Been having a rough week so I redid my animal crossing au! <3 Welcome to Cable’s ACNL Town! I had a lot of fun with this, and I’m excited to do more soon! ; v ; /) More info and my acnl sona under the cut!
i mean, he literally said not to expect anything, and said that he’d switched videos in the middle of making them, so really, can people not jump on his balls about it. it’s pretty obvious hes been having a rough week, let him do something he finds relaxing and have fun with it
My friend recently had her first kiss. When she called to tell me the news she said she hadn’t realized there could be “so many worlds to explore in a single mouth”. She also said it in many ways reminded her of “eating something slimy.” I smiled for a long time about that one. A few days ago I was telling this same friend about something Frida Kahlo said before she died. She said, “I hope the leaving is joyful, and I hope never to return.” My friend asked me, “Do you think you want to return?” As soon as she asked the question I started crying. I thought about every year of my life, every hard fist of a moment, and it broke my heart to think I might not choose to come back. For whatever reason, the days, they do not slow river into me. They never have, and lately the moments have been especially rough. Last week I said to a friend (not the kissing friend), “I wish I could take naps… life would be a whole lot easier if there were less of it.” We both laughed. Laughing is medicine. I have a personality I developed whose only job is to laugh at the personality in me that’s depressed as hell. I have another personality that screams at them both, another that does nothing but bounce on a mini trampoline, and yet another that tries to make sense of it all via poems about the moon. It is this final personality that in the end, thank god, always seems to win. This personality says “Yes. Yes. I think I do want to return. Mostly for the kissing, for the slimy kissing, for the many worlded kissing, the only time I know for absolute certain I am not praying alone. “
You suppress a groan as shift, his arm wrapping around your middle, fingers curving around your side and holding you in place. A strong leg is slung over your hips, pulling you just a little bit closer. His face is buried in your hair. You struggle for a few moments, attempting to turn slightly so you could face him, without waking him up.
After several long minutes you succeed. wiggling underneath his weight until your nose brushes against his. A hand crawls up, fingers brushing back the inky black hair that lingers before his eyes. Your index finger brushes against the bags under his eyes. Violet hues lingering above thin green veins.
He must have had a day.
Or night really, maybe a few nights, even an entire week isn’t out of the question. You can’t blame him. From the news, a lot of people in Gotham have been having a rough week due to Joker’s antics. You suppose that goes double, on account of being both Bruce Wayne and the Batman. When he’s not getting torn up by the public for being privileged and irresponsible, he’s getting ripped apart as the batman by Gotham’s criminals.
Even the Batman deserves some affection.
You nuzzle your face into his neck, throwing an arm over his chest. You pepper kisses all along his jaw, lips sinking to his neck. Your heart swells, and you feel like no matter how tight you hold him, or how much you kiss him, you’d never be able to convey your adoration for him.
His eyes crack open, eyes stinging from lack of sleep. But that’s nothing new really, he’s done more with less. He feels the rather pleasant sensation all along his left shoulder. A corner of his mouth quirks up, teeth gleaming behind his slim red upper lip.
He moves to shift his leg off of you, and the kisses stop almost immediately.
“It’s fine Bruce, go back to sleep.” Your voice is hushed, your face pressed into his neck, arms curling around him a bit tighter.
“I’m bigger then you, I’m sure-”
“I like it like this Bruce.” You interject quickly, backing away slightly to glance up into his eyes. His fishy blue eyes lack a certain vitality, but they still sparkle as they take you in. A soft smile curling onto his lips.
Percy’s got a pro hair stylist to do his hair for date night this week.
He will be the best big brother.
I’m dedicating this to all the people who have been having a rough time recently. I hope it makes your week a little better or at least makes you giggle. I want to put a big shout out to @percyyoulittleshit because she really made me smile the other day and I want to try and return the smile :) and to @solbabydraws because her percabeth art and kid sister art gives me life. You guys inspire me so much 💙
Keep being awesome and stay safe everyone.
Thank you for 100 follows! Needless to say, I miss these two real bad and I have for around six years. DC writers are pretty sadistic ya know that? Then again, I guess I might be too.
Because who has time or money to read almost 30 years of relationship development…
Under the cut: Look Over Your Shoulder, a monologue recap Fanfic: Fluff/Humor/Angst. DC Rebirth. Wally’s POV. Warning: Mention of the grief typically associated with Alzheimer’s. Also I cried while writing this. Story set to this song.
Summary: The signing of the Accords does not go as planned
Authors Note: Sorry for the delay, I’ve been swamped with grad school applications and then ended up in the hospital for a few days, Overall I’ve just been having a rough go the last few weeks. Hope you all enjoy. Tagging is open, they’ve just been moved to the bottom, just ask if you want to be tagged :D
“Do I detect some flirting… is the great Black Widow smitten with a Prince?” You twitter sardonically as Natasha guides you away from the Prince of Wakanda, now engaged in a private conversation with his father, the King.
“Will you stop it?” She rolls her eyes as she shoves you forward towards your seat, rolling her eyes as you laugh at her annoyance, “I honestly don’t know what’s with you lately.” You cock an eyebrow at her, confused at her observation, “What do you mean?” you question, wishing for her to elaborate.
“You’re kidding right?” her eyebrows raise at you, believing the answer was obvious, “Talking about flirting? Caring about my relationship status? This isn’t you. The sarcasm and teasing yes, but the incessant smiling and interest in my personal life… I mean come on.” She looks you up and down feigning as if she doesn’t recognize you.
You laugh at her absurdity, wondering how your friend had drawn such conclusions about you, “Oh shove off Nat. I’ve asked you about your personal life before, I’ve cared. You’re overacting… you’re just embarrassed that I caught you flirting.”
“You’re never around anymore, and when you are you’re cryptic and distant. Not to mention how absent minded you have become, always drifting off into your own head, you’re unfocused.”
“I’m not…” you start but Natasha interrupts you, continuing in her explanation, “And don’t even get me started with you and Steve. I’ve known both of you for a while, watched you be on and off for the past few months, and I have never once heard you fight like you did today.”
Her words hit a nerve, wiping the smile from your face as you consider her observations. Had you really changed that much? Had Bucky’s presence in your life had that wide of a scope of impact? You admit that your behavior towards Steve had changed, but that was more because you could no longer give him what he wanted.
