Counterclockwise (2017-03-25)

“Hey!” she screams up at the sky, empty and silent and useless, “How long are you going to wait? Haven’t I done enough?”

There is nothing around her, nothing for the sound to bounce back, no echoes just her voice lost to eternity.

She’s reached a new low. Now she does not want an ending. She needs it. And she’s demanding it.

She doesn’t know if there is a god up there, one who will smite her for her hubris or will take pity on her. She’s met people with fantastic powers, people with immortality, people with both. She’s met beings who go by the terms angels and demons. She’s met spirits of long passed people, spirits of ideas, spirits of natural formations. Once, she met a spirit of red crayons who gave her a surprisingly legitimate treasure map after she did it a great service.

But she’s never met a god.

She thinks, if she ever does, she’s going to punch it in its face.

She’s become riskier over the years. Vicious and flippant and aggressive over the eons. Once, she was just some civilian who thought fighting was the arguments she had with her siblings over whose turn it was to do the dishes.

Now she runs headfirst into battles, brushing past a literal invulnerable man and sneering, “Why are you hesitating? What’s the worst that can happen? We’ll die?”

Once, meeting Apex had brought stars to her eyes. Had reaffirmed her confidence that maybe she could one day be hero, too.

Now she is the team’s walking time bomb, all shrapnel and fire and incandescent rage, even he is afraid to follow where she goes.

Sometimes, she wonders, if he had just said something then–years in the future for him, but ages in the past for her–if he had warned her away, would anything have changed?

All these what ifs, more heady and seductive with the growing power in her palm, like coins rattling in a jar, or gleaming at the bottom of a fountain. What if she could just pluck them up and hold them to the sun and wish?

How much more does she need? What is the quota? Or maybe, she thinks, there is none. There is no mystical, mysterious finish line that she needs to cross. There is no time card to punch out, no hours to dock, no sick days or annual bonuses. Seasons barely mean anything to her, she doesn’t know when her last birthday was. She’s beginning to forget what her family looked like.

No wonder Bastian was so mad when they first met: she’s finally on her way to joining him.

Counterclockwise (2016-06-05)

Her first words from him were “I loved you.”

His, from her, were “Give me back my watch.”

These instances were millennia apart.

So the miscommunication in their relationship? Completely understandable.

Counterclockwise (the Analogue Not Digital remix)

Or, Bastian’s side of the story.

Alternatively, one person’s sci-fi mystery is another person’s romantic drama.

When two leaders collaborate, inevitably they will clash. Whether that leads to a splintered alliance or an adjusted hierarchy depends:

Mostly, on how desperately they need each other.

A king may have an army, but armies need a general.

It’s a tenuous balance between legend and loyalty, between royalty and history, His Majesty and Boss. But the twins make it work.

“Pick your battles wisely,” the doctor had said, advice as enigmatic and inapplicable as ever.

But she had meant it with good intentions; a warning too far out of time, like the fossils of sea creatures in ancient deserts. Shapes without names.

Under the blanket, curled in a corner, she sits. Waiting for sleep to befall her. The sun shines bright as her eyelids weigh down.

She has travelled three days–two hundred years–without rest.

“You don’t even know me,” she says, but she does not leave and surely that must mean something.

“I know enough,” he responds. I know more about you than I do anyone or anything else in the world, he doesn’t say.

Of the six times she watched her father die, she only spoke to him twice. Her third go around of this tragedy she had appeared only a block away and ran as fast as she could to the intersection of Orchard and Burgundy.

He spotted her, and maybe even seemed to recognize her; his teenaged daughter suddenly a decade older, screaming at him to get down.

It’s not until the sixth time does she realize he was looking beyond that.

“I’ll take that army now,” Bastian says, grin wide, eyes wild–eager to begin again.

“Patience,” Maroon chides, even as she begins contacting the members of her crew. “You can’t rush perfection.”

~

A/N: So I actually haven’t slept in… a while. I dunno why? Actually, no, I do know why–I’m being preemptively nervous about a job interview I have on Tuesday and I figured better to be loopy on lack of sleep during the weekend than during my interview. So here’s some Counterclockwise stuff…

Word Prompts (S87): Stay

A/N: I wanted to work on some DoS fic, but writer’s block 😡 so here’s some word prompt fic to help me work through it.

~

“Honestly, I don’t really care,” she says, voice so bland and face so blank, that it can’t be anything but the truth.

He laughs. At her fearlessness–not courage, no, for that would require fear to be brave–at her lack of emotion, her emptiness. It’d be infuriating if it weren’t also beautiful.

