Untitled (2018-02-01)

Take a human soul–give it the ability to understand non-linear, infinite time. Give it a goal to obsess over. Give it a challenge, give it a would-be-martyr, give it the opportunity to ruin its own odds.

Give it just the right amount of rage, a smidgeon too much of desperation, and a faint smattering of honest affection.

Then say it failed.

Then watch it grow.

Now multiply it by three.

Some demons used to be human.

But not all of them.

The woman in the sharp suit and perfectly coiffed red hair sits amongst the worst criminals of the region in a complete state of calm.

She meets Venediktov’s eye and drains the entire teacup offered to her before rudely setting it upside down on the table. Of course, it’s not as rude as trying to poison a guest in the first place, so no one calls her out on it.

“My client was reluctant to have me come here,” she begins, letting the upper echelons of the bratva settle themselves. “Not out of any fear for my safety,” she continues, not glancing at the teacup whatsoever, “but because she is, despite herself, a good person.

"I do this not out of any duty or obligation, not for money or revenge. I do this because there is so rarely a time when I can help my client, and frankly I think this will be a satisfying experience…

"For me, that is,” she clarifies, when it looks like some of her audience has misunderstood her, relief trickling onto their faces before she bats it away.

“Frankly, Venediktov, it may be kinder to just kill your son yourself,” she says which riles the group up once more. There are protests and threats–the harsh scrape of chairs against the floor–but none from the leader who sits and listen. How smart. Well, he didn’t get to his position by being stupid.

“But I also understand what it’s like to have a child. Isn’t it terrible when they throw themselves into danger?”

She does not say: you should have kept an eye on your son. You should have had a firmer hand. His transgressions will cost him greatly, he will wish he had died instead of suffer the punishment I have in mind

What she does say is, simply, “Four tattoos.”

Some of the bratva laugh, scornful–tattoos are part and parcel of their life, there is no punishment in needles and ink–but still Venediktov remains silent.

“Your son fancies himself a handsome man. One here,” she lists, gesturing in a curve around her eye, “and here,” this time from cheek to cheek along her chin, “around his wrist,” she says with a graceful, if lazy rotation of her own, “and around his ankle,” she concludes, tapping the heel of her shoe against the ground in a sharp, punctuating knock.

Venediktov closes his eyes and turns away.

“So you are aware of what this means for your son’s fate,” Nyx smiles, before placing a simple business card on the table next to that overturned teacup. She stands.

“You have three days to make your decision.”

Untitled (2016-11-15)

A/N: Related to this ficlet.

~

Her squad is a bunch of dumb boys who almost never follow orders and barely scrape out mission successes through sheer luck.

Like captain, like squad, she guesses.

///

Ryan’s their sniper. Long and skinny and as active as a sloth. He can wait for hours–days, once, in Nevada–in his roost in anticipation for the perfect shot. 

Once, she spent a afternoon convinced she was alone in their headquarters only to prove herself wrong when she sat on the couch and spotted Ryan under their makeshift coffee table painting a still life of shoes and empty bullet casings.

He never misses a shot.

///

Peter is the youngest; a walking encyclopedia and social disaster, both.

Before they figured out the latter, they tried to use his baby face on a diplomatic mission–The Resistance isn’t the only organization of survivors, but they are, probably, the most effective–needless to say, his vivid blushing and stammered, incoherent pick up lines on the commander were less than appreciated.

Still, there’s no one better for obscure historical facts, navigation, and matching up what little excess supplies they have with what other people inexplicably want.

He’s still their dumb hamster child, though.

///

Vinny is her second in command.

She can trust him to get the job done if she sends him off on his own and if she has him go off with one of the others as a leaner, stealthier fire-team then, well, she knows they’ll both come back to her alive.

He has a somewhat worrying preference for eyeball stabbing and a frustrating tendency to hoard guns, but given the current environment she figures neither of them are entirely bad things.

///

Chuck, their general, is a man with gray in his hair, sharp blue eyes, and a photograph which he always carries but never looks at.

Once, when he was transferring it from pocket to pocket, she caught a glimpse of it: a pair of kids, a smiling round-faced woman, and a man right beside her who might very well have been her superior officer in a kinder, happier world.

///

Nate has surprisingly zero qualms about following the orders of a woman less than half his age.

Most other members of The Resistance attribute that to a lack of… spine… but she knows better: he was a well decorated vet before the aliens invaded, served three tours on the same ship as Chuck before they both got promoted up and away.

By rights, he ought to be running The Resistance alongside Chuck or, at the very least, his own squad.

But she thinks he likes not having that much responsibility.

He would rather fix radios and poke at the sleeping behemoth that was once the internet–occasionally making sure the bunch of reckless children around him have the equipment they need before they run off to pull off even more reckless stunts–than have such a large part in the fate of humanity.

