I’m not sure if I actually liked this tamarind nectar or if my hipster sensibilities tricked me into liking it because it’s a pretty obscure juice that you’ve probably never heard of.
this is a real problem that i have
what is wrong with me
“Show, don’t tell,” you say? NOPE FUCK THAT I’M JUST GOING TO HAVE CHARACTERS TALK AT EACH OTHER TO EXPLAIN WHAT’S GOING ON THAT’S COOL RIGHT
I am going to justify it by saying that if anyone loved the sound of his own voice, it was Captain Kirk.★☆★☆★☆★☆★☆★
Gemini could not imagine what she’d done in a former life to wind up aboard the U.S.S. John Mirk. Not only was it the most absurd name for a ship she’d ever heard – and she had heard many – but the thing was borderline derelict. Nothing at all like the shiny new ships she had trained aboard, had even worked aboard.
She’d known even when she’d done it that the Federation did not smile on recreational drug use on duty. It was common sense, but it seemed so easy a rule to break. It was no one’s fault but her own that she’d gotten in trouble. Nonetheless, she was the only ensign to find themselves suddenly reassigned to a ship going nowhere. A ship she’d never heard of, a mission she’d never had time to research, her only comfort was that perhaps by exploring the end of nowhere she was following in her father’s footsteps.
Gemini had barely been given time to drop her bag off in her new quarters before the computer informed her she’d been assigned security for an away mission. Where was the transporter room on this ship? For a ship so small with a skeleton crew, there certainly were a lot of hallways.
“Gemini!” a voice barked out of nowhere, and she skidded to a halt, turning to see the source of the voice. She was met with the sight of another ensign, dark-skinned and fit, her hair braided on the sides so that only the center stood high. The woman made a disappointed sort of a noise, eyeing Gemini up and down with a dubious expression. “Yeah, I thought it’d be you, hurrying like that. I’m with you on security, come with me.” Before Gemini could respond, the strange woman had grabbed her by the wrist and begun pulling her along like a child.
“Excuse me, but what-”
“Sh! We can talk later, we’ve got to get this shit done fast.” Despite the stranger’s claims, she did not bring Gemini directly to the transporter room, pulling her instead into a dilapidated set of ensign’s quarters.
“What exactly is it that we’re doing?” Gemini demanded, pulling her hand from her kidnapper’s grasp. It looked as if someone had begun using this room for storage; the ensign began digging through a box of what looked like costumes.
“Making sure you don’t get killed, newbie.”
Gemini’s blood ran cold, even as the rational part of her said that this woman was insane. “Isn’t this a fairly routine away mission?”
This was met with a scoff, as the woman tossed a ragged-looking black scarf around Gemini’s neck. “They’re always fairly routine away missions. Secure this thing with your com-badge, it ought to get you looking just jaunty enough.”
“This is not Starfleet regulation.”
“You think anyone’s going to care? It’s a scarf; maybe it’s a religious thing, maybe you’re an alien with lewd-looking gills, no one in charge gives enough of a shit to go prying. Pin the damn thing on so we can get going.”
“You’re going to save my life with a scarf?” Gemini had begun to lose patience with this strange game, but the brown eyes that met her hazel ones were dead serious.
“You are more likely to die as an ensign than at any other point in your career in Starfleet. Do you know why that is? Away missions. The point is supposed to be letting ensigns acquire life experience, but here’s the thing: it’s never a team of ensigns. Did you notice that? It’s always one or two ensigns along with the bridge crew; one or two odd men out. That bridge crew, the bridge crew on every ship in the Federation, they operate like a unit. They work together every day, every week, every month. They know each other’s tics, they know what they’re capable of, they watch each other’s backs. And then some asshole thinks, let’s just throw a couple extra on there. We are a two person security team assigned to assist the bridge crew, and they know dick all about us. When the shit hits the fan, when they start falling into formation, they will forget about us. It’s not on purpose, it’s instinct. It’s not practical to go around training the bridge crew to work with every single ensign on board. Maybe you noticed it, on whatever other ship you were on – and chances are, that crew was competent. You want to survive on this ship, you need to stand out just enough that they don’t forget about you when everything starts exploding, and you need to do what I say.”
It was an absurd notion. A conspiracy theory, at best. It needn’t even be dignified with a response. But a part of Gemini’s memory itched at her, that statistic about how long one was likely to last in Starfleet. The rest of it might be nonsense, certainly, but this woman was certainly correct about Ensign being the most dangerous rank. “Don’t you need a scarf then?” Gemini asked hesitantly, even as she pinned the garment into place with her com-badge.
“The hell do you think this hair is for? I’d rather be bald, but there aren’t a whole lot of frohawks in space.” Satisfied that her charge was taken care of, Gemini’s new mentor strolled out of the room with quick strides, not bothering to look back and see if the other girl followed.
“If away missions are so dangerous, why would they send someone new as an escort?” Gemini wondered as she hurried to follow.
“Because some idiot put JJ in charge of ensign assignments in our wing, and JJ’s trying to kill me. You’d die, too, but that’d just be an unfortunate side effect of my inevitable doom.”
“… I’m starting to think you’re just paranoid.”
“You think that now. We can discuss all the ways in which the universe has chosen to fuck you once we get planetside.”
