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Chezza~multi chara

06/05/2021 02:23 PM 

Solange the Arctic Fox

Anthro~ Solange (pronounced so-lawn-jhe) is 19 years old. She's 5' 3" and weighs 120 pounds. She ran away from home when she was 12 due to being bullied about having no tail. She has beautiful white fur and deep amber eyes. She has no self esteem, due to being bullied and wears clothes that perfectly hide her missing tail. Either by covering her entire body or by flattering her body causing others not to notice.Feral~ Due to being born without a tail, Solange cannot survive the harsh Arctic temperatures. She finds solace anywhere  safe. Her white coat helps her hide in the winter time, while her black summer coat helps her hide in forests without snow.

Chezza~multi chara

06/05/2021 02:18 PM 

Quintana the Eevee

Anthro~ Quiana is 22 and is 5' 5". She weighs 130 pounds and is a lifeguard at the beach. She's worked there for almost 3 years now. She loves to play beach volleyball and watching the sun set behind the ocean.Feral~ Quiana lives deep in the forest. She is very protective of it and will defend it. She's quite feisty and is slow trusting anyone who doesn't live in her forest. If someone does gain her trust, they will have her back and she will defend them with her life if necessary. 

Chezza~multi chara

06/05/2021 02:12 PM 

Tamie the Alolan Vulpix

Anthro~ Tamie is around 5' 4" and weighs around 130 pounds. She has icy blue eyes and 3 tails that curl at the tip. She's 25 years old and works at a local grocery store. She lives alone because her family was killed by a cruel loan shark. She survived because she was at work, hoping to pay him. Tamie's fur is soft and slightly cool to the touch. She is shy at first, but quickly warms up.Feral~ Tamie has always dreamed of having friends. Her body constantly emits freezing temperatures, which seems tserve the reason for her  loneliness. She loves winter and can create soft chilly breezes by wagging her tail.


06/04/2021 10:44 PM 


I have plots and storylines in mind, so I would like to act as GM with you as the protagonist!No Erotica, however, I will respect your limits if you have more than just that.Please be respectful of LGBTQ+ people and their culture.Please be respectful of POC and their cultures, including religions.Discussion is mandatory, I will not respond to random starters.I prefer OC's, but if your character is canon to a series, I will accept also.If I reject your add, it's for a reason, please do not spam me with requests.Rule breakers will be blocked!

π•³π–Šπ–‘π–‘ π•²π–Žπ–—π–‘

06/04/2021 09:50 PM 

Origins of the others

// I talk very in-depth as to the origins of Ai, so I will go into as much as I can about the others, though what we do know is very limited.Starting with Wanyuudo, he is likely the most mysterious out of them all. He was a tsukumogami, which is a belief in Japan that objects gain souls after existing for a hundred years. Wanyuudo was the soul of a wheel of a carriage belonging to a princess. The carriage fell off of a cliff and caught on fire, destroying everything and killing everyone inside. Now free from his vessel, he began terrorizing locals, appearing as a wheel surrounded by fire, his own angry face appearing at the center of the wheel. He eventually encounters Ai, and is surprised by her seemingly indifference towards the tricks he normally uses to scare people off. Showing off his ability to shapeshift, Ai then recruited him, becoming the first assistant to Ai.Next comes Hone, thought her full name is considered Hone-Onna. Hone was Ai's third assistant, and likely the most vain of the group. In life, her real name had been Tsuyu, and was forced into a life of prostitution after a man she was in love with sold her to a brothel so he could pay off his debts. She fell in love with a client and the two planned her escape, and Tsuyu convinced him to let fellow prostitute Kiyo come with them. Kiyo and Tsuyu were very close, and both would not leave the other behind. As it got closer to their escape however, Kiyo became nervous about the plan and told the owner of the brothel. He then caught Tsuyu and the man as they escaped, and they were killed, Tsuyu's body being thrown into a filthy river. At the bottom of the river, her spirit encountered those of dozens of women, many who led similarly unfortunate lives and brutally murdered. Together they joined together with Tsuyu as their host to become Hone. Hone would appear to people on the shore, but her spirit appearing as a skeleton in certain parts, she unintentionally scared people away. She would eventually encounter Ai, whom she gladly worked for.Finally comes Ren. Like Wanyuudo, Ren was a tsukumogami, though Ren was specifically a famous katana. He had many owners, and most did horrible things with the katana that made Ren feel awful. The one often burned into his memory was the slaughter of a princess, his owner slaughtering every soldier during a battle and demanding that he marry her. She refuses, stating she would rather die than become his wife, so he beheads her. Sometime later, though it is very unclear how much time has passed, an incredibly climactic battle takes place, and seemingly everyone perishes. The sword Ren is bound to left in a large rock. Ai encounters him and speaks to him, granting him a human appearing spirit and requesting his services. Ai senses that there is something he is looking for, and gives that as her excuse to invite Ren into the group. Though it is unclear what he is searching for, as Ren himself is confused at first when she makes this statement, through his own dialouge with others and himself it is inferred that what he was really searching for was companionship, having been alone almost all of his existence. He is very attached to the others, once even referring to them as family. Ren's own loneliness sometimes means he can get attached to clients, and this happens right around when we start to learn more about him. Ren resents his past life, being used as a tool and watching the senseless slaugther of others without being able to do anything himself.And that is about all we know about the main three that assist Ai. //

