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[personal profile] cog_nomen
So here's all the crap that I'm probably never going to finish but have sitting around on my hard drive. This is an official clear-out of my backlog aside from things that I'm working on for people, or for a challenge. Bear in mind that these works are UNFINISHED, but may still have some merits. (I guess?)

Title: Conflict Archaeology
Fandom: Final Fantasy 7 (Before Crisis)
Pairing: None
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 1,200
Status: Abandoned
Summary: “Stop.” She said, jabbing him harshly as she pulled the thread through and he clenched his teeth on the edge of his glass of whiskey. “Or go.”

The second time he’d come home with blood on him – his own; he was too careful to ever come home with anyone else’s blood in his clothes – but he was injured. It was the last real fight they had, raised voices eventually passed beyond usefulness, and into profound silence. She could not ignore what he was any longer – not while stitching his back with the sewing kit she’d used to mend his suits – the blacks that he had been so hard on in his first years with the company.

“Stop.” She said, jabbing him harshly as she pulled the thread through and he clenched his teeth on the edge of his glass of whiskey. “Or go.”

“I can’t stop. I won’t go.” Both statements came in the same tone, on the same breath. He spoke without looking back, into his glass to mute the sound, directing his voice back at himself with the angle of it.

“I won’t have you.” She tugged the thread, tied a knot. He could feel the press of her rounded belly against his back, gently moving over the curve of his spine. He lowered the glass, cupping the bottom with his free hand.

There was no real answer to that statement. He let it sit, let her think about it. There was no one for her to have instead, he implied, no one he was not now dangerous enough to remove, should he want to. He firmed his shoulders, letting his posture speak for him.

She tied the last knot, then stood. Her features were as stubborn and unrevealing as his own. She moved out of the room silently, left him with his drink and tripped the lock on the bedroom door. He hunched over the whiskey, respecting the lock she’d set between them, though it was nothing to him but the barest press of a lockpick.

“A house, you said.” He points it out slowly, and they both know he wasn’t only in it for the money, had never been. “Enough money so we won’t have to worry about raising our child.”

He didn’t mention that he hadn’t changed from what he had been, just internalized it.

“Don’t you dare put this on me.” She hissed, hands clenching into bloodless fists. He could see how white her bones were in her knuckles, and his mind made his body ready for blows he knew would never fall.

Mary raised her voice next, “I didn’t ask you to do this!”

There were no tears in her, no sign of guilt. She should have known she never would have had to ask him to do anything – there was only one possible answer, which eliminated the question from the equation.

Tseng shifted his eyes to focus out of his dominant. In profile, when he was sighting, his eyes shifted toward his left to open his perephrial vision on that side while he lined up his shots. It was a talent that he could look concerned sidelong while shooting his score markers. Veld smoked, watched Tseng pretend not to be watching him. The kid’s score was going down in small increments every time he split his concentration too much. At thirty rounds, his grouping had strayed into the seven and eight rings.

Veld refused to hand over his next clip, letting Tseng’s hand close over it but not releasing his hold. He used silence, a hard glare and no words to convince the kid to say what he had on his mind.

“Apologize to her, sir.” He let go of the clip, reaching back to reassert his ponytail with both hands. “That’s all she wants.”

Tseng’s expression went from concern to a momentary intent confusion as he watched all hint of emotion die on Veld’s features. They went bland, not angry. Humans didn’t react like that, but he was a Turk. Veld took the time to finish the puff he’d taken off his cigarette before answering, such as he would.

“Hit your fucking target, kid.”

Of course the Turks knew. He’d picked the sort of people who could see the patterns of life and know when it was off. Tseng displayed further talent in getting to the root of what it was throwing someone off. His sloppy shot groupings could be forgiven.

The kid also knew when to shut up. He stuffed a new target in the metal catch and cranked it downrange with the handwheel.

He was away in Wutai when he got the call.

She was never pleased when he said he wouldn’t be home when he’d planned, which meant this conversation – as all others of its like – could only end badly.

“Our daughter’s birthday,” it started, Mary was always direct with him now, mindful that he kept his time carefully on the clock.

“I can’t-“ He started, she cut him off.

“When can you? She’s asking for you.”

“There’s a war. It’s hard to set a date.”

“What do I tell her? Will you ever come back?”

“You sent me away.” The words were soft, emotionless. They severed everything that might have continued between them. He hesitated in the silence after, PHS balanced against his ear. Even over the distance he could picture the icy expression coming over Mary’s features. There was a time he would have felt remorse for doing it to her, but now – nothing.

“Your daughter,” And here, her tone instead of denying ownership of the child in question, served to remind him that she was still attached to him. That whatever the quarrels of the parents, though those were now only ghosts of old quarrels – pale and dead in the light, Felicia’s love was still, god knew how, strong for him.

He answered that with silence too, that old crumbling burm he had set up long ago. It was the sum of their relationship now, an old give-and-take dance that they had both memorized the steps to. She pretended to try, he pretended that he still had to refuse – that there was anything left that he could possibly be refusing.

She never stopped taking the money, though. She took it and, god help her she raised their daughter without ever saying one negative thing about him to the child. It was one of those small mysteries in his life that he never brought himself to ask Mary about. Her answer probably wouldn’t have reassured him.

In that, he found the reason to keep wearing the ring and pretending everything was all right to his co-workers. Vincent knew better, but was smart enough to keep his remarks to himself - in public. Veld had heard him talk about relationships before – Valentine couldn’t understand why Veld had gotten married so young. He believed in keeping an open field, like his father had before him. Veld also knew that those were the sort to make the biggest fools of themselves when they finally found something real. He kept silent on the matter, secure from the company women by one gold shackle.


Title: Philosophy on God
Fandom: Ghost in the Shell
Pairing: Batou/The Major
Rating: R
Word Count: 611
Status: Abandoned
Summary: When these things become an exact science, when do memories become strong enough to make reality?

