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Bloom

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It's the most important day of my post-grad life, and I forgot to iron my clothes.

No big deal, right? Surely anyone can walk into an interview looking like a rumpled blob, no problem!

It's my roommate that saves my life. Emilia, the kindest girl known to humankind, with her bright blue eyes and freckles painted along her skin.

"You should have woken me up sooner," she sighs emphatically, waving her hand-steamer around the wrinkly clothes I hung up the night before. "Today is a big day for you. Did you have breakfast?"

"Er…"

"Child." I'm two months older than her! "What would you do without me?"

"Shrivel up and die, probably. Definitely. I'll go eat a Glif bar…"

"And don't forget Mama Emilia's magic potion!"

"Coffee?"

"Fil's Coffee."

Fil's, right. The best coffee in the valley, or so everyone says. I prefer a regular old Stirbucks frapp, but thanks to moving in with my mom—I mean, Emilia—my sugar habits have taken a severe nosedive. She's put together in a way that I'm not; she wakes up at 4 am to work out, eats "clean," and got an internship at Rogue magazine the day after she graduated.

Not that I'm too far behind her! I have an interview at 3 Point Records, a real interview! A paid position and everything. It's not anything glamorous—it's a sort of PA position—but it's still something! And at the most famous record label probably ever! It's a little scary aiming straight for the top, but they've put out some of the biggest acts in recent music history. I've wanted to make music for so long, or at least be a part of it in some way.

I scarf down my Glif bar in two bites, putting my coffee (black, Emilia always insists, unless I'm using almond milk—hey, I can't even tell the difference) in a tumbler and darting back to my room to change. Emilia motions triumphantly to my outfit.

"Good as new, isn't it?"

"Ahh, thank god… you really saved me, again…"

"You can do the dishes," Emilia replies brightly. Damn. I should have known better.

"Oh well, it's a dog eat dog world," I reply, before throwing off my bathrobe and shimmying into the slacks I picked out. One tucked in button-up and chic blazer later, I turn to my mirror to assess. "Should I do something with my hair?"

"You don't want to look too done up, do you? It's a record label, not Boogle HQ. Be loose."

Whatever that means.

By the time I'm on VART, clinging to the handrail and rehearsing my answers in my head, I've jogged out some nervous energy and repeated 'be loose' to myself about a hundred times. I may not know what it means, but dear, sweet Emilia has never steered me wrong.

***

Why did I think I have this in the bag? My hubris! Professional looking adults pack the waiting room, all with accordion folders and sharp buns and braids and ponytails, prim and proper like someone I've only ever fantasized about being. It's sleek and sparkling clean, like a new iFone fresh out of the box.

The toe of my flats has a scuff on it. I stare at my traitorous shoes while I wait for my number to be called—what is this, customer service?! But no, I must endure. I must.

"Seventeen!" a woman calls from her desk, looking as disinterested in this whole parade as I must look terrified. She lets me into the office through a key-coded door, then leads me to a room that feels like a different world. I exhale a long breath; the stark white of the waiting room didn't do much to make me feel welcome, but this room is like a cozy lounge. The walls are soft gray, with plush red furniture and soft music playing. The interviewers are all relaxed, drinking coffee and chatting amongst themselves like old friends.

"Hello," I say in my firmest voice. The committee pauses, looking at me. "I'm—"

"We know who you are, number seventeen. Come, sit. Have a bagel."

What? I look toward a coffee table where a box of bagels sits, then bristle a little. I'm not number seventeen! I' m—!

"I'm Jin," Mr. Bagel Pusher says, sounding very official and no-nonsense. "And these are my colleagues—" A man with rosy gold hair snickers. "Hoseok and Namjoon. We'll be interviewing you today."

Wordless, I take a bagel and sit. It's dry when I take a bite, but out of courtesy, I keep chewing. Are all record label execs models? I can only wonder.

Their names are kind of foreign, too. Japanese? Maybe? I fidget under their eyes, waiting.

"So," the most distinguished looking of the three speaks, leaning over the table. "Tell us about yourself."

"Erh, well," I swallow extra hard to get the bagel down. "I graduated from Sbanford University just this past summer, and I uh." Too many "uhs!" This is tanking, fast. "Well you see, I've been in music my whole life, and uh, I really—"

"Don't be so nervous! Relax, relax. This isn't a thesis defense," says rosy-gold hair, a smile on his face. It's so sunshiney and shaped like a heart. "Tell us about you."

Oh, god. Who am I? What kind of question is that?! I'm barely into my adult life, how am I supposed to know that already? Is this an interview or a character study…?

"W-well, I'm…" I have to answer carefully. "Curious. I like to know how things work, and I like to learn. My professors always said I would doubtless have questions." I try to laugh, then rotate my shoulders. Loose! I have to be loose!

I seem to have their attention now. Jin is smiling, anyway. That's a good sign, right? It has to be!

"And what are you curious about here?"

"I want to see every step of the process!" Too earnest? "I want to make music with talented people—" Uhh, is it just me, or did the door open behind me? "And learn about how the music industry operates, so I can grow."

"Did you recite that out of a textbook?" A new, deep voice asks. I gulp and turn to look at the new face. Immediately, my cheeks flush. It's not often I run into men who exude power, but I can feel his aura from across the room. "Let's see… graduated from Sbanford, internship at Supreme Music Group, excellent references," he reads from a tablet, looking entirely unimpressed. "That's great."

"Ah? Thank you, uh…?"

It could not be more evident that my unspoken question was the worst possible thing I could have said. Or...not said. The man looks up, frowning. "I'm Yoongi Min, CEO of 3 Point. Did you research at all before applying?"

Shit! Shit, shit, shit! I did! I totally did, for hours, but I've never seen this man in my life!

Suddenly, I'm yearning to be back in the waiting room.

"So tell me, number seventeen, why should we hire you?"

This is hazing. It has to be. At least refer to me by my name!

"Well, uh, I—" I'm stammering. Yoongi glances down at his tablet.

"Thank you. You can go."

Wait... no. Not now! It has to go better than this—! Wait—!

"Wait!" I half about, jumping up. My hands are shaking. Yoongi looks almost taken aback. Almost. "3 Point records was founded in 20xx, and immediately put on the map with their first act, Lady Gaja. Famous went on to sell almost 7 million records due to the unique record packaging, including collectibles. She became known for her provocative visual element and for introducing synthpop to the masses." Damn you Yoongi Min, you might have taken me off guard, but you won't humiliate me! "3 Point has followed up every act it puts out with record-shattering artists and has been declared by Witchfork to be the label to follow if you want to know where music trends are going to shift!"

Okay, that was a lot. I take a deep breath, legs weak, waiting for whatever Yoongi will say.

"Wowww, she called your bluff, Yoongi," sunshine-smile breaks the silence, and gradually, the atmosphere relaxes. There's been no discernible change in Mr. CEO, but I stand my ground.

"And why should I hire you? Why you, when there are a dozen people out there who would do anything for this job?"

The make or break question. It's only a generic office position, but it's a foot in the door. I can't blow this! I prepared for this!

...But I have to throw out my canned answer. It won't be good enough. I have to think!

"Because…" I start, uncertain. No! No more uncertainty! I feel like I'm spinning my wheels for a moment, and then the answer hits me. "Cello is my first love," I say. "The feeling of the strings underneath my fingers and the weight of the neck on my shoulder is the most comforting thing in the world. Some people have Netflix, others party, but—" Hey, does this sound too much like the 'I'm not like other girls' line? "But the one thing that I can always come back to is music. If you give me an opportunity, I'll give everything I've got to uphold 3 Point's reputation and cultivate its legacy with care." Silence. "Plus, I'm fresh out of university, so you can mold me however you want."

Yeah, that was too much. But it's true! Maybe I'm weird for finding solace in notes instead of booze, but I know I can't be the only one. Maybe someone in this room will understand.

"Thank you, number seventeen." Hey, is it bad form to chuck a bagel at someone's head? Asking for a friend. "We'll be in touch."

One outburst was probably enough. I nod, biting my lip, and rush out of the room. I blew it. I know I blew it. I couldn't answer any simple questions, and I yelled at the founder of the company! Shit!

Wrinkled clothes were probably the least of my worries, huh? Maybe I should practice interviewing. LinkedUp has those coaches for hire, don't they?

Yeah, I'll go for that… whatever just happened in there was a disaster. The disaster to end all disasters.

Emilia is already gone for work when I get home, so I take small pleasure in dropping everything—my bag, my blazer, my keys—on the floor. Playing is the best thing for stress, so I go to my room to drown myself in the dark, sensual bliss of tenor.

Chapter Text

No one ever told me that applying for jobs would be a never-ending, soul sucking experience. I thought blowing the 3 Point interview was bad enough, but I had no idea. It was the only interview I even managed to get. Everywhere else was all, “Entry level. Must have a million years of experience.”

I mean, what the hell does entry level mean to these people? How is an internship while studying at Sbanford not good enough?!

If this is what adulthood is like, I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to check out. Run off to a random Pacific island and try to exist off the grid. I'm probably the only Sbanford graduate that hasn't managed to land a job a year before graduation.

Gloomy thoughts aren't exactly great for motivation. After a week, I'm pretty good at the whole “jobless and feral” thing, which at least garnered me a little sympathy from Emilia. She's pretty great, really...bringing me coffee and helping me scope out some potential jobs.

“There's nothing wrong with being a barista,” she says, one afternoon, after a fruitless search on LinkedUp. “Just until you get on your feet.”

“You're right.” I wish she wasn't. “And hey, maybe I can impress potential dates with my latte art.”

That comes out a little more bitter than I meant it to.

“I take it Liv didn't call you back.”

Oof.

“She didn't, wouldn't you know.”

Great. Jobless and loveless. Thanks for the reminder, Emilia!

“Well, she wasn't that great anyway. You deserve someone who doesn't require phone calls.”

I laugh in spite of my bad mood. My laptop screen is a blur of entry-level-401k-4-year-degree-self-motivated nonsense that I haven't really been reading for the last 10 minutes. I could always reach out to my contacts at Supreme, but...I didn’t like it there, if I’m being honest. The vibe was so tense. If I have to use that lifeline, I will, but. I don’t want to.

Though it’s looking like I might not have much of a choice.

Scrolling is beginning to give me a headache, and Emilia seems to be in the same boat. She closes her laptop and throws herself back on the couch 

“Forget it. I'm pretty sure I can get you into Rogue. Do you know Luna Blu?” How can I not? Emilia very nearly worships her, not that I can blame her. Luna Blu is the definition of a rags to riches story, going from poverty to editor of the most prestigious fashion magazine in the world. Plus, Emilia is an avid purveyor of powerful women. It's like, her #1 weakness. “She loves bringing in college grads. Says they have chaotic energy. She's bound to have a spot for you.”

“But I don't know anything about fashion.” Beggars can’t be choosers and all, but I really don’t have anything to offer Rogue unless they take hot tips such as “leggings comfy.” Working with Emilia sounds nice, though. Less scary than starting at a company where I don’t know anyone and will be all on my own.

“Well…” Emilia frowns, a pretty pink pout, and brushes her fringe out of her face. "There's an opening in the social media department. You're pretty good at that."

“If you're talking about my out-of-context horses Twitter account, it only has four thousand followers.”

“Isn't that a lot?”

“...Honey.”

“Okay, okay.” Emilia chews on her lower lip. Defeat is not something she accepts easily, and I can tell by the flat line of her brows that she’s thinking something over very seriously.

Bzz bzz.

“Hear me out, okay? You could just upload your resume to LinkedUp and apply to everything that sounds interesting regardless of whether you have the experience or not,” Emilia says, distractedly taking out her phone. “Oh, it’s you.”

Huh. I grab my phone from beside me, then wrinkle my nose. “Unknown number.” It’s my way of saying I don’t feel like dealing with it.

Bzz bzz.

“What if it’s a job interview? Emilia says. She really does sound like my mom when she gets all stern.

Bzz bzz.

“What if it’s Luna Blu, who absorbed our conversation through osmosis?” My sarcasm is a little heavy, sure, but after a week of nothing, I really doubt it’s anything but a bot call threatening me with police, lawyers, or police-lawyers.

Bzz bzz.

“Answer it already!”

“Oh whoops, it went to voicemail.”

“You are so impossible,” Emilia sighs, but she doesn’t sound mad. She never does. Besides, who in the year 2019 answers their phone? “Well, if it’s important they’ll leave a voicemail.”

“Exactly.”

It takes approximately 10 more minutes for Emilia to give up and suggest we go to Calia’s by the Sea. I can’t say no to Taco Tuesday, especially with the prospect of being strangled down the road by the budget monster. It might sound like splurging, but $1 tacos and $2 beers are way cheaper than grocery shopping. Plus, Sea Beach is 4 blocks away. Going out sounds better than losing all hope for the future, so we grab a couple of blankets and head out with the intention of getting at least mildly tipsy and crashing a bonfire. It’s mostly students over in this corner, so it should be fine.

And like magic, I’m drunk by 7:30. Worries? Forgotten. Jobs? Don't need 'em. I walk down the beach trying to dodge stepping on shells with my bare feet. Emilia is ambling a little ahead of me, arms out as she tries very hard (for a reason I can’t imagine) to walk in a perfectly straight line. At some point we grabbed a 12-pack of Lagunitas, and there’s a very inviting bonfire down the way that we’re pretty sure we can trade some beer to sit beside. All in all, a pretty good night.

“Hey,” Emilia calls over her shoulder. Her copper hair is blowing in a pretty wicked wind, the sun setting it ablaze even in the fog of the bay. “Are you upset about Liv?”

“Nah, not really,” I shrug. I forgot about it for a bit, and I unlock my phone to go ahead and delete her number. It was just one date, not really a big deal in the "we didn’t form any kind of connection but it still kinda stings to be rejected for unknown reasons" way. “She’s like… super into the Big Bog Theory, so…”

“Oh, gross. I thought only parents wanting to understand their millennial children watched that.”

“Apparently not. Hey, I got a voicemail, hang on.”

Guess it was important! Or the bot was very intent on wasting my time. There’s a lot of those recently, most of them about winning vacations I never applied for, for some reason. I put the phone up to my ear to listen.

Aaand it’s a click. Well, that was anticlimactic. Or it would be, but a call comes through a split second later, making me pause. My brain is moving too slow to think to reject it. Hell, maybe it really is a prospect.

“Uhh, hello?”

“Uhh, hi.” The voice that comes through the phone is definitely not a recording. It’s too...sarcastic...for that. Emilia turns around from ten steps ahead, looking curious. “Is this Seventeen?”

“What?” Seventeen? Someone named their kid Seventeen…?

Wait, wait.

I remember this voice. “Isn’t it after hours for a business call?”

Answering the phone tipsy: not a good idea.

“I thought I would give you the courtesy of a second call before I moved onto our next candidate, but if it’s not a good time for you—”

“No! No, no, it’s a great time. The best. This. Uh, is this Yoongi?” I hiccup. My body is truly a traitor.

“Yes.”

“Uhh. Okay. You don’t have like, a secretary or something?”

Answering the phone tipsy: bad, actually.

“No, I fired them. That’s why we have an open position.”

Oh. Oh geez. My brain is struggling to keep up with how suddenly this took a turn, after nothing! Nothing for a week!

“Right. Yeah, that makes sense. You fired—hic!—them.”

“Are you drunk, Seventeen?”

Answering the phone tipsy: the absolute worst idea.

“Mm. Mhm. Just a little bit. It's Taco Tuesday." When that gets no response, I feel the beginnings of embarrassment. This is totally the least professional phone call, ever, and getting fired as soon as I'm offered a job sounds like a terrible rollercoaster of emotions. "I’m sorry.”

Something that sounds like a laugh comes through the phone. The hair on the back of my neck stands up and heat attacks my face. That jerk has no business laughing!

“Call me tomorrow at 8:30 sharp. We’ll go over the details of the position.”

“Okay. Um…aha, thanks. I didn't think you were very impressed with me."

People should come with a button that shuts off word vomit.

“Well, you're the only candidate that yelled at me. It was a nice change of pace.”

“Oh…yeah. I sure did do that, huh? Sorry again.”

“8:30 sharp. You got it?”

“Yes sir. 8:30, not a minute after.”

“Good girl.”

What.

And then he hangs up, which leaves me standing on the beach with my mouth slightly agape and a not-insignificant amount of confusion overrunning the joy of getting the coveted call back.

“Who was that?” Emilia, at some point, had wandered closer to me. I put my phone back in my pocket.

“My boss.”

“Boss?”

“Yeah, his name is Yoongi Min? I think he thinks my name is Seventeen.”

Boss?

“I got the job at 3 Point.”

What?!” Suddenly Emilia is shrieking, and then I'm yelling too, and then we were jumping up and down as the reality of the situation sank in. Yeah, it's a whole scene. I don't mention the ‘good girl’ comment, because well…we don't have time to unpack that. At least he didn't call me “champ.”

Celebration was the guise under which I found myself dragged to the bonfire, which was surrounded by a gaggle of people whose names I don't remember. We traded our Lagunitas for company, celebrated my success with total strangers, and managed to make it back to our apartment by 11:30 for a healthy dose of water and painkillers just in case.

Which of course made the prospect of calling Yoongi Min at 8:30am utterly terrifying. Like, drunk was bad enough. I can't imagine that sporting a hangover is a step up from that, so when my alarm goes off at 7:30, I take my time in a steaming hot shower before gulping down hot coffee to take the hoarseness out of my voice. I will be bright! Chipper! A morning person!

I call at 8:30. Right on the dot. I'm nervous, sure, but trying to be mostly excited. I can manage it if I just imagine an end to the job hunt, and that having 3 Point on my resume will open every door for my future, assuming I don't love it so much I stay.

“This is Yoongi.”

“Good morning!” Too chipper? Maybe. “It's me, Seventeen.” Wait. No. No! Why did I say that?! He's already gotten in my head!

The capitalist machine is brutal.

“Right. We're very excited to offer you a full-time position and think that with your qualifications you're a great fit for our team. What do you think?”

He's…absolutely reading off his screen. This sounds like maybe not something he does often, and it's actually pretty funny.

“Thanks for the opportunity, I really appreciate—erm, I'm really excited too. When can I start?”

“Tomorrow.” That's a pretty quick turn-around—thank goodness. That means in less than two weeks, I’ll have something to add to my bank account instead of just removing. “As you know, we offer full benefits, three weeks of paid time off, and 401k matching. The starting salary is $67,500.”

Holy shit. I'm sure Yoongi can hear me dying through the phone, and I struggle to come up with something to say. I expected a decent salary, living in the Bay and all, but basically $70,000? Whoa. I don’t know if I want to cry or scream or both.

“That sounds great! I'll see you tomorrow, at…?”

“You'll be working from 8am to 5pm with an hour for lunch. HR will handle your onboarding. Do you have any questions?”

“Mm…” I don't, not on the spot like this. I read the job description pretty thoroughly, many times. It's all organizing itineraries and scheduling meetings and organizing company events… it doesn't sound that hard. But, I don't know how to do the job exactly. “Can you tell me about training?”

“Sure,” comes that deep voice, and I dare to believe Yoongi is pleased that I'm asking questions. He seemed to be the grumpy sort, so I could be annoying him instead. “You'll be working with Hoseok, our office administrator, until you're more familiar with the role. He's been keeping things running smoothly in the interim.”

Okay. Okay, good. New best friend, I hope. I mean, I've seen The Devil Wears Prada, so I hope I don't wind up being Andrea IRL. It seems like a definite possibility.

“Okay, thank you. I'm sure I'll have more,” I laugh, feeling giddy. A job! A real, actual job with benefits and insurance! I can't wait to tell Emilia. To hell with Taco Tuesday, we're going to go to Morton's.

“If that's all, then I'll see you tomorrow.”

“Yes, I'll see you then! Have a nice day!”

“Hn.”

Click.

So not only does he not know how to call someone by their name, he doesn't know proper greetings or how to say goodbye before hanging up. This is definitely going to be a challenge, at least in trying to figure out how to be the person that Yoongi expects me to be. Executive assistants are all about that, right?

Then again, he did decide to hire me because I yelled at him.

Chapter Text

Picture this.

It's Wednesday morning, and you're sitting on the sidewalk covered in coffee you're pretty sure burned off your top layer of skin. You have less than ten minutes to run back to the office, because your boss is waiting for you and has a conference call with some important person looming, and you're pretty sure you're going to be fired even though it's only your first day.

The devil seems to also wear Supreme, and I am absolutely Andrea.

Let's rewind.

I started my day bright and early, that is to say, Emilia woke me up because my alarm didn't go off, and I took the world's fastest shower before leaping into my finest business casual outfit and running for dear life for the bus. 3 Point HQ is in the Financial District and my apartment is in Outer Sunset; I did not have time to spare, and being late on my first day? Yikes. I could hear Yoongi's voice echoing in my head: sharp.

Nothing about this morning was sharp. I arrived two minutes late with my hair a wind-blown mess and probably a thousand blisters on my feet from running in shoes that definitely looked the part but weren't in any way comfortable. I also forgot lunch.

But I made it. That had to count for something.

“Good morning!!!” Yes, three exclamation points. Hoseok beams his heart-shaped smile from behind the front desk, standing in a mountain of yellow Amerzon mailers and shaking his butt to the beat of the latest single from Jungkook, 3 Point's most recent overnight sensation.

“Hi, Hoseok!” His hair isn't rosy-gold anymore, but a deep, dark red, and he's wearing a big sweater with what looks like an attempt at a tiger splashed across the front. “Sorry I'm late.”

“You're not late,” someone else comes in behind me, bright blue mullet shining under the fluorescent lights. “You got here exactly when you meant to.”

He floats away dreamily. I didn't even hear him come in, and Hoseok is giggling as he comes to take my arm and lead me on my office tour.

“That was Taehyung, he's our social media manager.”

“Oh? That explains a lot.”

“Do you follow our Twitter?”

“Um, of course. I didn't apply without doing my homework. It's uhh, very avant-garde.”

“That's our Taehyung. If he seems off in the clouds, it's because he is.”

Thankfully when Hoseok leads me to the conference room where I would be meeting with HR, they aren't there yet. More thankfully, Namjoon isn't there because Hoseok typically gives very long tours, and has no idea I was late! A net win for sure.

And I did pass Jin, who smiled a goofy smile at me on his way to wherever he was going with a thumbs up.

An hour later, with my head swimming over 401k contributions and benefit plans and tax exemptions, Hoseok picks me up to begin my training. Once I’m logged into the system, I discover a mountain of emails waiting for me from names I don’t know. All of them seem urgent. Shit, where do I even start?! Hoseok starts walking me through the high-level information—while I take very, very, very detailed notes—but these emails are complete nonsense, from the jargon to the acronyms. It’s like trying to read Chinese.

I bet Yoongi can’t even understand all of these. 

The emails are just the tip of the iceberg. As it turns out, being a personal assistant to the CEO of a wildly successful record company isn't easy. Not by a longshot. Yoongi likes pertinent information to be delivered to him in thirty-minute intervals unless he's concentrating, and then I'm not to interrupt him, and it's up to me to figure out which is which. He also likes to have a steady supply of Americanos, refuses to take calls, requires that I memorize all of his contacts and what their relationship is so that I can pick up where the last conversation left off without batting an eye, and! And, I have to handle his emails, except the important ones, which I filter to his inbox within fifteen minutes.

Plus any other tasks that might come up, like organizing the annual Christmas party, the schedules of all his meetings, travel, and anticipating his needs. How in the heck?!

“I give you three months,” Hoseok says, not unkindly, when he finally straightens up to head back to the front desk. I have the feeling he's both commiserating with me and glad to be rid of my job. “No one lasts longer than that.”

Of everything, though, the worst part? The worst part is the terrible picture attached to the badge that lets me in and out of the office. I look like a drunk college student. I don't belong in this office full of beautiful people. They're all so shiny.

After a panicked text to Emilia, it's time to begin work. Which goes slowly. I'm reading emails with increasingly lacking levels of comprehension when a calendar notification goes off. It's been two hours since Yoongi's last Americano and I need to run out to get more.

Sigh. Well, no one said it would be glamorous.

And that's how I wound up here: near tears on the sidewalk with a skinned knee, ripped tights, and a burning lap. Remembering, belatedly, that Yoongi prefers his coffees iced.

I haven't even seen Yoongi today. How am I supposed to anticipate the needs of a phantom that only exists behind a closed door?

My day perks up a little. When I re-enter the coffee shop, the line has dwindled down to non-existent and I grab an iced Americano to jog back to the office with a minute to spare. The meeting is in the conference room I interviewed in, and as I'm approaching, Yoongi is coming down the hallway looking just as grumpy as I remember.

“Your coffee,” I say as brightly as I can. Yoongi stares at me, eyes sweeping down and fixing on my knee.

“Christ, Seventeen. It's just coffee.”

He takes it from my hand and disappears behind the door.

Success? Maybe?? I do feel a little like I just got scolded, but I'd rather be scolded for falling on my face than not delivering the goods in time. Thinking I'm going from a net win to breaking even, I head back to my desk to stare at my screen and hopefully make sense of what I'm reading.

Jon McMahon needs an itinerary for the MOBA gala. I send that to Yoongi. Lucie Mercier wants to bounce ideas off Yoongi for the launch of the SFMOP. He's busy, right? Filed for later. Campaign meeting for Ashton Wells' tour. Definitely important, onto Yoongi's inbox. On and on it goes. I check my calendar, which is basically Yoongi's calendar, and send a Maybe RSVP for happy hour after work. Ah, the first email to actually be for me. Neat!

I should probably get to know my coworkers, but it's not even lunchtime and I'm exhausted.

 

Emilia 👠💕

u shouldn't be on ur phone the first day at ur new job!

 

Augh. Typical. She's right, though, and I put my phone in my bag hoping no one saw me using it.

“Hey, friend!”

I look up at the friendly greeting, then smile. “Hey, Hoseok. How's it going?”

“Not good, not good at all.” He frowns dramatically. Oh, geez. “Maybe? I can't have a maybe, you have to come out later. You're the main event!”

“Oh, well. Um.”

“Nervous?”

“Maybe a little? I just. You know, first day and all.”

“If he gives you any trouble you just have to put him in his place.” Yeah, not doing that. “Drinks are on us, so you better change your mind. We'll get you home in one piece.”

It's the dazzling smile that gets me, probably. Something about Hoseok just seems so bubbly, and I find myself smiling back. “Okay, okay. But I don't really know anyone but you."

“Let me be your wing-man,” he offers, and laughs while he pats my shoulder. I like this guy. “I'll introduce you to everyone. But hey, just so you know, most people call me Hobi.”

“Okay, Hobi it is.” Hoseok seems to appreciate that, bouncing a little where he's standing. “I'll see you later?”

“Yeah, for sure! Later, then! And don't forget!” He mimes punching and walks off with a bright laugh, radiating sunshine and probably rainbows. This contrasts very well with the face Yoongi is making as he walks to his office, a living “:[“ face.

Should I say something? I try to smile but he's not even looking in my direction, so I just turn back to my laptop to try to look productive instead of like the kind of person who slacks off and chats.

“Cancel my 1:30,” Yoongi says as he walks by, and his office door is closed before I even have a chance to reply. He pokes his head out a second later. “And my 2:30. I need to concentrate.”

Okay. Cool. I feel a twinge of irritation. I don't mind that he's so abrupt, but it would probably be better to get to know this person I'm working for.

There's time for that, though. It's only my first day, and Rome wasn't built in just one of those or whatever.

The second Americano goes much more smoothly; I make it back to the office with time to spare, again running straight into Jin who's hustling towards a conference room.

“Hey, hey! I was just looking for you.”

I hold up the coffee with a sheepish smile. “Errands.”

"Do you have a second? I have a very important question for you.”

Uhhhh. On my first day?! Give me a break, please lord.

"What's up?”

"What do you call someone with no body and no nose?” I stare. “Nobody knows!”

In spite of myself, I laugh, and he follows suit very quickly with an emphatic “ah-hyuh hyuh hyuh! ” It's cute, really. And a relief to not be put on the spot so soon after starting. Jin walks away, still laughing, and a new face pokes out from the office to my left looking curious. He has a pout to rival Emilia's, with pink cotton-candy hair and a smile that crinkles his eyes.

“Oh, you're the new girl. Hi, I'm Jimin.” We shake hands, and I can’t help but internally melt over how tiny and soft his hand is. “How are you liking it so far?”

“Oh, uh, hi! It's...good. I'm getting a lot of exercise.”

“Hehe, he'll run you around, huh? Welcome to the team. I'm the lead choreographer here, I'm just waiting for Jungkook. Have you seen him?”

Jungkook? Coming into HQ, today? Okay, whew, best not to fangirl right now, not in front of this new and unreasonably adorable person. “Erm, no, I haven't. I'll send him your way if I run into him.” I hold up the Americano again with a sheepish smile. “But I gotta go.”

This company really is full of models. I scurry off to Yoongi's office, halfway to knocking, when I realize I have a conundrum. Yoongi canceled his afternoon meetings for peace and quiet. Yoongi also wants coffee. To give Yoongi coffee, I must interrupt his peace and quiet. Dun dun dun.

I consider grabbing Hoseok to deliver the coffee—he’s totally comfortable with Yoongi and his aversion to people. Hoseok would probably laugh and be happy to disturb him, that's the kind of guy he seems like. We'd joke about it and I'd have more of a chance to get comfortable with people, and it would be a win-win.

But.

That's not my job. My job is to do this myself, and with that in mind, I knock on the polished wood door and wait. A very faint “come in” is probably a good sign, so I open the door while drawing myself up to seem a lot more confident than I feel.

“Your coffee, sir.”

“I hope you didn't spill blood for it, this time.”

“No, sir. Just coffee, no blood.”

Okay. This is going fine. I place the cup on Yoongi's desk, and even receive a thank you. Miranda Priestly never said thank you, and I'm just about to count my blessings when Yoongi fixes me with an intense stare.

“My inbox is a mess. I'm expecting an email from Lucie, has she reached out yet?”

Oh. Oh, no. “Lucie? Yes, she uh, she said she wanted to bounce ideas off you, but it didn't sound important—”

“Lucie is one of the most important contacts I have. All messages from her are to be forwarded to me immediately.”

“Oh.” When did my voice get so tiny?

“You do at least have the itinerary for the MOBA Gala, don't you?”

No? No! Where the hell am I supposed to find that? Was I supposed to make it myself?! Shit.

Suddenly, Yoongi picks up his phone and punches a few buttons. I stand there, unsure whether I should leave or apologize, my face flushed. Messing it all up on the first day, neat!

“Hoseok, please come remove Seventeen from my office and teach her how to do her job.”

Ouch. Messing it up and getting Hoseok in trouble. I flinch at the sound of the phone dropping back into the cradle.

“You know, I can just—it's fine, I can remove myself,” I start, taking a few steps backward to begin my hasty retreat. “S-sorry about that, I won't do it again, I just—”

“Don't move.”

Okay. The hazing continues, that's fine. Totally normal, and not humiliating at all. I halt, mid-step, and wobble. I look like I'm about to sink into a lunge.

“I'm sorry, sir. Can I go?”

My eyes burn. Yoongi is looking at me like a lion about to pounce on its prey, and I'm about to cry on my first day, again, with the added bonus of probably ruining Hoseok's day too.

“No.”

And that's that. I stay in that ridiculous position, biting the inside of my lip, my face growing steadily warmer as I pray to whatever being is above for the moment to end. What kind of bizarre demand is this?! Yoongi just stares at me, coffee untouched, a nonchalant “ask me if I give a fuck” expression on his face.

“You should take those tights off.”

What?!

I'm not in The Devil Wears Prada. I'm in The Secretary.

“R-right now, sir?”

"What?" Yoongi's eyes widen to saucers and his lips move silently for a moment before he chokes. “No! No! In the bathroom!”

Great, now we're both mortified.

Christ on a cheese cracker. What on earth came out of my mouth? My tights are ripped! Bloody! That's all! He's not asking me to strip this is a legitimate job have I lost my mind?!

But that was a totally bizarre way to broach the topic, right? It just came out wrong, right?

I look at Yoongi, stuttering an apology. He's beet red and avoiding my gaze, and I'm not totally sure he's hearing me and then the door flies open.

“Pah pah! Hobi to the rescue! Come on, friend, we've got work to do!”

With that, Hoseok marches me out as if this is a totally normal scenario, saying ‘pah pah pah’ all the way.

Chapter Text

Hoseok, the absolute angel, goes through my inbox with me. Line by line, I learn the names and the projects, writing everything down in my notebook for fast retrieval later. I scope out Yoongi’s calendar for the next month, giving myself reminders to book plane tickets, rental cars, hotels, and make notes of the nearest shopping venues and restaurants he likes so he can find everything he needs without having to blink.

All in all, my first day at work is still a net positive, mortifying assumptions about tights and a scraped knee aside. I make a mental note to stop by H&N for a more stylish wardrobe. Everyone in the office seems to be wearing Valenciaga and Supreme and other such luxuries I don’t have the budget for, but I can definitely up my game. My A-line skirt and basic blouse are definitely an eyesore next to Taehyung "Only Wears Gucci" Kim.

Maybe a haircut is in order, too. My simple style was fine for university, but I’m a corporate woman now. A corporate woman who happens to have a fashion genius for a roommate. I send a text—carefully worded—requesting basic fashion advice. Nothing crazy. No huge makeovers.

Remedy is a bar down a little alleyway with no marked door and a single person in a vest and hat standing outside. I’ve ventured out with Hoseok, Jin, Jimin, and Namjoon, plus a handful of others whose names I’m struggling to remember. There’s Jorge, who works in Legal and looks like he just walked out of a motorcycle ad. Then there’s Nina, a fairy of a girl from the marketing team that works under Taehyung and seems to float around with his same brand of whimsical. Karen, from accounting...and everyone else.

“So, is it true you yelled at Yoongi during your interview?” Nina asks, taking my arm and steering me in the door.

“It’s true,” Namjoon says, snickering. Hey. I didn’t yell. I just…raised my voice a little. I don’t want this to be my legacy.

“He loved that,” Jimin cuts in, taking hold of my other arm. Whoa. I suddenly feel very cool, which isn’t something I feel often. Jimin is so cute, with squishy cheeks and that mesmerizing pout. “Wouldn’t stop complaining about it for days.”

Is that a good thing?

This is the point where I realize I’ve made it to adulthood. Checking out a cool place with my coworkers, not worrying about the cost of drinks, forcibly steered to the bar with Hoseok buying me the classic Bay area cocktail: a Cable Car.

There are only a few people milling around that aren’t part of our group, and they look as starstruck as I feel surrounded by these shiny people. My heart leaps into my throat when my eyes land on Jungkook, who’s standing nonchalantly in a corner sipping a violently pink drink.

“Kookie!” Jimin yells, dashing off—with me still attached—to greet him. Uhh! Am I ready for this? Meeting Jungkook, casually, like it’s no big deal? I stumble along with Jimin, trying to calm myself before I embarrass myself, but it’s hard. Up close, Jungkook is even more gorgeous than on screen, as if that should even be possible. “Kookie, meet Seventeen. She’s Yoongi’s new assistant.”

Jungkook smiles softly, not quite meeting my eyes when he says “hi.” A lock of hair falls into his face from a messy bun tied high on his head. Oh no, he’s shy. Oh no,  he’s adorable.

“Hey, no hogging the new girl!” Hoseok is suddenly on my other side (where did Nina go?), tugging me out of Jimin’s grasp to reintroduce me to the group. Main event, indeed.

Across the bar, Jin is talking animatedly with Namjoon, and his “hyah hyah ah-hyah!” laugh echoes around the space, causing me to giggle as well. This is the opportunity of a lifetime, for more reasons than just 3 Point’s prestige. I can’t blow it; the connections, the fun. I make up my mind right then and there, I have to make it past three months. Over my dead body will I let Yoongi just discard me like all his previous assistants.

“So, new girl! Hobi says you play cello. Can I hear it?”

When did Taehyung get here? Already with a drink and looking at me so intently I flush.

“Umm, well, I don’t have it on me.”

“You don’t?” Taehyung looks around, like he’s actually surprised I’m not hiding it behind my back, brows disappearing under his curtains of blue fringe. “Oh noooo.”

“Tell you what,” I say, again with the giggles. “I’ll have a concert just for you, if Yoongi says it’s okay.”

“You would do that? For me?”

“Of course! I’ll even waive the cover charge, just for you.”

Hoseok is laughing, but Taehyung looks like I just promised him the moon. He takes ahold of my hand and holds it up in between our chests. “So we must defeat Yoongi.”

“Tae is on a mission now,” Hoseok grins at me; Taehyung wanders away without another word, to the corner where Jimin and Jungkook are in the middle of what looks like a very serious conversation.

“I hope he doesn’t seriously try to defeat Yoongi. He’s scary.”

“Yoongi, scary? He’s like a grumpy little kitten.” Hoseok mimes a cat, at least I think—he sticks his nose up in the air and flounces a few paces away with a “hmph!”  Not the most cat-like, but I get what he’s going for. “Once you get to know him, he’s the sweetest.”

“Right.” 

Hoseok must sense my disbelief, because he pats my arm in a friendly way.

“Really. Once you get past all the thorns, there’s a beautiful rose.” He snickers at his own comment, and I nod along trying to imagine it. Every rose has its thorns, huh? I guess. “So enough about that guy. I had all sorts of interview questions lined up and I didn’t get to ask a single one! A tragedy.”

“I’m a woman of mystery,” I say smoothly, patting my hand on top of Hoseok’s. He looks delighted.

“International, or local?”

“If I told you, I’d have to kill you.”

“Oooh! A femme fatale. And you say Lil Meow Meow is scary!”

“Lil—Lil Meow Meow?”

“Oh, oops, did I say that? Eheheh—”

“Are you talking about Yoongi—”

“What kind of music do you like!” Hoseok says at the same time. 

We stare at each other. I want to press it—how the HECK did Yoongi get a nickname like Lil Meow Meow?! —but Hoseok looks properly alarmed by his own slip. I decide to drop it.

“A little bit of everything, you know.”

“Except country and rap?”

“No, hip hop and country are both respectable genres to listen to. You think I’m that cliche?”

“I had to check, friend. But you don’t want to debate semantics, everyone in the company will have a different opinion and we don’t need that kind of implosion right now.”

And that’s how I got into exactly that debate, involving nearly everyone that came out for drinks, which lasted close to an hour before people were too angry to continue. I use the term angry very loosely; it’s a friendly kind of anger. Angry camaraderie. The company must be pretty close that they can argue fiercely and then get shots together a second later.

The evening becomes a little bit of a blur. There’s a lot of drinking, and a lot of shouting and laughing. I feel like I’m being passed around like a new toy or something, but it’s not a bad feeling, just overwhelming. By the time the bar starts clearing out, I’m actually drinking water and sobering up, thank god. I’m still winning on the “not hungover for work or work related tasks” thing, even if I’m not winning at “don’t talk to my boss drunk.”

It’s a little disappointing that Yoongi doesn’t join us, but I tell myself he must be busy. The bar clears out in a trickle, then a downpour, until only a few of us are left.

I’m not sure if he’s passed out or wallowing in some kind of sorrow, but Jin is one of the last ones standing...metaphorically...so I sit next to him with my glass of water. “Hey, Jin. Why is there no gambling in Africa?”

A very muffled, “because there’s too many cheetahs” comes from the pile of Jin on the bar. Damn, he knew my joke.

Jin raises his head, looking miserable. Uhh. Is he an emotional drunk? What on earth happened? He was talking to Namjoon all night, having a blast, and now he looks like he’s on the verge of an emotional breakdown. I’m not sure if I should run away or try to cheer him up. Cheering him up is the right thing to do, I think. But. How?

“Are you okay?” I ask.

“You know something? You do things for people, because you’re a nice guy, and you want them to realize that you’re a nice guy that does nice things for them. I’ve been bringing him coffee every morning for the past six months, waiting for him to notice!”

"Er. He hasn’t noticed you giving him coffee?”

“No! You know what he said to me today? Do you know what he said!?” Jin’s voice is rising and he’s becoming more animated as he talks.

“No?” I also don’t know who he is, but I don’t bother to interject that.

“He said, ’I don’t like coffee much.’ Well if that’s the case, why didn’t he tell me six months ago? What has he been doing, just pouring them out when I’m not looking?” Jin is raging with his whole body—shaking his head so his hair flies everywhere. “I take such good care of him and this is how he repays me? How could he do this to me!”

I’m not sure what to say. Maybe I haven’t been around long, but if I were the guessing type, I’d say he’s currently raging about Namjoon. At least with how glued-to-the-hip they were all night.

“That’s rough, buddy.” Look, I really don’t know what else to say. I’m pretty sure Jin is too drunk to remember telling me this, at least, so it probably won’t be awkward tomorrow. I hope. “Do you want me to call you a cab?”

Everyone else has disappeared by now; Jimin and Jungkook were the last two left, but they seem to have made their escape as well.

“A cab? No, I live around the corner. Do you need a cab? Pretty girls shouldn’t be walking home alone at night.” And he winks.

“Then I’ll definitely be okay.” Oof, that sounded funnier in my head. Jin scoffs and waves down the bartender for another drink, and I make my exit, embarrassed. Self deprecation isn’t cute! I want to turn around and assure Jin that I’m just joking, haha, I’m not actually the self-pitying type, but that would just make me seem weird and crazy. Plus, he’s dealing with enough. Unrequited love for (probably) Namjoon. That really is rough.

By the time I drag myself in the door, the wind has picked up and my painful walk from the bus to my apartment is freezing. The Cable Cars aren’t sitting well with my stomach, which has been empty of food since lunch. I’m Exhausted with a capital E. I stumble in and have barely kicked off my shoes when Emilia speaks.

“If you want to go for trendy, I think a shag cut would look good on you.”

Whoa, Emilia is prepared.

“Like Farrah Fawcett? Count me out."

“Excuse me, she’s an icon. But no, no feathering. Do I look like I’m stuck in the 70s? I mean a modern shag. Like Dakota Johnson.”

That seems like a big change considering I asked for no huge makeovers. Also, who the hell is Dakota Johnson?

“I’m not dyeing it.”

“No, don’t. Your natural color is better than anything you’ll get in a salon on your budget. Balayage is expensive if you’re getting it done right, and you’d better or you’ll be Kelly Klarkson in 2002.”

“Right.” I have no idea what that means. I guess Kelly Klarkson had bad hair in 2002.

“But for god’s sake, you work for a record label. Business casual is for accountants and lawyers.”

“Okay?” This is already overwhelming. There’s so much I don’t know, apparently! I have to have a total makeover! I don’t get a full paycheck until the end of the month! “So, what does that mean?”

“Casual is fine. You can get away with just dressing up what you have.”

Oh, thank god. I sigh with relief even though it could not be more obvious that Emilia disapproves of my simple fashion. It’s also obvious that she’s in the middle of a very thought-intensive idea, that both pains and delights her. “I can ask Basil if there’s anything I’m allowed to abscond with in the spare closet.”

“Like a feather boa?” It’s worth it to act like a ditz just to see Emilia struggle not to roll her eyes at me.

“Like the $5000 Alejandro McQueen coat that’s been collecting dust. Unless you want a feather boa.”

Five thousand—? Holy shit! I drop down on the couch next to Emilia, trying to imagine what on earth would make any piece of clothing worth five thousand dollars. 

“You’re allowed to do that?” I mean, she could sell it and we could both get entirely new wardrobes! But I don’t dare say that. Emilia would be horrified. She name dropped the coat maker, which means it’s a big deal.

“The spare closet falls under Basil’s jurisdiction. He’ll probably ask for a favor in return.” Emilia eyes me meaningfully. “He’s a huge fan of Jungkook.”

Him and the rest of the world. I can’t sign away the pop star’s precious time, but. Maybe I can cozy up to Taehyung with promises of free Gucci. Get my foot in the Jungkook door. They all seem to be best of friends.

“Can you go shopping with me on Friday? Just for a few things, in case Basil doesn’t go for it. I’ll buy you food.”

“I would have without bribery but if you insist.”

Damn. Oh well, it’s the polite thing to do, and probably the “good friend” thing to do. Emilia’s time is expensive, so taking it for free seems kinda sketch. Especially after being offered the holy grail of coats.

“So, how was it?”

“I’m exhausted. I don’t want to think for the rest of my life.”

“But you do like it, don’t you?”

Emilia studies me with much scrutiny. Do I like it? Maybe? How am I supposed to know that already? But I think of the day, and the kind people I met, and then I think of Yoongi and his blunt comments and blushing face. Which fills me again with mortification.

“So far, yeah. Everyone is so nice. They took me out for drinks and I met Jungkook and the guy training me—his name is Hobi—is like a big ball of sunshine.”

“Just wait until your boss is taking you away to galas and the Grammy’s! A night in New York followed by a weekend in Paris before you’re running around in LA trying to find vegan leather oxfords for Mr. Fancy.”

“What?” Paris? New York? “Will I get to do those things?”

“Darling, you’ll be doing it all. And in-between, you’ll be doing his dishes and taking out his trash.”

So it’s partially glamorous. I wrinkle my nose thinking about taking out Yoongi Min’s trash, but if it means I get to leave the continent to attend award shows and all the things Emilia is suggesting, it will be totally worth it. Hoseok’s warning is still fresh in my head, though. I wish he hadn’t told me, but it’s nice to have expectations to want to defy.

“What’s your boss like?”

“Umm.” We didn’t interact that much. He’s uh, taller than me? Brusque. Definitely no-nonsense. Busy. “He likes Americanos.”

“Hmmmm.”

“Hey, do we have any cup noodles left? I have about as much energy as it will take to put water in them.”

If that isn’t a transparent attempt to change the subject, I don’t know what is. Emilia peers at me for several more seconds, then gets up.

“Oh, you just stay here. I’ll make something.”

Normally I would protest, but my feet hurt and I’m slipping into the kind of tired that reaches down into your bones. Plus, Emilia will probably make me something healthier than ramen, which is good no matter how much spicy cheese noodles sound like a godsend right now.

I sit down to a meal of grilled chicken and goat cheese over a bed of greens, with little cranberries and walnuts sprinkled throughout. I’m mostly sober, and definitely tired, but I'm sure I'll get used to it. Just a few weeks, and this will feel totally normal. Food is helping a lot more than I thought it would.

Emilia sits down with me with her own salad. We swap stories about our work days and maybe gossip a little about the too-gorgeous people that I'm working with now. I'm so glad I have the opportunity to live with someone I love so much, and that I can come home to good company with good food. I can relax without worrying about anything. I've heard plenty of drama stories about what it's like to live with roommates, but thank god Emilia is as chill as she is elegant and refined. She's even too cool to ask me about meeting Jungkook, though she's more of a heavy metal, screaming into the microphone sort of girl. Like Aggretsuko, you know? She totally doesn't look it. She's about as prim and proper as anyone I know. If you looked up "lady" in the dictionary, she would be there.

I consider staying up to binge some Horror Story America but decide against it when I see that it's already close to 9:30. I'll probably decline the next happy hour, even if it does look better to mingle with coworkers. A girl has to get her sleep, and my nightly rituals already take a while. Showering and lotioning and teeth-brushing and all that good stuff. It gives me a chance to unwind, and think about Yoongi and Hoseok and all of the other people I'm starting to interact with a lot. Most of them are really, really nice. Some of them are strange. And then there's Yoongi.

Quiet and aloof, looking out from under his platinum blond fringe with an expression like he's annoyed at everything, but still somehow able to blush so darkly and look so embarrassed. The duality of man. I'll have to come up with a way to handle him, and being in his presence. If today was any indication, things are not going to be as cut and dry as the job description led me to believe. That's fine, probably. I'm still following my dreams. Still working at the company I had my heart set on.

It could be way worse. I don't really have any right to complain about my situation.

Besides. Maybe. Just maybe, tomorrow will make a whole lot more sense.

Eventually, I lay down with a face mask on and earbuds in. If I roll over a little, I can drop my face mask in the trash between my desk and my bed, then drop into sleep without ever getting up. Seems like a win-win.

I check my phone one last time, and that's when my night goes to hell. I have three unread messages from an unknown number, and the last message simply says "Seventeen. 😑".

Shit.

Chapter Text

Damn it, damn it. It's going on 10! What the hell is so important that Yoongi is texting me so late?

472-373-8990

Call me.

 

472-373-8990

Are you there.

 

472-373-8990

Seventeen. 😑

Bzzzz.

Again?!

 

472-373-8990

I’m stuck at the office. I need you to feed Holly.

 

Holly. His kid? I blink at my phone, surprised, and blink at it several more times. I don’t even know where he lives. I don’t have a key!

I’m off work!

IT'S NEARLY 10 PM.

 

472-373-8990

Sometime tonight.

 

All of the texts have come in the past five minutes. Yoongi, chill out!!

 

To Yoongi 👿

Address?

 

Yoongi 👿

The top floor of The Avery. You’ll need to get Vexkey so you can get in.

 

Wouldn’t it be hilarious if he lost his phone? Ha, ha.

 

Yoongi 👿

Take a Muber and send your expense slip to Jin.

 

Ooookay. Wow.

I change into a sweater and comfy joggers, then dash—in a complete panic—to my ride for the trip to Yoongi’s penthouse, apparently. Half an hour! It'll be 10:30 before I make it! I’m already fuming, but the idea that Yoongi is so rich he lives in one of the most expensive highrises in the Bay only makes it worse. Like. Babysitters exist for a reason. Hire one of them! Or a live-in nanny, since he’s apparently a multimillionaire.

I digress. It isn’t so bad, not when I enter a lobby that’s all pale pink marble and gold accents. An actual, factual fountain runs down one entire wall. What the hell, this is fancy. I take the elevator to the top floor and let myself in, expecting to be greeted by a hungry, cranky child. Instead, a little brown dog starts emitting barks so ferocious I’m surprised it has the lung capacity to be that loud.

Only one thing to do. I crouch down and hold out my hand, cooing quietly.

Holly is super cute, wow. Once she gets over the intruder in her apartment, she’s all love, and it’s with a vague feeling of triumph at defeating the guard dog that I start looking around.

Cliche is one word for it. It’s a classic white and minimal, floor to ceiling windows penthouse. The kind you see in every movie about rich people, ever. There’s a grand piano with a vase of white flowers sitting atop it under some kind of weird looking chandelier. The most interesting thing in the penthouse is the view of the Bay, but even that is less interesting than finding Holly’s food and going home to sleep. I might have been more charitable if it weren’t so damn late, but maybe not. White minimalism is pretty overdone.

Yoongi probably doesn’t even play the piano.

Feeding Holly is a pretty standard affair, after I find her food in the refrigerator—a pack of ~Mother Nature Select~ raw food—and dump it in a bowl. Holly goes wild, my job is done, I can go home.

I check my phone. No texts. I hesitate, then send a message to Yoongi.

 

To Yoongi 👿

anything else

 

Yoongi 👿

Take him for a walk.

 

Oh, okay. Holly, him. Got it. Have to take Holly out and probably pick up after him when he poops, that's definitely how I wanted to spend the night.

Okay, I’m tired. The penthouse is nice; really nice. I would love to sit on the couch and stare out at the city lights and Bay with a mug of hot tea. Holly is a fine name for a cute, adorable little boy dog. I’m not going to pout over being asked to take this precious baby out for a walk. But god, my feet hurt.

I take Holly downstairs and out into the crisp night, walking around until the smell of coffee grabs me in its sweet embrace. Yay, a Fil’s! If I’m going to be up late taking care of my boss’ dog, I might as well be awake for it. There’s a park four blocks away from the shop; I take Holly for a jog so the little cutie can get some of his pent-up energy out, luckily not at the expense of my liquid strength. It’s not so bad, really. I get to play with a dog and get paid for it, and now that I’m awake I’m feeling far more generous toward minimalist design and Yoongi in general.

What I don’t expect is for Yoongi to be home when I make it back to drop Holly off. I’m sweaty, my hair is in a messy bun, and I’m breathing heavily from the jog, with coffee breath. I think he’s in the kitchen, at least—I can hear the clink of glass and the sound of something pouring. I guess Holly missed his dad, because he tears the leash from my grip and runs with his little paws scrabbling over the wooden floor.

Cute...

Okay, so. I should probably leave now. Yup. Just gonna turn around and exit so Yoongi doesn’t see me in “I’m so tired I might die” mode.

Just kidding! Yoongi calls out for me, and I have to double back to peek in the kitchen with my empty cup and sweat on my brow. Yoongi is sipping a glass of wine, not looking at me, but crouched down to pet Holly.

“What’s up?”

“I have a meeting with Lucie tomorrow at Seasons. 6:30, sharp. I’ll need you to take notes.”

6:30 is after my standard hours. I resist the urge to be annoyed about it; this is my job. It’s fine! I’ll get overtime. At this rate, I’ll be rich soon enough.

And I’ll have to let Emilia know our shopping venture is going to be late.

“Sure.”

“You’ll need to look nicer than you did today.”

“Yes.” Wait. Excuse me? Forget my goodwill, Yoongi is a menace. “How nice?” A restaurant with a dress code? Yikes. I’ll have to snack on a protein bar. No way I can afford that.

“Semi-formal. Put it in my calendar.”

Augh! Okay. I make a note on my phone to do that as soon as I’m home. But like, why couldn’t Yoongi just say ‘wear semi-formal clothes,’ instead of telling me I looked bad today? Does being rich and powerful instantly make people rude? Geez.

“Anything else, sir?”

“Yes.” Yoongi stands, finally looking at me. “Drop the sir. I’m not a fan.”

“Er. Okay, I can do that.”

I don’t know if I feel comfortable calling him Yoongi anywhere but inside my head. It seems like a boundary crossed, somehow. But if he doesn’t like Sir, he probably won’t like Mr. Min, either.

Decisions, decisions.

But that can wait for later. I rock back on my heels, doing my best to look polite and also beam my most important desire straight into Yoongi’s brain: please, just let me go home.

“Would you like a glass?”

“Uh, actually. I’m tired. Holly and I went for a jog, so I’d rather head home.”

“Hmm.”

“...I’m supposed to agree, aren’t I.”

“It’s up to you.”

It is so not up to me, you liar. Defeated, I toss my coffee cup on the counter. Coffee and wine past 11 PM, what am I turning into?

“One glass, then. White, if you have it.”

“As it happens…” Yoongi goes to his wine fridge and grabs a white, pouring me an extremely too generous glass and passing it over. I take a sip. It’s sweet and bubbly, which somehow seems contradictory to the man standing in front of me. The dark, moody red in Yoongi’s glass matches him more closely. “Good?”

“Mm,” I respond without really knowing what to say. I don’t know a lot about wine, but it’s pretty good. Not as cloying as some of the dessert wines I’ve had. “It’s good.”

What am I doing here? Being alone with my boss in a casual setting is weird, and not just because he’s kind of a jerk. I have no idea what to say to him at all. I don’t even know why he offered me a glass of wine, or made me stay here, or any of that. Maybe he’s lonely? Living alone with a dog for your only company seems kind of like it might get lonely, but Yoongi also seems like the kind of person who wouldn’t care about something like that at all.

“You can relax around me, you know,” Yoongi drawls, interrupting my thoughts. He’s leaned against the island that stands in the center of the pristine kitchen, looking at me like he’s trying to appraise me or something. I self-consciously adjust my sweater, all too aware that it’s old enough that it’s basically a crop top now. At least crop tops are fashionable.

“I’m relaxed,” I shrug. I mean, I am about as relaxed as it's possible to be around someone like him. My answer doesn’t seem to appease Yoongi much. He walks from the island to stand beside me, where I do admittedly have one arm wrapped protectively around my waist.

“You’re tense.”

Yoongi touches my arm, like he has to prove it to me. Like I don’t know I’m intimidated. Maybe he enjoys messing with people? I’m not sure. I try to look back at him with as little of an expression as I’m capable of making. It’s hard, though; I’m looking up into the face of someone who is far too beautiful, which I hate admitting just on principle. Of course, it has to be even more pronounced up close like this.

“What am I supposed to say to that?” I break the beginnings of tension the best I can, laughing with a little bit of forced casualness. Alone together, in a big penthouse, sharing wine...is this some kind of setup? This definitely feels like the wrong scenario for the two of us. “Maybe you can let me expense a massage.”

“Maybe. Can you keep secrets?” It looks like I've amused him, at least a little—the corners of his mouth lift, very slightly. I can’t tell if he’s just completely without a personality, or guarded. The question is probably going to drive me crazy in these first few days.

The other thing driving me crazy? Yoongi is still touching me. He’s still really close. I can smell a hint of something dark and heady mixing with the scent of wine on his breath, a kind of musky, leathery scent that must be cologne. I can’t stand this much longer. This feels too much like I’m being teased for me to be able to stand it at all.

“If the secret is good enough to keep,” I shrug. I can feel his fingers loosen around my arm with the movement, and Yoongi finally steps away to resume drinking his wine in his personal space. Thank god.

“You’re funny,” he says with a sound that might have been a scoff or a snort. I’m honestly not sure.

Funny in a good way, I hope. “I’ll be here all night.” Yoongi raises a brow at me, like I just said something really weird. Belatedly, I realize I did say something kinda weird. “You know what I mean! It’s a joke.”

Obviously it was a joke. I take a few gulps of wine, feeling heat spread through my face either from vague embarrassment or from the alcohol finally getting into my system. I blink a few times in slow motion. Yup—it’s the booze. I’m a hell of a lightweight.

“You’re tense too, you know,” I add. I poke his shoulder, since we’ve crossed the touch barrier and all. “You should get that looked at.”

“I injured it in college,” Yoongi replies. His shoulder rotates a little, and I hear the worst sound I’ve ever heard in my life. Like two bones crunching together. “Short of surgery, there's not much I can do about it.”

“Oh. How did you injure it?”

“I had a wreck.” Yoongi takes a sip of wine, draining his glass. It’s refilled in an instant. “It only bothers me when it’s going to rain, so I haven’t bothered to get it fixed.”

It doesn’t seem like a particularly sore topic, but I don’t ask for more details anyway. People can be weird about injuries, and I don’t need to nag my boss on the first day that he should really maybe consider getting that shoulder of his checked out in more detail. Shoulders aren’t supposed to make those kinds of noises. I feel a little queasy, actually.

Being talked to like a person is pretty nice, though. I was beginning to wonder if Yoongi is a real human or just some kind of next-level AI bot, but this small insight does prove he's a real person. That's cool. I'm glad to know that.

“I haven't had any serious injuries, except one time I accidentally stabbed between my fingers with a pair of sewing scissors. They're sharper than they look.”

This time Yoongi really does smile, and it's all gums. Ugh, he has no right to be cute on top of everything else. "That seems like the kind of thing you would do."

H-hey! I'm totally able to pick up on the implication of that, thank you very much.

“Rude. I couldn't play for a week, you know. I lost out to first chair because of it.”

“That is tragic,” Yoongi says, still smiling. The wine has stained his lips a light shade of pink, which stands out in high contrast to his pale skin. Actually, nevermind. I’m not paying attention.

“Mm, yeah. Worst day of my high school life. My parents were so mad.”

Oops. Why did I say that? It's gotta be the wine. Stupid wine. Stupid Yoongi, making me put my guard down.

“Oh? Are they the strict type?” 

“Mmm no, just. You know.” He probably doesn't know. “They're parents.”

“That does explain it,” Yoongi says very seriously. I scowl in his general direction but decide to sip my wine instead of trying to come up with some kind of scathing comeback. I'm starting to get the feeling that I would lose in a battle of wits.

Even if we're talking normally, I still feel weird standing around in this kitchen, drinking this wine and hanging out with Yoongi. Like I'm somewhere I don't quite belong. I search around for a topic, but I'm not sure what to say. Asking questions about why he started 3 Point or how he got into music seem kind of cliche. He probably gets those questions a lot, from a lot of people.

“So how come you didn't come to Remedy?” I settle on. Neutral topics are best, probably. Not weird comments about parents.

“Did you want me to?”

"I was just wondering."

I could have denied it, but that would be more suspect than just saying I’m curious. At least, I think it would be. Also? I don't like the implication there. We are way too different for me to enjoy his company.

“I have other obligations.” What a bland answer. Yoongi ‘I'm too busy to mingle with the commoners’ Min. "I make it out when I can. A lot of us go way back."

“Let me guess...you and Hobi are childhood friends.”

Yoongi's expression of surprise tells me I was right on the mark. Naturally. Hoseok is so comfortable with Yoongi, to the point of casual defiance. They have to be the best of friends.

“We were neighbors growing up. Our parents used to say we were the most unlikely pair.”

Well, they got that right.

I nod, draining my wine glass to cover that I don't really have anything else to contribute to that topic. When did talking to people get this hard? Maybe with my empty glass, I can find an excuse to make my way home.

Except when I put my glass on the counter, Yoongi refills it. Damn it all! This is an abuse of authority! I'm a cranky child and I want to go home.

Okay. Glass number two. I can do this.

“I bet you were the kind of kid that bossed everyone around,” I say over the rim of my glass. I receive a laugh in return.

“No way. Are you projecting? You act like the one that was a little princess.”

Nnnhh—I don't know why that annoys me, but it does. “Excuse me, I'm pretty sure this is called slander.”

“That definitely sounds like something a polite little girl would say,” Yoongi is smirking. He's definitely smirking.

I'm being teased. My face is really warm all of a sudden, and not just from the wine. Little girl?

“In case you haven't noticed, I'm not little.” It's not my best comeback, but I’m tipsy and tired.

“Oh, I've noticed.”

H...huh? That wasn't what I was expecting at all. Either he's calling me fat or. Or he's saying. Uhhh.

“Okay! Then, good.”

That earns another laugh. A minute ago I felt so composed, but now I'm a blushing idiot who stubbornly drinks more wine instead of coming up with my next plan of attack.

What even is this relationship?

“Relax.” Yoongi saunters back toward me, looking at me with an expression I can't name. What is he thinking? I just can’t read him at all.

“I—” I stutter on the verge of denying that I'm anything but relaxed. He can see right through me, so that would be a fruitless endeavor. “Sorry.”

“Do I intimidate you that much?”

What! The! Hell! What kind of turn has this conversation taken!

Of course Yoongi intimidates me, but like hell am I going to let him know it. You will never take me off guard again, Yoongi!

“You? Not at all.”

“You know, when I first saw you, you reminded me of a little mouse,” Yoongi teases, and it should be a sin for such an arrogant expression to be so attractive. Doesn’t he realize what this looks like?

“So what does that make you?” I shoot back. I haven't forgotten how he tried to brush me off so easily. “A cat?”

“If you want me to be.”

Yoongi’s voice has turned to midnight-black velvet, a rumble that makes me draw back even more. He’s standing right in front of me, and wow, doesn’t he make a striking figure when I’m slouched down from being tipsy and he’s towering over me. There’s nervous energy vibrating under the surface of my skin, the change in Yoongi's demeanor so unsettling that I draw in on myself. Just a little.

There's the little mouse.”

His dark eyes are boring into me, and it's easy to read the amusement in his relaxed posture and tilted head.

I don’t know what kind of weird game this is supposed to be. A challenge? Picking a fight to see if I'll take the bait? Or maybe he's just tipsy himself and messing with me.

"You're mistaken. I'm just deciding whether I should throw my drink in your face or not."

"Do it and see what happens." He seems to relish the idea, his eyes lighting up and a weird grin spreading across his face.

"Don't tempt me!"

He's standing so close again. I feel silly in my sweater and joggers, my hair tied back lazily while he's still standing in his designer clothes with his glass of red wine. Something is about to happen, and I'm seriously not sure if I want to know what it is.

And then, Yoongi touches me. His fingers slide under my chin and tilt my head up in a gesture that's far too intimate to be misread. Oh god, he's drunk. Shit. I gotta get out of here before something weird happens. I gotta…

"Thanks for the wine, Yoongi. It’s pretty late, though, and I need to head home."

Yoongi says nothing. His expression is unreadable, but those dark eyes are sparkling with an emotion I can’t name. I remember Jimin speaking earlier—that Yoongi loved my defiance—but I don’t want to read into this too much. I push my wine glass into Yoongi’s hand and walk a little too quickly to the door to make my exit. It only makes me feel like I really am a little mouse that’s been cornered by a cat.

Chapter Text

It’s with desperation that I let Emilia dress me the next morning. I don’t have clothes nice enough to impress Yoongi, and since my life is all about impressing him now, I’ll have to try my damnedest. Which means letting Emilia doll me up with a loose, twisty bun and a black dress with a slit up the thigh and what she calls “batwing sleeves.” Watch out, bad guys of Gotham, I’m comin’ for ya.

The whole ensemble is a little too formal for the office, but I have to admit that borrowing her prized Louboutins makes me feel a special kind of fancy.

I pack the heels in my bag, because I’m not crazy. I’m not going to dare try to run out for Americanos in heels, especially not after the terrible sleep I got last night thanks to someone showing up uninvited in my dreams. Like, I absolutely have no interest in Yoongi beyond being his slave. That’s it. Nothing else. Weird dreams, go away.

Ugh. Why did he have to act so bizarre last night? I get that guys are stupid and flirty when they’re drunk (probably?), but now it’s all weird.

At the front desk, Hoseok is again shaking it—albeit in his chair—to Jungkook’s latest album, dressed in the wildest mix of colors and patterns I’ve ever seen while he types away. He does an exaggerated double take, beaming.

“Looking sharp, friend! Do you have plans?” Gosh, what a charmer. No wonder he’s at the front desk. “A date?”

“Nothing like that, aha. Yoongi has a dinner meeting later tonight with Lucie Mercier.”

“Lucie, Luciiieee—you’re going to need to try harder than that, friend. She used to be a personal stylist, and those flats and bare face just will not do.” 

How does he manage to be inoffensive while critiquing me? Maybe because he says it in a sing-song voice, or maybe because he’s the kind of guy that doesn’t seem to have a mean bone in his body.

“I have Louboutins and lip gloss? It’ll have to do.”

The look I’m given can only be described as bewildered; I might as well have sprouted another head. Lucie Mercier is a very important person—I’m getting that—but I can’t do anything fancy with makeup to save my life.

I try to slip past Hoseok, but he throws out an arm to block my bath. His normally cheery face is suddenly like a stone mask, all sharp angles and narrow lines. For a minute, I worry that I’ve offended him.

“We’re going to CBS.”

I’m pretty sure there won’t be shoes nicer than Louboutins at CBS. That can only mean face paint.

“Now?”

“Now.”

Back toward the elevators we go, though I try to hold my ground and stutter uselessly that it’s not a big deal, we can worry about it later, and I’m going to be late. Hoseok is a man on a mission; it’s like he’s literally turned deaf, only thinking about making me up like some Instagram model. Like someone I’m not.

I swallow down a lump in my throat. 

Being dragged to the nearest drugstore isn’t how I saw my Friday morning going.

But would Yoongi be angry, discovering that I’m planning to meet his most important contact with just lip gloss? That must be what it is, because there’s no way Lucie’s going to care what I look like. I don’t get it. I’m at work, not trying to impress people at a royal ball. Besides, I’m...not big on makeup, really. It makes me feel like I’m standing out, with all the harsh lines and bright colors.

Regardless, Hoseok drags me around the makeup section of the store, holding bottles of foundation and powders next to my arm. He picks items with utmost care, even holding up a few palettes to my face with very intense “hmm”s that would be comical if I didn’t feel so self-conscious. I’m a nameless imposter in this world, and seeing that even on something as basic as this, I apparently don’t measure up, is giving me a nagging feeling that I should take the Three Month Warning more seriously.

After a solid five minutes in front of the Maibella foundation rack, I cave.

“Is my bare face that bad?” Like. I’m not ugly, I know I’m not. Maybe not beautiful like Hoseok or Jin or Yoongi, but honestly!

“It’s a cruel world, friend.” Am I going to cry on my second day, too? I bite my lip, shuffling backward. This is the worst. Hoseok looks over his shoulder, his face crumpling when he sees me holding back tears. “No, no...no, you’re pretty. You’re really pretty!”

“This is humiliating, Hobi.”

Does he not see that? Being ushered out to buy makeup to put on my face like I’m not good enough without it...it’s seriously humiliating.

“You’ve got it all wrong,” Hoseok insists, straightening up with his armful of makeup, concern in his raised brows and little pout. “I’m not pushing you to wear makeup because you’re ugly. It’s because people like Lucie won’t take you seriously if you show up later looking like you didn’t try.”

When he puts it that way, it makes sense as much as it just makes me feel worse. The dress, the shoes...that’s trying, too. I know he’s just trying to help, but it kind of sucks anyway. I hope this will at least save me worse embarrassment later down the line. Wrapping my head around it is so hard—so what if I don’t want to play by these arbitrary rules? I’m already walking around in the kind of dress I would never wear on my own. Why do I have to do so much?

The answer is obvious. Even if I don’t want to admit it, that there is a part I have to play. I have to be helpful and devoted, and at least look like I deserve to stand next to the CEO of 3 Point. In my bargain bin skirt and Lesspay shoes, I definitely don’t look like the kind of girl that belongs in a rock-and-roll glam sort of world.

I know that, but it doesn’t feel any less horrible. If Yoongi Min is the first hurdle of my professional life, taking a face full of makeup isn’t the worst runner up. It still feels curiously like losing, a little bit.

“I don’t want to…” I pout, full on brat-mode, glaring at the traitorous bottles and palettes Hoseok is holding. “This is stupid.”

Makeup isn’t the hill I want to die on, though. Hoseok shrugs with an apologetic smile.

“Do you even know how to do makeup? Because I don’t.”

My spirits lift a little bit when Hoseok doesn’t laugh at me. “I’ve dabbled a little. I have an older sister,” he explains, back to his bright smile. “Trust me, I’ll take good care of you.”

What choice do I have? I can’t embarrass Yoongi. I don’t want to imagine his look of disdain when I show up just looking like plain old me, especially after he told me to ~look nicer~ for the dinner.

Sigh. I let Hoseok pay for the small collection, trying to laugh along with his insistence that he’ll send the receipt to accounting. Well, I certainly hope so. I only did this because I have to. That has to be the last of my sulking, though—sulking isn’t professional. It helps that Hoseok is all smiles when we barricade ourselves in a free conference room, cracking jokes while he wipes my face with a weird cloth and sprays me down with a mystery liquid that makes me sneeze.

No matter what, I decide, I won’t spoil the favor by complaining about whatever he’s doing to me. And so what if I’m losing—I have to make it past three months. I’ll do what it takes, even if it’s totally unreasonable and kind of demeaning.

“So, how did you meet Yoongi?” I ask, to keep the conversation neutral.

“We grew up together. In high school we started a rap group,” Hoseok says in a faraway voice. He’s dabbing my face with a weird looking sponge, very gently. I appreciate that. “Me, him, and Namjoon. We won some competitions but he wanted to produce, and Namjoon wanted to pursue his education, so we broke up after college.”

That’s...surprising. Not only does he run an office, he raps...with Yoongi and Namjoon. I think of the HR manager, with his cutely tousled hair, sweaters, and glasses. You learn something new every day.

“What about you? What made you apply to be an assistant?”

Oh, that question. I wait for Hoseok to finish dusting my face with powder; he immediately starts smearing something on my eyelids after. “I wanted to get my foot in the door, I guess? I’ve been studying for so long I decided I would take anything in the industry.”

“What do you want to do?”

Uhhh. Make music? Write music? Though I can see how it doesn’t align with my current role. “I wanted to play professionally...but.” But I’m not quite good enough for that. The nuance eludes me in playing, though I’ve arranged some damn good pieces. My hands, though...they don’t do what I want them to.

I realize Hoseok is quiet. I didn’t really answer the question. It’s not like I can write smash-hit pop songs or produce the next breakout album, but being close enough is good enough for me. How do I articulate that?

“I don’t know,” I finally answer. I don’t like that answer. I’m not like Emilia, who wants to eventually start her own magazine and be the brains behind the entire operation. Or any of my other classmates, who all had lofty dreams and were on the path to figuring out all of them. “I guess...I just want to be close enough to what I love that I don’t feel like I gave up on it.”

“You love music that much, huh.” Hoseok doesn’t sound condescending or mocking...I appreciate that. It’s hard not having a backup dream. “I understand. I wanted our group to do more, but neither of the other two were invested. That’s why I came here…it’s better than not doing anything at all.”

“So we’re the same—kindred spirits.”

“Eheh, exactly! I was just thinking the same thing! Here, open your eyes, I need to do your mascara.”

It only takes a few more minutes after that to finish the look. I’m almost afraid of what kind of face I’ll find looking back at me. In my petulance, I didn’t pay attention to what Hoseok was buying. For all I know, I look like a clown.

“Tah-daaaahhh!”

I peek at the mirror Hoseok is holding in front of my face, expecting the worst. Dramatic eye makeup and too-bright lips that look beautiful on other girls, but not me. Instead, I’m greeted by a reflection that’s just me, but slightly prettier. Brighter, more polished. I look more closely to try to find the giveaway that I’m caked in makeup, but I’m actually just...me.

“Whoa.”

“It’s the no-makeup look. What do you think? It’s good, right?”

The shadow on my eyes is a faint dusting of peach, my lips stained subtly pink. My eyebrows are groomed and my eyes are lined with subtle bronze, outlined by black lashes. It’s amazing? When I think makeup, I think of people who create beautiful art on their faces with neon and pastel eyelids, ombre lips, tiny gemstones and full-face experiments in color and texture. 

“Thank you, Hobi. This is great...”

“See? I told you, you’re already really pretty! I barely did anything at all.”

Wow. He really meant it? I’m touched. Like, I know I shouldn’t base my opinion of myself on what some guy thinks, but it still feels good. Great, actually.

I’m still grinning when I get to my desk, having hugged Hoseok and scampered off to start attending to my pile of Yoongi-problems that need solving. I feel a little sick imagining him chewing me out for being late, but maybe my look today will make up for it. I mean, I look good. I feel good. No wonder people use makeup all the time! I had no idea.

The morning is mostly uneventful, and I don’t see Yoongi at all. The door to his office is shut, and I don’t even hear anyone moving around back there. Maybe he isn’t in? It makes me more and more nervous the longer it goes on—what if he’s not there, and it throws my whole groove off?

What if I bring him a coffee, and the ice melts and ruins it?

Or what if I don’t, and he gets super mad at me…

Eventually, I settle on getting the coffee anyway, without ice. That I grab from the kitchen in a second cup, just to be on the safe side. I might just be getting the hang of this, already! When I knock on his door I’m half expecting there to be no answer, but I hear a muffled “come in” after a few seconds and push the door open with a strange lurch in my stomach that I can’t begin to understand.

“Your coffee,” I say by way of greeting. It’s been long enough that I sort of forgot how dolled up I am, so when I put the coffee and ice down, I’m surprised to find Yoongi looking at me so intently. “Is something wrong, s—Yoongi?”

Nothing. His eyes raise to meet mine, and I’m expecting at least a little bit of chewing out for not making it to my desk until 8:45.

Okay yeah, some of the backlog was a little late getting his way, but dammit, it was—if Hoseok’s reaction was any indication—an emergency.

“You look nice.”

Oh? Oh—why am I blushing?!

Being told by Mr. Stoic that I look nice is just so unexpected. Did I impress him? I look down at my ensemble, then back at Yoongi and shrug one shoulder. “Yeah. You said I should,” I say coolly. My vow to never let him catch me off guard again isn’t going great, but I’m not going to show it.

Yoongi raises a brow, which disappears under his platinum fringe. I probably should have thanked him, at least, but it’s his fault I had to get dragged to makeup central and feel all inadequate.

“I did say that, yes.”

“Don’t worry about the shoes. I have nicer ones under my desk.”

“I’m not worried,” he replies. 

Such a short answer. This is kind of awkward. I haven’t forgotten his strange behavior from the night before, first of all, and I definitely haven’t forgotten any weird dreams from the night before. I mean, I had until this moment. The worst time of all to remember.

