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hibewriter

May 20

Welcome! I'm Ari (she/they), 27, occasionally writing fanfiction. MDNI. This is an 18+ account. I block minors, ageless, and blank blogs so have an age indicator somewhere!

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#welcome post#minors do not interact

hibewriter

Jun 4

The Curse of Linhir

Masterlist Read it on AO3 WIP

Chapter 1 2

The Rings of Power / The Lord of the Rings | Haladriel / Saurondriel | 5.1K | E

Tags: 1st person POV | Lovecraftian Horror | Sex Pollen | Sirens

One

The raids happened in January. TheNúmenarian Guardhad docked on the coast ofLinhirat nearly a quarter past one – predatory as they stalked the rot-shredded docks as the moon hung low, shrouded behind clouds. The youngest deputies crouched low close to the moss-felt stones of the waterside pathways, stealing their way into each closed off business. This was not a search for evidence, as so many claimed. In fact, theLinhir Raidswere the result of a two-months investigation – nearly fifty arrests made in the name of theRegent, her majestyMíriel. Each arrest was kept under lock and key – more so than that of the actual event.

Though the public didn't learn of it until March. Which was hardly surprising. Even then theTirharad Timesmade the grave mistake of mixing their dates. The paper, in their attempt to bring this obfuscation to light, had reported the raids happening in February. But reader rest assured – the raids happened in January. The final report, the decimating blow to the sleepy town ofLinhir, was completed in February.

There were plenty of small details (such as the dates, times, and 'first-hand' accounts of that night) that appeared to be handled with all the care a small-town paper could afford to give — especially with so much interference. It really can't be blamed on the poor reporters of theTirharad Times. In fact, I'd go as far as to argue that the information that was able to be gleamed by any outsider was purposefully shrouded in mystery and inaccuracies. Anything more than a whisper of a name was bound to bring the unwanted attention ofthe Guard.

Most of the information around the investigation, the subsequent raids and arrests, and the very captives ofthe Guardwere kept heavily redacted. I'd wager to say that the documents and reports that were released were muddled, dark and confusing to anyone who wasn't able to be present for the events. Those that were made the objectively self-preserving decision to never speak of theLinhir Raidsagain. Whether they were correct to do so, only time would tell. I, myself, stayed far away from the January raids.

(Honestly, I wish I had stayed away fromLinhirentirely. I wish I still had my brother. I wish I had never boarded that bus. I wish I'd never metHalbrand Smith. I wish. I wish. Iwish.)

So one could be forgiven for wondering about the vague rumors of what happened to the half-desolate town in a forgotten corner of Middle Earth. I'd even expect one, perhaps such as yourself, would wonder if the stories of exclusive prisons and naval operations were true. Were torpedoes fired into the sea just off the coastline of the tiny port town? Were citizens taken to hidden prisons without trial? Were those same citizens left to rot, forgotten about in dark holes with zero opportunities to set themselves free? Did theQueen Regentorder the violent capture of women and children to be carted off to secret laboratories? Were the people ofLinhireven human?

There's many that I don't know the answers to. And what I do know is a curse to carry in my heart – now in yours as well. Not for lack of trying. I can not begin to recount each and every time I attempted to arrange an audience with theQueen Regent, desperate for answers...for closure. Alas,her majestywas well versed in the art of keeping a secret. I even deigned myself into working closely with my haggard companion from that stormy morning in October. Despite our prodding, our need for answers on the events ofthat night, theQueen Regenthas vested herself into keeping her mouth shut. Only those who need to know will know the aftermath of theLinhir Raids— and even they will never know the full story. Yet, I grow weary of this imposed silence. There's so much about that initial night. That cursed late October. So many answers to questions yet asked, some answers conflicting yet true at the same time.

The morning of October 28th I, along with my unwilling companion, managed to flea the decrepit town ofLinhir. I had ran, cloaked in nothing more than a t-shirt and the threadbare soles of my brother's old hiking boots, nearly twenty miles to the Regent's port home inNúmenor. Each step was agony – the ill-timed impromptu marathon more than enough to cause my lungs and thighs to burn like coal cinders. Yet it was nothing compared to the sinking dread — a fear I hadn't gotten far enough away.

I had, at the time, found theQueen Regent's arguments of secrecy and desecration important – taking an oath of silence in the interests of preserving the integrity of the investigation. However, since the investigation and subsequent fall out have left the general awareness of the public eye (the public having reliably moved to the next notable event, now leaving the horrors ofLinhirto the past) I find myself yearning to speak loudly and clearly about the torments. I refuse to keep this burning flame inside me.

If I shall burn, all of you must burn with me.

It is, unfortunately, wholly selfish. My recounting of this tale will not bring a comfort at the end of this story. Unless, of course, you are one to find comfort in the atrocities thegloriousNúmenor Guard may or may not be committing against creatures unknown and humans alike. But I need to remind myself, if not the world, exactly what happened that night in October. I need to reassure myself this all wasn't some insipid fever dream concocted by grief and nightmares. I need to feel sane again, if only by commiserating in the insanity with my fellow man.

I never heard ofLinhiruntil the month before I stepped on its balmy shore. Not that it was of common knowledge for me to know of. I had to procure – or rather my agent had to procure – several aged directories, none of which aligned with the most recent guide-books or latest maps, to even pin-point a land route that would take me to the damned town. I wish I could say I was doing something foolhardy or adventurous. Unfortunately it was no sense of wanderlust that took hold of me. My brother,Finrod, was the one out finding himself. I was merely trying to find him.

However, I had no car. I barely wanted to expend the cost of the cheapest bus ticket to the seaside town. Much to the chagrin of my agent I was determined to not spend a cent more than neccessary tracking my brother through archaic letters littered with aggressively sloppier writing the drunker he got. But I was determined to find him. If I had known the torment I would experience, I would've at least sprung for coach.

"Galadriel," Elrond, my agent, had sighed. "I suppose you'll have to take the old bus. Not many people like it, mostlybecauseof its route throughLinhir. But, it's your cheapest and most direct route."

The first I'd heard ofLinhir– outside of my brother's vague penmanship marking his board for a night – and it had sounded more miserable than fun. Elrond was always a bit intrigued by places of that ilk. The lack of attention and clear disdain from all but its inhabitants spoke to him in a touristy way. Ever so that he would press to describe all he gleamed with the air of a child explaining their favorite show.

"There used to be a train, of course. One that ran all the way from Rohan toDol Amroth! And then there was the war. The railroad shut down. And according to record,Linhirwent from being a city to little more than a town. Isn't that exceptional?"

" Now it's more empty buildings than anything. Sure, they still have the port – in fact I'm sure you'll get an excellent lobster while you're there, probably fresher than what we get here. Oh, and Old Adar seems to have the market on —"

Apologies, dear reader (especially to you Elrond, should you read this), but it is here I begun to tune out of the conversation. And perhaps I should've listened more intently. Perhaps I should've gleamed the wisdom my friend was trying to pass on in between gossip of the local elite and their business. I wish I had listened to his advise. I never would've stayed the night if I had. Or at least I would've queried the local library and shop keepers about the finer points of what life was like in the lonely city. Maybe if I had listened I could tell you all that I've learned since.

The morning of October 26th, merely a quarter-past dawn, I stood outside the Old-Calembel Pharmacy waiting for the bust toLinhir. I rarely spent time in the historic district. Rarely needed to. So it made sense that today I would be waiting as the morning mist settled into dew and wet on the cobble-stoned street. The entire experience was new and marvel, and I had the luxury of being able to spot my fellow passengers as the hour drew closer to our departure.

There were only three other passengers. A woman and her husband – both of which looked as though they'd rather still be in some sort of hovel or hole with which they'd crawled out of (though I don't mean to be rude, it just seemed that I was the most finely-dressed at the station and I merely worn a simple pair of jeans and a faded t-shirt of Finrod's). The last passenger was unkempt as could be, as if he'd rolled out of a gutter to stand at the waiting platform with me. He's someone I would've never guessed would mean so much to me now. Especially not with his appearance then.

Still, when the old bus clamored down the street (likely rousing any person who may have tried to sleep in this morning) in all it's rusting metal and backfiring jolts, I knew we were all joining to the right one. The driver, an old yet earnest looking fellow, hopped from the main cabin the second he slammed the vehicle into park. Barely a muttered grunt of an excuse before he slipped into the pharmacy as the pharmacist turned on the light. Though nothing truly happened in that moment, I felt a wave of nausea overcome me. A dread pit warning me from stepping onto that bus.

Or perhaps I just had indigestion.

Barely ten minutes had passed before the driver came out of the store again. I tried not to stare this time. The man was hunched, a slouch to his demeanor that caused even one of his stoutness to look almost dwarfish. Though he was much too narrow and spindly to be considered such. Truth be told he seemed to me to be somewhat of an omen, like a witchdoctor who would curse one's family for forgetting a menial task. There was a certain greasiness, an alienation from what a normal person would be, that I couldn't shake from his image. The nausea wouldn't go away.

I was only comforted on the bus by my fellow passengers. Somehow the ride seemed slightly bearable with other witnesses. As feeble as the man seemed outwardly, I didn't want to trust my arrival to be beheld to how well my mace and fist would carry me. Both are fine in a pinch (my father was adamant that no Noldor wouldn't be able to hold their own in a fight, however unseemly my mother felt it was), however I couldn't help but not the queer look in his eye when he noticed me board.

"Linhir," I had muttered to him, showing him my ticket. He had looked so shocked, curiosity evident across his entire face as he fed my paper into the machine to be stamped. But he said nothing at the time. So I guided myself to the back of the bus, hopefully away from the other passengers and far away from any questions and prying eyes. My brother hadn't taken the bus intoLinhirby any rate – he'd chosen to sail down the coast.So I doubt the bus driver and riders would have seen him, and I wasn't particularly interested in gaining new friends or acquaintances (yes,Halbrand, I recognize the irony of this now).

As luck would have it, the weather held out exceptionally well for most of the drive. I was able to see most of the country and shore-side from my seat, looking out both windows into partially cloudy expanse of blue skies and sea. Sure, the shrubbery and sand seemed to shift in each shifting location. Once we exited Calembel proper and began following the route through less established towns, the maintenance decreased. Not that I could judge too harshly.

It was an hour outside ofLinhirthat the sky grew dark. Clouds grew denser. Thicker. There was something so ethereal about that first bolt of lightening. It had cut through the sky right as we crossed into the Dor-en-enil County line. The road maintenance was nil at this point, yet I still found myself in awe of the desolate houses in the fields so far off. Even more so of the crude wooden bridge we dared to pass over and the crumbling foundation-walls that begun to line the streets the closer we got.

(Many people, with the information they'd gleamed from theLinhir Raids, assumed that the sorry state of affairs came from the evil that made it's home in this city. I'm here to assure you, dear reader, that most of the malady in the outward appearance came well beforeLinhirfound itself home to devils. The responsible party for the displeasing appearance ofLinhir, like with all things, rested with it's local government.)

Linhir, when we pulled into it's city limits, looked the part of a city that had greater aspirations than it did people. The town itself was built as though it were densely populated – thin buildings pressed against one another, each sharing several walls as they crumbled beneath the weight of themselves after years of neglect. The roofs sagged in on each other, shingles missing in patches and clumps from years of weather related damage. There were some large colonial styled homes, mostly on the outskirts, that seemed just maintained enough not to be condemned by any city inspector who gave a damn. The bus didn't take us by the railway, but I must let you know that it was in no better shape than the rest of the town. In fact, I'd wager to say the rest of Middle Earth didn't even know there was a train station inLinhir.

The town was still, surprisingly quiet. I don't think I found myself seeing more than three people walking along the cracked sidewalks at a time. They always walked in clumps, as if afraid the wind would blow a single person away and drag them out to sea. You can imagine how this didn't strike much confidence in my mission. In fact, it didn't strike much confidence at all. I couldn't imagineFinrodchoosingto spend his coming-of-age year here, of all places. There were no shops with interesting trinkets, or overly pretty women or men, and definitively I could say the conversationalist of this place was lack-luster at best.

The bus offered little protection from the unwelcoming hospitality of the town's appearance, yet I was glad when I first made my way off of that bus. My nausea seemed to ease as I breathed in the air of the sea as I stepped onto stoney streets. While Old-Calembel lined its streets with cobbled stone, that always seemed like an aesthetic choice. Yet, withLinhir, the choice seems to come from no one bothering to breathe the life of the twenty-first century into its streets.

It was a shockingly long trek from the shop the bus dropped us at to the inn for my check in. My suitcase kept catching on raised stones, and I couldn't help but stare as the downtrodden buildings seemed to slowly gain a new life the closer I came to the city center. One side of the street seemed to fall off directly into the ocean, while the other, the one with the shoppes, seemed to suddenly have a small gatherings of people – they seemed to all come and go at the rate of leisurely shoppers. I almost felt as though I was gaping at them.

However, I somehow found the wherewithal to look ahead, down the shoreline, where the street began an upward slant. The hill was further than I was traveling to. In fact, I could see my destination, or at least the sign outside of the building, nestled just before the road began to curve upward. That is how I made my way toThe Pelorum Inn. The sign was old, another signature thing in this town worn away by time. There was a singular unlit lantern underneath, still powered by oil and match from the looks of it. It was a marvel, yet not in a comforting sense. There was no air of kitchy oddities to take photos of and bring home. Just age and neglect.

I wasn't expecting the interior to be nice. Though when I stepped inside I was immediately accosted with the overwhelming layer of dust. At the reception, a teen. Probably no older than seventeen, a lopsided name tag that seemed to be the newest thing in this place hanging haphazardly off his wrinkled shirt. "Theo". He had a bored expression as he leaned against the counter, barely looking up at the chime of the door opening and closing behind me. Not like I expected a hearty welcome and a stay at the Aria, but I stood in front of this boy for nearly three minutes without a single acknowledgement. I'd even tapped the bell twice. Eventually, he decided I was worth the effort to look away from his journal, though the bored expression remained.

"I have a reservation," I'd said. "ForGaladriel. Noldor." He arches an eyebrow. As if aghast that anyone would make a reservation at the small inn. Still, he does move efficiently at least. I have my key in less than a minute, the metal barely hitting my palm before the chime of the front door rang through again – another arrival.

"A room, Theo," a gruff voice rang through. And I turned to see it's owner. It struck me odd, in that moment, that anyone with the familiarity to not need to get close to the faded letters on the boy's shirt would need to get board for a night. And I'm struck to see the ruffian from the bus stop. His beard is unkempt, the faded windbreaker jacket hanging strangely from his shoulders as a light rucksack hung from his shoulders. He was holding a cigarette in his mouth, the smoke idling as it began to fill the space around him. My nose scrunches, and I begin to turn towards the stairway.

"No can do,Hal," Theo says, suddenly cherrier than he was just a moment ago. There's a certain lit to his voice, as if seeing the drifter had suddenly made his whole weekend. "The Miss here just took the last space. Ya know, ma's been using the spares as her infirmary for those who don't wanna go to the clinic up in Ethrin'."

"Did she now?"

The stranger's eye catches mine.Hal, Theo had called him. But he looks to me with an apprehension. I'm no stranger to being looked over. Noldor's rarely moved into any space without causing some sort of stir or commotion (truth be told I was surprised I made it this far without garnishing the attention that my appearance typically brought).

"Don't be like that,Hal," the boy chastises before I can fix my mouth to speak. "She's the only one around here who doesn't smell like two-day old tuna."

I don't pretend to be the most prim and proper of the bunch (though I've been told my self perception and reality may be different), however I found the crude visual less than appealing. I picked up my overnighter, finishing my journey toward the stairs in record haste. By the time I find myself unpacked and returned to the foyer of the inn, both the vagabond and the boy were gone. The latter replaced with a woman with a kind, if not tired, smile. Her name was Bronwyn, and seemed more than eager to meet a new guest.

She was the first person inLinhirI'd asked about my brother. Not that it had turned up much good. The conversation was ostensibly long and dull. I had seen the afternoon sun when I had made my decent down the stairs. Yet, as I spoke to her, it was replaced with the dusky pinks and purple hues of the sunset.

She wasn't like Elrond in her descriptions of the city. No, she was far less eager. Instead, she spoke fondly of her actual home, out in Tirharad. Even fonder of the weekend she would spend there after the grueling week that was to come. She complained, of course, about the little things. There was no library, or chamber of commerce. No directional booth to point me on my way. But I shouldn't find myself venturing too far off the main road.

The way she described it, outside of the main road was no place for an unchaperoned lady. It was almost incredulous. As if she were speaking of the world in the reign of Ardamin, and not in our modern era. The streets outside of the main road weren't as welcoming. I wonder what could be less welcoming than the experience to get here. Bronwyn was the first welcoming face in this town (and certainly the last). But she was adamant: don't venture off the main road.

I was never good at listening. In fact, it was within moments of me stepping out from the inn's warmth that I had begun attempting to traverse away from the main road. Just one road over. I slipped through the alleyway, staying on the parallel back of the main road. I could catch glimpses of the sea, normally so peaceful. Yet, with each glimpse it grew fuller. Floating dots in the sea. Far enough away that I couldn't quite make out faces, but I could hear the childlike voices rising above the waves.

I remember at the time thinking it was was odd. The tide was likely at it's highest, from the little I knew of the makings of the waves, yet the children seemed to be more joyful than they had when we had arrived during the day. I wondered, then, whether their parents were concerned they would be pulled out to sea.

There was another thing Bronwyn had said. One that she said when, at the end of her spiel about where would be best to eat my dinner, I had pulled an image of my brother from my pocketbook. The change was near instantaneous. Her jovial smile had dropped — face turning from girlish to hardened woman within the blink of my eye. Like a soldier returning home from war.

"You came here looking for someone?" It was a question but it sounded like an accusation. A spew of sudden irritation. I, of course, was confused by her sudden outburst. And I told her as such, tucking my photo away. I went so far as to explain my brother's last letter. HowFinrodhad spoke of visiting this town himself on his quest to explore the coast. All the while her face remained hard and unforgiving. Less understanding.

"Don't go looking for him with the locals," she'd said, words full of a darkened promise. "You won't get the answers you seek."

The further south on the road I went, the more I found myself wondering after the strange disposition. But worse, the more I wondered by the winding of the road to follow the sea. The legions of people who seemed to drift into the water — was it for leisure? To see the stars twinkling in the rocky waves up close? This was nothing of note as I began to leave the main shopping area. The sun seemed to take what little signs of life there was in the small town.

I passed homes. Or at least what I think were homes. Some showed obvious signs of life – lights, wafting smells of dinner, smoke rising out of the chimney – other buildings were as dark as the shadows in their allies. Their windows were black, gaping hollows. Their foundations were rotten, forcing the buildings to lean at awkward, incredulous angles. I wondered how long they'd been abandoned to reach such a state of disrepair. I wonder if anything can come and put them together again. Or maybe this town would die its slow and deliberate death, only to be bulldozed and rebuilt anew by some hedge fund or aspiring politician who decides to create his own backstory.

It's easy to wonder about the what ifs when you drift, aimless, through the streets. Truth be told, I supposed I assumed their had to besomethingmore forFinrodto traverse to. Something outside of artisanal shops and tepid shop owners to entertain the likes of my brother for more than a night. Something to distract him from writing to me.

Eventually I turn around. I turn North, looking to make my way back to Inn. But I must've walked a circle. Or something akin to it. Unless all the streets ofLinhirlooked the same and I was – no. I must've doubled back without noticing. Because I was on the strip. Or at least...it looked like it. Identically the street ended in a hill, one that climbed high above to the sky. To my right, the sea. To my left, the row of nondescript shops.

I make quick work to approach the Inn. A wave of tiredness taking over my senses. Each step felt as though I was pushing against it. As if I suddenly found myself in a wind tunnel blowing me away from the comfort of a warm bed and an even warmer bath. I almost don't notice my folly when I barge into the inn. Not until I run into the back of a tall stranger as I flounder in my pocketbook for my room key. No, not a stranger. Well. Less of a stranger than the unfamiliar face behind the counter. My offended less-than-stranger turns, facing me with an arched eyebrow that feels to proper for a vagrant to muster.

"Shouldn't you already have a room," he –Halthe boy had called him – spoke with all the disdain of a scorned lover. "Or do you insist on buying the last free room in this town out of some unknown vendetta? If it is the latter, I prefer if you explained how I wronged you so."

I, of course, felt all the indignity of my father flow through me in an instant. My frown turned more pronounced, brows tightening in annoyance at the veritable stranger.

"I'd beg your pardon, but it appears manners escaped you." My mother likely would've admonished both of us should she had been privy to this introductory meeting. I find myself remaining in his space, my hands on my hips as I glared up into his face. It was one of the rare moments of my life in which I could lament my stature as I truly had to crane my neck to look into the eyes of a behemoth. "I have stolen nothing. My agent booked me a room, which I would love to get to in due haste, so if you just –"

Here I would've moved around this stranger. Arrogance does not make a man and I refused to be in the presence of a beast longer than I had to. However it seems that fate had other things in mind. The brute's hand wraps around my forearm with ease, dragging me away from the staircase as if I were nothing more than a petulant child.

"As...unmannerly that I happen to be,princess, you're in the wrong inn." He gestures to a sign, one that definitely wasn't there this afternoon. It was newer, seemingly the only new thing in this town. Finely finished wood with golden embellishments —The Paestum Inn. It is a moment of pure despair that overcomes me then. One that must have shown on my face as my wayward stranger slackens his hold on me. The crease in his brow lessens as the corners of his mouth release from their snarl and change into a downward tilt –not quite a frown, but enough for me to know that I was being pitied.

Pity is a disgusting attribute. It's appalling to those who receive it – settling over their skin in a slimy coat that no amount of showers, soaps, and perfumes will remove. I detested it. I lamented it. I —

"Bastard can't just hire a lady to do his work, eh?" Both of our faces whip to the source of the tertiary voice. A man, who looked just as haggard as my unwilling companion. His black hair fell greasy and unwashed on his shoulders; his long, angular face seemed perpetually cast in the shadow of the low lamps of the foyer; and his dress, the clothes of maybe a long forgotten wealth, seemed to have several re-stitched seams that frayed at the ends. Still, he seemed to stroll to us with the confidence of any noble or lord, eyes narrowed in a faux suspicion. "Adar, at your service."

I heard his name before, though the context had disappeared from my mind. Still, I felt the hand on my arm tighten, as if the man behind me was somehow more agitated now that we were face to face with this man.

"Adar,"Halpractically hissed. A warning, a threat thinly veiled all in the pretense of a name. AndAdarstops, just a few steps away. The smile remains, but his face is hardened. I feel as if my presence is incidental to whatever pissing match is going on between the two.Halgives little resistance when I snatch my arm out of his grasp. Surprisingly so. But still, I turn toward the door, stealing myself for the journey ahead of me through the strange streets at night.

"Well," I say, and even I cringe at the primmed and proper inflection of my tone. "Aslovelyas you both seem. I must be getting to my room."

This time it isAdarwho blocks my path. He shifts, standing between me and the door, and I immediately feel the dread from a few moments ago return with a vengeance.

"Oh, dear, I'm afraid I can't let you do that quite yet."

#haladriel#saurondriel

hibewriter

Jun 4

Mountain Glory

Masterlist Read it on AO3

Call of Duty | Ghost x Reader / Poly!141xReader | 5.7K | E

Tags:Public Sex | Somnophilia | One Bed | NonConsenual Voyuerism

John Price was dead to her.

Not truly. But if she ever survived this god forsaken mission she was going to have words with her legendary Captain and the f*cking cigar he always inexplicably held in his mouth. The mission didn't seem real — there was something surreal about his grumbled words of a base on the top of a mountain in the Himalayas — some inexplicable feeling of dead as she was one of the few singled out of fresh faced Sergeants with something to prove. There was barely any time to pack, let alone process anything other than the zero dark thirty time call and mission brief.

There was room between the cold metal of the hanger and her point lead, but just barely. He was massive, a hulking figure she'd only ever seen at the periphery of the mess hall, but now his thigh was pressed snuggly against hers and she refused to acknowledge the warmth that spread through her — not while they were hurling over the Atlantic and various European countries for nearly fifteen hours. She was a professional. She knew how to do her job, had climbed the ranks to be here; lost enough blood, sweat, and tears fighting for a faceless leader.

Yet it's right when she's preparing to jump — geared up and harnessed into parachute — she realizes she's forgotten it. Her baklava, standard issue to prevent the cold. She pictured it clearly, sitting on the bed of her barrack bunk waiting to be packed into a bag that's a world away. And it's not John Price's fault. It's hers and hers alone. But god, it was easier to blame him.

Her point hands her the spare with barely a glance, simply locks into his parachute. She thinks maybe he won't speak, and she can pretend that her silence isn't rude. She locks herself into the harness, prepares herself to drop into the tundra below.

"How copy, Sergeant?" Ghost asks, but she refuses to meet his gaze. Instead she straightens her back, squares here shoulders.

"Good, copy, LT." The exit light turns green, she's in the air before he can speak again.

It's not the weather that has her cursing the whole thing. Though it certainly didn't help. She squinted against the wind through her borrowed baklava, the snow slamming into her face doing little to mask the scent of its owner from filling your nose. A clean aftershave and the muted hint of menthol that lingered couldn't be masked by the crispy wet of the mountain top. Though it seemed that her teammate's scent was the only thing the snow couldn't cover.

What had her cursing was Price's audacity to assign her withthisteam.Thisteammate to spend the bulk of her mission besides. It made sense — she was a sniper,Ghostwas a higher rank who trained snipers. How many countless silent nights in the barracks did she spend, hand shoved down boxers brought on sale — a long forgotten pipe dream of a boyfriend loaning them to sleep in and an impulse purchase after another failed date — thoughts ofGhostseeping in to every fantasy she conjured. Each fantasy deeper, more vivid, until she came — voice muffled as she bit into her palm, fingers finally slowing and breaths coming down.

The only benefit to the promotion so far was having a private bedroom, and that wouldn't be found here.

_____

The ground, the sky, the flurry of pellets in the wind – it was all white. White as far as she could see with her natural eyes. If it wasn't for the locater preventing her from stuffing her hands into the standard issue field jacket, she would've believed the base they were searching for to be a myth. But no. It all came down toMakarov. ChasingMakarov, stoppingMakarov– taking him out of the equation for good. But, as she was coming to find, chasingMakarovwas one thing. Chasing him through the Himalayas is another.

"Ye'd think he'd hide a base i Miami," a gruff voice says over the comms.Soap. Two clicks south and a lot more annoying when he's cold and wet.Try being in the thick of the storm,she thought. But she learned early on it was best to keep her thoughts filtered. "At least then A wouldnae be freezin ma balls aff."

Maybe he is a dog, she thinks. A small smirk plays on her lips as she imagines an old chocolate lab with a mohawk, whining after stepping foot in the snow.

"Piss off," a different, graver voice says. It echoes in her headset, slightly off from the origin about two feet to her right.Ghost. "You'll be fine."

Maybe she grips the locator a little tighter. Maybe she doesn't. Still, she looks down at the device rather than evaluate why. Blue dot, flashing true and steady as it moves as quick as one could through a snow storm toward the yellow square.Soapwas almost in position.

"Soap what's your non-ball related status?" She calls out.

"From yer mockery o ma pain? Severe, neit an evac."

"Captain,"Ghost's voice comes, admonishing.

"Half a click. Ma engine is still runnin sae we're guid tae gae, mini-Sarge."

"Gotcha Cap," she says. She didn't have to look to seeGhost's disapproving stare. He hadn't said anything yet, but she had a sneaking suspicion that the Lieutenant didn't like the shortening of their ranks. But she wasn't going to defend light banter in a lights out mission. Their coms weren't being recorded, no one besides Price was monitoring their location. No one even knew they existed.

She withholds a huff, trudging forward. She doesn't bother to spare a glance atGhost— knows he's barely struggling while the snow comes to her upper-thighs. It's easy to feel a little grateful, in the moment.Ghostdidn't have to let her lead them to their pick off point. He didn't have to let her struggle through the snow either. Easily he could've hauled her and the gear up this mountain. But that's not what they did, not in this task force. Not in these units. She doubted they'd carry her anywhere if she was anything short of missing her legs.

Less than five yards away.

She was already doing adjustments in her head, trying to determine the likelihood of success for her shots. They'd scoped the point two weeks before. But the sky hadn't been flinging snow all around them and the wind had been calmer then. It was already pushing her max distance from her training, already pushing on the weak points she knew she'd not fully trained out of her system yet. But this wasSoap'slife in her hands. She couldn't miss on this mission. Maybe she shouldn't even —

"Relax,Viper." His voice was closer than she thought, and mentally she cursed herself for not tracking how close he was to her. Her code name sounded like a threat, a hiss in his voice that clawed the fear she'd spent so long trying to instill into her enemies. "Worrying won't make your hands steady."

She swallowed, pausing for just a moment. The gear dug into her shoulders, despite the padding on her flak jacket. The snow was beginning to seep into the material of her field jacket, her neck only protected by the borrowed baklava. A short nod.

"You got it, LT."

_____

It fell apart almost instantly.

They arrived just before Soap was supposed to get in position. Silently, quickly, she set up her rifle alongsideGhost. The locator sat perched next to her. Her eye tracked the blue dot diligently, waiting for Soap to get to his observation point. A second blue dot appeared on screen — Gaz, finally dropping in from the stealth jet above. They arrived at their positions at the same time, and for a brief moment, it looked like everything would go according to plan.

Soap was only in the correct position for five minutes. Five minutes of absolute silence besides the steady breaths that could be heard over comms. Just as she positioned her rifle, the scope zooming through the thick to show her the grey building in the small ridge, the locator goes off — Soap was running. The blue dot on the locator moved slowly but still, it seemed faster than she could track with her scope.

From the buildings the snow mobiles emerged, cloaked in the grey and white camouflage but those were easier to track. One breath— pfft—one combatant down.

The locator chimes again. This time,Ghosthas fully set up, his position higher but equally as efficient. He's shooting in the opposite direction — Gaz. The only thing keeping her nerves steady were the soft breaths of her Lieutenant.Ghostwas efficient — or maybe the definition of a robot — taking down the combatants chasing down their teammate while she concentrated on protecting Soap.

Pfft. Two.

Pfft. Three.

Three down, two to go, she thinks. Soap stumbles. He's sliding in the snow and the combatants are advancing quickly. She hears the pfft ofGhost's rifle, finds comfort in the knowledge he's there.

Pfft. Pfft. Four. A missed shot, a disaster in the making. If she dwells on it, the last shots will be worthless. Shut it down, take a breath. In. Out.

Pfft. Five.

Soap catches a rock. She can hear his pants on the comms, but nonetheless he's alive. So she starts to scan the area, her scope her second eye. Expanses of white.

"LT, combatants confirmed to beMakarov's," Gaz's voice calls. She furrows her eyebrows, confused for just a moment untilGhostspeaks.

"I know," he says. He's already moving, only the sound of the shifting snow indicating her as such. "Seals on fallen confirmed. No sight ofMakarov. "

"Sae we gae find the bastard," Soap chimes in. There's a grunt, a heavy thud over the comms before Soap speaks again. "A got a snow mobile. Wish we haed this earlier."

She looks toGhost, watching as he surveys the land before him as he considers Soap's proposal. The mission, though a bit more violent than anticipated, was a success. Technically they had no reason to stay. But there was still a buildingMakarovthought important enough to defend, completely off the Nepal and Tibetan governments' radar. Shouldn't they know what he was hiding?

"Into position, Sergeant."Ghost's voice sounds off after a minute. A hoarse grumble that forces her mouth to involuntarily go dry. She refuses to evaluate the warmth that spreads through her body, a flush that makes her grateful for the baklava and winter gear. "The boys are going inside."

_____

Safety doesn't come on missions –this she knew. Still, for her first mission with the 141, she expected it to go better.

_____

The second the boys breeched the building, she heard nothing but gunfire and shouting.The base didn't have a lot of windows, but that didn't seem to matter to the boys when they breeched the building. It's was undeniable the sound of shots firing, blades stabbing, as Soap and Gaz made their way through enemy after enemy, traversing from room to room with a skill that only came from doing missions like this every time. Deeper, deeper. She trained her scope on the surrounding terrain, helpless from her position. But she can't move.Ghostdidn't tell her to.

"LT," Gaz comes in, sudden quiet for just a moment. "We've found something, sending to you."

The screen of the locator changes, the feed from Gaz's body camera replacing the scene. The space was massive, bigger than it looked like from the outside. But the room was full, rows and rows of tall black boxes that stretched well past the view range of the camera. Gaz moved in, closer. The black boxes were made of blued steel, and encased on them? Wires. Miles of wires leading in and out of boxes that probably encased more wires.

"Servers,"Ghostsaid, almost like a curse. Hurried and whispered as he shifted in his position. The connection finally forms in her head.

"Makarov's entire connection to the outside world, housed here." The silence is all the confirmation she needs. She's astonished at the magnitude of it. The room expanding into distance like some cliche out of an Indiana Jones movie. There had to be hundreds of terabytes of storage available for use, hundreds of isolated networks that connectMakarovacross the globe with a mere click.

"Na wonder tis guarded lik' a jyle," Soap says, a low grunt accompanying him. There was only a slight muffle of a shift – a small thud on one of the server racks.

"Alright there, Captain?" She asks. She hates the tremble that accompanies her voice. The sudden rush of adrenaline that she thought was beginning to subside. She'd only known Soap for a week, barely knew his real name, but the idea of losing her teammate gripped her worse than she cared to admit.

"Juist peachy, ne'er better."

"He's grazed," Gaz states. Doesn't give her time to react, barrels through with the rest of his update. "It's wrapped he'll be fine."

She lets it go, instead leaning on the rock in front of her. She holds back her sigh of relief, forces herself to straighten.

"If we leave it be,Makarovmight have this place fully guarded and operational again within a few days. Maybe sooner." The words surprise her too, flowing from her mouth before she had time to full think of the implication of what she was saying. Break the protocol, go well beyond the mission.

"Price wull be happy," Soap groans.

"It's against protocol," Gaz retorts. "We still have to —"

"Wait forMakarovto get up and running again before trying to take this place down? Let him use it to kill again?" She says. It's curt, a little too short for someone with no skin in the game. The comms fall silent, the team processing. She feelsGhost's eyes on her, guarded and inquisitive, but she refused to look back, stares into the snow.

"Right,"Ghostspeaks, breaks the silence. He returned to looking down the scope of his rifle. "Blow it."

"LT —" Gaz starts, but he doesn't let him finish.

"That's an order."

_____

The flamed reach the heavens, fire and smoke kissing the sky. Destruction to break the peace –yet it's as calm as she's felt the entire week. She watches, patiently, as Soap and Gaz take the snow mobiles as far as they could, before beginning to take the remaining click by food. There's silence between her and the Lieutenant, only Soap's muttered curses coming through.

The sky darkens – from the smoke and ash, yes –but the wind also strengthens from the billowing chill to a full blown howl. The snow increased, the white flurry mixing with the carried ash, removing almost all sight and visibility.

"The balloon's gone up," Price's voice crackles over the comms. The sky was blackened at this point. Soap and Gaz only visible on the locator held less than a foot from her face.Ghostgrunts, adjusting the strap on his backpack as he did. "Sky's out, evac will be delayed until this thing gets cleared, likely in the morning."

"Right,"Ghostreplies, shifting as he looks out into the smog. "Ruck up, Sergeant, looks like we're camping."

_____

She's grateful she didn't do something as stupid as forget her part of the tent. The borrowed baklava still protected most of her face, though it's loose fit didn't quite keep it all away. Making camp without the required pieces and parts would be worse — she didn't quite think she'd survive that embarrassment, a rookie mistake that couldn't be overlooked. Though she doubted it could get much worse than trying to secure the tent poles in nearly three feet of snow. Or keeping the insularly tarp layer secured as they worked. Or locating their sleeping bags.

Maybe it was the fact they worked in silence. The only comfort was the huffs and grunts from Soap on Gaz over the comms, her eye constantly drifting to the locator to make sure they were on the right track. They were slow moving, but they never veered too far off the path. Maybe it was the wayGhostwould silently take the cleaver from her hands when he saw her struggling with a particularly difficult stake. There was a warmth in her cheeks, a burning not caused by wind that happened to cut through her winter gear.

Was it indignation? Was it rage? Embarrassment? It could be frustration. But deep down she knew it was all and none of those things. She could do it herself. It could be slower, but alsoshewould've done it. Instead she began to feel an ache. Not just in her head, but beneath the near hundred pounds of weight on her person. There was a hunger burgeoning, and she hated it. Each seemingly meaningless gesture was another pulse, another ache in between her thighs that she did her best to ignore.

He's just doing it to get done faster, she'd reasoned when he took over hammering the spikes to the ground.

He's just particular,she thinks when he stops her from zipping the bottom flaps of the tent to their insulated pouch.

This is just howGhosttries to be nice,she lies to herself when he pulls her sleeping bag inside, directly next to his.

By the time the boys reached the checkpoint the tent was up and she wasn't sure the first layer of her gear wasn't soaked in her arousal. It felt pathetic, and she was determined not to think about it. It was just niceness and here she was no better than a school girl with a crush, turned on by the bare kindness shown to her. It was insane and embarrassing.

"Please tell me ye hae a fire gaun or somethin'," Soap's voice rings as they approach. She's not used to the baklava on his face. It makes him look like an imitation, the only thing missing a painted on skull and half a foot of height.

"We have a tent," she huffs. Bites back a remark about not helping, but now she just wanted to crawl into the tent, fall asleep, and put this behind her. Not every mission would go well, and she could always relocate to a different team. One that wasn't huntingMakarovacross the globe. One that didn't make her lose all sense or reason.

This mission was a curse.

"How copy, Sergeant?" It wasGhost, again. She shrugged, shaking off her thoughts and emotions with a practiced ease.

"Good copy, LT."

_____

The tent was deceptive in it's size. From the outside it made sense that four people would fit into it with no problem. Maybe if her teammates were a normal size, that would be true. But Soap and Gaz alone took up over half the space, their sleeping bags regulated to little more than blankets they could wrap around themselves.

"I can sleep outside,"Ghostoffers.

"Don't be stupid," she says. "I'm smaller than all of you, I'm sure it'll be fine."

_____

Fine was an overstatement. Or perhaps it wasn't fine, and she just said it so that she could get through the night. Because while she was smaller than all of them, that didn't mean her gear was. It became apparent after crawling in after her Lieutenant. There was no way for her to lay without invadingGhost's space. Whether it was her thigh or her shoulder, every shift brought her into contact with her Lieutenant. It's after her fourth attempt that she lets out a low curse. Abruptly, she stands, unclasping the buckles on her flak jacket.

"What are you doing, sergeant?"

"Making room," she says. She doesn't pause, peeling out of the weighted jacket and over coat. Each layer resituated with her sleeping bag to help insulate it further, the outwear on top, the middle layer stuffed inside. She could press her bag against the wall of the tent, she could fit, and it wasn't like she was going to —

"Just bring your bag here."

"I'm sorry?"

Ghoststands, his presence more intimidating now that he was looking down at her. His eyes bore into hers, and she tried not to audibly swallow as he took a step towards her — full gear, fully masked. She felt small. Her heart racing as she watched him pick up her small nest of objects.

"We share tonight," he says. Finally he breaks eye contact, shifting his gaze to begin zipping their bags together. "Otherwise you'll freeze, and I'm not unnecessarily sending you to med bay because you're insane."

"I'm not —"

"Oi!" Soap's sleepy voice comes from under his lump of bag and equipment. "Juist cuddle, we've a' dane it."

This time she does visibly swallow, lips pursed as she looks from Soap's form to Ghost's.Ghostwho was busy already taking off his flak jacket and —

"Wait," she hisses, "what are you doing?"

