Easier Than Lying — Chapter 14: The Chase
Masterlist Read on AO3
CW: angst, sexual themes
~ 4300 words
Aelin was pushing her vehicle to the brink of its capabilities.
The flood of water had been joined by a flood of cops by the time she reached the top of the military compound’s stairs, and The Reformists—thank the gods—had fled. While the police had worked up the courage to walk through the dying electric ward, Aelin had snuck out the back and retrieved her car.
Which was pretty much where the opportunity for stealth ended.
She wanted to drive home. She was tired, physically and emotionally. But the patrol stationed at the entrance of Starfall Road was impossible to avoid, and as soon as she’d hit the highway, she’d had a chorus of police sirens to accompany her. So she’d have to lose them and then drive home.
“They’re setting up a blockade about a mile before the bridge.” Her cousin was still using The Wight to spy on them all from above. “But there’s a dirt road you could take up to the mountains.” Instead of over the Florine Bridge and into Orynth.
“What am I looking for?”
“It’ll be on your left in about two minutes—it’s snowed in. If you miss it, you’ll have to punch through the blockade.”
She kicked up the headlights, knowing it would illuminate the forest for the police behind her too. “I won’t miss it.”
Her phone buzzed on the seat beside her. Again. Incoming call.
“Thirty seconds.” When she didn’t slow down, when she kept her foot pressed hard on the gas pedal, Aedion added, “Aelin, you’re not going to make the turn.”
“I can do it.”
“Aelin. Slow down.”
“I see it.”
There was a break in the dense trees—a snowbank that was easily four times the size of her car. And there was the police blockade just beyond it.
She killed the headlights and turned.
There was too much snow for the tires to screech. She leaned into the turn, using only the police lights to guide her. The vehicle skidded in a ruthless rotation across the highway aiming for the snowbank. And then one side of the car lifted, the whole vehicle threatening to tip over.
“Come on, melt,” she hissed, pushing her magic down onto the pavement.
The tires found their grip. With a stomp, she floored the pedal again. The snowbank was right in front of her, tinged red by the police lights. Aelin clenched her teeth tight, closed her eyes, bracing for the impact that might very well kill her.
But the car ascended the snowbank like a ramp, slamming through the top layer of snow with a crunch. The ground came up too fast and too hard.
“I lost you on the cameras,” Aedion panicked over the phone. “Aelin?”
Her spine felt like it had been reduced to a precariously stacked pile of wooden blocks. “I made it.” And she turned the headlights back on.
Her phone buzzed. Incoming call. Aelin couldn’t take her eyes off the trees for long, but she knew that if she looked over at the glowing screen, it would now be stacked high with seven missed calls.
“Fuck. Ae, I’ll call you back.”
“Really? Is there another guy monitoring everything with a fucking drone and giving you amazing advice—”
She hung up the call, and when her phone buzzed an eighth time, she put it through to the car’s speakers. “I told you not to call this number.”
“That must be so difficult for you, having someone violate your boundaries like that.”
She matched his cold tone. “What do you want, Rowan?”
“Oh, lover,” she cooed, Celaena through and through. “You must not have heard. I’ve already gotten away.”
“Not from me.”
Light burst into her rearview mirrors, and her mate’s black truck appeared behind her. Not close enough to be a problem yet, but there and gaining. Shit.
“You’re alone,” Aelin pointed out. Even. Her voice needed to stay even.
“Why?” It came out in a sultry purr. “Hoping to take a ride in the backseat of my car?” He wasn’t here for policing. If he were planning to arrest her, surely he’d have some of his goons speeding behind him.
“I want to see your face, Celaena.” The name was an unpleasant clang. “I want to know the real colour of my mate’s eyes. And I want,” he said, low and dangerous, “to look in those eyes when you apologize for screwing me over.”
It was a bad habit—the defensiveness, especially when she felt she’d made the right call. And despite having asked Aedion to make amends on her behalf only an hour before, she let her anger get the best of her. “I am not going to apologize.”
His silence conveyed nothing. But the vehicle behind her seemed to jump forward, devouring the space between them. “Excuse me?”
“I am not sorry that I kept you safe, Rowan.” The terrain roughened and rattled, and she sent a nervous look over her shoulder to make sure his truck could handle it. “I will never apologize for keeping you safe.”
“You aren’t keeping me safe. You’re playing hero.”
“I am not.” Unbelievable. “That is not why I did this.”
“You refuse help and have your own plan for everything no matter how much you could be fucking things up for everyone else. All that matters is what you think is best. Gods forbid you believe that someone with hundreds of years of experience could contribute anything useful to the fight.”
Heat singed her cheeks. Her heartbeat became an uncomfortable punch against her ribs.
“You don’t care about the fallout,” he concluded, a crack showing in his voice. And she had to wonder if he wasn’t referring to the Reformists or the weapons or fighting at all.
“I do.” The words were a painful rasp in her throat. How could he think that? “All I can think about is the fallout. I can barely close my eyes at night imagining what might happen if I make a mistake.”
“Then stop making them,” Rowan growled. “I’m powerful, Celaena. I realize you know more about all this anti-magic tech, but you could teach me, share what you have. Fuck, if you’d just explain everything, we’d be so much better together. But you used me.” Her stomach did an uncomfortable flip. “Why won’t you let me help you? Why did you involve me just enough to make a fool of me at my work—”
“It would have been a bloodbath.” The truth came tumbling out in stutters and gasps. “I didn’t talk to Sorscha with the intention of cutting you out of the plan. I wasn’t using you. It just—it just happened. And you know that your friends would have gotten into a firefight with the Reformists. I needed information, Connall Moonbeam needed saving. If the police had shown up before I took down the ward, it would have been a bloodbath.”
Thanks to Fenrys, it had gotten pretty damn close even without help from the rest of the police.
“But I still could have gone with you,” Rowan said quietly.
“What are you talking about?”
Her question hung, giving Aelin enough space to focus back on the road. There was a fork coming up ahead of them, she realized with a prick of adrenaline. She gave no indication of which direction she’d take.
“After you left the station, you could have called me and we could have gone together. Just you and me.”
“No.” The word was a short, thoughtless snap. “That wouldn’t have worked.”
“It would have.”
Aelin shook her head, wondering if his car had gotten close enough for him to see it. “No.”
“Why not? Just tell me the truth.” Her mate’s voice rose with rapid frustration. “Why did you do this? Why did you ruin the truce and cut me out of the plan—”
“Because I was scared!” she yelled. “If you died—”
The thought was too reprehensible to say out loud.
Aelin was scared of losing him, of the Reformists taking away the person who was slowly weaving himself into the fabric of her being. She was terrified of every moment they spent together because it was getting harder to separate where her soul ended and his began. Just you and me were the most beautiful words Aelin had ever heard. And they were so fucking fragile. “I don’t know how to do this, Rowan. I don’t know what to do with you.”
As close to too late as possible, Aelin swerved onto the right road, no idea where it would take her. And swore when Rowan followed with ease.
“You don’t know what to do with me?” he repeated back to her. There was less venom in his voice than before. “Celaena, just start by pulling over.”
The trees started to thin with boulders and jagged chunks of glacial ice. They were so far away from the city, from the police station. It was neutral ground. So she considered it. What would happen if she finally just gave in? How disappointed would Rowan be when he finally learned her name?
“This isn’t going to go away. I am not going to go away. You’re my mate, Celaena—you’re mine. We need to deal with it.”
The gruff claim did something warm and traitorous to her blood. Produced a thrill that ran distinctly south—but her eyes saw red. “So what, Rowan? You think that because our souls had a moment it gives you some kind of ownership over me? Gods, you Fae males are so fucking territorial. You might be my mate, but I do not belong to you.���
“Says the female who was ready to rip Lyria limb from limb.” Aelin’s teeth clicked together. Just the name of her mate’s ex-girlfriend was an angry waterfall refilling the well of her magic. “I’m not trying to be territorial,” Rowan continued, “but I can’t help how this feels. The bond is … Celaena, it’s not about ownership. It’s that you’re part of me. It’s like a critical piece of me has been ripped out, and it doesn’t even want to get to know me.”
Her heart strained to the point of agony, and Aelin almost lost her focus on the road. On the trees that were fading into pristine sheets of snow and lighting her way with moonlight. “I want to know you, Rowan,” she breathed, “I do.”
“But on your terms, right? Never on mine.” At her lack of response, Rowan loosed a sad, bitter laugh. “I get it. I belong to you and you get to make decisions for me, but I have no claim on you.”
Guilt slashed through her chest. “I know that I haven’t told you everything, and I know you don’t understand why I’m doing the things I’m doing—”
“Do you want this?”
Even chased and zigzagging along that mountain road, Aelin’s mind fell totally still. “How … Rowan, how can you ask me that?”
“We’ve never talked about it,” he said simply. “We keep dancing around it, letting ourselves get distracted by the Reformists, but we haven’t talked about what this is.”
“It’s …” Aelin struggled to sort through her thoughts, her feelings. It was terrifying. New. Breakable. Fate. “It’s complicated.”
“It’s not complicated, Celaena. Do you want to be with me or not?”
She needed to stop driving. Needed to get out and wrap her arms around him. Needed to roll her car down the side of the mountain in an epic escape. “Of course, I do.”
Rowan probably didn’t intend for her to hear his shaking exhale. “Then why aren’t you?” he asked her.
“Because everything is a mess.” She briefly lost sight of the road as she blinked away the beginnings of tears. “There are important things that I need to finish, and you … you consume me. Every morning I wake up thinking about you, I go to work thinking about you. You’re haunting my fucking dreams. And I can’t think—I can’t breathe like this. I can’t do what I need to do with you in my system.”
The road started to wind around the side of the mountain, giving them a glorious view of Orynth’s nightlights. Rowan’s car slowed to less of a chase and more of a companionship.
“Gods,” she laughed through a sob, “I would die to even just pretend that I could fit into your life. But if I let myself be that person, other people—vulnerable people—will die.” And then she revealed the truth she’d been clutching in trembling hands, “I can’t be the person you want me to be.”
She couldn’t be more than Aelin Galathynius. A disappointment. A liar.
But a pang of frustration surged through the bond, rooting itself so deeply that it almost dried the tears on her face.
“You don’t know what I want, so stop acting like you do,” Rowan snapped. And before she could argue, he continued, “I’m not asking you to make me the only thing in your life. I don’t need you to stop being Flame Girl or to give up your mission. I just want to know you. I just want you to give this a proper chance.”
“I’m trying, but—”
“You know what I think?” he interrupted, building momentum. “I think that keeping your identity a secret isn’t even about me. I think it’s a punishment for yourself. Because you don’t think the real you is enough, and you’re afraid that I’m going to reject you and confirm all your worst fears—but you’re wrong about that, about me. And I think you’re wrong about everything else too. Gods above, Celaena, you’re fighting the bond so hard it’s no wonder you feel like it’s suffocating you—”
“Rowan,” she whimpered, cutting him off, “please stop.”
Maybe her mate could feel the way her chest was collapsing in on itself because he repeated one final time, so much softer than before, “Pull over.”
They’d been driving for so long that she could only estimate where the road was beneath the snow. The path had taken them up across the base of the Staghorn mountains and all the way back down to the Florine River, rushing between the crumbled remains of an ancient bridge a few minutes ahead of them.
There was no more road to follow. She’d have to stop and face him or …
“You’re my mate,” Rowan said in a rush, perhaps noting the river before them, the end of the path. “Nothing is going to change that.”
Fresh tears slid over her cheeks. She wanted to believe him so fucking badly. To slot herself into his cozy life in Old Orynth. To spend her days touching him, if only to marvel at the fact that he existed at all. Aelin wanted everything with him.
It just wasn’t that simple.
Aelin swallowed the lump in her throat and said, “I know I keep doing this …”
“I’m so sorry, Rowan.”
“Just stop the car.” She floored the gas pedal, “Celaena—” and ended the call.
Aelin drove straight up the remains of the broken bridge, flinging her car out into the unknown. It hung in the air, nothing but the choppy river beneath her tires. With the last dredges of her magic, she conjured a jet of flames, merging it with the engine’s booster. Together, they propelled the car the rest of the way, landing her on the other side. Where Rowan couldn’t follow.
The car veered, and she brought it to a complete stop, gasping as the beginnings of burnout frayed her mind. But she looked back across the river and found her mate, standing beside his truck. Devastated. Betrayed again. He could fly, of course, but even wings and wind wouldn’t be enough for him to keep up with her car.
And as Aelin drove away, she could have sworn she felt his eyes on her back the whole journey home.
Rowan arrived at the hospital at 2 am, a shell of himself.
The day was technically over, but he felt like he’d stepped outside of time entirely, just waiting for the next thing to knock him off his feet.
“I’m looking for Connall Moonbeam,” he said to the receptionist, near-blinded by the fluorescent hospital lights. Rowan flashed his badge before he could get any guff about visiting hours. It was the sort of move only an asshole would make, but he wasn’t in the mood to follow the rules.
The man behind the desk gave Rowan a tight smile—in agreement about the asshole thing. “Room 205.”
Rowan nodded his thanks and trudged down the hall and toward the elevator. Maybe it was just that every inch of the hospital looked the same, but the journey passed by in a blur, his eyes seeing Celaena’s masked face more than the linoleum beneath his feet.
He shouldn’t even have been thinking about her. He should have been focused on his friends, on Connall, and whatever this meant for Orynth. Bigger things than whether a female wanted him or not.
But laying your heart at someone’s feet only to have them tread on your fingers wasn’t easy to shake off.
Rowan turned another corner, 202, 203, 204, and found himself very suddenly amongst his coworkers and friends, each of them disarmingly quiet in their chairs that lined the wall. Lorcan and Vaughan were there, and Fenrys was notably missing, likely at his brother’s side. But it was Elide that spoke, murmuring quietly with a doctor before slipping into room 205.
Lorcan only looked up when the door clicked closed, finally noticing him. His friend didn’t speak, so Rowan said the only thing he could think of.
“Why is Elide here?”
The police chief met his gaze with worn, bloodshot eyes. “She … she needed to get her own data, or run her own tests.” Lorcan had never sounded so dazed, so vacant. “She said she couldn’t … she can’t get started until that’s done.”
A ringing filled his ears. “Can’t start what?”
Something shattered on Lorcan’s ashen face. And Rowan was ready to collapse to his knees even before the chief said, “Inventing a way to give someone back their magic.”
Aelin was well aware of the irony as she traversed the rooftops through Old Orynth.
There weren’t many hours of darkness left, but when she’d finally gotten home and slipped under the covers of her lonely bed, she’d known immediately that any attempts at sleep would be fruitless. And after Lysandra’s call about Connall Moonbeam …
The shifter had gone to the hospital to spy on them all. When the news had come through, Aelin had spent the next half hour curled up at the foot of her bed, refusing to let herself fall apart, refusing to throw up.
She didn’t understand how she could have been wrong. Her memories were so clear. Her father had screamed it, had sworn it impossible. It was supposed to be an immutable rule. Magic could not be taken away, just as it could not be created through artificial means.
But as Connall had just discovered, excision was real.
So back to Orynth she’d gone, in a less conspicuous but equally anonymous car. Whether she’d be welcome when she got to her destination was yet to be determined.
Aelin made the last familiar jump and allowed herself one moment of hesitation to collect her nerves. She’d said and not said all the wrong things tonight. She’d hurt him—again. The thought was almost enough to send her running away for the fourth time in twenty-four hours, but somehow she was able to muster the strength to drop down onto Rowan’s balcony.
She knocked on the glass door three times.
The coward in her was alive and well as she waited. It prayed that Rowan wouldn’t come to the door, would leave her outside to freeze in the cold like she deserved. She’d donned a thick winter coat to compensate for her flames, but it really wasn’t the same.
Aelin gripped the collar of her coat, tugging it together and huddling in on herself. Her mate could be asleep. She’d specifically knocked quietly so that she wouldn’t wake him up if he was. But if he was up, if, like her, he couldn’t quiet his mind after what they’d been through today, then maybe he’d hear her out.
Her knees went weak when she heard footsteps. Rowan materialized on the other side of the door, rubbing at his eyes, in all his usual shirtless glory. He looked her over briefly before turning away and disappearing back into his apartment. Her heart almost toppled right over at the brush off, but then he was back, pulling a thick sweater over his head and shrugging on a coat of his own while he opened the door.
His eyes were wary. Vulnerable. Like he was preparing for her to strike him another wound.
“I couldn’t sleep,” Aelin whispered, hating how he was keeping his distance. “Not after how I … how I left things.”
Rowan just stared at her, unmoving. Icy. Unreadable. Panic tumbled through her, and Aelin thought if he didn’t say something soon, she might never recover.
“Rowan.” Her voice cracked on his name. It hit her all at once and her eyes welled. “That stuff I said to you, Connall … I’m so sorry—“
He moved so quickly that she didn’t have a chance to prepare for it. The speech she’d painstakingly planned fizzled into nothing, and all the thoughts went out of her head as Rowan’s arms wrapped around her waist.
A broken sound of surprise escaped her and soft fabric pressed against her face. Warmth overwhelmed her, the scent of pine and snow overwhelmed her. She didn’t understand what was happening, but she wasn’t complaining.
It was instinct to grip him tightly, to draw him in and coil her arms behind his head. They pulled each other closer and closer until there wasn’t an inch of space left between their bodies. With a sigh of his own, Rowan dug his fingers into her lower back, like he was relying on her to physically hold him together. Whether he realized it or not, he was doing the same thing for her.
Aelin knew she was crying, the quiet kind of tears that overflowed in moments of pause. For him, for her regrets, for the sheer relief that her mate hadn’t written her off completely. Somewhere along the way, their faces turned in toward each other, their lips parted, unable to escape the gravity of the bond between them.
Rowan’s nose brushed against her own, then her cheek, request and encouragement to lift her chin. She caught only a glimpse of his dark eyes, entranced, before her own fluttered closed. Aelin slipped her fingers under the collar of his jacket and scraped her nails over the back of his neck. She could have sworn he shuddered.
Their foreheads came together, their bodies falling in sync with panting breaths. The moment stretched out before her like all one thousand of her years were happening in an instant. Rowan’s hands cupped her cheeks. Her breath vanished with a whoosh. And her heart threatened to lose its rhythm entirely as he closed the gap.
The first time Rowan kissed her lasted forever and ended too quickly. A light press of his warm lips against her cold ones, the stroke of his thumbs over her cheekbones. The night and the ice melted away with the caress of his palms, his lips. Her arms wound tighter around him. Even an inch from burnout, Aelin could have razed cities with the fire he set in her blood.
Her mate retreated—just once—and then his lips were against hers in another kiss, this one sharper, more demanding. Aelin met him eagerly, opening her mouth so that his tongue could tangle her own. Her stomach flipped with every stroke, every shallow breath. She was fading and blurring at the edges. Got dizzier every time Rowan murmured something beautiful between hungry touches. A shift of his hips and all their winter layers may as well have disappeared. He enveloped her, consumed her. A strike of lightning that burned right through to her centre.
Rowan kissed her slowly, sometimes breaking apart to change the tilt of her chin like he wanted to try her from every angle. She was beyond caring about the sounds she was making, the soft moans she breathed into his mouth every time he explored her a little deeper.
His groan jolted through her as she tugged lightly on his hair, weaving it in between her fingers. His hands abandoned her face but found her back, lifting her onto her toes. She was floating away, arching into him for whatever she could get. Her body was begging him to never stop. Aelin had imagined their first kiss would be chaos, an unstoppable frenzy that would built up and up until it burst. She’d imagined him thrusting wildly between her legs, imagined the way Rowan would make her scream—because she knew he would.
But this kiss was nothing like that, yet it was just as good.
It was a surrender and acknowledgement. Tinged with need and grief, a way to prove that they were both there. That they were both safe in this moment, witnessed for all the broken pieces they offered. And that it was real.
It didn’t really surprise her when her throat, her heart, started aching. When the words she’d never before dared to say rose on her tongue. And though Aelin wasn’t ready to trust either of them with those words, she could give him this.
“I’m yours,” she promised as the kiss quieted and trailed off. She caught Rowan’s lips one more time and grabbed a handful of his coat to keep herself firmly rooted to the ground. “I’m yours.”
AN: Friends, how do you feel about the content warnings on this fic? I feel like they could be a bit redundant (and therefor spoiler-y?) because the whole fic is angsty, violent, a little creepy, and very NSFW (I mean, it will be). But I also know that some shocking stuff happens, so if I'm not doing enough to prepare you, let me know. I always struggle with this balance and I want everyone to be comfortable.
As a side note, I will never write any gender-based violence into my fics (at most we'll get a creepy comment from Arobynn), so if that's something that you're concerned about specifically, as I always am, then know you don't have to worry.
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in the face of adversity, you make a tough decision.
Warning: Mob!Bucky x Best Friend!Reader, mature themes, angst, hurt/comfort, best friends to lovers, fluff.
continuation of play pretend
Your fingers tap incessantly against the wooden tables on either side of the plush armchair you're sitting on. With quick, shallow breaths, you keep your eye on the horse portrait above the grand fireplace, fixating on it in an attempt to relax.
"Would you stop that? Jeez, you're stressing me out."
You turn your head to the source of the irritated voice, your right eye twitching as you let out a shaky sigh. "My life has been repeatedly fucked up the ass for the past twenty-four hours," You tell him with a glare. "So no, Eddie, I will not stop that."
He rolls his eyes, sitting back on the couch. "God, where the fuck is Barnes?"
"That's what I wanna know!" You exclaim, itching to see Bucky. With a huff, you stand up and turn to Eddie's butler, Smitt. "Do you know where James is? He promised he wouldn't be long."
"Yes, ma'am, his car is pulling in as we speak," Smitt informs you while Eddie leaves the room. "May I offer you a refreshment? Some tea, maybe some-"
"Fairy!" A heart-wrenchingly familiar voice calls out from the doorway, making you gasp.
Immediately, you run over to Bucky and practically jump into his arms, holding onto him tightly. "Oh, my God, Jamie," You cry, feeling a thousand times better in his presence. "Why did you take so long?"
"I'm sorry, baby, I had to sort something out," He apologizes against your neck. "I'm here, now. I've got you."
"I don't understand why we're here," You tell him, pulling back and looking up at him. "Why did we run, Buck? Guilty people run, and I'm not guilty."
His lips part as he stares down at you, conflict swimming in his eyes as he tries to decide how best to break it to you.
"Jamie?" You whisper, feeling your heart race. "I'm not... I'm not guilty."
Taking a deep breath, Bucky places his hands on your waist. "Fairy," He begins lowly, putting you on edge. "Your name and identification were used on a few... less than legal documents."
Your stomach drops as your eyes widen. "James-"
"It wasn't me; you know I'd never, ever put you in danger or use you like that," He clarifies firmly. "Uncle Jack used your name to open an offshore bank account."
"What?" You spit, utterly baffled. "Shit. An offshore account?" Thinking on it, you shake your head. "I mean, I can talk my way out of trouble, if that's all he did."
Your words make Bucky grimace. "That's not all," He admits regretfully. "The money was traced, and they found receipts from a Colombia-Miami coke runner. With your name written all over every single transaction."
The words escape you, and you remain silent with shock. All you want is to wake up in Bucky's arms and for this to have all been a terrible nightmare, but a part of you knows that that's wishful thinking.
"Trust me, fairy; if I knew Jack was even thinking of involving you, I'd have ripped his fuckin' head off before he had the chance," Bucky says, his jaw clenching as rage fills his eyes.
Having thought it over, you nod slowly. "I'm gonna die in prison," You conclude bluntly.
"You are not gonna die in prison," He counters sternly. "You are not going to prison, full stop."
"No, she's right, and you'll be right there with her," Eddie calls out suddenly as he reenters the room. "I've heard Rikers Island is lovely this time of year."
Bucky turns to glare at him. "Shut the fuck up, Brock."
"Hey, now!" Eddie exclaims. "I'm giving you a place to hide out; you should be a lot more grateful to me."
"It's my first offense, so I could only get five years," You go on to say blankly. "But I'll most likely get up to forty."
He reaches for your hand. "Fairy-"
"Cocaine is a schedule two drug; I could be fined millions," You continue as your breaths grow quicker and more shallow. "Mr. Stark is gonna be so disappointed in me-"
"Y/N, will you shut up?" Bucky cuts you off sternly, grabbing your shoulders and glaring down at you. "Do you really think I'd ever let any of that happen to you?"
Letting out a shaky breath, you swallow thickly. "You let this happen to me."
"I didn't know what Jack was doing," He tells you. "I- you trust me, don't you?"
As your vision blurs, you nod. "I do, Jamie. I do trust you, but I'm so scared."
"Then trust that I'm going to fix this," He says firmly. "Don't you know who I am? I'm going to fix this."
Deciding to let yourself believe him, you sigh. "Okay. Okay."
Bucky pulls you into a tight hug, before pulling back and kissing your forehead. "I am so sorry, baby. I'm so sorry. But you know me. You know who I am, and you know I can fix this."
"How?" You whisper with wide eyes.
He takes your hand in his, holding it tight. "You remember Cagey, don't you?"
Narrowing your eyes, you sniffle. "You mean Luke? From Hawaii?"
"Yeah, baby, Luke from Hawaii," Bucky confirms. "He knows people. People high up."
"Who?" You press.
"Important people," He adds. "People who can exonerate you."
His words make your stomach flip. Instinctively, you move closer to him. "Exonerate me?"
"They'll make it like nothing ever happened," He promises you. "Not a smudge on your criminal record. No media - nobody will know. Not even Stark."
"He has people high up, too," You mutter.
"Not as high as my guys," Bucky claims. "This is going to remain quiet. I swear to you, fairy. Ever since we met, I've promised to protect you. Nothing bad could ever touch you. Jack slipped through the cracks and hurt you under my nose, and never again will I let that happen."
"Why me?" You ask him. "Why did he use me like that?"
He shakes his head with a pained look on his face. "Because he could. I wasn't careful enough - I didn't... I didn't protect you the way I was supposed to."
"This isn't your fault, Jamie," You say, wrapping your arms around him. "He's your uncle. It isn't your fault that he betrayed your trust. Our trust."
"Alright, enough of the sappiness," Eddie interjects, clapping his hands together. "You've overstayed your welcome. Get moving. I don't want the feds swarming my home."
With a sigh, Bucky rubs his forehead. "Fairy, go to the car. Sam's waiting out there."
"Okay," You whisper before leaving the two men alone.
"What's the deal with you two?" Eddie asks him with a raised brow. "She your girl, or what?"
While taking out a wad of cash from his pocket, Bucky hands it over to him and huffs. "She's my fuckin' wife."
Meanwhile, just as you step foot outside, your phone rings. Bucky instructed you not to pick up any unknown callers, but when you see Stark's name on your screen, you know you have no choice.
"Mr. Stark, I'm so sorry," You immediately apologize. "There's been a family emergency and I wasn't able to come in to work, but I should've called-"
"Did you really think you'd get away with it?" He cuts you off coldly, making your stomach flip. "I mean, an offshore account and illegal imports from Columbia? What the fuck were you thinking?"
With a thudding heartbeat, you feel your world slowly collapsing around you. "I... Mr. Stark, I know what it looks like, but-"
"I don't care what the truth is, Y/N, the fact that you're caught up in bullshit like this at all is bad enough," He spits harshly. "I told you all those years ago that being involved with Barnes was a bad idea."
"He's the one helping me!" You claim. "I'm innocent, Mr. Stark, and he's the only one helping me out of this mess."
"And I'd bet my fucking net worth that he's the reason you're in this mess, too," He says with a cold tone, before sighing. "Look, Y/N, I like you. I really do. You're a great lawyer, but I warned you that a man like Barnes would only ever ruin your life. You can't have it both ways; you're either 100% clean, or you're involved with people like him. There's no middle ground. No gray area. You're fired."
Your heart skips a beat. "What?"
"What were you expecting?" He questions you with a scoff. "I can't have my name involved with shit like this. I run a legit firm, unlike your boyfriend, and I can't have my clients finding out that one of my lawyers is a drug-dealing criminal."
"But I'm not," You tell him desperately. "I was framed, Mr. Stark! My name's gonna be cleared soon, and-"
"And I'm sure that'll hardly be through legal means, either," He mutters bitterly, before sighing. "This is a sensitive industry. One black mark next to your name and you're done. I can't have you being my black mark, Y/N. I'm sorry. Goodbye."
When he hangs up, you let out a breath you didn't realize you were holding. Feeling nauseous, you take a few staggered steps to the car, where Sam is standing with a concerned look on his face.
"Are you alright?" He asks, placing a hand on your shoulder. "Do you need anything?"
Looking up at him, allowing the familiarity of his face to comfort you, you sigh. "Just a hug."
Sam's happy to provide, knowing what you've been through over the past 24 hours, and pulls you into a tight embrace. You press your face into his chest, allowing him to hide you away from the brunt of the world for just a few peaceful moments. He strokes your hair, soothing you with his calm, predictable presence.
Some minutes pass and you pull away, taking in a deep breath. "I'll be okay," You state firmly, not sure if you're trying to assure him or yourself.
"You'll be okay," He confirms, patting your shoulder. "We've got you, Y/N. Always got your back."
You give him a gracious smile just as Bucky walks out of the house, an urgency in his gait. "We're going back to the airport; we'll lay low in Romania while the situation is taken care of," He tells you, his face softening when he sees you. "Everything alright, fairy?"
Unable to fake a smile, you shrug. "Fine. Let's go," You mutter before opening the back seat of Sam's car and getting in.
Ten minutes into the silent drive, you receive a text message.
You'll receive your severance by the end of the week. Let me know if there's any issues.
Don't let Barnes be your black mark, kid. You could have a bright future ahead of you.
You turn off your phone instantly, wincing.
Ever since you met him, you thought Bucky could only ever make your life better. He introduced you to a life of luxury, took you to countries you'd never even heard of, and vastly improved your self-confidence. You wouldn't be the woman you are today without having met him all those years ago.
But as you look at yourself in the rearview mirror, you frown. Is the woman you are today all that great?
Accused of drug trafficking, running around with criminals, escaping the police.
Maybe you wouldn't have travelled as much as you did without Bucky. Maybe you wouldn't know all the different types of caviar and how expensive a wine is just by the color of the label. Maybe your life would be boring and predictable, and safe.
Maybe Pietro wouldn't be six feet under the ground and you'd be married to him.
You look back up at the rearview mirror. You meet Bucky's eyes. In them, you see everything. His concern, his personality, his love. But you see the darker side, too. The cruelty, the coldness, the ability to do anything to get what he wants.
Are you afraid of that? Or do you envy it?
"What are you thinking of, fairy?" He asks you with a mumble, pulling you from your thoughts.
Instead of answering him, you turn your head to look out the window at the countryside hills. Two horses occupy a large field, one black and one white. The black one, larger in size, runs around the grass, majestic and powerful, commanding your attention with his sleek fur and well-kept mane. The white teeters while he runs circles around her, keeping her eyes on him. The car passes by the field. You crane your neck to get one last glance at them, to see that the white horse has joined the black. They run together, but not in race, or chase. In solidarity.
"Fairy?" Bucky whispers, turning to look at you with a frown. He reaches his hand out to you, hoping it isn't obvious that he desperately needs you to take it.
It is obvious to you, though. So, you take it and you hold it tight.
The skies of Romania are prettiest at sunrise. The Brasov skyline is vastly different to that of New York, with beautifully green trees overlooking the small buildings. From where you're sitting on the hill outside Bucky's childhood home, the mountains in the distance look to be a dark blue, with a thick slice of yellow sky just above them. The grey clouds fill most of the space, with small cracks of orange peeking through and teasing you with their beauty.
The sharp sound of porcelain on rock almost makes you jump. Turning to the side, you see Bucky sitting down next to you.
"Friganele," He tells you, nodding down at the plate of French toast with a blueberry jam on top. "Not as good as ma used to make, but Tanti does a pretty good job."
The two of you eat in silence, the cool breeze relaxing you. You've never felt so safe as you do now; as underwhelmed and calm. And, looking over at Bucky, you'd say the same for him.
"I've never seen you look so beautiful," You admit lowly. A loose, white, half-buttoned shirt adorns his chest, along with a comfy pair of trousers. His complexion is healthy, his beard is thick, and his eyes are conflict-free. "You should come here more often."
"We should," He says, linking his fingers with yours.
Another silence takes its place between you, as the sun begins to show itself through the clouds. You move the plates to the side before scooting closer to Bucky, allowing him to rest his arm around your shoulders.
"I don't like how I felt," You begin to say, clearing your throat before continuing. "When you told me what Uncle Jack did. I didn't like the way it made me feel."
Bucky's brows furrow together but he says nothing, wanting you to further explain.
"I don't want to be a liability," You tell him firmly. "I don't wanna be a target."
He feels a crack in his chest, but he remains composed, nodding. "I understand," He utters lowly. With a deep breath, he pulls you in closer, holding you tight, bracing himself to hear you say the words that will kill him. Preparing himself to hear you say that you can't be a part of his life anymore.
"I want to join your family," You say bluntly. "I mean, truly join."
His head spins. "Huh?" Is the only thing he can let out.
"I want be a part of your family. A real part," You elaborate. "I want to be involved in the things you haven't even told me about yet."
Bucky lets out a sigh, one of relief and yet, unease. "Fairy."
"I don't want to be seen as a weak link," You say curtly. "I don't want to be Bucky Barnes' Achilles heel. I want to be a real part of your family; I want to be all in."
"Just think about this, Y/N," He says sternly. "This is big. It's life-changing. You can still choose to have no part in this."
"I've been thinking about it all week. I can't be a lawyer anymore, but I can be your unofficial legal advisor. I can cook the books, I can fake papers; I can do anything with the right training," You tell him confidently. "Don't underestimate me."
"I'm not underestimating you, but it's dangerous," He warns you.
"So is being involved with you at all," You say with a scoff. "I'd rather be all in than simply hanging off your arm. It's impossible to keep one foot in each world, so just let me live in yours, wholly."
He rubs his face, looking out to the sunrise. With the reflection of the yellow sky in his eyes, he nods. "Okay."
"Okay?" You repeat, wondering if he means it.
"Yes," He confirms, before turning to you with a defiant look. "But not until you marry me."
You're taken aback. Amidst the chaos and fear, you completely forgot the final conversation the two of you had before the police interrupted. Having not put any thought to it, all you can do is stare at him, wide-eyed.
He takes your hand and holds it close to his chest. "If we're doing this, if you wanna be all in, you're doing it as my wife."
You frown, feeling you heart race. "I don't want you to marry me just for convenience, or because you feel like you have to."
"Convenience? I love you, fairy, and you know you love me," Bucky states firmly, glancing down at your hand. "Marry me because I'll always love you, through anything life may throw at us. Marry me because nobody will ever come before you. Marry me because you're my best friend."
Your eyes pool with tears.
"You're still wearing the ring. Everything we said a week ago still stands," He tells you earnestly, cupping your cheek with his hand and stroking it gently. "We've been engaged since the night we met, without having to say a word. You've always been mine, and I've always been yours. Let's make it official."
Looking at him, you know there's no feeling you'd rather chase than the feeling of being loved by him. Cherished by him. Protected, wanted, needed by him. You look down at the ring, and you smile. You smile knowing there's no life you'd rather live than a life by Bucky's side. You smile knowing that he is, and will always be, your best friend.
side blog for update notifications: @kinanabinksupdates
buy me a kofi <3
enemies to lovers yes, but have you considered enemies to mutually pining idiots to lovers??