Your stomach tenses, realizing fully the effect that Bucky has had on you. Your thoughts were constantly with him, drifting to him at every available moment. She was right… you weren’t present anymore, the bonds that had previously tied you to your work, to the avengers, had been severed. The focus of your life had shifted without you even being aware.
Oh my god. I’m in love with him. I love Bucky. You stood there with a blank stare glossing across your face. You had never fallen in love with anyone. Sure you had affectionate feelings before, you would go so far as to say you were invested in some, but never like this. Never before had there been this all-consuming feeling, like a magnet pulling you to his presence.
“Y/N? Hello! See this is what I’m talking about, you always drift off nowadays. Y/N? Are you even listening to me?” Natasha grips your arm roughly, pulling your attention to her as she shakes you from your realization, your face quickly correcting as you try to hide your thoughts.
“You’re being overdramatic,” you roll your eyes as you pull your arm from her grasp, noticing as King T’Chaka moves towards the podium, his son taking position beside him, a few feet away. “The conference is about to start, we should sit.” You speak quickly, hoping to distract her as you move towards the row of chairs.
The two of you settle into your chairs as King T’Chaka begins his speech. Natasha shifting ever so slightly in her chair as Prince T’Challa takes his place stoically by the window, observing the conference as his father speaks of peace, defensively monitoring the situation at large. You notice the tension in his stance, his nervousness as he peers around at the crowd of diplomats.
You feel the hairs on the back of your neck stand as something outside draws T’Challa’s attention, causing his head to whip around towards the street. In a moment he is moving across towards his father. You react instinctually, predicting an attack as you hear him yell, “Everybody get down.” In a moment you are vaulting over the table in front of you, hopping over obstacles on your path to protect the King, racing T’Challa to his father.
Then, in an instant, you feel your body blown backwards, heat pressing against you as glass and debris are thrown alongside your airborne body. With a hard smack you feel your back connect with a cement pillar, causing you to crumple to the ground as more debris falls on top of you.
You lay there, gasping for air, trying desperately to regain some orientation as you fight to steady the breath that got knocked from you. Your ears ring as they try to process the sound around you. You feel as if you are under water, the terrified screams sounding muffled and distant as the frightened people scamper around the demolished room.
Your vision blurs as your head swims constantly, you shake your head trying to clear your senses, but lose the fight as your eyes fall closed, your body relaxing into the ruble.
“Y/N! Y/N!” You feel a firm hand on your shoulder as someone touches your cheek, pushing the hair out of your face. Your eyes open as the sound of screams return to your ears. “Thank god!” Natasha breathes a sigh of relief as she helps you sit up, you wince slightly as you clutch at your shoulder, a large piece of glass imbedded in your skin.
Natasha’s hand moves quickly to the wound assessing the damage “I think it’s just superficial, doesn’t feel that deep.” You hiss as you move yourself to a kneeling position, feeling your body ache beneath you as bruises begin to form. “You’ll need stitches none the less,” Natasha scolds, trying to keep you from rising to your feet, “Just stay still will you! Can I get a medic?” She shouts searching the room for help.
“Nat, I’m fine, there are plenty more people that need help. Just help me get up.” She bites her lip as she debates whether or not you should move but as she takes in the carnage of the surrounding scene she realizes that you were not the biggest priority. “Fine…” She caves, “Let’s get you out of here.”
With Natasha’s help, you are able to make short work of it, stopping only once to breathe through a dizzy spell, your legs finding their strength with every step as she guides you out of the building and towards an ambulance.
“What were you thinking running forward like that, you could have been killed!” She scolds as you wait for medical attention. Though Nat was still pretty young she was a fair bit older than you, often causing her to go into worried mom mode whenever you were particularly reckless. Between her and Steve it was a marvel that you were even allowed to hold knives, let alone fight with them.
“I saw T’Challa notice something outside, I thought it was a sniper. I thought I could get to the King in time…. The King… Natasha?” She shakes her head sadly, confirming your fear. “And T’Challa?” You ask earnestly, worried for the fate of the young Prince. “He’s alright, a little beat up and heartbroken but… He’ll make it.”
The medic arrives, interrupting your conversation with Natasha, you nod and allow them to tear your shirt exposing the bloody skin and shard of glass entrenched in your shoulder. “I’m going to check on T’Challa, get some information, maybe find you another shirt. I’ll be back to check on you in a bit alright, just stay put.” Natasha squeezes your hand affectionately as you nod, agreeing to her terms.
It takes about 20 minutes for the medic to remove the shard and insert a few stitches, but pretty quickly you are patched up and drinking water, watching as Natasha sits across the way, next to a distant looking T’Challa.
His grief was evident in the Prince’s stance as he looks at his ring, allowing Natasha’s words to wash over him before decisively standing and walking purposefully away from her.
In a moment she is walking back towards you, a long sleeve black shirt in hand. She throws it to you, looking over the bruises forming along your torso as you slip your arms through it, cautiously moving your newly repaired left shoulder. “Any info?” You ask curiously, pulling the shirt over your head and settling it down on your torso.
“Yes, they’ve released a video of the suspect. It’s The Winter Soldier.” You hear Natasha’s words as if from a distance, your stomach knotting at the sound of the alias. Bucky? But… it couldn’t be. He wouldn’t. He couldn’t. “No… it has to be someone else.” You speak quickly not fully comprehending your own words.
Natasha raises an eyebrow at you, confused by your assertion, not expecting this reaction, “What? It’s Barnes. They’re sure of it, they have him on video by the van, about 30 hours ago. The team is just waiting for a reliable tip on his location.”
30 hours… I was with him then… It wasn’t him… He knew I was here… He wouldn’t. He would never hurt me. “Natasha, you have to listen to me, it wasn’t him. They’ve identified the wrong man. I don’t know how and I don’t know why, but it’s a distraction. Bucky didn’t do this.”
“Y/N…” She speaks slowly, her brow furrowing in confusion as she processes your words. “What are you talking about? Do you… do you know something?” She leans forward, staring at you intensely as your brain whirs trying to form a response or find an escape. Natasha’s phone begins to ring, distracting her for a moment as she answers quickly.
