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05/08/2023 05:29 PM 

The Laws of ZIM!

Hello, one and all! It's taken me a bit, but I finally got around to it: posting my guidelines for what I'm looking for in any role-player. Everyone does this; it's been this way back in the Myspace days for all those new to the scene. I hope what I'm looking for and asking won't be too much trouble for anyone.   Literacy: I'm a f*** up towards spelling and grammar a lot of the time, despite English being the only language I speak and write. I won't penalize you for screwing up, especially if English isn't your first language. That said, I still need to understand you-constant egregious misspellings are unacceptable. Believe it or not, Google, DuckDuckGo, or whatever search engine you use can be helpful as a spellchecker, in case you don't pay for something like Grammarly or use anything else online. I also don't accept texting abbreviations in role-playing unless the characters are texting in the story.   Time: I have horrendous attention span issues of some variety, and I'm very easily sidetracked. I don't know what causes it, but I also live with pain 24/7, which kills my concentration too. Because of this, I will be slow with replies. So patience is a requirement for me. In turn, I understand everyone who needs to take time to reply . Most people have lives that focus on dealing with work, family, possibly various illnesses, or a combination of all of those! Your life doesn't revolve around role-playing, so don't worry; I understand.  Inappropriate Conduct: I admit I enjoy zussy themes for my interpretation of him with having Zim be intersex, as well as Zim being gay and having the ability to become pregnant. With all that said, I don't like writing about the act itself, if it comes to that. I only do consensual romance too. Anything dealing with mind control or rape is inexcusable and will result in an immediate block! I don't have time to deal with those types of sex pests, and I'll also name and shame you in the hopes of warning others!   General Romance: As previously mentioned, I only play Zim as gay, and he has to be at an alternate universe height, which is at least five feet tall. Anyone who attempts to romance him at his canon size will also receive an immediate block. I will not accept ships with the implications of Zim being underage or with anyone underage. I'd also prefer to have the relationship develop naturally instead of planning since I find that more fun and fulfilling, but we can do that if requested.  OOC Communication: I'm happy to share my RP Discord with others, but my personal one has to be earned through literal years of interaction and if I've built enough trust with you. I don't give out my number or address to others-I'm just not comfortable doing that. I am also most likely never sharing my birth name with anyone. If I ever do that with someone, I have built immense trust in you but don't count on it ever happening. So please, don't ask for any of this information. I don't mind making pals outside of RP and talking about certain aspects of my life. But I won't give you such sensitive information about myself so easily-or ever, depending on the situation. I may update these, but I hope this isn't asking too much of anyone! Thanks to anyone kind enough to go through all this, and I wish you a wonderful day. 

rules, guidelines,

Damian Wayne Jr

05/08/2023 01:47 PM 

Physical Abilities.

Archery: Damian Jr asserted that his training with his father who was trained by the  League of Assassins gave him greater mastery of the bow than even Green Arrow.Artistry: Damian Jr is considered as skilled with a brush as he is with a sword.Business Management: Trained by his in the way of the League of Assassins in controlling a company with an iron grip. Even as a young boy he knows that in business there are wars and even in war there are assassins. Damian is involved with the Wayne Enterprises' board members. He even intimidated the board members by tracking down financial irregularities within the Wayne Enterprises' accounts.Master computer HackingDeception: According to Batman, Robin was a skilled liar.Disguise: Damian has disguised himself as an elderly busdriver and a substitute teacher.Driving: He learned to drive at the age of five.EscapologyFirearmsGenius Level Intellect: Damian has inherited a genius IQ from his father and Grandfather as well as his mother.Indomitable WillIntimidationInvestigation: Damian, having been trained under the "World's Greatest Detective", has been able to deduce people's actions as well as solve mysteries with few amounts of data.Martial Arts: Damian Jr has stated he knows just as many martial arts as Batman and can use them more effectively. This may be a largely overstated comment, but one should not ask for verification. Damian Jr may not be physically tough, but he knows how to control his weight to his advantage in combat. He has stated that he knows, "one thousand ways to kill a man." Damian's training with Batman and the League of Assassins has made him a highly formidable combatant. He is one of the few people capable of fighting on par with Connor Hawke, who is amongst the world's most skilled martial artists.KarateTae Kwon DoNinjitsuMedical ScienceMusic playing of nearly all instruments at a high level. Occultism: Damian Jr knows at a number of magic spell. His mother was his teacher and she taught him and he was an excellent student that excelled in her teachings. Peak Human ConditionPedagogy: He once taught a geology class for a day at Jon Kent's school.Stealth: Damian Jr was able to sneak into Gotham City and furthermore into the Batcave virtually undetected until he felt necessary. Of all the Robins, Damian Jr may be the one that is the most silent.Stick FightingSwordsmanship: On separate occasions his use with his sword, apparently the same sword used by Ra's al Ghul. Although Damian can use his sword and be unmatched with one if armed correctly.Throwing: Damian Jr is trained by the League of Assassins in shuriken throwing and further trained by Batman in Batarang throwing.

Damian Wayne Jr

05/08/2023 01:44 PM 

Magical Abilities.

Soul-Self: Damien can manifest his "Soul-Self" through astral projection. It normally takes the form of either her human shape or a giant bat. Damien's Soul Self is also the doorway, and is the separation of the eleven realms of the after life.Darkness Manipulation: Damian's astral form is made out of pure darkness. He can project this darkness out as an offensive attack.Superhuman Durability: Due to his demon heritage from Raven he is able to withstand a certain amount of bodily harm and distress.He can even survived a physical encounter with Plasmus although the radiation he emits will cause some internal pain.llusion Casting: He is also able to project realistic illusions. They are convincing enough that the most intelligent or magical beings can be fooled.Flight: The ability to naturally fly had mannifested in allowing him the capablity of flight using his Soul Self. Though he prefers to use the traditional methods of travel and will use flight as a last resort. Commune with Ravens. Conceal magic aura.


05/08/2023 10:42 PM 

Posting GIF Images in Stream

REMINDER: You can post GIF images in the Stream. The image needs to be 500 pixels wide (or less).TIP: Use this website to resize the image if it's too wide.

Divine Fist

05/07/2023 04:22 PM 

Current mood:  adventurous

Head-Cannons.- Misaki is skiddish around meeting new people since her family split up when she was young making it difficult to get close and trust people.- She is bisexual though falls in love first with personality and good looks are just a bonus.- She is intelligent and knows when to make or break a conversation or leave the situation entirely.- She acts stubborn around elders and her mother and brother.- she cherishes her brother Satoru more than anything and threatens anyone who intends to harm him if they have that intention.- Wears glasses when she needs to read something; blind in one eye.- She has faith in her ability to make friends and keep them. She is a likable person by nature, and is someone who can keep a secret and that is how people are able to trust her even with their darkest secrets.- She can be lazy when she wants to be, and is sometimes finding herself falling asleep when she should be training.- She trains with her best friend and "twin sister" Naomi Sarutobi  - Satomi Sarutobi's (Asuma and The Third Hokage's sister) daughter. - Enjoys swimming, pizza, and long walks in the forest at night. - Enjoys ghost stories and going ghost hunting for fun.

Eɴᴅᴇᴀʀɪɴɢ 🌸

05/07/2023 02:49 PM 


Why do some of you have to whip out freaking dissertation-long guidelines/rules? O-o It amuses the hell out of the rest of us. It's like seeing insecurity on display but coated in pretty words or some sort of one's method of trying way too hard to sound overtly mature.Get your point across as briefly as possible. Be concise with your words. Don't fumble as if you're writing a script for some lore video essay or something. If you want to make a hyperbole or two to break the ice and entertain who'd be your future writing partners, cool, more power to you.Just get your guidelines across without overstating stuff. Those who can comply will abide by them.You're welcome. :D

