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Weaponized Human | Saliska

04/24/2021 10:28 PM 

Core History - Unchangeable Past.

This first chapter is for reference only, and is not playable, nothing here can be changedTo give that curious insight into her mind. Saliska was born to a woman who wanted to sell her child for money, taking up an offer from SheridanLabs to have all birthing expenses paid, given that they can experiment on the fetus. The desperate woman agreed. The mother did not survive Saliska’s birth, she paid the ultimate price for selling her fetus, and subjecting it to infusions with the DNA of creatures unknown. Saliska first memory was of staring up from her plastic-wrapped foam bed that was sunk into the concrete of her room, her right eye throbbing with pain as she lay in her bed unable to move staring up at the concrete ceiling, listening to the cries and screams of other children, and the soft trill, and beeps of machines. She around four at the time, though her birthday was even known to her she couldn’t be sure.  The pain was a constant companion for her. It’s all she ever knew. Sleep, eat, go to testing, return to the room, sleep eat, test, sleep eat, test. Some days she wouldn’t go for testing allowed to rest and recover, those were the best day! However those days were always followed by a trip to the back, the sleep mask would be placed upon her face and she would wake up in her stone room with new pain. She made it through, even as the other screams and whimpers of pain started to vanish to be replaced by new ones, she stood by. She Afterall had her caretakers Sori and Ruvi they brought her things and read her stories of the world. She loved them, She always looked forward to seeing them. Sori an older woman, whom brought her snacks, and read to her stories of mighty warriors who grew strong and took care of evil beasts for their kings. She would often remind Saliska that this was her duty as well, when she grew older she would be responsible just like the heroes in these stories to kill those who would seek to harm the world, and that she always had to try her best, and despite her pain, she had to keep going, it was her duty, and the greatest honor. Inspired by these noble tales the young Saliska believed she would be a hero, she would save people and all the pain would be worth it in the end. Ruvi an assassin assigned to teaching her how to kill, and follow Sori’s instructions on how to introduce the young child to the fine art of murdering those she was instructed to. He taking the young Saliska into dangerous situations from the time she was six years old. Showing her the worst of the world, taking her to the seedy side of town, and into the underground slave markets, black markets, and sites of snuff forms. To show the young child how awful the world was, to press her into thinking she was needed to help clean this up. He started having her kill under his protection in the homeless areas. By the time Saliska was ten she had assisted with twenty kills and had thirteen where she was able to do it herself without the need for Ruvi to assist her in any way, a fact the child was proud of.  More so as Sori and Ruvi both rewarded her extravagantly for each with a piece of chocolate, and even let her eat it all at once! She was so excited. One day she was given a strange kind of outfit, a plaid skirt and white top with a bow. It was a strange outfit she had never had to wear before. She usually dressed in her simple white dress and a jacket, that was kept in her room. However, it seemed she was going somewhere special today. She was going to be shown off as the first most successful prototype of a modified human assassin. She didn’t know what this day would bring but she was elated with her new outfit, the way the knee-length skirt flared when she spun was wonderful. She pulled her hair back into a ponytail, leaving only the front sections down, as she was trained to do she followed Sori out. This was strange, it was the first time Ruvi didn’t come take her, Sori never took her out she only visited and wrote on her little box. Saliska followed as they got into a dark car she sitting in the seat staring out the window her legs kicking a bit unable to fully reach the ground in the roomy SUV. The car pulling away she could never know how much this day would change her, and in fact, Sori couldn’t have guessed either.  Arriving it was Ruvi who opened the door on Saliska’s side, however his expression was unusually serious. Sori joining him in a matter of moments. They walking on either side of her she reached up taking their hands, Sori pulled her hand away, but Ruvi held it though he wouldn’t look at her. Something was certainly wrong, She asked who they would be killing today, Sori looked at her with a smile. “We are killing no one today, Today is your day to show off what you can do, there is a lot of people coming to see their new hero” She smiled at the child Saliska was overjoyed her green eyes lit up with exhilaration at this idea. She could hear people inside a lot of them, the voices were merging as one sound, they hadn’t gone far, she noted that they mostly just took turns and drove around. Ruvi had taught her how to tell the direction they were probably near where they had started. Even Ruvi spoke highly of her sense of direction, she would have to tell him in private about Sori’s poor ability to navigate that just put her in a near circle. It would have to be later though, she didn’t want Sori to take away this surprise and bring her home, she wanted these people to know she would be the next hero.  She stepping out into a bright light with them. A video ending with a strange voice announcing. “Introducing  Dr. Sorilla Shinava and Ruvin Curtols With their human weapon Saliska. You have seen her in action, this is her in the flesh! The voice called. To cheers dancing all around the large space. Ruvi releasing her hand and stepping away from her as he moved to open the door behind her. To her horror, he let in a true monster. A creature created like she by modifying DNA. IT was horrible to look at, if she knew what an Ape was she might have known the monster was once a gorilla, but now had a mouth more like an alligator. A thick tail like a monkey, and claws like a sloth the girl who was only a little taller than four feet the six-foot monster was indeed terrifying. Ruvi stepped out behind the creature who right now sat calmly a few feet from the door. She didn’t understand what was going on, nor why Ruvi left. Sori stepping on a riser which took her in the TV box, which left her alone with the beast. “It’s time for you to see her combat capabilities! Get your pocketbooks ready folks” Sori’s voice called above her too cheers. Her eyes widened She took a step back and tried to look for Ruvi, but he was gone. A bell rung the beast roared almost instantly and charged at her. She jumped away and rolled to get the distance. It lunging against she staggered away barely missing the loud clap of his jaws slamming shut near her ear. Terror on her face, which was shown clearly for all to see on the screens. That near-miss was all that was needed as her face went emotionless her green eyes locking on the beast, she pulled a few strands of her hair out and dashing forward however the beast caught her with that tail and flung her out of the way, the smaller form tumbled rattling the cage walls. A low growl escaping her as she got up. She did the same again, this time she was prepared for its tail, it caught her again, and she extended her nails, slashing the nerves of the tail as the beast screamed she slamming her knee into the creatures back getting another howl of pain as it’s arm swung around catching her in the stomach, she coughed out a scream as she hit the ground painfully. She wincing painfully as it howled in pain. Its eyes shifting to her mad with rage now it charged. She staggered to her feet. She rolled under the charging beast before jumping up using her feet to slash the creature's throat, blood splattering down upon her as the creature grabbed her by the leg and slammed her into the air than on the ground at full force, and audible crack as her shoulder was broken. The creature screaming in pain picked her up again by that leg and threw her, blood loss making it stagger. Saliska was covered in blood, bruises welting up already on her face and along her entire arm, her back bruised, ribs broken. However, she got up. The creature on its back now wallowing in its ever-growing puddle of ichor. She approached to finish it off as she was trained. A sudden “BANG” Rung out. The creature stopped moving, Saliska froze. She knew that sound, gunshot. The child looked to see Ruvi with his gun. She was a bit angry at that moment and glared he had left her to fight it and killed it before she could claim the kill as her own. (Kept the fight short as this entire thing is getting a little too long for my liking, I’m building a character, not a book) “THAT WAS MY KILL!” She yelled facing Ruvi who stood on the other side of the cage. Her voice amplified over the speakers. “You performed poorly you didn’t deserve the kill, Come were leaving” Ruvi’s voice demanded. Their conversation relayed over the speaker she walking slowly and painfully over to the cage. The screen flashing to tell the audience to put in bids for her services, it was near silent to hear ears her focus was that Ruvi had said she had done poorly. It broke her heart. She was taken outside, Sori lowering down into the cage. “This is your previous master model, taken down in moments by my prototype still in her development years!”  She called out. “A little more funding, and we can have twenty of these at her level in five years!” She called out to the group. Ruvi had gotten to know the girl, as a girl, and as a weapon. She walked with her outside into the open air, her body beaten and broken as she followed obediently and crestfallen behind him. He had seen every single test subject, and they had gone mad or killed themselves long before they reached this point. Saliska was the first success. Her fate was a dismal one. She would be sent to kill fight and fight until she was either killed, or she was no longer needed to be replaced by the versions the tests on her help create. He sighed softly. “Least it didn’t kill you, you did well avoiding it” He relented giving the girl a small boost of joy at the compliment. “Thank you! It was so scary!” She beamed a true honest smile, despite her injuries, and the deadly side of her that had shown its face just moments ago. “Did you see its tail! I wish I had a tail like that, I could block all kinds of attacks if I had a tail” She commented. Earning a small chuckle. “I suppose you could, but then you wouldn’t look human would you, it’s important you fit in, so you can blend in with others, a tail would not make that easy” He commented as he pulled her closer. Her defenses trained to be down with those she imprinted with he had no trouble sticking a needle into her arm, knocking the child unconscious. He carrying her back into the building and heading to the basement as the bidding continued. She was taken to the basement to the medical wing to have her damage assessed, she bandaged up, and returned to her cell while she was still resting.  The young girl would be checked out, and awaken the next day to a different world. The bidding concluded only thirty minutes after she left, her services officially for sale to the highest bidder. Her job as an assassin starting when she awoke. Sori appeared shortly after she woke up, the child's movements pained and slow from the battle. Though the increased adrenaline pumping through her kept her moving well yesterday, it was all but gone now. She remembered the fight, Ruvi taking the kill from her as she was not worthy to claim it. So when Sori appeared at the barred door to her room. She looked down. Ashamed of her failing. "They were impressed with the ability of their new Hero, and have already started putting in requests for you to help with, Ruvi will join you on your first few show you how to get around, but after you will get to be on your own to so your tasks, but do great we will have eyes on you at all times, so you will never really be alone" She smiled to the child. Sori pulling a chocolate bar out of her pocket and snapping off a square. "Here take this, and rest, but don't tell Ruvi, he is still a bit disappointed you let yourself get hurt so badly by freezing up, so try not to do that again alright Saliska" She smiled. Saliska quick to pick the chocolate up.  With that, her fate was sealed, as an assassin for the underground that paid SheridanLabs bills.  Her testing days over, her enhancements at an end. Her only focus was improving her skills and getting better at killing. Sori visited less and less, which hurt Saliska, who had always looked forward to her visits, and stories. Though Saliska could read, she read slowly, and her left eye implant often had trouble focusing on the page for long, she ending up reading closing that eye. They installed a tracker in her right wrist it tracking her heart rate, and location constantly.  At age 11 she was officially an assassin.   =She will spend a year as an assassin ==Story after that point will be picked up by RP and is Adjustable=   ((Ended up a book anyway ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ )) 

π•Ήπ–†π–™π–šπ–—π–†π–‘ π•°π–“π–Šπ–’π–ž

04/23/2021 05:52 PM 

Relationships and the many forms

AUTHORS NOTE: Since Rikku is a Multi-LI character I would like to give each character she ships with recognition and keep track of them here. They're all unique relationships in their own ways and they all matter. If you are not comfortable with this that is completly fine! We donot have to ship Rikku also loves friends, and honestly I look forward to Rikku having enemies, she was originally made to be a hated character by me, she takes all my weakness as a person and some of the things I dislike and turns them into a positive force. I remind myself playing her that things aren't ALL bad. FRIENDS:Nelly: Nelly is a fresh friend to Rikku but she's absoltely a cherished one. This relationship is fresh and really on the rocks but Rikku is determined to show Nelly she's just as precious as the rest. Gojo: This is less of a friendship and more of a mentourship, Rikku respects Gojo ore than most people and just wants to make him happy like she would any other human. Of course he seems happy all the time but if she's learned anything it's that perminant cheer is the best mask for pain and suffering. Yuta: The relationship with Yuta she currently has is similar to hers and Nelly's, fresh out the box. But having heard so much about him she feels like she already knows him. Though Yuta is younger than her she looks up to him quite a lot and would do anything to help him. Personally she doesn't fear Rika and hopes to befriend her as well. INTIMATE RELATIONSHIPS:Haku: Rikku has spent the most time with Haku and has developed a rather large crush on him, which he shares. They're two halves of a whole they didn't know they could be and are working out a very difficult time right now. They support each other the best they can and seem to be each others happy places. Rikku cherishes him over all else and he is the only one to see what her "true form" is. Not even Rikku understands fully that she has one. As boyfriend and girlfriend Rikku is eager for her first relationship but is very scared to screw it up. 

