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#I’m avoiding spoilers like the plague but boi is it hard
chihomichannel · 4 months ago
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i wish you all the happiness in the world
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| pairing: oikawa tooru x short female! reader | summary: In which you loved each other for all this time but timing was never on your side | genre: angst, fluff, suggestive, kinda smut but not really | warnings: MANGA SPOILERS, cursing, alcohol, NOT EDITED ‘cause i’m tired | word count: 6964 words | a/n: hi hi! this is my first haikyuu ff. hope you like it! ヾ(@^∇^@)ノ i have to say though, i’m not really satisfied with this smh. it’s more like a summary of an entire fanfic i’ve thought for oikawa siiigh. this also was kinda rushed by the end ‘cause i wanna post it already jhbksdjna
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You treasure your time back in childhood. Whenever you think back to those days, you would be reminded of the times you spent with Oikawa and Iwaizumi by your side. Still young and ignorant to the world other than your own little bubble, you played around and made memories that even years later, you could still remember what you felt back then. What it felt like to pull on your sister’s hair and the terror that went with it, what it felt like to accidentally injure yourself after you tried copying that one commercial you saw on TV, what it felt like to trip over your own feet as you dived head first to receive a ball for the first time - and with all those times of stupidity and utter fun, Oikawa and Iwaizumi was always there. You don’t even remember the first time you met them. All you knew was that they were already a part of your life for as long as you could remember.
You and Oikawa are next-door neighbors and Iwaizumi lives just right around the corner by the end of the street. For everyday that passed by, you three were always joined at the hips. You can’t even remember a time in your childhood that you weren’t with either of the two. Or maybe it was because it was so long ago that you don’t remember everything now that you’re a bit older.
But a distinct memory of Oikawa forcing both you and Iwaizumi’s pinkies to his as he shouted in promise “Someday, we’ll make it all to nationals!” Nationals. What a fancy word for such young dreamers.
But hence, when you reached the age of kindergarten, your parents made it a mission and a promise to always, always enroll the three of you in the same school. They thought your friendship was cute and special. Even everyone in the neighborhood found your little group endearing. They could never imagine one without the other two or either of the bunch. You would always be three and that would never change. At least that was the ideal reality that everyone imagined for you three.
Though that ideal friendship remained true for years and years. But in your final year of middle school, that was when everything shifted its course.
It was when Oikawa and you were alone in between the two gyms that separated the boy’s volleyball team and the girl’s volleyball team. You were a setter, a genius setter. And during that time, you didn’t know the animosity Oikawa held towards genius volleyball players. So when he told you “You’re a really great setter” And with the small smile accompanied by those fluttering words, a great wave of pride swelled in your chest to hear such a comment from such a great setter, a tinge of pink painted across your cheeks.
You let out a small shy “Thank you” Your eyes stuck on the ground with your hair hiding your reddening cheeks. You didn’t notice the slight quirk in the corners of his smile. Too busy with your head in the clouds, you failed to notice the envy that flashed through his dark chocolate-brown eyes.
While you were busy pining over your new realized feelings, Oikawa was also busy over his conflicting feelings for you. You were his friend, his best friend along with Iwaizumi. So why does he harbor so much jealousy towards you? It was him who got you into volleyball in the first place. It was him who dragged you out of bed every morning for as long as he could remember just to play volleyball. But seeing you do so much better than him, even when he would never face you on the court, he couldn’t help but feel insecure in your presence.
He thinks he could do more, be better and surpass every living genius in the world of volleyball. He wants to be the best. He needs to be much much better. And with the green-eyed monster controlling his need to be the best, without knowing it, he held a resentment against you.
And you, none the wiser of your friend’s bitterness towards you, you found more reasons to be around Oikawa more. More than you already do. Which to be honest did not help calm the growing storm Oikawa harbors in his heart. You always just seem to be everywhere and seeing you always reminds him of what he’s lacking. Feelings of guilt, envy and your sudden overwhelming presence is what drove him to finally snap. To finally pull the trigger and kill whatever’s left of his fondness towards you.
Iwaizumi had told you that Oikawa has been pushing himself much more than normal. Oikawa has been losing his cool and Iwaizumi has explained the pressure, the constant need to be better and the inferiority Oikawa feels towards players like Kageyama and Ushijima. But neither you nor Iwaizumi knew you were one of those Oikawa felt inferior to.
So one late afternoon, the sun has set and the sky is minutes away from dark. Hours after classes were dismissed and the rest of the players had been sent home, you entered the boy’s volleyball gym alongside Iwaizumi to see that Oikawa is still hell-bent on practicing.
You frowned. You could see how exhausted he was but still, he stood on his two feet, determined. Before you could even call out his name, Kageyama caught your attention as he made his way to his senior “Oikawa-san, please teach me how to serve”
As if something inside him snapped in half, Oikawa’s hand flew towards Kageyama only for Iwaizumi to catch his arm in time “Get a grip you moron!” Stunned silence echoed through the gym, only heavy breaths and wide eyes spoke volumes of what just happened. “I’m sorry” Oikawa relaxed and Iwaizumi let him go. But his eyes, he was just as shocked with his actions as much as everyone was.
“Kageyma, I’m sorry but we’re done for the day” Iwaizumi’s spoke and with that, Kageyama walked away, eyeing Oikawa warily as he passed him by.
“Tooru?” Your voice caught his attention. You being there sent him in overload and before he could stop himself, before Iwaizumi had the chance to stop the words that flew out of Oikawa’s mouth, he snapped once again. But this time, there was no stopping it.
“You!” He bellowed, you flinched “I hate you! I hate you and your presence and everything that is you!”
“Huh?” “Wha-? OI!”
“-Why are you always everywhere? Why do you have to be a part of my life? You’re always in my eyes! You’re always there and I am sick of it!” Oikawa huffed, tears brimming on his eyes. You’re already crying.
“You like me don’t you?” 
He knows
“-Well I don’t like it! Stay away from me will you! You overwhelm me!”
He knows
You clenched your hand, shaking.
“-WHY DID YOU HAVE TO BE A SETTER?!” With a frustrated cry, Oikawa dropped to his knees and suddenly, you realize.
‘He hates me’ You thought. You didn’t even dwell as to why when you ran out the gym. You heard Iwaizumi call out your name but you ignored him and ran. You ran and ran until your lungs forced you to stop, tumbling down to your knees as you sobbed in the empty road under the street light.
You can’t understand for the life of you. Had you been mean to him? Have you done something wrong? Or is it because he knows you like him and he doesn’t feel that way towards you. Maybe you made him uncomfortable. His mother doesn’t really help as she always gushes about how you should be her future daughter-in-law. You had overwhelmed him and now he hates you.
It was only the night before Monday did you remember what he last told you.
“WHY DID YOU HAVE TO BE A SETTER?”
‘Ah’ you thought as you realized the roots of his new found resentment towards you.
Oikawa has always been ambitious and successful at whatever he sets his mind into. But he was no genius and his skills were practiced, it did not come naturally. You remembered those times he ranted about Ushijima and how unbelievably strong he is. And Kageyama and how he’s younger yet so much better than he is. And then there’s you.
He had never complained about you. Or at least none that you knew about. You should have realized when people started calling you a genius. You should have noticed the change of his demeanor towards you. How he doesn’t smile genuinely anymore. How you weren’t actually friends anymore. 
You didn’t love volleyball and maybe that’s one of the reasons why he hates you. Or maybe that’s the exact reason why. You don’t even love it yet you’re so good at it. No wonder he was frustrated about you. He’s not just envious about your skills, he’s also frustrated to see you obtain something he wants when you’re only half-hearted into the game. It was a reminder that no matter how hard he pushed himself, there would always be some genius that would trample over his hardened efforts.
You couldn’t believe how fast you could go from liking someone to hating them the next.
You avoided him after that incident. You avoided him like the plague. You still talk to Iwaizumi though but not as much as before. You distanced yourself from them and before you knew it, you had graduated.
Over the summer, that was when people noticed the shift in the dynamic of your friendship. The three became two and you’re now only one. You don’t leave your house, not even when Iwaizumi called out your name for an hour because you knew Oikawa would be there.
Oikawa did not make any effort to reconcile with you and it annoyed you to no end. It was always Iwaizumi acting as the mediator but eventually, even he gave up. It was tiring to force two people to reconcile when neither party wanted anything to do with the other.
It doesn’t mean Oikawa didn’t feel guilty. His guilt was one of the reasons why he exploded and it was also guilt that made him ashamed of facing you. You were a precious friend, a childhood friend, a person who’s known him for so long. A person who knows him better than his family and yet he pushed you away. 
And now you won’t come back.
At the opening ceremony in high school, he waited for you. He thought that he would make peace with you. Apologize once and for all. You were already in high school for god’s sake. You had let the whole summer wash away the broken pieces of your friendship with no way of reconciliation. You had wasted a whole summer and Oikawa’s determined to bring everything back to where it was. Even if it meant to pick up all the pieces of the broken fragments of your strained friendship. He would do so. Because you’re precious to him, more than you nor he could understand.
But you never came. And at once, all that courage and determination in him was also washed away.
You went to Karasuno for high school and swore your soul to the gods that exist that you would never ever step foot into a volleyball court ever again. You had decided to quit on volleyball. Sure, you were a genius at it but you didn’t love it. At least not as much as some people you know. But that promise was also thrown away when Sugawara, a classmate, begged you to be their manager.
He was resolute and you were annoyed. And so you rejected his offer. Though that did not stop him from pestering you, begging you down to his knees which is why you found yourself watching a practice match held in the school’s volleyball gym.
‘They’re weak’ You thought. You didn’t really care as you watched the team pathetically lost. You could not stress enough the difference in power between your school and the away team. It was truly and utterly pitiable.
You had heard about the tale of the once powerhouse that is Karasuno and you wondered what happened. You learned that your school had once managed to make it to the nationals so why is the team so weak now? No coach, no manager, just players.
You were already leaving, indifferent to your school’s volleyball team when your ears perked up on an insult, an insult that sent you to overdrive and before you knew it, you were screaming. You screamed at your school’s team. You screamed a vow, a vow to get them to nationals once again. And so beyond your belief, you were on the court once again. Though this time, you were only at the side.
It was in the Interhigh Tournament did you and Oikawa look at each other once again. His eyes were wide while yours was determined, glaring at him as if challenging him. He knew of your abilities and how well you could use that to coach others. He knew you could use that to examine opponents and use that knowledge against them. You were a genius that way. And so seeing you in the opponent’s team as their manager made him nervous. Just because you were a manager doesn’t mean you wouldn’t be able to help the team technically.
But how can you help a team that doesn’t want your help in the first place? It was only you and your other fellow first years that were bitter when you lost in the first round. Your seniors seemed to accept that your team just wasn’t good enough. And the frustration sent you to silent tears as you questioned your decision of being involved in volleyball again.
And Oikawa, being the ever jackass that he is, used the opportunity to tease you. An excuse to talk to you. And imagine the delight he felt when you gave him the attention. And so started the rivalry you never imagined you would have with him.
You thought that maybe if he hadn’t chosen to tease you that day, you would’ve quit the volleyball club. And maybe if he hadn’t teased you that day, you would have probably never talked again.
Three years passed and it was your last year at high school. With the addition of promising first years, you faced off against Aoba Johsai in the Spring Interhigh Qualifiers. Karasuno won and would face off Shiratorizawa for the finals. You should be glad, ecstatic even. So why are you sad? Why are you mourning for your childhood friends’ loss? Why won’t you look away from the opponent and celebrate with your team?
But how could you when you could see the two special people in your life fight off the tears that threatened to stream down their eyes. And the night after Karasuno beat Shiratorizawa, you thought ‘Nationals’ 
You were the only one who made it to Nationals. And you weren’t even a player.
The thought of that stupid childhood promise left a bitter taste on your mouth.
๋࣭     ࣪ ˖        ⋆ ࣪.     ˖ ࣪⭑      ˖ ࣪ ٬     ุ๋ ⸱ ๋࣭     ࣪ ˖        ⋆ ࣪.     ˖ ࣪⭑      ˖ ࣪  ๋࣭
The high of the nationals died down once it was over and you and your fellow third years now focus on studying for the finals and upcoming university entrance exams. It was dismissal time and having no volleyball club activities any more, you head straight home, parting ways with Sugawara at the intersection.
You sighed. The sky is orange with hues of pink, purple and blue painting the sky gradient. You had arrived by your house’s gate when you heard the ruckus of voices. Male voices. So you turn and lo and behold, it was Oikawa, Iwaizumi and number 2 and 3 from what you could remember.
They turn to look at you and their ruckus dies down. You turned your back at them, already opening the gate when Iwaizumi called out your name. You turn your focus back at them “Would you mind tutoring us?”
“Please, she’s bad at math” Oikawa commented. You felt a nerve pop out of your neck “You bitch, you suck at everything but volleyball!”
“Excuse me, I’m in class 6-” “Doesn’t matter”
Iwaizumi could only sigh as Matsukawa and Hanamaki watched in amusement. ‘So you’re the famous childhood friend’ they thought.
You and Oikawa stared down at each other, neither backing down. For added effect, you crossed your arms which earned a snort from the setter “Please?” Iwaizumi pleaded. With a sigh, you looked at your friend “Fine. I’ll just tell mom first”
Why did you accept? You didn’t know. But you knew you didn’t mind being around Oikawa now. Though you don’t really trust him, not anymore.
Your mom was surprised to hear you would be going to Oikawa’s house. It’s been years and she could not hide the glee on her face as she practically pushed you out of the house. With a deep breath, you made your way to his house.
The door opened to his mother who, like your mom, albeit a bit more enthusiastic, was ecstatic beyond relief at the sight of you. She asked you continuously without giving you any chance to reply “Did you finally make up? Are you friends again? You’re talking again? How splendid! Why did you stop talking in the first place? I was so sad. I missed you so dearly. It wasn't the same without you”
She kept on beaming and you only replied in awkward chuckles, not wanting to kill her joy and tell her you still very much held a grudge against her son. But fortunately, she left you to the company of the four boys who sprawled all around the couch, bags thrown at the side with the television on in a music channel. A girl group is performing.
“Aren’t you guys supposed to be studying?”
“Shh, Miho-chan is singing” Oikawa held a finger on his lips. You could only grimace at their focus on the girl group. Maybe you should go now.
But before you could even turn around, Iwaizumi had turned off the TV much to the boys’ protests “Fanboy later you horny scumbags”
“You know I’m here, right?” You say and Iwaizumi sent you an apologetic smile.
“You don’t count as a girl anyway so it doesn’t really matter” You felt your heart drop at Oikawa’s comment. You frowned, dropping your books down on the coffee table with a slam. The three boys jumped, startled. They were sitting down on the floor when you did that.
With a huff, you sat down at the end of the table while Matsukawa and Hanamaki sat beside each other and across from them sat Oikawa and Iwaizumi “So-” You cleared your throat as they looked at you in synchrony “-what is it you need help in?”
๋࣭     ࣪ ˖        ⋆ ࣪.     ˖ ࣪⭑      ˖ ࣪ ٬     ุ๋ ⸱ ๋࣭     ࣪ ˖        ⋆ ࣪.     ˖ ࣪⭑      ˖ ࣪  ๋࣭
You looked up to the digital clock hanging on the wall. 8:47 pm, it read “Aren’t you guys gonna go home?”
Oikawa is fast asleep on the coffee table, head resting in his arms. Matsukawa has given up on his practice test and Hanamaki sat spaced out. It was only Iwaizumi whose focus is still on his notes. Even you gave up 15 minutes ago, feeling your head ache as the words start swirling incoherently in your mind.
You received a hum of reply, everyone focused on their own little worlds. You sighed, closing your book and tucking in the notes in your bag in a hurry. You stood up, groaning at the ache that has built up on your legs from hours of sitting. The others noticed this and copied your actions, slowly standing up and slinging their bags on their shoulders “You all should rest for the day. Just continue tomorrow”
Iwaizumi did not budge from his position and you walked out of the living room to the front door, Matsukawa and Hanamaki hot on your heels. Once you were outside, you were about to bid them goodbye when Hanamaki beat you to it “Hey, I’ve been thinking. Why didn’t you go to Seijoh?”
Matsukawa hit Hanamaki in the back of his head, earning a hiss from the latter “Sorry, you don’t have to answer that”
“Why? Did they talk about me?” Your smile was sad it could come off as a frown. The two boys looked at you sheepishly and you chuckled, turning away from them as you unlocked your gate “We’ve heard the three of you were close and that something happened. They didn’t really elaborate. You’re a really touchy subject” This made you laugh
“Damn” You turned back around to face them to see that they’re still on the same spot, waiting for your response. But you only gave them half a smile, bid goodbye and entered your house.
The next day, you slept through your alarm. Only waking up when your mother woke you up with a screech. And so you skipped on breakfast, snatching a biscuit from the top of the refrigerator and dashed out of your house. Only to be met with Oikawa getting on his bike, obviously late like you are.
“Shouldn’t you be at morning practice?” “Shouldn’t you know that 3rd years don’t go to practice anymore?” You rolled your eyes.
“Geez, how could I know? I don’t go to your school, dumbass” Oikawa pedaled to match your pace “You sound like Iwa-chan, chibi-chan~”
You held your tongue, though your frown failed to conceal your annoyance. Oikawa gazed at you, pursing his lips as you refused to look at his way “Hop on, chibi-chan. No matter how fast you go, you’ll still be late with those tiny legs of yours”
“Can you shut up?!” “What? Is that your best retort? How lame~” You kicked the wheel of his bike sending him trembling out of balance “Hey!”
You huffed. You did not sign up for so much annoyance so early in the morning. You groaned, head looking up at the sky in exasperation when Oikawa blocked your way “Please, please get hit by a truck” Oikawa looked offended
“Ouch, chibi-chan. Just hop on already, you know I’m right” He gave you a grin which only aggravated you more “No”
“Don’t be so stubborn, little girl” “I am not little” “Your height says otherwise” “I’ll kill you!”
Both of you were locked out of the gate that day.
Your review with the four boys continued everyday after school. As well as your morning walk to the school being bombarded by Oikawa. When he learned what time you go to school, Oikawa made it his mission to walk with you. Always biking at your pace as he ranted on and on much to your dismay. You had begged Iwaizumi to go to school with the two of you since Oikawa doesn’t give any signs of giving up on you. But Iwaizumi only gave you a grunt for a response, mumbling about respecting his sleep.
And came one Friday morning, 2 weeks left of school and 3 days before university entrance examinations. Oikawa is waiting by your gate as always and hopped on at the sight of you “Morning, chi-bi-chan~”
Closing your gate, he waits for you to walk but was pleasantly surprised when you sat on the back of his bike “Huh?”
“Bike” You said and so he did. He began telling a story about Iwaizumi tripping in front of his crush, elaborating on what happened that day. And you, you were uncharacteristically quiet. 
Usually, you’ll banter with him. And so when you called out his name, Oikawa could feel that you were about to say something heavy. So he continued rambling, zoning out your voice and filling the air with his words.
“Tooru” He paused, his heart thundering against his chest. It has been years since he last heard you call him by his name “Yeah?”
“Why are you acting like we’re friends” Oikawa let out a strained smile but you didn’t see
“Damn, that hurts y/n-chan” He said in jest but you could hear the genuine hurt in his voice. Oikawa felt your hand tighten as you clutch on the back of his jacket.
“Tooru-” You leaned your head against his back ‘-it’s weird how this makes me feel happy but hurt’ You thought
“Tooru-” ‘-I’m glad we’re talking again’
Oikawa could feel his heart go erratic, longing for whatever that is on your mind. Voice it out, he thought. Voice it out. But you don’t
“Tooru-” ‘-how come I still like you?’
That night, everyone is staying over at Oikawa’s house except for you. It would be weird considering you’re the only girl and your parents didn’t let you. But here you were, shivering in the cold as you knocked on the window outside Oikawa’s room. He was there because it was him who called you out at 2 in the morning, begging you to come. You shouldn’t have come but you couldn’t really resist him. Not even after all these years. Not even after convincing yourself to move on from him.
You’re whipped and you’re annoyed by it.
‘He’s a jackass’ You think as he holds your hand to support you down ‘He shouted at you. Never apologized, rejected you before you even had a chance to confess. He’s an annoying son of a bitch’
Your heart flutters when you stumble against his chest, Oikawa holding you by the shoulders to steady you “You’re cold” He says, his breath raining down on your hair. His breath was hot and your cheeks turned warm.
You fought the urge to look up at him but when he wrapped a blanket around you, your eyes unconsciously made its way to his face to see he was glowing red despite the darkness of his room.
“The others are in the living room” He says, pulling you down with him on his bed. Shuffling of sheets echoed around the room as Oikawa dived under the blanket. He had his arm under you while his other pulled you to his chest. He kept his arms around you, his chin on your head as you flushed yourself to his chest.
You could feel his heart, beating its way out of his chest. His heart slowly lulling you to sleep. He called out your name. You reluctantly pulled your head away from his chest and looked up at him “Hm?”
Oikawa bite his tongue, mulling over the words in his head. Should he tell you right now? What would your reaction be? He doesn’t want to hurt you again. He doesn’t want to repeat the same mistakes. He doesn’t want this moment to stop. For the world to pause and let him hold you close to him.
He thinks it over - deciding he should tell you soon. But not know. Not when your cheeks are red, your half-lidded eyes glossy as you gazed at him longingly. Oikawa leans in, planting a soft kiss to your forehead that tells you exactly what he feels. You could feel yourself shrink under the affection.
You didn’t notice that you fell asleep. Did not know that his eyes scanned every nook and crevices of your face. How beautiful you looked to him. How you would always be the prettiest in his eyes. How he looked at you so utterly and deeply in love it hurts to know that the time is ticking.
Oikawa brushes the strand of hair on your face, pushing it behind your ears in an agonizingly slow pace. He takes his time feeling your skin, placing his lips on your forehead and falls asleep with your warmth wrapped against his.
After that night, you and Oikawa grew more affectionate with each other. Sure, you still banter. That would never change. But there was a shift in the air and you knew there was something in there. But neither of you admitted anything. Still friends but much more than just that. Nothing was official and no one acknowledged the elephant in the room.
And you were glad it was never official. Because after graduation, Oikawa’s mom threw a party for him. A graduation party. A farewell party.
It seems like night brings out the intimacy that the morning shies away. Oikawa had led you to the playground behind your house. You remembered playing here with Oikawa and Iwaizumi, practicing volleyball as always.
You climbed up the slide and sat down at the top, letting your feet dangle on the edge. Oikawa sat beside you, his long legs dangling down beside yours. You studied the difference and smiled to yourself.
“I’m going to Argentina” He says, refusing to look at you. His hands are pulled into a fist, trembling. You placed your hand on top of his, his shaking stops as he finally looks your way “That’s great” You said, and you mean it.
He smiles at you but it doesn’t reach his eyes. So you held his cheeks, head tilting to the side “It has always been your dream, Tooru. I can’t believe it’s finally happening”
“It’ll be hard” You snort “Of course. It’s Argentina dude. Japan is still miles away from their skills” Your eyes glint at that, giving Oikawa a determined smile “But we’ll beat you, just you wait”
“I’ll win first” And he means it. You laugh, hand dropping from his cheeks “I’ll look forward to it”
Oikawa gazes at you with so much adoration in his eyes. You were the only person who didn’t tell him his plans were stupid. And he loves you for that.
“I love you” he was the first to crack. Your cheeks turn red, expression shy at his intense gaze “I-I love you too” You stutter, a bit overwhelmed.
Oikawa chuckles “You’re cute” His words don't really help to die down the red in your cheeks. In fact, it only worsens it “Shut up” You grumble indignantly and he laughs.
“Hey, will you be my girlfriend?” At this, you looked at him with a sad smile.
“We can’t” Oikawa knew your answer before he even asked. But he didn’t expect the pain would hurt that much.
“Can’t we try?” His voice is painful and it broke your heart to see him so broken “Tooru” He looks at you pleadingly and he speaks
“I think I've been in love with you all this time. But to be honest-” He bitterly chuckles “-I was envious of you more than I liked you"
"And that's why it's a no" you smiled sadly.
"You love volleyball, Tooru. More than anything else. More than you. More than me" The atmosphere was somber. Until a thought passed by your mind and you tittered.
"More than milk bread" The both of you giggled.
"Yeah...more than milk bread"
Neither of you moved. Not even when the sun rose from its sleep and in a few hours, he'll leave.
He'll leave.
And you have to let him go. Even though he's right there beside you. So close yet so far away. He's there and he loves you. But for his dreams. For him.
You let him go.
And then he's gone. On the other side of the world, thousands and millions of miles away from you. And you regret the three years that could've been so much more if the two of you hadn't been so stupid and so prideful.
And just like that, years and years passed. Both Oikawa and Iwaizumi left abroad and only you stayed. Though you did move to Tokyo and worked at a hospital for a few months until the opportunity to work as an assistant manager and physical therapist for MSBY Black Jackals came up. You could only thank the stars for connections. In this field, you only get a chance if someone in it knows you. And luckily for you, you know a ton of them from your years as a manager back in high school. 
It’s 2021 and 8 years have passed and you remained in contact with Oikawa. Though you don’t talk as much as you two now have your own separate lives. He has volleyball and you have your athletes. And of course, during the course of those 8 years, the both of you had dated several people. Some long term, some not so long. And inside those 8 years, you’ve finally convinced yourself you’ve moved on from Oikawa Tooru.
The olympics is this year and along with Iwaizumi, you were pulled in to be a manager and their physical therapist. You had made quite the reputation in the industry. What with your genius mind for volleyball, opponent teams that know you fear your analytical skills and your ability to use that knowledge for the benefit of your team. Really, all professional volleyball teams want you. It just so happens that it was MSBY Black Jackals that called you first.
Oikawa doesn’t know that you and Iwaizumi are part of the Japan team. And so when his team emerged, ready to face old rivals, Oikawa swore his eyes jumped at the sight of you and Iwaizumi.
Your heart swelled with pride, lips outstretched to a big smile. You’re proud of him, so so much.
You could only yelp when Oikawa sprinted towards you and pulled you and Iwaizumi in a tight hug. It’s been such a long time since you saw each other. And a thought passed by your head.
The three of you didn’t make it all in the nationals, but you sure did all go to the olympics.
When Japan lost and Argentina won, you didn’t find it in yourself to be sad. Instead, you were happy. Ecstatic. Euphoric. You’re so proud of everyone, of your teammates and rivals. To have made it this far, they were truly beyond just amazing.
๋࣭     ࣪ ˖        ⋆ ࣪.     ˖ ࣪⭑      ˖ ࣪ ٬     ุ๋ ⸱ ๋࣭     ࣪ ˖        ⋆ ࣪.     ˖ ࣪⭑      ˖ ࣪  ๋࣭
“You could stay with me” Oikawa says nonchalantly as he takes your bag from your hand, the hubbub of the crowd ringing in your ears as you exit the airport “My car’s right here” He tells you as you near a red sports sedan. Unlocking the car, he placed your bag at the backseat as you sat at the passenger's seat.
You’re in Argentina for the weekend for a seminar for sports physical therapists. Just two days, sure nothing could happen for such a short time.
“Nah, just drive me to a hotel” Oikawa gazed at you mischievously
“What? Afraid I’ll do something?” You threw a box of tissue at him “Shut up bitch” He laughed, taking a seat before starting the car “So you are” 
“Please” You scoff.
You ended up staying at his guest room.
His house is in an apartment - a kitchen, a couch, a TV, a fucking gym, and pictures on the wall. His apartment is surprisingly cozy, you noted. 
You dropped your phone on the bed, collapsing in fatigue. Your eyes were about to flutter shut when Oikawa’s voice boomed in the room “You should shower. Ya stinky from the flight” You rolled your eyes.
You reluctantly pushed yourself out of bed, passing by him and snatching the towel from his hands. You noticed he already changed into a shirt and shorts. You could see the outline of his muscles, lining down his chest. His thighs in view, you tried hard not to stare.
But of course, Oikawa being the ever asshole that he is, comments “Take a picture! It’ll last!”
Once shower was over, you fell down beside him on the couch, the television on in the sports channel. It’s Schweiden Adlers against Azuma Pharmacy Green Rockets. You smiled thoughtfully at the sight of Ushijima and Goshiki on TV.
“What time tomorrow is your seminar again?” Oikawa asks, passing you the milk break from the coffee table. You took it “8 in the morning until 5” He hums, bread down his throat.
“Wanna go out after? My practice ends at the same time” You yawn “Sure”
True to his words, he picked you up from the university 30 minutes after five. Oikawa took you everywhere, to the beach, to a restaurant, to a park, even to a club. Which is probably why he’s dragging your drunk ass to his apartment at 1 am.
You slipped from his arms and landed on the floor with a thud “Shit” You heard him curse under his breath as he hurriedly closed the door behind him. You felt arms curl around yours causing you to giggle “That tingles”
“How can you get drunk from 2 glasses of vodka?” He mused but you only giggled at him. Oikawa glanced at the clock, 1:42 am. Sighing, Oikawa put a hand under your knees and back, carrying you bridal style to your room.
“Tooru” You exhaled, your hot breath sticking to his face as he laid you down gently on the bed. Gulping, Oikawa turned away, grabbing the blanket to put it over you. He felt your hand enclose his cheek, forcing his gaze to you.
Your cheeks are red, illuminated by the moon that is the only light source in the room. Your hair is a mess and your breath stinks of vodka. Your eyes are closing, hands collapsing on your side as you exhale, dropping your head on the pillow. Oikawa notes the way your eyelashes squint and the mole in your left eyelid. And suddenly, Oikawa felt like he was eighteen again.
You could feel his breath, hear his heavy breathing and you flutter your eyes open. You shrink under his gaze, lips parting unconsciously and Oikawa fought with all his might not to kiss you right there and then. His eyes are half-lidded, filled with desire, longing, and love.
Love. Suddenly, you’re not so drunk anymore.
“Tooru” You breathed out in a soft voice. As if something in him snapped, his lips zoomed into yours in a passionate heated kiss. You moan, slinging your arms on his nape, pulling him closer to you until he was in between your thighs.
“Tooru” You slipped out when he removed his lips on yours only to kiss you again. You could feel the heat of his skin on yours as you pulled and pulled him closer as humanly possible. 8 years flashed through your eyes and all you could think about was how good it feels to have his lips nipping on your neck.
He moans your name, fingers combing through your hair in a desperate attempt to feel all of you. He’s wanted you for so long he couldn’t think straight when he felt your hands dig under his shirt, the cold of your hands digging into his back. He groans, kissing you again in the lips before letting you slip his shirt off his shoulders.
You hum, pulling away to kiss his collarbone, hands feeling his chest down to his abdomen. You felt him tug your shirt and you giggled into his chest, taking your shirt off only for Oikawa to roam his hands on your back, to your front then to your chest. He pressed a soft peck on the flesh of your breasts that wasn’t covered by your bra and he looked up at you and asked “Are you sure?”
“Yes” You exhaled and that was all it took for Oikawa to push you gently deeper to the bed, enjoying the feeling of his fingers working its way down to your legs. He took off your pants, Oikawa took a deep breath at the sight of your cunt. He goes back up to you, nuzzling his head into your neck and whispers “God, the things you make me feel” He airly chuckles.
You took a hold of his cheeks, kissing his eyes, his nose then his lips “I love you”
“I love you too”
-
“God, I’m nervous” Oikawa starts, jumping lightly as he holds your hand. You rolled your eyes but a smile plastered on your face. You grin at him and he continues “I’ve been an idiot for a very long time-” He pauses and smiles
“-still am” You snort “-but a tad bit better now that I’m with you” A soft, endeared smile crept onto your lips
“I won’t say that I don’t regret all those years that I could’ve been with you. But we both know that was crucial and all that matters is that now I’m with you” His eyes shone and his lips creased into a smile that reached his ears
“I promise to never leave you,” he pushes the ring into your left ring finger “-not even death can do us apart” You hear your family and friends laugh in the background
“I will bother you every step of the way-” you could not help the roll of your eyes “-and love you for the rest of my life”
“Actually, scratch that. I’ll love you even when I die. I’ll love you in my next life. And the one after that, and the one after that. No matter how many times I reborn-” Oikawa takes your hands to his lips, eyes fluttering shut as he pressed his soft lips on your knuckles
“-I vow to find you and love you. Like I’ve always had and always will”
For all of your life, Oikawa Tooru has been a constant even at times you wish he wasn’t. There was a time you loathed him, a time you missed him, a time you forgot him, and a time you realized you will never stop loving him.
And as you stand before your creator, in front of your friends and family, promising to love each other till the end of time. The sound of “I do”s and cheers reverberating around the hall, as he kissed you with a tilt of his head. 
You fell in love all over again.
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i suck at ending lines ajhbsnckl. i’ma edit this later when i ain’t tired AND hungry
158 notes · View notes
crispy-chan · 7 months ago
Text
neverending story  ➳ hwang hyunjin
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banner by the amazing @blueprint-han​ ➳ pairing: hwang hyunjin x f.reader ➳ genre: fluff, angst, strangers to friends to lovers, slow burn, AU ➳ warnings: language, arguments, food poisoning, minor injury, hyunjin carrying mc around (yes, that's a warning lol), a mean cousin ➳ summary: while your memories are erased at the end of each year, Hyunjin won’t let it stop you from experiencing love. ➳ word count: 23k ➳ author's note: this is finally out!! my longest fic yet. i poured my everything into this, so please give it some love. any interactions (including constructive criticism) are highly appreciated! Happy birthday, Hyunjin ♡ 
➳ tagging: @secretwhisperer @danyxthirstae01 @zitarcis @newskynet @k-dinernet @kdiarynet​
listen to “Neverending story” by stray kids
 = lyrics of neverending story
|| masterlist ||
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“Whenever you smile, whenever it's hard for you I'll always protect you For you I can go against time So I can appear in front of you I believe, I believe Even if the world changes Can you promise that we won't change?”
Drumming your fingers against the desk, you let out a long sigh. The lecture was almost over, and in less than ten minutes, you will be free to go. Free to walk out into the cold January weather.
Across the street, looking out of your window, you could spot a few couples, holding hands in the bleak winter, walking by with massive grins.
You didn't understand. It was only a few weeks into the new year. How could they have already started dating? How could they have already fallen in love?
They'd known each other for barely three weeks.
You see, this was how your world worked. After years and years of testing, scientists came up with the best way to deal with citizens. Deeming that this would be the best solution to depression, trauma, and heartbreak. This is the best they could come up with, you thought bitterly.
On the 31st of December, every year, exactly at midnight, all your memories of the previous year would be erased.
So you could basically say you only lived for a year.
You were trapped in this neverending cycle of short lives that barely brought you any joy while they lasted. But it's not like it mattered, whatever fond memories you'd have, any friends that you'd make… you'd lose that all in no time, only to be thrown back into life with your mind being a blank slate.
You despised this system with all your heart. It made you give up on any future romance. Why should you bother with falling in love? The person wouldn't remember you next year and neither would you. It didn't make any sense for those fools to be holding hands, pretending like they'll be together for eternity, and pretend like they're in love.
It was plain stupid, that's what you thought. Or maybe it was jealousy speaking for you? Maybe you too longed to love, and be loved like all these people, and live out your romantic dreams.
But you learned how to suppress them, it wouldn't do you any good to think about these things, for all you know, you could have been happily in love a month ago.
All of this didn't change one thing though. Your love for romance novels.
You were sitting in the school cafe, peacefully enjoying a cup of your mocha when an obnoxious voice called to you.
“Whatcha' reading?”
You looked up from the book, a scowl adorning your face as you eyed the boy up from head to toe. He was infuriatingly attractive, that's for sure.
“What do you want?”
The boy looked taken aback by your brash response. He seemed at loss for words so he decided to take action instead.
“What the hell?” you glared as he took a seat next to you, completely disregarding your personal bubble.
“I asked you what you were reading.”
You scoffed, shoving the book in his face, letting him read the title.
“The fault in our stars? Isn't that a romance?” he asked, utterly confused.
It made you wonder, why did he even care?
“Yes, it is. Now, will you leave? Or is there another reason as for why you are bothering me?”
“Not really,” he smirked, “it's just that you seem to hate love and relationships...I was surprised when I saw you were reading - well- a romance novel.”
You stared at him with your eyes wide open. How did he know that? Were you that easy to read?
“I'm Hyunjin, by the way. I'm in your social studies and physics class.”
So that's how he knew... 
“You really don’t like me do you?” he mused. 
“I wonder what gave it away.” You kept staring into the book, trying to focus on the words but you realized it wasn't getting you anywhere. The contents on the page started merging into one, blurring your sight completely.
Grabbing your belongings, you quickly stormed out of the cafeteria, completely ignoring his stretched-out hand, no doubt waiting for a handshake. While what you did was undeniably rude, you didn't want to talk to him any longer so you decided that this was the best option.
To run.
Who would have thought that this mind-erasing would be to your advantage one day? He wouldn't remember you in a year and neither would you. So it was all dandy.
Or was it…
“Remember the first day we met A shy smile and the sunlight falling I knew, just by looking into your eyes That we're one That we're one That you're me”
After the embarrassing cafeteria escapade, you avoided him like the plague. You felt a little bad for leaving the poor boy hanging whenever he said “hi”, but you thought that if you continued to act so abrasively, he'd eventually leave you alone.
Spoiler alert, he didn't.
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As the days passed by, January evolved into February, and Hyunjin evolved into a pain in the ass. He showed no signs of stopping as well. He kept following you around in school, sitting next to you during lunch, even daring to announce that you were going to be his partner for the social studies - what is love? project.
“Hyunjin,” you gritted your teeth, trying your best to not lose your composure in front of the whole class, including your teacher, “I never said I'd be partners with you. In fact, you never even asked.”
Hyunjin flashed you his signature grin, turning around to face the rest of the class (which has become silent due to your little argument). “This is where you're wrong, Y/N. I asked you the day before yesterday, in the cafeteria. You responded, and I quote ‘Sure. Just get out of my face, asshole.’ ”
Gasps resounded throughout the room at your crude words, making you shiver in embarrassment, suddenly feeling so small compared to Hyunjin's tall figure.
The teacher, as tired of your antics as she was, let you guys off with a warning. She ended up pairing you for the project, saying it would be interesting to see what you would produce.
You left the classroom with a scowl, Hyunjin hot on your heels as he repeatedly called your name. But you ignored him, choosing to run back home.
The next day, Hyunjin was waiting near your locker with puppy eyes. You warily approached him, fully intending to ignore him and just retrieve your things but he started to frantically apologize.
“Y/N, Y/N. I'm sorry, what I did yesterday was way out of line-”
“It sure was.”
“-so I was thinking: we can go to Mrs. Lee after lunch and request to switch partners-”
“No need Hyunjin. I really don't care who I'll be paired up with. Let's just not blow this,” you murmured, putting on your slides and maneuvering your way around the boy, to walk to your class.
“A-Are you sure about this? Y/N! Answer me please-”
“Yes. I'm sure,” you yelled, “just stop bothering me please.”
He started to lightly tremble at the sound of your voice, a sad pout etching itself across his face. His shoulders slumped down, as he turned around, walking in the opposite direction.
You felt pretty bad when you saw him sadden like that, walking away without another word. Perhaps you had taken it too far this time, he didn't do anything to warrant such bad behavior from your side. His pouty face was enough to make your heart break.
Why were you so mean to him?
A few days later, you still haven't heard from Hyunjin. The boy has ignored you ever since you practically screamed at him to leave you alone. Not like you were surprised, it's more that you regretted your actions, actually missing his annoying presence. Of course, you'd never tell him that.
Instead, you chose to speak through your actions. Asking around (and maybe threatening Han Jisung a little bit), you found out where his last lecture of the day took place.
Walking into the classroom full of people didn't exactly soothe your nerves but you were determined to make things right.
You entered the room, nobody thankfully noticing you (yet), and walked up straight to Hyunjin's desk. He was currently in a heated conversation with Jeongin about mint and chocolate ice cream.
“Hyunjin,” you blurted.
Said boy's eyes widened at the sight of you and his lips stretched into a grin. But not one of those sleazy ones, an honest heartwarming smile.
“Yeah?”
Oh shit. You haven't exactly thought this through. What now?
“Umm...yeah, so… I'm sorry for yelling at you,” his widening smile gave you the confidence to continue, “and I was wondering if you'd give me your number...to work on the project of course,” you hastily added when you saw him smirk.
“No harm done. Sure, give me your phone and I'll type it in.”
You released a breath you didn't even realize you were holding, pulling out your phone and handing it to the boy.
He stretched out his palm, reaching for the device before typing in his number. Handing you back the phone, he pushed his hair back, out of his forehead and relaxed back into his chair.
Chucking it back in your bag, you gave him one last smile before walking out the door with a “thanks”.
It was only when you arrived home that you noticed what he saved himself as.
Y/N | prince jinnie? Seriously?
Prince Jinnie | what? You don't like it? (っ◔◡◔)っ
Y/N | as a matter of fact, I don't…
Prince Jinnie | harsh T-T
Weird. Who the fuck even texts like that? Well, apparently Hyunjin does.
Prince Jinnie | nvm that, we have to agree on meeting up for the assignment UvU
Y/N | sure. Just please lay off those weird faces
Prince Jinnie | you mean these? -_-  8 }  :O
Y/N | yes!!
***
You agreed on meeting up in a week. The plan was to crash at some random sandwich place Hyunjin found on Google maps and figure out the groundwork for the project. The annoyance you felt when Hyunjin first approached you has slowly managed to fade away, leaving you actually mildly excited to meet the boy. Blame it on the slightly sunnier March weather, but you were actually looking forward to working on the project.
Or that's what you thought.
You see… you've never worked on a project with Hyunjin before and you were mad at yourself for not realizing that he wasn't going to be a Christopher Bang in terms of academics.
“Hyunjin! Please… we really have to get started. The project is due in less than three weeks,” you tried to plead, but the boy wouldn't listen. Instead, he chose to stare at his reflection in the spoon.
“Yo, yo, yo!! Y/N! Why am I upside down when I look at a spoon?!” he shouted, eyes widening in shock as if he just discovered a way to travel through time.
“It's a concave mirror, you stupid. We talked about it in class like two weeks ago. Your image gets inverted.”
“Ooh,” he gasps in understanding, “I must have not been paying attention.”
“No shit. It's not like you ever do,” you murmured, completely oblivious to how Hyunjin's smile slightly dropped, and how a pout appeared on his handsome face. He was used to people saying that, having to listen to many jealous classmates, particularly guys, who absolutely despised him for his looks, talk shit about him.
He knew he wasn't the brightest student, but what most people didn't know, was that he really tried his best. He worked his ass off during most of his free time, spending hours upon hours dancing, coming up with new routines, perfecting said routines.
It really was a neverending cycle. Most of his free time spent on dance practice didn't however mean he completely neglected his studies. In fact, he took school very seriously but due to his lack of a proper sleep schedule, he often ended up dozing off during lessons.
Other students would also later be surprised, when he managed to pass most exams, thinking that he found a way to cheat. But that wasn't it. On top of his already hectic schedule, he would cram in a few more hours of studying (which were taken out of his sleep time), working on memorizing all the materials that could appear on the test.
He genuinely worked hard for his grades, sacrificing most of his free time, so it hit him hard when people thought he was just slacking off.
But he didn't want to make things awkward between the two of you, choosing to ignore that remark. You were a blunt person, so he figured that's how you viewed him. Maybe he'd be able to change your opinion over time, now that you were open to talking to him.
“Sooo… how do you want to do this project?” he finally asks, tapping his pen against his plump lower lip.
“Like do you want to make a poster? Or maybe a PowerPoint presentation?”
“Hmm. I think that just writing an essay would be the best way to capture our answer to the question,” you murmured, deep in thought.
“Like- you know, we could get a little sappy, add some psychological points. I know she'd love it,” you listed off your ideas. Although she was a social studies teacher, she had majored in psychology too and loved rom-coms and anything that had to do with undying love. Quite sorrowful for the world you lived in.
“You think so? Will we be able to pull it off though?” he asked, concerned. “I'm more of a practical, artsy type of guy.”
“I think we will. We could try to channel your inner drama queen into the writing.”
Despite his initial doubts, his furrowed brows relaxed into a smile as he remembered, he wouldn't be working alone. He had you with him, so he was sure it would be okay.
“If you say so.”
***
“As much as it is an amazing, yet completely spontaneous emotion, it causes too much pain for it to dictate, possibly ruin, our whole lives.”
You smoothed the nonexistent crease in the paper looking up from it and locking eyes with Hyunjin, waiting for some sort of response from him.
“Do you truly believe that though?” was all he asked, piercing you with his curious gaze.
“Not exactly. Just don’t want us to get in trouble. If the school board finds out we publicly sympathize with love that lasts more than a year, they'll notify the police and I don’t want to end up in a lager.
