In less meaningful news, the first round of Naruto Last Character Standing is still ongoing~ I'd like a few more votes before I end it tonight. Yamato and Iruka are in a dead heat, and Anko and Tsunade are awfully close.
Uh. Onto (slightly) less pointless matters: I've decided to do another fic prompt meme. But this time, I'll be providing the prompts; you just pick one that hasn't been used yet and give me character, group, or pairing. I'll write a ficlet for it. You all know my fandoms, and if you don't, that's what this post is for. If this turns out to be more popular than I expect, I'll let two people pick one prompt, but until they're all used up? Pick one that hasn't been chosen yet.
As for the origin of the prompts--well, one of the ways I got through yesterday's service (despite being dazed from fatigue and sick from low blood sugar) was via looking at the siddur and thinking, "What passages here would make good fic prompts?" Yeah, I'm terrible like that. When I got home, I dug out my own home siddur (which isn't quite as detailed and eloquent as the Gates of Repentance prayerbook used for High Holy Days services at synagogue, but oh well) and a few online translations of important prayers, and I pulled lines from those sources.
Enjoy my blasphemy. :D
1. rolling light away from darkness, and darkness from light (John Constantine) [infinitepryde]
John didn't so much step out of the doorway they'd hacked into the Deepest Dreaming as he fell out of it. Angie had to dive out of the way to avoid winding tangled up with him on the floor.
"Thanks for the support, love," he said dryly as he picked himself up. "Let's clean up, right?"
She started picking up the components of the ritual. "You seemed awfully rushed to get out of there," she observed.
"Hate that bloody mess of a place," he muttered.
"But--" She hesitated, trying to find the words. "I caught glimpses of you in there. You're much more powerful than you are out here. Actually you're pretty useless out here," she said.
"There's too much light and too much dark," he said. "That stuff ought to cast shadows. But in there, it doesn't. And sometimes, if I don't keep the two apart, without the shadows between them they try to eat each other."
"Sounds like just the sort of thing you'd enjoy," she said.
He grinned, just a little. "Not without my shadows."
2. with all your mind, with all your strength, with all your being (KakaSasu) [a_white_rain]
Sometimes, Kakashi sees all of himself in Sasuke: his loss in the boy's eyes, his inadequacy in the way his shoulders tremble and try to slump though he refuses to let them, his loneliness in the tilt of his chin. Those are the times when Kakashi keeps his distances, tries to separate the two of them in space if not in self. But Sasuke is uncooperative; he draws closer as if trying to see what his sensei sees.
Sometimes, Kakashi sees nothing of himself in Sasuke, only a consuming, broken need that clears all else from his eyes, shudders new and strange in the set of his shoulders, wipes out humanity from the way he holds his head. Those are the times when Kakashi lets his own need get the better of himself, and he moves too close to the boy, perhaps even does what he should not and rests his hands on Sasuke's body somewhere to assure himself that it is still warm. But Sasuke will not have it this way. He moves away, as if to leave a space in which all they think and all they are lies suspended, unsure whether it will mix or flow away like oil and water.
3. bind them as a sign upon your hand; let them be a symbol before your eyes (Anko/Iruka) [heron_advocate]
Although they have exchanged few words, Iruka cannot help but watch Anko sometimes. She is so different from the life he is used to and the person he is, and yet--
--and yet for all her eccentricity, there is a strength in her that draws him to her.
He passes her at one of the shops he goes to for lunch sometimes, and he sees her tearing into her meal with swift hands and flashing teeth, and she is like an animal, except she knows how to control herself.
He sees her stalk through the halls sometimes, and there is a darkness in her eyes, but she keeps it there, at her beck and call.
She holds her demons before her like signs (like the seal branded into her neck), controlled but not tame, and that is at once utterly alien and enormously appealing.
His only mistake is to assume he can watch her from afar. If she does not let her own demons out of her grasp, why would she let him go free?
He finds her on his desk one morning, her lips smiling and her eyes narrowed. "How much of me have you seen," she asks, "and how much more do you want to see?"
He has a feeling she will be the one to answer that question for him.
4. wonders without number, marvels that pass our understanding (Saber and Archer) [sunsitenthai]
Servants are miraculous beings, beyond the pale of ordinary humanity; heroes existing outside of time and space. Some Masters will even admit this.
