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Prompt Playground

Chapter Text

Chapter Index

Chapter 1-- Eye Contact Pt 1 (All Might/Reader)

Chapter 2-- Feel My Wrath and Extreme Self-Doubt (Todoroki/OC)

Chapter 3--"Shadows of the Heart". The prompt: "Hey, do you want to help me and Robin resurrect Bob Ross?" (Teen Titan/Justice League One Shot)

Chapter 4--"Taco Bell and Angst"--Axel tries to convince Asher to go to Taco Bell. (Kingdom Hearts)

Chapter 5--"Is that blood?" "No?" Jacob Frye/Reader

Chapter 6--The creature rose from the gruesome chaos it had wrought. *Warning: Implied Child Abuse, Implied Human Trafficking(Little Nightmares)

Chapter 7--Mizushima Aiko, a water base side kick in training, finds a kitten in an alleyway. Weak and barely clinging to life, she knows she needs help to take care of the little one and the only person she can think that can help her is her ornery neighbor, Shota Aizawa.

Chapter 8--"Oil and Water" (a Naruto one shot for Anime Fanboy.) Naruto and Kiba were like oil and water. A combination that shouldn’t mix at all, yet they still made it work despite it all.

Chapter Text

Prompt Playground

(aka Where My Prompts Go to Be Read So I Can Get Them Out of my Head)

By ThroughtheMirrorDarkly

Eye Contact Pt 1


The railway soared seamlessly along the tracks, with the occasional jostle here and there. Normally, you avoided public transport like this, the enclosed space making you feel stuck and trapped. Your heart was as fast as a hummingbird’s, rushing and thumping against your ribcage. It didn’t help that a lot of creeps ended up showing up on subways, using the crowded enclosed space to harass unsuspecting victims or worse. You never liked being touched and had your quota on dealing with such harassers filled for the foreseeable future, thank you very much. Sometimes, you wished your quirk was impressive or fierce to make people not dare to mess with you.

Instead you had one of the worst quirks in the entire universe and no, it wasn’t an exaggeration.

When strong emotions as embarrassment, attraction, anger or the like would overcome you, your face would turn slightly red and steam would literally blow out of her your ears. It left you looking like Popeye the Sailorman after Olive gave him a big smooch on the cheek, and every time it happened it made you want to crawl into a hole and die. And no, you didn’t constantly blow steam out of your ears during intimate moments. That was an intrusive and vulgar question you received all the time. All through school to college to—well, you still got bothered with it. Those harassers you had enough of? Male co-workers who thought it was fun to joke about your quirk and after you had turned a particularly nasty one done when he asked you out, you had been given the nickname, “Choo-Choo Train.” And rumors soon followed implying that you were a slut willing to let anyone “ride”. It was insulting, and made you feel ashamed and vulnerable.

You had tried to suck it up, do your work even as the whispers followed you about endlessly. However, the sexual harassment got steadily worse, making you wish you hadn’t kept your head down and meekly tried to get by. You wished you had been loud and brash, and maybe then they would have backed off. It wasn’t until a co-worker followed her into the restroom and tried to hold you down, one shoving his hand up your knickers and tried to touch you. You broke his nose in retaliation and slammed his face against a mirror, to defend yourself.

And you were the one that got fired.

Bitterness still coated the back of your tongue over the unfairness of the situation. You felt helpless in your life and work, you couldn’t use your quirk for a job purpose so you were considered on level with quirkless people. The lowest on the society totem pole and while “equality” was preached about like it had been achieved, you has always been glaring aware that it had not. So now you sat feel like a trapped and wounded animal on the transit, caught in despair over each interview that seemed as unsuccessful as the last, desperate to find a new job. You didn’t have so much money in the bank that you could afford to sit back and relax, and your anxiety felt like it was sky rocketing with each passing second.

You smoothed out your jacket and fixed your scarf, using it as a barrier to hide your face from other passengers with earplugs in and with Alex Clare blaring in your ears, you tried to fight down the knot of emotions that swelled white hot in your throat. “Just a little bit of sweetness to dull the pain,” you whispered the words, as a litany with the last bit of hope inside your chest put into those words and suddenly the subway jerked to a halt. There was a loud thunderous noise that reverberated like a shockwave, rolling from the front part of the subway down all the way down it. You pull your ear buds free and like all the other passengers looked around, wary and worriedly.

In a time of heroes and villains, civilians like yourself ended up in the crossfire of a lot of battles. Just last week you had nearly been set on fire when Endeavour fought a villain. The boasting hothead seemed not to take notice of civilians when his eyes were on a villain. You rose out of your seat, your head phone dangling from around your neck and you had a sick sensation fill your gut. You had a bad feeling that you needed to get off this subway train, and fast. When more shockwaves rattled down the line and became more frequent, you voiced this thought, “We need to get out of here.”

And then you saw the glint of fire in the distant. The subway was on fire. You knew now you definitely needed to get the doors open, and everyone needed to get out. You rushed to the doors and tried to see if there was any emergency way to open them. The other passengers started to freak and many joined you, trying to pry the door open. You were shoved and slammed against the metal, you bit back several curse words as they rose into your head. When two men had managed to get the door open an inch, you asked a nearby man to borrow his cane. He handed it over without argument and you shoved it into the gape and shoved with all your might. It was difficult to get the leverage when people were crowding you, but somehow you succeeded. The door slid open, and the people poured out like a fountain. Some ran away immediately, other stayed to help the elderly and children out of the subway train.

You were one of the last few that got out, rubbing your upper thigh that had been trampled on by another person. You dropped down onto the tracks, and tried to give back the metal cane to the gentlemen. He refused, stating, “Other carts have people that need to get out. Please help them.”

You watched him, hobble off with the help of another passenger and stood rooted there to the spot. Help them? Your mind screamed. You weren’t some hero. You couldn’t go charging into the fray and save people. Yet your heart gripped tight in your chest, hearing the distant screams of other people. You turned and could see people thrashing about in the cart ahead. Gnawing on your lower lip, you found yourself rushing found with expletives falling off your lips. You made it to the cart to see them trying to pull the door open, much like you and the passengers in your cart had moments before.

You yelled, “Hold on!”

“There’s someone out there!”

“Please help us!”

You felt beads of sweat roll down your forehead, and you shoved the cane into the door frame. You grunted with the effort of trying to shove the doors open. Inch by inch you forced the doors to slid, and with the help of the trapped people, eventually you got them all the way open. You stumbled off to the side, barely managing to get out of the way before they stampeded past you. Your breaths were coming in fast and burning gulps, almost like you were choking on wet sand. You trembled from head to toe, and just wanted to flee with the rest of the people. But your feet dragged you forward to the other cart once the cost was clear.

You could see and feel the heat off of the flames now, and could hear a lot of screaming. There was stench of burning flesh and blood that burned your nostrils, and you could see movement beyond the flames. You think it is heroes trying to help. At least, you hope it is. You shoved the cane through the door, it takes enough effort to make your shoulders burn with exertion. Everyone inside is coughing and hacking and your pulse throbbed in the base of your throat. Panic splintered down your spine when you realize that these people are suffocating to death, breathing in the black smoke and ash that coats the air so thick that it was starting to make it harder to breath. The flames snaked further along the cart, and you felt your breath hitch with fright. You glance at the flames out of the corner of your eye, and you swallow the whimper that rose sharply inside of your chest.

You readjust your grip on the cane, your hands were slick with sweat. “Shit!”

You pulled back, leaving the cane wedged into the doors. You quickly strip off your jacket and used your scarf to wipe your hands and the cane off with. Coughing violently, you step forward again and start shoving the cane. The doors gave a low metallic creak, barely budging. You gnashed your teeth together, and growled, using all the strength you had in you to push. Suddenly the cart doors slid open, with a force all their own. You fell forward, knees smashing into the concrete below and you caught yourself on your elbows to prevent your face from suffering the same fate. The metal cane clanged to the ground in front of you, and you look up puzzled.

You see that all the doors on the subway have pulled open, and realized that someone must have gotten to the controls. It was a miracle that they still worked as the fire seemed to have devoured and demolished a good part of the railway, but you weren’t above counting your blessings as they came. You awkwardly stumbled to your feet, and you saw a few people weakly drop out of the cart. “Hurry,” you encouraged, voice raspy from the smoke inhalation. “Hurry.”

The people ran, trying to keep low to the ground to avoid breathing in more smoke.

You were about to follow when a voice called out to you. A weak, trembling voice and you turned to see a young teenager—probably only 13—trapped and pinned by a pole that had fallen down in whatever cataclysm that happened inside of the cart. You reached forward with the intent of getting into the cart when a tendril of black smoke wrapped around your ankle, and formed into a solid hand. Your heart slammed into the back of your throat, and you were suddenly jerked back, thrown against the concrete wall without mercy. You felt your whole body ripple with the shock and pain, and slumped to the ground bonelessly.

Out of the flames and fire, emerged a volcanic looking man. You recognized him as the dangerous villain called “Vulcan”, and your mind literally feels fractured by the sheer amount of fear that you feel in that moment.

“Someone has gone and let out all my little hostages, and it appears they have a little helper,” Vulcan spoke, sparks and embers floating out of his mouth with every word. His eyes were red and burning, hotter than the seven circles of hell. His skin was charred and cracked, with veins of orange glowing underneath. “The gall you have to interfere with my plans, and not even a noteworthy hero, just a little citizen playing pretend.”

His hand around your ankle, sizzled and heated. “Burn!”

You screamed, the blistering pain tearing through you as swift as lightning. Tears poured down your cheeks and your clawed at the hand, trying to bat it away. Vulcan chuckled, darkly and his other hand reached upward, groping your upper thigh. It burned through the fabric of your jeans, and you thrashed violently, sobbing. The pain was too much. You had never been in so much pain in your entire life. You felt vomit rise up in your throat, and you could hear him laughing. Laughing how he was hurting you and branding you like you were a cattle.

You can’t move. You can’t breathe. You weren’t certain that this was the end.

And then suddenly Vulcan was gone. Off of you. The smelt of charred flesh and the burning pain remained, but he was gone. You hiccupped, tears streaking down your cheeks. Your mind felt fuzzy and light-headed with relief, and you could barely make out the outline of a figure standing before you. He was ginormous, a mountain of a man with a booming voice that said: “It is fine now! Why? Because I am here!”

You saw blue eyes—so warm and powerful—staring down at you with kindness and compassion, a jaw set tight with determination to not let anything else bad befall you. A smile so bright that nothing could extinguish it, and a number of emotions rose up in your chest because of those blue eyes. You didn’t know, but you weren’t strong enough to pinpoint just what you were feeling. Only that the second your eyes connected with his, a calm wave washed over you sliding from your head to her toes. (And maybe a little steam coming out of your ears but in this heat and as out of it, you weren't sure if it was really you or just smoke.) Despite the pain, you believed him and the conviction of his words in a way that you probably wouldn’t have ever believed from anyone else. The last thing you recalled was slumping over sideways, and replying in a voice so soft that it made a whisper seem like a scream, “Oh…that’s nice.”

And then darkness.

Chapter Text

Feel My Wrath and Extreme Self-Doubt
(Shōto Todoroki/Original Character)

Students stood all around underneath the canopy of cherry blossoms, the petals were serenely falling with the gentle wind and an utter contrast to the tension in the air, drawn tight like a bowstring. I could hear Izuku trying to play peacemaker, and felt his hand on my shoulder, but I shrugged it off. I ignored the wounded look aimed my way by the green haired boy and kept my dark blue eyes focused on the object of all my ire.

