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Story [Multi-fandom] "That Would Be Enough", Ficlets and Drabbles

Discussion in 'Non Star Wars Fan Fiction' started by Mira_Jade , Aug 3, 2018.

  1. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Title: "That Would Be Enough"
    Author: Mira_Jade

    Fandom
    : Multi-Fandom
    Rating: PG
    Genre: Everything
    Characters: Everyone (See the Index for Details)

    Author's Notes: Originally, I wanted to start this thread for the MMM Spoonfuls of Mush challenge - but my drabbles turned into ficlets, and now here we are. So, I am going to start this thread to store my NSWFF odds and ends, and get to working on the MMM challenge properly in another thread. ;)

    In the meantime, I thank you guys for reading and hope that you enjoy! :)

    Disclaimer: Nothing is mine, but for the words. (And the title is a Hamilton nick, of course, because I can. [face_whistling] :p [face_love])







    Index of Contents
    I. "With Both Hands" (Marvel Cinematic Universe) | Hope/Scott & Janet | Pepper/Tony | Jane/Thor & Frigga | Natasha & Clint/Laura | Shuri & Bucky & Steve

    II. "What We Lost in the Flood" (Marvel Cinematic Universe) | Natasha & Steve | Pepper/Tony

    III. "This Nearest Star" (Voltron: Legendary Defender) | Allura & Shiro

    IV. "In Your Orbit" (Voltron: Legendary Defender) | Lotor & Acxa

    V. "You Would Never Break the Chain" (Marvel Cinematic Universe) | Gamora & Loki | Gamora/Peter Quill

    VI. "The Distance Light Travels" (Voltron: Legendary Defender) | Krolia/Keith's Father & Keith & Acxa

    VII. "I'll Be Your Satellite" (Voltron: Legendary Defender) | Pidge & Hunk & Lance | Sam Holt & Krolia

    VIII. "A Soft Epilogue" (Voltron: Legendary Defender) | Allura/Shiro | Lotor/Acxa

    IX. "No Greater Gift Than This" (My Hero Academia) | Shimura Nana & All Might & Gran Tarino

    X. "One and Together" (Star Trek: AOS) | Sarek/Amanda & Spock

    XI. "A Place of Rest" (Star Trek: AOS) | Spock/Uhura

    XII. "Your Sword and Shield" (Stranger Things) | Mike Wheeler/Eleven

    XIII. "In the Works" (Marvel Cinematic Universe) | Tony Stark & Ensemble

    XIV. "All You Battle Worn" (Marvel Cinematic Universe) | Sif & Steve | Bucky/Shuri & Okoye | Steve/Peggy & Bucky



    ~MJ @};-
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2019
    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha likes this.
  2. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    I. “With Both Hands”
    (Marvel Cinematic Universe)

    Surprise (Ant Man and the Wasp | Hope Van Dyne/Scott Lang & Janet Van Dyne)

    The Van Dyne family kitchen hadn’t smelled this good in . . . well, Hope couldn’t remember how long. It’d been years since the last time the oven was turned on for anything more than frozen food, let alone used for a creative purpose. Her father most definitely Did Not Cook, and she – well, the aroma of spices and the feel of kneading bread and the taste of sweet baked concoctions had always been her mother’s domain. After her loss, there was never much of a reason to go into the kitchen again.

    Yet, now . . .

    Now, her mother was back and folding herself into their lives (almost) as easily as if they’d never been apart. The entire house smelled like crystallized brown sugar and warm butter and melting chocolate. It was a scent straight from her memories, stinging at her eyes as she walked through the door and followed her nose to the kitchen. There, with the same critical gaze that first theorized how to explore the infinitesimal and peer between molecules, Janet inspected her first batch of cookies all the while being aware enough to bat Scott’s hand away from the bowl of raw cookie dough and banter with her husband. “This is science, Henry," she fondly chided. "It’s chemistry of the best sort. Don’t worry – there’ll be time enough to lose ourselves in the lab again, be patient.” To which her father actually pouted in reply, like a child. (Since having her mother back, she was learning a side of her father that she never knew existed before. Sometimes, he reminded her of Scott in a bizarre way – which she certainly did not want to think about.)

    “Hope!” Scott happily bounced from foot to foot when he saw her. As always, his good cheer was contagious; his smile twisted at her heart and refused to let go. “Your mom is the best and I want her to be my mom too and I’m so glad we got her back.” As he gushed, he took another still too-hot cookie from the baking sheet, even though it burned his fingers and then his mouth. Yelping, he reached for his glass of milk, and gulped the drink down to nullify the burn from the half-melted chocolate. Janet sighed at his antics, but clearly already understood that there was only so far her words would go. The rest, Scott would have to figure out on his own.

    “It smells amazing,” Hope's voice was smaller than she intended as she met her mother’s eyes with a hesitant smile. Janet’s cheeks flushed, and she tucked a silver-blond lock of hair behind her ear with an expression that was almost bashful - that was, if she didn’t know her mother any better. Because this was her mother, who was so strong and poised and graceful in everything she did. There was no way that she could have felt as overwhelmed as Hope certainly did.

    “These were your favorites once – but that was almost thirty years ago,” somewhat sheepishly, Janet met her eyes to explain. “I don’t know if that's changed . . . but I was hoping they still would be.”

    The words caught at something deep within her. They sounded like from a dream - a beautiful, perfect dream, but a dream, nonetheless. Hope wasn’t used to the universe giving things back to her, but this – this, she’d take and hold onto tight with both hands. She refused to let it go.

    “No,” she took a cookie from the tray and assured her mother – her mother, holding her eyes all the while, “they’re even better than I remember.”



    Present (Post-Spiderman: Homecoming | Pepper Potts/Tony Stark & Peter Parker)

    Eventually, Peter Parker became something of a fixture in their Manhattan penthouse.

    “I need help with my homework, Mr. Stark,” the boy would always give a dimpling smile to greet, and before Pepper knew it they’d both be holed up in the lab tinkering with some project or the other - with Peter’s calculus books now a coaster for sodas, and his physics homework completed with suspicious ease - or on the couch eating pizza and playing seemingly endless rounds of Call of Duty. Eventually, Pepper stopped questioning Peter’s presence and instead just folded the teenager into the ever shifting landscape that was her life with Tony. What was more than that, she’d happily take anything that would return Tony’s smile and hold onto it tight with both hands, if she was completely honest with herself. After all, there hadn’t been laughter in the lab since Bruce’s silent corner was filled, or since Jane Foster stole in and out to pick his brain. Tony hadn’t made gifts for his friends since . . . well, Pepper knew better than to dwell on that for too long without wanting to take a swing of her own at Captain America’s chiseled, perfectly square jaw and make it hurt. But she couldn’t, and so, she did not.

    Instead, she simply thanked whatever power in the universe that was responsible for returning this one small thing to Tony. Peter’s inclusion in their lives was a gift, so much so that -

    “You don’t think I’m too old to be a dad, do you, Pep?” later that night, his voice was unusually soft in the dark – small, in a way that Tony never was. (It was the same voice he spoke of Afghanistan and the Chitauri and Steve in.) His hands were antsy as he played with her hair, always fidgeting with some project or the other in his mind and tinkering to exorcise his ideas.

    “If you’re too old to be a father, that means I’m too old to be a mother,” was her answer to that. She shifted so that she could glance over at him, but his expression was lost in the shadows. “Do I look too old to you, Mr. Stark?”

    The name and the tone did it – or, at the very least, her teasing took the edge away from his thoughts. For just a moment, she thought she glimpsed the flash of a smile. Pepper felt a weight shift in her chest, and she wished that she could do more. “Oh not at all, soon-to-be-Mrs. Stark. I might be feeling every bad decision I’ve made since 1980 catch up with me, but you don’t look a day past Kappa Kappa Gamma at Stanford - ”

    - for that, she thumped him on the chest. “Charmer,” she rolled her eyes, even if she appreciated the sentiment. “You’re a liar, but a charming one.”

    “It’s one of my best qualities - guilty,” Tony agreed, completely unrepentant, and she huffed a breath out through her nose. But, lately, his smile never stayed for too long, and this time was no exception. She peered at him, knowing that he wasn’t asking about his age, per se, but, rather -

    “ - and you’d make a wonderful father, Tony,” she whispered, resting her cheek right against the glow of his arc reactor. She’d gotten used to its presence at night; she hadn’t slept much at all during the time she’d kept herself away. “Don’t sell yourself short.”

    “Well, you’d make a great mother, at least,” after a tellingly long moment, he had to quip to cover up the tightness in his voice. She felt his fingers still in her hair. “I can always count on you to clean up my messes.”

    “But this one I’d be figuring out with you, Tony,” she didn’t let him go so easily – she wouldn't again. “Always with you.”



    Together (Thor: The Dark World | Jane Foster/Thor & Frigga)

    She never fully understood what it meant to be human until walking the hallowed ways of Asgard.

    Everywhere she looked there was something or someone steeped with history and time - eternity, in a way she couldn’t possible begin to comprehend. It didn’t matter how happy Thor was to show her his home: Jane, look! That is where Loki and I played as boys; we learned to swim in this fjord; we learned to ride horses in this stretch of land. Look: this is where Sif broke my nose - the first time, at least - and then followed us faithfully ever since. It fell short when Jane could see the looks of the Aesir that passed them by. They regarded her with disinterest, not even bothering to look down their noses and sneer, as if she was something ephemeral and fleeting and tiny. Even if Thor carried on with . . . whatever this was between them (love, she knew she loved him – so fiercely and completely that it scared her at times), they wouldn’t have to worry about her for long. She was, by the constraints of her own genetics, capable of being nothing more than a passing fancy, a phase. She couldn’t be his equal in every way, no matter how much she wanted to be. And while she refused to let anyone put her down (thank-you very much, Odin) and condescend to her like a child, she nonetheless understand one very simple fact:

    Eventually, she would grow old and die. She had only decades left to her, while Thor had centuries yet to live. And, in the meantime, if he was called upon his birthright to govern and lead, that meant that she -

    Well, she was Jane Foster, little old human no-one from Earth; she most certainly was not the Queen of the Aesir and All-mother over the Nine Realms. Nope, no sirree - not like Lady Frigga currently was.

    Not like Lady Frigga, who, in the meantime, was delighting in the chance to dress her up in yards of Álfish star-silk and fit her with bronzed plates of ornamental armor. Thor’s mother seemed to enjoy the chance to play at being her mother too, and her attention lit something deep inside Jane that she hadn’t even realized was missing. Doctor Alan Foster had been more than enough as her father and a single parent, yet, sometimes -

    “I don’t think I’m ready for this,” Jane tried to quantify her thoughts, to put her fears into words and find solutions for the problem at hand. But it was . . . difficult, to say the least. “This is . . .” Too much; it was overwhelming; she was hardly staving off panic now, and no one had even suggested putting a crown on her head. Yet, anyway.

    “Did you know that I was a simple farmer’s daughter from Vanaheimr when I first met Odin? I was not ready to be queen, to be All-mother. There were hundreds of women more suited to the role, I felt, but the role fell to me, even so,” Frigga winked at her in the mirror as she went about plaiting her hair – and there was something so, so soothing in feeling her fingertips gently run across her scalp. “I had no idea what I was getting into, but I learned. I grew. You must simply remember that you are not embarking down this path alone – you are doing it with a partner at your side. Trust him and, together, there is nothing you will be unable to accomplish – should you allow yourself the chance to try, my dear.”




    Occasion (Pre-Avengers: Infinity Wars | Natasha Romanov & Clint Barton/Laura Barton)

    She couldn’t stay away, not for this. Ignoring the risks – the eyes on the Barton family farm and the federal agents who’d no doubt leap at the chance to bring the Black Widow in, she raced across the fields and used the waterspout to easily swing herself up and onto the roof. There, she found the unlocked window on the second floor and let herself inside. Silently, she slipped around the squeaking spots in the floorboards, and made her way down the hall, until -

    Clint and Laura were sleeping when she let herself into their room, but not for long.

    “Nat, is that you?” it was Laura’s groggy voice who first caught on in the dark. Worry warred for relief in her tone, audibly so, but she automatically shifted to create a small space between her and Clint. “Nat, if they catch you - ”

    “ - they won’t catch her,” was Clint’s simple assurance as he sat upright. Even without a light to see by, his eyes were knowingly sharp as he studied her. “You look like hell, Nat,” was his greeting – the first words traded between them in months. They hadn't spoken since he took his plea bargain with the feds and the German government. “When’s the last time you slept?”

    Not since here, she wanted to answer, long before the Accords. She hadn’t had a truly restful night’s sleep since their entire team took refuge in this home and she wound herself like a vine around Bruce in the guestroom and allowed herself to imagine that maybe, just maybe -

    But that was a very long time ago.

    So, she ignored his question and instead muttered, “Happy anniversary, you guys.” Always certain of her place, like a child taking refuge after a nightmare, she crawled up the bed to burrow between the couple. There, she finally allowed herself to slump, boneless against the pillows. Eleven years ago, now, they’d allowed her into their family and into their hearts; it was the only day of the year she honored. Here, where even her work with SHIELD couldn’t break her chains, she’d chucked the yoke of the Red Room and forged herself into she herself, into Natasha the woman rather than Natalia Romanova the weapon. Here, she wasn't formed in a test tube and grown in a lab and molded and sculpted and in return expected -

    - but she wouldn't think about that just then. Not on today of all days; not with them.

    “Don’t worry,” she added, her eyes already heavy with sleep. Her accent only came out in tired, unguarded moments, and it was thick then. “I’ll be gone before the kids wake up.”

    “We don't have to think about that just yet,” Laura sighed, and laid back down again. Her hand was comforting as it came to rest on her shoulder. She traced nonsense patterns against the fabric of her sleeve, and Natasha squeezed her eyes closed to better register the sensation. She couldn't remember the last time someone had touched her in affection. “You know they’d love to see you if they could. They . . . they miss you.” We miss you, she heard as Laura swallowed.

    “Just sleep,” Clint added, settling in for the night again with a sigh. As soon as he was comfortable, she turned on her side to hide her face in his chest, while Laura moved to press in comfortingly close against her back. His arms were wide enough to wrap around both his partner and his wife, causing the lump in her throat to grow. “We’ll figure everything else out in the morning.”

    “And happy anniversary, Nat,” Laura muttered after a long, drowsy moment passed. “I’m glad you came back for this.” For us. Briefly, Natasha felt as Clint’s arms flexed.

    And there, nestled safe and content between them, Natasha finally allowed herself to rest.



    Because (Post-Captain America: Civil War & Black Panther | Shuri & Bucky Barnes & Steve Rogers)

    The Winter Soldier was an example of science brutally employed by those who would do harm, rather than used to improve and create. His mind was a wreckage of broken stems, his body a mess of missed fuses and crudely forged steel. The work that was done – inflicted, tortured - was cheap. Amateurish. Sloppy. Horrifying, in every way.

    Shuri felt both pity and curiosity, looking down at the pasty broken man on her table - the project her brother had brought back from Europe in place of their father. Heal him, sister, T’Challa had bid her, his head bowed as if under the weight of his theoretical crown. He too was a victim in all of this, just as Baba was.

    For a moment, she almost didn’t know where to begin. But only for a moment.

    “Tell me something about Sergeant Barnes,” she welcomed the man hunched by his bedside to explain. The once bold colors of his uniform were torn and muted, no matter that they had offered him fresh, clean clothes in a gesture of hospitality. He had yet to sleep for anything more than fractured moments, and coarse blonde stubble now carpeted his cheeks and chin. He looked like a young lion, Shuri thought fleetingly, yet incapable of growing a full mane. Soon, he would smell like one, too. “I want to know who I am trying to bring back.”

