You know what they say about a car wreck, where it’s so awful you can’t look away? The 3-5-2 is like a car wreck that you want to look away from but you have to play in because your boss is making you.
for my people in the usa. don’t forget to breathe.
the word is scrawled messily at the top left of the office bulletin board, written in long, sprawling strokes of gold sharpie.
fareeha studies them for a moment before some sort of curiosity deep in her bones makes her uncap a pen and scribble a reply beneath it.
why not? she writes, and then walks on.
the next morning, she checks the bulletin board.
because i’m scared.
what are you afraid of?
i’m not sure. but i know one thing.
closing hours, when fareeha works too late and the clock strikes midnight and the lights dim. she rises, rubs her eyes, and decides that justice can wait till tomorrow.
she’s walking down the hall, toward the bulletin board, when suddenly there’s the faint sound of an argument from behind one of the doors, and she pauses.
the door reads ‘angela ziegler, m.d.’. fareeha knows her.
she has gold hair and blue eyes and cares too much.
this is the fifth night in a row she has stayed past midnight. fareeha wonders if she ever sleeps.
the voices grow heated behind the door, one of them marred by static and the tinny sound that comes from public-issued cell phones, until suddenly there is the splintering sound of something breaking and an angry huff.
fareeha dismisses her apprehension and knocks.
the door swings open a moment later. dr. ziegler looks surprised to see her.
‘ms. amari!’ she says, eyebrows rising. ‘to what do i owe the pleasure of your company?’
‘why, your seeming inability to rest, dr. ziegler.’
she flushes red at that, ducking her head. ‘i just- there’s so much work to do, and i- well, i suppose you know how it is, given that you’re still here as well.’
fareeha’s lips curl, amused. ‘doctor, i must protest. work will wait for tomorrow. you are the furthest from a prime example of healthy sleeping habits that i have ever seen.’
she goes even redder. ‘well- i- there’s a prototype that i need to-’
fareeha raises a finger, interrupts. ‘it will wait, dr. ziegler. take care of yourself.’
she sighs exaggeratedly, but her brow smoothes. ‘very well, ms. amari.’
‘do call me fareeha, please.’
‘fine, fareeha. i’ll leave. just give me five minutes and then i’ll go back home and sleep.’
she smiles at that, exhausted blue eyes crinkling a little. ‘i promise.’
when fareeha walks to the bulletin board, there is another message in gold swooping script.
i know that i’m not afraid of you.
she leans down a little, writes in her neat, precise script,
and why is that?
she arrives the next morning at four am, an idea stuck insistently in her head, and glances at the bulletin board. to her surprise, there’s a message there. it’s simple, just three words.
you wrote back.
she tries to puzzle out exactly how it could have gotten there- after all, it’s four am, but gives up, scribbles what else would i do? below it, and nearly sprints to her spreadsheets, determined to follow up on this idea.
five hours later, fareeha has a new seventy-page policy on transactions with international tech corporations and a headache. she thunks her head into her hands and groans, shoving the computer away.
‘sorry, fareeha, what was that about self care?’
‘angela,’ she corrects with a smirk, and fareeha (slightly childishly) pouts at her.
‘come on,’ angela says, hopping over and seating herself on fareeha’s neatly alphabetised spreadsheets. she’s grinning, looking considerably less exhausted. fareeha sighs in her general direction, trying halfheartedly to shoo her off, and gulps an entire cup of tea (the second pot today).
‘you know,’ angela continues, ignoring her hands, ‘someone once told me something very wise.’
‘she told me to take care of myself. so that’s what we’re going to do.’
fareeha grunts again.
‘we’re taking a break. get up.’
they walk and smile and talk and angela gets started on her new prototype, eyes lighting up, gesturing animatedly, and fareeha smiles at her and tingles a little and then angela blushes shyly, and tugs at her lapel and kisses her cheek and then disappears.
fareeha almost forgets to check the board. when she remembers, backtracking, the gold writer has scrawled a smiley face below her words, and a lopsided heart. fareeha grins.
she develops a schedule. write a message, flirt talk with angela, do some mildly productive work, talk with angela some more, write another message, do some more work, stress, email people, be rescued by angela, write another message, go home. this continues for months, and then it’s a year, and lena has stopped rolling her eyes when they walk by but instead has started unsubtly shoving angela in fareeha’s direction.
fareeha walks in one day and sees the bulletin board. it’s now completely covered in writing, the stuff of office legend. they would have a running bet in the breakroom, but literally everyone knows who they are.
at the very bottom right of the board, the gold writer has scribbled something. it’s a little bit smaller than the rest of their writing, hesitant almost, and fareeha’s heart thuds in her chest for a moment.
i love you.
she frowns, backs up, that seems a little, um, okay, she doesn’t know what to do, and so she walks, in quick strides, to angela ziegler’s office, because that’s what she always does, and when she pushes the door open angela greets her with a smile and a gold sharpie pinned to her lapel and- oh.
the pieces come together and angela seems to realise what’s happening, because her blue eyes widen and fareeha knows it’s not a coincidence and angela’s talking very quickly, hands blurring, explanations and apologies that stumble their way out of her mouth and
If I had a gun with two bullets, and I was in a room with Hitler, Bin Laden and Seokjin, I would shoot Seokjin twice.
*Shaking their heads*
You were being funny but then you went too far.
I would kill Bin Laden and then Seokjin.
No, that's still...
Ok, genius's how would you do it?
Curve the bullet like in my favourite James McAvoy film, Wanted.
All that does is help you shoot around things.
Is there a curtain rod in the room?
How about make believe land, (it) has anything you want.
Jimin please, this is serious.
Is this the thing where they use an icicle so there's no evidence?
Yes! We stab Seokjin in the heart with an icicle.
oh come on, the two bullet thing is a red herring. Here's how you do it. You line them all up, in one bullet shoot them all through the throats at the same time. *goes to the front* Watch this, Namjoon you're Hitler, Seokjin you're Seokjin and Hoseok you're Bin Laden, line up.
I don't wanna do this.
Seokjin just do it! God.
Seokjin come on. *Stands in front of the line up, fake 'hand' gun posed* Ready... one bullet, and bomb pssskoo, psskkoooo