“I don’t even know your name,” Gemini pointed out, just as they reached the transporter room. This made her new friend hesitate for just a moment, before she turned and met Gemini with a wink and a grin.
“James Tiberius Kirk. Pleasure to meet you, Ensign Garcia.” Before she could respond, James ducked into the transporter room, leaving Gemini speechless in the hall.★☆★☆★☆★☆★☆★
“You want to tell me how you got a name like that, Ensign?” Gemini asked again, getting impatient with her companion’s refusal to give a straight answer.
“Put your back up against mine,” she said instead, ignoring the question entirely, “and set your phaser to stun. We do not move from this spot until they’re done collecting spores, or whatever the hell it is they’re doing in that cave. You see a blade of grass move, you shoot it.”
“That doesn’t answer my question.”
“You can call me Jim, if it helps.”
Jim sighed, and Garcia was glad they were back to back, glad no one was around to see whatever look was on her face. “How old are you, Gemmy?”
“24. Don’t call me that.”
Jim let out a low whistle. “Hell, you barely squeaked by, didn’t you? And where are you from?”
“Nice! Best schools on Earth, right?” Jim seemed to be doing her best to make Gemini feel better about… something.
“You still haven’t answered my question.”
“About why I’ve got the same name as your dad?” Jim felt the other girl stiffen, and she waited a moment before continuing. “It was kind of weird when you joined Starfleet, wasn’t it? You didn’t brag or anything, when you joined the Academy, but you knew they were going to run tests. Look at your records. See who your father was. But no one ever said anything. It never came up. You decided not to mention it, figured it was on purpose. But it was weird, wasn’t it? You thought you were pretty special, the long-lost kid of one of Starfleet’s biggest heroes. Yet no one said a dang thing. Then you go and fuck up once – probably not even much of a fuck-up, from the look of you – and you’re out. Trundled off to the middle of nowhere. Kind of weird, right?”
“I don’t… I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“You’ve read a lot of books about your dad, right? I mean, there’s plenty of them. He’s got his own library, and all that’s in it is books about him.”
“I… I read his memoirs.” There was no point, now, pretending she didn’t know what she was talking about.
“You were less dedicated than I was,” Jim said matter-of-factly. “I didn’t have a whole lot better to do. Or maybe I wasn’t as confident as you. I read the memoirs, the biographies, the autobiographies, his mission logs, the unflattering exposés, the tell-alls. I read every damn word of everything anyone ever wrote about Captain Kirk of the starship Enterprise.”
“What are you saying?”
“My favorite is the one that got written anonymously – The Ego That Crashed Starfleet,” Ensign Kirk continued, as if Gemini hadn’t said a word. “The guy who wrote it clearly despised the man he was writing about, but when you read past the biases, it’s a pretty fascinating analysis of Kirk’s career. Even when you take all those other books in balance, it’s pretty clear that the only reason we idolize Kirk as a culture is that he was charismatic and lucky. If anyone else pulled the shit he did, we’d have started more wars than I have fingers to count. In a sensible world, he probably should have been arrested, let alone dishonorably discharged.”
“He saved the Federation-” Gemini began heatedly, but Jim jabbed her in the side with an elbow.
“He did, but can you imagine someone trying to follow in his footsteps? Trying to apply his techniques like a precendent?” This quieted Ensign Garcia, as she’d considered this numerous times over her Starfleet career. She’d always been very careful to follow regulation, understanding well the many reasons behind them, but she’d also been aware that her father had done no such thing. She’d often had difficulty reconciling the man she admired without meeting, with the man who had so much in common with the reckless cadets she despised.
“The other thing about Kirk,” Jim continued after a moment, “was that he set literal records for doing things no Captain should do. He broke the Prime Directive more than any other Captain in history; furthermore, records show – the logs of his own crew show – that he usually did it with his dick.”
“Don’t turn around, dumbass! That’s just asking for something to come out of the damn bushes. I’m sorry if you don’t like it, but these are the facts of the case. Kirk utilized time travel and risked paradox more than any other captain; violated the Federation Terms of Engagement more than any other captain; he was accused of sexual harassment more than any other captain. He did a lot of great things, and no one’s denying that, but you can’t go ignoring all the other things he did.”
“You still haven’t explained-”
“I’m getting to that. So let’s say you have this hypothetical captain. He’s kind of a huge asshole, and he treats the universe like one big brothel, and generally he’s a terrible example of what a captain should be. And the people in charge, they’d fire this hypothetical captain, but the facts are that he gets results. What’s more, people love him. They really love him. If they tried to fire this hypothetical captain, he’d probably just become some kind of starship vigilante, and that’s not really good for intergalactic morale. It’s always a good idea to have folk heroes on your side, politically speaking.”
“Is there a reason this captain has to be hypothetical?”
“I’m still getting to that. You’re the impatient type, aren’t you? Anyway: this hypothetical captain, he’s not so bad, as long as there’s only one of him. And sure, some people are going to try to emulate him, but it’s easy enough to beat that out of them at the Academy. Teach them early how not to be this guy. It’s not hard to do, since they aren’t that guy. But here’s the thing: that hypothetical captain, his records show that he’d had a temporary procedure done for contraception, but they leave out the part where he gets it taken out.”
“Starfleet usually takes precautions against people sowing their seed across the galaxy,” Jim barreled forward, “but this guy, he decided it was sort of itchy, and as we’ve said, he was kind of an asshole.”
