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11/17/2021 11:48 PM 

I let different boys touch me

I let different boys touch meBecause I wanted to knowEven for a secondWhat it felt like to be lovedEven if that love was cheapAnd it tasted like rumLike the punchline to a jokeI never got because it was meI let different boys have different parts of meParts that they didn't deserveBut I offered up willingly because I couldn't give anything elseBecause you broke meAnd I was looking for different fingersTo place different pieces and hopingThat the outcome would be a masterpieceThat maybe one of them would find a wayTo cover up the handprints you left all over meI let different boys touch me because I had to prove to myself that you wouldn't be the only oneThat the scars that mark my body wouldn't define my worth to be lovedI am still not entirely sure that you aren't the only oneWho could ever touch meI let different boys touch me because that is all I have been taughtTo be a jokeTo be silentTo be ready to give until you have nothing left- I am hoping one of them will show me- they keep leaving me and I am to scared to offer up anything more than my body to get them to stay  


11/17/2021 02:35 PM 

Prompt: Stargazing.

      Be lost in the beauty of the painting above. Huge and beyond reach, it houses mist-like ships, a glowing cheese that can make a hungry stomach growl, and sparkling diamonds far older than even the first of men to ever crawl on this earth. This wonderful canvas leaves the greenish-blue eyes of a meek-looking damsel enthralled. Who or what must she give warmest thank for making such grand darkness this beautiful?   Being within thick cold walls and cages for days on end, even months, with only a pale ray of light or a lit wick or torch as a silent guide or companion, at times, she forgets that not every sea of shadows bodes ill for her. The ones she had swum into merely had vile hunters on the prowl who pursued her and dragged her into their dreaded depths. Even in daylight, where she was jailed felt like an eternal night. The moments were grim and grimy with her serving to suffer. Who was giving her suffering was savoring her every little squirm and squeak. Her fragility and futility to fight off her cruel fate were explored with monstrous pride and passion.   But tonight is a moment of peace, comfort, and appreciation, not of unrest, horror, and animosity. This dark place is far better than the ones fashioned behind brick and steel with a distant flame as the loathsome moon. The sweet fortune of a good breeze drops by, caressing her lovely mildly-shuddering flesh with hints of scars and bruises quite tucked away in her tattered clothes that can be torn apart with enough strength pulling on them. Long red hair in a mess flails weakly from the same visitation. She also drinks in this brisk stream to cool her lungs that had ached plenty of times from tears shed and labored breaths of pain and terror.   Beauty in rags all alone on the edge of the woods is contented by her solitude beneath the starry skies. Form a faint smile on those pink lips. Perhaps, she can find a bit of food even if just berries before she bids this night farewell. Start a new day when her eyes reopen after a long rest. However, to her misfortune, to her blindness of the wonderful canvas above, there is a gazer from behind. More than one, even. Their gathered fondness is not offered to the great portrait of above, no. It is wickedly devoted towards the stargazing doll. The strong rope and thick strips of cloth in hand bode ill for her if they succeed with going about their devilish plan which the lone maiden is the required guest of honor. Will her eternal night of horrors resume or will she soon gain the vigilance and wit to lose the trail of her would-be hunters?   Be lost and enthralled by the beauty above, raggedy doll. Its lovely darkness is one that she would much prefer to gaze upon.   a n i r o l e p l a y / 5 4 3 9 0 6    


11/17/2021 02:09 PM 


Summary: Hal Jordan looked terrible.       Jordan looked terrible: a black eye, bruises on his chin and cheekbone, one really nasty one around his throat where one of the tentacle-vine things had caught him—or so Carol had been told. He’d bled through a bandage at his temple, turning the wrappings a bright, alarming blue. For a moment Carol was stuck at the threshold of the convalescent room, just taking in the damage. Then Jordan’s chest rose and fell in an easy, mostly-unlabored breath, only a slight hitch from the broken ribs, and Carol could move again. Jordan’s eyes opened as she walked in. “Carol,” he said. He began to struggle upright. “Stop,” Carol said. She put a hand to his chest, not holding him down, just reminding him that she could. His mouth twisted in that familiar grimace, but he lay back again. Carol rolled a stool up to the bedside and sat. “I thought we agreed, no heroics.” “I wasn’t being ‘heroic.’” The air quotes were audible. It was nice remembering that term; it made Jordan more entertaining to listen to. “I was completing the mission.” “Pretty sure the mission parameters didn’t include all of this.” Carol gestured to his face and his ribs. “Bena was down. I wasn’t going to leave him behind. He’s all right, I understand?” Bena had only started going out scouting in the past month, the smallest, youngest Skrull on the team. When Carol came in the airlock half an hour ago, he’d been there waiting for her, apologetic and in tears with the news about Jordan. “He’s fine,” Carol said. Nothing worse than a collapsed belly sac, he’d said, roughly the Skrull equivalent of getting his breath knocked out of him. “He said you guys trained together. I didn’t know that.” “He asked,” Jordan said, defensive, like she was accusing him of something. Jordan’s hands lay at his sides, on top of the bedclothes. Carol took the nearest one in hers. His knuckles were scraped raw and blue. She turned the hand gently over and traced her thumb along his palm, and she found herself breathing very carefully. “Carol?” Carol followed his lifeline. She’d had an Aunt Cherie who liked to read people’s futures in their palms—ridiculous ones mostly, all in fun. Then one year she didn’t come to Thanksgiving, and Carol’s mom refused to explain why. Carol had never seen her again. What a weird thing to remember now. “Carol,” Jordan said, softer now, as though she was the one who needed gentle handling. “I’m fine,” Carol said. She looked up and winced again at the condition of his face. “I’m fine. I’m basically unbreakable now, you know. And—and you’re not.” He looked at her steadily for a moment, gaze sharp even in the midst of all the bruising. “I wasn’t going to leave a man behind.” Not even for you, Carol heard, and she was glad of it, she was, that Jordan had managed to angle all that Green Lantern honor in a direction that was worthier of it. Only, sometimes maybe she could have done with a smidge less honor. “I’m not asking you to. I’m just—I’m saying, just be careful, okay?” He attempted a smile. It looked a little painful, but all the more real for that. “I shall do my best.” Fine. Good. Carol nodded and shoved to her feet. “You should probably rest, right?” She tried to pull her hand from his, but he held on. “Carol,” he said again. His smile was gone; he looked exhausted and tense with pain. She bent and brushed her lips carefully against his. She wasn’t sure which of them she was comforting, but Jordan kissed back just as carefully. He squeezed her hand, she squeezed gently back, and when she pulled away, his eyes were already falling shut. She watched his breath even out. Then she watched a couple minutes more, until he was truly asleep, just to be sure. 


