Word Prompts (K5): Kiss

Edmundo leans back, away from their kiss. It is reluctant, yes, but still a retreat. Their faces are still close enough that they can share breaths, but the distance means no contact. No heat.

“You’re one of those heroes now,” he says in the scant space between them, near to a whisper, though it’s hardly needed. Beyond the thin walls of the office space, the garage is in operation, the sounds of machines and their mechanics echoing back and forth.

She shrugs in response, tips her hand back and forth. Hero-adjacent would be a pithy, but accurate, response; she’s just not sure it would come out right.

“It’s different than what you were doing before,” he says, leaning even further back which isn’t what she wants at all! But he takes her hands in his and that’s an okay consolation prize, she supposes. “Protecting your block from pendejos is one thing, but you’re on the news now. You’re in bright spandex and everything.”

She crinkles her nose in protest: she doesn’t wear spandex. She just wears normal clothes. It’s not her fault her powers manifests as flowing green lights.

“No, no, you’re right. I’m getting off track,” he says, smoothing his thumbs over the back of her hands. It’s rough and a patch of black smears across her skin, but it’s warm. She likes it.

From the way she thinks this conversation is going, she’s going to miss it.

“You’ll always have a home here,” Edmundo says, and when he leans in, he presses his forehead to hers in a deliberately chaste way, “But you’re outgrowing us, and I can’t keep you chained down.”

She can’t say he’s wrong.

She doesn’t try to kiss him again–they’ve already had their final goodbye kiss, even if she didn’t know it for what it was at the time. But if she tightens her return grip, hoping to press the shape of her hands into his, well. He doesn’t say anything about that, at least.

She kisses Maya because she loves her and, also, Tetsuki might very well never see her again–either because they will be separated on opposite sides of an inter planar barrier or Tetsuki will be dead.

Maya kisses back because she loves Tetsuki, too… but perhaps isn’t sure in what way she loves Tetsuki and thinks that kissing might help her figure it out. And also because, even though Tetsuki isn’t saying it out loud, Maya is more than aware that her best friend may very well die and she doesn’t want to be a last regret in any way.

It is a lot of emotions and concepts for their first, hesitant kiss to convey.

Luckily, it is not also a last and only kiss, and they greatly improve their communication via kisses in the future.

There is no kissing between them. For many reasons, really.

Mainly because intimacy and vulnerability are not luxuries either of them can afford.

Tetsuki has been experimenting with wearing hound-snake venom atop wax coated lips. Azula can literally breathe fire.

And depending on which timeline they’re in, they may be trying to kill each other.

So, no. No kissing for them.

The first kiss of Team Two actually happens between Naruto and Komadori.

Tetsuki does’t understand what’s so embarrassing about it but, then again, as mentioned, she wasn’t actually involved so…

She promises to talk about that mission only once a year at most.

Tetsuki is dripping with river water, mildly concussed, and high off the wave of endorphins that is surviving an apocalyptic, dystopian future when she kisses Kusakabe-senpai for the first time.

Unsurprisingly, this doesn’t scare him off.

~

A/N: A sort of reverse tag of this ficlet.

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Word Prompts (W8): Warmth

She began cold, drawing blankets and coats to herself, scarves and spare scraps of cloth tucked into any openings left. She began cold, in a stone cave damp and miserable, the night air harsh and haunting.

She began cold, waiting to heal enough to move–though whether she meant to retreat or proceed, survival by cowardice or honor in action, she could not decide. Could barely consider, really, as she was mourning and in shock and scavenging through the caravan for anything that might help.

She began cold and woke up on fire, feverish and burning alive. No doubt cooking herself by accident, a horrific death on an already horrible day. Her muscles could barely move, she had nested too well, and it took her an excruciating while before she could claw her way out, press her face to the now soothing stone of the cave, lip idly at the trickles of water, cool and sweet.

It took her another half day to find an equilibrium, head muddled as it was, protected but not roasting, and another slow, plodding two days after that to gather and prioritize supplies for a lone girl miles and miles from the nearest civilization.

She does not know what fate may befall her ahead, only that to remain here would be certain death.

“Shh, shh, it will all be okay” she murmurs, hushing soothing sounds, clutching the both of them to her sides. She tries to be confident, to put up a brave front so that her cousins do not catch on, but there is no concealing the trembling of her arms, the hitching of her breath.

They are braver than her, it seems, for they do not respond with anything but solemn nods and a tighter embraces.

Outside their chosen hiding place, the hound paces, its snout peeking in and sniffing deeply. It barks to its fellows, the harsh sound echoed in multiple, the percussion of horse hoofbeats and the voices of men following all the more fearsome.

“Shh, shh,” she can only dumbly repeated, her voice cracking and tears beginning to fall.

“Can we pray to the Moon Mother?” asks Takay, sweet and petal soft.