β€” The Blackest Night

04/23/2021 04:07 PM 

learn to love

Sometimes,Pain is like a hummingbird.Flitting here and there,Never staying in one place for too long.Sometimes,Pain is like a knife to the heart,Bleeding, an open wound,With no way for you to stitch it up.Sometimes,Pain is like a shattered mirror,You pick the pieces up,But there's no way to put them back together.Sometimes,Pain is like a waterfall,Crashing and thundering and roaring down,Never easing up.Sometimes,Pain is like an aching joint,Throbbing and pulsing,Always there no matter what happens.Sometimes,Pain is like a puzzle,Someone ripping you apart,Putting you back together the wrong way.Sometimes,Pain is like a secret told,Too many ears,Too many people.Sometimes,Pain is like a bullet,There for a second,And then you're free falling.Sometimes,Pain is like a bright light,Look at it too long,And you become blinded.Sometimes,Pain is like a game of torture,Daggers, blood, droplets,Salty water on the tip of your tongue.Sometimes,Pain is like a daydream,You know it's not real,But do you really want to stop dreaming?Sometimes,Pain is like a rainy day,Puddles of gloom,Each drop sending out ripples.Sometimes,Pain is like a fairytale,The dragon guarding the tower,The damsel crying in the shadows.Sometimes,Pain is like a shot,****** your skin,And you succumb to it.Sometimes,Pain is a bruise,You don't want to press it,But you somehow manage to.Sometimes,Pain is like a butterfly.Beautiful, wings of color,Until you taste the bitterness.Sometimes,Pain is a pleasure.Watching the blood run down your skin,Ripping you apart from your very seams.Always,Love will give you pain.Whether it friend or lover,Whether you forgive or not.I forgive,I forget,Because the pain won't go away,No matter how strong you are.So, my friend,Are you ready to forgive and forget?Or succumb to the pain,And never learn to love again?

β€” The Blackest Night

04/23/2021 03:48 PM 

You're Home, Frank

It has been a week since he came back, but to Frank it feels like he came home just yesterday. He can’t quite get used to the house, the way that furniture is arranged, the noise that the coffeemaker makes for some reason, nor the yelling and giggles of his kids running around while Maria yells for them to be quieter because “daddy’s tired and needs to rest”. To seven-year-old Lisa and four-year-old Frank jr. it makes no sense for their dad to be so tired when all he’s been doing since coming home is sleep and occasionally watch whichever game is on TV. Maria notices how jumpy Frank gets when he hears Frankie’s toy gun shoot blanks in the backyard, his whole stance changing in milliseconds from a father lounging on a couch to a revenant soldier ready to fight. It hurts her soul to see those shadows under his brown eyes, that haunted look that he tries but fails to hide from her in the rare moments they are alone. Frank is neither here nor there it seems, because the blank expression he often gives her when she asks him something lets her know she might be losing her husband and she doesn’t even know to what. In an effort to ease things a bit for him and give them some time for themselves, Maria arranges sleepovers for the kids, much to their enjoyment. Lisa is over the moon because this will be her second sleepover and Frankie doesn’t really care as long as he can bring his favourite toy truck with him. Frank insists on accompanying her and the kids under the guise of taking a walk though Maria doesn’t let herself be fooled. He's extra vigilant as they are walking down the main street of their neighbourhood, eyes darting from left to right on the lookout for any threat. The kids are walking in front of them, arguing over something but Maria can't quiet pay attention to that when all her senses are focused on her husband. Frank’s holding her hand firmly in his, and when she looks up at him he gives her a barely noticeable smile that doesn't even reach his eyes. Smiling back, Maria holds back tears because she doesn’t want to worry Frank or the kids, as much as this ever growing change in her husband is ripping her apart. As they drop the kids off at their friends’ houses, the parents greet Frank and her, inquiring about when he came back and for how long and thanking him for his service. There’s that forced smile again, Maria thinks when she glances at her husband as his hold on her hand tightens even more that she’s afraid he might break her fingers. When the doors close and they are on their way back, Maria subtly extracts her hand from his, massaging it with her other hand to ease the pain Frank unwittingly inflicted. Frank takes one look at her and her hand that bears imprints of his rough fingers, but it is enough for shame to fill his body as his eyes meet hers and without a word, he retreats a few steps to his right so that he is in no way touching her again. Maria mouths to say something but Frank’s bowed his head, obviously avoiding any kind of interaction. It hurts her, her own pain and his, as unfamiliar as she is with it. Anything she wanted to say dies in her throat and she trains her gaze on the mailboxes by the sidewalk, swallowing back her tears. Again. A few moments of awkward and uncomfortable silence is broken by a loud screeching sound of car tires and something popping and suddenly Frank is yelling ‘down!’ and pushing her on the ground, his body covering hers from head to toe as she screams in confusion and fear, panic rising in her. She can’t feel her arms or her legs, her whole body immediately going numb. “Fra-Frank! Frank, wh-what’s happening?” It seems like forever before Frank rolls off her and she’s finally able to move, her body shaking in shock, her mind fuzzy because she doesn’t understand what happened. Frank’s hands on her arms as he gently helps her to her feet ground Maria in the moment just as a ‘I’m sorry, baby’ drops from his lips, along with a tear that rolls down his cheek and falls on his shirt. Maria’s mind is still hazy as she tries to grapple the scene before her that she almost misses it. A few people have rushed out of their houses and are now looking at the two of them like they were some kind of aliens. The car that was passing by them has stopped in the middle of the street, the driver, all red in the face, yelling something that try as she may, Maria can’t hear. *      *       *       *      *     Her whole body is still shaking when they enter their home, their whole walk back completely erased from her memory. Frank sits her on the couch and leaves, only to return with a glass of water. He kneels in front of her, hands resting on her knees as she gulps down the cold liquid, searching for a way to ask Frank, calmly, what the f*** just happened. “Maria, baby. I’m- I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to scare ya like that.” Frank’s lips tremble as he apologises, his eyes brimming with tears. Maria’s heart is pounding so hard she can hear it in her head and her breathing is barely under control. Looking at Frank, at this man kneeling before her hunched, ashamed, and ready to give up shakes her from the shock she’s been in enough for her to gather some of her scattered wits. Leaving the glass on the coffee table, Maria tentatively takes Frank’s hands in hers and notes it’s the first time she has held them, really held them, since he came back. Her eyes follow the lines of his palms when she turns his hands over, counts the calluses on his fingers, and memorises all the little scars that made his hands different than those of a man she married. “I-I thought I heard a gun. I-I wanted... I was scared for you.” His voice breaks and tears free themselves just as he leans his forehead on Maria’s knees and she cups the back of his head, lips pressed against the crown of his head. “Oh, Frank. You’re home, baby. You’re home and you don’t have to be scared for me. We’re safe, Frank. You’re safe,” Maria tells him caressing his head, repeats it over and over again until it’s seared into his mind and hers, until she can’t hear her husband cry anymore, until his shaking body finally settles, until her own tears dry out and all that’s left is their laboured breathing and occasional sobs. Frank doesn’t tell her what he’s seen overseas, doesn’t tell her what he himself has done, what he’s seen others do, and Maria knows better than to ask him. Frank has his demons and likes to keep them locked inside, far away from her, from their kids and their life. They are big and ugly and scary, just like the monsters from those bedtime stories parents read to their kids. Frank likes to keep them locked inside until he goes back there, until he unleashes them on their country’s enemies and obliterates them, one by one. Until then, they are locked inside, lurking behind those shadows in Frank’s dark eyes, hidden behind Frank’s trembling hands and the hollow expressions of his face. “I’m so sorry, Maria. I’m so sorry.” Lifting his chin, Maria looks him straight in the eyes, waits a moment until she’s sure Frank’s is watching her before she assures him, again, that they are all safe. Taking his hand then, Maria leads him upstairs to their bedroom though her legs are wobbly and her steps unsure. When she closes the door behind them, her confidence surges at the sight of her husband looking at her as if she was his candle in the dark and that small smile that is so Frank and that this time, does reach his eyes. They don’t say another word that night. Not one as Frank presses kisses into her neck and shoulders and simultaneously unzips her dress. Not one as Maria unbuckles his belt and pushes down his pants, only sighing when his teeth graze her throat. Not one as she climbs on top of him on their bed, in their bedroom, and Frank’s rough, calloused hands roam her body, grabbing onto every curve she has with tenderness she ached for with all her being. Not one as he thrusts into her for the first time since he came back home and Maria finally feels complete. Not one as they both cry again that night, locked in each other’s embrace and Maria comforts him and herself. You’re home, Frank, You’re finally home, baby. We’re finally together, is all Maria can think about but it never occurs to her to say it out loud for fear of ruining the moment, of breaking this sweet spell that befell them after being apart for more than a year. *        *        *       *        * In the morning, it doesn’t even cross her mind to leave their bed. Instead, she snuggles closer to her husband as his strong arms hold her and his warm body reminds her he’s really with her. Smiling as she kisses his shoulder briefly, Maria tucks her head under Frank’s chin and falls back asleep with Frank’s hand splayed on the small of her back.

β€” The Blackest Night

04/23/2021 03:43 PM 

Nutshell

We chase misprinted lies~   It wasn’t that Frank hadn’t disliked the house, it was just it wasn’t his first choice. Then again, materialistic objects had never been appealing to someone like him. It had been Maria, his wife, his love, his sweetheart; who had practically jumped for joy upon seeing the home. Six months pregnant and there she was, bouncing on her toes, wrapping her arms around her husband and cooing, “This is it, Frank, this is where we start our lives.”   We face the path of lies~   Maybe the reason why Frank had never really felt an attachment to the home was because he had barely spent time in it. It felt like just when they had gotten settled, just when she had popped out a kid - he was gone. Sorry, honey, but my country needs me. I know we just bought a car, have mortgage payments, and Frank Jr. isn’t even walking, but I gotta go. Always had to go. And she always just smiled. His Maria, so understanding. “Go get ‘em, honey” she’d say, “I’ll give ya hell when you get back.”   And yet I fight,   And yet I fight,   This battle all alone~   It never felt like Frank was more at home than when he was overseas. Fighting. Next to his brothers and sisters in arms. They all had lives back in the states or at least that’s what they called it. Lives. But, that wasn’t it. Because their actual lives were right where they were and it was with their family, people who loved them that felt the most foreign and out of place.   No one to cry to~   No place to call home~   How f***ing ironic that after all those years of taking sh*t for granted that Frank sat in his empty home, all alone. Lights off. Faintly remembering the hint of laughter that once echoed through these walls. The same walls he’d look at and scrunch his nose at, “I hate the color” he’d say. And his wife would tell him he wasn’t home long enough to warrant being able to critique.   Running his hands outwards, on the same table they’d sit to eat dinner at, Frank closed his eyes and imagined it all. Once upon a time he was a Catholic, just like he told Red. He’d ask his kids to say grace and then they’d get to work on the food - knowing his kids were already sneaking small bites during the prayer. He never scolded them - how could he? They were just hungry and daddy was home. Who knew how long that would last?   My gift of self is raped~   My privacy is raked~   Oh Maria, baby, thank God you ain’t alive to see what your husband has become. To see the circus that they put him through during his trial. The nickname they gave him. The way they dissected him like a f***ing frog on an operating table. Jesus, you’d be so ashamed you’d pack the kids away and take them to your mother’s. Because your man was no longer your man - who was Frank Castle? Because she ain’t ever met him before.   And yet I find~   And yet I find~   Repeating in my head~   Standing up, Frank slowly walked away from the kitchen table. It was the first time, in a long time that his body felt heavy. There was a pull that wanted him to stay in the chair. Stay in the fantasy that everything that had happened had been a bad dream. That it wasn’t real and that Maria had made him his favorite meal and they were going to have dinner - as a family.   If I can’t be my own~   As if on autopilot, Frank made his way to the living room. His eyes were looking at nothing in particular, but his eyes were focused on the picture frames above the fireplace. He didn’t want to look at them. Didn’t want to live in the fantasy anymore. Because, the massacre had been real. His family was dead and he was never gonna read his baby girl a bedtime story ever again.   Eyes settling on a family photo they had taken at Jones Beach, Frank just allowed himself to swirl in the numbing memory of that day. Of the sun hitting his skin - his boy building a sand castle. Maria bouncing his baby girl on her knee. She had made sandwiches for them all and he’d been stuffing one in his face as his wife teased they should have another kid, “maybe this one will make you stay.”   Slowly taking out his gun, Frank continued to look at the pictures. Another kid. Maria wanted another child. Thought she needed to bribe him with a way to stay home. But, baby, I gotta go. My country needs me, but I promise it’ll be the last time he was at war. Heh, didn’t he know? He pressed the gun against his temple, he’d never stop being at war.   I’d feel better dead.

