Actions

Work Header

Micro-ficlets: Other Fandoms

Chapter Text

“By observing the interrupted curve of the left front facade, I can conclude that the party or parties responsible for building this house ran out of money at least four separate times during construction.”

“Holmes, there’s no way you could–”

“Furthermore, there is a great deal I can determine by considering the quality of the glass used for the observation window around the side.”

“Yes, they like bird watching!”

“The unique composition of the mulch suggests that–”

“Shut up!”

“…but–”

“No! The producers are going to edit all this out, and you don’t need to perform for me, not anymore. Sherlock, for once in your life, shut up!”

Holmes let out a sigh. “For you, John. Only for you.”

Chapter Text

Placing the sample in a petri dish, John scanned it with his tricoder. “Holmes, what’s your analysis?”

“Solid stone composed of gneiss, basalt, and marble with traces of mica and quartz. Density 6. Melting point 1567 Kelvin. Traces of biological matter suggest contamination by amoeba, most like the result of error on the part of the sample taker, and–”

“Stop, computer!” John interrupted, rubbing his forehead in exasperation. The Holmes AI always sassed him, and–

“That’s not what you said last night, Watson,” said the computer smugly.

Damn the day John decided to embark solo on deep space exploration. Damn. It. All.

Chapter Text

“Why does this powder taste like bacon?” asked Holmes, dabbing his pinky in the brown dust scattered on John’s prep table. “A most troubling development.”

John could only rock back on his heels and suppress a grin. He’d been a chef for years and for once, for the first damn time *ever,* he knew something Holmes didn’t.

Chapter Text

“So, uh…now that everything is out in the open, real talk…why did you hire me as a bodyguard if you have *massive telekinetic powers?*”

Talia shrugged. “You look gorgeous in that suit.”

“Hell,” Susan muttered, grabbed Talia, and kissed her.

No, she hadn’t asked permission, but if Talia didn’t want a kiss she could crush Susan like a bug and…

…not crushed…

…or maybe mutual crushes??…

…so Susan called that a win.

Chapter Text

“Susan - Susan, what about this one?”

“Ugh. No way. Too pastel. Too sparkly. It’s *gilt,* Talia.”

“Yeah…it’s great. Which is your favorite?”

“This.”

“Um. Hun. It’s a blank card.”

“Exactly. It’s perfectly serviceable, and it’s cheap.”

“No way, nuh uh, not at my wedding!”

“What’s wrong with it?”

“What’s right with it???”

“Ladies, may I help you with your selection today? Or perhaps your fiancee - the groom-to-be - could be a tie breaker?”

“She IS my fiancee!”

“God, can you believe the service in this place? Let’s go, hun.”

Chapter Text

Wary, Susan opened the last flap of the enormous box to reveal a large mesh cage and, within, wrapped entire, a habitat complete with food bowl, water, absorbant base, and…

“A hedgehog?” said an astonished Susan. Talia grinned at her. The small creature chittered up at Susan happily, spines clacking together.

“Do you like it?” Talia asked.

*no! I hate it! What do I need a pet for? Is she out if her mind? I–*

The hedgehog went belly up and Talia reached in to scritch the exposed, sensitive skin.

*and it’s so *cute* how dare she!*

“Why…why a hedgehog?” Susan couldn’t help but sound resigned. She was doomed.

“I named it Ivanova,” replied Talia fondly.

*…because I’m a prickly hedgehog. Of course. Dammit…*

“I hate you,” grumbled Susan hopelessly.

“I know,” said Talia, even more fondly.

 

Chapter Text

“I. Um. I won’t be here. Tomorrow.”

With her arms folded tight over her stomach, her shoulders hunched, her lips compressed in a thin grimace, Susan scarce resembled the vivacious girl that Talia had been meeting behind the main lodge all summer. Seeing her made small, seeing her afraid, hurt.

