Thursday, February 22, 2018

A bridge of magpies

So, awhile back I'd bought an otome game called Pastry Lovers that had gone on sale on Steam that had popped up in my recommended queue. It was basically less than 50p (£0.39) so I just clicked and bought it without thinking. Then I realised it was only for PC and not Mac so GRRRR. It just sat there. Then little dude and I installed Steam on one of the old family laptops (the one with the broken touchpad so you have to use a mouse -- it's a few years old but isn't actually that bad, though the graphics card could definitely be better). He wanted a game called Subnautica (which is *really* straining the graphics card...) and as there was a sale on, I bought Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds.

I tried Hakuoki first as I'd tried the first bit in the mobile app and thought it looked interesting and everyone in the Reddit otomegames sub recommends it as a standard otome everyone should know kind of thing. And it's okay. It's just really slow going. Haven't gotten very far in it yet and am feeling a bit iffy about the heroine...I figured she'd be plucky if she traveled all the way to Kyoto by herself dressed as a boy to try and find her father but so far she's kinda...well...let's just say I'm not sure how she managed to get there unless it was a really short journey.

Anyway, so I also finally installed the Pastry Lovers one because I figured, hey, why not. And I actually quite like it other than the fact that the translation is iffy at best, cringeworthy at times, and sometimes just plain laughably awful. I mean, BAD. It's terrible.  SO bad. It's also got stat raising stuff and the art is...okay but nothing to write home about. Would definitely have liked a bit more out of the CGs at the end. But every now and then it has a really nice moment that makes it worth it (and heck, at that price!).

Hi, I'm the cool and aloof Henin and I teach painting and I'll
be your bonus love interest this evening...and yes,
I do always walk around with a mug in my hand. All the time.
No, it's not weird at all. Just focus on my lovely hair.
Basically, you are a poor orphan child brought up in a monastery. You have always liked to make pastries, which in this world is a really big deal and a very respected profession. Through luck and pluck, you make it into a prestigious pastry university where you will study for three years. There are 4 (plus one hidden bonus one) romance-able characters (or kind of 6 as there's some after-ending thing with a girl who is also included in the one ridiculously fan service-y piece of the game that's completely not necessary and is actually kind of inappropriately timed story-wise).

The stat building is all pretty easy. That might partly be because, for some reason, you start the game with a boatload of gold that I don't think you're supposed to get. Seriously. Like 6000g or something. I can see that if you started with a reasonable amount, you'd actually have to really work to raise your stats appropriately. I'm not sure if it is a bug or what, but it made this part of the game SUPER DUPER easy. Given that your normal wages are more like 10g to a whopping bonus of 50g for getting the best grades, I'm pretty sure it's supposed to be far harder to progress than it is. I didn't really mind though as stat raising isn't usually my fav thing. Kind of a built in cheat.

The other nice thing about how the stat raising goes is that the game is divided into three sections: 1) you're in your village and interacting with the people there then 2) at the school and attending classes and then 3) in the final bit where you've chosen your love interest and each one has a very different path (or, at least, the two I tried so far were completely different). So even though there's a bit of grindy-ness to it, at least it is switched up so you don't get too bored.

Little dude commented, upon seeing the other NPC girl characters in the game, that the one you play is actually the
plainest in terms of looks. He's not wrong. What's up with that? The standard Every Girl, I guess?

There's the soft-spoken blue haired dude who is her teacher (though only 7 years older, so not too skeevy, which is a pet peeve of mine that I think Backstage Pass failed at a bit), the cold-at-first blonde guy with an inconvenient possible fiancé, the red-haired firebrand who is flirty as all get out, and an actual prince who likes to wander around in the slums in disguise helping people out.

I didn't realise at first that it's a Chinese game (the MC's name being Sakura made me think it was Japanese because I associate cherry blossoms with Japan, I suppose) and maybe that's partly why I like it because there's a bit in the route for Christopher DM (yeah, that's his name...why? I have no idea.) where they are at a temple and he's feeling all unrequited because he's her teacher and they are at some island where they celebrate the Qixi festival and he's at the temple and he hangs up a tablet that says When will a bridge of magpies be built between us, so that I can be with you? Which was lovely and then that made me look up the legend behind it so now I know a bit more Chinese history/mythology than I did before and Lo, all is good. Seriously, just that bit made it worth it. A sad but lovely story, which in this case, turns out a bit better for our heroine.

So far I've done the blonde guy's good end (mostly to get him out of the way, as I'm not really into the whole tsundere thing...or blondes, for that matter), the bonus guy's good and normal ends (as you can save during the teacher route and knock it out quickly at the end) and the teacher's good end (very sweet). I was going to do the Prince last but it has become obvious that he's the end game as the only place you can learn about your absent parents is at the palace...so now I'm going to save him for last. You do get a bit more of the story each time about your past, so there's that.

So, all in all, I was pleasantly surprised by this one. It doesn't have great reviews and I can completely see why. I mean, the translation is dismal. But, at that price, I'm glad I bought it and I've enjoyed it. And there aren't many walkthroughs or guides for it, so it's a good thing it is fairly easy to puzzle out (it even warns you at crucial points when you need to save).

I wouldn't mind finding a few more like this, albeit ones with better translations. I didn't even mind the stat building (it's less of a hassle than in Backstage Pass, for instance). Will edit this after I finish to see how I feel after I've revealed all the endings.

Defender of Justice...Seven Zero Seven!

This is Izumi. I actually had an entirely different
profile avatar for her in mind but for some reason,
the game wouldn't consistently save it. But it took
this one and I suppose it's rather fitting anyway.
The lollipop reminds me that you've got to take her
with a grain of salt. Irreverent is her keyword.
So, I'm working on the Seven route in Mystic Messenger now but I'm not doing a complete playthrough write up like I did with Jumin because...eh, I just can't. It takes too much time! Wah! That said, I have created a character for Seven as well because I just can't help myself. That's part of playing these games that I really like -- it's a bit like when I'm writing a book except that there's no pressure or deadlines. (~˘▾˘)~

Izumi is 20. She's sort of a runaway, but not exactly, because she didn't have much of anything to run away from.  Maybe a better word is nomad. She grew up mostly in the foster care system. She has no idea if her mother is alive or not but she knows her father is -- but the last she heard of him, he was a drug addict or maybe worse. She hasn't seen either of them since she was about eight. She did finish high school, though she lied to Yoosung when she said she was a student. She's not attending university but she considers it just a white lie anyway -- she's a student of the world.

She is a quarter Japanese on her mother's side, hence the name (Izumi means "spring" or fountain"). She wants to go to Japan someday and has been saving up money for that. She knows that she has some family there but she's not even sure she wants to look them up. It's not as if they ever reached out to her.

She moves around a lot and is new to the city. She thought it was a bit of luck that led her to Rika's apartment and the RFA. Maybe she can make some connections through these people, save up some money. She'd spent her first night in the city sleeping on a bench in the train station. Rika's is definitely better than that, but the place does give her a bad vibe. It's kind of sterile and cold.

She's always used humour as a deflection shield. She's cultivated a shield of weirdness and jokes. Not that she's had much to laugh about in her life, but if you present that kind of face to the world, people don't tend to look too deep to see what's underneath. She doesn't like getting too close to people. She doesn't usually stay in one place long enough anyway. She left her last job waitressing because one of the other servers kept asking her out. He was a nice enough guy but too persistent and, quite frankly, too normal. He was a student, like Yoosung, and had taken her jokes as flirting.

She recognises a lot of herself in Seven, which is what first attracted her attention to him. She could be as weird as she wanted to be and he didn't mind; in fact, he seemed to like it. Everyone else seems quite square and normal. Zen, of course, is ridiculously attractive but she finds him more comic than anything. She's been tempted so many times to say outrageous things to him just to see what he would say back. He gets flustered so easily. Jaehee seems to her like a mother, not that she really knows what that's like. But she feels warmly towards her. She's really the first woman that has treated her decently that she can think of. Izumi's pretty, in a fragile kind of way--delicate skin, long dark eyelashes, very slim (possibly partly because of how irregular her meals often are when she's low on money -- the RFA's preoccupation with asking her if she's eaten yet is something she finds both endearing, odd, and comic). But her looks have made a lot of other girls jealous of her compounded by the fact that they never seemed to be able to get past her shield. So she usually hides herself under a hoody and jeans, except when she's by herself. Safer traveling that way, anyway. She finds Yoosung to be really funny and so very, very normal. Like nothing bad has ever happened to him, not really. He has parents who love him. He has the luxury of being completely obsessed with gaming and being a student without having to even think much about his future yet. Sure, he's nice, but she feels like she is looking at a fluffy bunny kept in captivity. He doesn't know what the real world is like. Jumin is just weird. She has to restrain herself from teasing him. She actually thinks he was trying to be kind to Yoosung when he calls Yoosung's mother on him. Like Jumin is the Daddy of the group.

She's not afraid of lying. She's also not overly concerned about her own safety. Things either work out or they don't. That's the way life is.

As the days went on, she found herself more and more intrigued by Seven. More so than any other person she's ever met. She kept putting off her original plan to bounce out of there in a few days and move on because she kept wanting to see what he'd say next. Then the big bomb scare and the hacker threatening her and Seven comes running in like some kind of frantic Quixotic knight -- and she blurted out that she loved him. What the hell was that? Why in the world would she say such a thing? Maybe that was why Seven had been so distant since he arrived. And, of course, the fact that the hacker was his brother...she didn't feel bad keeping that a secret from the others. She had her own secrets. But the Seven that was here in front of her...was he really the same man that she had been talking to on the phone? She kept calling him, just to hear his voice, so she could watch him and see if he was really in there...because this Seven in front of her wouldn't even look her in the eyes. Why did that make her feel so lost? Her, the girl who was always aimlessly lost on purpose? For heaven's sake, she'd even pretended to be afraid of a stupid cockroach to get him to stay a little longer...to get him to hold her hand. No, she wasn't afraid of lying, but now she wondered what, exactly, was she lying about and why?

She'd even made him dinner and breakfast but he'd made such a big deal out of wanting her to leave him alone to work that she hadn't wanted him to think she'd gone out of her way. So she'd actually made some homemade noodles and then served them to him in an instant noodle cup. He'd eaten them, though, and that made her glad. It was weird to be looking after someone when normally she only had to worry about herself.

Now she was concerned he was going to leave again and she'd never be able to figure out what she was feeling, what this unsettled emptiness inside her was about. And she was worried about him. Would the agency come after him? What was his wild-eyed brother going to do? Was he in danger? She should just leave. Move on. She knew that. It was strange. She'd never been worried about someone else before. She'd always just been on her own. But he didn't seem to have anyone else to worry about him.

