additional-stories

Why "Hallelujah Money" is the Perfect Gorillaz Comeback Song

People have absolutely been missing the point of the new song.

Ignoring the musicality for a second (because it is quite clearly in style with the most recent Gorillaz albums), Hallelujah Money’s lyrics, video, and context are the most Gorillaz thing they could have possibly come back with. When we reflect on the past few albums, we seem to be wrapped up entirely in the lore of the band members. But the lore should not be taken out of political context! Their albums aren’t just meant to be absurdist. They’re not meant to be superficial additions to their story. They’re messages about what Damon and Jamie see as some of the most important political issues of the times, and en masse, fans completely ignore this. But Hallelujah Money isn’t leaving room for us to aestheticize the band. It is reminding us all EXACTLY what Gorillaz are about. They aren’t about their own lore; their purpose is to be interpreted. They were created as an attempt at social commentary at how shitty the bands were in the late 1990s. Demon Days was highly political, coming out against wars in the middle east. Plastic Beach was about how fucking awful pollution is. This next album isn’t going to fucking forget exactly who Gorillaz are. They are a catalyst for the cesspool of ignorance in the world, bringing it to us in an ironic package, with creators who know exactly what they’re fighting and how they’re going to do it.

tl;dr Gorillaz have always been a political band and if you ignore that of course you’re not going to fucking like the song.

One of my favorite moments in this adaptation is this exchange:

Belle: Why do you care about him so much?

Mrs. Potts: We’ve looked after him all his life.

Belle: He’s cursed you somehow. Why? You did nothing.

Mrs. Potts: You’re quite right there, dear. You see, when the master lost his mother, and his cruel father took that sweet, innocent lad and twisted him up to be just like him, we did nothing.

It always bothered me that the staff was cursed when they did nothing to deserve it, but in this version they were punished for a reason. They let him become the way he was when they could have stopped it. I thought this was a beautiful addition to the story.

New Fic Outtake?  Addition, maybe

Not quite sure what you’d call this, but when I finally post Geode to to AO3, it will have this scene added in there because the story seemed to demand it.  How could I do a story about Steve and Darcy visiting museums and not bring up the fact that there’s a museum exhibit dedicated solely to Captain America?

**********

While Darcy’s been to the Air and Space museum before (thank you, 8th grade class trip to Washington D.C. where one of her friends smuggled a naughty magazine onto the bus with them and they ended up breaking one of the beds in their hotel room because they were jumping from mattress to mattress and lied about it to the chaperones to stay out of trouble), she hasn’t experienced the Captain America exhibit yet.  But the curators had called up Steve to consult on a new addition to the exhibit - which apparently was just asking him to verify if the items they’d found were actually his or just someone trying to blow smoke up their asses - and they’d decided to make a little vacation out of it.  Some time that’s just for the two them, away from the familiar territory of New York and everyone who knows everything.

But the job comes first, of course, which leaves Darcy to wander idly through the fairly empty halls of the exhibit.  It’s never entirely empty, not given Steve’s popularity and the fact that the entire museum is a tourist’s highlight, but on this Wednesday morning, Darcy feels like she can slip between the other tourists without being noticed, blending into the background as just yet another person who’s there to partake in the spectacle.

Steve is notoriously quiet about his private life - much to the dismay of the paparazzi who went in expecting another Tony Stark and got someone entirely different.  Even so, word has gotten out to the gossip columns that he’d been seeing someone for quite a while now, though all they’ve been able to discover is that she’s female and brunette thanks to those few artsy photos of her shadowy profile Steve had put up on his Instagram page.  

It’s funny though, no one ever seems to pay attention to them in the New York City museums.  But that could be because it’s New York, Darcy thinks.  New Yorkers don’t get excited about anything (or at least they don’t let people see them get excited), and as soon as Steve slaps a baseball cap and a jacket on he’s just one more meathead in the crowd that they don’t notice.

But in Washington D.C. Darcy feels exposed.  Like there are eyes watching her from every direction, assessing her, determining her value and passing silent judgement that she’s not worthy of being Steve’s girlfriend.  And rationally, she knows that’s bullshit.  She’s entirely fucking worthy, and doesn’t even need to lift a hammer to prove it.  But the whispers through cupped hands behind her back have always gotten to her, long before she’d ever even known Steve.  Sometimes it’s hard to break through those years of old habits.  

“Whatever,” she mutters under her breath, wrapping her cardigan even more tightly.  “You are damn worthy.”

It’s hard to shake the feeling of creeping eyes on her, however, even if it’s probably only her head seeing things that aren’t there.  So Darcy hunts for a shadowy corner in order to take a few minutes to regain her equilibrium, and finds herself wandering into the room where the Peggy Carter interview is running on a continuous loop.  And boy, doesn’t that just make all the inadequacies come rushing back…  Still, Darcy plonks herself down on one of the benches; it’s dark and quiet in there, the perfect little escape from the outside world.

Peggy Carter is an entirely formidable woman, even when she looks like she’s on the verge of tears.  But then, it’s probably a natural response to have when one reminisces about the lost love of your life.  When did you know, Darcy thinks, that this person - this magnificent and imperfect wonder - was going to be the one to get under your skin like that?  That this person would be nothing less than the other half of your soul?  

Darcy has never been good with emotions.  She realized this long ago, and has accepted it as one of her deep flaws.  That it’s far easier to be brash and loud, to put the safe parts of her personality out there for everyone to see because the soul, that inner part of her that bruises and sometimes doesn’t want to cope with the world, is soft and squishy and gets hurt all too easily.  Why get hurt when you can get angry instead, has been the motto that’s gotten her over and through many rough times in her life.  But this approach to the world has sometimes made her a little out of touch with her own feelings, she admits (if only to herself).

How do you know when you’ve found that person, the one who you don’t mind cracking open your skin in front of so that they can see the whole package of your emotions and not just the safe outer shell?