𝐓𝐢𝐭𝐥𝐞: Bob’s Burgers
𝐅𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐨𝐦: Marvel/ MCU
𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐞𝐫(𝐬)/𝐒𝐡𝐢𝐩(𝐬): Natasha Romanoff x Reader, , Platonic!Wanda Maximoff x Reader, Platonic!Avengers x Reader
𝐓𝐫𝐨𝐩𝐞: Mutual Pinning, Friends to Lovers
𝐖𝐚𝐫𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐬: playful teasing and SO MUCH FLUFF
𝐒𝐮𝐦𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐲: It’s been irritating a certain red headed assassin that you hang out with everyone at the compound but her. But the moment you send her a text, she’s in shambles to say the least.
𝐀𝐍: I unfortunately do not own Bob’s Burgers.
Italics = Flashbacks
Bold Italics = Natasha’s thoughts
Bold = Reader’s thoughts
Y/n | 10:04 AM
Hi hi :D ya busy today?
Natty <3 | 10:04 AM
No, why do you ask?
Natasha narrowed her eyes as the text bubble popped up and disappeared repeatedly before it stopped showing on her screen altogether. With a furrowed brow she placed her phone down on her desk face up. She attempted getting back to work on her laptop but could no longer focus. The redhead chose to work in her room today instead of her office. Ironically enough Y/n is the reason why.
It had been months since they had begun (practically living in) visiting the Avengers compound. Y/n was introduced to the team by Peter. They both live in the same apartment complex a few blocks away from Peter’s university. She is one of the people who make him feel proud to be Spider- Man. From the moment Peter introduced them it was almost as if the Avengers had known her for years. Everyone was enamored with her. Wanda and her cuddled at random intervals while watching sitcoms or cooking/baking in the kitchen together. Pietro, Peter and Y/n play video games and board games with one another on a regular basis. Thor shares his pop tarts with them while talking about Asgard and Midgard’s (Earth) societal differences and similarities. Sam and Bucky have played Just Dance and have had karaoke sessions with her for the longest time. Y/n provided both Vision and Bruce with the quietness they needed that the others could not always give. Clint and Y/n routinely play pranks on each other and the others and sometimes they spar. Usually the fastest way to make Tony and Steve stop arguing was by letting them hash things out and leaving them alone. The way Tony and Steve’s faces light up whenever you enter a room is enough to stop all arguments whatsoever. Hell even when Carol visits from time to time she is latched to the blonde’s side watching thrillers and space documentaries.
The only one Y/n had rarely spoken to was Natasha-not that the red head cares...but damn she feels left out. Why did Y/n choose to hang out with everyone but her? Did she somehow scare them off? The two of you had small talk with one another and they would bless Natasha with the occasional hug but that was it. Was it her? Was she the problem? Maybe she just wasn’t welcoming enough, maybe–
Y/n | 10:08 AM
I just wanted to hang out, if you’re not busy :)
Y/n | 10:09 AM
If you are, it's okay I understand!!
Natasha’s knee jerk reaction was to say that she was busy. In fact she was halfway through sending that exact message on her phone. She paused and deleted the text; the work she’s doing isn’t due for another week. The redhead despises procrastinating; her logic is always ‘If I can get out of the way now why wait?’. The more complex documents and forms? Yeah okay she takes her time but this was like chewing gum and walking at the same time. Should she really toss it to the side? Just to hang out with her.…As if they haven’t been on my mind 24/7. Natasha thought to herself and rolled her eyes. Her phone went off once more signaling another text message had gone through.
Y/n | 10:11 AM
I’ll even act my age for once lol
The Russian furrowed her brow. She adores her just the way she is. Y/n was so charming and sweet, it made her heart soar. Natasha loves the way the pitch of their voice changes whenever they’re happy. Their playful nature and contagious grins made Natasha feel carefree. She just wishes one would be directed at her. It can be.
Natty <3 | 10:13 AM
I like the way you act
Natty <3 | 10:13 AM
The doors unlocked just knock, we can order some food
Natasha shut down her laptop and stood to her feet. Shit when was the last time she had company? Maybe Wanda? But even then they left her room to go watch tv in the living room. It wasn’t like her room was dirty. Oh god why did I leave my socks out. She wasn’t living in roach infested filth. But she sure as hell was not prepared for company even though she agreed to having it. Natasha's gut felt full. What if Y/n had no interest in dating her at all.
The red head stopped her movements. Dating? I have barely had a conversation with them. Who said anything about dating? She should not be this distressed. Natasha shook out her hands absentmindedly and tilted her head. Breathe, Romanoff. She took a deep breath and couldn’t help but panic when a knock came from the door.
Natty? Oh god how cute. Natasha nearly keeled over from the nice tone of your voice and her anxiety. A major knock-out combo. The redhead would get diabetes from how sweet you are by the time she was done spending time with you.
“Come in.” She responded in a practiced relaxed tone despite how much of an internal mess she was.
Y/n stuck their head through the doorway with wide eyes scanning their new surroundings. The assassin's room suited her extremely well. However they could not interpret why she was willing to spend time with them. Y/n was just as aware as Natasha was that they never spent any time together. It always felt like the redhead was too busy and whenever they were alone in a room together Y/n never knew what to say. The two idiots clearly have the same problem. The moment Y/n’s eyes landed on Natasha, she smiled and absentmindedly shuffled into the doorway.
She had a cluster of snacks in her arms. They made sure to get various ones that her and Natasha would like. One of which was a pack of red twizzlers. Y/n was disgusted by the red roped candy but knew Natasha enjoyed them. Y/n scrunched up their nose in disgust just thinking about how the treat tastes. Candy should not be strawberry flavored.
“Is something wrong?” Natasha asked, noticing their expression. Her not entering the room fully had the assassin on edge and she struggled not to make it show.
Their eyes widened slightly. “I was just remembering how Clint told me you like twizzlers,” Natasha began to smile. “But I don’t know why because they’re disgusting.” Natasha scoffed and placed her fists on her hips comically. Y/n giggled and walked into the room, dropping the snacks on the bed.
“They’re very delicious, excuse me.” Natasha had no clue why her voice had taken on such a playful tone but she continued once she saw the smile it brought to Y/n’s face.
“They’re artificial fruit sticks, Tasha.” Y/n replied with a large grin and their fingers intertwined. “Oh! He also said you like documentaries but I knew he was lying unless he was talking about crime documentaries or political conspiracy theory ones. I was talking to myself and was like ‘Natty seems like the crime and conspiracy theory documentaries type.’ But I could be wrong…” Y/n rambled, bending down at the waist to organize the snacks on the bed again. “But, I feel like you would also like Bob's Burgers and similar shows like that, Peter says you act like Louise sometimes.” Y/n tensed up at the look Natasha gave them. The redhead’s face was unreadable. “Do I have something on my face?” They asked, turning to the mirror on the wall next to the bathroom.
Natasha shook her head. “I like Bob’s Burgers. I've seen a few episodes with Wanda.”
Y/n gasped, their sparkling eyes and open mouth grin made the redhead's body fill with warmth. “We need to watch it together!” She reached over to grab Natasha’s hand and froze mid air. “…Is…is that okay?”
The assassin felt her heart clench in her chest. She reached for Y/n’s hovering hand before she dropped it entirely. “That’s more than okay.” Natasha knows she said the right thing when she squeals with delight and tugs her down on the bed to sit beside her.
“You smell like ointment and pee!"
Natasha and Y/n laughed at Louise’s banter with the old man. The pair has been binge watching Bob’s burgers for the past few weeks. After a short time apart the redhead returned from her mission on Saturday and they’ve been spending time together ever since. Natasha grasped the remote and paused the show; it was almost one pm.
“What do you want for lunch?” She asked, resisting the urge to stroke Y/n’s cheek with her thumb.
“Chinese?” They suggested, tossing the last piece of popcorn in their mouth.
Natasha nodded her head then squeezed her hand twice before letting go. Y/n pouted but accepted the lack of contact knowing the former assassin needed both hands to order the food.
After moving past the initial awkwardness the two had begun setting time aside every week to watch Bob’s Burgers together. Y/n never realized that their favorite part of every week could be seeing Natasha. Who knew the widow‘s heart was so large. Y/n can’t even imagine how different things would be if she had never texted Natasha to begin with. Outside of watching tv with one another their friendship left an impact on their everyday lives. At first the redhead was fearful that Y/n would only properly acknowledge her when they watched tv. But that wasn’t the case and she knew otherwise when two days later Y/n wrapped her into a warm hug with a jovial greeting.
Natasha would be going on a mission soon and this one was longer than the last. This was a mission that would last for two weeks, possibly more. Suddenly, Y/n was around Natasha just as much as they were around Wanda. Not that the redhead minded. In fact she loved it. Would she say that out loud? No but you both knew.
Y/n was fully aware that this only made their feelings towards the redhead grow stronger. Absence also makes the heart grow fonder. She hasn’t been on a mission for longer than 3 days ever since they started spending time together. Whenever Natasha would get back from those missions the pair would act as if they haven’t seen one another in weeks. Y/n embracing Natasha and Natasha beaming while picking her up off the ground.
Even for those missions Y/n found herself pouting over the thought of watching Bob’s Burgers without her. The idea of Natasha leaving for that long alone made you irritable and whiny. Almost like a dramatic husky. Y/n zoned out even more from their surroundings as they recalled the conversation they had with Wanda earlier this week.
“дорогой throughout the entirety of me knowing you, you have never clung to me the way you do Natasha…I would be offended if I didn’t spend more time with you than she does.” Wanda teased, chuckling as they shoved her shoulder playfully.
Y/n continued to cut up the carrots on the cutting board in front of them with an exasperated huff. “I love all my red headed hoes equally.” The duo bursts into a fit of giggles. “But I do realize I’m more romantically attached to Natasha than platonically…”
Wanda’s grin was unhinged. “Meaning?”
Y/n rolled their eyes and grumbled.
“I’m sorry, what was that?” Wanda questioned knowing she was close enough to make out every word. She even lifted her hand to her ear to ‘hear you better’.
They cleared their throat and turned their head the other way. “I like Natasha.” Y/n spoke clear as day then turned back to Wanda with a gasp and wide eyes. “Oh my gosh who said that.”
Wanda easily played along; her eyes now equally as wide. “Oh my goodness I have no idea.” You both went into hysterics; laughing loudly.
Soon the atmosphere was only filled with the sound of boiling broth and Y/n and Wanda cutting vegetables. Y/n turned and dumped the carrots they chopped into the pot, Wanda following to dump in the potatoes.
“You should tell her.” Wanda stated gently, looking at Y/n with that motherly warmth in her eyes. Even though they were around the same age Wanda never missed the opportunity to mother Y/n whenever she could.
Y/n sighed, “She’s leaving on a mission soon.”
“So tell her before she leaves.” Wanda suggests, intertwining their arms. “If she rejects you, which I doubt she will, then you’ll be able to not see her for two weeks and have time to be sad about it while she’s gone.”
“True…I just figured it would be the coward's way out because if she says yes then I won’t be able to hold or kiss her the way I want to for 2 weeks.” Y/n added in response, shrugging their shoulders.
Wanda patted their arm. “Oh it is honey.” She chuckled. “God you two are worse than Vision and I and you haven’t even started dating yet.”
“Y/n? детка? Are you alright?” Natasha questioned, her hand now on your cheek. Her brows furrowed and frowning lips.
Y/n grinned. “Baby?”
Natasha blushed and pulled her hand away while rolling her eyes. “Clearly you’re fine.” She huffed but the smirk on her face made you know she was not upset. “I ordered the food–”
“Thank you, how did you know what I-”
“Yes I got your chicken egg rolls.” Natasha spoke at the same time as you. The redhead blushed even harder than before. “I memorized your order.”
Y/n sported a pensive stare with pursed lips. The last time they had Chinese was with the Avengers 3 weeks ago. Natasha memorized their order. Then again she was trained to have a good memory– no, she remembered my order.
“Natty, can I talk to you?” Y/n’s voice came out softer than they intended it to. The most gentle of whispers. Natasha raised her hand and rested it on her cheek. Not an ounce of apprehension existed on the redhead's face. Y/n made Natasha’s room feel more breathable and alive. The redhead had told them as much.
“Everything feels lighter when you’re around.”
“Same for me Natasha.”
God we're both idiots. They released a much needed groan and slapped their hand against their forehead. “You like me.” Natasha resembled a deer in the headlights. “And I like you.” They sighed looking into Natasha’s emerald orbs.
“Emerald is my favorite, they remind me of your eyes.
“Your favorite color are my eyes?”
“I like you so much Natty you intimidated me the moment I laid eyes on you.” They began. “Not because of the fear you instill within people after a single look, but…you’re just so pretty.” The sigh they released was one of relief and embarrassment.
“You’re so pretty Natty, I’m going to combust.”
“You’re one to talk.”
“I look like I just rolled out of bed.”
“And yet you’re still the prettiest person I’ve ever seen.”
“The time we have been wasting– oh my goodness gracious this is like that episode of Bob's burgers when–”
“Right sorry- you called me baby again.” Their eyes widened slightly and their lips formed a smile instantly.
Natasha rolled her eyes. “You like me?” She asked enough disbelief in her tone to shock Y/n completely.
“What isn’t there to like?”
“I’m a murderer.” Natasha’s knee jerk response made her flinch.
Y/n rolled their eyes while sporting a grin. “Natty I like you for who you are now not who you were.”
The redhead’s eyes become glassy and her vision begins to blur. She turned her head and brushed her nose with the back of her hand. “I…I uhm…I was not expecting you. At all.” All traces of tears were gone but left behind were the redness in her cheeks. “You get dragged in by Peter after he meets you in his apartment complex and you steal everyone’s heart.” Natasha laughs while shaking her head. “I thought you didn’t like me but nope you loser I just intimidate you because of how gay you are.”
“Says the lesbian?!”
“Okay and?” Natasha and Y/n laugh in harmony. “I’m glad I met you, because there is no one else I would rather be spending this much time with–don’t tell Clint I said this than” Y/n giggled and Natasha grinned. “ you…you make me feel so so…free.” The redhead blatantly glared at you then punched your shoulder. “So for you to do this right before I leave for a mission makes me want to kiss and punch your adorable sweet little face.”
“My face is not little.”
Natasha rolls her eyes at your response. Y/n chuckles and leans forward. “I like you so much.” The assassin melts at the softness of their features. The carefree expression that they wore on their face. Natasha wondered how she held the ability to gain this reaction from a magnificent human being. “I never enjoyed the thought of being away from you after we began hanging out more and speaking more. I always feel so calm and at peace when I’m around you Natty. You’re beautiful.”
God, Y/n’s face was just so…cute. To feel the softness of their lips is a scenario Natasha has dreamed about for the past few weeks. The smell of Y/n’s cocoa butter lip balm permeating her senses was the last straw. Y/n’s eyes widened at the pillow softness that collided against their own plump lips. The smell of cherry was under their nose. Natasha’s chapstick. Y/n kisses back with just as much gentleness as Natasha. The assassin can’t help but smile. She wrapped her arms around their shoulders, carefully pushing herself closer to them. Y/n reaches up and places Natasha’s face in their palms before pulling away. They carefully wiped the tears off of the redheads cheeks and from under her eyes.
“Be mine, Natasha?”
“No one else but yours, детка.”
far to fall [remus lupin x reader]
“Listen to you," he said under his breath. "Can't even speak properly, can you, lovely girl?”
“Remus, don't be cruel. Don't be."
"Cruel with you... How could I ever be?"
summary: you’re in love with your best friend remus. he somewhat shares the sentiment.
word count: 7.8k
tags: smut, nsft, marauders era, best-friends to lovers, mutual pining, getting together, first-time, fluff, fem!reader, she/her pronouns used for reader
requested by @marimorena06 here
You had a huge secret. It wasn’t earth-shattering, it wouldn’t bring about world peace or ruination if discovered. It wasn’t criminal, though it felt like that sometimes, a thief stealing glances at his Sandy brown hair and perfect, inviting eyes. It wasn’t dirty or pure or light or dark, it just was.
You were in love with your best friend.
You’d never believed in love at first sight, but Remus Lupin inspired something alike. You just knew, that day in fourth year, when a quiet, brave boy held out his hand for a crying, lonely girl that something was about to happen.
At the time, you’d thought of love. So maybe you’d known all along. But that day turned into years of the same thing, Remus always reaching out to save you, to pull you away from the stuff that was hurting you - he’d always been that way. His saviour complex was something unhealthy and yet you couldn’t get it out of him if you tried.
The secret was starting to become less secret. It began with one wrong look, a gaze too steady, too longing. Remus went up to the bar for another drink and James said, “Oh my god.”
You could tell from his tone you’d been found out. James Potter had always been extremely perceptive. It was a wonder he’d never noticed before.
You put a handful of pear drops in your mouth to avoid responding.
James reached out to squeeze your cheeks, and they fell from your mouth in a sticky wet mess.
“James!” you sputtered, grabbing some napkins from the centre of the table to clean up your face and the ejected sweets. “What is wrong with you?”
“What’s wrong with you?” he shot back. “I can’t believe what I’ve just witnessed. I have to tell Sirius-“
“No!” you said, much too loudly. You quickly searched the bar to see if Remus had heard. He hadn’t, so you leaned in very close to James’ face and whispered, “You can’t tell anyone.”
James wrinkled his nose, “I tell Sirius everything.”
“And Sirius tells Remus everything!”
James tilted his head in thought and then conceded. “Fair.”
Your hackles lowered. “Thank you.”
“But I want to talk about this!” he whispered urgently. Remus sat back down, a drink for each of the three of you in his hands. A butterbear for you and something with a little more kick in it for himself and James.
“Cheers,” James said.
“Thanks,” you said.
He smiled, a small smile, brilliant all the same. “You’re welcome.”
“When will Lily be joining us?”
James’ face clouded with adoration. Lily was in her second trimester of pregnancy, so she definitely wouldn’t be drinking anything. She kept a good lid on the boys, a skill you’d never managed to acquire.
“Not long now.”
“Oh, wipe that infatuated look from your face,” a new voice said. You turned your head to see Sirius Black looking exceedingly smart, although dampened by the rain outside. “I’m here, no need for tears.”
“Prat,” James said, throwing an arm around his shoulders. “Where have you been?”
“How is she?” Remus asked. Marlene had broken her leg trying to dust Sirius’ wardrobe. He felt terrible.
“She’s great! Cast comes off next week.”
They drifted into conversation. You tried your best to pay attention, clenching and unclenching the napkin full of pear drops in your hand.
Remus pushed his shoulder into yours. “Something wrong?”
“Mm?” you looked into his face, startled at how close he was. “No, just thinking.”
You looked down at his mouth, caught yourself, averted your gaze to his neck. How do you describe the feeling of being found out?
“Nothing,” you said. “Nothing in particular.”
You insisted on keeping a healthy distance between yourself and Remus, hoping to dissuade James from imparting his newfound knowledge on anyone else in your circle of friends. This was an imperfect method, as years of friendship and doting meant that Remus was more than used to a friendly arm hooked through yours, his shoulders against yours, your knees and thighs pressed together. If you moved, he moved to follow, without thinking. You were almost flush to the booth wall when Lily arrived.
She had the pregnant glow about her, looking incredibly healthy and happy. She squished in next to Sirius without complaint, James gazing at her as though she were an angel stricken from heaven.
Despite trying to escape his side, Remus gave you such a sense of security that you couldn’t begrudge his right forearm pressed to your left. Your arms fit together like two jigsaw pieces.
“I’ll get some more drinks, shall I?” you asked, hoping to escape Remus and your racing heart for a moment.
“I’ll come with you,” Remus said, sliding out of the booth so you could stand.
“No, that’s okay,” you said abruptly, almost tripping over him. You made a beeline for the bar toilets, shutting the door behind you with a final click.
You let out a loud, panicked exhale.
Being in love with Remus was one thing. It had kept you up so many nights, staring at your ceiling, wondering what you were going to do. Because if you didn’t have Remus, you wouldn’t be you anymore. He was this all encompassing part of you, the glue that held you together most days. If you fucked it all up you would never forgive yourself.
Corrupting the friendship between you both was a taboo you didn’t dare think about. Construing his affection as anything but platonic was your own affliction. You wouldn’t be the one to pull the stitches he’d sewn in you to keep you both together.
It was so heavy. James knowing should’ve made it as though the weight of your secret was lifted - it didn’t. It was crushing.
You pushed the tips of your fingers into your closed eyelids until you saw stars.
Somebody knocked on the door. You threw yourself back from it in a violent flinch, having forgotten where you were.
“Two seconds!” you called, voice rough.
“It’s me,” Lily said through the door.
You frowned. They’d noticed your detour and your absence.
You cracked the door open. Lily pushed in, her small distended stomach brushing the doorway.
“Everything okay?” she asked.
“Yes. Yep. Uh…” you had to think quickly of a way to hide how you were feeling. If Lily spent too long here you might spill it. “Do you have a tampon?”
“Oh!” she looked relieved. “No, babe. I’m pregnant, no cycle for me.”
“Right.” You pressed your hand to your forehead and laughed nervously, though it was half false. The panic from before was persevering.
Lily could see it on your face clear as day. “Is it heavy?”
You were confused for a split second. “Wh- no. No, I just didn’t expect to start right now.”
“Right. Uh, I’ll go find something.”
“You can’t be doing errands for me, you’re not supposed to be on your feet.”
She rolled her eyes, “I’m not that pregnant.”
You stared pointedly at her tummy. “Who told you that?”
“I’ll sort it out,” she said, slipping from the bathroom.
You took the next few minutes to sort out your breathing. You didn’t need to panic. James probably wouldn’t tell Sirius. Sirius was smart and nice enough to know not to tell Remus. And if Remus found out - god forbid he found out - he wouldn’t do anything like you imagined. He wouldn’t toss you aside, cut you out of his life. He couldn’t.
You had to believe he couldn’t.
“Knock knock,” James said. You cracked the door an inch. He could see your blotchy face.
“Is it bad?” he asked in concern.
“It’s fine. Where’s Lily?”
“Sitting, like she should be.”
“I told her that too.”
“Here,” he said. He held out a box of tampons.
“Thank you,” you said, voice oddly tender. Maybe James was a better friend to you then you gave him credit for.
“You need anything else?”
“Alright. Remus thinks you’re mad at him.”
“Tell him it’s hormones.”
“Is it?” he asked. You shut the door in his face.
You gave it five minutes as though you’d actually needed a tampon, leaving the full box in the stall for some other desperate soul. You shuffled over to the bar, feeling as though every patron had its eyes on you, ordering a round for your table and some snacks for Lily.
It took you two trips. Remus peered at you in concern, budging up so you could sit at the end of the bench.
“Thanks, Y/N,” Lily said, grinning at her crisps.
“Don’t mention it,” you said weakly.
“Everything okay?” Remus asked you.
He didn’t believe you. You leaned heavily on the table, tuning into James' story about their evil garden gnomes and the mess they’d made of the baby’s nursery.
Remus took your posture as pain. He placed his large, warm hand to the small of your back and began to rub soothing circles in your skin. You melted under his touch, shoulders slowly lowering into a less defensive position.
James said something, you weren’t sure what, eyes half lidded from Remus touch. Remus laughed, loud, unexpected. It made you smile so hard your cheeks hurt, turning to grace the lines of his exuberant face in a way that was so familiar it made your eyes burn.
“I want a cig. Remus?” Sirius prompted, carefully weaving over Lily’s stomach and legs.
“I don’t smoke,” he said, though he was already standing. You mourned the loss of his hand on your back. He climbed over you with the same care as Sirius had.
“As good a time as any for a pee,” Lily said. Standing seemed slightly more difficult for her than the average person.
James was on you before she’d even made it to the bathroom door. “You fancy Remus,” he crooned.
“Will you shut it?” you hissed.
“This is literally great news. Now you can get married and have kids and him and baby Potter can be best friends forever.”
“You have it all worked out, don’t you?” you sighed in defeat.
“Wouldn’t you? Oh, will you tell him? Please tell him. We can go on triple dates.”
“You say all this like - like it would work out. It’s not that simple.”
James' happy demeanour toned down, a more serious look crossing his face. “I know it’s not simple. But - but when can love not be a good thing?”
Your face flamed. “Who said anything about love?”
James shrugged. “I’d know a thing or two about it.” Lily emerged from the bathroom and his eyes lit up.
“Yes. I guess you would.”
“Mate, the amount of whipped you are is ridiculous,” Sirius said.
Remus threw his shoulders back and groaned at the knots there.
“You literally asked me to come stand with you while you smoke in the rain when I don’t even smoke, and now you’re making fun of me for it?” Remus said, leaning against the cold wall behind him.
“Not for me, you pollock,” Sirius said through the cigarette in between his lips, shielding his lighter from the wind
Remus laughed defensively. “Says the man waiting on McKinnon hand and foot.”
“She broke her leg, idiot,” he took a long drag.
“I’m not whipped.”
“And I’m not ruggedly handsome.”
Remus sighed. “If you had your period, I’d do the same for you.”
“It’s not the same.”
“You don’t look at me like that. I hope.”
Remus titled his head backwards so that the rain fell on his face. “It’s a want I can’t entertain.”
“You are so determined to be unhappy,” he said theatrically.
“Is that why we’re friends?” Remus asked, lips quirked in a lopsided smile.
“Get a grip.” Sirius said, dropping his finished cigarette on the floor and squishing it under his heel. “Just tell her.”
“Look, she didn’t care about your monthly cycle, I hardly think a confession of love will deter her.”
“It’s not that easy.”
“Sure it is,” Sirius said, holding open the pub’s side door. Remus walked through. “Some things just are.”
“She’s nice, you’re nice. Perfect match.”
“She’s more than nice.”
“Yeah, get a load of you.”
“I despise you sometimes,” Remus said, although he was laughing all the same. Lily was toddling back to the table. You looked as though you were upset, James saying something quietly to you, his eyes on his wife.
You leaned back against your chair in a slump.
“Move up, sweetness,” Sirius told Lily. “Lest I have to climb over you again and risk damaging my godson.”
You made room for Remus without complaint. He would’ve commented it was too much room - you hadn’t been as touchy today.
“You want to go home?” He asked you.
“Boo! Don’t go, Y/N.” James said. “Stay here and drink martinis with me.”
“I’ll stay, but I’m not drinking anything with vermouth in it.”
“Be a man, Potter!” Sirius said with bravado. “Cosmopolitans or nowt.”
“Please no cosmopolitans,” Lily pleaded. “They make James too slutty.”
You were hiccuping through your third cosmopolitan when Lily cut you off. The pub was busier now that the night was starting, you had to strain to hear her.
“No! No more, Y/N. I can’t manage you and James and Sirius.”
“Remus will manage me!” you giggled.
Remus laughed. “Don’t I always.”
“I resent that.”
You braced your hand in between his knees, reaching forward to swipe Sirius' drink now that yours was empty. Lily threw her hands open when Remus did nothing to stop you.
“I’m not the boss of her.”
“Right!” you agree, practically gulping down the red drink.
“Maybe a little,” he said, disentangling your fingers gently from the stem of the glass.
“Spoilsport,” you mumbled. The cold from the glass was seeping down your hands.
“Feel,” you said, holding your hand out. “I’m cold.”
“You are,” Remus agreed, taking your hand between both of his.
You nodded, satisfied. You were a little dizzy now. The drinks were finally getting to you, seemingly. It was nice to be drunk - you could only think about your cold hands and Remus’ legs and none of the scary stuff.
Sirius was similarly drunk, leaning heavily into Lily’s side and spurting babble at James who was much more sober, surprisingly, his second cocktail still in front of him. How responsible, you thought. How boring.
“Loser,” you mumbled.
“I hope you’re not talking to me,” Remus said lowly.
You giggled. “Not you, Rem.”
Sirius clocked his missing drink and made a high pitched sound. “You fiendish girl.”
“Jesus, she’s gone,” James said. “I wish we had a camera, she’s funny when she’s drunk.”
“I’m not that drunk.”
Everyone at the table looked at you sympathetically.
“You guys suck.”
“I’m so tired,” Lily said, leaning her head atop Sirius’.
“Me too,” Remus said. They shared a companionable laugh.
“Not me,” James said.
“God, getting older sucks. What happened to getting blackout at sixteen? You guys have three cocktails each and fall asleep at the table,” Sirius said.
“Because you look wide awake.”
“Toss off, Moony.”
I volunteer, you thought to yourself. You laughed.
“What’s so funny?”
“Toss off Moony,” you repeated. It was funnier the second time; you giggled to yourself hysterically, so hard that it made you feel sick.
“Alright, calm down,” Remus said, fingers wrapped around your upper arm. “We don’t want a repeat of Sirius’ birthday.”
“You throw up one time and no one lets you forget.”
“It’s not that you threw up,” Sirius said gleefully, “it’s because you threw up laughing at frogs.”
You couldn’t help yourself, sighing in happiness at the memory. “They were so sticky.”
“Right. Home time. You’re coming with me-“ Remus said to you, “-so I can make sure you don’t choke to death. Sirius?”
“I’ve got a date with Miss McKinnon.”
“She won’t touch you like this,” James said, long arm wrapped tight around Lily’s shoulders.
“We’re gonna cuddle,” he said, enthused.
You staggered to your feet, wobbling in your canvas trainers. Remus steadied you by the shoulders.
“Can you side-along or are you a splinch-risk?” he asked you.
“I’m fiiiine, Remus. You worry too much,” you said, spreading the fingers on your hand against his chest affectionately.
“Sure. See you tomorrow for tea?” Remus asked the remaining friends at the table.
“Yes, Remus. See you then. Goodnight both!” Lily called.
“Goodnight,” you said. You crossed the threshold, Remus’ arm steering you out. He held your shoulder tightly.
“Ready?” he asked.
You hurdled through the air, a complete feeling of weightlessness moving through you, landing gracelessly at the bottom of the steps to Remus’ flat building.
You felt like the air had been ripped from you, bending over at the waist to brace yourself.
Remus patted your back, used to this post-disapparation sickness.
“You’re okay. Quick, stand up before you throw up.”
You did as he said, smoothing your wind-blown hair to the sides of your head. “Why is side-along always the worst?”
“You’re usually drunk to begin with,” he said, opening the door for you. You walked into the foyer, grateful for the warm air that greeted you. You rushed forward to click the lift button, pleased at the green light that it emanated. Someone had drawn two dots over the downward v to make a weird smiley face.
The doors whooshed open, a low-pitched tone announcing the elevator's arrival. Remus walked in after you, much more steady on his feet.
The mirrored walls displayed you both clear as day. You, looking a little messy, mascara smudged under your eyes. Remus, handsome, neat, worn coat with the patched elbows.
You caught his eye in the reflection. “You’re tall.”
“Mm,” you said, hopping from foot to foot. “Very tall.”
“No ones ever told me that before,” he said, nudging you out of the opening doors and onto his floor.
The inside of his flat was orderly, the smell of woodsmoke and something soft, like lavender or thyme, greeting you. It wasn’t a huge place, just an open plan kitchen/sitting room, bedroom, and bathroom. He folded your coats over the side of the sofa and kicked his shoes off.
You couldn’t work the laces of yours, moaning in annoyance.
“Here,” Remus said, leaning down. You brushed the hair out of his eyes without thinking. He untied your laces in the nick of time. You used his shoulders to balance yourself and toe them off.
He rose to his feet. “Come on, you’re in the bed.”
“Remus,” you said, knowing the argument that was about to happen. “It’s your bed, I’m perfectly fine on the sofa.”
“You’re my guest,” he said familiarly.
“It’s your bed,” you repeated.
“You never win this one - I don’t know why you try.”
“You’re being unfair.”
He smiled, knowing he was winning. You had a sudden stroke of genius.
“Look, it’s a double bed. We can share. That way you know I’m not choking to death on my own vomit,” you used his logic against him.
He was hesitant. “I don’t want to make you uncomfortable.”
“You won’t. Now come on, I’m so tired I can see two of you.”
"What a treat for you,” he said. You turned from him to smile.
You woke up confused, boiling hot and with a mild headache. Remus was asleep next to you, his face peaceful in sleep. You shrugged the blanket off of yourself and huffed, trying to cool down. If you squinted, you could see his alarm clock on the opposite bedside table.
You blinked, rubbing the sleep from your eyes. Remus had already laid out a glass of water and a closed box of paracetamol.
What a sweetheart, you thought to yourself wistfully.
You sat up to chug the water, forgoing the painkillers. You knew the headache would dissipate as soon as you had a drink. Your legs were aching.
You shrugged off your jeans, bending over to rub at the red lines embossed in your skin from the seams. You searched through Remus’ clothes until you found a pair of navy jogging bottoms, pulling them on instead. You sighed in relief, unbuttoning your shirt to reveal the vest top underneath.
How you’d managed to fall asleep completely dressed was besides you. Remus was in similar fashion, probably overheating just as badly as you’d been.
You crawled over the sheets to his side, placing your hand on the flat stretch of his stomach. Kneeling like this, you could see every detail of his face, his collarbones, his Adam’s apple.
“Moony,” you sing-singed under your breath. “Mooooony.”
He scrunched his eyes closed even tighter. “What is it?” he asked.
You sat back on your haunches, hand trailing down to his hip bone. You considered yourself for a moment and drew away.
“I’m awake, so you must also suffer my misfortune.”
“How selfish,” he said, stretching and pushing his face into the pillow. “Godric, it's warm.”
“You’re fully dressed.”
He opened his eyes, looking down at himself.
He glanced at you. “You’re wearing my clothes.”
“Oh, sorry. I can take them off.”
“Would you?” he asked, faux-eager.
You sniggered. “You’d like that, huh? Typical boy.”
“I want breakfast and we’re late.”
“Yeah?” he turned his head to squint at the clock. You ignored the urge to reach forward and touch his neck. “It’ll have to be brunch.”
“Cosmopolitans make you slutty too?” James asked, gesturing to your tank top.
“Misogynist,” you gasped, pretending to be scandalised.
“I never said there was anything wrong with being slutty, babe. Have as much sex as you like with Remus.”
“I’m not having sex with Remus.”
“You sound unhappy about that.”
You punched him in the arm. “Leave me alone. It’s too early for this.”
“It’s almost 11AM.”
You could hear Remus making tea in the Potters’ kitchen, his and Lily’s voices drifting in to mix with the sound of the washing machine, the whining kettle.
You’d come straight to the living room, intending to starfish on their sofa. James had beat you to it. You sat on top of his legs until he moved them
“I am unhappy about it,” you admitted.
James’ face might’ve split from the force of his victorious grin. “Acceptance. That’s like, the last stage.”
“So, you’re gonna seduce him?”
“Are you joking?”
“No. Seduce him. Or confess your undying love, then seduce him.”
“I could do neither.”
“Bo - ring,” he said. “Look, I’ll help you out. We’ll plan, like, a whole thing.”
“You’re scheming,” Remus said suspiciously. Lily was close behind him, raising her eyebrows.
Remus sat down on the arm of the sofa next to you, offering you a cup of tea.
“Thanks,” you said.
James sat up properly to make room for his wife. Lily rested a protective hand on her stomach, tea held to her chest. They melted together, James’ arm wrapped around her shoulder, hand wandering up and down her upper arm. You could see the goosebumps break out on her skin, an expression of content on both their faces.
You leaned into Remus, just a bit, your hair against his elbow. You breathed out, watching steam from your tea swirl with the action. It tasted exactly as though you’d made it yourself.
“What are you and Y/N planning?” Lily inquired, smirking.
“I’m not planning anything.”
“That’s right, plausible deniability and all that,” James said, nodding gravely. “This burden I shall bear by myself.”
“That sounds like it’s not going to end well.”
It went like this.
Marlene got her cast off. Sirius decided that was enough to celebrate, declaring a party must be had at his flat. Everyone had to attend.
