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mr-scandalous · 22 hours ago
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why is it that religion in characters wasn't something i usually found interesting, until ctommy? sure, religious symbolism is always cool, but it never really stayed in my mind until now. and yeah everyone has their own share of character traits they like about tommy, but why religion? there isn't really anything too exciting about going to church, so why do we like the idea of tommy being in one? it certainly is canon, but why do we hone in on it so much?
maybe, just maybe, it's because it's not just the religious church-going aspect of it, but because this trait is deeply rooted within his character. his faith doesn't end in the higher being, his faith continues towards people and ideas and community. he was fiercely loyal to wilbur and believed he could still change during pogtopia. he had faith in l'manburg and its ideals and its ability to be built up again. he forgives people who have done him wrong so quickly and so easily, so they can move forward and be better. it is not out of character for him to be hopeful towards something more spiritual.
because there is something religious about the way tommy loves world. something repeated and constant and unwavering. he is not a careful devout. he goes to church in the battlefield because he has faith on something he believes can be saved. he would preach his beliefs of freedom and loyalty with his whole chest. his soldier's silhouette blends in with his man of cloth.
but at the same time, it fits the simplicity surrounding tommy's otherwise complicated character. he lives in an unassuming house with a small garden and a farm. he sits on the bench with the view of the sunset. he sews his own clothes, he has a pet spider. he walks the holy path and goes to church to pray. nowadays, he sits in the pews alone.
and still, there is something devastating about it. tommy founded this church with two people who now seek power. this holy land of which provides sanctuary lives in the afterimages of what used to be before their dirtied hands. and even more, is the tragedy of which no matter how hard tommy prays, his deity will never be able save him from the hands of one mortal man.
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maximotts · 12 hours ago
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𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐲 || 𝐰. 𝐦𝐚𝐱𝐢𝐦𝐨𝐟𝐟 & 𝐧. 𝐫𝐨𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐨𝐟𝐟
a/n: yes this was supposed to be short, yes it turned into a long actual part of this AU. This is my brand by now tbh. Based on an ask a dope anon sent me with the gun thing!
warnings: This is an 18+ AU, minors DNI; gun mention, but it's a brief threat and no gun is ever seen; manipulation; domestic spats; fingers in mouth (r receiving); Wanda being calculating af; remember when I said this is technically a dark!wandanat AU? here ya go
summary: Private Hire AU; When Wanda and Natasha have to go away, they need to figure out what to do with you and when you get fed up, you act out aka how reader finds herself in a truly permanent arrangement
words: 3.3K
masterlist. || navi. || private hire AU masterpost.
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“How many times do I have to say it? You can’t take her there!”
“We can’t just leave her. She’s a target!”
“So you want to take her with us and watch her get killed in front of us then?”
“Don’t you dare say that!”
The argument had grown tenfold as the night drew on, louder and louder as each one lost patience with the other. Natasha you could expect this type of hotheadedness from, but Wanda wasn’t one to back down when she was adamant on something. Apparently that included taking her dominating wife head on.
They were arguing about you; something had happened where both of them needed to leave for a short period and apparently the idea of just leaving you alone to go about your job as normal wasn’t an option. You had no problem with going back to your typical daily routine for a while really, not as if they’d asked. Occasionally you’d try to get a word in, but they ignored you completely. Again, from Natasha? Expected. But from Wanda? You’d never seen her so mad and unwilling to listen.
As the back and forth continued into the kitchen where you’d been sitting trying to avoid them, you let out a sigh and slumped at the kitchen stool. Neither one acknowledged you, not even a quick nod in your direction, and at this point you wondered if they even remembered you were still there. They were the ones who invited you over, sending their driver to your building before you could even set foot out of your bedroom door and even think about going to work, but as each minute passed you couldn’t think of why they’d wanted you. When you showed up, they were already arguing, Wanda grabbing you by the arm and tugging you inside like a stuffed toy. You’d been forced to stay like that for a while, glued to her side as you attempted to ask what she needed you for tonight, but the only response you got was a clipped, “Do you not want to be here?”
And what could you say to that; there was no question how badly you wanted to be by Wanda’s side always. But now it had been hours or either being ignored or manhandled by Wanda and for the first time, you found your patience wearing thin. Another first, a terrible one for your rising ire, was Wanda mad. Clearly there was no way in hell she was losing this argument, having cited multiple times to her wife that she’s tired of always going with what the redhead said. This time, she would win out. The sight was shamefully attractive, you had to admit, but most of the appeal had worn off shortly after the sun went down. Perhaps if she’d cared enough to spend time with you this afternoon, she could’ve done something better with her anger.
Instead she’d been shouting so long you were surprised her voice wasn’t gone; Wanda was known for being a silent angry type, so this, whatever the importance, was a rare form of rage. “Can I just—” Interjecting was fruitless, but you’d try anyways, hoping to possibly be a mediator and experience something other than a domestic spat. Each time you attempted it was shut down, only skyrocketing your annoyance until finally it escalated, Natasha pushing you back into your chair so hard your ass hurt.
“Okay, no!”
Both women’s heads whipped to you, frozen at your outburst. “You can’t just talk about me like I’m not here. I’ll be fine, not like either of you care, because if you did, you wouldn’t have ripped me away from work to make me watch your fucking nonsense!” Never before had you talked to them this way; maybe if you weren’t so tired or upset your brain wouldn’t have given you the courage to speak. “I’m an adult and maybe you’ve forgotten, but I can do whatever I fucking want!”
“Don’t you dare swear at us. You don’t know what you’re talking about.” Wanda’s voice was eerily calm addressing you, a stark contrast to how loudly she’d been yelling at Natasha just a few seconds ago. Alarm bells rang in your head to stop, to cut your losses and sit down and shut up.
But you didn’t. “Don’t you tell me what I can and can’t do! I could’ve gone to work today. I could have actually done my job today, one that I think we’ve all agreed I’m damn good at. But here I am watching you yell at each other about me, without ever consulting me. If I wanted to watch a couple fight, I would go visit my parents!” The small rational part of you that was left pleaded with your mouth to shut up, but the wretched thing wouldn’t until it hit the final nail in your coffin. ”You don’t own me.”
Wanda steeled herself, straightening up to her full height. In truth she wasn’t that much taller than you, but as she took the next few steps towards your defensive stance, the brunette might as well have been seven feet tall. Ring clad fingers entwined themselves in your hair, attaching to the locks and tugging down until you had no choice but to yelp as you made eye contact with her. “You’d talk less with a glock in your mouth.” Wanda’s accent was thick as she spoke, slow and heavy words forcing themselves into your very core. Up until now, Wanda had been gracious in her treatment, rewarding your good behavior with nothing but sweet affection, but if you felt bold enough to act out as you were now… clearly she needed to remind you of your place.
“In case you forgot. I do own you. You’re mine whether you like it or not, whatever else you might have thought, you do what I say.” Her grip grew impossibly tighter, your hand clamoring on the counter beside you for any leverage against the arch she had forced your spine into, “And I’m saying, I wanted you here tonight, so you’re here. I want you at our house when Natasha and I are gone, so that’s what’s going to happen. Understood?”
Nodding was impossible, her grip too firm to wiggle out of. “Yes..”
“Yes what?” Wanda bared her teeth in warning and your body screamed to flee, to escape the scary monster you’d unintentionally pissed off. Words were hard; you knew what she wanted to hear, but fear kept you frozen.
Anxiety boiled through your veins, worried that if you didn’t say something soon she’d break your neck, “Yes mommy.”
If Wanda intended to say something else, she didn’t get it out, Natasha pulling her away. It was only a few feet, no real safety given, but you sucked in a deep breath accompanied a moment after with a shuddering exhale. All of your weight fell heavy against the counter as you watched Natasha murmur some intelligible Russian to her wife. Your heart was still racing when the redhead made her way to you, ushering you out of the room— Wanda noticeably not joining you two.
The walk back to your room felt longer than ever, your consciousness focusing on every detail of the walls and floors it could to keep yourself under control. That Wanda, whatever she was, you never wanted to see or experience again. Finally you understood the fear her colleagues felt when they walked into her office knowing they’d displeased her. She was a true force to be reckoned with and you’d never again fight that force.
Natasha let you sit on the bed by her side and, ever observant, rubbed your back in small circles while you still struggled to regain your senses. “She’s just stressed. We’re only fighting because we both want to keep you safe, but apparently we don’t see eye to eye on how.” It was beyond you how Natasha could be so calm, but she’d known Wanda for many years and seen every side of her. Rarely did any part of her wife faze her and there was nothing she couldn’t tame down.
All you managed was a slow nod, gulping loud enough that Natasha heard, but thankfully didn’t acknowledge. “She loves you very much, we both do.” That was the first time you’d heard either of them say such a thing. You knew of your raging crushes on both women, but they seemed content to keep you as an emotionally detached plaything. Having trouble contenting yourself with this as of late as your feelings grew, it was no surprise you’d reached your breaking point tonight as they ignored any input you might have had. “Don’t do that again though.” Natasha’s hold on your arm turned painful, a hard squeeze you fought the urge to fight your way out of, “I’m disappointed in your behavior as well and if you ever yell at me or my wife again, I’ll be the one who has something to say about it.” If someone told you that you were shaking, you wouldn’t have challenged them. Tonight uncovered Wanda’s true ruthlessness and even with the brute force you’d seen Natasha operate with on others in these past few months, something told you it was nothing compared to when she spoke in defense of her wife.
“I’m sorry, Natasha..” Your head hung low, biting your lip as Natasha pressed a careful kiss where your scalp still stung. As much as you wanted to be scared, you craved comfort in this moment and you missed Wanda. You wanted to be disgusted with yourself for even thinking it, but you felt ever so lonely without her, knowing she was somewhere in the house, but not with you. “Is Wanda mad at me?”
“That’s a stupid question.” She was right; it hurt, but she was correct. At your silence, Natasha sighed and patted your shoulder, offering what affection she could with how upset she still was. “She’s mad at both of us,” You must’ve shrunk further into the mattress because Natasha forced you closer to her. “She’ll forgive you before she forgives me. Wanda couldn’t avoid you for long if she tried. I, on the other hand, will most likely be a victim of the silent treatment until she gets tired of sleeping alone.”
To your surprise, Natasha didn’t leave. She dressed you for bed in almost complete silence, only breaking to mumble to herself occasionally before stealing one of your leftover sleep shirts and pulling down the covers for you both. As many times as the two had you stay over, this was the first time either of them slept with you. When Natasha pulled you to her side, her soft breath falling over your cheek, tired as you were, you were tense. It was too early to fall asleep, but Natasha had taken up residence in your bed so you at least tried to close your eyes. Under different circumstances, if your sudden outrage tantrum hadn’t been the thing to land you your first night shared with your bosses, you’d certainly have fallen off to sleep peacefully. But your heart yearned for forgiveness from a certain brunette and if Natasha’s tired mumblings of her name were any indication, she did too.
Somewhere between when Natasha let go of you, rolling to face the other wall, and the time it took you to make some peace with the lack of Wanda, the other woman appeared. Silent as ever, her weight dipped into the bed, close enough for your curled up knees to touch her thigh as she shuffled to the center where you lay. Her fingers were so soft on your cheek now, as if they’d never held you with such anger only hours before. The faintest of touches had you releasing a breath you hadn’t known you were holding in; even though one of them slept, both of them near made you feel truly whole again. “You went to sleep without saying goodnight to me, detka.”
Sleepy eyes fluttered open to Wanda’s night ready form, silk nightgown reflecting the small bit of moonlight from the window. She was tired, you could tell. Many a night you’d found her wandering with the same forlorn look in her eye, but every time you dared ask she cracked a small smile and changed the subject. Now you knew what this look was for; she was worried, self-conscious, maybe even fearful— but Wanda didn’t know how to deal with those emotions. Not properly, at least.
Wanda was frowning now; apparently she wanted a response. “I didn’t know if you wanted to see me.” You also didn’t know if seeing her so soon after your fight would push her further. If Natasha hadn’t kept you in your room, the urge to run and plead with Wanda to forgive you, desperate and weak, would’ve won out. Guilt crept above your anxiety, the sight of her making you feel small yet again. Still, you were upset and for tonight at the very minute, you weren’t ready to forgive her. She wanted it to assuage her own guilt, verbal reassurance that she’d done the best she could, but for as long as she waited, you hadn’t given it to her.
“You know I didn’t mean it,” Of course she meant it. Wanda meant every word and action she dealt out; she wouldn’t apologize for putting you back in place. “I need you to understand that we never make decisions that would get you hurt and sometimes, you have no idea what Natasha and I are dealing with. There are a lot of people out there who’d love to hurt you.. just to hurt us.” The way she spoke to you was like she would explain something to a child; it was condescending, almost demeaning, but still you nodded and soaked in every word. “All I ever want is to keep you safe, but you have to let me do that.” The fingers that had been innocently stroking your bottom lip now pushed forwards, not painfully, but enough to signal your mouth to part for her. Wanda shifted once you let her in, sitting forwards on her knees just enough to show off the outlines of her breasts under her nightgown.
You knew what she was doing, how she planned on exploiting your need for her to force some sort of ‘I forgive you.’ And you let yourself fall straight into it. The brunette’s hand moved steadily, fingers setting a slow and languid in and out motion until you wanted to beg her to move elsewhere. She wouldn’t, neither of you truly entertained that as reality for tonight, but you wanted her to so painfully badly. Times like these made you wonder yet again if Wanda and Natasha held off just to keep you pliable for instances like these. It was hard not to do anything they asked when you always felt just one more right move away from what you’d imagined in your brain to be the best fuck of your life. “You understand, don’t you?” Her pointer finger curved, running over the sharp lines of your teeth as those cruel digits pulled back again, “My precious dove knows I’d never hurt her… She’s smarter than that.”
She did hurt you. She’d proven that she could and would manhandle you into your place and Natasha, at the drop of a hat, would turn on you the second you stepped out of line with either of them again. You were smart; you knew the truth. And you were smart enough to know now that disobeying would only bring more pain while good behavior got you the Wanda and Natasha you loved, the ones who you laughed with and who took care of everything for you before you could even ask. So you nodded, speaking muffled around her fingers, “I know, mommy.”
And Wanda smiled at that, your admission paired with the title she hadn’t prompted you to use not only brushed away any lingering worries, but also made her heart soar. “Does that mean you forgive me for being a little rough earlier? I never want to do that again.” Not that sort of roughness preferably, but the depth at which she was fucking into your mouth was slowly brutal enough to threaten your gag reflex as she pushed just the tiniest bit deeper every once in a while. Again you agreed, your tongue daring a lick at the pad of her fingers to request more, “Good girl. What a sweet thing I have.” Finally Wanda gave your mouth a reprieve, chuckling at the stuttered breaths you took; the effect she had on her girl would never get old. She picked at your stray hairs silently for only a moment before enacting the rest of her plan. The little rift she’d had with you today couldn’t happen again; you were stubborn, but she knew best and if you complied it would be so much easier to keep you safe no matter what.
“W-Wanda?” The brunette was straddling your blanketed form, hopelessly trapping you under her. The thick layers kept her bare legs from your own and you’d never been more willing to sacrifice bed warmth for just the possibility of skin to skin contact. Thankfully, there wasn’t time to truly mourn the loss because Wanda was on you, surrounding you in a kiss. Your head was swimming, drowning more like, her pouted lips your only anchor.
Wanda made a note to herself never to go as long as she had without kissing you again, she wouldn’t be able to bear it. “You need to move in. Permanently,” Another order. It didn’t matter that you were bound by a lease or how much you’d miss the friends you’d made in your building, much less the longer commute times to work— Wanda and Natasha would take care of it all. “So much of your stuff is already here… We’ll have everything else moved in, this room is practically yours already…” She wasn’t wrong. Each time you stayed over, either Wanda or Natasha bought you something new. It started with new sheets, overly plush and fluffy just like you’d mentioned to them once you’d dreamed about. Then it was a dresser, new clothes for when you had to get up and open at the bar; you never had an excuse to leave when they wanted you to spend the night, but you’d long since given up making excuses. “Stay with us. With me?”
Reservations melted away as she nipped at your lips, kissing away the pain any time your whines told you she’d bit too hard. The only reason you hadn’t yet agreed was how you distrusted your voice, but if you gave her an answer she’d know, maybe reward you further. “I’ll move in.” It was so cracked, your throat taut as it strained to hold together while Wanda laid her entire body weight atop you.
“Oh?” She sounded a tad shocked she didn’t have to convince you of it more, but she wouldn’t complain. It was easier this way and Wanda was too tired to question. “Thank you, darling. You won’t regret it, I promise.” Wanda maneuvered herself under the comforter, her body wiggling against yours making your thighs tense. Clearly she wasn’t leaving and now, while Wanda covered you from the top, Natasha rolled over to your side. If this was to be a recurring thing, your room would rarely feel like just yours, but you couldn’t find it in you to care.
“Does this mean I’m forgiven too?” Natasha’s voice was sleepy and when you turned your head, her eyes were still closed. Of course she’d been listening, alert even when resting. Your gaze flit up to Wanda who was pouting terribly, letting out an indignant ‘hmph’ before planting her face in the crook of your neck. “What’d I tell you? Silent treatment.”
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sunshinerainbowsbts · 13 hours ago
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All I Don't Want for Christmas Is You! | KSJ
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Pairing: Seokjin x Reader
Genre: smut, fluff, crack, holiday, enemies to lovers, Coworkers!AU
Rating: M (18+)
Warnings: swearing, drinking, kissing, fingering, oral sex (f receiving), spanking, choking, biting, dirty talking, orgasm delay, Jin has an enormous... ego, vaginal sex, a lot of terrible holiday puns
Word Count: 23.7K (I'M SO SORRY)
Disclaimers: NSFW, I don't own BTS - they just inspire me
Summary: The holidays are here! But instead of celebrating, you're trapped in a town called Christmas with your office nemesis, Kim Motherfucking Seokjin, and an unruly band of clients. Can you survive the trip and secure the promotion your boss has promised? Or will Jin take you down?
A/N: This was written for the @btswritingcafe's Holiday Fic Exchange. Happy holidays, Mai @jinpanman!! 🐧🎄🎅I've had SO much fun being your Secret Santa, and I hope you've had fun as well. In addition to writing you this little story (I'M SO SORRY AGAIN IT'S SO LONG), I also created a Spotify playlist to go along with it! I really hope you enjoy the goofy holiday movie I basically wrote here. It's like Hallmark After Dark. 😂
This is unbeta'd as usual. I'd love to know what you think, my inbox is always open! 💕
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“Please, take a seat,” your boss invited as you entered the cavernous space that was his office. Someone was already sitting in the other chair in front of his sleek black desk. You glared at the back of their head, recognizing them immediately.
Kim Seokjin. Why was he here?
If you compared your company, Beyond the Sound, to a rose, then Jin would definitely be the thorn. A big ol’ prick. As the other junior talent manager at your company, he drove you insane. Whereas you chose to use skill and knowledge and your relentless drive to achieve your goals, he preferred to coast along on his charm. And his considerable good looks.
As much as it physically hurt you to think nice thoughts about him, you couldn’t deny that he was one gorgeous man. Tall, with broad shoulders that tapered down to a small waist. Long, thick black hair that kissed the nape of his neck and fell into his eyes when he didn’t wear it swept off his face.
And that face. Dark, expressive eyes that crinkled merrily when he laughed, which happened a lot when he was schmoozing clients. Plush lips that puckered when he was displeased, which happened a lot when you were around. Cheekbones and a jawline to die for.
It was a fucking perfect face and you hated it.
You took a seat, crossing your legs demurely as your boss, Sejin, cleared his throat.
“I’m sure by now you’ve both heard the news. Irene is leaving us.”
Since it had been the only topic of conversation around the office for the last two days, you had in fact heard the news. Irene, the company’s hotshot manager, was leaving for greener pastures (aka more money from a larger management firm).
“She’s leaving us in a bit of a lurch, too. But the company’s loss is your gain,” he continued, leaning forward and folding his hands on his desk. “I think it’s time for a promotion.”
You sat up slightly, as did Jin.
“I’ve been more than pleased with the two of you and how you’ve served the company over the last year. You’re both in line to be promoted. But, there’s only one spot available - the one being vacated by Irene.” Sejin paused, letting his words sink in.
One spot. Two candidates. You glanced at Jin, only to realize he was already looking at you. Assessing. Narrowing your eyes, you turned back to your boss.
Sejin stood and looked out the floor length windows that made up the back wall of his office, clasping his hands behind his back as he surveyed the city below the high-rise. “I mentioned earlier that Irene is leaving us in a bit of a tight spot. The two of you are familiar with Euphoria, correct?”
Of course you knew Euphoria. They were one of the company’s biggest clients, an incredibly popular band who had helped make Beyond the Sound into the powerhouse it was. Volatile didn’t begin to describe the band - they were the most chaotic group of artists you’d ever come into contact with since you’d started working in the music industry.
Well, okay, you personally hadn’t had much face-to-face interaction with them, beyond a quick hello at a party or industry event here and there, but you’d heard plenty of horror stories during your time working at Beyond the Sound.
The three members each had their own distinct idiosyncrasies that made them difficult to manage. Lead singer Park Jimin was an incredibly gifted vocalist and guitarist who hypnotized fans with his sexy shenanigans on stage. Unfortunately, this also led to a lot of offstage sexy shenanigans, and your company was usually scrambling to cover up any potential scandals caused by his various romantic entanglements.
The bassist/saxophonist/keyboardist Taehyung (just the one name, like he was Adele) was a renaissance man and a true artiste. Unfortunately, he took that second label extremely seriously, and was prone to flaking on public appearances or locking himself in his studio for days on end if he felt something or someone was interfering with his “vision.”
And then there was the drummer, Jeon Jungkook. Essentially the human version of Animal from the Muppets, he was loud, unruly, and prone to literally running amuck while the other two members were usually arguing.
They were exclusively Irene’s responsibility.
Sejin appeared to be waiting for an answer, so you and Jin both chirped, “Yes, sir.”
“Good. The band is releasing a holiday album this year - titled “Sleigh, What?!” - and in order to drum up publicity for it, they’re putting on an exclusive one-night-only concert, to be streamed around the world.”
Ah, so the rumors were true.
Euphoria reinvented themselves with every new album. Their first album was r&b-influenced boy band pop; the second, a punk rock fantasia; and their last, an ear-shattering mashup of screamo metal and EDM that left fans confused and led to a short-lived breakup followed by an immediate reunion. From what Sejin was saying, apparently they’d decided the best way to score a big comeback was with a collection of festive tunes. You’d heard whispers about the album through the office grapevine, but had chalked it up to a joke, assuming someone was mocking the band’s tendency to swing wildly from one genre to another.
Clearly, you’d been wrong.
“When and where is the concert?” Jin asked as you pulled out your phone to take notes. He arched a thick eyebrow, glancing at your phone, then tapped his temple, implying that he didn’t need to write anything down. Rolling your eyes, you waited for your boss to answer the question.
“Next month, the week before Christmas. And it’s being held in Christmas.”
“It’s… what?” Jin tipped his head as you paused in your typing.
“They’re putting on a concert in Christmas. As in the town about 1500 miles from here, in the Northeast. We struck a deal with the mayor - he’s letting us put on a show there to promote the album and his little middle-of-nowhere village gets major press for hosting one of the world’s hottest bands.”
You frowned as your thumbs tapped across your screen. “Wait a minute… I think I’ve heard of this town,” you stated, looking up from your notes. “It’s a real tourist trap, isn’t it? They have a Christmas-themed store that’s open year round, and all the mail stamped in the Post Office says “North Pole” on it, that kind of thing, right?”
Jin laughed. You winced, annoyed at his mirth. “Sounds like the setting for a Hallmark movie.”
Sejin nodded, returning to his desk. “Yes, and that’s exactly why we chose it. We really want to lean into the homespun holidays character of the place. The goal is for people to associate Euphoria with Christmas - both the town and the holiday - so that when the album drops, they’ll all buy it. Spread that magical cheer in their own houses with it.” He paused. “Or whatever. You get the idea.”
It was a cynical cash-grab, in other words. Just another day at the office.
“Everything has already been arranged - travel details, lodging, venue, an interview with that dreadful morning show Rise and Shine!, and so on. Irene has done her usual job of making sure everything is squared away down to the final letter.”
“So, what do you need me to do?” Jin asked.
You scowled before correcting him. “What do you need us to do, sir?”
Sejin smiled, but it seemed less comforting and more apologetic. “We need you to go to Christmas with the band. Both of you, together.”
If you’d had a piece of coal in your mouth, you would’ve produced a diamond from grinding your teeth so hard.
You didn’t want to go to this cheesy little town called Christmas, especially this close to the holidays, when the place would be swarming with crowds of sightseers. You didn’t want to have to babysit Euphoria and try to keep them from imploding yet again. But most of all, you absolutely did not want to be stuck in that tiny village supervising the band with Kim Motherfucking Seokjin.
