. I just meant you’re warm, maybe the bruises are worth it.”

I felt my face get hot, words forming in my belly, escaping before I could choke them back. “Yeah? Maybe I’ll kiss them better tonight, if Zoe isn’t back.”

He let go of my wrist like I’d burned him.

“Sor–”

“Don’t,” he said quietly, stuffing his hands in his pockets, beginning to walk quickly ahead of me.

“What?” I screeched, frustrated.

“Don’t fake flirt with me. It’s not funny,” he spat, continuing walking too fast on his ridiculously long legs.

“Who said it was fake?” I grumbled. “I’m not making fun of you, Connor.”

There was a beat of silence, pulling at my heart with sharp claws, the dull ache starting in my chest and spreading. I’d messed up everything.

“It’s getting dark,” he growled. “And we don’t have a flashlight. Try and keep up.”

——

The panic set in at twilight.

We were running.

He was holding my hand again, dragging me roughly down the mountain, hoping desperately to see some kind of light pollution as the sun set, but there was nothing.

“We should see lights by now,” I told him. “We can see the lights from our cabin, we should see the lights now.”

“We went down the wrong side of the mountain,” he gasped, already out of breathe. I knew his lungs weren’t the best, and we’d been running for awhile now.

“There has to be something at the bottom,” I whispered hopelessly.

“There is,” he growled. “It’s called a gorge, then you climb the other mountain, and there’s the next state. Fuck, how did we get so turned around?”

“Doesn’t matter, Con,” I said hopelessly. “It’s gonna be dark soon.”

His dark eyes widened. “You aren’t sincerely suggesting we try to find shelter. In the middle of a national park.”

“I’ve got a flare gun and a flint,” I told him. “But we have to get back up out of the trees.”

“You want us to climb the mountain again?” He hissed, holding both my hands now. “Are you positive you don’t have signal?”

I nodded. “I’m really sorry, Connor.”

“Don’t be sorry. Start walking.”

——

It was an accident.

It was dark.

I had an analog watch, letting me know it was nearly nine pm. We’d found shelter just as it had started to snow–the  ground here was wet, quickly freezing into ice, and we kept slipping up on the trail. I’d set off the flare an hour ago, and, so far, nothing. The snow had begun to pick up, and we’d found a alcove between two adjacent rocks–not big, about the size of a walk in closet, but enough space for us, our bags, and a pile of wood that refused to light. It kept the snow and wind off of us, and the alcove was high enough I felt safe, with a small mouth that made me feel as if at any instant we could be trapped.

It was an accident.

“The fire won’t light,” I said again, hopelessly, watching my now bloody fingers go numb from trying desperately to get the flint to do its job. I couldn’t feel them without my gloves on.

Connor, huddled in a corner, viciously rubbed his arms in an attempt to get warm. I knew the  temperature would only drop from here. If someone hadn’t seen the flare….

“There’s no dry wood. I checked.”

“Nothing?”

“No, okay? Nothing. That’s it.”

I knew he was right–and searching now would only prove to be counter productive and dangerous. I moved our bags and the pile of firewood to the entrance, sealing us in.

“It’s gonna be pitch black soon,” I warned, watching Connor tap angrily at his phone. “You should probably save your battery. I don’t have a flashlight.”

He snorted. “You’ll bring sleeping bags and a flint, but not a flashlight?”

“It’s the emergency bag! I didn’t pack it, Connor. Make fun of it all you want, but it’s keeping us alive!”

There was a beat of silence, before he clicked his phone off, leaving us in darkness. “M sorry.”

I dragged out the single sleeping bag, stretching it out to him. “Don’t be sorry.” I felt guilty–it was my fault we were in this mess to begin with. “Wanna granola bar?”

“Save it,” he said in a clipped tone, unsure what to make of it since we were veiled in darkness. “We might need it later.” Then, softer: “What’s the plan?”

I heard him stand, and walk across the slick ice of the alcove, coming to stand beside me, his hand at my elbow.

“Well,” I said very slowly, feeling my throat get thick. “Survive the night, stay awake, and once dawn hits we head back to the other side of the mountain, if no one comes.”

“If no one comes,” he echoed, voice oddly hollow. I choked.

“It, erm, is very possible they think we just wandered off, you know? We’re teenagers,” I reminded gently. I left out the part the police would be less than willing to look–Connor had a history of running away after a bad binge.

“Fuck,” he growled.

It was an accident. It was quick, in the dark, we couldn’t see.

He reached our for me, his open palm colliding with the back of my head, yanking me tightly again his chest, my nose buried in his nylon puffer coat. I felt his other hand, too forcefully, at the small of my back, and I nearly screamed, terrified this was an episode I couldn’t control–

“We’re gonna make it outta here,” he breathed against my ear, his breath warm and humid against my freezing ears. It set off a light bulb in my brain. “We’re gonna go back home and–fucking shit, I’m gonna be a goddamn good friend to you and we’re gonna–fuck,” he hissed, his clipped voice breaking off. “I’m gonna take care of you, I’m not going anywhere.”