“Of course, if you want to stop, we’ll stop. I hope you don’t feel I’ve pressured you, or–”

“No!” Susan looked up, stricken. “It’s not you, it could never be…I mean…I just…I can’t stay.”

“I’d say I understand, but I don’t… but I do accept. Will you still go on the hike on Thursday?”

“I meant I’m leaving camp, Talia…I mean…” Susan shook her head. “I can’t do this.” Talia never thought to see the thing bold, fearless Susan couldn’t do. “Good bye.”

Unable to find an answer, Talia watched Susan go, her heart aching. They had a connection, she was sure they did, but she would never force Susan’s confidence.

But Talia would miss her, she’d miss Susan so much.

Making her forlorn way back to her cabin, Talia reflected on their young relationship, considering where she might have gone wrong. The sounds of summer surrounded her, children yelling, water splashing, leaves rustling, insects buzzing, and she let it all wash over her, until an incongruous sound broke through her reverie.

Crying.

Concerned, she followed the sound - would have anyway, as a counselor she had to keep an ear out for injured campers - to an outhouse shack no one used as bathroom any longer.

“Are you alright in there?” she called, knocking on the flimsy door.

“Oh, shit!”

“Susan?!”

“Just…just leave me alone, Talia.”

“If that’s what you want…”

“It’s *not,* God, of course it’s not, how can you think…”

“I don’t know what to think,” said Talia sadly, squatting before the door. “You haven’t told me.”

“My family,” Susan’s voice broke. “My family will never accept…you…never accept *me*…I don’t know what to do. I didn’t think going could hurt worse than staying but–” she broke off with a sob.

Talia’s blood ran cold, then shimmered warmth. She hadn’t done anything wrong. And maybe this could be fixed. There was still hope. “May I come in, Susan?”

There was silence, and then… “Yes…yeah…sure…”

Talia pushed the door open and slid forward onto her knees. Susan was curled in a ball on the floor, face to her knees, calves cloaked by her long dark hair. Talia slid an arm over her shoulders and Susan tumbled forward, crying on her shoulder.

“I thought I could lose you but I can’t…I can’t, Talia…”

“It’s okay.”

“Liar.”

“It’ll be okay. We’ll figure something out - we’ll keep fighting until we figure something out. Isn’t that the Ivanova credo?”

Susan nodded against her, laughing and crying. “This is gonna suck, isn’t it.”

“Certainly. But it will ‘suck’ less if we face it together.”

“I…um…I think I love you.”

And Talia held Susan until long after her tears ceased.

“I love you, too,” Talia whispered.

Chapter Text

A siren blares through the rebel camp, jerking Finn awake. Poe murmurs something indistinct, rolls over and steals all the blankets. Finn reaches over, shakes him to wake him, and jumps out of bed and too attention.

“What’re you doin’?” Poe asks, words slurring together with sleepiness.

“Alarm,” Finn says. He’s still tired, but that doesn’t matter. The siren means be prepared, and Finn will be ready. He knows his duty. “I’m awaiting orders.”

“No,” Poe replies petulantly.

“Yes,” Finn insists, walking over and shaking Poe again. “Do you want to get in trouble? Get up!”

“Finn…” Poe sighs and sits up, the blankets falling away to reveal his gorgeous bare chest and cut abs, the trail of hair leading down to…

Finn swallows and tears his eyes away, standing back in parade ground proper stance.

“Finn, come back to bed.”

“Poe!”

“Please - look at me?” Poe implores. Turning back, Finn is torn. He feels like a scolded child - because if he’s not ready when orders he’ll come, he will be in trouble, because Poe is looking at him with that awful pitying look that always makes Finn feel like he’s forgotten how to be a human again. Smiling, Poe reaches up and cups Finn’s cheeks. “I don’t know what you’ve been through, and you don’t have to tell me. I can make some inferences based on what I know of…but…yeah. Look, what I’m saying is, that was just the signal announcing a new transport had landed with recruits. It wasn’t an alarm, and even if it was, that’s not how they’d let us trouble was coming, and you wouldn’t be in trouble for not dropping everything, instantly, to be at their beck and call. This isn’t…it’s not the same. You’re safe here, Finn.”