Divine Fist

05/07/2023 02:01 PM 

Defected Ecstasy
Current mood:  adventurous

She would remember the scent of flowers in the garden of her mother's home. The smell of fresh apple pie her grandmother made for the family to enjoy when she was alive. She had days where she almost felt like it was a dream. Misaki was someone who was very lucky that she did not have tragedy in her life thus far. She was still young, and learning new things every day. At the academy she was learning new jutsu and taking exams and graduation was upon her shortly. She was nervous, but despite that, she was not going to psyche herself out and get herself to fail.She would pass the test and become a shinobi so she could protect her village, family, and friends. She knew she would be put on a squad. They would eventually become like family despite the rivalry between her and another kunoichi named Naomi. Naomi was a sweet and caring young girl. Her parents did not know if she would be well enough to become a shinobi, but that did not stop her from trying. Misaki helped her in training and would develop a strong bond with Naomi. When they were supposed to fight one another in the chunin exams Naomi gave everything she had and almost got killed by Misaki and the match had to be forfited because she was close to dying."Thank you, Misaki, for not going easy on me because I'm sick." she would tell her and Misaki would smile, "It was the right thing to do." she said and nodded as she held her hand while she was rolled passed in the stretcher where her injuries would be treated in the infirmary. Despite her winning she felt bad for putting Naomi in such a rough condition. Perhaps she would treat her with ice cream and sodas after the tests were done. Sometime after that she faced Satoru , her other teammate who was much healthier than Naomi as his training helped with that.Misaki and Satoru trained on a regular basis and knew each other's movements without saying a word to one another. The fight began and they were already close to one another, fighting to see who would crumble first. Misaki smirked, pushing Satoru back and causing him to stumble slightly; Satoru bounced back and ran toward Misaki and took a kunai and jammed it into her arms making her wince in pain, gasping for air and holding her arms - "You'll pay for that Satoru!" she growled, feeling the warm blood slide down her arm, feeling the warm liquid pouring to the ground. She took the kunai out of her wound and continued to fight depite being injured. She was no wimp when it came to fighting. It wasn't over yet - Misaki still had something she wanted from Satoru - her pride. She had lost to him last time they sparred and steadily started to resent him for his skills and abilities. Satoru was her best friend but also her rival as she became stronger she realized she did not need to live in his shadow anymore. She wouldn't lose to him anymore ; she would come out on her own and defeat anyone who would get in her way of becoming a great kunoichi of the Hinamori clan. Sometimes, however, she wondered if it was right to disown the Uchiha name completely - Fuyuki abandoned them.Why should she care about what happened to him? She did not want to think about it; it was disgusting, and she loathed the man for what he was worth - nothing. Something she detested more than anything was cowards who couldn't keep their promises especially to a pregnant woman and who was already raising Misaki and Satoru came after that. It became her responsibility to look after her brother after her dad left the family and she hated him for it. She hated him for the fact that she had to grow up too fast, that she could not ever be  normal like other kids. She would always suffer from depression, lethergy, and social anxiety because she did not want others to know how much pain she was enduring on the inside.She was a proud person who did not want to show others her emotions. It was the first rule of shinobi conduct either way. One must never show their feelings as it would jeapordise the mission and put the team at risk if emotions were put first above the mission. They would have to stay on target and somewhat wary of this, Misaki continued to try harder and eventually she would pass and become team 18 with Satomi Sarutobi, Naomi Yuhi, and Satoru Uchiha, and even though she was on the same team with her brother she did not give her little brother any special treatment even though they were related. She did not want him to start thinking that he was someone more important than the other members on the team. Satomi was a beautiful woman with a young looking complexion, bright blue eyes, soft skin, and crimson hair. She was about five foot tall and weighed about one hundred and fifty five pounds. Which was about the same weight and height as Misaki. Sometimes they joked about sharing the same clothes and shoes that they should raid each other's closets to keep track of another's wardrobe. But that kind of girly stuff never interested Misaki. She was more into sports, training, and wearing boy's clothes. She did not like to wear dresses, skirts, or other things like blazers or blouses.She was fond of baseball t-shirts, shorts, jeans, and her armored outfit for shinobi missions. She would often wear something comfortable if she was within the civilian side of things, and would wear her suit and armor for battle and missions. She has a white tiger as a companion and often will catch a ride on his back if she is injured or tired from walking or jumping from trees around her. Misaki wasn't a fan of going outside in the forests; she felt creeped out by all the scary lore that came from being in forests too long.She wanted to get the mission done and over with so that she could hurry home. She was by herself this time but she wished she had taken Naomi back with her, but she was still in the infirmary shortly after the chunin exams. She was on mission right after she was made a chunin, and starting to get closer to the destination. She was finally in Hanagakure no Satou. A beautiful place with lots of flowers, bushes, trees, and other wildlife such as birds, squirls, wild cats, and a few dogs that would wander around. Hanagakure was a peaceful village outside of the walls of Konohagakure where Misaki was staying for now. After she became chunin she would settle down in Iwagakure no Satou permanently.This would make the elders of the village wary if she was going to go to another village, but she explained she wanted to travel and not stay in one place; she was restless in Konohagakure and everything was so peaceful after the Uchiha massacre, and she wanted to be as far away from Sasuke Uchiha as she could be. The day she would leave the village to go to Iwagakure she was stopped by Satoru. "I'm going to miss you so much, sister!" he would say, tears streaming down his eyes, wanting to give into his emotions show even though the rules were against being emotional at all since a person was more vulnerable when they were emotional. Somehow Satoru found out that she was leaving and he probably talked to the village elders and decided to see if he could convince her not to leave the village. Even if he did not have any luck; he had to try. Misaki was not backing down, however, and something in her snapped. "Go home, Satoru." she said and locked him in a hug, "Go home, have a nice cup of hot chocolate, and forget about me. I'm running away from this place. I'm not going to be one of their slaves anymore.." she explained as she was trying to keep her own emotions in check.It was difficult seeing her brother like this, but she knew he could be brave. "Be brave, younger brother, and...take care of mother while I'm gone, okay?" she said and he nodded in protest that he did not want her to go. However , she was not budging in the situation. "Go now, I will see you sometime soon; wait for me and I will return with lots of weapons for you," she explained, knowing that Satoru wanted to become a hunter-ninja so he could track and hunt down rogue shinobi one day. Sometimes he would go off on his own and train by himself just as Misaki did - she was proud of her little brother. So proud that she was not able to show it. She hugged him once more and knocked him out. Moments later she appeared in Iwagkaure ready to start her new journey as an Iwagakure kunoichi. She would be enemies with many ninja but she did not mind, and she would slowly become numb to emotions where she did not feel pain and she did not feel remorse about killing her opponents that the Tsuichikage would train her against for future emergencies that would befall the village. She wanted to fight, she wanted to forget her family, and she wanted to forget how it felt to lose someone and be in pain. Her training made her the epitome of destruction. She would let no one get in her path - not even those that called themselves gods.

Divine Fist

05/07/2023 12:32 PM 

Misaki Hinamori Uchiha Origin Story.

Misaki was born to Yasuko Hinamori and Fuyuki Uchiha, and was residing in Iwagakure when she was born. She lived there her entire childhood and had no real tragedy in her childhood. Her mother got pregnant when she was 18 and her father left her while she was pregnant so Misaki has no , if any memories of him except of the presents such as kimonos, and dresses he sends her to make out of beautiful clothing and accessories. However, this did not change Misaki's detest and hatred of her father for leaving her mother with the difficult task of rasing two children (Satoru Uchiha, and Misaki Uchiha) and that is how this story begins.Misaki trains out in the forest while she waits for the exams in Iwagakure but Yasuko gains permission from the kage to take Misaki to Konohagakure well after the Uchiha massacre happens and settles in Konohagakure and Misaki is introduced as a member of the lunar branch of the Hinamori clan rather than the Uchiha member so she would not be ridiculed or figured out that she was a part of the cursed Uchiha clan. With her partial Uchiha bloodline, however, there is a chance for her to gain the kekkei genkai of the Sharingan and the Mangekyo Sharingan. She studies in the Konoha academy and passes the graduation exam with flying colors finally reaching her dream to become someone other than her mother's daughter who took care of her when she was drunk. She could help the village now and start taking on jobs even though she was only 16 at the time. She wanted to work and do her part in taking care of and protecting the secrets of the village. She knew it would make her mother proud to know she was trying to make a difference in the village and trying to make a reputation as a jack of all trade kind of person who took on stuff like weilding, blacksmith, and carpender jobs. She was very good with her hands and keeping busy, she also took up cleaning jobs as she enjoyed cleaning houses which took her mind off things. She had a habbit of working too hard and often over-worked herself. Working since the day she turned 16 gave her the advantage of knowing more about work than her classmates, she would be looked to for advice and help for the things the other children were going through in their lives. She would not meet her father again in person until she turned 20 years old when he turned up in the village after one of his travels, and had a gift for her in which Misaki destroyed. She did not want anything to do with her father, she was angry that she was left alone with her mother, and that he left her mother alone and pregnant with her and soon after her brother was born and Misaki had to care for him while her mother was working as a waitress to make ends meet. She explained he had his chance and he destroyed the family he was supposed to "protect" and told him to leave. She realized that second chances did not come often, but she didn't want this chance. She did not want her father in her life anymore than he wanted children in his. Sometime before she was born Fuyuki was in a gang of rogue shinobi and that was when he met Yasuko who seemed to be the most beautiful woman that Fuyuki noticed.After some time passed and he spent some time with Yasuko, Fuyuki Uchiha asked her hand in marriage and she accepted not knowing he would have to leave seeing that his part in the rogue gang would put his family in danger. Which was why he left. Misaki would not understand for a long time and her mother would only get angry when Misaki brought her father up and it made Misaki sad that she lived with a broken family. 

Divine Fist

05/07/2023 11:12 PM 

Current mood:  accomplished

Disclaimer: Everything you see on this profile has been changed, manipulated, or edited by me. I made the layout from scratch and although the original creation of the stylesheet is not mine I take full credit for creating it from where it is today.1. I do not write with minors. If you are a minor do NOT add me as you will be blocked. 2. Do not start drama with my page and friends around me. I have a small group of friends that I have made here and I appreciate every one of them. 3. I am a paragraph/multiple paragraph writer and I write in third person format. I am a literate and experienced writer. I have been writing since 2004 and have developed a style that is all my own. I am writing in complete sentences, proper spelling and grammar, and correct punctuation so please keep that in mind while you write with me. I don't ask for perfection as it does not exist. Just something I can understand and work with.4. Please have some patience where as I have a busy in real life schedule and I find myself getting offline more and more. I have been working on my weight and I am no longer online 24/7 365 days a year like I used to be as it became unhealthy and I gained a lot of weight and am trying to cut down so I do not become diabetic like my grandparents.5. Do not ask me for edits or layout stylesheets. I no longer offer to edit them for people. I also do not offer edits for pictures anymore since people like to take credit off.6. Although I do not expect perfection or immediate responses, I do expect effort being held in place for some of the time on the writing we will be doing here. I do not like being the one coming up with all the ideas. I hate being the only one coming up with stuff for us to do so please jump in with me and let's create some memories for our roleplays!7. I have a discord for faster messages, but I also write on aniroleplay as my main focus for right now to get a reputation for Misaki and hopefully find more writer's willing to write with me. I hope I can gain some more experience since I have been on a 3 year hiatus since the last time I was here. Thank you for taking the chance and writing with me.8. Do not expect me to give up personal information such as house addresses, phone numbers, emails, or personal bank account numbers unless I am buying a resource or layout from you. That is the only time I will give out personal information. Other than that it is a no go for that reason.9. Please do not expect erotica right away; I am an adult in real life and 34 years old but do not expect erotica to be the only thing I write. My character is female, but she is not into erotica at first glance. She will have to take time to get to know your character first then seeing where it goes from there. 10. Do not rush me for comments or messages. I have already stated that I have a busy schedule but do not confuse real life stuff with high fantasy writing or roleplaying. That can be dangerous to the mind and in real life.11. If you want my discord simply ask for it. If you prefer writing on discord I will happily give it out. That's the only personal information I will be giving out, though.12. I do  not want this writing to become a sort of chore that I have to do no matter what I am going through in real life. If it becomes something that I have to do on a  regular basis, I will cease all roleplays and disappear. 13. Please do not steal or jock my layout or images on my page. I worked very hard to make this character from scratch. I put a lot of pride in her moreso than any of my other 'creations' and I intend to keep her for a while now. I do not see myself giving up on her anytime soon.14. I am taken in real life. I am also 34 in real life. I have a boyfriend so anything that happens in roleplay strictly will stay in roleplay so please don't force yourself on me or my character. Although my character is open for romance and (sometimes) erotica if it makes sense and has a plot then I will offer it if it will be a good story. 15. No cyber bullying to my friends on here. Nor with me. I will not tolerate bullies or god-moders of any kind. Too many people who want to pretend they are gods and can not be harmed because they are behind a computer screen. It's not something easily dealt with, but do NOT bring this to my circle. I will put an END to it.16. Have a sense of humor when you write with me, the sort of comedy I am looking for is something dry and stealthy so please feel free to put some comedy as well as action, adventure, dark romance, taboo themes, dark themes, mature themes, violent themes, and possible character death and reincarnation. If you are uncomfortable with any of these please let me know and we can work something else out that makes you more comfortable.17. I do not want you feeling uncomfortable. If you start to feel uncomfortable while writing or talking with me simply speak up and let me know and I will try to understand and work something out.18. Have a sense of humor ; most of the time I am not in a serious mood and only joking around but sometimes my dry humor hurts other's feelings so please speak up if you have been hurt by my lack of subtle humor.19. If you want my discord messenger, please ask and don't beg for it if you do. That will only make me angry and less likely to give it out to people. 20. Thank you for making it this far. If you have, please place a comment below as to what your favorite color is.


