[cut igniph? cut igniph]
Kim hit their fist against the wall. The cabin they’d found, what looked like prime fuel, was actually metal. And cold. Just painted to look like a cabin. Kim grumbled. They played with the lighter in their pocket. They were starting to see the trees burn. Leafy lollipops on fire.
Laughter licked at their ears, low and boiling. Hands closed around their throat. Kim was burning up.
Kim refused to drag the trees into this!
They kicked the door down.
Somehow, a gasp rang out over the flames. A raccoon. His fur was hand-clipped and invaded his eyes. Scarred on half his face. He drew his knees closer to his chest and lowered his eyes.
Kim’s breath became a fog machine. The raw fury Kim felt for him―nobody had the right to treat anybody this way! Their fury shoved the fire out of the way.
[oh that’s right i have a pie. strawberry rhubarb. i’ve never had this flavor before. that’s pretty good. it’s like a pastel cherry pie.]
“Let’s get you outta here, yeah?” Kim said, gathering him up.
The kid winced at Kim’s touch. He seemed confused when Kim put him in the truck. Kim gently draped their coat over him. All he had was a measly set of scrubs, he was freezing! Kim wished they had a blanket for him instead. Wanted to wrap him up in a blanket burrito and never let go…
Kim growled. Their hands felt itchier than ever. Their lighter started feeling like it would just pop open on its own.
Kim grabbed their fire shit and burned the damn hellhole down. Good riddance. To that place and itchy hands.
“Got a name?” Kim said as the engine grunted awake. June raged on, and hypothermia needed gradual treatment, so A/C was a go―as ambiance, not in the kid’s face.
The kid trembled less violently. What he was doing before was outright murder.
[oh wow i completely forgot about solnishko’s response here huhhhhhhh XD ]
He looked out the window, slumping despairingly, making his body as small as possible. Kim kept driving. The bumpiness and curliness of the road kept them focused on something other than their worry.
“He ruined it,” the kid’s voice was so small, Kim almost missed it. It’d been long enough that Kim needed a minute to figure out what he was talking about. And then it hit him like a boulder.
“My partner, Ben; and our kids, they’re real creative types,” Kim said. “They’ll help you find a name you like.”
The kid looked at them, hopeful. “Really?”
“Really,” Kim nodded, smiling. They wanted to encourage him. They knew what it was like to never get any.
He started flapping his hands and giggling. Kim didn’t think anything of it; they were watching the road.
But then the air electrified.
Kim pulled over. The kid’s eyes glowed a ghostly blue. His hands were going a million times a minute, doing that warping pencil thing. Cobalt lightning sizzled around his fingers.
Kim double-checked that they were sober before continuing on down the road.
“Do you…?” the kid started to ask. He flinched and went back to looking at the window.
“Do I what?” Kim asked; inviting, not forcing, him to speak. Never forcing.
Kim understood he was scared. Talking was hard enough when it was people you knew, never mind a complete stranger.
“Do you want me to not play with Lightning too?” he sounded heartbroken.
“I,” Kim started, then stopped to find the phrasing. “You go right ahead!”
The kid looked shocked. He flapped his hands again, watching Kim. Not going at it as fast as before, but apparently still fast enough to bring out the lightning. But he must’ve realized that Kim wasn’t lying or whatever damn shit his captor must’ve pulled on him in the past. To make a kid worry about that kind of thing… Kim wanted to rebuild that hell and burn it down again.
Curvy roads along a seaside route gave Kim plenty of time to figure out how to tell Ben “our new family member is a lab rat”. Naturally, Kim spent that time enjoying the quiet instead. The roll of the wind and waves, the rumble of the engine, and the static of the lightning.
The kid spent most of it either playing with his lightning or looking out the window. The sun and moon were making out while the clouds, wispy like unrolled cotton balls, spread out throughout the sky. However, by the time Kim pulled into the garage, the moon had gone home. The kid was still clearly fascinated though.
The kid toed the stone floor. He didn’t even have socks, for crying out loud! Just a sweaty pair of scrubs. Fur only went so far, Kim would know. Fuck! What the hell kind of asshole did something like this to a kid. To fucking anybody!?
Kim picked the lock, noticing the kid watch them with tunnel vision focus.
“We’ll show you how to do this soon,” Kim promised. “But for now, make sure you take a key when you go outside. Too much heat’s just as bad for you as too much cold.”
Something about his expression…
[i went to go gather some cats. i don’t think they’ll stay gathered for long but they’re here now :3 ]
Something about his expression reminded him of Ben in juvie.
[one cat is attempting to leave. goodbye kitty]
Speaking of the bastard. Sprawled out on the sofa with one of the weighted blankets. Never mind that their crew of two had grown into a squad of scoundrels, this was why they got a sectional: Ben took over regular couches. Love-seats? Nah! Ben-seats.
[fuck where to describe ben?]
“What did the cat drag in?” Ben said, long-suffering, as if he’d been the one to wake up to people-shaped surprises twice now! And one of them was pregnant!
“You brought in the other three, it’s my turn now,” Kim said.
Ben finally emerged from the couch and blanket.
[fuck i’m gonna be in trouble when i actually go to sleep tonight. the remaining cat has taken over the bed. and of course he’s in the fucking middle!]
[brb redeeming a tooth care]
[i’m back ❤ ]
He looked rough. His eyes all shot with “natural eye shadow”. Ears flat. About the only thing he had going for him was his summer coat was finally all in: black and blue and silver too.
His ears perked up when he saw the kid. Kim let the kid hide behind him.
Ben nodded at Kim. As if Kim would let him turn the kid away.
And then Ben crashed back into the couch.
Kim rolled their eyes. They’d deal with him later.
Kim gave him a quick tour. Pointed out the bathroom and everybody else’s bedrooms. Someone would show him the downstairs later.