Damn it all. My cheeks are burning. I can’t look at Yoongi now, and so I almost miss him getting up and walking around his desk to stand in front of me. The scent of cologne floats around him, familiar now after our little chat at his penthouse the night before. It suits him; edgy and dark, kind of sensual.

I have no idea what’s going on in my brain, because that scent is getting to me in a weird way.

I take a quick glance at Yoongi’s face. What is he doing? What does he want?

The answer to that comes a second later, when his hands come up and his fingers slip into my hair.

Whoa. Whoa buddy, what are you doing with those hands?! My first instinct is to jump backwards, but I don’t. I don’t want to lose any hair, and. I’m kind of frozen, too. He’s so close I can feel his body heat, and when I glance up, I feel very small.

“S-sir?”

“I said drop that,” Yoongi replies, still utterly stoic. Belatedly, I realize he’s fixing my hair—pulling it a little looser, tugging some strands loose to brush my cheeks. “There. Now you don’t look so stiff.”

With that, Yoongi goes back to his seat and picks up his Americano to pour it into the cup of ice. Like nothing weird just happened. Hey, I’m pretty damn sure it’s not normal to just fix your subordinate’s hair like that, my dude. I can still feel his fingers on my scalp, and I’m so annoyed that I want to knock his Americano out of his hand.

Touch me again and I will boil your teeth, sir.”

Maybe I shouldn’t have said that, but I’m so shocked that I definitely jumped straight into fight mode.

“I’m sorry?”

“You heard me. If you’re trying to scare me off, it’s not working.”

“Why would I be trying to scare you off?” Yoongi laughs, and that definitely makes me consider throwing something.

I won’t, of course. I’m not an idiot, and I’m not actually violent either. It’s hyperbole. But he’s really testing me! I thought this hazing nonsense would stop, at least after the first day.

I don’t have an answer, though, so I just glare.

“What’s going on in that pretty head of yours, hmm?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know!”

“I would, that’s why I asked.”

Argh! His level-headed responses might just drive me mad. I lean over his desk, hands splayed on the wood, and increase my glare to 11.

“I don’t know what kind of game you’re playing, but I won’t lose. You can count on that, sir.”

“I’ll hold you to it, then.”

It occurs to me, as I stare down his amused smile, that it’s funny to him when I get all riled up and I'm just playing right into his hands. That makes me feel even more irritated, but I hold it in with a deep breath to calm my nerves and stand up straight. Nope, I will not play your game, Yoongi.

“Anything else?” I ask, voice dripping politeness.

“You were late.”

Damn. I knew he would bring it up, because there’s no way I can expect to have fate give me a break. I visibly falter. Damn, damn, damn!

“Yes.”

“It’s only your second day. What was so important that you came in late and didn’t tell me?”

Fuck. That—when he puts it like that, I totally deflate. I didn’t even think to tell Yoongi I would be late, like flagrantly ignoring my responsibilities is just totally fine.

Oh god, am I going to be fired for this? I should be fired for this. My second day! How could I have been so stupid?!

“I-I—” I don’t know what to say. I can’t make it sound like it’s Hoseok’s fault, but I also can’t say I just decided to go shopping. “I’m sorry.”

“Not good enough.”

“I was worried about—about the dinner, later. I went to buy a few things.”

“What did you buy?”

No, no, no. Yoongi, please. You’ve probably never shown mercy in your entire life, but now is a great time to start!

“Makeup…”

“Makeup.”

I nod. This is it. This is the end, my friend. “I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.”

“It had better not,” Yoongi says, deadpan, still staring at me like I’m standing trial. It’s uncomfortable, enough to make me shift my weight and almost take a step back. “If it happens again, you’re in big trouble. No-shows are unacceptable.”

In...big trouble? Something about that wording is definitely weird. Like I’m a kid being scolded by my dad. It feels so out of place I simply nod.

Yoongi dismisses me with a wave of his hand.

I whirl around and walk out, managing not to stomp or anything petty like that. Just how does that man get under my skin so easily? With his gummy smile and cool exterior, treating me like I’m fun to poke around at one second and like I’m some naughty little girl the next! The nerve of him!

Damn. I sit back down at my desk and throw myself into my work, trying very hard not to think about the encounters we’ve had to far. They’re weird. Downright bizarre. I don’t know if I like him or he drives me nuts.

Probably the latter. It just feels like I’m being toyed with, for whatever reason, and everything I come up with seems so unlikely. It’s just bad people skills, it has to be.

Belatedly, I realize he called me pretty. How odd. I’m pretty sure it was a jab, though. I’m not in the same world as Yoongi, at all. There’s no way someone like him would notice someone like me, and beyond that, there’s no way that would be within the bounds of our professional relationship.

Whew. Again, I’m exhausted. I really don’t know what to make of this guy, but at least I can mostly make correct decisions about the work I have to do so I can make it to lunch and hide in the lounge or something. I bump into Taehyung there, and we wind up making a little song together while he eats a burger that definitely looks more appealing than my convenience store wrap. Across the lounge, Hoseok is demonstrating some dance moves to Jimin, again with the ‘pah pah pah’s. Huh, I had no idea he can dance, and dance well. At least, if my unprofessional opinion counts for something.

“Do they do that a lot?” I ask Taehyung, who pauses in drumming on the table with his fingers and looks over at the dancing duo.

“Oh, yeah. Yeah, Hobi is a great choreographer. He came up with the routine for Jungkookie’s new video.”

Huh. Why is he at the front desk, then? I watch them with fascination—Hoseok’s fluid movements, and Jimin’s tightly controlled ones.

“I want to be a rapper, too. But I’m better at singing,” Taehyung says out of nowhere. I look back at him, surprised. “We can duet.”

“Yeah, that sounds cool!” I say, far too excited for the offer, but not really caring. “Let’s make a mixtape!”

Taehyung smiles brightly and flips his hair out of his face. “Do you think Yoongi would let us use the studio?”

“I’ll make him let us use the studio.”

Taehyung digs back into his food, spilling ketchup all over his plate, but not seeming to notice. Hoseok is still going on with his “pah pah pah”s while Jimin is following him closely. Namjoon comes down the hall, giving them a wide berth like he’s not sure whether he might get struck by a flailing limb, Jin right behind him.

“Is it alright if we sit here?” Namjoon asks. He’s holding a lunch box shaped like a weird-looking mouse. Maybe a bear? Hard to tell.

“Yeah, for sure. Hi!” I might sound a little too extra-friendly, but Namjoon is the head of HR. Can’t be too careful.

“Ahhh Namjoon,” Taehyung starts up right away. “Have you ever had barramundi?”

“I don’t think so. What is it?”

“Apparently it’s really environmentally friendly...the nurseries have really good CO2 emissions, and it’s not expensive. If you use HeyFreshie they usually send it with Sriracha sauce.”

“That sounds good, but what is it?”

“Oh! It’s fish!” Taehyung smiles brightly.

“Namjoon doesn’t like seafood,” Jin says. I didn’t notice, but he’s really digging into his lunch, which looks like at least a pound of noodle stir-fry.

“Oh? You don’t?”

God, Taehyung looks crestfallen. Namjoon pats his shoulder.

“Sorry, Taehyung. But if you ever want to tell me how to make the ultimate burger, I’m all ears,” Namjoon laughs. I guess Taehyung eats a lot of burgers.  

“I’ll book a meeting room,” Taehyung says. I expect Namjoon to say something stuffy, like we can’t spend work time talking about burger-making, but he just laughs and says he’ll be waiting for it. 

“You made it to day two,” Jin says to me while Taehyung starts waxing poetic about the benefits of grinding your own meat. Damn, he is serious about burgers.

“By the skin of my teeth,” I reply with a grimace. Yoongi’s threats of “big trouble” are still fresh in my mind. “Hoseok took me shopping and I didn’t think to tell Yoongi.”

“What on earth for?”

“Makeup.”

“Is there a special occasion?”

I grimace again. “I’m meeting Lucie Mercier tonight.”

“...Ah.” Jin frowns, then shovels some more noodles into his face. “Good luck.”

Yikes. This is starting to sound worse and worse.

I’m distracted from my certain doom and gloom by Hosoek and Jimin, both sweating and breathing hard, plopping down at the table to eat their lunches as well. The table is lively then, and I listen to conversation more than I contribute. They all seem to be really good friends, and it’s kind of neat to just watch them interact.

Plus, they’re talking about Jungkook, and I have a firm ‘do not fangirl about Jungkook’ rule in place. I don’t want them to think I’m basic or something.

“Kookie is really good at everything,” Jimin says, fondly. “When we show him a new routine he gets it so fast I’m not sure he even needs us.”

“He’s the golden child!” Hoseok agrees with a huge grin. “Picked up the dance for Begin in about a day. No wonder Yoongi is so fond of him.”

“Hey, Hobi,” I finally speak up, deciding I’m over the silence. Plus, I have a question I really need an answer to, now. “How come you’re at the front desk? You’re a really good dancer.”

“Ah,” Hoseok continues to smile, leaning over the table and looking thoughtful. “Jimin asks me that question all the time. I still don’t have a good answer.”

“It’s because he can’t stand not seeing everyone,” Namjoon says. “Hobi is everyone’s best friend.”

“I help Jimin with choreography still—”

“Only when I beg you. Just come to the studio and help me there, you’re making collaborating really difficult!”

“I’ve got an idea!” Taehyung says. Everyone looks at him. “If Jimin finds a replacement for front desk, then Hobi has to go work at the studio.”

“Ahhh, that’s only fair,” Jin nods in agreement, then nudges Namjoon’s shoulder. “What do you think?”

“We can’t forcibly transfer someone to another department,” Namjoon says. Again, Taehyung pouts. “Hobi, do you want to work in the studio?”

Hoseok makes a strange noise, like a growl and a hiss put together. By the expression on his face, I can tell he’s conflicted.

“Someday, someday! But no, not today~” he sings, and saves himself from having to answer any more questions by shoveling rice in his mouth.

“You’re breaking my heart, Hobi,” Jimin says, smiling so cutely I just want to squish his cheeks.

“Well, I have to get going,” I say to the table at large. I hop up to gather my things, and Jin places his hand on my wrist while I’m picking up my glass.

“Make sure you have lunch with us again,” he says, but his face is unusually serious. Okay, now I’m worried. Or what? Is the penalty death?! “And seriously, good luck tonight. Be seen, not heard.”

That sounds ominous. The mood across the table shifts every so slightly to be a little chillier. I assume that everyone knows what Jin’s warning means, and it does not bode well for meeting Lucie Mercier.

Chapter Text

At five on the dot, Yoongi emerges from his office to pick me up from my desk. We’re going to make a detour, he says, and then go to dinner. Also, he’s driving. Just as brusque as ever, but he seems...nervous? Wary? I can’t decide on an emotion exactly, but it’s interesting that even Yoongi would be nervous by this. I thought I would be the nervous one over this whole dinner meeting, but when Yoongi leads me to the parking garage and I feel oddly zen. Lucie has been built up into this fantastical person, but how bad can she really be?

Besides, I’m so confused as to why a San Francisco native would actually, actively drive a car that I kind of forget about her for a minute. I can tell it’s a nice car, and that it’s not a Tesla, which I can definitely appreciate. It’s some kind of fancy ass two-door coupe, with a huge silver grill on the front. I have no idea what kind of car it is, but I’m pretty sure the only reason we’re driving is so that Yoongi can show it off.

“So, anything I should know ahead of time?” I ask once we’re stuck in traffic. Bay area traffic is no joke. 

“Don’t try to correct her. She gets weird about it.”

“That’s ominous.”

“Nothing ominous, I promise you. It’ll just save you some sanity.”

That’s even more ominous, thanks Yoongi. I look around the sleek black interior of the car, then drum my fingers on the door absently. It’s still a little awkward, but it’s not the worst. I just don’t know what to say.

Which Yoongi doesn’t seem to mind, either. We crawl along in silence until Yoongi pulls over to park outside an extremely fancy looking store.

“It’ll just be a second.”

He’s not wrong. Yoongi is in and out, and I assume he must have had something placed on hold for easy retrieval. I wonder what it is? It’s hidden away inside a bright blue bag printed with Biffany and Co. that looks fancy on its own. I think I know that store—it’s the really expensive jewelry place, right? Damn. All that just for a dinner date.

Wait a minute...I peer at the bag, a thousand questions in my head, the first one being what exactly is the nature of this relationship?

Meh, who cares.

We walk to Seasons in silence after Yoongi drops off his car at the valet, and Yoongi seems to know exactly where to find his date—he leads me to the terrace, then nudges me and points ahead.

When I catch sight of this Lucie Mercier, I suddenly understand exactly what Hoseok meant. Beyond just fashionable, she looks immaculately put together in designer clothing and a mature, pretty face done up in colors that perfectly complement her. Her stormy gray hair isn’t even a strand out of place. She’s more Anna Wintour than Anna Wintour, if such a thing is possible. She stands up to greet Yoongi with a glass of wine in her hand, kissing both his cheeks and exclaiming, “My dear boy! I was beginning to think you wouldn’t show!” in a thick French accent.

Fair. Driving was a terrible idea.

Anyway. Wow, did I ever have no idea what I was getting into. I hover behind Yoongi awkwardly, trying not to wobble in my Louboutins and basking in the warmth of the outdoor heaters. I could really go for that million dollar coat right now.

“For you, Lucie,” Yoongi says, passing over the bag. I watch the exchange silently. Can I sit down? Louboutins aren’t comfortable, y’all. But...I’ll wait, Lucie is exclaiming happily about the gift and calling Yoongi darling and it’s so weird I can’t look away.

“And you must be Anette!” Lucie says, suddenly turning her attention on me. Anette? Who the hell is Anette? “Charmant! Lovely to meet you, my dear girl!”

It...doesn’t sound that sincere, but then she’s kissing my cheeks too, and I don’t know whether I should correct her that I’m definitely not Anette or just go with it. I look at Yoongi for guidance, and he shakes his head.

Okay, apparently I’m Anette today.

“Well, Anette, I hope Monsieur Min is treating you well,” Lucie says with a laugh like tinkling bells. “Please, sit. Have some wine. You certainly deserve it if you're putting up with this boy!”

Hell yes I do. I take a glass gratefully and sip. It’s dark and bitter, warming me from the inside out. Yoongi sits next to Lucie, taking a glass of his own and beginning routine small talk that I only half listen to. He’s a totally different person with Lucie around—smiling and laughing—and I watch the exchange rather happily. It’s good to see him this energetic.

A bread basket is plopped on the table. I reach for it, grateful for some sustenance, but Lucie pushes my hand away with a plastered-on smile.

“Oh no, Anette, you mustn’t.” Why the hell not? I sit there, hand hanging in the air awkwardly, while Lucie looks me up and down with a frown of disapproval. “Isn’t it time to start thinking about your figure?”

Pardon me?!

I smile in an attempt to be gracious, but I’m sure my annoyance is showing. One piece of bread won’t make me fat, lady. Even if it did, what the hell is it to her?

But I’m here to be the devoted assistant, so I say nothing. I look at Yoongi instead, hoping he’ll back me up or something. Come on, Yoongi!

Of course he doesn’t. He’s not even paying attention to me, merely browsing his menu like I’m not even here.

Urgh. Bullshit. Total bullshit.

Warm fingers trace my knee, then rest on my thigh. I glance down, surprised—no, shocked. What did I say about touching!!!

Is this some weird way to try to placate me? I have half a mind to shove Yoongi’s hand off my thigh, and remind him in no uncertain terms that we are definitely not touching each other, but I don’t. I don’t want to draw Lucie’s attention to it, and I definitely don’t want to acknowledge it myself. Still, this is weird, right? Under the guise of adjusting my skirt or something, I grab Yoongi’s wandering hand and push it off my leg. Excuse me the fuck, Sir.

Yoongi’s eyes are on me—I can feel it. I raise my own to meet him, defiant. He smirks.

“Tell me, darling, what have you been so busy with these last few months?” Lucie purrs.

That question is definitely for Yoongi. I take my notebook out of my bag and place it on the table, ready to take notes and forget that whole weird interaction. With my pen poised on the paper, I try to calm the beating of my heart—boy, does Yoongi know how to piss me off. Touching me, especially on my thigh, is so inappropriate!

I figure it’s his way of trying to apologize, though, without saying anything that might make our guest angry. Don’t correct her, he said. Well, okay. I can deal with it, I guess! Maybe he's so insulated in his rich-boy bubble he doesn't realize that he’s done anything weird or totally inappropriate.

I’m definitely going to have words with him about it, though. Later.

The waiter comes back to take our orders, and light the lantern sitting in the middle of the table. It’s starting to get dark, so I appreciate it; I need to take notes, after all.

“The girl here will have a salad,” Lucie informs him. Girl? Excuse! Me! “Light on the dressing.” And she winks. I have half a mind to ask the waiter for a tub of ranch, but I merely grimace at my notebook and say nothing. Seen, not heard, just like Jin said. 

Hopefully the salad is free. If it isn’t, I might have to put my foot down.

Actually, probably not. I can’t put my foot down here.

Damn it all.

“I’ll have the lamb confit,” Yoongi says. He places his menu down on the table and reaches for his wine. It strikes me suddenly how cool he looks; his shirt is unbuttoned at the top, his hair mussed perfectly. He's relaxed in his chair and drinking wine with an aloof expression. I hate even acknowledging it, but he really does look good. Like a celebrity or something.

Mais non!” Lucie exclaims, and I wonder what she could possibly have to complain about with Yoongi’s choice. Even he looks at her. “He will also be having the os à moelle and your finest whiskey, neat. As for me, another bottle of wine will do.”

What, so Yoongi doesn’t have to watch his figure? Thank you, sexist Anna Wintour.

I wonder if Lucie knows Yoongi well enough to order for him, or if she’s just arbitrarily pushing food and drink on him like she did me based on some potentially sexist nonsense. Hnngh. It makes me grumpy; Yoongi can decide what he wants.

I can decide what I want.

I sip my wine in silence as Lucie goes on and on in uncomforably lurid detail about the vacation she just took in Bora Bora with some guy named Victor. I can glean that she’s talking about a much younger guy, and I try to determine if her fluttering eyelashes and girlish giggles mean anything or if that’s just how she is. It irks me a little, but I don’t really know why. Maybe it’s because the thought of her just chasing after Yoongi like a trophy is annoying. It’s not like she seems to hold Victor in any sort of high regard, unless she’s talking about how gorgeous he is.

On one hand, it’s kind of gross? Like, no need to objectify this poor dude. On the other hand, I suppose there’s nothing wrong with a hot older lady going after some man candy. Get it, girl. Er, madame.

Just not with Yoongi.

(Wait, why do I even care? Oh, because Lucie is actually really unlikable.)

I hope my bad mood isn’t noticeable. I’ve long since tuned out Lucie’s rambling about her life in the last six months. It’s a relief when the food arrives at the table, because that means Lucie will have more wine to drink and will—ideally—talk less. Thanks to her non-stop mouth running, we’re half an hour into dinner and I still don’t know what this is about.

I should have asked Hoseok. I realize that now, when I’m stuck wondering if Lucie is trying to make Yoongi jealous over Victor and have nothing to do to get this on track. It’s not like Yoongi is going to ask me to interject anything. I’m pretty sure he expects me to stay completely silent and just take notes. I don’t know if I’ll last until then, though. This Lucie perso

Luck is on my side, though. As Yoongi digs in, he brings up the mystery SFMOP, or the currently untitled music outreach program he wants to get started in the Bay. That’s when Lucie becomes all business, sipping her wine while talking about promotional campaigns.

Now I get it. Lucie is PR. Of course she’s the most important contact Yoongi has, I think, as she details her ideas and liaisons and connections. I take notes furiously, my salad ignored while I make sure nothing goes unrecorded. It’s quite an idea—bringing music education to low-income schools and the logistics of how to get instruments and teachers en masse to children in need.

Honestly, it makes me see the two of them in a new light. The goal is lofty, for sure, but it’s so pure and sweet. Definitely not something I would have expected to be having dinner about with Mister Apathy and Miss Cougar. I’m especially surprised when Yoongi floats the idea of a non-profit organization. There are already so many things that he handles, and I’d be lying if I said the idea of him spreading himself so thin sat well with me at all.

Well, it’s his decision (why do I caaaaaaare!?!?!). Maybe he’s looking to pass on his label, or maybe he’s got ideas for bringing in other people to manage the foundation. I find myself smiling as the conversation trails off, Lucie hinting very obviously that Yoongi is welcome to ditch me and come to her hotel room for a nightcap. I wonder, in a temporary fit of insanity, if he’s paying her with something other than money, and the mental image of that is not something I needed today.

(Uuggghhhh. Yoongi can do what he wants, and it’s none of my business.)

But Yoongi politely declines, and Lucie huffs dramatically but pays the bill while waving us off. She fixes me with an oddly measuring look—while Yoongi’s back is turned—and clucks her tongue.

“Well, Anette, enjoy it while it lasts.”

Whoa. I guess that confirms it; Lucie wants to bang Yoongi. What the hell, lady. I am definitely not a threat to you!

“I’m sure I will,” I reply politely. There’s nothing else I can do.

“Yoongi, darling, I expect to see you before my trip to New York,” Lucie purrs, rubbing Yoongi’s shoulder and speaking way too close to his ear. That’s annoying enough, but she looks over at me like I’m supposed to be devastated by this very obvious victory or something. Whatever, lady. Enjoy your one-sided fight with me, the unwilling rival who isn’t actually interested. God, who has time for that. There’s no way I will ever look at Yoongi as anything but my boss from hell.

“Of course, Lucie. We’ll do brunch.”

“Lovely, lovely. I do so look forward to it. There will be no need to bring Anette.”

Awkward! So, so awkward. She totters away, obviously tipsy, and Yoongi watches her go with a complicated expression I can’t make heads or tails of. A small smile curls his lips when he looks at me.

“She’s a bit…” A word doesn’t seem to come to him, and he shrugs.

“A bit,” I agree. Now that she’s gone I don’t feel as pressured to keep my cool, and she did kind of snidely comment on my weight and all, but at this point I’m too tired to really tell Yoongi what I think. I just want to hop on VART so I can make it to the Westfield Centre in time to avoid Emilia’s ire. Maybe I can convince her to go to Aunt Annie’s so I can grab a pretzel, after my bread basket dreams were so rudely taken from me. “So...can I go?”

“Is being in my company that bad?” Yoongi drawls, but I can tell he’s just being sarcastic.

“Terrible, sir.”

Yoongi scoffs, measuring me in a glance that feels too much like an x-ray. After a few seconds, he takes his jacket off and puts it around my shoulders. It’s lovely and warm, and such an unexpectedly nice gesture I’m surprised it came from Yoongi at all. I’m going to smell like him, though—all manly and aggressive and whatever. Gross.

“Where are you in a hurry to go, anyway?”

Again with the touching! Yoongi takes my arm—literally, he holds it in his hand to steer me out of the restaurant.

“I’m meeting my friend at Westfield.”

“It can’t wait?”

Why would it wait? I look at him, trying to weigh my options. “Did you have something in mind?”

“There’s a wine bar a few blocks from here.”

Uhhhh why. Hasn’t he had enough booze for one night? If he wanted a drinking buddy, his best opportunity just waltzed away.

“What’s the occasion?”

“Can’t I take my assistant for a glass of wine?”

No? No. Your assistant doesn’t want to have wine, thank you though! “Maybe you can still catch up with Lucie.”

“I don’t want to drink with Lucie.” And boy does he look sour about it. “Come with me.”

“I already pushed back meeting my friend because of dinner,” I insist. “I really should go.”

Silence stretches between us, then Yoongi shrugs.

“I’ll drive you.”

That’s actually slower than taking VART, but I’m not about to look a gift horse in the mouth--especially not after turning down the random wine date. I’d rather sit in a car than be packed onto commuter trains, anyway

“If you don’t mind.”

“It’s on the way.”

Right, Yoongi does live that way. Rich ass.

We walk to the valet parking, and I’m again struck by just how weird it is that Yoongi actually drives his car. Public transit in San Francisco is superior in every way, unless you’re in the outskirts like me. But, I digress.

I’m not buzzed, but my mind is comfortably blank when I sink back into the plush leather seats of Yoongi’s car. Emilia was kind enough to schedule me a haircut at Edo, and then it’s off to shopping for accessories and maybe some more comfortable shoes. The kind that aren’t scuffed on the toes.

I close my eyes. The car is nice and warm, especially with Yoongi’s jacket wrapped around me. The monotony of the start-and-stop in traffic is lulling me into a light doze. Combined with the wine, I don’t have a chance. The week has been exhausting. Not only that, but I feel relaxed around Yoongi now; less like I’m walking on eggshells, and more like I’m trekking on ice that probably won’t break. I want to say something, but my mouth doesn’t want to move right. Something about how cool his outreach idea is, or…hey, what just fell on my leg? It’s warm, too. I’m trying to ponder that, but the thought drifts straight into the void, and then I'm waking up to a hand on my shoulder shaking me gently to rouse me from sleep. Groaning, I sit up a little straighter and look in the general direction of the voice quietly saying my name.

Not Anette, or Seventeen. My name. I blink the sleep from my eyes—or, try to—and smile. Yoongi is uhhh, close. Closer than he needs to be to wake a girl up. I can smell the whiskey on him. I could probably count his eyelashes if that was a thing people did.

I lean back into the car door to put some distance between us.

“What’s happening?”

“We’re here.”

“Where?”

“Tch,” Yoongi scoffs, but he doesn’t sound that annoyed. “Your friend is waiting for you, isn’t she?”

“Mm, yeah. She is.” I don’t relish the idea of Emilia waiting for me, if only because she’s the punctual sort that gets a bit miffed over lateness.

“Are you sure you’re coherent enough to go shopping?”

“Probably?”

Again, Yoongi scoffs. God, the feeling is mutual, okay! You irritate me, I irritate you, welcome to the worst job of my life. “Look at me.”

I do. It is kind of hard to keep my eyes open, but I figure once I’m out of the car, the cold night air will wake me right up. Plus, it’s hard to be sleepy when someone has scissors very close to your head. The haircut will definitely help.

“You’re flushed,” Yoongi comments it casually. A-am I? I touch my own cheek. Yeah, it’s kinda warm. “I can take you home.”

“I’m fine, thank you.”

“You really enjoy saying no to me, don’t you?”

“Sir, you shouldn’t be driving if you’re drunk.”

“I’m not drunk,” Yoongi counters. I’m not so sure that’s true with how he's acting, but he doesn’t seem drunk other than the weird insistence I not meet with Emilia after all.

“Er. Thanks for dinner,” I say so that I can have an excuse to get out of the car already. “It’s a cool idea.”

Nothing. Yoongi watches me shrug out of his jacket like he’s trying to work out a very difficult problem, then leans back into his own space and looks forward.

“Yeah, no problem.”

“I’ll talk to you Monday about getting your teeth removed. Good night, sir!”

Mmmyep, I’m definitely sleepy. I climb out of the car and into the night before Yoongi can react. I so don’t want to be at his mercy when I’m too out of it to hold my own. The leaning-too-close and inviting me to a wine bar thing is already weird. It doesn’t need to be weirder.

Plus, if I linger, that’s more time to be late, and Emilia won’t appreciate it. So instead of waving or anything, I tear off toward Edo, a woman on a mission.

“There you are,” Emilia greets me outside the door, already laden with a few Zephora bags.

“Sorry, dinner ran a little late.”

“It’s alright, darling, I expected it to. I went ahead and got some supplies.”

I have an aversion to the word darling now, great.

By supplies, I know Emilia means makeup. For me. Just wait until she hears I have no idea what to do with it.

“How much do I owe you?”

“It’s a gift. You just got your first big girl job!” Emilia looks overjoyed, and I blush a little. Just a little.

“Thanks, Emilia. You didn’t have to.”

“Oh, but I did. You’re dealing with one of the richest men in San Francisco, I can’t let you blow it.”

From that I’m able to deduce that Emilia did her research on Yoongi. Even I’m surprised to hear that Yoongi is that wealthy, though. Being one of the richest men in San Francisco, yeesh. I wonder how that stacks against someone like Mark Zuckerbarge. I’m kind of glad Mark Zuckerbarge isn’t my boss, tbh.

Our first stop goes smoothly, more or less. Emilia tells my stylist, with a very firm voice, that I’m in need of a modern cut, that she thinks a shag is a good idea, and that bangs would look “darling” on me. She’s the one that works at Rogue, so I’m in no position to argue. I do feel like a pushover, though.

Hey, it’ll be good practice for being Yoongi’s slave.

An hour later, I’m looking at my reflection with mixed emotions. It’s a good cut. Certainly. And there’s a lot of hair framing my face in a pretty way. The fringe even looks good, but it’s such a big change. I look older, more mature? Which, not bad? It does kind of cement in my mind that I’m a real adult now, though, and it’s different enough that it doesn’t feel entirely like me. As soon as I leave, I put it back in a ponytail. I’m just not ready to deal with it. Sure, it’s just a haircut, but it’s also a very obvious hallmark of my transition, and it’s just kind of a lot, okay?

Emilia looks confused when we head off to Chopére, but doesn’t ask any questions. I’m sure she’s at least somewhat aware that big changes are hard when it comes to appearance; she cut her waist-length hair after she broke up with her last girlfriend and cried more about that than she did the actual breakup.

We go through the jewelry inside Chopére slowly. I make a few suggestions that Emilia shakes her head to; a bright, chunky necklace and big tassel earrings are in fashion, if their existence in the store is anything to go by, but they’re not good enough for Emilia, apparently. I’m looking at a necklace with a big gold triangle on it, debating whether I can splurge this much, when Emilia pulls me away from the display.

“We’ll come back,” she decides out of nowhere. I let go of the necklace and follow her out, confused.

“Yeah, I guess there wasn’t really anything good.”

“No?”

“It’s all overpriced too.”

“I see.”

What do you want me to say, woman?! I trudge along after her, sweating. This isn’t going well at all. I thought she was going to help!

I grumble under my breath as she leads me into Nordstone. This place isn’t any less expensive, but I try to remind myself that I’m looking for things to upgrade the wardrobe I already have. Not a total overhaul.

We go to the dresses, and I immediately get knee-deep in fabric. Ruffles and pleats are the way to go; I looked at the mannequins. I’ve got this! I pick up half a dozen things, keeping an eye out for the changing room, while Emilia floats along the racks herself in deep thought. Nothing I’ve picked up is really my style, but I can incorporate the pieces into my wardrobe and it’ll probably be fine, right?

“What are you doing?” Emilia’s voice comes out of nowhere.

“Uh.” Shopping, like she told me to! “I got some stuff to try on.”

“Do you even like this?” Emilia takes a hot pink sheath covered in ruffles from my hand like she’s picking up something radioactive.

“Well, kind of.”

“Darling. If you put on a bunch of stuff you don’t even like, people are going to notice.”

What is this?! I thought the goal was to be more stylish! I frown, then look at the dress. I actually hate it, but I’ll do anything to keep my spot at 3 Point.

“Listen to me. Fashion isn’t about changing who you are to look good. It’s about creating yourself,” Emilia says, emphatically, while waving the dress so that it flops like a sad, ruffled flamingo. “Do you want them to take you seriously or not?”

Ugh! I don’t know how this all works, and I feel silly now. “Of course I do.”

“Then pick things you like. You got the job all by yourself. You don’t have to change just so people like you.”

...That makes sense, actually. I put the dresses back where I found them, still a little embarrassed, but flip through the offerings with a lot more care. There are so many options to pick from, but I finally find something that feels less over the top: a black dress with a high neckline and a deep v mesh panel in the front. Kinda sexy, not too crazy. 

“See, something like this is perfect. This can be the base of five different outfits and no one will know,” Emilia says approvingly. I have no idea how that would work, and she must be able to tell. “You can wear it as-is for some va-va-voom, or you can dress it down with layers, or make it edgy with a bomber jacket.”

That sounds almost easy! I try to stay in that thought pattern, picking up two more dresses before we move onto accessories again. This time, I’m comfortable picking things I like: dainty necklaces and pretty earrings, even a gold obi-style belt. The total isn’t what I hoped for, but my first paycheck will be enough that I probably don’t have to eat ramen for the next two weeks.

We move onto shoes at NALDO. Emilia helps me pick out booties and combat boots and over-the-knee boots, sneakers and heels that can apparently change my whole look. On and on we go, until I’m literally carrying so much stuff we have no choice but to take a Muber home.

“Shopping spree, ladies?” our driver asks in a thick accent I can’t name.

“Something like that,” Emilia chirps, balancing my shoeboxes in her lap. “This girl just got a new job.”

“Oh, congratulations! May you prosper.”

And live long, right? But I graciously thank him, counting the minutes until I’m home—where I dump my bags on the floor next to my bed and collapse, not even bothering to take off Emilia’s Louboutins before I pass the fuck out.

Chapter Text

For the next few weeks, I’m careful. Yoongi Min is a dangerous man, the kind of guy I’m sure would have driven me insane even if he weren’t a fancy, powerful rich boy lording from his highrise over all the commoners. I can’t be around him alone for too long, or I might just snap and then I’ll really be in trouble. Big trouble, to borrow words from the man himself. My work is done diligently, my punctuality on point, and most awkward missteps are easily smoothed over with minimal Grumpy Yoongi glowering at me like I’m an idiot. I even become an expert in answering phones and directing calls to the right place without accidentally hanging up on anyone.

Except for the one time I kind of hung up on Lucie Mercier. It was an accident, honest. I called her right back and let her berate me for being an “idiot girl” too stupid to operate a phone, like she isn’t an old bat that probably has to ask her kids how to to copy and paste.

Mon dieu, Anette, what ever are they teaching kids these days?”

And then she hung up, and I had to count to ten while taking deep breaths to prevent my phone flying across the room.

When Yoongi poked his head out of his office a little later, he was only sort of mad. More like irritated, but no more of that “big trouble” nonsense came up, so I’d like to think he found it at least half as funny as I did once I stopped trying to set Lucie on fire with my mind.

Whew. The last thing I need is that woman hating me even more, but honestly—is that all it takes to offend someone in the year 2019? And the older folks call us sensitive.

At least Hoseok finds it funny when I tell him later at lunch. Listening to him laugh cheers me right up, and I maybe, sort of, kind of press him about the whole Yoongi-Lucie relationship.

“They had a thing for a while, she likes her men young and lonely,” Hoseok tells me in a whisper. “She went chasing after some younger guy and left him pretty devastated.”

Why, oh why, does that make me seethe?

And why do I suddenly feel worried about Yoongi? Ugh. Not my problem.

Thoughts about Madame Cougar aside, the days tick by into weeks that wind up going well on all accounts. By the time my weekends roll around, I’m even so used to the extremely late nights that I don’t collapse in bed the second I get home. At later and later times in the morning, mind you. There are a ton of errands to run, and a lot of checking in on Holly to do.

It’s a shame that Yoongi isn’t even half as cute as Holly. I would feel a lot less on edge taking care of someone with a sunny disposition that’s also cute enough to snuggle with.

Fall is rapidly descending in the Bay, and with it comes the scent of pumpkin everywhere and big chance to wear big, fluffy sweaters.

There’s also fog. Never-ending, rolling fog that blows in from the bay and covers the city in a haze until the sun peeks out around noon. It’s nice to bask in, especially with access to the roof of the office, where I can usually find Namjoon reading and sipping tea while Jimin, Taehyung, and Hoseok play very enthusiastic ping-pong. Sometimes Jin comes up to eat his lunch with Namjoon, and though I try not to be nosy, I can’t help but glance their way every now and again.

And boy, is Namjoon oblivious. It’s almost painful to watch. More painful is wondering if Jin will ever pluck up the courage to do more than lean in all close, pat Namjoon’s shoulder, and laugh way too loud at Namjoon’s worst jokes.

“I can’t watch this anymore,” Nina tells me one day, closing her book and looking away at the gorgeous panorama of the city. “If Jin doesn’t say something, I’m going to confess for him.”

“Aw, he’ll get it. Someday. Probably,” I say, though I do cringe when Jin puts his hand on Namjoon’s and promptly yanks it away, blustering on about it being an accident.

Oh, honey.

The secondhand embarrassment really is a lot to handle, so I opt to join in on the ping-pong match happening between Jimin and Hoseok, who is today’s undefeated champion.

I lose.

Spectacularly. We lose the ball over the side of the building, and I’m banned forever.

All in all, I’m really finding my place at 3 Point. I’m pretty confident that I won’t be fired, at least.

I do have one slight problem, though, and unsurprisingly, it’s Yoongi. In the weeks I’ve been working for him, the only time I’ve seen him eat is during the dinner we had with Lucie, and he didn’t even finish that . Stressed and overworked I can understand, but not stressed, overworked, and malnourished. I have to do something—especially after Hoseok shares my concerns, and says that most of the time, Yoongi just forgets to eat.

Operation: My Boss Can’t Die (Or I’ll Be Unemployed) starts on Monday morning. It can’t be that hard to feed someone, can it? Everyone likes food. Even Yoongi.

Cool, we might have one thing in common.

I stick a loaf of pumpkin bread in the oven while I get ready for work one morning. It’s just a quick, simple braided loaf with a cinnamon glaze over top, but it’s one of the things I perfected during my “starving student wants bread, can’t afford to go to a bakery” days. People in my building used to pay me for it. It should work just fine.

I know, sugary pumpkin bread isn’t the most nutritious breakfast, but it’s a start—I don’t want to go crazy and bring in a bunch of stuff Yoongi won’t touch.

The bread is still warm when I get to the office and smells heavenly—sweet and spicy, the way a good pumpkin pie should smell right out of the oven. I make quick work slicing and buttering it in the kitchen, then grab a handful of grapes from the fruit bowl and set off toward Yoongi’s office. I’m early, so he won’t be in yet, and won’t have to endure the embarrassment of offering him food. I’ll just leave it on his desk. Mystery bread from a mystery patron that very much doesn’t want her boss to die.

You would think that the plan would go flawlessly, but no. Who’s in Yoongi’s office when I get there? Yoongi, of course. Like. He has every right to be in his office, not today.

But. My annoyance subsides pretty quickly, because he’s sleeping. Stretched out on the couch alongside the wall, with a little blanket over his middle and his shoes kicked off and strewn across the floor. He looks so unguarded and innocent. Does anyone ever get to see Yoongi without his fortress up? 

Judging by the fact that even in sleep there are faint shadows under his eyes, I have my suspicions that he pulled an all-nighter. On Sunday night, no less.

Yikes. I had no idea he’s that busy. I even feel a little sorry for him. No one should have to work all night, not even Mister Grump, who gets his rocks off teasing me.

“What are you doing…”

Oh, shit. I woke him up. 

“Uhhh.” Uhhhhh. “Were you here all night?”

“Yes. Why did you wake me up?”

Hey buddy, I didn’t expect you to be here. 

“Wait, has Holly been alone all night?”

“He’s with my brother,” Yoongi grumbles. He turns onto his side—back to me—and grumbles more, like a petulant little child. Then: “What’s that smell?”

“I brought bread. You should eat something before you collapse.”

“Bring it here.”

Huh. That was easy. At least he’s not stubborn about food.

Yoongi sits up, yawning. I hold out the plate and he takes it, his fingers brushing mine in the process.

“Sit.” Yoongi gestures to the stretch of available space on the couch. I plop down a careful distance away from him, all too aware that he’s eyeing me, or more accurately, my outfit. I’m wearing the dress with the mesh panel under a denim jacket, but I know there’s still quite a bit of skin showing. After Nina came into the office wearing a number that looked like it was designed for a rave, I figured it was fine. Maybe it’s not fine.

But Yoongi doesn’t comment on it. I jump when his foot brushes my thigh, and he looks vaguely apologetic about it, like he didn’t know exactly where I was sitting. What is with all this random touching? And why won’t he say anything? He’s just staring me down, uncomfortably, like he’s studying a painting or something. I really wish he’d look anywhere else.

I just have to endure it. Even when he swings his legs over the couch and sits far too close to me for my comfort. I can feel the heat coming off his body where our thighs are nearly touching, so that is definitely too close.

“Funny, I thought you were avoiding me,” he says finally.

Ack! He’s found me out! 

“What gave you that idea?” I totally have been, but I thought I’d been subtle about it. Whoops.

“The fact that you haven’t been alone with me for more than two minutes since I asked you to get wine with me.”

“Coincidence.”

“Do you dislike me?”

What kind of question…

“That’s neither here nor there. You’re my boss. I haven’t been avoiding you.”

“Bullshit. I don’t like it when I’m lied to.”

Hnngh! And I don’t like being cornered and ogled, so I guess he can deal with it as much as I am!

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Look at me.”

When I turn to meet his eyes, I’m surprised at the way my heart picks up in my chest. I don’t like how intently he’s still looking at me—it’s uncomfortable! But I hold his gaze like it’s a game, reflecting his aloof expression.

“You have pretty eyes,” Yoongi says out of nowhere. I blink.

“You wanted to tell me I have pretty eyes?” Like, pardon me if I find that weird. Even if I’m blushing a little.

“No, I just noticed.” Yoongi shrugs.

“Okay.” Uuugggghhhhhhh. “Thank you, sir.”

“Tch.”

 

Wow, does he ever hate the word sir. It might just be my greatest weapon.

“You should eat.”

“Oh, yes. You brought me food,” Yoongi says. He took the bait, good. Not to mention he even sounds...appreciative? He picks up a slice of bread and sticks half of it in his mouth to tear off a bite. I can’t help but notice he seems crankier than before, but at least he’s eating.

Yes, Yoongi. Eat. Be nourished. No dying.

“This tastes like ass.”

Uh.

Wow

“Where did you get it, Stirbucks?” It’s clear Yoongi regards the very idea with distaste.

I bite my tongue, count to ten, and then shrug. “Yeah,” I reply stiffly, finding that I’m maybe unreasonably offended.

Or maybe not. Have some decorum, man!

“What’s with that face?”

“Hm?”

“You’re mad.”

“I’m not mad.”

“Liar. What do you care if I like this shitty bread?”

“I made that shitty bread, sir.”

Have you ever been in a room quiet enough to hear a pin drop? Yoongi’s office is quieter. We stare at each other for what feels like a million years, then get I simply get up and walk out.

Well! That’s what I get for trying to do something nice for a total jerk, I guess. Or maybe this is karma biting me in the ass for laughing about Lucie with Hoseok. Whatever. Just, whatever. It’s not like Yoongi asked me for any favors.

Operation: My Boss Can’t Die (Or I’ll Be Unemployed) is definitely off. Oh well, he doesn’t like my bread. Big deal.

No, I’m kidding  It’s a big deal because I’m a baby. I feel like I’m about to cry when I sit at my desk, not because it really matters how he feels about my cooking, but because he really is just a jerk. Like, there was no need to be so rude about it.

To hell with it. I get up and wander to the front desk, where Hoseok is putting down his things. “Morning, Hobi.”

“Morning, friend!” Hoseok catches sight of my face and frowns. “What happened?”

I shrug. I don’t feel like tattling on Yoongi, so I just sit on the floor next to Hoseok’s chair where hopefully, no one will see me.

When Hoseok warned me that no one lasts, I thought it was because Yoongi can’t be satisfied with anyone, always nitpicking and saying weird things. Now I realize it’s more likely that no one can stand him. That seems sad, in a way, but I feel more sad for the slew of assistants that came before me and had to endure this nonsense. The more I process it, the more annoyed I am. Maybe Yoongi didn’t ask me to do him any favors, but who says ‘this tastes like ass’ to someone who still went out of their way to do something nice for you?

Damn it, I’m crying. I brush away my tears in irritation, very aware that Hoseok is watching me. Like what he needs right now is for me to cry at his desk when he’s already so busy.

“What did he do?” Hoseok asks. His chair creaks as he sits in it, scooting a little more in front of me while I curl up with my knees against my chest. This is probably a conversation he’s had many times before, isn’t it?

“Stupid. I made him some bread and he said it tastes like ass,” I mumble.

“He what? 

“Yeah! He did! And then he didn’t even apologize! What the hell, Hobi!”

“Yoongi is...not very good with people.” Yeah, that’s obvious. “Sometimes. He’s not a bad guy—I’m not excusing him, friend, I’m not! I can talk to him if you want. I’m sure he didn’t mean it.”

“Tch,” is my reply. Gross, I sound just like Yoongi.

“I’m sorry he said that to you. After you went and did something so nice.”

“It’s not your fault.”

“I’m still sorry. Hey, why don’t you bring me some? I’ll tell you the truth.”

“That’s not the point! I don’t care if he hates it, but he was such a dick about it.”

“Pfft—” Hoseok snorts, then pats my head gently. “Come on, let’s have some! I’ll make tea, let’s go.”

I wipe my eyes one last time and follow Hoseok to the kitchen. Being around him really is comforting; I smile at his back as he rambles on about some bakery he likes, and how he wishes he could bake his own bread, and how cool it is that I did something so nice for someone who, in his words, “definitely hasn't done anything to deserve it.”

I smile even more when we’re at my desk with our cinnamon spice tea. Hoseok shovels down a slice, exclaiming that it’s good, before taking another. At least someone appreciates it. I push more slices at him and he loads them up in a napkin, still munching on a piece while he sits on my desk.

“When you said pumpkin bread I thought you meant one of those cake things,” Hoseok says around a mouthful of bread. “But this is the real deal. Hey, TAEHYUNG! Come get some of this!”

If Hoseok is trying to cheer me up, it’s working. Taehyung saunters over and takes a slice himself with his eyes all lit up, then joins Hoseok in sitting on my desk and snatching pieces of bread.

“Mmm, it’s like...pumpkin pie...but bread,” Taehyung smiles with crumbs all around his mouth. “Why isn’t there whipped cream? It needs whipped cream.”

“Maybe next time, yeah?” I smile, already feeling much better. That is, until the door to Yoongi’s office opens and he’s standing in the doorway looking irritated.

“Do I pay you to sit around and eat?” he grumbles, but neither Taehyung nor Hoseok seem to pay him any mind. “Both of you, get out of here! I need to talk to my assistant.”

Great. Just what I need. I do smile fondly, however, when Taehyung makes off with the last of the loaf proclaiming bread like this can’t be kept secret in one breath and calling out for Nina in the next. Bless Taehyung Kim.

As for Yoongi.

I turn to my laptop to start sorting through emails. It would be easier if I acknowledged him, but I’m too sour about it to bother, which means Yoongi stands there awkwardly like he doesn’t know what to do.

“Listen…”

“Mm.”

“Earlier...you know, I.” Oh, he’s trying. How surprising. “I was rude.”

That makes me look up. I don’t say anything, though.

“I wasn’t awake yet.” That’s nice. “I liked the bread. It’s good.”

“You don’t have to lie to me.”

“I’m not! I’m not. I’m just cranky when I’m woken up,” he says it so sheepishly, it’s almost of endearing. “I ate it all. It was good.”

That’s!! Not!!! The point!!!!!

“I don’t care if you don’t like it—”

“I just said—”

“Really, sir? The least you can do is pretend to be grateful when someone does something nice for you.”

“I am grateful!” He still sounds cranky. I wonder if it's even possible that he'll manage to get through this one, single apology without being a jerk. “I’m sorry. You’re right. Okay? I was an asshole.”

“Apology accepted.”

And I look back at my laptop screen, still kinda fuming but willing to make amends since he apologized and all. Just, not right now. People don’t get to make me cry and then get let right off the hook. I did my makeup today! I’m sure my eyeliner is smudged. For that, I deserve to be mad until lunch.

Yoongi is still hovering, though. I try to ignore him. Jon McMahon has emailed me about more details for the gala, and I’m already typing away explaining the layout of the ballrooms and how parking is going to work. Again with the driving! Why won’t people just park in a garage and take VART?

“Why don’t we grab lunch?”

Suspicious.

I halt typing and look up, waiting for Yoongi to continue.

“I have the conference in Tahoe coming up,” Yoongi continues. “I’ll need you to book our flights and reserve our rooms. We can plan for that.”

“I’ve already done it,” I reply breezily, then pause to go over Yoongi’s words in my head gain. He did say our, right? Our, as in both of us?

“You have?”

“Er. For you, anyway.”

“Well. Good, then. Just make sure to arrange some travel and lodging for yourself.”

“Will I need a conference pass?”

“I’ve already been mailed our badges.”

“Well, that makes it easy. I’ll email you my itinerary, there’s no need to go out for lunch over it.” Am I being too cold? I think I’m being too cold. “Unless you insist, sir.”

I wonder if he’s realized I only call him sir when I’m angry at him.

“I insist, ma’am.”

“It will have to be an early lunch, then. I still have to pick up your dry cleaning at one.”

I can feel Yoongi’s irritation. I’m not explicitly refusing him, but I sure am making it difficult. And he definitely knows it.

“Forget the dry cleaning. I don’t need it today. So, meet me at the elevators at noon.”

“Sharp?” I ask, without some of the overt irritation coloring my voice. Yoongi almost laughs.

“Sharp.”

With that, I’m left to my own devices. The first thing I do is book a ticket to Tahoe, which is easy peasy; I even manage to get a coach seat on the same flight as Yoongi, though he’s sitting in first class and therefore won’t be hanging out with me. It’s for the best. Work won’t stop just because I’m on a flight, I’m sure, so I’ll need as much alone time as I’m able to scrape together. Especially because Yoongi makes it very hard to work sometimes.

Less easy is finding accommodations for myself. The conference is a big deal, like the Pax Prime of music conferences. There’s nothing available in Yoongi’s hotel, the Sugar Pine Retreat, but that’s okay! I don’t need to stay in a 3-Diamond resort. Honestly, I’ll crash on a couch in an AirB&B if I have to. I browse lodging from south to north, then look into staying in Reno, and there’s nothing. The entire area is booked for that week, even the crummiest $24 a night AirB&B that sits on the outskirts of Reno.

That presents a minor complication. There is a $15,000 a night mansion, but I really doubt Yoongi will go for it. Hmm. What to do. I’m sure Yoongi would rather I not go than sleep in his room, but I fire up Slackr to message Hoseok just in case.

 

Seventeen ✨

Hobi!!

help me

 

Yes, I set my name to Seventeen on Slackr. If you can’t beat 'em, join 'em.

 

☀️Hobi Hobi☀️

what did he do this time lololol

 

Seventeen ✨

nothing!!!

he wants me to go to musicexpo with him and there’s nowhere to stay 😭

 

☀️Hobi Hobi☀️

oh yeah that gets booked months in advance

did you find something for yoongi?

 

Seventeen ✨

yep! he’s staying at the sugar pine retreat

his budget for travel is ridiculous

 

☀️Hobi Hobi☀️

lololol he won’t stay in a little cabin? lololol

 

Seventeen ✨

puh-lease. i’m not putting him in a sardine can, i’m not an idiot. 💀

 

☀️Hobi Hobi☀️

just call the resort and see if you can change rooms to a 2 bed suite

 

Seventeen ✨

ughhhhh i hate phone caaallls

 

☀️Hobi Hobi☀️

lolololol get used to it

the christmas party venue needs to be booked soon and you’re going to LIVE on your phone

 

Oh, right. I make a calendar note to look into that soon.

 

Seventeen ✨

lololol yayyyyy 🤩

 

Next up is a phone call to try to negotiate (plead) with the resort to upgrade Yoongi’s room. No luck there, but they do offer to call clients and ask if they would be okay switching from a double-queen to a king suite. Okay, good enough.

 

Seokjin Kim 

Hey lady, your credit card is ready. Please come pick it up at your earliest convenience. 😘

Uh. Who the hell is Seokjin?

Oh, right. That must be Jin. He talked to me about having a company card when I first started, and while I’m not sure what it’s for—I’ve been booking everything on Yoongi’s card—it’s probably a good idea for emergencies.

The accounting office is small, made up of six people who I barely know. I’m surprised when I enter that Namjoon is there, sitting on Jin’s desk with a cup of coffee. He sure did a 180 on caffeinated beverages.

“Morning!” I say to the room at large. Jin looks up and lifts the card between his fingers, waving it around.

“Well, if it isn’t the office bread master. Here you go, milady, and be sure to keep your receipts,” he says. God, his smile is so charming. He’s so charming.

“Thank you. What is it for, exactly?”

“Travel, meals while you’re away on business—” Namjoon starts.

“Massages.” Jin winks.

“No massages.” Namjoon says immediately.

“Hey, it’s Yoongi’s orders. I’m just the messenger.”

Namjoon rolls his eyes and gets up to leave. Through the window, I watch him march directly toward Yoongi’s office.

“It’ll be our little secret,” Jin whispers as he passes me the card. Whoa. It looks like the kind of thing a rich person would carry around, all black and gold and shiny.

“Mm, I better not…”

“Try out SenseSpa, and tell them Worldwide Handsome sent you.”

Worldwide...handsome…? Okay, yeah, I’ll go with it. Not the probably-very-expensive spa, but the “worldwide handsome” bit.

“Well, thanks.”

“No problem. Oh, and get yourself a uPad, it’ll be handier than a notebook for keeping track of Lil Meow Meow.” I snort. “The 24/7 app is good for that sort of thing.”

What, really? Really? Holy shit! A company-sponsored uPad. That’s like, the holy grail.

“Okay! Thanks for the suggestion! I’ve gotta get going, I’m trying to schedule for the Tahoe conference.”

“Go get ‘em.” Jin winks, and by the time I get back to my desk, Yoongi is standing there waiting. He looks irritated. Probably because of Namjoon, who I’m sure told him massages can’t be expensed to the company.

“Are you ready?”

“Er.” It’s only 11:30, but that’s not the biggest issue. “I’m waiting for a call.”

“Let’s go, then.”

And he walks off without a backward glance. I look at my phone, then toward the elevators.

Oy vey. This is turning out to be another long day.

Chapter Text

Do you ever sense that someone wants to say something to you, but is stopping just short of actually saying it? Like whatever they want to say has too much gravity, or is too risky, or they’re plain afraid to say it.

That’s what it’s like walking with Yoongi, who told me—with little room for argument—that we would be going to Stone Seoul. It’s a bit of a walk, but I’m not one to complain. Tagging along with Yoongi probably means free food, and if I’m lucky, maybe I can drag him over to look at the parrots that hang around the park. Everyone likes birds, probably. Even cranky hell-bosses that don’t seem to like anything.

Urgh, it’s cold today. The fog doesn’t seem to want to dissipate, adding a chill to the already cold shadows of the buildings that loom over Market Street. Along one side of the road, little white tents have popped up and people are milling around from awning to awning. I wonder what’s happening? Yoongi, however, doesn’t pay it any mind, only walks ahead like a man on a mission for food.

Who lit a fire under his ass? Yeesh, it wouldn’t kill him to slow down a little bit, especially if he’s going to pull late nights at the office. The weather is turning colder. I can see it now: soon, he’ll be sick and complaining about it to me while I spoon-feed him chicken noodle soup. Boy, won’t that be the life?

If he’s trying to apologize, he should try walking at my pace. In case he hasn’t noticed, I’m not actually as tall as him, and I’m in serious danger of being swallowed up by the early lunch crowd that’s clearly thinking the same thing as Yoongi is: better get to a restaurant, or no seats will be had. A smart, yet dangerous, strategy. Ordering from Mateposting would probably be easier, but the crisp air is nice, as it tends to be before winter has set in and dreams of summer creep up during the seasonal rains.

Oh no, I’m going to have to commute in the two-month drizzle from hell.

Thought for later. For now, I’m practically jogging to keep up with Yoongi. If nothing else, this job is going to keep me in shape!

Or maybe it’ll break my face. Someone jostles me to the side, and at my place, I go flying forward. Oh, come on! I’m not a klutz by any means, but this is the second time I’ve hit the pavement since I’ve started at 3 Point.

Or, I would have hit the pavement, if not for Yoongi. He apparently turned at exactly the right time, and I hit his chest. We stumble a little, but he rights us both with a grunt.

Ya, ssibal saekkiya! Watch where you’re going!” Yoongi growls, making my heart skip a beat. Shit, shit. What the hell did he just call me? And is he seriously going to tell me off for being pushed? I open my mouth to retort, but when I look up, he’s glaring daggers at a dude on his phone looks extremely offended. Beyond offended. Did he understand what Yoongi said, or is it the principle of the thing?

I have no idea what the guy says back, but Yoongi scoffs and flips him the bird. Okay, I guess they speak the same language!! My anxiety is through the roof, now, with mental images of a full-fledged street brawl on the edge of my consciousness. Yoongi mutters something that sounds extremely nasty at the ground, then grabs my arm to drag me back toward our destination.

“Hey, can you—” I huff, trying to catch my breath and calm my heart rate. “Can you not yell at people in the street? I mean, what the hell! That guy might have kicked your ass!”

“You almost fell,” Yoongi says like it’s not a big deal.

“So?”

“So I told him off a little. It’s not a big deal.”

See! See, I called it! I knew he would say that! I scream internally.

“Oh, it must be so nice being a man,” I scoff. Yoongi rolls his eyes.

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“Why don’t you think about it! And would you slow down?!”

Maybe I’m laying it on too thick, but christ, that was scary. Plus, I’m already mad at him over being prickly in general, and now dragging me along like I can’t walk on my own two feet.

“Anything else you want to get off your chest?”

“You’re awful, Yoongi Min! A tyrannical, insufferable jerk!

“Then quit.”

“Hell no! I won’t lose to you, so don’t even think about getting rid of me!”

I guess almost two months of tolerating his blunt personality was too much. I expect Yoongi to be mad, to chastise me—I’m acting like a total brat—but he just laughs and slows his pace so that I can keep up.

“Do you feel better, your highness?”

“Yes,” I reply, a little abashed, but mostly defiant. 

“Good. That means we can have lunch without distractions.”

We walk the rest of the way in relative silence while I gather myself. There’s no good reason why I just lost my head and went off on him, but he doesn’t actually seem to mind. I wonder if it’s more of his amusement at seeing me get worked up, or if he’s used people doing that by now. The latter option sounds sad, and why do things I learn about Yoongi always seem sad?

I remember Hoseok commenting that Yoongi is lonely, and mutter a quiet apology. Yoongi is still holding my arm, for some reason, but I don’t try to tug it away. I feel safer with him close by after that whole scene a few minutes ago. The random woman-pusher guy isn’t likely to run up and shank us or anything, but Yoongi picking a fight in the street was, well, scary. I need something solid to remind me that I’m okay, that’s all. No other reason.

Whether Yoongi hears me or not, he doesn’t say anything. Stone Seoul is up ahead; we go into the warmth of the little restaurant, which is a small, cozy sort of place that smells like sizzling meat. We appear to have beaten the crowd, because we’re seated immediately. Yoongi, for reasons I can’t imagine, takes my jacket and puts it over the back of my chair for me.

Weirdo.

The first thing Yoongi orders is makkoli, which is apparently a kind of Korean rice wine. On lunch, no less. I assume that means I won’t be in trouble for being slightly intoxicated and pour myself a generous helping in a little bowl.

“Tsk, tsk. You’re supposed to serve me first,” Yoongi says as I raise my bowl to drink. Uhh what. Since when? I must look puzzled, because he laughs. “It’s a Korean rule. You don’t pour your own drink.”

Oh. Hmm. I set my bowl down, taking the bottle and pouring Yoongi’s drink as well to make up for my apparent faux pas. This wine is weird looking—murky white, chalky. I hope it tastes good.

“So you were born in Korea?”

“Hah, no. I’m from Los Angeles.”

“You just wanted me to serve you, huh?” I snicker, picking my bowl back up and taking a long sip. The wine reminds me a little bit of what my grandmother’s house smells like—sweet and floral. Not bad, but not great either.

“Only if you want to,” Yoongi drawls. Well, I have no idea what that’s supposed to mean.

“Sure, whatever. You’re a big deal. That probably means I should always be serving you.”

Something about what I just said seems to greatly amuse Yoongi, who gives me a rare, gummy smile. It disappears behind his bowl as he drinks wine, and I try to figure out just what he thinks is so funny.

“Do you like serving people? Is that something you do?” he asks.

“Just you,” I shrug. Yoongi’s eyes glitter with amusement.

“Why am I surprised by that?”

“I don’t know? Why are you?”

“Because you’re a brat.”

Whelp. I can't make heads or tails of this conversation.

The waitress comes around before I can retort, and within ten minutes the table is laden with food. Tons of food. Noodles covered in black sauce, some kind of meat skewers, weird cylindrical shapes in fiery red sauce covered in molten cheese, potstickers, and a variety of small bowls full of cucumbers and seaweed and kimchi. Despite living in such a multicultural area, I’m not that familiar with Korean food; I take a cheesy red cylinder and bite it curiously.

It’s spicy. The cheese takes the edge off, but lord, it’s hot. I eat the rest of it, chewing the odd, gummy texture and swallowing. I don’t know quite what to think of it. I take another, flatter piece and try it too, then take another, and another.

“A woman after my own heart,” Yoongi says approvingly. 

“What is this?”

“Ddukbokki.”

“Which is…”

“Rice cakes.”

“And what’s that?” I point at the black noodles.

“Black bean noodles.”

“And that?” I point at the meat.

“Yangkkochi. Lamb.”

I see. I take a skewer next, eating it in about two seconds flat. Why did no one tell me about Korean food? I take some noodles next, and then—to Yoongi’s apparent delight—fill my plate so that I can chow down. I’m having a moment. A culinary experience. I don’t even care that Yoongi is watching me sample and resample everything to my heart’s content, not even that his shoulders are shaking in laughter. Judge me all you want, I love food.

“You don’t mind if I don’t watch my figure, right?” I ask before taking a few rice cakes to munch. 

“I assure you, your figure is fine.”

Uhh, okay? Sure, buddy.

Not dealing with that comment.

We eat in companionable silence, which is fine. I’m experiencing nirvana with tender, smoky meat, spicy rice cakes, and umami-sweet noodles and pork. I could die here, and it would be fine. Plus, Yoongi is eating a lot, too; he slurps down noodles like his life depends on it, taking rice cakes and bites of meat in between. The makkoli slowly disappears, and I find a new best friend in spicy, pickled cucumbers that complement the meat perfectly.

“So are you from here, or did you move for school?” Yoongi asks out of nowhere. I look up with noodles hanging out of my mouth and quickly swallow.

“I moved.” I’m not sure why he’s asking. Could he be trying to get to know me? Weird.

“Where are you from?”

“Is it important?”

He raises an eyebrow. “I guess not. I was just wondering.”

“What about you? Why did you move to the city if you’re from LA? Isn’t the music scene better there?”

“Hmm.”

“See? It’s not important.”

“You don’t like talking about it?”

“Do you?”

“Why are you answering my questions with questions?”

“Because I don’t like talking about it.”

“Me either.”

Same hat, then. I turn my attention back to my food, then shrug. “Just pretend I sprang into being ready to go to university.”

“If you’ll pretend I did the same when I started 3 Point.”

“It’s a deal.”

It’s not that my past is particularly bad, not any worse than most people’s anyway. But I took the scholarship to Sbanford to get far away from that life. Thinking about it, opening up to my boss about it, is a place I’m not ready to go yet.

Then there’s the fact that I never thought I would be having this sort of conversation with Yoongi at all. I don’t know why he’s suddenly curious about me—it seems to be a bit much for an apology.

“I stayed out here because of Emilia, though. My roommate. We promised each other we’d make it in the big city, so we got a place in Outer Sunset and that’s how I wound up here.”

“Funny,” Yoongi says, and I’m surprised to see that I have his full attention. “I stayed here for similar reasons. Hobi and Namjoon got really attached to the city.”

“It’s a good city. Expensive, though. I’d like to move out of the Bay eventually, but that’s more like a 10-year goal. I’ll need a car first.”

“Well, your resume will get you anywhere you want to go.”

“My resume barely exists.”

“One year as my assistant and you’ll be able to move on to bigger companies and more important people. This is just the beginning for you.”

“I haven’t thought about it,” I admit. Right now I’m just trying to get through each day without fucking it up. The long term isn’t really on my mind. “Besides, I want to stay in the music industry. Even if I’m not playing, I’m still here.”

“Not as my assistant, surely.”

“Why not?”

“Aren’t I an insufferable jerk?”

“Yeah,” I nod a few times, matter of fact. “But that’s your problem, not mine.”

Laughing Yoongi is much better than cranky Yoongi, I decide. “I like you.”

“I’ll alert the presses.”

“No, really.”

Uhh. I’m not sure what to say. I could play it off and say something egotistical, but that’s not really my style. I could joke that I don’t like him, but it feels like the wrong choice.

Having concrete proof that Yoongi approves of me is nice, though. With all my backtalk and screw-ups, I didn’t expect it.

“Thank you,” I say, finally. “You’re not bad, either. Sometimes.”

Another laugh.

“Oh, by the way. I can’t find anywhere to stay in Tahoe. Everything is booked for that week, so I called the hotel you’re staying at to see if they can switch around some rooms.”

“Okay.” Yoongi shrugs and goes back to his noodles.

“My ticket is refundable if I can’t find anything.”

“Mhm.”

“If that’s okay.”

“Sure, that’s fine.”

Well, that was an abrupt shift in mood. I tilt my head. Am I not supposed to be talking about work? Too bad, Yoongi. I’m your subordinate, so you have to deal with work talk.

“Oh, and I’m going to stop by the Appele store on the way back. Jin suggested I buy a uPad.”

“Okay.”

Geez. I push my rice cakes around, unsure how to handle this.

“Is now okay to talk about the gala?”

“If you want.”

Yoongi!!! Stop pouting!!!!!!

“Well, am I going with you?”

“Yes. You’ll need to keep me up to speed on who I’m talking to.”

“I assume I’ll need a formal outfit.” Yoongi nods. “Can I expense it?” Another nod. Damn it, Yoongi. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine.”

“Well then, if you’re that curious about my life story, ask away.”

And just like that, Yoongi is talking again. How very transparent of him.

I don’t know what this is, but it’s not the worst. I don’t mind answering surface-level questions; I don’t mind figuring out what we have in common, like liking Lupe the Fiasco and disliking loud, crowded places. I don’t even mind listening to stories about the early days of 3 Point, or how Yoongi smiles at the memories as our food disappears. I can’t say I understand where this is coming from, but I appreciate it. Getting to see Yoongi as a person, instead of just my boss. Maybe Hoseok was right; maybe there’s more to him than meets the eye. I regale him with stories of my own, about being a poor college student lugging a cello all over campus on the Marguerite and stealing dining hall food so I could sleep in the next morning instead of getting up at 7 AM to make my morning classes.

On the way back to the office, we stop at the Appele store and browse the latest generation of uPads. I try to go for the cheapest model, but Yoongi insists on getting a top of the line model so that I won’t have to replace it a few months down the line. He shows me the features and recommends some apps he likes. I ooh and ahh over it all, because what the hell, I’m getting spoiled by this company.

When we make it back to the office, I’m playing around with 24/7: creating schedules and reminders, syncing my calendar with Yoongi’s, building out plans for every contingency I can think of. Jin was right; this is an amazing app for my job. I’ll have to remember to thank him later.

Who knew I would get this into a productivity app? Or planning and organization? But it’s cool, somehow. It makes me happy being able to have all this information at my fingertips so I can make quick decisions and make Yoongi’s life easier. I never saw myself as a helper, but the idea of helping Yoongi avoid all-nighters makes me want to puff up with pride.

“Have you ever thought about teaching?” Yoongi asks when he drops me off at my desk.

“Teaching?”

“Music.”

“Hmm…” I think about that. I used to help other students with their pieces and compositions, but I’ve never taught, per se. I don’t know if I’m good enough for that. “No, not really?”

“Well, think about it.”

What? Why? I nod, confused, and watch Yoongi disappear behind his office door. Unlike normal, he leaves it slightly ajar. Teaching music seems like a fine thing to do, but I’m not sure I’m qualified enough to do that. That takes a lot of skill and mastery. Especially depends on the age range of who I’d be teaching.

Why am I supposed to be thinking about this again?

There’s a voicemail from Sugar Pine Retreat waiting for me, informing me that they were able to make a swap with a room that has two king-sized beds, and I call back, grateful that it won’t be more expensive. Phew. I’m glad that worked out. I was seriously considering whether I would have to go to a sporting goods store and get a tent and sleeping bag to sleep at a campground. I have no doubt in my mind that Yoongi wouldn’t question it.

The rest of the day goes smoothly, with Jin dropping by my desk to deliver a uPhone. I’m really getting the royal treatment, here! We chat about Tahoe—and how he wishes he could go sit in a cabin and make a couple of mukbangs—before Namjoon joins us and requests more bread.

“I didn’t get a chance to try it,” he says. “Taehyung hogged it for his department.”

“Yeah, sure. I can make a couple of loaves.”

“Yoongi hired an angel,” Jin says happily. I blush a little. It’s just bread.

“Nah, just someone who loves food and didn’t have money for it in university.”

“Oh, I know that story,” Namjoon says with a faraway look. “Me and Yoongi used to survive on instant noodles and cheap sausages. I swear I gained fifteen pounds just in my freshman year because of it.”

“Everyone gains fifteen pounds their freshman year,” Jin muses. “I used to go down to the dining hall at seven and not leave until nine.”

“Is that when you started making mukbangs?” I ask. I only sort of know what a mukbang is. They sound kind of gross, to be honest.

“Why yes, yes it was.” There are basically sparkle-emojis floating around Jin, who gives me a winning smile.

“It’s very aptly titled ‘Eat Jin.’ Which sounds more like cannibalism to me.”

I snort. Yeah, same.

“Oh, speaking of Eat Jin,” Jin flashes his grin at Namjoon. “We should grab dinner at The Tavern. It just reopened.”

Lord above, Jin’s made a segue and it makes sense. I cheer him on silently in my head.

Namjoon nods. “Sure. I’m off at 5:30.”

They walk away talking quietly. Watching them makes me want to open Tinderly, a terrible idea all around. Love is a pain, but they seem to always be together like two peas in a pod. How has Namjoon not noticed?

I hope they wind up having better luck than I have lately.

 

Chapter Text

I am a psychic.

I am also in Yoongi’s penthouse, laboring over dakjuk—a kind of Korean porridge, apparently—while Yoongi is asleep on one of his many white couches, curled up with Holly and as cranky as ever.

I’m cranky, too. Not just because the idiot baby went and got himself sick, but because his cabinets are filled with instant meals and his fridge only has dog food and a mostly empty bottle of wine. Who lives like this?!

Going to the nearest market isn’t so bad; at one in the afternoon on a Thursday, it’s basically empty. Cooking is fun, too, even if Yoongi demanded a recipe I’ve never heard of. I like the monotony of chopping onions and carrots and celery, dumping them in a pot full of rice and chicken, and then drizzling sesame oil over the top. The kitchen smells good, and I feel useful.

What I don’t like is just how sick Yoongi went and got himself.

It started with a sniffle on Tuesday morning. I noticed, then, that Yoongi was drinking a lot of hot tea and coughing into a tissue. Bad signs, both of them, but I decided that I would mind my own business and let him carry on being sick behind his office door.

I also noticed, later that evening when I was gathering up my things to leave, that Yoongi had proceeded into a deep, throaty sounding cough and was occasionally spitting.

Gross, first of all. Second of all, why the hell was he still at his desk, typing away when his face had turned into a nasty, leaking faucet? But, it’s none of my business. I’ll just hold the fort down on Wednesday, I figure. There’s no way Yoongi would elect to come in when he’s running ragged and shambling around like he’s got the plague. That would just be silly.

Spoiler alert: he’s already there on Wednesday morning, and from the tissues that have accumulated around his couch and in his trash can, I can only guess that the stubborn ass pulled another all-nighter. 

“Go home, sir,” I say at 9 AM. Yoongi gives me a withering look and goes back to his laptop. I know I said it was none of my business, but if he’s going to bring all of that nastiness into the office and infect everyone else, I’m going to make it my business. Like, doesn’t he realize that spreading germs to everybody that works for him is just a dunk on the productivity of his own company? 

“I have to finish this report,” is the reply that I get, and already I can feel my temper rising up. I would feel bad yelling at a sick person, so I roll my eyes and go back to my desk to finish up what I’m working on. There’s no reason why my work should suffer just because he wants to be an idiot about being very severely ill. From the looks of it, he won’t last the day. I’ll call him a Muber and send him home, then work the rest of the day in peace.

At around 9:15, my attention is caught by what sounds like Yoongi hacking up a hairball, followed by the unmistakable sound of vomiting. Christ on a cheese cracker! How important can a stupid report really be? There's no way it has to be done today at the cost of his health!

 

Seventeen ✨

sir, are you throwing up?

 

Yoongi Min, Genius

No.

 

Seventeen ✨

i can hear you through the door

 

Yoongi Min, Genius

It’s your imagination.

 

Seventeen ✨

go home already

you need to sleep

your report will be waiting for you when you feel better

 

Yoongi Min, Genius

I’m fine.

 

Seventeen ✨

ok

im going to go get namjoon

 

Yoongi Min, Genius

Do not.

 

Oh, but I do. Namjoon comes back to Yoongi’s office with me and chucks him out of the building very sternly, lecturing him on the importance of rest when he’s sick. We use half a bottle of hand sanitizer between us, then go about our day, and that’s that.

At least that’s what I assumed, but that was naive. Yoongi texts me a little later.

 

Yoongi 💀

Bring me my laptop. I forgot it.

 

To Yoongi 💀

i would rather not

 

Yoongi 💀

Within the hour. Don’t make me come get it.

 

Don’t make me come get it,” I mimic under my breath. Fine. If he wants to be a brat on top of everything else, I’ll take him his laptop and force some cold medicine down his throat to knock him out. It’s what he deserves. 

Which brought me to his penthouse, where he whined about wanting porridge like his mom makes and I had to look up “Korean porridge” on my own because he wouldn’t elaborate. I settled on chicken porridge because the internet told me that’s what you give to sick people in Korea. Thank you, Boogle.

No one explicitly asked me to cook, but I’m not heartless. I can’t just let him languish in his own sickness. I give the porridge a stir to make sure the rice doesn’t burn, then trot over to the couch Yoongi is splayed on. It’s kind of disarming to see him like this. Sweaty and in obvious pain, his hair sticking to his forehead. I touch the back of my hand to it. The fever is mild, but I’m still worried. To be on the safe side, I kneel down next to the couch and rifle through the bag of supplies I picked up from the store for a cooling patch to stick on his forehead—careful not to stick any of his hair—and adjust his blanket to cover him up completely. You’re supposed to sweat out fevers, right?

“Yoongi.”

“Mmnnff.”

“Sit up. You need to take something.”

“Why are you here.”

“Because someone has to take care of you before you keel over. Now sit up.”

Yoongi opens one eye to stare at me, then slowly pushes himself to sit. I take the cold medicine out and hand it over with a sports drink. Yoongi doesn’t fight me. Just swallows them down and flops onto his side again. Holly snuffles, then hops off the couch to wander deeper into the penthouse. Guess he’s not a fan of all the sweating and rustling and groaning. When the zombie apocalypse hits, he will definitely be safe.

Gosh, Yoongi looks so pitiful. My eyes follow the line of Yoongi’s neck to where his collarbone is peeking out of the collar of his shirt. He’s thin—thin and pale, fragile looking. I wonder if he’s always been this small, or if it’s from years and years of putting work first. If this is from a lack of self-care, I definitely have my work cut out for me.

Maybe I can order him a meal delivery service. Like HeyFreshie or WildApron or something. I worry, though, that he wouldn’t even eat that. If all he bothers with is instant noodles, he must not be too fussed about cooking. 

A ready-meal service must exist. A quick Boogle search gives me a few options: just heat and serve! No mess meals! Peppercorn steak and vegetables, loaded cauliflower rice with soy-glazed chicken, pork chops and lamb chops.

And then, the sound of something sizzling catches my attention.

Shit, the rice. I dash back to the kitchen to resume stirring, absentmindedly humming to myself. This feels weird and domestic in a way I’m not really used to. I’ve taken care of Emilia before, and a few of our other friends—Chloe and Jun, a couple that lived next door to us, seemed to get sick particularly often—but that felt more like a friendly thing to do and not a responsibility. What a strange turn this job has taken. Maybe if 3 Point doesn’t work out, I can be a nurse for hire.