What the hell did you do in a past life to deserve this?
“You’ll be responsible for ensuring that Euphoria makes it to all of their scheduled events. Especially the concert. Look, I’ll be frank.” He removed his glasses, rubbing the bridge of his nose. “If they miss the interview or the meet and greet we’ve arranged, it will be unfortunate, but not the end of the world. But they cannot miss this concert! We need this performance to revive their fanbase and boost their album onto the charts. If “Sleigh, What?!” tanks….” he trailed off, looking at you and Jin in turn. “Then Irene won’t be the only one leaving Beyond the Sound.’
Well, fuck. Basically, if you and Jin didn’t pull this off, one or both of you would be fired? Fantastic. Just the cherry on top of this crap sundae.
“No problem, boss,” Jin cooed, shooting Sejin a set of finger guns. You grimaced. How had this guy’s schtick not worn thin by now?
If your boss found Jin as corny as you did, he didn’t let on. Instead, he simply nodded. “I have the utmost faith in both of you to handle this situation. I know everything will run smoothly and according to plan under your supervision.” He glanced at the shiny, undoubtedly expensive watch that adorned his wrist. “Please reach out to Irene for your travel details and itineraries. She’ll have everything you need.”
You rose to your feet. “Thank you, sir.” Spinning, you swiftly stalked towards the door, Jin close on your heels.
“Looks like we’ll be spending Christmas together, Princess,” he drawled as his long legs quickly caught him up until he was walking by your side.
“No, we’ll be working together before Christmas, and how many times do I have to tell you not to call me that?” you retorted, firing him a dirty look. He just grinned, holding the door open for you to exit your boss’s office. You didn’t bother to thank him, but that didn’t deter him from continuing to walk with you.
Jin had gifted you with that nickname during your very first week at work. One of the managers you were shadowing offered to buy the two of you lunch as a reward for a stressful day of training, handling a temperamental solo act. Fresh out of grad school, you were broke and more than appreciated a free meal. But you were a bit particular about your order and took a long time, and for some reason Jin decided that made you a princess.
So you were a woman who knew what you wanted and weren’t afraid to ask for it. Was that really such a bad thing?
The nickname drove you crazy. You weren’t a princess, some fairytale creature who would only have value in relation to the men in her life - the prince or the king. Fuck that noise. You stood on your own two feet and claimed your own victories.
Yet no matter how many times you asked him to stop, Jin refused to listen. Now, a year later, the pet name persisted, a constant reminder of how aggravating he was.
After a few minutes of walking briskly, trying but failing to shake Jin, you arrived at Irene’s office. Knocking on the door, a quiet voice called for you to enter.
If there were a pecking order at Beyond the Sound, Irene would stand at the top of the pack. She was everything you aspired to be - glamorous, perfectly put together, and fierce as hell. No one fucked with Irene. Not even Jin. He knew she’d rip him to shreds with her signature blood-red stiletto fingernails and not break a sweat. Or a perfectly manicured nail.
You really wished you knew her secrets.
“So, Sejin saddled you two with Euphoria duty, huh?” she inquired, gesturing for you both to take a seat.
“I’d say unfortunately yes, but you’ve been stuck with them for years, so it doesn’t feel right to complain,” you responded.
Irene smiled. “They’re not so bad if you keep them in hand. I advise you to set a firm line with them from the start.” She eyed the two of you carefully. “The guys can be very charming when they want to be. Don’t fall for it.”
She looked directly at you when she said that last statement, and you frowned. Was she suggesting…?
“Don’t worry, I’ll make sure she keeps it professional,” Jin smirked. “No client/manager relations on my watch.”
“Excuse me, are you questioning my ethics?” you snapped, rounding on your coworker. “I certainly do not need you telling me how to do my job or - or monitoring my interactions with my clients!”
“Of course you don’t, Princess. Forgive me,” he apologized, but his grin belied his words. “But maybe I’ll just keep a sharp watch just in case.”
“I will email you all the info for the trip - flights, lodging, itineraries,” Irene ignored your sniping, as everyone in the office was long accustomed to the two of you squabbling. “Every day has been planned down to the last minute. All you have to do is make sure the band sticks to the schedule.”
“Easy peasy lemon squeezy,” Jin trilled, and you fought the urge to gag.
“Thank you, Irene,” you replied graciously. “Your hard work won’t go to waste, I assure you.”
Irene just smiled, a vicious grin that actually sent a shiver down your spine. “Oh, truly, I don’t care! By the end of the week, Euphoria will simply be an unpleasant memory for me. They’re your problem now!”
As you left her office, Jin snickered. “I don’t know about you, but I’m really looking forward to this trip even more now.”
You spun to look at him. “You know what I’m looking forward to? Getting the promotion.”
“Oh, you think it’s yours already?”
Stepping closer, you glowered up at him. “I know it is.”
“We’ll just see about that, Princess.” He winked, walking backwards as he headed towards his workspace. “Can’t wait to see you all bundled up for the chilly weather. Bet you look real cute in earmuffs.”
You clenched your fists so hard, your nails nearly drew blood. You couldn’t wait to kick that jerk’s ass. That promotion was yours.
**********
As irritating as the nickname was, it wasn’t Jin calling you Princess that made you hate him.
It was the Nevamind incident.
A few months into your time with Beyond the Sound, the company tapped you to work with a recently signed artist, an up-and-coming rapper who went by the stage name Nevamind. He’d been building buzz online with a series of mix tapes featuring brilliant lyrics and ridiculous beats, and it would be your job to get him ready for his debut album release.
For several days and a few long nights, you threw your every waking moment into creating an action plan for the rapper. You wanted to show your boss that you were ready to handle managing on your own, so you worked your ass off to prepare.
Excited, you showed up to the first meeting with the artist feeling nervous, but ready to share your ideas.
Only to find Jin waiting to meet with Nevamind as well.
“What are you doing here?” you blurted out, staring at your coworker who had risen from his seat at the conference table, expecting the rapper to be the one walking through the door instead of you.
“I’m presenting to Nevamind, obviously. What are you doing here, Princess?” he responded with wide eyes.
“Uh, no, I’m the one doing the pitching! And don’t call me that!”
“Actually, you’re both pitching,” Sejin declared, entering the room behind you.
Apparently, there had been a misunderstanding. You weren’t assigned to help Nevamind, you were being asked to present your ideas to him. Along with Jin. Whomever the artist picked (with your boss’s input, of course) would become his manager.
This mix-up didn’t rattle you. No, if anything, this simply fueled you even more, now that it was literally a contest. Forget your anxiety - you were fired up, determined to win.
Jin sold his idea first. It was hardly a proposal - no slideshow, no binders showing statistics, just a measly single page handout. And him mostly talking off the cuff, flashing that killer smile, even throwing in a wink or two as he promised the moon to the rapper.
You were aghast at your coworker’s breezy attitude. Was that how he worked? Did he really care so little? He wasn’t just unprofessional, he was a total buffoon. It was all you could do not to laugh during the entire meeting, since your boss was also present.
Then it was your turn. Nevamind seemed to agree with the plan you painstakingly laid out with your multimedia presentation - interviews with some huge media outlets, a series of streaming episodes giving a behind-the-scenes look at the album’s completion, and then a major party to celebrate the release. You even got a bit of a flirty vibe from the rapper, but you quickly shut that down, wanting to maintain a firm boundary between work and pleasure. By the time you left, you were more than confident that Nevamind would be your first client.
Instead, a week later, that asshole was announced as the rapper’s manager. All your hard work went down the drain.
How on earth had that guy won? Flabbergasted, you turned to your coworkers for an explanation. Everyone had their theories - Nevamind preferred a male manager, or Jin blackmailed your boss for the job, and so on. The rumor mill churned, but you never got a satisfactory answer, and you stewed in your anger, knowing that your plan was the better choice.
Within a month, Nevamind had terminated his contract with Beyond the Sound. Jin managed to fuck it up somehow, and that just stoked the flames of your wrath.
At a happy hour gathering a week after Nevamind dumped your company, you found Jin sitting alone at the bar, looking slightly rumpled in his designer suit. Sliding onto a stool next to him, you ordered a drink before swiveling to face him.
“So. How’d you fuck it up, Jin?”
He didn’t reply, just shot you a glare.
“I still don’t understand how you even got the assignment in the first place. That proposal of yours was a joke.” Several whiskeys into your night, all the nasty things you’d been thinking about your coworker started to slip from your lips.
He set his gin and tonic on the bar and regarded you carefully. “I got the job because I’m good at what I do. Maybe managing isn’t all about statistics and powerpoint slides. Did you ever consider that?”
“Maybe not, but this job requires a hell of a lot more effort than what you give, Jin. I mean, that’s pretty evident considering your first client fired you within a month. Perhaps next time, you might try actually working?” You swirled your drink with the little stir stick, tapping it against the rim of the glass to emphasize your point.
Again, he leveled a long glance at you, taking his time before answering. “You know what? Believe what you want to. I’m sure you will no matter what I say. That seems to be how you operate.”
“Whatever,” you shot back. Not the most eloquent comeback, but you were too tipsy to care. “Just don’t expect it to happen again. You winning, I mean. That was a fluke. Next time, I’ll show you how it’s done.”
“Is that so?” He tossed back the rest of his drink, rising from his seat. “Then bring it on, Princess. Show me what you’ve got.”
“You can’t handle what I’ve got, Jin.” Wait, was that what you’d meant to say? Maybe not, but you were flustered by how close he stood to you, and whatever you’d intended to say had gotten lost in the ether.
You’d be lying to yourself if you said you didn’t find Jin attractive. Even though he vexed you with everything he said and, well, everything he did, too, you still found yourself distracted by his stunning looks.
Your pulse began to race as he examined you with those dark eyes, wandering slowly over your frame. He towered over you as you peered up at him, and your breath hitched as he bent towards you.
“But I bet you wish I’d try, right?” he whispered, hot breath tickling your ear as he exhaled. You shuddered, and with a smirk he walked away, leaving you sitting alone, head spinning.
From that moment on, he shot to the top of your hit list. Kim Seokjin, enemy number one.
**********
Three days, four nights. That was how long you’d be in Christmas. That was how long you’d have to suffer through this nightmarish work assignment with your nemesis. You could do this.
You chanted those words to yourself as the days flew by after your meeting with Sejin. Over and over again, repeating them until they became your mantra.
But now, sitting on the private jet, on your way to Christmas, you were starting to doubt. Just a little.
Introducing yourself to the band went better than you expected, given all the awful testimonies about the members that your coworkers had told. Each had politely greeted you and bowed.
Good to know they had some manners after all.
In the meantime, Jin strutted onto the plane looking like he’d just walked off the runway in Paris, wearing a gorgeous three-piece navy suit underneath a stunning long red and black plaid coat. The entire ensemble was Louis Vuitton, which you knew only because he wouldn’t stop yapping about how he’d had to show the boutique’s sales person his company ID because she didn’t believe him when he said he wasn’t a model.
Was it possible for a person’s eyes to roll right out of their head? You feared you might find out on this trip.
But seriously, who flew in a suit?
Not that Jin was the only one taking advantage of your travels to purchase a new wardrobe. Flying to the wintry northern half of the country meant you’d bought a few essentials - some cozy sweaters, wool skirts, thick tights and several pairs of boots (both dress and snow). You’d also splurged on a Burberry puffer coat and a pair of Gucci leather gloves, in matching black, to help keep you warm.
The perks of having a company card.
Once the plane took off, you’d intended on using the time to review the week’s itinerary as well as to set some ground rules with the band. But you might as well have tried to fly across the country by flapping your arms. You’d have had a better chance of accomplishing that.
“Guys, can we please focus?” you implored the group for the fifth time. No one responded. Jimin flirted with the flight attendant while Taehyung read an intimidatingly thick book on the history of jazz rock. Jungkook had completely tuned out, a giant pair of VR goggles on his handsome face as he played some game.
Meanwhile, Jin was sitting across from you, doing nothing to disguise his laughter at your struggle to get the band’s attention.
You scowled. “You know, this is important for you, too. Do I need to remind you what is at stake here?”
Jin sighed. “Oh, take a breath, Princess. Let them settle in a bit, then we’ll run through the schedule. They’re literally a captive audience.” He cocked his head, considering. “Although Jungkook is an experienced skydiver, so I wouldn’t put it past him to jump out the door at any moment. Though I hope the lack of parachutes would at least give him pause.”
“Fine.” Leaning back in your seat, you pulled out your phone to scroll through your notes. Jin leaned over to gawk at your screen. “Excuse me! Do you mind?”
“Just curious if you were actually going to relax. Doesn’t appear so,” he replied, flagging down the flight attendant. “Can I get a whiskey, neat? Thank you.” “Really? Drinking at this time of day?” It was only just past noon when you’d finally taken off. Jin shrugged. “I fly better when I’m a little tipsy. Plus, if you’re going to be this tightly wound, I’m going to need to be even looser. You’re giving me second-hand anxiety.”
“God forbid you be serious about your job for once,” you muttered under your breath.
The flight attendant brought Jin his drink and he smiled politely before giving you a scrutinizing look. “I’m perfectly serious about this job. I just have my own methods for getting results.” He winked, and you clicked your tongue in disgust. “What I want to know is, do you ever relax? Let your hair down, allow yourself to have a little fun while you’re working?”
“I have plenty of fun,” you sniffed, grabbing the pashmina shawl you’d stuffed into your carry-on and wrapping it around your shoulders. You always froze on flights. “But I don’t let it interfere with my responsibilities. The job comes first.”
“That’s where you and I differ, then. Fun comes first.”
“You mean, you come first,” you rejoined.
Jin smirked, and you realized you’d walked into a trap. “Oh no, it’s only fun for me if others come first. I always make sure of that.” He lowered his voice conspiratorially. “Every time.”
Cursing yourself for setting him up, you closed your eyes, letting your head fall back against the headrest of your plush leather seat, hoping he’d take the hint and stop talking. He did, but not before you heard him snickering to himself.
Three days, four nights. The clock was ticking.
**********
The closest airport to your final destination was two hours away, so a chartered bus had been set up to transport you and the band. Most of their equipment and belongings had already been sent ahead of them, so a whole bus wasn’t technically necessary, but you appreciated having a little space.
Because the guys were driving you insane.
Halfway through the five hour flight, you’d awoken to the dulcet tones of Jimin and Taehyung arguing. As usual, Jin was useless, somehow sleeping through the loud curse words pinging around the cabin of the plane. You wondered how many glasses of whiskey it had taken to knock him out like that. Jungkook still had his headset on, but he was now pacing around playing some sort of dueling game that had him pretending to slice everyone in half with a joystick sword.
It turned out to be a fight about nothing - an argument over which movie to watch - but it was enough to give you a slight headache. Which did not bode well considering you were only slightly over two hours into your whole trip. But you stepped in and calmed them down, promising they could both watch whatever they wanted since they weren’t even sharing a screen, and then collapsed into your seat, hoping to rest. Discussing the week’s plans would have to wait until later, when your coworker would be more helpful. Or at least conscious.
On the bus, you took a seat near the front, frowning as Jin slid in beside you.
“Really?” you asked, gesturing wildly. “All these empty seats?”
“Yah, calm down, I just wanted to see if you wanted to go over the schedule now, while everyone’s still awake and quiet.”
That was actually a useful suggestion. Color you shocked.
“I suppose this would be the most opportune time,” you conceded, standing up to gaze at the members who had strewn themselves across seats scattered throughout the bus. Jin followed as you staggered down the aisle towards the band, the swaying of the bus making it difficult to walk a straight line.
“Uh-oh, here come Mom and Dad,” Jimin sniggered, legs dangling over the armrest of his seat. His pink hair hung in his face as yawned widely. “Are we in trouble again?”
Nope. You didn’t care for that one bit.
“I’ll thank you for addressing us both by name, Park,” you declared, and he quirked an eyebrow at your commanding tone, lips twisting into a smirk. His eyes ran up and down your figure as you stared him down.
“Yes, noona,” he purred, arching an eyebrow. Irene’s warning echoed in your ears.
You were going to have to tread carefully with this one.
Jin said nothing, seemingly content to let you run things, surprise surprise. You continued.
“I know you’ve all been given copies of this week’s schedule, one printed and included in your carry-ons and one emailed, but I thought we should run through it just to confirm that we’re all on the same page.”
No one answered. You plowed on.
“Tonight, we just need to settle in. The bed & breakfast we’re staying at has been completely booked by us, so we have the whole house to ourselves. It’s the,” you consulted your notes, “Blitzen Inn. The proprietors have assured us that we will have total privacy there, since it’s fairly out of the way.”
“Wait, we’re staying at a bed & breakfast, noona? Not a hotel?” Taehyung piped up, removing his gigantic headphones, shaking out his silvery-white locks.
“That is correct. Despite the tourist trap nature of this place, it’s a pretty small town, so they don’t have a lot of lodging options.” And most of the hotel rooms had been booked by the fans who would be attending the concert.
“So no room service? No on-call masseuses?” Taehyung pouted. “No free mini bottles of shampoo?”
“You’re a millionaire, Tae, you can buy all the shampoo you want,” Jin commented.
“But I like the little bottles.”
“Anyway. Tomorrow there is an early morning interview with Rise and Shine! You’ll be joined by the mayor for that as well, and the local newspaper will be there, taking photos. We’ll be at the venue for the taping, and then in the afternoon you’ll have time to rehearse. Thursday morning is more rehearsal time and then a fan signing event at Santa’s Workshop, a holiday-themed store that will be the first place to stock your album. And then of course Friday is the concert. Saturday morning, we’re back on the jet and heading home.” You glanced up. “Any questions?”
“Will they have little bottles of shampoo at the bed & breakfast?”
“Does anyone else have any other questions?”
Jungkook raised his hand.
“You don’t have to raise your hand, Jungkook. What’s your question?”
“Noona, how does it work, exactly? Do they serve us breakfast in bed?”
You turned to your coworker, who had stretched his long frame across two seats, cackling as he listened. “Do you want to help me out here?”
Jin sighed, sitting up. “Do you guys have any questions about the schedule? It’s not too packed, but it’s important that we stick to it very carefully.”
Three heads shook no.
“Great! Then just relax for a bit. We should be at the Blitzen Inn in about another ninety minutes or so.” Jin laid back, his tiny bit of effort completed for the day. He’d probably exhausted himself.
Sighing, you trekked back to the front of the bus, taking a window seat and slinging your legs onto the space next to you so as to prevent anyone (Jin) from sitting there.
“I think that went well.”
Apparently, he’d decided to sit right behind you. His face appeared over your shoulder, in the space between the back of your seat and the window.
You snorted. “Of course you do. You didn’t do anything.”
“I beg to differ.”
“Well, you did stay conscious for the whole discussion, so I suppose that’s something.”
His laughter made you grimace. You reminded yourself that you just had to put up with him for a few days. Once that promotion kicked in, hopefully you wouldn’t have to deal with his bullshit again.
You leaned against the window, staring at the scenery as the bus trundled along. It was certainly a different view than what you were used to, living on the west coast. Verdant mountains rolled across the horizon as the sun began to sink from view. Exhausted after a stressful flight, your eyes began to droop as the bus’s rhythmic bouncing lulled you to sleep.
**********
The Blitzen Inn stood at the edge of town. Two rows of tall pine trees lined the winding road leading to the inn. The bus barely fit, but thankfully no other vehicles were approaching from the opposite direction.
Stretching, you took a moment to admire the house as the bus approached. A white two-story colonial with black shutters and a wraparound porch, decorated with hanging garlands and a large green wreath with a big red bow on the front door, it very much looked like something straight out of a holiday movie.
A garden took up one entire side of the house, though it had been turned over for winter. Around the other side of the house stood a large white gazebo, adorned with strands of white Christmas lights. Behind the house was nothing but trees, as the house was nestled against the border of a forest.
Green trees, green grass, green everywhere. How disappointing. The temperatures had been unusually warm in this region for this time of year, according to the weather reports you’d watched religiously in the week prior to leaving home. Having grown up in the land of sand and sun, you were hoping to see some snow on this trip. Just a little would do - enough to turn the land into a sea of white.
Ah, well. This was a business trip, and there was more than enough to focus on besides pining for snow.
The bus gradually rolled to a stop and you disembarked, boots crunching on gravel as you strolled towards the house. Your breath hung in the chilly night air, tiny puffs that dissipated as you walked, and you pulled your coat a little tighter around you. Once again, Jin nipped at your heels.
Two men waited by the door, a platinum blond who wore a blindingly bright smile and a smaller, slighter man with hair black as night who merely blinked languorously as you neared.
“Good evening,” the blond man greeted you, bowing slightly. “You must be Ms. _. Welcome to our home!”
You bowed in return. “Thank you.” You instructed him to call you by your first name. “This is my colleague, Kim Seokjin.”
“Call me Jin,” he said, bowing.
“I’m Hoseok, but you can call me Hobi, and this is my husband Yoongi,” the blond man introduced himself and the dark-haired man, who simply nodded.
You turned to introduce the band, but none of them had reached the porch yet. Jimin and Taehyung were standing in front of the bus, bickering about who would get to stay in the presidential suite (neither aware that the bed and breakfast did not have suites), and Jungkook was sitting in the gazebo, silently gazing up at the lights hanging above.
Huffing out a sigh, you gestured. “That’s Jimin, Taehyung, and Jungkook. They’ll be along in a minute.”
“No rush, they’re welcome to explore the grounds,” Hobi replied with another grin. “Why don’t we help you bring in your bags and then we’ll show you to your rooms? I’m sure after all that traveling, you’re about ready to crash.”
Luggage in hand, Hobi took you on a quick tour. Despite its large size, the interior of the house was incredibly cozy. There were six guest rooms upstairs, each with its own bath. Downstairs, there was a kitchen, dining room, another bathroom, sitting room, and library. The owners had a master suite down a hallway in the back.
You tried not to gawk, but it honestly felt like you were walking through an issue of Architectural Digest. Hardwood floors, wooden ceiling beams, and dark wood accents flowed throughout. All of the rooms downstairs had fireplaces, and the sitting room also included a baby grand piano tucked into the corner. The decor was an intriguing mix of antique and modern, from an exquisitely carved dining room table and chairs to a comfy couch straight out of a Swedish furniture catalog. And Christmas decorations had been stuffed into every available nook and cranny, with more poinsettias, wreaths, and Christmas trees than you’d ever seen in one house.
Walking through the house felt like touring Martha Stewart’s wet dream.
“How do we want to divide up the rooms?” Jin asked as you climbed the stairs.
“I don’t think it really matters, unless someone has a preference,” you responded. You followed Hobi to the end of the hall. “I'll take the first room down here.” Hobi nodded, carrying your bags inside for you.
“Then I’ll take the next,” Jin said. “Unless you’d prefer to share?”
What a stupid question. You stopped to gawk at him. “Why the fuck would I want to do that??”
Hobi returned to the other end of the hallway, where the band members were attempting to determine which room was the largest, despite multiple assurances that they were all the same size.
Jin leaned against the doorway of his room.
“Have you ever vacationed in this part of the country before during the winter?”
“No.”
“Well,” his voice dropped low, “it gets awfully cold out here at night. You might want something to snuggle up to. Keep you warm.”
“And what, you’re offering yourself as an option?”
“If you’d like.”
You’d spent a lot of time working with this man, and most of it glaring at his handsome face in exasperation or disgust. He often gazed back at you with a cheeky twinkle in his eye. And there it was again.
But there was a tiny glimmer of something else, too. Something that made a slow heat crawl along your neck, despite the loathing that flowed through your veins.
Before you could even begin to envision his suggestion, you shut it down.
“That’s what blankets are for, Jin,” you sneered, opening the door to your room and slipping inside before he could reply.
Needing a few moments to yourself, you surveyed your room. A king-sized bed lay in the center of the room, covered in a fluffy stack of pillows and a plush down comforter. In the bathroom, you found a claw-footed tub, shower stall, and pedestal sink, and a soft white robe hung on the back of the door. Fresh white roses arranged in a slim vase greeted you on your nightstand.
The room would’ve been perfect for a relaxing vacation or romantic getaway. Too bad you were stuck on the work assignment from hell.
**********
After freshening up a little, you rejoined the group downstairs. Everyone had gathered at the dining room table, which Yoongi had piled high with snacks - charcuterie boards overflowing with meats and cheeses, plates of crackers and toasted breads, and multiple platters of every Christmas cookie you could think of and even a few you didn’t recognize. You were more exhausted than hungry, so you nibbled on a gingerbread cookie while rehydrating.
“We received your itinerary,” Hobi informed you as he placed another platter of assorted cookies on the table. “Since you’re our only guests this week, we’ve adjusted our meal times to meet your needs.”
“Thank you, that’s wonderful,” you replied. “We appreciate your flexibility.”
