#oftentimes it will just go to the bottom of their never ending ''to watch'' list
ravenkings · 6 months
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i, personally, have no intention of seeing blonde, but i do agree that watching the tendency in some internet/fan spaces of engaging in art and culture criticism purely as a metric as to whether one work or another should be allowed to exist based on a system of black-and-white moral judgement seeping into the critical mainstream to be.......troubling.......to say the least
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typical-simplelove · 2 years
On Your Right (M. Tkachuk)
Author's Note: The longest one-shot I have ever written is for @raysofcrosby for @antoineroussel's Summer Fic Exchange; this is my first exchange, so hopefully, I did well. Thanks to Demi for organizing this! I truly had a blast working on this. I hope you enjoy this!! I used inspo from To All the Boys I've Loved Before and Bridgerton for this. Enjoy reading!
Summary: When you and Matthew both find yourself needing dates to individual events, Matthew proposes a plan where you both fake date. He suggests that he, who's been in love with you since the age of ten, and you, who is convinced Matthew hates you, date. What could possibly go wrong?
Word Count: 21.4k
Warnings: the time may not coincide with the way time works, but ignore that; hatred; friends hating each other; Matthew being an ass; fake dating; mentions of sex (nothing explicit or too NSFW, though); planes; only one bed
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Sitting on the patio chair of the Tkachuk's deck was exactly how you expected to spend a Sunday afternoon in the early weeks of summer vacation. For the past ten years, it's the exact way you've always spent your Sunday afternoons in the summer. It was always the same. Your mother and Chantal would be in the kitchen with the air conditioning, and your dad and Keith would be at the grill making dinner. What they would make would change, but it would usually be somewhere between burgers and hotdogs to chicken or salmon. It was always a surprise. They'd never tell the kids not wanting any complaining. You always sat in a chair with Taryn on your left and with Matthew on your right. Across from you sat your brother and Brady next to him. Keith always sat at one head and Chantal at the other. Your dad sat in the seat next to Keith, and your mother sat next to Chantal. You would always drink lemonade, and your brother would drink iced tea. You never got to drink that at home, so you and your brother would make sure to share your cups. Sometimes, Matthew would drink a pop of his choice and share it with you. If it rained, the Tkachuks would go to your home, and the seating situation was the same around your dining room table.
Chantal and your mother would insist that you kids couldn't play inside at these Sunday afternoon dinners. Sometimes, your brother and the boys would play soccer and maybe let you and Taryn join. Oftentimes, though, you and Taryn would hang out together. Sometimes, Matthew would play with you and Taryn, and you'd all play family. You and Matthew would be married parents, and Taryn would be your daughter. If your brother and Brady chose to join, Taryn would be the aunt, and Brady and your brother would be the children. Taryn always joked that life should always end up that way -- you and Matthew married with Taryn as the aunt to your children. When she'd bring up the topic, your mother and Chantal would always give each other a knowing look as if they knew something you both didn't. Your dad wouldn't say anything, but Keith would pat his shoulder, again, as if they knew something you didn't. Brady and your brother would gag and tease Matthew. You and Matthew never said anything; you both were close friends, some would argue best friends, but it didn't matter. You knew that Matthew would be someone who would always be in your life. In your life, ages 5-10, you didn't understand the notion of marriage. All you knew was that you wanted Matthew to be in your life, and if it was marriage, then so be it.
Despite expecting to be sitting on that patio chair, you never expected you'd be watching Taryn, Brady, Matthew, and your brother playing while you sat there by yourself. It wasn't that they weren't including you, but they also weren't not not including you. They all decided to play your least favorite game, and you didn't want to, so you decided to sit and watch. There's more to it, though. The school year ended just the previous week, and you and Matthew graduated from elementary school and would be going to middle school. Somewhere within the past few weeks. Matthew went from being one of your closest friends to hating you. He just suddenly decided he didn't like you. You weren't sure why, but he just stopped being your friend. You told your mother you were sick so as not to have to come to the Tkachuk's today, but she said no. She saw right through your lie. You didn't know why Matthew didn't want to be your friend anymore, but it hurt. It hurt a lot. No longer were the days where you and Matthew would pretend to be a married couple. No more were the days where Matthew would share his pop with you. No more were the days where Matthew was your closest friend.
When Chantal called for dinner, you ran to the washroom to wash your hands and sat back in your usual spot. Despite knowing Matthew's recent emotions towards you, you hoped he'd still sit next to you. You watched as Taryn returned from washing her hands and began to apologize for not playing a game you liked. You told her it was okay, it was, and watched your brother take his seat across from you, as normal. You watched Brady put the toys away and go to the washroom to wash his hands. You watched as Keith and your father put the grilled chicken on the table, and Chantal and your mother set the sides on the table. Finally, Matthew emerged from the house, but what he did next confused you. He sat in Brady's usual seat.
"What are you doing, Matthew?" Brady asks when he sees where his brother is sitting. Matthew glares at you and shrugs.
"I just want to sit next here, today," Matthew says with anger in his voice. You weren't sure why he was suddenly so angry, but the look he had as he stared at you sent chills down your spine. That's when you knew. That's when you knew that Matthew hated you. He doesn't like you anymore, and you doubted he ever would You didn’t know it, then, but you now know that when Matthew opted to sit in a different seat and treat you with anger, he broke your heart.
Matthew Tkachuk broke your heart at the age of ten.
. . .
With Matthew out of the picture as a friend, you found yourself growing closer to your other friends. One friend, in particular, became your closest friend, Shelly. You and Shelly became the best of friends and stuck together through middle school, high school, and college. It was Shelly who convinced you that it would be a good idea to move to Calgary despite your hated family friend living there.
"Shelly, I don't think so," you tell her. "Actually, I know so."
"Come on, Ynn," Shelly eggs on. "Do it for me? I'm getting married! Please, can you bring a date? Actually, it's a must thing. I'm telling you that you have to bring a date. That's the only thing I need from you."
"So, the only thing I need to do as your maid of honor is to bring a date?"
"I mean, no? But, the wedding is in two months, and most of the stuff I've needed you to do has been done. Just this one thing, okay? I think you'll enjoy it much better if you have someone to hang out with. Who knows, maybe you’ll fall in love with him and marry him, and I can be your maid of honor."
"Fine," you grumble. "But, only because I love you."
You hang up the phone and groan. How were you supposed to find a date? You had a few work friends in Calgary, but you found it difficult to find a date. The one thing that annoyed you the most was that you had two months to find someone you liked and trusted enough to bring to St. Louis for a wedding. What were you going to do?
Now, a month later, you were standing outside one certain door you never thought you would with a plate of cookies, their favorite cookies, and angry that this was your last resort. You knock on the door of the apartment and await the smirk and comment you were bound to get.
"Well, well, well, if it isn't my biggest admirer, Yn Yln," Matthew says with his signature smirk. Yup, you guessed it.
"Matthew," you grumble and walk into his apartment as he welcomes you inside. "Here are some cookies."
Matthew takes the plate from you, opens it up, and bites into a cookie. "Thank you," he says with a mouthful of cookies. You grimace at the sight and remind yourself about the task at hand. "You know, when you called me, I forgot you were in Calgary. Why haven't you ever called me before to hang out?"
"You're serious?"
"Maybe the small fact that we've hated each other since we were like ten? Or, how about that time you spilled water down my dress at our joint eighth-grade graduation party? Or, how about that time you spilled Gatorade on my English project? Or, how about that time you told everyone we were dating when you clearly know WE WEREN'T. Or, how about that time you took my car keys and hid them at the bottom of your hockey bag in the men's locker room? Would you like me to continue? I can keep going as far as you need."
"No, no, I get the point. No need to remind me," Matthew tells you. He internally cringes at his actions growing up, but he has too much pride to apologize. "Anyways, that was when we were growing up and in high school. I haven't treated you like that in ages."
Matthew knows he shouldn't have said that immediately when he sees the glare you give him. "I have a list if you'd like for me to list it out?"
"Okay, fine, message understood. You hate me, and I hate you because of it. What do you need? You called me pretty frantically."
You narrow your eyes at Matthew. "Firstly, I did not call you frantically. I called you asking if I could ask for a favor. Secondly, I only hate you because you hate me. Third, I need your help with something."
"Okay, firstly, yes you did. Second, maybe that's right. Third, just tell me."
"Can you set me up with a teammate or a friend of yours for me to take to Shelly's wedding?" you blurt out in one breath.
"What?" Matthew laughs breathlessly, not sure if he heard you right.
"I need a date for Shelly's wedding, and I need you to set me up with someone you trust, please."
"You don't have a boyfriend?"
"No," you grumble out, and Matthew laughs at you. "It's not like you have a girlfriend or anything."
"Wow, look at you. Firing shots, huh?"
"Matthew, can you or can you not set me up with someone you know and trust?"
"Sure, I'll see who I can find."
"Great, thank you," you say and make your way to leave.
"Where are you going?" Matthew asks, furrowing his eyebrows.
"You just came here to ask me that and leave?"
"It's not like we're friends or anything," you say blatantly. Matthew is shocked by your words and takes a visible step back. He isn't sure why your words shocked him so much because he knows you're both not friends. He knows for a fact you're both not friends but hearing you actually say it after all these years is shocking to him.
"Right, not friends. You can leave then. You can take your cookies back."
"No, no, I made them for you. I know they're your favorite. Thanks, again, Matthew."
"Sure, sure," he says as you walk out the door. He locks the door behind you and is instantly confused why he hates that you're both not friends. He knows you’re not friends. Both his and your actions over the past years have proven it, but he thought — he actually doesn't know what he thought. As the season came to an end, Matthew had another task at hand — finding someone for you to take as a date even though he knows no one he knows is good enough for you.
. . .
Matthew was sitting at the bar with his teammates sizing them all up wondering which one would be good enough for you to have as a date. There was Noah; Matthew guesses he could be okay with you with him, but Matthew knows you could do better. There was Jacob, and Matthew knew he'd treat you well. Maybe he should ask Jacob if he'd join you as a date.
"Matthew, why do you keep staring at us?" Noah asks.
"I have someone I know who needs help finding a date for a wedding this summer," Matthew explains. "This person I know asked if I could set them up with someone I know and trust."
"Do you need a guy? If so, then go with Jacob. He'll treat your friend, right," Elias says.
"Yn's not my friend," Matthew is quick to say.
"Is she someone you’re more than friends with?" Noah asks with a smirk on his face.
"No, absolutely not," Matthew says as he vehemently shakes his head. "No, we've hated each other since we were like ten."
"Why are you helping her, then?"
Matthew just stares at Noah. Why was he helping you? You both weren’t friends, as you made abundantly clear the other day. Matthew didn’t know why he was helping you. You were a long-time family friend and by far one of the most amazing people he’s ever met. But, that didn’t answer the question as to why he was helping you. You were someone amazing, yet Matthew still can’t seem to pinpoint why he was helping you. Matthew knows that if he doesn’t help you Chantal would have his head. Maybe, just maybe, it was the small, no large, crush he’s harbored for you since you were both ten. Maybe, just maybe, he truly, deep down cared about who you dated if it couldn’t be him. “I’m not sure,” Matthew deflects knowing fully why he was helping you.
“Maybe you should strike her a deal,” Mark mentions. “You find her a date for the wedding, and she finds you a date for the End-of-Year Charity Gala.”
Matthew perks his head up towards his captain. He forgot about the Gala.
“Oh no, Matthew has a smirk on his face. What’s your idea?” Noah says suspiciously.
“Nothing,” Matthew says, not losing his smirk. He has one splendid idea that he is sure to solve both your dating issues.
. . .
Matthew: I have a date for you. He’ll come over tomorrow at 5 pm with flowers, okay?
Yn: Okay, sounds good! I can’t wait to meet him.
Matthew: You’ll love him.
Matthew knows you won’t. Based on what his plan was, he knew you wouldn’t like it. He only hoped you wouldn’t slap him across the face.
. . .
The day after Matthew texted you and said when your date would show up, you were nervous. Incredibly nervous. You hoped that, for once, Matthew wouldn’t be an ass and set you up with someone nice. You were pacing around your kitchen and 4:58 pm when the doorbell rang. You stood up straight and took a deep breath. You could do this. You weren’t going to actually date the guy; you were just going to ask him to accompany you to a wedding back home and that was it. You walked over to the door and took a deep breath before opening the door.
“Matthew?” you ask in disbelief as you lock eyes with Matthew’s striking blue eyes. You give him a once-over and notice he’s wearing a white shirt, a tight shirt that fits him way too well, and black dress pants. What was with the fancy wear? You meet his eyes again, and you’re met with his eyes full of love, happiness, and worry as they stare deep into your eyes. You’ve yet to ever see this mix of emotion in Matthew’s eyes when he looks at you, and it sends a shiver down your spine. You and Matthew continue staring deeply into each other’s eyes, both not wanting to break the trance you’ve found yourself in.
“Hey, Yn,” Matthew finally says, realizing who he was looking at. He hands you the bouquet of your favorite flowers. “These are for you.”
“Oh, um, come in,” you say and usher him inside. You hate him, Yn. Stop with these emotions, you keep telling yourself. Why did he suddenly have this effect on you? Matthew walks into your apartment, takes his shoes off, and sits on a chair at your counter. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m your date,” Matthew says nervously, but you still see the love lining his eyes as you speak. You haven’t seen that look directed to you in a while.
“No, absolutely not. We hate each other, remember? Why would I suddenly bring you as a date?”
“Look, before you go crazy, just listen to what I have to say, okay?” Matthew asks softly. You nod and turn away to put the flowers in a vase. You make sure your back is to Matthew because you don’t want him to see how flustered you are by his soft tone towards you.
After placing the flowers in a vase and placing it on the coffee table, you say, “Okay, Matthew, what do you have to say?”
“You know how at the end of the season, the Flames have an End-of-Year Charity Gala?” you shake your head no, and Matthew chuckles softly, and your faith grows warm. “Well, we have one, and I need to bring a date.”
“So, what if we pretend to date? Like, you come with me to the gala, and I go with you to Shelly’s wedding,” Matthew proposes nervously.
“Why would you want that, Matthew? You hate me.”
“I don’t — I couldn’t ha— you know what? It doesn’t matter. Look, you need a date, and I need a date, so why don’t we just go together and solve both our problems?”
“Matthew, I don’t know.”
“Yn, come on. What’s stopping you?”
“You hate me, Matthew,” you tell him softly, not meeting Matthew’s eyes.
Matthew sighs. He could never hate you. He never really hated you; he just had to pretend to hate you because of how he felt. When Matthew was ten, he realized that he had a crush on you. He realized he like liked you, and he didn’t know what to do about it, so he just ignored you and was mean to you. Unfortunately, over the years, Matthew couldn’t let go of those feelings, and he fell more and more for you as he watched you grow into the beautiful person you are now. Seeing you walk into this apartment with the cookies the other day, Matthew realized that he was still hopelessly in love with you. At first, Matthew thought that he could find a date for you. He could find someone who was perfect for you because everyone knows that he could never be it for you, but, as he began going through his list of friends, he realized that even they weren’t good enough for you. Matthew knew you’d never feel the same way about him, but if Matthew can have you as a fake girlfriend, then that’s what he’ll have, then. “We both don’t want to find a date for our events, so why don’t we just pretend to date, then?”
You look at Matthew and see the sincerity in his eyes. You see the longing and want for you to say yes. You’ve always loved looking into Matthew’s eyes and seeing the emotion in them. You’ve never seen this kind of emotion directed towards you. You see the longing and sadness and wishing for you to say yes; however, you also see love? You couldn’t possibly be seeing that in his eyes. Could you? “Okay,” you whisper, suddenly being overwhelmed with what you saw laced in Matthew’s eyes and facial expressions.
“Okay?” Matthew asks, confirming because he was in disbelief.
“Yeah, okay. We can fake date.”
Matthew rushes over to you and wraps you in a giant hug. “Thank you,” he whispers as he holds you tightly.
“Of course, Matthew. You had a good idea that helped us both.”
Matthew leaves shortly after with a fake girlfriend and a wide smile on his face. He only hoped that he wouldn’t fall harder for you now that he’s finally somehow got you.
. . .
Matthew came over two weeks later, one day before the Flames’ last game, to sort out the terms of your and Matthew’s fake dating ruse. You weren’t sure why you agreed to this. No one back home would believe that you and Matthew were dating. You both have hated each other for as long as you can remember. Everyone would be shocked that you and Matthew can possibly stand to be in the same room together. The fact that you moved to the same city was also a giant shock to everyone. Not a single person would believe it, but why did your heart suddenly race when you thought of you and Matthew fake dating? Why did your pulse quicken at the thought of being on Matthew’s arm at the Gala? Why did you enjoy the cheeky messages Matthew has been sending you and telling you that he was trying to “fill the role perfectly”? Why did your heart hurt when you realized it was all fake?
“I brought some takeout, is that good?” Matthew asks as he steps into your apartment. In his hands, he has a bag of food from your favorite restaurant in Calgary and another bouquet. You take the bag of food and the flowers from his hand, and Matthew goes into your cupboards to find some plates. The domesticity of the situation made your heart lurch through your chest, but you still weren’t sure why.
“That’s perfect, thanks, Matthew,” you tell him with a smile as Matthew sets the plates down on the counter. You place the flowers in another vase and put them next to the flowers Matthew brought previously that were probably ready to be tossed. “You don’t have to buy me flowers every time you come by.”
“Firstly, it’s been like two times, and secondly, let me treat you, okay? I am your boyfriend, after all, so I might as treat you as you deserve to be treated,” Matthew tells you as if he was preaching fact. He talked to you as if he didn’t hate you your entire life and only just started liking you.
“Fake boyfriend,” you correct. You want to make sure that the parameters of your relationship are clearly defined.
“You tell that to Shelly? That you and I are fake dating?” Matthew asks with a smirk.
“I told her I had a date, and I was going to tell her it was you, but she told me to surprise her on her wedding day. I’m convinced she thinks I don’t have a date,” you tell Matthew and take a bite of food. You moan in delight, and Matthew grins knowing he picked the perfect meal for you. “How did you know this was my favorite?”
Matthew shrugs, but a playful smile is a dead giveaway that he has an explanation. “I guess I just know you really well.”
“That’s ridiculous, Matthew. You do not know me at all. I’ve changed since you stopped being my friend when we were ten.”
“Hey! I did not stop being your friend. You stopped being my friend,” Matthew feigns hurt even though he knows your words are right.
“Matthew, I stopped being your friend because you stopped being friends with me.”
“That’s not how I remember it,” Matthew mumbles and opting to look down at his plate instead of at you where he’d much rather be looking.
“You stopped being my friend after we graduated from elementary school. I remember that the third Sunday dinner we had that summer was the first time you stopped sitting next to me, and I knew that you were officially not my friend anymore.”
“You sure that’s what happened, Yn? Are you sure that it wasn’t you who stopped being my friend?”
“I always sat in the same middle seat, Matthew. You opted to sit in Brady’s seat instead.”
“Fine, whatever. Agree to disagree?”
“Sure, sure, even though I’m right.”
Matthew laughs at your words and shakes his head. “How we were ever friends baffles me because we are both so stubborn.”
“That we are,” you agree, and a comfortable silence fills your kitchen as you and Matthew continue to eat.
“You know,” Matthew says breaking the silence, “I do know you better than you think.”
“As do I,” you tell him not meeting his eye. You always were quite observant of Matthew despite you two not being friends anymore. There was something about him that made you want to look at him. No, it probably wasn’t because of how gorgeous he was.
“Okay, you tell me something about myself, then.”
“What do you want me to say?”
“I don’t know, Yn; you just say something.”
“But I want you to tell me what you want me to say,” you tease.
“I’m starting to think you don’t know anything about me,” Matthew gives you his signature smirk.
“I’m starting to think the same about you.”
Matthew sighs and shakes his head. “How about we talk about our situation instead?”
“Our ruse?” you tease and quirk your eyebrows.
“Sure, our ruse,” Matthew says, not sure why you had that look on your face. “What is our story? We could just say we hooked up and realized that we liked each other.”
“As much as that story is believable, I don’t think that Shelly will believe that. Why don’t we go with something else? How about: I was lonely in the city and needed someone familiar, so I called you, and the rest just fell together.”
“I don’t think they’ll believe that,” Matthew says. As much as he loves and thinks it’s a good story, he’d very much rather have a bit more romantic and loving story, so Matthew can have the fake relationship he’d always wanted with you.
“Oh, come on, Matthew, it’s perfect!” you pout, and Matthew knows he’s going to bend for you because it’s you. He always bent to your will regardless of whether or not you knew it.
“Fine, we’ll use your story. How long have we been dating?”
“Why don’t we just keep it vague to minimize any questions? Should we say a few months now? Anything longer will be suspicious, and anything shorter would be weird. The most we can say is three to three and a half months because when I talked to Shelly about two months ago, she was under the impression I wasn’t seeing anyone.”
“Okay, fair. You know,” Matthew says with a smirk, “the fact that you’re able to throw together the perfect fake-dating story makes me think that you’ve done this before.”
You burst out laughing. “You seriously think that? I thought you knew me.”
“I do know you.”
“Then you’d know I’m a hopeless romantic, and the amount of times I’ve read fake dating romance novels is unbelievable. The only thing, though, is that our story won’t end up with us dating but with us maybe being friends.”
“Right,” Matthew says, and he looks down at his plate sadly realizing you truly didn’t feel the same way.
“I’m sorry, did I say anything wrong?” you apologize. You weren’t sure why Matthew suddenly got upset, but you thought it couldn’t have possibly been your words. How could it? You and Matthew have hated each other for years. It’d be ridiculous to think that this ruse would end in an actual relationship.
“No, not at all. Don’t worry,” Matthew sends you a soft smile, and your stomach does somersaults. “What about physical stuff?”
You glare at Matthew trying to figure out exactly what he was asking for in this fake relationship. “Explain because if you’re trying to sleep with me, it’s not happening.”
“No, Yn, of course not! That’s not what I meant!” Matthew replies shocked that you’d even bring up the notion. “No, I meant like holding hands, my arms wrapped around you, kissing and stuff like that. Things that couples do, you know?”
“Oh, yeah, um, I guess we could hold hands and touch each other to keep up the facade, but only in public.”
Matthew nods. “Only in public.”
You make moves to clear the table, but Matthew stops you and clears the table for you. “Sit, I’ll take care of it.”
“Matthew —” you begin.
“Nope, my fake girlfriend doesn’t need to clear her table, so sit down.”
“Maybe you should be my fake-boyfriend forever if you’re going to be clearing my table and stuff like this.”
“I mean if you’d like,” Matthew smirks and sends you a wink. He continues cleaning up by placing the dishes in the dishwasher and placing the leftovers in a Tupperware container and inside the fridge. You’re watching him concentrate on the task at hand, and suddenly, you’re drawn to his lips. You were drawn to the way he bit his lip in concentration and licked the bottom lip now and then. You watched the way he’d stop biting his lips and realize that you want to be the one to bite his lip. You wanted to kiss Matthew.
“Hey, um, Matthew?” you begin hesitantly.
“Mmm,” he replies looking up.
“Should we, um, kiss?” your eyes don’t meet Matthew’s, and you’re intent on staring at the tiles on the floor of your kitchen instead.
“I mean, sure, when we’re out in public. It’d be weird if we didn’t, right?”
“Right,” you nod knowingly and happy that Matthew didn’t realize the true meaning of your request. You look up and notice him watching you curiously. The sparkle in his eyes makes your face warm under his gaze, and you know that he’s figured out what you were truly thinking.
“Or,” he begins with a smirk, “we could practice now, so we know what to do when we kiss in front of people.”
“I think that’s a good idea,” you whisper, barely audible.
Matthew, being the pest he is, smirks at your words and asks you to repeat them. “I couldn’t hear you, baby. I need you to repeat it.”
“I think that we should practice kissing,” you say again, slightly louder, but Matthew’s shit-eating grin tells you that you’re going to have to repeat yourself.
“Come on, baby, I need to hear you loud and clear,” he walks over to you, and you shift in your seat to face him. You stand up, so you’re level with him (as much as you can be considering his height), and Matthew puts his hands on your waist. “This okay?” he asks, and you nod, but when he raises his eyebrows, you know you have to give him audible consent.
“Yes, Matthew, and I think that you should kiss me,” you tell him loud and clear. Matthew’s grin widens, and he dips his head towards yours. You put your hands around his neck, and he pulls you closer to him.
“This okay?” he asks with concern lacing his features. He didn’t want to overstep any boundaries with you.
“More than okay,” you reply and lean towards him. Matthew dips his head towards yours and places his lips softly on yours. He planned on pulling back and that being the end of the kiss, but his instincts and strong desire to kiss you stopped him. Matthew’s hands leave your waist and cup your face. He holds you forcefully but also gently. You both deepen the kiss, and your mouth separates as Matthew works his mouth against yours. Your tongue swipes against his bottom lip begging to meet his. Matthew puts his hands back on your waist and pulls you close and flush against his body. There’s no space between the two of you, not a single inch of air. You both pull away after the kiss crossed the line between what your relationship truly was. You both pull away but your heads are still close to each other. You’re looking into Matthew’s blue eyes that are laced with longing and desire. You watch Matthew’s eyes glance down to your lips as you long for his lips to be on yours again.
“We have the practice, now,” Matthew says in a deep voice, almost huskily.
“That we do,” you reply softly.
“I didn’t hurt you, right?”
“Absolutely not, Matthew. I would have slapped you if you stepped out of line,” you tell him, and Matthew’s deep chuckle sends the butterflies erupting in your stomach. You take a step back from Matthew and sit back in your chair. “Maybe if we kiss in front of people, it shouldn’t be that deep and passionate.”
“Yeah, maybe not,” Matthew tells you. He loved kissing you. Now that he’s kissed you, he doesn’t want to kiss anyone else. He wants to keep kissing you for as long as you would possibly let him. “Oh, that reminds me.”
“I may or may not have let the cat slip out of the bag that I had a girlfriend, and now the team is expecting you to be at the last game tomorrow and our celebration.”
“I know, I know, I wasn’t supposed to. I didn’t mean to, it just slipped out!”
“How does it just slip out?”
“Some people asked if I had a date for the Gala, and I said I was bringing my girlfriend.”
“So, I have to go to the game tomorrow?”
“Please?” Matthew pouts. “I’ll owe you big time.”
“You already owe me big time,” you point out.
“Fine, just come to the game tomorrow? You don’t have to wear my jersey or anything, just come?”
“I’ll be there, and if you give me a jersey, I’ll wear it, okay? Or, I can just wear Brady’s.”
“No, never. Wait, why do you have Brady’s jersey and not mine?”
“Doesn’t matter.”
“Sure, I have to go, but I’ll see you tomorrow?” Matthew asks as he walks over to the door. You walk with him and unlock the door.
“See you tomorrow, fake boyfriend,” you tell him and place a kiss on his cheek.
“Tomorrow, fake girlfriend,” Matthew says and walks out the door. When the door is closed, he places his hands on his cheek where you kissed him. He touches his lips softly remembering how you kissed him just recently. Just remembering your mouth being anywhere near his face made him melt. Matthew was digging himself into a hole he only hoped he’d be able to escape from.
. . .
You walked up to the Friends & Family box still trying to recover from Matthew kissing you barely twenty-four hours prior. You didn’t have Matthew’s jersey to wear, so you opted for a red shirt with jeans and a leather jacket. You’ve also never met anyone on the team before, so you were scared as to what they would say.
You stepped into the box and were instantly overwhelmed with what you saw. All the other wives and girlfriends and children were mingling around, and you felt out of place. One of the WAGs walked over to you, and said, “You must be Yn, Matthew’s girlfriend.”
You nodded, “Yeah, that would be me.”
“I’m Annica, Elias’s girlfriend. Don’t worry about being nervous or whatever, Matthew is crazy about you, so we’re automatically crazy about you, too! Everyone, this is Yn, Matthew’s girlfriend.”
You stood there as everyone introduced themselves, and you maybe remembered two of those names.
“Matthew left you a jersey because he knew you didn’t have one,” Lauren, Mark’s wife, tells you. She hands you the jersey, and you look at it. Were you supposed to put it on? “You can just put it on over your shirt and leave your jacket on a chair.”
You nod. You put on the jersey and look down at the number on your sleeve. You smiled. You liked the way it looked on you.
Watching the game with the other girls was interesting and exciting. You chatted with the other women and played with the children. It was exhilarating to be in the Saddledome during a game, especially the last of the season. You haven’t been to a game in Calgary despite living there. Every time the Tkachuks came to town, you always told them you couldn’t go to the game. It didn’t feel right, but now that you’ve been to a game, you wanted to keep coming to the games. The Flames ended up coming out on top to celebrate their final game, and the arena was loud and bursting with happiness. You followed behind as everyone walked to outside the locker rooms to wait for the team. You stood awkwardly, not sure what to do. You played with your jacket in your hand just as Matthew walked out. He spotted you instantly, and his heart lurched through his chest as he saw you in his jersey. His eyes widened at seeing his number on your arm, and if possible, he fell more in love with you.
“Hey,” he says as he walks over. You look up and give him a wide smile.
“Hi,” you tell him and pull your fake boyfriend into a large hug as you whisper in his ear, “you played amazing.”
Your words send shivers down Matthew’s spine, and he holds you tightly. “Thank you.”
You both pull away and notice some of Matthew’s teammates and significant others greeting each other with congratulatory kisses. Were you both supposed to kiss? “Should we kiss, Matthew?” you whisper.
“What?” he whispers back, not sure if he heard you properly.
“You heard me, should we kiss? Everyone else is.”
“Do you want me to kiss you?”
“Would it be awkward if we didn’t?”
“I’m going to kiss you, okay?” Matthew doesn’t wait for your response as he hungrily leans down and kisses you. Despite kissing you yesterday, Matthew was waiting earnestly for the day he’d get to kiss you again. It wasn’t as passionate as the night before, but somehow, it was even more intimate despite being in public. You both full away flushed with the kiss, and Matthew’s teammates holler around you both. “Oh, shut up.”
Matthew leads you to his car and holds your hand. “Did you want to come to celebrate with us?” he leans down to whisper in your ear.
“I thought that was part of this,” you tell him.
“Yeah, but not everyone is going out, so if you don’t want to, we can just head to my place.”
“We can go to your place, then.”
“Okay,” Matthew says to you and opens the car door for you. He closes the door and heads towards the driver’s side. When he gets in, he asks, “How did you get here if I’m driving you home?”
“Oh, I walked because I don’t work too far from here,” you explain, and Matthew whips his heat towards you. “What?”
“You walked? Do you not have a car?” he asks as if the notion were beyond him.
“Yeah, it was like ten minutes.”
“If you didn’t have a ride or something, I would have sent someone to pick you up.”
“I walk to work, Matthew.”
“You walk? No, from now on, I will be driving you to work and wherever you need to be.”
You giggle to yourself softly. “I have a car, but I just walk to work because it’s only five minutes.”
“No, I refuse to let you walk to work.”
“Matthew,” you say gently and place your hand on his thigh. “I’m fine, I promise, okay?”
Matthew looks at the soft look in your eyes and the anger he has dissipated. “Okay, but if you ever need a ride somewhere, please just let me know, and I’ll drive you, okay?”
“Okay, but I do have a car, you know,” you tell him, and Matthew starts the car and heads towards his apartment. Why was Matthew so concerned and angry about the fact that you don’t drive to work? You ponder the thought and are so deep in trying to figure it out that you don’t realize that you’ve reached Matthew’s apartment until he tells you so.
“You okay?” Matthew asks as you’re standing in the elevator.
“Yeah, I’m fine, why?”
“Not sure, you seem kind of spaced out.”
“Oh, no, I’m okay.”
“Promise?” Matthew asks.
“Promise,” you reply with a smile.
You and Matthew walk into his apartment, and your breath is taken away by the view of Matthew’s apartment. You take your shoes off and just stand there staring. You drop your purse and bag on the floor and walk over to the window in a trance.
“Yn, you good?” Matthew asks, confused about your actions.
“It’s just so pretty, Matthew,” you say and reach for your phone in your back pocket and take a photo. Matthew can’t help but smile at your actions. Sure, the view was pretty to him, but he saw it each day, so it wasn’t as special to him. Watching you take in the view, though, gave Matthew a new insight into how pretty the view truly was. Maybe, just maybe, Matthew was staring at you, looking beautiful with the dim lighting of his living room and wearing his jersey, instead of the view, but it didn’t matter. It was beautiful, and if he was talking about you? Then, so be it!
“I’m just going to get changed real quick, okay?” Matthew asks. He didn’t want to leave you standing there alone, but he knows he won’t be comfortable in his suit. “I can stay if you want.”
You giggle to yourself. “I can take care of myself, you know.”
“Yeah, I know, but —”
“Go,” you push Matthew in the direction of his room. “I’ll be fine.” Matthew looks behind him once more to you; you give him a pointed look, and Matthew walks to his room to change.
You settle yourself on the couch and sit there staring at the TV stand. On it are sitting picture frames with photos of Matthew’s family and friends. One photo, in particular, stands out to you. You get up and walk to the photo and smile at it. You pick it up and stare at it. It was a photo of Brady, Taryn, Matthew, your brother, and you. You don’t remember the photo being taken but it was around when you were six or seven. You were sitting at the table in Tkachuk's backyard before dinner. Matthew was sitting on your right, as he should, and with Taryn on your left.