It was rammed from one end of the room to the other. You could barely make out one old friend from the next, people from your year of Hogwarts and even the year below having arrived in droves. Marlene sits in the middle of it all, a permanent perplexed expression on her face. Half the people who came brought birthday balloons.
You’re pushing through the people, looking for Remus like you usually are. He’d disappeared to find drinks and never returned 20 minutes ago.
Sirius popped up out of nowhere. “Hey, can I get your help?”
“Sure. Nothing better to do,” you said.
“‘Nothing better to do,’ she says. You’re young, fun and at the biggest party of the year!”
He led you into the kitchen, which was less packed but still had some milling guests, through the kitchen into his bedroom.
"What do you want?"
"Well, I knew there was something, but what was oh- right! You're in love with Moony."
Your face fell. "Sirius-"
"Don't worry, dollface, my lips are sealed."
You frowned. "James told you?"
He didn't answer, which was answer enough.
"I'm going to wring James' neck."
"Settle down… is it such a bad thing, loving Remus?"
"No, of course not! He's - he's the best thing that ever happened to me."
"Then what's wrong?"
You sat down heavy on his rumpled bed, picking at a ladder in your tights. "It's difficult." You paused, chewing your lip.
"It's difficult," you repeated. "For me."
Sirius sat down next to you. "It doesn't have to be."
"I think people keep saying that, but they don't really believe it."
"I believe it. Love is never easy, but what's the point in loving someone and not telling them? Love with nowhere to go isn't what it could be."
You dropped your head into his shoulder. "Shouldn't you be having this talk with him? He's your best friend, not me."
"We're good friends, aren't we? Plus, James bagsied him."
"You drew the short straw," you grumbled.
"You're not the short straw, idiot. I like talking to you, especially if you're gonna marry my best mate."
"Marriage is not on the cards."
Sirius tapped a rhythm on his leg. "You're both the same. Determined to be unhappy."
"I love him," you said miserably. "It's a lot. I can't see everything else anymore."
"Love is supposed to make you happy."
"Then why won't you tell him?"
You thought about this for a long time.
"When we were 17… You remember, in potions, Slughorn made Amortentia. I was never any good at potions, Remus used to let me copy all his answers and - I turned to Emmaline, and I said - 'God, can you smell that? It smells like woodsmoke in here.' She looked at me like I was stupid."
"I've loved him since I was 17," you whispered. "Maybe since the day I met him. How do you tell someone that?"
Remus leaned his head against the door, his fingers wrapped around the handle. James was looking at him with an intensely pleased expression.
"Woodsmoke," James said. "Boom."
He unwrapped his hand.
James' face was a picture. "Wh- wait a second! Where are you going?"
"I need to buy a ring."
James chased after him, tugging him back by his shoulder. "Woah- woah, Moons. You can't just ask her to marry you out of the blue."
"She loves me."
"Marriage is more than just love. Trust me." They both came to a stop. James was still grinning. Remus couldn't help it, he smiled back.
"She loves me."
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"She asked me not to."
"Oh, so now you've suddenly developed an ability to keep secrets?"
"Why do you think I pulled you off to Sirius' room in the middle of a party? For a snog?"
"I'm an excellent kisser."
"You sound like Sirius."
"Can't I get her a ring without getting married?"
"You can get her fifty. But maybe put the poor girl out of her misery?"
"How do I tell her?"
"Think on your feet, buddy," James said, turning them both around.
Remus felt as though volts of electricity were running through his body, as though every footstep he took back down the hallway was as loud as a thunderclap.
Sirius was shutting his door gently behind him.
"Ooh, perfect timing, lover boy. She's debating her whole existence in there."
"What did you say to her?" James asked indignantly.
"Nothing bad. Just that if she never tells him she'll die alone."
Remus ignored them both as they argued, squaring his shoulders to stare at the door. James patted him solidly on the shoulder. "Go get 'em."
They walked down the hallways like kings. "Let's get this party started!" Sirius cried.
"Y/N?" he called through the wood. "Can I come in?"
You said something. "What?" he called.
"Yes! Come in!"
You were splayed out on the bed, hair around you like a halo. You looked sick to your stomach.
"Is it your period?"
He pushed himself up against the wall, his palm against the cold plaster.
He took a deep breath.
"When we were 17," he started shakily, "we had potions. Slughorn made amortentia. You were always pretty good at potions, but you never had any confidence, so you'd always copy my answers and I'd pretend not to notice."
You were staring at him with wide, wide eyes. He didn't dare move toward you, swallowing hard.
"And I turned to James and asked him what he could smell. He said Lily, obviously. He asked me what I could smell, and I said, ‘chocolate'. But-" he held your gaze, heart racing, and took the leap, "I lied. I didn't want anybody to know, I didn't want you to know. It was my biggest secret. Even bigger than the wolf."
"It smelled of you. I fell for you a long time ago," he admitted.
“Was it so far to fall?” you asked him, voice cracking.
“It didn’t hurt at all,” he assured you.
You blinked. A tear gathered at the corner of your eyes, glassy in the low light.
You'd barely sat up and he was on you, almost pulling you off the sheets with the force of his hug. You laughed wildly and he cherished the sound.
You pushed your face into the side of his neck and he shivered at the feeling of you inhaling. You went to say something, and he knew he should've waited, listened, but he couldn't. He plastered his mouth to yours. You didn't hesitate, not for a second, kissing him back with all the wild abandonment you possessed.
He laughed into your mouth, kissing and kissing. You weren't the shy kisser he often imagined, matching his passion and tenacity with ease.
"Wait, stop," you said.
He looked at you in concern. "What, what's the matter?"
You leaned your forehead against his. "We can't make out in Sirius' room. That's, like, a cardinal sin. Imagine the things this bed has seen."
He touched the tip of his nose to yours. "Where else can we?"
"My bed, your bed. I'm not fussy."
He grinned, ducking his head to kiss your cheek. He pulled you up onto your feet. "Splinch-risk?"
"As if. He puts who-knows-what in the drink."
Maybe because he wanted to ravish you so badly, the disapparation felt as though it took millenia. When you both finally arrived at the outside of his building he pulled you in.
He couldn't accurately describe love to someone if they asked, but if he could he would play this clip, both of you falling over each other to steal kisses and laugh in the elevator at yourselves, red-faced, ecstatic in the reflections, almost missing your floor. Him fumbling with his keys at the door, forgetting to pull them out. Kissing you up against the thin flat walls like you were a sacred being, like you were a prayer he was sending.
The fronts you put up for other people, for yourselves, fell away. It was just you and him. Maybe it was hard to kiss your best friend without laughing madly or maybe it was your own mistake. Either way, it was a mess of kissing and laughing and struggling to breathe.
"Don't, don't," you begged, tickled by his lips against the skin under your ear.
"Or what?" he asked, though he pulled away anyways.
You went up on tip toes to do the same to him, laughing as he went boneless.
"Alright." He swatted your head lightly with the back of his hand. "You proved your point."
"Did I?" you asked, taking the skin between your teeth.
He gasped. "Demon."
"Yes, you. Sent to corrupt me."
"Consider yourself corrupted," you said, licking a stripe over his nibbled skin. "Now you're mine."
"Is that so?" His hands, seconds ago having held the nape of your neck, traveled down. The other pulled you flush against him. He watched your face saturate as you realised his affliction.
The other hand slipped under the edge of your skirt, holding your hip in a brushing grip.
"Excited to see me?" you asked, breathless. You were doing some exploring of your own, fingers traveling over the lines of his stomach and chest.
"Excited to do lots of things to you."
You moved away from the wall he'd pressed you against, walking him backwards until his knees hit the back of the sofa and pushed him down, clambering into his lap. You didn't shy away from him, setting yourself down on him in a way that made you both stutter in your breathing.
"Aren't we supposed to wait?" he asked you.
"For what?" you asked him, pushing his hair from his face with both hands.
"The right time."
"Doesn't it feel like now?"
"I just want you to be sure."
"I'm sure. Are you?"
He grabbed your hips, pressing you down, grinding you against him. "I'm sure," he laughed at your squirming. "I'm sure."
"Let me take my skirt off," you said, moving as if to climb off of him.
His arms tightened around your waist. "Do you have to?"
"Like this one, do you?"
"Can't you tell?"
"Let me up." You unseated yourself from his lap. It seemed much more illicit suddenly, him lying back on the sofa, red in the face and hard watching you undress with a heady gaze. You pulled your tights off in a hurry, almost toppling over. He smirked in amusement.
Next was the skirt. You unzipped it, letting it fall to your ankles before stepping out. He hooked under your arms and brought you up, onto him again. Your underwear were simple, cute, black with a lettuce edge trim and purple ribbon with a bow on the top, like a gift.
He trailed a finger at the slip of skin just above it.
"You always wear stuff like this?"
"Thought I might get lucky," you admitted, bashful.
He moved his hands, pressed flat at the curve of your stomach, up, over your shirt to the peaks of your breasts. You brought your fingers up to the buttons, he squeezed.
The shirt came off. He pushed your bra up, not bothering with the clasp.
"What, you never took a bra off before?"
"Quicker," he mouthed, pressing his lips to the underside of your breast. He kissed stripes, leaving wet half circles in his path.
You did your best to maneuver around him, digging your fingers into his shirt buttons. You stopped at the first inch of a scar, tracing the thickest one with the lightest touch of your fingernail, sending goosebumps up his back.
"Do they bother you?" he asked.
"Never," you said. Pushing his shoulders back with your hands, you leaned down to analyse the scars. There was no rhyme or reason to them. Some were purple, some white with age.
You brushed your hands down his bare chest and smiled at him.
"You're so handsome."
The smile he gifted you in return was soft, loving.
"You're more perfect than I could have imagined," he said in turn.
"You imagine me like this?"
"Only every night."
Your hands wandered down to the zip of his trousers. You hesitated. "Go on," he said softly, pleaded softly.
You unzipped, unbuttoned. The trepidation between you both heightened. The shape of him was clearer and clearer.
You pulled his trousers down, then used a gentle hand to palm him through his boxers. His breath hitched. You were soft, lovely, probing with curious fingers. You'd be his undoing.
A fingernail, scratching at the waistband. You pulled him free, finally, his dick standing up. You used a knuckle to trace a prominent vein, gasping in happiness at his twitches.
He turned his head to the side, blinking hard. You took him in your hand and pumped with a confidence he wasn't sure you actually had, shyness and pleasure both written on your face.
"Alright, don't do me in," he said. He gripped the skin of your hips and pulled you forward, your silky underwear sliding against him. You took to this like a fish to water, planting your knees on either side and rocking your hips into him. He groaned, attempting to help, but your movements created a weakness in him he couldn't overcome.
You were wet on top of him, leaking through silk, coating him where you made contact.
You reached down in between your bodies to pull your panties to one side. You dipped a finger inside, then two, pulling slickness out and rubbing a circle around your entrance. Remus watched with half lidded eyes.
"You want to?" you asked him. He was better at it than you, probably because he could actually see what he was doing. He graced the skin of your clit, down, pushing his middle finger inside you with infinite care.
You moaned, your shoulders pushed back. "Ah, can you- will you-"
His middle finger was joined by his ring finger. His pinky and index hit the soft skin surrounding your entrance with each stroke. The meat of his pan rubbed your clit, sending spikes of hot pleasure up your abdomen.
You couldn't hold yourself up anymore, falling into his chest, arms braced on the sofa behind him. You tucked your head into his neck and gasped for air.
This restricted his speed but not his movement, scissoring his fingers inside you, curling to find where it felt best and repeating it whenever you squirmed.
You lifted yourself to escape his ministrations.
He rubbed the head of his dick against you. "Are you ready?" he asked.
You were flat to his chest. He pushed his hips down, lining up with your entrance. You cried out at the feeling. The first few inches were easy-going, sliding up into you as easy as pie. You'd brought a hand up to the hair at the base of his neck and he winced at the death grip you had.
"Am I hurting you?" he asked, coming to a stop.
"No - oh my god. You're big."
"I thought I was tall? Handsome?"
"You can be - oh, you can be all of those things."
"Listen to you," he said under his breath. "Can't even speak properly, can you, lovely girl?"
He was far from bottoming out. He held you in place, pulling out to push back in, stretching you out that little bit further each time, filling you up. You tried to move, ride him, and he tightened his grip.
"Stay still, sweetheart."
You listened. He was making good progress of you, easing you open with long, firm thrusts. You were beside yourself at this point, making sounds in his ear that almost pushed him to the edge every time he pushed back in.
Finally, with his full length inside you, he stopped. You wriggled circles around his dick, moaning with weak desperation.
"Remus, don't be cruel. Don't be."
"Cruel with you..." He thrust up, harder than before but never enough to hurt. "How could I ever be?"
You were pitched up, higher than he'd ever heard. His hips were doing all the work, you a sopping wet mess.
"We're a perfect fit," you said, your hair on his neck, your face against his shoulder. He turned to kiss your forehead.
He spread you open with his hands, the drag of his dick against your walls almost too much to bear. He was moving you up and down on him, finally encouraging you to move. You did so with a struggle, using your knees as an anchor to ride him.
You rose as high as you could, taking great pleasure in making him moan with every drop, pulling all the way off to abruptly drop back in, feeling his dick at the very deepest part of you.
When he was fully inside you, you rolled your hips, leaning forward to press pecks to his chest. He tangled a hand in your hair.
His head was thrown back against the sofa. You might look at his face and think he was distressed.
You steadily increased your speed, puffing with exertion though it could hardly be noticed between the sounds you were making.
"Don't wear yourself out," he said, sounding worried.
You let yourself drop onto your legs completely. "I can do it."
He lifted and dropped you with little effort, bobbing short, deep strokes, touching a part of you that stopped you from thinking.
"Can we go faster?"
He lifted you up close to his chest and layed you out flat on the sofa. It felt nice to be on your back, staring up at him instead of down. He hiked one of your legs up by the knee. The other leg fell off the side of the sofa.
It was his turn to be on his knees, lining up with his hand braced beside your head.
He did exaclty as you asked, fucking you at a pace that hardly let you catch your breath. It was overwhelming in the best way. His free hand came down to rub big, arching circles in your clit.
"Pretty baby, so pretty spread open like this"
"I'm close," you breathed uselessly, hand gripping the wrist near your head.
"Yeah? You gonna cum for me, pretty girl?"
The praise sent a hot flush through your whole body. You cried out, feeling the pressure of his thumb on your sensitive clit increase. Despite enjoying the feeling you felt yourself shy away as the climax started, pushing your leg down and in. Remus chuckled, doubling down his efforts.
He thrust into you with a force and it was enough to push you over the edge, both hands clamping down hard around his wrist where he held himself above your head. “Oh, god,” you cried, breathless, the words ripped out of you.
Remus had an intensely pleased look about him, bringing up the hand from the apex of your thighs to cradle the side of your face, smoothing the lines where you’d scrunched your eyes closed.
You opened your eyes, misty as they were, to look at him, the corners of your mouth going up. He leaned down to kiss you, pushing most of his weight on you.
You made such sweet sounds, he thought. And you were stunning, sweaty and boneless, splayed out across his sofa like a vision, face alight with pleasure. You covered the hand he’d brought to your face with your own, steadying the jostling of each thrust.
He held your gaze and you laughed, a cascading sound, breathy and infectious. He was nearing his own climax, increasing his speed so that the loudest sound in the room was the slap of where his body met yours. You were half-sobbing with every thrust, though they were coloured with pleasure.
He pulled out, leaning back on his haunches, and painted the skin of your stomach white with a few rapid pumps of his shaft.
“Messy,” you said.
“Yeah, you should see the sofa. I’ll never have company again lest they see how much you like me.”
“I more than like you.”
“That much is evident,” he said, charting a course down your abdomen and slipping his fingers back inside you, pumping leisurely in and out, forcing wetness into the ever-growing pool beneath you and smiling like it was funny.
He moved back, his fingers still inside you, to kiss the soft skin between your cunt and your thighs, teasing you. You held your breath in anticipation, almost screaming when he teased the bud of your clit with his mouth. He liked stripes up your centre until you were begging him to stop, ticklish and overwhelmed.
He pulled his fingers free of you and wiped his chin with the back of his hand.
“If we weren’t wizards I’d send you a dry-cleaning invoice.”
You snickered, finally closing your legs to rub the skin of your hips. He watched you, kneeling before you like a prayer.
“You’re a rough fuck, Lupin.”
“That wasn’t too rough, was it?”
“You could go rougher.”
“Oh, could I?” he said, pulling you up and into his arms. You wrapped your arms around his neck, your legs on either side of him. He was still hard enough underneath you to keep going, but he hadn’t pulled you up for that. He rubbed a hand up and down your back, the other behind your shoulders, soothing the shakes moving through you.
“Maybe not today,” you mumbled.
“No, I don’t think so. Another time. We’ve all the time in the world.”
You dotted lazy kisses over his freckled shoulder.
“Wait,” you said, stilling with your mouth a millimetre from his skin. “I lied before, about being on. You didn’t know that. You were gonna fuck me on my period?”
He pushed your head back, his hand in your hairline. “Yes? What a strange question to ask.”
“I am not the strange one.”
“I’ll fuck you whenever you like. A little blood never bothered me.”
“I’m not sure if that’s romantic or insane.”
“You’ll change your mind the next time you cycle.”
James invited you over with a bottle of champagne.
You rushed forward to hug him, laughing when the air rushed out of him. “Thanks for your devious master plan, James.”
“Don’t mention it,” he said, surprised. “Someone’s in a good mood.”
“She’s always like that,” Remus said.
“I bet she is, you dirty dog!” Sirius chimed in. Marlene whacked him upside the shoulder. He shifted her where she sat on his lap, laughing.
“Baby Lupin on the horizon? Harry’s getting so lonely,” James said, wiggling his eyebrows.
“Harry’s not even born yet,” Lily said. “Stop pressuring our friends into having kids.”
You felt yourself light up at the thought. It was definitely too soon to be having kids, but it didn’t stop you from thinking about it with great anticipation.
Remus hugged you to his side, grinning. “We’ll see.”
Lessons and Learnings
For @witcher-bows-and-arrows. Feb 6: Court
In which Jaskier teaches Geralt the art of courting. It’s all about paying attention to details, really, except he may be missing a few details himself.
also on ao3
“What do you mean I’m wrong? Certainly she was interested,” Jaskier takes another bite of the lemon cake and speaks with his mouth full, “or why did she wink at me, hmm? Nobody winks if they are not falling in love, even just a little. When it comes to the matter of the heart, my friend, I should be the expert between us.”
The sun is climbing high, and their little picnic will need to end soon due to the midday heat, but Geralt still lazes on the large blanket set up by himself earlier. His head is pillowed on one arm, and the other has raised to his forehead to block the sunlight.
What Geralt also set up in the morning before asking Jaskier to join him on this meadow is a basket of assorted pastries and wine. It sits beside him, now only half full, and Jaskier sits on the other side cross-legged, munching on the food without a care in the world.
“I’m not saying you’re wrong,” Geralt replies, eyes closed. “I’m merely pointing out a fact, Jaskier, that you may not understand the matter of the heart as well as you believe.”
“Wow.” Jaskier licks the honey off his thumb. “I won’t take offense because you’re you, but let it be noted that I always know. Always! If someone is pursuing me, it will be so obvious the words might as well be written across their forehead.”
“Is it though? I reckon someone could be doing it right in your face and you wouldn’t recognize it.”
“Ha! I doubt it. The perks of being a noble and a bard, I suppose. They teach you all there is to courting until nothing is a surprise anymore.” Jaskier sighs to the blue sky. “When you think about it, it’s a bit sad, really.”
“Hmm.” Geralt’s eyes snap open, his gaze falling on Jaskier curiously. “And how would one go about courting, in your opinion?”
Jaskier’s eyebrows shoot up. The picnic has done such wonders for Geralt’s mood that he’s being talkative. Not to mention he came up with the very idea himself. A relaxing day out in a gorgeous meadow, right before the local summer festival. What a nice treat!
Finally, Geralt is learning the art of self-care. Jaskier should be so proud.
“Well, I will tell you,” Jaskier answers, grinning, “since you’re oh-so eager to learn, as rare as it happens. First lesson,” he starts, “good food.”
“Never overlook what a good meal can do to a person. For you, Geralt, if you ever decide to court someone—whoever the lucky sod may be—always start with filling their stomach. Remember, no one has the mood for romance while being their hungriest and crankiest self.”
“Oh,” Geralt says. “I wouldn’t know.”
“Take notes then!”
Jaskier preens while finishing the cake. Some crumbs have fallen onto Geralt’s tunic, so he picks it out with sticky fingers and sucks away the last of the frosting.
Geralt pauses, pursing his lips before speaking.
“How’s the cake, Jask?”
“Fantastic!” Jaskier answers, licking his lips and toying with the idea of eating another. He probably shouldn’t; he’s too full already. “Rude of me to not have thanked you. So thank you, Geralt! But where did you buy these? It tastes just like the store I tried a few years ago.”
“It’s the same one. You mentioned—”
“Anyway, don’t sidetrack me,” Jaskier continues excitedly, rubbing his hands together. “Secondly, plan a nice date.”
Geralt lets out a sigh and pinches the bridge of his nose. “Go on,” he then prompts.
Jaskier straightens his back in all seriousness. “It is customary to ensure that your beloved enjoys the courtship. Thus, you must pick the right activities. The first date is particularly important. You want to do something that allows you two to get to know each other, so it can’t be too strenuous. Horse-riding would be a no-go. You can barely hear each other and it ruins both of your hair.”
“Hmm,” Geralt muses. “So something quiet? An outdoor activity that also provides some privacy.”
“Indeed! And location matters too.”
“Like a place with a beautiful view. Good weather, lots of greenery and sunshine,” Geralt adds.
He’s looking directly into Jaskier’s eyes, unblinking.
Jaskier hums, impressed.
“Now you’re getting it! Better with somewhere to sit too, in case you get tired but don’t want to leave yet. You know, when there is a connection, all the time in the world isn’t enough.”
“Two decades could be too short.”
Jaskier pats Geralt on the chest, surprised that his witcher is learning so fast. Oh, he can make a romantic out of him yet.
Geralt clears his throat, opens his mouth and closes it a few times. He seems to struggle to say something, but it could just be Geralt’s usual broody self acting up with all this talk about love and feelings.
“Never mind,” he simply says in the end. “Is there a third point to this whole…courting lesson?”
“The third one,” Jaskier says softly, “is the most important of them all.”
At that, Geralt sits on the blanket so he’s at eye level with Jaskier. He’s listening so carefully it’s unlike him. Jaskier would tease but something about the way Geralt carries himself tells him that he should speak carefully too.
“The third and last lesson in the art of courting.” Jaskier picks his words carefully. “Just…show that you care.”
Jaskier nods. “It’s that easy. Listen to them, pay attention, and remember the details. You deny it but there’s planty of caring in you, Geralt. It’s the showing that could give you trouble. The smallest things make a difference, but they are the biggest ones too. Showing your heart is what matters at the end of the day, when it’s in the right place. And I know yours often is—well, underneath all the grumbles and frowns.”
Geralt snorts. “As you so often point out.”
Except Geralt is neither grumbling nor frowning. He’s giving Jaskier that look again.
“You are giving me that look again.”
“What look?” Geralt asks gently.
Jaskier ducks his head, looking away from how ridiculously sweet this man can be. “Like you are smiling but you don’t want to, so you end up only smiling with your eyes.”
He wonders if Geralt will look at his beloved like this when he courts them. The idea makes Jaskier a bit disappointed, somehow, and he realizes that no matter how eager he was to teach Geralt all these tricks, he may not necessarily want to see them put into use.
The day is truly too hot. He’s not thinking straight anymore.
“Come on,” Geralt says suddenly, after a moment of silence. “We should go to the town hall. The celebration is starting.”
He stands from the ground and pulls Jaskier with him. The air will soon be scorching and the bright sun makes Jaskier squint, but the smile on Geralt’s face is blooming into a real one gradually.
“Yes,” Jaskier says, shaking off those stray thoughts. “I’ve been wanting to see this one for ages.”
“Well, then. Chop chop. Let’s not miss the beginning. Did you know the local children will sing an ode to summer? They’d rehearse a cute little dance too. Even without seeing it, I’m sure it’ll become my favorite thing in the world by the end of the day!”
“I know. It’s why we’re here, Jaskier.”
Geralt looks all but fond when he begins wrapping the picnic blanket and putting away the left-over pastries, and he cocks his head when Jaskier jumps on his tiptoes impatiently.
“Go on, then,” he says. “I’ll be right behind you.”
Jaskier squeezes Geralt on the arm in thanks. There’s a wildflower lodged in his clothes but he doesn’t seem to notice.
“Don’t forget the lessons.” Jaskier winks. “You could use it one day.”
The golden sun surrounds Geralt, making it hard to discern his expression, but the smile lingers in his eyes.
“You know what, Jaskier. I just might.”
Summary: Everything seems to be going perfect in your life. Your boyfriend Jungkook is more than you could have dreamed of and there’s been a break in the case that could define your career — one of the members of the most elusive mafia, The Devils has been captured. Heading down to the precinct you couldn’t shake the overwhelming feeling: Was everything too good to be true?
A/N: This Au has been sitting inside my WIPs for far too long. I decided to publish it and see if there was anyone willing to go on another Mafia!Jungkook trip with me. So, I’m sending this out to see how the reception goes. Much love, Jenn. Headers made by @firefly-graphics
Pairing: Jungkook x Reader
Genre: Mafia!Jungkook, Detective Reader, enemies to lovers, mutual pining
Warnings: mentions of fingering, sexual content, and violent settings
It was close to two in the morning when you’d got the call. You knew without having to look at the caller ID that it was your Chief. Something had forced his hand enough to call you to bring your ass back to the station. What you hadn’t prepared for were the words that greeted your gruff hello: “We got one of the sons’ a bitches.”
It was hard to miss the victory in his tone, and it was enough to spur you out of bed. Your feet hurrying towards the discarded uniform of slacks and button down from the previous day. You weren’t worried about jumping into a shower or putting on a wrinkle-free outfit to try and impress. For the first time in over a year you had a solid lead.
Being the youngest detective on the force, it left the heavy burden of having to prove your worth. The better part of your career being plagued by this case. You were a junior detective, promoted to lead strictly due to the unfortunate event the previous detective was found floating in the Han river.There’d been the wasted man hours on leads that fell through or witnesses that either went missing or completely refused to talk. The ones who turned up in missing persons’ cases usually wound up being found in trash bags scattered at city dumps. Your least favorite experience was finding a couple who’d disappeared only to be found crushed inside their car in a junkyard. Eventually, with so much loss and not enough wins, the entire station began to fall into a gloom of always being one step behind.
All you’d come to know about this Kingpin, Kim Namjoon, and his Devils’ over the years were that there were seven of them. One of the seven being the Kingpin himself, while the other six served a purpose. A well oiled machine with all of them holding specific jobs and nicknames. It took months and months for you to find out the name of the Kingpin himself. And in those months of searching that dragged on into years, the bodies and carnage of robbed banks, penthouse scuffles, and plays for power continued to haunt you.
After all this time you finally had one of the bastards.
The thought rang heavy in your mind as you hopped into your boots. Your fingers frantically struggled to tie up the laces. Even though there were more important things to worry about, you couldn’t help but glance one last time at your bed.
Jungkook hadn’t come home last night.
Ever since you’d met him, Jungkook appeared to be just as busy as you were. Both of you receive calls at odd hours that sometimes force you to excuse yourself from breakfast or dinner. Or the late night phone calls that had you leaving the bed with hurried kisses and promises to be back as soon as possible.
What you knew most about his work was that a majority of it required him to do a lot of night work. Your relationship was still relatively new - with your one-year anniversary coming up in just a couple weeks. It should’ve sent off alarms how quickly everything seemed to happen between you, but from the moment you’d met him Jungkook had you completely enamored.
You were never one for one-night stands. Even when your day was pure nightmare fuel, you’d never allow yourself the temptation of losing yourself in a total stranger. No, instead you found yourself losing yourself to the bottle. The night you’d met Jungkook had been a complete accident. The earlier hours of the day had left you wanting the comfort of your bed and a personal pint of Half Baked Ben & Jerry’s. The only reason you’d agreed to go out was because your friend had pleaded; reminding you it was her birthday.
The day ended up being one of the worst you’d experienced in a while. Your shift started with the basic petty crimes until you’d received one of the many calls you were learning to hate. Namjoon’s Devils’ had left a trail of carnage so widespread inside a building it encapsulated almost five floors. It wasn’t just a knife fight that happened in those halls. It was a shitty Andy Warhol painting of bullets trapped in grungy wallpaper. The carpet a fucked up Picasso of blood-stains that were still so fresh when you’d arrived with the others it was still wet; squishing under every footstep. Forensics was not pleased when they’d arrived.
After walking through that madhouse anyone would’ve deserved a drink. You especially. You were trying to do just that when your wait at the bar began to turn from a simple ten minute wait to nearing thirty. Your fingers began to tap out an inpatient tune, like annoying elevator music while you prayed the bartender would notice you soon. Your tunnel vision caused you to stop paying attention to everything around you. You were so damn fixated on getting that drink you hadn’t noticed the body that slid up to the left you. It wasn’t until you got the feeling someone was staring that you finally looked around to see if you could find out who. Your eyes were not disappointed.
One arm rested coolly against the bar. Not for actual support but for style. The pose allowed him to lean his body towards you just enough that it wouldn’t be invasive, but let him stay close. When you turned to finally give him your attention, like he desperately seemed to want, it took what self-control you had left to keep your jaw from falling.
His hair was long; the front barely grazing the middle of his cheeks while the back went further. His hair was a literal mullet. It should’ve looked ridiculous, but Jungkook was far from that. He was breathtaking.
You weren’t ashamed to admit it then or even now. The minute you’d locked eyes with him you realized it wasn’t a coincidence he came to stand beside you. You knew you should look away. You’d been staring at him too long now for it to be considered a fleeting glance. But your eyes were enjoying the sinful way the suit hugged against his body. When your eyes finally made their way back up the fine lines of his suit, you were greeted by a knowing smirk that, for a split second, made you forget how to breathe.
You weren’t entirely sure how you could pretend you weren’t affected by him in the slightest. His face was all sharp angles that were showcased perfectly by the curve of his jaw, and barely softened by doe shaped eyes. But even that softness was eaten by an eyebrow piercing that accentuated his brow that was currently raised in question. The smirk that lifted his lips matched the heat in his eyes as he shamelessly let you watch his eyes roam over your body.
You tried to focus on anything else in the space between you and somehow found yourself noticing a brush of a mole underneath his bottom lip. Its placement felt ludicrous due to its cuteness. Here this guy was giving you, “Fuck me,” eyes that were countered by soft touches that were scattered all over his face. It left him teetering between mind blowingly gorgeous and boyishly handsome all at once.
The expensive fabric of his charcoal gray suit strained against the muscles in his arms as he raised it up to flag down the bartender. Your eyes took in the length of his fingers and your body shivered as you imagined them sliding up your dress. Your cheeks heated with a blush you hoped he didn’t notice as you imagined those same fingers making their way between your thighs. Your mindly shamelessly began to wonder if was the kind of man that liked to tease - to prolong every ounce of pleasure - or did he just take what he wanted?
You were more than aware of how the black shirt underneath, just like the jacket, showcased a sculpted chest. He radiated sex appeal and power and you wanted nothing more than to be engulfed.
With the flick of his fingers the bartender appeared like magic. His question of, “What would you like?” sounded desperate to please as he waited for Jungkook’s instruction. Jungkook himself didn’t glance once in his direction. His attention was wholly focused on you.
“Give the lady whatever she’d like.”
Now that you had the attention of the bartender you couldn’t seem to remember what you’d wanted to order. You weren’t even sure if you wanted a drink anymore. Not when he was standing there looking at your mouth like he planned to either fuck it or kiss it.
“Does that include you?”
You expected there to be a hint of shock. Or maybe he’d take offense to your boldness. What you’d ended up receiving in return was that devilish smirk he wore like a second skin. It spread like wildfire farther up his face; lighting up his eyes to look like the big bad wolf as they roamed hungrily over your body. A silent prayer formed on your lips that he would close that distance and touch you. Your house could’ve been made of fucking cement and you would’ve held your door open to allow him to sink his teeth in your skin.
“Sorry. I’m no longer on the menu.”
You did your best to hide your disappointment at his dismissal by giving the bartender your attention.
“I’ll take a rum and coke.”
You refused to turn back to him. To let yourself be flustered farther by some ridiculously good-looking man who’d basically told you he was taken. God, but he didn’t make it easy. It didn’t matter if you’d decided not to look at him. You could feel his eyes staring daggers into you, itching along your spin, while you slid a twenty in exchange for your drink across the bar. Were you imagining things or did he get closer?
When you moved to step away from the bar, you finally gave him your attention. A glass raised half way to thank him for the drink.
“Thanks for the help.”
You tipped your glass and started to make your way back to your friend's booth. In the short amount of time you’d been standing at the bar wasting time just to get one drink the place had filled up. Instead of it being a straight shot back to the booth, you found yourself asking people to excuse you with your precious drink held above your head. If you spilled it there was a strong indication there’d be some cursing and, possibly, a few tears.
Your imagination began to wander into naughty places as you made your way across the floor. You didn’t like being grabbed when you danced on the floor, but you imagined what it would be like if it was him you felt. His hand at your waist, stopping you from moving farther from him, with his body shamelessly pressed tightly against you. The hand he’d secured at your waist being used to move your hips in unison with him to the next DJ requested song.
The tension between you two wasn’t something you’d imagined. You’d plainly stated your interest and he seemed receptive, but…
You couldn’t stop yourself from glancing back over your shoulder. Just like at the bar you’d felt his eyes follow you without mercy as you made your weak attempt to cross the floor.The dancing bodies around you should’ve provided you ample cover. Or that’s what you believed, but when you glanced over your shoulder you found those intense doe eyes fixated on you. His lean frame was still pressed into the exact spot you’d left him at the bar. Even from where you stood, you easily mapped out the teasing curve of his lips.
In that instant you really did feel like Little Red trapped under the insatiable gaze of a predator who threatened to swallow you whole. Even though your heart began to thunder wildly in your chest you couldn’t deny that it was all from the thrill of being hunted. For a moment, you forgot to worry about your drink and the high possibility of it spilling. You were rooted there to the floor, pulse hammering, and waiting.
“Hey Y/N!” You could barely register her words, but when Eun Hyun touched your arm it jolted you back to reality. “You good?”
“Yeah, yeah. I’m fine.”
“Did you get lost? Or has something caught the attention of that cop brain of yours?”
Her voice dripped heavy with teasing as she scanned the bouncing heads around you. She knew, somewhere in the sea of bodies, someone in there had turned you into a walking puddle. You gave her your best care-free smile and slid your arm around her waist. Your hips knocking against hers playfully to direct her back towards the table.
“I’m off duty tonight.”
You practically had to yell the words in her ear. If it wasn’t for the music being ear shatteringly loud, you would’ve worried about her eardrum. Your response sent her head back to rest against your shoulder and gazing over in your direction. Her laughter caused her eyes to crease into half moons.
The rest of the night you spent surrounded by Eun Hyun and her friends. You didn’t find yourself trying to find your mystery bar guy or wondered if he was somewhere watching you from a shadowed booth. You flung yourself into the girls night; your body gyrating and dancing to the throbbing bass of the music. Your mouth greedily knocking back every drink and every shot offered up by the next round from the bar. This was your night to unwind and you planned to take advantage of every minute.