β€” The Blackest Night

06/04/2021 05:24 PM 


THE DIAGNOSIS OF A COMIC BOOK CHARACTERby — The Blackest NightPART I: Psychiatric Mood DisordersMood disorders are a type of mental disorder characterized by a disturbance of emotions, or mood. In the not-too-distant past, these were classified as affective disorders. Mood disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - Fourth edition, called the DSM-IV, are divided into: a) Depressive Disorders, b) Bipolar Disorders, c) Mood Disorder Due to a General Medical Condition, and d) Substance-Induced Mood Disorder.The specific types of mood disorders that I will discuss for the purposes of this paper, are the Bipolar Disorders.The essential feature of a Bipolar disorder is the presence of at least one Manic Episode. Unipolar or Major Depressive Disorder is characterized by one or more Major Depressive Episodes, but there will not be any Manic, Mixed, or Hypomanic episodes. If even one Manic episode occurs, or the person has a history of even one Manic, Mixed, or Hypomanic episode, the diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder has to be changed to a Bipolar Disorder.A Manic Episode is defined as being a "distinct period during which there is an abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood." (DSM-IV, 1994.) The disturbance must be accompanied by at least three additional symptoms, including, from the DSM-IV: (1) inflated self-esteem; (2) decreased need for sleep; (3) more talkative than usual or pressure to keep talking; (4) flight of ideas or subjective experience that thoughts are racing; (5) distractibility; (6) increase in goal-directed activity or psychomotor agitation; and (7) excessive involvement in pleasurable activities that have a high potential for painful consequences.The elevated mood of a Manic Episode can range from euphoric and cheerful to a kind of "high" seen with intoxication. It is expansive and indiscriminate. This elevated mood can become increasingly one of irritability and anger when the person's desires are thwarted. A lability of mood, i.e., rapid swings between euphoria and irritability, are frequently seen.Inflated self-esteem is also typically present in a Manic Episode, and can range from arrogant self-confidence to grandiosity, and can often become delusions of grandeur.The person in a Manic state needs little sleep; when the sleep disturbance is severe, a person can go days without sleep.The speech of a person in a Manic state is usually "pressured" -- accelerated and difficult or impossible to interrupt. It can be loud. The individual may become theatrical and overly dramatic. If the person's mood has become irritable, the speech may be typically aggressive, hostile, and consist of angry tirades and threats.Significantly (for the purposes of this paper) the increase in goal-directed activities involves the excessive planning of, and participation in, multiple activities that can have political, as well as sexual, occupational, or religious overtones. The person suffering through a Manic Episode may simultaneously take on new ventures without regard to the apparent risks, or the need to complete each venture satisfactorily. There is an increased sociability, but one that is demanding, domineering, or intrusive. During a Manic Episode, the individual often shows psychomotor agitation or restlessness.Elevated mood, grandiosity, poor judgement, and irritability almost always lead to reckless behavior, involvement in activities (sexual, business, political) that are likely to end up having very negative consequences.The impairment caused by a Manic Episode must be severe enough to cause a significant break in the individual's functioning, requiring hospitalization to stop the person from being a danger to him/her-self and others. If psychotic features are present during a Manic Episode, by definition, there is a marked impairment of functioning.One problematic area in my diagnosis is the criteria: that the symptoms of the Manic Episode or Episodes must not be due to the physiological effects of a substance, or a general medical condition. Sometimes it is not easy to decide, without extensive medical examinations and testing, what is caused by a genuine, pre-existing Bipolar Disorder, and what is caused by additional factors, such as the development of a general medical condition. Also, it is possible that Bipolar Disorder is caused by physiological factors, or a general medical condition, in everyone, so that the degree to which genetics and environment or environmental stressors interact and cause an individual to develop a Bipolar Disorder is unknown.Bipolar Disorders are distinguished by the occurrence of at least one Manic, or Hypomanic (a less severe form of a Manic Episode, with less severe symptoms) Episode, which are usually accompanied by Major Depressive Episodes. The Manic and Depressive Episodes are said to cycle, that is, occur and reoccur in patterns. Manic symptoms must have been present for at least one week, and if these are Hypomanic symptoms, for four days.Some of the symptoms of a Major Depressive Episode are: depressed mood, markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities nearly every day, weight loss or gain, insomnia or hypersomnia, psychomotor agitation, or retardation, fatigue and loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness and/or inappropriate excessive guilt, diminished ability to concentrate, indecisiveness, recurrent thoughts of death. A person in a depressed mood will also feel anhedonia, the complete loss of the ability to feel pleasure in usually pleasurable activities. The person also feels strongly pessimistic about the future. There is self-denigration, and self-accusation. The outward appearance of a person suffering from a Major Depressive Episode is usually sloppy, unkempt, unshaved. The face has a dull, masklike expression.There are several different types of Bipolar Disorders, including Bipolar I -- Most Recent Episode Depressed, and Bipolar I -- Most Recent Episode Manic. There are also: Bipolar I, Most Recent Episode Mixed, Most Recent Episode Hypomanic, and Most Recent Episode Unspecified.There is also Bipolar II Disorder, which is characterized by recurrent Major Depressive Episodes and Hypomanic Episodes. There is Cyclothymic Disorder, which is characterized by the chronic cycling of Hypomanic Disturbances, and less severe (Dysthymic) Depressive Episodes. And there is Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.There can be accompanying psychotic features, with either the Depressive Episode (most recent or current), or the Manic Episode (most recent or current). The actual specifier, "Severe With Psychotic Features," indicates the presence of either delusions or hallucinations (usually auditory). Most commonly the content of the delusions "is consistent with the manic themes." (DSM-IV, 1994.) That is, these are mood-congruent features; the content of the delusions corresponds to the goals and activities that the individual is engaged in. If mood-congruent psychotic features are present, the prognosis is better, than if mood-incongruent psychotic features are present. Some common psychotic delusions are: grandiose delusions -- a delusion of inflated worth, power, knowledge, identity, or special relationship with a deity. Delusions of reference -- where a person believes that events, objects, or other person's have a particular and unusual significance. Delusions of persecution, the central theme of which is that the person is being attacked, cheated, persecuted, conspired against.PART 2: Background and History of MagnetoThe comic book character Magneto was created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby for Marvel comics, in the very first issue of the comic book X-MEN, back in the fall of 1963.The character initially was portrayed as a raving, typical villain, with the mutant super-ability to channel the earth's electromagnetic field, and perhaps produce his own magnetic energy as well. The first run of X-MEN went on hiatus in 1970, and when the book was resumed in 1975, new writer Chris Claremont took another look at all these characters called the X-Men, those Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and others created, and those Claremont created or co-created, and gave them histories, backgrounds, and complex personalities.Marvel Comics has a domain, a continuous back-story, called "the Marvel Universe," or, "Marvel Continuity." This has been, in the past, mostly rigorously adhered to. Each writer/artist team acknowledged the writing and art of teams before them, and continued these characters' adventures by building on what had come before. Sometimes the more recent stories "inserted" or "retconned" (which stands for retroactive continuity) background or history for characters. So while the actual chronology of the stories isn't in order, a fan of a particular character can collect all the references to this character, and form a time-line, or historiography.This is the case for the character Magneto. The following biographical sketch incorporates all Magneto appearances and all Magneto facts, up until the present time. Many aspects of the character's history and personality have to be deduced, or inferred. Much is extrapolated from what is known.Magneto's birth-name is unknown. He has called himself "Magnus" for many years, and henceforth will be called Magnus in this paper.Magnus was most likely born in the late 1920s, to a middle-class or professional and educated Jewish family that resided somewhere in Central or Eastern Europe. He was most likely born in Poland. (New Mutants #61.) His family either spoke German, or Yiddish (Uncanny X-Men #327) but that could be because his parents were from Germany, and moved to Poland in the 1920s, or, they lived in one of the German-speaking regions of Poland, such as West or East Prussia.From what little we've seen of Magneto's family -- in nightmares and intrusive flashbacks -- they were well-dressed in up-to-date clothing, and were not peasants or living in poverty. (New Mutants #49, Uncanny X-Men #274.)Magneto's family was deported from their home, probably just after the start of World War II, in 1939. It is unclear whether or not they were exiled first, as many Jews were from West and East Prussia at that time, and then were murdered, or whether they were led directly from their homes to the killing fields. But the fact is, at some point between 1939 -- when his family was registered as all Jews were in Poland (New Mutants #61) -- and 1940, Magneto's entire immediate family was led to a mass grave, along with many other people, some Orthodox Jews, some urban assimilated Jews like Magneto's family, and shot. We know that Magneto was a boy at the time, probably 13, and his only sister was older than he. His parents and sister and he were shot by Nazis using machine guns. They fell into the mass grave, but unknown to Magnus, his nascent mutant powers first manifested at this terrible moment, and deflected the Nazi bullets, saving himself but not the rest of his family.Magnus clawed his way out of the mass grave, after quick-lime had been thrown on top of it, but before it was covered over. (X-Men, vol.2, #1, New Mutants #49.) He was caught almost at once by the startled SS who were in the process of burying the dead. Not knowing exactly what to do with him, and thinking he was older than he actually was, they sent him to Auschwitz, which had opened in the summer of 1940. We can surmise that Magnus' family was murdered either by the SS during the first deportations that lasted through the summer of 1940, or by the Einsatzgruppen in 1941, and that he was at Auschwitz "from the start," as it has been stated in the narration (Classic X-Men #12), and that he was a boy when he was first sent to Auschwitz, and that he "grew up" there. (Uncanny X-Men #161.)More importantly, Magnus survived Auschwitz until almost the end of the war. He survived, we know, because at some point he was transferred to the Sonderkommando (Uncanny X-Men #274), where he became one of the "crematoria ravens" who helped the Nazis lead the victims to the gas chambers, collect their belongings, pull the bodies out of the gas chambers, and burn them. The Nazis always chose Jews for the Sonderkommando, and this is a very important fact; it was a part of the Nazi campaign against, and hatred of, the Jewish people, to give some of the young men a chance at life in exchange for keeping the death-factory running!It is also surmised, that young Magnus could not have survived the first year at Auschwitz, before he was old enough for the Sonderkommando, without the "protection" of an older Jewish or Polish prisoner or kapo (prisoner-guard who was given power over the others and acted like a kind of overseer). He was probably physically and sexually abused at this time.Like all Auschwitz inmates, young Magnus would have suffered from the most humiliating and dire circumstances on a daily basis. He suffered constant physical and psychological abuse, malnutrition, and the effects of diseases. As a member of the Sonderkommando, Magnus would have made a daily "deal with the devil" -- to stay alive while he helped kill his own people. Sonderkommando members were also given enormous amounts of vodka, to keep them working.Magnus, however, tried valiantly to keep his humanity. He tried to help other inmates, smuggling food to them, and giving them hope. (Uncanny X-Men #199.) At some point, Magnus met or saw a young girl, most likely a Gypsy, or Romany, possibly of the Sinte tribe, named Magda. She was most likely brought into the camp in 1943, when the German and Austrian Gypsies were sent to Auschwitz, to the Gypsy Family Camp. Magnus fell in love with this girl, and brought her food, and helped her survive. In August of 1944, the entire Gypsy camp was murdered, taken to the gas chambers -- Magnus apparently saved Magda, but no one else in her family. He apparently bribed guards, kapos, and anyone else he had to, to transfer Magda to the Jewish woman's camp. Magnus probably told Magda about the murder of her family (Classic X-Men #12), but he may or may not have told her about his being a party to the murder, as a member of the SK.In the winter of 1944-1945, as the Russian army closed in on Auschwitz, Magnus killed an SS soldier who was about to kill Magda, and the two of them escaped into the snowy woods to the northeast of the camp. Magnus was most likely 17 years old at this time. Magda was probably younger, around 14 or 15 years old.They wandered for a long time, and Magnus took care of Magda, finding her food and clothing. They eventually settled in a Carpathian Mountain village, where after several years, during which time they recuperated from their ordeal, they were married. It is surmised that Magda, who was very beautiful, was badly treated in Auschwitz and she would have found an intimate relationship with Magnus difficult if he had pressured her immediately after their escape. Given his tender concern for Magda, we can presume that he waited for her to recover, physically and emotionally, and agree to marry him. Magnus seems to have been in love with Magda from the start. We don't know when Magda fell in love with Magnus, or how she defined love. He was her saviour, her protector; Magnus promised her he would always look after her, and protect her. (Classic X-Men #12.)Magnus' daughter was born a few years after he and Magda were married. The girl was named Anya. Magnus adored Anya, and she was the light of his life. He called her his "talisman" -- the promise that things were going to be better, and the world was a better place. (Classic X-Men #12.)Magnus was restless, however. From an educated, urban family, he found life in the Carpathian village to be restricting and frustrating. He therefore insisted that they move to a bigger city, one where he could find work (as a carpenter and general contractor) while he went to university in order to better himself, and their station in life. Magda did not want to move.They arrived in the Soviet city of Vinnitsa when Anya was around 4 or 5 years old (some time in the late 1950s). On the very first day there, after his very first day of work, the foreman on the job tried to cheat Magnus out of his pay. Magnus used his powers for the second time, but this time he realized it. He sent a crowbar flying at the foreman's head, barely missing him. When he arrived back at the inn where his wife and daughter were staying, he saw that it was on fire, and Magda was frantic -- she had left the child alone, upstairs, she said, so that she could find something to cook for dinner. Magnus and Magda ran into the burning inn, and as the building's ceiling started to collapse, Magnus formed a magnetic force-bubble to protect him and his wife. They both were amazed, and Magnus was suddenly jubilant. He felt he could save Anya, with these new powers. But, when he and his wife ran outside, the foreman pointed him out, and the police, along with several members of the crowd, grabbed Magnus, beating him up while he begged them to let him go so he could save his daughter. While his daughter screamed for help, and called "Poppa!" Magnus could not help her. Finally, Anya fell burning from the building, landing just in front of Magnus. The crowd, somewhat stunned, backed away and let him go. Magnus, in a fit of rage and grief, unleashed his powers for the third time that day, and sent electromagnetic radiation -- like horizontal lightning -- shooting out in all directions, killing the police and members of the crowd who were nearby. Magda, meanwhile, stood there untouched. She seemed to be going into a dissociative state, calling her husband a "monster." She ran away from him, as he called and called her to help him bury their daughter, to come back to him. Magnus was too weak and injured to run after her. Shortly thereafter, he took the body of Anya and escaped into the woods, where he buried the child.He then began a years-long search for Magda. He went to a forger named Georg Odekirk, who gave him a false identity, one which people in the Marvel Universe (and readers) would come to believe was genuine. This was Erik Magnus Lehnsherr, a Sinte Gypsy; he took that identity in order to hide from the Soviet police and KGB, and, to more effectively search for Magda, in the camps and settlements of her people.Unknown to Magnus, when Magda ran away, she was pregnant with twins. She later ended up at Wundagore Mountain, in the country of Transia, at the citadel of a villain-scientist named the High Evolutionary (Edward Wyndham). With a cow-woman as midwife, Magda gave birth to Pietro and Wanda, and then ran out into the night, into the snow, disappearing, her fate unknown. Bova, the cow-woman, and her master, the High Evolutionary, gave the twin infants to a Gypsy couple (the Maximoffs) who had lost their own babies.Magnus, meanwhile, searched Europe for Magda, couldn't find her, and finally gave up and immigrated to Israel. He had no family, and even though he had forged "Lehnsherr" papers that could get him into any country, he decided to go to Israel, as a Jew. It is presumed that he dropped the name "Lehnsherr" at this time, and entered Israel as "Erik Magnus," since all he needed to enter the country was his Auschwitz tattoo, the testimony of other survivors who knew him, and the fact he was circumcised. (Which he would have been, or the Nazis wouldn't have categorized him as a Jew in the first place, since with his family dead, he could have pretended to be of another religion or ethnic group, and gotten away with it, given his looks.)Erik Magnus worked in a hospital in Haifa. It was primarily a psychiatric hospital, that treated primarily Holocaust survivors. While it is doubtful that Magnus sought therapy himself, or was willing to tell anything about himself due to the events in Vinnitsa, for which murders he was a wanted man, he would have been exposed to group therapy, and staff meetings, at this time. Magnus was caring and devoted, and there is testimony that he was helpful in alleviating the distress of his fellow survivors who were patients in that hospital. (Uncanny X-Men #161, Uncanny X-Men #321, X-Men vol. 2, #40 and #41, X-Men Unlimited #2.)At this time, some 20 years ago, Magnus first met Charles Francis Xavier. Xavier was also a man of immense power, and a mutant. Unlike Magnus, he had years to become accustomed to his immense telepathic abilities, and to form theories and a philosophy about the existence of "mutants" among the general population. Xavier was from a privileged American family, from upstate New York. At the time he first met Magnus, he was already thinking of ways to ensure the peaceful co-existence of mutants and non-mutants.Charles Xavier had come to Israel at the request of Dr. Shomron, an Israeli psychiatrist, who needed his friend's help in the treatment of a Holocaust survivor named Gabrielle Haller, who remained in a state of rigid catatonia. Xavier used his psionic powers to help Gabrielle recover, and Xavier, Gabrielle Haller, and Magnus became close friends.But not long after, Baron Strucker, a Nazi war criminal who had escaped justice, and who had taken over a neo-Nazi organization named HYDRA, attacked and kidnapped Gabrielle Haller. (It turns out, he was the Nazi SS officer who had sexually abused her when she was a child in a concentration camp, and he had implanted in her mind, the map of a huge stash of Nazi stolen gold.)Xavier and Magnus came to Gabrielle's rescue, but in the course of the fight, Magnus used his powers openly, became violent and agitated and suddenly -- after killing the Nazis (but not Strucker, a perennial Marvel villain who has popped up time and time again) against Xavier's wishes, he used his magnetic powers to raise the huge hoard of gold and carry it off, declaring that the gold would be used in the struggle of mutants to secure a safe place in the world.This is the first recorded instance, witnessed by Xavier, where Magnus clearly identified with being a mutant. The gold -- Nazi gold stolen from mostly Jewish victims, some of which Magnus himself had helped pull off of dead bodies when he was in the Sonderkommando -- had passed from being the gold of Magnus' Jewish People, to being the gold of his Mutant People.Magnus next, apparently, began working for a covert agency, probably the CIA, but possibly he was a double-agent for Mossad and the CIA. He took the codename MAGNETO at this time. He ostensibly was hunting Nazis for the CIA, but as a double-agent, working for the Israeli government, he actually was finding the escaped Nazi war criminals and turning them over to Israel for trial. (Classic X-men #19.) During this time, Magnus met a beautiful doctor named Isabelle, who understood he was a mutant, and tried to help him. Magnus may or may not have had a sexual relationship with Isabelle. (Classic X-Men #19.) At moments when he was most close to Isabelle, when it seemed the next step was for him to begin making love to her, Magnus was overwhelmed with memories of Magda. He was reminded of Magda's words, accusing him of being a "monster." Magnus seems to have feared two things: being disloyal to Magda, who he still hoped to find, and, becoming a "monster"-- that is, he feared that if Isabelle became his lover, he would lose control of his powers once again, become the "monster" that Magda had accused him of being, and kill Isabelle.Unfortunately, his worst fears were realized in a way. While Isabelle was comforting him, trying to relax him by giving him a back massage, in their hotel room in Brazil, Magneto's Control, his boss at the CIA, showed up with some thugs, who grabbed Isabelle by the hair and slit her throat. They threw her body down next to Magnus, who was just realizing what was happening. Then, Control admonished Magnus for capturing "our" Nazis (as in, Nazis the US government wanted) and turning them over to Israel. In other words, Magnus' status as a double agent had been discovered. Control ordered his men to kill Magnus, but Magnus declared himself MAGNETO, a superior being, a mutant, homo- sapiens-superior, and rose into the air, in a sense declaring war on the human race while killing the CIA men below him. (Classic X-Men #19.)Magneto's next known appearance suggested he was attempting to organize some sort of resistance movement, or at least was trying to expose how governments around the world were misusing mutants. (Generation X #10.) There is very little known about Magneto's activities at this time.Magneto at some point around 11 years ago, created a costume for himself, and a helmet, and formed an organization, to counter the group of teens that Xavier founded (the X-Men). He called his group, with ironic intent, The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. (As in, you think all mutants are "evil" well, then, here we are, the "EVIL" mutants.) The members of this group included Toad, Mastermind, and two teens -- twins -- from Transia, whom Magneto had rescued not long before. The twin youths were named Wanda and Pietro, codenamed the Scarlet Witch -- who had probability-altering powers, and Quicksilver -- who had super-speed. Magneto had no idea these were his children with Magda, and he treated them quite brutally. He was alternately cold, aloof and withdrawn, and ranting and manic at this time, as witnessed by Wanda. (X-Men -1.)Briefly, Magneto attacked Cape Citadel, and the X-Men defeated him. (Uncanny X-Men #1.) Thus began a long enmity between Magneto and the X- Men and various X-Men allies. Magneto's attacks were always accompanied by his elaborate speeches about mutant superiority. Magneto's initial goals were to rule the world and turn it into a place where mutants wouldn't be persecuted, but where he, Magneto, would be the sole dictator. He also made vague and contradictory statements about mutants generally ruling over non-mutant humans.Magneto was captured by an alien being named The Stranger, along with Toad (Mortimer Toynbee). (Uncanny X-Men #11.) Magneto escaped once, returned to earth, tried to defeat the X-Men once again, but this time, Xavier called the Stranger back! The Stranger recaptured Magneto, and threw him back on a cold, barren planetoid prison, where Toad had remained. (Uncanny X-Men #18.) This event seems to have triggered something in Magneto, since he became incoherent, threatening, making delusional and grandiose statements about conquering the universe! (Avengers #47.) Magneto escaped the Stranger a second time, on this occasion with Toad, returned to earth, and attacked Wanda and Pietro, who had joined the hero group, the AVENGERS, and were more than happy to have nothing whatsoever to do with Magneto.At this time Magneto built an extraordinary island base with incredibly advanced technology, and articulated vague goals about conquering the world again. But soon, Magneto became completely distracted by the need to get control of Wanda and Pietro, and then, the X-Men. When he found out that Xavier, his old friend, was supposedly dead, he gloated in a wild, incoherent speech full of rage. (Uncanny X-Men #43.) Magneto was eventually defeated by the X-Men and the Avengers, and pretended to fall to his death on some rocks, to cover his escape. (Uncanny X-Men #45, Avengers #53.)He next showed up in the Savage Land, a place where dinosaurs still live, that exists in a timeless Triassic state. It is located somewhere under Antarctica. Magneto built himself a citadel. He kidnapped local swamp-dwellers, primitive people, and abusing his own body, using his own life force and magnetic powers, he mutated them, genetically altered them, turning them into his slaves. All the while he was masquerading as The Creator. (Uncanny X-Men #62, #63.)Again, he goals were contradictory, clear and vague at once, his actions seemingly brilliant and insane. He was manipulative and talked endlessly, but despite having some design on using the mutated humans as an army to conquer the world, ultimately there was almost no point to all Magneto's activities.The X-Men defeated him once again, and at the end of this story (Uncanny X-Men #63), he was last seen on his knees, shouting, "Yes ... too late ... TOO LATE! Too late to do ANYTHING ... BUT DIE!!" as his Savage Land citadel collapsed on him. He made no attempt to escape, or ask for assistance, and instead seemed to be hyper-dramatic and out of touch with reality.Magneto survived, however, and was rescued later by Prince Namor, the Submariner, ruler of the undersea kingdom of Atlantis. (Fantastic Four #102.) Magneto tried to trick Prince Namor and the people of Atlantis to help him invade the earth. He kidnapped Sue Richards, the Invisible Woman, from the Fantastic Four. (Fantastic Four #102, #103.) Sue's husband, Reed Richards, also of the Fantastic Four, stopped Magneto, and was able to take him prisoner. How this was done, is significant. Richards used a device that turned Magneto's own powers against him; like a Chinese-finger-puzzle, the more Magneto used his powers, the more he was restrained -- ensuring that only HE captured himself. (Fantastic Four #104.) The Fantastic Four placed Magneto at this time in a small, completely non-magnetic prison cell, and inhibited his powers with an anti-magnetic force fieldMagneto eventually escaped after going into a completely quiet, meditative state. Once he was back in a more grotesque version of his old costume, he reappeared trying to build a machine that would mutate ALL of the non-mutants on earth. His speeches were by now incoherent, his actions bizarre and violent.