“Safe…”

Poe pulls him down, tugs him into a kiss, and a tension Finn never noticed before eased in his chest. He gasped and sank to his knees, and Poe kissed him again.

“You’re safe, precious. I swear it, okay?”

Finn nods.

“Say the words,” Poe says.

“Okay…” Finn breaths.

“Good! Now, come back to bed,” Poe grins, pointing at the mattress beside him imperiously.

“Yes, sir,” Finn manages a returning grin.

…I’m safe…

…I can’t rest until all of us, every single one, every single Storm Trooper, is allowed this safety as well.

I never thought I had a future before.

I have a brilliant future, in the rebellion, with Poe.

We all have a future.

“What are you thinking about how much I love you…”

“Flatterer,” says Poe, rolling the blankets and his body atop Finn’s and kissing him. “What’d I tell you?”

“Flattery will get me everywhere?”

“Damn right.” Poe nuzzled at Finn’s neck, rocked their hips together. “I love you so damn much, you fool.”

Neither said anything for a long, long time.

There was no where else they need to be. This was enough duty for them, enough for one night…

 

Chapter Text

“But what if it…what if it tastes gross?” Finn objected, nerves jangling. He blinked, eyelashes brushing against the cloth of the blindfold that Poe had insisted he wear, and tried to calm himself down. Open or closed, the world was equally dark, but somehow he felt more in control when his eyes were open.

“It won’t,” said Poe coaxingly. Warm hands, skin calloused from years of hard work, closed around Finn’s hands. Poe threaded their fingers together, using his thumbs to rub soothing circles in the palms of Finn’s hand. “Trust me.”

“I do,” breathed Finn. His eyes slipped shut. His mouth fell open.

But why the blindfold? Why won’t he let me watch? Why…

A shiver trailed up Finn’s spine as Poe’s hands left his. Clatters, scrapes, and whooshes spoke to Poe moving about the room. Something beeped, and Poe’s footsteps approached once more. A delicious smell forecast his return. The aroma was unfamiliar, reminiscent of the many strange foods that the rebels at the base ate regularly.

Finn had subsisted on a diet of standard rations, bland and nutritious, for as long as he could remember.

Clamping his mouth shut, he swallowed hard.

“It’s okay,” said Poe soothingly. Squeezing his eyes shut so hard tears pooled in the corners, Finn forced his mouth open again. “This is eel - that’s a type of fish we ate a lot on Yavin 4 when I was a kid - in a spicey vegetable-based sauce. One of my mother’s few specialty dishes.”

“Did you make it?” asked Finn, surprised.

“Pava helped,” Poe shrugged. “Are you ready?”

Finn gave a decisive nod, surprised to find his nerves dissipating.

Of course they’re fading. If Jessika helped make it, I can be sure it’s not poisonous.

Finn chuckled.

“I know what you’re thinking,” Poe said, a teasing note in his voice. “I did most of the work, it could still be toxic.”

Nope, Finn still didn’t feel nervous.

He opened his mouth.

Pungent liquid brushed against his lips, sloshed into his mouth, and unbelievable flavor flooded his mouth. A chunk of flaky meat slid from the spoon onto his tongue and Finn fought the urge to gag. It wasn’t that it tasted bad, it was that it tasted…it tasted. He’d managed to avoid the local cuisine, sticking to what seemed most familiar - MRE packets, hard tack, the fare meant for resistance members’ last-ditch supplies. Everyone, Poe included - heck, himself included - thought him weird for it. Now, with something completely new, completely alien in his mouth, Finn realized he scarce even knew how to eat something like this.

With my mouth, idiot.

Finn chewed.

It was…it was yummy.

He broke into a smile.

“You like it?” asked Poe hopefully.