“Of course. If there’s anything else we can do for you while you’re here, just let us know. Our home is your home.” He smiled and excused himself to join Yoongi in the kitchen.
The band chattered happily amongst themselves as they gorged on the delicious treats. You scrolled idly through your phone as Jin leaned across the table towards you.
“Care to join me for a nightcap? Hobi gave me a tour of the sitting room while you were upstairs and there’s a decanter of whiskey in there with my name on it.”
You glanced up. “A nightcap? Don’t you think you should get to bed so we can get a good start tomorrow? We have to be at the venue early for the interview.”
“Oh, come on, just one drink. It’s been a long day. Let go a little.” He waved his hand. “You know everything’s all set for tomorrow. But if it’ll ease your mind, we can still discuss the itinerary while we drink.”
Kim Seokjin, focusing on work for once? This you had to see.
“Fine. Just one.”
A pair of gorgeous red velvet couches sat on either side of the ornamental rug in front of the fireplace in the sitting room. Curling up on the corner of one, you tucked your legs underneath you as Jin played bartender with the decanter.
Handing you a tumbler, he lifted his in a toast. “To a successful trip.”
“To my promotion,” you countered with a grin.
“Okay, Princess, let’s just enjoy the drink, shall we?”
You dutifully clinked your glass against his, then brought it to your lips.
The delicious aroma washed over you as you swirled the brown liquor in your glass before taking your first sip. As the liquid coated your tongue, you held it there, savoring for a moment before swallowing.
“Mmm,” Jin hummed, inspecting his glass. “I think I need a bottle of this.” He smacked his lips obnoxiously.
Turning the glass around in your hands, you stared at the gentle sloshing of the liquor. “It’s sweeter than I typically prefer, but still has a bit of bite to it.”
Jin cocked an eyebrow. “You some kind of whiskey connoisseur?”
“Maybe,” you retorted, chin jutting out. “I’ve tasted enough to know what I like.”
Whatever dumb rejoinder was forming on Jin’s lips was interrupted by Mariah Carey.
🎵 All I want for Christmas is yoooooou 🎶
You cocked an eyebrow at his choice of ringtone.
“Tis the season,” he grinned, answering. “Go for Seokjin.”
Fuck, he even answered his phone like a tool.
“Hello, sir,” he suddenly sat bolt upright, glancing at you. “Yes, she’s here. Of course, one moment.” He set the phone between you on the couch.
“Okay, sir.”
“Good evening,” your boss’s voice boomed. “I assume there weren’t any problems with your flight?”
“No, sir,” you replied, frowning. Your boss wasn’t the type to micromanage, and he definitely wasn’t the type to phone just to exchange pleasantries. If he was calling, it meant he was extremely stressed about this album release.
“Good. The band isn’t giving you any trouble?”
“No, sir.”
“No issues with your travel or lodging arrangements?”
“No, sir.” You felt like a broken record, repeating yourself.
“Good, good. And everything is all set for tomorrow’s interview?”
Jin finally jumped in. “Everything is completely taken care of, sir. Trust me, you have nothing to worry about. I give you my word that by the time you’re awake tomorrow, Euphoria’s Rise and Shine! Interview will be the top trending item on every social media platform.”
Stabbing the mute button on his phone, you turned to your coworker as your boss expressed how pleased he was to hear Jin’s response. “Don’t make promises you can’t keep!”
He clucked his tongue. “Have some faith, Princess. I know what I’m doing.” He unmuted the phone as Sejin began to wind down. “Thank you for checking in, sir. I really appreciate it. We’ll have Euphoria back in the number one spot by the time we touch down back home on Saturday!”
“Let’s hope so. That promotion is riding on it. For one of you, anyway.” As if you could forget. “Have a good evening.”
“You too, sir!” Jin pocketed his phone as he finished his whiskey.
“Holy shit, Jin, do you always have to kiss so much ass? How the fuck hasn’t Sejin gotten tired of your bullshit yet?”
“Are you jealous? I can kiss your ass too, if you want. Or anywhere else you’d like.” He puckered cartoonishly.
A gagging noise was your response, making him laugh. His stuttering windshield wiper giggle hit you like nails on a chalkboard.
You drained the last drop of your whiskey and stood. “Okay, I’m calling it. Good night, Jin.”
“Good night, Princess. Don’t forget - I’m just a wall away if you need me.”
You just rolled your eyes, dodging as he blew you a kiss. That ridiculous squawk of a giggle followed you up the stairs to your bedroom, where you closed the door with an exhausted sigh.
Saturday couldn’t arrive fast enough.
**********
At five am on the dot, you tossed back the plush blankets on your ridiculously comfy bed and climbed out. Pausing by the window, you glanced out at the forest behind the house. Dawn was still several hours away, so the world outside was cloaked in darkness. Not an early riser by nature, you sighed, shuffling off to shower yourself awake.
To your complete lack of surprise, you were the first to arrive downstairs. Hobi sat at the dining room table, sipping on a mug of coffee, while Yoongi bustled back and forth from the kitchen, arms laden with plates of food - sausages, bacon, home fries, pancakes, basically any breakfast food you could think of, he brought out.
“Good morning,” Hobi beamed.
“Good morning.” Taking a seat, you smiled gratefully at Yoongi as he set a steaming mug of coffee in front of you. “Yoongi, you’ve outdone yourself. This is a veritable feast!”
“That’s my Yoongi,” Hobi cooed, pinching Yoongi’s cheek. “Always spoiling everyone.” Yoongi dipped his head in embarrassment, but not before you caught a little gummy smile lighting up his handsome face.
Feet pounded down the stairs, and Jungkook stuck his head into the dining room, purple hair bouncing. “Oh shit, that looks good!” he crowed, grabbing a plate and loading it with food. Jin arrived not long after, and followed suit. Jimin and Taehyung drifted down last, immediately digging into Yoongi’s banquet.
Jin was once again dressed to kill in another crisply tailored suit, this time in charcoal grey, a white tie expertly knotted at his throat. Meanwhile, you had dressed in a chunky oversized sweater and thick wool skirt with your knee-high boots, wanting to look stylish while staying warm at the concert venue.
And then there was the band.
Of the three, Jimin was the most casually dressed, if one could consider wearing a two thousand dollar red satin Saint Laurent jacket to be “casual.” Underneath, he wore a simple white t-shirt, with several long necklaces dangling on his chest, and black jeans. Taehyung appeared to be headed on a dreamy date, dressed in a blousy white top, slightly unbuttoned, with a black boutonniere and a black and white scarf tied loosely around his neck. And Jungkook’s tall frame was adorned in a sheer black top under a leopard print button up, completely unbuttoned, and obscenely tight leather pants.
Not exactly the best outfits for an interview about a holiday-themed album. You made a mental note to look into purchasing some ugly Christmas sweaters for the fan-meeting tomorrow - surely you could find those at Santa’s Workshop, right?
As everyone ate in comfortable silence, you cleared your throat.
“Morning, guys. We need to leave here no later than seven for the meet and greet with the mayor and the Rise and Shine! taping. Remember, this is live tv, and the local paper will be there to take photos as well. So please, no swearing and no rude gestures.” You stared directly at Jungkook, who nodded.
“Got it, Mom,” Jimin chirped as he reached for another stack of pancakes.
“Park.”
“Sorry, noona.”
**********
Despite your months of experience working with the media, and despite the fact that you yourself were not going to be on tv, you were nervous as fuck as the band prepared for their interview. Tiny pinpricks of sweat began to bead on your forehead as you and Jin watched from the wings of the stage.
The venue for the big comeback concert was the town’s small community theatre space, a boxy room with a simple stage and approximately 200 seats in the audience. Beyond the Sound was clearly hoping for an intimate experience for the lucky ticket holders, all of whom were longtime Euphoria fan club members who had been randomly selected in a raffle.
Rise and Shine! had sent a single camera operator and one producer to oversee the remote interview, and they were hustling about, preparing for the live feed. The photographer from the local paper was sitting in the audience, waiting for the mayor to arrive so she could snap a few photos of him with the band. Meanwhile, the band members themselves were helping each other touch up their makeup. So you were left with only Jin to calm your nerves.
Naturally, he wasn't helping.
Instead of focusing on the scene in front of him, or helping you take your mind off of your anxiousness, Jin scrolled through his phone, giving off the appearance of a man who would rather be anywhere else in the world.
Well, honestly, so would you, but you had a fucking job to do, so you were going to make sure it went off without a hitch.
"Shouldn't the mayor be here by now?" you asked, glancing at your watch. In less than fifteen minutes, the irritatingly chipper hosts of the morning program would be streaming through the monitor in front of you as they asked Euphoria some blandly inane questions about their album. The mayor was supposed to participate in the conversation and really help sell the whole folksy angle your company was hoping to achieve.
“I’m sure he’s on his way. Just breathe, Princess.” Scroll, scroll, scroll.
“Stop. Calling. Me. That,” you spat through gritted teeth, as the door at the back of the theater suddenly slammed open.
“I’m here!” a voice yelled. As everyone watched, a tall, beefy man in a beanie and black peacoat dashed down the aisle towards the stage. He tripped over his own feet and you gasped, expecting him to faceplant, but he recovered and kept running.
Hand outstretched, he made a beeline for you and Jin. “I’m so sorry I’m late!” he huffed. “Hi, I’m Kim Namjoon, nice to meet you.”
“Mr. Mayor, it’s lovely to meet you,” You shook his hand. “Thank you for allowing us to hold our concert in your beautiful town!”
Jin snickered softly. If that ass kisser thought you were laying it on too thickly, then you definitely were overdoing it. Fighting the urge to stomp on his big clown feet, you smiled at the mayor as if you hadn’t heard anything.
“Oh, it’s our honor to host you! And please, call me Namjoon,” he smiled, shaking Jin’s hand in turn. “I was sad to hear that I wouldn’t get to meet Irene after all our correspondence. She seemed very… thorough.”
“Yeah, Irene never left anything to chance,” Jin laughed. “I can only imagine the novel-length emails she sent you.”
Another glance at your watch. Ten minutes. The band members had finished their touch-ups and were now… uh…
Where the hell had they gone?!
“Would you please excuse me?” you smiled at Namjoon, shot Jin a look, and left the two men standing there, discussing Irene’s Type A tendencies.
Wandering the backstage area of the theater, you hissed names like a balloon slowly leaking air. “Jimin? Taehyung? Jungkook! Where the hell are you??”
“Relax, noona.”
Stifling a scream, you whirled and found Jimin snickering behind you. “Fuck! Didn’t anyone ever tell you not to sneak up on a person?”
“I wasn’t sneaking, you just couldn’t hear me over the sound of your panicking,” he replied drolly. “Come on, they’re back here.”
You followed him into a small dressing room, where Taehyung and Jungkook were digging through racks of costumes.
“What are you -”
“Found one!” Jungkook interrupted you, proudly brandishing a Santa hat. “And look, here’s a pair of reindeer antlers, Jimin.” He tossed a headband at his bandmate.
“Perfect! What about Tae?”
Taehyung turned away from a mirror on the wall, where he had been inspecting his handsome visage. He tucked his long hair back, revealing a pair of elf ears.
You couldn’t help but laugh. “You guys look fantastic - very holiday appropriate! Now, why don’t you go get your mics and get ready for the countdown?”
Santa Jungkook and Elf Taehyung strolled out of the room. But Reindeer Jimin merely shook his head. “You really don’t have to worry about us, noona. We know what to do. How to hit our marks and spout the company lines.”
“I wasn’t worried!” you lied.
“Right. Of course not.” He trailed you back to the stage. “Why would you worry? It’s not like you haven’t heard a million nasty stories about us, right? About how difficult we are, how unprofessional, always needing tons of close handling. Nothing like that?”
You blinked, but didn’t reply, unsure what to say. The last thing you wanted to do was rile him up when they were mere seconds away from a live broadcast.
Jimin laughed derisively. “That’s what I thought.” He waved the producer over, patiently letting her mic him up. “I know what everyone at Beyond the Sound thinks of us, even though most of you never even met us.”
“I’m not sure what you’re referring to,” you fudged, trying to untangle yourself from this situation. “Beyond the Sound has always championed Euphoria. We’re doing everything we can to make sure you guys are taken care of, and to see that your comeback is a success.” You gave him a shaky smile. “We have your best interests at heart.”
“Ha!” he huffed, shaking his head. “Our best interests. If you say so, noona.”
He left you gawking as he joined his bandmates, introducing himself to the mayor. Four stools had been placed on the stage, in front of a simple snowy backdrop and a large fake Christmas tree. As they settled in, the producer waved her arm, indicating the countdown to being live had begun.
“You okay, Princess?” Jin whispered as you clenched and unclenched your fists, silently counting along with the producer.
“Of course,” you sniffed. “Everything’s fine.”
Jimin’s words had rattled you a little, but you weren’t about to tell Jin that.
“They’ve got this. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.”
The lights were off in the wings, and in the darkness, you could barely make out Jin’s profile. He looked completely relaxed, as usual.
“Will you stop saying that stupid phrase? It’s completely inane!”
Jin just honk laughed.
The interview went off without a hitch. Jimin was right - Euphoria were seasoned pros, and knew how to handle the press. The only slight hiccup came courtesy of the mayor. As he gestured to the venue space behind him, he nearly smacked Taehyung in the face. Taehyung spun to avoid his arm, which made Jimin guffaw, which led to him falling off his stool.
Could’ve been worse.
**********
After lunch, the road crew showed up to set up for rehearsal. You sat in the audience and flipped through notes on your phone as the band practiced their setlist for the concert. Jin had folded himself into a seat in the row behind you, legs propped up, humming along to the music floating through the theater.
Euphoria’s new album was a mix of holiday standards like “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” and several original songs, including the one they were currently playing, nonsensically named “Claus I Said So!”
“Oh god,” Jin murmured, leaning forward to rest his arms on the back of the seat next to you. “This might be the worst Christmas song in the history of the world. How do they expect this to sell albums?”
You scowled at the sudden nearness of him. “They don’t. They expect us to sell them, remember?” He did have a point, though. The song was truly atrocious, the lyrics some vapid nonsense about how everyone had to do Santa’s bidding or there would be no Christmas this year. But all Santa kept telling everyone to do was to “rock!”
Mentally, you added earplugs to your list of items to bring to the concert.
“I’m honestly surprised they agreed to this album in the first place,” Jin admitted.
You stopped scrolling long enough to turn and look at him. “What do you mean?”
He shrugged. “I understand why they went along with the punk album. They do have legitimate musical talent and it was an opportunity to flex their skills. The screamo album took a lot of persuading from Irene, and I heard even Sejin had to cajole them a bit. But a holiday album?” He shook his head in disbelief. “Never thought they’d agree to it. Especially now that I’m hearing the songs they were given - could you imagine having to sing this crap with a straight face?”
“Jin?”
“Yeah?”
“Literally what the fuck are you talking about?”
Euphoria were chameleons, constantly changing their look and their sound. But that was all them. Always their idea, always their music.
Wasn’t it?
Jin stared at you. “Oh, Princess, tell me you know.”
“I know what?” Your eyes narrowed.
“That Beyond the Sound is responsible for all of Euphoria’s crazy reinventions? The company plans out every album, from concept to songs?” His eyebrows shot up at your silence. “Oh no, you really thought they came up with all that crap?” He gestured at the stage. “Do they look like they want to be performing this tripe?”
The song ended, shifting into another original tune, “Don’t Be Elfish,” as you carefully examined the members on stage. Jimin’s eyes were as lifeless as a doll’s as he crooned into the microphone. Taehyung strummed his bass mindlessly, staring into space. Jungkook looked like an automaton, drumming mechanically.
They all seemed absolutely miserable.
Holy shit, how could you have missed this? All this time, thinking the band was full of chaotic wildlings who jumped from genre to genre on a whim, with no rhyme or reason. Assuming they were monsters that couldn’t be tamed.
And why had you thought these things? Because that’s what your company told you.
“Why?”
“Why what?”
You twisted in your seat to face him. “Why would they agree to this? To any of this?”
“Their contract. Beyond the Sound basically locked them into a terrible deal. Their original manager was… not a good guy.” He pursed his lips. “He made a hell of a lot of money off of them when they signed with Beyond the Sound, then split. Our company uses them as guinea pigs, trying to tap into new markets. The punk rock album got them a bunch of deals, but that last album didn’t net any new clients. Or fans.”
Well, shit. Maybe you needed to stop assuming so much based on what you heard around the office. That place seemed to be overflowing with lies.
Then again, how did you know that Jin wasn’t lying to you right now? Why should you trust him? He’d probably heard all this stuff through the rumor mill, too.
“That is… unfortunate. But at the end of the day, they signed on the dotted line. They agreed to this.” Even as the words left your lips, you doubted them slightly. But if you had to pick between listening to your employer or listening to your maddening coworker, you were choosing Beyond the Sound. “If they want those albums to sell, they’ll suck it up and sing those terrible songs.”
Were you imagining things or did Jin look disappointed with your response?
“Right. It’s all about the bottom line. Good thing you’re here to keep everything under control, Princess.” He leaned back again, out of sight.
But not out of mind, as his words kept tumbling through your head.
“This one’s for you, noona,” Jimin’s voice boomed over the sound system, interrupting your thoughts. You looked up to see him pointing at you, and the band launched into a slinky cover of “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).” Jimin’s smooth voice poured out of the speakers, but it wasn’t loud enough to cover Jin’s laughter behind you.
“Shut it, Jin!”
**********
The band seemed beat by the time rehearsal ended. The ride back to the Blitzen Inn was quiet. You didn’t mind, because you were still trying to make sense of your conversations with Jimin and Jin.
But everyone perked up once they saw what a feast Yoongi had whipped up for dinner. Large slabs of meat, various types of potatoes and grilled vegetables, and freshly baked breads covered the dining room table. As everyone tucked in, Hobi played the gracious host, a role he was well suited to, asking questions and keeping the conversation rolling.
“So, this is your first time visiting the east coast in winter?” he inquired, pouring you some more wine.
“Mmmhmm. Any time I’ve been here before was during the summer.” You swirled your wine, letting it breathe. “I’m a little disappointed, honestly, that there’s no snow. I’ve never seen any.”
“Never?” Jin interjected, looking surprised. “None at all?”
You shook your head sadly.
“Not even at a ski resort or anything?”
“What exactly aren’t you grasping about never, Jin?”
“Well, I have some good news for you, then,” Hobi cut in with a smile. “They’re predicting we’ll get a little dusting tonight. Not much, but enough to cover the ground, at least.”
“It’s gonna snow?” Jungkook looked up from wolfing down his food. “When?”
“Later tonight. Again, it’s probably not going to amount to much, but at least you’ll get to finally see some,” Hobi said to you.
What a pleasant surprise. None of the weather channels you’d monitored prior to the trip had mentioned anything about snow. You didn’t care if it wasn’t going to amount to much - all you wanted to was to see those precious little snowflakes drifting down, just once. That would be more than enough.
“You know, snowy nights are perfect for cuddling by the fire,” Jimin informed you, sliding his chair closer. “Just picture it - you, me, a bottle of wine. Curled up on the couch, keeping each other warm. Doesn’t that sound nice?”
“What is this weird obsession with keeping me ‘warm’? Am I giving off hypothermic vibes?” you scoffed, taking a swig of wine.
Jin cackled as you held out your glass for more wine.
Dessert was yet another delicious extravaganza, this time a grand selection of little cakes. Yoongi truly did spoil his guests. Afterward, Jin retired to his room to “network,” which you assumed meant he was probably going to nap. The band took up residence in the library, crowding around the piano as they discussed some tweaks to the concert setlist. Hobi and Yoongi were in the kitchen cleaning, so you had the sitting room to yourself. You turned on a fluffy holiday movie, a guilty pleasure of yours, letting it play in the background as you answered some work emails.
It wasn’t until halfway through the movie - just as the confused protagonist was about to realize she might have feelings for the antagonizing male lead - that you caught something flickering in the fading evening light outside the window.
Snowflakes.
Quickly setting your work aside, you dashed out into the hallway, grabbing your puffer coat from the rack by the door. Others must’ve noticed the snow as well, judging by the excited shouts you heard behind you as you pulled the front door open.
The world outside was awash in white. Snowflakes tumbled through the air, gently coming to rest on the lawn. You walked through the yard, tempted to spin in circles like the lead of one of those silly holiday movies you loved to hate.
Aw, fuck it.
Arms outstretched, you twirled, giggling to yourself as you tilted your face towards the sky. Opening your mouth, you caught a few flakes, letting them melt away on your tongue.
Eventually, your wandering led you to the gazebo, where you sat on a bench under the Christmas lights, feeling a strange sense of peace. The world was hushed, a serene silence falling over everything. You weren’t sure how long you’d been sitting there when you heard Jin’s voice.
“Oh, I missed it.”
You shifted and saw Jin walking towards the gazebo. He shuffled forward to join you, wrapped in his red plaid coat again, with a navy scarf tied around his neck, a rosy glow on his cheeks as the night air nipped at his face.
“You haven’t missed anything. It’s been snowing for a while.”
“Yeah, but I wanted to see it start. There’s something really magical about those first flakes.”
“Is that so?” Standing, you propped yourself against one of the pillars holding the roof up, and turned your face to the sky to watch the snow, sighing happily. Not even his irksome presence could bother you right now.
He nodded, stepping a little closer. “I grew up in the north, you know. There’s this moment when the cold air gets so crisp, you can almost feel time slowing, like it’s starting to freeze, too. The world stills. And then the clouds themselves begin to fall, bit by bit, fluttering to the ground as tiny snowflakes.”
“Fuck, maybe you should be in PR instead of management. You’re really selling it,” you commented drily.
Jin smiled, huffing a soft laugh. “I’m just trying to explain how beautiful that moment is. I really wanted to experience it again. And I…” He trailed off, shaking his head.
“You what?” you prompted him.
He cleared his throat. “I wanted to see the first snow with you. To share it with you, since I know you’ve never experienced it before.”
“Oh.”
You hadn’t realized how close he was standing until you caught his gaze, his eyes shimmering like the delicate flakes that danced around you. His tongue licked nervously at his plump lips as his face angled down towards yours.
He looked so handsome in the soft glow of the Christmas lights, you could almost forget how annoying he was.
Almost.
“Well, that’s just too bad,” you murmured, stepping down from the gazebo onto the path back to the house.
“Did you enjoy it, at least?” he called out as you retreated.
“It was lovely,” you replied over your shoulder, not looking back.
Nearly everyone had drifted outside to admire the snowfall. Hobi and Yoongi cuddled on the porch swing as Jungkook perched on the edge of the steps, attempting to pack what little snow was on the ground into a snowball. You briefly considered bribing him to aim for Jin.
Meanwhile, Jimin leaned in the doorway. “Come watch the snow with me, noona,” he wheedled, batting his eyelashes. “Look.” He pointed to where a little green sprig dangled over the porch swing. “Want to take a turn after our hosts get up?”
You rolled your eyes. “Give it up, Park.”
“Aw, come on, you don’t want to sit under the mistletoe with me?” He pouted. Despite your best efforts, your gaze flitted to his luscious mouth briefly. You knew millions of his fans would die to be in your shoes at that moment.
If only you could switch with any one of them.
“Believe it or not, I don’t.” you remarked, sweeping past him into the house. Over your shoulder, you called out, “Besides, mistletoe is not romantic. It’s a parasite!”
**********
“Don’t worry. He knows you’re not interested,” a deep voice rang out from the library as you passed by.
You wandered into the room to find Taehyung sitting at the baby grand, fingers gently coaxing a soft melody from the keys.
“What did you say?”
“Jimin.” His dark eyes assessed you as you took a seat in a plump armchair near the wall of books. “He knows. He’s just flirting for show.”
“Jimin? The world renowned player?” You frowned. “Flirting is his first language. What do you mean, it’s for ‘show’?”
“He’s acting. Playing the part written for him, to prevent the truth from getting out.”
You were lost. “And that is…?”
“He’s celibate.”
“Shut up!” You popped upright, stunned. “But… all those scandals! What about the flings, the one night stands?
“They never existed.” The key changed, shifting to minor. “All lies, dreamt up by Beyond the Sound, to deflect from the reality of the situation.”
“Why?” Once again, you found yourself struggling to understand. “Why would they fabricate such wild stories? Why hide the fact he’s celibate?”
Taehyung laughed mirthlessly. “To mold him into their desired image. Who wants a lead singer who’s abstinate? Euphoria needs a sexy star for fans to ooh and ahh over.”
Mulling his words, you fell silent, allowing Taehyung’s song to wash over you as you reflected. He was such a gifted pianist, and you mourned all the music he’d never been given the chance to play, being forced to perform Beyond the Sound’s dreck instead.
“Taehyung… when you were working on the punk album… why did you lock yourself in the studio for six days?”