No, definitely not. I have no qualifications, and I refuse to go back to school. Not when I’m finally free! And definitely not to pick up a totally different major.

The porridge is finished—a little crispy on the bottom—and, bonus, it doesn’t smell burnt. I ladle it into a bowl I’m sure has never been used, throw some scallions on top, and take it to Yoongi. It would be easier to feed him if he had a breakfast tray or something. The second I pass the bowl over, he’ll probably drop it. Hmm.

There’s nothing in the living room that would make a suitable table that doesn’t look like it costs more than everything I own. Very carefully, I pull the coffee table next to the couch and put the bowl on that, hoping it’s not some form of uber-rare marble from the far reaches of an otherwise untouched paradise. That would be just my luck.

Yoongi doesn’t stir at all. I sit on the floor in front of the couch and gently shake him. I was hoping the smell of food might rouse him, but I’ll have to go the riskier route and wake him up.

“Hobi, fuck off.”

Pfft. I shake him again, and he groans. His eyes open a little, and he looks at me like he’s about five seconds from ripping me a new one for daring to wake him.

“Oh. It’s you.”

Why does he make it so hard to feel good about being nice to him? I gesture toward the bowl, deciding that talking is pointless. I don’t need another fight over literally anything. I’m having a seriously hard time understanding how he has friends as close as Hoseok and Namjoon.

Unsurprisingly, Yoongi doesn’t look the least bit apologetic. Well, whatever. I’m not going to hold my breath that he’ll sing me praises; if he insults my cooking again, I’ll just leave.

He doesn’t, though. After a few bites, he nods once. “It’s good.”

Phew. I kind of assumed it wouldn’t be, since I don’t usually cook Korean cold cures, but if he finds it acceptable that’s good enough for me. And maybe it’s a little endearing, too, to have him just eat his porridge and sniffle and yawn like a sleepy child. Success, finally: I haven’t irritated him or run my mouth or made any inadvertent messes. That’s a step up from my first day. Though it’s slow-going, I’m really starting to feel like I might be cut for this after all.

It’s silent as Yoongi finishes off his bowl. When he lays back down he looks pained, but curls up with his blanket and watches me with one brow half-cocked, like he’s pondering a question. Me, I haven’t moved from my spot by the couch, just taken out my tablet to adjust meeting schedules and forward some emails to Yoongi’s inbox. That’s the cool thing about having a tablet. I can work anywhere! It might also wind up being a curse, but I’ll burn that bridge when I get to it.

“Sleep, Yoongi,” I say softly. He’s still looking at me like I’m a problem he can’t figure out, but there’s rest to be had and I don’t have the energy to try to puzzle out what he’s thinking. I feel kind of bad, too.

“Why did you do all this?”

“Would you have preferred that I didn’t?”

“No.”

“Then don’t complain.”

“I’m not complaining. I was going to thank you, actually.”

Oh. Huh. Maybe I jumped the gun on that one. “It’s nothing anyone else would do.”

“Tch. Yeah, right.”

“No?”

“No.”

Well that’s. That's sad. What, has he never had someone take care of him? I can’t imagine that. Or understand why he’s surprised, when this is my job.

“I’ll make it up to you,” Yoongi says suddenly. It’s my turn to raise an eyebrow.

“Make it up to me by sleeping. I’ve had enough of your stubbornness for one day.” I try to sound exasperated, but even to my own ears, I just sound fond. Gross. I must be tired.

“Okay.”

Without a single protest, Yoongi closes his eyes. Within a few minutes, his breathing is deep and even, and he again has that youthful, innocent look about his face that’s so different from his normal expression of apathy. What has life been like for him, to make him act so temperamental and cold? It’s something I haven’t really considered before. People are the way they are for a reason, right?

Without thinking, I reach toward Yoongi and brush some matted fringe away from his face. Even sick, he manages to be good-looking, both pretty and handsome at the same time. I do chastise myself a little for thinking of him in any way beyond strictly business, even though it feels kind of like I’ve broken through the first wall of Yoongi’s fortress. We might even be friends, maybe. Sort of. I’m not really sure what qualifies as friendship to someone like Yoongi.

Oh well. It’s not a particularly productive line of thought, and I do have a ton of work to do. I pick myself up and put away the porridge to reheat for later, put the pot in the sink to soak off all the crunchy rice, and then set up my station in one of the big, plush armchairs in Yoongi’s living room. It’s so comfy—like sitting in a cloud. Maybe his taste in furniture isn’t so bad after all. The room does look clean and expertly put together. I wouldn’t have expected flowers to hang around Yoongi’s space, but there are little vases here and there with fresh flowers that lend color to the otherwise monochrome room. He must have someone deliver them. A maid, probably.

Or who knows, he’s definitely rich enough to have a personal flower curator. That’s gotta be a service for rich people, right? Pick some flowers, bring them to your client’s apartment, collect $100 an hour for your labor. Hell, I could do that job. It doesn’t take a keen eye to know when flowers are pretty.

 

☀️Hobi Hobi☀️

hello!

i heard you’re out because yoobi is sick

are you coming back to the office?

i hope you’re not sick too

 

Seventeen ✨

yoobi!!!? loooool

nah i can work from here

i got a upad thanks to jin ✨

i feel fine

 

☀️Hobi Hobi☀️

oho!

where are you, exactly?

 

Seventeen ✨

yoongis

 

☀️Hobi Hobi☀️

why do you need to stay there 😂😂 

you should come back 

i ordered pretzels

 

Seventeen ✨

just doing my job

 

☀️Hobi Hobi☀️

what job 😂

 

Seventeen ✨

i made porridge and got him medicine

i want to keep an eye on him

 

☀️Hobi Hobi☀️

lololololol that is definitely not your job

come get pretzels!!!

i’ll save one just for you

the biggest, best one 💖

 

Seventeen ✨

what

no

what if he gets worse?

 

☀️Hobi Hobi☀️

waaahhh

you’re so kind 💖

so selfless

yoongi doesnt deserve you lololololol

but if you insist

beware waking up the beast

 

Seventeen ✨

lolol yeah ikr

it’s fine

i’ll just let him sleep

💤💤

 

☀️Hobi Hobi☀️

😴😴😴😴😴😴😴

 

God help me, I stare at those hearts for way too long. Those are definitely new.

Meh. Hoseok is just like that. No use getting worked up over a coworker.

Anyway—not my job after all, huh? Maybe I should leave. Pretzels sound good; why would anyone pass up on a chance for carbs? I decide that I’ll do some work and keep an eye on Yoongi, then head back to the office for pretzel hour later. Everyone wins.

My first task: finding a venue for the Christmas party. Which is more daunting than I thought. The budget is scary high and we could have it anywhere from an upscale restaurant to renting out any random venue and booking caterers. Uhhhh where do I even start? Should I take a poll from the office, or just make the decisions myself? And why does this need to be done in October?

I send out a few emails to prospective venues, and get some replies that they’re already booked for that date. So that answers that. If I want to find a good place, I better get a move on.

Whelp. According to Boogle, venues should have been booked months ago. Not good, especially not for my panic.

My Boogle search for “best places to host a corporate event bay area” seems promising. We could have a Golden Era of Hip Hop workshop, but that doesn’t seem very Christmas-y. Bookmarked for some other event. There’s Double Jones, a historic and gorgeous venue converted from a bank where we can have a bar setup in the original vaults. Twenty Eight Lusk offers drinks and food in a converted warehouse. Public Works is also an option, and one that I’ve actually been to; it’s nice, but not holiday nice. The Asian Museum of Art seems cool, but will that look weird considering there’s so many Korean people at 3 Point? I’m not trying to make a statement, here. Or act like I think Asia is one homogeneous country.

Maybe The Armory. It holds a lot of people and can be customized any way I want. I start searching for catering options, holding back yawns, and try to decide what kind of fare would be the best. Cocktails and wine are a given, but the rest isn’t so cut and dry. We could call in decorators and have some cool themes...maybe a taco bar?...and then I could also rent some games…god, this is a lot of work…and the penthouse is so warm…my chair so comfortable…Yoongi looks so peaceful…

I blink and I’m stuck in a hall of mirrors. Odd. When did Yoongi’s place turn into a funhouse? I walk toward what looks like an exit, but it’s just another mirror. That’s very strange. I turn toward another corridor, confused by why there are no reflections, then bump into a mirror that I thought was a door.

Ohhh, I think, turning around again. It’s a maze.

A maze with no end. I wander around for hours, through empty mirror after empty mirror, trying to find Hoseok so I can return his fanny pack.

Hmm. Hmmm. How did I get here, again? And which way is the way out?

I’m starting to get scared. I run down long halls that get longer and longer, calling for help, and then I hear a voice. Yoongi’s voice.

“That can’t be comfortable,” he says. No, no it’s really not! But I can’t see him. Suddenly, he picks me up, and I cling to him thinking he must know the way home.

“…Yoongi?”

“I’m right here.”

“Okay. Good.”

We sink through the floor of the maze, which has turned into a swirling galaxy, a tempest of stars and comets and planets, and then we’re in his penthouse and I catch sight of his face for a split second.

And then nothing.

Tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap.

Huh. That’s strange.

Tap tap tap tap tap.

Go away…

Tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap.

I open my eyes blearily. I’m no longer in a chair, but curled up on the couch with Holly at my feet.

Gosh, what a strange dream.

Oh, shit!

I sit bolt upright and jump off the couch, frantic. I fell asleep! While I was working! In Yoongi’s penthouse!!

“Good morning, your highness.”

Shit.

“Uhh. Mmm. What time is it?”

“Dinner time.”

Great. I sigh and sit back down, petting Holly, who seems to be pretty sleepy himself. I don’t really want to face the music, but I probably don’t have much of a choice after falling asleep in the middle of the work day.

“Sorry, Yoongi. I’m really sorry.”

“For what?”

“Sleeping on the job.”

“Considering you decided to come over and work in my living room, sleeping is the least of your worries,” Yoongi drawls. He’s typing away on his laptop and looks bored af.

“Sorry…”

“Stop apologizing. I don’t care.”

Ugh. Uggghhhhhhhhh.

“I’ll just go, then.”

“Actually, can you order some food? I feel like pizza.” What. “Get some for yourself since you’re already here.”

“But—”

“I just told you, I don’t care.”

I’m pretty sure my face is all question marks.

“About me apologizing?”

“What?” Yoongi looks up, his nose wrinkled. “No. I’m not mad you fell asleep. Yaaa, relax already! You’re going to make me nervous.”

“Oh. Okay.”

I just do not understand what goes on in his head. Coming in late? Big trouble! Sleeping on the clock in his penthouse? No big deal!

I’m going to have to start writing down the rules. But hey, at least he seems to be feeling better.

“You should rest. You woke me up with all your sniffling and coughing.”

I did?

Now that he mentions it, my throat does kind of hurt. I sniffle.

Sighhhhh. This is what I get for playing nurse, isn’t it?

“What kind of pizza?” I ask. I’m already on my phone, opening up Mateposting.

“Meat.”

Okay. Easy enough. I place an order for a meat trio pizza and a veggie pizza for myself, deciding that pizza will be greasy enough on an empty stomach without piling meat on top.

My uPad is on the table next to the couch, so I pick it up and get back to where I left off: venue searching. I have an email from The Armory that my date is booked, but if I can take the previous day, I can have the entire warehouse from 4 until close. Score. I send off a reply that that will work without bothering to confirm it with Yoongi; I was hired so he wouldn’t have to deal with the minutiae.

Within a few minutes I have a list of preferred outside vendors. Wow, what a godsend. How many exclamation points is appropriate for a business email? All of them? Probably.

Let’s see. Sushi, that’s a no. Too many people don’t like it. Pasta…eh. Too messy, hard to eat standing up. I definitely don’t want a formal, sit-down dinner. Or do I? Hmm.

Taco bar! Good! 

Or barbecue, ooh.

Oh no, this just got complicated.

Whew, suddenly I’m feeling woozy. I don’t feel like I have a fever, and I haven’t been nauseous, but I’m nervous. 3 Point has a more than generous sick leave system, but I don’t think I’m far enough into my tenure to take advantage of it.

Then again, Yoongi knows I’m sick.

Delayed reaction time: how did I get onto the couch, again? I peek at Yoongi, trying to decide if that interlude where he was carrying me in my dream might have had a basis in reality.

There’s no way, right?

“Do you need something?”

Oops. I’ve been caught staring.

“How are you feeling?” Like, he’s working, so he can’t be feeling too bad. I hope.

“Alright. Whatever you made me take really helped.”

“Oh. Good.”

“You should take some, too. I don’t want to stick you in a Muber while you sound like you’re on the brink of death.”

That’s surprisingly considerate. I would hate to have my rating dunked on because I got in the car while sick. My sniffling and coughing have been getting increasingly annoying, too. I get up for some pills, help myself to a glass of water, and park myself back on the couch in time for the doorbell to ring. I’m halfway to getting up when Yoongi says he’ll get it and disappears.

Again, too nice. It’s becoming suspicious. I wrap my blanket around me while he’s gone, sending some messages to Hoseok, and then checking Yoongi’s schedule for the 15th time today. There are just too many things he has to do; tomorrow is probably a wash, so I start rescheduling meetings and reminders for Friday. My thoughts are getting fuzzy, though, and my stomach rumbles loudly while I’m debating how to show myself out after dinner.

Second spoiler alert: I don’t. We have pizza and discuss some upcoming tasks until I’m so woozy that Yoongi forces me to lie down and wait for it to pass.

I promptly pass out.

Chapter Text

The sun is weak when I wake up. My room is mostly shrouded in gloom. I could totally go back to sleep with how exhausted and crummy I feel. I yawn, rolling onto my side to check the clock on my bedside table. It’s kind of weird that I woke up before my alarm, but whatever. Getting an early start can’t be a bad thing.

My clock seems to have disappeared. That’s weird.

It’s then that I realize I’m not in my apartment. My head is fuzzy—probably from the cold medicine—and I go over the previous day in my head trying to remember what happened. Yoongi was sick, I went to his place and made porridge, and—oh. I’m sick and I passed out on his couch.

Except I’m not on Yoongi’s couch. I’m in a huge bedroom, covered with soft blankets and lying in a nest of pillows. Is this a guest bedroom? This better be a guest bedroom.

Where’s my phone, anyway?

As I wake up, I start to notice little things, like that the bedroom is facing the bay and it’s probably closer to midday than morning judging by how gloomy and gray and drizzly it is outside. I can also hear the sounds of a shower coming from behind a door that’s very much attached to this room. That must mean…

One, I’m very late. Two, Yoongi is also very late. Three, I’m in Yoongi’s bedroom.

What the hell? I definitely don’t remember coming back here, and I’m definitely going to kick some wholesale ass if I find out we shared a bed.

Four. I need to pee.

In what feels like a gross invasion of privacy, I get up to hopefully find another bathroom. I’m still fully dressed, which Yoongi had best thank his lucky stars for. But also, I’m in yesterday’s clothes and not looking forward to doing a walk of shame, without having even gotten any action.

Wait no, that makes it sound like I want Yoongi action. I do not, thank you very much.

I take two steps, and my head swims. Mysteriously I’m now on the ground in a wobbly little heap.

What kind of horrid plague did Yoongi give me?

Floor is cool. Floor will have to be fine, because I’m too out of it to get back up. Sometime while I’m leaning back against Yoongi’s bed, the water shuts off, and I hope to god I’m not about to see my boss wrapped in nothing but a towel.

A shower sounds nice right about now. My throat is dry and I’m sure my hair is a mess. I consider calling out for Holly to come rescue me. He would probably be able to comfort me, at least.

Ah! Speak of the adorable baby. Holly trots in and curls up in my lap immediately. Nice, nice. He’s so warm and fluffy, and I can’t resist petting him with as much enthusiasm as I can muster in my decrepit state. Is Holly psychic? Or did he just hear the shower turn off and come back to wait for dad?

I squint to look around the room, taking in the sights. The walls are adorned with framed awards and a few abstract paintings. I’m sitting on a luxe fur rug, across from an entire wall of windows that are draped in sheer curtains. The colors are dark and dramatic. I feel like I’m sitting in opulence, what with the marble and gold, the dark wood, the meticulous care that has gone into Yoongi’s bedroom.

What will Yoongi think when he comes out of the bathroom? I stroke Holly behind his ears, staring out the window at the bay, and try to think of casual ways to say “Hello, I cannot move or I might pass out.”

Also, “please take me home right now, immediately.”

Will that sound ungrateful, though? Ugh. I close my eyes, because even the faint light coming in from outside is turning them into pain spheres. I need a tylenol, stat.

A cloud of steam billows out of the bathroom, followed by Yoongi, and I crack open my eyes. Yoongi is dressed in casual clothes—thank god—and still toweling off his damp hair. Our eyes meet and I give him a strained smile.

“What are you doing?”

“Bathroom,” I reply. Yoongi freezes.

“Not on the floor, I hope.”

Gross? Gross! Yoongi, please. “Trying to find—no, not on the floor.”

Hey, am I okay? My voice sounds pitiful, and my words aren’t stringing together right. I try to grin again, haha, funny jokes! I cough instead. This is not a good look. Why did I have to pass out here, of all places? I half expect Yoongi to boot me out the door. I’ve probably, no definitely, overstayed my welcome at this point.

“I’ll get you some food. You only had half a slice of pizza last night.”

Is that all? I could have sworn I ate more than that. Then again, I was in a haze last night, too. Hopefully I’m just hungry, then, and some food will make me feel better. I nod, and try to usher Holly out of my lap, but my arms are weak.

Great. Not only do I probably look like I’m about to keel over, I can’t even get myself off the floor. I’m so pitiful.

“Come on,” Yoongi says. He comes over to literally pull me off the floor with one hand on my wrist and the other on my waist, then unceremoniously pushes me back onto his bed. Something about that makes me fidget. “Just stay here. I’ll be right back.”

“Hnnmm…”

“Don’t die while I’m in the kitchen.”

“Okayyyy.”

I do not, in fact, die. Holly jumps up to snuggle with me and I wrap around him to give pets while his little butt wiggles and he licks my face enthusiastically. I’m kind of annoyed that my mission to take care of Yoongi got so thoroughly flipped on its head, but what’s a girl to do? I have been running a little ragged with the stress of taking care of one Yoongi Min, so it’s not surprising his killer virus wrecked me in less than a day.

Well, maybe not so short a time—he was sick on Tuesday, too, and we do spend a fair amount of time interacting.

I don’t know what I expected, but it wasn’t for Yoongi to bring me cold pizza and a water bottle. I pick at it a little while he watches—Holly having relocated to his lap—and take the pills he brought with this winning ensemble in hopes that I’ll be a semi-functioning human sometime soon.

“We’re leaving for the conference tomorrow morning.”

Damn it. That’s right! I shudder to think of trying to run around Tahoe sick.

“Okay, yeah. Should I stay home?”

“If you’re sick, yes.”

“Why aren’t you still sick? What kind of immune system do you even have?”

“I was sick for days. It’ll run its course.”

“Hnnghh…”

I finish off my pizza as quickly as possible; it’s not that appetizing cold, and the overabundance of olives might explain why I struggled to eat last night. Yoongi sits at the foot of his bed, scrolling through some emails with one hand and petting Holly with the other.  It feels like I should say something, or move to the couch, or leave. But, I can’t come up with words, so I lie back down to wait for the pounding of my head to maybe calm the hell down a little. How did Yoongi work like this? My throat hurts and I’m freezing and I can barely string two coherent thoughts together. And I really need to pee.

“I’m going to go work on some stuff,” Yoongi informs me. He gets up and takes my plate, heading out with a little brown shadow. Nooo, Holly, stay with me! “Text me if you need anything.”

“Okay, thanks.”

And then he’s gone. I get up to go to the bathroom, taking note of the Burberry lotions and assorted Korean products on the counter. There’s a rainfall shower behind a half-wall of frosted glass, and a two-seater tub that looks deep and cozy. I’m kind of jealous of that tub. My place just has a tiny box for a shower, and definitely just a half-assed shower head that sometimes spits cold water for no good reason. What’s it like, living like this? I can only imagine. I’ll never make this much money.

He won’t mind if I take a shower, right? Er, maybe a bath. I don’t know if I feel like standing up, considering my legs are jello and all. I shed my clothes slowly, hobbling toward the bathtub, then spot a bench in the shower that I can probably use. Nice. If Yoongi is going to be generous enough to let me stay, I’m definitely going to make myself at least comfortable.

Hot water feels like heaven on my skin. Steam fills the bathroom and I wash off and take care of the rat nest currently passing itself off as my hair. Okay, showering is definitely perking me right up. I sit on the bench, leaning against the wall of the shower, letting conditioner soak into my hair, and sigh with contentment. This is the life! When Emilia and I save up a little, we’re definitely hunting for a place with a shower like this.

Helping myself to Yoongi’s stuff feels a little weird, but I wrap myself up in a bath towel the size of a small blanket while I comb and towel dry my hair. Just for curiosity’s sake, I smell the lotions lined on the counter. Yup, they smell like Yoongi alright. Will he notice if I steal a little moisturizer? Probably not, right?

When I come out of the bathroom, I feel like a whole new person. My phone and tablet are on the bedside table now, and there’s a tshirt draped on the bed with a pair of pajama pants. I get that I’m allowed to put them on, but. Hm. Yoongi is being so...considerate. Not that I expected him to be standing outside the door ready to yell at me over using his shower, but I’m still surprised by it.

It’s time to admit that he really isn’t a jerk, isn’t it? I held tight to that idea after the first couple of days, but I can’t deny it anymore. Hoseok was right. Under the thorns, there might actually be a nice, caring person.

After I throw on the offered clothes, I look at myself in the mirror. His tshirt is definitely big on me, and I look like the girl in the romance movie that wears her boyfriend’s clothes after having a wild, passionate night together. Yikes. Where is that thought coming from? I’m fidgeting again, and for some reason, I think about Yoongi lifting me off the floor to toss me on his bed. My stomach tightens.

No! No, no, no! I refuse! Do not, brain! No thinking of Yoongi like that!

But he’s so...handsome. I flush, thinking of his hand on my wrist. Thinking of what it would be like to be close and warm and—

No!! It’s just because I’m in a dry spell. That’s it. I haven’t been on any dates because of my schedule and Yoongi is pretty attractive but there’s absolutely nothing there except maybe a shallow physical interest.

Nothing at all.

Come on body, don’t get excited right now.

God, this is awkward. I’m just glad that Yoongi isn’t around to see me blushing and hiding under his blankets—because that’s exactly what I’m doing. Who the hell gets excited over being shoved?! This is so weird. So unwelcome. I hiss under the blankets, in a moment of sheer panic, and consider texting Emilia to come rescue me from this hell.

I don’t deserve this. I don’t deserve to be wondering what it feels like to be kissed by Yoongi, or running my fingers through his hair, or what he looks like in a state of undress and holding me down. This is absurd. That guy is...he’s…

I squirm. He’s domineering and hot as fuck, and he definitely, sometimes, maybe acts like he’s thinking the same kinds of things I’m thinking right now.

Okay, I have to calm down. Nothing is going to happen. Yoongi definitely isn’t going to want to hear about my sudden, insane desire to jump him. Or know that I’m fidgeting under his blankets with my thighs pressed together, as if that will stop my traitorous body from giving the green light, while I think about scrubbing burnt cheese out of casserole pans or vacuuming or anything to calm my suddenly ridiculous thoughts.

“What are you doing?”

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!

No!! Yoongi!! Leave!!!!!!!!!

“Feel sick.”

Footsteps. The bed sinks and the blankets are pulled from over my head, and what a sight I must make—blushing, terrified, horny. Don’t look at me, Yoongi! I’m sorry!

“You’re really red.” Oh god oh fuck. He sounds worried. Okay, just play it off. 

“Mmhhh, yes. I think I should go to a doctor.”

Yoongi feels my forehead, frowning. “Yeah, maybe. Do you want me to drive you?”

“I...I don’t think I can get up.” I don’t want to get up. I’m uh. My body is. I’m going to have to wash his pants, probably? Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck—

Yoongi brushes my hair away from my face, still frowning. Stop touching me! Go away! Stop this, I’ve lost my fucking mind and you are not helping, Yoongi!! “Go to sleep, then. I’ll take you to a clinic later.”

“Or, you know, I could just VART home?” I have to get the fuck out of here before something bad happens.

“Don’t be stupid. You’re burning up.”

This is my personal hell. I avoid looking into Yoongi’s eyes at all costs, terrified he’ll find me out the second we lock gazes. My brain is screaming “fuck” very eloquently, over and over. I’m going to short-circuit from humiliation.

“Okay,” I whisper. I’m suddenly very conscious that I didn’t put my bra back on, and the blankets are down at my waist, and this shirt is thin and gray and— “I’ll. I’ll sleep.”

My life is turning into a nightmare. Lord above, please help me. Please tell me Yoongi hasn’t noticed anything poking up under his shirt, or at least let him assume I’m cold. I will go to church every Sunday. I will buy a rosary. I’ll do anything.

“Okay,” Yoongi gets up, and I look at him just once to try to gauge what he’s thinking. He...looks normal. “And you might want to check your phone. It was going off like crazy this morning.”

The horror of realizing that Emilia is probably wondering where the hell I am is like a splash of cold water. I lunge for my phone as soon as Yoongi leaves, nearly knocking over the vase of flowers on the bedside table.

 

Emilia 👠💕

hey r u coming home late

hey

??????

where r u

pls answer

😑

😰

if u dont call by lunch i am calling the police

do u understand

u cant do this to me

lunch!!!!!!

 

...Well, thank god it’s only 10:30. I flop back, feeling like a huge jerk.

 

To Emilia 👠💕

hey, i’m okay

sorry, i got really sick and passed out, i just got up

 

Emilia 👠💕

YOU

ABSOLUTE

WALNUT

 

Wal...nut? Emilia must be really mad.

 

To Emilia 👠💕

i’m sorry emilia 🙇🙇🙇

i was going to come home but i literally just crashed so hard

 

Emilia 👠💕

where r u

are u safe

 

To Emilia 👠💕

i’m at yoongi’s

 

Emilia 👠💕

wtf

why

 

To Emilia 👠💕

long story

 

Emilia 👠💕

i do not like this YOONGI 💀

 

To Emilia 👠💕

mood

kinda

anyway i’m fine

i’ll stop by a clinic if i don’t feel better but i’ll definitely be home tonight

 

Emilia 👠💕

is he treating u nicely

is he taking care of u

why r u there

wtf

 

To Emilia 👠💕

work stuff

he was sick and i went down hard

 

Emilia 👠💕

lucky u

okay ill make some chicken soup

oh chloe and jun are coming down from portland next week so make sure u have at least one evening off

 

To Emilia 👠💕

pleeeaaaase do not invite logan

he’s creepy af 

 

Emilia 👠💕

... what am i an idiot

 

Thank fuck. That guy is really just...ugh.

Whatever, forget him. He’s not invited. And, yay! I haven’t seen Chloe or Jun since they ran off to the Pacific Northwest to chase their hipster dream of starting a small-batch artisan pickle shop. From what I hear, it’s going well. They were featured on Etsee and then Good Morning PNW a few months ago, and sort of dropped off the radar after that.

I’m really feeling pretty okay, just kind of hungry still. Maybe I’ll text Yoongi to bring me dakjuk—heated up, this time. For now, I open my inbox on my tablet to start sorting through emails.

There’s one from Lucie, and the subject line is “💦💋”. Jeeeesus Christ! Does she not realize these are filtered?! She’s the worst!! Get his personal email, damn!

That puts me in a bad mood, if only because now I know they’re totally boning, and there’s no way Yoongi would ever look at me like that, and I don’t want him to anyway, but the fantasy was kind of nice for the twenty minutes it lasted. I forward the email to Yoongi, irritated, and then message him.

 

Seventeen ✨

dakjuk pls

 

Yoongi Min, Genius

Okay.

 

Seventeen ✨

put it in the microwave first

 

Yoongi Min, Genius

Okay.

 

Seventeen ✨

thx

 

Uuhgghhehfdjhajxj.

When Yoongi brings me in a tray—with orange juice, how nice—I dig in without a word. Now it’s definitely awkward, with 💦s and 💋s floating through my head. Yoongi just sits there, watching me eat, and I have no idea why this needs to be a public affair. My bad mood is totally unfounded and I hide it well enough, but I wish he’d leave.

“Sir.”

Yoongi sighs. Guess he has noticed that ‘sir’ is reserved for when I’m mad.

“Can you give Lucie your personal email? Please.”

Brow furrowed, Yoongi checks his phone, then chokes. Red creeps up his neck, and he tosses his phone down looking about as mortified as I’ve ever seen him.

Good. Suffer.

“It’s—it’s not what it looks like.”

“It’s none of my business.”

“It’s totally inappropriate. I’ll have a word with her.”

“Okay.”

I’m not pouting, I just don’t know how to respond. Cool, go sext in your own inbox? Probably not what I should say. Instead I continue eating, trying to look supremely unconcerned about the situation that just unfolded in front of me.

“So, you’re into older women, huh?” I blurt out, god dammit. It’s kinda worth it to see Yoongi flush even darker.

Yaaa, you just said it’s none of your business.”

“No, no, but I get it.”

“What?” Now that looks like it confuses him.

“She’s pretty hot, Yoongi.”

“Oh. You’re—?”

“I’m?” Yoongi still looks confused. Or maybe something else, I don’t know. “You don’t have to be gay to find hot women hot.”

Why am I saying this, again? The last thing we need to be discussing whether or not that woman is attractive, and yet here I am.

She’s pretty hot, Yoongi. Christ. The things that come out of my mouth. No matter how attractive she is, she’s still a nightmare of a woman.

My phone buzzes, and I pick it up to check who the message is from.

 

Emilia 👠💕

im here

 

To Emilia 👠💕

what

 

Emilia 👠💕

im outside

come down, im taking you home

 

To Emilia 👠💕

how do you even know where he lives

 

Emilia 👠💕

bc u told me

100 times

that ur terrible boss

lives at the top of the avery

come down already u should nt be up there alone with YOONGI💀

this is sexual harassment

 

To Emilia 👠💕

no it isn’t!

what the hell

 

Emilia 👠💕

come down or im coming up

 

“Is everything alright?”

Oops, I’m hissing again. I bite my lip as I try to think about how to explain this to Yoongi, but I don’t have time. Emilia will make good on her threats. The last thing I need right now is for her to eviscerate Yoongi for daring to take care of me.

“I uhh, I have to go.” Yoongi looks at me, waiting for me to elaborate. “My roommate decided to come pick me up. She’s um, a bit protective.”

“What does she think is happening?”

Sexual harassment? Nope, not saying that. I have enough confirmation that Yoongi ain’t interested—I don’t need him to say it out loud.

“She thinks I’m dying and only her chicken soup can cure me. Sorry, but I really have to go.”

Yoongi shrugs, getting up. He puts my clothes in the bag I brought the medicine over in. I nearly die of embarrassment when he picks up my bra and shoves it in, too. God damn everything. I forgot I wasn’t wearing it! And now Yoongi has seen it! Not that I’m embarrassed because it’s a bra, but because it’s a lacy, strappy, way-too-sexy thing that I threw on because it was the only clean one I had, and wow what must he think of me now!

If he thinks anything at all, Yoongi says nothing. He takes me downstairs to hand off to Emilia without a word, looking totally uncaring.

Emilia marches straight over to us, looking Yoongi square in the face and taking my hand to pull me away from him.

“You must be Mister Min.” Ohhh, I do not like how dangerous her voice sounds. This might be bad.

“Emilia, I presume.”

“Yes. You’ve been a gentleman, I hope?”

Oh my GOD. I’m going to die. I’m going to die right here, right now, with my cheeks burning, wearing Yoongi’s clothes.

“Pardon?”

“I’ve got my eye on you,” Emilia replies, and I have to give her some credit—she’s staring down the beast without a trace of fear, only threat.

“It’s fine,” I protest weakly, trying to drag Emilia away before she gets into a fight with my boss in front of his penthouse. “Thanks for everything, Yoongi. Emilia, let’s go.”

“Let me call you a Muber.”

“I can call my own Muber, Mister Min, thank you.”

And Emilia drags me off while I mouth apologies to Yoongi, who sure does look like he’s laughing at me when he waves me off.

I have no idea what just happened! One second I’m lusting after the unattainable, the next Emilia is putting me in a Muber and taking me home where she sticks me on the couch with soup and tea and demands I not get up.

“I have to pack for Tahoe,” I protest.

“I’ll pack.”

“Emilia.”

“It’s fine, I can pack. Just drink your tea.”

“No! What the hell was that!” I burst out. Seriously, it couldn’t have looked worse! “Are you trying to get me fired?”

“What? No!” Emilia looks astonished, and maybe a little hurt. “Don’t you understand how inappropriate it was to stay over at his apartment? He’s your boss!”

“He didn’t do anything!” I protest, feeling irritation bordering on anger. Yoongi wouldn’t do anything, not with me. I’m mad that I’m bothered by it. “It’s definitely not like that!”

“For all you know, it isn’t! Please, listen. You just graduated and he’s been in the business for ages—you think he’s not been around? You think you’re not a prime candidate for him to bed?”

“I know I’m not, and besides, he hasn’t done anything but let me sleep and bring me food! He’s been nothing but a gentleman. You’re overreacting.”

“I would rather overreact than see you get hurt!”

“I’m not a child! You’re being ridiculous!”

Emilia walks out of the room and doesn’t come back. I get where she’s coming from, but...I don’t need protection, least of all from Yoongi. I’m the one having weird thoughts, not him. And I’m not a child! I’ve held my own against him perfectly fine! Why is she treating me like some helpless, naive little girl that needs to be protected from the big, bad wolf?

But...ugh.

I wait to cool off, feeling shitty. I know she’s just worried, and she has every right to be, but ugh.

Emilia comes out of her room and sits down on the couch, looking far more calm than she did a minute ago.

“I’m not being ridiculous,” she starts, and I’m in danger of combusting. I hold my tongue. “Men in your industry can be dangerous.”

“Not Yoongi.”

“Let me finish,” Emilia says, holding up a hand. “I don’t want anything bad to happen to you. You disappeared for almost a day and then I found out you’d been with your boss the whole time. It was scary!”

“Yeah, I know. I should have texted you,” I mutter, guilty. 

“Yes, you should have. I get that you were like, dying or whatever but you were under Yoongi’s care, and he should have at least let someone know. Like your emergency contact.”

Oh, yeah. I guess Emilia is my emergency contact. And yeah, Yoongi should have let her know. Especially after I told him that I stayed in the city with her, and we live together.

I’m sure he just didn’t think about it, since it wasn’t so much an emergency as me just being really tired, but I’m not going to argue that with Emilia. She has every right to be upset. I can’t imagine how much she worried about me while I was gone.

“Sorry, Emilia. For disappearing like that, and getting mad at you. I understand why you’re upset.”

“I’m sorry I yelled at you,” Emilia says. Okay, good. We can make up. I lean over to rest my head on her shoulder. “I shouldn’t have. I’m not trying to treat you like a child, I was just scared. Please don’t scare me like that again.”

“I won’t. I just wasn’t thinking…”

“You hardly ever think,” Emilia says, and we both laugh in a half-hearted sort of way. Emotions are still high, but we’re okay. I still think she’s totally wrong about Yoongi, but there’s no sense arguing about it anymore.

“Only when I absolutely have to.”

“If you trust him, I’ll trust you. Just be careful, okay?”

“Yeah, I will. I promise.”

Emilia hugs me, and I snuggle into her side for a minute to let my adrenaline chill out. As far as fights go, it’s not our worst.

Honestly, our worst fights have all been over dishes.

“By the way, I got you something for Tahoe, darling.”

“You did?”

I sit up to let Emilia stand. She disappears to her room once again, then comes out—doing her runway walk—in the fanciest leather jacket I’ve ever seen. This must be it. The holy grail of coats. The Alejandro McQueen.

“Wow. It’s…”

“Brilliant, isn’t it? Basil said I could have it, and all I have to do is get him coffee for a month.”

Whoa. I need to shake the hand of this Basil person, who’s gifted me a coat that even I’m speechless over.

“I don’t think I’ve ever owned anything this cool in my life.”

“Yes, well, only the best for you,” Emilia says. She sheds the coat and lies it very carefully over the back of the couch. Only then do I notice she has a bag in her hand. “There’s all this, too. I love everything in it to pieces, so pick what you like and I’ll take the rest.”

Which is how we wind out pouring a collection of accessories on the table, neatly boxed and featuring names like Prada and Gucci. I take a huge pair of cat-eye sunglasses, which Emilia says makes me look very Hollywood. Next I pick a rose gold necklace with pearls set in a horizontal bar separated by shiny gems, and Emilia whistles.

“Expensive taste.”

“How much is it?”

“Guess.”

“Uhh…$200.”

“Higher.”

“$400?”

“Higher.” Emilia looks incredulous. Okay, so it’s expensive. Really expensive.

“Six thousand,” I joke.

“Higher.”

I promptly put it down. 

“No, take it. It suits you.”

“How the hell did you get them to let you take all this?”

“Oh, it’s all several seasons behind. No one will even miss them. We get so much free stuff.”

Overnight, my wardrobe is worth more than $10,000. What the hell. Am I dreaming? Do I deserve this? I pick a few more things, and then Emilia boxes them up to start helping me pack for Tahoe.

God damn am I going to look good.

Chapter Text

I wish I could say the conference is half as interesting as I anticipated. Why I thought I would be sitting in on lectures and learning all about the future of music, I have no idea. I’m just an assistant, and assistants keep things running smoothly no matter how wonderful a time they could be having networking and attending panels and generally getting more than one foot half in the door.

Sighhhhh. And that isn’t even the start of it. The whole weekend has been weird so far, and I don’t have any right to complain, but I would really like to just be able to be a part of everything and stress less about Yoongi.

I stayed home on Friday, not because I was still sick, but because Yoongi promised to pick me up at 9:30 for our flight. He also demanded I think very carefully about my wardrobe, ha! Little does he know, I am very prepared.

I wake up at 8:30 to my phone vibrating. The name on the screen is Hoseok, and I’m confused for a second why he’d be calling me.

“Mm...hello? Hobi? Is everything okay?”

“Everything’s fine! Good moooorning, friend! Are you ready for your trip?”

“Yeah, I packed last night.” I yawn, rolling onto my back, smiling. What a sweetheart. “Are you checking on me?”

“Yup yup, I wanted to talk to you before you’re whisked off to Tahoe and I don’t see you for four days!” Hoseok says, and I smile even wider.

“You’ll miss me that much?”

“I miss you all the time!”

“Hehe, I miss my sunshine, too,” I say to Hoseok's giggles.“What are you doing?”

“I’ve been looking up some things to help with the Christmas party. We can talk about it later, if you’re not busy?”

“Mhm, yeah, that’s a huge help. Thanks, Hobi.”

“Make sure you take lots of pictures while you’re in Tahoe! I want to see what you’re doing, okay?”

“Yeah, okay. What should I take pictures of?”

“Anything you want! The scenery, the food, your cute face.”

Wow. Uhh, I’m blushing? “It’s only kind of cute right now. Do you want to see?”

“Hmm! Yeah, I want to see!”

I turn on my video and prop my phone up on my nightstand, rolling onto my side to look at the screen. Hoseok’s face comes into focus a second later; he’s sitting at his desk, wearing glasses and a big headband, and of course, beaming so brightly I should probably shield my eyes.

“See? I have bedhead.”

“Who told you bedhead isn’t cute, friend? They were lying to you.”

“Shush, Hobi.” I yawn, brushing some hair out of my face, only sort of remembering that I fell asleep with just a pair of shorts on. Emilia runs the heat really high. “I bet you talk to all the girls like this.”

“Hehe, maybe, maybe not.” God, his smile is so pretty. “Make sure you eat breakfast, friend! I’ll let you go so you can get ready, but don’t forget the pictures!”

“Okay, okay. I won’t forget. Talk to you later.”

Huh. Hoseok is really too sweet. I totally understand why he’s at the front desk if he’s going to check in on people like this and be so happy to do it. I’m really lucky to have someone so nice in my life. Forget that, Yoongi is lucky Hoseok puts up with him and fills his office with sunshine and smiles.

I grab breakfast and a quick shower, then get dressed and ready to drag my suitcase out to the curb. It’s heavy and full of stuff. I normally pack light, but Emilia insisted on packing my bag full of fancy lotions and hair styling products and even showed me how to get that “beach babe hair” going so I could ‘knock ‘em dead.’ Apparently in addition to the pile of makeup she bought me, she also included a little bottle of Black Opium to wear. It...smells like coffee. I give it a shot, though, hoping it’ll do what it’s supposed to.

I’m outside at 9:15, just in case. Can’t trust Yoongi to not show up early, nor can I trust him to be reasonable about me not waiting for him. I’m in a good mood, rocking back and forth on my heels, enjoying the crisp air. The morning is chilly, and I expect it will be even more so once we’re in the mountains. Thank god for my new coat. Not only am I stylish, I’m warm.

The car that pulls up is a big, black SUV that I don’t recognize, and Yoongi isn’t driving. The back window rolls down and he gestures me in at the same time a man gets out and takes my luggage to stow in the back. Wow, this feels weird. What am I, a celebrity? But I jump in the back with Yoongi, tablet in hand, ready to continue working on the catering mess I still haven’t figured out.

“Did you check in already?”

“Mhm.”

“Okay. I’ll need you to take notes on the flight.” Notes? For what, exactly? 

“Um, I’m in coach.”

“Why?”

Why wouldn’t I be? I had no idea I’m supposed to be booking myself first class travel, and I open my mouth to say so, but Yoongi is already on the phone. He has a short conversation with what I can only assume is customer service, asking—with little room for argument—to upgrade my seat and ensure that we’re placed together.

Damn, first class seat. I’ve only flown once, to move to Palo Alto, and coach was not an experience I was super enthusiastic about repeating.

When Yoongi hangs up, he informs me that I’m to book all of our flights so that we sit together, and I nod with a muted apology. Way to let me know ahead of time! But I can hardly complain. I’m being given some seriously luxe treatment right now, and only an idiot would act ungrateful for it.

“Your jacket,” Yoongi says out of nowhere. “Alejandro McQueen?”

“Mm? Yeah, it is.”

Yoongi leans closer to me and fingers the necklace around my neck, one brow raised. He doesn’t seem especially pleased, for some reason? I’m glad my Prada barrette is on the right side of my hair, where he can’t see it.

“Who’s buying you this stuff?” He picks up the pendant to inspect it more closely, then drops it back against my skin.

“Um. You don’t like it? I can take it off.”

“Who?”

What! Does it matter?! What is with this guy?

“Seriously, I can take it off.” I’m already fumbling with the clasp, my cheeks flushed. It’s really pretty...why don’t I get to just enjoy it?

“Don’t,” Yoongi says, grabbing my elbow to pull my hand away. “You don’t have to tell me. It’s fine.”

It doesn’t sound fine! I wrack my brain for some explanation for his very obvious distaste. Does...does he think I have some dirty money to throw around? Oh my god, does he think I have a sugar daddy? The thought is so ridiculous I laugh. Like, first of all, no? Second of all, none of your business, Yoongi!

“Emilia gave it to me. Are you happy?”

“Yes.”

Why the hell should he care?

“She works for Rogue. It was all free,” I snap, a little beyond irritated. “What does it matter?”

“It doesn’t.”

“Yeah okay, that’s why you almost had an aneurysm over it.”

“Be quiet.”

You be quiet.”

“Brat,” Yoongi hisses. I’m too irritated to take the warning seriously, and turn to glare at him.

“Someone woke up on the pissy side of the bed today, huh?”

“I’m warning you—”

“What are you going to do? Fire me? Go ahead, sir.”

I can see the anger sparkling in his eyes, but I don’t care. I called his bluff once, I can call it again. Yoongi’s jaw clenches, and then he sits back and puts in earbuds, staring out the window.

Ha. I knew it.

We arrive at the airport some fifteen minutes later, and I give the driver an apologetic look for our little spat. He shrugs, putting our bags on the curb, and I go to grab mine and make way to the terminal when Yoongi grabs my wrist and tugs me toward him.

Oh shit, he’s angry. Fuck.

“You listen to me, little girl,” he growls, and I gulp looking up into his eyes. He’s so close our noses are almost touching. His grip hurts. “Don’t you ever talk to me that way again.”

I shiver. What the fuck. There’s a weird feeling in my stomach, maybe nerves? Maybe something else?! I try to pull my arm away, but Yoongi tightens his grip and it’s pointless. I open my mouth to apologize, but nothing comes out but a sigh.

“Do you understand me?”

“Yes,” I whisper. I’ve been far too bold. Please don’t fire me. I was just being a brat. 

“Say ‘I understand, sir.’”

“I understand, sir.”

“I should make you grovel right here,” Yoongi says in a voice that makes me shiver more. Oh no. This is...hot? Fuck! “What would you think of that?”

“Please—I’m sorry.”

“You aren’t, but you will be.”

Fuck!!

I’m still reeling when we board the plane, trying to keep as low a profile as possible My boss just went dom mode on me, in the middle of terminal drop-off, and I am actually not bothered by it. No, I’m bothered by it, just not in the way I would expect. Flustered. Breathing kind of hard. There’s no way he did that on accident, is there?

I peek at Yoongi as he settles down in his seat. Totally normal looking. Nothing to indicate he wasn’t just super mad. God, I can’t start projecting my dirty nonsense on him. I’ll drive myself crazy.

“So what am I taking notes on?” Hopefully a semblance of our much earlier conversation will bring things back to normal. That’s just wishful thinking, though. Yoongi regards me with complete disinterest.

“I changed my mind. Just be quiet.”

Oof. I really fucked up, didn’t I? I look forward and try not to make a sound, not even with my breathing. We’ll land, later, and he’ll be fine and we’ll be fine. Maybe I can make it up to him somehow.

Or not. Yoongi is totally silent when we check into the hotel, which is surrounded by mountains and the lake and lush greenery, but I can’t even enjoy it. I’m feeling smaller and smaller as we go. I’m seriously ready to hide in a closet to escape this weird feeling—like, I’ve totally let him down, right? And I’m being punished. I know it, or at least it definitely feels like it.

I hate this.

To make matters worse, when we arrive at our room…

Well, it’s perfect. There’s a big stone fireplace with cushy armchairs and blankets, a small kitchenette, and.

One bed.

Fuck me. I definitely got confirmation that we had two beds, how could this even happen. I flounder under Yoongi’s gaze, and I can’t take it anymore. Hot tears roll down my cheeks and I try my damnedest to explain that I called the front desk, and I’m really sorry, I’ll go down and sort it out, I’ll sleep on the floor—

“Relax. It’s fine,” Yoongi says, back to his usual monotone. I hiccup, pleading with my eyes for forgiveness, and he blanches a little. “Seriously, it’s okay. Don’t cry, it’s okay.”

Why do I have to fall apart? I was so excited this morning—Tahoe, my new jacket, the jewelry, the conference. Hoseok even called me to see me off! Now I’m crying and I can’t stop, I fucked everything up with my stupid mouth.

“Come on,” Yoongi says, taking me by the shoulder and steering me to an armchair to sit. He puts a blanket around my shoulders and crouched down in front of me looking uncharacteristically gentle. “It’s just a mixup. I’ll call the front desk and see what they can do. You don’t need to cry over a room.”

I nod, wiping my tears. He’s right. We can fix it. He scolded me, but he’s not mad anymore. It’s going to be fine.

“There you go. It was just a tense morning, okay? We’re okay. We can order room service and relax.”

Again, I nod. It was pretty tense, huh? Yoongi squeezes my thigh and tucks a lock of hair behind my ear, his hand lingering there just a few seconds too long.

“I’ll be right back. Call if you need me.”

I still can’t talk, so I touch his shoulder for a brief second. He gets up to go call the front desk, and I curl up to tune out the conversation and try to calm down. Am I being dramatic? I can’t tell. Yoongi was so cold this morning, but didn’t I deserve at least a little of it?

And didn’t I sort of like it, for some weird reason, before the silent treatment?

I look out the window to where snow-capped mountains rise to the sky in the distance, still sniffling. I can hear Yoongi’s deep voice in the background, ever the professional tone. The room is warm and luxe, just like the rest of the trip has been. What a dream...this is my life now. Working for Yoongi, getting to come to a huge music conference, stay in a luxury retreat.

Alright. I have to pull it together. I dab my eyes again, take a deep breath, and get up to fold the blanket and drape it back over the chair. I pass by the door to the single bedroom, catching Yoongi stretched out on the bed with his legs dangling over the side. He’s not on the phone anymore.

“Hey,” I say. My voice is still weak, but I go to sit on the bed. Damn, it’s comfortable. “What’s up?”

“The person you talked to charged us for a different room but didn’t actually put the change in,” Yoongi says. Shit. “They can’t move us anywhere else, they’re full until the end of the week.”

“Oh.”

Well...at least it’s not my fault.

“They’re out of cots as well.”

“Oh. So what does that mean?”

Yoongi looks at me with a wry expression. “We have to share. I’m not sleeping on the floor, so unless you’d like to.”

“No, that’s fine. I’ll sleep on the floor,” I say vaguely. Better than sleeping outside. “Just give me a pillow. I’ll be fine.”

“I wasn’t being serious. You’re not sleeping on the floor.”

But...that would mean sharing a bed.

Oh, does that even matter? We’re both adults and it’s a freaking California king. 

“Yeah, okay. I’m not a light sleeper, so short of you being kicky in your sleep, it should be fine.”

“I don’t kick that I’m aware of.”

“Good. Me either.”

And I flop back to lie beside him, staring at the ceiling and feeling like I’ve been awake for weeks. I wish I could be alone to sort out these feelings I’m having—excitement, nerves, stress, confusion. A not-insignificant around of hurt, to be honest.

“We should head out now if we want food before midnight. The waits are going to be horrendous.”

“What time is it?”

“Just about noon.”

“Oh, okay. We have a reservation at 12:30 in the restaurant downstairs, so don’t worry about it.”

“We do?”

“Yeah? What, did you think I wouldn’t schedule meals?”

Yoongi is quiet. I roll my head to the side, and our eyes meet.

“It hadn’t crossed my mind.”

“That’s what I’m here for, Yoongi.”

“Yeah.”

There’s something on his mind, I can tell, but I can’t figure it out just from looking. I’m so lost in thought I jump when I feel his fingers brush against my wrist. Uhh.

“I’m glad I hired you.”

Oh. I beam then, a little less brightly than I normally would, but I appreciate it nonetheless.

“Me too. You need a brat in your life.”

Yoongi laughs, nods, and resumes gazing at me quietly. Just what is he thinking?

“There’s a closet where you can hang up your coat.”

Oh. Right. That makes sense. Who lies around in a fancy coat? No one.

By the time we’re finished with lunch, I’m feeling mostly better. I set up shop in front of the fireplace and call around different caterers for prices and menus, hoping to find something with a decent vegetarian menu. I mark down my last few options, feeling like I’ve talked myself hoarse, and check Slackr for the first time in a few days.

 

☀️Hobi Hobi☀️

check this out! [link]

 

I tap the link, which brings up a page for a street art workshop for corporate events. Ooh. That’s super cool!

 

Seventeen✨

hobi!!!!!!!

this is amazing!!!!!!!!!

youre the best omg

what would i do without you

 

☀️Hobi Hobi☀️

lolol you would be fine without me

you made it ok?

 

Seventeen✨

yeaeh

yeah*

i made it

hows work been

 

☀️Hobi Hobi☀️

lame

i didnt get to greet you this morning

so lonely

so sad

 

Seventeen✨

lolollol

you got to greet me before anyone else 

 

☀️Hobi Hobi☀️

looool yeah

i felt bad for waking you up when i saw how cute you looked

 

Seventeen✨

nooooo

stopppppp

dont call me that

youll embarrass me

 

☀️Hobi Hobi☀️

now i have to tell you again

you’re cute!

💖

 

Seventeen✨

jafaiwjgajdskf

 

☀️Hobi Hobi☀️

loooooooool

g2g for now

namjoon has guests coming 💀

 

💖?? I tilt my head, looking at it.  What’s with the insistence that I’m cute today? Then again, Hoseok likes to pinch Jungkook and Jimin’s cheeks and tell them they’re cute all the time. And he’s definitely been spotted hanging off Yoongi’s shoulders a couple of times, teasing him the same way he just teased me.

Hoseok is just really good at making people feel good, I guess. I am sleepy, though. I get up to go find Yoongi and ask him if I can take a break, only to find him fast asleep in bed.

If he’s doing it, I can do it. I climb on the opposite side of the bed, snuggle under the covers, and close my eyes.

Argh! My thoughts are racing too much for me to even approach sleep. Onto plan B, which is now Operation: Go Clear My Head.

Sure would be nice if Yoongi had picked another day to mess me up like this.

Coat on, hair brushed, I head outside for a walk. Walks are good—I can listen to music and look at the scenery and think about trees. Nothing dramatic about trees! Trees pretty. Mountains pretty. Lake pretty! The trail is pretty empty, which means I get to sit on some rocks and look out over the water while I think about the sudden 180s that have happened today thanks to the Boss Man.

Actually...it’s pretty chilly. I go to a coffee shop instead and order a latte, and I sit there, in the warmth to think.

I must look silly, sipping my latte and staring at nothing with earbuds in and my music cranked up. I’m probably spinning my wheels when I could be getting something useful done, but there’s no denying that something has changed between Yoongi and I. Our relationship doesn’t feel strictly professional, not with the wrist touching and hair tucking and gentle comfort. 

Yoongi Min, what do you want from me?!

Instead of heading back to the resort, I order more coffee and a few pastries to help myself muddle through my thoughts. Maybe Yoongi is really affectionate? Maybe he was only nice because he realized he made me feel so bad. There are a lot of logical explanations, and sticking to one of them helps me feel more sane than trying to twist his actions some other way. Two weeks ago I couldn’t stand this guy and we fought and bickered and he’s definitely made me cry more than any one person should have the right to.

I’ll go crazy trying to chase this around in circles. As I finish the last dregs of my coffee, I make up my mind. No more worrying about what anything means. It’s probably nothing more than Yoongi feeling bad for making me feel bad. That’s it. Reading into it any deeper will just drive me crazy. As if Yoongi doesn’t drive me crazy enough just by existing. The best I can do is take it as it comes and not project my silly little crush on someone who is so obviously—at the very least—involved with Lucie Mercier in some kind of sexual relationship (💦💋??!!!) and therefore wouldn’t be looking. Of course.

When I think of it that way, it’s much easier to process, and I walk back to the hotel with the sky rapidly blooming bright gold and pink, purple, orange. The colors reflect off the lake and the whole scene is idyllic I stop to snap a couple of pictures to send to Hoseok. My new phone takes stupid good pictures, too, damn. I’m really into this whole ‘free Appele products’ life, and walk along the beach spinning around and taking pictures for every angle just because I can.

 

Yoongi 💀

Stay where you are.

 

Yaaaa, Yoongi, you can’t stop me! I look around, wondering if he’s nearby, but I don’t see him. How will he know if I ignore him?

I decidedly do not stay where I am, instead climbing up onto some rocks so I can stand high over the beach. This feels like a good spot to do yoga or something, aside from the very painful death I would experience if I were to fall. I decide to try out a tree pose, just because, why not?

Actually, that feels good. All the activity is warming me up, so I take off my jacket and stretch, extremely conscious at all times of where my feet are and how solidly I’m on the ground. No breaking faces today! Even mother nature can’t topple me!

Yeah, I’m feeling good. Finally. Talking to Hoseok, getting away from Yoongi, being in nature, doing what I want to do is really helpful, it turns out.

“You really are a brat, you know.”

HOLY SHIT, YOONGI!

“Are you stalking me?”

“I want coffee.” Yoongi gestures in the direction I just came from. “I told you not to move.”

“Well, I did. So there.”

“Come down here and say that to my face.”

“I’m okay up here, but thank you.”

“If you’re going to do yoga, you would be safer on the ground.”

“I’m fine up here,” I shrug, and switch to chair pose. Just because I can, and telling Yoongi  is becoming a guilty pleasure of mine. My legs shake a little, and I slip—just a little. “Okay, yeah, ground is good.”

“Good girl,” Yoongi says. He reaches up to help me down, and I take his hand so I can jump down to the sand without falling over, because that would be my luck.

“Am I a good girl, or am I a brat? You’re really giving me mixed messages, sir.”

“A little bit of both,” Yoongi admits, but he turns away a second later. “I’m going. Text me our dinner plans.”

Dinner, right. Is it already that late? According to my phone, it is—though I suppose I could have guessed from the setting sun. 

 

To Yoongi 💀

the sages @ 7

sharp

you better look nicer than you do right now

 

Yoongi 💀

What are you going to do when I shut that mouth of yours?

 

To Yoongi 💀

you can try lololol

 

Fuck it, okay? If he’s going to say borderline sexual things, I’m going to hand it right back. Not my fault if he’s too dense to even understand what this conversation, or any of our recent interactions, look like.

The only response I get is a picture. One Yoongi apparently snapped of me while I was doing half-assed yoga on a pile of rocks, and wow, do I look cool silhouetted by mountains and sky. I save it and send it to Emilia, who responds in about two seconds flat.

 

Emilia 👠💕

GET THE ALEJANDRO MCQUEEN OFF THE GROUND U CRETIN

 

Oh.

Whoops.

Chapter Text

So, about that conference, huh? 

I got sidelined pretty instantly. My job during the networking breakfast was to follow Yoongi around and listen to him talk to other giants in the industry about A&R and 3 Point. The question on everyone’s mind is, when is Yoongi Min going to hold a lecture about A&R? Yoongi is a genius, I knew that, but it’s so cool to see that he’s regarded so highly in the industry. From what I’m gathering, and there’s no one that isn’t dead set on him getting a time slot next year to share his tips and tricks for creating the most successful acts in modern music history.

I get introduced to all sorts of people—thankfully not as Seventeen—and my head is spinning by the time the first keynote of the day begins. I make to go inside behind Yoongi, but he informs me that I’ll need to have preparations for the Christmas party finished EOD.

Sigh.

Spoiler alert, I don’t. I have a catering company booked, but I spend most of the day going back and forth with Hoseok on how best to have the street art workshop while the party rages on. We decide that having demonstrators on for the entire night is the best option, nix the hip-hop workshop, and reach out to DJs in hopes of snagging one before the end of the day.

We don’t. It’s Saturday, and our emails go answered. Not a huge surprise, but I’m not looking forward to explaining to Yoongi that no one works on Saturday so he’ll just have to be patient. Midway through the day, Yoongi gives me permission to go work from our suite, being as all the hubbub is distracting and there’s nothing he needs me to be there for, not explicitly.

What a bummer.

At 3, I get a text that Yoongi is going to an important dinner and he needs such and such outfit ready for him to change into. I dig it out of his suitcase, horrified to find it wrinkled, and send it to be steamed by the hotel staff while I eat an order of fries for a late lunch, basically frazzled as hell with no end to unanswered emails in sight.

It’s really too bad we didn’t bring Holly with us. He’s staying with Yoongi’s brother, and this being completely alone while working in a remote destination thing isn’t nearly as exciting as I thought it would be. I pass time between chatting with Hoseok, going for walks, and splurging on pastries, but even that gets old.

Seventeen ✨

hobiiiiii help me

i want to go to the conference

make yoongi be nice to meeeeee

 

☀️Hobi Hobi☀️

ask nicely and see what he says

 

Seventeen ✨

WHO LET YOU OUT OF YOUR TOWER

WHY ISNT THE DJ BOOKED YET

NO DINNER FOR YOU, STUPID GIRL

 

☀️Hobi Hobi☀️

lololololol

yeah

you sound just like him

scary 👹

 

Seventeen ✨

i’m going to go crazy 

what was the point of packing prada and stuff if i don’t even get to wear it

 

☀️Hobi Hobi☀️

poor thing

sneak in!!!!

he’ll never know lolololol

you should be having fun too

 

Seventeen ✨

i just might

i’ll find some other rich executive and run away to be his servant girl

that would serve him right 💀

 

☀️Hobi Hobi☀️

lololol if you want to be a servant girl i have an opening lololol

i have so many chores today lololol

😘

seriously though

if you’re going to be staying there you might as well have fun

go to the spa, get some food

is the food good?

I send over some pictures: sweet potato gnocchi with browned sage butter, braised pork belly with strawberry compote, scallops poached in champagne, a steak with gruyere potatoes au gratin, and the crowning glory—toasted pound cake with strawberries caramelized in Grand Marnier.

☀️Hobi Hobi☀️

whoaaaa

waahhhhhh

bring me next time!

 

Seventeen ✨

okay!! definitely!!!! i need some sunshine on this trip lolol

 

☀️Hobi Hobi☀️

😍😍😍

 

Seventeen ✨

hey, hobi…

i’ve actually been wondering something

 

☀️Hobi Hobi☀️

what’s up

 

Seventeen ✨

is yoongi usually like

extremely temperamental

 

☀️Hobi Hobi☀️

what do you mean lolol he’s always cranky

 

Seventeen ✨

does he normally threaten his employees

 

☀️Hobi Hobi☀️

😵😵😵

what do you mean

 

Seventeen ✨

well uhhhhhhh

he got REALLY mad at me yesterday and said he was going to MAKE me sorry

then he gave me the silent treatment for hours

it sucked

and then!

when we got to the hotel room i started crying and he put me in a chair and covered me with a blanket and said it was okay?!?!?

like a complete 180

wtf

he was such a jerk and then he was sooooo nice

 

☀️Hobi Hobi☀️

idk that sounds like yoongi to me lololol

he actually does feel bad when he makes girls cry

surprising i know lololol

i wouldn’t worry too much about it

I leave out the part about Yoongi grabbing my wrist and telling me he was going to shut my mouth. I have a feeling those are things that are meant to be kept between us, and I know that Yoongi has definitely crossed some lines. I don’t have any evidence that it’s for any reason other than him being an entitled, rich baby, but I can kind of understand where Emilia was coming from the other day. If, hypothetically, Yoongi was up to something—which he isn’t—I would basically be at his mercy. And if I didn’t, hypothetically, have an interest, it would be. Well, problematic.

The situation is complicated, huh. 

Seventeen ✨

can we keep this between you and me

 

☀️Hobi Hobi☀️

??? sure

 

Seventeen ✨

has he ever like

y’know

hooked up with an employee

or anything

 

☀️Hobi Hobi☀️

…?!

i’m worried why you’re asking

is he hitting on you/

?

 

Seventeen ✨

no!

lol no, jesus

 

☀️Hobi Hobi☀️

don’t SCARE me like that

i thought i was going to have to kick his ass

 

Seventeen ✨

he just like

pet my hair when i was crying and it confused me

you can kick his ass anyway

 

☀️Hobi Hobi☀️

i told you he’s a nice guy deep down

i wouldn’t read anything into it

yoongi hasn’t seriously dated since lucie

much less at the office 

💀

 

Seventeen ✨

phew ok

that makes me feel better

he’s really good at 180s lololol

i g2g though i’m going to lose my mind if i don’t get some fresh air

 

☀️Hobi Hobi☀️

bye friend

come back soon

💖

 

Again with the hearts. Geez Hoseok, careful! You’ll give a girl a heart attack.

Okay! So! There’s some confirmation that I’m just reading way too much into it. If anyone would know about Yoongi’s dating habits, it’s definitely Hoseok. I can relax for real this time.

You know what, I think I will go to the spa. Maybe I don’t get to mingle with the superstars of the music world, but I can certainly relax like one. And with everyone in Tahoe at said conference, the spa has an open spot immediately for whatever treatment I want.

You know, I’ve never been to a spa. I have no idea what I want. A massage seems like a good start, and I explain that to the adorable little lady at the front desk. She recommends a package so I can try a little of everything, and I, a person who is totally not a pushover, agree to their signature service: body polish, a wrap, a facial, and a massage.

Turns out wandering around in only a robe is kind of weird. The pre-shower is nice, with fancy soaps, but I’m not sure how I’m going to handle being in my birthday suit around strangers. I test out the different little pools in the waiting area; one of them is cold, the other is hot, I don’t know what that’s for. Someone brings me a hibiscus drink of some kind with an actual hibiscus in it, and then I’m tipsy—why is it so strong—and I don’t care about anything anymore. Hey world, look at me in all of my naked glory. This is true freedom.

A woman shuffles in and whispers in my ear while I’m relaxing in the hot tub that she recommends using the sauna before exfoliating to open up my pores. Great! Sounds awesome! I do exactly that, only taking my robe so I don’t sit my bare butt on hot wood. And lord, do I sweat. It’s kind of gross, actually. How does my body even hold this much moisture? Bodies are weird. If I sat in here for a whole day, I'd probably shrivel up like a raisin, devoid of any moisture whatsoever. I'd probably also be dead!

That thought is put on hold. It’s time. I’m led to a tiled room with a table in the middle and a weird sort of triple faucet over top. This is exciting. The room smells like jasmine and orange, there are flowers and soft music and dim light, and I am ready to relax.

All in all, the whole experience is strange. The scrub hurts a little, and I get scrubbed in places I forgot existed on my body, and hard. The hydrating seaweed wrap that comes next is soothing on my angry skin, then I discover facials are amazing, and that while massages are beautiful, scalp massages might just be the equivalent of heaven on earth. I find the whole immersion into the uber-quiet, zen atmosphere a little difficult; to be honest, I don’t feel like I belong in a place like this, and definitely don’t feel like all these nice women should be attending to me. That’s weird, right! It’s already weird when hairdressers wash your hair for you, like, please do not serve me like this ha ha ha ha—

Anyway. I’m all polished, now, and I have at least one little black dress I can wear. Maybe I can take a Muber out to a bar and mingle with some people or something while Yoongi is off doing his thing. My skin is still giving off the scent of flowery oranges, which is probably not the worst thing I could smell like. Maybe I can get out some of my recent frustrations and make out with someone cute. It has been a while, and Yoongi won’t be delivering.

Not that I really want that? Probably? I mean, he’s my boss. I need to take my mind off it so I can just shove things back to the Normal Zone.

When I get back to the room, the dry cleaning tag is on the table with no clothes to be seen. Huh. I guess Yoongi came back and changed. I’m kind of glad he isn’t here—I don’t want to explain where I disappeared to for hours, especially not after downing two of those hibiscus drinks after my session was over. I am drunk. I don't need a repeat of our first phone call.

The little black dress really is little, showing off way more than I thought it would. I decide to tone it down with a pair of over-the-knee boots; I’m not just giving away the goods to whoever wants to look at them. After a quick adjustment to my hair, and some really light makeup, I’m ready to go. I’m going to have fun too. I’m going to go out and experience life!

The door to the room opens just as I’m about to get my jacket from the front closet. Boozy-smelling, not standing upright, and disheveled, Yoongi come in and halts to look at me. The door closes behind him, loudly. He’s blocking the closet.

And? His eyes are burning into me, sparkling dangerously.

“Where are you going?” He asks. He’s slurring a lot, so he’s probably pretty drunk. I raise a brow at the demanding tone of his voice.

“Out, why?”

“Looking for what, exactly?”

Ohhhh, don’t you dare Yoongi Min. Don’t you dare say it!

“Fun? I’ve been stuck working here all day. Can I get my coat?”

“Sure, sure,” Yoongi moves aside, making no effort to hide the fact that he’s looking me up and down. Ugghhh, what! My outfit isn’t that revealing!

I don’t notice it at first, that Yoongi moves. One moment my hand is on the doorknob, the next I have two arms on either side of me, effectively holding the door shut and keeping me in place.

O...kay. I rotate in the small space I have to come face to face with Yoongi.

“Sir?”

“You look good.”

“Thanks.”

“What are you going out to find?”

Oh hell no. I am not about to get lectured on my outfit by my boss, of all people. I square my jaw and stare him down in return. “Wouldn’t you like to know.”

“You—” Yoongi fumbles a little, looking down. I’m very aware of what he’s looking at, and I move my arm up to cover my chest. “You’re not coming back tonight, then?”

“Maybe I’m not,” I answer coolly.

“Unacceptable,” Yoongi mutters. He grabs my wrist and pins it to the door, leaving me exposed again. “Why would you even pack this. We’re on a business trip.”

“Excuse me, I don’t recall you informing me that I have a dress code to follow.”

My chest is rising and falling rapidly. I try to pull my arm away, but Yoongi doubles down and leans so close I can feel his hair tickle my forehead.

“Is that the kind of girl you are? You like to make people look at you?”

“So what if I do? It’s none of your business.”

“People will get ideas.”

“Maybe I want them to, sir. Maybe I plan on riding every dick in Tahoe before I come back.”

Something changes in Yoongi’s expression—his eyes widen, and he licks his lips, grinning without a trace of warmth.

“You—” Again, he fumbles. He really is drunk, isn’t he? “Change.”

“Do I have to? Sir?”

“Yes.”

“Let me go, then.”

My wrist is freed, but I’m still stuck—Yoongi puts his hand back on the door, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I should definitely read into this. I reach behind myself and start tugging on the zipper of my dress. Yoongi is breathing hard, too. We could…we might…

My dress falls down, off my shoulders, just enough that if Yoongi were to look down, he would see a lot more than he did before—like my bra, which leaves nothing to the imagination as it’s mostly sheer and lace. This must be the leftover alcohol in my system, because I may be bold, but I’ve never been this bold.

Yoongi doesn’t look down, but I can tell he’s struggling with that.

Good.

Suffer.

“Do you dislike it, sir? Thinking about some random guy fucking me?”

I hate it,” Yoongi growls, and his eyes narrow into slits. “No one else gets to see this. This is mine.”

“I didn’t agree to that. I’m just your assistant.” I look at him with wide, innocent eyes.

“Agree to it.”

“No.”

In a second, Yoongi’s hand is on my face. He squeezes my jaw and forces me to look up. “You drive me insane.”

“The feeling is mutual.” It comes out muffled; my lips are pushed together, and my jaw aches. “You’re cute when you’re jealous.”

“I’m not jealous.”

“Liar. Would you rather be the one I’m dressing up for?” Yoongi says nothing. “Do you want to meet me in a bar and take me home?”

“Shut up,” Yoongi whispers. He’s breathing harder now, and forces my head to the side. “I’m going to make you regret messing with me.”

“Ghh—ow, Yoongi—”

“You think this hurts? Wait until I’m done with you. This is nothing.

“You can’t scare me,” I try to sound unbothered, but I’m losing my ability to do that. I sound extremely bothered. With my head angled this way, I have no idea what he’s looking at, what he’s thinking. I feel so vulnerable.

“No? Are you sure?”

“Positive,” I say. I’m totally in over my head. I can feel Yoongi’s breath on my ear, and I shiver imagining what he’s about to do.

“Be back by 10. You’re not fucking anyone tonight.”

And like a switch was flipped, Yoongi lets go of me and goes to the bedroom, shutting the door behind him. What the fuck? What the fuck!

I pull my dress back on and zip myself up, then get into my jacket and leave in a huff. Like hell he’s going to wind me up and tell me I can’t do anything about it! I didn’t plan on actually riding anything, but now I’m not coming home until I fuck someone just to spite him.

In actuality, I come back to the hotel at 10:45, sloshed but just as much in a dry spell as I was when I left. I flirted, got numbers, free drinks, and even made out a little with someone who was cute as hell, but. Yoongi told me no.

I don’t know why I should follow his orders, but I do. I just wasn’t that into it. I couldn’t get Yoongi out of my head, and in my drunk brain, I tell myself I’ll jump Yoongi when I get back and that will be that.

What I don’t factor into this plan is that it’s almost an hour past when Yoongi told me to come back. I let myself in, quiet, and intend on hanging up my jacket—which I do—and taking a shower. I’ll sober up, go to bed, spend my day off sleeping and watching Netflix or something since I obviously can’t go to the conference hungover.

The light is off in the bedroom. Yoongi is probably sleeping. Score.

I sneak by the bed and into the bathroom, taking my time in a steaming hot shower, washing the grit of the bar and someone else’s hands off my body. Good game, self. I made it back late and my boss has no idea!

And, hmm. I’m alone, and still wound up. Surely it’s no big deal if I handle myself while I have the chance? Drunk me thinks this is a great idea; I get to work letting off some steam, wash my hands, put on a bathrobe, and then duck back into the room to get in bed.

“What were you doing in there?”

Yoongi is sitting on the bed, definitely not sleeping, but awash with the dim light of the lamp. I shrivel. God dammit, I woke him up.

“Showering.”

“I could hear you moaning.”

I blush. What? How?! I thought I was quiet!

“I don’t know what you're talking about.”

“You know exactly what the fuck I'm talking about,” Yoongi spits, and he sounds actually mad. Me? I'm beet red, looking anywhere but at his face. He. He heard me, while I was—fuck, how humiliating. “What time did you get back?”

“10, like you said.”

“Do I look like an idiot?”

Fuuuuck.

“10…45.”

“Are you incapable of following directions?” Yoongi gets to his feet and comes closer, but he doesn’t crowd me or touch me.

“Just absurd ones.”

“You’re my assistant, you follow my rules. Get in bed, now. I’ll deal with you in the morning.”

Okay! I scurry around the bed and climb in, to hell with putting on pajamas or anything else. Yoongi turns out the light and it’s silent. 

I fidget. Yoongi is mad. I don’t know if I can handle staying up feeling the same as I did on the trip over here, but I’m too scared to say anything, even still drunk.

Time passes slowly. I open my mouth about fifty times to say something, then close it. The room stays silent, and I know Yoongi isn’t sleeping, but he’s not talking either. It’s going to drive me insane.

“…Sir?”

“Hm?”

“Do you hate me?”

Silence.

Ugh. I’m gonna be sick. Please say something, Yoongi.

Please.

“No, I don’t hate you. Good night.”

Chapter Text

You’re lying on top of me. You don’t know it yet. You’re still lost in dreams, unaware that your hand is tangled under my shirt or that you’re drooling on my chest. You don’t know that I’ve had a boner since I woke up, or that I’m watching you sleep like a creepy asshole, lost in thought.

By now, I know you’re aware that the line of professionalism has been crossed. Why don’t you tell me to fuck off? I’ve been pushing you further and further, getting stupid and possessive. I have no right.

This isn’t how I wanted things to go. I’m better than harassing my own employee, making demands like “change your clothes” and “you’re not allowed to have sex with anyone else, because you’re mine.” The latter is especially absurd. I should let you go out and have fun. I should let you fuck someone else if that’s what you want. 

Why don’t you tell me to fuck off? 

I already know the answer to that. You don’t want me to. I see the way you look at me. Defiant, unafraid. I know I’m not the only one who feels whatever is between us. I just don’t know what to do about it! I know what I want to do, but it’s so inappropriate that I haven’t been able to bring myself to put both feet over the line. I can’t. I shouldn’t.

I’m going to. After hearing you finger yourself last night with nothing but a door between us, how can I not? Did you do it on purpose? Did you hope I was listening to you get off, going crazy wondering what you were thinking about? You might be an even bigger brat than I thought you were. I thought I had you wrapped around my finger, but I know now that it’s the opposite. You’re toying with me, and I fell right into this trap you’ve spun. Pathetic.

You shift in your sleep, mumbling something. Gibberish, most likely. You’re so cute. I want so many forbidden things, and I would have had the power to resist if you hadn’t done this. I can feel your tits pressed into my side, your leg draped over my thighs, and I’m going to lose my mind with the warmth of your body pressed this close to mine. I’m going to break the one rule it’s absolutely unacceptable to break.

Tell me to fuck off. Tell me I’m an asshole that’s crossing too many lines, and you don’t want this, you don’t want me. I’ll be better off if you do. I don’t know how to give you what you deserve. I have no fucking idea.

I don’t think you will, though. I think you’ll do whatever I want you to, because I know deep down you’re a helper. You like to please, even if you’re a spitfire that thinks she won’t take orders from anyone, least of all me. I’ve tried so fucking hard to be the kind of guy that makes a girl like you run away, hate me, push me away and never look back, but you won’t. What am I supposed to do?