“They won’t be able save you,” he warns, futilely, because he knows it won’t affect her.

Maroon shrugs, or does her best approximation of one as she can while her hands are tied together behind the back of her chair.

“I don’t need them to.”

Again, Bastian laughs; his shoulders shaking uncomfortably against his own bindings.

Here’s the thing: both of them were aiming at someone else, went at each other for being in the cross hairs, and in their distraction were both arrested.

“Who were you going for?” Bastian asks, because there’s not much else to do but talk to a fellow prisoner.

Or ignore them. Maroon stays silent.

“I’ll show you mine,” he adds for incentive.

She scoffs, “Everyone knows who yours is,” Maroon says, and she’s not wrong. While Bastian’s motivations have always been a mystery to the people of this age, his goals have always been straightforward.

“Poor girl,” Maroon continues, blunt but sincere, “Having a mad dog on her trail.”

Bastian snarls, heedless of the obvious, immediate connection, “Leanne doesn’t need your pity.”

Maroon smirks, the first hint of an expression on her face, “Do you?”

At about two thirty in the morning, the cameras aimed at the precinct’s holding cells stutter briefly before beginning a fifteen minute loop. A high pitched whistle is the only warning either of them get before, with a boom, the outside wall of Bastian’s cell suddenly ceases to be.

“Took you long enough,” Maroon calls out, standing up from her cot.

Bastian, confused and shaken out of his slumber, nonetheless prepares himself for a fight.

“Sorry, boss,” a young woman’s voice calls back, before someone–two someones, identical someones–step in through the massive hole, “We had to shake Thunderbolt–she’s always been tenacious.”

Bastian processes the scene. “I thought you said you wouldn’t need them to save you,” he shoots at his fellow prisoner, unimpressed.

In response, somehow, impossibly, Maroon steps through the bars of her cell then his, as if she were nothing more than just a hologram. Which is, grudgingly, impressive.

“I don’t,” she says simply, before gesturing at him, then the twins, “They’re here to save you.”

“Your Majesty,” the twins say in unison, before bowing.

He laughs.

Word Prompts (D30): Distance

In a blank, empty room, Bastian sits.

His arms bound together, his legs tied to the chair. He waits. The fluorescent lights fading him out to a pale mirage.

On the other side of the observation glass, the team watches him. Most of the team, anyway. One of their number is conspicuously missing.

“Where is she?” Bastian calls out, even though he’s not supposed to be able to sense them through the soundproof walls.

Or maybe he can’t and is just talking to himself.

Either way, it’s unnerving.

“Where is she?” he repeats, louder, beginning to shift in his bindings–slowly, calmly, as if testing the strength of it.

Henry glances at his stepbrother, not quite worried, but seeking confirmation.

“It’ll hold,” Caleb says, “I can’t even get out of those.”

“I can’t fry them, either,” Tetsuki adds, because with the kind of stunts they’ve seen Bastian pull off, that’s not something they can entirely discount.

“Where is she?” Bastian asks again, words stretching out, syllables liquid and lazy and patient.

“Shouldn’t she be here?” Hari asks from the corner of the room he’s staked out for his own, back jammed against the wall. Of the four of them, Bastian has hurt him the most–all of Goldheart’s attacks close range and physical.

“No,” Starling answers, briefly and simply, and the rest of the team falls in line.

Until, suddenly, Bastian’s head tilts to the side, listening to an imaginary noise. His mouth stretches into a smile.

“Leanne!”

The team startles, but Henry always has to be two steps ahead, doesn’t have the luxury of being startled, “Goldheart, Thunderbolt, go out there–if she’s here, take her away. Find out why she’s come, who tipped her off. She should still be at Doctor Kaiza’s now. And send some uniforms in here. Zenith, with me. We’re escorting him back to his cell.”

Hari and Tetsuki move to leave, soldiers following orders; Caleb steps back and to the side instinctively to guard Henry’s flank.

“Leanne!” Bastian calls out again, energized. Eager.

“And make sure they bring a muzzle!” Henry shouts after them, before turning to his stepbrother. In the space between them, he says, ever so quietly, worried and confused, “What is she doing here? She shouldn’t be here.”

Bastian may have hurt Goldheart most often, but the one he’s hurt the worst?

It’s always been Leanne.

Three Sentence Fic, the Grab Bag edition (2016-04-05)

A/N: Just a bunch of three sentence ficlets that my brain didn’t want to elaborate on…

~

It just didn’t seem fair, that he had loved so much, had lost so much, and didn’t even get to keep a trace of them. No scars on his skin, or trinkets to be carried around.