11/17/2021 12:50 PM 

Her Pride ️‍🌈

OOC: This was an idea that came to mind during last year's pride, but as life got in the way I didn't make it to the finish line until now.       A matter of her pride Carol Davers shot down from the sky and landed on a sidewalk in the busy streets of New York city. She had been around the galaxy checking up on different planets making sure the lives there were not in any immediate danger. Of course, there were the casual wars, but nothing like the Infinity War about five years back. Now her plan was to grab a cup of coffee and some lunch before she went to the Avengers tower for a meeting. She took a deep breath to gather herself, as it wasn't quite the same after Tony, Steve and Natasha passed away. Still, the group met from time to time. If not to debate pressing matters, to simply catch up. She was going to the Stark's for dinner later on, then to her own flat. She could hardly wait to curl up in her own bed and get a good night's sleep. She took of her headpiece and shook her head, so that her long hair could bounce down her shoulders. She knew she should probably see a hairdresser soon, as the golden locks were starting to near the small of her back. As she hurried down the street to her favorite coffee shop, she was caught up in her own mind knowing Tony's daughter Morgan had by now turned ten. She should bring her something as a delayed birthday present. Rounding another corner, she collided with another woman, causing them both to lose balance. The bags the woman was carrying scattered on the ground along with the two of them. Carol quickly got to her feet and grabbed the bags before they got trampled by the passing crowd. She turned to looked at the other woman, a brunette in a white blouse and a black pencil skirt, her hair held back in a neat ponytail and she was wearing a pair of expensive sunglasses. The other woman sighed as she took them off, her hands getting a closer look at the blonde in front of her. Carol assumed her to be in her late-thirties at most, and the sun falling upon her she seemed like a shining out of earth creature. She was for sure one of the most stunning creatures she had ever seen she knew, making her words get lost. "I am sorry, Ma'am. I didn't see where I was going, I hope your things didn't get damaged or that you got injured," worry in Carol's voice now. She knew she could have hit her harder than intended to, even if this was an accident due to her powers. "I am fine, you need more to injure, me and that it's just clothes so no harm done, Miss?" the brunette said. Diana still couldn't stop steering at her, with the sun falling down on her golden locks, it almost seemed like her hair was on fire. "Miss Danvers, Carol Danvers," she said with a smile, holding up her hand towards the other woman. The brunette gently shook it saying, "Diana Prince." "So can I offer you a coffee or anything to make up for this incident?" Carol wondered politly. "There is really no need because it was equally my fault," the brunette objected with a small laugh. "Alright, I guess I will see you around then," said Carol as she started walking away. She felt something inside her shift doing so. She had wanted the other woman to say yes, because if nothing else she would have company over lunch. Diana looked after her, biting her lips, before she caught up with her saying, "A coffee may not be all that bad. You need to tell me where you have been though in that outfit, because you look like some kind of superhero." "For all you know I could be one," said the blonde with a heartfelt laughter. She knew she should come up with a lie of some sort, but for whatever reason nothing came to mind. "I suppose we all can be, you never know what a person is hiding," said Diana thoughtfully. The other woman nodded to this, making the brunette even more curious. She took a breath and asked, "So if you are a superhero, what is your power?" "Why don't you venture a guess," said the Carol with a teasing smile. She was amused that she puzzled the other woman. The brunette looked her up and down once more, she had visibly toned arms and if she was not mistaken her suit seemed similar to the one of her friend Clark meaning she could move fast. "I guess you would be super strong and possibly fast, other than that maybe endurance?" the brunette tried. She couldn't make out if she was the real deal or not. "Yes, but then again I used to work in the army back in the days and I still work out a lot so that might have something to do with it," Carol shrugged a little. She would hate to admit how much she enjoyed a good workout. "I bet you are a fireball in bed?" the brunette said with a soft laughter. It wasn't before the words escaped her, she realized what she had said and cursed a little on the inside. Why did she even say this to this total stranger or feel so drawn to her? It was very unlike her, but there was something about this woman. "You have no idea," said the blonde, a glint in her blue eyes now. She smiled at the other woman, before she opened the door at her regular coffee place and stepped inside. She went to the counter and made her order, then looked at the other woman, "What can I offer?" "Just a coffee, black with sugar," she said. She stood next to Carol. She nodded telling the barista before they sat down on the table. She took a deep breath asking, "So what do you do?" "I am an art consultant for the historic museum, I was on my way there now. I had looked into some details about an old piece they are considering taking in, but I am quite sure it is a fake and therefore not up to the standards. I also acquired a piece for where I usually work," the brunette said. Her tone showed some frustration as she said this. "That is interesting, I've been there a couple of times when I got time off. My work causes me to travel a lot," said the blonde. Even if what she said was vague, she wasn't lying. "I know the feeling; I have a side job that takes up a lot of time. I was just here to check out the two pieces. Too bad both weren't the real deal, I would have loved to give something to the museum here before I left as well. I planned to go back home after catching up with some old friends. I usually live in Paris," she commented. "Alone or…?" the blonde wondered curiously. "Alone, it is hard to commit when you can't find time to maintain a relationship. What about you?" she wondered. "Alone, but I have friends so it's not all bad. I assume you do the same," said Carol. She heard a ding on her phone finding somehow on the side of her suit. She looked at it seeing her meeting was pushed forward, she groaned as she texted back, she was a little delayed. "Work?" the brunette wondered as their coffee and Carol's food was brought to the table. "Yes, I should be on my way, but I told them I would be late," she said with a shrug. "I won't keep you if you need to go," said the brunette with a sigh. "Maybe we can meet up later, say nine my place if you don't have to leave this very second?" the blonde tried. Why she wanted to see her again she didn't know. "I can do that; I am not in a hurry. Although I do wonder what your intentions are?" the brunette was teasing. "Maybe I want to show you how much of a fireball I am, or maybe I just want to talk. You will find out tonight?" Carol said as she got up from her seat. She winked at the other woman. "I see, well I do need and address?" the brunette pointed out. "Yes of course," the blonde said as she noted down something on a piece paper, leaning down to hand it over. For a moment she felt lost in Diana's eyes. What was it with this woman that made her seem like she had a glow around her, like she was out of this world? She wasn't like herself she knew; it was something else. She broke eye contact as she left her sitting watching after her with confused eyes. Had Carol been glowing Diana wondered, no that surely couldn't be. Still, it was something about her she couldn't put her finger on. She shook her head as there was no way she was a half Goddess of any kind like herself. She put the note in her pocket and slowly left the coffee shop to head back to the hotel where she was staying. As she did, she felt a small excitement over their meeting later that night. Carol was chilling in a chair at the Stark porch, she was watching Morgan play with a new baseball bat she gave her. Tony's daughter was quite good at the game and right now she was playing with Happy, he stopped by a lot. She saw so much of both Tony and Pepper in the young girl. For a s second, she wondered what it would be like to settle, get a family and all that. It was not the first time she thought about it and it would not be the last. Her mind went to James, they still talked from time to time, but she somehow knew they wouldn't end up together. Then of course she went along well with Maria, and her daughter, but she never really considered dating her. It would be too complicated she knew. In general dating with her job was complicated, as you would have to do a lot of explaining to your partner when you were not there. Keeping your identity hidden was not a good plan. So instead she had settled for a strain of flings and left it at that, better to not get too attached. "Is everything alright?" she heard Pepper's soft voice. The other blonde had seen her friend seemed a bit distant during dinner and now she was lost in thought. She gave her a mug of tea she just made and Carol gladly took it. "It's just I watch you and Morgan, you manage to raise her next to being a superhero. I know Happy helps out a lot, but…" she couldn't find her words. "You are wondering about the aspect of a relationship next to being a superhero?" Pepper sat down in a chair next to her. "Yes, because to me it is the part where you hide your dual identity that sucks. I just feel that if I was with someone that didn't know, hiding a part of yourself…" she stopped to think. Then she added, "When you are trying to have a relationship it isn't right. You were so lucky to have Tony, Pep." "I know, but that wasn't always easy, he was the love of my life and I hated it, to lose him even if it was for the greater good. I still hate it, but I wouldn't have done anything different, and I know he wouldn't either. I think if you find someone you have to choose if you want them to see the real you or not, and I know it isn't easy. It wasn't with Tony either, still we did it," she said. She took a deep breath as she thought about him, knowing she would always miss him. He and Carol were the only ones she let call her Pep, she didn't know why, but there was something about the other blonde that at times reminded her of her late husband. Not in a bad way and so she indulged her quirks and listened whenever she needed to talk, knowing the other woman would do the same for her. She had helped her a great deal the years after Tony's passing along with Happy and their other friends. The other blonde was about to speak when Morgan came running towards them. She was beaming from ear to ear, happy as ever. She looked up at Carol saying, "Auntie, Carol, will you toss me some balls please? I want to work on my hitting, so maybe I can someday hit as hard as you. Get a real good home-run." "Of course, iron fist," she said and got up from the chair. "Please be careful and don't throw too hard," Pepper's voice sounded worried, fully aware of the other woman's strength. "It's okay mom, I need her to hit hard. The boys in school do," said Morgan dragging Carol down to the grass placing her in position. She shrugged at Pepper who still looked rather worried. Pepper watched as her friend threw a couple of balls that went faster than she could see, still her young girl hit every single one of them. She didn't seem to have any trouble with them at all. She saw Carol telling her something making the balls fly longer. A small smile on her lips as it felt like her husband was there overseeing it. Happy came to stand next to her saying, "She really cares about Morgan, doesn't she?" "That is my opinion and Morgan takes to her. I think it is a good thing, for her to have other female role models than myself," Pepper said with a sigh. "And what do you do if Carol wants to start her own family? She won't be around as much if she does," he commented. "Then I will support that, but I have a feeling she will still stop by," Pepper said calmly seeing how Carol and Morgan stopped with the ball and went down to the water, seemingly talking. It was good she had her to talk to, she knew Carol made sure she could be reached no matter how far away she was. She didn't even know how she did it, but she did, something Pepper appreciated greatly. "You haven't thought about it, asking her to be a part of this family?" he wondered. He looked at his friend with calm eyes. "I did consider it once, but then put it aside. I don't know if I feel for her that way and I'm pretty sure she does not either. Besides my heart lays still lays with Tony," she answered calmly. She wasn't ready for someone to join their family quite yet. She watched how the two were throwing little rocks over the water, making them jump on the surface laughing. She loved the sound of her daughter's laughter more than anything in this world. She then saw her daughter ask something of Carol making her look dead serious, then giver her pinkie, swearing on something before they came back up to the porch. "I am sorry, Pep, but I need to leave. I am expecting company and need to tidy a bit beforehand. I had a really great time and I hope we can do it again very soon," she said and smiled at her. "Yes of course, let me follow you to the door," she said with a nod. Carol bid Morgan and Happy goodbye before walking through the house to the main door. Once there she turned to ask Pepper, "Do you know if Nick ever finished the filing system he was working on. I was supposed to have all of us superheroes in there." "I can ask him, why do you wonder?" the other blonde wondered. "I met someone today; she is the one coming over. I felt this strength radiating from her, much like my own, but I know I should be the only one of my kind…I don't know maybe I'm just tired," she finished. She had been travelling a lot lately, it was not impossible it got to be too much. "Or there is someone else like you out there, maybe even stronger. Thor and Loki are gods, so she might be one also or have similar powers," she explained. "I don't know, maybe. In any case I should get going," she said as she hugged Pepper and bid her goodbye before heading back home. A number of thoughts running through her head. Diana Prince was laying on Carol Danvers bed, her chest going up and down rapidly, her arms above her head and her legs still spread. Too tired to think, to move, to do anything, she lay there, panting, turning her head to look at the other woman. She was sitting there, panting lightly, her knees beneath her perfect body as the early morning rays was spreading into the room. 'How could she not even seem to take a mild effect of this?' Diana wondered. She knew they had been going at it for almost eight hours straight. Was she that out of shape? No that couldn't be it she knew, it had to be something else that explained it. Could she be a goddess too or was it because she was younger than she seemed to be? By now she learned she had been right, Carol was a fireball in bed. The blonde could move into any position, she was a little quicker, but lean as herself. She had also taken her time to see to it that Diana's needs got filled before her own. Now she was sitting there, a smile on her lips, humming lightly to gather herself. Glowing, almost like and angel? "Are you…an angel?" Diana wondered. Surely such things did not exist, but then again, she was a half goddess so who really knew. "No, I am not an angel or a demon, I am just as regular as you," she said as she lay down on her side. She was well spent she knew, as a smile spread on her lips. "If you only knew how irregular I am," she whispered. She let out a groan as she turned to her side to face the other woman. "Maybe someday, my Goddess," she whispered. Her hand reaching out to gently stroke her cheek. Diana didn't bother asking why she called her that, it was nice. This right here was nice, just laying there well spent with this woman. Taking in every detail of her, even if it didn't last forever, even if it was just for an hour or two more. Even if she was never to see her again, she wanted to just lay here lost in a moment in time. It was odd she thought that she could have such a connection with someone she met only one day prior. It didn't make sense, but she had felt it when she kissed her, when she f***ed her and when she made love to her. There was a connection between them she could not explain. Something had shifted inside of her she knew as their movements had gone so perfectly together, as their bodies melted into a hot mess. While they were battling for dominance trying to find who was strongest, who had the most power and the most endurance. Only to find that both had different skills contributing to the possibly best experience she ever had in the bedroom. This woman, those hours it had been like she had taken a drug she couldn't get enough of and she didn't want it to end. Still, she knew it had to, they both knew it as they needed to regain some strength. Now they were just laying there, looking at each other like they were having a wordless conversation. She wanted to speak, but she didn't want to interrupt the peace. She let a hand go to rest along Carol's waist, her fingers lazily caressing, still feeling dazed and confused by this woman. Startling she heard her phone ring somewhere in the room, but she ignored it. It rang again then went silent. She heard Carol's phone as well seeing she ignored it as well. Was this what happiness felt like she wondered, looking at the other woman that yawned. A smile as she said, "So you are tired, after all?" "Mmm, I never said I was not," Carol whispered. She knew that she was as she pushed some of her blonde strands away from her face, smiling at the other woman. She felt drained now, but in a good way. It was almost like she felt after winning a battle, but better. Mainly because she didn't have to worry about casualties. Right now, her only worry was that she might not see this woman again. This powerful enigma that seemed to be taking her breath away. She didn't dare to ask her if she wanted to stick around, not knowing when she would be back if she left. She knew she didn't want to do that though, leave her behind to go back to the galaxy. She wanted to be here with her and to her that was strange. It didn't make sense. Was this…love? Or was it simply a mutual attraction. She was afraid to fall asleep she knew; afraid Diana was not there when she woke. She was feeling lost now, falling, falling into confusion. Confusion over not wanting to let her go, confusion over the connection she felt, the grasp this woman had on her. It didn't make sense as she never felt anything like this with anyone she'd been with. Again, she yawned, now struggling to keep her eyes open. As if she sensed her fear the brunette said, "You can sleep, I won't go anywhere." She snuggled closer to her curling up against her, before letting herself drift. Diana watched over her for quite some time, before she fell asleep as well. She was wondering where this woman had been all her years, and if she should commit to her. Was it a bad idea or a good one if both were seemingly busy? She didn't know, she just knew she was falling asleep to her soothing breaths feeling nothing but peace. It was a nice change. "Carol?" Diana wondered. She could hear a lot of statics at the other end of the phone. She had left early that morning, telling her she had to work. It was their fifth morning together, all spent in her apartment, kissing, sleeping, making love and at times eating. Both had ignored their phones up to that morning, and life outside the apartment. As Diana f***ed her against the wall in the shower that very morning she knew. She knew Carol had to leave for her work, wherever it was. She knew she would be gone for some time, she just felt it. Yet, she didn't ask, she didn't shed a tear, she just accepted it. They were adults, after all, and crying wouldn't change the fact that Carol Danvers had to leave for her job. No, she would not cry, it was a matter of pride with her. To try not to show too much emotion, yet their kisses in the kitchen before Carol left had been sloppy and almost desperate. The taste of her still lingering on her lips as her tongue slipped over them. She looked out the window as she again wondered where she was, hearing her voice beyond the statics, "Carol, do you hear me?" "I hear you, but barely, where are you?" she wondered. "Working, it's hell out here. Listen, this may take a while and I get if you need to go home, but…" she heard more statics instead of the rest of the sentence. "I can stay for a day or two longer, but then I need to go back home. Do you want me to leave my home address?" she tried. Statics and someone screaming, not Carol, she heard her curse. She heard some hard banging and then she was back, "Please leave the address, I will find you somehow. I promise." More statics, and a groan, this time it was Carol. Her heart went to a stop as she yelled, "Carol, are you alright?" No answer, more statics, before the connection was broken. Damn it! She tried to remember from their conversation, what was her job? It involved something with…bad guys she needed to capture. Was she in a deserted area where there was little to no cell connection? Had she gotten hurt? Was she dying? No, she shook her head. Not Carol, no way no one could take her down, she was too strong and too fast. She tried calling the number the other woman called from, but didn't get anywhere. Just that the phone was out of service. Cursing under her breath she flopped down on the coach, when the doorbell rang. Should she open or leave it be? This wasn't her flat, and she didn't know if whoever was outside was a friend or an enemy. Slowly she walked over to the door to look through the peephole, seeing a woman outside. She looked harmless and so she opened the door. The other woman, a blonde like Carol, but clearly older looked at her confused. "Is…is Carol home?" the question slowly slipped from her lips. "No, she is away on work, may I help you?" Diana wondered politely. "No, it's just Morgan, my daughter…she and Carol have a bond. If you get a hold of her, tell her to call her as soon as possible. She is having some kind of trouble and she won't talk to me. I thought maybe she could get it out of her," the other woman quickly explained. "I understand, and I will let her know next time I talk to her," Diana said thoughtfully. If she would talk to her that was, if she wasn't dead already. A shiver running down her spine. Why was she so drawn to her, after just a few days? This was crazy. "Don't worry, you will talk to her, she always comes back," Pepper said in a soft tone. "Thank you, Miss?" Diana wondered as she had not introduced herself. "Pepper Potts Stark," she held out her hand. Diana shook it saying, "It was a pleasure, Miss Stark, I am sure we will meet again soon." She got a nod in return as Pepper left as quietly as she came. Again Diana called Carol, this time she got the machine, and said, "Pepper stopped by, you need to call Morgan as soon as possible. Later you need to tell me about them. I…have to go." Carol listened to the message one more time. She had called Morgan not long after she got it about a week prior and made sure to stop by to talk to her as soon as