“Mmn, Yoongi…” Your voice is so soft and sleepy when you snuggle closer. Your eyes don’t even open. You haven’t realized it yet. “Sss’cold.”

Wordless, I pull the blanket further over you. I don’t want you to wake up. I need to do the right thing and get the fuck out of bed, let you sleep off your hangover thinking I’m gone and you rolled over to fill the empty space. It would be fine. It’s better for both of us.

But I don’t do anything, other than hesitantly touch your hair. Like a fucking schoolboy afraid of getting caught. It’s soft. I brush it away from your face to look over your features as your breathing evens out and you fall back into a doze. Your lips are parted and I wonder what it would feel like to finally just kiss you like I’ve wanted to since the day you fumbled over your ripped tights like you thought I was asking you to strip in front of me. You would have done it, too, if I had asked. I wanted to. I wanted to shove you over my desk and fuck you incoherent.

But no. Not on the first day. Back then, I thought “not ever.” I have self-control. At least I thought I did. Not so much now, because my hand is wandering. Your skin is soft, too. Every time you inhale, your breasts push even more into my side and it does nothing to help my stubborn dick calm the hell down. As soon as you’re awake, I’m going to make you mine. I breathe hard, thinking about how your eyes light up when you challenge me, and how you think I don’t notice when you’re thinking about kissing me, or something else. That day in my apartment? Yeah, I fucking knew. You’re so fucking obvious, it drives me crazy.

I should have given in then. Do you have any idea what you were looking at me like? But I didn’t! Because I’m a good guy, I swear to god I’m not getting off on teasing you and shit. I just lose my cool. Who wouldn't? But then you pulled that little stunt last night, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you want this, too.

Just wake up already. I’m sick of being the good guy.

Chapter Text

I wake up with surprisingly little grogginess, considering I passed out after 11 and I was pretty damn drunk. I can’t remember much of the previous night...did Yoongi and I bicker again? I have a nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach when I think about him, and I wonder what for. It really doesn’t bode well for my day.

It’s so warm under the covers I don’t want to get up. I snuggle up to the pillows strewn by my side, then frown. Pillows aren’t usually this solid. Or warm.

And they don’t usually breathe, or smell like so aggressively manly.

Oh, shit. What happened? What did we do?! I was so sure we fell asleep on our own sides of the bed! Far apart! NOT TOUCHING!

Maybe if I’m careful, I can roll away and he won’t wake up. No one has to know about this but me.

Nope. His arm is around me, and I’m not so much cuddled against him as I am half lying on top of him. His chest is rising and falling under my cheek. And that’s not all.

Fingers are in my hair. Moving, petting fingers that scratch my scalp and make me shiver. Silently panicking, I try to remember what happened last night. Did we sleep together? No way, right? I’m pretty sure I would remember Yoongi banging me! At least a little!

Memories hit me like a truck a second later. I die from embarrassment. What the hell was I thinking?! Teasing him like that, and running my mouth all over again, purposely trying to piss him off.

Oh yeah, and SHOWING HIM MY TITS!!!!

AAAA.

There’s no way I’ll ever live this down. I have to move to another country and change my identity immediately. Goodbye Yoongi, I’m sorry it has to be like this.

Okay, I have to breathe. I can fix this. I can say I was drunk (being drunk isn’t an excuse though?!?!?) and grovel and let him yell at me. It’s fine. I just have to come up with a plan, something that will show me in a pitiable light. Fuck it, I’ll beg. I’ll do anything he wants.

While I’m having this internal meltdown, Yoongi’s fingers trail down to stroke along my jaw. They’re under my chin. Fuck fuck fuck. He pushes my chin to tilt my head back, and I’m met with his intense, dark brown eyes and no trace of a smile.

“Are you finished?”

“Hh—wha?”

“Freaking out. Are you finished?”

No? No! Is there a time limit?! Let me figure at least one thing out first, Yoongi!

“Too bad.”

I want to protest, but I can’t. What would I even say? Moreover, what would I even be protes—

My thoughts are cut abruptly short. Yoongi’s scent invades my senses and I realize belatedly that he’s kissing me. Gently, and sweetly. I flounder for a few seconds, then tentatively press my lips against his.

Oh my god. He’s kissing me, and I’m kissing back. We’re cuddled up together in bed in Tahoe on a business trip and we’re kissing.

I burst into tears.

“You—absolute—asshole!” I yell into Yoongi’s shocked face, sitting up to shove him. He doesn’t go anywhere, because he’s laying down, but it’s the principle of the thing! “Screw you! Don’t you dare try to play nice with me after how you acted last night!”

“H-hey—!”

“Who do you think you are!” I pick up a pillow and hit him with it. “I’m not your play toy, Yoongi Min!” I hit him again, then again, and push myself away sit back on my heels to glare at him with a pillow between us like a shield.

“I’m sorry. I was a jerk last night, I—”

“I should tell Namjoon the shit you’ve pulled!” Yoongi pales. “It would serve you right!”

“Hey—”

“Don’t ‘hey’ me, Mister! How would you like it if I embarrassed you in front of an entire airport terminal, or told you how to dress because you look like a slut?!” I throw the pillow at him, now. He pushes it away, looking nervous. Like he’s waiting for me to blow up more. I have half a mind to leave and let him sweat. He doesn’t know I won’t tell Namjoon, and he definitely doesn’t know the dirty thoughts I’ve been having about him as of late or that I was actually kind of (really?) into it. It really would serve him right to suffer.

That’s not what I do, though. I lean down and kiss him, hard. Hard enough to show him he can’t just jerk me around because he wants to.

Hard enough to let him know he’s not the only one that wants it.

“If you ever give me the silent treatment again, we’re done.

“Okay. Deal.”

All semblance of gentleness disappears when Yoongi pulls me down to crush his mouth against mine, and I melt. Is Hoseok sure that Yoongi doesn’t date? The way he kisses has me shivering—with little swipes of his tongue across the seam of my mouth and aggressive bites that make my bottom lip tingle. There’s no way he doesn’t know exactly what he’s doing. I’m the one who’s at sea. I try to keep up as best as I can, but he’s so expertly coaxing me into him that my head is swimming and I’m sure I won’t be able to take it much longer.

Not until I feel my bathrobe fall down my back do I realize that that’s all I was wearing. I whine against Yoongi’s mouth, freezing up—it's embarrassing, being exposed like this. Embarrassing and hot. The feral side of my brain is screaming “hell yes,” conjuring images of Yoongi over me, pushing into me, fixing me with his gaze as we climb higher and higher together.

The sane side of me, however, is totally unsure what to do. I have experience. Some experience. I’ve never gotten totally naked with someone, never let someone actually touch me without a barrier of fabric, and now I’m straddling Yoongi all too aware that the damp spot on his pants is entirely my doing.

Yoongi pushes me over, climbing between my legs in one fluid movement. I look up at him—he’s flushed pink with his mouth slightly open, breathing hard. I can feel him pressed into my slit, and he grinds against me. The pressure brings a surprised whimper from my throat. What do I do?! I’m not prepared for this! Two days ago it was an absurd fantasy and now reality is way too much!

“Yoongi…”

The sound of my own voice shocks me. Rough and breathless, low. 

“Shh, baby girl.”

Okay. Yeah, I can do that, especially if he calls me a nickname like that. Like—it’s definitely not that I don’t want him to. I want him. I want him about as much as I can remember ever wanting anything.

I’m just. Nervous. I can’t do more than watch Yoongi push his pants down, and uhhh, this is the first time I’ve seen a real, naked dick in person, and I’m not sure if he’s going to just go straight for it or what. I take a shuddering breath and stare at it, trying to come to grips with how fast this is moving. When he places it against my mound, I squeak. When the head of it rubs up and down on my clit, I whimper. Please slow down, please slow down, slow down, slow down—

“Hey, are you with me?”

“Ah? Uh-huh.”

“Look at me.”

I look up. I’m not sure what kind of picture I make like this, wound tight as a spring but nervous as hell. “I’m here. Yes.”

“Talk to me. I’m not a mind reader.”

“It’s fine! I’m fine!” I insist, so forcefully that Yoongi gives me a look that clearly says he knows I’m not. I swallow. “Can we...slow down a little? I want to, with you! I just...I-I haven’t before!” My words are coming out all jumbled, but Yoongi is looking at me so seriously. “Like barely third base.”

“Last night you told me you were going to ride every dick in Tahoe.” Yoongi looks confused, as confused as I am nervous.

“Aha did I? Yeah I...I wasn’t. I didn’t. I just wanted to make you mad. Sorry.”

“You’re a virgin?”

“No? I’ve just never been. I’ve never had a—” There is no good way to say this. “Always with clothes!”

It looks like it physically pains Yoongi to put it back in his pants. I feel like I should apologize or something, which is weird, because he doesn’t seem upset with me. He just. Puts a sheet over me and sits back, composed as he always is.

“Have you ever been penetrated, then.”

“No.”

“What do you mean when you say third base?”

“Like. Some petting? With clothes on.”

Oh, god. He’s so going to judge me. Now that he knows I’m a baby, he’ll lose all interest and fire me and find someone more mature and sexy to meet his needs.

“Okay. I’m glad you told me.”

“Sorry…”

“What for?”

“For not knowing what I’m doing.”

I receive an incredulous look, and flush a little. “That’s nothing to apologize for.”

“Okay…”

“It’s okay. I’m not going to jump on you.”

“What if I want you to?”

“We have time for that later.” Yoongi considers me for a moment. “Hang on.”

I watch Yoongi get up, go to my suitcase, and start sorting through my clothes. I’m a little disappointed, if I’m being honest. I don’t want to stop, I’m just not ready for the final act. We could kiss more. I can try to get on his level. I would very much like more kissing.

When Yoongi comes back, he’s holding my most boring panties and one of his own tshirts, which he gives to me. “Put these on.”

Okay. Yeah, I can do that. That makes sense. I dress in the too-big tshirt and then slip into my panties, already feeling more comfortable by miles. Being exposed is weird, and especially being the only one exposed. Yoongi was fully clothed, and I was totally naked. Totally taken off guard when he took my little bit of cover away. It was exciting as much as it was making me feel totally vulnerable in a way I’m not ready to feel.

It feels less nerve-wracking now when Yoongi climbs into bed, pulling me against his body and holding me close. We gaze at each other silently while he explores touching me through my clothes: tracing the dip of my waist and the jut of my hip, to the outside of my thigh, stroking down the front of my panties. Yeah...yeah. This is fine. I’m okay with this. My legs open to his fingers brushing up my inner thigh, urging him to go ahead. He molds his hand against me, warm and solid, pressing into me and bringing sighs from my lips. I grind up against the heel of his palm, my hands gripping his shirt so hard my knuckles are white. I really didn’t expect Yoongi to be this considerate, and honestly? It’s hot as fuck. Meeting me where I’m comfortable, doing it how it makes sense to me? What could possibly be sexier?

“Does it feel good?”

I nod, not trusting my voice. It feels better than good; I’m melting. I want more. Yoongi pushes his hand against me in time with my grinding, and we find a rhythm together that leaves me biting my lip in an attempt to stay quiet. I wish I wasn’t too shy to let him hear my voice—I want to moan out the pleasure building low in my stomach and tell him just how much I want this, but I can’t. Not yet. I’m just letting it happen, because I don’t know if I can do much more than that right now.

“Wh-what about you?” I whisper, embarrassed just to hear how much my words waver. He’s barely doing anything! I’m in trouble if we ever go further than this. I might explode just like this—but I don’t think Yoongi will mind. He’s just watching me, his eyes dark and pupils blown. Taking in every detail.

“Do you want to touch me?”

“Mhh—” I take a deep breath; the feelings of dampened pleasure are blooming hot and molten, and I can’t stop myself from moaning. “Y-yes.”

Yoongi takes my hand. I whine at the loss, and from feeling just how damp his palm is from being against my mound. Another embarrassing noise passes my lips when he puts my hand on the front of his pants; I wrap my fingers loosely around him, feeling the weight and the heat, giving a few experimental strokes to test out how he’ll react.

What I don’t expect is to get to hear him moan, too. Fuck, that’s hot. His voice is low and rumbling, a purr. Through gritted teeth he exhales, already back to palming my sex with renewed heat. We’re moving in unison, bucking into each other’s hands and panting the same breaths with increasing urgency. Yoongi kisses me, swallowing down my breaths and moans, breathing his pleasure into me until I’m a trembling mess teetering on the edge of something that feels way too big. I fist him through his pants and stroke in earnest, fascinated by the wet stain building on the fabric, by how hot and hard he is just because I’m touching him.

“Come on, baby girl,” Yoongi whispers between kisses. I moan for him, wanting to communicate—somehow—that I’m in this with him. We’re in it together. His hand feels so, so good, and I’m grinding against it as hard as I can, my hips shaking, hard, and my mind dissolving into the pleasure that I want so much to give him. I want him to take it from me, make me come apart just for him. “Come for me.”

As if my body operates on his command, my thighs clamp down on his hand and I go rigid, whispering his name over and over until I’m spent. He keeps on thrusting into my hand until he spills, hot and sticky on the fabric separating my skin from his. Our mouths are pressed together a moment later, hard and hungry, and I roll onto my back hoping Yoongi will get the hint. He does—he descends on me, his lips trailing down my jaw and over my neck. I feel a sharp pain blooming at my pulse, Yoongi kneading me with his teeth.

“Yes,” I whisper, not totally sold on the pain but definitely wanting to wear the mark he’s biting into my skin. “Please, Yoongi—nnh, please.”

Yoongi moans again, and I lose myself in the roughness of his voice. His teeth sink into my skin even harder. Tears well up in my eyes, but I hold Yoongi there, still shaky with release, not sure if I’m crying because it hurts or if it’s because I’m so relieved to understand his strange behavior the last few days. If he wants me to be his—if he doesn’t want anyone else to get to see me—then I’ll do exactly that.

“Yoongi…” I whisper to the ceiling, like a prayer. It probably isn’t as profound as it feels, but dammit, I’ve never really wanted something like this. Like him. This is dangerous. I’m already wanting more, for Yoongi to mark me up and make me his.

I know it’s just horny-brain talking. We have time for that storm later, he said. I’m already waiting for it eagerly, impatiently.

Yoongi whispers my name against my throat, then nuzzles the bruise I can feel burning under the surface. Our breaths calm and sync together. I wouldn’t have expected us to fit together like this; I thought Yoongi would be all hard and demanding, and I would get swallowed up in something I don’t understand. That I would have to move at his place to be allowed in his world. I know there’s more than what just happened waiting in the coming days, weeks—that Yoongi wants to hurt me, and he wants to control me. He’s made that abundantly clear. It doesn’t scare me, though. I want to know that side of him, too. Maybe every side of him.

Yoongi is turning out to be completely different than I assumed he would be, and I whisper that I’m sorry without any explanation. I misjudged him so much.

“Mm?” Yoongi asks. I rub the back of his neck, my fingers tangling in the bleached hair at his nape. He’s so warm and soft, and the smell of his cologne mixes so wonderfully with the scent of sex hanging in the air.

“Nothing. Don't worry about it,” I says quietly, and he goes to lift his head, but I hold him there still. “Did you plan this?”

“No. I definitely didn’t.”

“Is it really okay?”

“Only if you think so.”

I close my eyes. Only if I think so. “I think it is, yeah.”

“Then it is.”

We spend the morning like that, cuddling and kissing, touching each other. I learn the shape of his mouth on my body, how his hands feel when he’s holding me down to the mattress and bringing me mercilessly to the edge, and when he’s touching me like I’m something precious. I learn how to make him feel good with just simple touches, and what spots can make him shiver just as hard as I do. All the way, Yoongi doesn’t push me. My clothes don’t come off; he doesn’t even ask. Even if it’s purely physical, I’m pretty lucky. I’ve heard the horror stories of bad encounters, and Yoongi is nothing like that. He’s sweet and gentle. Attentive.

And really, really good with his hands.

“Are you sure it’s okay to miss the conference?” I ask during a lull. I’m draped over Yoongi’s chest while he absently scratches my scalp, tracing little shapes on his chest. It’s a little late to ask, but it crossed my mind. It’s already one in the afternoon.

“Yeah, fuck it.” Yoongi sounds totally unbothered by the idea of it. I agree with him, though. There’s always tomorrow.

“Should we get food?”

“Yeah, probably. Room service?”

I sit up and stretch. I want to go outside. We’ve been having a great time, but the room is starting to feel a little stuffy. “Nah, let’s go out. There’s a pancake house on the lake, so we should get pancakes.”

“Oh, should we?”

“Yeah. Everyone gets pancakes after they hook up the first time.” I turn to face Yoongi, unable to contain my smile. “You don’t want to break tradition, do you?”

“We’d better not,” he laughs, and then I laugh, and he takes my hand and squeezes it. My heart flip-flops in my chest. “It’ll be faster if we shower together.”.

Hmm. I consider that. It sounds nice, and after all the sex we had, I’m less wary of being without clothes. “No funny business,” I warn him.

“Cross my heart.”

Funny, neither of us want to stop kissing, apparently, even when we’re under the hot water. I feel reinvigorated—we wash each other off, our hands slipping along each other’s soaped-up skin. I take the lead, this time, as best I can. I lick along his lower lip, taking it between his teeth and tugging gently. Wow. I’ve never done something like that, and it is hot as hell. Somewhere in my playful exploration, Yoongi grows impatient and presses his tongue past my lips to explore my mouth in sweet little licks, and I know I said no funny business but he’s hard and pressed into my belly and I throw caution into the wind. My fingers skate down and I rub his length curiously, first the head, then down to the base. It’s kind of addicting to have him licking in my mouth and moaning in the same breaths, soft little sounds that feel like they’re just for me.

“Can I touch you?” Yoongi pants, and I’m pleased to note he’s a little wobbly on his feet.

“No.”

“Mmh, you brat,” Yoongi complains. His head falls back and he pants, open-mouthed, until a shiver rips through him and he spills on my stomach.

“And don’t you forget it.”

“You won’t let me forget.”

“Don’t forget that, either,” I tease, though, yeah, it’s not my best one. Don’t judge me! I’m still a warm, melty girl that’s recovering from some pretty damn good sex. I’m allowed to be lame! Yoongi smiles, anyway, indulging me. “No, don’t. Don’t validate my lame comebacks.”

“You don’t get to tell me what to do,” Yoongi replies with a sly smirk. “That’s my job.”

“To tell yourself what to do?” I ask, feigning confusion. “Well, yeah, isn’t that—”

I guess I was being too much of a brat, because Yoongi cuts me off by kissing me. I don’t mind that; sometimes, it’s probably better to just stay silent and enjoy the moment.

Chapter Text

Right, so. Pancakes. That was a plan that I made, a plan with Yoongi. Right.

As far as romantic gestures go, I’m not expecting much when we finally get dressed and leave the resort to walk toward Rosa’s Pancake House. Color me surprised when Yoongi has no qualms about taking my hand while we walk, like I’m not just some fuckbuddy but maybe a person that he happens to like, as a person. He’s just full of surprises, isn’t he? I haven’t put a lot of thought into what this all means yet, because putting expectations on what it means makes me feel stressed. Best not to get too far ahead of myself, yet. Just in case this winds up staying purely physical.

I’m a lot more comfortable around him now, though. I talk his ear off about whatever comes to mind—my first thought dump being about how I want to go to the conference with him tomorrow, and maybe sit in on a few sessions before the conference ends.

“It’s only fair. I spent a whole day cooped up in the hotel, so you owe me.”

“Do I?”

“Yup. Besides, I applied for the job because I want to learn more about the industry. And it’ll be super helpful if I have informed opinions about stuff.”

“You raise some fair points,” Yoongi agrees. I glance up at him, beaming. “How’s the party planning going?”

“It’s going fine. I don’t have a DJ booked, but it’s the weekend so we can’t exactly expect a quick turnaround on that.”

“But you picked a venue?”

“Yup! And some other cool things. I think it will be fun.”

“Cool things? Tell me about that.”

“Mmm, no. Not yet. I don’t want to leak details until I have a full itinerary.”

“I’m not asking, I’m telling you.”

“And I’m telling you, you can be patient and wait like everyone else.” Yoongi scowls at me, but there’s not that much ire behind it. I smile in return. “Trust me, I know what I’m doing.”

Sorta.

“Fifty lashes if it’s not up to my standards.”

“Yes Sir, Mister Grey.”

“Do not compare me to that sorry excuse for a dom, or it will be a hundred lashes.”

We snort, dissolving into laughter at the edge of the lake. It’s nice to see a side of Yoongi that isn’t all >:[ and business—a side of him I saw come out in front of Lucie, that night at dinner.

Oh, right. Yoongi is like, fucking her too. I don’t like that, but I don’t have much say in it, do I?

Actually wait, I absolutely do. Yoongi can’t tell me I’m his and not make it reciprocal! That’s just plain damn unfair.

“What?” Yoongi asks, nudging my shoulder.

“So uh.” Damn, it’s hard to just say it. “You’re like. With Lucie, right?”

A shadow passes over Yoongi’s face and I worry I’ve upset him. “No, it’s not like that.”

💦?? 💋?????

“Are you quite sure?”

“Don’t go getting ideas!” Yoongi says, a little too loudly. Oh, he’s blushing. “She’s just a business contact, nothing more.”

I stare at him. Yeah, a business contact. That tracks with how she acts towards him.

“Seriously? I saw what she sent you.”

“I didn’t ask for that. She just. Gets really weird when I hire new assistants. I don’t know why.”

“Uhh, because she wants you?”

“We’re over,” Yoongi insists, looking rather sour about it. “That ship sailed years ago. I’m not interested in her, trust me.”

“Then what’s her deal?”

“I don’t know.”

“Isn’t that harassment?”

“Can you drop it?”

I can, but uhh, isn’t he acting a little weird about it? But, he said he isn’t interested in her. That ship sailed. I should take him at face value; going into this automatically distrustful of him won’t do us any favors, and it’s unfair anyway. It really does sound like unwelcome attention, and I feel a wave of anger at that old bat start bubbling up in my chest. How dare she corner Yoongi like that!

Phew, okay. Dropping it.

“I want to see the Disruption panel,” I say, not pressing the issue and instead thinking about all the guest speakers I’ll be able to see tomorrow. “It sounds interesting. The market is always changing, and it seems like you really have to know your stuff to be able to break into it.”

“Yeah, it is,” Yoongi agrees, and I’m relieved to see that he’s totally relaxed now. “Twenty years ago, the music industry was doing everything in its power to take down Zapster. Now they can’t make their own streaming services fast enough.”

“Are we going to make a streaming service?”

“I’ve considered it,” Yoongi says. I look at him, rapt. “It’s hard to compete with all the options out there. WAVE isn’t exactly dominating the streaming market, but it has some perks that keep it afloat. Appele Music is bundled into the company’s products, so it has an advantage. And everyone just uses Spoopify, so that’s already some tough competition.”

“But you were the one that innovated record packaging,” I insist. Wow, I get to hear the thoughts of the Yoongi Min, in his arena. Wow, wow. Forget the sex, it was worth it to work for 3 Point just for this. “And you’ve got Witchfork practically banging down your door to interview you—you’re an industry legend! You don’t think you can come up with something?”

“Of course I do,” Yoongi shrugs. I can’t help but notice that his cheeks are a little pink. What, is he not used to being praised? Tch. I’ll have to fix that. “The hurdle is doing it in a way that doesn’t feel like I’m is ripping off everyone else.”

“Tiers?”

“WAVE has already done it.”

“So? Your tiers just have to be better. You saw Social Networking, right?”

“The movie about Bookface?”

“Yeah, that one. Those big rower guys had an idea, but Mark Zuckerbarge had a better one. You only know who the twins are because they sued him.”

“Cutthroat,” Yoongi purrs, and I’m surprised when he turns to face me about ten steps from the pancake house to kiss me. “It’s good to know you’re not full of shit.”

“What.”

“Come on, you came into my office and yelled at me that you were going to uphold legacies and shit, a fresh college grad with a major in general music. It’s not like you went to Juilliard or have any business skills.”

Hey, that’s. Hey! I feel heat in my cheeks. Just what the hell is he saying?

“Yeah, so? I wasn’t just making stuff up. I minored in Music Business, and hello, I had a two-semester internship at Supreme!” Okay, my voice is rising.

“You should put those things on your resume.”

“Wh—” Did I. Did I not? I wrack my brain, trying to remember. I'm positive I put my internship on there. Hey! No! No, I will not be derailed! “Okay, whoops, I didn’t! But don’t you stand there and demean me like I don’t know anything!”

“I’m not demeaning you! I just said literally the opposite, what’s your problem?”

What’s my problem. Now I understand why he was so dismissive when I was in the interview room, and it makes me so angry that my eyes burn. “You tried to write me off the second you saw me, and now you’re telling me you thought I was full of shit? Sbanford isn’t good enough for you?”

We glare at each other. I’m not backing down on this one—he was a jerk. And I’m not going to excuse him for being a jerk. I don’t care if we stand here all afternoon and stare each other down, I am not budging. I think I’m right in assuming that Yoongi isn’t used to people putting him in his place anymore, at least not anyone besides his best friends team at the company—all dudes, of course. It’s about time he had a different viewpoint thrown into the mix.

Yoongi is looking at me with a complicated expression; his brows are narrowed and I get the feeling he’s biting his tongue to prevent himself from lashing out at me. Well, go ahead, mister. I told you already—I’m not afraid of you.

Ugh. I don’t want to fight, though.

“The way you treat people matters, even if they’re throwaway girls fresh out of college. I’m doing my best,” I break the silence, quietly, and I’m mad that I’m crying again. Less mad when Yoongi brushes tears off my cheeks, and his expression softens. “You shouldn’t forget what it’s like to be in my place just because you’ve made it.”

“So I’m the jerk, here, is what you’re saying?”

“More or less.”

“Hah,” Yoongi looks away, and I can tell he’s embarrassed. I mean, the pink in his round cheeks is a dead giveaway. “I didn’t know about—”

“You didn’t ask.”

“I didn’t, no. I should have.”

“And by the way? Before that day, I’d never seen you in my life, even after I followed your Twitter, read the only interview you gave that I could find, and researched news articles for four hours in prep for the interview. You need to work on your PR if you want to be recognized.”

“You’re never going to let me off the hook, are you?” Yoongi asks, and I dare to think he looks impressed. And he damn well should be—I didn’t come into this whole thing half-assed. I put my whole ass into it.

“I’m definitely not. I’ll kick your ass, I don’t care if you’re my boss.”

“Tch,” Yoongi laughs, quietly, and looks back at me—a little less uncomfortable looking. “That’s why I hired you.”

“And you’re keeping me because?”

“Because you’re smart as hell and you do your job better than anyone else has.”

“And?”

Yoongi looks baffled. I bat my eyelashes.

“I’m not keeping you on my payroll because you’re pretty,” he snorts, and we simultaneously decide it’s time to get those pancakes now. Probably for the best; we haven’t eaten all day, and it’s almost dinner time with how long it took us to get from the bed to the shower to actually into clothes before we even came on our walk.

“No, that’s why I get to be in your bed.”

“Whoa whoa, no way! I mean yeah, it helped, but I’m not that shallow.”

Yoongi fumbles a little over his words, back to blushing, and I decide to give it a rest so we can be seated without one of us getting horny on the way to the table and making everything really awkward for everyone else. I’m probably the most in danger of that; Yoongi, blushing? Be still, my heart. It’s so unusual to see him look anything other than aloof that I can’t help but think—well, nevermind! We’re not being horny. Not at the pancake table.

“This is a lot of pancakes,” I say as I peruse the menu. Chocolate pancakes, chocolate chip pancakes, Nutella pancakes, double bananas foster with caramel rum sauce pancakes. Yeesh. Whatever happened to just a pancake? Of course, I lay eyes on a stack of apple-cinnamon pancakes as a waitress brings them to another table, and I’m done for. Apple pie, but pancakes? Yes.

“Do I have to get pancakes?” Yoongi asks. “These are all abhorrent.”

Yeah, I know. They’re kind of ridiculous. Some of them seem to have everything and the kitchen sink tacked on.

“They have plain buttermilk.”

“You’re really going to make me get pancakes?”

“Of course I’m not. I’m just saying, if you don’t want a cotton candy stack with fruity pebbles and cherries on top, they have plain buttermilk.”

“I’m getting a burger,” Yoongi decides.

“Maybe you can get a burger with pancakes for buns.”

“That sounds disgusting.”

“No way! Isn’t there that one burger, the one on the glazed donuts?”

“Disgusting.”

“Aw, you’re no fun. We could invent something amazing. I need a side hustle.”

“What for?”

“Money, duh. Not to sound ungrateful, but we do live in the Bay. I want to move out of my student-priced housing eventually.”

Something about that makes Yoongi tilt his head, but not like he’s mad. Like he’s thinking. Maybe the idea of “not having enough money” hasn’t ever occurred to him? He’s rich as hell, and I don’t know much about his family life other than a comment he made about his mother saying she found him under a bridge—it’s possible his whole family is loaded.

“Do you want a raise?”

“What? No, that’s not what I mean. I don’t have to live in the city, that’s a decision I made myself.”

“But you should earn enough to live in an apartment that’s better than student housing. Especially in the city you work in.”

“Well, I’m entry-level.”

“Are you arguing against more money?”

Remember when I mentioned the capitalist machine being brutal? Because yeah. Here it is.

“I guess I am.”

“That’s stupid.”

“Yeah, I dunno, don’t I have a review after 90 days?”

“If I decide to keep you.”

“Are you thinking of letting me go, sir?” I ask innocently. I know he isn’t, not after what he just said outside.

“Maybe if you don’t shape up.”

Hehe. Never.

Our conversation is interrupted by our waiter, and we put in our orders. The food arrives super fast; we both inhale our meals, barely talking while we get our much-needed sustenance. The pancakes are the size of the plate and I’m surprised I manage to eat an entire stack—I guess fooling around burns a lot of energy.

When we both slow down, sipping coffee, Yoongi fixes me with his usual brooding look. I tilt my head.

“What?” I ask. Just in case. Sometimes he looks at me like he wants to say something and just doesn’t.

“You know what I’m like, right?” Yoongi asks. I squint. “You know what I mean! Don’t make me say it outright.”

“You have to give me something to go on, Yoongi.”

“Figure it out!”

Oh, he’s red. Really red. Okay, this is a sexy thing. What he’s like? The most obvious thing is his penchant for pushing me around. “You mean am I aware that you’re a dom?”

Yoongi turns even redder. “Yes, that.”

“What about it?”

“I want to have an agreement,” Yoongi shrugs, not looking at me, but I don’t mind. If he’s that embarrassed, he can stare at his coffee. “About how I’m allowed and not allowed to initiate things.”

“Oh.” That makes sense. Earlier, he was questioning me every step of the way—he seems to be a fan of enthusiastic consent. “I guess it depends? If you want to punish me or whatever, it doesn’t make sense to ask if you can beforehand.”

“Okay, but what if you don’t want it?”

“Isn’t that the point?”

“No, I mean if you really don’t want it. At all.”

“Then I’ll just tell you. It’s not that complicated.”

“No, no, listen. Okay, hypothetically, we’re at work. You start back talking me like you always do, and I push you on my desk and spank you without warning.”

That’s a fair thing to consider. I think it over, trying to put myself in that place, the one I will inevitably wind up in if this continues. “My answer might change, but for now, it’s safe to say that you can just do whatever you want.”

Yoongi seems frustrated, but I’m not sure what he wants me to say. I’m not really sure how to give him a definitive answer having never been in that situation.

“Why are you second-guessing yourself like this?” I ask.

“Huh?”

“Earlier, you knew I was freaking out, and you made me tell you what I was really thinking, and then you slowed down. I’m not worried that you’re going to do anything I don’t want you to do.”

Yaaa, you’re so mature. Sometimes I forget you’re not my age.”

“Well, girls mature faster than guys. You’ll catch up someday.”

I jump, yelping. Yoongi just—he just kicked me! Way to prove my point! I kick him right back, or try to; I hit the table leg instead and yelp again, then lay my head down on the table with a groan. Ouch, that smarts.

“Stop laughing at me, Sir.”

“No.”

All in all, it’s turning out to be a really good trip. Yoongi holds my hand the entire way back to the hotel as we walk in comfortable silence, taking in the view of the lake. The last thing I expected when I got on the plane was that things would end up like this, The past few weeks I’ve felt like such an imposter in this world, like a silly girl that can never truly fit in, only to find that not only does Yoongi respect me as his assistant, but as a person! It’s a lot to take in, now. I expect that we’ll unwind a bit before heading out for dinner, but Yoongi drops me off at the door to our hotel saying that he needs to run a quick errand, and I should wait up for him.

Huh. That’s sudden.

I lay down when I’m in the room, taking out my phone to waste time playing some match-3 mobile game. I really, really want to tell someone what’s going on, but I don’t think Emilia will be too thrilled with me deciding to fuck my boss after she explicitly warned me not to fuck my boss. Well, she doesn’t know him. He’s not like she thinks he is. That’s a bit of stress that I don’t need—I opt to pretend like she didn’t text me this morning, instead checking my emails and handling a few tasks while I wait for Yoongi to come back from his mysterious adventure. The DJ Hoseok recommended is interested, and I let him know that I’d love to hear a sample setlist to gauge his ability to keep a party going. No hoaky Christmas music, I tell him.

I wonder what Yoongi is doing. Getting souvenirs, maybe? It doesn’t seem like him. Clothes shopping? Tahoe isn’t exactly a Mecca for fashion, but he does seem to like sweatshirts and hoodies. Maybe there’s a Hoodie Emporium I don’t know about.

I’m bored. No, more like restless. I consider trying out a long, hot bath, but that sounds like too much effort. How long has Yoongi been gone?

Hnngh, almost an hour. I call our dinner reservation to bump it back, then flop back down on the bed. Flip on the TV.

Ooh, there’s a true crime channel. I get so wrapped up in a murder mystery that I forget all about Yoongi; I curl up in the blankets and turn out the lights to try to figure out whodunit before the show reveals the grand plot twist, and nearly leap out of my skin when the door to the bedroom opens and light floods into the room.

“Holy shit!”

I bolt back toward the headboard, staring at Yoongi in total shock. I didn’t hear him come in! He, in turn, looks at me with a bewildered—and amused—expression on his face.

“Doing all right, there?”

I take deep breaths at a mile a minute, then nod. The light flicks on and I notice that Yoongi has a sleek little bag that’s not nearly big enough to hold a hoodie. Where did he go? There’s no print on the bag, just a pink ribbon tied around it.

“What’s that?”

“A gift.”

Like the gift he got for Lucie before the dinner we had? I edge toward the foot of the bed, even more curious. I hope it isn’t an expensive necklace or something. I already have plenty of access to fancy-ass jewelry that’s way above my paygrade. That money would be way better spent on something else. Like food.

“Can I see it?”

“No, not yet.”

Yoongi puts down the bag and shrugs out of his jacket, tossing it on the dresser. When he saunters toward me, his face is back to its usual aloof mask; I’m almost worried. Did I do something? Is he mad?

“Strip.”

Huh? What? I stare back at him, motionless. This must be why he brought up sudden encounters or whatever during pancakes. Am I about to get spanked?

“Um, are we—are you going to? Punish me, now?” I ask, needing clarification. My body is already perking up at this drastic change in demeanor, but I want to know what I’m getting into.

“Yes. You’ve been a real brat and I think some discipline is in order. Is that okay?”

Is it?! I bite my lip. I already know the answer, because every single time Yoongi has gotten rough with me, my body has gone into overdrive waiting for more. I’ve wanted this, right? And he’s making sure I’m okay with it.

“Yes.”

“Then strip.” 

Yoongi gives me about thirty seconds to process his demand, then takes a fistful of my hair and yanks my head back so that I’m looking at the ceiling. I whimper, trying to tug away unconsciously; it makes the burn in my scalp intensify, and tears spring to my eyes yet again. I’m just not used to being in any sort of pain. All of my previous encounters were just silly, impassioned hookups with people I was casually dating at the time, vanilla through and through.

“Did you hear me?”

“Yes.”

“Yes, Sir,” Yoongi corrects me, firmly.

I shiver, trying to look down to meet Yoongi’s eyes. The hand in my hair tightens, pulling my head back more. Fuck, it hurts.

“Yes Sir,” I whimper. The angle of my neck hurts almost as much as Yoongi just tugging me around by the hair. This is a complete 180 from how he was acting earlier, and I don’t mind it, but I’m not sure what brought it on. “Do you want me to take off everything?”

“As much as you’re comfortable with.”

If I could, I would nod to show that I understand. As it is, I whisper ‘okay’ and go about unzipping my hoodie, then unbuttoning my shirt to toss them both aside. Without the layers, the air is cold on my skin, and I’m shivering both from nerves and excitement in addition to the chill.

“Hurry up.”

“Okay!”

My fingers fumble with the clasp of my bra for far too long. I can’t help it! They’re shaking a little, and my neck hurts, and the pressure of complying with Yoongi is making me super fucking nervous. It’s almost embarrassing how ready I am for this—more of those feelings are coming up, the ones from the airport where fear mixed up with embarrassment and helplessness and made me want more of exactly this. I never really thought about it before, being a sub, but Yoongi has—

“Tch,” Yoongi throws me back to the bed, and I cry out in surprise. Yes. Fuck yeah, that’s what I want. I scramble out of my bra without bothering with the clasp, then shove my jeans down and kick them off. “That’s better. I was beginning to think you were being slow on purpose.”

“N-no, Sir. Just—” I hold up my hands so he can see how my fingers tremble. Yoongi takes my hand and kisses my knuckles.

“Don’t be nervous,” he says, for all the world like that will make me stop shaking. “I’m not going to hurt you too badly.”

The smirk lighting up Yoongi’s features makes me gulp. I feel a little absurd shrinking under just a look, but I can’t help it. Whether or not Yoongi can be sweet, kind, respectful—he’s still dangerous. Without breaking eye contact, I reach for the last garment covering me, rolling it down my hips and then toeing it off. I can’t open my legs, though. I don’t know if I’m ready to be that brave.

“Are you sure about that?” Yoongi asks. I nod.

“Yes, Sir.”

My chest is rising and falling, rapidly. Yoongi’s eyes sweep down my body, pausing where I know he can’t see anything at all. “Open your legs.”

I whimper. With the lights on?!

But I asked for this. I very much took everything off myself. I open my thighs, peeking at Yoongi for all of a split second before I look away in pure mortification. Never in my life have I been on display like this, and never have I been looked at the way Yoongi was looking at me just now; half-lidded eyes, dark with lust, and his bottom lip between his teeth.

“Can I touch you?”

“Yeah, okay,” I whisper. My body tenses in anticipation of it, and it feels like years pass before I feel Yoongi’s finger tracing down my slit and pushing inside me. “Ah—ahh—”

It’s a peculiar thing, being touched like this. It’s not quite enough. I can feel him, thrusting it in deep, but it’s definitely not enough.  It’s like a horrible teasing sensation, one that could be amazing but is totally falling short right now.

“Will you—can you—” My eyes squeeze more tightly closed. I can’t believe I’m going to ask this. Out loud. “Will you use two fingers?”

“If you look at me.”

Geh! You monster, Yoongi!

Whelp. I want it enough that I crack open my eyes to look at him, just like he asked. I can’t help but look between my legs, where his finger is buried in me completely. God. He’s really. I’m really.

Fuck.

“Now ask me again, nicely.”

“Please…”

“Please?”

“Yoongi…”

“Ah-ah. If you can’t ask properly, you can’t have anything.”

I huff, feeling about as frustrated as I’ve ever felt in my life. Why do I have to! “I’m not begging you!”

“That’s a shame for you.”

I huff again, exasperated when he withdraws entirely. I expect him to do what we did earlier—kissing, and all that. Maybe some more petting.

That’s not what I’m getting tonight.

“Now then,” Yoongi drawls. He picks up the black bag and takes items out, one by one, to place beside me. I stare at the assortment of toys and gulp. “Are you ready for your punishment?”

Chapter Text

“Are you familiar with the concept of safewords?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Explain to me what they are.”

“Specific words I can use to tell you when I need you to slow down.”

“Good girl.”

Yoongi pets my hair, and I lean into the touch to try to get more before we get to the—the punishment. I don’t know what it is, yet. I don’t know how cruel Yoongi can be.

What I do know is that he’s good at tying rope. Thin strands of it wrap around my chest, pushing my breasts up and together; the rope goes down, around my hips and under my sex, with knots spaced to put pressure in sensitive places. When Yoongi pulls on the rope, it tightens and digs into me uncomfortably.

My arms are especially uncomfortable, bound behind my back in a sort of reverse prayer position, and my legs are starting to cramp already from kneeling on the floor. I don’t know how long I can sit like this, but I know that it’s not up to me. Yoongi explained his rules while he bound me: that I’m never to look at him unless I’m told, that I’m never to stand in his presence during a scene, that I must always say ‘Sir’ and thank him for pleasure or pain, and that backtalk will be severely punished.

Why do I feel like he made that rule especially for me?

“I-I know stoplights, Sir. If that’s okay with you. It’s probably easier for me to remember something I’m familiar with in the moment…”

“Fine with me.”

“Are you going to hit me? Sir?”

Isn’t that what punishment is all about? Spanking and whipping and stuff?

“Are you okay with me hitting you?”

“I don’t know, Sir.”

“Do you want to find out?”

“I-I—” I swallow thickly, wanting so bad to look up into Yoongi’s eyes and find some comfort there. “I don’t know, Sir.”

“You either do or you don’t. Pick one.”

Damn. I thought I had a way out without explicitly denying him. And it’s not even that I want to deny him, per se—more like I’m nervous. Afraid what might happen if he hits me and I lose it or something. That would be awful. But, I steel myself. “I-I...yes, Sir.” Wait, that’s vague. I could be agreeing to pick one, or. Agreeing to be hit. “...You can hit me.”

I expect that it will hurt; that Yoongi isn’t the type to go gentle on someone just because they’re new to this, but surely he won’t hit me with his full strength.

It’s hard to keep my eyes lowered, especially when he pulls my head back by my hair, but I’m not about to fuck up one of the rules within the first 15 minutes of this, no matter how much I want to look at him and plead for reassurance. I’m supposed to trust him right now.

“Deep breaths, baby girl.”

I inhale. Air fills my lungs, and in the little vision I have, I can see Yoongi raise his arm. His other hand is holding tight to my hair so that I have no choice but to take the brunt of it. Straight to the face. My stomach clenches and I hold my breath until his palm collides with my cheek, which knocks the air out of me in one fell swoop. A loud smack! echoes around the room. The burn on my cheek isn’t just painful, it’s torture; tears splash down my face and onto my chest, and I hear myself taking in a breath that ends on a sob.

I was wrong. I was super, super wrong. Yoongi isn’t holding back at all.

“Th-thank y-y-you, Sir.”

My ears are ringing. Holy shit. I don’t know if I can take another hit. I don’t know if I can do this! Oh my god, there’s so much pain, my whole face is aflame and Yoongi hits me again, absolutely merciless, with no apparent concern for the wail that I let out or the rapid, shaking breaths I take in afterward.

“Th—” I gasp, my eyes closed and my face stained with tears. “Th-thank—you—Sir!”

How am I supposed to feel about this? How do I feel about this?! I brace for another slap, and it comes a second later, knocking my head to the side as much as it can go with my hair in Yoongi’s fist.

I’m almost crying too much to thank Yoongi for that slap, but I manage to gasp it out in a whisper. I could use my safeword; I could make him stop, and we could do something else. I consider it vaguely, the thought disappearing when Yoongi hits me again.

And again.

And again.

My head is going fuzzy. My entire face is burning, my cheek throbbing and sound seeming far away. Does Yoongi like it? Does he like seeing me like this? Am I giving him enough to satisfy him? I can barely keep my eyes open; the room slides in and out of focus, and I wait for another slap, try to prepare myself for the pain that’s only getting worse, but it doesn’t come. Instead, Yoongi pulls on my harness. Rope digs into my skin, the friction burning me, the knots pressing into my most intimate parts and rubbing me raw.

“Remember your safewords,” Yoongi says in a low murmur, right in my ear. I nod, though it takes every ounce of my concentration to do it. I haven’t forgotten. I have control here, too.

I just.

I don’t want to exercise it.

I don’t have to do anything but what I’m told here. I can just let Yoongi turn me into his little fantasy and use me like a doll made to please him.

Isn’t that an interesting thought. I like that; that I can serve him in some way. I like how hard he’s being on me, how much pain he inflicts without hesitation, just because he knows he can.

Liking the pain is something I can’t do yet. It’s too much. It’s awful. I’m crying without any attempt to silence myself, and I can’t even begin to care how ugly I must look like this. The rope pulls even more taut, Yoongi lifting me up with it so that the friction on my clit nearly makes me yell. Agony is the only way I can describe it—the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life. My thighs shake from the strain of trying to rise high enough on my knees to make it stop, but there’s nothing I can do. Yoongi just keeps pulling.

“S-sir!” I whine, trying to tilt my head, to do something to get some relief in any way at all. Yoongi still has a firm grip on my hair, and my scalp burns.

“Hm? What is it?”

“Hurts…”

“Does it hurt badly?”

“Yes, S-sir.”

“Should I stop?”

“N-n-no, Sir. I c-can take ihhh—fuck, fuck, fuck! I can take it, Sir!”

“Is there anything you’ll say no to?” Yoongi muses, like he’s pondering some trivial thing. “What if I said I wanted to bend you over and fuck your ass until you can’t stand? What would you say then?”

“I—” I don’t know?! But I can’t say that! I try to picture it, knowing it definitely isn’t an empty threat, and squirm. “I-if you w-want, S-sir!”

Yoongi lifts me off my knees and I do yell now; god, he’s not playing around. He throws me by the rope and I hit the floor, panting in deep lungfuls of air that don’t do anything to quell my shaking or crying. I’m lying on my side, my face burning, my cunt throbbing. In my peripheral vision, I see Yoongi get to his knees; he arranges me on the floor with my naked ass up and my face pressed on the carpet, then yanks me back so that his dick rests over—over my—back there. This is going so fast, Yoongi pushing me so hard. If he weren’t still clothed, I think I would panic.

“You’re filthy,” Yoongi spits, grinding against my entrance. “You’ve never been fucked before, but you’d let me take your ass?”

Goddddd. How is it possible to blush now after everything else he’s already said and done? And—I don’t know that for sure! It doesn’t sound terrible, it just—I don’t know! I haven’t been in this position before, how can I answer him adequately?

A pathetic whimper fills the space between my mouth and the floor, because it’s all I can come up with. I’m rapidly losing the ability to think at all.

“You sound like you’re ready for it,” Yoongi’s voice rumbles at the edge of my consciousness. Something cold and wet drips onto my skin—spit? No, that would be warm. I feel Yoongi’s thumb swipe through it and down between my cheeks to stroke—aggressively—over. Over that. I yelp and tense up, nearly falling over in the process. Is—is this going to be my first time? He’s going to put it in me now, just like this? I don’t know if I want that.

I don’t know that I don’t want it, either.

“Remember your safe words,” Yoongi says again.

“I r-remember, Sir!”

But I don’t want to use them! I want to know everything—how cruel he can really be, what he’s like when he doesn’t hold back.

Even if it means being fucked in the ass on a hotel floor like some kind of toy.

Yoongi’s thumb slides down, through my folds, and he pushes it inside my cunt without hesitation. My hands try to clench into fists, but they’re tied up so tight, and the ropes burn my fingers as I strain. Something hot and electric is building up inside me, Yoongi pushing into a spot that makes my breath stick to my ribs, my mouth open in a silent moan. No, no, no—it’s too much, it feels too good! I try to squirm away, but Yoongi holds me tight by the ropes and presses his thumb down harder against me in quick, tight circles, effortlessly stealing away my choked moans and cries.

“N-no—Sir, p-please, please, no, no, please—”

“Do you want me to stop?”

“I-I don’t know, S-sir—”

“Yes or no.”

I don’t get a chance to answer. A wave of manic bliss goes through me, and I pant helplessly, my whole body shaking so hard I’m worried I’ll come apart. Whatever Yoongi is doing to me, it’s too fucking much. I try to squirm away from him, pulling against the rope, but he won’t stop, he won't let go. I crumble all over again, struggling to breathe now. I’m dragged down by yet another wave before the world can right itself. I’m going to drown. Yoongi is going to tear me apart until there’s nothing left to fit back together.

After what feels like years of mind-numbing pleasure, it’s over. I collapse back onto my side. Slowly, the world comes back to me. I’m breathing. I’m okay. I feel spent like I’ve never felt before, but I’m okay. Yoongi is rubbing the back of my neck—I’m okay.

“That’s it, deep breaths,” Yoongi is saying in my ear. I nod, taking in more oxygen, waiting for coherent thought to come back to me.

“Are you finished?” I ask, dazed. “S-sir?”

“No.”

“You’ll break me, Sir.”

“Is that a bad thing?”

The way he says it, like he’s genuinely curious if I think so, eases my worries. Maybe it’s not a bad thing; maybe if he breaks me down completely, I’ll find something there in the wreckage. I sniffle and rub my cheek against the carpet to dry my tears. It burns, but I’m so lost in the leftover pain of Yoongi slapping me that I can’t be bothered to care.

“I won’t know until it happens, Sir.”

“Why didn’t you safeword?”

“I didn’t want to.” I sniffle again. “Why didn’t you slow down, Sir?”

“Because you didn’t need me to.”

He sounds so sure. I turn the idea over, slowly. I was scared of whatever was building up inside me, but I didn’t feel like I wasn’t safe. I didn’t feel like he would seriously harm me.

How attentive he must be; how long has he been doing this, exactly?

“What was that, Sir?”

A soft huff of laughter tickles my cheek. “I take it you’ve only ever come from clit stimulation.”

Is that what happened? I nod, again, the torrent of too much pleasure still lingering in the far reaches of my body. I wonder what it will feel like when he’s driving into me with his cock, rough and ruthless. I’m not ready, but the idea of it—of being filled up and used—makes my body flush hot.

“It must have been a lot,” Yoongi murmurs. His lips skate down my ear, to my jaw. I sigh; I like this feeling. Like being taken care of, after being broken apart.

“It was too much, Sir.”

“I love too much.”

I wonder if I could grow to love it, too. In the moment it was scary—overwhelming beyond anything I’ve experienced.

“Can I look at you, Sir?”

“You may.”

It feels like it takes all of my strength to tilt my head enough to look at Yoongi, and remind myself of how his eyes sparkle or how his mouth gently curves when he looks at me as of late. More tears leak from my eyes, such a light sensation in comparison to the pain rearing at various points of my body that I don’t know why I notice it more than anything else.

“Will you kiss me, Sir?”

Yoongi doesn’t answer this time—just tilts his head and captures my mouth in a gentle kiss that lingers long enough for me to feel like I can maybe, actually continue this. I try to memorize this moment to recall later, when he’s coming at me like a tempest, so that I can hopefully keep my head and endure whatever he wants to give me. I want so badly to do this right. I want Yoongi to think of me as someone he can use when he’s not treating me sweetly, just like this. I want our game of agreed-upon violence to be something that satisfies him as much as I’m trying to be satisfied.

“Let’s get you up, now,” Yoongi says when he finally draws away. He picks me up until I’m on my shaky legs—I would definitely fall over if he weren’t holding me—and dumps me on the bed next to his stash. My arms ache and my legs are seriously protesting having been forced to hold my weight, shaking even when I’m lying down. How is it I can tolerate this more than I can tolerate being forced to come? A slow hiss passes through my gritted teeth, but otherwise, I don’t make a sound.

The assortment of toys draws my attention, now. I didn’t get much of a chance to look at them while Yoongi was tying me up, but now, I can pick out different things without issue. Clamps. A butt plug. Lube—that must have been what Yoongi poured on me. Some kind of weird purple thing that looks—honest to god—like a manta ray. I wonder where he’s going to start. There’s no doubt in my mind that Yoongi picked everything very deliberately; all of these things are going to be used on me tonight.

I don’t have to wait long to find out what he has in mind. Yoongi carefully inserts the purple toy between the ropes and my mound. It molds to me perfectly, resting right up against my clit and relieving the discomfort of the rope. I have a feeling this isn’t just a nicety—the toy comes to life, vibrating over my entire cunt, and I have to grit my teeth to stop from crying out. Fuck. After already coming, I’m so sensitive I’m panting in an instant.

Yoongi picks the plug next. Uhhhhhhhh hold on! We never discussed this! And back there, really? Isn’t that the kind of thing people only do in hardcore porn? It’s so...dirty. Degrading, even. That’s probably part of the point—the conquest of it. Guys are usually into that.

Well. Yoongi can do what he wants, right? That’s the arrangement we have. Right. I don’t protest when I feel the plug nudging into me, no matter how much I want to. My body has apparently decided it’s not going in without a fight. Yoongi is patient, though. He doesn’t try to force it in, but works it slowly, gently, until my body opens up to accept it. Once it’s inside, it’s heavy. That must be intentional, too; Yoongi doesn’t want me to be able to forget it’s there. The ‘tail’ of the vibrator rests against the handle of the plug, and the smooth metal feels so alien vibrating inside me that I can’t tell if it feels good or just weird.

Yoongi affixes the clamps last, and they pinch so tightly it hurts. My arms, my legs, my face—they all ache—and now the pressure on my nipples is somewhere between intriguing and painful. The vibrations are building up into a pleasant, constant pleasure that flirts with the pain in the most curious way.

Yoongi has been totally silent this whole time, and I want so badly to know what he’s thinking. Is it fun, adorning me in all these perverted toys? Do I look good? And how, when he’s had a boner this entire time, is he just sitting back and playing with me like he has all the time in the world? When will he touch me for his own pleasure, and when will I get to make him feel as good as he’s been making me feel?

Yaaa, don’t you look like a treat,” Yoongi says, as if reading my mind. “I can’t wait to fuck your pretty little cunt.”

“Mmhh—”

“Open your legs and let me see.”

That’s the easiest command Yoongi has given me all night. I open my legs for him, resolutely looking at the wall ahead of me. I want to know what Yoongi looks like so bad—whether he looks aloof and cool, or if he’s showing his interest plainly now—but I’m going to be good. I’ve come this far without breaking the rules.

In my adherence to the “don’t look at Yoongi” rule, I totally miss him pick up the remote, and I don’t notice him climb onto the bed until the mattress dips. The vibrator climbs from a pleasant rumble to searing, painful bliss in less than a second, and my body moves on its own: I curl in on myself, panting with my jaw clenched, toes curled so tightly it hurts. Please, god, don’t let this last too long. I can’t take it. Not after everything else, not while being so sensitive to touch that it hurts.

Is this the punishment? Layering me with sensations until I can’t tell one from the other, and forcing me to feel so good I can’t stand it for as long as he wants? I expected something much different, like being spanked over his knee. The kind of thing you see in porn, where some girl just gets hit a lot before a guy fucks her. I never knew that pleasure could be a weapon like this.

“Too much? Poor thing,” Yoongi taunts me with no shame for how much he’s enjoying this. The vibrator speeds up again. Yoongi presses it as flush to my cunt as it will go, and the second yell of the night is ripped away from me so easily. I don’t have to pretend that I’m a toy; Yoongi is making it very clear that I definitely am. “Let me hear you, baby girl. Don’t hold back.”

I couldn’t hold back if I tried. If I were aware of anything at all but the fact that Yoongi is again forcing me to come—over and over, so much I’m sure that I’m going to lose my mind in this bed—I would be far more embarrassed. How many people can hear me crying Yoongi’s name like a mantra? I’m so exposed and helpless, and Yoongi can see it all—every time I jerk and  writhe, every expression, every bit of me. His hands stroke different parts of my body, as if he’s trying to soothe me. It’s probably his hands that keep me from losing it completely. One small, grounding gesture to remind me who I’m doing this for, and why.

I don’t know how long it lasts. Ten minutes, an hour? Forever? Time has no meaning; the only thing I’m aware of is my desire for it to end, to be set free from this hell of forced bliss, so that I can feel human again. It feels like it will never come. Even when Yoongi lifts my head by the hair—forces me to look at him through the tears that stick to my lashes—I don’t know anything but this base state of being I’ve been stripped to. I don’t know anything except for the myriad sensations of pleasure and pain that have blended into a full-body euphoria I definitely don’t understand at all.

The vibrator slows, finally, and again I’m left struggling to breathe. Ropes come undone, and I cry harder at the throb of my body being granted freedom to move once again. I’m on my back—Yoongi is straddling me, his pants shoved down—and I taste salt and bitter on my tongue, feel my lips stretched so that Yoongi can take from me what he’s been waiting for. I can’t do more than lie there and take it, every deep thrust that steals more of my breath, makes me choke, brings fresh waves of tears falling down my temples into my hair. Even this is kind of painful with how much I’m forced to hold my jaw open, and how hard his cock is hitting the back of my throat.

So even Yoongi has a limit. I search for his eyes and find them locked on me. He’s speaking, but I don’t comprehend. When I thought of him using me, I didn’t realize how raw and animalistic it would really feel, or how he would drive into my mouth to take his own pleasure with no regard for my comfort.

At some point my hands find his thighs. I squeeze them to try to ground myself, whining around the assault on my throat, trying to will myself to do something—anything—to please him. I lick him clumsily, as much as I can with my mouth stuffed full, feeling the ridge slide back and forth, tasting Yoongi so overwhelmingly I’m sure this is the only thing I’ll ever taste again.

My mouth fills with sticky, bitter cum after a guttural groan from above. Yoongi stills above me, holding me in place, and I can’t do anything more than gurgle with Yoongi still buried in my mouth, pushed partway into my throat. Was I good? Did I live up to his expectations? Those are my last thoughts before I give out entirely, so dazed and incoherent that I couldn’t do anything else even if Yoongi asked me to.

It’s over, though. Yoongi gathers me up into his lap, and with a blanket over me, I’m so warm. I feel light and floaty. Strong hands massage the sting leftover from ropes along my wrists, my arms, and my chest. Everything is quiet save for the soft breaths I can hear just behind me.

“My good girl,” Yoongi says, softly. Warmth fills me to the point of bursting. “You did so, so well.”

“Yoongi,” I murmur, my voice rough and low, so unlike what I’m used to hearing. What is this feeling? It’s like I’ve woken up from a long sleep, content and safe and fuzzy around the edges. “Did you like it?”

“You have no idea how much.”

“Oh. Good.” I stretch as much as I’m able, then curl up as close to Yoongi’s warmth as I can, skin to skin. His chest rises and falls, lulling me into the most intense relaxation of my life. “Are you putting me back together?”

“I am.”

“Okay,” I look up into his dark brown eyes, memorizing their shape, their intensity—down to his cute button nose, his pink lips. “Don’t go?”

“Wouldn’t dream of it.”

Chapter Text

Monday morning is back to business. There’s a ton of panels Yoongi wants to sit in on, and he gives me permission to go about the conference as I want, provided that I can get a DJ for the party by the end of the day. Shouldn’t be too hard, right? The potential DJ has already sent a set list so all I have to do is listen to it and decide yes or no. Considering Hoseok recommended him, I’m sure it’ll be fine.

“Unless you’d rather stay in bed,” Yoongi says as I’m getting up to shower.

“As tempting as it is, I’ll pass.”

“Cold.”

“We can stay in bed anywhere. The conference only happens once a year.”

That, and I’m sore and still processing what exactly happened last night. In the span of a day, we went from cute petting to hardcore BDSM, and while I don’t regret it at all, I don’t know how to tell him that I would rather like to move a bit slower now that I’ve seen exactly what he wants to inflict on me. I don’t mind—I had a great time—but I’m still overwhelmed. I’m not likely to get my footing if I don’t have a chance to ease into it.

Is that weird? I was raring to go last night, but now I’m a little confused and maybe even a little hesitant to go straight back to that.

Yoongi doesn’t seem to have any complaints, though he is very insistent about picking my outfit for the day. I’m not sure what that’s about, but he dresses me up in a skin-tight number I’d planned on wearing out and about, so that I look more like some arm candy than a young professional. It honestly feels like some extension of his control from the night before, but I don’t mind it if it’s just clothes. I do my makeup while he showers and decide to throw my hair in a messy bun a la Emilia, and we head out looking like some kind of glam power couple with Yoongi rocking some designer street style.

I don’t have to wait long for an explanation on my outfit. Yoongi steers me through the whole morning, introducing me as his “lovely” assistant to all kinds of rich and famous people, like Lucien Legrange from Universe Music and DJ Khaleb and even Greg Kerstin. To say I’m starstruck would be the understatement of the century. I probably ramble way too much but Greg fucking Kerstin is listening to me go on about cello and Sbanford’s music program and how much I’m enjoying working with such talented people that I can’t help myself. He gives me his card! I’m going to frame it.

“That wasn’t too much, was it?” I ask Yoongi anxiously when we seat ourselves at the Disruption panel.

“No, it was cute,” he answers shortly. Why the sudden bad mood? 

“I wasn’t trying to be cute. Cute isn’t taken seriously.”

“It works to your advantage. I’m sure Kerstin would love to snatch up an earnest little girl like you.”

Little girl, again. Is that really how Yoongi sees me? Moreover— “Are you jealous?”

“What? No. Don’t be ridiculous.”

“You are! What, I’m not allowed to idolize anyone but you?” I tease, unable to stop from smirking indulgently. Yoongi flushes a pretty shade of pink.

“Shut up.”

“I won’t be snatched up by anybody. I’m quite happy where I am.”

“You’d better not be, or I’ll be really mad.”

“Don’t worry, I can be a good girl when I want to be.” Yoongi flushes even darker. His hand lands on my thigh and he squeezes, moving up the inside. “Unless you would rather I wasn’t.”

“Do whatever you’d like,” Yoongi retorts. He squeezes my thigh, hard, until I whimper. “You’re the one that has to live with the consequences.”

The implication is obvious, but I’m not going to be some demure, blushing slave girl right now. It’s more fun to tease Yoongi now that I know how much I can rile him up. Whether or not I’m ready for a repeat of last night, I like to see him blushing and sulky, like he can’t stand the thought of me getting attention from anyone but him.

He’s not the only one who has power here, and I’m not going to let it go to waste.

“Do your worst,” I shrug, acting as indifferent as I can while Yoongi is squeezing my thigh so hard I’m sure it will bruise. Damn, that smarts. I might be tempting fate here, but there’s only so much he can do while we’re in a conference hall filling up with people.

“Be careful what you wish for.”

The lights dim a second later. Yoongi straightens up to pay attention, and I take out my uPad for notes. The speaker is the founder of Spoopify, and I listen with rapt attention to his opening words on the shifts music delivery has taken over the last several years.

“Music distribution is inherently disruptive,” he says while he walks on stage. “To get your product in front of consumers, you have to be scrappy, tenacious, and most of all: innovative.”

I’m vibrating. I can’t believe it. Me! Me, sitting in a fancy ass conference, listening to the distribution geniuses that are forever innovating the framework of how artists get their sounds directly into the ears of consumers. Even Yoongi is taking notes, scribbling a page full of ideas that I try to peek at but find I can’t read at all. It’s all in Korean.

My tenure at 3 Point is still short, but I definitely feel like I’ve made it. I type out ideas for that streaming service that Yoongi and I talked about in between detailed notes and quotes, excited beyond belief to bounce my ideas off Yoongi once the panel is finished.

I don’t get to, though. We half-jog to another panel about storytelling in music, then duck into another one about blending digital production with acoustic sounds. I just about lose my shit over a clip of string instruments playing live for a radio broadcast with electronic backing. When the build drops I’m flooded with emotions—how can anything be so beautiful?

Lunch passes in a blur. It’s another networking event where I get passed around to people whose names I’ve only read in articles or seen perform on YourTube, which leaves me feeling even more like I’m going to vibrate right out of my skin. Thank god I have Yoongi there to place his hand on my back and calm me down before I embarrass myself. I hope when I have the honor of going to more star-studded events, I’ve learned how to not fangirl. I can’t exactly word vomit all over Lil NessX.

The final keynote it a long, question-filled interview with KDOT, and I listen to every single word he says like my life depends on it. By the time Yoongi and I exit back into the chilly Tahoe air, my composure has slipped into non-existence. My hands shake and I nearly drop my uPad, then lean heavily against a tree so I don’t fall on my face.

“I can’t believe I got to shake DJ Khaleb’s hand!” I ramble at top-speed while Yoongi looks at me with fondness. “And KDOT! He was right there! A hundred feet from where we were sitting! A-and, and, the lecture about blending acoustic and digital, did you hear that drop? The violin! The cello!!!”

Ah shit, I’m crying. Like, just a couple of tears, which I brush away. My cheeks hurt from grinning. I leap at Yoongi and hug him with all my strength.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you! Can we go back to the hotel after lunch? I wanna play with GarageBands!”

“Yeah—” Yoongi laughs quietly, patting my back. “Yeah, of course. You should make me a little something.”

“Aha no, no, I would only embarrass myself,” I say. Okay, I’m a little calmer. I take a step back; I’ve already embarrassed myself.

“What? No way,” Yoongi protests. “Don’t sell yourself short “

“Sorry, but you’re Yoongi Min. There’s no way anything I make will be worth listening to.”

“It’s worth it if I say it’s worth it. It’s not being cute that will make people not take you seriously—it’s your attitude.”

Harsh.

Harsh, but accurate. My face heats up.

“Yeah, okay. I’ll make you something.”

“Good girl,” Yoongi says approvingly. He pats my head. “Yaa, don’t look at me like that. It makes me feel bad.”

Uh? Oops. I try to look less embarrassed, but I’m still kind of reeling.

“If I’d known you’d be so happy, I would have had you sit in on Saturday, too.”

Aw. That makes me smile. Yoongi really is sweet. With the revelation that he wasn’t always taking me seriously, I take the comment in stride. Two days ago I probably would have snapped at him.

Character development, y’all.

I don’t think I’ve ever been more elated. After lunch at a burger bar, we go back to the room and pack up for our flight the next day, and then I plunk myself down in front of my uPad to get to work. If Yoongi wants a song, I had better deliver. But what should I compose?

I think of the clip from earlier. I think about our volatile relationship, and how we came together over the past few days. Anxiety and hurt, intimacy and warmth. How can I translate that into sound? I come up with a vague melody and beat, but it doesn’t sound right. I also feel stressed, because Yoongi keeps glancing at me while I fiddle around with sound settings, like he’s watching a very entertaining comedy show. I just hope he isn’t laughing at my attempts to put together a song.

You know what.

I put my AiryPods in. Take that, Yoongi. It’s a surprise.

Making music with music industry giant sitting a few feet away from me is way harder than I thought it would be. I wind up feeling so self-conscious that I move to the bedroom with the door shut to work in peace. I would really like to record my own cello samples, but the acoustics in my apartment are only so-so, which means I have to tinker out notes using the keyboard. It doesn’t sound bad, just not as resonant as I would have hoped. In an hour or two I have a framework to build on, but I’m not sure if it’s quite right, and I’m so lost in thought I don’t notice Yoongi is standing in front of me until he takes my AiryPods right out of my ears.

“Oh uh, hi. Do you need something?”

Yoongi doesn’t say anything, just puts the pods in his own ears—oh no—and takes my uPad before I can so much as protest.

The look on his face can only be described as blank. He’s. He’s listening to my silly little track, utterly stone faced, and I suddenly feel very dumb. He’s still Yoongi Min. Whether or not my attitude needs work is neither here nor there when a music legend is listening to my work. Yoongi has an ear for music that I could never dream of having.

“Hmm.”

What does that mean?!

It’s taking far too long for him to say anything. I shrivel a little, bracing myself.

It’s okay or it’s a good start or maybe even this is god awful is what I’m expecting Yoongi to say. I’m ready for it, being torn apart, having my ego shredded. When he puts down my uPad and takes out the earbuds, I hold my breath.

“Very emotive. What were you thinking about?”

Uh? What? My breath is still stuck to my ribs. He doesn’t hate it?! “Um. Stuff.”

“You must have done well in your composition classes.”

What?!

“It’s—it’s just a start. I’m still working on it.”

“The cello falls a little flat, but that’s probably just because I’ve still got the clip from earlier in my ear. Hang on.”

And he just. Listens again.

I can’t believe I made a little song and it didn’t immediately get ripped apart by someone this impressive.

“I like what you did with the backing strings. It’s subtle but has a good effect; it’s haunting. Were you planning on recording yourself for the melody?”

“Y-yeah, maybe. My apartment isn’t great for it, but maybe.”

“I like it,” Yoongi decides, sitting down on the bed and passing my uPad back to me.

“You don’t have any criticism?”

He looks at me. “It’s a gift? If you wanted to develop it, I could give you some pointers.”

Pointers. I stare at Yoongi like he’s grown another head, then just. Nod. God, what would it be like to collaborate on a song with him? I think I might die. Just the fact that he’s looking at me appraisingly instead of with scorn is too good to be true. I’m about to speak when his phone goes off.

“This is Yoongi,” he says into the receiver. “Tonight? Yeah, I can swing that. Who else?” I perk up a little, curious. Maybe there will be a nice dinner tonight? Or maybe someone needs Yoongi to do some work, and we’ll be able to curl up with our tablets and work together. Either way is good with me, though I’m leaning a little more towards working. The day was truly exhausting. “Yeah, okay. Thanks.”

“Who was it?” I ask as soon as Yoongi hangs up.

“Marten Lorenzta,” Yoongi says. Oh! Oh, oh, oh! We saw his keynote today. “Apparently there’s been a takeover at Whiskey Dick’s.”

“A takeover?”

Yoongi regards me grimly. “Karaoke.”

I’m pretty sure my expression is something along the lines of “!!!!!!!” when I hear the word karaoke. I want to go! I want! To! Go! Forget professionalism, I cling tightly to Yoongi’s side and wiggle my excitement out while he laughs and tries to throw me off. “We’re going! We have to go! Yoongi!”

“I already said yes, woman!” Yoongi succeeds at falling over, and not much else. I climb up to straddle him excited beyond belief, and he looks at me like—like I don’t know what. I feel x-rayed under his eyes, and suddenly very, very self-conscious. “Get down before you get yourself in trouble.”

Oh. Right. It’s all sexual now. I jump up as fast as I can, hurrying to the bathroom before he can make any more comments or flirt or anything like that. I’m not ready for that! Not yet! I want to go to karaoke and sing Jon Bovi and mingle with the biggest names in the industry!

And I want to figure out what exactly our relationship means, and how I can indulge him without breaking down all of my own boundaries. I ponder that while I wash my face and fix up my hair, just freshening up. The bathroom door creaks as I’m reapplying some makeup.

“Hey,” Yoongi says. Oh. He looks worried? “Are you okay?”

“Huh? Yeah? Do I seem not okay?”

“Well, yeah.” Yoongi comes in the bathroom and leans against the counter. “You just ran off.”

Right. I did do that, didn’t I? I know there’s no use lying to Yoongi, but I feel my pulse pick up just imagining the look on his face when I say I need us to slow down. He won’t like that, right? He’s a zero to one-hundred kind of guy, who definitely needs someone who can keep up with him. Maybe he won’t be as interested if I ask for more time.

“Seriously, what? I thought you were excited about karaoke.”

“I am! It’s just.”

“I’m not allowed to flirt with you now?”

“No! You can! I just.”

“Spit it out, already. Just what?”

“I had a great time! Really, I did.” Yoongi’s face goes stony in about a millisecond. I knew it. “But it was a lot. You’re so…ruthless.”

“You’re joking, right? You didn’t use a safeword a single time.”

“I didn’t want to,” I reply, glum. “I wanted to know everything. And now…”

“And now?” Uuughhh how am I supposed to do this with him sounding so fucking cold? He’s going to call it off, I know that, and I guess if my inexperience is that big of a deal, it’s probably for the best.

“I’m not ready for all of that.” I can’t look at him—I look at my reflection instead. Wait, no. If we’re going to have this talk, no avoidance!

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Yoongi look this blank.

“It was too much. And I know you like that, and I think maybe I like it too, but I…” I what? It’s stupid, pretending there’s a right way to be fuck buddies, but it’s better to say it than just let these feelings linger. I trusted Yoongi last night—I’ll trust him now. “I need time to learn all this stuff. I don’t even know what I like.”

Yoongi relaxes, then sits on the counter exhaling a big breath. Was he nervous about something? I blink.

“I’m sorry—”

“No, don’t apologize.”

“I’ve just. I’ve never even had anything inside me until yesterday and suddenly I’m a melting puddle of goo on the carpet and you’re threatening me with anal and like—sure, great! We can do anal! But maybe not today.”

Yoongi bursts out laughing, and I get the feeling that it’s at least a little related to the tension that’s now evaporated out of him. “I don’t care about that! You made it sound like you didn’t want this after all, you idiot.”

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“Oh. No, it’s not that. I definitely still want you.” Did he really think I was about to break it off? And look hurt by it? “And like—touching and kissing is fine, but maybe I should finish third base before I go for a home run?”

“Baseball metaphors,” Yoongi mutters with an eye-roll. “You can talk to me about these things. I’m not going to hold it against you if you’re not ready for certain things yet.”

The thought honestly does not compute. Yoongi is so demanding in our work lives, accepting nothing less than his own crazy standards with no room for argument. How would I know that he doesn’t hold me to that same standard in something intimate? I guess he’s just full of surprises.

I finish putting my makeup back on, deciding to do a very quick job of it and dab on lip gloss with eyeliner and mascara before calling it good. I don’t need a full face of makeup in a dark whiskey bar, especially if I’m going to be doing karaoke. It seems so like the thing Yoongi wouldn’t care about, but I guess he was an amateur rapper at some point. Maybe he’ll dazzle me with his skills. And even if he doesn’t, I’m bound to enjoy the show anyway.

Whiskey Dick’s is a lot smaller than I thought it would be. The absolute definition of a dive bar in every way. Pool tables, stinky with smoke, and is mostly filled with bottles and cans of beer. There’s a couple bottles of hard liquor on a makeshift shelf, but that’s about it, so I guess the name is a play on the condition more than the fact that there’s any actual whiskey involved.

The dive is also way more packed than I was anticipating. Mostly people are broken up into small groups, but there’s barely a path to walk through and a very sizable crowd cheering on some drunk person who’s slurring their way through Yeezie so painfully I’m not sure I want to actually be here. Yoongi nudges me in, however, promising that if it’s too much we can leave in about fifteen minutes.

Right. He has to make an appearance, probably, at a social function like this. We wade into the crowd to get beers. I’m disappointed that there’s no wine, but I’m totally unsurprised. Whatever. I lived in dorms, I can throw back even the nastiest beer if it means getting a pleasant buzz.

Natty Ice, I did not miss thee.

“I’m going to go mingle,” I shout at Yoongi over the caterwauling of Mr. Drunk Yeezie Impersonator. Yoongi nods, and we split up to do our own thing. Mine just so happens to be look for familiar faces that I’m relatively sure wouldn’t mind me approaching them. I see Lucien Legrange—nope. Not him. DJ Khaleb is talking in the middle of his own mini-crowd, but I don’t want to be a hanger-on.

Mingling is harder than it looks.

I wind up talking to a couple of girls who look just as awkward as me for a bit, not really about anything in particular—they’re both here with their bosses as well, what are the chances? There’s a bit of camaraderie there, but they’re kinda way more sloshed than me too. I guess Yoongi and I were fashionably late?

“Well if it isn’t Yoongi Min’s lovely assistant,” a voice says to my side. I jump about a mile and whirl around, surprised to find myself face to face with Greg Kerstin. Uhhh. Shit, looks like everyone turned up here tonight? “Can I buy you a drink?”

“Erh, I have a beer,” I laugh, like. It’s right in my hand?

Okay, so Greg Kerstin just offered to buy me a drink. That’s fucking wild.

“Oh, please. That’s hardly a drink.”

“Mm, yeah, that’s true,” I agree, because I don’t really have any other interesting things to say. I’m starstruck all over again! Shit, shit, shit.

“So, did you enjoy the conference? I saw you during the Digital Acoustic panel—I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone that excited about a cello.”