β€” The Blackest Night

04/23/2021 03:41 PM 

i (won't) crucify the things you do

Billy is too pretty for war. That's the first thing that Frank thinks when he wakes up most mornings, in the steaming hot barracks where the sun's already beating it's white-gold rays down on the kingdom of green and brown and crimson red that they fight across day in and day out. Billy is too pretty for war, with his sharp cheekbones and long nose and sparkling eyes and prim lips and white enamel teeth. Billy is not something that's been stained, somehow, by all the horror that the war has wrought on them; he's a perfect thing, a diamond absolute, that Frank wakes up to and thinks is too pretty for war most mornings. Not this morning. This morning, Billy's hair is mussed, dark strands falling in his face and his back is arched over the sink as he vomits, the aftereffects of a virus leaving his system having left him confined to the barracks for what feels like weeks, now. It's really only been one, but it's been hard for Frank, not having his best friend out there with him, even considering how hard the opposite can be, some days. Frank smooths a big hand down Billy's back. The gun-callouses on his palms catch rough on the hewn fabric of the other man's tank top, and Billy shivers at the hot touch of contact on his clammy back. He leans his forehead against the sink and spits a couple of times for good measure, trying to get the sour taste out of his mouth as much as possible before rinsing it the rest of the way. Frank is silent and monolithic behind him, a watchful protector that doesn't offer any words of pity. That doesn't bother the soldier; he doesn't need pity from anyone, not even from his best friend. What does bother him is that when he's done vomiting, Frank doesn't move his hand. He keeps rubbing Billy's back with an overly gentle hand, rhythmic and smooth for all the rough skin. His blunt nails bite into the nape of Billy's neck, and gently rub down among the cold sweat, a slight bite of chill on his spine when Frank repeats the gesture making him shiver again. He stares at his reflection in the crystalline drops of vomit in the sink, and then switches on the faucet and rubs his face with tepid water before scooping into his mouth and swishing it around. Frank straightens up as Billy does, from where he was leaning beside the other soldier. The two of them have very little in common, outside of a coating of black scruff on their faces; Frank's hair is choppy, cut with abandon, and only styled by his hands running through it a few times a day when he's thinking. Billy's is carefully trimmed close to his scalp once a month or so, and he has carefully regimented the product he was afforded on base so that he can keep it combed neatly when it grows out. Frank is also easily a head and a half taller, one of the tallest guys in their platoon, and has minimally fifty pounds of muscle more than Billy does on his wiry frame. Frank is a hulking shape; Billy is a slender one, though certainly not waifish by any means. Finally, there's their eyes; Frank's are a chilly blue, full of electric energy, whereas Billy's are dark voids, unreadable and flat. "Can you believe I spent our last week out here sick as a dog?" Billy chuckles dryly, turning to face Frank with a wry grin cutting its way across his features. Frank frowns. "This is no laughing matter, Bill," he grunts, serious as ever. His heavy brow hangs low over his features, and his muted glare says it all, so Billy stops grinning and sobers himself before he pisses his best friend off too badly. He glances at the door to the barracks, and, deciding that everyone is probably on patrol, knits his fingers into the collar of his fellow soldier's dark olive toned vest, blinking up at him. Frank's hands come up and wrap his fingers around Billy's wrists, fingertips forming these tiny electric spots against the shorter man's pulse that send his heart into overdrive. "Bill," Frank warns, eyes shooting over to the same door Billy had just considered. "This isn't-." "It's not what, Frank?" Billy asks. "Not the time? We don't have any other time left. Listen, I'll brush my teeth real quick, and then we can screw around. Just this one last time, before we head back home. Then we'll forget that any of this ever happened, and everything will go back to normal." "Someone could come in," Frank says, voice low in his chest, a baritone rumble. His eyes are on Billy, though, and the blue in them is fire-hot, so the shorter soldier knows he's already won this argument, like he has every time that the taller has tried to sway him to wait on their final tour here in Vietnam. There's no argument, really; Frank wants Billy as bad as Billy wants Frank, so that's that. "No one's going to come in," Billy whispers. He turns to the sink and grabs his toothbrush and paste, quickly scrubbing his teeth and tongue and cheeks. When he turns around, Frank is standing by his cot, vest off and olive green shirt unbuttoned to his waist, only the back still tucked in. The sleeves are still rolled up, and he's toying with one of them as Billy walks over to him, wrapping his arms smoothly around the taller man's neck and kissing him deeply. Frank, for all his bluster, kisses back immediately, and tugs Billy against him with his hands spread broadly across Billy's lithe back, even as the shorter man's fingers slide into his messy black hair and urges him to tighten their embrace. Frank's heart is slamming against his ribs. Billy's is, too. He's smooth where Frank is rough, shaved chest where Frank's is dusted with hair, and they fit together like puzzle pieces, Billy straddling Frank when they fall onto the bed and their hands lace together. Frank's fingers are thick and blunt. Billy's are thin and deft. They are the perfect instruments to complement one another, or at least that's what Billy's always though, and their time in Vietnam has only proven him right. The lines between them have turned blurry, turned from a pair of best friends to something edging towards more, turned to a brutal report from an M60's coughing cackle and the silent hiss of a blade through the undergrowth working in tandem, one drowned out so effectively by the other... Billy loses track of his own metaphor when Frank grinds up against him, and he groans audibly. The bigger man clamps a hand over his mouth to quiet him, and he sucks one of Frank's fingers into his mouth and licks around the pad of it smoothly. He's taught his tongue to do the devil's work, during their time overseas. "F***, Bill," Frank mumbles, his voice as warm as Frank Castle's voice gets, and Billy stops himself from smiling around the other man's digit before he gives the game away. Frank's free hand fumbles their belts open clumsily, like the blunt instrument he tends to be; Billy helps him absently, fingers flickering in sparking motions across the metal clasps and parting the leather to either side. He desperately wishes they were able to do anything more than this, but he'll settle for blowjobs and hand jobs if that's all he can have, so as soon as Frank is dragging himself free of his standard issue boxers- olive drab, like everything, f***ing everything- Billy lets go of his finger and crawls down to coil between Frank's legs and wrap his mouth around the other man. Frank gives a long, hoarse sigh, like he's been waiting for this for a long time, despite trying to argue with Billy that they really shouldn't do this today. Billy, as always, is proven right, and he's all the better for it, hollowing his cheeks around his best friend and going to work. "F***, Bill," Frank repeats himself. Billy has learned that his best friend is a broken record in bed, which never seems to get old to him, for some reason. It could. It probably even should. All the same, no matter what, it doesn't. Billy tries to take in every moment of what they're doing right now; tries to remember every minute detail, tries to commit to memory the way that Frank's hand goes from tentative and gentle on the back of his head to heavy and dominant in a way that he shouldn't enjoy as much as he does. He knows that this is likely the last time he and Frank will do this, after all; after today, they're going home, and they'll be on troop transports until they're stateside, where Maria and Frank Jr. and Lisa will be waiting for Frank, to whisk him back to the house they bought in the suburbs with his paychecks. He'll be sequestered someplace Billy will never be able to reach him again, and as hideous as it is, it makes Billy furious- so furious. He brushes his fingers around Frank's base and pumps as he sucks, doing his best to make this the best blowjob of Frank Castle's life. If there's one thing he wants to do right, it's this; maybe, he thinks, just maybe, savagely, he'll be able to make Castle remember him forever as his best, despite that he'll never get to do this again. There's fever-heat in his motions, and jungle-heat in the crevices of their lovemaking, and sweat-heat building on Frank's skin. There's so much heat between them it's almost unbearable in the balmy air, but Billy weathers it and focuses on the cold fire of Frank's blue eyes, half-lidded, as they watch Billy take Frank into his mouth time and again. Eventually, those blues are hidden from sight as eyelids fall closed across them, and lips part to release pointed sighs and gasps- Billy doesn't hesitate to continue with fervor, not wanting to give Frank a single inch. He refuses to, in fact. There's going to be no forgetting this, he thinks, his voice blaring in his mind, there's going to be no leaving Billy behind once they return home, no matter what Frank might want. There's something dark and selfish about that, but dark and selfish has never bothered Billy Russo a single time in his entire life, so he smiles as he sits back and wipes his mouth, watching Frank's chest heave as his arms lay behind his head, baring his all as he lays across his shed shirt and pants below his thigh, fuzzy thighs. Then, they get dressed, and not a moment too soon; the roar of a massive engine coming in hot alerts them that their transport is here to take them home, and in come the other soldiers in a steady trickle to get their things. Billy follows suit, and feels Frank looking at him, but refuses to look back just yet. He might as well at least see if playing hard to get can make this thing between them go on, after all. ~ Frank lends Billy his vest on the return home, because it gets cold in the transport when they reach the edge of New York. Billy wraps it gratefully around his shoulders and surreptitiously inhales his best friend's scent from the collar, "Well," Billy says, when they're standing across from each other in the airport, Maria and the kids a few feet away, leaving him keenly aware that there's no way he can be as honest as he wants to be, "it was a pleasure doing business with you, Frankie." "You, too, Bill," Frank says, roughly, and tugs the shorter man in for a bear hug. His arms are heavy and warm around Billy's shoulders, and Billy tucks his jaw into the edge of Frank's neck, shutting his eyes and trying one last time to memorize the shape of Frank Castle's embrace, the feeling of his heart beating a steady thump against the inside of his ribs when their chests meet. He isn't done when Frank steps back, so it's an incomplete image in his mind, but he supposes there's no chance at getting a moment longer. Without another word, Billy casually salutes, waves to Maria, Frank Jr., and Lisa, and turns around, pacing away. He doesn't expect to hear from Frank for weeks, if not longer. He expects it'll take that long for the other man to manage to compartmentalize away what they did in Vietnam, but instead his phone rings seven days later on the dot and he answers it as he tucks it between his cheek and his shoulder with a side-long, "Hello?" "Bill," Frank's voice says, gruff and serious as ever. "You want to get some drinks?" Billy spends a solid five seconds trying to figure out what's going on. Is Frank having trouble letting go of Vietnam? Does he have too tight a hold on the dark things that happened, and can't release them any more than Billy ever could? That seems impossible, because Billy's always felt the darkness inside of him; it's only grown as a result of the things that happened there, so it can't be that Frank is having as difficult a time with it as he is. Can it? Billy certainly doesn't entertain the passing thought that Frank wants to continue their arrangement from overseas. That would only lead him to suffering, and he prefers selfishness, so he doesn't bother. "Sure," he says, after he decides it's been an inappropriately long time since Frank asked, and he hasn't yet given an answer. "How about that place we went on my twenty-first? You know the one, right?" "How could I forget," Frank says, his voice not lilting, not filling with amusement, just a recognition of the