“Yeah?” She responds roughly, her eyes remaining locked on you. “Are you alright?” Steve asks on the other end of the call, “Ah, yeah, thanks. I got lucky.” She responds slowly, “Y/N? Is she… Is she ok?” he questions, “She’s fine Steve, a little bit bruised, but she’ll live.” She turns her back to you, looking questioningly through the street as a siren fills the air.
“I know how much Barnes means to you, I really do. Stay at home, you’ll only make this worse for all of us. Please.” You hear Natasha caution Steve, thinking quickly. Of course Steve would try to protect Bucky, but he was running out of time.Luckily you knew something no one else did; where he lived, you just had to get to him.
You move slowly, cautiously watching Natasha as she continues to glance through the street only feet from you. Silently you sneak around the ambulance and disappear into the crowd, breaking into a run as you establish some distance, heading back to the jet for supplies and a ride. You feel your feet quicken beneath you as your adrenaline clears your head. You have to move quickly, Bucky was running out of time.
Request: May I request something? I reaaally want a jealous Newt x reader. And fluff. And maybe it’s set during Christmas time? I’ve been having a rough week and i want something to cheer me up because I can’t even get excited for Christmas 😥 Thanks xx
((I really hope you enjoy this!))
You and Newt were going out on Christmas Eve. Not as a couple, but more as a friend wanting to show the other an amazing bar she found. So you led him down the street, quickly walking down an abandoned alley, and then into a pristine bar than some of the other ones in the town. You even made sure it was a wizard bar, knowing he’d be far more comfortable there.
“So Newt, how do you like it here?” You questioned, admiring all the Christmas lights decorating the bar and ceiling.
“It’s rather nice.. I have to say that I’m i-impressed at it.” He gave you a slightly shy smile and you beamed back at him.
“A couple of shots of giggle water and some butter beer please.” You asked the bartender, who immediately set the things down. You turned to Newt, pushing him a shot.
“Come one Newty, it’ll help you relax.” You wiggled your eyebrows with that and he gave a small playful huff before drinking it, letting out an adorably loud laugh. He flushed slightly as you giggled, before just so he wouldn’t feel left alone, knocking back your own shot and having a loud laugh force its way out of your mouth.
“See that wasn’t too bad, now here, to make it better drink the butter beer.” You said with a large smile, knowing how he wouldn’t decline that type of drink.
The two of you spent the rest of the night talking and laughing, making sure to remain sober since Christmas was the next day. However when you were both getting ready to go, a man slid up beside you, practically ignoring Newt.
“Why hello, I couldn’t help but notice such an attractive lady such as yourself here.” The man leaned in a bit closer as you flushed a bit, but also leaned away from him.
“A-ah thank you..” you stuttered out, not exactly one for talking to anyone but Newt.
“Aw don’t be shy, you’ve got such a pretty face, especially with that blush.” He reached over to touch your cheek before you felt Newt pull you away with a frown.
“Go away.” Was all Newt said before leading you out into the street. You didn’t complain, quite glad to be away from that man.
“I’m sorry about that Y/N.. I just.. I didn’t like him talking to you..” his cheeks turned a light pink as you looked over at him.
“Newt.. were you jealous of that man?” You asked, trying to hide your smile.
“W-well.. maybe.” Newt looked away as you two continued to walk back to his apartment.
“Hmm, well you should really know.. if choose you over him any day.” You stated with a grin, looking over as his face slowly got more red.
“R-really?” He asked quietly, glancing up into your eyes with his brilliant blue-green ones.
“Yes really silly.” You slowly took his hand, smiling when he didn’t pull away. However you both decided to look up and noticed that the hotel manager had put up mistletoe at the front door. This made you smile even wider, your cheeks flushing as well.
“O-oh.. I’m can I k-kis-” Newt began, but was cut off before he could finish.
“Yes you may.” You finally answered, pecking his nose before leading him up the stairs and into the warm apartment, where a bright Christmas tree welcomed you.
Learning How to Love Chapter Five, Day Eight Part Four: Unworthy
Hello everyone, Happy Saturday! I’m so sorry I’m late, it’s been a bit of a rough week for me, but I have returned with a long new chapter! It’s more than 7000 words, so you might want to spare some time smh the thirst is real. I’d like to thank you all so much for being patient with me, and for those of you who were concerned about my health, I truly appreciate it!
In addition, thank you all for your responses to a potential little drabble about vampire Jumin, your responses were all so considerate and humorous! Since there was plenty of interest shown, one of my next updates will be about that, as I have already begun the process of writing it and I’m having so much fun. :)
As usual, thank you so much to all who have read/liked/reblogged/replied to my original posts. I am beyond grateful for all the wonderful reactions and excitement that followed my previous chapters. I hope you all enjoy this latest chapter!
Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you’d like me to tag you in future chapter posts, as I am more than happy to do so!
To those of you who haven’t read the first chapters and would like to, here are links to each:
Note: As always, 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.
Our poor baby Juju is so hard on himself…
Chapter Five, Day Eight Part Four: Unworthy
“I have an idea,” MC said as she walked over to the bed, picking up her things and setting them aside to make room. She patted the spot beside her as she sat at the end, facing the television. “Why don’t we watch a movie?”
Jumin could only watch her unhurried movements with equal measures of confusion and apprehension. He had been almost certain that she would have been packing her things to leave as soon as physically possible, appalled and unsettled by his irrational behavior minutes prior.
“…A movie?” He asked, wondering if he had heard her right.
“Sure!” She chirped, sapphire eyes sparkling. “It sounds like it might be a little while until the chef comes, you said that Lydia was out of town for the night, right?”
He nodded, still shocked by her bright disposition. There was no revulsion or fear in her cheerful gaze, only affection and acceptance. She looked as if there was no place in this world she would be happier, that being here with him was an exceedingly natural arrangement despite everything. MC watched with joy as his tight expression eased a bit, his stiff shoulders relaxing.
“Then we have plenty of time! Unless you have work to do, of course.” She amended, unsure if he already had a task to complete when he arrived home. She knew last minute deviations from his mentally predetermined schedules would only unsettle him further, so it had to be his own voluntary decision to do otherwise.