“Oh my god,” I light up at once, grinning. “Are you kidding me? That piece was fucking brilliant! Totally seamless, the perfect marriage of electronic and acoustic. Of course I’m biased! Cello is my instrument!”

“That’s right, I did remember correctly,” Mr. Kerstin says with a winning smile. “Now, about that drink.”

“Yeah, okay! Beer isn’t my favorite, anyway.”

We walk back to the packed bar, and somehow he manages to get the bartender’s attention immediately for a rum and coke. Yeah, that’ll work for me a lot better than the Natty Ice. I take my upgraded drink gratefully, wondering how I got Greg! Fucking! Kerstin! to buy me a drink. I let him put his hand on my back and steer me to a less busy corner of the bar, sipping from the little mixing straw and wondering what he wants.

“So, Yoongii Min. What’s it like working for him?”

“Oh!” I’m all smiles now. “It’s really great! He’s so—” I don’t know what to say here that doesn’t sound suspect. “He’s really dedicated, you know? I admire him a lot.”

Mr. Kerstin laughs politely. “He seems to go through assistants a lot. Last year he had a girl posted up in the lobby handling all his calls and emails straight to the end of the conference. You’re lucky you got to see anything.”

“Ha, yeah. I guess I am.”

“I hope he’s treating you right. He’s got a nasty reputation and a temper to match.”

Just what is this conversation? I laugh awkwardly, sip my drink, and shrug.

“You just have to know how to handle him,” I say, feeling kind of off. I don’t like the way he talks about Yoongi, but I’m also curious to hear about him from an outsider’s perspective.

“You must be a little spitfire, then.”

“I guess?”

This is getting more and more awkward. Mr. Kerstin puts his hand on my waist and I’m not sure what to do about that. I’m feeling the first wave of buzz and it doesn’t seem like such a big deal, but also it does and I feel like Yoongi wouldn’t be thrilled?

Whew boy. There’s hardly any space to move, but I manage to wriggle away in hopes that Mr. Kerstin will get the hint. It seems like he does—at least he doesn’t touch me again—and I figure it was probably meant to be a friendly gesture.

“Have you considered working for someone who isn’t a chronic headache?”

Whoa, guy! That’s Yoongi you’re talking about! I glare. “He’s not like that. I don’t know what you’ve heard, but he’s perfectly professional.”

“Yeah, I’m perfectly professional,” Yoongi’s voice is uhhh close. Thank god he came to find me. “See you around, Greg.”

And he drags me off, looking surly. I’m not even mad—that dude was seriously out of line.

“Do you want to go?” I ask, not even bothering to look over my shoulder at Mr. Kerstin or act apologetic. “I’m not really feeling it.”

“No way,” Yoongi says with a little shake of his head. “I’m going to show these amateurs how it’s fuckin’ done.”

“What?” 

“Have you been listening to this shit? My ears are bleeding.”

“You’re going to sing?”

“Sing? Hell no! I don’t sing. No way.”

Ooh, he’s drunk. I hope he sounds better than the person who’s currently on stage. Secondhand embarrassment is hard to handle. I trust Yoongi won’t be awful, since he used to rap in university, but I don’t know how good he actually is.

“Listen up, motherfuckers!” Yoongi calls out over the crowd when the song ends, and oh god he’s really, really drunk. He takes the mic from the person stumbling off platform and jumps up himself. “I thought you were professionals! What was that shit?”

Laughter rings out in the crowd. A few people whoop, and someone yells “Free Bird!” from the back.

“Free Bird? Fuck you.”

With an entrance like that, Yoongi damn well better deliver. He fumbles through the song options; a few people cheer and he flips the bird in no particular direction. A few seconds later, humble,,  thumps out of the bar’s speakers and Yoongi lets loose. Awful bold of him to choose this song when KDOT might be wandering around somewhere, but it only takes a few seconds for me to realize that Yoongi a completely different person when he’s performing.

That doesn’t make any sense, but we’re going with it. Or maybe it does make sense, because he used to rap with Namjoon and Hoseok, but that’s not the point! The point is, Yoongi is on fire and the bar has erupted with cheers and applause and I’m honest to god floored by his skill. It reminds me of something—like a sound I’ve heard before, but I can’t remember for the life of me what I’m thinking of. Not when Yoongi is up on that tiny platform, dancing and jumping to the beat and spitting lyrics like he’s been doing this his whole life.

Wow. Watching him is totally mesmerizing. He’s got such presence. Not until he drops the mic—literally, drops the mic on the floor—and struts over to me do I close my mouth, having been staring like a starstruck fangirl this entire time.

It’s one thing of Yoongi is a genius producer and heads the most influential music company in the States. It’s another if in addition to all that, he’s also a genius rapper with a stage presence to rival anyone else in the mainstream.

I’m in trouble.

Chapter Text

Ugliness can lie deep under the surface of even the most beautiful things. It’s a lesson I learned early on in meeting Emilia, whose demons took shape in the form of dysphoria when we were freshmen roommates meeting for the first time. How often she would stare at a body that didn’t feel like hers in the mirror and feel her identity fall apart with just the word “he,” a weapon that could cut her deep and leave her bleeding out with no warning. I learned how to support her, and how to be there and be empathetic even if I couldn’t possibly understand.

No matter how untouchable Yoongi comes off, he’s the same. Behind his aloof expression is a monster lying in wait without rhyme or reason, a person that cares so much about everything that I finally understand why he presents such an apathetic exterior to the world—to feel above it all.

I wake up at 4 AM the morning we’re supposed to fly out of Tahoe. It’s cold and pitch black, with the absence of Yoongi’s deep breaths that usually signify that he’s sleeping. I throw off the blankets to go to the bathroom, but his arms are around my waist and they tighten the second I try to move.

“Hang on,” I mumble, still mostly asleep, and with a pounding headache to boot. “Gotta pee.”

It’s cute, though. I had no idea Yoongi was the clingy type. I pat his hands to try to get him to let go.

“Stay?”

“Yoongi, I really have to pee,” I say a bit more firmly than I mean to, but shit, when you gotta go…

“Please,” he whispers, and it’s then that I realize something is off. Why is he awake so early in the morning? I turn my head to look back at him, and I notice my hair is sticking to the back of my neck, uncomfortable and damp.

“Did you drool all over me?”

Gross. Somehow endearing, but gross. 

“I’m sorry,” Yoongi whispers. His voice is shaking. Why is his voice shaking? “I’m sorry, I’m—”

Still sort of trying to pry his hands off, I freeze. He crying? My heart starts pounding and I flip over on autopilot to gather Yoongi up in my arms, springing to action before it’s even concrete in my head that something is very, very wrong. “Hey, no—what? You have nothing to be sorry for. You’re okay,” I say. Uhhh help! What do I do!

“I can’t—” Yoongi gasps in a deep breath, then another, erratic. Shit! I don’t know what to do! I try to pull him closer, so that we’re flush together. “I can’tbreathe—”

This is so sudden. I don’t know what this is about, but Yoongi is on the verge of hyperventilating and his hands are shaking where they’re fisted in my tshirt. Tears leak onto my chest as he tries to curl up, and it’s all happening so fast I feel stinging in my own eyes.

“Yoongi, it’s okay. If you want to cry, just cry. I’m here.”

“No—no—no—” Yoongi stutters out, shaking his head in slow motion. “Can’t—I can’t—”

“You can,” I answer, gentle as I can be while trying to be firm at the same time. “You’re safe with me, okay? Just let it out.”

That seems to break some of the dam—Yoongi shakes with the force of his crying, so hard I’m worried he’s going to hurt himself. I lie there helplessly, massaging the back of his neck, his shoulders, scratching his hair, anything to try to transfer some calm to him so he can just breathe. I’ve never dealt with Yoongi having a panic attack; I don’t know if he’ll respond to the tricks I learned from Emilia. If he’s accepting touch, that’s a good sign, but what if I push him in the wrong direction?

I have to do something, though. Hearing him fall apart like this is heartbreaking. Tears are falling down my own cheeks, but I refuse to break down now, not while Yoongi needs me.

“Come on, Yoongi, you need to breathe,” I whisper. My hand rests on his chest, just over his heartbeat; it’s going wild. “Breathe in…two…three…four. Breathe out…two…three…four.”

It doesn’t work immediately, but after a few tries, I can feel Yoongi’s chest start to rise and fall with my counting. Thank god, I don’t know what I would have done if it hadn’t worked. There are a few false starts—Yoongi’s breathing evening out before dissolving into choked gasps for air—but we get there. I don’t know what to expect on the other side, but I keep talking so he has something that’s hopefully comforting to latch on to.

“You’re okay. You’re safe, Yoongi. It’s going to pass. You’re safe, and I’ve got you, and you’re going to be alright, just breathe…”

Yoongi lets out a final hiccup, but doesn’t move. That’s fine—he’s breathing. Still crying, but not like before, when his sobs shook us both and left me feeling like I was on the verge of breaking down, too.

“Can I try something?” I ask, still petting Yoongi’s hair. He nods with a muffled whimper. “Can you look up?”

Slowly, Yoongi raises his head. My eyes have adjusted to the dark somewhat, but I still can’t see much. I give Yoongi a quiet warning that I’m going to turn the light on, and put it on its dimmest setting once he gives the assent. The light stings, but I can definitely tell Yoongi is feeling it worse with his puffy red eyes that squint into little slits.

Yup, my heart is aching. Only when Yoongi reaches up to wipe a tear from my cheek do I remember that I was crying, too.

“It’s okay,” I reassure him. “I was a little scared, but I’m fine now. Don’t worry about me, okay?”

Again, like he’s suspended in slow motion, Yoongi frowns. Has he gone non-verbal? I can’t read him at all, he just looks. Blank. Not the normal way, where there’s still a touch of Yoongi underneath the aloof exterior, but like he’s been wiped clean of all thoughts and emotions.

“Let’s play a game, okay? It’s not very hard. Just tell me five things you can see,” I say gently.

Silence. Yoongi’s eyes dart around the room, then settle on me again. “You,” Yoongi mumbles quietly. “Eyelashes…lips. Pillows. The…” he trails off, looking confused.

“One more thing, Yoongi. Take your time.”

“The…the window.”

“Good. See? It wasn’t too bad. Now, what are four things you can feel?”

For a second, Yoongi doesn’t answer. “Soft,” he whispers. His hand is still on my cheek. “Warm.” We’re still close together, sharing body heat under the blanket. “Laying down…the bed is soft, too. Your breath tickles.”

Phew. Okay, he’s coming back to me. “Three things you can hear?”

“Your voice…and mine.” Yoongi tilts his head and looks around, like he’s observing the place for the first time. “Wind.”

“Two things you can smell.”

“Your perfume. Laundry soap.”

“Okay, last one. One thing you can taste.”

I don’t expect Yoongi to press our lips together—it takes me completely by surprise, but I’m so, so relieved. It worked. Thank god, it worked.

“You.”

“Hey, you,” I murmur. “Welcome back.”

Yoongi says nothing at first, just wipes his face and scowls as he does it, like he’s mad he even cried. I don’t know what to do but keep petting him—tracing his ear and tucking back his hair, letting my thumb skate down his jaw.

“Sorry you had to see that,” he mutters. He still sounds dazed, but I know it will take some time before he’s totally himself again.

“I’m not accepting any apologies right now,” I chide. “Closed for business.”

“Brat.”

“Nope,” I reply. I will not have arguments, not about this. “Reasonable. Would you expect me to apologize if I had a panic attack?”

“No? That’s absurd.”

“Exactly.”

“Hey—” Yoongi glares at me, but I put a finger over his lips and shake my head. I can tell he’s not back to 100%, but he’s doing a lot better. There’s some color in his cheeks and he’s talking more or less normally.

“Seriously, don’t apologize. You’re human.”

I don’t know if Yoongi backs down because of my insistence or because he just doesn’t have the energy to argue. Either way, he nods and then looks away. “So…”

“You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to.”

“I want to.”

That’s surprising. I wouldn’t have expected Yoongi to open up about his feelings this easily, seeing as how cut off from them he usually seems.

“The conversation we had yesterday. You called me ruthless.”

My heart skips a beat. Oh, no. Guilt immediately churns in my stomach.

“I’m sorry,” I start, but Yoongi shakes his head and I fall silent.

“I went too hard. I wanted to show you what it’s like to be with me, but I pushed you way too hard and scared you off. I should have checked in more, or realized that you were overwhelmed.”

“No.” I shake my head. “I got exactly what I wanted.”

“You did?”

“Yoongi, do you think I didn’t like it?” Yoongi nods, looking confused. “I thought about using safewords. A couple times, even! I just didn’t. I wanted the same thing you wanted.”

“Which is what?”

“To know what it’s like to be with you, as you are. I don’t regret it at all, okay?”

“But—” Yoongi frowns, finally looking back at me. “I seriously hurt you and just kept going when I should have called it off! I’ve been a total asshole ever since we met and I crossed lines and—I feel like a monster!”

“Why?”

“Because! I should be taking care of you, not slapping you around and treating you like shit!”

“Why?” I press, and Yoongi looks both baffled and irritated.

“What do you mean, why? Because you’re a sweet girl who deserves romance and whatever.”

“I didn’t ask you for romance. I told you it was okay to hit me.”

“That’s exactly what I mean!” Oh, no, he’s getting worked up again. “Why should you subject yourself to this just because I want it? And what’s wrong with me that I want to hurt people, anyway? It’s fucked up!”

“You’re operating under the assumption that I don’t want the same thing. Yeah, you definitely crossed a line, many times. I was angry and confused but I didn’t stop you because I was curious, too. When you grabbed me at the airport—” Yoongi flinches, like he can’t bear to think of it. “I was definitely confused, but I liked it. Just because I’ve never had a dick in me doesn’t mean I can’t put two and two together. You wanted to hurt me, and I wanted to let you. That’s all there is to it.”

“Why am I like this…?”

“Does that matter? You are, and there’s nothing wrong with you. Lots of people are like you. Just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s fucked up.”

Yoongi is trying to find another angle, I can tell. I gaze at him steadily, refusing to waver. It hurts—I don’t want Yoongi to think of me as some naive little girl that doesn’t know any better. I could have spoken up or flat out refused him. I didn’t. 

I especially hate the idea of him thinking of himself as a monster. He’s not! That idea can’t be further from the truth.

“I never felt pressured. I mean, I didn’t get it for a while. I thought you were just an awkward asshole,” I admit with a sheepish smile.

“I am—”

The point is, you aren’t coercing me or tricking me. I want you, and I decided that before we came to Tahoe.”

“When?”

“That morning in your apartment. I decided then.”

That seems to relax Yoongi a lot; I can literally feel the tension melt off of him. His eyes are still red, and his brows are still pinched, but he doesn’t look miserable.

And he isn’t panicking.

“Do you want to go back to sleep?” Yoongi asks, and that’s a good sign. If he’s well enough to sleep, he’ll be okay until morning.

“Nah. Once I’m up, I’m up. I’ll shower and pack, you just rest.”

“No way. You don’t get to leave,” Yoongi full on pouts, and if I weren’t still calming down myself, I would probably laugh. Instead, I ruffle his hair.

“So come take a bath with me. It might help.”

“Maybe…”

“Do you want me to stay here while you sleep?”

“A bath sounds good,” Yoongi decides. “But we’ll shower first. I’m not sitting in dirty water.”

Fair. We climb out of bed and go into the bathroom, taking a quick shower together. Yoongi lets me wash his hair and scrub him down, and there’s such a confused expression on his face that I wonder if he’s not used to being the one that’s taken care of or something. I can’t help it, though. The boy just had a panic attack, and he deserves at least a little pampering.

The bathroom is full of steam, the bath nice and hot, and we have a view of the beginnings of the sunrise over the lake out of the bathroom window. I lean against the back of the tub and Yoongi leans back against me, still looking puzzled by what’s happening. I play with his damp hair—brushing it back from his forehead, stroking it gently, and letting our breaths sync.

“It’s too quiet,” Yoongi says after a long bout of silence. “Can we put on some music?”

“Mm…” I really don’t want to get out of the bath. We just topped it up with a second round of steaming water, and I feel so relaxed I can hardly open my eyes.

There’s an easy solution for this, but I am not a singer. I mean, I’m not awful, but I’m definitely not Jungkook level or anything.

Not that I have to be, probably. Yeah, okay, I’m being silly. If Yoongi can enjoy my dinky little arrangement in GarageBands, he won’t mind my mediocre singing. I hum at first, totally shy, just an old song I can’t really remember the words to. The sound of rippling water is my background music—I trace along Yoongi’s chest and collarbones, up his neck, along his jaw, just exploring.

“This is weird.”

I open my eyes then, looking at Yoongi. What’s weird about it? “I’m glad I didn’t start by singing.”

“Not that,” Yoongi snaps, and I’m a little taken aback. “All of this. I’m going to get dressed.”

Ouch. That leaves me confused, but I tell myself to be patient. He’s had a long night and maybe this approach isn’t right for him after all. There’s no use in being hurt because Yoongi isn’t comfortable with being taken care of like this.

I watch Yoongi wrap a towel around his waist and start drying his hair, silent. “Sorry. Did I make you uncomfortable?” I ask.

“Yes.”

“Okay. I won’t do that again.”

“It’s fine,” he says shortly. Yeesh. I shrink a little into the water. “You were trying to help.”

“Yeah…” 

“No, seriously. You were trying to help, I just. It felt weird.”

“How come?”

“Dunno. Too nice. It’s weird.”

Oh. Yoongi...he’s uncomfortable because I was being too nice? I frown, looking at him. Our eyes meet and he curses.

“Hey, no. Don’t feel bad. I’m the problem, not you.”

“You’re not a problem, Yoongi. Not to me.”

“Tch.”

And he turns away.

Yoongi is really not great at this whole emotions thing, is he? I drain the tub and grab a towel of my own. Once we’re in fresh clothes, we go about picking up the hotel room and packing our stuff away in relative silence—not that there’s any weird feelings or anything. We’re just tired. Going home can’t happen fast enough, and thankfully, Yoongi wanted a 9 AM flight out of Reno.

Getting up at 4 was maybe not the worst after all.

By the time we’re on the plane, Yoongi is acting totally normal, and I’m grateful. It means my stress drops a little, and I can relax and check emails while he sleeps curled up as much as he can be while leaned against the wall of the plane. The poor thing must be exhausted after all he went through. I put one of those crummy airplane blankets over him, smiling fondly, then go about my business. I have a venue, a caterer, entertainment, and now a DJ confirmed before the short flight is over, and message Hoseok that all I have left is the itinerary for the night and some decorators to make it look snazzy. It’s months away, but I’m super excited for the street art workshop and having the chance to relax with my new friends.

Not for the first time, I find myself thinking I’m just about the luckiest person in the world. Maybe I don’t have an amazing dream, and maybe I can’t do some of the things that I used to want—like playing in symphonies—but I’ve found a place to make my own. At the end of the day, isn’t that the most important thing? To have a place where you feel like you belong?

The only obstacle currently in my path is how I’m going to break the news of what happened over my Tahoe weekend to Emilia. Thinking she’ll be happy with me after the argument we had would be foolish to the point of madness. I could elect not to tell her, but it feels wrong to hide things from my best friend. I don’t want to lie. Plus, she would know something is up pretty fast, and I shudder to think how she would react if she found out I tried to hide it from her.

An opportunity to talk about it presents itself much sooner than I would have expected. When I get home, Emilia is curled up on a blanket in a pile of binders and papers. Did she work from home just to welcome me back? I hesitate at the door, then walk into my apartment nervously. Nervously, because Yoongi brings my bags in behind me, and this is so not how I saw any of this going.

“Welcome home, darling,” Emilia says, turning to face me with a smile that quickly drops into a frown. Like. Less than a second, she’s looking at Yoongi like I’ve dragged in a bag of trash or something. “What is he doing here?”

“Uhhh, hey, haha—”

“I’m carrying the lady’s bag. Is that okay with you?”

Noooo. No! Please, you two! Get! Along!

“Supposing that’s all you came for,” Emilia replies, turning back to her laptop to resume typing away.

Hey, am I allowed to decide anything here? That’s so not fair. She’s brought people home all the time!

“I think I’d like to have some tea, if her highness doesn’t mind.”

“She does.”

No! Stop it!

“Funny, I thought this was a shared apartment.”

“You’re making the assumption—”

Enough!” I half-shout, surprising even myself. Emilia and Yoongi both look at me. “If you want to hate each other, that’s fine! But in front of me, you will be civil!”

I glare between them, especially at Emilia. We talked about this! And I have half a mind to chew her out right now.

“You’re right,” she says after her moment of shock, straightening up and looking at Yoongi with a much kinder expression. “Forgive me. My mama bear came out.”

“Yeah, sure. Let’s forget about it,” Yoongi replies. I feel kind of bad for scolding him, too—Emilia has been the instigator. I reach for his hand and squeeze it, which doesn’t go unnoticed.

“I take it you two had a good weekend.”

“Emilia,” I say, mostly firm but also a little pleading. “Can we talk later?”

“Yes,” she nods primly, then gets up to give me a hug. Thank god—if she’s hugging me, then we’re alright. “But I will say this to Mister Min: if you hurt her, your body will be found no less than a dozen pieces.”

You know what? Fair. That is totally fair. I look at Yoongi nervously, but he doesn’t look mad.

“Deal,” he shrugs. I have no idea what he’s thinking, but he smiles when he looks at me. “I have to get to the office. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Wh—no way! You barely slept last night!”

“Whoa! Details, leave them out! Please!” Emilia says, looking scandalized.

“I have insomnia,” Yoongi says, still with a little smile. “Rest assured, that’s all it was. You two have a nice day.” He inclines his head as a goodbye, then leaves quietly.

Time to get this over with. I drop down in the bean bag leftover from our university housing days, looking around the apartment. It’s cozy, but after being in such a nice suite and hanging out at Yoongi’s, I realize it isn’t that impressive. What must he think of me?

It’s not the first time I’ve been embarrassed over being poor, but I still hate it.

“I really wish you would give him a chance. I know you think he’s manipulating me, but he’s not.”

“I won’t apologize for worrying about you, darling,” Emilia says. She climbs back into her binder pile and sits cross-legged on the couch. “But my behavior was inappropriate. I forgot myself. For that, I’m sorry.”

I nod. “Apology accepted.”

Emilia sighs, looking very conflicted for a moment as she smooths out her papers and goes about resuming work. I wonder what she’s thinking—usually she just says it. I guess we’re a little alike in that way.

“So, let’s skip the lecture and go straight on to the other important details,” she says finally. I tilt my head. What does she mean? “How big is his dick?”

I choke.

“What!!!”

“What do you mean, ‘what?’ It’s a perfectly valid question!”

“I don’t know! It’s dick sized! Emilia, what the fuck?!”

“Is he a good lay?”

Pshdjnsajdf!!!!!!

“Yes! Great! The best I’ve ever had!”

“That’s not saying much. You don’t have many experiences to compare to.”

Blushing so hard I might as well be glowing, I pick up a throw pillow and aim it directly at Emilia’s face.

Chapter Text

I drag myself to the office on Wednesday, more tired than I can remember ever being but excited to see Hoseok and Yoongi. My day doesn’t feel right without my sunshine, and San Francisco is definitely starting to lack it. Lucky for me, Hoseok’s beaming face is just what I need; I throw my arms around him, just happy to talk to someone who is made up of nothing but cheer.

“Hobiiii,” I greet him, leaning back to grin. “You’re a sight for sore eyes.”

“Ehehe—did you have a good weekend? Are you ready for the party?”

“Yes and yes!” I chirp. I realize I haven’t been very affectionate with anyone before, but Hoseok doesn’t seem bothered at all. On the contrary, he gives me a big squeeze and we twirl around a little, both of us giggling. “I have everything booked except for the decorating team.”

“Aren’t you forgetting something?”

“Er. Am I?”

“My party. For Halloween?” I blink. I don’t remember any such thing. “I sent out an email invite three weeks ago?”

“Oh, you know what...I don’t think I saw it. Yoongi gets so many emails.”

“You’re coming, right? We’re having a costume contest.”

The front door to the office opens. Hoseok lets go of me, as if just realizing we were still holding on, and Jungkook and Jimin join us at the front desk. I’m still a little starstruck, but I smile brightly at Jungkook, who mumbles “hi, noona” with a shy smile.

Aw, he’s calling me noona. My heart swells with emotion. 

“Do you already have your costumes?” Hoseok asks. He’s still beaming like he’s forgotten how not to smile, a cute little blush on his cheeks. Wow, he must really love Halloween.

“Hobi hyung takes Halloween really seriously,” Jungkook informs me.

Aha! Called it.

“That’s right,” Jimin laughs, patting my back. “If you haven’t gotten your costume yet, you better hurry before the good stuff is taken.”

“Even Yoongi already ordered his. Actually, this was delivered this morning.” Hoseok gestures at a small box. “That might be it. I guess he’s tired of me reminding him.”

How seriously does Hoseok take Halloween? I don’t have any ideas for a costume, and I don’t know if I can put anything together on such short notice. I guess I can order off Amerzon, but will that be good enough?

“Well, if I’ve got a package to deliver, I’ll see you boys later,” I say regretfully. Hoseok gives me the box and I take it back to Yoongi’s office, my heart beating a little too quickly. I haven’t seen him since the other day, and I have no idea what kind of mood he’ll be in.

“Did that damn Halloween costume arrive?” Yoongi asks, sounding exasperated when I come into his office. “Hobi has been badgering me about the party for weeks now.”

“I don’t know, why don’t you take a look?” I place the box on his desk, then decide to place myself there as well. Carefully distant, but not so much that it seems awkward. I hope. I’m kind of new to this “fucking my boss” thing.

Whatever Yoongi is working on must be boring, or irritating him; he doesn’t even argue, just takes the box to peek inside, and nods once in satisfaction. “I assume you’re going?”

“Well…” I laugh. “I didn’t know about it until about five minutes ago.”

“Still, you should go.”

“Is that an order?” I tease. Yoongi smirks.

“Of course it is. I have ultimate control over you and everything you do now.”

“Pfft—” Have I mentioned that I just love this version of Yoongi that jokes and laughs with me? This is dangerous. “Alright then, Sir, I’ll make sure to get a costume.”

“It’s a themed party, so don’t fuck it up. You do not want to deal with that madman being pissed at you over Halloween.”

“Oh? It sounds like you have experience.”

“Maybe I do,” Yoongi grumbles. “Maybe I didn’t dress up last year. Maybe he still hasn’t let it go.”

“Poor thing.” I pat Yoongi’s mussed hair, then comb it out a little with my fingers. “What’s the theme?”

Yoongi catches my hand and brings it down so he can kiss my knuckles. “Hell.”

“What? That’s so vague!” I complain, wrinkling my nose. I’m not sure what to do for that, when the possibilities are totally endless.

“I can buy you a costume, but I can’t promise you won’t be mad at me over it.”

That means some sexy nonsense, doesn’t it? Yeah, not going that route, not for a party where people from the company are going to be showing up. I hop off Yoongi’s desk and go to my own, wondering if I’ve been around long enough that I’m allowed to look up Halloween costumes on the clock. I can be a devil, probably? Low effort, and easy to grab off the internet. I do a quick search and immediately close the tab—there’s no way. The costumes are all either lingerie or close to it. Thanks for nothing, Amerzon!

A series of emails comes in throughout the morning. A lot of them, and theyre all from Lucie. The volume is a little weird, and I’m definitely curious, but I just forward them to Yoongi without thinking too much about it. They work together, right? It’s probably about the outreach program, the one thing that sort of redeems her in my eyes.

I’m still searching costume ideas when Yoongi shoots me a message on Slackr.

Yoongi Min, Genius

If Lucie emails me any more, delete them.

 

Seventeen✨

???

what

i thought shes ur most ~important~ contact

 

Yoongi Min, Genius

Just delete them.

 

Seventeen✨

is everythig ok

 

Yoongi Min, Genius

Drop it.

Please?

Oooh, he said please. I chew my lower lip, feeling anxious for reasons I can't name.

Seventeen✨

sry

ill delete them

im out here if you need me ok?

 

Yoongi Min, Genius

Yeah. Thanks.

...

❤️

What does that mean?! I feel my heart pick up in my chest and a blush spread across my cheeks. Don’t give me the wrong idea, Yoongi! Don’t! My heart can’t take it!

Seventeen✨

❤️

 

Oh, lord. Here I go. Just throwing my heart out there, but fuck if I don't want to hope that it's not just like, that thing where people heart emoji at each other because they just do, and it doesnt mean—

Anyway. Dropping that. Ill get way too stressed. Plus, Lucie has just sent another email, and I'm curious what the hell shes sending that would make Yoongi request that I delete them. I open the latest, and read a few lines, then promptly delete it with my face an even more violent shade of red. Its not about work at all! Wow! I wish I were surprised, but Im more just disappointed. Yoongi has been reading those, and probably feeling super uncomfortable. Ugh. That woman is awful. I just set up a filter to default her emails to trash, then go back on my costume mission. I really don't want to think about the fact that some lady knows what Yoongi tastes like and is talking about how much she misses it in an email to my lover. Its so weird! Im so mad!

No. Costumes.

But I really cant find anything good. Which is how I wound up asking Emilia for help. Ideas, first of all, because all I could think of was “devil” or “succubus” and both of them are way too sexy. No judgment here, but there’s definitely a time and place. Maybe I can have an NSFW version for Yoongi. For an after-party. Just for the two of us. Having the party on Friday means no early mornings.

“You could be a goblin,” Emilia says, sipping tea and looking smug.

“Ha, ha. You got me,” I reply. I would shove her, but she’s holding steaming liquid. Bad idea.

“Or a fallen angel, and make it a metaphor for Yoongi to figure out.”

Actually?

“That’s hilarious? Oh god, the look on his face if he even manages to figure it out,” I cackle. Not that I place any sort of inherent value on being virginal or ~unspoiled~, but I think it would be funny all the same. And ‘fallen angel’ is different from a devil, sort of, so it might be kind of original? “What does a costume like that even consist of?”

“You have a time limit, so whatever we can find,” Emilia says. Bless her, she’s already searching. I lean on her shoulder to watch her scroll, occasionally pointing out something I like, and I’m a little surprised at myself for agreeing to some of the things that wind up in my cart. I’m pretty sure I’ll at least be let into the party, regardless of the quality of my costume. It’s better than wearing something from the Spirit Store, probably?

Why am I worried about a Halloween costume this much?! It’s just a costume for a party! No big deal at all, right?

Hahaha wrong.

The worry was totally reasonable, because a Hoseok Halloween is not your average Halloween.

I take VART up into Berkeley on Friday night, where Hoseok lives in Paradise Park. I’m a little nervous about going alone; I’m not that familiar with Berkeley, save for going to the Greek Theater to catch shows. I’m following my GPS to the letter while I walk from the Ashby station, but once I turn onto 59th, I really just don’t need it anymore. I’m drawn to a beacon of spooky that blankets the street in eerie green light, and it’s just so Hoseok that I have to stop and stare.

The outside of the house looks like he’s been preparing for this his whole life: “boarded up” windows and “destroyed” walls. There are ghosts hanging out of a big oak tree that has a swing in it, where a skeleton sits with an empty beer bottle and a pair of sunglasses on. A cauldron hanging from twine-tied branches oozes fog, while a bunch of pumpkins sit underneath, their exaggerated faces all glowing.

And don’t even get me started on the cemetery. If I didn’t know it was a decoration, I would be thoroughly creeped out. Hoseok just makes it look so real, with flowers on the headstones and hands or heads stuck in the ground like there are bodies beneath trying to come back to the world of the living. I walk through a heavily webbed set of archways and to the front door, which has a sign that just says, come in if you dare.

I have to hand it to him, this is cool. I go inside, greeted only by pitch black.

Uhh. Okay, that’s not creepy at all. I close the door and feel my way to the wall, only then noticing there are glowing green arrows on the floor. I follow them, still holding onto the wall, and run straight into something solid. Someone grunts.

“Oh my god! I’m so sorry—I can’t see a thing! Are you okay?”

“Noona?” Jungkook’s voice asks. “I’m fine, are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. Where are you going?”

“Jimin hyung is lost outside. I need to go find him. I’ll see you later!”

I sense Jungkook pass by me. I still can’t see anything, so I continue to grope along the wall until I turn a corner. At the end of this hallway is a door surrounded by yellow and red string lights. A literal descent into hell, I get it. Not bad, Hoseok.

The door creaks open and I climb down the stairs not sure what I should be expecting. The thump of music is loud, and I come level with a much larger crowd of people than I expected—some I recognize, some that I don’t. This basement is huge. It’s bathed in red light, with fire outlined on the wall in more string lights. Cobwebs and spiders line the walls and ceiling, fog rolls across the floor, and I’m momentarily overwhelmed trying to adjust.

I don’t see Yoongi anywhere, but I can’t mistake Hoseok, even with his costume. He’s grinning and dancing away in the middle of the room, while people either dance along with him or clap and cheer.

“You’re here!” Hoseok yells, darting through the crowd to grab my hands. “Looking good! What are you, what are you…”

I could ask the same thing. My costume isn’t nearly as cryptic as his—he’s wearing a big, black hat and a black robe of some sort, his face painted white and black. If it wasn’t for the fact that he won’t stop smiling, the effect would be creepy.

“I know! A fallen angel! Welcome to hell, friend! Drinks are over there—” Hoseok points to a table laden with lunch bowls and buckets of ice with bottles in them. “Food is there—” My eyes land on a bar against the back wall, which is also covered, this time in spooky looking snacks. “And the main event is right here in front of you!”

“Did you do all this yourself, Hobi? This is amazing!”

“Hehe, yeah, in my free time. Halloween only comes once a year, my dear fallen angel, so make sure you celebrate as hard as you can!”

“Will do, Mr. Hobi, sir. Hey, have you seen Yoongi?”

“Yoongi? He’s over by the snacks.” Hoseok points him out, and I will myself to stay rational. He’s dressed in skintight black jeans that have rips and tears up to the top of his thighs, with a leather jacket over a mesh shirt and a demon mask that covers his eyes and nose. He’s watching the party and not moving, but then his eyes drift over to me. I gulp. Hoseok grabs my hand and tugs me through the sea of people until we’re standing with Yoongi in a much less crowded corner.

“Hey, Yoongi! I brought a friend!” Hoseok says, bouncing where he’s standing and looking so excited and full of energy that I can’t help but absorb some of it.

“Friend!” I repeat over the music, bouncing too. Yoongi looks me up and down, but I can’t read his expression.

“Nice denim jacket. It really completes the look,” Yoongi says, then busies himself taking a sip of beer.

Oh, right. I shrug off my wings, then the jacket, and Hoseok helps me out putting the wings back on.

“Ooh, sexy,” Hoseok says, causing Yoongi to scoff. Just the same as ever when other people are around.

“I like your costume too, Lil Meow Meow,” I say brightly, flicking Yoongi’s chest. Hoseok loses it—laughing so hard he doubles over and grabs onto Yoongi for support. He must be a little drunk, if that’s all it takes to set him off.

“What did you call me?” Yoongi asks, sounding cold. I frown—I get that we can’t act like lovers in front of other people, but it would be nice if he’d be a little kinder.

“Lighten up, it’s a party! If you’re not careful, I’ll steal her away to do all my work instead,” Hoseok says. I flush, because he totally sounds like he’s making a threat; he grabs me around the waist and tugs me to him.

“Oh yeah? You want the brat?” Yoongi asks, looking at us like he doesn’t care at all. “Take her.”

“Mwahaha! You’re all mine now friend, let’s go!”

Hoseok drags me away, toward where the dancing is happening. My head is spinning. Is Yoongi serious? I glance back at him, not bothering to hide my confusion, but Yoongi smiles at me and waves me off, calling “Go have fun.”

Okay, whiplash. Then again, Yoongi doesn’t like crowded places. He must be anxious, and he’s definitely acting like I’m just an employee. It makes sense. I don’t like crowds much either, but I have a decent tolerance for parties. Maybe I can drag him off to somewhere quiet later, where he can relax.

For now, I have no choice but to dance. I’m not nearly as fluid as Hoseok, but I make it work for the most part, following his movements and working up a sweat with all the other bodies moving around the basement. I get lost there for a while; Jimin dances over to us, looking way too fucking hot in nothing but a bondage harness and leather pants, and somehow I wind up between him and Hoseok being grinded on from both sides while I try to keep up. Uhh, are all company parties like this? My head falls back against Hoseok’s chest, and his hands find my hips, and uhhh, uhhhhhhh.

I search for Yoongi. He’s watching me, closer to the crowd than he was before. I hate the damn mask he has on—all I can see is a smirk. His eyes are totally hidden from me. 

“Pardon me, excuse me, I need to borrow this!” I hear Jin yelling over the music, and then he’s extracting me from between Hoseok and Jimin. 

Who decide that without me, the next best dirty dancing target is each other.

I feel less overheated away from the middle of the floor. “Jin! Hi!” I look him up and down; he’s dressed in business casual with glasses on and a briefcase slung over his shoulder. Uhh. What is he supposed to be?

“You looked like you needed some rescuing from those drunk heathens,” Jin says, close to my ear. “Namjoon was about to murder them.”

I look around for Namjoon, who is indeed watching us, wearing a cheap devil costume that looks like it came from the Spirit Store. It looks so cheesy I have to bite my tongue not to laugh.

“It’s okay! No one needs to defend my honor,” I joke, though I’m not sure how I feel about what just happened. Flattered? Confused? Worried Yoongi is going to get protective and join Namjoon in murdering Jimin and Hoseok? What a night, and I’ve only been here for forty-five minutes. “You didn’t dress up?”

“Excuse me?” Jin asks, haughty. “Do you not recognize me, the ultimate sinner amongst you commoners?”

“Umm...nope. Can’t say I do.”

“I,” Jin puffs up and poses, one hand on his hip, the other at his chin. “Am a lawyer.”

I burst out laughing, shoving his shoulder while he winks and blows me a kiss. Cheesy, but still so charming. How does he do it?

“Well, you certainly stand out in the sea of red devils.”

“Which was the goal, I’m sure,” Yoongi says, having joined us with Namjoon.

“You could learn a thing or two about standing out!” Jin tosses it back at Yoongi, who remains expressionless. At least his mouth doesn’t move. “When’s the last time you went on a date, huh?”

“Last weekend,” Yoongi shrugs. I try to look innocent. “When’s the last time you had luck with your year-long project?”

Oof. Burn.

“I’ll have you know that’s going just fine, thank you.”

“Year long project?” Namjoon asks. We all look at him. “This is the first I’ve heard about it.”

The tension is so thick that Namjoon looks around at all of us nervously. 

“Alright alright, no work talk at the party,” Namjoon concedes, and he scoots off looking confused.

“Going great, huh?”

“I’ll kill you, Yoongi!” Jin roars, grabbing Yoongi around the neck and shaking him.

Yaaa, fuck off! It’s not my fault you haven’t told him anything!”

They’re both laughing; Yoongi punches Jin’s side—gently—until Jin lets go. Once Jin is free, he stretches his arms over his head.

“I’m going to ask him soon,” he confides. “I thought he would get it, but apparently having a 148 IQ doesn’t mean you’re not stupid.”

Yoongi cackles, and I’m so surprised I join in while Jin rolls his eyes acting dramatic. It’s so good to see Yoongi having fun! With everyone else! I want to hug him, or lean on him, but instead I just slap his back a few times while he coughs from the force of his own laughter. I expected to feel a little lost during the party, but this is good—I feel relaxed, and welcome. Everywhere I look, someone smiles or waves, Yoongi is by my side even if he’s acting like his usual grumpy self, and Hoseok…

Well, maybe this is just what drunk Hoseok is like. People tend to let loose at parties, right? It’s not hard to believe that Hoseok is a flirt, especially drunk, or that it was just harmless fun with no meaning behind it. I mean, Jimin was there too. I’m probably overthinking it.

“Come back to the dance floor!” Hoseok’s voice brings me out of my thoughts, and I look over at him; he’s sweating, his makeup a little smudged but still smiling so brightly that the effect is not at all what it’s supposed to be. “You too, Yoongi! Come on!”

I look at Yoongi, who shakes his head. “I hate dancing. Fuck off, Hobi.”

“Jin?”

“Eh—nah, I’m okay,” Jin says, looking startled by the invitation. “I’ll just—yeah, I’m gonna—”

Jin chases off after Namjoon, and Hoseok grabs my hand to drag me back to the floor of sin. I take Yoongi’s hand and pull him, too, while he whines and protests that he’s not interested at all. All of the energy and bustle of the party is rubbing off on me; I push Yoongi right up against Hoseok, sandwiching him between us so that we can dance with little room for his escape. Half-hearted dancing is better than no dancing, after all!

We’re joined by Jimin and Taehyung—who doesn’t look like Taehyung at all, with a long silver wig and reaper-like clothing, expert facepaint and bright yellow eyes—and then hell really breaks loose. The opportunity to dance with Yoongi must be a rare one, because people flock around him.

Yoongi is a pretty good dancer, actually. They all are. They must go to clubs or something on the weekends, or maybe being models and such wasn’t enough for them so they all decided to take classes on how to be sexy at all times.

Kidding. Mostly.

With everyone distracted, I decide fuck it, no one is going to notice me getting close to Yoongi. I back up into him as the music slows down, a deep sensual beat coaxing our movements into a languid grind. His hips are pushing into me, his hands on my thighs, and we both tip forward just a little. Hoseok has joined us, pressed right up against Yoongi. I can feel Yoongi’s deep breathing, hear it in my ear. I can feel his sweat, his hands wandering all over me, and if this isn’t a metaphor for sex I don’t know what is.

I turn in time to watch Hoseok whisper something in Yoongi’s ear, so close I can’t even make out his lips. I can feel Hoseok’s hands on Yoongi’s chest—because that’s where my back is currently resting—and I’m struck for a moment how good they look together. And how forward Hoseok is being, feeling Yoongi up and grinding on his ass while Yoongi is trapped between us. Is this really okay? Isn’t Yoongi uncomfortable?

But no. Yoongi leans back into Hoseok, head tucked under Hoseok’s chin and his lips parted as he breathes hard and lets the music move him.

Damn, they look hot. I twirl around so that I can face them, and then freeze because holy shit Hoseok just licked Yoongi’s ear and I basically hear a loud record scratch in my head. It’s clear that Yoongi does, too; he jumps away from Hoseok, mouth moving soundlessly, but Hoseok doesn’t seem to be all that concerned about it. He just follows Jimin deeper into the crowd of dancing people with Taehyung behind him, leaving Yoongi and I to stare at each other.

What just happened?

Chapter Text

I find myself outside the party, standing with Yoongi on a deck that faces a long stretch of yard and a garden with more big trees that sway in the light breeze. We’re both still breathing hard, having snuck away from the basement and slipped through the kitchen to get here. I can’t tell if Yoongi’s mad at Hoseok or just confused, and he isn’t saying anything.

I decide to break the silence.

“Is he normally like that when he’s drunk?”

“Not usually toward me,” Yoongi shrugs. He takes off his mask and puts it aside, and finally I can read his face. I don’t detect any anger there. “But sometimes.”

“So that’s why you didn’t kill him for grinding on me.”

“He’s harmless. I think it would be a dead giveaway if I murdered him for touching you, don’t you?”

Yes, probably. No need to make people suspicious of us. “I don’t think anyone would be surprised. You’re always so crotchety people would assume you finally snapped.”

We laugh quietly and relax leaning against the railing of the deck. I’ve spent the past week with Yoongi, but not in a way that doesn’t involve deadlines or schedules or some other such work thing. Yoongi is a fan of touch, and affectionate behind his office door, but it still feels like Tahoe was a faraway thing. No calls, no texts, nothing about hanging out after work. I guess it really was just sex.

I’m trying to be okay with that. I didn’t expect that I would just clamber into a kinky, friends with benefits situation, but here I am, hoping that Yoongi will say something about us.

He doesn’t. Instead, he points up at the sky, where the moon is a barely-there crescent hanging low in the sky. “Spooky.”

“Spookier than a full moon?”

“Definitely. If Hobi hadn’t put every light in the craft store on his house, it would be really dark.”

“So it has the potential to be spooky, but due to the circumstances, it’s not really spooky.”

“Are you arguing with me just to argue?” Yoongi cocks his head and gives me a piercing look, which he might think is going to make me stop being a brat. No dice.

“I’m making the case that you’re wrong,” I reply breezily.

“Tch.” Yoongi rolls his eyes, and I suddenly feel awkward.

“Sorry.”

“For what?”

“Being annoying.”

Yaaa, shut up. You’re not annoying—I just didn’t have a comeback,” Yoongi complains. He puts his arm around my waist and leans his head on my shoulder. “Don’t call me a jerk when I’m not being one.”

Aw, he’s pouting. I ruffle his hair. “I didn’t call you a jerk. You inferred that.”

“Woman!” Yoongi whines, and I’m so endeared by this little baby that I kiss the top of his head. “I’m too drunk to argue, be nice to me!”

“Never,” I practically coo at him, and it sounds so sappy and gross I blush. I don’t even have an excuse—I’m not drunk. I haven’t had a sip of anything but water.

“I’ll punish you,” Yoongi mumbles, no heat to it, barely even words. He’s slurring so much. Is he really that drunk?

“I don’t think you could if you tried right now.”

“Can too.”

“Prove it,” I demand. I take hold of Yoongi’s shoulders and dump him in a patio chair. With wide eyes and raised brows, he sits there and gazes at me. I climb in his lap.

“I…” The red of Yoongi’s cheeks grows even darker than his booze flush.

“Come on, punish me,” I insist, kind of enjoying the way Yoongi is just sitting there, letting me bully him. “You said you were going to.”

“Stop it,” Yoongi mutters. He won’t meet my eyes. “You’re not being fair.”

“No, I don’t want to,” I reply. I push his shoulders back against the chair, then lift his chin with my free hand, exactly the way he’d treat me if our roles were reversed. “Look at me.”

I can’t tell what Yoongi is thinking when he lifts his gaze to mine. He licks his lips, though, and doesn’t struggle. Oh, this feels weird. Yoongi is my boss, and definitely a dom, so what am I doing pretending like I can push him around?

And what is he doing, pretending he doesn’t mind it?

“What are you going to do?” Yoongi asks. 

Acting much bolder than I feel, I lean down and capture his lips with mine. His hands sneak onto my hips, but I grab them and push them onto the armrests, an implicit demand that he doesn’t move. I’m surprised that he doesn’t.

“What do you want me to do?”

“I dunno,” Yoongi breathes. We’re outside, and it’s cold, and I feel like we shouldn’t straight up bang on Hoseok’s deck, but fuck, I want him.

“When’s the last time you had your dick sucked?” I ask, feigning innocence. Yoongi groans.

“A week ago.”

I yank Yoongi’s shirt out of the waist of his jeans, immediately going for his fly, and he groans again, pushing his hips up into my hands. Hastily, like I’m running out of time, I unbutton and unzip his jeans so I can shove my hand in and grasp his cock, stroking him slowly. Torturously.

“You must have something saved up for me, then.”

“Are you kidding? You’re always—looking at me like you want me, touching me and shit. I haven’t been able to keep my hands off myself.”

“Tsk, tsk. What a naughty boy you are.”

Yoongi grows hard in my hand, and I'm again learning the shape of his length, the weight. I twist my wrist on the upstroke, because I think I remember reading that somewhere, and I'm still doing this pretty blind. One day of handjobs, mostly through clothes, didn't make me an expert. Unfortunately.

“Fuck,” Yoongi whispers, already breathing hard and bucking up into my hand. “Don’t tease me, come on.”

“Shh,” I whisper, giggling quietly, and kissing him again with much more intensity. I learned a lot in Tahoe—I nibble his lower lip, tugging it with my teeth. My tongue follows to soothe the sting away, a brief lick before our mouths are pressed together harder, our breaths panted. More bites, more teasing strokes of my tongue, and then Yoongi’s mouth falls open for me, a clear invitation.

I can’t believe he’s letting me do this. Our tongues meet and I lap at him tentatively at first, then rougher, more demanding. Like a battle, my pent-up frustrations with his silence on our relationship coming out in a full-scale attack. Yoongi is fucking himself into my fist, panting into my mouth, and I slide down to kneel on the deck at his feet, watching his face the whole time. Is this sexy? God, I hope so. Maybe I’m putting on a little bit, but when I look down at his dick, I lick my lips. Partially to wind him up, partially because I just actually, really want to do this? Wild.

It’s a lot scarier when I’m up close and not totally wrecked. Hard to be really confident when I’m screaming oh god what do I do in my head and all, but I figure it doesn’t have to be an amazing technique. Just having a mouth on his dick is probably enough for him. I test the waters with my tongue, first: licking up the underside, my senses overwhelmed by the heady scent of arousal, the slightly sweet, salty taste on my tongue. I didn’t know that dicks get wet before they cum until about a week ago, and I’m curious—licking a bead of precome away from the slit, laving my tongue there to gather it all. It clings to my tongue and drops on my lip, sliding down my chin; I huff a small, embarrassed laugh.

“Mm. Can you tell I’ve done this like, so many times?” I ask, stalling a little for time by resuming touching Yoongi with my hands. It’s a lot easier to jerk him off when he’s wet with spit and other things.

“What are you talking about?” Yoongi asks, and I’m pleased that he sounds even more breathless than before. “Do you have any idea how hot that was? Fuck.”

“Which bit?” I ask, though now I’m feeling less nervous about fucking it up; I can probably guess. I lean back down, not breaking eye contact, planting kisses down the side of his dick, mouthing little, suckling kisses on it, and god this is so weird but like? Also? Really hot.

“Were you put on this earth to torment me?” Yoongi breathes. I’m a little busy, here; I hope he won’t begrudge me closing my lips over him and just going for it—sucking gently, licking curiously.

It seems Yoongi doesn't mind. He hisses, pushing up into my mouth like he can’t help himself.

“Fuck, your mouth feels good—come on, more—” Yoongi pants above me. I moan quietly, feeling a flood of heat from my face down to my toes. God, he’s so hot letting me take the lead like this, like he knows I need it.

And I do. I need to find my own rhythm so that we can move on from this hesitant, not-all-there relationship we’re forming. I need to know how he likes to be fucked. I’m sure I’m not the best he’s ever had, but as I grow bolder—taking more of him into my mouth, sloppily sucking away spit and precome, which is so embarrassingly noisy—I fantasize about getting there. I fantasize about making him come apart with just my mouth, bringing him to the same point of madness that he brought me, and seeing him tip over the edge into blissful oblivion like it’s all he can do to give me exactly what I want.

How strange to think of him this way, a complete 180 to the fantasies I held in Tahoe where I was in his place.

“Ah, fuck, I'm close—”

Already? Damn. Forget being nervous about this, I'm apparently a pro. Seventeen, professional dick sucker.

I hum to urge him along, and it doesn’t take much to get him there. My mouth is as full as I can take, my tongue growing weary with the effort of caressing him, twirling it over his slit, pressing it flat to circle the underside. Cum shoots into the back of my throat at the same time Yoongi lets out a loud groan, and I swallow it down feeling…powerful? In control? So weird. I’ve never felt like this before.

“Fuck. That’s exactly what I needed,” Yoongi mumbles, limp in the chair and breathing hard with pretty pink cheeks. “Give me a minute and I’ll return th—”

“What the fuck.”

Both of us whip around at the sound of the voice. Hoseok is standing on the deck, staring at us in complete shock. Two bottles of cider are in his hands, and in my blind panic, I wonder how in the hell either of us thought that we wouldn’t be found.

Shit! Shit!!!

“Hobi,” Yoongi starts. He’s fumbling with the zipper of his jeans, still hard but pushing himself back into his boxers in pure mortification. “Hobi, wait.”

“What the fuck,” Hoseok repeats, and I’m surprised that he’s staring at me. “Really? Really? This guy treats you like crap and you sneak off to suck his dick?”

“Hobi…” I start, unsure of what to say. I’m going to cry. 

“This is just perfect. Fuck it, happy Halloween.”

Hoseok slams the cider down on the patio table and stalks into the house without a backward glance. Without thinking, I jump up and tear after him.

The hall is dark, but I’m determined; Hoseok can’t have gone too far. I call out for him softly. I have no idea what’s wrong, unless he’s just super pissed that I blew his best friend on the back deck. That's probably enough of a reason to be pissed! But my mind is working; he's upset with me specifically. He made that clear.

“What do you want?” Hoseok asks, cold as ice. Shit. I’ve never heard him sound like this.

“I’m sorry,” I say, desperately. “That was totally inappropriate, I’m sorry.”

“Yeah? You’re sorry?” Hoseok spits back, and I can feel him approach me. He grabs ahold of the first thing he reaches—my arm—and I wince. “What the fuck? Why him?”

“It just happened,” I mutter lamely. Why him? I don’t get it. “While we were in Tahoe.”

“So you’re dating? Have you considered what will happen if Namjoon finds out?”

“Please don’t tell him!”

“Forget it,” Hoseok says, still cold enough to make me shiver. “You two can do what you want.”

“Hobi—”

“Just get out of here. I don’t want to see you right now.”

Hobi, please! I haven’t done anything wrong, what’s your problem?!”

“What do you care?! I’ve only been waiting a decade for that stupid ass to notice me, and then you came along. He won’t look at anything else! And on top of it, you won’t either! What did he even do to deserve you, huh? Nothing!”

What the fuck? I try to jerk away, but Hoseok is holding on tight. He yanks me to him, and I know more or less what’s coming before it happens; Hoseok kisses me, hard, and I go limp. What the fuck! I don’t know what to do! Where is this coming from?! Hoseok has never acted like he’s even interested! How am I supposed to know how he feels?!

But there were hints. Looking back, hindsight really is 20/20. I just wasn't paying attention, so focused on Yoongi that it was all too easy to tell myself that the signs weren't signs at all.

In my confusion—and I’ll admit it, anger—I snarl and bite Hoseok’s lip, vaguely aware that Yoongi’s cum was just in my mouth and Hoseok tastes sweet and I am in some major fucking trouble. The bite doesn’t do anything to deter him. On the contrary, he seems to take it as a challenge, and I gasp into his mouth when he returns it, backing me into a wall and kissing me so hard I feel my body heat up. What the fuck, no! Come on, body, don't betray me like this!

“Excuse me,” Yoongi’s voice sounds in the darkness. Fuck. Fuck me, fuck me so bad. “I believe you’re kissing something that belongs to me, Hoseok.”

Wh—

What the fuck? Something? That belongs—?!

“You better watch it, Yoongi,” Hoseok sneers, voice deadly soft. “When you fuck it up—and you will—I’ll be waiting.”

My temper is rising. I didn’t ask for this! I don’t want this! Why does everyone have to be weird about Yoongi all the time?

“Taking my sloppy seconds?” Yoongi snarls, and I put myself between them before it can get ugly. “That’s so—”

“Shut up! Shut up, shut up, both of you just shut up!” I snap, one hand on Yoongi’s chest, the other on Hoseok’s. “For fuck’s sake, are either of you going to ask what I want? Huh?! You’re both really shitty at caring about me if this is how you’re going to act!” I push Yoongi’s chest, feeling practically incandescent with rage. “And I’m nobody’s sloppy seconds, asshole! Fuck you!”

“Wait—”

“I’m out of here. Both of you just go do whatever the fuck you want. I’ll see you Monday.”

Wondering what the hell just happened, I tear off down the hall, following the green arrows toward the front door to just get the hell out. I am not doing this love triangle bullshit. Fuck that. If they want to have a pissing contest over who gets to ~have~ me, I’m not going to stick around and listen to it. I’m not an object to be had.

I’m so lost in thought that I wind up running straight into someone, again. I mutter an apology and try to sneak by, but I just run into another body and sigh. God, I want out of here.

“Noona?” Jungkook’s voice asks.

Really? Again? Ha, what are the chances?

“Hi, Jungkook. And Jimin, I take it?”

“Yeah,” Jimin’s voice is soft and timid. Huh. That’s weird. “Are—are you okay?”

“What?”

“Sorry, noona. We heard everything.”

Great.

“Yes, I’m fine,” I reply, trying so hard not to sound angry at them, and mostly succeeding. “I’m just gonna get out of here, okay?”

“Do you want to come over?” Jungkook asks. “We can watch a movie. I’m not really…I don’t like parties, much.”

“We were just heading out ourselves. It’s too loud down there,” Jimin adds.

Wow, are these two angels? I sigh again, relieved this time.

“Yeah, let’s go watch movies. I’m not feeling it anymore, either.”

I feel a big hand enclose mine, and then a much smaller one take my other. They walk me out into the front yard, and Jungkook unlocks a big, black SUV so we can all climb in. Jimin opens the door and gestures me into the passenger seat. “It has seat warmers,” he informs me with a cute little smile. I get in gratefully while Jimin gets in the back.

“Guys!” Taehyung’s voice rings across the front yard. “Wait for me!”

Taehyung runs down the path and jumps in on Jimin’s side, climbing over him instead of going in his own door while Jungkook and Jimin laugh. Jimin also grunts a few times, and when I look in the back seat, he’s helping Taehyung into his seatbelt. Jungkook doesn’t move the car until everyone is buckled in, saying apologetically, “She’ll yell at us if we don’t wear our seatbelts.”

Aw. His car is a she? That’s really cute, actually. I already feel better away from the drama, especially with how soft and sweet all of these kids are. My phone is vibrating like crazy against my leg, and I belatedly remember I left my bag and my jacket in Hoseok’s basement.

Oh well. I’ll survive without them until Monday.

“Scary movie time! Scary movie time!” Taehyung is singing under his breath in the back, and I note that he really does have a nice singing voice; a smooth baritone that fills the car and brings a real smile to my face.

“Not too scary,” Jungkook says, glancing at them in the rearview mirror. “Jimin hyung will get too scared.”

“I will not,” Jimin retorts. Jungkook laughs.

The drive to Jungkook’s place in Emeryville is pretty short; maybe ten minutes. Whoever was texting or calling me has given up by this point, and I’ve cooled off a little, so I check my phone when we make it off the freeway.

I have two missed calls from Yoongi, and a series of texts.

 

Yoongi 🔥

I’m sorry.

Hey, come on. Don’t ignore me, please.

Where are you? You left your stuff.

Are you okay?

If you see these tonight, please just let me know you’re okay. We can talk later.

I’m really worried.

 

To Yoongi 🔥

im alright

can you bring my stuff on monday?

 

Yoongi 🔥

I’ll take it to your apartment. Is Emilia home?

 

To Yoongi 🔥

probably not

 

Yoongi 🔥

Are you going to be okay without your cards?

 

To Yoongi 🔥

yup

 

Yoongi 🔥

I shouldn’t have said that. I was trying to lash out at Hobi, and I hit you instead. There’s no excuse.

I don’t think of you that way at all, okay? I’m just a drunk asshole.

 

To Yoongi 🔥

okay

 

Yoongi 🔥

Ha, I guess I deserve this.

 

To Yoongi 🔥

i dont belong to you

im a person not an object

do you get that

 

Yoongi 🔥

Of course I do.

No, not of course. I didn’t act like I understand that. I’m sorry.

 

To Yoongi 🔥

im still mad at you

but thank you for apologizing

 

Yoongi 🔥

It’s the least I can do. Where are you?

 

To Yoongi 🔥

im with the children

 

Yoongi 🔥

So that’s where they got off to.

Hoseok and I are talking, by the way.

 

To Yoongi 🔥

how is he

 

Yoongi 🔥

He’s mad, and apparently very hurt.

 

To Yoongi 🔥

i had no idea ://////

 

Yoongi 🔥

Me either.

I’ll update you.

 

I climb out of the car, confused. We’re outside an auto shop? There’s a big sign advertising emissions testing that’s peeling and faded from the sun. Jimin takes me hand and leads me to a door in the side of the building I didn’t see, partially hidden by ivy. Up a set of stairs we all go, and Jungkook lets us into his apartment after a few seconds of fumbling with his keys.

It’s a big, open space with concrete floors, exposed brick, and pipes running across the ceiling. 3 Point must be paying him good money that he can afford this kind of industrial space—there’s a view of the ocean out a set of huge bay windows with a reading nook, and Jungkook doesn’t have a TV so much as a giant movie screen in front of some plush couches.

“Who wants food?” Jimin asks. He runs into the living area and dives onto a couch, Taehyung following him. Within a second, they’re fighting over blankets and wrestling around.

“Me! I want food! Me, me, me!” Taehyung says, which gives Jimin the opportunity to pin him.

“Me, too,” comes Jungkook.

We settle on ordering Indian, then pile on the couches to start the movie marathon. I can’t help but notice how close these three seem: piled under the same blanket and leaning all over each other, Taehyung warning Jimin about the scariest parts of the movie we’re watching—The Conjuring—and covering his eyes. Aw, baby. Is he really that spooked by scary movies?

Food comes halfway through the movie, filling the apartment with the smell of curry and rice. Jimin and Taehyung both feed Jungkook bits of their meals, and damn, the boy can eat a lot. I watch the movie, and them, feeling warm and glad that I bumped into them.

“Noona, do you want to sleep here? I’ll drive you in the morning,” Jungkook says at the end of the movie. Taehyung and Jimin are already asleep, bellies full and looking so content I smile.

“If you don’t mind, sure. Can I use your shower?”

“Yeah, but don’t use Jimin hyung’s stuff. He’ll get really mad,” Jungkook says, his nose scrunching. Like a baby bunny’s.

“Oh, does Jimin live here too?”

Jungkook flushes and shakes his head, avoiding my eyes.

Oh.

Oh.

It seems I’m not the only one with secrets at 3 Point.

“Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone. Okay?”

“Thanks, noona. Um, you can sleep in my room, if you don’t mind. I’ll sleep here.”

“Are you sure? I don’t want to take your bed.”

“I’m sure. Come on, let me show you my room.”

I follow Jungkook to his room, where he brings me a fresh towel before taking his sweater off. I don’t mean to look when his tshirt rises with his sweater, but he’s right in front of where I’m sitting on his bed, and my eyes widen at the scars under his chest. Deep, pink ones that wrap around his sides.

Are those…?

Jungkook yanks his shirt down in a panic, flushed even darker and pleading with his eyes. So that’s why he won’t do photoshoots shirtless. I smile, gently.

“It’s okay, Jungkook. My best friend is trans. I’m definitely not judging you.”

“Oh,” Jungkook breathes, then smiles weakly. “I. Um. Not a lot of people know. So please, don’t tell anyone, okay? They know—” Jungkook gestures at the door. “And Yoongi hyung.”

“I won’t,” I nod seriously. “I promise.”

“You really don’t mind?”

“Aw honey,” I say, getting up to give him a hug. “Of course I don’t mind. You’re lovely exactly how you are.”

“Thanks, noona.” Jungkook gives me a little squeeze, then steps away to go back to the living area, looking much the same day as I first met him: like a scared little baby bunny. “Well…they’re waiting for me…”

And then he’s gone. I lay down, tired beyond belief, but there’s still one thing I need to handle. I send a text to Yoongi, expecting he won’t answer until morning.

 

To Yoongi 🔥

can i come over tomorrow

 

Yoongi 🔥

Yes.

 

To Yoongi 🔥

early

like 8 or 9

 

Yoongi 🔥

Yes, of course. Are you alright?

 

To Yoongi 🔥

yeah

i think so

i dont know

im so tired

 

Yoongi 🔥

Then sleep, baby girl.

 

To Yoongi 🔥

i dont know if i can

not that kind of tired

i think im gonna cry

 

Yoongi 🔥

Do you want me to call?

 

To Yoongi 🔥

no

sfory

sotuy

irensdkdk

 

Yoongi 🔥

Are you sure? I don’t like the idea of you crying by yourself in a strange place.

 

To Yoongi 🔥

its your fault

youre so mean sometimes

 

Yoongi 🔥

If it’s my fault, then I should make up for it.

 

To Yoongi 🔥

yeah

you better

you better really make up for it tomorrow

youre not the only one thats scary when youre mad

fuck it

come pick me up

now

 

Yoongi 🔥

Are you at Jungkook’s?

 

To Yoongi 🔥

yeah

 

Yoongi 🔥

On my way.

Chapter Text

I escape out of Jungkook’s apartment without waking anyone, even after stumbling around to write a note and struggling to lock the door in the dark. I feel bad just leaving after they were so nice to me, but I feel terrible, and I don’t want to wake up feeling terrible after Jungkook just took me in like that. He did so much. Brooding all morning wouldn’t be a great way to repay him.

Still, I feel like I’m sneaking around when I get in Yoongi’s car, and not in the fun, rebellious teen sort of way. In the guilty, ashamed adult that should have it more together way.

I’m still dressed in my stupid costume dress. I left my wings and stuff up in Jungkook’s apartment, and I hope he won’t be annoyed at me. I hope Yoongi isn’t mad at me—I glance at him out of the corner of my eye, but he’s staring ahead and looking more or less the same as always. Bored, aloof.

Considering the bomb that just dropped, I’m a little envious of his ability to look like he’s not bothered at all. Poor Hoseok...I had no idea about any of it, though I definitely know I should have known. The hearts. The hug I gave him when I got back. The call the morning of my flight to Tahoe.

“Hey,” Yoongi murmurs. I have no idea why, but that makes my lip tremble, and then I’m crying and slumped over on Yoongi’s lap sobbing like a child. What are we? What are Hoseok and I? Shouldn’t I be considering that more than I should be running headfirst into this BDSM relationship with no basis in feelings?

God, it’s a mess. Never in a hundred years would I have expected I’d have two guys interested in me at the same time, and I am totally unequipped to handle it.

On one hand, I have Yoongi. Cold at times, emotionally closed off. Unexpectedly considerate, kind behind closed doors. Trying.

On the other, I have Hoseok. Kind and funny all the time, sweet, caring. Radiates sunshine and love.

Why does it feel like the biggest cosmic joke that I went for Yoongi?

I don’t know how long I lie on the front seat with Yoongi petting my hair and murmuring quietly, just like I had done for him in Tahoe. He’s not a bad guy, damn it! He can be sweet, too. He makes me laugh, and he takes care of me, and he treats me with the utmost respect when we’re tangled up together in the sheets.

Anger creeps up. Anger at Hoseok, who decided he just gets to kiss me and mess me up like this, like it doesn’t matter how I feel about all this. I guess he can be a jerk, too.

Yoongi doesn’t rush me. I appreciate that; he’s the kind of guy I would have expected to complain that he doesn’t want to sit in a parking lot all night while I cry, but he’s definitely not that kind of guy at all. Why am I even comparing the two of them in my head? I’m already with Yoongi, and I never had any intentions of pursuing anyone else. Crying about it is stupid.

A few hiccups later, I finally fall quiet. I’m really comfy, actually—Yoongi’s car is big and plush on the inside, and his lap is warm. His fingers are in my hair, stroking, and it feels really good. Soothing.

“Would you like to talk about it?” Yoongi asks. It feels like there’s a hundred years of crying between when he greeted me and now.

“I’m hungry,” I reply. I picked at my Indian, but I did eat enough to last me until breakfast, probably.

To hell with it. I want a burger.

“It’s late. Are you okay with a shitty diner?” Yoongi asks. He’s still petting me, and I appreciate it more than I know how to say.

“I want In n Out.”

“Then we’ll get In n Out.”

I just cling tighter to Yoongi’s lap. I don’t want to let go. I don’t want him to stop soothing me. I feel so shitty about everything, even things that aren’t my fault at all, and I hate it. I hate that I feel so bad for Hoseok, who put all his problems on me in a drunken emotional fit. It’s not my fault that he never told Yoongi how he feels! And it’s not my fault he never told me!

“Animal style fries,” I say, muffled against Yoongi’s thigh. “And a double-double. And a milkshake.”

“You can order as much as you want.”

“Ten of everything, then.”

Yoongi laughs—it shakes us both a little, and I smile. “If you want, baby girl.”

I lift my head to look up at Yoongi, who just looks back at me steadily. “What if I get fat?”

“Then I’ll rest my head on your stomach when I’m tired.”

“I like you,” I say quietly. Yoongi watches me, but says nothing. “I take back all the mean things I said back then. I didn’t know yet.”

A shadow crosses over Yoongi’s face, but he doesn’t look away. “I make it hard to know.”

“Yeah.”

“I wish I didn’t.”

“Then stop.”

Silence. I get up on my knees so I can kiss him, accidentally tumbling a little into the steering wheel. The horn blares.

It seems to have been the distraction we needed. Yoongi starts laughing under his breath, then I join in, then everything seems really funny and neither of us can stop for a while. It seems like forever, but it’s probably only a minute or two. It really helps, though; I get in my seat and buckle in, rubbing my eyes to get the achy feeling out of them. Food sounds good, especially the kind of food that’s bound to make my blood pressure rise.

Even at 12:30 AM, In n Out is pretty busy. The dining room is packed when we walk in and I don’t really feel like dealing with it. I wonder if Yoongi will let me eat in his car.

You know what? I’m not even going to ask. I looked that car up. It would take me four years of not spending any money to be able to afford it on my salary.

I glance down at our hands while he orders. He just, took mine. Took it when we got out of the car, and held it, and he’s still holding it. Way to confuse me, Yoongi.

I do not, in fact, get ten of everything. I do get two orders of fries and a burger, though, with a neopolitan shake to go with my giant Ph.D. Pepper. “Can we sit outside?” I ask Yoongi, who nods, looking relieved.

It’s chilly outside, but it’s not loud, and that’s the more important thing after the night we’ve both had. Quiet is good.

“So...how’s Hobi?” I ask after a long silence in which we both eat our burgers. I have a 3x3, but Yoongi only has a double-double. Coward.

“Upset,” Yoongi answers. He licks his fingers free of grease and grabs his drink for a long sip. “Apologetic. Embarrassed. All of the good stuff.”

“Did you really have no idea?”

“That he’s been in love with me forever? No, I had no idea.”

“Mm. And where exactly do I fit into this?”

“I guess he likes you, too. He figured he would never get a chance with me, so he’s trying to move on.”

“Ouch,” I sigh, but I’m determined not to get all upset about it again. Instead, I stab a few fries with my fork and eat them. “What bad luck.”

“I don’t know what he thought would happen when he pulled that little stunt. Idiot,” Yoongi mutters, but he sounds sad. I can tell just by looking that he’s worried, and that he feels awful about it.

“I don’t think he was thinking, Yoongi,” I remind him. Emotions were high. It was tense. “I mean, how much would you be thinking if you’d walked in on me blowing someone in Tahoe?”

“I would have gone feral.”

“Right? So don’t be so hard on him.”

“I’m not. Trust me,” Yoongi rubs his face with the back of his hand, staring down at his burger like it holds the answers to this problem. “How do you feel about him?”

I’m not sure how to answer that, at first. I think about it, and it stirs some weird emotions in me. Not love or lust or anything like that, just discomfort that makes me feel even more awful. I kind of already figured it out earlier.

“Do you really want me to answer that?”

“Yes.”

“Then don’t get mad.”

“Ominous, but okay.”

“I feel like he’s the more logical choice,” I say, looking at Yoongi with a bit of apology. “If you’re looking at it from an outside perspective. He’s nice, and he’s funny, and he’s a sweetheart. If Tahoe hadn’t happened, I would have gone for it.”

“Then, from an inside perspective.”

“None of that matters, because I want you. The thing a lot of people forget is that feelings aren’t logical, and I think there’s a chance Hobi forgot that, too. He’s already basically said he’ll treat me better.”

“Yeah, I got that,” Yoongi says darkly. It looks like it really pains him. “He probably would.”

“You act like you’re a horrible person. You know you’re not, right?”

“But I’m an asshole.”

“I’m not going to argue that. You really can be.” Yoongi looks away. “Why?”

“I don’t know, that’s just how I am!” Yoongi says, and I can tell we’re getting into some uncomfortable territory for him. “Do you want a sob story about me or something?”

“No, I just to know what’s going through your head in the moment.”

Yoongi takes a bite of his burger, and I wait. I don’t expect that he has some kind of tragic backstory, but there has to be something.

“Usually I’m just—stressed. Overwhelmed. Like the morning you brought me breakfast, I—” Yoongi sighs. It looks like it’s really hard for him to admit it. I get up and sit on Yoongi’s bench, sitting close, and lean my head on his shoulder. “I hadn’t done anything to deserve it, and here you come to my office with food and I just...got scared.”

“Scared of what?”

“How I felt. How I’d been feeling. What it could mean, what your intentions might be, how it might change things, how you might do it again. I thought about every possible avenue and tried to push you away, because it would be better that way.”

I don’t know about that, but I understand where he’s coming from. “I wouldn’t have thought you have anxiety back then, but yeah. Yeah, that makes sense.”

“It just comes out. I’m safer.”

“If you already know why you do it, then why don’t you work on it?”

“Because I’m safer.”

I want so badly to know what makes him think that’s the case, and what he thinks will happen to him if he lets someone in. But the conversation is delicate, and I want to let it stay organic—if I try too much to guide him, he might run away. Metaphorically. Waiting for him to continue is hard, and after a while I think he won’t say anything else. I just eat, sipping my drink, struggling to drink up my milkshake.

“In the moment, I’m not thinking that I need to be mean so people stay away from me. It’s a habit. I grew up poor as fuck, but my parents killed themselves saving and penny-pinching to send me to a private high school. You know what it’s like being the one poor kid in a sea of rich assholes?”

Well, yes. I went to Sbanford, and I work for a bunch of rich people. I don’t mention it, though, I just let him talk.

“I didn’t have a choice but to be an asshole. You think I’m bad now, you should have seen me when I was still in school. I got my ass kicked all the time, until I learned how to fight back. No one fucked with me after that.”

“Where was Hobi?”

“Hobi was stuck at Crenshaw,” Yoongi shrugs. “We grew up in Hyde Park. Poor as shit and violence everywhere. Couldn’t walk to school without seeing a fleet of cruisers.” I nod, trying to imagine it.

Yeesh. So Yoongi and Hoseok both had a rough childhood. I can’t imagine Yoongi being so tough as nails—prickly, rude, mean even, yes. But getting into fights?

Suppose we all do what we have to, but it makes my heart ache a little bit. At least he has parents that love him so much. I smile at that—thinking of a little Yoongi going to this prestigious school because they wanted him to have a better life.

“I hope your parents are enjoying their retirement.”

“Mm. They enjoyed it, yeah. I bought them a little cottage by the beach. They were really happy there.”

“Oh...oh no, Yoongi. I’m so sorry.”

“It’s okay. They lived long enough to see me make it. That’s good enough for me.”

We eat in silence, the kind typical for confessions like the ones Yoongi has made. Not awkward, but it’s hard to say something after such a revelation. There’s so much about him that I don’t know—so many emotions and experiences that I’m totally unable to relate to. As soon as my burger is finished I wrap my arm around Yoongi’s waist to cuddle closer. He said it’s fine, but is it really? It doesn’t seem like he’s totally moved on from his life before he “made it.” Somewhere in there, there’s still a scared little boy that uses coldness as a weapon against pain whether it will really come or not.

“Thank you,” I say as I finish off my fries. I ate entirely too much food, and I feel bloated. Bleh. “I hope telling me wasn’t too much.”

“It wasn’t.”

I pick up my shake to finish it off, humming thoughtfully. He says that, but...when is the last time he opened up to someone? 

“I’ll drive you home.”

Has Yoongi hit his limit on the emotional thing? He gathers up our wrappers and takes the tray to the garbage; we walk to his car, where he turns on the heat, silent.

“If it’s okay,” I start, hesitant. “Can I stay with you tonight?”

“...Yeah. I’d like that.”

Success, at least for now. I still don’t have an answer to my questions about what our time together means, but it can wait. A lot of emotional stuff already happened tonight, I reason. I feel a flicker of pride that Yoongi was even willing to talk about it, with me, of all people. It’s not like I rank very high on the list; I’m just his assistant, who he has sex with sometimes.

At the penthouse, I half expect to be shuffled off to a guest room and ignored for the night. Color me surprised when Yoongi leads me by the hand to his room, and offers me some clothes to sleep in—which I decline. It’ll be warm under the blanket, especially if we lie close together, so I just strip down to my panties and crawl into bed with him. In the morning, maybe, we can resume our talk about Hoseok, and I’ll be brave enough to ask what we’re doing, where we’re going, or even what I mean to him.

