Wednesday, February 28, 2018

A little encouragement...

I had an event for World Book Day (it's kind of more like a week long thing, but whatever) yesterday at a high school in London. I'd been a bit bummed about it as there were going to be all these signing sessions and the local bookseller wasn't able to order in any of my books at all (the first two are hard to find in anything other than digital now, the third one is impossible over here except via Amazon, and the fourth about the same). I have a few copies left from my author stash, but that's it. I had tried with the publishers to see if I could get some in but with the shipping charges internationally it worked out to be too expensive. Cheaper for people to buy off of Amazon. Which doesn't help when you are actually at a table and supposed to be signing books. So I'd kind of resigned myself to the fact that I'd be sitting there doing nothing while everyone else was busy. It's kind of an embarrassing thing, generally.

But the bookseller lady was kind enough to let me bring in a small stack from my own stash (I just brought 13 total of 3 books--that was heavy enough along with all the workshop materials). And she actually sold out! And there were a few girls who had actually read my first book already! I don't even know how! That was the first time in ages for that. It's been quite depressing, really, that you can't get my books over here. I haven't seen one of my books in a bookshop here--ever. Most of my readers are in the US and not here and no surprise in that as it's not like someone would ever come across me here by accident since they aren't in shops. It's really hard to promote a book when no one can get it. And depressing.

Anyway, it was nice.  Unexpected. The panel and workshop went pretty well too. And it was nice to see my fellow writers (a few of which I hadn't met before). And am even getting paid for the time (a bit)!

Tomorrow is another event at little dude's school. I volunteered for that one as I like to give something to his school (used to do it at his old one too) though I might have bit off a bit more than I can going to be doing 6 workshops! It's going to be a long, long day. I have to finish preparing for it today. It's mostly done, but just a few more things to get ready. So, I'd better get to it.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Ten thoughts on Mystic Messenger...

So...yeah. Finished now with 707's route (Good Ending and Normal Ending). And the After Ending and Valentine's Day. And Secret 1. Have to earn some more hourglasses and hearts before I can read Secret 2.

I have thoughts. On 707 and MM in general.

One, Rika should just die already. Seriously. Lots of people have mental illnesses and paranoid delusions without starting up religious cults and trying to kill people or brainwash people or pretty much any of the things she did. Also, V is an absolute idiot. He's nearly as bad as Rika, maybe more so since he knew about at least some of the stuff she was doing. He's essentially an enabler. He shouldn't have let her go off and go crazy and take people with her (what, exactly, did he think was going on with Saeran all this time?)--if he really loved her, he probably should have committed her. That girl needs some medication. Or a straight jacket. Probably both.

It really makes me wonder about the people I have seen posting in the forums about how much they like Rika and want a route for her. And V, honestly. WTF. I don't get that at all. They are both seriously damaged people that need help.

Anyway. Good thing they aren't real.

Two, I like Seven more now. He worked out okay in the end mostly and he's a guy who is always trying to do the right thing and has been taken advantage of by too many people he trusted. I would not say that his route through the game was my favourite by any means, even if he is obviously the "end game" as far as the plot goes. I was really not liking him much in the middle of his route at all (yeah, let's admit it, that's kind of common to all the routes except perhaps Zen) but by the end I was rooting for him. You have to, really, because he's got everything going against him. And he's sweet in his own way. Still stand by what I said before though; it is by far the route where the MC has to act the stupidest and weakest and put up with the most crap. Even Jumin, with his stupid cage jokes...meh. It was easier to get through that than Seven's. Maybe because I also knew enough about what was coming that I was kinda pissy anyway.

Three, WTF was up with that useless After Ending for Seven that was basically mostly just a dream that didn't happen? What was the point of that? Oh, I suppose it was the one nice CG you get out of it...

I am never a fan of "it was just a dream" plot devices. That should have died with J.R. Ewing. FFS.