When it was time for everyone to head home - and you being you - you hailed a cab for each of the girls. Eun Hyun decided at the last minute that instead of riding with you, she’d catch a ride with another girlfriend. The two of them believed that their girls' night didn’t have to end there at the bar, but somewhere still open that allowed them to be full of sin. They asked if you wanted to join, but you knew you couldn’t. As much as you loved living in the illusion of freedom, in the back of your mind, you knew the dark underbelly that was your home would be calling you bright and early. You didn’t need a massive hangover to join you during a homicide investigation.
Once the last of the girls’ was securely inside a cab you started waving for your own. You were usually a cautious person - came with the territory - so why you weren’t at that moment always surprised you. You’d thought about the second time you’d run into each other a lot. Why Jungkook never peaked your radar. The answer was a simple one: you never saw him coming.
You’d just stepped off the curb to open the back door of the cab when a suited arm beat you to it.
The rest of your words died off the moment you looked up. He was just there. His arm holding the taxi idle, and keeping you captive between him and its backseat. Besides a coy glint of a challenge inside big doe eyes, you weren’t sure what game he was getting at. There was one thing you knew for certain. Years of intuition telling you the prize he was after was you.
His voice was heady in its demand. The roughness of his words coated your skin in a heavy desire that left your body eager to follow orders. Too bad your legs seemed to turn to jelly by the way he stepped inside your space; his body easily overtaking your orbit. Eclipsing yours until you realized too late you were holding your breath waiting with anticipation for his next move. His dominance was on display in every inch of him. Particularly, in the way he moved. It could've been mistaken for confidence - he certainly wasn’t lacking in the department - but it was more than that. Jungkook commanded the universe to observe him and take awe of being in his presence.
A modern day Narcissus with all the power of Zeus.
Your body wanted to obey. Drunk you, however, wanted to be difficult. The stubborn side of you flared to the surface and made its own demand. “I didn’t realize we were sharing,” you replied, your words purred from your lips.
His response came in the form of actions. His hand that had held open the taxi’s door was now holding onto your arm and ushering you inside the cab. The hard length of his frame followed closely behind you to make sure you were getting in. If you turned to get out of the way you would just run smack into his chest.
“Hey! What the hell are you doing?!”
You moved your body across the backseat until you were on the opposite side. Your back pressed firmly against the door. You turned to face him, watching as his frame followed in behind you and closed the door all in one smooth motion. His hand came down to pat a few times on the drivers chair as he directed him to an address that was definitely not yours.
A small part of you wanted to blurt out that you were a detective. See if it was enough to make his bravado wilt and followed up with messy attempts at an apology. The other part of you, one you later blamed on being drunk, just wanted to see what the rest of the night held in store. The hold Jungkook had previously had on your arm was now gone, but the heat from his touch remained.
The taxi lurched forward. It’s pace quickly sped up while the driver became comfortable with the information given from his gps. The middle-aged man gave you both a brief glance from his rear-view mirror. His thoughts deciding already the two of you were nothing but strangers heading home for a midnight fuck. He wasn’t far off, except-
You weren’t sure what you expected when you glanced back at the man beside you. A hundred possibilities with a hundred different ways to address them flew through your mind. Every single one of them dying before they were ever born on your lips when you found deep honeyed eyes seeing - not looking - in your direction.
“It’s a bit cocky to assume I want to go home with you.”
Your voice didn’t betray that your heart leapt into your throat. Your pulse sparks pure lightning through your veins, struggling, to keep a trepid tongue from running over your lips. His eyes flashed with a wickedness that was matched only by his smile. A curl of lips that you desperately wanted to feel pressed between your folds.
“You asked if I was on the menu, remember?”
“Asking if someone is included with a drink doesn’t automatically mean, ‘fuck me.’”
The drivers’ eyes peeled back up to glance in the rear view. It was subtle, but there.
Your harsh choice of words earned you a quirked eyebrow. His piercing glinted briefly by passing streetlights making him look ethereal. Sinful. This time your tongue did dart out to wet your lips and his eyes hungrily followed.
“No, it doesn’t. Looking for me while you should be enjoying your friends does come off that way, though.”
Your body went rigid with embarrassment. He’d noticed you as your eyes eagerly searched every face in the crowd. You’d searched, hoping, you’d find him, and yet you never once saw him. You’d even said a tiny prayer to the universe that maybe you'd run into him on the way back to the bar or pressed against his body on the dance floor. All these moments…
But he took notice of your desire and planned to use it to his full advantage.
The demand was back. His voice practically dripped it along your skin. A silken promise to bring you to your knees and keep you there. You were eager to see if his words matched his actions. Without making him have to ask twice, you slide over to him. Your body filling up what little space you’d made until you were a breathe away.
The darkness of his eyes lightened for a moment. His pleasure at you obeying orders sent a spark through him. His hand came up a moment later with his index tracing the edges of your jaw until it cupped right below your chin. He used your obedience to his advantage and tipped your chin up to look up.
His eyes roamed the expanse of your face. A lazy thumb moved along the edge of your lip. The action was simple, and yet your breath was caught in your lungs. Hypnotized and waiting, eagerly, for his next move.
He must have noticed the heat in your eyes. The way you swallowed heavier around words of pleading that left your body wanton and trembling to be touched. A smirk ticked the corners of his mouth as he brought his lips closer to yours. Close enough he could’ve breathed you to him if he wanted. Instead, Jungkook faltered half way. Eyes dancing with mischief as his whispered words of, “Good girl,” painted themselves against your lips.
You bit the side of your cheek. A weak attempt to fight the convulsion to respond like a brat. You wanted to nudge him, something - anything - to make him take back his words. Even though his voice caressed along your skin, making it ache to sin.
His thumb was tracing slowly against your lips. His eyes holding yours hostage; demanding you to meet him with the same intensity. This was how Jungkook chose to watch you unravel at his touch. It would stay like this with every touch of his hands or when his cock was buried deep inside you. He came to life as you unraveled underneath him. Devouring every last hitch in your breathing with a hungry mouth and coaxing hands.
This is how he chose to watch you that night, in the backseat of that cab, as your breath caught in your throat. Your body curving to press closer to him with your thighs parting just enough to give him access. A smirk tilted the corner of his mouth as his head tilted closer to you.
“You’re such a good girl for me.”
Jungkook’s breath caressed the words along your lips just before he claimed your mouth with his. The kiss only meant to silence you as his fingers moved past the thin lace covering your pussy. His fingers pushing past your folds and plunging deep inside you.
Your body responded instantly to his touch. Your body arched to be closer; chest pressed up against him as your hand found a perch at the nape of his neck. You wanted to stay quiet. You were in the backseat of a cab for fucks sake, but Jungkook wasn’t giving you an option for dignity.
His fingers set to work on guiding themselves deeper inside you. Each thrust from his wrist sent a moan panting against his lips. Your hips shamelessly working in time with each thrust from his wrists. The palm of his hand cupped your pussy as he added another finger, stretching you wider for him.
A squelching noise was beginning to fill the small cab. Jungkook’s hand now coated and slick with your juices as you rode the high he was sending you on.
You weren’t like this. You were a detective. A woman who didn’t consider being fingered in the backseat of a cab a good time. Your common sense was raging at you to pull away from his kiss. To pull on his wrist and remove his fingers from between your legs, but the feral part of you told common sense to fuck off.
A secret part of you loved the way he unraveled you in that backseat. His tongue diving between your lips to caress across yours. The kiss at first was nothing but intensity: fierce and no doubt leaving your lips swollen. But as Jungkook continued to bring you close and closer to your orgasm it began to change. His lips still refused to let yours go. Your moans and gasps were forced to be pressed against his mouth as you panted for air. The kiss grew into its own sensual being. No longer was it fast and brutal. His tongue now moved languidly over yours, as if tasting every inch of you he could find.
You no longer cared that the cabbie was probably watching. Well aware that Jungkook’s fingers changed tactics and were now curving up into your g-spot. Your hands were frantically trying to remove his clothes; desperate to get home so you could have him inside you. You didn’t have to pull away from Jungkook’s lips to know he was smiling.
He couldn’t hold you to him any longer when the pleasure spread into your belly and blossomed in a burst of stars. You came for him - moaning prayers of ‘oh fuck,” - and head bumping against the window. You came while Jungkook continued to work your orgasm until your legs quivered uncontrollably. His pupils blown out with lust while he watched you come undone at his touch.
You couldn’t remember getting out of the cab at his apartment. You could only remember once you were inside, bodies were colliding against the wall of the hallway in a frenzy to remove clothes. Something broke on your ascent to the bedroom and you almost tripped trying to take off your heels.
All you did remember was the feeling of Jungkook on top of you. The tip of his cock pressing against your opening before he fully sheathed himself inside you. Your pussy struggling to accommodate his length and the sweet pain of his cock stretching you, working your cunt to take every last inch of him. Jungkook fucked you hard enough you felt him in your crevice. Your body trembling as pain and pleasure meddled together until it was sending you over the brink. Even when you got on top, hips working him with each thrust, Jungkook still took control. His hands on your waist going at the pace he wanted, and it was always too deep - too much - and left you screaming out his name in worship.
When you woke up you weren’t surprised by the massive headache you’d obtained from drinking half the bar. Jungkook silently laying beside you, deep in sleep, had been a huge surprise.You weren’t good at the whole next morning, ‘where do we go from here?’ sort of thing.
You were steeling yourself for the awkward moments when he woke up. For when you would tell him it was a one time thing and no relationship was going to happen. Ever. Of course, it wasn’t what happened at all. The moment Jungkook woke up his, “Good morning,” came in the form of a grunt. His body rolling you over and pushing himself inside.
You weren’t sure how a relationship happened. At first, you pretended it was strictly for the sex. A way to blow off steam from long work hours and the horrors of finding the Devils’ leftovers. But somehow his staying over only until morning turned into staying for breakfast. It traveled from breakfast in the house to breakfast at diners and dinners at restaurants. Eventually, Jungkook stopped leaving all together from your apartment, because it was now one you shared.
There were times you tried to deny that you could afford to fall in love, especially with him. While you were sure over the course of months you’d told him small and big things about yourself, Jungkook remained a mystery. The moments when he told you about his day or himself were rare and raw. As if he were afraid to come apart at the seams of the man he’d built only to be seen as weak.
Glancing over at Jungkook’s empty side of the bed, you tried to keep the dread from growing. You tried to shove it down as you climbed inside the elevator, your fingers pressing for the lobby. Jungkook never told you exactly what he did for a living. You just knew it kept him up at odd hours and sometimes - rarely - he would be kept out at night.
You weren’t going to allow yourself to be consumed with worry that he wasn’t home. Your Chief called with big news and with any luck, it was one of your leads that led to this arrest. All the worry that began to brew inside you quickly dissipated and excitement took its place.
Two years. Two long - nightmarish - years and finally you had something tangible. You had one of the bastards who helped terrorize this city and every resident inside it. The thought you could finally get some reasoning for the carnage Namjoon and his men had caused made you practically giddy.
The drive down to the station was done in a daze. You were positive no red lights were run, but you couldn’t say with certainty you didn’t speed. You dashed up to the back door of the precinct and squeezed past an officer who was on his way out.
He mumbled a hello, but you couldn’t respond. Your mind was focused on reaching the third floor where the man was being held. Your legs quickly found the staircase and took each one two at a time. Your body jolted forward as you came to the third-floor landing, and you broke into a jog.
The Chief was standing near the end of the corridor. His hands crossed with a Manila folder with everything that the department was able to gather on whoever was inside. When he caught sight of you, he pushed himself off of the wall taking lumbering steps in your direction. A hand already extending out the file for you to grab from him the minute you were within arm's reach.
“Finally. I thought with something like this you would’ve gotten here faster.”
“Hello to you too, Chief,” you snapped back. You weren’t too worried about him. Your attention was on the folder now in your hands. Your thumb running along the edge to help flip it open. “Can you debrief me on what we know for now?”
His large body made it hard to walk side-by-side in the hallway, forcing you to walk a little behind him.
“It’s all there in front of you: read it,” he huffed.
“It’s difficult to walk and read at the same time. Stop being an ass and just tell me.”
“Fine. We caught him in the act so to speak. He’d just finished paying a jeweler who we suspected was helping launder diamonds for Namjoon out of the country. Not sure exactly what happened, but from what we gathered at the scene, whatever's been going on between Namjoon and the jeweler must have been one hell of a disagreement.” The two of you stopped in front of the interrogation room at the very end of the hall. Your body was tingling with the desire to go inside. “When we showed up the jeweler and his works were already dead, and he was leaving with the suitcase through the back door. Surprised the hair out of the newbie when he met him at the door.”
The big man let out a chuckle that sounded more like a cough: throaty and from the chest. Chief was really in a good mood, you noticed.
“You say he, sir. We got a name?”
“Sure, as fuck do: Jeon Jungkook. Namjoon’s enforcer and right-hand man.”
You were vaguely aware that his mouth was still moving. He was talking, making words, and yet you heard none of it. The sickening feeling you felt earlier looking at the empty side of his bed came back. This time you physically had to fight your body from being sick. The urge to release the late dinner you had before bed was creeping dangerously close to the surface.
You were struggling to focus on his frame. Barely able to register the Chief was looking at you with worry. His lips formed words you were sure asking if you were okay but you waved him off. With the file still in your hand, you placed your hands on your hips. The movement forcing your dark trench coat to flare out around you like a cap.
In. Out. Deep breath in. Deep breath out.
He was talking to you still; throwing questions at you on repeat and the only questions you wanted answers too lied within the room to your right. You didn’t give him warning that you were leaving. You just walked up to the interrogation room door, your hand reaching out for the handle.
Whether you were ready for what greeted you on the other side of the door - you weren’t sure. You made a silent prayer to anyone listening for it not to be him on the other side of the door. You would’ve given anything for it to be anyone else. Anything.
With a shaky hand you turned the knob of the door and stepped inside.
Your back was against the headboard of the bed. All the pillows that had been lost to the floor during sex were now back. Each one hugging to your shape as Jungkook tried to invade the pillow cocoon you’d made by resting his head in your lap.
He’d let out another frustrated sigh and you couldn’t keep the smile off your face. Jungkook hated your pillow obsession.
“I swear, I come home only to find another pillow added to the bed.”
“Or, hear me out, you just think you see another one.”
“I’ve actually started counting,” he admitted. His eyes edged up to look up at you through his lashes. Your fingers that’d been playing in his sweaty hair came to a halt. Just so you could do your best to hold his stare - looking as innocent as possible. “Today when I left the house we had ten pillows and now we have eleven. How does that happen?”
You smiled brightly down at him before placing a kiss down on his forehead. You went to move back up when Jungkook stopped you. His body lifting up from your lap to meet you halfway to press his lips to yours. It was a chaste kiss. Chaste compared to how you usually kissed and as brief as it was your body reacted to him instantly.
You’d learned early on in your relationship it didn’t matter if you were having a bad day. If you were angry at the world, him, or frustrated with work. Jungkook was able to combat your sadness with just his presence alone. In moments where he smiled so big it crinkled his nose and the times you’d find him dancing shirtless in the kitchen while making breakfast. Even through the soft moments you shared, Jungkook chose to remain an enigma.
Jungkook released his hold on your lips to fall back into your lap. He turned until a cheek rested on your thigh giving him a good enough view to look out your bedroom window. The dying light of the day painting the window seal in hazy oranges and reds.
“This feels like magic.”
He spoke softly into the soft skin of your thigh. Jungkook brought a lazy hand to your calf and began to lightly move his fingers up and down. Your face became hot and you weren’t sure why you were trying to hide it when he wasn’t even looking. He was too busy, lost in the darkness of his own thoughts to know you were watching him and the way the sunset lit up every inch of his features. You traced the flowers on his sleeve in an attempt to calm the frenzy of your heart.
“What flower is this?”
The minute your words left your lips, you wished you could take them back. Jungkook turned away from the window to briefly glance at his arm. Already knowing exactly what flower you meant.
“It’s my birth flower. A tiger flower.”
“It’s a beautiful flower.”
“It is, but I didn’t get it for that. I got it for its meaning.”
You waited for him to continue. The room swelled with silence as you resumed running your fingers through his hair, but Jungkook’s attention was turned back towards the window.
“What’s it mean?”
He didn’t respond right away. The only way you knew he heard you was the soft tilt of his head. His eyes glancing at you from the side. You weren’t trying to pressure him. You just wanted him to know you were willing to wait and listen.
“It means, ‘Love me.’”
Each word hit you in the chest making you think, for just a moment, your heart was breaking. Jungkook’s voice told you more than he probably meant too.
Your fingers completely stopped their movement through his hair and moved down to take hold of his chin. Gently, you tilted his head up by his chin and waited for his eyes to meet yours before you spoke.
“If it counts for anything, I love you, Jungkook.”
Stepping inside the room you were greeted with the immediate sight of him. He hadn’t turned to look at you yet. His hands held together on the cool steel table. His wrists bound with cuffs that were attached to the metal ring at the edge closest to him.
He was dressed neatly in all black. From his long jacket that sat draped along the back of his chair to the high turtleneck that decorated his torso. In the breakdown of what had been taken in for evidence, you noticed they’d listed black leather gloves that he was currently missing.
You found your bearings and finally took that final step forward. Your feet carrying you around the table to the only chair available inside the room. It was then that Jungkook’s eyes flicked through the slights in his hair and you were finally able to see the light splatter of blood that was speckled across his cheek.
That was when it hit home that this was real. This moment, inside this very room, where your axis was tipping and your world was violently shifting. He didn’t have the decency to look away; to be ashamed.
No. A part of you always knew that the darkness that you assumed haunted Jungkook wasn’t out of sadness. An inkling of something much more sinister lurked underneath his surface, but you overlooked it. Pretended it wasn’t there all because you broke your own rules. You didn’t keep your guard up and if you had, Jungkook had silently removed every wall you’d been able to build.
Jungkook acknowledged your presence with a smirk and all that anguish you felt at his betrayal was instantly replaced with rage.
“There’s my good girl.”
“Don’t call me that.”
You hated the way he used your pet name. You hated it more with the way your body betrayed you with your core aching to be touched. Jungkook usually called you that when he had your legs spread out on your kitchen counter; eating your pussy for breakfast. Or bent over the couch with him buried to the hilt inside you, pounding at a brutal pace, with a belt around your throat and his hand controlling the pressure.
Jungkook’s response at your request was a sickening chuckle. You wanted to vault over the table between you. Grab a hold of him and shake him, scream in his face, demanding why? What was the purpose of all those months? Did he know who you were that night at the bar? Was this nothing but a game to him?
The smug look on his face made you want to go feral. The betrayal and hurt were warring inside your gut fighting for dominance. Each one knocking the air from your lungs like a punch. Jungkook leaned forward placing his elbows on the table and used them to get to the middle. His eyes were wild as he searched your face. No doubt reading the split second it took for you to hide the emotions you felt.
“Why? Do you not want them to know that we’ve been fucking? How I came home to you almost every night after I committed crimes you could never catch me for.”
And there it was. The truth you were dreading.
How many times had he come home to the bed you shared after he murdered someone? After threatening someone’s life or burning down a business? Came home to help you make dinner and he’d just taken laundered money or helped run one of Namjoon’s brothels.
You dropped his folder with a thud on the table. You had to fold your arms across your middle just so you didn’t actually reach over the table and strangle him. He would love that. See you lose control just to prove his point.
“You seem to be focusing on the wrong things, Jungkook. You seem a bit bitter that you got caught.”
The eerie smile dropped off his face as he snarled, “They got lucky.”
“Or you were just cocky,” you shot back. “And that cockiness cost you.”
“I wouldn’t be talking about cock-y anything right now, sweetheart.”
“How about we cut the shit and get straight to it, hmm? You aren’t going anywhere, Jungkook. You’ve been apprehended and you will never, ever, see the light of day again.”
The smug smile returned as his head cocked to the side. Clearly, you were more amusing than anything else to him.
“You’re soooo angry that I was under your nose this whole time. You had suspicions, but you chose to ignore them.”
You tried to swallow past your heart that was now clamoring in your throat. The scream that had been building was threatening to break free. You were struggling to remain emotionless. From the look on Jungkook’s face, you were failing miserably. You knew what he was going to say and you didn’t want to hear it. Didn’t want something you’d told him in the moment to be used against you like the fool you felt you were.
“We both know why you ignored them, y/n. It’s because you lo-“
“If you finish that sentence I promise you I’ll punch your teeth down your throat.”
His reply came in the form of a wide toothy grin that lit his entire face up. The idea excited him and made him look psychotically attractive with the dried blood on his cheeks.
“You won’t get the chance even if I did.”
“What are you talking about?” You snapped.
He just answered you with that wicked smile. You were getting tired of the games. Your thoughts working on how to get past all the personal to the real matter at hand. You were considering how to work around it when the alarms in the room began to go off.
The alarm was shrill and pulsing. The sound hammered over and over inside your skull until you were sure it was going to explode. You glanced back at the two-way mirror and then to the door. You expected at any minute for someone to come barreling in to ask about what Jungkook said or to tell you the alarm was a false alarm. You were willing to bet it was until you started hearing shouting further down the hall. The sounds of running feet and jingling keys crept through the door.
You wanted to call and ask what was going on, but you hadn’t grabbed a radio and when the shouting got louder you found yourself back on your feet.
“Did you really think Namjoon and the other Devils’ wouldn’t come for me?”
Jungkook spoke to you like he was scolding a child. Your mouth snapped open, ready to retaliate, when the sound of an explosion sounded all around you. The alarms in the building were blaring like crazy. The next explosion sounded in the building and your arms shot up protectively to cover your head and neck.
The sounds of screams were now pounding in your ears. Matching the scrambling boots and shouts to find cover. You dropped your arms down from your head and looked around. Outside was pure chaos, but nothing had touched inside the interrogation room yet. Which only meant one thing.
“They don’t know which room you’re in.”
Your words were soft. Spoken mostly as a verbal thought. The realization of it had you scrambling out of your chair. Your hands digging for the cuff keys Chief had dropped inside your pocket before you entered.
You had resolved to never get this close to him again. You wanted to pretend that being so near would cause your skin to crawl, but it was too soon. Everything is still fresh and open. Jungkook may have betrayed you in more ways than your brain could possibly fathom at this point. But the only thing your body felt, being this close to him, was desire.
“What are you doing?”
Jungkook was staring up at you with amusement. His gaze set on your face and no doubt finding the humor in the way your jaw clenched at having to press this close up against him.
“If they don’t know what room that means I have a chance to take you somewhere else. Somewhere safe.”
“You’re freeing me?” One eyebrow curled up towards his hairline. The amusement was still heavy in his tone, but underneath was he…hopeful?
A snort of laughter was your only reply as you continued to work on the chain that held his cuffs in place.
“No, Jungkook, I'm not freeing you. I’m making sure you end up where you belong.”
“And where is that, exactly?” He snapped.
The amusement had fallen from him and was replaced with the look of someone deadly. Someone you didn’t know. The change was swift and almost had you taking a step back from him. This was the real Jungkook. The enforcer, Chief called him. Looking at him you couldn’t agree with a more fitting title for the fierce man that looked up at you.
You weren’t sure how you found the courage to reply or to meet the fury in his eyes. The second your words registered you watched a spark ignite in his eyes and a snarl bare his teeth. This time your body did give a jolt in surprise. You went to move back from him, but Jungkook’s hands were on your arms gripping you right. Refusing to let go.
“No. I belong with you and you belong with me.”
You were shaking your head struggling to free yourself from having to hear him. His words cut deep and dug into your soul. How stupid of him to not realize it didn’t matter how you felt. How he felt. You knew who he was now and nothing could change that. Nothing should be able to change that.
“No,” you gasped.
You didn’t know when you started crying. All you knew was that your eyes were stinging with unshed tears. As much as you fought to hold them in, you knew it was just a matter of time before you lost.
“Yes! You know it as much as I do. All these months we’ve been together. Deep down, in your gut, you knew all along who I was.”
“That’s impossible! I’m not fuckin psychic!”
“No. You’re a detective and a good one at that. You’re not dumb, y/n.” You were shaking your head vigorously like it would be enough to drown out every word he spoke. The grip on your arms felt constricting and yet, you didn’t pull away. “We belong together. You know it.”
The rage at his words, or yourself for allowing him to talk and for you to listen, was building up. You were going to scream. It felt like you were going to open your mouth to do so when another explosion went off.
This one was closer than the others. Close enough that it shattered the glass off the two-way mirror and sent it flying like shrapnel into the room. You were still stunned by the explosion, your body stuck in shock, but Jungkook was already moving.
A hand reached out to grab the edge of the interrogation table. He flipped it over with ease and grabbed you just as another explosion sounded. He didn’t grab you quick enough. You didn’t have to touch your head right away to know it was bleeding. You’d felt the debris of something - a chunk of concrete, plywood, or glass - hit the backside of your head. Your vision was now doubled and cloudy. The words being said around you sounded like they were speaking through cotton balls.
Vaguely, you became aware that there were other men in the room now. All of them dressed in black with decorated hockey masks that sat on top of ski masks. One of them was bending down, bolt cutters in his hands, and made quick work of Jungkook’s cuffs just as Namjoon entered the room.
He walked through the hole the explosion created, framed by billowing smoke and flames. Namjoon appeared completely untouched. Exactly like the Devil himself.
You tried to go for your side arm but someone stopped you. A boot kicking you back that was met with a savage snarl as Jungkook launched himself at your attacker. The darkness around your vision was winning. No matter what you told yourself, you weren’t going to be able to fight passing out. Your eyes fluttered over to the sight of Jungkook. His fist had wrapped his handcuffs around his knuckles and was smashing repeatedly into the mask of the man who’d kicked you.
“That’s enough, Jungkook.” Namjoon’s baritone was rich and deep. It didn’t surprise you that it went with one of the most notorious mob king’s that ever resided in this city. “We need to leave. Now. We’ll talk about your lack of tact when we get home.”
“I’m not leaving without her.”
Namjoon turned to him. His eyes followed as Jungkook threw down the bloodstained cuffs and moved towards you. You wanted to say something - tried to say something - but all that came out was mumble words and a whimper.
“You know you can’t bring her, Jungkook.”
“I’ll say this one more time, Joon. I’m not leaving here. Not without her.”
Irritation rippled across Namjoon’s features and his jaw clenched tight. You could tell he was thinking with his eyes roaming down to look you over. Finally noticing the state that you were in. His tongue rolled around in his cheek before he looked back at Jungkook. His frustration only made his forehead crease further.
“Fuck it. Hurry up and grab her.”
Jungkook didn’t even wait for Namjoon to finish his sentence. He pushed the tossed over table farther away making it easier for him to move down and scoop you up into his arms. The sudden movement caused your world to spin and it wouldn’t stop. Squinting your eyes you nestled your forehead against his shoulder trying to make your head stop spinning. It wasn’t working.
A whimper escaped you as Jungkook started moving forward. The crumbling department was only something you were able to imagine as you refused to look. No matter how hard you shut your eyes, however, it wouldn’t stop the sounds of men yelling for backup and others in pain. The pops of bullets leaving the chambers and the clamoring of feet to escape.
“I’ve got you, my love,” Jungkook hummed against your cheek. “I’ve always got you.”
If you were stronger you would’ve clamored out of his arms and moved away. You would spit curses at him and inform him that he was delusional. You would never be his any longer, but before the blackness overtook you a tiny voice reminded you that you were a liar.
You would always be his.
“enemies to lovers” this and “friends to lovers” that bitch where is my childhood rivals to attempted friendship to enemies to enemies with a forced alliance to grudging mutual respect to growing affection to friends to friends with benefits with mutual pining to lovers
The Love Hypothesis Masterlist
Y/N is a third year grad student who kisses the first man she sees in order to cover up a lie. What happens when she finds out that the man she kisses is none other than the legendary Dr. Spencer Reid? Will Dr. Reid play along?
Link to join taglist!
*loosely based off of the novel The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood, I have NO INTENTION of copying/reproducing their work, simply drawing inspiration from the storyline*
“Our relationship can’t really be defined in such a clear-cut way. We’re not quite friends, not quite rivals, not quite enemies.” Hero breathes a laugh, “there’s quite a lot of not quite’s when it comes to us.”
“What Hero means to say is we’re the physical embodiment of the enemies-to-lovers trope.”
Hero’s head snaps up at that, “wha-“
“Don’t worry,” Villain leans in to whisper in Reporter’s ear, “we’re still in the mutual pining stage.”
Fandom: The Great Wall
Pairing: Pero Tovar x f!reader
Warnings: Pining, yearning. Being trapped in a burning place. A kiss. Soft allusions to sex, nothing graphic or lingering. Lots of historical wallowing. Gooey romance.
Summary: A lady of very minor nobility and a hired mercenary. A mutual affection, but an impossible dream.
A/N: As a part of my 900 follower celebration, I asked for suggestions / had folks vote on a character, tropes, and prompts. Although only one boy was chosen, I decided to take many of the top votes and try to make a thing that uses several of them. The story itself doesn’t center around any of them specifically, but they are incorporated in varying degrees.
Tropes: One-bed, mutual pining, huddling for warmth, and love confession, with sprinklings of aroused by his voice and I threw in some hurt/comfort for good measure.
“Why would I fall for someone else?” adapted slightly to “why would I want this with anyone else?”
“Just say the word.”
“Come back to bed, please.”
“I’ll wait for you.”
Thanks for your patience, friends. I hope you enjoy.
Pero Tovar rides his horse easily, relaxed, his dark maile and clothes cutting a sharp figure against the cloudless, sunny day, his dark eyes finding an easy balance between thought and vigilance as he intermittently scans the treeline--cut to Roman standards several measurements out from the road to deprive bandits of a place to hide. There must be a garrison of twenty swordsmen riding along with the entourage, but he keeps tight to the right side of the topped wagon that carries you and your cousin, and just ahead where you can lean your face against the front opening and see him there, watch his hands ease at the reins from time to time, a light breeze tousling his curls. Sometimes he glances back over his shoulder at the wagon. Sometimes his scarred eye finds you watching. Sometimes it causes a little tug at the corner of his mouth before turning back to his job.
The first time you encountered Pero Tovar was in your lord uncle’s hen-yard, where you’d gone to escape for a quiet moment. The civil skirmishes were finally over--the battle outside the fortress walls raging day and night finally coming to an end to allow you to sleep--your baron uncle retaining his lands and protecting its tenant farmers thanks to armies lent from friendly nobles and to wisely-chosen mercenary troops.
Some of these sellswords were paid handsomely to stay on as padding for the security regimen following the victory, just in case there were any lingering uprisings or assassination attempts. But it had mainly been quiet since. You’d been cooped up behind stone walls too long.
And you’d missed being able to be out under the sky.
That was where he found you, on his lazy rounds, and he leaned against the archway into the hen-yard to watch as you crouched and spread feed for the birds, speaking saucily and out of turn to the niece of the baron and daughter to a baronet. His accented baritone, as you’d remember it later, spiraling slowly into your flesh and making its home there.
“Have all the maids run away that a fine lady must feed the chickens?”
You’d thought to ignore him at first. It wasn’t proper for you to speak to a guard. But your uncle was a good man and folks of all ranks were welcome inside his walls. He did not worry about you or your honor, you’d been living there long enough to show him your judgement was sound. And if he allowed this mercenary to prowl the grounds where his own daughter sometimes walked, then he was a man who could be trusted.
“It’s been a fearsome time around here lately and I find them soothing. I like the sounds they make.”
“Not so fearsome anymore, lady.” Without the obvious geniality in his tone, you might find the statement fascinatingly dangerous.
“No, thanks to you and your compatriots. And you shouldn’t call me that. I don’t hold that title.”
“You are the daughter’s companion? The cousin who is like her sister?”
You spun to give him a more thorough look and let him know he was toeing the line of impertinence. “Who told you that?”
He smirked. Shrugged. “It is a small place. People talk. It is good for a guard to know who lives in the house he watches.”
“Hmm. And what else have you heard?”
He pointed his chin at the chickens. “That you do not mind dirty things.”
It was an odd statement and hung in the air between you. But before you could take it the wrong way, he tsked and cursed himself, realizing he chose the wrong words, and a forgiving laugh bubbled out of your chest. “You mean I grew up in lower circumstances. Yes.” Shaking out your apron of feed and grit, you stood to greet him with a forgiving smile. “You mean I like chickens. Yes. I love them. I understand you, southerner.”
He had blushed deeply and smiled at that. Just enough to show the possibility of dimples under his patchy beard, thankful for the generosity you’d given him in not dangerously misinterpreting his words. That’s when he cut his losses, decided not to continue playing with fire, nodded, and left you to the hens.
But it wasn’t that he was playing with fire.
It was that he had started one.
After that, you’d seen him around the fortress, skulking, intimidating, dark eyes quick to catch movement, never shirking his postings, sizing up anyone who traveled in or out of the gate.
Sometimes he might catch you watching. If you acknowledged it and gave him a nod, you always received one in return. And if you chose not to nod...you still were granted one out of respect.
The maids had a little knowledge about him. That he was surly and rough, that he swore in a language they didn’t understand and bared his teeth at any underling guard that he found slacking at the job. This wasn’t for loyalty to your uncle as much as wanting to make sure the fortress remained unpenetrated so he might get paid. They said he ate like a starving dog and snapped like one too should anyone threaten to clear the table before he was finished eating. But they also said that he had taken down as many soldiers on the field as the next ten best men, and this was the reason he was being paid top price to head the house’s defense.
Some days you haunted the hen-yard, waiting to see if he would come to growl at you. And some days he tucked his head in to ask a question about the birds or warn you to get inside because a storm was rolling in. He did not scowl at you or show his teeth. He smirked and spoke low, the filigree of his southern voice vining into your ears and down through to more vulnerable organs, keeping your embers permanently fed and stoked. And you in turn were honorable to your house, did not encourage but only showed kindness. They were never long encounters, but they thrilled you all the same, kept you in heat and light as the autumn wore on.
And so it went for a month or more.
Some days you did your best to avoid him, afraid to allow yourself to attach too much familiarity, too much growing affection to a man you didn’t know and who was made to fight and kill. He fascinated you, gave you a little forbidden infatuation, but he was beneath your station and he may be done with his service at any time, moving on to more lucrative wars.
It wasn’t your fault that you were lonely.
As the eighth daughter of a baronet, you had little hopes of marriage--too far down on the rung to attract a suitor of your station, too high-born to be allowed to marry just anyone you chose. And now the days were far enough behind you when you would have been found to be a valuable asset in a marriage alliance, not enough left over for a sizable dowry, not young enough to fetch a bride price. Your best bet for a comfortable and happy life was to live here with your uncle and be the companion for his daughter, much younger than you, but like a little sister in so many ways.
But eventually, she would be betrothed and taken away and you would...well. You tried not to think too hard about that.
Until today. Today you sit in a covered carriage, jumbled and shaken as it rolls slowly along rough roads, some of them cobbled by the Romans in their occupation, some of them hard packed dirt full of tracks that the wheels jump in and out of without warning.
Your young cousin’s head rests in your lap as you try to comfort her--because the road is rough, because her fate has come calling at last, because these are the last days you will spend with her after years of being nearly inseparable.
Yours was a good arrangement for both families. She was the only daughter of your uncle’s family and in want of companionship and in need of an upper class woman to teach her things that it was difficult to come by in this far-flung landgrab. And you would have a higher life here and a purpose, you would be treated as a daughter and not have to answer to any men save your uncle.
That was ten years ago, and now the inevitable was coming to pass. In exchange for protection and the use of armies from a neighboring Lord, your little cousin was being married off into that clan. As was the custom, upon betrothal, she belonged to them. She would live in their house and be taught their ways by the people there before finally marrying the heir in a year or more.