Just him and his ever fading memories.

“Not everyone gets second chances,” she says, hands fisted at her side, knuckles pale from the strength of it. She doesn’t want to fight, but it needs to be said:

“Sometimes, we don’t even get a first chance.”

Uzushio developed sustainable peace decades before the rest of the world did. There is danger in being the first.

They suffered the consequences for it.

Their son would never be king, regardless of his heritage. But he would be loved and, if nothing else, be kept safe.

Or at least, that’s what they had planned.

Sometimes she wants to shut her eyes, ignore Ryuk’s gravelly laughter, Light’s polite inanities, and L’s monotonous stream of conscious. She wishes she were anywhere else but here.

She can almost imagine the clicking of stones against wood.

“I wasn’t trained for this,” Starling says, brows furrowed above the line of his mask. Caleb looks away from the seething crowd of monsters thirty stories below them to his stepbrother, and stifles a laugh.

“I don’t think any of us were trained for this.”

Leanne wakes up with pain in her shoulders; one, due to a stab wound wrapped and recovering, the other stretched awkwardly with a set of handcuffs around her wrist to the bed. She smiles obnoxiously at Officer Sheridan and asks:

“What’s my safe word?”

Be brave, he thinks, stepping into the light, remembering the dragon’s words. All you need to succeed is imagination and courage.

He leaves the shadows and tries to remember what he is outside of dreams.

~

A/N: I don’t know if I want to tag all the things that these are from? I will for the ones explicitly stated but otherwise… guess that fic?

Untitled (2016-04-04)

On the day of her brother’s wedding, Joy falls in love.

It is the second worst thing to happen to the Guerrero family.

Normally, Simon would be very supportive of his older sister having any positive emotions for anyone other than himself and maybe their neighbors the Bakers who ply his sister with free sugar and caffeine on a near daily basis. Frankly, it’s not even the fact that it’s his wedding that is the problem–Simon is not so selfish that he demands the entire day be about him and his fiancé/husband–it’s the who that is the problem.

Because it’s one thing for Simon to keep secrets from his vigilante husband about the real identity of the criminal Jaguar. It’s another thing entirely to not tell his sister that she’s fallen in love with a different vigilante Apex. Who himself is engaged to yet another vigilante Firefly.

This can not end well for his sister.

“Fly straight, fly true,” Bastian murmurs, before pulling the trigger. It is not quite the same–the differences in technology, between bullets and arrows–and he’s not actually invoking any magic. But it is a habit, or maybe a superstition, and the bullet does its job.

Bastian doesn’t know what the man did to get a hit called out on him, but easy money is easy money. And even though Bastian can never die, he’d still prefer not to starve.

Once, he was the prince of the most powerful kingdom in the world. But that was thousands of years ago: times change, the mighty fall.

Bastian stays put for two minutes more, waiting even though alarms and sirens sound off. Sometimes, when he does something she wouldn’t approve of, Leanne appears. But she does not this time, and so he flees just seconds before the heroes of the era happen upon his vantage point.

His kingdom is not the only one who has fallen.

It’s strange growing up knowing that you are only the middle man. That you were born for that exact purpose.

It’s not that his parents don’t love him, not like he can’t live his own life. It’s just that, at some point in the future, he’s going to have a daughter and he’s going to give her the pocket watch that allows her to travel through time.

He met her once already, when he was just a child: a green haired woman who had looked at him and started crying with a wobbling smile. His parents had been alarmed, catching on and fearing the worst, but she had stayed silent on the matter, hugged them all farewell, and disappeared.

It’s not that he’s not worried about what that kind of reaction might mean for his future–but there’s also some good in it. He’ll have a daughter that will love him enough to cry for him; everything else he’s free to choose.

~

A/N: So this is about a decade before Leanne is born. Just some snippets from the same universe, some world-building, I guess…

Counterclockwise (2016-03-23)

In a different life, maybe this would be easier. Maybe she wouldn’t have to ignore his crimes and maybe he would forgive her frequent departures. Maybe they wouldn’t be so hurt, their relationship a double edged blade.

But in a different life, they likely would never have met. Him dead millennia before she is born, no cursed pocket watch bridging the gap in between.

“I do love you,” she says as a sigh, as a confession, before pressing a soft kiss to the corner of his mouth. His face, cradled between her hands, goes where she leads. Pliant in a way he himself is not.

“I have always loved you,” he says back, breathing against her cheek, “You would have been my princess.”

