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Chapter Text

There are days when he wakes up and is thrown into confusion, his heart pounding and his mind racing and fear tasting black and thick in his mouth, because he doesn't remember and when he sees the empty side of the bed, all he can think is 'where is she?'

There are moments when he's thrown completely into the past -- a smell, a laugh, the sunshine on golden meadows -- and he turns around, reaching his hand out to her, like he always does, and she isn't there.

There are nights when he's in the kitchen, making dinner, and it seems so logical to take the heavy kitchen knife and slide it under the skin of his face and peel away the offending flesh, to cut out his voice and tongue until he's mute, because every reflection he sees and every word he speaks reminds him of who he isn't, mocks him with who he used to be.

But then Gojyo comes back into the room, or jostles his shoulder as he walks past or takes the heavy knife out of his hands, and Cho Gonou is gone again, banished from the body that once was his, Hakkai is back, and the world no longer looks like it's inverted.

"A man is made of more than just his past," Gojyo tells him, a sweet lie that only those who have remade themselves can say. He smiles like cooking oil on top of a puddle, slick and glossy and unable to hide what he really is beneath that sheen, and his tug on the waistband of Hakkai's pants is somewhere between an invitation and a demand; between a pleasure and a need.

He understands.

"We can build him a tomb, if you want."

Hakkai shakes his head, even as he leans in and touches Gojyo until Cho Gonou's voice is nothing but a distant itch inside his head.

The past is tangled with the future, the dead twisted with the living.

This is but another cycle on the great wheel, penance for his sins, and even if it is a little strange to be reborn into the same body, Hakkai has always been strong in all his incarnations.

But as Gojyo's hair slides through his fingers, as his body anchors him into the now, Hakkai can't help but think that his punishment shouldn't be so enjoyable.

Chapter Text

Gojyo sat down and pulled out a cigarette. "Yo. Long time."

"Not really." Hakkai finished cleaning his monocle and put it back on.

"Well? What'd you find?"

"Corrupted youkai." Hakkai stood, brushed off some grass. "I think it has something to do with why Sanzo has summoned us."

"Hnh." Gojyo flicked away the remnants of his cigarette. "Figures." He stood up as well, and stretched. "As if he and the monkey could do this alone."

Hakkai reached out and pulled a leaf from Gojyo's hair. He held the strands between his fingers. "You know, I've always liked the color red."

Chapter Text

Sanzo didn't believe in Buddha or fate or the gods. Oh he knew that they existed but that didn't mean he believed in any of them.

He believed in himself. He believed in his gun, in the pure joy of that first puff on a cigarette, that retrieving his master's sutra was his purpose in life.

He believed that Gojyo and Hakkai were a better class of idiots than the ones that populated the rest of the world.

He wasn't quite sure what he thought about Goku, who'd called to him and stuck to him and still kept smiling even after Sanzo smacked him.

Sanzo knocked back a shot of whatever liquor Gojyo'd bought and grimaced and decided that he'd spent too much time thinking about Goku and pushed it out of his mind.

He'd figure Goku out later.

Chapter Text

Barney stared at the painting and shook his head. "There's something missing." He stood up and began to pace. "It's not right. I'm forgetting something. Something important."

Bran sighed and got up, moving so he could look at the painting. "It looks fine. It's..." Bran groped for the right word. Art was not his forte. "Lovely."

Barney snorted and Bran shrugged. "Would it help if I played some music?"

"No." Barney watched Bran and an idea formed. He sat down.

And in the corner of King Arthur's court he began to paint a boy with white hair and golden eyes.

Chapter Text

Will opened his eyes, and he knew that it was a dream because Merriman was standing before him, looking as old and wise and real as ever. Will wanted to cry, but he laughed instead because joy filled him and pushed away all the sadness.

"Merriman!" he cried out, and even though he was a grown man, even though he was an Old One, he rushed forward like a child, hugged this dream as tightly as he had ever hugged his father.

"How are you?" Merriman asked and Will had to force himself to be composed.

"Well enough," he said, then paused and the sadness crept back in. "Alone."

"Your time will come, Old One." Merriman smiled, sadly, down at him. "You will join us, then."

Will nodded. And he wished, just for a fleeting moment, that his watching was done.

Chapter Text

"Well go on. Try them."

The angel put the contraband sunglasses on and it felt so right, like they belonged on his face. It took a bit of effort to take them off again and hand them back to the stranger; it really was too bad that they wouldn't be invented for at least another millennia.