They had one extra room left. Blue walls with white accents. Boring, but livable. Especially compared to where he’d come from. There was fucking furniture here, for one thing.
He immediately when over to the little nook and started looking out the window. Kim hated making him stop, but he hadn’t gotten any sleep on the way here; and he definitely hadn’t been sleeping before they found him.
“The sun’s out now, I’ll sleep later,” he said, voice still raspy, but happy.
It was all kinda cute, actually.
Kim needed to find him some pajamas anyway.
“There’ll be plenty of sunshine all day,” Kim said when they returned with said pajamas. Foraged from Ben’s half of the dresser. “Summer solstice, longest day of the year.”
“Really?” he asked.
“Really,” Kim smiled.
[i always worry i use too many dialogue tags now but i also worry about screen-readers that obviously don’t indicate paragraph breaks]
The kid felt up the pajamas and the bed. All the pillows and blankets, including the quilt on top: the one personal touch to the room. Lots of triangles and diamonds; oranges, whites, and yellows. Kinda sun-patterned. Kim remembered making it when they were really, really bored waiting for the heat to die down.
The kid wore the quilt like a cape and hugged Kim.
“Sleep well, sunshine,” Kim said, returning the hug.
“You too, Kim.”
With that, Kim went back to the living room to put the other sleep-dodger to bed. Interestingly, Ben had moved.
Kim found him in their room. Smack in the middle of the bed with the face of an angry little prince.
The carpet wormed between Kim’s toes when they finally got their boots off.
“Why were you in the living room?” Kim asked as they shucked their shirt.
“…It was cold in here,” Ben finally said.
Kim smirked. They were hot and they knew it. The muscle of the group, and it showed on their body: dense and thick. And Kim’s muscles kept going. None of the showboating stuff in gym ads and shit.
[so to recap: kim = thicc cat]
More than that, it was nice to be appreciated. Especially by their partner.
[appreciating your partner(s) is very sexy]
[omg i think my cat is snoring ^-^ ]
“You were cold?” Kim said. “In the middle of June, with all the blankets all to yourself?”
“Yep,” Ben said. Stubborn little ass.
Kim snorted. They climbed into the bed. “Well, let’s see if I can warm it up then.”
Ben locked eyes with them.
[gonna dig up the version i started writing from Solnishko’s POV. feels like a good place for a POV shift]
[i’m also rereading the christmas special i wrote for this series. oh my god so many hyperlinks. i linked to fucking every christmas i could of to work into the story. amazing. 2021 HFE would never XD oh my god i linked to an ERB too jesus christ]
[wait i gave eddie a brother??? what the fuck??? OH THAT’S RIGHT HE ADOPTED RONNIE (this was fucking years ago and i’ve written like nine-thousand fanfictions since then gimme a break)]
[wow i really did a whole fucking verse of it feels like christmas]
[wait who did i make penguin’s grandkids again? i think i made him batman and robin’s but i don’t remember when i revealed that. oh my god]
[damn i just wanna reread my fucking fanfic. like obviously i was very sheltered and ignorant back then, but that’s part of why i’m making this remake. the story’s really good! it just needs an update.]
[OKAY THE THING I ORIGINALLY SET OUT TO READ]
[oh damn what would solnishko call himself pre-name???]
[can i get away with using second-person POV???]
[WE’LL FIND OUT]
The sun is still out when you wake up, just like Scorch―Kim promised. This is the most sun you’ve seen in your life! And this time, you’re not in pain. You didn’t trip over your own super speed.
You soak up as much sun as you can. You’re worried the Future Man has some way of tracking you down. What if he brings you back?
Then you remember there’s no back to bring you to. Kim burned it. You watched them do it. But Kim didn’t watch it burn. Scorch always watches things burn… Did the Future Man mess with Kim’s timeline too?
Maybe it’s just different because the timeline’s different. The Future Man told you time travel doesn’t bring back or forward to the exact same universe. You’re really just traveling to a really close alternate universe.
You wonder what the original you would be doing right now.
You look at the clothes Kim wants you to wear. They’re not all one color or texture. The bottoms are fuzzy and blue, and the top’s white and smooth. They’re heavier too. They’re the heaviest clothes you’ve ever worn. You like heavy clothes.
And there’s white… feet shields? Socks! You’ve read about those. They feel very warm and very soft. You never want to go without socks again.
You want to go to the bathroom. But Kim put you here. They didn’t lock the door, though. It’s not even closed. This must be a test. You will pass.
Maybe if you’re fast enough, nobody will know you left.
You soak up more sunshine. It’s beautiful. The clouds make it look like it’s wearing a wedding veil.
[damn. the original is heavily laden with bigoted word choices. well there’s no but for that. however, for as many creative decisions that it has that i wouldn’t make today, it’s still very loving and kind, deep down. hopefully, this version will be loving and kind to more people.]
[from the original: Most of them botched the German, Clyde couldn’t sing for shit, and Harrison couldn’t dance at all, yet nobody cared cuz they were an ‘ohana. ‘Ohana means family, and family means many different things to many different people. To these people, family usually meant nobody hurt each other nobody no matter how they got, and when somebody goes missing, go look for them. But it meant something else first even though nobody said it out loud: when someone is cold and alone in the dark, don’t leave them there—bring them home. True, not all of them were ever literally cold and alone in literal darkness, but they all were in a better place no matter where they came from, and the world was safer with every last one of them in it.]
[and at the end of the day, aside from all the life stuff that happened to me thanks to this story; this is why i like the story itself. it’s a bunch of people who weren’t in great places, finding a loving family at last. and i guess that’s something i’m really vibing with right now]
[think i’ll end the stream here, but i’ll be streaming tomorrow! let’s find someone to raid!!