(Darcy studiously avoids thinking about the fact that Steve could be that person for her, because emotions are tough and the deeper she looks the more in over her head she might find herself.  Romance is such a strange thing, in her experience.  But that doesn’t mean that it’s not good for her, that having that imperfect and wonderful compliment to her soul would make her more like the true self that she wants to be instead of that facade that the world sees.)

Ugh, she gets awfully maudlin once the caffeine wears off.  Darcy grimaces, and is incredibly grateful that the darkness of the film room keeps her hidden from the group of elderly ladies a couple of rows down from her commenting about how much they like Peggy’s suit outfit.  It’s better to focus on Peggy than on herself, anyway.  On the screen, Peggy makes a comment about how, even after his (supposed) death, Steve was always changing her life.  Ain’t that just the truth, Darcy thinks in full agreement.  

After a while Darcy needs to leave the movie room, because otherwise she might start crying at the intensity of Peggy’s emotions.  They’re not obvious, because Peggy is a consummate professional, but Darcy knows the type (she’s one herself, after all) - never let them see you sweat or see you cry.  So she wanders back out into the main exhibit, washing up in front of a display that outlines some of Peggy’s other accomplishments that weren’t related to her time with Captain America.  It’s only a matter of seconds, however, before she sees a shadow loom up next to her, followed quickly by soft footfalls that come to a stop next to hers.

When she looks up at Steve, it’s all too easy to see the strain on his face, even half hidden by the baseball cap he’s got shoved on his head.  His eyes are tight, mouth pulled into a slight frown.  His shoulders are hunched over, hands shoved into his pockets, and, at least for this moment in time, he looks a hell of a lot less intimidating than she’s ever seen him.  There’s no need to ask him how he feels when it’s written all over him, Darcy thinks.  So instead, she just waves a hand at the display in front of her and says, “She’s a hell of a woman.”

“That she is,” Steve replies, the frown dropping away from his lips for a moment and replaced by something far more soft and pensive.

“Come on.”  Darcy weaves her arm through his, tugging his body close to hers.  “Let’s get out of here and see some sunlight.”

It’s one of those days that moves slow like molasses, thick and lazy, traveling along without any actual aim and just spreading about instead.  It’s a good day, sunny and warm even though it’s late in November, and they stroll along the streets, wandering into bookshops and cafes and places that Darcy hopes won’t remind Steve of the past.  Anything to take that frowny look of his face, she thinks.  Eventually they head back to the hotel with the intention of getting ready for dinner…but the best of intentions are forgotten when Darcy all but pushes Steve back on the bed, and starts planting kisses down his torso, peeling back his sweater as he goes.  After that, room service is the only dinner option that either one of them has the energy for.

“I know what you’re doing,” Steve says afterwards as he stumbles out of bed towards where the room service menu is.

“What am I doing?”  Darcy sits up, dragging the sheets around her shoulders and attempting to bring some semblance of order to her sex-tossed hair.  It’s a futile effort, but she has to try anyway.

Steve arches an eyebrow at her and crawls back onto the bed, menu in hand.  “You know, you’re not as subtle as you think.”  He presses a swift, firm kiss to her mouth.  “It was a good day.  Thank you.”

Darcy smiles back at him, followed swiftly by the sound of her stomach grumbling.  “You’re very welcome.  Now feed me.”

“As you wish.”

The picture that gets posted to Steve’s Instagram later is a simple one, overlaid with a black and white filter that just emphasizes the shadows coming from the small lamp off in the distance of the shot.  The main feature of the photo, however, is the two hands tangled together, fingers intertwined, relaxed and resting on a pillow.  And while nothing else is visible aside from the extension of their forearms, the implication that there are two people on the other side of those hands, snuggled up and resting together, is a given.  The caption simply reads ‘a good ending to a good day.’

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“I didn’t think you’d show.”

Westley shrugs, his eyes lighting up at the sight of Madeleine’s beautiful, beaming face. “I thought I told you, Maddie. I’d like us to be friends.”

“Well good,” she grins and tucks her arm around Westley’s bicep. “Because as much as I hate to admit it, I’ve really missed you.”

He nods and takes a deep breath, desperately trying to quell the throbbing of his heart as it races through his chest. “So what is this place?” West asks in what he hopes sounds like a cool and collected tone of voice. “Some sort of carnival?”

Madeleine gasps and swivels around to face him. “How have you lived in Bridgeport this long and never been to the boardwalk?!”

“I didn’t know it was here?” he says, chuckling at the look of astonishment on her face. “What’s so great about it?”

Shaking her head, Madeleine grabs his hand and drags Westley forward. “So much to do!” she mutters. “So little time!”

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The Cuvvy ship!

Cupid belongs to @crowfry / @the-holiday-viruses

Vivvy belongs to me on my blog @the-nightly-castle

Art drawn by Me, Myself, and I. I hope you all enjoy my chibi style!

Snufkin

Snufkin is one of the most iconic and popular Moomin character. He first appears in the book Comet in Moominland (1946) and if one of the characters who appears in almost all media; comics, animations, additional stories… Snufkin is the child of Joxter and Mymble, which makes him a younger half-brother of both Mymble’s daughter and Little My. Some adaptations remove his relation to the Mymbles, such as comics and 1990s animated series.


Snufkin was created when Tove Jansson was in a relationship with Atos Wirtanen, a left-wing politician, journalist and cultural critic. Snufkin’s wide smile, pipe and hat are modeled after Atos. Snufkin’s independent and bohemian way of living is similar to both Atos and Tove but it’s also apparent that Tove’s little brother Lars was also a model for Snufkin. Lars has been said to have been the family member Tove was closest to right after their mother.