(currently at Day 8, so we'll see how things go--I'll update this page as I go along as I'm not gonna do a massive amount of blog posts for this like I did for Jumin.)


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

When Tuesday is Monday

It feels like Monday again. I'm that exhausted kind of tired where my eyes feel gritty and heavy, like blinking is too much trouble to contemplate. Had to pick up the little dude from school yesterday because he wasn't feeling well and I think he's sharing with me. How kind of him. My throat feels just a bit sore -- not so gloppy that I actually want to take something, but grotty enough that I just want to drink one hot drink after another. He's off to school again today, but I am sticking around home in case I need to pick him up again.

Also tired because I'm working on Seven's route, that poor damaged silly boy. I wound up doing it over the weekend a bit because I thought I'd just earn some extra hearts, but then I successfully wound up on his route at day 5 and thought, hey, why not, I'll just keep going instead of starting over. I have actually been looking forward to this one as I like his sense of humour and randomness. Like me! But I think he's going to break me because I know he's got the saddest bits to come...(well, besides Another Story, which I don't think I'm ever going to do).

Anyway.

Also have half-finished (or all-finished, as I'm not going to go after the horrible ends) two mobile apps from the same company. One is called Jimi-Kare: My Quiet Boyfriend. Can't actually remember how I can across it, but I downloaded it because it sounded easy, light, and cute. HAHAHAHA I should know better by now, shouldn't I?

The description said (sic):

Since starting high school, you have seen your childhood friend who has become quiet and plain. However, you haven't spoken to him in a few month...
One day, you and he, by chance, were elected as entrants of a beauty contest.
"It's going to be fine! Trust me!"
You decided to do some special training with him to win the contest!
What will he confess to you when he's changed――?

And the reviews were all, oh, so cute! Etc. I thought, naively, that based on your choices, you'd wind up with 4 different Nao 's (the boy character). You know, like the prince-ly one, the confident one, the sweet one...I dunno. I dunno what I was thinking. I just thought it was supposed to be cute. Maybe he'd wind up with different outfits or something.

And I started it and I thought, oh, yeah, the art is really quite nice. It's very, very clicky but it goes pretty fast and I like that the premise is all about encouraging him to be his better self and have confidence, not just on "changing" him because, yo, girl, that never works.

But the decision points are very, very random so choosing is basically a crap shoot. Then...the first ending I wound up with (after choosing "comfort him" ffs) was the Arrogant Ending where he basically turns into a total douchebag dyed-blonde flirt machine "god's gift to women" dude. Not what I was expecting. So I thought I'd give it another go. It was just different from what I expected, but, hey, maybe it was meant to be more serious than I thought...so I go back and the first decision point where you pick either "let him choose his own outfit" to "choose for him"...you choose for him...and...you dress this poor kid up as a girl. What the what? I don't have a problem with cross dressing. My problem was that you're supposed to be helping this kid out who you know has serious self confidence issues and he's going to be up in front of the entire school...and you're dressing him up as a GIRL? When he's shown no tendencies towards that? So basically, half the endings go off of him dressing himself in kind of "wild" cool clothes and the other half off of you dressing him up as a pretty girl? I bailed on that end half way through and then looked up a walkthrough. It just felt so wrong to me, like one of the worst things you could do for a kid who has no confidence and is bullied.

So, yeah...spoiler alert...if you follow the two paths where you dress him as a girl, one he winds up as "Princess Nao" and the other he winds up as even more of a social outcast with a bit of an abusive twist and winds up pushing the MC to the ground and is all Yo, I'm a guy after all. The fuck. Seriously.

Just reading through that left a bad taste in my mouth. I did wind up playing through the ONE freaking good end though where he gets his confidence and they win the contest and he confesses his love. It was sweet.

Anyway...the art was nice, both the chibi versions and the regular images. It was fast. It just wasn't what I expected. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it and it's a good thing I don't bother giving ratings, as I have no idea what I'd say for this one. Welp, this blog is only for me anyway. But I personally would have enjoyed it more if it had been the light game I'd originally thought it was OR if 3/4 of the endings weren't kind of horrible.

I did also download (before I realised what was going on with the endings) another game by the same company called In Search of Haru.


It's got a similar style of gameplay -- lots of clicking -- though this one you have to wait a bit longer in-between. Same 4 possible endings. Same very random decision points where what you choose really makes no difference plot-wise other than what they decided (so there's no trying to guide your choices). In this one, it's once again a thing with a childhood friend. In this case, you were fat when you were little (okay, I'm a little FFS about that, but, eh okay) and you had one friend who was a boy that you haven't seen since then that encouraged you. Now you've gotten thin and pretty (okay, yeah, kinda UGH on this) and you're back. Can you find him again?

I'm kind of glad I was ahead in the other game with Nao before I got to the end of my first route on this one because...here she is, hanging out with this guy who seems really nice and takes good care of her and is always sticking up for her...and I'm, like, wow, hey for once I actually wound up on a good end first thing...then, last scene...he confesses his love to her and is all ooooh, you're the best, I'm gonna take such good care of you. She's all, yay, omg, I love you too, and then he does an IMMEDIATE 180 and boom she's in a super abusive controlling relationship where she's not allowed to talk to other people, especially guys. Unhappily ever after. Uh, yeah. That was way outta left field. They called it the Dark End. No shit.

It makes me feel like the people who write these games are really sad and need relationship counselling. Again, there's only one end that's really good (she finds Haru and yay). In the worst (well, I kinda think that Dark End is really the worst) Bad End, she's found out by her peers that she used to be fat and gets depressed and bullied again even though she's not actually fat anymore and the three boys actually still try to be friends. The Normal End is okay at least. She doesn't find Haru but she does sort of find a friend in one of the boys who saves her from a groper on a train (why, incidentally, is this such a thing in Japanese anime/manga/games -- are there really that many gropers??).

So...in a way, at least the endings on this one sort of made more sense than in Jimi-Kare. Like, you could kinda see it coming. A little. Art again was nice, of that washed out variety.

But I was left more frustrated than not. I'm still trying to figure out why. I suppose it's me. It could definitely be me. It could also be that I'm not the target age for these things and while I am (very) young at heart, I don't have the patience for abusive controlling relationship shit that I would have had when I was younger. Like take Twilight. Dude, you're basically a pedophile old vampire stalker creeper who happens to glitter. That shit is not romantic. That's, like, restraining order time.

If anything, I was mostly kind of sad for the MC in In Search of Haru. She was very sweet but basically if any guy paid any attention to her at all, she was ready to jump off a building for him. She was that desperate for affection. And I get that. I do. I cringe at my teen years. Between being dirt poor and my father dying and abusive stepfather figures and horrible self esteem (thinking I was fat when I weighed 85 fricking pounds soaking wet), yeah, I get it. I do. Maybe that's why the bad endings for things like this unsettle me. I'm looking for more happy than not and things that don't legitimise abuse and make it seem "normal" which, okay, it is normal, but it's utter crap that it's normal. Can't we make a new normal? Why are we always retreading old ground?

Yeah, yeah, I know why. Still.

Friday, February 16, 2018

What now, eh?

So, I finished Jumin's route in Mystic Messenger and finished writing up the ridiculously long playthrough AND an after story...I solemnly swear to not paste all that rot into Word or Scrivener so I can find out how many words I wrote because I DO NOT WANT TO KNOW. Too many. WAY too many.

I did do a one day playthrough of the April Fool's DLC, which was quick and rather funny. Poor Zen. But today I didn't have anything started in MM because there wasn't time and I know I can't actually start 707's route yet. Probably not until late Sunday night. We've got too much going on tomorrow and this weekend.

So...yeah. It feels WEIRD. Like I keep picking up my phone thinking I'm supposed to be doing something that I haven't done. 

That is so so so pathetic. 

HAHA ah ha... It is what it is.

In other news, agent has finally sent off all the last changes to the editor. So, we'll see. Crossing fingers and toes and all that.

Also thinking about the Death book.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Jumin Han and Seong Yi: Their Beginning

Okay, so I have an idea for a better wrap up / after ending that assumes the "normal ending" where Jumin quits his job to spend time with Seong Yi. This takes place directly after the party. I am...going to attempt to actually write my first ever complete shmexy scene. As I write mostly YA and MG fiction, I've never officially written anything beyond some intense kissing, which is about as far as Jumin and Seong got too (mostly in Part V). Why? Well, honestly, to see if I can. I've never tried one before. I'm pretty happy with how the kissing stuff worked out in my 4th book (even if my editor did make me take out the stuff about their tongues as being "a bit too much"...) but I do kind of wonder if I can pull one off where...er, more happens.

Because the thing I know about myself is that I am more of a romantic than not when it comes to this kind of stuff. So this will be a challenge. And this is a more or less safe space to do it in -- it's not for anything other than me and the (possibly) few people who stumble across it. That said, I know even before I start that it's not going to be totally XXX or anything because that's not who I am. More "sexy" than "sex"? If that makes sense. But who knows, I'll see how it goes. One caveat: as this very much isn't remotely related to my work and is technically a total waste of time taking away from my actual writing, I'm not going to be editing this or even typing it into Word first. So think of it as a brain dump short story. If you ever wanted to know what my first drafts are like, here you go (Well, okay, the whole Seong/Jumin thing has been like that...but this is the only bit I'm writing up more like a traditional short story).

Welp. Here goes nothing...


After the Party

The RFA party had been both an unmitigated disaster and an outstanding success, depending on how you looked at it. They had raised a record amount of money for charity but Seong wasn't entirely sure how she felt about everything else that had happened. She had been surprised about the relationship between Glam and Sarah, like everyone else. And while she was relieved that their scheme had been revealed, she felt pain for Chairman Han. Was what Jumin had done really the best way to have done it? Yes, it had certainly shocked his father into paying attention, but the look on the elder Mr. Han's face had been heartbreaking. Perhaps he had really loved Glam. And then, when Jumin had announced that he was stepping down as Director...his father had looked beyond stunned. Was Jumin really serious about that? C&R had been his entire life up until now.

They hadn't had a chance to talk at the party. Even though Jumin had said he would take no more questions, the reporters had mobbed him until security had to forcibly remove them to another area. But that had still left the guests and the other RFA members, who were all just as shocked at Jumin's decision. And everyone was excited to talk to her in person as well, so she found herself passed between Yoosung, 707, Zen, and Jaehee until she felt like her head was spinning. And that strange man from the Monogamy club kept following her around, mumbling things.

It was getting late and the party was winding down. She was talking with Zen, who was telling her about his new role. He'd told her already, but she was nodding her head and smiling because that seemed like what he needed. Jumin appeared behind her and wrapped his arms around her, resting his chin on her head.