Nodding enthusiastically, Finn said, “I do like it! What are we going to try next?”

“Yes!” Poe cheered. “Okay - okay, this one is called chocolate and the General herself gave me some…”

Chapter Text

A hush fell over the Caffe Florian as a tall man swathed in black robes stepped within the smoky room. Even with his Carnival mask obscuring his face, there was no mistaking who he was. No one else in Venice moved with such flare, such confidence.

Il Pilota.

The greatest gondolier in the city, knowledgable about every channel, every eddy, every current, able to navigate a gondola day or night, rain or shine, through any canal or even out into the ocean.

Sweating beneath his mask, Finn wished he had a fraction of the confidence that Il Pilota demonstrated with every dramatic sweep of his cape. If Finn had to approach the man he was doomed…but he wasn’t Finn, not that night, he was just another masked Carnival celebrant, another shadow out for the night, hiding from the storms outside in the lurid wonder of Florians. He waited until the hubbub around Il Pilota’s arrival died down, waited until the next celebrity graced the Caffe, and made his approach.

“Any amount you name if you can get me out of the city tonight,” he murmured as he passed close.

Il Pilota snagged his wrist. “No payment needed. All I ask is adventure and a story that will wow the city from scullion to doge come tomorrow.”

“Deal.”

Chapter Text

“Rey, I just don’t know.”

“Finn…he lent you his leather jacket.”

“He’s such a generous guy - I’m sure he’d lend you the shirt off his back if you asked for it.”

“He called you sweetheart.”

“He calls fricken Hux sweetheart, and he hates Hux.”

“Remember how happy he was when you visited when he was sick?”

“That was only cause I brought him that soup you made.”

“My friend. My dude. Last night when he came in to the dining hall, he kissed you on the lips. For goodness sake!”

“Maybe it was just a bro kiss!”

“A bro kiss.”

“Yeah! You know…a kiss. Between bros!”

“…you’re hopeless.”

“I just…how am I supposed to figure out if he likes me the way I like him?”

“Absolutely. Hopeless.”

Chapter Text

“What’s that smell?” Jayne asked around a mouthful of food, turning a licentious gaze toward Kaylee that set Simon’s hackles on edge - as if an omega like him could do anything against…

…wait, smell?

He took a covert sniff of himself. Yeah, that was absolutely the reek of omega heat coming on.

With everything with his sister, he’d forgotten take his suppressants.

Jao gao.

“Don’t lookit me,” Kaylee said, shoving Jayne playfully. “Ain’t no omega.”

And she turned to Simon.

And her gaze was surprisingly similar to the one Jayne had aimed at her.

And Simon suddenly found he didn’t mind that look so much after all.

Chapter Text

Horatio adjusted the sensors as he scanned the internment planet.

There were plants, animals, prisoners of a dozen or more species, all manner of high tech security systems making a break out - or a break in - nearly impossible, and…

It wasn’t possible.

It couldn’t be possible.

“One known life pattern detected.”

The computer flashed an image of the recognized life signs.

There was only one human on the works below.

And it was Archie.

That day returned to Horatio in awful flashes - boarding the Papillon, drilling through her hull, storming her bridge, Simpson trying to kill him, and Archie, trapped in an escape pod, launched into space…gone before Horatio could alert the captain that the crewman needed rescue.

Archie was *alive.*

Horatio didn’t care how impenetrable the planet was.

He’d burn down the universe to save Archie.

Chapter Text

The echoes of the explosion still rung in Rose’s ears as she rose, dusting herself off. The Doctor started to rise and she hissed and knocked him back to ground.

“Rose, I–!”

“No, it’s not safe yet! We have to be sure…”

“What’s going on?”

She glanced down at him, his hair even more a mess than usual, his suit smudged dirt, his tie askew. His eyes blazed passion and fury and Rose had never been more in love, and never been more sure that…

“I have to go,” she said.