She watched as he visibly deliberated, his eyes roaming about the room as if he was afraid to meet her patient gaze, afraid of what he’d find following the admission of his ineptitude.. “…No. I’m not certain I would be all that productive in this state anyway.” Sorry Jaehee, MC couldn’t help the immediate remorse she felt for placing more work on the poor woman, but he needs to heal if he’s going to start treating people better and be happier. I’ll make it up to you somehow.
“Jumin,” He still wouldn’t look up. “Please look at me.” She entreated, her voice low and soothing. After a moment, his head rose in her direction and his eyes widened at the gentle look that met him. “It’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with taking a break when you need it.”
She patted the spot beside her again. “It doesn’t have to be a movie or a show, we can just sit and play music if you want, or read. Whatever makes you feel at ease.”
After a moment’s hesitation, he began to walk to her slowly, like a frightened deer approaching a stranger’s outstretched hand. When he reached the bed, he sat a foot away as she faced the television, giving her the appropriate space a gentleman would.
“A movie sounds fine.” He muttered, fiddling with his cuff links as she picked up the remote.
“Hm…” She said as she flipped through the options before turning to him, curious. “What do you usually like to watch?”
Jumin shrugged. “I rarely ever watch anything. You can go ahead and pick something that you would enjoy.”
MC wracked her brain for a moment, trying to think of the few things she had liked to watch in the past that might prove interesting to him. Until a match struck her so hard she had to withhold a sly smile.
“I’ve got just the thing!” She enthused, moving to the on demand BBC channel. Jumin jumped lightly at her outburst, his head snapping to hers with a brow raised as he took in her sudden excited swaying. Perhaps something like this could hearten his overwhelmed mind, distracting him with its intricacy, wit, and relatable protagonist. Despite the fact that she had already watched every episode, the show was engaging and well-structured enough to be seen over and over and glean new insights. So she settled in, hugging her legs to her chest and laying her head on her knees as she listened to the familiar introductory tune of crashing drums, underlying piano rhythms, and crescendoing violins.
“Sherlock…?” He asked as the letters made themselves visible across the screen.
As the show went on, showcasing its ironic humor and exceedingly clever execution, she stole glances at his face as it progressed. Her gaze slid to his form and watched as he went from a brow raised in uninterested skepticism as he leaned back, to a huffed chuckle as soon as Watson entered, and then to eyes widened in suspense, his gaze laser-focused on the screen as he watched the final minutes with increasing anticipation. About an hour into the episode Jaehee had appeared in the messenger, MC’s phone blinking gold. She turned down the screen brightness so that she wouldn’t distract Jumin, but he was so engrossed he hadn’t even noticed her texting.
Despite Jaehee’s generous consideration of Jumin’s situation and her surprise that MC was still at his home, there was clear frustration in her messages as she explained his refusal to pick up his phone. MC reasoned that it would probably be wisest for her to remain with him due to his lingering anxiety, and expressed her own shock that he hadn’t picked up his calls. Though MC hadn’t seen him use or take out his phone since he returned, she had no idea he was blatantly ignoring both Jaehee and Director Han’s efforts to reach him.
She couldn’t say it was altogether unexpected, however. He was having a hard enough time trying to keep his fear of abandonment at bay; discussing two women who were threatening to coerce him into marriage was more than he could handle right now. And even if he didn’t know Director Han’s or Jaehee’s intentions she knew that the weight of their silent expectations, looming over him and waiting to inflict outraged disapproval, was enough for him to recoil at the sight of his own phone. Jaehee also expressed concern, like every other member of the RFA, regarding whether or not Jumin had been treating MC with the proper respect during her elongated stay; likely due to his general lack of social experience and interaction. Touched as she was, MC repeated like the broken record she was becoming that he just needed more time, that he was indeed treating her right, and that it was her own decision to stay. Unwilling to be interrogated about it further, MC asked about more pressing matters like how work was going without Jumin. She was relieved to hear that things weren’t falling apart as a result of his recent incapacitation, and that Jaehee was mostly trying to contact him about a recent discovery she had made regarding Sarah and Glam Choi.
Knowing that Jumin may not be receptive to the idea of calling anyone right now, MC asked Jaehee if she could simply relay the information to him. To which Jaehee hesitated, stating apologetically that it was confidential company business. She asked if MC could ask Jumin to call her instead, and MC agreed with some measure of reluctance. She didn’t want to disappoint Jaehee, but she also didn’t want to pressure Jumin into anything he didn’t want to do, especially as of now.
It then occurred to Jaehee that MC needed to complete the preparations for the party in three days before it was too late. But MC assured her that Jumin had promised to send her back to Rika’s apartment to finish her tasks, unperturbed enough to satisfy her. When Jaehee returned to work, MC made sure to remind the woman to eat well and take care of her health regardless of how busy she was, worried that the stress was getting to her. The sentiment was reciprocated before Jaehee left the messenger with lingering dismay.
Not long after, Yoosung appeared as well, detailing his stay in Seven’s strange home to assist him with some unknown plan. Though Yoosung didn’t know enough about Seven’s designs to explain to MC, he did ask if Jumin was treating her right. MC admitted he was somewhat unstable, but asserted that he was making a genuine effort to reign in his overwhelming thoughts and feelings. Yoosung also expressed concern regarding Jumin’s sudden detachment to Elizabeth the Third, but was quickly assuaged when MC elaborated that it was a result of Jumin’s realization that his love for the cat went beyond what was reasonable. His newfound ability to understand that resulted in him having a more normal level of affection for Elizabeth as his pet; along with an acute unease that he had mistreated the creature and would continue to do so.
When she impetuously looked over at Jumin’s still, enthralled countenance for a moment she couldn’t help but find his sincere concern for all of the planet’s creatures adorable. Sure there was a level of practicality to that thought process, but there was also compassion in it too: the belief that every sentient being had the right to basic decency and heartfelt care. Regardless of how little of the latter he had received in his lifetime, it seemed.
Yoosung did make a valid point in stating that Jumin might have difficulty dissociating love from ownership; what with his father’s inability to set a healthy example of a relationship and all the women in his life intimating with their behavior that love meant control and ownership. She agreed to communicate with Jumin about that as much as possible, confident it could be accomplished with gentle coaxing in the right direction and level-headed reminders whenever he became too forceful or insistent.
