[AtLA] Induction

“Have I mentioned how adorable you look in your new uniform?” Ty Lee says in what she probably thinks is a whisper but Sokka is sure that everyone in the dedication room, along with the entire Earth Kingdom, heard her anyway.

He resists the urge to facepalm, folds his hands behind his back, and thinks very mature and responsible thoughts. Thoughts that do not include whispering compliments to his fellow inductee in the middle of their induction ceremony.

“So I noticed how you didn’t come with Suki today…”

Sokka grits his teeth. That is a matter which is still a point of contention for him.

“Does that mean you’re single?”

“No,” Sokka says through a clenched jaw, a low hiss that he hopes goes no further than the two of them. “For your information, we are on a break.”

Ty Lee tilts her head to the side, lips forming into a moue of confusion. “Does that mean you’re free to see other people?”

Sokka wants to shout a definitive negative, but he distinctly remember Suki saying that the point of the break is to see if they would be more interested in someone else.

“Because, you know, I’ll bet Suki is seeing other guys,” Ty Lee says, and with her hands clasped behind her back, she swings her body toward him, her smile bright and sparkling.

He opens his mouth, ready for another snarky retort, when a shadow falls over both young adults. Sokka looks up, reddens, realizing he hasn’t paid the slightest bit of attention to the ceremony. For that matter, neither has Ty Lee.

Sokka looks up at Iroh and grins uneasily. “Umm… yes?” he says, both a statement and a question, hoping that they are all looking at him because they want an answer.

Someone in the background giggles. Sokka’s sure that it was Katara.

Iroh, instead of looking thunderously angry, just grins in that amused way of his and winks at Sokka. “The perfect answer,” he says, and lifts his arms, encouraging everyone to clap.

Sokka breathes a sigh of relief, and for once, not even Ty Lee’s giggling annoys him. In fact, there’s something just a bit charming about that sparkle in her eyes.

Suki, eat your heart out.

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[RB] A Study in Focus

It takes all he has to keep from giggling. He can’t seem to get in the proper mindset, despite all the prepwork he’d done beforehand. There’s only so much one can learn from a datapad, you know. Especially the technical manual that Chase had slid into the stack when he thought Blades wouldn’t notice.

Pfft.

Anyway, yes. Blade is having trouble focusing. Because there Heatwave is, paying attention to Blades. Full attention. And he’s not being mean or yelling or telling Blades what he did wrong.

He’s just waiting. Waiting for Blades to take command.

“Um. So.” Blades taps his fingers together. “I guess I should just go ahead and start.”

“Any minute now, yeah, that would be great,” Heatwave replies, a touch of frustration in his voice. Though Blades had to give him credit. He hasn’t gotten growly yet.

“Hey!” Blades plants his hands on his hips. “I’m the one in charge here. Well, I mean, technically you’re in charge, but I’m supposed to be taking care of you and–”

“Blades,” Heatwave interrupts with a gentleness to his voice that Blades rarely gets to hear. “You’re overthinking it. You’re going to do fine.”

His face heats. “Okay.” Blades shutters his optics and cycles a deep ventilation like Boulder taught him.

“Okay,” Blades repeats and looks down at Heatwave. “If you want to stop, just say stop.”

Heatwave nods. “Yes, sir.”

Oh. Oh, Primus.

Blades swallows down another nervous laugh. “And, um, put your hands behind your back. Keep them there.”

Heatwave obeys, his optics following Blades with patience. It’s like he’s become another person, taken on a role. Like an actor in one of Cody’s movies.

Oh. Oh.

And finally, it clicks. Blades understands. He thinks, yes. Yes, I can do this.

“Good,” he says, not Blades the Rescue Bot, but Blades the Dominant whom Heatwave trusts. “Very, very good. Now we can start.”

[TFA] Disciplinary Procedure

“You did really well, you know,” Ratchet said as he stroked his fingers down Bumblebee’s arms, careful to avoid his seams, intending for each motion to be soothing.

Bumblebee’s field flushed with a sort of embarrassed pride. “Oh, um, thanks,” he said, quietly for once. He squirmed a little in Ratchet’s lap. “I didn’t think I would like something like that. How do you even know about it?”

“Cause I’m old,” Ratchet said with a self-deprecating laugh. “Old and rusted. Of course I know everything.”

“Pfft. You’re not that old,” Bumblebee retorted and he pushed back, rubbing his frame against Ratchet’s. “And old’s not a bad thing.”

“Weren’t you just saying last week that I was creaking when I walked?” Ratchet countered with an arched orbital ridge.

