Mystic Messenger Fanfiction | VanderwoodxOC Cerise – Tagged | Bonds Are Formed

Talking to Crystal felt a lot different than talking to her friend back home. It was like Crystal actually cared about what she had to say. That was actually a really nice feeling.

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*Remember, this is a sequel to Vanderwood Backstory, and Cerise has a bio. You can support my writing on patreon and get access to my VIP Discord Server or other goodies like early chapter releases and hidden scenes.  Tagged Chapter Directory*

Vanderwood woke slowly and checked the time. Damn, he’d kind of slept in? It was already 10, and he needed breakfast. He untangled himself from Cerise, looking at her for a moment, thinking about the night before. Maybe a little dangerous to do, but his thoughts were interrupted anyway as he heard shuffling in the kitchen. So, Crystal was probably up and searching for food. What the Hell was going on with his life right now?

He made his way in there, grumbling a good morning. “You should sit down. I can make breakfast.” She had an amused look on her face but just leaned against the counter, hands cupping over her small baby bump before he looked away. He did not want to think about kids right now. “So, you’re a gentleman and an idiot.” Vanderwood snorted at her. “Sure, I am. What are you insulting me over now?” He figured she would probably need something a little heavier, so omelets were the way to go, even though Cerise wouldn’t be cutting the broccoli for him today. He couldn’t help thinking that she shouldn’t be anyway. Bringing his old life back into his new life with her, he didn’t deserve her.

Crystal’s voice had his eyebrow twitching. “She said yes, you know. To all of it.” He didn’t like people nosing into his life, but Crystal continued as he tried to focus on preparing food to stay relaxed. “Doesn’t mean I should bring it home.” The woman sighed heavily. “Doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you, more than anything in this world.” Vanderwood bit his tongue.

Alright, so maybe she was right. Cerise had fought him on a similar situation before, and he remembered her saying that she was ready to accept everything that came with being with him. Still, he couldn’t help thinking that maybe she didn’t fully understand what that meant. He shook his head, too tired and annoyed to want to think much more of it. “Why am I taking the advice of an escort who probably got pregnant by one of her johns? Whose is it?” That was none too polite, but if she was nosing, he was going to nose in, too.

She narrowed her eyes at him before she smacked the back of his head, not hard, but enough to get the point across. “Absolutely none of your business, you ass, but my baby is no john’s.” Crystal huffed as he turned to stare at her over his shoulder. Had she just? She had. Granted he deserved it, in hindsight. She just ran her hands over her belly. Calling Zen’s baby that of some john’s…it was insulting to him in a weird way, insulting to the baby. She didn’t so much care for being insulted herself, but not Zen and not her baby.

Cerise had woken up by now and walked into the kitchen, following the voices she was hearing coming from it. She arrived just in time to hear Marion asking Crystal a really inappropriate question. Cerise had opened her mouth to say something to him, but Crystal’s swift smack to the back of his head beat her to it. Stifling a laugh, she made her way beside him to start some coffee. “You deserved that, you know.” With a yawn, she set a pot of coffee to brew. ” …Morning, by the way.”

Well, she wasn’t sure if Crystal liked coffee or not, but if she did, there would be more than enough for the two of them. Marion would probably end up drinking his usual breakfast tea. When she passed Crystal to go sit at the table to wait while the coffee was brewing, she grinned at her and uttered a, “Good job.” Her fiancée definitely deserved the smack. “Marion, don’t be such a jerk, by the way.” She called to him from her place at the table.

“Yeah, I know.” He sighed and focused on breakfast. Vanderwood was not about to have an easy life for a while, it seemed. Crystal gave Cerise a wink before going to join her at the table, mostly to get away from the enticing smell of coffee, although it followed her. Maybe she would just have a little, although a doctor would probably say it was best not to have any. That was, if the baby was even okay after a certain stunt she’d pulled recently and all the stress she’d managed to put herself under. It was far easier to focus on the problems of others rather than her own, so she redirected her attention to watching.

Once the food was done, Vanderwood set down a plate for each of the women and himself, placing his plate next to Cerise’s before going to get her coffee. Maybe he could get some bonus points by making it just the way she liked. “Did you want some, Crystal?” The lavender haired woman looked up from the food she’d apparently been too hungry to resist starting on to mumble past her hand, thanks to her full mouth. “Just a little. Not good for the baby to have too much.” He nodded and got her a smaller amount, setting it down before getting tea for himself.

Oh, Cerise didn’t even think about coffee not being good to have while pregnant. Cerise guessed that caffeine wasn’t so great for the developing baby, then. She was also guessing that Marion was trying to earn points by making her coffee. Cerise took a sip once he put it in front of her. Okay…so it was good. Really good. She took a few more sips. He was safe. For now. As he was making his tea, she may as well get to know Crystal a little better, but once she put her coffee cup down to do so, Cerise scrunched up her face.

Crystal was really going at that food. It was all over her mouth, and she looked a bit wild, really. For such a gorgeous and seemingly elegant woman, she sure ate like she hadn’t been fed in years. Was that a pregnant thing? Her hair was already put together into a neat ponytail, and she was even dressed in a tight blouse and a pair of pants that looked really good on her, even if they were pants, and her jewelry was stunning on her. Someone this put together couldn’t possibly eat like that on a regular basis…Unless she was the weird one. Cerise eyed her food. Should she shovel it in?

It took the kettle a little while, and the women were quiet as they ate, so he had plenty of time to think. Cerise was right, he really was being a douche. He didn’t exactly have a relationship of any kind with his former escort, but…the least he could do was be decent and apologize. Vanderwood filled his mug, making his way back over to them and sinking into his chair next to Cerise, who was looking at her omelet a little oddly. “Hey…I’m uh….sorry for that question by the way.”

The lavender-haired woman just shrugged, accepting his apology. God, he was an ass for having asked her, but more than anything Vanderwood was just happy it wasn’t his. He looked over at Cerise, still looking at her omelet, before leaning to give her cheek a quick kiss that made her almost jump. She gave him a little peck and started on her food, finally. If he was having children with anyone, it would be her, although he still wasn’t sure he could handle it. Not now anyway. More than likely, he’d be an absentee father, too worried about screwing the kid up to do much. He picked a little at his food, earning himself a raised eyebrow from Crystal who was observing him again. It made him uncomfortable, but obviously he was going to need to get used to it.

Cerise had been totally zoned out before his kiss to her cheek had brought her out of her stupor, unable to keep from giving him a little peck in return. That just started her to thinking about how wonderful he was and all of the snuggling she wanted to give him when they got the chance to be alone. She just couldn’t help it; she loved him, and she loved the affection he showed her. It made her feel warm and giddy, like she wanted to dance around. Cerise found that she couldn’t really stay upset with him for a long period of time. She reached over to give his arm a squeeze, still smiling. “Thanks for breakfast~ It’s good!” To make her point, she speared some of her breakfast onto her fork and put it in her mouth with an audible, “Omph!” sound, winking and giving him a thumbs-up of approval.

Vanderwood’s smile grew wide at her behavior. She was adorable, and she was his. He wrapped an arm around the back of her chair as he ate. Crystal seemed to be enjoying what she was observing….as well as the food… “Crystal, slow down before you choke, Bloody Hell.” The lavender-haired woman shook her hand at him before covering her full mouth. “I’m pregnant, I’ll eat as much and as fast as I want.”

Cerise had never really encountered a pregnant woman before, so she didn’t know whether or not Crystal was just like this or it was something the pregnancy was making her do. Holy crap, this woman put away some food. It was kind of impressive…in a way. She glanced between Marion and Crystal during their exchange and noticed that he backed off. Smart move.

He had opened his mouth as though to argue before deciding better of it. Probably best not to argue with a potentially hormonal pregnant woman. Vanderwood wasn’t risking it. “So, uh…you want to watch some TV after this, or?” He wasn’t used to social interaction, let alone with Crystal. She just swallowed hard and looked between them with excitement. “Either of you heard of telenovelas?”

After Crystal’s question, Cerise’s eyes widened, and her face lit up. She had the most ridiculous smile on her face, and she felt like she could jump out of her seat. “Do…do you watch them, too?” Her tone was pitched with excitement. It would be great to watch them with someone who appreciated them as much as she did. Marion would watch with her, but he just wasn’t into them as much as she was, and there were some times where he wouldn’t tell her what they were saying, even though she knew he could understand.

Vanderwood just stared, his cup with tea still up to his lips. Oh, dear God. Crystal watched them, too. Not that he really disliked them, other than the stupid donkey ones, but now there were two super fans in the house. Did Crystal speak Spanish? He really hoped not, because there were plenty of times he just couldn’t translate for Cerise, because he felt the things being said weren’t appropriate.

Crystal was overly excited. “You know them!!! Ever since I learned Spanish, I started watching them all the time. They’re just so exciting!” Vanderwood felt like he had a headache, and besides that…translating was his thing. Maybe he was being childish, but helping Cerise understand what had been going on in her favorite shows…when they’d first started dating, it had made him feel…proud, like he could offer her something that was important to her. He bit his tongue. Yeah, that probably was childish.

“Yes! But…” Cerise smiled a little sheepishly, “I can’t really understand them. Luckily, though…” She gestured towards her husband-to-be. “I have this cutie to translate for me! It’s been a lot more exciting now that I know what’s going on.” This was so exciting…to meet someone who loved these things as much as she did. Cerise wondered what her favorite one was; she’d have to ask. Her friends back in Paris just didn’t understand. Telenovelas were like an art form. Other similar programs from other countries never came close…Though, she’d heard that there were some interesting ones from India. She’d have to try them out one day. “We should watch after breakfast! I think my favorite one is going to air soon! Ahhhh~ I think today we find out who the maid’s mystery lover is!”

Vanderwood’s face turned bright red at Cerise’s comments and he coughed softly, wrapping his arm around the back of her chair again. Crystal was too excited to notice the deep blush on his face, at least for now. “I think I know which one you’re talking about! I’ll have to fill in whatever gaps this one leaves for you.” He was still red, and she managed to catch it now, chuckling a little. “I’m sure I’m a better translator.” His eyebrow twitched. “Try it.” How had Crystal even learned Spanish? Vanderwood’s total immersion probably won out over however she had learned it.

Crystal just rolled her eyes at him and went back to chatting with Cerise about their favorite telenovelas. Cerise’s honey-gold eyes had been flicking between them as they seemed to get into some sort of competition over who would be the better translator. While it was exciting to have a new friend to watch with, nothing could replace the time she spent watching with him and letting him translate for her. Plus, he let her snuggle into him while they watched television. No way was Crystal going to take his job; Cerise was just thankful to have someone to fangirl with. She was going to speak up and tell them it didn’t really matter, knowing that Marion was clearly getting frustrated, but just as quickly, she and Crystal were discussing their favorite shows.

The lavender-haired beauty of a woman loved a lot of the same shows she did; plus, she went in being able to understand them from the get-go and was able to talk about them more in depth than Cerise could. They had been talking for a while until the conversation led to the awful rapping donkey. Was it just her or was there a chill in the room? He was totally tuning it out until he heard something about the rapping donkey. Immediately, he was paying full attention. “I hate that stupid donkey. It’s the worst plot I’ve ever seen. Completely senseless.”  Cerise was happy as well to find that Crystal also hated the dumb thing, responding to Marion. “I have to agree. It’s a bit of a disaster, and I usually love weird things like that.” Well, maybe it was a little concerning that she tended to like ‘dumb things like that,’ but Cerise wasn’t about to split hairs. “Yeah…I have no idea who thought that was a good idea…”

Cerise got up to clean up the plates and put the dishes in the sink before setting off towards the television in the living room. She turned it on and switched to the promised station, delighted to see that her favorite one was on the opening credits. Crystal was already up and positioning herself on one side of the couch while Vanderwood stretched and started to head towards their bedroom before Cerise caught his attention. “Hey, you wanna come watch too, Marion?” She called out to him. Maybe he wouldn’t mind watching with two women.

He had been intending to just let them do their thing, but it was also tempting to out-translate Crystal. That and he did enjoy the way Cerise curled into him when they watched together. Although he wasn’t sure how comfortable she would be doing that with someone else watching. Vanderwood thought about it for a moment before Crystal spoke up, holding her hand out to the side with a smirk. “Don’t you want to find out who the better Spanish speaker is?”

His eyebrow twitched briefly. How did she know exactly what would bother him most? Was she a mind reader? No. He’d asked himself that millions of times before, but she was just irritatingly observant. “I mostly just want to spend time with my fiancée.” He grumbled a little before taking his place on the couch, the middle, so he could leave room for Cerise to snuggle with her feet over the other armrest if she wanted to. That and he just wanted to keep the women a little more away from each other. It made him uneasy that they were forming some sort of camaraderie. Before he knew it, he would have two women bossing him around and only one that he could tolerate it from. “Let’s watch.” His voice was a little gruff, but he softened up pretty easily once Cerise took her place. She just had that calming effect on him. Even the night before when he’d almost slipped, she was his saving grace.

Cerise threw her feet over the armrest and took her place snuggled into him as the opening credits on the show faded away. It had opened with a dramatic close-up of a lady’s face, who she had realized, thanks to Marion, was the employer and not the maid’s sister or friend or anything else that Cerise had made up in her head. In the long run, it did make sense as to why the lady was so bossy.

The woman had pointed accusingly towards the maid, yelling something or other before picking up a shoe and throwing it towards the maid, which hit her in the shoulder. Offended, the maid threw it back, and it began to look like a weird game of hot potato….except with a shoe. More yelling once the shoe was dropped, and then this guy came bursting through the doors. Both ladies looked completely shocked, because another guy who looked exactly the same followed. Cerise furrowed her eyebrows and instinctively looked up to her fiancé, waiting for him to explain, because…what was even going on there?

Vanderwood was maybe a little hyper focused. So, a challenge could maybe get him a little hyped up. Usually, he had nothing to prove, but he rather liked the job of being Cerise’s translator. When Cerise looked up at him, Crystal looked over at him expectantly as well, although he knew she was more interested in seeing how good his Spanish was. “The boss lady says she saw the maid together with her husband again last night, so this is just the same fight again. They’re insulting each other. The boss lady is saying the maid is stealing the love of her life, and now the twin brothers enter. It seems that the maid is not sleeping with the man of the house but with his far richer brother.”  They watched a little further before Vanderwood’s stoic face turned a little gruffer. “Now the boss lady is going for the brother, so she’s pretty shallow.”

Cerise listened and the scene made a lot more sense than anything she would have thought up in her head. It seemed that she was always way off when it came to figuring out what was going on. So, to the lady…it seemed that she didn’t care as long as the guy was rich. That was really rude of her, and Cerise did not like her one bit. “That’s really crappy of her…” She mumbled as she watched what was going on now. More yelling and screaming. Cerise looked up to Marion again, whose face had begun to turn red. It must have been one of those times that he didn’t feel the need to translate.

The boss lady had shoved her husband towards the maid before attaching herself to the richer brother. Now the maid started screaming at the richer man and the boss lady, and Vanderwood’s face filled with color. “I’m not translating that.” Crystal started to actually laugh at him, soft and dainty but definitely laughing at him. “I never pegged you for a prude, Vanderwood.” She flicked her ponytail before beginning to translate, looking at the TV, and there was nothing he could do about it.

For him, it was like watching a car crash. Also, his fiancée was in his lap, so that didn’t help, because as usual the problem was his imagination more than anything. “She’s telling them that she is far better at satisfying a man and can deep-throat far better than any other woman out there. The boss lady seems to think that she’s better, because she’s the woman on top.” Thankfully, Vanderwood knew Cerise wouldn’t understand any of that, so he relaxed somewhat.