“I guess...it just sounds so cold,” he sighed, leaning back in his chair.
“It does. And I assure you I'm not some cold-hearted bitch. I just prefer not to get my hopes up. It doesn't make sense to date someone if you're gonna forget them in less than a year.”
“But that's exactly that. I think it makes lots of sense. You have to make use of the short period of time and experience love,” he slammed his fists on the table angrily, attracting the gazes of a few other customers. 
“Sorry,” he mumbled.
“Look, let's not discuss that now. We have to finish the project.”
***
“Oof. We're finally done,” Hyunjin cheered, stretching his aching limbs from hours of sitting in the same spot.
“Yeah. Thanks, I guess it wasn't so bad after all, uh, you know working with you-”
“Did you really think I would be so bad, Y/N? I'm hurt,” he fake cried, wiping off the nonexistent tear.
Walking out of the building, you noticed the weather to be slightly chillier than before. You shivered, pulling your jacket closer to your freezing body, walking in the direction of your place.
“Wait, Y/N,” Hyunjin called for you, catching up with your escaping form. Unwrapping his massive blanket-like fluffy scarf. He stretched it out in his hands, stepping closer to you and wrapping it around your neck.
“What the h-”
“Shh. It's fine. You're shivering, Y/N,” he whispered.
Your cheeks heated in embarrassment, his low voice near your ear making a shiver run down your spine. You weren't blind. Hyunjin was attractive. Everyone knew that. But for the first time, it felt like you got a taste of his charm, first hand.
“T-Thank you,” you murmured, sighing at the heat that enveloped you. You could smell the fabric softener, as well a faint trace of his cologne.
“Where do you live?” he asked all of a sudden, whipping out his phone to check the time.
“A few blocks from here, why?”
“Cause I'm walking you home, dumbass,” he chuckled.
“No. It's fine, really. It's just ten minutes away-”
“Exactly. So it won't even take that long. It's late and I insist.”
He stuck to his word, walking with you through the thick of the night, making sure you'd arrive home safe. How sweet of him. You made some small talk until he surprised you with an unexpected question.
“Wait, so do you hate love or not?”
Huh?
“What do you m-”
“You know, how you always glare at couples, what you said during the assignment-”
“I mean,” you whispered, snuggling closer to the scarf wrapped around you, “I don't hate it, in fact, I'm a bit jealous of those who go on dates as early as in January. It's just that I find it pointless- if I'm gonna forget them so soon, why even bother.”
“Hmm,” Hyunjin hummed in acknowledgment. You could practically see the gears in his head spinning.
“What would your ideal first date look like?”
Wut?
“Come on. Just answer the question,” he whined prompting you to chuckle lightly.
“I don't know. I always wanted to have a picnic. And also go go-karting, I think that it will feel a lot different from going with a friend, you know?”
“Oooh, that's some good ideas,” he laughed.
The rest of the journey was in silence, neither of you striking up another conversation. But it was a pleasant one, as the sky dusted you with a coat of powdery snow.
“Oh. We're here,” you pointed to the building. “Thanks for walking me. Do you want to come inside for a second and get something warm to drink?”
“Ah, thanks for the offer but I really have to go now. Good night,” he waved before running off. Not giving you enough time to return him his scarf.
“Damnit, what an idiot,” you cursed, unwrapping the fuzzy fabric from around your neck, catching another whiff of the scent with a sigh.
“At least the idiot smells nice.”
“Continue smiling by my side just like this moment Longer than tomorrow, farther than eternity My love”
Y/N | jinnieee, you left your scarf with me, you doofus
Prince Jinnie |  it's fine, it looked better on you anyway. You can keep it if you want ;)
Y/N | -__-
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The end of March was right around the corner, you and Hyunjin have presented your paper today. The teacher seemed very pleased with your work, claiming it to be the best this year. She loved all the small points you made and gifted you with a big round of applause and an A+.
“Wow. You were right. She loved it,” Hyunjin laughed, slamming his locker shut.
“You should already know that I am always right,” you responded cheekily, throwing your hair over your shoulder.
“Let's go celebrate!” he suggested, “we can get some hot chocolate or something. You know- to relax-”
“Sure, I'd love to.”
The two of you ended up having coffee in a small cafe near the school. Sipping the hot beverage from the paper cup, you softly smiled, remembering the events that lead up to today. Who would have thought that the two of you would become friends?
The attractive boy that bothered you in the cafeteria two months ago and forced you to pair up with him for a school project. But over time, you realized Hyunjin wasn't all that bad. You actually enjoyed his company more than you'd ever admit to him.
“I should go,” you declared after a while. Squeezing the paper cup and tossing it into the garbage, LeBron style.
“Why?”
You chuckled at his pouty face, sticking your hand into your pocket to take out your phone. Sifting through the notes app, you scanned your homework for the day.
“Sorry man. I have a lot of homework for my chemistry class and I don't understand it whatsoever,” you chuckled bleakly, returning the phone back to its spot inside your coat.
Ochem was a subject sent straight from hell but weren't planning on giving up just yet. You would sit at your table until four in the morning if it was necessary and complete that damned assignment.
“Hey, so...I'm not so great in chemistry either, but we could maybe try together- you know what they sa-”
“-Two heads better than one,” you finished the sentence, a grin starting to appear on your face.
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By mid-April, you start considering the obnoxious Hwang Hyunjin a friend of yours. And not even that, pretty much your best friend. Well, it's not like you had many friends, to begin with, but that's beside the point. You and Hyunjin just clicked.
You started to grow fond of his dramatic nature, it always made you laugh after all, and nothing was boring anymore when you're with him.
He was a great friend. Yeah. That's it. So you were pleasantly surprised when he asked you to come to the fair with him.
“Come on, Y/N. It'll be great, I promise. I'll even pay for everything- you can go on any ride you want. Just please come with me,” he begs, pulling on your arm the entire way.
“But why me? Surely you have other friends that would gladly accompany the Hwang Hyunjin.”
“See. That's the problem. I want someone to come with Jinnie, and not because they want to tick off ‘went somewhere with prince Hwang’ off their bucket list,” he said as a matter of factly.
And you understood. Hyunjin had always many people that surrounded him, but most of them weren't exactly genuine or honest. He probably must have felt lonely the entire time and decided to beg you, his only “true” friend willing to come. Well, there was Minho...but he preferred to spend time with his cats so you were his only option.
“Okay. But I get to choose-”
“Yay! He cheered, jumping around before turning to face you and wrapping you in a big hug. “Thanks, N/N. You're the best.”
And you couldn't prevent the smile from creeping onto your face.
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At the beginning of May, the weather warms enough for you to ditch your puffy jacket, instead opting for a lighter one. You check yourself in the mirror one last time before your phone dings. It's Hyunjin.
Prince Jinnie | be there in 5
Shit. You wrestled your hair into a ponytail, threw on your sneakers, and headed for the door. Before leaving, you thankfully remembered that you forgot something important. Running back inside, you grabbed your wallet and chucked it into your pocket with your phone.
Sprinting down the stairs and opening the door, you were met with a positively handsome Hyunjin who was about to reach for the door before you slammed it open.
“Hey,” you smiled, slightly out of breath due to the extensive running you were subjected to a mere second ago.
“Hey.”
He grinned, motioning for you to follow him as he walked down the street, opposite from the direction of your school.
“We'll be walking there instead of taking the bus. It's only a fifteen-minute walk so I thought it would be nice to get some fresh air. Of course, if you want to t-”
“No. It's fine. The weather's nice,” you cut him off, smiling widely.
“Okay.”
Your journey to the fair was pleasantly quiet, but you couldn't deny that awkwardness hung in the air like a raincloud. You weren't sure if it was because this whole little escapade seemed almost like a date, or not, but you were sure Hyunjin didn't view it as such. So you had to stop thinking about it like that.
When you finally reached the gate, you couldn't hold in the gasp. It was beautiful. The whole place was hung with multiple fairy lights that will definitely look amazing once it'll get dark. There were many decorations all over the place and you could see the giant Ferris wheel peeking from the top of the gate. Hyunjin grabbed your hand, dragging you to the ticket booth before a line would form.
You squeaked, but followed him nonetheless, excitement bubbling in your veins.
“Hello. Two tickets please,” he smiled at the old lady behind the register.
“Will you be paying separately or together?”
“Separately-”
“Together-”
Both you and Hyunjin looked at each other for a few seconds before arguing over who will pay.
“Y/N, I promised that I'll pay-”
“But that's nonsense, I want to pay for my own ticket,” you pressed, pulling out your wallet.
“Can you please decide? You're holding up the line,” the woman said in a monotonous voice, almost as if she'd dealt with these kinds of fights every day.
“Oh, o-okay,” you squeaked, letting Hyunjin hand her the crisp banknote.
“I'll give it back to you,” you whispered as both of you quickly ran inside, fleeing from the judging gazes of the people behind you.
“No, you will not. I promised that I'll pay-”
But you weren't listening anymore, running off to the cotton candy stand instead. It was an old, ice cream cart-like place, creamy white with pastel blue streamers hung on the roof
“One large blue one, please,” you chirped to the young man behind the counter. He mirrored your smile, picking up one of the sticks to coat in the sugary sweetness, and running a hand through his locks.
“Here you go, miss,” he winked, handing you the cotton candy as you placed the money on the counter.
“Oh no, it's on me-”
“Here. I'm the one paying,” Hyunjin appeared from behind you, towering over your form, and replacing your money with his, glaring at the boy.
“Um, oh...okay…”
Your brows furrowed in confusion, not understanding why Hyunjin was acting like that. He tried to play it off cool, walking away and hoping you'd follow without any questions, but that's not what happened.
“Hyunjin,” you said warningly, making the boy turn around with a wince.
“What was that?”
“What?” he feigned innocence, flashing you an awkward, almost forced smile.
You didn't want to make things weird between you so you decided to drop it. Surely you were just looking into this too much. It wasn't that deep. Tugging on his sleeve, you pulled him to the haunted house, munching on your sweet treat.
Only when you were in line, you remembered you hadn't given him any.
“Here,” you tore off a chunk of the cotton candy, placing it in front of his plump lips.
He looked at you in confusion, eyes widening as he took a step back.
“Eat up, dumbo,” you grinned.
“A-Are you sure? You don't have to-”
“Just eat it,” you whined, prompting him to laugh at your childish antics.
“If you want it so bad,” he smiled cheekily, opening his mouth and eating the cotton candy.
“Eww. Gross, you almost licked my fingers,” you began to furiously wipe your hand onto your jeans as Hyunjin chuckled, smiling at the display.
You stood in line, about twenty people in front of you with Hyunjin cackling next to you.
“Soo… are you sure you want to go?” he asked, pointing in the direction of the attraction. 
“Why? Getting cold feet already?” your eyebrow cocked in amusement.
“How do I say this...I'm kindofscaredofghosts,” he mumbled, head hung low in embarrassment.
“You what?” 
“I- I just don't like ghosts, okay,” he pouted.
“Hyunjin,” grabbing his hand to get him to look at you, you flashed him an honest smile, “we don't have to go if you don't want to. Today's supposed to be fun for the both of us, remember?”
“No, it's not that. I don't mind haunted houses. Just warning you that I might scream a bit,” he bit his bottom lip in a pout, sticking his hand into his pockets.
“Well...that just makes two of us, right?” you grinned, eyes twinkling with mischief.
“You bet.”
***
“Aaaaa,” you shrilled, latching yourself onto the nearest thing which happened to be Hyunjin's arm. Although your fingers started to mindlessly roam at the feeling of firm muscle underneath his hoodie. Was he working out?
He reciprocated the gesture, wrapping his hand around you and slightly ducking back. You peered at him confused, until you realized the reasoning for his behavior.
“Hey, you coward. I can see that,” you laughed, trying to push him in front of you so you could hide behind him.
“I know,” he whined, “but I'm scared. Quick, let's find the exit.”
You nodded furiously, pace quickening as you guys walked through the various halls of the house. At one point, a fake spider fell from the ceiling, right in front of Hyunjin making him let out a bloodcurdling scream.
Almost falling over in the process, you burst out laughing at his dramatic actions. You spent the following seconds teasing the boy for his outburst, occasionally patting him on the back reassuringly. That was however, before the creepy music started to play. The moment the tune started echoing through the place, you almost jumped into Hyunjin's arms, closing your eyes in fear as you stiffened.
Hyunjin wasn't sure if he should laugh or be worried. Albeit extremely frightened, you looked undeniably cute in his hold with your eyes shut and nose scrunched up. Fingers gripping onto your form, he started to jog to where the supposed exit was, whispering nothings into your ear and promising to get you out soon.
After about two minutes, you finally opened your eyes, squinting at the studio light hanging from the ceiling. Realizing what was going on, you felt the embarrassment hit you like a wave. Squeezing Hyunjin's arm, you whispered, “sorry. You can put me down now.”
“Nope,” he offered you a cheesy smile, ducking away from a ghost that fell from the ceiling, yet another trap set up by the haunted house. “We're almost out.”
“No, Hyunjin. I'm fine. You don't have to carry me,” you protested, getting more and more impatient by the minute. It was already enough that he carried you like that inside, what if someone recognized you being carried out of the haunted house by Hwang Hyunjin? That would be a disaster. Rumours would spread and you could wave goodbye to your peaceful life.
Too late.
Hyunjin, with you still in his arms, ran out the exit, placing you softly on your feet. Panting for a few seconds, he looked up, flashing you a smile.
You felt shivers run down your spine, as well as your cheeks heating up. “I told you not to carry me, stupid,” was all you could force yourself to say.
He laughed throatily before motioning you to follow him. Walking past the Ferris wheel, roller coaster, and cars, you wondered where he would take you. Your question was answered, when he abruptly stopped in front of the water gun booth.
“Hyunjin, what are you doing?” you asked perplexed. He simply ignored you, instead reaching into his pocket to pull out some cash. 
“Three shots, please,” he handed the money to the man behind the counter.
The guy accepted it, pulling out a loaded water gun and handing it to him. “You've got three attempts, kid. If you hit the cup all the way in the back, you can choose a special prize.”
With a newfound determination, he took the gun, getting into the proper stance and aiming at the grand prize. The last cup.
Firing once, the water stream barely missed the cup, only an inch or so off. Your mouth opened in awe, not expecting him to get so close. With a glint in his eye, he got back into position, aiming for the cup once again. You couldn't help but hold a breath in anticipation, suddenly all invested in the game. This time, he was spot on, knocking the cup off with a thud.
“Woah. Good job, Hyunjin,” you clapped excitedly, patting him on the back. He held the gun once again, this time aiming at one of the closer cups. With an enthusiastic cheer, he hit the cup again.
“Not bad, kid,” the man suddenly spoke up, smiling widely. Pointing at the shelves full of prizes, he motioned for him to choose.
“You win two things, one grand prize from the top shelf and one thing from any other shelf.”
“Which one do you think is the cutest?” Hyunjin leaned down to your level, curiously scanning all the plushies.
You pondered for a while, before your eyes caught sight of a light brown bear. That was the one.
“The brown one over there,” you pointed to the massive brown teddy. 
“Okay, we'll take the brown bear over there,” he pointed to the one you just chose, “and the smaller version of the exact same one.”
The man handed him both bears before bidding you goodbye. Hyunjin grunted at how the bears weighed him down, which you laughed at since they were plushies after all. He pouted, before grabbing the bigger one and pushing it into your hands.
“What the hell?” you questioned, a chuckle spilling out of your lips as you hugged the toy so it wouldn't fall.
“It's for you,” Hyunjin answered without a beat. “Like I'm gonna believe that,” you mumbled, “you just don't want to carry it.”
“Wait? What? - Y/N, no. I mean- it's for you, really. I knew I was going to give it to you if I won anything,” he pouted, adding puppy eyes as if trying to implore you to believe him.
The skeptical look stayed on your face but you accepted the gift nonetheless, snuggling into the soft brown fur. Although you didn't want to admit it, the teddy bear seemed great and you were actually quite pleased. But you had to beat that thought out of your head.
Hyunjin invited you because he didn't want to deal with swooning fangirls, so why were you now blushing simply because he won you a teddy bear at the fair?
Your pondering was cut short, as Hyunjin dragged to another stand. This time, it was the churro one.
“You want some?” he asked, eyes already scanning the menu, hoping his stomach wouldn't grumble out of nowhere. There were a lot of options, way too many in his opinion. Hyunjin has always been an indecisive person so choosing something, whether it was big or small, was always an absolute nightmare for him.
He decided to roll with the classic, medium churros coated in sugar and some hot chocolate. Only then did he realize that you still didn't answer, nervously looking around.
“Is everything alright?” he asked, worried at your quietness. “Yeah, it's just that I've never had churros-”
“You've never had churros?”
Well. Shit. Who would have thought this was such a big deal. Apparently it was for Hyunjin. He stared at you for what felt like hours before finally gracing you with an answer after you vehemently shook your head.
“Prepare then, Y/N, to be amazed,” he grinned wickedly, going up to the cashier and ordering two portions of the delicious treat along with two cups of hot chocolate.
After paying, which you still fought over but Hyunjin managed to convince you to let him pay, again, you stood near the booth and waited for your orders.
Once the lady called, he grabbed the treats, handing you your share, demonstrating how you should eat it.
“Look, it's best if you dip the churro into the chocolate like this,” he soaked it in the hot beverage, “and then enjoy.”
He let out an obnoxious moan as he downed the churro like it was his last meal, licking off the chocolate residue from his fingers. You watched him doubtfully, before dipping your own churro and finally taking a bite.
Needles to say, you were pleasantly surprised. “This is delicious,” your eyes widened. It was the perfect mix of sweet, gooey and crispy. The textures mixed in your mouth as the churro pretty much melted in your cavern.
After finishing the light snack, Hyunjin excused himself to go to the bathroom. It was already past seven, the sun no longer out as you waited for him in the darkness near the bathrooms.
You nervously fiddled with the stuffed bear as a shiver ran down your spine. The chilly wind fluttering in the air and reaching under your jacket. Damn it. You should have brought your parka. In the distance, you could spot a few people hanging around the other end of the bathrooms. They seemed like trouble.
Looking around, to your absolute dread, you noticed that there were barely any people. Even the loud rustle of the carnival has dulled into a pleasant buzz. Almost as if it was mere background music for a horror movie. The stalls were situated behind the fair, a little off from where the crowds were gathered. While you were so focused on the fair in the distance, you didn't notice three figures slowly approaching you.
When you turned around, you were met with a slightly distressed Hyunjin, who placed his hand on your back, ushering you back to the fair.
“Let's go, N/N,” he exclaimed a little too loudly, quickening his pace. You had to slightly jog, to even keep up with him. He briskly walked you back to the main square and only then did he let go, sighing in relief.
“Sorry for that, Y/N. They just seemed like trouble, so I figured we'd return as soon as possible.”
“Yeah, thanks. I got a bit worried before you arrived,” you gripped onto the teddy bear that was still in your arms. Hyunjin has already taken his.
“Where do you want to go? It's getting late but I think we can try out one more thing before we head back.”
“Let's go on the Ferris wheel,” you pointed in the direction of the attraction, jumping up with excitement like a child. Hyunjin almost cooed at your expression, choosing to quietly laugh to himself to not annoy you. You getting all pouty was very cute, but you were also a little scary when you got angry and he didn't want to be on the receiving end of your wrath.
“Okay, let's go.”
“At this beautiful place All the memories where I loved you Will become a neverending story It'll shine”
You stood in line, about ten or so people in front of you as you clutched the bear in your arms. Not wanting to admit it, you didn't say anything, but you were starting to get cold feet. The Ferris wheel looked way bigger up close and with no doubt, it would be the tallest one you've ever been on. But you would be damned if you had to back out now.
Hyunjin bought the tickets, not noticing the lack of objection from your side. It was primarily due to the fact that there was a knot forming in you at the prospect of being so high up in the air. Hyunjin grabbed your hand, pulling you onto the platform from which you'd get into the capsule. Once comfortably seated inside, you anxiously look around, anticipating the Ferris wheel to roar to life.
And it did, the movement gradual and slow at first, until you reached the top, and that's when you finally dared to open your eyes. You look around in awe, the flickering lights momentarily blinding your sight. From here, you could see almost the whole city, moving cars seeming like ants from how high up you were. Hyunjin is sitting in front of you, face giddily pressed to the glass as his camera shutters, capturing the night view in all its glory.
Turning to you, he smiles widely, putting his phone away. “Thanks for suggesting this, the view is amazing.”
“Yeah,” your breath hitches in your throat, “it is.”
You try your best to bury the thoughts that are running wild in your brain, your imagination getting slightly out of hand. Now, has Hyunjin always been this pretty? Did he always glow like the Sun? Because it definitely seemed like it right now.
The moonlight reflecting off his face, casting a mellow shadow down his body. He looked ethereal. 
Your heart fluttered when Hyunjin offered you his hand as you two were getting off, his soft palm gently enveloping yours. It almost hurt when he let go.
“It's getting pretty late, we should probably go,” he murmured, taking in the darkness of the night. “Thanks for coming, it's been ages since I was out with a friend.”
Friend.
Yes. This was a much needed reminder that what you just had was not a date but just friends hanging out. You wanted to beat yourself up for allowing yourself to hope it was anything else.
Hyunjin walked you home, insisting that it was dark and it wasn't safe for you to travel alone. He watched you step into your house, and only then did he allow himself to leave, various thoughts plaguing his mind.
Like for example, were you always this pretty? Since when did seeing you smile so much give him such a serotonin boost?
The unlikely friendship that blossomed between you during the past few months was something wonderful yet painful. He knew you were skeptical when it came to relationships. And rightfully so. It was like the odds were stacked against you since the beginning, making it near impossible for romance to bloom.
But was he gonna give up? Would it mean that he would stop trying? Stop searching for a way to be happy, stop trying to satisfy the natural hunger for affection? 
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May slowly bled into June and Hyunjin was busy with dance practice. The final show, which would be held in September, was only three months away, and with the amount of performances he had to learn, he spent all the time he could in the dance studio along with his friends.
“Damn. I wish I had a girlfriend that would bring me food,” Minho, the captain of the dance club, sighed at the sight of yet another member being brought a bento by their significant other. Hyunjin merely chuckled, packing his bag as he dreamt of returning home and finally slinging his tired body into the sheets.
“Wait, don't you have a girlfriend now?” Felix asked. “Right, that girl you always ditch us for,” Minho pointed out, tying his shoelace with a groan. The exhaustion apparently caught up to him too, the self proclaimed Dancing gem, as he almost toppled over.
“You okay? Careful-” Felix caught him just in time, helping him steady himself. It was past three am and they've been at it since five o'clock. Any sane person would say that it's crazy, but this was quite the normal occurrence for the dance club. The performance had to be flawless, so every second spent here, would eventually add up to the quality of the show.
“She's not my girlfriend. We're just friends,” Hyunjin replied, his heart clenching slightly. 
“Just friends my ass. Jisung saw you two together at the fair,” Minho smirked, making Felix audibly gasp, placing his hand on his heart.
“Minho,” Hyunjin sighed. His friends could sometimes be slightly overbearing. “We were at the fair, no big deal. Friends go to places together all the time. But it's not like you'd know-”
Minho ignored the insult, wanting to drive his point across. “But ‘only friends’ don't give each other big ass teddy bears.”
Hyunjin felt his cheeks redden in embarrassment at the mention of the bear. If only they knew he had the exact same one like you, only smaller, and that he resided on his bed. He was about to ask Minho, how did he know about the plushie but the boy beat him to it. “Jisung said you were all cutesy, waiting in line for the Ferris wheel with a giant bear. If that's not the cheesiest shit, I don't know what is-”
But Hyunjin was already walking out the practice room, the only thing on his mind being his bed and you.
Was this how it felt to be in love? Because if it was, it was both a blessing and a curse. Although undeniably lovely, harbouring such strong feelings for someone also caused pain. The realization that this romance would likely not bloom was devastating. You made it quite clear that you wanted nothing to do with these types of things.
***
A few weeks have passed since your trip to the fair. You haven't properly spoken to Hyunjin since, only exchanging quiet greetings in the hall. You weren't sure if it was just you, but the air around you changed. You were no longer joking around like before, awkward tension enveloping you every time you spoke.
In itself, it may be even a good thing. If you see him less, maybe your feelings for him will wither away like dust. Or maybe not.
Finals were around the corner, making you spend most of your free time huddled in the library, drowned in books as you tried your best to prepare for all the subjects. It was dreadful, really, but you couldn't help it.
It was past eight when you decided that enough was enough. You loved sleeping way too much to sacrifice more of your time. When you were walking out the library, a slight skip to your step at the mere thought of snuggling up with a blanket and munching down a whole tube of ice cream.
While walking down the hall, you heard faint whispers from behind the corner. Ever the detective, you stealthily creeped closer to the source of noise, holding your breath in as to not alert anyone of your presence.
“She's such a bitch. Thinking she can just hang around Hyunjin, just like that,” a girl's voice harshly whispered with malice.
“Yeah, she just comes out of nowhere and hangs around him. I heard she forced Jinnie to go to the fair with her.”
Your ass did you force him. He literally begged you to come- . Besides the point, moving on; you silenced your thoughts, instead focusing on how to get the hell out of here. Slowly walking away, you made sure to keep your steps light as you distanced yourself from the mysterious girls.
To say you were completely surprised would be a blatant lie. Hyunjin was a source of drama and entertainmentment to many people at the school, and you knew rumors about him spread like wildfire. However, that didn't mean you were thrilled with what you heard.
These people should seriously get a life. There was no telling of what would happen the next day in school. Hopefully, the rumor wouldn't gain too much attention.
***
You gave the people too much credit. While knowing that there wasn't any hope for brainless Hyunjin fanatics to keep it low, you never expected that they would manage to spread the claims all over the school. By the time you were walking to class, yours and Hyunjin's relationship had become the hottest topic to discuss. You even caught a few teachers joining in on the speculation while you were in the bathroom. 
The faces they made when you walked out of the stall were nothing short of priceless and you later wished that you had captured them digitally.
Entering your social studies class, you were met with a guilty looking Hyunjin who grabbed his bag and stomped after you the minute you walked through the door.
“Y/N, Y/N. Wait, please. I'll explain,” he tried to plead, taking a seat right next to you. You scoffed, not even bothering to look at him, instead pulling out your workbook and pencil case, preparing for class.
“Y/N. Please-” you could hear the panic in his voice. “I'm sorry about what everybody's saying. Talk to me, please-”
With a heavy turn to him, you shrug, an emotionless expression plastered over your face. “You don't need to apologize, Hyunjin. You did nothing wrong. It was just a wake-up call for me.”
“Wake up call for what?” he questioned with a hint of fear.
“That this-” you motioned to the two of you. “-That whatever it is between us, probably wouldn't work.”
“W-What are you t-talking about? Why wouldn't it work? We were doing just fine- please, Y/N. You mean a lot to me, a-and I can't afford t-to lose you.”
You looked over to him, pity written all over your face as you let out a soft sigh. “Hyunjin,” you slowly spoke as to not agitate him, “I'm sorry, b-but this just isn't it. You- you were never supposed to even be friends with someone like me in the first place. It's better we keep this friendship short and sweet, yeah?”
He looked at you with tears forming at the corner of his eyes before furiously wiping them off with his sleeve. Picking up all his things, he slung his backpack over his shoulder and headed towards the door.
“You were right,” the look in his eyes hardened, “we shouldn't have been friends in the first place.”
With that, he stomped off, slamming the door, and leaving you alone in the classroom along with all of your nosy classmates. They were all furiously whispering to each other, no doubt discussing the event that just occurred, not even bothering to keep it down.
“Do you want some fucking popcorn on the side?!” you spat, shooting them a nasty glare.
“At night when I couldn't sleep because of my worries I looked at you and made a promise to the sky Even if my dreams are so far away I promise that I won't let go of both hands Even if you lose your way for a moment or get lonely Listen to my voice with a small breath If you call me, no matter where you are I'll go and find you”
Finally. Finals were over. That meant a few things; the end of the semester, two months of holidays, lots of ice cream, swimming, and lots more. On the sadder note, you had to go visit your family.
Which would prove to be very awkward, since you didn't remember almost anything about them. Other than the fact that they were your family, and that you had to go see them, and make new memories of course.
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Packing up your bags, you decided on bringing only the absolute necessities, chucking out the previously packed jacket that you definitely wouldn't need in the scorching summer weather of July.
Your train was set to depart in a few hours off the main terminal. Grabbing the suitcase and double checking that you have everything you need, you finally headed towards the door. With your phone and wallet in your pocket and the tickets and keys in your hand, you were ready to depart.
Just as you were about to slam the door shut, you spotted the big fuzzy scarf hund on one of the hooks in the hall. Hyunjin's scarf, you bitterly thought. Slamming the door shut, you tried to rid your mind of the sweet boy you used to be friends with.
Well. It was a hard pill to swallow, not having someone to talk to and laugh with, but you'll get used to it.
Yet when you were sitting on the training, you were still thinking about him.
***
“I'm home,” you yelled, banging on the door to alert your family. You waited for a few seconds before the door finally burst open, a female figure in the doorway with a big grin. 
“Welcome home, daughter,” she whispered, pulling you into an awkward hug as you nervously pat her back.
“Yeah...hi.”
“Is Y/N here?” another shrill voice called. “We don't remember each other, but apparently I'm your cousin, Jia,” she swiftly introduced herself.
“Come in,” your mother dragged you inside. “Honey! Come look at your precious child.”
***
You felt absolutely suffocated, sitting between your mother and Jia at the dinner table. Everybody seemed so close already, joking around and sharing stories as if they actually knew each other for years. Which they did, except it didn't count since the memories were wiped out every year.
“I'm so glad you could make it for the summer. I got so worried when you said you wouldn't come for spring break. I knew I had to see my babygirl for at least a month,” you mother patted you on the back as she served the casserole to the rest of the family.
“Could you please pass me the mashed potatoes,” you asked, wiping your lips off with a napkin.
“Sure thing,” your cousin beamed, plastering a fake smile. She handed you the untouched pot but then leaned down to your ear and whispered. “If I were you, I'd be mindful of what I'm eating.”
Your eyes widened in surprise, not processing what she said. You looked up, just to make sure you were hearing correct and the girl just flashed you a smirk.
This was going to be fun.
***
You were sitting in your room, after promptly excusing yourself to leave when you finished eating. The bitter aftertaste of the comment from your cousin still on your mind. What the hell did she mean?
You found out what she meant soon enough. In the evening, you were tossing and turning in bed for what felt like hours. Your stomach was on fire and you felt sweat drip down your forehead. You had no clue what it was, but you were positive that she had something to do with it. Finally, you fell asleep. 
You woke up to the loud rustles and stomps of your family members. “Wake up darling,” your mother shook your tired body. “We're going on a trip.”
Standing up with a groan, you muttered profanities under your breath before turning to your mother. “Where are we even going?”
“Ohh, lots of places. We're leaving for the city today, but after that, we're going to the beach so pack your swimsuit.”
***
Sitting in one of the vans at the back, cramped between Jia and three duffel bags was definitely not your ideal way of spending your summer vacation. The girl wouldn't shut up, talking about all the guys she's dated in the past six months, bragging about all the flowers and expensive gifts she got.
“So I was thinking Y/N-”
“Must have been a real workout for your brain, huh” you spat but she ignored you.
“-did you go on any dates? Oh right, I forgot,” she giggled, “no one would date a loser like you.”
“As if anyone likes you cause of your peanut brain,” you murmured, eyes slowly closing, ready to escape this torture. At this point, you were sure you'd have preferred to sit in the other car, where your baby cousin was most definitely screaming his head off. Anything but talking to this bitch.
When you finally arrived, you very gracefully stormed out of the car to get your key to the hotel room. Sadly, your mother forgot to share with you, that you'd be sharing the room with Jia. As if this trip could get any worse.
“Let me in, Y/N,” a scream could be heard from behind the door. With a groan (as well as a curse to however was above) you stomped to the door, pulling the handle and coming face to face with the girl.
“Thanks,” she grinned, no doubt enjoying every second of your torment. Since you were all tired from the long drive, your mother came to inform you that you'd be staying at the hotel for today.
Now that was some shitty news. You'd rather walk yourself to death in the city, going to all the boring museums, any day, over spending time in the same room like your cousin.
She started unpacking all her stuff. Crowding the only table in the room with her toiletry bag and hair curler. I mean, who brings a hair curler with them on vacation?
After you pointed out that you'd need the table, she reluctantly agreed to drag all the stuff over to the bathroom. While she was in there, no doubt reorganising her whole collection of makeup that would no doubt satisfy a whole sorority house, you started unpacking your own stuff. Laying all the things on the table, you slowly started arranging them in place, keeping them as far away from Jia as remotely possible, given there were only two beds with a nightside table each, a shared closet and a small table.
When Jia finally reemerged, her eyes fixated on your bed. She let out a snort while pointing in the same direction, “what the hell's that? Can't sleep without a toy, Y/N?”
You gritted your teeth, not wanting to give her the satisfaction of seeing you explode. “Yes. I need a teddy and a blankie to have sweet dreams,” you deadpanned.
She kept snickering in the background, letting out questionable insults while you tried your best to drown out the sound of her voice.
But it was impossible. “I’m going to get some fresh air,” you muttered, slamming the door shut.
Just as you were about to head to the elevator, a hand on your shoulder stopped you. Many thoughts were running through your mind, like: is it a murderer? Will you get killed? Thankfully, it seemed like that person had no intentions of killing you.
“Y/N?” the familiar looking boy called as he examined your face.
“Erm, do we know each other?” he seemed vaguely familiar, but you could not for the love of God remember where you knew him from, nor what his name was.
“Uh, well, not exactly,” you peered at him confused, “I’m a friend of Hyunjin.”
Well. That would explain the familiarity, but what could he want with you? Upon seeing your frown, the boy got to explaining.
“Minho. My name's Minho. I'm the captain of the dance club,” he smiled, extending his hand towards you. You peered at him confusedly, before shaking his hand and breaking the silence. “So...what does you being the captain of the dance club have to do with me again?”
He stared at you, mouth opening and closing, as if he wanted to say something but couldn't get the words out. “Well, I mean… I thought you knew. Hyunjin's on the dance team,” he trailed off sheepishly, rubbing the back of his neck.
“Oh,” your mouth opened and eyes widened in understanding. How come he never told you? You suddenly felt sick to the stomach, all this time, you thought you knew Hyunjin so well, but it seems like it wasn't the case. Maybe you should have payed more attention to him, asked more questions.
“Sooo, um, are you on vacation too?” you asked, wincing at the awkwardness of your tone. Luckily, Minho ignored it, merely chuckling in response. “Something like that. Parents decided that it would be only fit for us to go all out in making new memories.”
“Yeah, same here. And now I'm stuck with my awful cousin that I don't even remember. Talk about family,” you muttered, sticking your hand in your pocket.
“It seems like we're both on the same boat.”
“I guess so…” your mind wandered to Jia back in your shared room. Under no circumstances did you want to go back. Your brows must have furrowed enough to speak for your situation.
“Having family issues? Wanna dip and chat?” he offered, glancing in the direction of the elevator. You took less than a second to respond. “Yeah.”
***
Minho was certainly pleasant to talk to, a natural charmer that knew how to keep the conversation going and occasionally throw in some sarcastic jokes. You could see how they were friends, he felt like someone who could keep up with Hyunjin's popularity, someone way more fitted to hang out with him than the measly you. 
He abruptly stood up with a napkin, going to the counter to retrieve your drinks. Placing the iced coffee in front of you, he sipped his milkshake.
After gulping down about half the glass, he placed it on the table, running a hand through his hair and placing his forearms on the table. His eyes bored into you, making your palms sweat as you tried to act all nonchalant.
“Y/N,” was all he said, eyes still trained on you as you slowly placed your iced coffee on the side.
“Y-Yeah?” was all you could muster, cringing at the sound of your own voice.
“I think you know what I want to discuss.”
Yeah. You knew. But no way in hell were you going to get all sad again because of Hyunjin. Nope, you were over that. 
“If that's all  you wanted to talk about Minho,” you grabbed all your things, jumping to your feet, “then I'll gladly take my leave-”
“-Please,” he grabbed your hand again. “I just want to know what happened. If not for me, at least do it for Hyunjin.”
You felt pathetic for being swayed by the mere mention of him. You felt tears prick the corners of your eyes as you slowly sat back down, wiping your eyes on your sleeve.
Minho sat there quietly, trying to give you some space. He stretched his hand across the table, placing it softly on yours as he rubbed comforting circles on your palm. After you calmed down, you looked up, signaling him to speak.
“Well. Everyone knows what happened that day...when you fought. So I just wanted to ask you. Why? Why let him leave like that? Did he really mean noth-”
“Minho!” the boy promptly looked you in the eyes. “Hyunjin meant the world to me, trust me on that. In fact, he was my only friend, and maybe more…” you softly whispered the last part, not intending for Minho to hear it. But he did.
“So if he meant all that much to you, why did you guys fight?”
“Well, apparently the sentiment wasn't reciprocated,” you murmured.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that he told everyone about how we went to the fair! A-And everyone was talking about it in school, gossiping, saying how I was such a bitch for hanging out with him. Suddenly, all these people who didn't even know me were talking about me in such a way-” you let out a sob, finally, your emotions pouring out. Your walls have finally shattered.
“Y/N,” Minho whispered, shocked at your outburst. He came over to your side of the table, pulling you into his arms. He kept you there, your head pressed against his chest as he patted your back until you finally calmed down.
“Sorry,” you murmured, pulling away from the boy. “It's fine. Don't apologize.”
“I- I'm sorry that you had to go through this alone. I just want to tell you that Hyunjin hadn't told anyone anything.”
Your brow cocked in confusion.
“I mean that whoever spread those rumors wasn't him. Jisung, another friend of ours saw you guys and told me and Felix. We teased Hyunjin about it during dance practice, I guess someone must have heard us and said those nasty lies. Most guys at the school hate him, so I wouldn't put it past a jealous dickhead to do something like that.”
Oh. So this was all one big misunderstanding. You screamed at him for nothing. You lost a friend for nothing. It was a bitter feeling, knowing you screwed up the only good thing you had going this year.
“Well...that would explain a lot. But that doesn't mean me and Hyunjin can automatically make up. I mean, he probably doesn't even want to be friends anymore-”
“Bullshit!”
Huh? You looked at him doubtfully. He placed his palm under his chin, forearm resting on the table as he explained.
“Hyunjin likes you a lot. He was an absolute mess after the fight, he literally likes you more than me, Felix, and Jisung combined. I'm sure he'll understand once you two talk it out.”
“You're sure?”
Although it was undeniably nice to hear that from him, how could you know that he'd be willing to be friends with you again?
“I'm positive,” he reassured.
***
Walking back to the hotel, your mind was racing with many thoughts, ranging from: how will you make up with Hyunjin to will you even be able to get inside your room. Luckily, entering your hotel room proved to be very easy. It only took one soft knock from Jia to slam the door open, hair curlers still in her hair.
“What the fuck Y/N? Where were y-” she shut up immediately, upon seeing Minho next to you. You grimaced at how her tone changed into a sugary sweet one, attempting to sweet talk the boy.
“Hey there, handsome. What's your name?” 
Minho merely chuckled, choosing to ignore her obvious flirtation, instead smiling at you and wishing you a good night, before entering his own room which was right in front of yours with a wave over his shoulder.
You were left standing opposite to a clearly shocked Jia. Her mouth opened and closed a few times, clearly at loss of words.
You scowled at her, pushing past her with a snarky “You'll catch flies.”
She groaned, stomping her feet until she reached your bed, which you were currently sprawled across, and grumbled.
“Spill it, Y/N. How did you get the goddamn reincarnated Aphrodite to talk to you, huh? Did you offer him money or something?”
Choosing to ignore her rude questions, you grabbed your toiletries bag and headed towards the bathroom.
“Don't ignore me! You know there's no way he likes someone like you,” she seethed.
For a fleeting second, you freeze, head slowly turning around to face her.
“Probably not. But I don't think that insufferable narcissists are his type either.”
Slam.
***
Awaking to the light breaching the curtains and ripping you out of the arms of slumber was not exactly ideal. Rubbing your eyes in annoyance, you threw your feet over the edge of the bed and finally found it within you to get up, despite the want to sleep for just five more minutes.
Jia was still peacefully snoring, you definitely preferred it to when she was awake and busy coming up with insults to throw your way.
But you knew that you'd get an earful from your mom if you were late to breakfast, so it would be probably more beneficial to just wake up the sleeping demon.
“Jia,” you shook her shoulders, attempting to wake her up as quickly as possible. “Jia. wake up, dammit,” you cursed under your breath.
“Huh...Y/N? Is that you?”
You could hear from her voice, that she still wasn't completely awake. If she was, she would have probably snapped at you for even touching her.
Changing into some comfortable clothes, you headed towards the bathroom to brush your teeth and grabbed all your necessities. “You should get down soon,” you muttered to Jia over your shoulder before slamming the door shut.
All that was on your mind was breakfast, to say that you were starving would be a gross understatement. Your stomach loudly grumbled as you begrudgingly greeted your family at the table.
“Good morning sunshine,” your mother chriped with way too much enthusiasm given it was nine a.m. “Look, they've got pancakes over there. You should go try them.”
With a wink, she shoved you in the direction of the breakfast goodies. Now this was something you could get used to, your mother finally speaking your language. Grabbing a plate, you stacked five pancakes and drizzled them with some syrup and a few blueberries. A glass of fresh orange juice awaited you at the table when you sat down. You sighed, nose picking up on the faint scent of the meal, your eyes twinkling at the prospect. Just as you were about to insert a piece of the pancake in your mouth, an obnoxious voice interrupted you.
“Good morning, family,” Jia announced rather loudly, a fake smile on her lips as she strutted down to your table like she was on a damn runway. Keeping your gaze down, you tried not to give away your distaste, instead shoving the food down your throat so you could leave as soon as possible.
In the meantime, your father started discussing with your uncle, what were the plans for today but you were way too engrossed in your breakfast, drowning out all the other stuff. They eventually agreed on walking around the city, visiting the most important monuments, a museum or two and at last, eating at a fancy restaurant.
Now you didn't mind at first, thinking that it'll be all fun to explore the place, but you weren't prepared for this and a whiny Jia. Her squeaky voice was an absolute earsore as she trailed behind you, constantly asking “when will we take a break” or “how much longer? My feet ache.”
After about half an hour of silently ignoring her, you finally snapped, glaring at her as your head throbbed. “Jia, please. If your feet hurt so easily, why did you wear heels just to go sightseeing?”
She looked genuinely shocked, but then her expression morphed into a snarl, before she quietly spat so nobody else would hear. “I can at least walk in heels, unlike you. Plus, I have a bigger chance of attracting some cute local hottie.”
You rolled your eyes, snapping yet another photo of the bridge you were currently on as you sped away from your pain of a cousin. She in response whipped out her phone, proceeding to take multiple selfies before walking up to a guy your age. In a sickly sweet tone, she proceeded to ask him, “sir, would you mind taking a photo of me please?”
The young man looked a bit baffled at first, but his lips quickly stretched into a smile. “Of course, miss. Where do you want me to take it?”
Jia then explained everything to him, ranging from where she wanted him to stand, to how zoomed in she wanted the picture. After snapping a few photos, he returned your cousin her phone.
“Would you wanna h-”
His phone suddenly rang, as he looked at the caller ID. “-I'm sorry, my girlfriend is calling me, I'm late for our date,” he hastily explained with a hint of urgency in his tone as he dashed away, leaving Jia alone in the middle of the bridge, nose crunched up and cheeks red.
You on the other hand were laughing your ass off at the foiled attempt of hers, patting her on the back. “Good job, Jia. I'm sure he was smitten.”
Her cheeks turned a darker red at your teasing, before she glared at you, stomping off in the direction of where your family was. Wiping your tears of joy, you quickly followed her, not wanting to get lost in the city.
A few hours have passed and the last thing that was left before lunch was to visit the national museum. Your family had booked a tour for you guys that was set to start in fifteen minutes and your mom reminded all of you to go to the bathroom before it starts, as not to interrupt during the exposition. 
“Y/N, Jia. Don't forget to use the restroom before we start the tour.”
“Yeah, I'll go then,” you excused yourself, heading in the direction the sign on the wall pointed you to.
After you finished, you stepped out of your stall to wash your hands. While you were rubbing your hands with soap (we don't stan germs in this household), Jia suddenly reemerged from the stall next to yours. Without a single word, she stood in front of the sink right next to yours and started washing her hands. You shot her a questioning glance, the fact that there were many unoccupied sinks making her whole act suspicious.
But you ignored it, instead leaning over to grab some tissues to wipe your hands. That was when she chose to strike, sticking her hand right underneath the faucet, and redirecting the powerful stream of water right onto you.