"Hello, my princess," he said. "I've missed you."

Zen made a face. "Dude. I will never get used to you all sappy. What did you do to him, Seong Yi?"

"Nothing...yet," said Jumin in such a suggestive voice that Seong immediately blushed beet red.

Zen groaned. "Gah, get a room."

"I don't need to get a room. I have a penthouse," said Jumin.

Seong laughed. Jumin was funny, even if no one else thought so. She wasn't sure how no one else saw it.

"But you're not wrong," said Jumin. "It is time to go. We have to meet my father for dinner. Are you ready, Seong?"

She stopped laughing. He'd said earlier that he wanted to have dinner with his father but she hadn't realised that he meant her to come along with him.

"Okay..." she said. Could she say no? He took her by the hand and security accompanied them out to a waiting car. It was an actual limousine. Was this the kind of car he always rode around in or was it just for the party? She didn't ask. There was a bottle of champagne in the back and two glasses already set out for them on a silver tray.

She hadn't eaten anything at the party and didn't normally drink on an empty stomach, but the thought of meeting Mr. Han made her accept the glass that Jumin offered her.

"It's a Krug Clos d'Ambonnay," said Jumin, taking a delicate sip. "The third most expensive champagne in the world. I wanted to get you a bottle of Goût de Diamants but I wasn't able to find one on such short notice. Perhaps for our wedding."

Seong choked on her champagne. "Ah," she finally managed to say. Was it her imagination or had he become more bold? He certainly seemed so much more...calm. As if nothing was bothering him anymore.

He squeezed her free hand. "Do you like it?"

"It's lovely," she said. It was. Though she wasn't entirely sure that she could tell it was the third best in the world. The thought boggled her mind. How much, exactly, did the third most expensive champagne in the world cost?? She took another sip. She didn't want to waste it.

"Don't worry about father," said Jumin, still holding her hand. "Everything will be fine."

"Okay..." Now was her chance to ask him. "But about that...are you really quitting your job?"

He raised his eyebrows at her. "Of course. If I continue working there, I won't have enough time to spend with you." He leaned down to look her in the eyes. "And I want to learn everything about you, Seong Yi." His smile crinkled the edges of his eyes and warmed them. Warmed her. "Of course, we have our whole lives for that, but I want to get started right away. I don't believe in wasting time."

She nodded and took another sip of champagne. She felt like it was going straight to her head, but maybe that was Jumin. That he could say things like that so easily...

The limousine pulled up to a large house. No, not a house. A mansion. They were in a part of town she had never seen before, which made sense as they'd had to drive through a massive security gate to enter it.

A butler--at least, that's what she guessed he was based on how he was dressed--opened the door of the car for them. They followed the man through a massive foyer, past three sets of grand double doors, and into a dining room roughly the size of a football field. At least, that's how big it felt. The table sat up to thirty people, but there were only three places set. Chairman Han was already at the head of the table. At least it looked like he had already known she was coming, though the thought didn't make her feel any better. Neither did the look on his face.

He stood up as they entered the room. "Jumin," he said. His voice betrayed no particular emotion.

"Father," said Jumin.

"Good evening, sir," said Seong, and bowed. "It is a pleasure to finally meet you." That was certainly a lie but she really didn't know what to say to this man. She would have rather met him under any other circumstances.

"This is Seong Yi, father." Jumin's hand was warm on the small of her back. "My future wife."

The elder Mr. Han frowned slightly. "So you've already asked her then?"

Jumin's fingers twitched. Seong looked up at him and he down at her. It was the first time she had seen him look flustered all day. "Ah, well...no, not exactly." She wasn't sure why, but they both blushed and looked away.

Chairman Han smiled for the first time. "Still the same Jumin, then. You have to do these things in the right order, you know." He waved them to their seats. "You have a lot to learn about love, son."

They sat down across from each other, one on each side of the Chairman. Servants immediately appeared and laid their first courses in front of them.

"I agree," said Jumin.

"Do you?" The Chairman seemed surprised. So was Seong, though she was more used to this new Jumin than his father was. Still, it was strange to see him admit to any shortcomings. He had changed so much since they had met.

"Yes. That was, perhaps, the first thing Seong taught me." Jumin looked very serious. "And that is why I have resigned my position."

"I see," said the Chairman. They all ate their soup in silence for a few long moments.

“I must say that I am surprised. But…if love is truly the reason behind your decision, I will not stand in your way.”

Seong nearly dropped her spoon. She hadn’t expected that.

“Thank you, father. I am glad we won’t have to fight over this because I would not have let you stop me.”

Ah. Seong wanted to kick him under the table. He could have stopped after the “thank you.”

The rest of the dinner passed peacefully enough and Seong caught a glimpse of the charming side of the Chairman as he questioned her. She knew he was finding out as much about her as he could, but he did it in such a way that she didn’t really mind. Now she understood how so many women had fallen for him. Undoubtedly, most of them had come to him because of his wealth and status, but he wasn’t just that. He seemed genuine and a bit of a romantic. But, all in all, she preferred Jumin. There was something more…honest about him.

Five courses later, they bid his father goodnight and climbed back into the limousine.

“Driver Kim, home, please.”

Oh, yes. She’d forgotten that he didn’t know the address of Rika’s apartment. Her heart sank a bit at the thought of going back to that empty place, especially without the party to look forward to. The night before had been bearable only because of that.

“Did you want to drop me off at the station on the way?”

Jumin looked surprised. “Why would I do that?”

“…since you don’t know where the apartment is…?”

“I have no intention of sending you back to that place.”

A number of thoughts ran through Seong’s head and not all of them were good. Had he not changed after all? Did he want to lock her away again?

But Jumin blushed and his voice took on a softer tone, that low rumble like he sounded late at night on the phone. She loved that sound. “I will let you go there, of course, if that is where you want to go. But I was hoping—” he took her hand—“I was hoping you would choose to come back with me. To stay…as long as you want. It’s so empty without you there. And…and I…I think I told you before…I want…tonight…”

Seong stopped him with a kiss, a soft one full of promise. “I want that, too,” she said against his lips. She drew a line of butterfly kisses across his face to his ear and whispered there, for only him to hear, “I want you, Jumin. I choose you.”

Jumin cleared his throat and pushed a button on the armrest next to him. “Driver Kim, take the shortest route possible, please. And I give you permission to break the speed limit.”

###

Elizabeth the 3rd greeted them at the door. Jumin gave the cat a perfunctory pat on the head and then picked up a box from the table. It was wrapped in shiny silver-white paper tied around with a large red ribbon. He handed it to Seong.

"I got this for you." He cleared his throat. "Just, ah...just in case."

"Oh. Thank you." It seemed a strange time for a gift, unless... "Should I open it now?"

"Please," he said.

She pulled on the bow and it unraveled. She was about to pull the lid off the box when Jumin stopped her.

"Ah, perhaps...maybe you should open it in the bedroom...I'll, um, be right there..."

She had never heard him quite so hesitant before, so she nodded and took the box with her. Maybe he was as nervous as she was. In the dark of the car, passing under street lights, she hadn't hesitated at all, but in the bright lights of the penthouse she felt her nerves come crashing down. Any courage she'd gained from the champagne was gone.

She set the box on the chair and took the lid off. Inside was...she pulled out a filmy pool of pale white silk trimmed with delicate red ribbons around the edges and the straps. It was a floor length peignoir and a matching robe, so light it felt like a cloud. It was cut simply; no ruffles or lace and fell in one long line. She took it into the bathroom so she could change there and see what it looked like on in the mirror.

It was so thin that it felt like wearing nothing. It wasn't see-through and everything was covered all the way down to her toes but somehow she had never felt more naked than in this moment. She took the red ribbon from the package and loosely tied her hair back. Would he like it? Somehow she thought he would.

(Okay, I had to give at least a nod to the bad end with the colour of the gown and the red ribbon where he keeps the MC trapped and goes full on controlling sadist because even if they made it past that, it's still somewhere inside of Jumin. But this is not that story. This is lovely romantic Jumin who wants to learn to love. He's not tying her up with ribbons now; they are going to be bound with love.)

She went back into the bedroom. Jumin wasn't there yet. She turned down the lights in the room as low as they could go, a pale glow. Should she sit on the bed? Lay on the bed? Wait for him by the door? Go and find him? Should she close the curtains? Leave them open? No one could see them up here, could they? She walked to the window to see.

###

Had he given her enough time to change? Jumin didn't want to surprise her in the middle of putting on the nightgown. Would she wear it? It had been very forward of him, perhaps, but he had seen it while shopping for the party dress for her and hadn't been able to resist buying it. He stood outside the door debating with himself.  Wait? Go in? He couldn't remember any time in his life when he had felt like he did now. He couldn't even see her but just the thought of her on the other side of the door and his heart was racing. He'd taken off his tie and jacket, had almost taken off more but then had felt strange about the idea of walking into the room like that. Gah. He couldn't wait anymore. He opened the door and went in, closing it behind him. He didn't want Elizabeth the 3rd to follow him in. Not tonight. No distractions.

Seong was standing in front of the window looking out. And she was wearing the gown. Her long dark hair was pulled back in the red ribbon from the package, standing out so vividly against the white of the nightgown. The moon was full and streamed in through the window. It felt close, like he could reach out and touch it if he wanted to. But the moon wasn't what he wanted to touch. He could see the pale outline of her legs, her arms, her waist, her hips...like she was clothed in mist and moonlight. She was more beautiful than he had even imagined and goodness knows he had thought of little else all day, knowing that package was waiting for them by the door...waiting for them, if she came home with him. And she had. She had come. She had chosen to come with him.

He was there behind her before he even knew that he had moved, like she was a magnet drawing him to her. He reached out a hand and tugged gently at the ribbon. He wanted to unwrap her like a gift, to take away the layers and find out what was underneath. The ribbon fell away and he let it drop to the floor. 

She turned to face him. "Jumin...thank you for...this. I hope you like it." A slight blush filled her cheeks. So cute. She was so precious to him.

"No. Thank you," he said. For wearing the gown. For coming home with him. For everything. 

He swept her up in his arms and she didn't protest, she simply wrapped her arms around his neck. He carried her to the bed and set her down upon it. She reached up, hesitantly at first, and began unbuttoning his shirt, her fingers moving faster as each button came undone. He stood still as any statue. When she hit the last one she could reach, she stopped for a moment as he looked down at her. Would she continue?

She stood up, slowly, looking him right in the eye as she did. He couldn't look away. Didn't dare. He didn't want to miss one moment. She slid her hands under his shirt, spreading her hands across his stomach for a moment before tugging his shirt up and out. She unbuttoned the last two buttons and then ran her hands up his chest, over his shoulders, down his arms, taking the shirt off as she went. It fell to the floor.