Snufkin values freedom above all else. Tove herself stated that “freedom is the most important thing”. She described Snufkin’s loneliness as “the good kind”. This is in contrast with Fillyjonk’s “wrong kind” of loneliness. Snufkin’s loneliness is something he chooses for himself. Snufkin does not attach himself to places, possessions or people. He can throw his tent away and is happy just looking at beautiful things rather than taking them with him. Snufkin values his own space where he can concentrate on his melodies. He can sometimes come off as unfriendly because he has a habit of being rather curt with people who invade his peace. For better or for worse, Snufkin is very charismatic and people flock to him to hear his wisdom.


The strongest attachment in Snufkin’s life is Moomintroll. No matter how hard Snufkin tries, Moomintroll and how he misses him will always come to his mind. And Moomintroll will always miss him and wait for him. This is clearly similar to the relationship between Tove and Atos. For Tove, Atos was the center of her world. She was entirely dedicated to their relationship, while Atos was preoccupied with his career and political ideals. Like Moomintroll, Tove was always waiting for Atos to spend time with her.


After Tove’s love for Atos cooled down, they remained good friends until the end. She was able to see his faults in a more critical light but also understood them with humor. Similar friendship after love can be seen between Snufkin and Moomintroll in later stories. It’s still good to remember that Tove Jansson’s style was to write characters and themes inspired by her life rather than actually insert them in her books. Snufkin and his relationship Moomintroll are more likely meant to reflect themes about admiration, dedication and waiting. With some small exceptions, characters in Moomin books are independent and more inspired than based on actual people. This is why Snufkin also is inspired by more than one person.


Snufkin’s character changes a bit as the books go on. This is most likely affected by the stories becoming more mature and Tove’s relationship with Atos changing. In the first books Snufkin is a passionate artist. He tells outlandish stories about himself and is actually happy to meet people. In later publications, this was among the things Tove Jansson fixed. She made Snufkin’s character more consistent and made him more quiet and distant to match his characterization in later books. He is the contrast to Moomintroll’s naivety and has a great effect on Moomintroll’s personal growth.


In Moominvalley In November (1970) Snufkin seems to let go of his aversion to the company of others. His character arc is about realizing that he was always free with the people who loved him because they actually let him do as he pleases. This realization leads him to return to the Moomin’s house even though it’s getting close to winter.

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So I got a haircut today but more importantly I can cosplay Shiro now (with some clip-in bangs) ✌✌

Dynamic Character Introductions: a case study

Your main character’s first introduction is one of the most important scenes in your story. In addition to establishing the setting and their role, their personality must be introduced to the audience quickly and subtly, so that it does not feel like exposition. In a visual medium, we do not always get the benefit of being able to read/hear their inner thoughts, so writers/artists have to come up with ways to convey the same information visually.

Here, we’re going to look at what makes a character introduction powerful, using Jack Sparrow’s first appearance in Pirates of the Caribbean as an example. The scene,which is only a little over a minute long can be seen here.

We first see Jack from behind, at a slightly low angle, giving him the impression of being powerful and mysterious. By lowering the horizon line, the audience is led to assume that he is standing high up, also adding to the idea of him as a powerful man.

The next shot continues this impression by forcing the audience to look up at him. We zoom into his intense expression as he grabs hold of one of the ropes and jumps down…

…only to reveal that his boat is tiny, and filling with water. This completely subverts the audience’s first impression of Jack. Disrupting audience expectations can also be done to make things more uncomfortable, but here it is used to establish him as a more comedic figure. We’re still only twenty seconds in at this point, and the audience has already gone through two different emotional reactions.

As we continue, Jack comes across a few pirates who have been hung, and he takes his hat off to salute them, telling the audience that he has an unconventional sense of morality, and sympathizes with criminals. He also sarcastically nods at a sign warning that pirates will receive the death penalty, telling us something else about his character.

Jack continues to stand on the mast while the little boat sinks, and stepping off of it once he reaches the boardwalk. His refusal to abandon ship shows an adherence to the idea that a captain should go down with his ship, but Jack does so in a way that allows him to save his own skin rather than sink. This lets the audience know that Jack is concerned with appearing like a good ship captain, but ultimately places his interests and self-preservation first.

Okay but was there even a point to FT 517

Relatable™ broadway lyrics
  • Hey guys, it’s me - the biggest disappointment you know (Breathe, In The Heights)

  • It sucks to be me (What Do You Do With a B.A. in English, Avenue Q)

  • I’m not wearing underwear today (I’m Not Wearing Underwear Today, Avenue Q)

  • I won’t grow up, I don’t wanna go to school (I Won’t Grow Up, Peter Pan)

  • Uhh, do whatever you want, I’m super dead (Cabinet Battle #2, Hamilton)

  • She’s always late for everything except for every meal (Maria, Sound of Music)

  • Tits and ass can change your life (Dance: Ten; Looks: Three, A Chorus Line)

  • God, I hate Shakespeare (God, I Hate Shakespeare, Something Rotten)

  • That’s why I’m a mess (Gee, Officer Krupke, West Side Story)

  • I feel pretty and witty and gay (I Feel Pretty, West Side Story)

  • It’s great to stay up late (Good Morning, Singing in the Rain)

  • I don’t blame my brain, but I do blame my penis. (My Unfortunate Erection, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee)

  • I’m not that smart (I’m Not That Smart, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee)

  • Daidle deedle daidle, Daidle daidle deedle daidle dumb. All day long I’d biddy-biddy-bum, If I were a wealthy man. (If I Were A Rich Man, Fiddler on the Roof)

  • I’m such a dork (The Club, In The Heights)

  • I really need this job, dear God I need this job, I hope I get this job (I Hope I Get It, A Chorus Line)

  • Hey, guess what? I’m gay! (If You Were Gay, Avenue Q)

  • If I only had a brain (We’re Off to See The Wizard, The Wizard of Oz)

  • Fours years of college and plenty of knowledge have earned me this useless degree. (What Do You Do With A B.A. in English, Avenue Q)

  • How’s life? Disappointing ( What Do You Do With A B.A. in English, Avenue Q)

  • So why don’t I have a boyfriend? Fuck, it sucks to be me. ( What Do You Do With A B.A. in English, Avenue Q)

  • Gimme a quarter -I don’t have any change Okay, so gimme a dollar (The Money Song, Avenue Q)

  • Gimme your money (The Money Song, Avenue Q)

  • There’s a moment you know you’re fucked, not an inch more to self-destruct (Totally Fucked, Spring Awakening)

feel free to add more, these are only the ones from musicals that are popular/ ones that i’ve seen, so there’s plenty more out there

Nesryn Faliq (who I think is seriously underrated and crazy amazing)

here is hoping we get more of her and chaol in book #6! 

