Why? I dunno. Because reasons? :D?
1. Teen Wolf/Harry Potter, Hogwarts AU.
Derek Hale is one of the creepiest people you could possibly run into at midnight, and Allison comes from a long line of Slytherins with very questionable things in their attics - she is very, very familiar with creepy.
In the common room, Lydia insists there isn't anything scary about the Forbidden Forest, it'll be the easiest detention ever, Allison, for serious, but the only thing Lydia fears is a Ravenclaw getting more NEWTs than her, so she maybe isn't the best judge. Hale's standing at the edge of the Forest like he grew out of it, holding a lantern aloft. She can't see where his legs end and the forest begins.
They stop in front of him, and he says nothing. The only thing she knows about him is that his wand was snapped in the fifth year, but he never left.
"I am regretting all of the choices that led me to this point," Stiles mutters on her left. He's nervously rolling his tie around his finger, a smear of yellow-and-black in the dark.
"I think that's the point," Scott mutters back. She searches for his hand, holds her wand tight with the other.
Hale turns. "Come on," he says. "We've got things to hunt," and they follow the groundskeeper into the dark.
2. Supernatural/The Social Network, Sam Winchester/Amy Ritter.
Jess's roommate seriously brings the most attractive people back to the dorm, which makes sense, because Amy is just one of those charismatic people. Jess would be envious, except it means she comes back from Calc to find people like Sam Winchester conjugating French verbs on the floor with the sun in his hair, while beside him, Amy balances a book of Latin across her thighs. They're holding hands, and Sam keeps on looking at the knot their fingers make on the carpet like it's strange, like he can't believe it. Jess smiles at them and climbs the bunk to her bed, feeling soft and maybe a little wistful.
3. Inception/Incarceron, Arthur/Eames.
Mal, as always, is the breathtaking picture of perfect Protocol: an ermine shawl drawn across her shoulders and a dark, round mole inked into the corner of her mouth, moving with each smile. She and Ariadne talk unconcernedly, sharing a plate of scones and brushing the crumbs to the floor.
Arthur settles into his seat, meeting Cobb's eyes from across the room and getting a slight nod in return. Eames steps in from the promenade, smelling like cigar smoke. His smile, when he sits down, is bland, until Arthur presses their knees together under the table, and then it goes sharp, still and poised as knives, and Arthur hates Protocol, hates it, hates it --
Fischer stands. The small hiccup of Yusuf's fingers on his snuff box is the only thing that betrays them. Everyone maintains indifference as, preoccupied, Fischer leaves.
Mal and Ariadne abandon their conversation mid-sentence, and Cobb rises.
Lifting his chin, Eames asks, "So what are we stealing, commander?"
Fischer looks nothing like his father, the last Warden. Arthur frowns. It's strange. Surely the Queen wouldn't ...
Cobb's smile skews.
"The location of Incarceron."
4. Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Percy/Annabeth.
(I used to have this WIP that was basically "Percy and Annabeth have a brood" and I was ridiculously fond of it because my weakness for big families, let me show you it, but it was so OC heavy that I lost the courage to finish it. So here is the very, very, very abridged version of that.)
7 Facts About the Jackson Family:
1. "If it doesn't sound like love, Kira, then you shouldn't say it," her dad used to tell her. Kira goes to college in Idaho and only comes home for the Solstice.
2. Arthur and Jazz are Irish twins. Born ten months apart, Arthur comes first, which is the first and last time Jazz lets him be first for anything.
3. TJ talks to ghosts. The other kids had to learn how to see through the Mist, but to her, it came naturally. Everybody just thought she had a lot of imaginary friends, but she thought they were more like guardian angels. Nico's her favorite.
4. If she'd been a boy, Mallorie would have been a Malcolm. She scrapbooks and can burp the National Anthem.
5. The youngest, Lukas, is a mix of everything his siblings handed down to him: toys, clothes, and personalities. The only thing that's his own is his name. He never shortens it.
6. Percy serves crazy-eyed students and harpies in disguise out of the back of a food truck on the NYU campus; pancakes and rice and burritos that have been dyed all the colors of the rainbow. He jokes that he runs a temple to Iris, and he always comes home smelling like dishsoap and seaweed.
7. Everyone always expected Annabeth to build something amazing, and she did. Six kids, and they all turned out just fine.
5. Stormchasers RPF, Joel/Reed.
The Bizzel Library is the oldest building on OU's campus, with staircases that go nowhere and not enough outlets, and it's been around since before Oklahoma was even a state. During finals week, it stays open until 1am, all its lights visible for a half-mile away in every direction.
Joel sits by the window on the third floor, and he can't take his eyes off the distant sky, where dry lightning flashes fast as heartbeats. The thunder's continuous, rumbling like a half-heard conversation, sometimes booming loud enough to make the windows rattle in their ancient frames.
"Hey," comes from behind him, and he jumps.
There's a guy he vaguely recognizes standing at the end of his table: he's an upperclassman with a bad haircut, and Joel's frat calls him Napoleon, but that's not his real name.
"I have the key to the roof," he says. "If you want to go up and watch it from there."
And Joel gets up and follows, and for the rest of his life, he never stops.
6. Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Nico/Annabeth/Percy.