"No, no, keep them. They look good on you." The stranger smiled -- rather unpleasantly -- at the ill-concealed glee on the angel's face. He put an arm around the angel's shoulder. "Now, my boy, let me tell you about something called the automobile."

Chapter Text

"Do you miss it?" Crowly asked over tea one day. "Flying, I mean."

"Hmm?" Aziraphale stopped rearranging his books and looked up. "What was that?" He banished a jam stain Crowly had been steadily creating on a first edition Locke with a wave of his hand.

"Do you miss the flying?"

Aziraphale sat back and shook his head. "Oh, no. Well, not terribly anyway. The last time I took a short flight, I was nearly sucked into a jet engine."

"You too, then?" Crowly sighed and scowled into his tea. "Bloody aeroplanes."

"Indeed." Aziraphale went back to his books. "Well. I find that it's no great loss. I always was allergic to down."

Chapter Text

Richard was watching him. Richard was almost always watching him, these days. Like a cat staring at a stranger offering a bowl of cream. Unsure. Wary. Cautious. Outwardly calm, but all tensed muscle and restrained action.

Alec didn't like it.

"I'm not leaving," he said, his naked body still slick from sweat, their rooms still heavy with the smell of sex. He lay against Richard's body, pressed up hard against his edges, as though sacrificing himself upon a sword. "I gave up that life."

Richard nodded and said nothing.

They both knew that Alec had given up nothing at all.

Chapter Text

"Again."

The old swordsman -- who wasn't all that old, really; not in age, at any rate -- had a voice that was as cold as the steel of his weapon. He strolled around his pupil, hands clasped behind his back, eyes narrowed in a disapproving scowl. The boy showed promise, if not actual skill. In time he would become a worthy successor. In time. And in time, his mind would be focused entirely on the sword, on the thrust and turn of blood and battle. In time, that would be all he would need.

"Again."

Richard sighed and raised his sword.

Chapter Text

"The sun is fixed," Alec said, dreamily, "and we revolve around it." He drew the orbit out on Richard's skin in a lazy pattern, and wrote strange things beside his drawings that faded as the sweat dried. "The sun is fixed and we move. It seems so simple, doesn't it? So true."

Richard merely nodded, comfortable and lazy and all too aware that this tiny bubble of tranquility they had stumbled into would burst with the least provocation. He sighed, a mere exhalation of air, as Alec continued to move his hands up and down in slow, dreamy motions.

"So simple," Alec sighed. "The sun as the center, the world moving about it, and around the world revolves the moon. The math worked, too. It was beautiful and clean and it made more sense than believing the world as the center of the universe." Alec stopped moving and sank down until his cheek was flush against Richard's back. He threw one arm over Richard's waist and stared hard at the memory of mathematical formulas and the spiky, giddy joy of discovery. "We could even predict the movement of the other heavenly bodies. It was brilliant."

"Mmm," Richard said.

"People are blind," Alec said at last, and he huddled closer to Richard, held onto him as if he was drowning. "Blind and stuck in their ways and so used to the chains of habit that they think of them as freedoms. They want to believe that everything revolves around the world because then they don't feel small. They can believe that there's a reason for everything, that everything was created for their existence. But it's a lie. We're all small, and we aren't the center of our worlds; the sun is and we move, and that is true. It is Truth." His voice had dropped as he spoke, and his final words were a vicious hiss. He dug his nails into Richard's body, hard enough to draw blood, and Richard winced.

"I know," he said, and he rolled over until Alec was dislodged from the past and stared at him with cloudy eyes, unapologetic as always about the damaged he caused. "I believe it's true."

He kissed Alec, but not gently, and let himself be moved.

Chapter Text

Draco was going to die today, by his hand, and Harry thought that he should have felt something other than the bone-deep exhaustion, the numbness of spirit that had settled upon him days, weeks, deaths ago.

But all he could feel was that this was just another obstacle keeping him from the end. The war had lasted for so long.

Long enough to almost forget the way Draco's eyes darkened when he came.

Long enough to almost forget how he tasted, how he sounded, how his skin looked when flushed with blood.

Long enough to almost forget about love.

Harry raised his wand.

Chapter Text

He wasn't a pure blood -- there were muggle-borns in his bloodline, his great-great grandparents on his father's side. It didn't matter that his mother descended from Rowena Ravenclaw -- his father had impure blood and the other children wouldn't let him forget it.