    “He . . . honestly, I don’t think I know anymore,” Steve Rogers answered. His voice was soft, and worn. “I . . . I know who Bucky was, but that was a long time ago. A lifetime, really.”

    “Tell me about your Bucky, then,” she applied her mind to the puzzle. “I want to know.”

    And so, slowly but surely, the Captain began to speak. That night, he finally put aside his uniform for a soft, wool kaftan and allowed himself to eat a fully, hearty meal. He took his first night’s rest even as Shuri worked tirelessly through the dawn, her mind whirling and her own grief put aside for this: for purpose and service, just as her father would have wanted her to do.

    Months later, when his mind was stripped of his captors and they worked through his triggers and his programming and his chains, Bucky met her eyes, and frowned as if seeing her for the first time, all over again. Outside his small hut by the water, tending to his goats while the local children tried to catch a glimpse of the white wolf, she thought that she knew him better than anyone else ever had. Or, at least, she knew who he was reforging himself to be.

    “Why did you help me, Princess?” Bucky finally asked the question that he’d been swallowing for nearly a year. She’d watch him burn his tongue with it over and over again, now. “Without someone looking to use me as a pawn – a weapon, your father would still be alive. I didn’t – I don’t deserve . . . ” but he swallowed that ember again, and could not finish.

    So.

    “Because you deserve to dance again, James,” she answered simply, remembering Steve’s words from that first night. She was ever an artist who painted with a vision in mind. “Maybe, when you’re ready,” her teeth flashed, “you can show me what’s so wonderful about baseball, too.”

    “Well then . . . yes, ma’am, I suppose I could,” he ducked his head to say, looking back down at his goats to hide his blush. “Whatever you want.”

    And this, Shuri wanted very much indeed.



    ~MJ @};-
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2018
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  3. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Fantabulous start!
    Surprise
    Baked cookies: being the literal taste of happy memories and the foundation of new ones for Hope! How Hope's Dad is rediscovering his happy self and Janet fitting back in and SCOTT! Can I just! Love him! to bits! [face_dancing] He loves cookie dough just like I do! LOL :* :*

    Together -- lovely, lovely reading about Thor,Jane, etc. in your more than capable hands!! Frigga's advice to Jane is totally on point!

    Occasion -- awwwwww! Natasha is home again. =D=
     
    Mira_Jade likes this.
  4. brodiew

    brodiew Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Oct 11, 2005
    Very cool to see some Marvel fictlets for you. @Mira_Jade! These were all good, but these three stood out.

    Surprise
    I really enjoyed this look into Hope as she navigates having her mom back. I get a sense that she wants to be a little girl again and doesn't at the same time. I imagine there would be an adjustment period. It is also good to see Hank getting his groove back.

    Occasion
    This was interesting, like Nat was their child. Was that the intent? Or, more that this is her happy place, a place of peace. I just wasn't sure what to make her in bed with them. Nothing sordid, I was trying to reconcile Nat to a child getting in bed with her parents after having a nightmare.

    Because
    I loved Shuri in BP and this was a nice call back to the post credit scene in T:R. I liked how it was split between Shuri talking to Steve and shipping Shuri with Bucky. The weight of CA:WS and CA:CW lay heavy on Steve. Well written, Mira.
     
  5. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Because who doesn't like homemade cookies?? I was pleasantly - ecstatically! - surprised when the entire Ant Man and the Wasp film revolved so strongly around family - in its every shape and form, but that's what made it such a strong Marvel film in my opinion. It was just what we needed after Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. Yes sirree! [face_love]

    I will forever be salty that Marvel broke these two up for a one-liner. I get that Natalie Portman was too busy to star in Thor: Ragnarok, but all you had to say was that she was off doing science. Easy peasy! :rolleyes: So I will need to write some ficlets in my "All Our Winters to Pass" verse. That is still very much the canon of my heart, and Marvel can't tell me otherwise. ;) [face_sigh] [face_love]

    Natasha is my girl, and I love how strong the theme of found family is to her character. I will give her all the happy moments I can, yes I will!! I know that the majority of fans hated Clint's family arc, because it broke up their relationship potential, and I don't understand their criticism. Because it was such a unique bond that they made to explore instead - Natasha had his entire family to help her healing process, rather than her finding peace with herself for sake of 'loving' one man (eugh! :rolleyes: o_O). I've written quite a bit about their dynamic over at AO3, so was fun to bring some of that over here, too. [face_love]

    As always, I thank you so much for reading, my friend, and I hope that you continue to enjoy! [face_love][:D]


    Thirty years is such a long time! But I love how vulnerable Hope let herself be over finding her mother in the film - her hoping that her mother would still love her, even after so many years had passed just hit me so hard as a viewer. It was a treat to explore these feelings more, and of course I love Hank/Janet!! Showing such a strong, elder relationship on screen was just all sorts of beautiful, and, as you know, I love my grumpy-softy-Hank. :p [face_love]

    Nothing sordid at all! What I love about Clint's family is that they are Natasha's family too. There's no word to describe their bond; it doesn't fit conventional norms. They're simply hers, just as she is theirs. I love thinking that Clint's wife and children were as much an impetus for her to forge her own identity as having Clint as her partner at SHIELD. So of course it's completely natural that when she's exhausted and worn down, this is where she finds peace and refuge. Writing the drabble this way hit harder than having her crash on the couch or anything else, and fit the idea of a bond that doesn't really have a definition, it just is. And it's not the first time this has happened, so there's some familiarity for Clint and Laura in the situation, too. [face_love] Maybe that came across as clear as mud, but that was what I was going for. :p

    I just adored Shuri to pieces in the comics, so it was fascinating to see her fit into the MCU - different, but still just as enjoyable! And her relationship with Bucky hit me out of nowhere, right in the feels. I must confess to shipping them too down the line, so setting up the parameters of their bond here brought me all sorts of joy. And Steve!! I am neither Team Steve or Team Tony - they both had good and bad arguments in CA:CW, and certain aspects of the way they both treated each other in the end were horrendous. That's something they're both going to need to learn to live with before they can repair their relationship. But Steve certainly has a lot on his shoulders, and it was intriguing to explore that a bit here too. :)

    Thanks for reading, brodie! I hope that you continue to enjoy. [face_love][:D]


    ~MJ @};-
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2018
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  6. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Author's Note: This first prompt was provided by @brodiew , and the second one was because I couldn't resist bringing this full circle. I will get these dummies to kiss and make up, even if Marvel doesn't, mark my words. :p [face_mischief][face_whistling]






    II: "What We Lost in the Flood"
    (Marvel Cinematic Universe)​

    Across the Divide (Post-Spiderman: Homecoming | Natasha Romanov & Steve Rogers)

    The news managed to make the headlines, even in the rural dairy village of North Ireland currently granting them refuge. The town had only one street, which boasted the district’s mail office, general store, and pub. But that was where an old contact of Fury’s had settled down to live out his retirement, and the rolling green hills of the countryside were certainly easy on the eyes (and soul) while they waited to make their drop, and so, that was where they were.

    And there, in the town’s single newsstand was a copy of the Belfast Telegraph. That day's front page currently boasted: America’s Wealthiest Bachelor Officially Taken! printed above a massive photo of Tony Stark and Pepper Potts. The couple was looking at each other instead of the cameras, each lost in a world of their own as they shared wide, beaming grins. Their entwined hands were triumphantly lifted to better show off Pepper’s engagement ring - a dazzling beautiful diamond, even when captured on black and white newsprint. It was a stunning ring, one that would eventually match the classic elegance of Maria Stark's wedding band.

    Natasha loosed a low whistle, even as she paid the vendor. “Stark has nice taste,” she commented, covertly glancing up from underneath her lashes to observe Steve’s reaction. “But that’s to no one’s surprise, really.”

    She tilted the paper towards Steve, who only glanced at the photo before turning away. But his jaw was clinched, and the casual gesture of him hooking his hands in his jean pockets was not so casual for how she knew he ran the thumb of his right hand on the burner cellphone he always kept there. The plastic casing was already worn from a thousand such gestures, even if the phone had yet to ring over the months.

    “I’m glad they were able to work it out,” she allowed herself to comment. I’m glad he’s not alone, she felt the words bubble up before swallowing them away. Frustration welled in her throat like a stone – after all, she had tried so hard to hold onto the team (family) she’d chosen for herself with both hands, only to lose them all in the end, each in their own way. Her own jaw squared; stonily, she stared at the paper without truly focusing on a thing.

    “He’s been carrying that ring around for ten years, apparently,” Steve looked down to say – more to himself than to her. His broad shoulders were hunched; for a moment his throat worked without making a sound. “Pepper deserves to be made an honest woman.”

    “Pepper deserves to be made a saint,” Natasha quipped, but the words came out hollow and forced. She closed her eyes, and breathed out through her nose. Once, and then twice. “C’mon, Cap,” she made an impulse decision, “I’m buying you a stout.” Or two. “To celebrate, obviously. We can raise a glass to the Starks.” Alright then – maybe three, tops.

    “I don’t need a drink,” Steve frowned. “It doesn’t affect me anyway.” That, he reminded her almost wistfully.

    “But I need a drink,” was her answer to that. “Pepper Potts has the most excellent taste in shoes I’ve ever met in another woman, and I know what I’m missing out on with not being in this wedding.” It was more than the shoes, of course, but that was all she could bring herself to say. She'd never been in a wedding before. She'd never had a friend to see married, even. “You . . . I know you would’ve cleaned up nicely.”

    “It doesn’t matter,” Steve rolled his shoulders. “I knew what I was giving up, protecting Bucky.” What I gave up, choosing one friend over another, she heard the unspoken – the weight of the Accords was only transitory in the end, after all. Or, rather, it could have been, if the put their heads together to honestly solve the problem with their words instead of their fists. “I made my choices, and I don’t regret them.”

    But it did matter, and it still could matter. Frustrated, she held her tongue and swallowed her words. That, only time would allow her to say, and that time had clearly yet to pass. So, until then, she tucked the paper under her arm – carefully so, she wanted to save the picture. “I know. You couldn’t have done anything but what you did,” she whispered. She stood close enough to him so that the side of her arm brushed his own. “But still . . . I miss them too.”

    To that, there wasn’t anything Steve could say; not then, not yet. He only nodded once, slightly. When he looked up, his eyes were very clear, and very blue. “Alright then,” he forced a smile, and pushed on ahead. “About that drink.”



    Save the Date (Post-Spiderman: Homecoming | Tony Stark/Pepper Potts)

    Pepper Potts would have been lying if she said that she didn’t already have a dozen ideas in mind for her wedding. What had started as a vague idea for years – always to some nameless figure, and always after she achieved this or made it to this next milestone, had lately taken shape as something tangible and just within her reach. Even when she’d held herself away (you need Iron Man more than you need me, Tony - don't pretend otherwise), the vague groom of her formative years had developed an identity, and wistfully, without the permission of her higher logic, her dreams had filled in the details of her ideal wedding with one man in mind.

    But she wasn’t dreaming as she planned her wedding now. After years of dancing around each other – and then years more spent figuring out how to tango with Iron Man and the Avengers and who Tony used to be – this was actually within their reach. Now, all that was left were the details.

    . . . even if some of those details were growing into monsters of their own. Such as the guest list, and the seating chart. And, most importantly, whether or not she was going to settle on Vera Wang or Zuhair Murad for her gown. Both designers had offered such divine sketches, and she wanted them both.

    Natasha would know, I’ll just ask – it was still instinct to turn to her right and expect the other woman to be there, looking over her shoulder with that little quirk to her mouth that said that she already had all the answers in mind and was just waiting to share. Pepper felt a pang bite through her; they’d lost the kids in the divorce, she reminded herself. She'd have to figure this out on her own.

    But, first things first.

    A date. Picking a date should have been the easiest part. If they could figure that out, at the very least, everything else could begin falling into place.

    They just couldn’t seem to settle even that one simple detail.

    “I don’t know, Pep – don’t you think that’s well, you know, too soon? I don't want to move too fast.”

    Too fast to end a ten year courtship? she wanted to raise a brow and return. And that wasn’t even counting however many years she’d spent squashing her completely inappropriate crush on her boss beforehand. If she asked her mother, she knew that the elder Mrs. Potts would have the time she’d wasted without a husband or children tallied down to the day. Tightly, she gripped her stylus.

    “Sure,” she dryly returned, “eight months from now is too . . . soon.”

    She knew he heard her tone – she’d been certain to make sure that her raised brow was clearly audible, seeing as how Tony had yet to look up from where he sat on the opposite side of her desk. He was lazily sprawled back in the chair and had his feet propped up; restlessly, he tossed one of her glass knick-knacks from one hand to the other. That, she wanted to sigh, had been a gift from Thor, chosen by Queen Frigga herself for the lady of the tower. It was honest to goodness Elvish spun light, if she’d understood him correctly. And for that, every part of her teenage years spent reading Tolkien in her grandparents' attic had just soared.

    But she trusted Tony – in more ways than one. So, she waited, and didn't ask him to put the globe down.

    “You don’t want a summer wedding," Tony made a face. "It’s too clichéd, right?”

    “I can make any season fit.” That was a challenge she was more than ready for. “Just give me one to work with, and we can go from there.”

    “Spring, then?”

    “Tony, that’d be less than eight months.”

    “Not if it's the next spring.” He paused his restless movements, and clapped the orb between his palms. Carefully, he darted a glance her way.

    Pepper pursed her mouth, and sat back in her chair. She put her stylus down, the calendar on her StarkPad then pushed to the back of her mind and forgotten. “Tony?” she gentled her tone. “What’s going on? Really, now.”

    He stared at the globe of spun light, thoughtfully tilting the glass this way and that so that the colors bloomed. “I just want to make sure that all our guests can make it, that’s all," he muttered. "You know me – always being thoughtful. Thoughtful with a capitol T.”

    All of their guests, it took a moment for her to understand . . . all of their guests, from wherever they were. Something deep inside her heart clenched as she understood what he wanted. For a moment it was hard to breathe.

    Pepper sat back and couldn’t keep a smile from slipping over her mouth if she tried. Her gaze softened. “Well . . . maybe I do want a summer wedding, when I think about it. Cliché and all.”

    Tony opened his mouth, and closed it, so she added, “The next summer, of course. Should that be enough time for everyone to save the date?”

    “It should be . . . if I work on it,” Tony said. He put the orb back on her desk, and finally met her eyes. “That’s a long engagement, I know.” But she could hear the gratitude in his voice, and that sealed it for her. He knew how much this meant to her, just as she knew how much this meant to him. They could meet in the middle. “No doubt your mother will have something to say.”

    “My answer will be the same as it's always been.” She reached across her desk, and took his restless hands in her own. “Some things are worth waiting for.”

    And really, it was more than worth it for the way he was looking at her – like she was something greater than what even his mind could wrap around. And, in the end, that was what this was all for - for both of them. “So,” Tony found a grin to gesture to the wedding paraphernalia spread across her desk. “Speaking of the devil, does your mother really have to come? I don’t trust her not to stay silent during the speak now or forever hold your peace - ”

    “ - if Mr. Parker is going to be our ring bearer and if you insist on entering the reception hall to AC DC, then yes. My mother is coming.” That, quite simply, was her answer to that.

    “I'll get you both dresses - Wang and Zuhair," Tony still didn't give up. "C'mon, Pep, be greedy - let me bribe you. You're the gluttonous CEO of a Fortune 500 company, after all. It's in your job description.”

    "You're buying me both dresses anyway," Pepper put her nose in the air to say. "You're getting your summertime wedding, after all, so it's only fair."

    Tony made a face. "Alright - I'm trapped. I'll surrender with grace." He stalwartly squared his shoulders. "Your mother can come."