Cerise hadn’t expected Crystal to start translating and had pretty much accepted it that she wasn’t going to find out what was being said. Now, Cerise scrunched up her nose at Crystal’s translation. Okay, so the boss lady thought that she should be with the guy, because she was powerful, and the maid…had something lodged in her throat? That didn’t seem helpful at all. How in the world did she think that would be helpful to the guy? “Wouldn’t…erm…” Cerise was trying to find the right words. “…how does that help anyone? Wouldn’t she need to go to the hospital?” She stopped to think for a moment before a light went off in her head. “Oh! I get it now!” That’s where the doctor guy comes in!” Now that made sense. How scandalous.

Crystal was looking at Cerise like she had two heads before she figured out that apparently, she didn’t know those phrases. Vanderwood caught her too late before she was explaining. “Being the woman on top means you’re on top of the man when you’re having sex. Deep-throating means his dick deep into your throat, so you can take more in.” His eyebrow was now twitching like crazy, and he was biting his tongue, focused on not letting his mind wander anywhere. “Could you not? I liked it much better when I paid you to be quiet. How much would that be now?” That was way inappropriate, but he was not in a good mood. Crystal looked over to lock eyes with Cerise’s before she smacked the back of Vanderwood’s head, who just grumbled and accepted it, sinking back into the couch. “She has as much of a right to know as you do, and I have as much of a right to talk.”

Okay, so that wasn’t anything Cerise had been expecting. She’d just kind of stared at Crystal before Marion spoke, saying something again that he really had no business saying. Cerise was starting to get a little irritated that he kept alluding to the fact that he used to pay Crystal for her ‘services.’ Was he dense or something? In what world did he believe that if he kept mentioning it, she wouldn’t get at least a little upset? The smack to the back of his head delivered by Crystal was so well-deserved, but it didn’t really make her feel any better.

Cerise took out her phone and typed up a message. `Just bcuz I’m ok w/ evrythng doesn’t mean u shud continue 2 bring it up.` She wasn’t quite ready to have this conversation in the same room with the two of them, so Cerise got up from the couch, announcing that she was going to chill in her room for a little while. Once she was inside and the door was locked, she hit send on the message. Cerise had no issue with Crystal being around; she actually liked her. What she didn’t like was Marion’s constant reminder of what he used to do with the person who was sitting right there. That was a little too uncomfortable for her. She just knew that it happened; she didn’t need specifics, nor did she want to be constantly reminded…yet this was the second time he had alluded to it just that day. She loved him but jeeze. Cerise grabbed a kitty-shaped pillow and squeezed it to her chest. That jerk…

Vanderwood had known almost immediately as it had left his mouth that he’d said something way beyond propriety, but he hadn’t expected Cerise to walk off and lock herself into the bedroom. He sat there in silence with Crystal glaring at him before his phone pinged, and he checked the message. Damn it… Vanderwood bit his tongue and looked up at the ceiling. It made sense, he just hadn’t thought about it, not in the moment. Should he reply? He really didn’t know how to.

“You know you’re not making it any easier on her.” Vanderwood grumbled in response before sending back, `Sorry.` Crystal just kept talking, and although he was irritated, he had to admit, she was pretty good with this stuff. Certainly, a lot better than him. Taking advice from a whore, imagine. “She’s obviously insecure. Not that anything is wrong with her; she’s lovely, and I’m certain you feel more for her than you ever have for anyone else, but she doesn’t look like your type or act like your type and continuing to point out what you did with me, not helping that either.”

Crystal looked towards Cerise’s room with a sigh. Was Vanderwood even listening to her? From his body-language, it seemed like he was. His head had slightly tipped in her direction, even if he was staring at the TV with his arms folded. “Yeah, you slept around, you’re a bit of a screwed-up guy, no pun intended. She knows and accepts that, but you don’t have to push it in her face.”

Vanderwood furrowed his brows momentarily before he returned to his stoic expression. It already made sense to him that he shouldn’t be making reminders of what Crystal used to do for him, but he hadn’t thought about her insecurity before. Now that Crystal pointed it out, the last night had been a little odd. The way she responded to Crystal’s presence as she’d come into the room, it hadn’t been the way she normally responded to other women.

He felt really fucking stupid, and Crystal seemed very aware of the fact that he was actually listening to her. “So. Talk to her. Oh, and let her know I’ll gladly watch more of these with her when you’re done.” Crystal gave him a little push which had him glaring at her again. She hadn’t ever touched him in their interactions before, other than when he’d requested it, which was basically never. Still, Crystal gave him a little wave to make him keep going. They didn’t have that kind of situation between them anymore, and whether he liked it or not, she cared about what happened between him and his sweet little bride-to-be. God, he hated being touched, but it wasn’t like she wasn’t pushing him in the right direction. Vanderwood lightly rapped his knuckles on the door to Cerise’s room. Would she even want to hear him out right now? Usually, she was pretty good about it, but he was acting like a shit lately, so he couldn’t blame her for not wanting to deal with it right now. “Hey, Cerise…can we talk?”

Cerise looked up from her pillow and towards the door. She had a feeling that he would have wanted to talk sooner or later, although she hadn’t expected it right away. Cerise didn’t answer at first, choosing to remain quiet. It’s not that she didn’t have anything to say or that she didn’t want to talk and get things settled. Cerise just knew that it would bother him if she didn’t answer right away. It was petty more than anything, but she didn’t even care.

Vanderwood had known why she wasn’t opening the door. That was a habit of hers sometimes, making him stew in it. Cerise knew he wasn’t the most patient person in the world, but in this case, he wouldn’t blame her if she made him wait all day. He leaned his hip against the doorframe as he waited until she opened the door a few minutes later.

She let this go on for two or three minutes before finally getting up and going to the door. If she knew him, he wouldn’t leave so easily. Sighing, she opened the door to let him in. “You really are a jerk, you know that? She turned around to take her place on the bed, pulling another pillow into her arms and holding it close to her chest.” His response came out as a sigh. “Yeah, I know…” Vanderwood closed the door after he entered, not wanting Crystal as a fly on the wall, even though she seemed to know when to butt out. Cerise eyed him for a moment. “So…let’s talk

He watched Cerise for a little while, the way she was hugging her pillow a long-familiar pose now. Words didn’t come easily to him. Vanderwood wished he could just hold her, but they really did need to talk, or at least he did. He chose to sit on the floor so as not to loom over her. It always felt more right to talk on level ground when they were discussing important things, although like this she was just a little above him. That was fine on his end; he’d just rather not be the one looming.

Her eyes silently followed him as he sat down on the floor, waiting for him to say his piece with a hard gaze. At least he realized what a jerk he was being. She could tell that he was having a little trouble finding words to say, which wasn’t unusual for him. Cerise waited patiently while he debated with himself. She could wait all day if she had to, but it wasn’t long before he did start talking. “I’m sorry for being an ass. I don’t really know how to act with her in normal situations, since my life has never been normal…not that that excuses it. I didn’t mean to…dangle the situation in front of you. I’m just irritated and confused about a lot of things.” He wrapped his arms around his knees, feeling like he looked and felt a lot like a small child, but so be it. “I’m sorry. I’m just bad at this…but I’m trying. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

She listened and tried to take it in. At least he was apologizing and realized what exactly it was that made him an ass mcvanderjerkface. Being irritated did tend to make him act out, and usually, she found it kind of funny, but there was a line that he had crossed that was not okay today. Cerise waited for him to finish before asking a question of her own, making sure to look him in the eye as she spoke. “I get why you’re irritated…but why are you confused? What’s there to be confused about?” She was trying not to focus on how adorable he looked right now, because she was mad, dammit.

Her question had him confused again. What was it really that he was so confused about? Everything was the only thing he could think, but that wasn’t right. His whole life was just weird. “I went from one lifestyle to a completely other one. I love you, I love our relationship, and I love our life together, but it’s confusing when the two lifestyles mix. It’s making keeping myself calm the proper way difficult…I think that’s what’s confusing. My brain is telling me two things.”

Vanderwood felt even more like shit admitting it, that he felt like he was slipping a little. “I’m sorry…It’s not that I’m not happy or that you don’t satisfy me…I’m just a mess of a person…” His addiction was a barrier, one he was doing everything he could to get rid of. “I won’t ever use you like that…but the mix is…that’s what’s confusing.” Did she understand? It felt like he was drowning. He didn’t want to hurt her any more than he already had, but she needed to know. Above all, she needed to know he wasn’t going to step out of line that way. She was all that mattered to him now, and he would do anything and everything to protect her and their relationship.

Cerise’s eyes widened for a moment. So, the issue was that his addiction was starting to try and complicate things? She thought she followed. Having someone around from that past was probably hard for him…especially if it was the person he would rely on the most. As much as she understood what he was telling her, why it was hard and confusing for him…she couldn’t help but to feel a good deal of self-consciousness. It wasn’t his fault; he was just a victim of circumstance. At first, she wasn’t quite sure what she could say; she loved him and understood that it was a difficult situation.

“Marion…” Cerise sighed and put her pillow to the side, crawling down onto the floor with him. “I trust you…okay? I think you’re stronger than you realize.” She made her way to sit beside him, leaning against him a little. “It’s going to take a while…but look how far you’ve come in such a short time. How about…during these times, if you feel like it’s becoming too much, text me. We’ll come in here and just talk.” Cerise looked to him to study his face. It was such a childish solution, but in this particular case, she felt that maybe isolation from the situation could be the way to go, not wanting to overexpose him to his past and stress him out further…which would stress her out, causing arguments aplenty.

He’d tensed just a little when she moved towards him to lean on him, but he was really trying to listen to what she was saying, pay attention to her words rather than the tenseness of his body. Vanderwood leaned his head lightly against hers before turning his head to kiss the top of hers. “I just don’t want to hurt you…” He pulled back to see her studying his face. Her suggestion, while helpful, also raised worries for him. “But I don’t know if I should be alone with you when I feel that way…last night…holding you made it go away, but I wanted to…and I shouldn’t think of you like that.” Vanderwood bit his tongue and moved to wrap an arm around her, needing the closeness. “You deserve better. I’ll work on better.”

Cerise could see why he was concerned, but she also did really trust him to do the right thing. Ever since the first time he’d kissed her, he had been very good about controlling himself around her. “If…you feel like you need to get away and be by yourself, that’s okay, too. Even if you don’t feel like you can be alone with me…” She held up her phone, letting him get a good view of it to get her point across, “…I have this. You can call me or even text me; even if I’m in the other room. I want to help you. You don’t have to do it alone.”

If he thought that he needed to better himself, she wasn’t going to stop him. She knew what she was getting into when she’d agreed to be in a relationship with him; she was prepared for bumps in the road. Cerise knew it would be hard for both of them, mentally and physically. Now she leaned into him, enjoying the warmth of his arm around her. “Don’t try to rush things…Go at your own pace. I’ll be here no matter what. I love you, Marion. Nothing’s gonna change that.” As much as Cerise enjoyed annoying him and poking at him, she did have a lot of respect for how hard he was trying, what he wanted to be for her. Again, she couldn’t stay mad at him for long. Even if he was a jerkface.

He squeezed her a little tighter as she talked, his other hand coming around to take her chin once she was done, pressing a soft kiss to her lips that he let last. Cerise seemed to know him better than he knew himself sometimes. When he broke the kiss, he lightly nuzzled her nose. “You’re the best thing that ever happened to me…” He let the moment stand on its own, leaning his forehead against hers for long enough to just soak it in. This was what he loved most about his new life, taking the time to just exist.

She enjoyed the moments after they had a disagreement where they would make up. For whatever reason, it just felt sweeter. He was so soft and gentle with her, and a part of her was happy that only she really got to see this part of him. Nobody would ever know him like she did; nobody could even come close. Cerise took pride in that fact, as weird as it was. She muttered something in French, not realizing she had changed languages as she nuzzled him back after their kiss. Vanderwood just smiled, loving the sound of her native language.

After a while, he remembered Crystal’s offer, and felt like maybe he should tell her about it at least as some sort of…show of being able to handle the situation at hand. “Crystal said she wanted to watch more telenovelas with you. I’m okay if you want to make that a girl thing. I feel a little…awkward, as much as I love watching them with you.” She would probably understand what he meant. At least he hoped so. It just felt like he wasn’t going to be able to relax with Crystal translating the parts he couldn’t…well wouldn’t.

Cerise blinked and stared at him as he mentioned Crystal and her offer to her. Okay, so, she guessed that was fair. Guys, Marion or otherwise, didn’t tend to like being around ‘girl talk’ or during a female hangout session. Plus, she just didn’t want to stress him out further by having both herself and Crystal around when they both seemed to have big personalities. “It’s okay, I understand ~ Don’t worry. We’ll have to watch another secret agent movie later to make up for it though, okay? I need some chill time with my future hubby.” Cerise giggled and kissed his nose, getting up from her place on the floor and dusting off her clothes. Jokingly, she held out her hand as though to help him get up, finding it more amusing than probably a normal person would.

Vanderwood’s heart positively melted at her suggestion of watching one of his movies alone together later and the way she said ‘Future hubby’ would always get to him. She was so good at that. When she offered him her hand to help him up, he laughed and kissed it gently, holding it as he stood on his own. He had a feeling he would break her if she really tried to yank him up, thankful that she wasn’t the type to try something there was no way she could manage. Vanderwood couldn’t help but to bend and give her another kiss, slow and long. These kisses were what he liked to remember when he wasn’t with her, the moments he cherished more than anything else.

She’d giggled as he humored her and took her hand when he got up. It actually made her feel rather giddy, especially so after he bent down to kiss her. She loved when they could take their time with it, really feel that moment and take it in. Sometimes, she would randomly recall those moments in her head and end up a little blushy for seemingly no reason. It just had that effect on her. He broke the kiss before he opened the door for her, walking out into the living room to see Crystal patiently waiting, looking their way with a smile. “Thought it was about time you were done. So, are we watching more?” God damn it, was she actually a psychic? Cerise shot Crystal a smile and replied with a, “Yep! I think Marion will be heading out to do man things, though.”

With a soft snort, Vanderwood went to get his jacket and gloves on, which were hung by the door. “I’ll be…out getting more groceries for a little while, since we have another mouth and a half to feed. I’ll be back soon.” Cerise had followed him, and he gave her hand a kiss before she grabbed onto him for a hug that just melted his heart all the more. It took him a moment before he actually broke away from her, making it a point not to look at Crystal, who was smiling into her hand. Almost as soon as he got into the car, he was sending Cerise a message. `Text me. Otherwise I’ll miss you.`

Crystal watched him go before looking over at Cerise. “So, I guess the big guy is capable of apologizing after all?” It wasn’t really her business, but she felt on some level she was actually making a normal friend. Far better than Marie, anyway. Cerise had been smiling before from their interaction, but her smile widened when her phone went off, knowing it was him before she could even check it. She took a quick selfie to send as a response before she was looking over towards Crystal who had started talking. “Huh? Oh, yeah.”

She made her way back to the couch and plopped down beside the elegant looking woman. “Actually, he’s really good about it.” Crystal had noted the way that Cerise replied to her phone nearly immediately with a selfie, guessing the recipient easily and smiling. They were really a cute couple. That would probably drive Vanderwood insane to know, but that’s what they were. “That’s good. I always thought he was a good man. Not the brightest when it came to talking to people, but a good person, whether he wants to admit it or not.”

Cerise nodded to what Crystal was saying as she looked around and then grabbed for a nearby pillow to hold before turning towards Crystal again. “Are you comfortable enough? Do you need anything before we start watching again?” She wasn’t really sure how to act towards someone who was pregnant, especially when they were a guest in her home. Crystal shifted a little in her place on the couch before she cupped her hand over her stomach and shook her head. “No, I’m just fine. Although you might have to fill me in on what I missed when I go to the bathroom every five minutes.”