“Find anything interesting?” Matthew asks as he walks out. He walks over to you and rests an arm around your shoulder.
“I’m surprised you have a photo of me sitting here,” you tell him and look at him.
“Why?” Matthew furrows his eyebrows in confusion.
“I just, I don’t know.”
Matthew walks over to the couch and sits. You place the photo back on the stand and join him. You sit next to him on your right, and Matthew, again, rests an arm around your shoulder. “I have photos of the important people in my life.”
Matthew turns on the TV and begins flipping through Netflix. He selects one of your favorite movies, and you’re surprised he knows it, but then again, Matthew seems to know more about you than you realized.
As the movie continues, you and Matthew move closer and closer together to the point where you’re cuddled into him and your head moves in sync with Matthew’s breathing. The warmth that Matthew’s body exudes and the pattern of his breaths put you to sleep. When Matthew notices you’ve fallen asleep, he doesn’t want to wake you, so he tightens his hold on you and grabs the blanket that was sitting over the couch (he silently thanks his mom for making him put it there), and he places it on you. He softly kisses your forehead with a soft, ”goodnight, Yn.”
. . .
The next morning, after you’ve woken up, eaten breakfast that Matthew made for you, and left for the day, Matthew was on his way to the Saddledome for the exit interviews of the season. It didn’t end the way the team wanted, but they fought tooth and nail until the last game, and they should be proud of that.
As Matthew walks into the locker room, he has a soft smile on his face of pure bliss.
“So, what did you and Yn do last night?” Noah teases when he sees his teammate. “You’re never one to turn down a night out.”
“I didn’t go out because Yn didn’t want to. I think she was overwhelmed with meeting everyone, and I just wanted her to be comfortable.”
“Wow, Matthew, look at you maturing for the better,” Mark teases. He was waiting for the day that Matthew would meet a girl and act this way for her.
“Whatever,” Matthew rolls his eyes.
“Matthew’s in looooove,” someone teases and everyone else laughs in response. Matthew, again, just rolls his eyes in response. He had no other response.
Matthew only wishes that the person he was in love with was him, too.
. . .
You’re standing outside Matthew’s apartment door with your dress in your hand with a bag of the things you needed to get ready over your shoulder. You took a deep breath. You weren’t sure why you were so nervous, but you were. You were about to ring the doorbell, but Matthew opened the door first.
“How did you know I was here?” you ask as you walk into his apartment.
“I mean, I had to buzz you into the building, so I was waiting for you,” Matthew says as if it were obvious.
“You can shower first. I probably take less time than you to get ready, so you can shower first.”
You nod. “Okay, can I hang up my dress in your closet?”
“Yeah, of course. What color is it? I probably should have asked before, so that we could match.”
You smile. “It’s a lavender color. I doubt you own anything lavender.”
“My mom bought me a lavender dress shirt for Christmas, so, yes, I do own something lavender.”
You giggle to yourself softly and head into his bedroom to hand up your dress. You walk into his washroom and set your things there. “Thank you, Matthew.”
“No need to thank me,” he tells you. “I left you towels and stuff. Just let me know when I can shower, okay?”
You nod. You’re not sure why you’re suddenly at a loss for words. What was it with Matthew?
After you showered, Matthew told you that, if you were comfortable, you could use the washroom as he showered. You told him it was fine and began styling your hair just as Matthew was showering. You were halfway done when you heard Matthew turn off the water. You watch him from the corner of your eye as he grabs the towel from behind the shower curtain. You try to calm your breathing as you watch Matthew step out of the shower with the towel wrapped low on his hips and his broad shoulders and chest lined with water droplets. He stands next to you and begins to moisturize his face. You feel your face warm as you stand next to him.
Matthew walks out of the washroom, but he stops at the door and turns to you. “I’ll get ready in my bedroom, and you can get ready here. Just let me know when you’re ready, and I’ll let you change in the bedroom.”
“Thanks, Matthew.”
“Sure,” he says and takes one step out of the washroom before stopping again. “Hey, yn?”
“Yes?” you turn to him.
“Your hair looks really pretty.”
“I haven’t finished, yet,” you point out.
“Fine, but I know for a fact that you’re going to look so incredibly beautiful.”
. . .
You put on your shoes and look at yourself once more in the mirror. You observe the way you look and take a deep breath. You take your steps out of the bedroom, and Matthew stands when he hears the clack of your heels. Matthew takes a deep breath, getting ready to see how beautiful you will undoubtedly look.
“Hey,” you say and stand in front of Matthew. You smile, and your breath stops when you see Matthew. He’s wearing a lavender shirt that matches your dress with a black tie, jacket, and pants. His clothes fit him perfectly, and it displays his body just the way clothes should.
“Hey,” he replies, and his breath stops, too. You were beautiful. The lavender gown hung on your body perfectly, and it accentuated each and every curve of your body perfectly. The color brought out your eyes, and they shone in the light. The dim light of Matthew’s apartment reflected off the design and details of your dress that Matthew knew he was going to be speechless when the light of the ballroom truly lit you up. “You’re beautiful, Yn. Gorgeous, yn!”
“Thank you,” you say bashfully and walk over to your fake boyfriend. You place your hands on his chest and straighten his tie. “You look amazing, too, Matthew.”
Matthew’s breath is shallow as you run your hands on his chest. His heart is beating through his chest, and he knows that he’s going to have to use all his energy and brainpower not to stare at you the entire night. You stop and rest your hands on his chest. “Ready to go?” you ask.
Matthew audibly swallows at your touch. “Yeah,” he says in a low voice. He takes your hand and leads you towards the door. “Did you want to put your stuff in your car and drive home, or do you want to just stay the night and drive home in the morning?”
“Can I stay the night?”
“Yeah, yeah, of course,” Matthew won’t admit it, but he wanted you to stay the night.
As Matthew drives to the location of the Gala, he continues taking peeks at you. He isn’t sure what he’s done to get someone as beautiful as you as his date, but he’s thanking any and every higher being for blessing him with you.
Throughout the entire night, Matthew has to force himself to leave you for moments every now and then to do his job. It was difficult. He wanted to be right by your side and show the world how lucky he got to be right next to you. You were the star, and Matthew was one of your many admirers. When Matthew wasn’t talking to donors and was right next to you, he found it difficult to speak. When you’d ask a question or make a comment, Matthew would take a few seconds to reply because of you. Your laughter, your smile, and your perfume were intoxicating, and Matthew wasn’t sure how he would make it through the rest of the night.
Annica wanted to grab another drink from the bar, so you went with her. Matthew, reluctantly, removed his hand from the small of your back and watched you lovingly as you went off with Annica. When he lost sight of you, Matthew finally turned his attention back to the group at the table.
“Yeah, you’re definitely not whipped for her and in love with her,” Elias says.
“Matthew not in love, who?” Noah jokes.
“Oh, shut up,” Matthew says. It didn’t matter if he was in love with you because you weren’t in love with him.
“Look, the minute Yn comes back, Matthew is going to put a hand on her, either on her shoulder or on her back, smile down at her, and pull her close to him. I guarantee it,” Jacob says. He was watching the two of you interact the entire night, and he knows that this will happen as it happened every time you and Matthew got separated.
“I see your point, and I raise you with this: he’s going to lean down and kiss Yn on the forehead,” Johnny adds.
“I see both your points, and I raise you with this: Matthew’s going to look at Yn, and she’s going to look at him, and they will both smile widely at each other,” Elias points out.
“Are you guys betting again?” Mark asks as he settles himself at the table as he’s making his rounds.
“Kind of. We’re trying to figure out how Yn and Matthew are going to act when she returns,” Noah explains.
“Oh, drop the subject,” Matthew says, annoyed.
“I’m not sure what has been said, but I guess that Matthew will be so enthralled by his date that everything in the world will fade away,” Mark says, “because that’s what a person in love does.”
“Look, I’m not in love with Yn, okay? Can we just drop the subject before Yn and Annica return?” Matthew replies exasperatedly.
Everyone agrees, but they all know that they will be monitoring your and Matthew’s actions when you return. Just a few moments later, you and Annica are returning to the table with a refill of drinks. You settle in next to Matthew and place a glass of wine down for you and a glass of beer for him.
“You were empty, so I got you a refill,” you tell him.
“Thank you,” he says to you and places a hand on the small of your back where it was before you left. You lean in further to him, and Matthew smiles down at you as you engage in conversation with Mark. Matthew places a soft kiss on your forehead, and you look up and smile at Matthew who smiles back at you. Elias mentions Matthew’s name, but Matthew is too soaked up in your presence to notice. The group is shocked. Every single one of them guessed correctly what Matthew would do when you returned.
“Well, if you’ll excuse me,” Mark begins, “I’m going to go ask the Mrs. for a dance.”
Elias and Annica leave, too, and head to the dance floor. You stand there awkwardly wondering if you and Matthew should dance. Matthew leans his head towards yours and whispers, “Do you want to dance, Yn?”
You look at Matthew and nod with a smile. Matthew takes your hand and leads you to the dance floor. He takes one hand in his and the other rests on the bare skin of your upper back. You place your other hand not in Matthew’s on his shoulder and move close to him. You both sway to the music that’s playing. As you both continue to dance, Matthew’s hand draws soft patterns on your skin sending electric shocks through your body. As the song comes to an end, the bubble you and Matthew found yourself in slowly pops, and you return to reality. It didn’t matter how special dancing with each other was, you were both not truly dating. You were living a lie, and you knew it would hurt when, one day, the ruse was over. You only hoped that you could salvage your feelings and not hurt your heart too much. You weren’t sure, though, what you were trying to save your heart from.
. . .
“Ready to head home?” Matthew whispers into your ear as you’re talking with some of the WAGs. You nod and say goodbye to the ladies. Matthew wraps his suit jacket around your shoulders as he notices you’re cold and takes your hand in his. “Thank you for being my date.”
You smile. “Thank you for taking me. I had a lot of fun.”
“I had a lot of fun with the beautiful person as my date.”
“Oh, beautiful person? Who may they be?” you tease.
“They’re you, of course. The most beautiful of people.”
“You flatter me, Matthew.”
“You deserve all the compliments in the world, Yn,” Matthew squeezes your hand and opens the car door for you. You smile in gratitude as he closes the door and heads to the driver's side. You smile in happiness at the evening you had. Matthew intertwines his hand with yours as he drives. With the late hour and the comfort of Matthew’s hand, you feel your eyes drift closed. You didn’t mean to fall asleep, but you did.
“Yn? You have to wake up; we’re back at my apartment, now,” Matthew says softly as he strokes your face softly to wake you.
You slowly open your eyes, and your lips quirk up at the sound of Matthew’s soft voice. You nod and move to get out of the car.
“No, no, I’ll get the door for you,” Matthew interrupts. You’re too tired to argue, so you just let Matthew rush out of the car to open the door for you. Matthew leads you back to his apartment and ushers you into his bedroom. “You can sleep here, and I’ll take the guest room.”
“No, Matthew, I’ll take the guest room,” you interject.
“No, Yn. You did me the biggest favor by coming as my date tonight, so you can take my bed.”
“Matthew —” you were going to point out that you were taking him to Shelly’s wedding, but he wasn’t going to change his mind.
“Yn, just take the bed, okay? You can grab a shirt and sweatpants to wear to bed.”
You nod, and Matthew walks out of the room with clothes for himself. He closes the door quietly behind him as he heads to the guest room. His one wish was that he was sleeping in that bed with you instead of you there alone.
. . .
“Yn, come on, we have to go,” Matthew says, standing in your kitchen and waiting for you to be ready to leave.
“Just give me a moment. We’ve got quite a bit of time, still.”
“You know, you’re the one who told me I had to be here at exactly this time, Yn, so you should be ready to go.”
You walk out of your bedroom lugging your suitcase and purse. Matthew rushes over to you and takes your suitcase out of your hand. In the process, Matthew’s hand brushes over yours, and you hear your heartbeat in your ears as the heat rushes to your face. “Let me just make sure that all the windows are closed and that I unplugged everything.”
When you return and are completely ready to go, you lock the door to your apartment and head to Matthew’s car. He opens the trunk to place your suitcase in, and as usual, Matthew opens the car door for you.
“You know, you don’t have to always open the car door for me, right?” you tell him.
“Just doing what any boyfriend would,” Matthew points out. “Fake or not.”
“Right,” you say. It’s been a while since you or he pointed out the fakeness of your relationship, and you almost forgot. Almost. Matthew turns to you and opens his mouth to say something, but he isn’t sure how to put his thoughts into words. How is he supposed to ask if you’re upset that he pointed out that you were both fake dating despite that being the obvious title between you two? You reach to turn on some music to try to ease the awkwardness in the car. You put on Taylor Swift, and Matthew groans in response.
“You know the way Taryn and I were growing up; I can’t believe you’re shocked.”
“I thought you’d show me some mercy, you know as your boyfriend?”
“I show zero mercy.”
. . .
Going through checking in and security was a breeze. You got on the plane fine just, but the nerves immediately hit as the pilot announced that the doors were closing. Your leg begins to bounce up and down, and you begin to fiddle with your fingers. Matthew glances down at you and notices your nerves.
“You’ve been on a plane before, right?” he whispers.
You nod. “Just scary sometimes.”
He nods and places his hand on your thigh causing it to stop bouncing. You feel all your nerves suddenly dissipate. “I’m here, okay? Don’t worry.”
“Okay,” you whisper back. Matthew lifts the armrest between you both and scoots closer to you. He pulls you into his side, so you’re leaning against him. You rest your head on his shoulder, and Matthew takes your hand in his.
“It’s not a long flight. You’ll be okay.”
. . .
“Hey, you have to wake up,” Matthew whispers as he strokes your head softly. Your eyes flutter open. You didn’t realize you fell asleep on Matthew during the flight. “Sleep well?”
“Yeah,” you yawn.
Matthew smiles softly at you. “You slept through the flight, so that’s good.”
“Oh, we landed?”
He chuckles. “Yeah, let’s get off this plane, what do you say?”
You grab your purse from under the seat in front of you, and Matthew grabs his carry-on from the overhead bin. He packed significantly more than you because he wasn’t flying home with you. Matthew would be staying in St. Louis until he flies back to Calgary for training camp.
Matthew extends his hand for you, and you take it. He walks into the aisle first with one hand holding his bag and the other behind him holding your hand. You both exit the plane and head towards customs and baggage claims.
You take a deep breath once you’re in line for customs. You knew this day would come, but you didn’t realize the nerves that would come with it. Would you be able to survive this week with Matthew?
. . .
“You go in first and get us settled; I’ll pay for the taxi,” you tell Matthew when your taxi pulls up to the hotel.
“Nope, you go in; I pay,” Matthew counters.
“Matthew —”
“I am your boyfriend, no? Just let me do this.”
“Okay,” you relent softly and head into the hotel with your luggage in tow. You head to the check-in desk. There isn’t a line, and you get your room information and key quickly. You meet Matthew at where he’s standing and lead him towards the elevator door. You both wait for the elevator in silence and walk inside in the same silence. You lead him towards your eighth-floor room and walk inside. “I made sure to request two beds, so we don’t have to share.”
“Smart,” Matthew says. You unlock the door and walk inside. You groan when you see the layout of the room and what it contains — one bed.
“Oh,” you mumble. “Only one bed.”
“What? Oh,” Matthew says as he stands next to you.
“Let me call down and see if they have another room for us.”
Matthew nods. He was frozen solid at the thought of sleeping next to you. He watches as you walk over to the phone and call down to the front desk. You tell them your issue, and Matthew watches as you furrow your eyebrows in frustration. You end the call with a “thank you, it’s no problem” and look to Matthew.
“What’s the verdict?” Matthew asks.
“They have three wedding parties staying here and no extra room with two beds for us.”
“I can sleep on the floor,” Matthew suggests.
You shake your head. “We’re both adults. I’m sure we can sleep in the same bed without any issues arising.”
“Yeah, you’re right,” Matthew breathes out. His throat is dry and the words are barely forming on his tongue. You nod towards Matthew and begin unpacking. You hang up your dresses in the closet and line your shoes against the wall.
“Make sure you hang up your suit, so it doesn’t get wrinkly,” you remind Matthew as you head to the washroom to unpack your toiletries. Matthew nods and does what you say. He isn’t sure why he’s suddenly so nervous and clammy, but he figures it’s because you are both going to be sleeping in the same bed. You both move in sync with each other as you settle into the hotel room. Once Matthew has finished, he settles on the couch and turns the TV on. You awkwardly get on the couch, and Matthew chuckles at you.
It would be a restful night, right?
. . .
After meeting with the rest of the bridal party and making sure everything was perfect for the rehearsal the next day and the wedding the day after, you head into your hotel room and see Matthew sitting on the bed.
“Hey,” you say as you get ready to shower.
“How were your preparations?” he asks.
“Not bad. I’m tired, but it’s all worth it if Shelly gets the wedding of her dreams.”
Matthew nods.
“I’m going to take a shower and then go to bed; if that’s okay?”
“That’s perfectly fine,” Matthew replies as you head to the washroom to shower. While in the shower, you did everything in your power to prolong your time there because you knew that when you finished, you’d be going to sleep. You’d be going to be sleeping in the same bed as Matthew.
Once you’ve showered and gotten ready for the night, you walk out of the washroom and see Matthew standing next to the bed.
“I pulled out the blankets and stuff when I heard the tap turn off,” Matthew bashfully tells you when you notice the bed. “I figured you’re tired and stuff, so I was trying to help.”
You smile softly at the man. “Thank you, Matthew.”
He nods at your words. “What do we do now? Should we call down for more pillows and make, like, a pillow wall?”
“Um, I don’t think we have to do that. It’s big enough where we probably won’t get in each other’s way.”
“Yeah, probably,” Matthew lies. He isn’t sure if now is the right time to mention he’s an active sleeper and moves around a lot. “You can get in first.”
“Okay,” you say and move towards the bed. You get under the covers and sigh at the comfort of the bed. You lay on your back, a position that isn’t the most comfortable for you. When you’re done, Matthew gets under the covers, and he, too, lays on his back. You don’t think it’s the most comfortable for him, either. You lean over to turn the lights off, so the entire room is cascaded in darkness. “Good night, Matthew.”
“Night, Yn.”
You both lay there in awkward silence and stare up at the ceiling. What were you supposed to do? Were you supposed to talk to each other until the other fell asleep? Was it okay to face each other as you slept? What happened if you woke up in a compromising position? Would your friendship (was this a friendship?) be awkward? What would the morning be like? How awkward would it be? Should you be thinking about the fact that Matthew wasn’t wearing a shirt next to you? No, you shouldn’t be, but here you are thinking about Matthew’s bare chest.
You took a deep breath and hoped for sleep to easily overcome you.
Thankfully, it did. You fell asleep, and when your alarm went off, you were surprised you slept through the night. It was one of the best nights of sleep of your life. The pillows and blankets exuded this comfort and warmth that cocooned you and made it easy to fall asleep. When you opened your eyes, you were shocked by the sight in front of you. You blinked your eyes to make sure you weren’t still dreaming. Nope, you definitely weren’t dreaming.
Matthew Tkachuk, your fake boyfriend and boy who has hated you since you were ten, was cuddling you into his chest. Not only that, his arms were wound tightly around your waist with your forehead comfortably on his chest. Both of your legs were intertwined with each other, and your arms were grasping his waist. No wonder you slept so well.
“Oh, good morning,” Matthew says quietly. You look up at him and notice that it looks like he’s been up for a little bit.
“How long have you been awake?” you ask.
“Wow, no good morning? I’m hurt,” Matthew pouts.
“Good morning, Matthew; how long have you been awake?”
“About half an hour?”
“And you didn’t wake me knowing we were sleeping like this?” you say annoyed and slowly pull away. Once you’re fully out of his grasp, you wish you remained in his grasp. Matthew’s body exuded this comfort and warmth that made you happy and comfortable. You wished you could return to Matthew’s hold and embrace without it seeming weird.
“You were very comfortable, it looked like, and you seemed to be sleeping peacefully, and I figured you’d be more upset if I woke you, so I didn’t. Are you upset that I didn’t wake you?”
You ponder over his last question for a moment. No, you weren’t upset that he woke you. “No, it’s okay. I just slightly overreacted.”
“No need to apologize. You reacted just fine.”
You nod. “I have to get ready for wedding stuff, but we can go down to get breakfast together.”
“Yes, whatever you say,” Matthew replies and watches you get out of bed and towards your suitcase and washroom. Matthew wouldn’t admit it to anyone, but he was up for hours. He got up hours before because he was warm and needed to turn the AC up higher, but when he realized the situation you were both in, Matthew refused to get up. When else would Matthew be able to hold the person he’s been in love with his entire life who doesn’t love him back?
. . .
“You have the rehearsal tonight, right?” Matthew asks from outside the washroom as you’re doing your makeup. He walks over to the dresser and begins looking at the jewelry you’ve laid across it.
“Yeah, sorry that I can’t bring you. It’s a small thing with just Shelly’s family and bridal party. That means, though, that our big fake dating debut will be tomorrow at the reception,” you say from the washroom. “What are you going to do?”
“I’m having dinner with my parents at a restaurant around the corner. I know you said that you have a ride to and from where you have to be, but if you need a ride, just call me, okay?”
You smile to yourself from the washroom where Matthew can’t see you. There was something about his concern that made you smile like crazy. “Okay, Matthew. Thank you.”
“No need to thank me,” he begins. “I am your boyfriend after all.” He mutters under his breath the word “fake” with a scowl. He hated being just your fake boyfriend.
You begin to pack your things back into your toiletries bag so as not to leave a mess, and you walk out of the washroom. “How do I look?” you ask when you’re in full view of Matthew. He immediately looks up from where he was staring at your necklace, and his jaw drops.
“Wow, you — I, wow! You’re gorgeous, Yn,” Matthew says with wonder and awe in his eyes. You take your hands and place them on the hem of your skirt and look down. Matthew walks over to you and takes one of your hands and twirls you. You giggle in response, and Matthew catches you with his hands on your waist. “You’re beautiful, Yn.”
“Thank you,” you whisper. Matthew places a soft kiss on your forehead and takes a step back to admire you.
“I get to be your date tomorrow? Aren’t I the luckiest guy on the planet?”
You giggle again and make your way to the dresser to put on the necklace sitting there. It’s a matching necklace you and Shelly both bought at the age of 18. “Can you help me put it on?”
Matthew’s Adam’s apple bobs in his throat as he soaks you in and your request. He nods and takes the necklace gently from you. You turn around, so your back is to him, and Matthew places the necklace around your neck. He fiddles with the clasp and whispers a soft “there you go” when he’s finished. You turn around and look into his eyes.
“Thank you, Matthew,” you say nervously but hide it with a smile. You’re not sure why you’re nervous, but you suddenly are. Maybe it was the intimacy of the act Matthew just performed for you. “Have fun with your family tonight.”
“Have fun at the rehearsal! Text me when you’re on your way back, okay?”
“Okay,” you reply as you slip on your shoes and make your way towards the door. “Night, Matthew.”
You walk out the door before Matthew could respond. “Night,” he says even though it’s pointless. In his head, Matthew is replaying the vision of you walking out in your blush pink dress and how beautiful you looked. Matthew knows that whoever gets to be the one to call you their girlfriend will be the luckiest person in the world. He only wishes he were the one.
. . .
Matthew walks into the restaurant his family picked, still reeling from how beautiful you looked. It was at that moment when Matthew saw you when he realized he was truly gone. Matthew has dug himself into a hole that he knows he’s never going to get out of. Now that Matthew has experienced you as a date, in his arms in his apartment, at one of his games, kissing you, and sleeping next to you, Matthew knows that no one else will compare to you. He knows that when this ruse is over, he will be heartbroken beyond repair. Is he choosing to do something about it? Nope, not at all because to him, if he can have even a little bit of you, even if it’s under the guise of being fake, then he’ll take it.
He sits at the table his parents and siblings were already at and greets them. It’s not even two seconds after he sits before they all corner him about dating you.
“So, you and Yn, huh?” Brady smirks.
“Don’t start, please,” Matthew warns.
“I’ll start, then,” Taryn prompts. “I can’t believe you finally got Yn to date you after you’ve harbored a crush on her for all these years and hated her.”
“Can we not?” Matthew asks.
“Nope, not happening, we are going to question you about every single detail. Who knows, maybe you two will be the next ones to get married.”
“Okay, Taryn, take a step back,” Keith chuckles.
“I think you should take a step forward,” Brady prompts. “Considering how head over heels Matthew has been, Taryn’s right.”
Matthew just rolls his eyes and sighs. “Can we just order and have a normal meal, please?”
“This conversation isn’t over yet,” Taryn warns, and Matthew just rolls his eyes.
After deciding what to eat and ordering, Taryn was true to her word and began to question Matthew about his dating life. “How did it start? What was your first date like? Did Yn slap you when you first asked her out? I need details, Matthew!”
“Did you ever consider that Yn and I want privacy about our relationship?” Matthew snaps.
“Right, but this is the weirdest pairing ever, so I feel like I should get something out of you,” Taryn defends herself.
“There isn’t much to say. A few months back, Yn called me saying she needed a familiar face because she was homesick, so we met up. We realized that we liked each other and here we are.”
Chantal gives her son a curious look. That was the exact statement and explanation that you gave her when she called you a few weeks after she found out about you and Matthew. Either that was the reality of the situation or you both practiced this many times. Chantal thinks it’s probably the latter because she knows her son. She knows that if you and Matthew were for real, then he’d be telling everyone how much he liked you.
“That’s it? I thought there’d be more! Something more romantic or something,” Taryn pouts, and Matthew just shrugs. He wishes he could have made a more romantic story for how you both started dating because that’s what you deserve, but you wouldn’t have any of it.
“I agree with Taryn,” Brady adds. “Yn, as we know, is a hopeless romantic. I’m surprised you haven’t stepped up your game to match Yn’s romantic side.”
“Look, maybe we do have a romantic relationship, but we just want to keep it private,” Matthew growls.
“Alright, let’s just let the topic go,” Chantal interjects and inserts an out for Matthew. “Will you be sitting with us tomorrow?”
“During the ceremony, probably because Yn is part of the procession and all that. I’m not sure during the reception, though, because I think it’s open seating.”
“Okay, that’s understandable,” Chantal says just as their meals arrive. Matthew lets out a sigh of relief. He was able to keep the story about your ruse straight and evade any questions that could poke holes into the story. He could only wish that what was happening between you two was real.
. . .
Just as Matthew was getting interrogated by his family, your brother and Shelly were on their way to interrogate you. It was after the rehearsal, and everyone in attendance was at the restaurant catching up. Your brother walks over to you and whispers that Shelly wants to talk to you. Being the maid of honor, you figured that she needed help with last-minute wedding preparations. You weren’t expecting an ambush.
Your brother leads you to where Shelly’s sitting, and you expect him to leave. However, when he sits right next to you with Shelly across from you, you know that you’re getting interrogated.
“Don’t you have to go be with your pregnant wife?” you ask your brother pointedly hoping to get out of the conversation.
“No, she wants this information as much as I do,” he retorts.
“You and Tkachuk?” Shelly shrieks. Some of the other guests turn to the commotion but turn away when they see it’s only the bride getting excited about something. “I always knew he had the hots for you, but I wasn’t sure if he’d ever do anything about it. Wow, I’m impressed it didn’t take more time for it to happen.”
“What are you talking about?” Matthew never had the hots for you. This situation was purely platonic and aiding each other's social calendars.
“Oh, come on,” Shelly rolls her eyes. “You have to have known that Matthew was crazy in love with you in high school.”
“And that explains his treatment of me?”
“It’s what insecure guys do when they crush on someone who is way out of their league,” your brother explains. “For what it’s worth, you are way out of Matthew’s league, and the only reason that I haven’t confronted him is that I know him. But still, Matthew? Why him?”
“How did it start? Is he a good kisser? Does he make you smile like crazy? Is he the super romantic boyfriend that you’ve always wanted? Is he good in bed?” Shelby begins but is stopped by your brother making a disgusted look. He definitely didn’t want to think about you and Matthew sleeping together. “Sorry, I forgot you were here.”
“It’s alright,” he grumbles, and Shelly throws you a wink knowing that she’d ask you about this later.
“The other questions are still valid, though.”
“It started because I was homesick. I realized that I missed home and needed a familiar face, so I called Matthew. From there, we realized that there was something there between us,” you explain hoping that your brother and Shelly would accept the story.
“More like you finally realized it,” Shelly corrects. You were about to contradict her words, but wouldn’t that break the facade you and Matthew have built? “What about the rest of the stuff?”
You shrug.
“That’s it? There’s nothing else you can say about it?”
“I like keeping my relationship private,” you say softly hoping it came across as confident despite the guilt you felt lying to your brother and best friend.
“Sure, and did this happen before you and I talked about bringing a date to the wedding?” Shelly questions further. She knows that if you liked someone and were crazy about them, then you’d be talking about this person constantly. She isn’t buying the story.
“We started talking before, but we made our relationship official shortly after your call,” you lie, again. You make a mental note to tell Matthew this so that when Shelly did interrogate him, he’d have that information.
“But you insisted you didn’t have anyone to bring as a date,” Shelly points out.
“You also called me if any of my friends would want to bring you,” your brother points out smugly. You glare at him and kick him under the table.
“I wasn’t sure if bringing Matthew would be like cheating because I knew he was invited to the wedding,” you quickly retorted. Would that be enough to have them lay off you?
“Sure, sure,” Shelly begins. “Look, if your relationship is of convenience, you know, for pleasure, you can say that.”
What? “What?” you and your brother speak at the same time. She wasn’t interrogating you because she thought you and Matthew were faking. She thought you and Matthew had a friends-with-benefits relationship! Somehow, that calms your nerves and helps you relax.
“Oh, so it’s a real relationship,” Shelly says with a grin. “I was wrong?”
“Yes, it’s a real relationship,” you laugh.
“I mean, if it were a pleasure-seeking based relationship, then I’d also be okay with that because you do need to make yourself happy,” Shelly winks.
“Okay, I’m done here,” your brother immediately gets up and walks over to his wife. You and Shelly both giggle.
“Are you happy?” she asks.
You nod. “Yeah, I’m happy.”
“That’s good. I have to get back to bride duties. I know that I was shocked when you told me you were dating Tkachuk earlier and didn’t react the way you wanted me to, but I only did it because I don’t want you to get hurt. He treated you like crap when you were in high school, and I don’t want him to go back to that version of himself. You seem happy, though, so ignore me.”
Shelly kisses your forehead and finds her fiance. You knew you weren’t going to get hurt because what you were both doing was merely for show. You both weren’t actually dating, so there were no feelings to be hurt, but one thing stuck out to you. Matthew liked you in high school? You weren’t sure why that unsettled you so much, but it did. Why would he have treated you like crap if he liked you? Would you and Matthew hurt each other? What happens when you both end this ruse? You know you’ll miss the way Matthew could always put a smile on your face and bring out giggle after giggle from you. You’d miss the way his smile or hand in yours would make your heart burst and make you warm inside and out. Were you on the path to getting hurt?
. . .
As Keith and Brady are arguing about the bill, Matthew and Chantal step outside to wait for them, and Taryn is in the washroom.
“So, you and Yn?” Chantal begins.
“Mom,” Matthew groans.
“I find it funny that the story that you told tonight to us is exactly what Yn told me a few weeks ago.”
“It’s what happened, so it makes sense that Yn told you the same thing,” Matthew lies.
“Yeah, but it was the exact same story, Matthew.”
Matthew looks at his mother, and he knows that she’s read through fabrication. “We both needed dates for things, so we thought we’d pretend to date to make it easier on both of us,” Matthew mumbles.
Chantal looks at her son and sees the forlorn expression on his face. “But you like her.”
“I’m pretty sure I’m in love with her, mom,” Matthew says sadly as if he finally realized the hopelessness of the situation.
“Why don’t you just tell her?”
“Because, mom, it’s like Taryn was saying earlier and why it shocks you so much. I treated Yn like crap when we were growing up, and I’m pretty sure she hates me.”
“But you love her.”
“I never hated her; I just didn’t know what to do with my feelings. I’m screwed, aren’t I?”
“I don’t know,” Chantal admits. Her heart breaks as she watches her son run his hands through his hair sadly as he admits to feelings. “I haven’t seen you both around each other, but who knows, maybe Yn does feel the same way.”
“No, I know for a fact she doesn’t. It’s okay, at least I have this,” Matthew says. Keith and Brady walk out of the restaurant at that moment with Taryn close on their heels. Keith slaps Matthew’s back and asks what Matthew was talking about. Matthew shrugs it off with a curt “nothing.” Matthew didn’t want the rest of his family to know about the reality of his dating life. He also knows that you’d rather not let that information come out.
“On Sunday, you and Yn should come over for dinner,” Chantal suggests. “Like tradition.”
“I’ll ask Yn,” Matthew answers.
“It’s not a request, Matthew,” Chantal says and walks with her husband. Well, then you and Matthew are going to dinner at the Tkachuk’s on Sunday.
. . .
The next morning after the rehearsal, you had to force yourself to pull yourself out of Matthew’s embrace. You’ve both woken up in the same entanglement as the morning before, but this time, you liked it. You enjoyed the warmth and comfort his hold produced. You groan as you get out of bed and walk to the washroom in the cold away from Matthew. You had to be up early to get things ready for the makeup artist, hairdresser, and photographer. You briefly washed your face and brushed your teeth before throwing on a pair of leggings and your “I Do Crew” t-shirt that was made for you. You grab your dress, shoes, and jewelry before heading over closer to the bed to grab your phone and purse. You place everything down and kiss Matthew on the forehead. You smiled at how peaceful and cute he looked as he was still sleeping.