“There is only-”
“Records only show that this totally hypothetical captain has one kid, but that’s talking about kids he acknowledged, kids he knew about. He didn’t exactly spend a lot of time in one place, did he? And it gets worse, because for every kid that tests positive for hypothetical captain DNA, you’ve got two whose parents didn’t want to tell them the truth. The guy’s a legend, right? So if he happened to be in town nine months ago – or whatever gestational period you happen to have – why not say it’s his? Sure, eventually the truth’ll come out in blood, but in the meantime you’ve got a kid who thinks his dad is a legendary starship captain.”
Gemini was beginning to have trouble breathing; this situation, hypothetical or not, was absurd. Why did it bother her so much, to think it might be true?
“Someone who thinks they’re this hypothetical captain’s kid, it’s going to be a lot harder to beat the stupid out of them. When a kid like that decides to join Starfleet, they’re trying to maintain a legacy, live up to a legend, prove a point. The ones who find out they aren’t genetically related, they’re the worst; they’re the ones who feel betrayed, who feel angry, who have the most to prove. ‘I can be great even if my dad isn’t that asshole’, they say, but then they try to prove it by acting like that asshole instead of acting great.”
“This is a joke, right?”
“What the fuck do you do with all these kids, if you’re in charge? Suddenly, you’re swarming with people who are, let’s face it, liabilities in a uniform. What if they have the charisma of the man, but not the moral compass? What if they have his insane bravado without the charisma to make it okay? Here’s the best part: half these kids, they don’t join Starfleet on purpose. They end up in Starfleet for rehabilitation. They’re juvenile delinquents with delusions of grandeur. What the fuck do you do to keep these kids from bringing law and order to its knees in the name of what they think is right and good and fun?”
“You are telling a fucking joke right now. This is not a thing you seriously expect me to believe.”
“You know who John Mirk is, right?”
“Is he the world’s first purveyor of crazy bullshit?”
“Sort of. He wrote John Mirk’s Festial. It was a collection of… religious advice? Way back in Earth’s history. It’s where you can find the earliest record of the notion that children should be seen and not heard. Kind of a silly name, since they don’t really want to see us, either.”
“What you are trying to tell me right now,” Gemini said, her voice hard, “is that you are named after my father because you are my sister. Is that about fucking right?”
“Could be.” Jim’s shoulders rose and fell in a shrug against Gemini’s. “One assumes that’s where my name came from.”
“That’s a whole fucking ship full of my siblings, is what you’re saying.”
“Not all of them. Like I said, a lot of them aren’t biologically related; they were just raised with certain assumptions about parentage.”
“Why the fuck are you so sure I’m real, then? I don’t see you assuming I’m another fraud with a crazy mom.”
“You seem pretty well-adjusted,” Jim explained coolly, “or at least, you did, until you started freaking out just now. You already said you grew up with some of the best schools available; you’re smart enough that I’m going to guess your mother was a scientist. You would have had access to genetic testing supplies pretty early on in your life. Your mother pretty clearly wanted to memorialize your dad in your name, but she was clever and confident enough to have used a soundalike rather than just names you James. Or… Jamina. Whatever. You kept Garcia instead of Kirk. The real ones are the ones who don’t feel like they have to prove their heritage. It’s not always accurate, but it’s a pretty good indicator.”
“Are you actually-”
“That’s none of your business. You’re going to find that out pretty quick, on board. They hide the data on this ship; you don’t get to look up who anyone’s parents are. They don’t want the fake Kirks taking it out on the real ones. You don’t talk about it unless you want someone like JJ out for your blood.”
“JJ’s the one you think’s trying to kill you?”
“JJ stands for James, if you hadn’t figured it out. Klingon. Not very bright. That last part’s how you know he’s a pseudo-Kirk, though the fact that his alleged father never got over his anti-Klingon bias doesn’t help. He knows that I know, and that doesn’t make him happy.”
“So… everyone on this ship knows.” Gemini suddenly thought she might burst into tears. “They all know what… what this ship is. That it’s a quarantine for… cast-offs.”
“I’m sorry, kiddo,” Jim apologized, genuine sorrow in her voice. “You thought you were special, right? You were gonna save the day? I’m not making fun of you; maybe in another world you could have. In this one right here, though? We’re reaping what he sowed. We’ve just got to make the best of it – and step one is recognizing the reality of a shitty situation, so you can deal with it.”
“… how do you keep all of the James’ straight?” Garcia giggled, a touch hysterically. She was in shock now; she’d deal with the emotional repercussions of this when she got back to her quarters.
“They aren’t all James, but yeah, it gets tricky. There’s JJ, Jamie, Jimmy, Big Jim, Little Jim, Slim Jim, Jammy Dodger-”
“You’re making shit up.”
“Nicknames start getting silly pretty fast,” she acknowledged. “One guy tried calling me Black Jim, but I called him White Jim instead, now he’s just Whitey. The Jim who tried calling me Girl Jim is called Dick now. Staking out a good nickname’s pretty important in the pecking order, but you probably don’t need to worry about that.”
“There’s already a Jem, but I don’t know that you want to be that truly outrageous.”