She joked about it, but being pregnant really was rather a rough gig, particularly doing it alone. There was a way to not do it alone, she knew that, but it just…wasn’t a viable option. Crystal sighed and flicked her ponytail back over her shoulder before she managed to throw up the facade of perfection again. It seemed more difficult to pretend that everything was great and she was perfectly calm when around someone else for extended periods of time. She was a social person, but even she wasn’t used to being around people for much longer than a couple of hours.

Honey-gold eyes widened a little. “Every five minutes?” that seemed rough, and she knew it was an exaggeration, but still. Being pregnant seemed like a hassle, always having a bump in the way and going to the bathroom so often. Plus, she had seen something on TV about this woman demanding pickles smothered in peanut butter, and that alone just sounded like a bad time. Cerise mentally shuddered and went to turn the TV up so they could continue watching, making sure to keep in touch with her fiancé every so often via text.

Cerise didn’t exactly know Crystal’s situation, and it wasn’t her place to ask, even though the sigh and the way the woman seemed so flippant made her feel like there was something more to it. Crystal seemed to have a good head on her shoulders and had an air of maturity around her that Cerise didn’t think she’d ever be able to achieve. Still though, she couldn’t help but think it was probably hard on her in some way. Something happened on the show that made her frown. One of the twins from earlier was hitting on who she had found out was the maid’s grandmother. “…Wow. What a douche…and she’s so old!” She stuck out her tongue in disgust as she watched the main character present the old woman with a rose and take her hands while kneeling. “Wow, okay then. “

Crystal was honestly really enjoying how Cerise reacted to things. It was almost too good to bother translating and resolving the misunderstanding, but she did anyway. “Actually, he’s asking her if he can marry the maid. Since her father is deceased, he has to ask the mother. Common courtesy, I guess.” She gave Cerise a smile before she was shifting again. That made so much more sense than what Cerise thought was going on. Now she didn’t have to be so disturbed at what was going on. because otherwise that would have been so gross.  Cerise shook her head to get that imagery out of her mind. She let her eyes shift over to Crystal who was beginning to look uncomfortable.

It was a little annoying, the way her hips were aching, and she had a stitch in her side that wouldn’t go away. God, it hurt, and oh, God, no, hormones. This was not the time, but now she was crying. Everything had a tendency to hit her all at once when pregnant, and fate had decided that now was the time. Crystal was suddenly crying way harder than she needed to be in front of this person she’d just met. Thank God Vanderwood wasn’t home, because that would have been way worse. “I’m sorry. I…hormones…and life, and I’m sorry.” Not classy at all.

Cerise had been about to ask if there was anything Crystal needed again before she…started to cry. Her eyes widened, and she had no idea what to do. Was there something wrong? Did she need to call a doctor? Oh God, she couldn’t even function in the kitchen correctly, so how was she going to deal with a sick pregnant woman? Her panicking was cut short when Crystal said it was just hormones and apologized. Oh, so that’s what it was. It didn’t surprise her that pregnancy would put your hormones on the fritz. She didn’t know Crystal well, but she liked her well enough.

“Hey, it’s okay.” Cerise scooted just a little closer and gently patted her back. “I would think that you had every right to cry, hormones or not. It seems tough, so I don’t blame you one bit…Just let it out if you need to. I’m not about to judge you…” There was a look of concern on her face. Crystal probably didn’t have many people to talk to, and considering everything, she probably had to mask her emotions pretty well. “You know…I cry over really dumb things. At least you have a reason to. Like, ummm….” She laughed nervously before she spoke. It was embarrassing but maybe it would help Crystal take her mind of things at least a little? “I might have cried because I ran out of bubble bath…because I like to pour it down the drain in the bath. You know…so the sharks won’t get me.” Oh God, she knew how ridiculous this sounded, but she kept on anyways. “I got in the tub before I realized it, and I just lost it. I made Marion run to the store to get more before I could calm down.”

Just a second ago she had been crying, sobbing really, but now Crystal was laughing. “Sharks?” Could she really think that was a thing? Cerise seemed to realize how ridiculous it was. Crystal wiped at her eyes, thankful that she hadn’t bothered to put makeup on that morning, since that would have been everywhere by now. “You’re fascinating, you know that?” She finally calmed down enough from her laughter to talk like a normal human being. Cerise laughed and nervously pulled her hair over her shoulder. At least Crystal was laughing again, she had a beautiful laugh, too, looked beautiful laughing. How was that fair? Oh well, Cerise knew that she was pretty darn cute herself, even if she was lacking in a few certain areas. Still though…some people got all the luck.

The stitch in Crystal’s side had seemingly disappeared, so that was fantastic. Crystal made eye contact with Cerise, golden eyes to grey, and now she was spilling her feelings, God knows why, but that was what was happening. “I’m just scared of doing this alone…” She coughed and sat back up, clicking her nails together lightly to distract herself. “I’m sorry. I think we were watching a show.” That’s right, deflect. This was the way she was used to dealing with her problems lately. There was no reason for her to be afraid of being alone now.

Cerise blinked as Crystal began to talk again, letting out her true feelings. Crystal probably really needed to talk it out, and honestly, Cerise didn’t mind listening. “That kinda thing can wait, you know?” She turned down the television, so she could better hear Crystal’s soft and airy voice, turning towards her. This really wasn’t any of her business, but she knew that at least for her, talking about things tended to make her feel somewhat better. “I think that’s a normal thing to be afraid of. I know we don’t know each other so well, but if you need to get it off your chest, you can. It’ll be just between us.” Cerise put her phone to the side to show Crystal that she had her full attention. “No boys allowed~”

Crystal eyed Cerise a little warily. The younger woman was willing to listen, but Crystal wasn’t sure if she wanted to let her in. She’d never let anyone in, no one but the man she’d fallen in love with, and this woman was a virtual stranger. Then again, she seemed to have some sort of connection with her. Besides that, she’d been sticking her own nose into Cerise and Vanderwood’s business the entire time she’d been staying with them, so it was only fair if she at least told her a little.

She chuckled a little about Cerise’s comment of no boys allowed, patting her stomach as she deflected with humor once more. “I have no idea what this one is, yet. I try not to think too hard on it.” Cerise laughed lightly at Crystal’s joke. It was probably hard for her to talk about, and she wouldn’t blame her if she didn’t want to. Cerise would have been a little wary herself to talk about her personal problems with a complete stranger. Crystal bit at her thumb nail lightly before she took a breath and decided to let it out.

“So…I know exactly who the father is, and he’s not just some random john…I met him through my job, though. First, I stripped, and then I became an escort. I’ve paid off all my loans and even built myself a house, have tons in savings, and at this point that’s just all I’ve been working for…” So, she was telling Cerise more than she’d meant to, but now it was too late to stop. “Anyway…I met him at a gala party, and we started talking. Not only was he attractive, but he cared about me. He wasn’t trying to just sleep with me.”

There was a small pause as she took another deep breath before continuing on. “I love him…At first I tried to pretend he didn’t mean a thing to me, that it was just a little fling, but I was hopelessly smitten from the moment I met him, even if I didn’t realize it at first. When we met up…I was fully intending to sleep with him, that was a given, but I wasn’t expecting to get pregnant. When we parted ways, I started to ignore him again, because I had to. It hurt more, since…I’d figured out how I felt about him, that he feels the same way, but we can’t be together because of his job. Obviously, I’ve quit working as an escort, and I have plenty of connections, but…He’s…” Could she really trust Cerise with this information? For someone like Vanderwood to be with her, Cerise had to be good at keeping secrets. “Zen, a musical actor…Even if I didn’t have the history I do, a baby would kill any chance he has of making it unless I gave him every connection I have.”

Honestly, Cerise had been a little surprised when Crystal began to talk, and she made sure that she was giving her her full attention. She soaked up the information that Crystal was giving her. Wow, she had a hard life. Wasn’t it good, though, that she knew the father? Even loved him? She continued to listen, letting Crystal take her time, nodding where it was necessary to show that she was still listening and paying attention. Cerise could tell that Crystal really cared about this guy, and she really felt for her. It sounded, in a way, similar to the way her own parents had ended up together. She’d caused her father’s retirement from K-pop music, because he loved her mother. They had all been happy…for the most part.

Cerise took a moment to collect her thoughts before she tried to offer any sort of comment. The name ‘Zen’ sounded a little familiar, but that wasn’t really the point at the moment. “Does he know at least?” When Crystal shook her head, Cerise sucked in her cheek, thinking before she spoke again. “I’m not really an expert on these things, but…he should at least know about his baby, even if it might cause the end of his career. Doesn’t he have a right to know that he’s a father? Especially if he feels the same way about you as you feel about him.” Would it do any good to talk about her own experiences? She did on some level have experience with this situation, obviously not exactly, but close.

“My dad was a K-pop star before he married my mom. They only got married because of me. Surprise!” Cerise giggled for a moment before she continued. “Anyway…my dad chose my mom and me, because he loved us both, and we’ve been happy. My dad found his ways to still work in the music industry, and it’s not like it’s impossible or anything. Things will be hard, that’s for sure, but you know, I’m sure you can face things a lot better together than you can alone.”

Crystal had gone back to biting at her thumbnail as Cerise talked, not because she wasn’t listening, just because it was a nervous habit. Cerise wasn’t stupid by any means, and her family history had its similarities. What Cerise was saying, it wasn’t unlike things she’d told herself several times. Just…telling yourself and trying to build up the strength to actually face the results were two different things. “I’ve told myself plenty of times that at the very least he deserves to know, and my baby deserves the chance to meet their father, that there’s some way to keep his career going…but actually telling him is a completely different beast.”

“Yeah…I could see that. Honestly, if I were in your shoes…I’m not sure what I would do. I think that all you can really do is let it play out. At least trying it and knowing is better than not knowing, you know?” Having that looming overhead seemed like it would be killer. Cerise was the type of person where she would rather get it over with and know rather than trying to worry about it and go through the what ifs over and over in her head.

Cerise watched as Crystal played around with her phone, seemingly aimlessly as she continued to chomp on her poor thumbnail. That made Cerise wince a little. Crystal’s nails were so well-kept, too, and a manicure needed to be respected. “Maybe…you should text him?” That got Crystal to stop playing with her phone, actually turning it over to check the screen. Really, that wasn’t the worst place to start, and Crystal had honestly been playing around with that thought much like she’d been doing with her phone.

“Alright…” Crystal took a deep breath before she typed something up, asking Zen if he wanted to meet and talk, preferably at his place if they could manage it. He almost immediately replied, although he seemed way more excited than her heart could take. He’d understand soon enough. “Okay…so…that’s going to be taken care of.” She felt relieved and nervous at the same time, but she had a day or so to think through what she was going to say to him, what she could do with the situation.

Crystal rubbed her stomach lightly as she felt that little stitch in her side again. “God, I have a little wiggler in there.” Cerise just giggled at the comment about the little one. Crystal would probably have a really cute baby. Even if its father were super ugly, Crystal’s good genes would more than make up for it. “I dunno…but I have a feeling things will somehow work out.” Talking to Crystal felt a lot different than talking to her friend back home. It was like Crystal actually cared about what she had to say. That was actually a really nice feeling.

The lavender-haired woman laughed somewhat nervously. If anything, at least she would have the baby, and now she felt like she had a friend. “You’re a much better friend than Marie…” Crystal had meant to muse that to herself in her head, but it had slipped out. At least it was true. Cerise probably didn’t even know who Marie was. When Crystal mentioned the name “Marie”, Cerise was pretty sure who she was talking about and scrunched her face up. Cerise wasn’t really a fan of Marie, considering what went down the last time they had encountered her. “I…don’t think that would be hard.” She couldn’t imagine being that woman’s friend, if Crystal had to put up with her…she felt even worse for the poor woman. Jeeze.

She was surprised by Cerise’s reaction. “Wait, do you know her?” Come to think of it, it was right about the time that Vanderwood stopped calling that Marie had come to her complaining about her broken wrist. She had blown the girl off, thinking she probably deserved it. If it had anything to do with Cerise, she definitely thought Marie had deserved it. “You’re right, it’s easy to be better than Marie. She’s a complete dunderhead.” Crystal flicked her ponytail as she continued. “The girl kept trying to touch me all the time once she found out that I was pregnant. Not that I would have minded if she’d asked, but she was just all over me touching me. I am so glad I won’t have to deal with her anymore. She nearly told my boss before I could.” How Marie had any clients, Crystal had no clue. Maybe some guys just loved that complete bubbly idiot vibe.

“That really doesn’t surprise me.” Cerise shook her head, recalling the incident from before. “She doesn’t seem to know how to keep her hands to herself. ” Aaaaand that’s how you get a broken wrist. She thought to herself. Marie kinda deserved it. “Ya know…I don’t blame you. I never knew people like her could exist, really.” That woman seemed like a complete idiot who didn’t know when to quit. How did she even get into the escort business? Did guys really like girls like her? Honestly, she didn’t understand. She knew that at some point Vanderwood had seen her, but for the sake of her sanity, she wasn’t about to ask him about it. “Silver lining though, right?”

Crystal shrugged with a chuckle. “Fair point…There’s a lot of silver linings.” Not that her job had been so terrible really; it was a dangerous occupation that had become boring, but she’d made a lot of money, and that was the whole reason she’d done it in the first place. Sex had never really mattered to her, had always been a regular biological need, so that hadn’t been an issue for her. Still, all in all. “I’m glad it’s over…Would be nice to be a normal person for a while.” Crystal gave Cerise another smile. “Well, as normal as I can be.”

Cerise shrugged with a smile. “I wouldn’t say that you weren’t ‘normal’ before. There was nothing wrong with you.” Everyone had their different circumstances; Crystal just happened to have some that were more uncommon than others. It didn’t make her weird or anything. At least, she didn’t get that vibe from her at all. Crystal actually had a fairly pleasant aura. In fact, it was a little reminiscent to that of her Uncle Emil’s.

The lavender-haired woman was surprised at how quickly she’d let Cerise grow on her. Cerise seemed to have that effect, and it was probably part of the reason that she worked so well with Vanderwood. Crystal couldn’t imagine getting that guy to open up, but Cerise had done it somehow. She moved her hand up higher on her stomach. “Would you like to maybe touch?” That wasn’t something she offered lightly, because it was still her body, and she was very clear on who got to touch her and who didn’t.

Cerise’s eyes lit up and she nodded. She’d never been around a pregnant person, much less gotten to touch their tummy. “If you’re okay with it, I’d love to!” Very gently she reached out to touch Crystal’s mildly protruding belly. She wondered if she could feel anything from the baby; Crystal had said the baby was active. She was entirely fascinated by it, and it felt so weird. Her stomach wasn’t hard, but it wasn’t soft either. Cerise looked up towards Crystal with a curious look on her face. “Erm…this might seem like a weird question but…does it hurt? Doesn’t your skin start stretching and stuff?” Hopefully, Crystal wouldn’t mind her asking possibly dumb questions. She’d probably never experience these things for herself, well…maybe at least not for a long, long time. Cerise might as well ask someone currently experiencing it.

Her questions weren’t all that weird, and honestly, Crystal might have asked them herself if situations were reversed, but she shook her head. “It mostly itches, but if you use moisturizer religiously you can avoid stretch marks and the itchiness. The only thing that really hurts is your hips adjusting. Then as you get bigger, your ligaments stretch. I’ve heard that can be painful, but I’m only around ten weeks pregnant, so I haven’t experienced it yet.” Cerise moved her hand around a little more. There was really a baby in there, huh? That was so weird, but life was weird. Crystal, as much as she was nervous and maybe even afraid, Cerise was pretty sure she, her baby, and the dad would come out of things okay. Maybe that was just wishful thinking, but that’s what she was hoping for. Either way, she felt she’d made a good friend, and she was totally up for giving babysitting a try.