I let myself break open, collapsing against him, openly sobbing with regret. He stiffened, but just tightened his arms around me despite our bulky clothes.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered. “This is all my fault.”

“It is not,” he hissed, shaking me a little. “We had no way of knowing this would happen. The trail looked safe.”

I just nodded, knowing that arguing would tire me out. I felt the lethargy begin to creep in my bones–Connor was warm, and it was late, and we were tired. Falling asleep meant dying.

“Get out the sleeping bag,” he said, extracting himself from me, and I heard his hands scrape along the hard rock looking for the entrance. “And I’ll look for some more blankets in the bag, see if we can’t insulate–fuck!

“What is it?” I screeched, turning, grabbing his hand to only find that my own was suddenly wet, almost sticky, and Connor pulled away with a howl. I smelled the metallic sting before I realized.

“Something cut my hand!”

“Stay away from the wall,” I warned. “Take your undershirt off, I’ll rip it up.” I felt around desperately for Connor’s phone, immediately illuminating our little cave with a blinding blue light.

The amount of blood smeared across the wall was nauseating. There was a sharp spot Connor must’ve grabbed too quickly.

He was crying, trying desperately to unzip his coat with one hand, the other dripping onto the floor.

“Fuck, I hope something doesn’t smell that,” I whispered, laying down the light and running to help him get undressed, careful of the open cut across his palm.

“I knew I was gonna get naked tonight,” he said with an unsure laugh, “I just didn’t realize it would be like this.”

My face flushed. “What, you thought I’d suck you off because we’re about to die?”

He shivered, accentuated by me ripping his white shirt down the front, exposing his blue, goosebumped skin.

“Fuck,” he hissed, and I was unsure if it was from the cold, the pain, or my foul language.

“Hope this is clean,” I muttered, wrapping a strip of his white shirt across his palm in a desperate attempt to stop the bleeding. It was a good way to get an infection, but I wasn’t sure what else to do.

“I didn’t–I wouldn’t ask you to–”

“I’m not sucking you off!”

“Fuck, I just meant–hypothermia, skin to skin, I saw it in a movie–”

The phone light clicked off. I sighed, tying off the cotton bandage.

“You wanna get naked in the sleeping bag,” I finished.

“I don’t want to!” He howled. “And not naked–just, enough to stay alive, shit. It’s gonna be negative ten out here soon, I just wanna stay alive.”

“We should hurry,” I said, surprising myself by reaching out to urge him to rub at his bare chest, earning a gasp from him. “You’re gonna freeze soon. Get your pants off.”

I handed him the sleeping bag, my breath catching as I heard his belt clink to the floor, trying very hard not to think about the implications of this. How far did he expect me to undress? And, if we did get in here, it would be ridiculously tight, we might fall asleep–

“Hurry up, this bag is an icicle with one person.”

Straightening out my bra and panties (even if we were going to die, Connor Murphy did not get to cop a feel) I felt my way to the sleeping bag.

My hand on his chest, he guided my legs one at time–one by his side, one between his knees–and gently folded me down against him, uncomfortably tight as his shaking fingers zipped the sleeping bag up.

He was breathing hard against my temple, and I immediately began to sweat–between the nylon bag and the fact I felt all of Connor Murphy pressed against my chest and stomach–it was nerve wracking.

“Don’t fall asleep,” he reminded in a hoarse voice, shaking a little. I couldn’t quite figure out where his hands were.

“Don’t get a boner,” I begged, earning a beat of silence before:

“I, uh, am–I’m really trying not to,” he groaned, and I could feel how hot his face was against my temple.

“If it helps,” I said, slightly disgusted. “You can imagine our parents kissing. That really kills my fire.”

“Ew,” he said. “Please don’t.”

I grinned. “What? You don’t want me to be your hot step sister?”

Stop it,” he begged, making me laugh, pressing my face against the soft cushion of his hair, nosing at the column of his throat. He groaned a little, and I felt his fingers twitch beside my hips.

“I can’t believe their secret is going to die with us,” I sighed. “No one is ever going to know.”

“I can’t believe you’re lying on top of me in your spiderman panties, but that’s also happening, so you’d better believe it,” he sighed, hands twitching again.

“You can touch me, you know,” I breathed, a little embarrassed against his ear. “We’re gonna die anyway, might as well die comfy.”

“We won’t die,” he promised, his hands clasping over the small of my back regardless.  “Hey,” he crooned, in a soft voice I hadn’t heard before. Encouraging. “Remember sharing a sleeping bag when we were kids?”

I laughed half heartedly, remembering fully. “The thing was always full of pixie stick wrappers.”

“It was an addiction, and I have quit,” he said sagely, earning another laugh from me. I almost joked about the pot, but part of me knew it wasn’t a funny joke. It didn’t have anything to do with him. He sighed, one finger trailing up my spine. “God, I was so in love with you.”

I froze against him, my body a live wire. His hand pulled back.

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said tha–”

“Were you really?” I asked. I felt him smile, before leaning in to kiss my cheek, slowly, his dry lips lingering.