He couldn't wait any more. The tangled feelings inside of him had un-knotted, un-wound...she had undone him. He wrapped her in his arms and they fell back onto the bed. Seong gasped in surprise but the small noise was lost as Jumin's mouth found hers. The first time they had kissed, it had been soft and sweet; the second, deep and long. But this time, he needed more and his tongue was darting and insistent, his hands just as hungry as they roamed her body, so soft, her skin even more like silk than the gown she wore. A part of him knew he was moving too fast, that he needed too much and was worried that she would pull away from him. He took a gulping breath, his face buried in her hair, trying to calm himself, to slow down.

"Jumin..." He could feel her panting breath against his ear. Her hands, her slender fingers that felt like fire as they brushed against his skin...she was fumbling with the clasp of his trousers. "Jumin...don't stop...I can't--"

He pulled himself up on one elbow so he could get a look at her and she stared up at him through heavily lidded eyes. Her mouth was full and red from their kisses, her lips parted as she took short, quick breaths. Oh god, he wanted to eat her up when she looked at him like that. The gown lay puddled around her, half off, half on, the right strap completely broken in half. He got a tantalising peek at the curve of her breasts as she struggled to catch her breath.

"Seong, I'm sorry. I'm...I know I'm going too fast...I can't--"

"Shhh. I know," she said. "I know. It's okay, Jumin." She smiled up at him and leaned into him, into the warmth of his chest. "Don't slow down on my account." She bent to kiss him, her tongue trailing a  warm wet circle around his nipple. "I want you, too, you know." She kissed a trail down across his stomach.

Now it was his hands fumbling with his belt buckle. There was nothing else he could do. The battle was lost, he knew it. His plans of taking his time, of taking things slowly, of covering every inch of her with soft, delicate kisses, it was gone, burned away with desire. Desire for this woman, and only this woman. It consumed him.

Naked, he pressed his body along hers until they fit together like two puzzle pieces. She squirmed against him and at first he was confused, but then realised she was struggling to get out of what remained of the nightgown. Damn the thing. He'd buy another one. He'd buy a closetful. But this one--he helped her rip it off. She pulled him to her before he could get more than a glimpse of her porcelain skin but that touch drove every thought out of his mind. It was electric, like every nerve in his body had woken up. Like he had been asleep all his life until this moment. She moved against him, wrapping her legs around him. He felt as if he would explode, all of him, every bit of him. He had to have her now.

He rolled over on top of her, his lovely Seong Yi. She seemed so small and slight without her clothes and her eyes were closed now, her lashes dark against her cheeks, and her mouth, that lovely mouth, open as she made quick little panting noises. He reached down to see if she was ready, was it time, could he wait if she wasn't...but as he touched her there, so hot and warm, she pushed against his hand and moaned his name. He couldn't wait any longer. He thrust himself inside her, a cry escaping his own lips as he lost himself completely in her heat. She wrapped her arms around him as if she wanted to draw him even closer, as if they could somehow merge flesh and become one. They moved together, too fast at first but then slower as they found their rhythm together, a steady pace, like water lapping at the shore. He was drowning. He focused on her face, her sweet face as the waves took them, building higher and higher until it broke upon them both.

He held her close to him. She was shaking or maybe it was him. He didn't even know anymore. All he knew was that he was happy. That he was whole.

"I love you, Seong," he breathed into her ear. Then he said it again, as he kissed her eyelids; again as he kissed her forehead, her lips.

She laughed and it was the most beautiful thing he had ever heard. "I love you, too," she whispered as she curled herself into him like she was finally home.

***

(Oh sweet heavens, can't believe I had to use the word thrust. And there's gotta be a way to say that other than with the "become one" triteness but meh, I couldn't think of anything else right now... But, eh, whaddaya do? There's some things it's hard to say any other way. I was trying not to be too clinical anyway. Hopefully it works. Maybe I'll look at it again later. I probably could have drawn that out more but I don't think it's too bad for a first attempt at writing something like this and it's more words than I thought I'd get time for anyway. Dunno that I could go much farther without feeling even more embarrassed than I already do about writing this. HAHA this is why I normally just write for kids. I'm so rubbish at being a girly girl and thinking shmexy thoughts.

I'm not sure why I decided to switch POV in the middle and go into Jumin's head. I think I wanted to see his thoughts a bit. That's one of the things I like about the Voltage stuff, that they sometimes provide the love interest's POV. And I suppose I wanted to show that Jumin is actually thinking healthy lovey-dovey thoughts.)


***

(EDIT: So, this was going to be the last of it. But the way my writing brain works is that I get scenes in my head. Think of it like a movie scene that keeps playing and playing until you write it down...or at least until you put the gist of the idea down on paper/screen. It won't leave my head until I do. And damn Jumin, he won't get out of my head. I keep thinking about what happens next and I am NOT gonna write a freaking book here as I've got other stuff to do. But I will write up this one more little scene, at least enough to get the idea down.)


Zen Interupptis


They didn't set foot outside the penthouse for two weeks, though if you had asked either of them, it had only been a couple of days. Time seemed to pass differently now that they were together with nothing looming in front of them -- no work, no party. Just them.

It wasn't that Jumin didn't want Seong to leave -- he didn't -- but something else, something more. That first night had opened up a floodgate of emotion, of love, of desire. They couldn't stop touching each other. Jumin would find some new way to illicit a response from Seong and think, yes, this is it but then he would find himself kissing the hollow of her neck, writing a love poem with his lips across her smooth back, kissing her wrists and feeling her pulse beating...there was no end to the things he wanted to discover about her. There weren't enough hours in the day or night.

It wasn't just physical, though that did seem to occupy a great deal of their time. They talked -- about their childhoods, their hopes, their fears and mundane things like favourite movies and books and foods.

Assistant Kang kept calling with questions or emailing, but Jumin ignored her as much as he was able. He had faith in her. That was why he had promoted her before he left. And, quite frankly, he had picked up the slack enough times when his father had been spending his time dallying with some new infatuation. The Chairman could handle things this time.

But then Zen kept calling too so Jumin stopped answering his phone. The rest of the world could go on without them for a while.

***

Zen was pissed. There was no other word for it. Stupid trust fund brat. No one had seen or heard any word from Seong and Jumin for over two weeks. They had virtually disappeared from the Messenger, though the first few days had seem them posting disgustingly cute selfies together--feeding each other at breakfast, making faces at each other, close ups of Seong's face obviously taken by Jumin as half the time they were too blurry to even tell what she looked like. He was rather glad those had stopped at least. But after hearing nothing for a few days, he was worried. Was Jumin keeping her against her will in that stupid penthouse of his?

Seven wasn't too worried, but he was preoccupied with some new project. V had disappeared again. Jaehee was so busy with her new responsibilities that she didn't have a thought to spare for Jumin or Seong. And Yoosung...when Zen had brought up his worries, that idiot had just gone all starry eyed and said it was romantic. So it was up to him.

He skipped rehearsal for the first time in his life and went to the penthouse and convinced the security team (there were fewer of them now, now that Jumin had quit his job), to let him up to the door. It was around lunchtime and he could smell something cooking. Good. That was promising. He knocked on the door.

After a moment, Jumin answered it. He wasn't wearing a suit and for a moment Zen just looked at him. He looked so different. Was it just the casual clothes? No. He looked softer. Had he even brushed his hair? It looked like he'd just gotten out of bed. He even had an apron on, so that meant it was him cooking and not some fancy hired chef.

"Zen? What are you doing here?"

Zen swept in before Jumin could try to shut the door. "Dude! Where's Seong? Is she okay?" He looked around but didn't see her anywhere.

Jumin looked confused as he followed Zen into the living room. "She's fine. She's in the shower."

Zen stopped and looked at him. "In the shower? This time of day? Why would she--" He trailed off as Jumin's face turned a rather brilliant shade of red. "Ah...okay, anyway. Why haven't you answered your phone!? I've been worried sick!"

"We've been...busy," said Jumin, a starry-eyed look about him that Zen had definitely never imagined he'd see on Jumin's smug face. "Did something happen?"

"No--Jumin, you do realise that it's been over two weeks since the party, right?"

"What?"

"You're not keeping her here, are you?"

"No, of course not!" Jumin shook his head like he was trying to clear away cobwebs. "Two weeks? Really? Has it been that long?"

"Yes!" Zen blew out his lips and massaged his temples. What was Jumin thinking? He wanted to ask what they had been doing, but then thought better of it. Maybe he didn't want to know. "You're sure she's okay?"

Just then, the door to the bedroom flew open and Seong came out, a flimsy bathrobe barely tied around her. She was towelling off her hair. "Jumin~! Where did you throw my bra? I can't find it anywhere!" She was laughing and happy, Zen could see that much and more, actually, than he had intended to see. She finished with her hair and then saw him. "Ah~! Zen!" and turned around to flee back into the bedroom.

"Ya! I'm sorry, Seong!" he yelled after her, hands flailing. "I didn't see anything...! I promise!" He flinched as Jumin took a step forwards. What was he going to do to him? "Jumin, it's not my fault, I didn't know--"

But Jumin didn't look angry exactly. "Zen," he said softly, staring at the door Seong had disappeared through, "what should I do? I love her so much."

Zen gaped at him. Who was this new Jumin? He shook his head. Well, at least it wasn't what he'd feared but in some ways it was just as bad. The two of them couldn't stay locked away in the penthouse forever, like some kind of weird fairytale.

"I'm glad, Jumin. But you've got to get out of the house more, okay? Seong's not going to be happy trapped up here all the time."

"She's not trapped--"

"I know, that's not what I meant. I just mean that there's a whole world out there, you know? If you truly want to treasure her, you've both got to get out there. Okay?" Zen clapped him on the back. "Do things together. Like, normal things. Go on a date, right?"

"A date? Yes..." Jumin was talking to himself now. "We haven't been on a date! Maybe Paris..." He fumbled for his phone, already dialing numbers. "Or Rome...what time is it, anyway...?" He'd already forgotten that Zen was there.

Zen sighed and left. He'd done all that he could. At least he was pretty sure they'd get out of the penthouse. That was something, anyway. That, and Seong had looked happy. Everything was going to be okay.