she got back. It was three days prior, by then Diana was long gone. She expected nothing less, she had a life much like herself. Still, deep down she had hoped she would stay. She sighed as she landed in the busy streets of Paris, making her way to the Louvre. Diana had mentioned she worked there, so why not try to look for her there first. She should have called her she knew, she really had wanted to, but her phone got crushed during the battle and she hadn't been able to replace it before she was back. She hadn't received any new messages from Diana and she was afraid it would have been too long to make a call herself. Maybe Pepper had given her the wrong impression and she had tried, but the other woman did not pick up. Maybe Pepper had given her the wrong impression, and she got the wrong idea by being in contact with Morgan. Or maybe she got cold feet. She shook it off as she walked into the busy museum after buying a ticket. Looking around she asked one of the guards for Diana's whereabouts, he eyed her up and down, before refusing to tell her other than she was busy. When Carol refused to leave, he had no choice but to get her. Her eyes fell on one of the many paintings while waiting, when she heard her voice, "Carol?" "I told you I would find you." "You did, listen I don't have much time, it is a disaster in the back." "I can come back later, or meet you someplace else?" "I am not sure it would be a good idea. "I think it is and that you know it is, please indulge me." "Alright, café Remedy at 7." With that she was gone, Carol hadn't turned to look at her as she spoke, she didn't need to. She felt her presence and her mood, the other woman drew herself to her like a magnet, radiating waves her way. She was not upset with her, Carol knew, she was insecure about her feelings. Most likely only used to being with men before her. If she had been with anyone at all? She shook it off, knowing that she had to have been. As it was still about five hours until she had to be at the café she decided to look at the art. Some of it at least, the museum was far too big to me covered in the little time she had, even if she could cover more ground using her super-speed she decided she'd rather take her time. She paused looking at Venus de Milo, taken in the expression of the ancient figure, knowing it was made as an image of the Goddess Aphrodite. Carol never had any belief in such things as God and Goddesses, there were too many cruelties in the worlds and she had very little faith that a higher being was the cause or encouraged it. No, they most likely were myths. But if that was so, how could she explain Diana, she was as much as an equal to herself as anyone could ever be. Maybe she had been in contact with something like photon energy as well. She knew she had to ask her. Slowly she made her way out of the busy museum, walking through the museum shop on her way, buying a few things. She knew both Morgan and her friend Monica and her daughter liked art. She needed to visit them soon she knew, making her way to a crepe stand not far from the museum, buying one, only to sit down on one of the benches. This was nice, just relaxing for a change, not a worry in the world. Not then at least, she closed off her work phone and as she took her leather jacket off she wondered what it would be like to retire, if she could. Just live here, or anywhere with Diana, if that was what she wanted. Trade it all in to stay put. Maybe it was crazy to think that as she barely knew the woman, but it sure was nice to think about. Diana's heels clicked against the pavement as she neared the café, she yawned feeling beyond exhaustion. Deep down she wished she could go home instead of meeting Carol right now, but as it were she had no such luck. She wished she knew Carol would come here, then again Carol had made no notion to call her back so she was starting to fear it was a one time thing. She cursed under her breath seeing the other woman waiting outside the restaurant in the same outfit as she had earlier that day. Hadn't she brought more than one set of clothes? Was she there for a short visit only? Or did she plan to buy what she needed? One thing was certain, Carol was under-dressed for this place. She knew the other woman would most likely not care, but Diana was a regular customer there. She tried to figure out what to do, go anywhere public, as she didn't really have anything to offer at home. All those thoughts seemed to vanish when Carol smiled at her. How did she do that, floor her so with that smile? Carol walked over, seemingly nervous she asked, "Is it alright I hug you or?" Diana nodded, feeling how the arms of the other woman sneaked around her and held her tight, as she whispered, "I missed you so much, Ana." "Still, you didn't call?" she whispered, as her arms wrapped around Carol and she felt herself relax within her grasp. She would never admit how strongly she felt for this woman. "I planned to, but then my phone got crushed and I couldn't get a new before I got back. I considered calling you then, but I felt it had gone too long and I didn't know what to say. I decided to take a chance and just go here, find you…was I wrong in doing so?" Her heart was beating so hard in her chest as her ears rang. "No, you were not. I was hoping we could go somewhere and maybe talk. I need to know more about you, before we get into anything serious," Diana said with a soft smile. Her explanation seemed to be true enough. "You think my style isn't good enough to eat here?" Carol's heart sank now. "No, I mean maybe, but there are too many prying eyes and I want you to myself," she pressed a kiss to her cheek. She was glad to see a quiet nod as she got released. She took Carol's hand in her own leading the way. "My God, this is delicious!" Carol exclaimed, taking another bite of her burger. Never before had she tasked a burger with goat cheese and honey, but she was sure this had to be one of the best burgers she ever had. "I agree," Diana nodded, taking another bite. She chewed and swallowed before asking, "So how did you get here, by plane?" "Well, not exactly, but I did fly," she answered with a shrug. She used her super-speed to get there across the sky, but of course she couldn't say that, Diana might think she was insane. "You mean you are a human that can fly?" Diana wondered, to her knowledge her friend Clark was the only one that could, and he was not from earth to begin with. "That and a couple of other things." Carol didn't look up; she was focused on eating the burger not spilling on herself. "Wow," was the only word that escaped Diana's lips. So, she had to be some kind of superhero like herself. Although she never really considered herself as such. That had to be the reason why she felt so drawn to her. "I mean I am a pilot," Carol quickly corrected herself, adding, "Meaning I don't do commercial flights, I use a jet." "Perhaps you can do that as well, maybe that was even your occupation at a time, but not anymore. You are the real deal and you can fly," Diana countered. If it wasn't true, she wouldn't bother trying to cover it up. Carol shrugged like it was no big deal. Not knowing what to say she tried, "I…hoped you would have stayed." "And I hoped you would have called me back, so I do think that makes us even, Miss Danvers," Diana quirked a brow at her now. Carol didn't speak, she just looked down into her box. She could have called sooner she knew and she should have. Maybe coming here had been a mistake, what was she trying to accomplish. It was not like she could accomplish anything with Diana, being who she was. If she tried to step back and retired, she was sure that trouble would find her somehow. She looked up at her, measuring her, wondering how old Diana really was. She had a feeling she was older than her, but by how much would be pointless to guess. Much like herself the other woman might be much older than what she actually looked like. Again, she looked away, this was pointless, she should just leave. "What is wrong?" Diana's voice was filled with worry now. "I…am not good at this, small talk or dates. Or shall we say dates with women, I had some boyfriends over the years. You would be my first girlfriend and it sounds stupid in itself. Because neither of us are really girls anymore." She shook her head, making a face. "How about companion then, if that suits you better?" Diana tried to reason. "I suppose, but only if you reveal what you really are. I sense you are different." Carol's eyes were shining intensely as she spoke. "I am an amazon, daughter of a Queen and I am immortal," she stated. Gaze steady as she spoke. "Ahhh, I thought your kind was a myth, but it does make sense. I am not an amazon, but I do have superpowers due to an incident a few years back. I am not immortal, but I age slower than the human raise and you noticed my other skills in the bedroom. I wasn't lying when I said I was a pilot, I used to be. I sometimes do it still, but it is not needed. They call me Captain Marvel, but I prefer Carol, it was the name my parents gave me. It is the name I prefer," she said in a serious tone. "Then that is the name I shall use, they…the humans and the justice league I am in call me Wonder Woman, but I prefer Diana. I felt that Wonder Woman always felt so pretentious you know? In my eyes most women are that in one way or another. It feels…." She shook her head. For the first time in her life she felt like she couldn't explain herself how she felt. "That the word isn't enough to describe who or what you are?" Carol tried in sympathetic tone. "Yes," she whispered, feeling lost in Carol's blue eyes. She looked away, blushing. Their eyes went to a bunch of youngsters joking around at a bench not far from them. Boys and girls eating crepes and talking excitedly about the upcoming pride event some weeks later. 'Pride,' Diana thought, such a funny word wasn't it. In her years on earth she had come across it more than once, knowing it meant something different from person to person. For her it was her strength and what she did to help the human kind, being stronger and faster. She took pride in her work and being good at it was a given, and that she was a woman in general. She took pride in her heritage and right now she took pride in being on a date with Carol. Looking at the group of youngsters she got that they found pride in being open about their sexual orientations. She realized she never given her own much thought, she had long assumed what they called hetero or straight only being with men. It was only now, sitting her with Carol she wondered if she was attracted to Diana because she wasn't all that feminine or because she was a beautiful woman spite that, or if it was because she really liked her independent of her gender. She looked over at her seeing her finishing her burger, licking some grease of her finger and smiled at her, it made something stir inside her, but not in a bad way. She liked everything about this woman she concluded and she would have liked her equally if she was a man, to her it didn't matter. She liked the person she had been with up to now independent of their sex, why would Carol be any different. "You into that, Diana? Pride I mean?" Carol wondered, looking at her with wondering eyes. "I never thought much about it to be honest. I like the life and I do suppose I get why they celebrate it, and why it is worth celebrating it, but I never really participated. What about you?" Diana looked right back at her. "I did participate once or twice with some of my friends. I was thinking of going with Pepper and Morgan this year, but you are welcome to join," she said with a smile, hope in her voice. "I can do that. Do you want to go in your work attire or something else?" Diana asked. "Well, I know there most likely will be a few dressed like me, so I don't see why not. If we go together, that way I can see how you usually look and the other way around," she said suggested. She felt a vibrating in her pocket, her emergency caller was going off. 'Not now,' she sighed as she took a look. Rodney needed her for a crises somewhere. She put it back in her pocket, ignoring it for a change, looking back into Diana's brown eyes, feeling lost. She blushed as she whispered, "I will deal with it tomorrow, tonight I am all yours, dear." "I really don't think you should postpone if it was important. Someone may be in trouble," Worry in the pit of Diana's stomach now. She couldn't live with someone being in trouble, even if it meant Carol had to go. She felt torn by this. What was this grip this woman, had on her? Carol nodded and stood up, she leaned down to press a kiss against her lips saying, "I will be back, I promise." "Just be careful," she said in a soft tone as she watched her leave. With every fiber of her being she knew that it was a bad idea, yet she would do nothing to stop herself from falling, if it was what she was doing. As the weeks slowly went by, Diana found she hadn't been that happy in the longest time. She hadn't seen Carol all that often, but what little time they spent together, they were having a blast. They had been out clubbing in Paris once or twice, whereas Carol had taken her for a picnic in Central Park where they had played ball with Morgan under Pepper's watchful eyes. She was clearly pleasantly surprised by her speed and how well she went along with Carol. She had taken Carol to meet Bruce and Clark, watching how easily she beat the two men in arm wrestling and running. She was seemingly unbeatable. By now Diana was in love with Carol's smile, her laughter, her voice, to have her near. Now the only thing missing was to let her see her in her superhero costume, which would happen the next day. They both knew that they could have googled each other, but they figured they would keep it a mystery and celebrate the pride celebration in Paris, then in New York. She felt her heart beat fast in the crowded disco, seeing Carol over at the bar and a woman hitting on her. She talked for a second, but dismissed her, before coming over handing her a beer. She smiled as she took it and kissed her lips as a, 'thank you.' Diana didn't even tell her that she preferred wine, what the hell did that really matter. She was open to new things, after being around for decades it didn't hurt to mix things up. Carol had asked about her age once, but when she answered she would never believe it if she told and Carol hadn't asked again. She found it hard to believe Carol was nearing her sixties, then again she aged slower than a regular human. She watched as the other woman moved along with the music, bottle still in hand. She was happy, living her life to the beat of the music, making her seem years younger. She really was a fascinating creature, this Carol Danvers, never running out of energy. She was her match in every way, Diana knew. She moved with her, although a bit stiffer, this wasn't exactly her tone, but she managed somehow. Letting Carol's body move closer to hers, when their bottles were empty. This she knew was how life was meant to be lived. She felt herself blushed as Carol whispered into her ear, "You are the hottest woman anywhere." Carol mimed a thank you and pulled her in for a kiss. It got returned, but only for a minute, a glint in Carol's blue eyes now. She smiled as the hyped song got switched to a more salsa like tune. She moved easy, making Diana follow with ease for quite some time, before she dragged her love out of there. She kissed her with passion once again outside, feeling their bodies press against each other in the hot summer night. She felt Carol's arms around her waist, her half short hair resting along her shoulder. She had let it grow out just a little after cutting it last, as it was hard to find hairdressers in outer space. Diana let her arms rest along Carol's shoulders, her fingers caressing along her neck, feeling how she was no longer standing against the ground. Her breath hitched, but she was more occupied about kissing this woman, than being in the air, knowing by now they were avid flyers, but Carol was way faster. She felt them rise, knowing it was because the other woman was excited and happy. She was much like herself in love. She let the kiss break and leaned against her shoulder, a smile on her lips. "Are we too high?" Carol wondered, the world beneath them seemed to vanish by the second. "No, not by any needs," Diana answered truthfully. "Good, I just needed some air," she admitted. She usually used the suit when she took off, but there was no need for it. She smiled as she flew them to the top of the Eiffel Tower, before she landed, not letting go of her love. They sat down up there, looking out over the city from the tower lit up in the pride colors. Carol felt lucky then, to be loved by this woman, to be sitting up here and looking out over the world below. Resting, waiting for her to see her suit in the morning. To show her the other part of who she was, what she used when she was out there working. A job she took great pride in, much like she knew Diana did with hers. She leaned against her, smiling, closing her eyes, feeling how the wind blew through her hair, a faint breeze in the warm summer night. She felt happy with her and at ease with their woman by her side and she felt proud to be hers. She felt proud that Diana told her some days prior, 'it is you I wish to be with. Even if I outlive you, I want to be with only you for the rest of our time even if I have not known you for that long. I just feel like this is right, I know it is." "So, you want to marry me?" Carol had asked her. She new she didn't mind that if that was Diana's wish. She wanted to know what kind of future her love pictured them to have, should they live together, have children, or anything else. Should they work less or stay like now? "I have no need for that, to me that is more a formality, but if you need it I will.' Diana had told her she wasn't sure if that was what she needed right now, she just needed her in any way she could have her, this goddess of a woman. She felt so consumed by her when they made love, or maybe that wasn't the right word, as it was sometimes more animalistic, and filled with desire. Still, the way Diana looked at her, if only for a second made her weak to her knees and she knew that deep down she loved her. She knew that Diana felt the same, even if they had only been together for about a month and such words had not be spoken. Every stolen moment they had together when they didn't work on saving the world, or in her own case worlds, Diana made her feel like she was the only one that mattered. The rest of the world did simply fade away. She remembered what she preferred for breakfast, what drinks gave her energy, what shampoo and soap she used in the shower, what TV shows she watched. That she preferred a kiss on the cheek over a hug and that she hated to say goodbye, and so instead she said, 'Be safe out there,' 'I will miss you,' 'I hope you will be back soon.' Diana didn't always ask how she felt, Carol knew she knew even before the question was formed. She turned her head and looked at her love, a smile on her red lips, as the Captain whispered, "You are so beautiful, Diana." "Thank you, but so are you my love," she answered, a small brush spreading across tanned cheeks. Tanned form the hot summer sun. "Let us go home, I could use some rest before tomorrow," Carol said, suddenly feeling so very tired. She got a nod in return as the both stood on the ledge, diving into the air simultaneously. She laughed with joy as she raced her to Diana's apartment building. Nothing beat flying, and she felt lucky that Diana could do it also. Soon landing near the building she turned to look at the other woman. She smiled again, as she took her hand, giving it a squeeze. She realized then she didn't care where they lived as long as they were together. She smiled as Diana turned to looked at her with wondering eyes. "You…make me happy, Diana." The other woman admitted, as it was the simplest thing in the world, but to her it was not. To admit she felt safe with someone, to be able to relax seemed hard, as it meant she would let her guard down and trust her. She knew she did. "I feel the same way, fly girl," Diana said and pressed a kiss to her cheek. She didn't mind flying, but she knew Carol loved it more than anything, much like she preferred to stay safe on the ground, the other woman preferred to be soaring through the skies. Maybe not that odd, considering she was a hero on more than one planet and flying made her invincible, stronger somehow. The only difference was that unlike herself, Carol was not. Sure it took a lot to make her be severely hurt, but she had noticed some fast healing bruises on her body the time they had spent together. She knew that even if the suit she wore was probably hard to break through, hard hits and punches could still leave bruises. She wondered how hard a punch would be to fully knock her out, and what force would make her stop breathing fully. She shook it off for now, Carol's body much like her own was still young, and she was a skilled fighter, she knew how to take care of herself. Carol nodded, taking her hand to her lips and kissing it gently as they walked towards her apartment, when she felt something. Her senses peaked as she walked a bit faster, hearing footsteps behind her. She noticed her love was on guard as well as a thug came in front of her, saying, "Hand over your wallet." "I don't think so," she said calmly as noticed there were four of them. "I don't want any trouble, I just want the wallet. You two can go back to whatever you two were doing after you hand them over," he said, his eyes on her. "And I say, back off! I won't tell you twice." Her voice cold as ice. She could easily tell Carol calculating if she should fight them or make a flight for it, most likely she would do the first. The thug came closer, flipping open a blade saying, "Either you hand them over or we will cut open your woman." Carol frowned at this, and knew that if they were a normal couple that line would have made them do just that. Diana shook her head, hissing, "Bad move, very bad move." She turned to Carol whispering, "I got your back, sweetheart, if you have mine?" "Always," Carol said with a nod. So fight it was. She easily took out the men on her side with a couple of kicks, knocking them out by knocking their heads together. Diana took out the man with the knife, bending his hand on the back and forcing him to the ground. She looked at the other man, saying, "If I were you, I would run." He didn't need to be told twice and Diana leaned to whisper, "I told you it was a bad move." She let him go taking Carol's hand walking away from there. The man got up from the ground, knife in hand, going for Diana, but Carol was faster, deflecting him, knocking him out as well. She walked back to her love asking, "Are you alright?" "Yes, I sometimes wonder why people on this earth always are always after trouble. It never serves them well and they never learn," she shook her head. "Because as you say they never learn and therefore repeat the mistakes hoping for another outcome and that in itself is insanity," Carol said calmly. Diana nodded quietly, overlooking the other woman seeing her jacket had been cut in the battle. Worry in her voice now, "Did he hurt you?" "Just a scratch, don't worry about it," she shrugged. Diana shook her head, not speaking, she simply took her hand and led her back to the apartment. Once there she tended to Carol's wound that seemed to be superficial. She pressed a gentle kiss to her lips, dragging her to the bedroom so they could rest. 