 

Don’t forget you can get you some Crystal Backstory.

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Mystic Messenger Fanfiction | Tagged – VanderwoodxOC Cerise | Solutions

It felt like he was going to say something completely rude, so he just opened and closed his mouth a few times before he could finally jumble something together properly. Her tone with him had his eyebrow twitching.

***It’s barely Thursday…I had a day off with my hubby yesterday, but here’s the update~ Guess there’s going to be a dryspell ending. ;3c ~Let’s Connect! FFC***

*Remember, this is a sequel to Vanderwood Backstory, and Cerise has a bio. You can support my writing on patreon and get access to my VIP Discord Server or other goodies like early chapter releases and hidden scenes.  Tagged Chapter Directory*

Vanderwood startled awake, putting a hand up as though to stop the carrot that had been launched at him in his dreams. He blinked a few times. Oh, good; he was in her bedroom and not the kitchen. A sigh of relief escaped him as he looked down to see Cerise still snuggled into him. She was so beautiful when she slept; well, she always was. Vanderwood watched her for a little bit before he carefully untangled himself from her and found his phone. If he could let her sleep in a little longer, that would be best. Stretching, he noticed just the tiniest twinge of soreness, but that seemed to be his usual morning soreness and not related to his now-healed injuries.

He was definitely back in commission. His eyes flitted to her, noting the way the blankets had wrapped tight around her, and then he had to look away. Really? It had to react that way now? He had just woken up, and she wasn’t even awake yet. Granted, it had been almost a week since he’d had sex last, and he was incredibly attracted to her, but still. Bloody Hell, he was some sort of mess. He decided to check his texts. Nothing new.

A smile crossed his face as he decided to read through his texts with her, and that was a bad idea, because he’d forgotten about her shower picture. Oh, holy fuck, that wasn’t going away. His eyes flitted to her sleeping form again. Maybe she wouldn’t mind being woken up? Vanderwood rolled over and wrapped an arm around her, pulling her closer and kissing her nose gently. “Shortcake?” If she didn’t wake up, he’d just have to figure it out himself.

Cerise stirred from her sleep at the sound of his voice. She’d been having a rather pleasant dream involving something to do with cotton candy and other fluffy things. Keeping her eyes open was proving to be trouble, but she eventually managed it. Why did she feel like he had woken her up at the buttcrack of dawn? “…What time is it?” She asked sleepily, bringing her hand up to rub her eyes.

Obviously, she was still a little tired, but he hoped he could get her to wake up a little more. He hadn’t really paid much attention to the time. “Maybe seven? I think.” Cerise groaned, but Vanderwood nuzzled her before he snuggled in closer under the blanket, his hand at her upper back taking a slow trip lower, down to the edge of her top. His fingertips ducked just under the fabric to tease lightly over her skin.

She wasn’t even paying attention to what he was doing. Being up this early wasn’t something she enjoyed in the least. What was with him? He kissed her gently, feeling like maybe he was being a little forward for what was probably early in the morning to her. “I’m uh…I miss you…” Maybe she could understand that? She could probably feel his erection against her by now, so it should be clear enough.

Cerise furrowed her eyebrows. He missed her? What even…“…Mon amour, I’m right here.” She only realized what he meant a moment later after feeling him against her. Cerise started to turn red but sighed and kissed his forehead. “You’re still injured. It’ll probably be another week or two.” It’s not that she didn’t want to; she just didn’t want him to make things worse for himself.

Vanderwood groaned softly. He didn’t think he’d feasibly survive another week, certainly not two, without being in a completely different room from her, and that wasn’t happening. “I’m perfectly fine. No soreness from my injuries.” Vanderwood slid his hand down over her hip to shape her thigh. For such a short woman, she really had nice legs. “I need you.” His voice had a bit of a pleading tone, but that was definitely how he felt; he needed her. Not just sex, but her. If it were just sex he needed, he’d be more willing to take care of it himself.

“Are you sure…?” She was trying her hardest not to respond to his touches and somewhat failing. “Because…maybe your erm…’need’ is clouding your…judgement?” It was getting a bit harder to formulate words. Cerise had to talk more slowly to keep herself composed. It made sense to her; it had been a while for him. That and being turned on was probably making him forget about the pain he was in. Vanderwood was now nuzzled into her neck, pressing soft kisses there. “Please, mon amour.” Never had he begged for sex, but Cerise tended to bring out those new experiences for him.

He could feel her resolve weakening as he kept up with his gentle kisses there. “I am fine, Cerise.” She did have a good point, but he’d stretched before, and that had felt just fine. It was touching that she cared so much, but right now, he really wished she wasn’t so stubborn. “I think you should admit you ‘need’ me too.” Wow, he was actually managing to talk like an adult again with her, although he still felt that little bit of redness in his cheeks. Vanderwood leaned back to lock eyes with her. “Really, I’m fine…I just need you, badly.” Impatience was a problem, but if she didn’t agree, what was he going to do? He’d probably have to take a shower. But he’d much rather have her.

Cerise blushed harder at his words. It’s not like he was wrong…”I…” She really didn’t have an argument for him. Cerise fidgeted slightly under his gaze, able to tell that he was serious. Breaking their eye contact, she turned her head, unable to look him in the eyes. “I guess…I mean…” Words. Use your words. Why could they never spill out when she wanted them to? “…prove to me you’re okay?”

A smile spread on his face. “Gladly.” Vanderwood flipped her onto her back, taking care to be gentle with her, but she’d asked him to prove it, and he was accepting that challenge tenfold. He was actually managing to be a little more like himself and less flustered, probably just because he needed her so badly. Well, he certainly wasn’t wasting any time. Cerise had let out a soft squeak when he flipped her onto her back and now stared up at him. She was terribly red, but she noticed that he was quite a bit, too, and that made her feel better.

His tongue tied just as he tried to be smooth again. “I can…I can do that.” And there was the fluster. Vanderwood shrugged it off, catching her lips with his as the hand that had been shaping her thigh before now gripped it and moved her leg over his hip, so he could grind against her for some relief. As much as it felt like he wanted to bury himself deep right now, a part of him wanted to take his time, enjoy her, please her, make the time they had together something special rather than what he had been used to before. Vanderwood’s other hand buried itself in her hair, breaking their kiss and tugging lightly to trail more kisses down her neck.

Just the kiss alone made her heart beat faster, but then he had moved her leg and grinded against her, and she felt like her heart was trying to escape the confines of her chest again. Her body was certainly reacting, and she couldn’t help but to move against him as he did so, providing more friction. He seemed to be fine so far…maybe he really was okay now.

She felt him tug at her hair a little as he broke their kiss. Like it had many times before, it felt too soon for her liking, but she decided she didn’t mind this time, especially with his lips on her neck instead. She already felt a little breathless thanks to him. Cerise let her own hands trail along his chest and torso as she used her nails to gently glide across his skin. She made sure to watch for any signs of discomfort, as hard as that was to do in this situation.

He groaned against her neck at the feeling of her nails across his skin and the way she was moving back against him. Vanderwood had really missed this, her touching him, the closeness. It was as close as anyone could get, and she was all his. He slid the hand that had been holding her leg in place up her pajama shorts instead. This part of her he hadn’t been so fortunate to really explore yet, but now he gave her ass a light squeeze, knowing it would make her move up against him even more.

Cerise hadn’t been expecting his hand, the slight squeeze making her jump, her hips moving up to meet his even more and eliciting a deep moan from him. Based on that sound alone, she figured that that’s what he had been after. After the initial surprise, she made a point to push up against him even more, knowing that he’d like it. Hell, she liked it, too and was more than happy to oblige.

His teeth grazed over her shoulder, telling her without words what he wanted, waiting for her okay. They easily communicated like this, no words needed, which was good, because sometimes neither of them could manage to talk properly anyway. He was too completely occupied with thoughts of her for words to make much sense. Cerise slid the strap to her pajama top down her arm and moved her hair over to her other shoulder in answer, giving him better access. Her hands found their way into his hair, and she let them entangle into it as she braced herself for what she knew he was about to do. Last time, she had surprisingly enjoyed it, despite her general aversion to anything that might seem painful.

Having her hands in his hair had him pausing just a moment to enjoy that feeling, another that only she had ever given him. He pressed a soft kiss to her shoulder before he bit down, being slow to apply more pressure and sucking at the spot. This one was going to last, but he didn’t want to outright hurt her. She winced a little and let out a soft sound, but it didn’t hurt all that much. Marion always tended to be very careful with her, not doing anything that he knew would hurt her, and if he had thought it might, he would tell her.

The mark was dark when he pulled away, and he nuzzled it lightly before moving to mumble in her ear. “Please don’t ever leave me…ma moitié.” His words made her smile, and she nuzzled into him in turn. “Never, I wouldn’t dream of it~” She figured it went without saying that he promised her the same. What would she do if one day he just up and decided that he had made a mistake–that she was a mistake? There was no way he would do that. Cerise knew that he was as in love with her as she was with him. They needed one another and they both knew it, as weird as their relationship was.

His impatience was starting to get the better of him, and he pulled back to help her out of her top, the familiar hitch of his breath when he saw her beneath him making him smile. She couldn’t help but to turn red. It was the third time he’d seen her completely topless, but it didn’t make it any less embarrassing for her. It took everything in her not to cover her chest on instinct, but he was moving on already. The way Marion had looked at her didn’t help much either paired with the way he loomed over her. Even that image alone had the ability to make her blood run hot.

Vanderwood slid his hands down her sides with a light touch, feeling her shiver beneath him. He made quick work of her shorts before he kissed her again deep and passionate, his tongue pushing its way into her mouth and roughly teasing against hers. He wanted her so badly now that it was nearly painful, but he didn’t care. Vanderwood needed this kiss like he needed air.

Cerise was thankful for the kiss, because for one, she really wanted it, and two, if he was kissing her, he wouldn’t be able to see the raging blush on her face. This was the third time they’d done this – should she still be blushing like this? Should she still be this embarrassed? She was brought back from her thoughts when she felt him push his tongue into her mouth, roughly teasing against hers.

This was probably the first time he’d been so rough when kissing her…not that she minded it in the least. Cerise could feel his need through it, and she teased his tongue back just as roughly, then pushing past to rake hers against his teeth. She let her hands trail along his body and found the edge of his pajama pants. It wasn’t fair that he still got to keep his pants on while she didn’t.

It was too bad she wasn’t able to slide them down much due to their statures being so vastly different, her reach could only get her so far. She decided to improvise and ended up maneuvering to use her feet to get them the rest of the way off. Cerise couldn’t help but smirk against their kiss. She was a fricken genius. He was going to have to finish the job though, but she figured he would just kick them the rest of the way off.

Bloody Hell, that was a new feeling for him as she was working on getting his pants down. Never before had he let a woman remove any of his clothing for him. Certainly, he hadn’t let them take off his pants. Thanks to their size she ended up using her feet, and he was just kissing her more deeply now, completely and utterly hungry for her, her little smirk not helping his impatience much. Vanderwood broke the kiss to get his pants off the rest of the way. His eyes trailing over her body, all his, his sweet Cerise.

She’d known that she really needed a nice, long kiss between them, but she didn’t know that she’d needed one like this until now, rough and passionate, filled with raw emotion. His eyes were taking her in again after he broke their kiss. It was during those times she felt the most vulnerable. Cerise was trying to catch her breath after that searing kiss, but her breath hitched when he pressed against her entrance.

It was taking everything in him not to just take her now as he was pressed against her. She was right there for the taking, but he had a point to make. “You think I’ve proved I’m fine?” He was absolutely certain she needed him as much as he needed her, but he just couldn’t resist making his point, as much as he had a feeling that would bite him in the ass later.

Cerise could feel her need for him growing stronger and stronger by the second. It was getting to be almost uncomfortable with how much she wanted him, and then he decided to open his mouth. Was he seriously taunting her right now? She gave him the most unamused look she could manage in her current state. “…I dunno. ” He really thought he was going to play with fire and not get burned? Of course, she needed him, wanted him badly, but she was also positive that she could wait a lot longer than he could.

A smile spread across her face as she pulled him down to give him a deep kiss, arching herself so she grinded up against him roughly. Well, fuck. Vanderwood had watched her face as a smile grew across it and before she implemented her plans, eliciting moans into her mouth. That was not what he had expected, but he was more than willing to take it.

She let it go on for about a minute or so before she broke away, scooted back, and grabbed one of her fluffier, bigger pillows which she then covered herself with. Cerise was grinning, knowing that he was going to be incredibly frustrated with her. She felt that he was getting too impatient anyways. He needed to be knocked down a few notches. That’d teach him to tease her. “I think I’m gonna need a little more proof.” Now she eyed him snuggling into her pillow. He was the one who’d started it, he only had himself to blame.

Now she had again done something that was completely new to him. Vanderwood was left there with an aching need and a stunned look on his face, which quickly turned to frustration. God damn it, he was in pain, but not the kind of pain he was proving against. Frustration had his eyebrow twitching. He’d known he was playing with fire, known it would bite him in the ass, but he’d been banking on her needing him too much to fight him. Big mistake. Vanderwood was frustrated, not with her, but with himself for being a dumb ass.

He eyed her just like she was eyeing him before moving towards her again, taking one of her hands that she’d wrapped around the pillow and positioning himself to sit next to her legs, his hip to her thigh. “More proof, huh?” Vanderwood kissed each individual finger before nipping at the pad of her thumb and kissing down her forearm, following up along her arm to her shoulder and neck as his other hand slid up what of her leg he could touch before the pillow got in the way.

His lips found her ear, mumbling softly before he dragged his teeth along her earlobe. “What if I take care of you first then, mon amour?” Would he be able to manage that without getting carried away? Yes…as much as he was throbbing for her, he knew he wasn’t going to take anything she wasn’t willing to give him. That kiss on the stairs had been it. Vanderwood would never go further than that. He wasn’t about to give up now, though, and this was the only thing he could think of.

She had to commend him on his persistence. Cerise probably would have mentally kicked herself if he had given up, as unlikely as she thought it was. The way he was treating her so lovingly, even though she had purposefully irritated him, made her feel slightly guilty for it. The kisses made her gasp involuntarily and flush red…and then his voice and his lips and teeth on her earlobe. Cerise was certainly reacting to it, and it only made her ache for him more.

The way she was reacting had him smirking a little; he just couldn’t help it. Vanderwood was going to win out in the end, knowing he was the more experienced one and the one to actually make a move. Her hard-won edge was being lost. She threw the pillow to the side and easily climbed into his lap, straddling him and pressing her body flush against his. Cerise caressed his face with the back of her hand and the smirk was back. “Oh~? And how would you do that?” Her eyes were challenging him. It was only fair, he had teased her after all. What an ego he must have to attempt something that dumb. Cerise didn’t even think about how she should be screaming at herself in embarrassment, because revenge was so sweet. This experience would definitely teach him that she was the champion of teasing.

Holy shit, she was in his lap now. Granted, she’d been in his lap before, but not naked. Vanderwood’s face was so damn red, and he couldn’t talk at first to reply to her question, looking at her like a deer caught in the headlights. “I…how…do you want me to do it?” Any control he’d had, all of the confidence of his experience, it had flown right out the window thanks to her teasing. How was he supposed to function, exactly?  He mentally slapped himself, getting somewhat out of his stupor, at least enough to run his hand down her back to cup her ass, the other stroking through her hair. “I’ll do whatever you want, ma moitié…” Vanderwood was suddenly not in control for the first time in his life, and he felt like he should be panicking, but he was surprisingly comfortable…probably because it was his Cerise. Not that any woman before really could have hurt him, but he’d never have given control to any of them.