Four, the Valentine's Day after ending was good. One of the better ones. If I had to rank them, I'd actually say Seven's (even though the dark chocolate route could be very freaky deaky depending on how you interpret what he says), then Yoosung's (surprisingly--it was sweet) and Zen and Jumin kind of tied. Both of them I wanted to write up my own endings.

Five, Zen is still my favourite, though I'm not at all satisfied with his After Endings either. It's not even so much his route that makes him my fav--it's that he is always the one who says all the stuff that should be said and that the MC should be thinking about. He calls it every time--from Yoosung's crazy fixation on Rika to Jumin's possible S&M streak to needing to be careful of Seven. He really does always look out for you. Yeah, he's a narcissist and you'd maybe hate him in real life, but in the game he's the best thing you've got. It makes me want to play his route again. :) I can see why they say to play him first. If I'd started with Seven, I'd have given up and not played anymore. That said, he has one of the least satisfying After Endings as he and the MC aren't married and are still struggling with how open they can be about their relationship and where it's going.

Six, I might even go back and play Jaehee sometime, which I didn't think I'd want to do considering how much I wanted to smack her in Zen's route. But she's grown on me. I don't mind that it's not a romantic route either as it's hard to think of her that way anyway. But she's the only one I didn't buy a calling card for...hrmmm. We'll see. It can't be this week anyway as I've got way too much to do and two Book Week events and I need to actually SLEEP so I don't look like a zombie while I'm doing the workshops for the kids. So no late night MM for me.

Seven, I have less than no interest in playing Another Story (especially since it is supposed to have occurred before the Original Story). None. Zip. Zilch. Nada. I feel bad for Saeran/Ray but only in relation to the pain that he caused Saeyoung. There's no way I'm sitting through 11 days of what must be Mint Eye Hell to play his route. And I don't like V. I was perhaps slightly curious before but after playing Seven's route, I really, really don't want to go there. The only thing I want to do to V is smack him upside the head.

Eight, I kind of want to unlock the CGs that are missing but...I don't really want to play any bad ends. I can't be bad to all my MM dudes. I like them too much. I suppose this is a character flaw in myself? Or maybe not. I dunno.

Nine, well done to Cheritz for creating a very immersive game. Even with it's flaws, it kept me interested and intrigued. As a writer, there were a lot of things I would have done differently but I kind of get why they did what they did. Sort of. Anyway, it has a nice combination of addictive gameplay and well done voice acting. I'd say it's my favourite mobile game that I've tried (I've deleted so many...sigh).

Ten, I'm not sure if I'm more or less interested in playing Cheritz's other games now. Nameless has been on my wishlist but I kind of wonder if the flaws I see in MM are also there? A lot of it comes down to the MC for me. I don't like really weak or stupid heroines. Mostly MM was okay but there were definitely times that I wanted to groan aloud at the choices presented. I've yet to see a game where I loved every bit of it though. Weak heroines seem to be par for the course, for the most part. Not that anyone is perfect. It wouldn't be right if there were no flaws and everything sails along smoothly -- plot doesn't work that way. You could say Aria in my 4th book had a lot of issues there, but that was part of her character the end, she's come through that. I suppose I just need a believable reason for the MC to start off weak and she's got to grow and change. Maybe that was the issue with Seven's route -- she starts off pretty strong and then gets stupid for no apparent reason.

Anyway, thinking about all of this too much, as per usual.

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 next 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 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.

Edit (very spoilery bit to follow): Am almost finished with the red haired guys route's kinda...well...weird. I mean that in the sense that it doesn't fit in with the rest of the game at all. It's really out of left field. Basically, the MC has to choose to "Enter Society" to do his route. What does that mean? Ha! see, you had to have "blackened" your reputation a bit to even have taken his route (which you can do by either eating one specialised meal at the restaurant or by working in the Flower Street hostess...of sorts...yeah. Kind of a low-key call girl where you flirt with older dudes and serve them tea. A geisha kind of thing. It's the most money making job in the game.)