If memories are all that remain of someone, and the digitized mind is advanced enough to call up every minute detail of a person`s face, voice, and presence - indeed, a digital memory is not nearly so faulty as analog, in reality a recording rather than the faulty storage of electrons. These can be called up and played back in perfect detail, even studied upon, unlike memories of old which were unreliable and faded with age. When these things become an exact science, when do memories become strong enough to make reality?
Batou. It was the major`s voice - at least, the way he remembered it.
Major? No, just his memory. He thought - not that one could be sure. She was out there, everywhere in technicality. That sort of thought was maddening - like she was right there but he couldn`t reach her, or see her, or talk to her. His fingers stilled, awkward long silence stretching. Somewhere he heard the click of Gabriel`s claws on the kitchen floor, her lazy swaying steps pausing and the slow sloshing of water in her bowl. No interruptions from that direction.
The only answer was a smug certainty, little pinpricks in his consciousness telling him where she was moving around to access all of his functions.
You hacked into my brain? It was hardly the first time - but he`d expected a little warning. Not that the major had ever asked for consent, but he thought that maybe she`d have read a few files on tact or diplomacy while surfing the endless information the net had to offer. Maybe learned a little about privacy. Not like that was the sort of luck he had.
You sound surprised. The tone was definitely hers, mirror perfect of the same she had used on him so many times. Part of his memory, then, of the reconstruction he was trying. His imagination - such as it was, he`d never found himself to be terribly creative as such things went - was running away with him. Or I just keep tabs on you all the time.
Soft flickers of her presence moved in and out of what he was able to sense. He felt her looking through his eyes - looking down at himself, and he was suddenly embarrassed. Just as he made to move his hand away, she seized control of his motor functions with a sharp curiosity. His mind stuttered, caught on the program that kept his personality the same from day-to-day, it didn`t really seem to have any idea how to deal with something like this. She took advantage of the fact he had nothing to say and didn`t stop, wending her virtual way through the control centers, learning exactly how it was that Batou worked. The sensation was not entirely unlike being made to stand at the head of one`s class and talk about oneself, assigned to reveal aspects of thought that were previously kept dearly private. He struggled to beat her to his recent memory, trying to push the conjured images of her out of his mind. He didn`t make it.
Here, imagine it like this. The major`s voice turned from amused to a purring slide over the course of the sentence, as if she decided, to herself, that this was more than amusing and instead something she`d like to explore.
You know, usually, a guy has a little control. Even his thoughts were breathless, slow in coming around sensation. He wasn`t objecting, really, it was just somewhat awkward.

Title: Governesses named Mary
Fandom: Sherlock Holmes/Mary Poppins crossover
Pairing: None
Rating: G
Word Count: 248
Status: Abandoned
Summary: Watson has some past experience with Governesses named Mary, and therefore his help in this matter will be quite invaluable.

In all my experiences as devoted sidekick to the world's only private consulting detective, I have made it a point to avoid publishing those failures which seemed to weigh most heavily on the heart of Sherlock Holmes. In fact, of the very few of these failures detailed in my notebook, I can remark on only one occasion - to my witness at least - wherein Holmes deliberately failed to solve a case that presented some 'singular features' as was his requirement for embarking on any investigation.

My notebook tells me that it was late in the summer of 1910 when Holmes and I were visiting at his farm in Sussex. The heat was not quite so oppressive as I found it in London, and the pleasant, hypnotic drone of the bees hard at work outside had caused me to quite forget my premise of visiting, which was to go over old case notes on some long-resolved matter I had been determined to publish.

"Watson has some past experience with Governesses named Mary, and therefore his help in this matter will be quite invaluable." Holmes looked amusedly in my direction, as if begging my patience in the matter.

"Really, Holmes." I had begun to protest the gentle barb at my marriage, but he continued, his voice raising to conquer mine as our excitable clients looked back and forth between us, trying to track a conversation that was tricky with the ease of old friendship.

Title: KL
Fandom: Kane & Lynch
Pairing: None
Rating: R for language
Word Count: 385
Status: Abandoned
Summary: I just told them that my buddy and I liked to get drunk when we were out deer hunting and shoot up the empty beer cans afterwards. Guy behind the counter said he liked to do the same thing, what a fucked up world.

Money was tight after we bought guns and ammo. Lynch went through ammo like he breathed the damn stuff, so we needed a lot. We got funny looks at Wal-Mart when I told them how many 12 gauge buckshot cartridges we needed. I just told them that my buddy and I liked to get drunk when we were out deer hunting and shoot up the empty beer cans afterwards. Guy behind the counter said he liked to do the same thing, what a fucked up world.

Two guys sharing a dingy beat up hotel room wherever the fuck we could get one where no one would ask us what was in the duffel bag? Yeah, we ate a lot of fucking Chinese take-out.

I mean, I wouldn’t trust Lynch to cook spagetti-ohs or pretty much anything at all anyway, and I sure as shit wasn’t going to clean the microwave after whatever exploded all over the insides of it.

We both got pretty sick of McDonalds after a week or two. Neither of us needed the extra pounds anyway – to bachelors, Chinese is healthy, shut up.

“Listen,” He said one day over Chinese food, like he was going to clear up all the questions between us ever. “I didn’t kill her, okay?”

“Fuck! You don’t even know.”

Lynch waved his chopsticks dismissively. “I don’t fucking remember doing it, okay? I mean, yeah. I was out of it. But I usually have a pretty good idea afterward that something terrible happened, okay? And it wasn’t like that.”

“Whatever. Fine.”

The weirdest shit would start to stress him out. The thermostat didn’t work – he’d start to look all vacant and spacey, like he was trying to hear some really quiet noise. I guess he was listening to the voices or whatever, if you believe it works like those tee-shirts or some shit. After a while I just learned what the look meant and locked up the damn guns.

He never tried anything on me, but you wouldn’t have trusted him with the opportunity either. Lynch’s damn blackouts are freaky – he’s almost exactly the damn same, hard to understand why he does what he does sometimes – but he just gets extra trigger-happy.