It’s a wedding you will not get to see. After she is installed in her new home, you will most likely be sent back to live with your parents or an older married sister, even if they are strangers now. Your purpose is done, your fate is now to be something of a companionate burden to your family. Not an uncommon story for women like you.
Your fingers run through her hair and your words weave encouragement through her ears. But your eyes...your eyes follow Pero Tovar on his horse.
He will guard your wagon here and back again and then, most likely, he too will be gone from your uncle’s house, off to win more battles or run from them, off to earn his coin from whomever will pay for his sword. He will lay with women in sweaty brothels and he will kill men for their purses if they insult him in the street and he will take assignments to assassinate and steal. He belongs in a circle you will never set foot into. He is not for you. He is not a man that you should be watching.
And you are not a woman that he should be glancing at too often, or looking a moment too long at. You are not a woman who should be making his brow soften like that when he does.
The first night on the road finds you in a baronet’s house and you cannot sleep. Your cousin breathes deeply in the bed beside you, bone-weary from the road’s jostle and slam, but still young enough not to let worry keep her from dreams.
The sound of men’s hushed voices creep in at the window and you rise, pulling a shawl around your shoulders to look down at the yard below.
He’s there, his maile winking in the moonlight, taking over the watch, sending the sitting guard off to sleep. Your open shutter, your white shift and light-colored shawl catch his eye and he looks up, regards you for a moment, nods and turns his back, putting himself on duty.
The house is quiet and dark as you move down the steep stair ladder and out the door after throwing on your slippers and cloak, letting the near-full moon light your way.
As if he expected you to come, he doesn’t say anything when you step silently up beside him, pulling your cloak around yourself, your breath visible in the chilly night air. He’s simply leaning against the lantern post, and you join him for a long time in watching the trees in the distance as their leaves bob in the breeze, some sailing slowly to the ground. He does not look at you.
“You have come to give me your company, mi sueño? It is cold. You should be keeping your cousin warm.” This is the quietest you have heard his voice. Its rumble prickles your ear, creates a warm well inside you, full of velvet and moss and soft fledgling down. His southern words are unfamiliar to you, but even if you don’t know what they mean, they feel like a beautiful gift. One you have yet to unwrap.
“The cold is coming early this year.”
“Sí. We will be lucky to return before the snow comes.”
You look up to him in dismay. “So soon?”
He simply nods. “But this may be a good thing. It will keep ruffians off the roads. Maybe we will pass without meeting anyone.”
“But we risk getting stuck somewhere.”
His chin pushes up into his bottom lip. He shrugs. “Maybe. Would it be so bad?”
Perhaps he means that he will retain his position longer, have food in his belly for more days or even weeks. But there is a part of you that hopes he wants what you want; just a little more time before you have to say goodbye.
But. Then again. He does not look at you.
“You should go back to bed, mi sueño. The only enemy tonight is the cold. It is something I cannot protect you from and you are standing in it. Go.”
Turning away in the same direction as the twist in your heart, you only stop to ask, “What does that mean? Mee-sway-nyo?”
It is here that you think he may glance back at you, his head rotating just a notch in your direction before halting and turning back.
“It is just nonsense. An impossible thing. Go before you put yourself in danger, lady.”
It takes ages to fall back to sleep. And you feel as if you may never be warm again.
The second day on the road there is an attack, a band of men on horseback with swords, remnants of the skirmishes, angry with the outcome, possibly targeting your uncle on his horse ahead. The wagon is brought to a halt and you pull the front shutter closed, throw your arms around your cousin and huddle among the blankets and furs under you.
It is over before you can lead her through two rounds of the Lord’s Prayer, and the wagon lurches along again as if it had all been a nightmare easily washed away by the dawn. When you open the shutter to ask the reinsman who had attacked and how many men were lost, he tells you they were bandits only, short work, only six men felled, and all on the opposing side.
But as he tells you this, you find that Pero Tovar has fallen back to his usual place just beside and ahead of the carriage, his broadsword over his lap as he rubs it down with a linen rag. The linen, once white, is now stained red.
Your cousin weeps out her fear, still affected, and you soothe her, singing to her softly, some ballad she loves about flowers in a green field.
This second and final night on the road--this time at the house of an abbot--the night is colder and you stay in bed where it is warm and where it is safe since you’re still a little shaken by the earlier events of the day. You do not see Pero Tovar at his watch but assume he’s there, and as you drift off to sleep, you go easily, comforted by a velvet baritone humming a tune outside the house. There are no words, but you know the ballad well, having sung it so very recently….
Arriving at the fortress is a joyous affair. Your charge is swept up by the lady of the realm, welcomed and swirled away by half a dozen other ladies to be bathed and beautified in preparation of meeting her future husband. You follow behind, not ready to let her out of your sight, waving to your uncle that you will report back to him later.
The Lord’s castle is bigger than your uncle’s, full of richer and more handsome things. The chairs all seem like thrones with their beautiful scrollwork and cushioning, their beds are on high frames with headboards. The bathtub your cousin is bathed in could fit two people, it’s so large, nothing like the round little tubs you’re used to, where you must keep your knees pulled up to your chin. The place makes your uncle’s house feel like the manor of minor country nobility that it is.
Your wonder is reflected on your cousin’s face. She has made a good match. She will live well here. And if she and her husband like each other even a little, her life will be good. If they do not? At least she will have pretty things and a full belly and a home full of ladies for company.
It pings your heart like an altar bell that from this moment on... you are no longer needed.
As she is bathed and dressed and autumn thistles are woven into her hair, you stand quietly to the side and nod encouragement whenever she glances your way. It is important that she moves forward with confidence. She will be the lady of this realm some day and the sooner she knows without doubt it is her place, the easier she will drive it.
The feast that night is a beautiful affair, hall tables laid with piles of venison and apples, rich, grainy breads and wine with spices, dozens of candles glinting off of silver and gold adornments of the many guests, the luthier skillfully adding lively accompaniment to the room.
The Lord’s heir is the best kind of men--neither too serious or too merry, one who is wise enough to listen as much as he talks. And when your cousin is presented to him, he smiles kindly and asks her to sit beside him at the head table, turning his attention to her and engaging her conversation. She in turn relaxes as the evening goes on, feeling herself fall into place beside him.
Thank God in his Heavens. The match will be good.
This is why you seek the quiet of the courtyard to cry. It wouldn’t do to show anything but happiness in the banquet hall and you’ll want to spend what little time you have left with your oldest friend in happiness and well wishes. Get it out now, hide your selfish heart in the dark corner of the cold night.
“What will you do now, lady?’
A shadow looms under the same arch you’re hiding in. It’s far enough from the torches at the gate and stair that you can only make out the sharp nose and chin, but even so, the bronze glow of his voice and the wide plains of his shoulders give him away, and in a strange kind of poetry, somehow a killer is exactly what is needed to stop your tears.
It takes a long time to answer. He waits.
“I don’t know. I suppose I will be sent back to my father’s house. Or one of my sisters will take me.”
“Back to your chickens, then.”
From anyone else, this might seem like a slight, like a reminder that you have had a high life and will be knocked back into your rightful place. But from Pero Tovar, you know it means that if the worst happens, at least there will be one thing for you to be thankful about.
Your laugh is wet, dragged through your recent tears. “I hope so.”
“Mmm. Is this your only hope?”
Here in the darkness he asks you this. A quiet question. One that reaches in deep. Other men might take a different advantage in the dark like this, might want to see parts of you that should remain hidden. Pero Tovar asks to see inside your heart.
“What do you mean?”
A long inhale, a gathering of thoughts. “What would you want waiting for you, hm? If you could not live a life in your uncle’s house? You dream of nothing but chickens? Or maybe somewhere with flowers and streams?”
“I guess I hadn’t thought too much about it. My father’s land has sheep. They’re gentle animals. I know how to card and loom and weave. Their milk makes beautiful cheeses.”
“They smell like shit.”
You scoff at his vulgarity. “They smell like sheep.”
He grunts and crosses his arms, settling back into the arch. “What else.”
Thank God for the darkness that hides the smile of your bold appreciation as he seeks to distract you from your sorrow and help you find some things to be thankful for.
“I suppose I’ll have to help with the vegetable gardens…”
“You like this?” Incredulous.
“I did once. I suppose I will again.”
“The fine lady does not mind working with her hands.”
A loud swell of laughter rolls out from the windows of the banquet hall.
“No, I suppose I don’t.”
And so you tell him about your father’s estate, how it is simple but quiet, that you remember the sounds of birds and a little brook. His tenant farmers were lazy and willful, but this is the case across many lands, although it caused him to lose revenue in taxes and forced the family to work the land and raise their own food when they could. Pero steers you back to the positive and hums in contentment when you remember fishing in the stream in the summer and sleeping on a straw mattress by the fire in the winter. Your father’s house isn’t much bigger than those of his peasant tenants, but it was still comfortable and clean and pleasant.
With a dull pang you realize that you are talking to a man that will have to sleep in cold barracks and go long periods between meals much of his life. That if you do go back to your father you will have all the milk and cheese you desire while he may live on root stews and stale bread for years on end.
And yet, he doesn’t make you feel guilty for this. He asks quietly, sincerely, as if he really wants to know what makes you happy.
And here in the shadows, you don’t have to see his scowling face to know that he’s listening.
There’s raised voices at the gate, two guards taking advantage of the lord’s generosity on this betrothal night have had too much of the spiced wine and seem to be getting into a tussle.
“Come, lady. You need to go back to the hall. I cannot let you sit in the dark. It is not safe.”
Following him through the arch and out into the yard, you gently and mockingly remind him, “Not a lady, my lord.”
He turns, fierce, his features clearer in the light of the torches. “You have been raised like one. You live like one. Even with your chickens and sheep, you are fine and high-born. Title, no title, it does not matter.” Then he turns and bears down with authority at the guards, leaving you to climb the stairs alone, nothing to lean on but your confusion. Something in Pero Tovar is compelled to remind you that you occupy a class higher than himself, that you are a lady to him, even if to nobody else. He means to remind you of your place.
Or maybe, you think, to remember his own.
The weeks spent at the lord’s estate are full of new discovery for your cousin, but are slow for you, as the ladies of the house slowly wean her away from you. There’s quite a lot of property to walk around, the walls of the fortress are all topped with walkways that get you out in the open air, welcome even if the days are shorter and colder now.
At one point you find yourself staring out over the fields at a flock of sheep in the distance, watching the blots of their ivory forms graze lazily against the olive fields and greying skies, their coats thickening for the coming winter. It seems cruel to be going back to your father’s house in the coldest season. You’ve become accustomed to private fireplaces and ample furs. To walls with more fortitude against the wind and a cousin to provide the warmth of a shared bed. If you could arrive in the spring, you could acclimate, you could get outside in the fields and the trees. Winter will be cold. And slow. And lonely.
A clearing of a throat. A simple, “Lady.” You turn to find Pero Tovar at a little distance along the wall, waiting with a nod and then a tilt of the head, gesturing for you to follow.
Has he been sent to fetch you? Does your uncle need to speak with you? Is your cousin alright? You shouldn’t have left her this morning, her bleeding time was aching her. Perhaps you are being called to prepare to leave? It will have to be any day now to beat the snows. A hundred small worries and more parade through your mind as you follow the mercenary to the nearest tower, down the spiral stairs, through the courtyard and a narrow passage to come to a stop at his back when he leads you to…
He’s found the hen-yard.
Confusion, relief, deep internal amusement all war to hold a place in your eyes as you look to him with a silent question.
He only scowls slightly when he says, “It is warmer here, mi sueño. You seemed unhappy up there. Maybe this is better,” before he returns down the passage and back to the watch.
On the final evening before you’re to be parted, your cousin walks with you over the walls of the fortress as the sun kisses the horizon and the clouds ache in pale crimsons and pewters. You speak of memories. She tells you secrets. You make her assure you that she is happy on the road to her new life and all that’s here for her. You steer the conversation away from your own future whenever she wonders and promise her you’re meant to meet again. You almost believe it.
She’s already changed so much in these many weeks, wrapped up in her wolfpelt cloak with her hair piled up upon her head, already becoming the lady of the house in waiting, already so far beyond you, making it not easy but easier to let go.
A snowflake falls onto her beautiful nose and brings you both to quiet as it melts.
You can see the sellsword out of the corner of your eye, walking toward you from the nearby tower, but slowing to a stop a distance away when a tear slips down your cousin’s cheek and you gently take her hand. This moment, this space, he gives you.
“You, my dear, are about to live a life that is worthy of you,” you tell her through your brave smile. “You will always be cared for. You will be loved and cherished and remembered by those who are with you and those who are not.”
Pero Tovar hears this and turns away. He gives your embrace and her tears their privacy.
But when the snowflakes begin to fall not only on noses, but on heads and shoulders, he must breach the moment. “The dark is coming. Your family will murder me if I let you stand outside in the snow.”
Your cousin, already gaining in nobility, thanks him. Thanks him for this reminder, for his service to her father, for helping to deliver her here safely.
And his brow settles heavy as he bows his head to her, accepting this praise. “The honor is mine, lady. May your days be happy. Rest well, dulces sueños.”
She smiles. Charmed. Asks him what the words mean.
“Sweet dreams, my lady.”
Mi sueño. My…dream.
When his sable eyes meet yours–yours that widen in realization–regret comes swiftly. He’s slipped and you’ve uncovered his secret, and his scar digs in as he scowls heavily, turning away to escort you inside.
Once there, he does not look to you again, simply leaves to the stables to help oversee the preparations for tomorrow’s journey.
The cold snap requires all the hearths in the castle to be lit. To stave off the bitter chill. To keep out the coming winter. To mitigate the ache.
But you find that yours is a waste. Even alone in your bed that night, you burn.
The snow didn’t accumulate, but there’s a slick frost over much of the ground, and Pero Tovar keeps his horse to the brush off the side of the roads to give her hooves more purchase. Not that you’d be able to watch him. It’s cold enough now that you keep the wagon’s shutter closed, swaddling yourself under the furs to keep your lone body warm.
That night at the home of the abbot, you huddle in your bed, praying for the snow to come, to keep you here a while longer, anything to waylay a goodbye. But your prayers go unheard.
Or perhaps are misinterpreted.
Snow is not what sways your course.
The attack happens late on the second day, quickly, violently; they must have been informed of your route.
Someone must have killed the reinsman because the horses bray and take off, the wagon swimming and bouncing before you’re thrown toward its ceiling when it tips too far and slams one side to the ground.
You’re too dazed to understand that someone must have shot a flaming arrow at the wagon. You can feel the heat before the top of the carriage begins to warp and redden, fire eating through from the outside. The shutter is unmovable, held closed by its now unsquared frame, and soon the carriage is filled with more smoke than air.
The first time Pero Tovar touches you, it is rough and bruising, as he drags you from the burning wagon and throws you over a wide shoulder. As he rushes between trees and lowers you down, his hand under your head until it reaches the forest floor, leaves you hidden near a fallen log, covered in his cloak. He will return once the attackers are cleared. Overtaken by smoke, you do not have to experience any of this.
As far as you know, the first time Pero Tovar touches you, it is with a hot hand on your cold face, with a calloused thumb skating over your cheekbone, it is an arm cradling your shivering body against his own as he employs the support of that low baritone to persuade you to “open your eyes, the night is coming. I’ll wait for you to come back to me, but you must do this, you must open your eyes.”
The world you return to is cold, but your eyes and throat burn. “Where–?” you manage to croak, but the rest of the question is lost to coughing and the gathering of air.
“That is good enough, lady. You need to stand. Come.”
Still in a haze, somehow you find yourself jostled, lifted, sat atop a horse. You find yourself surrounded by Pero Tovar, your body and head covered as he pulls his cloak around you both, tenting you in to keep you both warm in the fading light and the falling snow.
He rides hard. He braces his arms around you harder. It is a rude coming-around, but the gallop pushes you faster into consciousness than you might have done otherwise.
“Survived, as much as I know,” his words come gritted, forced in puffs by the violent rhythm of the ride. “An ambush. Your uncle was protected by the garrison. I fell back with some to fight, to give them a chance to flee.”
“It’s so cold.”
“The snow is here. I will find us shelter. You must stay awake.” He gives you a rough shake. “If you sleep you may die. And then I will be cold and I will die. You understand, eh? I beg you not to let me die.”
It is his churlish way of motivating you to fight. To try.
“Sing to me, lady.”
You answer him in coughing. “I can’t.”
He shakes you again. “You will. If you must cough, you will cough. But otherwise, you will sing.”
It’s an impossible task, but you understand its purpose. Stay awake. Show to me you are still awake.
The first song is about a miller and the swans on his lake. It comes in gasps and wheezes. The second song is a little easier, this one about an archer who wagers his life for the hand of a lady, but when it is time to shoot the target, he opts to kill a hidden assassin instead, saving his love and sending him to the chopping block. But it takes a while to get through its many verses, and you must be pushed along by your rescuer’s gentle jostling.
By the end, you’re so tired and taking too long to choose the next one that he shakes you again. “The ballad. The flowers in the green field. Sing it.”
You try. You are slightly delirious, still mumbling through the inner verses when the horse comes to a halt, when you feel yourself slid off the saddle and into broad arms, when the snow stops falling on your face and you hear his voice asking for a room, hear coins dropping into hands, feel yourself spilled onto a rough pallet. Only when you no longer feel him against you, do you stop singing.
Movement. Noise. A southern voice growling orders. A coal stand being moved in. Water splashing into a basin. Chainmail dropping to the floor.
And warm hands bringing you around again.
The room is hardly more than a space big enough for the small pallet you lay on. The only heat and light is given off by the coal stand and its glowing embers.
In the dim little room, Pero Tovar urges you to sit up. Helps to gently wash the soot and dirt from your face and hands. You look down at your dress to find that a large panel on the side is gone, burned away. “Forgive me, lady,” he speaks as gentle fingers fold back the edges and ghost over your thigh, skimming down the outside of your bare leg to the top of your stocking. If the first time he touched you was to rouse you lovingly out of danger, then this will forever be the second time he touches you, in a way the world would not forgive if you had not just been pulled from death, but promises no threat other than the greatest, most tender care. “Does this hurt?”
The skin is sore, but not broken or painful. You shake your head, but the heat trapped within tells him enough and he wets a cloth, pressing it to the skin that must be red and rashed from proximity to the flames, instructing you to hold it there. As he continues to clean your face, moving to your neck, you reach up to make the job easier, to pull the hair aside…and find that much of it is gone.
This stops you. And then him. Your hand shakes with the examination of what the fire has stolen from you. After everything that has happened today, this is what brings you to tears.
It starts as a series of shuttered gasps but soon bleeds into a pitiful keen, leaking out into the dark room, soaked up quickly by a broad shoulder as arms pull you in. A hand cradles your head, urging you to gather your tears in his shirt, to feed your cries into the meat of his chest as his voice rumbles back out through it to tell you that this is nothing. You are alive and unharmed and this is what is important. As a man with a scar, he tells you this. That you are perfect.
Nothing is as it was a day ago.
A day ago it would have been scandalous to be weeping in the dark pressed against the sellsword. To be held while you mourn. To allow him to touch you and care for you. To be quiet behind closed doors with him.
A day ago it would have been ruinous. But tonight it is the greatest comfort Heaven could provide. Terrible circumstances have brought you here, and yet, this is the easiest place to be.
The maids once said that Pero Tovar was not a patient man, that he growls and pounds his fist and demands things quickly. But now he waits for you to stop shaking–from tears, from cold, from fear. He gives you his shoulder and heat and protection until you find calm.
As soon as the tears are spent, a wave of fatigue and heaviness rushes in. “My God. My God, I’m so tired.”
Taking your weight and cradling you backward, he settles you more fully onto the pallet, smoothing a rough hand over your forehead, pulling away strands of your burned and tear-soaked hair. “You are safe here. Now you can sleep.” He moves the coal stand closer to you, pulls the basin out of your way. Finding himself a patch of wall, he sits and props himself against it in the dark. “I will be here. Sleep. Tomorrow we will ride fast. Maybe we can catch up to your uncle’s party.”
You are about to tell him he doesn’t have to keep watch here, that he can go to his own bed. But a realization slips over you. The small room. The thin pallet. The bad weather. This is most likely all that was available here, the last room kept for the most desperate, all others snapped up by wayfarers seeking shelter from the snow, the only bed and he is letting you have it.
He is not keeping watch. He is protecting virtue.
But nothing is as it was a day ago.
And a day from now, all may be back to how it was. This night is a time out of time.
“Pero Tovar,” you whisper.
A questioning grunt comes out of the darkness.
“Come back to bed, please.”
It’s impossible to tell his expression, only that he is still, so still. Perhaps he has stopped breathing.
“Lady. Command anything else. This I cannot do.”
It is hard to place your hands on this feeling. You have already wept and have no more tears. It isn’t disappointment or sadness, not guilt, not frustration. In this context you can only guess that it is hope. Not the bright light that hope usually brings, but the feeling it leaves as it fades, as if it has been standing behind you all this time and you turned too late to see it go, too late to ask it to stay and bask in its glow.
“Anything, mi– lady.”
Another choice then. “Tell me. Tell me why you have called me your ‘dream’.”
Another stillness, this one with a pained sigh. “Please. Not this. Anything else.”
He has been kind to you. Saved your life. There’s no need to torture him.
It is plain that he loves you.
It is plain that you love him.
That must be enough, and you roll over to leave him in peace.
Silence, nothing but the sound of the icy snow hitting the shutters.
A slow inhale of breath. A frustrated growl as his selfish side wins a battle, as he gives into the part of him that wants for your happiness. Soon enough he is sliding into bed beside you, pulling your face into his neck and your arm over his side, crushing you into himself with no other intent than keeping you warm.
Somewhere, in the middle of a snowstorm, in a poor little room lit by the glow of warm embers, Pero Tovar holds you. He holds you as you have secretly wished so many times to be held by him.
And it is with this surrender, that he makes his confession.
“A dream,” he breathes into your hair, taking his time, putting words to secrets he has barely been hiding, “is a pretty thing I cannot keep. It is someone who I cannot stop watching. It is a way to put down a sword and walk away from fighting. It is to come home to a wife who likes to keep chickens and sheep, who likes to pull up growing things from the ground and fish from the stream. It is a bed filled with a soft woman who is filled with me.”
This. This is his heart. And you are in it.
To be lusted after, to be loved, that had been the depth of your expectations.
But to be wanted? To be kept? To fill his days and years with you?
You had no idea how rich his dream had been, how sweet.
You try to keep your voice even, squeeze your eyes shut and hold the reins on your wild heart. “This isn’t impossible. If you want that life....you could have it.”
The pain rolls out of him in a pitiful whimper. “Yes, this life, it is not hard to choose. But before you, how did I know? I only liked to see you. To dream of you as my own. It was harmless. Until the fucking chickens. Then I could imagine you this new way, not in a castle, but in a life I could make for you. Now the dream is harmful. The life is easy. But why would I want this with anyone else? No. You. That is the dream. An impossible thing.”
“Pero Tovar,” you whisper, “you're not listening. You could have it. If you truly want me, you could have it.”
“Lady. The laws. Your birthright–”
Your hands find their way to his jaw, holding his attention, begging him to truly hear you.
“There was a lady you knew, the daughter of a baronet, who died tragically. Her party was attacked and her wagon set on fire and she burned to ash within it.” His breath stops. His spine rigid. His fingers clenching just slightly at your back. The snow pelts harder outside, your heartbeat harder within. “And there was a mercenary I knew, a great man who stayed back and sacrificed himself to let his lord escape, who was outnumbered and overrun and he fought bravely and well, but his body was never found.” Suddenly his breath returns, fast and hard and full of hitches, his fingers gripping so hard they will bruise, and you let him pull you closer still, as if there is any space left between you. “And there is probably a little town leagues and leagues from here and a happy couple with a sword rusting above their door and she spins wool and he hunts and traps or perhaps works a mill or is a blacksmith’s journeyman–”
“--you could have it. You could. I could have it too, just say the word, just–”
But your mouth is silenced with his. This is… Perhaps you consider it the third time Pero Tovar touches you.
And this time he does not stop.
When he catches his breath again it is almost morning, and light is starting to filter in through the shutters. You have had no sleep, but you have nowhere to be, nothing to return to, nothing to do today but sleep and wake and stay tucked in, in more ways than one, over and over. It is here in this bed that your life has begun, thanks to bandits and chickens and the freezing snow.
Pero Tovar whispers promises and pretty threats, he handles you preciously, a prize hard-won and therefore treasured. Quiet oaths are shared, heard only by you and him and Heaven above. He asks you to pick a direction and tomorrow you will ride.
South. You choose south. Wonderful things come from the south.
“You, my dear, are about to live a life that is worthy of you,” he echoes your own words as he pulls the blankets around your glowing and bedded body, breathing something that is both a vow to his new wife and an elegy to the high-born woman who is no more. “You will always be cared for. You will be loved and cherished and remembered by those who are with you and those who are not.”
It’s not unusual for your husband to be gone a couple days at a time while he follows a herd of deer or checks his traps along the river. There’s a broadsword hanging above the door, although you’re much handier with the lighter saber, your footwork impeccable, taught by a master swordsman himself. So it’s not so much that you’re nervous being alone but that you miss the company on these days.
The chickens are good for conversation though, their gentle clucks and coos given freely as you scatter feed, they lean into your hand when you press pets into their backs. If you sit down with them, one will eventually clamber up into your skirts, wiggle her butt and settle in, making herself into a pool of feathers in your lap.
“You are the mercenary’s wife? The runaway lady who gave up her title for chickens?”
You crane your head back to give him a more thorough look and let him know he is toeing the line of impertinence. “Who told you that?”
He smirks. Shrugs. “It is good for a hunter to know who lives in the house he keeps.”
“Hmm. And what else have you heard?”
He points his chin at the hens. “That you do not mind dirty things.”
Gently nudging the bird in your lap to get her up and bouncing away, you rise to greet your husband come home, needing a bath after a night in the woods. “If you’re speaking of the chickens, yes, I love them.” Laying a slow kiss upon his bearded face, just below the guiding point of his scar, you take in the hum of his satisfaction, let your lips ride the swell of his smiling cheek. “But I understand you, southerner. And no, I do not mind dirty things. They often house the sweetest dreams. Come inside and I will show you how much I do not mind.”
so, we know that bucky has fairy's name tattooed and that fairy wanted to do the same, but did she actually do it?
Content Warning: Mob!Bucky x Best Friend!Reader, mature themes, fluff, sexual language, slight angst.
"This is nice," You breathe out with a content smile on your face.
Bucky's fingers continue rubbing your scalp as you rest against his chest, gently bobbing around in the pool on your big flamingo floatie. "We should do this more often," He mumbles, leaning down to press a kiss to your shoulder.
"But work," You groan, shaking your head. "Can't we just quit our jobs and live in your vacation home forever?"
"Financially? Sure," Bucky answers you with a shrug. "But my job isn't exactly the kind you can quit. And you worked too damn hard and racked up too much debt at law school to turn your back on it, now."
"Debt that you cleared before I even graduated," You grumble. "Still mad at you for that, by the way."
"Well, you can take it out on me tonight, over drinks at that fancy sky bar you like," He tells you. "The one with the live band."
"Ooh, yes please!" You exclaim, craning your neck back to look up at him. "Are we allowed to get drunk, or are we still flying home tomorrow?"
"We can stay another day," He says, moving his hands down from your hair to your shoulders which he gently rubs. "I'll talk to Stark for you."
"No, I'll call him," You say sternly. "I don't need you being rude to him."
"Rude?" Bucky repeats with a scoff as the floatie hits the edge of the pool. "I'm not rude. I'm firm."
"You're overly macho, and it irritates him," You tell him while he gets out of the pool and stands on the edge. Lifting up your arms, you wait for him to pick you up and place you on the ground before the two of you walk over to the sun loungers.
"I'm the perfect amount of macho," Bucky claims as you both sit down. "He needs to know he can't mess you around. That you have me looking out for you."
"Trust me, James, he knows," You grumble.
Looking down at the table between you, Bucky pouts and reaches out his hand. "C'mere, fairy. You're too far away."
You get up and walk over to his lounger, where he pulls you onto his lap. Your legs are on either side of his as you sit on his lower stomach. He picks up a black, felt-tip pen from the table before biting off the lid and pulling your body down, until you're lying down next to him.
"What're you doing?" You mumble, trying to look down at your collarbone on which he's writing. "Jamie, that's permanent marker!"
"Relax, fairy," He whispers soothingly as he concentrates. "It'll come off."
You huff, but let him continue. It doesn't take him long to finish his masterpiece, but you can't look down far enough to even see what it says. "What did you write?" You ask him, trying to see it but failing terribly.
With a smirk, he takes his phone out and snaps a picture before showing it to you. There, on your collarbone, are his initials; J.B.B, with a tiny heart at the end. He points at his tattoo of your name and winks. "Now, we match."
The smile on your face is wide and unkillable, as you feel your stomach flip. "Cute."
"You're cute," He says while lightly flicking your nose, before patting your thigh. "Alright; you should go get ready. Xaviére's gonna be here any minute to take you out."
"Oh, shit!" You exclaim, jumping to your feet. "She's gonna kill me if I make her late to our nail appointment. I'll see you later?"
"Meet me at the bar," Bucky tells you, standing up. "Our reservation is for 8."
"I'll be there," You promise, leaning up to kiss his cheek as you buzz with excitement. "What color nails do you want me to get?"
Tilting his head, he contemplates it while wrapping his arms around you. "Blue. Get that swirly, pretty shit."
Laughing softly, you nod. "Sounds good. I'll see you later, bubba."
"Stay with Xavi, and don't talk to strangers," He tells you firmly, before kissing your forehead. "You know where my wallet is?"
You nod while walking backwards. "Yeah- in your black jacket, right?"
"Should be on the bed," He informs you. "I'll see you tonight. Have fun, baby."
"I will!" You promise, your body alight with anticipation for your plan.
Bucky's sitting alone at a table, looking through the wine menu as he awaits your arrival. Somewhere between the Malbec and Barolo, he hears familiar opening notes being played by the live band behind him on the stage. He narrows his eyes. Surely not? What a wild coincidence it must be that they're playing-
"Our song," You call, suddenly appearing before him with a grin. "What a wild coincidence."
While the band plays a rendition of Rosana's Si Tu No Estás Aqui, Bucky laughs in disbelief. "How much did you bribe them?"
You shrug, waving your hand flippantly. "Just flashed them my tits; nothing major."
He shakes his head, smiling as he watches one of the waiters come over to take your jacket. Slowly, you pull it off, revealing your low-cut dress and your freshly-inked collarbone. Bucky's heart skips a beat when he sees the letters J.B.B and a tiny love heart tattooed onto your skin in his handwriting, and he wonders whether he's dreaming.
"What?" he whispers, utterly shocked.
You laugh melodically before handing the waiter your jacket and sitting down, raising a brow at him. "Do you like it?"
"Mhm," You confirm. "Xaviére took me to her tattoo guy. The second I saw what you drew on me, I knew I wanted the real thing."
Still astonished, he scoffs. "Baby," He breathes out, holding his hands out to you. "Get the fuck over here. Now." Happily, you walk over to him and let him pull you onto his lap as he stares at the tattoo. "This- you just got this?"
With his arm around your waist, he pulls you closer, feeling his heart race. "Fuck. It looks- it's fucking perfect. You're perfect. I wasn't expecting you to actually get a tattoo for me."
"Not many people can say that they have a best friend who will fly them out to Argentina the second they complain about feeling overwhelmed," You say with a small smile.
"Fairy..." He whispers, tightening grip on you. He didn't need to say it to you, but he's been feeling overwhelmed, too. Almost a year has passed since his mother's death, and being alone with you is the only thing that brings him any solace anymore.
"Perfect," He repeats with a grin, in a slight daze. Trailing his hand up your thigh, he finds your hand and looks down at your nails. "They look pretty."
"I just wanted to show you how much I appreciate you, and a materialistic gift wouldn't be enough," You explain, clinging onto him. "I wanted to prove how much you mean to me, and how much I want you in my life, forever."
The combination of your sweet words, the tattoo, and the song proves to be too much for him. It's a rare sight to see Bucky Barnes cry, even for you, but you know exactly what he needs as the tears spill out. You wrap your arms around him and pull him close to your chest, swaying him gently as you press a soft kiss to his head.
Sniffling, he hugs you tightly and mumbles against your chest, "I love you, fairy. So fucking much."
"I love you, Jamie," You whisper back. "Always, and no matter what."
"No matter what," He repeats. After a few moments, he lifts his head back up and looks up at you with glossy eyes. "Does it still hurt? Is it sore?"
Smiling, you shake your head and wipe his wet cheeks. "Not at all, bubba."
"Are you sure?" He asks. "Was the guy legit? Was his equipment clean? Did he touch-"
"It was all very professional, Buck," You assure him, placing your hands on his shoulders. "Don't you worry. Xaviére goes there all the time."
Nodding, he relaxes. "Alright. Good. God, I can't believe you did that to me."
You laugh heartily at that, squeezing his shoulder. "I told you I wanted one in Hawaii, when you showed me yours," You remind him. "I just never knew how I wanted it to look. If I wanted to get your first name, or Bucky, or both. And then you drew on me today, and it was perfect."
"You like them?" You ask brightly.
"You know I love everything about you," He mumbles, bringing your hand up to his lips and softly kissing the back of it. "You're absolutely gorgeous tonight, baby."
"Thank you, bubba," You reply shyly as your cheeks heat up. "You look very handsome."
"Yeah?" He asks with a smirk. "Good enough to eat?"
"Absolutely," You answer, before reaching forward and gently biting his cheek, leaving behind teeth marks as he sucks in air.
"That was sexy," Bucky comments lowly. "What else do you wanna bite?"
Snorting, you tilt your head. "Your dick," You quip sarcastically, expecting him to be disgusted - and utterly surprised when, instead, his eyes darken. Taken aback, you gasp. "Bucky, no!"
Biting his lip, he sits back. "Why not?"
"You like getting your dick bitten?" You ask him incredulously.
"If it was you," He says slyly. "Then, yeah."
Baffled, you blink at him slowly. "You... would want me... to bite your dick?"
Sighing, he pats your thigh. "I can't believe you'd give me a boner in front of all these nice people, fairy."
You jump off his lap immediately, glaring at him. "Gross. Uncalled for. Maniac," You list off.
He laughs heartily, not even bothering to try and hide his boner. "I'm sorry, baby, but you were the one dirty talking me."
"Dirty talki- no, James, I'm not doing this with you right now," You say sternly, before giving him a smile and stretching your hand out to him. "Come on. It's our song. Let's dance."
With a wink, he stands up and pulls you in closer, wrapping his arms around your waist. "Si tu no estás aqui," He sings along lowly. "Me quema el aire."
si tu no estas aqui, me quema el aire:
if you're not here, the air burns me
side blog for update notifications: @kinanabinksupdates
buy me a kofi <3
Back on my shit again but like.
What about an AU where Jaskier didn't meet Geralt at Posada, he met a different Witcher, one who brings him home to Kaer Morhen one day, to Geralt and the others.
And Jaskier takes one look at Geralt and falls in love, only... Geralt seems to be indifferent to him at best and hates him at worst. The small moments where Geralt seems to warm to him only make it harder.
(Maybe he hears the others tease Geralt about Yennefer, and his heart sinks, because of course the gorgeous Witcher is already taken by a beautiful, powerful sorceress.)