"You're just as smart as any of them," his mother told him, fussing with his collar. "You're going to become the Minister of Magic some day."

His father snorted and turned a page in the Daily Prophet. "I thought you said he was smart."

"Pay no attention to him." His mother brushed the hair out of his eyes. "You're going to do great things, marvelous things. You're going to be somebody, Severus. You're going to be important."

Chapter Text

"Well, Jeeves," I said. "This is certainly a turn up for the books, what?"

"Yes sir."

"I mean to say. Well, I really mean to say. That is –"

"Indeed sir."

"What I mean is. Well. I've heard of—"

No, dash it all, I've done it again. It's a terrible habit of mine to just start these stories in the middle of things, but the whole thing is just so intolerable that – but I suppose I should find a better beginning to begin with instead of just jumping in after all's said and done. But then there's the trouble of beginnings. Where does one begin, after all, and how long does one hang about at the beginning, fetching hats and doing the Old Retainer routine? Does one start with Aunt Agatha and Young Thos. and his beastly mumps, or should one begin with Uncle Tom and his rather strange missive directing me to –

Well, I suppose the most appropriate place to begin is with the Bassett, because if I hadn't been up at Brinkley Court for a bit of the old nosebag and Anatole hadn't concocted one of his heavenly masterpieces, I wouldn't have been nearly so near at hand to witness yet another one of the little bumps in life's happy road between love and matrimony that seems to beset Gussie and then Madeline Bassett wouldn't have affianced herself to me, which means I wouldn't have set fire to that dreadful old tapestry hanging about in the dining room while trying to get the right gal to meet the right chap and then I wouldn't have had to come across on that horrid old ship to jolly old New York without my proper accoutrements.

"I say. I mean, I really do say." I cast another baleful eye on the offending offering and couldn't help the shudder. To think that all I had at the mo. was an morning coat, a frock coat and a set of flannels. More than a chap can bear, what?

"Sir," Jeeves said. "Perhaps it would be best to stay in tonight."

Chapter Text

"Dwarves don't swim," Gimli said for the seventh time. He tugged at his beard and scowled at the messy pile of Legolas' discarded clothes. "'Tis unnatural."

"The water is not so deep. And it is welcome refreshment from the sun." Legolas turned his head ever so slightly -- just enough to see where Gimli stood upon the lake's shore. "A bath would do you good, my friend."

"Aye, a proper bath. Not a dunking in some muddy pond." Gimli looked up at the sky and his scowl deepened. "The day wanes. Come, Legolas. We should push on if we wish to leave Fangorn this day."

Legolas sighed, and he rose up from the waters, naked and beautiful. The light of the lowering sun made him glow as if he were made of gold and mithril and things most precious and fragile. Gimli felt his breath hitch and he looked away from the sight, embarrassed by his staring.

Even the return of Gandalf from the pits of darkness had not moved him so.

"Must we leave so soon?"

"Perhaps," Gimli said, "we could tarry yet a while."

Chapter Text

"Hail brother, and welcome." Faramir knocked his knees against the bottom of his table as he rose, his haste making him unnaturally clumsy. He stood, and he didn't know what to do, so he let his body take control and stood at ease, as always submissive, even though it was Boromir who intruded on his private chambers.

"Brother." Just one word but so full of sweetness, of gentling power; it made Faramir shiver in pleasant memory. "I must leave."

Faramir nodded, and he did not cry though he wanted to. He would be brave, as he had been taught. "You will return?"

"I will." Boromir touched his face, a lingering caress, a promise and remembrance, and Faramir leaned in to the touch. "I shall always come home, as long as you are here."

Chapter Text

He wasn't a priest in the traditional sense. He drank and smoked and cursed and killed. Broke every one of the Ten Commandments -- especially the one about 'coveting thy neighbor's ass' -- every damn chance he could get. Blasphemed like crazy; which he supposed counted as spreading the Lord's Word, though Father Atherton would probably disagree.

He wasn't a good man, compromised his morals all the time; though anybody who managed to keep their morals intact in this world was either a hermit who never left his cave or had morals so twisted that they might as well not be there. He only became a priest because it seemed like a good way to grift people and he could get away with his gun if everyone thought it was a cross.

He didn't do things because they were 'right' or 'good' but because it helped him.

Young, hungry, needy faces stared up at him, trusting, expectant.

Crap.

"You're going to bring us food?" one of them asked.

Wolfwood knelt, took off his glasses, and all his excuses about not being a priest, not being a good man vanished like sand on the wind. "Yeah." He ruffled the kid's hair. "Don't worry about it."

