Lance stood naked in the surf, hands propped on his hips and staring aghast at Shiro. "What do you mean," he said, "you don't know how to swim."
Shiro was still seated in the soft sand, far enough back from the waves lapping the beach. He shrugged, a(more) little amused at how offended Lance looked by this pronouncement. "Never learned," he said. "I can float I guess, but-"
"No, no, no, /no/," Lance stormed up the beach to him. He'd started out the day wearing swimming trunks as Shiro encouraged him to do, but given this stretch of the beach was technically private property and hard enough to get to that tourists didn't bother them there he'd left them, sodden, on the towel. "Did I bring my skin?"
"Always." Shiro nudged the coat, folded neatly and still impeccably dry, even under Lance's abandoned swim trunks. Lance flipped the coat open and over his shoulders, completely immune to how ridiculous he looked like that.
"Up," Lance said, holding his hand out to Shiro.
Shiro frowned at him, suspicious. "I don't need a swimming lesson, Lance."
"No husband of mine is going to be afraid of the water. Up."
"I'm not afraid of the water." Shiro shook his head but put his hand in Lance's and allowed the selkie to pull him to his feet. "Besides, if you have your coat what are you going to show me? You're just going to swim off and leave me alone."
"Is that what you think?" Lance said, eyebrow raised. They were already in the water up to their knees and he hadn't even slowed his stride, seemingly unaffected by the pull of the tide. "Thought you knew me better than that, Shiro."
"Hope I do," Shiro said, as a wave crashed over his head.(less)
"Congratulations, Atsushi~kun," Dazai nearly sang, slinging himself around the corner of the row of desks and draping himself dramatically in his chair. He propped both of his elbows on the desk, chin in his hands, and proceeded to sparkle at Atsushi, who was staring very intently at his laptop(more) and trying to pretend like a very large target hadn't been painted on him.
After several long, excruciating seconds had passed and Dazai hadn't lost interest (and was still, apparently, sparkling) Atsushi warily looked in his direction. "Uh...? Thank you...?" He didn't know what he was being congratulated for and frankly, was too afraid to ask.
"You," Dazai said, beaming, "won me passes to an onsen." He had the tickets in his hand already, tapping them to his face. "I wonder whom I should ask to take this fated trip with me, a lover's suicide at the hot springs is so romantic, don't you think?"
"How did I win you a trip to an onsen?" Atsushi asked, because the correct response of "I think you should have your head examined" didn't seem worth the effort.
"I bet Chuuya-kun..." Dazai said, and then tapped the tickets to his mouth, eyes wide and fake-innocent. "Oh! I know," he breezed right past the rest of the question. "You should come with me, Atsushi-kun! Have you ever even been?"
There was a fifty/fifty chance here that this was some sort of glaringly obvious trap but if it was Atsushi couldn't see it. "No," he said slowly. "I've never been. We have work anyway, Dazai-san, I don't think-"
"It's settled then!" Steamrolled right over, Dazai pushed himself up on his hands, peering over Kunikida's open laptop lid; he had been quite intentionally ignoring Dazai's theatrical machinations playing out before him. "Kunikida, Atsushi-kun has a vacation request."(less)
"What was that?" Gotou said, as Masayoshi shifted on his lap again. He'd been distracted and Masayoshi pouted at him, arms hooked over Gotou's shoulders as he settled in close.
"What was what?" Masayoshi shifted a little and sank the rest of the way, shuddering as their bodies(more) connected. He was distracted too, it was only fair; but his distraction was Gotou's girth splitting him open and not ... whatever Gotou was concentrating on. "Gotou-san," Masayoshi huffed, grabbing Gotou by the back of the head, fingers tangled in his short hair.
That brought Gotou back to the present, staring into Masayoshi's face a hand's span in front of his own. "What?" Gotou said, and Masayoshi groaned, knocking his forehead against Gotou's gently. "There it /is/ again," Gotou said, as Masayoshi bounced on his lap.
"Are you going to pay attention to me?" Masayoshi whined, and Gotou slid his hands down Masayoshi's sides, wrapping his arms around Masayoshi.