The MC even acts more like an idiot when she's around him. Not really getting his appeal. Much preferred the Christopher DM character, but that's me. I'm not huge on "bad boys" anyway, especially when you have to act like an idiot to be with one. 
So...yeah...if you take his route, you basically forgo all your pastry education and he buys you the Flower "Cafe" you've been working at part time as the Madam is retiring. And you decide to turn it into a butler cafe. And he's basically involved with this Mafia-type stuff and lots of family drama and you get kidnapped at one point (in one of the bad ends you both basically die in a fire while clinging to each other in terror). So there's all that stuff balanced with you learning about English tea ceremonies, Italian Coffee, Japanese Tea Houses, and Chinese tea service. I didn't actually mind the learning bit even though it went on for a really long time because I thought it was interesting (so sue me, I like tea and coffee and learning about my heritage--and at the least the UK stuff was super easy as I live here. I can talk high tea, man.). It's not something I'd play through more than once though.

Anyway, nearly done with it but thought I'd go ahead and edit this post. It almost feels like the developers just threw in his route as a nod to bad boy lovers because it's such a pessimistic route compared to the MC's normal frame of mind (here she's very concerned about money and reputation and feels "soiled" and basically all the stuff she was dreaming of before is ignored). He's not bad, though, though he is flirty and it's definitely the route compared to the others. By far. At least he does seem to genuinely care about the MC.

Edit 2: Yeah, I finished it and it didn't change my opinion that it's the odd one out route. The after ending epilogue thing was even kind of dodgy (he's super possessive but is trying to be nice). It just all feels weird.

Edit 3: I finished the whole thing...(not from the very beginning, but from a save in the third bit) and did the William Good and Normal endings. So glad I found a walkthrough that gave some hints as I tried it once without any (you have 12 days to find 12 secrets related to your father/mother) and it would have taken WAY more than the 2 tries I did to get it if I hadn't found the walkthrough. And it wasn't even really interesting or was all about timing. So kinda grindy. It was a fairly satisfying end (the Good one) in that she stood up for herself and didn't cave to either societal pressure or outsider influences. Either this one or the Christopher DM one are the best for that -- she stays most true to her original goals in these two routes, I think.

William's is definitely the end game as far as the game itself goes, however, even if Christopher DM and Henry Yin actually get twice as many CGs) because it's the only way to find out who the MC's father is. Not that we all didn't already know who it was (it was blatantly obvious from the first time you met him). And I suppose it is the most wish fulfilment end as she becomes a Princess Consort. Thank goodness William is a good guy.

I think the teacher is actually my favourite route, though. It was more satisfying somehow, perhaps because he cares about you from the very beginning (you wouldn't even have made it into the school if it weren't for him) and all the way to the end. It's a bit weird how you never see any of your other friends or love interests once you enter the end game too...I kind of think they should have added some closure there, like a CG of a school reunion or something.

The last thing to talk about is the after endings...Henry (blonde), Christopher (blue), and William (silver) all have pretty good ones. Haonan Ye's (red) is kinda sucky. And then there's an "extra" one for Lina (Christopher's little sister who is the MCs age and was a classmate) that's basically just fan service. It was...kinda ridiculous. I'd rather they have done one for Henin instead. sum up...I enjoyed this one. I don't think it's one that I would play again as I've finished all the good endings now and it is way too grindy for me to go back and do bad endings just for kicks. If the translation had been better, it would have been really good, I think. It wasn't horrible, was just often really...awkward.

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, 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 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.

Update...morning of Day 9...All of the above was basically end of Day 7/beginning of Day 8...