“You had absolutely no right!”

I was going to make Bakugo Katsuki pay.

He thought he was the hothead worth worrying about, but there’s no wrath so powerful as one that simmers and seethes until it boils over. I couldn’t believe the bastard, but it shouldn’t be so shocking. His complete disregard for his classmates such as myself, and the brash way he would shout and tirade over everything. And he made my life absolutely miserable. While Midoriya Izuku was his number one punching bag, I had the “privilege” of being his back up punching bag and all because I was his cousin by way of his mother. I wasn’t in Class 1A, but in Class 1B, so I was spared his bullshit mostly during school hours.

Except today that is. Today he decided to cross a line, and this slight could not go unchallenged.

I could feel the sweat gather on my palms, and urge to give Bakugo a taste of his own medicine. I, Hisakawa Satsu, swore this upon my ancestors. (No, I don’t care if I am being overdramatic and I don’t care if he shares some of those ancestors! If we ever did meet our ancestors, I am certain I’d be their favorite anyways!) I bit my inner cheek so hard to reign in the impulse to utterly obliterate his face, because while I would rather choke on hot coals to admit out loud is that while we both inherited the quirk, passed down from our grandfather to both of our parents, Katsuki’s was far more powerful. So giving him a taste of his own medicine would backfire on me, no pun intended.

But I inherited a mixture of quirks from both of my parents.

“Give it back now, Katsuki,” I demanded, my tone laced with venom.

“Or what?” Bakugo smirked, smug and arrogance radiated off of him in waves.

Lightning danced upon my fingertips, I felt a malicious feeling grow in my heart and right before I could smite him right off the face of the planet. And then I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end, and a feeling of dread overcome me when my quirk stopped working. Oh, shit, I craned my head to look over my shoulder to see none other than the hero known as a Eraserhead, or more commonly known as Mr. Aizawa around the school.

His eyes were glowing red, and his hair had lifted up ever slightly. “That will be quite enough of that,” he stated, his tone sharp and filled with a hint of exhaustion. Judging by the yellow sleeping bag, he had just been on his way to take a nap or had just awoke from one so he was not in a good mood. Not that I ever seen him in what one would call a good mood. “Satsu, you know the rules against attacking other students, especially with your quirk.”

I felt shame replace my anger in a split second. My lightning quirk was unstable and could be dangerous. Like stop your heart dangerous, if I put enough force into it. Could I have been able control it with how angry I was? I really didn’t know, and Mr. Aizawa knew his reprimand had worked, so he stopped using his quirk to erase mine. His dark eyes flickered over to Bakugo who was still smirking, enjoying the show. “Bakugo, you know the rules against taking another person’s personal property. Give Satsu back the journal right now.”

Bakugo’s face immediately fell into a scowl, at getting in trouble, too. He huffed, and looked away, tossing the copper leather book to the ground carelessly. I growled, lunging forward and picked up off of the ground with haste. I dusted it off, and flipped through the pages to make sure there wasn’t a single thing missing or out of place and that he hadn’t defiled the book where I wrote down all my secrets. About my anxieties and fears, the highs and lows of battling with maniac depression and the greatest and most embarrassing—at least to myself—was the crush I had been harboring on Todoroki Shōto.

Was it possible to ignore him? Even if you didn’t like him, he had a presence that few other boys around this age did. He was always calm, collected, and unfailingly polite from what I seen. The only time I had ever seen him get rattled or angry was when one student dared to compare him to his father, and that hadn’t been pretty. Ever since the sports festival, he had been warm and started friendship with some people, including Izuku. And I had been friends with Izuku, so I had become an acquaintance to Shōto. I had been too anxious to pursue a friendship, afraid that my eagerness would give away my crush and if Todoroki knew of my crush then I would never been able to look him in the eyes again.

I looked up with a spine tingling fear and saw the malicious glint in my cousin’s eyes, the way he looked over my shoulder at Todoroki who stood with Izuku, Iida and the rest of my peers. I knew it before he parted his lips what he would say, and I felt utterly rooted to the spot unable to stop or defend from the latest attack that Bakugo threw at me.

“It was a crappy read anyways. All Satsu writes about is the Icy Hot idiot. Guess he has a new fangirl to add to his collection,” Bakugo sneered, then turned on his heel and walked away.

I could hear the gasps, the chuckles, and the feel the looks pinned on me. I felt my lungs seize like two hands had reached into my chest and squeezed every ounce of air out of me, and I clenched my jaw tight against the mortified sob that welled up inside of me. Tears started to burn my eyes when Prince Belly Button decided to start singing the “K-I-S-S-I-N-G” song, and I clasped my journal tight to me as if it were a shield. I rose to my feet, my knees knocking together unsteadily. I didn’t want to look behind him. I didn’t want to see the look on Shōto’s face, but as if pulled by strings of an unseen puppeteer, I turned my face towards him.

His snow white hair, with a patch of red on the right side was tossed slightly by the wind. His mismatched gaze was widened, and the handsome planes of his face froze with shock. It made my stomach clenched uncomfortable, and a cold sweat broke out along my skin. The next thing I knew I was running away as fast as my feet could carrying me, leaving all everyone in the dust. For a few seconds, nothing happened and then all the girls’ eyes turned to Bakugo with gimlet eyed stares.

Bakugo glared back at them. “What the hell is your problem?”

The girls descended upon, circling him like vultures.




“I DON’T NEED TO APOLOGIZE FOR ANYTHING!” Bakugo snapped, furiously. His palms out at his sides, ready to start attacking at any given second. “BACK OFF OF ME YOU HARPIES!”



Aizawa wordlessly got out of his eye drops, and put one in each eye before stowing it away his pocket. “It’s going to be a long day,” he sighed, and stepped towards Bakugo and the girls ready to tear him apart before the boy could give into his more violent impulses.

I had ended up on a bench, just outside of the UA walls. I could see the guards at the gates, sending worried glances my way. After the incident at the USJ, I supposed I could understand their worries, but I was too lost in my own head to even care. I had the worst habit of going through stuff in my head—all my fears and doubts—and let them revolve over and over on repeat, unable to put them to rest. And this moment was no different, with my journal sitting in my lap clasped in a knuckle-white grip. I reprimanded myself for leaving it out in the open. I should have known that Bakugo would have seen it as opportunity to humiliate me, and I knew he had been too subdued at the family dinner the other evening.

There was an impulse to ring up my aunt, but I hated doing that. I wanted to be treated like an adult, so I should be able to take care of my own problems without running to the nearest adult for help. I sniffled, wiping away the tears off my cheeks knowing I problem looked horrid like I was the crypt keeper or something just as repulsive. Brushing my bangs out of my face, I huffed and told myself, “Stop being a crybaby. It’s not the end of the world.”


I winced at the sound of his voice, and glanced up at Todoroki with a miserable expression on my face. I felt ashamed, embarrassed, and so many other things that rattled inside of me like hornets. Oh, God, why can’t it be the end of the world so I don’t have to face him? I thought with more than a little mortification. I felt myself pale upon the sight of him, and nearly swallowed my tongue when he requested to sit down. I nodded, a little helpless at what else there was to do.

There was a long pause. The air wasn’t what I would call unbearable awkward, but it certainly wasn’t comfortable. I sat there looking at his striking profile before I averted my eyes. The last thing I wanted right now was to be caught checking him out and add a whole new level of discomfiture to the situation as it stood.

“Were you afraid?” Todoroki asked, suddenly.

“What?” I gaped at him, unable to understand what he meant.

Todoroki turned towards her, a very serious and grim expression on his face. “Were you afraid of how I would react if I found out about your feelings for me,” he stated, his heterochormia gaze bore into me with an uncomfortable intensity. “Is that why you kept your distance?”

“No!” I looked up at him, startled by his words. I could almost see what his fears were. I didn’t know a lot about his relationship with his father only that it was bad—abusive bad, though Todoroki had never come out and said that. My father became a foster parent after he retired from the hero business, and I had seen how my foster siblings—ones that had been through abuse of all kinds—treated their surroundings and people. I could see some of those mannerisms in Todoroki, though I never spoke up about it which made me feeling horrid. But I doubt my word would do much against his father who had influence aplenty even if he was the Number 2 hero. “No, it wasn’t like that at all! I just,” my eyes darted back down, cheeks flushed with heat and hands clenched into fists on my lap, “I just didn’t want to be another person that took or expected something from you.”

Shōto looked at you like he had never seen anything quite like you before.

“You are such a good and honest person with a bigger heart than you let on. So many people come to you and expect to gain something by being friends or more with you. People who want to use you to gain favor with your father, or girls and boys that want to date you to gain popularity,” I explained, hurriedly and rushed. I wanted to salvage this somehow. I didn’t want him to be uncomfortable around me, just because of a silly crush. I swallowed the knot wedged in the back of my throat, and I continued, “I didn’t want you to think I was like that so I… I kept my distance. I just wanted to be a sort of friend, one that you could rely on without worrying about what conditions came with it.”

He swallowed, looking away.

“I…” Each breath pulled up through my chest like my insides had been rubbed raw by sandpaper. “I don’t expect you to be nice or pretend to be my friend now, to spare my feelings. If you feel uncomfortable then—”

“I don’t.”

I whipped my head to look at him, surprised.

“I don’t feel uncomfortable around you. I never have,” he elaborated, a hint of a smile on the corner of his mouth. His eyes softened now along the edges, just a minute change in his expression that I was able to notice. “I hated what Bakugo did, intentionally hurting you like that, but I’m glad to know your feelings.”

“Y-you are?”

“Yes. I never pushed for friendship with you because you…seemed so shy and nervous. You are very private person, and I didn’t want to cross your boundaries. I know how important they are to you.”

It was like having my world tilt off its axis, hearing these words out of his mouth. Todoroki wasn’t a person to just make up things to make a person to feel better. He stated the truth as how he saw it, and that was one of many traits that you found so admirable. “Really?” I asked, genuinely baffled. It never occurred to me that Todoroki was being mindful of my idiosyncrasies and anxieties so that’s why he never approached me as he would Izuku or someone else. I did have heavy boundaries, walls that I kept up to keep people out. I created them after how people tried to take advantage of my father and I when my mother passed away. She had been killed by a villain, leaving the shadow of the legacy of the hero of BrightBolt behind.

Todoroki let out a soundless chuckle. “You have no idea how much I’ve come to admire you, do you?”

“You…admire…me?” I said, my voice high-pitched with disbelief.

“You are there for people. The way you listen to them and their problems, allow them time to think out loud and don’t judge them. You let them be whoever they want to be which is more rare than you know,” Todoroki spoke, a wistful tone in his voice. “You are resilient, headstrong, and incredibly kind.”

I let out a little snort of amusement. “I don’t think that I’m really all that you think that I am.”

“You also have a terrible knack for underestimating yourself,” he added, with an eyebrow arched.

“Everyone has flaws,” I replied, with a light laugh. I only seconds later realize that this is probably the most normal conversation that I have ever had with Todoroki, one on one that is. I gnaw on my lower lip, and nervously run my palm across the leather bound journal. “I guess we should get back into the school before the teachers come after us. I don’t know about you, but Mr. Aizawa is scary.”

Todoroki smirked. “He can be intimidating.”