"Yes, yes," Gotou kissed him. "I'm sorry. I'm just paranoid, I think the bed is making noises again."
Masayoshi chewed on his lip thoughtfully. "Maybe we should get a bigger bed," he said. "We abuse this one a lot."
"Don't think we'll fit a bigger bed in here," Gotou said, leaning back as Masayoshi rocked on his lap with more enthusiasm. "Mm, Masayoshi..." He was distracted again, but now by sensation as Masayoshi rode him.
Masayoshi bit his bottom lip, face flushed down to his chest. "Let's break another bed, Gotou-san."
"Let's not," Gotou said, rolling them. Masayoshi let out a delighted laugh as Gotou pinned him to the bed with his weight, pressing himself back between Masayoshi's spread legs. Masayoshi's laughter gave way to a moan as Gotou set a new pace.
Neither of them seemed to notice the bedframe stopped complaining.(less)
The scariest moment of Crowley's life happens hours before the end of the world is set to occur.
It happens in Aziraphale's bookshop, with no angel in sight, and his entire cluttered collection of novels and poems burning and turning into ash.
Crowley falls to the floor an(more)d he shouts to nobody, and for everybody to hear, "Somebody killed my best friend!"
But the only person he wants to have listen to him is dead somehow. Crowley feels the ache in his bones and his heart and his soul-or where his soul used to lay.
He leaves the bookstore with the only book he's ever heard Aziraphale wish for and he goes to a bar to try and forget that now it's just him trying to stop the end of the world. Him! A demon who only cared about one angel and all the things that made them happy.
Crowley thinks about Alpha Centauri, and about the Antichrist, and he thinks long and hard about Aziraphale and how much light and love seem to surround him. He knows he looks like a crazed, heartbroken maniac, and he can't be bothered to argue that because he IS. He was crazy for Aziraphale, and now he is heartbroken for Aziraphale.
He wants HIS angel back, the angel that hides him from the rain and that gets distracted by any mention of food. The angel that he's grown to love, but lost all the same anyways.
Nobody looks in his direction, not even when he wraps his arms around himself (because Aziraphale isn't there to hug him anymore), and nobody says anything when he sobs out Aziraphale's name over and over again.
He's so drunk he's forgotten about everything-the missing Antichrist, the end of the world, Hastur, Beelzebub, everything.
Masayoshi wiggled impatiently in the bed. The upside to cramming two fully-grown men into one twin-sized bed was that there was no way for Gotou to pretend he wasn't clingy in his sleep - but that was also the downside, as Gotou had Masayoshi in an iron grip, one(more) arm tucked over his chest and face nestled against Masayoshi's nape.
It was /wonderful/, except for the fact that he really, /really/ had to pee.
There was the hint of gray light underneath the curtains heralding dawn, but Masayoshi couldn't see the clock, his back to the rest of the room. Soon, hopefully soon, Gotou's alarm would go off and he would be free to fling himself out of bed and make a mad dash to the bathroom.
And then, sweet relief.
Except who knew how long it would be until he could /experience/ said relief.
Masayoshi wiggled again, trying to formulate a plan of escape that didn't involve waiting an unknown amount of time for the alarm to free him. Gotou's arm over his side locked, pulling Masayoshi back and closer against Gotou, slotting their bodies completely together.
That would be amazing and Masayoshi would be over the moon except his bladder took priority even over the fact that he could feel Gotou's morning wood through his loose sweatpants and holy /shit/ he could feel Gotou's morning wood.
Masayoshi's brain stopped working. This wasn't the first time this had happened but it was still - he could /feel/ it, warm through the thin cotton, hard and pressed flush against the small of his back and oh god what did he do with this information. What was he gonna DO with this -
Gotou's phone alarm went off and Masayoshi leaped from the bed and slammed the bathroom door behind him.(less)
"What have you got there?" Shiro said. He'd looked up when the door had banged open and Lance trundled through, naked save his coat and carrying a large, damp bag by its bottom. "And why are you dripping? Don't put that down on the carpet."