“Of course,” she replies, as steadily as she can. It might be little comfort at the end of their lives, but for such a gruesome demise as this, surely any comfort is worth it.

Bulan, silent but no less sweet on her other side, helps her shaking hands reach for her beads.

“Moon Mother,” she begins, her cousins parroting the prayer as best as they can remember, “Who watches over us in the sky, casting light upon our dark nights. We pray to thee.”

There are now multiple hounds sniffing at the crevasse, barking madly with bloodlust.

“Moon Mother,” she continues, even as Takay and Bulan cannot, their faces shoved into her ribs, seeking whatever cover or comfort she has left to give, “Who sits amongst the stars, guiding us forever forward to our peace. We pray to–”

A high pitched yelp interrupts the chorus of barking outside, and soon the hounds sound less enraged and more confused. Scared.

She realizes that the hoofbeats and sounds of men have not come any closer. Have ceased entirely. Another high pitched yelp and soon the dogs are retreating, no longer harrying the opening of their hiding place.

Soon after, the forest is deafening in its silence.

Takay and Bulan pull away from her. Their hands still cling to her clothes, but they lean forward now, curiosity outweighing their fear.

A single boot steps into the visible triangle of the forest that they can see. Filthy and worn, but hardy it seems. Beside it drops the end of a staff, which taps twice against their hiding spot.

“I will not stay,” says the figure who has saved them, the voice gruff with what might be disuse. Their savior crouches down, body swathed and obscured by fabric, but unmistakeable as a human woman. “But you are safe for now.”

Word Prompts (M30): Mother

Your mom’s snores sound through the one room apartment you share, a familiar if somewhat irritating lullaby.

This summer has been not only hot but humid, oppressive and thick on your lungs. You’ve left the windows open–no fear seven stories up–but there is not even the slightest of breezes to alleviate the misery. Instead, the smell of weed and urine waft your way, and your nose wrinkles in disgust.

You’re writing an essay about a man long dead and cannot comprehend why this could possibly matter to your future.

Your goals are not so lofty or beautiful as to be considered dreams, but you one day want to have a stable, comfortable life. One satisfactory enough to share with your mom, one to show her how grateful you are and how much you love her. One in which she would be proud of you–and maybe a place with separate bedrooms and soundproofed walls.

Looking back, you realize that they were dreams: small and intimate, but still yours.

Now they’re as useless as that essay of a man long dead.

///

There’s a trick, you realize, to speaking to your aunt and it is, simply, this: make sure your victory is also hers.

There is no winning an argument against her, she’s a DA by nature and by trade–though the letters stand for different things entirely–but she is witty and sharp and, in this strange existence your father has doomed you to, fun in a reckless sort of way.

She is, oddly enough, the most stable thing in your life right now and you appreciate it. Being a teenager is already tough without throwing in existential crises on death and the afterlife and religious, supernatural heritages.

Last year, your biggest concern was whether or not you had enough lunch money for the week.

This year it’s trying to figure out what massacre will happen and if you can possibly prevent it.

Probably not–you’ve tried before, is the thing, and have yet to succeed–but maybe fate is exactly like your aunt.

You don’t need to overpower fate, you just need to outmaneuver it.

Word Prompts (R17): Rejection

It takes about three weeks to realize that this situation isn’t sustainable.

The draw of your psychopomp responsibilities take you out at all hours, sleep and homework and even school be damned. Your sporadic attendance isn’t favorably looked upon, even if you weren’t constantly dozing during classes and just a step off from the perfect student ideal.

Your cousin’s forehead is nearly constantly furrowed–confusion or frustration, you’re not sure which–and while your aunt could not be more pleased with your shiny new renegade reputation, that’s not exactly a vote of confidence.

You have detention for the next four months–not that you’ll be going to them, afternoon is apparently a very popular time for dying in this town–but still, it’s the principle of the matter.

Something’s gotta give. You’re afraid that something will end up being you.

///

A fire.

That’s what killed you. You, your mom, and almost two dozen other residents of the Montenegro apartment complex.

Faulty wiring, a particularly dry season, and exposed insulation going up like kindling. Fire escapes not up to code, people taking the batteries out of their smoke detectors, and no extinguishers to be seen.

The news reported it as an accident: a horrific, compounding accident.

When your father brings you back from the dead, he informs you that is false.

///

You don’t actually care, is the thing: you wonder if this has something to do with dying once, or if its the newly disclosed other half of your heritage.

Psychopomps can’t afford to care. Emotions mean attachments, attachments mean mistakes, mistakes mean the difference between life and death.

There are other kinds of attachments.

You can’t get rid of all of them.

Word Prompts (J7): Joy

“So angry,” Allen says with his easy, genial smile, a softer version for so early in the morning. He’s fond of her and her brother, still thinks of them as the orphan kids who asked to live in the room above his bakery years and years ago.