Title: October 13th
Fandom: Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
Pairing: Harry/Perry
Rating: G
Word Count: 955
Status: Abandoned
Summary: For a prompt somewhere sometime, probably years ago: Harry/Perry: Trapped together - high stress situation, emotions get the better of them. - "And they call me Gay Perry!"

“Oh wait. Hey, Perry.” It was like a little lightbulb had clicked on in my brain. “Hey, Perry! Hey, I get it now.”

“Get… it?”

“Gay Perry, right? Gaaaayyy Paris – I mean Gay Pareé.”

Perry just looked at me like I was an idiot. Then he slapped me on the backside of the head, open palm style.

“What the hell is wrong with you, Harry?”

“Well, I mean, I didn’t get it before.” It was a lame excuse – but I’d always been terrible at jokes. I mean, I knew they called him Gay Perry because he was gay and his name was Perry, but okay, when I really thought about it I made the connection to the old saying about that city in France. He didn’t really seem like he appreciated my reiteration of the joke, so I just shut the hell up.

He was still glaring at the back of my head. The broom closet smelled a little like pine-sol, but not like ‘oh gee mom just mopped the floor’ but more like ‘oh hell, there’s an open, concentrated bottle of pine-sol somewhere, my nostrils are being pine-inated’. I’m running on – am I running on? I think that was a run-on sentence. Anyway, it was starting to feel a little stuffy in there, and we’d barely been in fifteen minutes. I moved the mops and buckets as far back as I could, and when I turned around, Perry was setting up some kind of tripod with a camera on it.

Magically, a pinhole had formed in the closet door – like at the girls’ shower or something. I tried to imagine Perry with some kind of hand-drill, a snidely-whiplash-esque expression on his face, but I failed. The ‘sexy soulpatch’ look didn’t tend to go so well with handlebar mustaches. Anyway, the hole was there, and the camera was set up.

And that’s when things got tricky. See, we were only in there to set up the camera into the hotel room – you know, tape some husband screwing around. That sort of thing. Only we were going to clear out of there and leave it on remote to record – that was the plan, right? Damned if the instant we got it set up that the janitor didn’t start rattling the broom closet door.

So I did the same thing that anyone would have – I mean, anyone who was stuck in a closet with a gay guy and not in the proverbial way, I mean you know mops and buckets and a ‘staff only’ sign on the door – I grabbed a board and wedged it up hard under the doorknob. Really fast, it was incredible, you should have seen it. Unfortunately, I guess the doorknob was really old or something – so the joke was on me. It busted off like the door handle of a rusted out ’72 Luv in a torrential downpour. … Okay trust me on that one, it happens every goddamn time.

Well, the rattling stopped, and the doorknob fell onto the floor, and probably on the other side there was this janitor standing there looking extremely confused and holding up his half of the doorknob and staring at it like it was some kind of disembodied finger. Yeah, that’s a long story, I’ll tell you about it later.

“What did you do?” Perry’s voice was just behind my ear and I jumped up hard enough so that my shoulder hit his chin and his teeth clacked together. When I turned around, he had one hand on his jaw and he looked about ready to shoot flaming needles from his eyes. You hang around Perry long enough, you’ll see that look too. It’s almost funny.

“I was trying to stop the guy from coming in.”

“Great! Brilliant job. What’s your plan for getting us out before he comes back with a drill and six angry security guards.”

“Well he would have walked in and seen the…” I motioned wildly at the camera and tiny pinhole that it was now recording through. Perry made an exasperated noise.

“Now he’s going to walk in and see us and the-“ Perry’s mimicry of my gesture was punctuated by extra flailing and a particularly pointed ‘duh’ expression. I didn’t really appreciate the sarcasm, because hey, I was stuck in the damn closet too.

He went to work on a plan – I can tell when he’s doing that, because he paces a little. Not pacing, really. A few jagged steps in one direction, then some more in another random one – not quite a circle or back and forth. Perry made a few small motions with his hands in a frustrated way, then wheeled back toward me.

“When the Janitor comes back, we’re going to have to kiss again.” He says it grimly, like he’s not going to enjoy it any more than I am. Seriously, who wouldn’t want to kiss me? Perry’s damn poor at lying, but his serious face almost had me convinced. Like, the guy would be great at poker. I’ll raise you ten and I don’t want to see you without your shirt on.

“No fucking way!” I just wanted to make sure he knew where I stood.

“You want to get arrested?” Perry kept getting closer, I wasn’t really sure how because I couldn’t take my eyes off his face – I was on guard for sudden assault from his mouth, and not the verbal kind if you know what I mean. No way, he got me unprepared last time, not this time.

Title: None
Fandom: Pirates of the Caribbean
Pairing: None?
Rating: G
Word Count: 404
Status: Abandoned
Summary: A visit with Captain Turner - either of them - was sure enough to mean trouble.

When the Empress hailed him for a mid-sea meeting, their signal politely requesting he slow the Pearl so the slower Chinese vessel could catch up, Barbossa was almost disinclined to aquiesce to her request. A visit with Captain Turner - either of them - was sure enough to mean trouble. Problems followed along at their heels like an everpresent dog, occasionally tripping them up to remind them of it`s presence while it was clear to everyone else around them. The problems had a way of tangling up others, also. Especially when both Turners were involved, and it multiplied thricefold with the presence of a certain Captain Jack Sparrow.

It was small comfort, then, that Sparrow would likely be afloat in the middle of the ocean in a rowboat. Barely more than a rowboat - it had two sails. Barbossa had taken the pleasure of making Pintel paint 'S.S. Overcompensation' on the ships stern. Unfortunately, Jack had probably missed it, and therefore entirely spoiled the joke.

A glance through his spyglass revealed that the Empress had all her gun hatches shut. Her crew was trimming sails and trying to coax more speed from the Junk. The captain herself was staring intently back at the Pearl, her spyglass throwing glare back in his direction.