(more) "Treasure," Lance said, disappearing through to the bedroom.
Shiro gave that about four beats - enough time to finish his coffee - and got up. "What?" he said, and he heard something heavy and metallic hit the tub. "Wait, /what/?"
There wasn't really enough room in the bathroom for two people, so Shiro hovered in the door as Lance sat on the closed toilet seat and huffed out a noise of exhaustion. "Heavier than it looks on land," he said, and put both of his hands on his lower back, cracking something loudly.
"Are you serious? Treasure?" Shiro said. "You're kidding, right?"
Lance gestured at the bathtub. "It's only a small bit, but this really beats working for a few weeks."
"A few WEEKS?" Shiro opened the sack. "Is this pirate GOLD?"
Lance shrugged. "I'unno. Gold's worthless to selkies so we leave it where it lies on the seabed. Not so worthless to land walkers, though," he added, scratching a hand through his hair. "Don't know why I didn't think of this sooner."
"I have no idea what to do with this," Shiro said, sitting on the edge of the tub. Their knees knocked together, there really was no room. "It's not like you can take a gold coin and spend at the grocery store, Lance."
"Well call Keith, then." Lance said. "I bet his fancy ass organization has someone who can change gold to currency."
"Even if he does," Shiro let out a pained sigh. "It wouldn't feel right. This belongs in a museum."
"You know," Lance said, sitting down next to James in the sand. "If you really feel that left out, you can always ask Shiro to bite you or something."
James, who had been watching Shiro and Keith race in the surf, blinked once and repeated Lance, confused. "...bite(more) me?"
"Yeah." Lance was wearing swim trunks, but he'd brought his sealskin, the jacket folded neatly on the cooler behind him. "Make with the bitey-bite." He mimed the action with his hand.
"Why... would I want Shiro to bite me?" He really wasn't seeing the thread here, and Lance was confusing enough on a good day. Lance sighed loudly and folded his arms.
"So you can be a /werewolf/," he enunciated, and James froze, staring at him wide-eyed. "Oh, come on," Lance said. "You knew he could do that, right? He wasn't born like that."
"But, Keith-" he'd seen baby pictures. Well, puppy pictures that had been enthusiastically thrust into his face by Krolia the last time they'd stopped by the main base.
"KEITH was. Shiro wasn't. Shiro's ... special." Lance cocked his head to the side and watched his husband, the large white wolf, roll onto his back in the sand and come up golden. "Bet if you let him bite you you'd bypass all that psycho moon-sickness shit and come right out through the other side."
"Okay, first of all," James held up a finger. "I don't wanna be a werewolf." Lance looked unimpressed. "Secondly, even if I did, if Shiro bit me - way to whore out your husband by the way - if he did, I would be bound to the moon and still pretty damn useless most of the time anyway."
"You're not useless," Lance said assertively, nodding his head.
I was 15. I was young. My first crush was Captain Nemo in "20,00 Leagues Under the Sea." Plus, I wanted to own something. I bought an aquarium. It ended horribly.
At 15, I thought I was elderly. I was smothering in life. I was too stupid to(more) realize I was only blowing bubbles. There were too many possibilities, so many choices. They had the magical poison of only seeming apparent after the fact; octopi vanishing in ink. Though breathless, I was never really drowning. So before I talk about the fish, I will say this: past potential never really existed for us. Playing "what if" is an adult past-time. We waste more time at games than children ever do. With adult delusions, you are mourning something that was never even real.
Anyone with money can buy animals. After a trip to the sawdust-smelling pet store I ended up with three fat goldfish that churned and gulped in their tapwater tank, aerator bubbling, plastic weeds, a treasure chest that opened and closed meaninglessly but appropriately. When I turned off all the other lights my bedroom was blue with aquarium light. I was Captain Nemo in my submarine.
The filter was my first experience with expectation VS reality. It grew thick with silty grunge. The fish needed feeding and cleaning. Algae obscured the glass. I realized I was terrified of them. The small heft of them in the net as I transferred them between cleanings filled me with horror. They smelled bad. They never stopped moving, mouths moved constantly. What were they?