The two of you rose up off of the bench, and Todoroki paused, a distant and thoughtful expression on his face before he told you, earnestly, “I’m not sure what I can be for you. I know that you have feelings, but I…”

I understood that, even if it was a bit painful. We didn’t know each other well enough to jump into a relationship just because my crush been outed, and I honestly wouldn’t like that kind of thing. I was past the age for fleeting fancies, and wanted to put real effort into relationship now. A good foundation for something that could last didn’t just come out of nowhere, and it couldn’t be fabricated. This wasn't some fairy story or instant love, after all. Life didn't work that way. “I think we could both use another friend, don’t you? After all, you are a good listener, too and I could use a friend who listens. How about you?”

Todoroki smiled. “I’d like that.”

Chapter Text

“Shadows of the Heart”

Teen Titans/Justice League One-Shot

“Hey, do you want to help me and Robin resurrect Bob Ross?” Beast Boy asked, his expression earnest and eager. A bit of drool leaked out of the sides of his mouth where he couldn’t fully close it thanks to the gauzes shoved in there. He had just had his wisdom teeth removed three hour prior to this, and still hadn’t completely worn off the medicine. He blinked his bleary eyes every so often, his head bobbing tiredly. The medicine was the only reason he was getting out of a severe punishment.

Others, however, would not. You glanced over at Robin with thinly veiled disapproval flashing in your mercury colored eyes. “Did you tell him that you wanted to resurrect Bob Ross?”

The Boy Wonder shifted, nervously on the balls of his feet and studiously avoided your gaze. “Maybe,” he said, with a light shrug. “It was only a joke.”

“Correction, it was just a joke,” you stated, voice hard and sharp with reprimand. The scarring on the left side of your face twisted as your face pulled into a scowl, and you folded your lone arm over your chest. You glowered down at the embarrassed teen superhero. “Until Beast Boy got ahold of Raven’s grimoire—” you let your gaze flicker over to the gothic teen sorceress who looked equal part appalled and mortified by all that had happened before you turned back to Batman’s protégé, “—and now we have Dr. Fate and Zantanna trying to stop a horde of zombie Bob Ross look-a-likes from sacking art stores and killing people with paint brushes.”

“Poor Bob Ross, this ain’t no way to honor his legacy,” Cyborg said, shaking his head solemnly.

“Don’t even,” you hissed, giving him a look. “Don’t pretend you don’t have a hand in this, either. I know for a fact that Beast Boy is in no condition to be running around on his own, and you can’t get me to believe he somehow managed to bypass the code lock on Raven’s door on his own. The only one of you Titans that isn't in trouble is Starfire and that's only because she's off world and isn't here to cause any.”

Cyborg blushed, and ducked his head bashfully.

“How were we supposed to know he was going to get Raven’s book and do this?” Robin demanded, sullenly. He may have had a mask on, but you could sense the unmistakable challenge in his gaze.

“Because he is your teammate, he is your friend. You know how he is on a normal basis let only when he is on medicine so strong it makes him loopy. He hasn’t even—” You stopped, glancing at Beast Boy who watching your hand gestures a little too intently for your liking. “What?” You asked, defensively.

“How do you clap?” Beast Boy asked, genuinely worried.

“I don’t,” you flushed, embarrassed. It wasn’t the first time someone had spoken about your lack of limb, though it was probably the first time it had been mentioned with a genuine and innocent curiosity. There was no malice or derision in his tone or face, unlike other commentators that you have faced since the “incident” that took your arm from you happened. He was lucky that you could tell he wasn’t being mocking, otherwise he would be in a world of hurt and you would have a lot of paperwork to explain just why you decided to beat up a teenager. You had no desire to see Superman shaking his head at you like a disappointed parent.

“That’s so sad,” Beast Boy said, chin quivering. Big, fat tears welled up in his green eyes and he seemed devastated for on your behalf. “I’ll help you clap! I’ll help you clap whenever you need to, okay? Okay?” He held up his hand as if expecting a high-five from you, and you just sighed heavily.

You reached out, giving him the high-five in efforts to stop his tears. It seemed to have an opposite effect, and in the end, you ordered Cyborg to take him to his room and watch him. Once the hysterical animal-shifter was out of the room, you turned back to the other two teens and continued, “He hasn’t quite come down from the high of the medicine and anesthesia. I am well aware that families often pull pranks on each other when they are still recovering from surgeries like this one, but you have to acknowledge that you aren’t just another team or another family. You are people who are very talented, but also have access to very dangerous items and more. A joke can become something much more devastating very quickly.”

“Raven, you have to ward your book better. I know that you didn’t consider Beast Boy’s shape shifting when you created your wards nor that Cyborg would help him break the sanctity of your room in order to go through with this…joke,” you said, the last word scathingly. “For your punishment, you will go work along Dr. Fate who will train you better in the arts of ward casting, and you will help him with any missions as he sees fit. I expect you to be on your best behavior, understood?”

Raven nodded, without argument. Not that you expected one. The young girl had grown close to you and saw you as a mentor over the last few months, and has shared the secret about her father to you. The source of her powers was not one to play around with, so she was taking this very personally as though it had been her fault alone. You would have to take her aside and explain that she should not shoulder the fully burden of this, it had been many circumstances that led up to the nightmare that Jump City was currently undergoing.

“Robin, you—”

“Let me help Dr. Fate and Zantanna,” Robin cut her off, jaw clenched tight.

Your eyes narrowed into slits. “No.”

“If I am to make this right—”

“They have the matter in hand, and Batman arrived just minutes ago to lend a hand,” you told him, icily. “You are staying here and grounded for the seeable future, Robin.”

“What? You can’t do that!”

“Do you think I’m stationed here to be your maid? Your nanny? My job is to watch you and the other Titans backs. To make judgment calls when needed and to supervise you until such a time that you are responsible to handle this on your own,” you stated, your voice sharp like the crack of a whip.

“We are responsible!” Robin argued back.

“All evidence to the contrary,” you retorted, hand clenched into a tight fist at your side.

“We don’t need some failed hero—”

“That is quite enough,” a deep, gravelly voice interrupted Robin’s intended insult and made the three occupants of the room turn. There seemingly appearing out of the shadows was Batman, who marched across the room with lengthy strides. “Shadow Hart,” the Caped Crusader greeted, “how is Beast Boy?”

“Suffering no apparent knock off effects from the spell, though I will have Zantanna do a more thorough examination when she returns. I take that you being here means that the demented Da Vinci’s have been handled?” You commented, your tone suspiciously light. You didn’t say anything about Robin’s words, not the way that they had impacted you.

You understood that this wasn’t an ideal situation. You hadn’t wanted to spend your days monitoring and mentoring young superheroes. You had wanted to be out there on those streets making a difference. For a time, you had been a force for good. You had been the hero, Shadow Hart, and had made a name for yourself. You hadn’t been as famous as Superman, Wonder Woman or Batman, but you did what you could where you could. You had the ability to manipulate shadows and even travel through them at will. Sometimes, you wondered if you had never met with the Justice League upon Zantanna’s request and if you hadn’t started working alongside of the famous the heroes, if you would have attracted the attention of the madman, Hugo Strange.

Strange was on a quest to make super powered soldiers. He had been kidnapping people with powers for years to see if he could figure out how their powers worked, and reproduce them in people of his choosing. In an attempt to save innocent children from being turned into weapons and had been captured in the process. Strange kept you drugged, beaten and tortured—too weak to escape until he made a specific collar that dampened your umbrageous teleportation. The blinding light all around the room, that left no speck of shadows big enough for you to utilize and left in weakened down state, you were virtually helpless.

You fought back. You fought tooth and claw every day, against the beatings and torture. Barely clinging to life, Hugo Strange decided to clip your wings so to speak and cut off your right arm—your dominant arm—in order to punish you. He had you sit in the room while he dissected it for any scrap of DNA that would further his super soldier progress, and had the gall to praise you for your contribution to his research. It had broken something in you, your time spent there until you couldn’t function properly. You couldn’t use your abilities anymore without having a panic attack, a product of being hurt after every attempted use during her imprisonment. You couldn’t uncross the wires inside your pain that equated your powers with pain.

You spent seven months in Hugo’s care until Batman saved you. You wonder if him offering you this job is out of some kind of misplaced guilt which only made the situation all that much worse. You weren’t sure you wanted to be here, but you felt that through these kids you could still do some amount of good. But what teenager wants a person monitoring them every day? The Teen Titans and this Tower were meant to be a way these younger heroes could prove themselves and earn a little bit of independence out of their mentors’ shadows. They wanted to take responsibility for themselves and their lives, but they weren’t getting the free reign that they hoped for.

“The last of the zombies were vanquished, yes,” the Bat replied, with a slight nod of acknowledgment.

“That’s good,” you heard yourself, voice faint to your own ears. “Since you are his mentor, I’ll let you handle this.”

You turned and left the room.

You just needed to get out of there, and remember how to breathe.

You were alone for about a half-hour, maybe longer before the shadows around you hummed with warning, and you sensed Batman before he even walked out onto the rooftop. He approached you, every step sure and measured. He had a confidence about himself that you always envied, even when you pretended to have all the answers and life figured out. Now you wished to have one single ounce of the confidence he had, and maybe you’d be able to get through the day unscathed.

“I apologize for Robin’s words. He crossed a line with what he said.”

“He’s pushing boundaries. He’s a teenager, that’s what they do,” you shrugged, looking very tired and feeling older than you were. “I remember my own days of rebellion, and I was a hellion that drove my parents crazy, especially when I came into my powers.”

“Still, he should know better than that,” Batman was not about to let his protégé’s behavior slide.

You sighed, raking a hand through your hair. “He shouldn’t have said what he said, but me storming away out of the room the way I did wasn’t exactly the height of maturity. I don’t know why you thought I was the right fit for this job. If I don’t have thick enough skin to handle a teenage boy’s comments then how the heck am I supposed to deal with them on a daily basis, let alone teach them anything?” You asked, feeling the self-doubt rising inside of your chest like shards of glass. The sensation moved outward with each breath until pain seemed to reverberate through you from head to toe, and you looked up at Batman with a hollow look. “I don’t know what you expect of me. I don’t think I can do this.”

“Are you looking for my advice?” Batman asked, archly.

Before the trauma you had gone through, you wouldn’t have gone to anyone for anything. You were too stubborn and headstrong, determined to deal with your problems on your own. Now you didn’t feel strong enough to stand on your own. “I guess I am. You…you listen. You don’t say things unless there is a reason to say them. You don’t offer well-intended, but ultimately meaningless advice. You are probably one of the wisest people I know, and right now I could any scrap of wisdom I can get,” you told him, looking out across the skyline as the first sign of dawn started to creep along the horizon. The wind up here was cool and chilly, but you could barely feel a thing with the coat wrapped around you so tightly.

Batman stood there, for a long time silent and contemplating. He turned away from you, his gaze following yours towards the horizon and he let out a mute sigh. “People think it's an obsession—a compulsive need or an irresistible impulse to act that drives me to fight for the soul of Gotham. It has never been like that. I chose this life, and I know what I am doing. And on any given day, I could stop doing it,” he stated, voice soft and carried on the wind. “You aren’t like me. I know your background, your history.”

All the air is driven out of your lungs by his words, but you dare not interrupt—out of fear, out of need to hear more, you weren’t sure.

“You can’t help, but want to fight, to thrive. You have this need to defend and protect. It’s not just a choice to you, but something as vital as breathing,” Batman continued, with his arms folded over his chest. “Do you really think you can walk away from that? From trying to help forge a better world, in any way you can?”