“Don’t tell me you didn’t know,” he groaned. “Zoe had me convinced you were just humoring me because you knew I’d do anything for you.”

I pulled up, as far as I could (which wasn’t much) squinting to make out his face in the dark. “That wasn’t true. You were my best friend.”

He nodded. “Yeah, I know. God, that time when you kissed me….I’m so sorry we stopped talking. I don’t think I’m ever gonna forgive myself for that.”

“Connor,” I said very softly, reaching up to tangle my hands lightly in his hair. “If we’re gonna die…can I just….”

He surged up before I could, the nylon around us snapping taunt, squeaking in protest. Up on his elbows, his bony hands found their purchase on my bare hips, and I felt the wetness through one of the bandages–his hand was still bleeding, the idiot.

His lips were dry, and he kissed much too roughly for someone who wasn’t holding my head in place, our teeth clinking together in a way that I knew was an accident, sending my skull ringing. His eyes were squeezed shut in the darkness.

I can’t believe it took us to the brink of death for him to admit this.

God, he’s an idiot.

I reached up, pulling at his hair, holding his head to mine, his tongue licking roughly up into my mouth before breaking away–

“Boner,” he warned in a squeak, earning a loud laugh from me, collapsing against his chest.

“Not even in death, Murphy, am I sucking you off on a first or last date,” I giggled against his neck, giving him a chaste kiss there, listening to him groan. His hips canted a little, scaring me, before taking a deep breath to calm himself.

“First date, huh?” I felt him grin, followed by a yawn.

“Stay awake, Connor,” I urged, smacking him hard. “Or I’m gonna twist your nipple.”

“Kinky,” he sighed lethargically. Shit, he was gonna sleep.

“Connor–”

“Promise me this,” he sighed, nuzzling lightly against the side of my face. “If we survive the night by some miracle, and we don’t freeze to death or get eaten by bears or bleed out–you wanna kiss me again? With more clothes on? As my girlfriend?”

I leaned into his touch, tilting my head up to give him access to suck a hickey into my neck, groaning.

“Murphy, if we live, I will suck you off.”

That was the last thing I remembered.

——-

Three days later, it’s still cold. I’m not wearing much–a blue gown with shitty pink flowers, it’s made of some kind of plasticy cotton material. There’s blood under my fingernails and bruises on my neck that are almost embarrassing when I remembered how I got them. My clothes were gone.

Connor was gone.

My mother and father were leaning over my bed, the Murphy's  (minus Cynthia) are behind them. No Connor.

They explained it slowly, eyes wide. They found Connor and I nearly frozen, unconscious. Connor lost a lot of blood, they said, and he wasn’t do so well but he’d woken up several days before me.

He wouldn’t eat until they let him see me.

I’d nearly ripped out my IV to get to him.

He was wearing the same shitty hospital gown, his hair pulled back. He’s got hickies I don’t remember giving him across his collarbone that are ridiculously visible. There were purple bruises under his eyes, like he hadn’t been sleeping.

“They said you were still too sick to get out of bed,” he grinned, opening his arm, and I immediately stumbled over to the thin mattress, pressing myself tightly against him. His hand is thickly wrapped in cotton, a few tubes full of a yellow brown liquid in them. He was combing my hair–which I’m sure was a rats nest–out with his free hand.

“They said the same about you.”

“We’re really lucky, you know,” I said softly, tapping at his chest. “I almost lost you.”

“Almost lost you,” he choked out, pulling away to scan my face, before grinning. “Which would’ve sucked, because you’re my only friend right now.”

“Friend?” I said, trying hard not to sound disappointed. I supposed I shouldn’t have been–what we’d done in the heat of a moment hadn’t meant anything then. It had been a lie for my humor.

It wasn’t fair.

Connor’s eyebrows furrowed. “You, um–do you wanna be my girlfriend?”

I frowned. “I mean, only if you want me to.”

He grinned, the smile splitting across his face. “It’ll suck–your parents will hate me.”

“Right now, I kind of hate my parents, so.”

“I do a lot of pot.”

“We can do something else instead,” I grinned, nudging him, having the nerve to blush.

He licked his lips, looking down at where he’d intertwined our hands. “You–you can’t fix me, you know? I’m still gonna be, you know.”

I nodded, bring his hand up to kiss across the bloody knuckles of his good hand. “I know. I promised I’d be your girlfriend, though. A promise is a promise.”

He grinned. “I’m glad you say that–because you did promise something else.”

I shook my head, rising from the bed. “The kiss is for when we have clothes on, remember.”

“I wasn’t talking about that kiss.”

Connor Murphy!