I found two floating a day apart in self-generated mucus shrouds. Horrified, I flushed the last as it gulped for breath in its thick water.
I knew something had gone terribly wrong, and I knew that something was me. (less)
"There are SEVEN HUNDRED PEOPLE on this LIST, MASAYOSHI."
Masayoshi held the phone away from his ear. He didn't even have the speakerphone on and that got the attention of at least a half dozen staff. "Don't yell," he said, cross, when he tentatively returned the phone to(more) his ear.
"I'm not yelling," Gotou said, although his voice returned to a normal volume.
"Pretty sure everyone here knows how many people are on the invite list now," Masayoshi said, and Gotou groaned. He could imagine the way Gotou hung his head, one elbow on the table and the phone pressed to his ear. "I take it the guest list arrived."
"Ishihara-san said she'd finished compiling it," he said, moving to get some privacy. "We're supposed to go over it together later."
"Seven. Hundred. People. I don't know that many people. I know YOU don't know that many people."
"Family," Masayoshi said, starting a count on his fingers. "The Flamengers. All the heroes. Government officials. Diplomats-"
"No. Nuh-uh." Gotou said. "That's too much. I'm not doing it." Masayoshi's heart jumped into his throat, but Gotou kept going. "We'll elope. Let's just go to Hawaii and get hitched and forget this entire clusterfuck and sit on a beach for two weeks."
Masayoshi pressed his lips into a flat line, attempting to disguise the amusement in his voice. "Gotou-san, are you shy?"
"Masayoshi," Gotou said, "I'll be honest here. I love you. I'm not going to marry you in front of a media circus. I just can't."
"We'll pare it down."
"A beach," Gotou said. "We sign a piece of paperwork and fuck off. Come on I know it sounds tempting."
"I have to go," Masayoshi said. "We'll talk later, okay?" He paused and smiled. "I love you, Gotou-san."
"I think it's time for a bigger place," Lance said, brushing his teeth at the kitchen sink. Shiro was blearily shuffling around behind him, searching fruitlessly for the coffee pot.
"My cabin's the perfect size for us," Shiro argued, squeezing around behind Lance again and opening the fridge.(more) Lance spat in the sink and raised an eyebrow at Shiro, before turning and pointing toward the table shoved up against the wall behind them.
Shiro rescued the coffee pot from the table, and glumly swished the dregs around in it. "Who didn't make coffee?"
"I made coffee," Lance said. "Our house guests demolished it before you were out of the shower." He kissed Shiro's check in passing, carrying his toothbrush with him. Shiro sighed and put more coffee on to brew. He heard James yelp when Lance opened the door to the bathroom to put his toothbrush away before opening the front door and stepping outside, onto the shallow porch.
"Coffee thief," he said, accusatory, as he sat beside Keith.
"Early bird gets the caffeine," Keith said, mug in one hand and phone in the other. He swiped something off his screen before looking over to Shiro, who had let out a soft noise when he sat. "You okay?"
"Fine," Shiro cracked his neck. "Slept bad though, Lance was kicking so much I think he made the team."
Keith made an amused noise into his coffee. "Seals excited to have legs, who would have thought."
Shiro sighed. "Lance wants a bigger place."
"If we're imposing-" Keith lowered his mug, and Shiro held up his hand.
"Not at all," he said firmly. "But Lance is right, this place is too small. I just don't know what to do about it, I love it here." Shiro leaned back on his arm and sighed.(less)
"It still feels weird," Shiro said, touching the back of his head as he squinted into the mirror. Keith had dutifully trimmed his hair again, evening it out further, while Lance watched from the couch in the living room. "I liked it long."
(more) "You can always grow it out again," Lance said, eyes bright. "I like pulling it."
James stopped washing the dishes for a moment as he scowled at Lance, and Lance beamed at him. "I don't need to know every kink in your sex life," James muttered as he resumed cleaning up.
Keith brushed some loose trimmings from Shiro's neck with his hand. "If you grow it out you'll look like a biker," he said, amused.