❄️Ice Queen

11/17/2021 03:25 PM 


Coming Soon



11/16/2021 09:37 PM 

wendy info for role play

Sky Dragon's Roar (天龍の咆哮 Tenryū no Hōkō): A version of Dragon's Roar. When using this attack, Wendy breathes a hurricane-like blast at her target. It has been shown to be powerful enough to destroy one of Nirvana's Lacrima crystals, and then match Sherria's Sky God's Bellow after having her Second Origin   Sky Dragon's Roar + Cure: A variation of Sky Dragon's Roar with the additional power of Wendy's healing Magic. This spell is unique in its coincidental offensive and healing properties, such that Wendy was able to cure Erigor's memory block, which released the Magic bestowed upon him and rendered him unable to battle.[28] Heal (ヒール Hīru): A type of healing Magic which is powerful and believed to be long-lost where the user manipulates clean air, to perform various feats, such as draining poison from an infected victim.[29] and can even revive people that are in a near-death state.[30] Wendy used this spell to heal Erza of her poisoning, after she was bitten and poisoned by Cubellios, during her battle with Cobra.[31] Troia (トロイア Toroia): A type of healing Magic shaped in the form of a ball which Wendy used to heal Natsu's motion sickness.[32] The effects of the spell are temporary, and, if continuously used, the spell becomes useless.[33] Wendy is unable to cast the spell on herself or others if she herself is suffering from motion sickness.[34] Sky Dragon's Wing Attack (天龍の翼撃 Tenryū no Yokugeki): This Magic features Wendy expelling a whirlwind of air from her arms to attack her surroundings. This Magic is a mimic of Natsu's Fire Dragon's Wing Attack.[35] Sky Dragon's Claw (天竜の鉤爪 Tenryū no Kagizume): Wendy jumps and lifts her feet and unleashes large winds the moment the leg is swung down at the target.[36] Sky Dragon's Crushing Fang (天竜の砕牙 Tenryū no Saiga): Wendy charges and swipes the target with her fingers leaving a wake of wind behind as she does so.[37] Sky Dragon's Wave Wind (天竜の波颪 Tenryū no Namioroshi): Wendy swings her hand and subsequently generates a large and very powerful tornado.[38] Leading Sky Arrow (天空甲矢 Tenkū Haya): Wendy cloaks one of her legs in a whirlwind of a Sky Dragon's air, thrusting it at her target.[39] Momentary Wind (瞬間の風 Shunkan no Kaze): Wendy gathers wind at her feet to boost their speed.[40] Enchantment (付加術 Fukajutsu): A large portion of the spells in Wendy's possession are enchantments, which allow her to attach her Magic Power to someone[41] or something[42] (including herself) to boost their natural parameters. Being capable of such a feat makes Wendy, by default, in addition to being a Dragon Slayer, an "Enchanter" (付加術士エンチャンター Enchantā). However, not all enchantments she possesses are associated with Sky Dragon Slayer Magic.[43] It has been noted that Wendy's aptitude for enchantments is exceptionally great, with her being able to cast enchantments on a level comparable to a High Enchanter's.[44] Additionally, when her body was under Irene's control, Irene was able to cast enchantments with power comparable to her own, noting that Wendy's magical aptitude was much higher than she anticipated.[45] Sky Dragon Slayer Enchantments Vernier (瞬足バニーア Banīa): A spell that speeds up the movement of the target, including the caster themselves, for a short period of time.[46] Incantation of this Magic: "Fast wind that run the heaven... VERNIER..."[22] Ile Vernier (速度倍化イルバニーア Iru Banīa): By chanting "Ile Vernier", Wendy is able to cast the spell twice in succession, thereby doubling the speed-increasing capabilities of Vernier.[47]     Arms (剛腕アームズ Āmuzu): After reciting an enchantment, the Caster then targets a region of the body in which to increase damage output, such as the arms, for a short period of time. Incantation of this Magic: "Power of the stout arms that tears heaven... ARMS.."[48] Ile Arms (攻撃力倍化イルアームズ Iru Āmuzu): By chanting "Ile Arms", Wendy is able to cast the spell twice in succession, thereby doubling the offense-increasing capabilities of Arms.[47] Armor (アーマー Āmā): A spell that enhances the defense power of the target, including the Caster themself, for a short period of time. Ile Armor (防御力倍化イルアーマー Iru Āmā): By chanting "Ile Armor", Wendy is able to cast the spell twice in succession, thereby doubling the defense-increasing capabilities of Armor.[47] Body Anomaly Reversal Magic, Raise (状態異常回復魔法レーゼ Jōtai Ijō Kaifuku Mahō Rēze): By using this spell, Wendy can negate the effects of Magic used on herself or other people, as seen when she used it to cancel Kamika's binding spell.[49] Anomaly Resistance Enchant: Re-Raise (状態異常耐性付加エンチャントリレーゼ Jōtai Ijō Taisei Enchanto Rirēze): A supportive spell that will protect Wendy from any Magic of anomaly effect targeted towards her.[50] Basic Enchantments Deus Corona (神の王冠デウスコロナ Deusu Korona): By chanting "Elemental resistances rise!", Wendy is able to temporarily increase her defensive capabilities quite significantly.[51] However, against powerful enough attacks, the resistances added onto her can be broken through.[52] Deus Eques (神の騎士デウスエクエス Deusu Ekuesu): By chanting "Physical ability rise!", Wendy is able to temporarily increase her general physical capabilities.[51] Dragon Slayer Seal (滅竜印 Metsuryū In): By chanting her intentions, Wendy is able to enchant others with Dragon Slayer attribute from her Magic, as well as able to stack multiple Dragon Slayer Magics from other Dragon Slayers.[53][54] Residual Thought Enchantment (残留思念付加エンチャント Zanryuu Shinen Enchanto): This enchantment allows Wendy to enchant Irene's residual thoughts and memories while she was in her body onto herself as well as having her appearance change reminiscent of Irene.[55] Wendy also gained the ability to interact and see Irene's personality while using this enchantment due to having Irene's personality enchanted on her beforehand via Personality Enchantment by Irene herself.[56] Concept Enchantment (概念付加エンチャント Gainen Enchanto): This enchantment allows Wendy to focus on forging different types of attributes with other attributes, techniques, or people. Such as gathering Spiria in the area to create a Spirit Art that can be used to enchant a person who uses Magic or an ordinary weapon.[57] High Enchantments Separation Enchantment (分離付加術エンチャント Bunri Enchanto): This enchantment allows Wendy to separate Magic from a person or object. With the guidance of Irene's personality enchanted on her, Wendy is able to use this enchantment to temporarily remove Nebaru's Magic, in order to incapacitate him.[58] Deus Zero (神の無加デウスゼロ Deusu Zero): Wendy is capable of casting this high-level enchantment, which allows her to negate Magic and other enchantments from people, and used it to negate the casting of Irene Belserion's own Deus Zero.[59] In Irene's body, she also later proved herself to be able to, because of the vast difference in strength between her then-current form and original body, completely nullify Irene's personality from her body and put them back where they belonged.[60] Personality Enchantment (人格付加エンチャント Jinkaku Enchanto): This enchantment allows Wendy to augment a personality. Wendy uses this enchantment to temporarily transfer her own self into Irene's body, thus becoming its host.[61] Magic Enchantment: Wendy taught this enchantment to Erza to allow her to attach Natsu and Gray's Magic on her swords.[62] (Unnamed) Dragon Slayer's Secret Art (滅竜奥義 Metsuryū Ōgi): Through the aid of Porlyusica, Wendy was able to learn two secret arts that her foster Dragon mother, Grandeeney, failed to teach to her.[63] Shattering Light: Sky Drill (照破・天空穿 Shōha Tenkūsen): A special spell where Wendy forms a fast wind barrier with her arms spread out, and by moving them in a counter-clockwise direction, causes the barrier to contract inwards towards her opponent.[64] Milky Way (ミルキーウェイ Mirukī Wei): It is a Magic that can be used to materialize the soul of a deceased Dragon, which can then be conversed with.[65] Although, to be able to summon the Dragon's soul, the soul itself has to be inside the range of the spell. The caster is not able to materialise souls whose magic has vanished from this world.[66] As noted by Wendy, it takes a strong will for one's soul to persist after death, though the state of the soul can be affected and damaged by powerful magic.[67]   Dragon Force (ドラゴンフォース Doragon Fōsu): By consuming air with high concentration of Ethernano, Wendy has been shown to be able to enter Dragon Force. This ability is said to be the final and most powerful state a Dragon Slayer can attain, and it has been said that their power becomes comparable to that of a real Dragon's.[68] Wendy gains pink eyes together with longer hair, now pink instead of blue, that curves and points upwards. The Dragon Slayer also has white scales, similar to that of Grandeeney's, that spring out of her back, and smaller ones on her hands and feet.[69] After the one year time skip, while fighting the Avatar army, Wendy was shown to be able to enter Dragon Force at will.[70] Enhanced Speed: Through the use of Dragon Force, Wendy was shown to have improved her speed as she was able to evade Ezel's attack and appear right behind the Demon, allowing her to attack.[71] Enhanced Endurance: With the help of Dragon Force, Wendy was also shown to have greater physical stamina. The Dragon Slayer was still able to fight back, even though she already suffered a lot of major damage from Ezel.[71] Wendy is also able to take on multiple direct hits from Nebaru, a Fifth Generation Dragon Slayer who is also in a Dragon Force state while still able to stand and fight back afterwards.[72]   Unison Raid (合体魔法ユニゾンレイド Yunizon Reido): An ability which allows two Mages to unite their Magic into a single, combined and stronger attack. Wendy has shown herself to be able to combine her Magic with Lucy's, creating powerful attacks.[73] Sky Dragon's Roar & Sand Buster (天竜の咆哮 Tenryū no Hōkō & サンドバスタ─ Sando Basutā): Lucy and Wendy combine Wendy's Sky Dragon Slayer Magic and Scorpio's Sand Magic to increase the destructive power of both attacks.[73] Leading Sky Arrow & Trailing Sky Arrow (天空甲矢 Tenkū Haya & 天空乙矢 Tenkū Otoya): Wendy and Sherria cloak their legs in Sky Dragon Slayer Magic and Sky God Slayer Magic respectively and attack in combination.[74] Hand-to-Hand Combatant: Despite preferring to avoid combat, and especially close-range confrontations, Wendy can combine unarmed attacks with her Sky Dragon Slayer Magic in order to make up for her reduced size, making the blows she lands stronger and increasing their range with the wind currents characteristic to her Magic; a fighting style not unlike Sherria Blendy's, whom Wendy engaged in a melee confrontation near the end of their battle in the Grand Magic Games Tournament.[75] Wendy's unarmed attacks is effective enough to pushback Nebaru multiple times while he is in his Dragon Force state.[76] Enhanced Durability: Wendy possesses good physical resilience. During her time in Edolas, Wendy fights Faust's mechanical Dragon, where she took powerful hits and continued to fight.[77] She was shown being struck by a God Slayer Magic attack while taking little damage and was able to counter-attack immediately.[78] Wendy also engaged Sherria using melee combat, trading hit for hit while they used Sky Dragon Slayer Magic and Sky God Slayer Magic respectively[75] to bolster their blows. By the battle's conclusion, Wendy had only sustained moderate injuries.[79] Wendy is also durable enough to take on Nebaru's multiple attacks while he is in his Dragon Force state.[80] Enhanced Smell: Wendy, like all Dragon Slayers, has a very keen sense of smell. Her nose is capable of identifying people by their scent, as she demonstrated with Jellal and Porlyusica. She was also capable of pinpointing Drake's position, tens of meters away from her, on a cliff, through the smell of the gunpowder used by his rifle's bullets.[81] Enhanced Hearing: Wendy has shown extremely fine hearing, able to hear the voices of the Alvarez soldiers searching for a spy from way out at sea.[82] Enhanced Sight: Wendy's possesses great eyesight, having been capable of seeing Yukino from afar before her companions can notice where she is.[83] Enhanced Endurance: Wendy, despite her frail build, possesses great physical stamina. She has been shown, various times, using numerous Sky Dragon Slayer Magic spells in quick succession, showing little to no fatigue afterwards, best exemplified throughout her battle with Sherria during the Grand Magic Games. Wendy used powerful techniques, sustaining multiple injuries after each successive attack, while still mustering the strength to perform a Sky Dragon Slayer's Secret Art,[84] and, in the end, still having the strength to draw with said opponent, if only through hand-to-hand combat.[75] Enhanced Reflexes: Wendy's reflexes are shown to be rather sharp, allowing her to move Lucy out of Drake's firing trajectory in an instant, causing the sniper to miss a shot which could otherwise be lethal. The Sylph Labyrinth member himself went on to praise the duo's dodge.[85] Former Magic and Abilities Yokai Form: While under the effects of Yoko's Demons' Parade, Wendy is transformed into a Yokai called Bakeneko. While in this form, Wendy gains various feline features such as a pair of cat ears, whiskers, a tail, and a cat's paws and limbs.[86] Spirit Power (霊力 Reiryoku): While in this form, Wendy gains access to this spiritual power while also being enhanced several times by Yoko


11/16/2021 06:01 PM 

what if i'm someone you won't talk about?

There’s a memory at the back of Pietro’s head, stuck there like the dozens of chewing gum corpses under his chair in school. It’s summer, and he’s outside, in a park, or something. Next to him is a pretty girl with black hair. They are five or six years old, and they’re alone - at least that’s what he remembers. Maybe father was there, somewhere, but he’s not in the memory. There’s ice cream in his hand. His other hand is holding the little girl’s, grasping tightly at each other, so tightly that it feels like he could only ever be whole like this. The girl is his sister, and she’s holding ice cream, too. (Chocolate for him, Vanilla for her, always, always. Pietro remembers making fun of the way it contrasts with their hair colors - about the way they’re seemingly always perfectly balanced.) They’re running. He’s tugging her along, and she’s squealing, almost tripping over her feet, and Pietro turns around to laugh at her, but then he trips himself, loses balance and his ice cream lands on the ground. For a moment, he’s too stunned to do anything, but he can already feel the tears stinging in his eyes. His sister tugs at his hand, and he turns to look at her at the same moment a small tear spills over his lashes. Like this, in the sunlight of this warm summer day, her black hair glittering in the sun, she’s the prettiest she has ever been. Then, she smiles, and her eyes narrow with it, blue and warm like the sky behind her. Pietro sees the same eyes in the mirror on the rare occasion he looks into one, but they never manage to make him feel quite like this. “You can have mine.” Her voice is quiet, high and girlish in the way a kid’s voice tends to be. She’s a little taller than him, and a little older, too. The grip of her hand is warm and tight, and it is the only thing in the world that holds him steady. . Her voice sounds very different when they’re definitely six, because he’d never be able to forget that particular day. Another memory stuck in his head, though this one sometimes keeps him up at night. She screams. It jolts through Pietro’s body, feels like it physically hurts, and she screams and screams and screams and doesn’t stop. “Father! Don’t leave me here! Father!” Always the same. The only thing Pietro manages to do is stare at the ground with wide eyes, the rain pouring down on him, pushing his shoulders down, down, down. Father is standing right next to him, staring ahead stone faced in the way he always does. And his sister is screaming. Horribly, desperately so. (She’s always looked out for him, and now she’s screaming for help, and Pietro doesn’t even manage to move a single inch.) In the end, he thinks that if it was him she was screaming for, not even father would have been able to hold him back. But that is a horribly selfish thing to think, isn’t it? Normally, Pietro doesn’t really care about being selfish or reckless or doing whatever it is that he wants to do, but her face, her hair stuck to it from the rain, crying out for their father, will never leave his mind. Stuck like that glass shard in his foot when he ran across the kitchen after dropping a glass of water onto the floor. . Ten years. It’s been ten years since Pietro has last seen his sister, yet he knows immediately who it is when Mystique steps aside, when Wanda walks in. (For it is Wanda. Shaggy, shoulder length hair, dark circles under her eyes, something wild in her blue eyes. Wanda, Wanda, Wanda. That’s who she is. Still, his brain refuses to merge her with the little girl he remembers blowing onto his knee when he fell down.) “Wanda?” And once she sees him, recognition flashing over her face, her expression turns from something wild into something furious, and it’s almost as if he can feel the universe tremble around him. He’s never felt anything like this before. “Pietro?” Even then, even as she’s attacking him, even as this is their reunion after ten f***ing years, the only thing Pietro is able to feel is glad that she still knows who he is. Happy that he was apparently stuck inside of her as deeply as she had been in him. Even after ten years, they had both just needed a single glance to recognize the other. Glass shards. . Sometimes, Pietro dreams. Sleeping is kind of difficult for him - it’s hard to relax enough to be able to fall asleep when time moves as slowly as it does for him. Usually, it takes him hours of tossing and turning and running laps around the house to be able to drift off. And sometimes, he dreams. Sometimes, there’s a girl in those dreams, a girl with black hair and blue eyes, and she sits opposite of him. Sometimes, they talk. Sometimes, she just cries. “Do you love me?” And God, he always has. Is this what this feeling is? Can he even love someone he’s last met ten years ago, someone he once knew so very well, yet now doesn’t know at all? Wanda is his sister, of course, so he guesses there’s this kind of unconditional love that is just there, but then again, it’s not like he particularly loves his father. (Or the other way around, for that matter.) “I do,” Pietro says anyway, because anything else would make him feel horrible, and he hates feeling horrible. Another reason why he buries this so deeply - his sister, their father, that day in the rain. Dream-Wanda, who is sometimes still the little girl he remembers and sometimes shrouded in a vague darkness taking the shape of a teenage girl because he truly has no idea what she would look like nowadays, doesn’t look at him when she replies. “I don’t believe you.” Sometimes, he doesn’t even believe himself. Sometimes, he thinks this whole thing is bullsh*t, and that there is no such thing as unconditional love. Still, he can’t help but want to reach out for her.   Pietro walks into the bathroom just as Wanda is still cutting her hair, and she already looks a lot more normal and, well, not-insane than she did when she walked into the Brotherhood house. Part of him just wants to turn around and walk out, but there’s some sort of pull - There needs to be some way they can learn to get along again, right? Maybe even love each other again. But then he speaks and the mirror shatters and the look on Wanda’s face tells him very clearly that she doesn’t believe in unconditional love either, because there is not a single shred of love for him in her eyes. It hits him a lot harder than he thought it would. . Sometimes, Pietro dreams about kissing her. Sometimes, Dream-Wanda is blurry and his age and her hair is black and her eyes blue because those are the only things he knows for certain. Sometimes, she tells him, “I miss you, Pietro,” and her voice echoes from far away because he barely even remembers what it sounds like. He thinks about the vague touch of a hand, warm and tight and comforting. There’s always been something desperate about her. Sometimes, he reaches out into the darkness and feels soft skin, sometimes, he closes his eyes and presses his lips to hers, only to wake up feeling empty and blurry and so incredibly incomplete. It always takes him a few moments of staring up into the darkness until he has collected his thoughts, until he can rub his hands over his face and groan, because what the hell is he even doing? It’s pathetic. It’s not his style at all. So Pietro ignores it, ignores it, ignores it, and just lives his life. What good is it to long for someone he doesn’t even know the current appearance of? Someone who is gone, because she’s too dangerous (something he repeats in his head like a mantra whenever the guilt overcomes him), someone who feels so incredibly unreal? Ignoring Wanda’s existence is so much harder once she’s back in Pietro’s life, however. The dreams get more frequent, and now they have a face - now his sister is in them, sixteen and with short hair and a wild gaze that makes him freeze up where he’s standing. Now, he dreams about her biting him when he kisses her. He wakes up panting, his stomach turning in guilt, and in the end he never really knows if these dreams are nightmares or not. The only thing he does know is that he’s seriously f***ed up, and that Wanda hates him. . It’s the easiest thing in the world to just do whatever father asks of him. Lying to Mystique is no problem at all, because Pietro has always been lying, and it’s not like he cares for her particularly much. Not at all, if he’s being honest - and while he is afraid of her, he fears his father’s wrath a lot more. And then there’s Wanda. Wanda, who he would like to kiss, apparently, Wanda, who hates him, Wanda who he’s also very afraid of. In the end, he doesn’t really think about why he chose the side he did over the other too much, because he hates questioning himself, and he hates feeling unsure and guilty. His father has a tight grip on him, tighter than anything else, and while he loves Wanda and wants to connect to her again, their bond is so much more feeble than this control Magneto has over him. (Sometimes, he’s almost jealous of Wanda - she hates their father, and she hates him, and there’s nothing in this world that could ever control her. Right?) So the Sentinel plan takes full swing. Father never bothered to tell him all he was planning, he never does, but that’s fine - it’s fine. Pietro hates doing what he’s told, but sometimes that’s what he has to do. Some people are simply stronger than him. Wanda is one of them, apparently. And really, he knew that already, and really, he just pushed it aside and forced himself not to think about it. She shows up on the building he’s standing on, watching the whole spectacle from above, and he’s well aware she’s here to kill their father. A dull panic spreads in his body at that - of course, the bond between him and Magneto can’t really be described as a family bond, but it’s all he’s ever known, and living without it would be scary. Wanda’s magic is blue and cold. It zaps through his body as she grips him, as she lifts him off the ground, and for some reason, its blue color won’t leave his mind. Pietro thrashes in her grip, trying to get out, trying to run away because that’s all he ever does - His sister’s eyes are the same blue. Blue, blue, blue, angry and hot like the brightest flames. She’s furious and desperate and devastating and beautiful. Her earrings shine in the light of her magic, and her makeup makes her look a little older than she actually is. God, this is a really bad moment to realize he’s in love with his sister, isn’t it? Pietro cries out for his father, and the irony of the moment isn’t lost on him - it’s not raining today, however. A flash of hurt and blind anger rushes over Wanda’s face. Always a papa’s boy, rushes through his head, so quickly that it almost hurts, and he knows that he hasn’t been thinking it. What the f***? Doing anything he asks you to. It’s too late when Pietro realizes that it’s Wanda’s voice. It’s too late when he realizes that he loves her. It’s too late when he realizes he probably chose the wrong side. You’re beautiful, he thinks involuntarily, because it is the truth, but Pietro is a liar and he doesn’t say it out loud. The way Wanda drops him like a hot potato tells him she probably hears it, anyway. (Not the thing she wants to hear, probably. What does she want to hear? Is there any way to make this right?) But Pietro is a liar, so he saves Magneto and disappears. . In his dreams, Wanda glares at him until he feels like crying. In his dreams, she wraps her hands around his throat and squeezes. (In his dreams, he tells her he loves her, because he’s a stupid teenage boy and he’s never been in love before. Wanda is a liar, too, because she tells him that she loves him as well.)