Chapter Text

They never do anything because they both have scars -- Vash's on his body for all the world to see, and Wolfwood's hidden away on his soul and his self, and yet no less public for all that they haven't left their marks upon his body.

So they don't do anything about the heat that builds up inside, heat like the sand in the middle of the day, like the fire of a sun, like the searing pain of a bullet slicing through flesh and muscle and fat. They just fight, and they talk, and sometimes, at night, Wolfwood will roll over into Vash's personal space -- ostensibly to warm up because as hot as the sand is in the day, it's ten times colder in the night -- and he'll look up into Vash's old, sad, eyes and say, "I wish I'd met you first."

And that's as close as they ever come to admitting what they want. Because they both have scars and they've both been broken by the same hand.

Chapter Text

"I'm afraid," Clark whispered. He fiddled with his ring and the gold kryptonite's facets made geometric patterns on the walls. "I'm so afraid."

"Don't be." Lex draped the towel around his neck, and they both ignored the blood. The mattress creaked as he sat down.

"What if he's right? What if it is my destiny to conquer earth?" Clark reached out, touched Lex's split lip, his bruised cheek, the purpling marks around his neck. "Is that so hard to imagine?"

"Don't worry." Lex brushed back Clark's hair and kissed him, soft and sweet. "I'm here. I'll always be here. I'll protect you. Let me worry about it."

Clark closed his eyes against the future. Gave in to the embrace.

"I'm sorry."

Lex's touch burned like kryptonite.

"It'll be all right."

Chapter Text

This is how they do it.

One week a year, they meet in the middle of nowhere -- someplace in Canada, owned by neither of them; a rental under an assumed name. Nobody knows that they're there and they guard that closer than Clark's secret.

One week a year, they forget everything except that they used to be friends and then they were lovers and then the world made them forget that.

One week a year, life is simple, the world is perfect and it's 'Clark' and 'Lex', not 'Superman' and 'Lex Luthor'.

One week a year, the world isn't in peril, there are no secrets and Clark can spend the entire day lying on a bed and memorizing every inch of Lex's body, feel as normal as he can ever be.

One week a year, Lex isn't out to take over the world, isn't busy trying to destroy the world just so Clark won't do it, and he's just a guy in love. And he likes that.

For one week a year, everything works.

And that makes the rest of the year possible.

Chapter Text

The Bebop was no place for a kid, and neither was the life of a bounty hunter--Jet knew that. Half the time they were dead in space, out of money and food and gas. And the other half, they were risking their lives going after wanted criminals. Breakdowns and bullets and debt -- and he and Spike were no kind of role models.

He should have taken Ed to the nearest orphanage -- at least there she'd have a meal every day. He definitely shouldn't have taken her on board.

Jet tucked the blanket around Ed's slumbering form and gently pried her computer from her arms. He looked around, carefully, made sure that nobody could see him. He leaned down and gently -- furtively -- kissed her forehead.

Spike was waiting outside, lounging against the bulkhead, eyes closed, one leg braced against the metal wall, his chin tucked down against his chest. "Softest touch this side of Mars," he said as Jet walked past.

Jet grunted. He hoped he'd made the right choice.

Chapter Text

"I'm leaving," he told Vicious while cleaning his gun. Vicious looked at him with cold eyes and sheathed his sword.

"I'm leaving," he told Julia when he lay between her legs and stared up at her. Julia smiled down at him and her eyes were full of love.

"I'm leaving," he told the Van, as politely as he could, but firmly and insistently and repeatedly. He couldn't see their eyes, but that was because his back was to them and he was walking out the big, double doors.

"You left," Vicious told him as they stared each other down, through the haze of smoke and shrapnel that was all that was left of Julia's apartment. Spike fired a couple of rounds, but Vicious was already gone and there was nothing for him to hang around for.

So he left.

Chapter Text

The other recruits call him 'Black Dog' because of the way he shakes when he comes out of the showers, twitching his muscles and sending beads of water flying. His partner does it because after a really long run, he has a tendency to pant, tongue lolling and sucking in air like it was the smoke of his cigarettes.

Jet just grins at the taunts and does his job, when Marcus the Mauler went missing and the bodies began to turn up, he went three days without sleep until he finally cornered Marcus in a dead-end alley, gun empty and backup at least twenty minutes away.

He was smoking a cigarette when backup finally arrived, bruised and bleeding and favoring his right arm, and Marcus bound at his feet.

