Ian walked onto British soil for the first time in three years. It was a strange, almost jarring experience. Heathrow was one of the largest and busiest airports in the world, and the chaos only contributed to his discomfort. He was almost tempted to jump back onto a plane to New York, to grab a train back to Poughkeepsie. He wasn't supposed to be here.
His parents had told him not to come back. He was safer in a Muggle college on the other side of "the pond", they told him. You're all we have, they had said. We can't bear to lose you.
He had been a target of You-Know-Who. A son of two Muggle-borns. Dumbledore told him about the possible danger right before he'd graduated from Hogwarts. When You-Know-Who made his presence known.
He'd begged and pleaded for his parents to come with him. They had refused. England was home to them. They couldn't imagine living anywhere else (though they did move to London. Safety in numbers, that was their excuse). Ian had to go because he was young. He could adapt.
He really wished that he hadn't left in the first place.
He took the Underground to a stop a few blocks away from Diagon Alley. It felt awkward going back into the magical world. Vassar was only a small liberal arts college, and the closest witches and wizards lived in New York City. He never went unless it was absolutely necessary.
Diagon Alley was almost nothing like he remembered. It was still busy and full of magic, but maybe he had lost the ability to fully appreciate it. Or maybe it had changed. People seemed quieter and more sullen, You-Know-Who's dark cloud hanging over their heads.
Ian hadn't used his wand since he graduated, and the smooth wood of his felt both in and out of place in his hands. He gripped it tightly and walked toward Gringotts. Accounts needed to be sorted out.
It was much easier than he expected. Dumbledore had sent the key to his parents' vault along with the letter, and the goblins accepted it without question. After withdrawing a bit, he felt the familiar weight of the galleons and sickles, turning them over between his fingers, remembering the times when his mother used to have him run down to the nearby general wizarding store to buy chocolate frogs. He also remembered the Muggle money, pounds adorned with the Queen, for ice cream. His parents had always loved both worlds and couldn't imagine leaving one behind. No wonder they married each other, both Muggle-borns.
Ian tried to remember whether or not he'd decided to meet any of his former classmates. He'd made friends in Hufflepuff, but he never really got close. Maybe it was for the better. He had cut his ties completely when he left for America. Except for his parents. They'd talked every few days by telephone.
Of course, in their misguided attempts to protect him, they'd never mentioned just how badly the war was going. Ian hated them for that, had always tried to assert himself as an adult. It didn't really matter now, did it?
There was one last stop left. This one was the worst, and Ian dreaded it the most. He walked out of Diagon Alley reluctantly. He was a little loathe to leave his childhood behind.
The tube took him to a street a couple blocks away from the cemetery. The uneven stones of the London sidewalk were familiar, even after Vassar's newer, smoother ones. He walked slowly; the service wouldn't start for another half an hour.
He was surprised to be greeted by Dumbledore just outside the cemetery gates. A wave of guilt swept over him. He was the next kin. This was his responsibility, not the headmaster's. Dumbledore didn't notice or at least pretended he didn't.
"Ah, Ian! It's good to see you!" Ian had never really understood the man, but he respected Dumbledore's ability to keep spirits up even in the direst of situations.
"Headmaster." Ian couldn't manage a smile; a deferential nod would have to do.
"I'm glad you could come. Despite what they might have said, I strongly believe that they wanted you here."
Ian just nodded. He knew for a fact that his parents would give him a thorough beating if they had known he came. He was supposed to stay at Vassar, to stay safe. Not risk himself by coming.
Dumbledore continued, "Everything is prepared, according to their directions."
"I have to thank you, Headmaster, for doing all of this for us. I don't know if I could have done it myself."
Dumbledore smiled. "Of course. It's the least I could do for a former student."
"Are you staying?"
"Unfortunately, I have other thing to attend to right now."
Ian nodded again. Words didn't seem right. "Thank you again, Headmaster."
The familiar twinkle Dumbledore's eye before he Apparted away caused a lump to form in Ian's throat. Hogwarts had been such an interesting, multi-colored place. Poughkeepsie was such a drab town, all browns and grays. It seemed to have grown out of the nearby IBM power plant and colored itself accordingly.