“Do you have to work tomorrow?” I ask. It doesn’t seem like Yoongi ever really takes a day off; he’s usually at work long after I leave the office, as I tend to take care of Holly in his place.

“Yeah, a bit. I’ll take you home though.”

Yeah, okay. An acceptable offering.

Yoongi is lying with his back to me. He looks so pale in the moonlight, his hair silvery and his bare back like ivory. Tentatively, I scoot closer to him, then cuddle right up against his back and drape my arm over him. If he won’t look at me, I’ll take Big Spoon Duty tonight.

Unless Yoongi pushes me away. That’s a real possibility.

But he doesn’t. His hand finds mine. Our fingers interlace, and damn, my eyes water a little. Yoongi has no obligation to let me storm in and offer all these things he never asked for, but he doesn’t complain one bit.

“Do you miss home?” His voice is quiet, contemplative. With our conversation earlier, I’m not taken aback, but I definitely didn’t expect to do anything but sleep.

“Sometimes,” I admit, though I'm not super keen to explore that train of thought.

“What if I just ran away? Off to some rural town in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but the clothes on my back?”

“What if you did? What would you be hoping to find?”

“Quiet. The city is so loud.”

I’m not sure where he’s going with this, but I don’t mind chasing hypotheticals. “Would you be lonely?”

“I’m always lonely.”

“Then I’ll go with you. You don’t have to be alone, Yoongi.”

“I don’t know how else to be.”

“You can learn. Just take it one day at a time.”

“Tch. You’re so sure of yourself.”

“I’m sure of you. Haven’t you already done amazing things?”

Yoongi says nothing. I nuzzle into the back of his neck, yawning, letting his scent wrap me up in comfort. When did I become so fond of how he smells? Of how warm he is, and of how we fit together? Our legs tangle together, warmth all around us. I can sense that he isn’t finished talking, and give him time to organize his thoughts, kissing along his shoulder and squeezing his hand.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Yoongi asks.

“Kiss you? Mhm. I’m positive.”

“You know what I mean. You admitted it, I’m an asshole.”

“Yeah,” I agree. “But not all the time. And I know you don’t mean it.”

“You’re so stubborn.”

“Yeah, I know.” Yoongi is, too. Headstrong like me, with a temper to match. We clash, we bicker, but it feels like it’s happening less and less. “You’re worth it, though.”

Too much? Maybe. But if he won’t fill his own head with kindness, I’m happy to take up that job.

Yoongi mutters under his breath, and I giggle. I don’t expect him to have an answer to that, but I hope he internalizes it, even just a little bit. He deserves that much, at least.

“What are you going to do? When you see him Monday.”

“Mm...be honest. That’s the least I can give him,” I say, slowly. Not a fun conversation, but I can’t give him what he wants.

You could, a voice says in the back of my head. He’s the logical option. You know he is.

Oh, shut up, brain. No one invited you to this party. I have to at least see this through with Yoongi. For better or worse, come hell or high water, and all that stuff. If I wind up heartbroken and tossed aside, I’ll try not to regret it. 

Yoongi seems to be thinking it over, too. He rolls onto his back to look at me. “You can back out now. You can be with him. You’d be happy.”

“Maybe,” I say, unsure if he’s right, and afraid he might be too close to the truth. “Is that what you want?”

“No. I’m selfish. I want to keep you for myself, my best friend be damned.”

“I guess I’m selfish, too.”

There’s nothing left to say on the matter. I let Yoongi kiss me, draw me down, close, and let our mouths moving together silence my thoughts. I’ve been looking at him too long, felt too much, to just change course. I can’t just abandon him, knowing he wants me around, even if it’s just for some way to relive his loneliness, his tension.

I’m unsurprised when Yoongi’s hand slips into my panties, his other moving to my chest. Unsurprised, too, when he rolls me over and works me to release, breathing my name in my ear while I stroke and caress him, too, to the edge and tip him over. It feels natural. Like hovering close to some kind of completion, even if we fall just slightly short. I want to stay like this forever, exploring each other, kissing like our sanity depends on touch.

I don’t want to be friends. After this, how could it ever be enough?

Chapter Text

I chickened out.

Yoongi and I didn’t talk anymore on the subject, or any other subject I wanted to bring up. I just couldn’t do it. Instead I spent the weekend lazing around in bed, watching Netflix to try to take my mind off of things.

It worked, mostly. I’m still dreading going to work, though.

When I go into the office Monday morning, Hoseok is looking at his computer screen and doesn’t acknowledge me at all. I can’t tell if it’s because he’s still mad, or if he’s hurt, or something else. I walk over to his desk and lean against it, waiting for him to look up from what he’s doing. He might be mad, but he doesn’t get to just shut me out. We work together. At work, at least, he has to be professional.

I realize when Hoseok does look up, he didn’t ignore me because he’s angry—his eyes are anxious, and his mouth in such a severe frown I sigh.

“Oh, Hobi,” I make my voice as gentle as I can. “Come on.”

I reach for his hand. He takes it, looking confused, but walks along behind me to an empty conference room so that we can talk. After what Yoongi told me, I’m not especially excited to have this conversation—I don’t want to hurt anyone, least of all Hoseok—but if he’s too scared to talk to me, then I’ll have to make the conversation happen.

How do I even start, though? Once the door is closed, I look at Hoseok, and he makes a pretty sad sight. I can’t stand it! He’s always so happy, so animated. I grab him in a hug and squeeze.

“You gotta stop looking at me like that, Hobi,” I mumble into his shoulder. “Or I’m gonna cry.”

“Sorry, friend. I had a long weekend,” Hoseok says quietly. He hugs me, his arms loose around my shoulders. “I’m really sorry about what happened.”

“I dunno, I’d be pissed too if I walked in on people—well, you know. In my house,” I shrug, not excusing him, but he has every right to be mad. About that, not the rest of it. “Can we talk about it?”

“Yeah.”

I take a deep breath. God, help me. Never let Yoongi hear what I’m about to say.

“You’re right. He hadn’t done much to deserve me,” I start, busying myself with sitting up on the conference room table so that I can sort-of distract myself from that bit of truth. “He was an ass. I know what it looks like, that I’m passing you over for an asshole because girls just want bad guys, but that’s not it, really. It just happened. If Tahoe had been next week instead of last, things would have gone a lot differently.”

“You’re making it sound like you’re only with him because he asked first.”

“That’s kind of it, yeah. Don’t get me wrong, I like him. You can’t judge me for liking him—you know exactly how I feel,” I say evenly. It was Hoseok that said it, after all. It’s Hoseok that has been waiting an eternity for things to just magically happen. “I like you too, Hobi. I like you a lot, you’re my best friend here. I don’t know if that means I can like you more than that, but. Yeah.”

“That doesn’t make it any easier,” Hoseok sighs, and he looks so tired. “I don’t have any right to expect anything from either of you, and I’m definitely not a homewrecker, so don’t think that about me, okay? I know my place.”

“Homewrecker?” I turn the word over in my head. It’s just sex. That thought is a little too strong right now; it feels weird and awful. “Aha, no, it’s nothing like that.”

“What do you mean?”

“We’re just—you know. Hooking up.”

That seems to stir something in Hoseok. His brows narrow over his eyes, and I see a little bit of that coldness coming out that I saw at the party. “That’s it? You’re turning me down to be someone’s fuck buddy?”

“Well—”

“Don’t you deserve a little better than that?”

I flinch. I know he’s right, but it’s not that black and white.

“I—” I don’t know what to say. I look down, surprised by how awful his words make me feel. Yoongi and I still haven’t talked things out, and I have no idea what he thinks of anything beyond having his dick sucked. I wish he would bring it up.

No, I’ll have to bring this up. No one here wants to talk about anything, like we couldn’t solve a whole host of problems if people would just open up to each other.

Children, the lot of them.

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said anything.”

Belatedly, I realize there are tears on my cheeks. Uuuughhh. It’s not like I’m in love with Yoongi or anything, but shit, yeah, I like him! A lot! And I don’t want to just be some fuck buddy!

“No, it’s just. I don’t know what we are. It happened so fast, and we. If it’s just physical, then…”

Then, it probably won’t work out. I know that, and I know Hoseok hears what I’m trying to say. Being the sex toy that gets attached would just be stupid. I need to bring it up before I get in too deep, but.

But if I do, then it might be over.

And if it’s over, I don’t have a job. There’s no way I can work under Yoongi, having been that close, and then pushed straight away again. There’s no way I could stand that.

“You’re really going through it, huh?” Hoseok asks. He’s in front of me, and wipes my tears, and shit, he’s so gentle, and I know that he’ll treat me right, that I’d be happy with him, could probably fall in love with him so easily, but.

That’s not what I want? I think?

“Aren’t we both?” I ask—laughing, tired. He looks at me. His eyes are dark, like Yoongi’s. So dark they draw me in. I swallow.

“So much for not interfering,” Hoseok says before he kisses me, again, and now I’m ready for it.

And now I’m kissing back.

We can’t—I know we can’t. We both care about Yoongi, and we would never want to hurt him. But this is some fucking forbidden fruit, right here. We kiss like we’ll never have another chance, and we won’t, and I squirm on the table with how it makes my stomach clench. Hoseok is pressed up against me, breathing hard through his nose, his hands tangled in my hair—I whimper. My body is definitely giving me the green light. So much so that I wrap my arms around his shoulders to pull him in, definitely making a quiet noise that sounds like a moan.

Hoseok is a good kisser; different from Yoongi, less raw, less demanding. I like this version, too, where I feel like I'm being pulled in. Like I want to chase.

His tongue traces my bottom lip. My mouth falls open for him. He tastes so sweet, and I want more.

Wanting more is what makes me jolt away, hit with the weight of reality.

“I-I’m sorry,” I say, breathless. “I’m sorry! I won’t do it again.”

“Me either,” Hoseok agrees, wide-eyed. He backs up toward the door, fumbling with the handle.

“Wait. Just, can we get dinner? Can we talk about this?”

For a minute, I worry Hoseok will say no. That he’ll just leave, and I’ll lose my friend. My first friend at the company.

“Yeah, we need to talk about it. We need…” Hoseok trails off, like he’s not sure what we need at all.

“I’ll swing by your desk on my way out. Just don’t run away on me. Don’t ditch me, please.”

“Hah,” Hoseok shakes his head, looking pained. “I would never. Not ever.”

I watch him go, anxious. I just kissed him, and it’s bad. Not because Yoongi has told me that we’re exclusive or anything, but because from one kiss I’m all mixed up and feeling awful for not controlling myself.

I’m going to talk to Yoongi. I’m going to find out what exactly is going on between us.

With that thought, I head back to his office on wobbly legs. Surprisingly, he’s not working—he’s throwing wadded up paper into his trash can, and he looks around when I come in.

“Hey,” he says, sitting up in his seat for all the world like I didn’t catch him playing trash can basketball.

I don’t answer. I don’t know what to say. I just walk over to him, and when I’m looking down at him, it strikes me how handsome he is, and how turned on I am. Is it wrong to come onto him when it’s Hoseok that got me all worked up?

Christ.

“Are you okay?” Yoongi asks, looking confused.

“I’m fine,” I reply. I don’t sound fine, I sound like a horny idiot. I’m not even subtle about it; I straddle his lap, to his utter surprise.

“At work?” he asks, but he’s smiling at me, a mischievous smile that tells me he has no problem with what’s happening. This isn’t what I planned at all. I grind on his lap, feeling like a woman out of control. “Hey, hey—” Yoongi sucks in a deep breath.

“Do you have a condom?”

I am out of control. This is a terrible idea. I’m horny because I kissed Hoseok, and now here I am coming onto Yoongi—?

“Yeah? Yeah, I—” Yoongi studies me, like he thinks I’m lying. “Baby? Are you okay?”

“Fuck me.” It’s not a question, it’s a demand. Yoongi tilts his head.

“What brought this on?”

“I want you,” I reply stubbornly. It’s not a lie—he looks hot as hell today, with his shirt unbuttoned down to his chest and his smoldering eyes. I imagine him throwing me on his desk, taking me, and I shiver. I can feel him, hot and hard, grinding up against me. “Come on, don’t make me wait.”

“Are you sure?” Yoongi asks. Why does he have to be so considerate? Damn it! “Are you absolutely sure?”

“Yoongi,” I whine, frustrated, and maybe a little annoyed. “I’m sure.”

Strong hands grab my hips, pulling me down. His length is rubbing up against my slit, teasing me deliciously, but the feeling is dampened by our clothes being in the way. I reach down to push my panties aside, holding myself up on my knees so I don’t get a weird stain on Yoongi’s pants. Yoongi doesn’t hesitate to shove his pants down his hips and free himself. Once again, I’m staring at his dick a little confused, a little nervous. That’s. That’s about to be inside me?

It looks like Yoongi is struggling, and it’s not hard to guess what he’s struggling with. I don’t care about going slow right now, though. I should, but I don’t. Something weird has taken hold of me, and I know it’s at least a little born out of stress, and wanting relief from the feelings that came up today, and this isn’t a great idea—

“Hey,” Yoongi says, lifting my chin. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah? Yeah, I’m okay. I just got a little nervous,” I admit with a sheepish smile. “It’s uh. It’s big.”

Yoongi laughs, but he looks smug. Oh, right. Guys like thinking that sort of thing, don’t they? “Are you sure you’re ready? We don’t have to yet.”

“You’re amazing, you know that?” I reply. He really is. Sweet and considerate, too kind to take what I’m trying to shove at him without being positive that I want it. Experimentally, I take him in my hand and lower myself down so that the head of his cock slips into my folds and rubs against my clit, just like he did in Tahoe. It’s a start; I don’t have to go straight to the main event.

“Fuck,” Yoongi breathes. “You’re already so wet for me. Is this what you were thinking about on the way to work?”

“Yeah,” I answer, not feeling great about the lie but hell if I’m going to tell him otherwise. He’s the only one I’m thinking about now, especially with the shocks of pleasure building up from our contact.

“What do you want me to do, baby girl?”

“Mm—” God, I love when he calls me that. It’s so unexpected, so soft, but somehow so fucking sexy. “Throw me on your desk and fuck me until I’m crazy.”

“Fuck yeah, I can do that.”

It’s amazing how easily Yoongi lifts me, how quickly he shoves his stuff aside and drops me down on his desk. Amazing how quickly he gets my panties off and opens my legs, shoves up my shirt and bra. Exposed, once again. Yoongi looking at everything with approval and lust. Fuck, it’s so hot. This was a great idea. The best idea I’ve ever had.

“Come on, Yoongi, please,” I pant, not even caring how quickly he got me worked up. I like being thrown around like that. It does things to me I would have never imagined.

“Be patient,” Yoongi drawls, and I know he’s not going to just shove it in like I’m asking for. That would be too easy. “You’re acting like a needy little slut.”

Fuck. I moan, looking at Yoongi in shock. A smirk spreads over his face.

“Do you like that?” he asks. I nod, once. I shouldn’t! I should definitely not like that! But somehow, in this context, that was hot as hell. Yoongi leans over me, grabbing me by the hair to yank my head up and whisper it in my ear, deep and rough, and I shiver.

“If you don’t touch me I’m going to touch myself,” I complain in response. It’s the best I’ve got—who knew that he would be able to render me a mess with just one stupid word?

“You will not,” Yoongi snaps. It’s satisfying, being able to get under his skin like this. “You don’t get to feel good until I say you do.”

“Oh, fuck that,” I reply, breathless. My hand is on my mound before he can stop me; I try to get to business, my fingertips sliding down my wet slit.

Yoongi grabs my wrist and yanks my hand away with a scowl that would make me shiver if I weren’t so pleased by how mad he looks over my deliberate refusal to obey. If he’s always going to call me a brat, I might as well act like one, right? I reach with my other hand, but this time Yoongi grabs me before I can touch myself.

“You don’t want to be a good girl today? You want to make me mad?”

“I want to come, Sir,” I reply, my voice hard. No good girl today, not at all. I struggle to break free of his grip, but I can’t. He’s too strong.

“For that I shouldn’t let you come at all.”

Hnngh! Now that is a real threat. I pout, still glaring up at him. “You wouldn’t.”

“Don’t test me.”

“Not fair!”

“I didn’t promise to be fair.”

“Jerk! Asshole!”

Yoongi lets go of my wrist and slaps me right across the mouth. I wince, but I totally asked for that.

“Anything else?”

My blood is boiling. I’m so excited I’m going to burst. “Fuck you.”

Yoongi slaps me again, harder, and tears well up in my eyes.

My hand is free. I could totally start masturbating again, but I’m measuring the momentary pleasure against the threat of lasting pain. I’m not into that, yet—not the pain, specifically. I just like that Yoongi doesn’t hesitate in hurting me.

Fuck it. I reach between my legs, and Yoongi laughs. A cold, ominous sound.

“You want me to touch your pussy that badly? Fine.”

Huh? He’s giving in? I blink. That isn’t what I expected at all! Why would he just give me what I want after I acted like that?

I watch Yoongi, confused, but he’s busy opening a drawer and pulling out—rope. Oh my god, he has rope in his office? I snort, which earns me a little slap on the inside of my thigh, and that shuts me right up. Fuck, that hurt.

There are no complicated knots today; Yoongi binds my wrists, then loops the rope down under his desk, tugging it until my arms are painfully stretched above my head. I can’t move even an inch unless I try scooting up the desk, but it’s surprisingly difficult with my arms like this. I watch Yoongi walk back around his desk and look down at me, helpless once again.

“Remember your safewords.” 

“I’m not scared of you,” I remind Yoongi, just because I can. It only makes him smile wider.

“No?”

“Not one bit,” I relish in talking back to him, and it seems like he likes it too. I lick my lips, waiting, and then Yoongi moves and I bite my tongue to keep from screaming. I thought he would slap me on the thigh, or maybe the mouth, but he doesn’t—he smacks my pussy, hard, and I recoil from the pain. Legs together, trying to hide from him as if that will spare me anything at all.

“Tsk. We’re in the office. Be quiet and open your legs. I’m going to hit you five times.” Yoongi pauses, then sighs. “Five more times, because you didn’t thank me.”

“Wait—” I gasp, sniffling. “Thank you, sir. Thank you! Please—”

“Rules are rules, baby girl.”

I whimper, but I open my legs. It still smarts where he hit me, and I’m not looking forward to more hits, especially not there. The look on Yoongi’s face tells me he doesn’t give a single fuck. Ruthless, I called him—I was right. The next slap brings a loud whine from my throat, and I clamp my lips shut, beet red and crying. Damn. Damn, I hope no one heard that.

“Thank you, Sir,” I whisper.

Being slapped there is painful, but it’s making me feel hot. Yoongi can—and will—do whatever he wants with me. Fighting it is pointless. I brace for another slap, whimpering when it lands and gasping my gratitude. Three more times, leaving me choking on my crying, squirming on Yoongi’s desk. Dripping wet and begging him to please, please fuck me.

“Apologize,” Yoongi replies.

“I’m sorry, Sir, I’m sorry, I’m sorry!”

Oh, I’m pitiful. Sniveling, cunt throbbing, chest heaving.

“That’s much better. You’re lucky we’re in the office, or you’d be begging me to stop.”

I don’t doubt it. Pain is Yoongi’s weapon against me, inflicted with no remorse and the utmost precision. My wrists twist and tug uselessly at the ropes.

“It hurts,” I whimper, looking at Yoongi, pleading.

“Tsk, you’re just breaking all the rules today.”

Without warning, Yoongi slaps me again. I yelp through my tears. “I’m sorry, Sir! Please no more!”

“That’s up to you, isn’t it? Now be good, or you’ll get another round.”

“Yes, Sir! I p-promise, Sir!”

Keeping my voice low is so difficult , but I’m doing my best. No one should hear; the rest of the offices are down a hall.

I shiver on the desk, watching Yoongi fiddle with something in his desk drawer, waiting. Is he going to hurt me more? Will he show me mercy?

Something silky slips over my eyes, and Yoongi ties it tight. A blindfold? It’s pushing on my eyes uncomfortably. I close them, still whimpering, feeling already way more alert from having my vision stolen.

“I was going to fuck you just like you asked, but I don’t feel like it now. You’ll have to convince me.”

What? No! How?!

“Please, Sir.”

Yoongi yawns. Loudly.

“Please fuck me, Sir.”

Nothing. 

“Sir, I. I want you. Please?” Still nothing. I huff, frustrated. “I don’t know what you want me to say!”

“Tell me how much you need my cock.”

No! No!!! I can’t—I can’t say that!! Curse my mouth. My pride. I take in a shuddering breath. If he wants me to talk like a pornstar, I’ll have to give in, right?

“Please—I want your c-cock, Sir.” God damn it all, nothing! I can at least hear the crinkle of the condom wrapper, and I pray I’ll get to have him inside me sometime today. “I’m begging you, Sir. Please!”

“Awful,” Yoongi says.

This is humiliating. I know that’s the point, but still. I’m likely to die of a heart attack right now! And still, Yoongi doesn’t move. My frustration breaks, and I sob again.

“Please! Fuck, I need it,” I whine. I don’t care! I don’t care if it’s embarrassing! “I need you, Sir! Please fuck me, I’m going to go crazy if you don’t give me your cock right now!”

“Good girl. Was that so hard?”

Yoongi enters me with one sharp thrust. I grunt, filled to the brim, my body on fire as much as my face burns in humiliation. I expect him to give me time to adjust, but I should have known better.

“Fuck, you’re so tight,” Yoongi hisses, then he pulls almost all the way out. His hips snap against me, again and again, and I get the feeling that I was better off being frustrated before. It feels good—too good—and I open my legs wider, my hips rolling to try to get more. 

“Mm—Sir, please,” I whisper, because that’s what Yoongi wants, and suddenly I want what he wants more than anything. “Please, harder—!”

A low mewl leaves my lips when Yoongi complies, my breath stolen away while I try to adjust to the fullness, the stretch. Yoongi grunts with every thrust, his hips pounding into me, driving his cock deep into my pussy and making me see stars. I must look filthy like this, tied at the wrists with my clothes hastily shoved aside, my flushed slit spread open and dripping for Yoongi to bury himself in. My thighs are shaking, just like when he was fingering me in Tahoe, and I feel on the verge of something too big, too hot, swelling inside me until I’m sure I’ll burst.

“Don’t you dare come, slut,” Yoongi growls at me. Was that supposed to help?! I whine, trying to writhe away.

“I can’t, I can’t—ssstt—stooop, Yoongi, Sir! Stop, stop, I can’t stop it—!” I’ve seen this before, I think vaguely. Am I supposed to ask for permission? I pant, my hips shaking, my toes curled. “Please Sir, please can I come? I’m so c-close—!”

“Hahh, I don’t think I should let you,” Yoongi spits back. I feel his hands land on either side of my waist, feel him lean over and lick a stripe between my breasts. Oh, fuck. I whimper at the feeling of his teeth nibbling trail over the curve of my chest, cry out when his tongue laps at my nipple. Yoongi’s teeth clamp down and tug so hard I have to swallow my whine. I can’t do this—I’m definitely going to come, and then I’ll be in real trouble. “Fuck, you feel—mmh, fuck,” Yoongi pants, his voice shaking. In my haze, I feel a little proud that even he isn’t holding it together. “Go ahead—come for me, baby girl.”

Even just Yoongi’s voice is driving me mad. So low, so deep, caressing me and winding me up even further. I can’t remember what it’s like to not feel like I begin and end with the pleasure Yoongi is giving me, what it’s like to not feel like I’m burning with bliss and about to give out entirely. I’m wound tight as a spring; I’m cornered, trembling under Yoongi, my hands twisting and rope burning my wrists.

“Thank you, Sir! Th-thank—thank you!” I whine as I’m dragged under, my back arching high off the desk and my cunt squeezing Yoongi so tight I can feel every inch of his cock pressed up against my walls. 

“Good girl,” Yoongi purrs. “You can’t help yourself, can you? It just feels so good.”

“Y-yes Sir, it feels—so fucking good—th-thank you, Sir—”

“Fuck, you’re squeezing me so tight,” Yoongi pants. He pounds into me erratically, and swears again, rough and low. Slaps of skin on skin echo around the room with the shaking of the desk, the choked moans tumbling from my lips. Just like before, I’m drowning in him, splayed and torn apart just for his pleasure. It’s too much. Like having pleasure shocked into my system over and over, blurring together around the edges and forcing me to think of, and feel, nothing else. Like I can’t stand it if Yoongi doesn’t stop, and I can’t stand it if he doesn’t continue.

I’m glad Yoongi’s office is isolated in the back corner of the building, because I can’t stop moaning now, crying his name, and I do not want to be found out.

With a low groan, Yoongi gives a last, hard buck that buries his cock to the hilt. He stills, just like that, and I almost regret asking him to use a condom. What would it feel like—?

The only sound now is our panting, disjointed and broken. Yoongi rests on me, heavy and warm and so lovely. I want to touch him so badly, see him, but the blindfold is still around my head, my wrists still bound. I feel good. Everything feels good. Yoongi’s weight over me, his cock still buried inside me, the aftershocks. I feel less complicated about it all now. I want Yoongi. I definitely, without a doubt, want him. We fit together whether he’s a grump or not, and I can very much see myself getting lost in a world that’s all him.

The rope comes undone around my wrists, Yoongi’s thumb massaging the marks left behind. I groan and stretch my arms with a hiss. God damn, my shoulders are sore. But I can touch Yoongi, now. I pet his hair, gentle, while we breathe out our highs and come back to earth. Yoongi softens and leaves me empty, missing the feeling of him buried deep inside, but we can’t very well have a second round. There’s a meeting at 10:30, and then I have to meet with the caterers for a sample tasting, and then I’ll be meeting with the committee for the MOBA gala.

I take off my makeshift blindfold. It’s a necktie—hah. Smart. I toss it aside.

“You’re so good, baby girl,” Yoongi murmurs against my chest. His lips are everywhere, kissing me with gratitude. “So very good. How do you feel?”

“Perfect,” I answer. It’s not a lie, at least it doesn’t seem like one. Yoongi lifts his head, smiling at me, and I return it with fondness. “Yoongi.”

“Mm?”

“What are we?”

That might have been the wrong question to blurt out, because Yoongi stiffens, and his expression becomes guarded.

“What do you mean?”

“Like, are we exclusive? Is this casual?”

“Oh.” And like that, he relaxes. I didn’t bring up feelings…yet. I know he’s not interested in that conversation. “I’d like to be exclusive.”

“Then we are. That goes both ways, mind you.” Like I have any room to talk. But I want to make sure. We have to be on the same page.

“Tch,” Yoongi rolls his eyes and stands, disposing of the condom and then cleaning himself off so he can adjust his dick back into his pants. “Why wouldn’t it?”

“Because this is just sex.”

A peculiar emotion crosses Yoongi’s face, something like muted hurt that he tries to cover up with apathy. “Is that what you want?”

“Isn’t that what you’re offering?”

“Sex isn’t the only thing I can give you.”

I swallow. That’s not what I expected him to say at all. “Then what?”

“I…” Yoongi trails off. “I don’t know. I want to try.”

I sit up and adjust my clothes, then look at Yoongi thoughtfully. “I’m not making demands, Yoongi. I’m just asking.”

“I’ve tried, before. It didn’t go well. I don’t want to see you get hurt, least of all by me. I’ll try, I want to try. I just I can’t make promises.”

“Okay,” I reply, feeling more sobered but pleasantly surprised. “I don’t expect you to.”

“Is there anything else you want to ask? To get out into the open.”

I take my time straightening my hair, not looking at him. I’m a little embarrassed how giddy I feel, and I’m definitely blushing. I might cry. I really, really thought…

“Are you scared?” I ask. I get the feeling that he must be, having worked so hard to push people away for so long.

Yaaa, that doesn’t matter.”

“It does to me.”

I can tell that Yoongi is uncomfortable; should I drop it? I don’t want him to get tense. We already have something, and that will be fine, right? I can be satisfied with that while we work toward something else, maybe genuine affection. Maybe partners. I might not be in love with him, yet, but I’m going to be. I can feel it in the fluttering of my chest, in the way thinking about him makes my stomach turn over. In how much I want to take down his walls and show him that being cared about doesn’t have to be scary.

“Sometimes,” Yoongi admits, surprising me. “But it always passes. I’m less scared when you’re around.”

“Then call me when you need me. I’ll take your fear away,” I say, sliding off his desk so that I can stand next to him. Yoongi looks at me, like he’s waiting for something else, but I just lean up and give him a chaste kiss. “I’ll protect you.”

“You already have, once.”

We gaze at each other, and I do tear up a little bit. “Promise, Yoongi. Don’t suffer alone. You don’t have to.”

“I can’t promise,” Yoongi says, quietly. “But I’ll do my best. It’s not that easy, you know?”

I nod. I do, to a degree. Having this conversation must be scary for him. I wonder what happened that he’s so hesitant to explore this with me. I wonder if it goes all the way back to Lucie, or if there’s something else I don’t know about.

I’m proud of him. After all my negative assumptions, he really proved me wrong. I feel bad for it, I really do—hasn’t he been trying all along? Letting me help him with a panic attack, getting to know me at the restaurant, opening up about himself when he doesn’t even have to? “Stay over tonight.”

“Oh.” I blush, then. It’s all hitting me now, that I walked in his office and fucked him and asked him where I stand, and he wants to try for me. For me. “Yeah. Yeah, okay. I’ll be there.”

“Good,” Yoongi nods. We stand there with possibilities opening up around us, then Yoongi leans down and kisses me so softly, so tenderly, I melt. “Go on, get back to work.”

“Mm, yes. I should. I’ll just…” I gesture vaguely to the door, then float along the floor with Yoongi’s quiet chuckles in the background.

“I’ll see you soon, baby girl.”

“Yeah,” I nod, unable to contain my grin. “Yeah, okay.”

Chapter Text

“So, what have you discovered?”

I’m walking along Pier 7 with Hoseok. It’s already dark; the lights along the pier glow softly, boats out in the bay like shining, glittering beacons over black water. We have coffee, having skipped dinner altogether. Neither of us felt hungry. It’s probably the heavy atmosphere that’s settled around us, and I feel bad for it, but I’m trying to keep my chin up.

Trying, being the keyword. It’s hard with Hoseok walking next to me, acting like things are fine. They’re not fine. They might be able to be fine soon. Really soon, I hope. As for right now, I’m still warring with myself. My mind is made up, and yet.

After this morning, I feel so torn. Confused. How can I want to be with Yoongi so decisively, but be this attracted to someone else? Isn’t it horrible? But the answer is at the edge of my mind, memories of Taehyung clinging to Jimin and Jungkook, the three of them so tangled up that I couldn’t tell where one ended and the other began. The option is there, isn’t it? Or am I just being selfish? Trying to have my cake, and eat it too.

I shouldn’t consider it. Not even hypothetically. There’s no way that Yoongi would ever be okay with it, is there? After how he acted at the Halloween party? So possessive, infuriatingly so.

“About?” I ask, confused. Hoseok is looking at me expectantly.

“Yoongi. You seem to be in a better mood than this morning.”

“Am I that transparent?” I laugh without much humor, deciding to lean on the railing and look out over the bay. I’m still tired. My day was long, and definitely started out emotional in a less than pleasant way. It’s hard to look at Hoseok now, with what he’s asking me. With how my answer might affect him. “It’s not just sex.”

“That’s good, then!” Hoseok sounds so cheery that I nearly start crying all over again. Stop being so wonderful, you stupid sunshiney jerk!

“Come on, you don’t have to pretend to be happy for me.”

“But I am happy for you. Can’t I be? I want you to be happy.”

“That’s what I mean. You’re being too good about it! Just, tell me I suck or something.”

Instead, Hoseok hugs me. I don’t know what I expected. For Hoseok to be mean? No way, he would never. “I overreacted at the party. I made you think it’s a lot worse than it is.”

Just what is he trying to do? I lean back to look up at his face, frowning.

“If my friends are happy together, then I’m happy for them. I’m not going to be selfish and hold you back because of how I feel.”

That’s really mature of him, but I can’t help but feel stressed that Hoseok is putting on a brave face for me. For how long? And how will we implode, if we do? I want to do something, but there’s really nothing I can do about it. This is just the way it is. The way it has to be, all down to chance. Why couldn’t he have said something about this earlier?

But I would have been hurting Yoongi if he had. Maybe I wouldn’t have known, but it still would have happened.

I never knew being liked is such a shitty thing.

“What are you thinking?” Hoseok asks. I realize he’s still got his arms around me, and that my hands have landed on his chest, and we’re just standing at the end of Pier 7 looking like we’re on a romantic date. Christ, if Yoongi walked up to us right now.

“I’m thinking it’s not fair.”

“What’s not fair?”

“Can’t you just kiss Yoongi anyway?” I ask. I don’t hate the thought of that. Yoongi needs as much love in his life as he can get, and if Hoseok is the one giving it to him? Is it that bad? “Like, what’s stopping you?”

“I wouldn’t do that to you!” Hoseok looks shocked, his eyes wide.

“But I just said you should do it anyway.”

“No way! I don’t want to hurt you,” Hoseok shakes his head, looking bewildered. “Besides, Yoongi doesn’t feel that way. He was really clear about that.”

Oh. Well, I guess that puts a stop to that train of thought. It could have worked, though, if it weren’t for the lack of feelings. I think of the party of three again; they make it work. It’s not crazy to think Yoongi and Hoseok could have, right?

But that opens up a whole host of questions that I don’t know how to answer, which are pointless to think about if Yoongi isn’t interested in the first place.

I take a step backward, away from Hoseok, to break contact. It feels weird, now; inappropriate. It’s hard not to read into it, and I hate that—I hate that now I’m questioning whether or not he’s as friendly as I thought, or he just wanted in my pants. I want to believe that it’s the former so bad, but I guess we’ll find out. How he acts in the coming weeks will be a huge indicator.

“Sorry,” I say, finally. “I wish there was something I could do.”

“You don’t have to do anything. Just be my friend, like you have been.”

“Aw Hobi, that won’t change. Nothing has to change at all.”

“Then we’re okay!”

The conversation really isn’t that bad, considering how this morning went. I’m relieved, underneath my vague despondency. I was worried Hoseok would be upset with me, or cry, or ask me to reconsider. That seems sort of out of character for him, but when it comes to romance, who the hell even knows? People go crazy when it comes to getting to kiss people.

“It’s hard, now,” I say quietly. I can’t help being honest; I can’t help telling him how I feel. Maybe I should shut up, but I just. Feel so bad. “I was so dense before, and now that I know, it’s so hard not to—to hold your hand, or kiss you.”

“We can’t,” Hoseok says weakly. “You’re with Yoongi.”

“I know! I know,” I look away, embarrassed that I even decided to open my dumb mouth. “I’m sorry! Or maybe I’m not sorry, because it’s your fault I’m thinking about these things anyway.”

“Eheh—are you going to get back at me now?”

“No,” I answer him miserably, and then the tears start. I’m not in love, definitely not. The possibility of feelings, though? It’s there. I can feel that door firmly closing before I even had a chance to peek my head in, and it sucks. Everything about it sucks. I’ve gone from “I don’t want him” to “yeah, I probably want him?” and it feels like such a gross betrayal I don’t know how I’m going to meet Yoongi’s eyes.

“Hey…” Hoseok is wiping away my tears before I can do anything, and I propel myself away from him again before I turn plain stupid. “I’m sorry. I’m really sorry, I shouldn’t have—I shouldn’t have done a lot of things, I never wanted to make you cry.”

“It’s okay. I’m okay. I just...” I say, wiping away my own tears and trying to put on a smile. “I just need to figure out some things.”

“Okay,” Hoseok nods, looking so much like he wants to hug me. “I’ll give you time. Maybe we can sleep on it and things will be better.”

“Yeah, probably.” I steel myself, looking away. “I’m falling in love with him, Hobi.”

“It’s really hard not to, isn’t it?”

“Yeah.”

“I don’t blame you.”

“Yeah.”

“You should go to him. There’s no good reason why you should be standing around, crying over me. Go be happy.”

I nod. My voice seems to have disappeared, and I throw myself into Hoseok to squeeze him tight. He’s too good for this. Too good for me, a person who can be so selfish as to want him when he can’t have me, complicating everything with not nearly enough shame. I nuzzle into his shoulder, breathing in his scent. Fuck, I’m the worst.

“Goodnight, Hobi. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Yeah.”

Leaving Hoseok on the pier feels wrong, but I do it anyway. I have to do it. I will myself not to turn around, but I can’t stop myself. I’m far enough away that it’s hard to make Hoseok out where he’s standing by the railing, but his posture tells me all I need to know. His back is bowed, his arms folded on the railing. I can’t tell if he’s crying or not, but I think he probably is. I feel sick.

I still feel sick when I let myself into Yoongi’s apartment, dazed. I wandered there on foot just to feel like I had time. Time to think, time to regain some semblance of sanity. The city lights were a blur, the people I passed nameless, faceless bodies moving as a backdrop. I can’t take anything in. I think of Hoseok, crying on the pier. Tears fall, and I don’t even bother to hide it, my footsteps taking me closer and closer to the decision I’ve made.

I’m falling in love with him. I can’t escape that simple truth, and I don’t want to. I feel so cared for when I’m with Yoongi; I feel like I’m in the first pages of an epic, with countless adventures ahead, like I could take on the sea and sky and have him by my side without us ever faltering.

“You’re early,” Yoongi says, poking his head out from the kitchen. The smell of meat makes my stomach turn over. Nausea hits me, and I lean against the wall, not bothering to hide how much I’m crying. Tears have stained my cheeks and fallen down to soak the collar of my shirt, I’m a mess. But I’m so, so happy to see him, to smell his scent when he wraps me up in his arms, to feel his lips on top of my head. “Baby? What happened?”

“I’m sorry,” I whisper, my breath shaking. “I kissed him again. I’m sorry, Yoongi, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

“Is that all?” I look up, confused. “You didn’t do anything but kiss?” I shake my head, and Yoongi relaxes. “I expected you to. It’s alright if you don’t do it again.” Slowly, I nod. Tears won’t stop leaking from my eyes, and I feel even worse knowing Yoongi was waiting for me, thinking I was off kissing Hoseok and maybe choosing him, instead.

“This morning,” I correct. I hiccup. “Not just now.”

Yoongi’s brow furrows, and I worry he’s put it together. It makes me look so bad. I’m such utter garbage, aren’t I? “Before or after you came to my office?”

“B-before.”

“Make it make sense to me,” Yoongi says quietly. I can recognize his expression; totally guarded.

“It doesn’t make sense,” I answer, and I take in a breath that shakes so hard I feel dizzy. “I thought—I thought you only wanted sex from me b-because—and then I went to find out wh-what’s really g-going on, and you just looked—”

“Hey, breathe,” Yoongi interrupts me, urgent. I nod, taking a few deep breaths.

“I don’t know what came over me. I saw you, and I just wanted you so fucking much, Yoongi. Like I couldn’t control myself.”

That answer seems to appease him; he nods, ruffling my hair. “And there’s definitely nothing between you and Hobi? Nothing at all?”

“You know how I feel,” I answer. And he does. I told him on Friday; Hoseok is the logical choice, but I’m not acting on logic. “If that’s not good enough, I’ll go.”

“Tell me again. I want to hear you say it.”

My head falls back against the wall so I can look at Yoongi. His face is carefully neutral, like he’s waiting for a death sentence. “I left Hobi crying on Pier 7 and came to be with you. I think that says enough.”

A flicker of something passes across Yoongi’s eyes, and he looks away. Was that pain? Worry?

“How do you feel about Hobi?” I ask. If he’s going to make me say it, then he has to say it too. It’s only fair, right?

“Don’t,” Yoongi mutters. “Not now, okay? I made dinner. Let’s eat.”

The avoidance makes me nervous, but I don’t push it. “I don’t want to eat. I don’t want to think. Make me forget, Yoongi.”

“How?”

“Hurt me.”

“No,” Yoongi replies, voice calm and even. I was hoping he would be more enthusiastic, but I’m not surprised he refused me. “I’m not throwing you into a scene like this. Eat, take a shower, and if you’re feeling better, I’ll think about it.”

“Do I have to?”

“You have to,” Yoongi replies, firm. “You’ll eat as much as I tell you, now get your butt to the table.”

Not much room to argue, there. It’s not like I have the energy to begin with; my day has been a rollercoaster, and I’m grateful when I sit down to a table full of food. It all looks good—meat and soup, rice, tiny little dishes full of vegetables and such. Yoongi fixes me a plate, and I understand that I’m to eat everything he put on it. I dig in. Shades of normalcy come back to me with every bite. When I’m away from Hoseok—when I can sit by Yoongi and laugh and talk, sharing food, sharing our days—I feel much better.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t meet with the caterers,” Yoongi says around a mouthful of food. “What did you try?”

“Nope! I’m not telling until I announce everything. But it was really, really good food. I think everyone will be pleased.”

“You’re such a brat,” Yoongi says with a roll of his eyes. “Who do you think you are? I’m your boss!”

“Be that as it may,” I giggle, and I’m so delighted to see Yoongi smiling at me, looking at me with pure affection. “It will be more fun if you wait. Just another week, okay?”

“Unacceptable,” Yoongi teases. “I should discipline you. Put you on probation.”

“So discipline me!”

“Oh, very good. So sneaky.”

“Discipline me, Sir. Please?”

“You want it that bad?”

It’s disarming how surprised Yoongi sounds. I think about it for a minute, chewing some rice. I’m feeling normal, more or less—like the hurt has washed off of me, sitting here with Yoongi. How unexpected to think two weeks ago, I was in total denial of how I felt and what I wanted. I reach for Yoongi’s hand and hold it in my own.

“Shower first,” I answer with a sly smile. Yoongi looks at me for a full five seconds, then snorts.

“Shower first,” he agrees. “Until then, I wanted to talk to you. About Lucie.”

I pause with my chopsticks halfway to my mouth. Rice falls from them onto the table, and I hurriedly pick it up, but I’m totally unable to hold my dread. “Okay.”

“I sent her an email.”

“What did it say?”

“That her advances are unwelcome and I’m happily in a relationship.” Happily in a relationship? With—with me? My head tilts on its own accord, and I wait. “What? Isn’t that what we decided earlier?”

“Oh! Yes!” I snap out of it then, and I’m smiling so wide my cheeks hurt. “I guess I didn’t think of it in that context.”

“Idiot, what do you think being exclusive means?”

“No, I know! Just, hearing you say it like that…I’m happy. How did she take it?”

Yoongi’s eyes flash. “Not well.”

“But there’s nothing between you.”

“No. Not after…” I wait, but Yoongi doesn’t follow that train of thought. “I’ll have to hire a new PR firm.”

“That bad?”

“Yup. I was hoping to keep it professional, but that’s how it went.” Yoongi takes a few more bites of bulgogi, sighing through his nose. “I guess all our work together is meaningless if she can’t have my dick.”

“Stupid. You’re brilliant, Yoongi. She’s definitely going to regret it.”

Our eyes meet, and I’m surprised how deep Yoongi’s blush is.

“I mean it! You have more genius in your left hand than she has in—”

“Yaaa, shut up! You’re killing me! Fifty lashes!” Yoongi yells, covering his beet-red face. What the fuck, he’s so cute. “No speaking at the dinner table ever again!”

Alright. I sit there, silent, looking at the table in a show of subservience. If that’s what he wants, I’m all too happy to comply, and not because I’m trying to forget this time.

Actually, I can do one better. I slide down to the floor, crawl a few paces, and kneel by his feet. Yoongi swallows audibly. His hand lands on my head, fingers brushing through my hair while he contemplates me. I expect that he’ll remind me about our shower promise, or say that there’s too much stress from the day for him to really be into it.

“Strip, baby girl. And put your hair back—I want to see your pretty face.”

“Yes, Sir,” I whisper. My sweater goes first, then my skirt, followed by my bra and panties. It’s cold sitting on the floor with nothing on; goosebumps crawl up my skin and my nipples harden while I work my hair into a braid and tie off the ends in a knot. Yoongi nudges my knee with his foot, and I open my legs so he can see what he wants. It’s weird feeling my folds part, weirder still feeling the cool air in such a sensitive place.

“Touch yourself.”

“How would you like me to do it, Sir?”

“However you do it when no one is watching.”

“Yes, Sir.”

Easy enough. I’m not in the habit of letting people watch me, so there’s really only one way. Tonight doesn’t feel like the right moment for my earlier brattiness. My legs spread wider, uncomfortably so, and my hand trails down my stomach, fingers sliding into my folds to circle over my clit. With my other hand, I cup one of my breasts and knead. A small sigh escapes me, but Yoongi didn’t ask me to put on a show—that’s all he gets.

“Does it feel good?” Yoongi asks in that rumbling, velvety voice I love so much. 

“Yes, Sir.”

“You’re being so good for me.”

“I want to be, Sir.”

A shiver rolls through me. I want to look at Yoongi, but I know my rules. Instead, I focus on the floor. My lashes are already fluttering, my breaths quickened. I circle my clit with the pad of my finger, swallowing down a whimper, and let my nails scratch down, over my stomach, oh so gently.

“Mmh—” I take in a deep breath. My head falls back, my braid falling over my shoulder and tickling my back. Direct stimulation like this is so much. Already I’m trembling, fighting the urge to pull my hand away and recollect myself. “Mm! Sir…”

“That’s it,” Yoongi answers me. He sounds way more breathless now, but I don’t dare look at him. My eyes close; I rock my hips into my hand, blushing at how vulnerable and intimate this is. “Come on, baby girl. Show me everything.”

“Y-yes, Sir,” I whimper. It’s growing to be too much, now. My free hand is stationary, clenched on top of my thigh. Does this really please him? Do I look good? I can only guess, but I think I’m right in feeling like this is exactly what Yoongi wants. I’m grinding into my hand now, sensations building into deep, heady pleasure that coaxes a tiny moan from my lips. My fingers are so different from Yoongi’s; if he were touching me, it would feel so much better. I whine in frustration, then—why doesn’t he want to touch me? He could ask for anything he wants and I would give it to him right now.

It seems like Yoongi can read my thoughts. Warm fingers trail over my jaw, down my throat. I jump when Yoongi pinches my nipple, tugging it painfully.

“Please, Sir. I want you.”

“I know you do. It’s written all over your face.”

“You don’t want me, Sir?”

“Oh, I want you so bad, baby girl. I want to do so many things to you.”

“Please! Anything you want, Sir. I’m yours.”

“Fuck,” Yoongi breathes, and then he’s down on the floor with me. His hand pushes mine aside, and his fingers stroke my clit so hard, so fast. “Come for me first. I want to see you come.”

“A-ahh—mm, yes Sir!”

Just like I thought, it doesn’t take me long. Yoongi’s fingers stroke me so expertly, coaxing louder and louder moans from me, making my whole body tremble. Yes—fuck, yes, I think, rolling my hips into his touch. This is perfect, this is heaven. I pant open-mouthed at the ceiling, coming with a full-body shudder and falling into Yoongi in a crumpled heap.

“Thank you, Sir. Thank you,” I whisper, unable to stop myself from thanking Yoongi again and again. Until he’s kissing me, tenderly, and I reach to hold onto his shoulders. There’s nothing I’ve ever wanted more than Yoongi, and it scares me a little. Is this what it’s like, being so consumed with one person that nothing else matters?

I kiss back desperately, so needy and quivering like a leaf. Sex isn’t love—I repeat that in my head, over and over, but it’s too late. It’s too fucking late, and it very nearly cleaves me in two. I’m not ready—I can’t do this to him. I can’t expect him to just accept everything before he’s even been given a chance to be ready for it.

I sob. Yeah, about being in too deep? Here I am.

Chapter Text

I’m drowning.

It didn’t take long for Yoongi to heave me up, onto my feet, and take me to his bedroom. Tear-streaked, still shaking, I let him throw me back on the bed. Waiting. I don’t know what he’s going to do. Will he hurt me? Will he torment me all night and leave me a mess with no chance of recovery before morning?

The latter seems likely. When Yoongi climbs into bed with me, he’s looking at me like I’m the most amazing thing he’s ever seen. He’s going to kiss me, I think—he’s leaning down, licking his lips, but he’s too low to—

Mmn! Sir!” I cry, my hips rising involuntarily, pressing my mound into his mouth beyond my control. “Oh my god—!”

Never have I let anyone do this, too afraid of that level of intimacy. Someone putting their mouth there, tasting me, always seemed like too much. Now, I don’t give a single fuck. Totally blind, I grab Yoongi’s hair, trying to ground myself any way I can against the onslaught. His tongue feels like nothing I’ve ever experienced—hot and soft, bringing me straight to the edge in an instant and leaving me to hang there for a torturous eternity.

“Please,” I pant, praying to whatever deities may exist that Yoongi will grant me this one small request. “Sir, please—c-can I watch?”

Yoongi barely pulls off long enough to say yes. My eyes fly open and I look down to where Yoongi has his mouth buried in my folds like he’s experiencing something sublime just by tasting me. I prop myself up on my elbow for a better view; his tongue circles me, laps at me, his lips closing over my clit. God. Nothing I have seen, or ever will see, can top how fucking hot this is. Yoongi lifts his eyes to mine, the smug asshole daring to smirk with his tongue pressed flat against me. It drags up, a thread of saliva or my juices or both suspended between us, and I just about lose it right then.

And even that isn’t all. Yoongi’s tongue traces me harder, faster, and I collapse back into the pillows. My voice is ripped from me in loud cries, I can’t think. I’m going mad, helpless to do anything but take it. My chest heaves. “S-sir—Yoongi! Yoongi, Yoongi, Yoongi—!”

Release bears down on me, so hard and so fast my mouth is frozen in a silent scream. Still, Yoongi doesn’t stop—I’m arched off the bed, drowning in an endless sea, while Yoongi god damn slurps me up, his tongue like heaven, leaving my thighs shaking and my fingers clawing at the sheets as I wail.

I can’t take any more. I’m going to fall apart, I’m going to go crazy. I open my eyes when Yoongi moves, gaze at him, dazed, while he tears open a condom and rolls it on his dick. When did he get undressed? I can’t remember.

“Good girl,” Yoongi whispers in my ear. Our bodies join, and I can feel my thighs trembling as soon as he moves. Everything is so sensitive, receptive to every thrust, sparks of bliss bringing more and more cries from me every time Yoongi moves. “Come on, let me hear you—” Yoongi pants in my ear. “Fuck, you feel so fucking good—”

In my haze, I feel Yoongi take my hand, intertwining our fingers  The world slows down around me. Kisses pepper my face, my throat, down to my chest. Yoongi’s face is slick with my cum, his hair a mess, and I whimper questioningly. A minute ago, we were fucking like our lives depended on it, and now…

Now, Yoongi is moving slowly, our breaths syncing. He kisses me, not like he normally does, but gentle. Lovingly. Like we’re not fucking at all.

I sigh. This feels good, too. Amazing. Complete in a way I’ve never felt before.

“Yoongi…?”

“Shh, baby girl. Just feel it.”

I can’t do anything but feel it. My eyes follow the map Yoongi traces on my skin, his lips reverent, his eyes closed as if in prayer. Am I imagining it? I can’t be, can I?

Thought slips away again. Yoongi’s tongue is on my skin, now, lapping at my nipple, his lips closing around it. “Yoongi,” I whisper. My voice is hoarse, but I say it again, knowing I’m done for.

That’s the last thought I have. My entire world shrinks to a pinpoint, and the only thing I remember is him. I fall into a fitful sleep, held so tightly to Yoongi that it’s hard to tell where he ends and I begin.

I’m barely treading water in a churning, endless black sea. Water chokes me, waves drag me under—I’m going to die, I think, and then a hand grabs onto mine and drags me, shivering and coughing, to the beach.

Hoseok.

He’s shouting something over the storm, but I can’t hear him. The crash of the waves is too loud. I’m so, so cold—

I open my eyes and stretch, yawning. There’s no ocean—no Hoseok—and I’m wrapped up in big fluffy blankets in Yoongi’s bed, completely alone. The dream slips away in the time it takes me to rub the sleep from my eyes and catch the scent of bacon wafting into the bedroom. That gets me out of bed in an instant. After a detour to the bathroom, I shuffle into the kitchen to find a feast on the island: bacon, pancakes, eggs, fruit, the whole nine yards. Yoongi is pouring two cups of coffee, standing there with rumpled hair and just a pair of boxers. I’m pretty sure I can feel my heart melting—he woke up and made me breakfast.

“Morning,” I mumble around a yawn. I probably make a pretty pitiful sight; I shamble to a chair and flop down in it, then yawn again.

“Morning, you.” Yoongi passes me a cup of coffee and I take it gratefully, not even caring that it scalds my tongue. “It’s almost nine. Someone was tired.”

“Nine?” I ask blearily. Nine? Nine! NINE! I sit bolt upright, staring at Yoongi with wide eyes. “We’re late!”

“Pfft—” Yoongi dissolves into laughter. “That we are.”

“But—but the meeting with—”

“I rescheduled it.”

“Oh.”

“Eat, baby girl.”

“Mm.” 

If he’s going to call me that outside of Sexy Time, I’m going to have to work on not blushing or thinking of things unmentionable over breakfast. I cover a pancake with strawberries and cream, avoiding Yoongi’s eyes for the time being.

“Pancakes,” I say softly.

“It’s tradition.”

“Do I get pancakes every time we have sex?”

“I wouldn’t want you to get spoiled…” I glance up. Yoongi’s hand is holding his chin, and he looks excessively thoughtful. I laugh, feeling far more awake than I did a moment ago. “You’re already a brat.”

“Hey, I was good last night!” I protest. Rude! I did everything he asked, and even things he didn’t ask me to do. 

“For once.”

“No! I was good in Tahoe, too! I’ve been good more than I’ve been a brat!”

“Debatable,” Yoongi shrugs. He takes a long sip of coffee, eyes sparkling over his mug.

“Hmph,” I mutter, going back to my food. If this is supposed to make me less of a brat, it’s not working at all.

“See? Now you’re even pouting like one.”

“Because you’re a jerk.”

“And just like that, she reverts to her true nature. A very fine specimen.”

I throw a strawberry at him. It splats onto his stomach and falls on the floor, and Yoongi frowns.

“Behave,” he says, and he’s using a very specific voice. One that I’m definitely learning to associate with things.

“I don’t want to, Sir.” I throw another strawberry.

“I’m warning you—”

“You can’t tell me what to do!”

“I can, and you damn well listen.”

“Lalala! I can’t hear you!”

Why is it so fun pissing Yoongi off? I stare at him, face stony, and I know I’m going to regret acting this childish. There’s threat in every line of his face.

“Now we’re going to be even later, thanks to you. Eat your breakfast. If you say one more word, you’re in big trouble.”

“Yes, Sir!” I grin, and Yoongi makes an exasperated sound before digging into his own breakfast. We eat in silence save for the clinking of forks, drinking down a pot of coffee while I sway back and forth in my chair—a deliberate attempt to let Yoongi know that I don’t care. Punish me! I’m not afraid.

There’s a phrase for this, I think. Be careful what you wish for.

After breakfast, I’m given the task of rinsing dishes and loading the dishwasher, but there’s. There’s a catch. Of course there’s a catch. Yoongi strips me of the clothes I threw on, bending me over the sink and pushing a weirdly shaped vibrator into me, which isn’t so bad. I can do dishes with a little bit of vibration, that’s fine.

Until Yoongi’s fingers are working me open back there. I whine, trying to squirm away, but he holds my hip in his hand with a painful grip. “Shouldn’t you be doing something?” he asks, totally casual, like he isn’t fingering my ass while my legs shake from the vibrator turning me into jelly?

“Something?” I ask, feigning ignorance. “I dunno.”

A hard slap lands on my ass, and I hiss. “You will address me as Sir.”

“I dunno, Sir.”

“Tch. Fine. You want to be punished that bad?”

“Nope. No Sir.”

I can tell that I’m winding him up—he sounds legitimately angry, and I feel like I should knock it off before he up and leaves. What is it about him that makes it impossible to be ‘good’? 

“Dishes. Now.”

“I don’t feel like it.”

And that was one push too far. Yoongi’s fingers leave me in a second, and the next he’s got me by the shoulders. I land on the floor in a heap, gasping from how quickly he went from humoring me to the cold, severe dom that I’ve only seen brief glimpses of. Yoongi grabs my hair and starts dragging me—literally, he’s dragging me—off into a different wing of his penthouse. I don’t have time to take anything in, my only thought being to haul ass fast enough that Yoongi doesn’t rip out half my hair.

Also? That vibrator is a lot harder to deal with when I’m crawling. I thought my legs were shaky before. Shit, I had no idea.

“W-wait! Yoongi!” I pant, unable to stop myself. He’s being so fucking rough right now, and it’s hot as fuck, but I just can’t move that fast on my hands and knees. “Slow down, please!”

“Keep up,” Yoongi snaps back, not slowing down at all. Instead, he wraps my hair around his fist to give me less slack, and I can’t help but whine from the burn at my roots. “If you refuse to call me Sir one more time, I’m locking you in a cage for the rest of the day.”

A...a cage? What? WHAT?! “I’m sorry, Sir! I’m sorry, please don’t—”

“That’s up to you,” Yoongi replies, totally uncaring. I shut my mouth then—a cage. A cage?! Holy shit he is way more into this bondage shit than I thought he was.

Like...WAY more into it. We stop briefly outside of a black door, and then I’m being dragged into a room with what feels like a concrete floor and thrown onto a rug. Is this a sex room? A punishment room? There’s a name for those, I think, but the word escapes me. The lights flick on.

Shiiiiiiit.

My attention is pulled in a million different directions at once. The room is painted dark purple, save for one wall which is made up of exposed brick. The windows are all covered by thick black curtains, but I’m just stalling here, the walls and windows aren’t the interesting part at all. It’s the decor.

Against the brick wall is a huge bed with different hooks and rings; the bottom is definitely a cage, and the four posters have what looks like stocks—stocks!!!—as well as dark violet curtains. A long panel of wood inlaid with hooks holds whips and paddles, ane next to that is a closet with who knows what in it. I look behind me, surprised by basically everything—a giant, wooden X bolted to the wall, some kind of bizarre looking chair, an armoire of some sort that I doubt holds any clothes, and a glass cabinet full of toys and collars and things I don’t recognize.

Holy shit, this is a fucking dungeon. My gaze drifts toward the ceiling, where there are bars hanging from chains, dangling hoops and hooks and oh, god, there’s another cage from floor to ceiling with curtains tied back to the wall, a black leather couch and so many other little bits of furniture that I’m overwhelmed.

Ah. The floor is concrete.

I can tell, now, that this isn’t just a fun thing that Yoongi does sometimes; it’s serious. It’s a lifestyle. I gulp. I had no idea what I was asking for, did I? 

“Look at me,” Yoongi commands, and I do. I’m sure I’m wide-eyed and terrified, but he doesn’t falter at all. “Are you okay?”

Am I? My eyes dart around the dungeon again, and then I settle on looking at Yoongi. Cold, hard, no trace of emotions.

I’m scared, but not in a way that feels bad or wrong. I’m shaking, but I’m not seriously hurt in any way. I scan myself from my toes to my chest, feel my hair as it falls over my shoulder, then take a deep breath.

“Yes, Sir. I’m okay.”

“Is there anything you need me to do?”

“...Can you, uh. Wait. Can we talk?”

“Of course. What’s on your mind, baby girl?”

I steel myself. “Are you like...into this all the time? Is this a 24/7 thing for you?”

“Yes.”

Okay. I wish I’d known that ten minutes ago, but I can understand that either way I was being extremely bratty. I deserve to be punished; I expected Yoongi to punish me.

“Um. No bathroom stuff, okay? And no uh, fisting. Like don’t break my ass.”

“Anything else?”

“I think that’s all for now.” I glance down, now, at the floor. “You can throw me around more if you want.”

“No. You like it too much. This is a punishment.”

“Yes, Sir.”

What will he do? I don’t have any idea, though I have a feeling pain is going to be part of it. I’m stillnnot really a fan of the sensation, even if I like that Yoongi does with me as he pleases. I’ve already done so much I thought I wouldn’t be ready for. Is it because I feel like I can trust him? Or maybe there was just a little submissive hiding inside me all along. Fuck, I don’t know.

And I don’t have time to think about it. Yoongi hoists me up to my feet, dragging me over to some kind of leather bench that looks straightforward enough. I’m supposed to kneel on it, I think, and that thought is confirmed when Yoongi lies me across it and cuffs my knees into place on two pads that rest lower down. My wrists are cuffed next, and then Yoongi takes the vibrator out. No pleasure right now, he’s saying.

Damn. Why couldn’t I just listen to him? Now I’m dripping wet and feeling empty. Denied. It’s way more frustrating that I thought it would be. I want to be filled up again! 

This isn’t about me getting what I want, though. I lay there, bound, and watch Yoongi’s feet pad across the floor to the glass case. I want to see! What is he getting? My impatience flares up again, but I don’t dare make a sound of complaint. I’ll know soon enough. I just wish I could be more excited about it. 

Except no, I brought this on myself.

“Tsk. We’re missing work because of you,” Yoongi says. I mean, I guess?! He doesn’t have to do this, does he? That feels so unfair. “You were so good last night, but I guess you can’t help yourself. You’re a brat through and through.”

Footsteps are coming closer. I watch Yoongi’s feet when they come into my vision, wary. Yoongi stops in front of me.

“Look at me.”

I lift my head. Yoongi’s fingers trace over my lip for a brief second, then he’s fitting some kind of metal ring into my mouth and buckling it in. A gag…that makes sense. If he’s fed up with my backtalk, yeah, a gag makes perfect sense. It hurts a little. My jaw is stretched so wide, and the metal tastes weird. Drool is already filling up my mouth. How embarrassing. Even more embarrassing is Yoongi coming down onto my level and spitting straight into my mouth, and I whimper a little as saliva drips down my chin. It’s so demeaning! I glare at the floor, which only makes Yoongi laugh.

“You don’t like that? Too bad, baby girl.”

His tongue licks over my lips, darting into my mouth to caress my tongue, trace my teeth. Ugh, I’m drooling a lot. It feels so gross and dirty. I whine angrily when Yoongi spits in my mouth again, and he replies with a slap across my face.

“Quiet. You’re in enough trouble.”

Fuck you! Fuck! You! But I fall silent, still glaring at the floor, surprised when Yoongi slaps me again with no warning.

“Wipe that look off your face.”

Fuuuuuck youuuuuuu! Pretending I have a choice is stupid, though, so I try to relax as much as I can with drool sliding down my neck. Disgusting.

I hear the clink of a buckle before I see what Yoongi is doing. A thick leather collar is fastened around my throat with a leash clipped to it, thrown over my shoulder so that it lands on my back. Weird. Why? I’m not going anywhere, strapped in as I am.

“You’ll have to tap on the bench if you need me to stop,” Yoongi drawls, walking away to the wall again. Right. The gag prevents me from speaking much, so I don’t have safewords. I hear some light clattering, then Yoongi coming back toward me. “But you’ll still need to say thank you.”

WHAT. How the hell am I supposed to do that?! I very nearly turn to look at Yoongi, but I halt facing the wall.

“Yaaa, good girl. You’re already learning how to control yourself. Look forward.” I do. “On the count of three.”

On the count of three what?! But Yoongi just counts off, and I hear something whip through the air before I can register it. Something slaps against my back, hard, and the sting makes me cry ouy.

“Thank you, Sir!” I try to yell. It comes out more like “haaank ooooo errrrr!” and that’s so humiliating I’m getting mad all over again being forced to speak.

It lands again, heavy, on my ass, and I try to squirm away, but of course I can’t. It doesn’t take a genius to realize what he’s doing—whipping me—and I’m so close to tears with just two hits that I try to beg Yoongi to stop.

I might as well have keyboard mashed for all the good it would have done me.

“I’ll start over,” Yoongi says, sounding bored. Shit! I forgot to say thank you!

There’s no rhythm to it, just the tails of the whip searing across my back, down the curve of my ass, and across my thighs at random intervals. The sensation is a lot different than being slapped—it burns, good fucking christ it burns, but it’s softer in a way. I yell out every time it hits me, feeling like it’s cutting deep, but thanking Yoongi every time, hoping the last one will be the end of it.

Spoiler! That’s not the end of it! The hits speed up, and I yank on my bondage, but I can take it. I don’t want to, but I can. Yoongi is breathing hard behind me, grunting occasionally from the force of his whipping, but I don’t tap out. I don’t want to! The strangest thing is happening, something I can’t quite explain—like a sense of calm washing over me, leaving me not quite there. It hurts. I’m crying and drooling, laying across this bench of pain, but I feel so connected to Yoongi through these hits that I’m moaning, too. Thanking him with less and less coherence, but meaning it just a little more every time.

“Do you want me to stop?” Yoongi asks in between more strikes of the whip. I shake my head, then whimper out ‘hhhooooo errrrrrr’ in the best imitation of ‘no Sir’ that I can manage. “There might just be a masochist in you, yet,” Yoongi growls it, and he sounds so excited I’ll take a thousand more lashes just to hear him sound like that again.

It’s funny how time slows down. I’m lost in the fire that blooms across my back, the sound of leather hitting skin, Yoongi’s deep breaths, and most of all, how disconnected I feel. Like I’m here, but not. Like everything I want is tied to what Yoongi wants, and I’ll give it to him no matter how much it takes out of me. My head droops. My forehead is on the bench, and I’m thanking Yoongi over and over whether he’s hitting me or not. I feel amazing. I feel like I’ve been plunged into a place where nothing matters except for him.

The whip clatters to the floor, and Yoongi is on me in an instant—praising me, kissing my back, stroking every part of me while I shiver and cry. The bench is rocking...that’s weird. I pant against the leather, wondering why I’m whining so loud, wondering why Yoongi’s hips are pounding hard against my ass. Something feels weird—like I’m split open, feeling something I’ve definitely never felt before that feels so good, so mind-numbing that I clench my fists and try to slam back into Yoongi’s thrusts for more.

It’s not my cunt he’s fucking, I realize in a daze. I thought...I thought it would hurt more. I thought I wouldn’t like it—that I would hate it. Yoongi is fucking my ass so hard I’m barely able to take a breath, and I’m melting underneath him, begging him—with no coherence whatsoever—for more, harder, please fuck me, Sir!

I had entirely forgotten about the leash. I didn’t have any idea what it was for, but I feel it digging into my throat so suddenly, so tightly, that I whine. Then gurgle, confused. I can’t breathe! Yoongi, I can’t breathe!

Why don’t I feel more bothered by this fact? The leash pulls even more taut, forcing my back to curl and cutting off my breath. Yoongi’s teeth are cutting into me, layering deep, throbbing pain over the leftover burn from the whip. I love too much, he said in Tahoe. Apparently I love it, too, even as my chest tightens and my vision swims. I should be more afraid of this, I should be tapping out! But I don’t. I’m smiling; I can feel it in my cheeks, and I don’t know why. Laughs bubble up from my chest and the sound of it mixes with Yoongi’s voice urging me on and on. Crying and laughing at the same time, like I’ve totally lost my mind, I hear Yoongi demand that I come, so far away I almost don’t catch it.

I think I do, but it’s so hard to tell when everything is a chaotic tempest. My whole body goes rigid, I’m choking, I’m choking, everything is spinning and coming apart at the seams, I can’t stand it Yoongi please stop, stop, no more I’ll do anything—! Please, please, please!

The world fades in and out. Everything is sensation, and I’m fully broken; fully his. I don’t even care if he picks up the pieces. I just want to exist like this forever, at his mercy, at his whim.

Something is rustling. The tightness on my wrists vanishes, then my legs are free. Vaguely, I can hear Yoongi speaking, but I have no idea what he’s saying, even though I can sense that he’s so close. We’re moving...his arms are around me. I’m surrounded by warmth, and softness, and him. It’s calm.

I don’t know how long it takes for the world to come back to me. We’re lying down on the bed. I’m cradled against Yoongi’s chest. He’s breathing deeply, whispering praise in my ear, and I can’t open my eyes. I can’t move. He’s massaging my wrists, my back is still on fire, and he’s so warm and smells so good, he’s so solid, he’s fucking perfection.

My cheeks hurt, I’m still smiling.

I love him, I think. I’m so fucking in love, so wrapped around his finger. This is where I belong, isn’t it? Trembling and spent, held and kissed, trying to open my eyes so I can just see Yoongi’s face.

When my lashes finally flutter open, Yoongi is smiling, too. The world is still in slow motion, but I reach for his face, just to touch something solid.

“Thank you, Sir.”

Chapter Text

Lying around trying to come back to my senses wasn’t how I saw my morning going. Not with a pile of work waiting for me at the office, not to mention meetings, meetings, and more meetings. There are so many to have, so many to be scheduled, and a very real shortage of time to get it all done. The saying that most meetings could have been emails is so rarely true when I’m dealing with the highest executive in the company—he has to be in on everything.

On top of that, he has to work with Namjoon to find a new PR firm, and that means interviews to schedule. The gala is fast approaching, right after that will be the Christmas party, and then we’re off for two weeks for the holidays. The new year is coming too damn fast. I feel like I’m going to slip up any day now.

That’s not as scary as it was before. Not now that Yoongi and I know each other—and, well, obviously not now that we’re in a relationship. I have no doubts that he’ll be as harsh as ever if I blatantly fuck something up, but in a weird way, I sort of like that about him. Isn’t that part of what got me so curious in the first place?

Yeah, I was kind of silly to not realize from the onset that I am absolutely, definitely into being pushed around. Maybe that’s why my previous hookups were never very interesting, and why I was never excited about going all the way? An interesting thought to ponder, but there’s no sort of concrete evidence to prove the theory.

“Hey,” Yoongi says, pulling me out of my thoughts. I look away from my tablet, where I’m sorting through emails, like always. “Book us a flight to LA.”

And we have to go to LA, now. Yeesh. I hope that doesn’t wind up taking us away from our normal tasks more than it already has to. Frazzled, I pull up Kayaking. “When?”

“Next weekend,” Yoongi replies. So sudden! I should have been planning for this a month ago! Argh! “We’ll fly on Friday night and come back on Monday morning.”

“Wish we could do business during the business week,” I grumble. What’s in LA, again? Uhh. I think there’s a PR firm down there Yoongi is interested in. It sounds familiar, anyway. I scan my notes to try to find mention of it.  “Where do you want to stay?”

“Don’t worry about it.”

That’s odd. Isn’t it kind of my job to worry about it? “Okay. Should I rent a car?”

“No.”

“Just plane tickets?”

“Just plane tickets.”

“Easiest task you’ve ever given me,” I mutter. Yoongi laughs and squeezes my thigh, but I bat his hand away. I’m busy, here. “Just get a private jet and then I won’t have to even do this.”

“Do you know how much a jet costs?”

“I dunno, a billion dollars?”

“You think I have a billion dollars?” Yoongi asks, sounding amused. I shrug. I’m still putting in my information for plane tickets; I have to dig out my wallet and grab the corporate card, and it’s hard to line up the card with my uPad’s camera with the car moving.

“People can’t conceptualize very large numbers. A billion dollars is meaningless to someone like me. It’s just a bunch of zeroes.”

“How much money do you think I have, then?”

I shift. That’s an uncomfortable question. “I dunno. A lot.”

“Does it bother you?”

I shrug again. Okay, number input! Paying nine hundred dollars is a little ridiculous for a 45 minute flight, but I’m not going to complain considering that means comfort and all the booze I can ask for.

Now I can pay full attention to the conversation. “I dunno. I’m guessing you have enough money that you can give up half of it and not miss it. Maybe you should pay everyone more.”

Money, the most sensitive of topics. I look out the window, trying to stay neutral. I know Yoongi is rich, but I didn’t expect him to straight up flaunt it. Not in front of someone like me, who is technically below the poverty line; my salary might be a lot in Nowhere, Oklahoma, but in San Francisco I’m poor enough to qualify for low-income housing.

I guess he’s always kinda flaunting it, though. He’s well dressed and drives a fancy car. His penthouse takes up the entire top floor of one of the most expensive housing projects in the city.

“Okay, so I give everyone a twenty percent raise out of my personal salary. Then what?”

Twenty percent, ha. I do some quick math; I would still be considered low-income. “Make it a seventy percent increase. Then spend three days a week volunteering at a soup kitchen that you built with a charity foundation, fund a school for low income families with free lunch, and I dunno, start a no-kill animal shelter. Then you have what, more money left over than I’d ever see in ten lifetimes?”

“So it bothers you.”

The conversation is still light, neither of us sounding angry per se, but there’s something underlying it that I can’t name. “Hoarding wealth is kinda shitty in general I guess? Like, eat the rich, down with the bourgeoisie, etcetera. The mood towards rich people has changed in the past few years, you’d have to live under a rock to not know that.” I pause, then. How did we get into this conversation? “It only sort of bothers me.”

“Only sort of?”

“Well, how should I know what it’s like? People love to say they’d solve hunger and donate all their money to charity, but who actually does when the time comes?”

“No one,” Yoongi answers. I look at him, trying so hard to keep my expression neutral. Who knows if I’ve offended him or not. He doesn’t seem mad yet, though.. “What would you do if you had, hypothetically, two billion dollars?”

I make a noise that’s somewhere between choking and laughing. Two billion? Billion. Is that really a hypothetical question? Shit, what if it’s not?

“I would brag about it to my girlfriend, I guess,” I say carefully, trying to gauge his reaction. He smiles wryly.

“I’m not bragging. I’m just being honest.” Fuck you, two billion dollars?! FUCK. “Money is the thing every couple falls apart over.”

In the opposite direction, usually! I gape at him, and the thought occurs to me that there’s some ulterior motive to this conversation. Rich guy, poor girl. Am I supposed to be telling him I don’t care about it? That I’m better than wanting him for his money?

Beyond the idea of grilling me to find out if I’m a gold digger being offensive, I’m a little bewildered over the idea that anyone would try to honestly claim they don’t care about money.

“What are you doing right now, really? Are you testing me?” I ask, still keeping my tone neutral as possible.

“Not entirely.”

“Wow. Did you think I would cream myself and beg for a new car or something?”

“Don’t put words in my mouth. It matters, and you know it.”

Hrrghhh. It does. I know it does, and it pisses me off so much. “What am I supposed to say? Everyone wants to be taken care of, and I’m not any different. If you buy me a Bindley—”

Bentley,” Yoongi corrects, looking pained.

“Whatever. What do you think I’m going to do?”

“Yell at me about how much you don’t want it, then take it anyway?”

Something about that irks me, but not in the way it should. I’m not offended, more just sad. Because that’s something he expects, isn’t it? Someone has taught him to expect that. It makes me feel anger finally boil under the surface. “You’re half right. Yoongi! We live in San Francisco! Why are we driving!!!”

“I like my car. Am I not allowed to like my car?”

“What’s wrong with public transit?”

“Just because I drive my car doesn’t mean I’m trying to gloat to the whole city that I have a Bentley.”

“Not even a little bit?”

“I have social anxiety, baby. I can’t do public transit; there are too many bodies.”

…Oh, yeah. Thats. That’s true. I flush a little, because maybe assuming that Yoongi drives around just to make people look at his car is a little unfair.

“If I wanted to show off, I’d drive a twelve million dollar Bugatti,” Yoongi adds. I Boogle it really quick. Twelve million! TWELVE MILLION!

“I’m sorry, I just—”

“I’m not mad. Relax, baby girl.”

My breath shudders, a strange feeling going through me. Yes. Yes, call me that all the time.

“You’re putting me in an unfair position,” I mumble, feeling hot in the face.

“How so?”

“Because.” I try to work through my thoughts as quickly as I need to speak. “If I don’t deny that I care about money, if I don’t try to pretend it doesn’t matter at all, doesn’t that just make me look like a gold-digger? But I do care. It’s not a deciding factor, but doesn’t everyone naturally want to be with someone that can provide for them?”

