sobota: (there ain't never enough time)
( Apr. 13th, 2015 12:36 pm)
I think I am a kind person. I help when I am able to, and I give things from my own possessions if I can. Little acts of kindness go a long way. Last year I paid for someone's Girl Scout cookies. The only reason I remember this is because she started crying. Which kind of freaked me out.

Today at the post office I gave the person in front of me two stamps. I don't use a lot of stamps in my daily life, but I always carry around a book of stamps just in case! Today was a perfect time to use them, I suppose.

Do you do any random acts of kindness? How do you feel after?
sobota: (i hope you choke + fob)
( Apr. 11th, 2015 11:03 am)
"Jealousy is when you worry someone will take what you have. Envy is when you want what someone else has."

I am not a jealous person. I have nothing to give and therefore nothing anyone would want. I am however a very envious person. I envy people's happiness and their lives on a daily basis. I know it's horrible and an ugly emotion to keep harbouring but I honestly can't help it.

How do you deal with jealousy and envy? How do you keep it from consuming you?
( Apr. 10th, 2015 09:35 am)
I am not the only person going through the things I am going through right now. I am not the only person having to make the decisions I have to make right now. But I am making them. And I am terrified.

Also, I definitely forgot yesterday so I will go back and put an entry there which will make me feel better. Completion and all that.
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sobota: (caution tom hardy + inception)
( Apr. 9th, 2015 11:21 am)
I don't think it's much of a secret that I'm terribly unhappy 99% of my life. I think it's because I've never really found a 'home'. By that I mean I've never found a place where I am very, very comfortable.

Well, that's exaggerating. London and Lyon, in England and France respectively, are two places where I can see myself living and creating what I think of as home. Now, I am not sure what that will look like, because I'm not there, but...it's all I can think about. My ever spare daydreaming moment is me in one of those cities, and I will be unhappy until I get there.
sobota: (kick it deutschland!)
( Apr. 8th, 2015 02:41 pm)
I could probably write this in German, but it would be filled with embarrassing grammatical errors because I am a lazy, lazy sod.

My mother is German, and I have dual citizenship. I am so, so proud of being German, but mostly, I am proud of being European. I feel European (and German) much more than being American. I was born in Texas, but I feel no connexion with it. If I had to choose to live anywhere in the world, I'd live in Europe: Either in England or Scotland, France or Germany, with the Netherlands and Sweden very close behind.

Weirdly, I can't articulate what it means to be German, other than the language and the common history. I know what the stereotypes are: ruthless efficiency, lack of a sense of humour, and pessimism, but none of those apply to me (though they sort of apply to my mother).

What does it mean to be anything, really? What does it mean to be American, or French or German? I'm sure this has been the question of the ages, really, and caused a lot more grief than necessary.
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sobota: (heart bunny)
( Apr. 7th, 2015 04:09 pm)
J'ai commencé à étudier le français quand j'avais seize ans au lycée. Il n'y avait que trois choix chez mon lycée: espagnol, français et latin. Mes amis m'avais dit que le prof d'espagnol était un dragon et pourquoi étudier une langue morte comme le latin? Le prof de français était nouveau et moi, j'avais mon choix.

J'adore le français. J'ai continué à l'université, et j'habitais à Lyon, Paris & Nancy. Je veux revenir, mais maintenant je veux juste avoir le chance de l'utiliser au quotidien.

Si vous voulez une traduction...vous pouvez me demander.
sobota: (earth: harmless + h2g2)
( Apr. 6th, 2015 11:37 am)
I don't always like getting political (which is mostly a lie) but I've been getting more and more strident about public education. Education is a human right and should be treated as such. I am afraid that the weird property tax funded way that America does public education is going to cause a massive gulf in abilities between the very wealthy and the very poor.

I also believe that universities should have no tuition. Student debt is crippling people's ability to live any sort of life. To be fair, I truly think that university should not only be tuition-free but that university students should be given "wages". I am dangerously socialist and more than a little progressive.

All I know is that I would never raise a child here. Education disparities are a problem all over but America is probably one of the worst in the developed nations.
sobota: (snoopy sobota)
( Apr. 5th, 2015 09:23 am)
Easter is always a fairly low key holiday chez nous. I've gone to a handful of Easter services at churches around the world (including a stunning one in France) but as I'm not completely Christian I'm not very up on the traditions. Both my mother and I are enamoured of the tradition of the cross draped with purple cloth during Lent. It's subtle and a wonderful tradition. I can still be moved by simple traditions.