They still call him Black Dog. He still grins.

But everyone knows it's different.

Chapter Text

"The trick to being a pirate, lad," Jack said, "is you always got to know where the rum is."

"It's not knowing where to hide when the Royal Navy is after you?" Will had stopped paying close attention to Jack's pronouncements about three days ago when Jack proclaimed that the best cure of seasickness was to eat a mixture of salt pork and hardtack soaked in seawater, washed down with lime.

Will still hadn't forgiven him.

"Rum cures all." Jack levered himself up and slung an arm around Will's neck. "Keeps the crew happy, disinfects wounds, and it keeps you busy on a desert island."

"What?" Will raised an eyebrow dodged the...things Jack put in his hair.

"Never mind." Jack leaned forward and Will met him halfway. Will licked the rum off his lips. Maybe Jack was onto something this time.

Chapter Text

A ship is not like a woman, and should never be treated like a lady. For one thing, it's pretty near impossible to fuck a ship and it hurts a lot to do so.

But more importantly than that, a woman is, well, not useless but certainly nothing to write songs and poems and go insane over. All you can do with a woman is drape the spoils of your raids on her and spend your hard earned cash on her in hopes that she'll give you a bit of the touch and not syphilis, and in the end she'll stab you in the belly if you treat her bad. Which hurts, I'll grant that, but it won't kill you if you've got luck and a surgeon who can see straight on your side.

A ship, though. Well, a ship can't be decked out in gold and gems -- what would be the point? -- but she can gleam brighter than any king's blood money from the top of her mizzen mast down to the barnacles on her hull (and there's another thing that's different, women don't like it when you mention their barnacles). And if you treat her bad, she'll roll on you, tangle you in her rigging and drag you and your mates down to the depths of hell. And nothing will save you if that happens.

A ship is no lady, because a ship'll stay true, even if she's torn from your hands by mutineering scum who let her sails run ragged and put holes in her pretty sides. The Black Pearl is my ship.

And I will have her back.

Chapter Text

He woke up with a splitting headache, a bad taste in his mouth, and an empty bottle and it was the last fact that distressed him the most. He pushed himself upright and swayed to the motion of a different kind of floor, his legs still out on the sea while the rest of his body waited on shore.

There was somebody sleeping across room – rough snores and the occasional snort – and he wove his way over and fell heavily to his knees and shook the rumpled shoulder hard.

"Jack. The rum is gone. Why is all the rum gone?"

Jack blinked at him through sleep-crusted eyes and smiled dirty yellow teeth and pulled a dark, dusty bottle full of liquid relief from underneath his coat. "I've got the rum right here, commander," he said and James reached for the bottle but Jack pulled it out of the way.

"Uh, uh, uh. You have to ask nice like."

James shed his clothes and undid the buckles on Jack's pants and whispered "please" against Jack's smooth, dry skin.

Chapter Text

At first Tatsuki kind of liked the visions; he could always find Mama's keys, Papa's wallet -- and that made him special, made them happy.

But then he saw...other things. Bad things. Scary things. Death and fear.

When he held the hand of the Obasan who lived next door, he saw a young girl being raped.

When his hand brushed that of the man who sold balloons during the summer festival, he saw the broken body of a woman and a bloody knife.

When he brushed past the railing on the pedestrian bridge over the freeway, he saw a boy about to die.

It was contact. It was contact that did it. If he just stopped touching things, if he could just keep the world away, then the visions would stop.

They had to stop.

He hoped.

Chapter Text

When they were little, they were always touching. Kotarou remembers that the most. They were always in contact, always holding hands or hugging or snuggling up together on the sleeping mats. He remembers that he couldn't stand to be apart from Tatsuki, that he felt lost and lonely.
He also remembers how one day Tatsuki pushed him away and screamed "Stop touching me!"

Back then, he had been hurt, been confused, couldn't understand why Tatsuki was pulling away, why he was making Kotarou hurt so. Now that he's older, he can understand why Tatsuki said that, he thinks. It must have been suffocating, to have someone clinging to him like that. He's just surprised that it took Tatsuki so long to say something.

He had thought that Tatsuki liked the touching.

He knows better now.

Chapter Text

Yuuto caught up with them at the okonomiyaki booth, just in time to steal half of Kota's squid pancake.

"Yuuto!" Kota growled and yanked his food away. "Go get your own, ya greedy pig."