Or to be more precise, right onto your thin t-shirt. You let out a mixture of a groan and a squeak as the cold water dripped down your stomach, making you lightly shiver.
Muttering curses underneath your breath, you stormed out of the bathrooms, not knowing where to go, and not feeling in the mood to listen to her half assed excuses. When you emerged from the door and into the hallway, you collided with a firm chest. If it wasn't for the strong arms that wrapped themselves around you to steady you, you would have toppled over.
“Woah there. Are you okay?” the person asked.
“Yeah,” you grumbled, rubbing your forehead, “thanks for catching me, and sorry for-” you winced, “-for barging into you.”
“No problem. Is everything okay?” he asked, glancing over your soaked attire before turning away with a soft blush. Only then did you notice that the water has rendered your white t-shirt almost see through. You felt your cheeks warm and embarrassment settle as you realised the severity of your predicament.
The boy must have sensed your discomfort, as he slipped out of his button down that was over his t-shirt. “Here. It's not much, but at least something,” he threw the article of clothing over your shoulders.
“Oh, no...it's fine. You don't have to-”
“I insist. You're soaking,” he smiled, fingers reaching for the buttons and buttoning the shirt for you, all while very close to you, you could practically feel his breath on your neck. After he finished, he flashed you a grin, his eyes crinkling like a puppy's.
“I'm Seungmin, by the way. You are-”
“-Y/N. INice to meet you, Seungmin,” you introduced yourself, shaking his hand. “We should probably go. Before my crazy cousin comes out,” you grumbled, blood boiling at the thought of Jia.
“Sure,” he hummed. “Is she the reason you look like you just took a dive?” 
“Yeah, that's her.”
***
You and Seungmin later found out that both your families were booked for the same tour so you excused yourselves, opting to chat together instead of listening to the boring, monotonous voice of the tour guide. Your earpieces lay on your shoulders, unused as the two of you walked through the museum.
Seungmin was very pleasant to talk to, the conversation flowing between you two in no time as you avoided your crazy cousin who tried her best to insert herself into the conversation once she spotted you and Seungmin talking. You could practically see the gears in her head spinning, as she switched into her sugary sweet tone that was meant to attract guys, but it didn't work on Seungmin.
He looked her up and down once, before turning to you and whispering, “is that her?”
You wordlessly nodded, but that was enough for Seungmin. He grabbed your arm, dragging you away and leaving Jia to stand in the middle of the hall. You almost saw the steam coming out of her ears as you walked away with Seungmin. You weren't proud of it, but it felt quite nice to get a small revenge on her.
“I-I think we've l-lost her,” you panted after a few minutes of running. Damn, you really had to work out more if a short run tired you out. “I know. Just wanted to make sure we don't have another, uh, accident,” he smirked, making you groan in annoyance and slap his shoulder. It was a surprise that security hasn't caught you yet for recklessly running inside a museum.
“Ouch, I'm kidding, okay. No need to hit me,” he laughed.
While you two were walking around, laughing at certain paintings and admiring other ones, you decided that now was your time to get some advice on the whole Hyunjin situation, and Seungmin seemed like a sensible person who could give decent advice.
“Seungmin,” you murmured, eyes glued to the painting in front of you. “What is it?”
“Just...I was hoping I could get some advice from you,” you trailed off, tightening your grip on his shirt that was way too big for you. His brows furrowed in confusion but he quickly smiled, prompting you to continue, “sure thing. Shoot.”
“Well so...this will sound kind of stupid but…”
***
About twenty minutes have passed and you have managed to retell the whole story to your new companion, cheeks heating up at the memory of Hyunjin. Although you were possibly miles apart, that sneaky little devil has still managed to wedge himself into your heart, positively charming you.
Seungmin listened intently, head bobbing during some parts as if to indicate comprehension, while his mouth opened during others to ask some supplementary questions when he felt like he needed more context for the story.
Although you felt quite pathetic for spilling your deepest feelings onto a stranger, it did feel liberating to finally let go. Seungmin didn't judge you, instead opting to hear you out so he could formulate his response. 
“And since that fight, we haven't spoken.”
Silence. Followed by a chuckle. Then a boisterous laugh.
You stared at Seungmin in awe, gears spinning as you tried to get a read on him. Were you perhaps wrong? Did he just listen to you rant, only to make fun of you. You felt tears prick the corner of your eyes, a wave of unwanted emotions sweeping up on you.
“I-” wheeze, “-I'm n-not sure,” another chuckle, “if you are really blind,” a snort followed by a series of coughs, “or just visually challenged.”
When you kept looking at him confused, Seungmin let out another wheeze before continuing, “from what you have told me, he seems to be foolishly in love with you.”
Upon the frown that was etched into your face, he elaborated, “Y/N. I'm serious. I think he really likes you, I don't know this guy of course, but from what you've told me, he seems head over heels.”
“You think? But that was before, how do I know he doesn't hate me now-”
“He doesn't,” Seungmin blurted. “Or at least, if he's the swell guy you made him out to be, I'm positive he will understand.”
You looked over at the boy, but you could see nothing but sincerity in his eyes. Perhaps he was right. Maybe you and Hyunjin could just talk it out.  Maybe you could at the very least go back to being friends. 
You missed him. You missed his random texts. The spontaneous chats you had. He was there for you. Always. And it was embarrassing, to say the least, that you've let go of him so easily. 
But you were going to fix this. You were going to meet up with him as soon as possible and get this right.
“Y/N! Where are you?”
You groaned, facepalming at the untactful scream of your cousin. Did she want to get you guys thrown out? It was a miracle that the security guard hasn't snapped yet, but when you looked over at the young man hidden behind the desktop screen, you realized why. He probably wasn't even paid enough for this stuff, hence his lack of involvement,
“Seems like family calls,” Seungmin's eyes twinkled before lighting up as if he remembered something. “Give me your phone.”
When he saw your confusion, he added, “so that I can give you my number.” Nodding in understanding, you handed him your device, impatiently tapping your foot as he returned it with a smile. You were about loewe but then you remembered, “-wait. You're shirt.”
“Oh, it's fine. You can keep it,” his hand darted out to prevent you from slipping off the garment. “I don't really need it anyway.”
“Oh, uh, okay. Thanks-” an uncomfortable silence enveloped the two of you. “Well, then, I should probably get going, huh,” you winced at how awkward you sounded.
“Yeah, good luck with Hyunjin,” Seungmin smiled for the last time, waving you goodbye before jogging up to his parents, chuckling when he wasn't facing you. You really were endearing.
You copied his actions, reuniting with your own family, which sadly included a certain ass of a cousin.
After the exposition, you all headed to the fancy restaurant your father and uncle booked, enjoying the traditional delicacies of the region. Other than Jia shamelessly flirting with the waiter, nothing eventful happened. 
You felt bad for the poor guy, he was trying his best to ignore her advances and serve you guys properly, but at one point, Jia tugged at his sleeve, pulling him closer and in the meantime, making him spill a glass of lemonade all over your uncle.
Needles to say, he wasn't exactly thrilled. You could hear the manager giving him an earful, when you excused yourself to go to the bathroom. Not wanting to just stand by, you headed towards them and explained how Jia was the one to tug at his attire.
The manager let the boy off with a warning, but you could still sense that your help was appreciated with the relieved sigh the waiter let out.
“Thanks,” he whispered sheepishly, rubbing the back of his neck.
“Don't flatter yourself. I'd do anything to go against that witch.”
“Thank you anyways. I really appreciate it.”
“No worries,” you waved him off with a ghost of a smile, “now could you please tell me, where's the bathroom? This place's a damned maze.”
***
An astonishing three weeks have passed, and you were now on your way to the airport. Sadly, the whole family™ ensemble was with you.
Boarding the plane, many thoughts were running through your head. For example, how were you gonna deal with Hyunjin once you'd see him. Or, was it illegal to strangle someone while at the terminal. And of course, would Hyunjin even want to talk to you?
Well, the only way to find out would be to bite the bullet and let him know of your intentions to patch up the relationship between you guys, if that's what you could even call it. But Minho's and Seungmin's words gave you some hope, that maybe all wasn't lost yet.
That's what you desperately hoped for.
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Another week flew by, you were sitting on the beach, arms sprawled out as you absorbed all those UV rays baby (wear sunscreen!). Your hand slid down tho the small plastic table near you, picking up the raspberry lemonade and taking a sip. The cool liquid slid down your throat, making you sigh, as you enjoyed the beverage in the scorching sun.
It was now the beginning of August, and you were simultaneously dreading September, while also wishing it would come by faster so you could fix things up. While the idea of simply texting Hyunjin or calling him came to your mind, you knew you wanted to apologize in person. So you didn't end up texting him at all.
Suddenly, your cousin came running past you, as if a herd of elephants was hot on her tail. Well, she ran as fast as she could while being on sand. Which meant that it was more of a paddle. But you decided to graciously ignore that factor, and instead ask her, what the hell was she doing.
“Well, I heard we have new neighbors. And I  think their son is super hot.”
Turning around, you could indeed spot a taxi that stopped in the driveway of a beach house that was nearly identical to yours. And it was also the one right next to you, into which you could see inside from your bedroom window.
Jia ran off, leaving you to your own thoughts as you wished whoever the guy was, good luck. You could hear her talking, likely introducing herself to the family and dragging the boy with her under the guise of giving him a tour.
“C'mon, let's get some ice tea,” you hear her say in that sickly tone as she pulled him by the hem of his t-shirt. As they were passing by, you had sunglasses covering your eyes as your face was angled to the sky, so you probably wouldn't have noticed anything if the boy didn't call your name.
“Y/N? Is that you?” he questioned in disbelief, scanning you from head to toe. You almost jumped out of your own skin when you heard that familiar voice call your name.
“H-Hyunjin?! What, what are you d-doing here?”
“Well, I could ask you the same question,” he murmured with a hint of a smile.
Before you could reply, he was already being dragged off by Jia, leaving you dumbfounded, without even explaining yourself.
You headed back inside, shame and confusion rising in you, as you planned out what to do next. A cocktail of emotions was swirling through you, and you were sure your head would explode if you stayed any longer. Instead, you drowned out everything, choosing to lock yourself inside your room opposed to enjoying the benefits of the beach.
Past nine, you decided that maybe going to sleep early would help ease your mind. You changed into some comfy PJs and yeeted your not-so-tired, rather emotionally exhausted mind into the bed. You fell asleep almost instantly. During your sleep, nightmares about Hyunjin plagued you the entire time, making you wake up in cold sweat a little past five a.m.
Your breath heaved, as your eyes darted around the room, clinging to the reassurance that it was indeed a nightmare and not reality. The bed scared you now, you wanted some fresh air. Lucky for you, the beach was near empty at this time, so that's where you headed.
Throwing on some simple black leggins and a t-shirt, you ran down the stairs, quietly so you wouldn't wake anybody, and headed to the front door. Quickly unlocking it, you shut it behind taking a deep breath as you stared into the ocean.
The sun was rising, and you felt like weight had been lifted off your shoulders as your eyes got lost in the deep blue waves. They were crashing against each other creating a beautiful, calming symphony.
Taking a few shaky steps, your feet plowed through the soft sand as you made your way towards the sea, almost as if it was pulling you in. Your feet were already in the water when you decided to stop, simply staring into the vast nothingness that was presented.
Your eyes were glazed, as thoughts were running wild in your head. But unlike the storm before, this time, it was a softer rainfall.
You were enjoying the view, when you felt a pair of hands delicately place themselves on your shoulders, making you almost jump out of your skin.
“You couldn't sleep either, huh?”
You recognised that voice, you would have anywhere. It belonged to the one and only friend that you fell in love with. The sweet and caring boy for whom you broke your own rules. The boy that you simultaneously pulled in, and pushed away.
You felt tears prick the corner of your eyes, the emotions suddenly getting the better of you as you broke out into quiet sobs.
“I promised that I wouldn't cry Even on stormy days I promised that I'll hug you even more warmly and protect you The love you gave me still remains That's how I have the strength to live You don't cry Only say hello when we meet again Never cry”
“I-I'm sorry, H-Hyunjin,” you whimpered, head hung low in shame. But then you felt arms wrap themselves around your waist, securely hugging you from behind.
“Shhh. It's okay, Y/N. Please don't cry.”
“B-but I,”
“Don't worry. Everything will be alright, yeah? Minho told me everything-”
“-h-he did? That sneaky bastard,” you murmured, making Hyunjin chuckle.
You stood there in comfortable silence, Hyunjin tightly holding on to you. If it was to comfort you, or out of fear of losing you if he let go, you didn't know. And it was oddly liberating. You felt like you regained a piece of you that you thought you lost. 
In a sense, Hyunjin was always there for you, and you were there for him. Almost like a puzzle piece. Two souls that found comfort in each other. With each other.
As you stood there, pressed to each other, gazing into the rising sun, it felt like you reached heaven. Like you solved the matrix. And at this moment, you wanted time to stop. The thoughts of December involuntarily creeping into your mind, but you tried your best to shove them back, not wanting to ruin the moment you two had going on.
It took at least five minutes for one of you to break the ice.
“So...are we good now?” you whimpered, looking up to him with both guilt and hope in your eyes.
Hyunjin chuckled, brushing his thumb over your cheek as he nodded in affirmation. “We're good.”
You couldn't help but lunge yourself at him, arms wrapping around his noted torso as you inhaled his scent. “I'm sorry. I shouldn't have assumed that it was you.”
“S’okay,” he murmured, “I'm just glad we made up.”
***
The rest of the vacation passed by like a gust of wind, you barely managed to count the days for your return. In those two weeks, you and Hyunjin have found yourselves to be joined at the hip, going on walks on the beach, having water fights in the sea, overall just having a blast. 
But the most entertaining by far was when the two of you lay in deck chairs, sunglasses perched on your nose and straw held between your teeth, as you mimicked all the pretentious people on the resort.
But now, it was time to say goodbye to the beautiful house you spent your days at the beach at. You gleefully waved as you were getting into the taxi, committing the baby blue house to memory, shutting the door.
You were on your way to the airport. Coincidentally, you guys were on the same flight. Both yours and his family on the same first flight, but then parting for the train ride which you shared with Hyunjin. Sadly, there was no telling if you guys would be seated together, but that didn't mean you wouldn't try.
The airport was a chaotic hot mess, both of your families sticking together while heading to check in your bags. While you were struggling to lift your suitcase, Hyunjin graciously swooped in, taking the piece of luggage from your hands and placing it on the conveyor belt, making your mom swoon at how gentlemanly he acted.
You boarded the plane with a smile on your lips, excited that you were returning home. It's not like you didn't love your family, but with your memories of them erased, it was a bit strange.
Hyunjin was sitting a few rows behind you, earbuds already snug in his ears as he bobbed his head to the beat. You took off your jacket, feeling a little warm, and placed it under the seat in front of you along with your backpack.
The flight was pretty boring for the most part, you listened to some music, read a book, and at one point, ordered some butter biscuits. (butter biscuits on planes are a superior food group)
When the plane finally landed, the hostess thanked you guys for flying with the airline, as you made your way out. When at the lounge, both you and Hyunjin were faced with parting with your families.
While your parents were heading to another gate for their second flight, you and Hyunjin headed towards the baggage reclaim, so you could grab your bags and go to the train station.
“It's fine, Hyunjin. I can get my own bag,” you tried to reason with him, but he was already dead set on helping you.
“I insist, it's not a problem for me.”
So it ended up with Hyunjin carrying your bag the entire walk out of the airport. You tried to take the bag from him on many occasions, but he wouldn't let you so you just gave up.
You were looking for the information's centre so you could ask for directions on how to get to the train station. An older woman pointed you to one of the many exits.
You soon found yourselves sitting on a bench, waiting for the train to arrive. Luckily, the train was modern and had wifi, so you could both binge all the netflix you wanted. You got so immersed with the movie, that you almost forgot that your station was up next.
With only minutes left until the train would arrive at your destination, you both hastily packed your stuff, grabbing all your bags so you could jump off the train. Lucky for you, you made it just in time, the doors closing mere seconds after Hyunjin helped you get down.
Laughing off the incident, you both walked to the bus stop from where you would inevitably have to part ways.
“Well,” you started, suddenly feeling top shy to look your companion in the eye, “thanks, Hyunjin. Thank you for letting me back into your life. And I guess,” you stalled for a second, “see you in school.”
“Yeah,” he whispered, “see you there.”
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It's only a few days until the new school year starts. During those few times, you and Hyunjin have sparingly met, chatting and laughing like nothing ever happened between you two, slowly but surely sealing the crack that was the big fight you had.
But you decided to keep it low for now, not getting too friendly with each other while people were around, the memory of rumors spreading still too fresh. It was mid September when you two were talking about your plans next week.
“How about Saturday?” you chided, sticking the plastic spoon full of ice cream into your mouth, sighing at how it practically melted on your tongue. Things could be completely shitty, but ice cream was the only constant in your life. The sweet treat never failed to put you in a good mood.
“Sorry, I'm busy,” he hummed, eyes casted down.
“Busy? Who the hell's busy on a Saturday?” you asked in disbelief. This wasn't like him. He looked almost shy, evading the topic and hoping you wouldn't notice.
“Come on, Hyunjin. Tell me,” you whined. He pouted to himself before whispering, quietly enough that you wouldn't catch it, hadn't he been seated right next to you.
“Well, I have a dance show with the rest of the club.”
The moment he let that out, you were awestruck. Although you remembered that Hyunjin was part of the dance team, you weren't aware of the supposed final show. You figured it would be nice to go see it, you knew dance was something he held dear to his heart, and as a supportive friend, you had to come watch.
“Wow. That's cool. Can I come watch?”
“You want to come and watch?” he almost choked, eyes glazing over you in surprise. Why was he so shocked?
“Of course I want to,” you pouted, “do you not want me to come?”
“N-no, of course not. I'm just a little...surprised.”
“Well don't be. As a good friend, I want to come see you dance your heart out on the stage.”
“S-sure.”
***
Hmmm, was this okay? You looked at yourself in the mirror, twirling around in the sun dress you wore, trying to figure out if it was appropriate. It's not like you knew what to wear for dance shows…You would have asked Hyunjin, but it was a mere hour before the scheduled beginning of the show. He's probably practicing now so it would be rude to bother him.
You were about to change into something else, but you looked at the clock, and realized that you'd be late if you didn't  leave now. Well there goes the plan to come in calmly like the collected person you most definitely are.
When you got off the bus in front of the auditorium, you realized you still had a little over fifteen minutes. About to walk up to the front door, you looked to the side and spotted a small flower shop. An idea came to your mind. Maybe you should get him some flowers.
You quickly ran back, pushing the door to the shop open as the little bell at the top rang and informed the young boy behind the counter of your arrival.
“Hello, miss. What can I get you?” he asked with a pleasant smile, wiping his hands on the apron he wore. The boy seemed oddly familiar, from the name tag on his chest you could read that his name was Jeongin. Maybe he went to the same school?
You cleared your throat with a hint of embarrassment when you realized you had been staring at him. Jeongin however didn't seem to mind, his lips still stretched into a genuine smile as he patiently waited for you to tell him what you were looking for.
“I need some flowers,” you blurted out, only later realizing how stupid that sounded.
“Well, I figured you'd want flowers, since you're in a flower shop and all…” he trailed off with a chuckle. You buried your face in your hands, breathing out something that felt like both a chuckle and groan.
“Yeah, sorry for that. My friend's having a dance show and I know it means a lot to him, so I was thinking of surprising him with a nice bouquet, nothing too fancy.”
The boy hummed in acknowledgement, immediately coming out from behind the counter and leading you to the back of the shop. From there, he worked his magic, pulling out different kinds of flowers, always looking at you for signs of approval. And bit by bit, he built a beautiful flower bouquet that couldn't be described as less than perfect.
He looked up once again, scanning your face for a reaction. “It's perfect. Thank you,” you whispered, catching a whiff of the flowers. They smelled really nice.
“Good luck, by the way. Tell Felix I said hi,” he called to you from behind the counter as you were walking out, winking.
It seems like everyone and their mother knew that you liked Hyunjin.
Walking into the auditorium, you were overwhelmed with the amount of people that were there already. There were rows upon rows of tiny foldable chairs squished next to each other, all facing the big podium Hyunjin was no doubt going to perform on soon.
You sat down in the third row, near the center so you could get the best view possible, the bouquet you bought laying on the unoccupied seat next to you. You were growing self conscious of the idea of giving it to him. Was it too much?
You weren't left to dwell on it much longer as the lights in the auditorium dimmed, everybody stopping mid conversation to look at the podium. The curtains slowly unfolded, leaving you to look at the cluster of students who were in position, waiting for the song to play.
The moment the tune started to linger from the speakers, they all started to move, dancing together in complete sync and harmony, the buildup nice and slow until the beat dropped and the chorus started, leaving you in shock at how quickly the mood changed. The song progressed into a more aggressive hip-hop track with edm undertones and your eyes immediately found Hyunjin. The way he moved his body to the beat, the languid strokes of his limbs, you were entranced.
Your eyes stayed glued to him for the rest of the song, finding it impossible to look away. After a generous applause, they all bow and quickly scurry off the stage, presumably to change into new outfits.
After three more choreographies, your hand is tightening its grip on the flowers next to you, your heart beating so hard, you're afraid it'll jump out of your chest. The artists have once more left the stage, and you are positive that nothing will surprise you anymore. 
But nothing could prepare you for what happened next. The curtains opened, revealing Hyunjin, who stood alone in the middle of the podium, wearing white trousers and a white silk blouse. He was barefoot, which weirdly added to the artistic vibe he gave off.
From the speakers, you could hear them announce that this was the closing act, a dance cover to when the party's over, entirely choreographed by him alone.
The mellow music started to play and if you thought that the previous dance was something, you should have been prepared to get your wig snatched.
The entire time, you almost didn't breathe as Hyunjin danced from one end of the stage to the other, laying down, kneeling, twirling in the air. It was a sight to behold, and when it ended, you found yourself unable to mutter a single word.
While your mouth was parted in shock, your hands have already, almost on instinct, joined the rest of the spectators, loudly clapping. Soon, all the other dancers came out, bowing down as the applause showered down on them.
From your spot, you could see many people come and congratulate Hyunjin, skating his hand and patting him on the back, as grinned in response, cheeks still flushed from the choreo.
After that, he jumped down, eyes scanning the crowd, looking for someone in particular. Once he spotted you, he grinned, making you mirror his expression and smile again. As you walked to each other, you held the flowers behind your back, wanting to surprise him with this last minute gift. 
“Y/N! You came,” he exclaimed overdramatically, hands reaching out for a hug. Although you would love nothing more than to hug the devil out of this cute boy, you had a more important task at hand. Or rather in hand, hidden behind your back and waiting to be revealed.
“Wait a sec, you're all sweaty,” you joked, pushing him away. Hyunjin pouted in response, but the pout was quickly replaced by a huge grin when you pulled your hand from behind your back.
“F-for me?” he asked, eyes as wide as dinner plates as he observed the bouquet in your hands.
“No, for me. Of course it's for you, you dork. Now take it,” you shoved the flowers into his chest with a chuckle.
It seems like the flowers were much too big of a deal for Hyunjin than you thought they were. 
“Thank you,” he whispered, “no one's ever gotten me flowers.”
“Well, glad to be the first one. You deserve it. Great show, by the way.”
“Thanks.”
“Now who do we have here,” Minho materialised from behind Hyunjin, slinging his arm around the poor boy's shoulders. “Aaah. Flowers from you girlfriend, lucky you,” he chided mischievously.
“W-what?” you spluttered, shock written all over your face as Minho stilled, observing your face. “Oh, well, then...nothing. Bye.”
And he left just like that, leaving you and Hyunjin in an uncomfortable silence. Damn Minho and his stupid ideas.
“Well, sorry for that,” Hyunjin offered sheepishly, rubbing the back of his neck. “Don't worry, it's fine.”
More silence. You really wanted to say something, but the words were stuck in your throat. Instead, you just stared at Hyunjin's feet, which were now clad in slides. Your cheeks were burning, as you tried to come up with something smart to say, but you didn't have to - Hyunjin beat you to it.
“I wanted to ask you something,” he murmured all of a sudden, a rosy pink dusting his cheeks. “Huh?” you looked up at him.
He was nervous. Nervous of messing up what you two had already going. And you looking up at him so innocently wasn't helping, various scenarios of you rejecting what he was going to propose already floating through his mind. It took all the willpower in him to not turn around and run away.
“I-, I know what you said about stuff like that, but I can't keep it to myself any longer. I like you, Y/N. Like you a lot. And I was hoping you'd agree to go on a date with me. I want to be someone to you, I want to be able to hold you close, protect you, and call you mine,” he breathed out, taking your hand in his and looking you straight in the eyes, making you feel all tingly on the inside.
His eyes were hazed, and you could swear you saw entire constellations orbit in his orbs, specks of gold littered throughout the deep brown, and you couldn't look away. His smile was slowly dropping at the lack of response, scared that you didn't share his feelings, so you quickly placed your other palm on his.
“I...I'd love to, Hyunjin.”
And that was all the reassurance he needed. His gaze flickered down to your lips, before closing the distance between you, and pressing his plump lips to yours for a chaste kiss. You felt fireworks, as you closed your eyes, enjoying the warmth he radiated. His palm went to caress the apple of your cheek, while your hand went up to his chest.
Hyunjin was the first to pull away, a shy smile adorning his face as the two of you giggled.
And then you were hugging, hazed confessions spilling from both of your lips.
“Although saying ‘I love you’ might be a little obvious I can't save those words I care about you more than anything in the world Your own tomorrow, your own tomorrow Waiting for tomorrow just for you All day, making a story that won't ever end The ending is like the title”
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You and Hyunjin agreed to go on a date and scheduled it for October 1st. You were unreasonably giddy the whole time, to the point you kept trying to justify it by convincing yourself that it was normal. Well, maybe it was, but for someone who previously claimed to not like relationships, you sure were whipped.
The entire time, Hyunjin was occupying your mind, living there practically rent free. And when October finally rolled around, it didn't get any better. It was a Saturday, meaning that you didn't have school to distract you and you were left to think about the date the whole morning. 
You couldn't believe Hyunjin confessed to liking you, nevermind wanting to go on a date with you. And the kiss...that was something else. The pads of your fingers kept reaching to your bottom lip, as if to make sure this wasn't all a dream, and that you guys really kissed. The feeling was bittersweet. Although you didn't have the same opinions you had back in the first half of the year, it still didn't make up for the fact that you only had three months to spend with Hyunjin. 
It honestly felt like a punch to the stomach. But for him, you'd take all the punches in the world, if it meant you could be happy together. If it meant that you could be there for him, just like he was there for you.
Looking yourself up and down in the mirror, you decided you looked fine enough, so you pushed your hair out of your face, and grabbed your keys before leaving your apartment. You were supposed to meet Hyunjin at the bus stop, so he could take you to wherever he wanted to go.
Walking across the street, you spotted him standing at the stop, black hair fashionably styled, revealing his forehead. Clad in tight black jeans, and a tucked in white t-shirt with a denim jacket slung over his shoulders, he looked drop dead gorgeous, making you feel a little self conscious of how you looked.
He looked up from his phone, a giant dorky grin plastering itself over his face once he spotted your figure. Sticking his phone in his back pocket, he walked up to you, arms open for a hug.
“Hello, princess,” he murmured into your hair, inhaling the sweet scent of your conditioner as you wrapped your arms around him.
“Princess?” your nose crinkled in feigned distaste as you hummed into his chest.
“What? You don't like it?” he asked, concerned. “Hmm. I didn't say that.”
And that's all the reassurance he needed. You stayed like that for a little bit longer, before Hyunjin, unfortunately, had to let go of you so you wouldn't miss the bus.
“You look really pretty, by the way,” he whispered into your ear as you were sitting down, cheeks heating up at the compliment.
“Thanks, you don't look too bad yourself.”
***
When you got off the bus, you could see the change in scenery, as you looked around the vast landscape that enveloped you, the only exception being the small metal gate with a worn off sign. You squint your eyes, trying to read it, but to no avail.
Hyunjin's hand clasped around yours, dragging you in the direction you were looking at, a cheeky smile on his lips.
“Where are you taking me?” you interrogated.
“Hmm. You'll see.”
When you got close enough, you could finally decipher what the sign read. Start Line racing center. What the hell was that?
Hyunjin laughed at your reaction, the noise genuine and throaty as he explained, “we're going go-karting.”
Oh. That's nice. Did he seriously remember when you told him months ago that that would want to go go-karting for your next date? Hyunjin, as if reading your mind, mumbled with a hint of embarrassment, “I remembered you saying that's where you wanted to go for your first date, so I thought-”
“-Yeah, it's perfect. Thank you, Jinnie,” you nuzzled your head into his chest, making a blush erupt across his face.
Hyunjin, with you still in his chest, walked up to the counter, greeting the boy with a cap who sat behind on a chair. “Hi Jisung, we have a reservation for two that should be up in a few.”
The boy smiled, scanning the two of you, which made you pull away from Hyunjin in embarrassment. Your companion pouted at the loss, his arm slithering around your waist instead, but looking at you for any hint of discomfort. Once he found none, he pulled you closer, looking back at the boy behind the counter.
“I see, reservation at two o'clock. Come right this way.”
He led you through the changing room, where you could leave your stuff behind before walking up to the circuit.
The next hour could only be described as fun. Amazing. You and Hyunjin sat down in the cars, put on your helmets, and raced for what felt like hours. Sometimes you would win, sometimes he would win, but you had an inkling suspicion that he was just letting you reach the end before him on purpose.
“I'm gonna beat your ass,” you grumbled after another victory of his, probably the fifth of sixth one. Although it was all in good fun, Hyunjin probably felt bad, so he slowed down every now and then, letting you cross the finish line first. If it wasn't for the soft, self pleased look he made every time you won, you would have called him out on his bullshit. But why ruin the fun, you appreciated the gesture.
Once you finally reemerged in the changing room where your things were stored, Hyunjin extended his hand towards you, prompting you to take it as you bid Jisung goodbye. This time, you chose to walk back instead of taking the bus, allowing you time to chat.
And you did. You chatted about anything and everything, from how you spilled coffee on yourself yesterday (making Hyunjin automatically worry, grabbing your face in his hands and checking it for any injuries), to how you were worried about the chemistry test which you'd be writing a week's time.
Hyunjin talked to you about his troubles for a change, how he was sick of all the nasty looks thrown his way, how everyone thought he cheated on tests, not believing he had it in him to try his best and actually study. And it shocked you. You of course knew there were some people, jealous of his achievements, but you didn't realize how much it affected him. How much he was hurting. 
Hyunjin was a sensitive person at his core. He took to heart whatever people said about him, and eventually, he succumbed to the idea that he didn't deserve what he had. What he had worked hard for. 
“Hyunjin,” you whispered softly, not trusting yourself to look him in the eyes, instead, staring at the pavement in front of you.
“I-I just want you to know, uh, that...that you are one of the most amazing people I know. Not only do you work hard for your dreams, you also work hard for your friends, and people around you. You're a pure and kind soul that deserves all the love there is. You deserve the world, but the world doesn't deserve you.”
At your words, he smiled softly, eyes full of adoration. You always knew the right thing to say to make him feel better. And he was excited. Excited for what he had planned for you two. You didn't know it yet, but to complete your quote unquote perfect date, you two were going to have a picnic. 
You didn't realize it yet, but he led you to his house, excusing himself for a few minutes under the guise that he forgot something important. Standing in front of his place, you impatient tapped your foot against the pavement, excitement coursing through your veins at what else he had planned.
So far, the date was perfect in every way. Who would have thought that Hyunjin remembered you wanted to go go-karting, not to mention prepared it for your first date? It made you thrilled for whatever he had in store next.
Hyunjin reemerged from the building, both hands behind his back, hiding whatever he brought from view. You chuckled, sneakily looking around and trying to catch a glimpse but he stubbornly kept it hidden.
“Y/N,” he took a deep breath, a nervous smile playing on his lips, “tadaa.”
Albeit the childish reveal, you still squealed in excitement when he brought both his hands from behind his back.
“Are you serious?” you murmured in awe.
“Of course.”
In his right hand, he held a small basket with a folded blanket peeking from underneath the lid. In his left hand, he tightly clutched a moderately sized bouquet of pink roses that were held together with a pink bow.
He walked up to you, placing the basket on the pavement and grabbing your hand so he could give you the flowers. Your palm tightened around them, head dipping low to catch a whiff. You inhaled the floral scent with a sigh, looking up at Hyunjin and pecking his cheek.
“Thank you.”
He smiled, “you're welcome.”
Grabbing your other hand, he led the way to wherever he had in mind. Unsurprisingly, it was a beautiful park, overlooking the river.
Hyunjin pulled out the blanket, shaking it in the air to try to place it on the emerald green grass. Except the wind kept blowing, messing up the placement and making the blanket fold itself before it reached the ground.
You let out a small chuckle, but when you saw how upset Hyunjin was getting, you rushed to his aid, holding the opposite corners of the cloth and finally laying it down properly.
“Thanks,” he rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. You could see the tips of his ears turn scarlet so you held back a laugh.
“No problem.”
As you later found out, Hyunjin went all out with the meal prep. He made guacamole toast and brought some freshly squeezed orange juice. To top it off, he also baked some brownies. Talk about boyfriend material.
“Mhmm, this is really delicious,” you said in between bites, gulping down some more juice. “I didn't know you could cook or bake.”
“Well, I am full of surprises, after all,” he wiggled his eyebrows making you laugh and slap his arm.
You sat in the grass, legs neatly tucked under your dress and the pastel pink roses lay next to you, a permanent reminder of where you were. Or rather, with whom you were.
“Everything alright?” a voice cut through the air, making you look up from the single dandelion in the grass.
“Perfect. Why do you ask?” your eyes shone with childlike innocence when you asked the question, making Hyunjin hum, looking away. “No reason.”
It was getting quite late, the October wind making you shiver as you cursed yourself for not bringing a jacket with you. But how were you supposed to know? It was quite warm when you left the house.
Hyunjin must have noticed your teeth lightly chattering, because he slipped out of his denim jacket, throwing it over your shoulders despite your protests.
“It's okay, Hyunjin. You don't ha-”
And then he pressed his lips against yours to shush you, sighing at the feeling of your lips against his. You relished in the warmth he radiated, before opening your eyes, and realizing what happened. Your cheeks burned in embarrassment, as you hid your face in the denim of his jacket.
Hyunjin smirked, before grabbing your hand, motioning for you to look at him. You peered at him confused, a tingling sensation overtaking your whole body.
“But I want to.”
***
It was nighttime, you and Hyunjin were scrolling through the park, hand in hand as the Sun was setting behind your backs. In your other hand, you carefully held the bouquet of roses he gifted you, already noting to put them in a vase the moment you returned.
While your thoughts were drifting off to what will you do once you get back, Hyunjin was observing you, a ghost of a smile present as he recalled all the prior events that led up to this moment.
He felt like this was the climax of his life, which it in a sense was, since all his recollections of you will be thoroughly erased in a mere three months. While it was easy to say that this wouldn't be a problem at the beginning of the year, it became harder and harder with each passing day. He couldn't push away the thoughts of December as easily as before.
It almost felt like the universe was against him, stacking the odds as it pleased, right when he found happiness. Quite the nasty thing to do, if you asked him.
“Are you alright, Jinnie?” you asked, concern lacing your tone as you watched his brows furrow. “Yeah. Everything's fine. Just thinking.”
You reached your building, but you didn't feel like parting.
“The story we created will remain like this We'll make the never-ending days become beautiful I want to always live in a bright dream Forever in your heart”
The two of you stood in front of the door, hands entwined as you waited for the other to say something. Dead silence.
“Uh, well, thank you for today, Hyunjin. I really enjoyed it,” you smiled softly, looking away. Hyunjin cood at your shyness, before grabbing your hand, something he has done multiple times at this point (not that you were complaining), and looked you dead in the eyes.
“Y/N, I wanted to ask you if you'd do me the pleasure of being my girlfriend.”
“I-I, of course-” the words were stumbling out of your mouth at a dangerous speed, eyes glossing, and heart bursting with joy. Hyunjin smiled, his heart skipping a beat as he took in the moment. Yet again, he wished time could stop.
This was when you took the initiative, your free hand reaching to cup his cheek as you pressed your lips to his. It was short and sweet, the two of you shyly pulling away after a few seconds before you remembered something.
“Here. Thanks for lending it to me,” you handed him back the jacket, immediately feeling the chilly breeze surround you.
“No problem,” he slid back into it, pecking your hand with a small smirk and waving you goodbye.
***
The news about you and Hyunjin dating took your school by storm, making the two of you the hottest topic of discussion yet again. Except this time, Hyunjin stood by you, defending you and sending death glares to anyone who even dared to look at you for too long.
“Oh hello, you two. Heard that you were dating,” a girl from your grade came up to you, twirling a strand of hair on her finger.
“Yeah, we are. Got a problem?” Hyunjin questioned with his hand on his hip.
“Actually, I do. Look at her, you could do so much better, Hyunjin,” the girl pointed in your general direction with feigned disgust.
“Well your face looks like it would make an onion cry,” you mumbled under your breath, rolling your eyes.
“Pfffft,” Hyunjin burst out laughing, doubling over as he calmed his breath. The girl just looked at you in shock, ears so red you could almost see the steam coming out of them.
“Let's go,” your boyfriend dragged you by the hand, still not over your snarky reply.
The rest of the day was spent fending off similar asshats, which now followed not only you, but also Hyunjin. You felt genuinely surprised at how Hyunjin kept calm about this, likely already used to people bothering him 24/7.
Luckily, there still were a few people who congratulated you on your relationship and talked to you normally, instead of whispering behind your backs.
“Hey, lovebirds. Heard you're the talk of the school, again,” Minho inserted himself between the two of you, slinging his shoulders.
“Ugh, get out, Minho.”
“No can do. I want to spend some quality time with my best friend,” he said in an overly sweet tone. That fake smile with his teeth showing meant that he was up to something, you were sure of it. And you weren't wrong.
“So tell me,” his gaze darted from you to Hyunjin, “who asked the other to be their partner?”
You and Hyunjin looked at each other, confused as to why he cared. “Just tell me,” Minho whined impatiently.
“Uh, well,” Hyunjin coughed, “I did.”
“Yaass. I knew it. You owe me twenty, Felix,” Minho cheered, only realizing his mistake after the sharp glare Hyunjin sent his way.
“H-hey, for the record, I was the one that said you'd have the balls to ask her out so don't be mad.”
“Whatever.”
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October bled into November quite quickly, barely giving you time to adjust to the new lifestyle, otherwise known as dating Hwang Hyunjin. He was nothing but sweet the entire time, his caring nature showing when he'd bring you lunch, take you out for coffee, or even just for a stroll in the park. 
Of course, you tried your best to return the favor, bringing him snacks after practice, cheering him on when he needed, and agreeing to his spontaneous and sometimes completely unplanned dates which would end up being your favourite ones anyway.
Today, you and Hyunjin were going ice skating. As cliche as it sounds, you didn't even dare think that it'll be boring. Things were never boring with him. That's a fact.
You stepped out of your house, the cold wind biting into the apples of your cheeks. You tightened the fluffy scarf that was draped around your neck. Hyunjin's scarf.
But it's not like you could help yourself, he did after all tell you it looked better on you.
“Hey,” he shouted across the street, catching your attention and immediately putting a smile on your face.
“Hi, “ you breathe out over the scarf that was now securely wrapped around your neck, partially covering your face.
“Is that my scarf?”
“Yeah,” you chuckle, “it's the warmest one I could find. Hope you don't mind-”
“-oh no, of course not.”
The two of you walked on the sidewalk, the ice rink only a ten minute walk from here so you decided to ditch the bus. You were shivering a little bit, your hands feeling especially stiff as the cold weather continued to bite on your skin.
You heard shuffling, before Hyunjin grabbed your hand, stuffing it in his pocket along with his own and entwining your fingers. He looked to the other side, pretending like nothing happened, despite your obvious stare.
“What? Your hands looked like they were cold,” he murmured, shyly looking away.
“Reall' smooth, Hyunjin. Reall' smooth.”
Despite your teasing tone, you still felt your cheeks heat up in embarrassment at the gesture, suddenly feeling all fuzzy on the inside.
“Oh, yes, baby! We're just gettin' started.”
“Pfft. Sure.”
“I mean it! Get ready for a crazy night full of extreme adventure and romance!”
“At the ice rink?”
“Y-yeah, it'll be a slippery ride.”
***
Truth to be said, Hyunjin was right about one thing. The rink was slippery as hell.
“Aaah, Hyunjin. Wait for me, please. I don't want to fall.”
“Too bad,” he snorted, “I promised you it would be a slippery ride.”
“Well then...if you won't come to me, I'll have to come to you,” you shouted at the top of your lungs, suddenly lunging yourself forward, and beginning to go after him, as fast as your mediocre skating skills allowed you to.
“H-hey!” he shouted, fear flashing in his eyes at your unexpected dash, sprinting away from you while laughing like a maniac when he realized you couldn't catch up.
It was all fun and games, until you didn't notice the small rock on the ice, making you trip over and fall face first.
You let out a whimper as you made friends with the cold ice surface, twisting your ankle in the process. This must have alerted Hyunjin, as he immediately turned around, eyes widening in shock as he took in your crumpled up form. 
He briskly skated to you, softly murmuring apologies as he helped you up. When he realized you couldn't stand on one foot, he almost broke down into tears.
“It's okay, Hyunjin. I'm fine, probably just a twisted ankle. It's my fault anyways, i'm just super clumsy-”
“-don't say that.”
“Say what?” you cocked a brow, genuinely confused as to what he was referring to.
“That you're clumsy. That it's your fault. Fuck, I should have listened to you when you said it's slippery. I'm sorry, Y/N.”
“Don't be. I'm fine. If you could just help me get to the bench-”
Ten minutes later, you two were sitting on a bench behind the rink, your right skate off as Hyunjin examined your ankle. He came to the conclusion that it was swollen, which was great, honestly. You were afraid for a second that you had broken your leg. It already felt better, you'd probably feel okay in a week or so, with some ice and proper rest.
“Ugh, I'm so sorry. If only I listened to you,” he pushed his sweaty hair from his forehead, brows furrowing.
“It's fine, don't worry. It'll get better with some rest. But if you want to do me a favour,” you smiled mischievously, “the hot chocolate over there looks especially tempting.”
“Yes, ma'am.”
Hyunjin soon returned, two cups of hot chocolate in hand as he placed them on the bench and took a seat next to you. You talked for a bit, sipping the scorching hot beverage before placing it back on the bench, and talking again. This cycle repeated itself until you ran out of the sweet drink, the darkness paired with the dim streetlamps reminding you that it was quite late.
“We should probably go.”
“Yeah, we should.”
Once you stood up, Hyunjin looked over at you, as if you've grown a second head.
“Nuh-uh. You're not walking anywhere,” he declared, pushing you back down on the bench.
“Well, you doofus. What am I supposed to do? Just lay here until my foot heals?”
“Jump.”
“What?” you asked in disbelief.
“I said jump. I'll give you a piggyback ride,” he said as if it was the most obvious thing ever. No way in hell were you gonna have him carry you.
“It's fine. We can figure out another w-”
“Y/N. Are you uncomfortable with me carrying you? Or do you think you're bothering me with it? Because if it makes you uncomfortable, I won't do it, but if you just think you're a burden, that's not true.”
You stared at him, at loss of words at how he exactly read your thoughts.
“Oh, okay,” you slowly reached for his neck, wrapping your arms around him and jumping onto his back. He slipped his hands under your thighs, pulling the to circle his waist as he slowly walked home.
“Are you sure you're alright-”
“-Yup.”
“Okay.”
The conversation quieted down, leaving you two in silence. But it wasn't exactly uncomfortable, more so awkward. You have already talked your hearts off today, so there wasn't much you haven't  discussed. When you reached your place, he slowly dropped you down, making sure you didn't put any pressure on your injured leg.
He personally made sure you were safely inside your apartment, before trudging off home.
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December was here. Although most people wouldn't have qualms with this festive month, you were anxiously counting down the days till the 31st, uneasiness permeating through your body.
You knew this would come from the start, yet you still somehow thought, that if you just believed enough, something would change. Someone would let you know that they weren't going to wipe away all your memories of the only constant in your life.
Hwang Hyunjin.
You felt foolish for even for a second, forgetting the cold harsh truth. That love wasn't a desired concept in your world. Sure, they somewhat allowed it, but only to a certain extent, systematically wiping it out every year, which was way crueler in your opinion.
It felt like they finally gave you the wings to fly, only to later pluck out all your feathers, one by one.
How brutal.
You've spent the past few days studying for exams, memory erasure seemingly not a problem for the school board. Luckily, your tests ended next week, which would give you more time to spend with Hyunjin and his friends, who you learnt were quite nice, despite the quabbles. 