— off limits | 04 (m)

pairing— kim seokjin x reader
genre/warnings— smut, dom! Jin, dare I say fluff…? followed by an ‘oh shit’ moment
words— 12,051

:: summary— you’ve been lusting after your brother’s best friend for a while now, ever since you met him at a house party, flirting it up a storm as you failed to realise who the other was. That was months ago now and things are still awkward, but you can’t ignore the sexual tension that’s simmers between the two of you…and it keeps getting worse…

 » 01 :: 02 :: 03 :: 04 :: 05 :: 06 :: 07 ::

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Just Friends

Requests: (1) Could you do a Draco imagine that consists of Cedric Diggory, Draco getting jealous, feels, conflict, and a load of jealousy?;

(2) Could you do an imagine where Draco and the reader are best friends and lowkey in love with each other but refuse to admit it, and progressively Draco starts making, erm, suggestive, comments to the reader and there’s just lots of sexual tension and eventually they get together?

⇢  A Draco x Reader work featuring a very jealous and steamy Draco.


Draco took a sip from his goblet, peering over the rim as you walked into The Great Hall with a handsome Hufflepuff by your side. Not that it bothered him, of course. In fact, Draco would say he hardly even noticed.

“You alright, mate?”

“Just fine. Why do you ask?”

Zabini shrugged. “Your nose has been inside your goblet for some time now. Trying to drown yourself, Malfoy?”

“Of course not.” Draco lowered the goblet from his face, never once taking his eyes off you. You were still talking to that boy.

Blaise followed Draco’s gaze and smirked. “Tell me, Draco, where’s that best friend of yours? She usually would have dropped by for her daily chat by now.” He watched as Draco’s jaw clenched ever so slightly. “Oh– I see her. She’s preoccupied by that Hufflepuff. Diggory, is it?”

“I don’t know. And I couldn’t care less, really.”

“Didn’t you two agree to attend the Yule Ball together?” A look of mock realization dawned on Zabini’s face. “Oh, that’s right. You two agreed to go only as friends. And now she’s chatting up the Triwizard Champion while you’re here dateless.”

“Appears so.” Draco remained impassive. “But at least I have an excuse for not bringing a date. Can you say the same?”

Zabini sobered as he took in Draco’s expressionless tone. Zabini may have been a tosser, but he knew when to stop. “You really like her, don’t you?”

Draco heaved a sigh, rubbing his temple and finally turning to face Blaise. “Is it obvious?”

“Only to someone with a brain.” Blaise paused. “Which explains why Y/N hasn’t caught on yet.”

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Boner

2,500 Followers Oneshot

Summary: The reader moves into a new town and finds out something surprising about her gorgeous neighbor.

Prompt: “I’m not sure if you’re trying to turn me on but I have a boner now.”

Pairing: neighbor!Dean x Reader

Requested: @whispersandwhiskerburn


Change.

You’ve never despised a word so much in your god damn life. It mocks you, rips every little aggravation from the world and throws it right into your fucking face. It’s turned your life completely and totally upside down. Then it spun you the fuck around just to make sure you’re officially screwed.

Having just moved from New York two weeks ago, you can now call Nashville home. Forget a different state, you feel like you’re in a freaking different reality. The friendly residents alone throw you for a loop. You’re slightly convinced that they have some ulterior motive. Then again considering the shady fuckers in your past, you could just be paranoid. 

Growing up in a big city has given you a tough exterior that the men around here seem to be intimated by. It must be the way you carry yourself, also the permanent bitch face that you’ve acquired over the years.

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A cat person - Sirius Black x Reader

Request: DAMN I LOVE YOUR WRITINGS! Can I request a Sirius x reader where he finds her as animagus (cat) and become super close and always tries to take her to his room and class and everywhere but like.. she can’t and one day decides to tell him?❤️❤️ 

Yayyy!
Warnings: Um, I don’t really know. My English, not that great?
Image and Gif aren’t mine. Credits to their original owners.
Masterlist

You had finally achieved the transformation.

You had tried for months, followed every step. Of course, nobody knew. You, however,  had guessed that McGonagall was an exception.
You had to keep a leaf of a Mandrake in your mouth for an entire month and you could honestly say that it sucked. You weren’t able to speak or eat properly and even the last person that you talked to was worried that something was wrong. Lily had even insisted for you to visit Madam Pomfrey. But you managed to escape that. She would know instantly.
Another bummer was that you couldn’t choose your animagus form. If you could, you would very much like to be a lion or a tiger or even a cat. You knew that your form would represent your personality and you liked to think that you, just like a cat, can show all the affection in the world if someone had earned it but was independent and very well self-sufficient. And it was cute.
You had read that your animagus form and your Patronus could be the same. There was an exception, though. Your Patronus could change- so it would represent the soul of your significant other. You didn’t know your Patronus yet but you were quite positive that it would reveal your long-time crush on a certain raven-haired, gray-eyed boy. The crush was formed the very moment you laid eyes on him. But you were not that great when it came to actions. You just sat back while he slept with everyone. Literally everyone. But you didn’t do anything. What could you do anyways?
 So, here you were. Your first transformation.
You felt dizzy-like you had been drinking for a while. Kind of light headed. You looked down. Paws? Small paws? You wanted to squeal in happiness and excitement but all you managed to do was meow.
“Aren’t you adorable?”. Wait. What? You stopped walking because two strong hands picked you up, gently. You wanted to tell them to put you back down that instant but again, you just meowed.
He laughed. Oh, no. You knew that sound. You knew that laugh. Just your luck.
“Fiesty. But adorable” he continued, slightly petting your head, his slender fingers going through your fur. You purred before you could stop yourself. You must have been tiny for him to carry you in his palms.
“How did you end up here, alone?” he asked you and you felt the urge to facepalm. You moved your paws in a way that revealed your annoyance. He smiled and you felt yourself melting under his touch. But why was he outside that late?
“You need a name, don’t you?” he said softly. Not that you didn’t like him being there or that you were complaining. You leaned your head to his fingers. That was all it took. His smile dropped.
“Care to listen?” he simply asked you, his voice strained of happiness. You meowed. He remained still for a moment. You nudged him with your head.
“I have to be in my dorm and you are coming with me”. Was he insane? He was talking to a cat. Did he expect an answer? He chuckled.