Archer, summoned for the fifth time to fight in a war he's grown to despise, still seeing the echoes of his own mistakes in every hated breath he takes, laughs at the Master who told him about how wondrous Servants were.
Summoned for the sixth time, Archer sneers the whole way through until he sees Saber, and he remembers that once, he thought the same thing. It's a bit of a reality check, but not much--he is not the boy he once was, although he still hates himself for it.
It is not until he finds himself fading with Saber's sword in his heart that he realizes that it's still true. He still believes her a miracle beyond comprehension, and still he cannot find the words to tell her this.
5. give us refuge in the shadow of your wings (Mwu/Murrue) [joiedecombat]
When Murrue gets out of bed in the early morning, Mwu pretends he does not see spread wings in the shadows cast by her body. That would be indulgent to the point of inappropriateness.
The dawn light, of course, is simulated. It is the ship's polite way of pretending at natural lighting, at a proper day. Mwu is used to this. He has been used to the sacrifices of space for a while now.
But seeing Murrue rise in the morning, seeing the pale light spill off her body, he can't help but think of a new rhythm, realer even than trees and sky, set by her smiles and the shadows cast as she shrugs into a uniform she has transcended.
6. beyond all the praises, songs, and adorations that we can utter
7. remember us unto life (Dearka/Miriallia) [dragonsquee]
"It's because you're stronger than me," Dearka finally blurted out.
The problem was that she'd asked him the question ("Why do you care? Why do you stick with me even though it's all over, even though it would be easier for you to stay in the PLANTs all the time and never visit?") hours earlier, before the dinner and the movie.
And honestly this wasn't the right answer anyway--he had so many more ways to answer it, so many other reasons he came to see her even now.
"What?" she said. Judging from the look on her face, he wouldn't be getting a goodnight kiss after this date, either.
"It's--" He spread his hands out helplessly. "The way you still smile," he tried to explain.
Miriallia looked at him for a long moment. Then she smiled, as she always did. "Idiot," she said. "That's not strength."
"Then I don't know what is," he said.
"It's a good memory," she said, tapping her head. "It helps, as a photographer, sometimes."
It was his turn to go, "What?"
"I can see what was good in the past," she said, "as well as what was bad. And I can keep loving it."
Dearka let his gaze fall. He'd always known he wasn't as good a boyfriend as--
"And it makes me more able to confront the future," she said, "and love that too."
He looked up.
She was smiling again. "And you just make the present light up." She rolled her eyes and started walking again. "Idiot."
8. keep faith with those who sleep in the dust (Auron/Lulu) [kisanthe]
It was only by coincidence that circumstances conspired to leave Auron and Lulu at the back of the traveling party as they made their way down the Highroad.
It was not coincidence but simply the very realness of him, standing close enough that Lulu could hear the heavy rustle of his coat, the soft shivery sound of cloth shifting against the metal of his sword on his back, that made her think: He is not a legend; he is a man standing next to me.
And Lulu had always been bold, in her own way. "Why are you here?"
"I told you," he said. "I made a promise."
"A promise to men ten years dead," she said, perhaps a little too sharply.
"Heh," he said. "Do you want me here or not?"
"I want you here for Yuna," she said. "Not with ghosts guiding the hand that holds your sword."
He half-looked away, and there was the faintest trace of a smile on his face. "Are you telling me that there are no ghosts in your spells?"
She thought of a man who had smiled with the face of the mysterious newcomer at Yuna's side, and she said nothing.
"You understand," Auron said. "Promises to the dead are the strongest kind."
9. let the song of liberty be heard in the four corners of the earth (Ichigo or Hollow!Ichigo with Grimmjaw and Orihime) [homicidalsh33p]
It all comes down to this:
Ichigo and Grimmjaw, their swords at each other's throats, blood everywhere.
It always comes down to this, to Ichigo fighting and bleeding. Sometimes he thinks he can't possibly have any more blood left. But once again he needs to find a little more to give, or Orihime will stay here, locked up in Aizen's dark kingdom.
Grimmjaw is close enough for Ichigo to feel his breath, hot and ragged. "You think you can beat me now, here? I'm whole, I'm fucking glorious, and you're nothing but--"
Ichigo feels himself slipping, feels dark things inside him. He doesn't want to have to give himself over to them completely to save Orihime. It would feel somehow unclean. But Grimmjaw is on him now, and he's not sure he has much choice any longer.