Barbossa allowed himself a grin - well, she`d earned his respect. Also, it wouldn't do to have the Pirate King out of sorts upon their next meeting, if such should become necessary.

Even the ever cantankerous Pintel and Ragetti seemed glad to see Elizabeth again. They saluted - well, it was a lame approximation for a salute, but they could be forgiven on the grounds of the fact that they weren't proper sailors but pirates - before returning to their business, their conversation audible over the deck as Barbossa waited for her explanation.

"I heard," Ragetti started, looping his line distractedly while he trained his good eye pointedly on Elizabeth's newly aquired girth."That if you hang a wedding ring on a piece of string over a pregnant lady's stomach, it can tell you if it'll be a boy or a girl."

Pintel eyed him uncertainly. "Wot's it do, just open up and sing it out?"

"No, uh." Raggetti pawed slowly at the side of his face, trying to remember. "It's supposed to spin in circles or swing in a straight line for one or the other."

"So which is which?"

"I don't recall."

Title: Drop Bears
Fandom: Team Fortress 2
Pairing: Scout/Everyone
Rating: G
Word Count: 1,472
Status: Abandoned
Summary: Close your eyes and think of America, son!

Scout figures he can nick one of Sniper’s beers and not get shot if he pretends to be interested in talking to the guy. Sniper’s funny like that, he spends all day just sitting up in wherever, shooting whatever moved and wore red. He’s quiet over the com, only speaking up if he’s going to take a shot that might clip Scout’s short and curlies, so to speak.

But, if you got him talking at the end of the day, he liked the sound of his own voice well enough. Enough to share his private stash of beer. Scout never asked where he got it, but he was pretty sure Sniper’s ‘mum’ sent it up to him with the rest of the care packages she sent.

Scout’s own ma had never cared to send beer, just copious amounts of underwear, as if he would go through six or seven pairs a day or someshit like that. His laundry was a little embarrassing. Big whites load.

“What’s Australia like?” Scout asks, dipping into the cooler and sitting down like he cares about listening. He cracks open the can of beer, struggling a little. Soldier can somehow do it all cool – he extends the beer suspended right side up in one hand over the sink, hooks his index fingernail under the tab and the beer opens for him like a cheap whore. Scout has to balance it between his knees and pry with both hands.

Sniper at least doesn’t say anything about that.

“’Ssa great place,” Sniper says, easily enough. He doesn’t say anything about Scout filching a beer either. “Right beautiful territory, if you can get around the drop bears.”

“The… what?” Scout has to catch the foam rising up from the can in his mouth, slurping it up quickly before it can run over onto the floor – wasted beer was a sin against everything holy, that was the one motto Soldier and Scout shared. They might not share the same definition of ‘holy’, however.

“Drop bears.” Sniper says slowly. He’s looking sidelong at Scout behind his sunglasses. Sniper never takes those off, no matter what time of night it is. “Carnivorous bears a bit like koalas. Drop from trees and eat off all your skin, if yer not bloody careful.”

“There ain’t no such thing.” Scout says, filching one of Sniper’s beers anyway, which means he’s going to have to listen to this ridiculous tall tale. “Koalas only eat eecoludus. Leaves.”

“Woll,” Sniper drawls gamely, arranged in a comfortable gangle of limbs with his beer balancing on his hip. “Issa evolutionary diversion, mate.”

Scout thinks this can’t possibly ever work on anyone.

“Strewth.” Sniper lifts his beer and has a long pull, for effect. For all that he’s usually quiet, when he feels like talking, Scout’s pretty sure that even a bat to the face really wouldn’t stop him. He might just get louder, then. “Back in the annals of time, wossall drop bears out there in the never-never.”

Scout’s pretty sure that even Sniper has no clue what he’s talking about half the time. That, or Australians have slang for everything. Scout lets his disbelief come through, and refuses to let himself ask questions. He’s not interested, really he’s not. “In the what.”

“The outback, mate.” Sniper elaborates, rolling his eyes. “The wild parts, not within cooee.”

“That’s… really colorful.” Scout says, blandly. “Helpful. I mean it, just keep talkin’ like a freak.”

Sniper takes it in stride, has another drink. “They used ta all eat meat – woll, skin. Drop bears’r ferocious, but they just stripa skin offa whatever they’re at. Rest is all dingo-tucker, far as they’re concerned.”

Scout found himself picturing it, despite his best efforts. Walking along in the bush, or whatever, and bears drop out of the trees like ravenous weed whackers.

“They evolved different.” Sniper continues, holding up his beer and peering in the opening to asses what’s left of it. He judges ‘just enough for a really long sip’, because he finishes it before he continues. He tosses the empty into the trash, without having to sit up from where he’s lounging at the table. “Pass me another tinnie.”

“A what?” Scout asks, guessing he means beer, but goddamn if that guy never talks normal how can anyone ever expect to understand him.

Sniper just extends himself to the very edge of balance, and pushes ice around in the cooler until he can pull out another beer. He can’t open it one handed like Soldier, but manages still to be cooler about it than Scout. Story of Scout’s frikkin’ life. He holds it up demonstratively once it’s open, looking over his glasses at Scout, so that Scout will be sure to remember what Sniper means by the slang shorthand in the future.

“They realized, right quick, that there wasn’t enough meat to go around for all’na drop bears.” Sniper continues, as if he hadn’t stopped. “So halfa ‘em evolved to eat leaves, the other half stayed meat-eaters. Little known fact, kept on the hush-hush by the tourism board.”

Sniper grins, and it’s downright disturbing. His beer is half an inch from his mouth, but he pauses before he sips just to show his teeth in that big old goofy smile of his, only in profile it’s way more terrifying, because Scout knows he can put a bullet through a quarter at half a mile if he has a mind to it. “Wouldn’t do for any greenies to know when bookina trip, n’all.”

“Carnivorous koalas.” Scout repeats. He’s trying very hard not to imagine it, or even give Sniper any kind of credulity. Except, he’d never seen the guy crack a joke before, ever. Sniper appeared to be made out of slang, steady shots, and blandness. He’d kept his tone even throughout the whole conversation. “You have to be shitting me.”