Leanne can’t help the laugh tearing out of her throat, “You were a brat, then, I highly doubt that.”

Bastian jerks, dislodging from her hold; the fragile peace surrounding the moment shattered into dangerous shards. Accusingly, he asks, “You were that far back?”

“Once,” she says, pulling away, resigned to telling this story, “just once.”

She had only been then for a few hours, a sudden stumble that sent her further back than she’d ever been before. So far back, in fact, that she had no idea what was going on.

A palace and people in strange clothes speaking a language so far removed from what she she could understand, all staring at her sudden appearance.

Until a set of guards tackled her to the ground. She was lucky she didn’t break a rib under the weight of four armored soldiers. As it was, she did hit her head against the marble and black out immediately.

During his lonelier, more lucid moments, Bastian thinks about possibilities. About the past. About how, if he weren’t cursed to live on, he would have died alongside his family.

He thinks maybe there would have been honor in that. To have fallen and been preserved in that moment as a prince.

Better than languishing and festering into whatever he’s become.

But Leanne loves him, even if she doesn’t always like him, and that’s not something he could ever regret.

She woke up in what may have been a infirmary of sorts, though it was unlike the hospitals she knew. If anything, it looked like a high end spa. Open and airy, beds lined up like lounge chairs beside a pool.

The doctor, upon seeing her awake, said something to her, but she still did not understand and didn’t care to. Not when she couldn’t find her watch.

“Where is it?” she asks, a twisting barbed wire of confusion and panic wrapping around her heart, “Where is my watch?”

Since inheriting it from her father, since it claimed her as its own, Leanne has never been separated from her pocket watch.

She doesn’t know what will happen if she’s not holding it when it triggers: if it won’t activate without her there, or if it will simply leave her behind. Or if, somehow, the physical watch no longer means anything, if all along the source of the time traveling has been her.

The thought is too horrific to be true. She needs her watch back now.

Bastian is the oldest human in existence. He’s met beings who are older–creatures that various mythologies would describe as spirits or angels or gods–but they are inhuman despite their appearances. They do not count.

Bastian also has had the honor of meeting Doctor Kaiza, had the pleasure of laughing at her paltry two centuries of extended life. He’s seen ten times that and will likely see another. He has yet to meet Doctor Kaiza’s counterpart, the estranged Professor Greyson, but it’s only a matter of time. Even their brief existences are better than the mayfly lives of normal humans.

He’s a hypocrite, of course, because what is Leanne but a mere blink of an eye in comparison to him. No matter how frequently she pops in and out of his life, she will only last a short while. But god, he loves her so much.

Even with a possible concussion and bruised ribs, Leanne could knock out an unprepared doctor and escape an unsecured infirmary. Her team may have been allies with Cadmium PD, but vigilantes were always outlaws. In order to catch criminals they had to be criminals.

And also, Leanne had been practicing her right hook.

The palace was huge and unfamiliar, but the layout was simple enough to guess. And her watch had always had a hold on her, she could feel its call anywhere.

No one was looking for her but given her appearance she’s a fairly obvious outsider. She’d have to be careful otherwise her ribs might actually break.

Onward, onward, her watch called and onward, onward she went. Until she ended up at a wall; luckily, one with a window low enough for her to reach and climb through.

But the climbing ended up not being necessary because the watch came to the window. Or, rather, the watch was brought to the window instead.

The face was smaller than she was used to, hands chubby with baby fat, and when he smiled she saw two gaps where teeth should be. But it was a face she knew, nonetheless, and she couldn’t help a matching–if bewildered–smile.

“Bastian!” She called out, surprised but pleased, “Give me back my watch,” she said with an outstretched hand, ready to catch.

But Bastian didn’t know her, not yet, and besides his name he had no idea what she said. The watch stayed in his hands.

“Bastian!” she called out again, frustrated, and this time he walked away.

A strange woman climbing into the window of the prince’s room is a very suspicious thing indeed. Especially when that prince is only six years old.

Leanne is stabbed through the shoulder by a guard, but the commotion startled Bastian into dropping the watch. It’s in her hands before it hit the ground, just in time to disappear.

She better end up somewhen with phenomenal healthcare.

~

A/N: On a bus for eight hours, this is what came out.

Counterclockwise (2016-03-22)

He doesn’t know if the dead are watching him or if people simply cease to be when they die. Depending on his mood, his preference changes. He has a lot of dead to be watched by, after all; that’s what happens when you outlive everyone you love.

