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Jan. 1st, 2025 12:21 am
omnicat: (Default)
( Masterlist of Gundam Wing Fanfiction )

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.hack//SIGN, Avatar: the Last Airbender, Being Human (UK), Canaan, Clamp School Defenders Duklyon, Code Geass, Darker than BLACK, Death Gate Cycle (Weis & Hickman), Enderverse (Orson Scott Card), Fate / Stay Night, Final Fantasy X, Four Brothers, G Gundam, Gundam 00, Gundam - Universal Century, Hard Times (Charles Dickens), Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling), Inception, Inheritance Cycle (Christopher Paolini), Izetta: the Last Witch, Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien), The Mortal Instruments & The Infernal Devices (Cassandra Clare), My-HiME & My-Otome, Neo Angelique ~Abyss~, Once Upon A Time, Pokémon, Prétear, Ranma ½, Star Wars, Teknoman & Tekkaman Blade II, Tron ’verse, Voltron: Legendary Defender, Whip It, Witch Hunter Robin )

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.hack//SIGN, Avatar: de Laatste Luchtmeester, Code Geass, Darker than BLACK, Dragonball Z, Ender serie (Orson Scott Card), Erfgoed Cyclus (Christopher Paolini), Four Brothers, G Gundam, Gundam 00, Gundam Wing, Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling), In de Ban van de Ring (J.R.R. Tolkien), Moeilijke Tijden (Charles Dickens), My-HiME & My-Otome, Neo Angelique ~Abyss~, Pokémon, Poort des Doods Cyclus (Weis & Hickman), Prétear, Ranma ½, Teknoman, Tekkaman Blade II, Witch Hunter Robin, Zeta Gundam )
omnicat: (for the MCU)
Title: Watch Those Icicles Form
Author: Omnicat
Spoilers & Desirable Foreknowledge: MCU’s Thor and Thor-related movies.
Warnings: None.
Characters & Relationships: Loki x Jane
Summary: Jane goes to bed warm and cozy and wakes up to the sound of her own chattering teeth. // 1350 words
Author’s Note:
Written for keydav/Mo_Eckles in the Lokane Christmas Gift Exchange 2018. Enjoy!

Watch Those Icicles Form )
omnicat: (Default)
All those uncut fics shouldn't show up on reading pages. I'll get to fixing them up eventually.
omnicat: (Default)
Title: Brother Pinocchio
Author: Omnicat
Spoilers & Desirable Foreknowledge: Voltron: Legendary Defender seasons 1 through 7
Warnings: Canon-typical.
Characters & Relationships: Shiro & Black & Kuron
Summary: The Black Lion has a very familiar surprise for Shiro. // a post-canon Kuron fix-it AU // 2181 words
Author’s Note: #JUSTICE FOR KURON :C

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Brother Pinocchio
“What is that lion doing?”
“Yeah, what’s it got in its mouth?”
“Should we call someone?”
“Like who? The police? ‘Excuse me, officer, but I think one of those building-sized lion mechs that saved the world just stole a shipping container. Could you please come give it a stern talking-to?’”
“No, its Paladin, duh.”
“Shouldn’t the Paladin already be in the lion?”
“That’s not what I heard. They say these things sometimes just wander off on their own.”
“Guys, come on, it’s clearly just helping someone out by moving some supplies.”
“These are ancient noble alien war machines, dude, they wouldn’t lower themselves to the level of a cargo pilot.”
“If it’s trying to help, someone should probably tell it not to gnaw on the containers and leave a trail of blankets and bed rolls everywhere.”
“...”
“...”
“...”
“I’m not telling it that.”
“How about we call Commander Shiro so he can handle it.”
“Good idea.”

“Hey, Black old buddy, whatcha doing?” Shiro called out as he crossed the massive, empty spaceship hangar at a light jog. The Black Lion was fussing with something in the corner furthest from any of the ground entrances. She looked up at the sound of his voice and, inexplicably, growled and raised her particle barrier.
Shiro’s stride faltered. Then he sped up.
“Black, what’s the matter?” he asked, coming to a stop at in front of the barrier. “Is something wrong?”
WAIT, she impressed on his mind in feelings rather than words, so suddenly and pointedly it made his head spin.
“Wait?” he repeated, clutching his head as he tried to catch a glimpse of anything but Black’s wriggling back end. “You mean, for you to finish whatever it is you’re doing there?”
YES, she thought back, pleased and thankfully less overwhelming. MINE. YOU WAIT.
“Uh. Okay. I’ll wait.”
Shiro lowered himself to the ground and settled in to wait. Off to the side, he could see the shipping container the cadets had told him about, torn open and spilling vacuum-sealed bedding everywhere. Every so often, the Black Lion would swipe up a pawful of pillows and blankets and thin mattresses. The sounds of tearing plastic would follow, and the occasional rip of fabric. From the way Black raised her paw in the air and started irritably shaking it until a mauled blanket detached from her claw and fluttered away, Shiro assumed the latter was not intentional.
Eventually, Black sat up, her head almost brushing the top of the barrier. She inspected her handiwork and, purring for all she was worth, curled up around it. Then and only then did she lower the particle barrier.
COME SEE. COME GREET, she urged. And, with immense pride and affection: SHIRO. MINE.
His first, absurd thought was that Black had had kittens.
His second, once he’d successfully navigated to the top of the pile of slippery plastic packaging and barely better bed linens and caught sight of what she was so happy about, was a very long, very not-proud and not-affectionate scream. For a moment his brain refused to process what he was seeing. But then he was filled with the horrible, and horribly familiar, phantom sensation of his mind coming unstuck from his body.
“What. Is that?” he forced out.
SHIRO.
“Yes, I can see it’s me!” he burst out. “Where did you get it? Where the hell did it come from?!”
Black’s head had only the one point of articulation of her jaws, but between the ominous growl that was starting to build and the way her eyes lit up, Shiro got the distinct impression of a pissed-off glare.
HE, she thought at him, creating words in his mind more clearly than he could remember her ever doing before. NOT IT. NOT THING. PERSON.
Black clearly had half a mind to swat him away from her prize and lock him out of her particle barrier again if this was going to be his attitude. That, more than anything, brought him back to himself.
In front of him, packed snugly (almost suffocatingly) in the nest Black had built for it, lay his own, original body. It seemed to be deep asleep, and the faintest hint of a blue glow surrounded it. Shiro knew instinctively that it was his. It had his hair, his Paladin suit, and his prosthetic arm from the day he’d died. But it was more than that. There was a connection, a familiarity, an acceptance of its features somewhere deep inside that he’d never quite managed to reach when seeing his own face on camera. He knew, somehow, that this was not him anymore, but that nonetheless he’d known this thing – this man – all his life.
But if the body wasn’t for Shiro, and the Black Lion was so delighted with and fond of it, and wanted him to call it a ‘he’, who was it?
“Who is he?” Shiro whispered.
Black nudged an image into his head of his own face, smiling valiantly through the strain of fear and confusion and exhaustion, his bangs just a smidgen too short and his undercut gone.
“The clone,” Shiro realized, chest constricting. The creature who took his place and nearly killed his team. “But –”
SHHH, Black thought, with the feeling of a nudge of a furred nose against his cheek. MINE. SAFE. FREE. GOOD. LIKE YOU.
She showed him her perspective on the memories he had inherited from the clone’s time posing as him when he took over its body. How the clone’s heart had called out to her and the others in its time of need, as clear and true as Shiro’s own; how the clone had done all the right things and felt all the right feelings; but how something the clone couldn’t explain had always niggled at the back of his mind, some subtle wrongness in the world or his body or perhaps in just his mind, and he’d increasingly started to wonder if this was combat stress taking its toll or something else; how he had tried so hard to be the right person, to be a Paladin.
She showed Shiro the hollowness at the heart of the poor, ignorant fool. No soul, somehow. Deliberately isolated from the cosmic tapestry by Haggar’s malevolence. Where his own connection to life and the world and the quintessence of the universe should have been, had sat a gaping hole, empty despite all his desperate efforts to be a real boy. Empty – until Haggar reached into that mockery of the core of him and filled the void with her will instead, overriding everything that had so tenuously made him him.
All along, that emptiness had been the keyhole Haggar built in to grant herself access and unlock her purpose for him. His body and mind, his very existence, had been nothing but an animated glove waiting for her to slip her commands into.
“Stop,” Shiro gasped. “I don’t want this. Stop, please.”
He – they – didn’t remember it this way. For all the agony of the transition from mostly-Shiro to the witch’s puppet, Haggar’s sick, twisted corruption flooding his being hadn’t felt like such a bone-deep violation from where they’d sat. It had felt natural. Almost like a relief, in the end. An end to the everlasting, futile struggle of being Shiro, to the instinctive but incomprehensible search for that indefinable thing they were missing.
But he realized now that Haggar hadn’t been what they’d been missing. Haggar had only made it so there was no them left to miss anything.
Everything Shiro had thought he’d known about the clone was suddenly turned on its head.
It wasn’t his enemy. It had never been his enemy. The clone was just as much a victim of Haggar’s perversion as Shiro himself had been. Haggar had given him life, but in the process stolen everything that should have meant from him.
Purring soothingly, Black pressed her safe, grounding presence into Shiro’s mind until his breathing slowed and he found his strength and his calm again.
LIKE YOU, she repeated. MINE. NO LONGER HAGGAR’S. TRULY MINE NOW.
Shiro looked down at his sleeping double and then up at Black in wonder. “What did you do?”
Black and the clone flying together, their minds melding together into a single being. Quantum entangled. One entity existing in two places at once. Two entities simultaneously taking up the same space. The Lion-Paladin bond at its finest, just as Black and Shiro’s had been. Throughout everything, she had kept some aspect of both of them safe within herself, and when Haggar had torn the clone apart and away from her, Black had preserved the man he had been however she could.
She had gathered the tattered pieces of his being together inside herself and infused him with her life and her love. Had given him a safe place to heal and rest – and, without Haggar’s foul, inhibiting influence, gestate the soul that always should have been his.
“You gave him what he was missing,” Shiro realized. “His own place in the universe.”
The Black Lion purred again and laid her head on her paws to watch the two of them to her heart’s content.
Life Giver, Shiro thought, looking down at his – at the other Shiro. She’s made you a real boy.
“The body, though. Where’d you get my old body? I thought I died and it... I don’t know, disintegrated during the teleportation or something,” he said.
Black cocked her head, as if surprised the answer wasn’t obvious to him.
Another procession of images, this time in a cartoonish style full of chibis and speech bubbles that made him wonder if the Lions had somehow started watching television or if she’d plucked the concept from his childhood memories:
Shiro versus Zarkon, and Shiro pulling off a magnificent first teleportation only to go up in a puff of smoke. Black catching the floating dust that had once been his body with a bug-catching net and storing it safely in her metaphorical pocket, unsure of how to reverse the consequences of this odd glitch, exactly, but knowing she would need his physical matter to do so. Keith wandering around calling his name. Black meowing and pawing at Keith’s jacket to get his attention, only for Keith to put his hands over his ears.
Keith finally ready to bond with Black and listen to what she had to say, only for the other Shiro to pop up out of nowhere. Haggar peeking around a tree with a stethoscope topped by a radar dish. Black looking from incorporeal Shiro on one side of her to clone Shiro on her other side, unsure of what she could do about the situation without alerting Haggar of the first Shiro’s continued existence. A bubble depicting her imagined scenario of dangling the first Shiro in front of the team by the scruff of his neck, only for the other Shiro to short-circuit, start glowing purple from every orifice, and attack them all.
Haggar wrapping the other Shiro in puppet strings and making him attack the team anyway. The other Shiro, just as incorporeal as the first Shiro now, but curled up with his arms over his head, all bloody and bruised and banged up, clearly in no shape to rejoin the fight for a while. Allura lowering a fishing rod through an open panel in Black’s head, and Black taking in the battered second Shiro while hanging the first Shiro on Allura’s hook to be revived. An extra chibified second Shiro swathed in bandages and nursing from Black’s nipple like a kitten (an image Shiro really could have done without) while first Shiro and the rest of the team defeated Haggar and eliminated her sinister influence once and for all. Everybody going home to relax. Black basking in the Earth’s sun, happily tapping away at a calculator.
And then, finally: Black horking up the new Shiro like a hairball.
Shiro stared. “Please tell me you didn’t mean that as literally as you seemed to mean it.”
Black radiated innocence.
“Oh, geeze.”
He felt a little bad about it, but he could only laugh. Laughing about it was better than the alternative.
Trying to put names to the different Shiros in Black’s story had made him think of something, though. He was sure the team wouldn’t have an issue with the other guy once Shiro explained the reality of the situation, and the Black Lion’s involvement, but having two Shiros around would be confusing. And it had only taken coming face to sleeping face with him, and this one conversation with Black, for Shiro to decide he wanted this guy to stick around. It was like finally meeting the stillborn twin brother he’d never gotten to have.
...oh. The twin brother he never got to have, huh?
RYOU, Black agreed.
“I wonder if he’d like that,” he murmured.
Shiro knew he would have liked it, but this guy wasn’t him anymore, was he? He was well and truly his own person now.
“Will he wake up soon?”
SOON, Black confirmed.
Shiro couldn’t wait to meet him.
omnicat: (for Star Wars)
Title: Counting Banthas
Author: Omnicat
Spoilers & Desirable Foreknowledge: J.J. Abrams & co’s Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens and Rian Johnson & co’s Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.
Warnings: None.
Characters & Relationships: Rey x Ben
Summary: The Force arranges a sleepover and Rey and Ben just have to deal. Gee, thanks, Force. // 1238 words
Author’s Note: Enjoy!