If the sudden change in topic threw him, you wouldn’t know it. He continued to play as he answered. “I never did that. That’s when I flew back to Korea, to be with my family when my father was ill.” He dipped his head, striking the keys hard as the music swelled. “But we couldn’t have that getting out, could we? Wouldn’t exactly look like a tempermental artiste if it turned out that not only did I not write the album, but I spent the time I was supposed to be doing so at my ailing father’s bedside.”
Fuck, was anything you’d ever heard at work even remotely true?
“And what about Jungkook? I remember Irene comparing him to a wild animal, running untamed.”
He gave you a look. “You’ve seen him. He’s not some feral beast. He's… he’s a puppy. Too much energy, sure, but also full of boundless enthusiasm. And sweetness. He’d do anything for any of us, even our hosts if they asked.”
You ruminated for a moment. “Okay, so, basically, everything I know about Euphoria is a lie. But… why are you telling me all of this?” you asked.
He shrugged, fingers gently coaxing out quiet notes as the song began to diminuendo. “If I can be blunt?”
Waving your hand, you granted him permission.
“You don’t strike me as the next Irene. Or Sejin. You still have a soul.” He grinned sadly. “Don’t let Beyond the Sound take that from you.”
You blinked. Well, shit, you had told him he could be blunt.
The grandfather clock in the hallway struck ten.
“Don’t stay up too late, Taehyung,” you advised as you stood to leave. “Even if we don’t have an early start tomorrow, you should still get some rest.”
“Noted, noona.”
As you crossed the room, he called out your name, and you paused in the doorway.
“Maybe we’re not the only ones who deserve a second look.” His song ended, the last note sustaining as he turned to face you.
Okay, he was getting a little too personal now. But damn if he didn’t have perfect timing. Like a true artist.
With a curt nod, you walked away, heading for the quiet respite of your bed, and the blissful promise of sleep.
**********
Snow. Everywhere you looked, as you stared out the window the next morning. The world was covered in white, shimmering in the cloud-filtered glow of the morning sun.
Bundling up in your robe, still dressed in your silky pajama set, you trudged downstairs and found Jin, Yoongi, and Hobi already gathered in the sitting room, watching the news. All were still in their pajamas as well. Jin was of course wearing a set of Louis Vuitton sleepwear. At this point, you assumed he’d just bought out the entire boutique.
“That’s right, Bob, as you can see here, we’re up to 13 inches and snow is still coming down! Looks like we might get that white Christmas after all!” the orange-hued weatherman yapped as he pointed to the screen behind him.
“Someone needs to lay off the self-tanner,” Jin snarked as Yoongi greeted you with a steaming mug of coffee. You were really going to miss the incredible service here when you returned home.
“Did he say 13 inches?” you inquired, blowing into your beverage.
Hobi nodded. “So far!”
Walking over to the windows, you peered outside. The road leading to the house was nowhere in sight. Yoongi joined you, munching on a biscuit held in one hand, the other clutching his coffee.
“At what time do they plow the road?”
Hobi and Yoongi laughed before they caught your expression.
“Oh, you’re serious?” Hobi blinked.
You frowned. “Sorry, lifelong beachtown resident here. I don’t know how it works when it snows. The city plows the roads, don’t they?” Leaving Yoongi at the window, you plopped down on the couch, grabbing a biscuit from a tray on the coffee table and slathering on some butter.
“Sure, they plow public roads. But we’re on a private road out here. So we’d have to plow it ourselves. And we don’t own anything that could do the job.” Yoongi explained. Almost 24 hours in their house and this was the first time you’d heard Yoongi actually speak.
“Plus, anyone who could do it for us is going to be busy today. And even if we could get the road plowed, the snow hasn’t actually stopped. So if you leave, you might end up snowed in somewhere else.” Hobi continued. “Or worse, you could get into a horrible accident on the slick roads.”
Jin sipped his coffee. “That all sounds terrible. Essentially, you’re saying we’re stuck here.” “For now, at least,” Hobi stated.
You and Jin exchanged a look. But before you could speak, a loud whoop sounded from upstairs. The two of you rushed to the doorway to see what was happening. “WOOOOOO! LOOK AT ALL THAT SNOW!”
Jungkook stampeded down the stairs, clad in only a towel. His dark purple hair dripped puddles on the hardwood as he dashed barefoot to the front door, wrenching it open. “I’m gonna make snow angels!” he shouted as he sprinted outside.
“What just happened?” you asked, stunned.
“Am I seeing things or is he only wearing a towel?” Jin asked.
From his post at the window, Yoongi smirked. “Well, he was wearing a towel.”
The speed with which you snapped out of your trance and ran outside was nothing short of superhuman. “Jungkook, naked snow angels aren’t a thing!!”
**********
By midday, the snowfall total was up to 18 inches. And there seemed to be no end in sight.
“I don’t understand,” you groused, still in your robe, still on the couch. “Aren’t these people supposed to be professionals? Don’t they make an entire career out of predicting this stuff? How did they not see this coming??”
Irene had done an incredible amount of legwork for the trip, including compiling initial weather reports and consulting almanacs to determine how close to the holiday the concert could occur without the threat of inclement weather. Once you’d taken over, you’d done the same, making sure to keep updated on any changes that could potentially derail the concert.
Not a single report had said anything about a freaking blizzard.
You mentally added meteorologists to your ever-growing list of enemies. It was practically a novel at this point.
Everyone was now gathered in the sitting room, all staring at the tv in surprise and dismay. Well, you were dismayed. Jungkook was thrilled, Taehyung and Jimin were a strange mix of concerned and excited, and Hobi and Yoongi were indifferent.
And Jin? He was relaxed as always.
“It is what it is,” Jin proclaimed sagely. You stopped glaring at the weatherman long enough to glare at him instead. “What? I’m just saying, we can’t do anything or go anywhere right now. Might as well make the best of it.”
“That’s the idea!” Hobi chirped, nudging his husband. “Yoongs, maybe we can whip up a special snow day dinner for everyone? Something to warm them and lift their spirits at the same time.”
Yoongi tipped his head, contemplating. “Let me see what I have to work with. Maybe some sort of stew? Of course, if we’re having stew, I’ll need to bake some sort of crusty bread to go with it…” He trailed off as he strolled into the kitchen.
“Perfect.” Hobi clapped his hands, rubbing them excitedly. “Until then, we have plenty to keep you entertained! In addition to books, there are puzzles and games in the library. And we have lots of extra winter gear on hand, in case anyone wants to go outside.”
“If anyone needs me, I’ll be napping.” Taehyung announced as he disappeared upstairs.
“You said there are puzzles in the library?” Jimin inquired, drawing a curious look from you. “Some people meditate. I do jigsaws, okay? They’re very calming.” He wandered off in search of his zen.
“Jungkook, have you ever made a snowman?”
Jungkook just looked at Hobi with wide eyes, who giggled and gestured for the drummer to follow him.
“Hey, do you hear that?” Jin cupped his hand behind his ear.
“I don’t hear anything.”
“Exactly! Isn’t it wonderful?” Jin grinned. “If this snow gets us out of babysitting for a few hours, then it can’t be that bad, can it?” He stretched and leaned back on the couch, flipping idly through the channels. “I think I’m just going to watch a movie. What about you?”
“Are you serious?” you sputtered incredulously. “What am I going to do? I’m going to do my job! Which is what you should be doing!”
Confusion twisted Jin’s pretty features. “What exactly am I supposed to do? Did you not just have the same conversation as the rest of us? We’re stuck here!”
“Just because our hosts don’t want to hire a plow doesn’t mean we should just give up! I refuse to believe we’re just housebound for the day. There has to be a way to get someone out here to dig us out!”
“The band will be fine if they can’t rehearse today. They’re pros.”
All you could think about was your boss’s threat about Irene not being the only one leaving Beyond the Sound. “Sure, that’s fine, but what about the fan signing event tonight? We need that support!”
Jin frowned, eyebrows drawing in tight. “Come on, you heard what Hobi and Yoongi said. The plows are going to be busy with public roads. And we shouldn’t go out there until the snow stops. Do you really want to spend the night at that Christmas shop if we end up snowed in?”
You threw up your hands. “No, of course not! But I can’t just sit here and do nothing. I’m not built that way.”
“Built what way?”
“Built like you!”
“Yah, what does that mean?” He blinked, sitting up.
“It means that I can’t just take it easy and smile and wink and expect everything to magically fall into place for me!” All the frustration that had been building as the snow fell was starting to bubble to the surface as your voice rose slightly. “If you can’t use your charms to get it done, then it’s not getting done! Meanwhile I work my ass off, because I actually give a damn about my job!”
“Again with the snide comments about me not taking things seriously! Is that really what you think of me?” Jin asked, jumping to his feet. “That I’m some lazy asshole who doesn’t give a shit?” “Well, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck and shoots finger guns like a fucking lameass duck... ” Springing to your feet, you took a step forward as he stepped back. “Yes, that’s exactly what I think!”
At that moment, Yoongi walked into the room carrying a tray of cookies. Spotting the two of you circling the coffee table in an intense standoff, he smoothly executed a swift one-eighty degree turn, and walked back out of the room.
“Are you kidding me? I’m the only one here who cares!”
Laughing dismissively, you doubled over. “You? YOU? Come the fuck on!”
“Yes, me! Because I am the only one concerned about our clients!”
Red. Your vision literally turned red for a second as your blood boiled. “Excuse me?? How dare you insinuate that I don’t care about them!”
“It’s true!” he nearly shouted, gesturing wildly with his hands as he spoke. “You care about the job, sure - just the numbers! Ratings, views, sales. That’s it! That’s all you give a damn about! Meanwhile, I’m trying to ensure that our clients - the actual living breathing musicians we’re meant to serve, the people - are safe and sound and happy! Look at right now, for example - you really want to send them out there in this?” He waved his hand towards the window. “Why? Just so they can sell a few albums?”
“It’s not just a few albums, it’s also our jobs on the line,” you hissed.
Jin just shook his head. “Not to mention, they’ve told us how miserable they are with Beyond the Sound - don’t look so shocked, I know what they’ve said to you, because they’ve said it to me, too! But all you do is recite the company line to get them to shut up and do whatever is best for the numbers - not what is best for them!”
“Hey!”
A loud voice hollered from upstairs. You and Jin drifted into the hallway to peer up the stairs at Taehyung, who leaned over the railing, looking pissed off in his plaid pajamas.
“Some people are trying to sleep! Either take this outside, or buy me some better ear plugs!”
Neither of you responded, locked in a fierce staring contest.
“Well?” You gestured in Taehyung’s direction. “Your client is not happy, Jin! Shouldn’t you do something about it?”
Jin glared at you. “Just tell me - are you planning on doing your oh-so-important work out of this room today?”
You blinked, confused at the abrupt shift. “Maybe? I haven’t decided yet, why?”
“Because,” he yelled over his shoulder as he stomped up the stairs, “I want to be wherever you are not!” He punctuated his sentence by slamming his bedroom door shut.
Jimin’s head poked out of the library doorway. He clicked his tongue disapprovingly. “Uh-oh, Mom and Dad are fighting. Looks like we’re getting two Christmases this year!”
“Shut it, Park!” you snapped, whirling and stalking back into the sitting room. Sinking onto the couch, you stared at the ceiling, wondering exactly when things had gone from potential nightmare to outright catastrophic disaster.
**********
Despite you doing your best all afternoon to find one, there were no plows anywhere even remotely nearby who could dig you out. Which meant the fan-signing event at Santa’s Workshop had to be cancelled.
By the time dinner ended, you were starting to worry that the concert tomorrow might also suffer the same fate.
And that no matter how hard you tried, you weren’t going to pull off this assignment after all.
A long dram of your hot cocoa did little to settle your nerves, despite the large kick of peppermint schnapps Yoongi had generously added for you. This was your second mug, and you were still too keyed up to feel the effects of the liquor.
“At some point, it will stop snowing, right?” You asked the question half in jest, gazing out the window of the sitting room at the flakes that just kept falling and falling, but the tone of your voice betrayed your anxiety.
For once, you’d gotten your wish. The world outside was indeed a sea of white. Unfortunately, it seemed to be just as boundless as the ocean itself.
“Don’t worry,” Hobi said comfortingly, “it can’t snow forever.” He was lying on one of the velvet couches, still keeping an eye on the weather channel.
Jimin and Yoongi sat on the floor around the coffee table, assembling a jigsaw of a covered bridge together. Jungkook was draped across the other couch, lost in his VR headset again. You could hear Taehyung in the library, tickling the ivories and providing you with rather soothing background music.
Or it would have been soothing were you not wound so tightly that you were about to pop.
Jin had returned to his room as soon as the dishes were cleared from the dinner table. You were fine with that. Let the baby pout. After what he’d said to you, accusing you of only caring about numbers, you hoped you didn’t see his stupid face again for as long as possible.
Yoongi glanced up at his husband, idly flipping a puzzle piece over in his long fingers. “Remember that snowstorm two years ago? Snowed for almost 48 hours straight. I think that’s the longest I’ve ever seen.” You must’ve looked frightened at the prospect of the snow continuing for another day, because he hastily added, “But I’m sure that won’t be the case today. That was a freak storm, a fluke.”
“You mean, a fluke like an unexpected blizzard?” you squeaked.
Yoongi’s mouth set in a firm line. “This is why I usually don’t talk to our guests.”
Hobi rubbed his husband’s shoulder reassuringly. “It’s okay, dear.”
“If the concert’s cancelled, is it really the end of the world?” Jimin mused. “The album will drop no matter what. Our fans know it’s coming.”
You bit your lip, remembering Sejin’s words. “There’s a lot more riding on this than you know, Park,” you muttered under your breath, turning away from the others in the room to stare forlornly out the window.
As you watched the swirling eddies of snow drift past the window, something gnawed at you.
You’d always known Beyond the Sound was a greedy corporation, bent on dominating the charts and keeping the cash flowing in. You weren’t naive. Or at least, you hadn’t thought you were. But how had you missed the way your company was treating its clients? You truly thought they were being taken care of while Beyond the Sound rode their success all the way to the bank.
All the conversations you’d had in the past 24 hours left you unsettled, and had you wondering if you even wanted your promotion anymore. Yet you couldn’t stop thinking of it as already yours. Maybe if the concert got cancelled, it wouldn’t be the end of the world, as Jimin had said… even if you lost your job?
Damn, the schnapps must’ve been kicking in, if you were contemplating unemployment without batting an eye.
With a sigh, you wandered away from the window. It was funny how quickly you’d tired of that unending whiteness outside.
Hobi patted the space on the couch next to him and you took a seat.
“So now what?” you asked. “We just… sit here and keep waiting?”
“Yep.” Hobi ran his fingers through Yoongi’s hair as he leaned against his legs. You averted your gaze, trying to ignore the way your heart panged at the soft sight. It had been so long since someone had stroked your hair like that. “We hunker down and wait for it to pass. Eventually, we’ll have to dig ourselves out, and figure out the plow situation. But until the snow stops, there’s nothing for us to do, but eat, drink, and be merry!” He grinned, his sunny personality not dimmed in the slightest by the stressful situation unfolding around him.
What it must be like to be an optimist. Couldn’t be you.
“We’ll be fine, noona,” Jimin concurred, smiling reassuringly. “As long as the - “
The room was suddenly plunged into darkness. Total, complete blackness, almost smothering you. Your heart leapt into your throat.
“ - power doesn’t go out.”
Yoongi’s voice piped up. “You just had to say something about the power, didn’t you?”
**********
An hour later, the electricity was still out. Candles placed around the sitting room provided weak illumination, shadows flickering as everyone settled in around the fireplace.
Well, everyone minus Jin, who remained in his room. Maybe he was sleeping through the blackout. Maybe he was still being a jerk. Those things weren’t mutually exclusive.
You’d finally shed your bathrobe, replacing it with the down comforter from your bed. Everyone else was similarly bundled in their bedding as you waited to find out what was going on outside.
A hand-cranked radio brought you bad news - the power was out for more than half the state, with no estimates of when it would return. Your hosts had some minor good news, in that they had a gas-powered generator, but it could only run for 12 hours max before it would need refilling. And that would be difficult to do if it kept snowing.
“We should reserve the generator to power the fridge and to keep the water from the well running,” Yoongi explained. “For now, I think it’s best we all hang out downstairs, where the fireplaces can help us stay warm.”
“What about Jin-hyung?” a pile of blankets on the floor asked. A purple-haired head poked out. “Should someone go get him?”
Everyone looked at you.
“Why me?” you bristled. “You all heard that asshole earlier. Fuck, I think the surrounding states heard him announce he doesn’t want to be anywhere near me!”
“Maybe this is a good chance to apologize,” Taehyung intoned, leveling a look in your direction. You shot back a glare, and he suddenly seemed to find the dancing flames in the fireplace very interesting.
Jimin wouldn’t meet your eye, and Jungkook dove back into his blankets. With a frustrated sigh, you arranged your comforter around yourself like a cape, and angrily stalked upstairs.
**********
Armed with a flashlight, courtesy of Hobi, you exhaled loudly before knocking on Jin’s door.
“Jin? Are you awake?”
Silence. He was probably sleeping after all. Well, you tried, so maybe everyone could get off your back.
A muffled voice called out as you turned to leave. “What do you want?”
Just the sound of his voice made your teeth clench. “Everyone’s downstairs waiting for the power to come back. It’s warmer down there, with the fireplaces. You should come down too.”
No response.
“Jin, did you hear me? You shouldn’t stay upstairs right now.” You frowned. “Don’t freeze your ass off because you’re a stubborn - “
The door flew open, and your rant died on your lips as you were met by a very rumpled Jin, who’d clearly just woken up. His normally polished facade was missing. Instead, he looked very soft, eyes blinking sleepily, mouth yawning gently. He still wore his pajama pants, but he’d removed his top.
Your eyes swept over his broad chest and the curve of his biceps as he leaned his arm on the doorframe. He was more well-built than you’d ever imagined, a slight ripple of abs greeting you as you jerked your gaze away before it drifted too far south.
Not that you’d ever imagined him shirtless. Of course not.
Well, maybe when you’d first met, before he’d opened his mouth.
Suddenly incredibly conscious of where you were looking, you stared at his hair. Such majestic fluff, the shiny strands bouncing as he dragged a hand over his face, peering at you questioningly. You longed to run your fingers through it. It probably felt like silk.
Okay, no more schnapps for you.
“Stubborn what?”
You shook your head. “Nevermind. Look, just come down, okay? There’s no estimate on when the power will return, so we’re keeping warm by the fire.”
The gaze that swept over you was cold, appraising. “Nah. I’m fine here.”
Jin tried to close the door, but you stuck your foot in, blocking it. He kept pushing, and you shoved against the door, stumbling through the gap into his room.
“Hey! I’m trying to keep you from dying of hypothermia, you prick!” you snapped, yanking your blanket through the door as it swung shut. You set the flashlight on the floor, aiming it upward so that the room was dimly lit by the beam.
He just huffed out a noisy breath, flopping onto his bed. “Don’t be so dramatic. It’s not that cold.”
“Not yet, but it will be, the longer we go without the heating on.”
“Oh, now you’re an expert on how exposure works? Great. Let me just settle in for this lecture,” he grumbled, burying his face into his pillow.
You were cursed. That was the only explanation for why you were stuck with this giant manbaby, in an unexpected blizzard, during the most important week of your career.
And you were over it.
Tossing your blanket cape to the floor, you stalked across the room and jumped onto his bed, jostling him violently.
“What the fuck are you doing?” he yelped, rolling onto his back. You drew yourself up onto your knees, straddling his calves as you glared down at him.
“Clearly, you and I are never going to see eye-to-eye on how we work. That’s fine. We don’t have to be friends. I just need you to stop being a baby and come downstairs because I’m pretty sure I’m not getting that promotion if I return to work without you because you froze to death!”
Jin sat up quickly, knocking you off balance as his face suddenly came within inches of yours. “Yah, that promotion is mine, first of all! And secondly, I’m not going to freeze!”
“Why can’t you just do what I’m asking you to?” you snarled, poking him in the chest.
“Why can’t you just realize that maybe your way isn’t the only way!” he retorted, grabbing your hand.
“You drive me insane!”
His eyes flashed as he tugged on your hand, pulling you closer. “The feeling’s mutual, Princess!”
Before you could shout once again about that irritating nickname, his lips smashed against yours.
Despite the quickly chilling room around you, you were burning up, flames licking at your skin as Jin ran his hands down your back, holding you flush against him as your mouths fought for dominance. Biting, tongues colliding, grunting and sighing into one another.
Fuck, he was an incredible kisser. His plump lips felt like heaven as they tangoed viciously with yours. Why the fuck were you always fighting, when you could be doing this instead?
“I bet you’ve been dreaming about this, Princess,” he murmured, mouth gliding down your neck.
Oh, right, because he was a complete asshat.
“Hardly.” Your teeth found his earlobe and you nibbled sharply, making him gasp. “I’m only doing this so you’ll shut the fuck up for a moment and listen to me.”
He laughed, lips vibrating against your throat, and then it was your turn to gasp as he threw you onto your back, covering your body with his own.
The solid warmth of him did nothing to cool you down as he kissed you urgently. Hands roamed everywhere. Your fingers combed through his messy hair, and you belatedly noted that the strands were in fact as smooth as satin.
Jin’s lips trailed down your chest, over your shirt, and stopped at your waist. “I don’t suppose you’d want to take this off,” he said, jerking on the hem of your top, “considering we might turn into icicles at any second.”
Scowling, you shoved him away. “Shut the fuck up and undress me.” Less talking, more action. You didn’t want to think anymore.
You just wanted to feel.
Jin complied, ridding you of your pajamas in seconds. He let out an appreciative hum when he noticed that you wore nothing underneath, hands immediately flying to your breasts, caressing them. Urging you to lie back down, his mouth closed in until he captured a nipple between his teeth.
For several heavenly minutes, no words were spoken. The only sounds in the room were the wet noises of his mouth as he suckled at your tits, lavishing both with attention, and the sighs of satisfaction that spilled from your lips.
Eventually, you broke the spell. “Jin.”
“Mmm?” he hummed around your nipple. Dark eyes gazed at you, and you clenched at the heat you recognized in them.
It was the same blaze that burned in you.
“As nice as this is, can we move things along?” Your pussy ached terribly, dying for his touch.
He snorted, pulling off your tit with a pop. “You really can’t stop and enjoy yourself for very long, can you? Always down to business.”
You would’ve argued, but as he spoke, his hand sank between your legs, finding and stroking your clit. So instead, all that came out was, “Hnnnnnghhh,” as you bucked against him.
“Maybe I need to help you, huh? Show you how to relax.” He licked a line between your breasts, down your navel, towards where his slender fingers were now sliding through your folds. “Ah, so wet. Good. You’re gonna need to be soaking for me.”
“What does that - ohhhhh.”
One long finger slipped inside, crooking, dragging against your inner wall. Your eyes slipped shut in bliss.
Only to reopen in surprise as his mouth closed around your clit.
If you’d thought his lips felt amazing against your mouth, the sensation of him kissing that tiny bud was out of this world. His finger continued to slide inside you as he licked at your slit.
“More,” you demanded breathily, hands digging into the soft sheets of his bed. He was moving too slowly for your liking - wasn’t he burning up, too?
“Patience, Princess. I have to get you ready,” he insisted, slipping a second finger inside. You tossed your head back at the intrusion.
“What the… oh… the fuck do you mean, get me ready? I’m not a fucking virgin, dumbass.”
In response, Jin removed his hand, making you whimper at the loss. He jumped off of the bed and untied the drawstring on his pajama bottoms, letting them drop to the floor.
Holy fucking shit.
“Holy fucking shit,” you gasped, staring at the biggest cock you’d ever seen. Outside of porn, at least. No wonder he was always so confident, so sure of himself. It was easy to know you could always stand on your own two feet when you a third fucking leg to back you up.
He merely grinned, lazily stroking himself as he watched your reaction. “Like I said. I have to get you ready.”
That was going inside you? Fuck. “Well, then get back here and fucking get to work!”
“As you wish, Princess.” He climbed back onto the bed, once again settling between your legs.
“Jin, enough with the damn nicknaooohhhhh.” Your snipe turned into a moan as his fingers scissored you open. A third finger joined the fray and you were lost in rapture for a moment. Even though the stretch felt unusual, the way Jin pumped his hand made your toes curl.
His other hand splayed on your stomach, holding you in place no matter how much you squirmed. He lowered his head to nibble on your thighs, making you squeak, before his tongue plunged into your core.
“I could do this all night,” he professed, grinning mischievously. His chin was slick with your wetness. The sight was incredibly obscene and incredibly arousing. “Just lie here, tasting you, making you come undone on my fingers. Would you like that?”
“Nnnnnoooo,” you groaned, knowing that the way your body reacted to his touches told a different story.