“Yeah, but, I didn’t mean it.” Bumblebee squirmed again until he turned on his front, planting his legs to either side of Ratchet’s waist so he was seated in Ratchet’s lap again, only this time facing him. “I was only teasing. I’m all talk. You know that, Ratch.”

He tucked his hands under Bumblebee’s aft, holding the smaller mech in place. “Yeah, I do, brat.” He tilted his helm forward, pressing their forehelms together. “So. You good with what we did?”

Bumblebee’s hands rested on his windshield. They were still trembling a little, an aftereffect of the stimulation Ratchet had given him. Not for the sake of pleasure, but for the sake of control.

“Yeah. Surprisingly.” His gaze wandered away as his faceplate heated in what Sari would tease him about it being a blush. “I, uh, wouldn’t mind doing it again.” His glossa swept over his lips again as he rolled his hips forward. “It actually left me a little hot.”

Ratchet’s orbital ridges rose. “Did it now? That wasn’t my intention, you know.”

Bumblebee shrugged. “Guess I’m kinkier than you thought. And I thought.” He paused and then laughed, though his squirming grew more intense. “Guess I didn’t really learn that control, huh?”

Ratchet chuckled, patting Bumblebee’s aft gently. “No. I’ll have to try something else in the future. See what I’ve got stored in my databanks.”

“Now you’ve got me curious.” Bumblebee purred, his engine giving a rev that was probably loud enough to be heard in the hall. “Curious and excited.” As if to emphasis the latter, he rocked his hips, rubbing his panel against Ratchet’s ventrum.

Ratchet hummed and patted Bumblebee’s aft again. “Maybe just let me hold you for now.”

“Why? So you can send me off to Prowl all revved up?” Bumblebee asked.

“Exactly.” Ratchet grinned, smug. “I get the fun part. He gets the messy one.”

“Figures.” Bumblebee slumped against his frame, still heating up, but at least actively focusing on throttling it back for now.

One of Ratchet’s hands shifted to his backplate, stroking it gently. He sent Prowl a ping, letting him know to come retrieve his disciplined – for lack of a better word – mate.

Or at least, as disciplined as Bumblebee was going to get.

[Bleach] Edge of Heaven

“How does it feel to be home?”

The question is innocent and well-intentioned. Kisuke fights back a snort, a callous snap that Seireitei hasn’t been home for a long time. Jyuushirou doesn’t deserve his vitriol.

“It’s different,” he answers, leaning against the windowsill and looking out, staring up at Soul Society’s blue sky that’s just as blue as that in Karakura’s. “It’s not the same as I remember.” And yet, it hadn’t changed and that makes Kisuke’s insides twist a little.

The captain of the thirteenth division chuckles softly and moves to stand beside Kisuke, brown eyes turned toward the same view. “Even we Shinigami are capable of change.”

And sometimes they are not and pathetically stay the same. But again, this is something that Kisuke keeps to himself. He’s been allowed back and pardoned, never mind the fact that it had never been his fault in the first place. That it was all Aizen’s doing. Seireitei and Chamber 46 don’t like admitting they had been wrong, that they had all been successfully manipulated by Aizen’s machinations.

So here Kisuke is. Back “home.” Except, it doesn’t feel much like home anymore. It’s not welcoming or inviting or comfortable. It makes him long for his shop in Karakura. There’s nothing here for him, not anymore.

“Urahara-kun….” Jyuushirou hesitates, sounding unsure, and if that isn’t a rarity, Kisuke doesn’t know what is.

He turns, lets his lips curl in the semblance of a smile, shifting to lean against the window ledge. “Since when have we reverted to such formalities, Ukitake-taichou?” Kisuke’s not wearing his hat; it’s sitting on Jyuushirou’s desk, and in that moment, Kisuke wishes for the concealment of it. He feels a little hurt, not that he’ll admit it aloud.

The tiniest flinch in Jyuushirou’s expression is smoothed away by a light grin. “I didn’t want to overstep my boundaries. It’s been decades… Kisuke.”

A century, to be more precise, but Kisuke doesn’t want the reminder anymore than Jyuushirou does. There’s less than a foot between them, but the distance feels much wider.

Kisuke inclines his head. “Do you think my attentions so fickle?”

Relief warms Jyuushirou’s gaze. “No. But I wouldn’t blame you if they were.” He lifts a hand, offering it to the shopkeeper. “Welcome home, Kisuke.”

“It’s good to be back,” Kisuke replies, and this time he means it.

[Bleach] Not Quite Emo

He thought about moping. He considered the idea of moping. He actually even tried it, pulling his lips down into a frown and staring disconsolately out into the distance. He supposed in hindsight that might have been what started the rumors. Especially since Abarai-kun had walked past him at that exact instant, automatically assuming the worst.