If only it were real.
. . .
When Matthew’s alarm went off a few hours later, he moved closer to your pillow hoping to hold you for a little bit longer. When his head hits your cold pillow, Matthew’s chipper mood deflates when he realizes you’re not gone. He knows that you had to leave early for wedding preparations, but it still hurts knowing that you weren’t there to wake up next to him. In the past few days, Matthew has gotten used to waking up next to you. He isn’t sure what he’s going to do when you both return to your normal lives and he can no longer wake up next to you.
. . .
“Well, you look nice, Matthew,” Chantal says as Matthew sits in the row next to his family. Matthew straightens his tie. His leg is bouncing up and down in nervousness. Chantal observes her son from the corner of her eye and smiles at his actions.
“Have you seen Yn yet today?” Chantal leans over and asks. Matthew shakes his head no; he was nervous to see you. Matthew got a glimpse of your bridesmaid’s dress, and he knows you’re going to be just as beautiful, if not more, than the night of the rehearsal.
Matthew and his family continue to chat quietly, and everyone in the crowd abruptly ends their conversations as Shelly’s groom heads to the front of the aisle. In a matter of seconds, the orchestra begins to play the “Wedding March”, and everyone turns their heads to the aisle awaiting the procession. The groomsmen process down the aisle and take their places. Following the groomsmen are the bridesmaids. As each woman processes down the aisle and takes their places, Matthew is confused when he doesn’t see you among them. Matthew assumes, though, that because you’re the maid of honor, you have something special to do.
Matthew’s suspicions are confirmed when you walk down the aisle in your blush, floor-length, off-the-shoulder dress with your right hand holding the hand of the flower girl and your left hand holding a bouquet. As you walk down the aisle, Matthew is entranced by you. He stops breathing and blinking as he watches you. He watches as you lead the flower girl to her place and stand behind her. When everyone’s attention is turned to Shelly and her father walking down the aisle, Matthew’s attention is focused on you. He knew you were beautiful, but you were beautiful. There isn’t any difference between the two words, Matthew knows, but the latter word somehow means more. Matthew keeps telling himself it’s the dress, but he knows it’s not just the dress. It’s the person wearing the dress. It’s the way your face glowed from happiness at the new couple and the makeup you had on. It was the way your hair flowed impeccably in the breeze. It’s the way you looked amazing in that dress that had Matthew frozen. You were the most beautiful person Matthew has ever seen, and he didn’t want to look away.
When you catch Matthew’s eye, he swears he died and came back to life. You smile softly at him, but he doesn’t do anything. He just stands there staring at you as the officiant continues to talk. Chantal notices you trying to stifle a giggle and turns to her son to see if he had anything to do with it. When she sees Matthew just staring at you, she elbows him.
“Smile at her,” Chantal directs. That, it seemed, was what finally took Matthew out of his trance. He blinks and takes a deep breath right before sending you his signature smile. You shake your head playfully when you notice that Chantal had to remind him to smile and pay attention. You turn your attention back to the ceremony happening right in front of you as the officiant directs everyone to sit. You also try to ignore the hole it feels like Matthew (and the rest of the Tkachuks) were burning into the back of your head.
Because you were the maid of honor, you were one of the official witnesses and had to stand behind the bride. Through it all, Matthew was watching you. He was captivated by you, enamored by you. You met his eye a few times and had to force yourself not to laugh as a blush overcame his face and he turned away. Taryn, thinking that the next wedding she’d be attending was between you and Matthew, was watching the interactions between you two. The first time she watched you looked constipated as you tried to hide a giggle, she knew Matthew was the reason. After the second time, Taryn made sure to keep an eye on Matthew, too, so he could watch his reaction. Normally, in relationships, Matthew was confident, cocky, and full of himself. He was always the one to make the person he was dating speechless, shy, and look away bashfully. This time, though, you were the one in control, overtaking Matthew’s usual position. This time, Matthew was the one who was smiling bashfully and looking away whenever you’d meet his eye.
Taryn noticed that you stopped turning your attention to Matthew when the vows began to focus on the bride and groom. That doesn’t mean, though, that Matthew was paying attention to the happy couple. He was still watching you.
“Hey, Matthew,” Taryn leans over her mother and whispers.
That seems to take Matthew out of his trance as he rolls his eyes at his sister's words. “What?”
“Stop staring at your girlfriend. You’re trying to get her to marry you, not run away from you.”
“Taryn,” Chantal warns. Matthew doesn’t say anything except to stare ahead. This time, though, he doesn’t place his eyes on you. No, he places his eyes on the couple hoping to get his family off his case. He didn’t want to face the reality of the situation that Matthew wasn’t trying to get you to marry him despite him knowing you were the one. He hoped to ignore the true reason why Matthew was here as your date and not as a family friend. During the rest of the ceremony, Matthew doesn’t look at you once. He opts to look at the couple, the officiant, or the beauty of the outdoor venue. He hopes that by not looking at you, Matthew can escape the reality that he’s in love with you and you, it seems, are not.
When the ceremony ends and the couple walks down the aisle, you and the rest of the wedding party are getting ready to take photos during the Cocktail Hour. You try to make your way to find Matthew and see him because you missed him, but every time it seemed you had a chance, he was busy or was avoiding you.
Eventually, the Cocktail Hour was over and everyone was heading into the location of the reception. After you’ve made your rounds, you look around to see where Matthew was or your brother. You weren’t sure who you were going to sit with, but you were hoping to sit next to Matthew, though. You weren’t sure why Matthew was in a sour mood, but you knew you caused it. You only hoped he wasn’t too mad at you.
“Hey, you look beautiful,” Brady says as he walks up to you. He is holding a fresh drink in his hand, so you assume he was coming from the bar.
“Thank you,” you murmur, wondering if Matthew was around, too.
“Matthew, don’t you think so, too?” Brady says, and you turn your head to where Brady was directing his question to.
“Hi,” you whisper when your eyes lock with Matthew’s. You see anger in his eyes and are suddenly worried that Matthew is truly upset at you. However, Matthew’s face softens when you send him a soft smile, and the anger leaves his face.
“Are you sitting with us?” Brady asks.
“Of course, she’s sitting with us,” Matthew says and walks over to and wraps an arm around your waist. “She’s my girlfriend.”
You smile and let Matthew lead you to where his family is sitting. Matthew pulls out a chair for you to sit in, and he pushes it in for you. Matthew takes the seat next to you, and you’re suspicious that it was Brady’s when he grumbled about sitting in the chair next to you. Immediately upon sitting, Matthew places his hand on your thigh and scoots his chair closer to yours.
As the night carried on, Matthew never took his hand off your thigh, and he constantly whispered in your ear asking if you were okay. If you needed a refill on a drink, Matthew always went to the bar to get you a refill and insisted you shouldn’t have to get up. He always returned by placing the drink on the table and placing a kiss on your forehead.
When he returned with your third or fourth refill of the night, you smiled at him as he sat down and told him, “You know, I’m starting not to hate you anymore.”
Matthew looks at you sadly at your words. You still had animosity towards him? He thought he’s been working so hard to change your opinion of him, but it seems it's just barely working. You notice the strain and sadness in Matthew’s pout and wonder if you did something wrong. You place your hand on his thigh and look into his eyes. The minute your hand touched his thigh, Matthew was fine. It didn’t matter what you said because he knows he cares about you, and he knows that deep down, you care for him, too, despite your words.
“You okay?” you ask.
“Of course,” he says with a smile. “I’m sitting next to the prettiest person in the world; why wouldn’t I be okay?”
You smile at Matthew’s words and rest your head on his shoulder. What were you going to do when you and Matthew no longer could be like this? You knew you were going to miss it.
. . .
As the reception is nearing the final hours, everyone’s moods have turned more casual and laid back, including you and Matthew. Both of your chairs were right up against each other with you leaning heavily against Matthew with your head resting on his chest. His hand was wrapped around your shoulders and was rubbing small patterns on your shoulder. You and Matthew are talking to Brady and Taryn when a slow song, one of your favorites, begins to play. You perk up slightly, wondering if you should ask Matthew to dance with you.
“Hey, Yn, isn’t this one of your favorite songs?” Brady instigates.
“Oh, yeah, I guess it is,” you reply, and Matthew looks down at you softly.
“Do you want to dance, Yn?” Matthew asks. You nod and slowly pull away so he can lead you to the dance floor. You and Matthew position yourselves so that your hands are resting just below his neck with his resting on your mid-back. You both sway to the song, and you’re both entranced with each other’s eyes. As the song continues, Matthew’s hands slowly rise up to the bare skin of your upper back. He begins to stroke soft patterns on your skin, and it sends chills up your spine. You pull yourself closer to Matthew to try to use his warmth to evade the chills. You run your fingers through the hair at the nape of Matthew’s neck, and you see his Adam’s apple bob in his throat.
As the song comes to an end, Matthew licks his lips and leans his head towards yours. He pulls his head back slightly. Was this appropriate? He didn’t have the chance to further contemplate kissing you because you pulled away and led him back to the table. His one true regret that evening is that he didn’t kiss you. He wanted to kiss you. He wanted to kiss you badly, and he wanted nothing more than to kiss you and tell you how much he loves you.
He knows he’s dug himself into a hole he will never get out of.
. . .
“What are you doing today?” Matthew asks as you’re getting ready for the day. Based on his tone, you know something’s up, and you have to agree with whatever it is.
“Why?” you ask nervously.
“Would you want to go to my parents’ house for Sunday dinner? Like pastimes?”
You turn to face Matthew and smirk at him. “I feel like I don’t have a choice here.”
“My mom said that I had to bring you, no negotiations, so yeah, you have no choice.”
You laugh. “Okay, I can go to your parents’ for Sunday dinner, but I know my parents and brother won’t be there. They have plans tonight.”
“What are you going to do for the rest of the day, then?” Matthew asks knowing he wants to spend the day with you.
“I’m going to visit some friends from high school; what are you doing?”
“Just hanging around. Nothing much.”
“Okay then, why don’t I meet you back here, and then we can head over to your parents’ house?”
“Perfect,” Matthew says and turns away from you to go shower. On his face, he’s wearing a wide smile. He only hoped that you were just as excited as he was.
. . .
Unlike when you were growing up, you didn’t stay outside with the boys while Chantal and Keith got dinner together. This time, you and Taryn were in the kitchen helping Chantal cook while Brady and Matthew were out at the grill helping Keith. Now and then, you’d look out the backyard window and notice Matthew. Sometimes, he’d meet your eye and wink at you, and your face would grow warm. Or, sometimes, he wouldn’t be looking at you, but you saw him turn his head away as if he was just looking at you. Sometimes, he didn’t notice you looking at all, and you loved watching him interact with his dad and brother.
“He seems lighter when he’s around you,” Chantal comments after noticing you and Matthew staring at each other for the gazillionth time that afternoon.
“How so?” you ask.
“He’s nice,” Taryn says blatantly.
“Taryn,” Chantal scolds, and you can’t help but smile.
“I’m not wrong,” she defends.
Chantal rolls her eyes. “All I’m trying to say is, you guys are good for each other. It’s about time you both realized the dynamic you both have after years of animosity between you two.”
“Who knows, maybe we’ll finally be sisters,” Taryn jokes, hinting at the possibility of marriage. The smile on your face fades as you remember that you and Matthew aren’t dating. The smile fades knowing that you and Matthew wouldn’t ever get married, and when this ruse was over, many more people would get hurt than you both anticipated.
“Anyways, let’s go eat, yeah?” Chantal approaches. “Taryn, you put the salad on the plate and tell the boys we’re ready. Yn, you can help me scoop the other sides, okay?”
You were about to take the potato salad out to the table, but Chantal grabs your shoulder lightly and signals you to hold back for a moment.
“Just know, Matthew cares deeply for you,” she advises. “At the end of the day, he’s crazy about you; don’t forget that.”
You don’t have the words to say anything in response, so you just nod. Chantal seems to think you fully understand her words, so she walks out to the backyard. You don’t. What could she be talking about? Did she know that you and Matthew weren’t dating? You thought you both put up a pretty good act.
Opting to try to enjoy the evening, you place your worries to the back of your head and walk out to the patio. Just as you’re placing the potato salad on the table, Brady is placing the grilled corn on the table, too. Taryn’s already taken her usual seat, and because it’s a smaller crowd, Chantal has taken the seat where your brother would normally sit. Following tradition, you sit next to Taryn, and Brady takes the seat next to you. Keith has taken his seat and says that Matthew has gotten to grab a refill of drinks for you and him.
“Brady, move,” Matthew growls to his brother from behind you. You perk your head up and turn to see Matthew glaring at his brother.
“What? No! Go sit somewhere else. I’m already sitting here,” Brady says in retaliation and annoyance. He shakes his head and mutters a comment to you asking how you put up with him. You stifle a giggle knowing that the look in Matthew’s eyes was of determination, and the ordeal wasn’t over yet.
“Brady, I said, move,” Matthew says more forcefully.
“Why can’t you sit somewhere else? You never sit here.”
“Brady, move,” Matthew growls again.
“Why don’t you sit here, Matthew?” Taryn asks, trying to diffuse the situation. It was clear that Matthew wanted to sit next to you.
“No, I want Brady to move.”
“I’m not going to,” Brady is firm in his words. “Seriously, Yn, how do you deal with him sometimes?”
You don’t say anything, but Matthew does and is still incessant on Brady moving. “Brady, move and sit somewhere else. I want to sit next to my girlfriend.”
Brady stands up and stares at his brother. Looking at Matthew’s face, Brady knows that Matthew won’t give up on his endeavor, so Brady sighs and proceeds to get up. Brady goes and sits in his old normal seat, and Matthew sits next to you. He places a glass of water on the table for himself (he already had one beer but was driving, so he had to be safe) and lemonade for you. “Thank you, Brady,” Matthew says softly once he’s situated.
Brady grumbles in reply and mutters about how annoying Matthew was. You place your hand on Matthew’s thigh and lean over to whisper in his ear, “You didn’t have to force Brady to move, you know. It’s fine if we don’t sit next to each other.”
“It’s not fine,” Matthew whispers into your ear. “I wanted to sit next to my girlfriend, so I was going to sit next to my girlfriend.”
You open your mouth to say how it was all a ruse but decide against it.
“Shall we eat?” After observing her two sons spar over a seat and Matthew melt as he whispers into your ear, Chantal finally says.
Conversation, as everyone eats, varies from the wedding from the previous night to Taryn going to college to the upcoming season to your job. You loved how normal it was and how it was like before. It felt like before you and Matthew turned ten started hating each other. It was like when you were both young and the idea of marrying each other was still a thing. It was the way life was supposed to be had Matthew not started hating you at the age of ten. As you were both eating, Matthew always had a hand on you. Whether it was on your thigh or around your shoulder, Matthew was always touching you, and his family noticed completely.
“You know, when Matthew told us you were both dating, I was truly shocked. I was surprised you would ever go for him, Yn, considering you are way out of his league,” Brady says out of nowhere and tries to get back at his brother.
“Brady,” Keith warns.
“He’s not wrong, though,” Taryn points out, not realizing the true intentions of Brady's words. “As much as I love you, Matthew, Yn is completely out of your league.”
You notice Matthew stiffening up next to you, and you place your hand on his thigh to try to calm him down.
“I’m just surprised you even gave him a chance considering Matthew hated you for like half your life.”
“Taryn,” Chantal warns. Taryn looks up at her mother and shrugs in confusion.
“I never hated, Yn,” Matthew defends. “I’m not sure where you guys are getting that from.”
“How about the fact that — ow!” Brady is stopped as Chantal kicks him under the table. An awkward silence fills the table as everyone finishes up their meals. What did Matthew mean when he said he never hated you? His actions definitely showed it. Did he still hate you? All these questions swirled in your head as Taryn volunteers you and her for clearing the table. You move in autopilot as you clear the table still trying to figure out the meaning of Matthew’s words.
“I’m sorry for my comments out there,” Taryn apologizes. “I didn’t mean to say anything hurtful.”
“Don’t worry,” you tell her with a smile. “I wasn’t offended, but I think Matthew could use an apology more than me.”
“Nah, he’ll be fine. He’s got thick skin, and it’s not like I said anything he didn’t know.”
“Mmm,” you say, not sure how to respond.
“I’ve never seen Matthew so protective over someone before. Is possessive the right word? I don’t know, but I don’t think he’s ever been like that. If he would challenge Brady to something and wouldn’t immediately get his way, then he’d just drop the subject or physically fight Brady. He didn’t do either of those things. There’s something about you, Yn, that brings out a different side to Matthew,” Taryn points out as she’s rinsing the dishes, and you place them in the dishwasher.
“Interesting,” you say, again, not sure how to respond
“It’s a good thing. You’re both good for each other.”
. . .
You and Matthew say goodbye to Chantal, Keith, Brady, and Taryn two hours later and head back to the hotel you were staying at. Chantal couldn’t understand why you guys didn’t just stay with them before you flew back to Calgary the next morning. You weren’t sure how to explain that you’re not dating her son, and you needed some time to unwind and not have to be Matthew’s pretend girlfriend for extended periods of time.
As you’re driving to the hotel, you and Matthew sit in silence. Now and then, Matthew would shift in his seat in discomfort. You could tell he was still upset from Brady’s and Taryn’s comments. You reach your hand across the center console and place it on his thigh. You hear Matthew’s breath halt at the touch, and you’re confused at the sound.
“Matthew, are you okay?” you ask softly. “Don’t take Brady’s and Taryn’s words too seriously.”
“Yeah, but —”
“Matthew, don’t,” you interrupt as he stops at a red light. He turns to you, and his heart melts at how the lights on the street illuminate your face. He nods at your words, and suddenly, he wasn’t sad or frustrated anymore. The drive continues in silence, but your hand doesn’t leave his thigh. You have one lingering thought, though. “Matthew?”
“Mmm?” he asks.
“What did you mean when you said earlier that you didn’t hate me?”
“I didn’t realize there was anything to say. I don’t hate you,” Matthew says blatantly.
“Yeah, but you did hate me.”
Matthew laughs sourly. “Why do you think that even though I’ve told you that I didn’t hate you?”
“You were such a pest to me after we turned ten.”
“That didn’t mean I hated you, Yn.”
“Then why were you such a pest?” you ask.
“Because I had a giant crush on you when we were ten.”
“You had a what?” you asked, shocked, as Matthew drives into a parking space.
“A crush when we were ten,” Matthew answers and walks out of the car. He walks over to your side and opens the door for you. You step out of the car still reeling for his confession. “Don’t worry, Yn, I don’t have a crush on you anymore, so don’t worry.”
“Good,” you reply quietly. You aren’t sure why you are so upset at Matthew’s words, but you are. Did you have a crush on Matthew, now?
. . .
You’re standing in front of the mirror placing the final touches on your makeup and hair as you get ready to fly back to Calgary. You vaguely notice Matthew sitting in the chair behind you. You figured he was looking at his phone or watching the TV that was on. You lift your eyes to glance at the boy in question. Just as your eyes meet his face, Matthew looks up, and his eyes land right on yours. You stop moving, too entranced in his gaze. Matthew sends you a soft smile, and you mirror his smile. He sends you a wink, and your eyes instantly dart away from him. You continue getting ready, and you try to ignore the heat that rushed to your face and the rapid beating of your heart.
. . .
“I brought pizza and beer, is that good?” you say as you walk into Matthew’s kitchen. It was his first night back in Calgary since you said goodbye at the airport after the wedding, and he wanted to spend the night with you.
“That’s perfect,” he says and takes everything out of your hands.
You take your shoes off and walk further into this apartment. “Oh, looks like you cleaned.”
Matthew looks around the apartment and scratches the back of his neck. He turns to you, and you see a slight blush lining his cheeks. “Yeah, well, no one likes to live in a pigsty.”
You raise your eyebrow at his words. “What version of Matthew is this? The high school version of Matthew had the most disgusting bedroom ever.”
“Oh, shut up,” Matthew rolls his eyes and throws a napkin at you. You swat at it and begin to giggle. Matthew takes a piece of pizza and places it on a plate for you and opens a bottle of beer for you. You take it out of his hands with a soft “thank you” and walk over to his kitchen table. He places his plate and beer on the table and places his hands on your hips; your breath catches in your throat at his touch, and Matthew swears his heart started to beat a hundred times faster at the sound. He guides you towards the couch. “We’re sitting on the couch to eat.”
“But, Matthew,” you say after regaining your voice. You watch him grab his beer and plate from the table where he placed it and sits next to you.
“Nope, we’re not at Yn’s house. We’re at Matthew’s house, so we eat on the couch when we’re having a movie night.”
“Matthew,” you begin again.
He shakes his head as he takes a sip. “Don’t. I can’t eat this once training camp and the season starts, so let’s just enjoy it, okay?”
You nod and take a bite out of your pizza. Why did your breath hitch out of your throat when Matthew touched you? He’s touched you before, but why was it different this time?
. . .
“How about these?” Matthew asks as he holds a bag of chips in front of your face.
You shake your head. “I don’t like that flavor, and I already bought a bag of chips.”
“Maybe you should buy them for me, this lovely person who you forced to go grocery shopping with you.”
“That is not what happened, Matthew, and you know that,” your point out.
Matthew walks over to you and entraps you from where you’re standing at your shopping cart. He places his hands on the bar on your sides so you can’t move. He leans his head towards your ear and whispers, “Then tell me what happened.”
“You know what happened,” you murmur, trying to hide the fact that Matthew’s actions and words were sending chills down your spine.
“But I want you to tell me,” he whispers again into your ear.
“You showed up at my apartment just as I was about to leave,” you swallow before continuing, “and you insisted on coming with me, and here we are.”
“I don’t recall that being how it happened,” Matthew says against your neck, and the vibrations warm your entire body. You figure if Matthew was going to mess with you in the middle of the snack aisle at the grocery store, you might as well do the same. You wrap your arms around his neck and pull his face closer to yours. Your lips are micrometers from his, and you can tell that Matthew is nervous.
“That’s exactly how I remember it happening,” you say against his lips and with each word you said, your lips touching Matthew’s. Out of instinct and preparation for a kiss, Matthew places his hands on your waist, and you smirk, knowing you have him right where you want him. You run your hands up through his hair, and Matthew’s hold on you becomes limp. You lean closer, if possible, to him, and Matthew thinks you’re going to kiss him. Just when you would’ve leaned forward and kiss Matthew, you pull back and escape from where Matthew has you entrapped. You’re standing a few feet away from him, and you notice Matthew still in his trance. “You coming?”
That seems to take him out of his trance, and he nods and pushes the shopping cart to follow you. Matthew isn’t sure what happened, but he knows that whatever did just happen sent Matthew to heaven.
. . .
“What are you wearing?” Taryn asks you when you sit down next to her.
“Oh, this old thing?” you say, pretending to be oblivious.
“Matthew’s going to hate it considering you’re his girlfriend, who the Flames are playing, and what you’re not wearing.”
“I’m counting on it.”
“You are such a pest like Matthew. No wonder you guys are so good to each other,” Taryn rolls her eyes.
“You’re lucky we won or you’d have hell brought down upon you,” Matthew says when you’re standing outside the locker room after the game.
“I didn’t know you knew the devil personally,” you joke.
“Why did you have to wear Brady’s jersey, Yn? The day that I play the Sens, you are wearing the wrong brother’s jersey.”
You shrug but have a knowing smirk on your face. “I felt like it.”
Matthew groans when he sees Brady walking over to you and him. “Nice jersey,” Brady smirks.
“Thank you. Too bad you guys lost.”
“Seriously?” Matthew’s mouth’s agape.
“Oh shut up, you know I cheered for you when you scored,” you say and link arms with Brady as you head towards Chantal and Keith. “It worked. I pissed him off,” you whisper to Brady.
“You guys are so weird,” Brady chuckles. Matthew just stands behind you and Brady and is trying to figure out what just happened and how he’s going to get back at you.
. . .
When you showed up to the Senators-Flames game wearing Brady’s jersey, Matthew knew he had to think of a way to get back at you. After a week-long road trip and coming home at 2 am, Matthew wanted nothing more than to go home and sleep. He also wanted nothing more in the world to see you and to get back at you. When he got in his car to drive home, Matthew realized he had the perfect plan to get back at you. He knows that something you value deeply is your sleep, so because you messed with something important to Matthew, he was going to mess with something important to you.
Matthew drives to your apartment from the airport and parks in the parking spot next to your car. He isn’t sure why he thought you didn’t have a car and why you don’t drive it to work, but here your car is. He walks into the lobby of your building and waves to the nightguard working the night shift. He takes the elevator up to your floor and walks up to your door. He takes a deep breath and begins to aggressively ring your doorbell. He hopes that you wake up and none of your neighbors do.
The ringing continues for twenty seconds before you realize it’s not your alarm. You sit up for a few moments when you realize that it’s someone at the door. When the ringing doesn’t stop, you get worried that something’s wrong. You rush over to the door and open it. “Is everything okay?” you blurt out before noticing who’s the one ringing your doorbell.
“No, I have a very important message for you,” Matthew says with a smirk grazing his face.
“What happened? Is everything okay?” you’re worried now. You’re still barely awake, and if you were, you probably would have noticed the smirk on Matthew’s face.
“It’s an important message. Ready for it?”
“Yeah, yeah, just tell me!”
“Hi? That’s it? Matthew, you rang my door like a lunatic and made me worry that something was seriously wrong. What’s wrong with you?”
“You wore Brady’s jersey to my hockey game.”
“So you decide to pull this shit?” you’re angry now, and Matthew realizes he made a mistake.
“I’m sorry. I also wanted to see you,” he mumbles.
You sigh and pull him into your apartment. “Then call me instead of halfway giving me a heart attack.”
Matthew nods and follows you into your apartment. He puts his bag down by the door and takes his shoes off.
“I’m going back to sleep, but you can change and shower in my washroom and join me when you’re ready. I’m not staying awake; I’m too tired.”
Matthew is shocked that you’re doing this. Matthew woke you at 2 in the morning just because and you’re opening your home for him despite it. Matthew will never take your friendship for granted ever again.
. . .
“Matthew, are we still fake dating?” you ask out of nowhere. It’s been months since the wedding, and you weren’t sure if you and Matthew still had that title. Recently, you both had been hanging out together, but it didn’t seem like “dating”. It was “friend” hangouts, and you were both disappointed and happy with it.
“Why do you ask?” Matthew asks. He doesn’t want to fake date you anymore; he wants to real date you, but he isn’t sure if you want that, too.
“Because,” you hesitate.
“Because, why?”
“I went out with some friends the other night and this guy was hitting on me, and I turned him down because I didn’t know if we were still under the ruse of dating.”
“Oh,” Matthew says dejectedly. “Don’t worry, if you see him, or anyone else, who’s hitting on you, then you can say yes. We, as of this moment, are just friends and no longer fake dating.”
You nod. “What do we tell people? Like, Shelly or your family?”
Matthew shrugs. “We realized we were better off friends. We went from the extreme of not being able to be around each other to the extreme of always being around each other and realized it doesn’t work.”
���Okay,” you say. You weren’t sure why you were so upset with Matthew’s response.
After the conversation, you head home about an hour later with your head still reeling from Matthew’s words. Just friends, he said, but you didn’t want that, did you? You wanted Matthew in every way that you could. You wanted him next to you when you woke up and when you fell asleep. You wanted good morning kisses, good night kisses, and just kisses in between that. You wanted Matthew because you liked him. You wanted Matthew because, in the months of fake dating, you fell for him. You fell for Matthew Tkachuk, the one boy you never thought you’d fall for, and the one boy who doesn’t want you like that.
. . .
You went out with Matthew and the team to celebrate another win. This time, you wore Matthew’s jersey, and you swore Matthew’s smile grew wider when he saw you in it. The celebration at the bar thus far has been fun. You weren’t sure if the team knows you and Matthew “broke up”, but it doesn’t matter because Matthew was still being touchy with you, and you hoped that you were hiding your feelings for Matthew well.
“I’m going to go get some refills for us, okay? Same drink for you?” Matthew whispers into your ear. You visibly shiver at his action, and you know Matthew noticed. You nod, not trusting your words. To try to ignore how you’re feeling, you immerse yourself in conversation with the group. It works, you think, but when you look up and see the back of Matthew’s head, your heart begins to beat rapidly. You needed to figure out how to get your emotions in check if you’re going to continue to be hanging out as friends with Matthew.
“So, you and Matthew have been going strong, huh?” Annica says when she notices you staring at Matthew. You snap your attention back to the woman. Matthew must not have told the team that you and he “broke up”. You guess that would be a weird conversation to have. You doubted Matthew said something along the lines of, “Yes, we broke up, but I’m going to keep bringing Yn around. Why? Well, we were never really dating, and now we are just friends. Yeah, it’s weird, but just go with it.”
“Oh, um, yeah,” you reply, hoping that Annica didn’t read too much into your words.
“I can tell he’s crazy about you and that he —,” Annica is interrupted by Elias bringing her another glass of wine and conversation changes. You look back at Matthew to try to figure out the meaning of Annica’s words. Just as your eyes land on Matthew’s head, he turns around, as if sensing your gaze, and meets your eyes. He smiles at you, and you instantly feel the tears falling from your eyes. You try to blink them away, but when Matthew begins to rush over to you, you know that he noticed. You excuse yourself from the group and rush out of the bar.
“Yn, yn,” Matthew calls out to you. He catches up to you with his long strides and places his hand gently on your shoulder. You turn to face him and feverishly wipe the tears away. “Yn, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” you lie.
“I didn’t know we cry over nothing now, but thanks for letting me know,” Matthew jokes, but it doesn’t do anything to make you feel better. “What’s wrong?”
“I can’t be your friend anymore; it just hurts too much to be your friend when I want more,” you blurt out and walk away. Matthew is too stunned at your words to follow after you. You want more? Since when? Matthew doesn’t come to his senses to chase after you until you’re getting into your car to drive home. What does he do now?
. . .
“Yn, yn, yn, I know you’re in there,” Matthew yells as he aggressively knocks on your apartment door the next day. “Yn, please. I just want to talk to you.
You angrily stalk to the door and open it. “What, Matthew? Maybe you should have taken a hint when I didn’t open the door the first eighteen times you knocked on it.”
“Yeah, well, we need to talk, so it doesn’t matter if I was knocking on your door for hours, I’m going to talk to you.”
“Matthew, there’s nothing to say,” you tell him through gritted teeth hoping not to let it show how much you wanted to cry at that moment.
“Like hell, there’s nothing to talk about,” Matthew aggressively replies as he runs his hands through his hair. “You can’t just say that and leave, you know. You’ve had me going crazy, Yn!”
“Well, it’s not like you feel the same way or want the same thing,” you mumble, looking at the ground.
“Are you kidding me? I’ve wanted this since I was ten!” Matthew replies incredulously.
“But you told me you didn’t like me anymore!”
“That’s because I thought you didn't like me like that.”
“Well, I do like you like that, Matthew.”
He takes a step closer to you and looks into your eyes. “That entire time we were fake dating? I was imagining it was real. I was doing everything in my power to make it real so that I could have that experience of being with you because I thought I’d never had a chance with you. Like my parents said, you are completely out of my league, so I was extremely honored that you ever wanted to fake date me.”
“I don’t want to fake date you.”
“I don’t want to fake date you, either,” Matthew chuckles.
“Oh, good,” you reply and look down at your feet. “I want to be your real girlfriend.”
Matthew laughs at your words. “That’s what not wanting to fake date means.”
“Oh, right,” you giggle at yourself.
“So, if I put my hands on your waist and kiss you, is that okay?”
“That’s more than okay, Matthew,” you tell him with a smile and place your hands on his face to bring him closer to you. Matthew smiles at your words and leans his head towards yours. You both softly placed your lips on each other before deepening the kiss. It wasn’t the first kiss you both shared, but it was the first time you kissed each other with your feelings on display. You both deepen the kiss, and Matthew pulls you into him. You run your fingers through the hair at the nape of Matthew’s neck, and you giggle at the small moan that leaves him. His moan and your giggle cause you both to pull back. Matthew gives you a pointed look.
“Great, our first kiss ends like that.”
You giggle again. “It’s not our first kiss, Matthew.”
“Still,” he pouts.
“Don’t worry,” you tease. “There will be many, many kisses in our future.”
“I’m going to hold you to that,” Matthew says with a grin and pulls you in for another kiss.
The get-together wasn’t perfect or what anyone expected, but it was your story, and you wouldn’t have it any other way.
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cixthotshit · 2 years
A Cup of Rose Americano
Pairing: Bae Jinyoung x Original Female Character|Reader
Genre: Smut, Fluff, Poor Girl/Rich Boy, Coffee Shop/Gangster AU (IDEK how I got here, just go with it)
Summary: There's more than meets the eye with every person, including Bae Jinyoung, the world's finest barista at Personal Barista Cafe
Word count: 4.7k
Rating/Warnings: Mature / Explicit Sexual Content: Porn With Some Plot, Kissing, Mirror Sex, Vaginal Fingering, Creampie
Author’s Note: I wanted to write a fluffy Coffee Shop AU but NGL something else has been preoccupying my mind and the world building to this fic kind of went off the rails and transformed into a completely different story. Enjoy this smut, readers! I really want to explore this world a lot more but IDK if I can commit to anything beyond this RN. So please, please enjoy this! Sorry in advance for mistakes! I don't always catch everything when I proofread.