He laughed, eyes crinkling with delight, fingers never ceasing. “I don’t believe you. As a matter of fact, I think I should do just that. Make you cum again and again. Show you how to enjoy yourself.” He licked his lips. “I know I’m enjoying you, that’s for damn sure.”
Part of you wanted to lie there and make him fulfill his threatened promises. But you could see his massive dick as it slapped against his stomach, and all you wanted was to go for a ride.
“Jin.” Somehow you managed to bite back a moan long enough to speak. “Either get me off right now or fuck me.”
“Again with the orders!” He sighed dramatically, rolling his eyes to the ceiling. “Fine. Have it your way, Princess.”
This time, when he pulled his hand away, you didn’t whimper. You full-on wailed.
His shoulders shook with laughter as he rummaged through his suitcase, searching for a condom. “I’m just doing what you told me! See, I’m listening! Isn’t that what you wanted?”
What you wanted was to kiss that stupid smirk right off his handsome face.
He knelt on the bed, making eye contact as he rolled the condom down his impressive length. You shuddered with anticipation, and a little apprehension. Sure, you weren’t a virgin, but none of the men you’d ever been with had been anywhere near as big as Jin.
As if he read your mind, Jin rubbed your thigh soothingly. “We’ll go slow, okay?”
You nodded.
Hovering over you, propped up on one elbow while lining himself up with the other hand, Jin dipped his head to kiss your neck. You tipped your head back, exposing more of your throat, and he took advantage of the slight distraction to slide in.
“Ohhhh.” He didn’t plunge all the way, just enough for you to feel a stretch. He wasn’t just long, he was also girthy, and the combination was intense.
“Okay?” he asked, lips tracing your ear.
“Okay.”
He kept slowly sliding in, checking in with you, until he finally bottomed out. The feeling was unbelievable.
“Still doing all right?”
“I think I can feel you in the back of my throat.”
“And yet somehow, you keep talking.”
“Hey! I - “
He silenced you with a kiss. But it was different than before. Unhurried. As if he had all the time in the world and he intended to use every second.
And then he began to move.
You felt every inch of every stroke with your entire body, nerves alight with overwhelming pleasure. He slowly fucked you, hooking one arm under your thigh and bending it back until your knee pressed into your chest, opening you up even more to him.
He hit you so deep, you saw stars. Literal bursts of light with every thrust. Your nails scraped down his back as you clung to him, nearly out of your mind as you drowned in him. Nuzzling his face in your neck, he murmured how amazing you felt, how fucking tight you were, that you were doing so well, praising you as you writhed beneath him.
“Jin, fuck,” you cried out, fingers digging into his shoulders.
At first, you thought he was huffing for breath, but you quickly realized he was laughing.
“What do you think I’m doing, Princess?”
“Are you seriously cracking stupid jokes right now? Making yourself laugh?!” you grunted as his hips stopped moving while he cackled. “I thought you said it’s only fun for you if others cum first? I’m not fucking cumming yet!”
“Ah, you’re right, you’re not. I guess I should do something about that.”
“No, forget it, I’ll do it myself.” Frustrated, you pushed him away. He retreated to a sitting position, back against the headboard, and you crawled into his lap.
“You wanna ride this big cock?” he cooed.
“Shut the fuck up, Jin.” Obviously, yes, that is what you wanted to do.
“Whatever you want, Princess.” He smirked wickedly, tousled hair falling into his glimmering eyes.
That. Fucking. Name.
Positioning yourself above his large cock, you stared him dead in the eye as you impaled yourself, punctuating your words with every bounce of your hips.
“I fucking told you to stop!” bounce “Calling!” bounce “Me!” bounce “PRINCESS!”
You rode him like a woman possessed, hellbent on chasing your end. He hissed as your hips rolled, and tightened his arms around you.
“What should I call you, then? Hmm?” His lips brushed against your collarbone as he traced his way back to your breasts, tongue swirling circles in your skin as you arched into his hot mouth. “My queen? Sweetheart? Baby?”
A whine escaped your lips, high and needy, at that last word. You clapped a hand over your mouth, as if you could shove it back in, but it was too late. He’d heard.
“Oh, you like that? You want me to call you baby?” He suddenly lurched forward, and you found yourself on your back again. You mewled, and his tongue ran along your neck as he pumped away.
“Okay, baby, you got it.” Over and over, he buried himself deep inside you. His hands knotted in your hair, cradling your head. He kissed you breathless, tongue diving into your mouth and tangling with your own.
He felt so good, but you didn’t want to make love, you wanted him to fuck you and make you cum so hard you forgot your own name, so once again you shoved him away, and then swiftly flipped over, rising onto your hands and knees.
“Enough sweet talk,” you spat, glancing over your shoulder. “Are you going to make me cum or what?” You wiggled your ass.
Jin growled - audibly growled - and wrapped his large hands around your hips as he sank inside you again. You groaned at the change in angle, feeling his dick kiss your cervix, and began to pant as he pounded into you.
“Is this what my baby wants? Just a good, rough fuck?” Teeth sank into your shoulder, and you muffled a scream by pressing your face into a pillow. “Huh?”
You nodded, only to jump in shock as a hand swiftly smacked your ass. “Ah!”
“Use your words, baby,” he commanded. “I know you’re not shy. Tell me what you want.”
“Fuck, yes, give it to me hard,” you moaned.
He grunted, palm slapping your ass again, and you rolled your face to the side, swearing as the tempo of his rutting increased.
“Ah! Ah! Fuck!”
“You look so fucking good, all bent over for me.” Another smack landed on your cheek. “Always knew you would take this cock so well.”
“Stop talking!” you sneered, rubbing your clit furiously. “Just get me off!”
His fingers pinched your nipples and you yelped. “Still giving orders? Do I need to fuck you harder? Hold on, baby.”
There was no way he could possibly pound you any more furiously. And yet. He had you practically bouncing off the bed as he began to grunt harshly. Beyond words, all you could do was choke out strangled sobs as his hips slammed into you mercilessly.
“Is that what you need?”
“Ah! Yes!”
His strong hands flattened against your stomach, pulling you so your back was flush against his chest. He stilled for a moment, and you fought to catch your breath. You were a fucking mess, tongue lolling out of your mouth as you reclined against him, wanting more more more.
“Fuck, baby, you feel so good,” his husky voice rumbled in your ear. “I wanna feel this sweet cunt cum all over me. Are you ready?”
All you could do was moan.
“All right. Help me out.” He slid two fingers into your mouth. “Suck.”
You swirled your tongue over his long digits, keening as he slowly pulled his dick out and plunged back in again, thrusting into you so deeply, your eyes rolled back into your head. He hissed as your teeth grazed the rough skin of his fingers.
His other hand slid towards your throat.
“Want me to?” he whispered into your ear.
You nodded, then remembered how to speak. “Please!”
“If it’s too much, tap three times. Show me,” he rasped.
You tapped his arm once, twice, then a third time. Then you whined as his soaking fingers found your clit, rubbing the sensitive bead frantically.
Jin began to squeeze the sides of your throat, not enough to hurt, but enough to make you dizzy. His grip held you in place as he continued to snap his hips into you, all the while never stopping the way he strummed your clit.
Your head began to spin, from the lack of oxygen combined with the intense pleasure radiating from your core, where Jin’s thick cock and stroking fingers were too much, it was all too much, and you couldn’t take it, you couldn’t -
“Let go,” he ordered you, and his hand fell away from your neck.
You inhaled, blood rushing, eyes closing, legs collapsing as you shattered into a million pieces in Jin’s arms.
White-hot pulses of sheer ecstasy rolled through you as you climaxed with a loud cry. Jin held you up with one arm as he felt your walls tighten around him, and then he was cumming, face buried in your hair as he cursed a filthy string of obscenities.
Jin released his grip on your stomach, and you dropped onto the bed, exhausted, smothering your face into the pillow. He laid on his back next to you, his arm over his eyes as his chest heaved.
“You okay, baby?” A hand reached out, gently stroking your back as you tried to steady your breathing.
Oh fuck, he wasn’t going to want to cuddle now, was he? Your mind began to clear as your high abated, and the reality of what you’d just done hit you hard.
“I hope that was good for you, Jin, because it’s never happening again.” Throwing one leg over the edge of the bed, you tried to slip out, but a pair of arms wrapped around your waist, and you found yourself locked in his embrace instead.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa! Where are you running off to, baby?”
You wriggled, trying to break free. How was he so strong? “I’m not running, we’re just done. And stop calling me baby. You don’t have to keep saying that, the moment’s passed.”
Jin spoke, voice a little more subdued than usual. “Right, the moment’s over. Back to business, then?”
He let go, and you rolled away. In no time, you were dressed, wrapping your comforter around yourself again. You grabbed the flashlight, and as the beam shifted, you caught sight of Jin’s face. Something you couldn’t identify shifted across it.
You blinked, and it was gone. The smooth facade was back in place as he looked at you.
“I’ll be down later. The cool air feels good right now.”
It did, but you still wanted to leave.
“Okay. We’ll save you a spot by the fire.”
A vague hum answered you as the door swung shut.
**********
You awake feeling stiff the next morning, curled in a little ball. Stretching, you extended your legs over the edge of your bed, kicking your feet.
“Ouch!”
Oh shit, right, you didn’t sleep in your bed last night.
From your makeshift bed on the couch in the sitting room, you glanced down at where Jimin was sitting, rubbing his head.
“Sorry, Park,” you apologized. Wincing slightly, you sat up. You were very sore, but there was no way to stretch that out.
Jungkook was sprawled on the other couch, with Taehyung splayed on the floor below. Both were snoring lightly. You assumed Yoongi and Hobi were in their bedroom, since it had a fireplace of its own.
And there was Jin, curled up on the floor behind the couch.
You watched him sleep, contemplating. What if you hadn’t run away last night? Would it really have been so bad to wake up in those arms?
“Good morning,” Hobi called out as he entered the room. You put a finger to your mouth, pointing to the men still sleeping. He ducked his head slightly, and beckoned for you to follow him, pantomiming drinking to let you know there was coffee.
Wrapping yourself in your comforter like a human burrito, you wandered into the dining room, Jimin trailing close behind. There were already cinnamon rolls on the table, steaming hot, and mugs waiting for coffee.
“I don’t know if you noticed, but the electricity came back during the night,” Yoongi said, carrying a pot of coffee out of the kitchen.
That explained why you felt so warm in your blanket. The heat was on.
“And in other good news…” Hobi pointed at the window.
“It stopped snowing!” you cheered. You grabbed your mug to peek out the window. The snow was piled so high. There was probably no point in even bothering to ask about a plow coming, but you felt compelled to anyway. “We’re still not going anywhere today, are we?”
Hobi shook his head. “I’m sorry. I hate to say it, but I think you’re going to be stuck here a while longer.”
“So the concert is probably off,” Jimin said, pouring some sugar into his coffee.
You nodded. “I’m afraid so.”
“The concert’s off?” Jungkook asked as he stumbled into the room, yawning.
“Yeah. Concert’s off, power’s on, snow’s stopped. Have some coffee,” Jimin replied.
Before long, Taehyung wandered in, hair impressively fluffy from his slumber, and then Jin, once again clad in his full pajama set, taking the seat next to you. Word about the concert rippled around the table as Yoongi set out another ridiculous breakfast.
You tore into a second cinnamon roll, again lamenting that eventually you’d have to leave this place and Yoongi’s amazing meals behind, and were about to ask Hobi how he and Yoongi met when Jin cleared his throat.
“Hey.” He bent towards you, voice hushed. “Can we talk about last night?”
You stared at him, horrified. He wanted to talk about what you’d done, here? At the breakfast table? In front of everyone and your cinnamon roll?
“There’s nothing to talk about,” you whispered, sipping your coffee.
“Really?” Jin shot you a look. “You have no comment about what we did? Not even the way I choked you until you came on my big dick?”
Coffee shot into your nose as you inhaled sharply at his words. Hobi reached over and patted you on the back, trying to help you clear your lungs. You glared at Jin as you recovered.
“Watch what you say!” you hissed. “This isn’t the place or time!” You also wanted to ask if he was incapable of referring to his own dick without commenting on the size, but really didn’t want to be overheard.
“So where and when, then?”
“Nowhere and never!” Tossing your napkin on the table, you abruptly stood. “I’m going to go shower,” you announced to the table, and quickly strode away before Jin could respond, dragging your blanket behind you like a fuzzy tail.
**********
Minutes after you’d retreated to the safety of your room, you lay on your bed, wrapped once again in your comforter. You knew you should shower, but you didn’t want to move. What you wanted, actually, was to become one with the bed. Just transform into a non-sentient pile of fluff and live out the rest of your days without having to think at all.
A knock came at the door. Jin called out your name. “Come on. Let me in.”
“Go away!” you shouted, fuming. “Can’t you take a hint? I don’t want to talk!”
“Fine. Then we won’t talk. Just open up.”
What the fuck did that mean? You opened the door to find him reclining against the doorframe on the other side.
Why was he always leaning over you? Staring down at you with those big brown eyes, those long lashes, that pretty pink mouth.
Fuck.
Yanking him by the collar of his shirt, you pulled him inside your room, slamming the door shut. He reacted lightning fast, spinning you around and pinning you against the door.
You glowered up at him, angry that he wouldn’t leave you alone. Angry at yourself for not wanting him to. Daring him silently to make the first move, because you’d be damned if you would.
He did.
Lips. On your mouth, your cheek, your ear. Like he was marking territory, claiming every inch of skin available. Sliding the neck of your pajama top over so he could kiss your collarbone, your shoulder.
“You don’t want to talk?” he huffed in the crook of your neck. “Fine. I can be quiet.” He lifted his head, lust blazing in his eyes. “But can you?”
His hand suddenly cupped between your legs, grinding his palm against your core. You keened at the friction. “Fuuuuck, Jin!”
“Shhhh,” he murmured, dropping to his knees. “No talking.”
He tugged your pajama bottoms to the ground. His hands roamed over your thighs, gently spreading your legs apart, goosebumps spreading over your skin at his touch.
“Jin,” you moaned, letting him move you as he wished. “I haven’t even showered since… since…”
“Since what?” he inquired, looking up at you. “Since we fucked? Do you want to talk about it?”
No, you didn’t want to. You shook your head.
“All right, then we’re not talking, period. So try to keep it quiet from now on.”
Your first instinct was to snap back, inform him that he of all people was in no position to tell you what to do.
Except, he was actually in the perfect position, kneeling below, gazing up at you with a dark look full of wicked promise.
Fuck, you’d do anything he wanted if he kept looking at you like that.
“Can you do that for me, baby?” One finger slid through your slick folds, grazing your clit. You whimpered, then immediately covered your mouth with your hand. “That’s better. Keep that hand there. Now, no more words,” Jin husked, and then suddenly his mouth was on your cunt.
The sounds his tongue made as he lapped at your wet heat were sinful, especially coupled with the tiny moans that escaped his hot mouth as he worked you over. You bit into your palm, trying your damnedest not to say a word.
But all you wanted to do was sing his praises as he worshipped you with his tongue.
You threaded your fingers through his glossy hair, tugging slightly, and he responded by groaning into your slit. The vibrations sent chills through you, and you repeated the action, pleased at how he moaned again.
One of his large hands wrapped around your ankle and pulled your leg up, letting it rest on his shoulder. You teetered slightly, a small gasp spilling out, but you managed to keep from yelping his name in surprise. His hands slid around to grab your ass, kneading the flesh as he made sure you were secured against him.
You released your palm, rubbing it with your other hand, trying to soothe the teeth marks you’d left in your own skin. His tongue danced over your clit, making your hips buck into his face.
You were doing just fine until he slipped two fingers inside and began to stroke.
“Jinnnnn,” you whined, hips jerking again.
He drew away, mouth and fingers abandoning you, and you looked down at him in horror.
“That sounded like a word,” he tutted, shaking his head. “I thought I told you not to speak?” He sat back on his heels, crossing his arms, as your leg dropped from his shoulder.
“I - I’m sorry,” you stammered, pussy absolutely throbbing. He wasn’t just going to leave you like this, was he? A half naked mess, literally quivering with need?
Did he want you to beg? You bristled at the thought... but fuck, you wanted to cum on his face more than anything. Who needs dignity when you have a man with a tongue like that?
He sighed. “Maybe I need to keep that mouth busy, huh?”
You nodded vigorously. Whatever it took to get those lips back on you.
He chuckled. “Okay, baby, let me help.” Standing, he slipped his hands down your thighs and lifted you into the air. You wrapped your legs around his waist, again fighting the urge to shout. He pressed you into the door, and covered your mouth with his own.
You felt delirious, humming into his kiss, bucking your hips against his hard cock as it rubbed against your core. How did he feel this good? This was Kim Motherfucking Seokjin! The most annoying man on the face of the planet!
He spun, carrying you to the bed, and set you gently on the edge. Then he stripped off his clothes, slowly, top first, then his pants, giving you an eyeful of his taut muscles and that giant cock again. Fuck, your mouth was practically watering as he stepped up to the bed, and…
...wait…
“Uh, you don’t expect me to fit that whole thing in my mouth, do you?” you yelped, wide-eyed.
“Yah, come on!” Jin stopped his seductive approach and put his hands on his hips. “I’m trying to set a mood here!” He sulkily pulled his pajama pants back on, then flopped onto the bed, sighing dramatically.
Just like that, the moment was over.
“Well, sorry I ruined it,” you muttered, curling your legs under you. “It’s probably for the best, anyway. We don’t need to make any more mistakes.” A tiny feather lay on the bed, having escaped from the comforter, and you fiddled with it as you spoke.
“Is that what last night was to you? A mistake?”
You met his gaze. Fuck, did he have to look at you so earnestly? Where was that cocky expression of his that you loathed so much when you needed it?
“It was… a release. I think we just needed a good hate fuck to get it out of our systems so we can move on and finish the job.” You spun the feather in your hand, snorting. “If there’s even a job left for us at this point.”
“A hate fuck. I see.” Jin muttered softly. “Can I ask you something?”
“Sure. I may or may not answer, but you can definitely ask.”
He frowned. “When did you start hating me?”
You tilted your head. “Jin, I - “
“Is it because I call you Princess?”
Snorting, you made a face. “No, but that certainly doesn’t help.”
“Then it must be Nevamind. Right?”
Just hearing the name made you grit your teeth. You could deny it, but why bother? The truth wouldn’t be any more revealing than all the things you’d done last night. “Yeah, I was pissed when you got that job. But I’m over it now,” you lied.
“Do you want to know what really happened?”
“I know what happened. You charmed your way into the job.”
“Nevamind choose you.”
Your head snapped up. “What? Then why… how…?”
“Sejin came to see me after their meeting. He said Nevamind had picked you. But he also made some rather specific comments about how exactly he wanted your partnership to happen.”
Your eyes narrowed. “Comments like…”
“Like the exact positions he wanted you to, uh, work in. The jobs he wanted you to give. Do you understand what - “
“Yes, Jin, he wanted to fuck me, I get it!”
“Sejin said he was overruling the guy’s decision and assigning him to me. That’s why I got the job. Because there was no danger of him hitting on me.”
You leaned back against the headboard, contemplating his words. Obviously you’d always known that the job should have been yours, so finding out that it actually had been yours, for a whole five minutes, wasn’t as much of a shock as it could’ve been. But your anger flared at having been treated like you couldn’t handle the situation yourself.
Jin fluffed up your pile of pillows, lying on his side as he watched you digest everything.
“Was Sejin worried that Nevamind would attack me? Or did he think that I would sleep with a client?”
Jin laughed, a tired sound devoid of any joy. Or honking. “Neither. He was afraid of a lawsuit.”
“What?!”
“Yeah. He thought that if either scenario went down, one or both of you would end up suing the company, and he wanted to avoid that completely. He wasn’t worried about you - he just didn’t want you to get litigious.” He bitterly spat out the last sentence, as if it left a nasty taste in his mouth. “He said that me being Nevamind’s manager was less of a “statistical risk” to Beyond the Sound than you.”
What. The. Fuck.
You’d given your everything to Beyond the Sound in the last year, sacrificing your time, energy, and even personal relationships, all to make yourself the ideal employee and show your devotion to the company. Meanwhile, Sejin considered you a “statistical risk”? Holy shit, you were literally just a number to them.
Just like Euphoria.
Jin went on. “When Sejin told me all this, I realized nothing we do really matters to the company as long as we don’t hurt their bottom line. There was no reason to do anything other than bide my time, make some money, and build up my contacts, so that one day I can walk out of there and start my own management firm.”
“You want to open your own firm?” That was surprising. He’d never struck you as the type to have such big dreams.
“Yeah. Someday.” He pursed his lips, looking angry. “I should’ve done more. Should’ve told Sejin to shove it, that he had no right to treat his employees this way. To treat you like you were a liability instead of a person. That’s why I try so hard to make sure our clients are treated well, at least. That’s the one area where I do give a fuck.”
You believed him.
And you weren’t sure you could blame him for taking the job with Nevamind. Wouldn’t you have done the same in his shoes?
Of course you would’ve. Because you would’ve done anything to win. Even if the trophy turned out to be made of fool’s gold in the end.
Your head spun, mind reeling from everything he said. Absorbing all this info left you feeling drained. Completely defeated. You slid down the pillows, rolling onto your side to face Jin, but closed your eyes as you sighed despondently.
Gentle fingers glided lightly over your hair. You peeked through your lashes at Jin, who was watching you with concern.
“Sorry,” he muttered, lowering his hand, but you quickly grabbed it.
“Please don’t stop,” you quietly pleaded.
Instead, he pulled you into his arms.
Vulnerability wasn’t really your thing. A lifetime of fighting for what you wanted taught you to keep your guard up at all times. But lying there, your head on his broad chest, feeling so safe and warm, you felt your defenses start to slip. Jin began to stroke your hair again, and you closed your eyes, overwhelmed at the tenderness, begrudgingly acknowledging that it was… nice.
Really nice. You could get used to it.
“Still hate me?”
His pecs muffled the sound of your laughter. “Not as much as before.”
He snorted. “I appreciate your honesty.”
Lifting your head, you frowned. “Why didn’t you ever tell me about any of this?”
“Would you have listened?”
He had you there. “I mean, maybe not at first, but eventually. Probably. I think.”
“What was I supposed to say? ‘Hey, the reason they picked me over you is because they knew Nevamind wouldn’t try to sleep with me’?”
“Yes. Maybe. I don’t know.” You paused. “But also, if he didn’t want to fuck you, that was definitely his loss.”
Jin stared at you. “Are you cracking jokes? In the middle of my serious confession?”
“I guess you’re rubbing off on me,” you quipped, grinning as he suddenly lunged at you, capturing your mouth with his. Too soon, he drew back, and you actually whimpered, making him smirk and kiss you again. But eventually, you needed air, and parted. “Do you still hate me?”
“Never did.” He traced a finger along your cheek. “I’ve always had a thing for you.”
“Oh yeah?” You propped your chin on his chest.
“Uh-huh. What’s not to like? You’re sexy, smart, confident, and a killer manager even if you get a little too focused on your work sometimes…” he trailed off, squeaky laughter filling the room as you shot him a nasty look. “I thought you knew, honestly.”
“How was I supposed to know?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know, maybe because I’ve been flirting with you for a whole year?”
“Wait, that was flirting?!”
It was his turn to glare as you giggled. He nipped at your bottom lip in retaliation, and you yelped. More making out ensued, to your utter delight, before he rolled you onto your side with a sigh.
“I bet they’ll have our desks packed up and cleared out by the time we return to the office, since we’ll no longer be employed by the time we get there.”
Ah, fuck, right. Since the concert wasn’t happening, Sejin was likely to follow through on his threat of termination. More than likely. He’d basically told the both of you that you’d be out on your asses if the album tanked, and with all the canceled events this week, you didn’t have high hopes that it’d do well.
“Fuck, this sucks,” you swore. “We’ll be unemployed and the poor band will have another flop on their hands. Beyond the Sound will probably punish them for that with another terrible genre mash-up for the next album, like polka rap or something.” You shuddered at the thought. “It’s too bad we couldn’t have pulled it off. Even though you would’ve lost that promotion to me.”
Jin’s eyes bugged out. “How many times do I have to tell you, that promotion w- “
You cut him off with a kiss, laughing against his mouth as he wrapped his arms around your waist and drew you close again. A few minutes later, you pushed him away as he blinked in surprise.
“Why are you pushing - “
“Shhhh!” You flapped your hand, shushing him, lost in thought. “I have an idea.”
**********
“Is everything all set up?” you asked Jungkook as he dashed past you.
He halted, nodding. “Yeah, we’re almost ready.” He tugged at the collar of his sweater, an eyesore of a Christmas tree with shimmering LED lights and the words “Let’s Get Lit” embroidered across his chest.
“Fantastic. Is there anything you guys need from me?”
“Not at the moment, noona, thanks.” With a nod, he continued on his path, as Hobi exited the library.
“How’s it going in there?” you asked.