(& If you haven’t seen the story about her and chaol which was happening while the ‘super squad’ had their time to shine in eos, have a search on tumblr for the WHSmith additional story in eos because some wonderful lovely people have put photos up for all of us who can’t read it ^.^ )

Ok but for real whoever designed Prince Peasley way back when at Nintendo headquarters deserved a freaking raise bc they could have so easily made it a Princess to flirt with Luigi or just a really macho Prince but instead they were like: 

‘Wait I have an idea; lets make him a Fabio-looking bean Prince that’s gay for Luigi and has hella fine hair’

and then a bunch of other people designing the game were just nodding in agreement while murmuring ‘a gay bean i agree’ and ‘yes gay Fabio bean will be a good addition to the story’

Beauty and the Beast was just magical.
Without spoiling anything, these are my thoughts:
I loved Emma Watson, it was obvious that she had a connection with her character.
Dan Stevens was breathtaking as the beast, just perfect. Evermore had me crying
The costumes and the colors and the additions to the story were so well done.
I loved LeFou, despite the imperfections of his overall character being named the fool, I couldn’t help but praise Josh Gad’s acting and the wonderful character development that happened (that dance at the end tho!!)
I loved Cogsworth and Lumiere and Plumette and puppy pouf!
The dancing was so beautiful! And Belle’s white dress at the end with the roses was perfection.
The whole movie was so symbolic and intricate and purposeful. I loved the backstory and I want more!
It felt like a proper happily ever after.
Well done, Disney

Jumin’s Birthday! 10/5/16

After playing Mystic Messenger and seeing how many people misunderstood, by my interpretation of Jumin’s route, the subtleties of Jumin’s character, I felt compelled to reevaluate his good route and perhaps grant others a new perspective on his story. The vast majority of the dialogue is from the video game, I just tried to give it a little more depth.

Since I just wrote a small fic detailing the seventh day of Jumin’s route and plan to continue it, I thought I’d share the first completed chapter with my fellow Jumin-lovers on his birthday as my contribution to such a talented fandom. Happy birthday Jumin, I hope you all enjoy! ( I just want precious cat husband to feel happy and fulfilled and understood >.< !)

Note: MC will be referred to as MC in this story in the third person instead of blanks or Y/N. In addition, this story contains minor spoilers for Jumin’s route.


Learning How to Love Chapter One, Day Seven: Beyond Reach

MC’s patience had run out. If nobody was willing to help him, or knew how to help him, she would.

“I’m sorry to ask this of you, MC, but please. You’re the only one he’ll listen to. You’re the only one who seems to understand him…”

“Don’t worry, Jaehee. Leave this to me. You finish your work and find some time to rest.” As much as she understood Jumin’s inability to function right now, that didn’t mean it was fair to leave Jaehee solely responsible for all of his work. They both needed her right now, and she had already finished most of the preparations for the party ahead of time. All that remained were future guest invitations and correspondence, something she was sure she could complete at Jumin’s apartment for the next day or two he might need her.

A sigh of relief followed. “Thank you, MC. The car will be heading to the downtown square, in front of the statue. Can you make it that far on your own?”

“Yeah, don’t worry. I’ll be fine, I’m more worried about Jumin.” She said as she stuffed her necessities into her purse, threw on a coat, and exited the apartment without a glance behind her.

There was a long pause before Jaehee’s voice returned. “I never thought anybody would care about Mr. Han the way you do, MC.” Her awe, more a product of mystification than appreciation, was palpable. “I’m glad.”

Jaehee paused again as MC exited the front door, her breathing already irregular as she stalked down the first block on the way to the square. “But please, be careful. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so distraught…”

Her uncharacteristic reiteration of what was obvious only deepened the crease forming between MC’s brows. “I will, Jaehee. Thank you for everything. Shoot me a text if you need me. I’ll try to keep everyone updated.”

“Alright, I trust you. Good luck.”

When the call ended, MC’s eyes landed on Jumin’s recent absence in the messenger, her pace increasing to something that could no longer be called a walk. There was no room for fear or unease on this outing into the enormous city, nothing but a single-minded need to know he was okay. After an eternity of nearly crashing into people in her haste, she spotted a uniformed man standing by the famous landmark.

“Ms. MC?” Asked the driver as he approached. The man had a kind, weathered look about him.

“Driver Kim? Jaehee asked me to come here.”

He nodded, as if that was all the confirmation he needed. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, miss. I’ll be taking you to the C&R headquarters this evening.” He opened the side door and ushered her inside, quick to take off and maneuver through afternoon traffic. When they finally reached the enormous building that showcased an equally looming logo, a thread of nerves traveled through her legs, making them tremble. She forced her spine to straighten as she walked through the revolving door, reminding herself that Jumin needed her to be strong right now.

To her immense relief, Jaehee was waiting at the entrance as soon as she walked inside.

“Ah MC, welcome.” Amber eyes took her in for a short moment with curiosity before she nodded and began stalking towards the elevator, her heels clicking against the waxed tiles with each step. “Come with me, I’ll take you to Mr. Han. I trust everything went smoothly?” Her shrewd eyes perused MC’s features flushed from the cold.

“Yup, not a single hitch.”

They chatted briefly on the way up and before she knew it, they were standing before a barricade of security guards. Transparent windows crowded in on all sides to reassure her that she was, indeed, hundreds of meters above ground. MC took a deep breath to steady herself.