"Shut up," Ichigo says. "It doesn't matter what I think," he brings Zangetsu up in a sweeping arc, "only what I do to kick your ass."
Blood flies out again. Grimmjaw staggers. He's weakened. If the others were close enough, they could help take him out now--but it's only Ichigo here and now, he is alone, and he has just spent the last of his energy. Now he will be finished.
Grimmjaw takes a step back, preparing to deal the final blow. And then he stops, and then he falls.
Behind him is only Orihime, her hands outspread, her fairies around her. She freed herself, and she has come to join the fight of her own will.
"Thank you," she says, "Kurosaki-kun."
He doesn't see why she's thanking him, but he can't exactly say so, since that's when he passes out from blood loss.
10. let there be peace in her gates, quietness in the hearts of her inhabitants (Hinata) [ginkage]
As Hinata returns from the last battle of a war she never thought she'd be strong enough to fight in, she watches the shinobi around her retire from battle in their own ways.
The ANBU sheath their swords; some even take off their masks.
Tenten puts away her weapons, checks them and tucks them away one by one.
Lee puts his weights back on and retreats to Gai's side.
Sakura takes off her gloves and shrugs the monster strength out of her for now.
Kakashi pulls his hitai-ate back over the Sharingan eye.
Naruto, he lets the demonic light fade from his eyes, and once more he is so smiling and bright it makes her ache.
Hinata has nothing to put away, only hands stained with blood. That is the fate of the Hyuuga, to never be able to put down her weapons. They are in her very veins. She wonders if she can learn to live with that.
But then she walks back into the estate of the clan she will someday run, and she remembers the light in Naruto's fierce grin as he vowed to protect all of the Leaf. She understands, because around her the people of her clan are safe once again, and someday she will help them yet more.
11. for the signs of your presence we encounter every day (NaruSasuSaku) [lena_yume]
Sasuke wakes between the two of them in the morning, and he can still feel them on him. He still aches where Naruto's fingernails just barely broke the surface of his skin about his hips, and his lips still feel bruised from the way Sakura's pressed against them.
They are still asleep. It is his chance to escape, and he takes it gratefully. He rises from the bed with stealth befitting a trained ninja, he dresses, and he slips out the door. He has duties to attend to, duties which are easier on his heart than dealing with his teammates and lovers when they wake up at his side.
But even as he goes about his morning routine without them, he can almost feel them at his side, almost see them out of the corner of his eyes.
When Naruto and Sakura wake, they find him gone, but the bed between them still has his scent, and they can still almost feel his body between theirs. But for now he is vanished.
(These are the early days of their love; someday, perhaps, Sasuke will wake early in the morning, and he will wait for the other two to wake next to him, wait to kiss them again good morning.)
And yet he is not gone. Through the day they haunt each other. There is no mistaking the way Sasuke's gaze lights on fire when he catches sight of Naruto across the street, or the way his face softens when Sakura smiles at him. Others may miss it, but they can catch the signs.
12. keep my tongue from evil and my lips from deceit (SasuHina) [molten_ghost]
They did meet once, in the gardens of the Hyuuga estate, when they were old enough to understand that politics flowed over their heads like a rushing stream as their fathers met, but young enough to still stand beneath that stream, out of its reach.
Although they did not know the details, with the ears of children they could hear the intricacies of politics in their fathers' voices on the other side of the walls: in Hiashi's voice a cool white foam that covered all truth, wore it down until it was smoothly acceptable to the Hyuuga; in Fugaku's voice red curtains that covered the gathering darkness in their clan.
It was Hinata who held out her hand to Sasuke then, her pale eyes wide. "Let's never speak like that," she said.
"Huh?" Sasuke resisted the implications in her words.
"Let's not be ground down by the things that upset our clans," she said. "Let's be ourselves." And she smiled, hesitantly.
He took her hand. "All right," he said. "Let's do that."
But children's promises are sometimes forgotten. It would take Naruto to remind them both of this one.
13. at the shore of the Sea, saved from destruction (Lacus/Kira/Athrun/Cagalli) [askerian]
They each have their own islands. Lacus and Kira's island is a PLANT in space where he woke up from what he thought was death, what he'd accepted as death, and saw her face instead. Athrun and Kira's islands are made in midair whenever the hands of their Gundams clasp. Athrun and Cagalli have a literal island with pretty sand and too many crabs where violence once turned to comfort.