The first time it happens, his mother's waiting for him in the kitchen when he gets home. He spots her and freezes, half-in half-out of his sneakers. Sally's sitting at the table with a mug that says "Rise and Whine" half-cradled in one hand, and she's wearing a nightgown she's had since before Percy was born, frayed through at the collar. The clock on the microwave says 2:55. She takes a single assessing look, and without a word, stands and empties her mug in the sink and walks to her bedroom.
The second time it happens, he tries telling her he's taken up marimba lessons. He doesn't think she believes him.
The third time it happens, he isn't aware of it because he's asleep, flat out on his stomach in his own bed. Annabeth's tucked under one arm, her face half-smothered in his neck with the ease of familiarity. They're still wearing their shoes and the air smells like fish and singed clothes. Sally pauses, and when Nico, whose head is pillowed on Percy's shoulder blade, cracks a watchful eye open and catches her, she murmurs, "sorry," and shuts the door as quietly as possible.
The fourth time it happens, they beat him back to the apartment (Nico cheated and used a shortcut.) He comes through the door in time to see Annabeth set a fresh cup down in front of Sally, while Nico single-handedly devours an enormous bowl of leftover dip from the fridge, sitting cross-legged on the tile and wearing Annabeth's "Architects Do It With Models" shirt because he's as subtle as a brick to the face. Percy hovers in the entryway for a beat, then two, and then his mother looks up at him with a smile and relief hits Percy so fast it's like surfacing from somewhere dark and deep. He steps in to join them.
7. The Social Network, Mark/Eduardo.
When Mark and Eduardo see each other stateside these days, they both wear ties and speak exclusively in Chinese, obstinately because it's the only thing they have in common.
It frustrates the surreptitious eavesdropper, which is, like, 90% of the reason they keep doing it, because success never equates maturity, remember this.
Eduardo knows Chinese because while Singapore's immigration and naturalization policies favors the young professional, you can't get by just speaking one language, and Mark knows Chinese because he'd read somewhere that it was supposed to be, like, hard or something.
There's a certain freedom in saying something no one else can understand, something that comes easier in a borrowed tongue. They sit together on the horrific hotel carpet in a hallway neither of them have a room on, knees touching and eyes itchy from no sleep, and whatever they are, it isn't the same because the language isn't the same. It's a completely different alphabet.
8. The Curse Workers, gen.
8 Things You Don't Know About Mina Lange
1. In middle school, she tried to start a band. They called themselves Mina and the Merry Misandrists, and they wanted to do acoustic covers of Pink's U and Ur Hand and Fall-Out Boy's You Didn't Need to Work Me, I Hated You Already. For two weeks, it was the best idea they had, but it never went anywhere, since none of them could actually play an instrument.
2. Still, when people ask her what her favorite music is (which is a really stupid question anyway,) she says, "Music to oppress men to," with a straight face.
3. Her father wins a cooking contest on the Food Network, and he's famous for approximately six months and four days. He uses the reward money to send her to Wallingford.
4. She knows it's unfair, but she never forgives him for that.
5. The wig is horrible, hot, and itchy, and she has to brush it in secret, locked in the last bathroom stall with her feet drawn up on the seat, listening to Audrey Dolan talk about how Cassel Sharpe is a douchecanoe, and also poor, seriously, you should see the dump he lives in.
6. Her favorite color is pink, she loves the way indie movies make her feel like she's too big for her own skin, and she's known she was hyperbathagammic since before she could even pronounce the word. She never did anything with it. Why would she want to break bones? That's just silly.
7. And then Dean Wharton happens.
8. "It's beautiful," Cassel tells her, touching the fingertip of his glove to her bald skull. She's thirty and manning a booth at Sundance, and he's wearing a face not his own, but she still knows him. She smiles and says, "I know."
9. The Amazing Spider-Man/Harry Potter, Hogwarts AU, MJ/Peter/Gwen.
Being nonmagical themselves, his aunt and uncle tried their best to supplement those parts of his education, they really did. Once, they even filled out about seventy forms with the Ministry so they could take him to see the Holyhead Harpies play South Africa in the semifinals (although, honestly, Peter was more excited by the moving photograph he got to take home than the sport.) However, about three hours into his first journey on the Hogwarts Express, Peter gets bitten and has to admit that maybe, just maybe, there were some oversights in his magical education thusfar.
(Witches. He's talking about witches here.)
MJ Watson, pint-sized then, wipes the taste of him from her mouth, says, "so there!", and stops off to another compartment. The Sorting Hat barely has to touch her head before it shouts, GRYFFINDOR!
"She isn't poisonous," Gwen Stacy tells him concernedly, when she catches him inspecting the bite while they're supposed to be watching the prefect show them how to get into Ravenclaw Tower.
"No, she's a girl," Peter returns mournfully.
Gwen sighs, "You said Qudditch was dumb. If you apologize, she will too! She probably feels bad."
After considering this, he decides, "You're really smart," and Gwen turns pink. When he's thirteen, he makes the mistake of telling his uncle he's going to marry that girl. To his uncle's teasing, "which one?", he replies, "both!" and then attempts to die of mortification, while Uncle Ben just looks amused.
In the March of his sixth year, MJ finds him hanging upside down from the ceiling of the empty Charms classroom with no clue how to get down, and starts laughing. She goes to get Gwen.
Gwen puts her hands on her hips.
"I may," Peter starts with great dignity, because she looks like she's about to remind him this is why wizards are supposed to register with the Ministry before trying to become Animagi. "Have miscalculated."