I am still a spoilt only child though. I didn't ask for anything, but my mother still gave me an Easter basket, filled with some of my favourite things: sunflower seeds and beef jerky! We are not traditional.

this is a large picture sorry! )
sobota: (frost + tree)
( Apr. 4th, 2015 03:33 pm)
In a startling state of affairs, I have two job offers staring me down. One is in Georgia, where I am lacking a qualification and would have to be part time. The other is in Cleveland, Ohio, where I am fully qualified and would be full time.

I fell in love with Cleveland when I went last spring. I would love to have this job. I would also love to stay close to mother (with some caveats). We shall see. We shall see. I do not pray, I do not believe. But I would like to hope.
sobota: (la petit prince)
( Apr. 3rd, 2015 11:35 am)
My life is in shambles about me, but at least I have this day and most all of next week to sit back and take stock. Mostly I am taking stock of failures, because I have no victories. I have a life full of failures and mistakes and nothing to show for it. I'm not even being maudlin. I am un-married, childless, mostly friendless (with a few exceptions) and, after the 5th of June, without a real job. I am in a city I hate, and have always hated, with no real chance of escape.

I am not sure what more to say. I am sorry for this. I wish I had better news.
( Apr. 2nd, 2015 07:20 pm)
So I have lost my job and now am on a search for something else. What that'll be only time will tell.
Avancemos!

It has been a moment, and I have to update; I've signed up for the A to Z challenge here.

I will not be returning to the high school at which I am currently working. I am so used to moving and uprooting and leaving friends/acquaintances behind. I am disappointed in myself, but I am also very angry about the circumstances behind my leaving...

I don't have a lot to say. I am often tired, and often sad. Tomorrow, perhaps, will be a little less maudlin.

Until then,
D.M.
My most darling Carol,

So last week, I went out to party with all my friends, and met a fucking beautiful guy who was there with his friends. I ended up spending time with this beautiful guy, and in a moment of beautiful weakness, I invited him to my place. Neither of us drink alcohol (he's a former alcoholic, I’m a Muslim) so we were completely sober, which is even weirder.

We ended up having sex. Almost the entire night. I haven't had sex since last January, but it was almost like it was completely natural and wonderful and the guy wasn't particularly gentle, but he held onto me and kissed me and was into me the entire night. The best part was we spent most of the night cracking jokes and just, you know, being together. We talked about music and our lives and it wasn't like any other one night stand I’ve had (except the one where I lost my virginity, but that dude and I are still friends, so it colours my vision a little).

I woke up pre-dawn to eat breakfast before the sun came up and Ramadan started. He stayed with me for about three hours and I made him breakfast. Just an omelette (which will forever be code for 'blowjob' thanks to this bloke, seriously, it was that kind of night) and tea, but he was appreciative and I was boggled.

This guy was beautiful. I am not at all beautiful. In fact, I’m fat and ugly and sort of a pain. The whole night practically, from when I joined his friends up until he left, it was like we were the only two humans in the entire world. He looked me in the eyes, he held my hand in the taxi back to the flat, and basically made me feel like a damn goddess.

It hurts because this has to be a one night stand. We’re both leaving on Wednesday. We didn't trade numbers; we didn't even say "see you later" or ANYTHING. It was just a perfect confluence of events that will never happen again.

I don't even feel guilty. I feel like I’m a lucky poker chip or a rabbit's foot or the best damn fortune outta a fortune cookie, the one with all the right numbers. It was beautiful and it happened and somehow, when I read this entry again I will only think of how he joked about strippers and omelettes and the Beatles and how desired I felt when he flirted with me.

I can't even believe this guy is real, but somehow, he is, and I am going to smile all day today.

Yours, xx

N.B.: My brain is hard-wired for perfection. I’m self-conscious about everything that is wrong with me, and there is plenty. I’m scared to talk on the phone because I can't see the other person's face, I don't know their reaction. I have to correct every spelling/grammar mistake in my head, I think about what I’m going to say before I say it, and sometimes if I don't know what to say, I just don't say it.

But everything about me is wrong and bad. I have terrible hair and terrible skin and I’m too short and too fat, and my nose is too big and my hands too manly. I stand in front of a mirror and slowly pick myself apart, and it keeps me from smiling.

