#phoebe bridgers cover of it’ll all work out
tightjeansjavi · 5 months
Burning in a Hopeless Dream
Boston QZ: Part 15
“They See Right Through Me”
Joel Miller x f!o/c
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A/N: thank you for your patience as I took the time to write this for y’all. This was not only the longest chapter I have written, this was also the hardest, and emotionally challenging one thus far. I am extremely proud of how this has turned out. Thank you for reading ♡
Summary: Save who you can save Joel.
~word count: 11.7k~
Warnings: age gap (o/c is in her early 30’s Joel is in his 50’s) established relationship, angst, dark! Joel, mean! Joel. You’re gonna hate him by the end of this chapter! Joel, canon typical violence, death of a major character, trauma, arguments, gaslighting, PTSD, anger, rage, heart break, triggering themes that may be disturbing for some viewers. Please proceed with caution and read the warnings. (+18) minors dni !
Songs for this chapter:
“The Archer” By Taylor Swift
“You Are My Sunshine” by The Civil Wars
“Godspeed” By Frank Ocean
“Same Old Same Old” by The Civil Wars
“take a moment to breathe” by normal the kid
“My Cell” The Lumineers
“Paper Houses” by Niall Horan
“Wait” by M83
“Save Yourself” by KALEO
“It’ll All Work Out” by Phoebe Bridgers
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Summer, 2023 : 5 Miles outside the QZ
“From this point forward, the three of us have to actively remember that Ellie is just a kid.” You spoke, sitting along an old crate in the abandoned building you, Joel, and Tess had found to take cover from the storm. Ellie was asleep, in the middle of the room. She used her backpack as a pillow, under a bed of moss.
Joel scoffed alongside you. His hand was still bloodied and bruised up. The thin skin of his knuckles were torn, shredded, and you were doing your best to clean out any debris embedded in the flesh. “She ain’t just a kid. She’s fuckin’ cargo to us.” He gritted out. He could feel the muscles, and tendons in his hand twitching. He had definitely broken it from the amount of times his fist made contact with the FEDRA soldiers face.
“Does she fucking look like cargo to you Joel? That’s a kid who’s life just got drastically turned upside down in a matter of hours. All she’s clearly known is Marlene, and the fireflies, and now 3 strangers.” You shook your head, refusing to make eye contact with him as you swiped a bit of 20 year old disinfectant along his knuckles, eliciting a hiss from between his lips.
“She is cargo. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you don’t let your emotions get in the fucking way. You forgetting what we’re doin’ this for? We’re doin’ this for Tommy, Gwen. We get the battery, the truck, everything Marlene promised us, and we go and find my brother. That’s the plan and it ain’t changin’ darlin’.”
“You know, if I had just met you two, I’d think you were an old married couple by the way you fuckin’ bicker together.” Tess whispered, amusement in her tone.
Joel rolled his eyes immediately in response. “Yeah?” He scoffed. “Well, we sure as hell ain’t an old married couple.”
“No, but you’re actin’ like one. At this rate, I’d put a ring on her finger sooner, rather than later Texas.”
“You see an every kiss begins with Kay or jade jewelers, or whatever the fuck around here? Cause I sure as hell ain’t seein’ any. Not to mention, that ain’t our style. Marriage? That’s hilarious Tess. Really fuckin’ funny.”
It wasn’t that Joel thought there was anything bad about marriage. It was more-so the fact the that he hadn’t had thoughts about marriage in over 20 fucking years. Besides, putting a ring on your finger seemed way too cliche. Totally not yours, or his style.
“I think I’d actually commit murder if he even attempted to put a ring on my finger.” You chimed in, your eyes were still focused on tending to Joel’s hand.
“That’s exactly 100% why you’re Joel’s girl.”
“Damn right she is.” He agreed.
“You’re both seriously beyond insufferable right now. Just wanted to let you know.” You mumbled under your breath with a small grin tugging on your lips.
A bright flash of lighting, followed by a loud crack of thunder, ended the lighthearted banter.
“Have you thought of the possibility that maybe Marlene is lying about the truck, and weapons that she promised us? Look, I have my reasons to not trust Marlene, but I really think we need to think about this from a logical standpoint. If the case ends up being there’s no truck, or weapons, we can’t just leave Ellie to fend for herself.”
Joel was ripping his hand from your grasp when you had attempted to bandage his knuckles up. He had given you a stone cold look, one that sent an unpleasant chill down your spine.
“Marlene seemed too fuckin’ desperate to make up a lie like that darlin’. Besides, Tess and I have known Marlene far longer than you have. If she says there’s a truck and weapons waiting at the state house, she ain’t lyin’ about that. The only reason you have to not trust her is because she’s a fuckin’ firefly.”
You narrowed your eyes at him as you tucked your first aid kit back into your backpack and stood up. “Yeah? Well if you remember correctly, she’s the reason why I got fucking thrown into lockup. Her and the rest of the fireflies are the reason behind that. You just want me to go along and trust her? She’s never even fucking liked me Joel.” His gaze fell upon your face as you shrugged off your jacket and gently placed it over Ellie’s curled up sleeping form just a few feet away.
“You were just in the wrong place at the wrong time Gwen. Shit fuckin’ happens. You don’t wanna trust Marlene? Go on right ahead and see where that gets you. You’ll be eating your words the second we drop this kid off and get our reward.”
You scoffed under your breath as you sank down against the wall, far away from him now with your arms crossed over your chest. “Yeah, okay Joel. Can you stop being a fucking asshole?”
“Stop saying stupid fuckin’ shit and then I won’t have a reason to be an asshole darlin’”
You bit down on the inside of your cheek, tasting copper along your tongue. You missed the moments where Joel was attentive to you, and your feelings. Where he was tender, gentle, soft with your heart. You missed that side of him desperately.
Ellie, unbeknownst to the three of you, was wide awake and listening to the entire conversation as it ensued. The second you placed your jacket over her, she felt an immediate trust for you. Especially for the fact that you emphasized that she was just a kid. She was wary of the other two you traveled with. Especially Joel. He seemed like one mean motherfucker.
Joel had taken the first watch of the night while you and Tess slept. Except, you couldn’t sleep at all. Despite how mean your partner was to you earlier, you couldn’t give him the cold shoulder forever.
He had turned his head towards you in the slightest when he could hear your boots scraping against the pavement as you stood up. He let out a soft sigh when you sank down beside him, pulling your knees up to your chest.
“Why aren’t you sleepin’ honey?” His tone was much softer now, but you didn’t want to get your hopes up.
“I don’t sleep most nights anymore Joel.”
He frowned at this and finally looked over at you, turning his body so he was facing you. His good hand was still firmly grasped around the machine gun strapped across his shoulder.
“You wanna talk about it? I’m all ears for you darlin’” he rasped.
“There’s nothing to talk about Joel. This has been going on for months. I’ve come to accept that a decent night's rest is not something attainable for me anymore. I’m on edge constantly, and for good reason.” You had your chin tucked into your shoulder as you looked over at him. The rain wasn’t as heavy anymore but there were still low rumbles of thunder in the distance.
Joel took a deep inhale through his nose, his nostrils flaring slightly as he breathed out, feeling the tension in his shoulders dissipate.
“C’mere. You ain’t have a reason to be on edge when I’m right here. Okay? Look, I know these last few months have not been ideal. Shits been handed to us left and right. I don’t want you thinkin’ that I don’t care either, alright? You know I do.” He slipped the rifle off of his shoulder before he was reaching for you, gently wrapping his good hand around your forearm, coaxing you closer.
“I know you care, Joel. I know that you’re just stressed over Tommy, and now this whole situation. I just…I got so fucking comfortable when we were just..happy. You remember that?” You didn’t fight him as he gently pulled you into his arms, holding you tightly to his chest, resting his chin along the top of your head. His arms were secured around your middle, your back pressed firmly to his chest.
“We both knew that wasn’t going to last forever baby. Those were the best moments. I ain’t forgotten them. M’sorry for the way I’ve snapped at you. I don’t know how to deal with how I’ve been feelin’ about Tommy. I know that’s not an excuse to treat ya that way. I don’t wanna lose you too..”
“We could have stayed with Bill and Frank y’know. There were so many houses and we could have had a comfortable life there. I know it sounds silly, how can anyone live comfortably in an apocalypse? Somehow Bill and Frank have. They’ve pretty much gone and done the impossible. Listen, I know you don’t mean what you’ve said. Does it hurt me? Absolutely. You’d have to do something unforgivable to lose me Joel. So please don’t go speaking like that.” You placed your hands over his, as you gently brought his damaged hand up to your lips, lightly pressing a kiss to the broken skin on his knuckles.
“Maybe we can have that one day, sweet girl. Just the two of us, okay? We’ll find a home somewhere to call ours. Maybe a couple horses, a nice big yard? A library for all your books..a decent mattress, with pillows that aren’t moth eaten. A nice big kitchen where we can cook together. We’ll have Bill, Frank, Tess, and Bea over every weekend for dinner. I’ll make sweet love to you every fuckin’ night. Doesn’t that sound wonderful baby? We’ll have that one day, I promise you. It’s just not in the cards for us right now, but that’s okay. You wanna know why? Cause no matter what, I got you, and you got me. Kay? No matter what happens.” He whispered against your hair, his eyes closed as he pictured a domestic lifestyle with you by his side. He wanted that so fucking badly with you. He could nearly taste it.
You were left feeling stunned in his arms. Joel’s confession was well thought out, tender, filled to the brim with all the little details. You could tell by his deliverance that this was not something he came up with on a whim. No, your Joel had thought about the possibility of having a normal life with you for a long long time. “No matter what happens, I got you, you got me. Always.” You whispered.
Joel tightened his grip around you slightly. He didn’t care about the throbbing pain from his freshly broken hand, or the impending reality that your lives had drastically changed in a matter of hours. He just wanted to make sure you got a decent night of sleep finally.
So, he sang. Just above a whisper, the same lullaby you had sung to him the night that his nightmares nearly consumed him.
“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You’ll never know dear, how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away. Please don’t take my sunshine away…”
You were fast asleep by the time he whispered out the last word. He held you all night long, listening intently for any sounds that could be of a threat. Even when it was Tess’s turn to take watch, he didn’t wake her either. His gun was nearby, ready to grab if needed. His eyes stayed trained on the sleeping teenager just a few feet away. Ellie, who he viewed as just being cargo to transport.
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By morning's impending approach, the storm had since passed on. The sky was painted in an array of pink, red, and orange hues. Although a sight to behold, a red sky at dawn was never a good sign. The old saying goes, red sky at night, sailors delight. Red sky at morning, sailors warning.
The four of you had no inclination to predict that this was Tess’s last day walking in the living realm. Predicting the weather was something just about anyone could do. Predicting the moment someone would take their last dying breath? That was a feat impossible.
Ellie had slowly awoken to the sun's warm rays peeking through the cracks in the abandoned building. A golden butterfly fluttered above her sleeping form as her eyes slowly opened. She was still in a sleepy state as she slowly sat up, taking in her surroundings before she heard a loud creaking sound behind her.
She was greeted by a stern look from both Joel, and Tess. He was holding his assault rifle between his hands. The barrel of the gun pointed at the ground. The look he was giving the teenager was menacing enough as it was. The only kind face Ellie could find in the small space was yours.
“Morning…” she spoke, hesitation laced in her tone.
Just as she began to slowly rise from the mossy floor, Joel had lifted the gun in her direction, causing the teenager's eyes to go wide and you kicked his chair with your boot from where you stood behind him. “Joel..” you warned. He could feel your eyes glaring into the back of his skull, disapprovingly.
“If you say that she’s just a kid one more fuckin’ time.” He snapped back, keeping his gun trained on Ellie.
“Do I look like I’m infected? Seriously, can you not point that thing at me man? What, are you actually gonna shoot me?”
“Just might. Now, show us your arm. Slow. If you make any—”
“Sudden movements you’ll shoot. Yeah, I think I fucking got that part.” Ellie quipped back. She slowly lifted the sleeve of her hoodie revealing her 3 week old bite mark in the sunlight. From where the 3 of you were, it was pretty obvious this was not a fresh bite in the slightest.
“Yeah, it’s not getting any worse, is it? I’m not infected. This thing is 3 weeks old and I haven’t turned into one of those..things.”
Joel slowly lowered his gun before he slowly looked over at Tess before he let his gaze slightly drift up to you. “What the hell was Marlene doin’ with an infected kid in the first place?”
“I’m not infected. She found me after I was bitten and before you ask, no. She didn’t shoot me. She locked me up in that shit hole and had her guys test me every fucking day. They chained me to a pipe and made me recite my name and other shit back to them to see if my personality had changed. It clearly didn’t.”
“Did your shit attitude come before, or after you were bitten?” Joel asked.
You kicked the foot of his chair again, this time a little harder.
You could tell the teenager fought hard to not roll her eyes at him. “Y’know the thing I think really impressed them was the fact that I didn’t turn into a fucking monster.”
When the three of you didn’t respond, Ellie slowly rose to her feet and Joel’s gun followed. “Really man? I thought we were done with that shit. Can I just go pee now? I’ve been holding it for a while.”
Tess had grabbed an old magazine on the floor and tossed it over to the teenager. “Go ahead. You can find a nice spot back there.”
Ellie caught the magazine before she started to walk towards the back room to do her business. “There’s not gonna be anything bad in here?”
“Just you.”
Once Ellie was out of sight, you nearly wanted to rip Joel’s gun from his hands but refrained as you crossed your arms over your chest with a sigh. “She made it through the fuckin’ night, Joel. I think you can cut it out with pointing the gun at her. She’s clearly not a threat to any of us.”
“It doesn’t fuckin’ matter. It’s gonna happen sooner or later. Maybe her body just has a late response to the cordyceps. She can’t be trusted. I told you this was a bad fuckin’ idea to begin with and now that we know she’s infected, you still think we’re gonna follow through with this?”
“You saw her arm, Joel. If she was infected it would have looked completely different. We’ve seen what infected bite marks look like and she is not one of them.”
“Yeah well I ain’t about to go and take that chance. We’re close enough to the wall. We can sneak her back into the QZ and we’ll just find a different way to get the battery. I ain’t hauling an infected kid around with us.”
“We take her back to the QZ and they’re gonna kill her. FEDRA see’s that bite mark and she’s through. You really wanna have a kid's blood on your hands like that?”
“Do you hear yourself right now Gwen? You’re actin’ like this kid has some fuckin’ life ahead of her or somethin’. We take her back to the QZ and get the battery a different way.”
“What happened to fiercely believing in the fact that Marlene is gonna have a whole truck and weapons waiting for us if we bring her to the state house? You’re just gonna go and abandon that?”
“You should be jumping for joy over the fact that we’re finally fuckin’ agreeing on somethin’ for once. An infected kid is not worth the possibility of that truck, or the weapons we were promised.”
“I’m with Gwen on this one.” Tess finally spoke as Joel whipped his around suddenly to look at her, narrowing his eyes.
“You’re what?”
“You heard me Texas. I don’t think I need to repeat it.” She spoke without looking at him just as Ellie had returned. “You hungry kid? You can share some of ours.”
“Thanks. Marlene sent me with my own.” Ellie spoke as she sank down into the moss, pulling out what appeared to be a chicken sandwich from her backpack.
“Is that chicken?” You asked, feeling your mouth water at the sight of something besides the dried, tasteless jerky the three of you were eating.
“Yep. Marlene said they get it from smugglers..guess not you guys.” She smirked a little as she took a bite of her sandwich.
Tess was already up and out of her chair and Joel had tried to stop her but she pushed him away. “Why are you so important to Marlene? Hm? Don’t even think about lyin’ to me kid. If you do, we’ll take you back to the QZ.”
“Well..you take me back and you don’t get your battery.” Ellie responded.
“Ohh. So you got a good set of ears on you huh? Well, then I’m sure you heard that he wants to shoot you then right?”
Ellie no longer possessed a smirk on her face as she slowly looked up at Joel’s displeased face. “So then why hasn’t he shot me already? If what you’re saying is true.”
“Trying to change the subject isn’t gonna do you any good either. So I’m gonna talk to you like an adult, alright? Joel and I aren’t good people. We’re doin’ this for us because apparently you’re worth somethin’ to Marlene, whatever that may be. So if I were you, I’d drop the smart ass attitude because his patience? It’s wearing mighty thin. I suggest you answer my question. Why are you so important to Marlene?”
“What about her? Is she not a good person either?” Ellie spoke, gesturing her head towards you.
“Gwen? Let’s just say..she’s better than the two of us but not by much. Sweet face, sure. Knows how to wield a knife like it’s the fuckin’ back of her hand.”
“That’s badass.”
“Answer her question, Ellie. It’s alright.” You spoke softly, earning a disapproving look from your lover.
“Okay..well, Marlene told me not to tell anyone and here I am telling the three of you..” she sighed, rubbing her hand over her face. “There’s a Firefly base camp somewhere out west with doctors. They’re working on a cure.”
“Oh of course they are. Yeah, sure I’ll believe it. This ain’t the fuckin’ first time we’ve heard about a possible cure. It’s all horse shit.” Joel muttered under his breath.
“So whatever happened to me is—”
“The key to finding the vaccine. That’s what they all fuckin’ say and guess what? They’ve tried to find a cure numerous times and ain’t nothin’ worked. It’s the same goddamn thing every single—”
Ellie rose to her feet in a fury, staring at Joel head on. “Fuck you, man. I didn’t ask for this.”
“You and me fuckin’ both. We’re wastin’ daylight the more time we spend talkin’ on this nonsense. I’m done. Pack your shit up and let’s go. We’re takin’ you back to the QZ.”
Tess let out a sigh, running her fingers through her hair. “Let’s just finish this Joel. We get what we want regardless. We take her back, and we risk all 4 of us getting shot. I don’t know about you, but I still have some life worth livin.’”
Joel clenched his jaw tightly, breathing in deeply through his nose. This was not a good idea. However, we was now outnumbered by two. “If she so much as fuckin’ twitches—”
He was cut off by the obnoxious sounds of Ellie portraying a clicker. Making the snarling clicking sounds as she contorted her limbs at an uncomfortable angle.
“Ellie don’t.” You warned her.
She rubbed the back of her neck, clearing her throat as she nodded, “okay..”
The 4 of you gathered up your things to head out and just as Joel was lifting his rifle from the ground, slinging the strap over his shoulder, Ellie asked if she too could have a gun.
“Can I have a gun?”
“Absolutely fuckin’ not. Not a chance in hell.” Was Joel’s immediate response.
“Okay, Jesus fuck. Fine. I’ll just throw a fuckin’ sandwich at them or something.” She muttered under her breath as she threw her backpack strap over her shoulder.
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As the 4 of you stepped out into the warm sunlight, you watched as Ellie looked around the ruined city in amazement. Buildings half fallen over, taken hostage by thick vines and moss. There were giant craters, the size of small moons, where the government had sent bombs to slow down the rate of the infected.
Joel had come to a halt in front of the impassable wreckage blocking a quick path to the State House. “Long way or short way?”
“It’s the long way or the ‘we’re fuckin’ dead way.’” Tess added.
“Long way it is then. We’ll have to go check from the hotel first. See if the coast is clear. C’mon.” You were leading the way now, while Ellie walked alongside you, Tess in the middle, and Joel in the back.
You and Ellie engaged in small talk. You genuinely wanted the kid to feel somewhat comfortable with this entire situation and Ellie seemingly appreciated your efforts. She told you how she had gotten bit and you had to admit, this kid was pretty ballsy for her age. “Well, I mean, you got some balls on you, sister, that’s for fucking sure.”
“Thanks.” She had a grin creeping up on her face.
“Soo..no one is gonna come looking for you right? Mom, dad?..boyfriend?..”
“Uhhh well, I’m an orphan and nope.”
You could feel Joel’s eyes on the back of your skull as he walked behind you, shaking his head at your efforts to befriend this cargo.
“See, everyone told me the big open city was gonna be crazy! Infected runnin’ around everywhere. Are we even gonna see any? Cause I’ve heard there’s like super-infected that explode fungus spores on you! Is that not true?”