(And before my brain starts thinking up any more scenes, let's just summarise and say that Jumin wants to take them to Paris but Seong, once she recovers from her embarrassment at Zen seeing her like that--thank goodness the robe had mostly covered things--talks him into simply taking her out to dinner. After that, Jumin tries to plan something every day for them to do: museums, the aquarium, movies...he researches good date locations on the Internet, looks up TripAdvisor ratings and generally goes a bit overboard trying to set up the perfect date until finally Seong puts her foot down. She doesn't argue with him because he's good at that and she knows he'll try and pretend he doesn't know what she means, but she knows it's time they settled into something more like a normal life. She fears he'll go a bit crazy if he has nothing constructive to do. So she leaves out a few interesting business articles carefully culled from newspapers and magazines. Gaps in the marketplace. An actual market for an upscale cat hotel and cat wine...soon they have started up a small business together and with something to focus on besides Seong, they start to settle into a rhythm. But when Valentine's rolls around, Jumin has his way and they do go to Paris...) 

HAHA and I made this...because I'm pretty sure this is what happened.





Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Party (Part VIII)

(This covers the final day of Jumin's route -- The party. This is the Good Ending...and a bit about the Normal Ending because, honestly, I think it's better. And herein almost wraps up the love story of Seong Yi and Jumin Han...except for the After Ending I'm going to write up later.)

Seong Yi woke up early. Dawn was just breaking, the sun colouring the city gold. She lay in bed for a moment trying to hold on to the dream she'd been having. She'd fallen asleep thinking about Jumin and the taste of his lips and her dreams had been filled with him too. But she couldn't remember exactly what had happened in the dream, now that she was awake, and that left her with a feeling of emptiness.

Today wasn't the day for that. Today was going to be a good day. The first day of a new life. She could feel it.

Yeah, you oughta be thanking her. Seong Yi is a saint,
I tell you. Any normal woman would have karate
chopped your controlling butt and run.
She took the dress Jumin had bought her out of the closet. It wasn't like anything she had ever worn before. It was by some designer that she had never even heard of. It was a veritable confection of a dress; a brilliant turquoise with ruffles that swayed as she walked. She wasn't even sure what material it was made of but it felt good against her skin.

(Okay, the dress is kinda ugly, but let's go with it. I personally think it's a bit froofy and colourful for Jumin, but what do I know?)

She logged on to the messenger to see who was on and it was pretty much everyone. And they were all excited, though perhaps not as excited as she was. And afterwards, she talked to Jumin one last time. By the end of the call, her heart was beating fast. How could he say those things so calmly? Still...now she wasn't sure if she was more excited by the party or what must surely come after...

She arrived right on time to find an absolute throng of people and reporters. She'd never seen anything like it. And there was an actual red carpet! It was insane. She wasn't sure if she was glad or not that she had worn the fancy dress. A few reporters snapped pictures of her as she walked in, yelling at her to tell them her name, but she just dashed inside. The first person she saw was Jaehee.

(Possibly the strangest thing to me about the party visual novel bits are that the MC never gets a chance to say a single word. It's a little weird. There's absolutely no agency in the party sections at all. It was the same with Zen and Yoosung. It would be nice if they'd allowed at least a little bit of choice or at the very very least, the ability to say "Hey, Jaehee! You're shorter than I thought you'd be!" or something. It seems really weird to not say a single thing.)

It was a whirlwind of faces after that. Yoosung, Zen, Seven, V...but the face she was looking for...where was he?

Then there was a murmur from the crowd. What was going on? Was it Jumin? But no, it was Glam Choi and she was basically announcing that Jumin and Sarah were going to get married! That wasn't possible, was it? Jumin had talked to his father...he'd said it went well. This couldn't be what he meant!

"Don't worry, Seong Yi," Seven told her. But how could she not?

Jumin took the microphone from Glam. He begin talking about how he had met someone special recently and what that person meant to him. Seong could see Sarah preening off to the side and Glam smiling from ear to ear. But the Chairman looked troubled. Seven patted her on the shoulder. "Just wait," he said.

Seong, I'm sorry you
still have no eyes...
but, hey, at least your hair
looks good. That's something.
"And that person is...Seong Yi--"

(Not the exact wording, but I don't have time to go back through the whole party scene right now and basically this is the important bit.)

Seong took a shaky breath. He had pointed her and the other RFA members out at the beginning of his speech and now everyone was looking at her. Camera flashes were going off everywhere. But then Jumin dropped the next bomb...Sarah was Glam's sister. They had been conspiring together. Chairman Han was reeling and Jumin was threatening a lawsuit. The reporters were going absolutely mad.

And Jumin, calm, cool, collected Jumin, left in the middle of it all to approach Seong. V seemed to be expecting whatever was going to happen next. He had a wry grin on his face.

Jumin knelt down on one knee in front of Seong and took her hand in his. Was this...was this what she thought it was? In front of all these people? Now? Here?

It was.

She could only nod her head yes amid the flashbulbs.

(So. Okay. That was the Good Ending. I'd saved right before the party and went back and played it for the Normal Ending as well. And...yeah. I think the normal ending is better. It doesn't really make sense how Cheritz did this. In the Good Ending, he very publicly declares everything and shoves the MC into the spotlight. Sure, a marriage proposal is cool, but he's basically just turned their lives into a celebrity circus and is still spending all his time working. 

Now then...in the Normal Ending, when asked who his girlfriend is, he doesn't name her. Not only that, but he steps down from his position as Director so that he can concentrate on more important things in life -- and, quite frankly, isn't he like a gazillionaire already? It's not like he needs to work. His family still owns the company and he'll get dividends or whatever -- then he goes over to Seong and tells her he loves her and wants to be with her always, etc. 

Then it cuts to a year and a half in the future and they are married. It's a surprise birthday party thrown for Seong, not by Jumin, but by their employees. So, obviously they've started some kind of smaller business together and they are both very beloved by their employees. Jumin is even wearing a more casual outfit and not all armoured up in a business suit looking all untouchable. The MC is also wearing something that seems more in keeping with her non-flashy personality. They look happy, their employees are happy...they are probably spending WAY more time together than if Jumin had stayed as the Director at C&R and they are bound to be doing well financially as he was already rich as Midas...So. Yeah. The normal ending is better AND more romantic. The only thing it doesn't include is the actual proposal, but they are married, so who cares? I definitely like it better.)

Seriously...who the hell is that?
Hit man Jumin?
And he just got back from his
honeymoon. Why does he look
so pissed off?

After Ending


Welp, they got married awfully quick! And this definitely assumes that the Good Ending is what came before based on the paparazzi factor. The quick marriage part seems about right, though, with the way Jumin is. I think he's the kind of guy that isn't going to wait around once he's figured something out. He loves Seong Yi, ergo they should be married. And I think he'd be able to convince her, so long as he wasn't continuing to say creepy stuff. I think the first thing she'd do is get rid of that cage...

There's not really anything to write up here, though, as the majority of it was an RFA chat where all you find out is that boy, they got married fast, Zen is jealous, and reporters are hounding them. Then there's a brief glimpse of them at the airport where Jumin doesn't even look like himself. Seriously. What happened to the art? That's not Jumin. I dunno who that is. It was a little freaky. And that was it.

Basically, you find out they got married right away. Not exactly an earth shaking revelation. Yeah, guys, we kinda knew that would probably happen.

So... I'm going to write up a different after ending as soon as I get a chance because I can't leave Seong hanging like this. I think it'll be right after the party but with the Normal Ending...perhaps after they have dinner with The Chairman and return to the Penthouse. Because I don't think Seong Yi goes back to Rika's apartment after the party...after all, there's something that Jumin's been thinking about all week long and I don't think he can wait anymore...

EDIT: Go on to the After Ending...

Valentine's Day


Zen, you're probably right.
I didn't actually like this After Ending bit in Mystic Messenger much either. Basically, it's their first Valentine's Day together. Jumin's had to go on a business trip for 4 days. They talk on the phone and he sounds like he's not going to be coming home after all. Does he even know what day it is? Zen calls and is righteously angry that Jumin is treating his beloved wife so poorly on Valentine's Day of all days. Then Jumin shows up with an armload of gifts and tra la la la la, everything is happy.

I was a bit meh about this one. It doesn't fit in my head for the character I created, though I get why they did it. I imagine they were thinking, hey, what woman wouldn't want to be completely spoiled rotten by their uber rich husband? Well, how about one who won him partly by NOT being a gold digger? Still, Jumin was sweet in that you could see he was thinking about her while he was gone and each thing he bought sort of had a reason behind it. But, let's face it, it was just stuff. The whole thing was about stuff -- the MC wanders around the penthouse looking at things they've bought together or been given. Stuff and things.

The best bit, to be honest, was the phone call with Zen. Ah, Zen. You are always looking out for me. His righteous indignation is a thing to behold.

The Day Before the Party (Part VII)

(I'm going to mostly summarise Day 10 as, while a lot of things started getting wrapped up and set up for the next day, there were also lots of bits that Seong wouldn't know about -- more Jumin & Rika flashbacks, things that happened at the C&R Offices -- and stuff that moves the story forward but weren't particular exciting. Besides, Seong and Jumin didn't really spend any time together on this day and there wasn't anything shmexy to cover...And, yeah, it's 11 PM and I'm tired but this is the only chance I've had to write it up. Little dude is on his half term break. There were actually some really good phone calls today, though, with less creeptastic-ness in them. Seong has made it past all of the break points. You go, girl! And I mostly avoided using the walkthroughs. I just looked up a couple of things when it felt like both options were horrible.)

Jumin left early for work, promising to be back for lunch, after which Seong was supposed to go home. Home? She was starting to wonder what that really meant. Everyone in the RFA kept referring to Rika's apartment as "home," the place that she was supposed to go back to. But it wasn't home, not at all. She'd barely lived there longer than she'd been at Jumin's. And home wasn't that temporary apartment she had been staying in either, with the boxes still stacked against the wall. Home was starting to feel more and more like wherever Jumin was. But she couldn't say that out loud, not to anyone, least of all to Jumin. She had realised that they needed to start over. Not completely over, no, that was impossible. They had gone too far for that. But they needed a starting point, a clear starting point where they could some day look back and say, yes, that's when we came to our love together. That's when things really began. A starting point that was normal. One where she could come and go as she pleased without him threatening to fall apart.

Aw, Jumin. You can be such a
charmer when you aren't being
a creepy sadist.
So she waited for him, filling her day with trying to pry information out of the elusive Seven without success and trying to comfort Yoosung, who apparently couldn't handle one fluffy white cat on his own. (I'm finding it rather comic that Yoosung becomes a vet in the good end in his route. Really, Yoosung? haha) She finished up her last freelance article that was pending and sent out emails to party guests. They were a very random collection of people and they had such strange questions...but she was getting used to strange. It seemed that was her life now.

She was getting very worried about Seven, though. Everything else seemed to be getting better, though when Jaehee told her that Jumin had invited Sarah and Glam to the party, she had to wonder what he was thinking. But she trusted him to take care of it. She held no jealousy for that woman, only pity. But that didn't mean she had to like her though. Another package had arrived from Jumin...a new dress for the party. It was gorgeous and she was going to wear it.