Yeah. Okay, I give up. I have to just walkthrough this completely now because there's no way that Izumi would make it past Day 8. It's not so much how Seven is treating her (though it is that too) but the stupid things the MC has to say and do. Yes, each route has had their share of moments where you have to completely suspend disbelief...but...this is the first route where I couldn't work out some kind of character justification in my head. Not even coming up with a completely different character works for me. The MC has no choice but to act like an absolute idiot and/or petulant child. Seven even calls her an idiot at one point in one of the visual novel sections and, yeah, I'm with you. It wouldn't have mattered what choice you picked...she was just acting stupid. And it's not just one bit. There's a lot of bits. And it isn't until Day 9 in the morning (when the MC is asleep so she can't even hear it, though I suppose you could say that she was just pretending to sleep and actually heard what he had to say) that you get a hint that Seven's actually really truly got some feelings for her and is feeling conflicted because mostly he's been a raging asshole since he arrived at the apartment. finish up our poor Izumi's story...I think she would leave during Day 8. There's a phone call from Seven at one point where he calls because the MC has left the apartment (which, come on, is one of the idiotic things she does...she knows there's a freaking crazy hacker person with a personal vendetta out there who knows exactly where she is and what she looks like). I think this is when Izumi would leave and here's how it would happen:

Is it The End?

Izumi hefted her backpack as she softly shut the door behind her. Seven had been so busy working that he hadn't even noticed that she had packed her few belongings in her battered bag and left the apartment. He was a wreck. She could see that. And even though he didn't want to admit it, she couldn't help feeling responsible. If she hadn't downloaded that app...if she hadn't blindly gone where the hacker had led her...none of this would have happened. And not only had she inadvertently started it all but now she was only making it worse.

She cared about him. She had realised that much, at least. She'd been thinking about it all morning -- should she stay? Would it help him if she stayed? But it had become more and more obvious to her that staying only put him in more danger. From the agency. From his brother. Maybe if they had met at a different time or under different, she couldn't think about it anymore. It was better if she left. She wanted him to be safe.

But she couldn't just disappear on him completely. He'd probably imagine the worst, that Saeran had somehow captured her. She'd written a note but hadn't left it in the room because she didn't want him to notice right away.

She walked down the stairs so he wouldn't get an alert about the elevator being used and went to the convenience store across the street. It took some convincing, but she managed to pry a bag of Honey Buddha Chips from the clerk. She opened a corner of the bag and stuck her letter inside and went back to the building for the last time.

She was about to leave the bag in the elevator when her phone rang. Oh. It was Seven.

"Where are you? Where did you go on your own?" He took a deep breath. "You were so quiet I thought you were asleep...I had to check the security feed on the hallway to see that you left." He sounded upset. He sounded tired. "That was 7 minutes ago. I didn't realize that you'd left for 7 minutes...What if something happened in that time?"

Ah, he had noticed after all. She'd thought she'd have more time. "You didn't answer me. I didn't want to bother you." Not that she'd actually said anything, but it was true enough for him to believe it. He'd been ignoring her as much as he could all day.

"If you felt that frustrated staying inside, you should have just taken off my headphones and made me listen to you...Are you mad that I was ignoring you?" He was going to lecture her again, wasn't he? Like she was an idiot. Did he really not see that all she wanted was for him to be okay? "You do realize how dangerous the situation is right now, right? How could you leave on your own even when you know a hacker is after this place? Some strange person could have been waiting outside to kidnap you."

She sighed. Of course she knew that. She had carefully monitored the CCTV before she'd left and put on her most concealing clothes. The hoodie hid her face and she'd tied back her hair. And she'd kept the mace she had for protection in the front pouch, just in case. But she couldn't say any of that.

"Where are you?" asked Seven.

"I'm waiting for the elevator downstairs. It's almost here." It wasn't a lie.

"...I should have put a GPS tracking device on your clothes. Oh...I brought a couple here."

She knew. She'd taken one, though she hadn't turned it on. He'd been so self-absorbed that he hadn't even noticed that what she'd been reading online had been about how to use the devices. They weren't that complicated, really.