"If you grow a beard and grow it out you'll look like a biker Santa," James added, and Shiro scowled.
"Maybe I'll just dye it."
"Nooooo," Lance disappeared from his perch, sliding out of sight. "Don't dye it," his disembodied voice continued, "you look so hot!"
"I look like I'm thirty years older than I am," Shiro grumbled, touching his short, white hair again.
"Oh, bullshit," James said. "You rock the silver fox look and you know it."
There was a pause, and Lance popped back up, elbows again on the back of the couch. Keith cocked an eyebrow at James, who shrugged with one shoulder. "He does," he said pointedly, "and it's a good look on you, Shiro."
"You think?" Shiro was studying the mirror again.
"He's not a fox," Lance protested. "Shiro's a wolf!"
"It's an expression, Lance."
"I know what it is, but he's my silver wolf." Lance put his chin in his hands and grinned at Shiro. "Still want you to grow your hair out again, though."
"Hmm," Shiro said, and put the mirror down. "I'll consider it."(less)
Gotou rinsed his plate and listened as the television droned on in the main room. Masayoshi insisted on helping clean up but Gotou forestalled his assistance by clearing the dishes expertly and ordering him to stay put and enjoy his show. It hadn't helped, Masayoshi had followed him to(more) the threshold but after lingering in the doorway practicing his kicked puppy impression, finally returned to his seat.
Masayoshi felt weird, and complained of it during dinner, itchy and restless and too-warm despite the air conditioning. He didn't seem to know why he felt that way and Gotou stared down at the dishes in the sink but didn't see them, scrubbing mindlessly.
Masayoshi was going into a rut, and it was twisting Gotou up inside.
It shouldn't. Gotou exhaled, kept his grip tight on the dish and tried to focus on what he was doing. He was regular. He was on suppressants. Masayoshi had never once asked, nor had they had any discussion about these things because why would they? They were just friends. It wasn't weird for an omega to be friends with an alpha.
It wasn't weird for them never to have discussed it.
"Gotou-san?" Masayoshi at the door again, face flushed and expression concerned. Gotou glanced at him and back to the dishes, but kept an eye on the door. "I don't feel so good, I don't know if I'll make it home tonight. Do you care if I stay over?"
Every word felt dangerous, but... this was Masayoshi. He /trusted/ Masayoshi.
"Yeah, it's fine," he said, setting the last of the cutlery in the drying rack. "You know where the futon is."
The look Masayoshi gave him he didn't know how to take, but his tone was grateful. "Thanks, Gotou-san!"
Shiro shuffled in the coffee line and wondered, once again, how he got volunteered for this. Well he knew it was because he was the only one awake enough to stand in line, as Lance was asleep in the passenger seat, bare feet up on the console and half-reclined.(more)
He gave a little fond half-smile at the thought of Lance's sleeping, drooling face, and his gaze dropped from the menu board to the line in front of his, ears pricking as he heard a barista call a familiar name over the hubbub of the establishment. "Lance!"
Not entirely uncommon name, but unusual enough that Shiro looked to see who stepped forward to pick up the beverage, and his heart skipped a beat.
It /was/ Lance.
That didn't make a single bit of sense. "Lance," Shiro called, stepping out of the line as Lance headed for the door, coffee in hand. He stopped when he heard Shiro's voice, turning to acknowledge him. "You were asleep, sorry-"
The coffee hit the floor, lid coming off and spilling everywhere. Shiro pulled up short, and when his eyes darted up to Lance's face he was white as a sheet. "Lance?"
Lance's hand covered his mouth, eyes wide. "It's not time yet," he said faintly, as if he didn't expect Shiro to hear him speak. Shiro opened his mouth to say something but Lance turned and /bolted/ out the door.
Shiro bounded over the spilled coffee and out the door after him but drew up immediately when he spotted Lance's bare feet still on the dash and visible in the windshield. He spun on the sidewalk but there was a healthy pedestrian presence from the restaurants around them and if there had been another Lance, he was long gone by now.