There are two reasons I miss that one night stand, and here they are:
1. He made me laugh and smile, even with all my teeth.
2. I felt beautiful under his hands.

I feel stupid and a little desperate, and a little lonely. I feel like I should have done more, like get his number or make him stay a little longer.

Once again, one more thing I’m wrong about. xx
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sobota: (green sobota)
( Jan. 15th, 2015 08:42 pm)
Isaac tossed the Ident-ease card at the teller, digging around in his pocket for his Nico-Stick. "How much per hour?" he asked as he pressed down on one end of the 'Stick, waiting for the familiar warmth against his finger.

"Twenty clicks," the teller replied, sliding the UV light over the card. "You have four hundred and twenty five clicks remaining, Mr McCoy." Isaac sucked on the end of the 'Stick, and nodded.

"Give me two hours," Isaac said, and the teller swiped the light again, and the screen lit up briefly: 385 clicks remaining. Thank you and enjoy your stay! Isaac just smirked and took the card back, slipping it back into the supposedly hidden pocket on his coveralls.

He walked into the building and removed the breathing clip from his nose; places like this usually had their own controlled atmospheres, unlike outside. Isaac continued sucking at the end of the 'Stick as he stopped at the bar. "Sugar Deuce, ancient," he said, sliding on the barstool and looking over his fingernails, frowning. Working near the core always left his skin peeling and his fingernails dirty. No wonder he had to come out here for a little bit of fun.

The 'tender slid across his rum & coke on the rocks and Isaac sighed. "Who you picking tonight?" The guy asked. Isaac shrugged and watched the ice float. It wasn't real ice; freezing was a pretty unknown technique nowadays, and there was no ice left anyway.

"No fucking clue. Don't really care." He shrugged and took two big gulps of his drink. Nothing. He'd need at least two more before he even felt anything. "Who's holdin' the aggro tonight?"

"You looking for Joyce. 280-A." The tender refilled him, and Isaac finished it off, his 'Stick cooling. He cursed and pulled out another; Nico-Sticks were expensive.

"Thanks," he said and got up after typing in his number so his Ident-ease would be charged for the drinks. He took the slider up to the next floor, and followed the glowing arrows to 280-A, rapping knuckles on the door.

"Please ring the bell for entrance," a woman's voice informed him, and Isaac rolled his eyes and pressed a grubby finger to the glowing white button next to the door. The door slid open and Isaac walked in.

Joyce was sitting on one of the low seats. He glanced up and nodded. "Hi. IE number?" Isaac gave it to him and Joyce nodded, pushing aside his hair and typing in his number onto the keypad that appeared on the table in front of him.

"Forty clicks remaining," the same woman's voice from outside said. Joyce nodded.

"What do you want?"

Isaac sat down on the sofa with Joyce. "Aggro. The 'tender downstairs said I should come to you. Whatever happens afterward happens." Isaac continued to suck at the 'Stick.

Joyce watched him for a moment, and then got up, leaving the room. He was tall, thin, and pale. Looked like he never left these rooms. Isaac wouldn't be surprised. Only people that could stomach outside anymore were cops and core miners. One look at Isaac and you could guess what he was.

Joyce came back and tossed the small metal box in Isaac's lap. "You a core miner, huh?" He slid close to Isaac and smiled at him, his lips parted and glistening. Isaac shrugged as he opened the box, slipping out the vial with the bright blue liquid inside and a new hypo-needle. Isaac hummed as he tied off his arm. Joyce busied himself with pushing at Isaac's coveralls but Isaac stilled him with a look.

"Yeah. Good money and I don't have to get my jollies off fucking with kids like the cops do." Isaac grunted as the pressed the needle into his skin and released the Aggro into his blood stream. Joyce cleaned him up. "You got a name, Joyce?"

Joyce shrugged as he returned to continue undressing Isaac. "Joyce's good," he murmured as he pressed his lips against Isaac's. Isaac bit at Joyce's lip and pushed him backwards against the sofa.

Joyce didn't struggle as Isaac pulled at his clothes; Isaac heard a rip but didn't care. Joyce grabbed at Isaac's neck and scratched. Isaac growled and slapped at his hand, pinning it down. He could feel how thin Joyce's wrist was; it was the Aggro, but he wanted it broken.

Joyce moaned as Isaac twisted him around and pressed him onto the sofa, pushing into him. Joyce pushed back against him, gasping. Isaac bit down on the back of Joyce's pale neck, and Joyce groaned, pushing back against him again.