"I would've if I hadn't spent, like, the last twenty minutes looking for you guys," he said, and Tatsuki, who'd accidentally brushed past Yuuto and knew exactly what he'd been doing for the past twenty minutes, just raised an eyebrow.

"Twenty minutes?" Tatsuki said after Kota – who really had the attention span of a five-year-old on a sugar high at these things – was out of hearing, trying his luck at the fish scooping game.

"So I found you in five, but there was this super hot chick—" Yuuto began but Tatsuki just rolled his eyes and moved off.

Yuuto ate the last of his stolen okonomiyaki and licked his fingers.

He'd actually spotted them two minutes after he realized they'd been separated, and the second he'd seen the fiery-red aura, he'd known it was Kota and Tatsuki – because only Tatsuki could make Kota that mad.

Chapter Text

He likes to think of himself as a good guy because who wants to be the villain of their own story, after all, but he knows, in his heart, that he's not all that good. If he were truly a good guy, he wouldn't be taking advantage of his sort-of friend like this; of course, if were truly a good guy then he wouldn't be fucking Tatsuki in the middle of a field, their only point of contact his hand on Tatsuki's cock, and he wouldn't be seeing this fireworks display of Tatsuki's aura – gold and white and red and black and purple and blue, shifting and undulating like oil on water.

"Say his name," he whispers into Tatsuki's ear. "Say it for me."

Tatsuki bites down on his lip and is silent when he comes.

Chapter Text

Iwaki finished cleaning the grave marker and lit the stick of incense he'd brought with him; it was expensive stuff, taken from the same bundle he used when he prayed at his mother's grave, and he felt a little foolish because he had no real connection to these men. Kato would probably laugh at him if he saw him praying at this lonely little grave marker in the middle of nowhere.

But. He needed to say something, to thank them, or reassure them; he felt the weight of his obligations even though he couldn't figure out precisely what debt he owed them.

"Thank you for leading Kato to me," he said, at last. "I promise. We're happy."

He could think of nothing more to say, so he rose and turned and left, heading back to the hotel. To Kato.

And even though it wasn't summer, the sound of cicadas followed him home.

Chapter Text

By the time Kato finished with his shower, the girl was gone. He sat down on his bed and rubbed the towel through his hair. It was strange. Five minutes and he couldn't even remember her name or anything about the sex except it seemed like work.

When did his life become a rut? When did he get stuck as an AV actor? He'd had plans -- big plans, plans that didn't include being an AV actor his entire life.

Kato picked up his phone. He had to make a change.

*

Iwaki threw the magazine across the room.

Damn him. Damn Kato and his ambition and dredging up all the dreams that Iwaki thought he'd buried long ago.

Iwaki grabbed his phone. He needed to call his agent.

Chapter Text

"Stop it," Ryouga said, but Ranma just grinned and continued tugging at the ties of his pants.

"Why? You're hard, right?" Ranma finally managed to get the ties undone and Ryouga had to move fast to keep his pants from falling down around his ankles. Ranma used the movement to sneak his hands into Ryouga's pants where they gripped his cock with devastating gentleness.

Ryouga blushed -- he was good at that -- and squirmed and tried to say something about it being a natural reaction, that he always got hard after a fight; he was sure Ranma was the same way. He stuttered himself into silence and just gave in to the sensation.

Ranma grinned.

He did so enjoy winning.

Chapter Text

Akane walks in just as Ryouga is going down on him and Ranma knows that this looks bad from any angle, especially since it does kind of look like he's holding Ryouga's head underwater, even though he's not. Still, his first thought is 'We seriously need locks on those doors.'

His second thought is 'crap, she's figured it out.'

His third thought, as he sees Akane's aura and fear makes him go soft is, 'oh shit.'

"Ranma!" Akane growls, pulling mallet-sama out of whatever pocket-dimension she keeps him in, her anger momentarily overcoming her embarrassment at being seen by the boys while clad only in a towel. "Stop picking on Ryouga!"

Ranma only has a moment to witness Akane's sudden full-body blush as she realizes where, precisely, she is and whom she's wearing nothing with, before he lands in the pond, natch, and he's nursing a mother of a headache when he finally slides back into the furo. The tingle of the change makes his head throb more, but he'll be damned if he admits that to Ryouga. Even if they are currently fucking.

"You don't think," Ryouga finally says, putting dents into the tiles on the bottom of the furo with his idle nervousness, "that she's really that dense..."

"I don't know," Ranma mutters. "But if she isn't then she's the most sadistic bitch ever."