[ 𝟘𝟘𝟜 ]

11/16/2021 01:33 PM 

Verse: Wanted Characters

Reposting in blog for people who like to stalk the new blog posts. Cyborg 009 | Re: Cyborg Characters wanted:0 0 2. USA. Jet Link.NSA Agent || Flight (Up to Mach 5).0 0 3. France. Francoise Arnoul.French Intelligence Agent || Enhanced hearing, telescopic vision, x-ray vision, technopathy.0 0 5. USA. Geronimo Jr.N/A || Enhanced strength, armored skin, empathy.0 0 6. China. Chang Changku.N/A || Fire breath (up to 3,000 degrees).0 0 7. England. Great Britain.Secret Intelligence Service Agent || Shapeshifting. These are characters missing from my verse, that I would like to see.. If you need more information about a character, you can google that sh*t. ..or message me. Help with edits/layouts/coding can be given if time permits.  


11/15/2021 08:38 PM 


i’d rather write about the freckles on your back than think about all of the ways in which you quite possibly don’t love me.i feel sick at the very thought of you picking me apart the way you did; fingers grabbing and stroking in a catastrophic symphony of skin and vulnerability.let’s read between each other’s lines; share my sentences and punctuate my paragraphs with your mouth; because i can breathe easier on the mornings where i wake up wrapped around you.because my moods change like the goddamn seasons and the spinning in my head doesn’t want to stop.                                         you tell me that i should probably get a therapist because no one that thinks about all the ways in which they could kill themselves has an ounce of mental stability.                                          i tell you that i have been to four.                                          names faded into a blur with hazy snippets of conversation remaining.20mg.           tell me that trust issues and scars aren’t endearing and i tell you that neither is counting up the potential number of pills needed to dissolve your body into the living room carpet.let me sink inside your skin and make a home in your flesh;i tell you about the nights where i lay awake in the bath turning the water red.                       tragic, isn’t tell me that this isn’t how my head should work and i tell you that i already know. everything you could possibly tell me i already know.i know that 400 calories a day isn’t normal, and my hands shouldn’t shake all the time.                                             i know.please let me stitch myself into you, even just for a while; until i no longer feel dizzy and my world stops spinning.i don’t need you to tell me that it will be okay, because honestly i don’t think it will be and, that in itself, is okay.                                                                ­                 let me stitch myself into you, because my own skin can’t take it anymore.let me call you back when my voice stops wobbling and my vision straightens out, but honestly, i’m terrified that it never will. what if this is it. headaches and tears and shaking and blood.                                             and the debilitating, gut-wrenching feeling of pure and euphoric emptiness.                                              tragic, isn’t it. 


11/15/2021 08:31 PM 

My Feathers Eye

My feathers     ((eye))                    still flies         the mist                   ‘. ‘.  ‘.              of crystal  sea blue        skies.                         A sailors day                    on horizons port       running rumslicked masts   on lingered breathswhere sugared            lips once kissed.                          Laughter rides                             on glories wAvE                        and flies  ـم                a ravens        wing.                 To rejoice      a heartached in     harbinger bones       peppered red               in seasoned                         algal bloom.                                           Ebony’s noose                                   a rising tide                                       when nesting grands                             flock distant lands             to bare my bluff             under warming starsperched still       in cliffside         aerie.Wheremy feathers     ((eye))                    still flies         the mist                   ‘. ‘.  ‘.              of crystal  sea blue        skies.