"Fucking slut," Isaac whispered and pushed him harder into the sofa. Joyce whimpered, but nodded and pushed back against Isaac. Isaac smiled against the back of his neck and sat back to pull off the rest of his coveralls, letting them settle around his knees.

The thing he liked about the kids in white was that they always had the slick stuff somewhere in hands' reach. Isaac was cruising on the Aggro, wanting Joyce to break under him, but he wanted his own ride to be smooth.

He pushed into Joyce, twisting his fingers in the kid's hair as he did. Joyce moaned and pushed back as Isaac rocked forward. Isaac growled, leaning in to bite him again, pulling his hair to tug his neck to the side.

Isaac slid against Joyce, his skin sticky against Joyce's. He closed his eyes and continued to rock forward, groaning as Joyce tightened around him. They continued to fuck like that, rocking forward and pushing back. Isaac leaned down to bite at Joyce's shoulder.

"Touch me, please," Joyce mumbled, and closed his eyes. "Fuck, please. Touch me."

Isaac grinned against Joyce's shoulder and reached underneath him, his callused, scarred hands gripping Joyce's cock and stroking him, his thumb pressing at the head as he moved his hand back, and then up, along Joyce's cock.

Joyce pushed into Isaac's hand, and nodded as Isaac continued fucking him, rocking into him, tugging at his hair and biting at his pale, pale skin. Joyce groaned, knowing this wouldn't last forever, wanting it to anyway.

Isaac came without warning, shoving Joyce's face into the sofa. Joyce groaned as Isaac didn't let up on his cock, coming a few moments later. Isaac waited for a few moments and pulled out of Joyce. Joyce stayed still, his eyes closed.

He turned around and ran his fingers through his come, licking it off his fingers as he watched Isaac. Isaac nodded in approval, and leaned down to lick at his lips.

"William," Joyce said against Isaac's lips.

Isaac sat back, and furrowed his brow. "What?" He tugged up his coveralls, but Joyce stilled him, slipping on top of him. They kissed again, and Joyce held onto the back of Isaac's neck. (The thing about core miners, their hair was always in cornrows, or shaven. Isaac's was in tight rows, no chance of it getting caught up in something.)

They pulled away, and Joyce grinned. "You asked for my name. It's William."
Tags:
I stand in your shitty kitchen making martinis in panties and we hold hands in the backseat of my dad's convertible and eat ice cream. My legs are in your lap and my feet are bare and the ice cream is cold. You're so pale and your hand looks bright against my dark legs.

I stopped wearing shoes the day I got off the plane and my soles are black and my legs are still adjusting to being completely grounded. I'm still adjusting to being completely grounded. It's like we're starting all over again. Nobody noticed me standing barefoot at the baggage carousel, just like nobody noticed you in your sunglasses, arms spread wide for a hug. Nobody (or everybody?) looked our way when we kissed. You said you didn't check anything, so we walked out into the glaring sun and it was like January never happened, like we were just two kids learning about each other.

You liked my pink toenails and laughed when I put in some Beatles, but 'anything's better than NPR' according to you. We put the top down and I was speeding and we were singing (screaming) along... now you're in the shower, and I can still hear you singing.

Come back to me, and lie with me. Let me be yours again.

Last night we watched some shitty movie and stayed up to watch a rerun of some show I had never heard of before and then we slept together and I'm really sorry about hitting your face trying to reach my phone. No, really. I had no idea that would happen.

& thanks for making me breakfast, and sorry for being such a bitch this morning, but thanks for making me laugh.

If I weren't already in love with you, I would be falling hard.
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The water is deeper than I remember, and colder than I would ever expect. The Pacific Ocean is vast, ancient, much less forgiving than its cold, grey, harmless sister. My strokes are strong and sure, but the board still seems heavy, fibreglass pressed against my sternum and my stomach. The cord attached to my ankle gives me some small confidence.

I grip the edge of the board and fairly fling myself up, wobbling a bit but gaining my balance quickly. The wave that brings my board in is disappointingly weak, but it is still exhilarating to ride it. My instructor Ian praises my stance and my ability to stay upright, giving me additional advice in his fantastically Australian accent--and all Australian accents are fantastic--and promising that the next wave will be 'a great fuck off' wave. Cursing still thrills my thirteen year-old heart, and I swim out strong.