“I don’t know what that means.” Rather than a response, Gemini heard the sound of phaser fire, and turned to see what was going on. Lying half-buried in the purple bushes was something like a wolf outside its skin, green in color, with a frightening set of jaws.
“I should mention,” Jim said quickly, “that the bridge crew is comprised of people who know damn well their parents weren’t Kirk, and who were shitty enough at their jobs to get stuck babysitting us. Never let them see you be good at something.”
“What happened out here?” came a booming voice from within the cave, and out emerged Captain Banks, looking wild-eyed.
Immediately Jim widened her eyes in apparent terror. “I’m so sorry, sir! Did I violate the Prime Directive? I’m so sorry! I was just so scared because the other guys were saying it was my turn to die and I saw the bushes moved and I panicked and it might have been sentient I am so sorry-”
“Calm down, Ensign,” the captain ordered, now looking more annoyed than worried. “You had your phaser set to stun, didn’t you?”
“Well then the damn thing isn’t dead, just ugly.” He sighed, running his fingers through his unnaturally luxurious hair. “Still, I suppose it might be sentient, at that. Best we beam up now, before this ends up requiring paperwork. As far as Starfleet needs to know, you fired at a bush. You got that, you two?”
“Yes, sir!” they responded in unison, and Gemini thought she saw Jim wink at her.
WHY HELLO THERE
actually wait I have never done this GIF thing for new followers, I should do this shit up proper retroactively
HELLO ALL FIFTEEN OF MY BIGGEST FANS
THAT’S A LIE AND YOU KNOW IT
I KNOW YOU’RE NOT READING THIS, BOOTS
i know you don’t really love me
I just dreamed the Supernatural finale.
The episode was 95% Sam and Dean running towards each other, crying. Dean married a Japanese woman and had a baby that could ski. Dean got the Impala back, and it could talk with the voice of Glenn Shadix. He was not happy about this. Sam went camping, and was sad.
The episode ended with Sam and Dean played by two old men, yelling at each other. I woke up really confused that no one on Tumblr had been posting GIFs of old man Winchesters.
Alternate title: What I Would Say If I Was Bonnie, Because Seriously.
I mean, it’s a good show. I still watch the hell out of it. But sometimes I wonder how Bonnie can put up with these people.
EVERYONE IS SUPER OUT OF CHARACTER PROBABLY, SORRY DUDES☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆
“Shouldn’t you be crying with your friends somewhere?”
The girl sitting cross-legged on the rail of the Wickery Bridge responded with a raised middle finger, tossing her head back to drink whatever foul thing it was she had in an old soda bottle.
“What, you’re not even going to try and kill me?” Kol couldn’t help but smirk, but then, that was true most of the time.
“As if that would even work,” the girl known as Bonnie spat, her disdain only serving to intrigue the vampire. “You’d probably just come back as… as a super-vampire, or something, and then everyone in town would turn before we discovered your only weakness was being strangled with doppelganger hair.”
“That seems a bit cynical.”
“What are you even doing here? I thought you were out of town, being menacing from afar.”
“You’re drunk,” Kol pointed out, as if this fact in any way answered her question.
“You’re damn right I am,” she sneered, staring him down as she took another swig, as if daring him to judge.
“You seem a bit young to be drinking alone in the middle of the night.”
“Ha!” Bonnie kicked her denim-clad legs out from under her, dangling them over the edge of the bridge. “Young. Of course I seem young, you’re a creepy old man. Pedophiles, all of you.”
“What I’m asking,” Kol clarified, with an exasperated sigh, “is: where is your friend Elena?”
The noise of disdain that Bonnie made was truly a wonder to behold, the envy of teen girls everywhere. “Fuck me, you’re just here looking for Elena. Why else would you be here? It’s always Elena. There’s never anything interesting going on in China, or Wisconsin. It’s always here, looking for Elena.” She spun around and stumbled off of the railing, and Kol was unsure if he should catch her if she fell. She wobbled on her impractically high heels, but eventually managed to stabilize herself. “You wanna know where Elena is?” she demanded, jabbing an accusatory finger in his direction. “Not here. That’s all I know.” She laughed shakily, spreading her arms to indicate the bridge. “You know why I’m here? You wanna know the fucked up reason I’m here?” She dropped her arms limp to her side then, as if defeated by her self-loathing. “Because this is where Elena’s parents died, and it’s the only place I know she won’t be.”
“If you’re as mad as all that, you could always help me find her,” the Original suggested, and immediately the witch reared up in righteous indignation.
“Hey!” She jabbed a finger in his direction again, the force of it nearly throwing her off-balance before she caught herself again. “Hey. Fuck you. I’m allowed to get mad at my dumbass friends without wanting to murder them, you psychopath. Not every problem can be solved with murder.” She tipped over, catching herself on the rail and leaning on it for support. “Do you realize,” she said suddenly, “that I am a literal magical negro? I mean really. And I don’t know if I should be grateful that no one’s mentioned it, or pissed the fuck off that they probably don’t even know what that is. Maybe they just think that’s normal, having a black friend that can do magic.”