05/06/2023 02:41 PM 

The lesser of two evils - A starter turned sample

"Who are you?!" Breathless pants barely registered over the echoing rainfall of the surrounding brick and mortar. This alley growing more claustrophobic with each muffled footstep from the obscuring darkness. The man clutching his drenched hoodie close to his chest, like he had something to hide. Bloodshot browns swaying frantically to locate the figure that approached him. It couldn't have been that late yet, So why was it pitch black out? "It's nothing personal.." Eyes became as big as headlights when another velvet voice made itself known. Right over his left shoulder where he was confident only a wall had been before. Making the male practically jump out of his skin. A gun pulling from the hoodie with panicked haste. Towards a target he hadn't been expecting: a woman. "What do you want ya mangy bitch?!" The words snarled like venom as she simply stood there. Black camisole and hoodie equally weighed down by the rain as hazy steel met him. "Did you have fun at least? With all the money you made off those girls." Her calm yet tired expression was unsettling, Too serene for the topic at hand. His finger tightened on the trigger right as he shoved her back into the wall. Barrel firmly pressed into her forehead. "Get to the point before I get pissed off!!" That shaking arm was met with a lunging grey mass with gnarled teeth. Gun rattling to the ground as it was torn from it's uneasy host. The unnaturally large canid culprit dropping it's prize from a bloody maw to pick at it and stare. It's eyes akin to hollow holes of black. There was a moment of horrified realization before he finally screamed and fell to his knees. The female sighing before she dropped to his level. "Sorry, they're always impatient." The wolf nibbled at it's treat for a few moments longer before a snarl rumbled forth. Padding it's way between the two. Seems it was time to stop messing around. "...But we both know you didn't need that toy to kill me, hmm? Stop hiding." It wasn't long before the bleeding stump seemed to stop pouring blood. A crooked grin stretching over his features. That crimson weaved into a new appendage. A blood forged mockery of a hand that flexed and stretched it's newly regained fingers. "Funny. I thought the church would win the race." Her companion didn't waste time. Rushing forward to knock the man over and pin him beneath its weight. Growling dominantly in his face to meet now chilling red hues. The man offering nothing but a laugh in kind. "Go ahead, kill'em. I've got a dozen more flesh suits to dust off." He seemed utterly unfazed, even as the wolf lowered its head to latch onto the nape of his neck. Though his words had reached the woman who leaned back against the wall. "Doesn't matter. Take as many scumbags as you want. Just know.. eventually you'll be on the menu. You're just adding more flavor." Laughter boomed maniacally through the stormy night, until a loud snap abruptly ended their conversation. "You know... if you waited just a bit longer I could get more information. Those a**holes love to talk.." Her concerns fell on deaf ears. The wolf keenly devouring their well deserved kill. Gruesome gushes and further snapping thankfully drowned out by the weather. Sighing again she curled into a ball, the chill settling onto her skin. "Hurry up will ya... I need a drink..."

𝙲𝚕𝚘𝚜𝚎 𝚜𝚑𝚊𝚟𝚎

05/06/2023 12:51 PM 

Myths and stories from Greenland.

A few danish texts about Greenland that I translated about an under-appreciated culture ^^(the headlines are my own to sum up)   The Sharman distracting the iceberg. (1710)The 12th. I traveled from Maklykyot to the Lise-inlet, along followed a few Greenlanders, in the midst of them was an Angekoq (Sharman), with a drum in his hand in the front of the boat he played a song when we went through the high and odious icebergs. When I asked the others why he'd do such a thing? they said: As long as he is playing the drums, the icebergs will want to look at him, and thus forget to fall down and kill people. When I now asked them if they were foolish to believe that dead and unreasoning things could have discernment, they said that the high icebergs had sense, therefore they fall as soon as someone goes in between them. In the end, I had nothing else to say than they were as wise as stones. They asked if I tried to fool them. And I said since they were fooling themselves I wanted to fool them. The Whalefish and his wifeIn the old times, only one whalefish existed. And it could talk, and it had a big house on the bottom of the ocean. This same whalefish swam everywhere to find a mate, but no one would marry him because he was too big. However, a girl stood on the beach bathing her feet, when a big shark came and snatched her away. The girl yelled and screamed for help so the big whalefish heard it, and it came hurrying to her rescue telling her: If you want me as your husband I shall save you, and you will have good days with me. And the girl said yes, as the fish immediately took her home with him, and they lived quite well until he had bred a couple of whalefish with her. Then he let her dress up in new fur garments with a hare-head on the back of the fur and a falcon head on the front. He then led her to shore to her friends again... And that's why they must always have new garments on, along with a hare and falcon head, when they shall hunt him. The Wife-swap that scared the Whales:I knew John-Ell was well known in his people’s old traditions and I asked him to spice up the feast over the last-caught whale, with some tales about customs from the old days. John-Ell never played hard to get, and while the rest of us worked with the fresh tasty pieces of marble grey whale skin, he told us as follows: In the old times, there were many whales along these coasts, and they used to swim right under land so that the men always had their catching tools ready down at the beach edge. With a harpoon fastened at a piece of rock that was strong enough to hold the whale, the harpoon was ready next to it. And as soon as you heard the whales blow, the catchers could run to and harpoon them. That was how close they swam to the coast and they didn’t seem to fear the humans. But then it happened one night, that two men wanted to do a wife-switch, and it happened in the way that they both stayed at home, but sent the wives to each other’s tents. It was at night while people slept, and when two women met each other they fell into conversation; while they gazed out over the ocean they noticed a big whale swimming along the beach edge, without waking up the men, they ran right to the harpoon and stuck it into the whale. Like this, the woman caught the whale. But it’s told that from that time the whales became afraid of the humans and pulled out further to the sea and they never again swam along the coast. Mature women and mothers were from that point of considered unclean and were never to meddle in men’s hunting again, and to appease the whales, new customs were sought to make them feel calm and safe again when they were hunted. When the whale hunt commenced all women were to carry forehead ornaments of white quartz, with these they were to light the whales' path to the humans. Even the men in the whaleboats had to be very careful, they could neither spit in the boat nor in the water: and if one couldn’t help but spit, one would have to spit on themselves. Neither was one allowed to pollute the ocean, which is the home of the whale, by relieving one's self in it. And thus special pots were required to be brought. As soon as the whale was harpooned all married women were to stay inside the tents and not show themselves in the fresh air, to not scare the whale, and they were to lay on the table stretched with relaxed limbs and loosen the tights bonds in their suit. And if they didn’t the wild whale would run the harpoon line and pull the boat to the bottom of the sea.  

꧁ ♡ ᴏɪʀᴀɴ ♡ ꧂

05/05/2023 11:20 PM 


✧ Third person && multi-para-adaptable roleplay. Crossover, original character, && AU or canon divergent themes are all welcome.✧ Messages && banter are preferred, but I can make do with anything. ✧ Both character && mun are 21+ years old, but mun is not interested in subjects relating to romance. Fading to black however, is acceptable for any sexually explicit scenes.✧ My Discord is private, close IRL friends && family only, sorry. Please don't ask for it.✧ While roleplay is an enchanting hobby, the author is typically busy between full time college for astronomy as well as an active family life, so your patience is both required && appreciated. Nonetheless, I typically fire off one RP reply per person per week, with various scattered banter && chit chat in-between.✧ If you've come to try to rebuild a friendship, regardless of what our parting was, you will be welcomed with open arms. I don't believe in holding grudges. All I ask is that if you have no good intentions with me, please see the delete friend button.


05/05/2023 10:17 PM 

Rules, I guess

By popular opinion of 1 like on a random status I posted: here are my rules.  1. Don't take anything I say in character as representation for how I am out of character. Chances are my character will like you more than I do.2. Don't send me one liners.3. Don't rush me for responses. I've got three dead profiles and a lot of my time on my hands to do absolutely nothing with.4. Don't ask me for erp, smut, ero, or whatever else it's called now a days. I can't keep a relationship, what makes you think I can satisfy you in your literary bed?5. Don't assume I'm online and active just because it says I'm online. I leave myself signed in a lot.6. Don't be surprised if I send you an add after we go back and forth stalking each other's pages.7. Don't sign these rules if you thought I was serious about half of this sh*t.8. Don't bring any drama to my page. I can find it on my own, thanks.9. Try not to get offended if I don't like your story ideas and don't want to write with you. Not all ideas will work and that's okay. We can just talk sh*t about each other in statuses like normal people do.10. Don't add me just to stay mute the whole time. At least let me know why you're stalking me before you stalk me.