10. The Social Network, gen for the headcanon meme.
Mark Zuckerberg is conversationally competent in five languages. He collects them the way some people collect concert tickets or glass unicorn figurines, pulling up Rosetta Stone on his iPod when the CALtrain is delayed and paging through phrasebooks in dark corners of used bookstores, thumbing past students' translations cramped in margins. He can say, "hello, how are you?" in twenty-four languages, "how much for a lap dance?" in eight -- which he has never gotten the chance to use, but once recognized when it was used on him, ironically enough. He knows how to say "I love you" in more languages than the rest combined, but he's never used that, either.
11. The Social Network, Mark/Eduardo, snippets from an abandoned WIP for TSN Week's "Superhero" prompt.
"Yes, Mark," says Eduardo on the other end, low and tolerantly amused. "But we have Drastic Sci-fi Scenario Takeover training every Wednesday morning at 10. They used to have Alien Wormhole Informational Sessions in that slot, but they changed that to Saturday mornings instead."
"See? I don't get it. How many billions of dollars goes to disaster relief and rebuilding efforts every year, and people still think New York City is a smart place to live?"
Eduardo makes a thoughtful noise. "I dunno. I suppose it's the closest those of us who aren't superpowered will ever get to that feeling."
"If you came out to California --" Mark starts, mutinous.
"Mark." It's kind of strange, how many different ways his name can sound in Eduardo's mouth.
"-- I wouldn't have to worry about you dying."
"I'm not going to die. That's what all those superhero agencies are for. To protect civilian life. I hear they're really good at it." Eduardo sounds fond. Mark, because he's incapable of recognizing friendship when he can see an insult instead, bristles. He hates being condescended to.
Four days later, a monster ravages Lower Manhattan.
When he hears about it, Mark calls Eduardo with some half-formed thought of teasing him about which training scenario prepared him for that, but the cell towers are down, of course, and then one of Sean's girls distracts him by telling him she'll trade three hours of coding for some weed. In the background, the news outlets all talk about the superheroes' rapid response, about how despite all the property damage that occurred before the monster threat was neutralized, there were miraculously only 34 casualties, and wasn't it a good day for NYC?
It's noon the next day before anyone thinks to put the list of the deceased online. Eduardo Saverin's name is eighth from the bottom.
(and much later, towards the end of the fic. I would say spoilers, but:)
It takes them about 36 hours to find out who he is and send someone after him, which doesn't surprise him in the least, because isn't that what the superheroes pride themselves on? Eliminating the threat as quickly and with as little collateral damage as possible?
There's a light on in his apartment; he sees it seeping onto the carpet through the crack underneath the door.
He lets himself in, keying in the alarm code. It blinks green, and he steps on through.
Eduardo's sitting on his couch.
He's got his back to Mark, but Mark would recognize the bend of his neck anywhere, the way he's got his leg crossed over one knee, foot bouncing in an absent rhythm and a magazine rolled in one hand. He looks like he's stepped right out of Mark's memory, and he cannot help it: his keys slip from his fingers, hitting the floor with a clatter.
Eduardo jumps, head whipping around, and at the sight of Mark, he inhales sharply.
"Mark," he gets out, rising, and in the sound of his name in Eduardo's mouth, Mark hears so many things. "I didn't hear you come in, I --"
He steps forward, and Mark steps backward.
He catches himself, wobbling a little, and his heart beats so hard and so fast that he can feel the reverberations of it in his hands. Eduardo takes another step towards him, moving slow, his mouth still parted with shock and his eyes --
"Hey," Mark says, and Eduardo blinks, seemingly nonplussed by the casualty of it, before Mark follows it up with, "You died. Four years ago, you died. I'm not wrong about this, you got killed --"
Eduardo gets into his personal space then, and every hair on Mark's body stands on end, alarmed, and he starts to twist away before Eduardo could do something awful like hug him, but Eduardo just holds up his hands, like, easy, easy, and Mark couldn't move away, not even if he wanted to. There's warmth coming off his skin, and he can see the scabbed-over nick of a paper cut on the back of Eduardo's hand, and his breath smells like Altoids out of a tin. All of it flies directly in the face of the rational part of Mark's brain that tells him Eduardo should be six feet under right now, not standing in front of him looking worried.
"Mark --" Eduardo skates his hands through the air, like he's thinking of touching Mark's face, his shoulders, fingers curling close to his skin in a way that feels more physical than actual contact would be. His brow puckers into a frown, and he says, dismayed, "what happened to you?"
"It was necessary," Mark replies absently. He knows what he looks like.
He reaches out, touching his fingertips to the fabric of Eduardo's tie.
His heart feels splintered, like it's got horsehair cracks running all the way through it, shatterable upon impact. He curls his fingers around the knot of the tie, using it as a grip to pull himself up and shove his mouth up against Eduardo's.
It's a purely selfish move, done because it's the only thing Mark can think to do in that moment, without a single consideration for the appropriateness or the timing, or what Eduardo's expecting, wants, or would even welcome. But to Eduardo's credit, he cants into the kiss after only a second's startled pause, opening his mouth to drag a return kiss across Mark's upper lip. He puts a hand low on Mark's back, pulling him in, and when Mark changes the angle of their faces, he follows, and the second kiss fades into the third, just like that.