This was the time to reminisce, Ian figured. Not back home. (funny how England had stopped being his home) Here, where he could leave them and move on. Not in America, where the problems of Europe were too far away.
Ian stood at the edge of the freshly dug trench in the ground. Six feet deep. It hurt to stand here, simply at the edge. To know that in some way, he had failed.
He wished that he could make a promise. That he could say he'd kill You-Know-Who for this without lying through his teeth. He couldn't even promise them flowers every year. It would be too dangerous for him. He ran his fingers over the smooth, freshly-cut stone of his parents' grave and cried.
For Sirius, escaping Azkaban was like rebirth. Every action took on a new significance. The sun rising (when was the last time saw it?), the taste of chocolate (a half eaten candy bar thrown out in a garbage can), the sight of one Harry Potter (aged 13 and attending Hogwarts already), the feel of a knife in his hands (no one would stand in his way this time, not even Peter himself). He was reborn with a purpose and he would fulfill it or go down trying.
Like A Rolling Stone:
The air outside is crisp and clean and not filled with the stench of death, and Padfoot nearly cries from relief. He paws at the soft ground, sniffs the dirt. Hops around and chases his tail. Nothing is quite as amazing as being free and alive and capable of fufilling your promises.
He never thought that a tree could be the most beautiful thing in the world. Padfoot almost wants to mark his territory, but they having more pressing matters to address, so he leaves the tree behind and lopes off in the direction of Hogwarts.
You said you'd never compromise
Sirius wants to go out. He wants to be useful. He wants to hunt down Peter and exact revenge.
But he doesn't, because Dumbledore asked, and Sirius can't not listen to him. He owes the wizard so much.
Once, he might have been willing to sneak out. He would have left the second someone turned around. Nothing would have been able to keep him inside of Grimmauld Place. Not if he didn't want to be there.
He doesn't, though. Now, he sits in an old rocking chair
On Sundays, Roy doesn't go to work. He sits, barefoot, on the carpet of the living room and reads the newspaper. The sun pours through a nearby window and reflects off the white walls. It's winter, and the sky seems brighter and clearer, no leaves to block the view.
Sunlight creates strange patterns on the floor, and they glow. His feet are a little on the cold side, and he places them under the bright rays to warm them up.
Scenes From A Misspent Youth:
Maes isn't at his house one day when Roy goes to look for him.
Where were you? Roy asks him when he comes back.
In the woods, Maes says with a shrug, his hair messy with grass and leaves, his face smudged with dirt.
Roy looks hurt, feels hurt. Why didn't you tell me?
You're too young.
You're dumb, Maes tells Roy one day after school, out of nowhere.
Roy shoves him into the mud and almost falls in himself. I hate you, he says and resolves to never talk to Maes again.
Maes spits mud onto the ground and says, I hate you too.
It lasts three days.
Roy throws a ball at Maes' head. It bounces off with a thwack and rolls into a corner. What was that for? he asks, his voice loud and angry.
Roy shrugs. I don't know, he says.
Maes believes him.
We had nothing to do with it, Maes insists when they get caught painting rude things onto the school's wall. Roy agrees, his head nodding furiously.
It must have been a rival school, he says as earnestly as he can manage. We were only trying to wash it off.
The principal runs his fingers through his hair and sighs. They think they can hear the muttered, What am I going to do with you two?
Beer tastes horrible, like bark and bitterness, but they swallow it down anyway. It was hard enough to get it in the first place; why would they waste it?
Fuck, Maes says. This tastes like shit.
Roy shakes his head and takes another sip.
Roy learns how to do alchemy. Maes doesn't.
It's just a waste of your time, Maes tells Roy one of the days Roy can't go out, because his alchemy tutor's coming over and he needs to study.
No, it's not, Roy replies.
They avoid each other for the next three days.
It's Maes who sees it first, the sign for the military academy. I'm going, he says, and Roy just nods. Of course, it would be Maes who is three years older, two inches taller and will never be an alchemist. It makes sense that he would go first.
I'll follow, Roy says.