Victory tasted so sweet to Cerise. Marion seemed to be at a complete loss for words, and she could almost physically see any confidence he had melt away. It was beautiful, really. “Whatever I want?” She repeated the question before she kissed him, torturously slow, feeling his hand bunching in her hair. What did she want him to do? Well, she knew what her body wanted, but her experience was pretty limited to what he had previously shown her.

She broke the kiss and moved to his neck, placing soft kisses to it down to his collar bone. “What I want…” Cerise debated momentarily before nuzzling into him. “Show me…can you show me what you like? Without treating me like I’m a piece of China. I want…to learn…how to make you feel good, too.” She was supposed to be teasing him, but she couldn’t help but to feel flustered as she said those words. His breathing had hitched, and he didn’t think his heart would be able to restart, but somehow, he was surviving. Her request had him a little flabbergasted. “What I…like? I like you.” First response, as true as it was, also was not helpful. There were things he remembered enjoying from a purely carnal point of view with other women but thinking about her doing them…

Cerise shook her head at his response. That wasn’t what she meant at all. At the end of the day, she was terribly inexperienced and wasn’t sure yet exactly what all she liked or disliked. They would find out what she enjoyed doing with him together, but he had so much that he could teach her. She found her way back to his neck and trailed kisses to his shoulder where she bit down hard, giving him the same treatment that he had given her earlier. Cerise left a rather dark mark in her wake as she moved up to his ear, whispering, “Teach me, mon amour~” before nibbling softly on the lobe.

Vanderwood’s mind blanked completely when she bit him, arms tightening around her as he let out a groan. He needed her so badly, and every little thing she did only made it worse. Bloody Hell, he wasn’t going to survive today. What mess had he gotten himself into? It was a good death at least. Her whisper had him shivering in anticipation, and if she wasn’t trying to kill him, he’d be surprised. “Okay…Okay…” Vanderwood pulled back to look into her eyes, thoughts going to even worse places than they had when he’d woken her up.

He removed his hand from her hair and brought it around to take her chin, his thumb tugging at her lower lip. “Remember the new thing I showed you last time?” Would that be too much for her? Thanks to the intensity of his current need, the other things he had in mind for her were all too much like being with one of his whores, and she was far more than that. Maybe he could manage those things another time, when he felt it would be less of him just taking what he wanted. “Would you…want to learn something like that, but for me?”

She nodded, no resistance despite that he was holding her chin. Oh, she definitely remembered. Cerise had found it to be so weird at first. If you really thought about it, sex in itself was bizarre. He was asking her if she wanted to learn something similar. “Of course~” She took his hand and kissed his thumb before moving to brush his bangs back with her hand and placing a kiss to his forehead.

“Marion,” She started, leaning back so she could properly look him in the eyes. “I want you to know…just because I want you to teach me…and handle me a little more roughly…” She pulled him closer, burying her head into his shoulder as she ghosted her hands along his back and moved her hips to grind into his again, creating a blissful friction between them both. “…Remember…that I’m the one in control.” He’d lost that right when he decided to challenge her, the jerk. It was exhilarating for her to have that kind of power over him…someone twice her size who could literally break her if he wanted to. Cerise gave him one more kiss, this time quicker and more on the rough side.

She had no idea what was coming over her, maybe just being in this sort of mood made her feel incredibly powerful and bold? Cerise felt like the longer she waited this out and played this game…the more she needed him. It just made her forget any insecurities, and it made it harder to think about anything but how much she was aching for him. This was a mess.

Her tenderness was in stark contrast to the way they were both clearly feeling, but it had had Vanderwood blushing nonetheless. And then the tenderness was gone. She was really taking control, and he wasn’t going to stop her. The feeling of her hands on his back, the way she ground her hips once more against his, he was putty in her hands, whether he wanted to admit it or not. Even her kiss was rougher and more demanding than usual, some sort of new confidence having slipped into her system.

There was just one thing worrying Vanderwood now. “Just stop me if I hurt you…” That was his only condition for this whole mess. He was a lot stronger than her and twice her size to boot, if she wanted to not be treated like a china doll, she was going to have to be prepared for potentially getting hurt. “If you don’t want me to be careful…you’re going to have to stop me when it’s not okay.” Honestly, he was a little nervous about it now. Hurting Cerise…just the idea had him tightening his arms around her.

Cerise raised an eyebrow at him. It wasn’t like she was going to let him manhandle her. “Trust me, mon amour. I’ll definitely let you know. I’m not saying use your full strength, ya know.” She had seen what he was capable of, and she was not about that life. All she wanted was for him to throw some of his caution into the wind, much like he had shown her with the rougher kiss just a little earlier. Cerise wanted that but with everything. With her low pain tolerance, she’d be insane if she were to request that he just completely let loose on her. He was just so worried about her that she couldn’t help but to be touched.

He locked his eyes with hers, this woman that he loved so damn much, that he wanted to protect, the other half to his soul; and he just relaxed, putting his faith in her that she would stop him if she needed to. Cerise felt herself blushing harder under the intensity of his gaze. There was just something about his eyes that made her feel like she was baring her soul to him.

Vanderwood moved carefully to lie back onto the bed, trying to breathe properly despite the view he had of her still in his lap. After a second, he realized that, right, he had to teach her. “So…move on downwards…Take your time if you need to.” His brain was simultaneously yelling at him that no, she shouldn’t take her time, because he needed her right now, but he ignored that thought as best he could.

She watched as he laid onto his back with her still straddling him. The view she had of him was nothing short of breathtaking. Cerise had to take a moment to compose herself, because God, she loved this man and God, was he absolutely sexy…and hers. She really was lucky. Her thoughts were once again broken by his voice. “Oh! Okay then.” Cerise had a pretty good idea of what was happening, but she wasn’t all too sure of things execution-wise. She moved downwards as he had instructed her to do, looking to him for confirmation when she had.

Bloody Hell, that was a sight. Vanderwood bit his tongue. Okay, so she was down there, now what? He had never had to instruct anyone on sex before, and he wasn’t even sure how well he could trust his tongue and head to function properly at the moment. Right now he really just wanted her to touch him. “Um…good…now just…the bottom side is more sensitive, and the tip is the most sensitive.” Good information, functioning brain, internally screaming mostly quiet, so far so good. “Now…if you just…well you should play around, but I can um…tell you a couple things I like…” Okay…so maybe not good, but he was at least able to talk? “You can…lick up from the bottom to the top and then…swirl your tongue around the tip…anything you want to do with your hands is fine…” Good start, right? Bloody Hell, his face was red. He was going to die today; he knew it. Vanderwood was already dying, but he had a feeling that as soon as she touched him it would be even worse…or better, really.

Him being nervous was going to make her feel super nervous. She listened to the information he was giving her with a flush. Cerise noted that his face was pretty red, too, which only added to the nerves. If anything, he looked a little…worried? If he didn’t calm down, she was going to lose her nerve. “Marion, just relax…okay?” Just a moment ago, he had been completely calm, but now he felt so tense. Cerise moved back up so she could give him a soft kiss, lingering there for about a minute before she broke it and moved onto his jawline, and then to kiss neck, placing kisses all along his body.

Obviously, she could feel the nerves off of him; it’s not like he was doing a very good job of hiding it, but then she was back up to him kissing him gently and making his heart melt even in a moment like this. Her travel downwards had him closing his eyes, focusing in on breathing, which got just a little more ragged the lower she went. It was something she ended up finding enjoyable, getting to explore his body that way.

Eventually, she found herself back where he had instructed her to be. She placed a kiss to his hip bone as she gently took his length in her other hand, trailing her thumb along the underside, his soft sound at the touch making her feel more excited than nervous. Cerise took note that he was very hard. It was no wonder that he had been impatient with her. Too bad he was going to have to wait longer now. His hands now tightened on the sheets below them.

She figured that maybe he should learn to take his time anyways. Cerise didn’t exactly know everything about those days in his life, but with as impatient as he had been with her…it must have been so much more prominent back then. A little patience could be good for him. Vanderwood was just watching her now, his breathing feeling labored. Cerise was taking her sweet time, and he didn’t even think she needed any direction if her just touching him had him this messed up.

Finally, she moved to kiss his tip, moving her hand out of the way enough to then gently trail her kisses down to the bottom before trying what he had suggested, licking back up again and slowly swirling her tongue around the tip when she got there. She could taste the bit of fluid that had built up there, but it wasn’t bad. Better than black coffee, at least. When she finished, she kissed the tip again and looked towards him, a heavy blush apparent on her face. “…Was that right?”

“Fuck…” He groaned out the word when she did as he’d instructed, and he was in some sort of heaven, even if he could feel that little bit of tentativeness. “Yeah…that was right.” His voice was so low and breathy that he wasn’t even sure if she’d heard him. She felt a little more confident to see his reaction and to hear she had done it correctly, even if she had to strain to hear him. The look he had about him was most definitely worth cutting things off earlier. Somehow, she enjoyed seeing him at her mercy. Cerise could hear her own heart beating hard in her chest. Doing this kind of thing with him also felt like she was closer to him, because she got to experience this level of intimacy with him.

Vanderwood cleared his throat and looked down to her again. Yeah, that sight was getting burned into his memory. “Now you take me into your mouth and suck. If you want to use teeth…drag them along lightly. Be careful. And don’t bite.” It would be so much easier to say ‘Just lick it like a lollipop’ for his embarrassment, but he knew that wasn’t how it worked, and she’d asked him to teach her what he liked. Cerise nodded only slightly before repeating the same action as before and then seamlessly transitioning to taking him into her mouth, giving him an experimental suck before pulling away to glance at him for a moment. Yeah, she definitely enjoyed seeing him like that.

Bloody fucking Hell, it felt so good. She wasn’t experienced, yet this was the best he’d ever experienced. It couldn’t just be that it was her, could it? Vanderwood pushed up on one arm so he could watch her, his hand finding her hair and tangling into it, bunching tight. Cerise was being so slow, and it took him a moment to realize that he was feeling her touches skin to skin. That’s right…this was the first time he was experiencing this without a condom. Either way, though, he had a feeling he would have been putty; he was putty. She had him right where she wanted him right now, and no matter what she did, he was moaning her name and curse words.

It was still such a weird concept for her, but she was finding she didn’t mind it. Plus, the reactions she was getting out of him were golden, and she wanted more of them. There was no way she was going to attempt to fit all of him in her mouth, and she wasn’t about to make herself look like a moron and try to. As inexperienced as she was, she had a pretty good idea of how to go about this after being given some general instructions.

She licked at the tip again before taking him back into her mouth, figuring she could use her hand to touch him where her mouth couldn’t. Cerise was purposely slow about it, being sure to take her time, because she was enjoying it and wanted him to as well. That and she wanted to make sure she could easily change if she did anything that made him uncomfortable. She tried alternating between both licking and sucking to see what would get the most response out of him, periodically using her teeth to graze him like he had suggested, careful to be gentle and not accidentally bite him or anything.

How the Hell was he supposed to make it through this? Vanderwood felt like with as hard and needy as he was, just a few quick moves and she’d have him over the edge. It didn’t seem like she was about to let that happen too fast. He bunched his hand tighter in her hair as he felt her teeth, leaning his head back towards the ceiling. “Fucking Hell…Cerise” Anything he said seemed to slip off into a long moan.

Should he warn her about how close he was? She seemed like she was just fine going slow at the moment. “If you…move too fast…” Damn, it was hard to talk past the sensation of her mouth on him. “I’ll cum…” All of his experience was crap compared to this, her in control and him as just the suggestion box. “You can…suck on my balls…or rub or play with them.” Now he wasn’t even really helping himself get to the end goal, but he was actually enjoying this way more than he’d ever have thought he could.

The reactions and sounds she was getting from him were exactly what she wanted and urged her on more. His hand in her hair let her know that she was doing something right, too. The better she did, the more his hand would grip her. It was like she could feel his every word, every moan in her very core. He was telling her how close he was, warning her, really. Had he been giving her suggestions on how to prolong it? That was a little surprising, to say the least.

Cerise didn’t want him to cum just yet, so she gave one more light suck to his tip before moving slightly more down at his suggestion, keeping her hand on his length for slow, light strokes to keep him from going over the edge. She used her mouth to suck on him first for a bit as per his suggestion and then switched to using her other hand to gently massage while she kissed and nipped at his inner thigh, ending up leaving a few marks there. Cerise couldn’t help but to want to leave more marks on him. Vanderwood had closed his eyes again, choosing not to bite his tongue for safety reasons. She had taken his advice, and as much as he was wound so tight and wanted to finish, there was just something addicting about her being in control like this. He let up on her hair as she tapped his hand to let him know that he was pulling too hard, glad she’d directed him.

There was far too strong of a heat for her now, the way he was clearly lost in the pleasure of what she was doing to him intoxicating in a way. Now she moved back up to place a kiss on his lips. She buried her face in his neck, nuzzling there, “…I need you to touch me. I don’t care where; just do it.” Her voice was low and needy. The way her body had been reacting made every cell in her scream out to be touched by him, and if anything, she wanted them to be able to finish together.

The new hickeys on his thigh had only made him moan her name and want to pull her up to him, take over. He kept that feeling back, thankful that she now was back up by him, giving him a kiss which he returned eagerly. Her request sounded so needy, but he wouldn’t have refused anyway. Vanderwood moved to roll her onto her side, his hand moving along her body to find her legs, giving her thigh a rough squeeze as he caught her lips with his, a rough kiss to steal her breath. The change in position had caused her to gasp out, but it was cut off by the rough kiss he was giving her. It seemed he had taken her request to heart, which she loved, but there was still a certain carefulness to him which she also appreciated.

Impatience was like a living thing now, but she was in charge. It was irritating and yet surprisingly sexy. Vanderwood broke the kiss to nuzzle her nose. “I’d like to take you now…” He moved to grind against her a little. “If my Cerise wants…” The fact that he had to ask her permission, it was so strange, and yet he loved it. His body almost seemed to be pissed at him, muscles tight and body hot as flames, all thanks to her.

Cerise was finding it harder to breathe when he broke the kiss, nuzzling her and asking permission to take her. Half of her wanted to ask, ‘Where?’ That thought shut up quickly once he grinded against her even just a little. The movement had soft moans escaping her lips. There was no mistaking what that meant. She bit her lip and replied by grinding against him in return slowly. Her body felt so hot, and her need for him felt like it was driving her crazy. All in all, it was worth waiting it out. Cerise got to spend more time with him like this, got to know his body better and more about herself, too. “Marion…please take me now…” She breathed it out, placing a kiss to his jawline.

Fucking shit, just the words were enough to drive him crazy. Vanderwood used the grip he had on her thigh to move her leg over his hip, so he could enter her. He moved slowly, not because he had to for her, but because he was skirting the edge. Vanderwood wasn’t about to finish without her. He took a moment to breathe as he felt her slick heat wrapped around him, his other hand now burying itself in her hair, pressing against the back of her head to pull her in for another kiss. This kiss was much slower but every bit as passionate as he began to move, using his grip on her thigh for more leverage. It was heaven. She was heaven.

Her breath had hitched when he entered her, and she clung to him tightly. She knew he was rather close and didn’t mind the slowness of it, knowing he was being considerate of her. Even though their statures were vastly different, like this, she thought it felt like they were made for each other, just another thing that screamed that they were meant to find each other. Anywhere he touched her, it felt like fire. Cerise wrapped her arms around his neck to keep him close to her, even joined like this, she always wanted him closer. The way he kissed her was slow and passionate, which she had returned in kind as he finally began to move, causing her to hold on to him more tightly.