I always appreciate some feedback on my writings!
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"Really, it'll be a...new coffee experience," Hyeon assured Sandy. She handed Sandy a green card. It felt like an expensive platinum credit card, the card made of metal, feeling heavy and cold in her hand. "All you have to do is fill out a survey after you get your free coffee. Once you make it inside, hand the card over to your barista."
"Aren't you supposed to find actual volunteers?" Sandy asked, looking at the shiny card. The only thing on the card was the name of the new test cafe, PB Cafe.
“Trust me,” Hyeon said with a grin. “You’ve never had coffee like this. This is free, too. You’re going to say no to free coffee? And I swear, this is really me saying it, their coffee is really good.”
“Fine, thanks for the free coffee.”
“Enjoy!” Hyeon turned her back to Sandy, most likely scanning for potential test subjects for her new marketing event. Being her best friend, Sandy was always her first test subject. She didn’t know if Hyeon’s bosses approved of her taking advantage of all the free stuff she was receiving.
Sandy walked over to a shop that was setup at the southwest corner of a 3 story building. The walls were white and the windows were covered by white curtains. “PB Cafe” was written in black on the front door, though there were no door handles. Standing in front of the door, Sandy noticed a black square pad beside the right side of the door. She pressed the green card to the black pad and jumped slightly as the glass door slid open. A short piano tune played, sounding old but familiar, reminding her of old Hollywood movies from the mid-20th Century.
Tentatively, she stepped in. Walking past the white curtains, she found herself inside a small room. At the back end of the room was a small bar with one wooden chair in front of it. It only took her 4 steps to reach the chair, so she pulled it out and sat down. The wall behind the bar slid down to the floor and a broad shouldered man walked out from what looked like a bright white light before the wall slid back up behind him.
Too shocked to react, Sandy set the green card down onto the smooth marble countertop. Her eyes couldn’t leave the face of her barista. He was very handsome and his small grin softened his masculine exterior. Wordlessly, he took the green card and placed it in the front left pocket of his black apron.
“Welcome to Personal Barista Cafe,” he said in a soft, sultry voice. “My name is Bae Jinyoung, your Personal Barista today. How shall I address you?”
“Uh, just call me Sandy, I don’t like formalities much.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Sandy. If you don’t like formalities feel free to call me BaeJin or BaeBae.” She gave a soft chuckle and threw her hand over her mouth, feeling her cheeks warm up. Such a sultry man telling her to call him something as cute as BaeBae tickled her. “Is this your first drink with PB Cafe?”
“Yes,” she replied. “I don’t know anything about this cafe, except that you have good coffee.”
“A Personal Barista will make you a personalized drink,” he explained, pulling out a menu form. “Whatever you order, I will make it in front of you. If you want to know how I prepare your drink, please let me know and I will explain as I go. If you want small talk instead, I enjoy a small conversation as I prepare you a drink. If you want silence, for any reason, please don’t feel pressured to speak if you don’t want to.”
“Can I get an Americano?” she asked, after glancing at the long list of coffee drinks. The menu was simple and elegant, the writings were in cursive but the paper was black and the ink white. She liked the seemingly simple attention to detail. “How long have you been a barista, BaeJin?”
“Almost a year,” he replied. He poured fresh ground coffee into a metal contraption with a long neck. She pressed her lips together as her eyes were fixed on his skilled, large hands. He was using a device to compact the coffee grounds.
“Do you enjoy being a barista?”
“I do. It allows me to be creative. My regular job is stressful.”
He put the coffee grounds into the machine and pressed a few buttons. She watched him place a small white espresso mug under the spout of the machine. He grabbed a large white mug of coffee, and looked at her with a soft grin.
“This is your side hustle?” she asked. PB Cafe seemed like it paid well.
“Most people have more than one job these days,” he replied.
“That’s true,” she replied. “I have a day job and a night job.”
“What are your jobs?”
“I’m interning at a law firm, helping a paralegal out. I’m hoping to get my private investigator’s license soon.”
“You want to be a private investigator?” he asked.
“I want to be a lawyer,” she answered, “but having a private investigator’s license helps me pick up skills. Research is the true gift of being a good lawyer.”
“Research. You must be very smart and hard working.”
“You are sweet,” she said, resting an elbow onto the counter, leaning forward. “I wish my smarts and hard work were enough to give me success. I’m lacking in luck lately.” His eyes drifted away from the espresso machine and looked into her eyes. She felt her cheeks turn hot, realizing she had overshared. It’d been a sad thought, too. “I feel very lucky right now.”
“Sandy, I don’t mean to make assumptions about people but if I were to guess you are someone with expensive tastes,” he said. He pulled out two small brown glass bottles from a drawer. “But, you settle for less.”
“I..” she breathed out.
She should have been insulted, but her barista BaeJin was right. Sandy had always been envious of people who could afford designer things or had the means to go on extravagant vacations, but all of that had always been a dream. The closest she got was free shit from Hyeon. A drink from PB Cafe was likely three times that of a drink from Starbucks, and Sandy could only afford Starbucks for special occasions.
“Why are you saying this?”
“I want to make you a drink in which you will appreciate,” he replied, pulling out a single stemmed pink rose from under the counter, and handed it to her. She felt her cheeks flush with heat as she accepted it. “Refined, seemingly ostentatious, but simple and hopefully, delicious.”
He poured hot water from a glass kettle into the mug. She felt her cheeks turn hot again as he reached over and plucked a single petal from the rose she held. He tilted a single drop of liquid from one of the brown bottles onto the petal.
“Rose water,” he said to her as he locked eyes with her for a second. He placed the rose petal into the mug, letting it float in the hot water. He poured the espresso into the mug of water, and took a spoon to scoop out the wilted petal, tossing it away before handing the drink to her.
She gave it a sip, and shut her eyes, a smile on her lips. Using a flower as aromatic as a rose was difficult to pull off in cuisine. Oftentimes the rose aroma was too overpowering, reminding one’s nose of perfume instead of food. Baejin’s Rose Americano, though, was the perfect balance of a good cup of coffee elevated with some elegance, refined by the subtlest hint of a rose’s sweet scent. The warm breath she exhaled after a hot sip of Americano filled her senses with flowery comfort.
“This is the most...beautiful cup of coffee I’ve ever tasted,” she replied, setting the mug down when she was half finished. “It tastes...beautiful.”
He gave a small chuckle, his eyes crinkling as he smiled. She bit her bottom lip, trying not to smile any wider than she already was. He was incredibly cute, grinning in reaction to her compliment. How could a man exude the amount of sensuality like BaeJin yet be so cute that she wanted to squish him like a marshmallow?
“You like it?” he asked.
“I do,” she replied. “I didn’t know a cup of Americano could be improved. Thank you for this cup of coffee. You’re a gifted barista.”
“Thank you. I would love to make you another drink.”
“I’ll try to come back one day,” she said earnestly.
She sipped her drink and glanced at her phone. Thanking her talented, handsome (and cute) barista BaeJin one last time, Sandy finished her drink and sprinted out of the odd, surreal cafe. She had to get ready for work. Smelling the pink rose in her hand, Sandy smiled to herself. Who knew her barista would be the first man to give her a rose?
“Diamond! Malibu was accidentally double booked,” Danielle called out into the dressing room. “Can you give a lap dance in the Blue Champagne Room before going home?”
“Wait,” Sandy said, holding the gold hoop earring she’d just taken off her left earlobe, “I’m not going to chase Malibu for the flat fee. The last time I covered for her, not only did her John not tip me but I had to chase her for 4 days before she gave me the cash.”
“I have a hard time chasing her down, too,” Danielle said with a heavy sigh, handing her purple vape pen to Sandy to hold. She dug into her pink and purple Bedazzled fanny pack, and fished out a few bills. She handed a bag of clothing to Sandy. “Let me know if this John is handsy or out of line. He’s a new customer. You have five minutes, babe. Fix your makeup.”
Handing the vape pen back to her boss, Sandy put the cash into her purse before shutting and locking the drawer to her vanity. She put her earring back on and retouched her eye makeup and lipstick. Her locks of hair looked good as she combed her fingers through her hair, looking into the mirror before getting up to change.
Sandy hadn’t exactly planned on becoming a stripper, but during her freshman year in college, she took a class on feminist studies, specifically on sex work. What started out as a learning experience in respecting sex work, and educating herself on the legal struggles of sex workers’ rights, Sandy soon found herself stripping as a means of extra income. She herself was in need of money, and recognized her beauty was valued enough that she could make capital from it.
Having walked out on her dysfunctional family as soon as she turned 18, Sandy had been hustling on her own for years. She was still working towards a career in law, but in the meantime, she was balancing between her day job as an unpaid intern at a shitty law firm and her night job as a stripper at a club called Blue Paradise. Giving lap dances were only nice when she received good tips, but they didn’t happen often enough. All she wanted was a good tip.
Pulling out the outfit Danielle handed to her, she took off her clothes and put on her new outfit. She wore a neon pink G-string bikini bottom with her matching lace bra under a black pencil skirt and a white costume button up office dress shirt. She put on a loose blue tie around her neck, and put on a pair of thick black framed glasses, matching it with her black leather knee high boots. Apparently, this new customer had a librarian kink.
Walking down the hall, toward the other side of the back of the club, she entered the room with the blue door at the end of the hall. The Champagne Rooms, where customers received their private lap dances, were color coded. The Blue Room was where the clients with specific kinks went.
Opening the door, Sandy pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose, and looked up to see her John seated on the black couch. The dim lighting of the room cast a shadow over his body, making it hard for her to make out his face. She blinked, and closed her mouth, realizing that her customer was her barista from PB Cafe, BaeJin. It had been days since she had her cup of Rose Americano.
He was wearing a loosely worn grey sweater with black denim jeans. She didn’t think it was possible but he looked more handsome than she last remembered. Perhaps, with her body so close to his, knowing that he was there for devious reasons, her face flushed and her nipples hardened as heat rushed through her body from head to toe.
“BaeJin!” she said, forgetting her sexy librarian character.
“Don’t move,” he said, looking alarmed. She stood completely still, one hand on the door handle. “You’re a stripper, Sandy?”
“You...you remember me?” He nodded. “Stripping is helping me pay for my law degree.” She licked her lips and tilted her head, pushing her chest forward slightly. “I can give you what you want.”
“I can’t do this,” he replied, crossing his left leg over his right. His eyes left her, and diverted to the ground. Her ego was bruised. Not only did she need the money, but her vanity made her feel upset that he didn’t want a lap dance from her. “I should go.”
“I have to try to keep you here,” she said shyly, pressing her back against the door. “If I don’t, that means I’m not good at my job.”
“How long should we be in here for you to be considered good at your job?” he asked, his eyes returning to meet her gaze.
“You don’t want a lap dance? Am I not cute? My tits too small?”
He gave a chuckle, and looked away when his eyes moved to her chest as she talked.
“You’re very cute,” he replied, “but that’s the problem. As a barista, I don’t date customers. Since you didn’t actually pay for your drink, I thought it’d be OK to ask you out if I ever saw you again. But if I pay for this lap dance, I wouldn’t want to ask you out. It’s not fair for me to proposition you while you’re working.”
“You’ve been thinking hard about me?” Her cheeks felt hot and goosebumps formed on her arms. “Would you accept my invitation if I asked you out after this? I’m actually supposed to be off work by now, but this is my last job tonight. If I don’t give you a lap dance, we didn’t cross any lines, right?”
He nodded, and she gave a nervous chuckle.
“You said that being a barista was your side hustle,” she said, noticing the expensive watch and ring on his left hand. Sex workers had to know street codes to keep themselves safe, and watches and rings were how gang members communicated their loyalties and rankings. “What’s your main job? You said it’s stressful.”
His right hand wrapped around his platinum watch, the case of the watch encrusted with diamonds. The C9 Gang was a wealthy gang with origins in Tokyo, Japan, platinum was their calling card. BaeJin’s gold band emerald ring sat on his middle finger, indicating he was a made man of high rank. Sandy was impressed; BaeJin had acclimated to a high status in a gang at a young age.
“How long have you been working here, Sandy?” he asked in response.
“Diamond,” she answered, her grip remaining firm on the door. “My stage name is Diamond.”
“Sandy...Diamond,” he said with a grin. He stood, and she took a deep inhale of breath as he took a step forward and pressed his body against hers, his left arm wrapping around her waist as his hand gripped onto her wrist. Her hold on the door handle loosened. “You are the diamond in the rough in Blue Paradise. You still want to invite me out on a date?”
She took a gulp of breath, staring deeply into his dark brown eyes. He licked his lips and her eyes drifted to his mouth. Giving the most gentle nod of her head, she said, “Yes.”
“I drive a blue Ferrari F60 America,” he said as the tip of his nose touched hers.
“I don’t know anything about cars,” she replied, shutting her eyes. His breath was warm, making it hard for her to breathe. He chuckled and she felt his head rest onto her shoulder.
She opened her eyes when she felt a hand touch her chin.
“I drive a blue car,” he said, his eyes drifting down her face to her lips. His thumb ran across her bottom lip gently, sending heat deep into her groin. Her stomach ached at the touch. “It’ll be the most expensive looking car you’ll see when you walk outside.” He looked directly into her eyes again. “I’m a dangerous man, Sandy...Diamond. I have to ask you one more time, do you want to keep talking to me?”
She chewed on the inside of her left cheek nervously, and furrowed her eyebrows. Given how close she was to getting the paid job as a paralegal at Johnston’s &Partners, Sandy was one step closer to her dreams of becoming a lawyer. Would it be ethical to date a gangster?
“Will you take me home or will we be going to your place?” she answered. Life was too short not to take risks.
Upon his request, she left work wearing her costume. BaeJin’s description of having the most expensive looking car was accurate. The navy blue car shone brighter than any other car, and the curves of the body created an elegant design to the car. He’d opened the passenger door for her. She realized her skirt barely covered her ass as the cold leather from the seat hit the back of her thighs.
He drove them up a curvy hill to get to his expensive mansion, placed behind a small forest. It sat atop of a mountainous hill, overlooking the bright lights of the city far below. BaeJin was a man of very high rank by the looks of his home. It was large and designed with multiple floor to ceiling windows. Sandy took a soft gulp of air as her mouth felt dry.
“Your home is beautiful,” she said when he led her into his home, the hallway lined with expensively framed paintings. The jade vase that held 3 white lilies beside the coat hanger looked like it was worth more than everything she owned, including the small amount of cash she had in her bank account.
BaeJin’s home aesthetic was minimalist, though each room had a piece of furniture that popped out, like the jade vase in the front entrance. In his bedroom, he had a rose gold encrusted full length mirror sitting at the foot of his bed. It was shameless, but did not surprise her. Their eyes locked as BaeJin sat down at the foot of the bed. Their fingers intertwined when she reached her left hand out to his outstretched right hand.
“I spent a week trying not to think about you,” he said, pulling her easily onto his lap. His free hand wrapped around her waist. “The closest thing to you was trying to get a stripper to dress up like a sexy librarian.”
“Aren’t you lucky?” she said, squeezing his hand. “You went to Blue Paradise wanting a fantasy. Instead, you left with your fantasy.”
His hand released hers and she felt his hand between her legs, sliding up against her slit. Shutting her eyes she gave a soft moan, surprised at his swift movement.
“You deserve the best in life,” he said into her ear before grazing his teeth gently against her neck. “Don’t ever settle for less.”
He kissed her, his lips warm and firm. His tongue parted her lips and she gave a soft hum. She pushed his tongue out of her mouth, appreciating the taste of floral green tea from him. Her fingers tangled into his hair, pulling him closer to her. He tasted better than the beautiful cup of Rose Americano.
With a clouded head, she helped him pull his sweater off as he aggressively pulled her top off of her, the cheap buttons popping loudly as they flew into the air. Her skirt failed to exist when he ripped the zipper and tore the fabric apart with his bare hands.
“Are you going to rip me apart?” she asked breathlessly when his fingers found their way under her bra, fondling her erect nipple. She gave a soft moan and he grinned as he pinched her sensitive bud.
“I’ll be as hard or soft as you want,” he assured her. The pad of his thumb grazed against her nipple. Her back shivered as a sharp heat rode up her back.
“I like a bit of both,” she said, her cheeks hot. It felt like a dream to have BaeJin telling her he would do as she wanted. “You ruined my skirt.”
“The cheap costume skirt?” he asked, his hand returning to rubbing her slit. “You don’t have to settle, remember?” She shut her eyes, her hand grabbing his arm as two of his fingers pressed against her clit. “I like you best without clothes anyway.” The heat intensified as his fingers moved down lower, moistening her panties with the slick heat coming out of her pussy. Her back shook again as his fingers moved up against her slit, and then back down. “Your voice is lovely.”
She moaned as she rested her head against his chest, his fingers continually creating more heat between her legs. One finger slipped under her panties, pulling the fabric away from her wet cunt. The back of his knuckle pressed against the engorged bud of her clit, and she mewled as he rubbed up and down against her.
“BaeBae,” she could only speak with a shaky breath, “BaeBae, I’m going to come.”
Her hips thrust haphazardly against his knuckle as a small flash of heat washed over her, goosebumps forming up the back of her neck. Her orgasm disappeared as soon as it came and she breathed through her mouth. Her pussy felt wet as her slick heat dripped out of her.
“I was just playing with you,” he said with an amused smile, his eyes locked onto the mess between her legs, including his wet fingers. He spread her juices onto her folds, and moved the pads of his index and middle fingers to draw small circles onto her clit. She mewled, shutting her eyes, as her hips rutted against the motions of his fingers. “But with you this wet, I can fuck you right now.”
“BaeBae,” she breathed out, opening her eyes.
Her eyebrows were furrowed as she looked at him. Wordlessly, she stood as their hands began removing each other’s clothes off. His expensive jewelry remained on as he pulled her back to his front, making her stand between his legs. His hand went between her legs and he massaged the inside of her thigh. She hummed a soft moan, enjoying the way his hand relaxed her muscles.
Both of his hands wrapped around her waist, and his lips kissed her neck. He requested she trust him, and one hand reached down to her right knee and had her stretch her leg out to rest over his. As his other hand went to her left knee, she understood what he was doing. He wanted a full view of her pussy so she sat on his lap with her legs hooked over his.
“Ready to put this to use?” he asked, his hands kneading her hips. His reflection from the mirror was staring at her. She saw the cheeks of her flushed face turn a bright red, and she tilted her head down to look away from the mirror. The blood coursing through her chest up to her head clouded her vision. “Look at us.”
His right hand cupped her face, and she felt his wrist press up against the front of her neck. The pulse from his wrist beat rapidly against the pulse on her neck, and she struggled to breathe as her eyes locked onto his from the reflection in the mirror. Hot blood rushed to her groin and her hips jerked forward, out of her control. His left arm wrapped around her waist had her firmly in his hold, so all she could do was wiggle in his lap. Feeling the muscles of his thighs flex under her made her buttocks tighten, her body anticipating his cock.
“If you let me take you raw,” he said softly against her ear, his eyes locked with hers through the reflection of the mirror, “that’ll make you mine.”
His hold on her face was gone as his hand grabbed his cock. He rubbed his hard cock against her slit. She bit her bottom lip as his heat caused more juices to pool out of her cunt. It made her nerves shake, itching her skin in unbearable heat. He blinked, and his eyebrows furrowed as she opened her mouth to breathe loudly.
“I’m yours,” she said clearly. He groaned as he pushed the tip of his cock into her entrance. “Give me everything, BaeJin.” Pleasure blinded her vision as she saw nothing but white and gold flecks of stars. She gave a loud gulp when she felt his hand grip onto her chin again, his wrist pressing against her throat. Her grip on his arms tightened as she held onto him for leverage. His cock pushed in deeper, and the walls of her pussy trembled as heat filled her body in overwhelming waves. “I’m yours.”
His lips were on her neck and when her vision cleared all her eyes could focus was on the way his cock was fucking her pussy. He started with shallow pushes, the rhythm steady as she bounced on his lap. She came and she gave a gentle mewl, blurting out his name as her walls squeezed his cock. A gentle chuckle escaped her lips as she saw him shut his eyes tight.
“You’re so easy to please,” he said as he pushed in deep. She gave a loud groan as he pulled out roughly before pushing in fast, going in balls deep. He started a steady, deep rhythm and she cried as she was filled with undiluted pleasure.
“You fuck so good,” she moaned, her hand reaching back to grab his hair. He sucked on her neck, leaving a red mark before he kissed her shoulder. “BaeJin, fuck me. I’m gonna - I’m - I’m gonna come.”
His grip around her waist tightened as he pushed faster into her, and they bent forward together as he came into her in deep pushes. Her fingers dug into his skin as she shut her eyes, taking in the sensation of his hot seed filling up her insides.
“Come,” he panted out heavily as she felt him withdraw from her. She whimpered as she felt his middle finger push into her come-filled cunt. His thumb rubbed up against her clit, making her nerves dance in hot waves. She cried out a soft orgasm as she came again. She breathed heavily as she rested against his body.
“We barely know each other,” she said after a while. She didn’t know how long they sat together, staring at their reflection before she finally spoke.
“We have the rest of our lives to get to know each other,” he said, running a hand up and down her thigh, sending heat up and down her back. “You are mine now.”
He pulled her off his lap, and they laid in bed together. A shiver went down her back as he kissed her shoulder. They were facing each other, her left leg locked between his muscular thighs.
Giving a laugh, she watched him grab her wrist. He kissed the inside of her wrist before kissing the inside of her elbow. She shut her eyes as she felt his lips on her shoulder. Every kiss sent a vibrating heat under her skin. His mouth sucked on her neck and she grabbed onto the back of his hair as his teeth grazed against her skin. The muscles in her stomach tightened. The world ceased to exist as BaeJin’s embrace consumed her.
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What do you think it is about GSR that makes it so compelling? I don’t even like romance in media, it always annoys me when they insert some sort of romantic plot in a series that I’m watching (I’m aromantic!) but I literally bawled my eyes out at the end of One to Go. And still ten years later I’m having giddy schoolgirl like reactions to seeing these two simply holding hands and embracing. I think they ruined romance for me :D
hey, anon!
i actually have a post on that exact topic here, if you're interested.
i also have some additional thoughts after the “keep reading,” if you care to read.
i think one of the first things people tend to notice about grissom and sara is that they’re different—even just purely in terms of how they defy the usual standards for what a main romantic pairing on a tv drama is.
even though grissom is the main character on the show, compared to his counterparts elsewhere in the franchise, i.e., horatio caine and mac taylor, and even his younger coworkers, i.e., nick stokes and warrick brown, he is not the natural choice to be the male romantic lead on csi, not only as he doesn’t fit the traditional “macho heartthrob” mold for such a role but also because of his personality (as he’s not particularly outgoing or adventuresome). while billy had often played the bad boy and/or love interest earlier in his career, with grissom he exudes a completely different—and less overtly sexual—energy. particularly on a “cop show,” his bookishness is about as far afield from what one would expect from the male romantic lead as any vibe could be. 
meanwhile, while sara is the age one might expect the female romantic lead on a primetime drama to be, she’s no more the natural choice to fill such a role than grissom is to fill its male equivalent one—and especially not when held up in comparison to catherine. not only is catherine the more obvious option because marg helgenberger is the show’s actual female lead, receiving top billing alongside billy, but also because marg plays catherine exactly to that type, i.e., as the traditional fair-haired beauty, good with the banter, capable of being both strong and vulnerable in turns—really, the ideal early 00s tv woman. conversely, sara/jorja, while attractive, certainly, is not that “classic beauty.” sara also doesn’t tick the right boxes to play “the girlfriend,” personality-wise; she is awkward, cagey, and oftentimes harsh. she lacks polish. is raw. doesn’t possess any of catherine’s effortless grace or poise.
of course, for as much as neither grissom nor sara is what one might expect a romantic lead on a mega-hit procedural to be on an individual level (and especially not one set in las vegas, the whole aesthetic of which is “sex, sex, sex”), they’re especially not what one might expect when taken together.
if you lined up the whole original cast and asked someone who had never seen or heard of the show before to pick out which two characters were a couple, of all the combinations they might toss out, i think grissom/sara would be near the bottom of the list.
they defy all expectations of what the main romantic pairing on what was (at the time) one of the most risqué shows on television should look and act like.
—and, honestly, for a lot of people, that’s a turnoff.
there are plenty of folks out there who take one glance at them and go, “really? him? with her? them???? those two nerds???????”
but for those who aren’t immediately put off, the defiance of expectation can actually be intriguing—a draw, as it were.
fans look at grissom and sara as a couple and wonder, “okay, so if this isn’t just the typical ‘these two actors fill a certain set of largely superficial expectations, so let’s put their characters together’ kind of pairing of convenience, then what is it? what made the showrunners decide to write a romance between these two unlikely people, and not only that but also to make them the main (and really only!) romantic pairing on the show? why aren’t we looking at, say, catherine/warrick or nick/sofia or [fill in the blank other ‘more traditional tv couple’] here instead? what’s the rationale?”
and in looking, that’s when people realize that the difference with gsr isn’t just skin deep. it’s not just that grissom and sara don’t fit the usual tropes or that they have an unexpected aesthetic.
it’s the substance of what they are.
that substance really starts with the composition of the ship—that it came about relatively “organically” (at least insofar as any television production choice can actually be organic).
yes, sara was originally conceived of as the love interest for grissom, so the possibility of the two characters being together was always on the table. but the fact that it actually came about and was something that made it to the screen (as opposed to becoming just another early notion that fell by the wayside, a la the possibility of a nick/catherine romantic pairing) is the specific product of jorja being cast in the role—of her having a fantastic chemistry read with billy—and of billy and jorja then themselves advocating for the relationship because they genuinely enjoyed playing it and felt like it was right for their characters.
while some big stars do have enough weight to throw around that they can influence writing and production choices on their shows, most actors in ensemble casts just have to make the best of what storylines they’re given, adopting an attitude of, “i’ll do whatever i’m told.” 
and, honestly, because that’s the way things most usually are, there have been plenty of tv romantic pairings over the years where the actors involved were just along for the ride—not having strong feelings one way or another about whom their character was dating, just taking what storylines they were dealt.
that billy and jorja both “bought in” to gsr so much and did have those strong feelings—enough so that billy, as a “big star” with enough stature to throw his proverbial weight around, told the writers that he wanted to continue to pursue the gsr storyline, even after they had considered (at the end of s3) ending it—is really remarkable.
that the actors playing the ship are not only comfortable with it but genuinely enjoy it—enough so that twenty years on, they’re reprising their roles at least in part so they can explore more of the intricacies of that dynamic—shows through on screen. there is a natural ease there. a kind of creative delight.
it’s easy to like this couple together because the people bringing them to life like them together.
—and especially when you tie the attitude billy and jorja bring to their portrayals in with their chemistry.            
as their recent interviews with regards to the reboot well-establish, billy and jorja love working together, they love playing grissom and sara, and they love depicting gsr, and the fact that they do really forms the backbone of this ship.
jorja has talked about how billy is the best scene partner she's ever had, and billy has lauded how jorja "just gets him" (meaning that sara, by extension, "just gets" grissom, too). they both have this incredible knack for playing off of each other, and the importance of that on-screen connection between them in making gsr what it is cannot be overstated.
chemistry between actors is such a fickle and unaccountable thing—it's either there or it's not, and there's no forcing it if it isn't—and thankfully they have it in scads. they instinctively connect with each other, and that's 95% of the battle toward making gsr compelling right there; it’s so easy to believe, based off of their interplay, that these two characters, no matter their circumstances, are always in love with and responding to each other at all times.
chemistry is important for any ship, but it's especially so with gsr because, with this coupling in particular, so much of the romance plays out "between the lines."
all of the little looks, surreptitious touches, irrepressible smiles, pining expressions, silent acknowledgments, etc. between them count for so much, and almost all of that stuff comes from the actors as opposed to from the scripts or the direction.
if billy and jorja didn't inflect their performances with all of those brilliant, subtle physical touches and bring such a palpable energy to grissom and sara's on-screen interactions, gsr wouldn't be even half as compelling as it is, but because they do (and because they are such intuitive portrayers all around) the whole dynamic just takes on a life of its own.
the relationship feels like it's always in motion, even when it's not receiving direct narrative focus, and that's truly remarkable.
of course, it’s not just production-level, outside-of-the-universe-of-the-show stuff that sets gsr apart from other ships.
it’s also how they’re presented within the universe of the show.
these two characters are so well-suited to each other.
for being the flagship (and really only major and consummated) romantic coupling on csi, grissom and sara never get a lot of screen time together, and particularly not in terms of them actually being shown as a couple post-s5.
but the thing is, lack of screen time notwithstanding, we never have to question their fit together, because we've been shown over and over again, in so many different ways, just how perfectly they go together.
from little things, like their shared affinity for the body farm, to more substantial similarities, like how their biographies are in some ways eerily alike, to the big "soulmates"-level stuff, like how they have this uncanny ability to always just "find each other" at times when they're feeling impossibly alone, a thread runs through the entire show, establishing that these two characters align; they share core values; they are of a type; they are inevitably drawn to each other; they are each other's "people."
for all of their miscommunication and their occasional rough patches, they are ultimately harmonized with each other in the ways that truly matter, and the fact that they are shows through not only in scenes where they are directly interacting with each other but even in scenes in which they are apart.
i've been rewatching the early seasons of the show recently, and i'm struck by how often they end up expressing similar sentiments at different times; how often their attitudes mirror each other.
they have their differences, too, enough so to keep things interesting—e.g., sara’s more naturally social than grissom is, grissom is more capable of compartmentalizing, etc.—but on the important issues, they match up.
they are both ultimately humanists. both kind to others. both closet believers in the goodness of people. they both have quirky senses of humor (and especially in how they appreciate bad puns). they're both awkward. both passionate. both possessed of beautiful intellects. both possessed of beautiful hearts.
and it’s not just that they share natural similarities but also that they inflect upon each other—that they are changed (for the better) by being in each other’s lives.
grissom learns to be more open in his affections not just for sara but for all of the people that he cares about the longer he is with her (see, for example, how gentle he is with greg during the demetrius james case in s7 after sara draws to his attention the fact that greg could use some tlc); sara becomes increasingly trusting and willing to put herself out there with the team once grissom proves to her that some people are worthy of that kind of confidence.
while theirs is not a straight-line path from “once upon a time” to “happily ever after” (or even AFTER what should ostensibly be “happily ever after”) and the later seasons of the show do see them experience some considerable setbacks in terms of their development both individually and as a couple, that they are generally good for each other and thrive when they are together—barring traumatic experiences and subsequent mental illness—is obvious.
it’s also obvious that they make each other happy.
one of my favorite pieces of writing advice with regards to romantic storylines is this: "tell me that these two characters are in love with each other without telling me that they're in love with each other."
and that’s something that is done so, so well with gsr.
even before they’re actually a couple, there are so many instances when they simply light up in each other’s presence, when they’re so obviously proud of and protective over each other, when they so clearly seek each other out in the crowd, when they are soft with each other, when they’re undeniably each other’s best friends.
and beyond their characterization, there’s also the romantic sensibilities of how their story is told.
—and here i'm talking "romantic" as in "the romantic era."
forgive me for putting on my english professor hat here, but i've long opined that grissom and sara's love story is just about the closest thing i've ever seen to an actual jane austen novel play out on primetime television.
here we've got two flawed but utterly well-suited characters, each one of whom considers themselves somehow unworthy of the other person's affections, and both of whom are prevented from being with each other (at least outwardly) because their social positions will not allow them to romantically associate.
impeded by societal constraints, they try, for a time, to stay away from each other, occasionally bruising each other's hearts as they do so, but their natural affections soon overcome both their fears and their willingness to conform to the rules, until eventually they face all risks to come together.
that is, to put it bluntly, some darcy and elizabeth shit right there.
people have been reading jane austen novels for 200+ years now in large part because they are a master class in how anticipation is a crucial component of a good love story.
of course we all want to see the eventual consummation when the lovers finally overcome all obstacles and join together, embarking on their "happily ever after," but what we want before that point is to be shown—and not only told—that these two people are perfect matches; to see that even when they are separated by conditions outside of themselves, they are inevitably drawn toward each other again; to watch as they work through both external hardships and internal foibles to make a future possible for them.
we want to see them pine and long and perish for want of something they feel they cannot have before we see them fully and completely satisfied in having it.
we want to scream because if they could just speak to each other freely, they could easily resolve so many of the problems between them, but we also want to savor the fact that, at least for a while, they can do no such thing—that they are both forbidden (by the rules of decorum in their situation) from giving voice to the desires of their hearts and also incapable (due to their own hang-ups) from doing so; that they have to build to the point where they are less afraid of the consequences for taking action than they are committed to being with each other.
we want to revel in the words as of yet unsaid, to know that at present the closest they can get is to brush fingertips, to feel that they are both simultaneously just on the verge of something and also impossibly far away from it.
we want that actualization to be held back until that last possible moment, when it finally bursts forth, and suddenly all of the previous limitations are either tossed aside or fully broken from.
and for as much as that's what we get with darcy and elizabeth or knightley and emma, that's what we get with grissom and sara, too.
though they are in a story set in millennial las vegas rather than on a landed estate in georgian england, and though they are solving murders rather than attending balls, they are every inch the spiritual successors to austen's forbidden lovers.