history of that particular bar. Frank never thought that Billy's escapades were nearly as funny as the latter thought they were, so perhaps that makes sense. "See you there?" Billy asks, instead of continuing with that train of conversation and potentially turning Frank off entirely to the idea of them getting together to drink and do whatever the hell Frank is intending that they do. "Yeah, Bill," Frank grunts. The line clicks dead, leaving Billy to wonder what exactly is going on; he gets ready with this question in his mind, putting product in his hair to gel it into shape and spraying on some cologne on his wrists and his neck. When he feels satisfactorily prepared for the occasion, he locks his door behind him and heads down the street, walking the few blocks to the bar they'd agreed on. He gets a paper when he arrives, and reads the headlines. There's a bunch more of the weird and wild appearing in the world, of late; a giant monster called the Hulk, a man in a suit of metal armor called Iron Man, a man and woman capable of shrinking to minuscule size called Ant-man and the Wasp... It's enough to make a lesser man's head spin. Billy doesn't think anything could surprise him, though, after learning about Captain America, not to mention the subsequent experiments, like that involving Isaiah Bradley, so he doesn't really react to all of the headlines. He's almost done reading when the door opens and closes and a heavy, cloying presence appears at his shoulder. He looks back and does a double-take at the sight of Frank standing there with his choppy mess of hair slicked back and his fists jammed awkwardly in the pockets of a heavy black leather jacket. "Frankie?" he asks, eyebrows probably shooting up just about to his hairline. "That really you, man?" "That's really me," Frank says, and offers a hand for greeting. Billy takes it, gives it a single firm shake, and then lets go dutifully. Until he understands where he and his best friend stand, now, he's not making any advances too direct, especially not when they're in public and people can see what they're getting up to. The bar, after all, is not nearly empty. "What happened?" Billy chuckles, gesturing at his fellow soldier as the other man sits down and waves for a beer from the bartender. "Maria got me a homecoming gift," Frank grunts, adjusting the jacket with a tug on the lapels. A couple of loose strands of hair he hasn't got caught in his slicked back hair shiver at the motion, and Billy surpasses a motion much the same. "She thought I deserved it, after everything I went through overseas, even though I told her that the house was good enough for me." "Well, forgive me if I think that the jacket is the better gift," Billy says, smiling. "It's a damn nice jacket." "It fits like a glove," Frank agrees, glancing at his arms, his shoulders. Billy has to admit that it does; it hugs his broad frame just right to accentuate his strong build without being too slim a fit. Realizing that he's staring with a grin on his face, probably looking like a love-struck dumbass, Billy shakes himself internally. He claps a hand on his best friend's back and nods. "How are Maria and the kids?" he asks. "They've gotta be glad to have you home, big man. Lisa still a little asskicker?" "She certainly kicks Jr.'s ass," Frank says dryly. "I'm half convinced she'd kick my ass, if she tried. She's got a bug in Maria's ear about going on a family picnic, soon, down to Central Park. She wants to go to the zoo after, see the animals. I don't know what animal is her favorite, Bill. You know that? I don't know my own kid's favorite animal. Not even her favorite f***ing color." "Hey," Billy says, surprised at the sudden turn. "That's okay, Frankie. You're home, now. You've got all the time in the world to get to know what her favorite color is, and what her favorite animal is. You can take her to the zoo every day, if that's what she wants. You've got the rest of your life to make memories with those kids, right?" "Right," Frank sighs. His shoulders slump slightly, and he glances at the slighter man. "Thing is, Bill, I feel like I'm not their dad anymore. Being over there, it changed me. I don't remember how to be the person who isn't at war anymore." "You'll remember," Billy says confidently. He knows that Frank's always been a fighter, but he's also always been a lover; intensely proud of people when they do good and intensely disapproving when they do bad, he's got a strong sense of personal morality and a love for humanity that Billy thinks is admirable, if unachievable for himself. Frank doesn't have the same inborn dark place that Billy does inside of him; he's a good person, deep down, and Billy is sure that that will always win out in the man that Frank Castle is, before anything else. "You think?" Frank asks, gruff. He's eyeing Billy sideways, and his blue eyes are shining in the dim light of the bar, and Billy suddenly wants nothing more than to sweep his arms around Frank's neck and kiss the pitiful look off of his face. His best friend looks like a kicked dog, and Billy recognizes it all too well. He hates it. "I do," Billy confirms solidly. "You're a good guy, Frankie. A good dad. You'll figure it out. Just give it time." "If you say so, Bill," Frank mumbles, and sips at his beer before bypassing sipping entirely and taking a long, deep pull from the bottle instead. They make small talk and shoot the sh*t the rest of the evening, all the while with Billy dancing around the topic he really wants to discuss. By the end of the night, he's tired to the bone and he's slumped against Frank's shoulder when they exit into the cold night air at two in the morning, an arm slung loosely over his best friend as he takes in a few breaths to acclimate himself. He straightens up after a moment and scratches his jaw, where his whiskers are coming back in nicely after shaving upon his homecoming. Frank's own face is lined in a stubble shadow. "I'll see you around, Bill," Frank says. "Yeah," Billy agrees. "See you around Frankie. And, hey!" Frank, having begun walking away, turns back around, one eyebrow cocked with questioning as Billy grins at him widely, arms thrown up in the air to get his best friend's attention back if only for a moment. "Take them to that picnic for me, would you? That's a good start. That'll give you something to start with. The rest'll come naturally. Promise me that?" Frank chuckles. He looks happy, and it makes Billy's chest throb in a way that's almost foreign. His eyes are shining, glittering, even, when he looks back up from scuffing his boot against the curb. He looks, despite all the hard good looks that make him handsome, for an instant, pretty. Too pretty for war, too pretty for Billy to consider him as anything but a perfect thing, a diamond absolute in this sh*t-stained world. "Promise me, Frankie!" he says, before he can let himself say anything else instead. "I promise, Bill," Frank says decisively, and then casually salutes, steps off the curb, and walks towards home, leaving Billy to make his way in the other direction through the melting remains of the late spring snow. A warm wind has moved in, bringing the final throes of spring to a close; summer is almost here. With it, Billy thinks, he doesn't know what will come... but he hopes, thinks, it will be good. ~ Frank's family is killed in the crossfire of a shootout in Central Park the next day at high noon. Billy doesn't know what to think when he attends the funerals for Maria and the kids, staring at the closed coffins and breathing between barely parted lips as he tries to remember, tries to commit to memory, what his godson and goddaughter looked like before this sudden turn of events. He'd been waiting to see them until things between he and Frank weren't so strange, had just barely greeted them at the airport. He had thought he'd have all the time in the world. He'd been wrong. The writhing shape in his gut reminds him of that, its crackling mass heavy not only there but in the back of his mind as well. He clenches his jaw and doesn't look away from the pictures of Maria, Frank Jr., and Lisa. He doesn't want to miss a single second, but he misses so much the funerals are over before he knows it. The next few weeks pass in a fog, because he doesn't know where Frank's gone. All he knows is that all of a sudden, there are criminal bodies piling up in the streets of New York City, and they're referring to it as a war on crime on the newspaper covers. They're more right than they know, once Billy starts paying attention; there's a decisive angle to all of it, like a brutal attempt to quell an insurrection, an attempt to circumvent guerrilla warfare, that he would have watched employed in Vietnam with a kind of cool judgment. He thinks it's blunt, not calculated, and that's when he develops his theory. Frank Castle is the one they call the Punisher. Then, all Billy has to do is follow the gunshots, and, he's sure, what's lost will be found again. So he listens, and he waits, and, eventually, the sound starts to echo off the city buildings like ricocheting rounds. He grabs his jacket and jogs against the flow of people fleeing from the sounds spilling from the streets of Hell's Kitchen, pushing between a few passerby who trip and fall as they try to get as far from the fighting as they possibly can. Billy takes out his knife. It's a nice knife. It's weighty but light and well-balanced, so he knows he'll be able to use it effectively, as effectively he ever did when using a knife in Vietnam, which he often did. He reaches the mouth of the alleyway beside the bar where the shootout is happening, and sights someone standing in the middle of it, shoulders heaving. He stalks towards them, flicking the knife around in his grasp, and stops short only when he sees slicked-back black hair and a matching black leather jacket wrapped snugly around wide, strong shoulders and thick, muscular arms. Frank turns and looks at Billy, a blood spray staining his features, and his grimace turns to a look of surprise before a scowl paints its way over his expression, lip curling and brow falling low across those striking blue eyes. The shadows don't allow them to shine. Frank shifts away from Billy, his back turned to the slighter man, and he catches his breath before he speaks. When he does, it's a quiet, threatening sound, like the growl emerging from a wild animal. "Go away, Bill. You don't want any part of this." Billy wants to say so many things, but he's not sure which one to start with. He's sorry? He is glad he's found Frank at last? He is actually here specifically because he wants a part of this, because, dammit, those were his godkids and Maria was his best friend's wife and he wants revenge? He has a dark thing in his belly that recognizes Frank right now and he wants to let it fly, all of it fly, but none of it does, because then another figure comes vaulting down the fire escape and interrupts, horn-headed and clad in deep, bloody maroon red. "No more killing," the figure says, voice a deadly tenor. "You don't get to tell me what to do," Frank grunts. "Not after you tried to let that PCP dealer get away with what he did." Before Billy knows it, they're fighting; Frank moving faster than he's ever seen his best friend move before, and the devil-like figure striking out at the same time with batons the same color as his suit, they're dancing cruelly with one another, blows glancing off of each other as they each give as good as they get. It's a blur, and Billy doesn't see an opening to help Frank, despite being distinctly on his side in respect to thinning the herd of people who brought death to the Castle family that fateful day. A gunshot rings out, and Billy jumps back; the bullet goes sidelong, but bores through the devil-horned man's arm in the process. He falls back, panting, and Frank scowls again, baring his teeth as he brandishes his gun. "Bill," he growls, "get out of here." "You're coming with me," Billy declares before he can think better of it. Forget selfish for a moment, he thinks- this is Frank, and he wants to help Frank, no matter what form that takes. He is going to get him out of here before the distant sirens arrive and they throw his best friend behind bars for doing something that anyone would do, if given the chance, so far as Billy is concerned. "F***. Fine. Lead the way," Frank grunts, and Billy, knife still in his grasp, nods and darts out of the alleyway, listening to Frank's boots pounding on his heels. It's like they're on the runway overseas again, he thinks, and suddenly wild laughter bubbles to the surface as they sprint down the street, pouring over his lips in barking cackles until he's doubled over in front of his apartment building and Frank is staring at him like he's grown a second head. "Sorry. Jesus, Frankie," Billy snickers. "It's just- I felt like we were back in Vietnam, for a minute there. I don't know what came over