“Shit, I hope not. Those sound fuckin’ terrifying.” You said with a small grin.
“Okay, what about the ones that have their heads split open and can see in the dark like bats?”
“You mean clickers? Yeah, there’s lots of those. They’re the most common type that we’ve come across. Not the hardest to kill, but they use echolocation—” you were cut off by the sound of a loud, distant animalistic yell coming from deep within the fallen city.
On instinct, Joel was close to your side, looking around as you waited for another yell to follow. The only sound you could hear was a crow perched on a tree nearby.
“Let’s keep movin’” Joel spoke as he gave you a gentle nudge forward.
As you approached the hotel, Ellie had her own set of questions for you as she kicked at the stray rubble beneath her red, worn sneakers.
“So is he like..your boyfriend or somethin’?”
“My boyfriend? Well, no. Not exactly. I wouldn’t call him that if I’m being honest.”
“But you’re like together, right? I think that part is pretty obvious.”
“Yeah, we are. Just don’t think he’d particularly enjoy me calling him my boyfriend. It’s not really his taste.”
“Well, no offense to you, he doesn’t seem like the boyfriend type anyway.”
This elicited a light laugh to slip past your lips as you covered it by coughing into the sleeve of your jacket. “Oh, you’re right on the money with that one, kid. He is far from the boyfriend type.”
“But he’s like your partner then?..Your person?”
“Yeah, something along those lines. I wouldn’t go as far to put us into a box, y’know?”
“I understand..what about Tess? Does she have anyone?”
“Back in the QZ she does. She has a girlfriend named Beatrix.”
“You two done chit chattin’ up there?” Joel spoke, distaste evident in his tone.
“Yeah, we’re just makin’ the time pass is all.”
“Oh yeah? Well ain’t that fuckin’ nice for you two.” He scoffed as he walked ahead of you, stopping at the foot of the stairs looking into the overflowing of water into the once hotel lobby.
“Is he always this grumpy?” Ellie leaned over and whispered to you.
“Oh, this isn’t even the worst that you’ve seen of it, kid. Trust me.”
The 4 of you started to trudge through the green, murky water to get to the other side of the lobby. Ellie being the kid that she was, wandered off to the side when she saw what used to be the front desk and pressed on the bell a few times as she leaned over the counter. “Ding! Ding! Yes, sir. I would like your finest suite, please.” “Yes, ma’am. Would you like me to take your luggage?”
“You’re a weird kid.” Joel watched her with a quizzical expression etched on his weathered features.
“You’re a weird kid.” Ellie sarcastically responded back, nearly sticking her tongue out at him as she pushed the luggage trolley forward.
A very deceased human Skeleton slipped out from behind the trolley and scared the living daylights out of the teen. Much to yours, and Ellie’s surprise, Joel was at her side immediately, gun raised in the direction of the apparent threat.
She’s just cargo, my ass. Was the first thought that came to your mind.
Joel had offered Ellie his hand as he helped her up but as soon as their hands touched, he was ripping his away from her grasp, staring down at it momentarily with a hard expression on his face. Perhaps it was from the fact that his hand was still freshly broken. Or there was a possibility he was shocked that he even allowed himself to touch someone who was ‘infected.’
After climbing 10 flights of stairs, you were met with another obstacle that was definitely not present the last time you had come through this way. “What the fuck man. This definitely wasn’t here last time, was it?” You asked, bent over slightly as you were catching your breath.
“No, it sure as hell wasn’t. Maybe we can try one of the doors?” Tess walked past you, trying the two doors with no luck.
“Damn. Well, maybe we can go climb through it and work our way around?”
“It’s worth a shot.”
Joel had pushed Ellie to the side then, before giving you a boost up over the rubble before you helped Tess over the side, grasping her forearms as you pulled her up.
“Just be careful, alright?” He spoke as he slowly sat down on an abandoned suitcase across from Ellie.
“Yeah yeah. We’ll be fine, cowboy. Just keep an eye on the kid.” You peeked your head out from a gap in the rubble and gave him a reassuring nod, and a subtle wink.
Ellie sat across from him, flipping her switchblade and catching it by the handle each time.
“That’s a nice knife you got there. Where’d you learn to do that?” Joel asked.
“The circus.” Ellie deadpanned.
Joel let out a deep sigh, looking off to the side as he tried to figure out why he even bothered to make small talk with a teenager.
“Where are you from?” Ellie asked.
“Texas.” He gruffly responded.
“What about Tess and Gwen?”
“Detroit. It’s in Michigan and Gwen is from Chicago.”
“I go to school, smart ass. I know where Detroit is. Chicago has that giant fucking bean, right? Always wanted to see it.”
“Yeah, I’m sure she’ll tell you all about it. She’s obsessed with it. No fuckin’ clue why.”
“Uh huh. So you two like a—” Ellie already knew the answer, thanks to you. She was just slightly curious to see what Joel would respond with.
“Oh well cause she told me you guys were—”
“How’d you end up in Boston?”
“So what am I supposed to do? Talk to a fuckin’ brick wall? Fuck. She was right, you are grumpy all the time.”
“She what? God dammit Gwen.” He growled lowly under his breath. “No more questions about me, alright? That’s enough.”
“Alright, grumpy. How long do infected live?”
Joel whipped his head back around towards her, narrowing his eyes before he chuckled, “Oh, I thought you went to school.”
“Yeah, well..it’s a really shitty one.”
“Some of ‘em last about a month or two. There’s others that have been walkin’ around ‘bout 20 years.”
“Yeah? You ever kill one?”
Joel nearly scoffed at this question, almost offended that this kid even assumed that he hadn’t killed any.
“Yeah, I have killed lots of ‘em.”
“Was it hard killing them?..like, knowing they were people once? Has it ever bothered you?..”
Joel was slightly taken aback by her question. He often did forget that the infected used to be everyday people he would see on the street. Sometimes he would be forced to face humanity, and realize that he was in a sense, killing people. He wasn’t a total monster like many would have assumed him to be. He just wasn’t the most open with sharing personal details about himself.
“Sometimes. It’s easy to forget that they were once people when they’re comin’ at you with one goal in mind; to turn you into one of ‘em. So you gotta decide if it’s gonna be you, or them. You think I survived this long without havin’ to kill?” He sighed as he leaned back against the wall. “I ain’t exactly proud of it, but it’s what you gotta do to survive. It's always either gonna be you, or them.”
“What about that guy last night?”
Just as Joel was going to respond, he could hear rustling just outside the door and he was up in a flash with his gun aimed at the door.
“You can put the gun down, cowboy. It’s just us. Relax.” You spoke through the door as you pushed it open, revealing you and Tess on the other side. From the looks on your faces alone, Joel could tell that something was definitely wrong.
“What now? Did you guys see something?”
“Yeah, and you’re not gonna like it. Not one bit I’m afraid.” You confirmed.
“Fuckin’ fantastic.” He grumbled as he gently nudged past you and Tess followed by Ellie.
Shortly after, the 4 of you were standing over the ledge of the hotel, looking down at a shrieking hoard of infected, writhing on the ground below. You were standing alongside Joel, noticing that he was nervously fidgeting with his fingers and picking at the skin around his cuticles. You gently grabbed his hand, interlocking your fingers together as you gave his hand a light, reassuring squeeze.
“The last time we were here, there weren’t nearly this many of them. Most of them were still deep inside the buildings. Guess enough people came wanderin’ through looking for the QZ. They found themselves seeking shelter..went inside the buildings and that’s how they get more of the fuckin’ city bit by bit, year after year.” Tess stated, glancing over at you and Joel momentarily before looking at Ellie.
“What’re we gonna do?” You spoke quietly to him, gently stroking your thumb across the outside of his hand, leaning in close to his tall frame.
“We’re gonna have to go through the museum. We ain’t have another choice darlin.’”
“That was nearly a suicide mission the last time we went through..remember?”
“Yeah, but there’s a chance whatever is left of ‘em is dead by now. If it gets dicey, we split and figure out another way, alright? Right now, this is our only option and I ain’t lookin’ forward to it either.” he pressed a quick kiss to your forehead, just a smidge of affection that it seemed like you both needed.
“They’re connected in more ways than you know. The fungus also grows underground. Long fibers, like wires. They’re all entwined under the surface and if you step on a patch of cordyceps in one place, you can awake a dozen infected somewhere else. They know where you are and it’s only a matter of minutes before they find you. You’re not immune from being ripped apart, kid.” Tess explained.
Ellie was fully listening, soaking up all the information that Tess was providing her. The situation at hand was becoming all too real for her 14 year old self.
“We have to go through the museum. It’s the short-way and not the most ideal, nor the safest, but we ain’t have much of a choice.” Joel spoke up, letting go of your hand as he stepped forward.
“I had a really bad feelin’ you were gonna come to that conclusion Texas.” Tess spoke with a sigh.
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Ellie’s eyes nearly bugged out of her skull when she saw the amount of fungus tendrils stretched across the expanse of the outside structure of the museum. The colors were faded, not nearly as vibrant as freshly infected. Despite their obvious expiration, the building still looked ominous and uninviting.
“You’re fuckin’ kidding me. We seriously have to go through there? You sure there’s not another way man? This is screaming ‘DANGER’ like c’mon, aren’t the lights flashing in your brain right now too? Cause mine are like fuckin’ sirens.”
Joel ignored the teen as he bent down, inspecting one of the thick strands of fungus. He used the butt of his gun to stab at it to check and see if it was in fact dead. “It’s bone dry. Good chance that they’re all finally fuckin’ dead in there.” He was already pulling his flashlight out from his bag while you and Tess were pulling out your guns.
“I have a spare hand y’know.” Ellie stated the obvious.
“Congratulations.” Joel responded.
He was the first to enter the museum, rifle at the ready. When he deemed it was safe enough to enter, he turned his head towards the opening of the door and gave you a quick nod to follow.
Once the 4 of you were inside the museum, Ellie’s pupils had blown out when she saw just how much fungus coated the walls, floors, and pretty much any inanimate object. It was everywhere.
Joel was still extremely cautious where he stepped, shining his flashlight along the fungus infested floor. It appeared that the once living infected, were all deceased by now. That was until Ellie stumbled upon a fresh kill and let out a surprised, “oh shit!”
Joel was immediately stepping around her, gun raised and his face immediately fell as he looked over at you and Tess. So, maybe they weren’t all dead after all. Or maybe this guy was attacked outside the museum and just found himself to be in an unlucky situation.
The three of you began to talk in a hushed whisper over the situation. Ellie could barely decipher what was being said from how low your voices were but she caught onto the bit of the conversation regarding ‘not hearing them’ what the hell were they going on about? What were they listening for? As far as she was concerned, the museum was deathly silent.
“I don’t hear anything. Who, or what would you hear?” Ellie had suddenly asked. Joel’s response was to raise his hand off his gun, giving her a warning look to shut the fuck up with his eyes alone.
“Did an infected person do that? Cause I was attacked by one and it sure as hell didn’t do that. Dude is all torn up. I’ve never seen anything like it.” She whispered.
“Okay, from this point forward, we are silent. Not quiet. Silent.” He emphasized heavy on the silent part as he looked sternly at Ellie. He held no concern over you and Tess being silent but this kid was already becoming a nuisance in his eyes. “You got that? Not one single fuckin’ sound. This isn’t funny business, kid. This is the real fuckin’ world.” He harshly whispered.
“No. No questions. Just do what I say, alright? You wanna live to see another day, don’t you? Exactly. That’s what I thought.” He whispered as he lowered his gun and took a few silent steps to the side, locking eyes with you for a moment. Your Joel never usually showed fear. He was able to encase it well behind his hardened features. A furrow of his brow, the quirk of his upper lip, all used as decoys. Even in the low lighting, you could see his face etched with fear. Just as fast as it appeared, it was gone again, hidden behind the vast ridges of his weathered skin.
Joel had taken the lead while you silently stepped behind him, keeping your finger hovering over the trigger of your gun, ready to react if need be. You glanced back at Ellie and gave her a reassuring nod to follow you while Tess walked behind her. Despite how quiet you all were being, the old floor boards were creaking with every step your boots took.
The stairway was absolutely covered with now bone dry fungus. You couldn’t even see where the next step started from how dense the fungus was. It creeped up the walls, over paintings and the railings of the staircase. You watched Joel’s footing as he carefully stepped over a mound of once living infected. You couldn’t even make out their faces as the fungus had completely morphed them to be unidentifiable.
The sickening crunch of a once human hand beneath Ellie’s shoe had Joel whipping around, shining his flashlight that was attached to the rifle at the teenager. He gave her one long look before he turned away from her and continued to head up the stairs.
A few more steps up and Joel was at the opening of the doorway, slowly pushing it open as you waited for his silent cue. Just as he had given it to you with a slight nod of his head, some of the building's structure began to collapse and crumble as you, Tess, and Ellie stumbled inside before the debris could crush the three of you.
Joel was reaching down grasping the kids arm as he quickly helped her up from the dusty floor while you helped Tess up.
Then there was a loud screech, one that you had heard far too many times. It still sent deep chills down your spine.
click click click click
Ellie was slowly backing towards a wall, her eyes wide with fear as she tried to steady her nervous breaths.
Out from the shadows, illuminated by the steady, bright beam of Joel’s flashlight was a clicker. Its head was completely split open by the cordyceps. The brain cavern was taken over by the fungus. Thick, putrid and brightly colored. Clickers could not see, as they were blinded by the fungus, but they could hear, and they could hear very well.
Its body contorted at an uncomfortable angle as it clicked and snarled.
Another screech was heard;two clickers.
Joel was already quickly nudging you against the glass case. His face constricted painfully in your view. This was not an ideal situation to be in. Not one fucking bit.
Ellie was in his direct eyesight and he quickly mouthed to her, “they can’t see, but they can hear.”
The clicker let out a loud, bone chilling growl from the other side of the glass case. You found yourself squeezing your eyes shut momentarily, holding your gun firmly against your chest.
Don’t make a sound. Don’t move. Don’t make a sound. Don’t move.
Joel had slowly brought his pointer finger to his lips, keeping his eyes locked on Ellie to keep her calm.
You could feel the teenager's anxiety, and fear rising with every second and you silently pleaded with her to stay strong.
Joel had turned his head slightly as the clicker stumbled around the side of the glass display case. It was so close you could nearly feel its putrid breath on your skin.
Ellie had let a sharp breath slip past her lips and it was loud enough for the clicker to hear her.
It all happened in a flash as the clicker turned around and screeched loudly before it lunged. Joel had gotten a few shots into its body from where he stood, but it wasn’t nearly enough to inflict any serious damage. “RUN!” he yelled as the other clicker appeared from the shadows. You shot at it once before grabbing Ellie’s arm firmly in your grasp.
Tess had taken a couple more shots before she followed behind you. The three of you ran around the corner, hearts racing and blood fiercely pumping. The clicker was hot on your tail and gaining on you quickly. In one quick movement, you shoved Ellie to the ground, ordering her to crawl to safety.
You and Tess turned to shoot again, but neither of you had time to aim and wasting bullets was the last thing you wanted to do.
You both could hear a loud crash from the other side of the room and Joel’s heavy boots before everything went silent again.
click click click click
Joel had taken cover behind another glass cabinet as he quickly unloaded and reloaded his small pistol. His senses were on overdrive when he heard the low clicks approaching. His eyes squeezed shut momentarily, thinking that his cover was blown.
The clicker had let out a low snarl before it stalked in the other direction and he could barely make out Ellie’s crouched form behind the tarnished glass.
His footsteps were quiet, calculated and precise as he moved from his hiding spot and crouched beside Ellie. He had no other choice but to get her out of this situation. It was almost as if in those crucial moments, his protective nature had completely taken over. He was going to get this kid out of here, unscathed if it was the last thing he ever did.
Him and Ellie silently communicated with their eyes alone. One tilt of his head and she was quietly moving along the side of the glass case, following his lead. Just when he thought they were in the clear, something had crunched beneath his boot. It was stray shards of glass. His blood ran cold at the crunching sound. Neither him, nor Ellie had time to react as the clicker lunged over the glass case and threw itself on them.
You could hear Joel’s grunts and Ellie’s terrified screams from where you stood behind a nearby wall. You were going to have to act fast if you were to save them both.
bang bang bang
Joel had pumped the clicker with lead, causing it to stumble backwards, allowing him and Ellie to scramble to their feet.
You peeked around the corner, taking aim at the clicker's head before you pulled the trigger and sent it stumbling to the ground. Even after its body hit the floor with a sickening thud, Joel pulled his own trigger a few more times till it was no longer moving.
The second clicker came charging out of the blue, but didn’t make it far as Tess had thrown an ax at its neck, and you finished it off with a bullet to the head.
Once the apparent threat was deceased, everyone let out a shaky breath. From where you were standing, you could tell Tess was injured from the way she was avoiding putting too much weight on one foot. “You alright?”
“Just a twisted ankle, I’ll live. Don’t worry.” She responded.
“Fuck me.” Ellie exclaimed as she lifted up the sleeve of her hoodie and revealed a fresh bleeding bite mark along her forearm. “I mean, if it was gonna happen to one of us..”
You were at her side then and gently tugged her sleeve down. “Let’s get the fuck out of here.”
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Tess’s final and only request
You sat alongside on the roof, pulling out a roll of duct tape from your bag as she pulled off her boot. You wasted no time to start to wrap her foot with the tape. “Just a sprained ankle you said? Nothin’ else?” You asked, looking up at the older woman momentarily.
“Yeah, just a sprained ankle Gwen. I’ll be fine.” Tess looked at you as if she was studying your features. As if she was storing your image deep inside her brain so that she wouldn’t forget you, or your face.
Joel had given the kid a piece of cloth to wrap her arm before he was crouching down on the other side of Tess. “You can walk, right? Ain’t need any help?”
She looked at him the same way she had just looked at you. She wanted to keep your memories up to the very last second. “I’m fine, Texas. Really. Go on and make sure she doesn’t accidentally kill herself or somethin.’”
He gave her a small nod before he stood back up. “Yeah, I know. It looks scary and all but it really ain’t that bad.”
Ellie turned around briefly to look at him before she responded, “no. That was scary. This is wood.” Before she stepped across the thin planks to the otherside.
You gave Tess’s arm a light squeeze before you followed after the kid, glancing back at them momentarily before you crossed over the narrow planks of wood.
“What if the first bite didn’t take? What if the second one does? We’re in way over our fuckin’ heads with this Tess. We all could have fuckin’ died back there and—” Joel was cut off by Tess snapping back at him.
“How ‘bout you just take the good news? Can you please just do that for once? None of us are dead. We’re gonna finish what we started Joel.”
He looked at her briefly, trying to decipher what had ticked her off so easily before he let out a sigh and grabbed his rifle from where it laid on the discolored roof tiles and slung it back over his shoulder.
I failed them. I failed them both. I failed Bea. Tess silently thought to herself as she pulled her knees up to her chest, taking in a few shaky breaths.
Joel crossed over the planks and stood alongside Ellie.
“Is it everything you hoped for?” He asked.
“Jury’s still out.”
“But, man, you can’t deny that view.” Ellie concluded.
You were reloading your gun off to the side, glancing over your shoulder to see Tess approaching. Her demeanor alone was a sure signal that something was off. You just couldn’t figure out what exactly had happened back there. It was going to drive you up a wall, not knowing. You were sure of it.
“C’mon, let’s get there before it’s dark. We’re wasting daylight. Let’s go.” Tess gritted out between her teeth as she was already climbing down the old steel ladder. Her erratic movements threw you off guard completely.
You stopped alongside Joel, brushing your hand across the outside of his bicep before you followed Tess and Ellie down the ladder.
Joel waited a few moments in silence as he glanced down at his broken watch strapped around his wrist before he grabbed the side of the ladder and climbed down.
They’re gonna hate me.
They’ll see right through me.
What will Bea think?
Will she think me to be dead?
I let her down too.
She’ll never know what has become of me.
I won’t turn into a monster.
I won’t become one of them.
Tess was leading the way to the state house. Her footsteps were uncharacteristically fast. She seemed on edge, nervous, sporadic.