But Seven...something was really wrong there. She hoped whatever it was wasn't as bad as it seemed to be. She liked Seven. She wanted him to be his usual strange and weirdly wonderful self.

This cracked me up.
Seong: Come see me.
Jumin: I'm leaving now.
Then it was past lunchtime and no Jumin. He'd gotten stuck at work. She was disappointed and lonely and somehow, somehow it felt okay to admit it, so she did. And Jumin, ah, Jumin. He was coming home.

Yes. She did know where home was. She just couldn't call it that yet.

But she still had a wait. She called when he still hadn't arrived an hour later. He was stuck in traffic and wishing he'd taken the helicopter. 

"I hate that the road doesn't understand my feelings," he said and she almost laughed at how sad he sounded. 

He finally arrived and they had barely said hello when V arrived. V! She was finally meeting him. And he'd brought Elizabeth the 3rd. Between the two of them, they convinced Jumin to keep the cat. She promised him that there wouldn't be any problem if they took care of her together. She needed him to understand that she was here to stay and that he wasn't alone. It seemed to get through to him.

(Honestly, I only picked the "keep the cat" options because I knew I had to. I like cats and it isn't the cat's fault, but I'm so annoyed at Rika that I kinda wanted to be all, no, you take the damn cat V and while you're at it, go get the stupid eye surgery, you big idiot, and go talk to Seven because he's making me cry. And enough with the secretive shit. You're a grown man. Start acting like one. But none of that was an option. Hmph.)

How adorable is this?
In part because Jaehee is all,
"Dude. You can't propose
over the messenger."
Then V took her back to the apartment. Jumin was ready to let her go. When she walked out the door, she couldn't help but look back. He was watching her go. They hadn't even kissed goodbye because V was there and it had all happened so quickly. She took a deep breath. She'd see him at the party tomorrow. That would have to be enough.

But, it wasn't. Not for either of them. Jumin called first. She'd only just stepped foot inside the door to Rika's apartment. It felt cold and the air was stale and she didn't want to be there. He told her it felt like there was a giant hole in the middle of the house. She knew just what he meant. As far as she was concerned, Rika's entire apartment felt like a black hole. It was an empty place.

"There's something I really want to say to you right now." He was almost whispering. "To be honest, this is what I wanted to say the most...from the moment you took my heart."

"What is it?" Could it, would it be...what she hoped? What she so wanted to hear?

"I love you. I love you so much."

It was.

They talked for a little longer but finally, reluctantly, hung up. Seong went to the window and looked out. The view was still good, but there was nothing in it she wanted to see. She hesitated for a moment, then called Jumin back. She needed to hear his voice just one more time before she could go to sleep.

She couldn't wait for the party.


(Ugh, the story mode at the end of Day 10. Not something Seong would know, so not part of the playthrough, but I'm gonna be a bit pissed if something bad happens to Seven. Or maybe it's V that went to Mint Eye. But I think it might be Seven. Would rather it was V because he kind of ticks me off and I wouldn't really care if something bad happens to him. In every route I've done so far, it seems like a lot of problems could have been avoided if V would start being honest.)

Monday, February 12, 2018

Seong Yi, The Patient (Part VI)

(This post covers Day 9 in the...er, love story of Seong Yi and Jumin Han. Again, there's a lot going on but I'm only going to highlight a few scenes because otherwise this will get impossibly long and it's late and I'm tired. HAHAHA This whole thing is already ridiculously long. This is the sixth freaking post. Poor Yoosung only got one post. I feel kind of guilty about that. I'm sorry Yoosung. You were sweet and I want you to be happy in your virtual life and all that. But...)

Seong wakes up in the wee hours and finds Jumin sitting in the chair by the bed. He was still completely dressed and he leaned forward wanting to know if everything is okay, if she's comfortable, if there's anything he can do. Seong wants to know what he's doing up. Has he slept at all? How long has he been there? Did he even go to bed?

"I was observing you sleep," he says, without a trace of self consciousness or embarrassment. "You can't know how wonderful it is to hear you breathe when you're sleeping."

Seong doesn't know what to say. She listens silently as he waxes rhapsodical on the moonlight hitting her hair and how it makes him feel. And on how he knows that once the sun comes up, his anxiety will return. He's jittery now, trying to make her understand. He's terrified she'll leave. She can see it. She tries to lead him with some questions, but she's not a psychiatrist. She's not sure if she's really helping or not. All she can do is try. He'd been bottling everything in for so long that he's like an endless river. Everything is overflowing out and it's all rushing towards her. She could drown in his eyes.

"I know that I am not rational," he said. He closed his eyes, squeezed them tight like he was trying to shut out the entire world. He was trying. She could see the struggle in him. He was asking her to wait. To trust in him.

"Can you...accept me for who I am?"

She squeezed his hand. He rambled on, bowing his head, eyes still shut, admitting to the thoughts that have been running through his head. Is he trying to scare her, with his talk of fighting himself? That's when she understands, finally. He doesn't need someone else to fight against. He's already in a pitched battle. He just needs someone to support him. To watch over him. To make sure that he wins the fight he's already in. It sounds silly, but he needs positive energy to balance out all the negative. Yin and yang.

"I understand...how you feel. I will wait until you figure things out." It's the only thing she can say.

(Yeah, literally it's the only thing she can say because the alternative option sounds like something headed straight to a bad end. Seriously, Jumin is sexy and everything, but if this was real life it would be absolutely insane. He needs professional help. Of course, none of this could happen in real life. Which is good. Because some crazy shit is going on. Anyway. Back to it. Jumping to the next bit.)

Jumin is busy most of the day and Seong finds more to worry about with Yoosung and 707. It turns out that Zen's dream was actually prophetic. (Pretty sure he's fey and from fairyland...I mean, really. Zen.) The hacker's lair turns out to be the castle in the mountain that Zen dreamed about and Elizabeth the 3rd is actually there. Yoosung and 707 manage to spirit her away, though Yoosung is now equal parts worried about how Seven is acting and about all the cat hair he is covered with. Seong is more worried about Seven after he calls her, sounding as damaged and broken as Jumin has been sounding, though more mysterious by half. But she has no idea how to help him. She doesn't know him well enough to even know what words to say.

(Don't worry, Seven, someone is coming for you after Jumin's route is through. I don't know who yet, but someone. I promise they'll be lovely and funny though I'm sure they'll say some cringeworthy things.)

Seong is glad they've found Elizabeth and hopes that it will help Jumin as well, but Jumin has said he wants to give the cat back to V. V and Rika had given Elizabeth to him in the beginning. Seong doesn't think this is a good idea. He can't abandon Elizabeth. He needs to deal with all the feelings he's been having.

She calls him as often as she can because it makes her feel like at least she's providing some kind of tether to the real world. And it seems to be working. He has a conversation with his father that, while not resolving their issues, is at least a start. He thanks Jaehee for her hard work and even offers her some vacation time. Much needed vacation time. Seong is proud of him. He's starting to pay attention to the outside world again and the people in it. Maybe for the first time, if what Zen says is true.

It's still a struggle though. He's not there yet. He still says things that are...odd...but sometimes it seems like he doesn't even understand that what he's said is wrong. She'll have to show him. For instance, he wants to cut her hair, has already planned it out. Probably even selected the salon. She explains to him that she likes it long. A trim, maybe, but he's going to have to learn that she isn't a dress up doll. She's already sent back one or two of the outfits that he has ordered, though she hasn't told him yet. Baby steps. She wonders for the 100th time what the women The Chairman has been dating all these years were like. She doesn't think she would like any of them.

By the end of the day, she feels like things have turned the corner. Things are going to work out. She'd been saying they would the entire time, but in the back of her mind there had been doubts.

Jumin finally comes home after running some errands and she greets him at the door.

He looked happier than she had seen him--ever, even in pictures. "It's a very happy thing to have someone greet you when you come into your house," he said. "I'd like for you to greet me every day...but I guess we need time."

Yes! Progress. She takes his hand and leads him over to the couch. He does look happy, but he also looks so tired. He's barely slept the last couple of nights. She has to make sure he gets some rest or she fears that everything will fall apart again. They talk quietly for a while about everything that has happened.

"While I was away from you today...I kept remember what you said last night, about staying by my side...Every time I remembered that, I couldn't help but smile." He took her hand in his, his thumb tracing a pattern on her palm. "Seong Yi. If your heart stays with me, then perhaps we can be physically apart."

(Seong Yi resists the urge to cheer. Oh wait, no, that's me. Eh, probably her too.)

"Yes, I think it's time for me to go back to prepare for the party."

Jumin admits that she is right, that he has to grow up and be an adult. She reminds him that they'll see each other at the party. It's almost time for it, after all. And she tries to talk to him about Elizabeth again. He's made so much progress, but he still has so far to go.

He listens, but then he leans towards her. "Seong...it's time to go to bed soon. I want this to be a special night, but..." Is he blushing? He is! "If I see the tiniest bit of opening, I'll try to own you completely. I'm all in or all out, so please..."

Sudden thoughts run through her head and soon he's not the only one blushing. "Okay...I'll just quietly stay by your side."

"Thank you," he said. "You know how to make me happy." He brushes some imaginary lint off of his trousers, still blushing. "Then...shall we go to bed, my angel?"

She didn't answer, at least not with words, partly because she wasn't sure she could say anything in a normal tone of voice. He was right. Even though she had imagined all kinds of things as soon as he'd said it was time to go to bed, his newfound control was too new. Tonight was not the night for...for anything other than sleep. And he desperately needed sleep. So did she.

So she took his hand and led him to the bedroom. He headed towards the chair but she steered him towards the bathroom instead. "No," she said firmly. "Not tonight."

"But..." he said.

"Jumin..." She touched his cheek and traced his jawline, like he had once done to her. "I'm tired. And I know you are too. I said I'd stay by your side and I meant it. But we're both sleeping tonight."

"I--"

"For me," she said. "Maybe...maybe you could hold my hand? Because we can't--" she blushed then -- "...you said it yourself, tonight...we can't..." She cleared her throat. Gah. It was so hard to talk about this. "Let's just sleep, okay?" She shoved him into the bathroom. "Get changed."

Thank goodness she had already put on some pyjamas and double thanks that the ones the guard had brought back from her place weren't remotely sexy. In fact, they were Hello Kitty. Her sister had given them to her as a joke. She sat on the bed and waited for him. It didn't take long.

"Are you sure?" he asked. "Can I really...?"