"Give me your jacket when you get back so that I can attach it. Why in the world did you leave?"

"I wanted to get you some Honey Buddha Chips to make you feel better." The best lies were half truths.

"...You don't need to care about me."

Too late, Seven. She put the bag of chips inside the elevator, pressed the button, and stepped back out before the door closed. She left the building and hurried down the street. The bus was just pulling up and she hopped on, glad for a bit of luck. She sat down in the back, hugging the phone to her ear under the hoodie. She wanted to hear every last word.

"I told you to leave me alone just to work...Why didn't you listen to me? Hurry back inside..."

Now he was telling her about the sandwiches he'd made for lunch. It was obvious he'd made three different kinds so that she'd have something she'd like, but, like normal, he was denying it. Saying it was all for him. She smiled a sad smile. He never really thought about himself, did he?

"Oh...I just heard the elevator. You're on it, right? I'll be waiting in front of the door. I can't focus until I see you...Hurry."

He hung up. She stared at the phone a moment and then turned it off. She flipped it over and took out the SIM card. Then she put on her headphones and turned up the music as loud as she could stand it as she stared out the window as the bus went down the road.


The elevator door opened, but the elevator was empty. Seven rushed forwards and stopped the door from closing again. What was going on? Where was she? Did she take the stairs instead? He was about to let the door shut when he noticed something on the floor.

It was a bag of Honey Buddha Chips. What were they doing there? There was something sticking out of one corner. He picked up the bag and opened it all the way. There was a letter inside.

He let the elevator doors close behind him and the elevator began to descend. With one hand he dialed his phone and with the other he unfolded the letter. It rang once and then..."The person you have called is unavailable right now. Please leave a message at the tone or try again." Had she turned off her phone? What was going on? He'd literally just talked to her! Had Saeran come? The elevator opened and he ran outside, startling a pigeon. There was no one there. No sign of Izumi.

He ran back upstairs. She wasn't in the stairwell. She wasn't in the apartment. He checked the CCTV footage and saw her leaving the building, her head down and...her backpack? She had her backpack? He looked around Rika's apartment. Her things...all her things...were gone.

He looked down at the letter still crumpled in his fist and flattened it out. It was from her. He stood in the centre of the room, forgotten Honey Buddha Chips scattered around his feet, and read it.

My Dearest Saeyoung,
     It feels strange to call you that, but it also feels right. You are also My Seven. My Luciel. My Defender of Justice!
     I'm sure you've figured it out by now that I've gone. You're the smartest person I've ever met. I'm sorry to leave this way and there's a part of me that doesn't want to leave at all because I love you. There. I said it. I love you, Saeyoung.
     I'm sorry I didn't get to say that to you face to face. I've never loved anyone before. I know you looked into my background when I first came, though I don't know how much words on a screen can tell you about a person. You probably know where I went to school and who my parents were and how my mother died and what care home I grew up in...but those are just words, right? Those are just facts about me. Those words didn't show you my heart.
     I have left because I love you. I hope you can understand that. More than anything, I want you to be safe and happy. I don't want to be a pawn that your brother or the organisation he is in can use against you. I don't want to cause you pain. You can leave the apartment now and the bomb behind. Go home or somewhere else. Wherever you are safest.
     I don't know why or how they chose me. Did he know what would happen or was it just chance? I don't know. But I don't regret it, because I got to meet you and love someone for the first time. I can't even say that I loved my parents. Isn't that sad? Maybe I did, when I was a baby, but I don't remember it. Thoughts of them are just empty holes in my heart but thoughts of you...I'm glad I love you. Not just my happy, silly 707, but you.
     I hope that you find your brother, but I hope that you are careful. What am I saying? Of course you'll be careful. Please rely on Jumin and the others. I don't know if you can trust V. I hope there's an explanation there, but I don't know. But I do know that I'm not the only one that loves you. They each love you in their own way and they will help you if you let them.
     I am sad that the most helpful thing I can do is leave, but it's the one thing I have control over. Please don't worry. I'm not helpless or stupid. I have not led the sheltered kind of life that Yoosung has. I can take care of myself.
     I don't know if the party will happen or not, given the way things are, but I forwarded all the guest information to Jaehee. Please tell them all goodbye for me. I have deleted the Messenger app and shut off my phone. By the time you read this, I will be on my way. To where? I can't say.
     I hope that we can meet again someday.
     I love you. 
P.S. Do you remember the story of Hansel and Gretel and how they left breadcrumbs? Such a silly thing to do, right? The birds stole them away. But some breadcrumbs last longer, don't they?