And surely they have islands yet to be discovered among them.
So when Lacus finds the new island where she and Kira will settle while he heals, she watches him sit on the porch and look out to a sea he thought he'd never see again, and she decides that this island will not be just for the two of them.
She drags Athrun and Cagalli there as well whenever they let her, and with the way she smiles and welcomes them she makes it clear: This is not my home or his home but our home, because we could have been blasted apart into dust in the vacuum of space, but because we held to each other we were not and now we never will be.
And perhaps that does not entirely make up for the way Athrun looks a little shocked and a lot embarrassed when she touches him, or the loudness of Cagalli's complaints about Kira drooling on both her and Athrun when they sleep--
--but it is a good start.
14. a new song the redeemed sang to your name (Sasuke) [a_white_rain]
In the end, Sasuke still thinks of his family, the dead one.
(It's not the end, really; it's only the beginning, and that's what's so frightening about it.)
He uses Katon jutsu to light candles while Naruto scoffs at him for it (but looks on with hopeful eyes), then dedicates them to his parents' name.
In the warm darkness, he confesses to Sakura that he wishes he could sing, so he could perform songs in their memory, grave and poetic.
But she looks at him with that gentle smile he knows so well in her eyes, and they both know that if he could sing, there are better things than old grief to motivate him to it these days.
If he ever forgets, she and Naruto and Kakashi will remind him again, and perhaps they will all sing together.
15. look upon our affliction and help us in our need (Allen/Rinali) [dragonsquee]
It is years, more years than either of them thought they would ever have at first, before Rinali admits it to Allen.
"You were there, in my mind," she says.
He cocks his head and waits for her to continue, because without clarification it's a silly thing to see--of course he was there in her mind.
"When I was at my worst, when I was past being comforted by the thought of my friends or my brother, the rest of my world--" She catches her breath. "When I closed my eyes and thought that I might never open them again, I saw you there. And it was what I needed."
But he does not look shocked. He only smiles. "I know," he says. "I've always known."
At this she almost looks indignant. "You knew? How?"
"How could I not?" He reaches out with both hands, his fingers on her face, those of the man and those of the weapon. "You were there for me as well."
16. teach us then to find our happiness in the search (InoSaku and InoChou) [lynnxlady]
These days, Sakura roams in Ino's dreams. She wears little (an idea that came to Ino's subconscious after seeing the way her newly-shorn hair brushed against the faint curves of her now mostly bare neck) and she smiles much.
In the dreams, Sakura is the one who comes to Ino. During the day, Ino chases her with smiles that are more smug and cocky than truly happy. Maybe that's because Sakura has a habit of catching those smiles, making them hers, without ever truly realizing it.
"You like it that way," Chouji observes after the fourth time Ino has failed to distract Sakura from her training one day. His smile is rather too sly.
Perhaps, after she's given him a shove for intervening in her sacred chase, the smile Ino turns on him is a genuinely happy one.
17. we shall not fear, then, though earth itself should shake
18. in the shadow that has fallen on their home (Kakashi/Rin with Rin-->Obito after Obito's death) [heron_advocate]
Sometimes Kakashi thinks there is no light in the days, weeks, and months that follow Obito's death. But maybe it's just that he isn't looking for it--after all, their sensei tries, but he always turns away.
Rin does not try to shine in those days, though, and for that Kakashi is grateful. She merely takes him by the hand and leads him to secret places in the forests where they sit in peace, and after a few days there those places feel more like home than any place has since Kakashi left his father's house.
He is not surprised when she admits, "These clearings have always been like home to me," but he is a little regretful that he has stained them with his presence.
And yet she seems grateful that he is there--
--although her head turns sometimes to look at the empty space next to him, and her breath catches, and then her jaw tightens and her mouth thins.
When his eye hurts like misplaced fire in his head, she always brings him into the secret home in the woods, and there she tends to his pain, but sometimes when she attends to him with herbs and chakra both, her gaze slips, and she isn't seeing him anymore.
After a while, Kakashi understands that while sometimes he is not in the forests with Rin, she is never alone there. Perhaps she treasures most the times when it is only her and the ghost.