"if i loved you less, i might be able to talk about it more."
their romance does that careful dance of anticipation > satisfaction to perfection.
it's a throwback to a style of storytelling where while there is certainly a payoff, the build-up is also very carefully crafted. though not playing by exactly the same rules as would have been adhered to in nineteenth-century england, they are nevertheless operating in a certain kind of a comedy of manners, in that they are beholden to certain social expectations and tied up in their own insecurities and that they hedge and hesitate and hold back until they can finally do so no more.
and being shown time and time again that these characters love each other “against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be” (to borrow the words of another writer of the romantic era though not necessarily of the romantic school himself) is peak romance/romanticism.
that’s the classic, grab-at-your-heartstrings-and-tug formula right there. 
they love each other so much, and at the end of the day, that’s what they choose—to just be together.
and to me, personally, that’s honestly the most compelling thing about them:
that theirs is a story of hope.
here are two people who for different reasons are each absolutely, 100% convinced that they are going to be alone forever.
they’ve both been told throughout their lives that they are “unworthy”—grissom, that he is insufficiently human, a robot incapable of forming real bonds, unable to understand true emotions; sara, that she’s “too much,” that she’s too broken, too difficult, too much effort and not enough reward.
they’ve heard these criticisms enough that they’ve entirely internalized them and now each fully believe that they are unlovable; that no one will ever be able to embrace them as they are.
so they are both incredibly, heartbreakingly lonely.
they fill their lives with caring for others but have no expectation that anyone will ever stick around long enough to care for them in return.
but then they meet each other, and they fall in love right away, even though neither one of them is really the type to do so, and even though “on paper” they don’t really make sense, and even though there are about a thousand reasons why it’s a bad idea to even consider a relationship.
it’s nothing that either one of them is looking for at that point and nothing they could have ever anticipated, but once it happens, it’s a done deal.
they fall in love and never fall out of it.
“the course of true love never did run smooth” and all that, so even though they fall in love right away, it still takes them a long time to figure out how they can be together—to trust enough in good things to believe that they could actually love and be loved and be happy in a way they never thought possible.
initially, they’re both scared to allow themselves to imagine that things could maybe work out, so they sabotage themselves, throwing up barriers and running away from each other in different ways.
particularly after sara moves to vegas, they’re both miserable for a while, unable to determine how to make what they know they want in order to truly live and what they think they need in order to just survive balance out on scale.
so they face obstacles, mostly of their own making.
grissom puts sara off. sara eventually dates somebody else. grissom treats sara badly. sara walls grissom out. they break each other’s hearts. they pine. they suffer. they wait without knowing if anything will ever get better—if they’ll ever reach any kind of happy ending.
but the thing is, throughout it all, in spite of themselves, they still love.
they can never bring themselves to fully walk away from that connection. they can never give up on each other.
each one of them individually thinks that they are themselves the worst™, but they maintain this unfailing belief in each other. they both see this beauty and light in the other person that helps them hang on to the idea that maybe by some longshot they could actually have a chance.
so in the face of their hardships, they grow.
grissom gradually sets aside his fear of rejection, realizing that he must be transparent with sara about how he feels, not only for his own sake (and in the hopes that maybe they might someday be together), but for her—because he cares about her, and she needs to know as much; she needs to understand just how deeply she’s loved; just how deeply he loves her.
meanwhile, sara comes to trust grissom and eventually learns to open up to him, to believe that she can show him all the bruised and busted parts of her that she never thought anyone could accept, knowing that he won’t leave her; knowing that he’ll stay.
it takes time, but eventually they resolutely, emphatically, and with no more hesitation choose each other over everything.
these two people who never thought they’d have anyone say to each other, “don’t worry—i’ve got you.”
and even though the world they inhabit is a grim one, filled with all manner of depravities and darkness, they become each other’s lights.
sara restores grissom’s faith in the human being.
grissom becomes the only home sara has ever known.
they don’t always get things right, even after they’re together, as they both have a lifetime of fear and doubt to unlearn. but even in times of adversity, when their anxieties get the better of them, the feelings they have for each other don’t change, and eventually, even after partings, they find each other again.
they choose each other again and again.
they stubbornly, against all odds, choose to love each other.
and what is that, if not hope?
to deliberately, time and time over, despite outward obstacles, despite inward fears, say to someone who had never been loved and never thought that they could be “i choose to love you” and “i’m afraid, but i love you anyway” and “even if we part, i’ll find some way back to you. i promise. just give me time. i will still love you in the meanwhile” is such a beautiful human thing, such a radical act of connection in an otherwise dismal and lonely universe.
that tearstained, heart-full-to-busting look of “you came back for me? you still love me? oh, you do!” on sara’s face when grissom comes traipsing out of the jungle—
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that plucked-from-the-tempest, homecoming-after-years-spent-away “she’s here—she’s here!—and somehow, despite everything, she still loves me” expression grissom wears as he sinks into sara’s arms on his boat—
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that’s what it’s all about.
that’s a love story.
that’s a human story.
and of course people want to watch a story like that.
whether or not one desires romantic love in their own life, i think most people can relate to that question of “am i actually lovable? would anyone choose me if they knew who i really am?” even if on a more platonic level; we all want to know (whether romantically or in terms of our family and friends or on a broader human scope) if even with all of our flaws considered, we can be accepted, embraced, wanted, chosen.
the gsr love story emphatically answers yes to those questions: 
yes, you are lovable, even if you don’t think you are.
and to my mind, there are few answers more compelling than that one.
so while every fan’s mileage in why they like gsr may vary, i think that’s a lot to do with it—this idea of two lonely people who find each other and choose love over fear.
i’ve gone on for a while now.
thanks for the question! please feel welcome to send another any time.
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jamestrmtx · 2 years
Wish Upon a Night Sky - [Beastars | Various x Reader]
[Female, Sheep Reader | Slow Burn]
After calling upon the decision to test the waters between carnivores and herbivores, things at Cherryton Academy turn far more tense than they already were. Unsurprisingly, there are those who poke fun at the decision, both with good and bad reasons at hand. Calling the academy out on such high of a risk's understandable, but mocking carnivores for making friends with their opposites isn't.
Having been sheltered through seventeen years of homeschooling and the rigid rule of never going out at night, you far from expect being allowed to attend there after your eighteenth birthday. Regardless, you don't plan on cowering back. Your want to expose yourself to the real world, meet new people, and live through new experiences outweighs that fear, transforming it into strength.
Act One | Man's Best Friend
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Already messy files almost end up scattered on the floor, yet you manage to salvage them right on time. Your hands and legs shake just as fast as your heart beats; even breathing is a challenge with how stressed your mind is. Being around a large number of people wasn't the norm in your home; you'd been used to being a close family of six since you were born, and nothing more. Spending time with others beyond relatives was a rarity, as was the idea and agreement of having you study your final year in Cherryton -- far outside the safety of your home. Now that you're eighteen and near to graduating, your family's given you three simple rules to follow: never step out of campus at night, never join acting, and never show daintiness. All three of them emphasize the word 'never'; not a single space for protest or bargain is left in those rules. You knew the consequences of going out at night, as well as the risks of calling forth unwanted attention by choosing not to dress how you were told and letting any sort of bubbly nature out. Being forbidden to join acting was by far the only thing they hadn't explained to you by full.
"Your dorm is through here," Jack says, pointing with his eyes and snout over to a busy hallway.
While the person giving you the tour isn't exactly the type you were warned of before being admitted into this school, he isn't exactly of your type either, but more of a happy medium between the two: a dog. Not quite a carnivore and not quite a herbivore, he's what you learned to be an omnivore -- a kind you were taught to be wary of just as much as a wolf or a lion. Even then, his presence is about as warm and welcoming as sun rays on a cold, winter day, and you find it hard not to smile when he continues to show you around the place. He only ever stops when he sees he's left you far behind, a product of you losing yourself in your thoughts and the new world around you. 
His excitement is one you wish you could manifest just as much as him, though the reminder of how you had to behave at this school leads you to brush and bury those ideas away and hold yourself back.
"Are you okay?"
Jack's question paired up with his careful tone help pull you out of your daydreaming. How concerned he looks makes you take note of the expression you're carrying. Oftentimes, you scrunched up your snout and furrowed your brow -- whenever you became lost in thought, mostly. To any outsider like him, it would seem as if though you're bothered by something, so you hurry in your reply, words leaving you in a rush, "I'm okay." Your smile returns as you meet his eyes. "I just… I got caught up with something else."
"Nervous about staying here?"
"About everything, honestly."
He lets out a laugh at that, and his gaze brightens as he motions for you to follow him once more.
Your next destination is what appears to be the rooms you were informed of at the beginning of your visit -- judging by the rows of doors laid around, along with one of them left open, displaying a bunk bed in the background. There's a student by the dresser, combing her fur without so much as bothering to look at you or Jack. She's far too focused on her brushing to acknowledge she's left the room visible to those wandering outside, though -- with her being a wolf -- you assume she's confident in herself. Or you believe so, at the very least, as based on the rumours your parents and every other family member taught you.
You halt when you notice Jack stops right by that door and see him gesture over with his head for you to step inside. 
"Is this allowed?" you blurt out, rushing to cover up not a minute after that question leaves your mouth. "O- Oh gosh, I'm sorry! I didn't mean it like that."
"It's alright," he says, chuckling. "I know you're homeschooled, so if you have any questions about how things work here, feel free to ask me!" He stops for a moment and seems to recall something along the way. "And you can come over to my place, too, if you need more help with showing you around."
"How bold of you to invite a girl into the boys' dorm, Jack." 
A feminine voice comes from behind him, and -- soon after -- the wolf from earlier appears next to the dog. She directs a cheeky grin at him, then a friendlier smile at you. "You're my roommate, aren't you?" she says, nodding her head in the direction of your dorm. "What are you standing there for? I want to get to know you!" She sounds about twice as cheerful as Jack acts. "I was told about your arrival almost three whole months ago, so the wait has been long enough."
"...You're Juno?" you ask, making memory of the list handed over to you just a few hours ago. 
She nods, eyes softening. "(Y/N), right? It's... nice to have a herbivore who won't look for a change of dorms the second she sees me."
Already feeling guilty, you can only hope she hadn't heard you earlier ago. It was a known fact you tended to speak without thinking sometimes (if not, most of the time), so you make a mental note out of it and set up a goal to improve on that throughout the rest of the year. You thank Jack and say your goodbyes before following her into the room.
At the sound of the door closing, you breathe a sigh of relief with the knowledge you've made it this far without screwing up too badly. The next thing in mind is to try sparking up some conversation, but only when you make enough mental preparation for it -- aware your thoughts might run haywire and tactless again. "But... Why would they do that? Isn't it normal at this school?"
Juno shows you around the room and stops next to one of the beds, bottom one being the only one out of all the others around to have some of her possessions settled down on it. "It's allowed," she replies and continues with, "And though it's not too uncommon for both carnivores and herbivores to be placed together... Things got a lot more tense after a student's passing." Her ears droop along with her tail, and a hint of gloom clashes with her friendly demeanor. "That's why you're the only other woman in this room, and why I…" Her body shudders as she lets out a breath. "Why I try not to walk alone in the halls anymore." She takes another breath and lets it out with a huff. A hushed swoon then seems to take her over, replacing her sadness about as quickly as her ears go back up. "Although... I guess I wouldn't have met someone wonderful, if some students hadn't cornered me for being a carnivore not long after I arrived here."
The wolf sighs, then faces you with droopy eyelids and a softer smile. "Tell me, (Y/N)... Have you ever fallen in love? It's the most incredible feeling I can describe!" She sits down on the bottom bed, though she scoots aside, leaving you some space next to her. "They say your last year at school's the last chance you have for experiencing an emotion so strong, but I like to believe it will carry on as long as your love is powerful enough for it!"
While you're a bit lost as to what point she's trying to make, you smile and nod along as you wait for her to continue speaking. 
After all, having two friends at the beginning of your final school year didn't sound like a bad idea. Hopefully, your lonely days would start to change; your conversation with Jack and your current one with Juno have been -- without much exaggeration -- the most interaction you've had during all your eighteen years of living. Knowing you were finally free to meet as many people as you'd want as well as study over brand-new things and the relationships between both kinds made your worries and doubts more than worthwhile. No matter how often your family and distant acquaintances warned you otherwise, you needed to grow, learn, explore, and see more outside what was taught to you at home. 
You hear Juno out until she asks if you have a special someone yourself; the question turns out to be a bit of a difficult one to answer with how little people you knew to this day. So far, the only experience you remember similar to that of having a crush on someone was by reading stories of adventure and challenge when you were younger. All of these were confiscated by your family whenever you gained too many ideas, fell for a character, or whenever a book so much as mentioned the word carnivore between its pages -- in a light aside from that of hostile and negative.
Although it feels like nothing short of wishful thinking, you hope your current circumstances change soon with the new path being offered out to you; in that, you carry a strong and unshakable desire over.
And, who knows? 
Maybe one day you'd be able to sneak out and watch the night sky, too -- and with a friend or two by your side, preferably.
"I don't, but…" You trail off to consider her question; overwhelmed by the changes and influenced by her energetic self, you find it hard not to follow along with her. "I wouldn't mind having one -- if that opportunity ever came around!"
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remys-lucky-franc · 2 years
Remy x MC (Queen of Thieves) - Kissing Prompt #14
This is the final ‘kiss prompt’ that I have on my request list. I’m sad 😔
I’ve really enjoyed working on these - this wee challenge got me back into the habit of writing regularly which is so nice as I’d been doing ‘sit and stare at a blank page’ thing for months, thank you for inviting me to join in folks.
Prompt #14 - a kiss so desperate that that the two wind around each other, refusing to let go until they are finished - requested by lovely @mcira for lovely Remy
It’s a sort of a ‘good heist goes bad’ alt-version of the ‘first ever kiss on film’ heist from Remy’s S1. Also, I relocated it to Barcelona because Paris is too inland 😂
Written from MC POV.
Word count ~6100 (marked #long fic if anyone wants to filter it away - adding ‘read more’ isn’t reliable - don’t want to clog anyone’s dash x)
TW: drowning / broken bones
I curse, scrambling to keep my balance as the yacht lists suddenly to the right; my arms flailing, thrown backwards trying to grip at the doorway to stay upright. I collide with it and stretch my hands out to save myself as I hit the ground awkwardly: the crack from my arm makes me feel sick to my stomach. Furniture shifts. Decor clatters to the floor. Lights overhead flicker violently. What the hell was that noise? Something has gone very, very wrong.
—-24 hours earlier —-
Remy and I have spent well over a month on this con now, establishing and ingratiating ourselves with the obnoxious specimen that is Parker Vos. Ugh, even his name makes my skin crawl. Tonight we’ve met up for some drinks: Parker’s idea. Remy’s positioned himself between Parker and I at the bar of the plush cocktail lounge and I watch on as Parker charges his glass again, loudly laughing, clapping his hand on Remy’s shoulder. Remy clinks glasses with him, smile jovial, eyes full of myrth; swallowing down the liquor to perfectly conceal the bile I know is steadily rising within his throat. If there is anyone who dislikes Parker Vos more than I do, it’s Remy Chevalier.
Watching Remy work a con has been quite an experience. He knows instinctively what people want to see and hear - oftentimes even before they know themselves. He reads their body language with practiced ease and plays his part to meet The Gilded Poppy’s ends: a master of assuaging insecurities or fuelling egos. And I have never known an ego like Parker’s. He’s spent half of the evening acting like Remy’s his long-lost best friend, and the other half undressing me - his buddy’s ‘wife’ - with cold, soulless eyes.
Parker’s on his feet, moving to refill my champagne flute but I move my hand to cover the top, opening my mouth in a half-protest.
He grins at me as I giggle, “I shouldn’t - I’ve had too much already-”
Tutting and moving my hand away from the opening of glass, he pours another generous serving of fizz. I make a big deal out of rolling my eyes at him and exclaiming that’s he’s ‘such a bad influence’. Inside I’m far from smiling - I hate guys who behave like this.
Parker doesn’t seem to want to let go of my hand, his fingertips trace my palm casually, an amused, self-satisfied grin spread over his face. I feel colour rising rapidly from my chest to the tips of my ears and Parker raises an eyebrow at me - clearly delighted that he’s gotten me flustered - but it’s not his touch or his gaze that’s set me alight. It’s the way that Remy’s eyes burn into me from the next seat, flecks of gold and green glitter like fire and the mask he wears is one that I can’t quite decipher, the only clue to his true feelings being the exaggerated bob of his throat as he continues to pretends he’s oblivious to the game Parker’s playing. I simper as I extract my hand from Parker’s to toast our glasses. I know Remy and I aren’t really married, but Parker doesn’t: this guy really has zero shame.
Remy’s seamlessly switched to wearing a playful smirk as he reaches across me, clinking all three of our glasses together, “Ma cherie, the bubbles are going to her head, Parker - look how flushed she is!”
His free hand reaches up affectionately cupping my cheek and I feel myself sink longingly into his gentle touch, his daring wink makes my heart stutter as Parker drones on, boasting about only ordering the very finest champagne for his friends.
A short time later, Remy excuses himself and he hasn’t even reached the bathroom before Parker has slid across to occupy his stool, angling himself into me just a little closer than could be considered appropriate. He’s such a snake, it takes all my energy to fix a sweet, naïve smile on my face when his hand comes to rest on my arm; the way his touch makes me feel compared to Remy’s is so stark in its contrast. He’s watching my face intently as he smirks at me - always bragging about his wealth and possessions, always looking for any sign that he’s impressing me.
He’s acting shocked that this is is the first time I’ve been to this particular bar, given that it’s one of Barcelona’s hot-spots, wondering out loud why my husband never brought me here before now. I sip daintily at my glass as I tell him this sort of place is generally outside of our budget, that it would only ever be somewhere that we’d come for a special occasion. As Parker nods, sacharrine-sweet condescension guising as sympathy, I think about how Remy was absolutely right when he told me he reckoned Parker gets a real kick out of feeling like the Alpha Male in any room and I lean into it. He’s back onto his favourite brand of champagne again - asking me if I ever tried it before tonight. I have, but I play along, feeding the narrative, telling him exactly what he wants to hear: Remy would be proud of me.
I shake my head wistfully, “It’s really delicious, it’s such a lovely treat to have something so decadent. I can understand it being your favourite, Parker - you have really good taste.”
He sighs, looking almost troubled, “You know it makes me sad that a girl like you can’t have everything her heart desires. I’ve got cases galore of the stuff on my yacht. I have it brought in directly from the vineyard just outside Epernay.” He pauses, quirking his head at me, “Say, have you ever been on a yacht?”
I think about what Remy’s always tells me about the best and most convincing cons: they stick as closely to the truth as possible. I feel a genuine smile blossom as I tell Parker about the little sailboat my grandfather had and how I loved spending time on it with him when I was a little girl. I can hear the warmth in my own voice and I know my eyes are sparkling as I think about those happy memories, but rather than ask me anything about my grandfather or my childhood, Parker patronises me and uses it as another opportunity to play ‘The Big I Am’. He chuckles as he tells me that wasn’t a real boat, then reels off what sounds like the manufacturer’s sales pitch for his top-of-the-range, fully customised yacht. Heaven knows, I really want to punch this guy but I nod, maintaining my rapt expression - all wide-eyed and utterly impressed. As he drones on, my brain wanders thinking how the same conversation would have gone sitting here with Remy instead.
Parker’s incessant boasting continues as he drawls about how much he would love to take me out on his yacht, “I think a girl like you would appreciate a boat like mine you know, and you’d look so good on it.”
Such. A. Creep.
I shoot him a rueful smile before biting my lip and looking down at the my hands. My fake wedding ring sparkles up at me under the low lights of the bar. I can feel Parker’s beady eyes on me watching my every move like I’m his prey. I fidget with the golden band and I know I’m working this con just right when he pushes my hair back from my face and tips my chin upward to look at him. A grin slithers across his face - poison hidden just behind the facade.
“Why don’t you come on the yacht with me this weekend, baby? You can have as much of this champagne as you like - I’ll show you how you deserve to be treated.”
I don’t have to fake being a little taken aback: I know it’s been our objective to get on that yacht, and I knew we were reeling him in, but the blatancy of his invite still knocks me off guard!
I glance towards the bathrooms and see that Remy’s making his way back across the bar. I use the shock of the invitation to my advantage, worrying my bottom lip between my teeth as I tell Parker, “Remy’s coming back.” I look up at him through my lashes and breathe, “Parker, I- I don’t know? It sounds amazing, but honestly, I’m not sure I should.”
Parker searches my dark eyes, voice smug, so confident that his charms have me falling for him; that he’s so irresistible I’d be ready to betray my husband with him, “I think you do know. You just don’t want to hurt Remy, because you’re a sweet girl. But I’ll make a deal with you, I’ll send you the directions to where she’s docked - and I’ll be there waiting. If you come...”, his thumb brushes across my lips and I draw in a sharp breath while my stomach lurches. His voice lowers as he stares at my mouth, “I’ll show you, I can give you everything you ever wanted and more besides.” Then he’s gone, quickly slithering back to his own bar stool, duplicitously clasping and shaking Remy’s hand as he returns, as though he didn’t just proposition his wife.
Remy fumed about the audacity of Parker Vos the whole way back to the penthouse last night. And I thought he disliked the guy before... I’d hate to see how Remy would react if someone hit on his real wife because he is the most convincingly jealous fake-husband I’ve ever seen. And his attitude towards our mark got even worse when Parker text me with the coordinates for Port Vell Marina.
When we got back we debriefed Nikolai on all of the night’s events and came to the conclusion that me going to the yacht alone was not an option. I argued that I was more than capable of handling him but Remy was adamant that Parker was an entitled creep and it was too dangerous. Nikolai agreed with Remy, and when I huffed that he would trust Vivienne to fly solo, I have never seen him look more annoyed. He barked at me that he it was his decision, his responsibility and he refused to put any member of his team into that position alone, especially where there was no option for back up if things started to take a wrong turn. As much as I hated to back down, I knew from his tone that he was being completely honest and I should apologise and accept his decision. We spent the rest of the evening coming up with our next move - for Remy and I to arrive at Parker’s yacht together.
We arrive at the beautiful Marina at Port Vell the following afternoon and I don’t have to feign how impressed I am. It is absolutely stunning - the sun dapples the turquoise blue waters while every gleaming yacht is sleeker and grander than the last.
Remy’s holds my hand firmly as we head towards Berth 26 where Parker’s imposing yacht is docked. Our play this afternoon is that I was heading out to meet Parker when Remy asked where I was going and I couldn’t think of any reason for him not to come along that didn’t seem strange or suspicious.
We reach the yacht and I see Parker. The irritate look on his face is replaced in an instant as he wraps us both in a friendly hug, before ushering us onboard. As he takes my hand to help me up the steps, he shoots me a look as though to enquire ‘why the hell aren’t we alone?’ and I drop my head like I’ve never been more deeply disappointed by anything in my life.
Remy has Parker chatting about the spec of the boat and I fear that he may never shut up about it. We spend at least fifteen minutes in the cockpit as Parker regales us with tales about how he got rid of his last captain, how he prefers to sail the yacht himself: bravado, bravado, bla bla bla. My cheeks hurt from the fake grin I have plastered across my face but I really lose the will to live as he places a captain’s hat on my head, cracking a joke to Remy about female drivers and saying that if I felt brave enough, he might even let me steer later. As we walk I ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ where appropriate, observing the ostentatious gold fixings and over-the-top ornate features and I conclude that no amount of money can buy you class.
When we eventually reach the sun deck, Remy raises an eyebrow at me, “Oh. Ma cherie, I think we may be intruding. Parker, were you expecting other company?”
I cringe as my eyes land on the biggest bunch of roses I’ve ever seen, sat next to a bottle of the same champagne we were drinking in the bar last night. I know Parker is a truly awful person, but I can’t help but feel a little sorry for him. His cheeks colour lightly, clearly having forgotten that he paid someone to set this up for him and his mouth works hard at opening and closing for a few painful seconds before his brain catches up, “Oh! Those? A ‘friend’ of mine was supposed to join me a bit before you both arrived. Then I thought we could have some drinks together, all four of us.”
Remy nods, his expression neutral, but eyes sharp, “I see. And they’re running late?”
Parker shrugs, eyes flicking to look at me as he lies, “She cancelled at the last minute. Something else came up.”
Remy wraps his arm around me making a show of planting a soft kiss on my cheek, his sympathetic words juxtaposed to the smirk apparent in his tone, “How awful, cherie! Good old Parker’s been left in the lurch. And after going to all that trouble too!”
I grimace, “I’m really sorry to hear that, Parker.”
Parker clears his throat, snatching up the champagne bottle, “Yeah. I’ll grab us some glasses.”
As he heads inside, I dig Remy in the ribs with my elbow and hiss, “What the hell was that?!”
Remy grins, his face full of mischief, “It’s obvious that I suspect there’s ‘something going on’ here”, he gestures between me and the roses, “and if he knows I’m willing to fight for you mon couer, it makes you all the more attractive to him...”
Knowing he’s right, but hating it, I pull a face.
He winks at me, “Plus, your Remy wants to have a little fun making him squirm.”
We set sail a little after two-thirty, and as the afternoon progresses, it’s not just Parker who Remy is making squirm. Aside from a variety of vaguely passive aggressive jokes about being stood up and dating disasters - at one point even suggesting that I set Parker up with one of my friends, Remy is possibly the most tactile he’s ever been with me during this con: his hand is either holding mine, on my knee, or touching my face at every given opportunity. And his strategy is working because every single time Remy’s hands are on me, Parker’s eyes follow.
I know it’s all for Parker’s benefit but I just can’t help the way my heart races when Remy touches me. I have to keep telling myself it’s just for the con - all a part of his strategy. I repeat it over and over like a mantra: ‘It’s just for the con. It’s not real. It’s just for the con.’ But it feels so good. So real. And I want him so badly my chest aches.
Part of my role on today’s outing is scouting out the location of the reel of film we’re trying to steal. We’ve long suspected that it’s somewhere on the boat. So while the men continue to drink and chatter, I excuse myself and head to the restroom, getting myself deliberately lost in the labyrinth below deck. I’m fascinated by the amount of cool and interesting stuff that Parker owns despite being an uncultured jerk. I wonder if he has any genuine interest in any of it at all, or if it’s entirely for bragging rights and to impress other people. The further I wander unrestricted, the more I marvel and get to wondering just how rich Parker actually is? It’s so unfair - he deserves pretty much nothing that’s aboard this floating treasure trove... Then I see it - a can of film inside a glass case! Surely that’s got to be it? I quickly check the case, it’s pretty secure and looks like it’s inbuilt to the wall cabinet?! That means... This must be it - the first kiss ever recorded... I beam from ear to ear as I think about how excited Remy is going to be when I tell him!!
Unbeknown to me, upstairs whilst Remy and Parker stand at the railing staring out into the glittering dark blue of the Med, Remy decides to lean a little further into his role of suspicious and jealous spouse. Remy subtly turns the conversation from small talk to a grilling before Parker even realises that he’s walking into a trap, “It’s a shame your friend couldn’t make it, Parker. It would have been lovely to meet the woman who’s caught your eye... You were hoping that the four of us could have drinks together, right?”
Parker nods, sipping at his glass.
“But you didn’t know I was coming?”
Parker laughs, deflecting, “Uh, yeah! I got that wrong, I thought you were otherwise engaged. I’m so glad you could make it, buddy! It’s always great to see you!”
Remy cocks his head to the side, face still open and neutral, like he’s trying to understand, ”Sure, I’m glad I could join. But I’m confused? You were planning on the four of us drinking that champagne, oui?”
Parker clears his throat, suddenly realising that Remy might actually not be as much of a mug as he’s taken him for.
Remy continues, face visibly hardening as he speaks, “From where I’m sitting, there’s no mystery lady, and no Remy? And - well - that just leaves you and my wife sailing around the Mediterranean with a bottle of champagne and a big bunch of roses, Parker.”
Parker waves his hands in the air defensively, “Wow, Remy!! Slow down - I don’t know where you think you’re going with this, but you’ve got it all wrong! You’re putting two and two together and getting five, my friend!”
Remy huffs a bitter laugh, his voice now dripping with sarcasm, “Oh, five? So, I have it all wrong that my wife was halfway out the door to come here, to be with you, alone? Seems convenient that your lady-friend mysteriously couldn’t make it at the last minute? The one I’ve never heard you mention before? Please, explain it to me, Parker. Because it looks to me like you’ve got designs on my wife.”
Parker stutters to find an answer for a second before the yacht jolts violent throwing both men to the ground.
I cradle my arm to my chest and grit my teeth as I clamber back onto my feet, nausea washing over me as I try my best not to move it again. Safe to say I don’t need a medical degree to tell me I’ve broken something.
After that god-awful metallic grinding, groaning noise everything has gone quiet. Eerily quiet. The normal lighting has gone, but the emergency lighting has kicked in casting a sickly green hue all around. I need to get back up to deck, to see what the hell just happened, to make sure Remy is ok!
I move towards the stairwell door and as I wrench it towards me, I’m met with a rush of cold water that makes me gasp. Oh this is bad. This is really, really bad. I stare at the fast-moving seawater spilling in, swirling around my feet: I’m rooted to the spot as panic rises rapidly in my chest. I’m not sure how many seconds have ticked by when I hear the roar of my name. Remy. I can’t see him, but I scramble towards the sound of his voice and call out to him, “I’m down here! Remy! I’m here!”
Water is rapidly filling the space below deck as Remy throws open the door of the opposite stairwell. I lurch towards him, sloshing through it, my limbs twice as heavy and struggling to stay upright against the slippery surface.
Remy wades through the corridor to reach me, calling to me, “I’m coming, cherie, it’ll be ok!” As we meet somewhere near the middle his hands grasp my shoulders as he gives me a quick once over, brows knit together when he sees how I’m holding my quick-swelling arm, “Merde! Is that broken?!”
I wince, nodding. The pain radiates from my wrist making my fingers tingle and my head buzz. Remy’s got one arm around me and he’s gripping at the walls with his free hand, moving us steadily toward the stairwell he came down: the water’s around my waist now. He keeps repeating, ‘it’s ok, it’s going to be ok’, but his usually calm voice jitters and I’m not sure if he’s saying it for my benefit or if he’s trying to make himself believe it. We reach the stairwell and Remy ushers me through the door. The tilt of the yacht makes it hard to climb the steps, but we fight to ascend. Up. Up. Up. We’re around half-way when the yacht jolts unexpectedly again; Remy grabs for the wet handrail. Every muscle in his body strains to keep us in place, to somehow stop us from careering back down the staircase. I feel lightheaded from the way my damaged arm jerks as he catches us, but it’s better than the alternative of plunging back down into the murky water. We resume our climb and make it up the final steps together. Only at the top do I truly appreciate the incongruous angle the yacht lists to, and start to properly grasp just how deadly this situation could be. The sounds of straining metal and hissing water fill the space around us and I’m scared. More scared than I’ve ever been in my life.

We scramble our way out across the badly-angled yacht, clinging to the side rails for purchase as we move: we need to get off this boat. It can’t end like this. In the time I’ve been below deck, dark clouds have rolled in and the rain pelts down on us. As we reach the side of the yacht, and I suck in a deep lungful of air trying to black out the pain radiating up and down my arm. Trying to steady my nerves, I tell myself, ‘We just need to get on the lifeboat, getting upstairs was the hardest part. Come on, you can do this - you can do this! We’re almost there, it’s going to be-’ But my silent pep talk is cut short and a sense of dread floods through me as I watch Remy surge around and around, a hand raking through his soaking hair as he yells,
“He’s gone! That bastard! He’s left us!”
Remy’s hanging over the side, trying to locate Parker, frantically yelling his name out into the dank, misty distance. But it’s useless - he’s long gone. Fresh panic rises as what that means sinks in: that snake abandoned us and the sinking ship. And he’s taken the only life vessel with him. A storm’s rolling in and visibility is poor. We’re miles from the coast without another boat in sight. The water this far out isn’t frigid but it’s still cool enough to catch hypothermia without the right clothing if you’re in it for a couple of hours - but we’re likely to end up in there because this yacht is going down. I’m not sure how long I could tread water for with a broken arm? I choke back my horror as I realise - I don’t think we can’t make it back. He’s left us out here to die.
Tears silently streak my face, mingling with saltwater and rain as I turn to Remy. I feel like I’m moving in slow motion, but he’s the most animated I’ve ever seen him, his hands shake and he curses as he pulls useless items out of one of the inbuilt storage benches, tossing them onto the wet deck behind him. I tug at his sleeve and rasp, “There’s no way off, is there?”
He refuses to meet my gaze, yanking his arm away from me, rummaging deeper, muttering in frustration. But I refuse to be brushed off, not now. I pull on his sleeve again, “Remy! Just, stop.”
He whirls on me, his usually smiling eyes are wild as they meet mine. And before I know what’s happening, right there on the deck of the part-submerged yacht, Remy pulls my face to his, mouth crashing desperately into mine. I gasp at the sensation of him. Rough. Passion-filled. Real. His lips spill every frenzied confession I ever wanted to hear and I’m losing myself in him; rapt in every disclosure. The surge of emotion between us swells my pounding heart and fills my soul, a choir with one refrain: he loves me, he loves me, he loves me. My body breaks into song - lyrical, a groan against Remy’s supple lips: rejoicing, dancing, dopamine-high. A million melodies, harmonies, symphonies rush through us as we cling to each other against the stormy saltwater spray. His touch is electric, flesh warm against my skin, deft fingers knotted in my hair drawing me close. Closer. So close I feel two heartbeats pulse through me like an orchestra nearing crescendo. I’m soaked, hurt and terrified, but somehow I’ve never felt more alive than I do right now, exalted in his arms. My hand grazes over the stubble of his jaw, the high arc of his cheekbone: my fingertips trace every beautiful feature, mapping every crease, every dimple. If this is our coda, if this is how it all comes to an end, I want to succumb remembering every delicious second of this kiss - every sensation, every caress, every breath, every poetic unspoken word. I want my finale to be us.