“I’m afraid I don’t-”
“Shut the fuck up. I am talking.” Despite her claims, she paused for a moment, taking a deep breath and collecting her hazy thoughts. “My last boyfriend cheated on me with the ghost of a vampire,” she slurred finally. “I brought his ass back from the dead, and he cheated on me with a ghost. And now he’s been mind-controlled into being normal. But you already know that, don’t you?” Bonnie took another swig of her mysterious alcohol, and Kol opted for once not to interrupt. “The thing is, maybe we could have worked it all out, you know? I can even understand it, almost. Wanting closure. It’s not like they broke up. Maybe we could have had a calm and rational discussion about how it’s possible to find closure without making out with a fucking ghost. But the fact that I even had to compete…” Suddenly she looked as if she was about to cry, though she managed to refrain. “Like having to compete with the living white girls wasn’t bad enough?”
“What on earth are you drinking?” Kol wondered, faintly amused despite her heartfelt confession.
“I am a witch,” Bonnie explained with disgust. “I can set people on fire with my mind. You think I can’t ferment some damn grapes? I can ferment so many grapes, you’ll… be amazed at all the fucking grapes. So many grapes.” She punctuated her point with another swig, her mouth twisting in disgust. “Do you know how much shit I have to go through to fit in here? Do you know how long it takes to get my hair this straight? Do you have any idea how fucking obsessed these people are with ‘the good old days’ when they owned my ancestors? I dressed up to go see Gone with the Wind. Do you think that was fun for me?”
“I don’t know what that is.”
“You probably lived it. Asshole.” The frustrated young woman slumped, sliding down to sit on the pavement. “And I don’t say a damn thing about how stupid it all is. How could I? If I called them out on their bullshit, I would lose the only friends I have. I’d be the angry black girl. I’d be the crazy one, for pointing out that you assholes were alive at a time when I would not even have been considered human. How long were you in a coffin? You probably still don’t.”
“Actually, you’re all just meat to me,” Kol shrugged, though to be honest he was beginning to feel a bit uncomfortable.
This did not seem to comfort Bonnie, who found a loose stone and tossed it at his ankles. “Your egalitarian misanthropy is as charming as your fuck you.” She scowled, resting her chin in her hands like a petulant child. “When they sent Jeremy away, for just a second – maybe not even a second – but for just a moment, I couldn’t help wondering: are they sending him away because of me? Of course that was stupid, of course I had nothing to do with it, but I still wondered. How many times have I wondered about that? About whether or not my friends were influenced by my skin color. The wondering just eats away at you, and there’s nothing I can say. If I even tried, Elena and Caroline would fall all over themselves to tell me how little time they spend thinking about race. But that’s the fucking point. They don’t have to.”
“Why are you telling me this?” Kol asked, in a rare moment of sincerity. His puzzlement was written clearly across his face, that strange helplessness that comes with being exposed to another person’s vulnerability.
“Why? Because I don’t give a shit about you, and you don’t give a shit about me. Does this seem like the sort of shit I can go to therapy for? ‘Hello doctor, I have magical powers and I’m friends with murderous supernatural beings.’ The last time I met someone that could empathize with the depth of my issues, a vampire killed him with a flamethrower. I tried to accept my weird fate and flirt with a vampire, and he ate my mom. Who else is there?” Bonnie threw her hands up in disgust, spilling some of her wine.
“Anyone but me?” Kol suggested, though Bonnie ignored him.
“I’m sure the mature thing to do would be sit down with my idiot friends and have a heartfelt discussion about why they are stupid. But you know what happens then? The apologies. They will apologize endlessly, and they will mean every word of it, and it will go on forever. Eventually the only way to get them to stop will be to comfort them about the way they treated me. For fuck’s sake, my mother got turned into a vampire and they still couldn’t give me some alone time. Elena wouldn’t stop calling, Caroline actually tagged along while I tried to rebuild my broken life. It’s like they think I need white supervision at all times, lest I revert.” Kol opened his mouth to comment, but Bonnie was on a roll now and could not be stopped. “I can’t even listen to some damn hip-hop without Elena getting a look on her face like I just farted in her mouth. She never says anything, and I know it’s because she doesn’t want to seem racist, but that fucking look. Do I get a look like that when she puts on another radio station full of pretty boys in tight pants being sad over acoustic guitars? I just want to listen to some Jay-Z, for once.”
“What does J.Z. stand for?”
Bonnie threw another rock at Kol’s ankles, though he was beginning to think she was aiming a bit higher. “It stands for fuck this, I am done. Tomorrow, I will wake up hungover and I will pretend I have not sacrificed every damn thing for a friend who knows nothing about what it’s like to be me. Tomorrow, I will wake up and ignore the nagging thought in the back of my head that if Elena had told those literal murderers to fuck off sooner, what family I had might still be alive. Tomorrow, I will wake up and ignore the fact that maybe if Elena just let Damon turn her, you assholes would finally leave us all alone. Tomorrow, I will wake up and pretend I’ve never wondered whether or not her friendship was worth it. Tomorrow, I will wake up and remember all the good times, all the times that she was there for me before this town went to the magical murder dogs. Tomorrow, I will be my fabulous self, and no one will be the wiser.”
“I’m curious to see how exactly you’re planning to get home from here,” Kol said honestly, a touch of smugness in his voice despite himself.
“You’re going to carry me.”
“What?” He was taken aback by the suggestion, clearly not having anticipated that. “You didn’t strike me as being that… forward.”