Hopefully that wasn’t entirely the wrong thing to say. I really just don’t know how to broach the topic of money with Yoongi, even knowing that we’d have to do it eventually in one way or another. Someday, he might ask me to move in, or buy me a crazy expensive gift, or try to whisk me away on luxury vacations.

“Huh,” is all Yoongi says, and it takes him way too long to say it.

“What?”

“You’re the first person who’s said that.”

“Which bit?”

“That you care.”

Does he test girls like this on the regular? What kind of weird ass mindgame is that? “Who doesn’t?”

“No one does, if my dating experience is anything to go by. No one but you,” Yoongi looks are me from the corner of his eye. We’re just about to turn into the garage, but I’m not ready to end the conversation. “Don’t look at me like that, it always comes up when I mention I’m a CEO.”

“So you don’t normally ambush poor girls in your car?”

“Not usually. I guess you’re special.”

Belatedly, I remember that Yoongi grew up without money, and I feel kind of guilty. “I’m just trying to pretend that money isn’t real, if I’m honest. I don’t know how to address it or handle it. But then I think, oh, what if he buys me something expensive? How am I supposed to react? And how am I supposed to feel knowing I can never be your equal?”

“What?” Yoongi looks around at that, like I’ve said something crazy. “That’s bullshit. You’re absolutely equal to me.”

“I’m not. I’m your assistant. I’m your sub. By San Francisco standards, I’m poor. It doesn’t feel like I’m equal to you.”

“You think I’m looking down on you because you’re subbing for me?”

“No! I don’t know how to explain it, it’s like—I know we have equal power, but I’m still acting out subservience to you, personally and professionally.”

Finally, we descend into the garage. Yoongi parks, but doesn’t move to get out.

“So what would make you feel more equal to me?” he asks, very seriously. I swallow.

“That’s the thing—I don’t think this is a you problem. I just have to figure out my place, here. I can’t make another 3 Point and become a hot, rich CEO, so I’ll just…have to figure out what I even want. I’ve haven’t even been out of school for six months, Yoongi.”

“Are you okay?”

“Huh?”

“Look at me, baby girl.”

When did I look away? I lift my eyes, frowning. I’m not not okay, but it was a stressful conversation. Yoongi, however, looks really concerned; he brushes my hair out of my eyes, pets me, like he’s soothing me. Maybe I am a little upset; there’s that talk of having no dreams again. It’s hard to even mention it to someone who had a dream that became an unparalleled success. “If you call me that I’m going to want you to do things to me.”

I’m changing the subject, or trying to. I hope Yoongi doesn’t mind that I don’t want to talk about it. I really need to sort out my thoughts. They weren’t even concrete until I said them.

“In my Bindley?” Yoongi smirks.

“Pfft—shut up, oh my god!”

“Seriously though, I don’t want you to think you’re beneath me. It’s not like that at all.”

“I know! I know. It’s so new to me though, and I think being your assistant and your sub is like, meshing together in a good way but at the same time it makes me feel like I’m here existing for you, and not myself? Not all the time, just…this conversation, when I have so little compared to you…”

Yoongi looks pained. “We can call it off. You don’t have to be my sub. You can just be my girlfriend.”

“Would you still be happy that way?” It has to be asked. “Because I wouldn’t. I would definitely feel like we lost something.”

“But if it’s making you feel this way—”

“Feelings are hard, Yoongi. That doesn’t mean we should quit.”

Yoongi nods, wordless, but clearly thinking something over. I wait, but he doesn’t say anything.

“Are you mad at me?” I ask, tentatively, when I’ve realized he definitely isn’t going to talk.

“No, not at all. I guess I didn’t really expect you to be so open about it. You’re so different than most people I’ve known.”

“I’m not, really. I’m just honest.”

“You got me there. Everyone else is really honest about their feelings all the time.”

Oof, the sarcasm! It wounds me.

“Ha. Okay, okay. I’m not like other girls, Sir.”

“You’re okay?” I nod. I’m okay, even if I don’t feel great. It’s not on Yoongi. He’s right, we needed to have this conversation, even if he went about it in a weird way.

“I’m fine. Money is just stressful.”

“Believe it or not, that doesn’t change once you’re at the top.”

“Mo’ money, mo’ problems.”

“Like you wouldn’t believe.” Yoongi pauses, then, looking away. “And you don’t hate me for not giving it all away?”

“No. No, I don’t hate you at all, Yoongi. I should have spoken more carefully. I’m sorry.”

We share a brief kiss, then it’s up to the office to begin our very late work day. Despite the uncomfortable feelings I had, I do feel okay—like we untangled something a little bit, and started to figure out how to coexist with our different lives and means. That can’t be a bad thing, right? One day, our separate futures might merge, and when that day comes, we’ll have to be prepared for the good and the bad of his absurd wealth.

Like time. I think on that for a minute, in the elevator. Yoongi really has no time. Thinking back on the dinner with Lucie, I wonder again if he’s looking into stepping down from 3 Point before he’s too old, too tired to enjoy his youth. He’s nearing 30, after all, a bachelor until we met with no children.

Is he really lonely? Yaaaa, I hate thinking about that. I take his hand, leaning my head on his shoulder. Don’t be lonely, Yoongi; I’ll stay by your side, if you want me to.

The elevator doors open a few seconds later, and I lock eyes with Hoseok, who’s taking a stack of letters and mailers from the mail guy. 

Shit.

I’m wearing Yoongi’s clothes.

Double shit.

If Hoseok has any reaction to this sudden sight, I don’t pick up on it. Hoseok looks down to sign the little scanner thing, then holds the door for Yoongi and I to come into the office. My first reaction is to yank my hand away from Yoongi’s, but there’s no way that will go over well with Yoongi. I just have to grin and bear it.

“Hey, Hobi!” I greet, smiling as best I can. Hoseok beams right back, but it’s subdued. Obviously subdued.

“Afternoon, you two! You’re in pretty late,” Hoseok teases, and I flush bright fucking red and avert my eyes. It is after lunch, but I didn’t expect Hoseok to just call it out in such a sing-songy voice.

Yoongi grunts and flips Hoseok the bird, then drags me off to our secluded corner at the back of the office. So it’s still awkward between those two, I think. Maybe Yoongi is always like that with Hoseok? I’m not sure.

At my desk, Yoongi kisses me again with a promise to get out of work as soon as he can, and then I’m left to deal with the four missed hours from the morning. Ah yeah, Yoongi does usually stay until at least 9 or 10, and with having missed the morning, he’ll probably stay even later today. I frown. I’ll have to make sure he gets some solid meals in, at the very least. Maybe I can curl up on his couch and nap off the remainder of our strenuous morning.

All in all, my work day isn’t so bad. There are a lot of emails but I’m so used to managing Yoongi’s inbox that it only takes me half an hour or so to route the important ones. Answering the rest takes a lot longer; I have so many questions to answer about MOBA, but thankfully Hoseok is the one who coordinated it before I was hired and is more than happy to answer any questions.

After an hour, I’m in need of a bathroom break, so I head off to relieve myself, but. I’m still feeling kind of weird from being called baby girl in the car, thinking about this morning, and all that. Would it be terrible to get a little revenge? The bathroom isn’t the sexiest locale, but if I sit on the ledge behind the toilet I can mostly hide it, probably? And like, it’s not as if Yoongi would expect me to sext him from my desk or something.

Namjoon would also have some choice things to say about that, so bathroom it is. It’s a little awkward climbing up onto the ledge, but I’m able to sit just fine. Perfect!

…How do you sext, again?

I think about that for probably too long. Should I just send a pic with no words? Tell him I want to suck his big juicy dick or something? Ew, that sounds really gross. Not sexy at all. I settle on a short message, and boy if it isn’t the worst start for a sexy conversation that I’ve ever seen. I swear, I fucking tried.

To Yoongi💖

hey

 

Yoongi💖

Yes?

 

I’m sweating. What do I say?! I am not prepared for this at all! This is going to go horribly, I can tell.

To Yoongi💖

your clothes are kinda big on me, dont u think?

 

Yoongi💖

It’s cute. Why are you texting me?

 

Okay, now or never. If I can’t come up with words to seduce him, then I can use my body. Bodies do all the work on their own, so I won’t have to stress about that.

It’s a big shirt with a wide neckline, so I just nudge it forward; the neckline hangs down, and I take a quick picture of my cleavage. It’s not particularly inspiring, just a pair of tits in a bra. I gulp. This is really hard! With a glance around my stall—like someone would be standing there waiting to scold me—I press Send.

H-hopefully he likes it.

To Yoongi💖

see? too big

 

Yoongi

It does look a little big. Maybe you’d be better off without it.

 

Success! Tch, of course it was. Show a straight man a pair of tits and he loses all sensibility. I take the shirt off entirely, then unclasp my bra and let it hang off, still mostly covered though. Another pic, another text.

To Yoongi💖

way too big

oops how did that come undone

 

Yoongi💖

You little tease.

 

To Yoongi💖

send me one back

then you can see something better

 

It doesn’t take long for a picture to come through. Who knew I’d ever be licking my lips over a dick pic? Not me! But here I am, coaxed by a stupid dick pic into rubbing myself through my panties, imagining all sorts of dirty things. God, he feels so good inside me. Can he come to the bathroom, or should I go to his office?

I’m not picky which one. I am a little annoyed texting one-handed, though.

To Yoongi💖

bad 

ur working sir

why would you have your dick out

 

Yoongi💖

A little brat asked me to.

 

To Yoongi💖

shame on you

this is an office building

 

I’m terrible at this. All those sexy thoughts stay sexy thoughts. I have no idea how to translate them into words.

Yoongi💖

Send me more.

 

A text comes through from Hoseok a second later. Shit!

Hobi☀️

hey friend, where are you? i messaged you on slackr

 

To Hobi☀️

uhhh hang on, be right there

 

Then another notification pops up from Yoongi.

Yoongi💖

Hurry up.

 

Okay! Geez! I take off my bra entirely, leaning back to the wall and using my arms to push my breasts together. I’ll try for a sexy pic this time—my hand on my neck, licking my lips. Very obvious suggestions, here.

Send!!

I wait. And wait.

Hobi☀️

umm i think you sent this to the wrong number

 

I’m dead. Holy shit. Fuck!!! NOOOOO!!!!

To Hobi☀️

ohb ymg gkd IM SO SORRY 

HOBI KM SORRU

SJDIIWKW

 

Hobi☀️

😥

 

To Hobi☀️

IM SORRY

 

Nothing.

FUCK.

Yoongi💖

I’m waiting, brat.

 

EGEIXNSKANDNC.

God. Fuck. God dammit. It’s time to play stealth. I sneak from the front lobby to a side-door, literally running down the accounting side of the office to avoid the front desk. I would rather die than go by the front desk right now. I can never look at Hoseok again! I have to get out of here unscathed. I have to book tickets to Mexico, where I can live out the rest of my days anonymously.

My phone is vibrating again but I send Yoongi a message over Slackr that simply reads “LATER.”

My face is beet red. I might be tearing up a little bit. I can never, ever look Hoseok in the eye again. Fuck! Why did I have to be so stupid?! I just wanted a little sexy time with Yoongi, but I should have known better than to do this at the office!

Dreading what it might say, I open Slackr to see what Hoseok wanted from me.

☀️Hobi Hobi☀️

you have a package, friend!

 

Forget the package. It will collect dust forever, because yeah, I’m still never going to the front desk again.

“Hey.”

I nearly yell as I whirl around to face Hoseok. He comes tentatively closer, holding the package in question, looking very strained. Oh honey, I fucking feel that.

“Um. I didn’t—Hobi, I—” I say. Brilliant. I am just having the best time right now. “I’m sorry. I really am.”

“It’s okay, friend, really,” Hoseok mumbles. I can’t help but notice that he won’t look at me directly, but that’s probably to be expected. I mean, he just saw—well, yeah. “Let’s not talk about it, okay?”

“Yeah! Yeah, that’s fine! It never happened, aha—”

“Yup! I don’t even know what you’re talking about!” Hoseok insists, but we still gaze at each other like two kids first discovering that boys and girls have different parts. Oh no, sexual tension. Go away! You’re not welcome.

“So…” I start, but I don’t know what to say. Hoseok seems frozen, his eyes trailing down to the neckline of my shirt and his lips slightly parted. I blush, then clear my throat. “Package, Hobi.”

“Oh! Right,” Hoseok laughs awkwardly and puts the box on my desk. I look at it to distract myself. There’s no return address or any indication of where it came from other than the post office stamp. A surprise? I eye Yoongi’s door suspiciously.

“Do you have a second to talk about the MOBA itinerary?” Hoseok asks. I look back at him, and he doesn’t look mad at all. He’s red. And his eyes are definitely dark. With lust. Lust for me and my tits. I swallow, because I was already horny, and I still have some very confused feelings about Hoseok. I remember—with extreme embarrassment—how good it felt to kiss him, and I’m pretty sure he’s thinking the same thing.

No, no, I will never pursue that. I can’t help it if he’s hot as hell and a good kisser, or if I think about it, but I won’t do anything. It’s just sexual, nothing more.

“Yeah, sure. What’s up?”

Back to the box. Less eye contact.

It does help that the box is extremely, thoroughly taped. It makes getting it open more of a task. I cut the layers away with scissors, frowning at the weird smell that starts coming from the box once the tape falls away. It’s sweet, but not in a good way. Maybe a food gift that went rotten in transit?

“What the hell is that smell?”

“I dunno,” I shrug, taking off the last layer of tape, which unmasks the scent and punches me straight in the gut. Like rotting meat and garbage left out in the summer sun, the smell permeates my small desk area so quickly I drop the box and launch myself away from my desk to vomit in the trash can.

“Holy shit!” Hoseok yells, also scrambling away from my desk. He chokes, gagging, and then Yoongi’s office door is opening and he’s asking what the hell is going on.

I don’t answer, because the smell is literally forcing every bit of my stomach’s contents into my trash can.

“Who the fuck sent this?” Yoongi demands, and he sounds like he’s on the verge of being ill as well. “Fuck this. I’m calling the police. Hobi, get that out of here!”

Other voices are approaching—Namjoon, who calls out to Hoseok to ask if everything is okay. Jin panicking, Jimin calling out for me. I lose track of it all, choking and crying by the trash, trying to get what I just saw out of my head.

Someone rushes over and lifts me up, pulling me away from my desk. Who…? Ugh…I heave again, but there's nothing left but bile to come out.

“You’re okay,” Jimin’s voice says, close to my ear. “You’re okay, you’re okay…”

Chapter Text

“And there was no note? No return address?”

“Nothing.”

“And it was definitely for her? Not someone else?”

“The label has her name on it.”

“Who in the hell would do this?”

“I don’t know.”

“Have you called the police yet, Yoongi?”

“No, not yet. I want to wait until she calms down. Police getting in her face would just overwhelm her.”

“Good idea. Let me go call building management, they’ll be able to do something about the smell, I hope.”

“Yeah. Hey, open the balcony doors, would you? And spray some more Febreze.”

“I’ll do it.”

“Thanks, Jimin. Make sure you cover your nose.”

I’m in Yoongi’s office, all the windows open and a cold breeze making me shiver. Hoseok, Jimin, and Namjoon are all talking with Yoongi, quietly, at his desk. I wish they would just leave already. The noise is distracting me from my current attempts to think about nothing at all. Even curled up in every blanket that Hoseok could find in the office, I’m shivering.

“Yoongi, you should come talk to management with me,” Namjoon says quietly. No…don’t take Yoongi away from me, I think, but it’s no use. My voice doesn’t work. I can only stare out the window at the gray sky of San Francisco, numb.

Footsteps shuffle around. Someone comes closer to me, and it’s not Yoongi; he left with Namjoon. I turn to face Hoseok, who kneels down next to the couch.

“It’s probably going to rain,” he says. I nod. “Do you have an umbrella? You can borrow mine if you need to, friend.”

“Oh…yeah. Thanks, Hobi.”

“No problem. Mickey likes to lick rain off my pants. My dog, you know? He’s really little, like Holly.”

“You have a dog?”

“Yup! I put him upstairs for the party because he gets stressed from lots of noise. Do you want to see pictures?”

Hoseok, you’re an angel. This is what I need—pictures of him and his cute little pup, not people speaking in tense voices about who the fuck mails a mutilated rat to someone, or who could have a grudge and hate me this much. I scoot over to give Hoseok room on the couch, then lean on him while he scrolls through picture after picture, from jogging around Lake Merritt to sitting outside with Stirbucks under a bright, sunshiny sky.

“I’ve always wanted to have a cat, but it’s too expensive here,” I say, not really thinking anymore, just watching the images scroll by with my head on Hoseok’s shoulder. “How did you wind up with a mansion in Paradise Park?”

“Ohh, let me see—I have pictures,” Hoseok says brightly. He pulls up one of a couple standing outside the house, which is clearly only half-finished. “My grandparents! They built it themselves, with some help. I guess back then you couldn’t just find someone on the internet. Anyway, they left it to me when they passed away. It wasn’t in great condition—” Hoseok flips to a more decrepit looking house, with him and Yoongi and Namjoon standing outside of it covered in green paint. “So we fixed it up. Everyone lived here for a while because it’s close to the city and I had the room. Yoongi was the first to move into his own place, down in San Mateo.”

Something about the way he says it gives me pause, but I’m so fucking tired I don’t bother analyzing it.

The pictures keep going by, but Hoseok stops on one of him and Yoongi sitting on a couch, holding beer and eating pizza. They both look so young I even manage to smile. Bright eyed and laughing together, one of Hoseok’s arms slung around Yoongi’s shoulders.

“Did you miss him when he moved out?” I ask, curious. If he’s had feelings for Yoongi for that long…

“I still miss him. All of the guys being there, really. It’s a big place. I liked it better when it was lively.”

Hm. Yeah, I can see that. Hoseok, ever the best friend, roaming around a big house that used to hold a lot more life.

It’s like nothing happened between us earlier; I wrap my arms around his waist and snuggle against him, needing contact, needing something solid and warm to make me feel safe. Someone out there, someone in this city, obviously hates my guts. Why? What did I do to anyone? I can’t come up with an answer, but tears well up in my eyes and finally—after sitting in Yoongi’s office, listening to everyone speculate—I let myself cry.

“Hey, hey—it’s okay,” Hoseok says softly. I shake my head and hide my face in his chest, trying not to cry too noisily, but bawling before I can even try to get myself under control. It’s so fucked up, so cruel. Whoever did it knows me to some degree, and I’m terrified of the idea that I have a stalker, or worse, someone that just plain wants me dead. What if it was a warning? And over what?! This is insane! “Shh, I’ve got you. You’re safe, okay? You’re safe.”

I’m not! Can’t Hoseok see that?! But I nod, because I want to believe it so bad. Maybe it’s a fluke. Maybe someone just chose names at random, or has a grudge against Yoongi, and I just happened to get caught in the crossfire. Maybe it’s nothing. I want to believe that, I really do! It’s the only thing that makes sense.

“Why don’t I take you home? Staying here isn’t going to help anything.”

“I want to g-go home,” I agree, looking up at Hoseok hopefully. “Please? Can we go?”

“Alright, then let’s get you out of here,” Hoseok says. He stands, gently lifting me up from the couch and holding me so I can walk. We don’t even make it to the door before Yoongi is standing there, and I freeze.

“Where are you going?” Yoongi directs the question at me.

“She needs to go home, Yoongi. I was going to take her.”

An internal battle rages behind Yoongi’s eyes. “Wait until the police come. They’ll need a statement—”

“Hey, forget that! Look at her, man. She needs to go home.”

“Yoongi, I want to go home,” I say as firmly as I can, but my voice breaks and then I’m sobbing all over again. It doesn’t take long for two sets of arms to be around me, and I stand between them, clinging to them both, just ready for this fucked up situation to be over with.

“Yoongi,” Hoseok says, warning in his tone.

“Okay, okay. Let’s go home, baby girl. I’ll take you.”

Just like in the car, I feel a sense of calm wash over me. Am I being fucking conditioned or something? But I don’t care—if that will make me feel better, I definitely don’t care.

Hoseok lets me go without protest, and Yoongi waves off Namjoon, intent in getting me to his car. Once I’m buckled in, I feel like I can breathe again. The scent of decaying matter is still ripe in my nose, but I know it’s not really there. Doesn’t help my nausea much though, knowing that. I put my hand on Yoongi’s thigh, taking in the feeling of it—warm and solid, the texture of denim that covers him. I focus on it so much that I can’t have room for anything else, and not until we’re heading toward his apartment do either of us speak.

“I want to go home, Yoongi. To my apartment.”

“No, you’ll be safer with me.”

Safer? I look toward Yoongi, only noticing then that he’s tense as a bowstring, his knuckles white on the steering wheel and his jaw clenched. Does he think something else is going to happen?

“Yoongi, no. Take me home.”

“I am taking you home.”

Stress coils in my gut, and I unconsciously squeeze his thigh. “Please, I want to go to my apartment. Yoongi, please. Stop the car. Stop! Stop!”

“Whoa! Hey, calm down—” Yoongi pulls to the side of the road, and my hands fly to my seatbelt. I can’t unbuckle it. I’m trapped. Did I get locked in? Oh, god, I need out of this car. I’m going to suffocate. “Hey, hey it’s okay. Shh, shh—I’ll take you home.”

“Let me out, Yoongi. Now!”

“Breathe, come on. Look at me, baby girl. Look at me.”

“No! I swear to god, if you don’t let me out if this car, I’ll—”

My seatbelt comes off, and Yoongi unlocks the doors. I take in a deep breath, then look at him. He’s so pale—his eyes wild, panicked. 

“You aren’t trapped here, okay? If you really want out, you can go. See? The door is unlocked.”

Right. He couldn’t lock my seatbelt—seatbelts can’t be locked. Only then do I realize how hard I’m shaking, and that’s probably why I couldn’t get the seatbelt off. Dread has settled in the pit of my stomach. Cautious, like he’s afraid I might freak out more, Yoongi lays his hand on my shoulder and gently massages there.

“That’s it. Deep breaths, come on. One, two, three, four…”

Right. Right, I have to breathe. I follow Yoongi’s counting until my heart rate returns to a semblance of normal. I’m exhausted. I want to sleep. I slump into Yoongi’s shoulder, crying all over again.

“Home,” I choke out, sounding pathetic to my own ears. “Home, please. I want to go now.”

Yoongi doesn’t argue. We flip a u-turn back towards Pine, and I watch the sights out the window blur and distort. I’ve never had a full-blown panic attack before, but being that close was scary as hell. My fingers are still shaking, my breaths labored and uneven. Something bad is going to happen, I can feel it. Something awful. There’s a magnetic pull in my body to get up, to move, to walk it off until the fear fades away. Most of all, I want to sleep. Let the day dwindle into nothing, and start over tomorrow like nothing happened.

My apartment is dark when we get there some twenty minutes later. Yoongi helps me up the stairs, helps me with my keys, then helps me get into my bed and under the blankets. Will he stay? Will he go? I hold onto his sleeve, silently pleading for him to stay. I don’t want to be alone. Don’t leave me alone!

As if he knows, Yoongi gets into bed with me. It’s much smaller than his—just a dinky little twin—and we have to curl up around each other to fit comfortably. I don’t even try to fight my tiredness; I’m asleep in minutes, ready to forget the world.

 

 

To Hobi☀️

hey thanks for earlier

im feeling okay now

 

Hobi☀️

good! did you get lots of rest 💤😴

 

To Hobi☀️

yeah

i might go back to bed after dinner

but i slept a lot

 

Hobi☀️

is there anything i can do for you?

 

To Hobi☀️

idk

can you send me a song you like

 

Hobi☀️

link

here you go

there’s more where that came from

 

I put in my earbuds to listen, my eyes landing on the title. Knock Knock by Mick Miller. I listen gratefully, blocking out the sound of Yoongi and Emilia clanging around the kitchen to make dinner. Emilia, ever the doting mother, wanted to stay with me, but I managed to convince her that I need to be alone with Yoongi’s help. 

 

To Hobi☀️

good taste

what are you doing

 

Hobi☀️

working on my mixtape

 

To Hobi☀️

wa

what

really?!

 

Hobi☀️

yeah lololol

do you want to listen

 

To Hobi☀️

YES!!!!!!!

 

Hobi☀️

link

 

I open CloudSound and hit the play button so fast. Blue Side (Outro) by—j-hope??—comes through my earbuds. It’s not what I would have expected, and when I hear his voice, I smile. It’s so comforting. A bit melancholy, which fits with the mood of the day too well, but hearing his voice is just so soothing.

 

To Hobi☀️

this is aMAZING!!!

wtf its so good

wtf

wow

hobi u really are amazing

 

Hobi☀️

🥺

you really mean it?

 

To Hobi☀️

hell yeah i do!!!!!!

is there more?

 

Hobi☀️

not yet

it’s a secret 😱😱

 

To Hobi☀️

ill keep it close then

u better give me a copy whej its ready

 

Hobi☀️

you can have the first one

 

To Hobi☀️

ur the best

tbh

 

Hobi☀️

🥺

stop saying things like that

you’ll confuse me

 

I’m not talking to him like I wouldn’t talk to say, Emilia, but I guess that’s fair enough. Wishful thinking is kind of a bitch, isn’t it?

 

To Hobi☀️

sry

i g2g

 

Hobi☀️

wait

 

I toss down my phone and lay back, staring at the ceiling. From the other room, I can hear Yoongi and Emilia conversing quietly, and from what I can tell it sounds pretty polite. Should I go out and talk to them? Let them know I’m okay?

Am I okay? What if Yoongi was right, and we should have called the police before we did anything? Assuming the police could even do anything, or would even care. They’d probably write it off as a harmless prank and a hysterical woman and not bother looking into it at all. Even I’ve thought that might be what this situation is; why would anyone else think any differently?

If anything else weird happens, I decide, I’ll go with Yoongi’s advice and get authorities involved. I guess. I glance over at my phone, which vibrates a second later with another message from Hoseok lighting up the screen. I don’t want to deal with that, either; I just want to sleep more. Sleep forever, or at least until the thought of getting out of bed doesn’t make me feel anxious. Is this what Yoongi feels all the time, faced with noisy spaces and crowds? 

Yaaa, be careful!” Yoongi’s voice floats down the hall, and I sigh. Bickering again? And over food. Ugh.

I don’t hear Emilia retort, but I decide if nothing else, I need to go break it up for my own sanity. Ignoring my phone entirely, I climb out of bed and shuffle to the kitchen, cautiously poking my head in.

Whatever I thought was happening, that definitely isn’t it. Emilia is sitting in a chair with Yoongi standing in front of her, holding a clean towel to her hand. There’s blood on the cutting board, where Emilia was chopping onions.

“Sorry,” Emilia is muttering. “I’m just so worried.”

“Injuring yourself isn’t going to make you stop worrying,” Yoongi grumbles, but I’m surprised at how gentle he’s being with her. Uhhh, talk about being the master of whiplash. “Do you want to glue it?”

“Glue it?” Emilia repeats, sounding faint.

“Yeah, with superglue. I used to patch myself up with it all the time.”

“Is that…safe?” Emilia asks dubiously. My heart is swelling up, I can’t stand this. This is so wholesome? I don’t know! My boyfriend! My best friend! Getting along!

“I’m alive, aren’t I?”

“But superglue?”

“Couldn’t afford the hospital. Do you want me to glue it or not?”

“We should have some superglue in the drawer by the wall,” I say, deciding now is as good a time as any to make my appearance. I try to look casual getting the glue, like I haven’t been wallowing in bed or talking to Hoseok in a way that apparently came off as flirty. Especially not that I expected them to be fighting each other. “You better be careful, Emilia. Yoongi was a really big tough guy before he smartened up and started a company.”

“What? No, I wasn’t.” Yoongi is still grumbling, and Emilia doesn’t look all that amused. Maybe my humor isn’t that great right now, but who can blame me? “I was the big tough guy.”

“Pfft—” Emilia does laugh then, and I feel marginally better. “You? You’re tiny.”

“Big things come in small packages, my dear lady.”

Okay. I’ll just let them talk, instead. I pass off the glue to Yoongi, then pick up the cutting board and take it to the sink to wash. What a waste of a good onion, I think, feeling irritated for reasons I can’t begin to make heads or tails of. I’m glad they’re talking, really! But I feel all sorts of put out right now. I mean, obviously. It was a shit day, and then Emilia didn’t laugh at my joke, which honestly does not MATTER, but here we are. I throw the bloodied onion down the disposal and run it just to avoid listening to them talk, sulking the whole time.

The disposal jams and the cutting board clatters into the sink. “God damn piece of shit sink!” I snarl, exasperated, to the room at large. I’m probably far angrier than I should be over a sink. I drop down to open the cabinet and start fiddling with the bottom of the disposal to find the reset button, still grumbling about shitty apartments and cheap garbage and landlords.

“Darling…” Emilia starts, tentatively. “Let me fix it. It’s alright. You can go sit down.”

“I’ve got it,” I snap, finding the damned button and pressing it. “I can handle it.”

“I know you can, but you don’t have to right now.”

“I’m fine,” I snap again, at no one in particular, fully aware that I’m not fine and I should sit down, but stubbornly refusing because I’m pissed off at this entire apartment. I flip the switch for the disposal again, and it gurgles pathetically, which just makes me curse more. God damn it all, and god damn this shitty apartment.

“Hey,” Yoongi’s voice is close to my ear, but I drop down to the floor to start messing with it again. I don’t want to be told to sit down! I want to do something useful! I feel for the hex key underneath and start turning it, but it’s being stubborn. Yup, it’s jammed. Okay. I can fix this, it’s fine. “After you do that, can you help me with dinner?”

“Yes,” I say, not really listening, but feeling myself calm a little now that I’m being given a task instead of told to just ~sit down~ and be useless. “What are we making?”

“Gnocchi,” Yoongi answers, and I nod. Sounds easy enough. I like easy, right now; I’m still messing with the key, trying to get the blades to turn. Yoongi kneels down behind me, places his hand on mine, and helps me turn the key until the blades aren’t stuck anymore. “There you go. It was really stuck there, huh?”

“Thanks,” I mutter. I feel childish, now, but I’m still feeling too stubborn to acknowledge it. “I guess I’m still weak from sleep.”

“Probably,” Yoongi agrees softly. He kisses my shoulder, then helps me to my feet. The disposal works now, and I clean the cutting board much more calmly this time. Yoongi brings me a new onion and a clean knife. “Thin slices, please.”

Yup. Thin slices, got it. I feel way better with something to focus on; how thin can one onion be sliced without a mandoline? Time to find out! Emilia joins me at the counter to put together a salad, with Yoongi tending to a tomato sauce on the stove. The kitchen is definitely cramped with three people in it, but I don’t have any complaints. I listen to Yoongi and Emilia chat, and I’m surprised when I hear Yoongi start giving her tips; Emilia is the best cook I know.

If it were any other day, this would all be very heartwarming. There are freshly cooked gnocchi in a big mixing bowl waiting to be dumped into the sauce, Emilia has put together a delicious looking salad, and I’m caramelizing onions while bread bakes in the oven. This is a far cry from the last few times Yoongi and Emilia met, but I just can’t stop thinking about the day. About earlier, and feeling panic seize me every few moments. I’m sure that it doesn’t go unnoticed by either of my companions, but Emilia seems to be following Yoongi’s lead to not mention the panic attack. How much does she know, exactly? Because I have a feeling if she got wind of what happened, there would be a lot more hellfire and brimstone to deal with.

Yoongi and Emilia set the table while I slice bread and slather it with garlic butter and a pinch of black pepper, then we all sit to eat. The gnocchi looks really good, with bright red sauce and melted mozzarella oozing everywhere, but I don’t really feel hungry. I dip bread into the sauce, nibbling a piece off the corner, but it’s all dry in my mouth and hard to swallow.

“I’ll be going to Paris next weekend,” Emilia announces, and I have a feeling she’s just trying to break the silence. She looks super worried, and I guess that makes sense; I’m not eating. That’s usually a bad sign. “For Future Fashion Week. Are you going to be alright by yourself?”

“Yeah, I’ll be fine.” I shrug, trying to nibble more bread; I get a mouthful of buttery, crispy deliciousness, and that makes my appetite perk up. “I was thinking I might make a list of things to fix and take care of that soon.”

“Aren’t you forgetting something?” Yoongi asks. I blink. “We’ll be in LA next weekend.”

“Oh! Right. Yeah, we’ll be in LA. We’re going to be meeting with a PR firm,” I announce. Yoongi gives me a confused look, but I ignore it. “Maybe when I get back, he’ll be kind enough to help me fix the shower.”

“Don’t you have maintenance to handle all that?”

“We called maintenance once, because the roof was leaking.” Emilia points up at the ceiling, looking grim. “They just painted over it.”

“So no, we don’t have maintenance,” I sigh. Yoongi frowns, looking up at the ceiling, where a couple of dots of more-white paint stick out on the slightly-less-white ceiling.

“Have you thought about moving?”

“Dreamed about it,” Emilia sighs, looking out the window. “The location is really good, though.”

“Yeah, we look out the window and there’s the beach!” I sigh too, following Emilia’s gaze. “And then there’s Calia’s—I don’t want to leave the area. Taco Tuesday!” I thump my fists on the table, feeling far better than I did a bit ago; I dig into the gnocchi, and holy hell is this good.

“Taco Tuesday!” Emilia agrees with me, pounding one of her own fists on the table. I think she’s trying to keep me in this train of thought to keep my spirits up, and I appreciate it. “Remember the last Taco Tuesday?”

“Ehehe—yup! That’s when I got the job,” I reminisce a little, smiling fondly at Yoongi, who looks back at me with a small smile. “Hello this is Mr. Min, are you drunk? You’re hired!”

“That’s more or less how it went,” Yoongi agrees with a slight chuckle. His eyes are sparkling. I blush.

“I’m a real charmer when I’m drunk. Emilia can tell you all about it.”

“Oh?” Yoongi asks.

“Good lord, where do I even start with you, darling? Drunk dialing your advisor thinking it was Soyeon?” I groan, burying my face in my hands. “Soyeon!! Baby come over, I’m hornyyyyy!!!” she imitates, and I can’t decide if it’s hilarious or humiliating. Maybe both.

“We agreed to never speak of it again, so it wasn’t a total disaster. I just couldn’t look Holtman in the face for my senior year.”

“Soyeon?” Yoongi looks very interested in this, and I belatedly remember he’s Korean so he knows—he knows Soyeon is a girl.

“Don’t go getting ideas. No threesomes, not ever!”

“Okay anyway!” Emilia clears her throat, and we all start eating at the slight awkwardness that settles on the table. “Do you want me to bring you a souvenir, darling? Anything you want.”

“A baguette!” I say immediately, bouncing in my chair. “Fresh baguette and cheese!”

“You can get that here, love,” Emilia smiles at me, and I pout.

“Not from a real bakery in Paris!”

“I don’t think it would survive the trip,” Yoongi points out. I pout even harder.

“Love finds a way,” I reply stubbornly, but I let the subject drop. We eat, chatting about LA and Paris, and when Yoongi finishes clearing the table, I’m surprised—and delighted—that he offers to stay over. Yes! Yes, yes, yes!

We climb into bed, which is still tiny and uncomfortable, but we’re so close and I feel so safe. The evening really helped center me better, and I wave Yoongi off when he asks me if I want to talk about it.

“I’d rather find out how much action my bed can take before collapsing,” I say, my best attempt to look sexy ruined by a goofy grin.

“Is this the right moment?”

“No, probably not. But that’s what I want right now. Choke me, daddy!”

“Fuck off, no! No, shut up!”

“I’ll have a threesome with you if you let me call you daddy.”

Yoongi shoves me, and I fall off the bed cackling. “Absolutely not! Go to sleep, my dick fell off.”

“But daddyyyy,” I push, crawling back up to nuzzle up against the front of his boxers. Yoongi groans. “I want iiiit.”

“Fuck—stop calling me that, and you can have anything you want.”

I dissolve into giggles, still rubbing my cheek on Yoongi, feeling him harden under me. “You like it. You’re hard.”

“Shut up,” Yoongi hisses. “Ah fuck—ahh—”

“Daddy,” I say again, delighted that Yoongi moans and pushes his hips up. “You do like it, don’t you?”

Yoongi opens his mouth to speak, but a loud banging on the wall makes us both freeze. A second later, we hear Emilia’s voice come through the wall.

“THERE WILL BE NO DDLG IN MY HOUSE! GO TO SLEEP!”

Chapter Text

You would think that it would be difficult for life to go back to normal after the day I had, but there’s not much sense in worrying about things when there’s so much work to be done. It helps—it really does. When I can throw myself into my work, I can forget all the weird feelings and anxiety I was plunged into. 

For the most part, anyway. I check my phone in the morning, still with Yoongi sleeping curled around me. There’s a series of texts from Hoseok, and I have to read them eventually, right? 

 

Hobi☀️

hey come on

dont go

i’m sorry

i’m really sorry, i didn’t mean to make it weird

this is my problem not yours

ahhhh you left didn’t you

i’m trying okay

if you hadn’t told me you basically feel the same way i wouldn’t have said anything just now

ugh no now it sounds like i’m blaming you

i’m not, okay? i’m just so messed up right now you said you feel the same way

i’m sorry

this definitely isn’t the time

i’m sorry, just forget i said anything

good night, friend 

 

Sigh. I don’t remember saying I feel the same way, but I understand what it’s like to look for the answers you want wherever you can find them. I should correct him, and tell him that I don’t feel that way, but I can’t bring myself to do it. 

I like Hoseok. I do. I like him a lot, and I’m definitely attracted to him. The right thing to do is to put a stop to this—lie through my teeth that there’s nothing there, and there never can be, there never will be. 

Like a coward, I don’t. I just lie there, staring at my texts, stupidly forgetting that Yoongi’s chin is on my shoulder. 

“Did you tell him you love him?” 

“Don’t read my texts,” I snap, throwing my phone down. “I did no such thing.” 

“He said—” Yoongi yawns, and I take the opportunity to cut that off right there. 

“He’s mistaken. I told him the same thing I told you.” 

“Oh yeah? You told him he’s the logical choice?” 

God damn my honesty! I sit up, untangling myself from Yoongi to get dressed. I’m not dealing with this! So what if I did tell him that! There’s no way I’m going to fuck up things with Yoongi over this. 

“And what about you?” I snap, my irritation flooding back. “You couldn’t even do me the courtesy of telling me there’s nothing between you. I at least did that much.” 

“Why do you think there’s anything between us?” 

“Oh, come on. I saw you at the party! Letting him dry hump your ass and leaning back on him looking like you’d creamed yourself over it!” 

That sobers Yoongi up immediately. I would feel bad for it if I weren’t so mad about the accusations being thrown at me. 

“Shut up,” Yoongi mutters. “I mean it.” 

“Look me in the eye, then, and tell me there’s nothing there. You made me do it. Be fair.” 

Yoongi stares at me, then down at the bed. My heart sinks. “It’s complicated.” 

“Fine. Go be complicated, then. I’m going to work.” 

I leave him there, god help me. I leave to catch the bus, not checking my phone or anything at all. Complicated my ass! I’m sure it’s not complicated at all! He’s just being difficult. 

When I go into the office, Hoseok is sitting at his desk. He doesn’t greet me when I come in, and I maybe aggressively say “good morning, Hoseok” in my frustration. 

Nothing. 

Alright, fine. Fuck them both. 

I run straight into Namjoon, who looks at me anxiously. “Morning, Joonie. Do you need something?” 

“Uh, yeah, I need to schedule a meeting with Yoongi. Does he have time after lunch?” 

“No meetings after lunch, sorry. He’s too sleepy to pay attention.” I take out my uPad and open up 24/7. “I can schedule one for 10:30 today or 9:30 tomorrow. I don’t know when he’s coming in.” 

“Alright, I’ll take the 10:30. Can you come to my office?” 

I nod jerkily and follow him in. There’s stuff I would rather be doing, but I can’t say no to HR. I stand, though, watching Namjoon sit at his desk with a notebook and pen. Ominous. 

“Please, sit.” 

“Okay,” I agree, dropping down on the couch. “What’s up?” 

“There’s no easy way to ask this, but I have to. There’s been a complaint.” A complaint? What? “What’s going on with you and Yoongi?” 

“Sorry?” I ask, blindsided. With…oh my god. How the hell—? Did Hoseok tell him?! “What do you mean?” 

“Apparently,” Namjoon says, looking over his notes. “Hoseok found you engaged in a sex act at his Halloween party. Now, it wasn’t company-sponsored, so I can’t speak to that, but Yoongi is your boss. Having an intimate relationship with other employees isn’t against company policy, per se,” Namjoon sighs, closing his notebook. “But, Yoongi can’t be your manager if you’re in a relationship with him.” 

I freeze. What? Is this an ultimatum? Am I about to be fired? I clam up, staring at Namjoon in horror. 

“What does that mean? Are you letting me go?” 

“No, I’m not letting you go. You’ll be reporting to me, starting immediately. Your desk will be moved here. If there’s another incident, we’ll take appropriate measures.” 

“But you just said—it was outside of work—” 

“And so it was,” Namjoon says. He looks just as miserable as I feel. “But I would have preferred to find out about this from the two of you, not from Hoseok. I’m not pointing fingers, and I’ll be having a word with Yoongi as well, but I expected better from both of you.” 

It’s totally not appropriate to cry, and somehow I manage to hold it in, feeling utterly betrayed. Is this retribution? Hoseok couldn’t have really told Namjoon, after he said he wouldn’t? 

But did he say that? I go back over that night and realize he didn’t. I just inferred it. 

I curl in on myself when I realize Namjoon has gotten up, to sit next to me. “May I speak off the record?” I nod. “I’m worried about you. Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” 

“Wh-what?” 

“Yoongi is a good guy, but you’re young. You’re his subordinate. This isn’t appropriate, and he knows it.” 

“I…” 

“As long as you can say you don’t feel coerced, I’ll drop it.” 

“No!” I look at Namjoon, horrified. “No! I don’t feel coerced, what the hell?! You just said he’s a good guy!” 

“He is,” Namjoon agrees. “Given that there’s a power imbalance here, I hope you’ll forgive me for wanting to hear it from you.” 

I get it. Namjoon is worried—about me. And about Yoongi, too. I shudder to think about how Yoongi will react, especially to the news that it was Hoseok that tattled on us. 

“I initiated it. It was me, Namjoon. Please don’t be too hard on him.” 

A half-truth, but so be it. I don’t want Yoongi to hate all of his friends. I’ll take responsibility for this. 

“Then that’s all I needed to hear. As HR, I can’t say anything personal on the matter. As your friend, though…” Namjoon rakes a hand through his hair. “Well, don’t hate me for doing this. It’s my job.” 

“Fun,” I mutter, too miserable to really act grateful, but trying not to lash out. I don’t know if I’m resting more on angry than I am sad, but I’m definitely mortified. 

“Ha, yeah. Fun.” 

I sigh. This is my office, now? Great. I’m really excited to sit in a room with Namjoon so that he can make sure I’m on my ~best behavior~ and not fucking Yoongi in his office. 

Well, it’s not like we’ve behaved. We’ve broken about a dozen company rules. I should be glad that I wasn’t fired, shouldn’t I? Especially after I was moaning his name while we had sex in his office. 

“Let’s go get your things,” Namjoon says, standing. I follow him, numb, and start packing up my desk. It’s pretty quick work; I haven’t decorated my space at all, just left it bare. I guess I should have made it look more like a place I intended on staying, but I’m just so busy all the time that I never really thought about it. 

We’re putting my old notebooks in a box when Yoongi walks by, and he stops a few feet away to stare. 

“Excuse me? What are you doing?” Yoongi asks, already sounding pissed. 

“We’ll talk later,” Namjoon replies. I don’t even look up; I dump my pens and stuff on top, then grab my laptop under my arm. 

“What the fuck? Did you consider talking to me about this?” Yoongi asks, immediately bristling. “You can’t just fire my employee without notice—” 

“I haven’t fired anyone. However, due to the nature of your relationship outside of work, she can no longer report to you.” 

“Oh yes, she will,” Yoongi replies, stubborn. “Are you stupid? My personal assistant can’t report to me?” 

“Yoongi, drop it,” I whisper, but he ignores me. 

“This is my company. Draft up a liability document if you have to, but you are not having her report to someone else.” 

“Yoongi—” Namjoon starts, looking tired, but Yoongi apparently isn’t having any of it. 

“No. That’s my call, and this is the end of the conversation.” 

Oof. I can’t believe Yoongi is trying to undermine Namjoon’s authority like this. I stand there, awkward all over again. 

“I’m going to work with Namjoon, Yoongi. Have some respect.” 

“Fine!” Yoongi snaps, then he’s stomping away into his office and I’m left there, feeling my mortification deepen by several miles. Why did it have to be such a scene? Why did he have to act like that? God, if that’s his reaction to me being put in another office, I’d shudder to think how he’d react to Namjoon firing me. 

Is that why Namjoon didn’t fire me? 

Ugghhhhh. 

“I’m sorry,” I whisper, not really sure what I’m sorry for. Namjoon is staring hard at Yoongi’s door, looking like he’s wrestling with himself to stay calm. 

“Don’t be. I expected worse,” Namjoon replies, grim. He pokes my cheek. “C’mon, everything’s fine. He’ll cool down.” 

Will he? After what happened this morning, and the inevitability of the truth leaking out, I’m not so sure. 

We walk to Namjoon’s office—no, our office—where I start setting up my things. I feel like I’m on probation, or in detention, or something. It’s kind of nice having someone to talk to, though I don’t say anything right now; my ‘office’ was an empty area that was in front of Yoongi’s, with marketing down the hall, leaving us basically alone down there. Leaving me basically alone, all the time. Now I’m in the office next to accounting, and I can hear Jin’s windshield-wiper laugh through the wall while Namjoon types away on his laptop, deep in thought. The room is full of filing cabinets and binders, which is a surprise; I expected everything to be digital. 

Hrgghhh. I don’t know what to expect when I turn on my laptop, but I should probably get it over with. Right now, I’m just pushing things around on my desk under the guise of making it look nice, but it’s really sparse. I don’t have anything to make it look like mine, whereas Namjoon has a row of those weird mouse-bear things and a big, multicolored Snoopy poster behind his desk. I wonder if I can put stuff on the walls. I have a poster or ten from all the times I went to Outside Lands that I could probably make look pretty cool. 

I’m still stalling. I kinda have to pee—I could do that instead of checking Slackr. I don’t want Namjoon to think I’m slacking off, though. I glance up, surprised to find him looking at me. 

“Er—what’s up?” I ask. 

“Nothing,” Namjoon replies, but I can tell that’s very not true. I wait. And wait. “Do you want to grab lunch? With some of the guys.” 

“Mm. I appreciate it, but I’d rather keep to myself today. Emotions are a bit high.” 

“Sure, sure. I’ll bring you something back, then. We’ll probably go to Lucky’s.” 

“Oh! Uh. Yes! I’ll have a ménage à trois, thanks!” I blush a little saying the name of the sandwich, given the conversation earlier, but Namjoon just notes it down. “Do they still put mozzarella sticks on their sandwiches?” 

“Yup. They’ve started adding onion rings, too. Do you want some?” 

“Yes! Both! And some voodoo chips, if you don’t mind.” 

“Sure, that’s fine,” Namjoon replies. 

Lucky’s! Okay, my day is a little better now. They have the best bread in the whole wide world. I would hug Namjoon, but uhhhh, we’re not that close. And I’m in trouble for sucking Yoongi’s dick, so maybe no touching other employees right now. Instead, I hop up to go to the bathroom, still doing that whole “avoid opening Slackr at all costs” thing I’ve been working on all morning. I just don’t want to deal with personal drama when there’s plenty of things that I have to do to get through this workday. 

I’m so lost in thought I almost miss Jimin, who waves and smiles. His hair is no longer pink, but bleach-blond like Yoongi’s; I wave back, but I’m a woman on a mission. 

Honestly, being in the bathroom is kind of a relief, too. It’s quiet. I can relax. Take deep breaths. I check my phone, once, but there’s no messages. I don’t know if that’s a relief or ominous. 

Because life is a comedy, I wind up running into Hoseok on my way from the hall back to the side door. Of course I do. Why wouldn’t I? These past two days have been perfect, after all, so why not change the downpour into a hurricane? 

No, fuck it. I stalk right by him, not looking at his face, not even when he opens his mouth. I can get through this unscathed, it’s whatever. I thought we were friends, but I’m just a conquest, it’s fine! 

I snarl when Hoseok grabs my sleeve. “Don’t touch me,” I snap, whirling around to face him. “Don’t you dare.” 

“I’m sorry,” Hoseok says miserably. “You don’t have to forgive me, but I’m sorry.” 

“Hey, fuck you. That’s all I have to say.” 

“Wait! Please, just hear me out. Please? I’ll never talk to you again, I just—I didn’t mean to, I swear! I was drunk, and I was upset, I didn’t mean for this to happen! I swear, I swear to you.” 

“I don’t care what you meant to happen! This is what happened! I thought you were my friend! Well boy, you sure showed me. Are you proud of yourself? Does it feel good putting me in my place for not bending over for you?!” 

“H-hey—no! That’s—it’s not like that! I wouldn’t—I would never!” 

“But you did! Good luck explaining it to Yoongi, your supposed best friend! Did you think about that at all? Did you even care how much this would hurt him?” I take a deep breath, looking away from Hoseok, feeling awful. “You know what, we were wrong. But we could have at least been given the chance to tell Namjoon on our own terms. Instead, you went behind our backs and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to trust you again, you idiot.” 

“Wait. Just listen, please, listen for a second!” 

“Hurry it up.” 

“I wasn’t trying to get back at anyone. I was just drunk and venting and I thought if I could get it all out…no, it doesn’t matter what I thought, that isn’t my point. I know you don’t care why, or how, but…” 

I glance back at Hoseok, shaking and flushed with anger. Even his tears don’t sway me. 

“I’ll do anything to fix it. Please? Please, just a chance. Believe me, I never wanted—I hate even thinking I hurt you, or Yoongi. You’re not just some girl I wanted to fuck, you’re so much more than that.” 

“We were friends. That’s it.” 

“I know! I know we were. We can be still, can’t we?” 

“Hoseok. You went behind my back. What do you expect me to say?” 

“Nothing. I don’t expect anything. I never have.” 

“Stupid,” I snap, but I’m already starting to calm down. God, he looks so miserable. So shaken. “You’re a coward, you know that? Like what the fuck is with you people? You don’t talk about anything. If we had talked, Hoseok! If we had just talked!” 

“I know.” Hoseok looks like he really means it, his eyes boring into mine with a not-insignificant amount of desperation. “You’re right! I should have told him, I should have told you! I put us in this awkward situation, but I wasn’t pretending—you’re not just someone I want to hook up with—but I was wrong. All of this, I was wrong. Just…let me get you coffee, sometime.” 

We stare at each other, then I hear myself give a Yoongi-esque scoff. “I’ll think about it.” 

“I’m sorry for the things I’ve said. They were out of line.” 

“I said I’ll think about it, Hobi!” I say, exasperated, but he’s worn me down. Damn it. “I like my coffee black.” 

It’s the best I can do, right now. I go back to my new office, frazzled all over again, and halt when I see Yoongi on the couch looking sour. 

“See what I mean? This is awkward now. You can’t have confidential conversations if my girlfriend is here.” 

I pause at the door. Yoongi certainly sounds a lot more reasonable than he did earlier, drinking coffee and looking at me with a small smile. He mouths the word ‘sorry’ at me. I roll my eyes. 

“I can book a conference room,” Namjoon rolls his eyes too, looking amused. 

“But we don’t have that much space. Just draft a document that we can’t be sued because we’re dating and leave us be.” 

Namjoon sighs, and I have to resist the urge to chew Yoongi out. This is Namjoon’s job! Let him do it! We’ve already gotten away with so much. 

“Anyway—” 

“What? Hoseok already blabbed, what’s the big deal? Baby, come sit with me.” 

Robotic, I walk to sit at my desk while Namjoon stares at his own. He has the look of a man that doesn’t know how his life turned out this way. Yoongi scowls at me. 

“Yoongi, I’m staying in here. Stop arguing with Namjoon and go work.” 

That does it. Yoongi scowls even darker but gets to his feet to take off. “This conversation isn’t over,” he says to Namjoon, who hangs his head in a picture of defeat. 

“It absolutely is. Now get out, Sir.” 

“Okay, okay, I’m going.” 

Namjoon buries his face in his hands, groaning. I feel a little bad for him. He puts up with Yoongi, and that’s a specialized job for the best of the best. A light tapping pulls my attention to the door, where Jin is standing there in a giant pink hoodie, looking sheepish. I glance back at Namjoon. 

“This sounds like the place to be. Where’s the party?” 

Looking at Namjoon as intently as I am, I notice something very strange. Like a light turning on behind his eyes when he lifts his head to fix Jin with a goofy smile. His cheeks are suddenly a pretty shade of pink. I look back at Jin, who is mirroring Namjoon’s grin and his blush. 

Oh my god. Ohhhh my god. Namjoon. Likes. Jin. I can see it all over his face. What the hell! Why hasn’t Jin confessed when Namjoon isn’t even bothering to hide it at all? What a couple of dorks. Dancing around their mutual interest, assuming the other hasn’t noticed. For crying out loud, it’s so cliche as to be absurd. 

“It’s nothing, don’t worry about it,” Namjoon says, still looking at Jin with rapt attention. “Hey, do you want to grab lunch with me? I’m going to Lucky’s.” 

Jin’s eyes shine at the possibility. “I could only be so lucky.” 

Namjoon and I groan at the same time. That’s probably the worst joke Jin has ever made. Totally uninspired. 

“Who else is going?” Jin asks. “Should we invite Jungkookie? And Jimin?” 

“Ah—no, it was just me. Is that okay?” 

Um, hold on, wasn’t it a lot of people? Didn’t Namjoon say it was at least “the guyS,” plural? 

“Just you? Uhhh, yeah, I guess so,” Jin replies, but he looks absolutely delighted. I can’t believe what I’m witnessing in real-time.

Pfft. 

Finally, I open up Slackr, totally unsurprised to see Yoongi has left me a string of messages. 

Yoongi Min, Genius

Care to explain what’s going on?

Hey.

Log in already.

Fuck it, I’ll just message Namjoon. 

 

And then, twenty minutes later.

Yoongi Min, Genius

So Hobi tattled on us. What an ass.

Hey, are you there yet? Listen, don’t be too mad at Hobi. The idiot went and got stupid drunk, and he’s an emotional mess when he’s stupid drunk. He didn’t run straight to Namjoon. Namjoon just happened to be at the table.

Yaaaaaaaa come back already. 

 

Seventeen✨

you talk too much

shush 

 

Yoongi Min, Genius

There you are. Are you okay? 

 

Seventeen ✨

yep are you?? 

 

Yoongi Min, Genius

Yes.

I’m kind of pissed at Hobi, but whatever. It was going to come out eventually. Better Namjoon finds out now than later, for both our asses. 

 

Seventeen ✨

oh

yeah

idk

its fine 

 

Yoongi Min, Genius

It is. Seriously.

If you’re under Namjoon now, you have a good boss. Just let things settle. I’ll talk to him later. 

 

Seventeen ✨

youre seriously not going to kick any asses? 

 

Yoongi Min, Genius

Nah.

Miss you, though.

Call me and turn on your webcam when Namjoon goes out to lunch. 

 

Seventeen ✨

no 

 

Yoongi Min, Genius

Step into my office? 

 

Seventeen ✨

NO 

 

Yoongi Min, Genius

No fun.

Check your phone. 

 

I unlock my phone. Yoongi has sent me a picture of himself. 

Fuck. He looks so fucking hot, biting his lip and looking into the camera like he wants— 

I bite my own lip and put my phone face down, not sure if I’m mad or turned on. 

Seventeen ✨

im blocking u

goodbye 

Chapter Text

In a blur of work, the week comes and goes, and then another. The relationship I have with Hoseok was damaged, but it’s mending. Yoongi threw a fit at Namjoon, but they made up—with many apologies from Yoongi—and I’m in the swing of greeting my new boss every morning. 

Namjoon helps me decorate my desk; we make a wall of plants across the back, and he buys me a fancy uPad stand to welcome me to the team, which consists of me, him, and Hoseok. We spend one morning eating wasabi peas and hanging my Outside Lands posters while Hoseok lays on the couch and acts as our leveler. We spend another helping Hoseok decorate the office for Thanksgiving, setting out snacks in the kitchen, and laughing about Hoseok’s antics—dancing, singing, and jumping around with such enthusiasm that Taehyung catches wind and comes to join us, eating blueberries one at a time and talking about the merits of blue fruit. 

All in all, things have settled down. I spend most nights at Yoongi’s, cooking dinner for him to come home to, taking care of Holly, and letting Yoongi—who comes home most nights after 11—relax in whatever way he can. Whether it’s a scene or just going straight to sleep, I don’t mind. I’m just happy to be able to spend time with him. 

It’s not until we’re in LA that I get the sense that Yoongi wants to tell me something. After a long Muber from LAX to Venice Beach—damned LA traffic—we’re walking along a narrow sidewalk to our mystery destination, and he just has that look. There’s something on his mind. I don’t press him about it, because by now I know that he’ll tell me in time. Plus, I’m really curious about where we’re going. The neighborhood doesn’t look ridiculously fancy; there’s a row of one story houses, most of them hidden behind flower bushes and other greenery. In LA prices, these houses would run someone a million dollars, probably, but I’m surprised Yoongi doesn’t have us in a downtown penthouse suite overlooking the city. 

Instead, we come on a house with a white picket fence. Big bushes spilling pink flowers flank the gate, and the entire yard is overflowing with color. Ivy creeps up the front of the house, which has a mat that simply reads “welcome.” 

Where are we? 

Wordless, Yoongi opens the door to take me inside. The front hallway is an explosion of color and plants, so unlike what I would expect from Yoongi that I suddenly just know where we are. I follow Yoongi to a bedroom done in pale pink, with a door that opens out into a garden full of lush flowers and even more plants. It has the look of a place that’s been meticulously maintained, so much so that I feel like if I turn around, his parents will be in the doorway to greet us. 

I don’t say a word, even as Yoongi turns his back to me to look out the back doors. I can sense the fragility in the air, his quiet melancholy that winds its way around my heart and squeezes. There’s nothing to say—not yet. Instead, I walk up behind Yoongi and put my arms around him, my head resting on his shoulder, my hands linked in front of his stomach. Why? Why did he bring me here

The silence is too thick to break. I don’t know what it means that Yoongi brought me here, but I feel so many emotions I don’t know what to do with. Maybe there’s nothing. Maybe I can just stand here and support him, without trying to make meanings out of thin air. 

We shed our baggage onto the floor. Yoongi isn’t finished leading me, I realize; he takes my hands and we walk out of the patio door into the garden, where we sit in a nook of flowers on a swing—me, upright, with Yoongi on his side, his head in my lap. The perfume of flowers and the chirping song of insects surrounds us, and still, Yoongi says nothing. 

How often does he come here, to stay for a weekend in this place where he last had family? I can’t imagine what it must feel like, walking the halls of this house that used to hold people so precious to him. To look around and see it as it was the day they left him, alone, to navigate life by himself. 

I don’t mind the silence. The sun sets over the horizon, bathing the garden in a dusky light. Yoongi is so still he might be sleeping, and I pet his fringe away from his face, happy to see him resting. He’s so tired—he’s always tired. I want to ease his lot, just a little bit. As much as I can.  

“I used to sit out here and play my keyboard for my mom. She loved it—classical, silly beats, it didn’t matter. My parents didn’t approve of me doing music, at first. I did it anyway, without their support. One day, I was out here, working on something. I don’t remember what, isn’t that weird? And they said they were proud of me.” 

I just listen. There’s a time for me to speak up, but it isn’t now. 

“I thought I didn’t have a family after they died. I was a wreck. Couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep. All I did was work, trying to erase it all. If I could just forget, I would be okay.” Yoongi looks up at me then, his eyes shadowed. “Hobi was there through it all. My assistants came and went, all of them winding up hating me. Hobi stepped in to do that job—late nights having panic attacks, being so hungry I collapsed, he was there through it all. And then I hired you.” 

So it was that recent. I feel for Yoongi’s hand, and he twines our fingers together with a strained half-smile. 

“Wouldn’t you fall in love, then? If someone gave up their days to make sure you survived just one more?” 

I understand, now. How close they got, and how I just came out of nowhere, Hoseok being left alone in the blink of an eye. I understand why Hoseok was so devastated. Why Yoongi didn’t have the heart to talk about it. 

“I would, yeah. I definitely would,” I answer softly. Curious—it doesn’t feel like it did two weeks ago, when I was so angry I left Yoongi alone in my apartment. It just makes sense. 

“You must think I’m awful.” 

“No, I don’t. I think hearts are complicated, and you’ve both been suffering. I had no idea.” 

“I’m a coward,” Yoongi admits. He looks back toward the house. “I promised myself in Tahoe I wouldn’t be a coward anymore.” 

“What will you do?” 

“I’ll give you everything. All of me. Anything you want.” 

“What about Hobi?” 

Yoongi stiffens. “I’ve already made up my mind. I won’t do that to you.” 

I frown, then. I know what he’s saying—that he doesn’t want to leave me alone. That we’re together, and that has to be enough. I could drop it, here. Let it fade away on the wind, knowing that my boyfriend is in love with Hoseok, and I’m preventing them from being together with my silence. Who knows how it would go. One day, Yoongi might change his mind. He might decide that I’ve been unfair, or that I’ve been in the way all along. That he doesn’t love me. 

He might regret choosing me. 

“Do what? You already love someone who isn’t me.” 

“Baby—” Yoongi starts, but he stops himself and takes in a few shallow breaths. I wait. I don’t know what he’s going to say. “I’m sorry.” 

“For what?” 

“For—for lying to you, I—” Yoongi takes another breath, and it shakes.  

“You’re forgiven. Now, what are you going to do? If you’re not being a coward.” 

When Yoongi turns to look at me, I smile. He’s looking at me like I’ve just said something crazy. “What do you mean?” 

“Are you going to tell him the truth? Or would you just kiss him?” 

“What—are you breaking up with me?” 

There’s a misunderstanding happening here, but I’m not sure how to wrap it all up neatly so that Yoongi can understand. I hum. 

“No, I’m not breaking up with you. I’m wondering why you think you can’t love Hobi just because we’re together. Don’t some people love lots of other people?” 

“That’s called cheating, isn’t it?” 

“Nah, the other thing. Where everyone agrees that it’s okay. Isn’t it called…uh, what was it? The one that isn’t monogamy?” 

“Polyamory?” 

“Yeah, that. Why can’t you?” 

“What are you saying? That you would just be fine with that? How does that even work?” 

“I dunno. I guess we’d have to decide that. I don’t mind it when I think about it. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, too. I even asked Hobi, but he had the same reaction you did, and then he said you said you’re not interested, so I dropped it.” 

“You—you asked him—?” 

“Sure, why not? Do you know how many problems you two could solve if you would just talk to each other?” 

The expression of pure bewilderment only deepens in Yoongi’s features. They really are children in some ways. “I don’t know what I would do. I would need to talk to him. And you. All three of us, together.” 

“Do you want to talk to him now?” 

“I…” 

“You don’t have to. I’m just asking.” 

“You’re being way too zen about this.” 

“How so? It would work out for all three of us. You know how I feel, I know how you feel, we know how he feels. He’s the only one that doesn’t know.” 

“What if I fuck it up?” 

“If you didn’t fuck it up by chasing after me, I doubt you can fuck it up now.” Yoongi doesn’t move, but that’s okay. There’s time—time to think, time to decide. 

“How do you feel? About him?” 

“You know I think he’s lovely. I don’t know if I can fall in love with him, but the physical attraction is there.” 

“And me?” 

I hesitate. I’m not ready to declare that I’m in love with him. It’s all so new, happening so fast. What if he doesn’t really want to hear that? What if it scares him away? 

“I don’t want to be without you,” I settle on, emphatic, hoping that Yoongi will understand. I know I’m young, and less experienced, but I know how I feel. Would I be okay without him? Sure. People break up and move on all the time. 

Do I want to let him go? 

Not ever. 

“I don’t deserve you,” Yoongi breathes, and he sounds so sure of that that my heart aches. “Either of you. I abandoned him, and I—”  

“Let us decide what we want, Yoongi. You’re wrong.” 

“I’m not—” 

“You are. Can’t you see that? How much Hobi loves you, and how much I want to be with you no matter what?” 

Why?” 

Oh, Yoongi. What will it take, I wonder, for Yoongi to see just how amazing he is? The things he’s accomplished, the struggles he’s pushed through, the person he is—a culmination of so many different experiences and feelings, thoughts and ideas, as great as having overcome his place in life and as small as the way he looks at me, now, waiting to hear just one reason why he’s worth it. Up until our paths converged, he lived a whole, rich life—became a person I admired for his success, couldn’t stand for his standoffishness, and cherish for everything that he hides underneath. 

I could wax poetic about my feelings for him for hours, I think. Write him songs and sonnets, be a real mushy sap, but I know that’s not what he wants. I don’t know if I can give him the definitive answer, the “aha!” moment that he’s so desperately trying to find to make our situation make sense to him. To make it understandable why Hoseok would stick by him even after being abandoned, or why I would come to love him despite how much I thought I hated him. Didn’t I agree, many times over, that he’s an asshole? That he can be mean, and hard to be close to? How much have I contributed to his fragile sense of self? 

Honesty is the best policy, they say. I’m not so sure it is anymore. At least, I’m not sure I’ve gone about it the right way. There are things I could have, should have said differently. Ways I could have softened it. 

“I had a kitten, when I was in elementary school. I found her stuck in a fence and brought her home to my mom, who was not happy with me,” I say, quietly. Yoongi’s brow is furrowed, but he doesn’t interrupt. “She was feral, and not very good with people. I was so scratched up my teachers called child services to make sure I wasn’t being abused at home, but it was all because of Cornflakes.” 

“Cornflakes?” 

“That’s what I named her. I thought it was a really pretty name.” 

Cornflakes?” 

“Yoongi, I was seven. Anyway—let me get to the point. Cornflakes would always scratch and bite if you tried to pet her, even after years and years. I think she never stopped being a street cat,” I continue, just kind of playing with Yoongi’s hand: squeezing it, rubbing his palm, fiddling with his fingers. “She was loud and whiny for food and ran away from people when they came in the room, but every night she would come to my room for bed. Her spot was on my pillow, right above my head. And when she’d lay there, she would purr and purr and lick my hair and sometimes she even let me scratch her ears a little.” 

“You’re comparing me to Cornflakes, aren’t you.” 

“I am! Because she was mean, and she scratched me a lot, but she’d always come let me know she loved me. She took care of me in her own way.” 

“I’m not a cat,” Yoongi mutters. 

“But you’re kind of like one. You scratch because that’s what you learned to do. You just deal with things in the ways you learned how. It doesn’t mean you don’t care, or that you don’t love us. Hobi and I both know that.” 

I watch Yoongi swallow, his Adam’s apple bobbing in his throat from the force of it. I’m not kidding myself that my silly little analogy to a childhood pet is going to be the irrefutable proof that fixes anything, but I hope he’s able to consider that his metaphorical scratching doesn’t detract from what hides behind it. 

“I’ll tell you a thousand times if you need me to. You’re wonderful, Yoongi. Everything bad you tell yourself is just a lie.” 

“We should get dinner.” 

I watch Yoongi get up from the swing and dust himself off without a backward glance. Just like a cat, he’s had enough of the love. I understand—he doesn’t know what to do with it, does he? When we were in Tahoe, it hurt; I felt guilty. Now, I just feel content. Whether he wants to cuddle outside all night and listen to me enumerate his good qualities or not, he listened. That’s enough, for now. 

I rise, too, following Yoongi into the house so we can get dressed and head out. Groceries tomorrow, he says, and I perk up thinking about cooking together. We do that sometimes, but mostly he’s never home by the time I’m hungry. 

Cooking together is fun, though. Yoongi is a good cook, to my surprise. I wonder if he learned from his mother—or if he, trapped in a bachelor pad full of terrible cooks, had to learn for survival. I’ve heard about Namjoon’s prowess in the kitchen, or lack thereof. Boy can’t even chop an onion properly. 

To be honest, I still don’t really know if Yoongi has any plans for the weekend, or if he’s just intent on getting away from San Francisco and all the stress of work. I’ve realized that the PR firm I assumed we’d be meeting with was just an explanation that I came up with, and that’s not why we’re here. Still, there’s nothing that he’s articulated to me, and we walk—hand in hand—to a brewhouse with few words between us. That’s fine, too; sometimes, it’s nice to just exist in the same space without the pressure to hold a conversation. Yoongi can be a lot of things, I’ve discovered—loud and goofy with high-pitched laughter, quiet and serious as he talks through ideas and thoughts, or just silent and thoughtful after emotional moments we’ve just shared. I like seeing all three, for many different reasons. 

My head falls back and I look at the sky while we walk, the twinkle of stars weak over the city lights. There aren’t a lot of people wandering around at this hour, which leaves me feeling like we’re insulated from the rest of the world. The illusion disappears when we enter the restaurant, where we’re led to a booth. Yoongi slides in next to me, and we’re totally being that gross couple that cuddles together and holds hands while we dine on seafood and wine. I expect the dinner to stay relatively silent, and Yoongi doesn’t talk much, at first—he’s too busy with the array of dishes in front of us, and especially the wine. I open my mouth to accept seafood and veggies and truffle fries, giggling over being fed and wine drunk with his warmth so close by. 

I’m being shown another side, I think. We came down to LA so Yoongi can show me what he’s like off and alone, no stress to guide our lives or thoughts. What he can be like when he’s not in the thick of everything. I’m leaning on him, head resting on his shoulder, listening to his breaths. 

This is perfect. 

“So,” Yoongi speaks after he’s satisfied filling my belly, his lips so close to my ear that I shiver. Mm, the things he does to me. “Is it okay if I talk about Hobi?” 

“Mm?” I blink, surprised. I’m not totally put off by it, but it was nice thinking just about the two of us. “Yeah, what’s up?” 

“What does it look like to you?” 

“Hmm, well. I haven’t thought about it that much, but I think I want to try it. The three of us. I’m…” I hesitate, then, and lift my head so I can look into Yoongi’s dark eyes. “A little scared. I don’t want to be left behind.” 

“You won’t be. I won’t do that to anyone ever again.” 

“Yeah. I figured you would say that.” 

“You don’t believe me?” 

“I’m realistic. If you two have been in love for ages, it could happen. I’ll trust you, though.” Yoongi opens his mouth to speak, but I hold up my hand. “I want to have alone time. Time where it’s just me and you, and time when it’s just me and him figuring things out. I can’t just jump into it if I don’t get to have your undivided attention ever again.” 

“That’s fair. I didn’t think we wouldn’t have alone time.” 

“Does he know? About the kink stuff?” 

“No.” 

“Then you have to be gentler with him. Introduce it slowly.” 

“Is that what you wanted?” Yoongi asks, sounding tense. 

“No, not at the time. You didn’t do anything wrong. I just, thinking back, would have done things a little differently.” 

“Do you regret it?” 

“No. One hundred percent, I don’t regret anything.” 

I can feel Yoongi relax by my side. I put my head back down. Hoseok is different than I am—he’s already in love. Already wants Yoongi for reasons other than his domineering personality, or his abrupt nature. 

…I think? Who can know, honestly? 

“Unless he wants you to handcuff and whip him. Then you’re allowed.” 

“Fuck, don’t talk like that. Not right now.” 

“Mm? Too much?” I ask. Yoongi swallows audibly. “Are you saying you don’t want to do that to him?” 

“I—mm. I do. Of course I do.” 

“I wonder what he’s like,” I murmur, chasing the thread just to see where it will land. I tilt my head and kiss just below Yoongi’s ear. “What if he’s really dirty, mm? What if he’s been fantasizing about you throwing him on the floor and fucking him senseless?” 

“Fuck,” Yoongi repeats, nearly a moan. Ohh, interesting. I nuzzle his neck, giggling. He’s so easy to wind up. “Do you—are you okay with that?” 

“Mhm. Maybe I’d want to watch you. I could get comfortable on that couch in your little room of sin, so every time you look up you could see me with my legs spread, touching myself while I watch you take him.” 

“You—mmh, fuck, yes,” Yoongi whispers, his voice shaking. I slide my hand to the inside of his thigh, not giving a damn about the restaurant around us. My fingers brush casually over the front of his pants. He’s hard. “Tell me more.” 

“More? Geez, Yoongi, you’re so dirty. Are you thinking about it? Good and properly? About how tight he’d be on your cock? Or maybe how wet and sloppy I would be getting to see you fill him up with your cum?” 

“Yeah, I’m thinking about it. I’m—” Yoongi breaks off in a real moan this time, his eyes closed and cheeks bright pink. 

“What if he was fucking me?” I ask innocently. Yoongi clenches his fists on the table. “Mm? You want to share me?” I giggle. “You really like that, huh?” 

“I’m going to fuck you so hard when we get back home, baby girl,” Yoongi replies, totally dodging the question. 

“Focus, Yoongi. I’m lying back on the bed, tied up so I can’t fight it—” Yoongi gasps. Fuck, I’m getting worked up, too. “After you  have a round with me, Hobi climbs between my legs, and I’m already a mess from coming, but he shoves his cock in me anyway and pounds me just like you do. So hard, so fast, and—” 

“Stop!” Yoongi gasps, sitting up straight and looking at me, his eyes dark and glittering. I falter. Was it too much? “Unless you want to go to the bathroom right this fucking second, stop.” 

Oh? Oh. He’s that worked up? I grin wickedly. “No, we’re not doing that. But, I don’t want to stop. Hmm. I’m thinking about it too much, you know?” I can’t help myself. Yoongi is looking at me like he’s about to explode. “I bet Hobi fucks really good. He’s a dancer, so…” I trail off, still grinning. “Don’t you want to see me cum all over his dick?” 

I catch the eye of our waiter as he comes by and quickly sit back in the booth. Whoops! I guess I pushed it a little too close. 

“Will you be wanting anything else?” the waiter asks. “Dessert? More wine?” 

Yoongi very nearly throws his card at the waiter, refusing to look around. I don’t blame him—he’s breathing hard and blushing, his mouth parted and his dick hard under the table. I give the waiter an apologetic smile, and he walks away looking sour. 

Whoops again! 

“Ohh, I can’t wait to get you home,” I purr at Yoongi, who seems frozen in a state of manic lust. “I bet you want to do all sorts of things to me.” 

“I’m—” Yoongi looks around. Licks his lips. “Not going to let you get away with this. Tease.” 

“Oh, I think I’ll get away with it. I don’t want to be a good girl tonight.” I lower my voice, unable to hide my grin. “Maybe it’s time for you to be a good boy.”

Chapter Text

Despite the look of absolute incredulity on his face, Yoongi doesn’t argue. If anything, he looks intrigued by the mere idea of what I’ve suggested. Like someone who’s never considered something at all, but isn’t totally turned off by the idea that’s been presented.

Yoongi is stronger than me, but I won’t back down just because he wants me to, especially not tonight. Until he has me incapable of resisting him, then I won’t give up. I think Yoongi knows that, too; I’ve been a downright brat enough times that he can’t be unaware of how much I’ll fight him, just because I can. The idea of it is so exciting, in a way that I’m not used to, and I wonder if this is what Yoongi feels when our roles are reversed. Like the world is limitless, and he can take whatever he wants. 

By the time we make it back to the house, we’re wrapped around one another, tangled up and pushing the other to try to gain dominance. We’re evenly matched right now, I think—he knows all of my weak points, very intimately—but I’ve got something he doesn’t have, and that’s a defiant stubbornness that has already gotten me in trouble time and time again. So he doesn’t know how far I’ll take it? Ha! I’ll show him; he only gets to punish me because I let him. 

“You’re in so much trouble, baby girl,” Yoongi growls in my ear, trying to push me to the wall. I scoff, grabbing hold of the hair at his nape and pulling as hard as I can, which makes Yoongi hiss. “I’m going to spank you black and blue.” 