Meanwhile Geralt thinks Jaskier is A Thing with the Witcher who brought him here, and he can't understand why this lovable little idiot keeps seemingly trying to flirt with him, and he's definitely not going to hurt his brother by falling into bed with his mate. But fuck if Jaskier doesn't just worm his way into Geralt's heart.
Cue a winter chock full of misunderstanding, mutual pining, growing closer and falling in love.
Explorations in IKEA
𝐓𝐢𝐭𝐥𝐞: Explorations in IKEA
𝐅𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐨𝐦: Marvel/ MCU
𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐞𝐫(𝐬)/𝐒𝐡𝐢𝐩(𝐬): Natasha Romanoff x Reader, Wanda Maximoff x Reader, Wandanat x Reader, Platonic!Peter Parker x Reader, Platonic!Pietro Maximoffx Reader, Platonic!Carol Danvers x Reader
𝐓𝐫𝐨𝐩𝐞: Friends to Lovers, Mutual Pinning
𝐒𝐮𝐦𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐲: Wanda is a simp. Natasha’s a tease. And you? You're oblivious. Wanda can’t bring herself to say no to you. She would move heaven on earth to make you happy. Natasha adores you more than she lets on. Would she carry an umbrella around for you the entire day to make sure you never get a cold in the rain? Yes. Doesn’t mean she can’t have a little fun teasing the brunette for having a crush on you.
No higher being or Avenger was capable of stopping Y/n from rushing into the entryway of IKEA. Their form vibrated with anticipation at the sight of the decorated showrooms. Y/n gasped and turned around, seeing their friends not too far behind. Their friends wore a mix of amused and bewildered expressions at Y/n’s excitement.
“Guys c’mon,” Y/n waved as if their hand motions alone would make everyone walk faster. “There’s a bunk bed with dinosaur decorations.” Y/n bounced on their feet rapidly.
Some of the Avengers had chosen to go out on this wonderful Saturday evening with the intention of spending time with one another. Which had been surprisingly successful and calm despite Bucky and Sam’s mustard chugging competition at the Auntie Anne’s station. The spring air was clear, with not a singular rain cloud in sight and soft winds blowing. They had been rotating from store to store around the mall. At some point they had to stop their shopping spree because of the amount of bags they had. If Y/n hadn’t seen the furniture store, the group would have been on the way home already, but it was one of the few stores they didn’t visit. Wanda unfortunately (fortunately) was the one that they turned to. With eyes so wide and a smile so large, it felt like saying no was not an option when Y/n asked if Wanda would go in with them. What else could she have done but lie? Her feet hurt but witnessing the smile falling on Y/n’s face would have hurt more.
“You just couldn’t say no,” Steve teased, his hands in his pockets and a teasing grin on his face.
Wanda glared up at him momentarily. “Shut up.”
“That’s like saying something mean to groot,” Natasha comments, bringing Wanda’s straw to her lips and sipping her drink.
“Exactly- hey!” Wanda rolled her eyes at the smirk on the redhead's face. “They asked so-”
“Dinosaurs guys!!” Y/n shouted with more emphasis than before.
“Dinosaurs?!” Peter, Carol, and Pietro exclaimed. With that, a portion of the Avengers quickly picked up the pace to get closer to Y/n’s side.
Tony, Sam, Bucky, Bruce, and Steve split off in the direction of desk chairs and other office furniture. Wanda, Nat, Carol, Pietro, Peter, and Y/n explored the showrooms that were used as inspiration for homeowners.
Y/n immediately intertwined their fingers with whoever was closest to them, which happened to be Wanda,whose cheeks were almost as bright as paprikash. Y/n had thought nothing of it. Wanda was always shy around them from time to time. Y/n genuinely believed that it would just take some time before the Sokovian fully got used to their presence. With that being in mind, they tried to pull their hand out of Wanda’s grasp. Key word: tried. Wanda narrowed her eyes the moment she noticed Y/n pulling away. She wrapped her arm around their waist and pulled them into her side, ignoring their questioning gaze.
The group walked around the showroom leisurely to examine all the different forms of interior design. Carol stopped at a dining room showroom and swiped her hand across the wooden table top.
“I like the color, but I cannot imagine having something like this in my house permanently.” The wood was light colored and the room lacked any color other than beige.
“For plain bitches,” Pietro said without hesitation, not even bothering to walk towards the room. He stood on the pathway between the rooms instead.
“Indeed,” Carol agreed with a chuckle.
Y/n stepped out of Wanda’s hold and walked over to the table to examine it beside Carol. “I think it’s good in theory, but to actually have it in my house would disturb my soul… it’s giving live laugh love.”
They all laughed at her comment. “It’s giving religious trauma,” Natasha added as she casually rested her hand on top of Y/n’s. Everyone began to laugh even harder than before at her comment.
“Natasha, no!” Carol exclaimed, one hand on her stomach as she attempted to catch her breath.
Peter shook his head. “We gotta go,” he said, prompting them all to laugh once more.
“Only, Karen’s enjoy this design,” Wanda sneered, walking up behind Y/n and glaring at the table. “It just called my accent foreign and sexy.”
“You’re done, you’re done,” Y/n said, knowing it was a TikTok reference everyone would understand. (Not because they tracked everyone on the team down and forced them to watch the video, definitely not that.)
“But is she wrong?” Carol questioned with a large smile on her face.
Y/n returned the gesture without hesitation and shook their head. “Not at all.” Their chorus of laughter could be heard from several showrooms over.
The Sokovian gazed up at them with a grin on her face, lightly brushing her hands against Y/n’s arm. She shuffled forward reaching upward to wrap her hand around it. Wanda felt all tension draining from her body the closer she got to making contact with your warm form.
“Enough.” Pietro laughed and nodded his head in the direction where more rooms were. “I see green walls down there.”
Wanda dropped her hand as you moved away to follow the group and scowled at her brother's retreating form. He was a pain in the ass even when he wasn’t trying to be. Natasha bumped her shoulder playfully into Wanda’s with mischief in her eyes. Everyone began to walk off, Y/n paused when an arm intertwined with their own. Natasha gazed at her with a neutral expression. “Let’s go.” Y/n grinned crookedly, causing Natasha to scoff, roll her eyes and turn her head before the smile on her face could be seen.
Wanda watched as the red head sauntered up behind Y/n, practically melding her entire body against their own. The brunette knows Natasha knows what she’s doing. She clenched her jaw and squeezed her fists watching the sweet exchange until Y/n turned and looked at her.
Y/n turned their head and held out an arm towards Wanda. “You coming?” Wanda, who looked like she wanted to shoot lasers out of her eyes and into Natasha’s head. She froze at the skeptical expressions both Y/n and Natasha gave her. Y/n’s laced with pure confusion and the former assassin smirking at her with mirth in her eyes.
Wanda nodded in response and stuffed her hands into her jacket pockets, rushing towards Y/n. She easily leaned into their side and unknowingly released a content sigh. Wanda’s cheeks flushed as she saw the teasing expressions Y/n and Natasha aimed in her direction. She huffed and burrowed further into Y/n’s side to hide her face. As Y/n shook with silent laughter they felt Wanda’s warm smile etched into their skin. Y/n’s heart overflowed with adoration for the two women they stood between. If Natasha were to say she was cold Y/n would rip off a blanket from one of the beds and wrap it around her body. Wanda decides she wants another drink? They’re already sprinting to the smoothie juice stand and back in 5 minutes with her favorite smoothie. Y/n wouldn’t need to move heaven closer to earth because heaven is in their arms.
As time went on, Y/n separated themselves from between the two to play with some of the kids' bedroom prop’s with Peter. Carol and Pietro stood in another showroom discussing (roasting) the bland minimalist kitchen. This left Natasha and Wanda standing in the walkway waiting for their friends to be done.
“Material Gworl!” Peter exclaimed, wrapping the dinosaur pattern blanket around his head. You threw your head back and began to laugh loudly.
“Peter put that down, we’re not buying it.” Wanda chuckled at the pout on the brunette’s face as he reluctantly placed the blanket back on the bed.
“Why is there a dinosaur lamp if there’s no light bulb in it?! This is false advertising.” You crossed your arms and stomped your foot.
Wanda and Peter laughed at your antics. Wanda laugh’s a bit harder than usual. You wink at her then turn to continue your chat with Peter. Natasha rose a brow, silently staring at the brunette. Her cheeks were as red as Natasha’s hair. She noticed how often Wanda’s moods switched around Y/n. From looking at Y/n when she believed no one was paying attention to affectionate gestures that were beyond the boundaries of friendship. It didn’t take a genius to put two and two together. However Y/n was either waiting on Wanda to make a move or an oblivious sweetheart- idiot.
“Shut up,” Wanda whispered.
“I didn’t say anything,” Natasha replied, snatching her drink out of her hand.
Wanda rolled her eyes, not even bothering to take it back. “I said shut up.”
“You like them,” She sang, grinning smugly.
“So do you!” Wanda whispered loudly, pointing an accusatory finger at her chest.
“So?” Natasha shrugged.
Wanda furrowed her brow and pursed her lips. “Oh, wow, lying to a mind reader? I can hear your panic whenever you’re alone in a room with them.”
Natasha’s bravado dropped for a split second before the nonchalant expression returned at full force. “Name one time you’ve had a full conversation with them without melting.”
”You melt too, how is that any different?!” She stomped her foot. “You’re infuriating.” Wanda whined, crossing her arms.
“And you’re not seeing the bigger picture.” Natasha shuffled into the Sokovian’s personal space, tilting the cup in her direction. “We can help each other.”
Wanda’s expression remained skeptical. “You want us both to date them?”
Natasha shrugged. “I don’t see why not.” She took a step toward her. “Don’t you find me attractive, Maximoff?” She asked, rubbing her thumb in circles on her arm.
Wanda stiffened leaning into Natasha’s touch without hesitation. “Of course I do Tasha.” Her words shocked them both. “I do…” Wanda shifted from one foot to the other.
“Oh…right back atcha.” Natasha finger gunned then squeezed her eyes shut as she realized what she just did. Wanda’s laugh made her cheeks burn like a raging inferno. She shoved the brunette's shoulder. “We can both date them is my point.”
“But how would that work, Tasha? We get along sure but would Y/n even want to date the both of us at the same time? What if they end up wanting one of us more than the other? The idea of our friendship being ruined because of this doesn’t sit right with me let alone our friendship with Y/n, what if-”
A hand gently covered Wanda’s mouth, silencing her anxious rambling. “You could ask me out and see how it turns out…just a suggestion,” Y/n offered, they removed their hand from Wanda’s mouth and stepped back.
“Where the fuck did you come from?” Wanda questioned, looking in front of her to see Peter no longer in the dinosaur room. He stood further down the walkway standing between Pietro and Carol. One of his hands was on Pietro’s chest while the other was on Carol’s shoulder. Peter looked in genuine distress as the two were clearly fighting back laughter. They all could hear the fake argument in bits and pieces.
“…I’m an idiot?! Who puts black spoons and silver knives together?!” Carol shouts then curls her lips inward to prevent her laugh from escaping.
“Your mother, that's who!” Pietro responds almost breaking out into laughter at Carol’s dramatic gasp and Peter’s shock ridden face.
“Glow Stick and Speed Racer started ‘arguing’,” Y/n grinned using their fingers to quote and unquote the word. Natasha turned her neck to witness the exact thing Y/n was describing. “over cutlery, poor Peter has not caught on to the joke yet.” They reached forward and took the cup from Natasha’s hand.
“Why do we have to ask you out?” Natasha responded by maintaining eye contact while you drank the last bit in the styrofoam cup. She scanned her eyes over your form then smirked when you tensed up and began to avoid her gaze.
“Did you hear them walk up?” Wanda asked, looking at Natasha, who kept her eyes on Y/n while they kept their eyes on Wanda.
“It’s the shoes,” Natasha said, gesturing to the combat boots on their feet. “Too quiet.”
Y/n looked down at their shoes with a grin. “They’re Steve’s.”
Natasha rose a brow. “You two are the same shoe size?”
“No, Steve Madden.”
“Ohhh, nice. I like how thick the laces are.”
“Yeah, me too, they are very-”
Y/n and Natasha turned and looked at Wanda, who stared at them both like they had suggested touching infinity stones with their bare hands. “The date?”
“I’m not asking them out on a date,” Natasha replied, swiveling her head to look them in the eye. “Why didn’t you ask us out first?”
Y/n pursed their lips at Nat’s question. Wanda let out an exasperated sigh. “Nat that’s not- wait why didn’t you ask us out first?”
The pair crossed their arms in unison and turned to them with accusatory yet playful glares. Y/n open then closed their mouth attempting to gather a rational and less embarrassing response.
Y/n huffed, frustrated with themselves for not confessing their emotions sooner. “I wasn’t sure if… Wanda had an actual crush on me and I… Tash flirts with everyone so I decided not to make any moves on either of you. I'm awkward when it comes to rejection, so I decided to wait until one of you made a move” Y/n gestured in no direction in particular. “I also didn’t want to choose because I like spending time with the both of you and more time with one means less time with the other so yeah…” They scratched the back of their neck at the unreadable faces they wore. “But! I do like the both of you, I know it’s cowardly for me to wait– I’ve just never experienced something like this before and the idea of both of you wanting to date me?” Y/n scoffed and shook their head in disbelief. “It sounded like something too good to be true.”
Their rambling was both endearing and heartwarming. Y/n has had relationships in the past, but when they were interested in one person not two. Both Wanda and Natasha are typically pursued but rarely the pursuer. The two women exchanged eye contact then gazed back at Y/n with unconstrained awe in their eyes. Y/n truly had no clue how much they meant to the two women.
“Детка I- we-”
“Oh моя любовь, you have no clue how cherished you are.”
Wanda intertwined her arm with Natasha’s. “Go on a date with us, детка?” “Please, моя любовь?” The Sokovian looked up at them with a small pout on her face.
Y/n looked from Wanda to Natasha to see the red-head making a similar expression.They chuckled and shuffled forward. “That sounds like more of a statement than a question.”
Wanda’s puppy-dog eyes were gone just as quickly as they appeared. “I’m going to hurtle you into the sun.”
Y/n threw their head back and laughed wholeheartedly, beaming at the adoration in the eyes of their dates. “If you did that then you wouldn’t be able to take me out on our date.” Their grin resembled that of an overly excited puppy. Natasha and Wanda returned the gesture with smiles of their own.
“Saturday at 8 work for you?” Natasha asked, tilting her head to look up at you.
“Sounds great babe.” You winked.
Without waiting for a response, they grabbed the duo’s hands and began to walk back towards the group. Maybe furniture stores weren’t so bad after all.
gen summary: Maybe Sam might be a good wingman after all.
pairing: Bucky Barnes x Reader
a/n: Thank you all again for the response to Dirty Dishes! This lil beauty has been in my drive for a couple of weeks now. hope you all like it :)
“Hey, Buck, didn’t think we’d see ya today!” A voice called from the couch.
Sam smiled enthusiastically, waggling his brow at the brooding brunette who sulked through the common area. He was quite the sight to see, especially since he had resorted to hermit status for the last couple of months: same messy hair thrown up haphazardly in a ponytail, same thread-bare t-shirt with a couple of coffee stains, same sweatpants with –
What kind of stain was THAT?
Truth be told, Bucky Barnes had been cooped up in his quarters for what seemed like the whole year, even though it was only March. Exceptions, however, included the gym, a few missions he supervised, and Steve’s quarters. Besides that, he had all but become a local cryptid to those who dwell in the tower.
His behavior didn’t seem concerning until around Christmas. Steve became worried after New Year’s, Bruce attempted to intervene around Valentine’s, and Tony was the one to offer the tropical getaway around Saint Patrick’s (although that was more for Tony than Bucky.)
Sam sipped on his coffee, rolling his eyes at the dirty glance the super-soldier shot at him. Smiling into his mug, he sighed and looked back at his friend.
“Buck, you know I’m playin’,” Sam reassured, “but I do think you should go outside today. It’s nice out, even for New York.” He gestured to the gigantic, floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto Manhattan. The morning sun shone golden rays that spread throughout the common area and attached kitchen. As if by some cruel prank played by the Gods, a lazy cloud ambled out of the way, allowing a beam to shine right into Bucky’s line of sight. He cursed, shielding his eyes with his plated arm. Sighing, he looked to Sam, who shrugged.
“Just sayin,’ you could do with goin’ outside. Breathe some air. Touch some grass.”
Eliciting a chuckle from Bucky, Sam grinned back into his coffee. A brief silence fell between the two of them when another set of footsteps approached the open entrance.
You shuffled in, yawning and stretching your stiff arms over your head, loose, bed-head hair falling over your face. Tired, half-asleep eyes locked onto one target– the coffee maker.
“Mornin’, Sam, Bucky,” you mumbled as you padded into the kitchen. Sam watched with eagle-eye vision as you moved past Bucky, who seemed to have suddenly perked up. He nursed his coffee, eyeing you as you made yours on the adjacent counter. In his periphery, he observed you concoct your personal brew he came to memorize after your first week of living there: medium-brew coffee, two sweeteners, and the creamer in the red bottle you keep nestled in the back of the fridge.
Waiting for your cup to brew, you reached into the cupboard to grab your sweeteners, your tank top riding slightly above your hips, only to be aided by your sweatpants sagging just a little lower than they usually do.
Bucky choked on his coffee.
You swiveled your head in his direction. Without a second thought, you yanked his mug from him, placing it on the counter behind him, and slapped his back. After a couple of hits, he caught his breath and turned to face the fridge to his other side, hiding the blooming flush of red now creeping up his cheeks.
A cough, a tightly lipped ‘thank you,’ and a second later, you’re quietly stirring in the rest of your coffee’s contents.
From Sam’s front-row perch on the couch, sipping and thinking, his lips morphed from polite smile to mischievous grin.
“Hey, Honeysuckle,” Sam called to you. You perked up, raising a brow at him. “What do ya got going on today?”
“Oh, um, just finishing up some coursework and mission paperwork,” you shrugged. Another slurp and you can feel heat suddenly rush to your face. You swore you saw Bucky turn back and slowly glide his eyes up and down your side.
You pulled the arm you held across your chest a little tighter. A half-assed attempt to conceal the butterflies beginning their usual ritual of fluttering around your stomach.
“Interesting,” Sam nodded, “well, my friend Bucky, there, isn’t doing anything, and was wondering if you’d like to go wander Manhattan with him on this lovely spring day.”
Now it was your turn to choke on your coffee.
Bucky immediately, albeit also instinctively, shot Sam a wide-eyed, what-the-hell-are-you-doing, dagger-loaded glare over his shoulder as he attempted to, in turn, remedy your choking fit. Sam’s grin only grew bigger as you regained your composure, looking from him to Bucky and back again.
“His treat, too.”
“Oh!” you responded, looking to the super-soldier standing in front of you. He locked eyes with you, searching yours as he bit his lip. His brow turned upward, silently begging you to say yes.
Your expression softened, but your heartbeat sure didn't.
“I’d, um, I’d like that. When do you wanna go?” You asked Sam while keeping your gaze on Bucky, who has now moved to stare at the floor, unblinking.
“How about in an hour?”
“Sure!” You all but yelled, hardly containing the pounding in your chest and girlish squeal rising in your throat. Before Bucky could get a word in, you rushed out of the kitchen.
Bucky spun abruptly, blue eyes blasting venom in Sam’s direction.
“Why. Did. You. Do. That,” he growled through gritted teeth.
“You both are depressed, introverted, twenty-four-seven workaholics who never leave their dungeons,” he remarked, rising from the couch and wandering into the kitchen. He placed his empty mug in the sink. Moving to leave, he clasped a hand on Bucky’s good shoulder and gave him a reaffirming pat.
“Plus, I see the way you look at her, man. It is definitely not subtle. Now, go and get dressed, brush your hair, and go take that girl out.”
As Sam exited, Bucky stood there, mouth agape and prepared to say something, but words failing him. He might as well listen to Sam at this point.
What did he have to lose?
The knock on your door all but made you jump out of your skin. You were ready thirty minutes ago, but the last thirty you had spent mentally preparing yourself.
For a ‘date.’
Has it really been an hour already?
Looking into the mirror the umpteenth time, you smoothed down your favorite sundress, checked for lipstick in your teeth, and gave yourself one last pep talk.
It’s not a date. He’s just a friend. This doesn’t mean anything.
An anxious sigh left your body as you headed for the door. A shaky hand grabbed the handle and turned, slowly opening it. At this rate, you’re half hoping you’re only hearing things and half hoping he isn’t there yet.
The door swung open and you’re greeted with a soft smile and kind eyes. The super soldier stood in your doorway, his flesh hand shoved in his denim pocket and his plated one swept through his dark hair, which he’d, surprisingly, worn down for once. Underneath his bomber, his gray t-shirt struggled against his broad chest.
You forgot how to breathe for a second.
“Hey, you uh, you ready?”
Snapping out of initial shock, you nodded a little too excitedly and closed the door behind you, the lump in your throat threatening to choke you as you both turned toward the elevators.
The doors slid open in a matter of seconds. You’re about to ask him where you two are headed when a light hand slipped onto the middle of your back, leading you into the mirrored interior of the elevator. For a second, a split second, you swore his hand all but grazed the hem of your dress and the tender skin of your thigh as he pressed the button for the lobby.
Now you forgot how to breathe and speak. Your mantra from before, tossed out the window.
It is a date. He’s hot. This means everything.
So much for the pep talk. You were never good at those, anyway.
Trial and error
Pairing: Tech x f!reader
Summary: Left alone with the brainiest of the Batch after another successful mission, you find out that there's one subject he's not an expert in.
A/N: Happy Tech Tuesday lovelies. It's my first time writing in this fandom, so of course, it had to be centred around my favourite nerd. That being said, please be gentle :') I personally head-cannon Tech as being a little like Sheldon from Big Bang Theory, whether that comes across in this or not I don't know, but here we go…
Read on A03
“Wait, you’ve never kissed someone?” You couldn’t believe what you were hearing. Surely he had to be lying?
“It is somewhat difficult when you are fighting a war and then running from the Empire.” Tech’s clipped response was muffled ever so slightly by his position, leaning into an access panel of the Marauder’s hull.
You’d taken heavy fire when escaping Mimban with Cid’s latest asset – a rather ugly vase that was worth quite a lot of credits. You couldn’t understand the fuss. You'd landed on a small planet, in a beautiful clearing. Hunter, Omega, and Echo had headed into a nearby town for supplies, while Wrecker had excused himself for a nap, claiming that he hadn’t slept well in days. It was a bald-faced lie. You could hear the man's snores from your makeshift bed at the other end of the ship each night - how Hunter hadn’t suffocated him with a pillow yet was beyond you.
With nothing to do, you’d offered to help Tech with the repairs, but your favourite Batcher had insisted he could do it himself, after politely thanking you for the offer. It was how you’d come to find yourself perched on a nearby crate, legs swinging, trying to make some sort of conversation with the man who remained as quiet as possible around you. An oddity considering that he was never quiet around the others.
He wasn’t scared of you. No one was. It was what made you so good at your job. While the boys preferred brute strength and blasters, you could charm your way in and out of any situation. It was why Cid often sent you with them. Some situations called for more diplomacy than detonations.
“Surely you had downtime?” You pressed, not buying into Tech’s answer.
Sensing you wouldn’t drop the subject, he indulged you. “Indeed. On Kamino. Where the only beings were my brothers, Kaminoans, or Jedi.”
It made sense, though you couldn’t stop your nose scrunching as you held back a snicker. “Longnecks and the Force not your type?”
“I do not have a type.” Tech declared, using his hydrospanner to tighten a rattling bolt.
Frowning, you stopped kicking your legs through the air, heels thunking into the crate. “Everyone has a type.” You countered.
Pausing in his work Tech leaned backwards, head poking out from around the metal panel. It should’ve been a crime for you to look so sweet in your confusion, but he would rather swap bunks with Wrecker for several cycles before admitting it. “Then what is yours, and how did you come to that conclusion?” He turned the tide of questions around, reaching up with his free hand to push his goggles back up his nose. Your answer would be an interesting insight. Though he had to tamper down his small well of excitement that maybe, just maybe, he would match some of your preferences.
It was irrational of him to think for a moment that you would be remotely interested in him. He spent more time with inanimate objects – fixing, building, and reading – than he did with other beings. You were his opposite, always the life of the party, bright smiles and laughter, lost in conversation with friends and strangers alike. The extrovert to his introvert.
Recently he’d started to avoid you, calculating that by placing distance between you both he would eventually lose interest and his mind would stop wandering to you at the most inopportune moments. No matter how hard he tried to steer clear of you though, somehow you always gravitated back to him.
‘You.’ Your mind screamed, and for once you were grateful to think before speaking. “Tall, considerate, funny, soft.” You rattled off the first things that came to mind, careful not to study him too closely and give the game away.
Disappointment was not a new emotion to the clone and masking it was a well-learned reflex. “Wrecker, then.”
Frown deepening, you shook your head. How the heck had he come to that conclusion? “No, he’s not my type.” As much as you adored the loudest brother, and admittedly he was a good-looking man, he certainly wasn’t for you.
“But you just described him.” It was Tech’s turn to frown, lips pressed together.
“I generalised.” You weren’t about to smack him with the finer details. He didn’t need to know that you swooned whenever he let you board the ship before him, hand splayed over your lower back as a reminder that he was armed and would keep you safe, or the way his nimble fingers fixed fiddly wires and electronics with practised ease, making you wonder what else those talented digits could do.
Figuring that it would take further research to understand your type, he pressed on with his second question. “And you concluded this how?”
Shrugging, you shifted your hands, let them hold your weight as you leaned backwards on the crate, kicking your feet again. “Trial and error.” There had been a lot of errors. The bad boys had been fun until you’d wanted to take them home to meet your mother and realised just how much they didn’t care about you, the corporate highflyers had bored you after a few weeks, and the rich boys had treated you like a disposable toy. You’d even dabbled with the Jedi, wondering if things could get a little freaky with the Force, but their mantra of not forming attachments had made them no better than any of the others.
Your expression gave away more than your words, eyes glazed over a little, lost in memories. It gave Tech a moment to simply watch, to further commit the angles of your face, the curve of your lips and nose, and the soft ripples of your hair in the light breeze to memory. The weight of the hydrospanner in his hand was an unwelcome reminder of the job he still had to complete. So, he left you to your thoughts, disappearing back behind the panel to continue working.
The silence stretched for a little while longer, allowing Tech to think. A dangerous thought popped into his head. “Would it be achievable to pinpoint my type through trial and error?”
Snapped back to reality you snorted in amusement, gaze shifting to find Tech half-buried in the hull. “Have you ever done anything by trial and error?”
“No. I do not make errors.” His response was quick, heavy with certainty.
Fondness had the corners of your lips curving upwards. He was so sure of himself. And you loved it. “Sometimes errors are more fun.”
“And sometimes they get you killed.” He responded without thought.
With a groan you fell backwards, stretching out across the top of the crate. “Way to make it heavy, Tech.”
Knowing he had to catch up from his earlier stalling, he kept working as he answered. “I apologise, it was not my intention. I was merely stating a fact.”
Silence enveloped you both again, and from your spot laying on the crate you could watch the clouds swim across the vast expanse of blue sky, the occasional creature swooping into view before disappearing into the endless abyss.
Clearing his throat to grab your attention, Tech kept his focus on his work as he spoke. “Would you assist me in this trial-and-error method, then?”
You broke out in a grin, no doubt looking like a fool. “Helping you find your type? Sure.” You made no motion to move, Tech's muffled voice and the odd tinkering noises giving away the fact he was still working. “What do you like about me?”
The clatter of metal and a low curse had you sitting up quickly, already halfway over to Tech by the time he reached down to pick up his tool, which had slipped from his grasp at your question and clattered down the side of the ship to meet the grassy ground. Concern in your eyes, you watched as he stood back upright – or as upright as he could be given his awful posture. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. The screw was unexpectedly slippery.” He lied, amazed at himself for coming up with an excuse so quickly. “What does your question have to do with our objective?” He quizzed, returning to his work as he heard you lean back against his ship.
“I flit in and out of your lives at probably the same rate as a girlfriend or hook up would, so you’ve spent enough time around me that you’ll have made up your mind on things you like and don’t like. That’s a decent baseline.” You shrugged, grateful for the access panel which blocked you from Tech’s line of sight.
He didn’t know where to begin. For a man who thought logically at a million klicks a second it was exceedingly difficult to organise his answer. “You’re pleasing to look at, which is a good place to start.” He tested the water, slotting the hydrospanner back onto his belt after he’d finished loosening the final screw.
“Thank you. I think?” You frowned, giving your head a quick shake before you pushed off the hull, hopping neatly back up onto the crate. He hadn’t called you pretty, or beautiful, but you’d take it.
“You are welcome.” Tech hummed in satisfaction as he was able to finally access the wires that connected to the rear gun. “You are also capable, able to defend yourself, good with Omega and, though you are not on the same level as myself, you are intelligent.” Never had he been more grateful to be buried in his work, the furious blush on his cheeks hidden from view. “Is that sufficient?”
You had to bite the inside of your cheek to stop yourself from smiling. It was nice to be complimented, and the warmth that blossomed inside your chest at the fact it was coming from Tech made you feel like a teenager swooning over her first crush all over again. “Sure. What about things you don’t like?”
Appraising the wires, Tech scowled. Whoever had last tried to repair them, likely Echo if his memory served him well, had done an awful job at soldering them together. “You are too nice to people who do not deserve kindness.” It was the only flaw he could think of. “They are rude to you, and yet you are not rude back.”
“I’m being the bigger person.” You shrugged, flopping back on the crate to watch the sky once more. The clouds had thinned a little with the light breeze, their wispy ends all that remained in your line of sight.
He would have to redo the soldering. There was no way around it. Fishing around in his toolbelt he pulled out his soldering pen. “But I see how their rudeness hurts you. If they understood that, then perhaps they would be more careful about the things that they say.”
“People will be mean. How we choose to respond to that is up to us. I don’t want to add any more nastiness to the galaxy.” You admitted, head lolling to the side so you could glimpse a sliver of him while he worked. His legs and the curve of his lower back, along with his ass, were perfectly on show as he ducked into the access point. The Kaminoans had been having a marvellous day when they’d created him. “Back to the point, though.” You cleared your throat, and your mind, forcing yourself to look back up at the sky and not ogle the poor man. “Now we have a baseline you need to build on it. We can go into town tomorrow before we leave. I’ll be your wingwoman.” It pained you to say it, but you were committed to the cause.
With the wires unsoldered, Tech quickly calculated the best way to re-solder them, preserving as much of them as possible. “I do not wish to spend time with others. You are here.” He spoke, eyes widening as he caught himself. His brain had been so busy with the electrics that his filter had left the clearing.
“Aw, nice to know you enjoy spending time together.” You teased, your smile returning at the sound of Tech working away. The ensuing silence between you was peaceful. You couldn’t even remember how the conversation had switched to Tech’s inexperience – you were sure you’d been teasing him about something else. The way he’d get flustered when verbally out-manoeuvred was the sweetest thing you’d ever seen.
While you couldn’t calculate risks as quickly or efficiently as he could, a little gamble was never a bad thing. One more trial couldn’t hurt, right? “Tech…”
The world slowed as you blinked. You had no idea what Tech had said, but the way he’d purred the word had sent a jolt of heat through you. Grateful his gaze was elsewhere you sat up, surreptitiously squeezing your thighs together, wondering what else he could say in that strange language. “As part of trial and error, you have to conduct experiments.” You remembered the reason you’d called out his name, hoping he hadn’t noticed the slightly longer than usual pause.
Your small silence had unnerved the clone, and for a moment he wondered whether he'd pushed his luck too far with the endearment, but Tech didn’t let it stop him from continuing his work. His brothers would be back from town soon and would expect the repairs to be finished. “That is logical.” He conceded to your statement, curious as to where you were going with it.
“Could you come here, please?” You tried to mask the uncertainty in your voice. There was still time to back out. No. No, you couldn’t. This could be your only chance to test the water.
Pausing in his work, Tech leaned forward. Catching a glimpse of you in the crack between the open access panel and the hull of his ship, he watched as a myriad of emotions flitted across your features. He couldn’t pinpoint them all, but they certainly piqued his curiosity. Forcing himself to slowly return his tool to his belt, he stepped back, sliding his dirty gloves off to hang them over the panel. You were wearing that stupid white shirt again, with the ruches that dared his eyes to stray towards your chest if he wasn’t careful. He couldn’t decide whether to shoot or thank the person who’d made it. Closing the distance between you, he paused less than an arm’s length away. “What are you thinking would be a suitable experiment?
In for a credit, in for a trugut. With a deep breath, you parted your legs, reaching out with your right hand to grab the edge of Tech’s chest armour, hauling him in to stand between your knees. Catching him off guard was the only way to shift him. When he planted himself down, he was an immovable force. Tech faltered as he came to a stop, closer to you than he’d ever been before, and you hid your smile at the way his dark eyes widened in surprise behind the yellow lenses of his goggles. “I have a hypothesis.” You stated, tipping your head back a little to look at him. Up close, you could enjoy the finer details of his face. He had a small smattering of light freckles on his left temple, and a faded scar ran parallel to his jawline on the right side. You had to sit on your hands to stop yourself from reaching out to trace it. It always caught you off guard – how such a soft and smart man could take down armies with two blasters and some taps on a screen.
Tech’s throat felt drier than Tatooine, and he was sure he could hear his heartbeat thundering in his ears. He could feel your knees resting lightly against the outside edge of his thighs, his tool belt caught between you, and it was almost too much. But not enough, either. Hands flexing at his sides, he found himself unable to tear his gaze away from you and the gentle smile you were giving him. “G-go on.” He stammered, silently cursing himself as he lifted a hand to push his goggles back up.
The stammer was new. And cute. You tried your best to hide your pleasant surprise, swallowing thickly. There was something about watching a composed man, especially one whose IQ far outweighed your own, turn into a stuttery mess in your vicinity that did it for you. “Well, I don’t think I should tell you what it is. I wouldn’t want to inadvertently skew the data with bias.” You shrugged. You’d grown up being taught that a pretty smile and a bat of your eyelashes would get you close to people and intel, but here you were embracing science and using words you’d never thought would make it into your vocabulary. What had this man done to you?
“Then how do I know what you are testing for?” Tech frowned. Blind experiments were not uncommon, but if handled incorrectly he could also impact the data. He could, inadvertently, favour an analysis that supported your existing belief, thus leading to confirmation bias.
That was your queue. Having sufficiently stumped your nerd you leaned forward, closing the gap as you looped your arms around his neck, pulling him in for a hug. If he’d never kissed a woman, then you hypothesised that he’d probably never been hugged by one either. It wasn’t like he’d grown up with a mother cuddling him every time he’d scraped his knees, and the female Jedi's and Kaminoans were certainly not touchy-feely.
His plastoid armour didn’t offer a comfortable embrace, but with your face close to his neck and your eyes closed you could, fleetingly, enjoy his scent. Comforting – homey, even – with the tang of engine oil and the sweet undertone of the candy you knew he kept stashed in a secret compartment in the cockpit, away from Wrecker and Omega’s sticky fingers.
Tech panicked. What was he meant to do? He knew how to hug someone but actually doing it? He’d never understood the need. What could be gained from smushing one’s body against another’s? This was Wrecker’s thing, not his.