me." "Let's get inside," Frank says, without further elaboration. Billy nods and leads Frank through the empty lobby to the rickety elevator. They get in, Frank's sweaty scent swiftly filling the small space, and ding up a couple of floors. Billy stares at Frank, the whole world feeling too fast. Frank's eyes are electric blue, and they flicker nervously as the doors slide open and they step out, striding purposefully to the second apartment on the right, past the utility closet. Once inside the apartment, Billy locks the door behind them and finally takes a good, full look at his best friend. Frank's wearing the leather jacket, a pair of dark pants weighed down with holsters and a heavy belt, and a black shirt with a white skull emblazoned across it. He's heard about the shirt, but something about it is striking in person, the hollow black eyes staring back at him, composed of negative space, as he looks on. Frank's staring at Billy like he's confused about something again, and Billy can't imagine what. He's only staring like this because he's never seen this version of Frank outside of missions, never sighted Frank as a Grim Reaper wielding a hammer anywhere but the thick of the fight until now. Standing in the foyer of his apartment is something as close to divine as Billy thinks he probably believes in, and he can't take his eyes off of him. He can't look away from Frank Castle, his best friend, Frank, his Frankie. "Billy," Frank says, finally. Billy looks him in the eyes, takes in the crooked set of his lips, set downward into a heavy frown. "I can't stay here. You're my best friend. They'll come looking for me, and you'll get taken in with me." "You don't have to stay," Billy says, coming down off of his metaphorical high and back to reality in an instant. "I'm not letting you go back out there tonight, though, Frank. At least stay here for one night. Just one night is all I ask." "Bill," Frank starts, exasperated, one hand- clad in a heavy glove- coming up to shush across his features, his shallow whiskers. "Frank," Billy says, without leaving room for argument. He stares at his best friend, at his whatever-the-f*** they've become, and Frank stares right back at him before finally backing down. "Okay. Fine, Bill. You win. I'll stay. Just for one night. That's all." Billy breathes a sigh of relief, letting the weight off of his shoulders, the sky setting back in place and his spine slumping slightly at the lack of holding it up any longer. "Good. Great. I'll get us something to eat. You're hungry, right?" "I could eat." Frank takes a seat on the couch, dangling his hands between his knees and peering around the living room like he's never seen Billy's apartment before. It has been a long time, but Billy thinks that's odd, anyway. He goes in the small adjoining kitchen and starts warming up a couple of takeout containers of Chinese food that he had left over from the other night. He'd got not only his own favorite, but Frank's, as well, in what turned out to be a stroke of good luck. He'd just been trying to remember what things were like when it was him and Frank, before Maria and before Vietnam, but this is better than that. He delivers the food to the living room and wonders at how calm Frank is, after what's just transpired, with the shootout and the fight with the devil-headed vigilante. The bigger man takes his container and peers at it before giving Billy a questioning stare. "I got your favorite," Billy explains. That's all he's willing to say. It's hard enough to be honest with himself about how enraptured in his feelings for Frank he is, let alone actually admitting it to the other man in any way, shape, or form. Frank grunts and starts eating, using a fork and spoon while Billy uses chopsticks. Billy can smell not only the Chinese food, but Frank's musk, and the scent of the leather of his jacket hanging on the air. There's also gun oil, which is distinctly Frank, and has been since as far back as the slighter man can remember from their childhood. The Castiglione's owned a lot of guns, so Frank had done upkeep on them from a young age, so far back that his name was still Francis then, not yet Americanized- not that Billy thinks Frank has ever been bothered by being Frank, by any means. It's been who he is for so long that Billy sometimes wonders if Frank has forgotten entirely about Francis Castiglione, and only remembers himself as Frank Castle, now. Billy remembers both, but, really, there's no divide between them. Frank has always been the same man, no matter what he was called; and he's still the same man, now that he's the Punisher, too. They finish eating, and Billy stands, shedding his coat and hanging it on the back of the front door. He turns back and holds a hand out towards Frank, who stares at him for a moment before acquiescing and handing over the leather coat. Billy can feel how valuable it is to Frank, and refuses to undervalue it; he hangs it carefully and gently on the hook before standing back and making sure it stays. When he's sure it's going to, he turns back to his fellow veteran. Straps on his shoulders are already shrugged off, hanging at his waist as he unbuckles his heavy belt and hangs it over the back of the chair he'd been sitting in. Frank's short sleeved black shirt is snug across his thick barrel chest, and worn enough that the neck shows the top of his hairy chest. Billy stares as Frank kicks his boots off and flexes his feet against the rug before glancing at the other man and jerking his head at the small hallway leading back to the bathroom and the two bedrooms that the apartment boasts, despite its rather cozy size. Billy nods, and watches Frank pace, stockinged, into the threshold of the bathroom, where he turns on the shower. The spray shrieks against the tile interior, and Frank doesn't bother shutting the door as he starts shucking his jeans. Billy propels himself forward on feet he's not sure are his own, and he's wrapped his arms around Frank's before he can think better of it. His fellow veteran stiffens at the grasp, but turns when Billy tugs on him, and then they're facing each other as thin, deft hands land on a strong chest, feeling a rabbit's pace heartbeat slowing to steady out within. Frank stares at Billy, expression unreadable as they hover in place, coalescing at the edges. Billy's skin is chilly from the night air. Frank is running hot from the fight. The shower is filling the room with faint curls of steam. "Do you...?" Billy starts, and he thinks it's probably a sin, probably a horrible thing to ask, this, so he doesn't finish asking. He just trails off, and watches Frank nod stonily before stripping his shirt over his head. He smells of sour sweat and gun oil and the leftover remnants of leather on his skin, and Billy thinks it's probably the best scent he's ever smelled. He steps closer to Frank, who's wearing those damn standard issue olive drab boxers despite the rest of his uniform being the Punisher's now. They're starting to tent, and that's how Billy knows for sure that Frank wants this, that he's not just agreeing to sate Billy's desires. He hasn't even touched the other man yet, and here they are anyway, across from each other, with the slighter man so hard he hurts in his jeans. Frank watches as Billy undresses, and then they're standing across from each other. Billy's got on black satin boxers he bought at a department store because he liked the sound of the luxury of them. He's not sure what Frank is going to think of that, but he doesn't say a word, so the shorter supposes the other man doesn't care. Billy watches Frank step into the shower, stripping off his boxers and then standing there, broad and monolithic, waiting for his fellow to join him in the small space. Billy gladly does, stepping lithely under the hot water and then drawing Frank close to him with hands framing his shoulders, his waist. The taller man steps in until they're flush to one another, and Billy mouths across the edge of his jaw until Frank's lips part and they kiss deeply. Frank feels like he's about to fall apart, Billy thinks. He feels like there's holes in him all over, like there's cracks spreading through his stony exterior and in only moments they will shatter his best friend- his only friend in the world, maybe, just maybe. So Billy makes the only decision he can, and takes Frank in his hand, gently pumping as he kisses the taller man, standing half on his tip-toes, his free arm wrapped loosely around the back of the broad man's neck. Frank grunts softly into their embrace, and plants a hand on either side of the shower when Billy sinks to his knees and takes Frank into his mouth a moment later. He hollows his cheeks like he always used to and lets his eyes flutter softly as he sucks slowly up and down Frank's length. Frank looks at the shower shelf, and grabs a bottle hesitantly, weighing it in his hands before tucking a thumb, blunt and wide, under Billy's jaw and tilting his face up as he pops off of the end of the bigger man, lips wet with spit and red with needful feeling. He shows him the bottle wordlessly- it's lube, and Billy feels like there's a balloon in his chest, realizing what Frank means. There's nothing holding them back anymore, no barracks, no lacking supplies, no nothing to keep them from another, and as horrible as it is, he feels like soaring. He'll worry about the rest tomorrow, he decides, and takes the bottle, popping the cap open and pouring a supple amount over his and Frank's fingers. Frank slicks himself as Billy works his fingers in and out of his own entrance, remembering all the times since Vietnam that he's done this and imagined that it was the other man touching him. He'd done it every night that first week, and has shamefully done it in spells since then, too, all the while wondering where Frank was. Billy lets his eyes fall closed as he realizes that soon he won't be imagining- it will be for real. Then, Frank's hand lands on Billy's wrist, and his fingers are tiny electric spots against the pulse there that send it skyrocketing again, like they always have. He gently tugs, and Billy finishes preparing himself, turning around and rinsing his hands as he plants them against the shower wall, painting hot water across his palms. Frank's own palms, gun-calloused and rough as ever, catch on Billy's soft hips as he takes ahold of him from behind and aligns their bodies. When he thrusts forward, for a moment it is blinding; Billy feels spread open as wide as he's ever been by Frank's considerable girth, and then the burning fades and he just feels full and right. They fit together like puzzle pieces. They are the perfect instruments to complement each other, and Billy wants nothing more. ~ Frank has never had trouble sleeping once it was time to sleep, so Billy isn't surprised when Frank falls into a slumber quickly after they reach the bed. He lays his head on the corner of Frank's chest and splays the rest of his slender body across the bed, coiling one arm under the bigger man's back and wrapping a leg around a thicker one for good measure, as if to bind them together, despite knowing that, against all hope, the other will leave come morning. He's already promised it, or at least as good as. When morning does come, it's frustratingly bright. It should be all clouds, overcast and dreary, but instead the sun is out, shining pale white-gold onto the street outside and painting the world in brightened drab colors. Frank wakes up at the crack of dawn and uncoils himself from Billy only minutes later, standing and walking to the hall to pop his back and then brush his teeth. He uses Billy's toothbrush. The slighter man supposes that he really doesn't care either way, so he doesn't protest, just lays there and watches across the tiny hall from within the bedroom. When Frank is done with that, he dresses in the rest of his clothes again, save for his leather jacket. He doesn't put that on until he's eaten a bowl of Billy's cereal with a healthy pour of milk over it. Billy watches him eat this in big mouthfuls, chewing loudly and barely looking up from the bowl. He can barely stand it, though, when Frank dons the jacket, wrapping it around his shoulders after sliding the straps for his gun holsters over his shoulders again and pulling them tight against the broad muscle of his chest. Billy Russo is not a man to beg, though, so he refuses to say anything to the contrary when Frank grunts and turns, offering a hand in Billy's direction. He takes the proffered appendage and shakes it a single time, a farewell in the gesture, and then opens the door for Frank and watches the Punisher exit his apartment, zipping that leather jacket over the skull to hide it from sight as he walks to the elevator and climbs in. It dings when the doors close, and Billy shuts his door without waiting to see if Frank comes back. He knows he will. It's just, as it always is with them, a matter of time.