19. in darkness and light we affirm our faith (Squall/Rinoa) [joiedecombat]
They are Sorceress and Knight, and some legends tell of some pairs like them who walked in each other's dreams every night (although of course that could be mere fancy), but Squall has only two dreams where Rinoa comes for him. They are common dreams, though.
The first is one where he is lost in Ultimecia's Castle, and he can feel Time itself clutching at his back. he thinks if he turns around just right, he'll see his jacket hanging torn, shredded by withered claws. But when he turns, what he sees instead coming after him is a flickering phantom shape of everyone who he has ever feared abandoning him, of all the beautiful places in the world he has ever worried would crumble, a thing from the grave with dust on its teeth--
--but only for a second, and then Rinoa walks right through it, tearing it apart, and she gathers him up and holds time back with her hands.
The only other dream where Rinoa is there with him is the flower field, and in his dreams it is so golden that he thinks he can taste the light. But when he opens his mouth to do so, she covers it with kisses instead and he tastes Rinoa, Rinoa, Rinoa and this is his life, she is all that matters.
When he wakes up, Squall is not sure which dream he is more grateful for.
20. our destiny is not the same as anyone else's (NaruSasuSaku) [askerian]
On the rare dark days when Tsunade refuses to teach because she has too many memories plaguing her that only the bottle can drown, Shizune studies Sakura with sad eyes. "When you take her place," she says once, "I hope you're more sensible."
Sakura turns away, her cheeks hot, and Shizune thinks it is from shame, but it is only because she can't express the depth of her anger.
When they stop in villages that know Jiraiya from exploits long past, the bartenders grin at Naruto, but a little sadly. "Someday, kid, someday you'll be the one making yourself feel better by leading some bright young boy through here," the most honest of them tells him.
That's the bar where they incur their highest tab yet, because Naruto breaks several rather expensive glasses altogether too close to the bartender's face.
Sometimes, when he is leaning too close with his hands on Sasuke's shoulders, Kabuto murmurs secret tales into his ears of how he might grow to be an even better overlord for the glory of Sound than Orochimaru ever was, if only he chooses wisely.
Sasuke reluctantly dismisses it with his usual, "I am far past choosing wisely," but beyond the cool resignation he is mildly surprised to find that a part of him still burns at this casual misappropriation of his destiny. He thought he'd long since become comfortable with his lack of a fate of his own.
It is only when he meets Naruto and Sakura alone on the field of battle, and they both have him pinned down and he has nowhere to look but their faces, no way of closing his eyes and looking away any longer, that he begins to understand what it was that burned within him then.
21. for they bow to vanity and emptiness (Tsunade as Hokage introspection) [homicidal_sh33p]
The first time someone--a paper-pusher in one of Leaf's administrative buildings--tells Tsunade that they have faith in her as the Hokage, she gives them her old-woman's smirk, but accepts the compliment for what it is. They're naive. They don't know. Let the young have their delusions.
The second time someone--a low-level diplomat from Sand--tells Tsunade that they appreciate the work she is doing as Hokage, she gives them a skeptical look, but only says that she'll try to keep it up. This time, though, she wonders if she should tell them the truth.
But not long afterwards, she catches sight of herself reflected in the glass of a window as she has so many times before seen herself reflected in the glass of a bottle. She flashes herself a sardonic smile, and she knows then that it is just not her way to show people the truth. It is their business to see the pretty young Hokage with everything under control and protected, and hers to know the old woman beneath who could not protect her brother and her lover.
22. beware, lest your heart be deceived (SasuSaku angst) [des_butterfly]
On her worst nights, when her muscles do not ache quite enough from training to distract her thoughts, Sakura lets herself think: what if he is gone forever? What if the boy who thanked her before he left is now gone, a ghost devoured by the shadows that have claimed his heart? What if he is now beyond their reach and beyond her love? She should not think this, but she does.
She sleeps, but the fear does not leave her.
On his worst nights, when the bruises and shallow scratches (no one dares cut him deep enough to scar) he acquires during training are not painful enough to keep him from thinking, Sasuke is gripped by a strange terror: what if they are happy without him? What if they are together now, content to let him rot so long as they have each other? He should not care about this, but he does.
He sleeps, but the fear does not leave him.
I should fix up my "creative" icon to show off Bernadette's supreme hotness better. Hmm!