It was then that Seven called Yoosung back into his room though Yoosung claimed that it was likely a false alarm, as Seven did so several times only to send him back to playing LOLOL and eating Honey Buddha Chips in the other room indefinitely. MC sympathized and wished him luck, appreciating his optimism and kind, well-meaning insight before they shared farewells.
MC then left her phone face down with no intention of opening it again, focusing her attention on Jumin. When MC’s eyes returned to the screen she saw that the episode was minutes away from the end, waiting as the final scene played and the credits started rolling before turning to him. He appeared fascinated despite the blank look on his face; leaning towards the screen, expectant.
“Want to watch the next episode, too?”
He blinked, “I don’t know…” he said as he noticed the duration of each episode.
She settled on a compromise, knowing that he would probably be more receptive to a logical arrangement. “How about we watch one more and then start getting ready for dinner? How much longer before the chef is here?”
Jumin reached into his pocket and opened his phone, bleak fatigue transforming his eyes into the dull silver of a beloved pendant, one that was lost and left to languish in perpetual obscurity. The neutral line of his mouth became a severe frown, swiping apathetically at the sight of his missed calls as if they were meaningless notifications. Instead she watched as he texted the chef, looking back up to her when he received a reply.
“The rain is making traffic abysmal. He will not be here for another two, perhaps three, hours.” He sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose with a forefinger and thumb as if to ward away an impending headache. “I left you alone all day, and can’t even schedule dinner at a reasonable time. I’m so sorry about all this, it seems I can’t do much of anything right.” She knew this was about more than just his late arrival and inability to provide a meal at the advised time of consumption. It was about his father’s unfair disappointment in him for deciding his own path to happiness and Elizabeth’s decision to run away. It was about the fact that no matter how hard he tried, at the end of the day he felt like a failure. And nobody bothered to tell him otherwise.
“Don’t say that,” She entreated as she scooched over to where he sat, pulling away the hand that was now covering his face. Downcast eyes met hers, desolate and hopeless. “You can’t control the fact that it’s raining outside or that there’s always ridiculous traffic in this city.” She gestured to the enormous windows, the distant specks of countless car headlights drowning in the smearing raindrops visible from afar. “You’re not a failure.”
She gained momentum as she went on, unable to stop herself now that she had begun.
“And there’s no way you could have anticipated Elizabeth the Third’s disappearance, and I say disappearance because I’m not convinced she ran away.” She clarified before he could correct her. “Or the fact that your father imposes what he thinks is best on you, just like any frightened parent does sometimes.” His gaze strayed to his phone, unable to deny what she had said but also unconvinced of his lack of accountability.
She stood from the bed and walked to where he was sitting upright, cupping his face in her hands since she was only tall enough from this vantage point. She tilted his head up to look at her with a slow, cautious pull so as not to startle him. Her smile was soft as she brushed back the ebony hair that fringed his left eye with a careful, fond movement. Smooth fingers stroked his cheeks, with rhythmic sweeps of her thumbs as she watched the creased element of his expression ease, his entire body leaning into her gentle touch without thinking. He’d never been handled with such deliberate care, as if he were one of those windblown glass figurines his mother had safeguarded in her enormous antique cabinet.
“Don’t be so hard on yourself. You know how hard you’re trying to make amends in the way you believe is right, and so do I. What they think they know about you doesn’t matter. You know yourself and what you need, and nobody has any right to dictate that for you.” She said with the utmost conviction, hoping her firm solidarity would bolster his resolve before she returned to her silvery appeal.
“It’s okay to ask for help sometimes. It doesn’t make you weak, it makes you human. And you’re allowed to make mistakes along the way; you’re allowed to be imperfect.”
He stared back at her with a mixture of dazed wonder and disbelief, his eyes searching her features, wondering when she would tell him that she couldn’t stand him anymore, or that she just wanted something from him; that this was all a game. But she didn’t. Instead she leaned forward to press a kiss to his forehead, the feather-light touch infusing him with more warmth than he had ever known all his life before she hugged him to her.
“Please, don’t hate the person I’ve come to befriend and like so much. Especially when he’s taken such good care of me when he had no reason to invite me into his home or look after me, even when he’s had countless things on his mind and lost so much since he met me.” She murmured as his arms lifted to encircle her waist tightly, holding her close and hiding himself in the breadth of her clothed stomach as she continued to embrace his shoulders. She caressed his hair, running her fingers through the silky strands as she granted him as much time as he needed to take everything in.
She wasn’t sure how long they stayed that way, her hands eventually moving down to smooth over the broad expanse of his back and him holding her close with little intention of letting her go. Part of her had to wonder how long it had been since somebody simply hugged him before she entered his life, how long he had needed somebody to tell him the world wouldn’t end if he wasn’t perfect.
It was the jarring vibration of his phone, another message from the chef, that made him sigh and let go. He offered a small, apologetic curve of his lips as he reached for the device.
“Good news,” Jumin explained, his shoulders lowering as he let out a long exhale. “Traffic is moving quicker than he thought. We have about an hour before he arrives. Would you like to use the lavatory first?” He asked, gesturing to the door across the way.
“Yes, thank you.” MC said with a nod, moving to the closet to gather the spare change of clothes Jumin had bought for her before moving to the bathroom.
As soon as she closed the door, she put her bundle down on the countertop and let her head fall into her hands. You idiot, you need to take things slow or he’ll get the wrong idea. She chastised herself, conflicted. But he just looked so distraught…
She shook her head forcefully at the thought, reminding herself that there were greater things at stake here; like a man’s lifelong emotional well-being.
After taking a quick but thorough shower, she donned the crimson dress lined with elegant black lace and smoothed the fabric over her legs, feeling nervous. She didn’t even want to know how much he spent on the ensemble as she slipped on the black heels, certain it was a ludicrous amount that would just make her want to put everything back in the closet before she ruined them. A princess deserves nothing less, she could hear him coo now. Sometimes she wondered, with no shortage of fond amusement, whether he had been raised in this century or one long past.
She also noticed with a measure of relief that the only extraneous additions to the little pile were a modest tube of lipstick and coco chanel perfume, subtle yet classy. She personally wasn’t one for an overwhelming number of cosmetics herself, just a touch of rouge to make her lips stand out and a pleasant fragrance.