"Don't insult Akane-san like that."

"Oh fuck off." Ranma sinks lower into bath until he's breathing a little bit of water with every breath. And then he's sputtering water as he suddenly inhales a full lung full after Ryouga sits down on his lap. Even with the buoyancy of the water he's still quite heavy.

"I'd rather you did it," Ryouga says, failing miserably at acting coy.

Not that Ranma minds, because Ryouga feels quite nice beneath his hands.

He smiles up between his wet bangs and as they kiss, he doesn't even realize that his headache is completely gone.

Chapter Text

"Look, I said I was sorry!" Ranma said, jogging easily along the fence top. "But it was the only thing I could find."

Ryouga said nothing but started walking faster, his cheeks somehow becoming even redder than the had been before. Which wouldn't have been a problem if Ryouga hadn't been heading back to the mess they'd just barely managed to get out of only seconds before.

"Bakayaro." Ranma jumped down and grabbed Ryouga's arm. "It's not like I planned on getting a pot of tea dropped on me when I had you in my lap, or anything, and I swear this was the only thing I could find."

Ryouga tightened the Japanese flag he had wrapped around his waist and just glared.

Chapter Text

"Are you sure you can do this?"

"Bwee!"

"Okay, okay. Don't get your bandana in a bunch. All I'm sayin' is that maybe we should think of some other plan."

"Bwee."

"Yes, I know you're the only one who can sneak in there but with your shitty sense of direction, you'll turn left and end up on a freight ship bound for Hong Kong."

"Bwee! Bee beee bwee!"

"Ow! No biting! No biting! Anyway, it's happened before."

"…beee…"

"It was not my fault! Did I ask you to follow me to China? No!"

"Bwee-heee-hee."

"Great. Now you're sulking. You're supposed to be breaking into Nabiki's room to get those negatives and you're sulking. K'so. I don't even know what to do with you any mo-or-ore! C-c-cold!"

"Guys. A little tip. If you're going to try and break into a person's room, it's a good idea to not have an argument outside their window."

"Sorry Nabiki."

"Bweeee…"

Chapter Text

Sybil pulled off the heavy leather gloves and picked up the little log book she kept at the entrance of the kennel. Lord Charles Grayboy Bluescale IV was doing quite well today, and she made a mental note to thank Sarah for recommending a bisulfuric compound to treat the scalerot.

The rustling, growling, gurgling noises of the kennel were quite soothing, and Sybil sat down with a sigh. She knew, vaguely, that the rest of Morporkian society considered her to be quite...eccentric for preferring the company of her swamp dragons. But, really, Sybil couldn't think of any reason why she shouldn't. Dragons were so much easier to get along with -- they didn't care about things like large bones and clumsy good cheer, or the ever-present chemical smell, or the fact that there was a small nest of mice living in her best wig. There was no politics, no scheming, no snide remarks made with a fake smile, no nattering on about the latest fashions. All the dragons cared about was if they were fed on time; they didn't care what the hand that fed them looked like or thought.

And dragons, as a rule, made much better companions than any person could.

"Sybil?"

"In here, Sam."

Of course, there always was an exception to any rule.

Chapter Text

It was like nothing else that had come before, and it would be like nothing else that could come after. It was home and Odo basked in that.

The cool wash of a thousand minds brushed up against him, ebbed away, cradled him. He felt their love, the pain of having caused his illness, the horror at his actions,

You have harmed another Changeling

Anger, red and harsh.

Sadness, so dark a blue as to be black.

Regret, a pale purple.

An explanation --- that the solids didn't all think alike, that there were some who had harbored no distrust for the changelings until the changelings had planted it within them. That, in the absence of others of his kind, the solids had become his family.

Confusion rippled through the Great Link.

They didn't understand his trust.

He wished he didn't understand their fear.

Chapter Text

Harry's tears tasted like home -- familiar pain, hot and salty. Tom kissed the tears away, but it just made Harry cry more.

"What's wrong?"

"Why?" The question was a sob, the word almost too soft to be heard. Tom almost wished he hadn't heard, because Harry sounded so lost, so lonely, and it made Tom ache in sympathy.

"Shh." Tom cupped Harry's face, kissed him gently. "Don't think."

Harry opened his mouth, as if he were going to speak again, and Tom kissed him harder, tugged at the zipper on his uniform. The sound it made as he slid it down was startling loud. Tom peeled the uniform off of Harry; he felt Harry's heart beating beneath his hands.