(Amazing Adventures vol.1, #9, and #10.) Magneto tried to carry out his plans in illogical ways; he was observed by many at this time, having captured Black Bolt, the king of the Inhumans. (The Inhumans are a group of altered humans who live segregated from the rest of humanity. Pietro, (Quicksilver), married an Inhuman princess, Crystal. Black Bolt is married to Crystal's sister, Medusa.) Witnesses at this time uniformly reported Magneto to be insane. They reported hearing "insane" laughter, and witnesses could see Magneto's face as wide-eyed and maniacal, his features twisted. He almost succeeded in destroying every non-mutant human in the world, using nuclear energy to power his "universe machine." However, when it was clear he was defeated, Magneto detonated the nuclear energy canister he was going to use as a power source, and attempted to vaporize himself, saying, as he appeared to die, "Now ... the power is MINE ... the GLORY -- THE HONOR -- FOREVER -- MAGneto's...."But he survived. He battled the AVENGERS again (Avengers #110, #111), and kidnapped Wanda, making her dance while under his mental control. He didn't know she was his daughter, but it still was a terrible moment. By this time, he was visibly altered -- his eyes wide and staring, with huge circles underneath. His body ravaged by the explosions and injuries he'd sustained. He used a special costume that once belonged to another one of the X-Men, Angel (Warren Worthington III), to siphon off the life-energy of Angel and this helped keep Magneto going. He obtained the costume by attacking Xavier and the X-Men in the X-mansion (Xavier's estate and mansion in Westchester County, New York), beating the crippled Charles Xavier and the young X-Men, and trashing the contents of the mansion. It is significant to note, that although Magneto had often threatened he would kill Xavier and the X-Men, when he caught them off- guard at this time, he did not kill them, but instead ranted at them, threatened them, physically abused them, and destroyed their property. Furthermore, he sent video pictures of the whole scene of destruction to Avenger's Mansion, in New York City, where the Avengers watched helplessly, and were thus lured to the mansion to render assistance. Which is how and where Magneto captured them. The Avengers defeated Magneto once again, captured him, and attempted to imprison him in an energy-globe, deep underground.This prison globe was small, and Magneto was completely isolated. Magneto was able to escape when the approach of a comet caused just enough of a shift in the energy globe's integrity, that Magneto was able to use his powers to get out. (Defenders #15.)Next, Magneto formed another group of "evil" mutants, recreating some of his Savage Land mutates. These included Lorelei, a mutate woman whom Magneto seemed to be personally attached to, although it is highly unlikely he had a sexual relationship with Lorelei, or anyone, at this time. Magneto then attempted to attack the United Nations building, lifting it magnetically in the air, while he used a being he had created himself, grown from a test-tube, Mutant Alpha, to try and conquer the world. BUT, this creation, Mutant Alpha was evolving at an accelerated rate, and became a "star- man" almost overnight. While Xavier, and Dr. Strange, and other heroes looked on, Mutant Alpha judged Magneto, and the others in his little Brotherhood. Mutant Alpha decided to give Magneto a second chance, and reduced him to the age of a six-month old baby.(Defenders #15, #16.)Charles Xavier took baby Magneto to Muir Island, and gave him to the care of Dr. Moira MacTaggart. The baby was put in a cell, but Moira tried to treat him with love and care. Whatever Xavier felt he was going to do, to change Magneto, he never got the chance. An agent of the alien Shi'ar empire, Davan Shakari, re-aged Magneto, restored him to his prime, his health, and restored all his memories, all at once. (Uncanny X-Men #104.)Magneto briefly attacked the X-Men on Shakari's advice, (Uncanny X- Men #104) and planned revenge, for his being a helpless infant in Xavier's care. But his mind wasn't in ferment, and the memories were haunting him, even while he captured the X-Men (the new team) and imprisoned them in his Antarctic base. This time he strapped the X-Men to chairs that suppressed their powers, and reduced them to the level of six-month-old babies! He created a robot, named Nanny, who he dressed in a cliched maid's costume, and programmed with a horrid, sickeningly sweet voice and over-attentive manner, to "care" for the X-Men in their helpless state. Thanks to Storm, whose coordination was extraordinary, even when she was a baby, the X-Men were able to escape, but Magneto's Antarctic base was destroyed in the process. Magneto was very proud of his Antarctic base, and indeed it was comparable technologically speaking, to anything other Marvel Universe geniuses could have created. (Uncanny X-Men #112, Uncanny X-Men #113, Classic X-Men #12, Classic X-Men #19.)After this, Magneto continued to alternate between periods of violent behavior and quiet, intense brooding, up on the asteroid base he built for himself, that he positioned in stationary orbit over the then Soviet Union, probably over Anya's grave. (Uncanny X-Men #125.)After one such period of violence, where he ordered all of earth to give up their nuclear weapons, and let him, Magneto, rule the world in order to bring peace (and he was sincere, too), he once again battled the X-Men. This time, on his Caribbean island base, he almost killed Kitty Pryde, who was them around 14 years old, a Jewish girl, codename, Shadowcat, a member of the X-Men. Magneto had a breakdown of sorts, suddenly refusing to fight any more, suddenly becoming aware of what he was doing. He disappeared. (Uncanny X- Men #148, #149, #150.)Magneto disappeared to brood, once again, on Asteroid M. But an incoming being, from an alien techno-organic civilization with rigid rules and regulations, a being who was a "mutant" and did not want to comply with those rules and regulations and was fleeing to earth, collided with Asteroid M, breaking it to pieces. Magneto was sent falling to earth, where he ended up seriously injured and near death, floating in the Atlantic Ocean. (New Mutants #21.)He was rescued by Lee Forrester, the captain of a boat, sometime X- Men ally, and super-hero groupie. He fell in love with Lee, and because of that relationship, Magneto seems to have calmed down. (Uncanny X-Men #188, New Mutants #23, #24, #26, #28.) It should also be noted that, at this time, Magneto's injuries were serious enough to require hospitalization, and that when he returned with Lee Forrester to his Caribbean island base to recuperate, he found it very difficult to use his magnetic powers. Although the extent of Magneto's physical injuries are unknown, he was clearly in enormous pain every time he attempted to used his powers in any significant way).Xavier appeared thrilled that Magnus agreed to try Xavier's way once again, and had seemingly reformed and was still "good." (Uncanny X-Men #196.) Soon thereafter Magneto gave himself up for trial, when he was captured by agents of the US government while attending a Holocaust memorial event in Washington DC. He was brought before the World Court, and Gabrielle Haller was his defense lawyer, but the trial was disrupted by an attack from the children of Baron Strucker. The Strucker twins (the Fenris) were defeated, but Xavier became gravely ill, and he decided to leave the earth, and go off with his lady-friend, the Majestrix of the Shi'ar Empire, Lilandra. He convinced Magnus to take over for him, as head of the X-Men's youngest recruits, the New Mutants.(Uncanny X-Men #199, #200.)Magneto did so. He tried. He tried to control himself, to think rationally. He had the support of Lee, for a time, and of the X-woman Storm, who believed in Magneto and helped give him confidence. But eventually, after being baited by the Hellfire Club, after joining the Hellfire Club at Storm's advice, after Storm and the other X-Men appeared to die, and left Magneto without any emotional support, Magnus started becoming more and more agitated, delusional, returning to his old patterns of thinking and behaving. (Most of the New Mutants run between #35 and #75; X-Factor #9; Uncanny X-Men #196, #199, #200 - #203, #210 - #213, #219; Fantastic Four vs. the X-Men; X-Men vs. the Avengers; Vision and the Scarlet Witch vol. 1 #4; Vision and the Scarlet Witch vol.2, #1, #3, #6, #12; Secret Wars vol. 2, Fallen Angels #1, #2.)Magneto claims that when he put on the old red and purple costume, and abandoned the New Mutants, he was just trying to give the world someone to hate. That he was just trying to play the part of villain, so the world would be after him, and leave other mutants alone. (Uncanny X-Men #253.)After allying himself with Rogue, Ka-Zar (leader of the Savage Land), Nick Fury (SHIELD), and some Russians, Magneto defeated a villainess named Zaladane, whom Magneto killed execution style while Rogue (his latest love) pleaded with him not to. Magneto left Rogue and the others, and promised he would be fighting "evil" mutants, and trying to help all mutants. (Uncanny X-Men #274, #275.)But, he didn't keep that promise. Instead, he ended up rebuilding a fancy version of Asteroid M, and sat there, in space. His hair grew long and wild, he was unshaven, his appearance and mood were dark and brooding. It was at this time that a would-be assassin named Fabian Cortez showed up in Asteroid M's space, with a bunch of escaped prisoners (henceforth known as Acolytes), all mutants, who claimed Magneto was their "Lord." Magneto at first tried to send them away. But Cortez manipulated him, secretly amping his powers, forcing Magneto to become dependent on him, while pushing all the right emotional buttons. Cortez's goal was the murder of Magneto. He engineered events such that Magneto became a villain again in the world's eyes, Magneto became an enemy again of the X-Men, and Magneto became manic again, engaging in violent and threatening actions, making violent and threatening hyper-dramatic speeches.Magneto discovered something in the midst of the initial fight with the X- Men, that was provoked by Cortez. He discovered, that while he was a baby, Moira MacTaggart had tried to change his genetic structure, to make him better able to deal with his immense powers. Moira's theory was completely rooted in the biomedical model: Magneto had gone insane, but this was due to the overuse of powers his brain could not handle.Magneto became totally obsessed with what Moira had done. He immediately kidnapped Xavier, also, blaming him, although Xavier had nothing to do with this. Magneto forget entirely about Cortez, about his "Acolytes" and about any goals he might have had. Instead he forced Moira to "alter" the X-Men the same way he had been genetically altered, which he claimed, was an attempt by Xavier and MacTaggart to mind-control him. Which of course, was not what Moira had tried to do. But Magneto insisted, raved, yelled, and clapped a metal body suit on Moira, to torture her into doing what he wanted. (He once had cared very much for Moira, and had good memories of her treatment of him, when he was a baby. He accused her now of betraying him.)Moira did something superficial to make the X-Men look like they were under Magneto's mind control, but she fixed it to work only until they used their mutant powers. Once they did, and exerted their strong individual wills, the effects of Moira's changes on the X-Men were negated. Meanwhile, Cortez was slowly killing Magneto. Cortez's mutant power was/is the ability to amp or augment another mutant's powers, to dangerous levels. And, after Magneto was sliced by Wolverine's claws in that prior battle with the X-Men (X-Men vol. 2, #1), and was badly injured, Cortez pretended to heal him while instead amplifying Magneto's own powers to mask the effects of the woundMagneto finally began to discorporate, the molecular bonds of his body were being pulled apart. Cortez's intent was discovered, Asteroid M was falling to the earth, and Magneto once again elected to die, with his Acolytes, those desperate young mutants whom Cortez had tricked and used. (X-Men, vol. 2, #3.)Magneto crashed, but was saved by the sacrifice of one of the Acolytes. All the other Acolytes of this first band, died. He was badly injured and somehow got to Antarctica, and his citadel there, to recover. He once again went through a spell of isolation, letting his appearance become unkempt, not knowing which direction to turn. At this time, he saved Xavier's life when the latter was injured during a blizzard, near Magneto's citadel. (X-Men Unlimited #1.)Another mutant, named Exodus, now seems to have found Magneto -- during this time of depression and brooding. Exodus, a telepath and teleporter, who suffers from psychotic episodes, seems to have been a catalyst for a return of Magneto's own violent and psychotic behavior. Although Magneto said he was attempting to create a mutant homeland in space -- a homeland named "Avalon" -- not exactly a name that someone like Magneto would give a place -- he actually did nothing but attack Charles Xavier and the X-Men during a little girl's funeral, and then attack the earth with a special electromagnetic pulse-wave that killed thousands.Magneto's mania escalated during this attack on Xavier, the X-Men, and earth. His speech patterns and tirades in particular were wildly contradictory, hyper-dramatic, and threatening. He was clearly delusional, and dangerous. Finally, in desperation, Xavier led an away team to the space-station/ship, for a final attempt to stop Magneto. At this point, Xavier did something he swore he'd never do. He mind-wiped Magneto, leaving him a mental vegetable.Magneto was cared for on Avalon by mutant followers, another group of Acolytes. He may or may not have been waking up. He may or may not have been rational.A few months ago, Marvel Time, Avalon was attacked and destroyed, and Jean Grey and Scott Summers helped save the Acolytes. The X-man Colossus saved the seemingly comatose Magneto. But once they landed in Antarctica, Magneto disappeared.The next thing everyone knew, there was this long-haired, twenty- something, amnesiac man, calling himself Joseph, who everyone thought was Magneto. Joseph seemed to be a Magneto who had been once again de-aged, and didn't know who he was.Joseph was and is an innocent, and was supposed to be the good side of Magneto, or the sane side of Magneto. No one knows, since now, Joseph apparently is NOT Magneto. The real Magneto showed up, just weeks ago, more distorted and irrational than ever before. He was wearing a costume, pretending to be someone else. He tortured and tormented the X-Men he captured. He sent out bounty-hunters to capture Gambit, an X-man, but then captured his own bounty-hunters, putting his former love Rogue in the arms of Gambit, watching them have sex (it is implied) in a cave while they were wearing chains. (Yes, this was in an X-Men comic.) Either this is some terrible mistake by the writers, or it isn't Magneto, or, Magneto is exhibiting the most manic and psychotic symptoms yet.PART 3: Diagnosing MagnetoMagneto's diagnosis is, (without the codes):Axis IBipolar I Disorder, Most Recent Episode Manic, Severe With Psychotic Features, With Interepisode Recovery --- PROVISIONAL.It is clear from Magneto's history, that he displays all the symptoms of a Bipolar I disorder. The horrors of his childhood, and subsequent traumas, did not touch off a depressive or manic episode. This happened later in his life, after the onset of his powers. Although there was a stressor involved, at the onset of his first Manic Episode (possibly when he battled Baron Strucker and stole the gold, definitely when Isabelle was murdered), this was not linked more or less to his life history, or the use of his powers, than earlier stressors were.Magneto seems to cycle from depression to mania over long periods of time, perhaps months in the depressive stage, and weeks in the manic stage. He demonstrates symptoms of grandiosity, inflated self-esteem, theatrical and dramatic speech that is also hostile and delivered in angry tirades. He demonstrates flight of ideas, and distractability. Due to his high intelligence, the increase in his goal-directed activities takes the form of brilliant scientific and biological research, but otherwise, his behavior involves excessive planning, taking on multiple unfinished tasks, unusual restlessness and inability to stay with one task or goal for long, or carry through any project to its conclusion.The times Magneto was interrupted from carrying his plans to fruition, by the X-Men, or by the Avengers, or the Inhumans and Fantastic Four, were in fact times when the threat posed by Magneto's mania made such interference necessary, and in no way mitigate his symptoms. There is ample evidence that, when left unhindered, during the course of a manic episode, Magneto has been just as apt to abandon plans, promises, and goals, undertake new business before finishing old, and to become excessively involved with the planning of and participation in, a number of contradictory and unconnected activities.Magneto has demonstrated psychotic features, such as delusions of grandeur, delusions of persecution, and delusions of reference.Magneto has demonstrated the symptoms of depression when he's not manic. He has retreated to isolated bases, especially his asteroid base in orbit, isolated himself, and failed to take care of himself, and in fact has been shown to present an unkempt appearance during these episodes. He remembers and broods about the things he's done while in his manic phase, and this contributes to his depression.But, there have been times when he seems to have been neither manic nor depressive, when there was interepisode recovery, as when he had the emotional support from a lover (Lee Forrester), or a friend (Charles Xavier).Magneto's mental illness does have two possible etiologies due to a general medical condition. One etiology could be his powers, and their effect on his central nervous system and brain. And the other, is an extra bundle of nerve fibers between his pons and medulla oblongata. I've given his Bipolar I diagnosis the PROVISIONAL note, because Magneto needs to be thoroughly examined by a team of doctors, including specialists in neurology. He needs to be observed over a period of time, months perhaps, and the use of his powers monitored carefully, so that any affects on his brain and body can be measured.Magneto's twin children, now grown, Wanda and Pietro Maximoff, have each demonstrated episodes of manic and depressive behavior, and this could possibly support a diagnosis of Bipolar I Disorder, since research shows this disorder tends to run in families. On the other hand, they could have inherited something of their father's mutant physiology, and although their powers are different from his, there may be an underlying biogenetic cause of the Bipolar I symptoms in Magneto's children.Also on Axis I --Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Chronic, in partial remission.Magneto's Holocaust experiences, and the murder of his daughter Anya, have caused the symptoms of PTSD to appear. But in more recent years, not all the symptoms have appeared at the same time -- for example, Magneto has had intrusive and disturbing dreams, but he has been able to talk about the Holocaust, and about his daughter, and visit Magda's memorial marker, indicating Magneto has not consistently avoided these places or thoughts that cause him pain.Also on Axis I --Other Substance Dependence -- PROVISIONALAgain, Magneto's powers may be causing his brain to produce elevated levels of the neurotransmitter Endorphin, which is a pain suppressor. Between the time that Magneto left Israel, and Isabelle's murder, Magneto was subject to excruciating headaches every time he overused his magnetic powers. It is theorized that Magneto's brain began to compensate for this pain, by producing endogenous Endorphins, or some unknown, similar neurotransmitter, in ever increasing amounts. This served to cause his nerve cells to create new receptor sites for the Endorphin, which meant he needed to use his powers more and more, to stimulate the production of more and more Endorphin, to give him relief from his body's physiological reaction to the overuse of his powers, which is pain. Magneto also might experience increased self-confidence, and a feeling of well-being, with a lessening of his PTSD symptoms when this occurs, due to the increase in Endorphin levels.Axis III --Possible damage done to his body by his powers -- medical examination needed. Possible effects of extra nerve fibers in his brain, and increased metabolism due to his magnetic powers, must be determined with a thorough medical examination, and observation. Medical evidence suggests, that, since the pons is a part of the metencephalon (afterbrain) and is composed of bundles of fibers and nuclei, the extra fibers in Magneto's brain are an extension of the pons. The medulla oblongata, or narrow brain, contains the vital centers regulating heart action, vasomotor activity, respiration, deglutition, and vomiting. This might suggest that, if the extra bundles of neurons in Magneto's brain are connected to his mutant powers, his mutant powers of magnetism are part of his autonomic nervous system. Or, some portion of his mutant abilities are a part of his autonomic nervous system.The pons contains the points of origin for nerves controlling chewing, facial expressions, salivating, equilibrium, and hearing. The medulla also contains nerve centers for hearing and equilibrium, as well as neck muscle control and tongue muscle control. Some of these bodily activities are voluntary, most are involuntary. The fact that Magneto's extra nerve fibers appear in this area of the brain is significant, and the relationship between these neuro-fibers and his Bipolar I disorder, and these neuro-fibers and his powers of magnetic and electromagnetic manipulation, needs to be determined.If his powers or ability to manipulate electromagnetic energy proves to be a part of his autonomic nervous system, or more than 50% controlled by his autonomic nervous system, then the prognosis for Magnus is poor. If Magnus' powers to channel electromagnetic energy and generate his own energy fields are largely involuntary, like the beating of his heart, then Magneto can never completely turn-off or control the use of his powers. Any negative effects these powers are having on his body tissues, or his central nervous system, will over time become worse. The only solution may be, the complete artificial supression of Magneto's powers, but this solution also might cause damage to Magnus' metabolism, due to the unknown relationship between his powers and his autonomic nervous system.