Ghoststops, shirt halfway up his torso as he stares back at her, entirely uninterested.

"Making it even." As if that were obvious. She watched as he stripped. The first layer of his shirt gone, then the first layer of pants. She averts her eyes, turning the second he starts to pull his thermals lower. "We're in rack ops, Sergeant. If you want to sit around waiting for daylight in your thermals go ahead. But the rest of us are going to sleep."

When she turns he's already under the blankets and clothes. He doesn't look at her, simply squishes himself against the wall she'd planned to. His eyes were closed, the only thing she could see beneath the baklava were his eyelashes, light and fluttered shut against each other. She bit her lip, shifting on her feet for a moment. The cold was beginning to seep into the tarp flooring, the only thing close to giving her saving grace was the small padding he'd made on the floor with their clothes and sleeping bag.

I'd freeze, she thinks as she sinks to her knees.

It's just for warmth, she reasons as she slips under the covers.

He's a f*cking furnace, she's shocked to learn. She leans into his chest, hoping that he wouldn't mind. He simply wraps his arms around her, not opening his eyes as they shift into laying comfortably. She barely feels the chill that surrounds them, the insulation of the sleeping bag and the body heat coming from his body did everything to block out the frigid air.

Soon, his breaths were steady. Deep inhale in, deep exhale out. His hand, thick and large, rested on her lower back, just above where it would be inappropriate. She'd never felt so comfortable. Never felt so safe. Soon, her own eyes fluttered shut, and all her worry about propriety evaporated into her dreams.

_____

The dream is sickly sweet, almost too much so as it overtakes every inch of her mind. She should be having a nightmare, marred by the events of the day. Instead, with this dream, she knew it well, wrapped in a cocoon of warmth, floating on a cloud of syrupy goodness while she waited for —f*ck.

Soft pressure, slow and focused at her c*nt. Her cl*t, each soft circle of pressure ended there. She felt herself clench on nothing, a soft groan slipping from her mouth. Hungry. Demanding. She wanted to move her hips, grind into the sensation with abandon. But she couldn't. A weight was leaden on her hips, pinning them in place as the soft pressure grew into more. Something feverish, quick and decisive as she's rendered immobile, forced to just take and take the ceaseless pleasure as it zinged through her.

That was new.

The dream morphed. Something larger,thicker, took over. Each swipe now pressed against the lips of her c*nt, slick and wet from the movement, the pressure. She wants to chase the feeling, each swipe against her slit driving a new ache inside her. An ache for that pressure to come inside, to burrow it's thickness inside of her as she begged, sleepy-drunk for it.

She still thinks it's a dream with the first push. The slow,too big,stretch of a hard co*ck as it pushed it's way into her. She whimpers, trying to shift but the weight is actually a hand, pressing her hips into the ground as the co*ck forced itself into her space. She goes to scream, but there's a hand around her mouth, muffling her when thick hips meet her ass.

"Shh," a thick voice whispers. It's low, deep. A voice she'd heard all day. One she'd clenched her thighs together to, just for him to part them whenever he wanted. "Just be good for me, okay?"

She nods, just barely, as he withdraws. Each inch of his co*ck rubs against her walls with ease, a soft squelch escaping before he snaps his hips back in, filling her in an instant. She grunts, muffled into his hand. Still, she feels the gush of arousal from his antics. The bunch of clothes underneath her are uncomfortable — odd lumps pressed into her stomach as she scrambles for some sort of purchase. She ends up gripping his jacket, feeling the cotton blend material yield to her fingernails as he continues to drive his hips into hers.

He pushes past where she's taken before, and before she can even cry out into his palm, he's angling her face up. Her back arched, eyes watering. It's dark, still in the night, but she can just make out his form above her. Still wearing the baklava, but those eyes bore into hers. Finally,finally, his composure was broken. His eyes almost seem black, pupils blown as he railed into her. And she clenches, her whole body tightening but she knows he can feeling it.

His grunt is long and low, his hips stilling for just a moment.

He removes his hand from her mouth, placing it on the ground as he withdraws. This time she knows she can't rely on him to keep her silent. She bites her lip, tears welling in her eyes as he pushes in. And he repeats. Slow, steady, punishing. Each thrust makes her forget their locale, the fact of how she woke up. Soon, softah, ah, ahs escaped her mouth. It's too much, it's not enough. The tears begin to flow.

Ghostturns feral.

He pulls out, ignoring her soft whine in favor of turning her over where she lay. Her thermal pants are still on, barely shoved to her knees, but it doesn't deter him. He gathers both of her legs together, pulling them so they rested on his shoulder as he presses back in. Her hands scramble, grasping again at what she could, until she feels his skin — the flesh of his forearm — under her fingers.

Her shirt had only been pushed just enough to show her stomach, the clear rush he was in to get inside her another aspect to turn her insane. Almost enough for her not to notice when she looks down, the skin of her belly stretching slightly as he stretched her past her limits.

He notices it too, eyes blazing as they seem transfixed on where they're connected. She only looks away when he places a particularly harsh thrust inside, hitting a spot inside of her that sent her reeling. He was forging a place inside her, reshaping her c*nt to him.

"f*ck," she breathes. Her legs drop back, and she's suddenly thankful for adding yoga to her free hour in her early days in the army. Her knees leisurely at her chest asGhostpresses himself closer. She doesn't imagine it's comfortable, the scratch of her thermals on his chest, but it doesn't seem to bother him, he lifts his mask – just enough for his lips to come into view – and slams his lips into hers.

Its sloppy – a mashing of teeth as he drove into her. Each shift of his hips an attack on her senses. She whines when he pulls away, ripping the thermals from her legs. It almost made her giggle, the feel of it being ripped from her body. But then he's dropping her legs again, and she goes to wrap them around his waist. Too thick to cross her ankles, the best she can do is hang on as he sets a new pace.

Slower, but he was hitting thatspotinside of her. The one she could never reach with her own fingers, and she had to wonder if he was able to tell. Each retreat she did her damndest to keep him inside, thighs cand c*nt clenching around him.

"f*ck," she cried, louder than intended. "Ghost, I can't I'm –"

She's cut off with a whine, his hips stilling entirely inside of her. She shudders, tears truly streaming now. The frustration of a cut off org*sm, right on the edge of the precipice.

"You're going to ask nicely for it," he says and she wonders how his voice is so calm as he's wrecking her. "You're going to ask or you won't get it at all."

She bites her her lips, eyes wide. She knows they haven't been exactlyquiet, but the idea of Soap, or even Gaz, hearing her as she — there's a mirth inGhost's eyes. He tracks his eyes over to their teammates, and she follows his gaze just to feel her heart clench at the site in front of her.

"I don't think they mind, do ya Johnny?"Ghostgives a sharp thrust, forcing her mouth to drop open as she took in the sight in front of her.

The blankets were off, the chill in the room apparently not a problem as Gaz's fist wrapped tightly around Soap's co*ck, pumping slowly as Soap looked intently at her, barely registeringGhost's question.

"Nae at a', Si," he breathed. She could hear the hitch in his breath as Ghost resumed his thrust. Gaz, peering over his shoulder, making sure his hand moved at the same pace.

"In fact," Gaz says, and she can finally see the way his hips are moving – no,grinding– into Soap. "I say she needs to beg."

She whimpers. Eyes transfixed, her brain on overload but there wasn't a coherent thought between her ears. Her hands gasp as the arm next to her head, her vision torn away from the scene in front of her when a thumb swipes across her cl*t, circling it in rushed patterns.Ghost's eyes are ravenous, watching each twitch and writhe of her body as he plays her like a fiddle.

"Sounds tempting,"Ghostmuses. He leans down, whispers in her ear. "Don't worry, this is as much as I'm willing to share."

It breaks her. The last shred of her sanity snapping as she begins to babble.

"Please, please,please," she whines, lip bitten as she gazes up at him. "Wanna come, need you please."

It's like a switch goes off in his head, and he begins to punish, pressing in deeper, faster, harder. His hips practically drill her into the packed snow beneath the tarp. Cool on her back, but fire above her. His thumb moves against her cl*t, and she can hear how quickly Gaz's hand was moving against Johnny, the tent filled with nothing but the sound of skin slapping against skin, the soft grunts and moans as they began to lose themselves.

And then it happens. His voice, raspy as he finally gives into the feverish heat of her, directly in her ear. Incoherent as he is, it's enough.

"Come for me," he pants, his hips stuttering their pace. And who was she to deny her commanding officer? She only last a thrust or two more before she's falling apart. Her body clamps down, the sudden rush of release as she clings to him, nails digging into his shoulders.

"Oi, she looks lik' a dream whin she comes," Soap groans out. She see it, his hips humping into the air, chasing the firm push and pull of Gaz's hand.

"You wouldn't believe," Ghost sighs. It drives her as close to insane she's ever felt. Her body feels taught, oversensitive as she begins to feel a second wave. It's too much,Ghostdoesn't stop, pressing on as his hips never slow. She can't help but watch Soap now, the desperation on his face as he watches, eyes wide and feral asGhostcontinues his punishing onslaught.

"f*ck," she breaths, head knocking back onto the pad of clothing. Her body goes limp, but he presses on, hips never slowing. In fact, now it felt as though he was chasing that sweet release, pushing closer and closer to his completion.

"Wanted this the second I saw you on base," he murmurs into her ear. If she could speak, think of anything better to say, she would've. Instead she brings a hand up, grasping at the hair at the base of his neck. She can't help but moan, barely above a whisper as she holds him tight.

Soap and Ghost come at the same time. She feels the warmth flooding her as Soap's co*ck sprays, landing on his arm, chest, and over Gaz's hand. It's a mess but all she can think about is the mass of weight that sinks into her.Ghostlies fully, panting as he catches his breath. He's softening inside her but he keeps pushing his hips, as if to drive the last vestiges of his spend inside her.

They lay there, breath catching in their throats. She can't tell if he's just as frazzled, brain empty except for the org*smic haze of contentment and satisfaction. The haze is broken by the cackling of the comms in her ear, coming to life for the first time since they'd fallen asleep.

"You're all getting reprimanded when you get back," Price's voice crackles through, barely audible over the static of their receiver.

There's silence for a moment. Every person frozen as they realize that they never turned off their mics. That Price heard it all. She should be embarrassed. But instead the laughter bubbles up in her chest. She's giggling like a child, only stopping whenGhostpulls his softening co*ck out of her.

"Aye, Captain," he says, before leaning in to kiss her again.

"We wur juist welcoming her tae th' 141," Soap calls out, and she devolves into a fit of giggles again.

#ghost x reader#141 x reader

hibewriter

Jun 4

Take Me (In the Midnight Hour)

Masterlist Read it on AO3 WIP

Chapter 1 2

The Rings of Power / The Lord of the Rings | Haladriel / Saurondriel | 10.1K | E

Tags:Non-con | Depictions of Violence | 1st Person POV | Alcohol Abuse | Minor Character Death | Kidnapping | Technically HEA | Torture

Two

Finrodcalls me the second I step into the threshold of my home.

"Hello," I say. I feel lighter now before he speaks. I set my coffee on the counter, the wrapper of my croissant in the trash.

"Before I speak rashly," he says. "How about we try something new? Why don'tyoutell me what happened between you and Mother this morning, and then I can decide if I'm going to yell at you."

I shrug, leaning against my kitchen counter as I look at my apartment. The throw blanket is haphazardly thrown across my coffee table and couch from where I woke on the couch the day before. There's still a plate of half-finished chicken nuggets dangerously teetering on the edge of the table. My TV is showing a purple screensaver of a monster attacking a town. It's a mess.

"Well, if you've already spoken to Mother then I fear that she may have missed the part where I told her that disrespecting me is not advisable." I move, clearing the plate into the trash before I lay it in the sink. "As well, she called me while I was leaving my friend's house telling me how I was wasting away and how embarrassing it was for me to get dumped."

It's easy to roll my eyes as I move through my apartment. I explain to him the conversation from the coffee shop as I pick up out-of-place dishes and place them in the kitchen. "–and then I told her I'd do it again now, down to the slap to the face, and calling him a shrimp-dicked cretin."

Finrodsnorts, coughing against his saliva as he tries to regain composure. "Youcalledhim that."

"He cheated on me and asked if I'd be willing to have an open marriage while he was still inside another woman," I say. At this point, it's like commenting on the weather. No pain, no shame. Just the "isn't that f*cked up?" of it all. There's silence on the line, and I thinkFinrodwas attempting to think of a response that was both diplomatic and the correct thing to say. For a moment, I think maybe he'd hung up with how quiet the line got. Finally, he spoke, but it was little more than a whisper.

'And mother knew this?" He sounded distraught. Or maybe just contemplative. Something sad and not at all like I expected him to. I nod, forgetting for a second that he couldn't see me. And then I close my eyes. I'd forgottenFinrodwasn't there. That he'd been on some assignment inAnnùminasfurther west and I hadn't had a chance to see him before I was gone. Mother was the one to tell him what happened.

"She was there,Fin," I say. The memory is vivid, her frowning as I swept past her and the remainder of our guests. Looking back I know she was only embarrassed for herself. I remember her pulling up to the house as I packed, and I thought she was going to be the one who took my hand, welcoming me back to my childhood home until I could sort myself out. She did nothing of the sort. "And instead ofhelpingshe demanded I apologize and still marry him. Everyone did."

He's silent for a long while. I almost think of pulling out the cheap vacuum I had tucked away if only to have something to fill the silence of the room.

"I –GaladrielIneverwould've told you to do that had I known."

"I know."

Bronwynsent 9:52AM

Yoga? At The Reed?Read 9:54 AM

You sent 10:02 AM

Sure.

Read 10:02 PM

Bronwynsent 10:03AM

Good, you can tell me where you disappeared to last night :)Read 10:04 AM

The Reed was technically owned byArondir, something I found hilarious when he first told me.

"What's so funny?" He had asked.

"You're literally the last guy on earth I would expect to be a yoga instructor." Which was true. The man was all hard lines and frowns, an intense aura of someone who only put a hundred percent of themselves into every task they took on. I think I'd only seen him smile maybe twice in the eleven months I'd known them. Still, he nodded at my accretion then, like he knew that his vibe didn't quite match his profession.

He wasn't teaching today, however.Bronwynsuggested something about a brother I wasn't quite sure existed. Still, it was nice. My body was still loose, pliant from my activities the night before. Each stretch and move felt like realigning my body into itself again, making my body whole as I twisted and turned. It's almost enough to make me forget why I was invited out in the first place.

"So, are you going to tell me about Mr. Tall from the bar last night or are we spending today pretending you didn't look like a bitch in heat when you left me andArondirat the bar?"

I keep thinking that one of these days,Bronwynwill keep her voice down. But no, she's very direct when she thinks people won't see, saying exactly what's on her mind. We'd just left The Reed, sitting at the coffee shop/bar combo in the same shopping plaza. I sip on my iced coffee, averting my eyes from my friend to check that no one was around.

"He was good," I mumbled, fingers tapping against my cup. I don't have to look at her to knowBronwynwas staring at me skeptically.

"Justgood?" She scoffs and takes a sip out of her own glass. "When you left you looked at that guy like he'd just f*cked your brains out and –oh my god tell me you did not f*ck that guy in asports bar bathroom."

I can only blush, abandoning my cup on the table and sinking into the small patio chair. If I could disappear I would, hidden away from the shock and judgment swirling on her face. "It was very fast."

"Itwas veryfast," she mocks, letting out a laugh. "You f*cked tall, dark, and handsome in the f*cking bathroom and you still go home with him and all you can say is that he wasgood?!"

I huff, taking another cursory glance around before leaning in.

"Will you keep it down," I whisper. I hesitate as she raises an expectant eyebrow at me, and suddenly I feel like a child whispering about her first crush on the schoolyard playground. "Fine. He was amazing. Phenomenal even, but that doesn't matter."

"Did he eat you out?" She asks, leaning on her elbows. I swear I must be red as a tomato. The hazy memory of his face buried between my thighs sometime in the night comes unbidden into my mind, and I can't even think to stop the smile that comes across my face. "He did, didn't he?"

"He...is very talented."

"Oh my god," she squeals, a smile spreading wide across her face. "Did you stay the night? Did you get his number?"

And then I get to watch as I disappoint yet again. I didn't get his number, something I only realized after she'd texted me to go to yoga. It was a disappointment, to say the least, but hey. Dick comes and dick goes. At least that's what I told her. I couldn't live with the embarrassment of dealing with her knowing looks as I internally lamented the loss of the number of a man who turned my brain to mush.

"Well," she says. "Maybe we'll run into him again.Tirharadisn't that big."

The month passes in a blur. A full year of living inTirharad, and yet I couldn't tell you much more about the city than the day I moved there, with the exception of a phenomenal boba place, the Reed, and the bar. I find myself pacing the streets in the morning, watching as those in the city go about their work, only to return home around noon just to shower, do a quick clean in the apartment, and traverse to the bar. Maybe I should get a hobby. Or a job. I need neither but something has to give. At this point, evenElendilhas my drink ready before I even sit down at the bar.

"Something on your mind,"Elendilwould always ask. And each time I'd roll my eyes, bringing a freshly made lemon drop to my lips.

"Nothing more than usual," I'd say. And he'd nod, sagely. I don't think he believed me, or maybe he just wonders what the usual fodder in my head is, because often I noticed how he would linger on my side of the bar, waiting for me to speak.

I really should consider getting that hobby.

Instead, I drink, occasionally sending a text response toBronwynabout my lack of will to entertain any men that day. And she'd respond with some eye roll emoji or complaint in between customers at her shift at the boba place a few blocks over. I could hang out there, but they don't serve alcohol. Besides,Elendiljust repainted the sign to the bar, so at least I can stare at the fresh gold lettering ofBarad-Dûrwhile I debate having a conversation with anyone near me.

"This seat taken?"

I'm about to roll my eyes and tell the stranger to f*ck off, and then I find that seafoam green I'd been missing, well not missing but I thought about them, for over a month.

"It's you," I say with a frown. Confusion wasn't a feeling I particularly enjoyed. It definitely wasn't one I sought out. Yet here was the stranger who plagued a few wet dreams of mine, equally deranged and unsatisfactory when compared with the real thing. He doesn't seem perturbed, however. He slides into the seat next to me with a smile.

"It's me."

I open my mouth to say something. Ask something, anything. Except,Elendilinterrupts, and I'm snapped out of my amazement.

"Halbrand," he says with all the familiarity of a close friend.

"You two know each other?" We both ask at the same time, much to the bemusem*nt ofHalbrandas he looks between the two of us. I feel another blush creeping up my face as I look away from them both, scanning the crowd.

"Galadrieland I met at your son's birthday party last month," he offers toElendil. "Just passing paths."

Elendilnarrows his eyes, and I can't tell if it's skepticism or if it's just how he thinks. But he laughs, then slidesHalbranda drink I didn't even see him make. "Of course, you'd meet not atmybar."

I chuckle, quickly disabusing myself of my embarrassment. I don't think anything ofHalbrand's short laughter, or the tight grip he keeps on his glass before raising it. I ignore the way his free hand falls to my knee, though I can see the slight quirk of an eyebrow onElendil's face.

"And I'm friends withElendil's son,"Halbrandsays, turning to me. I nod as it clicks. The crowd around him at the other bar must've been part of the illusive son's birthday party. "We grew up together, and now that I'm officially back in town I figured I'd pay a visit."

"Officially back in town," I ask.Halbrandnods, though his gaze is back onElendil. Their gazes are loaded, an obvious conversation that I'm not privy to.

"Halbrandwent away to get his certification a long time ago,"Elendiloffers. My brow furrows again as I feelHalbrand's thumb press into my knee, but something about it feels like when I was a child, grippingFinrod's hand at night when there was a thunderstorm. So again, I say nothing. "But he's back now, so we should celebrate."

"No need to celebrate on my account,"Halbrandsays, sipping on the amber liquid in his glass. "I just thought I'd check in on an old man."I smile, andElendillooks like he's about to give a snide remark in return before there's a crash. Another patron on the other end of the bar who was clearly over-served stumbled into the bar moments after rising from his booth. And he's gone in a flash, approaching the man before the event even fully registers in my mind. I'm not distracted for long.

"Sorry for barging in,"Halbrandsays. My attention immediately snaps back to him, and I shake my head.

"I think you're probably the most interesting person here."

He smiles, hand sliding higher on my knee into my thigh. I suppress a shiver, though his hand holds nothing but warmth against my skin as he repositions himself to face me fully.

"I'll have to disagree," He says.

"Oh?"

"I think you're far more fascinating."

I'm not proud of my response, exactly one drink in on a Friday afternoon. But the warmth from his hand has spread over my body, and he's looking at me like I matter. And maybe I was tired of dreaming when the real thing was sitting right in front of me. I'm human, damn it.

"Do you want to get out of here?"

His smile is that of a wolf. All teeth, violence, and threats that promised a bite I wasn't sure I wanted to avoid.

The walk to my apartment is short, butHalbrandholds my hand the entire time. He lets me walk in front of him, his left hand being dragged forward by my right as I mark the familiar path. It's a sunny day, a few stragglers out on the street as we walk home. Still, there was a chill in the air as we walked, a bristling breeze that cut straight through my sweater, so that by the time we arrived on the stoop to my apartment my free hand felt like ice as I grasped at the key in my purse.

I didn't know it then, but it was my last chance to keepHalbrandin the past. If I ever had a chance at all it would've been then. Before he would know intimately what my apartment looked like and how I lived. This was the last chance to turn around and say I'd changed my mind. Knowing what I know now, I'm not sure that I would want to deny him. Maybe I'm just as f*cked as him.

I let him inside, and suddenly it's like there's a stone in my throat. I drop his hand in service of closing the door behind him. With my back to him, I try not to think about what he might be thinking about my home. The furniture I brought directly out of anAshley FurnitureMagazine, the TV set to a 24-hour nature stream that I fall asleep to, the cups in the sink, my favorite blanket still in its place. I wonder if he'll hate it, or if he'll judge it, or if –

My thoughts are silenced the second I turn around. His lips immediately pressed to mine, hand gripping my head as he pushed me into the wall next to the door. He's hungry, a ravenous being, drinking me in as if he would die without it. And I respond in kind. My hands clench at his shirt, trying to draw him closer, closer,closer. There's no hesitation when his tongue swipes into my mouth, his other hand grasping my waist.

I feel dizzy and lightheaded as he grips me. The scent of him, a woodsy cinnamon that felt like a warm hug around me, infects my brain and makes me lose any trace of thought. I can barely focus on just kissing him back, let alone his wandering hands as they pulled my sweater from my skirt or the way he seemed on a one-man mission to taste every inch of my mouth. The most I can do is paw at his shirt and whimper as he begins to take and I think maybe we'll rush again, slip into a base hunger that can not be sated with slow.

But he pulls away and I embarrass myself by chasing him, soft pecks to try to draw him back to me, to pull him in.

"Slow down," he breathes. His voice is ragged, short huffs as he presses me back into the wall. "I want all of it this time."

He says this and I can only nod, words escape me. The hands at my waist are tugging at my skirt, pushing it down, down,down,until the fabric pools at my feet. His lips drag along my neck, down my front until he's kneeling in front of me, eyes peering up from beneath golden lashes.

"Tell meGaladriel," he breathes this, and it feels like I'm suffocating. "How do you like it? Do you like it sweet?"He presses a kiss to my hip, just above where the band of my underwear ends. I wonder if my neediness shows through the way I stare at him, watching as he pulls the fabric from my hips. It feels like an eternity, but the second they hit the floor he pulls my leg over his shoulder, exposing all of me to him. I barely have time to feel embarrassed, the prickly hair from over a week of not shaving was no deterrent for him. He lips encase my cl*t, and I can't help but moan from the feeling.

I'd been prepared for his fingers or more of his co*ck in me, butthis. His lips were heaven. His tongue a sin when he opened his mouth to take in more. Wet, smooth, soft, my hips were not in my control as they chased his tongue.

"f*ck," I whimper. "f*ckf*ckf*ck."

My hands flew to his hair as he feasted. It was too much. It wasn't enough. Each lick was a path to salvation, each kiss a guiding light. Maybe it's hindsight bias, maybe I read too many romance novels and religious devotions, but it felt like being held by a god. When he finally,finally, slipped his tongue into my weeping puss*, I was already close. In record time, because what felt like an eternity was surely only a few minutes. He f*cks me with his tongue and I find out what people meant when they say earth shattering.

There's something that escapes me when I feel his finger breech my entrance. The way he suddenly pulls back, kisses at my hip, sweet and gentle before he speaks again.

"I'd ask if you like it rough but," he huffs. Suddenly the single digit is doubled to two, my breath hitches instantly. But he doesn't take it slow. It's like our first time redone. Each pump of his fingers grazing a spot inside me I've never been able to reach in rapid succession. It was if he were ringing for an elevator — fast, impatient, but still precise in his movements. Then he brought back his tongue.

I barely hang on. The only thing anchoring me to reality was the feeling of his free hand on my hip, the softness of his hair entangled in my hands. My back arches off the wall, trying to chase him as the pressure in me, the tight coiling in my belly, finally snapped. Yet he didn't stop. He continued to lick at me, headless of my weak protests as I shook above him. Each breath belonged to him. Each jolt of pleasure taken by his mouth.

He stood only when he felt like it. So calm as he placed my foot back on the ground. I could only sag back to the wall, panting as if it wasn't just one org*sm. As if it wasn't just a teaser for what he planned to come.

"I've been kicking myself for not doing that last time," he murmured. He crowded my space again, capturing my parted lips in another kiss. There was something so sickly sweet about it. A tendril of sugar that coated the sweet tang of my cum on his tongue.

"I'll give you whatever you want, as long as you keep doingthat," I say. Dazed, drunk off my high — that's when I sign myself over to the devil.

It wasn't the basem*nt that did me in. That's what the papers got wrong. It was here, in the afterglow of org*smic bliss that I gave him that inch to claim me. Of course, at the time, I thought that it was just athing. Something to say when you want to be ravished to the edges of your sanity by the person standing in front of you. But it was my first submission. It was the first time that he heard me say that I belonged to him, in not so many words. He heard my willingness, my devotion. He saw it before I did. I found Eru in him. I found religion and atheism. I found peace and pain.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

When he finally got me to my bed, he was slow in undressing himself. He unbuttoned each button on his flannel, watching me as I breathed sharply as he revealed the parts of himself I wanted to memorize. Each piece of exposed skin was a map to a destination I was sure I wanted.

This is where I find out he likes to watch me squirm. He likes the desperation in me when I kneel in front of him. He gets off on me impatiently moving to unbuckle his belt. But in the moment I don't care. I want him. I want him entirely. Inside of my home, inside of me, toying with my heart — I wanted him. I never acted so feverishly before. Not withCelebron, in twin mattresses shoved into college dorm rooms. Nor in the house we built. But I hungered for a man, a veritable stranger, who'd wormed his way into my life with clandestine meetings and too many shots of gin.

"Whatever I want, right?" His voice is breathless, and it's a small comfort to know I wasn't the only one reeling in that moment. He climbs over me, and I don't dare to fully speak. I only nod, my arms wrapping around his neck. Then he juststares. It's more intimate than I was ready for, the way he began to trace my form with his eyes. Something so innocuous that kicked me on my ass. "I don't want this to be the last time."

I hadn't noticed him grasping himself, but I immediately noticed when the head notched against my entrance. Slow, almost methodical, he guided himself inside. If I could find it in me, I would be embarrassed by the low, needy mewl that flew from my mouth.

It feels like my first time all over again. Each push of his co*ck inside me feels like he's building something inside me. Carving and molding me into whichever shape he wants, intent on making me feel whole as he made space for himself inside me. Slow, conscious effort as he took more from me in that moment. I felt dizzy. I felt insane. I knew I'd never want anything else as much as I wanted the fullness I felt in that moment. The entire time, he holds my gaze, intent to make me feel what he's doing to me.

Finally, his hips press into mine. He's a deep as he can go. I feel him everywhere. Fully pressed into my c*nt, the pressure I can feel in my throat as he takes and takes and I can only hold on. He moves, drawing out slowly, every inch felt as he retreated. Then he rocks back in. Again, he draws out, only slightly faster, rocking back in with that same deliberate pace. I feel electric, every inch of me smarting with each roll of his hips. I can't speak, only the hurried gasps and soft moans able to filter from my mind to the waking world.

I don't have to guess if he feels it too. His lips are parted, small groans of satisfaction escaping unbidden from his mouth. I stare at his mouth. I want him to kiss me. I need him to do it. I need to know that this is more for him. That this is different from last time.

He does. He pauses his thrusts for just a moment, leaning impossibly closer just to press his lips to mine. They're soft, impossibly so. His thrust grow shallow, more of a grind inside me as his kiss grows sloppy. My finger tangle in his hair, the heel of my foot presses into his lower back, and our chest glide against each other. Every breath I took became his. Every kiss was an awakening.

In the end, it wasn't as if I came and then he came, or the vise versa. It was as if one moment we were at sea, in the calm waves as he rocked into me and I clung to him. But then a storm came, both of us grasping the other tighter. His hands grasped at my hips, clenching so hard that they would bruise. My nails scrapped along his back, breaking skin in a way that I only noticed much after the fact. Our limbs moved in unison, my hips chased his in fervent need. The storm raging around us. It was like lightening struck and every fiber of my being was lit anew.

But the best part was the end. Basking in the afterglow as he softened within me. Our breaths matched each other, slowly calming down. It was a peace. His head laid nestled in my shoulder, I slowly stroked his back. Smooth skin only broken by the welts I'd left on him. I tried, at the time, to quell the pride I felt in leaving a mark on him. The haze of my org*sm was fading, the clarity of the insanity of my emotions was beginning to take hold.

"How are you so stressed after wejusthad sex?" He mutters the question out loud, nuzzling up to me as if he could get closer. I laugh, feeling as the creeping anxiety drips way.

"I was just thinking of how insane I felt." It was the truth. Whispered as if that would prevent him from hearing it. He stills for a moment. Just a second that disrupted the breaths he takes but it's noticeable.

"Insane because you didn't like —"

"God no," I huff. "I'm pretty sure that was the best sex I've ever had. It's just."

I stop. Silence myself before I officially cross into crazy territory and say something that can't be unsaid. But he doesn't take that. He shifts, propping himself on his forearms, gazing down at me before.

"Don't —" He bites his lip, pausing himself as he mulls over his words. "I don't want to leave without knowing I'll see you again."

I swallow. It's like swallowing a peach pit, the hard nut stuck in my throat before I whisper out a confession that should left to the sands of time. I wish I encased those words in my mind. But they slipped through, and with them my own damnation, doubled over in a bit under an hour as I offer myself to the devil again.

"I don't want you to go."

#haladriel#saurondriel

hibewriter

Jun 4

Take Me (In the Midnight Hour)

Masterlist Read it on AO3 WIP

Chapter 1 2

The Rings of Power / The Lord of the Rings | Haladriel / Saurondriel | 10.1K | E

Tags:Non-con | Depictions of Violence | 1st Person POV | Alcohol Abuse | Minor Character Death | Kidnapping | Technically HEA | Torture

One

To preface this story is to do it an injustice.

After all, how does one preface something they don't know the ending to? I'm still here — waking, living, breathing like before. Yet, unlike before, there's something new. Something within me has shifted and morphed into an unrecognizable mass of darkness. Darkness that strives to serve — to follow, to hold — the devil with whom I share a bed. Something within me wants to swaddle him in my arms and let him take every piece of me to Hell, where he has made his home. He said he wished to guide the beleaguered masses back to civility. To guide or to rule. To rule or enslave. His union of those wronged by the very hand he fed upon.

Before, when I was young, I relished a day spent at the lakeside of my family's home inMithlond. When the colonial-style house stretched far into the sky – its pillars visible from grassy shores where I would eventually take a rest. There was no perversion in me then, no broken heart or sordid promises. Not when my brother would carry me inside after a long day of play. But the emptiness had been there when I heldCeleborn's hand. The emptiness had been there at every dinner between our two families, and each date at our city's finest restaurants. Superficial and hollow.

Hollowness drove me to his arms. Running from my mind drove me to his bed. But staying, in both, might have been the most frightening thing of all.

It took four months of living inTirharadfor my brother to call me. Four months of wondering if my choice was wrong, or if perhaps I had acted too rashly on the day I had stormed out of the safety ofMithlond. Four months of wondering if I was truly alone, sitting in a cramped studio apartment waiting for the phone to ring or perhaps a letter to appear with an apology from an all too distant mother. I wondered, then, when the phone rang if I was hallucinating. Or if perhaps there had been something in the pie I ate, a nightmare or a dream born out of innocuous food prepared the day before in a kitchen perhaps a touch too small.

"Galadriel," his voice came distorted through the line, taking on the slight hum of the phone line that somehow never went away despite years of advancement in technology. Nonetheless, he sounded breathless, as if he'd run to catch me even though he'd called.

"Finrod." His name was heavy on my tongue. A weight of attrition, a forced distance between me and him. The degradation of his name to merely a stranger I had just met, instead of a brother who I'd known and loved. It's easier to stare at the pan on my stove, the one that has been there since I cooked instant ramen noodles three days ago. Empty with a shallow layer of salt and preservatives coating the walls.

"Let's be reasonable," he says. "We all said things we don't mean, andCelsaid he'd be willing to keep the engagement on if you said sorry."

"I don't want to say sorry," I say, still staring at that stupid pot. I should clean it. Or get a new one. One that wasn't a stupid hand-me-down from college. He sighs, clearly about to say more when I proceed anyway. "It's been four months. The first thing you have to say is get back withCeleborn?"

It's laughable if not painful. I always knew that my family placed more emphasis on the "Noldor Family" as a reputation than on happiness. A sense of duty to marry into a respectable station of equal or higher value than our own and pump out beautiful babies that would have blonde hair until all ofLindonknew us. Or feared us. It was all the same when you had power and influence.

"I – you're right," he says, though his tone tells me he is far from done speaking. "How are you?"

(I buy a new kitchen set fromWilliams Sonoma, a cream granite one with that non-stick coating that screams studio kitchen, and not a girl who mostly just reheats pre-packaged food. It's aspirational, I rationalize — the pans are weighty in my palms as I try to wrestle them onto the sleek countertop to check out.

The man at the counter glances at me, and I can tell he's trying not to stare as he rings me up. Since moving here I've not seen a single person who looks like me. Dark-haired girls who are shorter and plumper flood the streets. They wear cottage-core outfits straight fromPinterest, though if I had to guess I'd bet my life that they mostly worked comfy jobs in offices that spent too much money on cafeterias and not on salaries.

I blink, dazed as I step out of the store. I've been staring at one such girl, and I have to cough and apologize when she raises an eyebrow in my direction as if begging me to say something. I don't know when I got so judgmental.)

"What can I get you?"

"What do you have?"

After my call withFinrod, it's easy to find a bar within walking distance of my studio. It's loud, one of those open concepts where the entire room is centered around a square bar, two bartenders on either side filling the mouths of any and everyone with ten dollars. They don't care about the girl walking in, as long as her card is running.The nametag on the bartender's shirt is faded – smudged and chipped in several places, but still. Its owner's name was clear as day.Elendil. I didn't particularly care at the time, but he bore witness to my misery, and every witness deserves a name. Not to mention his pour was heavy, the gin bottle noticeably emptier when he returns it to the well.

So I spend my night rejecting advances from men who think they have a shot and drowning my sorrows in gin and tonic until the room begins to blur at the edges.

There is a man who tries to follow me out, trailing behind me enough that even in my addled state I could recognize the predatory way he stalked behind me when I left the door. Instead of right, I turn left, my pace brisk as I head down the street toward the city's center. Away from my home and the safety of a bolt lock.

The streets are surprisingly empty, dark, and wet from an apparent storm that I was lucky or unlucky enough to miss. It's nearly three blocks before I spot people. Two. It's instinctive to cross toward them. I immediately embrace the smaller of the two, a woman, in my embrace.

"Help me," I whisper in her ear.

Tonight I'm lucky, making new friends as we wait for the stranger to disappear from the block. Her name isBronwyn. Her boyfriend drives me home.

(The plan comes to me that night, cuddled into my bed under two fluffy blankets as I scrolledThe Tirharad Independentlooking for places to visit in the city. The statue was bronze, a boy standing atop an anvil, raising a hammer to the sky: Sauronand the Sun.

I liked it.)

"Walk away," I said as I sipped my gin and tonic. It's been six months since I moved toTirharad. Today I was supposed to go withBronwynandArondiron a double date – their version of friendship came with the idea that singleness was a problem to be fixed. But for some reason I found myself plopping down for a single drink that had turned into four. An apology was already typed on my phone the closer it got to my planned meet-up time. Not that I had an issue with them trying. Planned dates with vouched-for men or women were certainly more advisable than what happenshere.

"I was just wondering what a girl like —"

"I'm engaged." It's easy to show the ring I'd found at an antique store, lifting my left hand in the general direction of the stranger. The opal center reflected against the low lights of the bar, brass catching rays of the sun. It looked hand-made, something forged from love and dedication I'd certainly never felt before. But does he get the message? Of course not.

"Do I know him?" The look in his eye is lecherous, leering as he pays attention not to my ring but to the thin straps on my top. He leans into my space. If I'd been in a correct mood, if I'd evenwantedthe attention of a man, he would've been attractive. He wasn't dressed like the other men here, the black turtle neck tucked seamlessly into his slacks as if he were trying to hide a violent nature beneath a veneer of soft and muted clothing. Or maybe I'm just projecting in hindsight.

"He's a blacksmith," I say, head lowered to my drink as I contemplate getting kicked out for assault. He hasn't done anything yet. Nothing to warrant a kick to the shins or a smack in the face. Something that could be a disservice.

"I know so many blacksmiths in the area. What's his name?"

"Sauron," I deadpan. He laughs, brisque and loudly.

I decided then that I didn't like him.

There was a dark glint in his eye — as if his humor had been found in a secret past I knew nothing about. It's been nearly the same reaction all month, one that typically goes away with a steady gaze and a bored expression. This guy, however, likes to push.

"IknowSauron, kid," the man says. This. This wasn't planned for. In the past two months that I've been running this gambit,no onehadknownSauron. Or professed to. Most assumed that he was a made-up man with no connection to reality. "There's no way someone who looks likeyouwould want anything to do withhim."

"You think you know me based off of looks?" I start, knowing now that he'll never get the hint. "You, whatever your name is, have no idea whatIwant. Or who I want for that matter. And you never will, because the only thing you need to know is that whatever I want — it isn't you. Now. Like I said. Walk. Away."

I should've known then that it wouldn't be the last I'd seen of him. The shift in his face from amusem*nt to dead serious within a fraction of a second. His smile is now a straight line, the glint in his brown eyes gone, replaced only with black. But my trepidation was placated when he nodded, reaching into his pocket and producing a card. Simple bold black lettering as he slid it toward me on the bar counter.

Melkor AinorMaster Welder

"TellSauronthat his old friend is looking for him." His words feel like a threat. But he's gone before I even look up from the card.

(Never trust a man who insists he knows you better than yourself.)

I focus my attention on the bartender and raise my glass, dangerously close to empty. A fifth to drown away the past and present. A sixth to quiet the thoughts.

Bronwynsent 11:57AM

Hey, we're going to switch to later tonight, is that alright?

Read 11:57 AM

You sent 12:02 PM

How much later tonight?

Read 12:03 PM

Bronwynsent 12:03 PM

We were thinking 9. We wanted to hit up that newsports bar down on Greenier.

Read 12:03 PM

You sent 12:07 PM

Maybe. I've been feeling sick today.Read 12:08 PM

Bronwynsent 12:08 PM

Sick like last week?