A MaybeTomorrow Christmas
Christmas is shit.
Or, as the more politically correct types would say, "the holidays" are shit. Roy can barely stand to be around so much false cheer and goodwill for weeks on end. It makes him queasy.
There are some good moments, of course, when he gets free crap from everyone else, but for the most part, he hates the holiday specials, the cheery decorations, the rampant consumerism. Above all else, he hates comparisons to Ebenezer Scrooge. If he could go back in time and kill Dickens before he wrote that goddamn story, Roy would.
Of course, there are the Christmas parties, which are an excellent way to get drunk and laid. Well, mostly drunk. Roy figures that he only sort of hates those. It's mostly a token hatred, the kind where Roy only complains about how much it sucks, but still goes anyway.
This particular party is Jean's. Or maybe his current girlfriend's. Roy isn't sure, but he doesn't care, either. It's festive in the worst sort of way: tinsel, Christmas light strung up inside, a tree that looks like it came out of one of the department stores, themed paper cups and plates, themed music. Thankfully, the beer is good, and the people aren't pretending that this is anything that it's not.
So Roy sits at an edge of the main room, trying to be inconspicuous. He watches the room for anything or anyone interesting. Everything sort of blurs together; it becomes one giant blob of Christmas Party From Hell. Roy's getting bored, but he won't leave, not just yet. The beer is European, probably due to Jean's strange fascination with the Continent, and it tastes strange, just a little bit off.
A girl approaches him halfway through "Let's Get It On" and tries to start a conversation about Marvin Gaye. Roy's never seen her before, at least he doesn't remember ever seeing before. She has a nice smile, but Roy's not in the mood.
He's not even sure why he's not in the mood.
Jean wanders by, all good cheer and warmth, cigarette not quite dangling from his lips. Roy would probably prefer to disappear into the wall, just fade away. Of course, Jean decides that he needs to cheer Roy up right now, and sits next to him.
"Enjoying yourself?" he asks, completely oblivious to Roy's pain and suffering.
Roy should probably lie, not get into an argument about the relative merits of the holiday season, but he can't help himself. "No."
Jean neither looks surprised nor disappointed at the news, and Roy is glad. Jean shrugs. "You didn't have to come if you didn't want to."
Roy almost believes him. He shrugs, affecting disinterest. "I figured that it wouldn't suck."
That gets a grin out of Jean, a real one. "The eternal optimist," he says, shaking his head and walking away.
Roy would throw something at him if he could. Just because.
Next up is Elric, looking ten years too young to even be here. The little turd has been stalking the band since forever, and Roy isn't how they're ever going going to get rid him or his brother without physical violence. Of course, that probably wouldn't work either.
"So, Mustang, how have you been?" The question is accompanied by a sneer that looks almost cute on him.
Of course, that does it. "Who the fuck are you calling a twerp?" Elric demands. His face has gone beet red, and his hands are clenched at his sides. Roy's not particularly worried. He could kick the shit out of Elric inebriated, though he doesn't fight kids. Not really fair, is it? Everyone is looking at them, but Roy doesn't really mind. All of the attention is directed toward Elric.
"You," Roy says, smirking.
Elric looks like he's about to lose it now -- not that he wasn't before -- and Roy almost wants to see it happen. The kid is actually quite entertaining when he works himself up into a froth. He really looks like he will attack too, before Liza grabs his arm and pulls him back.
"Edward," she says, in that tone she uses when Maes goes a little too insane on the bus. Elric calms down almost as quickly as he was wound up but not without resentment. He gives Roy another glare before stomping off.
"I wish you wouldn't do that," Liza chides. Roy only shrugs. He doesn't particularly care either way.
She walks away shaking her head. Roy keeps his mouth shut, because he's not really in a mood to provoke her. That's never a good idea.
He sits there for a few minutes, wondering when exactly when it would be polite to leave. His drink has gone missing, inexplicably, but Roy isn't really concerned. He didn't like it much anyway.
Arvin thinks that maybe Jack needs something to drink. He hasn't stirred in quite a while, not since they hooked him to the IV. Arvin studies him from the doorway, waiting to see if Jack will wake from sheer force of will. There's a twitch on a stretcher, a slight moan escaping from thin lips. Eyes open.