His friends were fast asleep and you felt really bad for him. He truly needed someone to listen. He plopped down onto his bed, softly placing you onto his lap. You nuzzled him and purred, rubbing your head against his stomach. He was petting you like it was calming him down.
“Alright, tiger. Here is the deal…”Tiger? Really, tiger? He started telling you about his life and his family and even you wouldn’t call those people family; how he was treated and how he reacted. Eventually, he admitted that he wasn’t carefree and that it hurt him when he was disowned because after all, he was their son, their blood and you saw how hard it was for him. He tried to play it off but you just gave him a sympathetic look and bit his fingers playfully. What did I just do?
You spent all night with him-in your animagus form, of course. At some point he fell asleep, his hands still petting you. You felt torn. You wanted to stay but you had to -
To hell with it.
You carefully moved near his head, curled up in a furry ball and fell asleep. You wanted to show him that someone did care.


That had been going on about a month now. You were staying all night with him and once he got out of the room for breakfast you’d run like hellfire was coming your way. Just to make it in time. The last couple of days though, he had tried to carry you to class with him. Something that was impossible. You would miss the class and all of the professors would know that you were an illegal animagus. Neither were things you were looking forward to.
He, however, had managed to do it yesterday.

You were extremely uncomfortable. You hadn’t managed to stop him from carrying you to McGonagall’s class.Out of all of your professors, it had to be the other cat animagus. You knew she knew the moment she saw you. She smiled to herself.
“Mr. Black what on earth are you carrying?” she questioned him but her voice wasn’t stiff. She actually enjoyed it.
“My cat. Meet Tiger. Tiger, meet Minnie” he proudly introduced you. You were thankful that animals don’t blush.
“Your..cat?” she raised an eyebrow in question. Sirius grinned like a mad man.
“I adopted her” he answered, thinking that Minnie would be proud. And she was. But for a different reason. She just gave him a pointed look and walked away.
“I am not sure you want that kind of relationship with her” she whispered under her breath but you heard it.

You walked into his room. A cat. A cat walked into his room. You had to remind yourself a couple of times that all he ever saw was a cat.
You had learned that he was an animagus too- a black dog, which was the biggest irony in the world- as well as Remus’ secret. Not that you didn’t suspect it earlier. His words came as a confirmation.
He was already inside, looking kind of mad.
“You sneaky little Tiger” he said in a mocking way, pointing you-the cat. You furrowed your eyebrows, wait-not yours per say. You waltzed all the way to him, jumped on his bed and made yourself comfortable on his lap. You gave him a puzzled look or at least that was what you were aiming for. You meowed in protest when he removed you from his lap and almost scratched him.
“You haven’t let me impress her! She is never around when you are. Let me take you to her. PLEASE” he exclaimed with a funny look on his face. Oh, no. He wanted to use you to impress a girl?
You abruptly yet gracefully landed on the floor, making your way out. You really wanted to be alone for a second.
“Wait. No! Don’t go, Tiger” he said and a moment later you found yourself halting. He sounded… broken.
“She is never gonna like me. I mean-ugh!”. You weren’t sure if you should scream because ‘she’ wasn’t you or because he was hurt. But you did value his happiness a bit more than yours, so when he picked you up and petted you, you let him.
“Sure-most girls just throw themselves at me but she is not like that. She is this angelic-like creature; she is radiating. The sun doesn’t stand a chance. Her smile… oh, Tiger… her smile” he trailed off. He had that stupid grin on his face.        He looked cute. You would never have guessed that he could fall so much in love. She was one of the luckiest people on earth to have him swept off his feet- and she didn’t even know. He caressed your small head with affection. Something that you could only gain while in this form.
“I wish I could ask her on a date. Even her name is perfect. Have you ever heard a name so… Y/N. I mean it’s flowing like water- Tiger? Tiger!?”. You had lost your balance and fell down to the floor. Then, before you could think what had just happened, three idiots walked in.
“Still in love with Tiger?” James teased him but petted you while giving you a sweet smile. You, however, could only think of his previous words. Did he really say your name? Like you were that ‘she’?
“No, Prongs. That’s Y/N” Peter said, laughing and you knew that if you weren’t already on the floor you would have fallen.
“Man up and ask her out, Pads” Remus advised him. Bless your soul, Moony!
You run out of their room and made a beeline to yours. You could really use a moment.
 Once you were safely inside your dorm, you changed back to your human self! Finally.
You decided to skip tonight’s meeting and actually leave him a bit alone.
He actually liked you. He liked you. You kept repeating that to yourself but it didn’t seem any less impressive. You thought that you must have done something really good to deserve it.