Read 12:08 PM

(Sick like always.

I don't respond.)

It takes eight months inTirharadfor my mother to talk to me.

At this point, I had a weekly call withFinrod. We talked like coworkers most of the time.How was your weekend?Turning into each other in broken records as if we cared what stalls were at the farmer's market, or whether or not his kids knew who he was talking to when he stepped out of the room. It was one of those such calls before I heard the shuffle on the other side of the line. The "just let me talk to her"was muffled by what I assumed wasFin's hand over the receiver. Before there was a drop and a brief silence. And then —

"Galadriel," her voice came in. My mother always carried the tone of a woman who had just finished running. A breathlessness followed each syllable as if they were in a race to exit her mouth first. "When are you going to stop this foolishness and come home?"

Eight months offoolishness. As if my mother were simply waiting for me to return from a tantrum I'd thrown. I felt the bile rise in my throat. Anger manifested in my throat as a solid weight, a pain that refused to dissipate. Rise or sink would've been preferable but instead, it sat stuck, needing to be broken apart instead of relocating. It was different than withFinrod. Then I simply had to shift the conversation away from what he wanted to talk about – he was a perpetual puppy, distracted if you shook a toy in front of his face.

"Galadriel?"

Eärwen Noldorwas not so easily distracted.

The next thing I know, my screen is black. The call ended without saying a word.

(She calls me several times after, from her number this time. Each call is met with a prevailing silence, voicemails in the trash while I contemplate throwing my phone off the balcony.)

When you reflect upon your choices – in something like this, which at its core is a memoir of my consciousness and my failures – you learn what pushes you.Is it rage? Surface level — yes.The initial rage that flows from a mother's latent misunderstanding of who her daughter is. That "tantrum" that follows. Powder can only sit in a keg for so long.So what do you do? What did I do?I drowned my gunpowder in liquid fire and waited for the flame to swallow me whole.

I met the devil on a Wednesday afternoon. He is the flame that leads to a spark – though I hadn't known that then.

He finds me at a bar I wasn't a regular at. Some sports bar asArondirwanted to watch a team play. I'd never so much as seen the man smile, but of course, he watched the screen with that same rapt attention he gave everything.

I still wore the ring, my signal toBronwynandArondirthat I didn't want their wingman services. It didn't matter. Their services never worked. Men tended to think we were a poly couple, which I would say was confusing but – my arms wrapped aroundBronwyn's waist,Arondirdraped over her shoulders and I won't lie and say I didn't know how the brown sugar lipgloss tasted coming offBronwyn's lips. The gin and tonics were strong at this bar, but the drinks are always strong when we're together.We should probably talk about it. Not tonight.

Tonighthehad caught my eye, not unlike my initial appraisal ofMelkor. The tense air around him seemed to not affect the others in his group. They were surrounding him as if this club were the ocean and he was the only raft in sight. He stood casually, back to one of the only spaces along the wall of the bar that wasn't filled with other people. There was a small huddle around him, at least two girls clinging to each sleeve of his jean jacket as he told whatever story he was regaling the group with.

I don't know why I kept staring at him. IfBronwynorArondirhad noticed they didn't say anything, letting me sip on the clear liquid in my glass as I stared across at him. Something so familiar yet unrecognizable about him as I did. Then his eyes –green, not like the forest but like a snake, treacherous and alluring all at once – met mine.

I wish I could say it was immediate magnetism – that the second our eyes connected he made me swoon with the idea of a future together based only on his gaze boring into mine or that there was an electric pull that brought me to him setting me alight. But that wouldn't be the truth.

His gaze felt like a weighted blanket. All the rushing thoughts in my head suddenly evaporated, silenced by a sea of green.

It doesn't take much to shakeBronwynandArondirfrom my side. I slip through the crowded bar mostly unnoticed, just another face pushing against clusters of shoulders just trying to get to the bathroom. I'm foolish enough to think that a splash of water and a quick pick me up will return my mind to something other than the stranger on the other side of the room.

The water is tepid against my skin. The paper towels are coarse. In the back of my mind,Eärwenscolds me for wasting expensive skincare items on subpar materials. She would've hated how I'd switched from her belovedTatchacreams to the generic brands sold at the bodega across the street from my home. She would've hated this bar and my friends. Probably would've hated the clothes on my back or the way I wore my hair. It's enough to make me smile.

He's there when I exit the room. He leaned casually against the opposite wall, studying me as if at a museum and he was finally close enough to see the details in the art. We stare at each other. Or more, I stare and he moves into my space. I smell him now, all steel and smoke, as he backs me toward the bathroom. I don't think to speak, just letting him head me back inside.

He seems to have made up his mind about me, shepherding me into the stall furthest from the door. It's spacious, one of those specifically built for handicapped patrons. Looking back I probably should've scolded him, perhaps argued about the locale and the fake ring on my finger. Demand he let me go and head back into the crowd to find my friends. But I don't.

Instead, I bite my lip when he turns toward the door to the stall. He's tall – taller than I would've guessed from across the room. My brain immediately turned to a litany oftallbigtall, all warning bells muted in favor of attraction.

"I'mHalbrand," he says. It shocks me how he provides the barest of introduction before he locks the stall door behind us. For a moment I had thought he wouldn't speak at all, content to just let two strangers use each other for stolen minutes in a bathroom stall. It was cliche. But if didn't feel that way at the time.

"Galadriel."

His lips were on mine within a second of my name leaving my lips. His kiss was hard, all of him pressed into me as he bent to consume me. Lips, and hands, everywhere on me – his arms coiling around my waist. He was crushing me into him, refusing me the option to move away and catch my breath. Whatever he'd seen in me he saw fit to push and mold me into whatever he wanted me to be.

There's something so devastating about releasing your mind into the hands of another.

Even worse is finding that you like it.

By the time my brain caught up to what was happening my body was already responding. My hands were needy, insistent as they grabbed at his hair. My lips were an uncoordinated mess, desperately trying to catch up to his initial dive. But somehow it worked. His hands had moved from my waist, so far south he was lifting me by my ass, pulling me into him. I want to say he didn't have to pull. I would've followed him anyway.

Instinctively I wrap my legs around his hips. It's a drug, the feeling of his hardness, blocked by lack of foresight and the sensible "don't-try-to-f*ck-me" jeans I'd worn. He was hard, heavy weight against the burgeoning heat in my core as his lips left mine to explore the exposed skin of my neck. It was disorienting, having gonemonthsfeeling numb to the feeling of skin against skin, only for a stranger to pull the dormant lust in me to the surface.

It felt like fire.

The noise I made when he pulled the slightest inch away from me would be embarrassing if anyone but him had heard it. But he was pulling at the waistband of my pants, urgent hands doing their best to pull them just low enough before he turned me to face the stall wall.

"You gonna be quiet for me?" He asks, lips against my ear as he manages to get my jeans to pool around my knees. I heard the zipper of his jeans, what I hoped was the ripping of a condom. But to be honest – I couldn't care less. "Or are you gonna let everyone hear what I'm gonna do to you?"

Looking back, I can't tell if I asked him to wait. If I asked him to slow down, or maybe finger me a bit before I was filled. All consuming, wholly,filled. Each push of his hips craved a new place inside me for himself. Agoodbadgoodburn as his girth pushed me past the limits I previously thought I had. By the time he was fully inside, hips pressed to mine, I was a whimpering mess.

"Didn't even need prep, did you, baby?" His breath was gruff against the hollow of my ear. Deeper, more desperate as he pulled back – which I think was worse than being filled, the emptiness he left behind an ache that only the returning push of his co*ck inside me could cure. All I could do was moan, my knuckles curling against the hard plastic of the stall wall as I scrambled for purchase.

I don't pretend to be above a cry, the pinpricks of water falling from my eyes as he began a harsh pace inside. "Mmm, i' hurts."

His fingers gripped my hips tightly, a dark laugh coming from his throat. His chest was to my back, his body encompassing mine and it was too much. It's too fast, it's too hard. He knocks the breath from me but still, I blush. I'm overwhelmed but my c*nt craves him – walls clenching, gushing around him as he slips, cruel, a single finger to rub at my cl*t.

It's hard to care about the sounds we're making. The clear slapping as skin meets skin, the soft moans from my mouth, or the groans from his throat –

He asked if I'd be quiet but I'd never been louder.

"f*ck," his voice was low and ragged in my ear. The hand not on my cl*t winding up my shirt to grasp my breast – kneading, pinching, pulling at the soft skin in a way that sent electricity through my body. My org*sm was winding up inside me, coiling tighter and tighter as he drove me into the f*cking wall. We were pressed so close together I was surprised the thick plastic hadn't given way to his harsh thrusts.He added a second finger to my cl*t, rolling the bud between the two as the pads began to press on where our bodies joined together. The coil snaps, my org*sm hitting me like a light-rail train. I feel the gush come from me, my entire body seizing around his length and forcing gasps of air out of my throat. Panicky, shaky breaths as I fall apart in a sports bar bathroom while the veritable stranger behind me continues to f*ck into me like abeast. I could only hang on the best I could, my legs feeling like jelly. His hand left my breast, gripping my waist to hold me up as he chased his release.

By the time he came, I was slumped, boneless against the wall as he slammed inside, grinding harshly into my backside. Each push drove the warmth of his spend deeper and deeper inside me, my brain a haze as I tried to remember whether or not I had taken my birth control, or if I had asked if he had worn a condom, or if I was just misremembering the sound.

He's still inside, both of us panting. His hand comes to my throat, and he turns my head to look at him. "Come back to my place."

It's not a question, more of a demand. Still, I find myself nodding, eyes glossy as he smirks down at me. It's sinister, it's cruel. It makes me clench around his softening co*ck, earning me a hiss and swat to my ass before he pulls away from me. He cleans me up. He takes me home.

When I was young my father used to tell me that running only prolonged the pain. Eventually, you'd have to come home and face the music, and it'd be worse because you put the time and distance between the initial wound and taking care of it. A festering wound can never heal and other euphemisms that meant the same thing. At the time I took it to mean that he didn't want me to hide my report card from him or that I should apologize when I was wrong.

The problem was — I got excellent grades, and I was rarely, if ever, wrong. At least, until I started datingCelebron.

I was no stranger to waking up alone.

I'd done it for the majority of my engagement, then every day since I moved toTirharad. (Excluding the one night withArondirandBronwyn— a drunken engagement that willneverhappen again.)

I was not used to waking up pleasantly sore, the feeling of being thoroughlyusedand pushed past the normal maintenance org*sms a vibrator could provide. I was not used to waking up in sheets softer than silk, feeling like I had slept on a cloud while the smell of bacon wafted through the apartment. It was nice. It couldn't happen again.

It only took me a few moments to find my clothes, sans panties - which seem to have disappeared into the ether. I guess he'll have a memento.

There was no use tip-toeing out of the room. My brief introduction to the space the night before made it clear - while it was spacious, it was open concept and the kitchen was between the front door and both rooms in the apartment. It's a shame. I would've preferred avoiding the "that was fun but I don't want to see you again" conversation.

"You're awake."

He's leaning against the doorframe as I finish pulling my pants up. Unabashedly staring, when I turn to face him, though I can't fully blame him. He already saw it all and worse the night before.

"Yeah," I cough, avoiding his eyes. There was something so...intenseabout him in the daylight. His face said a neutral impassiveness, but his eyes held a sharp glint I hadn't seen before. I'm not sure what it was, but I didn't want to find out. "I have a, uh, meeting. With my mom."

I never said I was a great liar.

He seems to notice it, eyebrow raised in skepticism as he straightens his posture. "Okay."

I thank every deity I can that he decides not to push it further. He steps out of the way and lets me out of the room.

(Speak of the devil and she will come.)

I had answered the phone without checking it. A rookie mistake as I began walking the blocks back toward my apartment.

"Hello?" I answered, staring into the distance as I thought about the interaction withHalbrand. He hadn't done anythingoutrightsinister. Unless you counted holding my hips down as he —

"Galadriel, finally." f*ck.

"Mother," I sigh. "Your persistence knows no bounds."

"And your stubbornness seems equally as vast, darling. I'll make this quick."

I pause on the sidewalk, turning to look at a small cafe. It was decorated for Halloween, with cut-out paper lanterns and pumpkins scattered in between faux webbing and paper mache bats. It was cute, it looked cozy. When I leftMithlondit was January, snow had hardly melted, and yet, I had found comfort inTirharad's little propensities. My mother was the type to skip the Halloween decorations, opting instead to spring straight into Christmas and her House ofNoldorgala decorations.

"I want you to come home," she said. As if it was simple. As a matter of fact. "I want you to apologize toCelebronfor causing a scene, and I want you to keep the spring wedding you always wanted."

"I'm not doing any of those things." I step into the cafe. There's a soft classical tune playing I'd never heard of and everyone inside seemed too preoccupied with their own lives to pay attention to me. The line isn't too long, and the wafting of an apple cinnamon concoction is too great for me to pass up.

"Why do you insist on ruining yourself for –"

"I'd advise you to reconsider that statement." I hum, scanning the selection of pastry options. It was one of those displays with a clear face, and you could practically see the steam from the fresh selection as they sat, waiting for someone like me to pick them.

"GaladrielI am your mother and I can say what I know to impart on you as wisdom and –"

"Actually, you can respect my boundary and not insist I'm 'ruining myself' considering you're the one who's harassing me. Or I can simply block all of you. Can I get the apple pie cinnamon roll, please? And the iced espresso with cream, yes."

"Are – are you inpublic?"

"Did you think I would sit around my apartment moping?" I ask as if I hadn't done exactly that for the past eight (or was it nine?) months. Time moved quickly if you blacked out most of it. But it was days like today that showed in my mind's eye with the most clarity. Down to paying with cash. Seventy-eight cents change – dropped directly into the tip jar.

"Well yes, honey. You were dumped just three months before the wedding for that scene you caused."I can see the bait from a mile away. Her inflammatory language was only there to urge me into a rage. She wants me to scream, to force myself to embarrass myself in this area now that she knows I am surrounded. Normally she would succeed. Normally I'd yell, insist that wasn't the truth. That we both knew the truth.

"Well," I say, moving to the end of the counter to wait for my order. "If catchingCelebornwith his pants around his ankles while f*cking the waitress from our engagement dinner, berating him for it then leaving to pack all my sh*t out of his house is 'getting dumped' then I guess I was dumped. I'd do it again now, down to the slap to the face, and calling him a shrimp-dicked cretin."

"Galadriel,"She hissed. A warning, discomfort flowing through her veins. Even when she was trying to bait me, she still couldn't let go of her notions of propriety.

"Oh, I'm sosorry, mother. I didn't realize my description of getting cheated on would upset you so much. I'm so glad that you care so much about my happiness to realize that whatCeleborndid was terrible and I shouldn't take someone like that back into my heart."

"Honey, sure he has his...flaws. But he is stable! He's the son ofSenator Doriath! Does our family mean nothing to you?"

"I didn't realize my marriage was just to be a political bargaining chip for you." I did. But I never expected her to brazenly say so. Then again, I never expected to be in this situation at all.

The barista stops in front of me, handing the pastry and drink. I'm out the door in an instant, slipping into the daylight once again. This time my pace is drenched in speed, not taking the time to savor the sights or stop at a cushy-looking storefront.

"Well honey, what else would it be?" I would think the answer was obvious to her. But like everything about the past three years of my life, I was wrong.

"I don't know mother, I must've been under the impression that people married each other for love."

"Oh honey, no one marries for love anymore."

"You would have me marry a cheater and a liar on the off chance he was honest about leveraging our family to prosperity. Chain myself body and soul to a crook?"

There's silence now. A chasm between us that she knows can not be crossed. She sighs. As if finally seeing the logic. As if the logic was what she needed. She couldn't accept that his actions were bad enough on their own.

"You'll do what you wish then." The line goes dead.

#haladriel#saurondriel

hibewriter

Jun 3

Lost In Translation

Masterlist Read it on AO3 WIPChapters: 1 2

The Rings of Power / Lord of the Rings | Haladriel / Saurondriel | 5.4K | E

Tags: 1st persn POV | Dual POV | Drug Use | Character Death | Referenced Domestic Violence

Chapter Two: Sober

March 2003

Halbrand

I won my first Oscar off the back of a murder I committed. It sounds dramatic, but it's true.

It's hard to explain. I had gotten the call to audition for the film in August of '01. I remember it vividly. My agent,Mel, had called me, claiming he was about to take me from the B-List to the A-List. I, being the responsible age of twenty-one, was co*ked out of my mind, sitting on the floor of my then girlfriend's apartment wondering if I could fix all ofLos Angeles' traffic problems. I wasn't ready for star potential. Plus,Melhad told me that before. So I told him to fax me the script.

When I first read the script toGreyMan,twenty minutes into a comedown and half-heartedly thinking I'd text my girlfriend back, I cried. Not in that "I saw something sad and needed to let a tear go" type of way. No, I had a full breakdown in aNew Yorkapartment while I cried over the character I was supposed to read for in a little over a week. I won't summarize the film for you, likely to be found on any such streaming service or whatever new bullsh*t way we've made to fork over hundreds of dollars to people whostill haven't given me my residuals. I digress.

The leading man was haunted, using substances to run from his mistakes and never confront the victims of his past. I guess it resonated with me. Not so much the political intrigue aspect of the film, but the character spoke to me. So I auditioned for the role. I got it on October first. I remember because when I got the call,Melhad said something I'd never heard him say before.

"I'm proud of you."

f*ck me, apparently. It wasn't the first role I ever auditioned for, nor was it the first one I'd gotten hired for. We both knew at this point that I was a damn good actor, that I'd been doing this long enough to act circles around the fresh faces. I was young, but I'd been in front of the camera since I was nine. But now that it was a script he liked...

I tried to get sober for the first time on October third, two thousand and one. It lasted precisely ten days, fifteen minutes, and thirty seconds. My girlfriend, broke up with me, the second I confided in her what I'm about to tell you. Up until this point, I hadn't thought to mention it to her, as it hadn't even crossed my mind to tell her that I was a murderer. As you can imagine, it's not the first, second, or third thing I want to think about. Even more so, not when she reacted likethat.

I need to preface the following with the truth. I am not proud of how I handled this. I'm not proud of the monster I became.

Yet, she was going to leave. And if she left, she would've told everyone. So as she was walking past me I grabbed her. I drug her through the apartment, ignoring her scratches and screaming at me to let her go. I threw her onto the bed I used to f*ck her on. I held her down by the throat. I waited 'til she passed out. I was well and truly panicked. I calledMel. He faxed an NDA and told me to make sure it was signed. When she woke up, I watched her sign it. I watched and she looked at me with fear. No one had ever looked at me like that before. But it wouldn't be the last time.

Looking back, maybe I should've been more concerned that my agent had an NDA built and ready to go covering murder and domestic violence. (Not that the contract was enforceable, but she didn't know that. I think she might now. To Narya, I'm so sorry I hurt you. I know that's not enough. I'm sorry that this won't be the first apology to a woman I cared for in this reflection. None of them will be enough.)

On March twenty-first, nineteen ninety-nine, I killedFinrod Noldor. It was an accident, but no one could prove that. It was an accident, but it was still my fault. I had brought the cocaine toCírdan Nowë's afterparty. I was the one who laid it out on the tray, I was the one who handedFinrodthe hundred that he'd use to snort that white powder offCírdan's expensive coffee table. He was dead within half an hour. It would've been quicker to just shoot him. It would've been kinder. The kindest thing would've been not to kill a man in front of his kid sister. But all I could do was hold her back from the body when the paramedics came. I gave her a pillow, but in her grief, I might as well have just been an invisible man. There's nothing you can say to someone after that.

So I say nothing. And then I go to base the best performance of my career so far on the event. I'm an actor after all.

GreyManwas –is– my most hated film, personally. I didn't enjoy filming, I didn't agree with certain choices from the director, and I hated most of my co-stars. I never hid that.Melhated that I never hid it in interviews or red carpet chats designed to make people like me. He would yell at me for hours on the phone after press days when all I wanted to do was slip into a fan who hung too close, or a drink. None of that stopped the film from being a box-office success.

I was twenty-one. It was the first time in my life I didn't have to pretend to like the assholes who were old enough to buy my alcohol or get my ID forged. I didn't have to pretend that I liked f*ckingIsildur, no last name because he's pretentious and thinks he was as good as Cher. Even though the only reason he was inGreyManwas because his father was a Hollywood legend and he didn't need to audition for half the films he was cast for. There was none of trying to smile and be correct for the camera. Not then. I was twenty-one, invincible. I was the next biggest star in the world, and I knew it. The press knew it. My manager knew it. So you'll forgive me for not bowing down to the face ofIsildurand the scourge of nepotism.

Again, I must digress.

The red carpet is the worst part of the Oscars. I've only been to one sober, and it definitely wasn't this one. In the car ride to theDolby Theater, I had maybe fifty milligrams of cocaine. I think it's that number, the way I normally divvied up each baggie. I hadn't had a full eight ball since nineteen ninety-nine, for obvious reasons. I wasn't looking to die or disappear from my mind. I was looking to feel something other than the consistent anxiety that came with fame. Cocaine didn't help that much, truth be told, but my mind was thinking too fast for me to focus on any one terror. If I can't think about it, I can't be in it.

The second I step out of the car, the flashing is nothing short of overwhelming. Hundreds of paparazzi lined up just to snap my photo as I stepped down the carpet to the reporter area. Behind them are fans, or me or other celebrities coming behind me it didn't matter, who screamed so loud that to this day I lament forgetting to use the flesh-toned earplugsMelhad offered me.

The reporters are worse. The ones who ask questions about the film we're nominated for, most of them the exact same and banal.Who's the funniest person in the cast?Or, God forbid,besides your film, who will you be rooting for tonight?First of all, all co-stars are equally as funny. We've been trained to be charismatic as sh*t since the moment any of us stepped foot inL.A.Everyone is stereotypically funny. Throw a dart at the wall and they can probably make you laugh. Secondly, no one. I only want to win. I want to have a complete run of the house when it comes to the Oscars because I did what it took.

But you can't say that.

No, you have to smile and flash your teeth that you just got painfully whitened to a blinding degree the day before. You have to nod along and choose the safest option from a list of pre-selected movies you're allowed to root for. Nothing with a director under fire, nothing from an actor who is in the midst of a scandal. Compliment the underdog, people love to see the sure bet root for the first-timer. And usually, all of that works. Usually, the prep work that comes fromThe Ainur Talent Agencyis enough.

Unless you're the unlucky bastard who finds himself on the other side ofMiriel Elros' microphone.

I want to lie and say I don't remember what she asked me. I want to lie and pretend that she's not the first person to break through my drug-induced haze with a question designed to turn me into a frozen mess.Mirielknows how to find the sorest spot of an actor's life and then attack where they can't run and hide. She was a viper in a nest of rodents, and often I find myself wondering why she didn't do things like political journalism, critiquing those who actually made things happen. She'd be an excellent correspondent.

"The last time you were here, you were getting ready to lose the nineteen ninety-nine award for Best Supporting Actor inA Beautiful Life, for your role next toFinrod Noldor. How do you feel now, on the red carpet, being nominated for the same award as your late friend?"

She called him myfriend. It was like a knife to the gut.Finrodwas anything but my friend. We were on the same set, yes. We shared two, maybe three scenes together in a film, and he was one of those people who had the air of magmatism around him no matter what he did. But we never hung out. We never grabbed lunch or coffee. We were cordial. The only time I had ever seen him outside of the set was that night. And that ended on the opposite end of friendly.

It's easy enough to ignore the jab on losing my first nomination. The loss had four years to marinate in my head, and it no longer bothered me. But the wordfriend. It felt like a stone in my throat. I remember clearly, my brow furrowing as I kept the polite smile on my lips, my drug-addled brain searching for the words to say whileMirielstood, microphone held to my face. It could've been seconds or hours before I responded.

"Well," I say, hoping the panic isn't seeping into my voice. "Finrodwas an amazing actor, and even more he was an amazing person. Everyone who has won this award in the past four years should be grateful to be considered in the same category as him. I know I am. Win or lose, I am just honored to be considered on the same list as an icon such as himself."

I wasn't lying. Well, not fully. I did respectFinrod, probably as much as the next person. Did I consider him an icon? Not for acting. The most notable thing he ever did was die, and he didn't really get much say in that performance, did he? He was a legend but only in the tragedy of his real life. But, it was an honor to be named best actor. It was an honor to earn the award so early in both our careers. Even though I felt smug that I got there nearly nine years before he did.

I only breathed whenMirielstepped away from me.

The actual ceremony was full of sh*t. Star after star rose to the stage to thank the people they'd spent the last year yelling at. Every actor on the stage had yelled at their agent or manager or even their director at least once a month for the past twelve months, only to plaster on fake smiles as soon as a camera came out and forced them to adopt the "lovable hot starlet" persona they all attempted to adopt. This isn't to say I didn't do the same thing when my name was called. I thanked the director, my fellow castmates, and god I only partially believed in. I smiled and let the stagehand lead me backstage.

When I got back to my seat I smiled for every award after mine. I clapped for the other movies that won, including when we lost Best Picture toAtlanta, a musical retold as a film. Fake smiles, continue to applaud. After all, I'd gotten what I wanted. I won the golden trophy. I still have it, it's collecting dust on my mantle at theL.A.home. I only stay there when I have to.

But the worst part of that night came at the end. The moment I was leaving early fromIsildur's afterparty where I only took one more bump before settling for his sh*t beer and ignoring the eyes that his sister flashed at me all night. I'd won the award and I made my required appearances, all I wanted was to slink back into my bed at home.Anárion, the more talented brother ofIsildur, stopped me on my way out.

"Feels like sh*t, doesn't it?" He asked. What the f*ck happened to hello? Hi, how are you?

"Being at this party? Yes."

The bastard laughs, nodding toward the balcony door rather than the front door I was heading to. And my dumbass follows him, probably more so following the pack of cigarettes he pulls out. They're not my favorite vice but hell, when they're available.

"The Oscar is sh*t," he says when we get outside. I take one of his cigarettes, barely waiting for him to extend his lighter before I light it and take the first drag. Hell, but I doubt heaven would feel better. "Bunch of pretentious dickhe*ds."

I nod, giving a bit of an exhale. "But it's everything."

"Why, do you think?" He looks genuinely curious about my answer, and for the first time, I think that maybe this conversation is a test.

"We're actors,Anárion," I say after just a moment. "If we don't get the shiny trophy and the magazine articles claiming that we're special, what makes us better than Joe Nobody working at the Walgreens down the street?"

He exhales his own puff of smoke, and the wind pushes it directly back into my face. I barely felt it at the time, peering at the man next to me as he considered my words. There's enough of a beat that we both take another drag, and I look offIsildur's balcony to the hills below. There were countless parties going on in the ridge, each twinkling light another mansion that people rarely spent time in. I couldn't wait to get back to my bed.

"I guess the money isn't enough?" He asks this as if the answer isn't obvious. I scoff, taking another long drag of the cigarette.

"We're all slaves to that here," I say. "Everything costs sh*t, we all gotta live, we all gotta eat." I hesitate, and for not the first I appreciateAnárionfor being a better person than his brother. He simply leans against the railing, looking at me in wait. "But there's something about that f*cking trophy. Not everyone can get that. Not everyone can just get up and try really hard and have a little bit of it at the end of the day. Look atL.A.No one f*cking lives here because it's cheap. No one lives here because they make money. They're here because they want their name to be known by everyone in this goddamn country. And having that stupid f*cking trophy puts you one, two hundred households closer to being as ubiquitous with fame as Marilyn f*cking Monroe."

I light another cigarette, not even asking before I pluck it fromAnárion's discarded pack on the railing next to him. He just looks at me, head co*cked in consideration. For a moment, I wondered if that was the wrong thing to say. For a moment, I wondered if I had unwittingly ruined my chances of working with the plethora of connectionsAnárionand the entire Voronda family had within the industry. Not that I was winning any favors withIsildur. Until he straightens, snuffing his cigarette out and tossing it over the railing.

"I think you should meet someone."

#haladriel#saurondriel

hibewriter

Jun 3

Lost In Translation

Masterlist Read it on AO3 WIPChapters: 1 2

The Rings of Power / Lord of the Rings | Haladriel / Saurondriel | 5.4K | E

Tags: 1st persn POV | Dual POV | Drug Use | Character Death | Referenced Domestic Violence

Chapter One: 321

March 1999

Galadriel

The first time I ever stepped foot on a red carpet was at the nineteen ninety-nine Oscars. I was ten.

In my opinion, it was strange stepping onto the red carpet amongst those who were clamoring to get pictures of those who had already established themselves as powerhouses on the stage. Then there was me, gripping tightly to my brother's suit jacket as he stood and dazzled by simply smiling. There was nothing he could do to make the cameras stop flashing, or the people to stop screaming his name. I don't think he would if he could.

I remember the feeling of panic, my heart beating a mile a minute inside my chest as I did my best to remember what Mother had taught us. Smile at the camera, stand straight, and pose properly. I wanted to grasp at my chest and clutch the sequined fabric of the strappy black dress Mother had permitted me to wear. But instead, I forced a smile on my lips and let the cameraman snap picture after picture. I hadaskedto be here. In fact, I had demanded to joinFinrodat the premier, if only to know why my big brother was permitted out on a school night. Never mind that he was nearly thirty, or that his filmography had begun the same year that I was born. I didn't care about the contractual obligations or the fact that it was some boring ceremony.

I wanted my brother.

So I swallowed the bile in my throat. I breathed just likeDr. Celebrimborhad taught me to, inhaling and exhaling through my nose, the smile plastered on my face. I moved whenFinrodsubtly tapped my shoulder with his index finger. I said nothing. I was the picture-perfect adornment to my brother's accomplishments.

"— there's no one I'd want more at my side than my sister, especially for my first Oscar win,"Finrodsays with a surety that draws me out of my focused haze. I look up at him, maintaining my soft smile as I try to play catch up. Someone, a reporter, was asking him questions about me. He was moving the conversation away. To this day, I don't know whether or not he was doing it for my sake or his. But the way he spoke, it was bothFinrodand notFinrod. His voice, naturally soft and sweet around me, had taken a deeper tone. His words were drug out of his mouth as if over coals, the sweet man I knew giving way to someone pretending. At the time, I was struck by his ability to meld so effortlessly into this character for this stage that wasn't a stage. Now I know what it really is. It wasn't a character, but just another part of me that he hadn't allowed me to see.

Finrodwon the Oscar that night. Best Actor for his role inA Beautiful Life. I never watched the film, so you may imagine my surprise when the clip of my brother, dressed like a soldier, crying over what I can only assume was a corpse. It was gut-wrenching. My brother didn't even glance at me, instead standing as the cameramen came by, filming his trek to the stage.

I know some will fault me for it, but I don't remember his speech. I'm sure he thanked me, Mother, perhaps his director and the crew of the film. And all the while I stared at a man so different from the one I'd known.

The rest of the ceremony was quick. I even smiled at the screenings ofThe Egyptian Prince. I held my brother's hand, and it almost felt like we were at home again, watching recaps ofFinrod's competition win awards he wanted. Except, this timeFinrodwas holding his trophy in a death grip, refusing to let the stage managers hold it for a second longer than necessary. He wasn't nominated for any more awards. Still, we sat through the whole thing. I gripped my brother like a vice, desperate for him to look at me. He gripped his trophy like it was the last thing he'd ever do.

The afterparty is the best and worst thing that ever happened to me.

I know it's selfish to frame it that way, in the context of how I felt rather than the tragedy that happened. But, that is how I can stomach to think of it.Finrodwas supposed to take me straight home after the ceremony. He was supposed to tuck me into bed before absconding to whatever afterparty it was that he was invited to. But he'd taken one look at me in the car and changed the whole plan.

"You didn't have fun, did you?" He wasn't asking, not really. Stating a fact in the form of a question to shove the blame, the responsibility, off onto someone else. I shook my head.There was little fun to be had, I'd thought. He huffed a laugh, little more than an exhale of his breath as he cracked a smile. It was as if he'd read my mind. "Then I'll take you somewhere fun. Don't tell mom and dad."

Somewhere fun was the home ofCírdan Nowë. The most I'd heard of him at this point was how much of a powerhouse he was. An experimental director of contemporary romance. A man deeply attached to his craft, whose only breaks came in the form of lavish parties after boring awards were bestowed upon him. He'd won three awards that night, for best picture, best director, and best screenplay adaptation in his retelling ofShakespeare's Lover.We'd watched it in my English class the year before. I questioned his decision to write it in iambic pentameter, and my teacher told me that writing in the language of the subject was an intimate way to know the subject.

I hated it.

The home we visit is more impressive than Father's.Círdanlives atop one of the tallest hills in Beverly Hills. The home is Spanish-colonial inspired, but I can't help but stare at the widescreen TV, even as the living room fills with strangers trampling over imported terracotta brick. I get lost as soft music plays over speakers I don't see,Finrodsets a movie on that I'd loved, and he disappears.

Sometimes I think about whether or not watching that film made me a bad sister. I debate it heavily, day in and out. Would the outcome have changed if I'd followedFinrodto the den upstairs? Would anything have changed if I simply asked him to take me home? Would I still have an innocent view of these Hollywood circles if my brother had lived through the night?

These are questions we'll never know the answer to.

Some pop song is playing on the speakers, and I sit close enough toCírdan Nowë's television that my mother would've scolded me. She would've said I was going blind, that the TV would rot my brain andFinrodshould never have sat me in front of it. But, like the child I was, I was enamored with the animated screen.King of Lions IIshows the love story I wanted but could never fully imagine at my young age. The party fell away from my consciousness, mesmerized as I was.

The film ended sometime near one in the morning. I find myself thinking back to the gaudy clock aboveCírdan's refrigerator. It was loud, and it was the first thing I could see as I walked through the home to findFinrod. The party was in full swing, packed to the brim as celebrities I didn't recognize and wouldn't remember danced and drank. There were plenty of bodies around me, moving in sync to a beat that I couldn't name, nor would I want to. The bodies melded into one, just a constant swarm around me. I wondered then if this was what it was like to be drunk. If the loss of balance I felt could be attributed to the men, and women, who surrounded me with their glasses full of drinks I couldn't begin to know about. None of the other guests seemed that interested in me, or the fact that I was there at all.

Eventually, I make my way into the den. I wish I hadn't.

In fact, walking into the den felt like walking while the world was tilted on its axis. Six people were surrounding my brother's body. Six people who were panicked. Six people who couldn't save him. They were on the floor. Or, at least,Finrodwas. The rest were around him. One man was fanning him, and another was attempting CPR. I stood, frozen, staring at them. The man giving CPR was jerking so hard with each movement, that I thought he would breakFinrod's ribs. The one fanning him was sweating so much, I knew he was sweating into my brother's mouth. The ceiling fan did nothing to help.

The only one to notice me was the man pacing. Or I thought he was a man. He was tall, towering over me as went back and forth some feet in front of me. His hair was long, flopping around his skull in the way that the girls in my class seemed to squeal over. Except his hair was damp with sweat as he paced, clinging to his head in a way that forced his ears to stick out unnaturally. When he looked at me, hazel eyes bore into my soul, and I was lost.

I don't remember much of what else happened after that. What I do remember haunts me. I remember when my body finally felt like moving, my legs stumbling over each other as I began to move towards him. I remember a strong arm around my waist, tugging me back from him. I remember beginning to scream.

The paramedics pronouncedFinrod Noldordead at three fifty-nine in the morning. My parents arrived at the mansion at four fifteen. Frantic doesn't begin to describe them. They were hysterical, screaming and crying at the paramedics. As if being louder than God will bring my brother back.

Then they saw me, holding on to a pillow some stranger had given me in lieu of holding my brother. I haven't seen my mother do this since, but an eerie calm came over her as she came to me. She knelt in front of me, hand reaching out to brush the tears away from my eyes. I know many of the headlines in the following months would claim my mother spoke to me. That she had said some words of profound wisdom that somehow made the events of that evening alright. I regret to inform you that nothing of the sort happened. Mother cried. I cried. All that happened that night was a family, broken by accident, clinging onto the shards of each other in our grief.

My brother was dead at twenty-nine years old, just eight days before his thirtieth birthday. We were supposed to go on a vacation to Italy. Instead, we buried him. Looking back there were nearly two thousand people at the funeral. I only recognized eight of them. The faces of the two living brothers, my parents, and four of the six faces who surrounded my brother as he died. My hazel-eyed man was nowhere to be found.

I only claim March twenty-first as one of the best nights of my life because I was able to see the bigger picture of my brother. I saw the man, flawed and all, and at the end of the night, I still loved him. At the end of it all, he was my brother. For his flaws, there were also blessings. And for one, glorious night, I lived with both.

I took up the guitar that same year. My parents were so concerned, at first. They worried I would be sucked down into the same future as my brother. That I was trying to emulate him with the talents that I did have. I was never much of an actress, but music filled my soul. It was the balm that a loving embrace and all the condolences in the world couldn't mimic. The only thing that stopped the nightmares. I'd fall asleep listening to Stevie Wonder. I'd brush my teeth to Nirvana. Those lyrics let me fall into my grief and love without forcing me to say the words outright. Of course, at ten and eleven, I didn't know how to express that part of me. I just knew I wanted to feel without feeling, and the guitar helped me do it.

On the one-year anniversary of my brother's death, I wrote my first song. It wasn't any good. It had a terrible rhyme scheme, and the flow of the words did not match the tune I was going for. Some phrases were downright non-sensical, only placed to fill a void. It wouldn't be for several more months before I wrote something halfway decent. Years before I wrote something that actually properly conveyed the grief I felt.

On the four-year anniversary ofFinrod's death, I released the song onNapster.

321. It was technically a country song, a fake southern twang dropped into my words as cursed the devil and hollered at the injustices of the world.I curse his name and I wonder if he'll take me. I hug the grave of the love stolen from me. And I wonder if the devil knows I'm coming for his neck.It was juvenile. The words were still clumsy of a girl who didn't know what she was doing or why, but the passion came with it.

It was reported on by the same people who coveredFinrod's death. TMZ called our house a minimum of ten times over the two months after the song was released. Mother never answered.

Three months after the song, I received a letter. Though, I guess you could say that's not really true. Mother had thrown away all mail addressed to me that didn't involve school or early-college brochures. I normally ignored it, simply relying on her to know what's best. But something that night had told me to look, and on top of the pile in the trash, was a letter fromSauron. There was no last name. His handwriting was jagged, looped, and off-kilter in the worst of ways. It had taken me three full days to decipher it. When I did, I cried for a week straight.

DearGaladriel,I know this letter may seem strange. In honesty, I have been trying to write this for over four years now. But every attempt rings hollow in its execution. I know you have no idea who I am, and for reasons you will learn, my true name will not be attached to this letter, for I am a coward. One who can't confess to you fully what I have done, lest you hate me for the rest of eternity for my mistake.I was there, in 1999, March 21. I was inCírdan's den, where we had gathered to partake in the joys of party revelry. I was the one who brought the cocaine. It's a mistake I will regret for the rest of my life. I was nineteen, stupid, and naive. It should've been me carted away.I didn't write this to make you upset, though I know you probably don't believe me. I only wrote this to let you know that I'm sorry. I am so, so sorry for the pain I've caused you, and your family. I'm sorry I was ever there at all.Sauron

#haladriel#saurondriel

hibewriter

Jun 2

je te vuex

Masterlist Read it on AO3 Chapters: 1 2 3 Discontinued

This fic was discontinued because it was meant to be a gift for a friend who is no longer a friend because they are a zionist.