The sound of your voice and the way you slowly pulled back from his rigid form spurred him into action. Brain kicking in he took a small step forward, fully closing the gap between you so he could slide his arms around you, his hands meeting at your lower back as he tucked your head against his neck. He was forced to stoop a little, even with the crate raising you, but it wasn’t unpleasant – far from it. He could feel every breath you took, the warmth from your body permeating your shirt to meet his hands, and with your head tucked against his throat, he could smell the freshness of the shampoo you refused to deviate from, regardless of how many credits were in your pockets. “It is different.” He commented quietly, heart hammering as he felt you turn your head, burrowing in to press your cold nose to his collarbone. You could probably feel his erratic pulse, but at least you wouldn’t be able to feel the warmth blossoming in his chest as he came to terms with having you wrapped up in his arms.
You’d half expected him to pull away, shaking his head and declaring, with a finger in the air, that hugs were not for him. He’d proved you wrong. Again. A quiet hum slipped from your lips as the pads of his fingers tentatively moved, finding your bare skin, exposed as your shirt had ridden up when you’d reached for him.
“I think I understand now why embraces are enjoyed.” Tech mused, experimentally rubbing his fingers in small circles on your lower back, noting how you melted more into his touch, another delightful hum leaving you.
Not putting much thought into it you started scritching at the base of Tech’s skull, fingers running through his short hair. His murmur of appreciation reverberated through you, and you involuntarily clenched at the deep noise. Thank the Maker he didn’t have Hunter’s heightened senses.
“It certainly boosts serotonin levels.” Tech kept his voice low, afraid that speaking up would break the bubble you’d found yourselves in. He hadn’t thought of head scratches as being pleasant, nor the base of his skull as an erogenous zone. Though he hadn’t been privy to your hypothesis, he could confidently deduce what you’d been testing for. And he was pleased with the outcome.
“Thanks for the participation.” You broke the silence and the moment, not wanting to make it awkward by dragging it out too long. Sliding your hands from around his neck, you let your palms rest against the smoothness of his cuirass, pushing yourself back a little so you could look up at the clone, missing the feeling of his fingers on your bare skin as his hands returned to your waist.
Hiding his excitement, Tech offered you a small smile. “Anything for science. Though we will need to conduct this experiment again at some point, to ensure the outcome is repeatable and therefore accurate.”
A comfortable silence settled between you, neither daring to make a move to pull back. Why would you? You finally had Tech in your arms, the very man you’d secretly – except for Cid and her sleuthing – been yearning for. Every time he opened his mouth and spouted out some fact or trivial knowledge you couldn’t help but listen, enraptured. The way he handled the Marauder with practised ease thrilled you, and when he twirled his tools between his nimble fingers as he was mentally working through a problem? Oomph.
Lost in thought himself, Tech was certain the hug he’d just experienced was different than the ones his siblings received. He’d seen you with Omega before, the child scrambling close and sniffling against your shoulder when she had a nightmare. Hunter was less inclined towards hugs, the physical contact a little too much for his senses. There was Echo, who usually got a quick shoulder squeeze and some kind words, and then Wrecker would pick you up and squish you to him with no regard for your rib cage. The one Tech just experienced had been soft, your smile less guarded and warmer, and you had held on to one another for much longer…
The pieces clicked. Solving problems had, after all, always been his forte. He forced down his glee. It was his turn to run an experiment. “Maybe, given you are an excellent research partner, we should come up with a suitable trial for the first error we encountered.” Perhaps pushing you away had not been the best solution. What would happen if he pulled you closer instead? An interesting theory to test.
“The error being…?” You snapped out of your daze, eyes finding his behind his goggles.
“That I have not had my first kiss,” Tech stated plainly, hyper-focussed on your features for any sign of discomfort.
“Oh yeah. That.” You nodded, lips parting to a soft pout.
“It is something I should perhaps rectify, and you have proven yourself as capable of solving problems and reaching conclusions.” Tech steamrolled on, hiding his excitement by talking at pace.
“I mean, I-I can help. I offered to be your wingwoman tomorrow, remember?” Your heart felt like it was shattering into a pool of tiny pieces, the jagged edges tearing at your soul. But if it was what Tech wanted and it would make him happy, then you would gladly walk across those sharp pieces until your feet could no longer carry you.
With a small click of his tongue, Tech shook his head. “You are the candidate I am most comfortable with. And given you are the more experienced in this matter you should lead, so that I may learn.”
“You want your first kiss to be with me?” You squeaked, not quite believing what you were hearing.
Realising how forward he'd been, Tech changed gears. "Only if you're willing, mesh'la. I am not offended if you would rather not."
Nervous butterflies took up residence in your stomach, making you feel light-headed. Of course you wanted to. you just hadn't expected it to be like this. You'd shared kisses with others before, but this one would mean far more than the others ever had. Pulling a hand from his chest you reached up slowly, giving him a chance to back out, but the clone remained perfectly still, eyes focussed on yours as you cupped his cheek, stroking your thumb across his cheekbone. Your fingertips caught the edge of his goggles, not enough to disturb them, but enough to pique your curiosity. You would pry them off him at some point, get a look at his handsome face without them.
Gently you brought his face towards yours, stretching up a little to meet him halfway. Eyes falling shut at the last second you pressed a feather-light kiss to his lips, barely containing your gasp as his hands on your waist tightened at the contact. He took advantage of your surprise, shoving aside your soft approach to slot his lips firmly against your own - the insistent nature you’d come to associate with the man between your thighs. Your light-headedness had the reins and for a split second you thought you’d pass out, but one of Tech’s hands left your waist to slide over your cheek, mirroring your action, and his touch grounded you, anchoring you in the experience.
Tech couldn’t believe his luck. His first kiss was with you. Finally, after cycles of observing your likes and dislikes, adjusting his ship to make you more comfortable, and pining from afar, much to his brother’s amusement, had led him to this moment. He’d seen plenty of kisses shared between couples on the holonet and in towns they stopped at to resupply, he knew the mechanics, but the feel? Maker. The way you melted into him as his lips moved against yours gave him a power trip he wasn’t sure he was allowed, but there was no way he was giving it up. He could feel you, taste you, your entire being enveloped his senses.
Pulling back enough so he could see your beautiful face, Tech could feel the heat in his cheeks as he blushed. “I may not be your type but I-”
Silencing Tech was no easy feat, but the fierce kiss you pressed to his lips mid-sentence did the trick. “Maker, for someone so smart you can be so dense.” You shook your head. “It was you. I was describing you.” You confirmed, holding Tech’s face in your hands. The surprise painted on his features encouraged you to keep going. “Your posture needs some work, but you still tower over me. You protect me whenever we’re on a mission. You make me laugh even when you’re not trying. I know you’re capable of such gentleness, too.” You rattled off, not giving Tech a moment to interrupt and try to counteract you. “I know you saved some credits to purchase more blankets as I’m always cold, and you spent your downtime fixing a music player for me. Do you think I spend my nights curled up in the cockpit because I love the view of hyperspace? No, dummy. I love that you put on the music you know I like, how you tell me everything about anything whenever I ask, and that you tuck the blankets around me when you think I’ve fallen asleep. I love watching you work and – damn it. I just. I like you. I really like you. I know it’s ridicul-”
It was Tech’s turn to cut you off with a kiss mid-sentence, hands sliding to your waist so he could hold you firmly – a reminder that you were real. That this was real. “It's not. Not at all.” He reassured you, his gaze scanning your face for any signs of distress or discomfort. Lifting a hand to tuck an errant strand of your hair behind your ear, the smile he broke into was magnificent. He couldn't believe his luck. "In case it wasn't obvious, I return your feelings. Though I’m not sure what we’re supposed to do now, this is unexplored territory for me. Could you lead once more?” He asked once he was confident that you were okay.
You laughed, shaking your head fondly. Fingers finding Tech’s chin, you pulled him back towards you, lips hovering over his. “Yeah, I can do that.” You whispered, before closing the gap to steal another sweet kiss.
Between the lines
A/N: It's- a me! The writer who finally posts something! It's my first one shot that is over 10k and I've worked on it for weeks. It was a challenge, but I had a lot of fun and I'm really proud of it. This story is messy and maybe some of you won't like the ending, but I wrote it for myself and I like it. if you find this story nice tho it would be amazing if you rebloged it or left a comment :3 now to the story!!!!
Pairing: Stephen Strange x gn! Reader
Word count: 10.5k
Warnings: slow burn, mention of a shitty ex, talk about therapy, the reader has mixed feelings about therapy because of their shitty ex, working too much, anxiety attack, not taking meds (I hope I mentioned everything, but if i missed something please let me know!) Probably some grammar mistakes
Summary: After becoming the sorcerer supreme Stephen gets the access to the ancient one's private library full of ancient tomes in languages the doctor hasn't even heard of. Luckily Wong's childhood friend is willing to help and becomes their personal translator.
“I’m so glad you could make it.” Wong greeted you with a wide smile- you didn’t even step into the building when the man picked you up, hugging you tightly. Oh how you missed his hugs! “You have no idea how happy I am that you came.” The librarian let you go and sighed heavily. He embraced you one more time before he took your bags and gestured you to walk in.
You looked around, mesmerised. It was quite a while since you’ve last been to the New York sanctum and even though nothing really changed it still felt foreign. The stairs looked exactly how they used to, but the carpet looked a bit more red than you remember it. Did they clean this old thing or bought a new one? And then there was that old foyer where you used to spend most of your nights, reading some random fantasy novels you found in the nearest library. It was funny how you always insisted on reading those books instead of ancient tomes about real magic. You smiled, remembering that time the former guardian of this building scolded you for sitting too close to the fire and accidentally burning half a page of your book. Thankfully it was no book about sorcery- otherwise you would already be dead because Wong would definitely kick your ass for that. This guy was basically your family but he wouldn’t hesitate to make you pay for damaging something valuable.
“I put your bags in your room.” Your friend’s voice pulled you out of your transe, but you couldn’t stop smiling. You really missed this place. Turning around, your eye caught a glimpse of the closing portal behind your favourite sorcerer. “Tea?”
“Yes, please!” You said and followed Wong to the kitchen, walking with that happy jump to your steps, already excited to spend some time with your friend. When you were still a sorcerer, tea time with Wong always meant exchanging gossip- it was your favourite time of the day. And now you guys had a lot to talk about. “Oh man,” you exhaled and sat down on an old wooden chair right next to the kitchen island, “I missed your tea soooo much.” you giggled and breathed in the smell of your favourite flavour. “Did you buy this tea for me? You know I love it.”
“I actually did it myself.” The man said, proudly and poured your beverage to a ceramic cup from his favourite set. You smiled upon seeing the mugs you got him for his birthday a few years ago. Wong said it was his most valuable possession. “I picked up gardening last year and then decided to experiment with tea. I hope you like it.”
“Gardening? That’s interesting. You didn't mention it at all.” you took a sip and literally melted in your chair. Is this how heaven felt like? “Wow, this is amazing!” you took another sip and closed your eyes, cherishing the taste it left on your tongue. “And you did it yourself?”
“I did.” The librarian puffed his chest like a proud peacock, making you smile again. “And there’s a lot I have to tell you so buckle up- I have a lot of tea to spill.” Wong said, looking at you and expecting a laugh at his oh so genius pun. You were trying to look unamused, not wanting to give him the satisfaction, but you didn’t care to be honest. Yes, that pun was terrible, but still funny! You wouldn’t apologise for laughing at your friend’s corny joke.
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“This is the last time I went to that store alone.” Stephen spoke into the empty air- his voice echoed through the hall with no one around to listen to his whining. The sorcerer supreme sighed, closing the door to the sanctum with his foot and then headed to the kitchen to unpack all those bags. The list Wong gave Stephen was longer than usual and the amount of food the man purchased would last for him and Wong for a whole month. The librarian insisted that his colleague should go to this very specific store at the other side of the city- which Stephen found quite weird but when he questioned it, Wong went on a long rant, explaining to him that they had your favourite kind of noodles and that their spices were top tier. Stephen had never met you, but he could see how much Wong respected you. You were obviously someone very important, but were you worth taking the train and two buses filled with annoying people just to get all those groceries that could be bought from the farmer’s market three blocks away from the sanctum? Stephen didn’t think so.
As he neared the kitchen, the sorcerer could hear someone talking. One of the voices belonged to Wong- Stephen was sure of that- but the other one he had never heard before. Have you already arrived? The doctor stopped in his tracks and sighed when he realised that he wasn’t exactly looking like the most important sorcerer at the moment. What kind of a first impression was this going to be? Would you judge his casual outfit or pay it no mind? It was hard to tell since Wong refused to tell Stephen anything about you other than the fact that you could translate all of the books for him. He didn’t even get your backstory or anything about you as a person. Wong obviously liked you, otherwise he would never have invited you to the sanctum, but the doctor didn’t know what to expect from you. He knew nothing about you. Stephen hated not knowing.
Lost in thought, he didn’t even notice when the hallway’s wooden floor beneath his feet changed to the turquoise kitchen teals.
“Speak of the devil and he will bring you groceries.” The librarian spoke, greeting his fellow sorcerer as he walked into the room.
The doctor’s eyes fell on the person sitting on the counter, face hidden behind the ceramic mug- Stephen was pretty sure that the dish was supposed to keep your smile hidden. So much for a decent first impression. Thanks to Wong.
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You looked at the man who just walked in- bags full of food in his hands. Wong has told you plenty about the new sorcerer supreme, but you didn’t expect to see someone in their late 30s to be the most important sorcerer on earth. You knew he was in his late 30s because your friend has mentioned it once, but the grey in his hair made Doctor Strange look a bit older.
Awkwardly hopping off the counter you put your empty mug aside and walked towards the sorcerer supreme. “Let me help you with those.” You said, pointing at the bags. They were probably really heavy. You didn’t wait for a response and took some stuff in your own hands. “Wong, do you need an invitation or something?” You called, putting the groceries on the kitchen island.
Stephen huffed- almost giggled- when he saw how quickly Wong stood up and took the remaining bags from him. He might not have made a good entrance, but you have for sure impressed him. And you seemed like a really friendly person, too.
“Where are my manners!” You gasped, realising that this guy probably didn’t even know your name and you were so freely opening his cupboards and stuffing them with food. It must have looked weird to him. Leaving Wong to unpack the rest by himself, you walked over to Stephen the second time this day, extending your hand to properly greet him. “It’s an honour to meet you, Doctor Strange.” You heard a lot about this man- the best neurosurgeon in the US, maybe even the world, who graduated young with 5 phDs and then became the sorcerer supreme within a few months of studying magic. It was impressive. You admired him in a way. Wong spoke of him highly as well. Although he did mention the doctor’s arrogance and his ‘dumbassery’ as your friend called it.
Stephen watched your hand move up and then stop midair between your bodies. You wanted to shake hands….
He didn’t have his gloves! What if you stared at them? Even unintentionally. He couldn’t let you see his hands without the gloves on. Maybe he should stop worrying about them so much. Stephen has been trying to put an end to his overthinking but it was harder than he thought. You didn’t seem like a judgy person though.
Before he could make a decision you already pulled your hand away. He didn’t even notice that his own moved behind his back- hiding from your eyes.
“Wong has told me plenty about you.” You smiled, knowing perfectly well that your friend didn’t want his colleague to know about that. “I’m glad I could finally meet you.”
“I’m grateful you decided to help us out.” Stephen spoke, not really knowing what he should say to you. He didn’t know you at all, meanwhile you seemed to know him pretty well. “Wong said you specialise in translating ancient languages.”
“That’s right! I have translated most of the books from the library in Kamar-Taj and a great amount of books from the London Sanctum.” You announced proudly.
“You always asked for those books when you were studying. You should thank our guest for providing your monolingual brain with all that knowledge.” Wong called as he put the last products in the fridge. The librarian was obviously not interested in your awkward ‘get to know each other’ conversation and would rather go back to gossiping with you about some of the masters from Hong Kong. He didn’t even get to the part where Master Emily was having an affair with Master Min and that they got married in secret two weeks ago.
“It was all you?” Stephen asked, surprised. During his stay in Kamar-Taj the doctor had read dozens of books- in the beginning of his journey with sorcery said books were mostly in English, but once he memorised them he started reading the versions of those books in the original languages. It helped him learn how to read sanskrit in two weeks. “I must say I’m impressed. They proved to be very helpful.”
“I’m happy to hear that.” You couldn’t stop smiling- it was rare to hear people praising you and you always got excited when that happened. “How many books do you have for me, Doctor?”
“Oh, yes, please follow me.” Before he could leave, Stephen turned around to Wong, “is it my turn or your turn to make dinner tonight?”
“It’s your turn.” The librarian spoke as he moved to exit the kitchen and walk to his own room.
It was Wong’s turn.
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“20 books?” You said, looking at the old tomes in Stephen’s office.
“I know it's a lot and I understand if you don’t want to do all of that-”
“You want them translated into English, right?” You asked and picked up the first book from the enormous pile, laying on the sorcerer’s desk.
“Yes, of course.” the sorcerer paced awkwardly around his room and watched as you went through the master’s guide to astral projection in mirror dimension. Was it embarrassing that the sorcerer supreme needed assistance to read books? The Ancient One didn’t need a translator and most of the Masters were fluent in more than one language. Stephen made a mental note to download duolingo. But did they teach Hebrew from two thousand years ago?
“Would you like me to translate it into any other languages?”
“How many do you know?” The doctor asked, curious.
“7 if we only count the old ones.” You answered and picked up another book, carefully inspecting its spine. Maybe if you find the time you will restore some of them as well.
“And if we count the new ones?”
“How long will it take you to translate them?” Stephen changed the subject, feeling quite intimidated by your skills. He wouldn’t tell this to anyone, but last night he really needed to translate some notes and used Google to do it. Needless to say the spell was a disaster and the doctor swore to never use google translate for spells ever again. Even if he’s desperate.
Your eyes scanned the heavy tomes in front of you once more while your brain tried to calculate the amount of work you were about to begin.
“Two months. Maybe three.” You answered, putting your hands into the pockets of your black zip up hoodie. “I can start tonight.”
“Three months per book or-”
“All of them. I need to print the pages and then bind them into a new book and that will also take some time- hence three months.” You explained, knowing perfectly well that you would probably do it in two months. That’s if you were able to hide from Wong that you worked using your astral form in your sleep. He would never let you hear the end of it if he found out. “Now let’s talk about payment.” You walked around the desk and sat down at a little armchair in the corner.
Stephen stood frozen in place, watching you making yourself comfortable. He felt embarrassed because he didn’t take into consideration that you would want money for your services. Now that he thought of it he felt stupid for not thinking about it. The sorcerer’s hand wandered up his neck, scratching the skin on his nape as if that would help him come up with a solution.
“Oh dear, I was just kidding!” You laughed, covering your mouth with your palm. “I don’t want your money, Doctor.”
Those words made Stephen breathe out in relief. “Are you sure? You said it will take you three months. It wouldn’t be fair of me to expect you to do this for free.” Yes, Stephen didn’t have money, but the thought of you getting nothing in return for your hard work rubbed him the wrong way.
“You really don’t need to worry about money, Doctor.” You stood up and walked up to the pile of books again, your fingers tracing the spines as you continued- “I want to do this for the sanctum. Besides you letting me stay here is already enough. Those books are for the sorcerer supreme only and I’m honoured that you’re entrusting me with them even though we don’t know each other.”
“I’m happy to hear that because we are broke.” Stephen said, causing you to laugh again. You were a very nice person and Stephen liked your personality a lot. Your aura was friendly and kind which was something this place really needed. “I guess that means you’re hired!” The sorcerer joked.
“Thank you, Doctor.”
“Please call me Stephen.”
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Rubbing your eyes, you leaned back in your chair. A little desk lamp and your laptop were the only sources of light in the library. You couldn’t tell how late it was but you knew you should stop and call it a day. In the first two weeks of your stay in New York you have already done more than you expected. If you kept up that pace you would be done in less than two months, but working all day since sunrise and then writing in your astral form all night wasn’t healthy. Plus Wong started to be suspicious and took your sling ring so astral projecting was off the table for a while.
As much as you loved peace and quiet, the sounds of New York’s nightlife made you a bit nostalgic. Honking of a car, laughter of tourists- things like that would annoy most people, especially at this hour, but you missed it. You missed this city. Maybe once you were done with your work in the sanctum you would stay for a bit longer. Just because. And to be completely honest you really missed hanging out with Wong. It felt like a family reunion and you loved it. You didn’t know how much you needed this until now. It felt so good to be with people who genuinely cared about you and wanted you around. You haven’t felt wanted ever since your failed relationship a year ago. It was a very disappointing experience that damaged your confidence, but thankfully Wong was there to help you pick up the broken pieces like a good friend. Nights like this one always send your mind in all the wrong places.
“Can’t sleep?” Stephen’s voice called from the entrance, making you jump in your chair. Your hand rested on your chest, feeling the rapid beat of your heart caused by the person standing in the doorway. “Didn’t mean to scare you.” He smiled apologetically and put some papers on the desk next to yours. “Isn’t it a bit too late for that?” The doctor pointed at the white screen of your laptop with a cup of tea in his hand.
“I was actually going to take a break.” You announced with a yawn and stretched your arms over your head so hard your whole body shook. “I don’t have much left though and I could always rest after it’s done.”
The sorcerer hummed, looking at your screen. “You want to tell me that you have almost translated the whole book?” His eyes moved between the laptop, your notes and the heavy tome laying on the desk.
“600 pages in less than two weeks?” Stephen took a sip of his already cold tea, cringing at the bitter taste.
“I'm actually finishing the second book.” You said, moving your arms around in hope it would ease the pain in your back. “Impressive, I know.” You joked, winking at the man sitting next to you.
“It actually is quite impressive.”
“My secret is Wong's black tea 5 times a day with three sugars and astral projection after midnight.” Stephen’s laugh echoed through the empty library, making you smile. The two of you didn’t spend much time together- he had his duties as sorcerer supreme and you were working on your translations. Neither of you wanted to disturb the other one. The only conversations you had so far were the ones around the dinner table with Wong. It was nice, but you wished you had more time to get to know Stephen. “Although he confiscated my sling ring so I can’t do that anymore.”
“It’s not healthy to use your astral form too often.” The man said, knowing he sounded like a hypocrite, but you didn’t have to know it. “Trust me, I’m a doctor.”
“Didn’t you use it every night back in Kamar- Taj to read?” You asked, amused by the look on Stephen's face.
“So he told you.”
“Wong tells me everything.” You grinned, narrowing your eyes playfully.
"Everything?" The doctor asked in a tone that sounded more like a dare. You weren't expecting the new sorcerer supreme to be such a chill person and you were glad that he liked to mess around sometimes. It made your stay at the sanctum a lot more fun than you thought it would be.
"Everything, including that one time you accidentally turned a student into a cat because you didn't read the spell correctly." You whispered, slowly gathering all of your notes and closing your laptop. You knew you wouldn't get anything else done that night. "But just so you know- Wong speaks very highly of you. He enjoys sharing those funny stories with me though."
"Good to know," Stephen grinned, feeling quite relieved that his colleague- friend- respects him beyond his occasional arrogance. "He has never told me anything about you before though." He said, sounding almost disappointed. Maybe Stephen and Wong weren't that close yet. They tend to talk about other students and masters, but never about their lives outside of the sorcery world. They should definitely change that.
"Is there anything you'd like to know, Doctor?" You stood up to throw away the pieces of paper that you didn't need anymore and stretched your legs a bit. It felt so good to move around like that after a whole day of sitting.
"It would be nice to get to know you better, but I think it's quite late and we both should be sleeping." The man said and yawned which made you yawn, too. Yeah, it was really late.
"I think you're right. I can barely keep my eyes open, let alone hold a conversation." Looking down at the desk you decided to clean the rest tomorrow. It wasn't going to run away.
"You could take a free day tomorrow and accompany me to London." Stephen suggested. You were a really nice person and the sorcerer liked your friendly spirit. You liked to joke around- even with Wong- and Stephen would lie if he said that he didn't wish for you to stay longer. He didn't feel so lonely with you around. Yes, you didn't talk much but he knew that you were always in the library with Wong and it made this place less…. lonely.
"I would like that! I haven't been to London in ages."
"Let me walk you to your door." The Doctor said, offering you his arm with a playful little bow.
The two of you stayed silent while you walked- neither of you had enough energy to talk anymore. The sound of your synchronised steps echoed through the empty halls. The distance from the library to your bedroom wasn't too long but it felt like eternity to get there. A free day was probably a good idea- you could feel the effects of your constant work and seriously needed a day to yourself.
The only words spoken between you were the whispered goodnights and the sanctum was dead silent again.
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"You want to tell me that one day you just went on a walk and accidentally walked into the sanctum in Hong Kong?" Stephen asked, taking a bite of his sandwich.
The two of you decided to have brunch in a little cafe near the park- for you it was more like breakfast, but there was a 6 hour difference between NYC and London. The place was lovely and the chilly weather of early spring in England combined with the beautiful scenery of trees and the river made you smile.
You took a sip of your tea and smiled at the memory.
"I was a kid and didn't know I wasn't allowed there." You explained, trying to make sense of your actions from the past. "I was 8 and got bored so my grandmother told me to go play with other kids, but I got lost on my way to the playground and ended up in the sanctum." Stephen watched you carefully which meant he was really interested in the story. He rested his cheek on his hand and you continued, " I got really scared because I realised that I wasn't supposed to be there and when someone tried to talk to me I ran and hid in the library-" you had to laugh at that. Little you were terrified, but the older you found the story hilarious. "Wong found me an hour later crying under the desk and then walked me home."
"That's an adventure." The doctor laughed- the wrinkles under his eyes made themselves more prominent. It suited him. Happiness suited him.
"My grandma then made cookies and told me to give them to the nice man who got me back home." You smiled and took another sip of your drink. "And then I just kept coming there whenever I had time and hung out with Wong in the library. He made me his apprentice- although he was still just a student himself. I insisted and he couldn't get rid of me."
"Really?" The sorcerer would love to see the little you annoying Wong so much he had to make you his apprentice to shut you up.
"No, he actually asked if I wanted to study under him."
"Did you say yes?" A sudden blow of cold wind made the sorcerer shiver, but he didn't pay much attention to it. Talking with you felt so natural and it felt like you've been friends forever. It was nice to have this connection with someone. Stephen really needed to feel normal every once in a while and sitting with you outside of a cafe on a chilly afternoon in London made him feel normal.
"Take a guess, doctor."
"Right, that was a stupid question." Strange grinned, hiding his face in the hoodie he wore to shield himself from the wind. Stephen could tell you he wanted to go inside, but you seemed to enjoy the chilly weather. He wouldn't die if the wind picked up every now and then.
"There are no stupid questions." You said, playing with the remains of your tea that were too cold to enjoy anymore.
"I like your mindset, but as someone who worked in medicine for years I can tell you that some people ask very stupid questions."
"I can only imagine."
"So why is it that I have never met you before. I was in Kamar-Taj for a very long time and I visit other sanctums whenever I need to, which is pretty often." The doctor was curious how he managed to not see you even once during his stay in all those places.
"Oh, I left the sorcery world when I was older because I got into a university in Scotland. I still kept in touch with Wong and some other masters though. I even visited New York last year but it was only for the weekend and you weren't there."
"What did you study?"
"You will never believe when I tell you." You wiggled your eyebrows with a smirk on your face.
"Surprise me." Steohen said, already suspecting what your answer was going to be.
"I studied ancient languages and became a translator for an archeology centre in Greece when I graduated." You didn’t mention to him that you quit working in said centre after one of your colleagues broke your heart into a million pieces and walked all over it. He didn’t have to know about your failed romances. At least not yet.
"No way." The doctor fake gasped causing you to laugh again.
"Shocking, I know."
"I would have never expected it." He kept playing along, amused by your silly shenanigans. "Why languages? Was it like your passion or a hobby?" He asked, coming back to his more serious self.
"I always learned fast- I took Latin in school and then thought it would be fun to learn similar languages so my mom signed me up for French classes, I learned Spanish at home because I was tired of French and then took Swedish to change things a bit. Then there was Japanese, Korean and Hindu. And then when I started spending more time in Kamar-Taj I thought it would be very fun to be fluent in languages no one speaks anymore. It all just came natural to me. I was good at it so I decided to do it for a living." You explained; your gaze getting lost in the picture of the clouds changing their shapes. Taking a deep breath you tried to think of a good topic of conversation, but Stephen beat you to it and spoke again.
"That's really interesting. Your brain is fascinating."
"My brain you say?" You remembered that he used to be a doctor from what Wong told you, but you didn't know what kind.
"I mean- you possess so much knowledge I can only imagine how amazing your neural connections must be." Stephen continued, his hands flying around as the words left his mouth.
"That is the strangest compliment I have ever gotten- I love it." You put your hand on your chest, trying to show your gratitude. "Pun not intended."
Your afternoon was filled with fluid conversations that seemed to have no end. Stephen asked about your family, friends, hobbies. Being your polite self you asked them the same questions and found things that Wong didn't tell you.
For example, the sorcerer supreme used to play piano and was pretty good at it. His love for music extended farther than just listening to sounds- he also liked to create them. The doctor hid it well, but you could see the sadness in his eyes when he told you about his musical skills. It was because of his hands- that was for sure. They wandered down under the table, hiding from your eyes as he spoke about his passions. You had scars of your own- you understood the struggle.
But it was still painful to see- ever since you met him Stephen was nothing but confident in everything he did. Sometimes he walked the thin line between confidence and arrogance, but it was a part of his charm. He never was an asshole- not to you, not to Wong. Not even to that kid who tried to put graffiti on the sanctum's walls two days ago. At the end of the day Stephen- although still very much powerful- was just a man. A human being with insecurities.
"Did you play the banjo as well?" You asked resting your chin on your fist- elbows on the table.
"Just because I'm from Nebraska doesn't mean I know how to play the banjo." Stephen defended himself, throwing his hands in the air dramatically.
"Answer my question, Stephen." You demented, pointing a finger at him and trying to hold in your laughter. Stephen's lips formed a thin line. The red on his cheeks became more prominent- maybe it was the cold.
"Yes." The sorcerer mumbled.
"What was that?"
"I won't repeat myself."
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You’ve been in the New York sanctum for over a month now and it was the first time ever that all of you were in the library at the same time. Right after your morning tea the three of you headed there to do your own things- you wanted to finish translating the book on interdimensional herbs, Wong was going to fix a spine of his book of shadows meanwhile Stephen was trying to upgrade some spell. It was quiet, but very cosy. Almost domestic if you dared say that.
Speaking of Stephen- ever since that day in London you became pretty good friends. He talked to you more, made sure you took breaks when working. Sometimes he would invite you to go grocery shopping with him and Wong. Yeah, it was really domestic. You never expected the sorcerer supreme to be so friendly towards you, but you were glad he proved you wrong. You were happy to have a friend like him. This place really felt like home when Wong and Stephen were there with you. You really felt wanted.
Wong was basically family to you and you always felt wanted around him, but it really surprised you how hard Stephen was trying to make you feel at home. Making your favourite food for dinner, taking you on walks. One time you and the doctor were talking about movies and he even suggested a movie night. You accidentally fell asleep on his shoulder that time and Wong took a photo of it. It looked pretty cute- you had to admit that. But the more you looked at that polaroid- or thought about everything you did with Stephen- you realised that there might be something more between the two of you than friendship.
You saw each other every day- talked every day- for over a month now. Just a month but it felt like years. It scared you a bit. How quickly you were developing a crush on this man. And it wasn’t like you didn’t want to get involved with him romantically- Stephen was a great person. But your last relationship left a hole in your heart and even though a lot of time had passed since that failed romance you were still weary when it came to dating. Especially if the person of your interest was the most powerful sorcerer that you have met only a month ago! Plus you were literally working for this man.
It was a shame that you had to leave so soon. After you got your sling ring back you continued to work 24/7, translating 15 books in two weeks which was your new record. Wong had volunteered to book-bind a few pages, making your job even easier. Meaning that you would be done even faster. To be honest you didn’t want to go back to your job in ‘real life’. Yes, you loved it, but you didn’t realise how much you missed the world of sorcery until now.
You were torn between wanting to be a sorcerer again and having a normal life. Your fingers stopped typing as your eyes stared at the bright screen of your laptop- not really focusing on anything. The sound of your keyboard had been the only thing filling the silence. Now the air in the room was dead and empty. Looking around you watched as the two men worked on their own things and decided to take a short break- make some tea for the boys, stretch, think about your future. Stuff like that. And so you left quietly, knowing that neither of them probably even noticed that you were gone.
Little did you know that one of your friends was watching you all the time. Wong sensed that something wasn't right. The moment you picked up another book to translate your mood shifted. It was odd and Wong didn’t like seeing you like this.
“SHIT!” you shrieked as you turned around and saw the librarian, standing in the kitchen doorway. “I could have dropped the kettle!”
“Didn’t mean to scare you.” The man apologised and sat down at the table, trying to figure out how to even start this conversation with you. Deciding it would be easier to just rip the bandaid off he spoke again. “You seem sad today. Is everything alright?”
The question surprised you. “I didn’t think you’d notice.” You didn’t disagree. You didn’t see the point in hiding your feelings and you had always trusted Wong. You could tell him everything without the fear of being judged.
“I wanted to get this job done as quickly as possible-” you said, fiddling with the kettle in your hands. “And now that I'm almost done I don’t think I want to leave.”
“Then stay.” He smiled at the thought of you living in the sanctum again. This last month reminded Wong of the good old days when you used to share a house and do all kinds of stuff together from practising spells to folding laundry.
“Do you think Stephen would allow it?” you asked, shyly. The doctor was in charge of the sanctum after all so it all depended on him and his decision.
“He adores you! Of course he would allow it.” The librarian rolled his eyes when he said the word ‘adore’ which made your face feel a little bit warmer for some reason. “Just ask him about it. He will be thrilled to hear that you’re staying.”
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Another week passed and you still haven’t asked Stephen. Wong’s words made you rethink some things and reflect on everything that happened in the last month. Closing the book you’ve been working on for the past two days you realised that there’s only one of them left.
Your friend’s words played in your brain like a broken record.
‘He adores you’
You didn’t want that.
Okay, maybe you did, but you weren’t ready for that yet. You weren’t ready to get your heart broken again. Besides you weren’t planning on staying any longer than necessary so why even worry about it?
Laying on your bed, you stared at the white ceiling, trying to come up with a solution to your- not so little- problem when a knock on your door pulled you out of your head.
“Hi.” Stephen whispered- his head peeking from behind the door. “I saw the light in your room was still on and wanted to check on you.” The sorcerer invited himself in and leaned his shoulder on the wall.
Your eyes fell on the jar of cookies he was holding in his hands. Stephen’s gaze followed yours and the doctor smirked.
“I was going to eat them alone, but since I’m already here would you like one?” He said, taking a step forward and sitting at the edge of your bed. You moved, too- your back straight against the headboard. It created more distance between you which wasn’t really intentional, but you were glad that there was a bit more space. Of course you would love nothing more than to get closer to Stephen, but it was all happening so quickly. And you hated yourself for feeling that way.
“So…” The jar lid popped open and your friend took two cookies out of it, handing you one with a silent question. You took it without thinking twice; your fingers brushed and a shiver went down your spine. “You couldn’t sleep again?”
You signed, taking a bite and not really caring about the crumbs on your sheets.
“Not really.” You managed to say between the bites. Stephen observed you carefully- almost like he was studying your face and all your movements. You had plenty of conversations that started in this exact way. Usually you would talk the night away, but you weren’t in the mood to talk for so long.
“Is everything alright?” The sorcerer’s voice echoed through the room- it was deep and very soft. You loved listening to him talk, not only because you liked how his voice sounded, but also because he was always very nice to you when you two talked.
“Why shouldn’t it be?” You raised your brow, hugging your knees close to your chest to get some comfort.