You were currently studying for your chem exam, arguably the hardest one of the bunch. But you felt ready this time, you have done everything you could have, looked through your book, compared notes with others, memorized the study guides, learnt the formula, and practiced equations. 
Theoretically speaking, you should have this in the bag.
Except you didn't. After you wrote the test, you had mixed feelings, but still hoped for the best. Consulting with other classmates, you found out most had similar, if not the same answers.
You even talked about it to Hyunjin, who immediately kissed you, saying how proud he was. It warmed your heart, feeling like someone noticed your efforts was a nice change of pace.
A week has passed, you were now into mid December, and you finally finished all your exams so you were free to spend the remaining two weeks with your loved ones. But unfortunately, that wasn't all. While you wanted to know how you scored, it was still nerve wracking and you had this certain gut feeling. Turns out, your gut was right.
“I got a D,” you whimpered into Hyunjin's chest as he held you close, patting your back and whispering soft nothings into your ear.
Immediately after you saw your grade, a wave of sadness washed over you, and you ran to the only person you could think of.
“It's okay, baby. You tried your best, and that's all that matters. Don't beat yourself up because of one stupid exam. I'm proud of you for trying your best.”
And it helped. His soothing words slowly lulled you into a state of soft hiccups, until they too eventually disappeared. You had calmed down, clutching onto Hyunjin's now wet sweater as you apologized over and over.
“Nothing to apologize for,” he smiled at you grabbing your hand and walking in the direction of your favourite cafe.
He suggested going on a feel-good date, which was a term he just invented, but denied it profusely. You ended up getting something warm to drink and chatted for a bit until Hyunjin walked you home.
***
It was the day. December 31st. Arguably, the worst day of the entire year. And although you were aware of it for an entire year, it didn't stop the lump that formed inside your throat. For the entire day, you battled the onslaught of tears, feeling like the emotions would eventually eat you up from the inside. But they didn't. Because Hyunjin stood by you the entire time. You two were practically glued to the hip, and nothing would convince you to leave his side.
You went to the amusement park, ate some ice cream (despite the cold weather), and tried to engrave every single moment into your memory. But you knew it was futile. All the wonderful memories and experiences would be ripped out of you today. You would be stripped of your previous emotions and sent back to the world. Talk about heartless.
You, along with Hyunjin, his friends, and many other people were gathered on the main square, the big towered clock looming over you, serving as a nasty reminder that time was running out.
You were sat on a bench, limbs practically entwined with Hyunjin's as you relished in each other's warmth, trying to forget the ticking clock in the background. His friends had enough decency to give you guys some privacy, leaving you two to yourselves after exchanging hugs.
“You know I love you, right,” Hyunjin mumbled into your hair. You exhaled into the crook of his neck, softly nodding. “I love you too, Jinnie.”
Baam.
Ten minutes left. 600 seconds before you'd forget all of this, Hyunjin, your parents, anything and everything that had to do with emotion. It was painful, so so painful. You felt a tear slide down your cheek. More followed.
“Y/N,” Hyunjin whispered, thumb wiping off all the wetness, “don't cry, baby. Please don't cry.”
“I-I'm sorry, Hyunjin. I really am. It's just-”
“-shhh, it's okay, I'm here.”
Yeah. he was here. For now. But what would happen once he was gone?
Baam.
Five more minutes.
“Here, let's stand up,” he tightened his arms around your waist, lifting the both of you up until you were standing in the reflection of the moonlight, just like the hundreds of couples that have no doubt gathered here too. “It's alright. Let's just stay close like this, yeah?”
Four minutes left.
“Oh Hyunjin, I'll miss you so much,” you whispered, voice cracking.
“Well, you won't even remember me-”
You glared at him. “Sorry, sorry,” he chuckled. “But in all seriousness,” he stared deeply into your eyes, “I fell in love with you once, Y/N, despite all the odds, so wherever we meet again, I'm positive I'll fall for you again.”
One minute left.
He smashed his lips against yours, hand tangling in your hair, as your arms wrapped around his neck. Ignoring the lack of breath, you moulded your lips against his, hearing the fireworks in the background, along with some cheers. This kiss felt different from all the others. It was as if both of you were trying to convey the emotion, the sorrow through the act, passion coursing through your veins.
“Never say goodbye Because we are one Because we will walk together in the same dream Continue smiling by my side just like this moment Longer than tomorrow, farther than eternity I love you”
“10!”
“9!” “8!”
“7!” “6!” “5!” “4!” “3!”
“2!”
“1!”
“I love you!” was the last thing Hyunjin whispered before it all went blank.
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Strolling down the street, you were headed to one of the cafes in your neighborhood. The place was pleasant enough, you figured, as all you needed was a table to place your notebooks and a warm cup of coffee.
After ordering a cappuccino, you sat at the table near the window, pulling out your physics notebook along with a pen. Balancing them on the edge of the table, you cleared enough space for your laptop and the beverage.
As you were furiously typing, a boy was walking past your spot, the sleeve of his coat bumping into your notebook, making your pen fall.
He profusely apologized, bending down to pick it up. “Here you go,” he smiled, placing the pen back on your table.
“Hwang Hyunjin. Is this seat taken?” he pointed to the empty chair in front of you.
“It isn't, Go ahead,” you motioned for him to sit. For some reason, he seemed oddly familiar.
“Remember the first day we met A shy smile and the sunlight falling I knew, just by looking into your eyes That we're one That we're one That you're me”
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 A/N: it's finally here 💘 this one heck of a fic. this took me almost three weeks to write lmao. i hope you enjoyed, please please let me know your thoughts below 💖 have a lovely day and happy birthday Jinnie ✨
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izukulus · 7 months ago
Note
Hello!! Congratulations babe 💕
Could I have Reiner with foxglove and nettle please. Thanks hun 😘😘
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notes: i’m always picturing like... season 4 reiner when i read or write for him so that’s the characterisation i’m going with for now. i love my boy 🥺
content warnings: spoilers for up to season 4.
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reiner braun
foxglove (an insecurity they have)
do you want a list?
this poor man is the definition of insecure. in every sense.
specifically in terms of you and your relationship, his biggest insecurity is that he can’t give you the life you deserve.
he doesn’t have long left, after all. he thinks you deserve someone who could spent an eternity making you happy, as you deserve. he can’t understand why you want him.
he’s broken after the events on paradis, comes back to marley not even knowing who he is. he’s a patchwork man, some parts soldier and some parts warrior. but you seem to love it all.
he tried to avoid you when he realised he was falling in love with you. he knows his fate is coming up soon and he doesn’t want to make it more painful for you by indulging in a relationship - even though he aches for it, for your gentle touch, your soft words, feels it empty in his chest when he goes to sleep, cold and alone and plagued with nightmares.
he thinks he’s a terrible person with a ticking clock that’s about to wind down. why should he have the luxury of spending that time with you?
he looks at you and sees the life he wants stretching out ahead of him. he sees waking up beside you, of settling down in a house far from here, somewhere peaceful. he sees building a family, kids, names them, picks features from himself and you. sometimes he even dreams it, and wakes up with tears on his cheeks and a bittersweet ache in his gut.
nettle (what would you do that would hurt their feelings?)
reiner is dangerously vulnerable around you.
your opinions matter so much more to him than he wants them to. he wishes he didn’t strive to make you think better of him, but he does.
it’s actually quite hard to hurt his feelings in the traditional sense. you loving someone else would hurt - but it would be bittersweet, because he’d see you getting the life you truly deserve, the life he can never give you, and in the end he’d brace it with a small smile, content.
i guess if you wanted to really hurt him, you’d have to affirm the same things he already thinks. that he’s a coward, weak, a traitor. that he’d let himself get too close to paradis, that he’s an idiot, too soft, too gullible to have been trusted with this sort of mission.
but there would never be an opportunity for it. reiner lives on the precipice of collapse and it’s all your strength to keep him on the edge, away from oblivion. you babble reassurances until you’re blue in the face and he’ll sigh and lean into you, letting the words wash over him sweetly - but you know he doesn’t truly believe it.
he can’t accept that you don’t think of him the same way he thinks of himself.
so probably the only way to really hurt his feelings is to throw his biggest insecurity in his face, to weaponise it against him. if you ever level him in the eye and tell him he can’t give you the life you want, he’ll break.
sobbing, head in his hands, absolutely torn between letting you go to get the life you deserve and begging you not to leave him. if it’s something said in the heat of an argument, you’ll feel awful. assure him that even though he hasn’t got much time left, he’s all you want.
he won’t believe you. he never will.
203 notes · View notes
kwantified · a year ago
Text
stolen liquor - liu yangyang
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pairing: yangyang x fem!reader
genre(s): fratboy!au, sororitysister!reader, exboyfriend!yangyang, angst, slice of life, suggestive, mature, badboy!au
warnings: alcohol consumption, heavy cursing, limited foreplay (second base), mentions of sex, mentions of violence, mentions of blood and bruises, stealing
word count: 6.8k
a part of @legendnct ​‘s bingo collab! check out the full collab masterlist here.
prompts: “baby, i'm afraid to fall in love. 'cause what if it's not reciprocated?” / “i gotta stay high all the time to keep you off my mind” / “oh, you remind me of someone I once knew. maybe I'm crazy, but it's hard to ignore you”
synopsis: there’s a part of you that hasn’t let go of the relationship you broke off six months ago. but are you only coming back because you long to feel some sort of old familiarity? or does the reminiscent swelling in your chest mean more than nostalgia? you end up believing that it’s both.
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is it bad to come back to a person you’ve left behind?
you’re starting to think it’s just normal.
humans are creatures of habit, you’ve learned. they seem to come back to what they already know solely because, well, it’s comfortable. familiarity is helpful. it’s a nice, warm pillow of pre-existing knowledge and emotional understanding that you lean on daily. 
you used to scoff at those who would cower at the face of change, easily but painfully avoiding it like the plague. or maybe they’d endure it a bit, with heads up too high, and slowly melt back into the mould of where they came from. you thought it was laughable. 
but you get it now. 
getting yourself a new group of friends meant putting in extra time to keep up with their every hangout. drinks after class, “spontaneous” frat parties, clubbing most fridays - plus random wednesdays - and the constant back and forth between your dorm and the sorority house. 
you like to think that you love the wind in your hair and the chill up your skin when you’re out late in town with your new friends, their bright smiles complimenting their designer purses. you think it makes the ache in your ankles worth it. though, sometimes it’s the only thing you can feel. 
these days you find yourself craving quiet nights and old highschool connections, getting both tired and almost afraid of the same routine you used to so desperately want. it’s a shame, truly, and you blame yourself, for the second you brought yourself into a popular sorority and fit in almost perfectly, you felt as if you wanted to go back. 
tonight is another one of those nights where you’ve unsuccessfully convinced yourself that “fun” was an illusion hidden under inches of booze and weed on the patio. this time, your taste buds don’t seem to be numb enough to want to consume anything, and everyone seems to already have eyes on who to take home (spoiler alert: not you). it’s the usual frat party.
that’s what all of you thought until na jaemin, one of the frat’s sophomores, comes in with a busted lip and bruised fists. from there, the murmurs start.
“jaemin told me he left him by the dumpster,” a girl, seri, says.
“isn’t he from another frat?” another girl, hyejung, adds.
“is he? he goes here, i know that for sure,” a third girl, chaeyeon, says.
“wait... his name sounds familiar,” a fourth girl, yeeun, points out.
“do you know him, y/n?” seri asks, and you find yourself lost in the conversation.
“who?” you furrow your eyebrows.
“yangyang. liu yangyang.”
you feel a heavy weight in your chest at the mention of your ex-boyfriend. but they don’t know that.
you only give seri a forced shrug and a pursed lip before she turns away from you to join in on the others’ conversation. usually, you’d scramble back into everyone else’s conversations too, but today you tell yourself otherwise.
the clacking of your heels makes a beeline to the back door, and you realise your heart’s beating a mile a minute. you feel out of place; you’re silently fetching your coat without any word of goodbye, and the relief you feel when the cold air hits your knees is conflicting.
you hate this. you hate that your first instinct was to leave. you hate that you’d rather stick up for him. you hate that you’ve gone so far as to painfully change your weeks just to shove it all in the dust because your ex-boyfriend had just been beaten up by one of the boys at your sorority’s sibling frat. 
your wedges are hard against the stone pavement behind the house, and you’re sure anyone could hear you walk up to the dumpster from miles away. you never make it to the dumpster, though, as the rough thud somewhere in the crowd of parked cars near the entrance makes you abandon all reason and bump right into him - or, in front of him, at least. 
“oh. it’s you.”
yangyang shuffles so that he’s leaning against the fence bordering the house, the moonlight shining on his messy collar and bloody face. through his ruffled hair, he forces a smile, and you feel the weight in your chest drop to your stomach.
god, you can’t stand it.
“c’mon,” you take his arm, silently begging him to stand up and lean on you before anyone sees.
"taking me to your car, huh? that used to be fun.”
“it’s not fun when na jaemin beats the shit out of you, is it?”
yangyang scoffs, his bigger frame dangling over yours. you’re going one step at a time, one hand on his waist and another rummaging through your purse for your car keys.
you can’t seem to look him in the eye right now, and you choose not to ask yourself why. you feel his eyes burning holes on your cheek and his arm wrapping warmly around your neck. you’re okay with this.
“miss me?” yangyang grins when he’s finally seated in the passenger seat of your car, your response delayed to silence as you drive out of the lot. it’s dark, mostly, and you can’t seem to bring yourself to say anything for the first two minutes of the drive.
then he cuts the tension.
“i’m surprised they actually like you.” 
you keep your eyes trained on the road, the way to yangyang’s place still memorised in your head. 
“who knew fake socialites would ever think of you that way?” yangyang glances at you, arms slouched beside him, “i heard even mark lee’s got an eye out for you.”
you slow down. 
“yeah. he was thinking of approaching you tonight after being done with me,” he says, “guess that didn’t happen, did it?”
“bullshit,” you mutter, stopping at a red light.
“trust me, i hate na jaemin’s rich posse as much as you do. but even i’m-”
“i don’t hate them,” you cut off, tapping your fingers impatiently on the steering wheel.
“you just don’t like them as much as you like my frat.”
“your frat is as good as a worn out bike gang.”
“woah, y/n,” yangyang laughs, and it’s loud and fake, “your elitism is showing.”
the green light shows on, and you force every muscle in your body to stay calm and stop yourself from pulling over and giving the boy an extra punch to the face.
“what were you doing tonight? before... that,” you ask, changing the subject.
“isn’t it clear already?”
you furrow your eyebrows, “what?”
“they just love me too much, y’know?” yangyang jokes, suddenly rummaging through the car’s small compartments.
“fuck off,” you scoff, “and don’t touch that.”
the man just shrugs. “anyways, me and jaemin are obviously besties,” yangyang continues, his tone mimicking that of a valley girl, “so it’s only natural that besties lend each other booze.”
“no fucking way.”
“only the finest in the cellar, baby,” he flashes you a smile, and you try to chew on the inside of your cheek, but you can’t help the wide grin that erupts on your face.
“did they get it back?”
“that’s what they thought,” yangyang crosses his arms, “i still have two bottles - one at my apartment and the other at hendery’s.”
“fuck,” you laugh, “you got the nerve.”
“that’s rich coming from you, sorority sister.”
you roll your eyes, catching your bottom lip in between your teeth. there’s a guilt that stays in your gut, but you leave it. you don’t care.
“but why do you care for me to get home?”
you know every reason why you’re in your car, driving yangyang home, instead of at the frat house, kissing mark lee. still, you choose to keep it to yourself. 
“that’s for you to decide,” you answer, shrugging, hoping his thanks for you giving him a ride home would cover for his curiosity for why you did this for him in the first place. yangyang responds with a satisfied hum.
the rest of the drive is silent, but the tension is loud in your cheeks when you catch him staring at you every few seconds, his damn smile never failing to be contagious. 
“we’re here,” you feel every nerve in your body as you pull up into the apartment’s parking lot, fingers brushing against his when you two reach for the compartment where your phones were.
you get out of the car first, reminding yourself that there was still a moderate walk from the parking lot to his apartment. yangyang tilts his head when you reach your hand out to him, and his hand warmly holds yours as he stands himself up.
“you can lean on me if you want,” you offer after watching him limp halfway through the parking lot.
“no, it’s fine,” yangyang declines, “i’ll be fine by tomorrow, tops.”
“you’re not fine now,”
“that’s why we’re going to my place, isn’t it?”
“whatever you say,” you sigh, already familiar with the way he minimises his pain, “just so you know, forcing yourself to speed-walk won’t get you all great tomorrow.”
yangyang ignores the latter half of your words and keeps his hand in yours as the two of you approach the elevator connecting the parking lot to his apartment floor. like most of your interactions with him tonight, the ride up is silent. occasionally, you hear him let out a short hiss of pain, causing you to send him worried glances. he always replies with a smile.
when you two reach his front door, you wait as he takes his keys out from his coat pocket. you’re left to look around the hallway before his apartment, suddenly feeling the memories of your ex-boyfriend flash before your eyes, whether it be him beaten up on your shoulder, kissing you on the lips, or disturbing the neighbours. you can’t lie though, there was a different type of rush you felt when you were with him. maybe it was the late movie dates or his old part-time job at the bowling alley; maybe it was his oddly nice cologne or cans of redbull. or maybe it was the sex - you’re not really sure.
yangyang opens the door with one push and lets himself in, holding the door as you come in as well. he immediately removes his shoes and jacket before retreating to his nearby sofa bed, sitting himself upright against the headboard.
“did you hire an interior designer or something?” your mouth forms the shape of an ‘o’ at the sight of the completely different interior than the one you were so used to seeing. back then, the one-room-plus-one-bathroom space seemed cramped and unbelievably untidy, and the fact that his sofa bed lay only a few spaces from the kitchen used to gross you out.
now you feel like you’re almost littering the place by being there, seeing the windows lined with fresh curtains and his once messy desk compartmentalised into labelled drawers and organised folders. hell, his bed and kitchen were now separated with a floor-to-ceiling dark wood bookshelf, minimally stocked with decorative vases and his collection of video games.
“kun’s girlfriend-”
“kun has a girlfriend?”
“apparently,” the man continues with his sentence, “she has a youtube channel and decided to do an apartment makeover for one of her videos. she bought all of this for me.”
“honestly, i think you needed it.”
yangyang tsks, and you sit down beside him after taking off your heels and coat, one leg dangling off the edge and the other folded on the sofa bed.
“look at me,” you say, your fingers ghosting his chin and turning it towards you. 
his eyes are cast downwards, and you carefully examine his face. his right cheekbone and brow bone are bruised blue. there’s only a slight cut on the bridge of his nose, and you can tell there had been blood running out of his nose at the vivid traces of dried maroon on the bottom half of his face. although his face wasn’t the worst you had seen him, your thoughts are halted when you remember the image of him with an arm over his abdomen in the elevator, clutching it with a heavy breath.
“can i?” you look at his abdomen, pointing at the hem of his shirt. yangyang nods, his gaze focused on a random spot on the ceiling. 
when you lift up his shirt, it doesn’t take long to find a large patch of light blue and some swelling on the right side of his abdomen, spanning from the top of his ribs all the way down to his waist. yangyang purses his lips, “might need to get some ice for that.”
“do you have any?”
“freezer.”
you nod, immediately going to the freezer. in there, you find two ice packs, and beside the freezer, you find a wine bottle on the counter. you’re sure you’ve seen that at the sorority house..
“is this the bottle you stole?”
there’s a silence that creeps through the bookshelf, and you click your tongue in sarcastic disbelief. 
“should’ve hid it in your dresser,” you mumble, though still making sure he hears, “they could barge in here if they wanted to, so. just so you know.”
you can practically hear the corners of his mouth turn upwards at your statement, and it’s then that the air changes into something much more comfortable for the both of you. he lets out a laugh, a genuine one this time, and tells you he’ll hide the booze better as you pick up the ice. 
you make your way back to yangyang, fetching a cloth to wrap around the first ice pack on the way. as you pass the ice to yangyang, he leans into the back of the sofa, hissing at the feeling.
“do you mind if i take my shirt off?” he asks, already pulling at the hem of his black shirt.
you shake your head, giving him the ok to do so. 
“you can keep icing while i get the first aid kit.” you leave the sofa bed again, this time heading to the bathroom.
“it’s in the-”
“bathroom behind the mirror?” yangyang nods, and he spares you a thankful glance when you come back with the small satchel of medicine. it was actually your satchel from high school, and before you dated yangyang, it had been the bag where you put all your toiletries for travel. with it, you also take a small towel from his bathroom and lightly wet it.
once again, you let yourself onto yangyang’s sofa bed, sitting the same way you did previously. you rummage through the satchel, finding the same bandages, cotton buds, and antiseptic solution from six months ago. 
“these are old,” you mutter, glancing up at the man. he gives you a slow shrug and a deep breath, and you kneel beside him, taking the wet towel to wipe the dry blood off of his face. yangyang tries his best to stay still, though you can feel his muffled hisses and the sharp breaths he takes through his teeth. it sounds painful, and you know it stings. 
“can i?” you ask, motioning to his lap. when he nods, you climb onto his lap, straddling his thighs. you make sure not to sit down on him too much, keeping your weight on your knees instead. his hands go to your hips by habit, and though he pulls away at first, his hands come back when you take them from his sides and place them on your hips, remembering how he liked to hold you during times like this. you continue to wipe his face, noticing his tired eyes staring right up at you. 
“what are you looking at?” you ask absentmindedly, not really minding his gaze on you. yangyang only slightly shakes his head in response, and you see him opening his mouth to say something before closing it shortly after. you find yourself pausing at moments - whether it be to brush a few stray strands of hair away from his face or casually stare at his lips - and though you originally brushed them off by wiping the towel even slower, you think that he’s caught up with what you’re doing.
when you put the towel down, yangyang finally speaks.
“i miss you.”
it comes out like a quiet confession, his words thinly dissolving into the air like vapor. you almost ignore it, trying to bury his words into cotton balls soaked in antiseptic solution. though, the second you’re facing him, soaked cotton bud on cut, you realise you can’t. 
“there hasn’t been… anyone else?” you question, half continuing the conversation and half trying to distract him from the sting. you dab on the solution slowly, feeling his thighs tense up underneath you each time the cotton bud comes in contact with his skin. you feel his thumbs rubbing up and down your sides, as if trying to smooth out the pain from his face.
yangyang takes a heavy exhale when the wound is well sanitized, answering tiredly, “kind of. but in the end, it was only you.”
you don’t know why you’re letting your ex talk to you like this. but with his hands on your hips and your legs on either side of his thighs, you’re starting to forget about the party you’ve planned to go to all week, and now you’re focusing on the boy you’re suddenly met with almost two hours ago.
“i mean, it doesn’t change the fact that i’ve been sleeping around and everything,” he begins, “but i can’t seem to have her stay.”
you raise an eyebrow at the word her, making sure he gets your cue. 
“i slept with this girl for a few weeks - maybe like, seven?” he continues, “though, in the end, she started to be more.”
“did you-?”
“no, i just-” he pauses, “i couldn’t have her that close.”
“but you liked her?”
yangyang nods, and you ask, “so why?”
you break eye contact with him, taking a single band-aid from the satchel. when you place it on the cut, you feel his hands loosen away from your sides.
“isn’t it obvious? i’m afraid to fall in love. ‘cause what if it’s not reciprocated?”
your actions come to a halt. “i’m sorry.”
you feel guilt rise up your spine, feeling it for the way you broke his heart just six months ago. it seemed like he was barely over the breakup, and here you were, climbing onto his lap for lost comfort.
“you don’t have to be,” yangyang assures, “i like you more than i liked her.”
“yangyang…” you trail off, your voice getting softer as you move the satchel away from the two of you.
when your hands are finally unoccupied, yangyang takes them in his and puts them on his bare shoulders, and you have nowhere left to look other than into his eyes. you feel a weird rush in your stomach, the feeling so good yet so careful.
“i gotta stay high all the time to keep you off my mind,” yangyang mutters lowly. he has one hand holding the ice pack on his side and another behind your lower back, pulling you closer to him. slowly, your thumbs start thoroughly rubbing back and forth on the base of yangyang’s neck, and you look down to his chest, unable to keep eye contact. 
“i hope you don’t do that anymore,” you pause, “don’t stay high all the time.”
you don’t really know what you’re doing, but you know you can’t let go. 
the arm on his ice pack moves to ghost your chin in the same way you did earlier in the evening, and he whispers, “look at me.”
your faces are inches apart, and you don’t miss the little smirk on his face before your lips crash into his. 
he smiles into the kiss, his lips tasting of the metallic residue from his blood. his hands travel to the small of your back, letting the ice pack slide beside him on the pillows. gradually, the space between you and yangyang grows smaller, and before you know it, he’s nibbling on your bottom lip, asking for entry. you’re compliant, letting his tongue slip into your mouth as you pull yourself almost flush against him, your arms wrapped securely around the man.
it’s only when you accidentally grind against his crotch that you’re brought back to reality. yangyang lets out a light groan amidst the sounds of your lips, and you realise you’re giving him something he should be getting over.
“wait,” you pull away, panting, “are you going to be okay?”
he gives you a confused look, “what do you mean?”
“i mean, with the bruises and…” you trail off, and he isn’t having any of it.
“and what?”
“us.”
he takes a loose breath, “if this doesn’t mean anything to you, it’s not going to mean anything to me.”
“are you sure?”
“i stole expensive liquor with my whole chest and now you’re asking me if i’m sure?”
your words are decreased to a hum when he catches your lips in his, harder this time. well, that was quick. 
his hands are bunching up the hem of your dress, making it ride up your ass. you let your hips press into his crotch more often, the friction between his increasingly tented jeans and the thin fabric of your panties giving you something you’ve missed. it’s hotter than you had thought it would be, and you want to curse yourself for escalating the situation so quickly.
but, oh, it feels good.
it’s the sense of relief you feel when you realise you’re in old arms that already understand the shape of your movements and the frequency of your sounds. he still remembers the sweet spots on your neck, and one glance at you tells him he still remembers the panties you’re wearing tonight.
“ah, shit,” you sigh, feeling his fingers rub on your clit through your panties, your thighs slowly giving out and pressing more into his clothed crotch. the straps of your dress keep falling down your shoulders, and in no time you’re taking the one piece off, forgetting you hadn’t worn a bra underneath. you watch as yangyang’s facial expression turns cockier with every second his fingers play with you, a sly grin plastered on his face. his eyes immediately move to your bare chest this time, his free hand coming to take turns fondling with your breasts and playing with your nipples. for him, tonight is almost unbelievable, and it’s in the way you throw your head back and bite your lip, and the little sounds you make only egg him on.
“maybe seeing you like this was all i needed to get better,” he gasps, and you kiss him again as an attempt to wipe that smirk off his face. you take this time to unbuckle his belt and unzip his jeans, the tent of his boxers prominent as he slides them off underneath you. you feel the bulge against your upper thigh, and you palm him through his boxers, eliciting a louder groan from the man. you only smile in satisfaction.
“so needy,” yangyang chuckles as you move down from his lips, sucking random spots on his jaw and neck, leaving one open-mouthed kiss after another.
“look who’s talking,” you quip in between kisses, your lips moving down his collarbone and onto his chest. 
in a second, you get off him and tell him to lay down on his back. his shifts swiftly, visibly feeling more lust than pain in the moment. you hover over him to give him a quick peck on the lips, but that doesn’t stop him from tucking a strand of hair behind your ear before you move back down to the lower half of his torso. it’s just a strand of hair - you know that - but you hate the way he looks at you like you’re the only other person in the world. his eyes never leave your face, and you swear your cheeks are burning beet red.
“you’re pretty,” yangyang says all of a sudden as you’re kissing down his abdomen, your movements pausing from his words, reminded of all the times he’s told you in the past. despite your thoughts, you keep going, trying to act as if his words (and just about everything he did tonight) hadn’t just made your heart skip a beat. in no time, you reach his boxers, fingers playing with the waistband. he takes a heavy breath when you slide them off, his cock springing out fully erect.
you look at him, and then down, and then back at him again. you kiss him one more time as your hand lightly trails down his abdomen, your fingers ghosting around his shaft. he sighs.
when you pull away, you see his hand reach for your hair, already bunching it up as you move yourself lower down his body. you, however, push his hand away, “let me take care of this.”
“you have no idea what i wanna do to you after this,” yangyang sighs, and you feel him relax underneath you, his voice deep and laced with lust.
you hum in response, his words only riling you up for what’s to come.
and boy, did he know what was coming.
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“i thought you fell asleep,” you say, voice raspy from your nap. you wake up to yangyang getting himself a glass of water, noticing the ice pack he’s keeping to his bruised side. he’s got a new pair of boxers and mismatched socks, his hair now wet. he had taken a shower.
“i don’t sleep.”
“i mean, me neither, but that was so tiring.”
“is that a compliment?”
“shut- you know what? sure,” you croak from underneath the covers, keeping them wrapped around your bare chest.
“just saying, i was doing all the work,” you call out, earning a laugh from the man.
“you’re forgetting the last two rounds.”
“i said what i said,” you mutter, reaching for your phone on the nightstand to check the time: five thirty-six am. 
you figured it was early enough to drive to your dorm and early enough to reassure everyone that you had just gone to your dorm early, saying that you couldn’t stand violence, or something like that. it’s not entirely a lie.
after all, violence, stealing, and other stupid acts were the main reasons why you left yangyang in the first place. you remember you wanted to hate him for it. you never could.
“you can borrow my shirt? or is that too much-”
“sure,” you shrug, giving him a quiet thanks as you slip on your panties and a fresh loose tee from his dresser.
there’s a weird feeling you try to brush off. he’s stealing glances at you as you emerge from the bed, your presence against the kitchen counters making yangyang automatically take another mug from the cupboard - for you.
you sit yourself on the counter, oddly tracing the new marble patterning of the countertop. though you expect him to situate himself right in front of you, you see the man going to lean beside you, getting a small can of pringles on the way. he offers you a chip, and you take one before coming back to stare at the marble patterns on the countertop. you’re not sure what to say.
“you know, you remind me of someone i once knew.”
yangyang’s words make your head turn, curious and slightly taken aback through the crunching sound of the chips.
“who?”
“i don’t know.”
you tilt your head in confusion.
“there was a metaphor in there somewhere.” he hands you the can of chips and you take another one, humoured by his answer.
“i will say, though, it’s hard to ignore you,” he continues, “call me crazy or whatever - i swear i’m not an obsessed ex or anything.”
“no, i know you’re not crazy,” you reassure, reaching for another chip, “i just fucked my ex after he was beaten up by some of my friends. that’s crazy.”
yangyang appreciates your honesty. he remembers that most about you, and now that you’ve spent the night, he knows that you’re never coming back - it’s final this time. no amount of confessions or fights will ever let you come back to him, no matter how much he wanted it. he wants to tell you he wants you back, that he’ll be better. but he can tell you’ve made up your mind. you don’t need to hear him; for you, all you can hear is the crunching sounds of the food and the occasional dialogue between the two of you. it’s peaceful, you think, much more peaceful than any night in the past year.
“oh, i forgot to tell you this,” you begin as you fill your cup with water, “we were supposed to ice your face too, but we, uh, never got to do that.”
yangyang lets out a soft laugh, and he takes the ice pack from the freezer, switching it with the one he was currently holding to his abdomen. this time, the ice pack goes to his face, and he doesn’t even flinch when it comes in contact with his face.
“your face isn’t that bad anymore.”
“i told you,” he smiles, “i’m fast.”
you tell yourself you can’t stay too long in yangyang’s apartment when his glances start to erupt butterflies in your stomach. you find yourself staring at your feet all too much, and your hands start to crave the presence of his. 
though, you’re sure he feels the opposite. he looks content, a neutral smile plastered on his face as he ices his cheek in intervals. he’s still talkative as ever, and you let him go on about his friends and classes. he talks about how he’s planning to spend the winter interning at a startup company in seoul and the summer at dejun’s brother’s beach house with “everyone”. he even tells you that he had stolen the liquor for the sole reason that he wanted to piss off your sibling frat, knowing that there was going to be a party last night.
as you’re listening to him, you realise how much you used to laugh with him around. you swear he has some kind of way to make the edges of your mouth turn upwards with his crazy stories and cute facial expressions. it brings you back to when you first met him: you were both freshmen, having just moved out from your hometowns all the way to seoul. you thought he was the most interesting person ever, and he had ultimately been drawn to you since the first day of orientation where you had stood out during a team building game. it was a time where at seven pm you had just gotten his name, and by midnight your lips had already been acquainted with his.
you’ve gotten so used to seeing him as a selfish and irritating guy that the traces of your attraction to him had faded away. your relationship is as good as a half eaten snack stashed in the freezer for a day that never came; and when you do come back to it, you know that no matter how good the frozen bite is, the only option is to throw it away. it’s expired. or maybe both of you simply need closure. a clean “i like you, but it’s never going to work” or a classic “it’s not you, it’s me” would’ve been better than an ambiguous one night stand. but he fucked you anyways, and you’d be lying through your teeth if you said you regretted it.
“were you… surprised? when i came?” you ask slowly, mentally face palming yourself for asking him.
“i heard you were hanging out with that crowd but i never really thought any of this would’ve happened,” yangyang replies, “turns out you’re still kind of the same.”
“you too,” you say, “you’re still stupid in the smartest way.”
“i’ve never heard that one.”
“that means stop stealing.”
before yangyang can throw out a response to your words, your phone buzzes twice. when you turn your phone on, you find that it’s none other than mark lee, sending you a short “hey” with a following “did you get home safe last night?”
you turn your phone back off, keeping it face down on the countertop. yangyang seems to not pay attention to your phone, this time only reaching for another can of pringles from the cupboard. it’s right now that you feel even worse than when you left the party to tend to yangyang, and you don’t know if you would be able to see yangyang again with so much on your shoulders these days.
“hey, yangyang,” you begin, the sound of his name from your mouth different from last night, “i think i might have to leave pretty soon.”
there’s a short silence that ensues before he hums a quick okay through the crunching of his chips, telling you that you could bring his shirt home. you decline, telling him it would probably leave you freezing outside. you also note that your friends would notice a new shirt appearing overnight, as you remembered your friends had grown familiar to your wardrobe, which was much smaller in comparison to theirs. but you don’t tell him that.
you slip the dress from last night back on, and yangyang gives you a random granola bar when you’re putting your coat and heels on.
“wait for me!” he rushes through his dresser, grabbing a pair of basketball shorts and a hoodie and slipping them on at what seemed like lightning speed. you stand by the doorway, zipping your coat up to your neck, the contents of your purse double checked. 
you feel the quiet chill of the city rush through your hair as soon as you’re out the door. the hallway is once again filled with humorous banter and silence, and you can tell that yangyang’s back in health with lighter bruises left to heal. the ride down to the parking lot was much shorter than you remembered, and it leaves a sweet taste in your mouth when he presses all the buttons on the elevator just as you two exit - you know, just for fun.
the parking lot is empty as usual for a saturday morning, and you take the time to wander around the grey building. its walls are open, leaving room for the cold and the fog to cover up the faint view of the city. everything in the city is big and bustling, but you only feel a calmness amongst the dull cement.
“it’s just a parking lot,” yangyang mutters, hands stuffed in his hoodie pockets. he smiles at the eye roll you give him in response, nonetheless enjoying the way you’re staying for just a little bit longer.
“oh, by the way,” you begin as the both of you near your car, “what are you going to do with the liquor?”
yangyang folds his arms and cocks his head to the side, “dejun’s beach house?”
when you start laughing discreetly, his eyebrows start to raise, “wait, you’re not going to snitch on us, are you?”
you shake your head as you unlock your car from a few steps away. it makes a small bleep sound, and you put your purse in the passenger’s seat of the car, yangyang following you as you walk to the other side of the car for the driver’s seat. 
you find yourself leaning against the door instead of opening it, trying to keep a conversation you know won’t last. eventually, you opt for a goodbye hug. you think it’s the appropriate amount of sweet, with his hands on your waist and your arms around his back, the thick material of his hoodie and your coat warming you up. 
you’re sure you had stayed in the hug for a little too long, but you’re sure you’re never going to let yourself see him again, so you want to compensate. 
apparently for him, a hug wasn’t quite enough compensation.
as soon as you two pull away from the hug, you find your lips on his. but it’s not greedy or hot, not a sweet confession or a beg to stay. it’s a goodbye, and you two are well aware of that.
he doesn’t hold you tight by the waist or smile into the kiss, and your lips don’t press onto his as hard as they did last night. it’s just long and gentle, leaving the two of you satisfied at the end.
you lick your lips once before you enter the driver’s seat of the car, turning the engine on to go. rolling the windows down, you tell him, “have fun at dejun’s!” and he replies with “have fun with mark lee!”
when your laughs die down, you look him in the eye one last time, and tell him - for real this time, without any shouting or door-slamming or swearing - goodbye. you tell him you had a great time, remind him to keep icing his bruises for twenty-minute intervals, but you never tell him you’ll see him again. he nods and smiles at you with a smile that you just realised you’d miss, and he eyes you with hazel circles and high cheeks, his dark hair barely dried from the shower. he’s handsome. 
“we’ve said bye, like, twice now,” he points out, and you unbuckle and buckle your seatbelt in slight embarrassment.
“okay, i’m really going then,” you wave, pushing the window back up. you hit the gas, moving forward, and you change the gears. you see yangyang get smaller and smaller in your rearview mirror, and as much as you’d like to hit the brakes right then and there, you know that’s not an option.
before you know it, you’re gone.
as you exit the lot, alone now, you let out a tight exhale. you think about him, and you know you’ll keep thinking about him in ways that you might not be thinking about others. though, there’s a small wave of shame that echoes through your pride from last night, and you try to swallow it down your gut because you promise it’ll never happen again. hell, what would the other girls think if they knew you dated, and even recently slept with, liu yangyang? you don’t want to imagine it.
you’re praying he doesn’t talk about you because you know you won’t talk about him - you can’t. you tell yourself he was a freshman year affair, that you were just touch-starved and lonely last night. it’s easy to come back to yangyang, yes, and he knows you well enough to make you feel no need to walk on eggshells, but things are different now. maybe you might need to keep walking on eggshells, but you know it’s not for longer. these people - your sorority, the frat - they like you. they think you’re funny and charming and mark lee wants to ask you out (albeit he might only want to fuck, but there’s no harm in fucking mark lee), so why go back to yangyang? the man steals and gets himself into shitty situations, and though he cooks good food and tells you the funniest jokes, he’s not who you need. 
you’ll get over yangyang, you say quietly, a whisper into the air like a sinful confession from your lips. you hate the way it sounds, like you’re finally agreeing that your feelings for him lingered even in the months you were away. you want to scold yourself, are you happy now? and slap yourself because you’ve just risked newfound friendship for your ex. but what’s happened has happened. 
the only way to look is ahead, and though it’s still foggy in the mornings, you hope you can leave him behind. you still like him, so what? feelings fade. fake it until you make it. you don’t hate it, anyways. you like your new crowd, and they just happened to hate yangyang. at one point, you thought you did too. 
and even though you feel your tears prickle in the corners of your eyes, hot beads falling down your cheek, you keep your chin up high. just focus on the drive home, and life will finally be back to normal. at home you can look forward to your hungover roommate, a warm bath, a fresh change of clothes, and maybe you could even reply to that text from mark lee. you’ll forget about yangyang soon.
your tears start to dry. with a slight sob, your chest holds you up, eyes still on the road, and you keep driving. and it’s enough to decide that, to you, he is only stolen liquor.
300 notes · View notes
reidswritings · a year ago
Text
lay me gently
word count; 4.9k
warnings; 6x18 spoilers (but just the end of it), drug usage, overdoses, medical talk, curse words ,,,, and i think thats ittttt
author’s note; welp this took foreverrrr for me to write because i was worried i didn't do it justice. but i guess im pretty okay with how it turned out!! so i hope you enjoy!! also italics are flashbacks!!
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Y/N reaches for him. She reaches for him to try and make it better, to try and make sure he isn’t going to break into a million pieces right in front of her. She reaches for him because it makes her feel better. She reaches for him but his hands stop her, larger ones wrapping around the smaller ones. He has a rough grip on her— tough, but not hard enough to leave a mark or hurt the pretty girl. No, he’d never hurt his Pretty Girl. His grip was solid as if he was holding her to him; like if he let her loose she would drift away. 
His voice comes then, wrecked, “Y/N, please.” It’s a cry for help and it breaks her heart, she decides as he continues, “Please, don’t make this into something it’s not. Stop, Y/N, stop making this a thing; I’m not sad. I’m fine.”
He was not fine, but she conceded. That was the last time she saw him; that was three weeks ago. Well, not the last time she saw him, but definitely the last time she spoke to him. The last time she heard his silky smooth voice, the last time she saw the lovely brown eyes that always had a silly undertone to them. The last time she watched his kissable lips as they moved forming the words she didn’t want to hear. She missed him, she missed him more than she knew possible. 
She knew something had happened, but she didn’t know all the details; he never gave her the full story. She often thinks back to the night before that last one— the one where her boy ran away from her. To the one that changed everything. To the one that was the beginning of the end. 
A knock at her door had her dropping the books she was carrying, letting them fall to the floor in a unforgiving heap, loose papers falling from in-between pages— she knew if Spencer had seen, he would be rather disgruntled and scoop them up and place them back in their rightful place before doing anything. 
Faster than she could fathom, her feet were rushing her to the wood, pulling it open. She knew he was coming, JJ had called— said it was a bad case, said that they had lost a good friend, said that Spencer had lost it. She had said that he was wrecked. 
JJ was no where near correct—yes, he was in fact wrecked, but the boy Y/N was staring at was not Spencer Reid. This was someone else. Someone she couldn’t recognize; someone she had no business knowing. Someone she didn’t want to know, frankly. 
The boy in front of her was barely holding himself together. It looked like he was having trouble standing, like he was going to fall into a pile any second; his hand was holding onto the wood frame, knuckles white. His face—the once beautiful, laugher filled face—was tuning a sickly shade of green. The girl before him was worried he was going to vomit, though that would be the least of her worries. Spencer let out an ugly sob, arguably the worst thing she had ever heard. Her heart broke for him, she moved to touch him and he jerked out of his daze, now looking the worried girl in her eyes. 
“Em— Emily, she— she’s gone. Y/N, I can’t— I can’t, I didn’t— I never said goodbye.” His hand dropped from the door and he swayed, she reached for him again. He pulled away, moving past her into the dimly lit foyer. If they were in a different scene, she would admire the yellow cast that was turning her Pretty Boy into an even more beautiful version of himself. She was so in love with him, it hurt somedays. His hands were as wild as his words, as wild as his eyes; Y/N didn’t recognize the man in front of her. He was manic and she was panicking. 
“Spence,” she began, not knowing where to go from there. She let the words flow, letting her instincts take over. “Spencer, hey, it’s okay. It’s gonna be okay, just take a breath. It’s gonna be alright. Calm down—”
“Calm down?” The manic boy whirled on her, eyes wide and wild. His voice sounded just like it always did, fast and smooth. However, this time, it held undertones of anger, sadness and denial. It was like he wanted to turn back time, wanted to forget that she was really gone, that he would never speak another word to his good friend. “You want me to calm down? Y/N, I-I don’t even know how to do that right now. Everything feels so. . .”
He had paused, not knowing how to explain his feelings. He couldn’t put it to words, she could though. She supplied him with the words, “Fuzzy?” 
He paused then, letting his breathing slow, “Y-Yeah.” The boy’s breath hitched again and Y/N hoped he wouldn’t launch himself into a panic attack. He nodded, rubbing his eyes with his long fingers, hard. “I don’t know what’s real. Everything is happening so fast; it feels like I’m in slow motion and everything is just— everything is just rushing by. Y/N, what do I do?”
Y/N’s mind was blank. Y/N’s mind was blank and she hated it. She hated it more than she’s ever hated anything in her whole life. She hated that she didn’t know what to say, how to help him. Her mouth opened and closed a few times, no words escaping her lips. So, instead, she moved forward and wrapped him in her arms and said, “It’s gonna be okay. I’m right here for you.” 
He took comfort in her arms, and for a moment, just a moment, he forgot where he was and what was happening. He forgot that one of his best friends had just died. Upon remembering, he jerked away from the girl he had begun to fall in love with. He pushed away, closing his arms around his body; closing himself off from the world— from her. 
In his disheveled mind and blurry eyes he saw his neighbor, his girl, his pretty love, open her mouth presumably to comfort him again. But he didn’t want it. He didn’t want anything from her, from anyone. He held a hand up effectively shutting her up; he took the opportunity to take his exit. 