Counting Banthas )
omnicat: (Default)
Title: From Romania
Author: Omnicat
Spoilers & Desirable Foreknowledge: Thor, Thor: the Dark World, Captain America: the First Avenger, Captain America: the Winter Soldier, and Captain America: Civil War.
Warnings: None.
Characters & Relationships: Bucky x Jane & Darcy
Summary: Jane brought home another dodgy homeless bodybuilder. Darcy should probably... uh... she could’ve sworn there was a thought that didn’t involve ogling the guy there just a second ago... // 756 words
Author’s Note: Not Civil War-compliant. Enjoy!

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From Romania
It was a bright, sunny December afternoon promising to turn into a clear, moonlit December night. In other words, it was freezing-your-butt off cold and only about to get worse. Or in yet other words, a typical Jane Foster workday. Darcy wished she’d had someone to bet with about whether Jane had thought to prepare her new intern for the working conditions. Easy money, right there.
With her cardboard take-away tray of coffee cups, fur-lined boots, and three layers of clothing per body part, she made her way through the long grass to where Jane’s equipment was set up on a collection of tarps. She was greeted by the sounds of humming generators and Jane calling out instructions.
“Hey, Jane,” Darcy said, coming up behind. “Welcome back to the homeland.”
“Darcy!” Jane cried out joyfully, which was how Darcy knew what she really meant was ‘coffee!’. Jane snatched up one of the cups, and a witty remark was about to come rolling off Darcy’s tongue when she caught sight of the new hire and froze in her tracks.
“Holy cow, who’s the new homeless hunk?”
Jane only scowled a little at her volume, maybe because she’d gotten used to such outbursts over time, or maybe because she was already halfway through her coffee.
“My new intern. Darcy, meet Bucky,” she said once she was breathing again, and raised her voice. “Hey Bucky, this is Darcy, the other intern. Say hi.”
“Hi.” Bucky came up to them, took a coffee, nodded his thanks, and promptly went back to connecting cables. Not much of a chatterbox, apparently.
“Hi yourself,” Darcy drawled at his backside. She lowered her voice in that way that required no actual lowering of her voice. “Where did you find this guy?”
“Romania.”
Darcy had a record scratch moment.
“Romania?” She tore her eyes away from Bucky. “When were you in Romania? I thought you were visiting your mom.”
For all that Jane’s voice had been light and airy, she had been staring too. Now, not anymore, her eyes darting furtively. “Uh...”
“Why were you in Romania.”
“Sightseeing,” Jane said. It was only barely not a question. “Trip within a trip. Mom’s idea.”
“What’s there to sightsee in Romania?”
“Him.”
“...yeah, okay, that’s fair.”
This man had shoulders like an ox and really nice hobo hair. He was no Thor, but short of any more sufficiently advanced god-like aliens, he was definitely a worthy substitute. Why had she cared where Jane had gotten him from again?
“And very clear skies,” Jane added.
“No, it’s okay, that was plenty.”
“Dracula’s castle,” Jane went on doggedly.
Darcy frowned. “Dracula lived in Transylvania.”
“Transylvania is in Romania.”
“Wait, really? I always thought Transylvania was fake, like Narnia.”
“Nope,” Jane said, and grabbed her second coffee.
“Huh,” Darcy said, thoroughly distracted from anything that wasn’t the way that guy’s biceps strained against his lab coat. “Neat.”
Jane bent over a laptop whirring away on a nearby table while Darcy watched Bucky work. Jane seemed nervous about something – ooh, maybe she hadn’t been to Romania at all, maybe he was a mail-order groom she’d ordered on a whim, obviously both countries being in the EU made shipping between Romania and England super fast – but relaxed eventually. Bucky didn’t seem to tire or feel the cold, even when the sun dipped fully below the horizon. He just kept on bending over, and lifting things up, and obeying every word Jane said, and generally being hotter than a portable heater on a midnight in December.
“Hey, Jane?” Darcy said after a while. “Why’s the new intern wearing a lab coat?”
Jane didn’t even bother looking up. “Because he’s a professional.”
“You don’t make me wear a lab coat.”
“He’s more professional than you.”
Darcy made a wounded noise. Then she thought of something. “You don’t make you wear a lab coat. We study space and wavelength particles, there’s no point. Your words.”
“He’s more professional than me,” Jane claimed, perfectly straight-faced.
“...okay. Hey, Jane?”
“Yes, Darcy,” she sighed.
“Why’s the new intern wearing glasses he clearly doesn’t need?”
As if on cue, Bucky took them off to read the label on a box.
“To look smarter. I hired him for his looks.”
Darcy honestly couldn’t tell anymore if Jane was joking or not. The poker face was too strong.
“Do you think I look smart?” she asked.
“No.”
“Wow. Thanks.”
“He doesn’t either, it’s just for effect.”
“But... if the effect doesn’t work...”
“Don’t overthink it.”
Darcy was only too happy not to.
omnicat: (Default)
Title: Partial Remission
Author: Omnicat
Spoilers & Desirable Foreknowledge: Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man and Ant-Man and the Wasp
Warnings: Canon-typical.
Characters & Relationships: Ava & Bill
Summary: Ava thought she was cured. Realizing it’s not that simple does a number on her. // 1534 words
Author’s Note: Written for rosecake in the 2018 Trick or Treat Exchange on AO3. Enjoy!

II-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-I-oOo-I-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-II

Partial Remission
“Not everyone has an ulterior motive,” Bill insisted, as kindly as anyone could, their umpteenth time saying the same thing.
“You’ll forgive me for assuming otherwise,” Ava snapped. Part of her felt bad for taking such a tone with him, of all people, but it was a distant feeling, drowned out by a swelling tide of what might well be panic. She couldn’t go back. She’d thought it had been bad before, but now that she once again knew what life could be like without it? The very thought was unbearable. It would kill her to have to return to how things had been.
The pain was coming back. Faintly, slowly, but it was back, creeping like a shadow. When she concentrated, she could bring her body out of phase again. Perhaps she had never lost the ability; she’d been so relieved to think she was cured, to think she’d never fall out of synch with the world around her without meaning to again, she hadn’t bothered to check.
If things went back to the way they had been, it would kill her, period.
Ava resumed pacing the length of the living room, shoulders tight and breathing forcefully even.
“I understand that, of course I do,” Bill went on to her retreating back. “But what could she possibly want from you? She’s been trapped in the quantum realm for years and only met you a couple of months ago.”
It would kill her, or do something so much worse she barely dared contemplate the possibilities. And there was only person she could turn to for help or answers.
“That’s the question, isn’t it?” Ava said, turning and striding back. “Her time there might have given her an insight into quantum states or quantum whatever that we don’t have. She could think or want anything of me, and we’d never know.”
Turn. Walk away.
“She saved your life as soon as she reemerged,” Bill pointed out.
Ava whirled on him. “I’d just tried to kill her! Survival instinct trumps rational thinking, it makes people do stupid things. I’ve seen it countless times.”
Bill opened his mouth to protest. And he didn’t look disgusted or reproachful or frightened, which would have been bad enough. No, he looked pitying.
Look at how life has warped you, that look seemed to say. You sorry, twisted thing.
“Besides, that was then, this is now,” she cut in before he could speak, resuming her march toward the far end of the room. “We don’t know what might have changed.”
Even aside from all the otherworldly epiphanies that might have happened or yet be waiting to happen, the woman could have a change of heart, as simple as that. Decide that someone like Ava was too dangerous to be allowed to live, or needed to be kept on a leash – like SHIELD had done. There was no telling what might happen if Ava and Bill ever contacted the others again.
Bill sighed, swallowing whatever he had initially meant to say. “You don’t know Janet, Ava. She wouldn’t –”
“Don’t be so naive!” Ava burst out. “The Janet van Dyne you knew might not have, but she’s not that person anymore! She was trapped down there for almost twenty years, alone. Alien in an inhuman world. With no-one to rely on but herself.” Eyes going unfocused, she buried her hands in her hair. “Fighting to survive. Fighting to stay sane through fear and hardship you never even imagined could exist. Fighting to keep feeling human, like your very soul isn’t falling apart.”
Did Janet intend for this to happen? Had she done it on purpose, to bind Ava to her? Or had her power failed? Had it worked as well as it could, and was this simply an inevitable part of it? Would Ava need a limited number of doses of quantum realm energy before she was permanently cured? Would she be reliant on Janet’s willingness to infuse her over and over again for the rest of her life? Was Ava’s lifespan limited to Janet’s now, through availability or else some unknowable quantum vagary? Or was what Janet had done merely another band-aid? Would Ava need a new hit sooner and sooner every time, until even Janet’s miraculous intervention could no longer save her? How long would that give her? How much pain would it take to last through all that?
And then that awful, eternal question: would the pain stop when she died? Would it even truly be death?
So many unknowns. So many questions. Was there any way to find answers to them? Would there ever be? Would it ever be enough to save her?
“Oh, Ava,” Bill said, heartbreak in every syllable.
It felt like the tears came out of nowhere. Mortified, she slapped a hand over her mouth to stifle a sob, but to no avail. In a childish impulse, she looked to Bill for an explanation. But all he had to offer her was more sympathy. He crossed the living room, wrapped an arm around her shoulders, and led her to the couch to sit beside him. She gave up. Hiding her face in her hands, she let the crying happen. Bill rubbed her back all through it.
“I want to trust her, but I can’t,” she choked out. “I just can’t. I know too well what such a struggle can drive a person to.”
“I know,” Bill soothed. “I know. But Ava, I also know that you don’t give yourself enough credit. You survived. Through misfortune, sabotage, and more pain than I can imagine. You –”
She let out a watery laugh. “I don’t think that pep talk is going to have the desired effect today, Bill.” She wiped her face on her sleeve. “Can you... can you just hold me?”
“Of course, sweetie,” he said, and did just that.
More tears spilled as she blinked rapidly over his shoulder, overcome with feelings she had no words for. She had learned so many awful things in her life. But when it came to the good, how far had she ever gotten, really?
“I’m just so scared,” she said. “I thought it was over, that I was free. I don’t want it to go back to the way it was. To what I was. Not just the pain and the uncertainty, the killing. Hurting other people.”
The worst question, even worse than the ones about her own possible death or worse was: would healing herself require killing Janet after all?
Bill held her more tightly. She gasped, her lungs constricting, but pressed her face to his shoulder and clutched him back nonetheless, looking for even more. How long ago had it been since she’d last been able to have this? Since the last time prolonged, forceful contact with the physical world did not illicit an automatic phasing instinct in her damaged cells that she had to fight to suppress? Since her father – either of them – had been able to simply hug her?
“Nobody will ever make such demands of you again,” Bill promised, a growl in his voice. It sent a chill down her spine, because that sound meant he meant it, he was really serious. “Never.”
“Everything feels so much more real somehow, without the pain, without having to fight the phasing. It’s overwhelming. Like I’ve forgotten how to actually exist. How to be a normal person.”
He let up a bit to caress her hair. “You’ll get the hang of it again, Ava, I promise. I’ll help you. Are you worried I have ulterior motives for helping you too?”
“No!” She rubbed a new swell of tears away against his shoulder. “Never.”
“Then hold onto that, okay?” he said gently. “Think of that knowledge as a quantum chamber: a crutch to lean on until this passes.”
“I don’t know how I’ll ever repay you.”
“You don’t have to. I’m not SHIELD. I love you. I’m here for you.”
Ava closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and let that wash over her. Like a balm. Like cool, fresh air after too long wearing that horrible mask, doing horrible things. Like – like the energy Janet had passed into her.
“You’re here. And so is Janet,” she said eventually.
“Yes, she is.”
She sat up and wiped her nose. “I know. I’m sorry. I don’t know why I’m like this all of a sudden. All my problems were solved, I should be doing better now.”
“There is no ‘should’. You finally have room in your life and your head for something other than survival. You’re decompressing, starting to process things. It’s normal,” Bill said.
That got a smile out of her. Faint and crooked, but sincere.
“Hitting the psychology department’s bookshelves again, are you?”
“You could try them sometime,” he said, smiling back. “Absolutely no ulterior motives there.”
Ava rubbed the side of her face. “So this weepiness, it’s going to stop? Now that I might be getting sick again?”
“Who knows. Anything could happen. In your head and the rest of your body.” Laying his hand over hers, he turned serious. “We have to call them, Ava.”
“Yeah,” she said, taking a deep breath. “Alright.”
omnicat: (Default)
Title: Sing Your Sweet Song, Little Birdie
Author: Omnicat
Spoilers & Desirable Foreknowledge: Teknoman
Warnings: None.
Characters & Relationships: Mac & Maggie & Galt & Pegas & Dagger
Summary: In which there are problems in Blade’s pants, the government, and soon to be in Pegas’s circuitry too. // 522 words
Author’s Note: Enjoy!