Jack, Jack, Jack. So proud and so handsome, even here. Arvin doesn't think that Irina ever appreciated him, not in the way Arvin did. Irina never did appreciate the things she had. She left Sydney, didn't she?
Arvin sees his chance. He tries to explain Rambaldi's greatness to Jack, tries to get him to understand. He doesn't, the stubborn fool. He doesn't understand that Arvin is trying to save him, that Arvin is giving him a gift.
Instead, he talks nonsense about ancient history, about how Rambaldi was simply an obsession. Jack was always like this: missing the forest for the trees. "I didn't expect you to understand," he says, not without sadness or regret. Arvin still had to take the chance. You don't give up on your friends.
"Why keep me alive?" Jack asks, as if he doesn't know the answer. His voice is soft in the way it hasn't been in a while. Arvin almost missed the tone.
He leans in, close, so Jack can see him, see what he's realized. "Because we're friends, Jack."
Arvin Sloane doesn't kill his friends.
Unless he absolutely has to, of course.
Arvin leans in closer to examine the large gash on Jack's forehead. It looks bad, and Arvin regrets that he had to do it to him. He regrets so much of how their relationship turned out.
"Friends." Jack sound incredulous, as if he doesn't really believe that they are.
Arvin rubs his arm gently, soothingly. "We are, Jack, even if you don't believe it."
Under Arvin's hand, Jack tenses, just slightly. Arvin doesn't take offense, though he probably should. Jack still doesn't trust him, despite everything Arvin's tried to give him, show him.
Jack blinks, something Arvin wouldn't have noticed if he weren't so close. His eyes look black in the orange light. Arvin likes that. They're lovely really, so very beautiful.
Arvin tilts his head forward and kisses Jack on the cheek, just a peck. For now, at least. Jack doesn't pull back, which surprises Arvin. Jack's always been too stubborn for his own good.
Aptly Known As The Crack!Irina Fic:
"Mom?" she asks. You've never seen her before in your life.
"No," you say, making sure to round the "o" carefully, to make it sound American. She blinks, as if thinking.
You barely have time to see the punch coming, before her fist makes contact with your face.
You wake on a cot, in a a green tinted room. There is a glass window on one end, and you see her standing there. The woman who may or may not be your daughter.
Her hair is pulled back severely, her mouth creased into a frown.
"Who are you?" she asks.
"Laura," you say, and her eyes narrow and darken.
"Laura Harris." The name is not as automatic as you need it to be, but it's there.
"So you are my mother," she says, almost resigned. You don't know why.
You doubt that she knows anything, but you let them keep their delusions.
She turns to leave, perhaps to fetch someone else.
"Who are you?" you ask.
She doesn't even glance over her shoulder.
A man visits you. He's attractive enough, with doeful eyes. Soft. It reminds you of Jack with his jagged edges, just begging to be smoothed out.
"Ms. Derevko," he says, "I'm Agent Vaughn."
You study him, and he twitches slightly, just a twist of the lips. It still gives him away. He hates you, probably, or loves you. Either way, it's to your advantage.
"How old am I?" you ask. Amnesia would explain it, how you've lost thirty years of your life.
"Twenty-six," he says. You can see the sign that passes through him, but you don't hear it. The glass doesn't let it through. "We don't know how you got here, either."
You hear the clanging of gates opening, and you sit up. You have another visitor.
You expect Agent Vaughn, maybe, or your daughter, not who actually shows up.
"Jack," you say simply.
He's old now. His hair has gone gray; his face is lined; he's lost the wiriness of youth. There's something harsher and colder about him now. Something dead.
You didn't really believe it, that you could talk to your very own daughter, until you see him here, before you now. You almost pity him, for knowing the truth.
"Irina," he says. The word comes out brittle and harsh. A little like him.
"How are you?" you ask, a little out of politeness, a little out of actual curiosity.
He frowns. "I'm fine," he says. You want to smile. Some things don't change with time.
Will I finish any of these? Probably not. But I might if there's interest.