“Great! It’s coming along. Yoongi is going to bring us some snacks while we enjoy the show.” As Hobi spoke, Yoongi hustled by, carrying a tray loaded with cookies. You snagged a sugar cookie as he passed.
“Hobi, I’m really going to miss it here. The service is top notch. And these ugly sweaters are incredible! You have quite the collection,” you raved.
If you were a weaker woman, you would’ve wilted under the look Hobi shot you. “You think these atrocities are mine? Oh no no no. They all belong to Yoongi.”
Your eyes widened in glee. “Oh, that’s even better.”
Jin came bouncing down the stairs, a happy smile on his face. You couldn’t help but grin back, for a second, before you composed yourself. He stopped short at the bottom of the staircase, staring at you as your host wandered off.
“What the hell?” Jin pouted. “I’m offended, you look great in this ugly Christmas sweater. This is a scam.”
“Oh, because only you’re allowed to look great in one?” He was, indeed, pulling off the ridiculous “Resting Grinch Face” sweater he wore, despite the blindingly bright green and red colors - but he was Kim Motherfucking Seokjin, after all. It was a little snug on him, given that he was taller and broader than Yoongi, but if anything that just made him even hotter.
Neither of you had to wear the ugly sweaters you’d borrowed from your hosts, but you’d decided to do so out of solidarity for the band members. And also maybe you were kinda getting into the spirit of things. Just a little.
“No one is supposed to look good in these! That’s the whole point, they’re ugly!” He paused. “But you think I look good?”
“Fuck off, you know you’re handsome and look amazing even in the dumbest of sweaters.”
He grinned. “Okay, you’ve got me there. It’s impressive how sexy you make that hideous thing look.” He reached out and honked the fuzzy moose nose that jutted out of your sweater, which bore the words ‘Merry Christmoose!’
How were you supposed to act like a professional when Jin was making you giggle like a fool? All you wanted to do was pull him into a darkened corner and kiss him senseless.
But you had work to do. So you settled for gifting him a tiny peck on the cheek.
He held his hand to where your lips had landed. “Careful!” he gasped, sounding scandalized. “Someone might have seen that.”
You rolled your eyes. “ Okay, I’m already regretting this.”
“This what?” He followed you down the hall. “This, like you and me? Are we a thing?”
“The more you talk, the less we are,” you sang, unable to hide the laughter in your voice.
Before you crossed into the library, Jin grabbed your arm, spinning you around and into his embrace, stealing your breath away with his lips. You let yourself melt for a second, two, ten, before breaking away.
“Ahem.”
To your surprise, Yoongi was standing in the hallway, a wide grin on his face. “I just wanted to know if you’d like some peppermint schnapps in your hot cocoa again?”
So much for keeping things secret. Not that it really mattered, considering Yoongi wasn’t much of a talker. But you didn’t want to answer questions or have to put labels on whatever you and Jin were. Right now, all you wanted to do was see your idea through. Anything else could wait.
And yet it made you happy to think that maybe there could be something. Ugh, you were getting so soft, so fast. Better keep an eye on that.
“That’d be great, thanks,” Jin replied smoothly, hands still on your hips.
“Sure,” you croaked out. You didn’t normally drink while working, but fuck it. Tis the season, after all.
In the library, Taehyung sat at the piano while Jimin perched on a stool in front of the baby grand, tuning an acoustic guitar. Thankfully, Yoongi had a guitar on hand that Jimin could borrow.
Meanwhile, Jungkook played around with an electronic drum kit that he’d brought with him, fine tuning the settings. Jin and Hobi were futzing with the tripod, searching for the perfect spot to set up the camera.
Because damn it, the show must go on.
Sure, the in-person concert had to be cancelled. But that didn’t mean Euphoria couldn’t perform. All they needed were a few instruments and a camera to livestream it all.
Unfortunately, the tech crew who were supposed to stream the concert at the venue were also snowed in at their hotel, but a simple phone would do for the stripped-down concert you were imagining.
(As long as the Blitzen Inn’s internet didn’t conk out in the middle of streaming.)
This wasn’t about your job anymore. Fuck Beyond the Sound. This was about Euphoria, and letting the band show that they didn’t need weird gimmicks or wild concepts to sell albums - all they needed was the chance to shine. Just the three of them and a (mostly) acoustic set of holiday classics. The band was thrilled with your idea, and it made you happy to see them so happy.
Ugh. You were turning into a marshmallow.
The ugly Christmas sweaters had been Hobi’s suggestion, after you’d offhandedly mentioned that you hadn’t had the chance to buy them a proper holiday concert wardrobe. Jimin’s gingerbread man sweater read “I’m Baked” above the cookie’s visage, while Taehyung’s “Prosecc-ho-ho-ho” with a tipsy Santa Claus looked surprisingly chic - something you ascribed to the wearer and not the sweater itself.
The other furniture in the room had been pushed back so only the band and the fireplace would be in the shot. You stood behind the couch, watching Hobi adjust the phone being used for the recording. “Hobi, you don’t mind manning the camera for this?”
“You mean, do I mind turning the video on and clicking “record”? No, I don’t mind at all,” he grinned, running a hand through his hair. “I’m just happy to help! This is such a wonderful idea - a cozy little concert experience.”
“Yeah, we came up with a great plan, huh?” Jin piped up, sneaking up on your side. You felt the ghost of a hand brush down your back and fought to keep your face straight.
“What is this ‘we’? This was my idea!” you retorted, but failed to keep from smiling as you said it. Yoongi brought you both a mug of cocoa, then sank onto the couch for a front row seat.
“It’s about time,” Jin glanced at his watch. “You guys ready?”
“Let’s get it!” Jungkook chirped.
The fireplace crackled in the background as Hobi cued Jimin. The lead singer smiled at the camera, greeting the audience. “Good evening and happy holidays! Euphoria had to cancel our concert, thanks to a little snow. But we didn’t want to let all our fans down. We hope you don’t mind that it’s just the three of us tonight, and some of our favorite songs. Grab your cocoa, settle around the fireplace, and celebrate with us, as we bring you a little holiday cheer.”
He strummed his guitar, launching into a gorgeous rendition of “Winter Wonderland.” As the music swelled, Hobi and Yoongi relaxed on the couch, hand in hand. Humming along quietly, careful not to end up on the recording, you felt Jin’s hand gently wrap around your waist. Leaning against his side, feeling content, you decided to let go of your worries and enjoy the moment - the beautiful music, the cheerful atmosphere, and the gorgeous man by your side.
Jin dipped his head, mouth brushing your ear as he murmured, “You pulled it off, baby. Congrats.”
“I did, didn’t I?” you whispered, peering up at him, smirking. “I guess you deserve some credit, too. Why don’t you claim… 25%?”
“So generous,” he smiled, bending to sweep his lips against yours. “I’ll be sure to thank you when I get that promotion.”
His kiss silenced your protests as the band played on.
**********
ONE YEAR LATER
“Your eleven am appointment is here, ma’am,” your assistant’s voice filtered through the speaker as she buzzed you.
“Thank you, Seulgi. Go ahead and get them settled in the conference room and I’ll be right in.”
You stood and began gathering everything you would need for your meeting, just as Jin entered your office without knocking.
“Ready?” he asked.
“Yes, but how many times do I have to tell you to knock?” You frowned.
He grinned, crossing the room to tower over you. “Why, what might I see? You in a compromising situation with the boss?” His hand stroked your hip as he stepped closer. “Oh wait, that’s me.” “We’re partners. Stop trying to get me to call you my boss.”
After the success of the livestream, Euphoria’s holiday album shot straight to the top of the charts. You’d ended up having to stay an extra day in Christmas, until everything was plowed and it was safe to travel again. When you finally returned to your office, Sejin welcomed you and Jin with open arms, thrilled at how you’d helped shepherd Euphoria back to the number one spot. He’d then offered the promotion to you, stating he’d heard that the livestream had been your brilliant idea.
And you had promptly turned him down, putting in your two week notice.
Jin also quit, and together you established your own management firm, Worldwide Sound. Normally, making such a big leap would’ve taken a lot more time and effort, but you had an ace up your sleeves, signing a major band on your first day of business - Euphoria. Thanks to a savvy lawyer contact of Jin’s, the band got out of their horrific contract with Beyond the Sound and happily joined your firm as your first clients.
As much as the old you would’ve hated to admit it, you and Jin made a pretty great team. With your business expertise and his interpersonal skills, you were making a name for yourselves in the industry, all while making sure your clients knew that they were your number one priority.
Jin delicately removed all your belongings from your grasp, setting them back on your desk as he slid his arms around you. “You didn’t have any problems calling me ‘boss’ last night,” he purred as he tilted his mouth to slot against yours.
You allowed him to kiss you for exactly five seconds before you pushed him away lightly. “Okay, first of all, role playing does not count, and secondly, what happened to us not discussing our private life at work?” But there was no anger behind your words, just an unceasing fondness for your boyfriend as he gazed at you with a soft smile.
“You’re right, you’re right. Oh, but I did finalize our travel plans for Christmas, so we’re all set for this weekend.”
“Oh, good! I can’t wait to see Hobi and Yoongi again.” What better place to celebrate nearly a year of bliss with your boyfriend than at the little bed and breakfast that brought you together?
“Me too. Now come on, back to business, baby.”
You gave him a look.
“Sorry. Partner.” He held the door open for you, but you paused in the doorway to press a gentle kiss to his cheek.
“That’s better. But if you play your cards right and help me sign this deal,” you murmured, “tonight you can call me boss.”
“Yes, ma'am!”
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© 2021 by sunshinerainbowsbts. Crossposted to AO3. Please do not copy or repost.
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adore-laur · 3 hours ago
Text
auld lang syne
from my gold rush universe. this is my best work, so cozy up, read every word, and 'tis the season for angst! here’s the song to listen to for some christmas ambience <3
as always, since a lot of you voted for this, please reblog / leave feedback 💫
word count: 3.8k
warnings: language, alcohol, and a delightful side of divorce
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❅ ❅ ❅
How's one to know if love is everlasting?
Harry used to prioritize the notion with you, sealing the promise with a glistening diamond ring on your finger because that's what love is, right? Marrying the one you can't live without.
He vowed to be eternally yours, making up for lost time with secret oaths of pleasure and intimate words that unfurled from his tongue like the petals of a blooming rose. Each garland of his ivy intertwined perfectly with yours, the spark of young love glowing incandescently and nurturing every vine that started to wilt at the first dusting of snowfall.
Yet the light would soon eclipse with a shadow of neglect.
The last glimpse of radiance Harry saw was one he took for granted. You were right there, shining just for him, but the moment burned out right beneath his fingertips.
He remembers what led up to it, him getting lost in the cadence of your voice and the familiarity of your presence. Blue lights had danced over your figure as you stood on your tiptoes to turn the house into a winter wonderland, a certain glow to your skin that only he knew the cause of.
❅ A Time Gone By ❅
Harry stops you from gracing around the room like an angel on ice skates by trapping you in a one-armed hug from behind, a champagne flute of vintage Dom Pérignon in his hand.
Your delicate fingers reach up to hook a shiny ornament on one of the upper branches, right where the tree starts coming to a point, making him realize that it's been far too long since he's been home as he takes in the evergreen stood tall before him.
Cheek to cheek, he sways your frame in rhythm to the faint Christmas music playing in the background and watches your every movement. From the way you move the ornament an inch over because you're a perfectionist, or the way you lean back into his chest to get a better look at your work.
He wants to put you in his pocket like a plucked primrose and take you everywhere with him.
"How many more..." your voice fades, eyes looking around the living room. You release yourself from his hold when you spot the styrofoam box of ornaments, much to his reluctance.
Harry saunters over to the fireplace while taking a sip of his drink. Setting the glass down, he grabs the fire poker and opens the chain mail curtain to move the logs around. The flames instantly grow stronger and the crackling gets louder, golden orange embers trying to escape, but they seem to know there can only be one clinquant brilliance in the room.
Magnetizing admiration guides his eyes to you once again as he sits down and folds his legs on the carpet. Once he's comfortable, he grabs the half empty bottle of champagne on the hearth and pours some more of the effervescent liquid into his glass.
The fire heats his back as he coats his tongue with notes of candied fruits and vanilla. Moonlight gleams through the window and reflects off the glass decorations he helped put in every crevice of the house. The sweet smell of sugar cookies straight out of the oven makes his stomach rumble.
Then there's you, the only thing he can focus on.
With your hair pinned back with snowflake clips of gold, it's like he's seeing you for the first time. A feeling of falling in love all over again nestles into his heart and you don't even have to say a single word.
"Why are you staring at me?"
Harry almost laughs at your question. How could he not? You're made for him.
Smirking over the ridge of his glass, he answers, "I have a complaint," before taking a quick sip and standing up.
You turn back to the tree, looking it up and down. "What, do you not approve of my decorating?"
"You're doing a wonderful job, baby." He empties his hand and beckons you towards him. "C'mere. Take a break for a little bit."
You shyly shrug your shoulders up to your cheeks, his favorite habit of yours, then make your way to him. When you wrap both arms around his waist, you rest your chin on his chest and raise your eyebrows in silent questioning.
"My complaint," Harry says lowly while smoothing his thumb over your eyebrow that has somehow collected glitter, "is that I can't see the bump when you wear sweaters."
The tightening of your hold on him warms him up along with the knitted material that's draped over your body. "It's too cold for anything else," you reply.
Reaching around your waist, Harry bunches the material of your sweater behind your back and pulls it so it tightens around the small curve of your stomach. "There," he whispers satisfactorily, glancing up at you and boyishly grinning.
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You just roll your eyes and swat his hands away, unraveling yourself from him to continue hanging the last of the ornaments.
Two gold spheres of glass dusted with a line of glitter are still waiting to be put on the tree with your strategic placing. Blue twinkling lights still need to be strung and weaved around the protruding branches. The tinsel garland adorned with sparkling leaves and flowers still needs to be draped on the banister of the staircase.
Harry thinks all of those tasks can wait. Right now, he wants his wife's undivided attention.
Remembering that one of the cardboard boxes has mistletoe, he goes searching through them while he hums along to Eartha Kitt's rich voice. After noisily sifting through a few, he finally finds the plastic red berry attached to an even more plastic plant. While your back is turned, he plucks it out and quietly walks towards you, turning up the music volume with the remote on his way over.
"Hey," he says, tickling the back of your neck with it.
You squeal and damn near elbow him in the stomach. "Stop it, you're supposed to be helping me."
"We have all night to do this."
"There's only three more hours until Christmas. We should have had this done a month ago."
Harry's warm hands travel under your sweater and spread over your first trimester bump. It's not fully rounded out yet, but it's there and he loves it, even if a baby wasn't meant to happen so soon. "We've been worried about other things, yeah?" he murmurs in your ear.
"Yeah," you airily respond.
"But just think," he continues consolingly, "this time next year, we'll be spending Christmas together as a family of three."
"When are we gonna tell people?" The anxiousness in your tone worries him. "I won't be able to hide it much longer."
He knows that sooner or later, someone will find out. It's just a matter of time before the vultures come circling and his pledge of protection will be at risk once again.
"Let's talk about that later," Harry speaks, rubbing a circle around your belly and then retreating his tender touch to spin you around. Once you're facing him, he asks, "Can I have a kiss?"
"You're trying to distract me."
"Kiss me.” He lifts the mistletoe over your head. “You have to. It’s tradition."
You trail your fingers down his arm and say, "Begging gets you nowhere."
He grumbles a mocking tone of what you said and then bends down slightly to wrap a strong arm around your waist, picking you up as you scramble to hook your pajama-clad legs around him.
"I wanna dance with you," he proposes while staring at your glowing cheeks. "I beg of you."
"Put me down, then."
"What kind of dance do you fancy? Polka? Waltz? Ballroom tango?"
You laugh as he sets you down. "Remember when you danced the polka with my grandma at our wedding?"
"I couldn't keep up with her," Harry dramatically replies, loving the way your eyes light up. "Had me tripping over my feet and everything."
There's a beautiful mixture of both your laughs at the memory, and in the midst of the mirth, Harry grabs your right hand with his and holds it against his chest as his other hand flicks the mistletoe across the room so he can rest it at the small of your back. It becomes a gentle sway to "Silver and Gold" with the occasional twirl and dip, the two of you spinning round and round in a personal snow globe.
He touches his forehead to yours, smiling down at your lips, then nudges your nose with his and tilts his head to kiss you nice and slow. Lips like sugar melt against his, soft and addicting. Every one of his senses is heightened from the champagne he drank. His feet stop moving as he gets lost in the moment, completely focused on how your kisses can't seem to catch up with his. The breathless sounds you make combined with the wet pop of lips separating makes him fall under your spell time and time again.
"Your phone is ringing," you mumble against his mouth.
"Hm?" Harry hums, opening his eyes and licking his aching lips.
"I think your phone is ringing," you repeat more clearly as you pull away.
He processes the default ringtone and sincerely hopes it's just his mother across the sea wishing him a Merry Christmas. Sighing, he drops your hand while dancing, unlacing your fingers with his and giving the back of your hand a semi-comforting pat before walking over to his vibrating phone on the hearth.
He saw the upset look on your face. It pains him every time because deep down, you both know who might really be calling him.
The assumption proves to be correct when he checks his screen, the number unfortunately being work-related. With a scratch behind his head, he picks up the phone and leaves you standing alone in the the living room.
How easy it could be to just ignore it, yet second nature has a poisonous grasp around his heart.
❅ ❅ ❅
How's one to know when the first crack in the glass will shatter into a million fragments of love astray?
A capricious shift in the demeanor of your husband created the first sign of rupture. Pixelated countenances of despondency and physical guises of weariness were little fissures that shaped a shard so minimal, you could have brushed it aside if not for the inescapable ache in your chest that came around at nightfall like merciless clockwork.
The withering love between you and him was a ticking time bomb made of glass left to be disarmed by whoever was audacious enough to get their hands near the lethal sparks.
Yet the fuse burnt out quicker than expected.
That fateful detonation happened on a midnight in winter. Harry was the culprit and he never realized it until his unspoken fear blew up right in his face.
You remember it all too well. The silence was so deafening in the empty home, barren winter seeping through the walls and icing over the bed of primroses to paralyze them from growing any more.
❅ A Time Gone By ❅
A pathetic excuse of a Christmas tree in the corner is the only provider of light in the otherwise caliginous bedroom. Tucked and sat in the opposite corner, you bring your knees to your chest and let your husband's slurred greeting on the phone fill the lonesome silence. It's better than nothing, you suppose.
The first question you ask him is a straight nosedive towards the forthcoming bone crush.
"Are you drinking?"
Harry sniffs and responds, "Whiskey, yeah."
You shake off his lethargic tone and plaster on a smile. "Must be nice."
"Pour yourself a glass," he says, voice sounding far away. You must be on speaker. "It's the holidays, innit?"
"Can't, I need to pump later."
"Oh. That's right." A lull of silence passes. "How is she, by the way?"
Brass-knuckled fists feel like they're squeezing your heart as you reply, "She misses you a lot."
It’s an unequivocal lie. You're not sure if she'll even remember him when he eventually comes home. In the just about year since her impromptu arrival, her own dad has been across the world more than he's been at the house in Nashville.
"I'll be home at the end of January," Harry assures. You take it with a grain of salt. "Just have a few more promo appearances that I need to do."
He doesn't need to, does he? With a snap of his fingers and his gift of persuasion, it shouldn't be that hard to fly back to his family when needed. You wonder if he hears himself, ignorant to the fact that his selfish words pierce you, a mom doing everything on her own. Surely he feels guilty, but he's a master at shrouding the parasite.
"Why can't you cancel everything and stay with us?" you ask, letting out a muted laugh.
Through a phone call with no way to see your face, Harry doesn't quite catch your attempt at being humorous. "You know the answer to that," he answers accusatorially.
"No, I really don't." The mercurial shift in moods and tension with him is something you've gotten used to. "Tomorrow is Christmas and you're in Los Angeles. Not with your family. It doesn't make sense to me."
"Are we arguing right now?" he speaks through a yawn. "I'm too tired to argue, darling."
Patience wearing thin, you take a brutal dig at his buried flaws. "No, you're too drunk to understand how miserable this has been for me. God forbid that I want you home with our baby."
Harry scoffs and then has the audacity to bitterly laugh. "Don't give me that petty shit, alright? You know my job, you know my schedule. It's never changed."
"I think it should change now that you're a dad, don't you think?"
"Why is it that every time I call you, we end up fighting? I've got better things I could be doing."
Cruel. He's so casually cruel when he's drinking. Last phone call, his tongue as dangerous as a deadly weapon was laced with Hennessy and Coke.
"Our daughter's first Christmas and you aren't here," you think aloud while shaking your head slowly. The worst type of tears — ones stemmed from frustration — prickle behind your eyes.
"You're being mean," Harry says quietly, every outside noise from his end being cut off except for his breathy voice, sounding like a gust of wind took it and carried it to you. His phone must be held up to his ear now.
"I think I'm being fair," you respond, holding your ground. "I'm not asking much from you."
"Fuck's sake," he mutters before clearing his throat. "I can't do two things at once."
His words are a poison-soaked dagger to your flesh, cutting right to the bone and unleashing blood of vulnerability and hurt from the man that once vowed to never cause you such harm.
Being a good husband. Being a dad. Him, of all people, should be able to balance those two responsibilities with no problem. Where is his sudden spitefulness coming from?
Letting out a morose noise of disbelief, you confess, "God, I hate you sometimes."
Harry sighs. "I love you," he diverts with that goddamned soft voice of his, an obvious attempt to steer away from the issue at hand.
Your emotions finally break through, the lump in your throat growing until it starts to ache. Looking down at the silver wedding ring on your finger, you ponder if he put it there just to lock you in. Little does he know, you're about to go down the agonizing route in order to get the key.
"Right now," you begin shakily, "it feels like you don't give a fuck about me or our daughter."
He groans, and you can picture him running his hands down his flushed face. "We were having such an innocent conversation, honey. Why do you always get pissed at me?"
A blazing assumption in the dark considering he's the one who started it. He lit the fuse with a single spark and now time is ticking.
Who will pass the bomb over to who?
Whose tears will douse the flare?
Which one of you is capable and which is a coward?
"I get pissed because I wonder why I ever married you," you admit, trying not to choke on affliction. "I wonder why I had a baby with you. Why I stay with you when you treat our family like an afterthought."
"You make me out to be a monster," Harry says immediately with a tonal twinge of helplessness. "I love you, okay? I would die for you both."
"You barely see me or her, so I doubt that."
"Christ... why do you say awful things like that?" Running your fingertips across the carpet to seek any sort of comfort, you reply, "It's how I feel, Harry. It's how I've felt for the past year."
"Then fuckin' leave since I make you so miserable!" he retaliates.
Tick…
The fragile bomb is in your hands.
Tick…
There's only seconds left to make a decision.
Tick…
You pass it over to him with a detonating question.
"Do you give me permission?"
"W-what?"
"I'll leave," you state, ears starting to ring. "You don't seem to mind. I'll talk with a lawyer and we can get a divorce."
Boom.
Harry inhales loudly through his nose. "Don't even think about doing that."
"You just told me to leave!" you shout.
"No, hey." His breathing is becoming shallow and his voice is becoming desperate. "Hey, listen to me. I'll come home. Just give me another month and I'll be there. I won't leave again, I promise you."
This isn't what you wanted. Marriage with him was supposed to be blissful. Parenthood was supposed to be alongside him. The room spins around you as the clock on the wall ticks. It won't change anything. Might as well set it in stone and float it down the river.
"I don't believe you. I want a divorce."
"Baby, please. Look, can you video call me? Let me see you."
You screw your face up and rest your head on the wall. "I can't look at you right now."
"I'd like you to fuckin' look at me when you say you want a divorce, yeah?" He's on fire from the explosion now. "Fuck, I'll get on a plane right now, okay? Just… please."
He's only willing to do what you ask when he needs to save himself. It's never for you.
"My decision is final," you tell him. "I can't be in this one-sided relationship. All I need is for you to be a dad and a husband. Here, with us. Not miles away."
"I'll come home," Harry begs. Doesn’t he know that begging gets him nowhere? "Let- let me find my laptop and I'll get a ticket."
"Well, if you come home, your things will be packed by the front door."
"Stop," he whispers painfully.
"Just listen to me, Harry!" you yell, finally losing the last drop of your patience. Taking a deep breath, you lower your voice and continue, "If you love me, you'll let me leave. It's what's best for us."
"You're my wife." Then show some compassion. "Do you hear me?" Barely. "You can't just leave like this." Yes, you can. "I'll lose my mind."
Your mind is made up.
"I'm gonna hang up, okay?"
"No, we're going to talk—"
"When I hang up, I need you to breathe," you gently interrupt. "I need you to stay where you are. I need you to not do anything stupid."