Bonnie laughed at the suggestion, not even bothering to feel offended. “You wish. As of right now, I am the only girl in town not interested a body full of stolen blood. Damon is busy wallowing in his own issues, Stefan has a bad case of Neaderthal brow, and you Originals?”
“Too attractive?” Kol waggled his eyebrows, though the gesture was lost on his company.
“You’ve got butt-chins. Every single one of you. Mostly you. Now take me home, and let’s pretend this never happened.”
What he should have done was rip her throat out. She’d wasted his valuable time, she was presumptuous, and her powers were nothing unique. Instead, Kol found himself picking her up, light as a feather in his arms. “I plan to blackmail you extensively,” he assured her, even as he did her bidding.
Bonnie, giddy now that she’d spent the worst of her anger, snorted. “Black male,” she snickered, and Kol could only sigh.
“Puns? I am going to kill every single one of you.”
I get anxious about the most ridiculous shit.
Take writing. I’ve been writing for almost as long as I could read. At first, it was just an extension of play. When I was little, I’d have pretend adventures; eventually that was weird for a kid my age, so I started writing them down instead. It wasn’t exactly art, but I was twelve, so who cares. My mother almost immediately started encouraging me to try and get published, because I had a gift, and I was young so it would be a novelty, and then I would be swimming in cash!
I don’t blame my mother for this. It’s a perfectly reasonable response, for her, to finding out someone has a potentially marketable skill. It is not that my mother is some gullible chump, ready to fall on get-rich-quick schemes; it is that she has worked hard, for almost thirty years, in the Navy and through college and raising children, and she is still poor. Hard work has not, has never, saved her or the people she loves from poverty. Hers is a family of carpenters, construction workers, factory workers, and none of their hard work has saved them from being poor. She saw that I had what she perceived as a skill in common with the rich, and she saw my chance to not be poor.
Maybe it would have worked, even. But I’ve always been too stubborn for that. Even at thirteen, I looked at my novella about a super awesome fairy princess that had a suspicious amount in common with myself, and said, “Hell naw.” I wasn’t about to publish that, or anything else I might write. I simply wasn’t good enough. I didn’t want to make millions on writing I couldn’t stand. Let’s face it, low self-esteem and an inability to handle rejection didn’t help. Even when I did write short stories I found tolerable, I could never stand to do much more than post them on deviantART. No one was going to want my stupid stories. They’d just be rejected anyway. Might as well cut out the middle man and reject them myself.
I spent a long time not writing very much. What was the point? By the time I was 17 and in college, I didn’t have the attention span to write anything but pornography. That was sort of inevitable, in its own way: if I was never going to get published, why write anything publishable? Porn was the most fun for me, anyway. An occasional bit of decency might slip through the cracks now and again, but I spent most of my college career scribbling sex scenes in notebooks using a code I invented in the third grade. I shared it with absolutely no one.
It was NaNoWriMo that got me writing again, mostly to prove a point to myself. I was living with my father and my fiancé, and my father had never bothered me much about my writing. My fiancé did, occasionally, but he’d mostly given up. It was satisfying to write again, even if I still thought it was shit. I started sharing things, every now and again, with my fiancé or with friends online. Even if it was pornography half the time, I was still a touch pleased with how it turned out. Still not publishable, but the sort of thing I could share without being too embarrassed. Even started posting some things to Tumblr!
At some point it occurred to me that Kindle publishing was a thing now; that, if I wanted, I could just publish any ol’ smut story on Amazon and sell it for a buck. It wouldn’t even need to be that great, judging by some of the titles I read.
This awareness is pretty much what fucked me.
I didn’t write for months, writing having suddenly become this dreaded obligation. All of a sudden, writing was a thing that actually could make me money, even if not much. Suddenly, the only thing standing between me and a couple of bucks was my own writing, my ability to share things with strangers and trust that I had skills worth a dollar a pop. If I was writing, and wasn’t writing something that I might be able to publish for a quick buck, that was time I was wasting.
I stopped writing at all, for months, until I decided to stop giving a shit. I was writing for fun, I would probably always write for fun, I would probably never make thousands of dollars a month posting gay werewolf erotica. I was still a little jealous of the people who could, but I came to terms with the fact that I am too self-critical and too anxious for that world.
Today my mother discovered Kindle publishing. She is sending me email after email detailing a process I have already explored in depth. She is so fucking excited about this thing she just discovered. There is no way I will be able to explain to her adequately why I would not want to do something, anything to make even a tiny bit more than I already am. How do you explain inclinations so childish to someone who has worked so hard, has done so much, has overcome such ridiculous bullshit just to stay afloat?
Anyway if there’s no more Court of Cards for a little while it’s because I’m busy hiding in my closet from my mother, like the mature and responsible adult that I am.
WHO’S READY FOR MORE BODICERIPPING DRAGONFUCK aka two people don’t actually have sex because they’re too busy talking about their feelings and making sure they have enthusiastic consent or at least a safeword. Today we get a more in-depth introduction to Stewart, who is basically some kind of bishie crossed with a flighty broad. That’s what the kids like, right? Artsy prettyboys who can’t remember to wear clean clothes half the time?