Shadow &. Bone | Darklina | 12.9K (total) | M

Tags:Underage | Underage Drinking | Masturbation | BF's Brother Trope

Chapter 3

(WhenAlinastarted atSaint Ilya's School for Gifted Children,Malyen Oretsevwas the first person to approach her with any semblance of kindness. It had all begun in their shared Honors English class.Professor Kuya, unlikeAleksander, was the second eldest member of staff and decided the illusion of choice was useless in her class. So they entered her class at seven fifteen in the morning, blurry-eyed and exhausted from the summer activities that had only ended the night before, all the freshmen were expected to find their names carefully printed on a white label at the edge of their desks.

It wasMal, then scraggly and lean, who'd approached her. At the time, she'd thought it was a prank. She'd known him at their private middle school –he was a legacy admission as a favor from his father's fraternity brother. When they walked the halls, it was as if she were invisible. But that day he saw her. )

Each sip of her co*cktail was another numbing agent as he kept glancing her way. Somehow this was better than the past nine months of avoiding his gaze at the cafeteria. Pretending she didn't see him and turning away from the taunts from his friends. "Sticks" had turned further contentious. Each time it was flung at her was with vitriol and a peppering of antagonism.

______

(There was something about their huddled whispers that Freshman year. Something that ignited butterflies in her belly with the way he'd wrap his arm around her shoulder, planting a soft kiss on her forehead. He always pointed her out during his soccer games, rushing the pop-up bleachers on the pitch to kiss her just after they finished. Ignoring the chastisem*nt of his coach and fellow teammates. She felt like aRavkanprincess. Thought they'd probably start discussing college and if she'd follow him to a specific place, or if he'd drive his Jeep down the coast to come see her.

But instead, Sophom*ore year came and brought with it change. )

_____

Zoyahad pulled them into a circle at the center of the room, a soft weight on the small of her back pressing her toward the group. Everyone had their cups, though there was an empty bottle lying in the center of the floor, prepped just for the occasion.

"Alright, bitches,"Zoyasaid with the authority of a commander, stepping to the center of the circle. "You're all welcome, I know it's not every day you get to be graced with my presence. For some of you, you'll learn so much. For instance,Malwill learn what it's like for a girl to kiss him and not throw up."

_____

(During the summer of sophom*ore year, he'd buzzed his hair when he went to his soccer camp. He'd met and started hanging out withMikahelandDubrov, who insisted on calling her "Sticks", just because she wanted to hang out with her boyfriend. As much as she hated them – they were loud, brutish, and cruel – whateverMalhad turned into was worse. Instead of his playful shoulder wrap and forehead kisses, he insisted on holding her where her body curved, stroking on any exposed skin every chance he got. His kisses drifted lower, inhaling her mouth and forcing his tongue between her lips, regardless of their setting. And then came the pressure. )

______

Alinastifled her giggle into her cup, smiling softly asZoyasent her a wink before continuing. "For others...well. Welcome to the party. We're doing old-school games with Seven Minutes in Paradise, and no that does not mean what you do with your handDubrov. I start us off by spinning the bottle, the lucky bitch or bastard on the other end gets to go get locked inthatcloset," she pointed to a partially closed door on the other side of the room, "for seven minutes with me. Once those seven minutes are up, we come out, hopefully, clothed, and my lovely partner spins for a new one. Maybe we all get a technical fourteen minutes in Paradise."

She clasped her hands together, as she looked expectantly at the circle. After a beat of silence, she smiles, crouching with her knees closed, spinning the bottle on the hardwood. It lands with pinpoint precision, onGenya.

______

(Every time they were alone, his hands grew heavier with each touch as he attempted to get her to fool around with him. To expose herself to his gaze, more of his touch, and his —

And she couldn't do it.

There's something to realizing you're not ready for that leap. It's something so poisonous to realize you're not sure if your love for someone would survive what it took to reveal yourself to them and give them something that theOs Altaeducation system had decided was something "you should only share with someone you were in a monogamous relationship with".

And so resentment grew, like ivy on the tower that was their relationship. Even the things that weren't related to sex, felt poisoned by his touch until he mostly stopped altogether. Until they were together because they had been together for over a year and hekeptsaying she would get there and that they'd be together forever so what was a small snag of waiting? )

_______

There's a time when you go to a party and realize that you're alone once the only person in your corner is gone. The circle of people felt almost suffocating once the two girls disappeared into the closet.Alinagoes back to her cup, sipping on it as she counts the seconds. A useless way of telling time, but it was either count to four hundred and twenty or risk speaking to a group of people who seemedfriendly enoughwith her ex-boyfriend.

_______

(Junior year was the nail in the coffin. They slowly got accustomed to not being in the same classes; her straight Advanced Placement courses were always in conflict with his Honors courses. She thought maybe he'd break up with her. Or at least try to schedule more time to see her, outside of brief glimpses during his soccer practices and rides home in thatstupid f*ckingJeep that he insisted on keeping the doors off of.

Instead, it was the night thatAlinahad decided she may as well have ripped the bandaid off and got it over with. Let him crawl over her and put his co*ck in her and maybe let him lie and say he loved her when at this point their teen romance had already run its course. And she was going to tell him when she arrived at the homecoming game. Let him know onceGenyaran off to speak to whoever was joining the party that evening and they had a moment's privacy. But he had been under the permanent stands – the football team always had more money.

The stands with shadowy places, plenty unable to be seen as passersby walked to their seats or concessions. Yet he chose the spot closest to the bright lights of the path, barely hidden behind the concrete pillar. Like he wanted to be caught with his hands downRose Fitzgerald's pants and his lips pressed to her neck. Because he wanted her to see him, evident by the way his eyes made contact with her, a glint of mischief in his eyes as they dared her to say something.

Just like they did tonight.)

_____

It continues similarly onceGenyacomes out of the room.Alinasipped her cup silently next to her while the redhead made conversation. Each time a new person came along she would smile and nod as her friend wouldinsistthat they knew this person from some obscure class or another. The small talk at any party is often atrocious, the only saving grace being the natural buffer her friend gave her.Genyaand whatever stranger of the moment would go in depth about a class or plans for the upcoming year, whileAlinawould pretend she cared about Gabby's eighteenth birthday party after the first week of school. OrNikolai's planned rager next month – somethingGenyagraciously backed them out of because they couldn't go to the boatandhis birthday,

Then the bottle landed on her.

_____

"Pfft, make sure she doesn't crush you mate."

The boy on the other end of the bottle shook his head, extending his hand toAlina's. Walking her to the closet and not letting go until they were firmly inside. The door closed, encasing them into darkness amongst a crowd of giggles.

"I'mMatthais," he said, after a moment of silence. "Kind of awkward – not being able to see! Not the um... a stranger in the closet thing. Though you know maybe that is awkward I dunno. I think there's a hanger digging into my back maybe, and —"

"I'mAlina," she said, rushing to stop the rambling. "I'm sure there are other ways you envisioned meeting someone."

"Quite the contrary, I've always thought I'd meet my wife at a party."

The silence that followed could've been felt from space. It probably would've been better, living out in space with no worries about why someone would say they were looking for theirwifeat a party.

"sh*t, I uh, just meant that like...I've thought about meeting people during parties," he rushed to say, trying to salvage his statement. She could feel his hand reach to her side, before retreating to his. "What I meant to say was like —"

"It's okay, I know what you meant," she said. She didn't, but she'd rather say she did if it meant smoothing out the next five minutes. She could practically see through the dark how he relaxed, the sigh of relief barely audible over the muted voices of the rest of the group on the other side of the door.

"Thank you," he said before they fell into silence again. This time it was more comfortable, with an edge of awkwardness. Until he broke it again.

"Wanna make out?"

_____

The opening of the door is sudden when it comes.Matthais, hunched over her small frame, barely registers the new audience. His lips are urgent against hers, large hands cupping her face to keep her close. Maybe it was how much tongue he was using, but the display garners low whistles from the crowd. In that moment she's glad she's been drinking so her blush could be explained away.

It's with a soft push thatMatthaisbacks away, that same boyish smile on his lips as he gestures to let her leave first. She smiles back, slipping past his arm back into the room.Zoya's arm was like a vice, grippingAlinato draw her back into the circle, ready to spin for her fate. Not thatAlinawasn't almost giddy as they approached the ring, kneeling to pick up the bottle. And it was fun, as the bottle spun and the circle joked amongst themselves, the soft laughter overMatthaisandAlina's emergence enough to fuel the conversation. Until the bottle slowed, ticking slowly past faces she did and didn't recognize, until it landed on the one she wanted the least.

Malyen Oretsevsmirked when the bottle landed dead center on him.

It was enough to make her bristle, shrugging offGenya's hand as it went to reassure her. The circle had grown quiet, the majority of the group no doubt aware ofMal's obvious disdain for his ex, even if the context was missing. Still,Alinashrugged, the smile gone from her face as she sharply turned on her heel and stalked back to the closet. She would wait patiently. If she was meant to play this stupid game, she was going to do it on her terms.

He joined her shortly after, closing the door behind him and engulfing her in the dark space again. She was silent, pressed firmly on the opposite wall from him. Counting seconds was easier and better than talking toSaint Ilya'sbiggest nightmare.

"You never answered my texts," he said, breaking her concentrated thoughts.

"I got a new number after I went to make sure my ex-boyfriend didn't give me herpes." She deadpanned, staring at where she assumed he stood on the other side of her.

"We would've had to have sex for that," he said.

"No, we wouldn't," she snarled. "Herpes can be spread orally, we learned it inCoach Botkin's health class. Or were you too busy thinking of ways to cheat on me to pay attention?"

"I wouldn't have had to cheat on you if you'd just put out," he hissed right back. "You'd think I was torturing you to just lay there and spread your legs. It's not like anyone else would've touched you."

"Oh, I didn't realize that I should be grateful to just be in the presence of someone who thought they were just doing a pity f*ck."

"Better than being such a sad sack of sh*t." He hissed back, pausing only for a moment before delivering what he no doubt believed would hurt her the most. "Hell evenGenyacan barely stand your 'whole woe is me' act."

It wasn't true, she knew that. What she didn't know was if it was on instinct or just pure rage that her hand flew, surprising both of them with her ability to find his face in the dark and, even more, that she could hit so strongly. His hands flew to his face, cradling his cheek as she went to try the door.

Not locked.

She slipped out, past the confused group in the den, and into the crowded hall.Malwas right behind her, fury raging in his eyes.

"You f*ckingbitch!" He yelled after her. "Just cause no one wants to f*ck you doesn't mean you make it everyone else's problem!"

"Malyen Oretsev"Zoyayelled back, stepping between him and his path toAlina. "What the f*ck is wrong with you?"

"Oh, what?" His voice is louder than the music, carrying through the entire room. "She's allowed to whor* herself out to —"

"That's enough,"Zoyacuts him off, her voice eerily calm. "I've gone through too much therapy and sh*t to hear you be an absolutedickjust becauseLinawould rather kiss someone else than f*ck you. Get the hell out."

"And take your stupid pity f*ck idea with you,"Alinamumbled. She downed the rest of her drink, watching asMalglowered at her friend. The other boys in the group hesitantly looked at each other, only moving whenZoyaturned to them, eyebrows raised whenMaldidn't move.

There's a sick satisfaction to watching your ex get ushered out of a party, and it grows even sweeter when you know he can't come back.

His leaving brings new life into the room. It was like a fist unclenching, the life of the party began to rush through her system. The mumbled insults and side eyes disappear and with them their vitriol. She didn't have to feel like an accidental tourist – her trepidation and fear were thrown into the void, replaced with a courage that manifested as an extroversion she'd never felt before. Names she wouldn't remember felt like sparkling wine on her tongue — the promise of new friendships that would be forgotten by morning.

The endless flow of drinks didn't hurt. Liquid courage flowed down her throat in quick succession as she found herself leaning against the kitchen counter withGenyaclose by as they drank together and laughed at the awkwardness of boys who tried to approach them. The crystalline kitchen was so clean and crisp, so against the teen revelry that she was sure it wasn't a place that intended for them to chug solo cup after solo cup of the burning liquid.

Zoyajoined them shortly, hips shimmying to the bass that filled their ears. The world was little more than a blur of color and mass. Time seemed unreal, the conversation beginning and ending in seconds or was it hours? When did it become two in the morning? When did she find her head leaning onZoya's shoulder, soft tears coming out because the girl had said she liked her hair? Where did the glitter on her cheek come from and was that couple having sex in the corner? The liminal zone of being present but not being real, the world tilted on its axis letting her know that she was real and an illusion at the same time.

ThenGenyathrew up inZoya's mom's fifteen thousand dollar vase.

Sobering up is impossible. Teetering steps as she attempted to hold her friend (she took the right arm andZoyathe left, but both girls moved more like they were dragging a dead body through the woods, tripping on air to get to their destination) to the unfairly chic and modern bathroom. It seemed insulting, the quivering mess of a girl who was washing the remains of vodka and the small dinner from her mouth into a sink that cost more thanAlina's house. But the taller girl looked at her, seemingly more sober than both of them as she demanded thatAlinacall someone.

It's easy enough to find the phone inGenya's back pocket, even with the numbers blurring as she uses her friend's limp hand to unlock the device. Then the decision of who to call becomes a mountain to climb. The names blurred — a list of people whose names were saved incorrectly. (Seriously, who names a contact Boring Lantsov? Was there an exciting one?) Until she found the correct one — or what she assumed the correct one was.

Calling dickhe*d (For emergency)...

"Hello?" The voice on the other end of the line was more comforting than she would've been willing to admit. The version of herself at the present was willing to bite her lip, leaning back on the wide marble countertop as she did. The stone should've helped ground her, but instead, she found herself more in tune with the pulsing in her ears. It felt like a thudding in her head that traveled down to her core, a molten pit just from a simple hello.

"Al–Aleks," she cooned, head knocking back onto the cool window. The comforting tilt of her world before was now too much, spinning too fast. "Oof. We might be...um...too f*cked up. Wait, sh*t. Sorry. Um. We need help."

"Is thatAleksander?"Zoyawhisper-yells as she begins to help wash their friend's mouth with a new toothbrush. Where she got it,Alinawill never know. She nodded, reaching out to softly rub the redhead's shoulder, falling a little short and barely noticing.

"You, um," she mumbles into the phone, curling in on herself as if that would help him hear her. "Can you come? Help us? Please?"

For a moment she thinks he hung up, if not for the sound of his steady breathing on the other line. Each exhale is a dagger in her chest, and if she was of the right mind she might've explored why she felt that way.

"I'm on my way.Don'tturn her phone off please."

She nods, trying not to focus on the way his voice sounds like the crunching of gravel or the edge of her sanity. How does he manage to sound that way without trying? Does he know what it does to people?

"Can you both get to the lobby? I'll be there in ten."

Again she nods, keeping her eyes closed. Moving sounded impossible, but for him, she could try.

"Alina."

"Hmm? Oh, yes. We'll be there."

It turns into a mission. A poorly executed one that was performed by drunken toddlers as the three girls attempted to cross the crowded room. They kept stopping to explain why they were half dragging, half carrying a girl slipping in and out of consciousness to the elevator, concerned drunken partygoers with their own opinions about what they should do withGenyaand how they could take care of her here.

______

(His voice could be heard in the elevator down, yelling for the doorman to let him go collect his sister.)

______

(They all pretend not to notice)

______

Aleksanderdrives a truck. A shiny black RAM with raised tires and a penchant to makeAlinafeel small. She always thought it impractical, a mistake to use in the bustling city where you could barely see over the dashboard to the road below. But she's far too concerned aboutGenyato shove in his face her opinion on the matter. Not as she watches him haul his sister onto his shoulders just to toss her into the car. For a second she wondered if he would be able to do the same to her, picking her up as if she were nothing, and tossing her to the cab. But she knew better than that.

He turns to her, anger on every line of his face as he raises an expectant eyebrow.

"Passenger seat," he says. "Now."

She adds scrambling to new heights to something a drunk person shouldn't attempt to do. She's halfway in the seat before she feels his hand wrapped around her ankle, raising her leg for her instead of letting her dangle out of the seat. And she barely has a chance to tell him towaitbefore he hisses, taking a step back and releasing her as if he'd been burned by the accidental vision he'd seen.

______

(The first five minutes of the trip are held in silence, broken only byGenya's soft moans as she tosses and turns in the back seat. They were determined not to mention the fact that he saw her thong.

Or that they both knew it was wet.)

______

"Where are we going?" She breaks. He didn't wind the streets that lead toward the outskirts. He was heading away fromthe Morozov Estate, going further north, deeper intothe city. He shrugs, turning with a singular hand as he fiddles with his gear shift.

"If I drop her off like thatBaghrawill kill me, and you."

She bit her lip, the flesh feeling sore from how often she'd done it this evening. He's right. In all fairness, the worst they'd gotten caught doing was rifling throughBaghra's pantry. And even then, it was only becauseGenyahad stolenAleksander's gift of chocolate sweets without realizing it.

Maybe it was best to stay in silence.

______

She'd never seen his apartment before. He'd always arrived atthe Estatefor dinner or reluctantly had driven there from the school to drop the two girls off. And she'd only seen him leavethe Estatethe few times she'd spent the night. But then again, she supposed she tried not to think of him much on purpose, keeping all thoughts of him to the recesses of her mind until she was soundly alone without a soul to witness.

And she certainly hadn't thought of his apartment then.

______

It was industrial. The opposite of the elegant old-money luxury ofthe Estate, with its exposed brick and steel beams on high ceilings. She did her best not to marvel as he laid his sister on the exposed sofa, ignoring the black finishings that encased dark mahogany, or the slate-grey upholstery that somehow looked so inviting. No, she shuffled her feet, teetering at the edge of the entrance to the open-concept apartment. And she steadfastly refused to look at the double-frosted glass doors that led to the only private space in the apartment.

It takes him a while to getGenyasettled. She crosses to the large windows, peering out to the city that has just begun to rise.

"So you gonna tell me what happened?"

"No."

She doesn't look at him, staring as cars begin to line the streets, so focused on appearing uninterested that his presence at her back startles her.

"I won't tell your parents," he says. "If that's what you're worried about."

She humphs, crossing her arms over her chest. " They won't care. Nothing happened. We drank too much, and she threw up so we called you."

"Why?"

"Why?" she repeats. " She had you listed for emergencies. It was a party, and we weren't gonna ask a room full of drunks to help."

He hums, sidestepping to lean against the window to look at her face. She looks to the other side. She wonders who fills the building next door and if they too got caught up in ridiculous conversations about why a teenager might drink at a party.

"Genyadoesn't typically drink to excess," he starts, glancing back at his sister. "So she must've had a reason. Either you can tell me, or she will in the morning."

She huffs in reply, turning to walk back toward the kitchen. She hears him follow. There's a soft thud to his footsteps as he slinks behind her in, what she assumes, is his portrayal of mild curiosity. "Do you have any water?"

______

His counter is cold against the back of her thighs as she sits on top of it. He just stares at her as she recounts the events of the night. Her brain was just addled enough that she didn't bother omitting the details of her kiss. The way she thoughtMatthaisused too much tongue but at least he seemed nice. And she just doesn't stop, not when he furrows his eyebrow or sways slightly closer.

"–And it's sostupid," she half sobs into her water. "I don't even like him anymore so it's not like his words have much meaning but it was just so...embarrassing.But it doesn't matter. I'm over it."

" Are you now?" He asks it like a taunt. She fixes him with the best glare she can muster, as watery and lackluster as it may be.

"Sorry," he says. "Why does it bother you so much? Not that I'm saying go after Helvar but –"

"Because," she whines, leaning against his shoulder. She tried to ignore his scent, but it was infectious. The cedar notes that laid over the soft cleanliness of a fresh shower filled her nostrils, and she couldn't help to inhale, momentarily forgetting herself.

"Because?"

"I'm never gonna get out of my head," she mumbles. "I'll die a virgin because no one else... can."

He sighs, and she smiles a little bit as he wraps an arm around her. "Malisn't the only person in the world who–"

"No," she groans. " NotMal. I don't – I never – wantedhim."

"Alina–"

"You, dickhe*d," she mumbles. She turns her head to hide her shame from his gaze. "I want it to be you. But you... can't"

______

(He was going to respond. )

______

(She didn't give him a chance.)

______

"Alina—"

"Don't," she says, pulling away from him in an attempt to continue to hide from her shame. "Please don't try to let me down easy. Iknow. You'reGenya'sbrother,not to mention —"

She's cut off by his hand around her arm, the tug that lands her back into his arms. His lips are on hers in an instant, the shock rendering her still as stone. How often had she thought of this exact moment? How many nights had she pushed her hands between her thighs to the thought of how his hands would feel against her skin?It didn't matter, because her fantasies paled in comparison. There was real heat on the other end of her lips, his hands provided real pressure, a weight she craved yet never admitted to. It was everything she thought it be and more.

Genyashifts in her sleep, releasing a low moan as she attempts to find comfort on the couch. It's enough to breakAlinaout of her stupor, enough to force her to think aboutwhoshe was kissing. Her professor. Her best friend's brother. Her —

She pushes away from him. She stared at him with wide eyes while her thoughts raced a mile a minute in the darkness of his apartment.Her professor.Genya's brother. Her professor.Genya's brother.The reminders ofwhohe is ring in her head like a tune that won't go away. Stuck in her head on repeat to remind her of how she almost ruined everything for a kiss.

It's enough to make her run.

#darklina

hibewriter

Jun 2

je te vuex

Masterlist Read it on AO3 Chapters: 1 2 3 Discontinued

This fic was discontinued because it was meant to be a gift for a friend who is no longer a friend because they are a zionist.

Shadow &. Bone | Darklina | 12.9K (total) | M

Tags:Underage | Underage Drinking | Masturbation | BF's Brother Trope

Chapter 2

When summer starts it's easy to feel excited. It's easy to think of days by the pool and lounge snacks while stealing alcohol from your parents' cabinets. But then nearly a month goes by, and you begin to wonder if one could die from doing the same thing every day with little variation.

Or at least, that's howAlinasees it.

It's not that she doesn't loveGenya. There was just something about making that same trek. Taking the same turns. Getting lost in the same sea of faces. Only to sit in the same pool lounger discussing the same people who are doing the same thing. Still, what else was she to do? It was easier to get up and put on some band tee and knee-length shorts, then bound out of the door to the brownstone intothe citybefore her mother or stepfather could tell her no. Or worse, try to speak to her.

Nothing ever stays the same, however. Today was different. The second she stepped out of the converted brownstone, there was a car she recognized all too well, idling at the curb. Maybe she should've paused or backed to the safety of her home, but even with the roof up, she could still see the vibrant auburn cascading down the driver's shoulder.

"I was just about to start walking over," she said as she slid into the passenger seat of the car.Genyasmiled, eyes hidden by a pair of designer sunglasses that probably cost more thanAlina's mother's monthly mortgage payment.

"No need," her friend said, thrusting the car into drive. "We're going downtown today."

(Note. It was not unheard of to venture intoDowntown Os Alta. In fact, like most cities, the downtown area was a natural center for activity, with good food, better drinks, and even more shopping, It was, however, uncommon for these two friends to abruptly decide to go.)

"I don't have my —"

"Don't worry about it,Lina."

They drove for another twenty minutes, the congestion ofthe city's daytime traffic more of a hindrance than an aide. Still, the girls managed to laugh. They giggled at street performers in bustling chrome paint and suits who pretended that they didn't know the definition of a heat wave while staying in ridiculous poses. Or they outright laughed at boys in neighboring cars who happened to notice they were close to two women enjoying their day. And then they pulled into a parking garage that anyone could spot a mile away, and the laughter died onAlina's lips.

"No," she said immediately, looking up at the bold, dark letters above them.

"Yes,"Genyasaid, not a care in the world as she pulled into the valet half-circle. She sighed as if she thought for a moment and came to a realization. "Listen,Lina, you were miserable last year."

"I was not miser—"

"Lina, I love you, but you were. And like, I knowhe-who-must-not-be-nameddid a number on you with the breakup, but this is our senior year!"Genyaspoke with the authority of someone who'd experienced it all before. A symptom of having a brother eight years her senior, as observation gave way to confidence. After all, she'd watched countless others crossSaint Ilya'sstage at the end of each year. So in a way, she'd been waiting, watching, learning, and planning the exact way she wanted her senior year to go since she was in the fifth grade.

"I know you think you're fine, but you can't spend senior year wearing the same worn hoodie and glaring athimfrom across the cafeteria. Don't look at me like that. You're gonna look hot as f*ck, we're gonna laugh and drink and go to parties and try not to cry come May when you say you're going to UR instead ofRavU. And I'll fail because you're my best friend and there's no point without you there. But we'll pretend to be happy because you won't let me pay for you and I will have a meltdown if you don't let me take you inside for some serious retail therapy."

Genyaseemed breathless at the end of her speech. For a moment, allAlinacould do was stare. She was dumbstruck at the sudden outburst of emotion. That is until the shrill bleat of a horn took the both of them from their stupor.Genyapulls up to the valet and the decision is made.

_________

"Miss Safin, welcome back," the attendant at the door stated. "And a lovely welcome to your friend, Miss —?"

"Starkov,"Genyastated. She moved with the confidence of someone who owned the place. Each wall was painted a soft creme color, bronzed detailing accenting the thin shelves holding various accessories of insurmountable quality. "We'll be upstairs, Marcus. The normal suite."

She paused. Her fingers deftly picked at a scarf just lying loosely in a carefully manicured display.

"Can you bring me the variations of this? Oh, and your entire streetwear collection size fourteen and up."

The attendant paused, casting a furtive glance atAlina. She felt, more than saw, the way he appraised her form. His judgment was nearly palpable, obvious in the scrunching of his face. It was easier to ignore than to grow angry or embarrassed. She wore a perfectly normal size, and yet he looked at her as if she'd grown a second head.

"And Marcus,"Genyasaid, barely casting a glance in either of their direction as she made her way to the floating staircase. "If you're going to look at my friend like that, I'd like to speak to The Madame in searching for a different attendant. Let's go,Lina."

_________

Their room is more akin to a hotel living room than a dressing room. There was a plush couch, deep mahogany legs, and the softest of fabrics available, set with a matching floor table and state-of-the-art low-pile rug. They had a waiting tray on the low table, a freshly opened bottle of champagne waiting in ice surrounded by fresh fruits and cheeses.

When they stepped insideAlinacouldn't help but gasp, taking in the neat shelves of expensive footwear and jewelry on display. All the whileGenyaplopped onto the couch, taking a small blackberry in between perfectly manicured nails to plop into her waiting mouth.

"No wonder you enjoy shopping so much,"Alinamuttered as she walked the display shelves, marveling at the priceless items. Each item lacked a label, just perched precariously under spotlights waiting to accept any and all judgment.Genyalaughed and poured the champagne into both glasses.

"We can cancel this and go to the mall," she suggested.Alinaturned on her heel, a grin already creeping on her face as she approached her friend.

"Don't you dare," she said as she threw herself onto the couch next to her friend. She reached for the tray, ready to savor the raspberries on her tongue.

They were giggling with each other when the attendant came into the room, wheeling a rack of clothing with various pieces. The two watched with rapt attention as he pulled the clothes to the only bare wall. She co*cked her head with a smile, noting that he refused to look at her again as he gave a short bow. There was a short murmur of leave on his lips as he moved to exit.

There was a pause as he left the room, both girls staring at his retreating form. He was barely two steps out the door, the large oak slammed shut behind him before the two fell into a fit of giggles.

The first outfit is barely onAlina's body when the first sigh comes. Which, in a grand scheme kind of way, is irrelevant. But still, the sound dug underAlina's skin like a summer camp bully. They forced her attention, even when they weren't directed toward her. Even though they were always directed toward her.

The first sigh was inconsequential – something that could've been excused byGenya's shifting body. The second, aligning withAlina's third outfit, was less subtle. It was exaggerated not only by its size but the strong and unsubtle way her friend swung her whole body to flop, checking her phone. The third and fourth were different only in volume, growing louder still. It increased until the time the seventh came it was impossible to ignore. Easily a demand for attention.

"Something on your mind?"Alinaasked, placing a baggy shirt with an obscure brand's bold lettering back onto the hanger hook.

"Ya know, I'm glad you asked,"Genyasaid, suddenly alert and cheerful as she swung back again into a sitting position.

"See," she hedged, hands beginning to play with the ends of her hair. "I just think that maybe...well you know how we're shopping?"

Alinalevies her friend with a blank stare, holding a simple white tee and jean skirt to her frame.

"Well,"Genyacontinues. She slides to the edge of the couch as if leaning in for a whisper. "Maybe we should do a test run? Tonight?"

It wasAlina's turn to sigh, a million reasons to frown flowed through her mind as she looked at her friend.

"Did you already say yes to whatever this is?" She asked, shimmying her shorts off her legs so she could pull the small skirt up her legs.

"Absolutely I did."Genyawas the definition of nonplussed as she leaned forward to refill her champagne. "Even toldZoyou were my plus one."

"And it'sZoya?!"Alinahuffed as she got the skirt over her hips, ignoring the brand insignia at the edge of her thigh. "Could you not have just stabbed me?"

"It'll be fine. I'll throw my drink at her myself if something happens."

Trying to fightGenyawhen her mind was made up was nearly impossible. They'd go whetherAlinawanted to or not, a favor already cemented in their long-running tab of back and forth of IOU gestures.

"And you look hot in that skirt. Wear it." The redhead said, leaning back into the couch, a lot less distressed than the moments prior. A woman who already knew she'd won.

Alina rolled her eyes, turning back to the mirror to appraise her appearance for herself. The skirtdidlook good on her, she had to admit. Even though it was shorter than normal. What was the harm in going out tonight, if they'd plan to go out all the time once school started? It was, after all, just one night.

_________

"We could always just go home." All of her bravery had disappeared as she stared at the highrise in front of them.

Genyalooked at her with a disapproving glare. Her overly large purse already held two bottles of vodka and her heels didn't seem like they would last the night.

"We're not going home," she said, adjusting the strap of her bag. "In fact, we're going into the lobby of this very nice building, taking the elevator up toZo's apartment, and thank her for invitingbothof us."

"But –"

"No buts! It's a party. We're going to have fun. Possibly get sh*t-faced."

Alinasighed, staring at the sleek surface of the apartment building. She takes in the way the sun reflects off the windows as it sinks, casting the entire building in a soft, almost iridescent glow. It wasn't a haunted house or a medieval castle. It was just a building with a hundred and twenty floors and an all-glass facade. So why did she feel so nervous?

_________

The elevator was quiet. She shifted from foot to foot, wondering if when they got to the top she'd be faced with the same ridicule as freshman year, only this time worse.

_________

(This is a perfect opportunity to explainAlina's relationship withZoya Nazalynsky.She first met the dark-haired girl on her first day of freshman year, in her Advanced World History class.Zoyahad been sitting in the back corner of the classroom, equally as early asAlina, yet unequally as interested as preparing for the class ahead.

As much asAlinahad hoped that the girl didn't notice her –a fear of being new and a scholarship holding her captive in a way that she'd only recently begun to get over – she did. Especially whenAleksanderhad caused the cheeks on her face to turn a splotchy pink with his attack on her notebook. There was no relief whenAlinacould feel her staring at the back of her head. The girl behind her was sizing her up, measuring herself against her like a snake preparing for its meal. Searching for ways to swallow her whole.

Which she did, later. When the bell rang and the class had emptied,Alinaonly felt better because of the kind redhead who'd sat next to her and complimented her stickers, telling her to ignore their professor because he was just trying to psyche her out. The relief became short-lived whenZoyapassed her desk on the way out of the classroom, making a show of squeezing byAlina's desk. She'd slapped her hand on top of the yet-to-be-put-away textbook,Alinahaving utilized the inside flap to write the week's reading.

"Oh, sorry!"Zoyasaid, sickly saccharine sweet as she could be, before leaning in. Her voice was barely above a whisper so thatProfessor Morozovwouldn't hear. "I didn't realize they let chubby kids in here. Guess we'll have to widen the aisles."Humiliation had swum up again, forcingAlinato avert her eyes, away from the bully's face. There was no crueler Saint than the one that placedAlinainZoya Nazalynsky's path.)

_________

The same feeling of a crushing weight in her chest came to her now, staring at the expanse of stainless steel the higher they climbed. There wouldn't be a quick escape if this were all another plan to humiliate her. She'd have to turn around and pray that the elevator didn't already go to another floor. All while she waited for those doors to open again while people laughed and jeered at her. All because –

Ding.

The doors opened to reveal the first floor of the two-story penthouse. Music instantly flooded their ears as party-goers ground against each other in the living room – the blaring beats swirling in their ears as they moved their hips in the rhythmic simulation of overt acts. She bit her lip as they stepped into the throng,Genyaleading her by hand as they traversed past the bulk of bodies in their way.

With the expertise of someone who'd been here often, her friend led her into the kitchen. Hundreds of red Solo cups lined the edge of the huge marble island, bottles of various liquors in varying states of depletion filling the rest of the space like a miniature city. It was easy to admire the work that went into the arrangement. The bottles on stands and the cups were a key wall – saviors of the inevitable breakage of glass that was soon to follow the rowdy kids in the next room.

She barely notices the drinkGenyaplaces in her hand, sipping on whatever concoction she made to mask the burning torch of alcohol. It was sweet, different fruity flavors swirling on her tongue whileGenyatexted away, nails clicking hastily on her screen.

She was being dragged again, her anxiety less present now that she had alcohol in her system and the immediate fear of humiliation had abated. They went up the stairs –a fancy floating feature with coiled metal braids that appeared to hold the whole thing to the ceiling. Futuristic and terrifying all the same. She was barely able to recognize she was on the stairs before she was off them, a distant thought as her friend tugged her through the crowded landing into a closed room.

_________

It's like those scenes in movies.

Where the main character walks into a room and everything just freezes. The noise gets drowned out. There's a ringing in her ears and her eyes see red because she'd been doingso wellat avoiding him.

From the look onGenya's face, he wasn't supposed to be here. He's not supposed to be anywherenearher. But apparently, that memo was missed. The second they crossed into the large den, the woman of the hour was front and center, turning to greet them with a large smile.

"Oh my god!"Zoyasquealed with faux joy. She was on them in an instant, crossing the room with the speed of a track star.Alinastood frozen as she pulled them close as if the three had been best friends for the past three years, and not like her invitation was a courtesy extended because her mother sat on the same charity board asGenya's mother.

"I'm so glad you made it," she exclaimed, ignorant of their proximity in favor of speaking over the deafening music in the room. "We were just about to get this party started!" The two girls exchanged a glance, nerves finally settling in for the both of them.

Just what had they gotten themselves into?

#darklina

hibewriter

Jun 2

je te vuex

Masterlist Read it on AO3 Chapters: 1 2 3 Discontinued

This fic was discontinued because it was meant to be a gift for a friend who is no longer a friend because they are a zionist.

Shadow &. Bone | Darklina | 12.9K (total) | M

Tags:Underage | Underage Drinking | Masturbation | BF's Brother Trope

Chapter 1

There was something about summer.

Something about the way the halls ofSaint Ilya'sfaded to the open streets of the city. Crowded halls lined with lockers and classrooms were replaced by shops and bustling cars whizzing past crowded sidewalks. She was surrounded by strange faces, but none were looking at her. They were looking at the steps ahead of them, or peering at the brick-lined shops. The strangers are deep in conversation with themselves, urgent in a way all conversations in the summer are. The windows of the shops reflect a distorted version of each and every face. They do nothing to quell her anonymity. Each face was a blob. Or an amalgamation of hues and textures defined by sweat or sunglasses in the heat of the day.

No one cares about the youngStarkovgirl traversing the streets.

She moves through patterns. The same path she'd been following for years. Leaving the stoop of her mother's converted brownstone to the edge of the city was a twenty-minute walk, twenty-five on days like today, where the sidewalks are so packed it might've been more feasible to rent a bike. There's an instantaneous shift once she reaches the edge of the city. Wall-to-wall apartments turn into townhomes at the edge of suburbia, small lawns with decorated mailboxes, and at least one car that parks on the side of the road.

The townhomes fade to single-family houses. Larger in style, with perfectly manicured lawns. She knows to take a left at Staghead Road. Pass the community pool with an actual lifeguard who's paid day in and out. Then another right onto Lanstov Way. The brick facades go from the worn-down brick of the eighties to the new build composites innovated from the city across the Fold. Each facade was doused with a faded limewash that made them look more expensive than they were. There was another left onto Lakeshore Drive.

Alina Starkovwas heading tothe Morozov Estate. It was the largest house in the neighborhood, by far. It made sense, for the home built by the oldest family inthe city. They were the developers of a thousand buildings and most of the homes inthe city. TheOs Altaunofficial landlord. It was one of the few houses that overlooked bothThe Foldandthe city. To the north, the direction she came from, was the towering skyscrapers of theOs Altaskyline. To the south, the man-made lake with imported wildlife,The Fold.

The Foldlooked deeper and longer than it was. Dark waters that portrayed a depth of unknown certainty, fish with dark, iridescent scales, and other wildlife that grew larger than anywhere else in the area. It stretched from the very cliffside ofthe Morozov Estateto the edge of the neighboring city of Ketterdam, but so rarely were boats permitted to sail on it and fish captured in the nets that did attempt the trek.

As if she were waiting by the door, the large matte-black doors ofthe Morozov Estateopened with a flourish as the princess of the estate swung it on its hinges.

Genya Safinwas the pride ofthe Morozov house. Not that its matriarch would admit it.Genyawas the least like the rest of the family. Born of a lowly trader and the Estate's illustrious owner, the young Safin girl shined where the rest of the family was dark. She did not take after her mother's dark hair and fathomless eyes. Instead, the girl had a healthy spattering of freckles over the fairest skin inOs Alta. Hazel-green eyes peered from impossibly long eyelashes while auburn hair fell in ringlets over her shoulders. Effortlessly effervescent and, magically,Alina's best friend.

"Hello to you, too,"Alinasaid. It didn't really matter that the pair had seen each other the day before. Or the day before that. The eight hours and twenty minutes apart was more than enough time to miss someone, if you care enough.

"I hope you brought your suit because we need a pool day,"Genyastated, lettingAlinago from her embrace. The redhead turned sharply, leavingAlinato close the door as she began to walk down the corridor.

It was a routineAlinaknew well. Close the door, toe off the shoes, and pad along the hallway to findGenyain the kitchen. There would be some sort of snack, chips, or something, thatAlinawould attempt to deny. But the thing aboutGenyais that if she offers you something, you take it.Genya, who could easily be mistaken as a runway or Vogue cover model without trying, never worried about food. ButAlinadid.

Still, she took the bag of chips.

She hadn't brought a suit. Instead, she found herself in her underwear, a three-year-old set from Victoria's Secret she'd brought with her mother's credit card. At the time it was much too big, giving her the appearance of a child playing in adult clothing. But now the set fits snugly, almost too snug. The elastic dug into her ribs and hips. It was too small now, but some of her bravery from her youth had mellowed into hiding behind clothes too big and underwear that didn't quite fit.

It's easy to pretend not to be upset whenGenyachanges, the bikini small in waysAlinawouldn't dare to wear. The bikini lay flat on the smaller girl's subtle curves, her toned stomach on full display without a care in the world. IfAlinachose to jump into the deep end, surfacing only when the redhead had joined her in the pool? It was her prerogative.

____________________________________

"So I did want to ask you something."Genya's hair clung to her skull. In the water, the pool looking over the dark lake her ancestors built, she looked nearly mythical. Like a siren or a mermaid clinging to the surface.

Alinaraised her eyebrow, leaning against the lip of the pool, the urge to hide long dissipated with the movement of the sun. Those words always predicated some sort of adventure or call. No doubtAlinawould find herself agreeing. She gave a non-committal hum as she picked at non-existent lint on the padding of her bra as if her friend's words didn't cause her heart to quake.