Seven sat down right there on the floor. She was gone. She loved him. She was trying to protect him when all he had wanted to do was protect her. He--he didn't know what to do. He hadn't had time to put the tracker on her. Why hadn't he done it sooner? Why had he pushed so hard?

There was a notification beep from his laptop. He looked over at it dully. A tracking beacon had been activated? He grabbed his laptop and zoomed in. The tracker blipped twice more, moving north on 43rd Street, and then stopped. Wait. He rifled through his bag. How many trackers had he brought with him? Four, right?

There were only three left. Three? He thought about what she had said about breadcrumbs. Izumi. He tried to turn the tracker back on but two way communication had been disabled. How had she known to do that? Where did 43rd Street go? He opened up the map and searched. The main bus station was on that route but the nearest train terminal was nearby as well. He leapt up, ready to run there if he had to, when his laptop beeped again. One of the programs he'd kicked off earlier had finished. He hesitated. What should he do? Then his phone rang and he answered, hoping it was her, but it was Vanderwood.


So, yeah. I think Izumi turns on the tracker every now and then, sometimes once a day, sometimes only once a week. Imagine Seven leaping to his laptop whenever he hears a notification and the map in his head updating with the new data as each little blip appears. A blip in Busan. A week in Seoul. Nothing for a while and then a month with dots all over Gwangju. Then a surprise as she pops up in Nagasaki. Yoosung gets a postcard every now and then. Jaehee receives some surprise flowers. Zen a kabuki mask from Tokyo. Jumin a cat toy. Seven periodically gets strange little packages with random things that make him laugh but also tear up.

Does Seven solve all his Mint Eye problems and find his brother and they reconcile? I hope so. Does V finally reveal all his secrets? I doubt it. Perhaps Seven's mother is dead. Perhaps his father loses his "real" family in an accident (perhaps even one caused by Mint Eye, who knows). Perhaps he doesn't and lives on, oblivious and safe and powerful. But I hope karma bites him in the ass. Does Seven get out of the agency? Maybe. I don't know. I certainly hope so.

Ideally, a year or two passes. Izumi turns the tracker on one day and forgets to turn it off. Maybe on purpose, maybe not. She's in Jeju-do, which is on a South Korean island off the coast. She's working at a resort there, one of the beach-y places full of rich tourists. She's cut her hair a bit shorter. And one day...


Okay, so I'm on Day 10 of the route now (having used the walkthrough, though I could mostly guess at the correct answers). It did improve. It was mostly Days 7 and 8 that I really wanted to bang my head in. And there are some sweet calls and moments (that I'd totally love to extrapolate out if I had the time to do it, but I don't as I've got two school visits next week for Book Week) in late Day 9 and Day 10. But I still stand by my ending for Izumi because I think she'd have had to leave at that point.  Like I said before, every route has those bits that are hard to get through. I just found Seven's to be the one where the MC really has to shut off her brain and her heart to get through those parts and I couldn't do it with Izumi.

Yeah, I get too attached. Not that I haven't killed characters in my books before. But, you know.

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).


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 I go back and the first decision point where you pick either "let him choose his own outfit" to "choose for him" choose for 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 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??). 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, 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,, 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 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?"


"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? 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 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.