“Right, of course, you saved my life - again - how dare you?” the Doctor replied mildly, rolling to sit on his butt on the ground, looking up at her through long lashes. He was so beautiful. How dare he.

“I didn’t save your life. I risked your life. They wouldn’t come for you if I wasn’t your bodyguard. I have to go.”

“No.”

“I quit.”

“I decline your resignation.”

“I know you’re used to getting your own way, but you can’t make me stay!”

But isn’t it nice that he wants to try?

“What’ll happen if you leave?”

“They’ll probably kill me,” she shrugged. After all the things she’d done, she had it coming. It was a damn miracle she’d lasted as long as she had. “But you’ll be safe. And since, ya know, keeping you safe was what I was hired to do, I’ll call that a win.”

“Right, so, I can’t let you leave. If you go, I’ll follow you.”

“How?”

The Doctor moved so quickly, leaping to his feet, grabbing her wrist, that it took her a moment to process what he’d done.

There was a handcuff around his wrist. There was a handcuff around Rose’s wrist.

Bloody. Damn. Wanker.

“Why’d you do that?” She couldn’t even angrily gesticulate! Aaargh!

“Because now we have to figure this out. Together.” He smiled smugly. Like he’d won.

He’d won.

Rose wanted to be angry but he looked so gorgeous grinning like that, and to know she mattered that much to him…

“Fine. We’ll figure it out together. Or die together. You idiot.”

“I can live with that! Or, ya know, not!”

Rose was doomed.

Chapter Text

Cut.

Blood dripped off the dismounted door that served as a table.

Cut.

Screams and moans, whimpers and sobs, explosions and gunfire, filled the air.

Cut.

Nitre and feces and decay made the air reek.

Cut.

Exhaustion blurred Julian’s vision, made his muscles weak, made his grip on the saw tenuous.

Cut.

Callouses tore open on his hands, pain - his own as well as that of others - the only constant.

Cut.

Another slab of meat that Julian couldn’t bear to think of as a man was lifted onto his operating table.

Cut.

Another slab of meat.

Cut.

Another slab of meat.

Cut.

Another.

Cut.

Another.

Cut.

Another.

Cut.

Ano–

“Julian.”

A hand closed on his shoulder, gentle, so heavy he was driven to his knees. Blinking through vision turned red, he looked up. Miles looked a specter, a ghost, a memory of a world that wasn’t war and guts and surgery and helpless, desperate attempts to do as much as he could for as many soldiers as possible.

“You’ve got to rest.”

Julian looked around the barn-turned-hospital, every inch of ground covered by injured men. He looked back to Miles and saw the same impotent exhaustion reflected on his face.

This was too much.

“I have to–”

“You have to rest,” said Miles firmly.

Nodding, Julian let Miles tug him to his feet and lead him from hell and out toward the sent where the other surgeons rested.

“You’ve done enough.”

“Its never enough,” Julian whispered, “but it’s all I can do.”

“Then it’s enough.”

And Julian believed Miles.

Because he wanted to believe he hadn’t failed.

Because everything else he’d believed in was gone.

And he had to believe in something.

Chapter Text

Julian’s parents greeted him after his treatment with a new stuffed toy for his collection.

“Her name is Hallie,” said mother kindly. “We thought she could be your nurse.”

Julian resisted the urge to roll his eyes, already calculating how best to make the absurd toy disappear without his parents suspecting.

Before his treatments he’d had scope for make believe. He was never going to amount to anything, not as he was, that’s what dad said.

But now?

He could be an *actual* doctor. He didn’t need to pretend.

“Thanks, mom,” he said, unable to keep disdain from his voice.

She looked…sad.

But Julian was better now.

She should be happy.

At least dad was smiling.

They’d both understand in time. Julian was going to make something of himself. He was going to be 7 soon, and he could finally be a success, be someone his dad could be proud off.

Though, watching his mother as she continued to offer the hippo, he couldn’t help but wonder if he’d traded the love of one parent for that of the other.