The boy practically ran as he left in his hurry; the door slamming in to the wall, leaving a mark— not that Y/N cared at the moment. Her breath was in her throat, watching him leave her apartment and rush into his own across the hall. She felt her lips move, saying his name in a plea. A plea to let her help, to let her in. A plea for him to not shut her out. 
But all she was met with was the door slamming and the lock sounding. 
That was almost three weeks ago. Three weeks of forbidden glances and almost words. Every time he had seen her turn the corner to their adjacent doors, he would turn the other way, walk back into his one bedroom, he’d take the stairs or the elevator— just to avoid talking to her. He avoided talking to her because he knew. He knew she would see right through him; he knew that she could read him better than the seven profilers that he called his family. She was better than the best; she was better than the BAU, and that was saying a fucking lot. 
She saw it on his face; she saw the pain and frustration. She saw the internal fight; she saw it all and she just wished he’d let her in. She saw it for weeks. For three fucking weeks she saw the way he hid within himself and withered away. She wondered what it was; she wondered what he was doing to himself. 
She wished he’d talk to her. Open up to her. Share his pain with her. She wished that she could have her boy back. There was one day that really bothered her; it was just another day of the week, a boring Wednesday. It was just another day of coming home and hoping not to run into Spencer Reid; she was beginning to break with each passing look. She wasn’t sure how much longer she could handle the stranger facade, the cold shoulder, the longing for each other. It was too much. 
Against her hopes, she did in fact run into the handsome man. He was standing in front of his door, a duffle at his feet and his messenger bag slung across his body. He looked tired— more tired than she had seen him in the passing weeks (it made sense that he stood there. he must’ve been on a case, she hadn’t seen him in a few days). His hands were fumbling, shaking, with his keys before sticking them in. He just barely turned the key, hadn’t even heard it unlock yet. 
His hair was unruly and Y/N wished she could just. . .  run her fingers though it and fix it, like she used to. His eyes were bloodshot and lidded, fighting to stay open. Y/N took note that he looked like he was swaying, like he was about to fall asleep. Like he was dead on his feet. He looked pale, sick; almost like he was getting over a cold, but Y/N knew better. She knew better. This wasn’t a cold. Y/N had stopped at the end of the hallway; a deer caught in headlights. Spencer had heard her shoes come to a stop and he turned; another deer, another car. 
He coughed, wiped his nose and said, “Y-Y/N?” 
The boy swayed some more, hand flying out in front to steady himself. He heard her gasp and his once clouded mind became sharp. she knows. she knows. she knows. she knows. she knows. she—
“Spencer?” It was simple. That was it, one word, his name, and he was running into his apartment after struggling to unlock it for a few seconds (ones that really felt more like hours). She didn’t sleep that night. Her mind was too plagued with thoughts of Spencer Reid. She knew if she did try and sleep she would fall asleep only to be woken by her anxiety surrounding the Pretty Boy. 
Y/N wasn’t dumb. No, in fact, Spencer often said she was one of the smartest people he knew and that meant a lot considering that he worked with seven brilliant minds, as well as being a certified genius. She knew what was happening to the boy across the hall. That Wednesday confrontation had confirmed it for her. She knew. 
She knew and she was planning on having a one on one intervention. She would’ve asked his friends to be there too but she had heard (from Spencer) that they weren’t very present the first time he had this problem— so here she was, on her own. That was what brought her to his door, she had knocked only to be met with silence. She knew he was home, she knew he was in there. Being neighbors with a guy who you’re simultaneously in love with and worried about gives you a lot of perks— one of them knowing where he is at all times, in the most non-stalkerish way ever. 
She knocked again. Silence again. She hoped he was just ignoring her. She hoped that he was just in the shower and hadn’t heard either knocks. She hoped that he was doing anything other than the intrusive thoughts her mind was throwing at her. She hoped, she hoped, she hoped. Y/N knew what she had to do. Spencer had given her a key to his place—for emergencies. She knew that it was an invasion of his privacy, but she had to know. She had to see him; had to see that he was alright. She had to. So, with her heart in her throat, threatening to jump from her body any second, she put the key in the lock and twisted, pushing the heavy door open. 
And god damn it, she wished she would’ve poked her nose in sooner, because slumped on the couch was a very drugged up version Spencer Reid. She would’ve given anything, everything, to not have to have him in this pain, to not have him dealing with this. Her heart stopped, upon seeing the unmoving form, and she wanted to die. 
There sat (sat being a loose word) Spencer, his usually buttoned shirt was laying open, showing his uncharacteristically toned stomach. The sleeve that was on his left arm was rolled up, his rubber tourniquet tightly on his upper arm and there were a few track marks in the crook of his elbow. His left hand was loosely balled into a fist and his right held a needle that was more than likely in his arms minutes before. 
Y/N was in shock. She couldn’t move, couldn’t take her eyes off the sight in front of her. The boy who she had come to love was no longer present. The usually Pretty Boy’s head was leaning on the back of the ratty couch, eyes barely opened and unfocused. His long hair was matted to his forehead in sweat. His breathing was shallow and coming out in rough puffs; she could see how much he was struggling with the task. The neighbor girl was worried that he would stop completely if she didn’t do something. 
She moved forward quickly, her hands pulling at the rubber, throwing it on the ground. Her hands moved to his face, cupping his head. Her fingers expertly wiped at the sweat, moving it off his skin. “Spence? Hey, Spencer, can you hear me?”
His unfocused eyes landed on her, blinking slowly a few times—too slowly— and his mouth opened and his brows furrowed slightly. “Wha— what’s hap’nin’? Y-Y/N?”
He moved weakly against her, pulling his face away and then his arms. He tried to push her away, fight her, but she was significantly stronger than him. In another life, Spencer would’ve been embarrassed— would’ve thought it was off putting that the girl he liked could easily over power him. But alas, its not and she is. He grunted out against her, whining; he felt limp against the sofa again, eyes unfocused and confused— too tired to move, to fight her. His body was defying him, giving up. 
“S-Spencer?” With no response, she pulled out her phone— a moment of clarity. She could do this. She could do this. She could do this. Calling the emergency team was a hard thing to do, explaining what happened, who he was, where they were— it was hard, but what was harder was seeing him be placed on a stretcher and loaded into the back of an ambulance. The hardest thing, though, was not being able to go with the brown eyed Pretty Boy. 
If you asked her, years from now, what she remembered from that night she’d always say watching the love of your life be pulled away from you with no guarantee that you’ll see them again is the worst pain imaginable and I’d never wish it on my worst enemy.
The lovely people that came to Spencer’s rescue had told her that she unfortunately wasn’t allowed in the back of the rig— something having to do with regulations and legal things. She didn’t argue, she didn’t have the energy to. The girl, who was suffering the effects of shock, pulled out her phone again. She knew Spencer wouldn’t have wanted her to, but she didn’t know what else to do and he wasn’t there to stop her. She let her fingers dial the number that just happened to call her three weeks earlier. 
The voice on the other side answered quickly, a cheery tone to it. Y/N distantly wished that she could also share that feeling— she wished she didn’t have to rip the happiness away from the beautiful blonde she had come to know. She wished that JJ didn’t have to listen to the words about to spill from her lips. Y/N wished that Spencer never stuck the needle in his arm. She wished that things were different. She wished and wished and wished until her head hurt. 
JJ met her at the hospital sans Will and her boys— probably a good idea on her part. Especially considering the state that Y/N was in. The usually posed girl was now disheveled, her hair was sticking up unnaturally (from pulling at it in anger, confusion, sadness— all of the emotions, really), her eyes were puffy from crying and JJ could tell that the girl in front of her was in another world. Y/N was sitting in one of the uncomfortable chairs provided by the hospital and her leg was bouncing at an alarming speed. JJ knew she needed to get Y/N’s mind off the boy; she needed to do something.
The hospital was noisy yet also controlled. It was like everyone who was talking was miles away, that they were trying to keep their voices down in fear that she would burst and lose it. 
“Y/N?” It was soft, Y/N realized. She recognized the tone and connected it to how Spencer usually addressed her. Logically, her mind knew it was not Spencer and that it was a girl’s voice that had began but her heart and lips knew otherwise. 
“Spencer?” Full of tears and hope, Y/N’s voice called out first, just as soft. Then her eyes moved up, hoping to see the curly haired boy, and were (unfortunately) met with her pretty blonde friend who was squatting in front of her. She was hovering— Y/N didn’t like that. She felt closed in but she didn’t have the heart (or the energy) to tell her to give her some space. 
JJ could see the hope drain from the girl’s body. “Just me, sorry.” The blonde patted Y/N’s knee before taking the seat next to her. “How you doing?”
Anger. That was what flowed through Y/N’s veins at the question. “How am I doing? I don’t know, JJ. How do you think? I just found the guy I love passed out, on the brink of an overdose! All because you guys couldn’t—”
She cut herself off with a gasp; she took it too far, she knew that. She also knew that it wasn’t anyone’s fault— no one except Spencer’s. She knew that. She was just so scared for her boy.
The girl next to her was taken aback; JJ’s mouth hung open, eyes wide. She opened and closed her mouth a few times, trying to say something— anything. JJ knew it wasn’t her fault, she knew that. She wasn’t the one that gave him the drugs, she didn’t encourage him to take them. Maybe Y/N was right though, she wasn’t there for him like she should’ve been. She left him to grieve on his own. She may not have encouraged him but she sure as hell was at fault. She may not have stuck the needle in the boy’s vein, but she might as well have told him to do so. 
JJ’s mouth opened again, words soft and regretful, “Y/N, I am so sorry. You’re right, I should’ve been there for him. I don’t—”
Y/N took a breath, calming herself, “No, JJ, I-I’m sorry. I don’t know where that came from. I know it’s not your fault. Spencer did this to himself.” 
The girls waited together in silence after that. The only sound being the many people rushing around the building and the small conversations of the people around the two girls and the heavy breathing from the aforementioned women. They comforted each other— not with words but rather with their body language. Y/N and Jennifer held hands, willing the other to stay calm, until a doctor approached them, solemn look on her face. Both girls stood up, hand in hand. Y/N’s nerves skyrocketed, she felt like she was going to pass out. If the doctor didn’t give her any good news, she was sure she would. Her thoughts were moving a mile a minute and she was willing the doctor to speak, tell them what happened, tell them something good.
Why wasn’t she talking? Why is she looking at her like that? Why won’t she stop smiling like that? Why won’t she tell her what’s happening?
“Y/N,” The doctor, who had once given her name but was now forgotten, began before her eyes looked between the blonde agent next to her and then to Y/N. “Can we talk in private?”
Private? Oh god. Oh god. Oh god, that’s not good. Private is never good. “Uh— You can say in in front of her. It’s okay.”
A sigh came from the doctor’s lips, hands folding in front of her. “Y/N, are you sure?”
“Yes—!” A sigh from Y/N. A beat passed and then she tried again, softer this time, “Yes, please, just tell me what’s happening.”
“Okay. . . Well, when you brought Mr Reid—”
“Doctor Reid—” Both horrified girls corrected simultaneously. It wasn’t important, they knew that. Of course they knew that. It was important to the bedridden boy though, and they knew he’d correct the doctor if he was here. So, they did what Spencer would do and corrected her. 
Another sigh from the woman in the scrubs, “When we brought Doctor Reid in, he was experiencing an overdose, as I’m sure you know. He was also having trouble breathing and had a seizure while on the way in.” 
The doctor paused, waiting to see if either girl had any questions. Neither did, but both felt their hearts stopped. Y/N felt the tears return to her eyes, she felt like she needed a minute. The broken girl let her hand slip away from the blonde’s and sat back down in the dirty chair. She placed her head in her hands and did some breathing exercises. She distantly heard the woman continue talking, “We were able to stable him and he’s resting now. He might be a little groggy but you can probably take him home in a bit. I can take one of you to see him, if you’d like.”
Y/N’s body and mind sharpened at that. She could see him? He was fine? She felt JJ’s presence next to her again, a hand was placed on her back, rubbing. “You should go first.”
“What about you?”
She smiled a soft smile (one that she was sure was taught to her by Spencer), eyes wet, “I’ll check in with him later. Go ahead.” The young girl didn’t need another word before she was up out of her seat, following the doctor. Her heartbeat was in her ears; she wondered if the woman next to her could hear it. It didn’t matter, she ultimately decided. They stopped in front of a half closed door; the doctor opening it to let the girl in. She must’ve expected her to rush in, because she started to swing the door shut. But Y/N was frozen, eyes locked with the Pretty Boy, that is until the door almost hit her. The girl mumbled a small, sorry before making her way fully into the room. 
The boy she missed so much was leaning back into the bed, his arms at his sides— he looked uncomfortable. He was awake and that surprised Y/N; she had half expected him to be asleep. She wasn’t ready to confront the boy yet. His eyes watched her move around the room; she was pacing, hands shaking the nerves out. He could see that she was wrecked and he knew he was the cause. He wanted to turn back time, he wanted to make sure she never had to deal with him like this. The boy opened his mouth then closed it. He didn’t know how to make it better. He wished he did, but he really didn’t. 
Maybe Emily was right, he thought and his heart broke for his lost friend all over again, my genius IQ really does get slashed to 60 when I’m looking at a pretty girl. 
Y/N, after a few minutes, came to a rough stop and turned to him, a fire in her eyes. An emotion that he had never seen directed at him before— it scared him. Her voice came then, angry and wrecked, “Spencer Reid—! What— Why?!”
He had no answer for her, so he just slowly lifted his hands in a shrug and said, “I’m sorry.”
She let out a sigh and then laughed bitterly, “You’re sorry? Spencer, I-I don’t even know where to begin. . . you could’ve talked to me, you know?”
A cough and a sniff, then another sigh. He knew. “I know.”
“I was so worried. Spence, I— I thought you were gonna die. Do you want to die, Spencer— is that it? You were trying to kill yourself?”
“No!” It was rushed and harsh. It hurt his throat causing him to clear it before speaking again, “No, I don’t want to die, Y/N. It was an accident, ‘m not suicidal.” The boy threw his head back against his pillow in anger. He wished that she could just know why he needed the release. It made sense to him; he wanted her to understand.
“God!” She threw her hands out, angry, “Spencer, fuck. An accident?! You accidentally shot up? You accidentally got yourself addicted to Dilaudid again? God, Spence, seriously?” 
 She was angry, Spencer knew that. She had every right to be, but he was also feeling attacked. He was just so, so tired and irritated. He needed a minute, he needed a breath and Y/N asking him all these questions was not helping him whatsoever. “What do you want from me?!”
The angry girl was taken aback and it showed. Her whole body language changed, she took a few discombobulated steps backward as if she had been pushed and her mouth fell open at the question. Spencer immediately felt horrible— he wanted to take it back but it was too late. The words had already been said. 
“What do I want?” The words were soft, a tone of hurt to them and despite himself, Spencer nodded. “Spence, I wanted you to talk to me. I wanted you to not shut me out! I didn’t want this; I didn’t want you to fucking overdose because you’re too stubborn to talk to me. Spencer I—”
Tears filled his eyes as he asked, “What? You what?”
“Spencer. . . I-I love you, you know that. Spence, you know that. I know you do.” The boy’s tears fell as he nodded. His words were caught in his throat. He sniffed, he did know. His heart fluttered at the confession. They weren’t official; they hadn’t had the talk. They were just two kids dumb in love. She continued, heart heavy. “But I swear to god, Spence, if you keep down this path you will loose me. I will not be apart of this; I will not watch you kill yourself.”
A beat of silence passed. Then he spoke. It was soft and small, a tone of anxiety accompanied it. “You’ll leave?”
“Don’t make me the bad guy, Spence,” She grunted out, a nervous hand running through her hair. 
“Y/N— I-I don’t even— I don’t know what you want me to say.” The broken boy admitted, trying to sit up. Y/N moved forward, sitting next to his legs. She grabbed ahold of one of his hands, lacing their fingers together. 
“I want you to tell me you’ll stop. Spencer, I want you to tell me I won’t find you like— like that again.” The girl was looking down, away from Spencer, but he knew she was crying. He knew her too well. He knew that this was breaking her. But he had to say it, even if it would break her heart.
“I don’t know if I can.” He cried, hand squeezing hers. She met his eyes then. 
“Spencer, please.” She knew it was selfish of her to ask, but she couldn’t. She couldn’t imagine a world with out him. 
“I don’t think I’m strong enough, Y/N/N.” 
“You are. You are, I promise.” She nodded at him, hope flooding her veins. “And I’ll be there when it gets too hard.”
She felt him squeeze her hand again before he spoke, fears lacing his wrecked voice, “You will?”
“I will, Spencer. I promise. I just need you to try. Just try and I’ll help with the rest.”
The boy nodded, tears falling from his beautiful brown eyes— the ones that Y/N was more than in love with.
She didn’t lie that night; no, she stuck with him throughout it all. She was there when the cravings got so bad that he was in physical pain and tears stung his eyes. She was there for him when he woke up from nightmares. She was there to rub his back when he vomited all his food into the toilet and when he was so frustrated because he couldn’t be trusted to hold a glass, let alone his gun, before it slipped through his weak fingers. She was there when he wanted to die and when he was so uncomfortable that all he did was cry in her arms. She was there for it all. She had kept her promise and stayed there for it all— just like he would’ve if the roles were reversed. 
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unhealthyfanobsession · 7 months ago
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How would you compare the ACOTAR ships to TVD ships? Some people say Feysand is like Delena.
This is SUCH A FUN ASK!! Don’t mind if I do! I’m going to compare the general dynamic of the characters as well as archetype/ story parallels.
This is a crossover post so SPOILERS FOR BOTH ACOTAR AND TVD BELOW.
Stefan-Elena-Damon = Tamlin-Feyre-Rhysand
I don’t mean to do Stefan dirty like this, but the parallels are really undeniable. Stefan and Tamlin both were the kind, caring, magical first introduction to this whole new world for Feyre/Elena. They fell in love with them easily and it was a pure, beautiful love but while they were in it there were darker (Damon and Rhys) forces pulling them in another direction. Both women loved these men SO fiercely and sacrificed for that love. Feyre fought the 3 trials with Amarantha where she ended up being helped by Rhys. Elena went looking for Stefan in his ripper days even though Klaus would kill her if he found her and she was helped by Damon. Both of them fought for this love but then once they had it back... either they or the man or both had changed too much from the trauma and their relationship simply couldn’t work anymore.
I totally agree with the Feysand= Delena point because I think they are both relationships that are very “this person over everyone else no matter what” and that is romantic, but at we see, can also be overbearing/toxic at times. They both do awful things that the heroine has to later learn their motives for and forgive them for. Damon “kills” Jeremy and tries to compel Elena to kiss him early on. He feeds Elena his blood against her will when Klaus might kill her but then he ultimately makes it right through self sacrificing hero acts. Rhys does... everything he did under the mountain and he doesn’t tell Feyre she’s his mate, but then he helps her heal after Tamlin and ultimately saves Prythian. Both characters are also haunted by an abusive relationship- Rhysand a sexually abusive relationship with Amarantha that he endured for 49 years and Damon and emotionally abusive/manipulative relationship with Katherine that defined his life for 150 years.
Damon has a quote in season 4 that I think really describes both couples. He says: “if you’re going to be bad, be bad with a purpose. Otherwise you just aren’t worth forgiving.”
Klaroline = Nessian
This one is more based on character interactions and a bit of my own bias. I struggled to find a TRUE nessian parallel couple but I think Klaroline is the closest for a number of reasons. Largely because Caroline and Nesta are very similar characters. Both start off as shallow, superficial mean girls who we get an early glimpse of their heart (Caroline crying and her I’m never the one monologue and Nesta being on Feyre’s side when she returns in ACOTAR) who then get changed into something they never wanted to be and it helps them grow and OWN THEIR P O W E R. Even Caroline’s stint as emotionless mess after her mom’s death parallels Nesta’s destructive actions after losing her father.
Cassian and Klaus both have the whole “I’m a worthless bastard that no one wants and I killed my father but I am STRONGER THAN EVERYONE so you can’t hurt me even though I’m really just a soft boi who needs love” vibe going on.
And the CHASE. That’s the biggest parallel here. These are both couples where this powerful man walked in and said “that one” re the beautiful woman who hated them and then did not give up. But with both of them it’s a gentle chase. Klaus knows that Caroline is constantly trying to trick him but he doesn’t care because he just wants to spend time with her and whenever she is in danger he is there on the DOUBLE and does things he doesn’t want to do for her (ex- graduation, hiding/ protecting Stefan in season 6). Cassian knows that Nesta is going through a hard time after ACOMAF and he flies up to the House of Wind every damn day to see her even when she pushes him away and he instantly goes into fierce general I will kill mode if anyone threatens Nesta. Also both couples are prone to lashing out at each other (Caroline “terrible people” line; Klaus with his biting. Cassian “everyone hates you”; Nesta with her well... being Nesta LOL)
Bonus points for pet names and relentless teasing when they aren’t trying to kill each other.
Quote for them is when Caroline tells Klaus “anyone capable of love, is capable of being saved” I think that also has big Cassian @ Nesta in ACOSF energy.
(PS I did consider Nessian being Steroline but 1. I fucking hate that ship and 2. Stefan was never there for Caroline during the hard times which is the anti Cassian AND I think the for me it’s always you vibe just fits the intensity of Nessian better)
Kennett = Elriel
I’m not tagging this Elriel so don’t COME FOR ME. In my opinion, these are both ships that had some fun ~tension~ and are kinda sexy/enticing. Kol with his love of witches and their little graduation ghost adventure and Azriel with his attraction to Elain and saving her from Hybern. BUT ultimately I think the most interesting thing about these ships was their convenience. I think fans liked to put Bonnie with Kol in fanfics because it was an easy way to make Bonnie understand Elena and Caroline’s choice for a dark boi and it was just convenient. Likewise I think that Elriel is convenient in writing to simply throw Elain with the other bat brother and tie everything up in a neat little ribbon.
Mabekah= Elucien
In this comparison Rebekah is Lucien and Matt is Elain. This was a couple where one person started off with bad motives (Rebekah wanting to kill Matt at the ball; Lucien plotting with Hybern) but they have genuine feelings for the person once they get to know/are mated to them and you see that person is a much more complicated character than we previously saw. Rebekah and Lucien are both lost, lonely, and struggling to find where they fit in while Matt and Elain are both struggling but ultimately the much beloved “sweet” character who everyone is willing to die to protect. At first the sweet character avoids the villain character like the plague, but eventually things turn around and they see past their previous bad actions.
BonEnzo= Gwynriel
Talk about characters who have some trauma to heal together. Enzo was literally kept in a cage by the Whitmore’s for 50 years and abused much like Azriel in his dungeon. Gwyn has had to make unspeakable decisions in order to protect the greater good and suffer the horrible consequences for it- losing her twin to protect those children much like how Bonnie lost her grams to protect Stefan and Elena. Enzo started off interested in Caroline (like Azriel and Elain) and getting over an obsession with Lilly (Azriel and Mor) but was ultimately drawn to Bonnie for her strength, determination, and good heart despite everything she had been through. These are really all just characters that have been through the RINGER and need to find healing in each other’s arms but would never admit that’s what they are doing so it just happens slowly and one day they realize things don’t hurt as much anymore.
AND FINALLY:
Damon and Caroline= Nesta and Tomas
You know why. Damon doesn’t get off that easy just because he “changed”. He abused Caroline and I won’t be pretending in 2021 that he didn’t.
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meimae · 5 months ago
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Look at me, not being on time for my April Immersion Overview as is the usual. (・w・;
First, little blog updates to get out of the way:
I reached 100 followers! Got an influx of people checking out my 1 year update post, and got plenty of nice compliments on my data collection.
For those of you wondering just why I keep up with so much data, it's mostly because it can get really hard to notice how much you're improving in a language especially with something like immersion learning that for people who don't get it feels like a waste of time or a time sink.
Graphs showing consistency, improvement in reading speed, increasing vocabulary counts, and generally just seeing numbers grow turns language learning more fun and motivating for me, and if as a bonus, it encourages someone to try immersion learning then that would be cool!
With that said, whether you're here as a fellow language learner, graphs enthusiast (笑), or just want some Japanese media recommendations, ようこそ! 
Also, made a tiny DP change - it’s チト from 少女週末旅行. Pretty sure it’s the first manga series I ever finished in Japanese (not the first one I started since ちはやふる is still ongoing), and I always felt a bit of a ☆connection☆ with  her - between her book-loving personality and being a no-nonsense kind of person, there was no way for me not to enjoy her character. Great beginner anime/manga if you’re not into most beginner recommendations.
-☆-
April has been a pretty good immersion month, as I was able to dip my toes in a variety of media. A bit competitive, too! The club I joined has been pulling all the stops to get to the Top 20 Immersion Leaderboard in it’s first month. I was able to snag the 9th spot among a bunch of people of different comprehension levels (the majority being N1+ since they’re able to comprehend much more and in turn stand longer immersion hours). Lots of tiny complaints though of potential “whitenoising” content (”listening” and “reading” but not comprehending very well just to get a large number to post), but really what can you do? People lie all the time on the internet. Besides, it’s internet points that doesn’t do anything beyond being a little shiny I guess.
Enough about that, let’s get into the nitty-gritty details you came here for!
ANIME
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フルーツバスケット
Might need to rewatch this one. Felt like I didn’t connect with the characters the way the rest of its fandom has. I’m kinda sad about it, since I normally love Slice of Life and Fantasy, and I know this is one of my friend’s diehard shows.
ラブライブ! School Idol Project S2
A filler anime to watch tbh. Nice and easy enough to follow for beginners. Pretty good songs. With regards to it being a show about music and moe, I still 100% prefer K-On! if I’m going to be honest, but for a show about non-toxic idols, it’s good!
魔法少女まどか☆マギカ
First read this as English translated manga when I was 13 or something. Mistakes were made. Let’s all just agree to throw キュウベえ into a pit of fire and never talk about it again. Great ending and a show that really reworked the magical girl genre. But seriously, I was traumatized by マミ’s death then and now, help.
四月は君の嘘
Already knew what was going to happen even before watching this so I didn’t ugly cry like I was expecting. Still got that awful sinking feeling though. 10/10 would recommend for a good cry. Also, I’m planning to read the manga, might enjoy that more, because I’ve always liked it more than anime actually. *shocked pikachu face*
ホリミヤ
Watched before I even finished the manga which felt like a mistake at first until I realized that it perfectly stops where I stopped reading. Nice and comfy anime, the kind I would have loved as a teen. Fun animation too, making parts very dramatic even though it wasn’t really that deep of an issue even in the manga. Just teens feeling feelings. Still salty that we lose bad boy styled 宮村, but I get why it had to happen.
AUDIOBOOKS
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氷菓
Second re-listen. I understand it fine, but it’s very easy to drift off when you can’t catch all the words so I had to replay often. Will have to mine more from the anime/book.
君の名は
I mined from the anime, and was really pleased to be able to follow all 6 hours of this audiobook perfectly fine. Will need to read the book, because I realized just how seamless reading it would be after listening to it with hardly any issue.
BOOKS
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キッチェン
Completed! Read my thoughts about it and see my stats on this post.
君の膵臓を食べたい
Still trudging on with this one. It’s not a bad story, it’s pretty well written actually, I just made the mistake of watching both the anime and live adaptation first, so I know exactly what’s going to happen and it’s killing my motivation to keep reading. I guess reading the book first before watching the movie still applies in any language with me. Really need to 頑張れ and finish so I can move on. 
三日間の幸福
Started reading towards the end of the month, mostly because I realized that every chapter is only 5000-15000 characters long, and I was able to read up to 40k in a day with Island most days. Only two chapters read so far though because I got distracted by manga, but it’s shaping up to be a really good plot and potentially a really sad one, too, so I’m interested.
DRAMA
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花ざかりの君たちへ イケメンパラダイス
Heard this was a classic so I gave it a try. Loved 生田 斗真’s character in this one the most especially all his internal dialogue acted out. Also, 小栗 旬 in anything is bound to be a good watch. Simple and fun watch. They dragged the ending so much though lmao 
ごくせん
Look, I see 松本 潤, I click. Definitely the kind of show you should watch for some great life advice. Planning to watch the 2nd and 3rd seasons even if there is a terrible lack of 松本 潤, because I love my strong female protagonists, and man, ヤンクミ is such a great character. Need to read the manga, too, if I can find it.
極主夫道
Oof, this was kind of hard. The yakuza talk was throwing me off, but the rest of it was enjoyable. Not really plot heavy as I thought it was going to be. The comedy side of it was fun and predictable after the first few episodes. Overall, pretty good slice of life, family story with a twist.
MANGA
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Read a bunch of manga this month, mostly because I am struggling to find the next vn to read.
おやすみプンプン
Read a couple of volumes (6-7). This manga is so good, but it’s so depressing I need to stop to take a breather every once in a while. Please don’t leave any spoilers. The club has been reacting to me reading this, and it has mostly been a lot of crying emotes. It’s both been enjoyable to see and really worrying. 笑
チェンソーマン
Club recommendation. Only read the 1st volume so far. I really need to get into more 少年 anime/manga. That’s currently my 苦手 genre which is awful because literally all the top anime/manga is 少年 help. I just can’t enjoy it much still even though it’s comprehensible to me.
ちはやふる 中学生編
Read Vol. 1, chill read to me at this point after reading 45 volumes of the regular manga. Look, it’s my favorite 幼馴染 manga in baby format, of course I’m going to read this! 太一 has been a flake way before season 3 confirmed. Don’t come at me たいちはや stans bc I also like his character.
約束のネバーランド
Volume 7. I’m taking my sweet time with this one, because I heard the anime for season 2 sucked, so I’m avoiding it like the plague. This is 少年 how am I enjoying this and not everything else what.
ヲタクに恋は難しい
Enjoyed the anime hated the movie why did they make it a musical that sucked (ps i normally love musicals hated this one) 
The オタク jargon is kinda hard to read suprisingly but I do enjoy this ship very much. It’s a lighthearted take to otaku culture which is great because seriously it’s scary out there.
ツバサ -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-
It’s my childhood ship, obviously I will read this again (read in English several years ago). Still as plot twisty as I remember it being (now at a bonus hard level reading it in Japanese 笑). Really enjoyed reading this one (I finished it this May).
-☆-
I’m starting to really dislike furigana in manga. It was a great help as a beginner, but now it’s like training wheels that you can’t take off. I feel like the gains I’m getting from manga is much lower than it was when I first started which makes me both proud of how far I’ve come, but also sad because I love manga. Sad that I might have to start choose VNs over it, because it’s not going to challenge me as much going forward. I mean it didn’t stop me from reading a lot of it this month, but you get the picture.
VISUAL NOVELS
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ISLAND
Completed! See my stats and read my long spoiler filled post here.
ファタモルガーナの館
Picked up this VN and finished two doors (15 hours) before stopping. On the fence about it, because it has been kind of predictable so far, and I don’t particularly enjoy the horror genre. That said, this is more psychological than anything, so it’s probably not that that’s putting me off. The language is not exactly difficult, too - maybe some oddly specific words because it is after all historical fiction (which is one of my favorite genres, btw), and 敬語 is definitely interesting to read for once after encountering so many お嬢様 characters in anime/drama so far. 
I think maybe it’s the conversations that are kind of dull - dots (silence) every few clicks that keeps breaking the flow of reading. Probably judging it really harshly too early, because it’s rated so high everywhere, and I just have high expectations. Definitely not dropping it yet though, just taking a break and testing a couple of other VNs before I settle with whatever I end up choosing. It is, after all, going to be another 50+ hour read, and I just don’t want to not enjoy the process, because having fun with the process is a huge part of immersion learning.
Let me know if you’ve read Fata and if I should continue! 
-☆-
That’s it for this month!
If you have any suggestions on what to watch and read next, please send me a reply, especially for VNs because I’m struggling over here.
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queenofidealism · 7 months ago
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Hi! I just saw the argument/make-up hc! So beautiful I love those two!! Since you did one for the modern AU could we potentially get an argument/make-up one for the AYA universe pls!!!
Hello dear! Thank you very much for the Ask. I'm glad you love the previous argument/make-up headcanon. Since this is a fic AU, do expect some fic!spoilers ahead!
Reiner x Mikasa (ReiKasa) Fic AU (R18+) Headcanon #14
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Universe: As You Are
Fights & Arguments
With all the uncertainties & adjustments required of the newlyweds, arguments are to be expected without a doubt. Their challenges extend beyond their shared history as former enemies and political importance.
As seen in ch.12, Reiner is easily triggered or riled up by very specific sensitive subjects. He'll be very vocal, honest and upfront about it but he will also apologize if he steps out of line. He immediately realizes that & Mikasa has been observed to be able to divert his potential anger.
Alter!Reiner, however, oh boy, that is a very tricky situation for Mikasa. There's a whole new set of challenges lies in waiting up ahead down the road. If Reiner would be very open & honest, alter!Reiner is the more silent, passive agressive type. He's like still waters with darkness and danger lurking beneath the surface. While alter!Reiner takes over her lord husband's body, Mikasa would have to tread their communication carefully. She'll be in the constant dark - not knowing to expect when or how he would pull her further into his depths and drown her metaphorically.
Reiner is always a person who is very objective and logical. Sure, he can be a little bit manipulative when it comes to protecting his loved ones, however, when it comes to Mikasa, Reiner is slowly opening himself up by being honest & sincere with his wife.
In this universe, Reiner talks to her, heart to heart to ensure that both him and Mikasa are always on the same page. He understands that they are both shouldering huge responsibilities on their shoulders & they're a team.
Once in Liberio, it will be quite rare for them to have big arguments especially when they have to put up a united front. If they do, they'll do it in private. They would usually be able to meet each other halfway towards the end of their discussion. He might be the Lord of their nation but his Lady has equal rights to decide for their people's importance too.
Reiner, however, has his own weaknesses: self-depreciation & self-sabotaging tendencies. This will frustrates Mikasa a lot but it is their shared growth pains in their relationship.
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However, any progress in their marriage will have to face a sudden concrete wall whenever Reiner's extreme self-depreciation tendencies get triggered and his alter holds the reign to his psyche. This alter avoids her like the plague, refuses to communicate & is absolutely making it difficult for their marriage to work smoothly. Mikasa would find herself being in a state of mental purgatory, which would be really ugly but this woman is also not one to be taken lightly. She will sooner learn how to breath under his deep, dark waters.
Mikasa is a physically strong woman but she is also the most vulnerable one emotionally, especially after the traumatic incident with Eren at Niccolo's eatery. But she has made a silent promise on her mother's name that she would not give up on her husband, no matter how hard he pushes her away.
Reiner will find himself growing more passionate towards his wife BUT he also feels he does not deserve to be jealous when he sees other men (especially those with political importance) trying to be extra friendly with his wife in order to win her favor as the East Sea's lady of authority. More often, he would repress his jealousy.
Alter!Reiner, however has a different idea when it comes to unearthing those repressed feelings. What Reiner could not convey, he will express it & that will manifest with the way he acts out on his grievances. (This will be explored further in another R20 post if you know what I mean 😳)
Mikasa would always be the calm one but alter!Reiner will force her to fight his fire with her fire. A litle bit of burning flames is healthy in a union between man and wife. But what happens when it gets a little bit too much?
Mikasa will go through her own mental gymnastics when it comes to accepting Reiner's duality. She will feel that she's married to two different men who share the same body. One who can't get enough of her and one who can't even stand her. She will have to find the point of balance between Reiner's personas.
Making Up
Reiner and Mikasa would discover that hugging things out before potential arguments take place is a good crisis aversion strategy. But, when it comes to these two, they tend to have that inexplicable spark whenever they touch. Therefore, very often their making up turns into making out (sometimes heavy petting and a quickie) *cough* They're married! 🤷‍♀️
Reiner also leaves peace offerings like a single violet or a bouquet of wildflowers on her nightstand after they argued or take her out on a night walk in Liberio's streets or just stargazing on the rooftop of his mother's house.
Alter!Reiner has a little bit of ego and resistance, so they tend to have an awkward conversation after the fallout of a fight. Yes, when Reiner and Mikasa debate to settle their differences, alter!Reiner tends to rile Mikasa up into a more physical altercation in private. No one will get hurt physically as Mikasa will always hold her own immense strength back with him, but it is not pleasant. Their relationship will evolve into another level, however, when a third person is trying to get in between them. Alter!Reiner would unleash the more possessive and territorial side of him. Things will change (for better or worst is yet to be known) as he learns that there's a really fine thin line that stands between lust and hate: love. He will discover that he has finally find his match in this woman - physically, mentally and sexually. Alter!Reiner's version of peace offering will be using Falco & Gabi as messengers because yeaps, his ego, heh.
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Thank you so much for your amazing Ask & I truly appreciate your invested interest in AYA ❤ xoxo
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rhysand-vs-fenrys · 6 months ago
Note
Do the same thing for Heaven Official's Blessing (use Maas characters to tell the story)!
Heaven Official’s Blessing // TGCF told using ACOTAR characters (Obviously there will be spoilers, read at your own risk)
TGCF is told in a non-linear form, with Books 1, 3, and 5 taking place in the present, and Books 2 and 4 acting as flashbacks. I will be telling the story in a pure linear format.
** I’m going to have to ask people to ignore shipping stuff for the sake of this. I matched characters based on their personalities, so things became kind of scrambled.
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THIS WAS VERY VERY HARD TO WRITE OKAY
Once upon a time, there was a beautiful Crown Princess named Elain. She was completely beloved by her people not only for her looks, but for her kindness, warmth, and incredible talents. Whatever she put her mind to, Princess Elain would easily accomplish, and those who read fortunes often said she was born on an auspicious day and was blessed with unparalleled good fortune. 
Princess Elain’s father was fairly elitest and tended to ignore the common folk, but Princess Elain made it her mission in life to protect them and ease everyone’s burdens.
When Princess Elain was 17, the royal capitol held a parade to the king of the heavens, Helion. In this parade, an elite warrior dressed as the Divine Hero would actually spar with another elite warrior dressed as a Demonic Beast. The parade would circle the capitol as the two warriors fought, only ending when their stamina ran out and they were too tired to carry on. The more laps the procession completed before this happened, the more good fortune it would invite and the more honor to the god Helion. Generally the goal was around 15-20 laps.
On the third lap, as people clamored to see clearly the Hero and Beast battle, there was a horrible accident. A deformed child in the crowd, barely 8 years old at MOST, was knocked from his perch on a high wall and fell to his death.
As he fell, the Divine Hero abandoned their battle and leapt high into the air to  catch the poor child. Picture like wire work when I say “leapt high”, it counts more as minor flight.
In the rescue, the Divine Hero’s mask comes off and it is revealed to be none other than Princess Elain herself! The Divine Beast was Elain’s bodyguard, Cassian.
While the common people go FERAL for this beautiful Princess who saved a wretched orphan’s life, the royal priests are angered. They warn Elain that her actions are an insult to Helion, and she must repent to avoid his wrath.
Elain famously and simply replies that if a god would begrudge her saving a child’s life, then they are not worthy of becoming a god.
And in spite of the priest’s words, the heavens agree with Princess Elain.
The child Elain saved has half his head heavily wrapped in bandages, but Elain is not afraid of him. She cradles him in her arms and he is mesmerized by her face. Still, after someone tries to move the bandage to see his face, the child runs away and vanishes.
This child was Azriel.
Tamlin is Elain’s cousin. His mother was a royal lady who had a baby with an abusive brute, and she ended up dying in disgrace after being abandoned by him. Tamlin was therefore raised by Elain’s mother, and he is disturbingly obsessed with the glory of his Princess Cousin. He is also dangerously unhinged and violent.
Just a few days after the ruined parade, Tamlin is racing through the city streets in his carriage, whipping his horses raw and yelling that if he runs over anyone it is their own fault. He has no cares for anyones lives, and Princess Elain considers him a thorn in her side.
Princess Elain is out with her bodyguard, Cassian, and her personal servant, Lucien. They see Tamlin coming and no only is he driving dangerously, there is a bloody sack tied to the back of the chariot.
Elain and Cassian leap onto the carriage to stop Tamlin, while Lucien breaks the rope on the sack. Elain and Cassian take Tamlin into custody, knocking him out, and Elain is ready for Tamlin to be thrown into prison for his behavior.
She opens the bloody sack, and inside finds Azriel. Tamlin was so incensed that the royal priests were angry with Princess Elain that he decided to kill Azriel to “avenge” his cousin!
Elain brings Azriel to the royal palace to be healed by the physicians within. He has broken bones and cuts all over his body, but again he strikes out if someone tries to move the bandages on his face. For his part- Tamlin is locked in his rooms and his carriage is destroyed, he is banned from leaving the palace.
But once again, Azriel slips out and runs away.
A few months later, black clouds swirl over the Royal Palace, and in a massive thunderclap, Elain ascends to the heavens as a newborn Warrior Goddess. Though by the laws of the heavens she cannot enter her kingdom for one thousand generations (to make sure she doesn’t give favors to the families of old friends), her father and his people build 10,000 temples in her name, several with massive statues of pure gold.
Goddess Elain brings Lucien and Cassian to the heavens with her, to help her in her duties as a god. She must intercede when appropriate (if there are demons or ghosts attacking people) and answer prayers. Despite the ban, she likes to sit on the altars of her temples, invisible, and listen to the prayers of her followers.
Elain doesn’t like the wealth and splendor of her temples, she wishes people would not bow, and just wants things to be simpler. 
After a few years as a goddess, while wandering her city, she notices a crummy old shrine tucked into a forgotten alley. It is roughly made, with only a flower and a bun on the offerings table.
She watches this little but clearly loved shrine for a long time, and notices that it is tended by an 11 year old boy. He is homeless, cold, malnourished, and had bandages wrapped around half his face. Rather than eat what food he manages to get, he puts it on the offerings table to Elain, only taking a few rotten fruits or moldy buns for himself.
Elain hates to see this- the boy is so desperately starving and yet he leaves food for a goddess who has no need for it. Bullies come and destroy the boy’s shrine. He is beaten by them, but when it is over he only fixes her shrine back up, and curls in a ball beneath it to sleep.
Elain feels that this boy is more sincere in his devotion than those who leave gaudy offerings at her temples, so she leaves the boy some food, a blanket, a straw mat, and some food. When he wakes he knows it was the goddess who heard his prayers, and he is delighted.
She does not realize that this boy is Azriel.
Elain’s country becomes embroiled in a civil war. Elain breaks the rules of the heavens outright and tries to end it before it begins by helping refugees of a horrible drought. She is kind to one refugee, taking on mortal form and helping him bury his son’s body, which he brought to the capitol to show the king of how severe the people’s suffering is. Her father didn’t care, and would not see the poor man.
Elain’s attempts to stop the refugee situation from becoming a civil war as the capitol refuses to send aid go nowhere, and in the end the war begins. She feels she has no choice but to openly step out as a Goddess of War and take the side of the capitol, where her parents still rule. Her heart aches at fighting the common folk, and she is still trying to end the drought in their homeland, but war is inevitable.
During the war, Elain meets a young soldier of only around 15. He is brave and good with a sword- though she advises a saber would suit him better. Though he is too young to really fight, she keeps him by her side. Together they witness the desperation of the refugees, whose leader- the man who she helped bury his son- summons a horrible demon.
Amarantha- a monster who always wears a mask that is half crying, half laughing.
Amarantha calls forth a plague that rips through the capitol. Elain realizes that the only ones who aren’t becoming infected with this plague are the soldiers and criminals- anyone who has taken a life. She realizes if others figure it out, the whole world will be consumed in blood as everyone tries to kill one another for immunity.
Elain’s favorite soldier is removed from the army by Lucien’s command, outing the boy as too young. Azriel is once again thrown aside- not that Elain realized it was him.
Meanwhile Elain, heartbroken at the suffering of her people, makes the ultimate decision: she saves her parents, but leaves the capitol to die and fall. If the refugees- now rebel army- kill everyone inside the capitol then the disease won’t spread (since soldiers would do the killing), and no one would ever know what the cure was. One city to save the world.
Helion knows the Goddess Elain’s heart was in the right place, but her intercession not only failed to stop the war, she made it worse. He is forced to put a Cursed Collar on her, stripping her of all her powers as a goddess. However, instead of her becoming mortal again, Helion gives her an immortal body.
Elain, after all, was only seventeen when she ascended and now could be counted in her twenties. Young by any standard. She is a good person, so Helion grants her the immortal body believing that some experience in the world will help her learn. With time and dedication, she can ascend once again to be a goddess, and he will remove the Cursed Collar.
Lucien and Cassian descend with her.
But her confidence has been shattered. To keep the royal family hidden, they are forced to perform tricks on the streets for meager coins, do manual labor (including on monuments insulting and demeaning the Goddess Elain), and are constantly on the run from members of the new government’s army who are hunting the King and Queen mercilessly.
Eventually, Lucien tells Elain and Cassian that it is simply too much, he’s sick the struggles, and leaves to take care of his own mother. Cassian and Lucien always hated one another and bickered nonstop, but this is the ultimate betrayal. If Cassian could kill Lucien with his bare hands, he would.