β€” The Blackest Night

06/04/2021 05:36 PM 


Summary:Cheers to Erik's life and faith as a Jew.To the strength he finds in the figures he identifies with, the belief and disbelief down the road, and to the peace he finally finds in Charles.----"It’s a bit lofty and self centered to picture himself as a sort of Moses for mutant kind, but Erik’s always been cocky as can be. Wanting to compare himself to the grandest figure of his faith? That’s right up Erik’s alley."cw: mentions/descriptions of the Shoah, the setting of the first two sections is Nazi Germany and its ghettos and concentration camps, death, use of 'queer' (as both a slur and as a personal identifier), imprisonment, alcohol/drinkinglet me know if anyone needs anything else added!there's a spattering of Jewish vocab throughout this, so it might be handy to have a google tab open :)A Chosen PeopleAs a young boy, Erik certainly takes being Jewish for granted. He's four or five and he only has a vague understanding of the notion that there are other things people can be. That not everyone makes challah with their mothers every Friday. Not everyone counts down the days until the High Holidays in anticipation of the many sweet foods the children gorge on. Not everyone grows up speaking German in school, but Yiddish at home. Not everyone grows up doing the slew of other things that define Erik’s childhood, but Erik can only just barely grasp the notions. All his friends are Jewish just like him and Erik has never had to think twice about it. Of course, even that young he knows that the ones who grew up different are not good. They’re the ones who the adults mumble about nervously in the corner of rooms, when they think the kids aren’t paying attention. Erik doesn’t really understand most of it, but he figures it can’t be very good if it’s what’s always making his parents look so worried. But he’s little, so for the most part, he just ignores it. When he’s only a bit older and his family is forced to move into a cramped, dirty ghetto in Warsaw, Erik still doesn’t understand most of it. When he tries to ask his parents, they just tell him not to worry about it because he’s too young. That is if they even answer him at all. These days, most everyone goes around stressed, hungry, or tired; or most often, all three at once. As such, there’s many times Erik’s just waved away without an answer. Erik only grows more frustrated the longer it goes by that he doesn’t really understand what’s going on. He winds up going to his older sister, because Ruth is old enough to know the world a bit better, but surely she’s still young enough to understand the frustration of being left in the dark. Erik corners her one day while their parents are out getting their rations. “Ruth,” he starts, “I’m tired of not knowing what’s going to happen. Won’t you tell me?” “Erik…” Ruth sighs and pulls her brother towards her to hug him. “You’re too little to worry about those things. Leave it to the grown ups.” “No! That’s what they always say. I’m almost ten, Ruthie! I’m old enough,” he complains. Ruth looks tired as she slides down to wall to sit on the floor. She pulls Erik onto her lap and strokes his hair, like she were his mother and not his just fourteen year old sister. “You know what they say when we go to shul, Erik? About us being God’s chosen people?” Erik nods. “Uh huh. And that we have a promised land, but we don’t live there right now.” “Exactly. But that all means that we’re going to be okay. Nazis or no Nazis, our people are survivors. You’re a survivor, Erik,” Ruth says firmly. She pats his chest, just above his heart. “So we’re going to be okay.” “You promise?” Erik looks up to her, trying to look braver than he feels. “Swear it on my life, little brother,” Ruth says. “In fact, yesterday I was talking to someone who’d gotten a postcard from his cousin who went away on one of those trains. He says the work is hard, but there’s food and water and the families stay together. So maybe things will get better sooner rather than later.” “All right. I believe you, Ruthie.” Erik hugs her gratefully. Ruth is older and smarter. Surely, if she says things are going to be fine, then they will be. He has no reason not to trust her. She’s never lied to him or let him down. Besides, just like she said, they’re chosen people and he’s never had a reason to doubt that. A few months later, when she dies of hunger and illness, he stops believing her.Isaac He and his parents get rounded up onto one of those trains some time after Ruth dies. Erik’s not entirely sure how long after. Time seems to bleed together these days. Logically, he knows it’s not too long after. He’d been just past ten when she dies and now he’s just turned eleven, but it feels like a lifetime. He’s pretty sure they’ve been in this ghetto forever. Just like he’s pretty sure that there isn’t an ounce of truth in what his sister had told him about being okay because they were God’s chosen people. If they really were the chosen people, his sister wouldn’t be dead and they wouldn’t be hungry prisoners in fenced up blocks of Warsaw. Certainly, right now, the train Erik and his parents have been squeezed into feels more like it’s taking them back to Egypt than any promised land. Erik’s never had reason to question what he’s been taught, but now, he really can’t see how anyone could believe it. He doesn’t say it out loud, though. His mother doesn’t need that extra bit of hurt in life. None of them need any e xtra bit of hurt. Things can’t get any worse than they are now.  ------ Things do get worse. Of courses they get worse. Erik thinks he was foolish for ever thinking they couldn’t be worse. Of all the outcomes he considered, his mother dead on the floor a few steps from him was never one of them. In a way, he doesn’t even hurt. He just feels too numb to hurt. There’s a gaping hole in his heart, but there’s too much going on too fast to even know how to feel it. When Herr Doktor Schmidt leaves the room, he squeezes Erik’s shoulder and Erik wants to crawl out of his skin. It’s the first time he understands why he’d so often been told that he’s too young to get told about what’s going on around him. Because it’s easier to be afraid of monsters under the bed than the real life ones. Maybe he should be screaming. Or fighting. Or feeling anything at all. But right now, he’s just standing, numb and hardly aware of the tears down his face. The coin feels like it’s burning a hole into the palm of his hand, but Erik can’t let go of it. He thinks he should never let go of it. When he gets out of this place…. If he gets out of this place, he’ll carry it with him to remind himself that there is no such thing as a chosen people. That’s what his mother taught him and his mother is… Erik forces himself to turn around. The office is empty, save for himself and the corpses on the ground. There’s a pair of Nazi soldiers whose helmets are misshapen, caved in around their skulls. Erik is distantly aware that he must have done that. He feels nothing. Between them… Between them is his mother’s body. Erik’s knees buckle under him and he lets himself fall to his knees by her. His left hand is still clenched in a fist around Schmidt’s coin, but his right reaches out to touch her hand. He immediately regrets it. She feels stiff and… dead. He knows she’s gone, of course, but he didn’t expect her hand to feel so wrong. When Ruth died, it had looked like she was sleeping. His mother does not look like she’s sleeping. Somehow, Erik still feels nothing. There’s pain and anger and grief, but it’s muted. Like he’s observing in someone else and not truly feeling it himself. Truly, all of this feels like he’s observing someone else. It doesn’t feel real. He doesn’t feel real. He’s still alone in the room with his mother’s corpse, but he knows that won’t last long. Sooner or later, someone’s going to come take him away to God know’s where and his mother’s corpse will be disposed of and he’ll never see her again. Erik has trouble understanding the magnitude of it. ( Not to mention thinking… knowing that he’s never going to see his father again.) He should do something. Say something. Or… He doesn’t know. There’s no one here to witness these last moments, or to hear his words in his mother’s memory. If he says something, he’ll be shouting it out to the void, or to the God that Erik refuses to believe in. Because if He exists, he’s just as bad as these Nazis. But speaking to a cruel, probably nonexistent God feels better than just shouting to the void. He starts mumbling the Kaddish under his breath without thinking twice. It just comes naturally. Like there’s nothing else in the world he could say at this moment. Erik’s voice breaks as he recites it, but again, he’s hardly aware of the tears. Just as he finishes his prayer, a pair of soldiers comes in and drags him away. They don’t seem fazed by the bodies. Erik wonders how much death they’ve seen. Will he see that much death? Will he be added onto that toll that they’ve seen? Erik remembers hearing Isaac’s story every year at Rosh Hashanah. They’re supposed to think of Abraham in that story, to consider what a loyal servant of God he was willing to be, but at this moment, Erik can only think of Isaac and how he must have felt while bound upon that altar and waiting for the knife to drop. Erik reckons that right now, he feels a bit like Isaac did. Only, he doubts there’ll be any angels calling out for the Nazis to stop. The answer to whether he’ll die winds up being yes. Not physically. He’s not killed, he’s too valuable to Schmidt to be killed it seems. But as his clothes are stripped from him and his hair is sheared off, the pain hits him all at once, like slamming into a brick wall. The needle stings and burns as it tattoos numbers onto his forearm, but the pain of knowing that Erik Lehnsherr has died is greater. He’s not Erik Lehnsherr anymore. He’s just a set of numbers. While he’s led to his dormitory, he keeps reciting the Kaddish in his head, though he can no longer believe in a God. For who, he doesn’t know. For his parents? For Ruth? For himself? In truth, he’s probably doing it for this whole damn camp.David The next time Erik consults the Bible, he’s 17. He’s just kissed a boy for the first time. His name is Ezra and they go to school in Tel Aviv together. Ezra’s parents have been living in Israel since before the Shoah. There are no numbers tattooed onto his arm, his skin hasn’t been scarred by doctors poking and prodding at his skin in the name of science. Erik thinks he’s the most beautiful boy he’s ever seen, and they kiss one night, on a beach a short walk from Ezra’s home. It’s the middle of the night when they’re there, the whole beach dark and empty save for the two of them. He wants to say he hadn’t wanted it. Or that he’d hated it. Or that he’d shoved Ezra away, called him a queer, and socked him in the face for touching him. But Erik had done none of those things. He’d just kissed him and kissed him and kissed him and thought about all the girls he’d never been able to kiss because he couldn’t bring himself to do it. And then he stops thinking about that because all he’s thinking of is Ezra. They finally part when they run out of the cheap beer they’d made Ezra’s older brother buy them. Erik stumbles back to his foster home, with swollen lips and flushed for more reason than just the alcohol. He manages to get upstairs without waking his foster parents and he makes his way to the bathroom. Erik swallows. He grips the bathroom sink tight enough that his knuckles are white and though he tries to control it, he can feel the plumbing throughout the house threatening to warp under his stress. There’s a hickey peeking out just over the edge of his shirt’s collar, but Erik pointedly ignores it. In his reflection, he stares straight ahead, as if staring himself down will help him make sense of this whole situation. “F***,” he mumbles to himself, “I’m a goddamn f***ing queer.” In truth, it’s a thought that’s skirted around his head for years, probably since the first time he found out what those pink triangles on the camp uniforms meant. But it’s an easier thought to ignore when he’s not currently sporting a hickey left on him by another man. Erik doesn’t sleep well that night. In the morning, the first thing he does is grab his foster parent’s volumes of the Talmud and start scouring through anything that might be relevant. To his current situation. Whether he’s searching for something to justify his feelings or to scare him away from repeating his night with Ezra, he’s not sure. One way or another, he’s halfway through analyzing some rabbinic commentary on Leviticus when he hears the backdoor open. Ezra always wears a Magen David pendant around his wrist and Erik’s powers can feel it. It’s the only reason he doesn’t flinch when the other boy lets himself into the living room, brandishing a bottle of wine. “Erik.” Ezra grins, somehow every bit as bad boy as he is boy next door and Erik’s as charmed today as he was last night at the beach. “Are your parents home?” “My foster parents,” Erik amends, as he always does. Then he shakes his head. “Nah, they’re both at work.” “Perfect. I brought you some wine. Figured we’d crack it open?” He places it down on the table next to the volume of the Talmud. No doubt he sees what verses Erik’s searching through right now. “Hmm. Do you bring wine to all the boys you defile?” Erik asks, tugging him down so he’s sitting next to him on the couch. Ezra snorts. “Darling, I hardly call what we did last night defiling. What’s this, then?” He gestures towards the open pages. “Will Israel be soon blessed by the presence of the great Rabbi Erik Lehnsherr?” “Shove off. I’m looking stuff up.” Erik’s tempted to just close the volume, shove it away back onto the shelf, and pretend he’d never be bothered with it. But he’s always been stubborn. “Hmm.” He reaches for the bottle and pries it open. They’re a pair of seventeen year old boys, so of course, neither of them bothers with glasses. Ezra just grabs a swig straight from the bottle and passes it over to Erik. “Is ‘stuff’ code for what happened last night?” Erik looks down to where their knees are touching, hesitating for a moment. “Ezra, this is illegal in more way than one.” “I thought you didn’t believe in God, Erik.” “I don’t.” It’s an automatic response, from the many times he’s said as much before. As a boy, Erik had decided he could no longer believe in God and he’s been stubborn enough to hold to that as he gets older. But there’s a big difference between saying and doing. He can say all he wants how he doesn’t believe in God, but it doesn’t stop him from never failing to recite the Kaddish on the anniversary of his parents’ death, it doesn’t stop him from observing all the holidays, it doesn’t stop him from attending Shabbat services every week. And clearly, it’s not stopping him from worrying that what he and Ezra are doing is too big a sin to overlook. Whatever Erik says about believing or not in God, the answer is quite clear. “Sure.” Ezra stands and retrieves a copy of the Tanakh from the same shelf as the Talmud volumes. He finds the passage he’s looking for with practiced ease and places it on the table for Erik to read. “David and Jonathan were awfully close, don’t you think?” Ezra had probably come over in hopes of getting a bit tipsy and hooking up, but that plan goes down the drain. Erik’s too busy reading and rereading the passages and interpretations. He winds up spending all day on it. People see what they want to see while interpreting passages, but it’s easy for Erik to see how one might label David and Jonathan’s relationship as being a bit more than friends. And if David was a queer, then Erik supposes it’s probably okay if he is as well. Between the wine and the kissing Ezra keeps sneaking in while Erik tries to read, he starts to think that maybe Ezra could be like his Jonathan. Take away the whole dying part and he’d be quite happy with that. A year later, they graduate from secondary school. Ezra joins the IDF and Erik disappears to hunt down Nazis. So no, Ezra doesn’t end up being Erik’s Jonathan, but Erik still feels very much like the David in his life.------In 1962, Erik holds no qualms over being queer. He doesn’t spit the word out anymore, like he did the first night he used it for himself. He’s quite happy for it now, unfazed by how the rest of the world thinks of him. Good timing, too, because 1962 is the year Erik meets Charles Xavier. From the first moment in the sea, Erik is absolutely taken with him. Suspicious and frustrated with as well, of course, but undeniably falling for him. Lucky for Erik, Charles is as unapologetically queer as him. Erik beds him by the second stop of their road trip. Afterwards, Erik is enjoying the lazy cuddles with Charles resting his head on Erik’s chest. He’s not usually one for ‘snuggling’, but even he’s weak for bright eyed, floppy haired boys. Even ones who seem to never stop talking on and on. Erik had thought a good shag would quiet him some, but no, Charles just seems to never run out of things to say. Charles fingers toy at a Magen David charm that Erik wears around his neck. “It’s nice that you wear this. You’re very proud of all you are, Erik. If only everyone could be so lucky.” “I suppose there’s just something about being constantly kicked down that makes one want to stand up tall,” Erik says, with a tinge of bitterness to his voice. “I’m glad you learned to stand proud. Don’t ever let anyone try to bring you down.” Charles pats his chest as he leans up to give him a kiss. Erik is incredibly amused, but he kisses him back anyways. “Testing out a career as a motivational speaker, are you?” “Depends.” He grins at him. “Was I good at it?” “Not in the slightest, love,” Erik says apologetically, petting Charles’ hair down. Charles sighs. “What a shame. Here I was hoping to tour the country to give inspiring speeches to young Jewish homosexuals.” “That’s ridiculously specific, Charles. You’re not going to find any customers that way. Even I think so, and I’m one of the nice Jewish boys you’re trying to appeal to.” It’s a supremely silly thing to be arguing about, but Erik can’t remember the last time he just let himself be foolish, and he finds himself enjoying it more than he should. “”Damn. Seems I can’t get any of this right.” Charles chuckles. He stops fiddling with the charm so he can reach down and hold Erik’s hand. “Are you religious or is that merely a way to display your heritage?” “I’m… observant,” Erik answers. It’s been clear for a long time that saying he doesn’t believe in God is not entirely true, but that doesn’t mean he’s any more comfortable with the words. “Well, you’ll have to teach me some more about it all,” Charles decides. He finally quiets down and stops talking, but only because he distracts himself with kissing Erik. Rosh Hashanah will be coming up soon, and Erik can just imagine taking Charles along to it and celebrating with him. He thinks that Charles would be all for it, and would more than likely love all the singing and dancing. They can’t dance together or hold hands out in public, but Erik loves the thought of Charles tagging along anyway. He shouldn’t be so invested in Charles when they’ve only known each other for a week at most, but there’s something about Charles that makes him just not care about logic. Once again, his head is filled with the childish thoughts that maybe Charles will be his Jonathan. Cain In Cuba, Erik realizes that he and Charles aren’t David and Jonathan. They’re Cain and Abel, and deep inside, Erik is horrified to see that he’s become Cain. The bullet doesn’t kill Charles, but when Erik leaves with his new ragtag group of mutants, he has a feeling he and Charles will be as good as dead to each other from here on out. It’s his fault, he supposes, for having ever wanted so badly to be a king when he’s always been little more than a murderer.Jonah Erik’s been in many less than ideal situations in his life and each time, thought to himself that if he can get through it, anything else in the world would seem like a breeze. Of course, none of those situations had been being locked deep underground with zero human companionship or interaction to pass his days. Erik doesn’t want to say it’s worse than his childhood in the ghetto and camps, but it’s a whole different type of torture. The Nazis tried to break him first through his body, now the US government aims to break his mind and spirit and watch the rest crumbling down. The first few days, Erik reassures himself with the knowledge (hope, more accurately) that he’ll get busted out in no time and this will end up just being a few days of inconvenience and nothing more. But as days stretch into weeks and weeks stretch into months, Erik realizes that maybe there is no end to this. He assumes that allegedly assassinating a president would result in execution, and in a morbid way, he finds himself craving the day that will come. At least it will put an end to this endless nothing. But then months stretch into years and it becomes perfectly clear to Erik that death will not be coming any time soon. Ironically, or perhaps entirely too expected, it’s the first time in a long, long time that Erik has no problems professing his faith. He has no Torah with him - and when he requests one be brought to him, he gets laughed at more than when he asked that meals brought to him be at least kosher style - but he persists nonetheless. It’s what in his heart that matters more. Erik takes to counting whenever he goes to sleep, so he can observe the Shabbats. Truthfully, observing Shabbats is probably a bit of an understatement. The chances are slim that his counting actually aligns with the outside world. Not to mention that he has so little to do in this cell, that there’s not much of a difference between ‘observing’ and a normal day. But it’s nice to recognize it, and on those days, think a little more about the sermons he’d heard as a boy and the stories he remembers, even if memory may have warped them a bit. He thinks of Jonah often. No wonder he’d been so ready to do anything God asked, if being in that whale was anything like being held prisoner in the Pentagon. Erik would certainly go around making any promises it takes if it means getting out of here. Certainly, he does. Many nights he can’t sleep are filled with begging, promises that if he could just leave this place, he would be better. A better person, a better mutant, a better leader, a better Jew. Anything, if it means escaping this. And with the decade Erik spends in that hell, he has more than enough time to think up all sorts of promises. He doesn’t know if being broken out and promptly socked in the face by Charles is what he had in mind when he begged God to free him, but he’s certainly not going to complain.Moses There’s a time in Erik’s life when all he dreams off is a mutant state. Somewhere for only their kind, where they can feel truly free to be who they are without fear of human intervention. Erik is, of course, heavily influenced by his adolescence in Israel when he pictures this, remembering fondly how it felt safe when nowhere else did. He just want the same for mutants everywhere. When he imagines it, he pictures someplace far away from humans, isolated or with the appropriate geographies to defend themselves adequately. Someplace exotic and beautiful and amenable to new life. He imagines it as their Promised Land that he can lead his people to so they can be safe and flourish without human oppression. It’s a bit lofty and self centered to picture himself as a sort of Moses for mutant kind, but Erik’s always been cocky as can be. Wanting to compare himself to the grandest figure of his faith? That’s right up Erik’s alley. However, every way Erik imagines it, there’s one possibility he never considers for this promised land: Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters in upstate New York of all places. It’s far from the exotic paradises Erik had imagined, but Erik’s lost too much to keep soldiering forward alone. Losing Magda and Nina should fill him with more of the rage that had fueled his previous outbursts, but he’s just tired. He’s tired of being alone or having everyone he loves and cares for ripped away from him. Charles is one of those he loves and cares for and it occurs to him in Egypt, perhaps a few decades too late, that the only person ripping him away from Charles is himself. He has a choice now, Erik knows. To go away again, back to his loneliness and anger, or to stay. Maybe staying means giving up his dreams of a far off mutant nation to call his own creation, but it also means keeping Charles and that’s enough of a reason for Erik. He doesn’t even know if Charles would still want him around after everything, but Erik will be damned if he doesn’t try. Rebuilding the school is almost finished, and it’s far along enough that everyone is living inside the mansion again, so going to Charles is as easy as going a bit further down the hallway and knocking on Charles’ door. Erik lets himself in once Charles has granted him permission, and spots him reading some papers he’s grading. But Charles puts them down as soon as he sees Erik at the doorway. “Erik! Come in, pull up a chair!” he encourages, already putting the student assignments down. Erik closes the door behind him and goes to sit across from Charles. He’s reminded of the many chess games they’d played back in ‘62. “I was hoping I could tear you away from your work for a while. Have a drink? Play a game? Like old days.” “Like old days,” Charles repeats, grinning as he wheels himself to his liquor cabinet and pulls out some brandy. While Erik sets up a board, Charles pours out two glasses for them. Erik graciously takes his glass and settles in his chair to begin their game. He’s never been very good at speaking when it comes to anything even remotely sentimental. So instead of being upfront about telling Charles that he wants to stay, he just remarks, “There’s a reconstructionist congregation not too far a drive from here. I might go check them out on Friday evening. Perhaps it’ll be a nice place to attend regularly.” “Will you? I hope you like it well enough to want to stay forever, Erik,” he says. “Forever?” Erik laughs. “That’s a rather long time.” Charles nods. “I’d have you around forever and even longer if I could. You know, the children are in need of a foreign language instructor. Perhaps I can convince you to undertake that endeavor as well?” “Spending my days trapped in a classroom with moody teenagers? Perhaps, but it’ll cost you a favor,” he warns. “Oh?” Charles asks. “And what sort of favor would that be?” “All the way back in 1962, I wanted to take you to a Rosh Hashanah service one day. Clearly, I didn’t. But I’d be very happy if you let me do so when the time comes this year.” Erik sips at his brandy after getting the words out, mostly to hide how nervous making the request makes him. There’s something about Charles that never fails to bring the foolish nerves out in him. Charles grins and nods enthusiastically. “I’d be honored if you brought me along, Erik. Thank you very much, old friend. I look forward to it. I’m very glad to have you stay. I only wish it could have happened a long time ago.” “Well… Things change, I suppose. And people do as well,” he admits. “And you did?” Charles asks. Erik just shrugs. “Or at least my outlook did. I still hold my opinions and that won’t ever change. But I spent my time before fighting battles while trying to find a space for our people, when you’d carved one out here all on your own. It’s not everything I ever dreamed off, but it’s as close to a promised land as our people have so far and I figure I’m better off helping it than working against it.” “Well, I’m glad that even if we’re not everything you dreamed of, we still manage to be good enough,” Charles says. It could sound bitter, and coming from Erik it probably would have. But it’s Charles, and instead, it’s just the nonchalant humor the man always seems to carry with him. “Of course. And good enough will have to do. It doesn’t hurt that you’re here as well.” Their game becomes mostly a distraction for their hands as they sip brandy and talk on and on. There’s plenty of time to catch up on between them two. Not just serious, heavy topics, but also just time to spend doing little else than enjoy each other’s company with some lighthearted chatter. When they’ve finished a second glass of brandy, Erik puts away the chessboard once more and stands up to leave. “I suppose I’ll head to bed now. See you in the morning, Charles?” he suggests. Charles hesitates for a moment, a rare thing with him, before gesturing to his bed. “Why don’t you stay the night? Really make it like the old days?” Life in the X-Mansion isn’t everything Erik ever wanted, nor is it where he expected to be in life, but he’s sure it’s right where God intended him to be because it has Charles. And in many ways, Charles is much better than anything Erik could have envisioned.