A hard spot of pain formed in his chest, and he tried to ignore it, but he couldn’t silence his thoughts.

Why was the way he was, however that may be, ever good enough for them?

“Let’s go home,” he announced, trying to sound mature, grabbing the hippo.

Maybe he could play doctor once or twice more.

Just to make mom happy.

Chapter Text

“But Miles, you don’t understand. I AM too sexy for my shirt.”

Chapter Text

“Takahashi san!”

Surprised to be address by name - addressed like *that* - Shiro turned on a heel to see a young man bent over, breathing hard as if he’d run a distance.

Shiro had been dancing for six hours straight, in drag, in heels, locked in a cage dangling over the disco. And this *boy* was breathless from crossing the dance floor?

Amateur.

“Yes?”

“Please!” The boy dropped to his knees in supplication. He looked up, the light catching his fine features, his dark hair, and shining eyes. “Teach me to dance like you!”

Shiro stared down at him.

“Name?”

“Keith Kurogane.”

Shiro quirked an eyebrow disdainfully. “Name??”

The boy smiled, leapt to his feet, and did a swirl that flared the fringe of his outfit. “Iron Maiden.”

Shiro watched him, brazen and bold, and to his surprise, Keith didn’t shy away, didn’t flinch, didn’t break eye contact.

Excellent.

He turned to go, and heard Keith’s breath catch.

“Well?” He asked, looking over his shoulder. “Coming?”

“Yes!”

Chapter Text

"I hate this," muttered Bitty, flicking a finger under Jack's chin. The touch stung, Bitty's nail just barely snagging on the mostly-healed stitches, the red line that promised to fade to Jack's newest white scar.

"It barely hurt," Jack offered reassuringly. "And it's hardly the first time. And I doubt that it'll be th4 last "

"Is that supposed to make me feel better?" replied Bitty acidly.

"Hazards of the job," Jack apologized with a shrug that dislodged Bitty from his comfortable position sprawled over Jack's chest. With a moue of irritation, Bitty sat up, adorable and disheveled as he looked down at Jack.

"While your cavalier attitude toward injuries is troubling, that's not what I'm upset about." 

Surprised, Jack propped himself up on his elbows, blanket slipping down his chest and exposing more old scars. Bitty's scowl deepened. "Then what?" 

"They've marked you. It's like they own a piece of you. No matter how many hickies I make, or how deeply I claw you, or how hard I spank that perfect behind, the marks fade in a few days. I'm temporary, but these..." Running a finger over the ragged line stretched over his abs, Bitty's shoulders slumped. "It's stupid, I know."

...damn, Bitty was right.

And now that Jack saw the scars that way, too, they also bothered him.

Jack rolled to his feet in a flurry of blankets, ignoring Bitty's startled exclamation. He strode to the kitchen, eyes his knife block a moment before selecting a steak knife, and returned to the bedroom before Bitty got farther than the edge of the bed in pursuit. Flipping the knife in his hand, he held the grip toward Bitty, serrated edge tingling against his palm.

Bitty stared at the handle, stared at Jack's face, looked hus exposed body over from head to toe and back up again. Uncertain, licking his lips, Bitty opened his mouth, made a questioning sound, then went silent, shaking his head.

"Your turn," Jack said gently.

"Jack...what?"

"You're right," said Jack. "And I never want you to feel that way ever again when you look at me, because I'm yours. So...please...make your mark, Bitty. Eric. Make it last."

Wide eyed with wonder, Bitty took the knife in his trembling hand, rose and circled around Jack once, twice. He felt naked in the best possible way under that considering gaze, and when Bitty finally stopped before him, finally pressed the blade to his chest, finally sliced into his skin...

...he felt a sting of pain, a rush of euphoria, and astonishing, encompassing feeling of *right* and *good* and *yours.* His skin pulled and tore, the pain mounted, his eyes slipped shut. Time dilated, every second endless. The shaking of the blade faded as Bitty's confidence grew. Love swelled Jack's chest as Bitty's blade cut.