///

Anton is her least favorite, which seems like such a petty, childish thing to say at the end of the world.

He’s part of her squad, so of course she’ll treat him the same as the others, but still. She’s not very fond of him.

It’s not as if he’s an awful person: he’s nice and smart and genuine–and under duress she’d admit his face is maybe aesthetically on point–but everytime he smiles at her, or tries to talk to her outside missions, she tenses up and runs away.

One time she even let Peter ramble on about his grandfather’s coin collection for three hours just so she could shrug helplessly at Anton from across the room.

He’s a good soldier, competent and sharp–hell, she’ll even say that he’s a good teammate, a good person!

The only issue is that he knows who she used to be.

///

Her squad is a bunch of dumb boys who almost never follow orders and barely scrape out mission successes through sheer luck.

Bizarrely enough, she wouldn’t change them for anyone else.

~

A/N: Ask Box Event is still open, I just had this idea and wanted to write it before I forgot…

Untitled (2017-10-11)

“I was here first,” she says, knuckles turned pale with her tight grip on the door handle. Her back is to you, forehead pressed against the door. You can’t see her face, but her shoulders shudder, once, twice.

“I was here first,” she repeats, “I was here long before you,” she continues.

“Yes,” you respond, “I know.” It’s not like her to make such obvious and repetitive statements–there must be a reason–then again, it’s not like her to cry.

The lock turning makes a heavy thunk; she removes the key a shaking hand.

When she turns around there is only the barest trace of tears on her face. Still, she has never looked more heartbroken.

When she places the key in your hand, her fingers brush against yours, cold to the touch.

“You will devote your life to this place,” she says, less command and more premonition, “you will protect this house, you will give your all, your everything.”

Your hand curls around the key, so tightly that the teeth bite into your skin. You would not be the first Caretaker whose blood has polished the key. It is poignant.

“Yes. I will.”

///

The day of your daughter’s wedding, you reunite with the love of your life.

You are walking her down the aisle, trying not to cry, and perhaps that’s why at first it doesn’t register. Your eyes filled with unshed tears, your attention on your daughter, the setting sun painting everything in soft but blinding light.

You let your daughter go, watch her walk to the man she loves, and take your seat.

It’s a moment of curiosity. Mere coincidence. Your eyes landing on the right spot at the right time.

Or, perhaps the wrong one.

Across the aisle, in the seat corresponding to yours, sits the father of the groom.

The years have changed him, aged him and reshaped him, but you recognize him in a heartbeat. A skipped one.

There he is. The long lost love of your life.

Untitled (2017-09-26)

Give them enough rope to hang themselves.

A cunning, cruel, almost hungry statement. Vindictive. Waiting patiently for the inevitable, bloody comeuppance. A predator in the grass, calmly running down their prey to exhaustion.

Prometheus was punished by the gods for giving humanity fire–light, warmth, intelligence. In the myth he is a hero unjustly punished for his generosity. But what if that’s not the case?

Give them fire, watch them burn.

In a different story, there was another who gave humanity intelligence–or, at least, gave them the idea to seize it for themselves.

A predator in the grass.

A new dawn for humanity.

Light bringer playing the long game.

“Go home!” he shouts, straining and desperate, eyes wide and burning, “Just go home, okay? It’ll all be okay, just go home!”

You stumble backwards, obeying subconsciously but unable to break his gaze. This may be the last time you see him which, if you listen to him and he’s telling the truth, may very well mean that this image is the last memory of him you’ll keep.

You’re not sure if future-you will want to remember him like this, trapped and fighting–losing–and sacrificing himself for your foolish, useless self, but it’d be disrespectful not to take it in while you can.

Forgetting would be worse.

You take another faltering few steps backwards, his shouts have turned into pained screams, his wide eyes no longer seeing you. Only then do you turn and run for your life.

Untitled (2017-09-18)

I miss you, my friend.

And how weird to be saying this now–more than a year after you’ve left, thousands of miles away–more to your shadow than your face.

I guess I thought–I assumed, that is–that you’d be coming back. And you might very well do so, but I never thought there was a possibility that you wouldn’t. That you wouldn’t want to.

Which speaks more of how you’ve changed.

And how I haven’t.

Even if–when, no, if–you come back, what we had, what we might have, will never be the same.

We talk. Or, rather, we message each other. Sporadically.

Part of the reason why I was so thrown off guard.

Over a decade of being each other’s shoulder to cry on, of baring our vulnerabilities to each other, that we’ve fallen into patterns that miss the entire story.

You fell in love–with the land and the people and the work, which you had for months entrusted your… less than stellar opinions on… but the more your grew to love it, the more it made you happy, the less I heard about it.