Maybe they're both remembering the same thing, Mark thinks, because Eduardo's eyebrows are drawn in, low with concentration or pain or some combination of the two, and the bones in Mark's neck go elastic at the brush of his tongue against the roof of his mouth, the back of his teeth.
He's been here before, but only the once, just the once, that night Mark stood in the center of the Kirkland dorm and announced they were going to expand -- Yale, Columbia, Stanford. Immediately after that, in his room with the door closed, he straddled Eduardo's lap and shotgunned him, Eduardo with his head in Christy's lap and her nails stroking encouragement through his hair, and Eduardo gripped Mark's hips and arched into him with the desperate noise of the heavily blazed while, in the same chair Mark sat in when he crashed the Harvard network, Alice bit her lip and slipped a hand up under her skirt and laughed, aren't you glad you met us?
Mark only remembers snatches of that encounter, but this, he never forgot: the inside of Eduardo's mouth, freely given.
Eduardo breaks the kiss, moving back just enough that leaning into him doesn't feel like falling into gravity. Mark stares up at him, and, by sheer chance, catches sight of their reflection on the darkened television screen.
He wets his lips, and says, "There's a story here, isn't there?"
Eduardo's eyes open fully, and the look in them is so fond that Mark's expecting it, this time, when he lifts a hand to touch Mark's face. Just beyond him, the reflection's movement doesn't match up. It jerks a second off-beat, like the dub on a foreign film.
Mark breathes out, slow, and it's the only thing he can do against the flare of pain inside of him, like he's been dealt a fatal blow.
"Yes," says Eduardo's smiling mouth. "Yeah, I think we've got a lot to talk about."
"Come on, then," Mark draws away. "We'll make food or something."
He leads them into the kitchen, feeling more certain with every step, and less like he's walking the surface of a pitching boat. He skirts around the kitchen island, palming a knife, and flicks the switch to get the electric kettle to boil.
Then he turns, laying a hand flat on Eduardo's chest and driving the knife straight up through his solar plexus.
She isn't expecting it and reacts just a beat too late, and the blade scrapes against her ribs in a way that twists Mark's wrist unpleasantly, but it does the trick: her shell shatters, leaving Mark with a collapsing armful of a girl in a quicksilver uniform, her mouth wrenched open and blood welling around the handle of the knife in her stomach. Her eyes, in real life, are the exact same color as Eduardo's -- that she hadn't needed to fake.
He follows her to the floor, straddling her waist and pinning her to the tile even though she's not going anywhere. He's pretty sure the wound isn't fatal, but he really has no idea. He's never stabbed anyone before.
It doesn't take him long to find her pigeonhole camera. Sylvia Fernades, codename "The Mirror," if he's not mistaken, born and raised in San Bernardino and recruited when she was a sophomore in high school, and the camera's embedded in the flat of her zipper.
He cuts it free, lifting it up to self-shot height, and says sharply to whoever's watching, "Protect and serve, was it? Sorry, what part of this is protecting and serving?"
Between his knees, Sylvia gets her wind back and her form flickers in the space of one blink to the next. Suddenly she's Eduardo again, coughing blood and looking betrayed, but she can't hold the shape, and it fizzes out, bleeding into a white woman with a ballerina's bun, then into an old man with age spots pocked into his skull, and then back into Sylvia, glaring up at him balefully.
"What was the plan?" he asks, half of her and half of the camera. There's a taste in his mouth like ash and embers, and no matter how he licks at his lips, he can't get the taste of Eduardo back. "I mean, you're right, of course, he's my motivation for everything, but were you going to use my dead best friend's face to trick me into … what, turning myself in? So, what? Get me off the streets so that you can go on and more people with best friends will die? No, the superhero system is flawed, and I will fix what's flawed."
He sets the camera down, propping it up carefully on the hinge of the cabinet door immediately to the left. The angle isn't good, but it doesn't need to be.
"It's not personal, lady," he tells Sylvia considerately, changing his grip on the knife. "Promise. You're just better dead."
In one valiant last throe, she heaves upwards and goes for his eyes with her thumbs, and he grabs a fistful of her hair, slamming her skull down against the tile and arching out of her reach as her nails scrabble at him. He holds it there, puts the tip of his knife to her jugular and thinks very, very cleanly. Then he slits her throat open.
That's the first time he ever kills a superhero. The feeling of satisfaction doesn't go away; not the second time, or the third time, either.
They catch up to him on a Sunday in April, the sun burning a halo into the blue California sky, and kill him on the edge of a field of lupine flowers.
He isn't surprised. Mark Zuckerberg is very, very smart and very ambitious, but he was only ever human, and those aren't worth very much, in the end.
Chris takes off his mask and gets down into the dirt with him. He's crying in great, jagged sobs, his face blotched with patches of red and tears tracking saltwater down to his chin. It's really very generous of him, Mark thinks. There probably isn't a single other superhero who's going to cry for him.
"Mark," Chris chokes out. "Mark --"
Do you remember the algorithm? Mark wants to ask him, looking up at him. On the window at Kirkland?
But Chris isn't the person he wants to ask, not really, and the moment for saying anything passes, and then it's just Chris Hughes, bent over a neutralized threat on the edge of a field in California, and isn't it a good day for superheroes?
They keep the original masthead even though management these days is entirely different, mainly because nobody has the stomach to change it. It's still there, if anybody bothers to look.