“Wong said you’ve been ignoring him. And you’ve been ignoring me, too.” The doctor mimicked your pose, now fully sitting on your bed. “I know we don’t know each other as long as you and Wong do, but I still care about you. You are my guest and I would be a horrible host if I didn’t care about your wellbeing.”
You knew he said it to make you feel better- to make sure that you knew that you could trust him. And you did. You trusted Stephen. But not with your feelings. You weren’t even sure what those feelings were.
Were you just excited that you made a new friend and mistook that excitement for romantic attraction? He gave you his attention, but this was what people did when they wanted to be friends with someone. Strange smiled at you once and you were convinced you developed a crush on him. It was pathetic how much you craved love that you were seeing it everywhere even if it wasn’t true.That was probably the reason your last relationship was a disaster. You went into it too quickly and then were surprised that it didn’t work out. You needed more time to think about it- your feelings for Stephen. He was a good friend and you would hate to lose that.
“I really appreciate it, Stephen.” You said with a genuine smile on your face. There was still some uncertainty in your eyes. “I think I’m just a little tired. I tend to overwork myself sometimes.”
“That makes the two of us then.” He smirked and pulled out another cookie. Stephen handed you the jar and you moved closer to him, decreasing the gap between your bodies. “I saw that you have just one book left to translate.”
“Yeah-” You sighed a bit too loud, ignoring the sorcerer’s gaze. “Wong said he would bind them all so I will probably be gone by the end of the next week.” You said, feeling a weird squeeze in your chest. You didn’t know why you felt like that. You leaving wouldn’t be the end of the world! You would still keep in touch with Wong- you have for all those years. So why was it affecting you so much this time?
Stephen stood up, clearing his throat quietly. The man stood up, leaving the cookie jar on your blanket and wiped his hands clean on his pyjama pants.
“You are welcome to stay longer if you want.” The doctor announced and slowly made his way to the door. “Wong and I- we love having you around. I wanted you to know that.”
Stephen left, letting you be alone with your thoughts.
⨯ . ⁺ ✦ ⊹ ꙳ ⁺ ‧ ⨯. ⁺ ✦ ⊹ . * ꙳ ✦ ⊹
“Do you really want to go back to your old job though?” Wong asked, taking a sip of his morning tea. You liked to talk about many things with him, especially in the morning while you prepared breakfast. But the topic of your old job was making you nervous. It wasn’t really about the job itself- you liked what you were doing. The issue was people- or rather a person- who was still working there. It’s been almost a year since you left and your side gigs couldn’t pay all of your bills. You were happy when Wong called you and asked if you could come by to help translate some stuff, but you were here almost two months and felt like you should leave soon. You wouldn’t have to figure out your feelings for Stepehn if he wasn’t around.
“I have to make money somehow.” You flipped a pancake and put on a fake smile.
“You could find something here in New York. And you wouldn’t have to worry about rent since you’d be living here.” Your friend proposed.
It wasn’t a bad idea- now that you think of it it was an excellent idea. You really couldn’t argue with that.
“I will think about it.”
“That’s all you’ve been doing lately.”
Why was it so hard for you to open up to Wong now? You never had a problem with that before. Taking a deep breath you decided to rip the bandaid off.
“I think I have feelings for Stephen.” You breathed out, looking at your dear friend and waiting for his response. All you got was a hysterical laugh.
“That’s a good one!” Wong said, slapping his knee repeatedly. “Oh dear, I love your jokes.”
But you didn’t laugh.
“No- you’re-” the librarian lowered his tone, almost whispering. “No.”
“Are you sure?”
That was a good question. Were you sure?
“I don’t know.” A tear rolled down your face- you didn’t even know why you were so emotional about it. You didn’t even know for sure and you were making such a scene. Putting your face in your hands you shook your head and cried. “I don’t know, Wong!”
You were trembling and breathing heavily in your friend’s arms and didn’t even notice that you were walking somewhere- the librarian guiding you. You couldn’t see well because of the tears, but you recognised the outline of your room. Your knees hit something soft and if Wong didn’t turn you around you would flop on the bed face first.
It took you half an hour to calm down.
You missed breakfast that day, too.
⨯ . ⁺ ✦ ⊹ ꙳ ⁺ ‧ ⨯. ⁺ ✦ ⊹ . * ꙳ ✦ ⊹
Taking a deep breath you put your sweater on and exit the library. You tried to do something productive, but nothing was going your way today. First the fiasco in the kitchen, then you isolating for the rest of your day and now sneaking out to the library when everyone else was asleep. What was going on with you?
Your stomach spoke, demanding food. You weren’t surprised- you haven’t eaten anything at all. And you really should do that. You can’t keep destroying yourself because of one tiny inconvenience.
Your bare feet walked through the wooden floors leading to the small kitchen you love so much.
“Midnight snack?” Someone spoke, making you jump and bump your leg into a chair. “I’m so sorry.” The familiar voice apologised, gently putting a hand on your shoulder to see if everything was alright. “I thought you saw me.”
“It’s fine.” You shrugged it off, massaging your knee to ease the pain a little. “I wasn’t paying attention.” You straightened your back and realised how close to you Stephen was.
Your heart skipped a beat.
“Would you like some tea? I was gonna make myself a cup.” The sorcerer proposed, taking a step back and giving you space.
Playing with the sleeves of our sweater you jumped on the counter- your favourite place to sit- and nodded. “I would kill for a cup of tea right now.”
“No killing will be necessary. I will do it willingly.” Stephen smirked, taking two ceramic mugs out of the upper cupboard. You noticed that one of them was your favourite mug- you used it literally every day and Stephen was a very observant person so it shouldn’t be surprising that he knew what you used to drink and from where. “The usual?” He asked, throwing a kitchen towel over his shoulder like a bartender, making you giggle.
“Make it double.” You said, playing along.
“So what brings you here at this hour?” The doctor asked, pouring the hot water into your mugs and then putting the tea inside.
“I wanted to get some work done, but I couldn’t focus.” You explained. Your friend handed you your tea and you thanked him with a shy smile.
“Wong said you had a really bad anxiety attack this morning-” the man hopped on the counter right next to you, his baby blues looking at you with some kind of softness you haven’t seen in him before. “-and I know you probably don’t want to talk about it which is fine-” he spoke, not really knowing where he was going with it. He wanted to make you feel better, but Stephen wasn’t the best at expressing his emotions. He was going to try though. For you. “-but i want you to know that you can trust me and I can find you some professional help if you need it. I know a few people who would be able to help.”
“I don’t-” you tried to defend yourself, but your voice shook. “I’m not crazy. I don’t need it!”
“Where is this coming from?” The doctor asked, confused . “Therapy can be for everyone no matter what and there’s nothing wrong with getting help.” He turned to you to get a better look at your face. He looked surprised by your little outburst, but he knew there was more to the story.
“You think so?” Suddenly you felt small. You have been to therapy before, but your ex wasn’t really supportive of that. You were called a variety of names. You were shamed and gaslighted into believing that you seeking help was a sign of weakness. That’s why you stopped going. You stopped taking your meds. And when you hit the rock bottom your partner decided that you weren’t worth all the trouble and left. You were scared of asking for help again- it was a weird fear, but it just wouldn’t let go of you.
“I know it.” Stephen’s gentle voice made you tear up a bit. “I’m no psychologist, but I have contacts. If you want I can accompany you to the first session. Or Wong.” He put your arm around you, drawing random shapes on your shoulder in a soothing motion.
You gave in and embraced him, throwing your arms around his neck and sobbing quietly.
“Thank you, Stephen.” You whispered and felt his hold on you tightening.
“Did anyone ever tell you that it was wrong to go to therapy?” The doctor asked in a hushed voice. He didn’t break the hug.
“You could say that.” You sniffled, face still hiding in his chest. You were sure there was already a wet spot from all your tears on his shirt. “An ex of mine had very strong opinions about me taking meds and going to therapy.”
“What a dick.” Stephen huffed, anger radiated from him. If he ever met that person he would send them to some crazy dimensions to fuck with their mind. “They didn’t deserve you.”
“There’s a reason this person is an ex.” You smiled sadly and took a deep breath. “Wong had already kicked that asshole’s butt so don’t worry.” You giggled at the memory. Violence was never the answer, but in that case it was really appreciated. “But ever since then I was kinda scared of reaching out, you know?”
“I’m sorry to hear that.” Your friend’s hand wandered from your shoulder up to your hair and gently massaged your scalp, making you melt in his arms. “I will make some calls first thing in the morning. You should see someone as soon as possible. Especially if you need medication.” He said. You could hear the determination in his voice. Stephen was nothing like your last partner. He really cared. He supported you and wanted the best for you. And even if there could never be anything more than friendship between you you would still be happy to have him in your life. “When was the last time you took your meds.”
"I'm embarrassed to say." You straightened your back and let your hands fall from Stephen's neck. He was still holding you, knowing you still needed some comfort.
"You don't have to tell me, but please mention it to your therapist, okay?" The sorcerer gave your shoulder a light pat and hopped off the counter. "Our tea is getting cold." You smiled and followed your friend to sit at the table. You saw him taking a sip from his tea and cringe. "The bags were in the water for too long. It's really bitter."
You sighed, putting the mugs in the sink. It was probably a sign that you should go back to your room.
"There's a place 3 blocks away with great Thai food." Strange looked at you with a silent question. You couldn't say no to food, but you weren't sure if it was a good idea to go out so late. "They also have great tea and I know for a fact that they are still open." He sensed your hesitation, but refused to leave you alone in your room with your thoughts. You had to get away from here- even if it was just for a few minutes. "I'm paying."
⨯ . ⁺ ✦ ⊹ ꙳ ⁺ ‧ ⨯. ⁺ ✦ ⊹ . * ꙳ ✦ ⊹
Walking side by side with Stephen, your arms in your pockets to shield them from the cold midnight air, you looked around to see plenty of people doing all kinds of stuff. New York truly never slept. It was a part of its charm.
The doctor offered you his arm when a group of tourists passed through the crowd, almost pulling you in with them. You liked big cities, but you absolutely hated the crowds. You hooked your hand in the place between Stephen's arm and his elbow, holding it tightly. It didn’t take long for you to get to the restaurant Stephen told you about. You visited many places like this with the boys when neither of you wanted to cook anything, but this building wasn’t familiar to you.
Stephen opened the door for you like the gentleman he was and as you stepped inside you were hit with a variety of smells. Your stomach reminded you of its existence once more and you were sure everyone in the room could hear it.
Your friend waved his hand at the older lady behind the counter with a smile on his face. He gestured at the small table in the corner- hidden from everyone’s eyes- and took your jacket. Taking two menus from the wooden napkin holder in the middle of your table, Stephen handed you one, his cold fingers leaving a feather-like sensation on your palm.
“Their green curry is delicious.” The sorcerer said, turning his menu around and pointing at the picture on top.
“I will have to take your word for that, Doctor.” You smirked actually feeling some happiness in you after the entire day of sleeping in your depression cave you called the bedroom.
“What tea would you like?” He asked, tapping a finger on his knee to the beat of the song playing from the radio. Your eyes scanned the pages of the little book in your hands. Stephen was watching you while you tried to make a choice. You looked adorable with your hair a bit messy from the wind, biting your lip deep in thought. The sorcerer smiled- you couldn’t see it, but the look he gave you was full of adoration.
“I think I will get the Thai Ice Tea.” You announced, putting your menu aside. Turning your head to face Stephen you noticed that he was staring and immediately became self conscious. “Do I have something on my face?”
“What? No it’s just-” The doctor straightened his back, blushing. The awkward pause between you was interrupted by the waitress who appeared at your table.
“Stephen! It’s so good to see you here, honey.” The older woman you saw earlier behind the counter pinched the man’s cheek in an affectionate manner. The sorcerer groaned, but couldn’t hide the smile on his face. “What can I get you today, sweetie?”
“It’s good to see you too, Malee. You look beautiful as ever.” The doctor leaned back in his chair and put on his charming smile. “Did you get a haircut?”
“Oh, I did!” the woman giggled, taking a pen out of her pocket. “But the flattery won’t give you a discount.”
“It was worth a try.” The sorcerer shrugged. You watched this exchange with a huge grin. You were enjoying their little interaction. It was kinda sweet. “We would like two plates of green curry and two ice teas.”
Malee quickly wrote down your order and put the pen back into the pocket of her jeans. “I will bring you your drinks right away.” She said, tugging her long grey hair behind her ear.
“I will go get them, just tell me when they’re done!” Stephen called as the woman walked through the door leading to the kitchen. “She has really weak hands, she shouldn’t carry anything heavy.” Your friend explained, turning back to you.
“She’s a lovely lady.” You mentioned, trying to change the subject. You wanted to keep a steady conversation, fearing that if you fell silent your thoughts would spiral in the wrong direction again. “Very lively.”
“She is just the sweetest.” The doctor’s smile made the wrinkles under his eyes stand out. He looked good like that. “Wong and I come here very often when we pull all-nighters.”
“I can see why.” You looked around, your eyes scanning the art on the walls and the curtains that matched the floor. “It’s very cosy here.”
You didn’t realise it, but you were swaying to the music playing through the speakers. You were enjoying the moment of peace and Stephen’s presence helped with that a lot. You also didn’t notice when the sorcerer stood up to get your tea. He put the glasses on the table and gave you a smile. A teenage boy walked behind him with a tray of your food. And oh, you were so excited to finally eat something after a long day. You were all set when Melee came up to you with a little candle and matches. She put it in the middle of the table, surprising both you and Stephen.
“Enjoy your date.” She winked at you and left, leaving both of you out of words.
“I just want to clarify that I didn’t intend for it to be a date.” Stephen said, awkwardly scratching his neck.
“Oh, yeah. I-” You didn’t want to let it show, but you were a little hurt by his response.
“It’s just- you had a really rough night and I-I wanted to provide some comfort.” The sorcerer explained, stumbling over his own words.
“I understand, Stephen. It’s really okay.” You took a sip of your tea- the flavours melting on your tongue made your stomach calm down a bit. You were fighting back your tears- you didn’t want to ruin the night even more.
“And besides, a restaurant seems a little cliche for a date.” The doctor cleared his throat and took a fork in his right hand. “If I was to ask you out on a date it would be something special.” He mumbled, but you heard him perfectly clear. “If you agreed, of course.”
“Really?” You asked- your voice still felt weak, but there was a bit of hope behind your eyes. “You would ask me on a date if you knew I would say yes?”
“I would ask you regardless of your answer and handle rejection like a big boy.” He said in a joking tone, but you knew he meant that. “But the timing doesn’t seem right right now, does it?” He smiled sadly at you and got busy with his food.
“What do you mean by that?” You asked, trying to decipher the meaning of Stephen’s words.
“I mean-” Your friend took a deep breath, looking you deep in the eyes. “You are still working for me. You are also living in a place where I’m technically the boss. I’m about to help you find a therapist.” Stephen explained. “I don’t want you to feel obligated to agree to go on a date with me just because you feel like you should.”
You were taken aback by this answer- not in a bad way. It showed that Stephen really cared about you. You never felt like you owed him anything, but he took your valuable state of mind into consideration which made you feel really appreciated. He wanted to make sure that you would feel comfortable in this relationship- that you wouldn’t feel trapped and obligated to being with him.
“I really appreciate that, Stephen.” You smiled, taking a spoonful of rice. “I wouldn’t say no if you asked me- not because I live under your roof. You are a great man and anyone would be lucky to have you.” A familiar warmth creeped up your face. It made you feel like a middle school child having their very first crush.
Stephen’s eyes shyly wandered around the room. Your words made his heart beat faster. He had to run the conversation in his head twice to make sure you really just said what he thought you said. The sorcerer wasn’t the best at showing his feelings- especially romantic ones- but with you it seemed to be much easier.
“I guess we’ll just have to wait and see where it gets us.” Strange replied, looking at you one more time. You locked eyes and smiled.
And for the first time in ages you didn’t worry about the future.
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“How was your session today?” Wong greeted you with a hug and a cup of fresh tea as you entered the kitchen. The smell of cheese hit your nostrils, making you salivate. Home sweet home.
“It was pretty good.” You said, taking a sip of your hot beverage.”I will probably get new meds soon.”
“That’s fantastic!” The librarian cheered.
Ever since Stephen helped you start therapy again you became more alive. You didn’t realise how much stuff affected your mental health until now. You’ve been going to that Doctor for 3 months now and you couldn’t believe how much changed in such a short amount of time. You were going easy on yourself- you were slowly unlearning your old self destructive behaviours like working 24/7 without a break or bottling up your emotions. Wong was very supportive and helped in any way he could. In some way your therapy helped him relax a bit. He promised to take you on a hike every weekend- something you loved doing when you were younger- and he didn’t say it often, but he loved that, too. It was your quality time with Wong. Even if he had a ton of work to do he always made sure to finish before the weekend, not wanting to miss that time with you.
And then there was Stephen. You’ve been in New York for almost 6 months now and Stephen was nothing but kind to you. Your relationship progressed very quickly and the two of you became best friends in no time. Of course there was still the question of your feelings, but you both agreed to give it time. But with every passing day you fell more and more for him. Little did you know that the sorcerer supreme felt the same way. He was still shy around you at times, but you always made sure you were both comfortable no matter what you were doing. You spent plenty of time together from practising spells to watching movies. You cherished all these moments.
You finished translating the last book a few weeks ago- Stephen and Wong insisted that you take a break and focus on your health. Work could always wait. The librarian convinced you to let him bind those books by himself so that you could have more free time. Those guys were the best thing that had ever happened to you.
“Is that lasagna I smell?” The doctor walked into the kitchen through a portal and took a seat right next to you.
“It is!” Wong said, proudly as he took the dish out of the oven and put it on the table. “Did you bring the wine?” He asked, looking around in hope to find a bottle.
“I didn’t know you wanted me to.” Stephen said, setting the table for the three of you. “I can go get it. There’s a few more bottles in the basement.”
“No, it’s fine. I will get them.” The librarian said and walked out of the room. He used it as an excuse to leave you and Stephe alone but you didn’t have to know that.
“I heard your session went well today.” The sorcerer spoke, sitting down on his chair.
“It really did.” You smiled, following his lead.
“What are your plans for today?” Your friend asked, wanting to make some small talk before executing his little plan and asking you out. This time officially.
“Oh, I think I have a date.” You said with a sprinkle of uncertainty in your voice.
Stephen was stunned by your answer- a little bit hurt, too. It wasn’t like you had swore to go on a date with him, but the things were going so well between you the doctor assumed you felt the same. Apparently that wasn’t the case and Stephen respected your decision.
“Oh, a date?”
“Yeah, I don’t know if he agrees though. He’s kinda busy with sorcery stuff and all that.” You bit your lip, trying to stop yourself from smiling.
Stephen exhaled in relief, with a smirk on his face.
“I’m sure he will find some time for you.” He announced, playing along. “He already cleared out his schedule for you.”
You giggled like a little kid, taking Stephen’s hand in yours and placing a gentle kiss on his knuckles. “It’s a date then, doctor.”
“I believe it is.”
⨯ . ⁺ ✦ ⊹ ꙳ ⁺ ‧ ⨯. ⁺ ✦ ⊹ . * ꙳ ✦ ⊹
Stephen Strange Tag List: @gaitwae @funsized-mimi @queenjosielaufeyson @mischiefmanaged71 @eternal-silvertongued-prince @thatasgardianprince
dreamy drabble for @mym-senpai
akaashi keiji + friends to lovers troupe!
notes: writing this made me realize two things: akaashi reminds me of myself, but you, based off of what you said, in a way remind me of bokuto so reading into these characters here is quite interesting actually. i'm so sorry this took forever to do, i have never written fully for akaashi, but i hope you enjoy!
word count: a whopping 3.4k :| idk how to shut up
akaashi keiji has been losing sleep.
this has nothing to do with the fact that his job as a manga editor keeps him up at night, with deadlines always creeping up on him always sooner than he thinks. nothing to do with the fact that he's running out of instant coffee to make at home. and nothing to do with the fact that bokuto needs to get his taxes filed by him within the next two weeks.
it has everything to do with the fact that he fears he's drifting away from you.
in many aspects, you remind him of bokuto. bubbly personality, easily distracted, and overall full of energy. there's never a dull moment around you and that's what akaashi enjoyed most about you. at times when he felt that his own world is too grey, you come to light it up with the most spectacular being--you.
before becoming roommates, you and akaashi were already best friends. and have been since you were both small kids. you both know everything that there is to know about each other.
but rooming with you in an apartment has been quite the experience, because akaashi has the great pleasure of seeing you every day now. he gets to see domestic you, curled up on the couch in nothing but an oversized sweatshirt (one that usually was his, but he never says anything) and shorts, witnessing you panic when you burn breakfast, just to have him calm you down before taking the two of you out to eat, and gently reminding you—repeatedly—to squeeze the tube of toothpaste from the bottom up and not from the middle.
but akaashi realizes he's in too deep. he realizes that everything he feels for you is treading more so than just a friendship.
akaashi's not even sure when it happened. but if he had to pinpoint a moment, he happened to be hanging out with kuroo and bokuto one day. he was rambling passively about how you left your curling iron plugged in still and he had the unfortunate instance of touching it by mistake. the two made fun of him for it to the man's displeasure and laughed.
kuroo spoke up over the dying laughter, "y/n is almost worst than bokuto, why do you still put up with her?"
after a series of bokuto's protests, akaashi reponded, "i'm not 'putting up with her', i just have to remind her of things. she doesn't mean to be forgetful."
"you sound whipped, man. that's all i can say." kuroo shrugs before crossing his arms.
akaashi's eye twitched, "i'm not 'whipped'—"
"akaashi! you never were that patient with me! it sounds like y/n gets special treatment from you, but what about me?" bokuto pouts.
"bokuto, i thought you said that you're 'normal' now. do you think 'normal' people need special treatment?" akaashi asks.
"oh, right!" bokuto says, but then tilts his head, "but doesn't that jus’ support what kuroo said about you being whipped? because then she would be 'special', right?"
the ravenette blinks, startled that the owlish man made such an inference. it made him nervous that even bokuto noticed how he treated you. he always thought he was discreet in how he went about interacting with you since bokuto never mentioned anything.
"i always thought you would confess to her in high school—no middle school. it wasn't fun third wheeling all the time..."
akaashi would love to confess but the thing holding him back was the fear of potentially losing you as a friend. he doesn’t know how things could be if you reject his confession. he wouldn’t hold it against you, but his heart is more fragile than he realizes and he doesn’t know how he’d react or how pained it would make him.
and so out of sheer panic, akaashi pushed you away slightly, and that is why he fears that he's losing you, his best friend. he wants to curse the feelings that he has for you for making so many things a lot more complicated--or at least that's what he thinks. he doesn't know how to get through the day without feeling a particular ache in his chest at the thought of growing more in love with you, but also more in fear at the fact that he doesn't think you reciprocate his feelings.
coming home after work, he finds you curled up on the couch, a random movie playing on the screen as you sleep soundly. he looks over your figure fondly, the urge to hold and caress you high. he decides after a while that it would be best to move you from the couch to your bed. the position you're currently sleeping in couldn't be anything close to comfortable. you're sure to get a bad crook in your neck when you wake up.
he gently lifts you up, keeping the blanket you're covered up in wrapped around you. his breath hitches when he sees you squirm in his arms but a sigh of relief escapes him when he sees you stop moving.
he pushes your door open before gently laying you down on the bed. he looks over you to make sure your okay, but while he does, you stir awake.
"keiji?" you call, drowsiness laced in your voice. he watches as you cutely rub away any existing sleep decorating your eyes and whine in distraught over a knot in your neck.
“hi,” he breathes, speaking softly to not startle you too much. “i’m sorry for waking you, i just moved you to your bed since you fell asleep on the couch.”
you sit up, smiling sleepily before kissing his cheek as a thank you. he breath hitches. it wasn’t uncommon for you to kiss his cheek. you’d always done it, albeit platonically. but what’s different now is that he’s craving kisses in other places. kisses that would last longer than the last.
“hey,” you snap him out of his thoughts, “what’s wrong?”
"it's nothing." he answers, worried that you would see his pink, flushed cheeks.
he knows that he shouldn't feel this way, but his brain does not want to cooperate. the taunting words whispering in his mind tell him a different story than the one that's true to what's right in front of him. it pains him and leaves him frustrated. not with you of course, but with himself.
"it's clearly not nothing if it's bothering you." he can make out the outline of your figure moving towards him. you prop up on your knees before reaching to brush back some of his hair. “i can see you thinking hard right now.”
“just work. it’s been stressful lately.” that isn’t a complete lie, either. rather than deal with his feelings, the man has been burying himself into his work. tenma often has to kick him out of the office.
“let’s go out tomorrow!” you suggest, “you could use a break, and i think we should go to the mall. me, you, and bokuto too! it’s been forever since we all hung out.”
akaashi can’t lie—he doesn’t want bokuto to come, if it was just you and him he’d be on top of the world right now. but how can he explain that?
“i don’t know, i—” he sees the puppy eyes you give him and sighs, “okay, i’ll go.”
and so akaashi's long streak of avoiding you comes to an end. you complained about needing new clothes, especially since bokuto didn't need very much but tagged along anyways since he never wants to miss an opportunity to hangout with two of his closest friends.
he’s much more quiet than you and bokuto, who as the sight of you picked you up and spun you around.
“you’re still so short!” he exclaims, patting the top of your head. he doesn’t hesitate to hug akaashi as well, beaming about how much he missed him, and akaashi tells him he feels the exact same way.
bokuto thrusts out two steaming cups.
“look, i got you guys coffee! they had free drinks at the new cafe that just opened!” bokuto explains, holding out them out.
before you can breathe a word, akaashi speaks. "she doesn't like coffee." he snatches the cup from bokuto's hand. "besides, if you give her any she won't sleep for a whole day." he shudders at the memory of this. he'll never forget having to take care of you that day.
"oh, sorry!" bokuto says, bowing in apology. he looks glum and akaashi just might mistake him for a kicked puppy.
“it’s okay, kou! you didn’t mean any harm.” you kiss his cheek and bokuto brightens, his smile returning. akaashi’s expression is unreadable but he feels his stomach knot and turn at the action.
"keiji, are you okay?" did you really not know? there’s no way you don’t know…
the man blinks, looking off. “i’m just fine. let’s get going.” he replies and tugs you off to the first store.
you pout at how short he’s being with you, wondering what you did wrong.
the shopping trip ends up being you mostly trying on clothes and asking for opinions. akaashi often is flustered by sights of miniskirts and dresses. he thinks you’re going to be the death of him.
“what do you think?” you ask akaashi for the hundredth time. you give a spin before looking at him cutely.
“you look beautiful.” he answers with a small smile.
“you’ve said that about everything else i tried on! how does that help?” you whine before turning to your other best friend. “what do you think kou?”
bokuto taps his chin, lost in thought as he looks at you, “i think that the blue dress would look better. it brings your eyes out more.”
“you’re right! thank you!” you beam, running off. akaashi doesn’t understand what just happened but only that he doesn’t quite enjoy it.
“i’m gonna go look at some knee pads! i’ll be back!”
bokuto says, and akaashi barely acknowledges him except for a small nod.
he wonders if you prefer bokuto. he wonders if you’d be happier with him than himself. he’s not as boisterous as him or interesting, at least from what he thinks. he starts to think about how nice you complement each other.
by the time akaashi returns to reality, he turns and his heart stops. somethings not right.
akaashi panics, spinning around. calling out your name he frantically looks high and low. when more time passes, he calls bokuto.
“i thought she was with you?” bokuto says over the phone.
“she’s not.” he sighs, “it’s doesn’t matter, i’ll figure it out.”
he’s about to report you missing to the mall security but stops once he sees you standing in front of a display window, lost in your own little world.
speeding across the vast area, he sighs. "where were you? i've been looking all over for you." he tugs you by your wrist. you yelp at the force and look up at him nervously.
"i'm sorry, i got distracted by something i saw. i didn't mean to wander off." you explain, "they’re selling these really cute dresses at a decent price!"
akaashi feels something within him snap, and he doesn't even flinch at the next few words that come out of his own mouth. "you can't keep doing this, y/n. you need to be more aware of your surroundings at all times. what if something happened to you? what if i wasn't there to do something or to stop it?" he hits you with question after question and you whimper quietly at the tight grip he has on your wrist.
akaashi's eyes widen at the sight of you wincing in pain and he quickly drops your hand.
"sorry, i'm so sorry...i didn't mean to hurt you." he looks at his hand as if it's poisoned and a feeling of shame washes over him.
you rub your wrist, shaking your head. "no, i'm sorry. i'm always making things difficult for you. i don't know how you haven't gotten tired of me yet." you joking sheepishly, scratching the back of your head.
akaashi gently lays a hand on your shoulder. "i could never get tired of you. i—"
“you what?” you press, hoping to dig for something, anything to confirm your own insecurities.
he chokes, catching himself, “i—”
“hey! looks like you found her! great!” bokuto appears, and akaashi silently curses him.
“yeah…great.” you sigh, forcing a smile on your face.
as you three maneuver through the mall you send akaashi longing looks, hoping that he would meet your eyes but he doesn’t. and every time you look away, akaashi can’t help but peer at you, wondering what you’re thinking.
eventually the three of you get food and all sit down to eat. to akaashi’s misfortune, you sit on the other side of the booth, next to bokuto. his fingers twitch but nonetheless, he lets it go. at least now he doesn’t have to strain his neck to admire you.
bokuto chats animatedly, filling in the awkward bits of silence when the two of you don’t talk. it’s times like these where akaashi is thankful of how talkative he is. but eventually bokuto looks at his phone, sighing.
“aw man, i have to go! i have practice soon!”
you blink, confused for a moment, “but i thought you didn’t have practice today?”
bokuto freezes, his golden eyes going wide. “c-change of plans!” he blurts, a nearly strained laugh coming out. “i’m really sorry guys. i really wish i could stay longer.”
he hurriedly says goodbye to you both, and is eventually on his way out. not long after he leaves does akaashi feel his phone buzz.
bokuto: confess to her already man, i am tired of being a third wheel >:( outings aren’t fun anymore. especially when you keep looking like you’re going to kill me.
akaashi widens his eyes at the message before clearing his throat. “so, um. is there anywhere you want to go?”
“no, i’m done actually.” you shrug. “you?”
“i think i’m done too.” he answers. he feels your eyes on him but pretends that there isn’t any tension or underlying feelings that need to be resolved. he starts to type a response to bokuto but stops at your voice.
“…so, what happened? you look really annoyed all of a sudden.” you twirl the straw in your drink mindlessly.
“oh, it’s nothing.” he quickly pockets his phone. “don’t worry about it.”
you click your tongue. you’ve had enough of the dancing around. “keiji, why are you being so distant lately?”
“i’m not being distant.” he argues. “it’s just not important.”
“well if it’s not important, then why can’t you tell me?” you counter, eyes narrowing. “i wanted to do this outing to spend time with you, and all that happened was it resulted in some tension. did i do something wrong?”
when he doesn’t respond you continue, getting up and moving into the seat next to him.
“i just want to know how i can help you. i may not always have the best solution, but you’ll always have my support when you’re struggling. no matter what.”
akaashi closes his eyes, yearning to lean into you. “i know.”
“so what…were you going to say earlier before bokuto interrupted?” you ask, playing with your hands. “and don’t tell me that ‘it wasn’t important’.”
you grab his hand, squeezing it tightly. your eyes hold sincerity and care, melting his heart even more. “you know you can tell me anything, right?”
akaashi stares at your laced hands and sighs, eyes struggling to meet yours before he speaks.
"i don't...i don't want to be roommates anymore." he confesses.
you stiffen at his words. “you want to move out?” you feel yourself tremble. so he has gotten tired of you.
“no! i—” he sighs, struggling to collect his words. “i think of you more than a friend, y/n. i know we’ve have lived together as roommates for some time now, but being around you for so long i can’t help myself but think that i want to have something more with you.”
when you’re silent, he continues. “i’ve had these unexplained feelings for you for years and i didn’t know what they meant exactly. and you know me, i over analyze a lot. and not until recently did i think—maybe, just maybe feelings aren’t always that complicated. i always knew i liked you, i just repressed those feelings out of fear.”
a look of shock registers on your face and akaashi doesn’t think that he can prepare himself for your next words. “you mean that?” you whisper, eyes glossy.
he nods, swallowing hard. “i’d never lie. especially not to you.” his eyes meet yours after that statement.
you smile and lean against him. “you have no idea how long i’ve been wanting to hear that. from you.”
“really?” he breathes, leaning in.
“really. i didn’t think i’d have a chance with someone like you. mr. perfect.” you laugh, “i’m such a mess in comparison to you. people made so many jokes about ‘poor akasshi’ since you had to deal with me and bokuto. i always thought you’d marry the president of your class. i’d never thought you’d look twice at someone like me.”
he shakes his head rapidly. “i don’t care about perfection. but if i had to place a name for it, then i’d go with yours.” he admits, pulling you close. “everything you said is just who you are. you may have made mistakes and such but you’ve grown as a person too. in ways you may not be able to see now but that i can see in you everyday.”
your face burns and you feel butterflies in your stomach when your eyes meet his. he stares back at you, his eyes flickering to your lips.
akaashi leans in hesitantly, cautious of treating or touching you with even the smallest ounce of roughness.
"can i kiss you? i've been wanting to for the longest time." he admits, hand cradling your face. he didn’t plan on kissing you somewhere so publicly, but so be it.
"whatever time you've waited to kiss me, multiply that by five and that's how long i've been waiting to be kissed by you keiji."
"that's probably the smartest thing you've ever said." he jokes and you whine, pushing at his chest.
your face burns with embarrassment form his comment and you try to hide it in his hands. "whatever! a-are you going to kiss me, or not?"
"getting there, darling." he grins before closing the gap between both of you.
it truly is infuriating that akaashi is perfect at everything he does, because the minute his lips touch yours an extremely overwhelming feeling of passion takes over you both. he cradles your face in one of his hands before slipping the other to your waist. you gasp softly and are even more alarmed when you feel akaashi slip his tongue in your mouth. he groans quietly against your mouth, making a small whimper escape you and you have to tug away from him.
“sorry, i got carried away.” he laughs, pressing his forehead to yours.
“it’s okay, i did too,” you laugh back, stealing another kiss from him.
"finally! about time!" bokuto booms, startling both of you with his loud voice and cheering.
"k-kou? i thought you left?” you flush, pulling away from akaashi.
“yeah, well, i thought akaashi needed a little push from me to confess to you.” he responds sheepishly. “so i improvised.”
before either one or you can ask what he means exactly, your phones buzz.
bokuto: [1 image attached]
bokuto: hey hey hey, look who finally shot their shot! :D
kuroo: oya? i didn’t know kaashi over here has game!
tsukishima: is this not an invasion of privacy?
kenma: of course you didn’t believe anything kuro, and now you lost the bet
kenma: you owe me 25,800 yen
kenma: venmo is fine, btw
kuroo: I THOUGHT YOU FORGOT ABOUT THAT BET?!
“you sent a picture of us making out to our group chat?”
“and ran a bet on us?”
“akaashi don’t kill me! i have a long and healthy volleyball career to look forward to!” bokuto cries.
akaashi can’t even afford to be upset. he just laughs and pats him on the shoulder. after all when looking down at you, the chaos is worthwhile.
tagging : @oikawas-milk-bread
Pairings: Adrien Agreste | Chat Noir & Marinette Dupain-Cheng | Ladybug
Notes: Post-reveal pre-relationship; Aged Up
“Remember when you used to think you were in love with me?”
With one question, Marinette turns a pleasant movie night into an argument—and an opportunity to finally, finally talk through all these feelings they're keeping from each other.