    But his smile was soft, and he turned his fingers so that he could run his thumbs over the back of her hands. Gently, he squeezed.

    "And . . . thank-you, Pepper." That time, he was able to meet her eyes. "I don't want it to matter so much to me, but it does. It wouldn't feel right otherwise."

    That, she more than understood. "I miss them too . . . all of them," she whispered. It was more than they'd said on the subject in months. For the time being, it would continue being all they would say.

    Sharply, Tony nodded and then drew his hands away. He took in a deep breath, "Alright then," he regrouped. His eyes were sharp to stare down the sea of catalogues spread across her desk. "Now that the date's figured out, we can go from there."

    And, wistfully, they began to plan.



    ~MJ @};-
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2018
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  7. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Convoluted and tangled emotions, but the second couple seems to be happy and on the same page whereas the first seem to be still not communicating clearly. :p =D=
     
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  8. Gamiel

    Gamiel Force Ghost star 8

    Registered:
    Dec 16, 2012
    I'm not good with comments but here I try...

    A nice little story. I like the emotional ambivalence for the characters (beside Scott) regarding how to continue with the 30 years gap between them.

    Should that not be "the Pym family kitchen"? Since Hope is the only one with the van Dyne name of the three and she was a Pym until she changed it.

    [​IMG]
    "One of my favorite things about Hank Pym is his inability to have little accidents. If something doesn’t go right, it goes incredibly wrong in the most spectacular fashion possible."
    from http://waitingforthet.tumblr.com/

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    Nice story. Wonder what Peter's classmates think of him being a house pet :p in StarTower

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    Don't know what to say beside that's a nice story.

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    As with the others: nice. I like the idea of the Bartons as, in a way, BW's parents substitutes.

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    As with the others: nice. I'm personally uncertain if Shuri is the right person to be his main... "rebuilder"* since she seemed to be fokosed on other kinds of sciences, but this is your story.

    * is there a better world?

    So Shuri, how would you have done it? I'm all ears [face_batting]
     
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  9. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Oh yeah - there's so much emotional mess and turmoil that's hard to talk about here. CA:CW left its scars on everyone, that's for certain. [face_plain]

    Thanks so much for being such a faithful reader, and leaving your thoughts, as always! [face_love][:D]


    And I thank you for doing so! You had wonderful insights to share. :)

    I actually fixed that posting this ficlet elsewhere, but I did not here! You are too right. :D

    [face_laugh] I loved that - and the comic, thanks for sharing. :D

    Well, like most of Peter's activities, they probably just don't know the whole of it. The rest probably have elaborate theories going about how Peter is a long lost Stark love child, and are taking bets about when Tony's going to go public. :p

    Thank-you. That sums it up for me! :)

    I kinda touched on this in my reply to brodie, but one of my favourite things about Clint and Natasha's relationship is that it defies convention. There's no label to put on it. Natasha's never had a proper family, or even a friend, and he's the first person in her life that she's really trusted. So their relationship isn't romantic, and its not parental, its that he's her partner and since Laura and Lila and Cooper and Nathaniel are his, then they are hers too. It's just theirs. Their family. I tried to explore that a little bit here. [face_love]

    I completely understand - and, if this were a longer fic, I'd say that it takes a village to raise a - erm, to heal and reform a brainwashed supersoldier. :p Though Shuri is an inventor and a fabricator, she was quite clearly entrusted with a team in charge of clearing Bucky's HYDRA triggers away and rebuilding his arm. And she was the one visiting him in the BP bonus scene. When her brother brought her Ross to heal, she explicitly said that's the second white man T'Challa brought her to fix. Bucky's the first. So, I wouldn't at all be surprised if her inventing goes into medical fields, as there's onscreen basis for that. We've yet to see a cap on her talents. (I am also reveling in having a female supergenius - I can admit that. What's more than that, this is a superhero franchise, and liberties are quite clearly being taken with science. What's taking a few more? ;))

    And, what I really like about Shuri and Bucky, is that, when you think about it, Bucky himself was so young when he was lost during WWII. He was only in his twenties. The idea of a growing bond between Shuri and Bucky as he rediscovers himself, again, is something that brings me all sorts of joy, and I am intrigued as to what more, if anything, we will be able to see of their friendship in canon. [face_thinking]

    I'm not a scientist, and this is all make believe, but if you'd ask me to put my money on WWII-Cold War HYRDA tech or Wakanda's cutting edge technological advancements that Shuri is quite obviously at the helm of, then yes. I'd say that she could a hundred times do it better, hands down. If Shuri wanted an unquestioningly loyal attack dog, she'd be able to do it in a way that wouldn't so invasively destroy the host or be undone by another. HYDRA's scientific attempts are, quite literally, laughable to her. And, if that's off base, then I'm happy to be. ;)

    Thanks for reading. I enjoyed your comments! :)


    Alrighty, I have more to share in just a few. :D

    ~MJ @};-
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2018
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  10. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Notes: This was supposed to be a group of Voltron ficlets to get my muse back in gear to finish my series, but then this first ficlet grew to be a well and proper vignette, all its own, so I decided to post it by its onesies. This is technically a part of my "Universe to Wake From Sleep" series, but can be read as just a missing scene from early Season One. Shiro's PTSD was one of the most realistic, relatable parts of his character, I felt, no matter how it has just . . . magically disappeared since then. o_O This is, in part, my answer to that. With that said: I know that I am writing about a sensitive subject, with only a few wiki articles and RL friends for basis. So if there's something I've glaringly misaddressed or glossed over, please don't hesitate to let me know.

    Thank-you, and enjoy. :)




    III: "This Nearest Star"
    (Voltron: Legendary Defender)

    Hit Me With Your Best Shot (Season One | Allura & Shiro)

    The extra hours her new Black paladin spent with the gladiator 'bot, oftentimes at night when his fellow Humans required sleep, did not escape her attention.

    Allura quickly understood that this was more than mere practice for him, more than training to keep his body honed and ready for their battles that were inevitably to come. Instead, Shiro fought as if facing an enemy only he could see. His narrowed eyes, which she had in so short a time come to associate with empathy and warmth, were grey chips of stone upon his face, hardly visibly through the frenetic whirl of his motions. There was a tightness to his limbs that failed to ease for movement, and his blows, she watched with a practiced eye, were overwhelmingly powerful to face the droid. He held nothing back; so much so that more than one uppercut from his Galran arm sent the practice 'bot sparking and stuttering – and it’d been created to withstand an Altean's strength, at that.

    His form was impressive, she could admit; he was clearly leagues away from his fellow paladins in this regard. However, it did not take much to deduce why that was so. Shiro had a wealth of experience to draw from that his comrades, safe and nestled in peace on Earth as they'd been, did not. A year a slave for the Galra Empire, she struggled to wrap her mind around that truth, and a champion in the ring before the masses, all the while. Of course he'd learned how to survive - violently so.

    The thought was one she cared for but little. For his sake, she’d rather him have Keith’s unpracticed fury or Lance’s eager determination. Anything but this. She wished Shiro’s demons far and away from him, no matter the sharply honed blade and emerging leader his trials had borne for her crusade. It was difficult . . . painful, even, for her to watch.

    Especially when, every so often with a randomness she could not predict, there were times when Shiro would freeze up before the 'bot. Instead of striking, his eyes would go wide and his face would pale. He seemingly lost track of time and place in those moments, held captive in his mind to some foe only he could see. Whenever this happened not even the impending threat from the 'bot could move him to action, and he’d go down hard from wherever he’d frozen in place.

    Shiro was always slow to pick himself up after his episodes, as if he could not immediately shrug his stupor away. His stance was unsteady as he recovered himself, and his shoulders quivered. He made a fist of both hands, yet still his shaking did not stop.

    That night, Allura refused to let him struggle alone. They’d be leaving Arus soon, and she’d see her paladins armed with every possible advantage – even for this. Especially for this.

    “On Altea, we called this malady the warrior’s shock,” she said – announcing her presence in advance with her voice so that she wouldn't startle him with her approach. She didn't know how or where his mind was, and she wouldn't be a further burden to him if she could help it.

    Thankfully, it seemed that she had given him just long enough before joining him on the training deck. Shiro’s mouth tugged in a wry line, even if his eyes were still closed and his fists remained clenched. He inhaled deeply and exhaled slow, in and out, clearly regulating his breathing to regain control.

    “We have a different name for it back on Earth – it’s not as pretty,” his voice was low to return. A long moment passed, in which she continued to let him gather himself without interruption. Finally he ran his organic hand through his hair and sighed heavily through his nose. Only then did she take a step closer. “I . . . I thought I’d have better control over it by now.”

    His words were muttered – mumbled even. Though his eyes were now open, he refused to look up and meet her gaze.

    For that, her own brow furrowed. Did this . . . shame him? she puzzled to understand, so foreign and alien an idea the concept was to her. Many things, however, about her Terran allies were proving to be so.

    “On Altea,” she started, her voice slow and soft, “the sages philosophized that the Life Givers did not create us for battle – that was something we, instead, brought upon ourselves through mortal imperfection and standing up in justice against those imperfections. Those who fight, even honorably for others, tend to bear scars on their mind as real as any of the body. It only means that you have survived; you have endured. Like any wound, this is a scar that can heal, and fade.” Others, of course, remained – but that was something that she did not have to say aloud. Shiro understood.

    “So,” he chose his words carefully, “did the sages figure out a way to fix it? Your . . . warrior’s shock?”

    “It’s not something a jaunt in a cyro-pod can cure, unfortunately,” sadly, Allura shook her head. “Nothing more than time, and patience were found to be effective.”

    A heartbeat passed. Shiro sighed. “I figured as much,” he was still unable to meet her eyes. Yet he slowly unfisted his Galran hand. He stared down at his inorganic palm as if he didn’t recognize it as his own. His eyes were dark, and narrowed. “It’s the same on Earth. Even with all the advancements we’ve made in medicine, we still don’t have a lot of answers for how the mind works.”

    In reply, she did not let herself to second guess her actions. Instead, she reached over, and covered his Galran hand with both of hers. Her skin was soft and warm and alive next to the cool metal planes and hard lines of his own, and she held on tight, hoping that the unfamiliar tech would be able to convey those positive sensations, at the very least. Before her, Shiro had gone very, very still. His eyes were wide, and shaded with curiosity to finally look up and stare at her. Boldly, she held onto his gaze with a determination that was as strong and real as her desire to bring an end to Zarkon’s reign. Distantly, she wondered when the last time someone had touched him with affection had been. Even he, she suspected, regarded this part of himself as unwelcome and invasive and foreign; it never would have been kindly regarded. For the thought, she curled her fingers about his own, and held on tighter.

    In answer, he did not immediately draw his hand away. Instead, a long moment passed before his hand of flesh and bone came up to cover her own. Gratefully, he squeezed, and, as much as she had set out to grant him some semblance of comfort, she found herself drawing strength from his gesture in return. There was a tell-tale heat burning behind her eyes, and her chest was tight. Perhaps, loathe as she was to admit it, he wasn’t the only one combating his demons this night.

    “If you’d like,” for some curious reason, she could feel heat rising to her cheeks to say, “I could stay and help you? You’ll find I make a better partner than the ‘bot – and I won’t hit you when you’re down.”

    For that, Shiro gave an amused snort – but his eyes had brightened for her words. They’d returned to that same warm shade that she thought (that a part of her knew) she was beginning to depend on. “I thought that you were too strong to practice with us breakable Earthlings?” he teased.

    “For you, I think I can make an exception,” she smirked to return. She squeezed his hand one last time before letting her touch fall away. “Don’t worry, paladin, I can hold back; I’ll go easy on you.”

    Slowly, Shiro smiled in reply – a real smile that she felt her own mouth stretching to return. He’d taken her challenge seriously, then. “Oh, you don’t have to hold back, Princess – never on my account.”

    “Well then, let me just say that I will stick this through with you,” she offered instead. “For as long as is needed.” Until he either healed from his wounds, or accepted his scars for what they were.

    Shiro looked down at his Galran hand, and then up at her, considering. In his eyes, she thought, there was the soft glow of . . . something. Something that was maybe gratitude and trust and even the beginnings of affection; the first seeds of friendship, more so than the partnership that had been established between them out of necessity. It was a bond she didn’t take lightly, not after having lost as much as she had.

    “Alright then, your highness,” he walked a few paces away from her, and settled into a defensive pose. “Hit me with your best shot.”



    ~MJ @};-
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2018
  11. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    @Mira_Jade -- Allura's POV is poignant and the Alteans' words of wisdom are insightful for anyone suffering through emotional consequences [face_thinking] The on the brinkness and mutual/reciprocal empathy was gorgeous to read! [:D] =D= [face_love]
     
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  12. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha: Thank-you so much! Shiro, like so many, really is doing his best to heal emotionally and mentally, and it's always great to have a patient and understanding friend help on that journey. I just love their partnership in any way, and writing these cusp-of-more moments is something I will never tire of. [face_love] Thank you so much for reading, and taking the time to leave your thoughts, as always! [:D]






    Author's Notes:
    This was another ficlet that was supposed to be in the same set as the previous Allura/Shiro piece, but it got long. (Someday I will stop being surprised when that happens! :p) But, unlike the previous one, this is entirely set in my "Universe to Wake From Sleep" series. Which means that both Lotor and Acxa are how I was hoping they'd be in canon, and are now AU of the . . . mess we have from Season 5 on. This ficlet is set pre-canon, and is basically 2k words of introspection and backstory as fits in with my 'verse. I'll be going into a lot more detail for all of this in "There is Salt in the Sun" and "Those Who Shoulder Stars" - updates for both of which I am actually currently typing. Yay!

    If you're completely unfamiliar with my series, all you really need to know is that I am still a firm believer in the Acxa and Keith are siblings theory. (Fight me, canon!) I find it a hundred times more interesting than the romance they're setting up instead. (Eugh! :rolleyes:) In extension of that theory, that makes my Acxa an ex-Blade. What can I say? She and all the generals get backstory and character development and an opportunity to let a not-power-hungry-quintessence-crazed Lotor work to win them back after Narti's execution in my 'verse. Because it's what they deserve, and you can't convince me otherwise. ;)

    Now, that said, I thank you for reading and hope that you enjoy. :)







    IV: "In Your Orbit"

    (Voltron: Legendary Defender)

    Portrait (Pre-Season One | Lotor & Acxa)

    There were times when he still dreamed in violet and gold; of shapes within the void, formless and endless, muttering and chirping in their stars old tongue. He couldn’t understand them, even after thousands of years spent listening to their whispers as he slept, yet neither could he easily dismiss their hold on his mind, no matter their long familiarity.

    Though he would never admit to the fears of his childhood chasing him into adulthood aloud – he knew exactly who he was and what he was made of, after all, Lotor could nevertheless admit to being . . . unsettled by the visions that plagued him in the dark. Many nights, he did not wish to sleep for their presence, so he quite simply did not.

    Since his exile he had many things to sit awake and ponder over, anyway. That was often how he spent his nights, instead, rather than fitfully searching out some semblance of rest. The passing of the galaxies held a beauty all their own from where he found a place on his ship’s observation deck to watch the nebulae spin and the stars wheel. The cosmic expanse was a humbling view, reminding him just how small they truly were in the grand order of universe. Far and away from even the memory of Daibazaal, the vision before his eyes was grounding, helping him structure his mind and keep his thoughts balanced.

    Then, there were times when she would come and join his nightly vigil, as well. Eventually, her presence was a regular enough occurrence for him to anticipate, and then even come to expect. He found that he preferred her company over absolute solitude, and didn't examine his thoughts too closely to wonder why. It simply was what it was.