You sat there, with hands shaking and eyes downcast. “I can’t be a hero. I can’t even use my powers without thinking about—” you cut yourself off, not about to go down that vicious rabbit hole of pain. You swallow thickly, and let out a deep breath. “How am I supposed to teach these kids? How I am supposed to help guide them for the future? I’ve seen what happens when a hero messes up, and seen the price it costs. How can I sit there and knowingly let them go down the same past? I want to help people. I want to help the world. I just don’t if I’m the right role model or person that should be watching these kids’ backs. I don’t trust my own judgment anymore.”

The Dark Knight didn’t turn around, but you had a feeling he was exasperated by you. “Do you know why choose you out of anyone else that the League could have posted at this job?” He asked, in the rhetorical sense. His body twisted towards you, and his cape billowed dramatically in a way that made you seriously think it was bewitched to do that. “Because of what you been through, all of it not just what happened with Hugo Strange. You would defend and protect them with your last breath if it came down to it, no matter what fears you have. You wouldn’t let them go into danger unless you were sure they were making the best decisions they could, and you’re not so close to them that you can’t be objective when it comes to making tough calls if need be. You can give them something vital to helping them grow, and I think that you could come to find something that you think you’ve lost by working with them.”

You opened your mouth, but no sound comes out. You felt like your soul had been lain bare, and if you said one would that you would completely shatter. You stared at him, eyes widen and root to the spot unable to move.

“You think yourself unworthy, broken because of what Hugo did, but you never consider this,” Batman told you, as he passed where you sat. “Being a survivor doesn’t mean always being strong, sometimes it means relying on others. Allow others to help you and remind you that you aren’t alone in this world; that you are worthy of friendship, compassion, and more. You are worthy of being a hero, and you deserve a place amongst us, even if you don’t believe that right his moment.”

You felt tears steam down your face, and you ducked your head to hide them away. He disappears silent into the night—er, well early morning darkness, and leaves you there to your thoughts and feelings. You sit there for what for feels like forever, and the same circular argument played into your head until your rose up to your feet. You took in a deep breath, holding for several heartbeats before you let it out. You were screwed up and you were a hot mess, but Batman was right. You could stand by when you knew you could do something, and despite all the doubts and anger that still resided inside of you—the hard moments just like this one that would surely come down the line, you knew that you had to try.

If for nothing else, then just for a place to belong.

Chapter Text

Taco Bell and Angst

Alternative Title: Don’t Cry For Me, Burrito

an Kingdom Hearts prompt

Asher Potts was a Keyblade wielder, having studied underneath Master Yen Sid for the last eight years. It happened after she was in Hawaii on vacation with her family, she had met an alien named Stitch and his owner (technically more like sister) Lilo who were being attacked by shadow like creatures. A rose gold keyblade with an art deco style, with sharp edges that glistened and pulsed with light appeared and she had awkwardly finished off the creatures. Afterwards, Asher was confronted by Maleficent who wanted a keyblade wielder to help her capture seven hearts of light. Asher had known it was wrong to help Maleficent, felt the wrongness pouring off the sorceress that chilled her down to the marrow of her bones.

Maleficent had laughed—that cold, high pitched laughter—at the sight of short ten year old, with thin and wry limbs and knobby knees that stood up against her. The old witch had warned Asher she would regret not having joined her, and in the next week, Asher had woken up to the smell of smoke. Green flames ate away at her family’s home, and she had crawled through the inferno, trying to reach her mother and father. She could still feel the burn of embers that seared down the back of her, and the tears that rolled down her cheeks because of the smoke. She remembered burning the palms of her hands on the door knob, trying to pull it open to no avail. She remembered the embrace of darkness, and no more.

She woke in the care of Master Yen Sid, whose magic had barely saved her in just time. He had worn down the wards that prevented an escape from the magical fire that Maleficent started, but by the time that he had gotten through the dark spell, Asher had been the one barely alive. Her parents had passed away, died from smoke inhalation. Covered in burns, Asher had a lengthy recovery ahead of her—both emotionally and physically. It had taken four years for her to fully recover and become an efficient fighter with her keyblade, and finally Master Yen Sid sent her on a quest to find a box—a special box that held something important to the future of the worlds, though he did not elaborate any further and Asher trusted him enough to know that he would tell her more in time.

She had found reports from someone called , and various clues that seemed to lead to dead end after dead end. There was a time when Sora became known as a Keyblade wielder that she had helped him along in his quest against Ansem, and then reunited with the group two years later when she suddenly remembered him. Apparently, Diz (the real Ansem) had put him into a machine and in order to restore him, Namine had to take all the memories people had of him and put them back together. She wasn’t entirely clear on the whole process, but that year—that was grueling to say the least, with nobodies and heartless—had kind of led up to the situation she was in now.

Namely, babysitting Axel—former nobody turned Keyblade master.

Her armor was silverite chainmail, hidden beneath a velvet blue outer robe, embroidered with golden leaf patterns. She tightened the straps of her gauntlets, and gave the pleading red head a gimlet eyed stare. “We are not returning back to earth,” Asher Potters told Axel, with a slight huff.

The former nobody turned keyblade master kept his moniker from his organization XIII days, instead of going back to his birth name, Lea. Master Yen Sid had assigned them together as a team, but Asher really believed he just wanted eyes on Axel just in case. Not all the nobodies that had their hearts returned were on the side of light, so they had to be treated with caution.

“Why not?” Axel demanded, with green eyes narrowed.

Asher placed her hands on her hips, and cocked her head to the side. “Do you not recall what happened last time?” She asked him, rhetorically.

Three months ago, Axel and Asher had ended up on earth to help a group of toys—as if life couldn’t get weirder and Asher had a whole new spring of issues, like guilt about all the toys she had broken and thrown away as a child—and protect their owner, Andy. Apparently, the heartless were after the boy’s pure heart. There had been a school bake sale (where they had killed the big heartless drawing the others to the sleepy small town), and at some point Axel had gotten ahold of some questionable brownies. He had upped and disappeared, and Asher had found him about two hours later in front of the local Taco Bell, with a burrito in his mouth and him sitting on the train kiddie ride outside of the fast food place. He was trying to shove munny into it to no avail, and had a police officer staring him down with a reluctantly amused expression. “Sir,” the officer said, as Asher approached to diffuse the situation, “that’s for children only.”

A bit of magic to make the police officer more open to suggestion, Asher had talked their way out of trouble and hightailed it back to the gummi ship, dragging a high Axel all the way.

Axel looked away, his cheeks turning pink with a blush. He raked a hand through his spiky hair, with a sheepish grin on his face. “It was an accident?” He said, glancing up at her with a hopeful glance.

“Accident or no, we aren’t repeating the experience any time soon,” Asher told him, with a lofty brow raised. “Besides, I’m pretty sure we landed on the military’s radar when we landed last time.”

It was a little worrying. Gummi ships had the ability to shrink down to palm size so Asher wasn’t concerned about them finding the ship, but it wouldn’t take a lot of effort to ask about any strangers who seemed out of place, especially in a small town. In a bigger city, they’d probably go unnoticed for the most part. Still she’d rather not go back to earth unless absolutely necessary.

“Oh, come on. It’ll be fun,” Axel waved his hands, dismissing her fears. “Besides, don’t we deserve a little reprieve after dealing with Ursula’s emo younger sister?”

Asher grimaced at the mention. Morgana, Ursula’s sister, had kidnapped Ariel and Eric’s newborn baby to use as ransom for Kind Triton’s trident. With team work and quick thinking, Asher and Axel had saved the baby and put the seawitch out of commission. While under the sea, the people were quite lovely and nice, it still was a pain to swim underneath the ocean and fight tons of heartless. Asher had never been much of a swimmer and having a fin didn’t change things up.

Axel was sort of right. They did deserve a break after that.

But Asher was sort of…leery of letting Axel dictate things. She had OCD and her anxiety made her need to be in control constantly. So, when she had lapse in judgment a few weeks ago, she had been hardcore trying to ignore Axel as best as she could. They had decided to chill in the living area of the ship, after helping clear out some heartless for Jack and Sally in Halloween town. Made popcorn, cracked a few jokes, watched “Crimson Peak” and someone had fallen asleep together. Asher had woke upon lying on top of a snoring Axel and her mind made her crash head first into the fact that she was deeply attracted to the red head, even though she had fought against those feelings and tried to see him as a job only.

Her feelings…they felt out of her control, so she did what she did best. Clammed up and focused on her mission, instead of the bond growing between her and the former nobody. “You are driving me completely and utterly mad.”

“It’s in the job description. I mean, literally,” the cheeky red head stated, pointing to the bulletin board where Asher had taped a paper listing all his qualifications for this job. It had been an exercise to help Axel see where he needed to build up his skill in certain areas, like trust and communications after he nearly set her on fire when he got too eager in battle. She had the last bit that he cited in retaliation to his sarcasm. “You wrote it right here.”

“I was being sarcastic!”

“So?” Axel said, with his signature grin.

“Don’t smile at me like that,” Asher pointed a finger at him.

“Why not?” Axel broadened his smile, leaning forward ever so slightly. “With this smile, I can get away with everything.”

“Not with me it doesn’t. It may work on Aerith or Kairi, but your smile doesn’t do anything for me whatsoever,” Asher declared, her cheeks turned a bright pink.

Axel chuckled, the sound deep and low in his throat. “Something tells me, you protest too much, princess.”

“Don’t—Don’t call me that,” Asher hissed out. “I’m not some fragile flower or delicate princess that was locked away in a tower.” She jabbed a finger in his direction when he opened his mouth, and annoyance flashed through her eyes like lightning. “The time I was hurt doesn’t count! Now, you need to give up and stop pursuing this—”


Asher stopped short of finishing her tirade. His voice had been quiet and very somber that it had taken her aback, and she stared at him with rounded eyes. He rarely acted serious, rarely had such a solemn look in his green eyes and his expression was stoic. It was like he realized there was something more to her vehement arguments against going to earth, or perhaps, he had always know, but was trying to be subtle with his jokes to prod for answers.

“I know that you don’t like going to earth because it reminds you of your parents.”

Asher shifted on the balls of her feet, and glanced away from him hurriedly. “That’s not—” she choked on her words, feeling her throat close up.

“No, it’s not all of it,” Axel agreed, with a dip of his head. “You’ve been avoiding me ever since we fell asleep together on the couch because you’re embarrassed about so vulnerable with someone who just a year ago was your enemy. No hard feelings, I know that the trust between us won’t be built over night and that we both have a wealth of issues that we have to sort through. But the whole avoiding earth thing? It’s about your parents. Even before the Taco Bell incident, you’ve always hesitated going back to earth.”

Asher felt uncomfortable bare in that moment. Her eyes were filled with shock and hurt, glistening with tears at how easily he had seen to the root of her problem and how easily he put it right out there in the open like they were merely talking about the weather.

“I’m not going to push you to speak about it. It’s your pain and your hurt, but I will say one thing…you can’t let the bad things be all that you remember. There are good memories, too, and your parents would want you forget the good things,” Axel told her, with a sad sort of smile on his face.

Asher felt tears slip down her cheek, her eyes downcast and she found her shoes extremely interesting in that moment. There were several moments that she was too choked up to say a word, that she wrestled with her emotions and then finally she sniffled, reached up to wipe the tears away. She looked at Axel and arched a brow. “Are you banned from all Taco Bells, or just that Taco Bell?”