“Ms. MC is here to see Mr. Han,” Jaehee told Jumin’s chief of security. “Please request permission for her entry.”

When the security guard returned stating that she had been granted clearance, Jaehee took her leave.

“I have to attend a meeting in Mr. Han’s stead, so I’ll have to let you go from here. You’re sure you’ll be okay?”

MC looked to the stoic security guard and then the door to Jumin’s suite before nodding. “I’ll be fine. Good luck with work, Jaehee.”

Her first step away faltered, turning back to look at MC before she sighed and nodded. She smoothed her hair back and adjusted her glasses before clacking out of sight.

MC took a deep breath, suddenly unable to believe this was really happening

“Miss?”

She followed the bulky security guard in silence before he opened the door to reveal the abode of, presumably from the pictures she’d seen, Jumin Han.

The room had a classic modern look, a bright shade of white coating the wall behind the figure at the door and an enormous flat screen TV covering a third of the expanse. The opposing wall to the left of him was a black open entry with floor to ceiling cerulean fish tanks. Brilliant colors wandered aimlessly in the synthetic ocean, like a painter unable to decide which shade looked best across their canvas. His home was charming, cool tones and masterful designs coming together seamlessly. Resolute, yet flexible where it was necessary. Strict and separate, yet regal and organized. A home like its owner, she thought with mild amusement before she found the courage to look directly at him. Or, more specifically, a striped chest.

She tilted her head up to find wide mercury eyes staring intently at her features as if to commit her to memory, as if she could disappear at any second. He was a skyscraper, six foot three to her average five feet and five inches, all long legs and lean waist accentuated by his striped attire until his shoulders tapered. Her shoulders folded inward as she took in his immaculate three-piece suit. The only dissonance to his strict collage of black, gray, and white the splash of violet poking out of his suit pocket. And, of course, the pale flesh of his throat peeking out of his collar. His cheekbones were sharp and angular, the line of his jaw and nose as aristocratic as his upbringing, merciless and unrelenting. After a long moment of taking each other in with equal fascination and surprise, he spoke.

“MC…?” He asked, the smooth sound of her name in his baritone, though slightly breathless, caused gooseflesh to raise on her limbs.

She couldn’t believe someone as average as her was meeting with a man that looked like that. He lived in an eternal penthouse for crying out loud, managed millions of dollars a day. Somehow it was more intimidating to speak to him in person than it was the messenger. There was nothing of the out of touch workaholic and deadpan jester in this tall, dark, handsome being. Only slight traces of the grateful and vulnerable little boy she had unearthed in the perusal of his character peeked through his unyielding awe, giving her some measure of relief and recognition.

“I didn’t know Assistant Kang would send you. God…” His voice was still punctuated by shock, nebulous mortification twisting his features. As if he was embarrassed that her first encounter with him would be while he was in such an unstable state. “Sorry I just stared into your eyes.”

She smiled as he grew bashful. His awkwardness was endearing, familiar. How could she doubt this was the man she had spoken to for a week now? “Jumin… I’m so glad to finally meet you.”

Though he seemed pleased with her response, it was clear he didn’t do well with surprises. “I never expected you to come to my house. I feel a bit nervous…to actually see you like this. I thought I’d get to meet you at the party.” He adjusted his cuff links and frowned as something occurred to him, a brow rising. “Wasn’t it dangerous on your way here? We still haven’t caught the hacker.”

“Jaehee made sure that I traveled safe.” She reassured him with a confident nod, unperturbed.

His skepticism was marginally put at ease. “Is that so? Then good.”

She fidgeted with a loose thread on her sleeve under the intensity of his gaze, eyes falling to the floor as his locked on her again for the third time that evening. It was as if he couldn’t get enough of drinking her in, and she wasn’t used to somebody being so acutely aware of her presence. For the vast majority of her life she had been near invisible, unremarkable in every sense of the word.

“Oh, sorry.” He tore away the storm clouds boring into her as soon as he caught himself doing it again. “I can’t help but keep staring at you. I still can’t quite believe it.” He murmured, distracted. “It would have been better if I went to pick you up.”

He suddenly shook his head as if to force away thoughts of her in potential danger, unable to handle the prospect at the moment.

“Anyways…” He refocused on her. “What did you come here for? Tell me if you need anything.” He encouraged, eager to help. But she shook her head, as sweet as he was. It was his turn to receive the assistance he needed.

“Jaehee said you seemed to be having a hard time and I should visit you.” MC began, before clarifying her intent. “I came because I got worried.”

“So…she asked that of you.” He shook his head with a measure of disapproval, clearly unhappy with Jaehee’s overt disregard for pragmatism and MC’s safety. “I didn’t realize she’d make such an outrageous request when the hacker’s still at large.”

And yet, as he spoke, some part of his rigid stance and tone yielded. Almost as if he didn’t have the strength to be upset with the aftermath of Jaehee’s decision. “…But I’m quite happy that you are worried for me. Regardless, I’m glad you’re here safe. Welcome to my home, MC. You seem to have come a long way, so I hope you rest up.” He gestured for her to step inside as he closed the door behind her, hanging up her scarf and placing her purse on the coffee table.

She took in her surroundings as she removed her coat, deft fingers removing it from her grip to place it on the coat hanger beside the door. “Your house…is quite amazing.”

He was pleasantly surprised. “You like it? It was my father’s building, but I bought it from him last year.” He shrugged, but there was a lingering dejection to the way he mentioned his father.  “My private garden is near this building. I wanted to go see the roses there every weekend, so I moved. Whenever I brought one back, Elizabeth the Third seemed very interested…” He trailed off, distracted by the memory until a small meow was heard from afar at the sound of her name.

He looked up in the cat’s direction, refocusing as soon as he heard her. “Oh. Late introductions. This is Elizabeth. I put her in a cage for now.” Another plaintive meow, louder this time, sounded through the space as he gazed in the cat’s direction.