The next wave is a 'great fuck off' one. It engulfs me, swallowing me in foam and salt and a great blue wall of nothingness. My eyes sting, held open by the force of the water, and I tumble and scrape along the floor, my board slipping and catching. I fumble to grip, to pull myself up, but the wave's children follow him, and I am tumbled again like so many awkward bits of flotsam. I finally pull myself up, gasping, clinging to my board. I am sure my eyes are red. My skin feels raw, but nothing is really hurt. I paddle weakly back to Ian, who looks anxious for a second--a whole second!--until he sees I am not hurt. He asks if I would go again, and I look back at the waves, the inconstant, lying waves, and I stretch myself along the board, and swim out once more to meet the sea.
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sobota: (happy new year 2014)
( Dec. 29th, 2014 04:01 pm)
1. What did you do in 2014 that you'd never done before?
- participated in LJ Idol
- moved into my own apartment
- held a job for a second consecutive year

2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don't make resolutions, but I stil have my 101 in 1001 days.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My very best friend Stacie had a baby boy!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My father's mother died, leaving me with no grandparents. :(

5. What countries did you visit?
I stayed in the US, sadly.

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
I'm not sure. I'm generally content. I'd like more money, obviously.

7. What date from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
My visit to Boston with my church in July. The day I moved out of my old place.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Moving into my own place.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I'm not sure...I'm not a very successfuly person so my whole life is kinda a failure...

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I had a really rough cold, but otherwise nothing serious.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Nothing much; my flat is a rented thing. I didn't get any new technology or anything...

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My mother, as always. She's an amazing woman.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Nobody in my life; police in general.

14. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I'm not really a person to hate.

15. Where did most of your money go?
My flat, and all the bills and things that comes with living on your own.

16. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Travelling with my church! My new flat! Cleveland during spring break.

17. What song will always remind you of 2014?
I don't listen to a lot of music, so I don't have a theme song this year. But I really enjoyed 'Stay with Me' by Sam Smith and 'Pompeii' by Bastille.

18. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? I'm just not a very happy person, ever.
ii. thinner or fatter? A gross disgusting fat troll as always.
iii. richer or poorer? I'm broke all the time, but I have a lot more money than I ever have, I guess.

19. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Travel, exercise...had a better life.

20. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Wasting my time with people.

21. How did you spend Christmas?
With mum.

22. Did you fall in love in 2014?
No.

23. Did your heart break in 2014?
No.

24. How many one-night stands?
One.

25. What was your favourite TV program?
Breaking Bad, Parks & Rec, Peaky Blinders, Game of Thrones...

26. Where were you when 2014 began?
With my mother.

27. Who were you with?
My mother.

28. Where will you be when 2014 ends?
At my mother's house.

29. Who will you be with when 2015 starts?
My mother.

30. What was the best book you read?
Lord I actually read a lot of books this year. Le Carre is amazing, but I read a few PD James books, and they were quite good...

31. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Bastille, Lorde, etc.

32. What did you want and get?
My own flat.

33. What did you want and not get?
A life.

34. What was your favorite film of this year?
Uhm...

35. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I'll be turning 29. I'll go out to eat dinner with my mother.

36. How many different states did you travel to in 2014?
Four: South Carolina (when I lived in Georgia); Ohio (for Spring Break); California (for summer hols); Massachusetts (with my church)

37. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?
Femme. Dark colours to hide my fatness.

38. What kept you sane?
Church.

39. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Misha Collins, as always. Idris Elba? He's always a favourite.

40. Whom did you miss?
Nobody.

41. How many concerts did you see in 2014?
None.

42. Who were the best new people you met?
New church people; some gamer friends; nanowrimo people!

43. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014:
If changing location doesn't make you happy, may you're the problem.

44. What are your plans for 2015?
Begin my MA in French. Lose weight. Try to be happy. Travel more.
sobota: (sex pistols + jrm)
( Dec. 13th, 2014 06:19 pm)
[ “The future outwits all our certitudes” ]

There's a café right up the street from me that serves bagels and "New York style hot dogs". And I stand there in awe, wondering if this is what the United States is...pickles and sickly sweet doughnuts and A&W root beer? I have no idea what to believe: you can't believe your eyes; you can't believe your ears; your mouth moves so fast that the words seemed blurred like rain running in ropes down my window.