She had the sudden urge to laugh. He wasn't making this any easier. But she knew that if she didn't make him lay down that he'd wind up in that stupid chair staring at her all night again and not getting any sleep. He was going to turn into a zombie and that wasn't good for anyone. "Get in," she said and patted the bed. She got under the covers at the same time he did, but didn't turn out the light. It was on low anyway and perhaps it would be better if they weren't completely alone in the dark. She turned to face him. Oh lord. His hair. Against the pillow. He already had bed head. It was adorable.

"Good night, Jumin," she whispered and offered him her hand. He took it, lacing their fingers together.

"Good night, my princess."

"And close your eyes," she said, shutting her own. If she looked into his eyes, she was pretty sure she would be lost. As tired as she was, it still took her an hour to fall asleep. He'd put the idea in her head and now she was listening to him breathe. He was right. It was a good sound.

Jumin had thought he would stay up and watch her. He hadn't thought he could sleep with her so near but with her hand in his and the sound of her next to him, he soon drifted off into a dreamless sleep with a small smile on his face that didn't fade away.

When they awoke the next morning, they were still holding hands.


(Ah, phooey, after the next chat and visual novel at the start of Day 10, this doesn't really technically work, but screw it, I'm keeping it anyway because I like it better. Even though I'm trying to keep Jumin mostly true to himself as he's presented in Mystic Messenger, I know I'm making him a bit less creeptastic because Seong Yi deserves better and I am a romantic at heart and I like smushy stuff. Even so, he's pushing it. Jumin, man, you need to get a grip on yourself.)

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Jumin Loses His Marbles (Part V) & Seong Picks Up the Pieces

(Okay, this is Part V and is going to cover Day 8 of Jumin's route but there's a lot going on (six visual sections alone) and there's NO WAY I'm going to write it all out because I do, contrary to other evidence as supplied by this blog, have a life. I'm also going to try and fit it all in one big long post because this is rapidly becoming the Jumin Han show and that's just ludicrous. I am NOT going to cover flashbacks with Rika because this is Seong's story and if it's stuff she doesn't know, it doesn't make sense to put it here. This isn't a walkthrough. It's more like a character playthrough with fictionalised extrapolation. Am also going to expand it from 3rd person close perspective so I can add some inner Jumin thoughts without having to completely switch POV. It's lazy writing but I don't have the time to spend to do it properly and it's already gonna be long enough. I would though just like to say one thing...WTH happened to the Jumin in Zen's route who didn't believe in living together before marriage???)

Breakfast

As promised, Jumin was making strawberry pancakes for breakfast and the sweet smell permeated the penthouse. A somewhat bleary-eyed Seong, having put on the silk bathrobe that Jumin had kindly left at the foot of the bed--she wasn't sure when he'd done that, but she appreciated it--wandered out to the kitchen. The scene wasn't exactly as she had imagined it. He wasn't wearing pyjamas with his hair still messy from bed. He was already showered and dressed in his normal clothes. At least he'd left off the tie and jacket. It made her smile. He looked so devastatingly handsome but strange. Who cooked dressed like that? She suspected he didn't do a lot of cooking on his own. It was sweet that he'd wanted to cook for her when he certainly could have ordered something in.

"Good morning, Seong," said Jumin. "I hope you slept well." He didn't mention that he knew exactly how long and how much she had slept. He had caught some fitful naps himself but had spent much of the night sitting in the chair in the bedroom watching her. It had brought him such peace that he almost felt as if he had slept the night through. He took a good long look at her now, drinking her in. "Your sleepy eyes look very cute."

She blushed and looked away, missing the smile he gave her. She'd tried to comb through her hair with her fingers, but she knew she must look a mess. She hadn't even had a shower yet as she didn't have anything to change into. She really ought to get home.

They ate breakfast on the balcony. There was a small table against the railing, only just big enough to fit two chairs with potted plants all around, like a secluded garden corner. She wondered if he sat alone in this spot a lot. He'd had to borrow a chair from the dining room for her, placing it right next to his. Every time she moved, she could feel his leg next to hers.

The pancakes were delicious, if slightly lumpy. He'd made coffee as well and it warmed her a bit, but she was still cold. There was a chill in the air this high up, so early in the morning. She shivered in the thin robe.

"Are you cold?" asked Jumin, setting aside his fork. The temperature didn't seem to bother him.

"I'm fine," said Seong. "And thank you for breakfast."

He was staring at her again with those intense eyes like he was trying to see inside her head. "No, you are cold, aren't you? Come closer. I'll keep you warm." He put an arm around her and pulled her close to him until she felt like she was nearly on his lap. "Can't have you catching a chill," he said. He kept his arm wrapped around her.

"You won't be able to eat this way," said Seong. It was the only objection her brain could come up with. She was trembling now but it wasn't from the cold. He was only being considerate, right? The robe suddenly felt very thin but it wasn't the cold it wasn't keeping out. It was the heat.

"I...I've had enough," said Jumin. He hadn't thought this through. Now that he had touched her, had put his arm around her, he didn't want to let go. He was just keeping her warm. Yes. It was okay. He brought his other arm around as if he were just making sure her robe was on tight enough to keep the wind out but then left his hand on her waist. Was she shaking? She must really be cold. Perhaps they should go back inside? But then he'd have to let go. He didn't want to do that.

There was nothing for it. Seong took another bite. Chew. Swallow. She couldn't taste the pancakes now. All she could do was feel his warmth. She wasn't cold anymore. Did he know what he was doing? She looked up at him, trying to read the expression on his face. He was looking out over the city.

There was a bit of flour on his nose that she hadn't noticed earlier. "Oh," she said and reached up to brush it off before she thought about what she was doing. He jumped a bit and looked down at her, circled in his arms. "Sorry..." she said. "You had some flour on your nose."

His smile was dazzling. "Thank you for taking care of me," he said.

Seong managed to finish breakfast and they went back inside, bringing the plates with them but leaving them on the kitchen counter.

(To sum up...after breakfast, things seemed to be going well. She gets dressed in yesterday's clothes and feels a bit more steady being fully clothed. Jumin even admits, after Jaehee's last chat, that he needs to go into the office. Seong is glad. He seems to have recovered quite a bit. She should have known better...)

Elizabeth Disappears

(Okay, I was going to really write this part up, but instead I'm going to sum up...Jumin is showing Seong how to take care of Elizabeth the 3rd and lets the cat out of the cage. At the same time, the Chief of Security -- let's call him Ji-hoon--arrives to be introduced to Seong. Elizabeth makes a run for it probably because, like any reasonable creature, she doesn't want to be caged up. Jumin freaks out and this, I think, is his inciting incident--his break point. He's been headed here a long time, from the stepmother that hit on him once he got tall & handsome, to Rika & her manipulative friendship, to V and his unnecessary secrets, to his father's recent betrayal of his trust, and, yes, even his burgeoning feelings for Seong that he doesn't know how to process. He's a mess, this man. Seong offers to help look for the cat, but Jumin looks at her with slightly wild eyes and asks instead that she stay put. He can't take the thought of losing her too, not when he's just found her.)

The door closed behind Jumin. Seong didn't know what to do. She could see he was frantic, but what use was she here? She called Jaehee to break the news. There was no way Jumin would be making it into work, not now.

First Kiss

Elizabeth was still missing. Jumin was...well, outwardly he seemed calm and he spoke in a reasonable sounding voice, but Seong felt like there was something...broken about him. Maybe strangers would look at him and think that he was okay, that he was handling things, perhaps strangely, but handling them at least. But Seong could see that wasn't true. She was afraid for him. Not of him, as Zen kept insisting, but for him. Every phone call, every text, when she saw him...she saw a man walking on a tightrope. Could she keep him from falling off?

He had come back to the penthouse to see her. She suspected he was there partly to make sure she hadn't disappeared like Elizabeth. Ji-hoon, the guard, had been straightforward with her when she had asked. Mr. Han, he'd said, had left instructions that she was to be taken care of and kept safe, but that she wasn't to leave. The poor man had looked very uncomfortable, but she didn't push it. He was only doing his job and besides, she wasn't sure what Jumin would do if she did try and go home. She didn't think he could stand it. Had she really become that important to him? She had to admit to herself that he was important to her. It hurt her to see him looking so fragile.

Fragile. That was the word that kept coming to her as he stood in front of her. It was in his eyes. He looked like something that had already been broken--completely shattered--and then been glued back together but was only being truly held together now by strength of will. How many things had he lost in his life, to look like this?

He looked so very alone and he kept apologising. Maybe that was the worst part. He knew. He knew he was on the edge, looking over into some abyss only he could see. She had nearly worked up the courage to go to him and hug him, though she wasn't sure if it would help or hurt matters, when Ji-hoon interrupted them with the news that Sarah had arrived.

She was claiming to have information on Elizabeth the 3rd's whereabouts. Seong had her doubts and so did Jumin (though Seong was secretly pleased to see how little he wanted to let the woman in), but they couldn't take the chance that it was true. After all, that was what had led to Jumin locking up the cat in the first place, the fear that this woman would try and do something to Elizabeth.

Sarah tried her best to weasel her way in. Seong was shocked. The woman was absolutely shameless, but in the end she got her way and Jumin let her in so he could find out for sure what she knew. She claimed to have a photo.

When she came in, Seong tried her best to be unobtrusive, to fade into the background. The woman was taller than her and so...what was the word? Fancy? Shiny? She looked like she had just stepped out of a salon. A cloud of perfumed air followed her in, something unpleasantly musky. Her lipstick even matched her hair. And here was Seong, wearing yesterday's clothes and no make up at all.

When exactly does Jumin
watch soap operas? Hmmm?
But Sarah noticed her right away and wanted to know who she was. Demanded. Seong tried to explain that she was Jumin's friend but she didn't think the woman even listened. She called her a hookup. A hookup! Seong knew her cheeks were burning but she tried to hold her temper like Jumin was. The more strident the woman got, the calmer he seemed.

And the photo was an obvious fake once Sarah finally produced it. It wasn't Elizabeth. Seong suspected the woman had just found a photo on the Internet of some cat that looked a bit like Elizabeth the 3rd. But still the woman persisted. She wanted tea. She wanted Jumin. No...she wanted his money. And Jumin offered it to her...! Seong stared at him, shocked. She stepped closer. What was he doing? Was he seriously offering this terrible woman millions to go away? What was he thinking?

Sarah turned on her again, calling her even worse names, insinuating that she too was there for Jumin's money. Telling her she was plain. Ugly. Threatening to call the Chairman. Seong was shaking but Jumin was like the calm before the storm. She couldn't help herself. She stepped behind him if only so she didn't have to see the vile woman's face. But he stopped her and pulled her forwards, hands on her shoulders. "Seong Yi is not an average girl," he said. "What you see isn't everything. You won't understand, even if I explain it to you."