Duty Driven (Taken/Busy IRL)

05/04/2023 03:11 PM 

Hospice, Age 19

If “dying is an art,” you do not do it well.  I do nothave words, do not have thoughts; there is nothing insideof me anymore.  I am vacant, hollow, and if this is whattime travel feels like I do not want any part of it.  Racingpast the stars, past the planets, past Andromeda's spiraling, galactic force,I am light-years ahead and then light-years behind—I am                two years                    too late.                  You cannot know, you will not know, howAuriga is waiting in the sky to whisk you                                                                 away,                away,                            away.Th­e bubbling of your oxygen sounds like the water fountainsyou used to pass as a child, but there are no pennies at the bottomof this.  And I wonder, with your eyes closed, if you feel like youare swimming.  Barely treading water, fighting to keep your head above,choking on salt and brine as you try to kick your feet, try toswim to Lake Michigan’s shoreline.  I wantPoseidon to spit you out of sea like a cork, wantNeptune to come alive through the mosaics of your bathroom andlead you away from the great, black, wave of stars that isbreaking and crashing and barely brushing your bare feet.Some fish were meant to drown.  You arenot one of them.  Pisces is meant to swim                   forever.This time machine has dropped me back into my nightmare again,but it is not only mine, it’s yours.  I am trying to readthe constellations, trying to map the planets, trying to figure outthe moon cycles, but I fear that this is a language I had learned onceand tried to forget—we are now digging each others graves.  The nurse in blue, the doctor in white, the sun in gold, and you,red as dead and clotted blood, have merged into a new dialectthat does not mirror what I know the way theGemini twins mimic one another in the cosmos. (I think                                 I have lost my ability to speak with angelsand this terrifies me.)Is God whispering the secrets of the world into your ear yet?  Is Jesusshowing you how to be holy?  Are you tearing the bread for communionand feeding it to the birds?  Are you taking shots from His heavenly blood,getting drunk off the possibility of closing your eyes, leaning back, andwatching Perseus fight your battles for you?                                                          Do you want to be a constellation, too?I am eighty miles away from you, but it feels more likeeighty light-years.  I am watching you through someone else’s eyes andchoking myself with my own hands as I try to show youwhat you mean to me.  My hands are cracked and bleeding frompounding them against the wall you constructed around yourself, but youdon’t have control over that wall anymore, do you?You are too young to ride Pegasus in the night sky, too young tobuild your own wings, too young to fall and drown like Icarus.  Youknow how to swim.  You are learning how to fly.  There is noreason for you to shake God’s hand yet.  Put the halo down—                                                           ­                                                you are not ready.For my friend, who I fear terribly will lose his battle with brain cancer soon.  I have never had more tangled and conflicting emotions over a person before.

Duty Driven (Taken/Busy IRL)