 You were sitting in the Great Hall, eating breakfast and cheerfully participating in the conversation that your friends had started. Something about boys. Oh, you thought about boys, alright. One in particular.
 You noticed the group walking in and sitting down next to you. James, of course, sat next to his Lily-flower. You chuckled.
 You could tell that he was staring at you and you felt your heart skip several beats. With all the courage you had muster to find for a second, you turned towards him, smiled brightly. He was taken aback. Your smile only grew bigger.
“Good morning Sirius” you said kindly and very amused.
“H-Hi!” he stuttered out. You held back the urge to chuckle. The great Sirius Black. Everyone’s attention was on you.
“I would love to go out with you” you said nonchalantly while you poured some milk into your coffee. You could hear the gasps coming from everyone. Literally everyone. You looked at him like nothing had happened. He was choking on his breath.
“How- Wha-Uh?” he breathed out completely bewildered.
“A little cat told me” you said, sending him a wink. His eyes almost popped out. You laughed. He was so dense.
“You’re an animagus!” he whispered-yelled, causing you to shush him.
“What can I say.? For a dog, you are quite the cat person” you mocked him, continuing your breakfast, but not before you reached and pecked his cheek.
Little did you know, he was left breathless, bright red and smiling like he had won the lottery. Because in his mind, he had.

A Babysitting Love Affair | Zach Dempsey x Reader

Genre: Romance, Fluff
POV: Reader’s/First Person

A/N: This was requested by anon! I hope you guys will like this as much as my first one. I kind of ramble on but please bear with me lol.
Request: could i request a zach dempsey x reader where the reader is babysitting zach’s sister, and zach haven’t met the babysitter yet and one day he goes home early and falls in love with her?

—–

“I’ll be there tomorrow morning Mrs. Dempsey.”

“Alright love, thank you so much!”

I smile as I close the door after Zach’s mom who asked me to babysit Zach’s little sister, May. She mentioned that she will have to go to Chicago for the weekend to take care of something and I was assigned to be May’s companion overnight since her brother is an extremely busy guy. The Dempseys are a close family friend, too bad I’m not really that close with Zach or May. It’s probably because we go to different high schools and it doesn’t really help that I can be anti-social at times. I know nothing about them, and they know nothing about me in return so it’s all good.

—–

The next morning

“I’ll be leaving now or else I’ll miss my flight! Thank you so much again Y/N for babysitting. I’ll see you girls tomorrow morning alright? Feel at home love, my number’s on the fridge if you need me and I left money for any emergency. Zach won’t be here until dinner tonight. He has basketball practice.” Mrs. Dempsey says as she bids goodbye to Zach’s little sister and I.

“Got it Mrs. Dempsey! We’ll see you tomorrow.” I finally say with a smile.

“Bye mom! I’ll be good, I promise!” May puts her right thumb out to her mom and waves goodbye.

“So, what do you want to do today, May?” I ask her as we’re left alone inside the house.

“Hmm, I don’t really have anything in mind. Oh wait I know! Let’s style each other’s hair.” She suggests with a gleam in her eyes; she looked so excited.

“Sure kiddo.” I reply with a smile and we proceed to the living room to watch TV. May got all of her hair accessories from her room for us to use. She decided that it’d be fun to start with my hair first and put them in pigtails and so she did. She chose these pink puffy hair bands to tie my hair. May had long, black and shiny hair which reminded me of Katniss Everdeen so naturally, I chose to put her hair in a fish tail braid.

“Wow Y/N, you’re really good at this!” she beams after her make over.

“Why thank you, Miss Everdeen.” I reply with a bow and she giggles in response.

A couple of hours later and it was almost lunch time. May wanted to order pizza and so we did. She didn’t like vegetables so we opted for a classic cheese pizza instead. A few minutes later and the doorbell rang, I ran to the door to open it, with the money in my left hand.

“Thank you so–” I begin to greet the pizza man but a ginormous, muscular guy hovered above me instead.

Keep reading

Destruction Of A Muse (M) [Final]

Originally posted by bangtannoonas

[Part 1] - [Part 2] - [Part 3] - [Part 4]

Words: 8.418

The harsh slap of your phone dropping to your thigh was what pulled you back into the present, your stomach churning and clenching, your ribs feeling as though they were closing in on your lungs, caging them and preventing any air from getting in. You could hear the barely-there muffle of Tae’s voice, screaming at you to answer him, and it took all the willpower you had to pick up the phone once more and bring it to your ear, hand trembling.