β€” The Blackest Night

04/23/2021 03:36 PM 

After the Kiss

Shayera broke the kiss. Gently, fingertips to his bare chest, she pushed John away. He had found the zipper to her corseted top on; she was pulling at his blanket. She could hear the soft beeps of John's heartbeat on the monitor. They rose in time with the thrill of her own pulse quickening in her chest. They had to stop. Pressing her forehead to his, she could feel his regret, his longing. Or maybe it was just her own. She was surprised by how much she didn't want to let go. "Your heart stopped an hour ago," she said. "We can't." "I know," said John. She could hear a sadness in his voice. She stood and looked toyingly at John. "But once you're better we'll find some time to sneak away." She could see in his eyes how much he hoped they would. Herself, she wasn't so certain. Oh sure she wanted to—if his injury wasn't stopping them, she would be out of her tights already—but it had, and so she had another chance. Shayera had one more chance not to fall for him, not completely. She was on her way out of the room, before the zipping feeling in her chest got the better of her, when John said, “Wait." She turned back. "Stay," he said. "For what?" "I don't know" said John, “To talk." "I'm really more an action kind of girl.” "I hadn't noticed." He smirked. She gave a playful frown, but it hid a much deeper worry. What did they have to talk about? “I should go,” she said a little sadly. “Is the League expecting you?” Should she lie? She considered it, but found herself wanting to tell him the truth. “No.” “Then humor me,” said John. What choice did she have? Shayera felt a flutter in her stomach that she hoped was more nerves than affection as she sat down on the other side of his bed. Part of her wanted to be swept under those sheets like a riptide, and part of her wanted to run for the door. The rest sat still, picking at a thread and flicking her eyes to John every so often, waiting for what to do next. “So…” she said, looking around. “How does this work?” John raised an eyebrow. “Talking?” She paused, unsure she wanted to give up what felt like a secret. “Thanagarians aren’t exactly known for being a heartfelt people,” she said. There was still so much about Earth culture she didn’t understand. “You just ask each other questions.” “Like what? ‘What’s you’re favorite color?’” said Shayera. He looked her straight in the eye and deadpanned, “green.” Shayera flushed. Was she really so bad at this? It was going to be a long night. “I was thinking more along the lines of, ‘if we were on Thanagar, where would you take me for our first date?’” “So we’re dating now?” John shrugged. He didn’t want to scare her away. “Pretend we are.” “I would take you to a bar. We’d get drunk on flurb, I’d start a bar fight, and brawl until we were the last ones standing,” said Shayera. “I guess I meant, if you had one night to show me your planet, where would you take me?” “Oh,” said Shayera. Her shoulders fell. John sat up and grabbed her hand. “Hey, I’m sorry. If you don’t want to talk about Thanagar, you don’t have to. I can’t imagine being trapped so far from home.” She wasn’t trapped, although John couldn’t know that. She’d known where she was headed, known how different it would be, but it had still been overwhelming. The isolation she had felt those first few weeks had been unbearable. But that wasn’t what troubled her. The sullenness that had overtaken her wasn’t over thoughts of home. Her mind had begun to imagine John with her on Thanagar—the places she would take him, the food they would eat, the fights they would win together. And also before she could stop it, it thought of Hro. Her commander. Her fiancee. She pictured Hro finding her in the arms of a human, one of the humans she was here to surveil no less. Hro would fight him for her. It would be brutal. With an acute pang of panic Shayera realized she wasn’t entirely sure who she wanted to win. She shook that idea from her mind. John would never see Thanagar. With any luck when the invasion came, John and Hro would never meet. Hro would never know the hero in green was any different from the others. “I don’t mind” she said. “I grew up in the capital city, Tri’taar. It’s like a cranky version of Metropolis I guess. Everything’s tall, everyone’s yelling. If someone flies into you, you get to punch them. I miss that. For our date? I’d like to just walk around.” “Really?” “You’d see the city and I’d—” Shayera cut herself off. John raised an eyebrow inviting her to continue. “I’d get to blend in.” “I refuse to believe all Thanagarians are as beautiful as you are,” said John. “Or as brash.” Shayera smiled. “You’d better.” She was surprised to find herself stretching out beside him. She laid down next to John, chin propped in her hand. When had she gotten so comfortable here? “I’m the only one of us without a secret identity,” she said. John seemed puzzled. “The rest of you take off your outfits and you’re normal people. Really muscular normal people, but all the same. Even Superman has a civilian life somehow. And J’onn can shapeshift. It’s hard to hide these.” Shayera unfurled her full wingspan. The infirmary had a high ceiling but even still the longest of her feathers grazed it. “Hmm,” said John. She could see the gears turning in his mind but she wasn’t sure he would get anywhere. She hadn’t. “I mostly don’t mind,” she said, although sometimes she minded very much. “Just remember that if you take me on date here, there’s no sneaking me into a movie.” “Do I get to?” said John. “Take you on a date?” “That depends. What did you have in mind?” “No fair,” he said. “Yours was theoretical. I have to follow through.” “Just say the first thing that comes to mind.” She was curious to hear, more than she wanted to be. “I think you had the right idea. In our line of work we don’t get a lot of quiet,” said John. “So how about a quiet night in, some place with a view, nobody to bother us.” Shayera looked from him to the window beside the bed where the world turned beneath them. Like the ocean or a clear night sky, it never ceased to be beautiful. “This is our first date?” she asked. John shifted under the blanket. “You’re right. It’s stupid.” Shayera thought about how comfortable she was on the small infirmary bed. Not physically, but in a much deeper way. Outside of a good fight and her other duties as a hero, when was the last time she had felt so at peace on Earth? When was the last time she had been happy? She knew the answer immediately. With John. Shayera grabbed John by the chin and kissed him. “It’s perfect.” When the rest of the League arrived back at the Watchtower, Batman discreetly volunteered to check on John. He certainly didn’t need Flash being the one to find…whatever he was about to find. He had run the scenarios. He found more or less what he thought he would, but the details were unexpected. For one thing, they still had their clothes on. John was asleep in the infirmary bed. Shayera had dozed off beside him on top of the blanket. One of her wings pooled on the floor, but the other draped protectively over him. The only piece of costume she was missing, Batman noted, was her mask.