Mark Zuckerberg, it reads. Founder.
And directly beside it:
Eduardo Saverin. Co-founder.
12. The Social Network/Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Mark Zuckerberg/Franziska von Karma for the "a wedding or a funeral?" meme.
If thereʻs one thing thatʻs never going to get old, not as long as he lives, itʻs the Judgeʻs perpetual look of surprise when the gavel comes down, like heʻs not altogether sure what just happened any more than the rest of them.
"In clear evidence and in clear counsel, this court finds the defendant … not guilty."
He does not, Phoenix notes, look very clear on the point.
Rising, the Judge nods to the defense. "Congratulations to you and your client, Mr. Wright."
"Thank you, sir," Phoenix responds, automatic. The bailiffs are coming for Mark, who has his wrists extended towards them pointedly, and Mayaʻs gathering up his papers, humming something that will probably wind up in Phoenixʻs favorite iPod playlist later, titled BUT KANYESUS IS GOOD FOR YOU.
They reconvene in the anterior chamber. Somebody let Mark shave this morning, and personally, Phoenix thinks that probably worked in the prosecutionʻs favor, because when he had stubble all down his cheeks, his face looked less like a deadly weapon, all sharp angles and a violence in his eyes. Heʻs high up there on the list of scariest clients Phoenix has ever had, and thatʻs including Matt Engarde, who actually did commit murder. Mark just perpetually wears the expression of someone who should be in prison for manslaughter.
Heʻs standing alone, his assistant in the back talking hurriedly to one of the bailiffs. Itʻs been a while since Phoenix worked a high profile case like this; heʻd forgotten that they always have the air conditioning in this lobby cranked too high, but itʻs a nice room to be in before you have to go deliver statements to the press.
"Congratulations," says Mark, startling him. He hadnʻt noticed his approach.
Mark isnʻt talking to him, though. "It only took you and your court three days to figure out what everybody should have known all along: that I didnʻt kill my best friend."
Franziska, to her credit, looks amused. She shifts her weight in a way that, in a different setting, would make Gumshoe cringe away reflexively, but Mark doesnʻt have those instincts honed yet.
In her heels, she towers a good six inches over him.
"I accept your condescension, Mr. Zuckerberg," she returns. "I enjoyed the challenge."
She probably likes him clean-shaven, Phoenix thinks, disparaging.
Mark tilts his head. His suit is ill-fitting and his eyes are thin, silvery, flitting fish. "Thereʻs a good place in my town, on University Ave. Would you like to get a steak with me?"
"No!" Phoenix yelps, way too loud.
"Absolutely not!" comes shrilly from the direction of Markʻs harried and underfed assistant.
Franziska shows teeth. "Yes."
Phoenix has been to Germany once before, in college, on a student exchange whose official business was conducted primarily and rather shadily online. He spent two months in a flat in Berlin with a a communal kitchen he shared with five other exchange students and a crooked showerhead that he could never get aimed at his body properly, arguing about poetry with a class that couldnʻt speak German any better than he could, and remembers being proud of how little money he managed to spend. Those were his priorities, in college.
It was before he fell in love with Dahlia, and Mia. He remembers why he picked Germany, and who for, but he didnʻt do anything about it while he was there.
He still plans on surprising Edgeworth with the knowledge someday, while Edgeworth is talking about some avenue or school he used to haunt and how superior it is to the compartmentalization of Silicon Valley, he can say, I know, I lived there too.
"I have a bad feeling about this," is what he says instead.
"Oh, shush," goes Maya briskly. She only listens to a word in five he says anyway. And, for the tenth time, "Donʻt they look so wonderful?"
"No," says Phoenix grumpily, but heʻs lying.
Maya tilts her face up to him. "Whatʻs got you so glum? I thought you liked weddings? And Berlin? And Edgeworth?" She thinks about it. "Usually in that order?"
"Youʻre just here for the food."
"Salacious slander!" she retorts. "I love the newlyweds considerably more than I love their choice in catering." She squeezes his elbow. "Iʻm going to get you more champagne."
"Just because itʻs legal here doesnʻt mean you should!" he calls after her retreating back, perhaps a bit too loudly, judging by the looks he gets. Maya ignores him.
The reception is held in a museum with a name Phoenix wouldnʻt dare try to pronounce if he didnʻt want to offend everybody in the nearest vicinity (foreign languages were never his strong suit) but seems to largely focus on architectural design, and utilizes all its spaces flawlessly. Heʻs been here before: as a student, museums were an integral part of their cultural immersion or whatever, and this one is all tall, glass walls and sleekly streamlined decorating and kind of makes Phoenix feel like heʻs in a spaceship, or back at Facebook.
Theyʻre currently running an exhibition on stained glass, and thereʻs a display up in the lobby; a towering, glittering sheet of glass fragments all suspended on string and twirling, sending colored light twinkling in fractals across the floor.
On the mezzanine, Phoenix leans against the railing and waits for Maya to come back. Franziska materializes before he has to pull out his phone to pretend to be busy.
Her idea of wedding attire is about four more inches of black leather than she usually wears, and lace sleeves that disappear into her gloves. She looks like a James Bond villain.
"Wright," she says.
"Miss von Karma."
She slits her eyes at him, thoughtful. "It is strange to see you in my country. I seem to recall a challenge I extended once, to see who would best in the courts of my homeland, you or I."