It gets dark so quickly here; it's not even one o'clock where you are. What are you having for lunch? What are you writing about today? I get sad thinking about your letters; so many other people read them and somehow it makes them better, knowing that people are trying to figure you out (like me). I get you sometimes, but other times I'm just as lost as you are.

Sometimes you don't know whether to laugh or cry and when you laugh, your heart explodes and you can't help but say yes, over and over and over. I have never been so free as right now, staring down the barrel of a long range rifle, dreaming of first class and pomegranate vodka cocktails. Have this weird sense of vertigo, wrapped up with a side of déjà vu. It'll all end in a crash and then we'll all be a little bit better in the morning (when it doesn't look so bad).
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Hardy very often wonders what would flash before his eyes before he died. He has stopped dreaming a long while ago, but there are moments that send shivers up his spine and spikes through this brain, and he is left grasping at straws, trying to remember.

+++

Hardy feels the crunch of bone before he hears it, and goes down on one knee hard, grunting in pain. He puts his hand to his left shin, and it's slick with mud and blood. He keeps the rugby ball tucked under his arm and rolls onto his back, staring at the grey, pissing sky. He's shivering from shock as his team swarms around him.

"Offa him, you bleedin' idiots!" the coach yells, pushing the team back and letting the paramedics get set up. The player who tackled him stands by helplessly, and Hardy just lifts a thumb, an I'm okay, quit standing around like a git.

They have to put pins in his shin, but he manages to walk just fine, and run even better than just fine. He has to work harder to prove that there's nothing wrong with him.

He still has to present a card that says he has metal inside his body whenever he goes to airports, which triggers an automatic pat-down at most of them. He takes it with a grimacing smile, but will show the scars to whomever asks.

+++

Westminster is as boring as one could imagine. Hardy is not sure what course to follow (he had done so well in is A-levels, he could have chosen anything), and chooses some maths, some physics, three languages. He feels like saying, "More weight," when he speaks to his advisor, but he really doesn't think his advisor would get the allusion.

He takes some literature courses next, a linguistics course. By the end of his first year, he is able to jump ahead to higher levels, and decides to study in America. Yale barely blinks into accepting him.

Hardy is bored there too; he takes more physics, an upper level psychology course.

He can drink anyone under the table, sleeps with way too many girls (and guys, because he is not picky), and still manages to make it to his eight am class. However, he vows never to do it again—it was an art history class, and the professor didn't know his arse from his elbow, in Hardy's opinion.

He finishes at twenty, and returns to England, going to the RAF Careers Office in London. He is recruited, although during psychological evaluation, it is noted that he tends to become bored easily and has a questionable temper.

+++

Hardy collects a series of nicknames throughout his career, starting in the RAF. Because of his tribal tattoos, he ends up getting the nickname of Friday. After their sniper trials, when Hardy receives his first promotion, he gets the nickname One Shot.

When he becomes Corporal, they call him Agent Orange, but he doesn't quite know why.

After he joins the SAS, he gets the name Frankenstein from all his scars and his fucked up pinkie. That pinkie nearly got him passed over for SAS trials, but he fought hard and won well.

And once he joins Company 14, the Intelligence Regiment, he receives his most favoured nickname of all, Bronson, like Charles Bronson. "Don't he look like a violent criminal?"

"Don't you fucking start," Hardy had said. "I'm a kitten, I am."

His closest friends end up calling him Kitten, but only when nobody can hear them. They get kicked, hard, for their troubles.

+++

The glass shatters, tinkling like a thousand small bells. Hardy can't feel the glass cutting into his knuckles, but he feels it slice through the skin and tendons of his pinkie, feels the rush of pain and how it explodes in his brain.

He doesn't even remember why he punched out the window. Just to see if he could, he supposes, but what happens is some twenty-odd stitches and the realisation that he'll never really be able to bend his hand the way he wants, or feel the last two fingers of his right hand.

It's extraordinarily painful to do the fitness tests later, when he joins the RAF, but he lets them bend his hand back, lets them straighten out the pinkie as much as possible, and stares at a wall, the only indication that anything is wrong the jumping pulse in his neck.

+++

"Do you understand all the obligations accorded to a Group Captain?"

"Yes, sir."

"Do you understand that you are responsible for not only the training, but ultimate deployment of your regiment?"

"Yes, sir."

"Do you understand that you are responsible for the safety, well-being and lives of your regiment?"

"Yes, sir."

"In your estimation, are you capable of the duties accorded to a Group Captain?"