"So mom's doing the annual boat tour of the fold later this summer,"Genyahedged, wading closer toAlina. "And you know how moody Fedya gets when he doesn't have someone to bounce off of."

Alinasighed.

Fedyor, otherwise known as one ofAleksander's friends.Genyaoften spoke of her brother and his friends. Mostly about how loud they were when she was in middle school (long beforeAlinamet her their freshman year). Sometimes she mentioned marriages the weddings she was invited to because "she was always there". Each timeGenyamentioned it there was a pregnant pause, as if she wanted to invite her but couldn't.

The few storiesAlinahad heard about Fedyor were always pleasant, if not a bit lackluster in substance. He wasAleks' friend – a long-time one, from what she could piece together. He was married. To some lawyer in the city with a stern disposition thatGenyathought hated her. But other than that the man was a mystery to her. She didn't even know what he looked like.

"Anyway, this is to ask,"Genyacontinued, interruptingAlina's thoughts. "Do you wanna come? To the trip? A free boat ride for a week. Catered food. The full nine?"

"I don't know if your mom would like my wardrobe," she said, averting her gaze to the shoreline rather than her friend's face.

"We can go shopping!"

Alinastared at her. On one hand, she knew the redhead wouldn't offer if she thought it'd have a negative effect on her. But on the other, it was a free mini-vacation with her friend. She probably wouldn't even see much of Fedyor andAleks. They were in their mid-to-late twenties, they wouldn't want to hang out with two seventeen-year-olds. Still, it was with a refined sigh that she agreed.

"Fine."

The squeal of glee that came from her friend could be heard around the entire city asGenyajumped ontoAlina's back, hugging the girl from behind.

"We're going to have so much fun!"

As if they didn't have fun every day this summer. Spa days, movie dates, shopping in the downtown Mystic Quarter for strange knickknacks they didn't understand. Or even on days like today, watching the sun as it arcs over the sky from their vantage point as the pool gently rocks against their skin. Nothing ever stops them, nothing ever separates them. So it didn't matter where they were. It was always going to beGenyaandAlina.

"We need to celebrate!"Genyaexclaims, peeling herself away fromAlina. To which there was nothing to do but sigh, turn away from the lake, and followGenyaout of the pool and towards the home behind them. Celebration tended to mean breaking into the matriarch of the home's liquor stache and making whatever co*cktail of the dayGenyawas into.

"Two f*cking adults in this house and neither do to get mixers," she mumbles as she rummages through the cabinets.Alinaknows better than to laugh, properly finding herself leaning against the doorframe ofBaghra's study. It would've been strange, standing nearly naked at the edge of the room, if she hadn't done it so many times before.

"What do you think about daiquiris?"

____________________________________

The thing about days atthe Morozov Estate, whereAlinaforesaw the rest of her summer (outside the boat trip) set to occur, was how fast the time seemed to pass there. The sun's journey through the sky feels like a stop motion, each glance upwards marking a new hour lost to time.

The drinks help. Instead of the usual fodder of endless comparison and worry,Alinafinds her head blessedly numb. A blanket of fuzz surrounds each thought. The typical cutting thoughts, the "Did I say this wrong"and the "Does she notice this"were dulled with apathy. The boisterous laughs slipped out of the duo's mouths as they gossiped about anyone and anything. Even still, as the sun begins to set,Alinafeels the warmth of the sun's rays. They stretch as far as they can, a near mirror ofThe Fold.

"Enjoying the view?"Aleksanderhad a way of finding the moments she had her guard down. His voice carries, a taunt in the wind. She stopped trying to decipher if his ire was aimed at her or his sister.

"Well I was,"Genyajeered back. All bite and no bark as she graced him with a smile. "Until you blocked it with your face,Sasha."

His footfalls left the softest crunch on the pool pavement as he approached them.Alinadid her best not to look. Feigning indifference to his presence was better than becoming just like the rest ofGenya's friends, fawning over high cheekbones and silky hair. Still, she couldn't hide the way she reached for her towel, laying itjust soon her legs that it covered the worn panties at her hips.

Another perk of summer, she thought.

(Aleksandertaught Advanced World History atSaint Ilya'sduring the school year. Each day he strode through the halls, eyes intent on his destination and not much else, a small briefcase in hand carrying assignments or a lunch. And each day the girls in the building followed him with their eyes, giggles pausing and then rising in crescendo as he passed them on his way.)

Aleksanderwas notProfessor Morozovin the days between June tenth and August twentieth. He wasSasha. AndSasha, whose gait turned from mission-oriented to a vision of the relaxed child he must've been, had no need for a self-imposed uniform and unwavering dedication to a military-esque disposition. Instead, as he paused next toAlina's chair, he was the picture of tranquility. The shirt he wore, black and soft to the touch, was loose-fitting. Though it didn't very much matter, considering his sleeves were cut off, along with most of the siding. With his arms and side out she could see the faint red growing on his skin, a lack of sunscreen she itched to chide him over.

(How could you expect to lead our children when you can't even take care of yourself?She'd ask, haughtily with an ill-gained superiority that only she could feign. Her skin never burned, and she always had "such a glowing tan" even in winter. Though it's her mother, with her dark skin that contrasted with a pale father she's only seen in pictures Still, that was not her relationship withAleksander Morozov.)

"Oh,Linka," he said, startled by her presence as if he hadn't seen her. "I'm shocked to see you here."She rolled her eyes as she turned to look at him, the joke has gone stale the past two weeks she'd been walking intothe Morozov housewith little more than a purse and worn-down chucks. But still, he only grinned. And with ease she found herself fighting the all-too-familiar hammering of her heart within her chest.

"Oh, maybe you just haven't been paying attentionAleks," she replied. His eyes narrowed at the use of his less affectionate nickname. It helped, putting that stark line between howGenyaresponded to him and how she did. Still, he justlookedat her.

(Now would be a good time to mention howAlina Starkovviewed the eldest Morozov heir. She metAleksanderjust minutes before she'd met his sister, sitting front row in her Advanced World History class. She remembered the second he walked in, exactly ten minutes before the bell rang, the same intense focus he displayed when he walked the halls now zeroed in on the students who had already arrived.At the time, it was just her and another girl a year older who was more interested in the back corner seat and twiddling with her phone. But there was something about the way he strolled in. He was far too put together for the environment ofSaint Ilya's. Even from her chair, she could tell he stood tall, far too tall for a man speaking to the girl in front of him. A novice at fourteen,Alinawas ill-prepared for the piercing quality of his stare, or the way his nod in her direction seemed to finalize a thought that he had about her. It was the first time she'd felt her heart skip a beat, a throb that seemed to run through and warm her entire body.Then he glanced down at her notebook. She always remembers vividly his words. The stare he levied at her yellow composition, handcrafted the weekend before with her mother. Stickers of clouds, sunflowers, and various animals adorned its cover. And he nearly sneered, eyes narrowing in a way that suggested his displeasure as he approached her desk.

"You should use something a bit more sturdy, Miss..."

"Starkov." She swallowed and her mouth suddenly felt like cotton.

"Miss Starkov. The stickers are cute, but we are preparing for your future here."With a flourish, he turned around and began writing introductory statements to the course. But she could not focus. Instead, she felt herself flush, hurriedly opening the notebook to a blank page but leaving her pen stationary beside her hand. She didn't take a single note. He may have been nice to look at, butAleksander Morozovwas an asshole.)

"Anyway,Sasha,"Genyainterrupts, pulling herself out of the pool. "The real attention grabber here is: what's for dinner?"

The scene changes like this.

Aleksandershrugs, about to offer a noncommital hum to answer his sister, when the screeching of tires on asphalt permeates the air. Heads turn in sync, listening for the tell-tale signs of the door slamming and heels clacking. It doesn't take long. The world goes silent, letting the only sound come from the whims ofthe Morozov Estate's matriarch. Her appearance is quick. She emerges from the dark double oak doors with little fanfare.

Few people ever described theOs Altasuperintendent as anything but regal,Alinaincluded. The woman wore a pinstripe suit, perfectly pressed even as the sun waned over the horizon. She moved in a way that commanded attention, and she knew it. Even fromAlina's partially hidden position, it felt like the Morozov matriarch was looking straight at her. Even though she spoke first to her children.

"Aleksandermake yourself useful and bring dinner inside." Her voice barely rose above a whisper, yet it was as if even the wind itself feared disappointing her, dragging her words into clear earshot. "Genya– oh hello,Alina– get dressed and come inside."

Baghra Morozovawas home, and the time for rest was over.

____________________________________

Having dinner atthe Morozov Estatewhen no formal event is planned can be akin to going to dinner with one's boss on a Thursday evening. Or, at least, that is whatAlinaassumed the feeling was like. There was an air to sitting with the superintendent of your district. A pressure presumably not felt by her children.

(There was always a concern, a doubt that crept into the back of her head. Perhaps she shouldn't have worn her tatteredKill Billt-shirt, despite Genya's constant assurances and shrugs as she pulled the cotton over her head. Perhaps she should've sprung for that pair of jeans the other day at the mall. The ones where there wasn't growing thinness on her thighs and she didn't have to fret about them tearing at dinner. Without these worries, she could perhaps pay attention to the conversation at hand, and maybe be prepared whenBaghraasked her things.)

"– And have you decided what schools you'll be applying to,Alina?"Baghraasked abruptly. Whatever conversation she was having beforehand was clearly over to the woman, who now focused her attention on the young girl in front of her.

(Note, dear reader, thatBaghra Morozovahas asked this question every dinnerAlinahas attended atthe Morozov housesince she first graced their table a little under three years ago.)

Alinablinks, the memories of scrolling through countless websites filling her head.Genyaalready had a predetermined destiny.Ravka Universitywas synonymous with Morozov. Every Morozov since Ilya had attended the prestigious university, and the same would be expected ofGenya. ButStarkovs, least of all those raised by a disinherited mother and an immigrant father, carried no such weight.

Still,Alinacould feel the weight of their eyes.Baghra, with feigned interest in knowing what she already know, was ready to catch her in a mistake. looked with something like trepidation, worried thatAlinawould forget the line she'd been practicing for years. OnlyAlekslooked at her with anything close to interest. She was used to all of them.

"I planned on applying atRavUand UR ofOs Alta," she says. It's been her line for years. Truth be told, she wasn't sure she could afford either school if she were expected to live on campus. Or off, for that matter. Each time she truly gave thought to the prospect she felt a bile rise in her throat. But there was a script. An unspoken rule of silence. Respectful nods of understanding before someone (normally ) redirected the conversation away from her. And she wouldn't have to think about it anymore.

"What made you choose those two schools?"

Aleksander Morozovnever did take to scripts.

Genyalooked at her brother with little less than absolute rage, staring at him from her seat next toAlinaas if she could and would stab him if her mother weren't sitting five feet away from them. But he wasn't looking at her. His eyes were solely focused onAlina. As if she were stillhisstudent, selected to speak in front of the class.All eyes onAlina, and keep quiet.

"Well," she started to speak, glancing towardGenyabefore her eyes instantly turned to him again. "RavUhas one of the best archeology and art history programs in the country. Did you know that nearly seventy percent of all program graduates get a job placement in the field? The next highest average in the state is forty-five percent. And I did want to stay in-state."

"And what about UR ofOs Alta? You seem more excited aboutRavU." He asked, leaning forward. She didn't glance at his arms, nor the stretch of their muscle as he moved. Instead, she maintained eye contact as hestared. Nothing indicated what his game was, his face was a picture-perfect collection of interest and genuine intrigue.

"I'm sure that's obvious,Aleks," Genya cut in, knife in hand as she began to cut at a steak perhaps too overdone. "They're both great schools, andAlinais a great student. Let's not pretend you care."

"Genya!"Baghraexclaimed. If no one knew better they'd say she was shocked by the outburst. "That's highly inappropriate and rude! Now apologize for interrupting this instant."

"No, no, it's alright,"Aleksandersaid, lacing his fingers together over her plate. "I suppose it's only fair. It's a question we've askedLinkaa lot, yet I don't believe any of us have bothered to ask why. It's highly selfish of us."

He leaned forward, once again keeping his heavy gaze on her. "Trust me,Linka, I do care."

Just as she opens her mouth, stands. The scrape of the chair against the hardwood is abrasive, though not as much as the redhead's words.

"Well, you can ask her on the boat next month," she said. Then she turns, eyes flitting between the door andAlina.Aleksanderraises his eyebrows, seemingly stuck between looking at the sister who was talking and the girl he was trying to converse with.

"Besides,"Genyacontinued. There was an urgent look in her eye as she spoke, finally looking back atAlina. "We don't want to missAlina's curfew."

A beat passes before the message registers.

"Oh!"Alinaexclaims, also rising from her chair. " I completely forgot."

She turns to the two sitting members of the dinner, their eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "Thank you for dinner,Mrs. Morozova. It was lovely but my mom is coming home from Ketterdam tonight and she wanted to do a girls' night."

It was a white lie, and certainly not the first told at this very table. A successful one by the wayBaghraseemed to relax. She refused to look atAleksander, knowing her face would betray her falsehood.

"Oh, how lovely,"Baghrasaid, equally a dismissal and an acceptance of fact. "Return within the hour,Genya. Drive safe."

And with that the two scrambled, rushing out the door and away from the burning gaze ofAleksander Morozov.

____________________________________

The ride was short, with no more than ten minutes of giggling and laughing at the awkwardness of dinner before the car pulled to the front of the brownstone. She sighed, looking up at the quiet facade. She wondered if there was anyone inside to notice that she'd been absent most of the day.Genyaalso looked up at the building, but her gaze was less pensive as she did.

"Is your mom even home?"

She shook her head, hand on the door ready to leave. She's known her friend long enough to know what she was going to suggest.

"Do you want me to stay with you? I mean I could call my mom and —”

"It's fine,"Alinasaid, pulling the handle. "I'm pretty tired anyway.”

The look on her friend's face was full of skepticism and for a secondAlinathought ofAleksander. She swallowed, pushing back down the warmth and tightness that threatened to surface.

"I'll see you tomorrow, right?" She asked though she knew the answer before the redhead even began to nod.

"Of course -" she was out the door beforeGenyacould finish.

The house was dark when she opened the door. She knew it would be. She could hear the faint hum of the television from the dew towards the back. For a second she debated delving further down the hall to her stepfather. She could say goodnight, or even hello. Or she could drop her key in the entryway bowl, toe her shoes off, and pad up the wooden stairs, avoiding the fifth from the top to avoid the creak.

Her room hadn't been redecorated since she was nine. Soft pastel pink, almost white, on each wall, matching light pink furniture with embedded etchings from an old manufacturer that probably no longer existed. Not to mention her scratches and tear from the years of play and rearranging that she probably shouldn't have done alone.

She liked it best like this, dim as she entered the room, the only source of light the streetlamp outside her window and the string fairy lights above her bed. Her plush comforter seemed to glow, something that drew her into her oasis almost hypnotically.

Linka, show me. His voice rang in her ears, heavy and deep as she began to slip out of the day's wear. It was easier now, not forcing herself to remain calm as he spoke, even if it was only in her mind.The only way she'd ever have him,her mind thought. It was a simple betrayal, another in a long list that her mind and body had bestowed upon her.

I want to see you, she could swear she heard. Nestled under her covers, stark as the day she was born.Then come see me,she thought in response. It's easy to slip into her mind, her pillow soft on her back. In her mind he was there, wearing that stupid vest and button-up. A picture of his normally stoic professor attitude.

But he never looked ridiculous in her mind's eye. The sleeves of his shirt were rolled up to reveal forearms flexed as he stood at the edge of her bed. Arms folded as she imagined his watching.

Touch yourself. And he'd be anguished, throat tight as she looked back at him.Show me how to make you feel good.

It's automatic. Her fingers trail down from her neck to her breast, pinching her nipple as she felt the warmth in her belly begin to expand. Each twist, pinch, and pull could be rougher, tighter if it were him. His fingers, calloused from what only saints knew, would feel like heaven against her skin.

She imagines him growing strained. Staring as she preps herself yet unable, or unwilling, to touch her. She wonders if he'd break before her, unable to resist as she only focused on her breast. Would he huff? Take her by the ankles and drag her to the edge of the bed before spreading her legs wide to reveal her puss* to his waiting gaze?

Would he groan, heavy and hot as he realized just how wet she was for him?

The first journey to her cl*t is always the most shocking. She knows what's coming. She knows when she parts her legs, lets her left-hand trace over the plump surface of her stomach, what she'll feel. Still, the first brush of the slight prickling of the hair on her mound, or the grazing of her nail as it immediately finds that bundle of nerves, sets her body alight.

And all the while she imagines his eyes on her. Would they disappear in the dark, matching the shadows of her room? Or would those fathomless holes turn ablaze, wrecked in desire as she parts her folds with a single finger?

She gasps when she finds the wetness. Nearly a steady drip at this point. Slick, tacky almost as her c*nt weeps for a filling she doubts her fingers can satisfy. Still, she tries, carefully circling her entrance as she imagines him. Staring at her like he wants to eat her.

Turn over,he'd say. Let her get face down before climbing on the bed. Even in her mind, he's filled with shame. Always ashamed for taking what she so readily gives him. He hovers above her when her first finger slips inside. She's always sowetwhen he does. She imagines what it'd be like, to hear him panting in her ear. To hear him as he took himself in hand while hovering above her. He won't touch her, but he'll show her exactly how she affects him.

It's never enough.

Her fingers aren't as wide. She's had their palms pressed against each other before. She knows if he were here – if he pushed his fingers inside her – she'd need at least two of her fingers to match just one of his. So she does, perhaps too fast as she thrusts the two into herself, feeling the way she tries to fill but can't. It's hollow, the soft grinding she does against her palm.

Still, it builds. The growing pressure as she feels almost feverish, her entire body hot even as her ceiling fans whirls at dizzying speeds. She clasps her free hand over her mouth, stifling the moan that threatens to leak out. The silence of the house is a threat. The absence of muffled voices threatens to upend her entire night.

Yet she continues her one-sided torture. Slowly, not too hard, she retracts her fingers and pushes them back in just to feel the way she clenches around them. She imagines how he'd take her slow, just as methodical as he did everything. Rapt attention that he gave only to her as he sunk inside her, and once he was finally in —

Her fingers sped up, so close to thatspotthat would make her see stars. She has only been able to reach it once, but she has a feeling he'd be persistent. She imagines the facade breaking, the illusion of being in control falling away as he feels her heat, tight and wet, for the first time. The weight of his chest on her back, the way he'd groan in her ear. All of it for her as he would take his pleasure from her willing body.

It's almost pathetic, the whine she cries into the palm of her hand as she chases her release. He'd be mean, she thinks. He'd mock her sounds of desperation, sail into her harder until —

Even her hand couldn't fully cover the moans that ripped from her. She closed her eyes tight. She can practically feel him — covering her, holding her, filling her. She's so close, each breath she takes catching in her throat and then...

She fractures. His name falls from her lips uncontrolled. Her body seizes, c*nt clamping down on her fingers. It's something but not enough as she rides her high. Her hands were frozen in place until she can find the will to pull them away. Only once her heart slows to a resting rate can she even think to roll on her side.

The street outside her window is quiet, and the street lamp begins to flicker. Her eyes begin to droop, and the energy in her is finally sated for the time being.

#darklina

hibewriter

Jun 1

Belonephobia

Masterlist Read it on AO3 Chapter 1

Spiderman: Across the Spiderverse | Migwen | 6.7K | E

Tags:Non-Con | Kidnapping | Police Butality | P in V Sex | Non-consensual drugging | Breeding kink

Chapter 2

She wakes as she’s hauled, body limp, over his shoulders.

It’s groggy, the haze around the corners of her vision as she’s carried. There’s no will to fight, just to let his shoulder radiate its warmth into her skin. He’s taking her somewhere, out of the room that he’d imprisoned her in for the past two days cattle raised for slaughter. She can barely muster up the energy to mutter something incoherent. She thinks she asks where he’s taking her, but his ensuing silence doesn’t indicate if he hears her either way. His breath barely quickens as he drags her up the steps.

Suddenly the world is too bright. Dust-caked glass lets in a stream of light from the afternoon sun, and she can do nothing but squint at the new room he carries her through. Chairs stacked on rickety wooden tabletops, stools on a bar that matches the hardwood floor. Vaguely, she recognizes the unlit sign at the front, an odd shape that stood out from the standard open signs. A spider in flight, blues, and reds fighting in a tight space.

The bar from the highway.

She doesn't dwell on the information long, as Miguel hauls her up another flight of stairs, another door in the way of her freedom. She doesn't get a chance to see as much in this space before he's dropping her in another room. Tiled, bright, and clean.

"Toilet," he says, ever a man of few words. "Then shower."

She balks, blinking up at him for a moment before realizing that the handcuffs around her wrists were just wide enough for movement. Still, she is slow to move, refusing eye contact with her stranger as she shuffles to stand.

"I can use the bathroom by myself," she tries. Her jaw hurts. As if she'd put weight on her tongue and forced her mouth to carry it all night. Miguel smiles at her, all teeth with no sincerity as he shakes his head.

"Maybe when you've earned it. Now go."

The last time she'd gone to the bathroom in front of another person was on a class hiking trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway in her senior year of high school. It was Miles who had kept a lookout with his back to her, refusing to make eye contact or talk about the awkward exchange once they rejoined the group.

But Miguel O’Hara is not Miles Morales.

He doesn't take his eyes off her as she lowers the dirty leggings from her legs. His eyes are daggers, cutting into the skin of her thighs as she sits on the toilet. It's a challenge as he steps in front of her just to access the tub on her side. The water starts like a car that has been idle too long, sputtering nonsense sprays until a steady stream actually emerges from the detachable head.

"I'll take that."

It's an attack, the abrasive tone of his voice in contrast to his actions. Still, it's more of a shock when he pulls the blade, hacking at the thin cotton. The tattered remains of her shirt fall on top of the dirty leggings in a heap. In a haze, she realizes he has also taken her shoes, though truth be told she can't remember the last time she had them.

The water is nearly scalding, turning pale skin pink when it hits tender flesh. Yet, it's the burn that reminds her to breathe. It's the steam that reminds her she can feel. The haze disappears, replaced by clarity and the truth of her situation. He wanted to keep her. He wanted toruinher. Still, she could only think about the fact that hewantedto. Even if the want has nothing to do with her.

"You're really going to keep me?" Her voice is barely a whisper, hardly audible above the jet stream of water. The Captain would tsk, disapproval heavy on his tongue at her brazen longing. But the Captain isn't here. It's just her, her captor, and his unwavering glare as he peels his t-shirt from straining muscles.

Yet, Miguel merely hums in response as he pulls out a wash rag.

It's calming, how he suds the cloth with soap and presses it to her skin. He scrubs softly, wiping away the dirt and grime of the past two days with careful precision. Each swipe was a promise, the guarantee that there was now a new normal for her. She jerks as he moves the cloth southward. It doesn't cause her to clench as she feels his fingers brush southward against her slit. Itdoesn't. But he doesn’t stop either.

"Mi–Miguel," she whimpers, altogether unagitated. A plea in the form of his name, one he had yet to actually utter to her. But she remembers now with time, the silence of the four walls and her thoughts are all that keep her company.

He stills, if only for a second. "Say it again."

"W-What?"

"My name," he grunts, resuming his task with renewed vigor. "My wife will learn to scream my name."

Even in the warm temperature of the shower, her blood runs cold. His fingers move, more confident between the washcloth and her skin as he finds each work and cranny of her body. Each passing left a trail of gooseflesh in its wake.

"Don't grow shy on me now,mija."

He does nothing but chide. Nothing but taunt as his hands grow rough. No longer soft and soothing swipes but tainted caresses of skin. Part of her, the Gwen she was raised to be, loathes the whimpers that escape her lips. She loathes the way she can no longer blame her heated skin on the water, but rather the heated press of his thumb against her cl*t. But the other part of her, the part that found out just howdocileshe could be, leans into his touch.

"Miguel," she moans, as loud as she can allow herself. It still barely rises above the tone of the water but he hears her nonetheless. Which gives her all the more reason to whine when he takes his hands away from her.

She flushes as he chuckles. Then she's getting sprayed again. The water hits her skin like fire, following the paths his hands took. She jumps when he aims the head at her c*nt, the pulsing jet stream attacking her cl*t before she can think to shield herself. His hand flies out, pushing her into place as he holds the showerhead to her.

"Come on,linda, show me how my wife falls apart."

It's embarrassing how quickly she follows his command. Her hands scramble, nails digging into his forearms until it is the only thing holding her up. Her body clenches in disastrous prose as he holds her there, forcing her to feel the continued pressure of the jet.

"Nowyou're clean enough for me."

His words feel like violence. They feel like a promise.

Finally,finally,something within her snaps. Her legs, jelly-like as they are, bolt over the lip of the tub. She scrambles, hands making contact with the tile floor before she's pushing up, a dead sprint toward the door. But Miguel isn't malnourished. Miguel hasn't been sedentary the last two (or was it three?) days beholden to the whims of a psychopath. In an instant his arm is wrapped around her, pulling her back just to slam her into the frame of the door she was running to.

"Been waiting for you to show up,mija," he hissed, the maw of his hand gripping her jaw. It’s just too rough, his fingers digging into the bone as he tilts her head to look at him. “Been wondering when you’d be stupid enough to defy me.”

“f*ck you,” she spits, hands reaching to smack, but all she can do is land three insufficient fingers against his cheek. It should be terrifying, the grin that splits on his face as he watches her struggle against him. He only needs to use one arm, keeping her body as close to the door frame as possible.

Suddenly she's being spun, her head swimming to catch up with the movement. But her brain is too slow, or his hands are too quick. Her hands are raised, hooked into a clamp on the wall, too high to be used for anything other than this.

The warmth of his skin leaves her, the steam from the shower not enough to keep her warm as he mills about behind her. She strains, toes pointed to keep contact with the floor, the tile cool as her head falls forward.

"I was going to be nice," his voice calls. The water stops — soft droplets fall onto the porcelain flooring of the tub. "Was going to get you used to the idea of sleeping next to me. Dining with me. Make you a proper wife."

She tenses as his voice grows closer, just out of her periphery. She barely has the time to register the rustling of his movements before the sting hits her neck. The needle is only there for a second, just long enough to force the toxin into her veins.

It's like being right back in the car. All of her limbs feel like they suddenly were made of cotton. Light and starchy at the same time. And she waits for the same rush of lightheadedness, the fluffy cloud to make her blissfully unaware and blacked out. But instead, the light feels brighter. The flecks of white in the grimy tiles feel whiter. Yet worse of all is Miguel, whose touch burns hotter.

"Do you like my adjustments to your dose?" His voice was white hot on her neck, a burning knife as he tugs her hips away from the wall. Her legs spread, exposing all of herself to him. All that he’s only had glimpses of so far.

She hears the hitch in his breath. She knows he staring at her puffed-up c*nt lips even before his hands spread her cheeks apart. Still, she can’t help the whimper that escapes her mouth when his finger swipes along the seam of her, just barely grazing her cl*t.

“I was never one for guns and violence, growing up,” he whispers, wholly distracted from her responses to his touch. Slowly, she’s able to close her eyes. A piss poor attempt to ground herself, solidify her body against the rising floating feeling within her. Yet, his finger begins to circle the whole he’d been so cheerfully teasing these last few days. “Those who got a chance to see it – Jess, Paula – they didn’t very much appreciate my lab. Didn’t see the humane way our tactics were used against our enemies.”

She draws a labored breath, flinching internally as her body yields to his exploration. There’s a swish, a squelch as his fingers find their way inside. It’s embarrassing, the way her body gives to him. Each thrust of his finger becomes a battle of will in her throat, a silent prayer to not give him the satisfaction he’s already taken.

There’s a pressure, coiling tight within her belly as he slips another finger inside. It’s an abject horror she feels herself giving in, only grateful for the frozen state of her limbs. Unable to respond to each burning touch regardless of how her body sings for it. The pressure is just about to snap, just about to unfurl before he removes all touch from her. The lip she didn’t realize she’d been biting is released, only to cry out from his cruelty – or his salvation. Removing her org*sm and shame away from her.

“Don’t worry,mija, I’ll let you come.” She hates how her c*nt clenches,empty, at the husk in his voice. Hates the small cornel of pride that wells in her chest at the prospect of him being affected just as much as she.

There’s no dignity in the rustle of his pants or the soft woosh as they hit the floor. She thinks she knows what’s coming –awkward hookups and one-night stands from the past are a saving grace in that regard. She’sfeltthe initial stretch of sex before. Yet, nothing prepares her for the first push of his co*ck into her.

"Wa–wait,Miguel," she cries. But he doesn't stop. The stretchstings, something that she can't imagine his two fingers ever could have adequately prepared her. Still, his hands grip her hips, holding her in place as if she could have run from it in the first place.

"Shhhh,mija, don't fret," he huffs as he leans forward. Chest to back, caging her against the wall she hung from. "I will make it fit."

There is no mercy in the reprieve as he slowly fills her. There's no saving grace as he carves a space for himself in what feels like her guts. Each inch is a slap in her face for daring to try and get away from him in the first place. There's no relief when his hips meet hers, no comfort from the Iitany of what she assumes are curses flying from his mouth.

Good, she thinks. Let him feel a fraction of what she feels.

Stuffed. Overly full in waysboysnever could have prepared her for. Then he's moving, hips withdrawing slowly before they snap forward. All the relief from his retreat is instantly replaced with instant pressure, the coil in her tightening as he hits a spot no one had found before.

This time she can't even think to hold the shriek that escapes her lips. Her fingers curl into fists against the chain holding her up, knuckles grazing the cool tile in front of her. It was a stark contrast to Miguel's heat, the feral way his fingers flexed, digging in to bruise her delicate flesh.

"That's right,chiquita," he grunts. "Scream for me."

Her vision blurs, the pressure mounting higher as she can do nothing but float. Her head is cotton-stuffed static, the entire world reduced tothis. The sight of aging grout lines, the smell of the sweat falling from their bodies – thesoundof his flesh connecting with hers over and over like a symphony of her humiliation laid bare for the world to hear. Yet none of it compares to the feeling of being sofull.

He's taken me, she thinks. The words hardly register but still, she feels the shift within her. Her own sickeningly sweet moans begin to fill the air. Not a breath between each sound he pushes out of her mouth, resistance gone, she shatters.

PleasepleasepleaseMiguelplease.

"Please what,cariño?" How could he be socalmin a time like this? "Please let you come? Please give you a baby? I'm close, so you better decide."

It rattles in her brain. Each thrust a pause in her thoughts.Baby. She can't have a baby. But still, the only words she can get out are "Baby! Baby baby baby!" She doesn't know if it's pleasure or pain that she feels when his hips stutter and stall against her. The warmth floods her for just a second before his hand is moving, fingers finding her cl*t with expert precision.

"Come for me,mija,"he grunts. His voice is heady in her ear, edging her on as she clenches around his softening length. "Come like a good little wife so our baby can take."

God, it shouldn't push her over the edge. It shouldn't, but it does. The gush of her own come isn't enough to push out his, rather she can feel the way her c*nt sucks in his spend with enthusiasm. As if shewantsthis. She's not sure if she doesn't.

She winces when he pulls away. Feels their combined fluids begin to leak out of her before his fingers gently come to push it back in. Another stake in his claim, another act of ownership over her body. It feels different somehow, the almost tender way he stands her straight. She hisses when he pulls her arms down from their hook, the movement too fast for her strained muscles. Still, she manages to turn in his arms,

She looks up at him. Her neck cranes at an awkward angle but she ignores the crick that's forming for her wide-eyed stare. His hair is a mess, sticking out in odd angles that demand a brush or comb to wrangle it in. Yet, he almost looks soft, a wreckage of a person.

She had a million thoughts growing up. How to keep herself safe, and what to do when she was in danger. All paths the Captain places in front of her in increasing intervals the more time he spends in the streets as opposed to their junior one bedroom. All in contrast to the first time she ever would've needed it. She didn't do what was expected of her. She never has.

"You'd make me a slave."

His eyebrows raise. It's nice to catch him off guard, knowing that she has been trying to catch up to his thoughts these past few days. It's nice to feel like she has some semblance of power, even if it's only imaginary as he co*cks his head.

"I told you," he says. "I intend to make you a wife."

She backs into the wall, ignoring now he immediately steps to keep their distance the same. "What's the difference?”

"The difference,mija, is you have the chance to earn your place by my side. And later, when you're ready, we'll fix the rest that has been broken."

The Captain would expect her to resist. He'd want her to fight. She should fight this man who obviously only wanted revenge. This man is hell-bent on destroying her father's legacy. She should fight for decency and self-preservation. He'd expect her to fight to go back to being alone.

"Okay."

#migwen

hibewriter

Jun 1

Belonephobia

Masterlist Read it on AO3 Chapter 2

Spiderman: Across the Spiderverse | Migwen | 6.7K | E

Tags:Non-Con | Kidnapping | Police Butality | P in V Sex | Non-consensual drugging | Breeding kink

Chapter 1

"Sure you don't wanna stay the night, Gwen? I promise Margo doesn't mind."

Gwen took one look at Miles, all grown up on practically the other side of the world, and shook her head. She was only going to be at Stanford for two days, and she already wasted the first working up the courage to knock on the door to the off-campus apartment that Miles had gotten with Margo. She had to leave to even hope to get back in time for classes to resume at NYU. Spring Break was no excuse.

"Nah, I gotta start heading back. My hotel is only two hours away, and then I'm spending the night at Hobie's, so ya know…" She hated the way he looked at her, no longer how he used to. Instead, his eyes were full of concern and disbelief. He'd seen her worn hoodie and torn shoes. He had been at the funeral.

But he didn't push.

Just a hug. Another tight-lipped smile as she headed out the door. A wave when she turned back from her car.

Text me when you get to your hotel.

She breaks down thirty minutes away from the hostel she booked. A dead end for hikers, runaways, and various other riff-raff with twenty bucks and two feet. Her car pulls to a sputtering stop, slightly off the side of the road. She sees the smoke in the waning light of the surprisingly dusty road, rising from the hood of the rusted bucket she inherited from the Captain.

She knew she should've gotten it checked before making the cross-country trip. Probably could've afforded the repairs with the leftover cash from her dad's emergency fund. But that would've required thinking before she packed her few belongings into the car and took off.

She was kind of surprised she made it this far if she was honest.

She sighs, tugging her phone out of the cup holder she tossed it into.10%. Another sigh fights its way to the surface, giving her pause as she tries to figure out what to do. A tow truck would take too long, and her phone would never last. Her battery pack is dead, gone from her day of use building her resolve. The road looks…empty. The last building she passed was around forty minutes ago driving in the other direction.

She worries her lip, staring towards the vagueness of the road ahead. She could try to walk it. Get lost, maybe, and get eaten by wolves or coyotes or whatever they had in the California desert. Or she could stay in the car. Turn it off, lock the doors, and make a makeshift bed out of her duffle in the back seat. She could walk back to that bar in the morning. Call a tow truck and get the f*ck out of dodge by nightfall tomorrow if she's lucky.

She nods, mainly to herself as the plan solidifies in her brain. Rest. Regroup. Tackle the problem. She can do that.

Her head's barely on the stuffed duffle for more than ten minutes when she hears the soft rapping at her window. She bolts up, squinting against the light shining in her face from the unexpected guest's flashlight.

Never fully roll down your window to a stranger.Her father's voice rings in her head as she moves to roll the antiquated handle down. Just a crack so she can hear.

"Ma'am, you can't park here." The voice is deep honey spent, familiar only in its tone. The same tone she’s heard dozens of cops use all her life. She shakes her head, still squinting against the light. Has the sun really set so quickly? Maybe it’s been longer than ten minutes.

"M' sorry, officer," she mutters, sitting up fully."My car broke down and my phone died. You wouldn't happen to have one I could use, do you?"

It's silent for a beat, and she holds her breath, hoping he doesn’t ask for any papers. She hadn't quite shifted the plates to her name yet. Or fully renewed her license. But she can swear she hears the beep of his radio. Swears he mutters something about anO'Harainto the receiver.

"Where are you headed?" he asks, and she wants to ask him to turn the light down. Let her see properly so she doesn't feel so groggy.

"The Fillmore Hostel down the road."

Another beep, a mutter ofcivilian assistance.

"I'll take you there while my partner comes to collect your car."

She's never heard of such a procedure in her life. Alarm bells start to ring in her ears, telling her to shrink away from the figure on the other side of the door. She shakes her head, scooting down the seat. "I'd rather stay in my car, if you don't mind."

The sigh that comes out of him is more akin to a beast, full of disappointment andchiding. As if an unruly child had just demanded candy from him knowing damn well dinner was almost ready.

"It's not safe out here," he says, clearly on the edge of his patience. "I'm going to have to ask you to come with me."

Again, she shakes her head, inching away from the door again as he huffs.

"You just had to make this difficult, didn't you?"

The next moments happen in a flash. One second, she’s inching to the other side of the car. The next, an entire arm the size of both her legs is shoved through broken glass. A singular hand finds her ankle, ignoring her squirming and yelling as she tries to escape the stranger who found her. His fingers overlap circling her calf, finally finding purchase on her before heyanks.

She's tugged nearly halfway out of the vehicle. Her nails are ineffective against cloth seats as he pulls her out of the window, tight into his arms. And she shrieks, loud as she can against the futility of the night. It's all she can do before she feels a sharp prick in her neck. In the next second, the world goesblack.

__________

It's the clinking of metal against metal that rouses her from the darkness. Not that it's much brighter in the room when she wakes. Or maybe it's the haze in her vision that makes it seem much darker than it is. Her eyes refuse to adjust, the shadows are long and cold as she tries to orient herself.

She's on a cheap mattress. Similar to the worn ones at her sleepaway camps upstate when she felt the longing for home. The room is nothing but concrete slabs, a single bulb illuminating the space – what little there was.

"You're awake."

The voice brings no comfort. It's a sugary molasses, slow and sickening as it passes over the burnt embers of his mouth. She tries to move, only to find the pressure on her shoulders refusing to relent. The most she can do is lift her head, despite protest from every cell in her body.

He's on the other side of the room, just out of range of the feeble light. It didn't matter, really. From her limited vantage point, he is a colossus, his frame nearly touching the ceiling of the room. If only she could see a door, but even without the reference she can tell he’swide.Just his shadow fills the space to the point it feels claustrophobic. As if a shift would fill her past capacity.

"Are you hungry?"

She reels, brain swimming to process the words. "What?"

"Are you hungry?" he asks again, stepping to the side. He keeps to the wall, just out of full view. "I've heard the effects of the toxin can have adverse effects on the body's digestive system–"

"Wh–what? Toxin?"

"Well, it's more of a paralytic I've been working on. Though I fear I may have given you too much, most don't sleep for eighteen hours."

Eighteen hours.She feels tears welling in a burning sensation against her dry eyes. She was supposed to be headed to Hobie’s apartment right now, letting the desert air flow through freshly cut hair with a new punk record playing over the speakers of her dad’s ‘67 Buick. Instead, she doesn’t even know where she is.

Her stranger doesn’t appear to be too bothered by her silence. His steps are soft, terrifyingly so as he paces around the room. She hears, rather than sees, his ruffling through cabinets and drawers. Each grind of drawer wheels against metal, the soft closing of a makeshift cupboard as he rummages for food or tools. Maybe he was planning to cut her, take the only thing from her thatdidn’thurt, and drag her through the nightmares that plagued her. Maybe he was creating new ones for her to fear.

“You know,chiquitita,” he murmurs as if simply discussing plans for the coming weekend. “I didn’t expectyou.Si no fuera por el capitán…si no hubiera muerto ese día. You see where things could’ve been different, yes?”

She huffs, ignoring the pain in her throat as she swallows, wincing at the crack of her voice. “I don’t speak Spanish.”