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Sing Your Sweet Song, Little Birdie
Staring out through the dimly lit hangar, Mac stroked his mustache, deep in thought. “So, General Galt wants to study our Pegas, I hear?”
“With Blade’s crystal inside. And he wouldn’t take no for an answer,” Maggie confirmed, arms crossed and scowling. “Blade put his foot down and refused to be ‘requisitioned’ for research himself, but that’s all Galt would give us. Blade’s gonna have a great few weeks camping out in the bushes near Galt’s base so we’re not left entirely unprepared in case of a new attack.”
“Is Star going with him?” Mac asked, glancing over with a smirk.
Maggie’s shoulders slumped and she sighed as if dispelling an entire atmosphere of disappointment. “Yes, but he’s so dense, I’m starting to give up hope that they’ll ever get on with it.”
“Ah, lassie, any opportunity is still an opportunity.”
“I might as well go back to hitting on that dunce myself! Which would be a terrible idea. Look, Mac, a lot of work’s gone into making me the woman I am today, and I can’t guarantee that if Star doesn’t just lay one on him or flash him one day, I won’t. I’ve got a lot to be proud of and only so much self-control to spare.”
With a huff and a scrape of his throat, Mac waved a hand as if to physically dismiss that idea. “I appreciate the sentiment, but let’s not overload that poor lad’s addled brains, shall we? We’ve got bigger things to worry about, anyway.”
Sobering, Mac looked up again – at Pegas. Mood darkening, Maggie’s eyes followed his line of sight.
“I have an idea,” she said. “But technically speaking, I’ll have to sabotage Pegas to pull it off.”
“Huh? What are you thinking?”
“We’ll give Galt Pegas,” she said, shooting him a wicked, brilliant grin. “And Pegas will sing those same two stanzas he learned of ‘Bold Soldier Boy’ without pause until Galt gives him back.”
Mac stared until, as if of its own accord, a chuckle escaped him, and soon turned into a delighted belly-laugh. “Maggie, you are a genius. Let’s do it! What do you say, Pegas?”
“LET’S DO IT,” the robot intoned in a gleeful monotone.

In the afterlife, specifically the not quite austere but also not entirely cozy processing facility for fringe cases like ‘I was brainwashed to be evil by an alien parasite that entered into a symbiotic relationship with me against my will, uniting us in death as we were in life’, the entity alternately known to himself as Dagger and Fritz munched on a bag of afterlife-popcorn. It wasn’t stale, but it came from the afterlife equivalent of a supermarket, and thus wasn’t freshly popped either. It was thoroughly mediocre, like everything else at Purgatory Station.
“There is no part of me that does not love this development,” he sighed in vindictive contentment.
Somewhere, the overworked moral arbiters his human half’s Christian upbringing had landed him with after death shrieked in frustration. They were trying to build a case for judging the human and the Venomoid separately here! But fast-forwarding the Earth View TV to the look on Galt’s face three days into his possession of Pegas made every delay of his soul’s processing worth it.
omnicat: (Default)
Title: Walk Walk Halloween Baby
Author: Omnicat
Spoilers & Desirable Foreknowledge: Avengers Academy
Warnings: None.
Characters & Relationships: Loki & Natasha & Bucky & Satana & a bunch of others mentioned
Summary: Loki plays fashion police at the Academy Halloween party, as you do. // 581 words
Author’s Note: Written for Meatball42 in the 2018 Trick or Treat Exchange on AO3. Enjoy!

II-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-I-oOo-I-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-II

Walk Walk Halloween Baby
“Enchantress, as usual, has outdone everyone else in material extravagance while utterly missing the mark when it comes to class,” Loki narrated to himself, his microphone floating at a strategically jaunty angle as he leaned on Club A’s bar and sipped his cocktail. “Displaying more teamwork and humor than seemed possible for someone of his disposition, the Thor who is my brother has coordinated with the Thor who is not my sister to depict a pair of vaguely-incestuous long lost twins from a popular media property too disgustingly mainstream to name here. The Thor who is neither of the aforementioned, meanwhile, seems to have swapped wardrobes with Peggy Carter, at which point they both called it a night. Really, people? Crossdressing was the best you could think of? Weak.”
“Who’s weak?” asked a voice coming up beside him.
Loki turned and hissed, flinching back in disgust. “Note to self: Black Widow and her shirt shall be stricken from the record. Really, Natasha, again?”
She smirked and flagged the bartender-bot. “Yes, really, again.”
“And what are you supposed to be?” Loki asked, turning to her companion.
The metal-armed variant of Bucky Barnes shrugged. “A sexy superhero.”
“Really?” With unconcealed derision, Loki let his eye wander up and down Barnes’s outfit. “You’ll need more than a fishnet shirt and a few extra rips in your jeans to qualify as ‘sexy’ in this crowd, you know.”
“I’m wearing eyeliner,” Barnes said with a perfectly straight face, and circled his eyes with a finger. “See?”
Loki actually needed a moment to lean in and squint. “No, I don’t.”
“Don’t listen to Loki,” Natasha said, handing Barnes one of the drinks she’d ordered. “He’s dressed like a buzzkill.”
As they wandered off, Barnes replied, “I don’t even remember what we were talking about.”
A ‘sick burn’ sixty years ago, Loki was sure. Forgetting all about them in return, he went back to his drink and his commentary.
“Singularity is a Christmas tree. I would be impressed if looking too closely at those lights of hers weren’t giving me vertigo. I’m not sure what Killmonger’s shirtlessness is meant to depict. Another ‘sexy superhero’? More like vampire bait. Those scars stand out like grains of rice, and Dracula is obviously losing the fight against the urge to count them. Ugh, who thought it was a good idea to let my parents play dress up? I can’t even look at this.”
Satana settled beside him at the bar. “Tough talk for someone dressed like an ice pack.”
“Now that’s just culturally insensitive.” Loki gave her a scornful once over. He didn’t even have to ask.
“Sexy superheroine.”
“How? All you did was wear white.”
“I’m wearing my own costume in white.” Satana cocked her hip, making the crease of her hipbones peeking out from the holes in the sides of her bodysuit all the more prominent. “Are you calling me not sexy?”
“I’m sure there are bellybutton lint enthusiasts out there somewhere,” Loki said sweetly.
“And I’m sure I can kick your ass,” she said. “Dance-off. Right here, right now.”
“But of course. You didn’t have to degrade yourself just for that, I’ll dance battle anyone who asks.”
And he knocked back the rest of his drink, vanished his microphone, and led the way.
He was beginning to think, though, that he should look into this ‘sexy super’ phenomenon for next year, if only so he could show everyone how it was really done.
omnicat: (Default)
Title: The Maid in the Mirror
Author: Omnicat
Spoilers & Desirable Foreknowledge: Solo: A Star Wars Story
Warnings: Canon-typical.
Characters & Relationships: Qi’ra x Enfys
Summary: The thief who steals out of necessity and the thief who steals out of desire. The righteous law-breaker and the selfish one. The sleepless killer and the warrior with a clear conscience. Two sides of the same coin, all of them. // 2213 words
Author’s Note: Written for saiditallbefore in the 2018 Trick or Treat Exchange on AO3. Enjoy!

II-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-I-oOo-I-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-II

The Maid in the Mirror
There are certain constants to Qi’ra’s life that refuse to be ignored. She thinks of them as coin-credits: two-sided and inextricably linked, all of them. There are shame and necessity, for instance; need and indignity; the things she finds herself willing to do and the things she can no longer bear to imagine after; power and disappointment; fear and ruthlessness, and calculations followed by more calculations, and more, and more, and more.
There’s also Enfys.
They met when they were both still barely more than girls, something Qi’ra is willing to admit in some circumstances and makes a point to disprove in most others. A mutilated, murdered rebel for a mother, the Silo – such things do not tolerate little girls. They demand women, warriors. Freedom fighters. Crime lords.
Sometimes, Qi’ra entertains the thought that she and Enfys form a coin too.
She departs Savareen for Dathomir, and eventually, when Maul is done with her, Dathomir for many, many other places. Enfys, Qi’ra imagines, never truly leaves her home behind, but she gets around regardless.

The next time they see each other is years later. On the other side of the bridge, that distinctive mask cocks to the side. She passes the case Qi’ra wants to another masked Cloud Rider and dismisses them with a gesture.
The vocoder renders Enfys’s voice unreadable. “We meet again.”
“We do,” Qi’ra says uselessly, because silences are only ever filled with assumptions. “How’ve you been, Enfys?”
“I haven’t destroyed any innocent lives lately. You?”
“Oh, you know, same old, same old.”
A silence falls. Qi’ra lets it. It would be good to know what Enfys fills it with, if possible.
Enfys seems content to wait out their respective underlings’ dogfight for the case. That’s fine. Qi’ra is too.
“I have the package. Cloud Rider dispatched, now headed for the rendezvous point,” crackles her comlink in the end – but not before Enfys starts walking, the loss of her line to her comrade needing no report.
She stalks toward Qi’ra radiating fury, and the low hum of her staff activating is just barely audible over the sound of running water.
“I’m disappointed, Qi’ra,” she spits in a harsh electronic rasp.
“This wasn’t my ideal outcome either,” Qi’ra admits. “But what can you do?”
“Plenty!” Enfys says, and leaps, staff raised.