    Those first, tumultuous nights after the disaster at Khito, just following the formalization of his banishment and her cutting ties with her own masters, Acxa had initially been hesitant to invade his solitude. She was clearly a firm believer in hierarchy and respected the order enforced by a chain of command - which he usually supported also. But Lotor, at least, understood the haunted look that bloomed dark about her eyes; he wouldn’t begrudge her the same peace he found in watching the stars, and yet neither would he leave. So, there they were. At first, they passed their time together in silence. For many nights, he was simply aware of her blood-beat lulling to match his own in an unexpected expression of kinship, no matter what their higher reasons may have decided otherwise. Yet that, alongside the sweeping view of the cosmos, was sufficiently peaceful enough to keep both their respective demons at bay.

    But then, he was ever much too curious for his own good, and his new general – his first general was an enigma to him. There was much he wanted to understand. So, he sought enlightenment.

    No matter how he pried, she kept the secrets she wished to keep, of course. If Acxa realized that he came from a time when the sigil of Marmora was once one brandished with pride instead of hidden away in the shadows (even then, the memory of Kovrok was enough to cause a pang of its own), she didn’t reveal it. He well knew exactly what she was, and he had a rather certain idea of who she was, even without her confirmation. She did not speak openly of her former affiliations, even as the movements passed, nor did she give on that she knew that he knew that she was initially a spy, sent to uncover what she could about the new player for imperial power he'd presented and report back to her handlers. His taking a stand at Khito – his last attempt to see if his father, his true father, was still somewhere underneath the shell that Emperor Zarkon now wore – may have been fruitless, and the colony he so shortly governed now laid in ruin, but his losses weren’t completely devastating . . . not when his actions had won him her allegiance, instead.

    It was . . . a novelty of its own to have someone following him because they chose to trust his vision, rather than simply adhering to the blind obedience demanded by his blood and title. Instead, Acxa had weighed her options before deciding that she viewed him as the empire’s best chance at lasting unity and true universal peace. Her allegiance was won, rather than coerced or simply expected. That knowledge was . . . humbling, to say the least; nearly as humbling as the span and stretch of the galaxies they passed. In his own way, he did not want to let her down.

    So, he would bide his time before striking at the imperial thone – he would watch, and he would wait. Ten thousand years, Lotor suspected, had made his father complacent in his rule. Emperor Zarkon was far from infallible, this he had to believe. In time, an opportunity would present itself. Then, when the right moment came, he’d be ready to make his move.

    Not that they talked about things of that sort in the night, of course. It took Acxa some time to realize that she was welcome to express her thoughts in his presence in any form – even if she so strictly kept to the rigors of professionalism and only said the bare minimum in response to his queries. Sir, she called him without relief – your highness and my lord and sire were all imperial titles that he cared for but little, and she'd quickly caught onto that, for which he was thankful. Even when revealing things about her past, she spoke as if reciting from memorized lines of text, rather than truly speaking about herself. Her walls were as strong as they were tall, yet that was something that he could respect about her, and understand.

    Even so, he managed to learn much in those brief interludes. Like all but for the elite castes in the upper echelons of the empire, Acxa was not full blooded Galra – as was to be expected after centuries of conquering and expansion. Her Galran mother also had Korintho and Hacxian blood in her veins, which explained the blue tint to her skin and the dark ridges peaking out from her hair. (Horns, Lotor belatedly realized, they were horns, not ridges – she was much younger than he’d initially thought her to be, then.) The Hacxi were once revered hunters and seekers due to their heightened awareness of the physical realm, and a great, nomadic race in his own time. Yet they were now extinct from his father’s rage over their inability to find him the lions of Voltron as the millennia passed. (Another resource so brutally, needlessly wasted.) Acxa was not . . . close with her mother. Especially now. Any more of the story than that, however, was for Lotor to puzzle together; she seemed bewildered that she’d revealed that much to him in the first place.

    Her father, curiously enough, was not Galran at all, but rather a full-blooded subspecies of Human called a Texan from the planet Earth. All were unfamiliar peoples and places to Lotor, and Acxa had smiled a tiny, dimpling grin to reveal that her father’s kind had yet to break the bonds of their own solar system. They were a young, rather primitive species who, with the arrogance of children, assumed themselves to be alone and dominant in the universe. Yet, they had an aptitude for curiosity and exploration; they wanted to learn, and grow. Her mother had been fascinated during her sojourn spent there, and she held the Terrans as a species in high regard. (Clearly.)

    Acxa had never met her father, she revealed on an entirely different night – one when their dreams were heavier for both of them and the shadows were long and dark. It wasn’t safe for her mother to stay on Earth, and she’d been born shortly after her parents’ parting and raised wholly in the ways of her mother’s people. Left with her father, she had an older brother she’d never met. Someday, she had the wistful dream of flying back to Earth and introducing herself. Maybe she would when the universe was a safer, more welcoming place; when all their wars were over.

    But that was more inferred, rather than said aloud, of course. Sometimes, Lotor felt that she shared what she did because she simply had to speak, more than from a wish to tell him, personally. Yet, after so many centuries spent unaware of the passing of time, he could well empathize with her need for sentient connection. He understood the gift of her confidence, and felt a peculiar need to shelter her secrets and keep them safe.

    In return, he shared what he could of his own history. Acxa was endlessly curious about the old ways of the empire, when their people had been at the true height of their glory – rather than the gross pantomime of power that Zarkon currently wielded over the masses. He had stories aplenty to share of the might of Voltron and the Coalition of Free Worlds; all old comrades – entire species and civilizations, even, that were now little more than ghosts to the ancient memory of the universe. He spoke but little of his father as he remembered him, and even less of his mother. Instead, he shared what he remembered of Kovrok his blood-guard and the Clan of Marmora as a whole - back when the warriors of Marmora's line walked in lockstep with the heirs of Daibazaal. Acxa was always very, very silent in those interludes, as if she was carefully taking in and pondering his every word – just as he would expect from a true daughter of Marmora's ilk.

    Even then, Lotor couldn’t bring himself to speak about the end of the Coalition as much as she wished. He remembered how unreal his parents’ deaths were, of course – how unexpected and sudden. (No matter how much he knew that his mother wasn’t well at the end – he knew, and his gold dreams had then screamed at him in Daibazaal's voice.) He was yet too young to fight and hold the Imperial throne, just shy of his majority as he'd been, and Kovrok had hidden him away as was his sworn duty – hidden him away even as a twisted version of his father somehow returned to life with the witch ever faithful at his side to declare war on Altea and all those who sided with her. After King Alfor’s death and the disbandment of Voltron, when Haggar had turned her attention to finding her lord’s heir (for so thoroughly was Honerva the empress and wife and mother gone then), she’d stopped at nothing to achieve her goals. Kovrok had simply stood in her way.

    Lotor still carried the guilt and shame of that death down through the centuries. Then, he’d simply thought himself old and brave enough to stand by his blood-guard when the witch sent her cronies: her twisted and perverted once-Altean druids. He hadn’t listened when Kovrok told him to run, and instead -

    Well, he’d slept in the dark oblivion of a cyro-pod soon after that – passing the centuries with only the voices in the void for company, waiting until Haggar could find a remedy to turn him as immortal as Zarkon so obviously now was. He had no idea why he was finally awakened – why then, if at all? He was clearly an afterthought in the emperor’s mind, and his father had no need of an heir – immortal or otherwise. He hadn’t been able to bend a knee in fealty in the pheebs since then long enough to find out. There was no love lost between them – not from Zarkon who'd lost the ability to love, nor from Lotor, who loathed every false breath that monster drew when his father should have been peacefully sleeping in death. It was an affront against his memories and every value he’d once had instilled in him and against the very laws of nature itself; even if it would mean the death of him, he wouldn’t stand for it. He refused to.

    Of course, he told Acxa of his history only in the barest of words. He offered no details. Yet, as he did with her, he imagined that she understood much of what he did not say. They were . . . symbiotic, in that regard.

    They spent many nights in silence following; yet there was companionship to be found in the silence. And, with companionship, Lotor thought, came some comfort.

    Until: “I don’t understand, sir,” Acxa said one night. He’d broken her of her horrible habit of standing in his presence – here, at least, even if she still chose the furthest seat from him possible so as to not assume familiarity. Which was . . . necessary, he supposed. “All of this,” never vague in the slightest, she yet struggled to find her words. She waved her hand to encompass it all: the night and the stars and the illusion of space between them. “Why share this time with me? When, instead . . . ”

    (But she was trying to understand – she wanted to understand that which she hadn’t the words for. Perhaps, that was why she'd followed him into exile in the first place.)

    In the end, he gave an elegant shrug of his shoulders, and simply said, “Because I want to.”

    It was the only answer he had for her. That one, simple truth was enough for him, and he’d come to accept it. He watched as Acxa struggled to make the answer enough for herself, as well. Yet she was free to leave at any time if she felt anything less than comfortable in his presence. He'd never kept her by his side with a word of command, in any form; she could leave at any time, and in the morning they’d be nothing more than commander and soldier again. They could function as such, solely as such.

    Yet, she stayed . . . she chose to stay. He felt as she exhaled crossly, allowing her pulse to once again calm and match his own in as unspoken a vow as any. He breathed in deeply, and tried not to admit – even to himself – how it had been too long since he’d found another presence he’d wanted his blood-beat to echo, and match in turn. It was dangerously close to a feeling of clan.

    So.

    “The last we spoke,” he went on as if her query had never been voiced. The night was young, after all, and there was still much to learn, “you were telling me about one of Earth’s great heroes. A man named John Wayne. Perhaps you could continue there?”

    Acxa exhaled – just loudly enough for him to know she was cross with herself, before her expression softened. She gave in only after another long, considering look. “Once,” she started with the air of one who’d been told the same story several times before, and knew it by heart, “there was a one eyed marshal in a place and time the Terrans called the wild west . . .”



    ~MJ @};-
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
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  13. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Beautiful setting for their talks. Riveting and complicated backstories for each of them, as to emotional repercussions. [face_thinking]
    You can sense the empathy they can express and how it is completely separate from how they interact in the daytime hours.
    =D=
     
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  14. Gamiel

    Gamiel Force Ghost star 8

    Registered:
    Dec 16, 2012
    Can't really say more then: a nice read.
    I like this one. It really feels very Tony the way you portray him being unable to outright say what it actually is he wants

    Do you realise how sinister you make Wakanda and Shuri sound? HYDRA's brainwashing was really good and it had a reactivation button so if Shuri could do it better it means that they have been reaching that kind of stuff, with test subjects.

    I know of a good fic where Shuri and Bucky develops a close friendship if you are interested.
     
  15. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    First off, I want to thank you for your thoughtful comments.

    But I did want to address this.

    In my drabble I specifically adressed Shuri's disgust with what science has done to another living being - which she then undid. When you questioned her having the skills required to heal Bucky, or so I took your comments to mean, I pointed out that her work has been used on the human body in canon, so she is qualified to help rehabilitate Bucky. Because Shuri is at the same technical level as HYDRA and then some. To illustrate that, I only meant to speak in the theoretical - in response to your wondering what Shuri would do differently - to make the point that she is more than capable of healing him. The difference is that Shuri and Wakanda would never try to recreate what HYDRA did to Bucky. HYDRA was disgusting and immoral. I am mortified to think that you thought I was implying that Wakanda would - or even has? - dabbled in brainwashing themselves. That's not at all what I meant to say, and I apologise if I gave that impression. My point is that, in the end, HYDRA's scientific capabilities are nothing that Shuri can't put her mind to and surpass. Which she proved by helping Bucky.

    Hopefully that helps clear up the point I was trying to make. :)


    ~MJ @};-
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2018
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  16. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Thank-you! I love the bond between Lotor and his generals - and Acxa in particular. It was something that fascinated me in canon during the good old days of the show, and that hasn't changed. :p No matter the clear hierarchy between them, there was such an ease and affection born by long acquaintance, too. Where Zarkon could - and did - do away with his underlings at the drop of a dime when they displeased him, Lotor instead developed a very small circle of trusted allies he led by example. And it's interesting how it was that loss of trust that tore them apart in the end . They all absolutely gutted each other with their actions in S4, so don't mind me if I carry on cleaning up that mess here. [face_whistling]





    Author's Notes: For this double dose of ficlets, I'm heading back to the Marvel 'verse. I sat down to write some more answers to the prompts brodiew sent me, but then my muse had ideas. :oops: I honestly don't know how I ended up here, so just take my few thousand words of Gamora introspection and enjoy them. :p (And Loki too - it's been too long. [face_love])

    I thank you all for reading, as always! [:D]





    V: "You Would Never Break the Chain"
    (Marvel Cinematic Universe)


    I Would Stand” (Post-Thor & Pre-Avengers | Gamora & Loki)

    That day, the Children plucked a god out from amongst the stars.

    The man was falling when they found him - not even trying to flail as he plunged through the cosmos, instead only strangely accepting of his fate and seemingly uncaring of wherever it was he landed. (He’d care soon enough, she knew – oh she knew.) When Gamora asked his name, he gave a grimace to return, “Does it matter?” He was shaky on his feet, as if he’d not walked on solid ground in quite some time.

    Gamora had little patience for flippancy – and Thanos even less so. It didn’t matter that she had no answers to give Father; eventually, he’d find out what he wanted. “An Aesir,” she introduced, pushing hard on the man’s shoulder so that he fell to one knee. Oddly, he winced at her words more so than her treatment. Her brow furrowed, but she refused to indulge her moment’s wondering for overly long. She didn't think beyond what Thanos commanded (except for that little, distant spark in her mind; an ember slowly burning) and she wouldn’t start now, for him.

    “You are far from Odin’s halls, seiðrmanðr,” Thanos rumbled, curiosity glittering in the pits of his eyes. (Gamora sucked in a breath, and held it.) “The First Realm is quite a ways to fall.”

    “Well, Asgard is terribly dull this time of year,” the man had no apparent regard for the danger of his predicament. “I took the fastest way out available to me. Though,” he flicked impossibly green eyes over the sparse grandeur of Thanos’ court, “I can’t say how much of an improvement this is.”

    Corvus was the Son to step forward and strike the Aesir with the back of his armored hand. The seiðrmanðr - the sorcerer, she inferred - spit out scarlet, and flashed his teeth in a humorless grin. It was only the first time he bled in their care, but the last time he smiled. Gamora, thankfully, was too highly ranked amongst her siblings for such mindless savagery, and she only met their guest again later, much later – after he’d finally reached some sort of an accord with Thanos. Father, after all, always got what he wanted. (And this, he wanted very much indeed.)

    The Aesir’s name was Loki, they’d learned at the tip of Nebula’s blade, and he was, above all else, a thorn in Gamora’s side.

    There, waiting in the antechamber for the Other to admit them, Loki sat cross-legged on the floor. His stance was deceptively careless, but years of telling out weakness in her opponents let Gamora see every pain he was trying to hide. His eyes, she thought without pity, had lost their verdant gleam. Flesh and blood would heal in time, yet other wounds were slower to mend. That, she well knew.

    But he snapped his fingers to summon a long silver flute from some shadowed pocket of space-time – magic, Gamora had no taste for – and started to play, at first hesitantly and then with growing confidence. She felt her spine stiffen as the soft notes of liquid velvet rolled over her ears like a memory, before -

    - two long strides took her forward, and she plucked the flute from his hands without a word said aloud. Her blood surged to roar in her ears.

    “I don’t know about your people, Titan’s Daughter,” Loki sniffed to say, “but please and thank-you go a long way amongst my own.”

    She snapped her eyes to meet his gaze. “Where did you get this?” she demanded.