He wasn't sure how long has passed, wasn't sure how long Bitty had been finished, wasn't sure how long he'd been whimpering, "yours, yours, yours," into the quiet room, when the warmth of Bitty's body crowded him and lips brushed hot and sensual against his. 

Jack opened his eyes at last, lashes thick with tears, as Bitty stepped back.

"Do you like it?" Bitty asked shyly.

Bitty's chest bore a stamp in blood, a mirror of the Jack's newest and best wound smeared over Bitty's skin when they had stood chest to chest. 

A perfect heart, carved over Jack's heart.

"I love it," Jack breathed. "I love you so much." Bitty eased into a gorgeous smile. "One question, though." Bitty tensed. "Do you really think cutting it once will be enough?"

And Bitty glowed. "Well I'm not sure, Mr. Zimmermann...I guess if it doesn't I'll have to try again until it takes."

"Please do," Jack said, leaning forward for a kiss. His chest burned, lines of blood seeping down his skin. "Take me whenever, however, as often as you'd like, Mr. Bittle."

Laughing happiness, Bitty melted against him, groping, caressing, kissing, nipping. 

"And now everyone in the locker room will see - you're mine, Jack. This heart, and the one beneath it? All mine."

"Always, Eric. Always."

Chapter Text

“Bless me Father, for I have sinned…”

Eric swallowed, closed his eyes slowly, opened them again. He knew that voice - knew it too well - it’s existence was sin and what it did to Eric was worse.

“…it’s been…um…two years since my last confession…”

Why did it have to be Mr. Zimmermann?

Silence stretched out.

Right.

Eric was supposed to speak.

“Proceed…”

“Maybe I…maybe I shouldn’t be here…” mumbled Mr. Zimmermann. “You’re not the person I should…but I don’t know where else to go…” Through the decorative screen that divided them, Eric watched Mr. Zimmermann’s throat bobble as he swallowed, watched the folds of cloth around his neck press into his skin with every inhale.

Too perfect.

Too beautiful.

Too dangerous.

But Eric had a job to do, and he’d do it.

“Whatever you are most comfortable with, my son.” He even managed a semblance of sage wisdom and distance. 

Mr. Zimmermann leaked an obscene noise.

Tingling itched up Eric’s arms, down his legs, trembled through his core, and he kept still only by digging his nails into his knee so hard that skin broke despite the protection of his vestments.

“I’ve had…inappropriate thoughts…about y…about an inappropriate person,” Mr. Zimmermann stammered.

Eric had thought having Jack Zimmermann sitting in the front row of church every Sunday, dapper in his perfectly cut suit, boots polished to a high sheen, was the greatest trial he’d ever face.

How naive he’d been.

“I’m sorry!” Mr. Zimmermann exclaimed. “I have to…”

Bright light dazzled Eric’s eyes as Mr. Zimmermann surged forward and slammed open the door of the confessional booth. Frozen with shock, Eric didn’t react until he heard a clatter and crash followed by “Merde!” Shaking his head, Eric rose, exited the booth, and found Mr. Zimmermann sprawled on the floor clutching his trouser-clad knee, a pew knocked askew where he’d crashed into it.

“Are you alright?” Eric asked, dropping to a squat beside Mr. Zimmermann and offering him a hand up.

“I’m…I’m…I don’t know what I am,” confessed Mr. Zimmermann.

He looked up.

Their eyes met.

Mr. Zimmermann took his hand.

Soft skin brushed on soft skin, strength met strength, and Eric bit his lip against a longing noise. The moment shattered as Mr. Zimmermann leapt to his feet, dragging Eric upright with him, but their hands remained clasped.

Eric didn’t want to let go.

Judging by the look on Mr. Zimmermann’s face, he didn’t want to let go either.