“Poor Izuru,” they said. “He just wasn’t getting over that bastard Ichimaru’s betrayal.”

Pfft.

Izuru knew better than that. He was glad the creep was gone. But once the rumors had started, he couldn’t get them to stop, and then, people saw what they wanted to see and not what was really there. So they labeled him as depressed and melancholy and all sorts of morose terms that he didn’t really want associated with him but had to accept anyway.

At first, he thought that maybe he ought to mourn. Ichimaru was his captain, after all, and feelings of betrayal didlinger. However, considering how he had been deceived, Izuru was more angry than upset. His captain had made him look like a fool several times over. And even now, Gin was still doing it because everyone thought that poor Izuru was moping.

He supposed, considering Hinamori-chan’s state of pure insanity, that they expected the same from him. Then again, no one thought Hisagi-san had slipped into an endless depression of misery and woe, and Izuru wasn’t nearly as friendly with his former captain as Hisagi-senpai had been.

Well admittedly, there was a part of him that had worshiped the very ground that Ichimaru walked on. The man was amazing, and once upon a time, he had believed in Izuru, believed that the skinny blond with the all-too-innocent eyes might one day become a strong Shinigami. Though even now, Izuru was beginning to doubt that just a little bit. Perhaps Ichimaru was just looking for someone corruptible.

He wondered if it was too cruel of him to vow to become strong enough to kick Ichimaru’s ass the next time they met. To show Ichimaru that he actually wasstrong enough and not just some toy that could be played with and then tossed away.

So no, Izuru was absolutely not moping about the betrayal. He was not locked in his room, wrapped around a pillow and weeping his eyes out. He was not roaming around with a lost look on his face or begging his best friend to show Ichimaru the error of his ways because surely “he’s just confused.”

No, Izuru was glad that the bastard was gone because now he could finally shine. Now, he could come out from his captain’s shadow and prove that he’s more than just a pretty blond with a sword. Now, he could show everyone that their initial thoughts of him were wrong ,and hewas that strong and not even Ichimaru’s betrayal could send him into the deepest pits of depression.

And Izuru planned on showing them soon, too. Right away. Or at least, in a couple of weeks.

He just wanted to milk the unwanted sympathy a little while longer. No one made chocolate-chip brownies or yummy deserts like Kotetsu-fukutaichou, and Matsumoto-san was more willing to part with the good alcohol now that they had a “bond of loneliness.” And Unohana-taichou, who always had the best tea, was now sending him supposedly anonymous care packages. He was rapidly becoming addicted to having lazy days where he didn’t have to do any paperwork thanks to Ise-san. Honestly, he had been getting rather tired of doing it all himself for the last decade or so.

And even his male friends and the men of Seireitei were getting into the act. He had a wonderful new brush set and as many books as he could possibly read thanks to Abarai-kun and Iba-kun, not to mention that they practically waited on him hand and foot. His wardrobe was growing exponentially from all the beautiful kimono Ayasegawa-san insisted on bringing him. And he had never eaten so well with all the food Kyouraku-taichou and Ukitake-taichou sent to him.

No, Izuru was absolutely not torn by Ichimaru’s absence. The third division was a bit brighter now, the windows thrown wide open. He found he could stand a bit straighter and that Wabisuke wasn’t as heavy as he used to be. Izuru thought that maybe he could try smiling again.

But not for a little while yet.

He still wanted those brownies.

[Bleach] Exception

There was an exception to every rule, no matter how concrete. Especially when it concerned a man like Aizen Sousuke, one who made it his mission to bend or break every rule possible.

The truth of the matter was that as much as Yamamoto’s prattling annoyed him and Byakuya’s perfect composure rankled him, there was always one person he reserved his deepest hatred for.

He hated this man even more than Shunsui and his drunken disregard for everything, including his firm grasp on a power Aizen wished he could obtain.

Far more than Unohana’s unfailing gentleness or the fact that nothing could ever disturb her.

Greater than Zaraki’s bluntness, his freedom to be himself, and Mayuri’s disgusting eccentricity.

It went beyond even the genius of Urahara and Hitsugaya.

Contrary to popular belief, there was one person in Seireitei, or truthfully no one now that he had gone, that did not like Ukitake Jyuushiro.

It wasn’t even so much an issue of like.

Sousuke loathed Ukitake Jyuushiro.

He poured hatred into the older shinigami’s existence with as much emotion as he could muster. On the outside, he was nothing if not the same tender and generous Aizen, smiling at everyone he met. Yet, inwardly, he seethed in a flaming pool of resentment.