β€” The Blackest Night

06/04/2021 05:07 PM 

For When the Fire Burns Bright

"Words are only painted fire; a look is the fire itself."- Mark TwainWhen Sasuke asks Sakura to marry him, he half expects her to say yes and half expects her to say no. A small part of him thinks that if she says no, his respect for her might double. It would show she did change over the six years he was gone. He's aware she isn't the same person anymore, but to what extent he couldn't be sure of until now.She pauses in the action of discarding her latex gloves, the soft question he spoke hovering in the air between them. He just came in for a monthly checkup, and although he's been fancying the idea in his mind for the last couple of weeks - after all, any thought of marriage or restoring the clan his brain instantly relates to Sakura - he surprises even himself for speaking so abruptly.The medic twists her head around to look at him, but to his confusion she wears only an expression of curiosity. Her voice, when she speaks, doesn't shake or waver. It's smooth, controlled. Nothing like what she used to be, and he wonders why he's only taking notice of such a change now."What brings this about?" she asks.He answers, "The Uchiha clan will not die with me."It's all he offers. This simple, unreserved explanation, and a proposal.Sakura tilts her head to the side, and smiles a small smile. "Sure, Sasuke-kun," she says, turning back to her work. "I'll marry you."He expected to be disappointed in her if she said yes. Because that would mean she's still the same, right? Her saying yes would mean she hasn't changed at all, right?Sasuke watches her read off his medical statistics without saying a word. She stands there in front of him with a calm, unaffected aura, meeting his eyes every once in a while to make sure he's paying attention.He finds that he isn't disappointed in the least.Uchiha Sakura, he thinks to himself the day before their wedding. The thought of his name with hers never even occurred to him. Not until now.Uchiha Sakura.The name forms silently on his lips as he lays motionless in his bed, staring up at the ceiling.When he falls asleep, he dreams of a little pink-haired girl with bright green eyes who tells him she loves him with all of her heart, and of a nineteen-year-old kunoichi whom he almost never sees anymore, because that little girl has long since been replaced by a woman whose priorities expand far beyond him."You know, the groom isn't supposed to see the bride beforehand on the wedding day," Sakura comments, standing in front of a mirror as she smoothes down the sides of her kimono with her palms.Sasuke blinks, realizing he has just been discovered. He clears his throat and steps out from behind the door, bowing slightly in apology.She turns to face him, smiling softly. "It's okay. I don't really mind. Only a half hour left anyhow, right?"He fixes his gaze upon her, on her pink hair braided into an elegant up-do, on her composed pale jade eyes and the simple white kimono fitted perfectly to her small form.She's looking at him expectantly now, waiting for a response, and he finally finds it in him to open his mouth."You don't have to do this, Sakura," he says, voice low. "I won't force you.""I know you won't," she replies immediately, confident, and takes a few steps closer until she is standing before him. "You're not a bad person, Sasuke-kun. Don't worry about me. I'm doing this out of my own free will." She offers him a smile, then reaches down and takes his hands in hers. "I promise," she continues steadily, her gaze never leaving his, "that as your wife, I will do my best to please you. So don't worry." Squeezing his hands lightly, she releases him, and backs away. "I won't bother you like I did when we were twelve," she jokes. "Unless you wish otherwise, it'll be like I'm not even there."He stands there in silence, eyes cast upon a random spot on the opposite wall. He wants to say something to her, tell her that he doesn't mind having her around and that he will try his best as her husband as well, but the words refuse to find purchase upon his lips."For your own safety," Sakura's voice brings him back to reality, "I would suggest you leave before Ino comes back. I might not be one to fuss, but if she knew you were here with me all hell would break loose. Trust me."Her smile enters his gaze once more, and he nods at her before doing as she says and exiting the room, unspoken words dying away with each step he takes.It's their first kiss, he realizes, as her lips touch his ever so lightly. The crowd cheers, someone catcalls - probably Naruto - and when Sakura pulls away - he was motionless, caught in his own revelation the whole time - her lips curve up, but her eyes are searching his, flickering back and forth with the most minute of movements.Her smile dims a little, her eyes finished with their search - what was she looking for? he wonders; what did she find? - and she turns to face the crowd.Sasuke is left unmoving beside her with nothing but a small frown gracing his features.He told her once as they entered his room that she didn't have to do this, either, but she reminded him that this was all her own decision, and that he shouldn't worry.Because it doesn't look like he's going to move, she undresses herself first and waits a few moments as he follows suit, and then she walks to him and grasps his hand, pulling him to the bed. She notices that he doesn't look at her, like he's embarrassed or trying to spare her dignity.Sakura resists the urge to laugh as they fall onto the bed. Again, his gaze remains focused on anything that isn't her, and with a soft sigh she takes his face in her palms and forces him to look at her.His obsidian eyes fix upon her green gaze, slightly startled.Because she knows that he is Uchiha Sasuke, and she knows that even this amount of contact must be uncomfortable for him, she doesn't kiss him, as she would like to. Instead she smiles, and tells him quietly, "It's okay to look, Sasuke-kun. I'm your wife."He leans down to her instead, and, taking the initiative, hesitantly presses their lips together.Sasuke doesn't know how else to begin, but everything seems to flow from that point on, and it's only when she's flushed underneath him, green eyes sparking with heat, and he's propped upon his elbows above her, wanting so bad to just thrust into her again and again, that he reminds himself to be gentle.So he enters her slowly, cautiously, watching her face intently for any sign of pain or discomfort, ready to stop if she so wishes.But there aren't any, and he can't help but be puzzled."Are you all right?" he asks."I'm fine," she breathes, and his own breath falters when she bucks her hips into his, wanting more. "Keep going.""It doesn't hurt?" He has to stop himself from giving her what she wants. For some reason, there is something about this question that unsettles him.Sakura stills beneath him, huffing out an exhale. "This isn't my first time, Sasuke-kun," she replies in a quiet tone. "I'm all right, don't worry."Before he can respond, before his mind can take hold of this information and turn it into something explosive, she pulls him down for another kiss, and then he is moving inside her, and the pleasure nearly makes him forget.Nearly, but not quite.Later that night, long after they have finished and Sakura is sleeping on the opposite side of the bed, Sasuke remains awake, his gaze never moving from the form of his wife.Thousands of questions run through his mind without end, and he is powerless to stop them.He wonders who the man is, how she knows him, what he looks like. If they dated, or if she ever loved him.He knows it's none of his business - or maybe it is, because aren't they married now? - but he can't help but wonder.Sasuke falls asleep that night and dreams of a little pink-haired girl smiling at a boy that isn't him.A month passes just like that.She's gone before him every morning. Their first night together hasn't been repeated, and Sasuke knows that she only needs his saying so, but he only tells her goodnight when he climbs into bed and that is it. And she sleeps on the opposite side of the bed and repeats the words to him, and then he wakes up each morning and she isn't there, off to the hospital where she works everyday.He trains and goes on missions and he barely sees her. It's like nothing has changed at all.It's like their marriage is merely a title, and they simply live under it.She works the night shift when needed. It's becoming more of a frequent thing nowadays.Sasuke remembers the first time being seven weeks after they were married. She came home on her break while he was out training and left him a note saying she'd be back later than usual, telling him not to worry, as always.Like any other day, he took a shower, brushed his teeth, and went to bed, lying there with his eyes locked on her side of the mattress. It was ten o'clock then.An hour passed. He couldn't sleep.When it came to be three o'clock and she still wasn't back, and he still couldn't sleep, he decided something must've happened to her, and his mind entertained several bloody, gruesome scenarios that had him off his feet in an instant.He collided with her halfway out the front door, knocking her off balance, but she regained her footing easily and stood back, eyeing him warily."Everything okay, Sasuke-kun?" she asked, frowning. "Where's the fire?""You're back," was all he was able to get out.She stared at him. "I'm back."He noticed the tired look in her eyes, the shadows that hovered under them, and he stepped back silently to let her through.Sakura gave him one last questioning look before she passed by him and entered the house.He comes home from a two-day long mission to find her in the kitchen, scrubbing at the surface of the table with her hair pulled into a messy bun, wearing one of his old shirts and a pair of cotton shorts. She has earbuds in her ears, humming along to whatever music is playing as she cleans. Her hips sway a little, moving with the music.Sasuke is reminded that it's her day off today. The first she's had in a long time, she told him.He opens his mouth, about to tell her that she should relax while she has the chance, that he can finish the cleaning, but then he sees that she's smiling as she works, and he doesn't see her smile much anymore, so he leaves her be.Looking at her sleeping one night, three months since they married, Sasuke wonders if she still loves him, after all these years. She agreed to be bonded to him in such a way, knowing fully that he didn't have such feelings for her, so there must be something.Sasuke notices that her brows are drawn together in her sleep, as if she is unhappy, and he begins to doubt.But what does it matter to him, anyway? He is the one who doesn't care.He chants this to himself as he falls asleep, but dreams filled with pink and green betray him.Sasuke returns from a mission two weeks later at the same time she is returning from the hospital. He sees her step out of the doors, and is debating going to her - walking one's wife home from work should be normal, he thinks - when another medic steps out to walk beside her.It's a male, and Sasuke freezes in his spot.The man is plain-looking, with brown hair and brown eyes, but Sakura is laughing at something he has said, so apparently the man is not so bland.She doesn't laugh much around him anymore, and Sasuke stares hard, nearly creating holes through the man beside his wife, trying to decipher what it is exactly that enthuses her so.He overhears parts of their conversation, and only when the man pauses and says something about "Uchiha-san" does Sakura's smile falter.She lowers her voice, but Sasuke hears the words "distant" and "trying" leave her mouth.The man smiles gently and places a hand on her shoulder, consoling her, and Sasuke stares hard at this as well, surprised the man cannot feel such a heated gaze upon him.Sakura grins in reassurance and the man takes his hand away. Sasuke feels himself loosen slightly.The two bid each other goodnight, and Sakura begins to head off on her own, back to their shared house. Sasuke counts three minutes exactly before deciding to follow after her.That night, while in bed, Sasuke awake on his side and Sakura sleeping on hers, he leans over and touches her cheek with his fingertips just barely, a mere brush.He doesn't know in what context the words "distant" and "trying" were used, but that touch was not distant, and he most certainly will try to crack the wall that seems to separate them.The first time she went out grocery shopping for them was three days after their marriage ceremony. She grabbed her keys and her bag and visited Sasuke for a last check before leaving."Anything you want in particular?" she asked.He looked up at her from his place on the couch, sharpening his weapons. Looking thoughtful for a moment, he opened his mouth and began, "Toma -""Tomatoes," she provided, and waved the grocery list in her hand. "Got 'em already. How could I forget your favorite food?"Sasuke blinked. "That's all, then.""All right, I'll be back in a little while!" she called, and disappeared out the front door.She never asked what he needed again, and now he always comes home with a fridge full of ripe red tomatoes just for him.Sakura arrives home just a little past her usual time one night, some five months since they've been married. Sasuke's eye cracks open, watching as she enters their bedroom and settles herself down at the single desk, silently placing an arm's worth of paperwork on it. With a hefty sigh, she begins to shuffle through the papers, starting the night's work.The skin below her eyes is dark, as he can tell from the small lamp placed on the desk. He figures she gets around five hours of sleep each night if she's lucky, about three regularly. There's always work for her to do, always something keeping her going.For the next couple of hours, he watches her with hooded eyes, studying her as she works, and when she's finally done and makes her way over to the bed after showering, he snaps his eyes closed, pretending to sleep.Sasuke feels her presence stop before him. There's a soft rustle, and then his hair is pushed out of his eyes, and her lips press ever so gently against his forehead.She pulls away, walking around to her side of the bed, and he allows his eyes to flash open. They're wide, staring sightlessly at the wall. He is acutely aware of every movement she makes beside him, the light breaths that escape her increasingly apparent, filling his ears.He remains like that for longer than he can remember. It seems like her lips are still on his skin, and where she touched him nearly burns with intensity.That night, his dreams delve into the realm of temptations, of green eyes sparking with passion, of his fingers pushing into pink hair, of their bodies moving in sync and unfamiliar, overwhelming pleasure pulsing through his body.He wakes up with a gasp, bolting upward in the bed, his breaths slightly labored. Sweat beads on his brow, and his fingers grasp the unruly sheets tightly.Sakura's not there. She probably left for the hospital hours ago, and he takes advantage of her absence to calm himself.Sasuke takes a few deep breaths, slowly releasing his grip on the sheets. The air around him seems blistering hot, and he throws off the blankets and steps out of bed, pushing a shaky hand through his untidy hair.A shower, he thinks. He needs a shower. One with ice cold water to soothe his simmering skin and his whirling mind.She arrives home at a decent hour that night. It's around ten o'clock, and she yawns as she steps into the house, looking forward to a rare good night's rest.Sakura enters the kitchen and freezes in her step. Sasuke's sitting on the couch, leaning forward with his forehead resting against his clasped fingers. He glances upward as she enters the room, obsidian eyes alert and focused on her."What are you doing up?" she questions, tilting her head slightly, puzzled.He opens his mouth. "Waiting for you."She blinks, and stares. "Waiting...for me?"He nods.Her eyes widen, and instantly she is by his side, her hands running over his arms and down his sides, frantic. "Are you okay, Sasuke-kun?" she worries. "Are you hurt anywhere?"His gaze glints with the smallest hint of amusement. He gently takes her chakra-glowing hands away and holds them in his own, halting her movements. Her pale jade eyes flicker with surprise."I'm all right," he says quietly."But," she lets out, confused, "you never wait...are you sure you're fine? Because if there's something wrong I -""Sakura."She silences, her eyes still locked with his.Her husband merely leans down and presses their lips together, his hand moving to grip the back of her head, keeping her steady.She remains still for several moments, her wide gaze taking in his closed eyelids with apparent shock.Sasuke pulls away after a good ten seconds. His wordlessness questions her, his eyes seeking something from her as he stares at her quietly.Sakura swallows, and responds with another kiss, this time exercising her lips heatedly against his. Her hands find purchase upon his chest, and she settles herself in his lap, taking notice of and giving into his desires.And when they've made their way into their shared bedroom and their heavy breathing fills the room, Sasuke's name falling in short gasps from her mouth, he wraps his arms around her and can't help but think that she has given him more than what he ever dreamed of receiving.And her name is moaned out when he reaches his peak inside her.They're lying in bed almost an hour later. Sasuke's eyes are fixed on the ceiling, every ounce of his body acutely aware of his wife beside him. She's awake as well, a good foot away, in the same position.Sasuke is the first to break the silence, his voice, when he speaks, low and unwavering."Who is he?"She turns on her side to look at him, pulling the sheets up to cover her bare breasts. He doesn't meet her puzzled gaze, still focused on the ceiling, mouth a blank, unrevealing line."What do you mean?" she asks, green eyes studying the smooth planes of his face from what she can see in the darkness.Sasuke's lips curve into a frown, brows furrowing, as if he is frustrated but can't figure out exactly why. "The man you gave your virginity to."Sakura's mouth parts into an astounded "O." She resists the urge to pinch herself, knowing that no matter how shocking, this is not a dream, and Sasuke has really just asked her such a question. "I - I..." she stutters, grasping for coherency.Finally, Sasuke turns on his side to face her, fixing his hard, calculating gaze upon her.She gains her composure somewhat, blinking, and then takes a breath to steady herself, eyes shifting away from him. "He was my target for a seduction mission about two years ago. I killed him afterward."Sakura raises her gaze to meet a pair of obsidian eyes swirling with obvious repulsion and vehemence.Although, inwardly, he is pleased it was someone she didn't care for, someone who she would never even consider keeping close to her."Tsunade sent you on such a mission?" he responds flatly.Sakura merely nods. "What happened on the mission...was a last resort. I wasn't as experienced as I am now. At the time, it was the only way to complete the mission, so I went for it. I'm fine now, don't worry."Sasuke closes his eyes and inhales, exhaling slowly after. "You always say that.""Hm?"His eyes flash open, serious and focused solely on her. "Tell me not to worry."Her mouth opens, but nothing comes out, trying to find words to voice."Do you expect me not to?" he continues, and his voice is inexpressive, stoic."I guess not, Sasuke-kun," she finally says softly. "I guess not. I guess...I just say that so much to try to trick myself into believing you do."And she turns in the opposite direction until all he can see is her bare back, unrevealing and curved, as if to shield herself from whatever response he may give.The words "I'm sorry I have given you any reason to think otherwise" flash through his mind.But because he is Uchiha Sasuke, he simply twists around and remains unspeaking, his obsidian eyes staring blankly at the wall before him.When he dreams, it's of him running after a pink-haired woman who evades him no matter how hard he tries."Sasuke-kun."He squeezes his eyes shut tighter.Something pokes him in the side."Sasuke-kun."He groans quietly, his eyes finally blinking open to find that his vision is filled with pink.Sakura's standing above him, dressed in her white medical cloak, green eyes soft. "I made you breakfast," she says, gesturing to the platter in her hands. She sets it down beside him, then backs away. "I wanted to say I was sorry," she continues slowly, "for what I said yesterday. I know you do care for me in your own way, Sasuke-kun." She pauses, runs a shaky hand through her short pink hair, and sighs. "It was wrong of me to accuse you of something like that. I'm sorry, truly I am."Sasuke doesn't say anything. It's like he's gone numb. Never did he expect her to apologize for such a thing.Sakura smiles at him. "I'll be off to work, then. And," she adds suddenly, "before I forget, I have a mission tomorrow. I'm leaving right after work, so I won't see you until I return. I'll be back in a few days."She smiles once more, then steps out of the room, and disappears.Sasuke stares at where she left for the next couple of minutes. It's only when he remembers that she made him breakfast does he move and start to eat.Everything she made tastes just like how his mother used to cook.The next morning, he realizes that Sakura said she left on a mission. She hasn't had a mission the five months or so they've been married.He freezes in the action of brushing his teeth when this thought enters his mind. Something's off, he can instantly sense. Sakura isn't sent on missions - she's too valuable to the hospital - unless there's a specific one that only she can accomplish.And if it requires her skills specifically, it must be dangerous.The next thing he knows he is standing at the door to the Hokage office, knocking as he impatiently waits for Tsunade to answer.She appears a good three minutes later, a scowl set on her face when he enters her line of sight."What the hell do you want, Uchiha?" she snaps, but allows him into her office anyway.He stands before her with his back straightened, shoulders set, and eyes a cool onyx."What was Sakura's mission?" he begins, tone demanding, not allowing room for argument. "You never send her on any."Tsunade raises a brow, resting her chin upon her folded hands as she sits at her desk. "That information is classified, Uchiha. You should know that by now."His eyes narrow into an unwavering glare.Tsunade snorts. "That won't work on me, sorry to say. Now get your ass out of here before I gladly do it myself.""Hokage-sama."This captures her attention. The Uchiha never regards her with honor like that."What?""Please." There's no sign of pleading on his face, but she can sense the unsettled way he holds himself. "Sakura is my wife. If she were to be placed in danger, I would like to know."Tsunade rubs the palm of her hands against her eyes, then sighs and leans forward in her seat. "My apprentice will be fine, Uchiha. She's gone on solo S-ranked missions long before you came back and completed them without a hitch. This shouldn't be any different."His fists clench at the sound of "solo" and "S-ranked."But knowing Tsunade's quick temper and unrestrained strength, he keeps his mouth shut, bows, and backs out of the room.A week has passed. She still hasn't returned.He lies awake at two o'clock in the morning, the clutches of insomnia holding him as they have since she left. Black shadows color the skin under his eyes, and his nerves are strung taut with no hope for relief.He stares blankly at the vacant spot on her side of the bed. His mind is almost - almost - able to fill in the emptiness, almost able to make it seem like her sleeping face is right there, her short pink hair lying around her in a pastel halo, eyes closed in peaceful slumber.Then he blinks, and reality crashes into him with full force.Jaw clenched, he pushes himself roughly out of bed and leaves the room, needing to get out, keep himself occupied, try to dim down the horrid thoughts that taint his mind.She said she'd be back soon.Liar, he seethes. A goddamn lie.Even Tsunade, who he saw a few times in the short - it seemed like a lifetime - period Sakura's been gone, looked daunted. The Hokage said if the kunoichi didn't return in the next two days, she would send out a search team, to which he immediately volunteered - demanded - to be a part of, and to which she reluctantly agreed.Sasuke makes his way out of the house, finding that the confinement is suffocating him, and heads toward the village entrance. His gaze locks upon the form of a bench as he walks on, and he slows to a halt beside it.This is the same bench he left Sakura on when he defected seven years ago.Gradually, he settles himself upon it, the cold of the stone piercing him through to his core.Memories of that night take over his thoughts. Her green eyes glassy with tears, lips trembling as she told him she loved him, and then the sight of her pink hair fluttering in the wind as he stood behind her and rendered her unconscious."Thank you."It wasn't right. For her to be the one out there on her own, facing unknown things, leaving him to do nothing but sit and wait and steadily lose his mind.No, this isn't how it was supposed to be."I have an injured shinobi over here! Someone get help!"He is jerked roughly from his thoughts. His body goes ice cold in the span of mere seconds.There's the sound of ninja sandals slapping against pavement. Raised voices fill his ears."That's the Hokage's apprentice! Hurry, she's lost too much blood -""Get her to the hospital, quick -""She's not gonna make it! Look at her, she's barely breathing -""Sakura-san! Sakura-san, stay with us! We'll get you help soon -""F***, someone get a medic over here -""She needs blood -""Guys, she's not gonna -""Shut up, she'll be fine -""Sakura-san -"Their voices slowly drown out until all he can hear is the blood pounding through his head. The sound of his racing heartbeat overwhelms him.And then he moves faster than he ever has before. One second, he is nearly hyperventilating on the wintry stone bench, and the next he is pushing a large group of jounin out of the way.Crimson. It's all crimson. Covering her, dripping off of her."Sakura," he chokes. The ninja holding her limp, blood-drenched body gives him a panicked look."Uchiha-san, please, get someone to help her," he rushes. "I-I don't know if she - sh*t, when I found her she was just lying there unconscious and I -""Give her to me." It's like he's gone into shock. He's an apparition, watching from above as his body stands there with nothing in his mind but the thought of Sakura and the blood staining her.The ninja holding her looks indecisive. Sasuke's eerily calm eyes, however, finally have him giving the kunoichi to her husband.Sasuke hears the words "Please, Uchiha-san, get her to help -" before he is sprinting - making sure Sakura doesn't jostle; there's no telling what wounds see bears underneath all that goddamn blood - as fast as he can over the rooftops of Konoha.He bursts into the white halls of the hospital, and instantly his voice raises above the low murmur he hears."Someone help!" he shouts hoarsely. "My wife is injured!"Several medics come running over, immediately calling to each other in steady tones.One of them - the brown-haired man Sakura walked with that night he saw them - gasps, eyes wide. "S-Sakura-san. What - Uchiha-san, what happened -""We need to stabilize her ASAP," another yells."Get a stretcher over here, would you? And we need blood -""Type O. That's what she is.""Someone get Tsunade-sama! She's fading quick -"And Sakura is pulled away from him, out of his arms. For a moment, her body is blocked from his view, and a sharp stab of panic impales him.She's being placed on a stretcher now. A swarm of medics surround her, their hands glowing with chakra as they desperately try to salvage whatever life is left in her."She's poisoned. Badly. It'll reach her heart in the next few minutes if we don't -""What is it? We need an antidote -""I've never seen this before! Sh*t, Kazuki, get Tsunade-sama as fast as you can -"Sasuke has never been so terrified. He is dimly aware that his hands are trembling, the horror clutching his heart in an unbreakable vise.She's being wheeled into a room now. He can do nothing but follow as they hook her up to tubes, pumping unknown fluids into her system, their glowing hands running frantically over her body.One of the medics takes notice of him standing just behind them, black eyes wide - it's like he's reliving the night of his parents' death, so unbelievably scared he is - as he stares at his wife, hands shaking, breath coming in short, quick bursts. The medic steps away and comes to stand before him."I'm sorry, Uchiha-san, but I'm going to have to ask you to leave -"The medic's hands grasp his shoulders, beginning to turn him away.Sasuke finally registers the words that have been spoken to him, what the medic is trying to do, and his unsteady gaze flashes to the man before him."Don't touch me," he says softly over the commotion in the room.The medic frowns, pushing harder. "Even if you are her husband," he replies sternly, "we can't have anyone else present -""I said don't touch me!"And his hands find purchase around the medic's neck, and the unfortunate man is knocked unconscious as his head slams into the ground.This draws attention to him. More medics surround him, hands pushing, pulling, trying to get him out of the room.Trying to take him away from his dying wife. Away from Sakura.He feels the Sharingan activate beyond his will. Chakra flows in heavy amounts through him, and his mind registers the fact that these people are trying to separate him from one of the most important people in his life, and in this case they now have become his enemies.He bares his teeth at them, and something akin to a snarl erupts in his chest. He raises his clenched fist, fully prepared to kill -"Uchiha!"Sasuke finds a pair of amber eyes glaring at him. It's the Hokage."Get out. Now."His gaze narrows. He opens his mouth."Goddammit, your wife is dying, Uchiha!" she growls. "Let us do our job without you killing my medics and get the f*** out."Behind her, he sees Sakura's eyes fly open. Her mouth parts in a silent scream, and her body arches off the surgery table.The machines she is hooked up to spike wildly, beeping out of control.Everything within him goes cold. Sakura's eyes focus sightlessly on the ceiling, glinting with pain and fear."Hurts," she gasps, and her hands move upward, trying to pull at the open wound on her chest.Tsunade's attention has fully left him now. She's beside the bloodied kunoichi in an instant. "Stabilize her wounds," she snaps, and already her palms are glowing as she works. "Someone get Shizune and have her find an antidote for the poison. If we don't move quickly she won't have much longer." Chakra pumping furiously, she turns her gaze to Sakura's panicked eyes. "Sakura," she says softly. "Look at me, Sakura."The pink-haired kunoichi is trembling uncontrollably, but she moves her gaze regardless, only semi aware of the chaos around her."We're going to try to save you, Sakura," the Hokage continues, eyes gentle. "Stay with us. Please."Sakura begins to shake her head, tears mixing with the blood trickling down her cheeks. "I-I-I c-can't -"Her body jerks, and her focus is completely lost as her eyes roll into the back of her head, and she falls unconscious once more."Sh*tsh*tsh*tsh*t," he hears Tsunade mutter fiercely. "Sakura, come on -"Sasuke sinks to the ground slowly, his back sliding down the wall behind him, the sounds gradually fading from his ears. He vaguely thinks he might be going into shock.She's going to die. His mind amplifies this thought, playing it in a repeating loop. He can visualize the words like a vibrant sign that is impossible to ignore.His eyes shift to focus on her face. He's never seen such a pained looked. She must be going through hell right now. He knows from first hand experience how much pain one can feel. But this -This is something else.He faintly realizes that he's being dragged away, out of the room, away from her.Before the medic leaves him, Sasuke's hand shoots up to grab the man's wrist.He can't even recognize his own voice, so cracked and ragged it is. "Will she be okay?" He has to ask.The medic's eyes turn sorrowful, and Sasuke can see what he is really thinking. "I don't know, Uchiha-san. We're going to try, but -" He breaks off, voice faltering, and when he continues his tone is unnervingly quiet. "I just don't know."And Sasuke is left alone out in the hall, hands held over his ears so he doesn't have to hear their words shouting that she probably will never live to see the light of day again."Sasuke-kun?"In response, he merely looks at her.She's staring at him, studying him as if searching for an answer in his blank depths. "Whenever you want to - to start a family," she says, steadfastly solemn, "I'm here. I'm prepared. I know it's why we married, so whenever you want." She nods to herself. "I won't deny you something you've been missing for so long." And she smiles. "You can trust me to be the best mother to your children I'm capable of being."He's struck silent. When did she gain such bravery? Such confidence? Such courage?For a moment, the image of his own mother appears in his head. And he realizes how alike the two really are.Sakura would make a fantastic mother, he realizes.Stunned, he nods, and replies, "I know I can. I will..." He inhales, breathing easily. "I'll keep that in mind."And she smiles once again.He was a fool. Such a fool to take her words for granted, to blindly assume that no harm would come her way and that they had all the time in the world to do whatever they wanted.His fingernails dig into his scalp, drawing blood. He hardly registers the pain.If she fell pregnant before, she would be at home right now, and he'd be beside her, silently worrying if she needed water or food or if she was uncomfortable. He can imagine her mood swings, and how he'd patiently wait out her tantrums, and how beautiful she'd look with her stomach rounded, their child growing steadily within her. He'd ask with trembling fingers if he could touch, and she'd laugh and tell him "Of course!" Then he'd rest his head against her, close his eyes, and think to himself that things couldn't be more right.It hurts, he finds, to let his mind wander so. He swallows thickly, and his eyes never leave the form of the plain white door in front of him, behind which his wife lays. The voices and the shouting have died down. He doesn't know what has happened in the long period of time he's been sitting on the floor. His body shivers unconsciously, the cold having seeped straight to his core, and he clenches his jaw.Then Tsunade steps out, and he is on his feet in a flash."What -"The Hokage shakes her head to silence him.Instantly, the world starts to crumble around him, falling in chipped pieces as he does nothing but stands there and stares.Tsunade smiles grimly."She's alive," she says.And suddenly everything moves back in place. His world is reformed with just those two simple - they seem so, but he knows his whole life revolves around them - words spoken to him.When he is allowed to see her nearly a day later - "She needs to rest for now," Tsunade told him; "I'll let you know when she is cleared for visitors. Only you, though. Anything more, like Naruto, would most likely overwhelm her" - he has to take several deep breaths to calm his pounding heart.He raises his hand to knock, then scolds himself, thinking she might be asleep. So he steps inside silently and closes the door just as noiselessly behind him.Then he finally fixes his gaze on her.She's asleep, as he figured. Her light blue hospital gown covers whatever horrors might lie beneath, and he can only see a few faint bruises on her arms and face. Several tubes are feeding thick liquid to her stomach, and an IV drip is hooked to her wrist. She's pale, eerily so, and her expression speaks of a faint, fluttering pain, but other than that, she appears peaceful as she slumbers.He releases a shaky breath, so relieved he is, as he steps forward and takes the single seat next to her bed.He leans forward to rest his elbows on the edge of her bed, his chin atop his folded hands. And he waits, the only thought entering his mind the fact that she is alive and won't be going anywhere anytime soon.Sakura wakes with a small cough, after which she instantly winces, finding that the action sends a piercing burn throughout her body."Ouch," she croaks."Are you okay?" a voice instantly lets out to her left. She feels a presence loom over her, the ghosts of fingers running along her cheek frantically.She stills, and slowly cracks her eyes open, flinching slightly at the harsh light that filters through her pupils.A pair of black eyes immediately replace her vision of the light, concern flickering in their opaque depths."Sasuke-kun?" she murmurs. "Is that you?"Then his arms have wrapped around her, pulling her limp form gently toward him, and he buries his face in her unkempt pink hair."Don't," he begins, voice rough, "ever do that again."He pulls away, staring heavily into her wide eyes. "You scared me, Sakura," he finishes softly.And he leans forward to press their mouths together, kissing her chapped lips with placidness that escapes even his comprehension.Because she is here with him, alive.And it is more than he could have ever asked for."What are you doing, Sasuke-kun?"Sasuke glances down at the wash bin in his arms, accompanied by a sponge, a towel, and a bottle of body soap."Tsunade said you could be given a bath today," he replies, not meeting her gaze."Huh." Sakura peers at him. "So where's the nurse?"The Uchiha sets the objects in his hands on her bed, then takes the bin to the sink and begins to fill it up with water. He doesn't answer."Are you my nurse, then, Sasuke-kun?"He nods, eyes determinedly focused on his task."Well," Sakura lets out. She watches as he takes a seat beside her, and finally his gaze connects with hers."Is this alright with you?" he asks solemnly.She can only smile softly at him.When he undresses her, he does it with the utmost caution, checking her face every few seconds to make sure she isn't in pain, and he forces himself not to flinch at the various scars that now litter her torso. The wound on her chest is a raw red, freshly healed, and he remembers Sakura telling him once that medics can only do so much healing before the body's own regenerative system forcefully takes over. True to her statement, there are still a good number of gashes along her torso that had to be sewn shut, and many cuts look to be in the stages of scabbing over.Painstakingly, he moves the sponge over her body, mindful of the tubes hooked into her stomach and the IV drip in her arm, and when he's done he dresses her with no less care, each movement meticulously hesitant.Just as he's about to draw away, she grasps his hand and pulls him down toward her, her lips finding purchase upon his forehead. He stills, and they remain like that for a good number of seconds until she releases him and looks at him with warm, tender green eyes."Thank you," she says.He simply returns the gesture.She was ambushed by around twenty rogue jounin while on her mission, apparently. That is all Tsunade allows him to hear, but it sets his blood boiling anyway."I'll murder them."This leaves his mouth matter-of-factly, as if he were merely commenting on the weather outside. Sakura, who lies in her bed beside him, lifts a brow."Unfortunately," she answers easily, "Tsunade-shishou has already sent out an ANBU team to hunt them down. Sorry."Sasuke seethes quietly, glaring holes into the wall opposite him, and Sakura just chuckles at her husband's antics."I hate this place."Sasuke's head jerks up as he precisely cuts an apple into even pieces. His puzzled gaze takes in the form of his wife where she sits upon her bed, staring furiously out the window, arms crossed in defiance."Seven full days in this hellhole is just too much," she mutters. "And to think" - with this, she throws her hands into the air, exasperated - "that after this I'm going to have to go back to work here! Goddammit!" Sakura turns her wild eyes to the closed door, and shouts, as if the woman mentioned can actually hear her, "Let me out of this sh*thole, Tsunade!"He doesn't believe he's ever heard such foul language slip from his wife's mouth before. He raises a brow, picks up a fresh apple slice, and holds it out to her, hoping to calm her.Sakura blinks as she gazes at what he offers her. A grin makes its way upon her lips."Do you remember when I tried to feed you apples in the hospital? It was a long time ago, when we were genin." She chews the slice thoughtfully, awaiting his answer.Sasuke frowns down at the fruit he holds. "I knocked them out of your hand. It was rude of me."Sakura shrugs. "If anything, I should've known you needed to be alone. I apologize for that."He grumbles incoherently under his breath, and she just smiles at him."I was thinking this morning," she suddenly says, "that it's been a long time since I told you I loved you."He stills, his hands freezing in the motion of cutting off another slice, and turns to stare at her.She returns his bewildered eyes with a smile. "I hope you know I do, though. I've loved you since we were genin."It pains him a little to see that she honestly doesn't expect anything from him in return, that she is so willing to give everything to him that she has to offer and be perfectly content without any response from him."Thank you, Sakura," he finds himself saying.It's her turn to be puzzled."Truly, for everything," he continues steadily. "Thank you."Her confused expression fades away as another smiles twists her lips, and she laughs a full, unburdened laugh. "You said that the last time I confessed, too. But I guess" - her eyes soften - "it's nice to be able to say 'you're welcome' this time around."This time around, he isn't running away. Not now, and never again.She's released two days later, deemed fully healed and allowed to resume her usual duties.Sasuke walks her to the hospital everyday, still not completely convinced she's fine to be alone. He walks her home, too, waiting no matter how long it takes for her to exit the hospital's doors.The third day, when he is about to step out of the house to escort her to the hospital, she whips toward him suddenly, expression composed and eyes fixed unswervingly on him."You know you don't have to do this everyday, right?" she says, and a tiny smile curves her lips upward. "I'm perfectly fine now, so you don't have to force yourself to do something like this for my sake. I can handle myself, don't -""I do worry, Sakura," Sasuke interrupts suddenly, voice serious, a hint of frustration in his tone.She gapes openly."I worry constantly, everyday." He turns his eyes skyward. They close for a moment before opening again. "I worry if you're getting enough sleep or if you're eating properly. I worry that I'm going to come home one day and you'll have left me. I worry that some other man will enter your life and you'll decide you desire him instead. I worry" - he pauses to take a deep breath - "that something like this will happen again and I will not be so lucky to have you still here next to me, and I want to make sure you are never thrown into danger for as long as I can help it. So, yes, Sakura, I do worry. I worry more than you can believe. Nothing you say or do will ever change that."He shifts his gaze to her visibly shaken form and frowns. "Now will you allow me to walk my wife to work or not?"Sakura takes in the sight of him while she has the chance. His pitch dark hair falls messily across his forehead, sticking up randomly in the back like it always has. His broad shoulders have stiffened, palms lying flat beside him. The black long-sleeved shirt he is wearing underneath his jounin vest fits him perfectly - she remembers vaguely that she bought that for him a while ago - as do his plain black shinobi pants. His thinned lips are twisted into a subtle frown, and onyx eyes stare down at her heavily.She thinks to herself that this man in front of her is beautiful. From his naturally cold exterior to his rare displays of affection and emotion. Everything about him. Inside and out, Uchiha Sasuke is someone who she adores, looks up to, cares about. She feels her love for him in every cell of her body."Will you marry me?"Did she hear wrong? She must've. She pauses in her work and turns to face him, expecting amusement in his eyes, signaling that in some sick, twisted way, Sasuke is joking with her.Her heart stills at the seriousness his entire being exudes, then rapidly picks up its pace, pounding.And so she asks, "What brings this about?"He tells her that it's because he won't allow the Uchiha clan to die with him. It's the truth, she knows. He doesn't love her, probably never will, and this is just so he can revive his clan to its full glory. It always was one of his goals, after all.But because she is Sakura and she still loves him, regardless of everything that they have been through, she says yes.And as the days go by and they are married and he treats her with respect, with tolerance, with a miniscule spark of warmth that she can't quite place, she thinks that if they stayed like this for the rest of forever, she would be more content than she ever has been before.Sakura wonders how it is possible for one man to ever make another person so happy. Surely she must be bursting with all that she feels.A little dazed and high off his words - because in Sasuke-talk this is nearly equivalent to a confession, and maybe, just maybe, with time rolling on and the days spread out before her, he will eventually find it in him to voice what she has always dreamed of hearing - she takes his offered hand, smiles a smile so vibrant it can rival even Naruto's, and says, "Of course, Sasuke-kun.""Love is like a friendship caught on fire. In the beginning a flame, very pretty, often hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. As love grows older, our hearts mature and our love becomes as coals, deep-burning and unquenchable."- Bruce Lee

β€” The Blackest Night

06/04/2021 04:57 PM 

Home (KakaSaku)