    “A planet called Zen-Whoberi, some ways from here. It’s a forgotten world of little consequence, now,” his words were a study in nonchalance, but she thought that he knew exactly what he said and to whom. “A pity, what happened there – the Zehoberei people used to have some of the best musicians in the galaxy. Odin invited their pipers to court once, centuries ago. I was . . . better at making friends than Thor was, with a troupe of artisans. They were pacifists, with no interest in martial skill, and thus dull to his eyes . . . but their songs were lovely. When I asked, one taught me how to play.”

    Thanos’ scourge had taken every last one of her people’s musicians, Gamora knew with a shiver – a thought she’d not allowed herself to consider in many, many years. Her father, her real father, even -

    . . . but no. No.

    “You can keep it, if you want,” a flicker of green seemingly returned to Loki’s eyes. “I have memories enough to suffice.”

    Gamora drew back to her full height, and sneered down at him. The flute remained clutched in her hand. “Why are you telling me this?”

    “It seemed only fitting, before I go out conquering in the name of Thanos, to remember all who have disappeared by his hand.” There, his mouth thinned in distaste. “You know what he will do if I succeed, after all, don’t you?”

    There was . . . something about his words she didn’t like. Silver-tongue and trickster his own people called him; they were not faith strengthening appellations in the slightest. “You’d best make sure you fulfill your vow,” she warned. “You have an assignment before you, so see it done.”

    “I promised Thanos a victory,” Loki rolled his shoulders with an ease bellied by the stiff set of his limbs. “One subdued Earth and an Infinity Stone, coming right up. I know what happens to those who break word with the Titan – trust that, at least, if you fail to trust me.”

    His words said one thing, but she thought she heard another meaning entirely. Gamora looked down at the flute in her hands, and remembered its song. (Deep, deep down, that long-sleeping ember threatened to spark for flame.)

    “I will make my stand,” Loki whispered, more to himself than to her. “See that you do too, Gamora of Zen-Whoberi.”




    For the Fallen” (Post-Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. II | Gamora/Peter Quill)

    The lights from Yondu’s funeral display seemed to glitter amongst the stars even long after the last Ravager ship finally winked from view. They themselves drifted aimlessly in space, not immediately turning one way or another to set their course. The last few days had seen much for their small band. Now they’d fill their lungs, and try their best to heal.

    Gamora herself didn’t particularly mind taking a moment to breathe. Nebula, after all, could pack a punch like few of their siblings could, and fighting a power-crazed Celestial planet right after hadn’t helped her wounds in the slightest. Then . . . thinking Peter gone had struck her with more force than anything Ego could've ever hoped to match. Her heart was still stuttering to find its beat in her chest.

    I almost lost him. For a moment, I thought I did.

    With a viciousness she’d since eschewed since shrugging off Thanos’ yoke, she wanted to bare her teeth and hold her blade up to that knowledge. He was hers, after all, and she would fight to hold onto that claim. She’d only just found this hesitant, undefined thing that was her own, and she’d not yet give it up – she'd not let go of him or any of them, for that matter. She refused.

    So, Gamora stayed as a silent sentinel in the night, even long after the battle had passed. She didn’t trust what dreams would come if she tried to close her eyes, anyway, and only somewhat grudgingly she allowed herself to admit that she was waiting up for Peter. He’d gone into Yondu’s cabin a few hours ago and had yet to come out. While Gamora may have understood having an uber-powerful-homicidal-maniac as a father, and she even then remembered mourning her true parents, she’d since had time and distance to process both. Peter, to the contrary, had not. His wounds were all too fresh. They'd require time.

    Sitting at the helm of the ship and watching the stars, she took out her silver flute while she waited. Usually, the instrument stayed carefully hidden away with her scant few possessions - especially from the likes of this crew. She hadn’t played the flute since snatching it from Loki - and there she spared a thought for the lying little zorch’ri-uhn who’d completely botched conquering the Earth and whose incompetence had seen the Tessaract safely locked away on Asgard, instead. If she had a drink in hand, she’d toast his name. And, since his quiet, subtle challenge, knowing what she’d done to ensure that both the Soul Gem and the Stone of Power were safely away from the reach of Father . . . well, she knew no regret. That was three empty spaces on the Gauntlet now – four, if she’d heard true about the Reality Stone, and empty she’d have them remain.

    And, what was more than that . . . she finally, finally felt worthy enough to raise the flute to her mouth. She blew out a first, feathery breath. Softly then – still rusty with only the remembered reflexes of her childhood – she began to play.

    “And to think that when we met you didn’t even know how to dance.”

    Her song faltered, and the flute fell from her mouth. “Peter,” his name was an exhale as she turned. No matter that he was leaning against the bulkhead with his arms lazily crossed, the grim set of his expression gave him away. His eyes were still red, and dark shapes of color bloomed beneath his gaze like bruises. He’d been crying, she knew with a pang. How are you? she wanted to ask – a fool’s question, but one that burned to be freed. What do you need of me? How do I share and lift your grief? What can I do to speak this unspoken thing aloud?

    Yet, her clumsy tongue said nothing as Peter flopped down into the chair next to hers. He held his forehead in his hands with a sigh. “I liked it, what you were playing,” he mumbled, closing his eyes and gesturing. “You don’t have to stop for me.”

    “I . . . on Zen-Whoberi we played mourning songs for the dead,” she found her own voice tight to share. An explanation seemed fitting, then. “I don’t remember the dirges of passing . . . not in full, anyway. Mostly, I was making it up as I went.” His head quirked towards her, and no matter that she couldn’t see his eyes she suddenly had the sense that Peter was watching her very, very closely. She’d never observed the last rites for her people, she thought then with a pang. Shame had always held those songs in as she was instead raised and molded to serve their destroyer as a weapon in his hands. She’d called her parents' murderer Father and even tried to love him as such, the knowledge tugged on her heart and weighed down her lungs.

    “Songs for the fallen? Yondu would’ve hated that,” finally, Peter scraped out a chuckle. “Or so he’d say, anyway. But then, he always could carry a tune.” He didn’t mention his mother then, or Ego and who his father could have been, but he didn’t have to.

    Instead, he only hesitated for a moment before turning in his chair and opening his arms. The motion was oddly shy, bereft of all the surefire teasing and innuendo his flirting normally bore. This, she felt, was not some cocky part of an ongoing mating dance. It was vulnerability, instead - vulnerability and invitation. It was an invitation, something deep inside of her then knew with a whisper, that she wanted – needed, even – to accept.

    She rose to her feet, and let only a heartbeat pass before joining him in his seat. She settled her legs across his lap, and felt as his arms rose to cradle her. He was very warm beneath her – a Terran or a Celestial quirk, she knew not. She could hear his heartbeat, and as she breathed in his scent something deep within her own heart twisted. For a moment, she simply closed her eyes and allowed herself to be held. She felt him swallow, long and slow, and hoped that in a similar sense, he drew comfort from her presence too.

    Then, she lifted the flute to her mouth once more, and started to play.


    ~MJ @};-
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2018
  17. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Exquisitely gorgeous! The snarky scene with Loki, the heart-tugging one with Peter, tied together by a lovely, lovely instrument and near-forgotten melodies... =D=
    I love Gamora's sense of two different places as to how she sees herself and her place in the world. [face_thinking] @};-
     
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  18. Gamiel

    Gamiel Force Ghost star 8

    Registered:
    Dec 16, 2012
    I understand what you are saying and I never meant that you meant to imply that Wakanda was more evil then we see in the movie, but I think you don't understand the point I'm trying to make.

    Yes, Wakanda is in many ways more advanced then anything that HYDRA had or has but technology or knowledge is not something that's developed at an universal level, just because you are highly advanced in a field don't mean you automatically is advanced in another. You need to do research in that field to have any real knowledge in it and by having Shuri calling HYDRA's advanced brainwashing technique (that they seem to be alone with) "cheap. Amateurish. Sloppy" you imply (even if you don't mean to) that Wakanda have an more advanced/better understanding of brainwashing then HYDRA thereby implying that they have done deep research in to it. Since that's not what you are implying I would suggest that Shuri don't call it "cheap. Amateurish. Sloppy" but instead use words like 'brutal', 'ruthless', 'inhumane', 'disgusting', 'immoral' and similar.


    Nice. I like how Loki try to turn Thanos' underlings against him even while he works with him.

    I would personally have Loki a bit more on the edge and not fully collected after his fall through the universe, maybe showing some kind of PTSD but that's me and this is your fic.

    Nice. Like how Gamora try to grasp how to interact with Quill after all that he just went through and not knowing what to really do since it's something her training under Thanos have not prepared her for.

    I like how the two stories together show how Gamora have changed throughout the years.
     
  19. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Aw, thank-you! Gamora is a fascinating character for me any day (really, Zoe Saldana can do no wrong. :p), and you know I couldn't resist with Loki. [face_mischief] I thank you so much for reading, my friend, as always! [:D]



    I understood your point, but I think we're going to have to agree to disagree. But I do thank you for the time and thought you put into your comments on all my Marvel ficlets. I enjoyed reading your reviews, and appreciate your feedback! :)


    Alrighty then! I have more to share with you guys in just a few. :D


    ~MJ @};-
     
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  20. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Author's Notes: I managed to write for a few of the older NSWFF prompts to refresh my muse from working on my chaptered fics for the November word race, and this was the first one that I managed to finish and clean up for a proper posting! Hopefully I will have lots more to share with you guys soon. Enjoy! [face_love] [:D]







    VI. "The Distance Light Travels"

    (Voltron: Legendary Defender)

    Starlight (Pre-Season One | Krolia/Keith's Father)

    She’d grown so used to keeping her schedule by Earth’s single yellow sun that, at first, it was a difficult habit to break. Earth’s days were longer, and the nights shorter than the standard universal time they observed in keeping with the rest of the empire. She now rose earlier than most of her fellow blades – which was quite a feat with the sleep cycles many of them kept, yet she was usually the first to tire and turn in early when not on duty. (And that was most certainly not because of anything else her body was currently experiencing, thank you very much, Kolivan. The blademaster may have had her unswerving loyalty, but as a male of their species his opinion on this particular matter was moot.) Their base, safely nestled between the violence of their warped blue sun and twin black holes, knew no concept of night and day. The corridors were perpetually dim, just as the air was faintly metallic with a tell-tale artificial odor. During her sojourn away, she’d become accustomed to bright natural sunlight and an oxygen rich atmosphere, so much so that she now craved those conditions.

    . . . yet, perhaps more than anything else, Krolia had grown used to falling asleep nestled against someone she loved and waking up to see his eyes first thing every morning. She missed those eyes, just as she missed his smile; she missed his warmth and his humor and the way his blood-beat would leap when she walked into a room and the way his pulse slowed to match her own when the slept, even though he was not Galra in the slightest and couldn’t do so with any conscious intention. She missed -

    - well, she just . . . missed. Her longing felt as a knife stuck deep between her rib-bones, there to stay even as the wound began to fester around the blade, refusing to heal. She constantly felt as if she was trying to inhale when her lungs were pierced with steel; no matter how she tried, she was never able to fully draw in a breath.

    It was always worse at night, when she didn't have her duties to distract her and the bare, impersonal shape of her quarters turned oppressive with silence. No matter that the second movement was quickly giving way to the third, sleep refused to grant her body solace; her endeavors were a fruitless quest, even with the rhi-bark tea Antok had thoughtfully brewed for her. Instead of tossing and turning – a difficult thing, with her condition being in such an advanced stage as it was – she opened her eyes to the dark and finally surrendered to awareness. Without bothering to curb her impulse, she reached over to grab her communicator from the bedside stand. It didn't matter that she’d already played the message so many times over, she had to watch it again. She knew every frame and had long since memorized each word, but she was drawn to the recording the same way their dying blue star was held in thrall to the laws of gravity, even as those selfsame laws tore it apart; she couldn't look away.

    It took a moment for the picture to settle and focus on a familiar sight. Her mate was standing outside of their small home, on the path cutting through what little bit of a vegetable garden he’d been able to coax to grow from the dry, arid soil. Earth’s modest, relatively young sun was just finishing its descent beyond the western horizon, painting the cloudless sky in bands of scarlet and rich violet before giving way entirely to black. There, Eloy had their child outside to show him the stars as they winked into view. (Cassiopeia, the Dippers both Big and Little, and Aries and Scorpius and Leo and so on – the Terrans defined what they could see of the cosmos by only eighty-eight formations, when the stars of the universe were beyond the counting. She reflexively looked for those same constellations even now, no matter how many galaxies she was away from Earth's Milky Way.)

    Yet, that night, it wasn’t the stars that held her mate’s attention – well, not entirely, at least. Visible in the warm light from their home, Eloy’s face was split in a grin as he held his hands out to steady their toddling son. He wasn't quite holding on, but he was ready to jump to Keith's aid if his balance failed him. Even though Krolia had seen this recording a dozen times over, she watched it again with bated breath, enraptured just as she was the first time she’d seen her cub walk. He’d taken his fledgling steps without her; he was growing so, so quickly, all while she was too far away to see.

    Yet, the now familiar pang she felt for that thought couldn’t quite win over the smile she felt stretching on her face. She felt such pride fill her: her son. Look at how strong he was growing, so fast! That was her son; her blood had half made him so, she wanted to revel in delight for the triumph she could feel pulsing through her veins.

    “Yesterday was the first time he managed to walk a few steps without falling, and now he seems determined to toddle about wherever he can – he’s trying his best to get into anything and everything, the lil’ scamp. He . . . he’s developing quickly, at that, much more quickly than if he was just a Human babe,” as always, the slow drawl of Eloy’s voice settled in her ears with a warmth all its own. Imperceptibly, Krolia felt some of the tension leach from her bones for the sound. “He’s growing in leaps and bounds, every day now.”

    When she was first forced away from Earth, Keith was only just beginning to crawl. He was newly sitting up on his own and holding his arms out to her with those gurgling noises that meant ma’a and want and expectation. Krolia drew in a shaky breath, wishing that her nose was full of his scent just then, such as sound and image alone couldn't hope to convey. Her arms flexed, but she was unable to fill them, not as she truly wanted.

    I make sure to talk about you as much as I can, and I’ve been showing him your messages,” even without hearing her words, Eloy always managed to guess her reply. That knowing, at least, the distance between them had not erased. “I’ll make sure you’re here . . . even when you’re not, for as long as it takes.”

    For that, she gave a slow exhale as she allowed his words to sooth her. Their parting was not indefinite, she reminded herself. If Maahes was kind, she’d be back with her family before her cub said his first words. She’d done her duty as a disciple of Marmora and one sworn to the Blade; she’d returned to her clan and shared what she knew of the Voltron lion they’d found in the Sol system. Even now she hoped that she would be returned to Earth to stand post as the Blue lion's officially assigned guardian . . . it was a mission she longed for, in every possible way. But she wouldn’t know her course until her elders made their decision. In the meantime, all she could do was wait . . . wait, and watch.

    . . . and want.

    “I went out to the caverns today to make sure our sensors were still in place. We’ve had some wind storms go through, and a few of the relays were touch and go,” Eloy continued. “I took Keith with me this time. I don’t know if it was the summer heat or missing you that finally got to me, but I swear that I saw a light wink in the lion’s eyes when I brought him in . . . I don’t know how else to explain what I saw. Keith tried to march right on through the barrier before I could stop him – he seemed right surprised when it bounced him back and landed him on his rear.” There, his smile turned crooked, and his eyes took on a teasing glint. “He looks so much like you when he’s frustrated, darlin' – when he's angry, too. If you’ve ever worried about a likeness before, well, there you have it.”

    Krolia rolled her eyes with a huff. She was a Blade of Marmora; through her training she had mastered holding a stoic countenance under trial; only triumph or death would ever keep her from achieving her goals. Her mate had no idea what he spoke of, obviously.