Axel smirked.

Chapter Text

Next To You

By ThroughtheMirrorDarkly

an Assassin’s Creed one shot

The moon sat high in the sky, a pale yellow sliver that illuminated the rooftops of London as Jacob Frye trekked a path that had become all too familiar to him. He found himself going to the little row homes just near the Thames in the City of London, his dark eyes always lingered on the one in the middle with blue shutters and potted plants hanging just outside of the windows. It was the only one that someone attempted to make a home, where she attempted to make it a home and give it a warmth that the other homes lacked.

He could see the candle lit by the windowsill, a sign that she was awake. He wonders if she left it for him, as a signal or a beacon. A way to let him know that he was welcomed in her humble abode and the thought made something stir beneath his breast. He dashed across the shingles, one knocking loose and plummeting bellow to startle the homeless man who slumbered. The briefest of smirk crossed his handsome features before he dropped down the side of the building, and his feet clapped against the cobblestone so loudly that it echoed through the silent street.

Ignoring the curses hurled at him from the few souls still out at night (mostly vagabonds and cutpurses), Jacob approached the home of Nora Whitley. The young woman was the bastard daughter of wealthy lord who had a dalliance with a whore, and lived a comfortable enough life given that she was his only child. Her unique circumstances allowed her to walk the line between the gentry and the poor, and she had learned earlier on to cultivate connections. Her network was one of the reasons she came to the attention of Henry Green, and the fact that she had hatred for Crawford Starrick only helped to cement a loyalty between her and the assassins.

Her web extended to every level of society, and the information that she passed along in return for the Rooks protecting her informants from the Blighters was invaluable. ‘How fortunate,’ he thought to himself as he slid the window open and entered the home. It only added evidence to his theory that she left her home accessible to him because only a fool would forget to lock their windows, and Nora Whitley was no fool. He shut the window soundlessly behind him, and moved the lock into place for his own peace of mind.

He made his way up the stairs, making noise as he did so to not alarm her. He found her in the office, where she sat in a chair with her dark curls loose and unbound, her snug fitted gloves folded neatly and her bonnet rested on top of them. She raised her head and saw him standing there in the threshold, a small smile tugged at the corner of her lips. “What are you doing here so late?” She asked, an amused glint in her deep blue eyes.

“That’s what happens when you invite something wild into your home,” Jacob smirked, sauntering into the room and flicked the tip of his top hat. “We wild things tend to keep coming back.”

“So I’ve noticed,” Nora chuckled, dryly. “That’ll teach me to not pick up anymore strays.”

“That’s probably a good thing,” the Assassin said, cheekily. “I don’t play well with others.”

Nora hummed, lightly rapping her fingernails against the top of her desk. “For a wild thing that doesn’t play well with others, you are remarkably well behaved tonight. It makes me wonder just what you did—” Her sentence trailed off, her eyes going round as she spotted a spec of blood along his jaw and she shot to her feet in the blink of an eye. In three quick strides, her tiered skirt swirls around her ankles loudly and her hand reached up to cup his jaw after a split second of hesitation. “Is that blood?”

Jacob adopted a look of wide eyed innocent. “No?” He replied, slowly.

“That is not the kind of question that you answer with another question,” she scolded him, lightly smacking him on the arm. She pulled a handkerchief out of the pocket of her ulster coat, the silver buttons with mother of pearl inlay glistened in the light from the candelabra. She reached up and dabbed the spec of blood away. “So much for being well-behaved wild thing.”

Jacob gave her a roguish grin. “Just staying true to my nature, dear lady.”

Nora wrinkled her nose at the honorific. “Please. I’m not much of a lady.”

Nora went about cleaning up the blood, her touch kind and precise. She wasn’t much like the tittering noble ladies had encountered before, though in all honesty that was a very good thing. She dressed in all the finery that was afforded to her by her father, but she was no fragile flower that fainted at blood or fighting. Nora was unperturbed by violence having gotten in a few scraps of her own over her lifetime. She had been brought up a lady, but had been molded into a survivor from those that would use words or force to cut her down just because her mother wasn’t a lady.

Jacob observed her through a hood gaze, soaking in the way the candlelight played off of her striking features. The gentle slope of her delicate neck, where her pulse fluttered and the curve of her cleft chin that led up to her lips painted a light pink, the color faded over the day. The apples of her cheek turned slightly rosy when she noticed his stare, and her blue eyes widened a fraction. “What are you looking at?” She asked, her brows furrowed together into a knot.

He wondered if Nora was truly oblivious to how beautiful she was. She had always been skeptical of men’s attention, most suitors after the wealth attached to her name rather than her as a person due to the fact she wasn’t “well bred”. “You,” he answered, honestly. A warmth lazily slid through his veins, simmering inside of him when the scent of jasmine and honey, with a hint of tea and ink, caressed him. It beautiful and feminine and was purely Nora.

“Am I such a sight that requires that heavy scrutiny?” Nora said, blithely.

“Even on your worst days,” Jacob quipped, without batting an eye.

The red hue of her cheeks darkened. “Jacob Frye, you incorrigible flirt,” she accused, pulling away from him. Taking all her warmth and leaving him cold, longing for just another moment of her nearness.

Jacob doesn’t bother denying it, because he was indeed a huge flirt. He flirted with men and women, if only to ruffle up a few feathers and earn some scandalized gasps here and there. In the last year and a half, the only flirting that held any serious intent behind it was reserved for the woman before him now. She was…thoroughly vexing, in a way that left him wanting to unravel every piece to the mystery that was her and line them all up in a way that only he could see. He wanted to know the ins and outs of her soul, and was tempted to bear his own if that would get the job done. Only the hard built self-preservation kept him from doing so.

“James Daniels won’t bother you anymore,” Jacob spoke, quietly. It had been the reason he had come so late at night to her home, though he would use any excuse to sit and talk with her nowadays. He was beginning to believe that Evie was becoming suspicious, and he cringed at the thought of his older sister poking her nose in his affairs. The only solace he got from that thought was that Evie and Nora were very close friends, so Evie wouldn’t think Nora wasn’t good enough for him. If anything, Evie would likely think he wasn’t good enough for Nora.

Stark relief crossed her features, and the line of her shoulders slumped. “Thank heavens,” she murmured, running her fingers through her hair. “I thought I would be stuck with that thorn in my side for forever. Thank you, Jacob. You have…” Her eyes darted away from him, her teeth caught her bottom lip nervously. “You have no idea what this means to me.”

James Daniels, a low ranking Templar, had been harassing Nora for the last couple of months. He was pressing his affections on the woman and determined to get her hand in marriage, which would have made any assets or money that was under Nora’s control, her husband’s by law. He had been prepared to force himself on the woman, and then publically announce the loss of her honor to back her into corner. Nora had broken down and told Jacob about what was happening. The Assassin wasted no time in taking care of the problem.

Jacob could still taste the rage that rose up in him at the memory of her tears and how her face was pale with fear. He had never seen the stalwart and strong woman look so vulnerable and helpless. An epiphany hit him in that single moment. It came to him in a split second, maybe half of a second, but it changed everything. He would go to the ends of the world to make sure that she never felt like that ever again.

Nora composes herself, swiftly. “It’s late. You…you can sleep in the guest bedroom, if you wish. I still have paperwork that needs to be done before I turn in,” she stated, primly while leading him to the door. “You do remember where the guest bedroom is?”

“What if I don’t want to sleep in the guest bedroom?” He inquired, with an eyebrow arched upward.

“Then there is always the floor,” Nora shot back, not missing a beat. “Though I personally wouldn’t recommend it. I’ve heard that hard wood is horrible for the back.”

Jacob turned around to face, and for a split second was tempted to return the joke in kind. The comedic urge die upon his lips at the sight of her haloed by the golden light from behind her, making her appear ethereal and radiant in such a way that it rocked him to his core. A sense of disquiet twisted in his heart because that was all they did. Bantered and joked, but he found himself tired of such things. He didn’t want jokes, he wanted honesty. He wanted to know her emotions, and know if these feelings that she invoked in him were one-sided or not.

His pulse hammered at his temples, and his mouth suddenly grew dry. All pretense melted away off of his face, his dark eyes filled with the yearning and affection he felt for the woman before him. His jaw clenched and unclenched, so many words swirling inside of his head. “I wouldn’t care where I slept as long as it was next to you,” he whispered out, his voice deep and smooth like velvet.

Her eyes flickered up to meet his, startled by the change in his demeanor and tone. Her hand flew up to her chest, and her lips parted in mute surprise. He did not hide his emotions, allowing her to see them freely in a way that he had not before. He had kept a tight leash on the deepening love that he had grown for her, beyond just the bounds of friendship and camaraderie. He had not wanted to break the fragile peace that came with their friendship, but he knew that he could no longer live in such a state of limbo. He had to know the depths of her feelings for him, because he would be driven made if he was left to wonder for all of eternity.

“You shouldn’t say things like that, Jacob,” she spoke, her voice breathlessly and faint.

“And why is that, love?” He asked, in a tone that sent a shiver through her.

Her lips trembled as she tried to work up a playful grin. “Because what if one day I take your seriously?” she asked, her voice sounded strained. She was trying so hard to move them back into safer territory. To the boundaries of friendship and not dive into dangerous territories, such as acknowledging the attraction that pulled them closer together.

“Who says I’m not serious now?”

Her lips parted with words, but no sound was uttered. She seemed taken aback by the genuine affection and yearning that he presented to her. The column of her throat trembled as she swallowed, her hand reaching out with a mind of its own and placed itself against his chest. Her thumb stroked the fabric of his vest right about his thunder heart, and she gnawed on her lower lips with her eyes darkened in thought. For what felt like a life time, she stepped forward and rose up on her tippy toes.

The touch seemed to burn him and save him in the same moment. A quiet promise spoken without words through those lips pressed tight against his jaw in the gentle and chaste kiss. His hand reached out, sliding up her neck and buried his fingers into the strands of hair at the nape of her neck. He could feel her tremble, like she was about to shatter into a million tiny pieces. The weight of this intangible force that beckoned them to grow closer was not one sided by far.

She pulled away, and he released, never one to keep her against her will like other men who cage her like a bird. “Goodnight, Jacob Frye,” her voice was a ghost of a whisper.

And then she closed the door in his face.

Jacob stands there, a mixture of emotions flashed across his face in a split second before his lips stretch into a broad grin. He released a heavy sigh, pressing his forehead against the door and closed his eyes. “Woman, you confound me,” he whispered, in a voice too low to be heard.

But Jacob was a patient man when he wanted to be.

And Nora was worth the wait.

Chapter Text

Freedom Tastes Like Blood

By ThroughtheMirrorDarkly

a dark introspectiveLittle Nightmares

The Maw was underwater resort that once catered to the rich and wealthy. Societies elite came there to spend their money on rare luxuries and special goods. It was a dazzlingly place that glittered and shined decades ago, but time had peeled away the out layers, revealing the darkness that laid within. It was a seedy underbelly, a port connected to a vast network of black markets that sold drugs, sex, and slavery. Children, like Six, were brought here by a man in a trench coat against her will, but it had been either go to the Maw or be torn apart by the filthy vermin that roamed the streets at night in the search of easy prey.