Seong was even more worried now but Sarah seemed about to launch into another diatribe. Did she not hear how calm and calculated his voice was? She could feel it. He was going to do something. She wasn't sure what. But something. This woman was pushing him too hard.

"There was something I wanted to do..." said Jumin. Then Seong was confused. He was talking about soap operas? He was telling her he was sorry? For what? He was going to do what soon anyway? What was going on? The look on Sarah's face told Seong that she was just as confused.

Oh, you sly dog, Jumin.
But then Jumin spun her around and put his hand beneath Seong's chin, a bit of her hair caught between his fingers. Sarah let out an angry exclamation of surprise as Jumin bent to kiss Seong softly -- so softly -- on the lips. It was a gentle kiss and it didn't last long, but long enough. No, not long enough.

"Ju--Jumin!?"

"Shh..." he said, pulling back just barely, his breath across her lips. He opened his eyes and looked at her. So close. He was so close. "You're blushing. You'd better close your eyes. Focus on your senses."

So help her, she did, not even caring anymore that Sarah was there watching them. He kissed her again, not quite so softly this time, his tongue briefly flirting with her bottom lip. Even though her eyes were closed, she knew somehow that his were open, watching her, watching her reaction.

Sarah was yelling something but Seong had no thought to spare for whatever it was the woman was saying. She had no thoughts at all, nothing beyond what his lips felt like, the taste of him. How long had it been since she had kissed someone? Had it ever been like this? No. Never. It had never felt like this.

"Your lips are so warm and soft," said Jumin, pulling away. She dropped her forehead to his chest, not sure where to look. "And...I think I smell a bit of the pancake?" Was he teasing her? "You're cute, Seong Yi."

Sarah stormed out, but Seong stayed where she was, her head against his chest, just breathing, until he took a step back. She looked at him and he looked away. What was he thinking? Had he done that just to drive that woman away? No, he wouldn't have done that, would he? That wouldn't be fair.

"Jumin...can we really do this?"

"To be honest...I wanted to kiss you from the first moment I saw you." He was still staring at the floor and messing with his shirt cuff, turning his cuff link around and around. "I'm sorry if that was too sudden. I wanted you to be comfortable here...Perhaps I've bothered you." He finally looked up. "But I don't regret what I did."

Seong opened and shut her mouth a few times, discarding every thought before she said it. She didn't regret it either--how could she? That meltingly sweet kiss? But she wasn't sure he was in the right frame of mind to be...well, to be starting something...something like this.

"Is this appropriate...when Elizabeth is missing?" was what she finally said. It wasn't what she really wanted to say, but it was the best she could come up with. She had the feeling that if she admitted how much she had wanted that kiss that they would wind up somewhere neither of them were ready to go yet.

"This has nothing to do with that. It's my emotions. And Elizabeth isn't here, but you are. Oh...I just realized something after the kiss. That you are indeed different from Elizabeth the 3rd."

(Seriously? Grrrr. What gave you a clue, Jumin? The lack of fur? The walking on two legs? That her breath doesn't smell like tuna? Poor MM MC's...Yoosung confuses her with Rika...Jumin with a cat...it's a wonder these poor girls don't have some kind of complex. Instead they are veritable saints..if they want to find their happily ever after, anyway.)

He went on, telling her how she was his special person, the only one to understand him. That he needed someone like her and not a cat. Someone like her? Or actually her? Would anyone have done with Elizabeth gone? Would he have kissed Jaehee if she'd been here instead? At least he did seem to understand that she wasn't a cat. God, what was she thinking? If he was that confused...

"You can be mine," he said. "That makes me so happy."

"Jumin...first, calm down. You were worried about Elizabeth a minute ago!" She wanted to say more, but she didn't dare. How much could she push, when he was like this? He was a man on a tightrope and he was looking at her like she was the only thing holding him to the rope. If she pushed, he might just jump.

"I want you. And I want you to want me too."

Her heart skipped a beat and she felt something almost like pain in her chest. She had to admit it to herself. She wanted him too. But not like this. She wanted to know he wanted her for the right reasons. That he wasn't just trying to replace his cat with her. That he wasn't using her to get out of an arranged marriage he didn't want. That she wasn't just a lifeline. If she wanted anything at all, it was a relationship. She didn't want to be a life preserver for a drowning man.

"I think any relationship needs time...Let's think about it. First, let's find Elizabeth."

He seemed to accept that, but she ached at the look on his face. He was saying he wanted her. All of her. Here with him.

She wanted to hug him then, but she couldn't. Not yet.

Jumin is Losing It

Zen. Oppa. You're still
my favourite. Because no matter
what, you are always trying to
look out for me.
To sum up...because there's way too much if I really tried to write it all out...Seong Yi stays at Jumin's penthouse because she feels he needs her there. Well, to be entirely truthful, she also doesn't want to test what would happen if she tried to leave. Ji-hoon has made it quite clear that he will do his job. She does at least get him to go to her apartment--her real one, not Rika's--and get her some clothes so that she can change. And he finds her a laptop to use so she can work. Luckily she keeps all her working files in the Cloud because she can't get her own laptop from Rika's.

Later that afternoon, though, packages start to arrive. Apparently Jumin had time inbetween visiting television stations and newspapers placing missing cat ads to order her some things. A few dresses, some shoes. Hair ribbons. Freshly prepared meals. But he makes it quite clear that he doesn't want her to leave the building. She calls him every chance she gets. He sounds like a drowning man to her. So she stays, even though Zen is about to have a conniption fit. The things he's imagining are a bit terrifying, to be honest, but with some of the things that Jumin has been saying...jesus...he did make that joke about the cage, didn't he? She has to keep Jumin calm. She's got to get him back to his senses.

And something strange is going on with Yoosung and 707. She's worried about that too. She does her best to fill her time with work and with answering prospective guest emails but Jumin's penthouse is beginning to feel a bit like a gilded cage.

Nighttime...and That Phone Call

Jumin was back home. They had dinner and some wine. He was being charming, if a bit...controlling. But there was no question that he was trying. He was just having trouble letting go. But she wanted to see him smile. A real smile. For him to not look like the weight of the entire world was on his shoulders. So even though they were in the same room, she took her phone out of her pocket and called him.

She watched as he picked up his phone and raised an eyebrow when he saw who the call was from. Would he answer? He did. She smiled to herself.

"There is no wall standing between us. You are in front of my eyes and I am in front of yours. But you call me and smile? Are you playing with me? This is fun."

She was at one end of the couch and he was at the other. He swung his legs up and around so that he was facing her. He was staring her in the eyes. Smiling. A devilish smile, perhaps. And suddenly, she was a little nervous.

"Still, I won't move. I just want to stay still and look at you until you want me so desperately."

She swallowed. Definitely nervous now. She felt a blush spread across her face and brought her fingers up to her lips. Was he staring at her lips? She was remembering their kiss from that morning. Had he guessed how much she had wanted him to kiss her again?

"...I love seeing you make that face. Let's just say it's my fantasy. You look at me like you want something."

She couldn't look away. She'd wanted to make him smile, but...

"Is there something that you want me to do?"

She couldn't stop herself. "If I tell you, will you play it out for me?" She couldn't lie, not with him looking at her like that. She tried to say it lightly, a bit like a joke, but her voice came out huskier than she had intended. She swallowed again.

"I've repeated the same words ever since you came here. I will do whatever you want. If it's me that you want, I will give myself to you."

A billion thoughts ran through her head. All of the things she had been thinking about since he had kissed her earlier. The things she had thought about late at night before she had even come here, listening to the rumble of his voice. Ah! No, no, she couldn't go that far--but she had to say something now, now that she had started this.

"Do you know...sleeping beauty?"

He did. Of course he did. Everyone knew sleeping beauty. She watched and listened as he told her the story, still sitting there across from her on the couch, long legs stretched out, feet crossed at the ankles.

"...But I enjoy looking at your wide eyes more so I will wake you up with a...kiss." He took a finger and touched his lips, smiling at her the whole while. He knew. He knew how much she wanted to feel his lips again. She closed her eyes. Breathe in, breathe out. She really, really need to catch her breath, slow her heart down, get ahold of herself.

"That face, you want to pretend that you're sleeping?" He laughed softly. "Let's see how long you can bear it until you open your eyes."

Her eyelashes fluttered but she kept her eyes closed. She felt the cushions of the couch shift as he moved. She'd forgotten the phone now. It fell from her hands but it didn't matter. She could hear him. He was right there in front of her.

"You can be more greedy. Much more greedy."

Could she? Did she dare? Her hands...she wanted to reach out to him but she didn't quite have the nerve to do it.

"You can act like a baby to me. I'm ready to do whatever it takes to satisfy you."

He was...coming to her. She could feel him as he crawled across the sofa towards her, over her legs, closer. She held her breath in anticipation. He was moving so slowly, so deliberately. And then he was there, his voice right in her ear. It didn't even matter what he was saying, she was at her limit. She reached out and pulled him to her, pulled his lips to hers. She didn't want to be Sleeping Beauty, some passive sleeping princess that things just happened to.

This kiss wasn't like the last one, soft and quick and over too soon. It was deep and long and she climbed out of it feeling out of breath, like she'd run a marathon. She finally opened her eyes. How long had they been kissing? It could have been a minute, an hour, a day. She had no sense of time anymore. Somehow she had slid down the couch and she lay underneath him. She could feel the weight of his body along hers, his knee between her legs. His face was flushed, his eyes heavy, staring down at her. If they were in a fairytale now, it would be the one with the Big, Bad Wolf.

"Ah," she said. That had definitely not gone as planned. She'd wanted to make him smile, that was all, but now...now. She'd lost herself there. It was too soon for this, too soon. With everything going on...no. How had she let it go so far? Oh, why couldn't it go farther?

She pulled herself up and happily he let her because if he had resisted at all, if he had kissed her again, she didn't know if she would have been able to stop. "Maybe, ah, maybe we should have some coffee? Or...something?"

He sat up and leaned back against the couch. "Yes, my princess. If that's what you want." He took a bit of her hair and twined it around his finger. "But someday, maybe we'll try another play. Any story you want. I know some good ones. Promise?"

She nodded, not trusting herself to speak. Coffee. She needed coffee. No. A shower. A long, cold shower.

(Continue on to Day 9...Seong the Patient (Part VI) and Wise)

(I didn't actually feel like this call should have been on this day. It's almost too early for it since Jumin spends most of the day acting like a bit of a freak and Seong Yi should be a bit more careful as if she encourages him too much he'll probably go off the deep end, BUT on the other hand, it was quite shmexy (at least in my head), as above. I actually found the djounishi below on Pinterest, though I couldn't locate the original source. Wish I could credit the artist. I'll try and search again when I have time. Really nicely done.)