"Please donʻt arrange for someone in the wedding party to commit a crime just to get me in German courts, I actually like Chris and want to keep on his good side, he lets me use his Netflix," Phoenix deadpans. And then, rearranging his priorities, "Iʻm not even licensed to practice law here."
Franziska tsks out a dismissive noise between her teeth, but her eyes are glittering.
"Why the museum?" he wants to know, genuinely curious.
"We have always liked them," she answers. The honesty seems to surprise her as much as it does him. "Our mother, at her own whim, would pull us out of school and takes us to Museum Island. It would be a whole day, just for us. We did not even tell our father."
Manfred von Karma died of 10,000 volts in the January of the year before; Gumshoe told them about it. It rained that day, and Maya burnt popcorn in the office microwave and set off the alarm, and Pearl had to ask them three times what was wrong. The man once attacked them with a taser and tried to kill his son and never acted like he thought any of that was wrong, and Phoenix doesnʻt know how to begin to compartmentalize that, even years later.
"Ah," he says.
It never stops feeling like betrayal, the fact that some part of him still believes Franziska could grow up to be that person even when he likes her so much. Itʻs the same part of him that didnʻt quite believe it when Mark Zuckerberg sat behind glass with manacles on his wrists and said I didnʻt kill Eduardo, with a tight, almost frustrated shrug, like he resented the waste of time.
(Although, to be honest, the fact that Mark Zuckerberg is dating a lawyer never stops sounding like the start of a good joke.)
If you pressed him, Phoenix supposes he could admit to being grateful that his defendant took the prosecuting attorney to dinner right after she failed to get him convicted for first-degree murder, because it introduced Markʻs then-assistant to Franziskaʻs brother, and Phoenix wouldnʻt undo that for anything.
Markʻs here too, of course, talking to the groom, who is red-cheeked and colored by stained glass and distinctly less starved-looking than he was when he first came to Wright and Co. and said, please, can you help, itʻs my boss, he's been arrested.
As they watch, Edgeworth materializes at Chris's side, laying a hand against his back in a way that Chris leans into, seemingly without thinking. Mark's eyes track that point of contact, but he doesn't say anything horrible, just smiles a crooked smile and lifts his champagne glass in a silent toast to them both. Chris's mouth form over the words "thank you," bright and happy and obvious.
"I think," murmurs Franziska lowly, in a way that sounds almost like a confession. "That when we fell in love, we chose well."
"Choice had nothing to do with it," Phoenix replies. When Edgeworth catches his eye and looks pleased, he smiles back, because there's nothing else to do.
13. Percy Jackson and the Olympians/The Amazing Spider-Man, Peter Parker/Percy Jackson for the "a wedding or a funeral?" meme.
And, because somebody needs to say it, "This is entirely your fault."
"You know, when people tell me that, usually thereʻs a lot more blood and mayhem involved. Less," he flaps a hand at their surroundings: the carpet of the city hall is the color of red wine and smells like dust the way old buildings do, the man ahead of them in line is nervously muttering his vows under his breath and wiping his sweaty palms on his dress slacks, and somewhere, a fax machine buzzes.
It earns him a laugh. "Donʻt rule it out yet."
"How is this my fault? Introducing them was your brilliant idea. You said, and I quote, ʻOh, yes, you know who Darcy would get along with? That ginger chick with the creepy yellow eyes.ʻ Your spidey sense sucks some serious ass if it didnʻt tell you there was no way that could end well."
"You said she was the Virgin Oracle! Iʻm sorry if I got the wrong impression!"
"Weʻre Greek," Percy stresses, like that explains everything.
A notary with a clipboard materializes at the front of the line, hair lacquered into a bun at the crown of her head and pen shoved unceremoniously through it. She reads out, "Ms. Dare and Ms. Lewis?"
Leaning against the rusty radiator in the corner, Percy snaps to attention, and Peter -- whoʻs been walking around on his hands for the past ten minutes to show just how not miserably red-faced he gets when upside-down, seriously, Percy would try to drown the guy if he thought it would help his self-esteem any -- tucks and rolls to his feet effortlessly, tugging his shirt into place. Theyʻre wearing matching tuxedo-print t-shirts, because theyʻre classy gentlemen, donʻt let anyone tell you otherwise.
"Thatʻs us," Percy calls out.
The notaryʻs eyebrows twitch. He can physically see the moment she tells herself not to jump to conclusions, because she crosses to them and goes, "Are you … the brides?"
Peter throws his head back, barking laughter. "Yeah, no, weʻre the witnesses. The brides are --"
"-- here!" a voice calls, and then Darcy and Rachel are there, weaving in between the other waiting couples, their cheeks flushed red. Theyʻre in matching spring-colored dresses, A-lines with hems that swish above their knees, and white ballet flats. Peter offered to design them proper wedding dresses, the kind befitting proper SHIELD agents, but they said they didnʻt want to wait that long. Theyʻve gotten their hair to do that casual wave thing that girls can do that Percyʻs always figured was a superpower, full-bodied and glossy. They pull strands from their mouths, breathing hard, and then smile, all teeth.
Darcy looks at them over her shoulder, giving them a twinkling wave, and Percy waves back helplessly, because the radiant joy on her face makes him feel strangely tenderized and sunburnt and a little wistful.
