Slaughterhouse Nine and Nilbog: I have even less to go on here than with the Endbringers. All I know besides the names is that they fall into the same category of “the monsters. The real dangerous motherfuckers, who are barely human any more, if at all.” As such, I can only theorize based on the […]

Interesting! I suppose there’s a good chance Othala works with (or more than works with) Rune, then. Stormtiger and Cricket being tank models… Tanks are known for being tough, to the point of the word being borrowed for the tough damage sponge in an RPG party. I’m guessing these two are both hard to damage, […]

Ahh, right, “alabaster white” – that’s where I’ve heard it before! The name makes a lot more sense now… Though it makes me even less sure about the power. I guess it could still have some connection to the material, like I theorized, but with this alternate explanation for the name, it could be just […]

I’m considering it good news – I’m happy for the fandom! And assuming I’m still going and willing to continue when the time comes, it sounds like an excellent opportunity. 🙂 Gotta say, though, I’m not sure about that title, especially with the hyphen in there. But last I heard before this ask, it was […]

End of Buzz 7.6

Here lies Braylor
June 25, 2011 – February 4, 2012
Not a date at the mall

Okay, so this may have had an unfortunate outcome, but it was a damn good chapter. Between the fight in the bookstore, the confession, and the rejection, every part of this chapter was very well written.

I’m not going to say I’m happy with the outcome, but I’m glad Taylor actually managed to confess at all. That’s something I’ve struggled with in the past, ultimately letting my first crush slip away because I couldn’t work up the courage, so seeing Taylor getting past that hurdle in a realistic way is satisfying to me even if she wound up heartbroken as a result.

Next chapter, we’ll likely be taking a look at what form the Empire’s temper tantrum is taking, and address some of the lingering awkwardness and heartbreak between Taylor and Brian (but not remove it just yet). Also, my prediction from the beginning of this chapter, about a distress call or something similar near the end of 7.7 causing Brian and Taylor to end up fighting the Empire, still stands.

So… yeah! See you then!

The walk back to his apartment was long-ish, maybe half an hour, and was peppered with only meaningless small talk and long, wordless pauses.  We got up to his apartment, and he started putting things away and getting the first aid stuff together.  I turned on the TV to liven up the awkward quiet.

Are we getting more news, or…?

I didn’t have to wait long before something caught my eye.  It was on channel 4, a live update on the Empire Eighty Eight situation.  From the looks of things, there was no doubt in my mind that Kaiser’s people were giving Brockton Bay their response to the email.

Well, that doesn’t exactly sound good.

“If there was more body contact or if I was spending time with you, or any of that other stuff you mentioned, I promise I wasn’t teasing or anything.  If any of it was conscious on my part, it was meant to make you feel more welcome, let you know you’ve got me around, because I knew you had a rough time of it at school.”

And pity.  There’s the trifecta.

Aw.

“It’s okay.  You can- you can stop now.”

We walked a few seconds in oppressive silence.

“I’m sorry.  I feel like an asshole.  Like I’m kicking you while you’re down.”

You’re not an asshole. It’s just not what she wanted to hear.

I shook my head, “It’s fine.  Not a big deal.  Just drop the subject?”

“Alright.”

I’m not sure Taylor is as fine with this as she claims to be, but dropping the subject for now might help. It’ll give her some time to deal with it in her head.

I bobbed my head in mutual agreement and swallowed the lump in my throat.  In a different place or situation, if Brian wasn’t around, if I had privacy, I might have cried.  I didn’t have that luxury, so I focused on putting one foot in front of the other, controlling my breathing, reading street signs and store names, and just focusing on anything that wasn’t Brian or the conversation we’d just had.

And/or put it out of her head for a bit until she’s in a better mental state to deal with it.

“You’ve got to understand, the only girls I’ve spent time around are Aisha and Lisa… Bitch doesn’t count, you know?”

I nodded, tightly.

Ah, I see. He’s not used to spending time around girls who aren’t either closely related to him or a close friend who isn’t interested in dating, so he doesn’t have a good grasp of where the boundaries go.

“Even when I was attending high school, I was always gone the second classes ended.  Meeting my dad at the gym, working, or going home to plan some costumed burglary or whatever.  You know?  I don’t have much experience, being around girls.

Makes sense.

I don’t really think that much about the relationship thing, outside of noticing when I see a good looking girl.  It’s something I always figured I’d get to later, when I wasn’t so preoccupied.”

This is kind of relatable.

I offered another nod, not trusting myself to open my mouth.

“So if I gave you the wrong impression, I guess it’s partially because I have no idea what I’m doing, and because I’m an idiot when it comes to stuff like that.  I don’t see you that way.  It’s… more like you’re my sister, someone I want to protect, and help, and support.  I like you as a friend, I can even see us being best friends, somewhere down the line.”

Like his sister.  A friend.

Sorry, Taylor.

I shrugged, doing everything I could to sound more casual than I felt.  I wasn’t sure how successful I was.  “I, um, I like you.  You don’t need to make a bigger deal of it than it is, I just-” I floundered as I tried to find the words, already regretting opening my mouth.

And there the smoothness dropped out the window. But hey, she actually got it out! That’s to be commended in its own right.

He didn’t speak, giving me a chance to continue, “I think you’re good looking, I like you as a person.  I respect you, more than any of the others, because you’re smart about what you do, career-wise.  You know.  And because you’re so comfortable in your own skin, so confident.  I admire that.”

It’s getting better.

“You sound so analytical,” Brian offered me a slight smile, but he looked a little pained, “Going through the points, step by step, like you’re checking things off a list.”

Hah. Yeah, that’s kinda what she does.

“That’s not- I’m not trying to.”

“I’m not criticizing you.  I’m saying it seems very you.”

:3

“No.  I just thought, um, you’ve gone out of your way to spend time with me, you were meeting me on my runs, invited me to be at your place alone.  I’ve noticed maybe there was more casual body contact, and thought it might be intentional, a signal, guy flirting, I dunno.  The present, the amber…” I trailed off.  It had sounded like a stronger argument in my head than it did out loud.  Except… what was I trying to argue?  Was I trying to convince him he liked me?

This whole conversation is just

adorable, hilarious and really sweet all at the same time

I am quite satisfied with this.

“Ah, geez.  I’m sorry if I sent the wrong signals.”

My heart dropped.

Aaand there it goes.

Yeah, there was always the chance of this happening in the back of my head. We’ve seen lots of unsubtle signs from Taylor, but not much from Brian. Some of that could be chalked up to the fact that we’re in Taylor’s narration, not Brian’s, and can only really perceive what Taylor perceives, but the possibility that he wasn’t showing it because it wasn’t there was always a thing.

I’m not gonna say I’m not somewhat disappointed, but I’m fine with this development. It’s okay if their relationship stays platonic, just as long as they stay close friends. We got a lot of adorable interactions between them even long before Taylor officially started considering Brian a romantic interest, and I hope that they can maintain a good relationship like what we’ve already been seeing, even if Taylor has to deal with some heartbreak.

On the other hand, there is still a chance that this is something of a bait-and-switch, with Brian having not intentionally been sending signals but there being some feelings nonetheless. I wouldn’t bet on it, though.