05/04/2023 03:05 PM 


Summary: “What’s your name?”“Red.”“No,” the man - Frank - shakes his head. His heart beating a symphony of unease. “That’s not it.” Notes: Hi, there! I may have gotten a little carried away with this series, but I've been in serious need of a little me time and writing is the most fun kind of me time ever, so, here we are. SEE END NOTES FOR TRIGGER WARNINGS! (Contains Spoilers) First things first, I did a lot of research for this series. And I mean, a lot. I'll try and write as much as I can about it in the end notes, for anyone curious. Poems and excerpts taken from (in order of appearence):Unlocking, Alice B. FogelDeep Red, Kevin KillianThe too late poem, Albert GoldbarthBalance, Alice B. FogelBilly-Ray Belcourt For Fratt Week prompt "Fall", and Whumptober prompts Altrno. 6 "Head injury" and no. 21 "Bleeding through bandages". Happy reading ♥     Humus; a brown or black complex variable material resulting from the partial decomposition of plant or animal matter and forming the organic portion of soil.   Trees are born and die, bones turn to humus, glacier to meadowland.     RED   I’m living in your disgrace deep red hatched cells a doll with hands scuttles across the face of the sea for you come and get these memories   He wakes up and he’s nothing but the pounding ache, hammering a hole through his brain and out his skull. Nausea plays with his stomach in flips, bitter acid splashes at the back of his tongue, scorching his taste buds in white-hot sting. He swallows convulsively - he’s numb from his feet to his waist and it recedes like the tide. Feeling returns like glass shards stabbing his thighs, knees, calves, feet. Abdomen flutters with the need to be sick, heat replaces cold and cycles back to heat all over his sweaty skin. Glass shards turn into pins and needles, he finds that moving is possible. Hands scramble to get a purchase onto something real, scratchy cotton scrapes over his palms as they shake, muscles pulse as if trying to melt right out of his skin. His fingers feel anesthetized, skin tingles all over, merges at the right side of his face. Tingling- Getting up makes blood rush to all the places that hurt, his perception flickers and darkens in a world that’s already painted in black and splashes of red. Maybe his knees hit the floor, he’s not sure. He’s up again - holding himself tightly to the wooden headrest of a bed before the pain converges to one place; his head. It sharpens into a ringing over his right ear, splitting him open, brain turning into static mush. He’s being taken apart from the inside out. There are words trying to tumble their way out of his mouth, but he can’t remember how to move his lips, curl his tongue. Knows that M feels like pressing his lips, knows that L gets his tongue to dance in the cage of his teeth, but nothing moves, nothing works. Nausea swirls around once more, doubles his body weight. He’s oddly aware of his own shaking, then. How his hands tremble and tremble as if convulsing. Moving gets the blood to pool on his legs and the throbbing muscle flares like fireworks under the skin. He takes a step - falters. Nothing works as it’s supposed to and he pushes. When his knees fail he pulls himself up, his head feeling like an overfilled balloon, brain liquid and heavy. He smells soap and he follows it, follows the only thing that’s not hot-cold pain and the clash of lightheadedness and heavy, pounding ache that tears from his spine, to his neck, to his head and behind his eyes. The world flickers as if it’s own fire. And then he’s falling, knees collapsing like a house of cards. He’s unable to keep going - still, he crawls. Shoulders shake in a dance of giving up and giving more, his elbows bruise with the number of times it falls to the ground. He can’t remember half the crawl when he finally reaches the smell of soap - a bathroom. He has to stand up, so he does. Body begs him to stop, flares in his own perception like lightening. His muscles quiver and crumple, pain screams a high-pitched agony song on all of his limbs. Even as he manages to stand up, he’s still falling, getting pulled into the ground. He doesn’t know, but it’s not the first time he awakens in the unfamiliar place. Cold porcelain meets him in a shock of cold and he’s vomiting before he can process the feeling of knees hitting the tiles once more. Barely registers the vile taste coating his tongue for it feels thick and tingling with palpable static as if anesthetized. His head throbs, brain pulses against the cage of his skull. Drills from the center to find surface - he’s a hollow tunnel collapsing inwards. He vaguely registers he stopped vomiting when vertigo thickens the weight of his head. Digs through his brain on how to make his limbs move, how to get his muscles to work, so he stays slumped in the ground, a pile of failed meat. Feverish eyes scream a bright sting when he blinks - maybe he’s shaking from it, from the pain. Maybe it’s the cold from the tiles under his naked knees. He tries to come up with an answer to questions he doesn’t know how to formulate - to where he is, why does everything hurt, why can’t he see, why is he alone - but nothing comes. Only the ringing in his right ear and the impermeable fog on his head, cut through only by needle-sharp pain. Where. His breath hitches and even the slight movement of his throat feels exhaustive. He forgets mechanics and only focuses on pressing his hands to the floor, finding something solid under his feet. Tries to get up, tries to get ready. Head screams threat even when all he can perceive is soap, his own sweat, copper and the ringing in his ear. Needs to locate the threats. Find escape routes. Head pulses, throbs- Where? The unfamiliarity of the place feels slightly less daunting when he manages to stand up. He doesn’t recognize the cold feeling under his feet, doesn’t recognize the smell of soap or the coppery aroma that gets more noticeable every second that he balances precariously on his legs. He can’t see but he knew where the bathroom was - followed the scent of soap and bleach. There’s something he has to do. The thought comes unbidden, penetrates through the fog like knife cutting through cloth. And then it’s all he can think of. There’s somewhere he has to be. Someone... someone was waiting. Someone needed him. Needed... who. The thought disappears like smoke with the next pulse of pain against his bone, overworked muscles shake and falter as he grips onto the sink. Swaying side to side, again and again. A swirl of nausea his body mimics from his stomach. And then it’s back. Someone, someone, someone. Fingers curl around the faucet. He can’t open it. Right hand refuses to cooperate. His head hurts and the ringing won’t leave. He tips it slightly to the right side only for it to scream bright-white-red pain and his knees try buckling once more. Someone waiting ( someone needed him) . He’s there, holding himself to the sink, convinced he’ll fall to the ground again. And this time, he won’t get back up. The world is a black hole but for the fire thickening around him, a botched perception of a sink, a toilet, a shower - but it’s dull and thick like spilling ink. He’ll fall and sink into the nothing underneath. Melt into insubstantial liquid. He hurt his head. He hurt something else too. His head is hurt - how, when, why - doesn’t know. Why is his head hurt? He finds the stitches like a rupture in the embers painting the perception of his own body. Follows the sutures with his fingertips, feels the swelling threatening to pull the threads apart. Almost faints from the pain when he tries pressing lightly into it. His right ear rings - someone - and keeps ringing, it won’t stop - someone needed him. Who? (Get to work). The erratic thinking is cut through by rhythmic thumping approaching - and then, the world rushes in. A heart, breathing, creaking wooden floor, birds, a deer far away, rustling leaves. Something is missing and he doesn’t know what. Someone needed... Open the faucet. He can’t open the faucet. Thought turns to mush and disappears into nothing, he has one job, he has to open the faucet but he can’t. Fingers fumble but can’t hold a grip. A solid wall of thumping heartbeat, inflating lungs and straining muscles carrying the smell of rain, smoke and antiseptic clots the doorway, the only escape route. A large hand suddenly intrudes in his space, takes the handle and twists it for him. He stumbles away from the oppressive, undefined form. Too much battles with his perception - the worms crawling and squirming under the house, the creaking wood, the loud, thunder-like heartbeat, the choir of birds and deer and coyotes and a large, shapeless body of leaves and trees and roots. It takes the form of a man as he concentrates, limbs sluggish where he tries to protect himself. Maybe he falls, maybe he’s still up. He’s upright, he’s upside down - his head hurts. The man, for now he’s sure it’s a man, closes the faucet then. Tries to focus on some kind of noise that may or may not be coming out of his mouth, but is deafened by the too-fast sound of his own pulse, loud ringing and the rhythmic war-drum behind, framing the bathroom with its sound waves. He whimpers, tries to press a hand to his right ear only to yelp at the pain, the sound echoing and stabbing his eardrums viciously. What’s happening? What the hell is happening? Why does everything hurt? What happened to him? Too late, the fog whispers back, too late. “Where am I?” He doesn’t recognize the voice that leaves his own throat, uncertain in its candor. Weak. A simple thought of what would Stick think? passes through his head before disappearing into the fog, lacerated and torn apart by the sharp ringing. Like everything else - insubstantial. He can’t reach it but it’s there, trapped in the haze. If he could just reach it- God, his head is killing him. “Red,” the gruff voice saturates the room and paints it bright. “Can’t be walking yet, go back to bed.” The sound helps him make a picture of himself - the embers lick at the heat gathered tightly in a straight line across his lower abdomen, in a circular wound in his right leg. Hot-white pain brings the nausea back the moment he attempts touching the sutures in his belly and he’s falling again. The man’s arms are curling around him firmly before his knees manage to hit the ground, a solid weight trapping him and he fights the nausea if only to push the man away with a disgruntled shout. His tongue is thick and dry in his mouth when he makes a second attempt at speech, limbs heavy and unable to come up to protect himself from the stranger. “No!” His own voice hits the tiles and echoes loudly against his eardrums. “Where am I? W-who are you?” The man’s heartbeat slows right down, the image of him flickers and he tries to grab onto it so he won’t catch him off guard should he attempt to attack. The man’s breath rumbles like the growl of a bear in his chest and he stumbles another step back at the disappointed, choppy rhythm of the man’s pulse. “You’re in a shack,” he relays carefully, tone neutral and giving him nothing to analyze. “Outside the city. It’s me, Red.” “No, why... Who, who are you?” He’s barely there when he asks again, mulls over the name again in his head. He’s called him that twice. Tries to savor it in his tongue as if it’ll get it to make any sense, but it doesn’t. He doesn’t know. Something’s wrong, missing. He tries to reach for anything that makes sense. Anything at all. The fog sits there, unreachable, unperturbed. He doesn’t know. He doesn’t know. “C’mon, Red. You need to sleep the meds off for a while longer.” A hand approaches him, cutting through the haze. “Don’t!” Red jumps away a few steps from the solid wall of a man, hands reach for him again once his knees try buckling for the second time. “Why do you have me? Let me- let me go-” The tinnitus in his right ear rises to that of a bee hive and he whimpers, head falling forward only for it to pulse dangerously, throbbing in so much pain that he barely registers it. “It’s Frank, Red.” It still doesn’t make any sense. Nothing does. “Why do you keep- ah, God,” the skin at the side of his head seems to swell, tries to pull at the stitches when it’s only the pain, bloating larger than life and playing with nausea settling deep in his bones. Adrenaline pulses hot, burning through it, keeping him no his feet. “Why do you keep calling me that?” The man’s - Frank’s - answer is deliberate when it comes, deceivingly patient. “What else should I call you?” The air leaves him in a sharp exhale, sutures pulling at the side of his head, right over his ear. Can hear it like bending wires, metal against bone. He uses it to center himself, tries to work through the haze with trembling fingers and weak knees. Finds nothing. “I don’t-” Too late, the fog repeats, you’re too late. His eyes sting but he refuses to acknowledge the heavy heat when it fills his eyelids with salt, burns at them. His head pounds as if protesting against it too. “Red is... fine.” He chokes out, his whole frame shivering as if his skeleton was attempting to jump out of his skin. The man - he forgot his name again, what was it? Grant, Dent, no - steps closer again, palms turned up to show he’s not a threat. He’s the only real thing he can track, the only thing that makes sense in the midst of all the input. Untouched by the fog even while he’s surrounded by it. Red can make out arms, fingers, a torso, a heartbeat, organs, bones - can’t make sense of his face, not yet. It gets lost among all the flames. Trying to work through the scents only proves him in worst shape, the sound of the man’s stomach digesting coffee and oatmeal almost deafens him. “Hey,” his voice booms around the room and Red’s knees weaken, the man is there to touch him lightly, callouses meeting elbows. “Hey, I’ll just take you back to bed, c’mon.” The words make sense until the point that they don’t. His brain grabs at what he can; the quality of the man’s - Fred, Frank - voice, deep, stoic and unperturbed. The warmth of his palms, every single ridge of a scar and a callous. His limbs are heavy by the time they stop moving, knees touching something cushy but coarse. Cotton. Doesn’t want to come anywhere near it, but he can’t fight the pull of every single muscle in his body. “I have to get back,” he slurs. “You’re in no shape to do sh*t, Red.” But he has to get back before curfew. Sister Augustine uses the ruler on the disobedient ones and Matt doesn’t want- He needs to get back before curfew. The man is there. Hovering just at the edge of the fog, fingers digging into it and keeping it away from him. Molding his body just right so it doesn’t escape it completely. He feels larger than the world, surrounding him from all sides - mountains surrounding a forest, forest surrounding a cabin... “It’s okay, kid.” He lets the tide take him. Large palms pressing him down to sandpaper, the church bells ringing in his ear.     