The 4 of you were crouched behind a long abandoned car outside of the state house. There was a large military grade truck parked outside. However, there were no signs of weapons, or the fireflies.
“Where the fuck are they? Marlene said they would be here. She fuckin’ promised us.” Tess whispered.
“Everyone just stay here. Alright? Somethin’ ain’t right here.” Joel whispered back before he crept from behind the car to investigate. Once he approached the truck, the 3 of you took a bated breath as he opened the door, aiming the barrel of his gun at the inside of the truck. He was met with blood stained seats but no fireflies.
The side of the open truck door was spattered with blood dripping down the dull metal.
Something definitely was not right here.
Joel had glanced back at you and Tess, shaking his head slightly to signal that it wasn’t safe just yet as he crept around the back of the truck slowly. He took a deep, visible breath as he opened up the two heavy steel doors and was met with no signs of any passengers inhabiting the vehicle.
“What the fuck is goin’ on Joel?” Tess asked as she walked towards him, brushing off your hand along your arm.
“The fuck did I just say about stayin’ back? It ain’t safe! Why didn’t you wait for my–”
“They went inside.” Ellie confirmed from where she was standing. There was a trail of blood leading up the gravel steps to the state house. This definitely was not a good sign at all.
Tess was already heading up the steps in a fury. From where you stood, you could see her hands trembling. “Come on!”
“Tess just wait a fuckin’ minute! By the looks of it, the fireflies are dead and we ain’t gettin’ our battery!” Joel yelled at her to stop.
“Come on!” She was insistent with her tone.
You, Joel, and Ellie had no choice but to follow Tess into the state house. Once inside, you were all met with the bodies of the deceased fireflies, all in a circle in the room. Their crimson blood spilled out along the tiles, staining them in a dark red.
“I mean, there’s gotta be a fuckin’ radio or somethin’ right? Help me look for one!” Tess spoke in a rushed tone as she frantically started looking through the deceased fireflies supplies, knocking over items onto the tile below, creating all sorts of noise.
“Tess? What the fuck is going on with you?” There was an edge to your tone as you came up alongside the older woman. “Maybe Joel was right..maybe we should go back to the QZ and regroup.”
“Fuck that. We’ve made it this far, and now you want to turn back? No. Help me find a radio, Gwen! There’s gotta be one around here. There has to be!”
Joel had noticed that one of the deceased fireflies had clearly been bit as he used his boot to tilt its head to the side.
“Tess, what the fuck are you doin’?” He asked while he watched her rummage around in a fury.
“Where did Marlene say she was taking you? Ellie! Where did she fuckin’ say she was taking you?” Tess ignored Joel as she walked over to the teen and you instinctively stepped in front of Ellie.
“Uhh..I don’t know. All she told me is that she was taking me west but she didn't say where exactly.”
“Just west? Fuck. Okay. She didn’t tell you anythin’ else?” Tess wasn’t even looking at you. Her eyes were frantically searching the expanse of the room. “Well, I mean, one of them’s gotta have a map on them, right? Joel? Gwen? Can you fuckin’ help me?! Stop just standin’ around!” She snapped as she started searching for anything she could find on the deceased bodies.
“No! Tess..it’s over. We are goin’ home, alright? We are way over our heads, bit off more than we can chew. We’ll go back to the QZ and–”
“That’s not my fucking home!” Tess snapped. “I’m stayin.”
“What the hell do you mean you’re stayin’? What the hell has gotten into you?! You’re actin’ fuckin’ weird! Why won’t you even look at us?!” Joel spoke exasperatedly.
Your blood suddenly ran cold. You figured out why Tess’s behavior was so sporadic and uncharacteristic for her just as Ellie had figured it out too.
“Fuck. She’s infected.” Ellie spoke softly, the realization washing over her.
Joel looked at Tess then and felt his world suddenly begin to cave in, all at once. Just before he could open his mouth to speak, you were stepping in front of him, feeling your heart pounding out of your chest.
“No. Tell me it's not true, Tess. Fucking tell me its not true!” You pleaded with her, as Joel was already protectively pulling you back behind him.
“Show me. Show me your fuckin’ arm Tess.” He demanded and when she took a step towards him, he immediately took one back. He did his best to ignore the pained look that struck across Tess’s features.
Tess let out a sigh as she drew her hand up to the collar of her jacket and pulled the fabric back to reveal the fresh bite mark along the base of her neck, along her collar bone. You could see the veins of the fungus growing up her neck already. There was only a matter of time before she would be completely gone.
“Oops, right?” She said with a pained laugh, tears threatening to spill over.
You pushed Joel out of the way once more, you weren’t afraid of Tess. She wasn’t a monster. She was still human. She was still breathing, pumping blood through her veins. “You can’t fuckin’ die. You can’t! Tess…what about Bea? You–” Your own tears had threatened to spill over as you shakily grasped the collar of Tess’s jacket between your fingers. “This wasn’t supposed to happen to you!”
You could feel Joel grabbing your forearm, trying to yank you back. “Let me the fuck go!” You snapped, ripping your arm from his firm grasp.
Tess was hugging you, nearly knocking the air from your lungs. You could feel her entire body trembling as she held you. “You fuckin’ listen to me okay? I haven’t got much time. You protect him, okay? Please protect him Gwen. He’s going to need you more than ever now. No matter what happens, no matter what he says, please don’t leave him. Keep him safe. Please.” She whispered, squeezing you tightly.
“Tess, I–”
“Promise me Gwen. Promise me you’ll be there for him”
“I promise.” You whispered.
“Tell Bea that I love her, and I'm sorry.”
Tess released you from her grip and frantically pushed you away as she stumbled back.
She addressed Joel directly now, balling her hands into fists, to ease the trembling. “Ellie. Take your bandage off.” She asked with a shaky breath, walking over to the teen as she grabbed her forearm in a firm grip.
“This is real. Joel, she’s fucking real. Look at her arm!” She let go of Ellie’s arm and brought it down to her side. Her forearm was twitching, trembling as the cordyceps were quickly invading her nervous system.
“You get her to Bill and Franks. You load up on ammo, and you take her out West. You find Tommy and the fireflies.”
“There is no time to fuckin’ argue with me! You take her to Bill and Franks. I’ve never asked anything of you Joel. Never asked you to feel a certain way about me.”
He went to open his mouth but she immediately cut him off.
“No. You shut the fuck up and listen to me ‘cause I don’t have time. This is your chance to do some fuckin’ good for once. To make up for all the fucked up shit we did. You keep her alive. You keep her safe. You hear me? You set everything right.”
“Tess, No. I can’t fuckin’ do that.”
“Yes you fuckin’ can Joel. Please say yes, Joel, please fucking say yes.” She pleaded with him, a stray tear rolling down her cheek .
“Oh fuck!” Ellie yelled as one of the presumed deceased bodies snarled, clawing at the ground.
Joel wasted no time to pull his gun out, aiming it at the infected and pulled the trigger, sending a bullet straight to its head as it collapsed down to the mossy floor.
fuck fuck fuck.
The tendrils of the cordycep fungus rose up between the deceased fingers, and it dawned upon you that the infected were more connected than you could possibly understand. The fungus was weaved intricately below the surface, webbed together in a firm structure.
You could hear the approaching snarls from outside the wooden doors.
They were coming.
Tess was already moving around you, using the butt end of Joel’s rifle to open up the large barrels of gasoline, spilling the flammable liquid onto the tile. She was working off pure adrenaline as she knocked over each barrel. She tossed a box filled with grenades onto the floor.
The realization that Joel was losing another person who was so important, so close to his heart, was crashing down on him. He could hear his blood pounding in his ears. His eyes and mind went blank as Tess approached him. “Joel…save who you can save.” She whispered her final plea to him. These were her last words spoken in the walking, living realm.
Joel understood, as he searched her eyes. He seared her memory into the deep cavern of his brain. He would never forget her and he refused to let her down.
In a flash he had grabbed Ellie’s arm in his one hand and yours in the other, immediately yanking both of you away from the immediate danger.
“No! We’re not leaving her! We can’t! Get off me, you fucker!” Ellie yelled as she clawed at him, trying to pull her arm from his grasp.
You stumbled after him, frantically looking over your shoulder at Tess for the very last time. She gave you a small smile, followed by a reassuring nod before her face was obstructed from your view as Joel pulled you and Ellie outside, to safety.
All you hoped for was that Tess went peacefully. That she didn’t die in fear. You hoped that she died with memories of you, Joel, and Bea. Tess deserved that. She deserved to die peacefully, painlessly. You loved her to her very last moments.
Moments after Joel pulled you and Ellie outside, there was a loud explosion of breaking glass, and bright flames. The sound had Joel throwing his body over you and Ellie protectively. You could hear the distant screams of the infected suffering in the hot flames, and billowing smoke. You hoped to god that Tess wasn’t one of those blood curdling screams.
Joel immediately had his gun raised, ready to shoot down any stray infected. There were none. They were all dead. Tess had sacrificed herself for your lives. She gave you a fighting chance and you’d never forget her bravery.
You brought your arm around Ellie’s shaken up frame, giving her a firm squeeze. You kept her close as you turned her body away from the destruction and death.
Joel had already walked away as he could feel tears begin to prick in the corner of his eyes. He quickly blinked them away as he slung his rifle over his shoulder.
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The three of you were dead silent as you walked into the nearby woods. Your mind felt numb, and your heart was raw. Tess had so much more life ahead of her to live. She had friends, a lover, and a purpose. She was smart, witty, and brave. She fought for those she loved, till her dying breath.
Joel was crouched down alongside the river, far away from you and Ellie. He was reaching into the clear stream, picking up rocks below the surface and gently stacking them upon one another. He was creating a cairn in her memory. A silent memorial for her short life. He thought of her as he placed each stone on top of one another.
I’m sorry. I should have done more. I should have been quicker. I should have protected you. I let you down. I failed you.
Your approach towards Joel was hesitant. You had no idea how he was going to react to your attempt to comfort him. You knew he didn’t handle loss, of any kind, well. You refused to let him suffer alone. He had his moment where he could mourn in peace. You wouldn’t take that moment from him. He deserved it. You both did. Despite this, your heart pulled you towards him. You had to make sure he was okay. You needed each other more than ever now. Tess’s words echoed in your mind with each step you took. “No matter what happens, no matter what he says, please don’t leave him. Keep him safe. Please.”
Joel could hear your footsteps slowly approach. His back immediately tensed up at the sound of your boots crunching under stray twigs. His heart yearned for your touch, your comfort. His mind was scrambled. It screamed for him to shut you out. This was your fault, after all. You insisted they take the kid from the get-go. In his eyes, and his fragile mind, Tess was dead because of you.
He squeezed his eyes shut when he felt the warm expanse of your palm press between his shoulder blades. His breath trembled as he fought hard to not lean into your touch.
“Don’t fuckin’ touch me.” He hissed lowly, keeping himself facing the stream.
“Joel, Please..Don’t—”
“Don’t what? It’s your fuckin’ fault that Tess is dead.” He harshly whispered, clenching his jaw tightly as he let his toxic thoughts slip through his broken, cracked lips.
His words felt like a thousand knives stabbing you in the heart over, and over again. You took a shaky inhale, remembering Tess’s final request to you.
“You don’t mean that. You don’t mean that Joel. You’re upset..let me–”
He whipped around to face you, his eyes narrowed into slits as he rose to his feet, towering over you. “I fuckin’ mean every goddamn word. You insisted from the get-go that we take this fuckin’ kid. I told you it was a bad idea. See what happens when you try to be the fuckin’ hero, Gwen?”
You took a step back from him, feeling your own tears threatening to spill over. “Stop. Please fucking stop! I am not at fault for Tess’s death! Neither of us could have predicted this to happen Joel!”
“I fuckin’ told you that we should just take her back to the QZ! What do you do instead? You fight against me, tooth and fuckin’ nail! Every goddamn fuckin’ time. Why couldn’t you have just listened to me for once in your goddamn life!” He spat, taking two heavy steps towards you.
“Because Ellie is just a fuckin’ kid! She’s just a kid that is now OUR responsibility! Tess agreed that we shouldn’t take her back to the QZ! She agreed with me, Joel!”
He scoffed, shaking his head as he let out a deep chuckle.
“Do you fuckin’ hear yourself right now?! Fuckin’ take some accountability for your fuckin’ actions! Tess is dead because of you! Bea is never going to see her again, because you wanted to fuckin’ save this kid, this cargo! How does it feel, huh? Are you fuckin’ happy with yourself Gwen? Do you feel fuckin’ good inside right now baby?! TELL ME HOW IT FUCKIN’ FEELS!”
Joel’s booming voice rattled your skull, and pierced your heart. You physically felt yourself cowering away from him, shrinking in on yourself.
Ellie had heard Joel’s yell from where she was sitting against a nearby tree. She was up and running to your aid immediately. You watched as the teen shoved at Joel with her hands, pushing him back with rage filled in her tear brimmed eyes.
“Hey! Leave her alone, you fucker! Leave her alone! It’s not her fucking fault! LEAVE HER ALONE!” Ellie yelled as she shoved his chest as hard as she could.
Joel was grabbing the teens wrists in his calloused palms, immediately shoving her away.
“You fuckin’ stay out of this kid! This ain’t your fuckin’ business!” He felt his pulse drop when he heard the familiar click of your gun perched firmly between your shaking hands. The barrel was shakily aimed at him.
“You gonna fuckin’ shoot me?”
“If you lay your hands on her again, I won’t hesitate.”
“You’re breakin’ my fuckin’ heart baby.”He seethed between his gritted teeth.
“Gwen..” Ellie pleaded with you.
“It’s okay, kid. I will handle this, okay? Please just...just go sit down. Please.” You whispered, giving the teen a reassuring nod that everything would be okay. Joel would never hurt you. He would never dare.
Ellie looked between you, and the brooding man before she reluctantly nodded, walking away.
Your gun was still aimed at your lover as your tears continued to fall. “How fucking dare you speak to me like this Joel. What the fuck is wrong with you?!? How dare you speak to Ellie like that! She has done NOTHING to you, Joel!”
He took a few menacing steps towards you, feeling the barrel of your gun pressed firmly against the cavern of his chest. Your lower lip was trembling, your eyes glassy with tears as you looked up at him.
“You gonna pull that fuckin’ trigger baby? You gonna pump me full of lead?”
“You know I can’t Joel. You know I fuckin’ can’t.” You whispered shakily.
“Just like you can’t fuckin’ admit that you’re the reason Tess is dead. Can’t own up to your fuckin’ actions to save your life.”
“Please stop Joel. Please. I’m begging you to please fucking stop. You’re hurting me. You’re fucking hurting me!” You yelled. Your tone was raw, heartbroken, beaten.
“Who are you fuckin’ shedding those tears for, huh?! You shedding those tears for Tess? She hated you! You know she fuckin’ hated you with every fibre in her fuckin’ being! You don’t get to cry for her! She meant NOTHING to you. Don’t stand there and act like she did! You don’t get to weep and feel sorry for YOURSELF!”
The barrel of your gun was pushing so deep into his chest now. Surely there would be a bruise of some sort forming but it was clear he didn’t give a fuck about that. Not even in the slightest. He felt his heart screaming at him to stop but it was too late. The words were spoken and they were etched deep into your own heart. Joel had gone and done the unforgivable.
“Fuck You. You don’t get to stand there and tell me how I'm allowed to feel Joel! She was my fucking FRIEND too! We had our differences, and we overcame them! I fucking loved her and YOU don’t get to take that away from me! YOU DON’T HAVE THE POWER TO TELL ME HOW I CAN AND CAN’T FEEL!”
Joel’s breaths were coming out in heavy puffs, fanning your face as you watched his nostrils flare, and his fists clenched tightly at his sides. Deep down, he knew this wasn’t an argument to win. He was just devastated that he lost someone so close to him. He never learned how to handle loss well, his old habits, and toxic feelings welcomed him in with soft whispers, and warm touches.
This was not your Joel.
“Gwen…” He whispered.
“No. Fuck you. You don’t get to say all that, speak to me that way, and take it all back. You don’t get to fuckin’ do that Joel.”
“Baby, I’m sorry I didn’t–”
“Gwen. You know I didn’t mean it..I lashed out, but I didn’t mean any of it! I got you, you got me, Always. Remember? I’m so sorry I–”
As soon as he was reaching out for you, you harshly pushed him away, pressing the barrel of the gun further into his chest.
“You’ll never fucking touch me again Joel. Never.” You whispered.
You removed the barrel of the gun from his chest, pointing it upwards towards the sky, before you pulled the trigger.
The deafening sound of the bullet being released and cracking through the cool air had him flinching.
You wanted him to know that you could have pulled the trigger on him. You loved that man too much to hurt him. You could never.
“Stay the fuck away from me. Don’t you dare come near me.” You seethed, tucking your gun back into the holster around your waist before you turned on your heel, and walked away from him.
Joel was left standing near the rivers edge, watching as you walked far, far away from him.
‘Cause do I love you..Oh, I do..and I'm going to ‘til I'm gone…’
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Tag list:
@chaotic-mystery @peterhollandkait @yuly @soft-cryptids @dinsdjrn @myrealmofchaos @itskenziebb @lovers-liability @korynnekorynne @ems-alexandra @kirsteng42 @casssiopeia @novemberrain-writes @goodwithcheese @loquaciousferret @sarahhxx03 @777-wonders @bearsbeetsbeskar @beskarandblasters @dinsdjrn @bonglorddaryl @mirasantidotes @luvrking @finnsbubblegum @pedrostories
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goldenlikedayl1ght · 23 days
bound for n.y.c - g. van fleet
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a/n: hi everybody! i’m back with a cool 3.6k fic about the one, the only, greta van fleet! i am seeing them at msg next week and am so excited that i just wanted to write a quick fic. please note that there’s no set ship and that it’s sort of implied that reader is in love with all members of the band and all the band members are into reader and NOT EACHOTHER. except maybe sammy and danny. let me know if y’all want anymore of these types of fic, idk maybe it’ll flop. also this is kind of fast paced and i am very sorry for that warnings: kissing, physical touch, mentions of anxiety and stress, complicated love triangles, food mentions, reader has a stepdad and a good relationship with their mom, reader being from ny, i think reader is fully gender neutral with maybe a few feminine traits but no real descriptors. also reader has tattoos and mentions of a dog that is no longer with us! no use of y/n, one mention of drugs, a bunch of references to sex, and cursing :0 word count: 3.6k summary: as tour manager, it's your job to get the boys to new york city, your home town. just don't fall in love with them, or anything. now playing: runway blues – greta van fleet
Being tour manager for America’s favorite Led Zeplin cover band, or at least, that’s what your judgmental bitch of a landlord called them once, was surprisingly difficult.
You were constantly running around after the four of them, feeling often more like a nanny than a tour manager. Especially at first. You had started meeting with them a few weeks before their World Starcatcher tour had begun, where you wore these professional, stuffy outfits. They had been referred to you by their makeup artist, who you had known from when you were an assistant to the tour manager of Phoebe Bridgers’ 2022 reunion tour.
You had been working for a producer when you got the call. Truthfully, you missed touring. It was a great way to see different parts of the country and the world, and you thrived in the chaotic environment. And you had heard of Greta Van Fleet, mostly from your grandfather, who was a huge classic rock fan, and always exploring new music via his iPad.
But you started out rather cooperating with them, wearing these stuffy outfits—Mostly long button ups and pencil skirts, while the boys showed up in comfortable casual clothes, always joking about you having to loosen up a bit.
And one notoriously hot day in early July, you showed up in shorts and a muscle tee to meet with them to go over the final dates of the tour before you all gave your go ahead to the social media manager.
You didn’t do much talking about the tour that meeting, opting instead to answer questions about your tattoos, your taste in music, your life to this point. And in exchange, they gave you pieces of themselves.
“I’m from New York,” You had answered over some late afternoon drinks. “I haven’t been home since Christmas, So I’m excited to see my family when we’re there.”
Josh’s fingers traced your upper arm, over a tattoo of your long-gone dog. “Will we get to meet this little guy?” He asks.