Elain becomes paranoid and terrified that Cassian will leave her too. She has no possessions of worth- they’ve all been pawned- but she has a single golden belt left. The mark of a heavenly official. A reminder of what she was and what she must work towards becoming again. She gives it to Cassian, for its value is very high, as a way to beg him to stay.
Soon after, Elain finds a shady merchant selling lanterns she realizes are lit not by fire, but by little flame spirits- remnants of souls that should have been allowed to rest in peace. These spirits were taken from the battlefields around the royal capitol, her soldiers. Elain manages to use a few meager coins to buy them, and goes about releasing the spirits.
One small flame spirit will not leave. It tells Elain that it cannot move on, because its beloved is suffering and it must watch over them always so they will not be alone. Idealistic and lovely, but Elain is too disheartened to feel anything by cynicism towards such words. 
She leaves the little spirit- Azriel, who had snuck back onto the battlefields after being removed from the army and was cut down.
And then the king falls ill.
Elain is desperate for coin to help make things easier for Cassian (who is earning most of the money now) and to buy medicine for her father. Everything she tries fails, and, utterly at her wits end, she is forced to try her hand at robbing.
Though Elain is too horrified to actually rob a man, she chases after him and runs afoul of several junior heavenly officials who recognize her. She begs them not to tell anyone, and flees. They swear they won’t say a word. 
Elain returns home, and she’s terrified of what she almost did for money. She decides to leave, going to find a mountain with good spiritual energy to meditate and hopefully make progress back towards gaining the merits to become a goddess again.
As soon as she arrives thirty-three heavenly officials come to train on the mountain, as such a thing can even help gods advance among their own ranks. They bully Elain, and eventually mock her for trying to rob the man (those junior gods were assholes and didn’t keep their word). 
What’s worse- Lucien is among them. He didn’t go back to care for his mother, he abandoned Elain to become a god once again, a junior in the service of another (not a path Elain can take since she was once a full goddess). He helps chase Elain away.
That little flame spirit- Azriel- is there to witness the humiliation.
Elain flees in tears, running down the mountain until she collapses, sobbing. When she is left staring at the ground, a hand appears to help her up- Lucien. Elain slaps his hand away and screams at him, and leaves.
When she arrives home, Lucien is there with sacks of food and medicine for the King. He tries to explain that he only left to return to the heavens- betraying one master to go to a new one- because he knew he could use the position to get food and such for Elain, Cassian, and the King and Queen. 
Elain screams at Lucien to go, throwing the sacks of food at him. Cassian takes Elain’s side, and Lucien lets slip that Elain tried to rob for money. He doesn’t know Cassian didn’t know, and Elain is thrown even further into despair.
More time passes, once again the money and food and medicine run out. Elain starts seeing figures around her where there is nothing- the figure of Amarantha all in white with that horrible mask. Her own robes are sometimes replaced with Amarantha’s, and she is slowly driven mad.
At the absolute edge of sanity, Elain feels a summons drawing her into the woods. She follows it, even when ghostly flames try to block her path and stop her from advancing, and ends up in a ruined temple. A ruined temple that was once hers. The divine statue has been destroyed.
Elain sits on the altar and waits, knowing Amarantha will show up to claim her.
Over hours, people trickle into the temple, and lured by a mysterious summons even they don’t consciously remember following. When there are 100 people inside, wild howls come from around them and crazed figures appear, all infected with the plague that destroyed Elain’s kingdom.
They fall back into the temple and Elain seals the door. She is grabbed by Amarantha, bound, and Amarantha holds her up on the altar by her skull. Amarantha tells the people what Elain was so scared of anyone finding out:: that the plague can be cured if the person is a murderer. Amarantha helpfully explains that Elain cannot die, but if they land a blow on her that would be fatal on another, it counts. To demonstrate, Elain is run through.
The pain is horrible, and when the next person picks up the sword and stabs her, she screams. A white flame spirit enters the building, the one who tried to stop Elain from coming in the first place. Amarantha captures it to play with (torment) as the villagers line up.
No matter how much Elain screams, they stab her. Some slash her throat, so that she can no longer make a sound. She is trapped in her body as it is mutilated and wrecked, staring up at that flame spirit and imagining she can hear it screaming at what is being done to her.
People stab her two or three times, just to be sure they landed a would-be-fatal hit and unable to tell what they are stabbing as she ceases to look even human anymore. Just a pile of ruined flesh spilled across her own altar. Even her face is destroyed.
That flame spirit- Azriel- screams out with every stab, until he can’t take it anymore and loses his sanity. He explodes in a wall of flame that turns all the humans inside the temple- and the infected outside- into ash. Above the skies roil, marking the birth of a particularly dangerous spirit.
Elain lays in agony as her body slowly knits back together. She is dazed as she stumbles away from the ruined temple. Traumatized beyond the brink of insanity. What was done to her horrifies her, and she feels only rage and grief. She was a Goddess, and now not only is she living in squalor and humiliation and degradation, she was attacked by humans for no reason other than personal gain. Not an ounce of kindness shown to her as they hacked at her body.
Elain sees Amarantha, who wants to take her as a disciple and raise her to wreak vengeance against the world. Elain flees.
When she gets home, two weeks (or months, the translation is inconsistent) have passed. Cassian has kept the king alive and the queen has been beside herself. She swears she will never chide Elain again, just please don’t leave.
None of them know what happened to her body. None of them can understand. Elain is sick and tired and broken. And she knows the worst will pass sooner or later- Cassian will abandon her just like Lucien did. Leave her in disgust. She can’t bear thinking about his friendship turning to hate, so she attacks him. She rips him apart with the worst words she can muster, until he leaves in disgust.
You can’t fear something that already happened.
Elain locks herself in her rooms and ignores even her mother’s pleading to come out.
When she wakes, she bathes. She has to go and try to find coin again, but cannot find the bandage she uses to cover half her face and hide her identity (since, you know, as a disgraced goddess her face is everywhere). The house is too quiet, and when Elain opens the doors to her parents room, she finds out why:
With the king’s health failing, and the humiliation of being deposed and on the run, living in squalor, he has lost all hope. Her mother won’t be left behind, and she knows her life is a burden on Elain’s as the fallen goddess tries to care for them.
So the king and queen have hung themselves. Elain carefully takes down their bodies and tries to hang too, but of course this immortal body- a gift from Helion himself- cannot die.
The hangman’s noose has absorbed two lives, and was used in incredible grief by a goddess herself. It is imbued with the love Elain’s parents felt for her and their tragic desire to die as a way to help them. The cloth comes to life, sort of like a snake meets a puppy, but when not in use, it wraps around Elain’s wrist as if her arm were injured.
At the king and queen’s deaths, whatever is left of Elain shatters.
She goes to the battlefields outside the dead royal capitol, her home, and wakes the souls of her people. Millions, all killed in battle or in the plague. She screams to them all, demanding to know if they hate. On her face is the white mask of Amarantha- half crying, half smiling.
And thus, the White Clothed Calamity is born. A twin to the White No-Faced demon (Amarantha).
The souls appear as black smoke that floods into Elain’s blade- the one that was used to mutilate her body. All that hatred condensing.
And in front of Elain appears the form of a soldier. Also wearing a mask. A particularly powerful resentful spirit on his way to becoming a demon.
Not that Elain would recognize Azriel even if she could see, so consumed is she by her hatred and wrath.
Elain takes those souls to the new royal capitol to kill the leader of the rebellion- that man whose child she helped bury. The man who rained hell down on all.
But he’s dead. Killed by the plague. She can’t even take her revenge right.
So Elain goes next to the lands ravaged by that drought, the whole reason for the civil war in the first place. The very city she tried to save as a goddess to stop the war from starting. She drops from the sky, impaled by the black sword. She has given herself three days.
Three days for a single soul to show her an ounce of kindness. If none do, she will unleash those souls and the plague will begin again as the hateful spirits infect body after body until the world runs red with blood.
No one helps her. Not until the third day, when a man trips over her body, cusses her out, and then feels bad for losing his temper. Right as the sun sets on the third day, he takes off his bamboo hat and offers it to her, to protect her from the rain.
A single act of kindness.
But it’s too late. The souls trapped in the sword explode into the sky.
Elain tries to tell the gathering crowd to pick up her sword and just stab her. She’s resigned to being hacked to death again and again if it will save even a single person from what she unleashed in her wrath and grief.
But no one is willing to hurt her. Not even to save themselves, and not even when she is begging them to. Unlike the group in the temple, who attacked her for themselves even when she begged them to stop.
So Elain does something painful and horrible- she raises the sword and draws all those hate-filled spirits into herself. It could very well destroy her, and the pain is worse even than being stabbed, but she will do it. If she can even save one person to undo her own mistake, she’ll do it.
But that second soldier appears again, the one who stood across from her on the battlefield.
He takes the souls into himself. Elain absorbs 300. He takes a million. It destroys him utterly- that kind brave man giving his soul, extinguishing himself forever- just to help her right a wrong.
But Azriel didn’t die. He was blown apart by the power, and re-formed bit by bit later on to become a Wrath-level (tier 3) ghost.
Helion descends from the heavens to meet Elain. Yes, she nearly did something unforgivable, but she was willing to destroy herself to right the wrong. For this- and all her suffering- Helion wishes to bring Elain up to the heavens once again as a goddess.
Her wrath extinguished, her spirit broken, Elain refuses his offer. That poor man’s soul was destroyed (seemingly) because of her. Someone suffered for what she did. She wants to atone, and atone for those one million souls she roused rather than helping them lay at rest in peace.
Elain asks Helion to put a new Cursed Shackle on her. This time not one that banishes her spiritual powers. Once upon a time she met a small boy she saved from falling. She was told she had infinite fortune, well above a normal person’s, but that child’s fate was endlessly dark and wretched.
Elain asks for a shackle that destroys her luck. That takes all of her good fortune and shatters it. Fortune is something that ebbs and flows through the world, by removing all of hers, that luck will be redistributed, and could bring good to the lives of others.
But an offer to return to heaven was granted, so Helion and Elain come up with a little show to explain away the new curse shackle without Helion appearing to punish a goddess who has done no wrong:
Elain ascends, as offered, and storms through heaven, hacking at the bodies of gods and challenging Helion himself. It becomes known famously as her Second Ascension, which lasts all of 10 minutes before she is fitted with a new cursed shackle and hurled form the heavens.
Elain’s life will be wretched, luck-less, and full of strife. Nothing she ever tries will go right. it is a life that would shatter the spirit of anyone. But for Elain, every misfortune means someone else has better luck than they should have. Every harm she suffers means someone else is blessed. She is atoning for what she did, and that makes her happy. She still mourns the soul of that boy who was destroyed, still lives in repentance of that, but she is atoning for her crimes.
During this time, that boy- now a Wrath Level Demon- finds he cannot loose. All the good fortune lost by Elain is funneled into him, and it is impossible for him to not get what he wants. He enters the Demonic Kiln and is re-forged as a Supreme (highest level) Demonic King. His weapons are the Silver Wrath Butterflies- a form he grants to those million souls he swallowed to help Elain.
He wears around his finger a red string, one of the ones that had bound him to that ghost lantern as a little flame spirit, a red string of fate that promises he will find his way back to Elain one day.
Azriel walks into the heavens and challenges thirty-five gods-- those who humiliated Elain on the mountaintop plus Cassian and Lucien, her hateful servants who abandoned her.
Cassian and Lucien refuse the challenge, but thirty-three gods take Azriel’s challenge--- 
He kills them all.
Not only does he humiliate them in front of their worshippers, he destroys 10,000 of their temples in a single night. One temple for every one of Elain’s that was destroyed when she fell as a goddess. Without worshippers or temples, the gods fade from existence.
Until, 800 years later, the heavens explode. Godly palaces are destroyed (including those of Cassian and Lucien, who are now full gods), the infrastructure shatters, and when the smoke clears there is Elain. A goddess once again. Except instead of being a goddess of war, she is a goddess of misfortune and junk.
To atone for accidentally ruining so many palaces (though she had no power over the size of the boom when she ascended, it corresponds with power), she goes to the mortal realm to solve a mysterious haunting.
The moment she arrives, she finds a silver butterfly following her and is enchanted by it. The butterfly vanishes, and as soon as she steps into the haunted forest a man in red appears, takes her hand, and gently leads her through a blood-rain, destroys barriers that would have kept her contained, and delivers her safely to the lair of the creature she is hunting.
From then on, Azriel is never far from her side. He has hunted for Elain for 800 years. The beautiful princess he fell in love with as a child, and met time and time again without her realizing it. After their second adventure together, Azriel gives Elain a diamond ring to wear around her neck.
If a ghost’s ashes are destroyed or scattered, they die. Elain doesn’t want this to happen to Azriel, who has made himself an enemy of heaven. Azriel only tells her that his ashes are safe, and if their hiding place is ever destroyed or if they are cast away, he has no will to exist any more anyways.
His ashes are contained within that diamond ring, imbued in the stone itself. 
Elain doesn’t know why the gods hate Azriel so much, he is warm and kind to her (though admittedly cold to others). Azriel accompanies Elain obediently on many adventures, though every mystery they solve they run afoul of one heavenly official after another.
Elain starts to realize there is a rot in the heavens. So many gods with so many horrible secrets. 
Elain and Azriel invade the home of a particularly evil ghost- the Green Demon. Tamlin. After Elain’s fall from grace he went mad, his obsessive feelings towards her turning from admiration to hatred. It was Tamlin who commissioned all those statues of Elain in humiliating and degrading positions. Tamlin is a cannibalistic evil ghost, though lower than Azriel in power.
He quickly takes possession of the body of a man with a small child and refuses to leave, so Azriel cannot even kill him without Elain being angry. 
Realizing something is rotten in the heavens, Elain makes her base a rundown cabin barely standing. She lives there with Tamlin as her prisoner and Azriel as her constant companion. That child becomes a noose around Tamlin’s throat- endlessly obedient and loving towards his “father” (whose body Tamlin cannot leave or else Az will kill him). Bit by bit, Tamlin’s cruelty starts to fade (though he’s never really nice per-se, it’s just that he likes the kid).
On her journey she is joined by Nuala and Cerridwen- two low level gods in the service of Lucien and Cassian, who hate one another as much as their masters do. Their masters also hate Elain with a burning passion, so Nuala and Cerridwen help her in secret.
Out of courtesy, Elain pretends that she doesn’t know Nuala and Cerridwen are only Cassian and Lucien in another form, trying to atone themselves for abandoning her so long ago.
As Elain, Azriel, Cassian, and Lucien go on adventure after adventure the crimes of the heavens are unearthed one after another- from a god who killed humans to hide his own crimes to another who worked black magics to steal the good fortune of a man about to ascend to a god and attached it to his unwitting brother, leaving the man’s family to be raped and murdered while his brother enjoyed the divinity that should never have been his, to another god who tortured a mortal to death just for fun.
They start to realize too that Amarantha- who vanished from the world when Elain refused to release her curse- has been close by all along. 
For the Demonic Kiln that forges Ghost Kings- that imbued Azriel with so much power- was born of a horrific tragedy 2,000 years ago in which Amarantha’s entire kingdom fell around her.
A tragedy which Amarantha turned into an opportunity- she raided the heavens, slaughtered all of her fellow gods and changed her form.
And as new gods rose, she placed herself upon the throne with this new face--
as Helion.
Elain, Azriel, Cassian, Lucien, and all of their new friends must work together to destroy Helion, find the true King of Heaven, and restore balance to the world before Amarantha plunges it all into chaos and destroys everything Elain loves.
The only one powerful enough to stop Amarantha is Elain, but with her luck sealed away and her powers still stifled by the Cursed Collar, it is up to the Demonic Realm to save the Heavens above before the mortal world is destroyed.
Azriel already died for Elain once. To see her smile freely once again, he’d die a million deaths more. No matter the hardships, this boy who has followed his princess for 800 years will follow her to the ends of the earth and beyond.
And their growing love might just be enough to tip the tides of war in their favor. King Azriel will always find a way to his Elain. Not even a two thousand year old Demonic-King of Heaven can stand in their way.
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marshmallowprotection · 9 months ago
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Kait Reacts To The AE: Other Endings
Bad Ending 1! This is the final ending that I have to talk about. This completes my 10/10 ending reactions. Granted, I can’t subject myself to willfully agreeing with Rika, so this isn’t an ending that I can do without getting angry, so I’m just going to let you know what happens and how I feel about that here, so you have a better idea of what’s going on. Spoilers ahead. 
Yeah, I knew that there was going to be an ending where you agree with Rika and turn against Saeran’s freedom and desires. It happens in his Route if you turn against him with Rika, and you wind up with Bad Ending 3. 
It was the ending that I didn’t want. I’m not going to play this ending myself for a long time if I play it at all. I hated doing it on Ray Route and I just. This is just... Fuck, the other Bad Endings in this DLC have been really hard for me. I can’t even talk about that BE2 in this. It triggered me that badly. Anyways, this is all about turning against Saeran’s desires. 
A lot of people don’t know what happens in BE3 because they can’t get it. You also can’t get this ending if you have too many hearts in the wrong place, no matter if you go and click the right options with Rika. That’s why it’s hard, it’s not clicking the wrong dialogue prompts, it’s too many hearts and then WHAM. 
You pass the game branch anyway. 
If you would like to get the ending yourself, Sensetenou made a guide!
The key here is that you need to... say nothing will work. Say that there is no hope whatsoever at all times. Even say that you shouldn’t save Saeyoung, even though that’s what he wants to do. You know that you can get a Sad Ending if you tell him that you should run away, so you need to watch when you start saying that you need to leave Saeyoung and leave. Just know when you need to click it and when you don’t. 
You have to raise doubt over and over again. 
Saeran’s faith in you is very strong. He’s not dependent on you but he leans to you when he needs reassurance and your tone will make or break him in this AE and I think enough of you have realized that now if you’ve hit wall after wall and realized that you really do affect the game with a single flick of your wrist. So, if you’re aiming for BEs or SEs or BREs, you’re going to need to pay close mind to what you’re doing. 
Doubt.
Doubt.
Unease. 
 Don’t trust Vanderwood, at all. Avoid them like the plague and cut it short. Do not prompt Saeran that you love him. Just say you don’t want to leave him. It’s a selfish thing, and I think that’s why I can’t do this ending myself personally just because if this man says he loves me, I have to say it back. 
It’s my weakness and God help me, I will not break him like Rika wants to break him. Start agreeing with Rika. Say that you need to stay, say that you need to go and keep an eye on them. Say that you’re going to slip up and reveal things. If you go out of your way, you’ll see the options where you can throw Saeyoung and Saeran under the bus.
I say them on my first playthrough and that’s how I knew there was another BE3 and I knew it was going to be twenty times worse. 
Saeran... leans on us and has given his heart to us, he would die for us, he would suffer for us, and even with the idea in mind that he wants to be selfish and stay with you, he will die if he has to die and he will suffer if he has to suffer. For your smile, for your happiness? He would give up everything he’s ever had... even the freedom that he fought so hard to claim. 
And, your goal in this AE is to agree with Rika and V: Keep the twins safe no matter what that means. Even if that means selling their souls, drugging them, or agreeing with the Agency and Saejoong Choi. There’s no other hope, so that’s the hole that you jump into to “save” Saeran and Saeyoung. You side with the bullshit that V and Rika have stuck themselves into. 
More or less, in this ending, you team up with the Selfish Wish duo. That means that you turn against everything Saeran wants and tell him that he needs to stay with you and that even if he’s suffering, as long as he’s with you, this is what will make you happy, and he wants you to be happy. If you let him think there is no hope and without Vanderwood, there really is seemingly no hope. 
So, he just kind of cracks underneath all of this pressure.
You’re not helping him.
You’re hurting him. 
That’s why this is so hard. 
You know how you become a Queen of Darkness at Rika’s side if the BE3 as Saeran becomes the puppet king who will be blamed for everything if anything were to go wrong? How he suffers numbly in the wayside, speaking things he does not believe just to make you happy in “paradise”? That’s what happens in this ending. Saeran suffering for your “selfish happiness” and well, to put it plain and simple—
Instead of a marionette king for paradise? 
You and Rika are using him as a media puppet for Saejoong. I couldn’t believe that they go with musical actor in this ending, but yeah, that’s more or less what happens here. You’re using Saeran again. He’s suffering for you. He’s a puppet on a grand stage to convince the world of the lies that everyone is spreading. It’s obvious that the RFA will crumble and crack and break away because of both the Agency and Saejoong. It’s only a matter of time. 
Oh, and don’t even worry about Saeyoung! He’s too exhausted and out of his mind these days. You don’t even have to worry about his happiness or what he’s dealing with! He can’t even feel pain anymore! 
But, you’re happy... aren’t you?
You’re happy... the boys are safe? 
You’re living within Rika’s selfish wish for a dollhouse where everything exists for her own pleasure and comfort in her constant denial of wrongdoing and of all of reality around you. But, is there any other hope? Was there any other hope for the brothers? Was there? 
Did you even try? 
Or, did you just take what you had decided was the only path forward because you never believed in him in the first place? 
Is it different from Savior Saeran? My, my, yes it is. However, it’s worse.... it’s so much worse because Saeran was able to get away only to be pulled back into all of this hell that he ran away from by the person that he most loved and trusted to be by his side and see him through to the end of his life living freely and happily from torment. 
You let him taste everything this world could be... and then you broke him cause you didn’t believe in him. You only and simply believed in your desires and in Rika’s promise and deal with Saejoong. And really, that’s why this is so horrible to me. You saw what Rika did in the Route, and you left with Saeran, only to turn back and agree with her knowing how Saeran feels. 
And honestly, what a fucking monstrous thing to do. 
That’s why I can’t subject myself to playing this ending even though I know what happens and how it plays out. So, this is what happens. You quite literally break him for Rika and work with her and Saeran bows his head, allowing it all to start over and happen to him. 
And if you want the symbolism here, there’s a Black Rose on his collar and you know what that means? Hatred, Despair, and Death are the most common picks for the meaning of a Black Rose. 
Some even say that it can be obsessive love, or used for sorrow. No matter how you look at it, Saeran is hollow, he is numb, he is broken, and dead inside. He’s cracked, he’s broken, he’s a withering rose that the only thing left of the man that we once saw bloom brightly in the season of our promise. 
What a broken man this is... and really, you and Rika are the ones to blame in this ending. 
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What I hate the most is that I fucking love his hair styled like this but I hate everything else that’s happening here. 
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wrong
pairing: stanley barber x reader
warnings: drug use (of course), spoilers for season finale, arguments, cursing
word count: 2.2 k
synopsis: in which stanley is in love with his best friend, and y/n has had enough of the distance.
Stanley Barber remembers vividly the first time he ever got high.
He was barely 13 when he found his father's stash in the old china chest in the corner of the dining room, and it took him a couple months to gather the courage to actually use it. His mother was gone, claiming to be at the neighbor lady's house for a "wine night"; he later found out that she went there to sleep with the neighbor lady's husband. He couldn't blame her for the affair, though.
Looking back on that night, he sounds a little pitiful. He was by himself, coughing and choking on the burning smoke. He laughed and talked to himself until he passed out, content and calm. It wasn't an overwhelming high, or an exhausting high, or even a powerful high, but he would never forget that night.
The next morning, he woke up with a foggy mind, burning eyes, and a wide smile. He strutted proudly out of his house that morning, his satchel dragging behind him, and quickly caught up to his neighbor, Y/N, who had her baggy hoodie bundled in her arms, wrapped tightly around her middle as she sluggishly walked down the wet sidewalk. He remembers the sour look on her face, her eyes downcast and heavy as she grumbled about how early it was. She gave him an incredulous look when he told her about his escapades the night before; she didn't believe him. A part of him was offended when she started laughing, brows cocked with judgment in her eyes.
"I swear," he said. "I'll prove it to you."
She just rolled her eyes, nudged him with her elbow, and scoffed.
"Sure, Stan."
Later that night, he took her to the basement, offered her a joint, and the rest is history.
That was also the night that Stanley Barber finally admitted to himself that he liked Y/N.
He knew that night they first got high together. He knew when he saw that blissful smile on her lips, when her nose scrunched up when she laughed, and when she fell asleep on his arm, features happy and carefree and relaxed. He knew when they woke the next morning, her eyes swollen with sleep, that he would do anything to see her that happy again.
Now that he's (almost) a man and in high school, he can assuredly say that he loves her.
But Stanley Barber, to put it lightly, is weak, riddled with anxiety and self-doubt, so he's never had the courage to tell her how he feels. Every weekend for the past three years, he has wanted to confess his undying love for her, like in the movies. He's thought about it so many different ways; maybe one night he would hold a boombox outside her house, or he would just gather the courage to kiss her. He dreamed of her, holding his hands one night after getting high, and while he was rambling about the meaning of life, she would cut him off by kissing him, her lips tasting like weed and Oreo's and something that is just uniquely her.
But that never happens.
In his junior year of high school, he is confident for once in his life, and he asks Syd out. He never really considered why he wasn't nervous when he asked Syd out. Perhaps, it was because he was certain she wouldn't say no, or, and this is the more likely scenario of the two, he didn't really care if she shot him down. He didn't care if Sydney refused his advances because she wasn't really the one who he had feelings for; she wasn't the one who occupied his every thought. Sydney wasn't the one who held his heart. God, that sounds stupidly sappy. He hates himself for even thinking that.
But he could learn. He could learn to love her as much as he loves his best friend.
Or at least that's what he tells himself.
Nevertheless, he started seeing more and more of Sydney Novak and less of Y/N. He tried not to notice, but he did. (Of course, he did). Y/N would claim to have to stay in class for lunch to finish a project, and then, she started walking home after school instead of riding home with him. Soon, she stopped showing up to their weekend hangouts, which were once filled with smoke, laughter and blissful stories.
It was a good thing, he told himself over and over. It was a good thing. He needed to get out of that relationship. It was starting to take a toll on his mental health. He eventually started to push Sydney into the void that Y/N once had.
When Sydney told him about her mind powers or whatever, it was just another thing to distract him.
That's all everything was anymore: a distraction from his feelings.
Then, it all went to shit. All those distractions and excuses he made came crumbling down.
It's the night of Homecoming. Sydney left him for Dina as soon as they got there, but he didn't expect any different. Y/N isn't there; no one asked her, and he hadn't bothered seeing if she would want to go with him and Sydney, since she hadn't bothered talking to him for the past weeks, even though it was basically his fault. He doesn't dwell on that thought. Then, Bradley pushed Sydney too far, and well... he lost his head. The drive home is a blur of sirens, flashing lights, and blood. He couldn't find Sydney.
He comes home that night to see Y/N lying on his bed, feet propped up on his pillow with too-big socks slipping off her heels. She doesn't move when he kicks his shoes off, unbuttons his shirt; she doesn't look at him, not even when he slips under the covers beside her.
"How was your night?" He asks, but she doesn't answer, the sound of her shallow breaths being the only sound in the room, besides the buzzing from the old lights by the bar. He sighs. "My night was great. Thanks for asking."
He wants to burst, anger and insecurity making it hard for him to breath. He wants so badly to tell her everything: what's been going on with Sydney, with Bradley; he wants to scream until his lungs give out because he just feels like no one can hear him, or even notice him for that matter. He wants her to know how much he wishes she was with him tonight, how she makes things easier for him. He just wishes she could understand, but she won't, and she never will. Why? Because he is a scared little boy, and that's all he'll ever be.
"Don't be a dick, Stan," she mutters, words slurring together slightly.
"How high are you?"
"Too high," she answers, trying to keep her composure. That's when he notices her legs twitching, her barely open eyes, a half eaten Cosmic Brownie and a crumpled water bottle on the ground.
"Do you need to throw up?" He asks tiredly, knowing how she can get when she's had too much, and, judging by her sluggish movements, she's nearly there.
"No." She says.
They sit in silence, and for the first time in the history of their friendship, it's awkward.
"I'm mad at you," she says suddenly. "I am very angry with you." Her voice breaks toward the end. He can't see it, but a tear slips down Y/N's cheek, wetting her hair.
He never noticed how much of an effect it had on her when he left. Stan was her only friend, and the fact that he left her alone for some other girl made her understand how fragile she feels without Stan beside her. She hates how dependent she is on him, so she did what any other person would do: pushed herself away. She always thought that it was always going to be just her and Stan, but she was sorely mistaken. It was petty, really. It started off with little things, like being snippy whenever he brought Syd up; then it escalated, and it eventually got to the point where she would leave whenever Sydney was going to come over.
When Stan told her that he and Sydney slept together, it was over.
Y/N hated how many tears she cried for him. She hated the fact that she was never good enough for him. She hated having those stupid memories with him, and she hated the fact that she still loved him. Despite the fact that he seemed to care so little about their friendship, despite the pain he put her through, she couldn't get him out of her head; she couldn't sleep without dreaming of him, and her days were plagued with thoughts of him.
And it broke her to see him so happy with someone else.
So, she cut herself out of his life completely because surely, she would be fine on her own, right?
Once again, she was mistaken.
Despite how hurt and resentful she was, she could not stay away.
"Why? Is that why you've been avoiding me? I haven't seen you in weeks, and now, you come around when you need a hit. And you break into my room and use my stash. What the hell, Y/N? You're angry with me? I should be angry with you," he spits, sitting up quickly.
She shakes her head, breathing out through her nose. She turns onto her side, facing away from him. He feels his face heat up, anger and frustration seeping through every pore, but behind all that—the hurt and the resentment—he feels empty and broken.
"Fucking look at me, Y/N," he grits out, his emotions getting the better of him. Stanley has always been a picker; he pushes and pushes until he gets a reaction out of the person. He did the same with Sydney at the bowling alley (and he nearly got his head taken off) and he does the same with his father. Maybe it's to get a reaction or attention.
"Why are you angry with me? Huh?" He asks again, poking her and pulling at her arm to make her look at him.
"What is wrong with me?" She sits up suddenly, making them nose-to-nose. Stan visibly recoils, brows furrowing and lips twitching. She looks tired, her shoulders sagging.
"What?"
"What is so wrong with me, huh?" Her bottom lip trembles, and tears swell in her red, hooded eyes. "I have been with you through everything, with your dad, your mom—" She looks down at her trembling hands, snot dripping from her nose. She wipes it away with the sleeve of her sweater, sighing weakly. "Then, suddenly, that's not enough, and you ditch me for Sydney fucking Novak, and you—you..." The words die on her tongue, and she looks so sad, her lips puckered to keep from crying any more. "You kiss her and hug her and—" She swallows, pain etching her features. She curls into herself, hugging a knee to her chest. "What is so wrong with me?"
Stan is in absolute awe. He wants to pull her into his arms and sink into the comforter, kissing her, but he can barely move, his heart racing in his chest. He stutters, looking for the right words. This is it; this is the moment he has been waiting for. The past three years he has dreamed of her baring her heart to him, professing her undeniable love for him, but he can't even speak. He is, for once in his life, completely at a loss for words. Whether from frustration or elation, he doesn't know, but he can feel tears forming in his eyes, nose burning and skin clammy. He lets out a breath he didn't even know he was holding on to, his heart racing.
He shakily puts his hands to the crook of her neck, holding onto her warm skin like a lifeline. He looks down at her lips; they're tucked into her mouth, teeth biting at them nervously. His thumb traces the bottom lip, easing it out from her teeth. She looks at him with anxious eyes, wide and pleading for him to make a move.
And he does.
He kisses her.
It's not what he expects, really. There isn't any fireworks or chills, and it doesn't leave him gasping for breath. No, in fact, it feels like he's breathing for the first time; it fills him with warmth and security and such relief. And as she holds onto him, her arms wrapped tightly around his middle, he has never felt more at home. He has never felt so content and peaceful.
"Absolutely nothing," he says after they pull apart, resting his forehead against hers. It feels like there has been a weight lifted off his shoulders. He runs his thumb over her cheek, wiping away tear marks from her skin. She sniffles, leaning into his touch. He kisses her nose, a wide smile creeping over his features.
"There's absolutely nothing wrong with you."
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the-sympathetic-villain · 12 months ago
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You Belong With Me - Chapter 27
AO3 | First | Previous | Next | Masterpost
Description:  Much to his surprise, after being released from prison for a crime he  didn’t commit, Logan has been appointed as a the prince’s new advisor.  
Word Count: 5645
Chapter Warnings are at the end of the post to avoid spoilers. Jump to the end to check them out if you need to!
-
    Logan nearly barreled into Virgil as he stopped abruptly outside the room.
    “Shit—” Virgil swore, turning to bolt down the hallway at a full sprint, not giving Logan a chance to react.
    “Wait, Virgil!” Logan hesitated before chasing after him.
    He barely managed to keep pace with Virgil, catching up only as Virgil paused at the intersection of two corridors. Virgil had paused, running both of his hands anxiously through his hair and swearing under his breath as he paced back and forth anxiously. He glanced down the empty hallways, plagued with indecision.
    “What’s going on, Virgil?” Logan asked, breathing hard as he caught up.
    “Where are the guards, Logan?” Virgil yelled, gesturing down the empty halls. He swore angrily under his breath before taking off down another one of the halls without giving Logan a second glance.. “No. No. NO. Where are you, princey—"
    Chills swept over Logan as he realized Virgil was right. They hadn’t passed another person since they’d left Roman’s suite. Logan took a pained breath and bolted after Virgil, barely keeping him in sight as he turned through the empty halls. “Virgil—”
    “They had to have gone down if they wanted to get him out of the castle, L .” Virgil turned the corner to the stairwell before Logan could even react.
     Logan picked up his pace, desperately fighting to catch up with Virgil as he took the stairs two at a time. He had just watched Virgil disappear around the corner, when he a loud crash shattered the silence around him. He  flinched, turning the corner to see Virgil pinned against the wall by an unfamiliar man dressed in black. Bits of metal armor littered the floor from the decorative display that had been destroyed as Virgil struggled with his attacker.
    “Vee!”
    Logan rushed towards him as adrenaline shot through his system. He'd barely taken a full step by the time Virgil twisted the man’s wrist, pulling himself out of the man’s grip with ease. Logan barely had time to blink by the time Virgil had the stranger on the ground. Logan nearly stopped in his tracks, shocked at how quickly Virgil had disposed of his assailant, but Virgil took a quick step towards him. He gripped Logan's shoulders as he leveraged Logan’s momentum to send him flying down the corridor ahead of Virgil. Out of the corner of his eyes, Logan finally caught sight of at least three other men creeping out of the empty space next to the stairwell as Virgil backed slowly down the open corridor. Logan's blood ran cold as. realization hit him. They'd been waiting for them.
    An ambush—
    “Logan, run!” Virgil cast a look over his shoulder and gave Logan a quick nod before he turned back to face the men, who were narrowing in on him.
    Logan hesitated, stepping backwards as he moved away from Virgil down the hall. He couldn't leave his friend—
    Virgil’s eyes flicked over his shoulder once more as he braced himself for a fight. “Go, L! I can handle these guys! Just get out of here! Run to Patton!”
    “Vee—” Logan’s call was cut short as his ankle struck something solid behind him, toppling him to the ground. His heart seized as as hands grabbed his collar, forcing him roughly to his feet. He struggled against his attacker’s grip for only a moment before he felt cold, metal on his throat. His body went rigid, not wanting to antagonize the sharp blade pressing into the skin on his neck.
    “I think it’s time to stop resisting.” Logan froze, blood draining from his face as he recognized Remus’ voice in his ear. "Don't you, pest?"
    Virgil spun around at the voice and Logan’s heart sank as Virgil’s expression darkened. His gaze flicked over his shoulder briefly, but the other men had stopped in their tracks apparently waiting for Remus’ command. Tension hung over them as Virgil locked eyes with Remus. “You sick son of a—”
    Logan whimpered weakly as he felt the blade dig into his neck. Remus giggled in his ear as Virgil's eyes widened in terror. “I think it’s time to play nice, my loyal, little pet. Roman always gets upset when I break his toys.”
    “Let him go.” Virgil hissed, not moving a muscle.
    His response only seemed to make Remus cackle louder. “Or what?”
    Virgil was quiet, glaring at Remus.
    “That’s what I thought. You may have a fancy title now, but you've never stopped being any more than Roman’s faithful little pet. You’ll do as you’re told,” Remus smiled, leaning into Logan’s ear. “or pretty boy here will pay the price.”
    Logan shuddered as Remus breathed down his neck, but he forced himself to speak. “He’s bluffing, Vee. He needs me.”
    Remus giggled. “Oh, our brave, little knight here knows me better than that. Dee wants you, but honestly, if slitting your throat sounds like more fun, he knows I'll do it.” Remus hummed cheerily in Logan's ear as Virgil clenched his jaw. “Dee will be mad, but he'll get over it.”
    “I do know better.” Virgil growled bitterly, glancing around to keep Remus’ men in his line of sight. “If you’re willing to kill your own brother for whatever your master plan is, I can’t imagine you’d hold back on Logan to get what you want.”
    “Oh, you silly boy. That has nothing to do with what’s going on. Roman's irrelevant at this point. Everything that's happening now is all about pretty boy here.” Remus giggled again, pulling Logan into his chest. A mocking sneer formed on Remus’ face. “I tried to kill my dear brother because I got bored.”
    Virgil stilled, glaring at Remus. For a moment, Logan thought he might snap spoke through gritted teeth. “What?”
   “You heard me right, pet. I got bored. I needed to shake things up and the death of a beloved prince seemed like a good way to spark some chaos in the kingdom. Dee was actually really upset to learn that I'd acted of my own accord but—” Remus paused, raising an eyebrow at Virgil's shocked expression. “What now? Did you actually think I’d do it for power?”
    Virgil snarled at him and Logan could nearly feel the rage radiating off him. He glanced over the Remus' face. Logan chest tightened at the clear, sadistic smile lingered on Remus' face as he leered at Virgil.
    Remus snorted. “Not a chance. This may come as a surprise to you, but I don’t want to become king. I'm not exactly the going to meeting after meeting, duties and caring-about-people type like my dear brother. I'd be happy to see it all burn to the ground.”
    “You did it for fun?” The edge in Virgil’s voice sounded sharp enough to cut glass.
    “Give me a break.” Remus mocked him as he nuzzled his face into Logan’s neck until he squirmed uncomfortably. He looked up at the look of disgust on Virgil's face and sneered happily. “Dee left me alone for too long. I need things to keep me occupied or I get destructive—
    “You piece of—” Virgil interrupted angrily and he stepped forward like he might lunge at Remus, but a sharp gasp from Logan stopped him in his tracks. Logan froze, trying not even to tremble as the sharp blade pressed into his throat. He watched sadly as Virgil retreated a step  submissively, regretful as he held his hands up. Logan's heart sank as Virgil's voice trembled. “I'm sorry. I'm sorry—You’re in control here, Remus. Please, don't hurt him.”
    “That's better, pet.” Remus smirked at Virgil before turning his head back to Logan. He could feel Remus' breath catch in excitement as Logan shuddered from his touch. His voice fell to a whisper, just loud enough for Virgil to hear, as he leaned into Logan’s ear. “You know, killing Roman was almost too easy to be fun. It wasn't fair. Every step fell into place too easily. I mean, not that money was ever really a deterrent, but our dear apothecary didn’t even bother to demand a high price when he sold you to me.”
    Logan's breath caught in his throat. "S-sold?"
    “Oh yes, pretty boy. You didn’t think you ended up in that hallway by accident. Did you?” Remus giggled as Logan went limp in his grip. “It would seem even in your previous life, you were unwanted. All it took was a little capital to get them to send you to your death under the guise of a harmless errand. Honestly, I would have paid more, but they were all too willing to comply.”
    Logan started to quiver in Remus arms, biting his lip as Remus pulled him closer. He whispered into Logan’s ear, grinning as Logan tensed as he breathed down Logan’s neck. “Think about it. If they hadn’t given you to me, we never would have had the chance to have such a good time with you in the dungeons. We never would have realized how special you are—”
    Logan gasped a breath, whimpering as Remus growled into his neck.
    “Leave him alone!” Virgil shouted, rage building in his voice.
    Remus looked up to him and sneered. “Or what?”
    Virgil snarled. He tore his gaze from Logan and locked onto Remus. “Tell me what you want.”
    Remus paused, leaning away from Logan as he raised an eyebrow at Virgil, feigning innocence. “What if I don’t want anything?”
    “You do.” Virgil hissed bitterly.
    “Fine.” Remus drawled dramatically before eyeing Virgil with a dangerous smile. His eyes flicked up to the men behind Virgil. “Let them take you and I’ll let him go.”
    Virgil bit his lip, shifting his feet as the men around him straightened up. “How do I know you’ll actually let him go?”
    “You don’t,” Remus giggled softly, leaning his head into Logan with a dangerous smile. “but you don't have a choice.”
    “Virgil, don’t—” His words were cut off as the blade pressed deeper into his throat. He closed his eyes, holding his breath as he felt a thin line of blood drip down his neck.
    “Shit. Stop. I'll do it.” Virgil held a hand out, gaze linger on Logan as his shoulders slumped. “Please, I’ll do it. Just don’t hurt him.”
    Logan’s heart sank as he watched Virgil stand up straight, holding his hands in the air in surrender. The men behind him moved quickly. Within seconds, they had Virgil’s hands shackled behind his back, holding him tightly. Virgil didn’t struggle, holding his gaze trained on Remus.
    “You’ve got me.” Virgil hissed. “Now, let him go.”
    “Patience, pet. I’m getting there.” Remus nodded at one of them men behind Virgil.
    Logan watched as one of the men behind Virgil reached in his pocket. His eyes widened as he caught a glimpse of the small, dart the man was trying to obscure from Virgil’s view. He leaned forward in Remus’ grip, ignoring the pain in his neck as he called out. “Vee! Look out—"
     He flinched as Virgil turned his head, just in time to catch sight of the man as he plunged the into his neck. Rage boiled in Logan as Virgil staggered and hit the ground. Remus dropped the blade from his throat as Logan struggled and kicked in his grip. He growled, clenching his teeth in anger as the air around shifted. His hair stood on end and a blinding, blue light filled the room as a charge of electricity released from him. He heard Remus groan, loosening his grip enough to allow Logan to pull free. Logan rushed forward, dropping to his knees by Virgil with a gasp. Gently, he leaned over Virgil, resting a hand on his cheek in an attempt to comfort his friend as he murmured quietly beneath him.
    Remus groaned behind him. Logan shot a glare over his shoulder, expecting to him to make a move to grab him again. “Touch him again and I'll kill y—"    
    “And we’re finally getting somewhere—”
    Logan flinched as Remus yelled, sounding almost exhilarated by the jolt of lightning. Remus sauntered over lazily, smiling as Logan glared at him and held his arm out to shield Virgil as he approached. A few feet from Logan, he stopped and sneered down at him before looking up at his men with a quick. The men behind Logan suddenly moved and he glared angrily at them as they passed. Small arcs of lightning traveled up his arm as Logan leaned defensively over Virgil and his eyes glowed a bright, blue as he watched them cross around him to stand behind Remus.
    Once the men had crossed to stand behind him, Remus stepped forward with a wide grin and Logan snarled, bright lightning  flashing as he approached. Anger burned in his chest as Remus crept forward and small flashes of lightning arced to the ground as he leaned defensively over Virgil. He could feel a dangerous charge of power building inside him as Remus approached. The power inside him had grown to nearly unbearable when a soft moan from behind him suddenly pulled his attention. The lightning flickered and faded as he turned down to look at Virgil.
    When he lifted his head again, Remus was kneeled, inches from his face. Logan jumped, lightning flared up around him as Remus grabbed his collar with both hands. Logan released the small charge as he tried to pull away, but the small flare of lightning barely affected Remus."
    "Yeah, yeah. I get it. Kitten's got claws now. Too bad you don't know how to use them." Remus sneered and his pupils glowed green for a moment before he dropped one of his hands and slowly reached into his pocket as Logan watched suspiciously. He pulled out a dart, similar to the one used on Virgil, sneering as he dropped it at Logan’s feet. “Let’s see if you’re more than just a one-trick pony, pretty boy.”
    Remus released him and Logan glanced down at the dart suspiciously as Remus stood up and backed away. His mustache twitched into a demented smile and he chuckled as he signaled for his men to leave, following closely behind them.
    Silence suddenly surged in on Logan as Remus dashed away. Logan quickly picked up the dart and shoved it into his pocket. Shaking, Logan turned back down to Virgil. He watched his friends chest rise and fall and he took a quick breath. Virgil was breathing. That was hardly a high enough standard to warrant ease but Logan was grateful all the same. He turned down to look at Virgil—
    They’re too tight.
    His eyes fell on the shackles behind Virgil’s back. Realistically, he knew moving him without hurting him would be difficult if he didn’t remove them first. He hesitated, watching Virgil’s face as he dug into Virgil’s pockets until his fingers closed in around his lockpick set. He pulled them out, moving to kneel behind Virgil. His hand shook as he finally slipped the pick into the lock.