“Come on, come on, come on, come on,” she grunts, screwed-shut eyes leaking and shoulders shaking. Qi’ra pulls at the torn edge of the shuttle’s wreckage until her fingers bleed and Enfys manages to claw her way out from under it.
The metal sheet drops with a sound like thunder, and Qi’ra with it, a scream trapped behind her teeth as she cradles her shredded hands to her chest. Shit. It hurts, oh it hurts. Shit, shit, shit –
“Why?”
She lifts her head. Enfys’s eyes are hard and incredulous and alarmed, darting between Qi’ra’s sweat-drenched face and bloodied blouse. Enfys’s leg is twisted behind her at an unnatural angle. Her arms, when she pushes herself up from the forest floor, quake.
“Why would you...?”
“I don’t trust that the move against the Hutts will succeed without you,” Qi’ra croaks, too wrecked to see the point in trying to spin this as altruism.
Enfys frowns. “How did you hear about that?”
“You know I can’t tell you that.”
“You know I can beat the answer out of you.”
“You can try, but you won’t.”
Enfys does not protest, just drops back down into the leaves and fists her hands in the mulch above her head.
“See if the medkit survived the crash,” she says eventually. “I’ll do your hands. You’ll need them to help me with my leg.”
Qi’ra does not insult her by asking if this means they have a truce.

“Please,” Qi’ra begs, knees in the mud and electroripper at her throat. “Just this once. He’ll kill me if you keep doing this to me.”
“I could kill you,” Enfys retorts coolly. “Either way, the galaxy would be a better place for it.”
But Enfys has a moral code and a soft heart. Crimson Dawn’s greatest advantage over the Cloud Riders is that, for all their intimidation, they have so many lines they will not cross.
“A deal,” Qi’ra proposes, knowing that Enfys is keen for it. “You give me this, and I will find a way to give you something of equal or greater value in return.”
“Such as?”
Qi’ra’s mind is racing. Debts, assets, favours owed. There are too many steps to this equation, always too many, but she can solve it. Make it work. “Prisoners. Our Imperial penitentiary facility. It doesn’t matter to us who our workforce consists of, but some of them matter to you.”
Enfys lowers her staff, just a bit. There is a terrible hunger in her eyes that Qi’ra recognizes. “What guarantee do I have that you’ll hold up your end of the bargain?”
“You know me,” Qi’ra says, putting on a faint smile. “As I know you. We’ve never been able to avoid one another for long before, have we?”
“No, we haven’t,” Enfys allows.
And, after a moment, she holds out her hand.

Laughter rings out from the cliff behind her, and Qi’ra has whirled and shot thrice before she stops to wonder who it could be that’s followed her.
Enfys lowers her shielding fans and calls out a jaunty, “You again!”
Remembering Enfys’s habits and spotting no obvious new holsters or bulges, Qi’ra allows herself to spread her hands and shrug, blaster swaying with demonstrative carelessness.
“Me again.”
“You going where I think you’re going?”
“You bet!”
Enfys takes a step back and pushes off, leaping the steep and treacherous incline and not engaging her jetpack a second sooner than she has to. Dust and dirt kick up into Qi’ra’s face, and by the time it’s safe to lower her hands, Enfys is in her personal space.
“Sorry,” she says with a smile, but she’s too close for Qi’ra to raise a blaster against without having her wrist grabbed and she doesn’t look the least bit apologetic about it.
Qi’ra smiles back, slow and appreciative. “Hi.”
“The stories say every visitor who passes the trials is granted the same reward. We are no rivals here. Shall we travel together?” Enfys says.
“I was about to ask you the same thing.”
With a lightness in her heart she had begun to forget existed, Qi’ra holds out her arm for Enfys to hook into, and they walk the dry, rustling grass until the primary sun starts to set.
“I hate rations. I can hunt us down something fresh,” Enfys suggests, eyeing the sky.
“I’ll help,” Qi’ra says.
“You’ve done that a lot?”
“You’d be surprised.”
“What did you hunt?” Enfys asks, with a grin that is all tease and no malice. Enfys’s business has been booming, rumours flying about rebels from across the galaxy calling for an alliance. Qi’ra’s business, not so much. “People?”
Qi’ra turns her expression wry. “On occasion. Though I was thinking of food.”
Andorian bred game, wild Dathomirian wood-beasts, sewer-crawlers mutated especially in the filth of Corellia’s industry, a rat-strangler that had woken her by trying to eat her first, once...
“Two mutually exclusive groups, I hope,” Enfys quips.
This time, Qi’ra’s face makes her expression for her. “So far, I’m glad to say they have been, yes,” she laughs as she catches Enfys’s eyes, and together they scare away every eared creature in earshot.

Qi’ra hasn’t worn a backless dress since Maul or bare arms since Dryden Vos, but Enfys pulls off both like she’s never done anything else. The simplicity of her gown is offset by the riot of freckles on her tan skin, the wild storm of copper curls that is her hair. Silver-white bursts behind her ears keep her field of vision clear and her pearl-shimmer gown with the high slits will seal to her legs like a catsuit with the press of a button. It’s perfect.
Enfys is perfect. A vision.
“You look nice,” Qi’ra says, settling beside her at the balcony railing with a drink in her hand and a restrained smile on over her best sabacc face.
Enfys looks at her from the corner of her eye, wary of acknowledging their mutual recognition until she realizes how openly Qi’ra is staring.
“First time pretending?” Qi’ra asks fondly.
“Yes.”
“I can hardly tell.”
Staring back openly now, Enfys’s mouth pulls into a crooked smile. “Thank you. You look like you’re in your element.”
A perfectly appropriate repartee, though one that makes Qi’ra’s stomach sink and her reflection in her mind’s eye shrink in on itself. For the briefest of moments, she wonders what she could possibly say to that. ‘Thank you, I try.’? ‘You wouldn’t think so if you knew the sewer I crawled out from.’? ‘This is all I ever dreamed of and I still don’t feel happy, or done, or safe.’?
Because she might at least learn something useful from it, she settles for: “I don’t usually?”
Enfys shrugs.
Or she might not.
“Maybe it’s that nothing’s gone wrong yet tonight,” Qi’ra jokes.
Enfys grins. “Maybe.”

“Have you ever considered how high you could rise if –” Qi’ra starts, but all it takes to stop her is a look. “Thought not.” Wiping a slow-rolling drop of blood from her chin with her shoulder, she whispers: “I have, though.”
It’s a cruel, selfish thought. She would never have entertained it if she were less certain she was done for.
“Is that supposed to be a compliment?” Enfys asks dully. Her blackened eye looks more painful the longer Qi’ra holds her gaze, her uniform more stifling.
Qi’ra smiles tiredly. “I think, if we had time for me to explain my reasoning, you would consider it one.”
But they haven’t the time. The New Republic has gotten everything it can justify to itself from Qi’ra, and Crimson Dawn has already declared their ties cut. As soon as their transport reaches its destination, Qi’ra will disappear until an opening is found for her execution.
Qi’ra is no defector or wet-behind-the-ears foot soldier with leniency to look forward to. Amidst all the thorny questions about what to do with the losing side of a civil war that tore society clean down the middle, an obvious offender like Qi’ra is a breath of fresh air.
“Thank you, then,” Enfys says simply. “And same to you.”
Qi’ra doesn’t think Enfys is very surprised when the first explosions sound outside and Qi’ra drives her own vibro-knife into her gut. Her eyes get very wide, though, when Qi’ra shucks her mag-cufs and moves to leave but makes herself turn back one last moment more to kneel, and take Enfys’s face between her hands, and kiss her, finally.
“I’m sorry,” Qi’ra tells the tears spilling from Enfys’s big brown eyes, tells the rapidly breaking heart her oldest remaining foe and greatest friend, for once, wears on her sleeve.
Then she runs.

Every good thing in Qi’ra’s life is tainted by something. Every sin and horror and violation has had something hidden inside that necessity forces her to admit, sooner or later, has helped her survive and climb.
There are few things in Qi’ra’s life that are whole unto themselves. Han was. A bright, unsullied memory of a boy who simply cared, who she never hurt beyond repair. A balm, a hope. A good deed, uncorrupted even by what came after.
Enfys isn’t – but what she and Enfys are to each other, in the end, that might be.
There are accents of silver in Qi’ra’s hair by then, and more apparatus to Enfys than just what’s built into the old mask she was never able to put aside for long.
“Enough, Qi’ra,” she pants. Her left leg clanks on the tilted bulkhead as she gets to her feet and approaches. Her tread is cautious on top of precarious, her expression a jumble of conflict. “Aren’t you tired of this?”
Qi’ra has been tired for so, so long. Fatigue was not a luxury she had ever been able to afford, but now...
Enfys holds out her hand and beseeches her. “You don’t have to die here.”
It looks like the time has come for Qi’ra to cash in all her lost sleep at once. Her limbs are heavy and her head is light. She is losing blood hand over fist – so literally so she almost wants to laugh. Where Qi’ra finds the strength to even speak, though, she will never know.
“I’ve found... the only thing that wa – washes the blood... of others... from your hands... is your own.”
Enfys’s face hardens. And then, somehow, she smiles.
“And I’ve found –” she grunts, grabbing Qi’ra’s arm and hoisting her limp weight over her shoulder. “– that if you want something and the unjust won’t give it to you, you just have to take it.”

The thief who steals out of necessity and the thief who steals out of desire. The righteous law-breaker and the selfish one. The sleepless killer and the warrior with a clear conscience. Two sides of the same coin, all of them.
But when you flip it, it spins too fast to make out which is which. And when you report a wanted woman dead while you nurse her back to health in an old bolt hole, and then retire to the Unknown Regions together, well. What could anyone do about it?
omnicat: (Default)
Title: Ein bißchen Frieden
Author: Omnicat
Spoilers & Desirable Foreknowledge: Izetta: the Last Witch
Warnings: .........
Characters & Relationships: Finé x Izetta
Summary: Absence makes the heart grow fonder. // 1839 words
Author’s Note: Written for rubylily in the 2018 Trick or Treat Exchange on AO3. Enjoy!