β€” The Blackest Night

04/23/2021 03:08 PM 

our eyes are looking at the sky

“You know,” Hal says, opening his apartment door in his sweatpants. “This stopped being cute the second you turned older than twelve.” “I really, really don’t care what you think,” Jason says, pushing past Hal to a living room that is more familiar to him than it should be. He sits on the couch and runs a fingertip on the window sill. It’s dusty. He looks up at Hal. “Gross.” Hal scratches the back of his neck. “Cut me some slack, not everyone lives in a castle with a personal butler.” That hits too close to the issue Jason came here to avoid. He glowers at Hal and swings his legs up to prop them on the coffee table. It creaks in protest because of the weight of his boots. “ I don’t live in the Manor. I live in a clean and tidy apartment like a perfectly functional human being, something which you are not.” “Funny,” Hal deadpans. He turns around and disappears into the kitchen. Jason hears him open and close the cupboards. “Before I knew Batman was Bruce Wayne, I thought you bats live in underground caves.” Jason did live in a dark underground basement until three months ago, closer to a sewer, but he’s not going to admit that . Instead, he rummages the stack of pillows next to him in an attempt to find the TV remote. “Where the f*** did you put the remote?” Hal sticks his head out of the kitchen door. “How would I know? I literally just got back from space. I have an errand to run, by the way, so I can’t stay and watch you mope over whatever it was that your father did.” “My sister will be here in a bit,” Jason says. Color drains out of Hal’s face. Serves him right for bringing up the Manor. “I saw her following me a couple of hours ago.”  Knowing Cass, she probably had been following him for a while before Jason noticed. “No,” Hal groans. “Is that the reason why you’re here?” Considering how allergic Bruce is to the idea of Hal being around Cass, Jason thinks it’s a good move on his part. He angles his face to the window and grins at the shadow perching on the fire escape. Cass lowers her sunglasses and quirks an eyebrow at him. “I’m always out to piss the old man off.” Hal follows his line of sight and sighs. “Well, let her in. I can’t have my neighbour questioning why my unwanted guests don’t use the front door.” He goes back into the kitchen, swearing under his breath as Jason unlocks the window and Cass slides into the room. “Fancy seeing you here,” Jason tells his sister. Cass inspects a suspicious stain on the carpet and steps over it. She plops down on the couch and offers him a fist. He bumps it with his. “Will you help me find the remote?” “No. Your fault.” It’s your fault we’re skipping the movie night and are stuck in Coast City , she means. “Worth it,” he replies. Water runs in the kitchen sink and Cass grabs a random magazine from the coffee table. Jason’s flipping the couch cushions when the doorbell rings. He freezes and looks at the front door. That can’t be Bruce. It’s way too quick and Bruce stopped picking him up at Hal’s ever since Jason's return from the dead. “Will one of you get the door?” Hal calls. “Make yourself useful.” Jason’s glued on the spot. Cass lays a hand on his knee and walks to the door. He lets out a breath when the door swings open, and it’s no one with a head-to-toe black clothing. Black kevlars. Black suits. Whatever. It’s a kid with a Gotham Academy school uniform. Damian scowls at them. Hal peeks from the kitchen and sees Damian. “F***.” - Here are several things about Damian Freaking Wayne— One, he’s annoying as hell. Two, he’s committed his life to pretending that he’s older than his actual age. Three, he’s besotted over the perfect older brother D*ck Grayson and admirable sister Cassandra Cain. Four— Everytime Damian mentions the Lantern with curiosity in his voice that he fails to hide, Bruce twitches. Convulses. Grits his teeth and tries to change the subject. It’s actually kind of funny. Jason doesn’t envy Hal, not even a little bit. - “Lantern,” Damian greets Hal. His eyes flick from the tips of Hal’s hair to the polkadots on his socks. Disgust crosses his face before he pushes it back down to a polite expression Alfred has made him practice. ”Did you change your mind yet?” “Nice to see you too,” Hal says. “My answer will be the same no matter how often you bring this up—I won’t bring you to space with my ring.” “You will change your mind,” Damian says calmly, which is ten percent more worrying than if he protested instead. He waltzes pass Cass, pausing to look at the floor, his shoes, then seemingly decides against taking them off. “Brother,” Cass murmurs, ruffling Damian’s hair contentedly. As one of the two people in the world who would get away with the action, the other obviously being D*ck Grayson, Cass surely enjoys flaunting it whenever she has the chance. “Did you skip school?” “Only the last period.” Damian moves away from Cass’ hand a beat too late. “Oh great,” Hal mutters under his breath. “He skipped a class. I can only imagine the next League meeting. Someone will be all - Lantern , we need to talk about your bad influence in making kids skip school.” He narrows his eyes and points a finger at all of them. “I will not forgive you if that goes on my official League records.” “Please,” Jason says. Having successfully recovered the remote from underneath one of the cushions and next to a suspicious stale potato chip, he starts flipping the channels to see if anything interesting is on. “I’ve seen your records. It’s not like it’s pristine to begin with.” “I keep forgetting what a know-it-all you are.” Jason waves a hand. “Don’t you have a terribly unhealthy breakfast-slash-lunch-slash-dinner to prepare?” Closing the front door, Cass says to Hal, “Let me help you.” “I like you Cassandra,” Hal grimaces. “But the less I interact with you, the better. The last time you mentioned meeting me, your Father followed me to space because he thought I was up to something.” Cass pulls that face—the one she knows no one can reject—all wide eyes and forlorn expression. Hal gives up and gestures at Cass to follow him. “One of these days,” Hal says as he turns back to the kitchen. “I will finally move to an apartment that none of you will be able to find.” He can try. Sometimes all the TV channels in the world can have absolutely boring programs playing at the same time. Sometimes Jason doesn’t mind this, because it means he can use his time to do something else. Now though, it’s just making it hard to ignore the way Damian is staring at him. Jason presses the remote button harder. “Are you not done being a petulant child?” Damian asks as he decides to perch on the back of the couch. With his hair slicked back like that, he really looks like a mini-Bruce. “You’re the child,” Jason retorts. Admittedly not his best comeback. “Stay out of things you don’t understand.” “Perhaps if you had not taken off to Coast City simply because of a suggestion to hold your birthday party, you would still have the moral high ground, but alas.” “Do you even have friends ?” Damian says, “Do you ?” Jason flips him off. It’s not just a birthday party, that’s the thing. It’s a party for Jason Todd-Wayne. Bruce—back at the Manor, sitting behind his stupid desk, with eyes on a piece of paper he was pretending to read—asked him if this year would be the right time to hold a birthday party for him. It would be a small party , Bruce said. Thirty people and you would know most of them .  As if Jason doesn’t know what that means. After countless therapy sessions—for him, Bruce, and the both of them—returning to life as Jason Todd was something he was prepared for. As someone who is used to lying, dealing with the media fallout was a breeze. Gothamites get bored easily, so feeding them several social media accounts, which he used to overshare his opinions regarding all the seasons of the Great British Bake Off, made them lose interest in his lack of public appearances. (Thanks to Steph for the brilliant idea.) Making a public appearance is something he has yet tackled, three years after his supposed legal return to life. To be fair—since trying to consider each other’s perspective has been something Dinah heavily emphasizes—Bruce’s suggestion didn’t exactly come out of nowhere. They’ve been bouncing the idea back and forth over the last few months, discussing ways Jason could start attending a Wayne corporate event or two. Last time around, they got to the idea of the employee annual bowling tournament, but Jason was in a bit of a sour mood due to a botched mission and had tried to pick a fight instead. When Bruce called him to the study earlier— It just seemed. Sudden? No. He was surprised regardless. He may have overreacted. Admitting that out loud? Never. So here he is, in Coast City, annoying the person who annoys his father the most. Dinah will probably find it funny. “All of you,” Hal announces as he enters the living room, a layered sandwich with tomatoes in his hand while Cass trails behind him, munching on a peanut butter and jelly one. “I need to be at my appointment in thirty minutes, so I need all of you to leave.” “Cass,” Jason says. Cass looks at Hal. - “A jewelry store?” Damian says incredulously. He has ditched his blazer and opted to look like an overdressed child with his white shirt and black tie. “Did you receive an intel about a robbery?” “Nope,” Hal responds, slamming his car door shut. “It's a personal errand.” It turns out, the personal errand involves buying Carol Ferris, the Star Sapphire, a bracelet.  For anniversary purposes. Cass stands on her tiptoes for a better look at the bracelets scattered in front of them. "You… and romantic gestures," Jason repeats for the third time. "Huh." "I swear, if you say that one more time—" “It’s just, have you seen what’s underneath your couch? How could you be the same person?” Damian tugs on Hal’s shirt and cues for him to bend down. He then tries to whisper, except this is Damian, and he always thinks he’s more subtle than he actually is. “Lantern, this place is expensive. Are you sure you can afford it? Father said you are having financial difficulties.” Hal snaps. “He said what—” “He said that you are not well off.” “No one is well off if you compare them to your father.” Hal rolls his eyes. “Besides, I’m a test-pilot and I’m good at what I do. I get paid nicely.” Damian says, with a level of concern that he rarely displays to another human being. “Is it enough?” Hal covers his face with a palm. Cass flicks Damian’s forehead. “Be polite.” Damian rubs his forehead and glares at her. “Cain! What was that for?” The lady with red hair and too much perfume comes back holding new bracelet choices. “Have you decided?” She inquires. She lays out the six new bracelets with different gemstones. Each of them consists of gold or silver chains, some thinner than others. Cass, who has developed an interest in fashion and spends her time making Pinterest boards with Steph, coos over the bracelets. Personally Jason thinks they all look the same—unless Hal is planning to resell them in the black market (in which case, he should pick the third bracelet), Jason has no interest in them. Hal scratches his chin as he inspects the bracelets. “I don’t know. I think she might prefer the silver one?” Damian doesn’t bother to hide his sound of disapproval. “What?” Hal demands. “Do you have something to say?” “It is obvious that gold complements her complexion,” Damian says. “If you are having financial problems and need to choose the cheaper option, you should have admitted it to us.” “Um,” the lady behind the counter says. “Don’t listen to Damian,” Cass says kindly. She pinches the end of one silver bracelet that is decorated with amethyst. “Silver is also pretty and it’s the thought that… counts.” Hal looks desperately at Jason. “Aren’t you going to stop this?” Jason shrugs. He could. He just doesn’t want to. “Maybe she will like other meaningful items as well,” Cass says. “Like flowers, or a car. Selina liked it when Bruce gave her a car.” “Haven’t you paid any attention, Cain?” Damian scoffs. “Jordan cannot afford a new car.” “Would you like to see some cheaper options?” The sales lady asks finally. Jason can’t help it—he laughs. Cass picks up one of the bracelets and inspects it under the store light. Damian reaches a hand out and tells her, “Let me see that one.” Cass frowns. “No, I’m looking at it.” “I want to see it,” Damian insists, trying to snatch the bracelet as Cass, who still has the superior height, moves it out of his reach. “Cain!” Cass sticks her tongue out. Hal says, tiredly, to the shopkeeper: “Sorry, I’m babysitting today.” - Somehow the shopkeeper does not kick them out of the store. Instead, Hal tells them to wait outside as he makes his purchase. Jason doesn't stop laughing, not until Hal leaves the store and Jason has to maintain a semblance of polite indifference, at least. Cass and Damian continue to jostle one another here and there - Cass is enjoying it, Jason knows, while Damian is getting increasingly annoyed.  Eventually, they end up at an empty playground near Hal’s apartment. Jason has been here before, once or twice over the years, mostly whenever Jim or Carol were around. They insisted that Hal could not simply entertain a kid with TV and some snacks. Jason was definitely too old for playgrounds back then, but he indulged Carol because of the Star Sapphire tales she would tell, and Jim for Hal’s embarrassing childhood stories. Cass and Damian wander toward the furthest swing set, away from where Hal and Jason sit on a bench, just far enough outside the safe eavesdropping distance. “They’re looking out for you,” Hal observes. He's been palming the bracelet case, turning the box in his hand again and again. A year ago, Jason would have denied it. He watches Damian start pushing Cass on a swing. Cass leans forward and backward to make the swing go higher. The breeze blows on her short hair. Damian rolls up his sleeves and says something that makes Cass laugh. “Yes.” “Aren’t you going to tell me what’s going on this time?” "The usual." "I see. It's the usual again." "The usual is always going on." “I’m the last person you could come to for advice about family matters,” Hal says. “But I don’t think you want advice, anyway.” Jason tips his head back and watches the yellowing sky. The sun is setting soon. “I don’t,” he admits. Hal never fails to complain about Jason’s visits, yet the first time Jason had visited after the whole resurrection business, Hal opened the door without a word and ordered pizza from a place he knew Jason liked. They sat in silence for an entire evening, eating two boxes of pizza and watching reruns of cartoons. “I’ve never been in a deadly feud with my own father before,” Hal adds, considering. “I was, however, estranged from the most important people to me.” Jason glances at him. It’s not a secret, what Hal went through. Even with the way they poke fun at him, they all knew that the guy went through some of the worst things the universe could throw at him, and they respect him for it. In Damian’s case, it’s probably outright curiosity and reluctant admiration. Bravery never comes without a price though, and Hal paid the price. It’s something Jason understands. “All I will say is this,” Hal says. He grips the bracelet box tighter in his palm. “Sometimes we may need to work on relationships, possibly much harder than other people. It’s just how it is. When we do manage to make it work—,” he flips the lid of the box open and stares at the golden bracelet with green sapphire. He smiles. “For those small and finite moments, it will all be worth it.” “That was—,” Jason says, as he feels the truth of Hal’s words beneath his ribs. “Awfully corny. Best of luck to Carol.” Hal flashes him a confident smirk. “When she doesn’t want to kill me for crashing yet another plane, she does find me charming, you know.” Jason gags. “Ugh. I didn’t need to hear that.” “Speaking of which,” Hal says, gesturing to an approaching black BMW, too pretentious to be regularly seen in Coast City. “It’s time to hear each other out.” “Stop trying to be wise,” Jason says, shaking his head with annoyance. “My heart can’t take it.” "Sure," Hal replies. He stands up and pockets the box again. "Considering how I've spent the entire day in close proximity of not one, but three young bats, I better leave to save my neck." The car parks by a tree. The engine turns off. "Too bad. It would have been fun to watch." "Hilarious." Hal gives Jason one last pointed look before he leaves, walking back to the direction of his apartment. The car door opens. Cass and Damian are doing a bad job in pretending they're engrossed in a game of tag. Then again, it's them. They might be actually invested. Damian has a competitive streak that Cass enjoys to mess with, and Damian, in return, refuses to lose. Jason closes his eyes and listens to the approaching footsteps. Bruce sits next to him. No one says anything for a minute. He does have that thought sometimes— Of how it probably shouldn't be this hard. But— even though this too, he will admit to no one—Hal was right. "How did you know we're at this park?" Olive branch it is. "Damian…," Bruce starts. "He used to skip school a lot. Tim planted some trackers on his uniforms." "Huh," Jason says. "I thought he would have discovered them already." "He did," Bruce says. "But not the ones Alfred put." Jason opens his eyes and tilts his face to look at Bruce. "You're something else." Bruce is in a grey shirt that Duke would have referred to as his “tech start-up” look. He looks back at Jason, exasperation written on his face. “A year ago, he missed an entire week of school because he went to search for the remains of Krypton with Jonathan Kent. What would you have me do?” “At least he didn’t go somewhere like Ethiopia.” Bruce clenches his jaw. “Sorry,” Jason adds. “Bad day.” Bruce exhales a deep breath and holds his gaze. “Is it because of what I asked?” The problem with the both of them is that action is their main language. They’ve been working on balancing it, but it gets hard, and most of the time Jason feels scraped raw with every word he says. “I don’t think I’m ready for it… not yet. I thought I was, but I’m…,” he pauses and Bruce doesn’t interrupt, listening. Jason removes a lint from his trouser with restless fingers. “Not there yet.” “That’s fine Jay,” Bruce says. “We don’t have to do it. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to push you.” Jason shifts a little. This version of him is still learning this too—accepting apologies from this version of Bruce. “Okay.” “We can table this discussion until—” “No,” Jason interrupts. He taps his foot on the graveled ground. “I can talk about it. I just don’t want it to happen soon.” “Alright,” Bruce agrees. “Must you come here whenever you don’t want me to follow?” Here’s to speaking the truth. “I don’t… not want you to follow, sometimes.” “I know,” Bruce replies softly. “I can’t always tell when though. You were more obvious as a kid. Tell me next time?” Jason weighs the request in his mind, considers it. Then he nods. “Damian told Hal about his supposed financial difficulties, and who he heard it from.” Bruce grimaces. “Not my proudest moment. To my defense, Damian got it into his head that all lanterns are equipped with personal space jets.” “That is not the strong defense that you think it is.” “Cassandra.” Bruce calls out. Cass lets go of a fuming Damian and waves cheerfully at them, as if she was not just keeping him in a choke-hold a second ago. Damian leaps and tackles her. Bruce sighs. “Well, there’s that.” Jason snorts. He stands and puts his hands inside his pockets. “It’s quite a drive to Gotham.” Bruce reaches out to hand Jason the car keys. “Do you want to drive? If you need some space I can take the train with Cass and Damian.” “And miss out on the heart attack that you’re about to have when the two of them talk about Hal? Are you kidding me?” Jason pushes the keys back towards Bruce. “I’m having the front row on that one.” “You know,” Bruce says. “You’re not as cute as you used to be.” Jason feels a grin spreading on his face. He doesn’t stop it. He stretches his arms up as if he’s reaching for the sky and yells at his siblings, “Brats, let’s go home.” - End. - -

β–ˆ 𝐂𝐀𝐋𝐋 πŒπ„ 𝑩𝑨𝑩𝒀

04/23/2021 01:55 PM 

ΰ² _ΰ²  𝐑𝐔𝐋𝐄𝐒...

Hi. i'll keep this short and simple...— i have a real life, that will always come first. if you cannot respect that, then don't try to write with my muse or interact with me. i won't tolerate gaslighters that make me feel bad if i'm not able to be around.— yes, i do multi-ship. exclusive ships / single-shipping can get very toxic. i've had some bad experiences with past partners and prefer to do this; again, if you cannot respect that please don't interact with my muse in that manner and expect something more.— premade comments or messages are always ignored, there's a high possibility if you send one of those you'll be ignored. i don't respect being a copy paste in your book, i want our muses to interact sincerely not just be another pasted introduction.— i'm okay with friendships ooc, just don't be too obsessive or weird. i'll shut that down real quick. i'm honestly a very chill and relaxing person, it takes a lot to piss me off so if you do well....good luck charlie.— other than that, everything should be fine and dandy. oh, also. i ride hard for my friends, if you disrespect people i care for in any way, i will most likely not want to interact with you at all. so, let's please respect eachother and be civil.Ω©(*β›βŠ°β›)~❀ other than that, please send some banter my way. ( quickest way to my heart is bond edits, do that and i'll be smitten w/ ya. )