Rachel doesnʻt bother looking back at all, holding onto her bouquet with one hand and Darcyʻs hand with the other.
"Weʻre so screwed," Peter whispers on an exhale, sounding completely hopeless.
"Yup," Percy agrees, and they bump fists.
Then, because now heʻs thinking about it, "What if I introduced MJ to the Amazons?"
14. The Social Network, Erica/Mark/Eduardo, for the "a wedding or a funeral?" meme.
When the appointment appears in her docket for half-past one on a Wednesday, Erica assumes itʻs Jenʻs secretary playing a joke on her, so she doesnʻt hurry with microwaving her lunch. She gets back to her office, and heroically somehow manages not to spill Campbellʻs Soup-in-Hand down the front of her blouse, because Eduardo Saverin and Mark Zuckerberg are sitting across from her empty desk, their heads tilted towards each other and talking low. Markʻs face sports some serious windburn and she canʻt see an inch of Eduardoʻs skin around the edges of his suit that he doesnʻt want her to.
"Shit," she manages to say by way of greeting, and they look up. "What are you doing here?"
Mark speaks first. "We need your help."
As a general life philosophy, Erica doesnʻt trust men like them further than she can throw them, although she could probably throw Mark a little further and would have fun doing it. (Now thereʻs an idea for a video game: punting Mark Zuckerberg across various record-breaking distances against computer-animated backgrounds that are supposed to invoke imagery of Monaco. Sheʻd buy it, even if it was only available as some hideous $50 Wii game.) She sets her soup down and addresses him.
"Iʻm a tax auditor," she points out, carefully. "I make sure people keep the lies they tell on their taxes down to a believable extent, and for fun, I draw web comics about birds and see how many times I can fit a snide reference to BUʻs acapella group in casual conversation. How can I help you again?"
Mark reaches into the satchel at his side and removes a manilla envelope, passing it over. "We trust you not to laugh at us," which is rich, coming from him.
"Or sell the information," Eduardo adds.
Erica flicks the tab open and pulls out a thick, official-looking sheet. There are five signatures at the bottom, Mark and Eduardoʻs most prominent. The rest of itʻs in Spanish, but Erica can recognize it as a stamped Argentinean document just fine. Mostly because there's a giant watermark that says "Principle de Santiago del Estero, Argentina" at the top.
"You got married," she says blankly. "In Argentina."
"We were there for separate conferences. It seemed like the thing to do," Eduardo offers.
"Yes," Erica manages, staring at them. "Because getting married is always on my list of things to do at an overseas conference."
And then a horrible thought occurs to her.
"Oh, god," she goes, and despondently buries her head into her arms on the desktop. Muffled, she whines, "This means you have a conjugal bank account and the cumulative net worth of the taxes youʻre going to have to pay on that will probably be more than your combined college educations."
"Hence why we came to you for help," Eduardo agrees. Then, to Mark, "Told you sheʻd be quickest on the uptake. Pay up."
Whatever Markʻs supposed to pay, he doesnʻt do it, reaching over instead to sock Eduardoʻs shoulder, hard, with a grin that surprisingly meets his eyes. He has to stretch across his own body to do it, because the hand closest to Eduardo is otherwise occupied, their fingers laced together in the space between their chairs.
15. The Social Network, Mark/Eduardo, for the "a wedding or a funeral?" meme.
Itʻs not quite five in the morning, and Keith is on a bus again.
Heʻs on a bus, in a suit he hasnʻt worn since his last job interview, and it doesnʻt matter that heʻs had it dry-cleaned since then, heʻs sure it smells like stale sweat and nerves, all his own projections of inadequacy and the unique helplessness at being at the mercy of bureaucracy caught in the weave and the neat seams. He has a bouquet of flowers suspended between his knees, the wrapping rustling noisily in his grip with every bump in the road they hit. He picked all he could of the price sticker off. He thinks she might have liked them. He hopes. He doesnʻt know what kind of flowers she liked: he thought he had all the time in the world to learn that kind of thing, but it turned out he didnʻt.
Itʻs not quite five in the morning, and Keith is on a bus in his most respectful suit, and heʻs got a long day of travel ahead of him. He doesnʻt feel like part of the city today, a ghost and a peel-on paper, slapped over the surface, which is why it jars him, when the bus rolls to a stop at the curb and these kids get on.
They arrive in a burst of noise, crashing up against Keith's awareness so discordantly it's like he's knocked his funny bone. Two mid-twenty somethings in disheveled clothes, conversing loudly with no thought for anything outside of themselves, and they head straight for the back of the bus, the one in front rubbing purple fingertips against his shorts to get feeling back into them.
"-- why everyone is so surprised," the one in the back is saying. His suit is the more expensive version of Keith's -- the kind you wear to make a deal, or to a funeral. "Every single time, you lot freak out, like, ai, meu Deus do ceu, where'd all this snow come from? Umm, how about the west, where all of your weather comes from? Seriously, was nobody listening to me when I told you Iowa got two feet of snow two days ago?"
"No," his friend says flatly.
"Well, you should have, because if people here just paid attention to Iowa or Illinois, they'd stop complaining about their so-called 'unpredictable weather'."
"No one gives a shit about Iowa or Illinois, Wardo," and Keith's opinion of the dude slides straight into what a fucking asshole without even passing Go.