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Ein bißchen Frieden
They write letters, after.
Part of Izetta had been ready to leave, always the lonely nomad. Like so many times before, the village had exhausted its patience with her and turned hostile. The writing was on the wall. Time to go, and gather up the good memories to keep, and move on.
That’s not what happens, though. They write letters. As often as someone from the Royal Guard can be spared to deliver them, they write to one another. Finé contemplated installing a special phone line connecting just the two of them, but there are risks they cannot take, and being overheard is one of the most obvious ones. The telephone in the cabin is hidden in the wall, for emergencies only.
Maybe one day, Finé writes, more often than she probably realizes. Perhaps we could try it when you are not so fresh in the memory of every soul and spy in the castle, domestic and foreign...
It doesn’t matter to Izetta. The letters are already more than she ever dared hope for. Knowing the time that goes into them never fails to make her cheeks heat and her heart rise. And besides, every now and then, she can hear Finé’s voice on the radio.
Izetta worries all the time that her letters are boring and repetitive. Not much out of the ordinary ever happens in her little house by the lake. The day is beautiful, or dreary, or terrible, or simply okay. The trees are green or blooming or red-and-gold or bare. The animals of the forest live their little lives all around her, and while the dog has a thousand-and-one tricks, sometimes they all seem to boil down to the same thing when she puts them to paper. Lotte is kind and patient unless she is impatient or mischievous. Izetta’s daily pursuits in the house by the lake are simple and a little frivolous. But Finé never complains.
I like hearing about your life, she writes. I like hearing about your peace and safety and contentment. Please never think I would disparage such gifts!
Finé’ thinks her own letters are monotonous right back, though, which is just incomprehensible to Izetta.
You say every step forward into a better future and every step sideways to preserve a bit of the goodness of today must sound the same, but when I know how much work and passion you put into every decision you make, how could I think so? Izetta writes. I am so proud of you and so grateful. When I hear your thoughts about matters of state, I feel closer to you than ever.
Izetta cuts the personal bits from those letters and burns the rest. She knows Finé wouldn’t ask that of her, but it feels better that way. Finé herself refuses to take any risks with Izetta’s safety and burns everything she writes her. Statesmanship is as much an art of secrecy as witchcraft had been. The Archduchess’s most unguarded and personal thoughts about her duties are Izetta’s and Izetta’s alone.
You can tell me what’s troubling you too, always, Finé writes. In fact, please do! How could I rant and rave to you so much about our struggle to rebuild and resume fair trading with Germania if you won’t tell me when you’re bored and lonely, or a fish got away, or you’re being eaten alive by mosquitoes?
Would you tell me about her? Finé asks, too, after Izetta relayed a bit of advice from her grandmother that she hoped would aid Finé in an international dilemma. Izetta does, surprising herself with the sheer volume of what pours out. All the conflicting feelings, all the gifts and curses and mundane lessons he grandmother had left her. All the faded impressions she’s hesitant to even call memories of her parents. All the pain of leaving so much behind, so often. The way she still grieves the loss of magic in the world, no matter the anguish it had caused her all her life, no matter her conviction that it was the right thing to do. There was so much wonder and beauty in it, too. Some days she feels like only half a woman without it, in a way the loss of her legs never quite does.
Page after page after page. Izetta has Lotte and the ladies of the Royal Guard to talk to, but she’s never talked so much about herself. She closes with, Please respond in kind and save me from my embarrassment!, and surprises herself with the tears that hit the paper. But Finé grants her request, and she doesn’t cry for long.

Sometimes Finé will press a lipstick kiss to the paper, or a dab of her perfume. Once Lotte has gone to bed, Izetta wraps her blankets tightly around her shoulders and presses her nose to those letters, grinning stupidly. It’s almost as good as the real thing.
They write all the time, but Finé visits whenever she can, too. That’ll always be Izetta’s favorite. To be able to hold her hand and feel her warmth, to cook together and show her the tricks she’s taught the dog in person, to see her eyes shine when she looks at her.
“You’re more beautiful every time I see you,” Finé murmurs in greeting one time, and confesses “I think of the nights we spent together in Britannia so often,” another.
More and more as Finé’s visits add up, they give Lotte time off while they’re together. They go for walks in the woods, spread a blanket anywhere that catches their fancy, and spend hours lying next to each other, talking and smiling – and kissing.
That last one happens more easily than Izetta had always imagined, muscles freezing and throat closing up even just fantasizing about it in the safety of her own head. There’s just something about not seeing each other face-to-face for months at a time that makes her hungry.
She feels a little bad about the way she lets that fact slip, though. Finé looks so distraught when Izetta whispers, “The way you care for me is like a big, lavish banquet,” into Finé’s collarbone, hiding her burning blush and tingling lips. “I know I’m not worthy of it, but –”
“Izetta!” Finé exclaims, holding her at arm’s length with wide eyes. “You were never unworthy, and you’ll certainly never will be now, after everything you’ve done for the world. And – Izetta – I love you.” Her voice cracks. “Even if you were the worst person on the planet, I would love you. So please –”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Izetta babbles, to which Finé babbles back, “No, no, that’s not what I meant! I just! I mean!” – until their eyes meet and, as one, they burst out into breathless giggles.
“I’m sorry, I could have gone about that more elegantly,” Finé says eventually.
Izetta shakes her head and looks down at their linked hands. “I think I understand. It’s... difficult. I never thought it was strange or wrong to – to think lowly of myself. Nomads are mistrusted by so many people, grandmother and I were always the first suspects when something went wrong, we always had to hide what we were to stay safe.”
“And now I’m hiding you here,” Finé says quietly.
“I don’t mind, though,” Izetta says, brightening. Finé meets her eyes, and Izetta can’t help but smile. “You’re taking care of me. I’m here because you love me. You and Lotte and the ladies of the Royal Guard and everyone. And you think I – I’m a pretty great person, don’t you? You think I deserve... to be valued.”
Izetta blushes fiercely, but Finé nods, smiling back as brightly as the sun. “I do. Of course I do.”
“I know, and I promise I’m trying to accept it. Because I love you too.”
Finé’s eyes well up, but they are happy tears. “You do?”
“Yes,” Izetta says, and leans in to kiss her again.
“Yes,” Izetta says the next time, tilting up her chin to let Finé trail kisses down her throat, clinging to Finé’s shoulders as her hands clutch at Izetta’s sides and squeeze her hips.
“Yes,” yet later, as Finé coaxes her onto her back on the blanket. Refusing to let shame and embarrassment stand between her and Finé’s adoring gaze, she unbuttons her blouse and stifles her cries with her hand as Finé gathers up the soft spill of her breasts to kiss and lick and suck, alternating between nibbling gently at her nipples and murmuring praises and endearments into the valley of her breastbone.
“Yes,” shyly guiding Finé’s hand down her belly and below, resting against Finé’s chest in the bath. She reaches back for Finé’s cheek with the other hand, cupping her face and pressing sloppy, feverish kisses to every bit of it she can reach as Finé’s breasts slide against her back and her fingers rub between her thighs until her spine arches and she could have sworn even her senseless toes curl with the pleasure.
“Yes,” at once reluctant and eager, when Finé asks if she can have a taste of a bit of her shoulder Izetta could have sworn she’d tasted the last three times too, and Finé, merciless in her teasing and fiendish in her brilliance, softly sucks yet another mouth-sized part of Izetta into a blaze of sensitivity.
“Oh, oh! Yes, yes, oh yes, yes, Finé!” gasping and high-pitched, because Finé’s long hair is fanned out across Izetta’s splayed legs and her cheeks shine with the slick of her womanhood, and just this once she’s not just at peace with her stilled legs but glad of them, because it means she can writhe with the pleasure as much as she wants without worrying about kicking Finé in the ribs or banging her knee into her face.
And, “Yes?” whenever it’s Izetta’s turn, and Finé’s perfect lips part just like her warm body yields to allow Izetta’s fingers entrance.

Television surpasses radio and computers become ever smaller. Phones change time after time, and eventually that private line for just the two of them becomes a reality.
“When I retire, we’ll never be apart so long again,” Finé daydreams, again and again. “I’ll abdicate early. My cousin’s children are bright and kind and eager to serve. Already they take to my tutoring like fish to water. I feel confident in naming them my successors. Once one of them is in charge, I can advise them and continue to contribute remotely. We’ll be together here, or at one of the Eylstadt family’s remote estates, or anywhere you want.”
Again and again, Izetta smiles and says nothing. She didn’t have the Stone for long, but she’s sure it was long enough. She’s sure her fire will burn out long before Finé’s roaring passion for her life’s work tempers enough to let her take such a step back.

She needn’t have worried. They are never truly apart. And in the end, they have all the time together they could have dreamed of.
omnicat: (Default)
Title: Night-Blooming
Author: Omnicat
Spoilers & Desirable Foreknowledge: Marvel Studios’ Captain America: the First Avenger and Agent Carter, season one.
Warnings: Ghosts?
Characters & Relationships: Peggy & some OCs & some OC ghosts
Summary: The dreams started as September drew to a close, and they were the same every time. Variations on a theme. A woman. // 1038 words
Author’s Note: Written for rinadoll in the 2018 Trick or Treat Exchange on AO3. Enjoy!

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Night-Blooming
The dreams started as September drew to a close, and they were the same every time. Variations on a theme.
A woman: her face a forgotten interplay of light and shadows, her hair soft, her skin fragrant. The same woman every night, Peggy thought, though she could have been anyone, her features at once intimately familiar and frustratingly unknowable, like trying to tell one drop of water in a stream from another. In the dreams they would laugh and talk, their words never coalescing into meaning, and pin each other’s hair and zip each other’s dresses, hands lingering on waists, along newly-straightened hems... tracing the back of a neck, fingertips whispering behind a curtain of hair like a secret...
Most mornings, Peggy woke with her dream-woman’s taste in her mouth, her laughter in her ears, the coils of her hair slipping through her fingers like smoke. The warmth of her back fled like an illusion from Peggy’s chest and arms and sheets.
Peggy woke bereft and started her days aching for her imaginary loss.
She’d never been much of a dreamer. Sometimes, when she worked too hard, there would be snatches of paperwork, or mysteries being solved, nonsense words and puzzles that only made sense until she opened her eyes. Once in a blue moon, a dream would be a story, always cut short before it could reach a satisfying end. But she’d never quite dreamt like this.
And she’d never frozen in place in the dining hall, or whipped around as if stung, because a busty redhead’s perfume or a pretty Chinese girl’s giggling seemed to have sprung straight from the woman she saw when she slept.
It was strange. Too strange for homesickness and lingering grief alone to explain. Too strange not to get to the bottom of.
Peggy dreamt of dancing, slow and close, hands clasped and breath mingling, and told the women at the Griffith her dreams were of knitting when she asked if anyone else had any recurring ones. She dreamt of kisses, of gasping breaths and hints of warm, slick, soft tongue and the bright potential of teeth, the taste of wax and the feeling of hands on her cheeks, palms cupping and thumbs brushing, as she looked for ways to fish for the information she wanted without getting kicked out for suspected lesbianism. She asked the name and seller of the redhead’s perfume, made small talk about porkchops with the Chinese girl, and came no closer to answering the question of the imaginary woman who painted her nails and sent such delightful chills down her spine as she blew on her fingers to dry them.
She took to turning on the radio the moment she got home, looking for the snatches of song that haunted her. She trawled the public library and the SSR’s archives both for clues of something, anything going on. She wrapped her arms around herself and pretended she wasn’t too English for silly things like that.
But it wasn’t until Miss Fry was called away from the hotel for the weekend and the mice came out to play, girls distracting the replacement receptionist as their friends darted upstairs with boyfriends in tow, curfews ignored and music playing in the lobby, that it happened. Peggy’s ears perked, and she instantly lost all interest in her mail.
And from two different benches to her left, two different voices cried out, “That’s it!”
It was the redhead and the Chinese girl. It was the strangest, most wondrous thing.
Their conversation started out normal – “Do you know this song?” “I feel like I do, I just don’t remember from where.” “Me too!” – but as Peggy watched from below her eyebrows and behind a strategic shield of unread papers, their demeanor and mannerisms changed dramatically. A blush here, a stutter there. “I’m Julie, by the way. Julie Weston.” “Tina Feng. You’re on the third floor, right?” Julie bit her lip; Tina latched onto a lock of hair to fuss with. They were infatuated with one another, Peggy realized. Had been long before today, from the looks of it, but neither had had the courage to act on it.
Peggy had the peculiar feeling of being watched and watcher at the same time. As if there were unfamiliar eyes on her and Julie and Tina, but the eyes were also her own, and she almost, almost knew what they knew.
That night, she slept without dreaming for the first time in almost a month. October neared its end as something new began, and morning after morning now, Peggy woke up as alone as she’d gone to bed.
On October 31rd, though, at precisely 11:58 at night, she sat bolt upright in bed, all drowsiness having left her, and looked at her door. Not a glimpse. Not a sound. And yet something drew her from her room and out into the hallway beyond.
Two girls silently walked there, away from her, their backs to her and their hands clasped. There was something familiar and unearthly about them.
Something dreamlike.
“Oy,” Peggy said, unable to raise her voice beyond a whisper.
The girls turned their heads, but did not stop. They were any woman and every woman, and Peggy knew somehow that this was who she had seen and been in her dreams. One put a finger to her lips. Shhh. The other blew Peggy a kiss.
When they reached the end of the hall, they turned the corner fading like moonlight.
As quietly as she could, Peggy returned to bed, tears streaming down her face. How strange, she kept telling herself, how strange. But it wasn’t strange at all.
And there was no reason, she realized, for her to be lonely and starving for someone to hold any longer. There were real hands in her life too, and faces she did recognize. She could have everything the apparitions from her dreams had had, everything Julie and Tina were making for themselves. Those ghostly girls hadn’t let any of them share in their love for no reason.
Peggy wiped her tears and felt almost as though those ghostly arms wrapped around her one last time, saying you’ll be alright.
Yes, she thought. She would be.
omnicat: (Default)
Title: One Last Sun
Author: Omnicat
Spoilers & Desirable Foreknowledge: George Lucas & co’s Star Wars movies, though nothing specific except for Episode VII – The Force Awakens and Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.
Warnings: Suicide.
Characters & Relationships: Ben & Han
Summary: He is not alone, at the end of it all. It would probably have been easier if he had been. That’s why the Force does it, he’s sure. // DEATH FIC // 2002 words
Author’s Note: Written for spookykingdomstarlight in the 2018 Trick or Treat Exchange on AO3. Enjoy!