She was double-checking her appearance in the mirror when Zen had a small ultimatum in the messenger before she exited the bathroom, outraged that MC was still comforting Jumin and ready to barge into the penthouse to demand her freedom. MC immediately protested and was grateful to Jaehee for joining in, advising him against the idea as well when she entered the messenger after a long day’s work. Instead, Jaehee volunteered to check on MC to ascertain her safety and touch base with Jumin, if not to avoid a potential disaster. Both MC and Zen agreed and advised Jaehee to be safe before they all exited the chat, even though it was clear Zen had persistent misgivings no matter their reassurances.
Not a second later, Jumin sent MC a text asking her to put her hair up in a princess braid; two separate braids starting at the edges of her forehead and pulled back over the rest of her hair to mimic a crown. With a shrug, she used the hair ties that he indicated were in the drawer specifically for her use and engaged in the simple task, using the mirror to line everything up and make sure her hair remained smooth and even.
When she was satisfied that she looked decent and the apocalypse would not come early, she stepped out into the hallway and made her way to the dining room. Jumin was already waiting for her when she peeked around the corner, standing behind the chair he had pulled out at the far end of the table. His usual striped ensemble of black and white was substituted tonight for a navy vest and azure dress shirt, complementing and brightening his pallor. The shades of blue were masterfully coupled with a lustrous silver tie and neatly tucked handkerchief, accentuating his captivating eyes as they landed on her, equally luminous. He was a sight to behold.
He must have grown impatient and utilized the bathroom in his own room to prepare, that or the chef had arrived prematurely. With measured steps she walked over hoping she wouldn’t embarrass herself, a little shy due to her unfamiliarity with such luxury. He watched her with an intense, steady gaze; taking each part of her in with enthralled satisfaction. Though he did note her hesitance with growing dismay, hoping he hadn’t upset her by asking her to wear the things he bought and wear her hair up as he had indicated. It wasn’t that she wasn’t breathtaking otherwise, he simply liked giving her things to adorn her already alluring features.
He was relieved when MC granted him a tentative smile as she approached his position about a foot away. Returning it with a small one of his own, he gestured for her to sit and pushed in the chair before moving to the other side. As MC took in the display she noticed it was laid out with accommodations more suitable for royalty than a common girl like her: two glasses filled with French wine hundreds of years old and a name she was incapable of pronouncing, a diamond encrusted vase filled with a modest number of roses, a white tablecloth with silver embellishments, and the low beckoning of a violin concerto filled with poignant tension and enchantment creating a charming ambiance.
This man never did anything by halves, did he?
MC took in the bouquet of fresh crimson roses with immediate fascination, resisting the urge to reach out and press a velvet petal between her fingertips, relishing in the sensation. She had never seen such pristine roses, as the flowers tended to be sensitive and prone to disease; she wondered where they came from. She admired the intricacy of the twisting petals, the scarlet hue growing darker and darker the closer it approached the center until the color resembled blood. It reminded her of the days her father bought roses for her and her mother on Valentine’s Day every year, always claiming that there were two important women in his life, not one. The memory made her grin before her face fell, remembering that she couldn’t contact her family for a few more days. At least, according to V, until the party was over and she was no longer a liability. They must have been worried sick about her…
Jumin misconstrued her momentary melancholy as he noticed her lack of response to the food placed in front of her minutes ago, unaware that she was simply distracted. “This is a late meal. I’m sorry.”
She blinked, returning to the moment at hand at the sound of his voice. What was she doing? She wasn’t alone. Jumin was here now, and it wasn’t as though she would never see her family ever again. The was no point in lamenting time lost with them, because it was time she had otherwise gained with Jumin despite the infinitesimal odds that they would ever meet.
“No, not at all. It’s all right.” She reassured, eating if only to placate him as she had eaten well that afternoon. Her meal was, admittedly, cooked and seasoned to perfection just like everything else she had consumed during her stay. But she had to wonder where the entire RFA got the strange habit of demanding whether or not their loved ones had eaten. It was incredibly sweet, but also a little bizarre and off-putting at times.
“How is the food? It’s veal. I hope it suits your palate.” She nodded, unperturbed either way as she couldn’t really tell the difference while he took a sip of his wine. To savor it or steady himself, even he couldn’t be sure. As he placed the glass down in a practiced motion, he noticed her head turning in the direction of the gorgeous melody as soon as it swelled, curious eyes seeking out the veritable euphony.
“This violin piece….Did you know? It’s a waltz called ‘I want you’ written in 1903 France.” Ah, her old friend Jumin No Chill Han was surfacing. She stifled an amused grin at his attempt at subtle flirting. He was about as subtle as a stampede of elephants, and it was adorable.
Regardless, she had to concede that the tune was captivating and his execution did nothing to lessen the heat that rose to her cheeks at his intensity. It would be inappropriate to fan herself, right? Right. Focus, MC. “It’s beautiful,” MC murmured as an avid lover of music, especially the violin.
His answering smile was pleased, delighted to find something in common. “If you like it, why don’t we go to an orchestra concert that plays this piece next time?”
MC nodded enthusiastically, expression alight. The prospect was exciting, as she had never been able to afford the luxury of live performances in her life. Every rare opportunity she had been able to seize in school that involved professional instrumentalists left her enraptured, responding to the moving elements within each composition with either tears, awe, or laughter. Exquisite joy saturated each of those experiences; the memories lingering in vivid color and clarity in her mind.
At the sight of her ardor, he sighed blissfully. “…It’s perfect. This music, these fresh flowers, this perfectly paired wine, and you in front of my eyes.” Contentment softened his features as he gazed at her, insatiable as he took in her animated mien. “The dress I chose, the perfect lip color for your skin, the hairstyle that reveals your ears… I love your ears. They are very cute. And your eyebrows, your nails. You are beautiful throughout, but it’s the details that get to me.” She flushed as he admired her, every word heavy with sincerity and adoration. Unlike the other men in her life who had observed her with romantic intent, his sharp eyes were not an invasion so much as a light, appreciative caress. Instead of focusing on the features that appealed to him, he took in every part of her with equal desire, accepting her as she was. She lowered her head to try and hide behind her hair, nervous and timid when it came to her physical appearance. She knew she was only average in beauty and stature, regardless of the fact that Jumin didn’t seem to care. He could have any woman he wanted, someone with a figure like Sarah’s for instance.