“A coffee and pastry would help with that,” she responds, grumpy, but with far less bite than she would with most anyone else.

She’s pretty fond of him, too.

Allen shakes his head, tuts at her; the flour in his hair blends in with the patches of gray and white. He still thinks of her as a kid, but she also sometimes forgets how old he really is.

“You need sleep, not caffeine and sugar. And I need to bake today’s bread, not babysit a brat. Upstairs with you now, your brother’s waiting.”

It’s not Allen’s fault that’s a lie.

///

She hears it a lot–

You don’t look very happy.

Or,

Shouldn’t you smile more, then?

Or, even,

Your parents were pretty wrong about that.

–the last one usually causes her to lash out, parents are a touchy subject for good reason, but it’s not exactly inaccurate.

There’s not a lot in her life that matches her name.

///

The world has gotten a lot stranger in the past year or so. Or perhaps it’s always been strange and only now she’s beginning to notice, only now it’s beginning to resurge.

Regardless, she prides herself on being the best; on being so skilled that rumors whisper maybe something is strange about her, too.

It’s sheer competence, mostly, with some engineering and parkour of course. And luck, she’d grudgingly admit.

Still, she makes a name for herself, one much larger than herself, and for a while she thinks that’s enough.

One night she runs into a man who can turn into a literal wolf.

Luck isn’t enough.

///

She always loves the wrong people.

People who will leave her–whether they want to or not. People who would rather see her in jail than free. People who could never make her happy.

When she meets Ann, she thinks this time will be the exception.

And for a while, it is.

Just a little while.

Ann doesn’t mean to leave her, doesn’t want to leave her, but leave she does.

(A decade later, Joy will realize that even if Ann had stayed it wouldn’t have worked. Normal people falling in love with gods rarely ends happily)

~

A/N: I realize, terribly belatedly, that I should have saved all of my (_7) Word Prompts for some kind of DoS Lucky Sevens thing… because there are a few golden ones (like, N7 Ninja or T7 Teamwork or E7 Emotion or even S7 Sand for a nice Wind Country visit)

Ah well. And, I mean, some of the letters don’t even have seven words so…

In other news: I swear, every time I write something I learn something new about the Cadmium/Counterclockwise ‘verse… Joy and Leanne? Honestly did not see that one coming.

Word Prompts (D7): Dealing

There’s a card on your window when you wake up in the morning, eight pointed star and smaller, repeating fractals in alternating black and white and silver.

The scariest thing isn’t that you recognize the symbol–though it’s been years since you’ve seen it–but that the card is on your window.

On the inside of your window.

They were inside your house.

They’ve found you.

///

When you were younger, you were praised for being powerful, for being smart, for being charming.

“You’d be a wonderful spell caster,” your mother said.

“What about a summoner?” your aunt offered instead.

“Healers are always in high demand and greatly regarded,” your grandmother added, and you nodded in agreement.

You could have been anything, but you chose to be a diviner.

You chose wrong.

///

As the abilities of individual witches grew–tied to the earth or bloodlines or other tangible, reachable things–beliefs changed.

Religion became superstition became silly old bedtime stories.

The gods were forgotten and the divine faded from memory.

Or so the public thinks.

///

You can’t hide from them forever.

You never thought you could.

Word Prompts (M7): Mask

“Do. Not. Move,” she seethes, words hissed out between clenched teeth. “I will tear out your throat,” she warns.

Foolishly, he twitches. Immediately, he jerks back and freezes.

She narrows her eyes at him, suspicious, but after a few beats more of motionless, she turns away.

The boarded up cave mouth has three peepholes and the aliens are coming. She watches and waits.

///

Her first instinct upon being faced with alien invaders was to cover herself in blood and hide in the massive freezer in the back.

Not really the best move considering her cute and summery outfit, but she only barely got hypothermia, so she’s fine.

Now she wears borrowed trousers and a stolen bomber jacket, pockets filled with extra ammo, a grenade, and the bits and pieces of alien technology she’s scavenged off the few invaders they’ve managed to kill.

Phone lines have been down for days.

She hasn’t heard from her family in longer than that.

///

The mini cooper convertible is tiny and bright red, completely impractical and absolutely silly. It has an unnecessary racing stripe and a stuffed panda toy hanging from the rearview mirror.

It’s such a spot of ludicrous normality, so out of place at the end of the world, that she can’t help but laugh. Loud and bright and full of unsaid worries.

The tank is full, the keys are in the ignition, and it reminds her of being a teenager and pulling reckless tricks in the school parking lot that she does a donut for the hell of it.

When a scouting party lands, they run over three aliens together before speeding headlong into the bay.

She keeps the panda toy for months after.

///

Becoming a captain of The Resistance was mostly accidental.