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One Last Sun
The engine room is warm and dim and in a lifetime of fighting himself, of trying to turn Light into Dark or passion into evil or what he thought he was into what he learned he ought to be until he could scarcely tell up from down, he has never encountered anything so tempting. His tongue feels thick, dry, and his eyes ache and itch. Even now, mere moments from his goal, he is fighting an almost overwhelming urge to lean his clammy forehead against the nearest metal surface and just let go of being awake. Force, he’s tired.
“I wish you were real,” he says for what feels like the hundredth time. He’s not sure he’s actually been saying it over and over and over or just thinking it.
‘There’s no evidence that I’m not,’ the ghost of his father tells him with a crooked grin.
His father has been telling him a lot of things, and he can’t remember most of it. It guts him to realize that. Dad is back, talking to him, listening to him, caring about him, and his worthless brain is too addled to take it in properly.
But he can’t remember a lot of things right now. Like when he last slept. Like how he’s managed to get here in one piece in the state he’s in. Like how much time he has.
He remembers flashes of black-clad throats, crushed, and throwing white-armored figures into the walls, and screens full of schematics blurring and doubling and dancing before his eyes, and the canyon-like bowels of the inner armory, where the most potent and terrible substances are kept. He remembers something inexplicable rising like a blister on his mind, remembers it popping, remembers meeting a second pair of eyes in his deserted chambers, remembers...
“You’re not real.”
‘Depends on your definition, I think.’
“You’re dead. How did you come back?”
‘I didn’t. Death is the end, kid. There’s no undoing it. You killed me and I’m never coming back.’
He remembers unraveling in a matter of moments.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
‘I know. I forgive you.’
“No you don’t! You can’t!”
‘Banthashit. Why not, huh?’
“Because I’m a monster. I don’t forgive me!”
‘Well, luckily for the both of us, that’s not how me forgiving you works. But you know what? I know a way you can make it up to me, if that’s what you want.’
The hole he burned through his father’s chest is still there, and every time he sees it, something new breaks inside of him. He knows that what he’s seeing isn’t real, but his mind doesn’t care. It feels like his animal brain is banging his emotional processing centers into the front of his skull and trampling on everything the Force tells him along the way.
Force, he needs sleep.
“Anything,” he remembers saying. And he hasn’t stopped thinking it since. “I’d do anything for you.”
And he thinks he remembers his father smiling like he was being murdered all over again, and reaching out to touch his face. ‘It’s only a little bit for me. It’s for you, Ben. And your mom, and that girl, and the Resistance, and the rest of the galaxy. But most of all for you. It’s what I’ve wanted for you from the moment I came looking for you.’
Of course, he doesn’t remember his father actually touching him. His father is dead. His father can’t touch anything anymore, and it’s all his fault.
“I wish you were real,” he whispers again, blinking vainly through another humiliating onslaught of tears. “I wish I hadn’t been so weak and foolish.”
But what good has wishing ever done him? It had never kept his father from leaving or his mother from being busy or his uncle from giving up on him, or made the voice in his head go away, or secured his Knights’ loyalty or his master’s approval, or kept Rey from coming to her senses and slamming the door on him. Wishing wouldn’t bring back the future she had seen, or the parents he had slain, or the promise and innocence he must have possessed once, long, long ago, as a boy untested by pain and temptation. Wishing only leaves him feeling empty and scraped raw.
‘You’re not weak, Ben,’ his father says, impossibly kind, and the rush of shame it elicits has him finally shaking himself awake and refocusing on his task. ‘You’re a lot of things, but you’ve never been weak. Foolish... eh. But hey, there are worse things in the world than –’
“Murdering your own father? Yes, I imagine being murdered by your own son would top that.”
The computer blinks an angry ‘action not authorized’ up at him. He punches in his override code, even angrier.
‘Alright, poor choice of words. But eyes on the future, okay, kiddo? You are my son and I don’t want you suffering, not even for this. You think it doesn’t get old watching you waste away?’
Now the computer is saying one of the rows of power banks isn’t connected properly. He ducks down beneath the control panel to look for the culprit connection and slap it into place.
‘Or that I wouldn’t’ve stayed far, far away from you and that lightsaber of yours if I didn’t think you were worth the risk?’ his father goes on. ‘You don’t think I came all the way back here for a reason?’
When he stands, he sways on his feet. He blames it on the exhaustion and squeezes his eyes shut, leaning heavily on the control panel. If he lets this goes on, the old man will tell him everything he’s ever wanted to hear, and as often too. It’s like a vibroknife under his breastbone. All it does is make him want to curl up and disappear.
Miserably, he tells himself: “You’re only here because I wish you would be. You’re not real. Only powerful Force users can hold onto their living selves in death. I don’t sense you in the Force at all. I’m alone,” he forces himself to say. “As I deserve to be. And you’re only telling me not to feel guilty because my subconscious knows it’s the best way to make me feel even guiltier than I already do.”
And because every part of him hates every other wretched part of him, the ghost of his father isn’t deterred for a moment.
‘What good does thinking like that do for anyone, huh?’
He opens his eyes. The resigned sorrow lining the old man’s face looks like the start of a whole new avenue of torture, and he is almost glad for it.
This pain is all you deserve. You did this to yourself, you stupid, worthless, horrible boy.
“What good does denying it do?” he shoots back, and turns his attention to the computer. Just a few more steps now.
‘It’ll make you feel better,’ his father says mulishly. ‘And fight harder, I imagine.’
A mirthless bark of a laugh escapes him. “For a figment of my own imagination, you say the dumbest things.”
‘Okay, fine, you’ll bust out of here with ease either way. You finish rigging up your bomb, jump a ship, and then we’ll figure out where to go from there.’
He stops. Stares.
The ghost of his father waves a dismissive hand. ‘I know you’re not keen on trying your luck with your mother’s people, you don’t have to do that. Just send her a note you’re okay and pick a direction to fly in. Don’t worry about it, kid. It’ll work itself out in its own time.’
Shouldn’t a hallucination know that – ? In his chest, he feels their feeble, atrophied bond snap all over again as her body is vaporized by another pilot’s torpedo fire. From the corner of his eye, he sees the last switch left to be flipped. Surely his ‘father’ should know what he knows. Unless his mind is taking this self-inflicted torment another step further and deliberately feigning...
No. His thoughts are too sluggish for this. What does it matter, anyway?
He’s just so tired. The humming twilight of the First Order’s heart, illuminated only by the low-power red safety lights along the walls, should be the perfect place to fall asleep. But his body seems to need it so badly it doesn’t actually accept it anymore. Sleep deprivation has thrown his internal temperature regulation all out of whack. The room is sweltering and yet he shivers, cold somewhere beneath his skin, inside his bones, where the heat of the engines can’t reach.
When was the last time he felt physically comfortable? His current stint of self-deprivation had started with nightmares even worse and more frequent than usual, escalated through a bout of paranoia that Hux would deviate from his usual modus operandi of poisoning the competition and come for him in his sleep just like Skywalker had, and culminated in an attempt at turning his discomfort into fuel, refined by the Dark Side. It’s always a gamble once the pain or deprivation starts to affect his mental faculties, a delicate, half-drunken balancing act. This time, it had only worked for a while. He’s too far gone to remember if that was a long or a short while.
Balance, though, yes. There is a curious, fleeting balance to the kind of thing he is about to do. A single, perfect moment when the forces of creation and destruction are equal, tearing apart the old yet bursting violently forth with something new.
He reaches for that idea in the Force. Finds it. Feeds it. Nurtures it. Gorges it, slowly, relentlessly, unceasingly, drawing on reserves inside and outside of himself he’s not sure he has ever accessed before, until the cosmic power gathered around him eclipses the explosion he is about to set off.
Untold light-years away, he feels Rey sit up abruptly in her bunk and take notice. He feels – oh, even now the Force and the dead and the twists and turns of his grey matter are cruel. Another ghost or hallucination or vengeful Force-current stirs to life, and he feels his mother’s head snap up from her reports and, propelled by dread and impending heartbreak, she stands so abruptly she knocks back her chair and looks around and around, animal instinct overpowering Force sensibilities as her soul cries out no! Ben, no!
It’s enough to make him hesitate.
So he looks at his father. He takes in the face he inherited so much from. The greyed hair and wrinkles that had developed while they were apart and surprised him when reunited.
The still smouldering hole in Han Solo’s chest, where Kylo Ren had run him through.
He says: “I never hated you, you know. I just missed you too much. I couldn’t think of any more ways to make myself stop missing you.”
‘Aww, kid,’ his father sighs.
Sirens start blaring. The Order has finally caught on to his plan.
“I’m sorry. I love you,” he says, and can no longer keep his face from crumpling, or his tears from falling, or his voice from skipping. “P-please believe me, Dad.”
‘Of course I believe you,’ his father says. He steps forward to hug him, and still there is nothing. His sins are too great for the world to grant him even that, even now, because he killed his father and there’s no coming back from that. The very air around him is seething with energy, his body and mind are an icy wasteland, and he can’t take another minute of this. But amidst all that chaos and agony, there is still, also, peace.
Time’s up, after all.
“Thank you,” he says, and turns toward the control panel.
He moves through the final detonation sequence. Everything else fades to white noise.
‘Wait!’ his father suddenly exclaims from over his shoulder. ‘Wait just a damn minute. There’s no timer on that detonator!’
“No, there isn’t,” Ben Solo says, and hits the switch.
omnicat: (Default)
Title: Happy Feet
Author: Omnicat
Spoilers & Desirable Foreknowledge: J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books from Philosopher’s Stone to Deathly Hallows.
Warnings: None.
Characters & Relationships: Dumbledore x Grindelwald & Slughorn
Summary: Christmastime, season of miracles. Or at least strange in-jokes implausibly crossing time and space. “I do believe my socks are haunted.” // 626 words
Author’s Note: Written for lah_mrh in the 2018 Trick or Treat Exchange on AO3. Enjoy!