"You're drunk too, right?" Harry utters in a panic. "We're both drunk and we'll forget we had this conversation." You hear a mattress creak and then a slight stumbling of feet. "Let's go to bed, sweetheart. Tomorrow is Christmas. I'll call first thing in the morning."
"Okay." You know you won't be answering. "Bye, Harry."
"Did you get my gifts in the mail? I spoiled you two so much." You don't like how his breathing has gotten faster. "Hey, can you give her a kiss goodnight for me? Please?"
"I will." It's the least you can do. "Bye, Harry."
"No, baby, stay on the phone. I love you so much."
You swallow down the last of your dignity and take the phone away from your ear, telling him to breathe one last time before pressing the button to end the call.
Then all at once, the four walls of your bedroom cave in on you and the feeling of suffocation begins. The ground eats you alive as you sink down into fetal position and cry out into the wool carpet until it burns your cheeks.
You can blame the drink in Harry's hand all you want, but you know that his integrity has been falling short as of lately. He can't be what you need, so why stay in a situation so futile?
A sharp wail suddenly cuts through the wall behind you, your baby having woken up from your guttural cries. Moving your eyes to blearily gaze at the clock, you see the big and little hand join together at the roman numeral twelve.
How terribly blue of a Christmas, yet the room now glows orange from the incendiary aftermath.
❅ ❅ ❅
How's one to know if the bone crush was worthwhile?
As Harry looks at you now, a newfound love coursing through his veins, he knows that it is. It's crystal clear that the scene in front of him is entirely what he fought for. He reaped what he sowed in order to reacquire a family to protect, the flourishing home he sits in, and your remedial love he spent so long missing.
He walked through hellfire summers to revive your love in him and trudged through icebound winters just to make sure you never forgot about him. All to get to your spring garden of everlasting primroses that never fully died.
"What did mumma get?" Harry asks his daughter while shutting his phone completely down.
The fireplace warms you and your baby girl who are both wrapped in an afghan blanket. You're letting her help you open your present, one that he told you to save for last.
She holds up the tiny jewelry box and looks back and forth between her parents. You gently take it from her and inspect it, then look up at Harry to give him an unreadable glance.
"Open it," he softly insists.
You lift the top, revealing a gold ring that weaves into a flower-shaped diamond. A gasp gets caught in your throat as you take it out. "Harry..." you trail off.
This time around, you say his name differently than when you found his wedding ring in his dressing room mere months ago. This time, you say it with a certain fondness that puts him together again.
"Thought maybe we could try gold this time," Harry explains, kissing your toasty cheek. "See if that works."
He thinks of the silver ring you had put back on your finger after you both decided to try again. It reminds him of hurt more than he'd like it to, so he bought a ring with a more sentimental purpose — a new beginning.
"I think it'll work perfectly," you say with a radiant smile.
A Christmas long past left you both with scars still unhealed, yet each wound led two golden lovers right back to each other.
❅ ❅ ❅
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hiddles-and-skittles · 6 hours ago
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Driving Lessons
Pairing: Bucky x fem!reader
Word Count: 1,874 (I’ve rewritten this so many times I settled on this version)
Summary: Bucky teaches you how to drive! (...but not really)
Warnings: ***18+ ONLY, fluff, smut-ish (fingering), Bucky being a tease, anxiety mentions, can’t think of anything else but don’t hesitate to let me know!
Notes: I can’t drive and I feel like a burden because of this. For one I’m way too anxious, and two, my hands cannot grip and sometimes I can’t even move the lower half of my body. I have SLE, fibro, MCTD, and polymyositis. I can’t hold the steering wheel because my hands slip off very easily. I’ve only been behind the wheel twice and I’m 22. So this fic is sort of a way to comfort myself about it.
______________
"Look, I can ask Bucky to-" "No!"
Sam Wilson drops a waffle and stares at you as if you've punted a toddler across a football field. "Ask Bucky to what?" You hear from the entryway of your shared apartment. The door shuts behind a curious Bucky. "She needs a ride to work tomorrow," says Sam, still side eyeing you. He picks up the very waffle he dropped in his plate and brings a piece to his mouth. "It's fine," you snap, sending a threatening glare at him. "I can walk." You twirl a straw around in your cup of milk. Sam snorts. "Walk? You do realize it's 35 degrees outside?" "So I'll wear a sweater."
He opens his mouth to respond but Bucky makes his way to the table and holds up a hand to stop him. "I can take you. It's no big deal." "Perfect,” agrees Sam. "Y'all can take the truck." Bucky shoots a questioning glance between you and his friend. "If you're leaving the truck then why does she need a ride?" You suck in a breath and press your lips into a firm line, embarrassed by what's about to be said aloud. "She can't drive." Ugh. And there it is. Quickly you jump to defend yourself. "It isn't for lack of trying! I've just never had anyone to teach me and Sam isn't home most of the time and it's late when I get off work and-" "Liar," Sam scoffs. He looks at Bucky. "She's terrified of driving." Bucky hums thoughtfully, a hint of mischief sparkling in his eyes as he looks at you. "How 'bout I teach you a little bit before you go into work tomorrow?" Your eyes widen and you’re certain your heart is visibly beating outside your chest. "N-no! That's okay, ha, um, thanks though..." He grins at you. "You'll do fine. You'll see." You gulp. * Without so much as a wink of sleep, you're sat in an empty lot, bug eyed and revved up on an energy drink that’s replaced the blood in your veins. "Alright, so let’s get-" Bucky starts. "If you yell at me I swear to Thor I will floor the gas and kill us both." You white knuckle the steering wheel the second you close the driver side's door. His demeanor changes with a chuckle and a twitch at both corners of his mouth, sounding off your already on-edge alarms. He notices your expression and holds his hands up, apologizing. "I get that you’re scared, but I promise driving isn't hard. And I won't yell at you, okay?" Your grip loosens up as you exhale and slump back against the seat. "That's what everyone else did." Your head lowers at the flashbacks zooming through your mind. “I’m not everyone else." You let out the breath you've been holding, realizing it’s unfair to hold him to that standard. "Quick favor?" You look over at him, his handsome face donning a compassionate smile. "Start it up? It's freezing." You laugh and twist the keys in the ignition, setting the heat to blast on the both of you. The blue ball cap keychain that reads 'I'm a civilian' you got Sam clacks against the underside of the wheel. Your hand rests on the gearshift in anticipation of the next step, but you can't bring yourself to switch it into drive. "It's okay," Bucky soothes, placing a gloved metal hand over yours. "Let me help you out." You nod, heart skipping a beat when his hand grasps yours and pulls the gearshift to 'D.' It takes a few minutes to even put your foot on the gas pedal. Thankfully the truck is on level concrete, otherwise it would be moving by itself. You inhale and slowly slide your foot over the pedal, pushing down just barely enough to go three miles an hour. "There you go," he encourages. Instead of being oh so adventurous and taking your first turn, you drive straight for as far as the lot goes, finally working up to seven miles an hour. Eventually the locks on the truck's doors click and Bucky notices you gaining speed. "Good girl," he purrs. "You're doing so good for me." Your foot fumbles on the pedal and you fake cough to stifle a gasp. This doesn't escape his attention. "You okay?" He asks, his voice feigning innocence. "Y-yep! All good!" You can't look anywhere but dead ahead. Your heart is already in your throat from being behind the wheel but now that you have his raspy voice in your ear, it makes you twice as on edge.   There's nowhere to go except left, but you cut the wheel too quickly when you turn, hitting a curb and slamming the brakes as if your life depends on it. You squeeze your eyes shut as you await an angry reaction from your unbelievably quiet passenger, but it never comes. "I'm sorry," you squeak, tears already springing to your eyes. Bucky tilts his head, giving you his trademark puppy dog eyes. "Shhh, hey, it's okay." He undoes his seat belt and slides over to wrap an arm around your shoulders, shifting the gear to 'P. "Still alive, aren't I?"
"This is so stupid! I'm stupid!" Your hand flies to your forehead for dramatic emphasis. "You're not stupid," he assures you, flesh hand grabbing your own. "Who on earth fears driving? I mean seriously?" "Don't be so hard on yourself when you haven't even started yet. Just gotta be patient." His thumb affectionately rubs back and forth on top of your hand. "You need to relax." You throw your head back. "How the hell am I supposed to do that?" "Let me worry about that," he whispers, scooting over further to where his thigh touches yours. As if that wasn't enough to make your heart rate hasten again, he undoes your seatbelt, bringing it up so it doesn't hit you, then lays his right hand on your cheek to pull you towards him. His forehead rests against yours, and his soft, parted lips hover above your own. "Uhhh...h-how is this supposed to relax me?" Unfazed by your awkward interruption, Bucky smiles in response, dipping his head lower to capture your lips. Your eyelids flutter shut and the hand on your cheek glides down your neck, thumb resting over your pulse point. He pulls away, nuzzling his nose to yours. "Patience." "I-I know what you're doing," you swallow, your eyes still shut. "But it's not going to work." He replaces his fingers with his lips. "You don't think so?" While he nips up your throat to place a tender kiss behind your ear, you reach to draw him in closer by his dog tags. A hushed moan escapes your lips as he peppers kisses up and down your neck. When you attempt to get a little more comfortable your elbow hits the center of the steering wheel, emitting an extremely loud honk that causes you and Bucky to spring backwards. Taking a beat to calm down, both of you meet the other's eyes and laugh. "Maybe I do need a distraction." He hums in agreement, looking down at you with darkened, lust filled eyes. You forget to breathe for a second. " 's what I've been telling you." "Your lips felt nice," you blurt, mentally kicking yourself. He lets out a low laugh, biting his bottom lip. "Yeah? Well I wasn't done with you." You yelp as he hooks his hands under your ass, yanking you unbelievably close. "Where were we?" Before you can muster a response his lips descend on yours again, successfully knocking all the air out of your lungs as he leans back against the passenger side door with you on top of him. Your hands wander up to his hair while his mouth continues its loving assault, the stubble above his upper lip tickling you. He brings his flesh hand to the front of your jeans and you depart with a shuddered breath, eyes flicking downward then back up to his. His eyebrows raise to ask silent permission and you respond with a simple "Please," spurring him on. The button of your pants pops open and you nearly lose yourself right then. He urges you to look at him while he undoes the zipper slowly, the intensity of his passionate gaze causing you to grind down on the seat. A relieved sigh leaves your lips when his warm, calloused fingers meet your soft folds, and your hands return to grip his shirt, yanking him back down to you. Desperation for your own release shows from the unrelenting bucking against his hand when suddenly he stops. "Relax," he whispers, taking one of your hands and kissing the palm. "We'll get there."   "Can we get there now?" Your brain responds, but only a whine comes out. "Breathe for me," he instructs firmly, and you do just that, earning back the sweet pressure of his fingers. "Good girl." You hum as his middle finger collects your wetness, slowly pushing up inside you. His thumb circles your clit and you whimper softly, leaning forward until your forehead meets his shoulder. You wrench your eyes shut trying not to go absolutely feral, thinking he'll probably stop again. "I love how tight you are." Your heart skips a beat at his praise. His sweet voice combined with his obscenities accelerates your already approaching climax. Your body rocks involuntarily as he adds another digit, adjusting the speed and settling on a painfully slow rhythm that sets you on the brink of relief, but just isn't quite enough. Your eyebrows knit together and you pant uncontrollably while your hands slide down his arm to grip his wrist. He nudges his now cold-tipped nose into your hair. "Can only imagine how you'll feel wrapped around my cock." Your body freezes and an unbridled sob wracks through you as you finally feel yourself explode with pleasure, his movements not stopping until you feebly attempt to yank his hand away. While your breathing begins to level out, he wraps his arms around you and places gentle kisses on the side of your head and down your cheek, shushing you softly to soothe you. "You okay?" He asks, sounding a little concerned. His hand cards through your hair as you sit paralyzed from pleasure and you manage a quiet hum in response, wrapping your arms around him. "And you said it wouldn't work.” He kisses your forehead. “I think it might have worked too well."  
“Well,” you start, coming to your senses. “I can’t exactly feel my legs, so, yeah, I’d say it worked.”  
He laughs, patting your back. “Guess that means I’ll have to show you how to drive next time.”
“Next time? You saying I’m not ready to jump into traffic?” you tease, lifting your head to look at him.
“Oh, no, definitely not.” He smirks as you playfully backhand his chest. “There’s a lot of stuff I gotta teach you first.”  
You fish your phone out of your pocket to check the time. “Punctuality might be next.” You hold your phone to where he can see it and he shoots you a look that reads ‘sorry, but not really.’ “I’m late for work.”
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annabethy · an hour ago
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everything is icy and blue
day three: christmas tree farms,, percabeth
Out of all the ways to be woken up, Percy supposes his girlfriend jumping on top of his back with a quiet giggle isn’t the worst one. It definitely scared him out of a deep sleep, but when he rolls over onto his back and Annabeth climbs on top of him to give him an excited smile, he finds that he doesn’t mind being woken up at all.
His hands immediately go to rest on her bare thighs where the t-shirt of his that she’s wearing rides up. It takes everything in him to lift his hand to check the time, and the first thing he does is toss his head back and groan.
“Did you have to wake me up at seven in the morning?”
“It’s snowing,” Annabeth says as though that explains everything.
“And I’m sure it’ll be snowing in another hour,” Percy says. “Do we need to get up now?”
Annabeth slides off of him and settles down beside him instead. He immediately lifts the comforter up, offering her a position beside him, and she crawls under and curls into his side. He tries to close his eyes, but Annabeth ends up pinching his stomach repeatedly until he peeks through one eye to give her a dirty look.
“Are you going to do this all morning?” Percy finally asks after another minute, but he gives a sleepy smile when she laughs into the crook of his neck.
“Only until you get up.”
“Why?”
“I wanted to get a Christmas tree today.”
“But. Right now?”
“All the good ones will be gone later,” she tells him. Her fingers are tracing his stomach now, and Percy sighs. “You’re twenty-three. I think you can afford missing a few hours of sleep.”
“That’s easy for you to say when you weren’t at work all night.” Annabeth gives him an innocent grin, and Percy can’t help but look at her in awe for a second. He pulls her toward him, his fingers threaded through her hair, and he gives her a kiss, and then another, before he says, “I’m not getting out of this, am I?”
“Of course not.”
It’s Percy’s turn to pinch her arm lightly, but he gets up anyway. It’s still way too early for this, but Annabeth is too adorable as she rushes him around the apartment. He delights in the way she attempts to make a tiny snowball that crumbles between her fingers when they make their way outside. That doesn’t faze her, though, as she ends up shoving a handful of snow into his face anyway. The drive is pretty, too, with the snow falling around the tall buildings and the sky bright with the golden glow peeking between the clouds. He almost forgets how he’s running on two hours of sleep, and he’s anything but tired when they walk into a Christmas tree farm and Annabeth catches him staring with a knowing smile.
Her outfit looks great on her too. It’s not much—black jeans and a matching long-sleeve shirt with a fleece coat thrown on top—but she’s smiling at him like the world is in his eyes, and he swears he’s going to marry her someday.
“Where do you want to start?” Annabeth asks.
“I have no idea.” Percy blinks at a tree off to the side, and he almost laughs at how sad it looks, its branches entirely too sparse to be properly decorated. “I’ve never even had a real tree.”
“Really?”
“The one time my mom did, it ended up having a bunch of praying mantis eggs in it, and we had bugs in the living room for days.”
Annabeth follows his gaze that is still glued to the tree. “That can happen?”
“Apparently.”
“I’m starting to rethink getting a real tree now.”
Percy bumps her shoulder lightly to bring her attention back to him. “I didn’t drive all the way out here just for you to not get a tree.”
Annabeth bumps his shoulder back. “Obviously not. You drove all the way out here because you’re in love with me and don’t know how to tell me no.” He laughs at that.
“How much money can I spend on a tree?”
“As much as you want because you’re paying.”
“That’s cute. I didn’t bring my cards.”
Percy gives her a scolding look. Annabeth just balances on her toes to kiss his cheek and whisper in his ear, “Love you.”
“I’m sure you do,” Percy says. He waits a few seconds as Annabeth begins to walk down one of the rows with trees, and he lets himself stare at her with a swept grin before he follows soon after.
“How much can we actually spend, though?” Annabeth asks again once he laces their hands together. Her free hand comes up to trace along one of the tree branches they pass.
“Don’t worry about that. Just get whichever one you want.”
Annabeth hums at that. She stops to look at another tree, and Percy bumps into her from behind.
“Do you like this one?”
Percy eyes it carefully. “It’s kind of crooked.”
“Your face is crooked,” Annabeth snickers absentmindedly, her fingers looking through the branches one by one.
Percy taps her forehead lightly and gives a fond look. “That’s kind of mean, don’t you think.”
“Not at all. I love you and your crooked face.”
He presses his cold nose into her neck, but she’s so distracted by looking around that she doesn’t stop him. He decides to use that to his advantage, stepping back and looking around to make sure no one was watching him before he ducks down to the ground.
The snow kind of burns his fingers, but he figures pain is temporary anyway, so he gathers as much snow as he can and struggles to pack it into a ball.
“Do you want a tall tree?” Annabeth asks, but she doesn’t turn around. “Whatever you want,” Percy says offhandedly. He stands and tosses the ball into the air a few times to gauge its weight. Annabeth turns around a few seconds later, and Percy takes aim.
He doesn't mean to nail her in the face. He also doesn’t mean to pointedly laugh at her, but the laugh leaves his face soon enough as she wipes her face free of snow and takes one step toward him.
“Now whose face is crooked?” Percy teases.
“It’s still yours,” Annabeth says. “It won’t be for long, though.”
“I don’t know if I should ask what that means.”
“It means your face is going to be broken after I’m done with you,” she says, but even she can’t hide the humor behind her words. She’s biting her lower lip to stifle a smile, and Percy knows he should be worried.
All he says is, “All’s fair in love and war.”
He gives her one last taunting smile, and that’s what makes Annabeth start chasing him. He’s sure they’re not supposed to be running around like this, nearly tripping over the poor families with children just trying to make a fond childhood experience, but Percy decides that he’d prefer not to be suffocated with snow, so he keeps running.
He makes good distance from her, but then he almost trips over a toddler, and he has at least some morals, so it slows him down a bit.
“Why are you running?” Annabeth calls out alarmingly close to him. “Don’t tell me you’re scared.”
Percy looks over his shoulder to return, “Of you? Only a little bit.”
He likes to think that if he had been facing the right way while running, then he would have been able to see the ice on the ground before he’s already on it. Annabeth doesn’t have time to stop before she’s falling right on top of him. It hurts a little bit, but they’re both laughing to the point that they can’t breathe, so the pain is pushed out of his mind. “I caught you,” Annabeth says between laughs, touching her lips to his. Her hands lace with his, pinning his arms to the ground above his head. She gives him a beaming smile. “I win.”
“Uh-oh,” Percy says, amused. “Are you going to break my face?”
“I don’t think I need to. I think the mom of the kid you almost ran over will do that for me.”
Percy snorts, and Annabeth adjusts her position on top of him.
“You better kiss me now, then,” he says innocently. “Before the mom comes and kills me.”
Her lips are already brushing against his, but she’s not kissing him properly, and he whines at that.
“You threw a snowball at my face, and now you’re asking for a kiss?”
“To be fair, I didn’t mean to hit your face.”
Annabeth just touches her nose to his. “No kisses?”
“Buy me a tree, and then we’ll see.”
“You only want me for my money.”
Annabeth sighs and shifts on top of him again, and it makes Percy’s stomach burn. “It’s a shame, really, that it took you this long to figure out.”
Percy tries to twist his hands free, but her grip on him is too strong. “Maybe I knew. That’s why I threw a snowball at you.”
Annabeth’s head ducks lower so her lips can brush against his jawline. She slowly trails up, closer to his lips, and when she’s right over him so that he can feel each breath she takes. He thinks it’s going to finally end in a proper kiss so he tries to move his face closer to hers.
Instead, Annabeth’s hand comes up to shove a handful of snow in his face.
“I told you no kisses until you buy me a tree!” she says, laughing. She lets go of his hands, and he tries to grab her by the waist to keep her there, but she manages to slide off of him, leaving him on the ground alone.
“I’ll buy you a tree,” Percy gives in. “I think I deserve two kisses if I do that, though.”
Annabeth grins. “I can make that work. You better get moving if you want those kisses. That offer expires in twenty minutes.”
That’s all the motivation he needs to get up off the ground. Annabeth walks in front of him again, leaving him stumbling after her with a dumbstruck grin on his face. It ends up taking a bit longer than twenty minutes for them to buy a tree (and that has absolutely nothing to do with a second round of a snowball fight), but he ends up getting those kisses anyway.
Annabeth gives him a sweet smile as they walk back to the car with a christmas tree in tow, and Percy thinks he’s in love.
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thedevilsdom · 8 hours ago
Text
cw: inexperienced xiao, gn reader, light cbt
--
"Have you really never touched yourself before?" You hum, taking a nice, long look at Xiao's cute little cock. It's flushed a deep red at the tip and already dripping. Xiao squirms under your scrutiny, whining a little as his dick drips precum without even being touched.
"N-No, I never really thought of it." He feels embarrassed to admit it. He feels like he's behind.
"Can I?" Your warm hand hovers over his dick and he shivers in anticipation. He whines out a little 'please' before you begin.
You hardly need three fingers to jerk him off, it's cute. He's been leaking precum since you got him out of his clothes, so stroking him isn't difficult at all.
"So cute..." You mutter, stroking him and listening to his adorable mewls.
"Please," Xiao groans, "Can you be a little rougher? M-Maybe?" He's a little unsure about what he's asking for, but when you start to squeeze a little tighter, he can't deny just how good it feels. He almost doubles over around your hand as you keep rubbing him in his most sensitive spot.
Coming up with a neat little idea, you use your other hand to reach down and begin to rub his balls.
"Have you ever touched here, Xiao?" You ask. He shakes his head,
"Not- not really..."
"How does this feel, then?" As you speak, you begin to squeeze his balls firmly in your hand. He gasps and his hands wrap around your arm.
"H-Hurts!" He weakly cries out, dick dripping more precum. "You're crushing them!"
"Do you want me to stop?"
"No, please! Please, I'm close!" The flimsy grip he has on your arm softly urges you to keep going, continuing to hold your hand to his dick. You give him a pleased smile that makes him melt while you continue to rub him, fingers squeezing his balls.
Hardly a few more seconds of effort rewards you in the form of Xiao crying out, mewling as he falls into his orgasm. His slender hips twitch and shudder against your hand and cover your fingers in his sticky cum.
"Shh, good boy," You purr, keeping his orgasm going as long as possible. You watch as tears brim in his eyes and a bright red fills his face as he whines with the pleasure. You push and push until it starts to become too much and he twitches back away from you.
"My sweet Xiao," You cup his face with your clean hand, "So sweet, I can't wait to show you more."
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Pairing: Javier Peña x fem. Reader
Warnings: fluff, Javi is a bit grumpy
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“Baby please. I know you’re going to love it,” you were lying on top of him on your couch, fully dressed while he just sighed.
“We don’t need a tree. It’s just us.”
“I want a tree Javier. It’s not Christmas without a tree,” you kissed him.
“Pretty please?” You did your best attempt at puppy eyes and finally he sighed.
“You better find a way to warm me up later. It’s been snowing for weeks.”
“It’s been snowing since yesterday but yeah Javier. I’ll find a way to warm you up,” you winked and he smirked, his hands running down your back.
“Yeah?”
“I make a killer hot chocolate,” you pecked his lips and giggled while he groaned.
Javier wasn’t used to the cold winter of Minneapolis. Growing up at the Mexican border the amount of snow he saw on the way when you picked him up at the airport to your apartment was already more than he had seen in his whole life before.
You loved snow, and you loved Christmas even more.
Javier had agreed to come and visit you with your mother being sick and you wanted to give him the whole Christmas experience. Including spending way too much time looking for the perfect christmas tree, even though you almost always went back to the first one you saw.
“How are we supposed to get this thing into your apartment?” Javier was standing next to one of the trees you were eying.
“If you can pick me up, you will manage to get three into the apartment, Javi,” you said with a smirk and he shot you a look, fighting against the urge to smile, but you did see his lips twitch.
“Okay what do you think?” you said, finally stopping in front of a tree. You turned around to find out what he was thinking, finding him already looking at you. His eyes were warm and finally a little smile sneaked to his face as you waited for his verdict.
“You’re beautiful,” he said and you felt your cheeks growing warm.
“You’re supposed to look at the tree baby,” you smiled and he huffed.
“It’s okay.”
“Okay?” you asked, looking at the tree again. Javier stepped closer, wrapping his arms around you.
“If you like it, we take it,” he whispered against your ear.
“You’re not very helpful,” you mumbled as he kissed your temple.
“I never really shopped for a christmas tree. When I was a kid my parents bought one and I never had one on my own,” he shrugged and you nodded.