He broke the kiss to moan against her lips. “Je’ taime, mon amour.” Cerise had him wrapped around her little finger from now until forever, and he didn’t care one bit. In fact, he wanted it that way now. Vanderwood had apparently been waiting for it all his life. After he broke the kiss, she was barely able to get out a reply, every attempt turning into a moan before she was finally able to respond to him in a broken-up manner…but still a response nonetheless. “Je…taime aussi…ma…rion.”

Cerise’s body seemed to automatically move against him on its own before she realized she was even doing it. He felt absolutely amazing, and she was wound up so tightly herself that it wasn’t taking all that much to bring her closer and closer to the edge. All the teasing and the way she had dragged things out seemed to have just primed her for a quicker finish. It worked out in her mind, because she was almost positive he was right there with her.

He wanted to keep her close like this forever, not just on the sexual level, but the intimacy of it, being close to her like no one else ever would be. The way she couldn’t quite answer him past her moans, fuck. Vanderwood was going to completely lose it, but she was right there with him. The way her body clenched around his and the few words she managed to get out, she was definitely right there with him. That now familiar feeling was slowly building up inside of her, threatening to unfurl, “Marion…I’m…” She wasn’t able to get much more out, the intense pleasure she was feeling seemingly stealing away her words, only allowing her to moan out his name. They didn’t always need words anyways. Cerise was sure he’d know, especially with the way she could feel herself involuntarily begin to clench around him more.

Vanderwood couldn’t respond to her, all he did was hold her tighter, the tightening of her heat around him finally driving him over the edge. His groans were trapped against her lips, one hand was clenched in her hair, and the other had its grip on her thigh. How wasn’t he hurting her? He let his grip go as he tried to catch and even his breath. Pulling back to look at her face, his own was flushed just as much as hers. He couldn’t help but for once praise whatever God there was, for this perfect woman he’d been blessed with. No matter how irritating, she was his, and he loved her more than anything. “You…okay, shortcake? I…didn’t hurt you?” Gently he ran his hand over her thigh, rubbing lightly at the spot he’d been gripping onto for dear life. Should he have remained more careful despite her request that he not treat her so gently?

She wasn’t too sure who reached their climax first, but it was almost simultaneous as they both clung to each other, letting it wash over them. Cerise was pretty sure her thigh was going to bruise at least a little, but she didn’t really care. Marion was rubbing at the spot, but she didn’t really feel any pain. Now she was just appreciating the way he looked right after they’d finished making love. He was breathtaking. She couldn’t help but to stare up at him as she tried to catch her own breath. “I’m…yeah. You… didn’t hurt me, mon amour. It was…you were amazing.” Her voice was still breathy.

There was now a slight dull pain on her thigh that she hadn’t noticed before, but it wasn’t anything she couldn’t handle. It was worth it, and she had liked it. Cerise nuzzled into his neck after she composed herself a little more, “Are you going to let me sleep a little more?” As much as she enjoyed the surprise sex, it was still way too early for her, and what she wanted was to examine the back of her eyelids for an hour or two.

Vanderwood didn’t realize his face could get any darker, but her compliments sure had that happening. “I…you too…” He kissed the side of her head lightly as she snuggled into him before he moved just enough to look at her thigh. She would probably bruise just slightly, but if she said it was fine, then it must be. Vanderwood pulled her as tight as he could, snorting softly at her request. “Sure, mon amour…you take a nap. I’m not letting you leave this bed until I’m done holding you anyway.” Well, he was certainly at maximum redness, but after their time apart and the long time since they’d last done this, yeah…he needed her close, almost as much as he needed air. “You’re not going anywhere for a while.” He nuzzled her hair lightly.

“Sounds…good.” She yawned and closed her eyes, feeling completely relaxed. Cerise didn’t care enough to get dressed again, and it seemed he didn’t either. That was ok by her. She wasn’t about to argue with being kept in the bed, because that’s exactly where she wanted to be. Cerise mumbled something before her breathing finally evened, and she was asleep.  She suspected that if he let her sleep in, she could very well make it until the afternoon just sleeping the day away. He laid there listening to her soft breathing and lightly stroking her hair for a good while, staring off into space, thoughts traveling to the idea that they were engaged. Someday soon…ish? They would be married. Karma hadn’t earned him that right, but he had it, and he wasn’t going to waste it.

He looked over at the clock. Wow, maybe he’d been laying here for over an hour thinking, because now it was already nearly noon. That was like losing a whole day for him. Vanderwood shuffled a little to gently nudge Cerise. “Shortcake…I think we should wake up and get ready for the day. I know I need a shower, do you?” He was personally wide awake, and even though he knew how hard of a sleeper she was, it was still amazing to him that she could sleep so well when it was already so late in the day.

The only thing she responded with was an uninspired, “Mmph…” as she grabbed for one of the numerous pillows around her and put it over her head. If she didn’t wake up on her own, it was obviously not the time to wake up. Marion was an early bird it looked like while she was nothing of the sort. The only way she’d be up that early was if she stayed up until that early instead of sleeping the previous night. It took her all of a minute to completely fall asleep again, another thing she was obviously talented at.

What was that noise supposed to mean exactly? Vanderwood looked at her for a little while before deciding that he wasn’t letting her sleep in any longer. Cerise could probably sleep the day away at this rate. He picked her up carefully, trying not to focus too much on the fact that they were both still naked. Vanderwood turned on the warm water in the shower, surprised to find that she was very much still asleep before stepping in with her. He had to turn around a bit or he would be stealing all the water, but now they were each getting hit by the warm water.

As soon as Cerise felt water hit her, her eyes shot open, and she began to flail around wildly. “You can’t just–where am–” There was a moment of stillness and silence as she processed what was going on, and her eyes widened. “OH MY GOD.” There was more wild flailing as she struggled to get away from the water and shower. “YOU DIDN’T POUR THE BUBBLE BATH DOWN THE DRAIN, MARION!” This was not good, not good at all, at this rate…”What if sharks come up the drain now!? THE BUBBLES KEEP THEM AWAY. IT BURNS THEIR EYES.”

Okay, so she was flailing. Thanks to the water, she was rather slippery, but Vanderwood did his best to tighten his grip and hang on without hurting her. “What? Cerise, calm down!” He tried to keep an even tone as she was freaking out, but he really wasn’t sure what to do in the moment. What would bubbles keep away anyway? The shark comment made no sense whatsoever. Vanderwood moved to position himself between her and the water. “Cerise, everything is fine. You’re fine. There’s nothing in the drain.” He figured it was best just to try to dissuade her fears right now rather than trying to understand what she was talking about, because obviously he had no idea, and he wasn’t going to come to a conclusion on his own.

“Oh my god, Marion. Don’t just stand there!” Cerise was finally able to get an arm free and grab the impressively large bottle of bubble bath by her shower, pouring some down the drain. Only then did she relax and look at Vanderwood, frowning. “Sharks, Marion. Sharks.” Okay, so she knew that sharks couldn’t come up the pipes, but she still felt like maybe they could. Maybe they could find a way. Even if there was a microscopic chance that they could, she was not about to let some fish chomp on her while she was naked and vulnerable in the shower.

Bubbles hurt when they got in Cerise’s eyes, so they must hurt the sharks. Cerise had been shark-free for her entire life by pouring just a little bubble bath down the drain or by taking bubble baths; she wasn’t about to risk it now. She would survive. “…Even if there’s a tiny chance they could come up the pipes, it’s a risk I don’t want to take. You said you wanted to protect me, Marion! Jeeze.”

Vanderwood could actually feel the confusion fall off of and be replaced by some mixture between irritation and just…He could literally not understand how on Earth she would think that there were sharks in the tub. It felt like he was going to say something completely rude, so he just opened and closed his mouth a few times before he could finally jumble something together properly. Her tone with him had his eyebrow twitching. As though he should have known that he needed to protect her from sharks in the fucking shower. What the Hell?

Finally, he managed to as least get to a more gently brusque tone. “I do and will protect you, but there aren’t any sharks in the drain. That is impossible.” Now that she was awake and not flailing around anymore, he gently placed her down, finding her chin with his hand. Thankfully, his broad back blocked out the spray, so he could have her look in his eyes. “There are no sharks, bubble bath or not.” Vanderwood wasn’t intending to, but it sounded just a little like he was talking to a child, and then the question he’d really been meaning to ask just slipped out. “Why in God’s name would you think that anyway?”

Cerise stared at him, stone faced. When he placed her down, she straightened herself up and ran her fingers through her hair briefly before he took her chin with his hand. “Yes, I know there aren’t sharks. I’m not dumb. I’m concerned with the possibility of sharks.” What wasn’t he getting? It seemed simple enough of a concept to her. It was a little irritating that he seemed to be talking down to her like she was an infant or something. At his next question she shrugged. “I think…someone mentioned it in grade school? Ever since then I’ve been open to the possibility.” Cerise suddenly realized that she was still kinda naked and quickly brushed her fingers through her hair again to strategically cover herself with the long locks. “I erm…” Words, use them. Oh no…now her face was turning red. Cerise quickly turned her back to him, “I–maybe the better question is why are we in the shower…? Did you need help or…?”

Vanderwood bit his tongue. Better to just drop the issue than to start fighting about it. She obviously seemed to understand it wasn’t possible, and yet somehow it was still a problem? It didn’t make much sense but whatever. Cerise looked like she’d realized something and then she was blushing and using her hair to cover herself somewhat then actually turning her back to him. Vanderwood coughed and started to turn red as well. “I mean…no…You were going to sleep the day away otherwise, and I figured we both needed a shower after…this morning’s…yeah.” Wow, he couldn’t even say ‘after having sex.’ Such a wonderful talent with words he had, really. He rubbed the back of his head, his hair already good and wet. “Now that we’re in here we might as well shower together…If uh…that’s okay?” She seemed a little uncomfortable, so if it was too much for her, it wouldn’t take him long to get done and get out. “I’ll finish up and leave…if that’s easier.”

Well, he did have a point…and considering that they had had sex not that long ago…Why was she even being so shy? There was literally nothing that she had that he hadn’t already seen before. What time even was it? She didn’t feel like she’d slept all that long. Somehow, she figured she was going to have to get used to being up early in the morning. Oh well…”Wait!” She turned around again and went to hug him, deciding not to care, as much as she could, that they were both naked. “I’m…It’s fine. Please stay.” Showering together could be fun. Cerise could totally wash his hair for him! She stepped away and took a look at him. Okay…maybe not. At least she could comfortably wash his back for him? If he’d let her, that is. “My shampoo and body-wash smell kinda girly…that okay with you?”

He was a little surprised when she actually turned back around and hugged him. Vanderwood bit his tongue, maybe a little harder than he’d meant to, and winced before he wrapped his arms around her, too, giving the top of her head a small kiss. This could be really nice, honestly. If she’d let him, he could easily wash her hair, or help anyway. She had so much of it that he wondered how she managed it on her own. Her question had him snorting a little. “Yeah, girly is fine. I probably smell like you at this point anyway.”

His face felt as warm as the shower water, and he let go of her to rub the back of his head again. “I uh….you know because of…your sheets and stuff…Anyway, I don’t mind. You always smell amazing to me, so…” Good, some cheesy compliments in the shower, too. “I’ll…move so you can get some water. I think I’m blocking it all.” He shifted carefully to let her take up the space closer to the shower head. “Would you mind if I helped you wash your hair?” It seemed silly, but he really wanted to. Her hair was something he absolutely loved about her appearance. Granted, he loved everything about her, even that tone when he didn’t know about the damn sharks.

She almost didn’t hear his question because when he moved, she was sprayed in the face by the shower. Now she turned and rubbed her eyes, letting the warm water wash over her hair instead of attacking her in the face. Cerise’s eyes lit up for a moment. He wanted to wash her hair? That sounded amazing to her. She gave an enthusiastic, “Yes!” and grabbed a shampoo bottle. Cerise had a few different ones in an array of scents and chose a honey vanilla scent for that day, handing Marion the bottle. “Lemme get my hair wet…might take a second.”

Maybe he should have given her more warning before moving, but then her mood changed completely. Cerise was far more up for it than he had thought she would be, but of course he didn’t mind. Vanderwood was just happy she was actually going to let him. “Take your time.” It took her what seemed like way too long to him, but obviously all the hair care was worth it, or she would have cut it a long time ago. He took good care of his own, somewhat obsessing over trying to make it look neat but never able to do so. It looked much neater long than it did when it was short, so he kept it on the longer side for the sake of his sanity.

Cerise focused the next two or so minutes on getting her hair completely wet. That was the downside of having long hair, it took forever to do anything with, but to her, the look was well worth it. She glanced at Marion. He actually had long hair for a guy, at least nowhere near as long as hers. It actually suited him somehow, and she definitely didn’t mind it. When she was confident that her hair was completely wet, she gave him the ok. “Be careful not to get any into my eyes…that would suck.”

He snorted a little at her comment before he put some of the shampoo she’d chosen in the palm of his hand, setting the bottle aside. “Yeah that would suck. Don’t worry, I used to…” Vanderwood bit his tongue just a second as he processed what he was saying. “I used to wash Caleb’s hair. When he was little.” He looked at her for a second, trying to swallow the lump that had built in his throat and then slid his hands into her hair to lather it. That was a welcome distraction from the sting of grief.

“I’m sorry…” If she didn’t hear that over the sound of the water, he wouldn’t be surprised, but he felt rather guilty, making something happy tainted with something so…bittersweet. He cleared his throat roughly as he worked on her hair before apologizing again. “I didn’t mean to make this…I’m sorry.” The shampoo smelled amazing. He hadn’t checked the label before he’d started using it, but it smelled like vanilla and honey, which was soothing.

Cerise’s heart sank listening to him, seeing the sad expression on his face as he talked about his late brother. She couldn’t imagine how it must have felt, how it must still feel now. Cerise couldn’t pretend to understand what he was going through or went through before. All she could do was be there for him. “Marion…it’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with missing him.” She reached up to cup the side of his face, rubbing her thumb there. “You never need to apologize…I’m sure it’s hard.” Cerise had the thought that at least he was coping by talking about it instead of going off the deep end.

Talking through things, to her, seemed much better than resorting to sex and cigarettes all the time when the going got tough. “Please…just let it out when you feel like you need to. I’m here for you, and I’ll be here tomorrow and each day after that.” Cerise knew that he still had a lot of healing to do. Marion was a broken man. He was surely healing, but he was still broken. She didn’t think the sting of Caleb’s death would ever go away, but she thought that at least one day he would stop blaming himself and come to terms with it. Cerise would be sure to be there with him every step of the way.

Vanderwood turned his head to lightly kiss her hand. He felt vulnerable, maybe even a little weak. Recently, for the first time in ages he had cried, and now he felt like doing it again. Yet, he was okay. It felt like he could do this, could handle it. After a deep breath, he nodded. “I’ll try…” His heart had positively melted when she said she would be there for him, that she was there for him. It was also just a little panic inducing, because what the Hell would he do without her now? Vanderwood didn’t want to think about it. If he had anything to say about it, nothing would happen to her.

Cerise gave him a warm smile. Trying was all he could really do; he just needed time to finally properly heal. She closed her eyes and enjoyed the feeling of his hands in her hair. It felt like heaven. He resumed his lathering of her hair, probably a little longer than was strictly necessary before starting on helping her to wash it out. “As long as I’m with you…I think I’ll be okay.” They hadn’t been together that long, and he’d already quit smoking. He certainly wasn’t sleeping around, although he still worried when he got irritated, but he felt better, healthier, more like a normal person.