Even if she can’t see him, the amusem*nt is evident in his laugh. "Of course, you don't. Why would you? It's not like New York has a large Spanish-speaking community."

The words seem to swirl in her mind, both far and close as she lies in her cot. He continues to rummage around, noises echoing through the room.New York.Capitán. New York.Capitán. New York.Capitán.The sound of the water running is an accent to the running thoughts in her mind. Still, she can do nothing but groan. There’ssomethingto connect but the pounding in her head refuses to let her.

“Drink.” Her eyes fly open (when had they closed?) to see the man standing above her. They go wide, staring at his face.

Capitán. Captain George Stacy. Promoted after his exemplary work in apprehending the leader of the 2099 Crawlers. The same leader was supposed to be rotting in a cell on the other side of the country right now.Instead, he is staring down at her, a bored expression on his face as he holds a small cup to her face.

She shakes her head, lips pressed together. What is there to describe his face other than disappointment? Suddenly his hand strikes out, slipping between her head and the lumpy mattress. His grip encapsulates her skull, dragging her head upward against her restraints. “Open your mouth or I’ll open it for you.”

Her hesitation is quickly forgotten as he moves to set the glass down, mouth turning agape in his stranglehold. The corner of his lips upturned, grip renewing on the cup as he proceeds to slowly pour into her waiting mouth.

The water is a fountain after what feels like a month of dehydration. It soothes away the ache of sore flesh, a cooling stream of relief against the effects of her poison. She wants to close her eyes in relief, to savor the feeling, but she can only stare at her captor. Even when he drops her head, letting it fall back into the mattress, she can only stare. Some of the water falls out, splashing over her face and clothes, but she can’t stop tracking his movements. He studies her back, squinting at her in kind.

“I originally planned to make our dear Georgie suffer,” he states, calm as the sky on a summer afternoon. “Imagine my disappointment to learn that all that is left of him isyou.”

“What are you going to do to me?”

“That,chiquita,is up to you.”

He backs away from her then, unfurling his crouched position back to his full height. She watches as he turns and walks to the far wall. Can do nothing but watch as he moves the rusted metal of the door she hadn’t noticed as if it weighed nothing. Watches as he glances over his shoulder back at her. “When you’re hungry, just say so.”

__________

By her count, there are exactly three spiders in what she now can recognize as a basem*nt of some sort. One hovers on the wall behind her head, just above the sink and cabinetry. The second moves every three-ish minutes toward the light fixture on the ceiling, occasionally dropping to create more of its web. The third is a track star, running between the various areas of the room as it searches. For what, she’s unsure. Is it food? A comfortable space for it to nest?

The restraints (metal bars across her chest, stomach, wrists, legs, and ankles) remove themselves after hours (days?)pass. A whirring sound fills the entire room and blocks out any thought shemayhave had. But she can finally move. Sitting up seems to be just as much a struggle as keeping her eyes open, but she does it anyway. Her muscles creak and groan as she stretches; whether they’re stiff from their held positions or the last of the poison in her body, she doesn’t know.

“You have an hour before you need to be lying back on that cot,” his voice rings from the sky. “If I have to put you back myself, we will have a problem.”

She frowns, finally swinging her legs off the mattress. “What if I have to pee?”

“There is the sink or the drain in the middle of the room.”

She frowns, staring at where she thinks the sound is coming from. He can’t be serious. Nonetheless, she stands. Finally, her limbs move – each step releasing the numbing pinpricks in her nerves as they get used to pacing the small room.

She tries the door first. Swears she can hear the snort of laughter from farther away when she finds it heavy and locked. He’d moved it like paper earlier, but she swears it must weigh at least fifty pounds with how ineffective her pushes are.

Next, she explores the cabinets. Plastic bowls and plates, silverware locked in a clear box. The glass from earlier upon closer inspection is nothing but plastic either. No soap, no toiletries. Just water.

“Can I take a shower?!” She calls, not even bothering to try and find a source for the violent man on the other side. “Or brush my teeth?!”

“Not now.”

She sighs, filling another cup of water. Not that she expected luxury from her captor. Or that he’d proven himself to be particularly magnanimous.

The hour is up before she realizes it, and she finds herself annoyed with her traitorous body as it moves to the cot and lies back in her position. No matter how she tries to rationalize her thoughts astrying to stay alive,she still finds herself annoyed with herself for folding so easily to his demands.

"Good girl," his voice rings as the bars return to their position on top of her. She squirms, the indescribable panic creeping up her chest. "You're doing so well; maybe tomorrow we'll give you two hours."

She whimpers and nods. That does sound nice. He was going to keep her, until at least tomorrow. Still, she feels an aching pain within her. It gnaws at her stomach, twisting and turning as her head began to ache again. "I'm hungry."

She's met with silence. For a second she almost believes he's left. Left her alone in this windowless room as punishment for her wrongdoings.Whatwrongdoings she can’t be sure of. He'd told her to tell him when she was hungry. He wouldn't have done that if he didn't plan on fixing it.

The door opens in a woosh. He's standing there, a plate of toast and apple slices in hand as he begins to cross the room toward her cot.

"Food," he says as if she can't see the plate in his hand. He balances it easily as he walks in, dragging a chair behind him. She says nothing until he sits, the food now balanced on his knee. "No funny business,pollito."

She nods, this time merely dropping her mouth for him to put the first apple slice in. She relishes the crunch. The explosion of juice in her mouth is somehow the most satisfying thing in the world to her. Happily, she takes the second slice, watching his dark eyes as they follow the working of her jaw. It's the third slice that he switches hands. He rests his newly freed hand on her stomach. Not pressing down, no trailing of his fingers.

"Did you know I once had a wife? A daughter?" he asks as if telling her a bedtime story. She shakes her head, no. He sighs.

"Well, I did. Paula and Gabrielle." For a moment he looks peaceful, remembering the family he had. “When I took over the 2099, Paula wasfurious.”

Her brow furrows, her heart rate quickening against her chest. The hand on her stomach flexes, nails sharp even through the thin cotton shirt.

“She didn’t like thedangerof it,” he sighs. The next bite is a piece of toast, so tiny in the hands of a beast. “Said it was too violent to raise our girl in. But I had a plan, you see.”

His nails dig into her stomach, pressing, scraping, and flinging as she looks at him with fear-filled eyes. But he doesn’t seem perturbed. It’s like she barely registers as real, a simple doll for him to ground himself with.

“I had stopped the drug pushing. Or at least the major bits. We still had internationals to deal with. Partners who wanted us to finish contracts, things of that nature. But we wereprotectingour own, right?”

Her breath catches when she realizes what his hand is doing. It’s only when he finds it, the high waistband of her leggings, that it registers. He makes quick work of her shirt, rucking it up with one hand as he continues his monologue.

“ThenJess. f*cking Jess wasconvincedthat George was a good one. Someone who couldhelp us. When has the NYPD ever helped anyone?” His anger is palpable, laced into the tone of each word as his hand slips under the band of her pants. Suddenly her hunger is gone, her eyes widening as he continues his exploration southward.

“W-wait, I –”

“Callate perrito,” he hisses. He is no longer looking at her face, attentions drifting southward as his fingers break the seal of the underwear she’d worn. “Did you know it was George who arranged for the shipment to New York?Itold the group, no, we didn’t need it. But George infected us. Made us weak.”

She can only whimper as his finger trails her slit. It stings, the soft laughter he lets free when he finds her dry.Cruel, she thinks.

“Tell me,chiquita,do you do the same? Infect your friends with your silly ideas of what is right, only to hurt them in the end?” he spits at her. She doesn’t know whether he wants an actual answer, or if he is simply musing aloud. He withdraws his hand, and for a brief second, she believes maybe that is going to be the end of it. He’ll leave, and come back to feed her in the morning without his touch infecting her.

She never is that lucky.

He sticks his fingers in his mouth, giving a gentle suck before slipping them down her pants once more.

“George,” he continues, pressing his index against her cl*t. Years of fumbling withboysand he’d found hers within a second of touching her. “He was a bastard. Only brought Jess and me to the meetup. Should’ve known it was a trap. But Jess vouched for him. I wonder,chiquita, if you were home alone, sleeping soundly as your father lead us to death?”

She has a hard time concentrating on his words, a whimper escaping her mouth as he presses tight circles into her cl*t. Her body is a traitor, responding to his touches in kind as she feels herself warm. It pools and coils in her gut, a serpent of arousal as he pulls from her feelings she’d pushed far away sincethat day.

“I wonder if you celebrated the night he put us behind bars.” He leans forward, his lips just on the shell of her ear. “I wonder if while you celebrated, your father knew whathismenwere doing to the families of the 2099?”

She cries out as he lets his finger pierce her opening, still far too dry to receive any sort of penetration.

“That’s how Jess screamed when they beat her. Cruel, no?” he whispers, drawing the finger out just to slip it back in. “They killed her husband next. A raid with no warrant, no discipline still. Not so much as a reprimand.”

She can only whimper in return. It feels sickening, the pleasure he rips from her with each stroke of his finger inside. Silently, she is grateful for the bar holding her hips down, refusing to allow her to chase the sensation when he pulls out. The wetness between her legs builds, regardless of her wants.

“Poorcosita linda,so confused? Imagine how Paula felt when the police came to our house. Took her in front of ourangel. Then they told her I was gone.” His words are straight venom, a hiss to add to the sting as he forces a second finger inside. “And they kept coming back.”

Tears flow freely now, and she wants to reach out, push him away, or hold his hand to the only place that doesn’t hurt. But he doesn’t release her. His thumb joins the fray, returning the attention to her cl*t.

"I think I figured out what to do with you,linda." His voice is a razor blade, his tongue a serpent's fork, as he reaches out and tasted the salty tears on her cheeks. "And you're going to enjoy it, aren't you?"

"N-no," she hiccups, weakly. "I don't want–"

"It's not about what you want," he murmurs, and the coil tightens inside her, rushing for release. "It's about making things right. A family for a family. A daughter for a wife."

Her teeth bite into her cheek, drawing blood as her body seizes. She feels as her org*sm courses through her entire being, clenching and releasing her nerves from head to toe until the only thing she can focus on is the two fingers coaxing her down.

"There you go," he whispers as if soothing a balm on a tiny cut. There is silence for only a moment, the only sound in the room her jagged breathing and soft sobs. "Rest now,chiquita, there will be more in the morning."

#migwen

hibewriter

Jun 1

It's a vicious cycle, baby

Masterlist Read it on AO3

Shadow & Bone | Darklina | 4.8K | E

Tags:Step Siblings | fauxcest | P in V Sex

“So it was just a phone call?”

Alina sniffed, laying on the last piece of furniture in the lower Manhattan apartment. All the boxes had already been packed, the last strip of packaging tape laid merely an hour before she’d gotten the call. She stared at the ceiling, the small patches and primer covering up the holes she’d drilled to hang her string lights turning the room more foreign than before. Her head rang in the echo of the disinterested voice on the other line.

“Is this Alina Starkov? This is Tante calling on behalf of Black Heretic Property Holdings.”

The end of it all. Her four-year relationship was put on ice by her decision to move across the country in pursuit of law school. Her apartment was neatly packed with numbers blocked and a moving truck idling in the alley next to her. Genya sat next to her, holding her hand as if that was going to solve her newest dilemma.

“Unfortunately, we’ve sold 65 Mullner’s Lane apartment complex, and will no longer be able to lease Apartment C to you as the building is scheduled to be demolished.”

“Well, maybe you could stay?”Genya sounded far away, her voice traveling through water to reach Alina’s ears. “In Manhattan I mean. Like David and I could make room.”

Stay. In Manhattan.

And do what? Withdraw from UCLA? Take a gap year after she’d already taken two years to be able to afford it on her own? She thought of David and Genya, already cramped in the junior “two”-bed in Greenwich. Thought of themtryingonce they got married next year. She sighed, flopping her head back on a corduroy pillow. She didn’t want to be practice parenthood.

“It’s fine.”It wasn’t. She had a truck full of all her belongings and a two-thousand-mile journey to start. “I’m sure there’s an extended stay I could use. Maybe someone is leasing for immediate move-ins.”

Genya frowns, her charm bracelet jingling as she pushed a hair from Alina’s face. “I think…”She hedged, continuing the pets of her hair. “Maybe it’s time you call your dad.”

“My dad,” Alina repeats. Her voice shrinks in on itself, fingers already beginning to tangle together as she thinks of her father. Antonin Starkov. A man of many talents, mostly in marrying and divorcing the elite of the upper east side. Stealing their wealth for his own side business ventures as those around him grow ever more neglected and distant andcold.

All the radiators in New York could not make his condo feel like a home.

But who else could take care of her besides her father?

Antonin makes her stay with him for two months. Lets her sulk in her room alone for a full two weeks before barging in with a woman she’d never seen, a new spa set in hand, demanding she bathes andacts like a Starkov. She would’ve been offended if the cocoon of blankets purchased from West Elm hadn’t begun to smell thick and chips hadn’t fallen out when she stood. Forgotten and stale.

But she was a Starkov.

She couldn’t just sit and wallow on her bed while the world moved on. She had to get it together. Get a move on andbe a person. Setbacks happened all the time. Boys break up with you, don’t think you’re worth moving over. Apartments get sold. And Starkovs still persist in shining. She’d just have to make a plan. She’d just have to grow up.

The woman, an aide named Inej, helps more than she’d be willing to admit. A strict checklist of items to do once they’d gotten it together.

Shower.Check.

Clean her space.Check.

Find a new place.f*ck.

She sits on freshly laundered sheets, staring at the blank browser of her laptop. Thinks of potential areas she’d stay, places that could offer her the modicum of reassurance that stepping outside her door wouldn’t get her killed. Not dead but close to the university. She’d seen a YouTube Lawyer speaking about staying close to campus to get the most out of law school. And it seemed smart, wasting less time on travel. But each listing seemed…wrong.

And that’s when she met Baghra.

(In all her years as his daughter – a full twenty-five, each year more difficult than the last – Antonin Starkov had exactly seven wives. The first three had been kind, if not too forgiving of Alina’s outbursts of want for herrealmother. A figure that was long gone and buried. The fourth and fifth, both appearing and disappearing in the course of her high school years, had barely registered in her memory. Women who maybe made an appearance at the same time as Alina once a month, otherwise jet-setting across the globe with inheritance from their old money parents or running businesses from luxury skyrises with views of the entire planet out their windows. The sixth had lasted the longest. Entering her father’s life during her sophom*ore year of college, only to leave him and his money behind for a man who lived in the apartment below them by the middle of her senior year.

And now there was Baghra. Lucky number seven, as her father introduced her. Not exactly something Alina would’ve smiled at. But the woman neither smiled nor frowned. Instead, she took the opportunity to ignore Antonin’s jab, clasping Alina’s hand in hers.)

“You must be Alina,”her voice betrayed her false joy as she clasped Alina’s hands in hers. “Antonin has spoken so much about you.”

“Oh, you don’t have to lie,” Alina responded. “I know he hasn’t.”

Baghra seemed to frown without frowning. Eyes crinkled with a soft downward tilt, lips tight as if in deep thought.

“Oh, you’d get along swimmingly with my daughter Ulla.”

“Does she live in California?”

She didn’t. But her son did.

Aleksander Morozov, a last name from a husband four times removed, lived in a small three-bedroom home off the edge of UCLA’s campus. A mere twenty-minute walk to the door of the UCLA School of Law. He had one car, a work-from-home job at one of the Silicon Valley tech start-ups, and a roommate who’d moved out to go live with his new husband.

The pictures Baghra sent her (a reluctant exchange of phone numbers – an act Alina hadn’t done with her father’s wives since number four had a case of doctoring messages), depicted nothing extreme. Curly trees and native plants, stucco walls, and terracotta shingles plucked straight from her late-night Pinterest boards. It’s nice, almost too nice, and fear of rent and expenses on top of school rise in her head and she wants to scream at the idea of asking her father (or worse,Baghra) for assistance.

Aleksander’s number is sent to her in a rush, Baghra offering more false joy at the idea of their familiesblending. A new brother and roommate within a week.

Aleksander is thirty-four; nothing strange outside of the idea he lives so close to a college campus. He started renting the house during undergrad with his friend Ivan. Never left because he didn’t have to. He assures her via text that it would be no problem to take her in, that Baghra is always looking for her next project, and that Alina needn’t worry about the majority of the furniture she had sitting in storage. He’s been in tech since graduation, doesn’t tell her how much he makes a year, and pointedly lets her know the third bedroom is for his office. Rent is allegedly only nine-hundred dollars a month, and he already has the space cleaned out should she want it.

She’s on a flight to LA the next week.

He’s thirty-four, holds a job at home, and refuses to let her drive from LAX by herself. He arrives in a black coupe car, holds a sign written in neat block letters with her name on it, and packs her suitcase into his trunk before she can even offer to do so.

When they arrive at the house it’s exactly like the pictures. Curly trees and bushes thrive under the California sun as he shows her inside. Her room is directly next to the office and is the only room seemingly untouched by an interior designer. She is allowed to place any decorations in her room, as long as she doesn’t leave permanent marks, but Ivan had drilled wooden beams into the walls for a rustic feel and now you couldn’t tell. She wants to scream, finally across the country just days away from starting.

__________________________

The first week is nothing but restless nerves. Constant tossing and turning in a new bed with sheets laundered in an off-brand detergent that was cheaper than her normal scented one. Her decorations felt lackluster and droll, hitting the trash bin on the curb of Aleksander’s –their –street within two days. Her nights were filled with purchasing textbooks written by professors who would teach her, finding new decorations, and listening to the soft pacing of her new roommate –brother– as he worked on whatever kept him up at night.

Though she had to count herself lucky. When she had first arrived, Aleksander towered so tall she had to tap his shoulder just so he would see her amongst the crowd. When he said her name, she felt the honey-burnt rumble of his voice from her head to her toes, and an instant dread of a steady stream of girls who fell for charcoal eyes and a full beard filled her mind.

But, if anything, he was the one who insisted they give ample heads-up on all guests.

The only singular instance of unexpected guests (never a hookup or lackluster date) was an errant girl with dark hair who arrived in the thick of the night. Her incessant knocking was what woke Alina, asleep after attempting to watch reruns ofThe Good Wifeand draped in a stolen blanket from Aleksander’s closet. She remembered feigning sleep, keeping her eyes closed tight as she attempted to ignore it. Only for the man of the hour to cross angrily to the door, yanking it open and speaking in hushed tones with venom-laced words.

“Who the f*ck is that girl, Sasha?”

“Calm down Zo, she’s my sister.”

“Sister?! I’ve met Ulla, you prick, she looks nothing like her. “

“Saints, you act as if my mom’s never gotten remarried before.”

“Then why the f*ck haven’t you called me back?”

The door slammed behind him as he exited to speak to her. Alina just barely fell back asleep when he walked back in, barely stirring at the small hand that brushed her hair behind her ear and the dip of the couch near her head.

“Mmphf Aleksss.”A vague mumble of words against his thigh, scooting closer to body heat.

“Shhh, go back to sleep, Alina.”

__________________________

When the semester starts, it’s almost as if they’re nothing to each other.

He’s already awake and working by the time she rises, the office door firmly closed with the muffled voices of whatever call he was on permeating through the wood. She showers, leaves with an apple and whatever leftover coffee he’d made sloshing in her Yeti tumbler from a convention long passed. Long classes drift by, only to be followed by hours studying her outline, attempting to be well prepared by the time midterms come around. All for her to arrive back home, worn and ragged, and stealing leftovers from the fridge while he continues to watch whatever history documentary he seemed fixated on that week.

Not to say every day was a perfect cohabitation of silence and drifting around each other. She’d yelled at him when he’d drank out of her favorite mug, leaving it soaking in the sink for a day and a half before she got so frustrated she washed it her damn self. She wanted nothing more than to smack him when he left a shirt (black, dry-fit like nearly everything he wore) in the middle of the living room after coming back from a run. Even with his “I was coming back for it later,” she still threw it at his head, pulling the carpet freshener and vacuum from their hidey-hole to clean the freshly soiled common area.

Not that she was flawless. She heard the muttered complaints from Aleksander on Saturday mornings when she played re-uploaded cuts of MTV music programs on YouTube while cleaning the kitchen. (It really was an excellent distraction from studying, when archaic words about property law blurred together and she needed to mentally remove her brain from the situation.) He’d also yelled, exactly once, when she’d forgotten to clean the long clumps of hair out of the drain. But stopped the second he raised his hand, clocking how her eyes widened and she made a tiny step back into her room. He sighed – defeat or simply resigning himself to a new normal, she’ll never know. Begging her to not do it again in a soft voice before escaping the confines of the house until well after she’d fallen asleep.

The couch became the neutral ground. Friday nights, after a week of pitter-pattering around each other and small arguments, she’s coaxed out with delivered Italian, the popping of a bottle of wine echoing through the entire house. He’ll hand her a plate, settling into the couch as he finds a movie.

It’s quiet mumbling, crawling to sit next to him on the couch. (Only to steal his blanket and leech some of the warmth from him – California was warm but its breezes left her thin skin frozen, her brother’s warmth the only comfort.) They’re quiet, but it’s not uncomfortable. As if they’d spent all their lives merely existing next to each other.The Princess Bridewas a more permanent fixture in the home than most of the furniture.

__________________________

Their relationship didn’t shift until it did.

One day he was locked in his office, hidden away from her with the door locked. The next, she had her own chair in the room, her textbooks on his bookcase, and a nice lamp for her late-night study sessions. She found herself sitting next to him, listening to the soft clack of his fingers against his keyboard, the deep muttering of his voice on various calls. It was a soothing balm for her days, his body nearby as they attempted not to disrupt the other’s work. And when the day was over they could go their separate ways.

(If she stole a blanket from his bed and wrapped herself in his scent… well that was her business and hers alone.)

Midterms and finals pass in a flurry of coffee and dramatic tv reruns. A short flight home for the holidays, hotel fair split because neither particularly wanted to stay with their parents. Apparently still sickeningly in love (if that’s what you could call Baghra’s and Antonin’s relationship). Bundled sweaters and an extra thick weighted blanket Aleksander brought especially for her. “Maybe you’ll stop putting those icicles you call feet on my lap, Alina.”(It does not stop her, though the sting is dulled by fluffy socks and a blanket that smothers all her bad thoughts into a peaceful slumber.)

The spring arrives before she can think, another set of midterms, another set of highlighters. Sleepless and hunger-filled nights were lessened only by her brother-roommate’s lights-out policy and Postmates' premium account.

But then, just as she thought she could relax, the trip came. It was a Friday he told her. She was wrapped in the blanket he’d brought her, a bowl of kettle corn on her lap (“Because it’shealthySasha!”), and the remote already queued to their movie of the night. He’d walked in, still typing away at his phone even though they’d agreed onno more work this weekend.So she huffed, rolling her eyes as he paced behind the couch rather than sitting on it. She reached, tugging on his shirt as he passed, hoping to get his attention so they can start the night like always.

“Give me a second, baby I’ll be right there.”

Baby. It was an echo in her head, constantly coming up when she least expected it. He’d started calling her such after New Year’s Day, waking up on David and Genya’s couch in their party clothes, his arms a better blanket than any gift he could ever give. Even when she asked about it, nervous hedging on the plane back home, he merely shrugged.“You kept saying you were baby, so I guess that’s what you are.”

Still, his affection could not quel her need for her night to start. Comfort movies, blanket swaddling, and cuddles on the couch after trying to understand archaic nonsense of property law and endless contracts and double entendres. So she whined, petulant and youthful as she stretched toward him. And he stilled, hand coming to stroke her cheek with something like reverence.

“My, uh, my boss wants us all in the office for a yearly recap,”he muttered, eyebrows scrunching, concerned.“So I gotta head out next Wednesday for a couple of days.”

She’d call it strange how quickly her frown took shape on her face, the instant feeling of disappointment flowing through her. It wasn’t like she held him under lock and key, forced to share their tiny oasis all day every day. But it felt akin to the first time her father suggested sleeping without her teddy bear – devastating and somehow cruel.

She didn't mope the rest of the night, cuddled deep into her blanket far away from his embrace on the other side of the couch. Shedidn't.Even when he sighed, told her to"stop being a brat, baby. I'll be back before you know it."

__________________________

She's sure he thought it was true. But that Wednesday night felt too quiet, the echoes of her footsteps too loud against the hardwood floor. She tossed and turned all night, somehow cold in the California spring.

Thursday was impossible to concentrate, her lecture breezing through one ear and out the other. The words in her notebooks were a blur. It wasn't until seven, nearly dark, that she realized she'd forgotten breakfast and lunch. That's when she itched to call him demanding he come home early instead of Monday afternoon.

She settled for a text, a simpleHow was your day? She didn't expect him to respond so soon, barely switching to her own Postmates app before the notification of his response appeared.Good. Did you eat today, baby?And it should have been embarrassing.I'm ordering Thai right now. My normal breakfast and lunch may have been missed.

Missing me already?

She sighed, thumbs down emoji sent quickly. They both knew it wasn't true.

Friday came with the ringing of a doorbell. Philz coffee and fruit in a brown paper bag left delicately on her porch side table. She would never admit, even under threat of torture, how much better her morning went. It was much easier, even grabbing lunch from the pizza place down the street with a girl from her class. But still, returning to the empty home felt hollow. She could only wrestle with herself for an hour, the time it took her to shower and prepare a chicken stir fry before she made the decision.

His door was closed, but not locked. His room was orderly in the way he tended to be. Bed made, clothes put away, vacuumed the Sunday before he left. Still, she drew her weighted blanket into the room, with her laptop queued toThe Princess Bride,and found comfort in the warmth of his comforter. Falling asleep as she preferred to – Aleksander’s scent washing over her while soft voices echoed in the background.

Saturday she found a shirt, black as the rest of his wardrobe, hanging from his closet door. This time there was no hesitation to slip into his space, the shirt draped over her form as soon as she stepped out of the shower. It was almost like he was physically there as she cleaned the house, tidying the space exactly as she preferred. And at night she settled in, a comedy special playing on Netflix as she dozed off in his bed. She’d put everything back tomorrow, cleaning to the room’s original status without Aleksander ever knowing just how much she missed him.

She didn’t particularly get the chance. Not stirring during the sunrise, the opening and closing of the front door lost on her consciousness. No, she simply bundled deeper into the pillows and sheets, familiar footfalls falling on deaf ears. A soft sigh escaped her as arms wrap around her waist, a strong warmth clinging to her back.

“I guess you did miss me, baby,”murmured into her ear. She nods, a dream-like haze as he pulls her close.

“You came home early,”she mumbles. Clings to him like wet on lycra, inhaling as he crowds her close.

“Clearly I was needed,”his hands found her thighs, bare and silky under his shirt, tracing circles into her skin.“I needed to come home.”

He was right. She had no need to fight him. Lets him drag her leg over his hips. Relishes the feel of his beard against her shoulder as he buries his face in her neck. Cuddled like he needed to, pressed to each other. It’s his lips on her neck that cause her to gasp, a soft touch that lingers with each pass.

“Sa-Sasha–”

“Baby, you have no idea how long I’ve dreamed of seeing you like this,”he murmured, soft and urgent. The begging left unsaid. But shedidknow. She knew for months, maybe since the day she moved in, that she’d want him. Always around. Always close. And there was no need to resist. Antonin and Baghra the furthest thing from her mind as she pushed against his head, only to drag his lips down to hers.

If she were patient she would’ve taken the time to look at him. Absorb that he was real and that she was real and she wasn’t dreaming that her step-brother’s tongue was partially down her throat. Even if she was dreaming she didn’t want to let go of the feeling. His hands spanned her ribs, fingers nearly touching as he began to press her into the bed.

He doesn’t waste much time. His hands roam, lifting his shirt on her body until he could feel all of it. Underwear gone since she crawled into bed the night before. His fingers found her slit, wet – nearlysoaked– causing him to break their kiss, a groan on his lips. And she finally got to see him, the first time since he’d left Wednesday morning. His hair flopping softly, tussled from an early flight and her fingers carding through it. But his eyes, always dark and broody, were alight with desire. A flame shown within him as he looked down at her.

“My wet, messy girl,”he whispered, something akin to awe in his voice as he leaned down. A kiss pressed to her collarbone, lips finding the skin not covered by the rucked-up shirt. She could do little else but whimper as he seemed to proceed on a one-man mission to map every inch of her skin with his lips. Each kiss was lower than the last, until he paused, directly over her mound before glancing back up at her, those eyes shining back at her. “Tell me to stop, baby.”

She refused.

His mouth was like a spark, lips encompassing her as his tongue lapped at her, collecting wetness from her like honey from a jar. His tongue was heady, sliding through her folds and over her cl*t. She could feel his smirk as he was able to draw out a moan, her hands clinging to his hair. There was no use trying to look at something else, not when each lick brought a spark to flame inside her. She refused to hold her sounds, refused to think of the embarrassingoh, oh, ohsthat flew from her mouth as he switched to sucking on her cl*t.

“Please, p-please,”she gasped, managing a spark of lucidity as he refused to relent his assault on her pleasure. Just as she thought she couldn’t hold anymore, he abruptly stuck two fingers inside. She was wet, wetter than she’d been inyears, but still. The stretch was a smart burn that only faded as she got accustomed to the feel. Until his fingers pressed againstsomethingthrowing her off a metaphorical cliff into an org*sm. He still only withdrew partially, keeping his fingers slowly moving inside her as he kissed his way back up her body.

Her own hands found purpose. Pushing and tugging at offending garments. His shirt, the sweats, all in the way of what she trulywanted. Hadn’t she waited enough? Hadn’t she been good and patient and waited for him to come back? But he took her wrists in one hand, not hard enough to bruise but enough for her to whine as he pushed her arms above her head. He forced her to just feel his thumb, pressed deliciously against her cl*t, as his fingers sought that spot inside her again.

“Be good for me, Lina,”his breath was hot against her lips.“Be good, and I’ll give you what you want.”It shouldn’t have been that easy. A whisper for her to be good against the pressure of his hands against and in her. But her body clenched down, limbs seizing as the precipice of org*sm crashed through her in a rush. Her breath barely came in pants before his lips were on hers again, finally –finally– dragging the rest of his clothing off with as much efficiency as he could without leaving her side.

She will never admit, not to God or Satan or any of the Saints, that the first feel of his co*ck, dragging slowly over her cl*t as his lips moved against hers, was the best experience of her life. There was nothing shameful, nothing that could make her repent, for the sounds that escaped her lips. Swallowed by his tongue as he rocked his hips against her.

She wants to scream. She wanted to cry. So close to him, to what they both were wanting, and he wasteasing. She squirmed, wiggling, pushing her hips against him. As if she could make him catch her against her c*nt and slip in. But he chuckled,laughingat her desperation as he gripped her hips.

“Let me, baby,”he whispered, lining himself against her.“Wanna savor it.”

Then, the head of his co*ck notches inside her.

Itstings.She’s wet, no virgin, and definitely not a prude, but he was more than two of his fingers could ever adequately prepare her for. It sends only a brief shock of hesitation in her, numbed as he slowly presses forward, withdrawing an inch only to feed it back into her. His hands return to her wrist, pushing her into the bed as he forces her to justtake take take.

Each rock of his hips pushes him further inside, and each time she thinks she can’t take any more. He couldn’t possibly have more to give. But each thrust is another bit, another space carved out just for him until she feels so full she’s unsure shecouldbreathe. His hips pressed deliciously against hers, a whine falling from her mouth as he withdraws and slams back in.

“f*ck,”he breathes, hips gaining speed as she loosens to the feel of him.“f*cking dream, been hard formonths—”

She cries out, nails digging into her palms as she can only hold on with her thighs. The tension, the slight bite as his hand pressed into her wrists. She knows, before she can even find the ways to vocalize it, that she’s going to come. His free hand snakes behind them, pressing on her lower back to force her to arch into him.

“So f*cking good,”he huffed, chest against hers, their bodies moving together. She doesn’t even think to close her eyes. Stares into the dark pools next to her, as she feels it coming. Tears prick her eyes, each downward stroke a new push towards that precipice. A stroke, a push, his lips on hers, and she falls apart.

He doesn’t stop, groaning at the feel of her around him. He releases her wrists, grasping at her hips to pull her against him. She has a feeling she’ll bruise, but she can’t bring herself to care. Not when his thrust grows sloppy, not when his lips find contact with any skin they can find. Her shoulder, her cheek, her neck. Both moaned loudly when his hips stilled against hers, his co*ck a plug to keep the warmth of his spend inside her.

They lay there, his body better than a million weighted blankets, arms wrapped around each other while they caught their breaths. For a moment she wonders if they’ll talk about it. If they’ll discuss the fact that they just f*cked their step-sibling before either of them even bothered to get up for the day.

But they didn’t. He simply tugged her close, nuzzling into her skin as he softened.

“I missed you, too.”

#darklina

hibewriter

Jun 1

Eyes to Welcome You Home

Masterlist Read it on AO3

Shadow & Bone | Darklina | 7.3K | E

Tags:Age Gap | Dry Humping | Car Sex | Stair Sex | Coach x Player Relationship

Logically, Ravka is just like any other country. Within its borders citizens in its largest cities mull about, going to and fro from jobs of a different caliber than the citizens of the countryside. Its roads are an intertwining bramble dictated by terrain and populace, a web when laid out on paper — all seemingly combining to a point at the country capital of Os Alta.

But the most important roads, the major ones that nearly every citizen found themselves on at one point or another, were the two cross-country highways. Like all major roads in Ravka, country-Way 270 and Country-Way 40 intersect at the heart of Ravka in a spiraling complex of ten lanes and confusing exits.

Most preferred CW-40, outside of the city at least. Once its lanes died down into a manageable system of three that traveled from the very highest point at the Fjerdian border to the very southernmost point of Shu Han. Few people minded the small airport along its route, for the traffic was rarely overbearing.

Yet, on CW-270, which stretched from the port coast to the intersecting border of Ravka, Fjerda, and Shu Han, many found themselves in a hate-hate relationship with the long stretches of construction, passing fields and fields of farmland only to transition into worn buildings of an industrial era long gone. But, should one decide to take the cross-country road trip, they might find interest in the passing exits of small towns. Isolated stretches of road that seemed to have slipped into an ethereal space, lone streetlights, and cracked asphalt that stretched to the very depths of darkness themselves.

It’s on one such road, two hundred and eighty-four miles away from the coastline, just before the final exit before the border crossing, was a foster home. Normally, one would not find a foster home on the edge of Ravka’s civilized society to be significant. One casually does not pay mind to the small town of Ketterdam, just twenty miles from CW-270. The old industrial buildings were covered in decades of salt and wind, brick weathered dull but still standing out vibrantly from the paneled homes and patched roofing across the town. Even less than minding the small town, people minded the downtrodden foster children. All of them were forgotten the second they were deposited on Ana Kuya’s doorstep, government checks were often “misdelivered” for months at a time.

But that didn’t stop the house from bringing a vibrancy often lost in the grey skies of Ketterdam.

“Malyen, getOUT.” A voice, high and sure rang through the crumbling four square. The chipped painting probably suffered from lead and other toxic materials that lined the walls, and cramped hallways with boxes full of various belongings. And currently banging on the home’s lone bathroom door, was a girl of five foot four, jet black hair swishing like silk down her back as her entire body moved with her fist.

“MALYEN, I SWEAR TO GOD IF WE’RE LATE DROPPING OFF ROSE I WILL BREAK YOUR ARM!” She swore, continuing her pounding as a girl, no older than twelve with blonde pigtails destroyed by sleep, peeked her head out of the door across the hall.

“Linka? I need your help with my hair.” The dark-haired girl, Alina Starkov, spun abruptly, eyes wide as she regarded her foster sibling.

“Of course, Rosie, why don’t you go ahead and get your bookbag together and I’ll grab your brush from the bathroom." She watched carefully as the girl rolled her eyes and slipped back into the room. As soon as the door softly clicked shut she spun on her heel, fire returning to her eyes as she accessed the door.

‘Malyen, you have to the count of thr–”

The door swung open, and she was suddenly face to face with her foster brother. Had it been years ago, and she was still idyllic with her little crushes based on physical appearance, and that alone, she might have been given pause at the shirtless boy in front of her. His build was bulky as muscles strained under his skin from years of football practice and eating more than his fair share during dinner as Ana Kuya looked the other way. But instead of being charmed by his lopsided grin, she pushed her way past him, furiously turning the water to begin brushing her teeth.

"Morning to you too, Alina."

She fixed her eyes to glare, not responding as she rushed. He merely chuckled, seemingly amused by her frustration. She wasn't sure what was so funny. They had fifteen minutes to get dressed, eat, and load into the car –least Rose, Alina,andMalyen get detention for being late. And none of them could afford that right now.

"Jush hurreh up Mal." She groaned around the brush in her mouth, trying not to rush through her process too much. This was her last year, she forced herself to remember. The last few months of struggling through mornings like this.

"Relax, Lina," he sighed, heavy feet padding down the hallway. "I'm driving today remember? Ana gave me the car for the weekend!"

She cursed, spitting the sudsy paste into the sink with fever, barely taking a second to rinse before she, too, was in the hallway.

“What?! I need it to get to work! And practice!” She yelled, ire building as she heard the deep laugh from the boys' door. Ana was taking Charles to daycare already, their caretaker often gone before dawn. How she found a caretaker to take the boy before the sun rose she'll never know.

"Too bad! Use a cab!"

She scowled, sure that steam would rush from her ears if the shockingly violent cartoons were accurate. But instead, her face just grew red. Splotches of anger dotting otherwise flawless skin, fist coiled by her sides. She didn't have the money right now. Not after –

"Linka, my hair!"

A lump swallow in her throat, closed eyes as she rushed through her calming.One, two, three–

"LINKA,"

"One minute, Rosie!"

It was going to be a long day.

She was right, of course. She sat through mind-numbing class after mind-numbing class. Notes were taken with a drying glitter pen – lines and loops not fully connecting but it didn't really matter. There was a good chance she would not remember a lecture about the industrial revolution in Ravka. What did it matter, when all it left in its wake was a crumbling building in Ketterdam where she listened to Mr. Botkin spew historical talking points from the country curriculum? Half the information needed was to be parsed on the single laptop Ana brought home when it was clear that the textbook – first written nearly a hundred years prior – would not do.

And if in the margins, where she should take specific notes on figureheads and notable politicians whose influence died with them, she doodled pictures of dark eyes that welcomed her home every night then…that was her prerogative.

Besides, as the hands on the old clock above the door ticked slowly towards two-thirty, she grew more and more restless. Even the bolt from the building to the gym, nearly a mile away, could not quell her anticipatory movements. Her pen tapped restlessly, her foot moving even faster as she lost the plot of whatever her professor said.

Ring.

Foot met the pavement faster than her teacher could scream after her.The bell doesn't excuse you, would not work. Not today. Not as she sprinted out of the two-story building, cracked sneakers hitting concrete, then asphalt, not even sparing a glance at the parking lot. Malyen and his friends probably didn't even stay after lunch, the old 4Runner long gone from its designated space.

One mile. Ten minutes. Part of her wished she'd taken cardio more seriously, her down days could've been spent on a treadmill (if Matthais was the one working desk at the town’s only planet fitness) or around the school's track. Even if there were cracks in the rubber walkway, sprouting leaves, and grass that the caretakers weren't paid enough to attempt to remove.

It was good, the necessity to move fast. She couldn't feel the wind, scraping through her thin jacket. December air at the base of the mountain, nearly single digits, and yet her windbreaker was her only source of warmth. The cutting edge of air as she attempted to avoid lateness. If she were latehewould notice.

You didn't want him to notice your deficiency.