11/15/2021 08:18 PM 


Summary:Fisk gets put away again, and it feels like that should be the end of it, but it’s not. Of course it’s not. The FBI needs a win. Who better to take that out on than the lawyers who exposed their corruption.I am not Daredevil, Matt says so many times in so many spaces that he almost believes it.His ability to maintain a concept of self was difficult enough before this; this new judgment day, this thing that has fractured his concept of self beyond what he thought was possible.He feels like he’s been dropped into the ocean, all his limbs weighted with stones, unable to find which way is up and which way is down, which way is surface and which way is gone. Surface feels like a fairy-story told to children at night, like enchanted forests.Light as the breadcrumbs which lead the way up, which lead the way out.[An exploration of trauma and memory, of what it might look like if Matt's identity was revealed, if he were sent to prison for it. A study of grief, and the ways violence can linger in the body—form fissures in relationships with others and the self. Post-S3.]Notes:“There are things unbearable.”—Anne Carson, Decreation   I. The moment Wilson Fisk steps up to the podium, flanked by his team, more imposing than ever, heartbeats stutter and crescendo across the city, a frenetic, dissonant exposition—and Matt thinks he understands a little bit more now why crowds nearly rioted at the premiere of a ballet once, overwhelmed by its relentless unpredictability, by its apostasy.The pagans onstage made pagans of the audience.The memory of Fisk’s voice doesn’t even hold a candle to the reality of it. Makes his hands curl into fists, takes him right back. If his memory had been a candle, then the reality is a forest fire: violent, irredeemable.“…to frame me. Daredevil. The killer who’s now showing—his true colors. Who’s tried to murder people in newspaper offices—and churches. Attacking our sacred institutions. Believe—me. Daredevil is our true—public—enemy.”It feels like he’s caught in the crossfire of feedback from every television set in the borough, the fractional delay of sound just offset enough to make it seem as though Fisk’s voice carries beyond the restraints of sound and time, as though his power is truly limitless.The gasps that follow the speech, the uptick in heart rates, the sharp smell of sweat glands and fear arousal overwhelm Matt’s senses as he parses through the confused and conflicted responses across the streets: truth, truth, truth, it can’t be true, can it be true—A stuttering swan song of disbelief; it doesn’t matter, he thinks, it really doesn’t matter what he does, how much he does, who he tries to be—a few seeds of doubt, a handful of words, and the people he calls his own turn on him, just like that.A half-measure; a man who can’t finish the job. One bad day away from becoming the villain of his own story. One bad day away from becoming—No. Nausea battles with rage inside of him, both suppressing the feeling that he’s not enough, he’ll never be enough, and maybe Castle was right: the system is broken, his work as Matt Murdock is futile, almost as pointless as his work as Daredevil—not enough.He imagines for a moment what it would look like to team up with Castle, to end this—once and for all, for better or worse, ‘til death do us part; an unholy marriage of the Devil and the Punisher. How disappointing that his old teacher couldn't be here to witness the ruthlessness he’d despaired of ever finding in Matt.(Maybe there's hope for you yet—)Matt clenches his jaw against the wave of grief that follows, and pushes himself up to his feet. Foggy and Karen are waiting.—It takes him less time than he hopes it’ll take to arrive, barely exhilarated from the sensation of vaulting from rooftop to rooftop, the chasm of empty spaces below him, the promise of adrenaline that comes with every moment that he taunts death, and fear, and his own limitations.“So, I guess you needed my help, after all,” Foggy says smugly, with, to his credit, just a trace of the bitterness that usually accompanies his words. Since that day. Judgment day. When the secrets came pouring out from Matt’s wounds. So, Matt swallows his pride as Karen steps onto the rooftop after Foggy.“Yeah,” Matt says. “Yeah, I did, Foggy. You’re right.”He doesn’t add that Karen nearly died because Foggy involved her, because he gave her the idea to confront Fisk, because he did exactly what Matt told him not to do. He doesn’t say anything because he finally understands—there is no protecting each other, and good intentions only pave the way to hurt and hell, anyway. (Source: he’s the Devil.)Fisk’s voice is still echoing in his mind, as present as the hallucination of Fisk that’s been following him around since Matt woke up in the orphanage weeks ago.He wonders briefly if that’s one of those things he’s supposed to share with Foggy and Karen to keep them from leaving, another judgment day in which Matt’s reticence to burden his friends will only cause them to leave, anyway. Damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t.“…proud to announce the justice has prevailed, and Wilson Fisk is once again a free man—"The worst part, thinks Matt, was not the speech, itself, no; the worst part was hearing the heckling fade into rapt silence, hearing gasps greet the accusation against Daredevil, the rapid click of camera shutters stuttering into stillness: the quiet realization that the city believed him—after everything, after everything Fisk had done.Fisk, it was Fisk, it was all Fisk—Hands curl into fists at his side as he fights back the nausea that rises in his throat. Ten steps behind, always ten steps behind—“Do you have any idea how much life has sucked for Karen and me,” Foggy interrupts his thoughts, “while you were, just, off doing your own thing?”All Matt’s ever tried to do is the right thing, and all Matt’s ever seemed to do is get it wrong.“No, but—I’m sorry, Foggy,” he says, grimacing at the inadequacy of words to bridge this rift in their friendship, to fill this cavernous space of all the things he's never been able to say. "Maybe I was, was wrong to push you away."“Ok, it’s, insanely hard to fight with you if you keep agreeing with me,” says Foggy, and Matt doesn't need enhanced senses to catch that his heart is almost in the quip, almost—“Good,” says Matt, “because I don’t want to fight with you.” He releases the breath that's been caught in his chest, and the rest of his apology comes out in a rush of words. “Look, the way I’ve treated you—the way I’ve treated you both—you deserve better.”Foggy sucks in a breath through his teeth. “Yes,” Matt can hear Foggy’s voice change direction toward Karen, sense the motion of her head bobbing once up and down, “We did.”“You did,” Matt practically says over Foggy, as though trying to vocalize it at the same time, as though feeling the words in his own throat while Foggy’s larynx lowers and raises in his.“But so did you.”For a moment, the words don’t register with Matt, the corner of his mouth tilting up as though Foggy just made a joke that he didn't quite understand.“I, Fog, what’re you,” Matt says, the words faltering as they tumble out clumsily on top of each other.“Listen, Matt,” says Foggy, and his voice is doing that thing where it sounds somehow both resigned and determined. “I pushed you away, too, after everything that went down with—you know,” he stumbles, not wanting to say Elektra’s name. “But it wasn’t fair,” he says quickly, to stave off Matt’s inevitable apology. “It wasn’t fair to leave you alone like that after she showed up again. I just—Jesus, I still remember that night at Co—”“Foggy,” interrupts Matt. He can hear Karen’s heart rate speeding up in confusion, in concern, in interest. “We don’t, we don’t have to do this. Just, if you can let me try to do better, give me another chance—that’s all I need.”"No, Matt," says Foggy. "I'm just—I'm trying to say that I know your relationship with Elektra is complicated, has always been complicated, and God knows you probably never learned anything about healthy relationships since your childhood was so supremely f***ed up—"Matt releases a sharp breath of air in an unexpected huff of laughter.“Look,” Foggy continues doggedly. “What I’m trying to say is that—I’m sorry, too. You were alone, and I know that you thought I’d—we’d—be safer that way, thanks to your own personal, a**hole Mr. Miyagi but—whoa, Matt, are you ok? What’d I say?”He must look like he'd gotten punched in the gut at the mention of his old teacher. Matt certainly feels winded, and breathless, and incapable of explaining why. He licks his lips, as though forcing his tongue into motion will pave the way for the words to follow.“Stick's, uh, he's gone, Fog. She, Elektra—she killed him,” Matt says finally, quietly, as though saying it softly enough might keep it from being true; as though saying it out loud doesn't make him feel like he might fracture into innumerable, irreparable pieces.He's barely a person already, he thinks; there's no way he can survive another blow, another hit like that.“Jesus, Matt,” says Foggy, and the sharp taste of salt hits Matt's tongue. He drags his focus back into the present; it's from Karen, not Foggy. Wisps of her hair are getting caught in the night wind, trailing across her tear-dampened cheeks.Foggy is—Foggy is stoic, which is unlike him, his heartbeat ticking up anxiously.The regret Matt feels is instantaneous. He should have known better than to task his friends with the burden of grieving these complicated losses, these impossible figures who'd stolen Matt away from them before they'd ever had a chance.“It’s, uh, it is what it is,” Matt says. “I thought I could help her. I thought I could—I don’t know, but,” he shakes his head and laughs, a sound that is entirely joyless. “I couldn’t.”“Oh, Matt,” says Karen, and suddenly she’s taking a step toward him and Matt is doing that thing where he scrunches his face in an attempt not to let tears slip out from the corners of his eyes, and Foggy’s chest aches with the weight of Matt’s grief, his feet ache to take the rest of him to Matt’s side—but that stupid wall between them, it, just, it stops him in his tracks.“Ok, so,” says Karen, after a long moment of heavy silence. “So, where do we go from here?”“I don’t want to leave you,” Matt says slowly, carefully, “but I can’t ask you to be accomplices to what I have to do now.”The words linger in the air between them like a challenge. Karen shifts her head away from Matt, displeasure in every gesture of her body. Foggy looks between them, then settles on Karen; it’s not like his glares have ever worked on Matt before.“What’s that supposed to mean?” he asks, already pretty sure that he doesn’t want to know.“Um,” Karen hesitates briefly then plows quickly forward, as though that might soften the blow of the words. “Matt wants to kill Fisk.”“What the f***, Matt—you know, that building falling on you really did mess with your head," Foggy growls, his words punctuated with sharp gestures from his fingers.Matt seems unaffected by his anger, and his gesticulating.“We put him in prison, Fog, and look what happened,” Matt says, and Foggy hates that his best friend is somehow able to sound calm, and rational, and deeply unaffected while discussing his intention to become a murderer. Only Matt “no chill” Murdock could go from altar boy to Punisher in sixty seconds flat.“It won't be the same this time,” Foggy retorts. “This time, he’ll be thrown into some kind of supermax hole where he can’t compromise anybody. He’ll never see the light of day again!”“Foggy, I know you’re not that naïve—” Matt begins to say.“It’s called having faith in the system,” Foggy interrupts. “Something you used to have—”“No, Foggy—it’s called facing reality,” Matt snaps, but Foggy can hear the weary undercurrent in his tone, the disbelieving resignation. "The reality that the system wasn't built to contain men like Fisk. Men who are too rich, and too powerful—men who take the law, who take the system and twist it into something that protects them."“No, Matt,” Foggy argues. “This isn’t you. There’s another way to do this—we just, if you can just, I don’t know, take a step back from the murder ledge for one freaking second!”“Matt, just, hear him out, maybe,” Karen interjects, her voice placating but pinched, raw, pleading.“Fine,” Matt laughs, and the sound is short, and bitter. “Tell me how the law can possibly fix this, Foggy. I’m all ears. Sure. Tell me your plan.”"Ok, simple, step one," says Foggy slowly, deliberately. "We do this together. Step two, we devise a plan together. Step three, we, we execute said plan. Together."“Wow,” responds Matt, suppressing the feeling of powerlessness that is bubbling up inside of him of like poison, threatening to spill out in any form that he allows it. “That’s genius. You come up with that on your own?””Yeah, well, so I’m still working out the details,“ Foggy says, but his too casual tone only belies the uptick in his heart rate, which Matt knows is a sign that Foggy is also starting to lose his patience with the conversation.“Ok, ok, ok, what about this—we, we find ourselves another witness,” Karen suggests, recognizing all the signs of another fight about to erupt between Matt and Foggy. “Someone that will flip on Fisk, but, unlike Jasper Evans, we keep them alive this time. Someone who knows the details of Fisk’s operation. Someone with nothing to lose.”"No," says Matt, and swallows back the memory of what happened at the church. "Someone with everything to lose."“Nadeem,” breathes Karen. “He helped me get away.”“Yeah,” says Matt. “His family’s in danger, he probably went back to move them. I need to go. Now. Foggy—do you think Brett would be willing to help Nadeem’s family?”“Already on it,” Foggy mumbles, and Matt can hear his fingertips rapidly tapping the screen of his phone. Pulling the mask back over his head, Matt rolls his shoulders back and starts jogging across the rooftop, gaining momentum as he goes until he’s leaping over and across. — In some ways, it feels like Matt never stopped running.Fisk gets put away again, and it feels like that should be the end of it, but it’s not. Of course it’s not. The FBI needs a win. Who better to take that out on than the lawyers who exposed their corruption.Daredevil. Our true—public—enemy.They’ve gathered enough evidence that there’s not much Foggy can do other than insist on protective custody for Matt, on the grounds that he’s blind and has no business being placed in general population with the rest of the violent offenders.I am not Daredevil, Matt says so many times in so many spaces that he almost believes it.The days following his indictment are a blur of promises and threats; his nights are filled with a crushing emptiness where words used to be. II. It takes only one night in prison for Matt Murdock to realize that his luck has finally caught up with him; it takes thirty-two nights to fully understand what that means.Thirty-two nights of imprisoned men yelling and banging and taunting and singing, doing anything they can to alleviate their boredom, their anger; thirty-two days of the stench and noise of convicted inmates mixed in with others, like Matt, who are just awaiting trial; thirty-two nights of listening to choked sobs and threats, favors and retributions. Thirty-two days and nights with little sleep, and less food.Then it happens—the transfer from protective custody to general population.Matt’s almost relieved when he's told the news: it means freedom from the oppressive hum of surveillance cameras always watching, always, so that he must act the part of helpless blind attorney every moment of every day and every night, or risk losing his case before it can ever get to trial, risk getting Foggy sentenced alongside Matt for aiding and abetting.The guards can be unfeeling, ruthless even, but still—Matt doesn’t see it coming when they turn on him, when they take him not to his new cell but into an ambush. A closed room with no way out, door locked behind him and too many heartbeats to immediately count.It’s not that Matt had ever considered himself an especially lucky person to begin with, not that he'd ever relied on luck when he could rely on himself, instead; but he's always been able to recognize when good things come into his life that have absolutely nothing to do with him—that have everything to do with chance, or else divine providence, or fate.And if all the good luck allotted to him in life had been spent up on a singular event, Matt's ok with that. Because getting assigned to Foggy Nelson as a roommate at Columbia felt like a second chance at everything good that had ever slipped through his grasp—a chance at happiness that didn’t need to be gripped tightly in his fists or hidden beneath a mask.Foggy, who saw Matt—really saw him; not just for his disability or the cultivated personality presented to the world, but for who Matt was, who he strived to be. Foggy, who saw with his heart, like Matt; because for all that light perception is cooked up to be, sometimes, Matt thinks, sighted people seemed not to see at all.Matt starts numbering the heartbeats, placing the bodies in the space, tasting the cortisol and adrenaline hormones mingling with sweat in the air, his thoughts involuntarily drifting back to the last time he’d faced this many men, the cavernous space of the sky above as he and Elektra fought back to back on the rooftop where she would die in his arms.Different, he thinks, from the second time she would die: ripped from his arms below the earth as the sky collapsed down upon them—Elektra.It really shouldn’t have come as a surprise to Matt that he would all but free-fall into the kind of life Elektra could promise him, the life he'd been dispassionately shut out from as a child in the quiet basement of an orphanage. His child's body colored with bruises he'd thought could mean love; his child's heart filled all the way up with shame.(He’d been holding onto it for months, had pressed it secretly, carefully, into the pages of his bible: a paper bracelet made from the wrapper of an ice cream cone—)And if Elektra wasn’t quite compatible with Matt’s desperate need to be good, to be so good, well, at least she knew every buried part of him: knew intimately his darkness, his grief, his unbearable rage.Is she sick? Worse, Matty, she’s in love—“You’re Battlin’ Jack’s boy,” says a voice from above the men, atop a set of steps leading up to a door, and there’s something about the voice that strikes a chord in Matt’s mind, that stops him in his tracks, that catches his breath in his throat.Matt had observed the exit behind the man from the moment he’d stepped foot inside, one of three exits from the space. All closed, all locked, all useless. Guards posted outside every one, their pockets lined with blood money, their bodies full of threats. Plata o plomo. Silver or lead. Take our money, or take our violence.Matt always chooses violence.“What’s it to you?” he growls, fighting down the feeling that this is all more than it seems, more urgent, more dangerous than he can comprehend right now, with the evidence he has before him. Bigger picture, he thinks, he needs a bigger picture."You don't remember me?" the man asks, mildly. "I killed your father."You don’t remember me? You killed my father. Well, I hate to break it to you, son, but I killed a lot of guys’ dads. Then let me help you…he hit hard, like this—Matt's body turns to ice, turns to stone, turns to lead as everything comes together to form a memory: Elektra, knife in hand, taunting Roscoe Sweeney, encouraging Matt to tell him who he was; he could taste salt in the air as he hit the other man until his face didn’t even feel like a face anymore, so bruised and bloodied beneath Matt’s knuckles. Good, he'd thought. His father's face hadn't felt like a face anymore either when Matt had found him in the alleyway all those years ago—But Elektra had disappeared after Matt refused to kill him, leaving only the lingering scent of her perfume—sandalwood, ylang ylang, mandarin leaf—as proof that she'd been there at all. Shards of crystal like fractured stars in Matt's hearing on the kitchen floor. Matt, equally shattered, equally disposable, alone by the open door.He'd stood there numbly long after she left, until the wail of sirens reached his hearing.Then he'd hitchhiked and stumbled his way back to the dorm at Columbia, every intention of waiting for Foggy to leave the building before returning to their room—until realizing he'd lost his keys at some point in the night.(Or, just as likely, Elektra had swiped them before disappearing as retribution for not complying with her command to end it, her own desperate need for Matt to be the mirror to her fragmented pieces, to reflect back something whole, something still worthy of love.)So Matt had knocked, humiliated, blood still on his knuckles, on his clothes, mingled with the tears that had tracked their way down his cheeks, and tried to ignore Foggy’s sharp intake of breath when he saw Matt, tried to ignore the uptick in his pulse, frightened, as the law student succumbed to his tendency to babble in distressing situations.“Oh my god, Matt,” he had said, “you disappeared from the party last night, and I know you can take care of yourself, but I’m always afraid you’ve fallen into, like, an open manhole or, I don’t know—a sinkhole, because I guess that’s more likely to happen than quicksand, not that I really thought quicksand was an option when there’s wet concrete and—”Matt had opened his mouth to say Foggy’s name, to reassure him, to somehow make this seem less bad than it was; instead he'd heard himself gasp Elektra’s name, barely a whisper of a sound, felt tears beginning to slip out from the corners of his eyes again.He remembered then that the scent of Foggy’s fear had soured into irritation; he'd never liked Elektra, had never trusted her, had warned Matt so many times—and Matt had felt the shame rise up in his throat until he was vomiting into the trash can beside his desk. Foggy had knelt gently, quietly beside him as Matt wept wordlessly, his hands aching to feel just once what it would be like to touch someone and not hurt, not be hurt.And if Matt had internally railed at the unfairness of it all,—he’d thought surely by now he would be ok, surely by now he would have picked up the pieces of his life and fashioned them into something whole, no longer caught in the riptide of shattered childhood dreams and loss—he didn’t let his tongue betray him.Not the way it once had done when he’d awoken from impressionistic nightmares to overwhelming loneliness, calling out for his dad, pleading for anyone at all; he’d learned, then, when no one came, not to burden others with his neediness, with his sadness, with his shame.“Matthew?! Oh, you’re Battlin’ Jack’s boy, oh you amateur. Now I know your name, nothing to stop me from bloodying the street with your corpse, just like I did to your old man—”Sound of shoes scuffling on a concrete floor, and Matt drags himself back to the present, to the men who are beginning to circle closely around him."Sweeney," he spits, and he’s almost pleased for the opportunity to face him again, his body aching for a fight after a month of playing domesticated house cat for the cameras in protective custody, for the guards whose daily provocations were their bread and butter.“Murdock,” Sweeney responds coolly. “You put me away ten years ago, and I’ve been dreaming about getting you back ever since. Then I read about your trial in the paper and realized that I could get you back without ever leaving these walls. Only this, this is so much better than even I imagined.”“What do—what are you talking about,” Matt bites out through gritted teeth, cataloguing everything in the room that could be used as a weapon against him, every heartbeat, every obstacle between him and a way out.A few inmates have switchblades tucked into their waistbands, others have half-hazard attempts at weapons—shiv in a toothbrush, sock full of rocks—the rest armed only with their fists and their loathing for Daredevil, armed only with their bitter memories of humiliation and defeat.“You see, I knew about you, sure, followed along as the media praised the blind orphan with a law degree just trying to do good for his community. Except it turns out that you’ve been doing it with your fists instead of your law degree—I wonder how your partner feels about that—how your old man would’ve felt about that—”“Shut up—” Matt snarls, but his words are choked off by his traitorous emotions. His hands curl tightly into fists, his rage uncoiling inside of him until every muscle is quivering and aching to hurt, to be hurt. “Don’t you dare talk about them—”"Did you know that your partner has personally fought every appeal that I've made in the last ten years?" asks Sweeney, his heartbeat rushing in satisfaction when Matt doesn't respond. "You didn't know, did you? Guess we're all entitled to our little secrets—"The mobster breaks off the end of his sentence as his body is wracked with coughs, the sound grating upon Matt's ears. Calluses line the inflamed membranes of his nasal passages, and Matt's hit with the realization that Sweeney never recovered from the beating he'd given him that night, ten years ago.