When it came time to wash out the soap she felt a little disappointed, but then she figured that if she really wanted it, she could perhaps request for him to massage her head at some point…or just run his hands through her hair continually. Either worked for her. “I know you will~” Cerise moved to grab a bottle of conditioner and then put it in her hair. It could sit there while she did other things before she was ready to wash it out. “I kinda…I wanna wash your hair, too but…” She gestured at him and then towards herself. “You’re a giant.”

Vanderwood didn’t question her about the conditioner, knowing that it would make her hair much softer to leave it in. There often wasn’t time for him to do the same when he was cleaning off after a mission, but whenever he got the chance to, he would. His face had cooled down previously, but now he was blushing again, his heart seemingly having just put itself back to normal before melting once more. She wanted to wash his hair? No one had ever done that for him.

He always loved it when she had her hands in his hair, even just lightly playing with it…so it seemed like it would feel wonderful. Vanderwood snorted softly at her comment on his size, though. “Yeah…I guess I am.” Thinking about it, he figured he could sit comfortably in the shower, not for too extended a period of time but certainly long enough for her to wash his hair. “Just a second…” He moved to sit with his back to her. “Does…this work for you?”

“That’s perfect!” She was excited. Now she could wash his hair, too. Cerise grabbed the same bottle of shampoo that she had chosen for herself and squeezed some into her hand. Shortly after, she realized that it might have been slightly too much, since she was used to the amount it took to wash her own hair. Cerise decided to shrug it off. At least his hair would smell extra good?

She went to work on lathering his hair, making sure to massage his scalp well as she hummed happily. It was much easier to wash his hair than it was to wash her own. Sometimes hers seemed like a chore, but his felt delightful, and she loved doing it. Plus, she just kinda liked having her hands in his hair. It felt so good. He hadn’t quite expected it. Vanderwood closed his eyes and just enjoyed it. Usually he loved her hands in his hair, but somehow this was even nicer. It was just…intimate somehow, and he loved it. Her humming had him smiling, too and humming along just a little. Was that a normal thing to do? This was just a wonderful moment. Never had he thought he would get to experience something like this, but now it was going down in history as one of his most treasured memories.

Cerise rinsed his hair now, passing her fingers through his hair to get all the soap out before adding some conditioner. “You should keep this in at least while you bathe, makes your hair feel softer, and the smell stays better~ Trust me.” He softly grunted in acknowledgement of her comment about the conditioner, not feeling like explaining that he already knew. Vanderwood moved to stand up carefully and then bent to give her a light kiss, ignoring the fact that they were nude as best he could. “Thank you…I really enjoyed that…”

Now she flashed him a smile. “Me too~ Let’s do this more often, ‘kay?” Cerise did enjoy showering with him; it was something so simple, and yet it made it feel like they were closer, like everything was and had been normal. She decided to grab a vanilla scented body-wash that complimented the shampoo and conditioner she’d used and lathered it onto a sponge. “I have different scents, pick one you’ll like~” Vanderwood just shrugged at first. “Sounds good to me, but whatever you’re using is fine.” He was confused as to why she needed multiple scents, but maybe that was a girl thing. At any rate, she always smelled great, so he wasn’t complaining.

She began to properly bathe and was actually rather quick about it. It was normally just her hair that would take forever and a day to take care of. Cerise looked to him and grinned, “Wanna wash my back too~? Kinda hard to reach, ya know.” She didn’t really wait for him to answer before shoving her sponge at him and turning, moving her hair over her shoulder to expose her back to him, a soft giggle in her tone. “I can get yours after; I can at least reach there.”

Her question had him blushing like an idiot as he looked at her bare back. She was beautiful. Vanderwood had taken the sponge she’d shoved his way, but now he kissed her shoulder gently before he started to wash off her back. “I guess you can reach there.” She was short in comparison, but even as small as she was, it’s not like he really was a giant. He finished off and handed the sponge back to her before turning his back to her, so she could start him off. Earlier he’d mostly just been staring at her instead of washing up. “I’ll just wash off after you get my back.”

Cerise nodded but then realized that he couldn’t see her with his back turned. So smart. “Yep, I gotcha!” She added more soap to the sponge and started. There was a lot more area to cover for him, but she enjoyed that. Luckily, even if her head couldn’t reach anything, he hands could, and she didn’t have to make too much of a fuss washing his back. Cerise finished up his back and made sure he was in front of the shower, since it would take him less time. “You can wash the conditioner out now. ”

Vanderwood had shuffled in front of the water now, per her nudging for him to do so. Having someone else wash your back it was…well, he didn’t know much about romance really, but he thought maybe that’s what it was? Romantic? He should listen to some romance music or watch some romance movies soon, just to get some knowledge on how to do more of that for her rather than being cheesy. He washed off the rest of his body before he finished off with the conditioner as she’d suggested.

He gave her a little nudge to warn her he was moving out of the stream before he did so again, not wanting her to get sprayed in the eyes like earlier. This was the best shower he’d ever had, even if it seemed to take over twice as long. Cerise was happy not to be sprayed in the face again when he moved, starting on removing the conditioner from her hair, which was always a more tedious task than rinsing out shampoo. “Once you’re done, I think we should dry off and get lunch. We kind of…missed breakfast.” He coughed softly thinking about what they’d done instead of breakfast, and he had to look away from her up at the ceiling just to keep his mind from wandering.

She had just finished when he spoke. “Yeah, I think I’m done…” A small blush rose to her face. Oh, they’d missed breakfast all right. “I…think it was worth missing breakfast.” Why. Not the time, yet again. Ugh. Cerise shook her head and hopped out, grabbing three towels. Two for herself and then one for him. She wrapped one around herself and handed him one before towel drying her hair with the other towel and then taking care to wrap it up, so she could dry off the rest of herself. “You need another towel for your hair?”

Bloody Hell, she knew how to make him blush. “Uh…good.” He’d followed her out of the shower, taking the towel offered. Vanderwood was already drying off his hair before he would move on to dry his body when she asked that question. “No, why?” Oh. She had one wrapped around her hair. He’d always just used the one towel. How had she even gotten her hair wrapped up in that? Vanderwood looked at her for a moment before he responded again. “I think I’m good with the one.”

He finished drying off before wrapping the towel around his waist and going to the sink, deciding he might as well brush his teeth now. As he was brushing, he looked at her using the steamed over mirror, her blurry form there just as beautiful as the genuine item. It dawned on him that he’d just showered with her, been completely naked for at least the past forty-five minutes with her, and he hadn’t even thought about having sex with her. In fact, he’d even remembered a moment with Caleb and still he hadn’t wanted anything more from her than her presence.

Vanderwood rinsed his mouth and toothbrush as happiness welled up in him. He was getting so much better, and his chest felt so full, like his heart was growing in size. It was such a great feeling. Vanderwood bounded over to her to kiss her, grabbing the small of her back to pull her close as he did so, but missing her mouth and kissing the corner of it instead before he let go and hopped off into the room to get changed. Damn, he was happy.

She had been taking a moment to watch him as she got some of her post shower items out of a cabinet, and the next moment he had bounded over to her and planted a kiss on her…Except he horribly missed and got the side of her mouth and then just as quickly ran off into her room. Cerise just stood there for a minute in a confused stupor. That was strange. She thought it was adorable, but strange, for him at least. Cerise shrugged it off and made sure she was completely dry before putting on lotion and going to the sink and brushing her teeth.

Today felt like it was going to be a great day. It didn’t take him long to get dressed, but it was taking her quite a while to blow dry her hair. It made sense why she would, though. His hair was already starting to dry at least a little, but considering how much hair she had, air drying it would probably take an eternity and a half. While she was in the bathroom, he got out his phone and started looking through her posts from the past day.

They were getting quite a bit of attention, and he couldn’t help but smile at the reactions of her followers. Then he read a particular comment from a rather snooty looking asshole saying he was going to sweep Cerise back to Paris and marry her himself. That little dark feeling he was just starting to get some grasp over bubbled up in his chest. Nope. Vanderwood responded `Try it.` Anyone trying to take Cerise away from him was going to meet with an unfortunate end. That was a little intense. He took a deep breath and just focused on the more positive comments, astounded by the sheer number of them.

As Cerise finished on blow-drying her hair, she gave it a quick brush before heading into her room to change. Checking her phone, she saw that the weather was still pretty cold…not cold enough to wear pants, obviously. She opted for a rather oversized sweater with a cute skirt along with her leggings and some flat boots. After getting completely dressed, she found him and pretty much kamikazed him with a hug.

Vanderwood was interrupted in his reading by her practically attacking him, and it took him just a second to recognize that, no, she wasn’t an enemy, not that he’d been about to hurt her, but he had immediately scanned the room for an escape route. Nice. “So! What’re the plans for today, mister fiancé?” Cerise asked in her familiar sing-song voice as she looked up at him, grinning widely. Her voice had the worry that had just built up slipping off him almost immediately. “What would you like to do, miss fiancée?” Damn, she was perfect.

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Mystic Messenger Fanfiction | VanderwoodxOC Cerise – Tagged | Proposed Cooking Lesson

Cerise shot him a smile before she was headed back to the couch with her omelet, waiting to start on it until he joined her. Not only had she gotten the cooking lesson she was promised today, but she’d gotten a proposal for something much better.

***My apologies for last week’s lack of post. My puppy was diagnosed with a dreadful disease which we are lucky he survived followed by myself getting a terrible cold. I hope this week’s sweet fluffy chapter will help. There is a deleted scene chapter before this available to my patrons. It’s called ‘Preparations Apart,’ and is all about Vandy gettin that ring and there are shower selfies involved. ~Let’s Connect! FFC***

*Remember, this is a sequel to Vanderwood Backstory, and Cerise has a bio. You can support my writing on patreon and get access to my VIP Discord Server or other goodies like early chapter releases and hidden scenes.  Tagged Chapter Directory*

They had spent the last day apart, and boy did he feel it when he woke up. Vanderwood pulled away from the mass of pillows that he’d cuddled into because they smelled like her, grumbling softly as he hadn’t slept nearly as well without her. He’d gotten her ring yesterday, that and hurt himself again by exercising after their exchanged after-shower selfies had caused him a pants tightness problem. Jesus…by now she’d probably also gotten her pills, too, not that that would do him any good. Yet. Bloody Hell, what kind of a man was he that that was what he was focused on?

He sent her a good morning text, assuming she would still be sleeping. It took him a while to get up and make breakfast, opting for toast again and some juice to wash down pain pills. He felt exactly like he had yesterday now, so he really had set himself back a day. At least it wasn’t horrendously painful. Vanderwood didn’t have much time left before he was going to be asking the love of his life to marry him. It was all so fast, but he knew she was the one for him, and he knew that she felt the same way, even though he was still anxious and nervous. He snorted at himself, only because he’d gone from, ‘I’m going to ask her someday’ to, ‘Now.’

Vanderwood kept practicing the words, hoping they would come out right. As much as he had practiced, ‘Will you go out with me,’ he had found that, ‘Will you marry me’ sounded incredibly different. At least it had been good practice in learning more words? Vanderwood showered and got dressed, opting for his v-neck shirt and black shirt over the top rather than a t-shirt. He should look at least a little nice, right? They were going to stay together tonight, so he packed up a little bag and grabbed the ring box, placing it in his pocket with a deep sigh, trying to release all the nerves that were building in his gut. It was nearly time. Vanderwood sat on the edge of his bed as he watched the minutes tick by, sending her another text. `I’ll see you soon, shortcake. I miss you.`

***

Cerise was woken up by the sound of her phone going off. Groggily, she unlocked it to check her messages. It had been from her boyfriend…He was going to come over soon. Cerise stretched and hopped out of bed, scattering a few pillows about as she did so. She padded over to her bathroom and discovered that she somehow looked like an absolute mess. Her hair was all over the place. “…Did I fight a fricken leopard in my sleep?” She mumbled to herself as she tried to tame her messy locks with a brush. When she was satisfied, she clipped off a section of her fringe to keep it out of her eyes and set off to find something to wear.

She opted for a pair of shorts instead of a skirt and a tank top with tennis shoes. Cerise threw a cute jacket over the top and didn’t skip the stocking, because it was still winter, after all. Finally, she brushed her teeth and put on lotion before plopping down on her couch in the living room and turning on the television. Now she pulled out her phone to reply, a smile on her face. `Miss u 2. I’ll b waiting <3`

***

His phone pinged, and by now he was tired of waiting around. Surely, she wouldn’t mind if he came a little early? The anxiety was eating at him, and he felt like he needed to ask her now. Hell, he probably wouldn’t make it through the front door at this rate. Vanderwood sent her a quick text before grabbing his things and tossing them in the car. `Can’t wait. Coming over now.` The drive seemed even longer than before. It wasn’t really that long, maybe 20 minutes, but eternity stretched out before him before he had finally parked and was at her door, taking a deep breath as he knocked, hand finding the little box in his pocket. This was happening, and it was happening right now.

***

Her phone pinged and buzzed again, causing her to grin. It was cute that he couldn’t wait to see her; she felt the same way. Cerise was eager to see him again after spending a night apart. Judging by how her hair had been that morning, she’d probably tossed and turned all night. She decided not to text him back, since he was driving, and she didn’t want him to be tempted to check his phone while on the road…Not that he would. He was so much smarter than that.

She didn’t know how much time it had been before she heard a knock at her door, causing her to jump up and all but run to it. Cerise flung it open and threw her arms around him, forgetting that he was sore. “Oops!” She let go and laughed sheepishly, “I kinda forgot…I just missed you.” Cerise tried for a hug again except a lot gentler that time. She just felt like she was brimming with so much affection and excitement just by him being there; she felt like she could burst.

Vanderwood grunted at the pain of her embrace, but it was swiftly followed with one much gentler. He wrapped an arm around her as he kept his other hand in his pocket. “I missed you, too…Cerise….I have to tell you something.” He stepped away from her just a little, his hand finding her chin and holding it, so he could keep his chestnut brown eyes locked with her honey gold. Cerise was about to complain that it was really cold out there and that they should probably head inside if he wanted to tell her something, but the look in his eyes were so intense and captivating she couldn’t find the words. All she could do was stare up at him, the cold making her breath visible in the air.

“I can’t remember being so happy as I am with you. You’ve given me everything, and I can’t help but want to do the same. You’re ma moitié, my everything, the only woman I’ll ever need.” The words were coming so easily, flowing perfectly even as blush rose in his cheeks. “I need to ask you something…something really important.” Here it came, he’d practiced over and over and now was the moment of truth.

The words that came out of his mouth made her blush, he was being so sweet this early. Did he really miss her that much? She nodded when he said he needed to ask her something important, but she got worried for a moment when he suddenly dropped to one knee and visibly winced. Marion was in that much pain? He should have stayed in bed. Cerise was about to interrupt him and tell him that he was in pain and needed to come inside to rest, that they could talk later, but his next question threw her off.

“Iras-tu sortir avec moi…No….wait…” No, no no, that wasn’t right. A look of confusion washed over her face. He…was asking her to go out with him. For the third time now. Was this some weird British thing? Vanderwood bit his tongue as he tried to remember. He had royally screwed this up, beautiful. Think, you dunderhead. “Veux-tu m’épouser….Yes…veux-tu m’épouser?” God, he couldn’t blame her if she said no and made him ask again later, because that really sucked. Vanderwood felt stupid on many levels, but he produced the little ring box anyway.

Before she could try to interrupt again, once she broke out of her confused daze, he had asked his apparently corrected question. Did he realize what he was asking her? Apparently, he did, because he also produced a ring box. So here he was, proposing to her in her apartment doorway. Tears began to brim in her eyes as she dropped down with him and threw her arms around him, hugging tightly and forgetting again about his soreness. This wasn’t something that she had expected this early in their relationship or…at all, really. She would have been happy just being by his side. “Of course…yes. Yes, I’ll marry you.” It didn’t matter to her that they’d only even known each other for a short while, Cerise already knew that she and him were meant to be together. Why prolong the inevitable?