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Happy Feet
“I do believe my socks are haunted, Horace.”
“Pardon?”
“Well, spelled to appear haunted, that is. But let’s humour our spellcaster and call it a bona fide haunting.”
“Er – alright then. What a curious thing to be haunted, socks. Is it one specific pair, or all of them?”
“Oh, just the one pair. Perhaps I ought to have expected it. They were a gift –”
“Aren’t socks always, with you? You have so many friends and admirers, Albus, and all you ever ask for is socks! Such a waste.”
“– to each their own, Horace, to each their own – they were a gift, delivered by international owl, from an anonymous sender. Plainly wrapped. No identifying features whatsoever. Hand-knitted, though, if I’m not mistaken, and quite lovely.”
“Oh, Albus, you are too trusting, my friend. Never just open unexpected post! Would you like me to check your socks for curses and the like? I have an extensive battery of tests and tricks to ensure my safety that I would be quite pleased to perform for you.”
“Not to worry, Horace, I am sure that’s unnecessary. I do take some precautions of my own.”
“Well, if you’re sure...”
“I am, thank you. The reason I bring it up: the imitation ghost haunting my new socks? Is a kneazle’s.”
“A ghost kneazle? Well, now I’ve seen it all. Charming.”
“Incredibly so.”
“Has it thrown up on your other socks yet?”
“He has attempted to mark my bed curtains as his territory and shred my slippers, and meowed ever so plaintively both times when he realized he could not. He wouldn’t stop until I put on those nice, thick socks he haunts and he could curl up on top of them. Thereby, of course, promptly robbing my feet of any warmth the socks could have provided me.”
“Ohoho, devious little rascal! That’s clever! Who do you think sent him?”
“I’m sure I have no idea.”
“Oh, pish-posh, Albus, your eyes are twinkling.”
“My wand slipped when I was polishing my spectacles this morning. The glare has been rather distracting.”
“Hm. Florentina Stewmaker, perhaps? That old girl has the most delightful sense of humor, and a creative knack to match.”
“Ah, but she already sent me an enchanted mirror that works normally when faced head-on, but creates the illusion of an enormous pimple when you catch a glimpse of it from the corner of your eye.”
“That darling. Then what about...”

The battered old kneazle showed up at the same time as usual that day, squeezing through the bars just as it always had. Gellert leaned his elbows on his knees to offer it his hand and dutifully scratched behind the creature’s ears.
“I knew they wouldn’t keep you out, little friend,” he said, voice markedly less croaky with disuse than usual after all the ‘explaining’ he’d had to do recently. “They’ll have to think of a better way to punish me for unauthorized wand use than trying to tell you what to do, ha!”
“Mrrrrow,” the kneazle said, and curled up atop his feet.
Kneazles, Gellert had often observed, seemed to have an uncanny sense for the ironic. It hadn’t immediately dawned on him when this one chose him, but when the memory finally struck him, it was with crystal clarity.
‘Albus, dearest Albus,’ he’d said one day. ‘What do you want out of your life, then? To retire early and complacently, less than you could have been, and spend the rest of your days with a kneazle curled up on your feet to keep them warm? Or to live to the fullest, to be great and do greater things yet, change the world and have admirers falling at your feet for it?’
He hoped Albus remembered that same conversation, and understood.
omnicat: (Default)
Title: All That and a Witch’s Hat
Author: Omnicat
Spoilers & Desirable Foreknowledge: Marvel Studio’s Captain America-relevant movies, from Captain America: the First Avenger to Black Panther.
Warnings: None.
Characters & Relationships: Steve x Bucky
Summary: Candy apples, check. Funky pumpkins, check. A little sympathy? No, of course not, are you kidding? // 921 words
Author’s Note: Written for dreamerfound in the 2018 Trick or Treat Exchange on AO3. Enjoy!

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All That and a Witch’s Hat
“Easter Island.”
“Tourists.”
“The Amazon rainforest.”
“Mosquitos and spiders and snakes, probably.”
“Antarctica.”
“It’s Antarctica,” Steve stressed.
Bucky pulled a face and made a wobbly motion with his hand. “Still. For the quiet, it might be worth it.”
“Well, have fun then, but I’m not that nostalgic for the freezer just yet.”
“Spoilsport.” Bucky heaved a deep, deep sigh. “It’s just too damn early.”
The two of them were in the kitchen, hard at work. Almost frantically so, some might say. There were bowls of oranges and mini chocolate bars and other sugary treats on the counter, and Steve was making candy apples and popcorn balls. Bucky’s job, they’d decided, would be carving a pumpkin – so of course they’d bought a dozen pumpkins. They had paper bats-and-ghosts and Frankenstein-and-blood-bags festoons and a couple of felt witches to put in the windows. They had strings of plastic lights shaped like little spider webs.
And they only had all of these things because this modern age had the internet to look up current Halloween etiquette on, and stores that were open even on sundays. It certainly wasn’t because Halloween had such great timing. Bucky was loving every minute of it, don’t get him wrong. He just wished someone had explained this part of how the holiday had changed to him sooner.
They were wildly overdoing it, Bucky thought, but wasn’t that how Americans did everything these days? The website said it would make them fun, involved neighbors, anyway, which was enough for him to set aside his knee-jerk feeling that this was scandalizing and enjoy the thrill of it all.
“Same date it’s always been,” Steve pointed with a bland smile that fooled no-one.
“Thanks, Captain Obvious.”
“Seriously though, there’s a perfectly simple solution to this problem,” Steve said, stirring his toffee. “It’s called a calendar. I can get you one for Christmas, if you can’t find such a strange, newfangled contraption in the stores you frequent.”
“I have three. Four if you include the one on my phone. I hung one in the downstairs toilet and I don’t even know where I picked up that habit. I just never look at them. What’s today’s date?”
Steve rolled his eyes. “We wouldn’t be having this conversation if you didn’t know –”
“Don’t make fun of my amnesia, Steve, geeze.”
Now Steve snorted. “October 31st.”
“See?” Bucky said, gesturing triumphantly with his carving knife. “They make Halloween last for a month nowadays and I still didn’t see the actual day coming. It’s like a conspiracy to make me check the calendar every day or something!”
The date had just sort of crept up on them. Steve had been abroad until the day before yesterday doing Avenger things, and Bucky had been... busy... enjoying his retirement. Sure, it hadn’t felt busy at the time, but looking back it clearly had been, or this wouldn’t have happened, now would it? Those goats hadn’t fed themselves back in Wakanda, and they certainly hadn’t started when T’Challa had sent them along as a housewarming gift upon Bucky’s return to the States.
“Relax, Buck. We’ll be done well before sundown.”
There was a moment of silence as they both waited for something to spontaneously catch fire. If anything was going to happen, now would be the time.
“Sure, we’ll make it because we have to,” Bucky allowed eventually. “But I like to take my time carving up bodies. Really savor the experience, you know?”
“You’re not –” Steve frowned, first in confusion at the odd phrasing and then, when he caught sight of Bucky’s innocent expression, in suspicion. He rounded the kitchen table to check, toffee-covered spoon in hand, and burst out in incredulous laughter. Looking around at the rest of Bucky’s handiwork, his amusement only grew. “You’re kidding me. All of them?”
Bucky cut a final flourish from the cape of his stick figure vampire (mid biting a victim) and confirmed: “All of them.”
He’d carved a game of hangman out of his first pumpkin out of sheer annoyance, but as soon as he started the second one, he couldn’t think of anything more fun. He had a stabbing, a sasquash (or something, pumpkins weren’t the most precise medium when it came to furry monsters) kidnapping, a mummy, an alien with a laser blaster (who maaaaaybe bore a slight, stick-figure-y resemblance to Mantis, but what she didn’t know couldn’t hurt her), a Loki... all of them with X-es for eyes and lolling tongues, of course.
“We need to take pictures of this.”
“How modern of you.”
“If we’re gonna make this big a deal out of Halloween just to be good neighbors, we might as well go all the way. Now who’s the starving artist, huh?”
Steve dug his phone from his back pocket, changed his mind, and ran out of the kitchen to find himself a real camera. When he returned, Bucky said:
“Just because the enhanced metabolism keeps me from getting fat, doesn’t mean what I’ve been doing is starving.”
“You’re not getting any candied apples unless they’re leftover after the kids stop coming, then. Don’t look at me like that, it’s legend-building.”
The house smelled divine. The very idea of not getting dibs on Steve’s snacks was sacrilege. “That’s it, the next one is gonna be you, on ice.”
“Immortalized by my favorite artist? What a hardship.”
“Oh, come here, you.”
Bucky dragged him down for a kiss, the utensils in their respective hands forgotten. How all that toffee ended up in Steve’s hair in the end was anyone’s guess.
omnicat: (Default)
Title: Yowls of Evil and Darkness and Random acts of Vandalism
Author: Omnicat
Spoilers & Desirable Foreknowledge: Marvel Studios’ Thor-relevant movies, as many or as few as you feel like.
Warnings: None.
Characters & Relationships: Loki x Jane
Summary: Something is rattling around Loki’s meticulously planned and executed funhouse of horrors that shouldn’t be. Surely he and Jane won’t be facing a real supernatural menace right before the Avengers’ Halloween party, of all things? // 1700 words
Author’s Note: Enjoy!