Six recalls her mind slipping in gradual increments. For a time, she had been the Lady’s favorite. Treated like a doll to be dressed up and paraded around. The Geisha was pleased with Six’s beauty until her own jealousy reared its ugly head like it had with the other five girls that had come before her, but in her time spent on the upper levels, Six had seen horrible things. People, child to adult, treated like commodities to be bought and sold and used. Girls much like her dragged into rooms by men, and the screams—oh, god the screams. It had been burnt inside of her mind and the sight of the broken bodies that had been hauled away, dumped down the shaft like yesterday’s trash.

Yes, Six lost her mind. Her thoughts and memories fractured, trying to protect herself. When the Lady’s favor had been lost and Six had been sent down to the Prisoner to await her turn to be bought and abused, something primal and vicious had taken over. The world around her warped and changed into a nightmarish vision, her panic painted and twisted her ordinary surroundings into something so awful and gut-wrenching that it nearly stopped her heart. She had run and fled and fought her way through the levels of the Maw.

She had gotten away from the Babysitter, his arms cut off by the door. (His body crushed underneath the weight of the mechanical door.) She had escaped the Chefs. (They were nothing but ice, trapped in the cold freezer with no way out.) The customers to the Maw choked and spat out blood. (A little bit of poison dropped into their food.) Six wasn’t sure what her actions would say about her morally, all her focus had been on survival and escape, rather than malicious intent.

But that changed. That changed when the Lady sent the Boy—her brother—to hurt her…NO!

She didn’t want to think about that. She didn’t want to think about what she did. The taste of blood still coated her mouth where she bit her tongue to stop the horrified scream that tore through her throat, there was blood splattered across her clothes and her stomach quivered uneasily. A jagged piece of mirror clasped in her hand, she felt a burning hatred that she had never felt before—that she never let herself feel before. The dark memories of her childhood had festered inside of her like an untreated wound and turned her into something ugly and angry.

She wanted to hurt the Lady.

She wanted her to pay.

And so she did.

It was almost anticlimactic when it came down to it. The Lady was furious when she spotted Six, but also so very afraid. This wasn’t the sweet girl who played dress up, who was nothing more than a doll, this was an animal that had been beaten and backed into a corner. An animal that was more dangerous than anything else on the Maw because she had nothing left to lose. The Lady tried to fight back, but Six lunged forward with a yell so vicious that it could have echoed to the corners of the earth and back, burying her teeth in the woman’s throat.

She reared her head back, and flesh tore.

The Lady died, painfully and slowly, choking on her own blood and gasping for air.

And so the creature rose from the gruesome chaos it had wrought. She rose up away from the lifeless bodies, leaving a trail of carnage behind her and walked up the long winding staircase, out of the front doors of the Maw. There was a sharp smile on her child-like features, and the yellow rain coat and bloodstains gleaming brightly underneath the sunlight.

And with freedom that tasted of blood on her tongue.

Chapter Text

The Cat’s Cradle

By ThroughtheMirrorDarkly

a My Hero Academia one shot

Mizushima Aiko had a long, long day.

People often underestimated a side kick’s hard work, in the midst of the glamour of the big heroes such as All Might or Endeavour. Trident, her hero name taken from Greek Mythology for Poseidon wielded a trident and she controlled the moisture in the air, able to turn into powerful water attacks or help put out fires like today. An old hotel had caught on fire, so her and Kamui Wood—the pro-hero that she side kicked for—had immediately charged into help. However, when an inferno is raging on, it doesn’t leave much for her powers to work with. So she ended up drawing the water out of her own body which was dangerous for many reasons, so now after all was said and done she went to the nearest store and bought as many bottles of water that she could carry. She drunk greedily, absorbing the water back into her body to recuperate.

She was tossed the three empty bottles into a nearby recycling bin when she heard it. It was a soft noise, so quiet that she almost thought she imagined it until she heard it again. Her head snapped towards the edge of the alleyway just to her left, and her eyes blinked when she saw a little tuft of black fur wiggly about against the pavement. A small gasp tore through her lips as she watched with wide green eyes as the little kitten, only a week old at the most, struggled to move. People walked by, even when they saw the kitten, they walked by, and ignored the helpless little thing.

Aiko walked forward, her eyes searched the alleyway for any sign of a momma cat. There was no way an overprotective momma cat would not hear its baby crying then again all the human foot traffic in the area might have her staying back in fear. She stepped back away from the kitten, hoping perhaps if she gave it space then the momma cat might come investigate why the little one was crying. Instead, all her efforts got was a teenager rushing by on a bicycle and almost running the kitten over. Her heart slammed into the back of her throat, and she hurried over to the little animal before another close call could happen.

She hated to take the kitten when a cat’s best chance of survival was with the mother cat, but with the number of people who had stomped by the helpless little thing without batting an eye, it just wasn’t safe to leave it here on its own. She knelt down on bended knee, inspecting the black kitten. It was solid black, with curly and fluffy black hair, and its legs seemed unusually short which added to the little one’s struggle.

She had a weakness against animals. Her heart had no defense against the cute, cuddly animals, and the moment she held the tiny kitten in her palms, she knew that she couldn’t leave him to fend for himself and hope that the momma cat would come back. The kitten mewled and squirmed, unhappily with the new arrangement and she cooed at the animal, stroking a finger down its spine to calm it. The kitten’s heartbeat was going far too fast to be normal, and each breath that the animal drew in seemed to take all its strength. Aiko caught her lower lip between her teeth, she had no idea where to get supplies for the little one or what all she would need to take care of the kitten.

Aiko knew the animal shelter was not an option. She heard the horror stories about the local one that made bile rush up her throat, and she couldn’t leave this baby there without feeling like a total heel. So, the kitten—Cinder, she called the kitten in her mind—had only Aiko as its best bet to survive. He, she checked what equipment it had, would die out here on his own with no food or way to protect itself from larger predators.

Anxiety and panic swelled in the back of her throat when she felt the shaky and shallow breaths the little kitten gave. He wasn’t in good shape, at all and she stared at the trembling kitty with a worried gaze. Was there a vet around here? Were they open? A bunch of thoughts rushed through her mind when an epiphany hit her that made her a little apprehensive and weak kneed for a number of reason.

There was one person who could be exactly what this little guy needed to survive.

Too bad that person happened to be Aizawa Shota.

A man who didn’t particularly like her one bit. It hadn’t always been that way, she thought with a sinking feeling in her heart. The two had been friends in the beginning, back when they were hopeful heroes in U.A., but somewhere along the line, that changed. He thought her reckless and foolish with a martyr complex, and she found him cantankerous and aloof with no sense of humor. It didn’t help that they happened to be apartment neighbors, but in this instance she would consider it a blessing in disguise. She hurried down the last four blocks until she got to the apartment complex, owned by U.A. to give the staff a secure place to live. When she wasn’t being a side kick to Kamui Woods, she taught Industrial Mechanics at the exclusive school.

Aiko used her identification card to get through the security doors, and hurried over towards the elevator. Hitting the third floor button, she leaned back and cradled the kitten gently in her palms. “Easy there,” she told it, with a small concerned smile. “You are going to be alright.”

“Shota,” Aiko greeted, with a half-hearted attempt at a smile. “Uh, are you busy?”

Aizawa Shota stared at her with tired bloodshot eyes and arched a dark coal brow. His messy mane of ebony had been pulled back in a messy bun, and the edges of his mouth were pulled into a tight line at the sight of her. “Why?” He drawled out, after a mute sigh.

“Well…” Aiko chuckled, a tad bit nervously. Dressed in pajamas, it was clear that Shota had intended to turn in for the night and she felt like it had been a big mistake to show up at his door unannounced. But she was here, so she might as well bit the bullet. She uncapped her hands, and revealed the mewling ball of fur she had carried here so carefully.

Shota’s eyes widened, marginally.

“It was on the street. The momma cat was nowhere in sight, and people were just passes by without even bothering to stop. It was trying to crawl on the sidewalk, and it would have gotten trampled on,” Aiko hurriedly defended herself, with a light blush on her cheeks. “I don’t know anything about taking care of cats, and the shelter is closed—”

“So I’m your second choice,” said Shota, as he scooped the kitten out of her hand. He turned on heel and re-entered his apartment, but he left the door open so Aiko took it as an invitation, but he left the door open so Aiko took it as an invitation. With tentative steps, Aiko followed after him wringing her hands together and feeling out of place in his apartment. It was a simple apartment with all the essentials, but nothing that made it feel like a home. There was no personal touch or thumbprint that Shota had left, like he’d rather not put any effort into the apartment lest he have to move for any reason. )It could very well be that, because many heroes had to up and leave their homes for one reason or another. A villains discovering the location, or fans discovering the location.)

But what if he didn’t feel like it was a home? That was a very sad thought. With a sharp shake of her head, she refocused back onto the current situation. “You are the only person I know who has taken care of stray kittens this young before,” Aiko responded, her tone light and shutting the door quietly behind her. “He doesn’t look like it’s doing so well.”

“He isn’t,” Shota said, bluntly.

Aiko gnawed on her lower lip. “So what can I do?”

Shota gave her a long look out of the corner of his eye, while he held the kitten in one hand. His long, lithe fingers ever so gentle around the animal and his other hand he pulled open a junk drawer, rummaging through it. Finally, he pulled out a pad of paper and pen. “Do you have a heating pad?” He inquired, scribbling words down with quick strokes of the pen.

“Yes,” she shot him a strange look. “Why?”

“Kittens need to keep warm. A blanket wrapped around a heating pad is a good way for them to stay heated,” Shota explained, a light furrow to his brow and an accusatory stare. (Though that could be his natural resting face.) “While I make a list of all this kitten—”

“Cinder,” Aiko blurted out. Her cheeks turned a dark red when Shota gave her a deadpanned stare, and she shifted on the balls of her feet nervously. “His name is Cinder.”

“You shouldn’t name it unless you intend to keep it.”

Aiko pursed her lips, and glared at him.

Shota heaved a harsh sigh. “Go get the heating pad while I finish up the list of stuff you are going to need to grab from the store.”

Aiko eagerly darted out of his apartment to do just that. Alright, admittedly there was more to her hasty escape than just hurry to the kitten’s aid. It was…understandable awkward to be around him now, given that once upon a time they had been friends. Aiko had been part of the tightknit group of Shota, Hizashi, and Nemuri. She even had a crush on the aloof and somber Eraserhead before one day, their friendship took a turn for the worst. She couldn’t quite recall just when or where the shift had occurred, only that it became increasingly apparent that Shota was displeased with her effort to become a hero and how she conducted herself.

She knew…that she had a tendency to be self-sacrificing to a fault. She put others welfare before her own, but that’s what a hero was supposed to do right? Always prepared to make the sacrifice to save the day, and make the world a better place? She recalled the dour look that crossed Shota’s face when she had said those words, only months before their graduation. It had always been the plan for the four friends to be a team, but the colder Shota became, the further Aiko was driven away.

Needless to say, time did not help things. It had been over a decade since then—and boy, did she fell old thinking that—and things had never improved. An awkward and uncomfortable undercurrent in the air when they would stumble across one another, a wound that nearly healed swelled with words left unsaid or misunderstandings. And part of her wanted to clear things up, wanted to put her heart out there for a person who had once been her biggest confidant, but fear was a powerful thing, and it had its claws in deep.