"Then you will always have cold feet," concludes the one in the suit mildly, and his friend wriggles his bare toes in his sandals and then shrugs. Keith mentally revises his estimate of their age: teenagers. Late-stage teenagers, maybe, but only eighteen or nineteen, at best. Kids. Dumb ones.
The bus slows for a red light and they lapse into silence, and remembering himself, he returns his gaze to the floor between his shoes, ridged with crusts of dirt from the slush tracked in by the overnight passengers. A few of the flower heads in his bouquet haven't blossomed yet, petals closed up tight, and he thinks that they might bloom in a day or two if he put them in a vase of water. But cut flowers are already dead flowers, and these are only going in the ground, so he'll never know what they'll look like unfolded.
It's not quite five in the morning, and Keith glances out the window and they go under an overpass only barely highlighted by the dawn, and he counts three more stops until he has to start moving again.
When he next looks back, shock swamps him, because the one in the shorts has climbed into his friend's lap, straddling him with both hands wrapped around his face, holding it in place so he can suck on his tongue. His sandals have fallen off his feet, showing Keith the layers of grime on his soles.
He flicks his eyes away quickly, but there aren't any other people on the bus besides a cook in a hairnet in one of the middle rows, big winter coat gaping open to show her oil-splattered apron, but she's snatching a catnap up against the window while she has the time. He looks to the front, but the bus driver isn't looking either, couldn't care less, flipping open the tab to her thermos and taking a drink. He's the only one who sees.
The bus engines whines up an incline, and the boys in the back continue to kiss in slow pulses like heartbeats.
Hey! Keith wants to yell at them, plastic crinkling under the clenching of his fist.
Hey! Today I have to go home and bury the woman I could have spent my whole life loving. Do you even care?
Hey! Can you little shits not do that where I can see you?
Please? Please don't do that to me.
And maybe it's that thought, that hazy overlay he can see of him and her in these boys' place, and it keeps him quiet, drives him to him watch far longer than he would have on a normal day. Watch their hands, the way they clutch at hair, at cheeks, at hips and the backs of knees like creatures trying to hold on to the edge of a cliff. The one in shorts rubs at Wardo's jawline with a thumb, which seems like the kind of thing Keith should be witness to, like if he didn't see it then the tenderness of it wouldn't exist.
Wardo smiles into the kiss, teeth showing, and his friend licks up under them, which swallows the beginning of his words when he tries to speak.
"-- the girls?" Keith hears. "What were their names?"
"Jesus Christ, Mark, can't you remember these things for longer than five minutes? Alice --" and the one in the suit says something else that makes his friend yank at his hair in a way that might be punishing if he didn't immediately follow it by lipping at his bottom lip, and Keith catches the tail end of Wardo's half-laughed, "-- no wonder -- only takes an hour with you before most girls are ready to gut you open with a shoehorn."
"Girls like me just fine. I'm honest with them, and their trust in my honesty lasts longer than their anger. But you --" there's that thumb thing again, and from this angle, Keith can't read Wardo's expression, but he can see his hand skate up Mark's back, fisting in the pale grey fabric of his sweatshirt right over his shoulder blade.
When he replies, Wardo's voice is so soft that, reasonably, there's no way Keith should be able to hear it.
"But you've never been honest with the people you love a day in your life."
The bus passes an empty, dark stop without slowing down, and when they turn the corner, Wardo's grip changes to keep his friend from sliding right out of his lap, feet bracing with a thunk of his heels against the bench. Mark resettles his weight further on his haunches, putting space between their bodies.
"I'm honest with you," Wardo says finally.
Mark barks a laugh that rips free of his throat like a clap, loud enough that the cook in the middle row opens her eyes briefly, squints out the window, and closes them again with a grunt, folding her arms over her stomach.
"Don't be stupid, Eduardo," Mark says. "You don't love me."
Wardo cants his weight forward, lifting his chin up so that in order to avoid a collision, Mark has to lean backwards sharply and risk falling off of his lap, or else catch Wardo's face with his hands and hold him still. He goes with the latter, trapping him and pulling them in so their noses are flush, their foreheads pressed together, the angles of their bodies tilting back and forth in synchrony. Loose hair tangles between their eyes as Wardo shakes his head once, twice, mouth moving soundlessly and his brow knotted.
(To the day he dies, Keith never forgets this image, this one here, two people he will never know caught in a moment of intimacy so powerful he can still see the corona of it on the inside of his eyelids.)
"If I ever told you that," says Eduardo with his eyes squeezed shut. "If I ever said that to you … then I was lying."
For a beat, Mark says nothing, does nothing. Then, with the softest laugh he's ever heard, he laces his fingers at the back of Wardo's neck in a movement made to keep.
And just like that, Keith can't take another moment.
He rips his eyes away from them with a gasp like someone coming up from deep underwater, standing and jolting off-balance with the sway of the bus under his feet. He grabs onto the stop cord and yanks, not even checking to see where he is. There's a ding, and the bus slows.
It's not quite five in the morning, and today is the day he has to bury a woman he never imagined life without. Keith gets out and sits down abruptly on the curb in his funeral suit with a bouquet of flowers still in one hand.
It's cold and the cement is wet with half-melted snow, and he wraps his arms around his knees and starts to howl.
(A/N: Credit where credit's due, my inspiration for this one came entirely from this piece by Owen Freeman [art has been taken down :(], and this song by M83.)