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Yowls of Evil and Darkness and Random acts of Vandalism
“Did you do this on purpose?” Jane asked.
“No,” Loki answered.
“Is it somehow your fault anyway?”
“Why, I would never –” he started, making his most affronted face.
Jane rolled her eyes. “Thanks for at least being obvious, if you’re not gonna be honest.”
“You’re welcome,” Loki said, faux-outrage melting away into a beatific smile.
“You’re ridiculous.” She rattled the doorknob again. “Will you melt if you’re honest too many times in a day?”
“I just might.”
She shot him a sly look. “Do you think I’m pretty?”
A beat.
“Ooooh, you clever, wicked woman,” he said admiringly. “You’re a wretched minx, is what I think you are.”
She cackled, and he drew her to him to silence her with a kiss. It stopped the sound of her laughter but not the spirit; her shoulders shook under his hands.
“Seriously though,” she said when they broke apart. “Why can’t you open the door?”
“I’ve enchanted it to not open for anyone until they’ve completed the entire course. Breaking the spell now would ruin all my preparations for tonight. I hadn’t realized the door’s hinges were crooked. Such a thing would never have –”
“Don’t say it.”
“– happened in an Asgardian dwelling,” he finished, and Jane’s eyes all but rolled from her skull. Feeling magnanimous, he added: “That said, we chose to rent this house for a reason, and its decrepit state is thematically appropriate.”
She sighed curtly and pointedly. “Fine. We’ll look for the source of a bunch of creepy noises along a dimly lit, magically booby-trapped route through a centuries-old mansion. What could possibly go wrong?”
“Exactly! Nothing at all,” Loki said.
With a hand at the small of her rigid back, he led Jane down the corridor. This would be his first time celebrating her mortal holy day of Halloween, and already he had outdone most others who had observed the festivities for years, if he did say so himself. This holiday was made for him. Nigh on all the fun trappings of villainy with none of the pesky consequences, a hearty spike in appreciation of his jests and magical prowess, an excuse to indulge his sweet tooth...
“It was clean when we got here,” Jane told herself, eyeing the massive spider webs he had conjured along the walls. “It was clean when we got here. That –” she said, pointing. “That spider is fake, right? You didn’t import a real spider the size of my head from some other realm, did you?”
“It is a mere imitation,” he assured her.
“Okay. How sure are you you didn’t get sloppy somewhere, and that’s what caused the sounds?”
“Absolutely certain.”
“Should’ve brought my umbrella,” she muttered. Twisting his wrist with a flash of magic, he handed the object in question to her. Amazingly, that actually caused her tense muscles to relax beneath his touch. “Thanks.”
“You doubt my ability to protect you,” he accused.
“No, I just don’t like leaving my safety entirely in someone else’s hands, especially when that someone is highly likely to –”
A skeleton burst from the bedroom door in front of them, looked both ways for the intruders that had awoken it, whirled on them, and pointed one bony finger with a triumphant gnashing squeal of ‘Aha!’
Jane shrieked and smashed its head from its shoulders with her umbrella.
A moment of stunned silence fell. Then the skeleton’s hands felt around in the air where its skull had been, and it let out a cry of dismay and started running around in circles, babbling in almost-words about where its head had gone.
“I admit, when I prepared my creations for the possibility of violent retaliation, I expected the big, Thor-like brutes would be the ones smashing things,” Loki said cheerfully.
“Loki,” Jane said, voice tight with seething adrenaline as she lowered her weapon. “Be a dear and check that room for me.”
In that moment, she was exquisite. He and Jane had decided on costumes for tonight’s party by letting the other dress them in a distinctive style native to their respective realms. Jane had stuck him in a black leather jacket and tight-fitting denims with freshly-cut and strangely-slicked hair. He had garbed Jane in a gown fit for a queen, a deep green with hems jewelled in all the shades of the forest and a star-studded golden cloak. She looked every inch the warrior and princess. Even her spotted blue umbrella did not take away from her fierce beauty and regal elegance.
Now there was a thought he’d never imagined he’d entertain.
“With pleasure, my fair maiden of the rain-shield,” he said with a bow, and darted into the bedroom before she could make good on the threatening twitch of her umbrella. When he emerged again, she had befriended the skeleton and was trying to help it put its head back on.
“Nothing out of place in here,” he reported. “And that’s not going to work. Leave it be, it’ll sort itself out once we’ve moved out of range.”
“Sorry,” Jane told the thing, and followed after Loki. “Next time, warn me,” she demanded.
“No, please, stab the vampire lurking around the third corner, I insist.”
She eyed the fog that rose there as they approached warily, but did not, in fact, stab the vampire that materialized amidst it. Sighing, Loki flashed a dagger into existence and did it himself. With a theatrical wail, it exploded in a cloud of glitter that covered everything in a nine foot radius.
Jane straightened from her defensive cringe, blinked her eyes open, looked around and down at herself, and gaped. “Oh my god, that’s just evil. It’s going to get everywhere.”
Loki beamed.
Checking rooms and closets everywhere they went, they made their way along the swamp hallway, where rotting corpse-hands emerged from the muck to grab their ankles and shake balled fists or give them the finger when kicked; the bat-flock stairwell; the broom closet in which a mummy mime-demanded they tell it what they thought of its mop-for-a-wig; the dining room where they were chased in circles around the massive table by the world’s slowest Frankenstein monster, cursed with a dead smoker’s lungs and a matching tendency to take cigarette breaks after every setback; the crowd of zombies only interested in their brains because they’d collectively forgotten the steps to the flashmob dance they thought they were meant to perform, and were hoping passers-by would have some good moves to share.
“The werewolf will pounce and proceed to lick and slobber all over your face, and generally drool obscene amounts,” Loki was just explaining, when something crashed upstairs.
They froze.
“Found it,” Jane said. She swallowed thickly, the red-faced exhilaration that had built as they progressed fading away.
“Yes.” He sobered a bit. “Do you truly trust me to protect you, Jane?”
“Yeah.”
“Then let me take the lead.”
“Okay, nigh-unkillable space wizards first, I guess,” she said, raising her umbrella. “But I’m right behind you.”
“I would be truly honoured by your doing something stupid to avenge me.”
“Oh, shut up. It’s probably just a squatter from another dimension or something. I hope.”
Loki led the way towards and up the nearest staircase leading to the attic, dismissing the clutch of ghosts he’d installed along the way with a gesture. The faint lights from the floor below faded as they ascended. After first ensuring that the edges of the door atop the stairs were blacked out with magic, he conjured balls of light and gestured for Jane to wait until their eyes had grown accustomed to them.
Then he flicked the door open and sprang forward, spreading the lights to all corners of the room. “Hya!”
Many tiny somethings scrabbled along the floorboards. Small shapes darted haphazardly through the attic. An ominous, rumbling yowl rose up.
Loki and Jane turned toward the source of the sound, his lights and her umbrella both raised, and saw –
“Kittens!” Jane squeaked.
Loki blinked.
Jane set aside her umbrella, took a single step forward, and all but fell to her knees, hand extended toward the tiny, cat-like creature glaring at them from beneath a pile of dusty furniture.
“Hey, kitties. Hi, mommy,” she cooed. “Were you the ones making all that noise, huh? Were your babies playing and knocking things over? Hi, yeah, c’mere, I don’t bite.”
The undersized black cat-thing approached cautiously and sniffed Jane’s fingers like she might explode any moment. Jane held perfectly still, barely breathing. When the creature eventually decided to butt its head up into her hand, she shot Loki a brilliant smile.
Jane stroked the first animal’s head until it purred, and slowly, a half-dozen even tinier specimens in a variety of colours came creeping and bounding from their hiding places, trailing after their mother.
“Hi, hello, yes, hi,” Jane kept cooing. “Hello, catties. Aww, you pretty kitties. Look at you.”
“These are cats?” Loki asked, flabbergasted.
Jane met his gaze, looking almost as confused as he felt. “You’ve never seen a cat before?”
“Of course I have. But not any this minuscule. Is that supposed to be an adult female? How will these little things ever pull a chariot?”
Jane laughed. “I don’t know about chariots, but with the amount of ruckus they managed to cause up here, I bet they’re already catching a lot of mice. Come here and help me get them downstairs before one of them buries itself under a mountain of old furniture. I’m gonna call the landlord, see if the kittens are spoken for yet. We’re gonna adopt one of these little poltergeists.”
Loki raised an eyebrow. “We are?”
“Mew!” a teeny little black kitten said from the vicinity of his feet. Sitting there all itty bitty and prim, it looked unmistakably smug, as if it knew what they were talking about and was thinking, “Yes, you are!”
“Yes we are,” Jane translated for it. “And trust me, you’re gonna love it. If you think Halloween’s great, wait until you have your own Earth cat to keep you company every day.”
Blinking up at him contentedly, the kitten raised one paw and hooked its little claws into Loki’s trouser leg. Ah. Yes, she might be right, Loki thought.
omnicat: (for the MCU)
Title: Slip and Slide
Author: Omnicat
Spoilers & Desirable Foreknowledge: Marvel Studios’ Captain America: Civil War and Black Panther.
Warnings: None.
Characters & Relationships: T’Challa x Nakia & Shuri
Summary: “Now, now, my love,” Nakia said, gliding to a stop in an elegant arc around his head. Her grin looked big enough to hurt. “You’ll never make it to your imaginary Winter Olympics for the superhumanly enhanced with that attitude.” // 976 words
Author’s Note: Written for Sholio in the 2018 Trick or Treat Exchange on AO3. Enjoy!

Slip and Slide )
omnicat: (for Darker than Black)
Title: Irrational Numbers
Author: Omnicat
Spoilers & Desirable Foreknowledge: Tensai Okamura & co’s Darker than Black: the Black Contractor anime.
Warnings: Temporary character death and gore.
Characters & Relationships: Amber x Hei & mentioned Pai
Summary: “How many times, Amber?” he asks. // 481 words
Author’s Note: Enjoy!

Irrational Numbers )
omnicat: (for Star Wars)
Title: Fashion Statements
Author: Omnicat
Spoilers & Desirable Foreknowledge: J.J. Abrams & co’s Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens and Rian Johnson & co’s Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, and general knowledge of the previous trilogies.
Warnings: None.
Characters & Relationships: Rey x Ben
Summary: Two years after the Last Armistice, Breha starts growing out her hair. // fem!Kylo AU // 805 + 280 words
Author’s Note: Enjoy!

Fashion Statements )

PSAN: Bonus! )
omnicat: (for Star Wars)
Title: Yesterday’s Sunrise
Author: Omnicat
Spoilers & Desirable Foreknowledge: George Lucas & co’a Star Wars: Episode I through VI, though nothing specific, and J.J. Abrams & co’s Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens and Rian Johnson & co’s Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.
Warnings: Canon-typical.
Characters & Relationships: Leia & Luke & Ben
Summary: If Leia Organa has to travel back in time to punch her brother in the face and keep her son from falling to the Dark Side, so be it. // 2103 words
Author’s Note: The italicized opening paragraphs are straight from the TLJ novelization. This fic assumes Luke didn’t tell Han and Leia what really happened the night Ben fell, because A) a lot of things in both TFA and TLJ just make no sense to me if he’d ever come clean about his culpability in the incident before, and B) I refuse to believe Han would have put all the blame for what happened at the temple on his kid and said Luke only “felt” responsible if he knew the truth.
Enjoy!

Yesterday's Sunrise )
omnicat: (for Star Wars)
Title: The Interstellar Platypus
Author: Omnicat
Spoilers & Desirable Foreknowledge: J.J. Abrams & co's Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens and Rian Johnson & co's Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi. Maybe the Wookiepedia page on bacta.
Warnings: Medical stuff, Ben being a masochistic idiot, crack treated seriously.
Characters & Relationships: Rey x Ben & their unhatched egg-baby.
Summary: Laying eggs is hard when you're almost entirely mammal, but that's what modern medicine was invented for. Or: almost nine months ago, Rey put an egg in Ben. Today they'll celebrate having successfully gotten it out, whether Ben can stay awake for it or not. // 1,537 words
Author's Note: Enjoy!

The Interstellar Platypus )
omnicat: (for the MCU)
Title: Instant Snake Salad
Author: Omnicat
Spoilers & Desirable Foreknowledge: Kenneth Branagh & co's Thor, Alan Taylor & co's Thor: the Dark World, Taika Waititi & co's Thor: Ragnarok, and the Russo brothers & co's Avengers: Infinity War.
Warnings: None.
Characters & Relationships: Loki x Jane & Darcy
Summary: Unhinging your jaw and swallowing a watermelon whole is the most fun a man can have without taking his clothes off, or so they say. Loki is already mostly naked and snakes don't wear clothes, but that's not going to stop him. / 1699 words
Author's Note:
Enjoy!

Instant Snake Salad )
omnicat: (for Everything Else)
Title: Putting the Universe Back in Motion
Author: Omnicat
Spoilers & Desirable Foreknowledge: Mobile Suit Gundam: Twilight Axis, ONA version.
Warnings: Nothing the canon didn’t have.
Characters & Relationships: Arlette Almage & mentioned Danton Hyleg & Quentin Fermo & Lalah Sune & Char Aznable
Summary: There have been times Arlette’s survival depended on finding a way to move heaven and earth, in more and more literal ways. Perhaps there always will be. But she won’t let that stop her from enjoying the now, where all she has to do is help run a dry cleaning service. // 586 words
Author’s Note: This is based on the ONA and about two dozen plot summaries and wiki pages. I’m pretty sure I’ve got a decent grip on what was going on, but this is your warning that no, I did not read the novels and yes, this probably contradicts them at least once every other word. :) Enjoy!

Putting )
omnicat: (for Everything Else)
Title: Piece By Forgotten Piece
Author: Omnicat
Spoilers & Desirable Foreknowledge: Dreamworks’ Voltron: Legendary Defender, seasons 1 through 3.
Warnings: None.
Characters & Relationships: Kuron!Shiro
Summary: His mind draws blanks and scribbles hallucinations along the edges. The healing pod says he’s fine while his head pounds to the rhythm of he’s not. He feels further from the truth than ever before. // 120 words
Author’s Note: I am working off the assumption that the Shiro that appears in season 3 is a clone or something along those lines – and that the Galra had the presence of mind to design him in such a way that his first medical check-up after being thrown to the inhospitable void of space won’t immediately give the game away. I’m not usually comfortable writing stuff that’ll be jossed so soon, but my need for Kuron to be okay is too overwhelming. Enjoy!

Piece By Forgotten Piece )

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