MC followed his gaze to spot the regal cat in a large wire cage, sitting up at attention with her tail curled around her as they watched. There was an inquisitive as well as melancholy nature to the way she stared back. As if to say, I don’t know why you’re doing this but it makes me sad, why won’t you let me curl up on the couch with you like we usually do?

It didn’t take much to figure out why Jumin had put her in there, considering what his father had done to him. He was afraid to lose somebody close to him again. And judging by the slimy tactics Sarah and Glam Choi had been utilizing to force him into marriage, it was clear that he also felt he had put Elizabeth the Third at risk.

His father was already lost to Glam’s charms. She wasn’t sure he’d be able to handle the loss of both of the individuals he felt most comfortable with, even if one of them was a cat. The cage was the quickest way he could think to regain control, the only way he knew how to protect Elizabeth and deter her potential catnappers while he was at work. It was sort of sweet, if not a little dense. He didn’t want to think about the fact that if somebody was determined enough to take her, no defense in the world would be able to deter them forever. As a man who relied on structure throughout the course of his life and his ability to control everything around him, she knew his mental state had to be fragile right now. So she did her best to put his mind at ease and demonstrate her understanding.

She walked over to the cage, squatted close to the adorable creature and smiled. “Hello. You look even more pretty inside that cage.” She complimented as Elizabeth took her in cautiously.

“…Really? I think so too. It must be an animal’s instinct to restrain those you want most.”

MC felt tears gather as she kept her eyes on the poor cat, blinking them back. Not quite, Jumin. It’s a broken man’s instinct to tether that which he loves closest to him when he believes he isn’t enough to keep them there or protect them.

“Oh, come to think of it, did you have dinner yet?” He queried, ever the gentleman. “Please feel at home. I can order anything you want.”

There was a pause as he hesitated to continue after the silence that followed, as if he was waiting for the disgusted rebuff he had received from everyone else to surface. When she made no such move, instead cooing playfully at the cat, he continued.

“If it’s okay, I’d like for you to stay here today…Just tell me what you want. I can provide you anything…” He reassured, unable to understand that she was happy to be here of her own volition without the need for personal gain. She wanted to meet him and further understand him, she wanted to help him feel better. She didn’t care about big televisions or fancy meals or extravagant clothing. As long as he wanted her here, she’d stay.

She looked up with a nod, encouraging him to continue. “I never expected you to come, but now that you’re here, I’d hate for you to leave.” His tiny, pleased smiles and longing glances were endearing.

It was nice to have real company for the first time in an entire week, somebody to talk to and share the day with even though she texted the other RFA members all day. And not only was his home much more suited to her subtle tastes than Rika’s multi-colored, bizarre den of femininity, she felt much safer in a known location with detailed security. Every day at Rinka’s apartment had been a gamble, wondering when it would be that the hacker would return for her where nobody could find her.

“Did you have dinner?” She asked, feeling bold now that she knew he enjoyed having her here as much as she liked visiting. She was used to the other members worrying about her eating habits. And as much as Jumin reassured her that he maintained a healthy diet, she had a feeling that might have changed with his recent emotional stress.

“Oh, I didn’t have much of an appetite when I returned from the office. I’m fi–”

“Let’s eat together, then!” She invited before he could evade his equal need to eat, standing up from the cage and heading over to where he stood, blinking reflexively at her sudden enthusiasm.

Unable to deny the oceanic depth of her eyes, sparkling at him with genuine excitement, he paused. “All right… I’ll call the chef.” He conceded, before leaving the room to retrieve the phone he had left untouched for most of the day.

While he was gone MC texted Jaehee and Seven that she had arrived safely and was staying with Jumin for the night, further indicating that he seemed to be in better spirits since she arrived. The fact that Jaehee and Seven had found articles of Sarah announcing their one-sided engagement was concerning though. She decided to remain quiet about it for now to keep Jumin from doing anything drastic again, unwilling to reverse the progress they had made in just a few short hours. Even if she was furious with the woman’s complete disregard for Jumin’s feelings. He needed a few hours of sanity, and discussing a power-hungry gold-digger intent on taking over his life and destroying his relationship with his father wasn’t the best way to go about it. Something told her he had had enough of those people in his life, what with his nonexistent social life and his father’s recursive relationships. He needed a reprieve if he was ever going to be able to function and process his emotions in a healthy way.

When he returned to ask her what they should have for dinner as they waited, she let him choose knowing that he probably had a better idea of what the chef was expecting. To which he protested, asking her what she usually ate so he could order something that was a pleasant combination of things she’d like. After amiable introductions and Jumin’s explanations to the young woman, their meal was conjured with the utmost finesse and timely preparation, flavors balanced to perfection as the chef exited with a hearty farewell. She made a note to thank the her once again the next time she came over and ask her for a few tips regarding things she could never get right or wondered about. Perhaps she could ask for a couple of tasteful recipes she could make herself if she was so inclined.

As Jumin exited the living room to take a shower, MC grew cozy on the coach with a soft black throw blanket and started replying to a few guest emails she had received in the last few hours. Not long after, Zen crashed into the chatroom with the knowledge that she was at Jumin’s house. She shook her head as he projected the general male tendency towards promiscuousness when they were alone with a woman in the house, or perhaps what was his own penchant for naughty thoughts, onto Jumin. She simply responded with the truth, knowing intuitively that Jumin wasn’t one to take advantage of a person that way. He may have trouble being empathetic, but he wasn’t one to ignore a person’s basic human rights or be maliciously inconsiderate. There was a reason he was so upset with his father’s blatant and foolish disregard for his own son’s feelings. He would never do to someone else what had been done to him.

Mere minutes after Zen started throwing accusations, Jumin joined the chat as well. She greeted him as cheerily as ever, despite the fact that he was mere feet away in the bedroom. She heard the shifting of clothing and muted footsteps as he expressed his slight displeasure to find her speaking to Zen. Regardless, she was happy to see him reaching out and bickering good-naturedly with the rising actor. Perhaps it was a sign that he was slowly coming back to himself.