"Yes, sir."

"Congratulations, Wing Commander Hardy. You have now received the rank of Group Captain. Thank you for your astounding and loyal service to the Royal Air Force."

+++
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They entered a dream space of absolute light and insanity, and pounding bass. Daniel looked instantly in his element, a fluorescent drink in his hand in a very tight black shirt and skinny, skinny jeans.

"You would think he went to gay bars in his spare time," Khalid mused as they watched him seduce their mark, pulling him by the hips towards him.

Daniel didn't look like himself, obviously, but with the mirrors everywhere, they caught flashes of his lips curled into that infamous and predatory grin.

Connor took a deep breath and shrugged. "He looks like he's having fun," he said, moving out onto the pulsating dance floor and moving in with Daniel.

They kept the mark enthralled while they kissed, deep, Daniel mussing Connor's hair and Connor pushing up Daniel's shirt.

--

Daniel rolled up in the red and white convertible. "Come on, love," he trilled, and Connor rolled his eyes and hopped easily in the passenger seat. Daniel leaned in for a kiss, but Connor pushed him away with a smirk.

"My dad had a car like this," Connor mused, touching the cracked leather seat.

Daniel turned on the music, bobbing his head easily. His shirt was open at the collar, and Connor spied bright green hightops on his feet.

"Are we back in the eighties or something?"

Daniel just smiled and turned up the music, and they drove off into the sunset. Connor kept his hand on Daniel's thigh.

--

Limbo. What was it, in a man's subconscious?

Daniel had been locked in his brain for 3 days, which was something like 50 years, to hear his doctor. Connor had no idea what he would find as he slowly opened the door of the small cabin; the only one for miles in this desert.

Daniel looked up; he looked the same as he always did. Connor stood at the door, and he nodded for him to come in.

"Tea?"

"Daniel?"

Daniel looked past Connor to the open door. "No, I don't think..." He looked at Connor. "Is that my name?"

Connor sat down, and Daniel poured him a mug. "Yes, your name is Daniel..."

---

Connor woke at dawn, every day. He watched the sunrise, went for a jog, and then went back to work.

When he jogged, he would jog by many empty things; empty office buildings, empty malls. He could imagine he was the only person living at dawn.

When he returned, Daniel would always be asleep, and wouldn't wake for hours. The world filled up, and Daniel would leave. He would come back with the sunset at his back, with dinner, sometimes without.

"What happened?"

Connor looked up to see a gun in his face.

"Are you dreaming?"

Connor slowly raised his hand, but Daniel just stared.

"Are you dreaming?" Daniel voice was tight.

"Why would I dream a world where you didn't love me?"

Daniel brought the gun to his own head. "And that's where you're wrong," he whispered, pulling the trigger.

Connor grabbed the gun from his hand and shot himself.

They woke up, staring at each other.

"Do you?"

"Would it make it easier?"

"I'm not sure."

--

Connor tapped his foot along with the band on stage, turning to drink down his Newcastle Brown.

"Would you mind if I bummed a smoke?"

The man who asked was handsome, with straight cut bangs and blue-grey eyes, but when he smiled, his imperfect teeth stared Connor straight in the face.

"Yeah, no problem," Connor said, handing his pack over.

The other man settled next to him, and ordered his own beer, a Fat Tire.

Connor bothered with his cigarettes, and turned his attention back to the band on stage.

"What are you waiting for?" the man said to the back of his head, and Connor turned and blinked at him.

"I'll go home with you, all you have to do is ask."

Connor looked at the man's full lips, at his nervous tapping fingers, at the promise of broad shoulders.

"Do you generally come to dive bars to pick up lonely guys?"

"No, but did it work?"

Connor stood up. "Why don't you come find out?"

--

The day Connor broke Daniel's nose was by any means a normal day. Daniel was a dick, Connor was a bore, and everything was normal.

Until Daniel decided to make a crack about Connor's last girlfriend. In a strange turn of events, Daniel had to forge her for a job that didn't involve Connor.

"The damn town bicycle, she was," Daniel said.

"I'm sorry, what did you say," Connor said, voice soft.

Daniel raised his eyebrow. "What, are you going to protect her virtue or something, Sir Connor?"

And Connor flew across the room, grabbing Daniel by the collar. "Choose your next words carefully."

Daniel smirked. "Your girl was a slut..."

And so Connor broke his nose.

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