    The first attempt went poorly. The pins barely moved as the fumbled with the simple lock. His cheeks burned with embarrassment as his numb hands clumsily attempted to manipulate the pins. A sudden bend in the lockpick gave him pause as he nearly snapped broke the tip of the tool in the lock.
    Stop—
    I have to focus.
    I can’t afford to jam the lock.
    With slow breath, he counted in his head until his hands felt steady once more. The second attempt was more successful. He held his breath as the fifth pin slipped into place, gasping with relief as he turned the first lock and it clicked open. Gently, he lifted Virgil’s arm and rolled him onto his back. Watching his friend’s breath, he held two fingers to Virgil’s neck as he checked his vitals. Feeling a steady pulse, Logan took a quick relieved breath as he moved to the next cuff. Feeling more confident, he quickly worked the pins, sighing with relief as the binding popped free. He cast aside the shackles aside, flinching at the loud clang as the metal hit the stone floor.
     A soft groan pulled Logan’s attention back to his friend. With an uneasy glance, he raised a hand to Virgil's face, watching his friend’s eyes flutter on the edge of consciousness. “Vee?”
    Vee moaned quietly in response. His head turned back and forth uncomfortably. His body seized as he nearly stirred awake.
    “Vee, you have to wake up.” Logan lightly touched his shoulder, feeling himself become frantic as he pleaded. “Please, wake up, Virgil.”
    A moment later, Virgil cracked open his eyes, flinching at the light as he mumbled quietly. “Logan? What happened? Is he—”
    “He’s gone, Vee. Don’t worry.” Logan frowned, brushing Virgil’s hair out of his face. “How are you feeling?”
    “It hurts, L.” He whispered. “It really hurts.”
    “It’s going to be okay, Virgil. Let me help you up.” Logan reached under Virgil’s shoulders, starting to pull him to his feet. “I'll take you to Patton.”
    Virgil groaned in pain as Logan helped him to his feet. He spoke through gritted teeth. “No. Not to Patton.”
   “Virgil, you have to get help—” Logan started until Virgil interrupted him.
    “No, L. He’s got princey…” Virgil stumbled but Logan held him steady.
    Logan swallowed a lump in his throat at the thought of leaving Roman with Dee. “I know, Vee. We’ll get Roman but you need help first. You can barely stand—"
    "They ambushed us... to make sure that that bastard got away with princey." Virgil shook his head, speaking between gasping breathes as he leaned his head into Logan’s shoulder. "They could have killed me...and taken you and they didn't." Virgil groaned. "Princey was their target...can’t wait…take me to the king, L.”
    “What?” Logan watched as Virgil slowly pulled his head up to look at him. Logan nearly gasped at the sight of Virgil's exhausted eyes and he could feel Virgil's body radiating heat like he was burning up.
    “We have to raise an alarm…get him home.” Virgil gasped, head drooping. “Can’t wait…might be too late.”
    “If we wait, it might be too late for you too, Vee.” Logan’s chest ached with indecision.
    “I’m fine. No—no poison works that fast. Got time before it does any real damage.” Virgil gasped, clenching his jaw in pain. “Princey, first."
    “Virg—” Logan protested.
    “I swore an oath, L.” Virgil’s voice was quaking but firm. “Have to go to the king—” Virgil exhaled sharply. “—I promised him.”
    Logan’s heart ached, but he nodded. He wrapped his arm underneath Virgil’s shoulder and started to help him down the empty hallway. “Okay, Vee. Let’s bring Roman home.”
-
    Virgil hung off Logan’s shoulder, dragging his feet as they made their way through the corridors. Occasionally, he grunted directions at Logan as he pulled him along. As they walked, the halls gradually filled with people as they approached the bottom of the tower and towards the main court. As Logan's eyes darted around them, he could see that Virgil’s haggard appearance was turning heads. He chewed his lips, tensing as he turned his gaze to the ground, but fortunately, despite the obvious discomfort their appearance caused the crowd, no one seemed willing to stop them.
    The hairs on the back of Logan’s neck raised as he caught sight of the guards posted in the halls ahead of them. Logan dropped his head to his chest, heart pounding in his chest as he avoided the guard’s gaze as he dragged Virgil passed. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see the guard straighten up at the sight of Virgil, staring ominously at them as they passed. Virgil didn't seem to notice but Logan watched the guard cautiously as they made their way down the hall, all the same. The guard made no move to stop them as they passed, yet as they turned the corner out of sight, Logan let out a long breath of relief.
    “We’re here.”
    Logan turned back forward and lifted his head to the entrance of the court. In front of them stood a massive set of dark, red mahogany double doors. The doors themselves stood nearly twice his own height and Logan hesitated, swallowing nervously at the idea of where he stood. Meeting the king suddenly seemed an intimidating prospect and his chest tightened at the mere idea of being in the crosshairs of yet another member of the royal family. His reservations were destined to go unheard however, because at that moment, Virgil pushed off him. He stumbled the door, basically falling in the room as the doors flew open.
    Dozens of scrutinizing eyes turned towards them as they crashed into the middle of the court proceedings. Virgil only managed to stand on his own for a moment before his balance faltered. He swayed dangerously and Logan lunged forward only barely managed to catch his waist before he hit the ground.
    “What’s the meaning of this interruption?”
    Logan flinched and froze as an authoritative voice echoed down the chambers around them. He cautiously lifted his head, pulling Virgil up to support him in his shoulder as he traced the source of the sound to the throne at the end of the room. The ornate, golden seat sat raised a few steps above the rest of the room. A wall of windows brightly illuminated the space around them from behind the throne. Desperately trying to avoid the gaze of the dozens of nobles around him as he looked up at the man on the throne. A red, flowing cape cascaded over the king's shoulders and a large golden crown balanced on top of his golden, brown hair. He leaned his elbow lazily on the arm of the throne, head resting in his hand until he caught sight of Virgil. His eyes filled with concern as he turned his eyes down to Virgil. The king's head raised out of his hand and he straightened upright, looking down at them.
    “Forgive me, your highness.” Virgil dropped his head, breathing heavily as he forced the words out. “I would kneel, but I don’t think I’d be able to get back up again.”
    “It is of no consequence.” The king’s eyes were now focused solely on them. Logan’s skin prickled at the attention and his gaze dropped to the floor uncomfortably. “Why are you here, Virgil?”
    Logan’s ears perked up and he looked up the man in confusion, surprised to hear him address Virgil in such an informal manner.
    “Permission to speak to you alone, sir.” Virgil’s tone was steady as he met the king’s eyes.
    “This is unacceptable! You can’t just interrupt the proceedings of the court. You—" Logan flinched, shrinking close to Virgil as one of the nobles stepped forward and started to yell. He tucked his head deeper to his chest as he braced himself, holding Virgil steady.
    “Granted.” The room immediately fell silent at the king’s response and Logan looked up, blinking in confusion. There was a moment of pause before the nobles began filtering out of the room. He watched as the guards at the king’s sides hesitated, only moving when the king nodded for them to go. Logan’s grip tightened on Virgil’s waist as the crowd filtered around them.
    Virgil seemed to notice his discomfort and he smiled tiredly up at him. “It's okay, L. Don't worry.”
    Logan’s eyes flicked behind them to the door as it closed behind them. The room fell silent and he nodded, heart still pounding in his chest as he turned forward once more.
    “Explain yourself.” The king commanded, leaning forward in his seat.
    “Your highness—"
    “Virgil,” The king interrupted. His expression softened as he smiled gently down at Virgil. “We’ve talked about this. There is no need for you to address me by my title when we are alone.”
    The man's focus on Virgil was so intense that Logan couldn’t help but wonder if he even realized that Logan was still here. Regardless, he let his head drop down and avoided his gaze, still wary of drawing the king’s attention to himself.
    “I'm sorry, Thomas,” Virgil paused, wheezing heavily as he struggled to force the words out. “Roman is in danger. I’m here to ask that you put out an alarm to have him located immediately.”
    The king—Thomas—rose to his feet and slowly stepped down the stairs at the base of the throne as the thought seemed to process in his mind. Logan's knees went weak at the sound of the man approaching, but the man continued to ignore hi, focused solely on Virgil. “What do you know?”
    “The foreign prince that Roman met with today is a powerful fae in disguise.” Virgil groaned in pain, leaning into Logan’s shoulder. “I have reason to believe he was involved in the recent attempt to poison Roman.”
    Thomas was quiet. He stared down at Virgil for a moment before speaking. “Wait here.”
    Logan watched out of the corner of his eye as the king swept around them to the exit. He finally exhaled as the door closed behind Thomas, relieved to be alone with Virgil once more.
    “You don’t have to fear him, Logan.” There isn’t a trace of cruelty in Thomas’ body.”
    Logan shrugged, looking away. “You can hardly blame me for being cautious after meeting Remus.”
    Virgil leaned his head into Logan’s shoulder. “You’ve also met Roman.”
    Logan sighed, looking down at him. “I suppose. How are you feeling, Vee?”
    “Worse.” Virgil muttered bitterly.
    Logan frowned at Virgil, squeezing him tighter. “We need to get you to Patton so you can receive proper treatment soon.”
    Virgil grunted noncommittally into Logan's shoulder as he closed his eyes.
    Logan jumped at the sound of the door opening behind them. He turned his head just as the king swept up behind them. He couldn’t help tensing Thomas reached for Virgil, but the king simply ducked under Virgil’s other arm to help Logan lift him up.
   “Come sit.” Thomas gently started to move him forward. “I want you to tell me everything.”
   A long moment passed before Logan realized Thomas intended to set Virgil down in the throne. He swallowed nervously as he followed the king’s lead. Virgil grunted, as they gently made their way up the few steps and then lowered him on the soft cushions of the throne. Logan took a step back, crossing his arms and watching curiously as Thomas kneeled in front of Virgil.
   “What’s going on, Virgil?” Thomas persisted.
   “I tried to go after him. I swear I did, Thomas.” Virgil’s eyes were barely cracked open as he leaned back into the corner of the throne, mouth hanging open. “but they ambushed us in the bottom of one of the stairwells. They were waiting for us and—and they got away with princey.”
   Logan jolted uncomfortably as Virgil tiredly used his nickname for the prince, unsure of how the king would react to Virgil's perceived lack of respect. Thomas’ eyes merely drifted over to Logan as he moved. He blinked confused as his gaze lingered on Logan shifting uncomfortably before turning back to Virgil. “I have no doubt you did everything you could, Virgil. You were injured?”
   Virgil shook his head. “No, they injected me with something.”
   Thomas’ eyes narrowed in on him. “Have you received medical treatment?”
   Virgil was silent, his eyes closed with exhaustion.
   “He—um, he refused to seek treatment until he spoke with you.” Logan spoke hesitantly when Virgil didn't respond
   The king looked up at him before returning his gaze to Virgil. “Go get treated immediately. This conversation can wait until you feel better." He paused, catching Virgil's gaze. "That is an order, Virgil.”
    “I don’t answer to you.” Virgil muttered quietly.
    Logan tensed, but Thomas merely smirked at him. “I have no qualms ordering the guards to escort you if you’re feeling so inclined to ignore a direct order.”
    Virgil groaned, glaring at him. “Princey needs me, Thomas. I have to—”
    “Let me worry about Roman. I’ll bring him home safe, Virgil.” Thomas paused, looking up at him seriously. “Besides, my son would never forgive me, if I allowed you to harm yourself on his behalf.”
    Virgil gave a dissatisfied grunt.
    “You’ve done your job, Virgil.” Thomas gently grasped his shoulder. “Now take care of yourself and allow me to do mine. I promise you I will bring him home.”
    Virgil sighed.
    Thomas seemed to take that as affirmation that Virgil would do as he asked. “I’ll send a courier the second we find him. Am I to assume you’ll be skipping the infirmary for your friend in the greenhouses?”
    Virgil nodded.
    “I’ll send a messenger there when I have news, Virgil.” Thomas paused. “Do you need an escort to make it down there?”
    “No, I have Logan.” Virgil muttered leaning forward in the seat and holding his face in his hands.
    “Logan?” Thomas looked up at him.
    Logan nodded sheepishly. “I’m Roman’s—”
    “New advisor.” Thomas nodded as he rose to his feet. “Yes, I know. Roman has been keeping me informed of your progress over the last few weeks.”
     Logan bowed awkwardly, unsure of how to address the king in this situation. “Pleasure to meet you, your highness.”
     “Please, you don't have to bow, Logan.”
     The king smiled at him and Logan straightened up nervously with a quick nod.
     “If anything, I should bow to you." Logan's mouth fell open as the king bowed to him with a dramatic gesture before looking up at him earnestly. "I am in your debt, Logan. It would seem it was only by your bravery that my son recovered from the attempt on his life.”
    Logan hung his head as he felt his face flush red. He nodded, unsure of how to process the king's praise. A short moment passed before Logan jumped at a light touch on his shoulder. He glanced over to see Thomas' hand on his shoulder and looked up at the king.
    Thomas’ eye flicked down at Virgil. “Not to mention, it would seem that you are responsible for bringing Virgil to me. I greatly appreciate you keeping both of my boys safe.”
    Logan crossed his arms with a faint, proud smile as he looked up Thomas. “My efforts are a minuscule repayment for what they have done for me.”
    “I am glad they have treated you well, but regardless, I appreciate you looking out for them.” Thomas’ smile was so genuine, Logan couldn’t help but relax. “I do hope you’re enjoying your new position as well.”
    “I am—um, I am quite content in my new position. Working with Prince Roman—” Logan dropped his gaze to hide the blush dusting his cheeks. “—is a pleasure.”
    “Good. Roman has seemed perfectly overjoyed with your appointment. I daresay I've never seen him so happy. He's truly had a new energy since—” Logan looked away nervously as the king paused and a serious expression spread across his face. “—since you began working with him, Logan.”
    A long awkward silence hung over them and Logan could feel the king’s eyes burning into him as he avoided meeting his gaze.
    “Logan?”
    “Yes, your highness?” Logan’s arms tensed across his chest as he lifted his head.
    “Roman didn’t mention you were injured.” Thomas gestured to his face, watching him carefully. “I can't help but feel he may have left out some details.”
    Logan forced himself to remain neutral, but his heart dropped and he shifted in discomfort as the man stared down at him. He looked down at Virgil to avoid the king's kind eyes. “I cannot speak to Roman’s intentions, but I am receiving proper treatment for my injuries, your majesty.”
    “Please, just Thomas is fine." Thomas paused, speechless as Logan avoided his gaze. "Logan, I do believe we have more to discuss regarding your situation to include a proper apology for how poorly your situation was handled,” Thomas sucked in a breath as as Logan finally looked up at him curiously. “I want you to know that that has not slipped my mind and I hope to rectified how you were wronged. You did an amazing thing in saving Roman. I intend to spend the proper time understanding what happened, and fixing what I can, but for now, Virgil has neglected himself for far too long already and I would prefer you take your leave immediately. You are certain you feel comfortable escorting Virgil?”
    Logan stared at him blankly for a moment, processing the king's gentle reassurances, before nodding.
    “I can have the guards escort you, if you would feel safer—" Thomas started to offer.
    “No, please—” Logan stopped, realizing his response had come a bit too quick. He looked up to Thomas' concerned eyes and forced a smile. “Virgil and I will be fine. An escort is not necessary.”
     Thomas hesitated a moment before nodding. He reached down to help Logan lift Virgil off the throne, and once Logan had Virgil wrapped around his shoulder, Thomas spoke again looking down at him with a sweet smile. “I look forward to speaking with you again, Logan.”
    “It would be my pleasure, your maj—um, Thomas.” Logan smiled, bowing his head.
     Thomas beamed down at him.
     “Thomas?” Virgil’s hoarse voice broke the silence.
     “Yes, Virgil?”
     “Save him.”
     Thomas stiffened, suddenly remembering the reason for their visit. “Of course. You have my word that I will bring Roman home safe. Go get yourself taken care of, Virgil.”
    Virgil grunted his affirmation as Logan walked him to the door. Logan nodded to Thomas as he opened the door for them to go, whispering as they slipped out the door.
    “Stay safe and take care of each other.”
-
Chapter warnings: Minor Violence, Knifes, Hostage Situation, Minor Blood but No Major Injuries, Mentions of selling/buying a human being, Manipulative/Degrading Language, Poisoning, Restraints
General Taglist:
@somehow-i-got-an-account @justanotherhumanstuff @im-an-anxious-wreck
You Belong With Me Taglist:
@cas-is-a-hunter @insert-cool-blogname @ironwoman359 @i-know-im-smart @imbadatnames8d @croftersphoenix @optimistic-violinist @chronicallynervouschild @croftersjam15 @actitus-hypoleucos @unbefuckinglieveable @justthatamount @eeveeeclair246 @taxicabinmemphis @theoddkidnextdoor @dwbh888
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goneseriesanalysis · 7 months ago
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Subversion of Tropes
Spoiler warning for Fear, Lies and Plague down below 
TW: mentions of s@xual @ssault and r@pe
In my recent post, Misogyny in Gone, I pointed out numerous instances in the series where misogynistic tropes are present, and how that affects the narrative of the story. The women often seem to be underdeveloped, sexualised and demonised for choices and characteristics that their male counterparts make and have with no consequence. Of course this is not true for every female character, and it is certainly not present all the time, but it still has a huge impact on the story. There is one scene in particular though, that seems to subvert these tropes and I wanted to talk about it as I think it is both a really important aspect of the story and introduces us to a fascinating power dynamic, that I really wish mg had developed further.
The interplay between sex and violence is a theme that is heavily prevalent in Plague and is present in both Lies and Fear. It shows up in many different forms throughout the series and presents itself in multiple ways such as: Caine and Diana’s relationship, Astrid and Orc’s Scene in Plague and Drake with pretty much every attractive woman he comes across. This is a theme that mg writes particularly well – Astrid and Orc’s scene in Plague (with a small cameo from Drake) is one of the best written examples of this trope I have ever read. However, for me personally, this scene is marginally outdone by another example of this trope that occurs in Fear – that being Caine’s cementing.
Not only does this scene have the cathartic tint of revenge to it, but it also subverts this trope in that it is the woman who is the perpetrator and the man (boy) who is the victim. When I first read Fear, nothing about this scene seemed even remotely sexual to me (because I was a child and unless it was outright stated I was never going to pick up on it.) But, when I re-read the scene a few days ago in preparation for my misogyny in gone post, I noticed how reminiscent Penny’s takedown of Caine is to the way women typically experience sexual violence (both in media and real life.)
So the scene starts out with Caine turning up to Penny’s house to discuss the situation with Cigar. Great. Fast forward a bit and we get to Penny outright telling Caine that she has a crush on him….and him outright rejecting her. Instead of accepting this, she pushes, telling him that she could be anyone in his imagination. He rejects her again. And she does not take that well. While she doesn’t show it on the outside, we as a reader get to see her internal monologue, where she has an extremely inappropriate reaction to his rejection. It is clear from this that she feels entitled to his affection, despite him never giving any indication that her feelings were reciprocated. Penny seems to believe that Caine has falsely led her on, but we as a reader know that he has rejected any and all advances that she has made and has not ever, in canon, used her crush to manipulate her. (Before I continue I want to make it clear that I am by no means saying that Caine is innocent. Penny has every right to be angry with him for a multitude of other reasons. But her reasoning here is misguided.) So the first question that this brings to mind is: Would Penny have continued with the cementing if Caine had welcomed her advances?? I think mg left this purposely ambiguous. But I like (and I use this word very loosely) the idea that she wouldn’t have. The trope of a woman having to cater to the desires of a man in order to avoid violence is one that is common in all types of media, and is one that we see throughout Gone as well. The best examples being Astrid with Sam and, of course, Diana with Caine. Both of these women are forced to conform to what Sam and Caine want them to be in order to be safe in the FAYZ, and so mg flipping the switch on this and having Caine’s inability to capitulate Penny’s desires being the final straw to his downfall (even if he was unaware of this fact) is an amazing touch.
This theme is then continued in the way that Penny takes Caine down…by drugging him and incapacitating him. Now, these are occurrences that are usually associated with date r@pe, which is something that is mostly experienced by women. Of course, this is not what actually happened in the book, but the association is there for a reason, I’m sure. Given Penny’s attraction to Caine, her take-down of him is inherently sexual in both its execution and come about. Her extreme reaction to his refusal is probably a result of her less-than-ideal childhood. We are told than Penny’s father used to take inappropriate pictures of her older, but still under-aged sister. When her sister became of age, Penny assumed that her father would move on to her, but instead he skipped her and began taking photos of her younger sister. Mg doesn’t really go into much detail on how this must have affected Penny’s psyche – only that she was so jealous that she took her father’s laptop into the school and showed the other students, resulting in his arrest. It is heavily implied that Penny’s parents were not affectionate – they neglected their children (at least emotionally) and so Penny sought out attention and affection, as any child would. Seeing how much time her father spent with her older sister, and seeing why – it isn’t hard to believe that Penny would equate sexualisation to affection, and even love. (lemme just have a cry real quick.) This makes sense when you take into account her reaction to Caine’s refusal (which was actually pretty mild) and even when you look at earlier events – such as him helping to bathe her. I can’t speak for everyone, but if someone broke MY legs and then came in to help bathe me, I would not be happy, and yet Penny seems to almost enjoy it. We then learn that Penny and her sisters were sent to live with their aunt after their mother became too depressed to care for them. And, once again, Penny found that her sisters were getting all the attention. So she reacted with violence – by putting bleach in her older sister’s cereal. She later found out that her father had committed suicide in prison, after being beaten by other inmates. And so Penny’s formative years have been tinted with sex and violence – two things that no child should be exposed to (although that’s kind of the whole premise of the series.) When you look at her past it becomes clear that her take-down of Caine was an attempt to gain control over one of the many people who have denied her affection in favour of giving it to someone else. As she associates sex with affection, and responds to a lack of affection with violence, it makes sense that she would attack him in a way that is associated with sexual violence.
My final point is in relation to the actions that she takes while Caine is unconscious. She does three things that really give us an insight into her mentality regarding the cementing:
-          She cements him
-          She makes a tin foil crown for him
-          She cuts off his shirt
These actions again are reminiscent, at least subtextually, of the act of r@pe - a sexual crime done with the intent to both incapacitate and embarrass the victim – in essence, a power-play. And this is exactly what Penny does. She begins by entrapping him in the cement, taking his power from him. We know that Penny was not scared of Caine’s power, this was not an act of paranoia as the cementing of the Coates kids was. But rather, she knew how much his power meant to him, how much he relied on it – and she wanted to make him feel just as powerless as he had made her feel. This is further reinforced by her making the tin foil crown. Of course, she partly did this to cause him more pain (she literally stapled it to his head), but the main reason was to embarrass him. To turn his own narcissism against him. And then, to top it all off, she cuts of his shirt – which is just straight up sexual assault. This is the moment in the scene where the interplay between sex and violence really comes out. As she sees it, sexualisation is a form of affection. But as her whole life she has been denied any form of affection she has twisted this in her mind to where she sees violence as a viable outlet of emotions – or rather a replacement for affection. I think Caine’s cementing showed the breaking point for Penny – there are so many things she wants to communicate (her anger at Caine for all the horrible things he has done to her, her affection towards him, her desire for power and respect) and she just doesn’t have the emotional intelligence to do it, due to years of witnessing sexual assault and experiencing neglect. So instead everything gets distilled down into this twisted act of violence where she both expresses all of these things and gets none of them.
I really love this scene as I think it is a great example of mg’s writing ability. I know her attack of Caine was not only due unrequited affections, but I think this side of it is really excellently written, and makes me wish that we has seen more of Penny. I think it would have been a very interesting plot twist and a great use of character if Penny had managed to discard of Drake in Fear and take over his role in the story. Anyway this was only meant to be a short post and I really rambled on (as if anyone is surprised by now). Thank you for reading and please feel free to comment on/ criticise this!! :)
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princesslycoriss · 7 months ago
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Ashita no Joe - what makes it readable 50 years later?
Warning: Major spoilers. Brief discussion of sexism and racism.
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When I picked this manga I knew very little about the plot apart from the famous last page, so my expectations were murky. For such an old and influential series, I didn’t expect it to stand out too much from the genre – in fact, I expected it to be one of the founders of all sports anime tropes and archetypes, just with a slightly more mature tone. In short, what I expected was a classic zero to hero sports tale just without the happy ending. But boy, was I wrong. What I got instead was an emotional roller coaster of a manga that achieved what all great sports series should – transcend its subject matter and become a universal, human story everyone can relate to.
So what it was about this manga that affected me so much?
The art of the lovable anti-hero
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Let’s start with our main character, Joe Yabuki, who we follow over the course 20 volumes.
Who is Joe? Actually, I don’t completely know. The manga spends very little time providing him with backstory. We know he’s an orphan who has been in many orphanages, but ran away from them. There are no flashbacks to his childhood and his struggles on the streets and in the orphanages. But it doesn’t matter – it’s not something we need in order to know him. He’s Joe and he likes getting into fights. That’s all we need to know.
Now, I’m going to get straight to the point. Joe isn’t a good person. Maybe this is harsh to say – after all, he’s just a kid who’s never known family, love and kindness. More like, he’s not your classic shounen/sports heroic and pure main character. In the beginning of the story he has very little redeeming qualities – he has no regard or respect for anything, he gets into fights with everyone, he lies and cheats, gets involved in petty fraud that lands him in prison. He treats everyone awfully, even people who care for him, often getting violent with his coach Tange or his friend Nishi. He even threatens girls like Yoko with beating (that didn’t age well, but more on it later). Overall, Joe Yabuki is violent, rude and often vulgar. He matures in a lot of ways over the course of the story, but the core of his hot-headed personality largely remains to the end.
So, is any of this a flaw for the series? Absolutely not. While Joe’s behavior can easily get frustrating and make you roll your eyes, you could never hate him or resent him for it. You continue to root for him to succeed and to win his fights, and feel for him when he doesn’t, even if he’s been an absolutely insufferable stubborn fool.
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When you look past the rude personality, there are a lot of things that make Joe a hero and make him stay very likeable. It’s his unyielding spirit as a boxer. It’s that he always gets up no matter how many times he goes down. It’s that he makes the impossible possible. It’s what he means for the poor, working class folk who cheer for him – for them he’s a symbol of hope and prosperity. When you see all of this, when you see him playing happily with the kids and using his money to buy people presents, you see that in the end, he has a good heart.
The other side of sports – beyond “following your dreams”
Moving onto the sports aspect of the manga, it starts out stereotypically enough. The protagonist is introduced to the sport – in this case boxing – and decides to start training it. Of course, here our Joe needs quite a bit of persuading to start taking boxing seriously, rejecting Tange’s pleas over and over.  If anything makes this situation unusual is that most of it takes place in a juvenile prison. He finally starts taking boxing seriously when he meets the professional boxer Rikishi Tooru and fights him – a fight, resolved by Joe’s signature cross counter which knocks both of them out. After that, they vow to fight again (as professional boxers) and here we have our main rivalry. Joe’s desire to fight Rikishi becomes a driving force in the first half of the manga, as Joe makes his way into the professional world of boxing with this sole goal in mind. So far, nothing unusual as far as sports anime plots are concerned.
However, boxing is no ordinary sport, but a rather cruel one and we – and Joe – soon get to find out about this.
One of the key fights in the manga is the match between Joe and Wolf Kanagushi, the rookie bantamweight champion. It’s an important match for two reasons – winning this match gives Joe the right to fight Rikishi but also, this match introduces one of the first signs of the upcoming tragedies in the manga. Joe uses a triple cross counter to knock out Wolf which in return leaves Wolf with a jaw fracture and leads him to an early retirement.
Seems a bit dark? It gets worse.
The Joe vs Rikishi rivalry has a catch – Rikishi is way above Joe’s weight class, so in order for them to fight Rikishi has to undergo extreme weight loss, even though he’s warned that this could be very dangerous and threaten his entire career. He does it anyway and there comes the big match of the century between the sworn rivals Joe and Rikishi. Without getting into details of the fight, despite his weight loss and weakened stamina, Rikishi knocks out Joe and wins the match.
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When I got to this part I thought: Alright. There’s a huge chunk of volumes left for them to fight again and again until Joe finally defeats his rival. Frankly, I was expecting a tedious back and forth between the two characters for the rest of the manga. Well, that’s not exactly that happens. Instead, right after the match, in result of the extreme weight loss and a blow to the temple from Joe during the match, Rikishi...dies.
Possibly one of the most jaw-dropping moments of all the manga I’ve read.
What happens next is that the manga takes a very psychological turn, which makes a large part of the second part an incredible reading experience. Rikishi’s death truly shakes Joe to the core and he is plagued by intense guilt. The once brawler Joe is now scared of delivering blows to the head – just attempting to deliver a headshot, he becomes nauseous. After a series of humiliating losses, his career seems as good as over and having lost all purpose, he even temporarily leaves coach Tange behind to travel around as a show boxer in illegal rings.
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Eventually, Joe overcomes his trauma, regains his winning streak and rises in the ranks, but trouble and challenges never leave him. The catalysis of overcoming Rikishi’s ghost is meeting and fighting the 6th ranked boxer in the world, Carlos Rivera (and one of my favorite characters in the manga). While the grandiose fight, where both of them abandon the rules of boxing, is a memorable and vital experience, it is soon followed by another tragedy, as Carlos is left punch-drunk and crippled for life. Though it’s later revealed it wasn’t caused by Joe, it leaves a bitter taste – it’s as if all of Joe’s rivals are cursed and misfortune comes to anyone who fights him.
Later, Joe faces another setback just as his match for the pacific title draws near – he deals with growth spurt and has to take a similar extreme weight loss as the one of Rikishi, which is tragically ironic when you think about it. So was Rikishi’s death basically in vain? If he and Joe hadn’t rushed into a fight, if Rikishi hadn’t gone so far for it, couldn’t Joe have moved up in a higher weight class to fight Rikishi? Could the tragedy be avoided? Ouch.
The manga wraps the whole weight loss aspect in an interesting manner using the backstory of Joe’s opponent, the pacific champion – Korean boxer Kim Yong-bi, who went through traumatic experiences in the Vietnamese war as a child, accidentally killing his father, while trying to steal food. Ever since, he doesn’t fear hunger and fights in a cold blooded manner, viewing boxing as a disciplined, clear way of fighting in comparison to the cruelty and horrors of war. During the fight with Kim, Joe however realizes Rikishi went through a much scarier starvation, being denied not only food, but water as well, all for a “true man’s duel” as Joe calls it. In the end, for boxers like Joe and Rikishi boxing is no different from the war battlefield and they are ready to die on it.
The challenges and setbacks and tragedies, they never end, though Joe somehow moves forward. On simple glance, he seems stronger than ever as he defends his pacific title twice and prepares to fight the world champion Jose Mendoza for the world title. But the people close to him and Joe himself realize something is off – they beg him to give up boxing and feel that his career is over and there’s a very good reason for that. We find out Joe is showing symptoms of punch-drunkenness - the same condition that crippled Carlos.
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Nevertheless, Joe goes on and fights his final match with Jose Mendoza – the world champion is seen as the perfect boxer and is the polar opposite of Joe – well-mannered, well-spoken family man in perfect health. The culmination fight, that should be the crowning moment for any sports hero to finally realize his dream, becomes Joe’s undoing. He’s fully aware that his life is on the line, but he’s ready to fight to his death. Yet this match is not in vain, as even the perfect champion Mendoza is shaken by Joe’s resilience and ability to stand up again and again.
The various struggles Joe faces, the guilt and trauma he has to overcome are all rather fascinating and delve into the often overlooked psychological aspect of sports, the uglier side of a rocky journey that is much more complicated than merely following your dreams. A lot of sports anime and manga deal with the aftermath of losing a game. Very few deal with the loss of something more than a game. Sport, any sport is not just this glamorous utopian world ruled by friendship and hard work. It’s a cruel world of a lot of blood, sweat and tears. It’s an unfair world where the kindest and most hard-working person won’t always be the best and careers are often cut short due to injuries and other circumstances.
In a lot of aspects, Joe is that athlete – not the kindest and most hard-working person, not the one who will give you inspirational speeches about following your dreams – but he’s the kind of athlete that has the steel core it takes to be on top. He overcomes whatever life throws at him and fights on, unfazed by the ever changing chants of the crowd, which is ready to crown him one moment and spit on him the next.
For tomorrow – purpose, redemption and the white ashes
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So, what is the actual purpose of everything I was talking about just now? Is this just a boxing manga with a bleak message that all your dreams and ambitions are doomed, life sucks and then you die? Maybe someone will take this out of it and hate this manga, but I don’t think that’s exactly what the authors wanted to say. Maybe it’s not that deep and it’s meant to be merely a suspenseful sports series. Maybe it’s that deep and they wanted to make us think. Anyway…
I already talked about Joe’s incredible spirit as a boxer that drives him through all those challenges. But let’s dig deeper into his relationship with boxing. What does it mean to him and what is his goal? And most importantly, what does it mean in the grand scheme of things, when you look beyond sports?
The manga’s title says something about “tomorrow.” “Tomorrow” is Tange’s mantra as he tries to convince Joe to become a boxer. Easily, tomorrow could be interpreted simply as a promise for a better future for the characters – Tange, the drunk, disgraced former boxer and coach and Joe, the homeless orphan and street hooligan, as both of them are given a chance to rise above pitiful circumstances. “Tomorrow” is what boxing signifies for Joe – the new purpose it gives him. “Tomorrow’s Joe” is a promise of little better, a little stronger Joe than the one of yesterday.
Of course, things get a bit more complicated after Rikishi’s death, as Joe’s relationship with boxing changes rapidly. In the afterwards, Joe is so lost that he even considers getting himself thrown into prison because he feels he no longer has purpose in society. It speaks volumes about what boxing has become for him – his only meaningful identity is on the ring. And that’s a big reason why the tragic Rikishi accident affects him so deeply. Because the sole identity that makes him somebody who matters, that redeems him – Joe The Boxer – is tainted and shouldered with the guilt of having killed somebody.
But in the same time, once he bounces back from the trauma, he begins to embrace boxing with another purpose – as redemption and as an obligation to Rikishi. Though he overcomes his ghost, Rikishi never leaves his mind. He compares all his opponents to him – he gets angry when he realizes his opponent isn’t as good as Rikishi. He even dedicates his pacific title to him. When you remember how they started out, it’s almost darkly comical to hear Joe repeatedly call Rikishi his best and only friend.
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However, that’s not the only thing that drives Joe. In one of his rare vulnerable moments he explains his friend Noriko why he can’t give up on boxing. It’s rather simple – because he loves it. Those are Joe’s own words:
"I'm not good at explaining, but I'm not boxing because of feeling of responsibility or friendship. I'm doing it because I love boxing. It might be different from your definition of 'youth', but I've felt burning joy many times in my life... on bloody rings! I'm not living my life halfway, even if it is just a second, I burn bright as the sun...and after that only white ashes remain. There is no halfway, only ashes remain afterward.”
This dialogue is a very strong foreshadowing of the manga’s finale, when at the end of his fight with Mendoza, Joe realizes he has finally burned to “white ash”. The ending is perhaps more famous than the manga itself and is meant to be ambiguous – it’s not completely clear if Joe dies or not. But when you give it some thought, that’s not the most important thing because, regardless, he has reached his final point, he has “burned out” and perhaps, “tomorrow” has come at last. It’s the end of his journey.
You can write a whole other essay on the burning to ash metaphor alone, but I choose to interpret it like that: it’s simply about the things that drive us forward and give us a purpose, that make us feel like a somebody that matters, that make life worth living - and at the same time, are worth dying for. Our goals, dreams, ambitions, passions. Without them, we would be nothing. And while the manga seems rather bleak, you could get something positive out of it: that everyone can find a purpose, even someone like Joe.
What aged well and what didn’t
Now that I'm done with general analysis, let's talk a bit about this manga as a product of its time and how it holds up in 2020.
One thing I'd say aged generally well is the art – the first couple of volumes are rough, but it gets more and more detailed and the fights are well-drawn and easy to follow. There are some pages in the later volumes that are just stunning.
Now, let's dig a bit deeper.
It's worth noting there’s quite a bit of social and historical context that made the series so popular upon its release. Joe Yabuki is an icon not just because of his spunky personality, but because he’s the working class hero. A quick research explains: “The story of Joe's rise from nothing touched a chord with Japanese audiences, who were seeing their country prosper after a long period of postwar devastation”.
While modern audience, especially Western audience, may not connect to the story for this exact reason, the character’s journey nevertheless remains universal enough. After all zero to hero is a classic story archetype, especially in the sports genre, though of course, Ashita no Joe is a lot more complicated than that. Overall, the story, characters and themes remain relevant and relatable even if you remove this historical cultural context, so I’d say the series aged well in this regard and that’s one of the things that make it still readable.
If there's something that didn't age well, it's that the manga has some not so politically correct moments, such as the portrayal of some foreign characters and occasional treatment of female characters. Of course, nobody should go into a 50 years old series expecting it to be a progressive utopia. Nevertheless, the dated aspects created the only story arcs I didn't particularly like and I would call weak points of the story, so I'll talk about them anyway.
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I’d give it some points for one thing – it has an important female character who isn’t used for fanservice, which is more than many sports series can say, but the way this character is treated and developed is a bit troubling. The character of Yoko is actually rather interesting – she’s the rich daughter of the Shiraki Gym owner and later takes over the gym herself. Her constant involvement with Joe’s affairs and seeming fixation on him is pretty puzzling as her motives remain a mystery for the most of the manga. I expected her role to be seeking some kind of revenge on Joe for Rikishi, but things went into a slightly different direction.
Anyway, while she had the potential to be interesting character, there were some aspects of the writing I didn't like. For one, there are the constant reminders that she’s, in fact, a woman in men’s world. Additionally, there’s the way Joe treats her, which is…not very good. He always tells her that a woman has no business meddling in men’s affairs, says multiple times she “deserves a good beating”, blatantly threatens to hit her and even gets physically rough with her a couple of times. It's mostly just Joe being his usual self and I'm not saying the authors condone it, but it's a little disturbing. What makes matters worse, however, is that Yoko’s character arc is concluded with realizing she’s in love with Joe.
There are two issues with this. First, as I said, Joe treats Yoko awfully so it makes zero sense for her to have romantic feelings for him, unless she’s just confusing obsession with love, which is plausible actually.
Second, regardless if it made sense or not, it reduced a potentially complex and interesting female character to a love interest. Well, maybe love interest isn’t the right word, because the whole thing only happens at the very end of the manga, but her character still ends up reduced to a girl in love with the main character and her development comes down to trying to save Joe’s life and cheering for him during his final match…This in itself is not bad, of course, and I guess the authors wanted to introduce a more romantic element to Joe’s journey so it doesn’t seem too bleak. It could have been a touching subplot if the build up to it had been done better and the character interactions had been developed meaningfully.
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Another aspect of the manga that didn’t hold up very well is some racist undertones with some foreign characters. It's not too blatant for the most part and there are characters like Carlos, who while a bit stereotypical, are portrayed as likeable and human. It's worth mentioning that the manga isn't oblivious to the existence of racism and even has its Japanese main character experience it, such as the occasions where Mendoza calls Joe a "yellow sheep", so I guess the authors wanted to highlight the issue in a way.
That being said, there's this particular character that comes across as a shockingly racist caricature - Harimau, a Malaysian boxer who is Joe's penultimate opponent before the World title match with Mendoza. Harimau is however portrayed as…well, barely a human being, communicating only with growls. I don’t think I need to explain what’s wrong here.
But even if you ignore the unfortunate implications, the story arc itself was one of the weakest of the manga for several reasons. The whole point of it is that Yoko brings this boxer to Japan to fight Joe in order to awake Joe’s “wild nature” again, feeling he has become too vain with all the media attention. Which would be an interesting plot development if it wasn’t handled so literally. Furthermore, Harimau’s fighting style involves some fantasy techniques like backflips and walking on the ropes that are pretty silly and take out from the otherwise realistic portrayal of the sport.
The whole thing might have been tolerable in the first half of the manga when the tone was less serious, but it felt inappropriate in the very end of the manga, right before the climax. As I previously mentioned, the second part of the manga is generally very psychological and more character driven, so introducing such a flat and silly character felt completely out of place.
Well, anyway, before this gets too negative (because I did love this manga a lot) I think it's important to note: those things are a small part of the manga in the grand scheme of things and didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment at all. I made them sound like a bigger deal than they actually are, so nobody should be put off by it. I’ll repeat that in terms of art, plot, character development and themes it has aged pretty well and is incredibly readable even today.
Final thoughts
Frankly, at some point I wanted to give this manga a 10/10 which I rarely give to anything. My final rating was 9/10. Either way, this is one of the very few series that gripped me in such way and I’ll think about it for a very long time. Would I recommend it? Absolutely. It's not perfect - sometimes it can get tedious and a bit repetitious, Joe's attitude can become a bit too much. But all around, it's a human, engaging story. Maybe not everyone would enjoy it, but I think everyone could take something from it. One thing is certain - it won't leave you indifferent.
Thanks for reading!
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hq-haikyuu-blog · a year ago
Text
A Little Nudge
Kuroo needs a little nudge to confess, too bad jealousy was a shove.
warnings: SPOILERS, cursing, mention of a minor injury, hella tension
word count: 2508
You were the beloved manager for Nekoma High School’s boys volleyball club. You were a third year at this point, having become the manager for the club when you were a first year, so this was your last year with the boys. Over the years, you quickly grew to love all of them like a family, you constantly looking out for them and their well-being and them “protecting” you from “creeps”. 
The first years looked up to you as if you were some kind of angel. They warmed up to you quickly and admired you deeply. To put it simply, they were your little band of simps. Inuoka and Lev would always approach you and try to talk to you, boasting about how strong they are and how easily they could help you carry everything. Meanwhile, Shibayama was the one actually helping you carry things.
The second years cared for you quite differently. Yamamoto was the self declared president of the “y/n protection squad”. He didn’t talk to you very much but he wouldn’t let anyone else suspicious talk to you either. Fukunaga was always making you laugh with his silly jokes. He would approach you with the most monotonous face and crack a pun that barely made sense. 
The third years were sweeties to you. Yaku was always helping you keep everyone in line. You would rarely raise your voice, no matter how boisterous the boys got, so Yaku would do it for you. The team likes to joke that he’s your megaphone. Kai is the support you need to keep coming back every day. Some days as manager are especially stressful or just draining but Kai is always there to help if possible or simply encourage you.
Kenma and Kuroo...they’re your childhood best friends. You had met Kenma first, despite the boy being younger than you, and you had quickly become friends...somewhat. And when Kuroo came along, the three of you were inseparable. You always claimed that they were like siblings to you, but as the years dragged on, Kuroo quickly grew to be more. Things definitely started changing in high school.
First and second year were no biggie. You and Kuroo stuck together like glue during your first year and when Kenma got into high school, the three of you were back together again. But sometime between the second half of your second year and the beginning of your third year, things changed. Kuroo began icing you out for no apparent reason. Kenma ended up drifting towards Kuroo, something he apologized for, but he still made an effort to stay friends with you.
The second and third years on the team all noticed this development as soon as your third year started. You and Kuroo were barely speaking. You only spoke when it was about the team. You had tried to talk to him a few times, only for him to shut you down with bland, one word answers. As the season went on and nationals drew closer, tensions grew and you and Kuroo were avoiding each other like the plague.
On the bus ride to nationals, you had chosen to sit in the middle of the bus, next to Kai, shocking everyone as you would always sit behind Kuroo and Kenma up front. From what you knew, the beginning of the bus ride was fine. You showed Kai the notes you had taken on opposing teams before the both of you fell asleep for a short amount of time. Little did you know, the small action was causing quite a stir.
“y/n-san is sleeping on Kai’s shoulder!” Lev whisper-yelled obliviously. Everyone on the bus turned to look at Kuroo, who had his jaw clenched tightly.
“Good observation, Lev.” Kuroo said from between clenched teeth.
“Don’t you like y/n-san?” Lev prodded the irked boy.
“Lev, shut up!” Yaku snapped, slapping Lev in the back of the head.
“y/n can sleep on whoever they want, they aren’t my problem.” Kuroo retorted, pulling out his phone and pretending to text someone. Kenma eyed him warily before deciding to let it drop. As the bus rolled over a large bump, you and Kai were jolted awake.
“Oh, sorry Kai! I didn’t mean to fall asleep on you like that!” you exclaimed, scooting away from the boy quickly.
“No, no it’s okay, I’m sure it was just an accident.” Kai reassured you, rubbing his neck in embarrassment nonetheless.
“Yeah, an accident.” Kuroo scoffed under his breath. Unfortunately for him, the bus was completely silent as they watched your interaction with Kai, so everyone heard his snarky remark.