As Zen insisted on a picture of the two of them, she flushed when Jumin said he didn’t want anybody else to look at her, unsure why a little thrill accompanied his possessiveness, like a quicksilver shot of adrenaline coursing through her veins. She grinned at the screen as he continued to mock Zen good-naturedly, looking up towards the hallway with surprise when he relayed her reaction in the chat. He looked up from his phone back at her as well, a small smile curving the usual flat line of his lips, an unprecedented radiance in his expression before he moved to the kitchen. She heard the fridge door open before he replied to Zen, filled with warmth when he said he felt more at peace now that she was here with him. As always, he thanked her upfront in his direct and honest way, ignoring Zen as he decided words were insufficient to express his gratitude this time. She melted when he offered to make her strawberry pancakes for breakfast tomorrow despite futile reassurances that she was more than capable of cooking herself, insisting that all he wanted was her beside him. He knew how to make pancakes? What else could he make, even though he had a professional chef on standby? She was liking him more and more with every second, this splendidly odd duck.

Even as an emotional, anxious wreck he was still focused on her happiness and well-being above all else, thanking her for doing something as simple as staying by his side and cheering him up. He was so amiable and altruistic when given the chance, all he had needed was the indication that somebody understood him, that somebody cared for him in return. There was so much to like about him despite his faults, most of which could be diminished by attentive care and gentle guidance in the right direction. She couldn’t believe they all thoughtlessly called him a robot. A person who had been ruthlessly exploited or abandoned by the only people with whom he had been able to share mutual love. A person whose friends, no matter how quickly he came to their aid, considered him too cold and too privileged to be human. Who invalidated his struggles and the way he worked himself ragged simply because he was born into a world of wealth, one that had done him so much more harm than good.

In that time Jumin had exited the kitchen and returned to his room for a moment to retrieve something. MC laughed out loud as Zen suddenly reached his limit and began bellowing at the sight of Jumin being so tender and affectionate, demanding that Seven find out who hacked into Jumin’s brain. Despite her reluctance to turn to more serious matters, she knew Jaehee wouldn’t be able to handle both of their work forever, and it was unfair to demand that of her. She asked Jumin, with the utmost patience, if he was able to go to work the following day now that he was feeling better. He claimed he was unable to leave until he could ensure Elizabeth the Third’s safety, and she took that to mean that he didn’t feel quite well enough yet. She remember days in her life when she couldn’t productively attend work or school until she had indulged in some peace and quiet to organize her own mind. Despite Zen’s protests, she felt it was fair if Jumin truly felt he couldn’t handle so many stimuli under lingering duress, especially since he took a positive step forward and openly praised Jaehee’s decision to send MC to his home.

MC supported Jumin’s explanation that he needed more time, agreeing that both Glam Choi and Sarah remained considerable threats. It wouldn’t take much for them to try to blackmail Jumin by stealing Elizabeth under his nose, manipulating the security guards with his father’s clearance. However she did take the time to address his flippant regard for Jaehee’s consistency and loyalty, asking that he be more considerate of her sacrifices. Despite Zen’s unintentional distraction as a result of mentioning Jumin’s lackluster attempts to suggest potential party guests, she knew he had read her reply carefully and filed it away for further reflection and consideration. As soon as she agreed to contact the owner of a cat hotel chain that Jumin knew, she yawned and rubbed her aching eyes, shocked to see how late it was at the corner of her phone screen. She looked up again at the sound of his footsteps growing louder, yawning again as her body demanded sleep after their whirlwind of a day. Yet all her fatigue left her when she read what he disclosed in the chat next, stating that he needed to ‘put her to bed’ as her eyes flew wide open. As she moved to rise from what she had assumed to be a couch, she realized she had been sitting against the headboard of a bed, invisible to her as she fretted about his health all day long.

He stepped into the kitchen before she could ask him what he meant, assuring Zen that she trusted him not to do anything rash. She was sure he only meant to prepare the proper accommodations for a restful evening, nothing as strange as Zen was predicting. After promising to call the rising actor should anything go awry, she let the screen go dark and relaxed against the plush couch, closing her eyes as drowsiness pulled at the edges of her focus. A few minutes later, Jumin exited the kitchen with a steaming mug of tea, placing it before her on the coffee table with deliberate movements. He pulled up a chair by the bed as she opened her eyes and smiled at him, wrapping her hands around the mug and relishing in the sudden warmth that flooded her fingers. Her circulation was terrible in the winter, her extremities always freezing no matter how many layers she wore.

“How kind of you Jumin, thank you.” She took a sip and closed her eyes in bliss. “How did you know I love raspberry tea, with plenty of honey no less!”

The faintest of blushes ostensibly colored his cheeks, his eyes focused on the fish tank to her left. “It was merely an educated guess. You mentioned your love of sweet things a few times in the chats.”

Her features softened before she could stop herself, her hand reaching out to touch his interlocked ones extended in front of him. “Thank you.”

He looked down at her hand on his, thunderstruck, before he nodded as if he was incapable of forming words until she pulled away.

“…”

She feared she had made him uncomfortable and sipped her tea silently, shifting her eyes to his still form to gauge his status. Though upon closer inspection he didn’t appear upset or unsettled so much as pensive, his brows furrowing as time passed. She suppressed her intrigue with the flesh revealed by his simple white dress shirt, indulging in the fascinating lines and contours of his collarbone with shy eyes for a few seconds before refocusing her attention. Curious and a tad concerned he would lose himself to his tumultuous thoughts, she tentatively addressed him.

“Jumin,” Stunning silver eyes pierced hers in an instant, though it was clear she had jarred his train of thought. “What are you thinking about?”

He was silent again for a second before he replied, fighting with the impact of whatever memory had resurfaced. “Oh…It’s nothing. Just…old memories. Aren’t you sleepy?” He changed the subject, demonstrating the seamless evasiveness he had developed over the years. “If you are you can sleep on the bed. I’ll turn off the lights.”

