A/N:I am an asshat for not posting, sorry! I was so busy with cosplaying at the end of the summer and now that school has started again, I have no time to write! I thought I would sit down and get this done because I know how annoying it is to follow a fanfiction that is never updated. Once again, my apologies and enjoy!

When I woke up, both sequels of The Price of Dawn (Midnight Dawns and Requiem for Mayhem, respectively) sat on my bedside table, but I overlooked them in favour of re-reading An Imperial Affliction.

AIA is about this guy named Lüc (who narrates the story), his one-eyed father, who is a semi-important political figure, and his pompous brother. The three of them live in a small town in California until the day Lüc gets some form of rare blood cancer.

What I love so much about this book though, is that it's not a cancer book in the way one normally perceives cancer books. Lüc never starts a charity to help families with children suffering from his cancer nor does he come to terms with his disease in some stupidly philosophical way.

Lüc constantly refers to himself as the side effectand I like that. Lüc's cancer- along with mine and, like, Nick's—is nothing but a side effect of the relentless mutation that made humanity possible.

As the story progresses, Lüc get sicker, treatments and the disease threaten to kill him, and his pompous brother falls in love with the Dutch nurse who tends to Lüc's bedside. He calls her The Duchess because she turns out to be fabulously wealthy and very eccentric when it comes to her ideas of cancer treatments. Lüc begins to suspect that she's a con artist and questions if she's really Dutch, but just as he begins scheming to reveal this before his brother's marriage, the book ends in the middle of a

That always frustrated me, even if the ending suited the book so well. It's nice to see things come to an end and, well, if they can't, then they should go on.

I understand that the book ended that way because Lüc died or became too sick for him to continue writing, but I always wondered about the other characters in the book; the characters whose lives moved on after Lüc's ended. I'd written to the publisher about this, of course: whether or not The Duchess was a con artist, if Lüc's brother ever married her, what became of Lüc's horse (which his father hated), and so on. I never got a response.

AIA was the only book Thor Odinson had written and all that is publicly known is that he moved from the US to the Netherlands shortly after it was published. I liked to think that he had moved there to write the sequel with Lüc's brother and The Duchess getting married and moving to her (supposed) home country, but it had been 10 years since An Imperial Affliction came out, so that was looking unlikely.

As I re-read that night, I couldn't help but imagine Tony Stark reading the same words. I wondered if he'd the book or think it too pretentious.

Then I remembered Tony's note to me in the beginning of The Price of Dawn. I found his number and texted him.

Price of Dawn review: Too many bodies, not enough adjectives. How do you like AIA?

He replied a minute later.

As I recall, I told you to CALL once you've finished the book, not text.

So I called.

"Steven Grant," he said upon picking up.

"I thought you were more the texting type, Anthony."

"I am," he replied, "but I'll make an exception for you." I grinned at this, feeling somewhat like a teenage girl.

"So, have you read it?" I asked.

"There are six hundred and fifty-one pages and you've given me twenty-four hours, so, no, I'm not done."

"How far are you?"

"Four fifty-three."


"I withhold my judgment until further notice, Steven Grant. I will, however, saw that I'm really embarrassed to have given you The Price of Dawn now."

"Don't be, I already own both its sequels."

"Sparkling additions to the series, if I do say so myself," He sounded so smug, even over the phone.

"Is this duchess lady a crook because I am getting scary lady vibes from her."

"Spoilers," I said.

"If Lüc's brother went ahead and got all nice for her and she turns out to be some criminal, I am going to gouge her eyes out."

"So you're into the book?"

"Withholding judgement, Steven Grant! When are you free to meet with me again?"

"Not until you finish AIA," I enjoyed being coy far more than I should have."

"Well then, I better hang up and start reading then."

"You'd better," I said, and the line clicked dead without another word.

Flirting was new to me, but I liked it.

I woke up late, as per usual the next day and was planning to do nothing, when Bucky popped his head in my room.

"I'm heading out to watch the new Mission Impossible, wanna come?" he asked, his eyebrows raised and his grin reaching his eyes. Bucky was stupidly good-looking like that and I nodded in response as he helped detach my tubing from Phil.

We drove to the theatre in Sharon's car and spent the next hour and half or so watching Tom Cruise do physically tedious things. Watching him exhausted me.

As we stepped out of the theatre after the movie had ended, I realized I had four texts from Tony:

Tell me my copy is missing the last twenty pages.

Steven Grant, that is not the end of the book!


I guess Lüc died and it just ends like that, huh? CRUEL. Call me when you can.

When I got home, I called Tony. He picked up on the third ring. "Steven Grant?" he said.

"Welcome to the sweet torture that is An Imperial—" There was a violent sob on the other end of the line. "Are you okay?" I asked.

"I'm grand," Tony answered. "I am, however, with Clint, who seems to be decompensating." There was more wailing. Tony turned his attention to Clint. "Legolas, will Support Group Steve make this better or worse for you? Clint. Focus. On. Me." After a minute, Tony spoke, "Steve, can you meet us at my house in, say, twenty minutes?"

He called me Steve. This was serious. "Sure," I answered, hanging up and wondering if Bucky knew his way to Stark Tower.