“Did you clear that by the PFC?” Engineer asks, smoothly. Scout had to ask what the joke was about when he first heard it. It was strange, like being the last puzzle piece to fit in to the picture, he had to look around and see what the rest of the picture was like.

“Naw,” Sniper says, grinning. “He owes me one.”

The joke was something about how Soldier had only ever handed out one promotion. To his shovel.

Sniper’s fascination with urine seemed to stem from one too many whacks between the shoulders with a balisong. In a scrap, he’d stopped bothering with fumbling for weapons and started flinging whatever was at hand. Scout learns quick not to sneak up on him.

Scout thought his relationships were fucked up. Once he’d found his girlfriend was sleeping with his best friend and one of his older brothers. At the same time. That was the top of scout’s ‘relationships gone horribly fucking wrong’ list before he’d walked in on Sniper and Spy.

There was something seriously wrong with having that kind of sex with someone you saved your piss up just to especially humiliate.

Medic’s mouth turns into this firm line and he starts looking real stressed whenever anyone starts to get too close on the subject of how he and Heavy were too close. Scout can almost count the way his gray hairs were multiplying at his temples. Of course he keeps bringing it up, it’s funny to see Medic blow a gasket.

Not that he doesn’t appreciate what Medic does, just that Scout knows no matter how many buttons he pushes that medic won’t withhold any healing. Demoman had tried to convince Scout, when he’d been new, that Medic was downright insane and ready to amputate at the first sign of a splinter. It wasn’t until later – after weeks of avoiding the Doc’s attention – he realized that it was a joke. The sort that the whole team played on rookies.

Medic was more like a big mother hen than anything else Scout could use to describe him. ‘Clucky’, Sniper called the man. It was pretty right, as far as Scout was concerned. Medic tended to worry about everything, all the time.

“Your mandatory proctology exam, son!” Soldier says, using his bigger voice. It’s not his biggest voice – yet. “You have failed to take it!”

“You will get ass cancer!”

“You do not want ass cancer, and if you do you need a psychologist AND a proctologist!”

Scout’s always surprised to learn that Soldier knows words that big.

“Close your eyes and think of America, son!”

Title: Such Lions Led By Lambs
Fandom: FF7 (Before Crisis), WW1 AU - CASTLE ON THE SAND universe.
Pairing: Veld / Vincent Valentine
Rating: PG-13 War Imagery
Word Count: 1,482
Status: Abandoned
Summary: WW1 AU, Castle on the Sand universe. There's more of this handwritten somewhere but god knows where at this point. Was supposed to be quite dark.

It was August 1914 when Veld got the news - curled as he was at the kitchen table with the baby in his arms. His wife had given birth just two weeks before, and after all the complications, he'd been told the baby's chances of survival were slim. In defiance of this news, he kept the baby constantly pressed to him , learning to do everything one handed. The girl - for it was a girl, their first child - was, for all she seemed fragile enough to fade away at any minute, a quiet and unfussy creature.

She didn't cry and so Veld was on constant alert for her needs - as she conveyed them through her faint breathy sounds into his collarbone, or the slightest stirrings in her limbs. Her mother - Veld couldn't exactly fault her - distanced herself.

It was as if, with the looming threat of possible loss, the woman had detached herself and shut off in advance. She was careful with herself, unwilling to gamble more potential pain than was necessary. So instead he and the baby kept quiet company, he constant and steadfast, and her seeming to be a presence that would vanish as soon as someone ceased to believe in her.

Miche keeps jerking his gun off his shoulder right after the shot goes off - there's no follow through. The kid isn't good enough to kill on the first shot, Veld thinks, which means when he misses - and he will, jerking his gun around like that - he won't get a second shot. The gun will be at his hip already, lowered in his strange reflex. Veld was tempted to put three .22 slugs through the kid's head during morning mile himself, just to prove a point on tracking and follow-through. It might make the kid's life worth something, even if only as a lesson to his fellow soldiers.



I hope my earlier telegraph reached you, as I have barely had time to write. They keep us v. busy with drills and duties. I'm not entirely sure why they give us rifles at all, since it seems I am expected to stab Jerry to death with my bayonet at any opportunity that presents itself.

We are expected to deploy on the second for further training and regimental assignment. Vincent is certain the war will be over by the time he graduates from potato peeling to hole digging, in his own words.

I enjoy receiving your letters & I will write whenever I am able. Tell Ellie her father loves her & I promise to do you both proud.

-With all my love & Forever Yours,
J. Veld

It was all he could do to keep his balance as he slid down the steep slope into the shell crater - it was an old one, deep enough to drown in if it had been full of water. He picked up his feet carefully, not letting his boots get mired in as he slid, keeping his body sideways into the drop. At the bottom his front foot tangled with a skeletal arm, still encased in sleeves and stuck up out of the mud like a monument.

Forward momentum toppled him onto his hands, but the drop was at least a short one. He tucked his shoulder and rolled into the motion to avoid slamming his captured Germen geweher - and more importantly the delicate magnifying sight - into the ground. Veld would have preferred his S.M.L.E by far, but the bolt on this rifle was downbent to allow the sight. In front of him, the far wall of the crater stood steep and imposing.

Getting down on the loose dirt was about as much exercise as Veld wanted in a day, but now that he stood on the choppy, debris-strewn bottom of the hole, there was only the near vertical expanse of the far wall which had to be overcome.

It was the thought of what Vic would write to his wife if he died now that got Veld moving forward.

Dear Sarah,
Your husband was a fine man and a fine soldier. He died in a hole somewhere.

-Vincent Valentine.

Setting his mouth in a grim line, Veld took the first steps up the side, his whole body bent nearly double to keep his center of gravity close to the slope below him. The rifle was slung between his arms and his webbing seemed to claw and drag at his shoulders, threatening to throw him back to the bottom with every struggling step forward he made. He used his left hand occasionally to grab some twisted bit of wood or metal - probably part of some larger, buried structure - and hauled himself forward.