She stood in the same spot he always occupied; on the fifth spike of the Fourth Hokage's hair.The skies darkened with heavy grey clouds and she wondered if he'd be able to smell the rain in the air -wherever he is.He was five months late. Five months overdue on a mission that was supposed to last two months.The Pinkette tried not to lose hope, but how could she not? Nightmares plagued her sleep, tortured her with long lonely nights and threatened to break her.The image of him dead in some ditch, never seen, haunted her.A flash of blue light rippled through the skies and pulled her out of her miserable thoughts, signifying a coming storm.It only made her heart clinch. When will she ever stop associating lighting with her husband?She couldn't help it, lightning so happened to be his affinity.The blackened skies only served to remind her of his all-consuming charcoal eyes that she sometimes swore could set her aflame with one glance.Sakura was also due any day now -the horror of it was that Kakashi had no idea. If he's alive -if he ever returns- he'll find that their little family grew by one.He would be shocked, but he'd also be happy. She knew that, but it didn't stop her heart racing whenever she thought of the growing possibility of him never returning home to her and their daughter.The medic didn't want to think about what it'd mean if he never returned. Didn't want to imagine her daughter growing up fatherless. Didn't want to think of how she'll be lonely and miserable for the rest of her life."I thought I'd find you here." She felt his presence before he spoke."Hey, Genma."He stopped next to her, the senbon he usually had between his teeth absent for the first time in years. "It's getting cold.""I'm okay." She replied monotonously, so used to saying these two empty words to every person who asked about her wellbeing.She felt his big warm palm on her shoulder. "You don't want to hurt the baby now do you?"A shiver ran down her spine that had nothing to do with the chill in the air. The idea of hurting anything that's half Kakashi terrified her; this baby was after all the last remaining piece of her lost husband."No," the reply was soft but full of agony.Genma felt his stomach twist uncomfortably at how heartbreaking her voice sounded. He wasn't sure what he'd do if her hormones tipped out of balance and she decided to start crying.That bastard Kakashi, he better be alive."Come on," he said using the gentlest voice he could muster as he laid his arm across her shoulders and pulled her closer to him to capture her some warmth and started leading her back home. "Let's go home."That was the final straw. Her face twisted up and she burst into tears as heavy as the coming rain.She sniffed miserably into his shoulder and held onto his arm like her knees might collapse beneath her at any given second. Perhaps he shouldn't have said anything -now he sat her off. Lovely.The mentioning of 'home' was too much for her to bare when the literal embodiment of that word was absent."I'm sorry," Genma told her with feeling, "I didn't mean... I'm sorry. I'm sure he's alive."The Pinkette gnawed furiously at her lip in failed efforts to stop her streaming tears. It only seemed to make her cry harder.Genma was about to attempt comforting her with words he didn't believe himself when suddenly, her green eyes widened and her hold on him tightened.She hissed and then gasped in pain."W-what?" Genma's voice quivered with worry, his brown eyes widening as well. "Are you okay?""I-I think my water just broke.."He blinked in shock but quickly recovered, his stomach somersaulting as he realised he would have to play the role of the ever dutiful worried father.He swallowed thickly, the heavy atmosphere of the coming storm only serving to grate on his nerves, "can you walk?""I-I don't know!" She gasped, fear evident in her voice and on her face.Cursing softly, he bent and lifted her up as carefully as he could.She frantically latched onto his neck and held onto his shoulders with fingers of steel.His legs protested against the extra weight, refusing to run at their full speed. The pain from the tightness of her killer-grip on his shoulder only distracted him.He rushed her to Shizune in the hospital, his lungs aching with effort -or maybe it was the stress of the situation that left him short of breath."Oh thank god you found her at the right time." Shizune gasped, pulling him into a tight hug before dashing after Tsunade into the pale room where Sakura was held.Genma wanted to leave, wanted to go to his home and maybe get some sleep -he did after all only return from his mission an hour ago but he knew the stress won't let him get a wink.And he also knew that if he left Sakura alone during her first childbirth, Kakashi would haunt him in the after life or send him to an early one if he was still alive.And so he took in a deep shaky breath and dashed in after Shizune.Ten hours and twelve bone cracks later, the sound of a crying baby filled the room.Sakura finally let go of his severely bruised and broken hand and reached for her newborn baby with trembling hand.The sight of little silver hair poking out of the bundle in Tsunade's arms momentarily distracted him of the agony in his hand; Kakashi's daughter had his hair.The Pinkette started crying as she held her close to her chest, pressing her little body onto her shoulder and Genma leaned in too to look at the baby better.Seemingly sensing her mother's distress, the baby continued to wail loudly.He felt a little sick. What if Kakashi never returned to see her?Genma who lost his father before ever knowing him knew very well what life was like growing up fatherless; the thought of this innocent little girl growing up the way he did truly made him sick to his stomach.He reached with his healthy hand and gently stroked the baby's reddened cheeks. Sakura looked up at him with tearful pleading eyes.The brown-haired man wasn't sure what she wanted him to say but he swallowed thickly and whispered, "He'll come back to see her... I'm sure."Why did she believe his words was beyond him. But she stopped crying and that's all he cared about at the moment.Then she gave him a tiny -dare he say shy- smile, "do you... want to hold her?"Chocolate brown eyes slid from the Pinkette's face to the slowly-calming-down-baby in her arms.She looked so delicate -easily the most fragile thing he'd ever hold.Sakura helped him hold her neck right and— what the heck? she really was tiny.He was afraid of breaking her by simply holding her, that's how frail the baby felt in his arms."What's... what's her name?" He asked, mouth a little dry. Was it fair he got to hold Kakashi's child before him?Sakura worried her lip for a few moments before answering timidly, "Misaki."Genma let out a shaky breath he hadn't realised he was holding, "Hello Misaki-chan... this is... uncle Genma."Tsunade snorted rather rudely from somewhere in the room but he ignored her.Sakura and Shizune chuckled quietly and he stared in fascination as Misaki's mouth opened into a little perfect 'o' and yawned.Holy sh*t, she's adorable.And then Tsunade was taking her out of his arms to clean her.Genma pouted like the seven-year-old he truly is but let go of Misaki and instead gave his bruised hand to Shizune with a miserable 'please.'Kakashi refused to let out a scream of pain as his capturer landed another sharp kick at his bruised stomach.He coughed up blood as he felt his head reel and spin again and again.Five months of this, how much more can he take?That's the worst part, the men that held him hostage had no intentions of ending his life. In fact, they were trying their hardest to make him feel the most intense pain imaginable while keeping him alive.They'd bruise him unrecognisable only to heal him and start over.He knew of course, that if they kept manipulating his cells that way he'd die regardless of their wishes.Everyone probably thought he was dead anyway. And maybe they should -he didn't feel far off that.Poor Sakura, how would she take the news of his unfortunate death?He had no intention of giving up just yet but Kakashi is a realistic man, he knew there was at least a seventy percent chance he won't make it out alive.He also wouldn't depend on the entire remaining thirty percent because knowing his luck, that chance would probably be halved a few times."You're a persistent one, eh?" The hideous man that landed the previous kick snarled in a deep smoker's voice next to his face.Spitting the blood in his mouth he bared his teeth in contempt. "Your... breath... stinks."Another sharp kick to his newly healed ribs cracked them again.The silver-head hissed in pain which earned him a delighted laugh. "Fighting back won't get you anywhere Copy Ninja Kakashi. Where can I find the Itami scroll?"The man was clearly stupid if he thought Kakashi would ever give away information that could harm his home. "My ass."Another kick directed to that same broken rib send waves of agony to every cell in his body.How shameful would it be if he burst into tears? Kakashi could barely believe he's still alive.They had him locked in a rotten cell, gave him one meal a day and interrogated him for about five hours each day before healing him and throwing him back in that same rotten cell.For five months. It was hell.But he had a wife to protect, that bastard would have to burn him alive before he hoped to disclose any information from him."Misaki," Ino cooed at the two months old baby in her arms. "You're so cute baby~"The silver-haired girl cracked open a green eye and yawned cutely."She's so cute!" Ino gushed and tapped Misaki's button nose. "Look at her awww, Mimi you pretty thing."The Pinkette smiled at the blond, her eyes fixing at her daughter who looked more like her father than any kid had the right to at two months old.After being thrown into the same cell for the two-hundred-forty-third time, Kakashi has managed to successfully dig a small hole in the thick rock wall.He worked day and night, chipping away at his jail with nothing but a nail he stole off his attacker.He concealed the place with his mattress and a carefully threaded genjutsu.Wasting no time, he pushed out through the narrow space with all his might.Why did he not Chidori his way out? Good question. Why of course because that would set off all hundred-and-twenty enemies in the area.Kakashi Hatake is strong, but he is no god.He couldn't even begin to hope to defeat roughly one-twenty ninjas at once.Coming face to face with the tall forest trees, he nearly let out a few tears of relief at seeing the world once more.He had roughly eight hours before they discovered him. Ten if he's lucky.Going back to Konoha was out of the question. It'd take him five days and by then they'd have caught up to him.It left him one choice: Sasuke.He could sense him somewhere in the area, but the Uchiha was hard to track unless he wanted to be found.Thank god he was no longer an a**hole, and actually viewed him as a comrade."Kakashi." The Uchiha greeted with a curt nod upon seeing the copy nin. "You look like sh*t.""Thanks." The silver-head replied dryly. "...I need your help-""Capturing the ones that did this to you." The Uchiha finished for him. "Lead the way.""Hold up a second," Kakashi said with an impatient sigh. "There's over a hundred and twenty of them. They're after the Itami scroll-""I've been tracking them for a while, I know who they are. Just not where they are. So if you'd be kind enough to lead me there." Sasuke cut him off once more."Sasuke," Kakashi said as he leveled him with a hard stare. "I said there's a hundred and twenty of them.""No biggie." The Uchiha smirked at him. "I know a few people who can help us -besides, who said anything about knocking the front door? We're going undercover sensei.""What is she doing?" Genma asked Sakura when Misaki bit his shoulder with non-existent teeth."Her teeth are coming out," Sakura said a little sympathetically. "She bites at things because they're irritating her."Genma let out a gasp and feigned surprise as he pried Misaki off him. "Is that true Misaki? Is mama raising a little cutie monster?"The silver-haired infant reached blindly for the cloth covering his hair and nearly punched his eye out with her tiny fists. "Careful boo."Sakura laughed when Misaki giggled in glee as she successfully ripped the dark blue material off Genma's head in her second attempt and started chewing on it."Not nice, baby girl." Genma pouted. "I just washed this yesterday."That made Sakura laugh harder. It was nice seeing her laugh -but Genma wasn't sure if it was because she finally accepted Kakashi's death or if she truly believed he is coming back.Or maybe being a mother is so time-consuming she didn't think about it much. He didn't know.Tenzou walked into the jounin room for the first time in six months."Huh?" He blinked at Misaki in Genma's arms, stupefied. "Is that... yours and Kakashi's love child?""Ha ha ha," Genma laughed humourlessly. "You wish buddy. This is Sakura's daughter."Tenzou's mouth fell open, "oh, I had no idea! Congratulations... I have some news.""Shoot," Genma said. Misaki giggled at the noise.The brown-haired man crossed his eyes at her and she clapped wildly at him, giggling joyfully.Tenzou tried to ignore the adorable scene as he spoke. "We believe Kakashi-senpai is nearby."Sakura mouth fell open and she jumped to her feet in an instant. "Where?!"Tenzou stared wide-eyed at the feverish look in her eyes. "At the outskirt of Konoha. Sasuke's hawk just came in with a letter -the handwriting perfectly matches Kakashi's."Sakura was already grabbing her weapon pouch off the shelf. "Genma. Keep an eye on Misaki."And with that she ran out, leaving both Genma and Tenzou gobsmacked and worried."I..." Tenzou trailed off. "Am going after her."Genma hurriedly shooed him off, getting up with Misaki perched up on his hip, "Hurry and go, I'll get Tsunade-sama."Tenzou gave a sharp nod and disappeared out of the door."Alright Mimi, we're going to see obaa-san." Genma muttered to the infant as he grabbed his weapon pouch and magically fastened it with one hand."Opa," Misaki giggled again."You know, kid? I fail to understand how you're so giggly when your father has a face as devoid of emotion as a baboon's ass.""Aas," Misaki clapped happily and Genma nearly dropped her in horror, calling Tsunade becoming secondary in the span of two seconds."No no no Misaki-chan, bad girl, don't say that!""Aas!""I'm so dead."Trees flashed by as she breezed through the forest, her senses on high alert, searching for his chakra signature -searching for Sasuke's and Pakkun's, anything linked to the copy nin.She could hear the heavy thudding of her heartbeat in her ears; could feel adrenaline coursing through her veins; and mostly she could feel her stomach twisting into multiple knots.A year and three months without a word. A part of her was sure she'll dissolve into tears upon seeing him. Even if he wasn't hurt, if he as much as said a word she was sure she'll cry.She missed his voice, his touch, his arms, his face -everything about him. She missed falling asleep next to him and waking up to his mask-less smiles."Kakashi!" She called, as loudly as her lungs would allow her. "Kakashi!"Her voice rang through the forest and echoed past her as she continued to race forward."Sakura?"She whirled around to find Sasuke approaching her, bloodied and bruised.Her heart fell. "Where's he?""Where's who?""Kakashi.""I'm... here." She jumped at the sound of his voice and nearly passed out when he moved around Sasuke. "'M here Sak."This better not be an illusion or else someone's gonna die a painful death; She thought vehemently as she flung herself at him, pulling him into a bone-crushing embrace. "You f***ing, f***ing stupid, idiot. Stupid, you're so stupid oh god, sh*t, I missed you, f***, you're so stupid.""Maa Sakura, you can't insult me and miss me at once..." he smiled into her raspberry smelling hair that he missed so deeply."Shut up, idiot!" She cried into his neck, her shoulders trembling with the force of her sobs, "god, I thought you were dead."He let her cry it out and took joy in watching Sasuke squirm uncomfortably from behind her.She loosened her bone-crushing hold on him, ripped his torn mask off his face and smashed their lips together in a hungry desperate kiss, not even phased by his beard."Okaaaay. I'm leaving." Sasuke grimaced, turning around on his heel and stalking away, "see you at home."Kakashi laughed against Sakura's mouth, the tension in his body strong enough to cripple a country but her hold on him steadied him -empowered him. He was home right there in her arms."Are you okay?"Was he okay? Yes. Yes he was. He was holding her in his arms; she's breathing, he's breathing. That's all he needed to be okay."Few broken ribs..." He told her but she was already moving a green palm across his body, checking his injuries and deciding their severity, healing them a little as she went."I need to go see Tsunade." He told her, prying her glowing hands off him. "The sooner I'm done with her, the sooner I can come home."Sakura nodded once, "but first... I have something to tell you.""What is it?" He asked a little worriedly, hoping she haven't moved on in his absence or anything like that."There's someone waiting for us at home."Oh god, she did move on, didn't she?"Who...?" He asked weakly, feeling his heart sink to his stomach ."Someone I love more than the entire world... someone I love as much as I love you." She whispered, her green eyes glinting with something he had no name for.His heart sunk further down. "Oh.""Her name is Misaki.""...her?" Kakashi asked in confusion. As far as he knew, Sakura wasn't into girls."Mhmm... it's a girl." She said with a happy grin.Kakashi was very confused then but Sakura continued, "She's six months old—""Sakura, what are you talking about?" Kakashi demanded, his heart nearly jumping out of his throat in anticipation."Your daughter silly." She laughed musically, beautifully -in the way he loved and missed so dearly.Kakashi froze when her words half registered in his hazy mind, "my...what?""Daughter," she repeated, obviously enjoying herself.Kakashi on the other hand felt like he might pass out as he repeated her words, incredulously, testing the way they sounded rolling off his tongue. "My daughter.""Well, our daughter," Sakura corrected. "She looks so much like you."Kakashi blinked rapidly, like that might make his brain processes the information faster. "We have a baby." He repeated, sounding dumbfounded."Mhmmmmm," his wife hummed in content. "Let's go see Tsunade so you could meet her, yeah?"He gave a silent nod."Kakashi," Tsunade said, sounding relieved at the sight of him. "I'm so glad you're alive.""Me too," he said, sounding and feeling weary."Sit down, let me heal you properly." Tsunade ordered and before he had the chance to protest, pushed him down so that he was seated on the red couch in her office."You look like death," she commented."I feel like death." He deadpanned but she cracked a smile."You won't feel so bad when I'm done with you, I promise." She assured him as she slipped a green hand beneath his shirt and across his hard chest and then turned her face to look at Sakura. "Genma's in the cafeteria with Misaki, go get her before he teaches her anything else.""Teaches her what?" Her tone turned dangerous at the end, sending a chill down both Kakashi's and Tenzou's -who got here a few moments ago- spines.Kakashi nearly forgot how scary his wife is. Jeez.Tsunade wearily cleared her throat. "Just get her and... go home or something.""Wait—" Kakashi started to protest but Sakura was already gone like a cool breeze in a hot summer and so he turned to complain to Tsunade instead. "I want to see her.""You were gone for a year and three months. You can wait an extra hour." Tsunade reasoned she she healed his broken arm. "You can't hold her if your bones are broken."Kakashi grumbled miserably and slumped back in his seat like a little kid who's candy was stolen.He's going go give Tsunade exactly one hour to patch up his body."What does she look like?" He asked Tenzou on their way to his home. He could barely wait much longer to see Misaki but his newly healed body refused to cooperate with him and instead slowed him down."She has your hair." Tenzou shrugged. That's all he remembered from glimpsing the child when he broke the news of Kakashi's return to Sakura.Kakashi stopped mid-stride but was fast to overcome his shock and jog after Tenzou. "My hair?""Yeah." Tenzou confirmed with a nod, "styled into a little ponytail.""She's only six months old right? How does she have enough hair to be styled into a ponytail?" Kakashi asked, a little incredulous."She's your daughter, what'd you expect?""I don't have that much hair." Kakashi protested but was cut off by Tenzou."Oh, yes you do. Anyway, we're here."Kakashi swallowed thickly as he stopped in front of his apartment's creamy door. He hasn't been here in over a year.He could hear an infant's loud giggles from beyond the door and it made his heart skip a beat.It felt like a dream as he knocked the door -like some twisted prank. It was hard to believe he was a father and he doubted he would before he saw his so-called daughter.Sakura opened the door with a bright smile and yanked him in, "Hey dear, bye Tenzou!"Kakashi's sight immediately fell at the little child crawling on the floor and suddenly he was too tongue-tied to comment on how rude it is to slam doors in people's faces.His mouth dried a bit as bright green eyes looked at him from across the room.The silver-head was scared of making any unexpected moves that might scare away the baby, but she seemed fascinated by his presence as she crawled her way to his feet and dropped on her butt with a quiet thud.Wide green eyes peered curiously at him from beneath thick pretty lashes.There was no questions. Misaki was definitely his daughter -he'd know she's his from a mile away.Her unique silver hair and bright green eyes screamed 'I'm Kakashi's and Sakura's daughter.'He carefully crouched down in front of her, his lip quivering as he reached to ruffle her thick hair.She smiled around her pink pacifier and reached to grasp at his pinky in her hair with her small fist.Kakashi burst into ugly tears against his well and it seemed to confuse the little girl because she held onto his hand and pushed herself up onto her feet so that she was level with his face.He supported her weight with shaky hands to prevent her from falling and watched with wide glassy eyes as she rubbed the salty liquid droplets off his face and offered him her pacifier -like it might stop his tears.But it only served to make him more emotional and he pulled her tiny body into a tight hug, stood up with her in his arms and pressed kisses all over the side of her face.He could hardly believe his eyes. He had a daughter.It was absolutely ridiculous and wonderful and he wanted to laugh and cry and dance all at once as he pulled Sakura into a tight family embrace and relished the sound of Misaki's giggles in his ears.He's finally home.