“Y/N, please fucking answer me, I’m losing my fucking mind!” He wailed, his deep voice pitched and terrified.

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This is a second part of my fic about Mike and his dad that I posted a few days ago, you can find the first part in my writing tag (allie writes). I’m thinking about writing a third part with a bit of a Mike and Hopper bonding too. Anyway, enjoy!

_________

Ted Wheeler left on the day of his son’s fifteenth birthday.

It was a warm Saturday, June evening. The whole party, Steve, Nancy and Jonathan, gathered in the basement, with the exception of El, who was yet to come.

‘Okay, so you guys are going to teach me that nerdy game of yours today, right? ’ Steve asked, throwing a chips into his mouth, and focusing very hard on pushing away the remains of hurt he felt when he looked at Nancy and Jonathan.

'Its a very serious board game! If you’re going to be a part of the party, you need to take it seriously!’ exclaimed Mike, deeply offended.

'Whatever you said, birthday boy. ’ said Steve, raising his hands defensively. As soon as he said it, the doorbell rang and Mike jumped up, nearly knocking the D&D table over.

'I… Uh… I’ll just…’ he stammered, trying to smooth down his button-up navy blue shirt his mom made him wear.

'Just go already, Romeo!’ Dustin grinned.

Mike rolled his eyes and nearly ran up the stairs. He approached the front door and took a deep breath. He felt ridiculous, still feeling this way everytime he was about to see her, but he couldn’t help it.

The door opened and Mike thought he must have looked even more ridiculous than he felt.

El was wearing a black 'The Clash’ t-shirt she got from Will and Jonathan for her fourteenth birthday, tucked into a dark red knee-length skirt. Her curly hair that reached her shoulders now were neatly braided on one side, leaving the rest of the hair wild. She was smiling softly, looking up at him with her doe eyes.

He forgot to breathe for a moment.

'El. ’ he said breathlessly, feeling a stupid grin grow on his face.

Hopper, who was standing next to her, holding a big package, cleared his throat. Mike looked at him, blinking.

'Uh, hi Hopper. ’

'Hi kid. ’ Jim grinned slightly, shaking his head at the teenager. 'Happy birthday.’

He handed Mike the package. The boy took it, and huffed. It was surprisingly heavy.

'What’s that? ’

'How about you find out and chief comes in for a coffee and a piece of cake? ’ said Karen, who appeared in the doorway.

'I should get going Karen, I’m on a diet, and I have… ’

'Joyce’s here too. ’

Jim scratched his head. El shot him a knowing look, nudging him with her elbow.

'I guess a piece of cake won’t hurt. ’ he grumbled and followed Karen to the living room shooting a warning look at Mike, but smiling lightly at the same time.

'Happy birthday. ’ said El, standing on her tiptoes and kissing his cheek, her lips lingering on his warm skin for a few seconds. Her hands rested on his arms, fingers gripping his shirt lightly. 'And stop growing.’ she huffed.

He chuckled lightly, kissing the tip of her nose, which she scrunched up adorably.

'Open your present. ’

He kneeled down and lifted the lid of the box, looking inside.

'No shit!’

'Michael!’ his mother reprimanded from the living room, but Mike just looked up at El.

'This is so cool!’

Inside there was a brand new brown typing machine.

'So you can write your stories.’ El said shyly. 'Is it like the one you wanted?’

He didn’t respond. Instead, he stood up and wrapped his arms around her, hugging her tightly. Due to the growth spurt he experienced during last year, her face was buried in his chest, but at times like that she didn’t mind the height difference at all.

'Thank you. ’ he breathed.

'You guys coming or are you going to suck face here all night?’ Dustin’s voice interrupted, as their impatient friend came up from the basement. 'You look totally bitchin’, El. ’ he added, grinning at her. She grinned back, pulling back from Mike, who made a face at Dustin and grabbed the box.

'I, uh… I’ll be right back, okay? I’ll just take this to my room. ’ Mike said. 'You guys go ahead. ’

El glanced at him, sensing that he was a little uneasy, but decided to talk to him about it later, and went down with Dustin.

Mike carried the box to his room, and then entered the living room.

'Mom… Did dad call, or something? ’ he muttered awkwardly, trying to avoid looking at Joyce and Hopper. 'I mean… He stayed in work longer, right?’

Karen nodded, looking at her son with concern.

'Do you wanna wait for him, with the cake?’

Mike gripped a button of his shirt between his thumb and index finger, pressing his lips together.

'No. Just… Can we just have it now?’

'Of course. ’

He marched towards the basement, stopping before he reached the stairs. He pressed his forehead against the wall, breathing in deeply and wiping a stray bit of moisture in the corner of his eye.

I don’t care.

I do not care. The same way he doesn’t care.

I do not care.

Straightening his back, he walked down.

Holly joined the group, insisting she was going to braid Max’s hair. The redhead really wanted to protest, but it took one smile and a dash of 'Wheeler charm’ and there she was, sitting on the floor while the six year old fiddled with her fiery strands.