HannaPanda

04/22/2021 07:01 PM 

About my Writing Skills

Note: On my profile I didn't spoke indepth about my writing skills but in this blog post I shall go into detail on every spot which I consider important information for my roleplaying partners to know.  MY WRITING SKILLS:  LITERACY:The length of my replies will fluctuate from a paragraph to multi-paragraph. Though, I’ll try to match what I receive. My minimum is a single paragraph with 5 to 6 sentences; as for my maximum would be around 5 to 6 paragraphs depending on my inspiration at that moment. Won't do one-liners, I lose interest with ease or run into inspirational walls that end affecting other role-plays in the end. GRAMMAR:English is not my first language. Meaning there’s a high chance that I’ll have grammatical or spelling errors in my writing. If you aren’t comfortable with written errors occasionally happening then we might not work well together. Another thing, I can't do abbreviations (text-talk) inside or outside of character. GENRE:All genres are welcomed in the plotlines but be warned, romance is a must. When a plotline doesn’t contain any romance my interest on fails. Romance can be from simple and occasional flirting, to eventually dating or even future marriage and family building. PLOTLINE & STORIES:Plotlines or stories are built with teamwork; I help you and you help me. There some types of plotlines or ideas that I won’t do but I'll eventually go over them later. Either way, that means if I say I won’t play something, don’t try to change my mind. If your plotlines, ideas or suggestions are nowhere listed as a strict no, do ask before incorporating them on our roleplay. If it turns out is something I can’t do, I’ll be sure to politely let you know straight on. PAIRINGS:At the current time I am only roleplaying pairs that are either Male+Female or Male+Male. ROLES:I prefer to roleplay my main characters as Submissive/Bottom/Switch roles but I can't do complete Submission either. My character's will always have Dominant/Top characteristics, yet they won't actually be 'Dominant/Top' when the lights are off.  CHARACTERS:I'm able to roleplay 1 primary characters and unlimited secondary and tertiary characters, as long as they aren't all at the same time. As for my maximum of primary characters I can do is around 4 but again as long as they aren't not being used at the same time. I am open to the idea of doubling characters as I like being fair with my roleplaying partner. When it comes to fandom, I can't play Cannon Characters unless they are Secondary in where my partner and I can both control to help advance the story. I don't mind if my roleplay partner decides to play their main character as a Cannon but for me to play one, there is need of a very important previous discussion first.  ACTIVITY:Due to different situations, I am currently not as active as I used to be. I can’t promise to reply daily or more than once every day but what I can assure you is a reply (or replies) whenever I’m online. If I am unable to log in for more than a week, I’ll try to post a status to notify about it. I’m not one to ‘ghost’ or disappear on anyone without a good explanation; so I expect the same. You may send me a message as a reminder if you see that I disappear for more than a week without warning, but please don’t spam either.

writing skills, about my writing

Dominic | Archer

04/22/2021 02:18 PM 

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HannaPanda

04/21/2021 10:06 PM 

My Fandom Interests

Note: I feel more comfortable playing original characters so that is what I'll be playing as. If you prefer original characters too, then pick fandoms which have 'OC x OC' pairings.  ANIME Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)Fandom Pairings I seek:- Levi x OC- Eren x OC- Jean x OC- OC x OC Jujutsu KaisenPairings I seek:- Itadori x OC- Sukuna x OC- Gojo x OC- Fushiguro x OC- Nanami x OC Fire ForcePairings I seek:- Obi x OC- Hinawa x OC- Kusakabe x OC BleachPairings I seek:- Aizen x OC- Ulquiorra x OC- Byakuya x OC- Ichigo x OC- OC x OC K ProjectPairings I seek:- Munakata x OC- Mikoto x OC- OC x OC Vampire Knight & Vampire Knight GuiltyPairings I seek:- Yagari x OC- Zero x OC- Kaname x OC- OC x OC Psycho PassPairings I seek:- Ginoza x OC- Kogami x OC- Makishima x OC Naruto & Naruto ShippudenPairings I seek:- Itachi x OC- Kakashi x OC- OC x OC Kurosh*tsuji (Black Butler)Pairings I seek:- Sebastian x OC- Adult Ciel x OC- OC x OC 07 GhostPairings I seek:- Ayanami x OC- Frau x OC- OC x OC Fruits BasketPairings I seek:- Hatori x OC- Adult Hatsuharu x OC- Adult Kyo x OC- Adult Hajime x OC- OC x OC VIDEO GAMES The Last of UsPairing I seek:- OC x OC Dying Light Pairing I seek:- OC x OC Horizon Zero DawnPairing I seek:- OC x OC Resident Evil (5 & 6)Pairings I seek:- Piers x OC- Leon x OC- Chris x OC- OC x OC Final Fantasy (Crisis Core, X & XV)Pairings I seek:- OC x OC- Gladiolus x OC- Zack x OC- Noctis x OC A Plague InnocencePairing I seek:- OC x OC

fandom interests, roleplay search

Dominic | Archer

04/21/2021 04:12 PM 

The pact

Till Death due us part; the pact. Eyes filled with unbridled rage were fixated upon the bones which lay there before him; heavily breathing as he leaned on his halberd for support. Blood running along his face his left eye closed from the damages he'd suffer, he'd try to catch his breath. Despite all his efforts, the onslaught of skeletons seemed to decimate his clan, who in turn fought valiantly. The village was lost in a blaze of fire and smoke.As hatred filled his core, he'd shift his gaze to the cause of it all, the necromancer. He had amassed an army, both sides having major casualties, but a clear victor. As the stench of death and blood filled his nostrils he'd scream to the heavens. Charging forth slashing and striking down all that stood in his way; a last ditch effort to strike down this ungodly terror the last remains of the villages defenses would rally in cheer for one last attempt at turning the tides.Yet with each enemy slaughtered and struck down, so too would an ally. As numbers dwindled and his heart began to tear at it's seams he'd be brought face to face with the necromancer. His brothers in arms, falling beside him; he'd be the last to stand. Before him a sight of pure horror, the love of his life battered, abused and used. Lifeless her body laid there as the necromancer boasted his acts. If he couldn't have her, no one could, let alone a vile Drow half breed. It was with these words all sanity left the male's mind, hope alongside the fear of death; gone. The skies would open as it began to rain; a loud booming of thunder leading the way.Charging forth striking down the overabundance of skeletons he'd shout a war cry unlike any other he had before, he had no reason to live, but if he was to die today he'd get his revenge. He'd take the life of the figure who took his beloved. Charging forth like a great hero of old he'd bash his way through the line, pierces, slashed bashed. His body spurting blood every which way as the cocky necromancer just shook his head and let his minions do the work. Yet in the moment of glory as he motioned to strike the villain with much force he'd be feel the blade pierce through his back.Blood spewing from his lips as he coughed, he'd step forward, his will alone his sole fire keeping his engine going. Til the light began to fade from his vision. His polearm falling mere inches from the necromancer as he was brought to his knees and then punctured every which way the skeletons could into his armor; a human pin cushion. He'd grunt with rage, til his heart beat it's final thump. Eyes closing and breath stopping he'd crash face first into the mud. The necromancy pleased with his actions, got the revenge upon the Drow and his village. The male would watch his life slipped before his eyes, as he was met with all the moments leading up til now.From his youth and being the child or a Drow whore, a bastard never truly knowing his father. The hatred and distrust of people due to simply being born a Drow; all of it. Such hatred and negativity in his soul, yet as time progressed he'd see the moments that led up to his rage. The ugly little girl with a missing tooth, the one who always picked fights with him and would tease him. The one who snuck away from her home to feed him on nights his mother was working. The only person who truly treated him like a person. Cutting forward a few years, to their first kiss, to the beauty the ugly duckling become. Their first dates and the awkwardness. Even more intimate and private moments of love making and cuddling.His heart lifting up as he felt peace coming to him, hands reaching out to a heavenly figure of his lover. The time spent with one another, the happiness she brought him. Then it hit him, the realization of her death, the loss of their child, their future, the life he promised her. His heart aching and tearing every which way. Then the more recent memories, the horror. Watching the introduction of this necromancer to town, his leering over his soon to be wife and mother of his child. Then...today, the rape and murder. His heart once more a flame as the hands which reached for him felt pulled away.Anger and the desire to live, to get revenge soon grasped at his soul. A faint voice heard from the depths of the shadow fell. A voice which caressed his ears with the sweet words of nectar, promises to grant him power and save his life. Feeling the darkness slowly consume him, he'd reach up for the hands of his lover, tears in his eyes he'd growl and close his fist agreeing to the words of his new found mistress; the pact was made.His chest expanding his vision would return as eyes opened; now a red hue. His ivory hair, stained with blood and mud as his lungs expanded. He was back, wounds healed and his body a new. Lips parting as he gasped for air, he'd utter a single word in a growled state of anger; "Necromancer...."

Demon Chief

04/21/2021 02:14 PM 

Plot ideas

A clan of demons have been known to hunt the forests nearby the village. The village has pooled money together in hopes of hiring someone to go and clear the demons out. These demons are crafty though and eager to get their hands on any female entering their forest.Rumours have been spreading about a large underground labyrinth deep within the forest. Inside there is said to be priceless treasures, however, no one has ever returned after entering this maze. Deep inside this maze, demons had made their home within its depths, killing any men and capturing any women who dare enter their domain.Recently, the internet had been talking about some new game appearing online with scary stories involving people being sucked into the game where demons would hunt you down while you have to avoid traps and tentacle pits to escape. These rumours can't be true right? Might as well download it and check out what everyone is talking about.You find a weird looking and old book. The cover of it is worn down and there is no title. However, once you open it up, you see a bunch of weird looking runes and after speaking a few of the words out loud, your teleported to another world. However, you now find yourself at the center of a demon infested forest.Despite it being the modern age, there are still rumours of demons wandering the forest near the town. Must consider them to just be old wives tales to scare kids and keep them from wandering in. These rumours often become the root of dares with friends daring each other to spend the night in the forest. Little do people know, these rumours are true.A clan of demons have long been in control of the city as a shadow organization. They control most organized crime, law enforcement, and even city governments to stay hidden while doing whatever they want. Their favourite business now is human trafficking and slavery. They often look for women to abduct off the streets or from one of the bars they own. They sometimes even set up fake modelling jobs or secretary positions.

β™‘SweetHeartβ™‘

04/20/2021 02:01 PM 

Random MHA Starter
Current mood:  bored

To fit into this world, the female, having been stuck here for a little under 5 years, gave up on returning home and decided to take up a new role. Hero. A term this world uses to label the extraordinary and over achieving while the rest of the world remains as “normal” civilians. The humans here didn’t look human.With her abilities it made things easier for her to be herself rather than hide.  She was not human but, with all the strange deformities in the realm, no one would notice, she could blend in and play human. Her pointed ears were looked over because so many people had them around here. Her ice abilities, that was nothing when a man can completely encase himself in flames was the number one hero, Endeavor, but there was more too it. If caught in her ice one would succumb to her ability to read those that her ice touches. Her "Quirk" as they reffered to it, was sensory but still physical. So it was safe to say that she could get by here, survive even. Make a life for herself, and help people without prejudice or risk being murdered just for being who and what she was. Masutafu, Japan, Where hero’s used to be worshiped and revered, whereas now...with this terrible uprising of the league of villains presenting themselves as the Paranormal Liberation Front, the people have lost faith in the Hero’s and turned to liberating themselves instead of relying on those that they see had failed them. SInce the symbol of peace, All Might, retired this whole region had taken a turn for the worst. She scoffed as she pulled her white hood over her recently cut white hair and a braid down her back. She folded her large leathery dragon like wings against her back as the wind whipped around her. She stood on the top of a tall building before she crouched down and watched the streets. Her bright violet eyes were covered by a visor with serrated ridges along the top of it with horns that curve up from the sides like dragons that were clear but protected her face from the elements. Her hood was attached to her cape which was only mid back and left room for her wings to come and go as she pleased. It was quite a task to leave then out all the time. Right now she was wingless and liked to remain that way. Though the back was out where her wings could come out with no problem, she wore a white body suit that fit like a second skin, her arms covered in hard but lightweight alloy made to look like dragon scales, made of breathable smart material that made it easy for her to move and cut through the air. She wore knee high boots that lace in front. A mask hung around her neck that. She didn’t want her face all over the television in the event something happens, and she didn’t want anyone to be able to recognize her either.She still had faith in the heros. She wasn’t an official hero herself though. She came from across the continent with the hopes of doing more good. Most would say she was a vigilante or a rogue hero. She traveled a lot, helping people that needed it, doing the best that she could to keep people's spirits up during this hard time. Trying to give them hope and with no one knowing who she was helped a little. She was young, a bit naive even but she knew she had a good heart, before her mother died she made sure to remind her of that. Nazri gripped the edge of the building as she leaned over to survey the streets. If she was discovered she would probably be captured and questioned. Being considered practically a villain herself would mean trouble for her if she was discovered. The villains were practically tearing Masutafu apart, at least for now...it was quiet.




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