You only chuckled, “No, this one died while I was in college. Best dog I ever had.” You said solemnly.
And that was it. One comment about your dog and the boys were hooked on you forever. And when the tour started, you only grew closer— Sharing with them parts of your childhood, Jake teaching you the very basics of guitar, Josh taking shots with you before shows, Danny bringing you coffee to cope with those shots the next morning, and Sam holding your hand when he’s anxious, or when you’re anxious—or both.
So, by the time you make it to the boys’ first show at the Garden, you’ve developed a routine.
The bus leaves by seven a.m. from the hotel in D.C. to get to New York by nine, nine-thirty-ish. You’re craving a sausage, egg, and cheese on a bagel from your favorite deli near where your mom lives, about an hour outside of the city.
So, you wake Jake up first, as he takes the longest to really wake up, and you’re sure you’ll have to shake him awake at least twice before he really gets up for the day. Then, you go to make sure Josh is up, and hear his shower going by the time you get to it. Good.
Then, you head to Sam, who is snoring away with Rosie. You almost don’t have the heart to wake him up. Almost. But Rosie senses your presence and stands up in bed, starting to lick his face. He groans, mumbling a soft, “I’m up, Rose, I know.” You feel good when you head over to Danny.
But thankfully, he’s already up. He’s in bed, writing in his notebook when you get there, sipping his coffee and all packed up for the road. His hair is tied up in a bun, and you’re entirely grateful that he’s so good at this whole thing.
Usually, you don’t need to wake each of them up, but every few shows, the five of you, as well as other crew members, indulge in the after party. And last night was your turn to be the D.R.O. Designated responsible one.
Eventually, you get all four of them downstairs and on the bus, no real difficulties. You all climb onto the bus and begin the drive to your home state. And you can hardly take the anticipation. Seeing your family again, visiting your favorite spots, and getting a homecooked meal was keeping you going. You had moved to California for school, before traveling on a few tours, and then settling for about a year in Nashville. But you ached for New York.
While your boys busied themselves with talk, games, and music, you stared out the window, biting your thumb and ignoring the reruns of Daredevil that played on your laptop in front of you. And apparently, you were bouncing your leg intensely, because the only thing that snapped you out of your thoughts was Rosie’s head on your thigh to relax you.
You scratched her head, sighing as you closed your computer, before glancing up to the boys, who had gone suspiciously quiet.
“What?” you asked, giving them a concerned look.
“You know we’ll make it to New York, right?” Sam asked, “You’ll be there soon.” He said, holding your hand, just like he always did when you were anxious.
“I know, I’m just—I miss home. And I love touring, and usually I’m never like this, but when I realized I’d be seeing my mom after months, I just... It made me start focusing a lot more on the fact that I miss it.”
You knew they’d get it. Michigan had been their home for years, and although they loved Nashville just like you did, you knew they left a part of themselves in Frankenmuth, just as you had in New York.
Danny tossed you a blanket, “Get some sleep, Sugar. You’ll need it.” he said softly. You nodded, too anxious and tired to argue any further than that. You cuddled up to Sam, Rosie finding her way in between your legs to further comfort you.
As you drifted off, you thought about your relationship with them. Things like Sam’s holding your hand and cuddling, Danny’s very often kisses to your forehead, Jake’s gentle hugs from behind, and Josh’s well—Josh’s everything, he’s a very affectionate young man—had been, for the most part, strictly platonic. You had thought about it. Kissing one of them, asking to break the professional lines of your relationship, however blurred those had become.
But it was more than that. Over the past few months of knowing them, it had developed from you getting them from place to place, into a softer, more tender relationship. The relationship you had formed with them was something you had been desperately lacking and needing. You had only realized that you missed it when you got it from them.
You were all real true soulmates.
You woke up to the sound of a loud series of honks and yelling from outside the bus. You peeked out of the window to see people screaming at each other, thousands of people making their way to work, and tall skyscrapers overhead.
“Jesus Christ, it smells like someone died!” Jake complained, as the rest of the boys agreed on the smell being horrid. It made you grin. You were home.
You stretched and pulled out your phone, checking the itinerary for the day that you had written out in your note’s app the night before. And you were right on schedule, since you accounted for traffic getting here. It was around noon, so you decided to head over to the hotel to get settled in before the show.
Except when you got there, the lady at the front desk informed you there were no rooms booked under the name you had given them. Which was insane, because you booked a room months ago knowing how expensive and unpredictable the city was.
So here you were, a show that night, with no hotel room, and a group of hungry twenty-something year olds. You were going to scream. And they could see it on you, your muscles tense, as you struggled to not start shaking.
Josh rested a hand on your arm, rubbing his thumb gently against it as he wrapped his other arm around your shoulders. “Deep breathes, Baby. You made that reservation; these guys are just a bunch of fucking fucks.” And it made you laugh, enough to relax you. You took another minute to think, before turning back to the rest of the guys.
“Okay, here’s the plan. We must be at the Garden for soundcheck and costumes, hair, and makeup by five thirty. We’ll go there now, drop off our bags and we can go grab pizza and garlic knots at this spot I know, good and are very cool with service dogs.” You said, unable to think of a scenario where you leave Rosie anywhere except with Sam. “While we’re there, I’ll make a call, since I think I know where we can stay if you guys don’t mind a bit of a drive after the show.” No one objected, they simply got back on the bus as instructed, and headed to enact that plan.
After dropping off your things and making it to the pizza place, you step outside for that call, telling Jake to just order you a soda. The phone rings. Once. Twice. And on the third call, your mom answers, excitedly saying your name.
“Where are you guys? Did you make it to the hotel okay?” she asks, and your face melts at the softness.
“Hey, Mom, we’re in the city, getting some lunch. Listen, the hotel messed up our reservation, and now we’re looking for a new place to stay... I know it’s last minute, but—” And before you can ask it, she cuts you off.
“Well, you five can stay here! We have the guest room, your room and your brother’s room.” She decides. “I’ll cook, do they like sausage and peppers?”
“Mom, you don’t have to, it’s gonna be late when we get in.”
“And you still need to eat. I’ll see you tonight, okay? I love you baby, break a leg tonight.” She advises, even though you aren’t the one preforming.
“Alright, I love you, mom.” You hang up and head back inside, settling into your seat next to Josh, just as the waitress comes back to take your order. “We’ll have a large cheese pizza with half mushrooms, please. And a dozen and a half garlic knots.” You say coolly, not giving the boys a chance at all. You love this restaurant. It’s best you order anyways.
They all stare at you for a few seconds before you smile. “You all get to meet my mom tonight.”
“Don’t you think we should have a couple of dates before we meet your mom?” Danny asks, and it makes you giggle.
“What do you think this is?” You tease.
Lunch goes really well, and after a bit of tourism and some drinks around the city, you make it to Madison Square Garden to get them ready for the show. For a brief few hours, you have a break. Usually, you spend it catching up on some work, having some quiet time, or anything of the sort. But this is their debut at the Madison Square Garden, in your hometown. You feel an obligation to watch the show.
Before the show begins, as Josh and Jake are getting their makeup done, you relax with Sam and Danny on a couch somewhere backstage. When Jake is done, he steals your phone off the table, and holds it up to take a photo of the three of you. Sam and Danny lean in and each kiss one of your cheeks, and it makes you roll your eyes for a second before you smile at the camera, letting them be all lovely dovey and affectionate, like a bunch of freaks. Your freaks.  
When the show starts, you watch from the sidelines, cheering for them and generally enjoying the show, because you just know how important this is for them. And you eat it right up, watching your boys perform at a dream venue for so many artists.
Before they start Highway Tune, Josh starts speaking to the crowd. “This is a very special show for us. Our debut at The Garden. The Garden, how about that?” He hums. “And we’re also playing in our tour manager’s hometown... So, we have some special surprises for you in their honor.” The crowd goes wild, and your face flushes, giggling at the idea of them performing a special show just for you.
The show goes by quicker than you would like it to, because you’re enjoying it too much. And you’re really understanding suddenly why so many people are down bad for them online. They look really fucking good. When they get off stage, you just want to cling onto them or make out with them or worse, and then they go back on for the encore and it leaves you longing, wanting for more.
What the fuck is happening to you?
You get caught up in this feeling to the point where the next hour or two—Waiting for the crowds to clear out, for them to get undressed, for the bus to get there—fly by, and before you know it, you’re in the bus again, heading to your moms. Josh lays his head on your lap, and Sam has found himself cuddled up against you. Danny is leaning against Jake across from you, and Jake is just staring at you. He has a familiar look in his eyes, and you just stare back.
When you make it to your home, while all the houses are dark and quiet, the kitchen and living room light is on when you make it to your home. The bus driver has family in the area, so he’ll stay with them for the night, and pick you up early on Thursday Morning, giving you all a break from the crazy travel days.
Your mom is in the kitchen when you come in, having late night coffee and tea with your stepdad. She hears you come in and gets excited, greeting you all at the door. She pulls you in for a hug and a kiss, holding onto you for a little while, just excited to see you. When she pulls away, she grins at the boys.
“And who are these lovely young men?” she asks, teasingly.
In a deadpan voice, you respond, “The cokehead rockstars I’ve been traveling with. I’m their groupie.” You say, and she scoffs at your sarcasm.
Josh smiles, “That’s us, Baby!” He opens his arms to your mom, and she gladly hugs him as a greeting, despite this being their first meeting. And there it is again, that aching feeling you had, when you watched them perform tonight, the same feeling that followed you home. After hugs and introductions, you’re all at the dinner table, gobbling down the dinner your mom made for you. You can almost cry, enjoying the taste of her cooking after months without it.
And the boys enjoy it too, loving a filling meal after a busy show. When you have all finished eating, you make your way up to your respective rooms. You stick Danny and Sam in the guest room, Jake sleeps in your brother’s room, and Josh in your bed, with you. You could almost die.
You take out your earrings and then you lay down. Your arms are exposed, showing off the tattoos you have once more. Josh sleeps in his boxers and a tee shirt, even though your room is chilly. He lays next to you and begins tracing his fingers over your tattoos.
“What’s this one?” he asks, tracing over a ghost that’s on your forearm, right above your elbow.
“Got it during the final show of Phoebe’s tour. She has a similar one somewhere, and I guess it was my way of commemorating the tour.” You explain. He hums, and moves to a different one, asking you the origin of that one. This goes on for a while, before you kiss his palm and tell him to get some sleep.
He falls asleep quickly, and you just stare at him through the darkness. ‘Are you dreaming of me?’ You want to ask, a hand reaching out to run your hands through those vicious curls. Before you know what, you’re doing, you cuddle up to him, laying your head on his chest. When you feel his arms wrapped around you, you begin to drift off, confident that you did not overstep any boundaries.
When the morning strikes, you get up and realize Josh is still asleep. You wiggle out of his arms and leave the room. You must be lost in thought because you bump flat into someone without even noticing. It’s Danny. His hair is wrapped up in a towel, and he only wears a towel around his waist.  
He reminds you of that one video of Slash from the golden age of Guns N Roses, and it stirs something deep inside of you.
But he just chuckles and kisses your forehead gently. “Hey, sweets.” he says softly, in that raspy morning voice.
“Good morning.” You respond. “Sorry for interrupting.”
“You didn’t interrupt anything; you don’t have to apologize.” He advises. “See you downstairs.” You take a cold shower just to get out of your own head before heading downstairs, where you meet your mom, Jake, Sam, and Danny laughing and eating French toast, as your stepdad cooks in the kitchen.
You love his French toast, but a pang of disappointment hits you as you think about your sausage, egg and cheese on a bagel, with hashbrowns. You quickly eat to dissipate any of those needs. But you’ve been talking about that sandwich for months, so it haunts you.
The rest of the day, you spend pretty much doing nothing. You nap, lounge, and catch up with your mom. It’s the perfect day. Just you, your mom, and your boys. And of course, Rosie. Your mom makes pulled pork sliders for lunch, and you order Chinese food for dinner. Real, good Long Island Chinese food.
And really, the day is over before you really want It to be. Sam asks you to join him on walking Rosie. You happily oblige, planning on taking him to get ice cream along the way. He has his arm wrapped around your shoulders, and you keep your head leant against his shoulder. Rosie trots in front of you happily.
“I could get used to this.” He says suddenly.
“Huh?” It catches you off guard. What does that mean?
“This. The quiet life. Walking my dog in the suburbs...” He says shyly. You get the sense there’s something on the tip of his tongue and you long for him to say it. “I love touring, but these domestic moments... You can’t beat ‘em.” He decides.
You want to kiss him so badly.
Instead, you just hum, and snuggle closer to him, wondering what the hell you’re doing. And that’s a super valid question.
The night goes the same as the last, except you kiss your mom and stepdad goodnight, not wanting them to have to get up in the morning to say goodbye. You suspect your mom will anyways. And she does. As the boys file out of the house, she’s handing them homecooked meals for the road, and you give her one more hug and kiss goodbye, before heading to the bus yourself. The others are on the bus, but Jake stands there, his hands behind his back. You narrow your eyes to him suspiciously.
“You’re an amazing tour manager, you know that?” He says gently.
“Yes, I do. What are you scheming at?” You ask, not totally trusting him.
He just grins as he reveals a brown bag he’s holding, handing it to you. Your confusion only grows as you take the bag and open it only to smell the best thing you have had in months.
A sausage, egg, and cheese on a bagel. With hashbrowns. From your favorite deli.
You almost scream.
“What?!” You gasp, “How did you—”
“I borrowed your mom’s car this morning and got it for you.”
“You didn’t have to do that...”
“Yeah, I did. I meant what I said. You hold us together, and we couldn’t be more grateful. Plus, you’ve been talking about this sandwich for months and—” You don’t let him finish. You kiss him. It’s full of all this pent-up passion you’ve held in, and Jake just wraps his arms around you, deepening the kiss. He wanted this just as much as you did, you realized. Your arms wrapped around his neck as you both lean into the kiss, fully enjoying the moment. Then, he pulls away, saying your name quietly.
You don’t know what to say. Then, the bus honks twice, scaring the shit out of you.
“C’mon you two! We got things to do, you sorry shits!” Josh yells. You can only laugh before you both climb onto the bus. Now, a new lust has overcome you. The lust for the sandwich you hold in your hands.
The lust for the four boys that surround you doesn’t dissipate either.
But as you head for Boston, your boys in tow, your shift as Greta Van Fleet’s tour manager begins once more, and you resume your position easily.
Until Sam kisses your neck. Then you melt again.
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kvothes · 1 month
in bed listening to the phoebe bridgers cover of it’ll all work out. what if i really do feel like this for the rest of my life
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dreamofmysoul-tsc · 8 months
The scene of James in the carriage holding onto Cordelia’s glove really reminds me of Phoebe Bridgers’ cover of It’ll All Work Out by Tom Petty so I’ve decided it’s gonna be my sad Jordelia song for this read 😭
“When it mattered most, I let her down/That’s the way it goes, it’ll all work out”
“Now the wind is high and the rain is heavy/ And the water’s rising in the levee/ Still I think of her when the sun goes down/ It never goes away, but it all works out”
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rebelpeas · 8 months
✨ 🎶 🎯 🤲 🤡
HI QWERTY thanks for the questions! i skipped two that i have already answered (✨ and 🤡) this time bc im sleeby tonight 😴
🎶 - Do you listen to music while you write? What song have you been playing on loop lately?
i cannot write without music LOL i make playlists for my long wips and try to only listen to those songs while i’m working on the wip, so it’s a sort of “sit down and focus” soundtrack. for oneshots i tend to loop just one song the whole time i’m writing. lately, i’ve been listening to fold i by motherfolk and chinese satellite by phoebe bridger!
🎯 - Have any of your readers accurately guessed major plot points? Care to share which?
shoutout to the mine theory truthers of devil town! i think at least one person had guessed every reveal, twist, or plot point in devil town by the time we got to the end, with the one exception of (SPOILERS) wilbur being involved in quackity’s dad’s death in any capacity, or, like. anything about karl. i did not see anybody guess that, which was kind of funny and i suspect is probably part of the reason chapter eleven ended up being the most memorable scene in that fic.
also. you with a certain character in footnotes LMAO but you know this
🤲 - Would you please share a snippet of a wip?
this is less of a snippet and more of An Entire Scene because i couldn’t decide which part to grab and just got. all of it. but here is a 500 word chunk from act two of pds 70b for you! warnings ahead for discussions of unreality and death.
“I think I’m going to die in this car,” Wilbur tells Tommy, who is sprawled out across a blanket with one arm over his eyes. It’s just shy of noon; the sun beats down above them, shielded only by the overhang of the building they’ve stopped at for the day. The teenager raises the corner of his lip in the tired approximation of a grossed-out sneer.
Wilbur thinks he was pretty obvious the first time. “I’m just gonna keep driving it around until it breaks. Then I’ll live out of it wherever it stops, and eventually I’ll die there. Gonna die in the car. Be buried in it. It’s my tomb, all decorated already and everything.”
This causes Tommy to lift his arm, blue eyes finding Wilbur’s with a scowl. “Has anyone ever told you, you’re fucking morbid?”
“I don’t know,” Wilbur says. “My memory’s bad. That’s insensitive.”
“Fuck you,” Tommy says without a bit of venom to it. He settles back down. “Stop talking about death and let me nap, would you?”
“Okay.” Wilbur puts his back against the wall. “What about you?”
Tommy heaves a sigh and Wilbur can hear the eyeroll that goes with it. “I’m never going to die, actually.”
“No,” Wilbur corrects. “What’ll you do when the car breaks?”
A silent pause hangs between them.
“Well,” Tomm starts, slowly. “I imagine it’ll still be a good while til that happens. Told you, Tubbo’s good with cars. A right mechanic. He’ll keep it moving, and we can go wherever. See who else we can find that’s still around. Oh, we could start a–what’s the word, for like, end of the world shit?”
“A community,” Tommy says. “With survivors. We can start farms.”
“I don’t think plants have been growing.”
“What? Oh.” Tommy frowns. “Well, maybe they just need different conditions. We can figure it out.” And after a moment, “How haven’t plants been growing? That doesn’t make any sense. They haven’t died.”
Wilbur shrugs. “You ask the apocalypse how it all works. I haven’t the slightest clue.”
Tommy covers his face again. “I’ll ask tomorrow. Goodnight, Wilbur.”
Wilbur lets him sleep this time. After a few moments, Tommy’s breathing slows into something slow, heavy, and even. He’s a quiet sleeper, whether that’s in the passenger seat of Wilbur’s car or on a blanket in an empty hotel’s lobby, just by the doors where an occasional breeze blows through. The breeze is louder than Tommy’s breathing sometimes.
It startles Wilbur the first time he mixes up the wind for someone breathing. Then it gets stuck in his head. He keeps looking over, half-expecting for Tommy to be gone and to be alone again. Even after the night spent driving together, and the morning spent together scrounging for supplies and finding a cool enough place to sleep, Wilbur still doesn’t quite believe that Tommy is real.
Doesn’t quite believe he’s going to stay.
Tommy is some sort of ghost, he’s pretty sure. Something like a sketchbook high above a canyon, or a name written on a calendar, or a wallet sitting on his dashboard, only a little more tangible. A little louder, when he’s awake, and a little more insistent about it.
So Tommy is the last dredges of Wilbur’s sanity trying to survive, one last-ditch effort to wake himself up and get back into the car and start driving, again, and again, and again. Maybe he isn’t even alive. Maybe it’d worked, back at the canyon–maybe this is just the hallucinated last moments of Wilbur’s life, played through in vivid detail.
Maybe nothing’s real. Maybe trees never fall if no one is there to see it go. Maybe it doesn’t matter.
Tommy is still asleep. One arm over his eyes; blonde hair spilled over maroon carpet. His chest continues to rise and fall. Real or otherwise.
Wilbur dozes off just behind him, and he dreams of something dark in between glittering lights and velvet fabric bundled up inside of his chest.