Hard enough to turn all his senses into a ringing, white moment, it jars just barely against his skull the angle just lucky enough that it turns aside by his temple. It's the fall that does him worse - or so he realizes when he becomes aware that somehow he's come to be on the ground, rifle trapped between his body, arm, and the mud. Everything hurts, and his eye - swelling closed - is full of blood. He crawls behind his tree, each motion a deliberate fight to gain inertia against the overwhelming will to lay still and let the world spin itself out.

Veld returns home fifteen pounds lighter - leaner, harder, fed on a diet of the same, the same, the same. London is as burnt and scarred as he feels in places, but she is still alive, too. She sleeps in a parody of normality, her face pointedly turned away from the reality of war. Instead, posters with brightly clad, stern-faced soldiers adhered themselves along streetsides like so many wound plasters.

He finds himself moving faster than he has in a year, but realizes after considering how strangely unbalanced he feels, it's from a lack of heavy equipment and mud. Logically, Veld knows his home is empty - is even possibly damaged or destroyed by the blitz, though he hadn't seen anything about his neighborhood in the sad, torn papers that made it to the front.

It is not an empty, mirthless town - with the bulldog resilience possessed by every Brit, London residents went about their lives. Veld had the opportunity to take several cabs, but he passed them up - walking suited him better. He felt sure that he would, at any moment, reacclimate to this atmosphere - free of the sweet, choking stench of decay, devoid of gunfire or the dull whump and high shoosh of launching artillery.

The three distinct clicks his captured mauser's action made as he worked the bolt. His hands felt empty without the carbine. Instead, he pushes his fingers against the last lingering traces of scab on his forehead, where the scar will form in a few more months.

The dull, quiet pain distracts him all the way to his front door. His key fits the lock, which turns slowly, two clicks placed at almost the right intervals, but no third or fourth. No satisfying sensation of the bolt sliding home, pushing the cartridge into place.

The house was empty. Nothing was covered or packed - as if Sarah had expected to be away only a few weeks, though she had made sure to empty all the cupboards - the house was silent, devoid of even vermin life. He found his telegraph on the table, the one telling Sarah to take the baby to his brother's in the countryside.

There was nothing else. The house was sacred and still like a museum - some exhibit of what the world was like before it was made out of bombs and mud and corpses. Everything here seemed excessively fragile, he thought, made of glass and straw. Nothing but a crater would remain after a shell struck.

Veld discovered he couldn't stomach the silence. He let his tread run heavy as he went up the stairs, allowing his exhaustion to hang on him like weights. He moved slowly upstairs, looking only downward. The last time he'd gone up these stairs, he'd been carrying his daughter. He realized that the weight of his Mauser was almost the same as she had been, and just as comforting a thought, now.

He thought of Vic as he looked out the window, utterly unable to sleep for all the silence. How could he live in this world, after learning that of the front? His eyes traveled to Valentine's house, and he watched the darkened windows. His wife didn't enter his thoughts until some time later, as he realized that time had indeed passed - a glance at his pocket watch in combination with the changing light told him it was after seven in the evening.

Title: Safehouse
Fandom: FF7 Advent Children
Pairing: Tseng/Elena/Veld
Rating: NC-17
Word Count: 3,219
Status: Abandoned
Summary: “Vincent left you here.” Veld said, tonelessly. “He never was any good with injuries.”

Elena was dimly aware that she was no longer in danger, that she was no longer cold and bleeding and quite so broken. The rest was a haze of potions and cure magic and her one worry dissipated when she opened her eyes.

“Tseng.” She said first, surprised by the fact only soreness lingered. He sat patiently in a chair that wasn’t realy a color so much as an intricate pattern of pinks and voids. It might have meant to suggest flowers, but Elena’s eyes refused to focus that closely. Everything else she could see was white. Walls, ceiling, but it wasn’t a hospital.

He was leaning forward, hands suspending a cup of coffee between his knees that she could smell. It was the first thing she reached for, since her throat was so dry. It was Tseng’s usual, dark and without cream. She knew there would only be a little sugar as she sat up to drink it. He watched her, expression warming a little as she reoriented herself. It felt good not to have to snap into total consciousness. Even though she was stiff, and she could feel her dirty hair touching her face, it felt luxurious to wake up relaxed. She couldn’t think of the last time it had happened.

“Did you wait the whole time?” She asked, when she’d finished half his cup. It was warm and welcome, and he didn’t protest. He finished the cup before he answered.

“No. I’ve been in and out. Helping our host, sleeping.” He turned the cup between his palms, then looked up. Their eyes met. He didn’t ask if she was O.K., just the look between them as equals was enough. He didn’t feel like she needed to be coddled, wouldn’t try to take responsibility for her injuries. The tri had tried to break him with her, her with him, but they didn’t know anything about turks. Neither would break in front of the other. Neither would give, because in pairs or groups, they were just that strong.

Elena took in more of her surroundings and none of it was familiar. Tseng seemed at ease, so she followed his lead.

“Where are we?” She asked, rescued certainly, but not by ShinRa, or they’d be at Healin and Reno and Rude would be sharking around.

“An old friend took us in.” Tseng answered, and then stood up. He set aside his coffee cup on the bedstand and offered her a hand to pull herself out of bed with. She took it, but didn’t lean on it – just for the contact. That way it seemed more real, he was solid and there, this wasn’t just a dream.

“We have those?” She asked, partly joking. In their line of business there were many bitter partings, and a dearth of sweet ones. What they didn’t kill before they left, they usually ruined.

“More than you would think.” Tseng’s mouth quirked in amusement. “He’s in the garage, I’ll reintroduce you…”

The rest of the house was much the same. It said bachelor, by the white and eclectic mis-match of furniture, but was clean and well kept. There wasn’t much she could make from it save that the person seemed neat. It wasn’t expressive, but everything was clean.