And so my picture is only half formed, a grueling climb up but no final, breathtaking view at the summit. I saw only your stress and strain and none of the smiles that made it worth it.

I only know the you from a year ago, not who you are now.

Even when you were here, when we were together, we were apart.

Instead of thousands of miles, it was hundreds, and we only saw each other rarely.

But still. That was enough.

Because it was as if, whenever we reunited, the only things that had changed between us were the stories we could tell each other.

And it was enough, every time, to renew our friendship.

I never believed in soulmates, I have more than enough family to spare, but it seemed to me that we matched. Had perhaps formed ourselves to match, subconsciously, as we grew up and learned together.

You’ve grown without me, far far away, and I don’t know if our shapes still correspond.

Perhaps I’m being over dramatic.

I left, too, for a year. Grew into my own–or so people say–though really it just felt like a chance to be a better, brighter me with a deadline if I didn’t like it.

And immediately after I came back, you left, too. Not as long, but much farther, and I know you discovered a version of yourself as well.

But we wrote letters to each other, digital as they were, made time when neither of us had much to see each other’s faces, hear each other’s voices.

But this time… is this what we’re reduced to without our safety net of technology?

I’m being silly, I know.

I’m so happy for you, so proud. So overjoyed that you’ve found yourself even if it’s not a version of you that I’ve met.

But I miss you, and they are not mutually exclusive.

I’m just feeling homesick for you.

Untitled (2017-09-16)

If I don’t say anything–not out loud, not where anyone can hear.

If I don’t write it down–don’t leave proof, no records, no trace.

If I don’t admit it happened, then did it really?

But just asking that means something existed to be asked about. To be willfully forgotten and thrown into the oblivion.

It’s not a big deal, the fuss makes it worse than it is, and yet some part of me still wants it to be buried.

///

It’s stupid. Silly. Not even a second, just the briefest of moments.

God, why am I even still thinking about it? Hours after it happened. Still blushing and running hands through my hair, nervous and coy and bewildered.

Flustered.

He winked at me, mouth curved into a sideways smile.

It was aimed at me. For me, an inside joke for the two of us. Just a small comment given a touch of humor and a delicate layer of secrecy.

It didn’t mean anything.

My heart is still fluttering.

///

Here’s the thing: he’s not the most handsome guy I’ve ever seen.

I’ve seen more classically beautiful men, met far smoother charmers. He’s not even my most handsome friend. He’s just one of the guys who, yes, has very nice eyes and a way of making me laugh.

And, I mean, I’ve thought about it before. When I first joined the group, learning as much as I can about the members as I tried to find a space for myself… he helped with that, it’s true… and I know that, if he has a type, then I’m not far from it.

But still!

It’s been months–over a year–why now?

Why him?

Why me?

///

(You were gone for two weeks, and it both did and didn’t seem so long. Weekends punctuated by hanging out with the guys replaced by keeping track of drunken bachelorettes and high strung actors and slightly ill relatives.

You spotted him, once, driving in the opposite direction–head unconsciously, unwillingly, turning to watch him go by.

You missed them all, of course, through it wasn’t very long.

Maybe you missed him the most.)

~

A/N: I KNOW I SHOULD HAVE BEEN DOING EXTERNALITY! AAAAAHHHHH BUT I DIDN’T HAVE VERY LONG AND ALSO I HAVE TO DO STUFF TOMORROW STARTING IN THE MORNING SO I WON’T HAVE MUCH TIME THEN EITHER. AAAAAAHHHHH

Untitled (2017-09-11)

“What are you doing rummaging around my kitchen like a mouse? Stupid child,” she exhales, shaking her head. Still, she can’t help the small smile that curls the corner of her mouth.

“Just like my father?” the little fool asks, petulant and pouting, not even looking up from the floor. The apple in her hand, a lovely pale pink, is nothing at all like sin.

Nyx rolls her eyes. “No, dear, your father would never be allowed through the door of my house,” her words are harsh, but she tempers it with a gentle hand on her niece’s shoulder. “Now please sit and eat a proper meal. And don’t forget dessert–I pride myself on having a devil’s food cake to die for.”

It’s a terrible pun, both ways in fact, but it makes the girl smile.

///

This is The Best. Year. Ever.

No more homeschooling! Your mom is finally letting you go out to an actual real school with actual real people. You’ll get to meet normal kids and talk about normal things and have a normal life.

Sure, your dog isn’t like other dogs, and your family isn’t like other parents. And you’re not entirely sure how to explain Grimaldo, your mom’s demonic minion, but you’re sure you’ll figure out something.

That’s what school is for, after all, right?

But the best thing is: this is the year you met your cousin. And she’s going to live with you.