    But . . . it was a grace all its own, Eloy’s smile. It helped, even when she still noticed the shadows his own attempts for mirth couldn’t completely erase. He seemed tired, she worried; his sun tanned skin looked bruised about his eyes, even in the half-light, as if he wasn’t sleeping enough. A Human body required more rest than a Galran one, she wanted to counsel, and he needed to take care of himself better. But he had many things to keep him awake in the night, she understood all too well – and that was even before caring for their son in the little hours. He missed her as much as she missed him, she never doubted the strength of their bond. And, there he was, raising their child alone. She, no matter how her duty had forced her hand, had made a deliberate decision to leave her cub to be raised by one, where nature had intended two. It . . . it wasn’t right, and an all too familiar guilt settled within her anew and tore for the irrefutable truth of that knowledge. Her course wasn’t right, yet she couldn’t fix it. Not then; not yet.

    . . . but soon, she comforted herself. Soon.

    “I miss you,” Eloy’s voice seemed to stick in his throat to say, fast on the wings of her own thoughts. If she was there, she’d be able to hear the way his blood-beat caught; she’d be able to scent his grief and try her best to sooth it. But . . . she was so far away from Earth. For now, this cold means of communication would have to suffice. “We both do.”

    Belatedly, he cleared his throat and then shook his head as if to brush away whatever strong emotion had overcome him. He gathered himself, and she did the same as he turned the communicator down towards their son. “But, until then, he’s a beautiful part of you to hold onto, darlin'. I don’t regret a thing,” she could still hear his voice even as he disappeared from view, and her field of vision filled with her child instead. “How about you show your ma’a how well you’ve been walking?” Eloy’s voice turned coaxing as he spoke to Keith. “Go on then, no need to be shy.”

    As if he somehow understood, Keith began walking towards his father with wobbling, ungainly steps. He gummed his toothless mouth open and closed, with his arms held out and eager to be picked up once he finished his path. By the angle of the communicator, Krolia could almost fool herself into thinking that he was coming straight towards her - that it was her arms he wanted, and her presence that was causing him to smile such a smile. She focused on his growing mop of dark hair and the shape of his face as the recorder filled with his picture – in the curious way of hybrid genetics, he looked more and more like her every day, even though he had his father’s eyes and clearly Human coloring. For that, at least, she was grateful. It would make life on Earth so much easier for him. The Terran people . . . they still thought themselves alone in the universe, and their first reaction to anything different than themselves was fear. A species who felt themselves threatened was capable of anything, especially if they thought they were protecting their own – that, she knew from Eloy’s stories as well as her own dealings as a spy in the Galra Empire. To be caught in a crossfire as brutal as that could be was not a future she wanted for her child, not in the slightest.

    But she couldn’t think on such thoughts for very long, not when she had so perfect an image before her. Eloy scooped up their child when he was close enough, and Keith gave a peal of babyish giggles for the swift change in his perspective. There, staring at her family, Krolia couldn’t help but smile as warmth filled her heart - like sunlight finally finishing its journey of lightyears to fill her spirit and revive her with sorely needed energy. As they both said their goodbyes to the recorder – well, as Eloy did, and Keith made nonsense noises to mimic his father’s speech – Krolia fell back against her single pillow with a sigh. There, she let the hand that was not holding her communicator come down to cover her midsection, and pressed with a gentle pressure to assure her daughter that all was well.

    Throughout the entirety of the recording, she could feel the second heartbeat within her body leap for hearing the voices in the message. It had taken her a truly embarrassing amount of time to understand the changes in her own body when she first returned from Earth. But she’d been desensitized by her grief, and, finally, it had taken Kolivan politely clearing his throat to ask if she was well for understanding to crash into her with all the force of a meteor striking land. How could she not have immediately recognized the smaller blood-beat that was cradled within her own? There was a second presence her body was nurturing, growing all the louder with new life as the days passed. Her impending motherhood was there as plain as a star was bright for anyone with their senses about them, and, for so long, Krolia had been blind to see what her own body was telling her.

    Yet, even if she had been slow to understand at first, the ever growing shape of her child was now impossible to deny. Quite through accident, her mate wasn’t the only one left to raise a child alone, she thought wryly. She'd have quite the surprise to share when she - when they both returned to Earth.

    Which, hopefully, would be before very long. Soon, she’d find a way for them to be together again; she was a daughter of Marmora's ilk, after all, and she refused to fail in the task set before her. Victory, or death, she thought wryly, would keep her from her goal.

    Yet, until then:

    “This is your father, little one, and your brother too,” she introduced, her voice soft, but full. She thumbed the command to play the recording over from the start, and stroked the skin of her belly as her daughter kicked against the tangible pressure of her fingertips. She could feel her child’s blood-beat drowsily ebb to echo her own, only to spike with interest for the sound of her father’s voice. “And they already love you so very, very much.”

    There, surrounded by her family in what way she could, Krolia let her thoughts drift, and vainly tried for rest.



    ~MJ @};-
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2018
  21. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    "The Distance Light Travels"
    Gorgeous title! =D=

    The details of the harsh and brutal location for their base -- wow, I almost felt I was there. You paint the scene so vividly: the metallic tang to the air; the 2 black holes, as if 1 wasn't enough; and a blue sun that sounds like it doesn't put off enough warmth.
    Krolia had grown used to falling asleep nestled against someone she loved and waking up to see his eyes first thing every morning. She missed those eyes, just as she missed his smile; she missed his warmth and his humor and the way his blood-beat would leap when she walked into a room and the way his pulse slowed to match her own when they slept, even though he was not Galra in the slightest and couldn’t do so with any conscious intention. She missed -
    I have no words to describe how poignant this passage is!

    Eloy is a darling & Keith is beyond adorable!
    I can well understand how Krolia misses them and feels her heart ache with the forced separation, particularly now with a new youngling inside. @};- [face_thinking]
    I HOPE, so very much that her heart's longing comes true and she reunites with Eloy & Keith in the not-too-distant future.
    ^:)^
     
    Mira_Jade likes this.
  22. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Thank-you! You know I worry about my purple prose sometimes, but I couldn't resist that title. It just stuck. [face_love]

    Thank-you! :D I am almost a hundred percent positive that a few laws of physics were broken there, but the Blade of Marmora's base was beautifully animated onscreen and it's definitely one of the last places in the universe Zarkon would look. :p But after spending time on a vibrant planet like Earth with a loved one, I can only imagine how the asceticism of the base would rankle with Krolia after returning! :(

    Thank-you!! :D As much as seasons 5-7 rankled me, the flashback scenes with Krolia and Keith's father were just the best, and it was so much fun writing a glimpse of their relationship here. And baby Keith! He wasn't always such a prickly little porcupine, it's true. :p [face_love]

    I just have so many questions about this family that canon either chose to ignore entirely or gave less than satisfactory answers to, in my opinion - so I am so excited to reimagine the rest of their story in my series!! At the very least, she's steamrolling to a reunion with both of her children in "There is Salt in the Sun" and I can't wait to tell that tale. It's going to be a bumpy ride, but I can promise as much of a happy ending as possible with all certainty. I'm too much of a sucker for anything else. [face_love]

    Thank-you so much for your kind words, my friend! I am thrilled to hear you enjoyed this ficlet, and, as always, appreciate your support more than words can say. [face_love][:D]


    ~MJ @};-
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2018
    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha likes this.
  23. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Author's Notes: Here we have two interconnected Voltron uber-ficlets set to NSWFF prompts - I'm trying my best to chip away at the list! The first ficlet is canon compliant, while the second is set in my rewrite 'verse "A Universe to Wake From Sleep". So, don't mind the inaccuracies, they're intentional. ;)

    Enjoy! [:D]






    VII. "I'll Be Your Satellite"

    (Voltron: Legendary Defender)

    Orbit (Season Three | Pidge & Hunk & Lance)

    She turned sixteen somewhere out over the Triangulum galaxy.

    That was the name they gave it back on Earth, anyway – the three spacefaring races who originated from the spiral of stars and planets called their home something that had far too many contestants for Pidge to pronounce aloud, and the Castle’s servers had previously identified it as Galaxy X2-13z256. But the people of the Triangulum galaxy were the latest they'd help free from Zarkon's clutches, and thus the newest members of the Voltron Coalition. That counted as a victory to celebrate, knowing that they were slowly but surely fulfilling their mandate as Defenders of the Universe.

    It was amazing, what they were accomplishing together – really it was, but Pidge still struggled to smile as Allura played their role of diplomat that evening. As always, Shiro stood just at her right hand while the rest of the paladins flanked her with Coran. Pidge usually had difficulties keeping patient through political niceties, anyway, and it was just so hard to pay attention while Allura went through the Prime race’s leader’s sixteen children in appropriate rank and custom to formally thank each and every one of them for their contribution to the alliance then. She’d thankfully been paying just enough attention so that Lance didn’t have to elbow her side too hard when it was her turn to address the prime of the Prime race (redundancy, much?) and give her own respects as the Green paladin of Voltron. Somehow, she managed to play her part without tripping over her words too much, never mind that she knew Coran would undoubtedly have a list of helpful pointers to share later. (Oh, joy.)

    But, no matter how she tried, she couldn't bring herself to sit through the banquet that followed. She only pushed her food around her plate with a listless expression as Hunk shot one worried look her way after another. He’d spent so much time with representatives from the Prime, Major, and Ultra peoples to make sure they had a menu that was palatable to everyone in attendance, and he was proud of what he’d cooked up as a result. Guilt churned in her stomach, but she could only manage another bite or two before excusing herself. It was better that she just disappeared entirely instead of sulking through the rest of the diplomatic event; she didn’t want to be a black cloud on the festivities. Or at least that was her reasoning – Coran would have better known just how much of a faux pas she was creating, and that too was probably (definitely) going to be a part of his post-mission briefing.

    Still, no matter the dent she may or may not have been putting on their relationship with the three races of the Triangulum galaxy, her mind was made up. Following her escape, she was all too happy to shuck her armor in favor of her comfortable, familiar clothes from Earth and sneak down to Green’s hangar. Her lion had been rumbling in the back of her mind the entire evening, wrapping herself around her thoughts and humming through her veins as if she could seek out and sooth whatever hurt there was to mend. But there wasn’t anything Green could tinker with and fix; not this time. No, Pidge thought miserably, the only thing that would settle this particular ache was everything that was just beyond her reach.

    “I’m okay, girl,” no matter how much she teased Lance for his easy dialogue with Blue – and now Red, in a way, she found herself doing much the same with Green when they were alone. “I just have work to do; I can’t keep smiling and pretend like everything is fine when it needs to be done.”

    Hunk had even figured out how to make a giant tiered cake for the celebration, she felt a burning sensation grow behind her eyes to remember. Cake, like she hadn’t had in -

    - well, in exactly a year now. But that, she definitely wasn’t thinking about. Not then.

    Instead, she opened her laptop and swiped her hands so that the constantly running search engine she had going moved to hover right in her line of sight. (Altean tech, Pidge still couldn’t help but gush, was beautiful in its simple complexity.) She ran through her parameters to refine them before feeding in the new intelligence the Triangulum races had shared, and then sat back to watch. There was nothing else she could do.

    Eventually, her eyes started to cross from staring at the flashing peoples and places for so long. The blurring edges of her vision was the only clue she had as to the passing of time, so thoroughly had she been engrossed in her task. But Green stirred in the back of her mind to rumble a fond greeting, and that was all the warning she had before -

    “ - hey, Pidge, we thought we might find you here.”

    At the sound of her name, Pidge squinted to focus on the world beyond her search again. With a shake of her head, she pushed her glasses up her nose so that she could rub the heels of her palms over her eyes. When she looked up again, Hunk and Lance were standing right in front of her. Each of them were out of their armor, she noticed with some surprise, with matching looks of concern pinching their expressions.

    Green gave a huff of satisfaction in her mind, and Pidge rolled her eyes as understanding hit her. Her friends had been summoned, it seemed. You couldn’t just leave well enough alone, could you? she huffed. Tattle-tale.

    But, much like the over-grown house cat she actually was, Pidge had the mental sense that Green was unimpressed with her annoyance. She simply gave a lazy turn in her consciousness, and flicked her metaphorical tail in satisfaction. It’s what you require, so we provided, paladin, Green felt shared spoke into her mind. For her lion, it was that simple.

    Well, it may have been cut and dried for her quasi-sentient vaguely-telepathic alien super-weapon. For Pidge, however, it was anything but.

    But she managed a wobbly smile in greeting, even as she fought the urge she had to sigh outright. “Shouldn’t you guys still be at the banquet? You know that Allura’s going to have a cow if we all bail at the same time,” Pidge played the one card she had left.

    “Um, since when has Allura being mad or not ever stopped you from doing anything?” Hunk shrugged, unconcerned.

    “And,” Lance added breezily, “that’s exactly what we said when Shiro told us to follow you. Allura overheard and was confused as to how one could actually have a cow. Much amusing Earthling to Altean translation then followed.” His mouth melted into a cheesy grin, as if Allura learning the ins and outs of Human slang was the most endearing thing in the universe.

    Hunk gave Lance an unimpressed look, but the roll of his eyes he gave was fond. “After we explained," he took over for his friend, "she told the Prime of Primes that you had a coming of age ritual to attend to, and us with you – so we’re covered. No one's missing us."

    "The prime even wanted to offer his peoples’ own . . . unique traditions to help celebrate," Lance couldn't help but add with a snort. "But don't worry - Allura did some verbal somersaults to save you from that. I think that she and Shiro won themselves a few hours of watching an interpretive dance now, though – so we’ll have to make it up to them later. They’re taking one for the team.”

    Somehow, their words didn’t surprise her in the slightest. Pidge snorted, even as she fought the internal urge she had to wince. Shiro was the one who wanted them to follow her? He’d flown with her father and brother for so long as part of the Kerberos mission, where this day had come and gone once already. No doubt he already knew exactly why she was in such a mood, and if he thought he was helping, he wouldn’t have any qualms about sharing what she considered to be private with her friends. He was too much of a white knight to do anything else.

    “So,” sure enough, Hunk continued, “why didn’t you tell us it's your birthday? Sixteen years old, huh? That’s quite the achievement.”

    “Not really; it’s just another day,” Pidge shrugged. Feeling somewhat miserable, she drew her legs up to her chest and rested her chin atop her knees. She stared at her search as it continued to run, patiently waiting to catch a glimpse of her father – or Matt; her heart wasn’t picky just then. “Honestly,” she mumbled, “it’s not a big deal.”

    “Sure, it may be just another day, but it’s still an important day,” Lance didn’t quite agree. “This is a day you’d be celebrating back on Earth.”

    Oh, she knew exactly how boisterously Lance’s giant family could throw a party for any given reason. But her birthday would have been a more subdued occasion in the Holt household. The same as she did every year, her mother would’ve woken her up right before the clock turned four by crawling into bed with her and saying: At this very moment, I held you just like this for the first time. You were so small – even smaller than your brother was, yet you cried like you wanted to let everyone know you had arrived. You were born ready to take the world by storm, Katherine, and you haven’t changed since. A family dinner would've followed that evening, with all of her favourite foods and desserts, nothing more than that. It was simple and intimate and Pidge liked it that way – or, rather, she had liked it that way.

    An unbearable pang of missing tore through her for her memories. As much as she wanted to find her father and Matt, she really wanted a hug from her mom just then. This was the first time in sixteen years that Colleen Holt hadn’t woken her up on her birthday, and Pidge had stayed awake and stared at the minutes as they ticked away on her chrono instead. No matter that they’d all sent messages to their families to let them know that they were okay, and would be home as soon as they could manage, any more regular contact than that was impossible; Earth just wasn’t advanced enough to manage frequent inter-galactic communications – not yet, anyway – and they carried on for the most part in silence. It was a change she was still struggling to grow used to, even months later.