His head is splitting open. Red cries out as soon as he wakes up, his brain pulsing against the sutures at the side of his head, throbbing. The pain radiates like lightening from it’s roots, an intricate web-patterned mesh of agony right over his right ear, extending to his temple, all over the right side of his head and the back of his eyes. The skin of his right arm feels numb and prickling, his ribs burn and splinters every time his chest rises with a breath. His lips feel dry and cracking when his parched tongue traces the edges, a foul taste lingering in the inside of his cheeks, over his teeth. His saliva feels thick with dehydration. “Open,” the gruff voice startles him to action. A rib shifts and another creaks and Red feels another cry dig its nails inside his throat. A large, sunken ship groans in his thorax and his chest stutters up and down with the new ache. He tries to feel for the coarse fabric irritating his skin - tries to fight, to get the offending hands away, but it’s useless. There are birds chirping outside, loud enough that it feels like their beaks and too-fast-too-loud heartbeats are pressed right against his eardrums. The large, indistinguishable body of roots, dirt and trees extends for as far as his senses can go. But the birds, they’re everywhere, occupying his insides like their own little cages. “It’s just water, open up.” Water. Water sounds good. Hands falter and fighting becomes pulling. Opening his mouth takes a surprising amount of strength. A rough but surprisingly careful hand tilts his chin back, supporting his head and helping cool liquid slide down his throat and quench the desert-like aridity. Stray drops run down his lips and neck, a stark difference with his slightly overheated skin. Tries to reach up his right hand to steady the man’s wrist only to find it uncooperative, lifting his left one instead. Red keeps on pushing until the right one eventually joins its twin, grip weak around a thick, scarred forearm. He holds it tight. The man's not getting his arm back until Matt is finished.  “Slow down, Red, you’ll choke.” He responds to the command automatically, guzzling down gulps of fresh water in a slower rhythm until he finishes what’s left in the bottle. All strength leaves his muscles when he finally lets go. The man’s hands are stop him from falling down abruptly against the mattress. This man. The man from before. Before... how long ago? Hours? Days? Some time before. Some time. Red doesn’t linger on it. Cotton sheets catch on the bruises in his skin and he hisses. “Hey! Stop f***ing moving around!” The man’s voice is pleasantly rough and Red stops, tilting up to hear it more closely, how it caresses the shell of his ear with a deep, gruff timbre. He’s locked in a more gentle, subtle kind of haze, then. The void doesn’t seem as terrifying as it feels inviting. “You had your skull open three days ago. Take it easy, Red.” He giggled. It was funny. Skulls weren’t supposed to be open, and people weren’t supposed to be named after colors. Red doesn’t know what colors looks like. It’s funny. “I’ll call you Black, then,” it feels funnier, still, because he isn’t sure he knows what black looks like either. “Dunno what it looks like but errthing’s burning-” The tingling feeling from before traveled up all the way from his legs to his shoulders and the world went out of focus. He’s oddly aware of his body moving before he went out again. Moving and moving and he couldn’t stop. Muscles tightening and loosening and tightening again. And then he was melting into the cotton sheets, skin feeling oddly detached of his flesh, hanging of him. Curt... back... seized again, just, come back here. He feels two powerful arms holding him sideways, a palm cradling his head. His head is overstuffed with cotton balls until they too dissolve, and Red’s drained. He isn’t sure when he manages to move. When reaching out feels like something possible, but it happens before he’s ready for it. He carefully explores the man’s face, the heavy stubble around his jaw and lips. The tight coiling heat of a bruise under one eye. He smiles. He’s home? “Dad?” “Sh*t-” the man, he didn’t sound like Dad, holds his breath before letting it get punched out of his chest. Like he’s in a ring with himself, or maybe with Red. “No, kid, just... Hang in there. Just hang in there.” The man doesn’t make much sense. Red feels around for him, for a proof of Dad. Feels the thick neck and strong shoulders. The pain coils tightly around the grinding above his right ear. His right arm feels too heavy to keep moving. Too heavy to do anything. He groans, hands coming to protect his head from the hellfire blazing within, hold it together so it doesn’t get ripped apart from the inside out. Hands appear out of thin air and Red can’t track them fast enough, hear the whistling of nails through air when someone forces something down his throat. Red fights. He has to find his Dad. He needs to find him or it'll be too late. The hands press him down against sandpaper sheets, feels it scrape at his skin, take a piece of him with it. Red fights it, with everything he has in him. “What did you do to him? Where’s- where’s-” Limbs loosen even when he tries to tense them, tries to fight. The need to sleep comes so suddenly his brain barely catches up to it, fingers still twitching, attempting to grab at something. The world is black, black, black and Dad’s face disappears with the sky when he hears the bullet. He lays down beside dad’s body in the alleyway, blood dries in the concrete.     “Eat.” His eyes open like the fluttering wings of the bird right outside the window, picking at its own feathers with its beak. Everything smells of wood, grass, gunpowder and soil, it impregnates every inch of his skin as his eyelashes disturb the air around him. Moves dust particles in a dance of fairy lights he’s not privy to. He’s not sure how long it’s been since he last woke up. It could be hours. It could be weeks. The fog is easier to navigate through, this time. It’s thick and omnipresent in every pulse of blood rushing through his body, but Red finds a way around it - can make the picture of his own body in his mind, how it inhabits the space, how it’s positioned in relation to the wooden walls. He can trace his pains back to their sources, although the fatigue stops him short of it. Every muscle in his body screams of exhaustion. The man - Frank, he recalls - is there once more. The fog battles the fire as Red unravels the enigma of the heartbeat poised right beside him. Listens to the rush of blood and oxygen to track the edges and contours of the man’s frame. Frank’s big, a shifting solid wall of trained muscles and a too-steady pulse. There’s a certain unwavering confidence in the way his chest expands with every inhale. A man unafraid of anything. Smells tell him more - gunpowder, gun oil, coffee, nicotine, blood, a lot of antiseptic, enough that it tickles his nose. He’s soon interrupted when a bowl of oatmeal is shoved in his face, struggling to curl his right hand around it as easily as he does with his left one. He winces once more when a head movement makes agony strike like lightning, rooting from the cloudy epicenter of the wound by his right ear and spreading over the curve of his skull and side of his neck. “Here,” the man turns to his left, feeling for something in a small fold-up table that smelled strongly of rust. A rough hand reaches for his, dropping two pills inside the shell of his palm. “It’s paracetamol. Curt said I can’t give you NSAIDs.” Red just nods sluggishly, realizing his mistake when the pain flares - whatever Frank says, he has other things to worry about. Why am I not in a hospital? He wants to ask. But doesn’t. Not yet. “Why do you smell of guns?” He asks instead. Red’s voice is only a thin thread of what it had been moments earlier. The fatigue is catching up to him quickly - too quickly. The man only snorts and Red tilts his head in slight confusion. For some reason he can’t fathom, that gives Frank a stop. Heartbeat falters before speeding up imperceptibly. “What’s my name, Red?” His voice catches on gravel and tar as he speaks, thick and filling the whole room with a sense of foreboding Red can’t help but mirror. “Frank.” “Frank what?” Red frowns, works through the exhaustion to keep upright, oatmeal balanced precariously in his hands. “I don’t know, you tell me.” “Sh*t,” the man shakes his head, pulse slightly faster still. “What’s your dad’s name?” Red’s eyebrows furrow closer together, analyzing a catch, some kind of implicit cue that he isn’t getting. Sees Dad’s face in his head, bruised and smiling at him. “Why do you want to know-” “Just answer the damn question.” He breathes a bit deeper. “Jack.” Red offers, calmly. Tries to remember his surname but can’t for the life of him form a single letter in his head that feels right. Just Jack. Battlin’ Jack. “Your mom’s?” “Dunno. Never met ‘er.” Something clicks, right at the back of his head. A noise. Doesn’t know what it is, doesn’t know where it comes from. Another click. He shakes his head. Frank is quiet. A void where Red’s perceptions usually would reach him - read his heartbeat, the pulling of his muscles, the steadiness of his breathing. He leans with his elbows to his knees, shifting dark smoke against the flames and the fire. “What’s yours?” The noise clicks again, his stomach goes cold. Eyes shift uselessly around as if to look for those embers, that bright fire. “What’s your name?” “Red.” “No,” the man - Frank - shakes his head. His heart beating a symphony of unease, of disappointment. A stark contrast to Red’s derailing one. “That’s not it.” “Does it really matter?” He begs in a breathless voice, heartbeat erratic where it pulses like a drum against his broken ribs. Soft tissue pressing against splintered bone. “You got yourself in some sh*t, Red,” the fog and the smoke envelop the man and he can barely track him but for his breathing, his heart, his stoic, unperturbed voice. “Some bad guys, they hit you in the head pretty bad. I could see part of your brains when I got there. Have no f***ing clue how you’re alive.” Frank’s heartbeat changes - accelerates just for a moment, snapping his body to life before he sinks back to the controlled ease. Red feels the pull of sutures on the side of his head. The grinding of bone on bone right over his ear, the feel of metal holding them together. “Is that why-” “Why what?” “I can’t see. Is... no,” no, he remembers Dad fading from his sight. The sky a far away dream. Dad promising it would be okay. “I’m blind.” The man’s chest stutters in a breath before measuring itself once more. In his slip of control, Red sees him clearly. Smoke fades in the face of the impressionist-like strokes of scent, sound, taste, touch. Can feel the heat as it leaves his body, the bruises blossoming all over his skin, the gunpowder stuck under his nails. “Yeah, you are.” The fatigue weights on him, seeps the energy out of his bones like a quiet stream. The oatmeal cools off. “Why is everything so loud?” Frank sighs, the air leaves him like a prisoner breaking free. Red feels it permeate the air. “I don’t know how you work, Red, really don’t. Just eat and go back to bed. It’ll get better, yeah?” A skip. Barely there. “Lie,” he mumbles. Frank’s heartbeat is a war-drum, a march of soldiers across no-man’s land. He sounded almost worried. Family? No. Red only ever had his dad. Friend? Unlikely. Red's no good at friends. “Are you my boyfriend?” Frank snorts without humor. “Nah, Red. You don’t like me very much. Just eat your food.” He stands up, footsteps fading where the fog dampens the fire. The noise rises in his right ear as he eats, spoonful by spoonful of lukewarm oatmeal. He can’t keep it in his stomach for long.   