“You’re a survivor, Murdock, unlike your old man," Sweeney snarls, once he's recovered his breath. "Unfortunately for you, so am I—and I’ve not forgotten what you did. You left me with too many reminders.”Still, the thought that Sweeney must remember Battlin’ Jack Murdock every single time he takes a breath brings Matt a rush of grim satisfaction."Then you should understand that you don’t want to make an enemy of me,” he bites, with a note of the Devil in his voice.Sweeney laughs, drawing a few huffs of laughter from the men around Matt. He feels like he’s caught in the crossfire of feedback again, kneeling on a rooftop with Fisk's voice in his ears, in his bones. He shakes his head desperately in an attempt to bring his senses back into focus. Feeling of solid concrete beneath his feet, uptick in the ring of heartbeats around him, low hum of the ventilation system somewhere distantly above.“No,” Sweeney says coldly. “The mistake was making me an enemy, was making yourself an entire goddamn army of enemies and thinking you’d somehow never end up in here with them. Did you really think we’d never come back for you, pretty boy? For Daredevil?”Daredevil—our true—public—enemy—"Ha!" Sweeney scoffs. "You've been here thirty-two f***ing days, Murdock, and, from what I hear, you're already losing it: talkin' to yourself in your cell, not eating, not sleeping—well, we've been here for years, so you can imagine that we are more tired, more hungry—for release, for retribution that's owed to us."Matt’s only half-listening to Sweeney’s monologue, his senses mostly trained on the men surrounding him.Mind, body, connection.He forcibly releases the tension in his shoulders, allows himself to relax into the stance of a boxer as he grounds up through his feet. He tilts his head, focusing on the men who are distracted by Sweeney's speech. Adrenaline is coursing through him now, his body practically vibrating, aching for a fight.“You think I’m afraid of you or these men, Sweeney?” he laughs. “You think I’m not hungry for a release after thirty two days and nights of listening to all the sh*t that goes on in this place?” Matt's mouth curves up in a feral smile. “Try me.”Matt strikes the prisoner closest to him, the sole of his foot connecting with his throat; he goes down, and Matt uses the momentum from the kick to erupt into a flurry of motion as the rest of the prisoners scramble to take their shot at the man who put them away. Slipping back on his feet, he narrowly avoids a shiv as he redirects it into the man at his back; taking advantage of the shiv prisoner's imbalanced footing, Matt throws him face first into the ascending concrete steps.There's a sharp crack as the man's jaw dislocates on impact.Matt steps over him but barely makes it any closer to Sweeney before more attackers are grasping at his arms, dragging him backward by his prison uniform, by anything they can get a hold of. He throws a couple of men off before the weighted sock is swinging through the air toward his eardrum and he's forced to drop back down over the railing.He drops into a roll as he lands, swiping out a leg close to the ground to bring down the man closest to him, uses the momentum to spin back up to his feet. He strikes his heel down across the man's temple before he's grabbed again from behind, arms restrained. He kicks out furiously at one of the men in front of him, catches him in the groin, then lands a blow on one of the men holding him and pulls away——but there are too many men and they've closed too tightly in on him.One of the larger prisoners throws Matt against the wall, then down against the steps before he can regain his footing. He hits hard, his senses blurring in and out of focus as he swings out desperately. One man, two men, three go down, but more pile on top of Matt, their hands grabbing at his prison uniform, his arms pulled backward in a painfully high armlock as he tries and fails to fend off the seemingly endless stream of attackers: a chaotic blur of overstimulation for his already exhausted and dazed senses.Then suddenly the shiv is cutting through Matt’s prison uniform, leaving a jagged wound across his torso, and he cannot help the agonized gasp that is torn from his throat as the serrated edge of the makeshift blade catches every bit of sinew beneath his skin, as men grasp at the torn fabric, cool air against his skin followed by violent touch—Mind, body, connection. The mind controls the body—Matt forces himself to exhale, tracks separate heartbeats out of the cacophony, and thrusts his head back savagely into the face of one of the men restraining him. His leg kicks out, and another man goes down as he wildly wrestles his way back up to his feet. His breath is coming out in gasps now; he swipes at the blood around his mouth with one hand, then lowers it to test the depth of the wound on his torso, the other arm still dangling at his side, numb all the way up to where his shoulder is braced against the wall.He’ll survive the knife wound, he thinks, his body now trembling with exertion and the effort of fighting off the shock that threatens his hard-won control over his senses.His head tilts as he gauges the heartbeats of the men still on their feet; he can sense the hesitation in their movements, their disbelief that he is somehow still on his own feet, and he knows he won't get another chance. He explodes into motion as they rush at him again, vaulting into a rapid sequence of spinning kicks, sidestepping and allowing two of the men to take each other out.Then the world is turned sideways as the large prisoner gets a hold of Matt and slams him against the side of the staircase. Matt grabs a fistful of hair as he goes down, drags the giant down with him and staggers to his knees at the man's side before he can get back up; he hits him until he can hear bones fracturing beneath his fists.“Careful, Murdock,” Sweeney warns, and his voice draws Matt’s focus back to the feeling that he’s still missing something, something bigger, something more urgent, something more pressing; only he can’t pinpoint what’s wrong over the sound of blood rushing in his ears, the sound of his own gasps, his heartbeat pounding against his ribcage, the cacophonous ring of heartbeats still around him, above him, his senses dazed, overstimulated, overwhelmed.What was he missing? What was he missing?Tap, tap—tap, tap, tap—He thinks back to his old teacher and narrows his focus, tuning out the heavy breathing of the other prisoners, the gasping, strangled sounds from men still on the ground—tap, tap, tap—there it is. A tapping sound. Sounds so familiar. Only Matt can’t place it. Another rooftop, he thinks, another lifetime. Karen and Foggy were there, he was typing out a text—Phone. Camera. Low of hum of video in the corner of the ceiling, barely audible, barely distinct from the low hum of the ventilation system just beside it.He stills immediately with the realization, and prisoner with the weighted sock takes advantage; the blow itself incapacitates him, his hands raising to his ears in a desperate attempt to stave off the high pitched ringing that follows, but then he's thrown wound-first against the concrete steps again.The pain that follows blurs his senses entirely out of focus for a moment that feels eternal. He gasps as the world swims around him, sounds coming in and out of muffled focus as he is dragged up onto his knees, his arms held behind him, a blade pressed against his throat.Sweeney holds the phone loosely in his hand as he finally begins to descend from where he'd been waiting atop the staircase, his gait slow, deliberate, restrained.“You showed your hand, Murdock, just like your old man,” he says, and laughs. “Except I let Jack off too easy for what he did, I think. Should’ve waited ‘til he was home, made you watch—sorry, listen, as the bullet went through his skull, let you try to staunch the blood—”“F*** you,” Matt half-slurs, half-gasps, fighting down the too-visceral memories of himself as a child with hands so small, too small—I think that’s my dad, I think that’s my dad—to be feeling for the familiar landscape of his father’s face and finding a bullet hole instead.Matt chokes back his emotion, swallows around the sob in his throat, and snarls, “You think getting sent to prison was the worst thing that could’ve happened to you, Sweeney? After everything you’ve done—I should’ve, I should’ve—”“What, killed him?” says a new voice, and Matt feels like all the breath has been stolen from him in an instant, feels cold settle inside of him in its place. “Like you tried to kill me?”“No,” he breathes, his stomach churning. No no no no no no no—This isn’t real, he thinks, it can’t be; he’s hallucinating again, lost to himself. Poor timing, but that’s par for the course. It’s not enough for Matt to fight enemies made of flesh and blood, no; he must create phantoms to haunt his steps, resurrect ghosts long dead. Self-flagellation for the modern penitent.Better lost to himself than this: ten steps behind with a mouth full of blood and defeat.The world around him still swimming in and out of muffled focus, his tightly wound control over his senses unraveling under the weight of it all: metallic taste of blood, acrid sweat mingling with expensive cologne, adrenaline and arousal, too many heartbeats, too many sounds, too much, it was all too much—“What’re you—what does, no—” he tries to say, but his voice falters, catches in his throat as he fights to get the words out past his lips, their bitter taste lingering on his tongue. Played like a fool. Always the fool. His teacher had been right about Matt; but his teacher is gone now, for all the good being right ever did him.Did Fisk do this to you? Fisk, it was Fisk, it was all Fisk—The low electronic hum of the cell phone becomes a steady droning in Matt’s ears as he fights to regain control over his senses. Stick may be gone, but his lessons remain.Mind, body, connection. The mind controls the body, the body controls our enemies, our enemies control jack sh*t by the time we’re done with—Matt struggles to slow the breaths that hover high up in his chest, fluttering violently like a bird trapped in a cage.Pull it together, he reproaches himself, but Fisk’s overwhelming presence obliterates his focus, gets deep inside of him where he can't stop it, where he can't shut him out. He leans in close, so close that Matt can feel his too warm breath in his ear, all but deafening in its proximity, in its intensity, in its intent——and, for some reason that Matt can’t immediately name, can’t immediately place, the feeling is so much more sickening than the blood rapidly seeping out onto his abdomen, than the blade still pressed into his throat.“You’re still so naïve, Matthew,” says Fisk, quietly, for his ears alone, and Matt cannot help the shudder that wracks his already trembling frame. “There are things worse than death for men like you and men like me. Things unbearable that linger, and fester, and take on lives of their own.”Fisk steps back, raises his voice as he runs his fingers back and forth across the palm of his hand, a rapid brush up from the bottom followed by a slow return."You will only wish you had died, died rather than know what it means to be the powerless observer of your own ruin. To have who you are stripped from you, to understand that you allowed it to happen, that you could have stopped it—at the expense, of course, of knowing you've all but placed a death sentence on your partner, of knowing you'll never see him again. The same choice you gave to me. Fair's fair, Mr. Murdock."Matt’s been dealt sh*t hands before, always prided himself on his ability to take the hand he was dealt and shift the cards in his favor, on his ability to hit the mat and get back up again, fists swinging. Now, laughter bubbles up inside of him. The ghost of his father had finally abandoned him, it seemed; only fitting that he should face his ruin alone.For it is we who haunt the dead, he remembers bitterly, and not the dead haunt us.He chokes back the hysterical urge to laugh, swallows down the bile that's risen again at the back of his throat as Fisk forcefully grips Matt’s jaw and tilts it up toward the surveillance camera hanging from the corner of the ceiling. Its low drone cuts in and out of Matt's hearing like a scratched record, and he feels boneless, uncorporeal. If his body had turned to ice before, now it was dark, drowning water.“They’re watching, Matthew,” Fisk says. “Don’t let the Devil out."Don’t let the Devil out, he says, and Matt hears the promises in the spaces between the words, or your case will fail before it ever makes it to trial, and Foggy will get sentenced, and worse, for aiding and abetting Daredevil.Daredevil—our true—public—enemy—He feels like he’s been dropped into the ocean, all his limbs weighted with stones, unable to find which way is up and which way is down, which way is surface and which way is gone. Surface feels like a fairy-story told to children at night, like enchanted forests.Light as the breadcrumbs which lead the way up, which lead the way out. Light as memory. Light as myth.This isn’t real, he thinks desperately, like the child who hides under his covers at night from the monster in the closet, if I can’t see it, it can’t be real. He can practically hear Stick’s voice in his head: derisive, cold, dealing out judgments as swiftly and mercilessly as he did deaths.C’mon, kid. You, more than anyone, know better than that. Get up. Get up and fight back, your soft partner be damned. Just look at you, a trained warrior—and this is what you’ve become: weak, soft, useless. I was right to leave you when I did—“Time’s up, Mr. Murdock,” Fisk says dispassionately. Then to Sweeney: “He’s yours. Let your men have him, but he stays alive—or you do not.”A litany of no’s are uttered in quick succession, one after another, as if from someone else, though he feels his own lips moving, feels the vibrations in his throat, feels his tongue heavy and dry against the roof of his mouth as the knife is removed from his throat, as different hands roughly grasp his jaw this time, hold him still as the other men press in—Then, nothing; only a few dull sounds in the back of his throat as he resigns himself to muteness, to what he cannot fight, to what he cannot change.This is the moment Matt understands what it means for his luck to have finally caught up with him, the moment he understands that there is no such thing as paying his dues, that some cards can’t be shifted in his favor.He'd known the risks of Daredevil, had lived for the risks of Daredevil, thrived in the charged spaces between risk and consequence, walked the tightrope between good intention and self-destruction. So, the consequences had arrived.For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment—Judgment day.The formation of a memory like the empty spaces between towering edifices, playing over and over—the smells, he thinks, the smells are what linger the most—but no, because it repeats, and this time it’s the feeling of powerlessness, of observing from trapped within his own body, the ringing in his ears rendering his attackers all but invisible to him, if not for their burning touches on his body, on his skin—But no, because the memory repeats and, this time, there’s just nothing there, and he thinks, if he could just remember, just remember what happened, he could gather the fragments back together into something that makes sense—Except that it repeats, and he remembers, and it still doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t—the blur of bodily sensations, the ringing in his ears softening to a quiet drone as nothing happens, nothing, really, because if he can’t remember, then it didn’t, it couldn’t have——and then he’s on his hands and knees, trembling, vomiting until there’s nothing left and he’s dry heaving and shaking, and feeling like he should die because no one could possibly be this sick without dying, and his body doesn’t even feel like it belongs to him anymore, because it couldn’t possibly, he can’t think of a reason why—No, he thinks, distantly, what happened—it happened to someone else.He doesn’t try to focus. There is no mind, body, connection, not anymore, not when his mind has violently rejected any connection to his body.In these moments, there are no thoughts of Elektra, or Foggy, or even God; no illusions of a friend or hero coming to his aid. In his experience, people showing up at the last minute to save the day is a trope strictly relegated to films and books and television shows. In real life, people rarely show up at the last minute to save the day.In Matt’s experience, no one ever shows up at all.Maybe later he’ll rewrite the story; give it a better ending, a better beginning, more realistic, more true—something that makes more sense. Mostly, he remembers that it started and he remembers that it ended; but it felt like it never would, and he feels like, somehow, it never will. III. The night passes slowly. He trades incoherent banter with phantoms and mumbles apologies to ghosts. His body trembles violently, and the touch of his own fingertips feels alien as he presses the blood back into his wounds. He can’t remember why. Memory can keep its secrets, he thinks, as a rat scurries across the floor of his new cell. — Morning brings a kind of clarity. Unwanted, but there nonetheless.His phantoms (mostly) fade away at the relentless hammering of a bell. Father Lantom lingers. Something to do with Catholic school, he thinks.“Is there a problem, inmate? Why aren’t you prepared for the count?”There’s a heartbeat at the entrance to his cell; he probably should have noticed it before, but there are so many heartbeats, and so many voices, and the effort to focus his senses would only draw energy away from the effort to get to his feet without passing out.“No,” Matt says as he shuffles to stand in front of his bed. He holds his arms behind his back in compliance, gritting his teeth against the low moan that rises in his throat. “Sorry.”“Next time you’re late for the count,” the guard says irritably, his hand resting on the baton at his side, “you’ll find out what disciplinary action means, Murdock.”It’s a different guard, one he’s never met, so Matt lets it go. — Attending meals is a non-negotiable, apparently. Inmates are not permitted to stay in their cells during mealtimes. In addition to learning that neat fact, Matt also learns that asking questions is considered ‘non-compliance’ and, therefore, also cause for disciplinary action.The cafeteria is only a five-minute walk from Matt’s new cell, but the assault of catcalls and jeering on his ears, the sudden touches and hisses, makes it feel endless. It doesn’t help that he’s now walking with an even more pronounced limp than what he’d already woken up with, creating a bigger target over his head for taunting and abuse.He not-so-secretly thinks that the guard just wanted an excuse to use force, but that doesn’t change the fact that Matt ends up on his knees again, unable to defend himself without giving away his secret. I am not Daredevil, he thinks, swallowing down the burning desire to fight back. It settles in his stomach like hot coals, waiting to burst into flames inside of him.Sweeney is practically humming with satisfaction when he finds Matt in the cafeteria line, signaling his presence with the pungent, nauseating odor of cigar smoke and expensive alcohol. The combination causes bile to rise up in Matt’s throat again.“You look moody today, Murdock,” he murmurs, stepping up beside him so suddenly that Matt takes an involuntary step away. “I’m gonna make this real easy for you. This, last night, will just be a taste of what the next few years are gonna look like for you. Or, you can choose option B. Tell Nelson that I want out, and that I want him to get me the deal. Fisk can rot in hell for all I care. I’ll even delete that footage—”All the helplessness inside of him transforms into rage in an instant, so suddenly that it takes his breath away as his hands tighten into fists at his side.Don’t let the Devil out—“You have no idea what’s coming for you, Sweeney,” he spits, and turns to walk away. But the world spins disorientingly around him in vertigo not felt since he was a child: the rough fabric of his father’s shirt pressing desperately against Matt's eyes as the blue sky eroded away like film that had caught fire. I can’t see, I can’t see—He grasps for something to hold onto, something to stabilize himself, but finds nothing, ears ringing, his senses overwhelmed until he's shoved violently backward into the railing behind them, Sweeney's hand wrapped around his throat.His nerve-endings explode in fireworks of searing pain that steal his breath away again.Then they’re surrounded by guards, their voices raised as they try to get the situation under their control. He struggles to catch his breath as Sweeney is dragged off of him. A riot erupts around them. Hands grasp at his shoulders, and he’s hauled away. — Solitary.He barely even notices when they put him in. His mind a constant replaying of his latest disaster, his most recent self-destruction; a litany of no’s like a prayer, his own choked gasps in his ears, don’t let the Devil out—He leans his weight against the wall of his cell, and slides down until he’s on the floor with his hands pressed palm down against the cold concrete. His side has settled down to a dull ache, but the blood must be seeping out onto his new uniform.He can't remember what happened to the other one, ripped, stained, ruined; he supposes they must have removed it when they took him to his new cell, destroy the evidence, erase the crime—Time passes slowly.He goes through all of Foggy’s cases in his mind, but the exercise is pointless, and he knows it. He’s never heard Foggy even mention Sweeney’s name, let alone mention attending any appeals. Beneath the hurt, Matt feels distantly pleased, vindicated, even, that he’s not the only one who ever kept secrets in their friendship.Still, the secret is out, and now Sweeney knows that hurting Matt hurts Foggy, knows that bending Matt will get Foggy to do whatever it takes to keep Matt from breaking. Fisk may have used the lowlife crime boss to get his revenge, but Sweeney used him right back. It’s almost laughable, almost.“In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen of the jury,” he says, to the wall swimming somewhere ahead of him, “I’m the idiot who can f*** things up for the people I love even from behind bars.”The sound of footsteps echoing through the outside corridor catches his attention, and a heartbeat appears on the other side of the bars. A guard, judging by the sound of fingertips impatiently brushing against a baton.“Losing it already, Murdock?” he jeers. “Get up, your attorney’s here.”Matt doesn’t rise to the bait, doesn’t even shift to acknowledge the guard's presence. He’s found that if he holds himself absolutely still, he can slow the spinning and repress the nausea to tolerable levels, stabilize his core temperature from its mad ricocheting between hot and cold, burning and shivering. He's given up trying to stop his body from trembling. It'd started at some point during the night, and hadn't taken a break from it since.“Hey, you hear me? Thought you were blind, not deaf!” snaps the guard as he slides a key into the lock. Matt hears a soft click as the latch unlocks, and the gate swings open. “Your lawyer’s here and he wants to see you. Get up.”“I’m staying here,” Matt says. “I don’t want to see him.”“I don’t give a sh*t what you want, inmate—your a**hole attorney is threatening to file a lawsuit against this entire prison if he doesn’t get to see you, and I’m not gonna be the sorry son of a bitch who gets held responsible. So, get up, and get moving.”Matt doesn’t bother to point out all the lawsuits they would have on their hands if word ever got out about even half of went on in here. Then again, the warden seems capable of making anything he wants to disappear. A veritable bureaucratic magician.He stands up slowly, pressing one shoulder against the wall for support. He hears the guard unsnap a leather pouch, then gesture wordlessly with a pair of handcuffs for Matt to put his hands out in front of him. Matt pointedly doesn’t react.“Oh, for f***’s sake,” the guard mutters. “Hold out your hands, inmate.”“Is that really necessary?” scoffs Matt. Still, he holds his arms out in front of him, if only to avoid having them cuffed behind again. “I was indicted on suspicion of perjury and obstruction of justice, not for running a fight club.”The irony of the defense isn’t lost on Matt.“And yet here you are in solitary for fighting with another inmate. Want to avoid cuffs, Murdock? Keep your hands to yourself and keep your mouth shut. Your fancy degree don’t mean sh*t in here.”The cold metal clicks shut around his aching wrists—You're still so naïve, Matthew——and the guard walks him down the cellblock. Matt drags his feet, feeling suddenly furious that Foggy keeps returning to the prison, keeps risking his safety; doesn’t he understand that Matt can’t keep him safe anymore?Can’t even keep himself safe.He still feels drugged, like he’s only witnessing everything from somewhere deep inside his own body, not actually living it. Like if he tried to speak, he’d be able to say nothing at all.The moment they enter, Foggy is all movement and barely restrained displeasure. He stands up, pressing his fingertips against the plexiglass that separates them, the clean scent of his cologne cutting through the lingering stench of the prison, and Matt is grateful for it, for the sense of world stability that is carried with it.“Get those cuffs off of him,” Foggy demands. “This institution may be in the business of dehumanizing inmates, but he’s a non-violent offender awaiting trial, and I’m here to have a civilized conversation with a human being. Get them off, and then get out.”The guard’s heartbeat speeds up in a rush of anger, but he complies. The moment he leaves the room, Matt attempts to throw a dirty look at Foggy, hopes that his gaze lands somewhere near the other lawyer's head. 