    “Turning sixteen isn’t the problem – not really,” Pidge tried to find the words to explain. If she was honest with herself, she was amazed that she was only just sixteen; she felt so much older than she actually was. “It’s just . . .”

    “On days like this, you miss your family even more?” Lance finished softly.

    “And, sometimes, we’re so far away that sometimes you worry that you’re forgetting them,” Hunk added as he sat down on the floor of the hangar right next to her. “You worry that they’re forgetting you, too.”

    “With how big the universe actually is out here,” she added, “Earth doesn’t even seem real to me. Not anymore . . . not after everything we’ve seen and done. Being Katie on Earth, and me here right now . . . it doesn’t feel the same.”

    Sometimes they weren’t even specks in the night sky, when, once, traveling to the edge of their solar system had felt like venturing out into the vastness of the cosmos. It was a mind boggling thought, whenever she let herself dwell on it for too long – and that was even before considering their resisting the Galra empire and all that it truly meant to be a paladin of Voltron.

    Lance followed suit with Hunk, and pulled up a seat on the floor. It helped to have one of her best friends on either side of her, with their shoulders bumping up against and bracketing her own. She felt a hesitant flush of comfort push its way through the cold of her thoughts as the mental bond she shared with her teammates filled with wordless expressions that she couldn’t untangle for individual strands. She only knew that Lance and Hunk were anchors just then, letting her find her footing in her own mind. The burning sensation that’d been building behind her eyes finally gave way for tears, yet she didn’t fight them as they silently fell down her cheeks, even when her glasses fogged. She had to let her grief free; she felt as if she’d burst, otherwise.

    “You can see this galaxy from Earth, did you guys know that?” her voice was thin to voice the thought that’d been heavy on her mind that day. “It’s in the Triangulum constellation, in our northern sky. My dad taught Matt and me how to find it, and Mom knows the stars too. So, tonight I just hope . . .”

    She hoped that her mother was looking up, and somehow knew that she was looking down on her just the same. Even more than that, she hoped that her father and brother were somewhere out there too, thinking of her and staying as safe as they could be. She hoped that they all knew that she hadn’t abandoned them; she was determined to make her family whole again. Someday she’d find them, she would. No matter what.

    Yet, until then, she had these guys.

    “I know you’re not actually my sister,” was the only thing Lance could say after the silence stretched on, “but I think of you like one, Pidge.” She felt the length of his arm press against hers, and knew that he was thinking of his own family. “I’m just glad that, sixteen years ago, you came into this world. I'm glad you're here with us now.”

    “We can be your family until you find your own; I think of you as mine, too,” Hunk added. It had always been that simple for him. “Thank-you, for sharing today with us.”

    And there, for just a moment, glowing as a tiny dot in amongst the vastness of Earth’s sky, Pidge didn’t feel quite so far from home.


    .

    .

    Detour (Pre-"There is Salt in the Sun" | Sam Holt & Krolia)

    Back on Earth, the day would have been April 3rd.

    They told time differently, out here in space. Ticks and vargas and quintants and pheobs – all were alien terms to him at first, but Samuel Holt had always been a fast learner. The Galra operated by a vaguely twenty-eight hour day that nevertheless resulted in a shorter universal year than Earth observed, he quickly caught on. Ticks were longer than seconds, while dobashes were still just shy of a minute; the concept of a seven day week was completely foreign, and thus had no correlation of terms. Even so, he managed to keep the math going in his head, first as a way to keep himself distracted after being separated from Matt and Shiro, and then as a way to remind himself that he was still human. He was a Human being from the planet Earth, and he had a home and a family waiting for him to return. No matter the bizarre turn his life had taken, he would survive and find his way back to them if it was the last thing he did.

    Yet here and now, almost two years later, he still wasn’t any closer to planning his escape than he was before. But he’d managed to keep himself alive, at the very least, where so many countless others had fallen. In a somewhat bitter twist of irony, it seemed that his mind was still considered advanced by the standards of a more technically advanced species than mankind. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Galra knew how to best glean the first-fruits from their prisoners for the good of the empire, and he'd been declared useful right from the start. Since then he managed to think quick on his feet while speaking slowly and carefully; he was determined to play the game for as long as was needed, and the rules demanded that he keep his head down and his mouth shut until an opportunity presented itself. The odds may have been stacked against him, statistically speaking, but his captors were not infallible. Someday, hopefully someday soon, they would err and give him the chance he needed to escape; when they did, he’d be ready.

    Until then he was patiently biding his time – which was slightly easier here as compared to the work camps he'd first served in, and infinitely better than that awful period of time he spent at the beck and call of that space-witch. Warlord Ranveig was no more easier a taskmaster than any other, but at least he was wise enough to understand that carefully maintained tools tended to serve their wielders better than bruised and broken tools. And a useful tool, Sam knew he was most definitely considered to be.

    (Even so, there were times when he couldn’t quite wrap his mind around the magnitude of what they were trying to accomplish here. What they were being tasked to create was the stuff of science fiction – of sci-fi horror, even – such as he still balked to fully comprehend. But for his freedom and for the safety of his planet and all the peoples of the universe once he managed that freedom, he would do what he must. He had no choice but to carry on as he was.)

    Yet, no matter how he tried, he couldn’t seem to keep his mind focused that day. The numbers on his displays were all blurring together, sending one graph tumbling into the other until he could scarce make sense of his readings. If his team noticed his distraction, they were smart enough to keep their heads down and hold their tongues. Discipline was never meted out upon the one, but rather upon the whole, and Sam was trying to gather himself so they’d have a productive day of work to show for their efforts. He didn’t want anyone else to suffer for his distraction.

    But, still . . . April 3rd. It was the third of April back home. On Earth, spring would have just coaxed the flowers to bud, drowsy and hesitant after sleeping so long through the winter; all of nature would have just begen waking up again. He'd long held the opinion that his baby girl had picked the perfect day to be born, though he was admittedly biased in that regard. Every year, he never quite managed to wake as early as Colleen did to sneak into Katie's room. Instead, he always roused a little bit later and then let them both sleep in favor of going downstairs to start breakfast for the family. The menu would be the same as always: thick slices of cinnamon French toast and mixed berries and fresh squeezed orange juice to start the day. That combination was his daughter’s favourite – and his wife’s too, for that matter; it was the first meal he’d made for Colleen after they returned home from the hospital that first time, sixteen years ago now.

    Sixteen years old, he thought with a pang. If things had gone as planned, he should have well been home from Kerberos already. He’d already missed his daughter turning fifteen thanks to his abduction, and he’d only been able to congratulate her on fourteen through one of his messages sent home through the Garrison’s servers. But this – this year was special; reaching this age was an important occasion, and it deserved to be commemorated. Yet, here he was, further away from Earth than ever before and without the faintest idea of how or when he’d find his way back home. His family didn’t even have a way to know that he was alive and thinking about them; they had no idea that they were the driving force that got him through each and every impossible day. He could only hope that, somehow, Colleen knew he was still out here and thinking of her. He hadn’t given up the idea of returning home to her and their children, not by a long shot.

    While such thoughts were normally his entire reason for perseverance, they only managed to twist like a knife in his gut just then; for a moment, he found it hard to breathe.

    “The warlord will not stomach another delay, Human.”

    And that was what he was most afraid of: his inattention being noticed by his overseers. All around him, his team hunkered down; not a single soul dared to look up and glance his way. But while the Galran commander who stopped behind him crossed her arms and narrowed her eyes, Sam didn’t immediately fear for her presence. Instead, relief only filled him for the fact that it was just her and not one the brutes like General Thutt or Commander Merrok who'd noticed his inattention. Sam had learned to trust his instincts during his time away from Earth, even when he didn’t wholly understand them. And those instincts were currently assuring him that, while the low growl of her words may have sounded like a threat, he was safe from her. The commander – a severe woman named Krolia, was one of Ranveig’s top ranked underlings, and that alone should have ruled her out as a potential ally. But, for some reason he couldn’t even begin to understand, she’d taken an interest in him, rather than the other way around. So far, that interest hadn’t done him wrong, and he was grudgingly curious . . . so far, at least.

    “A gift, from High Priestess Haggar,” Sam could still remember the dry, bone scrapping sound of the druid’s voice as he was given to Ranveig for his project – traded as if he was some prized piece of livestock instead of a sentient being with thoughts and a freewill of his own. “He hails from a primitive world called Earth, but his mind has already proven useful in our pursuits. For the glory of Emperor Zarkon, Lord of the Known Universe, may that continue to be so.”

    Even then, kneeling on the ground with her comrades behind Ranveig for the druid's august presence, her gaze had snapped to him and lingered – drawing Sam’s attention even more so than the hulking brute of an alien they called warlord. From that wonderfully dehumanizing introduction, she knew that he came from Earth, but Krolia was the only one of her kind to ever call him Human. It was, Sam Holt’s quick mind thought, very curious . . . very curious indeed.

    “You’re right,” he didn’t bother denying her observation. “Please, forgive me, ma’am; my mind was elsewhere.”

    Following his words, he managed to sneak a glance up while keeping his head demurely bowed. Krolia, at least, looked like she’d swallowed something sour for his groveling, but he’d long since learned to do what was necessary to survive. His subservience was a difficult habit to break.

    Instead of replying to him outright, she rested a hand on the back of his chair and leaned forward as if to better study the outputs from his readings. Even so, Sam suspected that the graphs and numbers didn’t truly hold her interest. They were just a convenient diversion. “You are distracted this day,” she said next, so lowly that only he could hear. Her two-toned eyes were carefully narrowed away form him, but he could feel the weight of her attention, regardless.

    “Well . . . yes,” Sam muttered. “I suppose I am.”

    She tilted her head, but waited in silence. From that, Sam got the impression that she expected more of an explanation loud and clear.

    So: “My daughter . . . she was born today,” he managed to scrape the words together. “Well, she was born on this day sixteen years ago, by my planet’s time.”

    A long moment of silence passed. For all the worlds, Sam felt that the Galran commander was searching for her words. “Observing one’s day of birth is of great importance to Humankind,” she finally said. Her voice was soft, so soft that he couldn't tell her words for a question or statement of fact.

    “Yeah, I guess you could say so,” Sam agreed, his brow furrowing in puzzlement. “Just how important varies, but this has always been a special day in my household.” It was easier, then, talking in generalities than about his daughter specifically; maybe the commander understood that too.

    “Even the idea is a laughable one to my people,” Krolia made a huffing noise in the back of her throat – as if this was a very old, well rehearsed argument playing over from long ago. “Why commemorate something that you have no control over? There’s no triumph in a birth, not like the satisfaction there is to be found in celebrating the achievements you manage from there. Yours is a tradition I do not understand.”

    “That’s one way to look at it, sure,” Sam gave with a shrug. “But then, that’s just one of the differences between our kinds.”

    “One of many,” Krolia gave wryly. “Sometimes, you Humans make but little sense.”

    "Well, we're going to have to agree to disagree." Grudgingly, Sam couldn’t help but smile for the teasing in her words. It was a motion almost forgotten by time, and the muscles underneath his skin stretched tightly from disuse. “Do you have children of your own?” he asked in a moment of boldness. Honest to goodness, he still couldn’t tell age between the Galra – and sometimes even gender managed to be a tricky thing, but, Krolia, he thought -

    - just as quickly he winced, immediately regretting that his knack for curiosity had cut in over propriety – a dangerous habit that he'd since thought to break. It was too dangerous otherwise. “I’m sorry,” he faltered, scrambling to fix his error. “That was rude of me to presume familiarity and I shouldn’t have - ”

    “ - yes,” but Krolia surprised him to interrupt, gently but firmly. “I have one son . . . and a daughter too.” No matter her affirmative, her words were hushed - hesitant even, as if she wasn’t quite sure what she said was true. Sam found his questions gathering by the dozens.

    “Me too - I have a son and a daughter too, I mean,” even so, he couldn’t help the flush of affection in his voice as he echoed her words. “It’s the best combination.” A heartbeat passed. “Are they here?” he asked, wondering then if there was some connection he had missed. "Have I - "

    “ - no,” Krolia’s reply was short, and final. He could feel her hand tighten over the back of his chair, even as her expression closed off to him. For just a moment, a wild moment without any context he could rationally understand, Sam was reminded of that scrappy sprout of a boy Shiro had taken a liking to as a junior professor back at the Garrison. Keith something or another was his name – a kid who somehow always managed to look like a fledgling crow who’d gotten his wings wet and was sullen that he couldn’t fly.

    (But the likeness was fleeting, and gone so quickly that Sam didn’t give the parallel much more thought beyond that. He had no reason to.)

    “How old are your kids?” Sam asked, in spite of himself. He was turning stupidly bold in the commander's presence.

    “My son would be over nineteen of your Earth years, now,” after a heartbeat, Krolia gave. An odd way to phrase her answer – and yet another observation that Sam carefully filed away for later. “My daughter is only just younger.” But for that her mouth thinned, and she straightened away from him. Her eyes had narrowed, and something about her expression then held a determination that Sam couldn’t quite understand. He had no constants to compare his observations too. “Serve the warlord well,” he got the sense that their . . . whatever sort of moment that had just been, had passed, “and you will see your children again, that I promise you, Samuel Holt.”

    Sam felt a pang, wishing that he could believe her. And yet, even if what she said was completely true . . . “Do you ever think about what we’re creating here?” he held onto his courage while he still had it. “It’s a dangerous thing, the laws of nature we’re tampering with – and not just for my children, but for every child in the universe. This . . . this abomination - ”

    “ - serve well,” Krolia only repeated firmly – in a way that suggested she was trying to tell him something without saying anything at all, “and all will be taken care of, in time.”

    Sam let loose an exhale, even as something sharp twisted deep inside of him. He wasn’t quite sure what he'd been looking for in their conversation, and he was even less sure if he’d found it. But, for a moment it had felt nice to pass a few words about something as normal and every day as children and their ages. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d really spoke to another sentient being just for the pleasure of doing so. It was . . . refreshing, in a way he was trying not to let himself mourn, and crave. Through that longing, mistakes could only be made.

    “And, congratulations on this day of your daughter’s birth,” was Krolia's last whisper in parting. Any longer, and they would have attracted the attention of her comrades. “May she grow to honor you with many years more.”

    As bravely as he dared, he turned to watch her go once she turned away from him, feeling as his heart swelled to fill his chest. For Katie and Matt and Colleen, he’d find a way out of here, Sam felt a renewed sense of purpose fill him. He wouldn’t miss one important occasion more; he wouldn't.

    Yet, until then, it felt nice – needed, even, to feel human for just that brief moment in time.



    ~MJ @};-
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2018
  24. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    SWEET!
    Of course, Pidge would miss her family on a day they celebrated with warm comfy sharing of affection and yummy food. Thinking of the vast distances and the uncertainty of whether they'd ever be together just makes it harder. @};-
    Then darling Hunk and Lance come and provide validation and empathy, because of course they know exactly what she's feeling (because they too have such moments). [face_thinking] Just what she needed! :)

    I cannot overlook Shiro's wonderful thoughtfulness and Allura's too in allowing the Paladins to "escape" the tedious banquet :p in order to boost her spirits.

    ****~~
    Fascinating and compelling exchange between Sam and Krolia. He shares a lot and receives strength and determination to go on through her words and attitude.
     