CONCUSSION   Nothing in the room can go back. The ashes couldn’t be paper again, the paper couldn’t return to its parental linen rags.     3 days earlier;   Frank can’t find a pulse. He curses, fingers slides wetly and slips in blood, presses them deeper into the same spot. The puddle keeps growing, nothing thrums under his digits - there’s no f***ing pulse. And he was too goddamn late. He keeps his hands close to the absence of a heartbeat and hangs his head. Sh*t, this wasn’t supposed to happen. It wasn’t supposed to go down like this. He lets go of the cold, progressively colder neck and curses at the sky, gathering the strength to face Red. He’s still mumbling, lips twitching and moving uselessly, crimson-tinted. His eyes are huge and dazed as if drugged, eyelashes clumped together with dried blood - he’s covered in it. Envelops him like a second skin, a sick kind of clothing. He stands up from the wet puddle under his feet, stains the few parts of gray concrete ruby where he steps and crouches by Red’s shivering figure, tries to find the source of the blood dripping down heavily over the side of his neck and painting his dislocated shoulder the color of his old suit. “Ah f***!” It’s small, can’t be wider than three, maybe four inches and a half, but the broken, elevated bone in Red’s skull gave way to his brain, hidden among tufts of auburn blood-soaked hair. Frank curses and steps back - has to work through his mind on what he knows of head injuries, anything from boot-camp to his experience on the field. Files the do’s apart from the don’t and what he’s equipped to deal with on his own. Goes through the information with single minded focus as he motions to the side and rips the shirt of a twitching, dying man in the warehouse floor. The bone hadn’t pierced the brain and there didn’t seem to be any parts pressed inwards, which counted for some measure of relief. He was extra careful moving him even then, supporting his neck. Red was still mumbling, huge eyes blind and lost to the tar-like emptiness surrounding him from all sides. “Sh*t, Red, work with me. C’mon, kid, work with me.” “Ahn- mhn- nnn-” “No,” Jesus Christ, he’s not doing this. He is not going to do this, not here. “No c’mon, kid, you don’t die here.” Frank holds on to a lifeline, attempting to press the cloth to stop the bleeding without disturbing the bone. Shifts his body to wrap a tourniquet around the bullet wound in his thigh, the knife slash across his stomach bleeds freely and gets the too-thin scrap soaking wet. He takes his own jacket off and presses against it, one hand still holding his nape to keep his head off the ground. It starts off like a twitch before Red’s whole frame seizes. Muscles contract and loosen, Red’s body snaps alive and deteriorates at the same time. Castle uses his whole weight to press his chest down to the blood-stained concrete and keep his neck still so he won’t hurt himself further. “Come on, Red, hang in there.” The gunshot to the thigh, the broken ribs, the dislocated shoulder and the slash to the stomach Frank can deal with. Sh*t is way less concerning than the piece of brain he could see and the seizure. Red is a live, pulsing wire in his arms until it seeps off him like an ill-fitting suit and he goes limp in Castle’s arms. He makes sure to put the shoulder back in place, secures the crimson-tinted wraps around the kid’s right thigh and lower stomach. Shifts him in his arms to brace his neck as best he can without proper equipment and holds the cloth to the bleeding wound. Thick ruby liquid drips on the ground and splatters his combat boots when Frank gets Red up. He checks the unconscious and dead bodies around them - some mangled to some degree, others beginning to wake up and shook his head. This wasn’t his goddamn mess. He gets moving. Calculates next steps. If Frank takes him to the hospital, Red was as good as dead. Whole city would be looking for him, morning came. He sifts through the possibilities in his head before finding the only truly viable solution. This day couldn’t get any worse.     “Does he need surgery?” “I don’t know, I-” Frank’s got no time for this bullsh*t. Much less the kid. He takes one careful, deliberate look around the room before slanting his head towards the bloodied threshold; the dead bodies piled outside. “Your bosses are dead, Doc. You only get out of this alive if I let you, got that?” The wiry man couldn’t be older than fifty, but the severe lines of fear distorted his face, made him look older. Frank studies exit points lazily - he had them memorized by now. “You told me you needed the portable CT. You have it. Does he need surgery?” “Man, look, I dig bullets out of people, close up stab wounds. I’m not a neurosurgeon!” Frank looks around, stuck between the restlessness and measured composure. He rubs the handle of his colt at the scar in his head, presses the cold metal against the skull until it stings. He wasn’t a neurosurgeon, no, but he had good equipment. Everything a mob doctor could need to patch up sh*tbags, including some things Frank was sure was alien tech. The Italian family Frank had been planning on hitting before this whole mess started had a whole hospital fit in a room so they could keep out of sight, out of record. “See, Doc, people say you’re the best. If they’re wrong, I got no use for you.” Frank clasps his hands in front of his body, feels the tackiness of Red’s drying blood in his palm and presses them more viciously together before loosening his muscles by sections. “Do you know how to do this or not?” The man’s lower lip trembled, muscle caught in the limbo between giving in and giving out, dark skin shining bright with sweat in the artificial light. “His dura looks intact. Little extrusion of brain matter... I can,” doc sighs shakily, “I can make a wound debridement, put the bone back in place with some wire and stitch it together. But if his brain starts bleeding or if there’s any internal damage we didn’t see, there’s nothing I can do.” Frank chances a look at the kid, sprawled out in the metal table. Still mumbling - awake, and still fighting to live with every inch of strength he could gather beneath wax-like skin. The house, painted crimson in blood as it was now, stank of death and piss. His eyes meet the doc’s again, there’s no understanding or truce in the gaze, but acknowledgment. They’re doing this. Frank has no f***ing choice. “Get ready, doc.”     0500 hours sees the sun far from fully setting in the horizon but the cold is already creeping into Frank’s bones. He abandoned the van he had stolen from the Italians in a ditch far enough away from the forest so it would keep them from looking, although Frank seriously doubted there was anyone left after the bloodbath he left behind. Wheeling a stretcher through the woods is a challenge on its own but it’s good quality stuff and he makes do, shoving bigger rocks and rotting branches away from their path when necessary, covering his tracks when needed. Red is passed out in between the flimsy see-through sheets, head bandaged neatly with only a few bloody stains seeping through. The trees eventually give way to his cabin and Curt’s car. He checks the plaque twice, makes sure the numbers are ordered correctly, focusing on details that would give away anything other than the expected. The beehive eating away at his brain settles, if only just as he mulls the numbers over in his head. Details get past him, sometimes. Spill like water from his grasp, like Red’s blood from the fracture in his head. Splattering in no distinguishable pattern, thick like overheated jelly over Frank’s boots. Can’t help looking at the gauze holding Red’s head together and feeling the tingle over his own scar. The one Bill left him with. Curt is draping new sheets over the creaking, old bed on the corner when Frank bursts hurriedly through the front door, eyes checking the perimeter, counting the booby traps surrounding them in a backwards order. Tree branch, leaf pile, can grenade, bamboo whip, trip wire, nail spikes. The room had been scrubbed within an inch of its life and Frank can’t exactly put to words any kind of gratification as he undoes the latches holding Red to the stretcher. He had been up and moving since four in the morning, since the phone call and the warehouse and finding Red mumbling gibberish with his head open and covered in blood that wasn’t only his. “Curt,” his voice is thick with gravel and tar-like saliva when it croaks out of him, “gotta take a look at that wound.” “Slow down, Frank, we’ll get to that in sec.” He shakes his head but doesn’t protest further, he won’t interfere with a corpsman’s f***ing work. Never had before and won’t start now. The unease trickles to his jumping fingers and settles in the pit of his stomach like a reassurance - he’s left two battlefields, welcoming a third one. Red, Curt and him and making sure that Red’s brains stayed where they were supposed to. Curt puts a thermometer in the kid’s ear and holds it with one hand while he carefully untangles the end of the gauze with steady fingers. “Hold this for me,” Frank’s already moving, taking hold of the device and leaving Curt to his work. Had never been this close to the kid without gearing up for a punch and the wrongness is another poke at the wasps’ nest in his head. “Did he do it right?” The uneven tan of his forearms next to Red’s waxy parlor makes him look fragile like china. “The surgery, he got it right?” The corpsman exhales a huff - neither a put upon sigh nor a simple breath, something trapped in the mingling lines. “I’d need a head scan to know that.” Wants to say something useless, waiting for the temperature to stop rising and the thermometer to finally shrill out a warning, if only to see if that would get Red to wake up and stop looking like a corpse. Say something like he’s good. Because he’s an idiot and a sanctimonious a**hole but Red’s good, can’t argue with the truth of it. “Does it look right?” He doesn’t trust a mob doc to have done it right as he trusts Curt and he certainly didn’t trust one not to give Red’s identity in exchange for safety from the other gangs, and that’s why his body is cooling off with his bosses’ back in the Costa family mansion. “Doesn’t look infected but it could take a while to set in,” the thermometer beeps. Curt checks it and nods in passing. “Not high enough to be a fever, probably from the shock.” An open palm is presented to him and Frank doesn’t ask him what, just handles Curt the improvised head scan the doc had taken after Frank shoved a gun in the back of his head. His face twists in all kinds of complicated expressions before sighing heavily. “Was he unconscious after the hit?” “Was awake when I found him. Mumbling sh*t, wasn’t making much sense. Passed out right after I got him to the doc’s table.” “How long?” “Two hours maybe.” Isn’t sure, even when he says it. The details get lost in between bracing Red sideways in the table and watching the doc put the fracture piece of bone back in place after dosing him with something, wiring it up together precariously and pulling the torn up skin over it, knitting it together in the shape of a crescent right above Red’s right ear. “The surgeon got the place clean, put that piece of bone back in place and closed it.” Curt nods, frowning for a different reason entirely as he works the flashlight back and forth over non-responding eyes. “His pupils-” “He’s blind.” “Alright,” he took it in stride. Curt’s good at playing civilian but he’s still a soldier. Still trained for the job first, any and everything else later. Frank can't begrudge him for the shake of his head. Frank himself still found hard to believe the sh*t Red pulled without functional eyes. “At least they’re even.” Mumbles offhandedly, barely parting his lips as the slurred words work through the cracks. The blooming bruises starting under Red’s eyes were small but starting to spread. A mock-mask. Frank remembers it vaguely. Seeing the same bruising under his own eyes in the mirror back then, when that bullet shattered inside his skull and lodged in the soft tissue of his brain. Curt stands up from his looming, turning the flashlight off and sighing heavily, his whole frame moving with the weight of it that hangs oppressively in the air between them. “Fracture’s not the problem, Frank. They mostly heal on their own. Docs call it a compound fracture.” Curt snaps the gloves off his hands, throwing them over to Frank when he offers his palms. He sees it coming, sees how the situation downs on him - Curt prepares to fire the big guns and Frank fights the urge to square himself back against it, keeping his pose neutral. “If he has brain damage, though? He could bleed internally, Frank. His brain could start swelling, he could paralyze, stop breathing. If he gets an infection, the chance of saving him, Frank, Jesus.” Curt shakes his head, every motion a forewarn. “Risk is already high in a hospital, let alone in the middle of nowhere.” “What do I gotta do, Curt?” He cuts to the chase and the ex-corpsman is none too happy about it, pressing his lips together in silent disapproval. Frank could almost taste it in the air in the way he could still taste the sterilized surgical tools. A stench that wouldn’t go. “For at least six days, if you’re keeping him here,” he exhales, all the contents in his lungs leaving in a single heave. “You gotta sterilize the room. Clean it at least two times a day. His sheets will need to be changed everyday, his wound cleaned, the bathroom scrubbed every time you use it. You can’t touch him without washing your hands, can’t open the windows or you risk letting in dirt and bacteria.” Frank rubs a palm through his eyes until the skin around it stings and he moves to pressing his knuckles against his eyeballs, feeling the pressure build up, dark and bright spots dancing at the edges before he lets up. “Think I can do it here?” Curt turns to him, eyebrows raised in something that looked like resignation but Frank wouldn’t be all that sure. “You have any other choice?” It’s a fair question, one Frank would’ve answered truthfully, should’ve gotten the chance. He was nothing if not practical - if there was anywhere else he could’ve safely taken Red to, he would’ve. In a f***ing heartbeat. But there’s nowhere and here they are. Movement stops them both short of continuing the questioning: twitching fingers sing a prelude to wakening muscles and a dragged out, weak groan. Red moves subtly under the thin stained sheet, left arm fumbling for a grip before he lets go. Frank watches it, taking an involuntary step forward when it twitches again, fingers attempting to hold the fabric before eyes flutter open. “What’s his name?” Curt’s voice brings him out of the brief uncertainty and Frank’s eyebrows furrow down to meet at the bullseye between them. “Matthew.” Curt nods, pulls himself a rickety fold-up chair and sits closer to the bed. “Alright, Matthew,” he starts, his voice dropping to that soothing tone Frank had heard one too many times. “I’ll need you to stay still, you’re really hurt.” He’s dazed, still. Less so than when Frank found him, but his eyes won’t still quite stop moving around lazily. Every single movement too slow, as if limbs were being weighted down to the mattress. “Mhn,” sounds wrong coming off the kid. Too vulnerable, lacking a fight. Frank clenches his jaw and works his trigger finger against his upper thigh before taking a step to the side. “Eye response is good, that’s a four.” Frank’s gaze flickers from Red’s frame, coming back and forth from Curtis and settling back again. “Hell’s that?” “I need to know his level of