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babyfrogz · 29 days
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3,6,7,14,15,and 30 if u please? :3
3: a song that reminds you of summertime - buzzcut season by lorde
this song brings to mind a very specific summer. i don’t talk to this person anymore but i try not to feel too bitter about it and let it sour the good memories
6: a song that makes you want to dance - better off alone by madison rose & naked in manhattan by chappell roan
SORRYYYY SORRY I COULDN’T CHOOSE they’re both so good and i love both these artists so muchhhh i’m bumping these songs forever and ever. they’re so so fun
7: a song to drive to - let’s get lost by carly rae jepsen
i love this song so much RAEBIES FOREVER<333 it’s so sweet and fun. absolutely pop perfection & sounds so so good on car speakers
14: a song that you would love played at your wedding - fire escape by andrew mcmahon in the wilderness
this song and dark blue (jack’s mannequin but it’s the same guy) belong to me and my beautiful gf <33333 i did pick fire escape over dark blue here just because i don’t think i could resist punching the air during the bridge of dark blue and that doesn’t seem conductive to dancing with my wife
15: a song that is a cover by another artist - it’ll all work out by tom petty and the heartbreakers (phoebe bridgers’s cover)
such a beautiful song that really suits phoebe’s voice & production style. though i can’t lie i wish she’d kept some mandolin LOL i just love mandolin so much
30: a song that reminds you of yourself - hardline by julien baker
elaborated upon here :]
send me music asks!
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phoebe bridgers’ cover of “it’ll all work out” makes me bawl uncontrollably every time
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villanellefc · 3 years
ok hold up. i've never listened to anything by phoebe bridgers and i think i'm about to, but first i need this information for context: is she gay?
GREAT question anon. so in interviews phoebe bridgers has talked abt being bi including a great one where she said her hs gf shaved her head in between classes. a lot of her songs have gender neutral subjects if that’s what ur looking for but like they’re probably abt her drummer marshall vore. im not sure if any of her songs are explicitly gay tho, closest is maybe graceland too BUT she has a gay verse on the 1975’s song “jesus christ 2005 god bless america”
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phoebesbridgers · 2 years
songs phoebe bridgers has covered: masterpost
bad blood - bright eyes
black boys on mopeds - sinead o’connor
cowboy take me away - the chicks (w/ boygenius)
everything is free - gillian welch (w/ julien baker)
fake plastic trees - radiohead (w/ arlo parks)
first day of my life - bright eyes
friday i’m in love - the cure
georgia lee - tom waits
girls - the 1975
human - the killers (w/ conor oberst)
i’m on fire - bruce springsteen
if it makes you happy - sheryl crow
iris - goo goo dolls (w/ maggie rogers)
it’ll all work out - tom petty
nothing else matters - metallica
part-time heart - harrison whitford
peek-a-boo - daniel johnston
powerful man - alex g
read my mind - the killers (w/ boygenius)
say yes - elliot smith
shallow - lady gaga & bradley cooper (w/ conor oberst)
summer’s end - john prine
teenage dirtbag - wheatus
the gold - manchester orchestra
the house that heaven built - japandroids
torn - ednaswap
two-headed boy pt. 2 - neutral milk hotel
whatever (folk song in c) - elliot smith
wilt - sloppy jane
you missed my heart - mark kozelek
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rivertotoro · 2 years
phoebe bridgers // elliott smith parallels
E - Riot Coming - “Sat down in jail with this friend of mine/Who'd never close both his eyes/But one was shut all the time/To cover the thing he was scared of”
E - Stupidity Tries “To sail across the sea of trash”
E - Going nowhere - “The old records are sitting on the floor/The ones I can’t put on anymore”
E - Clementine - “Anything to pass the time/And keep that song out of your mind”
P - Smoke Signals - “One of your eyes is always half-shut/Something happened when you were a kid” - “burning trash out on the beach” - “You said that song'll creep you out until you're dead”
E - Miss Misery - (music videos on the same street)
E - Easy way out - “While I watch you making mistakes/I wish you luck I really do” “I heard you found another audience to bore”
E - Looking Over My Shoulder - “Another sick rock ‘n’ roller acting like a dick”
E - Placeholder - “I'm the person you'll never need/The biggest loser on sixteenth street” - “Just like my favourite song/Some pretty words that didn't last that long”
P - Motion Sickness - “I'll be glad that I made it out/And sorry that it all went down like it did” “You said when you met me, you were bored” - “Hey, why do you sing with an English accent?/I guess it's too late to change it now”
E - Some Song - “Help me kill my time cause I'll never be fine”
P - Funeral - “Jesus Christ i'm so blue all the time/And that's just how i feel/Always have and i always will ”
E - Bled White - “Happy and sad come in quick succession/I’m never going to become what you became”
P - Demi Moore - “I got a good feeling/It doesn't happen very often”
E - St Ides Heaven - “With an open container from 7/11”
E - A Fond Farewell - “A fond farewell to a friend”
P - Scott Street - “With an open heart, open container” - “Anyway, don’t be a stranger / don’t be a stranger”
E - Last Call - “And I think I’m all done, you can switch me off safely/While i’m lying here for sleep to overtake me”
E - Roman Candle - “I’m a roman candle/My head is full of flames ”
P - Killer - “But when I’m sick and tired/And when my mind is barely there/When a machine keeps me alive/And I’m losing all my hair/I hope you kiss my rotten head/And pull the plug” - “Tame the fire in you”
E - Georgia Georgia
P - Georgia - “Georgia, Georgia, I love your son”
E - Twilight - “That you are already somebody’s baby”
E - See you later - “Made out of a night train”
E - King’s Crossing - “Instruments shine on a silver tray”
P - Chelsea - “You are somebody’s baby” - “For a chemical imbalance/You sure know how to ride a train” - “With a needle on a tray”
E - Christian Brothers - “No bad dream fucker's gonna boss me around/Christian brothers gonna take him down”
P - Would you rather - “Quarantined in a bad dream/He's half the man and you're twice as tall”
E - Son of Sam - “Son of Sam, son of a doctors love a nurses touch/Acting under orders from above”
P - You Missed My Heart - “A feeling of relief came over my soul/I couldn't take it any longer, and I lost control”
E - Bye - (instrumental)
E - New Monkey (Instrumental)
P - DVD Menu - (instrumental)
E - Coming up roses - “And you're coming up roses everywhere you go/Red roses follow”
E - Rose Parade - “Said, Won't you follow me down to the Rose Parade?”
P - Garden Song “They're gluing roses on a flatbed/You should see it, I mean thousands”
E - Condor Ave - “I don’t know what to do with your clothes or your letters”
E - Baby Britain - “Fights problems with bigger problems/Sees the ocean fall and rise/Counts the waves that somehow didn’t hit her/Water pouring from her eyes/Alcoholic and very bitter”
E - Say Yes - “I'm in love with the world/Through the eyes of a girl/Who's still around the morning after”
E - Seen How Things Are Hard - “You just didn't care/You were off getting drunk instead”
E - The Biggest Lie - "Oh, I just told the biggest lie/ I just told the biggest lie/The biggest lie"
P - Kyoto - “And you wrote me a letter/But I don't have to read it” - “I wanted to see the world/Then I flew over the ocean/And I changed my mind” - “I wanted to see the world/Through your eyes until it happened/Then I changed my mind” - “I'm gonna kill you/If you don't beat me to it” - "Guess I lied/I'm a liar/Who lies/'Cause I'm a liar"
E - Memory Lane - “Your little house on memory lane ”
E - Angel in the Snow - “Angel in the snow/all crushed out on the way you are”
E - Last Call - “And I wanted her to tell me that she would never wake me”
E - New Monkey - “For the millions of fans ignoring the bands”
E - Waltz #2 - “I'm never gonna know you now/But I'm gonna love you anyhow”
E - Amity - “I'm a neon sign and I stay open all the time”
P - Punisher - “The house where you lived with Snow White” - “But never not sweet to the trust funds and punishers” - “What if I told you/I feel like I know you?/But we never met” - “The drugstores are open all night/The only real reason I moved to the east side”
E - Some Song - “Yeah it's halloween tonight and every night”
E - Pitseleh - “I got a joke I've been dying to tell you/A silent kid is looking down the barrel/To make the noise that I kept so quiet”
P - Halloween - “Baby, it's Halloween” - “I hate living by the hospital/The sirens go all night/I used to joke that if they woke you up/Somebody better be dying”
E - Shooting Star - “So bad, so far/You made me sad/Shooting star/You're distant and cold/And a sight to behold/Everybody just sighs”
E - Satellite - “When they call it a lover's moon, the satellite/'Cause it acts just like lovers do, the satellite/A burned-out world you know/Staying up all night/The satellite”
E - Everything Reminds Me of Her - “Why are you staring into outer space, crying?/Just because you came across it and lost it”
P - Chinese Satellite - “Took a tour to see the stars/But they weren't out tonight/So I wished hard on a Chinese satellite” - “Sometimes, when I can't sleep/It's just a matter of time before I'm hearing things” b- “Instead, I look at the sky and I feel nothing/You know I hate to be alone/I want to be wrong”
E - Coast to Coast - “Still you're keeping me around/'Til I finally drag us both down (Gonna drag us both down)”
E - Little one - “The moonlight tonight/Seems to belong to me” - “One more/Little one, I love you”
E - Coming up Roses - “The moon is a sickle cell/It'll kill you in time” “While the moon does its division/You're buried below”
E - Everything Means Nothing to Me - “At attention, looking backward in a pool of water/Wishes with a blue songbird on his shoulder/Who keeps singing over everything”
E - Pretty Mary K (Other Version) - “oh Mary K, I can see your face/down there in the waves, painted and erased/but I know it's just a reflection of the moon”
P - Moon song - (52) “You asked to walk me home/But I had to carry you” - (53) “And if I could give you the moon/I would give you the moon” - (54) “You are sick and you're married/And you might be dying” - (55/56) “And you pushed me in/And now my feet can't touch the bottom of you” “But you're holding me like water in your hands/When you saw the dead little bird”
E - New Disaster - “Everybody is the same in this long no-win game/Where every new blood/Gets time to become resigned” - “Until everyone knows that your smile is just a ghost/The ghost of your smile was seen on a body in the park”
P - Savior Complex - “Baby, you're a vampire/You want blood and I promised” - “All the bad dreams that you hide/Show me yours, I'll show you mine”
E - Oh well, Ok - “If you get a feeling next time you see me/Do me a favor and let me know/Cause it's hard to tell, it's hard to say 'oh well, Ok'”
E - Last Call - “You're a tongueless talker/You don't care what you say”
E - Angel in the Snow - “Only a cold still life/ that fell down here to lay beside you”
P - ICU - (58) “But I feel something when I see you now/I feel something when I see you” - (59) “I hate your mom/I hate it when she opens her mouth/It's amazing to me/How much you can say/When you don't know what you're talking about” - “laying down on the lawn” “if you’re a work of art/I’m standing too close/I can see the brush strokes”
E - Happiness / The Gondola Man - “What I used to be/Will pass away and then you'll see/That all I want now/Is happiness for you and me”
E - Whatever (Folk Song in C) - “Whatever you're doing now would probably suit me fine/If you're all done, like you said you'd be/What are you doing hanging out with me?”
E - Big Ballad of Nothing - “You can do what you want to whenever you want to/You can do what you want to there's no one to stop you”
P - Graceland too - “Said she knows she lived through it to get to this moment” - “Whatever she wants (Whatever you want)”
E - Bottle up and Explode “Bottle up and go/I can make it outside”
E - A Distorted Reality is Now a Necessity to be Free - “God knows why my country don't give a fuck” - “Shine on me baby, because it's raining in my heart”
E - Alphabet Town - “Alphabet City is haunted”
P - I Know The End - “There's no place like my room” - “To some America First rap country song” “Driving out into the sun/Let the ultraviolet cover me up”- “I'll find a new place to be from/A haunted house with a picket fence”
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mdawritings · 2 years
Wanna Be Yours: Ch. 10
Warnings: None. But it is a long chapter.
Song(s): "killer + the sound" by Phoebe Bridgers & "illicit affairs" by Taylor Swift
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"Just a reminder! Your final exam will be this Monday, proctored in this room, by me," Hotch paces at the front of the classroom, but your mind is elsewhere. You watch him, a smile growing on your face as he lectures the whole class. It’s finally your birthday, and Hotch set aside some time late in the day to spend with you. He also mentioned a small surprise and though you’re not usually one to get excited about gifts or surprises, you can’t wait to see what he has planned.
"Miss Y/L/N. Focus," Hotch calls out your name and you sit up straighter, attempting to suppress the grin on your face. "I won’t turn away anyone who shows up late for the exam, but you won’t be given the full time. Do I make myself clear? This exam starts at 11:00 sharp. I can promise you will need the full three hours to complete the whole thing. So I mean it. Don’t be late."
"That seems pretty relaxed for Professor Hard-Ass," Charlie leans forward to mumble into your ear and you bite your lip, suppressing a laugh. You want to tell him to thank you, since you’re the one who convinced Hotch that turning people away is cruel. At least let them try to finish the exam. A 50% is better than an actual zero.
Hotch shoots both you and Charlie a side glance which quickly shuts you up. You struggle to stifle small giggles and see Katie shaking her head off to the side, "You’re both children."
"You can’t be mean to me on my birthday," You protest under your breath, hoping Hotch doesn’t see you two goofing off. It’s your birthday and the last day of classes, he can ease up on you. He can cut the hard-ass, bullshit act for one class. It’s established that you’re not his favorite. Well, at least that’s what the class has been thoroughly convinced is the truth. You know, or at least you hope, the truth is the opposite. The semester has been a whirlwind from start to finish. Although you’re not quite at the end of it, you’ve been fundamentally changed since it started.
"Yeah? Watch me," Katie taunts, "Can’t let you get a big ego, Einstein."
"Assholes," You mutter under your breath, faking anger at your friends, but the large smile never leaves your face.
"I wish you all the best of luck. It was a pleasure to have all of you in this class," Hotch nods, putting down the chalk from the board where he’s written his contact information, "Reach out to me if you require anything like a recommendation letter. No promises I’ll do it though." He teases and flashes a cheeky smile to the whole class, "Class dismissed."
As you start to pack up your stuff, your attention flits over to Hotch a few times as a swarm of students begin to crowd around his desk, already shoving cover letters and resumes and job applications in his face. You shoot him a small apologetic look and mouth a ‘sorry’ before Katie and Charlie hook their arms in yours, pulling you to the door.
"We have a million things to do before the party tonight," Katie starts to ramble off the list of things she has planned. Katie, quite dissimilar to you, loves birthdays and planning parties.
"Party?" You glance at her, "I thought we were going to drink a little and then go out to a bar."
"When have we ever showed up to a bar sober?" Charlie rolls his eyes, "Alcohol is expensive. You’ll buy yourself a shot or something small for the significance. And you can buy the alcohol for the pre-party."
"I’m sorry, are you trying to get my stomach pumped tonight?" You laugh and before you even have a second to breathe Charlie pipes in with a ‘yes.’ to which Katie replies with a soft punch to his arm.
"So what time can we get together to organize everything?" Katie gives you a small knowing look, suspecting that you’ll probably disappear for an hour or two to see Hotch.
"Oh god, please don’t tell me you’re spending your birthday studying," Charlie lets out a strained groan, "It’s bad enough I have to meet with Professor Hard-Ass for missing one too many lectures."
"How is that my fault in any way at all?" You roll your eyes and turn back to Katie, "Let’s all meet at our apartment at like 7:30 pm? Gives us time to run errands, pick up liquor, eat some dinner, get ready and then start the party at 10."
"That works perfectly for me," Katie smiles, wrapping an arm tightly around your shoulders. "My little baby is all grown up," She mocks in a dramatic, teary, weepy tone and pretends to wipe tears from her eyes.
"I hate you all," You shake your head as your best friends drag you off to get lunch.
You pull your knees up to your chest and thumb through the pages of the novel you’re currently reading. It’s not your favorite thing you’ve ever read, but it’s managing to maintain your attention for the time being. You’re sitting on the floor a few doors down from Hotch’s office, as you wait for him to get back from his last class of the day. You’ve managed to go all semester without drawing any suspicion or attention, the only person who’s seen through your guise of secrecy is Katie, but you know she would never tell or do anything to possibly endanger you or ruin this.
You hear his deep voice from the down the hall, your eyes shooting up as soon as it rings out. You attempt to play it off, but you can’t peel our eyes off of him. You already saw him this morning, but just the time you’ve spent waiting to see him again this afternoon has made you forget just how good he looks today.
His black polo shirt strains a little against his arm muscles as he carries his books and papers under his arm, a student trailing behind him as he walks down the hall towards his office. You can see the frustration written all over his face as the girl nags him over and over again. He manages to push past the hordes of people in the hallways, the girl occasionally getting lost in the swarms and needing to run to catch up to him.
You start to stand up from the floor but pause when you see her follow him all the way to his office door. "Listen, the grades you receive are final. End of discussion. You could’ve submitted any paper for a regrade, but that deadline was the end of classes. Which for your seminar, was yesterday."
"But—" She starts to speak up. You see him roll his eyes and turn his back on her, digging around in his pocket for his keys and unlocking the office door. He opens it and begins to step in, the girl eager to follow him. He whirls in place and blocks her from following him inside.
"Miss Hunter," His voice is steely and you slowly make your way to the office, still standing a good distance away as you watch the situation unfold in front of you. "I have made the rules abundantly clear. Now I have meetings with a few students who have actually managed to garner my respect. So please, stop wasting my time."
There’s a moment of silence. The girl tugs her bottom lip between her teeth, and you can tell she’s struggling not to cry in front of Hotch, and his harsh focus is unwavering. He just stares her down, waiting for her to leave. After a few seconds, her attempts to fight tears fail and she turns her back on him, rushing away down the hall before disappearing into the bathroom. You watch and turn back, Hotch finally taking note of you standing in the hallway. He shakes his head, rubbing his forehead with his thumb and forefinger. The worry lines in his face leave creases in his skin even after he’s unfurrowed his brow.
You seem to have forgotten how cruel he can be. Every snide remark, snippy comment, insult he’s thrown at you, it’s clear that they’re part of this whole ruse. You try not to think too hard about the comments, but you wonder just how many of them he means or how many are all part of the act. His tongue is biting. He’s impatient and stubborn. He doesn’t play into social niceties. He sees no need to make others feel comfortable.
Hotch nods his head at you and walks back into his office, expecting you to come follow him. You push the interaction to the back of your mind before rushing to follow Hotch. You step into the doorway and see him, one hand on his hip, the other placed firmly on the edge of his desk. His eyes running over the papers he’s just placed down on the surface.
His head looks up, the corners of his mouth pulling at the sight of you. You barely pay attention to anything but him. You give the door a push to close it and drop your stuff onto one of the chairs, rushing to him with a wide smile.
You press your lips to his, kissing him slow but needy. You grip his shirt in your hands, attempting to press as close to him as possible.
His mouth is hot and heavy on yours but he pulls away for a second, those enchanting eyes of his sweeping over every inch of your body, "Happy birthday, pretty girl," He mumbles, one arm wrapped around your back, holding you close to him, the other hand reaching up to push the hair out of your face so he can really look at you.
He pauses. His eyes stay focused on you for awhile, memorizing the details of your face as if it's the first time he’s seeing it, or like it’ll be the last time he sees it. He studies the curve of your lips as if the memory of you will be all he gets.
He soon breaks the pseudo staring contest, pushing his chair out of the way and lifting you up onto his desk, so he can stand between your legs. You arch your back, pressing your plush breasts against his firm chest. You feel his muscles shift and flex under his shirt. He leans in closer to you, one hand tangled into your hair, the other placed firm on the desk next to your body.
His mouth is so warm against yours. You lose yourself in him. Nothing and no one manages to make you feel the way he does. He’s started a fire within you and every moment spent with him, every look, every touch, every smile is tinder for the flames. The fire of the two of you sucks the oxygen out of the room. You’re breathless around him. Who knew suffocating could feel so good?