11/15/2021 07:33 PM 


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


11/15/2021 07:30 PM 

1 Corinthians 15:12

Summary: Jessica knew him for a week, at most. So she can't understand why she keeps visiting him. Or giving him things. Notes: Spoilers for those who haven't watched the Defenders!     She didn’t attend the funeral. Trish chastised, but Jessica ignored her. She hated the vulnerability, the utter exposure a funeral demanded. When it came to grief, Jessica knew only one type: the silent kind, the kind that accompanied ten bottles of whiskey. Halfway through the seventh bottle, she found herself stumbling up the small hills of Mount Zion Cemetery and coming to a stop at the newest headstone. Matthew Michael Murdock Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Ephesians 6:11 “Ironic to the end.” Jessica muttered, taking a swig from her whiskey bottle. A riot of flowers leaned against Matt’s headstone, and she recognized Trish’s daffodils nestled between a bunch of myrtle blossoms. And you didn’t even get him a goddamn daisy. She looked around the rows of limestone angels and granite tombs. Plenty of available bouquets on them, but even she wasn’t that much of an a**hole. Jessica hunted through the grass, hoping for wildflowers (hell, even a dandelion could’ve sufficed), but found the graveyard neater than she’d hoped—not a stray weed anywhere. She sighed and finally set her half-full whiskey bottle down before Matt’s grave. “You’ll need it, Murdock, up in...Heaven? Hell? Wherever the f*** you went to,” she said. “They better give you a damn good compensation, because playing the martyr card should definitely count you out of Purgatory.” The silence she got for an answer made her realize she looked ridiculous, like those cliche movie scenes where the side characters talked to graves to ‘move on’.  Sh*t. She had to stop wandering when she drank.    Jessica picked her way out of the graveyard clumsily, pretending not to see the open tomb for Elektra Natchios.     She made her next visit sober and with a more thoughtful offering. As she stopped at Matt’s grave, she tried the glasses on and frowned through the scarlet lenses. He should’ve cut out the whole red aesthetic. For all his coverups, the NYPD could’ve easily caught him with one look at the amount of red crap in his apartment. Jessica kneeled and carefully propped the glasses against the tombstone. The people who kept the graveyard clean probably thought her a litterer; the whiskey bottle she left behind was gone. Well, screw that. Better he got his glasses back than vapid cards or wilted two-dollar flowers. Some dramatic ass even left a crown of thorns on top of his headstone. The metaphor hit too close to home: a figure willing to die for others’ sins. She looked away, but already tasted blood and ash—the last remainder of Midland Circle that never washed away from her mouth, no matter how many Jack Daniels she downed. “You didn’t have to—” she started, and stopped herself. No time for soliloquies tonight. Her client wanted pictures from Steinway Street. She checked the time and cursed; the visit to Matt’s grave held her up fifteen minutes instead of the estimated five. As she turned away, she almost heard his low chuckle, a mixture of mild surprise and light amusement. Which was stupid, because there wasn’t even anything in his damn coffin.       She clutched the walking stick in her hand as the train pulled out of the station, glaring at anyone who gave her a pitiful glance. What would someone like her need a walking stick for? Definitely some disease or handicap that’s not visible. That’s it, Irene, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Let’s give her a sympathetic look so she knows we’re not inconsiderate a**holes. Because handicapped individuals needed 24/7 kid-glove treatment. Jesus, she had half a mind to go to the church and request sainthood for Matt; she couldn’t fathom how he endured all the half-hearted pity.   When Jessica finally set Matt’s walking stick down on his grave, she noted with a small scoff that the graveyard cleaners took away his glasses. Apparently, a pair of glasses—something Matt had actually owned—made a graveyard polluted, but God forbid that a bunch of dead flowers and that stupid crown of thorns go in the trash. Nelson, Matt’s ex-lawyer-in-crime, came barging into her office one day with a whole batch of his sticks to her, claiming that he couldn’t bear to sell them off. Somehow, word got out to everyone that she frequently visited Mount Zion Cemetery (she suspected Danny; every few weeks, he shadowed her out of some weird obligation to make sure she was fine). As soon as Nelson left, she downed three Kentucky bourbons in six minutes and walked all the way to Mount Zion with one stick in hand. Did he think I’d just dump them all? The people who run the place wouldn’t let me near his grave again. At the last thought, Jessica’s fingers curled into fists. She knew Matt for less than a week, and she already hated the idea of never visiting his grave. Murdock must have bargained with God or the Devil, because he’d gotten under her skin quicker than most. Posthumously, no less. Or he must have met her family. Damn, that opened up a whole new door of hell. He’d know about everything she hid under her sharp, infamous reputation. The angst of her preteen years. The pencil marks on her doorway tracking her height. The amateur photographs of her old neighborhood. Be glad I’m giving your stick back, Murdock. If you’re chatting with my little brother for dirt on me, I’m not coming back.     Jessica returned next week, holding a neatly pressed—if not a little worn—two-piece suit in her arms. A maroon tie dangled from her fingers, while a white shirt balanced precariously on top of the suit. All three of them smelled of laundry detergent; Matt’s landlord insisted a wash, claiming the dust on the fabrics would stick and stay. Unfortunately, the landlord forgot that the laundromat charged extra for dry clean only. You owe me seventeen dollars, Murdock. Jessica started to drape the whole ensemble over Matt’s tombstone, trying to keep her pettiness in check. Dropping Matt’s clothes on the ground would definitely give them grass stains that would never wash out. And she was an adult, goddamn it, so she laid his outfit out on his grave with the proficiency of an experienced undertaker. The people who ran the graveyard probably thought her now as the strange aunt who left behind even stranger memorabilia. They hated her, no doubt. The stuff she left behind meant more work for them. Jessica huffed; she hadn’t asked to carry out Murdock’s things. She just wanted to be a decent person and visit his grave with the occasional gift. Unfortunately, that now equated to ‘personal messenger of Matt’s effects’ in everyone else’s heads. This was what she deserved for showing that she cared. And if Hogarth got wind of her new Good Samaritan deeds, she’d laugh in Jessica’s face and never take her seriously again. F***ing Murdock.  “There, you a**hole.” she grumbled, throwing the red tie on top of the shirt. “I hope you’re happy.” She stalked away just as a disturbing thought started to form in her mind. She’d never given a gift of her own. Everything she left at the grave belonged to Matt. Even the bottle of whiskey she gave him wasn’t hers; she’d pinched it off the bar counter and slunk out once the bartender turned his head away from her. She sneered at the half-hearted tributes for Matt, but she’d never given him an original gift of her own. The utter hypocrisy of it all made her stop in her tracks and then stomp back, incensed. For f***’s sake. Jessica ripped her scarf off her neck, flung it on Matt’s grave, and then stormed out of the cemetery, her boots leaving crescent shaped moons in the soft earth.     She planned no more visits; more cases started to trickle into Alias Investigations and for three weeks, Jessica chased stalkers, unfaithful partners, and creepers across the maze of Manhattan. So when Jessica happened to glance at Matt’s grave as she passed Mount Zion Cemetery late one night, she froze. Unsurprisingly, Matt’s outfit and her scarf were gone. However, she never remembered leaving a cardboard box next to his tombstone. One broken gate lock later, Jessica held the box in her hands. She shook it carefully, and heard the faint rustle of bubble wrap. Fragile. Probably not a trap. Probably. Jessica instinctively tensed, ears straining to hear the deadly hiss of metal swords in the dark. But no Hand agent pounced from behind a tombstone. Cautiously, Jessica peeled the tape off the top of the box and unfolded the cardboard flaps. Once she removed the bubble wrap, she found herself staring at a brand new Canon EOS 80D. No note, no signature of any kind. The camera carried the intended message on its own. I have pictures, a**hole. She carried the box all the way back to Hell’s Kitchen, her mind firing a dozen thoughts a minute. Jesus, was this her new normal? Getting hounded by ghosts at every turn? Her breath started coming to her erratically, and she forced herself to breathe. Birch Street. Higgins Drive. Cobalt f***ing Lane.   You’re just overreacting. That sh*t that resurrected Elektra got buried under a pile of rubble. And yet, Matt got buried too. What other ghosts would come back to life to haunt her again? Jessica killed Kilgrave with her bare hands; was he coming back to her with a lopsided neck? After she entered her apartment, she dropped the camera on her desk like a hot coal, diving for the scotch she kept in times of absolute sh*t. She only got down two mouthfuls when she heard the fire escape rattle. Jessica slowly put down the bottle and silently crossed the room to wrench open her door. A few minutes later, Matt Murdock waltzed into her apartment, wearing all the things Jessica laid on his grave. Her scarf did little to hide the scruff of a new beard. “How?” Jessica asked flatly, keeping her heartbeat low. Matt smiled, clutching his walking stick. “Catholicism. Works wonders.” She punched him so hard that his back nearly cracked the wall she just fixed.     “I’m still not apologizing.” Jessica said, looking through her fridge. Matt sighed from the couch, rubbing his now-purpled jaw. “I don’t expect you to.”   “Don’t give me self-pity, Murdock. We’ve got a sh*t ton of paperwork to sort out now, and you’ve got ten seconds for a good explanation, or so help me I’ll throw you out the f***ing door.” “Your door doesn’t even open properly.” In retaliation, Jessica threw a bag of ice cubes at Matt’s head. He caught it just before it hit him, which made her suspect he let her punch him. “Start talking, jerk.” In short terms, Catholicism really did save his life. In long terms, his long-lost nun mother saved her son from the brink of death. In other terms, Jessica’s life was apparently a comic-book now, with kung fu warriors in office buildings and dead people visiting her apartment.   “Did you even think about calling us?” she asked bluntly, interrupting a long speech about the bizarre meetings between him and his mother. “I couldn’t think of an option in the convent. Everything in there’s too quiet, and it’s hard to concentrate when you feel like you’re floating in nothingness.” “So.” Jessica said, counting off her fingers. “You reunited with your mom, spent time healing away in a convent, and thought it too difficult to think of actually warning us like a decent person?” Matt fidgeted. “I’m—” “Save it. I’m not finished.” He nodded. Despite the sharp lines of his suit, he managed to look like his shoulders sagged with regret. She felt a small twinge of guilt, but she quashed it with her anger. She opened her mouth, intent on getting answers, starting with why the hell he let her put all his stuff on his grave instead of meeting with her earlier. “Where’d you get the camera?” Goddammit, Jones. Matt blinked behind his glasses, startled. Jessica hid her own surprise by nabbing the scotch bottle on her desk and starting to chug down the whole thing. “Uh, Foggy didn’t shut down my bank account yet. And I went to a place on 39th Street—long way from Hell’s Kitchen.” Jessica gulped down the last dregs of her drink and threw the empty bottle in the wastebasket. “So what, was that your idea of a ‘surprise I’m not dead’ memo?” Matt knitted his fingers together and leaned forward, the surprise from his face draining to leave behind a more serious expression. “The camera was something I owed you long before this. I owe you a lot more now, above all an apology. You kept giving me things on my grave and I spat on your kindness by just taking them and not telling you I was alive.” “And?” “You have no reason to believe me anymore, but I’m truly sorry that I acted like such a selfish bastard.” Matt said, casting his eyes downwards. “I made you believe that I was dead, and I of all people should’ve known that seeing a dead person come back to life would give you a shock.” The silence in the apartment practically crackled. And broke with a huge sigh of exasperation from Jessica. “Contrary to your beliefs,” she started, getting up. “You weren’t the first one to come back to life to haunt me.” Matt stayed silent as she crossed the room to rummage through her fridge again. After finding a bottle of Heaven Hill in the back corner, she kicked the door shut and swiped two glasses from the sink. “And no matter what you might think,” she said, handing an empty glass to Matt. “I’m glad you’re back, a**hole.” Matt said nothing as she poured bourbon for both of them, but when they threw their heads back to drink, Jessica saw him hiding an unmistakable smile under the rim of his glass. Notes: 1 Corinthians 15:12But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection?


11/15/2021 06:25 PM 

FT skills

Dragon slayer magic-types fire and thunder and sound, and lightning, solar (solar is small, he can't consume it yet)sound magicWeapon magicEnchantment magic infusement magicFire God magiclight magic (minium)spirit magicSpacial magicsummoning magicSolar magiclava magic 


11/15/2021 02:17 PM 

Nowhere Woman

Sitting in silence on the facility’s rooftop, the pair’s respective gazes lingered on the faintly lit horizon, the distant lights of the city flickering. Carol hesitantly reached out, brushing her fingers along Wanda’s arm. The younger woman stiffened, a sharp breath hitched. Carol whispered apologetically. “Sorry. The silence is difficult.” A stiff nod, Wanda didn't meet her gaze as she replied. “It was too loud inside.” A cautious nod, Carol withdrew her hand, loosely crossing her arms as she willed herself to settle. To adopt even a fraction of Wanda’s serenity. Wanda tilted her head down, a faint, brief laugh as she mumbled. “We had a date night planned, Natasha and I.” Her eyes narrowed as she continued. “I was on my way to meet her when I was ambushed.” Carol remained attentive but also intrigued, shuffling closer only to instantly regret drawing attention to herself as Wanda paused again. Wanda turned and met her gaze as she resumed, her tone gradually softening. “It’d been a few years since we were all a team, but…” Trailing off meekly, her gaze remained fixed on Carol. “Natasha and I weren’t the only ones attacked.” Noticing the subtle trembling that Wanda exhibited, Carol slipped her arm around Wanda’s shoulders. Wanda leaned against her with a thin smile fleeting across her lips. Wanda shakily inhaled then continued. “We did everything we could, all of us.” The heavy silence fell into place once again, resting over the pair like dense snowfall.   Wanda roused herself, quickly blinking and firmly pushing herself away from the other figure. As she settled and realized where she was, she cautiously returned to laying against Carol. A gentle smile as Carol patted her back as she spoke. “Wanda, for what it’s worth, I can empathize.” Slowly looking up, Wanda nodded, encouraging Carol to continue. Her slight hesitation lingering, Carol glanced aside momentarily. “To me, Maria was my wife and Monica was my daughter. We didn’t need to tell the world all about it or to invite everyone else to know. We were a family, same as anyone else’s.” Carol’s display of reluctance encouraged Wanda to reciprocate the earlier affection. Gently brushing her fingers along the blonde’s arm. Carol willed herself to proceed. “I crossed galaxies, travelled light years to visit them. But…space can swallow you up, it’s an expanse, not a void.” Wanda sat up straighter, a lingering look as she responded. “When Pietro and I discovered our abilities, we didn’t want to be heroes. No, we did what we had to, to survive.” Carol frowned for a moment, thinking over the unfamiliar name. Wanda slowly nodded as she continued. “But we weren’t allowed to make an easy choice. Not when…the entire world was at stake.” Wanda tightly clenched her jaw then whispered. “He’s gone, it’s been 4 years.”Carol remained rigid, her own voice wavering. “I never forgot about them, I couldn’t. But there were so many who needed my help. I couldn’t be selfish, put myself first. And now, who knows where my girls are.” Wanda firmly pulled her close as she replied, getting to her feet and tugging Carol with her. “We were defeated but we’re not extinguished.” The pair grasped one another’s hands, their eyes locked on each other’s as they nodded in turn. Carol replying with a renewed confidence. “Wanda, we are heroes and this is our time.”

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