He misinterpreted her shy disposition as discomfort and immediately returned to his urbane demeanor, his gaze falling. “Oh, I’m sorry if I’ve made you uncomfortable. I’m just so happy. I got a bit too excited.” He admitted, his remorse tinged with good-natured euphoria.
As much as she appreciated his earnest compliments, his sudden fervor was sobering. It made her remember that she needed to keep this as platonic as possible. She couldn’t just let him forget his responsibilities or let him set aside the complicated nature of sorting out his feelings for the sake of initiating a romantic relationship while he was still emotionally compromised. “…Thank you for this nice meal. But I can’t help but worry about Elizabeth.”
“Worried? That’s why you didn’t look too happy.” His brows furrowed and he sighed through his nose, frowning. It was clear he was trying not to think about the cat in the hopes of warding away his fear and avoiding his previous loss of control. “Elizabeth the Third…We’ll find her. I plan to increase the recompense by ten times if things get too delayed.”
He looked away as he went on, his eyes roaming around the room. It was clear he was distraught by the following possibility but knew by his infallible, systematic logic that it was a feasible result of Elizabeth the Third’s disappearance. “If we can’t find her until tomorrow…it might be that someone else has taken her in. It’s my fault that she left this house. But…” He shook his head, looking back to her with a rueful half-smile. “MC. If you keep thinking about the cat that’s run off, you’ll only feel more sad.” He murmured, as if he couldn’t bear to say Elizabeth’s name again or the thought of MC being upset. “What’s important right now is us. The cat won’t come back just because we’re sad…” His serious disposition morphed into that rare boyish smile, a bit of bashfulness creeping into his eager expression. “Is there any way I can make you smile?” He asked, as if there was nothing else he wanted more in the world.
When she made no move to reply, shocked and only able to blink at him, he continued. “Oh, right. I have some good news.” He was grave once again while she was still rendered speechless by the spontaneous request, her innards turning to mush at how sweet he could be. “I called my father today and we’re going to meet tomorrow. I plan to end all discussions of marriage.” He said firmly, the line of his mouth severe. “I plan to tell him about how that woman barged in here this morning and tried to play me. I’ll also show him the personal credit reports Assistant Kang found.” If she hadn’t known the way his eyes hardened to granite when he was agitated, she would have assumed by his cool, apathetic breakdown of evidence that he was nothing more than bored. “If the discussion goes well, my father and I will be good again.” He sighed, as if it was too much to hope after his previous attempts to reason with the man. “If my father is back on my side just like before…those women won’t be able to bother me any further. And they’ll never be able to touch you.” His expression darkened at the very notion of Sarah or Glam Choi approaching MC, grim and implacable.
For a moment, MC had to wonder why anyone other than Zen thought it a trifling matter to make an enemy of Jumin Han.
She watched him take another slow pull of his wine, as if to wash away the thought as his belligerence eased. “Everything will go back to the way it was once we find Elizabeth the Third, the hacker threat is gone, and those women are no longer around us.” He concluded. The thought likely gave him some measure of peace in such trying times, despite the low probability that things would be resolved so easily.
He was only forgetting one thing. There was still the matter of the RFA party. “But first, I think I might have to go home to prepare for the party…What do you think?” MC queried, actively including him in the decision this time to diminish the explosive fear that had surfaced hours ago.
His face puckered at the reminder. “Oh…right. I have to send you back for the party. The place you’re returning to is a secret location, so I won’t be able to send my bodyguards…” Unease flashed across his face. The inability to ascertain her safety, especially while he was apart from her, was beyond troubling. “But I’ll call V and figure something out.” He promised, acknowledging that some compromise had to be made as the party’s execution was essential.
“How about…” He proposed, looking hopeful as he looked at her from beneath his lashes, forlorn. “you return home the day after tomorrow and not tomorrow?”
But MC held her ground. He needed to grow comfortable with the idea of basic separation if they were ever going to be able to foster a healthy relationship one day. He needed to become confident in her ability to return to him safe and sound as she went about her daily life, and her desire to return to him of her own volition. “I still think I should return as soon as possible…” She hedged, fiddling with a thread sticking out of the lace additions of her dress.
“I want to spend more time with you…” He murmured, crestfallen. The words were a flowing supplication as he stared at her, an undiluted reflection of his thoughts as he was gripped by the perpetual fear that she would vanish right before his eyes if he so much as looked away. “But that’s not what’s important now.” He eventually conceded, knowing her protection mattered more than anything he might like. Even if he couldn’t see her, even if she never wanted to see him again after she inevitably left this place, he wanted her smile to be safe. “We might need more time to ensure that you’re properly safeguarded. Please believe me on this. A day will be enough to prepare for the party. I will have my people help if necessary.” He assured, already making a mental list of coworkers at the office that would be able to lend a hand.
“Instead, let’s talk about how far along the preparations are once we finish eating. We’ll manage to find a solution. I’ve already held the party twice, so I’ll be able to help you. I promise I’ll send you back to Rika’s apartment before the party.” Despite the pragmatic nature of his explanation, it wasn’t like when he had spoken to Sarah. The logic was infused with sincerity and care, looking to her with every intention of keeping his word and lending a hand.
“But… until you return,” He added, his eyes falling to the table as he started fiddling with his cufflinks. “Please remain in this building and be safe. I told you before… but I’m scared that you will disappear forever if you leave my sight.” His voice was quiet, as if he knew he was being unreasonable and hated himself for it, but didn’t know any other way to retain his sanity right now.
He looked so conflicted, sitting there with his brows furrowed and his lips pursed, before he suddenly dropped his hands and looked up. “Can you…understand how I feel?” He struggled to ask, hope and torment swirling in his stormy eyes. They spoke of a desperation to be understood in a world that had simply put him in a neat box titled rich control freak and set him aside.
“I do understand…” She murmured as she peered right back, her sympathetic gaze patient and gentle at the sight of his genuine anguish. He looked into the oceanic depths of her eyes and never thought he could enjoy drowning so much, engulfed by a wealth of understanding and tenderness. It made him want to believe that he wouldn’t be betrayed or left alone again, that maybe he could try if she remained by his side.