β€” The Blackest Night

06/04/2021 04:46 PM 

Masquerade of True Love

It was a beautiful day in the city of Konoha… It was sunny, not many clouds in the sky so it did not seem like it would rain on the city today so that was a plus for many. Why it would be a plus for many? Well, that is because tonight, would be the Masquerade Dance. Many people, some from far and wide come to Konoha for this dance, one that only happens once a year. Many people, say that they find their true love at this dance, for one way or another, there has always been someone to fall in love and have their happily ever afters from this dance.Though, there are also some break ups though, the dance, is also known to be ‘The Masquerade of True Love’. It was a rather odd way to find the one for you, but perhaps it was the way the dance was done, for the masks always hid a person’s face, allowing the one they are with to see the true meaning of ‘inner beauty’ before claiming their love is based on outer appearances.That was what the dance was all about… finding true love, based on their inner beauty… and that is where the story shall take place…Looking out the window of her family’s home, was a woman with long blue hair with two locks framing her hair as others had liked to declare ‘a princess hair style’ though she wasn’t sure about that. Her pale eyes with hints of lavender seemed sad, over the years, she has had many other boyfriends but sadly, they had only seen her for her outer appearance and it always made her sad. Was that all she was good for? To look good? That was all she would be worth for she figured, after all, everyone that she had ever dated always said how good she looked and always made comments about her looks rather than her personality or what she wore. The worst part? They always stared at her breasts.Shaking her head, the young woman stretched her arms above her head as she thought that maybe it was best that she was alone, if no one could accept her for who she is, then what was the point in finding love? It just… the way it was meant to be after all. Breathing gently, the young woman pushed herself up from her seat and made her way over to the kitchen and started to make herself something to snack on, hoping that it would give her something to eat.It was nice that she decided to spend her vacation at her parent’s home, wanting to help out though, also to get away from her home. Her last boyfriend would no doubt try to get her back because of her ‘perfect beauty’ though, she highly doubted that. He only wanted her body and image, nothing more. It was… her… that he wanted.Sighing softly, the young woman wanted to think to the boy that she first met when she was a child. She was trying to get home from her first day of school and got lost. She had found herself at the riverside, which was a place that she knew wasn’t near her home and broke down crying. A boy had found her; he was playing nearby since he lived in the neighbourhood. He felt bad for her and knew how to get her back home.At the time, Hinata had been shy and couldn’t say anything, or at least she was very shy when it came to strangers and boys. He had managed to get her home though before she could thank him, he had ran off… and she never saw him again. Not even asking for anything in return, he was a selfless person, only thinking about others and not wanting anything but then again, he, like her, was a child at that point of time. It made her wonder if she would ever see him again though at the same time she didn’t think fate would be so kind to her for that.Shaking her head, the young woman knew that she would have to try to get out of this funk. There was just no point in trying to keep her thoughts on the past. That boy was never going to be seen again because it was most likely that he moved away after that point in time and… there was just no point in trying to think about it anyway.Looking back out the window, Hinata wondered what her life would be like if she did find the one for her… the one that could connect to her soul and that saw true inner beauty? That would make her life perfect no doubt though, was there such a thing in the first place? She couldn’t really be sure of such a thing. Though that was nothing but a dream, a dream that would never come true for her…Yawning into the back of her hand, the young woman grabbed a nutrition bar before making her way over to the living room to watch a movie. There had to be something good on that would cheer her up even if it was just a little bit. Looking up at the TV, she saw a kid’s movie coming on but shrugged her shoulders as she started to watch it. After all, it was the weekend and not a lot of things were really on the weekend so what was the point in not watching a movie even if it was mostly for kids in the first place? Though, just as she was getting into it, the phone started to ring…“Ah man…” she whispered before pushing herself up from her seat and made her way over to the cordless phone. “Hello, Hyuuga Residence…” She said into the receiver. Hinata wasn’t really sure who would be calling her at a time like this though she figured that maybe it was for her parents…“Hinata, it’s your father…” Oh, it was her father though, why was he calling? Couldn’t he tell her whatever it was when he got back from his trip? “Listen, I know I was supposed to go to that dance tonight but I can’t make it so tell your mother when she gets home and you go in my place will you?” He didn’t sound angry but he did sound a little displeased with missing that dance. It was something that he and her mother had gone to every year and not once have they missed it.“But… I’m not one for dances father…” she whispered softly.“I know Hinata, but you need to get out of the house and meet other people. Besides, maybe some culture would be good for you… Not to mention, everyone will be wearing masks remember? They won’t know who you are and not to mention, the whole ‘do not remove your masks until midnight’ you can easily leave before then so you wouldn’t have to.” Okay, he had a point there though it still had her a little nervous with going… Her parents had wanted her to go to that dance for a long time, or at least when she had turned eighteen years old but she had always refused…Maybe he was right, maybe she should go. People wouldn’t know who she was because of the mask and she didn’t have to give her full name so that was something. Letting out a deep breath, the young woman calmly said “alright father, I’ll go… I’ll go get a mask and a dress.”After chatting with her father for a bit, Hinata hung up and went to the table and grabbed her purse and made her way out of the house and to the store for her dress, and some items to make her mask. Though she just prayed that the mask turned out okay, that was the only thing that she wanted… though she was also thankful for that art degree that she had on her wall but it had also been a very long time since she did anything artistic… well, never too late to get back into it right?***Wiping the sweat from her brow as she sat at her desk, she didn’t think that she would get it done in time but it looked great. Smiling the young woman carefully set the mask down on her desk as she decided to let the glue dry off before getting up from her seat and made her way over to her closet as she double checked her dress to make sure that it would fit properly since she had only tried it on once at the store before purchase. “I’m just over thinking this…” muttered Hinata before hearing her cell phone ring.Reaching into her pocket and fishing it out, she pressed it to her ear as she said “hello?”“Hinata! I heard that you’re going to the dance this year!” shouted a woman’s voice on the other end. Hinata had to pull the phone away from her ear as she heard her best friend squeal with excitement, another person that had been trying to get her to go to the dance for a long time. It was amazing just how many people had wanted her to go to the dance.“Father couldn’t make it back and he didn’t want the ticket to go to waste so he gave it to me since Hanabi is at college still.” Which was true, there wasn’t much she could do about her sister being away so she was the last choice. Inhaling softly, she ran a hand through her hair as she added “but yeah I’ll be going. I’ll be wearing purple and lavender at the dance if you are gonna be looking for me.”“Of course Hinata! Sasuke and I are going to and knowing him he’ll wear something black and I’ll be wearing something pink and red!” Hinata heard Sakura’s giggling before adding “are you going with your boyfriend?”“I dumped him Sakura, Kabuto was just into my looks just like any other guy…” Hinata said with a sad sigh. It was amazing that Sakura didn’t know about that, but then again it made sense since the blue haired woman hadn’t really told anyone about her dumping the creepy grey haired man with his weird and creepy stare.“Good, he was no good for you… say, Hinata… Sasuke is also bringing his best friend… his friend will be going alone as well so… if something comes up can you keep his friend company? Please?” asked Sakura. Okay, it was rare for Sasuke to bring friends of his anywhere, so unless he hadn’t seen his friend for a long time and the poor soul had come at a bad time or Sasuke just wanted his friend to deal with the dance as much as he did since Hinata knew, for a fact that Sasuke hated going to that dance.“Alright, so long as Sasuke’s friend doesn’t try anything…”“It’s no problem at all Hinata! I swear if anything happens you know how I handle problems.”Oh yeah, she knew that hands down, the last person to get on Sakura’s bad side, was sent to the hospital with just about every bone in his body broken and his skin almost fully black and blue. It was amazing that the poor guy was still alive to be honest but Sakura was never one to kill anyone no matter the reason behind it. “Alright…” Hinata said, honestly she wondered how she would always end up being roped into all of this… Maybe she was just that soft hearted or something.Chatting with her best friend for a little while longer, Hinata calmly asked “so, what kind of mask are you planning to wear?” she was a little curious as to what she would be wearing though it was still puzzling for the whole dance to be honest because to be honest there may be other people that would be wearing the same colours as she would.“Well, it isn’t going to be anything special, it’ll just be a red mask with pink feathers on the side, it’ll only go around my eyes and a bit over my nose, nothing special. As for Sasuke, he’s gonna be wearing some kind of raven mask… I think it’s because it’s black like his outfit.”Of course, Sasuke was wearing black, and that meant everything so that only made sense after all. The man was in some sense almost like a goth, though only in wearing the colour black just about every day unless it was too hot then he would wear some brighter colours just so he wouldn’t over heat. Hinata laughed a little bit as she calmly said “Sakura… do you think I’ll have fun at this dance?” she was a little worried, there hadn’t really been a good history of her having any kind of fun at a dance before so it had her a little nervous at that.“I’m sure you’ll have fun Hinata, hell I bet you would even find the one for you. After all, you know what they say about that dance right? There has always been couples being made at that dance for those who are single, and I just know that you’ll find him. After all, people will only see you in a mask until midnight when you remove the mask and it is also all about inner beauty.” Sakura said, her voice sounding happy and sure of herself. She was positive that the blue haired woman would have a blast…“Oh, what kind of mask are you wearing Hinata?” asked Sakura.“Oh, it’ll be a purple cat mask.” She said with a smile, she wasn’t sure why but cats had always been one of her favourite animals even though she doesn’t own one. Though, that could also be because her apartment didn’t allow pets in the least. Though maybe at some point, she would get a new pet when she can get a new apartment then she could though that was if it was in her budget after all…“Oh a cat mask! That should be interesting! I hope to see it in its full glory Hinata! Oh! I have to go, I gotta cook dinner before Sasuke gets home, he’s working a bit late and he wants to eat before heading to the dance. Bye!” with that, Sakura hung up and left Hinata to her own thoughts. Well, it made sense that Sakura would want to make something for her and Sasuke to eat though she just hoped that she would be able to eat before she left, sadly her stomach was in knots… Must be because she was even more nervous than before since she had agreed to keep Sasuke’s friend company… whoever that was anyway.Looking back at her dress, she went to work to make a few adjustments… If she wanted to prove herself about inner beauty, she may as well change a few things about the dress to at least… show something off but not too revealing in the least…***Breathing deeply, Hinata sat in her car for a moment after parking at the dance. The grand hall that would host the dance every year was full of lights and beautiful music it made her wonder if it was like a dream. Breathing deeply, she looked over and grabbed the cat mask that she had made. It took a lot of time but it was perfect. It was purple with lavender jewels that stretched out from the left cheek, thinning out as it made its way over the left eye hole and curled itself downward just over the left eyebrow almost resembling a wave.As for the right side of the mask, it was the same, though coming down from the right side of the forehead, making its way downward over the right eye hole and curling itself over the right cheek. The nose was a light lavender to make it pop out so to speak, as were the inside of the triangle cat ears.Turning it over, she had a simple purple ribbon to tie it behind her head just so she could tie it and, to make sure it was fastened properly on her head to not reveal who she is. Smiling, she slipped the mask on, her hair of course she kept down though curled it a little at the ends to at least make her a little more presentable. Giggling softly, the young woman stepped out of the car as she looked up at the hall.Gulping a bit, Hinata was starting to have second thoughts about the whole thing… and about her outfit. Her dress was purple of course with a side split that made its way up her leg ending at her thigh. Lavender of course was added in beautiful swirls that in a way made patterns to resemble flowers around the bottom of the dress. Also, the dress was a little figure hugging around her hips though not overly so, and the dress was sleeveless and hugged her chest just right where it wouldn’t tear, or fall off of her.To complete her outfit, she wore purple heels that weren’t too high, or too low but the proper height so she wouldn’t fall over or to make her overly tall. Inhaling softly yet deeply, the young woman made her way into the hall hoping that she wouldn’t make herself to look like a fool that was something that she didn’t want to have to deal with, at least not at the moment. Even though no one would even know it was her, she still didn’t want to risk it in case someone other than her friends knew that it was her.Taking a look around, she saw a variety of masks, all of them brightly coloured or some of them dark. Some just covered part of the face around the eyes while some covered just about the whole face. There were even some like hers that only covered part of the face. It had her curious as to where Sasuke and Sakura were… were they here yet? Or were they waiting for Sasuke’s friend? She had no idea though she hoped, prayed that they would be here soon…It made her nervous to know that they hadn’t arrived yet since after all, they were the only people that she knew that were coming to the dance. Panic swept through her for a brief moment so she decided to make her way over to the wall near the buffet, knowing Sakura she would want a nice drink when they arrive so what better way to meet with them than to wait by the buffet… oh wait, that would make her a wall flower wouldn’t it?“Oh well…” she whispered, her voice lost to the sound of the music anyway. It wasn’t like anyone could hear her in the first place. Taking a gaze around, the young woman wondered where they could be… what was taking them so long anyway? “I hope they’re okay…” whispered Hinata, her eyes filled with worry and concern for her friends. It was as if there was always something that would make things a little complicated for her though she just couldn’t be sure what it was that would cause all of this for her to only make her life all that more complicated.Looking down at the floor, shoulders slumped as she tried to keep herself occupied, really she would want to do just about anything to keep herself from being bored though no matter what she just couldn’t think on what she should do or think for that matter. After all, her mind kept on going back to her friends and her concern came right back slamming itself into her chest. ’I have to stop thinking like this, they are just fine, I know they are!’ thought the blue haired woman as she tried to get herself under control. There was nothing that should have her thinking like this.Shaking her head gently, the young woman closed her eyes for a brief moment as she thought back of happy memories… though that boy came rushing back into her mind once more… Why was he in his mind lately? It was as if her mind could only think back to that boy when he had helped her home… why though? She hadn’t thought of him all that much in years, at least not since she went in high school when she had accepted that she would never see him again… so why now of all times?’I must be losing my mind or… I miss him now… really miss him…’ the young woman thought before frowning a little. It seemed that her mind wanted to be cruel to her as well now, oh how fate was cruel to her to have her own mind to be doing this to her. Rolling her head to her shoulder, Hinata wondered if he would leave her mind by tomorrow, that would be nice… just thinking about him didn’t even make any kind of sense for the young woman in the least…“What are you doing all the way over here?” asked a new voice. Causing Hinata to look up in confusion, at first thinking that it was Sasuke though it was a mystery man… He wore an orange dress shirt. It was simple but at the same time she felt that it suited him… He also wore a pair of black dress pants, again nothing fancy though it seemed that he was out of his element so to speak. He kept moving side to side, shifting his feet in his black dress shoes… The man’s stance otherwise said he was sure of himself… though when she looked up and saw his eyes, she could see that he was nervous about being here…Now that she had a better look, the mask he wore resembled a fox. It was orange with the inside of the ears being black, around the eyes were also black… Swirls of red around the cheeks which made her think of flames. Though she had also noticed that the mask even covered the top of his head and from what she could see, cover his hair entirely. She didn’t know what colour of hair he had…“Ms? Are you okay?” asked the man with a frown, the only part of his face that she could see to be honest, from his mouth and down, was all she could see of his face since even his nose was covered by the mask.“Yes, I’m okay, just waiting for my friends. I’m kind of worried about them though… I think something happened to them.” Hinata whispered softly.The man smiled as he said “well, my friends are outside trying to find a parking space so… maybe we can just spend some time together while we wait? It beats being alone right?” The man had a point, and it wasn’t like he could do anything right? After all, they were in a public place so there wouldn’t be any chances of anything happening right? Leaning against the wall for a moment, Hinata wondered who this guy was waiting for to find a parking space… it would be nice to know, maybe she knew them? Nah, it wasn’t her business anyway…“So, I’m Naruto, what’s your name?” asked Naruto.“I’m… I’m Hinata.” She whispered softly.“It’s nice to meet you Hinata.” Naruto said with a chuckle before holding his hand out to shake hers. The young woman was a little nervous shaking his hand though she smiled a little before giving him her hand only to blush when he kissed the back of it. Okay, either he was trying to be a gentleman or he was trying to impress her… Though, it was nice to see someone be a gentleman for sure though it was still new for her. “Sorry, my parents have always told me when I go to the dance that I should treat woman with the utmost respect.” He chuckled a little before adding “though, it wasn’t like I didn’t before anyway.”“Okay, that makes a bit of sense.” She said with a soft smile. Though it was still hard to say if he was really telling the truth… but, his eyes… they shined with nothing but the truth. Maybe it was true that the eyes are a gateway to the soul and this man, Naruto, his soul was as pure as the ocean that his eyes resembled… Hinata blushed a little more before looking away; she didn’t even know why she was being so shy… Hell, the more she looked at his eyes, the more she felt like… she’s met him before.The man just smiled at Hinata as he asked “you’re not used to a guy treating you properly huh?” That, of course had caused Hinata to look up in shock, how did he know that? Naruto took a deep breath as he said “you just had this air about you I guess you could say. I can easily sense that you weren’t treated properly…” He frowned a little before letting go of her hand, forgetting that he had still been holding onto it. “I’m sorry…”“It… it’s okay don’t worry about it.” Hinata whispered softly before leaning against the wall once again. She didn’t think that he would be able to notice that, was she that easy to read or was it about the whole ‘air around her’ thing that he said he could sense. Sure, she knew some people could sense that about some people, that was how it was… Or maybe she really was just that easy to read like she thought she was. Shaking her head, the young woman tried to get herself to calm down though she couldn’t be sure of it.Naruto shifted a bit where he stood, his hands dug in his pockets as if he was trying to think of something else to talk about. It seemed that he was just as nervous about being here as she was… “Ya know…” Hinata whispered softly, “I never really come to these things. I never bothered to come here because I always thought that it was… stupid. I know about the stories here but I never believed them.”Naruto turned to stare at her as he tilted his head at her. “Why is that Hinata?” asked the young man with a frown.Hinata turned her gaze upward at Naruto as she said “I always believe in seeing a person from the inside so to speak. I believe in being with a person by the beauty of their soul. To me, their appearance means nothing… To find something like that through the dance, it makes sense but at the same time… does it really work that way? How can you really be sure… if that person is your soul mate if they could very well be some kind of killer?” Shaking her head, she looked back at the floor as she said “I’m sorry, I’m not trying to judge you… I guess it’s just…”“It’s because you have been treated poorly and people only liked you for your looks am I right?” asked Naruto, it was as if he knew how she felt. Taking a look up at the fox masked man, Hinata couldn’t believe his words…  “I know how that feels Hinata… I’ve been through that myself. In high school, girls would throw themselves at me and I wouldn’t really care though… the girlfriends that I had, they only liked me for my looks and nothing more.” He sighed softly before leaning against the wall with a sad smile. “Looks, appearances, they are nothing but a curse sometimes.” He understood… he… he really understood?Soon, music started to play in the background. Hinata looked up and blinked in shock when the soft music played… Naruto chuckled softly before turning around and held out his hand to the blue haired woman as he asked “Hinata, may I have this dance?” She didn’t think that he would want to dance with her, though… maybe it was god for her to at least dance to one song. It would be fun… She smiled happily before giving Naruto her hand as he escorted her to the dance floor…Once in a whileYou are in my mindI think about the days that we hadAnd I dream that these would all come back to meIf only you knew every moment in timeNothing goes on in my heartJust like your memoriesHow I want here to be with youOnce moreNaruto gently held Hinata close to his chest, holding onto her left hand, his free hand on her waist. As for Hinata, her right hand rested on Naruto’s shoulder, she didn’t think it would be much of a dance since it was nothing more than a slow song though… she had to truthful; the song was beautiful for sure. Naruto held onto her gently, it was as if he was worried about hurting her, though… for some reason she doubted that. Looking up at the masked man, the two swayed to the music, no real movements really to be honest… it was as if they were mostly just trying to enjoy each other’s company than anything else.Hinata never knew that something like this could be real… she never thought that she would enjoy to dance with someone, though maybe because in the past her boyfriends would just be throwing her around as if she was some kind of rag doll… Naruto though, he was trying to be as gentle as he could.You are always gonna be the oneAnd you should knowHow I wish I could have never let you goCome into my life againOh, don't say noYou are always gonna be the one in my lifeSo true, I believe I can never findSomebody like youMy first loveStaring at his eyes, Hinata saw some kind of hidden emotion within the blue depths, she couldn’t really be sure what they were trying to say, though there was something there… something… it was searching her own eyes as if trying to get her to know something but, the young woman couldn’t really say for sure what it could be… Was there some kind of hidden meaning for Naruto to want to dance with her?Naruto gave her a gentle smile as he said “you are very light on your feet Hinata.” He chuckled gently having dipped her back, his face inches from hers as if he was going to kiss her… In fact, his eyes looked as if he really did want to kiss her but he pulled himself back from doing just that… Pulling her upright once more, Naruto turned with Hinata, just settling for holding her close to his chest. That seemed to be enough for him for now…Once in a whileYou are in my dreamsI can feel the warmth of your embraceAnd I pray that it will all come back to meIf only you knew every moment in timeNothing goes on in my heartJust like your memoriesAnd how I want here to be with youOnce moreYeah, yeah, yeah“Naruto… why did you come to this dance?” asked Hinata with a hint of curiosity. Naruto just stared at her for a moment; his eyes seemed sad… as if what she said had upset him though he closed his eyes for a brief moment and held her a little closer.“I moved back to this town to find someone… I didn’t know if she still lived in this town or not but a friend of mine said that she did and I wanted to look for her.” He chuckled a little before adding “I know this sounds silly, but when I was a kid, I helped this girl get back home though I didn’t have time to make sure she got inside okay since I had to head back home because my family was moving away from Konoha back to my mother’s home town to be with her family since they weren’t faring well.” He looked up for a moment, as if trying to think of something to add to the story before opening his eyes once again. “I had always thought of that girl… I guess you could say, she was my first love… I had only thought about her and no one else for that matter, even my past girlfriends had wanted to know why I didn’t pay attention to them when I told them I loved someone else, and that they only liked me for my looks.” He let out a soft sigh as he whispered “though I don’t think she remembers me…”You will always be inside my heartAnd you should knowHow I wish I could have never let you goCome into my life againPlease don't say noNow and forever you are still the oneIn my heartSo true, I believe I could never findSomebody like youMy first loveOh...oh...Taking a deep breath, Hinata laid her head on his chest as she said “I’m sorry Naruto… I hope that she remembers you. I bet she’s thinking of you right now.” Naruto shook his head, causing the young woman to look up at him in confusion and shock. Why would he think that she wasn’t thinking about him? After all, if he was as nice as a kid as he is now, then why wouldn’t she remember him in the first place? Was the girl even worth it? No, she was the one that held Naruto’s heart and she knew that, she could see the love he had in his eyes for that girl…“Let’s say, she hasn’t given any sign of remembering me as of yet, though I hope to see that by tonight.” He chuckled a little before they went back to saying with the music. It seemed that he wanted to distract himself with the music, and she wasn’t going to stop him from that, at least not at the moment. Whoever this girl was, Hinata hoped that she brought Naruto a lifetime of joy and happiness, for that was something that he deserved.You are always gonna be the oneAnd you should knowHow I wish I could have never let you goCome into my life againOh, don't say noYou will always gonna be the oneSo true, I believe I could never findNow and foreverHinata looked up at Naruto, she was about to move away from him until Naruto’s hold on her tightened a bit. “May I… have one last dance Hinata? Please? Just one more dance…” She didn’t know why he wanted one last dance, but the way he sounded, it almost sounded like he was… pleading with her. But why? Why would he want to dance with her just one more time? Shouldn’t he be looking for that girl that he had fallen for? It didn’t make sense to her though, she would happily accept…“Alright, one last dance Naruto.” She said with a smile before she looked over at the band as they started to set up for the next song that was by someone’s special request.The music was simple really, she didn’t think that it wouldn’t be much of a slow song like the last one though, Hinata couldn’t help but smile. This was one of her favourite songs and it was something that she could really enjoy dancing too. Giggling softly, she looked up at Naruto as she asked “you sure you wanna dance to this? It’s more of a girl’s song than anything.” Though, the look he gave her was serious, he wanted to dance with her, because… wait did he see how happy she was to have heard this song? Was that it?We were both young when I first saw you.I close my eyes and the flashback starts:I'm standing there on a balcony in summer air.Naruto gave Hinata soft and gentle smile as he walked along the dance floor with the blue haired woman. Twirled with her as he wanted to make sure that she had the time of her life. Though, Hinata had to admit, the way he danced with her was very gentle, wanting to make sure that she had as much fun as he did when they danced. He was really different than the other boys that she had seen in her life… He hadn’t made a comment about her figure; something that she had to admit made her happy though it was still curious… was he… no, it was still too soon for her to make any kind of judgement about him…That was just the way it was right? After all, she had only just met him and yet, it felt like they have met before, somewhere that she couldn’t remember… or at least that she couldn’t recall. Looking up at him, his gaze was nothing but gentle, with no motive other than to make her happy and to enjoy herself…See the lights, see the party, the ball gowns.See you make your way through the crowdAnd say, "Hello, "Little did I know...Carefully, Naruto lifted his hand from her waist and carefully lifted her hand from his shoulder. Was he trying to remove her from his presents? No, his gaze was still kind and gentle… He was trying to prepare them for something… wait, did he know this song as well. Her answer was a smile on his face that was bright as the sun, causing the young woman to blush softly under her mask. It was amazing that his smile could do something like that…That you were Romeo, you were throwing pebbles,And my daddy said, "Stay away from Juliet"And I was crying on the staircaseBegging you, "Please don't go"And I said...He chuckled a little; Hinata wondered what he would be laughing at now… “I hope you don’t mind a little more of a quick pace Hinata.” Naruto said with that big smile before he started to prepare himself for the next verse, just what would cause him to go a little quicker from the movements that were going? Was he just trying to have her have a little bit of fun on this dance even more than before?"Romeo, take me somewhere we can be alone.I'll be waiting; all that's left to do is run.You'll be the prince and I'll be the princess,It's a love story, baby, just say, 'Yes.'"Twirling Hinata around his body, Naruto quickly pulled her close to his chest and dipped the young woman close to the ground. Hinata blinked in shock at the movement that he did though the young woman smiled all the more as Naruto pulled her close to his chest, he held onto her hand once again and had his arm around her waist as he held out their hand as he took what could be resembled as hopping steps and twirled themselves around in circles, causing Hinata to laugh in joy.So I sneak out to the garden to see you.We keep quiet 'cause we're dead if they knewSo close your eyes... escape this town for a little while.Oh, oh.Grinning from ear to ear, Naruto wrapped his arm around her shoulders and had one of her legs before lifting her and walking around in a circle. Though the way he held her, he made sure that no one saw anything that she didn’t want to be seen. He was still trying to make sure that she had fun while they danced, that had to say something about the man right? That he was really an amazing man that only cared about those around him instead of himself.Hinata looked up at Naruto, her face bright and filled with joy that she never knew that could have been possible for her in the first place… he was an amazing man that was really something and she wouldn’t deny that.'Cause you were Romeo – I was a scarlet letter,And my daddy said, "Stay away from Juliet."But you were everything to me,I was begging you, "Please don't go."And I said...Placing her feet back on the ground, Naruto stepped away from Hinata, his arm stretched out as he held onto her hand before pulling her back in a twirling motion with her back pressing against his chest causing her to blush, the young woman could feel his heart pounding in his chest… Was he over working himself or was he very happy? She couldn’t really say, though… she felt happy herself that she could enjoy a dance like this… it was exciting…"Romeo, take me somewhere we can be alone.I'll be waiting; all that's left to do is run.You'll be the prince and I'll be the princess.It's a love story, baby, just say, 'Yes.'Twirling her around once more so Hinata could face him, Naruto held Hinata close to his chest as he danced with her once more. Though instead of just taking slow simple steps, they had a bit of a hop to them so to speak. Hinata laughed and followed his lead and before she knew it he dipped her once again getting a laugh from her, for she never expected herself to get any kind of fun from the dance but to be nothing more than a wall flower so to speak. It was amazing; she never knew that she could be this happy in her entire life!Romeo, save me, they try to tell me how to feel.This love is difficult but it's real.Don't be afraid, we'll make it out of this mess.It's a love story, baby, just say, 'Yes.'"Oh, oh.Soon, Hinata found herself pulled back to his chest with his arm around her chest before he pulled at her arm once more causing her to spin on the dance floor a ways away from Naruto and once she found herself to stop spinning, he just stood there, staring at her. Hinata wondered why he would stare at her like that for a moment. His gaze, they were searching her for something, anything really… Why would he stare at her like that?Had she done something wrong or was it something else? Hinata wrapped her arms around herself thinking that he was just going to leave her alone at the dance… Her heart was beating wildly in her chest to the point that it may burst from her very chest…But then, he nodded before taking a few steps back then did a running start, a few flips that turned into him doing cartwheels, then back flips before he landed in front of Hinata, his arm around her shoulders as he dipped her once more, so close to it that she could almost feel the back of her head touching it…I got tired of waitingWondering if you were ever coming around.My faith in you was fadingWhen I met you on the outskirts of town.And I said...Then, the young man pulled her back up, Hinata’s back now pressing against his chest causing her heart to beat wildly within her own chest before she looked up at Naruto’s face as she tried to find any kind of emotion though nothing came to mind."Romeo, save me, I've been feeling so alone.I keep waiting for you but you never come.Is this in my head? I don't know what to think."He knelt to the ground and pulled out a ring and said...Breathing gently, Hinata felt Naruto wrap his one arm around her stomach as they took just simple steps, it was weird to be dancing like this though she wasn’t going to complain about this, and soon she felt Naruto reach for her hand and held it gently within his own. His hand, it was amazing, she could feel the strength in his hand and yet, he was so very gentle, why hadn’t she known that until now? Was he just that careful with his own strength or was it something more? Well, it was hard to tell for sure, he was only trying to make sure that he never hurt her… the gesture that he was doing made it seem like he was trying to protect her from all the danger in the world… it was amazing…"Marry me, Juliet, you'll never have to be alone.I love you, and that's all I really know.I talked to your dad – go pick out a white dressIt's a love story, baby, just say, 'Yes.'"Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh.Soon, they were both skipping down the dance floor, Naruto holding Hinata carefully as they both smiled and danced. Moving back and forth to be honest as they skipped around on the dance floor, people had stopped and watched the two happy dancers and believed that they were perfect for each other. It was amazing that anyone could be having this much fun at the dance, for all the dances that had been held, they never saw two souls more perfect for each other and that was just so amazing, it was like a fairy tale coming to life…'Cause we were both young when I first saw you...Once the song was over, Naruto looked up at the clock as did Hinata and both saw that it was almost midnight already… Turning back to stare at the fox masked man; he calmly said “I want to go to the gardens… would you… like to join me Hinata?” It would be nice to get some fresh air and… she wanted to spend time with Naruto or at least to spend even more time with the man that… no, she couldn’t really be sure if that had happened… right?Making her way out to the garden, Hinata and Naruto sat down on the bench that would over look at the garden… it was nice, the gardens had some beautiful lights and it made her wonder just how long it had taken the gardeners to get this done… to make it look this beautiful… Though, one thing still bothered her a great deal… “Naruto, why… why did you spend so much time with me? I thought… you wanted to look for that girl that you fell in love with as a child…”Naruto chuckled a little before he turned to stare at her for a brief moment. “I did though Hinata… the girl I fell in love with, I had found her a while ago. Think back on what I had said Hinata… please…” he whispered the last part… Frowning a little, the young woman turned away as she tried to think back on what Naruto had said… he said that he found a little girl… so that had to mean she was lost right? Then he had brought her home but didn’t stay long enough to see her inside- wait…Lifting her head, the young woman turned her head and stared at Naruto with wide eyes… that was… almost like how she met that boy when she was a child. There was no way that it could be him, but… then he said he moved, so that had to explain why she never saw him again after she was brought home right? That just had to mean something!“The little girl had beautiful lavender coloured eyes and short blue hair… not many combinations like that.” Naruto said with a smile. “I wanted to see her again but I couldn’t because my family moved away…” He gave her a gentler smile as he said “she was adorable back then… and the way her eyes looked… it made me think that I could get along with her no problem…”“That… that little girl… it couldn’t have been…”“It was you Hinata… I met you as a kid and got to meet you again.”“But… how did you know I’d be here?”Naruto went silent for a moment before turning away and let out a soft sigh. “I didn’t know I would even find you this quickly. You see, Sasuke and Sakura told me you’d be here when I told them the reason for why I came to town… Sasuke told me that you had light lavender eyes and long blue hair, and that as a child you had it short for a while. So, they dropped me off here while they went to get a parking spot and I guess we kind of missed them when we were dancing.” He looked up at Hinata for a moment as he said “and… when I saw the sadness in your eyes, I knew that I had to cheer you up. I had to get you to smile… to make you happy.”Hearing that made Hinata blushed a little, and blushed a little more when Naruto had grabbed a hold of her hand. “Hinata, I wanted to make tonight special for you… I had heard from Sakura that you had gone through many terrible men in your life that they only cared about your appearance and nothing more. I wanted you to have fun tonight…” He smiled gently before holding her close to his chest. Hinata blushed a little as she tried to calm down her wildly beating heart before taking a deep breath and tried to get herself to calm down…It was rather strange that he would do all of that just to make her happy and that she was the girl that he wanted to meet again, because he had fallen in love with her. Peeking up at him, the young woman asked “but… why did you still love me even as an adult Naruto?” Her voice sounded a little meek, or maybe shy. It was rather odd of course though maybe it was because she was a shy person either way…“Love is a fickle thing Hinata. You can’t help with who you fell in love with… You can’t help with who captures your heart and I just wanted to see you again, to see if you still remembered me… Now, even if you didn’t love me Hinata, I would still want you to be happy nothing more. If you love me, then you do, if not, then I hope you find someone who loves you and treats you with respect, the kind that you deserve.”Hinata blushed darkly before the chime of the clock started to run out throughout the entire hall all the way to the garden. Naruto pushed himself up before pulling Hinata to her feet a little. He smiled as he said “well, it’s time to remove our masks…” His eyes, they shined so brightly, it made her think that was his soul that shined… His soul, it was so pure… the kind of soul that’s he never knew a man could possess… Oh how she wanted to keep looking at his eyes forever and ever…Naruto reached up and carefully grabbed his mask and lifted it from his face then rubbed his hand over his face before he fully removed it. Shaking his wild spiky blonde hair, Naruto opened his eyes as he stared at Hinata. His cheeks had three whisker marks on it, though she found them to look adorable on the man’s handsome face. Looking up, Hinata saw that his face was sturdy, strong with no fat in his face at all what so ever… In fact it almost seemed impossible for him to even have been a child since she saw no form of childish in his expression even though he was all about fun at the sight of his eyes.Hinata couldn’t help but say “your… you’re so handsome… why would you want to be with someone like me?” Sure, Hinata wasn’t about appearances but if someone is handsome, she didn’t feel like she could be worthy of them at all… that she wouldn’t be worthy of that man in the least or to even look at the man. It was something that always made her sad at the thought of it…“Hinata…” the young woman turned her gaze to look up at Naruto, his eyes once again serious as he went on… “I don’t care about your looks, to me; you’re beautiful on the inside. That is the only thing I ever saw when I looked at you, was your inner beauty…”Hinata still seemed nervous about removing her mask, she didn’t look like she would ever remove it so, Naruto asked the blue haired woman if he could remove it for her… and her reply? “Yes…” After setting down his own mask, the blonde haired man reached over and carefully untied the ribbon behind Hinata’s head and slowly removed the mask before staring at the woman as she slowly moved her head to gaze up at Naruto. “I know, I’m not much to look at Naruto…”All he could do was give her a soft smile before reaching out and gently grabbed her hand, pulling her to his chest. “Hinata… you’re beautiful… on the inside, and the outside… your beauty is all around and through you. I would be happy spending every day to make you happy and make sure that you smile for your smile, is brighter than the sun and perfect as the moon.”The only thing Hinata could do was stare at him with wide eyes at his words. Her eyes started to fill up with tears, for that was something that she had always wanted to hear from someone… Or at least someone that wasn’t her best friend or her family. The tears rolled down her cheeks causing Naruto to reach over and gently wipe away her tears with the pad of his thumb. “Hinata, I love you… what do you feel for me…?” asked Naruto.Sniffling, she said “I love you… because see me for more than my appearance…” She wanted to cry, but she didn’t want to make Naruto to feel bad. Lifting her head, the young woman saw Naruto leaning forward, head dipping low as Hinata closed her eyes, lifting her head up as she felt Naruto pressing his lips to hers…Now she finally understood the story about the dance… The masks were to hide yourself so people had to see you for who you are on the inside to see if you had a beautiful soul, or an ugly soul… Naruto had a beautiful soul as he claimed she had a beautiful soul as well. It seemed that the dance had helped her to find her true love after all, for this had only blossomed into a beautiful relationship for the two lovebirds…The End.