consciousness. There’s a scale the docs use to track that. Might need to check it a few times. It usually gets better, but he could also step into a coma.” Frank frowns at the thought of it; locks his stare to Red’s owlish, blinking eyes and lets the severity of the situation wash over him like a wave. “Matthew, can you move your left fingers for me?” The silence drags viscerally in the wake of it and Frank feels each second like a brand searing into his skin. Numbers lining up at the seam of skin over his vertebrae. “Matthew,” Curt tries again, “Can you please move your left fingers for me?” Absence of movement takes a space bigger than Frank would’ve once thought it could. He waits for it - he and Curt hanging onto the edges as they swell, separate the before from the now and all its meanings. The cabin feels larger, all the empty spaces consuming the occupied ones. “Alright.” A sigh, Curt fumbles for his first aid kit and pulls an unopened suture needle from it. The sheets get pulled from Red’s blood-stained feet, stainless steels puncturing through dermis. Red’s leg jerks away from the pain like a snapped rubber-band. Curt’s assessing eyes drag to meet Frank’s gaze in doubt. “Looks voluntary, that’s a five. Not too bad. Matthew,” no response. No head tilting, at least not towards Curt. Red’s a blank sheet with nothing but bruises and stitches holding him together - every inch of him looked wiped clean. “Matthew, can you tell me how you’re feeling?” “Mhn, mhn-” “Sh*t,” the curse leaves him in a huff of breath, his eyes go up in useless search of something he wasn’t quite sure he ever fully believed in. Guy upstairs was either very fond of Red or not at all. “Matthew, can you tell me your name?” “Mmm, mmm.” Nothing more than sounds. The echo of Red’s words over the phone crackle like static around the shell of his ears, the ghost of his speeches and admonishments like a half-forgotten story he heard from someone else. “Verbal response is not good, that’s be a two.” Curtis stands up from the chair, flimsy legs creak and cry with the movement, slanting towards the slightly smaller leg precariously. Gloves get pulled off again, thrown to the side. “He’s got moderate TBI at best, Frank. These kinda injuries either get better or they don’t. He could be talking tomorrow and then falling into a coma the day after and there’s not a damn thing you can do here to stop that from happening.” Frank turns his gaze away, locks onto Red’s dazed form instead. “This guy should be in a hospital, Frank!” “Jesus Christ,” fingers find a thread to pull before ripping it out in a single tug. Frank interlaces them behind his head and he steps around Curt, pacing into the room. There was no doubt before, when he dragged Red away from that warehouse and brought him here. There isn’t going to be any now. He drops his arms. Turns back to his brother. “How do I know?” Curt sees it. Knows him long enough to know when he’s got his mind made up about something. “Bleeding,” he offers, an exhausted drag of his consonants, “from the ears, nose, eyes. Pupils dilated unevenly. Fever, seizures, loss of motor function.” Frank commits it to memory like he once committed the names and addresses from the Cartel, the Irish, the Dogs of Hell. Paralysis, fever, seizure, blood - abort mission, find Red a hospital. “Any of those happen, I go to the hospital,” turns his eyes up to meet Curt’s, “they’ll be able to help ‘im?” Curt’s shrug is every inch as tired as his voice had been moments before. “With any luck, maybe.” He turns to sit back down, fingers tracing the rusty edges of the fold-up chair. “You mentioned a mob surgeon?” “Yeah, was planning on hitting their headquarters a while back,” he scratches at his stubbled chin, eyes fixed on the grime stain on the window pane right by Murdock’s bandaged head. “Guy took a portable scan, ain’t sure if it was any good.” “Jesus, Frank,” words are just that now; words. No turning back from this and Curt knows. Frank’s gotta do his thing but that won’t stop Curt from doing his - from trying to knock some sense into him. He’ll push and Frank won’t buckle and Curt will eventually fold, if only for the time being. “He’s had head surgery, he should be on a ventilator! Of all the impossible things!” A hysterical, put upon breath breaks out of him as he sits down. Frank doesn’t offer him anything - it’s not the first time he’ll disappoint him and most certainly not the last. Frank will do what he gotta do and Curt knows that. Knows him. The taller man shakes his head once more, fingers rubbing at his eyes. “I’ll take a look at his wounds, make sure they’re clean.” The ex-corpsman dropped his hands from his face, right elbow leaning his weight into his thigh. “You sure you can’t take this guy to a hospital? There’s a serious chance he won’t make it, Frank.” Unprompted, his mind makes its way back to the bloody two-floor warehouse. The man in the stairs. “Yeah,” voice leaves in a wisp, barely there, shredded at the end. He clears the thick feeling bloating around his throat, perched under his Adam’s apple. “I’m sure.”     Frank thumbs the edge of the crumpled piece of paper, following Curt’s scrawl with a gunpowder blackened index, dried blood stuck under his short nails. Searches through the sh*t he had raided from the Costas. A bunch of drugs Curt advised him against using, some others that’d come in handy. Paracetamol, broad spectrum antibiotics - some sedatives, should they need them. A whole bag of cleaning products he had scrounged for and some he had bought. Supplies for his dressings, antibiotic creams and Vaseline, so the bandages won’t stick to the sutures. Red’s still deep asleep by the time he gets back, Curt reading one of Frank’s books absent-minded in a corner. They’ve been checking him from hour to hour. Nudging him awake and testing his reflexes. Taking his vitals, his temp, making sure his pupils were even and there was no bleeding. Frank scrubs the whole place down. Makes sure there’s plenty of antibacterial soap and hand sanitizer around, specially when he changes his bandages. The sutures over Red’s ear were reddish and still swollen and the dressings come out slightly damp with serous fluid and some bleeding, but Curt tells him it’s normal and Frank doesn’t overthink it. He’s got a job, he’ll do it. And he damn well trusts Curt to do his. By the time he’s done cleaning, the place doesn’t look the same, something odd creeping through the wooden floors. It’s not even about the stench of cleaning products or the lack of dust settling over furniture, but a presence hanging over the space. Red is a stain making itself known - and even small as he is, kid's got one hell of a presence. Doesn't demand attention but once you see it, it hooks you in and by God it won't let you go. Twenty-one hours later, Red wakes up on his own for the second time. At first, he’s twisting the sheets in pale, ghostly hands and making sounds leaden with fatigue. Frank has no idea how he does it. One second he’s pale and slumped in the clean sheets; the next, he’s jumping to his feet, swaying precariously over his toes, breath straining and erratic - shallow, panicked puffs of air leaving him as if he was being punched repeatedly over his ribs. “Red, calm down,” his voice makes him cry out in shock, which surprises Frank in turn, heart jumping and body gearing up. “Hey, quit it, you gotta lay down.” “No, no, I have to go, lemme go, I have to-” Frank attempts an approach, only for the younger man to jump a step back, knee bobbing underneath him like a spring, caught in the limbo between giving in and holding up.  “Red, it’s Castle-” his attempts to appease only serve to incense him more, and Frank can’t say he’s surprised by that. “Let me, I need to go, I need to, I have to- ” “Red, you can’t move yet!” Trembling, almost convulsing fingers close tightly around the hilt of a fire iron, dazed, panic-blown eyes jumping from one nothing to another. Curt is a new presence at the threshold when Red unsteadily brings the weaponized tool up to his chest, sweat gathering around his waxy features with the effort of pointing it towards them. If not for the dressings and bruises and the overall beaten down appearance, Red would look every inch the dangerous fighter Frank knew him to be. “Where am I?” He asks, a quiet choke of a sound. The bandage around his shot left thigh starts pinkening before the color darkens to ruby red that starts seeping through the gauze. “What’s- I need to go,” his voice wavers again. “I need- let me go.” Blood drips on the floor from the ruptured stitches. “Can’t do that, Red.” “Who are you?” Murdock interrupts again in a burst of sound, shaky as it was, it still echoed around the four old walls. Frank hands it to him, he’s got a lot of fight. Can see the recognition in Curt, too. Red was barely keeping himself together, but still he stood there, holding that fire iron up and displaying every intention to use it if necessary. “It’s Frank, Red.” He tries a step forward. “Frank Castle.” “Get away from me!” The marine does, palms up to the opposite wall, suspended in the air with all the things he had no idea how to answer. All the question he’d need to face once- “Where’s... where’s...” Frank sees it happening in those sightless eyes and looks away. Recognition comes and goes but it always, eventually fades. Only serves to allow the question a repetition. “Where’s...” “Hey, Red, you got your head hurt pretty bad. A lotta sh*t’s gotta be confusing right now, but yer safe here-” “No no no don’t come any closer!” Can barely recognize the Devil’s voice, the way it splinters in fear and disorientation. The shaking only gets harder, his joints seem to stretch against his skin, limbs jumping away from his torso as if needing to run away. “There’s something wrong-” a sob, broken as anything Frank had ever heard. “There’s there’s something wrong, I can’t- I can’t-” words mingle and turn to mush, consonants get eaten and mixed into an auditory scrawl. Slurring the middles and catching at the end on hitched sobs. Was a wonder that Murdock still managed to keep standing, the bandage around his leg darkening further into crimson. “There’s something- please, please take me home.” The distant ringing on his ear turns into a hive, the numbness of the swarm’s fluttering wings. Take me home, he had said years ago. Head bandaged, no wife, no kids. Dead even if he still didn't know it. “Take me home, please-” Murdock’s knees finally give in and Curt steps into the room, the mid afternoon sun painting a dream-like haze over them - over Red’s open sobbing and Curt’s mumbled, comforting words. “Please, take me home.” Frank dodges his gaze to the ceiling and leaves the room.     “He doesn’t know his goddamn name, Curt.” The man sighs dispiritedly in response and Frank wonders if this is where Curt will finally stop indulging him. No such luck. “You don’t know that.” “Did you see that? Huh? Did you see what I just saw?” The incensed tone barely registers over the ex-corpsman’s features, eyes lazily following the movement of the blunt kitchen knife cutting through the apple in his hand. Curt shakes his head, drops the fruit on the table. “It’s been barely a day, Frank. He’s been beaten half to death, shot at, stabbed, brained. You’d know something about it?” “What, you think I did it?” Deep black eyes search over his face, eyebrows slightly curved upwards, betraying the worry Curt couldn’t keep bottled up. When he finally gives in, he does so with a heavy, exhausted exhale; his whole frame moves with it. “I think you wouldn’t torture someone you think is worth saving, it’s what I think.” Curt shakes his head once more, eyes pressed closed. Frank’s seen it a million times before. Patience runs right out of him even while Curt tries to hold it as tightly as he can. “Why is he here, Frank? Who is this guy?” The question should cut or maim or injure something in him, the way it sounds like a shriek cutting through his eardrums. Slicing through them like butter. No such thing happens - he’s a man sitting by a window with all his systems geared up for a fight and nothing left to face but his friend. “Have nowhere to send him.” “That’s bullsh*t, Frank!” He wasn’t denying it. “All I can give you.” He shrugs, rolls his shoulder back when he feels a healing cut pull at the edges. Curt steps back from the conversation at the movement and so does Castle. Takes the time to observe the other, how he prepared for another approach, how he studied his angles the way Frank would always study a building’s layout and exits before stepping inside. “Look, I ain’t asking why a blind man got hurt the way he did,” it sounds like it’s exactly what he means to ask. Frank doesn’t give him anything. “But whoever had him wasn’t a fan. He has broken ribs, his lower abdomen is slashed, his left thigh shot through, his shoulder was clearly dislocated-” “What do you want, Curt? What do you want me to say?” “I want you to tell me you’re not neck deep in something too big again, Frank!” His exasperated tone turns desperate, the thick lump of worry suffers metamorphosis, hatches out of its chrysalis like hopelessness, resignation. “You don’t die on me, not again.” He presses his palm against his head, rubs a the tight shaved hair on top. “Sh*t, Frank, what happens when this guy goes into a coma, huh? What happens then?” “I take him to a hospital.” Frank closes his eyes, lets a long exhale flow out of his system. “Just gotta postpone that sh*tshow as long as I can.” Curt only stared, dismay a permanent fixture in every pulling, twitching muscle of his face. Frank thinks again about disappointment and bringing Red here. The warehouse and the phone call and the man in the stairs. “What have you got yourself into, Frank?” “Got no idea what’s going on, Curt,” not yet. He’s nothing if not tenacious and thickheaded. He has a goal in mind. He’ll achieve it. “No goddamn idea.” The Lieutenant’s eyes find Red’s sleeping figure as if on a whim. The kid was twitching in his sleep, hands moving from time to time. “Is he the one neck deep-?”

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