'Look, Mikey!’ Holly exclaimed, showing him one of the two braids she was making.

'This is really pretty Holls. ’ he smiled at her, suppressing the storm inside his head.

For them. You’re a damn happy fifteen year old. You are. Act like it. You don’t care. He doesn’t have to be here for you to be happy. You never needed him anyway. He never really wanted to be here for you.

'Mike? Hey, Mike?’

'What?’ Mike looked at Lucas.

'You spaced out again. You alright, man?’ his friend had a concerned look on his face.

'Yeah, sorry.’

'Do you have that character sheet you made for Steve?’

'Character sheet for… oh, sure. Wait a sec. ’ he approached the shelf, taking his DM notebook and rummaging through it. 'Yeah, here it is. Steve the Fighter. ’

He presented the page to Steve. He scanned the text and his eyes grew wide. ’

'That’s so cool! And I have a spiked bat here too! And I…’

'Act like a seven year old? ’ added Max, grinning at him from her spot on the floor. He showed her his tongue and grinned to himself.

'Thats real cool. Thanks, Wheely. ’ he ruffled Mike’s hair.

Mike smiled despite himself and felt the urge to laugh.

He, Mike Wheeler,was turning fifteen, and was about to play Dungeons and Dragons with Steve freaking Harrington, who somehow managed to unofficially become a honorary older brother to all of them. Among many strange things that happened during last few years, this was possibly one of the strangest. Despite everything, though, Mike decided to be a normal teenager and let go of the things that kept him from enjoying his own birthday.

And for a while he succeeded. They were laughing, playing, listening to music that Jonathan brought. He was holding El’s hand under the table, and she was resting her cheek against his arm. Steve was engrossed in a game even more than the boys, El, who already grasped the concept was getting really good at it, suprising all of them, Max, sporting two glorious braids, teased Mike endlessly when the description parts about 'El the Mage’ turned out to be way longer than the others, Holly, Jonathan and Nancy watching them from the couch, Holly braiding Jonathan’s hair now, to Nancy’s amusement.

Then the cake was there, and he was blowing out the candles, and he could almost feel like he was truly, fully okay.

But then, there was shouting. It was his mother, easily heard from the basement, yelling at her husband for not being there for his son’s birthday. There was yelling, endless yelling, and somehow Mike ended up hugging Holly, who was frozen, scared. She did not understand.

'It’s okay, Holly. It’s okay. I promise. ’ he whispered to her, turning to the only thing he was even slightly good at. Helping. He had to help Holly, he had to be there for Nancy. He didn’t matter all that much, he just needed to make them okay, he needed to make his mom okay, he needed to…

There was silence, dead silence, broken only by his quickened, uneven breath, Holly’s sobs and Nancy’s sniffling. The rest was frozen, unsure what to do or say, Jonathan and Will looking at each other with way too much understanding of the situation, their memories still fresh.

The silence carried on.

He needed to do something, say something, be a man in a boys body, like his father always expected him to but never believed he could be.

And as he passed Holly into Nancy’s arms, with Steve, a concerned look on his face, trying to distract the little girl with his brand new D&D piece.

Mike ran up the stairs, ignoring the calls of his friends.

He came to face his father, a suitcase handle in his hand.

'Dad…?’ he asked, suddenly out of breath, feeling like Troy had just kicked his stomach again.

'Happy birthday, son. ’ Ted said, putting a hand on his arm. His eyes were empty, with just a spark of some sort of guilt hidden deep in them.

And then there was a car being started, driven away. And Mike wasn’t okay. Mike Wheeler was not by any means okay, and the realisation came crashing down on him so quickly he felt the wave of breathtaking panic fill his lungs, felt his hands start to shake, and his chest shook with soundless sobs.

He didn’t even bother to close the door after himself.

They find him at the quarry two hours later, staring at the water reflect the moonlight, his eyes red and puffy, his tall, lanky form shaking.

El is the first one to reach him, having nearly jumped out of the car before it even stopped. When her hands get a hold the sides of his head and her forehead is pressed against his own, he crumbles to the ground, fresh wave of tears breaking the dam, leaning against her and clinging to her as if he would fall apart if she didn’t hold him together.

'I’m sorry I’m so sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m so so sorry’ he kept repeating, sobbing against her arm as she held his head against her chest, his shaky breath brushing her collar bones, her pressing her lips to his hair, her eyes tightly shut. His hands grasped the back of her shirt desperately as he cried.

'It’s not your fault. Not your fault.’ she said, trying to make him understand, the same way he tried to make her understand all those years ago in the same place.

And then there is Nancy, holding them both, crying against her brothers arm, Jonathan, Dustin, Will, Lucas, Steve, Max… All off them ended up huddled close together.

They sit like that for a long time, until the cries are only silent echoes, and the warm wind kisses their faces as if to comfort them and dry their tears.

@maxmayfield @shattered-quill @ale-le-me @themikewheelers @mxdmax @dadhopper @lucassinclairstan @bob-newby-superhero @poolamp @alabasterswriting