Impossible…

…but the things Mr. Zimmermann had said in the booth had suggested…

“Sir?” asked Eric.

“Oh!” Mr. Zimmermann exclaimed, jerking his hand away and wiping it on the front of his jacket. “I’m sorry…this was…this was all wrong, completely wrong, and–” He tried to step away but his knee gave way.

Acting on instinct, Eric caught him.

Hard flesh met hard flesh, cloth rustled against cloth, and Mr. Zimmermann stopped inches from Eric’s face.

The Lord knows my sins. The line between thought and action is negligible, non-existant, and he’s right there, so close, touching me…

…when was the last time I touched anyone?

Eric closed his eyes, tilted his head up, shifted forward enough to close the distance between them to scant millimeters of cool air…

…and Mr. Zimmermann must have moved as well, for their lips met.

“Oh…” Eric breathed.

“I’m sorry,” Mr. Zimmermann whispered, but he didn’t move. With every sound, their mouths met.

“Don’t be,” replied Eric. “This is…um…this is very nice, Mr. Zimmermann.”

“Jack,” corrected Mr. Zimmermann, curling an arm around Eric’s waist. “Please, father…and maybe…”

“You can call me Eric…”

“…and maybe, you could call me son again some time?”

“Anything for you, my son.” 

Jack shuddered and breathed a deep, lovely noise against Eric’s mouth.

“I have so much to confess,” Jack murmured, nudging Eric forward toward the privacy of the confessional booth.

Forgive me, Lord, for I have sinned…and I expect to spend a great deal more time sinning in the days to come…

…and if that means I’m damned…

…then I’ve always been damned.

 

Chapter Text

With a final toss of her electro-chakram, Xena smiled as the last attacker fell. Maybe death was a little more harsh than they deserved, given their infraction...

“Why did you do that?” 

...but if they’d harass a droid, they’d surely done worse in the past. The loss of their ilk was a net positive to the universe. Turning to their hapless victim, Xena was unsurprised to see that her expression didn’t match her shocked tone. There were some facial expressions that even the best tech simply couldn’t replicate, and astonishment was considered a non-essential emotion.

“Do what?”

This is the part where her ethics coding kicks in and she gets upset because I killed them, or maybe attacks me, or--

The android flat expression turned to the bloody corpses of her attackers, and then to Xena. “...you protected me…” 

Xena half-shrugged, securing her electro-chakram on her gear belt. “You deserved protecting.” Even if the droid attacked, the electro-chakram wouldn’t help. 

A long moment passed in silence.

Then, to Xena’s surprise, the android rose, nodding as if to herself, and then leapt across the distance between them--

--Xena took up a defensive stance--

--and embraced her exuberantly.

Wait, what?

“Thank you,” whispered the android.

“You’re welcome.”

“I’m G-B-R-L model 6536. Can I stay with you, for a while? Traveling alone has...really...not been going well.”

“Fuck that,” snapped Xena. The startled android leaned back from her, expression still neutral. “I’m Xena.” That would take some getting used to. “And you’re...Gabrielle. Gaby.”

“...Xena...Gaby…”

“And damn right, you’re coming with me.”

“...Xena...yeah, I’d like that.” Gaby smiled slowly, as if she’d never tried to make her facial protocols work quite like that. “I’d like that a lot!”

Chapter Text

Lan Wangji had never failed at a Night Hunt.

Never .

But the lilting song filled his mind and destroyed his will to resist. Sword-flying the last stretch to the creature’s island home, Lan Wangji stepped ashore and his first look at the monster that had enticed so many victims to damnation.

Lan Wangji never failed a Night Hunt, and he could still shake off this beguilement, surely he could but...

The siren was beautiful , enticing, long hair draped over his shoulders, black robes gathered about his legs, mouth open wide in song, expression deceptively gentle and innocent.

The part of Lan Wangji’s brain yet free of enchantment couldn’t help but acknowledge an unsettling reality.

There was a first time for everything.