“What was that, Kuroo-san?” you asked him in a sickly sweet tone, emphasizing the formality of the name you called him as you used to call him Tetsu.
“Nothing, why don’t you just go back to sleep. I’m sure you’re tired since you’ve been so busy lately, Manager-chan.” he jeered back at you.
“Well, someone has to make sure that the team is ready and in tip-top shape, Captain.” you snapped back.
“Now, now, let’s just calm down guys.” Kai said, breaking the intense stare down you and Kuroo were having while the rest of the team watched on. You slumped in your seat and crossed your arms childishly, frowning as you heard indistinct mumbling from Kuroo. The bus ride was dead silent for the rest of the ride to the stadium. As you all got down and began to make your way to the court your game would be on, you began to pat your pockets.
“Oh no, I forgot my notebook on the bus, I’ll be right back, you guys keep going!” you exclaimed.
“Do you want me to hold the bag of water bottles?” Kai asked, reaching out for the bad hanging on your shoulder and bumping into your hip slightly.
“It’s okay, but thank you Kai! I’ll be back in no time.” you assured before taking off in a slight jog to get back to the bus. You quickly located your notebook when you got back to the bus before beginning to walk back to the stadium. 
“Oof.” someone grunted, the water bottle bag swinging outwards when you turned a corner swiftly, hitting someone in the stomach.
“Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry about that, are you okay?” you exclaimed, waving your hands around in a panic as you observed the person for injuries. He was a fairly tall boy with dark hair parted to the left and a thin face. 
“I’m fine, don’t worry about it.” he said, chuckling good naturedly. “Can I walk you to your destination? Only to make sure you don’t clobber any other unsuspecting victims.”
“Oh, that’s alright, I was just getting back to my team.” you replied, not wanting to trouble him.
“Oh, I see you’re Nekoma’s manager. I’m very good friends with Kuroo, the captain. I’d love to accompany you back if you’ll let me.” he said as he saw the team name on the back of your jacket, a charming smile on his face.
“I mean, if you know Kuroo I’m sure he’d be happy to see you.” you said thoughtfully as you nodded.
“I’m Daishou, by the way. What was your name?” he asked you.
“I’m y/n, sorry, I totally forgot to introduce myself.” you replied as you both began to head back to the main courts.
“Can I carry your bag for you?” Daishou offered, holding out a hand.
“Oh no, it’s not that heavy.” you assured him.
“Are you sure? I’ll be sure not to hit you with it.” he joked. You laughed before allowing him to take the bag from your shoulder and carry it for you.
“So, how do you know Kuroo?” you asked him, not noticing the wicked smirk on his face.
“We met through volleyball. It’s always nice to see him at matches like this.” he replied easily. “And you? I assume you’re friends since you must work together often.”
“Oh...yeah, I guess so.” you frowned, remembering that you both indeed used to be friends and worked well together.
“Did I say something wrong?”
“No, it wasn’t anything you said. Kuroo and I are just having a bit of an ongoing argument I guess.” you replied, trying to keep your tone casual. Daishou was about to respond but you found yourselves at the doors to the courts. As you entered, the Nekoma team immediately surrounded you, Kuroo reaching you first.
“Daishou, what are you doing here?” he asked, the smile on his face contrasting the dark look in his eyes.
“Just dropped by to say hello.” Daishou replied easily as he handed the bag of water bottles to you. “It was very nice to meet you, y/n.”
“You too! Good luck on your matches!” you called as he excused himself and walked away.
“What did he want.” Kuroo asked you.
“What do you mean? He just helped me carry the water bottles and walked me back here.” you replied, frowning at the taller boy.
“You’ve never had problems carrying the bag before.” he accused.
“Well, he offered to carry it for me. What’s your problem? Just because you’re rude to me now, it doesn’t mean other people have to be as well.” 
“Excuse me?” Kuroo asked incredulously.
“Okay, that’s enough. We need to start warming up.” Kai intervened once again, stepping between the two of you. Kuroo gave you one final harsh look before walking away.
The game against Fukurodani was a blur to you. The team felt off, the argument between you and Kuroo putting a strain on the team's communication. Everyone was stoic and silent as the game ended in Fukurodani’s favor. You all quickly made your way off of the court and prepared for the next match, the last shot at nationals.
“Daishou!” Kuroo’s jaw clenched as he saw you wave at the Nohebi boy who he was approaching to begin the game. 
“You guys are going down hard.” Daishou smirked as he reached out to shake Kuroo’s hand.
“Oh, like how Mika let you down hard?” Kuroo sneered as he grasped Daishou’s hand.
“I don’t mind being single. y/n is pretty cute, and from what I’ve seen, they’re single.” Daishou fired back, grin widening at Kuroo’s angry expression.
“Leave y/n alone.” Kuroo spat angrily. The two separated and walked back to their respective sides as the game began.
The game was unlike anything you had ever seen. Kuroo was like a different person. He was on his top game, you doubted anyone else would have noticed the extra tension in his muscles and the clenching of his jaw, but it was undeniable that his presence on the court was unrivaled. So focused on how the game was going, you barely noticed when Kuroo called for a timeout.
“y/n, can you take care of Kuroo?” you were snapped out of your thoughts by Nekomata as he gestured to Kuroo, who stood before you. You nodded stiffly before beginning to walk out to the main hallway where the first aid kit was left.
“...are you okay?” you asked him as he followed behind you.
“Yeah.” he replied shortly.
“You seem off.”
“I’m playing fine.”
“Not like that...you don’t seem like your usual self.” you said, patting the space next to you as you sat on a bench with the first aid kit in hand. 
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” he replied as he sat down next to you.
“Icing me out as usual.” you laughed sadly as you grabbed his hand to begin disinfecting his finger.
“I’m not icing you out.” he hissed, hand tightening around your wrist instinctively as the alcohol hit the injured finger.
“Sorry, sorry.” you said, uncurling his fingers from your wrist as you proceeded more gently. “But if this isn’t icing me out, what is it.”
“I’m not icing you out.” he repeated instead of answering the question.
“Can’t you just tell me what I did wrong?” you finally snapped, looking him in the eye for a few moments before averting your gaze and going back to bandaging his finger.
“You didn’t do anything wrong, okay y/n?” 
“Then what happened, why are you acting like this?” you asked as you finished bandaging his finger, curling his fingers into his palms and resting your hand on top of his unconsciously.
“I like you, y/n. That’s what happened. I’ve liked you for a long time and you clearly don’t like me. Why should I make it harder for myself to move on?” he answered agitated as he stood up and turned to go back to the courts.
“Because that’s selfish and you’re an asshole! Didn’t you ever stop to consider that I might like you too? Or were you just gonna keep being a coward and just ice me out?” you snapped as you zipped up the first aid kit, quickly standing up and grabbing his elbow to stop him.
“This isn’t funny, y/n. Let’s just go back.” he replied as he yanked his arm out of your grasp.
“I’m not joking! This is the first time you’ve let me talk to you normally in how long and you won’t even believe what I’m trying to tell you!” 
“Okay, so you aren’t joking? What does that mean, you like me too?” he scoffed as he towered over you.
“Yes, you dipshit! I like you.” you exclaimed. “Ugh, whatever, it doesn’t matter. The most important thing is we need to get you back in the game.” 
“Hey. We’re talking about this after the game. If we go to nationals, you owe me a date.”
“Awfully confident for someone who called a timeout for a little finger boo boo.” you teased. A smirk broke out on Kuroo’s face, quickly spreading to yours as well at the feeling of familiarity of it all.
“I’ll make you eat your words.” he grinned, walking back into the main gym with you in tow. The game was nerve wracking, but the looks on the faces of your teammates was one of the best things you’d ever seen. You quickly hugged Yaku, who was on the bench next to you, before you felt Kuroo and Kai joining in on the hug.
“We made it.” you grinned into the hug, happy tears brimming in your eyes. As you guys packed up your things to leave the court, Kuroo approached you.
“So, we won.” he grinned at you.
“Uh huh.”
“So, about that date.” he continued, gauging your face for your reaction.
“Hmm...I guess you do owe me a date to make up for all of your shitty behavior.” you joked, though you could feel warmth creeping up your neck in embarrassment.
“Yeah, I guess I do. First free day after nationals?” he asked, rubbing his neck as he suddenly grew nervous.
“That sounds nice.” you replied, reaching out to grasp his hand reassuringly.
“Do you maybe need a bus buddy?” 
“Depends. Can I sleep on your shoulder?”
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fool-of-a-tookworm · 7 months ago
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Books I Read in January 2021
Total books: 5
*quick note: i try my best to list trigger warnings for the books i talk about. if i tw some form of oppression (racism, homophobia, etc.), the assumption is always that these things are challenged in the text, and not that the author is expressing racist views. if a book does perpetuate racist ideas, i will indicate that directly. thanks!*
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1. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Rating: 5/5 stars
Summary: (tw discussions of slavery, genocide & sex trafficking of minors, ptsd, past sexual assault, past child abuse, gore (like a lot), addiction/withdrawal, racism)
“What about the rest of us? What about the nobodies and the nothings, the invisible girls? We learn to hold our heads as if we wear crowns. We learn to wring magic from the ordinary. That was how you survived when you weren’t chosen, when there was no royal blood in your veins. When the world owed you nothing, you demanded something of it anyway.”
It’s hard to say much about what this book is about without giving things away, since this is part of a series, but I’ll try my best. In the finale to the Six of Crows duology, we find the Dregs grappling to cope and recover from the previous installment’s cliffhanger. With all of Ketterdam--and the rest of the world--looking for them, the Dregs are forced to go into hiding, but that doesn’t mean their schemes are coming to an end anytime soon, and this time they’re readying for their biggest, showiest, most dangerous con yet. (Or, “Be Gay Do Crime 2: Electric Boogaloo.”)
Thoughts: I have (almost) nothing but singing praise for this book and this series and I was surprised by just how much Leigh Bardugo’s world and characters wormed their way into my heart. I think about them 24/7 now and I even made a Spotify playlist for this series. The characters in this book are incredible and I love every one of them with every piece of my heart. Even Matthias, who I didn’t really like that much in the first book, warmed to me. (I like him now and I’m mad about it). All the characters, and their development, and their relationships to one another, and their backstories, are really some of the best I’ve seen. I love the platonic relationships, and the romances are maybe some of the best I’ve ever seen too, especially (obviously) Kanej. I will never not be dumbfounded with how much Bardugo managed to write such an incredible romance that subverts almost everything we’re used to associating with what a romantic relationships looks like. Inej is my queen and I would die for her in a heartbeat and I was so happy to see Wylaaaaaan develop in this book, he’s another favourite. Also, just.... Kaz. I love Kaz. I want to protect this boy and give him hot chocolate but I also kind of want to let him keep murdering people.
Even though I did slightly prefer the heist plot in the first book, I have to say the plot of Crooked Kingdom is sheer perfection and incredibly planned out. And obviously, the worldbuilding and magic system are impeccable. I really think I have so much to say about this that I’m just going to link my Goodreads review and let you read that (warning for spoilers).
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2. Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston 
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
Summary: (tw nsfw content, homophobia, forced outing)
Set in an alternate universe where a woman was elected President of the United States in the 2016 election, this book follows the President’s son, Alex Claremont-Diaz, and Henry, a fictional prince of England. The First Son and the Prince have something of a rivalry going on, however, and when a fight causes international scandal, their PR teams force them to stage a public friendship to ease things over. Soon, though, feelings start to blossom, and as public figures, Alex and Henry are forced to decide where they stand on their developing relationship.
Thoughts: *book one of ten for my romance lit class*
Oh, RWRB how you let me down! This was cute and gay and I can see the appeal, but in the end RWRB just wasn't the book for me. It didn't give me the banter that I usually look for when I read enemies to lovers (where were the bants??? enemies to lovers was false advertising since they were only enemies for like, the first chapter and a half and their reason for being enemies was also remarkably petty) and the romance was established way too quickly for my tastes. I also couldn't really connect with the characters very much since they came from far too much privilege (the fictional prince of England and the fictional son of the fictional president of the United States) for me to get invested, plus I don't tend to care for stories about celebrities to begin with. Sure, I was rooting for them to get together but I didn't get that warm, fireworks-in-your-soul feeling I'd have gotten if I truly cared about Alex or Henry. Another thing that annoyed me was how the book seemed open and willing to discuss England's history and its violent past of colonisation (a valid and important topic to explore) but then avoided any mentions of America's own less than savoury past aside from a brief throwaway line that never gets mentioned again, making it seem as though racism and homophobia and colonisation are just a British problem. There were some Republican Bad Guys Who Are Generically Bad in the political subplot, but to me it felt like McQuiston painted them as a small, bigoted minority instead of recognising a wider culture of homophobia and racism being very prevalent in the US. I feel bad for complaining about this book so much - again, I totally understand that sometimes the gays just want to win and read a fun, cute, contemporary romance and imagine a world that's a little brighter and a little kinder. This book was wish fulfillment and was probably very cathartic to write, and that's fine. I really did like the inclusion of historical gay love letters and the discussion of queer people through history since it's a topic I'm very passionate about, and the line "history, huh?" really got me. I know I spent most of this review saying bad things, but this book had its moments, it has an understandable appeal, so I’d suggest reading it to decide for yourself!
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3. One Night Scandal by Joanne Rock
Rating: 2/5 stars
Summary: (tw graphic nsfw content, past sexual assault)
Hannah is an actress taking an undercover job in a B-movie, on a revenge quest to expose the director who assaulted her sister, and she’ll let nothing distract her from her mission. That is, until she meets B R O C K, the sexy cowboy and horse trainer who’s renting his land out to the movie set. Their sexual chemistry is undeniable, but when Hannah finds out that B R O C K has certain connections to the director, she’ll have to make some important decisions...
Thoughts: *book two of ten for my romance lit class*
Here’s the thing. I understand why this book might be appealing to Harlequin fans. It was a straightforward, steamy romance, and I hold nothing against people who are looking for that! My main issue is that One Night Scandal just wasn’t that good of a book. There was no subtlety or nuance to any of the characters, and their motivations and backstories were simply explained in the first chapter, not to mention the two leads were incredibly boring with no real personality. Also, the "subplot" was shaky at best, both taking up way too much page time for a romance book, and being way too confusing besides. I also don't think B R O C K said "howdy" a single time, and I ask of? you, what is the POINT of a cowboy romance if we barely get any cowboy-ing. The sex scenes were very hot, which might be fun if you’re into just pure smut, but I thought they read so awkwardly I couldn’t help but laugh at them.
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4. Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi
Summary: (tw for depictions of the holocaust)
This nonfiction memoir is a short, detailed account of Primo Levi’s year-long experience in Auschwitz before the end of the war.
Thoughts: *book one of four for my holocaust and memory studies class*
This is a difficult book to talk about for a number of reasons. The subject matter is obviously challenging, and I also just don’t think a Holocaust survivor’s harrowing personal account of survival is something that can or should be consumed for entertainment purposes, when reading books for fun is how I’m used to running this blog. Even when I’ve covered nonfiction books or books for school there’s definitely always an element of entertainment value even in the books that deal with serious topics.
Having said that, I believe Survival in Auschwitz is a must for people who would like to educate themselves further on the Holocaust. Levi is a talented writer and describes all of his experiences vividly, often detailing how he felt as he arrived at the concentration camp or his interactions with the other prisoners, and the friendships he formed. I especially liked Levi’s meditations on human nature that was spread throughout the memoir and the surprising note of faith in the goodness of humanity he carries throughout, despite everything he went through. It’s not always an easy read, though I did think that the almost academic, factual tone this book takes on makes it a little easier to digest than other Holocaust literature, at least for me, and either way I would highly recommend it.
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5. Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray
Rating: 5/5 stars
Summary: (tw period-typical racism and homophobia, ptsd, past sexual assault, grief, depictions of illness/pandemic)
The second book in The Diviners series, a fantasy/horror series set in 1920s New York that follows a group of teen ghosthunters with supernatural abilities (more or less). In this book, the city is gripped with a puzzling sleeping sickness, where victims fall asleep plagued by horrific nightmares and never wake up. Dreamwalkers Ling and Henry have their own personal motivations for travelling to the dreamworld every night, but they find that their abilities might provide the key to unlocking the mystery behind what’s causing the sleeping sickness, and with the help of their friends, might be able to save the city. (This is a terrible summary I’m so sorry).
Thoughts: Aaaaahhhhhh. This is a reread, first time on audio but probably fifth time reading, and all I can possibly say is AAHHHHH. Lair of Dreams has always been my favourite book in the Diviners series and after hearing January LaVoy’s superb audio reading, I stand by that opinion.
A lot of Diviners fans complained that this book has a slower pace, which is true, and I am absolutely someone who enjoys slower-paced stories, but I truly think it works to the book’s credit here and I... don’t totally get why people are so worked up about it? Lair of Dreams has a good, solid mystery at its heart - probably more so than the mystery in the first book - and I absolutely love the way the plot comes together. It’s also (in my opinion) the scariest book in the whole series; the idea of falling victim to your own dreams, and not being able to escape that, is terrifying. And those ghosts in the subway tunnels? Literal nightmare fuel, I have dreaded riding the subway alone at night ever since reading this book when it first came out. Libba Bray sure knows how to write horror.
I haven’t even gotten to my favourite part of Lair of Dreams yet, though, which is the characters. That’s true for the whole series, but especially here, and honestly a lot of the “slow pace” of this book is owed to the slow development between the characters. First there’s Evie, who was the star of the first book, and while she still has a prominent role and plenty of page time, Evie takes on a bit more of a major supporting role. Still, I love everything about her in this book. This is the book that really sold me on Evie/Sam, because god fuck they’re just so GOOD. I adore the scene on the rooftop where they watch the fireworks and have their heart to heart. Their banter is also 10/10 and they just fill me with so, so, so much sheer unadulterated joy.
And then. And then. And then there is Ling and Henry. Henry had an extremely minor role in the first book, and Ling wasn’t in it at all apart from half a page in the epilogue, but they’re clearly the stars of the show here. I adore Ling, and Henry is probably my favourite character in the series. Their friendship is beautiful, endearing, fully believable, and definitely my personal favourite relationship in the series. Ling and Henry completely warm my heart, their personalities clash so well and it’s just so damn nice to see a central male/female fully platonic relationship in media. Even though they’re different as night and day on the outside, and have very different philosophies and upbringings, there’s an intimacy between them that .... seriously, you just have to read the book. (Also, speaking of Ling, I never realised JUST how sapphic Ling and Wai-Mae’s relationship was until now but holy shit that was gay).
Finally, because I’ve been talking long enough without really saying anything, I want to take a second to talk about that climax. The dream world and the dream tunnel are terrifying, and I love how the whole cast comes together to solve the mystery and save the city and all end up going on their separate paths, though the focus is still very much on how Ling and Henry defeat the main villain. It’s just so fucking GOOD and satisfying to see them all assembling.
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moodysnowflake · a year ago
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Hello there!
Warning guys, nasty SPOILERS ahead, both of FFVII (+ Remake) and FFVII Crisis Core.
The severity of spoilers is arguable, it depends on the level of involvement you have or you got in the series, so please be aware that what you're stepping onto might be a wildflower lawn as much as a war minefield.
I saw, read and heard a lot of people complaining about Cloud's dancing scene/minigame, grumbling about how:
1. Stupid it was;
2. Degrading it has been;
3. Zack would have been disappointed.
Let's take it in strides, shall we?
1. Stupid? I'd rather say silly, more than stupid. Stupid means doing something that you've no idea how/why you're doing. FFVII never made that a mystery: there was a goofy vibe in the original too, and that was on purpose. You couldn't handle the story otherwise, it would just have been a mess of violence, death, tears and blood. Light moods are needed for you to recuperate, recharge batteries and balance. Otherwise, we all would've ended up like Sephiroth.
Character perspective wise, Cloud might not have understood from the beginning (as much as I love him to the bottom of my essence, he's not the sharpest knife in the drawer - that's also why Sephiroth can do what the fluff he wants) what the hell Aerith roped him into, but when he gets the idea he accepts it (in his very Cloud way) and faces it with one of the most determined look he has ever sported. He's willing to let himself be dragged on and about the stage by Andrea, because he knows this is for Tifa, so it doesn't matter if he has to shake is ass in front of a bunch of strangers. He never really cared about his reputation since Crisis Core; he doesn't care about what people think, he's doing it for the woman he loves (shut your trap, he loves her as much as she loves him, he just needs time to untangle himself from his nightmares - and someone smacking him on the head really hard).
Secondly, player perspective wise, is it really such a stupid section? How many did manage to get a perfect score on the very first try? Camera speed, moves and angles pulled some interesting stunts, didn't they? Tricking your depth perception, together with the lights going bananas. Even if they weren't; everything has been coordinated and perfectly synced with the music. If you'd refrained for two seconds from blabbering insults you would have noticed that you could've actually used lights as another cue to help you sync, with the music and Cloud's movements. It's called peripheral vision, you need to expand your focus as much as you can and split it both on the background and the forefront. That gives your brain the capacity to better throw information at you so you can react faster, 'cause you're actively trying to remain perceptive of your surroundings too. Just like in battles.
If that shooting dynamic would have been present during battle, nobody would have survived, not even a doomrat.
2. Talking about degrading. Did Cloud strip naked? Did he have to put on a honeybee outfit? As much as he was very uncomfortable, Andrea (a.k.a. the game) pushed him only up to the limit that still felt secure enough and over which it could have been really perceived as abusive. Andrea could have done that and Cloud would still have obliged (because Tifa) but his objective was not humiliating him. He wanted to play with the dangerous SOLDIER, over which he, paradoxically, even for a tiny bit, had the power and control. Still, he didn't overdo nor overuse it (that is some good representation of a BDSM Dom, btw).
Moreover... I mean... Did you really look at him? Those were not exactly noobs moves, he nailed that too (but that's something I'll talk about next).
About the dresses: are you seriously complaining about them? I admit that the black/white one is not exactly the best (but it's your fault for ditching all Wall Market's quest... you had it coming), and I prefer the blue corset one over the lilac/black silk.
Point is: you have to sneak a guy who's built like a fucking BRICK WALL into Corneo's audition. How in the ever-loving hell are you supposed to do it? The only things playing in Cloud's favor are his facial features and his height: he's the smoothest skin I've ever seen, light jaws and is compact enough not to stand out too much among average-height girls, but that's it. He has shoulders and muscles for days. You have to cover him as much as you can, and how would you do that, if not with a broad gown, puff-sleeves, and a corset? If you're wondering about the chocker/high neck+thick necklace: it covers the Adam's apple, genius... And all the frilly, shiny laces of the lilac dress and the extensions are needed to divert the attention from his neck, clavicles and forearms, otherwise, you'll notice the buff.
That's why he had to look like a Victorian maiden.
Putting him in a catsuit, with latex or leather stretching over every inch of skin, or a sundress, with arms and legs on display... That would have been a bad idea.
Andrea is talking about not being afraid, and that's an awesome message: if you feel comfortable and beautiful, why not doing it? If you're happy, do it. It's not your problem if other people are insecure about themselves and try to pick on you because they're afraid and, most of all, jealous of your confidence, identity, and fortitude. They're just disrespectful and sad, and you should avoid them like the plague.
And again, Cloud doesn't seem that much fazed about it. I think he's more annoyed than anything; having to move in that huge-ass skirt, squeezed in a corset which is not letting you breathe and turn around would make everyone who's not used to it lose their shit. Women or men, regardless, it's a pain either way, especially if you're a fighter and need to move freely. Also, if you notice, the heels he's put in are not that much higher than his combat boots... Sure, they're thinner, but that's why he's not wobbling like a newborn calf. Did you see him swaying through the streets? That was some awesome heel-walking.
What ended me was how he was moving after he woke up. Have you seen how completely ungraceful he is, and at the same time fluidly stands to check on Aerith and doesn't trip over his own feet? In a dress like that, being that agile is shamefully amazing. Then, he swings like he's in the SOLDIER uniform, spine blocked because of the corset, moving his center of gravity too much because of too broad steps, awkwardly bobbing, switching too much weight from feet to feet, getting his stance rigid. That's precious. And hilarious af.
He has to held still as much as he can to try and convey the feeling of being scared, but we know he's just trying really hard not to wreak havoc in the audition room and slaughter everyone.
(Despise lighting, which being warm oriented would have mingled with the blue of his irises and shift them to green, I still believe that in that scene his eyes were going mako. In some millisecond-split moments, they seem to really flash out. That's hella relatable: you're using all your self-control not to cut open the scumbag who's lusting and sniffing and drooling and being awful to your friends. Plus, you're being groped and talked down too? The only thing you can do is look, and boy does he Glare™
(Cloud is not afraid/disgusted of other men touching him, but people seem to forget it. He just doesn't want Corneo to touch him. He doesn't move when Andrea touches his lips nor react when he swings him around in the dress, he doesn't move when Biggs pats him on the head on the pillar (I bet he would give everything to have Zack do that again, just one more time...dammit [I know what happens in the final cutscene of the Remake, but the post below this one explains why I think this]), he doesn't pull away when he grabs his hands, and not only he grabs it back, but grasps with the other one too. [Captain Levi vibes, anyone?])
He didn't have control over his eyes and I firmly think he didn't even intend to; he let them glow on purpose, just because that was the only thing he could unleash and nobody would have noticed.)
Cloud dancing is not stupid, nor offensive. Cloud is a loyal, caring friend, who doesn't have prejudices and is comfortable (as much as he can be) with his sexuality and identity that he's not questioning it nor getting scared (and violent) at the situation.
Do I have to dance and dress like a woman to help my girl? If it's the best way, so be it. She needs my help, I'm not gonna let her down. Gonna be a pain in the ass to fight, but I'll manage. I'm not that insecure of myself that a dress is going to make me have an existential crisis.
If you're a man or a male, and your friend/lover/person you cherish would ever be in a life-threatening situation (and this is, 'cause if they were on their own, they would have died), and the only option would be for you to dance and put on a dress to save them, but you refuse because you have to dance and it's a dress... Just a fucking dress... Well... You're not that decent of a friend, nor human being...
3. So. About Zack. If you think he would've been disappointed/disgusted... Are we talking about the same character? 'Cause I think we're not.
Zack Fair, SOLDIER 1st class (previously 2nd), 6 foot and a ladder, black hair, blue eyes, scar on his left jaw. Droll af?
Just because he's a legend, a powerful, passionate and strong-willed person, doesn't mean he couldn't be a quirky dumbass.
The first line said to him in Crisis Core is "Get serious" by Angeal... Angeal who described him to his mother as a PUPPY.
The same guy who jostled his mentor, a fucking SOLDIER 1st class, in front of their boss, when he knew he recommended him.
The same guy who tried to get Aerith on a date after 5 minutes.
The one who grabs a parasol to fight troopers without breaking a sweat.
The one who faked defeat by sixth-grade-Yuffie in Wutai.
The one who dances with the Cactua he summons?
When Angeal discusses the plan and tells him to charge the front gate of Wutai on the first game mission, he's jumping like an over-excited dog.
And, most importantly, the only living being who actually managed to:
- Make Sephiroth care (after Hollander with implanted Jenova cells escapes, he tells Zack Genesis’ copies had been seen in the slums... And with that frigging Knowing™ look, and a smirk, he tells him "Permission to return... Granted", Seph's gentlemanly way to say 'I know you have a girlfriend down there, you should go check on her':
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Then Sephiroth says goodbye first
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And fucking smiles (Zack wasn’t able to see it ‘cause he was already walking away)
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- Yell at him over the phone and live;
- Pull a GENUINE laugh out of him. When they're trying to locate Angeal and Genesis, Sephiroth calls him. The conversation goes as:
S:"You and I are gonna find them [Gen & Angie] before they [Shinra] do, and..."
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Z:'And WHAT?!?!' *angry bark, to which Sephirot pulls the phone away*
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S:"...Fail to eliminate them"
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Z:'For real?!'
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S:"[AMUSED HUFF] Yes, for real" *playful mocking of Zack's words*
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Okay, that was a huff, BUT STILL... Not even Sephiroth (when he was still a human being...because yes, he was, and a pretty decent one too) was immune to his Puppy Dog Energy. Look. At. That. Smile.
So this is what I think.
The only thing Zack would be disappointed about would've been Cloud not dancing enough.
Heck, he would've jumped on the stage as soon as given the signal and dragged Cloud along, yelling in his face to be heard over the music "This is gonna be great! Let's show them what a SOLDIER can do! We're gonna put all these cute bees to shame!" ᕕ(ᐛ)ᕗ
Then again... If Zack would've been there...if we think about it, a part of Zack was there.
During his childhood and infantry training, I seriously doubt Cloud had any occasion to dance or learn how to do it.
Plus, he couldn't have done it during his 4-years mako-comatose state.
This doesn't leave that many options.
It is very likely that, like his fighting ability, his dancing moves were coming from Zack's memories too.
In a way, we can say that Zack, in the end, was there on stage with him.
Gosh, I'm gonna cry so much... ಥ_ಥ
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terramythos · 12 months ago
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TerraMythos' 2020 Reading Challenge - Book 29 of 26
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Title: The House in the Cerulean Sea (2020)
Author: TJ Klune
Genre/Tags: Fantasy, Comedy, Romance, Found Family, LGBT Protagonist, Third-Person 
Rating: 10/10
Date Began: 10/13/2020
Date Finished: 10/18/2020
Linus Baker, a forty-year-old caseworker for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth (DICOMY), lives a solitary and mundane life. But when he’s summoned by Extremely Upper Management and given a top-secret case, everything changes. Linus is sent to the classified Marsyas Island and tasked with investigating an orphanage housing six dangerous magical children-- including the Antichrist. He is to live among the residents for one month, record his observations, and report back to the organization. No more, no less. 
The master of the house, Arthur Parnassus, is a mysterious and enigmatic man. But Linus soon learns that Arthur will do anything to protect his wards. As Linus grows closer to Arthur and the children, a secret from the past and prejudice of the present threaten to destroy the orphanage and their way of life. Linus must decide if he can abandon the world he knows in order to help the ones that need it the most. 
"Fire and ash!” Lucy bellowed as he paced back and forth. “Death and destruction! I, the harbinger of calamity will bring pestilence and plague to the people of this world. The blood of the innocents will sustain me, and you will all fall to your knees in benediction as I am your god.” 
He bowed. 
The children and Mr. Parnassus clapped politely. Theodore chirped and spun in a circle. 
Linus gaped. 
“That was a lovely story, Lucy,” Mr. Parnassus said. “I especially liked your use of metaphors. Keep in mind that pestilence and plague are technically the same thing, so it did get a little repetitious at the end, but other than that, quite impressive. Well done.” 
Minor spoilers and content warning(s) under the cut. 
Content warnings for the book: Semi-detailed discussions of child abuse and trauma. Internalized fatphobia (challenged). Structural discrimination, and hatred/prejudice associated with that, some of it internalized. 
I'm going to have a hard time reviewing this book, because it was so goddamn good I don’t think I’ll do it justice in a few short paragraphs. So here’s the fast version: The House in the Cerulean Sea was a fucking delight to read from the first page. It’s full of genuine humor, magic, and charm, while being just this side of heart-wrenching. Though geared toward adults, it’s the first novel I’ve read in a long time that captures that childlike enthusiasm I used to have when reading a good fantasy book. It takes place in a world with magic (obviously), but it’s 98% character-driven. Both the main plot and the (queer!) romantic subplot are woven together so well that neither feel tacked on or lacking. The found family hit me in the emotions again and again and again. I read books out loud, and I spent the last third of this book struggling because I kept fucking crying and having to take regular breaks before continuing. And then I went through the whole book to find a good quote for this review and ended up fucking crying again. So yeah. 
Ok. Got that off my chest. Usually in these reviews I talk about what I liked and then what didn't work for me or confused me. The good news (?) is I have zero complaints or critiques on this one. So you just get to hear me gushing about it for a while.  
Since this is a character-driven book that’s where I’ll start. Linus Baker, the protagonist, is great. Let me just say I love speculative fiction books starring older characters. At forty, Linus isn’t old, but it feels like the majority of spec fic stars people under thirty. Linus is also a conspicuously ordinary guy; prim and proper to a fault, no magic, oblivious in many ways (including to his own loneliness), but with a hidden sense of justice and protectiveness for people that comes out more and more. His development over the course of the novel and how much he grows to love and care for the other characters is just so good. The writing draws attention to this through repeated phrases and jokes one doesn’t expect to make a comeback (more on that later). Seeing him come out of his shell and stand up for what’s right is cathartic as hell. As a side note, it’s also nice to have a fat protagonist who struggles with his self-image but gets warm affirmation and support from his family and love interest. 
Arthur Parnassus, the deuteragonist and said love interest, is more of an enigma. A lot of his motivation and behavior makes sense once you get his Tragic Backstory (TM), and I think this will be a fun book to reread based on that. I picked up on some of it before the reveal, but not everything. But without spoiling it, I do love seeing an older (mid-forties) father figure who would do literally anything to make sure the children on the island have the care and love they need. Seeing his patient love and acceptance of them tugs my heartstrings. Maybe I’m a bit of a sap. Linus and Arthur’s obvious mutual crush on each other is also really cute, okay. There’s something about older queer people finding love that makes me smile. 
And the children are great too, of course. I really liked each of them and thought they were all unique and interesting. My favorites are probably Lucy the six-year-old Antichrist, Sal the were-Pomeranian (his arc just really hit home for me), and Talia the gnome. They all have such distinct and fun personalities, and seeing them interact is great and often hilarious. I’m not very paternal, but I love seeing children with sad/abusive pasts blossom into their best selves with love, guidance, and support. It’s uh, a little personal. I’d be remiss not to mention Zoe, the resident island sprite, who brings a whole lot of personality and rounds off the group. 
When I say the story is character-driven, I mean it. While a fantasy novel, there’s not any significant violence or action in the story (except for maybe one scene if you squint). The House in the Cerulean Sea is carried by its characters, interactions, and worldbuilding. The humor and inherent charm helps too -- and manages to do so without ever feeling trite. I can’t help but admire that. I was never bored; I honestly enjoyed every page because I liked the characters so much. Not to say there isn’t an overarching conflict with the whole DICOMY thing, but most of the focus is Linus struggling and coming to terms with his discoveries-- about the others and himself, and how he can make a difference on a grand scale. To me that kind of stuff is captivating. And boy does seeing someone find the place they belong get me. As I said, found family is a big thing in this book. 
Aside from that, the writing is just super; it literally had me laughing from the first page. I can’t believe the fucking lemur joke came back at the end, too. But on that subject, I love that this book utilizes recurring jokes and phrases to show Linus’ character development. In particular, “see something, say something” and “don’t you wish you were here?” have VERY specific meanings to Linus at the beginning of the story, and over time transform into the polar opposite. I’m  holding myself back because I don’t want to spoil shit, but if you read it you’ll see what I mean. There’s also a lot of meaningful callbacks to certain dialogue earlier in the story and I eat that kind of stuff up. But even small details, like the early quip about Linus forgetting his umbrella, come back to deliver an emotional gutpunch near the end. So thanks for that, Mr. Klune. 
The book really takes a turn in the second half of the story, which is a tad darker. Avoiding the Actual Spoilers, this is where prejudice and hatred of the outside world become a bigger part of the story. We learn what’s really at stake, and that this wonderful found family in the first half is threatened by a world that hates and fears them. Boy does that shit get emotional REAL quick. Yes the allegory is obvious. No, that’s not a bad thing. Ultimately, The House in the Cerulean Sea becomes a story about love, hope, and change; and boy does that shit strike my gay little heart right where it hurts. 
If you’re looking for a (literal) magical pick-me-up (ignore my comment about crying a whole lot) with INTENSE found family vibes and a side helping of queer mlm romance, dear God read The House in the Cerulean Sea. I don’t think I did it justice in this review; just trust me, it’s real good. My only complaint is that it ends; I want more, damn it! 
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haloshornsinkstains · a year ago
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Two Weeks [Obey Me]
Kore and Belphie, post lesson 16 (spoilers if you’re not there yet). 
--
Two weeks. It had been two weeks since the incident. Two weeks of the boys fussing over her.   Two weeks of Mammon clinging to her almost 24/7 (not that she could blame him) and sending death glares at the youngest when he dared show his face. Two weeks of outbursts that ended in her yelling that she was not Lilith and could they just STOP. Two weeks of Beel's quiet sadness. Two weeks of nightmares. Two weeks of Belphegor avoiding her like the plague.
It was enough.
It's not that she wasn't scared, the nightmares were proof enough of that. In the midst of all her apologies to Barbatos about being spotted and messing up he'd warned her she would probably never forget this, despite the merge, apologised that the best he could do was offer something to help her sleep, to combat the nightmares. She'd refused. "I don't run from my problems Barbatos." She sighed. "Even when that problem is someone trying to kill me." He sighed, she wasn't wrong. How many of the brothers had tried to kill her now? She offered him a small smile, weak but there. "Can I ask something?" He shook his head. "Lord Diavolo will not let you go back in time again." Kore waved a hand dismissively. "I'd rather not. Just… when you collapsed the realities…" she swallowed hard, staring down into the teacup as if it would give her the answers "promise me they're not all there waiting for me to come home?" He watched her carefully for a few moments, handing her a handkerchief as tears started to roll down her cheeks. "This is the first time I've seen you cry since that night." "Barb… please?" "That reality no longer exists. There is no one waiting for you there because there is no there." "Okay. Thank you." She dabbed her eyes gently. "He looked… they all looked so broken when they thought I was gone. I couldn't do that to them again. Not when they wouldn't know. After I made that terrible joke about haunting them." "You had better run along home now my lady, else Mammon comes after my head." She gave a small strained laugh at that, he knew she didn’t like the formalities, they only came out when she was in trouble or he was trying to distract her. "Thank you Lord Barbatos. And sorry again for all the trouble." He rose, taking her teacup and setting it down on the tray before guiding her to the door. "Don't be, it's a welcome change to be surprised for once." She paused at the door, enfolding him in a gentle hug. 'Full of surprises indeed.' He thought, though he didn't push her away. She gave him that sad smile before she made to leave for real this time. "One last thing Kore." She turned, one eyebrow raised. "My Lord has decided not to punish Belphegor any further." A long exhale. A nod. This time the smile she offered him had more life. "Let's have tea again Barbatos."
It's not that she wasn't angry either. She was furious. She had trusted him, had wanted to help him, she had put her faith in him and he had abused that. Had manipulated her and used her and to top it all off the little shit had killed her. She was almost used to the boys trying to kill her at one point or another, Lucifer had tried twice and been very serious about his intentions. But it had always been part of some loss of control, Leviathan had been so jealous his sin took over, Beel had been hungry and pissed about his custard and Lucifer had been absolutely fuming, both times. Angry in a way that made it abundantly clear where Satan had come come from. But Belphie hadn’t been out of control, maybe he had been angry, but he wasn’t angry at her specifically the way the others had been, he had been utterly fucking delighted when he was killing her. She could almost understand why he might blame humans for Lilith’s death, maybe even stretch towards understanding some of the anger - after all if someone had hurt someone she cared about then… well, it was good no one really had. But this was more than that, this felt like utter betrayal after she risked her life for him. The image of his smile as he killed her flashed through her mind, it was terrifying sure, but more than that, the manipulation and betrayal and being blamed for something that happened hundreds if not thousands of years before she was even thought of pissed. her. off. Everything she had done to try and fix the bonds between the brothers was crumbling around her because one demon had to hold a grudge and she was utterly done with that.
But more than the fear and the anger she was sad. Sad to have been betrayed by someone she thought she was growing to like. Sad to see the hurt and worry on the brothers faces. Sad to have lost the quiet comfortable feeling of home she got from the House of Lamentation after all this time. She felt like she’d apologised a thousand times, for being careless, for getting hurt, for making Mammon so upset, for making all of them so upset and worried. The sadness crept into everything like an infection, dampening the anger and the fear.
So here she was. Scared. Angry. Tired. And still determined to fix this goddamn family. And there was Beel making his sad puppy eyes at her again. ‘ Demons should not be capable of sad puppy eyes’. “Beel?” He startled, flinching away from her slightly, his cheeks flushing when her face fell. “Sorry.” Kore reached out, gently placing her hand on his. She worried her bottom lip between her teeth for a moment, steeling herself. She had to do this, she worked too hard on repairing their relationships to let one asshole with some truly terrible decision making skills break everything. “Where is he?” He flinched again, even as he tightened her grip on his hand. “Um… the attic I think.” ‘Right. Of course he’s in the attic, no one goes up there. Though I guess whatever spell Lucifer put on it is broken now if he can get up there. ’ Kore nodded. “Okay.” As she stood and turned to leave he caught her wrist in his hand. “Do… do you want me to come?” “I wish I could say I’d be okay but, please? I’d appreciate it.” He nodded, following her up towards the attic.
Belphegor was curled up in a pile of blankets, cuddled into his pillow like she’d found him so many times before. Back when the door was locked and she was trying so desperately to get him out of there. That might not have been this Belphegor, but the memories were the same even if the demon in them wasn’t the one in front of her. Or hadn’t been. Time travel and alternate realities made her head hurt. He stirred as they approached, slowly lifting his head to blink sleepily at them. It took a few seconds, but when he realised she was there he blanched, shifting back like a cornered animal. She wondered if maybe she should be a little pleased, be glad that he was worried, but he had the same damn sad puppy eyes that Beel did and she couldn’t help but feel a little guilty. Even if he had murdered her, she’d seen the way the others looked at him now. The way Mammon looked at him in this reality. So different from the one she came from, and dammit she needed to fix this. And she needed to mend things if she ever wanted to sleep right again. If Mammon ever wanted to sleep right again too, she guessed. “Hey.” When had her voice got so quiet and shaky? Did it even matter? “Why are you here?” It was sharp, defensive and hurt. Beel shifted uncomfortably beside her. Kore sighed. “We need to talk.” “What could we possibly have to talk about human?” She flinched just a little at the bite in his words, Beel placed a hand on her shoulder. “Belphie…” At the sound of his brother’s voice the younger demon wilted slightly, curling back into his blankets. “Why would you come to talk to me? You’re so scared of me you’re shaking.” He mumbled, and goddamnit both of them had the same sad puppy eyes. “I’m not…” But Kore could feel her body trembling now he’d pointed it out. “Maybe I am shaking, and maybe I am scared. But goddamnit I did not spend all this time trying to put this family back together to let it fall apart now.” “Why do you even care?” “I’m stubborn, ask anyone.” She padded slowly across the floor, signalling gently with one hand for Beel to stay where he was. “I’m stubborn and I’m well known for sticking my nose into things that don’t concern me. And if Lucifer trying to kill me twice didn’t stop me then I’m not letting you stop me either.” “I killed you.” His voice was so small, so different from the wicked tone she heard in her nightmares. “Why aren’t you more scared of me? Why don’t you hate me?” “You did kill me.” She nodded, settling herself down on the floor in front of him. “You killed me and you enjoyed it and honestly I’m really angry about that, and I am scared. Never thought I was allowed to be scared of dying, but hey, you learn something new every day.” She ignored the confused look he shot her, taking a deep breath. “But I also want this family to be a family again. And I think I’m going to haunt you forever, and that’s more than enough punishment for anyone.” “I could kill you again.” He snarled, and if the cornered animal metaphor hadn’t been true before it was now. He looked in pain, eyes darting around the room looking for an escape. “You could.” Kore steadied her breathing, glancing back over her shoulder towards Beel. “And I could marry Lord Diavolo and become Queen of Devildom, but the odds on either of those are slim. Not that I think you’d try again, but I’m not alone this time.” “What makes you think I wouldn’t try again?” “I’ve got eyes?” Belphie growled in response and she heard Beel shift behind her. “I know what remorse and guilt look like. I also know the Belphie I met before this was sweet, if a sarcastic little shit, and I know his brother thought we’d get along great. And maybe I thought that too.” Kore sighed, holding out a hand. “I’m not saying I forgive you just yet, and maybe you’ll decide you hate me anyway, but I’d like to at least try. Besides -” her mouth quirked up in a wicked smirk “-how are you going to enjoy my innate ability to piss off Lucifer if you’re always hiding from me?” That got a hint of a smile out of him and he gently reached out to shake her hand, muttering a quiet ‘truce’ under his breath. Somewhere behind them there was a choked sob and both heads whirled in Beel’s direction. Kore smiled softly. “C’mere you big softy.” She sighed, holding out her arms. Smothered in the suffocating warmth of Beel’s broad frame, her face pressed into Belphie’s neck she sighed. “Hey Belphie? Just so you know, I’m sorry.” “The fuck are you apologising for?” His voice cracked and she could swear she felt something wet drip onto her shoulder. “I should have come sooner.” Tears were filling her eyes now and she felt Beel squeeze them a little tighter. “I’m sorry too.”
She was going to save this damn family if it killed her. Again.
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