Her lungs felt like she'd been stabbed, the sudden exertion with no stretching (another thing he'd yell at her for, but the circ*mstances made it unavoidable). But she persisted, ignoring the weight of her backpack and gym bag slapping against her spine with each hurried step.

2:47.

She attempted to slip in, unnoticed as she sprinted to the locker room. Thirteen minutes. Her limbs were a flurry of motion, clothes discarded for her practice leotard, (hand washed every night you didn’t want to waste too much water using the washing machine). Hands and feet powdered with a quickness that couldn't achieve proper usage, wrapped so quickly after she was sure there was probably a step she missed.

She refused to be embarrassed, however. Not as she slipped into the main practice area, her legs perhaps moving faster than normal to get to her stretching corner. She ignored the pointed looks from the redhead, normally so sweet, already in the middle of her stretches. Steadfastly pretended she couldn't hear the dark-haired girl, normally not-so-sweet, muttering about her timing. She could do this. Pretend everything was fine and it wasn't a million-dollar race to even get here. No matter if she was three minutes late.

"Starkov."

She winced, closing her eyes as she leaned into a split. He noticed. Healwaysnotices. Aleksander Morozov may have been an army captain, or a general, with his precision. The way he demanded perfection, and if you couldn't give it to him…well then what use were you?

"Yes, Coach?" She tried to feign confusion, slowly opening her eyes to see the man himself. Dark pools stared impassively into her eyes. Unimpressed. More likely disappointed. Not welcoming as she dreamed of them.

"Is the posted time for practice not in your email?" His voice, neutral in tone, still carried an edge to it. He could be laughing, speaking about his greatest joy, and she would still believe him seconds from brandishing a knife to stab her with. Maybe flay her and eat her.

"It is in my email, coach."

"Then do you simply not respect the time and sanctity of this gym?"

"I do, coach. I'm sorry. It won't happen again."

His arms crossed, the black t-shirt straining against his biceps as he regarded her. She wished she could tell what he was thinking. What he wanted.

"Thirty laps after stretching. You'll work the floor today."

"But it's–"

"Bar is for people who show up on time, Starkov."

Silence. She could feel the eyes on her, other athletes waiting to see what she'd do. But seconds passed, her form unmoving as she looked into those eyes. Sheneededto practice the bar. It was her worst event, and she needed damn near perfection if she wanted to –

It didn't matter. She swallowed her fury, finally tearing her gaze away from stern eyes and leaning into her stretch. When has she ever been able to say no to him anyway?

"Of course, Coach."

Her legs ached. Thirty laps had crossed into thirty-five becausefive of those laps were walked, Starkov. Go again.Her floor routine was in shambles. Simple tumbles had fallen flat, final landings nearly causing her to roll her ankle.

It was two hours of failure. Two hours of hiseyeson her. She felt them hovering on her – as if the other students didn’t need assistance. He didn't have to say a word. Nothing since she began but she f*cking knew. The disappointment was evident when carved into stone, its edges sharper and more biting the more it sets. By the end, her mouth tasted like copper. Her breath came out in pants as she glanced at the clock.

Maybe if she could go one more time, fix her double axle… Her eyes tracked the empty mat, ignoring her fellow athletes leaving the space as she tried to figure out what waswrongwith her.

"Practice is over, Starkov." No dice. She sighed, dropping her hands from her hips in an act of defeat. It was no use begging for more time. Time she didn't have before she had to leave. She was already cutting it close.

"I'm leaving, Coach. I get it." She muttered, not sparing him a glance as she slowly turned and made her way to the lockers.I wouldn't want to keep the disappointment in here either.

She was slower this time, peeling her leotard off in a daze. Her brow furrowed as she thought of every mistake.Sprung too early on the salto, f*cked up the twists, and made itseemlike a salto. Constantly f*cked up the landing, her balance was practically nonexistent.

Her thoughts followed her in a haze as she jogged the next three miles to the city grocery.

Technically, the city had an ordinance on minors working. No teenager in Ketterdam was supposed to work past eleven-thirty, nor lift more than sixty percent of body weight in a work environment, and there were mandatory fifteen-minute breaks per four hours worked. But, working at Brekker Grocery had its…well advantage isn’t quite the word. But it did tend to help you skirt around the ordinances of the city. No official paychecks meant no logged hours, which meant that she could work as late as the store was open (until one in the morning, every night of the week except Sunday when they closed at midnight). It was the only flexible job in town. The only place that would hire her.

"Hey Kaz," she muttered as she strolled inside, past the only other cashier in the store. At leasthedidn’t have a choice. The son of the owner typically gets dragged into these things, whether they want to or not.

“Hey! My dad’s out of town so it’s just me and you tonight.” She had a feeling, not seeing the rusted pickup Mr. Brekker normally drove to the store outside. But, she merely sighed, switching into the red half-apron that was probably older than her. It’s not like she could turn around now.

“So what, did you not go to class today?” Friendly conversation. She could do that.

“Don’t need class when you got street smarts.”

She rolled her eyes, a huff escaping her lips as she walked away from him. Kaz was two years older than her, yet they were in the same grade. She didn’t want to chalk it up to days like this, where Mr. Brekker would disappear and force his youngest to take over. But when it was a constant, something she barely had to ask about, well. It made sense.

Shelves needed to be stocked, and she needed to spend the next…seven hours pretending she was busy. To be fair, she wasn’t certain she was necessary after ten, but who could say no to more cash at the end of the night?

Maybe, if she didn’t open her mouth so much, she would’ve been correct about a slow night. Then she wouldn’t be dealing with a sudden influx of students, out well past their curfews, barging into the store with less than an hour to closing. Where she was forced to stand at the register while Kaz “counted” the closed registers. She didn’t know what exactly he got up to back there. Just knew that her drawer was short once, and after screaming at him for nearly an hour that night, it was never short again. Mr. Breaker wouldn’t fire his son, not for simply skimming what was technically his profits. But he would fire the little foster kid from down the road.

And maybe she needed the job. Maybe she still did. Or maybe it was pride, mixed in her fury.

Either way, the kids in the store gave no reprieve to her night. The sun was long gone, and she could see the sky, opening like a flower in spring. Slowly, then all at once, white powder fell cautiously from above, as if afraid to touch the ground. Deep inhales, then a sigh as she watches it begin to accumulate. Her sneakers had a hole in the sole, something she’d meant to fix this morning before she was so late. Something that would bite her in the ass as she walked back. Ice would seep into her feet, the socks would grow wet, and she’d have to be careful about falling on the ice.

Little things in life provided much relief besides the approach of black grippy shoes, manager’s keys swinging from side to side accompanied by the carefree whistle of someone who lived two minutes from the storefront where they worked. A sound she was all too familiar with, eyeing the lone clock above the entryway. Only one-twenty-three in the morning. Maybe she’d get home before three.

“Alright, sunshine. Get out of here.” She was out of her apron before Kaz finished his sentence, ignoring the shake of his head as she nearly sprinted to get her bag. She could go to sleep, she could rest…

If only. Exiting the grocery store was a nightmare. While the snow fell around her, silent and bright on the dimly lit street, the wind raged. Drastic and powerful, her light jacket was little more than a sheet, wet and soaking mere seconds after stepping foot outside. She held her arms close, hoping beyond hope that her body would provide the barest warmth against the elements.

She walked along the main road for just a few minutes, the street lamps illuminating her path, though as she continued her march south, toward her home and shared bed, She found herself taking more and more steps between each light. Shadows seemed to follow her, clinging to her form with each crunch of her shoe.

The alley, her shortcut behind the town's only bar, was already layered with the week's trash, topped with fresh snow that did little to mask the smell. Her shirt, pulled up and over her nose, was not much better. But soon enough, the hazy blues and reds of The Fold's neon signs reflected off the fallen snow. A welcome sight as she stepped onto the frosted sidewalk.

"Starkov."

She froze, turning to face the bar awning. Or more importantly, the man standing underneath it. He hadn't changed since practice, the same black joggers and t-shirt adorning his body. But his voice was just as sharp, like a predator approaching prey.

Briefly, she wondered how he could stand to stand outside, the bar door firmly shut behind him. But the lit cigarette dangled precariously out his mouth, soft smoke floating like a stream past his face, and it occurred to her that maybe he was in a rush to get outside when he stepped out.

"Coach, I didn't see you there."

He stared at her, dark eyes roaming her underdressed form, the same bags, and jacket from practice on her back.

"You should be more observant," he said, pulling the cigarette from his mouth. " It's dangerous to be out so late."

"Yeah, well, not much of a choice these days," she shot back. She startled at her tone, eyes growing wide as she recognized the annoyance slipping into her words. She clasped her lips shut. Practice tomorrow would likely be torture, should he find himself in a bad mood. Silence stretched between them, encompassed by the air whipping around them.

She shivered, clutching herself tighter as she turned her head to look down the street. Just a few more miles until she was home. Her ears were on fire, reddened by the wind. Her hands tucked precariously into her armpits –a small shield from the growing storm.

“Where are you going?” His voice finally broke, cutting through the wind like a sheet of paper. She sniffed, turning to look back at him.

“Home,” her legs shifted, dancing from setting her weight on one side to the other. Maintain the blood flow, and warm yourself. It was only a few more miles. “Hopefully. Mal has the car and he went out of town. So I was walking. It might be colder than I anticipated earlier.” She paused, eyeing his patient face. It was almost expectant, how he looked at her to explain why she would be out so late, on a Friday, in the middle of a storm.

She bit her tongue, turning her head towards the darkness once more. “I don’t know why I’m telling you this, I should go.”

“Stay right there,” he sounded so sure, dropping his cigarette and stomping it out. The bar door opened in a burst, a flash of movement and suddenly it was like he never even stepped inside. A heavy jacket and keys in hand as he approached her. His hand was warm around her arm, slowly taking her toward a black truck, one she hadn’t noticed before.

“I can walk you don’t have to leave your night,” she protested as he led her to the passenger side. She couldn’t see the face he made, the exasperated look as he opened the door.

“Get in the car, Alina.”

She scrambled into the seat, barely registering the door slam before the driver’s side was opened, the truck rumbling to life at the press of a button. She wanted to huff, but the heavy jacket was placed over her arms, her coach leaning over and pulling the seatbelt across her lap. She tried not to inhale him, the smoke – while fresh – took a backseat to the woodsy undertones of his body wash, still evident even after a long day in Ketterdam.

She watched as he straightened, turning the heat up before jumping out of the car again. The snow, piled on the windshield, slowly disappeared – brushed away with precision. A well-practiced movement, years of living in the mountain town honing skills she’d yet to master. It was almost calming, watching him prep the truck for movement, her body warming to the heat flowing into the cabin. The jacket provided a weight, a smell, that had her sinking into the cool leather of the seat.

“Do you need to tell Ana where you are?” His voice rang as he climbed back in, shaking flakes of snow off of his hands. She shook her head leaning back.

“Rosie is staying the weekend with a friend, so Ana doesn’t really care where I am.”

She felt him tense, the way most people do when they figure it out. She was just a second pair of hands to raise the kids, not a kid in her own home. She sighed, eyeing him carefully.

“It’s okay. Like I don’t mind it.” She tried to explain, tried to push away those feelings. She knew what it was, the pity, the confusion. Not knowing what to do when a teenager tells you that nobody cares. “It gives me a lot of freedom, ya know. Can’t get into much trouble when you’re always busy, right?”

She tried to laugh, but it was met with a furrow of his brow. And it was like he was looking right through her. Right through her words and into the insecurities she shoved deep down. As if he suddenly pieced the jigsaw together, even though he’d been on the edges of it for years. She’d just never let him close enough to see all the pieces.

“Do you do this often?”

“Do what often?”

“Walk home in the middle of the night.”

She could tell he was itching to ask something else. Anything else really. Something more personal, more accusatory of neglect, or how life was unfair. As if she didn’t already know that. As if being the only shu girl (in a town that, despite its proximity, did not seem to care for those over the border) didn’t already teach her this. But she just shrugged, noncommital as she looked out the window at the snow falling again.

She tried to feign indifference as the truck jolted, pulling out of the parking spot to go into the road. Braving elements she was ill-equipped to do on her own. Ignored the rumbling in her tummy as street lights began to change, the soft rumbling of the truck cabin caused her eyes to close, if only for a minute.

“Yes, I’d like to order a deluxe chicken sandwich meal and a ten-piece nugget meal.”

“And what will that be to drink?”

She blinked her bleary eyes awake, surprised at their sudden side adventure. The sleep shook from her bones as she cast him a curious glance. The light from the restaurant illuminated the lines on his face. Sharp edges fell into shadow as he leaned against his car door, speaking to the poor drive-through attendant.

What would it be like to touch the beard on his face?

She didn’t have much brain power, not as he pulled around, money exchanged for food placed on her lap. Drinks were placed in the cup holder. It wasn’t until he pulled into an empty space that she spoke.

“I thought you were taking me home?”

“I am,” he replied, pulling his sandwich from the bag. She looked at him curiously as he began rifling through their food, sauces laid between them as he began to eat.

“You didn’t have to get me anything.”

He swallowed his bite, turning to look at her with a skeptical brow raised.

“Oh, and when’s the last time you ate?”

She opened and closed her mouth, several times, before finally giving up. Honestly, it hadn’t been since she scarfed down that English muffin the morning before, in the sprint to school. Her cafeteria balance didn’t have enough for food this afternoon, and she couldn’t go off campus for anything. Unless she wanted to get stuck walking during lunch too.

Attention turned to the bag, and she tried not to immediately scarf down the hot fries and chicken nuggets. Eating in silence next to the man as he seemed intent on ignoring her growing uneasiness.

“Why are you being so nice to me?” She asked suddenly – after her last nugget was gone and she began placing trash back into the bag within which it came. He shrugged, taking a sip of his drink before slipping his own trash into the bag alongside hers.

“I’m not a monster.”

“You’re not nice either.”

At this, he laughed. Shrugging a bit before looking away from her, out the window at the continued snowfall. For a moment she wondered if he’d taken her to the fast food outside of town, an extra ten minutes away from everything else. It was closer to the highway, it stayed open later. Did he really just get this food because he was hungry? Did he feel bad?

“Demanding precision and dedication from someone with your skillset rarely correlate into niceness, Alina.”

“You called me Alina.”

He turned back to her, dark eyes boring into her own. Part of them made her want to shrink away, a growing darkness that could not only be attributed to the night filling his irises. But the other part of her, a part she rarely wanted to indulge in, was drawn to it. Wanted to explore, and see justwhyhis eyes seemed to both push and invite her in.

“That’s your name.”

“You call me Starkov.”

“Professional context. This isn’t a professional situation.”

She blinked, mind numb at the thought. Non-professional. They weren’t friends. They rarely saw each other outside of the gym. She never thought he'd evenwantto see her in a non-professional manner.

"Of course, I do," Oh. She must've spoken out loud. "But I am your coach, that would be inappropriate."

She scoffed, shoving the last of her fries into her mouth before collecting their trash. Ignoring his amused brow as she unbuckled her seatbelt, switching positions with the trash. They'd been close before. His hands as they adjusted her legs, her arms. Holding her steady before a bar routine, catching her occasionally if she needed it.

But there was something about this – sitting close proximity in a car, fluorescent lights traded for the dim haze of his car radio.

"So because you're my coach we can't be friends?"

"No."

His voice gave no room for leeway. He was resolutely not looking at her, hands firmly in his lap as his eyes gazed into the darkness. She almost felt stricken, as if he'd hit her. Her face framed red as she felt the sting of rejection for something she hadn't even allowed herself to fully want until five minutes ago. Suddenly she wanted to hide – from him, from the snow-capped shadows that encased the car. A lump formed in her throat, a pit the size of her fist blocking her throat as her eyes began to sting with unshed tears.

"Why?" she begged. He shifted as if to lean away from her. As if to leave. Her hand flew out before she could stop herself, grasping his bicep. "I'm eighteen. I can decide who I can and can't be friends with."

He sighed, weighed by whatever plagued his thoughts. His eyes closed as he took a sobering inhale.

"You're only eighteen," he began, the tone of a father chastising a child that didn't understand justwhyyou couldn't have ice cream for dinner. But she didn't want a father. She didn't want to be treated like a kid.

"Yes, I'm eighteen.Ican make decisions for myself."

"That's not what the world thinks, Alina."

She bristled, shifting with ease. Fitting herself in the space between the steering wheel and his chest. His entire body tensed, unwilling to move a single millimeter. Her breath ghosted his nose. His eyes remained clenched. She wanted to smack him and force him to look at her if he was so intent on being a professional. If he was turning her away he better have the audacity to look her in the eye.

"The greatest of champions are not made because of society's expectations, but in spite of them." She stared at his face after she spoke those words. Eyebrows furrowed as he waged war within himself. Her hand came up without thinking, fingers drifting over the crease of his nose. She wanted to bask in the hitch of his breathing, the slight drop of his shoulders as he let her touch him. His hands twitched, indecisive, before her lightly grasped her hips.

"You deserve normal friends," his voice whispered as he shifted her further away. She almost pressed against the horn of the car before her free hand flew to rest on his chest.

"You're –"

"A thirty-five-year-old and an eighteen-year-old are not a normal friendship, Alina." His eyes opened, dark and obsidian as the night. There was an urgency in them. A pleading for her to understand what he was saying. "One of them always wants more than the other."

The pit in her throat returned, double in size as she stared back. She couldn't look away – drawn into his gaze and unable to look away. It was like how his mere presence drew all the attention in the room, but the room was just her.

"Do you think…" she choked on her words, blinking finally as she shifted in his lap. Trying to get right in the middle of wrong. "That you're the only one who wants more?"

His eyes closed again, and he leaned forward as he groaned. A pained exhale as he tried to maintain the rigid composure he had with her.For too long, she thought. Her hands rested on his forearms, eyes staring at the grey leather of the truck wall as his head landed on her chest.

For a moment, she was just there. Feeling his warmth seeping into her bones as he breathed. And it felt right – his hands on her hips, his breath on her chest. The tickle of his hair under her chin. And it was with sudden clarity, like a lightning strike, that she felt her resolve solidify. That she knew whatshewanted. What she needed from him.

"Take me home, Aleksander." She felt him stiffen again, tension evident in him as he attempted to regain composure. Her hand flew to his hair, a soothing thread of her fingers on his scalp. "Your home. I want – please take me to your home."

She didn't move from his lap as he sat back. Instead, she allowed herself to follow his movement, tucking her head into the crook of his neck and shifting her hips closer to his. She relished the slow rumble of the truck, its shaky movements as it backed out of the parking space. Each foot shook the cab as he tried to carefully drive with a girl on his lap in the middle of a snowstorm.

But she didn't mind. Each bump and rumble brought her hips closer to his. Hardness pressed against her center with each movement. She bit her lip, clutching his shoulders as he navigated the streets (hedidchoose the fast food in town after all), but that could not stop the small whimpers she left with each rock of her hips. She barely noticed when they pulled into his driveway. Her hips still moved on their own accord, her whimpers no longer hindered as she mouthed at his neck.

In a flash his hands were back on her, increasing the pressure as he brought her hips down harder. His head flew back, giving her more access as she began to pant. She was encased in the smell of him, woodsy smoke, and a basic soap. Each roll of her hips was a push towards a cliff, the coil inside her tightening with each roll. But it was the sound of him, the low groan in her ear as she moved that sent her over the edge. A small cry left her as she did. The flood of relief filled her body as she clung to him, thighs shaking.

She panted, eyes lidded as she came down. Each limb seemed to come back to her separately. Her toes unclenched, and her fingers slowly released the fabric of his shirt. Each breath renewed her resolve.

"A-Alina," he breathed. He was still hard beneath her, clutching her as if he was afraid she'd run away. "Text Ana you're spending the night somewhere safe."

How he had the wherewithal to think ofthatshe'll never know. And it was obvious that Ana wouldn’t care. But she did as she was told, slowly peeling herself away from his shoulder. She raised her hips slightly, reaching in her pocket for the phone she had for emergencies only.

I'm safe, Coach took me in when he saw me walking in the storm. I'll be home when the roads are clear.

She hissed when he turned the truck off, cabin lights blinding her. But he shifted her off his lap, opened the door, and climbed out. When he turned he offered her his hand, and she blushed as her eyes traveled past it, a noticeable bulge and a small spot of wetness staining his pants where her hips were. She wondered if she had the same stain on her jeans.

He had her in his arms before she could blink, snapping her out of her haze. She barely absorbed the home, another two-story four square. It was better kept than Ana's, even in the dark. Floorboards that didn't creek under the weight of both of them as he carried her – legs wrapped tight around his waist – through the front door.

Her feet were set on solid wood, a brief moment of clarity through the fog as he turned to close the door. A solid click of a lock. And then, his lips were on hers.

Soft, demanding. If she thought she was consumed by him before, this must be what it meant to be devoured. Hands, rough and calloused, cradled her face. His thumb was against her cheek, pulling her closer as if he couldn't get enough. His fervor, all-consuming and suffocating ignites her own. Her hands tangle into the hair at the base of his neck. Her chest pressed to his.

Their bodies moved as if possessed. Hands everywhere as they moved, lips only parting for seconds as shirts flew off with the wind. Legs moved on their own accord, strong arms pushing against furniture from his entire life – blindly leading her to the stairs. But as her ankles hit the first step she fell back, their kiss breaking as she lay on the carpet runner. His eyes were somehow depthless as he gazed at her, eyebrow co*cked as she bit her swollen lips.

"We can go upstairs," he offered. She shook her head no, her hands drifting to the front zipper of her sports bra. His eyes tracked the movement like a hawk, an almost audible gulp forming in his throat.

"T–The living room?" Again she shook her head, her chest bared to him as he knelt. Finally, he was to feel the tightness in his chest, the same twisting feeling she felt in his presence. Breathless and needy as she unbuttoned her jeans.

"No," she nearly whispered. "Here."

His hands shoved hers aside, kneeling in front of her as he pulled at the fabric at her hips. Her jeans and panties disappeared in a flash. He was between her legs in a flash, the edge of the step holding her c*nt to his eye level.

"Such a pretty c*nt," he murmured, leaning forward. She blushed, raising her hands to her face before he looked up. He placed a kiss on her stomach, eyes fluttering as he began to kiss down. "Don't hide from me,malyshka. I've waited long enough for you."

She could barely get a whimper out before he licked a broad stripe down her c*nt.

It was hard to believe, as he feasted hungrily over her. She hadn't known that she could feel sparks fly in her. That her entire body would arch off the staircase as he seemed on a mission for his tongue to find every nerve in her cl*t. There was no feasible way for her to contain the sounds she was making, even if she wanted to.

Her fingers threaded through his hair, tugging and pulling as a finger suddenly filled her. She felt stretched wide. Far more than she could attempt herself during muffled nights, attempting not to wake her sleeping foster sister as she fantasized about eyes darker than the shadows that held her.

And he took his time, working her into a frenzy as he slowly thrust that finger inside her. His tongue continued blatant teasing, almost torture as he pushed her closer and closer to the edge with each stripe. It was overwhelming, a plethora of senses coming together to wind her higher and higher with each passing stroke. She was hardly coherent when she broke, half sobs and moans flowing freely from her mouth as she thanked saints she no longer believed in for his tongue.

He barely let up. His fingers, before one was suddenly two, stretched her already overstimulated c*nt as he rose to kiss her.

The salty tang of his mouth on hers, the juices from her that coated his lips, tasted like ambrosia as his pants met hers – discarded to the wayside as she felt a hardness against her side. Thick and hard as his fingers worked to bring her to that edge again.

"Please Sasha," she whimpered between breaths, hands uselessly clutching at his sides. His fingers found that spot, pressing against her front wall as she shook, ripping a moan from her. He made to pull away, earning him a whine and a pawing at his sides like a kitten when you try to take away their favorite toy.

"Gotta be safe,malyshka," he murmured, attempting to get up again but she just pulled him back.

"Uh uh," she whined, adjusting so he fell right between her legs. His co*ck brushed against her oversensitive cl*t, eliciting a moan from both of them. "Wanna feel you. Is just been you… please, Sasha."

He groaned, a soft nod as he used one of his hands to notch himself at her entrance. Her nails dug into his sides as he began to press inside, his co*ck larger than his fingers prepared here for. She whimpered as he pressed in an inch, only to pull back and press in another. Each time carving a space for himself. Each press split her apart so that she could be molded just for him.

Soon their hips met, an ache scratched as he practically laid on top of her. Chest to chest, nose to nose, he didn't look away from her as he slowly pulled away, only to thrust back into the hilt again. Her breath knocked out of her throat, each thrust removing the air from her lungs and placing it in his as their bodies became one,

"f*ck," he muttered, revenant as he looked down, a bulge in her lower stomach looking suspiciously like the co*ck inside her. " You take me so well, so good for me. Always soperfect."

Each stroke hit something inside her. A stroke to flame, a second wave ( or was it the third? Fourth?) threatening to crash as his hips drove hers into the stains beneath them. There would be marks in the morning. Bruises around reddened skin, signs of how well he filled her. Signs of how little she cared about the pain when the pleasure crescendoed to the clouds. To the home of the saints.

He kisses her, mad and fervently as his pace begins to falter. Hips slam against hips, mouths at war to see who could taste who the most. He snakes a hand, switching all his weight to a side, down her torso to meet her cl*t, causing her to cry out.

"One more, Alina," he panted into her lips. " One more for me."

She was never good at denying him. She'd been following his instruction for nearly four years. And he was always right. Just a few more and her toes curl, lips parted in a silent cry as her body falls apart. The pleasure overwhelms her, turns her brain to static as all she thinks of ishim.

"f*ck, so tight," he groaned, forehead falling to rest on the stair at her head. "All mine,my Aina." It became a chant.His Alina.Over and over until he buries himself to the base, pressing into her so hard she wondered if she’d feel the phantom of his hips long after they separated. But the thought gets washed away with the tide of warmth that fills her c*nt as he fills her more than she thought possible.

Ana doesn't notice her absence for the three days Alina spends in Aleksander's bed. Nor does she notice that Alina no longer spends long nights walking home from the grocers. The woman has no time to, and another foster child was sent to her home during the winter break. A boy this time. And Alina would've helped care for the youngling, had she not been planning her departure.

Less than a hundred and fifty-two days and she would shake off the town of Ketterdam. She would wash away the rust and dust of the city, Os Alta in her sights with a fresh diploma printed in her hands. This time she wouldn't be the only one dreaming of her own gym, a child to hold and eyes dark as the night to welcome her home. She would pack all her belongings in a new duffle bag, purchased as a reward for her acceptance to the Ravkan Olympic team. The bag would get tossed into the back of a black pickup truck, and she wouldn't think about the city again.

#darklina

hibewriter

May 31

Baby, I'm Jealous

Masterlist Read it on AO3

The Rings of Power / Lord of the Rings | Haladriel / Saurondriel | 3.4K | E

Tags:faux-cest | Step-Siblings | Infidelity | P in V Sex

Honestly, she should’ve seen it coming. The days of zero communication, the parties she wasn’t invited to, the f*cking random ‘I love you, sorry I’ve been busy today’ texts. She should’ve known what was going to happen. She should’ve known that it’d all come crumbling down with a ‘Hey girl, sorry to tell you this…’. f*cking bastard.

She inhaled through her nose, trying to remember what it was to breathe as she stared at the texts. One after the other.

Maybe we should go out sometime?

? Oh you have a bf? It’s fine I have a gf we just won't tell.

It’ll be fun :)

The bastard had the audacity to say it’d be fun. As if Celeborn was a catch for the ages.

She huffed, flopping back to her bedspread, the usual comfort of the fluffed pink duvet lost on her as she swiped to the next picture.

A shower, without me? ;)

Who the hell did he think he was? She glared, eyes glassy and red as she swiped. Nearly fifty messages, varying degrees of desperation and horniness to the same account. She wanted to punch something, to stab maybe. Fury radiated through her bones as she thought about it. The audacity. Was she not enough? She could’ve dated any man in Lindon, but shechosehim. And he decided this wouldn’t get back to her.

Incoming call: Disa ❤️

She sniffled, wiping at the tears that refused to come as she sat up.

“He– hello?”

“Galadriel!” The honey–deep voice of her friend came through the phone. Almost a creepy calm came over her as she listened. “What’s the SOS, who do I need to kill?”

“He –sniff–f*cking cheated on me.”

“What? Who?”

She sighed, pulling the phone away from her face and finding the photos again. Taps of her fingers and theswooshof a text message sent, before inhaling a shaky breath and pressing speaker on the call.

“Check your messages.”

Seconds passed, and she could practically hear the restrained anger from her friend on the other line. The deep breaths with each passing word. She didn’t need to see her friend to imagine the fury in her golden eyes, a rage not readily concealed. Not that Disa was known for concealing her feelings. She waits through another pregnant pause, wondering what words will be said to make her feelsomethingelse besides this vile mix of rage and self-pity that she’s been dragged into.

“So,” a surprisingly calm voice came through the receiver. More even than Galadriel could have ever attempted. “Do you want comfort from me, or do you want revenge?”

Now was her own turn to pause. Whatdidshe want? To get rid of this pain in her chest? To break bones? To let fury overcome her as she made Celeborn feelexactlyhow he made her feel? She took a deep sigh, closing her eyes as she contemplated.

"I – I want revenge."

__________

She hesitated outside the door, staring at it with some mix of trepidation and disgust. Disgusted at the boy man on the other side or at what she was about to ask, she couldn’t be sure. But it definitely replaced the self-pity and anger from before. Now the horrible concoction faded its way into nerves, threatening to upend the contents of her stomach all over the carpeted floor.

Deep breaths, Galadriel. She inhaled, not bothering to knock as she steeled her resolve and opened his door.

“Halbrand,” she called out, voice more confident than she felt. She didn’t want to meet his gaze, but it was inevitable as he turned in his desk chair to face her.

“Gal-gal,” she instantly regretted even thinking of asking him, glaring at him. Not that he seemed fazed by her withering stare. She’d caused grown men to cry in her classes when fixing the same glare toward them. But Halbrand seemed only amused by her ire, a self-righteous smirk firmly in place as he twirled a pencil in his grasp.

“Don’t call me that,” she snarled, crossing her arms.

“Fine. What is it you need,my queen?” He seemed on the verge of laughter at her continued glower.This was not the mood she needed.

“For f*cks’ sake I was going to ask you something but you can’t even go five seconds without being insufferable.”

“No, I can’t. Not for you.” She wanted to hit the smirk off of his face. “What can I help you with, oh shining beacon of light?”

Glares were useless, but she swore that if looks could kill… Or maybe if she had a dagger. Her step-brother would be bleeding out on the floor in a flash.

“I can see this was a mistake.” She turned on her heel, prepared to go down the hall, call Disa back, and tell her they needed another plan. But quicker than a flash, a hand was wrapped around her wrist, pulling her back into a solid chest. A soft woosh of air escaped her mouth as she collided with him, her arm pinned uncomfortably behind her.

“No, no.” His mouth was hot against her ear, and she squirmed. A futile attempt at getting away from him. “You don’t get to barge in my room, stop myvery importantwork, and expect me to let you go without even telling me why.”

She huffed, slamming her lips closed as he spoke. She could glare at the wall outside his room for hours if she had to. His other hand came to grasp her chin, tilting it up so she was forced to make eye contact with him over her shoulder. It wasn’t particularly comfortable, and she still wanted to slap him.

“Just tell me and I’ll let you go.”

His eyebrows raised expectantly, taunting her with his steady gaze. It made her want to squirm.

“Celeborn cheated on me.”

A small widening of his eyes. If it were a different situation she would’ve smirked, satisfied with shocking him. But instead, she waited, face blank as she met his gaze.

“...and what does that have to do with me?”

“I – needed your help.”

“I’m not going to jail over Celeborn.”

She rolled her eyes. He had loosened his grip on her, slightly. Enough that she could lean slightly away and her arm would no longer hurt.

“I’m not asking you to. I just…wanted to make him jealous.” She ripped her head away from his hands, breaking the intensity of his gaze as she felt the burning of her cheeks. She nearly toppled over when he let her go, stumbling before catching herself in his doorway.

"How?"

"How what?" She huffed, annoyed. She blew air at her face, trying to move the blonde strands that fell forward.

"How did you want to make him jealous?"

Oh. That. She shook her head, refusing to turn back and face him.

"Doesn't matter. I'll just break up with him."

"And you think that's proper revenge? You think that will hurt him?"

She turned – Halbrand's neutral expression was somehow a taunt. It felt like a trap, no matter what she did. Storming away seemed like another way to satisfy his smug pretentiousness. Staying somehow felt worse. She frowned as he stepped closer, slowly crowding her against the doorframe.

"So what went through that pretty little head, hm?" An arm of his reached out, swiping her phone from her pocket so quickly she felt whiplash. "What plan did you and…let me guess, Disa? What did you come up with?"

She was frozen, by anger, fear, or shock she couldn't tell. She just knew she could only watch horrified as Halbrand put in her code,which he apparently knew, unlocking her phone and navigating the perfectly sorted apps with ease. It was like watching a bomb count down as he scrolled, not taking but a millisecond to find her conversation with Disa.

If she were a betting woman, she'd say his eyes grew darker as he read the ill-conceived plan. His gaze traveled slowly from the phone to her, as if seeing her for the first time. She didn’t like the expression in his eyes. Was it curiosity? A desire long buried since their parents wed, forcing them to be close but never close enough? Whatever it was, it paused time. Seconds dragged to hours, a minute felt like a year, and all he did was stare. At her, at the picture in her phone, theideathat she had concocted with Disa.

All of it out in the open as she stared back. She wanted to scream, to shake him, and force him to open his mouth. But if he was silent she didn’t have to accept the inevitable embarrassment. The stinging rejection of someone shedidn’t even want.

“You were going to ask me to do this?”

She bit her tongue. How could he sound socalm? A mild curiosity at best. Did he just not care? About anything? Or was he just better at pretending than she was?

“Well,” she averted her eyes, swallowing thickly. She hated the small whine her voice took on, embarrassment seeping into every word. “Like I said it wasobviouslya bad –”

“Okay.”

“Okay?”

“Yes, okay.” He said it like it was a fact. As if this was just something siblingsagreedto do. “If I were dating someone it’d certainly piss me off to see my girlfriend like this with another man. Give me like…ten minutes.”

Unceremoniously he gently nudged her out the door, putting her phone into her dumbstruck hands. Before closing the door behind her, leaving her much as she arrived. Staring at the piece of wood wondering about the man on the other side.

___________

“Ready?”

She bolted up from her position, staring at him. He’d taken his shirt off, and left in just black gym shorts. Her eyes fell from his face to his waist, the thick black band of his boxers just barely visible over the stretchy material of his shorts. She swallowed thickly, meeting his eyes and nodding again. She didn’t want to think about the knowing smirk on his face as she stood.

The bathroom, so large all her life, was suddenly the size of a broom closet in her mind. Halbrand’s heat at her back pressed into her skin, even through the thin fabric of her tank top. She jumped at his hands touching her waist, where her shirt met the edge of her shorts.

“For the picture to work, princess, this is gonna have to come off.” He was so close to her, breath tickling the hair next to her ear as she bit her lip.Deep breaths, Galadriel.She swallowed thickly, nodding her acquiescence as the pads of his fingers hooked underneath the fabric. She wondered if he was taking his time to torture her. Inch by inch he raised the thin fabric, bunching it and tugging it until she raised her arms, and suddenly she barred to him. Automatically, she wrapped her arms around her chest. She was in the mirror in front of them, the smirk as his hands, wrapped so fully around her wrists, came to pull hers away.

“I’m going to have to see them, Galadriel.”

Her face heated, nodding as she reached forward and grabbed her phone, opening up the camera. She purposefully didn’t look at his face. She didn’t want to know what he thought of her chest, or how her nipples pebbled at the cool air before his palms came to engulf her breast in heat. The phone in front of her face did little to hide the blush that began to creep up her neck. Her fingers fumbled sweetly as she tried to concentrate on opening the app and not the fact that her stepbrother was holding her breast in his hands.

A sudden jolt ran through her as he shifted, no longer engulfing her breast as he used his thumb and index finger to pinch at her nipples. She squeaked, nearly dropping her phone and jumping away from him.

“Halbrand!” She attempted to squirm, but he held her still against him, not bothering to stop his ministrations.

“What?” As if he wasn’t touching her. More than she agreed to anyway. “You looked nervous. You need to look turned on.”

“You didn’t even ask,” she huffed, before biting back a moan as he continued his practiced movements.

“Do you not like it?” His voice felt deeper as he leaned forward, abandoning her left breast to snake down her front towards her shorts. “Do you need me to help you?”

She wanted to shake her head, say no. But instead, she was being pressed into the counter as she felt a warmth on the hollow of her ear.

“Don’t worry, I got you.”

She couldn’t bite back the moan that tore itself from her throat as he slipped his hand down the front of her shorts. Quickly finding her slit, causing her hips to press back into his as his fingers began to search, feeling her wetness with expert strokes of his fingers. He found what he was looking for, that little bundle of nerves that made her nearly drop the phone again. He pressed against it, circling it as she felt her body come alight.

She could only grip the counter with her free hand as he played her like a fiddle, letting out a loud gasp as he began to slide further down, inserting his finger into her. He let out a hiss, something she almost relished before he pressed his hips into hers. She felt it, hardness at her backside as he fingered her. His movements gently coaxed those embarrassing sounds out of her –her eyes slamming shut as she felt the tight coil beginning to wind in her belly.

She could’ve killed him once he removed his fingers, so close to the precipice. She cried out as he hauled her back up, hands returning to cup her breast.

“Come on, take the picture,” his voice was ragged, deep, and out of breath as he held her. She bit her lip, bringing her phone back to its old position as he straightened. She leaned her head against his shoulder, closing her eyes at the fake shutter sound from the picture snapping.

“Let me see.”

She didn’t even fight, raising the phone slightly for him to see.

“You can still see our shorts.”

“I mean it has to get –”

She dropped her phone this time, Halbrand’s hands moving with quickness as he immediately tugged down her shorts, getting them past her waist before he let them fall to the floor. She blushed, trying to move to grab them off the ground again while he moved. But she was being pressed forward, a gentle hand at her back pushing her into the counter.

She could see in the reflection of the mirror, his hand at her back while he tugged his shorts and boxers down one-handed. Her mouth dropped open when she saw his co*ck come out before he guided it to rest in between her ass cheeks. He grabbed her phone, dropped just next to her, before pulling up the camera.

“This is a better picture, don’t you think?” She should’ve shaken her head, should’ve said no as she felt him thrust between her cheeks, coating the underside of his co*ck with her own desire. She should’ve done a lot of things, shoved him away, and ran out of the bathroom. Asked her mom if she could go live with her father far away from Halbrand and his devil hands.

But instead, she bit her lip, nodding slightly as the sound of the shutter filled the space. Once, twice, his co*ck nestled perfectly in her ass as he clicked photo after photo.

“Hmmm,” he hummed, as if deep in thought and not rubbing himself on his sister.Step-sister.

“Wh-what?”

“I think we can make this a bit better.” She shook, scrambling to stand but his hand kept her pressed forward. “Don’t worry it won't hurt.”

“Halbrand, wh-what are you trying to do?”

“Don’t worry, it’ll just be the tip.”

She shook her head, hands scrambling at the counter as she felt the panic rise in her chest.

“Wait, no - I haven’t…”

She bit her lip as he placed the phone on one of her cheeks, using his now free hand to guide his head to her opening.

“Not even with Celeborn?” he asked, eyebrow quirked in curiosity. She shook her head, no. Her eyes pleaded with his in the mirror.

“I wanted to be in love.” She thought his face softened, a bit of sympathy from him for sure. But then she felt the stretch, a slight pinch as he pushed. He kept his eyes on hers as if waiting for her to scramble away. But his hips stopped, and she just felt herself, stretched wide onhimas he held her still.