The kitchen opened out into the garage through a side door. Her first impression of the space was that it was bright, lit from overhead with hanging floods to keep the Spartan work space well lit. Part of it was taken up by a hulking motorcycle. It was an older model, one of the original gas/mako hybrids before everything had gone straight to mako. Elena’s father had one, when she was little.

The bike’s innards were half removed, and a man hunkered down with his arms worked deep into the bike’s belly. He was working by feel alone, head turned to give him the reach and angle he needed.

Elena distantly remembered what her sister had said about him, before everything had changed. When she was just a school girl, still struggling with conventions of good and bad, she’d scoffed at Veld’s age back then, in comparison to the younger turks who surrounded him. Her sister had taken Elena’s wrist in a pressured grip just shy of pain.

“Don’t underestimate him.” Her sister had said, in her turk voice. There one that Elena knew more about now – it was the tone she used when giving someone one last chance to take her seriously.

He was easy, in his own bland way, to underestimate. He kept a relaxed posture, rounded shoulders – but Elena also noticed that he never sat. He leaned a little, to put others at ease, but never surrendered his dominance of a room by sitting. If it meant he had to reach down to use the ashtray, or review things on his desk he seemed used to it. Casual.

“Valentine told me you got into some trouble, when he left you here.” Veld said, and he was talking to Tseng, despite how he phrased the statement.

“You’re in contact with him?” Tseng’s voice was carefully modulated.

Veld looked momentarily frank. He lifted his cigarette to his mouth and smoked by way of answer. “For a while now. We were partners. We both need information, sometimes.”

The three sentences – like scattered points along the same line, were his entire explanation. Tseng nodded.

Elena was suddenly assaulted by a scrap of gray fluff, as demanding as it was soft and full of purring. Veld’s eyes tracked the cat into her lap, impassive as he inhaled more smoke. He didn’t comment on his cat’s traitorous act.

“What was the plan if he hadn’t been there.” Veld continued, as if the conversation hadn’t been diverted – wasn’t, right now, on a diversion from the reason they’d come.

“To not give up our secrets.” Tseng said, and Elena realized with surprise that he was covering for his embarrassment. He hadn’t expected those whatever they were – aspects, maybe was a good word.

Veld knew he was covering, too. He didn’t look so much disappointed as suddenly very alert. Focused. Not even interested, really, more a feline’s impassive all-encompasing gaze. It unsettled her, as if she were a mouse straying into a catfight, wehre either side could suddenly turn their attentions on her.

Both waited, patient. After a moment, Veld’s expression changed back to its usual disinterest, but he remained focused on his student. When he finished his cigarette, he stumped out the filter in the ashtray – somehow just shy of overflowing, and lit another automatically.

“Vincent left you here.” Veld said, tonelessly. “He never was any good with injuries.”

There was a ghost in the room now. A lingering reminder that what Elena though of so possessively as hers, her turks, her team – which she was a real part of now, hadn’t always belonged to her. Or even Tseng or Rude or Reno, all of whom could make someone feel like they’d both been the seniors forever.

Before she’d even been born, these things she’d worked so hard for had belonged to Veld and Valentine, and in that way they were just as much her brothers. Their presence still lingered in her little world, just as much as hers would someday shape another generation of blue suited hopefuls.

He was looking at her now, measuring her in her silence, and the only way she could think to describe his eyes was ‘dark’.

There’s a sudden change in the air and Elena almost wants to sigh in relief, except she can’t place a finger on why.

“It’s raining out.” Tseng says, picking up his cup and heading to push open the slats of plastic that cover Veld’s porch door.

“Sideways animals.” Veld agrees, and the sound of hard rain hisses into Elena’s awareness to confirm his words. It’s like everything is suddenly as O.K. as it can be, the ease of off-duty time settling in. By nature, even though they see enough of each other to set their teeth on edge during work sometimes, the Turks spend a lot of off-duty time in the same company. The same blood, and the fact that no one else could ever really know them and be at ease. Shared sins aren’t shunned. Reno had rhymed one day, well into his cups. They had all raised their glass.

“Sir.” Tseng says, and Veld makes a one syllable noise that Elena doesn’t have enough experience to interpret. “We’ll be ready for them next time.”

He’s still looking out the window, coffee cup in his hands, and Elena’s looking at the line of his jaw and the barest edge of the bandage she can see in his open collar. He’s alive again, just another scar to wear. It makes her feel good, ready. Veld is still looking at her, and she is sure she’ll measure up.

Veld straightens from where he was leaning on his kitchen table and takes Tseng’s cup. One leader looks at another, and Elena’s glad that the steady drive of rain is slowly removing the pressure she hadn’t known was pounding at her temples. She can see the way Tseng looks at him, and realizes this is some other part of him she’s never seen, despite all the time and intimacy. She’d never seen that kind of reverence, and realices that Tseng is usually just as emotionless as Veld, but in a more covered way. Veld is more honest, Tseng is better at it.

He doesn’t smell like cigarettes – or stale ones at least. Somehow he smells like cherry tobacco and only the non-offensive odor of fresh smoke. Even Reno often smelled stale, and he didn’t smoke nearly so much as she’d seen Veld.

Elena can smell laundry deterchent underneath it all and she wishes she knew his secret, though she’d never ask. This close, she doubts she’d let it matter – it never had with Reno, somehow. He was all speed and desperation, though. Veld was a study in contrast. Just as patient as Tseng. Her hands on his tie revealed the thrift of his clothes – it was rough cotton, but he wore it like Tseng’s silk, so the touch of it surprised her.

His composure had rough edges, she thought, and felt a low warmth in her belly to wonder if she could push him like she could Tseng. If she could put a crack in that composure that could only appear because she was a Turk and that meant it was O.K. to let go a little. There was nothing underneath that Elena couldn’t take. Between the two of them, she feels o.k. letting go a little too – they work like old team-mates, unspoken cooperation natural in their hands.