There’s something innately beautiful about Aaron Hotchner. He’s sexy, he’s confident, but above all there’s something simply enchantingly beautiful about him. He does everything with such purpose, such ease, but those moments of beauty: the tug at the corners of his lips when you talk to him, the shine in his eyes when he gets to discussing something he’s passionate about. There’s no other way to describe him besides utterly beautiful. At least, that’s how you see him.
You wrap a hand around his bicep, gripping it tightly as his mouth travels down from your mouth to your neck, nipping at the skin. Your head falls back, your own mouth gaping open, soft whines erupting from your swollen lips. "I thought you said you were bad at giving gifts." You tease breathlessly. Aaron pulls away from your neck, looking at you with those warm, intelligent eyes, his lips equally plump. The confusion spreads across his features, "You." You mutter and cup his cheeks, "This. You’re enough of a gift. This time with you." You say softly.
An unreadable expression reaches Aaron’s face. As much as you try to understand the man, he remains mysterious and closed off to you. You worry that you’ve said something to offend him, or scare him away. It’s no secret you enjoy spending time with him. It’s no secret you care about him. You assume that much is clear to him. But then again, for as intelligent and perceptive as he seems to be, you wouldn’t be surprised if your admission comes as a shock to him.
Aaron’s hands move to trail up your bare thighs and up under your skirt, fingers hooking in the waistband of your lacy underwear. "I better make it a worthwhile gift then," He leans in, close enough that you think he will kiss you, but instead he rests his forehead against yours, his lips ghosting over your own. You lean forward to press your lips to his. You want to regain the feeling, the tingles it sends down your spine as his hands roam your body.
He evades your kiss, pulling away and bending down as he pulls your underwear all the way down your legs, tossing it off to the side. You smile and laugh at the action, glancing over at how your underwear has landed, draped across the arm of the chair in the corner.
"Something funny?" He grabs your chin, pulling your attention away from your discarded undergarment and back to him. His tone is serious, but the corners of his mouth are upturned in a slight grin.
"No, nothing at all," You tease and push him back into his chair, taking the opportunity to straddle his waist, grinding against him tauntingly.
"What’s this?" He raises his brows at the shift in power dynamic, but it’s clear he’s not complaining from the way his large hands rest just at the bottom of your ribcage, thumbs circling the skin just to the side of your breasts. The little gesture, the feeling of his fingers so close to where you want yet not quite touching you exactly there, drives you crazy. You lean forward, your hair falling in your face as you kiss him.
"Taking what I want," You moan against his skin. He peels the sweater from your body, your black tank top hugging tightly to every curve. He balls the sweater and tosses it over your shoulder onto the floor.
This time, you can’t suppress the loud laugh, "You going to do that with every article of clothing?"
"I just might," He taunts and pushes your hair out of your face with both hands once again, wanting to see your face. As he kisses you, you reach for his belt undoing it and unzipping his jeans, "You’re in a rush. Don’t you want to savor your birthday gift?"
You roll your eyes, "I’m pretty sure since it’s my birthday, I get to decide what I want." You smirk and plunge a hand deep into his briefs, pulling his hardening cock out of his pants. You take his hot flesh in your hands, pumping it a few times, trailing your fingertips over his tip, eliciting an absolutely sinful groan from him.
He throws his head back, and you watch with pride as the man begins to come undone in front of you. You watch as his neck tenses, his jaw clenching as you continue to pleasure him. His chest rises and falls rapidly. You stop your motions, pulling your skirt up a little, just enough for him to plunge deep into you. You sink onto him with a long and loud groan, gripping his shoulders for support. Your skirt falls down around the two of you, seemingly shielding your actions from the world.
Your actions are agonizingly slow, wanting to savor every moment with him, wanting this feeling to last forever. The pure bliss you feel as his head dips, pushing the collar of your tank top down enough to free your breasts. He sucks a nipple into his mouth, sucking harshly and lightly biting, just the way he knows sends your head into a haze. His hands rest on your hips, but they’re not gripping them, he’s letting you take it at your pace.
You’re so caught up in the lustful trance that you almost miss it. A knock at the door.
"Professor Hotchner?" A familiar voice calls from the other side.
You freeze. "Charlie?" You whisper at Hotch.
"Shit," He curses under his breath. "I’ve double booked myself." He shakes his head, trying to swiftly get you off his lap. "I’ll be with you in one minute!" He calls through the door, glancing down at his watch with a small groan.
Hotch tucks himself back into his pants, struggling to zip them up and tuck his shirt in in a timely manner. You scramble to do the same, readjusting your tank top and scooping your sweater from the ground. You run your fingers through your hair and wipe your mouth, knowing that you must look like a flustered, overheated mess.
Hotch gives you a small sideways glance before sitting at his desk more properly before nodding. "Come in." Just as the door opens and Charlie steps in, you realize you’ve forgotten something vitally important: your underwear. It’s too late. He’s already in the office and you have no idea how you can smoothly pluck your black lace panties from the chair without drawing his attention.
"Einstein?" He glances at you confused.
Your mouth falls open but you can’t seem to come up with anything to say, "Charlie." You smile. You glance at Hotch, "Sorry Professor, I didn’t realize you had meetings today." You stare at him a little too long, hoping he can suddenly read your mind in which you’re screaming at him about the underwear hanging off of the chair.
"Why didn’t you mention your meeting earlier?" Charlie asks you but Hotch clears his throat slightly, saving you from needing to come up with a reasonable answer.
"It was a last minute request on my part," Hotch covers for you two, "I apologize for running over time with Miss Y/L/N and into our meeting time."
"No, no I’ll just wait outside," Charlie turns to leave the office and your heart sinks into your stomach.
"No!" You call out a little too forcefully. But it’s too late. The black lace panties catch his eye.
"On second thought I’ll just…" Charlie turns to look at you, tightening his grip on the strap of his bag, glancing between both you and Hotch, "I’ll just leave you two…" He shakes his head and turns, getting out of the office as fast as possible. You groan frustratedly and look over at Hotch as you rush out after Charlie.
"Charlie wait!" You call out, garnering attention from the few students in the hallway. You catch up to him and grab his hand, "Please."
He turns to you, letting out a sickeningly sinister and bitter laugh, "I am such an idiot. I don’t know how I never saw it."
"Please let me explain myself," You beg him, pulling his hand into yours, but he’s quick to yank it away.
"You just had to be the person to get an A in his class, huh? You couldn’t handle the possibility of being anything less than the best." You wrap your arms around yourself as he shakes his head.
"No… that’s not what this is about." You argue back with him, hoping he’ll understand, the same way Katie seemed to.
"Is this how kid genius got to law school at 20? By sleeping your way to the top?" He lowers his voice so that anyone else in the hallway can’t hear you, but his words are just as venomous and biting.
He takes a few steps towards you, pointing back towards Hotch’s office, "He’s using you. You know that, right? He doesn’t love you. He doesn’t care about you. I can’t believe you’d be so fucking naive, so, so… so stupid."
You open your mouth to speak, but Hotch cuts you off, coming up behind the two of you, "I understand you’ll be discreet about what you saw, Mr. Miller."
Charlie’s eyes narrow at Hotch, his chest puffing up in anger. "And if I’m not?"
"You’ll find that it will greatly benefit you and your success in my class if you are." Hotch’s focus on Charlie is unwavering and the harsh demeanor that seems to be so natural and comfortable for Hotch returns. His voice is hushed, "Now I suggest you turn around and forget what you saw, or take this conversation somewhere more private, for everyone’s sake."
Charlie goes silent. His gaze shifts to you. You can’t read what his face is saying but it’s a mixture of disbelief, anger, and what seems to be disappointment. With a small scoff and shake of his head, Charlie turns and disappears down the hallway.
You take a step forward, hoping to go after him and explain yourself, explain everything, including your feelings for Hotch. You want him to know you haven’t done it to get ahead in life but because you genuinely enjoy spending time with Hotch. That you genuinely enjoy his company, but Hotch reaches and grabs your wrist, pulling you with him.
"You have to let me go after him! I have to talk to him. He could ruin your career," You let out frantically as Hotch pulls you by the arm back into his office, "Or my reputation."
"He won’t," Hotch gives you a small tug, causing you to catch your feet on the rug and trip a little as you get through the doorway of his office. He’s careful to move around you to close and lock the door firmly. He turns to you before turning back to the door, jiggling the handle a few times to test the lock, ensuring that there will be no more unwanted interruptions.
"Aaron, you can’t just give him a good grade to shut him up," You argue, "That’s- that’s immoral, that’s wrong." You bite your lip.
"And what we’ve been doing isn’t?" He rubs his face with both hands.
You have no response to that because he’s right. What the two of you have been doing for the past semester is immoral and unethical on every possible level. "How do you know he won’t report you anyway?"
"Because he cares about you," Hotch clarifies, but you find yourself lost. You’re not sure how that means Charlie will definitely keep his mouth shut, "He knows that reporting this will hurt you just as much as me, and the last thing he wants to do is hurt you. He’s in love with you, isn’t that obvious?"
You shake your head, still not entirely convinced that Hotch’s bribery will work on Charlie. "Aaron… You might lose your job. I can’t be the reason that you—" He places a soft slow kiss on your lips. "You know I hate when you kiss me just to shut me up."
He gives a warm smile, "Don’t worry about it. It’ll be okay, I promise." He rubs his thumb over your cheek comfortingly, "I have something to take your mind off it, off of him." He moves away from you, walking around his desk and opening the bottom drawer. He pulls out something but quickly hides it behind his back.
"Something for me?" You grin and try to look around his back to see what it is.
"It is your birthday, isn’t it?" Hotch holds out a small parcel, wrapped with brown paper, tied up with a small string, "I’m not uh— I’m not great at wrapping things. Or giving gifts." You take the package from him, the warm sensation of happiness spreading throughout your entire body.
"No matter what it is, I’ll love it because you gave it to me," You undo the string, and start to tear at the corner. You open the package delicately, as just the gesture of the wrapped parcel is enough for you. You didn’t expect anything from Hotch. Actually, you just expected birthday sex.
You peel back the paper and smile, feeling waves of emotion wash over you as you pull the nice, leather bound book from the wrapping. "You remembered?" You look up at him and a small sheepish grin spreads across Hotch’s face.
"Open it." He nods.
You look down at the book, running your fingers over the gold lettering on the cover that reads "The Great Gatsby." You open the cover flipping through the pages to see them all full of annotations, highlights and small notes. "Are these your annotations?"
He nods, shoving his hands into his pockets, "I gave it a second chance. Tried to look past my initial perception of it. Tried to see it through your eyes."
"And?" You struggle to tear your eyes away from the pages, looking for your favorite quotations, trying to read his notes alongside them.
"And I loved it." He reaches a hand and turns to the front page for you, where he’s written a small note. The note is barely legible in his scrawl, but to you it’s perfectly clear.
The beauty of life is in the grays. Thanks for being the gray in mine.
— A.H.
Your heart swells at the message and you close the book pressing it firmly to your chest. "This is… the best birthday gift I’ve ever gotten." You reassure him. "I wish I could celebrate with you all day."
He places his forefinger under your chin, tilting it up to place one last soft kiss to your lips, "Go. Have fun with your friends. Stay safe, okay?"
"I will," Your eyes stay on his. There’s so much you want to say to him. So much you want to ask him. You want to reveal everything to him. You want to tell him how much he means to you. You want to share how he’s changed your life. You want to tell him you don’t want to spend time with anyone but him. You want to tell him that you’re falling for him. But you stop yourself. You don’t want to rush it all out here standing in his office. You want to tell him in the right moment.
You’ve exposed so much of yourself to him, but to bear your soul in such a rushed manner in his office feels inappropriate and ill-timed. "I’ll see you again this weekend, yeah?" You ask him.
This time, you can tell he’s the one who wants to say more. There’s something bubbling under the surface that he wants to let out to you. You hope that what he is holding inside is the same as what you’re holding back. He hesitates a little before finally nodding.
You don’t want to pull away from him. You don’t want to move out of his grip, out of his warmth, it feels too much like a goodbye. You manage to pull away and grab your bag from the floor, keeping the book close to your heart as you turn and leave his office.
You scan the room for what feels like the hundredth time within an hour, looking for the familiar face in the crowd of people.
"He’ll show up. I’m sure he will," Katie throws her arm around your shoulders, handing you another shot.
"No, K, I don’t think he will," You look around your crowded apartment, filled mostly with faces that you barely recognize from your classes, but there’s one person in particular who has yet to make an appearance: Charlie. You told Katie what had happened, and she was definitely shocked at Hotch’s reaction to the situation, but she hid it well enough, wrapping her arms tightly around your body to comfort you.
"He was so angry, so disappointed in me," You sigh and take a long sip of your beer, "He was so hurt."
"I understand his desire to protect you, I really do, I feel the same way," She nods and settles into the couch right next to you, "But at the end of the day, you are responsible for your own decisions and no one else has a right to tell you what you should and shouldn’t be doing with your life."
"I know," You rub your face, "But I don’t want to make decisions that hurt my best friends."
You worry that this signifies the loss of a friendship. The loss of one of the most important people in your life. A loss that you can withstand if Hotch remains in your life but even that is up in the air. You find yourself wondering whether you’ll be forced to choose: a continued relationship with Hotch, if you can even call it a relationship, or your friendship with Charlie.
"Please, don’t let stupid Charlie ruin what should be a super fun night," Katie pulls you up from your seat, reaching for a shot of her own, "To us, to our friendship, and to kid genius no longer being a kid." She teases and clinks her glass against yours, downing her shot. You mimic her actions, the alcohol sliding down a little bit too easily now that you’re indulging your sorrows.
The small get-together at your apartment only lasts a little while longer, just long enough to get everyone plenty tipsy before you all head out to a bar. You play drinking games and a few of your friends indulge you by taking shots with you, sharing drinks, pouring you drinks. Despite the fact that you’re entirely surrounded by people, you feel devoid of love tonight. Katie is pouring over you, hugging you, teasing, attempting to lighten your quickly souring mood, but Charlie probably isn’t coming at all and you can’t invite the person you want most to spend your birthday with.
Within another hour, the whole group has managed to get you drunk enough to forget about the pain in your chest everytime you think about Charlie. They drag you out of your apartment and you all start the long walk in the cold to the best bar in the city.
You look around the neighborhood, recognizing it as Hotch’s, and the pain in your heart comes back harder than ever. You wonder what he’s doing right now. You can picture him perfectly: hunched over his desk, scribbling away some illegible comments on a student’s paper. You can see yourself perched on the edge of his desk, telling him off for grading every student so harshly.
He would roll his eyes but place a comforting hand on your thigh, leaving it there while he works, occasionally squeezing lightly or rubbing circles into the skin. You flash the bouncer your real ID earning a round of cheers from your group of friends and a small smile from the big muscle man at the door, "Congrats kid." He teases, letting you all slip into the crowded bar.
"First round is on me! Everyone make sure Einstein doesn’t have to pay a dime for her own drinks tonight!" Katie cheers as she drags you to the bar for more drinks.
Everytime your mind wanders to either man, Hotch or Charlie, you finish a drink, take a shot, order a new one. Anything to distract you. You check your phone every few minutes, finally deciding to send Charlie a single text.
We’re at the bar now. If you decide to show up. Please come.
You get no response. You decide to pretend he probably hasn’t seen it. He’s asleep or studying. He’s busy. Something came up. That’s why he’s blown off your birthday. He’s one of your best friends. He’ll show.
Along with desperately checking your phone for a reply from Charlie, some part of you is hoping, praying, even, that Aaron will surprise you. You hope that he’ll come walking through the door, walk up to the bar, and buy you a birthday drink. He’ll ignore the fact that most of his students are present and do it for you, because it would make you happy. However, you know that he can’t. He can’t risk it.
So you keep drinking. A lot. You end up drinking a lot.
Hotch finishes off his comments on another student’s suboptimal essay, writing a large B in dark green ink at the top of the page before circling it. He rubs his hand over his forehead tiredly. As much as he attempts to direct all his focus on the work in front of him, he can’t stop thinking about you. It seems to be a common problem recently. You invade his every waking thought, hell, you’ve even seemed to invade his dreams as of late.
Everything reminds him of you. He looks over the collection of novels on the walls of his home office, wondering what your opinions of his favorite titles are. He wonders what books would draw your attention. He can picture you in here perfectly, telling him that he should be focused on his work when he can’t take his eyes off of you. You would tell him to focus but do just about a million things that he finds all together way too charming and endearing to ignore.
Your scent invades his mind. It’s utterly intoxicating. The way he can tell when you’ve freshly showered, your shampoo smelling of lavender and vanilla. He thinks about the way his fingers feel all tangled up in that hair of yours.
He thinks of how soft your skin is, in contrast with his rough calloused hands. He thinks about how beautiful you look when you’re focused on something. He wishes you were here with him. He wishes he could give you the birthday you deserve.
He wouldn’t let you leave his clutches all night. He’d keep you tangled up in the sheets of his bed, moaning, laughing, talking, smiling, whatever you wanted to do, he’d do it with you.
It’s a troubling position he’s in. He can’t say he’s ever felt this way about anyone before. He’s been a solitary man most of his life. He had friends throughout schooling, but he always much preferred his own company. He’s never wanted to be around someone as much as you.
You seem to comprehend exactly how his mind works. He questions whether you can truly read minds because you always manage to say exactly the right thing at the right time. He knows he’s gotten himself in too deep. He realized when he found himself speeding through the pages of the Great Gatsby, a novel he had never been fond of, purely because he was picturing the way your face would light up when he handed it to you.
He knows he’s getting too emotionally involved. It’s not a sustainable relationship.
His phone vibrates on the desk next to him and when he picks it up, he’s shocked to see your name on the screen. "Y/N?" He picks up, expecting a drunk dial.
"Professor Hotchner— Aaron," Katie’s voice rings through the phone, "I need… you need to come pick her up." Her words are slurred together.
"Kaitlin?" He asks confused, "Katie," He corrects himself, "Is she okay? What’s wrong?" He stands up grabbing his keys and wallet, shoving them into the pocket of his joggers, rushing to slip his sneakers on.
"She’s had too much to drink and I don’t think I can get her home myself." Katie sighs out and Hotch can faintly hear your voice on the other end, slurring and yelling something about letting Katie take your phone.
"What bar? I’ll be there as fast as I can," Hotch takes note of the address, which, thankfully, is just two blocks away from his apartment. "Get her water. Get her outside into the fresh air. If she gets really bad, don’t hesitate to call 911." He hangs up the phone. What he really wants to do is scold Katie for letting you drink so wildly. Just because it’s your 21st birthday, doesn’t mean that you need to drink yourself to death. At the same time, he feels the deep sting of guilt, knowing that your strained relationship with Charlie probably encouraged more drinking than usual.
He makes his walking pace brisk, rushing the two blocks to get to you. He feels responsible for letting this happen to you. It’s not as if he could’ve been at the bar with you, it would’ve drawn an intense amount of scrutiny and suspicion, but he could've made plans with you, told you to ditch your friends for him.
As soon as Katie catches sight of him from down the street, she struggles to hold you up, trying to walk you over to him, "I’m sorry to call you, I hope I didn’t wake you up, Professor, I just didn’t know who else to call for help. Everyone else is equally drunk and normally I’d trust Charlie with her but—" She glances down at you, as you clutch at her shoulders for support, eyelids half closed, "He isn’t here to help."
"Fuck Charlie. I mean I don’t want to fuck Charlie, I mean like fuck him for not coming," You slur slightly and Katie hoists you up, holding you out for Hotch to help keep you steady.
"No I’m glad you called," Hotch replies with a nod. Katie’s focus lingers on him for a while and he can sense the judgment behind her eyes. She wants to say something to him. The drinking has lowered her inhibitions and he’s sure that as your best friend she probably has a few choice words for him. But right now, he can't take the time to listen to her or even argue with her. Right now, he just wants to get you to his home and get you to safety.
"Take care of her, okay?" Katie finally lets out before digging around in her purse for a pen and grabbing Hotch’s hand. She scribbles her number, a little messily due to her elevated blood alcohol level but legible enough, "Call me if anything happens to her."