Sometimes he finds comfort in it–in imagining his family continuing on even after they’ve passed. Living somehow through him, his unseen shadows. Sometimes it pisses him off. That the dead would dare to haunt him, lingering where they’re not wanted. What right do they have to judge him? He is doing his best to survive a situation they’ve forced on him.

He hopes his father is ridden with guilt and his mother heart broken; he wishes his sister could see the disaster she wrought.

But, other times, he thinks it’d be best if the dead were no longer there.

“Look away,” Bastian says, to those who may not even exist, “Don’t watch,” he warns them before he sets the building on fire. There is no one inside, but it will be big enough that the heroes of the city will be called to help.

He wants to see Leanne again.

“Let me go.”

She doesn’t attend her brother’s wedding intentionally, but it is a good accident; one she wishes she had more of.

Her watch spits her out in a time that feels almost familiar to her. Close to when she would be if time travel never existed, but not exact enough for her to feel equilibrium. If she were ten years older, this would be perfect.

A church, decorated in white, flowers lining every door and stair rail. Too cold to be Easter, though, not festive enough for Christmas. Her guess is confirmed when a woman in a pantsuit and headset spots her and immediately begins rattling off details about seating arrangements and ushers.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Leanne says, if only to stop the flood of words.

The wedding planner, for surely that is who this woman is, blinks then startles. Then smiles, wide and fake, “My apologies, I thought you were the maid of honor. You must be one of the out of town cousins–you’re a few hours early.”

“Sorry,” Leanne says with a smile of her own, “I’m absolutely terrible with time zones.”

“Not a problem,” the wedding planner says, unaware of how much a problem it really is, “We can let you into the church early, if you don’t mind waiting. Family is always welcome.”

This, at least, Leanne hopes is true.

The decorations continue even inside the church, a trail of white flowers leading the way. The pots are discretely hidden away, and it occurs to her that maybe all of these flowers are still alive.

Well, if it’s Victor getting married, that makes sense. He’d never want cut flowers.

Leanne hears the susurration of voices down the hall–maybe the wedding party getting ready–she walks the other way. She’s not ready to meet her siblings again, or worse, meet someone who doesn’t know she’s their sister. If she doesn’t talk to anyone else, then she can be an observer still–a ghost in her own life.

When other guests begin to trickle in, Leanne takes a seat in the back. It puts her in the perfect spot to see the groom. The other groom.

“Caleb?”

Bastian has never met anyone with time powers before Leanne. She is the first and somehow, despite herself, the best.

As the years slip by, Bastian meets other time travelers. Including that absolute waste of atoms Sheridan, but none of them are like Leanne.

He is biased yes, but that doesn’t mean he’s wrong. Whatever is behind Leanne’s ability, the source of power behind that damned finicky pocket watch, it’s much stronger than whatever the other time travelers are using. It’s almost as if they need a constant power source to exist in a different time, whereas Leanne simply steps between eras.

Maybe one day Bastian will ask a time traveler about the mechanics–though they all seem wary of him. He knows they are from the future, he wonders what kind of reputation he has then.

No matter, he’ll live to hear it himself.

~

A/N: still some family things but I actually got to sleep last night so I’m not dying. Still only have access to my phone but also wifi so good news bad news and all that.

Just wanted to know who this Bastian character is!

You want to know who Bastian is?

O_O

… (oh my god, I am so pleased by this ask) 

Bastian is one of my many OCs that I actually created many years ago but never used frequently. Originally, he wasn’t even supposed to be in Leanne Peridot’s story–he was meant to be an antagonist for another character entirely–much less such a recurring/prevalent part of her story and not even solely antagonist at that. But it’s one of those things where as a writer you’re less like god playing with dolls and more like an anthropologist observing whatever the heck your characters are doing.

In this case, it kind of made sense since Leanne Peridot is my inept vigilante/time traveler and Bastian is my… “guy who is accidentally cursed with immortality because the magicians trying to save his life messed up very badly” is kind of unwieldy to say. I only have maybe a few other “immortal” characters and none of them would put up with his particular brand of bullshit, so…

The basis of their relationship is that they’re both each other’s most constant thing in the world. But it’s a poor choice to make a person your foundation, especially when you don’t even experience time in the same direction. And I also liked the idea that her constantly leaving him (not intentionally) because of time travel would also add to his increasing madness.

It’s harder for me to ramble about Original Characters because even though I really want to, another part of me is thinking that, hey, maybe I’ll write this character’s story some day so I shouldn’t spoil it quite yet.

But it is wonderfully flattering for anyone to take interest in my original fic (though I do, obviously, enjoy writing fanfic). I am still smiling and blushing like an absolute dork.