“Where will you sleep?”

“I’ll be fine. I don’t think I’ll sleep. I have some things to think about…” He paused as her disquiet must have been visible as soon as he said that. “But nothing for you to worry. Just rest up on my bed.”

Then he plunged the room into darkness before she could dissuade him further. As much as she tried to sleep, it felt impossible knowing that he wouldn’t try to get any rest himself. She wondered what could be so mentally consuming that he didn’t want close his eyes at night. Her heart squeezed in her chest as she considered a possible explanation. Had he had a nightmare last night? Is that why he looked so tired when she arrived, purple shadows outlining his eyes as he lost focus from time to time?

“If you feel uncomfortable with the change in scenery…do you mind if I read for you?” He asked, as if hoping something that comforted him might comfort her since they both struggled to sleep.

She liked the thought of hearing his mellifluous voice a little while longer, that perhaps they could both be lulled to sleep by the other’s attentiveness to their care.“Please do. I’ll feel more comfortable if I hear your voice.”

“I’m glad you want to hear it.” There was a smile in his voice. “Will you wait a sec?” She heard him pad over to the nearby lamp and watched as mild, golden light filled the small space. He then disappeared into the hallway before he returned to his chair with a maroon book in exquisite condition propped open in his hands, as if it were new. When he began, his voice was low and steady, a euphony of male sound that wound its way around her heart as he smiled.

“I always sit on the wooden shelf and stare at the same scenery. I’ve always stayed still, not moving a single finger. I don’t know how long it’s been. I stayed still, glancing at people occasionally passing by and looking for something to catch their eye on the shelf. And I remember that one single moment, when someone held me up. It was an old man with deep wrinkles. I knew this would happen one day. Everyone at that store would have thought the same. We are all destined to be held up by hands we’ve never seen and be theirs.”

As he paused to turn the page, she couldn’t help but ask. “What is this book about?” It reminded her of a story she read when she was a young girl, Corduroy. And she couldn’t help but think the narrator showcased uncanny similarities with the owner of the book.

“Oh…Are you curious?” And just like that the magic of his delight dimmed, making her regret her sudden interruption. “I haven’t finished it yet, so I can’t tell you everything. This book…” He closed the cover and stared at it, smoothing a thumb along the cover’s design absently. “I know it’s funny…but it’s one of the books that I don’t ever want to finish.” She definitely knew the bittersweet feeling. “I was supposed to finish this book and tell the story to a friend…but that friend is no longer in this world.”

“Friend?” MC had a feeling she knew where this was going.

He hesitated, before he figured he had already begun, so he might as well explain. He wondered at the ease with which he revealed parts of himself he had never unearthed before others, never felt comfortable discussing with a single other soul.“…I’m talking about Rika. I never took this book out ever since she passed away. But the moment I decided to read to you, I thought of this book. Since you are like Rika.” MC couldn’t help her slight disdain for being compared to the woman, and it must have been evident because he amended the remark. “Oh, I don’t mean that you look like her, or even resemble her. It’s just that…I feel just as curious about you as I was with her.” He shook his head slowly in wonder, as if he believed he would never feel that way about anyone ever again. “Amazing that I feel this way.”

“You want to know more about me?” She was flattered. She wasn’t all that interesting, just a normal college student caught in a very abnormal situation.

“Yes, I do.” His tone was resolute, ashen eyes boring directly into hers with conviction. “I didn’t realize when we were talking on the messenger. But now that you’re right beside me, I want to know you.”

“You know…Ever since I was young, I could get anything I wanted…Curiosity was just like a whim that visited me temporarily and sporadically.” There was no haughtiness in his explanation, it was delivered as a mere statement of fact. “But it was different when V and Rika were here. Every time I met them they knew something new, something I didn’t know.” He spoke with a muted yearning, a desire to regain what he had irrevocably lost as a result of Rika’s death. A reprieve he so desperately wanted from the people around him that gave him no impetus to wonder and grow.

“That made me… quite anxious.” There was a deliberate pause, his eyes landing on her with the same unyielding intensity he exuded when she arrived. “I still feel that anxiety to this day. Amazing.” Wonder encompassed his voice again, taking her in restlessly as if she were some sort of ephemeral miracle. “You made me turn all my focus on you…Thanks to that, I’ll be able to stop thinking about all those troubles.” He put the book and the now empty mug down on the coffee table, muted elation clear on his face for a split second when he saw that she had enjoyed the tea.

“Thank you so much for coming. I feel so good that you’re here.” He confessed again, as if the words would never be sufficient to communicate the depth of his mollification. “I…never want to let you go. One day, when I finish reading this book to you…I feel as if all my threads will untangle.”  He looked to her as if she was the key to unlocking what he couldn’t understand or approach about himself.

When he noticed her confused expression regarding his strange terminology, he resolved to explain it to her some other time. He had been selfish enough for the night. After everything she’d done, the least he could do was let her rest. “Oh. You won’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll explain later…It seems I’ve just kept you up. Go to sleep now, young lady.”

He shut off the lamp and left for the room at the end of the hall, resolved to respect her privacy and much needed sleep. As she attempted to sleep, she was distracted by her blinking phone. She opened the messenger app to encounter a hilarious miscommunication between Yoosung and Seven. After a few brief replies as she struggled to stay awake, she left the chat room as soon as they reconciled the problem and closed her aching eyes. It wasn’t long before the soft sounds of Jumin’s peripheral movements became a lullaby, easing her into slumber now that she was warm and cozy on the plush mattress. She slept more deeply and peacefully than she had for a single day that entire week, in the safety of Jumin’s company and elaborate security.


Tagged: @protectjuminhan

8

GLEE AU: Sebastian had a tragic stage accident while he was performing as a professional dancer for the first time. His NYADA nemesis and roommate is a more heartbroken than he wishes he’d be.