Marianne’s plan of hiding behind one of her cousins for the day failed miserably when a strange woman appeared and threw him over her head. That the woman then stole a kiss from said cousin, thus completing some sort of mysterious mating ritual, did nothing to make her feel better about it. It might not have been so bad, except that Alphonse refused to get up, apparently as dazed with love as he was by the fall. She tried to hide behind the Ace, as he was the larger cousin anyway, but Gaston was more active than his brother. He was also attempting to get to know his future bride – the Jack of Diamonds – an activity which was not helped by having a small relative lurking behind one’s back. There was no point trying to hide behind the Three; Briana was too observant for that, and would be thoroughly curious as to why she was hiding.
This left Marianne with no choice but to wander between crowds, hanging around just long enough that she felt disguised without feeling obligated to actually converse. She was simultaneously relieved and distressed when she saw the Ace of Hearts and the Ace of Diamonds head away from the main party to go for a stroll along a secluded forest path. Of course he wasn’t actually going to confront her here, where his peers could see him cavorting with an Eight of Clubs. It was a silly notion to begin with.
Then there was a hand on her shoulder, and she squeaked in alarm, twirling around to find an almost equally surprised looking… Heart?
“You are a dainty little Club.” Yes, there was no mistaking those teeth; definitely a Heart.
“And you’re a great big mess of a Heart,” she blurted before she could stop herself, though really it wasn’t as if he could take offense. No cravat, vest unbuttoned, and what seemed to be grass stains on his trousers; for a Club that was almost fancy, but for a Heart?
“Yes, well,” he coughed politely, “You are the Eight of Clubs, correct? I am Stewart, Jack of Diamonds.”
“Oh! I suppose I see the resemblance.” He looked surprised at that, but Marianne meant it. He was darker than his brother, neither as tall nor as wide, his nose smaller and his chin more of a point; but the eyes were the same shape, topped with the same thick brows, and the mouths were similar if not exact. Marianne found his to be less kissable, though she quashed that thought as best she could.
“I would like, if you would not mind, to take a walk with you, that I might get to know you better.” He offered her his arm, and she stared at it in confusion for a moment before looking back to his face. He looked… uncomfortable. Sincere, in a more general sense, but specifically uncomfortable now.
“If you would like,” she accepted uncertainly, placing one hand tentatively in the crook of his arm. Immediately, and with a ferocity she had not expected, he clapped his hand down on hers and began striding purposefully towards the shaded path. Once again she found herself practically running to keep up with a Heart, though this time she was simply confused rather than intrigued.
“I assure you that ordinarily I would be much more considerate, and would not rush you so,” Stewart confided in low tones, “but I’m afraid I am in a terrible hurry, and as Benedict is far worse than I in such matters, I thought perhaps it could be forgiven of me this once.”
“Oh yes, I’m sure you’re still too smitten with him to see his many flaws, but even so I cannot imagine you’ve failed to notice the way he makes a person run after him – like he’s a pig and you’ve got a hat.”
“… you sound like you’re speaking from experience.”
“I most certainly am!” he shot back heatedly, his steps slowing slightly as he became engrossed in conversation. “I was only seven, practically an infant, and that – that Ass of Hearts – tells me that if I can catch a pig and put a hat on it, it will be my lifelong companion and tell me its secrets. What secrets does a pig even have? I still don’t know, as I never managed to catch the thing.”
“I meant the Ace’s manner of walking, actually. I didn’t think that it would be a problem with you, as you’re closer to his height.”
“Oh. Yes. I’m fairly certain he walks faster in my presence on purpose, as otherwise I don’t think I’d have such trouble keeping up with him.”
“They had to renovate the Court of Clubs to widen all the doors,” Marianne empathized, though the look this brought to the Jack’s face made it clear he had no idea what she meant. “Alphonse and Gaston,” she clarified, “the Jack and Ace of Clubs? Queen Adrien proclaimed that when they are together, they must pass through doors next to one another. I am not sure if he actually declared it law or not.”
“I’m afraid I don’t follow.”
“It started with buckets above doors, and then platters above doors, and eventually baby yaks above doors. Eventually neither would allow the other to walk behind him, and they would stand before doorways for hours, insisting that the other brother be the one to pass first. Even if one could get past them, all one got for one’s trouble was a yak on one’s head. It made the halls very difficult to navigate, and so my Lord had the doors widened such that both brothers could pass through at the same time.”
“While I can see your point, I would say that their sibling rivalry is not at all comparable, as they are twins, and thus are doing honorable battle with their peers.”
“When Leon turned twelve, Alphonse and Gaston got him a bear for his birthday.”
“… I take it this is not a Club tradition?”
“It was a surprise bear. In his bathtub.”
They were in the woods now, and walked in silence for a moment, Stewart looking contemplative. Finally, as they neared a secluded area beside a riverbank, he ventured, “Clubs are very different from Hearts, culturally speaking.”
“Not that different.”
Stewart sighed, releasing Marianne’s arm and indicating that she should sit on the lovingly carved stone bench – was everything the Hearts built intended for romantic liaisons? “Eight, you are far too clever and too sweet for Benedict,” he proclaimed, “and if I were not busy being in the thrall of a goddess I would probably try to save you from him. Or perhaps you do not want to be saved. Clubs are a mystery to me.”
“Clubs are a mystery to Clubs,” she responded automatically, but before she could say anything else, he was headed off to her left with a cheerful wave down a winding path, without so much as a goodbye. “But… why am I here?” she asked the air where he’d been, in what was once again a dreadful squeak.