“You’re not doing shit,” I shoot back, struggling hard at keeping myself upright with how hard he’s pushing me, but able to more or less hold him—for now—by twisting my fist and forcing him to move his head back to avoid the pain. “Give up now and I’ll go easy on you.” 

“No—way—in hell!” Yoongi snarls. If it’s supposed to be scaring me, it doesn’t—I laugh, using the leverage I have on his hair to drag him downward into a ridiculous half-squat. “You—ahh, fuck!” 

“Does it hurt?” I taunt, feeling weirdly powerful and not sure what to do with that. Yoongi grunts, grabbing for my hand to pry it off, but I push him down to the floor before he can so much as grab my fingers. “Not so tough now, are you?” 

“The fuck I’m not!” Yoongi snaps back, and I feel myself tumbling down on top of him before I even register that he’s yanked me down by my shirt. “Stop fighting me!” 

“No!” I growl, struggling to free myself from his grip. There’s no way in hell—if I can’t get away, then I’ll have to take desperate measures. I throw myself forward into a kiss, so rough and raw that Yoongi groans into it, and I have my advantage. I push his shoulders, all my weight behind it, and pin him to the floor. “Give up. You’re mine tonight.” 

“Like hell,” Yoongi smirks, feral, and then spits right in my face. 

I see red. 

“You—fucking asshole!” My voice is still a cold growl, and Yoongi’s smug face pisses me off so much. I press down on his shoulders, fumbling to force my knee between his thighs, and pressing it right up against his cock. “Beg me, Yoongi. Beg me not to hurt you.” 

“I don’t beg,” Yoongi chuckles, and it’s my turn to smirk. “If you want it, then take it.” 

Ohhhh, this man. I shove my knee against him, harder, and he falters long enough that I can grab his wrists and pin them to the floor. He thinks he won’t be begging me? He’s got another thing coming. I rest all my weight on him, watching. Waiting to see how he’ll react. 

“You’re too soft, baby girl. You can’t control me,” Yoongi taunts me right back, his voice choked and rough. He tries to wrestle his hands away, then falters again—I have him trapped, at least for now. “Let go.” 

“Make me.” 

Yoongi struggles again, rolling his body to try to fight me off, but it only jostles my knee against him—rubbing him through through his jeans, pushing his stiff length harder into my thigh. I lean down so that we’re nose to nose, forcing my leg to move so that Yoongi lets out another guttural moan, flushed red and biting his lip. 

“Make me, Yoongi.” 

I can see it in his eyes. He knows I’ve won, but he’s trying to think of a way out. A way to make me submit instead, and he comes up empty. 

“What are you going to do, huh?” Yoongi still has the balls to taunt me, like I couldn’t knee him and end it right now. This is a rush! I pant, grinning wildly, while Yoongi tries to squirm out of my grip. If we were in any other position, he could do it, but he left himself open. 

Victory is mine. 

“I’m going to give you a taste of your own medicine,” I answer. “I’m going to show you what it’s like.” 

“Ha, okay. Sure. Show me, then.” 

“I learned from you, baby boy. I’ll give you one more chance—submit, and I’ll be nice.” 

It looks like Yoongi really weighs his options. His tongue drags over his lower lip, which is snatched up by his teeth, and he huffs through his nose with his chest rising and falling under me. What will he do? I can only guess. Fight back is what I’m betting on, but I have a plan for that. I’m not going to just let him. I’m going to put my foot down. 

“Yes or no, Yoongi. Answer me.” 

“Fuck off,” Yoongi snaps, and that’s when I feel an utter sense of calm come over me. No? That’s definitely a no. I can’t hit hard, but I know places where everyone is weak. Quick as I can move with my own breath shuddering, I release Yoongi’s wrists to wrap my hands around his throat instead. If I have to soften him up, then so be it. 

As I expected, Yoongi’s hands are on my wrists in an instant. He squeezes, trying to pry me off, but I’m putting as much weight as I dare into it. There’s nothing he can do, and now he’s definitely on a time limit. I wince at the scrape of his nails on the back of my hands, and how his hips rise to try to buck me off, only really succeeding in driving his cock into me and making him moan. Do I have him? Is he going to give up? I feel nerves, now, with all these possibilities opening up, and having only been able to keep up with Yoongi because I was fighting him so hard. I can can act like he does, I think, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t totally nerve-wracking. 

So quickly the fight bleeds out of him. Our eyes are locked the whole time, but his are in danger of sliding closed, with his lashes fluttering. “That’s better,” I say, because I need to fill the silence with something before my nerves betray me somehow. “Don’t fight. It feels so good to give in.” 

There’s one thing I have to check, though. One thing I have to be absolutely sure of. 

“You know you can safeword, right?” I ask, quietly. I’m sure he knows, and he nods weakly, his grip breaking into nothing. “Good. You’re safe with me, okay? You know that?” Again, Yoongi nods, though it’s even less substantial than the first. Red is creeping across his face, his mouth moving soundlessly save for some deep, rasping breaths.  

Are there ways that Yoongi has never been touched? Places? I lean down to press little kisses over his cheeks, down his nose, skirting around his lips to his chin. The last time I was being choked, Yoongi was driving into me as hard as he could, but I can’t exactly repeat that experience. What should I do? Ah, fuck. Yoongi is so good at domming—coming up with plans, executing them flawlessly—that I didn’t consider at all what I would do once he submitted. 

Fuck! 

But there’s not a lot of time to worry about it, because my attention is totally consumed with Yoongi, who’s writhing under me. I had no idea what he saw when he looked at me, and it’s weirdly—really weirdly beautiful. Purple colors his skin, especially around his lips, and his eyes are hazy slits filled with tears as he looks up at me. What is he feeling? What is he thinking, if anything at all? 

My fingers loosen, just enough that Yoongi can take in a breath. Mouth open wide, he gasps in air, but doesn’t move otherwise. His fingers are shaking against my wrists. 

“Is it okay?” I ask, searching his eyes once he’s breathing normally. 

“See? Soft,” Yoongi rasps with a faint grin. 

“Well, I’m not going to just choke you out the first time you’re in this position.” 

“I did to you.” 

“Tch. Are you asking for it, Yoongi?” 

Eyes drifting to the side, Yoongi shrugs one shoulder. His face is still red, his breathing still rough. “So what if I am?” 

“Yoongi…” I nudge his chest, frowning. “Speak plainly. Do you want me to do that?” 

At first, there’s no answer. Yoongi keeps on staring at the wall, and I keep staring at him, trying to read the minute changes in his expression. Did he like it, or did he not? It was hard to tell anything except that he couldn’t breathe. I’ve never done this before...help me out, Yoongi. 

“I want you to, yes,” he says finally, looking back at me. “It was—different than I thought it would be? Do it again.” 

That’s all the answer I needed, though I still feel hesitant for some reason. Probably because this is my dom, and I’m definitely wading in unchartered territory. Yoongi is so strong and so demanding, it’s weird to see him lying on the floor telling me it’s okay if I choke him. After he lost a fight for dominance, no less. This isn’t my place, is it? I should be...I should definitely… 

“Hey,” Yoongi murmurs. “You wanted me like this, right? Don’t be scared. Just do what you want.” 

Suppose I can’t expect my first time domming to go perfectly. Swallowing down my nerves, I close my fingers tightly around Yoongi’s throat, feeling with my thumbs for his pulse. I cut that off, too—hard, my thumbs white from the pressure of trying to cut off Yoongi’s air as much as possible. 

“You—you look really good, you know?” I say, because I’m nervous, and just—telling him my thoughts might help? I don’t know! “You’re all helpless like this.” 

Something about that makes Yoongi sigh, a whisper-thin sound of pleasure that surprises me. Wait, has Yoongi subbed before? I suddenly, desperately want to know the answer to that, but I hold my tongue. I know he’s never been choked before, and I want to absorb as much of the experience as I can. Being the first one...wow. Is it because Yoongi trusts me that much? I sigh, too, my lids feeling heavy as I gaze at Yoongi. Watching his face color darker, his mouth open and his tongue poking out just the barest amount. I’m sure I can only hear it because of how quiet the house is, but...he’s. Moaning. So softly, so so breathlessly. 

Fuck. This is crazy. This is—I don’t know what this is. I dip my head down and lick against Yoongi’s tongue, drag my tongue across his lower lip, listening to him pant and moan, his breaths rasping. Fuck. I get it! I totally get what he likes about this. My fingers shake where I’m squeezing his neck, painfully, aching like I can’t believe—but I don’t care. My lips graze Yoongi’s jaw; I nibble up his ear, reveling in the low, wrecked moan he gives me in return. Everything is so fucking hot right now—our chests rising and falling to press together, this control he’s giving me, the way he paws at my hands as if he can’t help the instinct to survive. 

Hahhhahhhhhh—” Yoongi pants, so close to my ear that it ruffles my hair. “Please—”  

“You will address me as Sir,” I whisper, feeling ridiculous requesting such a thing, being a woman and all. That was dumb, right? Utterly stupid. That’s Yoongi’s— 

“Yes, Sir,” Yoongi pants, taking great heaving gasps between each word, no hint that he finds it stupid or comical. “P-please, hhhhharder—” 

God. Fuck. How much does Yoongi like this? I moan in his ear, willing my hands to squeeze his throat even tighter. Putting all my weight into it, until Yoongi literally chokes around a painful sounding gasp. His hips jostle my thigh, and I’m surprised that he’s still so hard. “Mm, baby, you sound like you feel really good,” I murmur. My thigh pushes back against him, and I shudder when Yoongi whines with what little voice he has. “Keep moving. Make yourself feel good.” 

So strange, having Yoongi just do it. Shakily, erratically, but he does it—grinding into my thigh, faster and faster, his moans silent save for the breath that he can hiss through his throat. This is a sight I don’t want to miss. As much as I love nibbling and licking his ear—so sensitive, apparently—I lean up so I can watch Yoongi’s face. Totally mesmerized. Every breath is a choked gasp, every second that passes by making his brows pitch more and more. I could get lost in this. Drunk on the feelings of control that have me in their grasp. 

How is Yoongi holding out so long? I moan right along with him, entranced at the sound of his stuttering, frenetic breaths. High-pitched moans—feather-light and delicate—tell me just how much he’s feeling it. 

“Do you want to cum?” 

Yes, S-sir.” 

“Then cum, baby boy.” 

It’s true—I’m soft. Not that I can really help it. There’s a world of difference between my experience and Yoongi’s. For the first time, this probably isn’t bad, right? 

I’m honestly amazed that Yoongi can get off just dry humping my knee, but I have a feeling the choking might be helping him along with it. I watch, intent, waiting—he’s close. So, so close. I have to time it right or he’ll maybe wind up with a ruined orgasm, and that would suck so much. 

If the timing is right, though… 

I wait until Yoongi’s breathing reaches a frantic pace; until he’s writhing so much, trying to moan but having no voice to do it with. That’s the moment when I let go, and his back arches off the floor, his breath ragged and gasping, his body trembling 

Did. Did I do it right? For a minute I’m worried that I fucked it up, trying to get him to experience orgasm in tandem with that feeling when the world rushes back after breath play. Nervous, I wait. 

Yoongi flops on the ground, breathing hard. As if waking from a dream, I remember—hey, my body is fucking ready. So consumed in making sure Yoongi enjoyed himself, I totally forgot to do anything for myself. Did I get that from him? It feels like everything else was taken out of the Yoongi Min playbook, and I blush a little—on top of the flush of arousal—thinking maybe I wasn’t original enough. 

“Fuck,” is all Yoongi says. 

“Good? You’re okay?” 

“Fuck yes.” 

“Good. Can I keep going?” 

“Anything you want.” 

If it weren’t the first time we’ve done this, I would be like him—make a fuss about saying ‘Sir.’ Whatever. Clearly, Yoongi is pretty fucked up. I’ll let it slide. No use punishing someone blissed out on endorphins from being choked. 

No time to waste, though. I crawl up Yoongi’s body, settling with my knees on either side of his face before lowering down. No commands should be necessary, I think, and I’m not disappointed. Fucked up or no, Yoongi doesn’t hesitate; I shudder the second his tongue is tracing my slit, dipping into my folds. Fuuuck how does it feel so good? And how does it feel even better with this strange sense of authority I feel, riding his mouth and forcing him to lick deep in my folds? Forcing my cunt down so that he has no choice but to worship my clit. My hand fists in his hair. I yank, pulling him so that his mouth is buried, grinding hard. 

Not worrying about Yoongi feels so weird, but if we swapped places, I know—from experience—that he would fuck into my throat mercilessly. Thinking about that even for a second brings me close to the edge. I hang there, both hands pulling painfully on Yoongi’s hair, and then I’m doubled over moaning through a release that shakes me to my core. 

Unlike usual, I feel totally alert. It’s Yoongi who’s totally gone, panting on the floor. The front of his jeans is wet with cum, his mouth and chin are a mess of my juices, and he looks so fucking good I wish I could ride him or something. I’m tired, though, tired in my bones. Sobering up and shaking still from release.  

This is the part where I have to really give it my all. I wish we weren’t on the floor, but there’s not much to be done about it. 

“Good boy,” I say, tentatively. Yoongi is heavy, but I lift him up to rest half in my lap and go about petting him the same way he always does for me. I kiss everywhere I can reach, pushing his hair aside and peppering kisses down his temple, to his mouth. What is it that Yoongi usually does for me? Water, blankets. Something to rest on that’s comfortable. Talking. Okay, I can do this. “Do you think you can move?” 

“Mm...yeah, I can.” 

God, he sounds so fucked up. 

Carefully, I rise, then help Yoongi up to half-carry him through the hall to the sitting room, where he climbs gratefully onto the couch. I dart to the kitchen for a glass of water, cursing myself for not having it ready, but carrying it back like my life depends on it. At the very least, like Yoongi’s safety depends on it. Blankets are the next priority—grabbed from the back of the couch and wrapped around him, which he regards with a muted curiosity, even as I draw him back into my arms to hold. 

“Water?” 

“Not yet. Throat hurts.” 

Yeah, I’ll bet it does. My arms wrap tighter around him; I nuzzle his hair, sighing happily. “You were so amazing. Wow…” I’m kind of gushing, but I can’t help it. “I wish you could have seen yourself. You were really, really amazing.” 

“Yeah?” 

“Yeah. Thank you, Yoongi. That was really just...amazing.” 

Though I hear nothing, I feel Yoongi’s shoulders shake in laughter. “How amazing?” 

“Soooo amazing. I think you’re basically perfect. So cute and so hot and so, so good.” 

“You really liked it?” 

“Aw, Yoongi. I loved it. What the heck! It was like a dream! Did I do okay? I wasn’t too hard on you?” 

“Mm...you were wonderful. You’ve really been paying attention.” I beam, unable to help myself. “Can I have a drink?” 

I pass the water over, and Yoongi takes a few short sips. “Is there anything you need me to do?” 

“Mm…next time, don’t worry about water right away. I need you here with me. 

Oof. Whoops. “Okay, I won’t. I’ll either have it ready or wait until you ask. Is that better?” 

“Yeah, that’s good. And...don’t let go at the end, next time? Just keep choking me. It’s more intense.” 

“Ooh. I really like that part...when everything comes rushing back, you know? That’s the best.” 

“It’s really good,” Yoongi agrees with a little laugh that’s just too fucking cute. “But I like it better when I’m still dizzy.” 

“You got it, babe. Next time you’ll really lose it.” 

“Ha. You sound so proud of yourself.” 

“Ehehe—well, I got to see you like that. Have you ever subbed before?” 

“No.” 

Wh—huh? What? Really? “I was your first?” 

“Mhm. Of course you were. You’re such a stubborn, rotten brat.” 

“Yoongi…” A grin spreads across my face. I was the first. He let me take control, and he didn’t even hesitate! Wow. “Why are you so wonderful?” 

“Shut up,” Yoongi mutters, but he’s smiling. A tiny little thing, but so beautiful I smile, too. “Sir,” he adds with a little laugh. 

“Was that lame?” 

“No. It’s very like you.” 

I’m struck, out of nowhere, with a weird feeling of emptiness. We’re just... sitting here, and I just dommed Yoongi, and everything feels perfect! What the hell! I snuggle even closer, trying to decipher what it means, where the hell it even came from. We talk normally—about limits, about things we want to try, and promises to not let it be a one-time thing, and still...I feel lost. 

Is it because of the conversation we had about Hoseok? 

No. No, that’s not it. I meant it—whatever happens between them, between us—I’m fine. 

The house? No. The trip in general? Definitely not. Then what? 

By the time I tuck Yoongi in for bed, I’m totally sober and lost in thought. He gives me a little kiss before letting me wrap all around him, confused as hell and a little shaken. 

It just came out of nowhere, but the longer I notice it, the more it gnaws at me. 

We’re happy, aren’t we? 

So why? 

Chapter Text

The weekend was perfect.

Between napping and gorging ourselves on wine and food—having amazing scenes where limits were pushed to beautiful oblivion, making love like two people who can’t remember anything but each other—something is wrong. A gaping black hole that took root in my chest and won’t stop until I’m dragged into a funk the likes of which I’ve rarely experienced. Yoongi, who’s so in tune with what my expressions and body language mean, gives me searching looks—but that’s it. He doesn’t ask. He doesn’t bother to talk about it with me, and that makes it even worse. By the time we’re back in San Francisco, I’m so shot I want to get away from him. Hide under my covers and see if I can cry it out, maybe let out the entire rollercoaster of emotions I’ve been feeling since that night.

I just can’t figure out what it is.

At least things can’t get worse. There’s no way they can get worse. That’s what I tell myself as Yoongi walks me up the stairs to my apartment, at one in the morning, carrying my bag and lethargic with exhaustion. I’m still sporting bruises on my butt and thighs, and after sitting on a plane for an hour, then in a car for another half hour, I can’t wait to lie face down and not feel my ass throb.

“You sure you want to spend the night alone?” Yoongi asks outside my door. I try to smile in light of his obvious disappointment, but I’m sure. Five days I’ve been stuck to Yoongi’s side, living and breathing nothing but him. A girl needs a break every once in a while.

“Yeah, I’m sure. I’ll see you in like, six hours. Go miss me for a while,” I laugh, reaching for the doorknob to unlock it. Home. Home!

“Wait.”

I look up, confused, but Yoongi isn’t looking at me. His eyes are on the door, a frown darkening his face. I follow his gaze, only then noticing that the wood around the lock looks. Weird. Splintered and kinda broken?

The door opens with nothing more than a soft push from Yoongi’s hand. My heart picks up in my chest—the lock is definitely broken. The door wasn’t even shut. How did I not notice? The knob clangs to the landing and bounces off down the stairs, echoing all the way down.

“What…”

I’m shaking. It’s just a coincidence, right? Maintenance came by and broke the door. That sounds like something they would do.

What if someone is in there?

“Hang on—I-I have mace in the—” I say, totally disoriented, pushing through the door.

“Don’t go in th—”

Something crashes. I jump into the wall with a terrified yell, and the light comes on. I look around wildly—Yoongi’s hand is on the switch. I stare at it, because what I saw in my split second of vision only makes my heart pound harder. Utter destruction is the only way to describe it. Couch ripped apart. Bean bag shredded. Our table and chairs and dishes, all broken.

I don’t want to see my room. I have a feeling all that fancy shit Emilia gave me didn’t fare any better.

“What the fuck,” I’m whispering, over and over, and I don’t realize it until Yoongi drags me out of my apartment looking…I don’t even know what. Worried? Scared? Like he’s going to fucking chop up whatever asshole did this? “Y-yoongi, what the fuck?”

“Probably just a burglary,” Yoongi mutters, but he doesn’t sound like he believes that. There’s no reason for a burglar to rip everything Emilia and I own apart! 

“Our TV is smashed, not stolen,” I say. My eyes are on the concrete landing. “Wh-what do I d-do? Y-yoongi—thank god Emilia isn’t—what the fuck—”

Wait. My—my—

Tearing out of Yoongi’s grip, I march straight back into my apartment. Tables, fuck, those can be replaced. Dishes and couches too. Over debris I walk, kicking things aside, ignoring Yoongi—who’s following after me, telling me to go back outside—until I reach my bedroom. There’s only one thing in this whole apartment I really give a shit about, and I know what I’m going to find, but that doesn’t stop me from pushing open the door and turning on the light.

Clothes are ripped and torn, jewelry pulverized, my laptop smashed, my tablet smashed, everything is smashed. A dead rat osnailed over my bed, oozing entrails down onto the mattress, telling me with no room for misinterpretation that this is the same person who fucking mailed me a dead rat two weeks ago.

And that’s not even the worst part. 

Maple is splintered and strewn across the floor. Shredded horsehair and a broken case greet me from my cello’s spot by the closet.

It’s with shaking hands I pick up my broken bow, the horsehair dangling pathetically from cracked ebony, and there’s just no way I can replace anything. Not with rent on this god forsaken apartment, not with student loans eating into my meager salary. 

Money isn’t the real issue, but that’s what I focus on, pushing down childhood memories of people and places I’ve left behind, experiences that I’ve had thanks to my most precious possession. If I think of all that, I’m going to break down right now, and nothing—not even Yoongi—will be able to pick up the pieces.

“It’s like someone came in with a hammer and let loose, isn’t it?” I ask, feeling like I should be surprised that I feel nothing, but not surprised at all. I push past Yoongi to go to Emilia’s room, thinking of the priceless things she’ll be devastated over, and stopping dead in my tracks once I’m inside.

Nothing. Not a single thing is out of place. 

It’s just me. And that’s when I snap.

I don’t remember screaming, or throwing the ruined bow still in my hand. I don’t remember leaving my apartment. I definitely don’t remember running, or Yoongi calling after me. I don’t remember anything but the cold feel of sand over my feet, the sound of the ocean roaring to the shore, the lights blurring and dancing in my vision. I don’t remember anything but that until I have Yoongi’s coat around my shoulders. Until I’m being walked back to my building, totally numb, where flashing blue and red blends into dizzying despair and there are questions, questions, questions that I have no answers to. Have I seen anyone suspicious, do I know someone who has a grudge, when did I leave, when did I get back, when this, when that, how, why, where, why, why, why?

I barely even remember Yoongi standing sentinel the entire time, face stony, hand shaking in mine. No, I don’t want to go to the station. No, I don’t have anywhere to go. No, my roommate isn’t home. No, I don’t think she has anything to do with this. No, she definitely has nothing to do with this, and no, I don’t know why her room was left untouched!

“I’ll take you to my place,” Yoongi says, an eternity later, when the sun is rising, painting Moraga St in pale pink and gold. I don’t want to go with Yoongi. I don’t have any particular reason, other than needing to process this. Needing to find the place I feel like my entire soul has disappeared to, so I can face Emilia, and face living another day not knowing what’s coming next.

“No, I’ll check into a hotel. I can afford it,” I say, blank, my voice coming from lightyears away.

“A hotel? No, come home with me. You can stay there—as long as you want. Forever.” I look at Yoongi and give a bitter laugh. What I would have given to be with him, always, hours ago.

“I’m not moving in with you.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t want to, Yoongi. What about Emilia? Can she move in too?” Silence. “Yeah, that’s what I thought. As convenient as an excuse this is to stick me in your penthouse, I’ll pass.”

“What the hell? I’m not—”

“I said no, Yoongi! Okay? Do you understand? I’m not coming with you.”

“Baby—”

“Go!” I don’t know where my anger is coming from. I have no idea about anything anymore. “Just go home! I’ll handle myself, okay? You don’t need to protect me.”

“Okay—okay, I know. You’re upset. It’s—no, it’s not okay, none of this is okay. But please, you’ll be safe—”

“Safe from what? Are you always going to be there, monitoring me? Will I be able to have one second alone, without you breathing down my neck?”

“Please. Please, I haven’t done anything. Please don’t take this out on me.”

“I’m not taking anything out on you, I’m telling you I don’t want to move in. Is that okay? Am I allowed to say that?”

Allowed? Of course you’re allowed!” Oh. Yoongi looks angry. Go figure, I’m disobeying. Right? Because I’m a brat, or whatever. I supposed to just do what he says.

The thing is, I know that I’m being unreasonable. I know that. I should go with him, but I can’t do that, not if it means leaving Emilia in the lurch. What if I go, and he doesn’t let me leave? What if I decide to stay, because that’s what he wants, and he thinks he can have me and not even tell me how he feels because—because why?!

“I think we need some time apart,” I hear myself say, emotionless. Yoongi looks like I’ve slapped him in the face. He’s reaching for me. I push his hand away. I don’t know why, but I’m afraid. Afraid of what will happen if I go to him now, stripped bare and more vulnerable that I’ve ever been. “Go home, Yoongi. Just go.”

“Are you sure?” I should hate myself for how fucking sad he sounds, but all I do is nod. “Will you call me tonight?” Again, I nod. “Promise me. Don’t hide away.”

“I promise.”

“Can I at least book you a room?”

“Sure. Yeah, that’s fine. Thank you.”

In total silence, we drive to the Regis. The room is put on Yoongi’s card, and I hate even that. Two grand a night—fuck him. Fuck all of this. This insane nightmare started the second we started dating. The realization hits me like a freight train, and for the first time since last night, something sparks in my chest.

That’s right. The package was sent almost as soon as Yoongi and I agreed to be exclusive.

And Yoongi isn’t stupid. I watch him sign away two grand like it’s nothing, feeling bile rise in my throat. He’s noticed, too. There’s no way he hasn’t.

We kiss goodbye. I go to my room. I sit on the bed. I see nothing. I feel nothing. Yoongi knows. He probably thinks I don’t yet.

But I do.

My phone is in my hand before I process it, and I’m typing away.

To Hobi☀️

where are you

 

Hobi☀️

sleeping in

it’s a holiday

 

To Hobi☀️

at home?

 

Hobi☀️

yup

 

To Hobi☀️

dont leave

 

With that, I leave the hotel to call a Muber, and I’m off, looking over my shoulder the whole time. Am I being followed? Is there anyone weird around? Is that black car something I should worry—? No, it turned onto Embarcadero.

What is happening?

What is happening?

Hobi☀️

????

is everything ok

are you ok

are you coming over

???

i'm starting to get worried, please answer

 

I can’t bring myself to type. I stare out the window instead, suspicious of every car, suspicious of every person that meets my eyes. They could be anywhere. They could be anyone. For all I know it could be Yoongi or Hoseok fucking with me, but I trust my gut feeling—neither of them would do this to me. I feel guilty for even thinking it, and silently apologize to both of them.

Bile is again rising in my throat, but I take deep breaths through my nose while scenery goes by. I’m at Hoseok’s in what feels like a second and eternity at the same time: running up the front steps, ringing the doorbell trying to pull myself together before he opens the door. I don’t have that luxury; Hoseok was waiting, and the door flies open with him looking panicked, but that’s all I can take in. Tears blur my vision and I throw myself into his arms, sobbing and babbling about what happened and all the horrible things I said to Yoongi. I can’t calm down, I can’t breathe. I’m going to suffocate on my own sobs, trying so hard to focus on Hoseok’s presence but not seeing or hearing or feeling a damn thing.

What have I done that’s so awful? Fallen in love with Yoongi? Who the fuck would care so much about something like this. Nothing comes to mind—no explanation, no rational understanding—because this is pure, unadulterated madness.

Only when I feel my breathing slow down do I realize how hard Hoseok is shaking, or hear his soft sniffles. Again, guilt overtakes me, and I’m apologizing around hiccups and cries, but he holds me. Steady. Lifts me up and carries me while I cling to him, afraid of what will happen if I let go. Hoseok’s arms might be the only thing holding me together at this point, and I selfishly take all of it, realizing—with utter defeat—that I finally feel safe. Not in the hotel earlier, not with Yoongi demanding I move in like this is how I want our relationship to progress—with Hoseok. 

Oh, I’m the worst. Just fucking horrible, running to Hoseok instead of sitting down with Yoongi and coming up with a plan for what to do. An insane urge to just fuck Hoseok and get it over with, get it out of my system, springs into my head. I could just forget, couldn’t I? But I hate myself for that thought. This isn’t how I want to come onto Hoseok, either. Yoongi and I already decided.

Morning bleeds into afternoon. I haven’t been able to calm myself, just cling to Hoseok while he rubs my back and pets my hair, giving me gentle encouragement the entire time. I fall into a fitful sleep filled with dead, mutilated rodents, and wake to the scent of coffee filling the room.

Where am I, anyway? Blearily, I look around. It must be a guest bedroom. Soft yellow greets me with bright splashes of grass green and turquoise, and then my gaze falls on Hoseok. He’s lying next to me. Watching me.

Have I gotten it all out? Can we talk?

Tears fall down my cheeks. I guess not.

“Should I call Yoongi?” Hoseok asks. I shake my head. No, not yet. “He’s asking me if I know where you are. He went to your hotel room—”

“Fuck,” I hiccup, dissolving into tears all over again. My phone must be blowing up, too. I sob thinking of Yoongi all alone, terrified about where I’ve gone. Terrified something has happened. I dig in my pocket to check my messages.

Yoongi💖

Where did you go?

I’m at the hotel. The concierge says you left as soon as I did. What’s going on? Where are you?

Please, baby. Please message me.

I’m begging, here. Please just tell me you’re okay.

Hobi isn’t answering me either.

Are you with him?

Are you safe? Please.

I’m going to lose my mind, please answer.

Please.

 

Yoongi is typing, but the dots pause and fade away. I guess he sees the read receipts. I shiver, then type out the only message that makes sense anymore.

To Yoongi💖

im safe

can you have namjoon put my things in a box? ill pick them up in a few days

sorry

im so sorry

dont text me anymore

just go away

 

Yoongi💖

No.

No, baby girl, don’t do this. We can wo

we can work througgh it

where are you

I’m coming to see you right now.

just stay calm please let’s talk aboht this

 

To Yoongi💖

goodbye yoongi

your wonderful

really

but i cant do this

goodbye

 

“Hey.”

My phone is going off a mile a minute, but I just can’t anymore. I turn it off and toss it aside, looking at Hoseok. “What’s up?”

“You can stay here if you want to. I have two studios out back—it’s no problem. I’ll take you to work.”

“I quit,” I say, like it’s no big deal.

“What? You—?”

“Oh, Hobi. Isn’t it obvious? Whoever is doing this is doing it because I’m close to Yoongi.”

I expect Hoseok to look surprised, or insist that’s crazy, but his expression only darkens. “You’ve thought that too, huh?”

“Well…yeah. The timing is too close to be a coincidence,” I sigh. Single and jobless. Welcome back, old me!

Fuck.

It was all too good to be true, wasn’t it? Finding my place, growing into myself, finding love? What a joke. Why would that happen to me? Me, who is so unremarkable, so plain, so nobody.

“There’s a reason Yoongi never dates,” Hoseok says in a growl.

“Has this happened before?”

“No. Not like this. It’s never been like this,” Hoseok amends quickly, looking panicked. “Trust me, he wouldn’t have—he would never bring you into a situation like this knowingly. She’s never gone this crazy before.”

“She?”

That’s—that’s right. It clicks into place so fast! There is someone, isn’t there? Someone who knows the details, someone who knows me, someone who has an unhealthy obsession with Yoongi. How did I not see it before? I swallow.

“Lucie? Is it Lucie, Hoseok?” I ask, not even distracted by his phone suddenly blowing up on the nightstand. I lean close to him, my hands braced on his thighs.

“I don’t have any proof, but I’d bet a lot that she’s the one doing this. How does she know about you two?” Hoseok looks puzzled by that, frowning deeply.

“Yoongi told her,” I say, blank. He told her, and apparently she wouldn’t work with him anymore. He really had no idea that it might turn out this way? “And then a day later…”

“One day? What the hell…” Hoseok looks…alarmed, yes. But also resigned? Like, what the hell? What the hell has Lucie done that anyone could be completely unsurprised? Come to think of it, before I met her, everyone seemed scared for me then, too. And—and? Didn’t someone say that Lucie always gets weird when Yoongi hires new assistants? I swear I remember someone saying that. “Damn it, hang on. He won’t stop messaging me until I answer.”

Right. Hoseok’s phone is still vibrating like crazy. Yoongi must be freaking out. My heart feels frozen in my chest; I haven’t forgotten how devastated he looked earlier, when I told him to go. When I told him I wouldn’t move in with him. I want to know what Yoongi is saying; I want so badly to know that I stare at Hoseok’s hands, burning a metaphorical hole in them.

“You broke up with Yoongi?”

My head jerks up. Oh. Right. I did do that, didn’t I? I nod, silent, trying to will myself not to cry. I’ve cried so much today, fallen apart until exhaustion swept me under, and still—somehow—I’m not finished. Thinking about how much Yoongi is probably panicking, how much I’ve hurt him—after already hurting him this morning—is breaking me down all over again. It’s the right decision. It has to be! The alternative is staying with Yoongi and letting this escalate until Lucie fucking kills me, right? Because rich people, powerful people, they don’t face consequences for their actions. Lucie is totally untouchable, and I’m just a poor girl that can’t do anything at all.

This is so unfair. I can’t even bring myself to hate Lucie, yet, too busy grieving for myself and everything I lost in less than a day. 

All of that, and I still have to text Emilia. She won’t be back for a few days, and I’ll have to talk to my landlord about breaking the lease, and—

None of that winds up being what I do. With Hoseok’s hand rubbing my back, I just cry myself to sleep, again. Hoseok stays—I wake up to grab water, or adjust position, not sure why I can’t just stay the fuck asleep, why I can’t just have some peace. It’s the worst day of my life—literally. No melodrama. No exaggeration. Hoseok is there every time, either snoozing lightly or petting my hair, watching. Giving me weak smiles in the moments it takes me to fall back asleep.

Maybe eventually, I’ll wake up and it will have all been a dream.

Chapter Text

At first, I’m not sure what wakes me up.

The guest bedroom is dark, night having fallen outside. Did I really sleep all day? I feel weary to my bones, like I haven’t slept in years. How is it possible to still feel this bad? 

Hoseok isn’t with me anymore, I discover when I reach for him. My hand lands on an empty mattress, and somehow that hurts so bad that I don’t dare get up for how I’m shaking. Not that I have any right to expect him to just drop his life for me, who so selfishly came over to do nothing but cry all over him about my own stupid problems. Half-tempted to reach for my phone, I sit up all the way and peel back the blankets to see if I can find wherever I threw it on the bed, but once I do, I realize that there are voices right outside the door. 

“Of course I know that,” Yoongi is saying, clear as day. My heart clenches in my chest, then starts pounding like mad. “You’re both free to do whatever you want, with or without me.” 

What does that even mean? I sit up, on my knees. Should I tell them I’m awake? Should I interrupt them before I hear something I’m not supposed to? 

“You couldn’t say any of this two months ago?” Hoseok asks. “You’re such a coward.” 

“I know. I’m sorry.” 

“What am I supposed to do now? You two fell apart, she’s a mess, and I sure as hell don’t want to be either of your rebounds!” 

Oh my god? Oh my god. Yoongi just—he told Hoseok? About how he feels? I sink back down to the bed, a wave of emotions going through me. Weren’t we going to talk together—? No, that was the plan while I was—while we were still together. I can’t say anything now about how Yoongi chose to go about it, I realize. He has every right to tell Hoseok how he feels. 

Not how I feel, though. What the hell! How can Yoongi even be thinking about that, considering everything that just happened? It’s anger that gets me out of bed; anger that walks me to the door, which I throw open. Bright light hits my eyes and I snarl, like an angry cat, taking in the two people who so rudely woke me up with talk about whether or not they should bang. 

“You’re awake,” Hoseok says, his eyes widening. Yoongi looks at me, expressionless, and I’m so livid that I walk straight to him and push his chest. Just once, and not very hard, but yeah—not my best moment. I don’t fight when Yoongi takes hold of my wrists, just stand there glaring. 

“Wait,” Yoongi says, with so much authority to his voice that I don’t even think about disobeying. “We’re going to talk. That’s all I’m asking. I deserve at least that much.” 

“Answer me, then,” I reply, and if he refuses—I’m done. Absolutely, irrevocably done. “And don’t lie. Did you think it could be Lucie?” 

“I suspected that it might be, but I wasn’t sure.” 

“Why didn’t you tell me?” 

“Because I didn’t think it would escalate like this. I didn’t want to scare you.” 

I glare at Yoongi, seething and ready to cry. Like not talking to me about it wound up making things less scary! Idiot! 

“Please, believe me. I never dreamed she could…that she would…” Yoongi looks away, his lip quivering. His eyes shining way too bright. Shit. Yoongi—crying? What?! Shit! No! Tension leaves my body in a wave; I want to hug him so badly, but I’m not ready to just accept things as they are. Not yet. Everything is too crazy, too fucked up. 

“Then we’ll talk,” I concede, allowing Yoongi and Hoseok to take me back into the bedroom. The three of us pile on the bed I just vacated; I lay in Hoseok’s lap, watching Yoongi wordlessly. A curious look passes over his face—something like irritation. Probably because I’m draped on his best friend after breaking up with him, which I didn’t honestly think about. I just need the comfort Hoseok gives me so easily, just by being there. 

Whatever Yoongi is thinking, he decides to let it go without saying anything, which I appreciate. It makes me feel a little more receptive; a little less hostile. I rest my hand on his knee. A bridge between us, just a small one. 

I’m here. 

“I was being unreasonable this morning,” Yoongi starts, and that’s so far from what I expected him to say that I make a questioning noise without meaning to. “Emotions were high. I wanted to fix the problem right then and there, and I pushed you to a decision I wanted you to make instead of asking you what you needed. I’m sorry.” 

“Me too,” I say, after several seconds of silence, in which I have to swallow my pride and accept that Yoongi—while he might not have been honest with me—wouldn’t ever deliberately hurt me. If he’s here, crying in front of me, apologizing right now in front of Hoseok, then he must really be sorry. He’s not the only one who acted like a jerk. I have an excuse, sure; my world was turned upside down. I was terrified. And so was he. “I was scared. I don’t know, I’m afraid that if I move in now, especially while I’m so fucking scared, I’ll just stay. And I don’t know if I want that! I can’t make that decision right now, and you kept pushing me.” 

“I know. I just wanted to make it better, but I made it worse.” 

Is it weird having this conversation in front of Hoseok? I look up at him, and he’s watching us both intently, a somber expression on his usually sunny face. Why is he sitting here? As if reading my thoughts, he smiles weakly. “I can go.” 

“No.” I shake my head. “It’s fine. I have a feeling we’re all at least a little invested in you being here, right now.” 

“We don’t have to talk about that,” Hoseok says, gentle. “Not when everything is a mess.” 

“It’s up to you,” Yoongi agrees. I look back at him, settling back down on Hoseok’s lap. Up to me, huh. On one hand, it’s kind of absurd that they’re even in the mood to talk about it? But on the other, when our lives are so wrapped up in the situation that’s unfolding—when we’re so wrapped up with each other, sharing all of this together—it makes sense. The last of my anger fades away. I’d rather talk about us than Lucie fucking Mercier. 

Right. Lucie. 

“What did she do, Yoongi?” I ask, preparing myself for the possibility that he won’t answer. Hoseok growls behind me, a sound so cold the hair raises on the back of my neck. “What the hell did she do to you?” 

“She…” Yoongi looks away, like he’s literally searching for the words. 

“She fucking abused you is what she did,” Hoseok spits, and I’ve never heard him sound so angry in my life. Not even when I thought he was going to murder us over the whole blowjob incident. “Why won’t you just say it? You’re never going to move on if you don’t accept it.” 

“It’s not that simple,” Yoongi deflects. I feel my heart beating in my chest, a hollow drum with chaotic rhythm. 

“The hell it isn’t. She’s a monster. This shit she’s doing—” 

“We don’t know it’s her—” 

“Will you stop defending her?! This? This isn’t even the worst. It’s not going to get better, Yoongi! Not until you take control of the situation!” 

“Calm down, Hobi,” I say, interrupting their argument. I don’t know how to make it better, but I can’t just let Yoongi sit there by himself—I tug him toward us, so that we’re both lying on Hoseok, my arms wrapped around Yoongi’s shoulders. “It’s okay, Yoongi. You don’t have to right now.” 

“Hobi’s right, I have to face it someday.” 

At what cost? But I don’t want to sway him in either direction. Opening up about it is his decision, not mine. 

And then Yoongi talks. I learn how he met Lucie in the early days of 3 Point—when it was just a keyboard and a computer in one of Hobi’s studios— and how she took a liking to him, 21 and clueless about the world. Lavished him with gifts: a car, a house, Gucci and Alejandro McQueen, Nolexes. How she helped him guide his company and traded his time for personal favors, most of them sexual. 

He was so in love. Convinced he found someone who believed in him and loved him. 

And then the cheating began. Weekends in the French Riviera and Tahiti and the Caribbean with other men, expensive gifts for her many side pieces and sugar babies, walking in on her in their shared bed with a new person every other week. The more Yoongi tried to distance himself, the more Lucie sank her claws into him, holding money over his head, threatening to ruin him before he’d had a chance to make it. 

I learn that she fed him booze to keep him complacent, crippling him. Pushed him around, hit him, and demanded more and more sex with nothing in return anymore. Left him during panic attacks and mocked his self-harm. 

I learn that Yoongi crashed the car she gave him trying to end it once and for all, and she showed up at the hospital to ask for a check.  

Worst of all, I learn that in an effort to keep it all quiet, he continued his sexual relationship with her for nine years. Until he fell in love with Hoseok. 

We’re all crying by the time Yoongi stops talking, laying in a pile on the bed while Hoseok and I hug Yoongi between us as hard as we dare. I kiss him all over, and then Hoseok is kissing him too, and Yoongi shakes so hard I worry he’ll have another panic attack. Breath ragged, he lets everything out, and we fall silent save for the three of us sniffling. 

I’ll kill her, I think, quivering with rage, my mouth bitter with hatred. For every sin she committed against Yoongi, for every ounce of pain he ever felt, and for me; for the life we should be able to have together. For his happiness. 

“Don’t leave,” Yoongi whispers. “Please don’t go. I can’t stand it if I lose you, not because of her.” 

“I’m sorry,” I whisper back, shaking even harder now. I said so many things I regret, disconnected from everything but the fear that had taken hold of me. “I’m not going anywhere. I’ll never disappear again.” 

I watch Yoongi’s eyes move to Hoseok, who’s been so patient with us. Who’s let us work through our situation that has so little to do with him, offering support and comfort. I know what’s going to happen, even though they’re just frozen, looking at each other like they’re not sure what to do. I’m okay with this—more than okay. There’s still a whole host of things to sort out, feelings to wade through. Boundaries to set. Right now, though, I don’t care. 

Heart beating like mad, I watch Yoongi tilt his head. Hoseok just waits, like he won’t believe it until Yoongi takes the last step. 

“Yoongi, it’s okay,” I say, and his eyes move to me, before settling again on Hoseok. Just a few inches—a few centimeters—and Yoongi’s lips graze Hoseok’s once. Twice. Hoseok’s breath shakes, then they’re kissing in earnest, and I feel like I could cry from relief. They’re so beautiful together, mouths moving as if their lives depend on it, and I can’t just sit here watching like this. With their mouths occupied I get up on my knees to lean over Hoseok; I kiss a line up his bicep, nuzzle his shoulder, and when I look up he’s just there, so close and breathing like he’s sprinted a mile. Yoongi’s hand is in my hair. He pushes my head forward, toward Hoseok, and I shiver when his kiss-reddened lips meet mine. Sweetly and cautiously, like he’s still not sure if this is real. 

Our movements grow surer by the second, until I feel weak with how intensely I’m being kissed. Is Yoongi watching? Does he like it? I groan, then, Yoongi pulling me by the hair away from Hoseok to capture my mouth for his own. I’m quickly overwhelmed, lost in how warm and right this feels. Shivers cascade through me as Hoseok focuses his attention on my jaw, down my neck toward my collarbone. Yoongi takes the other side, nibbling down my pulse, my breaths panted to the open air. I’ve done so many crazy things with Yoongi, but this feels like nothing else I’ve experienced. I’m sandwiched between them, our legs tangled up together, Hoseok  kissing every inch of available space while Yoongi coaxes me flush against him, his teeth driving me wild. 

But it’s not the right time for sex. We all know it, and eventually I feel Hoseok leaning his forehead on my shoulder, Yoongi breaking away to look at me with fire in his eyes. 

I wish we could just enjoy it. This new discovery. The potential. The possibilities. 

“It feels wrong to do this when…” Hoseok breaks the silence, muffled against my skin. “What are we doing? And if you say kissing, Yoongi, I swear to god.” 

“We have feelings for you, you know that.” 

“Both? Or just you, Yoongi?” 

“Hobi,” I say, knowing that I have to be honest. “I don’t know. I think in time, I can. I want to try, and I want you and Yoongi to…”  

“To what?” Hoseok presses. 

“Be allowed to be in love. I know you both think this is awful for me, but it’s not. I want Yoongi to be happy, and I’m not the only person who can make it happen. The same goes for you.” 

I rearrange myself to lie on my back, looking between them. They’re both looking at me expectantly, and I try to smile encouragingly. If Hoseok and Yoongi can have something together, I don’t want to be the reason they have to push it away. That’s all there is to it. 

“But I know what you mean. With the day we’ve had, making out like that sounds just about like the most ridiculous thing, right?” Hoseok nods, looking intent as I speak. I focus on him, because I can see that he’s struggling. “But that woman has already taken so much. What right does she have to take this, too?” 

“None at all,” Yoongi chimes in, his voice low and breathless. “If you’ll have me, I’ll be yours.” 

“So will I,” I say, softly. It’s the right decision, I know it is. “I’ll catch up. Just wait for me a little longer.” 

“Okay,” Hoseok agrees, his voice shaking. “I have no idea what we’re doing, but okay.” 

“We’re kissing, Hobi,” Yoongi chides him. Hoseok laughs uncertainly. Fingers trace down my arm, to my hip, then skate over to Yoongi’s thigh, moving upward. I watch Hoseok explore—Yoongi’s shirt is pushed up, exposing his cute belly, and Hoseok splays his hand over it, then moves up to his chest. 

“Is this real?” Hoseok asks nobody in particular, with a voice so tiny and breathless I can’t stop myself from grabbing his face and kissing him, hard. God. It feels so good to do this. So, so good to be able to touch him with Yoongi right beside me, I can’t believe we waited so long. 

True, Yoongi wasn’t in the right mindset. Scared, confused. I wish we could have done this another way, but I’m not sure if we were capable of it. 

Thoughts about Lucie, and what we’re going to do, linger in the background. Everything feels delicate, like our bubble might break any moment now, but a sigh draws my attention to Yoongi. His back is arched, pushing his chest into Hoseok’s hand. Pink paints his cheeks, his eyes closed. “Hobi, if you touch me like this…” 

We both know, though. We don’t have to be told. I watch Hoseok’s hand move under Yoongi’s shirt, imagining the path that his fingers must be taking. Rubbing around Yoongi’s nipple, teasing it. Yoongi groans quietly. What I said about this not being the right moment? I might be a filthy liar. 

“Hobi, please,” Yoongi whispers. 

I join the assault. Lifting Yoongi’s shirt, I dip my head down so I can pepper kisses over Yoongi’s chest, my tongue darting out to circle him, my lips closing over the hard little nub. A high-pitched moan passes his lips, and his hips roll to press his half-hard cock into my belly.  

Fuck it, right? Confirmation is what we need right now. Something solid, concrete, to tell us how to go forward. Part of it might be desire to just get away from every ugly thing that’s happened in recent weeks, but is that really so bad? There are way more unhealthy ways to cope with this. Fuck it. 

Somehow, I wind up with Yoongi rutting into my hips on one side, Hoseok on the other. They work together—each of them petting me, their hands sliding down my stomach, shoving my skirt down. Weren’t we attending to Yoongi? Isn’t he the one—? 

No, it’s me. I’m the one that’s in the middle of all this, coming in blind and shoving myself between them both. It’s only natural that they should both come at me like this: Hoseok sliding his hand down under the waistband of my panties, Yoongi pushing the panel of fabric aside. I’m hit all at once by two sets of fingers exploring my folds, my voice stolen from me in a rough groan. Overwhelmed completely, I can’t do anything but lie there and take it. Hoseok’s fingers tease my clit while Yoongi’s push inside me. 

“Isn’t she cute, Hobi?” Yoongi’s voice startles me, and I throw a hand over my face that gets pushed away before I can properly hide. 

“She’s so, so cute,” Hoseok agrees. “And she sounds so good.” 

“What do you want to do to her?” 

Guys! Guys, you’re killing me! I want to protest, but Yoongi curls his fingers inside of me and I don’t have a chance; my back arches, my thighs shaking. 

“I…” Hoseok says from behind me. “I don’t know.” Yoongi hums. 

“Have you thought about it?” 

“I, uh. Yeah, a little,” Hoseok answers, shyness coloring his voice. My body heats up even more. Of course Hoseok must have thought about me in that way, but hearing him confirm it is something else entirely. What kinds of things does Hoseok think about? Is he kinky like Yoongi? I doubt it, somehow; he approaches me totally differently, somehow being so gentle despite having wanted this for how long? 

“Hobi,” I murmur. I turn my head so that our eyes can meet, and he looks away from me. “What do you think about?” 

“That’s so embarrassing… “ Hoseok protests. “D-do you really want to know?” 

“Yes,” Yoongi and I say at the same time. 

“Oh. Well…”  Hoseok flounders a little. “I think about. Making you feel good, and uh…” 

didn’t expect Hoseok to be so shy. “Do you want to know what I’ve thought about?” Hoseok nods, swallowing audibly. I glance at Yoongi, who smiles at me. 

“Go ahead, baby girl,” he murmurs. 

Shivering from just hearing that nickname, I reach behind to feel for the waistband of his pants. “Off with these,” I instruct Hoseok, who takes a few seconds before he complies, but they come off and we’re skin to skin, with Hoseok’s dick pressed tight against my ass. 

This isn’t going at all how I saw it. In my fantasies, I imagined they’d be all over each other, unable to stop pawing each other and kissing long enough that I would get half of their attention. Instead, I’m taking charge of Hoseok while Yoongi watches us quietly, idly touching himself with his hand down his sweatpants. I feel a bit like I’m putting on a show for him like this, and if I’m going to do that, shouldn’t he be able to see everything? 

“Lay on your back,” I say to Hoseok, only moving once I’m sure I won’t elbow him in the face or something. From my new position straddling his thighs, I’m able to look down and see everything: his  defined shoulders and chest, crowned with little brown nipples. A little further down his cock lies, hard and proud on his flat tummy, looking so thick and hot that I feel hunger. I want it in my mouth; I want to swallow him down and taste his cum, but m y eyes move to Yoongi, who’s not being subtle at all about where he’s looking. His eyes are nearly black with lust. I never thought I’d see him make that face over someone else’s body, but it stokes a gentle fire in me. We all want this. 

“What are you going to do to him, baby girl?” Yoongi drawls, our eyes meeting now. 

“I don’t know where to start,” I say, but I’m grinning. I feel that same odd, fleeting twinge of power that I felt in LA. Like everything is mine for the taking. “Don’t you just want to wrap your lips around that cock?” 

I accentuate my words by trailing my finger up the ridge of Hoseok’s dick, feeling him—just barely. His hips rise, but that’s all I want to give him for now. I’m way more interested in something else. 

“Mm, yeah,” Yoongi agrees, over a groan from Hoseok. “Should I?” 

“I think you should.” 

“You two are awful,” Hoseok groans, but he doesn’t have much of an opportunity to continue on that train of thought. Not with Yoongi’s tongue flicking over him, tasting him. I can read the curiosity in Yoongi’s movements—how he licks Hoseok slowly, little kisses placed at random, much the same as the first  blowjob I gave him. 

Fuck. Yoongi has never done this before, has he? I watch him with rapt attention, my hands moving up and down the insides of Hoseok’s thighs, just letting myself experience this. They look so good together; Yoongi wrapping his lips around Hoseok’s length, Hoseok’s back arching off the bed with his head thrown back and eyes squeezed shut, panting. 

“Does our Hobi taste as good as he looks?” I ask, delighting in a moan from Hoseok’s lips. Which part did he like more? That I called him ours, or my insinuation that he must taste good? 

“Better,” Yoongi replies, a little hum in the split second his mouth leaves Hoseok. He’s back on it in another second, taking more into his mouth, his cheeks hollowed and his head bobbing. 

“Mm, I don’t want to take your word for it.” 

Which is how I wind up settling between Hoseok’s thighs, my tongue dancing over what Yoongi hasn’t swallowed for himself. The reactions we get are amazing; Hoseok trembles under us, rutting up into our mouths with low moans that urge us on. Should we let him cum like this? I want more than that, but I know he feels really good—our names spill from his lips, a mantra tantamount to the pleasure we’re giving him. 

“I-is this real?” Hoseok’s voice is totally wrecked. Our eyes meet. He’s looking at us like he can’t believe what’s happening, his lip caught between his teeth and red fanned over his pretty face. “It’s not a d-dream, right?” 

Neither of us answer. I, for one, don’t want to pull my mouth away long enough to talk. These sounds and sights are too good to give up now. 

Yoongi only hums. We’re probably feeling the same way, attacking in tandem like this. 

“W-wait—” Hoseok gasps, and I can feel how tightly he’s wound. His trembling thighs are tense under my hands. Is he close? He must be close, I think. “Wait, what about—mmh, what about you?” 

What about us? I almost ask, but there’s no need. Of course Hoseok wants to make us feel good, too. But I’m having fun! My tongue slides over his balls, licking all around him, and I really love how he shudders. Stopping now would be a real shame. Especially because Yoongi has found his rhythm, taking Hoseok deep in his mouth, drawing back to sloppily lick away saliva and pre, his eyes closed in concentration. Damn, no one ever told me how hot it would he to watch my boyfriend blow someone. Even something as small as Hoseok’s fingers tangled in Yoongi’s hair has me feeling like I’m burning up. 

“Yoongi,” I murmur, but he doesn’t stop. I don’t want to stop him, either, not when he looks so content sucking Hoseok off, and Hoseok is melting under us, rapidly, his breaths labored and his moans a constant hum in the background. There’s plenty of time for other things, I reason, so I don’t follow that thought. Instead, I lean back down; Hoseok twitches under our mouths, and I know he’s close. 

“Fuck,” Hoseok pants above us. I feel his other hand land on my hair, his fingers squeezing. I don’t expect what happens next—for Yoongi to get up, or for him to put on a condom and lie over me, entering me while I mouth along Hoseok’s cock, intent on drawing it out a little more. My moans join in with Hoseok’s, and it’s harder, now, to focus on him, but I do my best: taking him in my mouth, licking all around him, inhaling his scent and letting the taste of him spread over my tongue. He really does taste good—and Yoongi feels so good inside me, thrusting lazily while he speaks in a low, rough voice. 

“Ahh, you two look so good. Do you like her mouth, Hobi?” 

“Y-yes,” Hoseok whimpers, his hips bucking. “Feels so good—” 

“Just wait until you’re deep inside her,” Yoongi drawls, and it’s my turn to groan, overwhelmed. “She feels so good, Hobi, so so good. Or would you rather be inside me?” 

“Both,” Hoseok answers, his voice cracking. I brace myself, my own body starting to shake with mounting pleasure. This is so, so hot—but at the same time, it feels so soft and intimate. “Want you both, mm—I’m gonna—” 

“You’ve held out so long,” Yoongi murmurs. “Just let go.” 

Hoseok lets out a long, low moan, spilling in my mouth at the same time I feel my own pleasure come to a head. We tumble down together, and then Yoongi is moving faster—pounding me in earnest, swearing quietly, chasing us over the edge and collapsing on my back. 

Quiet falls on the room, save for our deep breathing. We tangle together to keep kissing, keep touching each other, but there’s no energy for more. I think we’ll sleep, then; that we’ll let ourselves rest, and pick up where we left off tomorrow. 

“So,” Hoseok says around a yawn, stretching. “Who wants dinner?” 

Chapter Text

As much as I wanted to sleep the rest of the day away, there were too many things to do for me to justify it. Too many difficult things that I need to be finished so that I can just breathe and feel like myself again.

First is a text to Emilia. It’s the middle of the night in France, something like two or three, so I don’t have to jump into all the details right away. I don’t have to immediately tell her about Lucie, or that I’m probably being targeted, or that I’ll probably be much safer if only a few people know where I am. What has my life even become? Off hiding in someone else’s house, forced into a corner with no idea when it will end or if we’re even right in assuming it’s Lucie. 

I mean—it must be, right? Who else could it be? The thought that it isn’t Lucie is even more terrifying than the idea than it is. At least if it’s her, we can handle it. Somehow. 

Next is my landlord, the thing I should have done first being as my apartment is an uninhabitable crime scene and all. Yoongi insists I break the lease, and I don’t have any real argument for it. I can never go back there, not with what’s happened. 

It feels sketchy, agreeing with Yoongi that he can pay off the fee for breaking the lease if our landlord is unreasonable. It feels even weirder agreeing that I can move in with Hoseok—in one of the studios he has out back, free of charge—and that Emilia is free to take the other. I know Hoseok just misses having people around, and that he’ll be glad to have us, but I still feel a bit like I’ve taken advantage of them somehow. 

To Emilia

hobi offered to let us stay in his spare studios

i took the smaller one

here are some pics

im sorry about all of this

were going to move your stuff here for the time being

just so we dont lose it to an actual burglar 

Sigh. I sit at the dining room table, my thoughts jumping around at breakneck speed: Emilia off in France, getting these messages and being terrified; what the future means now that I’m one-third of a couple instead of one half, and do you even call a 3-person relationship a couple? Can I actually fall in love with Hoseok, or is this all just wishful thinking? 

This is so unfair. Just like I predicted, it’s hard to be excited about anything new, and only worries fill my mind. What if Yoongi and Hoseok like each other more than they like me? What if they decide they don’t need me? What if I’m not in love with Yoongi at all, just a stupid little girl that’s being taken advantage of by my former boss? And then there’s my apartment. There are seven months left on our lease. What if our landlord doesn’t care? What if Yoongi has to pay for seven months worth of rent? Not that he’d miss it at all, but what if he resents me? 

I try not to think about it. Hoseok and Yoongi are ten feet away, making dinner for the three of us, talking quietly amongst themselves. I watch them for a while; Hoseok busies himself chopping vegetables, while Yoongi mixes up a marinade and pours it over some beef. How domestic they are together, but even that doesn’t really lift my spirits. 

Am I being too hard on myself? Do I have to be happy, just because of what happened between the three of us? 

No time to ponder that, apparently; my phone vibrates, and my heart drops into my stomach. 

Landlord

u can break the lease but u will owe the remaining rent per ur contract 

Great. Just fucking fantastic. Are landlords actually the worst kind of people there are? Probably! But what am I even going to do? Tell him no and wind up with a lawsuit? Ha. Ha ha ha— 

The look on my face must be pretty sour, because Yoongi pads across the kitchen to sit next to me on the bench, his eyes questioning. I just pass him my phone, and he scoffs. 

“Typical. We can fight it, if you want to. Demanding you pay him after what happened is absurd,” he mutters. 

“Not right now, please. I’m going to go crazy enough waiting for Emilia to reply.” 

“Oh, fuck that. My lawyer will be contacting him. You don’t have to do a thing.” 

“Please? You don’t have to fix it right now,” I plead, and Yoongi scowls—not at me, but at my phone. After our argument this morning—how was it only this morning?!—I understand him a bit better. He’s a fixer. He wants to run in and make things better, even if that’s not necessarily what I need right now. 

“Okay, we can leave it for a few days. Let’s forget it for now,” he agrees.

“Thank you.”

I really don’t have it in me to worry about litigation right now. Instead, I lean into him, trying to push away some of the mental exhaustion that’s seeping into me. 

That feeling from before is back—the one that feels like a swirling void. I could write it off, no problem. The day has taken its toll, and that’s that. 

That isn’t the whole story, though. This horrible feeling existed before we even got back to San Francisco, and I know it. I know, now, what it is, and why it eats at me so viciously. Despite all of our talks, all of our dancing around it, Yoongi has never told me how he feels. To be honest, I don’t even really know how Hoseok feels about me; ‘like’ is vague enough that it could mean a lot of things, and now that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they’re in love with each other, I need to know more than ever. It feels unfair; I should just let them have it, and wait out the time it will take for the feelings to be mutual. They’ll tell me when they want to tell me, and they don’t need me being insecure after I agreed to go with this anyway. 

That’s what I tell myself, but I still wind up crying all over Yoongi’s lap, trying to hide it from Hoseok that I’m even crying at all. At the very least, I know they won’t suspect anything about why I’m crying. With the day I’ve had, it’s to be expected. Sure enough, I feel Yoongi’s hand gently rubbing my back. It helps, but not enough. I realize I must look melodramatic totally slumped over like this, sobs shaking my whole body. Again, I’m bitter—I’ve already cried so much today, and here I go again! Let’s just ruin everything. Good job, me! 

What I don’t expect is to feel another set of strong hands on me, or Hoseok lifting me up and sitting in my vacated seat with me on his lap. I don’t expect him to pet me as tenderly as he does, humming in my ear or kissing my jaw while Yoongi takes my hands and rubs my knuckles with his thumbs. A double assault of comfort. Which only makes me cry harder, because I definitely don’t deserve to have two people this dedicated to how I feel. 

Or do I? I don’t know! If I were talking Yoongi through this, I would never hold it over him. I would tell him he deserves the world and anything he wants in it, happiness and joy and love. There’s no metric for deserving those things, is there? 

Of course not… 

So why do I feel so miserable, like I’m taking something from them that I don’t deserve at all? Ridiculous. There’s no reason to be so hard on myself. Especially not with how hard everything else is when I didn’t hurt anybody or ruin anything at all. 

“What are you thinking?” Hoseok asks, his voice close to my ear. I turn my face toward him, leaning into him as much as I can. His arms hold me, steady. 

“I…” I hiccup. “I don’t know.” 

“Then what are you feeling?” 

“Scared,” I mutter. “Alone.” 

“You know you aren’t alone, right? You’ll never be alone. We’re here.” 

“But why? I’m just—I’m nobody! I haven’t done anything, I’m just me!” 

“Hey,” Yoongi cuts in, his voice sharp. “You is all we want you to be. Don’t ever think any differently.” 

“But why?” 

My question hangs in the air, and I’m terrified of what they’ll say. It’s Hoseok that speaks first. 

“Because you’re amazing,” he says simply. “Every time I see you I feel like I can’t breathe with how happy I am.” 

“Because I’m in love with you,” Yoongi says to wrap it all up, and I’m so surprised I stop crying to stare at him. “What, you thought I wasn’t?” 

“I don’t know! You never told me, and I-I didn’t want to get my hopes up.” 

“She acted the same way about us dating,” Yoongi says to Hoseok, who laughs softly. “It’s like she doesn’t know how amazing she is.” 

“No—” I start, but there’s nothing I can say that doesn’t sound childish. 

“Besides,” Yoongi continues, looking thoughtful. “It’s not like you told me how you feel.” 

Wait—! I sit up straight, flushing. Beaten at my own game! How the tables have turned. 

“I like you a lot,” Hoseok says brightly, squeezing around my waist as he says it. “I’m pretty sure I’m going to fall in love with you any second now. So all we have left is to hear how you feel.” 

“Umm—” What right did I have to cry so much when I could have just asked? “Well. Yoongi, I. I love you, too. I have for a while.” 

“I know, baby girl,” Yoongi replies with such a smug grin that I blush even darker. Not to mention the other effect it has on me, being called that. In front of Hoseok, no less! 

“And. Hobi…” I falter, then look up to face him. “I’m probably a liar. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you, not since…” 

“Hmm?” Hoseok is smiling too. Damn them both! 

“Since you kissed me. Is that terrible? I didn’t know what to do, it was like—I don’t know! I wanted to deny it so much! Because I love Yoongi, and. Shit, we’ve all been idiots.” 

“That we have, baby girl,” Hoseok sing-songs, and I feel my heart just about leap out of my chest. 

“Dinner!” I yell at no one in particular, jumping up from Hoseok’s lap to rush to where all the vegetables are chopped and the noodles have cooled so much they’re a gummy mess. “What are we making?” 

“Japchae,” Hoseok says, all sunshine. My head tilts in question. “Stir fry noodles. Come on, let’s get some food in you. You haven’t eaten all day.” 

Okay, noodles! Can do! I’m definitely not thinking about being dommed by two men right now, not at all! That would just be inappropriate. Instead, I let Hoseok walk me through the process of making japchae: we cook vegetables and meat one at a time, adding sauce and noodles and egg, then mix it all up into a pretty bowl full of food. My mouth waters. My stomach grumbles. The entire bowl is devoured, with Yoongi and Hoseok taking more and more food to put on my plate, evidently very invested in my getting my fill. 

I eat it all. After everything, I’m so hungry. 

“So…” I break the silence at the end of our meal, because there’s one more thing we have to tackle tonight. The elephant in the room, so to speak. “What are we going to do? About Lucie?” 

“We don’t have any proof,” Yoongi says automatically. Of course we don’t! I know that, Yoongi. “That being said, we need to go pack Emilia’s—” 

“Don’t avoid the topic,” Hoseok cuts him off. His voice and face are carefully neutral. “We might not have proof, but it needs to be investigated.” 

“It's being investigated,” Yoongi answers. He shifts in his seat, avoiding our eyes. “I just…worry.” 

“Right. Me too,” I agree. I don’t know what he’s thinking, but maybe if I get my thoughts out there, we can come to a conclusion. “She’s loaded, right? Rich people don’t ever get more than a slap on the wrist.” 

“There’s that, yes. But frankly, my main worry is that if we try to do anything, she’ll escalate.” 

Hoseok and I both stare at that. Escalate? How badly? How in danger am I, really!? “That’s all the more reason, Yoongi,” Hoseok speaks first, looking grim. “What if someone followed her here? Or something happens at the office again? Then what? That puts other people at risk!” 

“You think I don’t know that?” Yoongi asks, looking pained. “You think I’ve had anything on my mind besides what kind of bullshit she’ll try to pull next?” 

“Look at her bank accounts,” I say, slowly. “She’s not coming to my apartment personally, there’s no way. We have probable cause, even the police can’t blow this off. They’ll at least investigate her if we tell them our concerns.” 

“All she has to do is fuck off to another country,” Yoongi replies, and I want to scream. “I’ll talk to her. She’ll listen to me.” 

“No, she won’t!” Hoseok half-yells, and I jump. “Yoongi! If you talk to her she’ll just pull her usual bullshit and try to suck you back in!” 

“She can’t—” Yoongi starts, but I shake my head. 

“Yoongi, please. You have very real trauma because of her,” I plead, and Hoseok nods. “You can’t talk to her anymore. If you do—well, let’s look at the facts. You told her about us, and she decided to stop working with you—” 

“I fired her,” Yoongi says. I blink. 

“What?” 

“I fired her. She was threatening me, how could I not?” 

“So is she doing this to get back at you…?” Hoseok says slowly, frowning. 

“Does it matter?” I ask. Whether I’m her target or Yoongi is, I’ve certainly been the one to bear it. “We’ll talk to the police. Tomorrow, okay? No arguments.” 

“You’re making a mistake,” Yoongi says. “If you just let me talk to her, I’ll end it. Okay? Just trust me, please.” 

I want to trust that it’s that easy, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Yoongi is deluding himself. There’s no way someone would go this far and then just stop because they’re asked to. Lucie isn’t kidding around, and she wants us to know it. There’s no other logical explanation. Why else would someone target just my bedroom? Smash my cello so thoroughly it can never be fixed? 

Tears well up in my eyes just thinking about it. My cello was the most precious thing I owned, passed down from my mother, who got it from her mother. You don’t just replace something like that by going to the luthier and getting a new one! Years of memories, of warmth and comfort, broken to pieces, and there’s nothing I can do to get it back. 

“What’s wrong?” Yoongi asks, and I blink. Right. I’m crying. Again. “What are you thinking?” 

“My cello,” I say simply, voice shaking. “I would have given up everything else to save it. Gladly.” 

I know they understand. We’re all music people, all with precious instruments or equipment. They can replace theirs, though, and really have no idea what the instrument means to me. 

“Anyway—” I continue on, still too devastated to think about that for much longer. I haven’t played much, lately, with how busy I’ve been, and my fingers ache with how much I want to feel the strings under them. Just once, now, if that’s all I could have. My throat feels like it’s closing up, my stomach in knots I’m not sure will ever untangle. “I trust you. You’re not the problem, Yoongi. It’s her. Do you really think she’d admit it? Or listen to you at all?” 

“I have to try.” 

“What for?” Hoseok asks. “Why do you want to let her off the hook so bad?” 

“I don’t want to let her off the hook! I want this to end, you asshole!” 

“Me? I’m the asshole?” Hoseok asks, and I shrink. They’re going to fight, huh. Great. That’s exactly what I need right now. “Do you hear yourself? The girl you love just lost everything. Everything! And you’re going to what, give Lucie a phone call and ask her to stop? Politely, because you’re afraid of her?” 

Yoongi looks ready to pounce. “Hey…” I say, softly, but he doesn’t act like he hears me. Neither does Hoseok. 

“What do you prefer? We both get dragged into a legal battle, spend the next couple of years looking over our shoulders? She’s not going to jail, Hobi, and we all know it! The fuck do you want from me?!” 

“Hey,” I try, a little louder. 

“Well she definitely won’t if you just sit back and let her—” 

“Let her? Let her?! I’m not—” 

“Please,” I interrupt again, but it’s no use. 

Their voices turn to static in my head. Someone please, look at me. Think about me. I’m scared. I’m so scared! Please don’t fight! 

Quiet, I get to my feet and leave, to the front door. They call after me, but I’m not staying here, either, if they won’t stop fighting. I put my shoes on and slip out the door, no idea where I’m going, but just needing out

The swing in the front yard is empty, now. I can’t run away after I just promised Yoongi I wouldn’t disappear again, so that’s my new place. Shivering, I sit at about the same time the door bursts open and the boys tumble out to jog after me. Our eyes lock and they stumble to a halt. 

“Are you sorry?” I ask. Emotions are still high, it’s written all over their faces, but they’re going to have to let it go. “If you’re not, I’m going to start walking.” 

“We’re sorry!” they say at the same time. It would be comical if not for the situation. 

“Okay. Then I’ve made up my mind, and I’m not taking any arguments,” I say to them. They walk closer to me, wearing identical wary expressions. “Yoongi, you can call Lucie tonight, but not here. I’m going to stay the night with Hobi, and we’re going to let you handle it.”  

Neither of them say a word. I wait, but they appear to be waiting for a signal that they’re allowed to speak again. 

“If she isn’t one hundred percent receptive, I’m going to the police, and I’m not asking for permission. Got it?” 

“Loud and clear,” Yoongi says. He doesn’t sound happy about this at all, but I’m calling the shots. It’s me that got my home utterly wrecked, here. 

“It’s cold out here,” Hoseok says, and he’s right. November in Berkeley is cold. My teeth are about five seconds from chattering. “Come inside.” 

“Alright. Yoongi, go home,” I say, trying not to sound like a total asshole, but I do anyway. “And come back tomorrow. I’m going to miss you.” 

“I could stay,” he grumbles, but I shake my head. 

“I’m going to get to know my other boyfriend, sorry. Tomorrow, okay?” 

Speaking of my other boyfriend—Hoseok picks me up, and I’m surprised how strong he is. Carrying someone bridal style is no easy feat. “Give me a kiss, both of you. Since I apparently have to leave.” 

I really, really hope I’m making the right decision. I just can’t bear to hear him talk to that monster. 

After a round of goodnight kisses, Hoseok takes me inside, and we settle on watching Netflix together. The classic date. I’m not sure the chill part will happen, but I doubt that Hoseok expects that from me. On the contrary, he just wraps us up in blankets and puts on Zootopia. Something feel-good is nice; I can lose track of all the day’s despair in this little world of police bunnies and fox con-men. Laughter is muted, but it’s nice to laugh either way, with worry about Yoongi starting to taint the night. 

Ugghhh. I can’t take it. I check my phone; 25 new messages. Shit. 

From Emilia

are tou okay

holy shit

i just got in

call me?

are u there

what do u mean only your stuff was touched??

my room wasnt???

wtf

ok i habe to calm down

call me as soon as u get rhese

im going to assume that ur sleeping

is simeone tare

tw

targeting u???

who do i have to kill

yooni vetter have u safe

call the police

no wait ofc u called the police

im gonba shower

i’ m not worried about my stuff jsyk

i’m worried about you okau shower for real 

From Yoongi

I just got off the phone.

She denied everything.

I’m coming over first thing in the morning.

Love you, baby girl. Sleep well. 

Both sets of messages are ominous. To say the least. I reread them, noticing only when the movie pauses that Hoseok is looking at me. 

“Are you going to answer them?” 

“Not right now,” I admit, putting my phone back down. “Later. I’m tired.” 

“Can I do anything?” 

“You’ve already done so much…” I shake my head, but roll over and curl up, hiding my face in Hoseok’s lap. “This is nice.” 

“Yeah,” Hoseok agrees quietly. “I never thought…” 

“Me either. That was some hardcore denial, wasn’t it?” 

The mood is too heavy for us to really enjoy the night, but I appreciate every second Hoseok spends combing out my hair and letting me snuggle against him. This isn’t how I want to get to know him, but it’s what we’ve got. 

For the millionth time, I think about how unfair it is. We could have had a much better start, and this is what we got. 

Bullshit. 

“You’re so pretty,” Hoseok says out of nowhere, and I look up at him. “Your cute nose.” He pokes it, and I scrunch it up. “Your cute mouth.” He pokes that, too, and I giggle a little. “And especially your pretty eyes. Did you know?” 

“I didn’t. Next to you lot I feel like the plainest Jane there ever was.” 

“Nonsense,” Hoseok says.  

“You were so nice to me, that day. When Yoongi came into the interview and tore me apart.” 

“You were so nervous,” Hoseok smiles, wide and heart-shaped. “It was really endearing.” 

His fingers are still tracing my face, skirting down my jaw and then my neck. Little touches. Little comforts. 

“Well, yeah. I was in a room full of hot men trying to prove I deserved to be hired, and I totally fucked it up.” 

“Nah, you caught Yoongi’s attention. That’s all that matters in the end.” 

Caught his attention by yelling at him. Oh well, it worked out. And now I know how to really snag a job. “Just his?” 

“Of course not. Everyone was looking at you.” 

“I’m sorry I didn’t notice.” 

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you.” 

“Hobi?” 

“Mm?” 

“You’re not doing this just so you can have Yoongi, right?” 

The question obviously shocks him—his brows pitch and his eyes widen. “No. No! You don’t think that, do you?” 

“Probably not, but everything feels awful right now. I know I’m last pick for both of you, here.” 

“That’s absolutely not true,” Hoseok says, fierce. I nod, weakly. “Listen to me, okay? You are nobody’s second choice. Not mine, not Yoongi’s.” 

“Promise?” 

“Cross my heart, swear on my life.” 

“Are you scared, too?” 

“Terrified.” 

We have that in common, then. I let Hoseok lean down and kiss me, not sure how I’ll feel about it when our mouths meet. His mouth is so soft. He’s much gentler than Yoongi, too; brushing his lips over mine, pulling away, only to meet me again for the briefest of moments. It doesn’t stir anything wild, doesn’t make me flush or want more. Everything feels too precarious right now, but this is nice: sharing soft, gentle kisses, relaxing into Hoseok’s warmth. 

“Do you want to finish the movie?” Hoseok asks me after a few minutes. He must not be feeling it, either. What a relief. I don’t know if I can fake my way through it. More than that, I know I shouldn’t. 

I nod. One last kiss is placed on my lips, and then I’m curling up again to see the riveting conclusion of Judy Hops’ epic story. 

Maybe this isn’t how I wanted things to go, but I’m calm. Somewhere deep down, I’m happy. I’ll just have to wait a few days for it to take over; for everything to right itself, however it will.