It was surprisingly strong for something so broken.

Harry's sweat tasted different from his tears, but when he cried out in pleasure it was just a jagged as his sobs.

"Why?" he asked again, voice uneven.

"Because I'm your friend," Tom said. "And because I love you."

Chapter Text

Berkeley wasn't quite sure how he managed to get into this position. Well, no, he knew exactly how he'd ended in this position, since it was quite a simple physical process. Lou had given him a little push and the back of his knees had hit the edge of the bed and then, well, he kind of lost track of the specifics after that. All he was sure of was the way his body was responding to the touch of Lou's hands and feeling of Lou's mouth on his cock and the way Lou's hair slid between his fingers, some of the strands catching on the ridges of his fingerprints.

What he wasn't sure of was how he'd managed to be in the position where he could be pushed down on the bed in the first place.

Not that he was complaining, mind. It was just that he hated mysteries.

"Are you ready?" Lou said. Something chilly and slick brushed up against Berkeley's ass.

Berkeley nodded, not trusting voice. Lou pressed forward, and Berkeley decided that this was one mystery that could wait to be solved.

Chapter Text

Ryu burned like wildfire, and when he loved it was with the same wild devastation as a wildfire--burning, consuming everything in his path. He ran rampant across his lovers and try as they might none could last for very long in the heat of his passion.

Seiji, though, was different. Where Ryu blazed, Seiji smoldered, slow and long lasting. Like green wood thrown on a fire, he tempered the flames. And no matter how fiercely Ryu burned, Seiji refused to be consumed.

Ryu watched Seiji sleep, stared long and hard into his peaceful, slumbering face. He saw none of the ravages that love had left on his other partners. And he smiled, content.

Chapter Text

"What happened to your boot?"

"What?"

"What happened to your boot?"

"I'd rather not say."

"Whaddya mean? Benny, you've got bite marks in the leather."

"I know, Ray."

"Bite marks and drool, Benny. Come on. What gives?"

"It's just—"

"Yeah?"

"Well, Diefenbaker was—"

"Yeah?"

"Well let's just say there was a series of unfortunate events involving a dumpster, two pounds of prime ground beef, and a very important piece of consulate business and that as the end result, Diefenbaker somehow got the mistaken impression that my boot was a caribou."

"A caribou."

"It's a perfectly reasonable mistake."

"He thought your boot was a caribou."

"Yes Ray."

"Y'know, at some point, you'd think I'd learn not to ask about these kinds of things."

"Well, yes Ray. I suppose you would."

Chapter Text

"You're doing it wrong."

"Dad."

"You're doing it wrong."

"Dad, I think I know how to track a suspect."

"And it's quite obvious you don't because you're doing it wrong."

"Dad, I have done this before."

"Fine, fine. Don't listen to me. Just because I was the best of the best…"

"I am quite capable of doing this on my own."

"Hmm."

"Could you please stop that?"

"What?"

"That!"

"Son, I honestly have no idea what you're talking about."

"Oh. Well. My apologies."

"Hmm."

"There!"

"What?"

"You did it again!"

"Did what again?"

"Made that noise! That 'hmm' noise!"

"I was just clearing my throat."

"Dad. You're dead. You don't need to clear your throat any more."

"Ah. Yes. Well."

"Oh and don't give me that look."

"What look?"

"Not you, Diefenbaker."

"Oh."

"He thinks I'm on the wrong trail."

"Well he's right."

"Dad."

"Well. He is."

Chapter Text

It was all about the feeling of air rushing beneath your feet, feeling it whistling past your ears, tugging at your hair. That was what drew them together, the appreciation for soaring, unencumbered, through the clear, blue sky.

Hank leapt and at the peak of his jump, he felt Warren's arms wrap themselves around his waist and pull him higher into the sky. He felt the strain of Warren's wings, heard the rhythmic, soothing sound of air being pushed down. The ground dropped away, the mansion grew smaller and smaller.

"Emulating Icarus are we?"

"Don't worry. My wings aren't going to melt." Warren was going for glib, but Hank could hear him gasping, just a little. "Now stop squirming, or I'll drop you."

Hank laughed, and they rose higher.

Chapter Text

"So I'm thinking about getting contacts," Daniel said, completely out of the blue.

Jack finished his visual sweep of the area before squatting down beside him. "Contacts, huh?"

"Yeah."

Jack pushed Daniel's glasses back up his nose. "Nah. I think these work just fine."