He granted her a repentant smile, fully aware that he was being irrational and unable to help it, but grateful for her compassion nonetheless. “Thank you for trying to understand. To return your kindness…I’ll try to ensure your safety so that you can return as soon as possible.” His gaze fell as he fiddled with his cufflinks again. “I’m sorry about earlier…I couldn’t control my emotions. I shouldn’t have blocked you and talked to you so forcefully. I don’t want to restrain you…that’s not very democratic.” Disapproval laced his words, ashamed of himself as he continued to apologize for the hundredth time that evening. “But I hope you don’t consider everything to be a restraint. I want to believe you’re here…because you understand how much I worry.” He tried to sound hopeful, but the attempt was brittle, falling apart even as he spoke. As if even he knew the prospect was preposterous, that nobody could ever feel that way after what he’d done.
MC wasn’t as distressed as he might have feared what with the knowledge of his intentions and hardships. Not to mention the fact that he always explained himself and worked to ascertain her happiness above all else. Considering the circumstances, he had been more than fair and benevolent during her stay.
And he was forgetting the most important element of their situation. She had decided to stay in the penthouse of her own free will, enjoying the time she spent with him and supporting him just as she would anybody that was important to her. If she was truly so uncomfortable or bent on leaving, she could have easily asked Zen to help her or call the police. Even simpler, she could have walked right out the door when Jumin left on his errands, losing the guards on the path to her escape. She had simply chosen not to.
MC nodded without hesitation. “Of course. I’m also here because I’m worried about you losing Elizabeth.”
His fingers froze, his eyes wide. “Thank you,” was all he managed to say as he blinked at her.
After a moment he seemed to find his voice again, suffused with a relief so great that it rivaled a desert explorer discovering an uncharted oasis. “Although you may not understand the worries and fears I have to some extent…it’s enough that you’re thinking of me.” She agreed that she might not fully understand everything, but she was more than willing to try. Anything to be able to see that radiant look on his face, moved by her efforts and mollified beyond measure.
But the enchantment soon ebbed, swallowed by festering guilt. He let the tip of his forefinger trace the rim of his wineglass as he spoke. “I don’t feel so good about this either. It’s as if I’ve locked you in here.” He pursed his lips, staring into the depths of its contents before he returned his gaze to her, mildly assuaged by whatever answer he had detected in the violet ripples.
“But I at least want you to be happy while you’re here. There are more places you can visit inside this building than you think. There’s a gym on the seventh floor, and there’s a mini garden on the rooftop. It’s a nice place to go for a walk under the sun. On the first floor is the lounge cafe and restaurant, and in the basement, there’s a shop with imported goods. I think there’s also an antique shop.” His eyes rose the ceiling as he deliberated, trying to remember all the places he had seen and gone to within the building.
“There are a lot of people there so I rarely go. If you want to be around more people, then that’s a good place. Of course, my bodyguards will be with you.” Though she considered the requirement a little unnecessary, she acknowledged that she was in an unfamiliar building while plenty of people were potentially after her right now. Better to be safe than sorry, especially if it would put Jumin at ease when she was out of his sight and make him more willing to grant her freedom. “I rarely leave the building when I don’t have work scheduled… so you’ll be able to do everything here.” He reassured, still listing logical benefits of staying. She had a feeling she knew exactly where he was going with this, but she didn’t want to interrupt him, knowing that this was just as much for him as it was for her.
And as much as she appreciated the silent peace of his home, he needed to get out and see the world a little more. If they ever started dating, she would make sure to take him to engaging places outside of the penthouse now and then for some wholesome fun.
“When you’re hungry you can call the chefs as I just did now. They’ll make anything you want. If you want to work out, you can go to the seventh floor and call for a trainer. If you want to listen to music, I can invite a famous ensemble member. I can also call for a mini-orchestra to come here right way. The big orchestras require that you book at least a week in advance. There’s a music hall on the second floor, so they will be playing there. The best wine that suits your palate, the most luxurious items of your taste…” His descriptions petered out to reveal his primary motive for telling her all this, though it was nice to know about the available facilities for future reference. “Anything is possible in this place where we are together…”
His wandering gaze suddenly zeroed on hers. “So please don’t think it’s boring to stay here. Please, stay with me here at my home.” He implored, as if he was sure he wasn’t reason enough for her to choose to stay. Oh silly Jumin, she wanted to murmur, you didn’t have to tell me about the penthouse’s impressive facilities to persuade me to stay. After all, it isn’t hard to guess at your wealth or resources. Being with you is more than enough, you could live in a damn paper box for all I care.
But before she could offer reassurance, there was a knock on the door.
“Just a moment.” Jumin paused at the sound, his reticence returning as he regarded his employee’s cautious entrance.
“Mr. Han, sir…” Though the guard did his best to remain professional and unfazed, there was an underlying discomfort to the way he addressed Jumin.
Jumin looked up with a neutral expression, his tone flat. “What is it?”
“Chief Assistant Kang is here to see you, sir.”
“I can’t see her right now. Tell her to send me an email if she needs anything.” He replied without a moment’s indecision, turning away from the guard to refocus on MC. Sorry Jaehee, but I had a feeling this would happen. I’m not sure we can nudge him out of what’s left of his comfort zone right now…
“Yes, sir.” The guard showed himself out and MC tried not to be embarrassed by how awkward this must have been for the poor man. She couldn’t imagine the number of strange situations Jumin had put his guards through over the years with that constant nonplussed demeanor; she would have to ask them about it if she ever had an opportunity in the future.
MC tried to make another appeal on behalf of the poor assistant, wishing she could do more to help. “Jaehee said in the messenger that she’s coming here…Can’t we see her?”
But he shook his head, unwilling to think about work or whatever Jaehee had on Sarah and Glam Choi. All he wanted was to enjoy MC’s company and the absolute calm she managed to coax from his jumbled mind, to revel in the soothing balm that was her unobtrusive presence. “I don’t want anyone to interfere with this perfect moment, I want to focus on you. We will continue our dinner…”
Upon saying so he noticed that they were both more or less finished, rising from his chair to address the chef in the kitchen. “I’ll have to check the dessert menu.”