“Because I asked him to bring you,” came a throaty purr from the direction she wasn’t looking, and Marianne found herself frozen again. If she hadn’t been so busy being terrified, she’d have wondered at how conveniently he seemed to appear exactly outside her field of vision. “It has come to my attention,” the low voice continued, coming closer, “that I have very likely gone about things all wrong – indeed, I would go so far as to say in the worst possible way. As such, I would like first to apologize, and second to clarify.” Marianne continued not to move as she heard and felt Benedict sit down beside her. Looking at him didn’t seem like it would help matters, even if she did look rather silly, twisted around such that she could sit beside him with her back turned.
When Marianne remained silent, Benedict continued, apparently unfazed, “Marianne, Eight of Clubs, you may consider this a formal apology from the Ace of Hearts for having spoken to you in a manner both rude and presumptuous, and having behaved in a manner much the same. My behavior was based on assumptions that in retrospect I ought not to have made, considering how little I know of you – to say nothing of how little I know you. You are under no obligation to forgive me, though it would please me greatly if you would find it in your heart to do so.”
“Of course,” came her instantaneous response, an appalling little sigh of the sort that ought to be reserved for lovesick schoolgirls. Every word that came out of his mouth made her stomach tie itself into new and exciting shapes, her skin felt downright prickly, and even though he wasn’t touching her, Marianne’s back felt absurdly warm from his mere presence.
“May I touch you?” he asked gently, and it was a wonder she didn’t fall right over in a swoon.
“Yes,” Marianne sighed again, more wobbily this time, because she thought that if she opened her mouth too long she’d find herself saying, “I made someone fuck me from behind last night so that I could pretend it was you.” While he probably would have appreciated that sort of directness, it wouldn’t do either of them much good when she keeled over dead of horrified embarrassment.
She was a bit disappointed when, instead of whatever lascivious seductions she had hoped for, he used his permissions to take her shoulders and gently turn her to face him. Her first thought on seeing him this close was how can he possibly be more handsome than I remembered, followed by there is dappled light falling across his face for goodness’ sake, and subsequently so that’s what dappled light looks like.
The problem, Marianne realized, was that she had only remembered in a vague way that he was handsome, and that his features were arranged generally where they ought to go. She had not remembered the way his hair was curled with such absurd perfection, nor the way it shone, the way light falling on it made it look five different shades of on fire. She had not remembered his mouth being so wide, like his jaw would fall off if he grinned, nor how that tiny beard made his chin come to such a point. Had it not been for the small bit of fullness in his cheeks, his whole face would have been nothing but sharp edges, as if just looking at him would cut her eyes right out. Here he was, all gentle and contrite, and yet Marianne was filled with a deep and instinctive conviction that he was about to eat her alive.
“I find myself in a conundrum, Marianne,” Benedict confessed in a voice so soft she could wrap it around herself like a blanket. “I would like very much to get to know you better, but because of my current state of ignorance, I cannot divine on my own whether this would be agreeable to you. What I need at this moment is for you to tell me, in no uncertain terms, whether or not you have any interest in me.”
“Well that’s no fun,” she croaked weakly, realizing even as she said it that this was the opposite of what he’d asked for. The Ace at least did not take offense, the corner of his mouth crooking upward with faint amusement.
“Under normal circumstances, I might agree – but I’m afraid that as of right now, unless you can give me an unequivocal yes, I cannot in good conscience persist when my doing so has the possibility of hurting you via misunderstanding. Don’t deny the possibility! Just yesterday I tried to say ‘you cannot resist my wiles’ and instead you heard ‘I am bigger and stronger and have more power politically’. You are a mystery to me, little Club, and one I will not risk solving if it might destroy you.”
“I am not that weak,” Marianne protested defensively, and Benedict’s expression moved just the slightest bit towards exasperated.
“I am not saying that you are, but you are not helping your point when you refuse to say whether you find me intriguing or appalling, and it helps even less when you persist in looking utterly terrified.”
“I am not a coward!” she protested yet more vigorously, ignoring the fact that she had been terrified until she’d become too offended to notice.
Benedict let out a horrified groan and buried his face in his gloved hands, his gentleness and understanding lost in the frustration of a plan gone all wrong. “It also does not help when you insinuate that I am some sort of trial to be braved.”
“I did no such thing!” Marianne squeaked indignantly.
“Marianne, if you cannot even tell me whether or not you are potentially interested in some sort of relationship, then I absolutely will not take that risk and will go retrieve Stewart to take you back to the picnic.” While Benedict’s voice was muffled by his own palms, it was nonetheless clear that he was using a tone of voice typically reserved for mothers who would rather you did not make them come in there.
“If a bear flops down and proclaims its own yearning for death, the hunter who kills it might be doing it a favor, and it might technically still be considered a hunt, but it would be a fairly dreadful one.”
“It is bad enough you have resorted to metaphors but that one does not even make sense.”
“Look – not literally, put your head back in your hands, it’s easier this way – when you were visiting the Court of Clubs, how did you usually tell when someone wasn’t interested?”
“Typically they punched me and told me to go away,” came the muffled droll.
“Have I done that yet?”
There was a long pause, and Marianne began to wonder if Benedict was deciding that she was more trouble than she was worth. She wouldn’t blame him, really; she probably would have given up by now.