Hotch nods, "I will." He turns all his attention onto you and starts to walk you back towards his apartment, knowing that the 5 minutes it took him to jog to the bar will turn into a 10 minute endeavor, carrying you to his apartment.
"I’m sorry, Aaron," You mumble into his shoulder, "I shouldn’t have drank so much I just…"
Hotch shushes you softly, rubbing his hands on your upper arm as he holds your trembling shoulders. "You should’ve brought a jacket." Your foot catches on the pavement, and for a second, it looks as if your face is going to collide with the sidewalk, but Hotch’s grip is so tight that he keeps you from falling.
"Didn’t go with the outfit." You laugh and weakly gesture over your body with your hand.
Seeing you like this, it stirs something inside him. Anger and frustration build like wildfire deep in the pit of his stomach. How could you act so irresponsibly? How could your friends be so careless with you? If he was out with you on your birthday, you never would’ve gotten so dangerously drunk.
"My apartment isn’t far from here, remember?" He’s practically holding up your entire body weight at this point.
"I remember," You nod, "Charlie, he didn’t come."
"I know." He slows down your walking pace as you struggle to keep up, your feet dragging along the ground, "Katie told me."
"Katie is mad at you, you know?" You regain a bit of your balance and strength, walking on your own, but hardly walking in a straight line. "I’m not mad at you. She’s just worried about me. I guess Charlie is worried about me, but he sure has a silly way of showing it, right?"
"It’s important to have people that care about you like they do," He’s choosing his words diplomatically, knowing that he can’t let on how much he’s been thinking about you, how much it angers him to see you so dangerously drunk. He’s not sure why he’s so careful of his words choice, as if you will remember his exact wording tomorrow.
After an eternity of practically carrying you for two blocks, you reach the steps of Hotch’s apartment. The steps are a complete other task. In which Hotch is tempted multiple times to simply pick you up entirely and carry you upstairs, but he worries that will just make you sick and the last thing he wants to do is clean your vomit off of his apartment building’s staircase.
"I’m sorry you have to take care of me," You whine, holding onto his shirt as he helps you into his apartment. "But I’m 21!"
"I know," Hotch’s heart races as you stumble along in your heels. It’s terrifying to see you like this. He realizes just how fragile you are, how easily you can slip through his fingers.
It should make him want to sink his fingers into you, dig his heels into the ground, hold you close and never let you go, but he’s motivated to do the opposite. He wants to run and hide from you. If he sinks himself too deep into you, he can never get out and if he loses you once he’s in too deep, what will happen when you get hurt? What happens when he’s the one to hurt you?
He’ll inevitably disappoint you. He knows you expect a lot from him. He can see it in the way you look at him, with those warm, intelligent eyes, so full of adoration.
"You think you can get yourself up the stairs to bed while I get you water?" Hotch walks you carefully to the bottom of the stairs. You nod, reaching for the wall next to the stairs, to help balance.
Hotch watches you with a close eye, making sure that you make it all the way up before going to the kitchen. He reaches up into the cabinet for a glass and some ibuprofen that you will inevitably need by tomorrow.
He puts both down on the counter, taking a minute to place both palms on the surface firmly, taking a deep, steadying breath. It’s almost the end of the semester. After Monday, he’s no longer your professor. That should be a relief. He doesn’t have to feel this internal conflict. The morality of his actions has never concerned him before. That was before you.
When he’s with you, he’s more conscious of the imbalance of power. He’s aware of what it looks like from the outside. The way Charlie looked at the two of you today was confirmation of that. Confirmation of the perception that he used to never care so much about until he met you. Reducing you to just another student fling feels wrong. But that’s what you are, right? There's been no confession of feelings, no grand gestures, no romantic dates or picture-perfect movie moments.
Despite the lack of relationship structure, everything with you feels different. It feels so intensely genuine. That’s the only way Hotch knows how to describe it to himself. Being with you makes him feel alive.
But if being with you is living, why does he feel this growing dread in the pit of the stomach as he walks up the stairs? He steps into his bedroom expecting to see you draped across his bed or struggling with the zipper on your dress, but he doesn’t see you anywhere, "Einstein?" He calls and then he sees the light coming from under the bathroom door and the distinct sounds of you sick in the bathroom.
He pushes open the door to see your arms on the toilet, your face hovering over the bowl. He lets out a small breath, bending down to your level so he can pull your hair out of your face. He pulls the hair tie off your wrist and messily ties your hair into the best ponytail he can manage. You groan in pain and he rubs your back gently. "Shh, you’re okay. I’ve got you," He presses a small kiss to your temple.
"I don’t want to have to choose," You let out a strangled cry and a small hiccup, lying your head on your forearms on the seat of the toilet. Hotch’s heart sinks at your words, "I can’t choose between falling for you and keeping my friendships."
"You won’t have to," He gets to his feet, reaching for a washcloth and dampening it in the sink. He bends back down to your level, gently lifting your head from your forearms, wiping your face and mouth, "Let’s get you up off the floor, okay?"
"Make the world stop spinning, please," You hold your arms up so he can lift you off the floor.
He sits you down on the edge of the bed, bending down to unzip your heels, placing them on the floor.
"He didn’t come. He’s my best friend and he didn’t come to my birthday," You chew at the skin on your lip, holding back tears, not wanting to turn into a weepy drunk. Especially in front of Hotch. He reaches around unzipping your dress, helping you out of it.
"I’m sorry," The apology is soft but Hotch knows it's partially his fault Charlie never showed. You’re right, you shouldn’t have to choose between him and your friends. He can already tell the way you’re pushing them away for time with him.
He helps pull one of his shirts over your head and pulls back the covers for you to crawl into his bed. "Please hold me," You mutter softly, "At least until the room stops spinning." Looking down at you, the way your eyes are threatening to spill over with tears, the mascara smudged, your hair tied back messily, pieces falling out of the ponytail, you look so helpless, so pure, so innocent and loving. He can’t stop himself from nodding and sitting next to you on the bed. He puts his arm behind your head, wrapping it around your shoulders.
"I don’t want to lose him to keep you," You lay your head against Hotch’s chest, gripping at his shirt tightly. Your tears fall against his dark green shirt, leaving small wet splotches. "I can’t let you go." You sniffle and shut your eyes in an attempt to get some rest and ease the sick feeling in your stomach.
"You won’t lose him." He shushes and gently plays with the ends of your hair, wrapping his other arm around the front of you, holding you tight against him. Your sniffles start to die down as you drift off to sleep, Hotch listening closely to your steady breathing.
He knows he’s not being fair with you. Every affair, every relationship he’s had, has been so simple, so uncomplicated. The semester is coming to an end soon and he knows exactly what he has to do. But sitting here staring down at you, the way your face is scrunched up in your sleep. He doesn’t want to let you go. It’s not just your body, it’s not the sex. It’s your biting wit, your intelligence, your humor.
It’s not how you look. It’s not the way that he knows your body better than he knows himself. It’s your heart and mind that captivate him. He’s so used to being and feeling alone, but you always make sure he never feels that way. It’s not in the obvious things. It’s in the subtleties. It’s in the small smiles you give him in passing. It’s in the way you always ask him about his day. It’s in your reassuring eye contact. When he speaks, he knows you’re listening. And you’re not just listening when he’s teaching or tutoring or sharing new information, you’re listening when he talks about himself.
Like today in his office. There was a palpable difference in the energy between you two. He knows that gift was personal, but he wanted to give it to you, and the way your face lit up when he did, tells him it was worth it. He wants to be selfish and hold onto you forever. He wants to spend every minute with you, but he knows that the more he draws you to him, the more he draws you away from your friends, from the world, from everything you want to achieve in life.
And that’s why, staring down at your sleeping form, he knows this must end.
Chapter 11: I.XI →
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youngbloodbuzz · 2 years
Okay, but why is it that Jamie always steps aside? Ever since they were kids and it was obvious that she has feelings for Dani, she never pushes her so unlike Eddie. And there were moments both back then and in present time when she could have made a move, crossed a boundary, but she doesn't. Come on, she helps the guy get the right flowers for Dani when they were going to the party, she watches Dani go with him and sends her back home with him, she helps him get the wedding place. There are moments when her resolve is tested by Dani herself but she is always as composed as ever.
i could like...legit write an essay on jamie's thought process and motivations, that it'd just inevitably turn into a fic in her pov lmao
expanding on that last ask too, there's just. So Much going on inside her head. she may Seem composed but she's feeling a lot that you just never see because she doesn't want or can't let dani see, and a lot of it is just...a Mess. just because she's done all these things, all done for dani's sake, eager to make her happy in some way even just indirectly, doesn't mean she's personally happy about it
there's many reasons why she's never assertive with her feelings and i could list all of it but then i feel like i'd be spoiling things and we've thought about trying our had at jamie's pov at some point.
like hold on lemme just point you in the direction of phoebe bridger's cover of it'll all work out for just a sneak peak of her thought process, or fuck even congratulations by blue october
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exostrangers · 2 years
I've been thinking about how cleopatra by the lumineers is such a yasha/zuala song and I've been emotional
adding it to my list to listen immediately!
(my personal big zuyasha song is phoebe bridgers cover of "it'll all work out" but i am ALWAYS open for more!)
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prohibitionincurls · 3 years
what're your favorite lumineers and phoebe bridgers albums/eps? i gotta know where i should start :)
the INHUMAN BIRD SCREECH I just let out oh my goodness where do I start 
lets begin with Phoebe. I fucking love both Punisher and Stranger in the Alps 
SitA is so gently heartbreaking, and incredible for a debut album. my favorite songs probably have to be chelsea, smoke signals, and killer, along with probably one of the most heartbreaking things (for me personally because it jabs me right in the ‘mildly traumatic past relationships’ bone) that shes ever written being the song ‘it’ll all work out’. 
Punisher is such a good fucking sophmore holy shit it just makes sense. its like an older, more developed and diverse tone from SitA but its still her, and you can really see that in the way that the music is different but the lyric still have that uniquely phoebe quailty and UGH what a development. the song punisher is increble (“here everyone knows you’re the key to my heart?” the lyrics itself is incredible but the way that they just strip it down? so its just her? UGH) but my favorites are probably definetly graceland too, ICU, and garden song, but also I know the end? theres a song for every mood its fucking masterful. 
and dont even get my started on boygenius and better oblivion community center. my favorite better oblivion song has to be “Little Trouble” but th lyric “that ghost is just a kid in a sheet” from Dylan Thomas is so fucking good. ugh. 
the lumineers hold a really really special place in my heart. They’re really the reason I started writing. Most artists (and im gonna be honest, including phoebe) are good at getting emotions across and thats really incredible, and like theres kind of a plot like vibe to individual songs. 
the lumineers are probably some of the most incredible story tellers ever. from the first album to right now, they’ve created absoloutly beautiful and heartbreaking narratives, with such diverse musical style and elements. its incredible. I love every album for different reasons. my favorite songs would probably have to be slow it down, stubborn love, gale song, ophelia, salt and the sea, leader of the landslide, sleep on the floor, and their covers of both walls and democracy. fucking incredible. im honestly probably gonna do a seperate post of all of my favorite lyrics, because I fucking love them, but the first tattoo im going to get is going to be a lumineers lyrics just because hole shit 
the opposite of love’s indifference. 
audrey you’ve brought out the music nerd in me im so sorry that this is so long and obviously feel free to just skip over it but holy shit do I love this stuff
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kmaybank · 3 years
I’m almost done with my new Jiara oneshot called Georgia, inspired by Phoebe Bridgers’ song. I’ve been working really hard on it and it’ll be out sometime next week, so I thought I’d share a quick sneak peek here 🥰
Kiara, in usual fashion, wanted to ask JJ what he was thinking — if he was cold and wanted her to grab another blanket from the living room, if he was planning on speaking to Georgia in the morning, if he had noticed that she used almond milk instead of whole when preparing his drink, and if he figured the stormy night would give him nightmares again. Instead, she settled for the comfortable silence that took over once JJ kissed her chastely on the forehead, like he always did when they slept like this, each day making it last a millisecond longer.
‘’Good night,’’ he whispered, releasing her body from his warm grip. ‘’Try not to steal all the covers tonight.’’
‘’You try not to snore like a freight train, how about that?’’
Kiara pulled the covers, only a little bit, leaving the lower half of JJ’s leg exposed to the cold early December weather, and he let out a snore so loud all of The Cut must have heard. After he did it for the third time, with a soft JJ, fine, you win, Kiara pulled the boy back under the covers and intertwined her legs with his, as if she wanted to make sure she wouldn’t lose him during the night.
Promise you won’t leave if things get hard again, she wanted to say. Good night was all that came out.
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bthenoise · 3 years
The Best Of 2020 As Picked By Members Of Underoath, The Amity Affliction, August Burns Red, Neck Deep, Movements and More
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Okay, we know what you’re thinking: Isn’t it a bit of an oxymoron to list the “best” things to come from such a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year? 
While yes, we completely agree with that statement, we would be remiss not to shine a light on all the wonderful things that helped us survive one of the most challenging years in recent memory -- you know, like best album, best song, best movie, etc.
So, as a way to help you count down the end of this miserable year (22 days, 7 hours and 52 minutes to go as of this writing), we’ve completely turned our year-end, best-of list over to the artists we cover on a daily basis. Because let’s face it, as we’ve noted in years past, their opinions are the ones we all really care about, right? 
To check out what members of Underoath, The Amity Affliction, August Burns Red, Neck Deep, Knuckle Puck, Movements, Counterparts, Hatebreed and more have all been obsessing over for the past year or so, be sure to see below. We hope you enjoy this final list as much as we do and wish you all the most peaceful and positive holiday season.
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Best Album of 2020: Tame Impala - The Slow Rush Best Song of 2020: Foster the People - “Lambs Wool” Best Music Video of 2020: Sir Sly - “Material Boy” (also one of the best songs of 2020) Most Underrated Album of 2020: The Chain Gang of 1974 - Honey Moon Drips Best Movie of 2020: Onward Most Binge-Worthy TV Show of 2020: American Horror Story Favorite Internet Moment of 2020: Metal Kenneth Copeland had me cracking up Best Concert You Attended/Played/Watched in 2020: I really enjoyed playing Lost In The Sound of Separation in full for the first time ever and it was our first ever live stream so it was super special and something I’ll never forget The Thing(s) That Helped Get You Through 2020: Writing tons of music, my lady, hiking/working out and my great dane Snoopy 2021 New Year’s Resolution: Put MORE art into the world
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Best Album of 2020:  Phoebe Bridgers - Punisher Best Song of 2020:  Spiritbox - “Holy Roller” Best Music Video of 2020:  Architects - “Black Lungs” Most Underrated Album of 2020: Lost For Life - We All Share The Blame Best Movie of 2020: Palm Springs Most Binge-Worthy TV Show of 2020: Queen’s Gambit Favorite Internet Moment of 2020: Donald Trump’s Twitter account. Concert You Attended/Played/Watched in 2020: Europe tour with Beartooth right before the pandemic. The Thing(s) That Helped Get You Through 2020: Drawing and painting 2021 New Year’s Resolution: Start smoking more
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Best Album of 2020: Hum - Inlet Best Song of 2020: Sir Sly - “All Your Love” Best Music Video of 2020: NOFX - “Live At Red Rocks” Most Underrated Album of 2020: Sea Wolf - Through A Dark Wood Best Movie of 2020: The Social Dilemma  Most Binge-Worthy TV Show of 2020: Queen’s Gambit Favorite Internet Moment of 2020: https://youtu.be/0JPRvxTjfOk Best Concert You Attended/Played/Watched in 2020: Best show I played this year was our Thrill Seeker 15 Year Anniversary livestream, though I hope that we one-up that show on Dec 12th when we do our Christmas Burns Red show. The Thing(s) That Helped Get You Through 2020: The return of live sports, specifically baseball and especially football. Fantasy sports have been my 2020 escape. 2021 New Year’s Resolution: I’d like to look on the bright side more. 2020 has been an easy year to focus on the negative. I don’t want to be that way next year (or ever).
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Best Album of 2020: Tie between HAIM's Women In Music Pt. III or Owen’s The Avalanche or Slow Pulp’s Movey
Best Song of 2020: “Me & You Together Song” by The 1975
Best Music Video of 2020: Faye Webster’s “Better Distractions” or Phoebe Bridgers’ “I Know The End” or HAIM’s “Man From The Magazine”
Most Underrated Album of 2020: Burst by Snarls
Best Movie of 2020: Dang, what movies came out this year? Each year, I gauge the movies I saw by recounting seeing them in theaters, but  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I really enjoyed Portrait of a Lady On Fire though and I saw Uncut Gems on New Year’s Day this year, so I’m counting that as well.
Most Binge-Worthy TV Show of 2020: I’m really bad with keeping up with contemporary television, but I am always watching The Sopranos on a loop. I've had so many people tell me this year that they started watching Sopranos because of all the extra time at home, so I loved living vicariously through others watching it for the first time. I’ve also been binging 30 Rock for the first time and it is simply a delight.
Favorite Internet Moment of 2020: Phoebe Bridgers and Maggie Rogers’ “Iris” cover album art.
Best Concert You Attended/Played/Watched in 2020: Back in February, we played at Beat Kitchen in Chicago with Heart Attack Man and One Step Closer to begin the only tour we would do this year. We hadn’t played there in years, but it felt so good to be back in that venue’s atmosphere again.
The Thing(s) That Helped Get You Through 2020: My girlfriend, staying connected with my friends and family, riding my bike around the city, having time to somewhat enjoy summer at home in Chicago and revisiting favorite movies of mine.
2021 New Year’s Resolution: Be kinder to others and kinder to myself.
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Best Album of 2020: Punisher - Phoebe Bridgers Best Song of 2020: Too many to pick just one Best Music Video of 2020: “Popstar” - Drake/DJ Khaled Most Underrated Album of 2020: Marigold - Pinegrove Best Movie of 2020: Borat 2 Most Binge-Worthy TV Show of 2020: The Mandalorian Favorite Internet Moment of 2020: Cranberry juice skateboard guy Best Concert You Attended/Played/Watched in 2020: LDB Fest in Louisville Kentucky 2020, BC (before Covid) The Thing(s) That Helped Get You Through 2020: Video games and comfort food 2021 New Year’s Resolution: Let’s be honest, I’m not sticking to any resolutions
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Best Album of 2020: I haven't even heard it yet, but I'm pretty sure it'll be the new Seahaven record. Band fucking rocks and I've been waiting like 6 years for new music.
Best Song of 2020: The 1975 - “If You're Too Shy (Let Me Know)”
Best Music Video of 2020: It's a tie, but I'm gonna have to go with “Spirit Halloween Theme Song” and the follow up “Unleash Your Spirit” both by Nick Lutsko.
Most Underrated Album of 2020: Chamber - Cost of Sacrifice
Best Movie of 2020: I don't think I've watched any movies that came out this year other than the new Borat, so I guess that's my pick by default. It was VERY NICE!! I wish I could marry the movie so the movie could be MY WIFE!! Get it? You get it. We all get it. It's great. 
Most Binge-Worthy TV Show of 2020: Again, I've been slacking in terms of newer movies/tv and honestly, I just kinda alternate between watching The Simpsons seasons 3-9 and then watching Kenny Vs Spenny from beginning to end. If you haven't seen KvS, the entire series is on YouTube so please just watch it. I promise it's the best thing to come out of Canada... me being the second best.
Favorite Internet Moment of 2020: When we released the embroidered NLTL hoodie and everyone filled their diapers with shit.
Best Concert You Attended/Played/Watched in 2020: Tough call, but it's gotta be either the Chainsmokers concert in the Hamptons or the biker festival in Sturgis that Smash Mouth played.
The Thing(s) That Helped Get You Through 2020: Alcohol, adopting my cat Kuma and finally being diagnosed with ADD so I could get a Vyvanse prescription.