Every time she would dare suck up the courage to speak, all the doubts and insecurities came out of the back of her head to rattle her spirit and steal away her resolve. It probably said something poor about her mental health that she allowed this to go on for a decade, and allowed her once close friends to become passing acquaintances. Nemuri had clung tightly though after a villain by the name of Vulture had nearly killed her about a year ago, and it was at the busty woman’s insistence that she joined U.A. as a teacher. “So someone can keep an eye on you to keep you out of trouble,” said Nemuri, with an exaggerated wink.

Her pro-hero partner had thought the idea was a good one, and so she really couldn’t argue against it. So she had taken the job which led for her to be around Shota on a regular basis, and thus she constantly faced all the pesky emotions that she’d rather not.

It was all too fast, in her opinion. Her rushing to her apartment and retrieving the heating pad to standing before Shota once again. Her stomach felt queasy and she felt a damp sweat break out along the nape of her neck, but she swallowed down her nerves to focus on the kitten. Shota had brought out a basket from his closest and had a soft, tan blanket wrapped around Cinder. “You can plug it over there,” he gestured to the plug in on the wall.

Aiko nodded, doing so and then set down into the basket. Shota lowered the kitten there, with the utmost care that brought a reluctant smile to her lips. Until he shoved the list that he made in front of her face, and Aiko flinched back. She scowled at him half-heartedly and took the list, muttering out, “You and your damn lists.”

“Do you want to know what to get the kitten or not?” Shota fired back, dryly.

Aiko mentally rolled her eyes, and then sighed. She was allowing her anxiety to make her abrasive and ungrateful which couldn’t be further from the truth. Shota didn’t have to help her with her self-appointed task, but he did without asking any questions or demanding anything in return. Her heart squeezed inside of her chest tightly, and she glanced up at him through her eyelashes. “Thank you…for helping me, even though I know it’s the last thing you want to do,” Aiko whispered out.

She saw a flicker of surprise and perhaps a little bit of anger at her words before it smoothed out into that indifferent mask that he usually wore. “I have always let you know my door was open if you needed it,” Shota stated, very stern-faced.

But your actions never seemed to match your words.

Judging by the way his eyeballs about bugled out of his skull, Aiko realized that she had said that outloud. Her entire face blanched of color and she stumbled back, with the list clutched tight to her chest. “I,uh,” she stuttered, feeling like that flustered teenage girl once again. “That wasn’t meant to be said…it was a thought…I should go get the kitten supplies!”

Cue her hasty exit, stage left.

And so that was the beginning of the cautious co-parenting of Cinder the cat started.

Things didn’t certainly start off on the best foot and honestly she didn’t think Shota would have been involved after the first week if he hadn’t fallen in love with the black kitten like she had. There had never been a set agreement or discussion that led to them both sharing custody of the kitten. It just happened in a natural way, she would be called out to work and Shota would take care of him. If Shota was busy, then Aiko would take care of him. She remembered the day that Shota had brought paperwork to her classroom and discovered that she had cleared out a drawer to settle Cinder in with his blanket and heating pad. Upon the dry look she received, she snapped, “You do it, too!”

Yes, she was just a well of maturity.

Also her unfortunate slip up had gone unmentioned, though the way his eyes trained on her the last few days, she had a feeling he was strategizing just when and how to bring it up. He wasn’t a man of many words and he avoided sentimentality like the plague, preferring to appear a hardened and no-nonsense teacher and hero to the rest of the world. Present Mic (Yamada) and Midnight (Nemuri) managed to help break the monochrome of his world, which Aiko was happy about. She might not be as close to him as she once was, but she wanted him to have friends and do more than just fighting to save the world.

Hypocrite, a voice that sounded suspiciously like All-Might’s rang fondly in her skull. She and All-Might were two peas in a pod when it came to being a hero. Fighting to give all that they had and would give more, if they could, but she never really asked what motivations drove All-Might to become what he was. Aiko stared down at the little kitten, curled up into a tight ball while her class went about reworking the designs of their costumes and coming up with gadgets that could help them out in the field.

She supposed her motivation came from an event that changed her young life, year and year ago. Aiko didn’t grow up in the best of households. Her biological father had been an Italian man who had been in Japan on vacation, and it had been a one night stand situation rather than a relationship. Her bio-mother, Rin, never found or told her father about Aiko’s existence, and she didn’t even know the man’s name. Needlessly, Rin had been disowned—her family very rigid and traditional—for becoming pregnant out of wedlock. Rin had fallen through hard times and Aiko had been dragged into it all. She had been through being homeless, through the revolving door of boyfriends, and more.

The worst had been Cain, the last boyfriend her mother ever had. Cain had been an American “business” man which was a nice way to say he smuggled in drugs and other questionable things into Japan. He beat up her mom on a daily basis and Aiko learned to hide from the man unless she wanted to end up in the same way. It hadn’t been a pretty picture to say the least, and it all came to a moment when Cain held Rin and Aiko hostage with the police outside of the two story home.

Her mother had been shot, lying on the ground bleeding out. Aiko had been terrified, but at the sight of the gun pointed at her, an eerie calm had come over her. Water from the sink had burst from the pipes and wrapped around Cain’s wrist. It had crushed through the flesh and bone, and two heroes Gran Torino and Recovery Girl burst onto the scene. She remembered watching entrance while Gran Torino beat the snot out of Cain, and Recovery Girl helped heal her mom. In the quiet aftermath at the hospital, Gran Torino patted her on the head and told her good work on distracting Cain to give them the opening they needed to deescalate the situation—had told her that she had been very brave like any good hero should be.

She knew he said to placate and make a traumatized child feel better, but it was the moment that made her realize she wanted to be a hero. She wanted to save people and protect them from the dark parts of the world. It had opened her eyes to a possibility that had never existed before then, that she could be more than scrapping the bottom of the barrel and just living to survive. That if she fought and fought, that she could thrive against all odds. So maybe it was hypocritical for her—someone who had given so much to her job—to think Shota should be more sociable.

Aiko just didn’t want him to end up alone, or unhappy. Even after all this time, his happiness and welfare meant a great deal to her. She wished she had made that more apparent over the years, and felt shame that she hadn’t cleared up whatever misunderstanding had created the canyon of distance all these years. “This is very well done, Iida,” she smiled at the dark haired boy, who as always was the first to turn in his work. She looked over the project he had set up, where he had come up with a sleeker and more aerodynamic design for his suit. “I’ll send it down to the lab, and see what they can do with it.”

“Thank you, Miss Mizushima,” Iida smiled, proudly.

Aiko gave the boy a pass to go to the library since he was done early, knowing that him, Izuku and Uraraka had been working diligently to pass the upcoming midterm and had practically made the library their new home. One by one, her students completed their work and her gaze flickered periodically to the clock on the wall. She was looking forward to going home today, still sore from the very close call she had with Stain the Hero Killer over the weekend. The medicine was dwindling out of her system, and the burning pain in her side where the bastard’s sword had pierced still hurt. Recovery Girl did help, but refused to fully heal it. The old woman said that she needed a reminder not to be so reckless.

Perhaps, I am reckless, Aiko sighed, dropping her forehead on her folded arms when the door slid shut behind her last student. Looking down at the sleeping kitten who was purring lightly, she released a deep sigh before she rose out of her chair. She started putting away papers and shutting down the computers to wrap up the end of the day, with too many thoughts on her mind and ignored the buzzing of her cellphone. It was likely Midnight trying to get to have a Girl’s Night Out, and Aiko just wasn’t interested in that right this moment.

The door to her classroom opened, and she stiffened, glancing over her shoulder. A strange spasm crossed her face when she saw Aizawa standing there, and she cleared her throat, nervously. She neatly stacked the papers for tomorrow’s assignment and set them down on her desk, before she turned towards him. “Hello, Aizawa,” she greeted him, politely. “Are you here for Cinder?”

Aizawa stared at her, his eyes unusually focused on her every movement in a way that made her entirely too self-conscious. “Actually,” he said, quietly. “I’m here for you.”

And didn’t that sentence just do things to her heart that was warm, fluttery and just not fair. She felt her pulse hammered inside of her temples and her eyes were very wide with confusion. “I—what?” she gaped at him, her voice slightly breathless. “Has something happened? Am I needed somewhere?”

His jaw clenched, ever so slightly and his dark eyes turned away from her. He shut the classroom door behind him, and shoved his hands into his pockets, strolling nonchalantly into the room. He briefly stopped by the desk to check on Cinder, his lips twitching into a brief smile while he reached down to pet the sleepy kitten. It made Aiko feel

Her face softened ever so slightly. “Oh…I’m doing fine,” she responded, brushing a loose strand of hair out of her face. “Still a little sore, but alive so there’s that.”

A flicker of disquiet crossed his features and his lips thinned out in a tight line of disapproval. “What were you thinking of taking on Stain yourself? You are no match for him,” he chided her, eyes narrowed.

Okay, that truth hurt. Ouch, Aiko thought, with a wince. She had known she was out classed by Stain, but she couldn’t just let him kill Kamui Wood or any of the innocent civilians caught in the big accident, likely caused by the villain to lure a pro-hero in. She made a show of looking over her lesson plan to not let him see how his words affected her. “He was after Shinji who was pulling children off a school bus that crashed on the main highway. I fought Stain to buy everyone time,” she replied, her tone prime and proper in a way that she knew infuriated Shota.

“So you were sacrificing yourself,” Aizawa said, more than a little heat in his voice. His eyes flashed red for a split second and his ebony locks stirred upward before he reined in the impulse to oblivious give her a good thrashing.

“It wasn’t exactly plan A,” she fired back, defensively.

“It shouldn’t be a plan at all!”

Aiko reeled back, shocked by his vehement outburst. Her mouth went dry at the anger she found burning in his dark intense eyes, and her heart constricted painfully in her chest. There was something shaky and fragile that burned hotly in her chest. “What is this really about, Aizawa?” She asked, her voice more harsh than she meant it to be.

His chest expanded with a deep breath, and shuddered upon its release. He strode past her to peer out the windows at the grassy green fields that led to the track and training area. It was a beautiful and sunny day that was ill at place with the tension crackling in the air between them. “I had thought with you joining UA, repairing the bridges you burnt with Yamada and Nemuri that maybe you learned that being a hero is more than dying for a good cause,” Shota spoke, his voice low and dark. “But you still throw yourself recklessly into the fray, damn the consequence and damn anyone who you leave behind. I don’t know who is more determined to martyr themselves into an early grave, you or Toshinori.”

“That is not what I am doing,” she snapped, outraged by his accusation. “I was always taught to put others first. That the needs of the many outweigh the need of the few, and if there is something that I can do to help then I should do it.”

“Yes…those are important morals to instill, but if you don’t time if you don’t take care of you, there won’t be a you to care for others,” Shota scolded her, looking over his shoulder with a frosty expression. “What happens to everyone that depends on you if you are gone, Aiko? Helping others doesn’t mean not taking in account your own safety. A lesson you never quite managed to learn.”

Aiko felt heat unfurl in her face, feeling embarrassed and ashamed. The column of her throat quivered with a shaken breath, and she could feel the horrible sensation of tears start to form in her eyes. She bit the inside of her cheek, lowering her gaze to the floor and her lips trembled as she struggled to find words. “Is that why you became so cold to me? Because you think that I’m going to just run off and die and leave all of you to grieve without so much as a thought spared on you?” She looked at him, with a wounded expression.

“Why would I think otherwise when you’ve done so before?” Shota countered, after a pause.