    Mira_Jade likes this.
  25. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha - Thank-you so much! I love writing team dynamics - especially team as family, and it was so heartwarming to write that ficlet! Krolia and Sam too were quite the change from canon, but I cannot wait to tell that story as it goes. I just need to get typing, instead of building all of these stories in my mind! ;) :p

    As always, I can't thank you enough for reading and taking the time to leave your thoughts. [:D]






    Author's Notes
    : So . . . just when I thought canon couldn't possibly get any worse, the absolute mess that was Season 8 happened. :mad: :eek: [face_plain] I'm not even going to rant about how gutted that finale left me, instead I'm just going to plug my ears and write a couple of post-canon ficlets in clear defiance of the powers-that-be. I have two snippets ready to go now, written for the current NSWFF prompts, and then a few more coming for the rest of the paladins - but I have some fic-gifts to post before I finish and polish those. [face_mischief] [face_love] The same as always, these fit in with my "A Universe to Wake from Sleep" series, and are most certainly not canon. Repeat: there are now very AU. Because, thanks but no thanks. [face_not_talking]

    [:D]






    VIII. "A Soft Epilogue"
    (Voltron: Legendary Defender)


    I think we deserve

    a soft epilogue, my love.

    We are good people

    and we’ve suffered enough.


    ~ Seventy Years of Sleep # 4, by Nikka Ursula​


    Monument

    Eventually, they chose to set the foundations for New Altea on planet Arus. They were gladly welcomed by the native Arusians to live in harmony together after centuries standing as guardians to the ‘castle of the lion goddess,’ and they found ready partners for their building endeavors in their new neighbors. The planet was temperate, and its blue skies and green grasses, its towering mountain ranges and glittering oceans much resembled Allura's memories of Altea. “It’s not terribly different from my home, either,” Shiro had echoed her sentiments. “Arus has always reminded me of Earth.”

    More like Earth than Altea, however, it rained on Arus. As startling as the advent of weather first was to Allura, Shiro loved the rain – he loved pulling her outside when the storms came and spinning her about, bright eyed and breathless to dance in silly patterns beneath the cascading droplets. She felt . . . youthful and light and alive in those moments, just the same as the thirsty ground soaked in the gifts from the heavens above to prosper with life anew. It was a change from what she’d known, true, but it was a difference she was quickly coming to love.

    They planted juniberry flowers from the seeds that were preserved by the original Altean exiles. Finally, after thousands of years being tended to in careful stasis, they were ready to bloom again. “We were never able to grow them where the priestess had us; but it turns out that nothing was real there,” Romelle muttered, the markings beneath her eyes pale with sorrow. The hard line of her brow only smoothed as they covered that first seed with the freshly churned earth. Allura had placed her hands over both the general’s own and let her palms flare with sacred energy, willing the seeds to take root and sprout. In that smallest of ways, she so dearly wished to honor her memories; the fields would all turn violet with the spring.

    Eventually, as a city reminiscent of old Altus grew, monuments of the fallen were proposed to celebrate their history. Allura had sat out of that vote, and instead left the final decision to her small council. When the motion was approved, she watched the casting of the pale opal statues with conflicting emotions. It was only right, she knew in a practical sense, to remember their heroes and memorialize their lost alike, and yet . . .

    . . . yet, she still missed them. So many of those they honored were not yet lost to history - not in her mind, not in her heart. Some days it was still all she could do to remind herself that she’d never feel her father’s hand on her shoulder again, that she’d never be able to turn to her mother for wisdom and guidance. In some ways she’d moved so quickly – perhaps too quickly – since her awakening for grief. She’d not yet truly acknowledged and mourned all that she had lost; she was not yet ready to move on, in so many ways.

    Allura was solemn throughout the unveiling ceremony, as was right and dignified by the crown on her brow. Yet, later, she left the festivities behind to carry on without her and instead turned to the city square where the monuments were set. Without bidding, Shiro followed her, wordlessly understanding everything she was grappling with deep inside, the same as he always did. She was glad for his strength and support as they bolstered and spurred her own; she didn’t know how she’d manage any of this without him by her side. Perhaps her shoulders wouldn’t break if she had to go on alone . . . but they would certainly be that much heavier, by far.

    There, alone in the now deserted square, she named each towering sentinel they passed: King Altus the Inceptor and Protus his brother, first in the line of Pollux; each founders of the Altean royal houses, in so many ways. Then, there were heroes from the past such as Dafon the Voyager and Adara who Soared and Idelle the Innocent, all cast in beautiful ceremonial garb with an amazing attention to detail and likeness to life. Most of the names Shiro knew; for others, she still had so many stories to tell. Perhaps, that was only right. As one of the last links left to the old ways, she would speak of all she knew to ensure that they were remembered, to honor her history and all that had been lost.

    Finally: Queen Anest the Peaceful, she looked up at her grandmother’s likeness and felt her heart swell with an emotion that was too big for words. Queen Anest had pioneered the original Coalition of Free Worlds while her father was still a prince. How many times had Alfor compared her to her grandmother with fondness in his voice? The instances were beyond counting. Allura wished she’d had more time in her youth to know the dowager queen better before she passed on to join the ancients. There were many times during the war - when she struggled to keep a calm tongue for the more frustrating diplomatic aspects of her role, and felt near to faltering for the overwhelmingly monumental shape of her crusade - when she thought she could feel her grandmother's spirit beside her. The universe had known peace once, Queen Anest had helped see to that, and Allura was determined that they'd know it again, no matter the cost.

    Then . . . King Alfor the Defender and Queen Fala the Preserver. There they were, cast taller than all who'd come before them to proudly overlook all that had been rebuilt. They stood arm in arm, locked together in memory just as they’d been devoted in life, and there they would hopefully stay even long after Allura herself passed on to join them in the Halls of the Life-givers. The artist had masterfully depicted the couple as they were before the war, before Alfor’s brow had creased with sorrow and Fala turned wan from standing up so strong to support her husband, all the while leading the Sacred Alteans in battle, such as they had not fought since the time of Eeron the Enchanter. They were true colossi, captured at the zenith of their achievements and happiness, just as Allura herself always wanted to remember them. She approached the sculpture, larger than life as it was, and knelt down at the base by her parents’ feet. Even if she wanted to remain standing just then, she did not know if she physically could.

    Slowly, she drew in deep breaths to steady herself, sucking in one lungful of air after the next. She didn’t want to shed tears, not on this happiest of days for her people. Yet it seemed that her body had ideas all its own; she could not quite keep them in; the battle was lost before she even realized it had begun.

    Offering his support in silence, Shiro simply stood by her side and put a hand on her shoulder until her grief became too much to bear alone. Then, he knelt down beside her and turned to pull her close. She let him hold her, feeling quite overwhelmed as her eyes stupidly, traitorously continued to burn. She had mourned enough for several lifetimes now, she thought with no small amounts of frustration; she was quite through with grief.

    “They would’ve been proud of you. I don’t have to say that, right?” Shiro whispered, his lips brushed the tip of her ear as he ran his hand of flesh and blood over the long spill of her hair. His new Altean arm was steady as it circled her waist; she didn't have to hold herself up just then, not when he was there to support her. She drew in a deep, shuddering breath, and pressed in closer, seeking his warmth.

    “There’s still so much I have left to do, to honor their sacrifice,” she said instead of answering him outright. She could do nothing else; she was the one who had survived, after all. Her likeness should have been carved right there beside them, but instead here she was, drawing in one stolen breath after another while her parents looked down in stone. She would never forget that.

    “There’s a whole universe still left to rebuild. Yeah, I know,” Shiro’s agreement was wry. “But you’re not going to put all of that on your shoulders alone – so don’t even try. Instead, just take this moment for yourself. Breathe.”

    His words were easier said than done; so much easier. No matter how she tried to find a semblance of peace within herself, Allura didn't know if she could. It helped, slightly, when Shiro tilted her chin up so that he could kiss her brow, and then the tip of her nose and the curve of her jaw. When his mouth brushed the sensitive skin of her markings high on her cheeks, she drew in a shaky breath as warmth flushed through her veins. She was alive then, she tried to affirm to herself; she was alive. She had made it this far, and she'd make it even farther still, fighting to rebuild all that had been lost with every breath she still had left. Only, the solid dependability of his presence assured her, she wouldn't have to fight her battles alone. She would never be alone again.

    So, she clung to him, and let him hold her, feeling small before the legacy of her parents underneath Arus’ moonlight. They stayed there for quite some time, at first in silence and then with her whispering – haltingly, oftentimes through tears and yet eventually with fondness and laughter as she shared her memories of her loved ones. Eventually, when they stood together again, the prospect of carrying on again come morning didn’t seem quite as daunting as it had before.



    Crucible

    The throne of the Galra was one he had simply assumed to inherit for many, many years. Since his earliest days, he’d been groomed for the honor of that burden, to such an extent that it was simply assumed in his mind. He was Lotor Zarkon Sef Zerxus, and the idea of failing in the Kral Zera after his father passed on had simply never occurred to him, nor was it even once spoken of aloud. He knew exactly who he was and what he was going to be: a strong and just leader of his people and uncontested emperor of the Galran territories. For so long, he’d defined himself by that knowledge, by the assured expectation of his path to come.

    Yet, that was then. Now . . .

    Now, he could admit that he hadn’t often let himself consider what would happen beyond thwarting his parents’ reign and setting the evils of Zarkon's rule to rights. If he was being completely honest with himself, he hadn’t quite expected to survive - not with the shape of the odds stacked against him. He’d resigned himself to his fate; he’d made peace with the near certainty of his death and counted it as a necessary price to pay if it meant they too fell with him. If that was the only way justice could be served and equilibrium returned to the universe, then so be it.

    This was the first time an emperor of the Galra hadn’t been chosen by right of conquest, in a deliberate subversion of ancient tradition – perhaps, because there was no longer the rank of emperor left to attain. Instead, the choice for the Consul of the Galran Remnant had first gone through the Council of the Universal Coalition of Free Worlds and was then put to a vote by the surviving people his reign would encompass. (Restoring the colony worlds to their individual sovereignties and sorting the peoples who could govern themselves from the assimilated masses who were Galra for too long to be anything else, all the while fighting Zarkon’s still loyal galactic governors and sector generals was promising to be a lasting headache.) Princess Allura had been the one to put forward his name and offer her support, which wasn’t terribly surprising, yet he’d been as shocked as anyone else when he was selected by the approval of the majority. Apparently, the combination of following in the footsteps of tradition through martially proven bloodlines and him taking a stand against his father and the witch had an appeal that he hadn’t first anticipated. Instead, he could admit to being no small bit overwhelmed by the prospect before him, in a way that he hadn’t allowed himself to consider when there was only the war and its waging. It was easier, after all, tearing down than it was building anew. And he'd become most adept at tearing down.

    This was the first time he’d entered Zarkon’s throne-room since his death. Even still, Lotor knew only loathing for the long shadows and dramatically vaulted ceilings, designed as they were to make both favored allies and condemned supplicants alike feel small and inconsequential before the might of their immortal emperor. Lotor himself had bowed in this room too many times to mention, keeping himself prostrate and compliant and nothing in his father’s eyes so as to escape his attention long enough to work his own designs through to completion. He hadn’t had to try overly hard in the end; he was nothing more than a nuisance, a rusted stain on the indomitable might of Zarkon’s empire, and he’d long resigned himself to the loss of his father’s favor. The entire world-ship reeked with a darkness that could never be cleansed, at that, with the evils of his father’s rule having seeped down and polluted every rivet and welded plate. Lotor would – gladly – never call this place home again; he’d soon see it melted down to slag and forgotten.

    Yet, until then.

    His footsteps echoed ominously in the disturbingly empty hall. Even well knowing that his father was dead, his blood still quickened with a deeply ingrained instinct for self-preservation. He felt wary and on edge through the force of long experience, and he clenched his hands into fists until his claws threatened to break skin. Just barely, he fought the urge to bow his head so as to hide the gnashing of his fangs. There was no foe here to fight, not anymore. Zarkon had fallen, Lotor reminded himself as a mantra, and Haggar too was returned to the same Rift that had spawned her from Honerva’s bones. He need not ever bow his head again, not before them.

    It was, then, with no small amount of defiance that he stepped closer to his father’s throne than he ever had before. He ran a careful hand over the back of the imposing monstrosity, revulsion spewing up from his every cell for this last, tangible reminder of his father’s reign. When he eventually sat on the throne in a moment of boldness, prompted by a mixture of black curiosity and a last, calculated act of rebellion, he looked out over the cold expanse of the room to the towering viewports, showcasing the star strewn might of the cosmos beyond. Sitting there, he couldn’t find any sense of power in the view, only emptiness. He wondered, briefly, what his father had seen from this vantage for so many centuries. Had it been enough, what he'd gained for what he'd lost?

    It was a small comfort when he looked down, to see his companion still standing there, watching him with something unreadable in her expression. Her eyes too were narrowed, with she having no better memories of this place than he did – in a way, her anger had been just as impotent as his own, kneeling by his side for so many years and watching him prostrate himself before a ruler who was undeserving of either of their fealty. Yet the pulse of her blood was purposely slow then – soothing, even, reaching out and offering comfort even as she stepped back and allowed him to take a moment to compose himself. He didn’t have to conquer his demons alone.

    She too was a gift he didn’t know how to properly express his gratitude for. As much as he'd assumed his own life as eventually forfeit by his designs, so too had he thought her high regard sacrificed on the altar of his ambition. He'd never thought it possible to earn her forgiveness, even before remotely considering anything more. But there Acxa stood, and with her presence the encroaching shadows felt the slightest bit less consuming.

    “I remember being a child, once, stealing my father’s crown and sitting here,” Lotor finally muttered into the yawning expanse of empty chamber. “Well, not this throne, granted – but, one like it.”

    Back then, in those early bygone days, he’d felt nothing but a boyish awe and love in his father’s presence – giggling as Zarkon found him and growled in mock affront for his son already trying to usurp his position. There’d been a breathless chase around the (much smaller, much brighter) throne-room back in Dahzur, before his child-self had laughingly conceded defeat when he was caught and his sides were tickled as penalty for his loss. But then Zarkon had sat him on his knee on that same throne and smiled to say, “All will be yours soon enough, my son – there’s no need to rush the years along. Someday, your reign will bring your father nothing but pride as it dwarfs my own; this, I already well know.”

    But that, he couldn’t quite bring himself to say aloud. In some ways, a very far off, very distant part of his being hoped that it was still true. His father . . . he’d been himself, at least, just before his death, and, in those last few moments . . .

    . . . well, Lotor supposed there was some closure, some healing to be found in that. In it's own way. Somewhat.

    But, the same as always with Acxa, he didn’t have to say that final part aloud. She understood.

    Ignoring the invisible line imposed by the foreboding cast of the royal dais, Acxa boldly ascended the stairs to him. It only took a slight bit of shuffling – his father’s seat was massive, after all – and then she joined him on the throne. Without a word, she wrapped her arms around him and he drew her in close with a sigh – tucking her head under his chin and burying his nose in her hair between the ridges of her horns as she rubbed nonsense circles on the bit of his skin she could reach above the collar of his armor. Her blood-beat was purposely slow and drowsy, and he closed his eyes to better match his own; just barely, he felt his sense of agitation ebb, even if it did not ease in whole.

    “You will honor the good he once gave you to follow during your reign,” Acxa whispered. “Then, eventually, we’ll atone for all the rest.”

    For that, he gave a rueful snort. “There are not days enough in my life that make it possible to do so,” gravely, he admitted. In some ways, the daunting tasks of his rule felt impossible to the extreme. He was not sure that he was equal to them; how could anyone be equal to them?

    Yet, to that too Acxa simply shrugged. “We’ll make a start, then, as best we can,” she, as always, anchored him with the simplicity of her vision. Sometimes, the truth was just that clear. “Just know that you won’t have to do this alone; we’re in this together.”

    “I know,” Lotor whispered against her hair. “I know,” he repeated, stronger then, and meant his words true.

    Together, they lingered for a long while, defiant before the shadows of the past.



    ~MJ @};-
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2018