۞Sife۞ α›—Divine King of Atlantisα›ͺ

06/04/2021 03:12 PM 

Tournament of Proving

Tournament Rules::   Rule 1: A response to the beginning of the match must be within 24 hours. As for the match itself, it must be completed within 72 hours. Rule 2: Fighting to the Death is encouraged. As this tournament is for Council seating. If an opponent has died, they may be revived if they died an honorable death. Rule 3: Once victory is declared, final message will need to be shown to Sife for it to count.   Start Date: June 6th at 1am PDT   Tournament beginning matches: Selic v HowlDraco v KatarinaTobi v DanteLucy v 18Osiris v KumoHellgates v KeiKei

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06/04/2021 11:08 AM 

Thoughts- Drabble

There existed a place in between the living world and Hell, a place of eternal sunset. The land spread out almost infinitely, the landscape dotted with beautiful signs of nature. This was where the Hell Girl lived. Next to a lake and sakura tree stood the traditional style Japanese home, headquarters of the Hell Correspondence. Though beautiful, the land smelt of death and the lake of sulfur, so that whatever living person ends up here knows this is not the paradise they are seeking. This land is not for the living.The home was big enough to house what they needed, rooms for the others to stay in when they wanted their privacy, a room where Ai's "grandmother" would spin yarn, an outdated but still useful computer for when they were contacted, and whatever currently entertained Ai. Currently, her fascination was with marbles, and they littered the floor in the room with the computer.Whether or not it was her grandmother was unclear to her, she had her doubts. Similar thoughts were also echoed in her coworkers; Wanyuudo, Hone, and Ren being more skeptical than Ai. Ai did not remember her grandmother, perhaps she had died when she was just a babe, but they never saw her, she never left her room, the only sign she was there being the shadow cast upon the shoji screen. They had their suspicions that it was merely a way for The Spider to spy on her, but it did not matter to Ai, little mattered to her.Spread across the floor was none other than Ai, dressed in the school uniform she often wore so that she would not draw attention in the human world. Her kimono was more of a weapon than an outfit choice. Her long hair spread around her, and her red eyes watched as she nudged a marble, it gently knocking into a small group of others.Ai's life had been a short one, but she remembered it had been happy before she was seven, even if others looked upon her weird. All that had changed, and this was now the price for her revenge. They deserved what they had coming; they would willingly sacrifice an innocent girl for a good harvest. As she had understood it, the sacrifices never even worked, there was plenty of evidence supporting that. From the time she was seven up until her death at age thirteen, the harvest was still doing great up until the last harvest. The land had simply been overworked, and her death could not fix that. But The Spider had punished her, killing was not the way to take revenge, even in her case. He held the souls of her parents against her, should she not take this job the three of them would all be subject to Hell.Ai thought it was fit that she be sent there, she sent people herself, she made their deaths agonizing and painful. But her parents were innocent. They had chosen to die rather than finally kill Ai, and they had hidden her so well over the years. None of what happened was their fault, and she supposed the biggest sin she had committed was letting them die in the fire she had set.Thoughts like this entertained her often. Ai was not allowed to be very expressive with her emotions, particularly anger, as when this happened she was strong enough to defy The Spider. Many of her emotions were subdued, and many not happy, which she supposed fitting given her status as dead. She could not be privy to emotion with her job, she was merely to ferry people to Hell for other's revenge. All she could do was pity the person who had been brought so low as to request her services, and even then she did not give them much pity. She had seen it all in 400 years, and she now expected these things in the world. She had lived a simple life and at first, the things people would summon her for shocked her, for she could not imagine a person doing such a thing. But she expected it now.A ding came from the computer, and shifting her gaze, a name appeared on the screen, as well as the symbol the Hell Correspondence used, a simple flame in a circle. She no longer had time to think about past wrongdoings, or to toy with the marbles across the floor. Now she had something much more important to do.She had a job to get to.

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06/04/2021 08:37 AM 


Basic rules I ask people to read- I will not accept any writing that sexualizes Ai. The fandom and creators may do it, but it makes me sick to my stomach. Ai is thirteen, respect that- I can take time to get to people between juggling other accounts and a personal life, you can't expect me to reply instantly- I am very comfortable with crossovers, but this is not for the weak of heart. What happened to Ai was tragic, and what Ai does in the afterlife is even worse, if you get scared easily I suggest you turn away- It is not necesary to be enirely familiar with the story of Hell Girl. What needs to be known is up on my profile and everything else can be explained in story- I do not accept one-liners or semi-paragraph replies. It is simply not enough for me to work with. I am also not a fan of writers who use brackets to describe actions. ex: *they run towards the sound*- My writing is centered mroe around the events prior to the anime or the first two seasons of Hell Girl. The later seasons are very confusing even to fans and I simply do not enjoy them as much.- I would prefer discussion beforehand instead of random starters simply so I have an idea of where things are going, but I will accept them sometimes.-MORE TO BE ADDED AT A LATER DATE-

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06/04/2021 04:39 PM 

The Vess Curse - Musing

Liliana VessThe Vess Curse”Why serve the living, when you can rule the dead?” There was a curse on the Vess bloodline.It had killed her brother. Turned him to a lich.It had killed her father, trying to lay her brother to rest.Her mother was lost to it, to grief and madness.Her sisters. Her cousins. Her family.Destroyed by a curse.A blight on the bloodline.A blight named Liliana Vess. π•Ώπ–π–Š π•·π–†π–˜π–™ π•³π–”π–•π–Š template credit.

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06/04/2021 04:37 PM 

Lady Vess; Part One - Drabble

Liliana VessLady VessPart One”Why serve the living, when you can rule the dead?”Being woken by a scream in Vess Manor is nothing unusual.Being woken by screams on the plane of Innistrad is frankly the norm.Raising her head from the pillows, wearily rolling from her stomach and running a hand through the unkempt tresses, Liliana tried to stifle a yawn.As soon as the necromancers head left the pillow, her undead steward, Gustav, prepared her a cup of tea, made just right lest he end up wearing it, and was waiting by the door, as she untangled herself from the sheets.Taking the tea cup and saucer, she scowled slightly upon the realisation that the screaming was closer than she had originally thought.When it had woken her, like some sort of morbid cockerel, she had thought of some of the tormented spirits crossing the moors, or perhaps even an unfortunate young traveller going between the major towns having taken a wrong turn and gotten lost in the pass.However, now she was more awake, she could hear distinct words in the screaming. As if it were right on her doorstep. Or more accurately, at her gate.Taking another, more disapproving sip from her tea, Gustav parted the heavy curtains for her to peer down on the outside world. With the movement from the otherwise still manor drawing attention the tone of the screaming changed, from distraught to infuriated. The screamer, a very brave (or stupid) what looked to be farmer type let her feelings be known."And you! You're in on it too! You… you witch! You vampires whore!"Several things happened from this point simultaneously.Liliana handed the cup of tea off to Gustav, an amused smirk setting in across her face, redirecting him downstairs, to welcome their new guest.The shambling masses that milled about on the outside of the manor, the ones that weren't deemed worthy of 'Staff Positions' inside, with no purpose otherwise, snapped to attention and swarmed the woman to bring her inside the gates, ushering her in the front door, whether she liked it or not. The rest of the servants in the manor bustled into the bedroom, picking out the pieces from Liliana's expansive wardrobe that she had in mind.That was the beauty of staff that worked on your whims. Never even having to speak. Just having the thought enter your mind, and it is done.She had been more into her elaborate velvet and lace gowns lately, but she could work with her old look for this.The many hands of the servants worked quickly, dressing her, running a comb through her hair and setting her headdress in place. Lazily fluffing the mane of dark hair, hanging loose for the first time in a long while, and not the half pinned up look she had been wearing for years, she made for her throne room, where she knew the now still screaming woman had been taken.Slinking into the room in the barely laced, off the shoulder bustier and sarong style skirt held in place by its fabric belt looped around her waist, rather than the skirt itself at her hips, with no effort to be modest with the slit, Liliana dropped herself into her throne. Throwing her heeled knee high boots, with garters that led from… gods only knows what, to gods only know where over one arm of the high backed seat, crossing her ankles and sitting with her lower back against the other arm, she held out her hand for a moment, silently. The studded leather tasset that seemed to have a huge part in keeping the skirt slit under control from when this was her more… day to day look was missing, as was the 'matching' pauldron, and her usual, more decorative gorget.She smiled a small, venomous smile as the peasant fell silent when a glass of dark wine was delivered to her extended hand.The frumpy little farmer woman wanted a vampire's whore? From Liliana Vess? Oh the poor lamb.Be careful what you wish for.After letting the silence hang for a moment, taking a sip from the glass, making a show of the whole ordeal, the soft shambling of the bodies outside much louder than expected in the eerie silence, Liliana lowered the wine from her lips."You have my attention. You best make it quick. I have whoring to return to."The woman, bless her soul, took a step towards the throne, throwing down a scrap of fabric."The filthy vampires took my boy! Don't you dare try–"The faintest of lines creased the necromancers forehead. That wasn't right. At all. Motioning for it to be brought to her, Gustav obliged, dropping the black velvet scrap into her hand."How old is he?"The woman stopped, frowning slightly, before puffing angrily, taking another step towards the throne."WHAT DOES IT MATTER HOW OLD HE IS?! It's my son!"Handing the wine glass off to the steward, Liliana swung her legs back around and leant forward, speaking slowly, her words pointed, and very thinly veiled in their meaning."It matters. Now tell me. How old. Is your son?"The question was simple enough, but the venom it was hissed with was deadly.After a pause, the woman says softly"He will be eight next harvest."That was all Liliana needed to hear. Leaning back in her seat again she took a lazy sip, as if the problem was solved. To her at least, it was."Then it wasn't vampires. It's forbidden for them to take a child that young."A squeezing at her left shoulder. Light. Faint. But definitely there.The blasted Beefslab, still trying to make her do good, even in death. He would keep that up all day otherwise, wouldn't he?With a sigh, and a rolling of her eyes she got to her feet, and tucked the scrap of fabric into the top of her boot."What is the boy's name? Where was he taken from? I suppose I'll figure this out."Another squeeze. Firmer."and get him back to you safely…?"A light patting. Holding in her urge to groan, Liliana managed to get the required information, before instructing Gustav to take care of their guest not that way, and that theyshe would be back.While waiting for the necrotic stable hand to bring her steed around (surprising, a very much alive horse), she sighed into the vacant space over her left shoulder."If you keep this up, Beefslab, I'm going to have to exorcise you. I have a reputation to maintain. I can't have you forcing my hand otherwise just because there's a crying woman."It didn't take themher long at all to locate the offending field and its bordering thicket. Liliana may not have been a tracker, or a nature mage, but she was not fool. Even she could see the large paw prints from the edge of the tree line that shifted to very human looking footprints. Werewolves. Letting out an exasperated groan, the necromancer turned the steed towards the treeline, pushing it onwards."I swear to Urza, Beefslab, if I go in here and the Beast Mage is waiting for us, I'm going to bring you back to kill you again myself…"π•Ώπ–π–Š π•·π–†π–˜π–™ π•³π–”π–•π–Š template credit.

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