Our kiss ends breathlessly, foreheads touching: both unwilling to part. Remy’s lips hover over mine like we’re magnetised. Green eyes search my own as I gaze upon the face I love through dark lashes, trembling. I cover his heart with my palm - I never want to let him go. Seconds tick past that feel like minutes until he finally breaks away and I gulp for air. Bereft, my body aches for him.
Remy’s rifling through the storage benches again, items shoved from side to side, thrown and discarded until he shouts triumphantly, flare gun in hand! Slick hands fumble to load the cartridge, then he steps away from me, pointing the gun above his head, firing high. We watch as a plume of intense fire illuminates the sky above us, a beautiful SOS, hanging in the air before slowing making its descent to the sea.
The stricken vessel below us strains and groans as Remy grips my hand in his, “We aren’t going out like this, cherie.” He says it with such conviction and determination that my heart stutters. My eyes widen as he brandishes a life buoy at me. “There’s only one.”
Why am I not even surprised that a jerk like Parker went for 24-Carat light fittings but scrimped on the most basic of safety features and maintenance? I shake my head at Remy, fear threatens to take over, “We’re not jumping?!”
Remy exclaims, “We have to! We can’t stay on ‘til it sinks, it’s too dangerous! We need to get as far away as we can. We jump together and I promise you - I won’t let go of your hand. Ever.”
A cacophony of glass cracks and metal tears. Engineering crumbles against a backdrop of smoky neon as we huddle together at the edge of semi-capsized yacht. The rain continues to drive against us, and I understand why we have to jump, but I hate that it’s the only option. My hand fits inside Remy’s and he squeezes it tightly, my pulse racing as we count down together from three, two, one...
As we hit the cool water I cry out, pain seers through my busted arm and makes the world seem dull and frayed around the edges. Everything under water is eerily dark and silence rings in my ears as I plunge beneath the surface. In those seconds it feels strangely peaceful. Serene. My mind, so busy moments before, is a blank. An instant sedation - each nerve numb: novocaine static. It’s not until I feel Remy jerk at my hand, still firmly clasped in his, that my brain reconnects. I kick my feet and follow Remy upwards, breaking the waves, choking and gasping for air.
Remy manoeuvres the life buoy between us, urging me to take hold, his hand cupping my cheek, pushing back my sodden hair, eyes raking over me, “Are you ok??”
I cough and splutter as I nod my head at him: I’m fine. Remy doesn’t look convinced, but he doesn’t argue with me either. He takes charge of getting us away from the yacht and I follow him blindly, feeling dazed, clinging to the buoy. Minutes later, the yacht goes under and the rapid movement of air and water sends pieces of debris swirling perilously to the surface. A watery scrapyard bobs around us.
I feel sick and dizzy and I’m so cold that my teeth chatter. Did anyone see the flare? Is help coming?
Remy repositions himself and wraps both arms around me as we float aimlessly together. I don’t know how long passes, but every so often he says my name and jolts me to keep me awake, and honestly, I’m trying, but it’s so hard to keep my eyes open. I tell him I’m trying, but I feel so weak. Remy says I’m in shock and I mumble, “That kiss was the best shock I ever had.”
I feel the rumble of his laugh roll through me, and then his lips meet mine again. Soft this time. Slow. Tender. His affection washing over me. I feebly smile and sigh into his kiss, his comforting warmth surrounds me. His touch is like a beacon in the bleak dark water, keeping me focussed, keeping me hanging on. The situation is desperate, but at least I’m with Remy.
As time swirls past us, I drift in and out of consciousness, pulled back a final time by Remy shaking me, “Listen!! Do you hear it??”
I startle and try my best to concentrate... Then I hear it, a horn blasting. Someone’s coming! They must have seen our distress signal. Remy’s swimming as fast as he can for both of us, moving our heavy, tired bodies in the direction of the sound until we finally see it. Remy yells until he’s hoarse, waving, whistling - anything to attract their attention. As the vessel approaches, I hear rough, deep voices yelling in Spanish but my head’s too fuzzy and it’s fast for me to understand. Remy is shouting back at them to take me on board first, and before I know what’s happening, I’m being lifted - strong hands grip under my arms as I cry out for Remy. They pay me no heed: saviours in oilskins wrap me in a foil blanket, checking me over, patting my cheek and trying to get me to focus. I struggle to evade them, “Where is Remy?? You have to help him!!”
They won’t let me stand up, won’t let me move! Agitated tears blur my vision - they need to get Remy out of the water. And then I hear his voice and relief consumes me. The fishermen part to let him reach me, he’s dripping all over their deck and he looks so pale, but he’s here and we’re together. He throws his arms around me, clutching me close, face buried in my neck. We cling together, exchanging sweet words, counting our blessings and relishing the feeling of each other. A tall, thin, official-looking man wraps a second blanket around Remy’s shoulders, talking into his ear. Remy nods to him and then suddenly we’re moving below deck, to somewhere warm and dry. My good arm is around Remy’s neck, the other gentleman walks slowly by my other side, hand hovering to support me as my legs wobble. They give me a towel for my hair and large hooded sweatshirt to change into - Remy helps me and the feeling of the clean, dry fabric against my skin makes me want to weep. I sit on a makeshift bed, exhausted and sore, my head buzzing. Remy hasn’t changed into the fresh clothes they’ve left for him yet, he shivers but refuses to let go of my hand - as though he believes I might evaporate if he does.
The sailors tell us the coastguard is on their way and it won’t be long til we’re back on dry land. I can’t wait for my feet to be firmly on the ground. Remy asks the sailors for something to drink, but they refuse telling us not until we’ve seen a doctor. But Remy insists and eventually they relent, giving us both a large brandy. I swallow it down, grimacing at the taste and the burning sensation in my throat. I lie on my side, cheek pressed against a soft cushion, still shivering. I cradle my swollen arm to my chest, rising and falling as I struggle to come to terms with everything that’s happened today. Remy’s finally in dry clothes, and has crawled into the space by my side on the bunk. It’s going to take a while to process all of this, but it feels so nice to lie here with Remy gazing into my eyes, bodies close, to see him smile at me. I feel drained, but calmer now I’m near to him. I reach out and trace his features, just as I did when we kissed on the yacht a short time before; his stubbled jaw, the curve of his cheek, the little dimple that appears when he grins at me. He catches my fingers in his, and presses gentle kisses to my knuckles, to my palm, his other hand smoothing out my damp hair, “I promised you I wouldn’t let you go. We’re safe now. Your Remy’s here, it’ll all be fine mon coeur. ”
—- 24 hours later —-
Leon pats my knee affectionately as I slide into the passenger seat, “Ready to go home?”
I nod and thank him, as Remy reaches over the headrest, squeezing Leon’s shoulder, “Merci, Leon. Thanks for coming back to drive us.”
Leon meets Remy’s eyes in the rear-view mirror, brows tight, looking perplexed, “It’s no problem. I still can’t believe Parker just... Left.”
Remy shrugs, “I can. Proves he was exactly the type of person we steal from.”
I sigh and scrub my hand across my face, “Except we didn’t steal anything from him, Remy. Everything’s gone. The film, lots of really amazing sculptures and artwork - all at the bottom of the sea...”
Remy shrugs, “But you and I aren’t at the bottom of the sea, and that’s what’s really important mon couer.”
And I know he’s right, but it just seems like such a terrible waste, that’s all. I suppose it might be better that no one has all of those treasures, than Parker hoarding them all and appreciating none of them. It was all just ‘stuff’ to him, for bragging rights, nothing more. Someone so shallow didn’t deserve any of-
Leon makes me jump, chuckling while reaching across me to clip my seatbelt in, exclaiming, “What’s this?!”
I glance down and see black Sharpie ink on my plaster cast. I lift my reset arm, and tilt my head to see it properly, there are two doodled little stick-people, one with my initials, one with ‘RC’, surrounded by sweet little hearts and the words ‘je t’aime, toujours ’ scrolled below. I feel my heart leap as I take it in. My cheeks start to colour as I stammer, “I don’t know- I- When-?”
Leon’s sporting a knowing smirk at Remy’s reflection, “To commemorate your fake marriage? Because there’s no need for you two to pretend anymore, right?”
I twist round in my seat to look at Remy who simply leans forward and cups my face in his palms. His eyes gaze into mine, face open and honest - no mask in sight. He meets my lips with a warm kiss as he confirms, “I’m done with pretending.”
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chyrstis · 3 years
OTP Questions Meme
Tagged by @faithchel​​​​ and @shelliechen​​​​! You’re both awesome, and thank you! I’d also like to apologize for taking an eternity to think this over and fill it out, because that probably means I overthought every last question that popped up. XD The worst part is that I’m probably going to come back to this list later for a few other pairs, but that’s neither here nor there.
Tagging: @sharky-broshaw​​​ (I kind of want to subtly peer-pressure you into doing this for Audrey/Troy, by the way) @amistrio​​ @shallow-gravy​ @ma-sulevin​​​​ @geronimo-11​ @guileandgall​​​​ @teamhawkeye​​​ @jackalopestride​​​ @honesthearts​​ ​ @risenlucifer​​​ @fromathelastoveritaserum​​​ @raisinghellinotherworlds​​​ and @naromoreau​​ ! But no obligation’s ever intended (and since this is a long one, doubly so this time around), and anyone else that’s interested you can totally snag this as a free tag. <3
It’s always tough to figure out which ship to focus on, but I’m going to have to focus on Hana/Sharky here. :D
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Art by the lovely @nihildep​!
Who is more likely to raise their voice? Sharky’s naturally a loud talker, but it’s more likely to be Hana here.
Who threatens to leave but never actually does? Neither. Sharky’s got a person that actually seems to actively want him around, and Hana’s got someone determined to have her back no matter what, and for either of these two, they’d never try to threaten that. Even if annoyances ever reached a peak, Hana would head off to cool her head, and Sharky would do the same – while probably setting off a controlled fire if he's able to get away with it.
Who actually keeps their word and leaves? Neither!
Who trashes the house? They’re both accidental house trashers, with Sharky’s tendency to call her over to show off something cool really a 50/50 shot that disaster’s about to strike.
Do either of them get physical? Absolutely not. There’s a playful swat to the shoulder at times, and Hana’ll poke a finger in his chest, but never to harm.
How often do they argue/disagree? It’s pretty uncommon, with most spats having to do with concern over being separated (this is a pretty big sticking point with Sharky), and the dangers of the cult. Then it’s minor stuff that’s almost petty, like practical safety, needing a fire extinguisher whenever fire’s involved, and someone deciding not to wear a seatbelt.
Who is the first to apologize? Sharky. It’s a knee-jerk reflex for him, unfortunately, and Hana works like hell to make sure he doesn’t try to shoulder that responsibility every time.
(additional questions under the cut, but the sexy(?) ones are first if anyone wants to dodge them)
Who is on top? Neither are very picky, so while Hana may end up on top, they switch pretty frequently, and she loves having him up and over her too.
Who is on the bottom? See above!
Who has the strangest desires? I honestly want to say they’re both pretty run of the mill here, but aside from a particular *coughs* item of Sharky’s that’s about it.
Any kinks? Nothing too out there, really. And that’s the extent of detail I feel like going into at this moment. XD
Who’s dominant in bed? Sharky’s all too glad to let Hana have the reins if she wants them.
Is head ever in the equation? Absolutely.
If so, who is better at performing it? *waggles eyebrows* Let’s just say that Hana’s happy Sharky’s comments proved to be pretty legit. And the fact that he’s all too eager and glad to doesn’t hurt one bit.
Ever had sex in public? Not intentionally...? Sneaking around the bunker’s the worst they get up to, along with trying to see how discrete they can be in a tent. The answer? Not very. And there might’ve been a time up at Moonflower where a night spent watching the stars got a little friskier than intended. Neither complained much, though.
Who moans the most? Both, because they’re awful.
Who leaves the most marks? Sharky’ll leave plenty without thinking twice about it.
Who is the more experienced of the two? They’re fairly equal, but Hana might edge him out here by a sliver.
Do they ‘fuck’ or ‘make love’? Make love. They’re total saps, so no matter what there’ll always be a soft edge to any fucking taking place.
Rough or soft? Mostly soft, but sometimes quick and rough’s just what the doctor ordered.
How long do they usually last? It comes down to how long they have, where they’re at, and how desperate they’re feeling, so it’ll vary plenty. But when they want it to last, they try their hardest to.
Is protection used? Hana’s got an implant to cover their bases, but they try to use condoms whenever they can find them.
Does it ever get boring? No, Sharky’s up for anything as long as she’s happy, and Hana’s determined to make him feel good in as many ways as humanly possible, so it’s on.
Where is the strangest place they’d have sex? I actually thought for a long time it would be the damn boathouse at John’s ranch, because the singing bass being there amused me too much not to (and that’s entirely where the boathouse idea for I won’t ask for much came from), but they may just surprise me yet. 
Do they plan on having children/or have children? Hana was on the fence about it for a while, worrying if she would even be a good influence to any kid she’d have (and always felt guilty that she gave her mother too much hell). But she grew more comfortable with the idea once she volunteered to babysit Carmina a couple of times, and after she and Sharky discussed it properly, making sure that nervous as they were, it was something they were actually on board with.
Sharky was much warmer to it at the start, but never knew if it’d be in the cards for him, and didn’t give it much thought until he caught Hana being adorable with Carmina too. But it stuck with him for a while until they sat down to talk it out.
If so, how many children do they want/have? They end up with a little girl that loves working in the explosives lab with her dad, named Gabby. Xena was their first pick, but Hana talked Sharky into going with Gabrielle instead, b/c she’s also a badass, and Xena Boshaw/Voy’s a little over the top. I’m actually thinking they might have a little boy as well, which was a bit of an epiphany the other night, but we’ll see where that leads!
(there’s also one another theoretical kid, but that involves Sir-Not-Appearing-In-This-Questionnaire, and maybe if I’m feeling ambitious later on, I’ll tackle this again for the three of them)
Who likes to cuddle? Both! They’re constantly on the verge of cuddling before making it official, so the minute it happens, it’s an absolute free-for-all, taking all the comfort they can from having the other wrapped around them.
Who gets naughty in the most inappropriate of places? Sharky.
Who struggles to keep their hands to themself? Sharky.
How long can they cuddle until one becomes uncomfortable? It takes a lot for either to want to move, but Hana’s probably the first to say uncle, because after a while it’s like spooning an oven.
Who gives the most kisses? This might be pretty even as well, but Sharky loves giving her a small peck (and a bigger one if he can get away with it) whenever he’s coming and going, and it’s no surprise to Hana at all to be 100% focused on working only to have Sharky stop by and press a kiss to her hair.
What is their favourite non-sexual activity? Talking, and curling up for a movie marathon. They could seriously do that for hours on end, and if they can pull together a bunch for a theme, even better.
Where is their favourite place to cuddle? The room’s Hana’s renting out above the Eagle is likely the safest bet. Other than that, any place that’s able to give them more than five minutes of peace at a time.
How often do they get time to themselves? Not much as events keep on progressing, and things really amp up. But the moments that they can slip away, they always try to make count.
Who snores? Sharky. Hana might a little from time to time, but it’s not common.
If both do, who snores the loudest? Sharky.
Do they share a bed or sleep separately? They totally share a bed.  They’ll share a sleeping bag, the floor, damn near anything.
If they sleep together, do they cozy up together or lay far apart? While it might not always start off that way at first, they’re magnets, with one or the other curled up close before the night’s out.
What do they wear to bed? Before they’re together, just regular things, but together, it’ll vary wildly depending on safety level. If they had their way, nothing much at all.
Are either of them insomniacs? Once things kick off, Hana’s sleeping patterns come dangerously close to this, keeping her up later and later as time goes on. With Sharky close however, it’s easier to relax and ease off of the thoughts that keep her up and they’ll often try to talk as much as possible, easing any nerves he’s feeling too. If he notices her shifting around and struggling to nod off, he’ll hold her close and rub her back, her shoulders, anything until he’s sure she’s managed to fall asleep. And even if she isn’t, he’ll try to stay awake with her as long as possible.
Can sleeping pills be found by the bedside? Nope! Hana would probably consider taking them if she had a prescription, though. Or if she could find any, but medicine’s pretty damn scarce.
Do they wrap their limbs around each other or just lay side by side? Someone’s getting wrapped up in the other, guaranteed.
Who wakes up with bed hair? Hana wins this, because she’s got more for one, and it’s infamously messy upon waking if she doesn’t tie it back.
Who wakes up first? It’s a toss up, but usually Hana, and it’ll be to check the radio or go over the maps she’s set on marking up.  
Who prepares breakfast in bed for the other? ‘Breakfast’ is oftentimes a pack of jerky or a snack bar, but Hana will try to surprise Sharky with them as soon as he’s awake, while he’ll try to hunt her down some coffee.
What is their favourite sleeping position? They’ll curl up next to each other, only to become a tangle as the night goes on. Or until someone’s got an arm or leg that’s fallen asleep.
Do they set an alarm each night? If they have a clock nearby, Hana will try and set one, and tries to limit smacking the snooze button to once or twice.
Can a television be found in their bedroom? In the bunker when they’re able to borrow one, they do. There’s nothing like being able to kick back with a movie, only to either fall asleep or get a little frisky during it.
Who has nightmares? Hana. They’re not persistent, but there’s a period of time where she’s unable to sleep through the night only to have that waiting for her.  
Who has ridiculous dreams? Both, but Sharky wins this one.
Who sprawls out and takes up most of the bed? Both, but Sharky’s actually pushed her out of bed while resting before, and much as she’s teased him about it, he did warn her.  
Who makes the bed? …Neither.
What time is bed time? Anytime they’re too dead on their feet to do anything else.
Any routines/rituals before bed? Nothing fancy, though if they have access to a shower, they’ll definitely try and use that to unwind.
Who’s the grumpiest when they wake up? Hana, because leaving a warm cozy bed, with an even warmer, cozier person in it’s not easy at all.
Who is the busiest? Hana.
Who rakes in the highest income? Hana.
Are any of them unemployed? Sharky’s got spells where he is, but tries to find work when he can and when people will take him.
Who takes the most sick days? Sharky doesn’t get sick days with most of the jobs he takes, and Hana tries not to use hers a bunch, so that would probably go to her by default?
Who is more likely to turn up late to work? Sharky, probably due to accidentally sleeping through any alarm he’d set.
Who sucks up to their boss? …Hana. Not that she’s trying, but she really doesn’t want to make a bad impression on Whitehorse, and the moment he tells her to relax and ease off a little because she’s doing fine, she’s more than a little mortified.
What are their jobs? Junior Deputy and unofficially Local Pyro/Fire Enthusiast.
Who stresses the most? They both downplay the things that are stressing them, Sharky more so than her which isn’t great, but I think Hana’s more overt about it.  
Do they enjoy or despise their careers/occupations? Sharky’s pretty enthusiastic about what he loves, and Hana’s happy enough to see what it’s like in her mother’s shoes, but it’s a lot to live up to, and she’s trying.
Are they financially stable? What with their current situation being as it is, they’re doing pretty okay for themselves.
Who does the washing? It’s a switch off! Though Hana takes point, and wonders how the hell Sharky always seems to run out of underwear so fast.
Who takes out the trash? They do it pretty regularly, but only after drawing straws for it.
Who does the ironing? *laughs* Hana hasn’t seen an iron since her last hotel stay, and any iron Sharky has has likely been repurposed for any of a number of his extracurricular activities.
Who does the cooking? They switch off even though they’re both pretty rowdy in the kitchen, but Sharky’s actually pretty good at cooking over fires, and she’s decent enough at reading the instructions on stuff before nuking them in the microwave, so it’s not a total disaster.
Who is more likely to burn the house down just trying? Sharky, Sharky, Sharky. Hana’s had some fun times with unattended cigarettes too, but she’s trying to do better, darn it.
Who is messier? It’s close, but Sharky.
Who leaves the toilet roll empty? Sharky. (Hana: :-/)
Who leaves their dirty clothes on the floor? Both of them are equally guilty.
Who forgets to flush the toilet? Let’s be real, Sharky would, but it’s a work in progress.
Who is the prankster around the house? Sharky gets the edge up on her, but Hana’s also a decent contender here.
Who loses the car keys when it comes time to go somewhere? Hana. She’ll feel for every pocket, thinking it’s the right one only to realize she’d left them in the very spot she swore she’d never forget. One time Sharky did have them, however, and sticking her hand in his pocket to check while he was teasing her about losing them shut him up pretty quickly.
Who mows the lawn? Honestly, neither. But if he did, she’d get in more than a little watching during it.
Who answers the telephone? Hana.
Who does the vacuuming? Either if they remember to do it.
Who does the groceries? It would’ve been Hana, mostly because while she could eat her weight in pizza, snack cakes, and burgers, it’d probably send her straight to an early grave if she wasn’t careful.
Who takes the longest to shower? Hana, and if she gets a hold of him, they’ll stay in there until the hot water runs out, easy.
Is money a problem? No, not with the direction things end up heading.
How many cars do they own? Ideally Hana would have a motorcycle (she sold hers to help make the move easier), and possibly a car to go with that. Sharky would also have a very ancient and beat up sedan, but the poor thing didn’t survive the cult’s nonsense. Hell, it barely survived him.
Do they own their home or do they rent? I’m not sure if Sharky officially owns his house or just rents from Adelaide, but once they’re able to head out of the bunker, it’s all free real estate. Hana had an apartment, but that went up pretty quickly once things went south.
Do they live in the city or in the country? Country. Hana misses the city, but the change was sorely needed.
Do they enjoy their surroundings? Sharky’s lived there his whole life, and likes it well enough. Hana’s trying to get used to the quiet, and the smaller numbers of people she runs into, but it’s a needed change. The city was getting to her for a while, and having time and space to think and breathe was the way to go even if she did do it on impulse.
What’s their song? There’s definitely more than a few! And this isn’t all of them either.
The Trammps - Disco Inferno (I can’t not include this) Journey - Any Way You Want It Queens of the Stone Age - Make It Wit Chu Queen - Don’t Stop Me Now
What do they do when they’re away from each other? Miss the other terribly. Hana checks calls to see where there’s an area that might need her, and tries to stay busy just so her brain won’t go into overdrive. Sharky talks to Hurk and Adelaide (and Nick over at 8-bit), sneaks back up to Moonflower every now and then, tinkers with his flamethrower, and makes a boatload of explosives. There might be more than a little joyriding involved, but that’s entirely to go on a…testing run. He’s got to see if what he’s making actually works, right?
Where did they first meet? Right at Moonflower when Hana charged on in only to wonder what on earth this guy was doing, lighting everything in sight on fire with a smile a mile wide.
Who spends the most money when out shopping? Sharky, probably would’ve. Mostly because he’ll impulse shop like no one’s business, and grabs beer, handfuls of chips, jerky, lighter fluid, matches, etc.
Who’s more likely to flash their assets? Sharky. Mostly on accident because he’ll strip down at a second’s notice. Not that she’s complaining.
Who finds it amusing when the other trips over themselves? Hana loves the moments when he gets tongue-tied, and he gets an equal shot in whenever he aims a compliment at her. Now, Hana’s a bit more danger-prone in terms of actual mishaps (she’s fallen out of a window, almost driven off of a cliff, sprinted down a ravine, etc), but once it’s determined that everything’s fine, they both get in a solid laugh.
Any mental issues? Anxiety, depression, varying levels of ADHD, and a few others I haven’t nailed down directly.
Who’s terrified of bugs? Hana’s a bit, but it all comes down to which kind.
Who kills the spiders around the house? Hana would prefer Sharky did at times, but he’s got...’methods’ of doing so that might not be the best. Hairspray and a lighter, included.
Their favourite place? Watching the stars up at Moonflower, and the room above the Spread Eagle.
Who pays the bills? Hana’s got a more stable income, so she would’ve front-loaded it, and also remembered the deadlines, but Sharky would pony up the cash as soon as he has it.
Do they have any fears for their future? They both mainly live in the present, but much as she’d like to deny it, Hana’s terrified of Joseph being right. Of the end, of being wrong and being the one to doom them.
Sharky’s main fear that he tries to keep buried deep is being abandoned. Of losing his family and Hana during any point of this, and being the only one left on keep on going.
Who’s more likely to surprise the other with a fancy dinner? Define fancy. Because Sharky’s ambushed her on the road with a bottle of home-brewed liquor, three packs of jerky, and a couple of snack cakes before, and Hana hardly gave him a chance to say something before she’d tackled him and kissed him all over.
But in all seriousness, Sharky would attempt it, and pair it with a movie he’s 99% sure she’s already seen and would be fine with watching again for the fiftieth time, and she’d love every second of it.
Who’s the tallest? Sharky.
Who’s more likely to just randomly hop into the shower with the other? A little of H, and a little of S. They both love taking the chance when it’s possible. Even if Sharky’s shower has no business having two people in it.
Who wanders around in their underwear? Both, the only difference is that Hana tends to limit that to the times where it’s just the two of them one-on-one. Sharky’s nowhere near as restrained or self-conscious.
Who sings the loudest when singing along to the radio? Sharky beats her out by a sliver, but it’s always a joint effort, and Hana loves it.
What do they tease each other about? Anything’s really fair game between them since it never gets mean. He loves ragging on her about her cold hands (and holding them) and her driving. She loves poking at him about his need to boogie (and waits a solid minute before trying to join in), and how he can’t whisper to save his life. But the one time he joked about revoking her ‘Brian’ card due to drifting them straight into a ditch, she was not having. :’)
Who is more likely to cringe at the other’s fashion sense at times? Hana, though it’s mostly to get him wearing anything other than his hoodie of choice some days. 1) it needs to be washed, and 2) it’ll fall apart at the rate he wearing it (and the things he’s dodging)
Who crushed first? Sharky. It took him very little time, but was one of those ‘Man, I think you’re neat, but we’re friends, and I’m not into you unless you’d be cool with me being into you. But...would you totally be cool with me being into you, because I’d love if it if you were’ type moments, and this was just his internal narrative for a long while.. He also strikes me as the kind of person that easily gets friend-crushes, so the flirting’s easy enough to downplay until someone actually shows interest and he fumbles through it even harder. Hurk’s also cornered him more than once on this subject and given him the talk, but not a single one’s been successful.
Hana is equally guilty of friend crushes, except she’s more than willing to cram herself into the denial corner for as long as possible, which leads to this simmering for an absurd amount of time.
Any alcohol or substance related problems? They both drink, Sharky more than her by far, but it’s still within semi-reasonable levels.
Who is more likely to stumble home, drunk, at 3am? Both of them together. It’s a joint effort, because no good round of karaoke’s possible without it!
Who swears the most? Sharky. It’s just flows right out of him without even trying.
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starl1ght-child · 3 years
Rezyl Azzir x F!Non-Guardian OC
Chapter 8 : Reconciliation [ WC 1.3K ] 
Rilea listened to all five of the messages he sent over the course of three months several times over, just because she wanted to hear his voice.  And when he told her he loved her… Maker, she had never felt so much joy in her life.  She fell asleep in bed, hugging the datapad to her chest, and that was the last night that she had any sweet dreams.  After that, where she didn’t hear anything for almost a month and a half following his fifth message, she rarely slept.  If anything, she only got a couple of hours a night, and it was really starting to show.  Her supervisors (several of which were Guardians) had started to notice, and they were all worried for her.  Everyone knew what sleep deprivation could do to the human body.  Hell, even a lot of Guardians knew what it could do.
They kept her purely on gate watch, and she was secretly thankful for it.  The sensor grid was almost complete and since she was one of the few electricians they had, she was told that she could do fine tuning once the grid was done, but she couldn’t go near the actual work until she was feeling like herself again.  So she sat patiently at her post, guiding any citizens that came through to the center of the City, where they could find places to get settled in.  Refugees didn’t take offense to the dark circles under her eyes, and most of them assumed that she was working long hours to make sure people got settled in safely.  
Unfortunately, she was reaching a point of complete and total exhaustion.  Two hours of sleep a night, never more.  Oftentimes, less.  She was running on fumes and black coffee.  She knew Rezyl said he would be coming home soon, but not hearing from him in so long filled her with a sense of dread she couldn’t get rid of.  
Even still, she worked the gates. Counting, taking names and identifications of a large group of people who were coming in, led by a pair of Guardians.  The feeling of dread in her stomach grew when she noticed neither of them were him.   
Everyone had to be registered in the City’s records through fingerprinting.  Many people lost identifying documents in the Collapse, and a lot of people in the wilds stopped caring about paperwork during the aftermath.  So between herself and the man with her on gate watch, they were busy getting everyone in the system as quickly and efficiently as possible.  So while he was getting the last couple of people registered, Rilea helped everyone onto the transport that would take them into the Last City, giving them instructions on where to go and who to talk to so they could get settled somewhere as soon as possible.  
“Azzir!  Hassa and I are bringing the reports to the Vanguard.  So don’t take too long.”
No.  No, it can’t possibly be…  Rilea turned quickly towards the two Guardians that led these people in as the transport made off for the Last City.
“I know, Tovar, I’ll meet you guys up there.  Get some rest, you two look like hell.”
“So do you.”
She turned towards the gate, the datapad slipped out of her hands, and she almost collapsed to her knees then and there.  Rezyl Azzir had just walked through and pulled off his helmet.  Her eyes filled with tears when she met his gaze and saw the smile on his face.  That kind, brilliant smile.  He had grown a beard in his months in the field, a sight she never thought she would see.  For the longest time, she never thought she would see the sight.  But... to be honest, she was actually quite fond of it.  
Before she could even move, he had already closed the gap between them and scooped her up in a hug.
She was in tears the moment his arms wrapped around her and she clung onto him like her life depended on it.  “It—It’s really you!  You’re home!”  She cried.  “You’re finally home!”
“I’m home, sweet girl,” he hummed in reassurance.  “I’m home.”  He set her down on her feet and cupped her face in his hands, but that was when he saw through the joy on her face.  She was exhausted:  There were dark circles under her eyes, her complexion was pale, and her eyes that were normally bright were dulled.  Concern etched onto his face as his brow furrowed and he brushed the tears off her face.  “You haven’t been sleeping…”
“I haven’t heard from you in over a month, I…”  She reached up and touched his face and he could see the relief that was flooding hers.  “I was scared.  I haven’t been able to sleep.”  Maker, even her smile was tired.  “But you’re home.  And that’s all that matters.”
Before he could even say another word, she stood tall on her toes, closed her eyes and kissed him.  His entire train of thought broke and he leaned into her, his hand slipped behind her head and pushed into her hair, the other placed on her back and pulled her close to him.  This kiss was like heaven for both of them
He had almost forgotten what her touch felt like and for a moment, he promised himself he would never leave her side again.
When Rilea pulled out of it and they locked eyes again.  Rezyl leaned his forehead against hers and smiled as she let out a small laugh. The two of them spoke simultaneously.
“I love you.”
“I love you.”
— — — — — 
Rezyl brought his exhausted partner home after debriefing with the Vanguard.  He was honestly surprised she was still standing; he ended up carrying her most of the way home when he noticed she was swaying on her feet too much.  He set her down in bed at home and started to pull off his armor.  He chuckled as he heard her groaning tiredly.
“Come on, Rezyl…” she mumbled, rolling over in bed to look at him.  “You just got home.”
“Yeah, I just got home,”  he chuckled as he looked back at her with a tilt of his head.  “And I went three months without a shower.”  He set down the last few pieces of his armor and walked over to the bed; he leaned over the woman as she rolled onto her back and a smile spread across her lips.  “Do I have permission shower before I come to bed with you?”
He watched as she smiled mischievously at him and bit gently on her bottom lip.  Fuck, he wanted to just… devour her when she did that.  She reached up and brushed some of his greasy hair off of his forehead.  “Permission granted,” she hummed.
“Thank you, paramour,” he chuckled quietly as he leaned down and kissed her forehead.  “I’ll be back in a bit.”  He stripped off his final layer of clothing, a thick but form-fitting and lightweight layer designed to protect its wearer against the cold of space, and walked into the adjacent bathroom.  The entire time, Rilea watched the flex of his back with covetous eyes before he disappeared into the bathroom.
He shaved the beard that he had grown over the last month down and took a long hot shower.  He scrubbed off all of the sweat, dirt, and blood that was stuck to his skin.  Long missions were great, they kept his mind and hands focused, he knew who was good and bad, black and white.  But the grime it left on his skin was, at times, unbearable.  When he was finished and dried off, he quietly slipped into some sweats and climbed into bed beside Rilea, who was already fast asleep.  He sighed quietly to himself as he pulled her close and tucked her head underneath his chin, relishing in the warmth of her skin.  
It took him a while to fall asleep because he kept gazing out the window at the black sky above, twinkling with starlight, the white mass of the Moon hanging against that dark canvas.  He had started wondering while they were out on their hunt what horrors hid where they couldn’t see.  What nightmares awaited the Last City, what dangers they weren’t prepared for.  He finally closed his eyes and buried his face in his paramour’s hair.