“You don’t love your big brother?”

“I – I,” she scrambled, his hips pushing again, and she was beingfilled. She thought she was fine, whole, and intact, but Halbrand made space for himself where there was none. Pushing, pushing, pushing until his hips connected with hers and all her thoughts fell to the wayside as she was just consumed with his co*ck filling her. The stretch, the pain, caused her to whimper as he held still.

“You do, don’t you?” he murmured, phone falling off of her as he grasped her hips with both hands, finally letting her prop herself up on the counter. She could’ve tried to push him off, make him leave as he nestled his head in her shoulder, kissing the bare skin. She bit her lip, determined not to say a word.

“You love your big brother, even when he does things likethis,” he groaned, pulling his hips back only to thrust back into her. Her mouth hung open, she should’ve closed her eyes, but she could look away from his own, staring at her as he began a slow rhythm. Each draw of his hips took away the pain of being filled for the first time, replaced with a sick sweetness. A rising pleasure caused her to cry out, eyes finally slamming shut as he just took each sound from her.

“f*ck, yes, Halbrand,” she cried, his lips moving to kiss her neck as his pace increased. The bathroom filled with the sound of flesh on flesh, her soft whimpers, and his groans as he crowded her against the sink. One of his hands left her hip, moving forward to come again at her cl*t as she whined, head dropping forward as she felt her org*sm approaching.

She didn’t want him to stop, all thoughts rushing from her brain out of her open mouth. Tears accumulated as he kept filling her, over and over until she was shaking. Her limbs tightened, her body clenching around his co*ck as she fell over the edge, his groans accompanying her as she slumped forward again. She barely caught herself on the sink before he began to lose his rhythm, his hips barely leaving hers as if he could bear to be away from her heat for more than a second.

Distantly, she could hear her own voice, drowned out by her step-brother’s grunts of pleasure.Not inside, not inside. She knew she needed to stop him, to ask him to pull out. But as her hand flew back, pushing at his hip, he simply grabbed her wrist, tugging so she arched into him. Her second org*sm crashed through her, a shock and unannounced as she seized up. Tears caught in her eyes and then she felt it.

The warm sensation of being filled. Halbrand’s hips slowed until he merely held himself to her, his co*ck pushing his spend back inside. She didn’t want to think, couldn’t, as the haze settled in around her. Their breaths came out in pants, sweat sticking to their bodies as they came down from that high. Several minutes passed, Halbrand leaning carefully against her. She could already feel the bruises forming where he gripped her, where the sink edge bit into her thighs, but she still couldn’t bring herself to care.

___________

New Voicemail: Celeborn

“Hey babe, sorry I’ve been off the grid. Remember Celebrimor’s party? The one me and Halbrand went to like…three weeks ago? Yeah, I lost my phone, sorta been flying solo without it. Call me back, we’ll get sushi and you can catch me up on all I missed. Alright, love you, bye.”

#haladriel#saurondriel

hibewriter

May 31

Holiday Party

Masterlist Read it on AO3

Shadow & Bone | Darklina | 4.9K | E

Tags:Non-Con | Dub-Con | Age Gap | Daddy Kink | Hotel Sex

From:[emailprotected]

To:[emailprotected]

Subject: Holiday Party

Come one, come all! We are so excited to have you for the Shadow Fold Agency's fiftieth-holiday extravaganza luncheon at the Little Palace Hotel in downtown Os Alta. All festivities are on the third floor.

Please remember that valet parking is complimentary! You will receive a validation ticket at registration in the beginning. Final information attached! Remember, the only thing required of you is to HAVE FUN!!!

Have fun.

Yes, because there was nothing more fun than cramming into the halls of Os Alta's nicest hotel, surrounded by hundreds of people she barely knew, for the off chance of a thirty-dollar gift card. Okay, that wasn't necessarily true. It could be a substantial gift card.

But Alina Starkov had only started at the agency in November, and she was already positive her boss (creative director and all-around hard ass, Mr. Morozova) hated her. But that won't stop her from dawning her favorite ugly sweater (lined with various puppies intended to be reindeer), a soft puffer jacket, and her favorite sparkly bag. At least the event was at a hotel. If she makes any more of a fool of herself, she'll at least be able to drink her sorrows away after.

It was just like she expected, arriving just as the sky opened up, rain pelting her car as she waited in the long line of cars attempting to valet at the skyscraper of a hotel. She was only grateful the valet area was under an awning protecting the attendants as she slipped out, quietly joining the throng of coworkers she'd never seen enter the building. Faceless attendants maneuvered them through the lobby like hoards of cattle, not giving pause to be able to gape at the extravagant decor before being filtered into the elevators up, up, up.

She barely registered the rush. The ticket was handed to her, moving with the throng towards the h'ordeuvres set-out. Faceless attendants passed around strange-looking finger foods while Alina tried not to seem too eager to make a beeline to the champagne bar. Only to groan at the selection. Sparkling grape juice. Now, Alina was no drunkard. But a drink to calm her nerves didn't seem like too big an ask. Yet, as she contemplated an exit strategy without being noticed, she heard her name, called loudly and brightly through the reception hall.

Genya.

She adored the team web designer, truly. But, Alina couldn't help but smother her quickly fading chances of escape as it appeared the others on her team had also arrived. David, her kind email manager that frequently got lost explaining the nuances of their system to her. Nikolai, someone she had yet to figure out exactly what he did, but surely it was something. But, luckily, no boss man.

“Oh my god, have you been here long?” Genya’s breathless words came out in a flurry, her hands hurriedly grabbing her own sparkling flute. Even with the dreary weather outside. It was with a shake of her head that Genya seemed satisfied, launching into her own story about her journey to the building, barely pausing for breath as the rest of the group crowded around. It was a breath of fresh air when the ballroom doors opened, tables set to take in the influx of people.

For a moment, she thought her boss just simply wouldn’t arrive as her team seemed to crowd at a singular table. Small conversation as the room settled, waiting to be called towards the buffet lines on either side of the large space. But, to her shock, a steady hand appeared at her back, the other pulling a chair out while her eyes widened and her back went ramrod straight.

“Apologies,” muttered to her in an all-too-familiar voice. Deep and relaxing as a honey-molasses bath, yet cutting when the owner’s ire was directed towards you. Aleksander Morozov had only chastised her once in the month she’d been at the company, but she much preferred to never hear that voice again. In fact, she definitely preferred the more demure tone he took as he sat next to her. Each other seat was taken, and she tried to relax, avoiding Genya’s playful eye.

She’d never been so relieved for people to start going to get food. She tried not to let it show, tried not to run towards the food on the opposite end of the room.

"If you get any more nervous you'll throw up. And the food actually looks good." Genya's voice soothed, falling into step with her as they passed through the line.

"I don't do well with crowds," she muttered. She wasn't paying attention to the foods she piled on her plate, an assortment of vegetables and starches, only catching herself at the turkey in ham. Genya, for her part, only hummed.

"Yeah, Aleks is the same way. He only arrives when he has to." At this she wanted to laugh, glancing down the line to see the normally stoic Morozov in a quiet conversation with another department head. It was hard to imagine him nervous about anything. But she quickly brushed the notion aside, slipping back into her seat.

The food was delicious, once the table sat again. She was happy to have something to preoccupy her mouth as she tried, and failed, to not halt conversation with the topics available.

No, no family to see so I'll just be home.

My foster brother might come to town, but he might have better things to do.

No New Years' plans, thank you for the invitation, Genya.

By the time the raffles came and went, several of her coworkers winning prizes, she was far more comfortable. She was able to keep her eyes down, muttering small thank yous as hotel staff came to clear their plates. Pouring small fills of actual champagne, a light toast about the success of the agency. Words were lost to her as they spoke of unmatched talent and teamwork involved in bringing in record profits. A voyeur claiming credit for others' hard work.

It was a relief when it ended. The throngs of people were almost robotic as everyone slipped out of the room. A muffled conversation full of small talk and cliche jokes about coworkers she didn’t know. A huff as she shuffled with the crowd, somehow getting split from her department as quickly as she got to the elevators. Silently grateful to not pretend to smile and nod to more stories.

She needed a drink.

Or several. Stepping out of the elevator and already seeing the valet line beginning to curve through the lobby of the hotel, impatient faces and tapping shoes waiting for service. She pursed her lips, eyes scanning the space before abruptly turning towards the hotel bar. The line was shorter, and there was sitting room at the actual bar. A perfect opportunity.

A seat as far away from the entrance as possible, nearly hidden at the edge of the bar. She lowered her head as more seemed to take her idea, the small area suddenly full of other festive partygoers were ready to take full advantage of the early afternoon off.

"Mind if I join you?"

Her head snapped up, the soft article nearly forgotten as her eyes made eye contact with her boss. She could swear they were fully black in the low bar lighting. Sudden dry mouth as she swallowed, a small smile as she gestured to the seat next to her. She glanced down the bar, the buzz-cut bartender slowly shaking the same shaker he'd begun with. The patron in front of him looked no less thirsty than when she sat.

It was silent between them, minutes passing before they watched the barkeep set a drink down in front of someone. Only to watch the patron frown, mouths fixing, even over the low murmur.I actually ordered a margarita? This looks like a gimlet.A sigh ripped from Alina’s mouth as she watched the barkeep begin again.

"It seems we might not get a drink anytime soon," Aleksander murmured. She turned to him, noticing his eyes already fixed on her face. It was like he was thinking, trying to determine his next action.

"At the risk of alerting HR," he leaned forward as if telling her a secret. "Would you happen to want to go to a quieter bar? Perhaps get quicker service?"

And maybe it was her desperation for a drink. Maybe it was the honey-smooth baritone of his voice. Maybe it was the one champagne glass, nearly twenty minutes ago now. Or maybe it was her finding a little courage to talk to her boss one-on-one without him yelling at her. Whatever it was, she found herself bundled in her coat, looking at her boss searching the street signs to find his bearings. Though it did not take him long, seeming to have a map of Os Alta's downtown burned into his mind's eye.

"Hmm, this way," he claimed. He grasped her elbow, lightly, and she found herself following his long strides. Her little legs struggled to keep up until the first intersection, where he was forced to stop and look down at her panting face. One look at her face, inflamed from the brisk city air, and he was moving.

"You're freezing," he said, slipping his scarf off his own neck. Any protest she had died on her lips as black cashmere met her cheeks. Instant warmth with faint notes of amber and spice filled her nose before he took her hand and started navigating them through the crosswalk.

She tried not to notice the change in hand placement. She blamed the fire in her cheeks on the scarf.

"How are you settling?" He asked at the next crosswalk, pausing for a breath as cars began to zip down the street. She did her best attempt at a shrug, willing her heart to slow down. A brisk walk would do that to a person, she was sure.

"Good," she huffed, slightly muffled by his scarf. "Not used to walking so fast." At this, his eyes crinkled, as if she told a joke.

"I meant in your role, but we can slow down." She could no longer blame her flamed cheeks on the wind, ducking her head further into herself to avoid his gaze.

"Oh! Um, good. Good, I think. A little stressful sometimes. But in a good way! I'm still trying to figure out my flow, I think. And it doesn't help that I spend so much time talking to Tante. I think we just need to get used to each other but also I think that maybe it'd be better if things weren't so jumbled. She doesn't follow any of the procedures that I have and I just want to get aligned on the same page! I dunno, maybe I should – oh my God I'm rambling."

At this he did laugh, fingers gripping hers, tight as he began to lead her through the freshly changed crosswalk. Slower than before, she noticed. Her legs no longer screamed at her from overuse.

"Don't worry, Alina," he finally spoke once across. Humor was still littered in his voice, a sound she found she very much liked. "Tante has had her fair share of…moments in the office. We'll try to get things better aligned."

"Is that fancy corporate speak for you don't like her very much?"

Even the layers of scarf could not hide her smile at his laugh. Strange how just five minutes ago she thought to crawl into her own skin to hide from his presence. She didn't even mind that he didn't answer, simply guiding her to a small door along a brick-lined building. The rusted sign proclaiming the tavern to be called The Cut. The oldest bar in Os Alta.

Immediately she welcomed the warmth of the haggard place. Worn wood with scribbles of marker and neon signs surrounded by glass, steel, or shelving lined with alcohol she still felt uncomfortable trying to decipher their names. Suddenly, she felt homey. The low lighting cast a warm glow, even though the bar barely had more than ten people in it – slow on a Thursday afternoon.

Reluctantly, she detangled herself from the scarf and coat, hanging them gingerly on her chair. A slide into her seat, held out for her by hands stronger than hers. Hands larger, ones that she could only glance at before shying away, lest her thoughts turned unsavory.

“This is a nice place,” she said, smiling as the new bartender (a small girl with pigtails and a black t-shirt with the bar logo on the breast pocket) caught her eye. He opened his mouth, seemingly about to speak before the bartender approached.

“Sasha, this isn’t your usual time,” the girl spoke, pulling two tumblers seemingly out of nowhere.

“Zoya,” he shrugged, leaning back in his seat. “We decided to grab a drink.” The girl, Zoya, turned to Alina with a roll of her eyes.

“It’s like he’s never had manners in his life. I’m Zoya, you must be…”

“Alina.”

“Alina. Well, it’s lovely to meet you, Alina.” Did she imagine a glance at Aleksander? A joke she wasn’t a part of? She swallowed, a tight smile in response.

“Now, I know this boring man wants an old fashioned, what can I get you?”

A small order for a simple vodka soda, handed with a speed Alina was sure would never have been achieved at the hotel. Sips in silence while she attempts to figure out just how often he came to this bar to be on a first-name basis with the bartender in the middle of the day. More than a first-name basis. She called himSasha.

“So,” she sputtered, choking a bit on her drink before not-so-smoothly recovering. “I’m guessing you’re a regular?”

“You could say that. I’ve been coming in and out for around twenty-five-ish years.” His eyes twinkled in the light of the bar as he watched hers widen. She wondered if the mental gymnastics she was doing were self-evident on her face, a blush creeping back up her neck as she attempts to school her features. Evidently failed by his chuckle.

“I’m only forty-three,malyshka,” he murmured. She nearly choked on her vodka, sipping the rest of the cup as she tried to feign polite surprise. It was evident now, the soft grays streaking at his temples. She cleared her throat, trying not to cough from the sudden warmth flooding her chest. She didn’t drink her vodka soda was that strong, but she guesses she could be wrong.

“You’ve been coming here since you were…eighteen?” She questioned, startled at the silently placed refill in front of her. She picked it up, looking at him over her glass as she sipped.

“I never said I was the best kid,” he responded, taking a sip of his own drink.

“So you’re telling me you’re just a bad old man? Bad kids grow into bad adults.” His eyebrows raised, shock and amusem*nt written over his features. Part of her was proud to render him speechless. The other, still sober part, took a second to register exactly what she said. That part suddenly became mortified.

“I mean, not to say thatyouare bad, like just a ‘haha oh bad kid bad adult’. I didn’t mean thatyouI – um, I–”

“Relax,malyshka.” He interjected with a huff of laughter. “You’re not in trouble. Though I assume it depends on who you ask if I’m a bad man or not. I like to think I just go after what I want. Drinks included.”

She swallowed, suddenly realizing the relaxed drape of his arm on the back of her chair. His knee, pressed softly against the side of her seat, nottouchingher but close enough to feel the heat. His eyes, dark and heady as he used his free hand to sip his drink, not wavering from her face.

“What –”what if something gets in your way?“What does that word mean?”

“Malyshka?It means baby girl in Russian.”

Blaming alcohol was probably no longer viable. The blush across her face, the heat in her chest.

“Why ‘baby girl’? I can be an adult.”

“Yes, but I’m old enough to be your father, so you can see why I might be inclined to refer to you as a baby, no?”

She stared, swallowing in her suddenly dry mouth. He seemed unaffected – as if this were a normal thing to say on a first outing with a subordinate. But she…

“I need to, um, go to the bathroom.” Standing to break whatever spell he’d cast on her seat. She followed his silent gesture to a hallway in the back of the bar, trying not to sprint away.

The bathroom, graffitied and grimy, a small space with two stalls, was just big enough to catch her breath. She leaned over the sink, letting her breathing calm. The muted beating of the bar music flowed in, filling her head. She felt dizzy. She feltdrunk. She swore they'd only been gone an hour. Maybe an hour and a half. But her stomach was in knots, twisting and coiling as her mind repeatedI'm old enough to be your father.

She knew what it was. The burgeoning of a crush, wholly inappropriate, likely to end in disaster if he ever knew. Not that she felt particularly stealthy thus far. He was just kind, reassuring, and funny. Just because he looked out for her for one afternoon meant nothing. It was nothing.

She repeated her mantra. Nothing nothing nothing, as she splashed her face with water from the sink. She patted her face dry, trying not to smudge any of her eyeliner and shadows. The mirror, covered in stickers and soap scum, did little to convince her she wasn't a walking mess. She frowned, noting the tinsel in one of her reindeer drops from its pom pom nose.

Get it together, Lina. It's just drinks with your boss.

She sighed, exiting the room and back into the hall. Back to Aleksander.

It was almost enough to make her smile, his relaxed posture at the bar. His cheeks had just the barest hint of a flush, mostly hidden by the dark hairs of his beard. Though he wasn't paying attention to her, a stranger leaning against the top spoke in a hushed tone. She watched for a moment, following the polite bored expression Aleksander wore as the man continued to speak. Until he leaned forward, offering his own words. Which caused Aleksander’s eyes to light up for a second, before the two broke into a small laugh.

She wiped her hands against her skirt as she approached, ignoring the flip in her belly when her boss turned his attention to her.

"Ah, Alina. This is Tolya, he used to work in your position."

She extended her hand, a soft smile gracing her lips at the introduction. Before the man, Tolya, launched into a diatribe about how muchbetterit was to be working independently with his sister. She tried to nod and follow along with the winding story, but soon she found herself on her third, then fourth, drink. Polite nods and “hmm, how interesting”s could only go so far. It was only a slight relief when Zoya came back, pulling Tolya from the conversation to the other end of the bar with excuses of needing input on a new event they were creating.

It was Aleksander’s sigh of relief that broke her into a smile, a small giggle escaping her lips before she placed her own hand over her mouth. He smiled at her, and she felt like in one of her romcoms when the world would fall away as the two made eye contact.

"Do you –"

"Do you –"

They both paused, a soft laugh escaping them. He gestured to her to continue, sipping the last of his drink.

"I was just, ahem. I was just wondering if you'd want to start heading back," she whispered, suddenly aflush. "I mean, to escape the downtown traffic! I'm sure it's going to be a nightmare being right before the holiday and –"

"Shhh, Alina. It's fine, I was going to suggest the same." He stood, and suddenly he seemed so tall. Like a giant ready to pick her up. Was she biting her lip? Her feet felt foreign as she stood too quickly, attempting to match his pace. His hand was on her in a flash, steadying her at the elbow before righting her.

She stood still, almost in a haze, as he slipped her coat back on her shoulders. She thanked the stars, her eyes only widened slightly as he wrapped the scarf back around her face, his smirk a dangerous thing in a blurry sea of color and sound. Her drinks weren't that strong, were they?

She hardly remembered him ushering out the door, his two fingers raised in goodbye to Zoya. He must have a tab. Thoughts swam as they walked, her small stumbles prevented by his somehow steady presence. Soon, she was clutching his waist, giggling at words that surely meant something. Crosswalks faded until they arrived at the hotel, smooth steel and golden accents a familiar warmth. Though the area was much quieter, the throngs of coworkers were mostly gone. Few, however, were still in the bar area, nursing drinks that took far too long to arrive.

"Are you sure you're okay to drive,malyshka?" Was his voice always so soothing? She leaned on his shoulder, eyes closing as she tried to get the world to stop being so spinny.

"Hmmm," she hummed, breathing in the stronger version of his scent. Fresh from his exposed collar, perfect for her head. "Maybe I should sit down for a bit."

"Nonsense, I have a room," his voice was a deep rumble in her ear. So close yet so far, was she floating? "Let's get you some water and lay you down, hm?"

And didn't that sound nice? He'd take her upstairs, and she could lay on a soft mattress for a few minutes. She didn't quite remember voicing her agreement, just the feeling of his hands leading her to the hotel elevators.

The room was nice. Far nicer than she would've, or could've, booked for herself. She tried not to stumble as he led her through the living room area. She giggled when she failed, clutching his shoulders. But he just smiled, holding her waist as he led her into the bedroom.

Soft downy embraced her as she fell onto the bed, giggles escaping uncontrollably as she did. It was sonice. Felt so good. At first, she didn't notice his hands, soft against her tights, her calves. Until her shoes were being pulled from her feet, a soft hum when they fell off. That was so much better anyway.

Another giggle burst from her lips when his thumb pressed into the arch of her foot. Soreness faded away, but his hands did not. Slowly climbing her legs, rubbing the sore muscles away.

"Mmm, d-daddy that feeellls g-good," she sighed into the mattress, letting him work his fingers.

"Daddy, huh?" Amusem*nt filled his voice, hands digging into her thighs. She giggled again, it was so funny for some reason. Everything felt so light.

"You s-said you were old enough to be my d-daddy, don't you wanna?" She mumbled, relishing the way his hands pressed into her.

"Of course,malyshka. Daddy will make you feel real good." She didn't know what he meant, head fuzzy as he drew soft whimpers from her mouth. But she felt it. Hands climbing higher, under her skirt to her hips.

"Mhm, wha–"

"Shh,malyshka,let daddy work."

She could only hum as she felt him tug at the band of her tights. Just a few before they were rolling down her legs, a soft tingling in their wake from the compression finally releasing. She felt him lift away her skirt, down down her legs it went. A soft shiver ran down her spine as the room's AC made contact with her bare ass.

Had he taken her panties too?

She went to move, to sit up, but she felt soheavy. And the bed was so soft. She could only lie there as he maneuvered her arms up, and suddenly she was bare to him. Her sweater was removed with quickness, her bra gone faster. She shivered, the room was so cold. She tried to turn her body, into the covers and warmth.

“Daddy, don’t look” she cried, her hands flying up to cover her bare chest.

“Why?” He muttered, leaning over her. He grabbed her wrist, pulling them away and up. She wondered briefly if his eyes had always been so dark. She bit her lip, squirming under the intensity of his gaze. “You look so pretty like this, like a kitten. Maybe I should call youkisa, hm?”

And the room spun at his words. A whine escaped her lips as he leaned back, but her eyes widened as she watched him remove his own clothes.

“See, we’re even now,kisa.” Her lip almost bled, as he nudged her knees apart, exposing her c*nt to his gaze. It was unreal, the sudden heat she felt as his co*ck falls between her legs. He angles her hips higher above his knees, his head rubbing deliciously against her cl*t.

“So wet, I’ve barely even touched you,” he murmured. More to himself than her, but she still felt her c*nt clench from the way he spoke. Breathless, ragged as he spread her wetness around her cl*t. Her hips squirmed against the sensation, soft whimpers flowing out of her with each pass. “I think you can take me just like this, can’t you?”

“Uh-huh,” she attempted to nod her head. She could. Shewould.

The first notch of his co*ck into her caused her breath to rush out of her. It was unreal, the stretch from just his head as his thumb came to her cl*t in its stead. A soft curse left his breath as he began to push. An inch, then out, then in deeper. He was carving a space for himself within her, her body yielding to his assault.

“So tight for me,” he muttered, lost to the sensation. Before he pulled out just enough, before snapping his hips to hers, fully seated inside of her. She keens, high as her hands fly to grab his forearms. Her nails dug into his skin as he began a slow rhythm, punishing her c*nt with each thrust.

Soon the stretch turned to something different, purer as she began to feel a coil deep inside her. She nearly cried when he fell forward, changing the angle and hittingjust right. He was so heavy, a radiator against her skin as he moved, forcing her to just take take take. All she can do is moan and cry for him to never stop.

“Daddy please, please,” she cried, trying to match his thrust with her hips. Until he leaned back just enough to look her in the eye, hips moving faster inside her. His eyes crazed, the sound of her sucking him in almost too much as she makes to grab at his face.

“What is it,malyshka?Tell daddy what you need, I’ll give it to you.”

“A kiss daddy, please?” She didn’t care that she was whining. She’d stared at his lips for too long, all day. The past month, watching as he spoke down to those who did wrong, desperate for his words to infect her space. A cry broke from her mouth, swallowed by his as he bent to give her just what she asked.

She almost didn’t realize that she was cumming, thought it was more that she was dying. His thumb pressed harshly against her cl*t as her body seized, clenching tightly around him. The kiss is broken then, his face buried into her neck as he whispers about her perfect her c*nt was. How it was made for him, how good a little girl she was being.

His stuttering hips were the only warning she received before he came, holding tight to her. The warmth flowed deep into her, and she hisses, hands flying to his shoulders, nails digging into the skin. She wondered briefly if her IUD would work, so much of his cum inside of her it felt like it was inevitable.

Their breaths mixed softly, slowly coming down. Her heart takes longer, beating nearly out of her chest as he laid on top of her, skin to skin. Her legs moved to trap him when he tried to pull out of her, not wanting to let the moment go. If it went, she’d have to sober up. She’d have to think about consequences, about what this meant. It’d change too much too fast, and she just needed it to stay this perfect for just a moment.

So they didn’t move, and she fell asleep in the warmth of his arms.

From:[emailprotected]

To:[emailprotected]

Subject: Day off

Team, should your work be in a good position to wait until Monday, feel free to take this Friday off as well. I will be offline to enjoy the weekend around town with loved ones, I suggest you do the same.

Aleksander.

#darklina

hibewriter

May 31

Christmas Miracle

Masterlist Read it on AO3

Shadow & Bone | Darklina | 3K | E

Tags:Incest | Car Sex | Public Sex | ambiguous age | infidelity

It wasn’t that she didn’t like her job.

Well, what high-schoolerlikesspending evenings in the Little Palace mall watching other people relax and unwind while they worked in a dying department store? But it was alright. Normally, she could get to the mall by three, work until ten, and catch the last bus from the mall to the suburbs, where she could walk the ten minutes to the house in relative peace. Normally. But normal did not include the clusterf*ck that was the holiday season.

Now her normal involved…him.

Well, that’s not fair. Her normal before involved him. At home. Steadfastly ignoring each other in the halls of Os Alta High, going separate ways once the bell struck two fifteen. Aleksander would drive, taking the car that they were supposed to share to spend time with his girlfriend. Though she couldn’t be that upset sometimes. Solitude with oneself was a gift in the Morozov household. With Baghra working from home, their father constantly hovering the second he entered the door (I just want to make sure you’re settling okay, milya don’t fret), Aleksander was typically the only one who left her alone.

But the holiday season meant a lot at the Royal Sunny department store. It meant longer hours, an increase in customers, but most importantly, it meant a larger paycheck. Not that she needed it. But she liked creating the store display. She liked the ribbons and the wreaths, the ornaments with little suns in them that she hung from the ceiling (probably breaking several safety regulations by standing on her tiptoes on a ladder, but it wasn’t her fault she barely hit five feet tall this year.)

The only downside was the eleven o’clock shift end. When the bus had stopped running, and the parking lots were empty. Her managers lived so far from her side of town that she didn’t even want to ask for a ride, the only recourse staring her right in the face. The only car underneath the streetlamp directly in front of the employee entrance, a black Mustang. It was more expensive than any high schooler had any right to own, older than both of them. Yet it shined under the light as if Aleksander had taken a wax to it just that morning.

She sighed, marching to the car, wrapping her coat tightly around her as she did. November nights in Os Alta were colder than in California, part of her wished that their father had insisted they’d stayed in California for high school. Not that it mattered. She merely clung to herself as she wrenched the door open, slipping in ungracefully with a plop. Immediately she pressed her hands to the vents where pushing out blessed heat. Aleksander didn’t even look up from his phone.

“You’re late,” he huffed, typing furiously on his phone.

“By like, five minutes. It takes time to get out of the store, asshole.”

“Well maybe don’t ask for a ride in the middle of the night on a Friday.”

“We’re supposed toshareit’s not my fault you’re such a dick you absolutely need to hog the car to go f*ck Luda every fifteen minutes.”

He rolled his eyes, finally putting his phone down to look at her. His eyes glanced at her hands, then her face.

“You need gloves.”

He put the car in drive, pulling out of the space. She huffed, slipping further into the seat. There was no need to dignify him with a response. It was easier to look out the window, watching as street lamps passed while his soft rock played over the radio. It only took about five minutes to realize he wasn’t heading in the direction of their house.

“Where are we going?” She asked, glancing over at him. His eyes remained fixed on the road, though she could tell his jaw was clenching, even through the patchwork he called a beard.

“I need to check on something, then we’ll go home.”

Her eyebrows furrowed as he pulled into an unsuspecting neighborhood, cookie-cutter McMansions with various decorations lining them. It wasn’t unlike their own neighborhood, probably full of upper management types with stay-at-home spouses, one point five children, and perhaps a family dog or cat. Boring, and predictable. Why wasn’t she in her own bed again?

“Aleksander, what –”

“f*ck.”

She startled at his sudden curse, looking over to where her brother was looking. Another McMansion, similarly lit to the houses they’d been passing this whole time. The only distinction was the pink Jeep Wrangler. She’d seen it nearly fifty times this year, mainly the source of arguments as to why she couldn’t have the car whenLuda had her own. She huffed throwing her head back against the headrest of her seat.

“Aleksander please tell me you did not keep me out here so late just so you could go f*ck your –”

“Saints, do you ever shut the f*ck up.”

Her head snapped to look at his, affronted at his attitude. He’s the one who draggedherout here to go to his girlfriend’s house, and he was getting mad at her for asking a simple question. How dare he. But something in his face gave her pause. The tensing of his muscles, the steel in his eyes as he stared, no,glared, at the house in front of them. Or was it even the house? She followed his line of sight, past the driveway back to the street, just a few feet away from the driveway, lights off and parked, as if it belonged there. A lime green Dodge Charger. A pretty distinct car, one that those transfer students drove. Toyla Yul-Bataar.

Suddenly comprehension dawned on her, as she looked from the car to the house it was parked in front of. None of the rooms in the front were lit, but that didn’t really matter did it? It was late on Friday night, and one boy was over at a girl’s house parked not inconspicuously.

“She’s cheating on you,” she muttered, more to herself than him, but she knew he heard her.

“Yeah.”

He huffed, finally loosening his grip on the steering wheel. She looked back at him as he sank into the seat, watching as the anger faded to something different. Something sadder. And suddenly she was the one angry. HowdareLuda.

“Well,” she huffed, looking back to the house. “f*ck her! She’s a bitch.”

“Linka –”

“No! How f*cking dare she?! What iswrongwith her?!” She stewed. If it were possible she was sure there’d be steam coming out of her ears. “You’re mybrotherand even I can see that you’re better than her. And she has the f*cking nerve to be such a –”

“Alina.”

"What?" She snapped, looking back at him. Immediately she softened, looking at her brother’s face.

“I deserve it,” he muttered after a moment. She rolled her eyes, exhaling a huff.

“Aleksander nobody deserves to be cheated on.”

“I do,” he said. He was sitting up now, as if he were going to put the car in drive again. “Just drop it, Lina, I’ll get through it.”

She looked at him incredulously, her eyes wide as she tried to figure out how he could be socalm. So she leaned over, grasping his arm and preventing him from moving the car into gear. Chin on his shoulder she felt like when they were kids, and he’d let her take a nap on his shoulder. But they weren't kids anymore and this was real.

"Aleksander," she hated how her voice sounded. Like she was begging, but for what she didn't know. "Nothing you could have done justifies –"

"I was thinking about you." His breath seemed to come out in a rush. Her eyebrows furrowed as she took him in, trying to understand what he meant.

"I mean you're my brother so like, of course, you're gonna think about me from time to –"

"No,Linka," he huffed, exasperated. "Not like that."

Silence. Nothing but the soft hum of the radio filled the car as she sat there, staring at him.

"I couldn't…f*ck. And then I thought aboutyou. And then…" He couldn't look at her. He could barely do anything but stare out the window, his cheeks suddenly aflame as he tried to convey what was the problem. And her grip on him slackened as she understood just what he was saying to her.

"And you…because of me?"

If possible his cheeks would’ve burned a deeper shade of red. His eyes closed, pressed tightly together as if to imagine a time when he wasn’t in this car and he wasn’t talking about this with his sister. A time when he didn’t fantasize about his sister to get off. His small nod as he swallowed his shame, the embarrassment. She should feel disgusted. Should storm away, convinced her brother was a freak. She should tell their mom, get her brother help and figure out how to move forward.

But instead, she could only look at his face. The curve of his lips as he frowned, eyes clenched. She could feel his fist against her thigh, also clenched, strained against his own desires. There were a lot of things she should do right now. Instead, she leaned forward.

His lips were soft against her own. She expected them to be rough, maybe chapped, but his lips felt like velvet. Velvet against her lips when his brain catches on to what's happening. Soft and insistent when he begins to kiss her back, lips parting against hers. He tasted like chocolate, bitter and sweet at the same time.

Was that his hand on her thigh? Did she imagine the touch urging her to climb into his lap? She didn't know, lips parted as she brought her hands to grasp at the hairs of his neck. A soft moan escaped as his lips moved to her jaw, working slowly down her neck.

"Wh–f*ck. What d-did you think about?" She whispered, tugging at the hair. Like silk, it flowed through her fingers. She barely held back a whine as he pulled back.

"This," muttered through parted lips. She bit her lip as his hands moved, first slipping her coat off her arms, then hesitant at the edges of her work shirt. "You."

He seemed to be at war with himself. The object of his desire was finally sitting in his lap, and he almost seemed restrained. But his decision came swiftly as if any thought otherwise was a passing fancy.

"I thought of you, out ofthis," he muttered. Fingers slipped under her shirt, sending a shiver down her spine. Little work as it was removed, tossed into the seat she had abandoned. Hands immediately cupped her breast through cotton fabric.

She bit her lip, hips shifting in his lap as he seemed transfixed on her chest. A small gasp as she felt the growing hardness in his pants, shifting closer so it was right underneath her. She heard rather than felt the snap of her bra, suddenly cold as her last defense of top was ripped from her body.

"Sasha," she whimpered, guiding his face to look into her eyes. "What else?"

She could've sworn he nearly growled, stealing a kiss so quickly she thought she dreamed it. His fingers were on her thighs, quickly finding their way up her skirt, to the apex of her center. The thin barrier of her tights did little to hide her arousal, creeping out of her c*nt like a dripping faucet since he admitted it washer.

"This," he muttered against her lips. A rough yank, maybe two or three, and she felt her tights rip at the seams. She didn't have time to react, his fingers in the hole of his making, seeking the gusset of her panties with practiced expertise. "You and all your glory on display for me, just like a gift."

She couldn't hold the whimper that came once his fingers made contact with her slit. The skilled way he found her cl*t within seconds, forcing a cry from her lips as he played with her. Her hands dropped as she leaned forward, capturing his lips as a thick finger pushed its way inside of her.

“Tell me to stop, Linka,” his voice was rough. She would’ve. Sheshould’ve. He was her brother, blood of her blood held in the same womb as her. They shouldn’t, they couldn’t. But words were lost when he slipped in a second finger.

“f*ck, you’re dripping for me,” he murmured, lips suddenly pressed to her jaw. God help her, she was. More than she thought she could as she clenched around the fingers moving within her. Suddenly she was fully lost in the sensation that was Aleksander’s fingers in her. A thought she never entertained for more than a second, and she wanted more.

She wanted everything he could give her.

It was the sound of her own slick that caused her to squeeze her eyes shut. He was going slowly, but even his tortuous movements wrung the loudest of sounds from her c*nt. All while his breath panted in her ear, groans of howgoodshe was being. How much he knew she could be the perfect little sister. So it really wasn’t her fault when she came. It wasn’t her fault when the words slipped from her mouth, more of a cry than anything else.

“I need you inside me.” Her moan felt foreign – like someone else was making the sound as they shifted. Her hips slotted over his, mouth parted as he fumbled to shove his sweats down. A moment, two, and suddenly she was full. The irresistible stretch as he notched his co*ck into her, letting gravity do the work of slowly sinking her onto him.

“f*ck,” he huffs, eyes slamming shut for just a moment as she falls. She’s gone, burying her face in her brother’s shoulders as she begins to rock. He rolls his hips, matching her as they begin to move in tandem. She gets lost in the rhythmic push and pulls, the grip of his hands as he begins to move her faster. His eyes open now, huffs in her ear as each drag elicits another whine from her lips.

“Don’t ever stop,” she pants, further sinking down. She swears his fingers are meeting in her back, his thumbs nearly touching her front. He bites her ear, as if affronted she’d suggest he would ever stop this.

She nearly loses it when his hand comes lower, thumb ghosting over her cl*t, not quite the stimulation she needs but justso close.

“Please, Aleks,” she begs, thighs clamping as her hips rock against his furiously. His thumb presses, right where she needs it. “There, there, right there, please.”

“It’s okay, Linka,” he groans, teasing her. Her cl*t was now just an instrument for him to play, thumb swiping back and forth until she was shaking in his arms. She nearly cries, desperate as he pumps her full from below, spearing her and tearing her apart. “Let go for me, Linka. Wanted you so bad. Wanted you for years.”

He was muttering nonsense now. His co*ck was a weapon inside her, just a slight tilt of her hips and he was pressing into the perfect spot. His free hand rose, cupping her face and pulling her tear-stained eyes to meet his. There were no other words to describe it, justraw. His eyes were an endless black pool that wanted her, and only her.

Her org*sm crashed in waves, hurling her over the metaphorical cliff as she held on to him for dear life. And he just watches her, take his co*ck with her mouth parted, a silent scream unable to come out. She wants to close her eyes, but she doesn’t want to miss that crazed look that comes. Not when he returned his hands to her hips, moving her faster and faster as he neared his own completion.

Her brother.

Her lover.

His hands held her hips to his as he empties himself into her. Breathless and boneless as she falls forward, clutching him like the only liferaft after being sent adrift to sea. And she was. Adrift. Her body floated as she began to trace pointless shapes into his shirt collar, waiting for the feeling to sink in. The panic. The clarity. The rising concern ofwhat did they just do?

But it didn’t come. Not as he softened inside her. Not as she felt their combined fluids leak onto his lap. Not as she listened to his heartbeat slow. Just their breathing and the feeling of beingfinallysated. Well f*cked, quiet as the radio continued its soft rock melody.

She startled at his sudden huff of laughter, finally leaning back to look at him. He was looking out the windshield, seemingly distracted by something outside. She barely turned her neck, slightly craning to see what was so funny. And then she saw it. White powder, fell from the sky, betraying the heat of the idling car. The first snowfall.

“It’s like a Christmas miracle,” he muttered, thumb absentmindedly rubbing into her back. A distracted massage as she clung to her brother. At this she smiled, leaning forward to kiss her brother’s neck. Then his jaw. And suddenly his lips were on hers again, and all her worries disappeared. Neither of them noticed the buzzing of his phone, his hands on her hips as he held her close. Just howrightit felt. Before, reluctantly, they pulled away.

“It’s a little early for Christmas,” she muttered. But he still shook his head, kissing her forehead.

“It’s Christmas wherever you are,” he claimed. At this she laughed, slapping his shoulder.

“That was cheesy.”

“And? You loved it.”

“I love you.”

For a second she feared it’d be too much. Feared he’d draw away, though it wasn’t like she hadn’t told her brother she loved him before. It was, definitely, the first time she’d ever tell him with his not-so-soft co*ck inside of her though. So she paused, the smile nearly dropping from her face before he kissed her, soft and unhurried.

“I love you, too,” he whispered, lips hovering above hers. “Let’s go home.”

#darklina
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