Veld undoes her tie, Tseng has her jacket off. While Tseng’s hands work her buttons blind and backward, Veld’s do his. The rhythms are as natural as breathing, and Elena’s got her fingers tangled in the knot of Veld’s tie to yank him down demandingly. She knows, somehow, that he’ll love to give the same way Tseng does, and his one-sound chuckle makes her guess right. He’s shorter than Tseng, but still taller than her. She goes up on tiptoes, but he doesn’t have to arch himself the way Tseng does, he keeps his balance. It means she can’t shift him with his center of gravity thrown off the way she does Rude or Tseng, and she’s not sure he’d be as appreciative as Reno was of her kicking him in the shins to get what she wanted.

Instead she just kisses him, eyes closed and without hesitation. He’s good at this, too. Unreadable. His hands stay politely on her hips, until one reaches up to curl her spine backward, pressing at the small of her back so he can lean into the advantage. She drops her hold on his tie, leaving it a loosened wreck of professionalism. Elena seizes his belt and pulls, unbalancing them both backward into Tseng.

He’s ready for it though. Tseng only gives a step, used to this sort of assault on his balance.

It was unassuming – a small silver shiny egg no longer than the first two joints of the fingers Veld held it in, and no wider than his pointer and index together. Elena’s toys were fancier, at home. She went for the ones that penetrated invariably, since her fantasies involved that sort of thing when she was forced to go it alone.

Small as it was, Veld seemed to know just what he was doing with it. His expression never changed, and he never looked down to be sure of his hands, he just leaned in over Tseng intimately in a way that went straight down through Elena’s belly. The controls for the device stayed in the hand that Veld was using to hold himself up, and he worked the roller with his thumb there to vary the speed – while he touched it longways to the underside of Tseng’s cock.

Elena had heard Tseng’s breath speed up, coaxed him into making small surrendering noises before. However, she’d only rarely heard him make a noise like the one he made just then – a frustrated growl that seemed to be exactly what Veld was looking for. The older man’s mouth quirked faintly at the noise, and he pushed the vibrator along the length of Tseng’s shaft until it rested just under the glans.

Tseng’s hand rose waveringly from the sheets as the muscles in his stomach went tense – she could see them pulling tight under the ridge of scar tissue – and he clutched at Veld’s bracing arm with a long drag of his fingernails. Veld’s eyelids lowered just a fraction at that, red lines describing the path of Tseng’s fingers from somewhere just below his shoulder to where he finally caught hold just above Veld’s elbow.

Elena’s hands crept down her own stomach – Veld was just as patient as Tseng, she thought, was that how he drove Tseng so crazy? She made a note of where he lingered – an old familiarity that hadn’t faded with time. Her fingers started slow, but she was already slick. She bit her lip and kept the slow time that Veld seemed to, lingering in the spots that made Tseng’s muscles jump until the trembling began to fade.

His gaze found her sidelong as she began to press her index finger in earnest against her clit. The noises Tseng made ran through her like a slow burn, his faint, almost desperate growls the closest thing to complete surrender she’d ever heard from him – and Veld hadn’t even laid a hand on him in earnest yet. It made her realize that there was still so much she didn’t know about him – even after the world had ended.

“If you have a little patience,” Veld rumbled, his voice little more than a purr under Tseng’s sudden gasp. “I haven’t forgotten you.”

She pushed harder at herself, just once, arching. Veld’s voice had developed an unmistakable husk, the one clue she’d seen that he was actually interested in what he was doing. He was making a promise – unspoken except through the way he was looking at her, while his hand continued on Tseng. Her eyes slipped away from his first, down to where Tseng’s hand was pressing neatly manicured fingernails into the skin on the back of Veld’s arm.

“She’s not very good at patience.” Tseng manages to groan, and something in his voice sets her off afresh. Veld’s brows arch, and he looks back down at the other Turk for a moment before his hand falls away. Tseng’s tensed muscles slowly ease, and his breath stutters back into him before Elena thinks he even realizes he’s lost it.

“That so.” Veld says, but something in his tone agrees with Tseng. “You never were good at not giving someone what they wanted when they got authoritative.”

“Nnn,” Tseng agrees, propping himself up on his elbows to slide free. Veld thumbs the device off, and sits up.

“I didn’t mind just watching.” Elena admits, aware of how much she just wants to be touched now, though it’s awkward to do it herself with both of them watching – Tseng with his usual smug-feline look – the one that says he knows how satisfying this is going to be. “I’ve never seen Tseng like that.”

Veld huffs out a single syllable sound that might be a laugh. He motions Elena over, and when she sits up to comply, he moves faster than she would have expected – though it’s not towards her as she would have thought. It catches Tseng by surprise too, and before he can shift out of the way, Veld’s pulling his wrists up behind his back to hold him still for Elena.

She couldn’t say what that did for her aside from the sudden, aching twinge in her belly – and Tseng seemed equally interested in where the idea would lead. He only bothered to shift once in an attempt to break free before Elena’s hands were on him – the idea was too good to waste on hesitation. While Veld held him still, she could take complete control and actually feel the victory – Tseng was obedient to a fault when she took control. It was extremely sexy – but spoke more for his perfect self control than her actual authority.

Somehow, unspoken, she knew that she held the command over Veld, should she need it, and that was even sexier than having Tseng submit under his own power.

Veld splayed one hand on her stomach, and pushed the vibrator against her clit with the long blunt side angled down so it rumbled against the whole area. Her fingers pawed the covers until they came down on the controls, and he made his one syllable laugh again and let her have them, pushing open her folds with his free thumb as he turned the egg in his hands to push the point of it up against her, trapping her clit between the vibrations and the broad edge of his thumb.

It made the muscles in her belly and thighs jerk and tremble as a slow heat built, kept slower by the fact that he only moved the device with a gentle, deliberate rhythm. Tseng supported her head and shoulders in his lap, so she could watch every deliberate motion Veld made – seemingly by feel alone. His fingers were experts, curled under the device as he worked it in a tiny, slow circle that made her body ache for release.
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