“If you are talking about the mistake with Enji all those years ago, I swear to God that I’m going to beat you,” Aiko whispered out, her voice a low growl. “I didn’t mean for it feel like I abandoned all of you. I never meant for that to happen, and I apologized. What more do you want from me?”

She had dated the man who would become the World’s Second Best Hero briefly right before graduation. It had been a toxic and controlling relationship, in hindsight. She hadn’t realized how much Enji had cut her off from her friends and isolated her, until he told her of what was expected on her after they married. Enji had wanted her because her quirk clashed with his, complete opposites. Children born from two parents with conflicting quirks and inherited both of them, while extremely rare, were on average stronger than the norm. It had to do with something about genetics and natural selections, she didn’t quite care to remember.

Enji made it clear that he expected Aiko to work as a hero for a year or two, and then after they would marry she would be his perfect housewife and broodmare. She quickly broke up with him then and there, and he never quite forgave her for his bruised pride. Knowing what happened to the woman who became his wife, Aiko considered herself very, very lucky and she went out of her way to make sure that Todoroki Shoto was doing well. She knew how Enji was and wished there was more she could do for the young man.

“An explanation would have been nice when it mattered,” Shota commented, dryly.

“Obviously it still matters if you are hanging onto the anger all these years later,” Aiko retorted, with an eyebrow arched.

Shota crossed his arms, and waited.

Aiko stared at him, flatly. “Really?”

Shota cocked his head to the side.

All that frustration and all the feeling bubbled white in the back of her throat, Aiko felt tears brim in her eyes and she blinked them furiously away, shaking her head side to side. “You want to know why I desperately latched on to Enji? Why I let myself give him the time of day and give him more of myself than I should have?” She asked, with a saccharine tone in her voice and a sharp smile on her lips. “You act like the only way for me to get hurt is if I sacrifice too much of myself out in the field, but there are other ways of getting hurt. I could fall in love, give up on it because I overthink and told myself that it would just ruin a precious friendship I cherished more than anything in the world. I started to doubt everything I felt and it pushed me to make what I thought were safe choices. But love isn’t safe and it shouldn’t be safe. It should be the biggest risk anyone ever takes.”

He peered at her, a little furrow in his brow as he tried to read between the lines of her words. “Wha—what are you saying?” He asked, very quiet and for a moment, that awkward unsure boy she had met at thirteen could be seen inside of the man before her now.

“You never realized how much I fell in love with you, did you?” Aiko asked, softly.

Air exploded out his lungs and his face dropped in astonishment, his eyes flared wide and he stared at her like she was nothing he had ever seen before. The emotions that flickered across his face were like a dagger to her heart. She felt a couple of tears slid down her cheeks, and she wiped them away stubbornly. She turned her eyes away from him, unable to look at him any longer or she would give into the urge to just burst into sobs. She was tired, in pain and felt like she had been stretched too thin. She hadn’t wanted to reveal her feelings to Shota, and it hurt so badly right in this moment, but she also felt lighter. As if she had just released a burden, she hadn’t realized she had been carrying for so long.

She immediately went to go grab her purse, and pack up Cinder, because suddenly the classroom felt too small and too tight that she was going to suffocate to the death when arms wrapped around her waist from behind. She was pulled back against a hard chest, and Shota chin rested on top of her head. She fit easily in his arms like she had been made to belong there, and a painfully knot wedged like a shard of glass in the back of her throat.

“Do you remember how we met?” He asked, quietly.

Aiko nodded, shakily.

“Yamada was being bullied, and before I could march over, here you came flying across the track like your life depended on it. You were so beautiful and angry and a force of nature that I couldn’t help but to watch you,” Shota recalled, with a soft fondness in his voice that Aiko hadn’t heard in so long that it pulled a sob out of her. “I remember thinking that, I have to get to know this girl.”

Aiko felt like her heart was going to beat just out of her chest, and her quaking hands settled over his. She released a hard breath when he entwined his fingers with hers and gave a gentle squeeze. Slowly, he released her and turned her to look at him. “You did not think that,” she accused, with a watery and forced laugh.

“I did.” Shota was absolutely serious, and reached with a very tender touch to wipe away her tears which only seemed to create more. “I…” He looked down, abashed and chagrined. “Yamada and Nemuri told me over the years that I was foolish, but I was stubborn and pigheaded. I disliked your relationship with Enji as much as I disliked your lack of self-preservation, but I shouldn’t have allowed that to drive a wedge between us.”

Aiko closed her eyes, running a hand down her face. “It’s not all on you. I didn’t help with anything by avoiding you when I knew something had changed in our friendship. I’m so sorry,” she whispered out, feeling utterly exhausted. “I didn’t mean to drop this on you, and I never meant to tell you of these feelings I have for you—”

“Have?” He asked.

Have for you,” she reiterated, with pink on her cheeks. It made her feel dizzy to think about how the conversation had come to be here and Aiko supposed that she had just been done running. Avoiding Shota and their past just took too much out of her and she didn’t have it in her to put on a mask today. “They’ve never really gone away, just shoved down. It came out of me because I was tired of you looking through me like I meant nothing to you, like I was the worst person in the world.”

“That’s not how I see you,” Shota told her, with his eyes filled with horror and guilt. “I could never see you that way. There’s not a word good enough to describe what I feel for you.”

Aiko looked at him, overwhelmed. “Shota, I told that I loved you not because I wanted to guilt you. You don’t have to lie to me and say you feel the same way to try and make things better between us. I didn’t tell you any of this to make you feel indebted to me, because what happened was both of our faults, not just yours—”

“I don’t say things to spare people’s feelings, Aiko,” Shota smirked, thinly. “Surely you know that about me. I say what I mean, and I mean it when I say that you are important to me. Even with all the years and disagreements we have had, that has never changed and it’s not going to change.”

Aiko felt her emotions rush through her with such force that it made her knees nearly buckle, and she reached up to rub right above her heart that felt good and painful in the same moment. Before she could say anything else, Cinder started meowing loudly because it was time to feed him. She startled for all of a moment before letting out a shaky laugh, and then she looked solemnly up at Shota’s face. “I have to take care of Cinder, but…um, would you like to come over? For like dinner? Like we…uh, used to?”

Wow. Overeager, aren’t you? Her inner self snorted.

Shota gave her a toothy smile. “I’d like that.”

Their friendship, and whatever more could be, would take a bit of repairing. But as Aiko strode out of UA with a smile on her face and Shota by her side with Cinder in his hands, she felt like this was the beginning of a good start.

Who knew that picking up a kitten off the street could have led to so much change in a single week?

Chapter Text

Oil and Water

By ThroughtheMirrorDarkly

a Naruto oneshot for Anime Fanboy

Naruto was languidly reclined back against the pillows, naked as the day he was born. He was spent and sore, warm tingles running along his skin from head to toe. Half-moon cuts bruised around his thighs, and bite marks covered his neck. He regarded his partner though a blue half-lid gaze, with a lazy smile on his face. He had left quite a few marks of his own, a primal satisfaction welled up in him and inwardly, he could hear Kurama scoff and the whisper words "like rabbits" might have escaped the old Fox. It made Naruto bit back a chuckle, tunneling his fingers through is blond hair. A great many imagined that he would end up married to someone like Sakura and Hinata, after all the Nanadaime Hokage needed to be the perfect family man and pass on the powerful Namikaze and Uzumaki bloodlines…which he would do once he and Kiba found perfectly suitable surrogates to carry both their heirs.

Naruto Uzumaki and Kiba Inuzuka had gotten along like oil and water for the majority of their childhood. Butting heads and angry words filled up the majority of his memories. No one would have placed money on betting they’d end up romantically involved. The only one who seemed unsurprised had been Shino, who upon discovery of the relationship had said with a deadpanned voice, “I knew it.”

They were a volatile combination that shouldn’t work at all, but they did.

Naruto would have to say the shift from their rivalry/friendship came at the heart of the Fourth Shinobi War. Kiba had been a part of Naruto’s personal squadron, given that the great threat that stood against him and Kurama. He wasn’t sure if he could pinpoint the second that something that changed, but he supposed that it had started with a reluctant admiration for the witty and snarky Inuzuka heir. His leather jacket and the gleam of mischief that was in his eyes, that Naruto—a prankster at heart—could appreciate wholeheartedly.

When the losses in the war had piled up, so had the guilt on Naruto’s heart. He had been looking for an escape or a release, so he started at fight with Kiba. He hadn’t recalled what exactly he had said, only that his bitter words had been silenced by a harsh and violent kiss. It had shocked him, at first. It wasn’t that he didn’t like being kissed by a guy. Naruto had long come to realization that he was attracted to both women and men, but he hadn’t expected Kiba to do something like this. It took him a half of a second to contemplate whether or not he wanted this, and his fingers tangled into dark hair, he pulled himself flush against the hard and defined body to just lose himself.

It hadn’t been a gentle coupling, the two of them held too much on their shoulders to be gentle at the time, but it had given Naruto something vital that he had been lacking. So he started going out of his way to make it happen again and again. Start a fight only to end up pressed up against a wall with Kiba thrusting inside of him, with a tight hand around his pulsing length until both of the blissfully came.

It was an unhealthy coping mechanism. After the War ended and Konoha had been rebuilt, Naruto and Kiba had to address that elephant in the room because it had gone from illicit and quick encounters to something that meant more. Instead, of one night stands where one of them would be gone in the morning, it had turned into cuddling or holding each other tightly. The kisses weren’t just possessive and lust fueled, but sometimes, it was sweeter and held more meaning than Naruto had ever known.

Neither of them was good with emotions, so it had been painfully awkward conversation trying to figure out to expression that they wanted to move the relationship from casual into more permenant territory. In the end, they curled up on the couch just basking in each other and the word “love” that had tumbled from their lips. This hadn’t been what Naruto had expected at all, but he didn’t regret it one bit. He watched Kiba dry off from his quick shower, and slowly pull on his formal silk navy hakama. There was a Inuzuka clan meeting tonight, and Naruto didn’t envy his soon-to-be-husband one bit.

Kiba’s parents like to tease their son. His father would rib him for smelling like a “fox”, while his mother suggested sexual position to spice up their love life though Naruto would like to see the blush that would rise on Kiba’s cheeks, making his clan makings all that much brighter. His bright blue eyes flickered over to the camera on the nightstand, and he chuckled low in his throat. He couldn’t wait to have the pictures developed, and yes, he knew he was just as big—if not bigger—pervert than Kaka-sensei.

One would think, given the Inuzuka’s exhibition tendencies, that Kiba had been the one to suggest the sexy photography, but it actually was Naruto’s kink. Ever since he had become Hokage and tied to a desk, while Kiba was a part of the ANBU squads, the great many missions had kept the couple apart. So the blond had suggested with a sneaky grin that the two take some photographs to give them something to pass the time. And if you didn’t think that Naruto was going to take some interesting pictures to send in missives to his lover, just to reminder Kiba what was waiting for him at home then you’d be a fool.

“So how do you think the meeting is going to go?” Naruto smirked, broadly.

“I am going to want to stab everyone.”

“Just don’t get blood on your hakama. We have dinner reservations at seven,” the blond reminded him, rolling over on to his belly and propping his elbow on the bed to rest his chin in the palm of his hand. Ichiraku’s new grand reopening is happening and they’ve added five new flavors of ramen to their menu! Five!

Kiba smirked, leaning down to press a slow and languid kiss to Naruto’s lips. “Love you for enabling me.”

“Love you, too.”