He despised the other captain for his power, insurmountable and beyond comprehension, yet trapped within that frail and useless body. Aizen himself had only been witness to Ukitake’s skill and strength once, and it had remained abundantly clear that there was even more simmering beneath the surface. And yet, an impromptu coughing fit had ended it before Aizen could even begin to fully appreciate the grandeur.

A waste of reiatsu, he had reasoned.

He loathed Ukitake for his beauty, for long and flowing white hair. For that damned inherent grace Aizen could never quite grasp with his broader frame. For the unfailing acceptance glinting behind dark eyes that were very close to an onyx gleam. They were all parts of Ukitake he could not mimic, despite how desperately he wanted to.

Further, he loathed the man for the desire he unwittingly raised inside of Aizen himself. He hated Ukitake for the fluttering the man caused in his heart, for the fact that Jyuushiro had never looked at him as anything more than a friend. A much cherished friend perhaps… but just a friend nevertheless.

Most of all, he hated the other captain because no matter how much he smiled or how kind his words, he was nothing compared to Jyuushiro’s unending benevolence. Everyone would always love Ukitake more, would always see him as the perfect gentleman, leaving Sousuke in the shadows… making him forever second best.

He loathed Ukitake since, in the end, he had had the last word. Even if Aizen’s own had lingered longer and echoed louder, Ukitake’s would be the ones remembered, forever resonating inside of Sousuke.

For that one brief and agonizing moment, Aizen had doubted himself and his own resolve. For a single instant, he had wanted nothing more than to apologize, to throw himself at Ukitake’s mercy.

And the truly sad thing was… Jyuushiro would have forgiven him.

[KH] It Was Always You

His fists sank into sand-filled leather, over and over, the steady strikes punctuating the beat of the song blasting around him. Sweat slicked down the sides of his face, trickled down his back. His calves burned with exertion as he bounced around the gym.

Somehow, punching the crap out of a sandbag wasn’t quite the same as cutting down Heartless with his keyblade. But it would have to do for now. It’s not like there were any enemies around and attacking Sora would be rather counter-productive.

The fact that Sora could and would kick his ass might have something to do with it, too.

Besides, Sora wasn’t the one he was angry with. Sora wasn’t the one who fucked up. It had been Riku who’d been the idiot.

It was always Riku.

His frown deepened and Riku’s fists flew harder at the punching bag. He felt the seams strain under the pressure but they held. A few grains of sand spilled on the floor. He’d have to sweep those up later, damn it.

Sora probably wasn’t going to forgive him this time. Sora had a heart bigger than anyone Riku had ever met, but even his mercy had its limits. Riku was always fucking up. Even the nicest of people would get tired of that after a while. Tired of Riku.

His chest heaved, breath coming in sharp bursts, sweat dripping to the ground. His face was hot, his clothes soaked, and all he wanted to do was punch something. He wanted to punch himself but that wouldn’t really work.

It was a stupid song, Riku realized, though he wasn’t listening to it so much as it was playing around him. It reflected his mood though. It just wasn’t loud enough to drown out his thoughts.

A simple blast of Fire would put this sand bag out of commission for good, but then what would he pummel?

Riku exhaled sharply, whirled around the bag, and landed another barrage of blows.

The music cut off in the middle of the final chorus and Riku startled, whirling toward the door at the sudden absence of sound.

Sora was standing there, remote in hand, giving him a look with both eyebrows raised. “I knew you had terrible taste, but really, Riku? Stephen Lynch?”

He swiped the back of his hand over his forehead. “It seemed appropriate.”

“Mm.” Sora made a non-committal noise, leaning against the frame of the doorway. “I think you could do better.”

Riku fiddled with his boxing gloves, for lack of words. “There’s probably a lot I could do better since I’m terminally a fuck up.”

“Wow, when you go emo, you really commit to it, don’t you?”

Riku’s gaze jerked up, his jaw dropping. “What?”

Sora pushed off the frame, stepping into the room, his gaze darting between the sad punching bag and Riku’s sweaty frame. “When are you going to realize that I love you?”

His breath caught in his throat as it always did whenever Sora said the L word. He felt like a deer in headlights as Sora moved closer to him.

“I thought we’d gotten past this ‘fight and flight’ instinct of yours,” Sora continued with his frown that was more cute than angry. “Yeah, you pissed me off. But that kind of happens from time to time.” He reached up, patting Riku’s cheek. “Eventually, I forgive you.”

“You don’t play fair,” Riku mumbled, feeling all the anger at himself drain away. If Sora wasn’t pissed, how could he be?

Sora laughs. “When it comes to you, I can’t afford to.” He pulled Riku in for a kiss, which in their book, was all the sign that an apology had been given that Riku needed.