“Well, then we gotta make this one count. The first tree is a very important one.”
“Is it?”
“Yeah. I read that somewhere,” you chuckled and he smiled before he looked away from you and towards the tree.
“It is pretty great,” he finally agreed and you nodded.
“Let’s buy it.”
Later, after you both got the tree into your apartment and it was standing in your living room, you were lying close to Javier on the couch, looking at the tree. You had only put the lights on, delaying the decorating to another day.
“Thank you for my first tree, Hermosa,” he kissed you behind your ear.
“You’re welcome Javi,” you smiled before you drifted off to sleep.
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yours-sincerelyy · 5 hours ago
Text
Sometimes losing interest is so liberating.
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baronessblixen · 8 hours ago
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I don't know if you'll like this prompt but, Scully invites Mulder over to her apartment to help her decorate but insists that she should be the one to put the fairy/star on top of the Christmas tree because she's not too short. Mulder helps by lifting her up despite her protests to place the ornament as the crowning piece to their decorations
Ficmas Day 3
Okay so I misread the prompt and the story went a slightly different way. I hope you like it anyway! Set in season 7, wc 1159.
Tagging @today-in-fic
Together We Can Reach The Stars
Scully inviting him over to her apartment under the pretense of needing help decorating is the greatest gift he could have asked for.
And it's not even Christmas yet.
He knocks on her door Saturday morning, balancing two hot coffees to make up for the fact that he's late.
"Come in," Scully says, smiling at him. He follows her inside, slipping off his coat and his shoes as he takes in her un-Scully-like outfit and the transformation of her apartment. There are bright colorful lights everywhere and knick-knacks he's never seen before. Soft Christmas music fills the warm, vanilla-sweet air and makes him crave cookies.
"Excuse me," he says, touching a fuzzy penguin with a Santa hat on its head. "Is this Dana Scully's apartment or the North Pole?"
"Very funny, Mulder. Did you get extra cinnamon on my coffee?" She asks, lifting the lid and breathing in the aroma. She makes an approving noise, humming slightly. Ever since she's made that noise for the first time - it was two weeks ago - he hasn't been able to forget it or think straight. He always remembers her cinnamon.
"In the spirit of Christmas," he says, drawing her attention back to him. "I got the cinnamon special, too." She raises an eyebrow. "Need to know what all the fuss is about, don't I?" Without taking his eyes off her, he sips from his own steaming hot cup. Spicy hot sweetness explodes on his tongue and his eyes grow wide in surprise.
"Shit, this is good."
"I know," she says with a wink. "Thank you for remembering." She gives him that look again. The Look predates the cinnamon by about a week. Or maybe even longer. His memories from right after his botched brain surgery are hazy. He hasn't been able to decipher The Look yet. He doesn't dare to interpret it - in case he's wrong about it.
"So," he says to break the spell between them. "What is it you need me for?"
"The tree." She points at it. The red, green and gold colors sit together perfectly in the large fir. He wonders how Scully got the tree home by herself. Unless she didn't get it home by herself. He stares at the tree, lost in thought. What if someone else helped Scully with the tree and they didn't have time to help her today and he's her second choice? Her third choice even?
"Mulder, are you even listening?" She squeezes his hand, smiling knowingly at him.
"Um, sorry. It's beautiful," he says quickly and it's the truth. Everything Scully touches turns golden, becomes better. He knows because she's touched his life, too. "What do you need me to do?"
"It's missing the star."
"The star?" Scully walks over to the open boxes on her couch that hold even more kitschy decorations and ornaments. How many trees and apartments is she planning on decorating?
"The star that goes on top." She holds up an old faded star that has clearly seen better days. "It used to belong to my grandmother Scully." She gently runs a finger over it, smiling to herself. "My mom gave it to me after... after Emily."
She lifts her head and he sees that her eyes are wet. Christmas isn't easy for her, he knows that. He's already researching places he can bring her this year. Maybe another haunted house, maybe something else entirely. As long as she's distracted.
"I didn't decorate last year," she goes on. "What with being busy with work and then you dragged me to that haunted mansion." He grins sheepishly. "I um, I tried to put the star on top but I'm... tooshorttodoit."
"You what?" He asks, biting his lip to hide his grin.
"Mulder, you heard me."
"No, I didn't. You're what?" He steps closer to her, invading her personal space. She has to crane her neck to give him a stern look.
"Too short," she repeats. "I can't reach the top."
Mulder glances at the tree. It won't even be easy for him to reach the top. How the hell did she get that thing inside?
"Will you please put it on top? For me?"
"Hmm," he says, looking her up and down. "You should do it."
"Mulder, didn't you hear what I just said?"
"I heard you loud and clear. I'll help you, come on." Her expression is full of apprehension but she follows him to the tree, holding the star in her hands.
"Ready?" He asks her.
"For what?" There's a moment of panic in her eyes as he puts his hands on her hips. It goes away as quickly as it appeared and she watches him with parted lips, giving him ideas that have nothing to do with tree decorations and would put him on the naughty list.
"I will lift you so you-"
"Mulder, no."
"Mulder, yes," he says, smiling. "It should be you putting the star on top and since we've established that you're too short to do it on your own... let me help you. Please?"
As soon as Scully nods, Mulder tightens his grip on her and lifts her up. His arms are around her middle and he realizes that he didn't think this through. His cheek is pressed against her sweater - her very tight sweater - and right under her breasts.
"Can you- just a little higher, Mulder."
He closes his eyes in concentration and lifts her higher, his hand moving from her hip and lower, lower until it's on her ass.
His hand is on Scully's butt and he doesn't remember how to breathe.
"Mulder?" She asks with a funny tone in her voice.
"Yes?"
"You can let me down now."
He does - or he tries to. She slides down his front in what seems like slow motion until they're flush against each other, face to face.
"Was your hand just-"
"I'm sorry, Scully," he says quickly. "I wanted to make sure you wouldn't fall down."
"I know," she says easily. "I'm not complaining."
"You're not?"
She shakes her head. They're still pressed against each other, neither of them moving away.
"Thank you for helping me with the star. Let's see if we got it right."
They both turn towards the tree but Mulder keeps his arm looped around Scully's waist.
"Looks good, doesn't it?" She asks him, her voice thick with emotion.
"It looks perfect." And it does. "It's going to look even more beautiful once it's dark outside."
"It will. You're going to stay, right?"
"You didn't just want me here for my exceptional height?"
"No, I want you here because I want you here."
He watches her, speechless. He doubts the tree can compare to her beauty, even with all the lights. Scully is his star, his everything. And maybe tonight he'll test his theory on that look she keeps giving him. There it is again.
"I'd love to stay," he says.
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blackkatmagic · 18 hours ago
Text
Spring in Hell update
The last chapter is now up!
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calcium-cat · 8 hours ago
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Btw, I was curious before but I just remembered to ask, I’m surprised Night didn’t just say that he found the crown at the scene? I mean obviously it may not have added up, since the crown was big, but??? I’m surprised he just told him?? Why did he do that?
Honestly, I hadn't thought of that before, but that's a really interesting idea. In fact, I decided to re-write the scene with that very premise in mind! :D So here's what would happen if Nightmare had told Dream that he had found the crown at the tree along with him:
(sort-of spoilers for chapter 12)
-----
A crescent moon.
Dream gasped sharply.
This was Nightmare’s crown.
He just stared at it for a moment, his mouth hanging open. Then he glanced in the tall clothes box at the blanket the crown had rolled out of. But to his disappointment, there was no Nightmare-shaped body hiding under it. Dream frowned and looked back at the crown.
It was definitely Nightmare’s, Dream was sure of it, but then . . .
. . . where was Nightmare?
Midnight said the villagers had taken Nightmare, so why was his crown here? Why was Midnight keeping it in his room? Why didn’t Midnight tell him?
Was . . . was he trying to hide it from him?
Why would Midnight do that?
Dream gulped when he couldn’t think of a good answer and took a step backwards.
Something was wrong. 
He needed to leave now, before Midnight came in and saw him with the hidden crown and got mad at him. He needed to-
“Didn’t I tell you to stay out of my room?”
Dream jumped and looked over his shoulder, locking eyelights with the black skeleton standing in the doorway.
“Midnight! I- uh, I-” he started, but Nightmare cut him off.
“I don’t want your excuses, Dream, you know the rule,” he said, walking over to him. “You’re not allowed in here, so go hide somewhere . . .”
Nightmare stopped a few feet from his brither and stared at the open wardrobe. “ . . . else.”
“I’m- I’m sorry, Midnight, I’m really sorry,” Dream stammered, drawing his attention down to him. His shoulders were hunched forward, making him look smaller than normal. “I’m- I won’t come in here again, I won’t- I’ll go hide in a new spot, and- and you can count again and I-”
“Dream.”
Dream peeked up at him.
“What are you hiding under your cape?” he said, picking up both Dream’s body language and the trepidation coming from his small soul.
Never mind that Nightmare was feeling a similiar spike of panic and dread.
Dream hesitated. “Promise you won’t get mad at me?”
“Depends on what it is,” he answered, narrowing socket eye at him.
Only for his socket to immediately widen when Dream removed his hands from behind his back, revealing it.
The thing he couldn’t destroy, no matter how much he hated it.
The thing he had kept hidden away instead
The thing he tried so hard to forget.
His crown.
Nightmare stared blankly at it, his eyelight gutting out completely.
“It’s . . . it’s Nightmare’s crown,” said Dream, his voice so very, very small, but without a shred of doubt.
The person in question remained silent, prompting the small skeleton to continue.
“I- I found it. It was inside a blanket and it fell out,” he said, his golden eyelights staring up at him so intensely, that even with his tarry outer shell, Nightmare felt exposed.
“Do you . . . do you know how it got there, Midnight?”
 . . .
There it was.
The question he’d been waiting for, dreading.
And now that it was hanging in the air, waiting for him to answer . . .
. . . Just how was he supposed to answer it?
The truth was certainly not an option. But neither was playing it off, like it was just some old relic he’d found one day. Dream was naive, yes, but he was also too stubborn in his belief that the crown was “Nightmares” to fall for a story like that.
So what other explanation could he possibly offer?
The only one that came to mind was the explanation he had already given Dream, right after finding his shrunken brother in the dungeon. But that cover story alone wouldn’t be enough to convince him to let the crown be.
Unless . . .
. . .
Hmm . . .
. . .
. . . he could put a twist on it.
A twist that would get Dream to drop the matter of his lost twin for good.
It was a risky idea, that’s for sure. But Dream was both confused and emotional at the moment, not to mention ignorantly trusting of him. The deck was stacked in his favor, he just had to play his cards very carefully.
It’s not like he had another choice, right?
. . .
Right.
. . .
Nightmare let his gaze fall sadly to the side and exhaled heavily.
“I do know how, but . . . I’m not sure if I should tell you . . .”
“No, tell me! Tell me, please!?” Dream begged, stepping closer to him.
Nightmare sighed again, “alright, if you insist,” and looked reluctantly at his brother.
“Remember how I told you that Nightmare was gone?” he asked.
Dream shook his head, “Yeah, you said- the villagers, they took him.”
“That’s right. But when I said they took him, what I didn’t tell you is- ” Nightmare waited for a suspenseful moment- “they didn’t just take him. They took his soul.”
“His- his soul?” Dream exclaimed.
He nodded slowly.
“But- but do you- is he- he’s not- he’s not dust. Right Midnight?”
“I’m afraid . . . he is,” Nightmare said, slipping on a sympathetic expression. “When I found you, his crown was the only thing left.”
Dream glanced down at said accessory, his blurry eyelights shaking, tattle-telling that the tears would start any second now.
“I didn’t want to tell you, that’s why I kept it hidden away. I’m sorry,” he said, setting a hand on his shoulder and bracing for the dam to break.
This was it, he couldn’t back out now, even if he wanted to.
Besides this . . . this was for the best, wasn’t it?
The truth of his identity will remain a secret, the crown will be cast into some stars forsaken AU, and the past can finally be put behind them. No more “Nighty this” and “Nighty that”. It will be a brand new start for-
“Nighty, he . . . he isn’t . . . he isn’t dust . . .” Dream said murmured.
Nightmare was startled for a moment, then said patiently, “I know, I know, it’s not easy, but you have to-”
“-No!” Dream jerked out of his grasp and glared, holding back tears. “No! Nightmare isn’t gone, you’re- you’re lying!”
“What?” Nightmare furrowed his brow, cracking his mask a little. “Why do you think I’d lie about this?”
“Because- . . . b-because you-! You took his crown! And you hid it and didn’t tell me. So, that means, you took Nightmare too! And you’re hiding him, like you hid his crown!” he said, his voice wavering as he stumbled through his accusation, but his conviction didn’t.
“Dream . . .” Nightmare said calmly, stretching out his hand again, “I understand you’re upset, but denial isn’t going to bring your brother-”
“Shut up!” screamed Dream and flinched back. “I don’t care- I want Nightmare! Where is he!?”
. . .
For a second time, Nightmare was completely speechless.
Of course, he knew what he should say.
He should firmly refute the claim and then gaslight Dream into questioning it himself, until he finally accepts that his “brother” is dead.
So what if it broke Dream, crushing all the hope he had left and shattering his tiny soul into pieces.
Dream was resilient and determined. He would stop grieving over the loss of his beloved twin at some point. Sure, it might take a considerable amount of time, but he’d bounce back to being his normal self eventually.
In fact, with enough time, Dream will probably forget all about “Nightmare”.
He’ll stop bringing him up in conversations, fondly retelling memories he has of him. He’ll probably even throw the Nighty doll away somewhere dark and dusty, like he did with his crown.
“Nightmare” will cease to exist, forever making him just “Midnight”.
Not Dream’s brother, his negative half, his twin guardian.
Just . . . “Midnight.”
. . .
“Midnight” stared down into the desperate eyelights of his tiny twin . . .
. . . and folded.
. . .
“Look,” he hung his head, “I’m sorry I- ”
Suddenly, Dream darted past him, almost tripping over his feet as he dashed madly, no doubt for the door.
“Dream! Dream, wait!” Nightmare called out, spinning around.
Which only made the small skeleton sprint faster. But not fast enough, as Dream realised a second later when Nightmare materialised in front of the door. Dream tried to swerve and failed, falling instead into his arms, which Nightmare used to grip Dream’s own.
“Stop, let go of me!” Dream cried frantically as he struggled. “Let go! I’ve gotta find Nightmare, I’ve gotta find him! Stop it, please, let go-!”
“It’s okay, it’s okay, calm down,” said Nightmare, dropping down to his knees, “I’m not going to hurt you. I’ll tell you where your brother is, okay?”
Dream stilled at that, still panting from his hysterics, and stared wide-eyed but warily.
“Promise?” he whimpered.
Nightmare gazed directly into his sockets and nodded.
“I promise.”
-----
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lilacprentiss · 9 hours ago
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Nightmares
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pairing: aaron hotchner x gn!reader
warnings: nightmare talk - that’s it i think. do let me know if i missed any!
word count: 184 ( v short again )
a/n: prompt - “go back to sleep” from this list! anddd, we’re back to unedited blurbs besties :) let me know what you think!
masterlist
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You stirred as the mattress dipped beside you. You rolled over on your side and slowly opened your eyes to see two shapes in the darkness and went to flick on the lamp when Aaron’s voice stopped you.
“Don’t, keep it off.” Aaron whispered, as he carefully laid Jack down on the mattress, “Is there room for one more?”
“Of course there is,” You replied, propping yourself on your shoulder, and reaching for Jack to give him a cuddle. You felt his damp cheeks and knew the little boy had another nightmare. “Come here Jack.”
Jack launched himself into your arms, almost sending you back onto the mattress. You fixed your hold on him and gently stroked his hair. Slowly, his breath began to even out and you knew he had fallen asleep again. You peered through the darkness to make out Aaron watching the two of you.
“Are you alright?” You whispered as Aaron reached over and placed his arm across both you and Jack.
“I am,” Aaron replied sincerely as he kissed both yours and Jack's foreheads. “Go back to sleep.”
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taglist : @brilliantbimbo @kodiakwhiskey @jasperandgemma @fightingdragonswithreid
send an ask if you’d like to be added
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ruhlare · 14 hours ago
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ستقابل الروح التي تتوق إليها بعد أن تكمل نفسك
you will meet the soul you yearn for after you have completed yourself.
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mattyanonwrites · 23 hours ago
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eight hundred -- erik johnson
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a/n: for all the erik johnson enjoyers out there to celebrate his 800th game tonight (also an update: after finals the rest of my wips are being finished & posted) 
word count: +1.4k
warnings: smut — (phone sex aka all that that entails like dirty talk, shared mastrubation?) if there’s anything i missed let me know
tagging: @mikeybastian @ghostyjosty @davidpastrsnack <3
feedback is appreciated! my dms & anons are always open :)
it was your phone ringing that woke you up. the sound getting louder and louder as you sat up in bed. 
looking at the clock sitting next to your charging phone, you knew who was calling even without seeing the name pop up on your screen. 
it was too late for anybody but erik to be calling you. squinting against the blue light, you swiped your finger across the screen. 
the ringing subsided into a moment of silence before a picture overtook the small screen. 
erik’s was staring at you as the connection froze for the blink of a second. his wet hair sticking to his forehead after a shower. you could see the water droplets clinging to his bare shoulders as he moved around the hotel room. 
“hi.” you said laying back in the bed, head falling on the pillow with a soft plop. 
“hey, did you watch the game?” erik didn’t miss a beat as he spoke, trying to hide the smirk pulling at his lips. 
“no, why? was there a big game tonight or something?” you asked nonchalantly a teasing smirk painted on your delicate features. 
“haha very funny, y/n.” erik deadpanned as you watched him settle on the bed. 
“of course i watched, baby. it was your 800th game. i’m so proud of you.” you said sickening sweet smile taking over your teasing smirk. 
even in the dim lighting of his hotel room, you could see the pinkish tint to his cheeks, the blush rising across his pale skin. 
erik smiled openly at you. his toothless smile warming your heart like it always did when he looked at you like that. 
he still had the same effect on you even through a tiny phone screen that didn’t do him justice while sitting in a hotel room in a different time zone and country. 
the both of you just soaked in each other’s presence. it had been a rough start to the longest road trip he’d be on this season. 
last night instead of calling you with his head down wearing a frown, he sent you a text from the plane while they awaited the chewing out they deserved from bedsy. 
“how are you feeling?” you asked voice soft in the emptiness of your shared bedroom with erik, the homey walls missing him too. 
“tired as shit.” erik answered slumping down in his bed. 
“oh. too tired?” you asked with a hint of the devil in your voice. 
“too tired for what?” with an eyebrow raised, erik questioned. his interest peaked. 
“oh nothing, just that tonight was hot.” 
“oh really?” the tone of his voice pitched higher as a gleam overtook the familiarity of his faded blue eyes. 
“mmmhmmm.” you hummed, hand slipping down your body, toying at the waistband of your pajama shorts. 
erik’s eyes lit up even more as he caught the movement as your body reacted to the feel of skin on skin. 
“touch yourself, baby.” 
he groaned loudly watching you squirm in front of him as your fingers brushed through your wetness. 
the comforters he was resting on crinkled under his six-foot-four frame as he shrugged himself clean of his boxers. 
erik watched you intently, his hand brushing over his hardening cock. his eyes never left the screen. the orbs focused on making sure he was taking in every single slight part of your lips, the soft gasps leaving your mouth, and the moans rolling off your tongue like a perfect symphony. 
“oh i miss you so much.” erik said as he wrapped his fingers around himself for the first time and matched the pace of your movements. 
“i wish you were here. want you to touch me,” 
“what else?” erik interrupted. 
“want your mouth on me,” 
“i want that too,” he grunted, “wanna feel you digging into my back while i make you come.” 
you groaned in response to his words. 
“god, you’re so hot touching yourself for me. keep going.” erik said and you closed your eyes getting lost in the memories of his hands lighting you on fire as he ran them over your body. 
the graze of his fingers felt like phantoms brushing over you now. 
“i want you inside me,” you said shamelessly. 
at that, erik’s eyes turned dark and stormy. 
clouded with lust his voice hovered low. 
you could feel the weight of him with the heaviness of his voice as he spoke to you, urging you on. explaining all the things he wanted to do to you if he was there. 
“touch yourself right there, y/n.” 
“show me your tits.” you obeyed, stopping your matched movements with his to pull at the thin tank top you were wearing. 
“look at you, such a slut for me even when i’m away.” erik groaned as you brushed your free thumb over your nipple, the look in his eyes far off as he got lost in the change. 
you could see his shoulders twitching, his chest rising and falling heavily. 
your skin was painted with a blush as was his, as you exchanged moans back and forth wanting for each other’s experienced hands. 
erik knew you better than anyone, how to undo you quicker than all of the others before. his mind muddled with pleasure as he thrust into you, making you scream at the ministrations of his hips. 
you whimpered, missing his touch. 
you clung to every word falling from his smirking smile. the words forming like a prayer in your mind that you replayed over and over again. 
“all mine,” he mused in a whisper. 
you let out a soft breathy moan at that admission. no matter how much he said it, you still fluttered underneath the words cause for the rest of your life all you wanted to be was his. 
“say it,” he demanded. 
his glare was piercing as you shuddered, “all yours.” 
erik didn’t shoot you his classic boyish look as you expected. triumph didn’t shadow across his face and there was nothing boyish about him. instead, he looked haunted as his body shook. 
“i’m so close,” you whined. 
“me too, baby.” 
“show me.” you could barely mutter them out as erik switched the setting of his camera around. 
sparks crackled through you as you watched his large hand working over his cock. you wished you could part your lips over the tip and feel him hit the back of your throat. show him just how proud you were of him, but the distance of the season kept you from doing that. 
lost in the thought, erik’s voice felt far away despite the speaker being turned up all the way.
“don’t stop touching yourself for me. come on, come for me.” 
you moaned when his words hit you, the lowness of his voice knocking you over the edge as he begged. 
your high washed over you hard, your motions stilled as your back arched in response to the euphoria rushing through your body. 
“fuck,” the syllable drawing from his lips slowly. the groan sputtered out after as he spilled into his hand, his motions stopping. 
both of you listened to the rapid breathing on the other around trying to ground yourselves back to earth. 
your eyes felt heavy as you looked back to the screen when you finally felt collected. erik was looking at you, his eyelids threatening to close. 
“that was hot.” erik said, a chuckle following. 
“you’re hot,” you said and immediately regretted it with the look taking over him. 
he laughed amused now, “i am, aren’t i?” he asked smirking, wiggling his eyebrows. 
“not when you’re doing that.” you laughed sitting up. you wanted to be annoyed, but you couldn’t be with the way he was grinning like an idiot. 
the easiness of it all was a much better sight of how you knew he looked last night and had seen him all last year. grateful for the change in his demeanor. 
“i’m always hot.” he scoffed taking offense. 
you shook your head, taking him with you to the ensuite as you turned the light on. 
“you know what, yeah. you always are,” you affirmed. 
“thank you.” he was glad you corrected your mistake earlier even if it was playful. 
“especially with your hands in my hair guiding my lips over your dick,” 
“stop it, woman, this isn’t fair.” he groaned, his soft cock twitching in response to the image shooting across his mind. 
you snickered loudly, the sound of it echoing throughout your home and the rooms of his hotel room in a new city. 
--
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glimmerglanger · 14 hours ago
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Convergence Zones (Complete)
I'm deeply impatient. You folks know that about me, right? Well, if you didn't before, you do now!
I have posted the final chapter and epilogue of "Convergence Zones" on ao3 a few days early because... I can't stop myself anymore!
CZ is a modern fantasy Codywan au. Featuring monster fights, considerations of what it means to be 'human,' and emotional spiciness. Some people live/not everyone dies with a LOT of canon-typical violence. (Some canonical character death).
This fic ate my life for several months, but now it is all posted! Thanks for reading along! Hope you enjoy the conclusion!
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inexplicifics · 12 hours ago
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Must Brave the Thorns, chapter 4!
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shellibisshe · 15 hours ago
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The gate shuts again with a loud boom, shaking everyone for a bit. Everyone except Emily.
She recognizes him. She can’t quite place it, but she’s seen him before, she knows it. There’s a vague image in her mind from however-many-years ago, and he’s there.
“What are you thinkin’?” Rush asks, waving the others from the gate as he too watches John and the kids walk to the empty shack.
“He’s keeping something from us.”
“He just got here.”
“He’s hiding something, Rush,” her stare is stern, right at him, boring holes through, “I know it.”
local lady has had enough of everything. I’ve been in a very Emily mood lately and that little snippet is from one of my new dawn fics! specifically one where John reappears with the twins.
i think this turned out a bit more stylized then usual, and I like it! and I’ve never done shading like this before so I’m trying ;-;
click for better quality and zoom in! if you enjoy my content, consider supporting me through kofi!
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