I’m going to keep you safe, he thought.  No matter the cost.
Tag List : @mail-me-a-snail
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berniesrevolution · 4 years
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McDonald’s workers, pushing for higher wages and an end to workplace abuses, picketed Thursday outside franchises across the country. In an unusual twist, they were joined by volunteers from the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders.
It was the campaign’s second bout of activist intervention in as many weeks, as campaign supporters had previously joined a picket line with University of California workers locked in negotiations with their bosses.
It’s common for a politician to make a brief appearance on a picket line to show solidarity with a cause, but it’s practically unheard for a campaign to divert its own volunteers away from the mission of electing its candidate. This act of activism flows directly from the bottom-up approach taken by the 2020 Sanders campaign, which is not just in stark contrast to every other presidential campaign: It’s also a sharp reversal from the approach taken by the leadership of the 2016 Sanders campaign.
For all its revolutionary sensibility, the 2016 campaign was organized around a traditional strategic approach: Raise money to put ads on television and fund a field operation in key early states.
But outside of the watch of the campaign’s top brass, a collection of activists working in the bowels of the campaign tested out a variety of experimental approaches to organizing, eventually producing a breakthrough that has been copied by organizers in Spain and the U.K.; helped elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Congress; and is now guiding Sanders’s 2020 campaign. Sanders built this movement, however, largely by accident.
Throughout his career, Sanders resisted hiring any more campaign or even congressional staff than absolutely necessary — and oftentimes less than that. Part of it was philosophical: Sanders for decades believed that staff were inherently corrupting of a politician, more likely to push him toward party orthodoxy, and undermine the iconoclastic independence he had nurtured.
His 2016 presidential campaign was no different — in part because nobody who wanted a future in Democratic Party politics thought they’d survive coming near his challenge to Hillary Clinton. Jeff Weaver, who left Sanders’s office in 2009 to run a comic book store, came out of retirement to work as campaign manager, but few others joined the official campaign.
“You have to remember in the very beginning, it was very hard for the Bernie campaign to hire pros,” said Becky Bond, an adviser to the 2016 Sanders campaign, “because it was just very clear that you’d be totally blackballed, not just from a White House or a federal agency job, but from any of the Democratic-aligned institutions. Even vendors who weren’t employed by the Clinton campaign didn’t want to work for the Bernie campaign, because they were worried about not getting business in the future.”
“We really had to fill out the ranks from the super volunteers who’d never worked in politics before.”
That meant that, by definition, the staff had to be filled out by renegades, people with activist rather than campaign backgrounds, and operatives accustomed to taking on the establishment. Claire Sandberg fit that bill. As a high school student, she was swept up in an illegal mass arrest at a protest of the World Bank and IMF in 2002 and used the settlement she got to launch a group in New York dedicated to banning fracking. Improbably, she won, and by 2015, was looking for her next thing. She reached out to everybody she knew who might have some tangential connection to the small circle of Sanders advisers and eventually connected with Zack Exley, who had been talking to the campaign about joining. The pair pitched themselves as a package deal, and Weaver bit. Exley was brought on as a senior adviser and Sandberg was made director of digital organizing. Exley also brought on Bond, his longtime friend and ally.
“The professionals that joined were really true believers, like me and Zack, and then we really had to fill out the ranks from the super volunteers who’d never worked in politics before,” Bond said. One of those super volunteers was Corbin Trent, a chef in Tennessee who sold his food trucks to volunteer for the campaign full time. He reached out to Exley about a job, and Exley, without a lot of other options, took a chance on him. Another was Saikat Chakrabarti, who’d been the first engineer, and the fifth employee, of the Silicon Valley firm Stripe but left it behind to join the campaign. A third was Alexandra Rojas, who Exley met as she organized community college students in Orange County, California.
The team’s charge was to figure out a way, with very little budget, to channel the energy behind the Sanders campaign into an effective volunteer army. But if they couldn’t, that was OK too. Even as the team began putting people to work, expectations were low.
Sandberg recalled a meeting with a leader of the field program, who didn’t end up sticking around, as indicative of how traditional campaigners viewed what they were trying to do. “I remember him saying to us, ‘Listen, you guys, you’re the dancing dog. Just be happy that the dog dances. Don’t try to get it to do anything else,’” she said. “He meant that the fact that you have this system where people on their own can go every week … with some friends and do a chalk-the-block-for-Bernie or do a honk-and-wave, a table at a farmer’s market, is in and of itself an accomplishment, and that is the best that you can achieve, is having people where there are no staff basically just keep themselves busy with stuff that everybody knows is not actually valuable work.”
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Big Organizing
A honk-and-wave can be a fun-enough way to spend an afternoon with newfound friends, but there’s no evidence it has any impact on actual votes. For that, a campaign needs voter contact, both to persuade people to vote for their candidate and to motivate them to get to the polls.
Simply emailing a list of supporters and asking them to phone bank or door knock wasn’t working. And even if it did work, the team didn’t have regular access to the email list, whose main purpose was to fuel Sanders’s surging fundraising. The campaign brass, meanwhile, assumed that the flow of money could shrink to a trickle at any moment and resisted investing in volunteer organizing. One loophole Exley found was the travel budget, which had more flexibility. So he and Trent decided to hit the road, to see if meeting face to face with volunteers could spark the kind of engagement that an email or a text message couldn’t.
A standard campaign field operation rents an office and pays canvassers to go door-to-door while facilitating volunteer activity like phone banking. It’s top-down and expensive, and the Sanders crew wanted to distribute the potential for that organizing across the country to places where there was no paid field staff. The approach is now known as distributed organizing.
(Continue Reading)
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chrisbbaegopayo · 4 years
Hold Your Breath (Stray Kids: Stalker AU) ➻ Prologue
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Genre: Thriller, Angst, Gore, Mystery, Suspense Characters: Stray Kids, OCs Word Count: 2.4k Warning: This story will contain elements of gore, on- and off-screen abuse, torture, mental illness, and stalking. It will feature themes that are not suitable for all ages, readers discretion is advised. Each chapter will have its own specific warning.
The story takes place in the main character's third year of university. The prologue will detail information before the story takes place.
Chapters: Premise | 01 Prologue | 02 Chapter one | 03 Chapter two | Chapter three (part 1) | Chapter three (part 2)
The day had gone completely how she expected—a roster of classes, school work, and downtime. Her mundane life, for lack of a better word, was ordinarily plain. When classes end, she would find herself in a deep pit of homework. When the weekends rolled by, and when all her school work had been done and filed, she would marathon her favourite movies on Netflix. Oftentimes, she would be in the company of her best friend, Jisung, and the two would tackle her long and seemingly endless list of need-to-watch television shows and films.
Her life was as ordinary as it could get, and she wouldn't have it any other way. The school year had started off without a hitch, and with her organized lifestyle, graduation didn't seem too far away nor impossible. Her first year at the university came as fast as passed, followed by her second year, which flew past her just as fast. She maintained her average all throughout her academic career and was an overall great student. She enjoyed her classes almost as much as her teachers appreciated her as a student.
However, what she didn’t account for was the introduction of random gifts that had found themselves in her locker that she rented, and although a kind gesture, the sender seemed quite persistent. She had never used any of the presents she was given and opened a couple before she left them inside her locker altogether. The first one arrived a year prior, during exams, at first, she thought it was her friends, but upon opening the presents, she quickly scratched that out considering how unrelated it was to her school life.
She also asked some classmates if they had seen the person who placed the presents in her locker, but no one had seen anything of the sort. After that, friends often teased her for it, all in good fun, of course. Supposed that she did laugh along with them, part of her felt a little unsettled by the entire ordeal. However, she chalked that up to mere paranoia and brushed it off.
Days had passed since she received her first present and for a long time, it had been radio silence. And then the week after that, she received another present. It seemed innocent enough, just lying there inside her locker, waiting for her to open it. She thought about it for a moment but decided against it. It would wait until she finished classes.
The present had been innocent enough like she had thought, and like the previous present that she had received, she made sure she never used it, preferring to keep it at the back of her locker. The present never harboured any malicious intent end it was just like any other present that people would receive, but the unsettling undertone of the presents bothered her nonetheless.
The presents just kept on coming every single week and she kept on having to open them and storing them in the back of her locker every week as it came. She never noticed a pattern in the present, until one day, one of the presents was accompanied by a letter.
It was the most unsettling letter she had ever received.
The content of the letter read as follows:
“You blew my mind ever since I laid my eyes on you. Some things need not be said, but I think it’s plainly obvious that I am very taken by you, your appearance, and your soul. But, as every gift I endowed you with goes unnoticed, untouched, and uncared for, it stands to reason that you don’t feel the same…
...but no matter, I’ll make you mine. But in the meantime, I’ll continue to shower you with gifts all the same, hopefully, you’ll come to love them as much as I love you.”
Every word seemed heavy in her mind, her heart pace quickened as she realized what she had been reading. It wasn’t just some regular letter from a secret admirer, this was written wÇith intent. She wasn’t sure whether the person who wrote this letter would act upon his words, but one thing was for sure, it wasn’t normal.
This guy wasn’t normal.
But at the same time, she didn’t need to invoke this guy’s ire just because of a hunch. Perhaps someone was pulling a prank on her, and decided to go with some really creepy prose. She wasn’t going to sit idly and let whatever happen just happen—that was how people die during creepy horror movies—she would be on alert, and at the same time, keep others from being involved in this. Plus, if her friends saw this, they would either report this or maybe tease her because, look, such bad prose. Who wrote this anyway? Someone obviously spent a little too long watching creepy stalker movies or something—although that would account to teasing the guy who wrote it, not really her—but regardless.
She would put this at the back of her locker, like the rest of her gifts from him. She hoped that someone just randomly chose her as the victim of a bad prank and nothing more—trying to elicit a response from her. If it was, it was an elaborate one and hopefully, after this creepy letter, she would go about her normal life.
Little did she know that while she was a victim, this would be no prank, and the presents would just keep coming, as the letter suggested. Despite that, though, her life had been rather blissful, and the presents would only be limited to her school life. Everything else was still her sanctuary, and only she would know of the entire ordeal. She would still go about her every day seemingly unaffected by this new addition in her life because she didn’t know for certain whether it would develop into a problem she couldn’t handle.
Regardless, she never told anyone, not even her best friend. It’s her problem—no one else’s.
And true to the letter, the presents kept on coming, and coming, and coming. It bothered her and wore her down seeing her locked filled with presents every week. They weren’t cheap presents either, they looked like they might have cost the person a pretty dime or two—money that could have been spent on other things, not on her, knowing that she would never use them properly.
She decided to write her own little letter as a way to tackle the buildup of things she didn’t use. In which she told the sender to stop leaving her presents as it was a little too much—obviously, calling it a little seemed like an understatement as it was quite clear that the abundance of wrapped boxes because a major portion of what hogged up her space, leaving her with little room to maneuver through her own things previously-stored in there.
Hopefully, the person would get the message and let up the excessive gift-giving, and maybe even put an end to this entire silly ordeal—of course, only she would call it silly—she crossed her fingers and hoped for the best, as it really was the only thing she could do at this point.
She tore a page from her notebook and wrote, “whoever has been sending me gifts, please stop. While I appreciate the sentiment, it’s a little too much.”
She stared at the note she just wrote, and for a long time, wasn’t sure whether it would come off as strange or even rude. In the end, she contributed her anxiety to overthinking. She would leave the little note in her locker for next time the gift-bearer left something in her locker. She folded the note in half, and then in half again, and on the front-facing surface, she wrote, “to my anonymous gift-bearer.”
She felt a little silly about having to do this. It’s like she was asking for more interaction from the anonymous gift-bearer. However, what was done was done, and she wouldn’t twist herself into a mess thinking about it further. It was a step in the right direction, she hoped.
With that thought, she closed the door on her locker and then left. Hopefully, tomorrow would be a better day and she wouldn’t have to deal with a reply. Or more presents. Both would be great, together.
Her dubbed “anonymous gift-bearer” never got her note.
Her friends discovered her note the day after during one of their routine debriefing sessions in the mornings. The curiosity was almost immediate as she tried to stop her friends from taking it, but was unable to do so. There was a moment of silence and suspense after her friends glanced through the note, and she wanted to hide. The last thing she wanted to do was to make her problem everyone else’s problem.
Her friends looked up from the note, the concern deeply evident on their faces, and it wasn’t one of those superficial expressions—their deep disturbance embedded within the looks of concerns, to varying degrees spread across each other her friends’ faces. It was official, if she didn’t defuse the situation immediately, they would start some form of intervention. And she did not need an intervention at this point in time. She was never really that good with lying under pressure—she was worried that she would say the wrong things at the wrong time. If she knew what her friends were capable of, they’d hire bodyguards or something.
Okay, not that extreme. They would probably bug the door, put a hidden camera in there. But then again, none of them were ever tech-savvy enough to deal with this kind of thing.
That wasn’t the point here, obviously.
The bottom line was that she didn’t need her friends to become needlessly worried about something that might just turn out to be some stupid prank that some kid did for fun. Regardless, she’d rather deal with this situation herself than to involve her friends. And should this be some malicious intent—if that letter from the gift-bearer was any indication—it would put her friends in harm’s way.
There was no way she could do that.
“It’s nothing,” she began confidently, as she hoped that her voice would be strong enough to put any concern away.
“Don’t worry.”
That did little to dissuade their concern, and the wary stares only turned grimmer. This was not what she wanted.
“Really, really, I have it under control. I’m pretty sure it’s a bad prank.” She tried again, although this time, the confidence seemed to waver.
That response seemed to be the one to put her friends at ease, although the worrying stares did not part their ways with her friends’ faces. It was still there, although they seemed a little more satisfied with her answer this time. However, her relief was short-lived as the friend who stood in front of her spoke up, still clearly on edge.
“Look, I respect your need to do this by yourself,” her friend said, “and I get that you’re trying to only contain the mess, because honestly if I know one thing about you, it’s that you hate to cause trouble for other people. But this is a hell of a problem is you have to physically write a note to this creepy stalker of yours. Or secret admirer, if we’re using kid-friendly terms, and trust me, this doesn’t even feel like it would be…”
There were a few chuckles.
“What I’m trying to say here is: if this guy or whatever he or she is, has to be lulled to his or her senses through your writing a letter, or in this case, a note, then this is far beyond what you should be handling yourself. But if you want to do it this way, then fine, but don’t forget that we’re also here if you need us to deal with some really douchey guy who has a really bad taste,” she said. That got a few nods in agreement.
“I guess we could see how this turns out—we’ll play it by ear, this one,” she finished.
Another friend spoke up, curiosity fueled this one, “just curious, what else did this person send you?”
She froze up and tried to calm her nerves. She could not show her friends that threatening letter. That would send them over the edge. No, no, no, no, no.
“Nothing. Just presents,” she quickly replied. She was hopeful it did okay to satiate that curiosity. “Really. Just not school-related gifts, I mean, honestly.”
If her friends were put-off by her answer, they didn’t voice it. But it was darn evident on their faces. And she was thankful they didn’t pursue that path of questioning.
“Come on, let’s head home? Ice cream on the way home?” She asked, trying to lighten up the mood. Her friends agreed.
She sighed—one hurdle crossed, time for round two.
At the same time, she did little to really analyze the situation. Her kind nature only put more strain on herself as a result, and her eagerness to keep her own problems to herself only solidified her future interactions with her so-called gift-bearer. Though if she had told her friends, the situation might have gone very differently.
She might have just guaranteed that her path crossed with her secret admirer.
The seconds were ticking past like a bomb on a timer, and every second that passed by was like a second forward towards her very own undoing. She knew what it seemed like in the movies, she knew how it went, but yet, what would she have done differently to discourage her admirer?
Her words had already left a mark. The note was never delivered, and the gift-bearer never got the message. The note disappeared after a while, and while she assumed that the gift-bearer had taken it. Her assumptions were well-grounded, but she never got a reply, nor did the gifts seem any less frequent for the next few days. A bitter feeling welled up inside of her, and she thought it would be best to just ignore it altogether.
She didn’t even open the packages for the next few presents. She pretended not to see them and pretended that they don’t exist. It wasn’t like the school would be able to set up some hidden cameras that would catch the perpetrator red-handed. The school wasn’t rich by any means, and any attempts at reporting anything would end up being waved away—she knew this, and she figured that the gift-bearer knew that as well.
However, things seemed to have let up after a few months as the presents became less frequent. The semester came to an unsatisfying end, and she couldn’t help but sigh in relief—if anything, she would be glad to know that the gift-sessions would come to an end, she hoped.
But it didn't, she would come to learn. It was the beginning of her descent to hell.
Sorry for the long hiatus, I sorta just disappeared. However, this is the beginning of this fic—the one I wrote a premise to a long time ago (read: a year ago). Please stay tuned every week for updates!
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weltenwellen · 4 years
1) You develop a new way of looking at the world. Anxiety opens your eyes and causes you to see things in a way you’ve never seen them before. It can change the way that you judge certain people, the way you spend your time, and/or the way you talk to the people around you. A lot of the time, anxiety pops the bubble that you’ve been living in up until now. It’s scary, but it forces you to understand things you never would have otherwise. 2) You form a deeper sense of empathy for other people. Anxiety makes you feel like you’re not yourself. It overwhelms you, worries you, hangs over you, and sometimes forces you to uproot your life. You understand, in a way that you hadn’t before, what it’s like to feel scared or alone or out of sorts or helpless. In the past, when someone screwed up or acted out, made a mistake or had a meltdown, you may have been tempted to judge them. But anxiety has caused you to think about and observe and see people in a way that you previously had not been able to do. Even if you don’t understand or know what someone is going through, you know what it’s like when someone feels like they’re upside down. 3) Being vulnerable isn’t as difficult for you anymore. It’s still difficult, because no one likes to be vulnerable. But oftentimes, anxiety can force you to start reaching out more to people out of a sheer need for help and support. Anxiety sometimes makes you feel crazy and restless and in dire need of simple human connections. You’ve learned to stop worrying about your pride and image so much, because receiving love and encouragement from someone is so much better and easier than showing a brave face. 4) Anxiety ends up putting things in perspective for you. Once you’ve experienced any kind of anxiety, the path to happiness seems much less complicated. When it feels like you’re drowning inside your own head, unable to tell your thoughts to shut up, you’re not thinking about how you wish you had a higher position at work, or more followers on your social networks, or a long list of celebrity friends. In fact, those are often the things that can spark deep waves of anxiety in the first place. Once you really and truly feel anxiety, career rankings and social status become pretty silly, and all you care about are things like family, friends, and doing things that really matter. It’s not until you’re in the dark that you can truly understand what brings the most light into your life. 5) You often become less attached to things. Yes, a shopping day or a brand new phone can be comforting, but you’ve realized that the only thing that truly makes you feel more at peace is being around people you care about. When you’re in the middle of a deep bout of anxiety or panic, you’re not wishing for a multimillion dollar mansion, designer clothes, a personal chauffeur, and more money than you know what to do with. All you’re thinking is that you want to have a sense of peace, rid your life of any unnecessary clutter (both physical clutter and non-physical clutter), and surround yourself with the people you love the most. In your darkest moments, the path to being happy and content is not overwhelmed with bright and shiny things. All you want to focus on is holding the hands of the people that bring you the most peace and make you feel the most alive. 6) It can help you to form bonds with people you wouldn’t normally be close with. Anxiety is not a rare thing in today’s world, and tons of people go through it. There’s something to be said about going through something and having another person know exactly how you feel and exactly what it’s like, without having to explain anything to them. But dealing with anxiety doesn’t just bring you closer to new people you meet through therapy or support groups or trying a new hobby that you hope will help brighten up your day – it also can bring you closer to people you already knew who you previously thought of simply as mere acquaintances. Anxiety can sometimes lead you to open up and form deep connections with people you wouldn’t have interacted with otherwise. 7) Your mind becomes a lot more focused. At this point, you’ve been through enough. You don’t care as much about how your image comes across to people, what is and is not expected of you in society, what you should do to impress other people, etc. You’ve been at the bottom of the pit, an angle that makes most other things seem pretty unimportant. By now, you’ve figured out what and who you want to spend your time on, and what is just a waste of your time. 8) You have a greater appreciation for the happy and joyful moments in your life. Anxiety doesn’t necessarily mean you have to lead a miserable life. Once you’ve learned how to treat it and have figured out the best way to handle it when it comes around, you can still maintain a very normal and often happy life. Except this time, you’ve had enough low and dark moments to appreciate, even more than you already did, what it feels like to have true joy, content, excitement, and love in your life. 9) Sometimes, you end up trying things you wouldn’t have tried previously. When it comes to dealing with anxiety, people’s suggestions for curbing it are pretty surprising: trying improv, training for a marathon, taking up a new hobby. Basically, people tell you to do things that you’d think would just bring even more anxiety. However, many people have found that putting themselves in nerve-wracking situations actually helps them deal with anxiety, because it teaches them how to handle their nerves and deal with feeling uncomfortable and terrified. The release that comes from doing these types of things is so great that people often fall in love with the very thing they were once afraid of. 10) A lot of other things become a lot less scary. Similar to the point above, anxiety helps you with putting things in perspective. When the thing you’re most terrified of is whatever is going on inside your own mind, every thing else slowly becomes less scary, bit by bit by bit. Maybe you’re still scared of public speaking or scuba diving or just going on a date, but you’re able to put your fear in place because you’ve had much more difficult moments where you were a lot more terrified. Learning how to take control of your anxiety instead of letting it take control of you really helps you to understand that you can handle just about anything that comes your way. 11) Your fear of not having control sometimes helps you to gain a stronger sense of control in other areas of your life. Because our twenties are so unpredictable, we often let ourselves go in a lot of areas: we drink too much, or we have really poor diets. We work too much or too little. We watch hours of tv instead of getting up and going outside. We let things that we could easily control just slip right through our fingers. Anxiety can often exacerbate this problem, but not if you’re willing to work on your anxiety. Once you’ve decided to start fighting against your anxiety, the fear of not having control that often accompanies anxiety will lead to you doing everything you can to feel more in control. You maintain a much healthier diet, you drink less, you work hard but you learn how to say enough is enough. You exercise, you force yourself to get off the couch and do whatever it is that you need to do to feel stimulated, whether that’s taking a walk or socializing or reading a book. If you’re trying to fight against anxiety, you’ll often find you start subconsciously improving all sorts of areas in your life. 12) You can sense when other people are having a hard time, and you know how to help them. You’ve been through it – through the worst parts of anxiety. You know the warning signs and the symptoms and the look people get on their face when they’re mentally present but their mind is a million miles away. It’s become a lot easier for you to sense when someone around you is struggling, even if it’s not specially anxiety that they’re suffering from. You’ve been through enough to know how to recognize it, and reach out and help them. You may not think much of it, but helping someone to feel just a little less scared than you did helps more than you’ll ever know.
 ​Kim Quindlen, 12 Oddly Helpful Benefits Of Having Anxiety In Your Twenties
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ladyluck852 · 5 years
Torn Apart (Slytherin!Shinwon x Reader)
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A/N: well this was a long, wild, entertaining ride. It was for them too I would assume, I really liked writing this one if you can’t tell by the amount of words, Slytherin!Shinwon wrecked me. There is...room for a part two, but you didn’t hear that from me. There is also an introduction to our second pair of Slytherin, twins ;)
Word count: 7.6k+
Genre: angst, a bit of romance if I do say so myself, Hogwarts train ride au idk lol. 
Warnings: lots of cursing but all in good taste, perv boys, no good endings, slightly NSFW but not really, mentions of an injury. If I missed anything don’t hesitate to tell me pls. 
Moodboard | Masterlist 
Koh Shinwon was terrifying, his posture was terrifying, his height was terrifying, the permanent scowl on his face was terrifying. When his boots thumped past the first years on the hogwarts express they cowered, compartments were closed and locked, stares were averted, breathing stopped. When you thought of all the classical Slytherin traits and then some, you thought of Koh Shinwon, he was Slytherin to the very bone. Of course this was something he took pride in, the way people feared him, the way his teachers couldn’t look him in the eye and the way it made the girls in his house want him terribly so. His parents were so thrilled to have created him, the perfect Pureblood, the genius Slytherin, the one with a reputation that was the horror story at young girls’ sleepovers. Koh Shinwon was at the top, and he always would be, nothing would ever change that.
Y/n was a different story, if you thought of all that was radiant and welcoming, greek goddess standards of beauty, ravenclaw smartness and Gryffindor bravery you’d find y/n. She was perhaps everyone’s favorite Hufflepuff, her bright smile and yellow sweater a welcoming sight for the first years when she passed them on the train. She had a reputation that, like Shinwon’s, proceeded her. She was ridiculously kind, smart, every teachers pride and joy and headgirl going into her seventh year, every young girl wanted to be like her. Little witches dreamt of the day they could finally make it to hogwarts and be just like y/n, she was a positive ray of sunshine and to her muggle parents she was the most beautiful person they could have created. They knew they’d raised her well, and they knew she’d be in great hands at Hogwarts.
Y/n and Shinwon couldn’t be any more different, they’d never interacted in their entire time at the school, never even brushed elbows in the hallways, y/n had her fair share of friends from each house but he was far from what most people would call friendly. They had nothing in common that would make them possibly want to even speak, no class that required them to be paired together, so it was a strange twist of fate when they landed in the same train compartment together on their last year at Hogwarts.
The train was full and they had both been late, y/n because she’d had a problem with her luggage and Shinwon simply because he’d spent 30 minutes wondering if he should just not go. The train ride was a long and tiring ordeal, Shinwon oftentimes sat alone or with his friends but this year the twins were sitting with some girls and that’s as far as his list of tolerable people went. He finally found an empty compartment and was relieved, the train was due to leave in less than two minutes when his compartment opened and in walked y/n looking like a ray of sunshine. Stupidly bright and pretty, he got upset just looking at her, she breathed a sigh of relief and didn’t even seem phased when she noticed the Slytherin, she just set her bag down and sat close to the window.
Shinwon had the urge to scoot over, his knees practically touching hers as she pulled a book out and got situated on her seat. She was wearing a sundress in autumn, tucking her legs underneath her while Shinwon rolled his eyes at the ridiculous amount of leg she was now showing. He got the sense that the compartment was now stuffed, cramped, the air was a bit thick and he was desperate to open the door to the compartment. The train movement caused it to shut as soon as he did, y/n noticed his oddly frantic actions and removed another book from her bag to use as a door stop.
“You’re welcome” y/n said quietly, her voice prettier than he thought it would be, he just stared at her with a glare in his eyes and y/n raised an eyebrow at his strange expression, “did I do something? Didn’t I solve your problem?”
There was no hint of malice in her voice, it was a simple question and Shinwon’s head couldn’t stop spinning. She was actually talking to him, no one talked to him if they didn’t have to, especially not the Hufflepuff’s. Maybe the Ravenclaw’s but only when he was getting in trouble by their prefect’s, those crazy geniuses were always mouthy with him and it was annoying.
“Thanks” Shinwon mumbled, his mouth barely moving as he stared out the compartment and at the window across from them. Y/n went back to her book, wondering if he was okay because he seemed to be in a bad mood. Not that it was any of her concern, she worried too much about everyone and maybe she just shouldn’t apply it here.
An hour passed, Shinwon counted the remaining hours with a sigh and wondered if this day could be any more boring, he would die before he even made it to Hogwarts and that was all he wanted. He hated school, he hated being around people, it made him anxious and upset to have to walk through the halls and get bumped into by first years or hear teenage girls whisper things about him. He got sweaty just thinking about it, his nerves extra jumbly and his head thinking too much, it wasn’t good and he glared out the window hoping for a disaster.
Y/n pretended like she hadn’t been peeking at Shinwon the entire train ride, curious seeing him no more than three feet away and wondering how he got his skin so smooth and blemish free. Shinwon pretended like he didn’t notice her looking, instead stealing glances every time she went back to her book, wondering why the hell she was so beautiful and knowing the rumors were true. It was just some weird type of natural beauty, you looked at her and knew she was good from the inside out, she made Shinwon feel warm and he hated it.
Y/n heard the trolley witch and got awfully excited, bumping into Shinwon and making him do a double take when he saw her pulling her sundress down after it had ridden up, exposing her tan skin and lacy underwear.
“What the hell” Shinwon hissed, glancing around the compartment for a space to breathe, his chest tight as he covered his face. He took a deep breath, y/n hung off of the door and waved at the trolley witch who came right over to the pretty girl with a bright smile.
“Hello dear, what can I get you?” The trolley witch asked, her eyes taking in the appearance of the boy sitting in the compartment with a wild blush on his face. She glanced between the boy and the girl with a knowing look on her face, wondering what the naughty pair were up to only an hour and half into the train ride to school.
“Um... a stack of cauldron cakes, a box of chocoballs, two chocolate wands and a chocolate frog” y/n sighed, in the mood for chocolate and knowing her roommate really liked the chocoballs. She always got her something, they’d been friends since their first year, but she didn’t get a chance to sit with her. Not that she minded, she enjoyed sitting alone, well she wasn’t exactly alone but it sure felt like it.
The trolley witch noticed y/n go back into her compartment and look through her bag, her eyes wide as a small, “shit” passed her lips and she held up a finger with a gentle smile. She had all day, no rush.
Y/n couldn’t find her coin purse, it probably got mixed up with her stupid luggage that made her late. She was searching for spare change in the bottom of her bag when the trolley with saw the boy’s pale hand pass the compartment door and he handed her more than enough money for the girls treats. Y/n’s eyes snapped up when she heard the trolley witch’s cart pass, Shinwon holding her candy in his arms before dumping it onto her train bench and keeping a chocolate want for himself.
“You’re welcome” he mumbled, brushing his hair out of his face as y/n’s face turned a deep red color. He unboxed the chocolate wand, studying it before taking a bite, feeling y/n’s eyes on him and feeling awkward that he had to eat like this. So what he took one of her candies? She could buy more, it’s not like she was the one who spent her money on it anyways.
He saw her hand approach him, his eyes taking in the soft look of her skin as two chocolate frog legs hung out of her mouth, “for you” she said through a mouthful, a collectible card of the founder of Slytherin House between her fingers.
Shinwon’s fingers brushed hers as he took it, his eyebrows furrowing as he tried to smile but couldn’t, just giving a slight nod, “You have chocolate all over your face”
Y/n was taken back, his deep voice loud and clear since he stopped talking in mumbled, her heart skipped a beat as she wiped at her face with the back of her hand, “thank you. For that and the candy. I’ll pay you back once we get to the school”
Shinwon shook his head, “don’t worry about that”
I don’t even want to see you around there anyways. 
Shinwon wanted to forget the fact that he saw her ass, he went back to staring out the window while y/n furiously turned the pages of her book trying to reach the end before the next hour was up. Her watch was ticking steadily, a calming sound as the train whistle blew loudly, it filled Shinwon’s head as he glanced back over at y/n and found her watching him. Her book was shut in her lap and she didn’t exactly turn away when they locked eyes, instead she just stared at him with a weird look in her eye.
“I’m afraid this book is a lot smaller than the one holding your door open, I don’t think it’ll be able to keep it in place. Are you...okay?” Y/n asked, a small smile crossing her face while Shinwon realized she looked concerned. No one ever asked him if he was okay, how he was feeling, what was wrong with this girl? She didn’t even know him, she was so nice, was she really always like that?
Shinwon reached down to remove her book, the door slamming shut as he handed it to her, “aren’t you the one who was taking shots of firewhiskey in the courtyard?”
That’s one of the only times he really remembered seeing y/n at school, wearing a tank top and a pair of jeans in the dead of winter slamming back shot after shot as a group of Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors egged her on. He remembered the look of determination on her face and how loud she was yelling, he really wished she’d get caught at that moment but now looking back he knew he’d got a good glimpse at the type of person she was. Fun?
Y/n snorted, fully amused by the conversation now as she thought back to the vivid images of Shinwon’s muscular back and very pale backside last year, “well aren’t you the one who skinny dipped in the black lake? The giant squid didn’t mind?”
Shinwon choked, his face turning red as the students in the compartment behind them wondered what the hell was even going on. In his defense he was very drunk, it was very late and he either had to jump in the lake or spend the night with some girl annoying who wore thick black eyeliner, the freezing cold lake was a better companion by a long shot.
“You saw that? What were you even doing out there?” Shinwon asked, crossing one long leg over the other as y/n got the sense that he was now relaxing. What Shinwon really wanted to ask is if y/n liked what she saw, but he’d rather fling himself from the moving train before saying that.
“I mean, I was around. Wasn’t it cold? Did you shrivel up with the cold?” She asked, imagining Shinwon turning into an ice cube in fetal position and his entire group of friends dragging him out of the water laughing. Shinwon of course got the wrong idea, taking her harmless statement as an offense and scoffing.
“I’ll have you know I came out perfectly fine! It did not shrink” he said childishly, glaring at her as y/n covered her mouth in surprise.
“No” she giggled, “I didn’t mean that! Wow I really hurt your manhood”
Shinwon wanted to grow horns and yell right now, he just covered his face in embarrassment as y/n laughed in the background, “You know Moaning Myrtle talks about your ass in the restroom right?”
“What?” Y/n asked, her face pale as she stared at Shinwon with a scary look in her eye. Now he’d seen a lot of scary things, but y/n was truly terrifying he kind of didn’t want to be in here with her anymore. Not that he ever did... but now less than ever.
