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(CW: Self-harm)

"But you're smart, right?"

Smart enough.

Smart enough to know how smart I'm not. Smart enough for that to smart (hah!), to sting, to burn like tears in an open wound with every leap that falls short, every answer almost-but-not-quite-good-enough. Smart enough to know this sounds like whining, and to accept that fact - to know I should be grateful for what I have even when I grit my teeth and fight back snarling immature rage at younger minds burning brighter than I ever could.

Not smart enough to realise that you never ever get the whole thing right in one. Not smart enough to realise pain's the poorest teacher when it comes to honest mistakes - that carving lines into your hands under the desk for missed verb endings, switched signs, equations not quite well remembered enough to pass the test, that ripped skin and peeled back scabs and fingernail-width gouges through your scalp  ('I ran into a door, a wall, a tree') are never more than momentary relief.

At least they helped research, when everybody said that I should be an author - author, actor, doctor maybe if you sit there and accept that every time they talk about you they will use the wrong name, wrong pronouns, that you'll always be that strange and singular anomaly.

But engineering? Electronics? Tech? Computing? Coding? Well, my parents would've backed me.

Maybe one or two of those teachers who understood what I wanted, but the rest? Even if they didn't mean it, it was always there. That's for other people, not for you.

So maybe that is where this comes from - maybe that's where all this poison, all this bitterness was born. The wonderful, seductive idea that another me, another time, another place - that he could have been a genius. Or at the very least, been more than what I am.  

Or maybe it is purely I can see the gap between my skills and where I want to be.

Or maybe I'm projecting. Maybe tired. Maybe purging something that's been building up inside.

Either way, I know where I am now.

And I know where I need to be.

Everything between?

That's up to me.
"You do have a plan, right?"

The laughter is more bitter than I intend. "Damned if I know."

They don't look happy.

Somehow, that doesn't surprise me.

I walk away. Don't look back.

Behind me, from the direction of the tent, I hear laughter - some joke about Osian wine, some half-remembered story from Before - and the Protector's anger flares up suddenly, white-hot in my chest.

How dare they?

How fucking stupid - how fucking naive do they have to be?

How do they not understand?

My people - our people - are going to die, and they're sitting there joking?

I close my eyes.

Bite my tongue.

Say nothing.

My mouth starts to fill with blood, and I breathe out, letting the flood of pain quench the Protector's blade as the Soldier comes unbidden to the fore.

So they do not understand.

Or they may not remember.

Or they do not care.

Or they do not, at this moment, recall.


We will remind them.

I straighten my spine, pull back my shoulders, let my voice carry across the ground.

Masks 1 (Protector)
A very brief snippet from the Impact event. Not really FOIP. 
Still around - passed the year with flying colours and looking to transfer onto the integrated masters program next term. Not much on the writing front due to a combination of uni work and lack of ability to make anything worth putting up here, but hopefully will sort that out sometime over this summer. 
It's not subtle. Probably another tell he's not like most of the others, if anyone other than him's counting - pretty fucking certain most of them have better ways of dealing with this than he does. More secret-y (and that's fucking eloquent, that right there. 'Secret-y'. Fuck). More mysterious and in keeping with the spirit of their ancient and noble order.

Though probably not a whole lot less bloody.


What's the fucking point, anyway?


They've already got two - three now - what the fuck do they need him for?


And everyone they've got can do pretty much anything that matters a damn sight better than he can.


Not as if anyone'd notice if he just up and left anyway.


After all, he's 'not helping people', right?


Helping people's what they're supposed to do.


So if he's not doing that


then what the fuck is the point of him being here?

Thud. Thud. Thud.

On the other side


since when was the last time he let some pushy piece of jumped-up magic tell him what the fuck he could and couldn't do?


And since when did he stop just because something wasn't easy?


Or because he didn't get recognition?


Story of the Iron Tides, after all.


All the hard work, and no-one gives a rat's arse about you afterwards.


Should be used to it by now.


And he is helping.


So fuck it. He's fucking staying.


And if anyone thinks different


then they can fucking burn.

Thud. Thud. Crack.

Not subtle.

But it fucking works.
Zen and the art of beating up masonry
In which Malik clears his head and bloodies his knuckles. 
Nothing that's been good enough to post, though. Fingers crossed for that changing in the next few months, since have left job and am heading back to university (to study electronic engineering)


Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
United Kingdom
"I have four other people living in this skull and I can't buy coffee!"

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