2021 New Year’s Resolution: Play a single show LMAOOOOOO
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Best Album of 2020: Bring Me The Horizon - Post Human: Survival Horror Best Song of 2020: Bring Me The Horizon - “Parasite Eve" Best Music Video of 2020: Bring Me The Horizon feat Yungblud - “OBEY" Most Underrated Album of 2020: Silverstein - A Beautiful Place To Drown Best Movie of 2020: Tenet  Most Binge-Worthy TV Show of 2020: The Mandalorian     Favorite Internet Moment of 2020: Baby Yoda memes Best Concert You Attended/Played/Watched in 2020: Beartooth drive-in show in Oshkosh, WI The Thing(s) That Helped Get You Through 2020: Call of Duty: Warzone  2021 New Year’s Resolution: Stop spending so much money on Star Wars toys
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Best Album of 2020: Insect Ark - The Vanishing Best Song of 2020: clipping. - “Say The Name” Best Music Video of 2020: Billie Eilish - “Everything I Wanted” Most Underrated Album of 2020: Thundercat - It Is What It Is Best Movie of 2020: The Social Dilemma Most Binge Worthy TV Show of 2020: The Mandalorian Favorite Internet Moment of 2020: Any of the “My Plans for 2020” memes Best Concert You Attended/Played/Watched in 2020: Atreyu - Melbourne, Australia @ Max Watts, Feb 2020. Things that helped you get through 2020: Guitar, video games, hanging with the wife and cat, finishing an album, Atreyu “Carry the Fire” livestream and lots of junk food. 2021 New Year Resolution: Gonna try to have more of that PMA.
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Best Album of 2020: Napalm Death - Throes of Joy In The Jaws Of Defeatism
Best Song of 2020:  See question #1.  Pick any song from it.  
Best Music Video of 2020:  I don’t have one. I miss the infant days of MTV when music videos were new, fresh and hypnotizing. I used to sit for hours and wait for the Van Halen “Jump” video to come on.  So, I’ll go with that music video for this question. Can I do that?
Most Underrated Album of 2020: Hum - Inlet
Best Movie of 2020: The Mandalorian series.  I rarely watch full movies anymore. It’s all about getting sucked into a TV series.  
Most Binge-Worthy TV Show of 2020: Can’t choose only one. The Queen’s Gambit, The Mandalorian, Living With Yourself, Dead To Me…
Favorite Internet Moment of 2020: Anything posted on kookslams. I could surf that Insta account all damn day!!!
Best Concert You Attended/Played/Watched in 2020: None. We have all been stuck at home. So, best attended/played/watched is me, myself and I crushing it on my basement practice jams. Or falling down the rabbit-hole watching drum solos or drum clips on youtube.  
The Thing(s) That Helped Get You Through 2020: 1- I got married in May so that was a huge event that we made happen and enjoyed, given the current craziness. Couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day. 2- Our dog, Ziti. He is a constant source of entertainment. 3- Yoga. 4- Ripping around on my mini-bike.
2021 New Year’s Resolution: Drink more water.  Spend less time looking at my phone.  Get back to playing shows again!!!
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Best Album of 2020: Haim - Women In Music Pt. III
Best Song of 2020: Seaway - “Big Vibe”
Best Music Video of 2020: The 1975 - “The Birthday Party”
Most Underrated Album of 2020: I don’t really know what’s underrated and I’ve not listened to a bunch this year but Knuckle Puck 20/20 is a great album that people should go check out if they haven’t already.
Best Movie of 2020: The Trial of the Chicago 7
Most Binge-Worthy TV Show of 2020: Schitt’s Creek. Although this wasn’t strictly all released in 2020, the final season was and I hadn’t seen any before this year. It was amazing and I definitely binged the whole thing. Final season is a tear jerker for sure. Best Concert You Attended/Played/Watched in 2020: Well like most people in music we didn’t get to play a show this year, however, I did attend a Counterparts show in Feb at Rock City which ruled! Static Dress were also on the tour so was great getting to finally see them!
The Thing(s) That Helped Get You Through 2020: Call of Duty - Warzone. Can’t say I’m proud about this one but It helped pass time if nothing else. More serious though, I bought my girlfriend a kitten a few months ago and he’s been a bundle of joy for us. 2021 New Year’s Resolution: Enjoy the little things. This year took a lot of normality out of life and it’s given me a lot of time to reflect and look back on things I’ve done and we’ve done as a band. It’s easy to get caught up and just be thinking about what’s next and not really live in that moment, so next year I’ll be savoring every moment and every show we get.
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Best Album of 2020: This is so tough but I think Deftones’ Ohms is my favorite album of the year. 
Best Song of 2020: I really don’t know if I can pick one but my most listened to was “The Spell of Mathematics” by Deftones
Best Music Video of 2020: I absolutely loved the Bring Me the Horizon video for “Parasite Eve.” But also, the “Ohms” video by Deftones was unreal as well.
Most Underrated Album of 2020: There really are a few I believe. It was a very weird year to put out a record so I think a TON of albums flew under the radar which is a bummer because there was so much great music put out. I think Four Year Strong's Brain Pain was amazing and their best album to date. I think Hundredth’s Somewhere Nowhere was unreal. Rich People put out Harmony in August and I absolutely love that record and those boys. The Killers put a record out called Imploding the Mirage that has some absolute heaters on it as well. The Ghost Inside made a wild comeback with Aftermath that makes you want to go ape shit front to back. Finally, I’d say The Used made an amazing album that caught them right back up with making great music. Not that they didn’t on the previous records, but it feels like they found themselves again. They pushed a lot of boundaries on Heartwork and had some insane songwriting on that record.
Best Movie of 2020: To be honest, I didn’t really watch many new movies this year. The Social Dilemma was super eye-opening and very true. If you dig creepy thrillers, The Devil All the Time was probably top for me. A ton of great actors and just such an eerie vibe in the cinematography.  
Most Binge-Worthy TV Show of 2020: I feel like the easy answer is Tiger King, but I really dug The Queen’s Gambit and The Undoing as of late.
Favorite Internet Moment of 2020: I hate the internet really, there is just so much bullshit overload that I can’t even process it all. With that said, when Joe Exotic threw on his EMS jacket when his employee got her arm bit off by a tiger, THAT was UNREAL. I was crying laughing. This man had this jacket for a moment like this. He is wearing this EMS bomber with king tight white jeans, a true fashion icon. The memes that followed were priceless. The “I am never gunna financially recover from this…” memes. So great.
Best Concert You Attended/Played/Watched in 2020: I would have to say the best show I attended this year was the Dashboard Confessional anniversary shows in Detroit. It was back to back nights where Chris played 'The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most’ and ‘A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar.’ in their entirety. He did some older stuff as well off of the ’So Impossible' EP and ‘Swiss Army Romance’ which rocked. Best show we played would have to be on our headliner earlier this year. We played The Observatory in Santa Ana, CA and it was unreal. Best watched show was probably the Puscifer live stream or the Underoath stream. 
The Thing(s) That Helped Get You Through 2020: I think it was the ability to write more than we usually are able to and kind of tighten up the behind the scenes aspects of Grayscale that people don’t often see. Beyond that, being able to spend time with loved ones and family has been great. It’s been a great year for self reflection as well and I feel like that’s always a good thing when you can get a fresh perspective on life when things get shaken up. I’ve been super thankful even more so this year for the people I have in my life and the opportunities I’ve been given. Those are some of the big things that got me through.
2021 New Year’s Resolution: Honestly, I am not much of a resolution guy, but I’d say just give my all to everything I am passionate about and treat everyone with love. Playing shows in 2021 would be absolutely ideal for a resolutions well.
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Best Album of 2020: Starbenders - Love Potions Best Song of 2020: “You About To Lose Your Job” Best Music Video of 2020: In This Moment - “As Above So Below” Most Underrated Album of 2020: Creeper - Sex, Death and the Infinite Void Best Movie of 2020: Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey Most Binge-Worthy TV Show of 2020: Queen’s Gambit Favorite Internet Moment of 2020: Ocean Spray Fleetwood Mac guy. Best Concert You Attended/Played/Watched in 2020: uhhhhh - welcome to hell. I attended exactly one concert this year and that was a live stream for BVB. The Thing(s) That Helped Get You Through 2020: Music, YouTube, good shows, my babe, my pets and staying busy. 2021 New Year’s Resolution: To get the fuck out of the house 😂. On a more music related note - put my album out ✨
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Best Album of 2020: Into the Raging Sea by Broadside Best Song of 2020: “Watermelon Sugar” by Harry Styles Best Music Video of 2020: “Parasite Eve” - Bring Me The Horizon Most Underrated Album of 2020: Into the Raging Sea by Broadside Best Movie of 2020: Palm Springs Most Binge-Worthy TV Show of 2020: 90 Day Fiancé Favorite Internet Moment of 2020: Anything involving our EX president Best Concert You Attended/Played/Watched in 2020: *one long sigh* The Thing(s) That Helped Get You Through 2020: My miniature dachshund puppy and books 2021 New Year’s Resolution: Never take seeing someone's whole face for granted again
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Best Album of 2020: Songs For The General Public - The Lemon Twigs Best Song of 2020: “War” - Idles Best Music Video of 2020: I haven’t seen any Most Underrated Album of 2020: DIVE - I am the Avalanche Best Movie of 2020: On the Rocks Most Binge-Worthy TV Show of 2020: Jeopardy on DVR. RIP ALEX TREBEK Favorite Internet Moment of 2020: Four Seasons Total Landscaping Best Concert You Attended/Played/Watched in 2020: Constant Elevation/ Rule Them All @ Max Fish NYC The Thing(s) That Helped Get You Through 2020: Jon Oliver, beer, weed, whiskey, Liverpool Football Club, friends, family, music. 2021 New Year’s Resolution: To spread more joy than ever
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Best Album of 2020: Folklore by Taylor Swift Best Song of 2020: “How Big Is Your Brain” by Super American Best Music Video of 2020: “The Birthday Party” by the 1975 Most Underrated Album of 2020: Women In Music pt. III by Haim Best Movie of 2020: Tenet Most Binge-Worthy TV Show of 2020: Ozark Favorite Internet Moment of 2020: Pretending to break up my band Best Concert You Attended/Played/Watched in 2020: Playing Tampa, FL back in March The Thing(s) That Helped Get You Through 2020: Zoom calls 2021 New Year’s Resolution: Be the best live band when shows come back
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Best Album of 2020: Man there’s a few really good ones that make it so hard to choose. I really enjoyed Loathe’s I Let It In And It Took Everything but I gotta shout out Like Moths to Flames’s No Eternity in Gold and Bring Me The Horizon’s Post Human for sure.
Best Song of 2020: Another insanely hard question! I guess I’m gonna say “Teardrops” by Bring Me The Horizon but again I’m gonna also shout out “Animals” by Architects
Best Music Video of 2020: “Teardrops” by Bring Me The Horizon. If you couldn’t tell I’m a big fan of them haha
Most Underrated Album of 2020: Idk if I’d say it’s underrated but I absolutely loved Make Them Suffer’s How to Survive a Funeral
Best Movie of 2020: I haven’t even seen it yet, but I know it’s gonna be Tenet
Most Binge-Worthy TV Show of 2020: Lovecraft Country
Favorite Internet Moment of 2020: There’s so many it’s hard for me to retain any of them. I can’t keep track.
Best Concert You Attended/Played/Watched in 2020: Well my band sold out every show we played this year which was only one haha but for real it was an awesome time and I love hearing our lyrics screamed back at us.
The Thing(s) That Helped Get You Through 2020: My wife, our new daughter, Indi, and our album PASSENGER 100%
2021 New Year’s Resolution: My wife and I just had our first daughter so it’s gonna be to be the best father I can possibly be and write as many songs as possible until we can rip shows again.
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Best Album of 2020: Punisher - Phoebe Bridgers Best Song of 2020: “Dying Breed” - The Killers  Best Music Video of 2020: Nothing But Thieves - “Impossible” Most Underrated Album of 2020: Color Theory - Soccer Mommy Best Movie of 2020: The Go-Go’s Most Binge-Worthy TV Show of 2020: Dave Favorite Internet Moment of 2020: Four Seasons Total Landscaping  Best Concert You Attended/Played/Watched in 2020: :( The Thing(s) That Helped Get You Through 2020: Pro Tools 2021 New Year’s Resolution: Spend more time outside of the studio
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Best Album of 2020: It’s hard to pick one, but a few I really enjoyed are Father Of All… by Greenday, Ugly Is The New Beautiful by Oliver Tree and RTJ4 by Run The Jewels Best Song of 2020: There has been so many amazing songs released this year it feels impossible picking just one Best Music Video of 2020: Any Oliver Tree music video from his recent album Most Underrated Album of 2020: Watchito Rico by Boy Pablo Most Binge-Worthy TV Show of 2020: Tiger King Favorite Internet Moment of 2020: Tiger King memes were pretty great Best Concert You Attended/Played/Watched in 2020: Probably the Sugar Ray livestream The Thing(s) That Helped Get You Through 2020: Zoom parties, friends/family, writing music, netflix, and lots of self care 2021 New Year’s Resolution: Getting back on the road!
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Best Album of 2020: Purity Ring - WOMB Best Song of 2020: “Headlights on the Parade” - The Blue Nile Best Music Video of 2020: “When Doves Cry” - Prince Most Underrated Album of 2020: The Hot N’ Heavy - Drop Dead, Gorgeous Best Movie of 2020: Joker (shit was crazy bro) Most Binge-Worthy TV Show of 2020: Devs Favorite Internet Moment of 2020: Trump getting COVID Best Concert You Attended/Played/Watched in 2020: The only band I saw this year was Single Mothers. Their drummer is very handsome. The Thing(s) That Helped Get You Through 2020: HBO’s Oz 2021 New Year’s Resolution: Get yourself together. Move to Philly. Buy a loft. Start a noise band. Get 6 or 7 roommates. Eat hummus with them. Book some gigs. Paint. Smoke cloves. Listen to Animal Collective. Start some type of salsa company. KEITH HIGGINS
Best Album of 2020: Endless Twilight of Codependent Love - Sólstafir Best Song of 2020: “Oh Ruthless Great Divine Director” - Lingua Ignota Best Music Video of 2020: Hot Gospel or Cane Hill Most Underrated Album of 2020: Grave of a Dog - Sightless Pit Best Movie of 2020: Color Out of Space Most Binge-Worthy TV Show of 2020: The Mandalorian Favorite Internet Moment of 2020: Trump getting COVID was top tier Best Concert You Attended/Played/Watched in 2020: LOL The Thing(s) That Helped Get You Through 2020: Destiny 2, dogs and a lot of repressing things 2021 New Year’s Resolution: Turn my brain back on and be a person again hopefully
Best Album of 2020: Underneath - Code Orange Best Song of 2020: “Boss Bitch” - Doja Cat Best Music Video of 2020: “Swallowing The Rabbit Whole” - Code Orange Most Underrated Album of 2020: I Disagree - Poppy Best Movie of 2020: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan Most Binge-Worthy TV Show of 2020: Mandalorian Favorite Internet Moment of 2020: The fly landing on Mike Pence’s head Best Concert You Attended/Played/Watched in 2020: Darkest Hour  The Thing(s) That Helped Get You Through 2020: Writing music for the next album.  2021 New Year’s Resolution: Get the next album process set up. 
Best Album of 2020: Poppy - I Disagree. While critics might write this off as a unique, albeit kitsch blending of genres, this record is one of the more satisfying emotional journeys I’ve been on in quite some time. Poppy is able to capture a strange sort of sadness within these songs, that ironically, is often read as mere jouissance. Best Song of 2020: Poppy - “Sick of the Sun” Best Music Video of 2020: Run The Jewels - “Ooh La La” Most Underrated Album of 2020: Sound VVitch - Becoming. Imagine taking something like Chelsea Wolfe but leaning more into an experimental direction that is both sonically beautiful and grotesque. Best Movie of 2020: I’m Thinking of Ending Things, directed by Charlie Kaufman. It’s a shame that a lot of movies got pushed back this year. I think because of this, I didn’t wind up watching many movies from 2020, instead I used the pandemic to try to catch up on films from the past that I never seem to find time for. Still, I’ve come to really appreciate the journey that Kaufman seems to always insist on taking me. Most Binge-Worthy TV Show of 2020: Admittedly, I also haven’t watched a ton of new TV shows this year. But, there were both new seasons of Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Eric Andre Show, which always finds a way to make me happy. However, in terms of 2020 itself, I did finally watch The Sopranos for the first time and it completely lived up to the hype. Just an incredible TV show all around. I also binge watched all of Tim Heidecker’s On Cinema at the Cinema, which is quite the ride. There’s a whole cinematic universe for that TV show, it’s insane. I give it five bags of popcorn. Favorite Internet Moment of 2020: Conner O’Malley’s video where he learns how to communicate with trains got me pretty good. Best Concert You Attended/Played/Watched in 2020: I thought the Code Orange live stream acoustic set was pretty neat. The Thing(s) That Helped Get You Through 2020: Marijuana and Magic The Gathering. 2021 New Year’s Resolution: Try not to die.
Best Album of 2020: 1. High Road - Kesha. Basically, Kesha wrote an incredibly intense, emotional and fucking hilarious album about living her truth and telling all her haters to eat a dick and that’s really all I’ve ever needed in life.
2. “WAP” burned twelve times onto a CD-R from Best Buy. This one fucking song is a better album than 95% of anything I’ve ever heard and I’m a huge fan of anything related to black women kicking ass and taking names, sex and kink positivity, and insanely clever and funny lyrics. Plus, ANYTHING that makes weak, sexist, insecure men as BIG MAD as this song did is literally my kink.
Best Song of 2020: “My Own Dance” - Kesha.
 Best Music Video of 2020: “Say Nothing (In The Absence Of Content).” Fuck anyone who disagrees, that shit is iconic. Second runner up goes to “The Gray” because Peter made that whole fucking video himself and it’s POWERFUL and I still cry every single time I watch it.
 Most Underrated Album of 2020: Vagina Witchcraft’s self titled record. If you didn’t already notice, I’m pretty fucking done with listening to cis straight white dudes be ANGERY for half an hour; so this album is SUCH a breath of fresh air in a genre that’s become incredibly boring and derivative as of late. Listen to Vagina Witchcraft for sonically inventive, sludgy hardcore, bone-chilling vocal delivery and lyrics that are simultaneously calculated yet raw, and that ACTUALLY FUCKING SAY THINGS THAT ARE IMPORTANT AND RELEVANT AND SO FUCKING URGENT RIGHT NOW. 
 Best Movie of 2020: Miss Americana - The Taylor Swift documentary. One of the most validating things I’ve ever watched in my life and I ugly cried though the whole thing. I fucking love that woman. Most Binge-Worthy TV Show of 2020: I don’t watch TV… Does a YouTube series about voice actors playing D&D count? If so, my answer is Critical Role. Don’t try to binge it though, each episode is like 4 hours and there’s over a hundred episodes.
 Favorite Internet Moment of 2020: Hardcore twitter taking my band way too seriously and as a result of their own hubris, accidentally blowing up our music video and record release, and getting us exponentially more attention than we would have if those losers would just finally learn to fuck off and leave us alone! NICE GOING MOTHERFUCKERS I OWE YA ONE! *blows a kiss* Also, everything Lizzo did. DID YOU SEE HER “FLY IN MIKE PENCE’S HAIR” COSTUME?!?!
Best Concert You Attended/Played/Watched in 2020: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA GOOD ONE. 
I think the only live music related thing I even went to was a Drum & Bass show back in February in Brooklyn with Dimension, Sub Focus, and Culture Shock. I danced with my friends and drank Bright Fox. It was a simpler time.
 The Thing(s) That Helped Get You Through 2020: D&D, getting a suet feeder to watch birds outside my window and my bootcamp, Launch Academy, with all my brilliant and incredible Boston 30 Cohort-mates. Also, the warm weight of knowing that this coming year, a lot of terrible, evil, abusive people in the world are gonna finally get their comeuppance and I’m making popcorn with EXTRA salt.
 2021 New Year’s Resolution: Ohhhh I’m not going to spoil the surprise for you! But let’s just say I’m planning on using my new superpowers as a full stack software engineer, combined with my old superpowers as a vindictive and enraged bitch who hates rapists, to make the world a safer and more just place.
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