“Yeah, everyone knows about your ass because of her” Shinwon mumbled, lying through his teeth as y/n glared out the window, “like that birthmark you-“
“No!” Y/n groaned, her hands balling into fists before she started laughing, “sorry. I didn’t know you were such a perv”
Y/n laughed while Shinwon looked confused, staring back at y/n unknowingly not knowing how talented she was in Legilimency. It was what she was most proud of, the ability to peep into peoples thoughts if she wanted to, normally people could tell because it felt like a headache. Maybe Shinwon walked around with a permanent headache.
“How did you...but you did it right in front of me so how do you expect me not to look?” Shinwon sighed, ruffling his hair before it fell back into place perfectly. Even his hair was perfect, it made y/n roll her eyes as she pulled a sweater out of her bag and pulled it on. Shinwon tried not to stare at her, feeling like a starved man trying to take in every inch of her body. It was annoying, his face was turning red, how stupid was it that she had to be THAT beautiful?
“I’m sorry, I wish I could come up with a good excuse. Ooh look! Cows!” Y/n said excitedly, practically shoving Shinwon out of the way as she jumped to his side of the compartment to get a couple more glances at the cows in the pasture. Shinwon froze, she smelled really good and he didn’t know what to do now that she was practically in his lap. He slid over before he could do something stupid, staring at the ground while taking deep breaths.
Y/n really didn’t care if Shinwon was an uptight Slytherin like everyone said, he was just a person after all, there were much scarier people out there. Like her grandmother when y/n forgot to do a chore, y/n’s Grandma was the scariest witch around. She could see Shinwon’s reflection in the window and she made a face, wondering how she could get him to open up a bit. She wanted to know more but not be intrusive.
“I don’t really see you at parties” y/n said, turning to face Shinwon who rolled his eyes.
“That’s because you’re a Hufflepuff. You aren’t allowed to see me” he said, trying to joke around but probably sounding serious. This made y/n scoff a bit, a stupid response from a very smart boy.
“Can we pretend our houses aren’t what matter most to you, or our blood purity?” y/n asked, craving a human conversation. Shinwon turned to her, his eyes narrowed and his mouth in a tight line like that was his normal face. She was sure it was, he looked grumpy, like he’d never had fun or been touched by a girl in his life. She was surprised he even got drunk, he seemed like the type to want to be in control all the time, she was getting annoyed thinking about it.
“Why? Do you want to be friends or something?” Shinwon teased, a bored sigh leaving his lips.
“Yes. So get your broomstick out of your ass, do you go to parties or not?”
Shinwon was surprised, not used to anyone talking to him the way she did. He didn’t like it, but he wasn’t going to throw a fit, not now at least, “I do. I don’t see you either, maybe we’re just not meant to be around each other”
Y/n rolled her eyes, goosebumps rising on her skin when he ran his fingers through his hair, “this year I’ll make it a point to see you more often then”
“Please don’t” Shinwon groaned, looking slightly irritated and disgusted by her suggestion.
“Why not? Don’t be a bitch, what are you afraid your friends will care?”
“No, but why should I even talk to you once this is over? We just got unlucky, just because you’re stuck with me for 8 hours doesn’t mean you’re entitled to my friendship, time, or friendliness” Shinwon muttered, turning to look at her with a lazy look. Y/n stared back, making Shinwon blush from her heated stare.
“So you’re scared of what your friends will think? That you aren’t really all big and bad, just because you’ll be caught talking to me? When in reality you actually want to be my friend because you-“
“How the hell... you’re so damn nosy. You’re a Legilimens?”
He should have known the tricky girl could practically read his thoughts, that’s why she never shied away when he glared at her. Y/n didn’t know if she felt satisfied or not, determined to be his friend even if he hated it, “well you saw my ass so I’m entitled to a little nosiness”
“You saw mine. What does that give me?” Shinwon scoffed, raising an eyebrow at her while she wiggled her eyebrows at him.
“Anything you want”
He felt like he got punched in the stomach, the darkening sky blurring as her words echoed in his head. She wanted him dead, this heathen was nothing like the rumors. Everyone said she was nice, ethereal, so smart, practically a goddess, Shinwon was pretty sure she was just a nosy little shit like everyone else. Annoying, pesky. But she didn’t really seem like that? At least now he could ask and pretend like it was because she let him.
“You’re nothing like what people say about you, you know that? You’re actually very annoying”
Y/n expected that, most people thought so, she was nothing like the rumors. She wasn’t the smartest student, she had more bad days than good and when people learned that they wished they hadn’t. Everyone knew y/n for her image, not for who she really was, that’s why she was determined to get Shinwon to like who she really truly was.
“You’re also nothing like what people say about you. You haven’t threatened to kill me yet, and I’m not afraid of you at all. When I see you at the next party can we hang out? Take shots?” Y/n asked, seeing how Shinwon gripped his knees while his shoulders sagged.
“You’re killing me. We aren’t friends, if you approach me at a party I will hex the shit out of you. My friends will think it’s a joke, they’d never stop making fun of you” Shinwon said truthfully, not bothering to even lie to her anymore.
“Why do you make friends with such assholes then?  Don’t you feel stupid knowing your friends are terrible? When you leave Hogwarts you are never going to see them again,” She mumbled, reaching for the package of cauldron cakes and shoving one in her mouth, “_why don’t you spend some time making friends who are going to care about you in the end? Cauldron cake?” _
“Thanks,” he sighed, “and who do you suggest? Yourself? What are you going to do for me anyways, bake me pies from the fruit you grow at your farm?”
Shinwon hated animals more than anything, he was almost certain y/n lived on one of those things, it probably smelled bad too.
“I don’t know how to bake pie, I don’t live on a farm. Where did you even hear that? My parents are doctors, do you know what that is? Do pureblood wizards know what doctors are?”
“I hate you” Shinwon grumbled, “so let’s say we stay friends, we study together on the lake and eat lunch together. You make me hot cocoa and I take you to hogsmeade, after the school year ends how are you going to even think about entertaining me? We’ll both be ridiculously busy, your feelings will get hurt when I don’t give you attention” 
“That sounded like you’re thinking of dating me and dumping me, I said friends, you see my ass once and you expect things from me” she teased, pushing his shoulder as he turned to stare at her with a wild look in his eye. He could not believe she even touched him, and now she was handing him half of the last cauldron cake and expecting an answer out of him.
“You said I could have anything,” Shinwon shrugged, shoving the cake in his mouth with a satisfied smirk, “but seriously, give me one reason why I should waste my time?”
“Because you won’t waste your time at all. I make a mean cup of hot cocoa, I even add a little bit of firewhiskey, you’ll be missing out on a lot if you pass this up,” y/n said with a yawn, stretching her arms as she leaned against the window, “now shut up I’m tired”
Shinwon scoffed, turning to look at her as she closed her eyes and settled onto the seat, bringing her legs up so they brushed against his thigh and made Shinwon look for her book once more to hold the door open.
En Route to Hogwarts// 5:29PM// September 1st
Shinwon got tired of y/n being asleep, he’d gotten used to hearing how annoying she was and had his legs on the bench across from him when he felt her head hit his shoulder. He froze, his first reaction to push her off but when he looked down at her she looked so... sweet. He took a deep breath before staring straight ahead, hearing her laugh quietly, “you’re actually very comfortable. Here I thought you were a stone”
“I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself,” Shinwon muttered, rolling his eyes a bit, “any intentions of getting the hell off of me?”
“No. We’re friends so this is fine now, you’re super comfortable and I’m cold so...” y/n trailed off, scooting closer to Shinwon as his entire body got covered in goosebumps despite his sweater. It was rare for any girl to get this type of reaction out of him, maybe it’s because y/n didn’t really care about him, wasn’t desperate to talk about how she’d slept with him to increase her reputation. He got the sense y/n didn’t care much about her reputation, because she didn’t like the way people thought of her, he couldn’t help but notice how similar they were.
“So what exactly happened to your luggage?” Shinwon asked, noticing the lack of much on her side of the compartment, just her bag and candy wrappers.
“Left it in the car, it’ll be there by the time we arrive, at least I hope it’ll be. I miss my pajamas and regret wearing this stupid dress” y/n grumbled, rubbing the sleepiness from her eyes as she got off of his shoulder and leaned against the compartment to gaze at him.
“Well it’s the best outfit I’ve ever seen you in” Shinwon shrugged, trying to joke around, he was tired of not talking to anyone and liked the fact that he didn’t have to pretend when he was with her. Because even if he did, she would probably be nosy and poke around in his thoughts anyway.
“And you’ve seen me how many times? Once. If I ever see you at a party I guess you can get a glimpse of how I look normally” y/n shrugged, smiling at him as he returned the look. Y/n blushed like a tomato, averting her eyes in an instant as her grin stretched across her face, “are you aware that you just smiled?”
“Oh crap I did? Wow I haven’t smiled in five years!” Shinwon gasped, making fun of her as he reached out to poke her shoulder, “tell anyone and I’ll kill you”
“Not like anyone will believe me. They’ll believe everything else before they believe that the Koh Shinwon actually smiled. You don’t look half bad you know? Smiling makes you look less dead”
“Wow thanks,” he muttered dryly, “I’ve always wanted to look alive”
The trolley witch came around again, Shinwon bought y/n a cup of tea, rolling his eyes when she asked him not to. The trolley witch was in the middle of asking what tea the girl wanted when the both of them got into a heated staring match that ended with Shinwon saying she wanted Ceylon tea. Milk, two sugars.
“Not bad” y/n shrugged, sipping her tea that was almost perfect, “n_ot enough milk though. Is it a Slytherin thing? You’re all conniving so you learn Legilimency?_”
Shinwon snorted, watching her sip her tea as her hands shook slightly, “hardly. It was a personal interest”
“Of course it was, you pervert. But who am I to judge, I technically saw you naked” she shrugged, a sly smile on her face that made him nervous. Now he was left wondering how much she saw, and he still wanted to know if she liked what she saw.
“You still haven’t told me what you were doing there, who just hangs around the black lake at night?” Shinwon asked, leaning his head against the door of the compartment, his full attention on y/n who looked sheepish.
“It’s a Hufflepuff thing. Bonfires in the Forbidden Forest. Tell anyone and I’ll kill you”
“Yeah right, like I’d waste my time getting you in trouble. Like you’d go through with th-“ He was cut off by how quickly y/n drew her wand, the pointy tip pressed against his throat as he raised his eyebrow, “that’s...kind of hot?”
Y/n laughed, it was loud and obnoxious and ugly, but Shinwon found himself laughing with her. She had a bit of an infectious smile, something he could help but smile along with while y/n tried to gather her thoughts, “we can duel once we get back to the school”
“That’s not allowed? You like trouble don’t you?” Shinwon asked, adjusting himself slightly so their shoulders were brushing, maybe a little bold if he was being honest with himself.
“You couldn’t tell? You know I’m starting to think you like trouble too” y/n shrugged, glancing at him before looking away shyly, “and it was okay. You’re very pale”
Shinwon’s eyebrows raised, the blush on her cheeks a dead giveaway, he was just glad he didn’t actually have to ask her, “just okay?”
“Oh I’m sorry,” y/n laughed, “were you trying to impress me? Sorry let me start over, you hide a lot underneath your clothes”
Shinwon blushed, so much color on his face that it made y/n worry he would pass out or his head would explode. She was just being honest, if you looked at Shinwon you’d never be able to tell he had a great body. He just looked tall and scary.
“So do you...” Shinwon attempted a rebuttal but couldn’t muster up a good one, not one that impressed y/n in the slightest. He was finding it very hard to do just that, but he knew not much would work on her.
“Yeah, I don’t recall hiding. I’m wearing a summer dress and it’s cold” y/n sighed, wondering how far the restrooms were from her compartment, “I forgot my robes!”
Y/n groaned, burying her face in her hands knowing this whole trip was a disaster, a complete disaster. She was going to have to find her robes before she walked into the castle, probably change in the damn entrance in front of a million people and everyone would go, ‘wow she’s so bold’ ‘what a queen’. Shinwon snorted, not knowing what was so important about robes if the rules were so loose for seventh years. Well maybe they were loose for him, he wasn’t sure, “and here I was thinking I was going to get a show”
Y/n turned to look at Shinwon, he felt stupid for the first time in his life from the look on her face before she started laughing at him, “You really are a pervert. That’s funny, but you don’t deserve me” she shrugged, making Shinwon upset. Well, when wasn’t he upset?
“I don’t deserve you? There might be many reason why you’re right about that, but who are you to say so?” Shinwon asked, plain and simple, he just really wanted to know.
“Oh so now you want to be friends? After the whole train ride was spent being an asshole and saying I didn’t deserve to be your friend and that you hang out with really shitty people, therefore that makes you...?” Y/n tilted her head to the side, eyes wide as Shinwon searched them for a hint of emotion that could give away how she was feeling. Because she didn’t look angry and she never did, but he felt like she was.
“A shitty person I know, something about being stuck with you for eight hours is really messing with my head” Shinwon muttered, his cheeks still pink before he glanced at her again, “I guess we can be friends then”
Y/n’s eyes widened, the look on his face was very sincere while y/n fist bumped, “that means we have to do friend things”
“I already did friends things when I bought you tea, and candy. Your turn you pest”
Y/n hit his shoulder, making him wince and even though she looked like an angel she was more of a demon. A fiery demon sent from Hell to bother Shinwon, drive him insane, “friends hug. You have to hug me in front of people”
He shook his head, his eyes closed as that was the last thing he wanted to do, “You can try to but I won’t-“
Y/n had wrapped her arms around him, she felt like a snake squeezing its dinner and it was oddly comforting? Her breath was hot on his neck and making him shiver again, “nice huh?”
“Well we aren’t exactly around people,” Shinwon said timidly, his hand cold as it wrapped around her and pulled it off of his shoulder, “do this again and I’ll...”
“Think of something mean to do? I don’t know. It’s very cramped in here and you want to be on me, you’re like a puppy” Shinwon sighed, pulling his sweater off and making half of his shirt get stuck over his head while y/n tugged it down just so she didn’t stare, “now why’d you do that?”
“You were showing too much skin, that’s definitely indecent, there’s a lady here” she muttered, her cheeks turning pink as she glanced out the window, “almost there. You’re going to stop talking to me once we leave this train aren’t you?”
“I never said that, maybe I like you- being around you. Talking to you, you know?” Shinwon stuttered, his thoughts a mess when y/n turned to him with a mischievous face.
“Hah, someone has a crush” she snorted, waving him off and making him get angry like you know, a four year old would.
“It’s not a crush, it’s not my fault you have a surprisingly nice body” Shinwon sighed, sinking into his seat and bunching his sweater into his hands. Y/n watched him fume for a little bit, very entertaining to say the least. He was probably the most interesting boy she’d ever met, and that was saying a lot, most boys were only nice to her until she showed them affection and then they turned cold. Shinwon was always cold, it was a refreshing thing. She got the sense he wouldn’t change much, not if he had been that way his whole life, but she could learn to live with it.
“So where are you taking me for Christmas break? Since we’re friends, will you take me somewhere cool?” Y/n changed the subject expertly, Shinwon didn’t even think about his previous troubles as he thought about some things she might like. She was muggle born after all, he didn’t think she did much stuff with wizards if it wasn’t at school.
“Well, we can get matching shrunken heads in Knockturn Alley, and then I can take you antique shopping. That sounds fun” he said, just being honest here.
“Wow, romantic, then we can go drink hot cocoa. Then what? Will you meet my parents?” She asked, wide eyed and curious as Shinwon smiled, a snort passing his lips.
“No,” he laughed, “they’ll think something is wrong with me. ‘Y/n who is this sickly pale boy, is he alright? Is he a patient?’ And I’ll be embarrassed. What would you even tell them?”
Y/n laughed, covering her mouth to muffle the sounds of her loud obnoxious laughter, “no I’ll tell them that you’re a nice boy with a nice ass, kind of mean but not a hospital patient”
“Oh so you think my ass is nice, thanks, yours isn’t half bad either”
“If you stick around, things might look up for you,” y/n shrugged, “I’m hoping the-“ 
The train jerked, an unexpected stop en route made y/n’s heart speed up from all the movement and Shinwon rolled his eyes, “if I have to be stuck on this damn train with you for even longer I’ll go mad” 
“You’re just saying that because you-” y/n’s words were muffled when she got up and yanked down the curtain to their compartment, “stop being a baby”
“Oh my god...” Shinwon whispered, his eyes wide as he stared at her, “things can either go in my favor or not, are you going to kill me or strip?”
“Which one of those is in your favor?!” Y/n cackled, sitting on the bench opposite of him so their knees were touching and he wanted to say it was uncomfortable but it wasn’t, “do you guys eat snake in Slytherin?”
“I don’t know, do you guys eat badgers? You grill them up in the Forbidden Forest? That’s kind of gross,” Shinwon snorted, “have you ever seen a dragon?”
Y/n gasped, her eyes wide and making Shinwon jump in his seat before he realized she was reacting to what he’d said, “I’ve always wanted to! You’ve seen a dragon before?”
“Do I have to add that to the list of things we’re doing this winter? My cousin is a dragon breeder, not illegal, but still not exactly legal at the same time” Shinwon mumbled, his cheeks turning red from the way y/n’s eyes looked like they were swimming, “you...aren’t part Veela or something right?”
Her face changed, it pinched up and her cheeks got red as she covered a giggle with both hands. The gesture was cute he had to admit, but it would make sense if she was, no one was that pretty for no reason, “are you calling me pretty?”
He shrugged, the train jerking slightly as it continued on its path, “finally. I can’t wait to be rid of you”
Y/n pouted, tapping Shinwon’s knee while holding up the large book that had been holding their door open, “this was on my summer reading list and I didn’t get to finish it because you distracted me”
“You call that distracting? I can do a much better job, but I need to use the restroom so maybe you’ll get stuff done while I’m gone” 
Shinwon breathed a sigh of relief when he left the compartment, stomping down the hall with a bit of a smile on his face, everyone was still afraid of him and even more so now that he looked cheerful. The first years were certain he murdered someone, and when they noticed the shades on his compartment drawn they were certain he did, they just hoped it wasn’t anyone important.
“Shinwon. Where have you been?” One of the twins asked, his brother sitting lazily with his legs up on the table as Yanan played with with a piece of fabric in his hands. Shinwon noticed it was underwear, ladies underwear, but due to the alarming lack of ladies around he found it weird. He truthfully didn’t intend on wandering into the train car where the Slytherin’s usually gathered, a car over from where he’d been, but the bathroom was no nearby he couldn’t help himself.
“Around” Shinwon shrugged, his hands in his pockets as Yeo One stared at him with a lazy look in his eye. Well lazy, and kind of scary, Shinwon knew he was the scary Slytherin around but the twins were definitely something else. They were always talking nonsense, seemed to know what each other were thinking always, and they were both very very smart.
“You think he’s got a girl?” Yeo One asked Yanan, raising and eyebrow as he looked around the train car, “so who is it. Spill”
“I’m alone. Since when do I have time for girls, they’re stupid” Shinwon muttered, running a hand through his hair as the twins exchanged a look. They knew he was lying, they could tell, Shinwon just ignored them as he took his robes into the restroom and shut the door to wash his face. The twins made him nervous, he didn’t know how he survived all these years with them at all.
Y/n was reading her book, waiting for Shinwon to come back when the compartment door slid open and a tall boy with blonde hair sat on the bench across from her. He had a scary look on his face, she got the sense that despite his smile he wasn’t very friendly, she felt a chill just being around him. Y/n didn’t know his intentions and she was going to be mean for no reason, but she was going to stay cautious. The more she stared and tried to pick his brain the wider his smile got, until he looked like the Cheshire Cat almost.
“I’m Yanan” he said quietly, extending his hand for her to take. She timidly shook his hand, glancing out the window before glancing at her watch and was glad to know they were approaching Hogwarts and quickly.
“Y/n. Can I-“ 
“Help me? Yeah a bit, if you don’t mind. You know Shinwon?” He asked, his long legs occupying the space so even if y/n wanted to leave she couldn’t.
“N-not personally no,” y/n whispered, avoiding his eyes when she suddenly got uncomfortable after not being able to get a proper read on him.
“My twin is a Legilimens, it’s only natural that I’m the opposite. Stop trying to get in my head, it won’t work,” Yanan sighed, bored that he had to do this but knowing his brother would be mad if he didn’t find anything out. The good thing was that she was pretty, not the prettiest but pretty, maybe there was some sort of appeal to her, “that’s his luggage above my head you know?”
“And?” Y/n asked defensively, surprisingly Yanan but in a good way. His smirk widened but y/n didn’t really want to play games anymore, “What is it to you?”
“I’d just rather not see you around you know? Shinwon is important, he doesn’t need someone like you when the world is so big and there are much better witches around” Yanan shrugged, watching how visibly upset this made the girl and kind of wishing he didn’t say anything because he didn’t want to have to deal with a crying girl. He really wished his brother didn’t make him do this.
In the train car over, Shinwon was sitting halfway pressed against the window by a girl who was talking his ear off, Yeo One amused because Shinwon had no idea where Yanan was right now. Shinwon really wanted to get back to y/n before the train ride was over, wanting to talk to her as much as he could before he didn’t see her for most of the year. He was sure he’d now look for her at parties, tease her a bit here and there, but he was really looking forward to Christmas break. He really wanted to do those things with her, if he must admit.
“What the hell” Shinwon muttered, a loud bang making everyone in the train car jump, the source of the noise being the door in between cars behind slammed open while someone whined and whimpered. Yeo One rolled his eyes, not knowing when his brother had become such a baby because he was pouring blood from his nose and being drug by the ear by a girl who was way smaller than him.
“Is that your girlfriend Shinwon?” Yeo One asked, gesturing to the girl as Shinwon practically shoved the Slytherin girl out of the way and got out of his seat.
“You guys are assholes, no wonder no one likes you,” y/n said, looking disgusted as she let go of Yanan, who practically slithered to the seat beside his brother and wiped at his nose with the pair of underwear he’d left at the table, “your friends are great Shinwon. Maybe next time you guys antagonize a poor girl you can keep the ordeal shorter so she doesn’t waste eight hours on someone she shouldn’t”
“I didn’t...I mean-“
Y/n cut Shinwon off with a wave of her hand, shaking her head as her face began to turn red, “I don’t want to see you again, ever. You’re terrible”
She left the same way she came, with a slam of the train car door as Shinwon stared after her feeling sick to his stomach. He turned to the twins who had the same look in their eye, never looking more alike than they did when they were up to something, Shinwon felt shaky as he approached them, “What the hell did you two do?”
“We were curious...” Yanan muttered, his face free of blood so he could go back to looking like a smug cat who ate the canary.
“That’s all” Yeo One continued, shrugging a bit as he turned to his brother, “no harm no foul” 
Shinwon rolled his eyes, stomping out of the train car and making the first heard cower in fear all over again. This time he looked truly terrifying, arriving at the train compartment he’d shared with y/n as the train stopped completely. She didn’t even look at him as she grabbed her things, brushing past him as the words failed to come out of his throat. He grabbed his luggage before heading after her, students definitely stayed put in their train compartments when they saw him passing by, rushing after y/n.
Y/n didn’t know how to feel, to think she could actually be friends with someone like Shinwon was stupid, to think she was actually starting to like him. She thought she was getting through to him, she thought they could be friends, that’s all she wanted was to just get to know him. The real him. But it felt like she didn’t even catch a glimpse at who he truly was at all, she felt so stupid.
“Y/n will you just talk to me?!” Shinwon hissed, everyone on the train platform going quiet as they looked between the Hufflepuff and the Slytherin with weary eyes.
“Nothing to talk about, nothing at all. I’m fine without you, leave me alone,” y/n muttered, shoving the candy into her bag before facing Shinwon with an unfriendly look in her eye. No one had ever seen y/n look so angry, or sad, or cold, she was always so happy, “I said I didn’t want to see you”
“But I didn’t do anything,” Shinwon sighed, rubbing his face, feeling a hollowness in his chest that hurt like hell, “I swear I had no part. What did he say to you?”
“Nothing. I’m just a stupid Hufflepuff aren’t I, not good enough for you, especially since I’m not a pureblood. You and everyone in your house, you’re bigoted and it scares me that I wanted to get closer to you. I regret everything” y/n whispered, rubbing the hot tears that fell from her eyes, never having felt more embarrassed and heartbroken in her entire life.
“I’m sorry”
“I don’t care. I really don’t Shinwon, this was stupid, but thank you for reminding me that no one is ever truly the way they seem, they can actually be much worse”
Shinwon and y/n didn’t expect their school year to be ruined before it even started, they certainly didn’t expect to meet someone who could cause such an impact in your life in just eight hours, neither of them wanted to admit they actually begun to like each other less than two hours into the stupid train ride. It was stupid how great it could have been, how happy they could have been together when they finally got rid of everyone’s expectations of them. Maybe the holidays would bring them together, because something told them they’d never get over this.
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shireness-says · 5 years
Playing the Part
Prologue: Overture
Summary: As a stage manager who's clawed her way up from bottom, Emma Swan can handle just about anything thrown her way. But does that include handsome lead actor Killian Jones? A CS Broadway AU. Rated T for language. Also on AO3.
A/N: It’s finally here - the Broadway AU I’ve been threatening to write for ages! I’m excited to finally post this, and I hope you’re excited to read it. I’ve got a bunch of these saved up - 7 completed chapters and significant chunks of 4 more - so I should be able to post these every Monday.
I had a lot of help getting this to its final state, so special thanks to @katie-dub for coming up with the title, @kmomof4 for proofing my outline, and @snidgetsafan for her ever-exceptional beta skills. Y’all are the best.
Each chapter title will be pulled from musical songs. The overture is traditionally the music that plays after the lights dim but before the show starts, and oftentimes sets the stage for the show to come by combining snippets of the musical numbers to come.
Overarching disclaimer: my theater experience is purely on the community theater level and only on the techie side, not the acting side. I strive for accuracy, but pull on my own experience and as such may not achieve it.
Tagging those who have expressed interest or I think will like this: @winterbaby89, @thejollyroger-writer, @mythologicalmango, @allons-y-to-hogwarts-713, @revanmeetra87, @onceuponaprincessworld, @courtorderedcake, @snowbellewells, @branlovesouat, @aerica13, @searchingwardrobes, @teamhook, @awkwardnessandbaseball. Send me a message if you want me to keep tagging you or to be added to this list!
Without further ado: enjoy!
Emma Swan falls into working theater crew somewhat on accident.
That’s the story of her life, really – unexpectedly pregnant at 18, moved to New York on a whim (the reasoning being roughly “if not now, when?”), ended up with a job at Granny’s Diner because it happened to be next to what must be the only free parking in the city, and with a roommate because the owner’s granddaughter just happened to be looking for an apartment and a roommate at that very time.
In the same vein, while it was less of an accident that she became friends with Mary Margaret Blanchard (NYU theater major and friend of Ruby’s who liked to study at the diner), it was entirely by chance that Mary Margaret got her working crew. The truth of the matter is that Emma had a 4-month-old and very little cash, and the NYU theater department needed someone to do some scenery painting. While she may not have been the most artistic of people, Emma was pretty sure that she could handle putting paint on the wall. She could come in whenever she wasn’t working at Granny’s, and best of all, she could bring Henry with her in his carrier. It’s a perfect convergence of circumstances. The powers that be must have been pleased, because come show week, they’d asked her to stay and help move sets. And after that, well… things just spiraled from there.
The funny thing is that Emma had never considered herself a theater fan. When she had started working NYU shows, it had just been a job, not some great passion. Granted, she had only seen a terrible high school production of Fiddler on the Roof and a nearly worse community theater production of Ragtime – and both only because they were free and through her school at the time. There just wasn’t really a chance to see any quality theater as a foster kid. Ruby, when she found that out, naturally decided to fix the situation immediately by taking Emma and Mary Margaret to see Chicago for her own birthday. And as soon as Emma heard “All That Jazz”… she was gone. There was no going back.
Emma somehow found herself an unofficial member of the NYU theater family, especially when visiting lecturers and special events used the auditorium – events that still needed staffing but that the theater majors were reluctant to assist with. From there, she followed Mary Margaret and Ruby (their own aspiring costume designer) through their own smaller roles and shows. Ruby took extra classes in hair and makeup at a local cosmetology school, hoping to expand her portfolio of talents. Mary Margaret kept adding to her resume any way she could, working on any show that would cast her. And Emma somehow continued working her way up the ranks, recommended by word of mouth, towing a toddler (and later a child) along with her. Somehow, all those fortunate accidents brought her here, to this moment – an adult with her own place, a great kid, a support system of friends she views as family, and an ever-rising positive reputation in a decently paid profession. For someone who thought, ten years ago, that her life would be a series of dead end jobs and tiny apartments shared with roommates she’d despise, every day is like she’s living a dream.
This feels like the pinnacle of her achievements, however. She’s certainly worked as a stage manager before – in fact, it’s become her own niche, calling the shots. Her unconventional education has resulted in a working knowledge of nearly all the aspects of technical theater, which has proved incredibly helpful in dealing with her various colleagues. It’s like speaking another language - people are more willing to fill her in on the more complicated terminology when she shows she knows the basics. But this… this is a whole different thing. This isn’t one of her Off-Broadway shows, or one of her limited runs, but a major production. It wasn’t supposed to be – when she signed on as stage manager, set to work with a young director she came up with at NYU, it was still Off-Broadway, an adaptation of Pride & Prejudice they already knew would either be a huge hit or sink into obscurity. But then, some investor who loved the original work caught wind of Merlin’s vision, and suddenly, they had a significantly higher budget, a theater right in the heart of the theater district, and likely a lengthy run – if all goes well. Oh, and one more thing had significantly increased – the pressure on everyone involved.
Of course, just to complicate things, the change in venue isn’t the only thing weighing on Emma’s mind. Initially, Emma had been asked to serve as one of the assistant stage managers, to work backstage the way she prefers and relaying the stage manager’s orders, helping the entire show run smoothly. However, even that plan had changed. The intended production stage manager, finding herself pregnant with twins and violently ill as a result, chose not to participate in the show. Emma can’t blame her – she remembers how tired she was with Henry, and he was only one baby. But Merlin had then asked Emma to step up into an expanded role, saying that he trusted her for this position more than anyone else.
Emma’s flattered, she really is, but the truth is that she’s never run a show at this level. Call the cues for a show, check the equipment, coordinate everything that needs to happen? Yes, sure, of course. She can do that  in her sleep now (somewhat literally, sadly – she’s developed an unconscious habit of dreaming the various light cues). She’s stage managed her smaller shows without any issues. But with a budget this large and stakes this high? Feeling like she personally is the linchpin that could make this show soar or crash in spectacular fashion? On a show they’re all aware could make their careers? That’s new, and terrifying, and Emma privately wonders if she’s the right woman for the job.
But she takes the promotion for that very reason - it’s new, and an incredible opportunity to get her name out there if the production succeeds. She’d be an idiot to turn this down, but that doesn’t make her any less nervous.
Really, at the end of the day, this latest promotion is representative of how she’s made her way through most of her career – a bunch of happy accidents and an unwillingness to say no to any opportunity, now having lead her to a cold room and a crowd of men who all want to be Mr. Darcy.
Honestly, this part of the job leaves her as basically a glorified secretary, recording everyone’s contact information so that she and Merlin can handle callbacks later. He asks for her opinion every so often, but honestly, what is he expecting her to say? She can’t carry a tune, and her opinions are usually “yeah, he seems like he won’t be a complete pain in my ass”. They’ve already pre-cast their Elizabeth – a lovely woman named Belle French, who had been an up-and-coming TV actress before an ugly scandal with a prominent producer – but Merlin had wanted someone new for Mr. Darcy. Emma can’t help but understand and agree with that decision – Mr. Darcy is somewhat of an unknown factor for so much of the source material, it seems appropriate that their actor also be something of an unknown quantity, someone the public doesn’t know how to define yet. Unfortunately, they must have overly emphasized the arrogant side of Darcy in the casting call, not the shy romantic, which seems to have brought out every egotistical actor in the city - all convinced that they would be perfect for the role. Don’t get her wrong, the arrogant façade Darcy presents is certainly important (and definitely present in this room, good lord), but Pride & Prejudice was one of the few books in high school Emma actually enjoyed – she knows there needs to be more than that. Whoever they choose needs to also be able to pull off a certain amount of vulnerability, a certain level of discomfort and awkwardness. So many of these would-be Darcys are just too… suave for her taste.
That’s why she’s particularly hopeful about this next prospect. He had swaggered in, as confident as the rest, but as she’d watched him interact with the others, there had been a certain amount of nerves that the rest weren’t letting show. He aces the choreography audition (perhaps because he throws himself into rehearsing in a way the others don’t, like it’ll ruin their persona if they’re shown practicing the steps), has a singing voice that will work well for Darcy (while looking adorable, scratching behind his ear when they ask about his relatively small experience on the stage). What really sells things for Emma, however, is how, when introduced to Belle for a test of how they’ll act together, he stutters over all his words and turns bright red after finally blurting out a “oh, I’ve heard so much about you!”. He’s an awkward mess behind that swagger and false confidence, and it’s a little perfect.
(It doesn’t hurt that he’s easy on the eyes, and one of the more polite Darcys she’s dealt with today.)
So when, after a very long day, she’s asked her opinion about the variety of men who auditioned that day, Emma doesn’t hesitate to put her personal vote in for Killian Jones.
God, she just hopes she doesn’t come to regret that decision.
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