He saw the tears first and when her arms wrapped around him just a little too tightly, he knew. Vanderwood knew she was saying yes before the words left her mouth. Even though he was a cheesy, rather blunt, damaged idiot, she still wanted to marry him. Vanderwood wrapped her up tighter in his arms, despite how much it was hurting his back and leg to sit there like this. Cerise was going to marry him, and he couldn’t be happier. He shifted just a little to open the ring box for her and take out the ring to place it on her finger. “This was my errand yesterday…I’m so happy you liked it…” And he was, probably happier than he’d ever been.

He kissed her ring softly before nuzzling her nose, his hands on her cheeks, wiping away a few stray tears. “Je’taime, Cerise…You’ve made me the happiest man in the world already.” Vanderwood really hadn’t made it past her doorway after all. The relief and joy washed through him now; the joy he could see in her eyes, that was worth making a fool of himself on her doorstep, even though his leg was starting to cramp up.

So, that had been his errand…he did say that he thought she’d like it. Cerise absolutely loved it. The ring he had picked out was simple but completely beautiful. He really knew how to pick something out to compliment her. As much as she annoyed him and wasn’t good at much of anything, this man had asked her to marry him. Her, out of all the people in the world. “I love you too, Marion.” Cerise sniffled a bit before standing up, holding onto his hands to motion for him to follow. It was really cold outside, and she didn’t want him to get sick on top of all the pain he was in.

Vanderwood tried not to wince too much as she pulled him along into the house. He really had cramped up, but with how happy she was, it was so incredibly worth it. Once they were inside and the door was closed, she was embracing him again; she didn’t want to let go. Cerise was still trying to wrap her head around the fact that the man currently standing in front of her was going to be her husband and was now officially her fiancé. There was such an intense feeling of joy that she had never experienced before now, and she wanted to remember it for the rest of her life.

If Cerise had been taller, she would have just kissed him, but she wasn’t going to ruin the moment by hopping around like some deranged bunny just to reach him. “Thank you…for choosing to stay with me. And for putting up with me.” She nuzzled her face into his shirt, still holding him. “You make me happy~ I don’t think there’s even an emoji that can express what I’m feeling right now. ”

His heart wouldn’t stop fluttering, all thanks to her. “Cerise…” She just kept holding him, and he didn’t want to stop holding her, although he did want to kiss her. Could he manage the pain to do that? Cerise was his fiancée now. It almost seemed surreal, but there it was. This woman, who for all intents and purposes should have run away from him, should have turned him away the moment they met, had agreed to become his wife.

Her comments had him smiling and pulling her closer. “I would choose you over anyone. And I’ll ‘put up’ with you for the rest of my life.” He gently stroked her hair, his heart warming further. Of course, she would want to use emojis to describe it. There was no resisting it now. To Cerise’s absolute delight, it seemed he was going to kiss her.

Vanderwood pulled away from her solely so his hand could cup the side of her face as he kissed her, deep and slow. He poured his love for her into that kiss, wanting her to feel just how much it meant to him that she cared for him, that she wanted to take care of him at all, the joy that she brought to his formerly bleak world. His Cerise, immature and irritating, but wonderful, strong, caring, open-minded; Vanderwood couldn’t come up with enough praises, because nothing would ever be enough. His body was reacting to her now even past all of the excitement, so he pulled away, blush hot in his cheeks.

Just from that one kiss–their first as an engaged couple, he told her wordlessly how much she meant to him and how much he loved her. Cerise loved these intense moments where words weren’t needed. She poured her own heart into her kiss, getting lost in the flood of their shared affection. It felt like he’d pulled away far too soon for her liking, but she could understand why…She was starting to get worked up, so she could only imagine how he felt. The blush on her cheeks matched his as she took his hand and led him to the couch. “Sit here while I make some warm tea for my future hubby~” Just saying it made her heart leap.

He was thankful to be sitting down, and now he was blushing even harder at being called her future hubby with such a sweet voice. He was a little cold; he realized that now. The winter air had sunken into him but not been felt past his excitement. Vanderwood watched her as she made the tea, taking in her appearance. She was wearing shorts and a thin top with only her stockings and jacket to really provide any true warmth to her. He bit his tongue looking at her. His future wife didn’t know how to dress for the weather apparently…but she sure dressed in a way he liked. Vanderwood internally slapped himself, sinking into the couch instead.

As she made her way to the kitchen, she examined the ring he’d gotten her. It was real. He had really asked her to marry him. That cheesy vanderjerk. The blush was still taking up residence on her face as she brewed a cup of tea. She added only a little ginger to some green tea with lemon and a small bit of honey. While she was at it, she made herself a cup, too, sans the ginger and with a lot more honey. When she was done, she carefully brought his cup to him with a smile. “Here~”

Her sing-song tones would be the death of him. “Thank you…future wife.” Vanderwood reached for her, gently tapping her lips with his pointer finger. “I feel like I don’t tell you enough just how beautiful you are.” Attack of the cheesiness. She really was, though, and the outfit only made her look even better. He shifted to indicate he wanted her to snuggle up to him, not worrying about soreness, just wanting her close to him. After their night apart, he didn’t want to be away from her at all.

Cerise felt like she was on cloud nine, and nothing could bring her down. Him calling her his future wife made her feel like she was falling in the best way. The color dominating her face was redder than her namesake. The word ‘wife’ felt like it couldn’t apply to her quite yet–she was only twenty. People got married that young, right? How old was he, even? She figured he couldn’t be that much older than her, even if he did act like such a stick in the mud sometimes. Cerise couldn’t help but giggle a little. He was being so very cheesy today…Though he had every right to be, especially if he was as elated as she was.

“Oh~?” Cerise took him up on his offer, snuggling up to him closely. “If you think I’m so beautiful, maybe we should start going out or something.” She teased him and carefully reached over him to where she’d put her own cup of tea on the side table. Vanderwood wrapped an arm around her as she snuggled into him. Her tease had him coughing softly in embarrassment. “Yeah, I think I really would like to go out with you.”  He was about to say something to her about how much he liked her outfit, his hand at her hip so he could reach out and touch the soft fabric of her top. Vanderwood started absentmindedly playing with it, but then she completely broke his train of thought. “You know what, though?” Cerise took a sip of her tea and looked up at him, grinning. “I still think you look better in a skirt than I do~”

Fucking Seven. “I…” Vanderwood felt his eyebrow twitch just a little in irritation at the redhead. Someday, somehow, he would get that little shit back for showing that picture of him in a maid’s outfit by embarrassing the kid. If that were even possible. “I have to disagree with you.” He bit his tongue before having some of the tea she’d made for him. There was a bit of ginger in it, but it wasn’t nasty like the last time, and he would have been grateful for it even if it was. “Did you want to help me with lunch after we finish our tea, fiancée?” It felt ridiculously silly to keep repeating that she was in fact going to be his future wife, but it also gave him that warm fuzzy feeling he was coming to enjoy so much.

“Oh, but I think you’re mistaken, dear Marion~” Cerise was definitely going to have to ask the red-headed man for any copies of that picture that he might have. She was sure that Vanderwood would protest as soon as he found out, but she’d find some way to convince him to let her keep it. He had repeated the word again; he was definitely as excited and giddy as she currently was. “I would love to help you, but I can’t believe I get to have such an attractive teacher. Good thing I’m the only student, huh?” She took another sip of her tea. “Can’t have the others getting all jealous that I’m marrying the teacher.” Cerise glanced at her ring again, unable to get over how pretty it was or how well it had fit on her finger. How did he even know her size? She didn’t even know her size.

Vanderwood snorted softly. “I’m more worried about me getting jealous if someone else were teaching you.” That was most certainly true. It was a new thing for him, but he was definitely more jealous than the average person, and he had a feeling that his jealousy could be lethal in the right situation. Cereise nodded, talking into her cup of tea. “Would suck to be that person, huh?” She had already seen small glimpses of his jealousy, and there was no doubt he’d be quite a force under the right (or wrong) circumstances.

His eyes fell to her ring. It suited her so perfectly, and that just made him smile all the more, not only because she seemed to love it, but also because he felt damn proud of himself for picking something that matched her so well. “Does the ring fit okay? I made an educated guess.” His fingers had continued absentmindedly playing with her shirt as he drank his tea, by chance slipping just under the fabric to brush against her scar.

“It fits perfectly, actually. I was surprised, it was a really lucky guess.” They both sat there in silence for a little while just drinking their tea and enjoying each other’s company after their time apart. While cuddled up to him, she could hear him breathe…it was such a comforting sound along with his steady heartbeat. She felt his fingers brush over her scar once more. Did he feel guilty?

Cerise tried not to think about that day, the words he had said. He didn’t mean them, yet they still came out of his mouth. She shook her head and pushed those thoughts away. Of course, he didn’t mean them, it probably hurt him to say them as much as it hurt her to hear them. Marion wouldn’t have asked her to spend the rest of her life with him if he didn’t want her around, if he didn’t care for her–didn’t love her.

Vanderwood had been tracing her scar for some time now, but then his fingers slipped down over the much smoother skin of her hip. He moved his hand, placing it up on the couch. Even just that one small touch to her skin had made him react to her. It had been too long and too stressful since the last time he’d had sex, clearly. He bit his tongue before taking a big swallow of tea, trying to hide just how red his face was.

When his hand moved from her scar to her hip, she began to automatically respond with a blush. Just as quickly as he had done it, he’d pulled his hand away. She looked up at him with a questioning expression, finding his face was totally red. Cerise was happy that he was doing so well, that he had so much better impulse control now. If he hadn’t been so sore, she might have tried at teasing him just a little. Instead, she opted to just let him have his moment, pretending she hadn’t noticed how flustered he was…which in turn made her more flustered.

He placed his tea to the side. Why was it that he already wanted to put his hand on her again, wanted the contact? Addiction based or just because he loved her? Really, he was doing much better than he thought he would ever be able to at controlling himself, although he still worried. She deserved the best of this world, and he only hoped he could make that happen…only hoped he would be able to keep her from getting hurt in his presence any further than the times she already had.

Just a day before after her brush with painkillers he’d said…some things. In the moment he’d meant them, and it was a fear for him that he would ruin her life, but…Vanderwood looked down at her. He would keep that from happening, and she was willing to risk everything to be with him, just like he was to be with her. She had that right just as much as he did.

Cerise kept her head down and focused on her tea. The silence was starting to be a little uncomfortable for her.  “Marion…I never really asked you. How old are you? I guess it’s kinda silly asking that now considering…” Cerise found the hand that he rested on the couch and began to play with his fingers. “I’m twenty…but I’m sure you already know that. Being a super-secret agent and all.”

Her question pulled him out of his thoughts. “Oh…well…” That’s right, he’d never told her. “Yeah…I’ve known since the day after I brought you to the first hotel. Seven sent me a file…but I could only read the first sentence. Didn’t feel right to read the rest.” She probably had some idea of how old he was already, so it wouldn’t be a huge shock right? “I’m 28. I’ll be 29 soon.”

Okay, so he was eight years older than her, that wasn’t bad. At the mention of the word ‘soon’ her eyes lit up. “Soon? When is your birthday?” Cerise loved celebrating things. Holidays and birthdays made her so excited, but the birthday of her fiancé? Sign her right the Hell up! She was totally going to learn how to cook by then, so she could surprise him with something she made that wasn’t terrible and burned. By now, she was pretty much hovering right next to his face, eyes sparkling with excitement.

Holy shit, why was she so excited? He leaned away just a little, furrowing his brows at her. It was just a birthday. Hell, he’d never even done anything for his birthday. “It’s…December 23rd. Just about a month from now…but I’d rather not dwell on it.” Vanderwood couldn’t even remember people saying happy birthday to him. No wait, he could. Caleb. Caleb was the only one who remembered. Vanderwood wrapped his arms around Cerise, pulling her into his lap tightly and burying his face in her hair. His heart had felt like it was being suddenly crushed, her presence in his arms easing it somewhat.

She didn’t even have a chance to ask him why he seemed so upset before he was pulling her into his lap. The atmosphere felt sort of…gloomy all the sudden…Had something happened on his birthday? Did he just not like celebrating it? If it was bad memories he had…she wanted to do her best to replace them with good ones. He was twenty-eight…and probably hadn’t celebrated his birthday in a while. Cerise had a lot of work to do if she wanted him to look back fondly on it, but now she figured they had their entire lives ahead of them to make that happen. He had buried his face into her hair, probably not wanting to talk right now, so she just nuzzled into him, letting him enjoy the silence as he held her there.

The silence and just her warmth, it was comforting. It was exactly what he needed. After a few minutes, he felt like he could talk again. “I’m sorry…” He mumbled into her hair before he released her slowly. “That was a little sudden…Just…unpleasant thoughts.” Vanderwood gave her an apologetic smile and a soft kiss to her forehead. “You do whatever you want for my birthday…but I can’t promise you I’ll be in a good mood.”

Cerise shook her head and gave him an understanding smile. “Don’t worry, you know? We’re gonna make happy memories.” God help him if she forgot. Vanderwood internally winced at the idea, but Cerise wouldn’t forget…judging from how excited she had been…she wouldn’t forget. His hand found the side of her face, cupping her cheek as he had a tendency to do before he gave her a kiss, nice and slow, pulling away to kiss her nose. “Now…is my beautiful fiancée ready for her first lesson? I’m a little hungry.”

He didn’t really feel like talking about it right now, as much as he had promised her his honesty…it could wait. Those childhood memories were more painful than the stories of his scars and were overshadowed by Caleb’s death in ways that made him feel like he couldn’t breathe past the pain in his chest. It was strange; usually he’d never think about those memories, they were just locked up behind a wall of pain, but this memory, as painful as it was, it also felt good. His brother had loved him. Vanderwood bit his tongue to keep from turning into a mess again.

She didn’t think even in a million years she would get tired of his kisses. Each one never felt like the last, but all of them were enough to always take her breath away. “I’m so ready.” She hopped up off the couch and towards her kitchen at an incredible speed. Not only was she really hungry, but she was really eager to learn from him. Cerise turned around and motioned for him to follow. “Come on, slow poke! At this rate we’ll be celebrating my birthday before you get your butt over here.”

“Alright, I’m coming.” He snorted softly at her enthusiasm, that and her birthday was almost a full year away, and he couldn’t possibly be that slow, even injured. Vanderwood couldn’t help but smile like an idiot as he looked at her, thinking about just how much she meant to him. “Let me go get the groceries. Wash your hands while I’m gone…And maybe find me a hair-tie?” Cerise teasingly saluted him and found him the hair-tie he had asked for before washing her hands. They were going to be cooking, so she made sure to wash them extra well.

He had left the groceries in the car in his excitement to propose, so now he went to get them before entering her house again and placing them on an open space of counter. “Alright…so we’re making omelets with some vegetables, not too difficult and pretty healthy.” Cerise was drying off her hands when he reappeared back in the house with the groceries, nodding as he spoke. Omelets sounded pretty easy, and vegetables weren’t that scary either. She could totally impress him with how quickly she could pick this up. Eggs and vegetables were nothing. “That sounds delicious! I can’t wait~” Cerise handed him his hair-tie. “So, what’s first, Teach’?”

“I’m probably going to start by teaching you how to wash and cut the vegetables while I whisk up and cook the eggs.” Vanderwood chuckled at her enthusiasm. Cerise was a marvel to him sometimes. He put his hair up before looking her over. She had a Hell of a lot more hair than he did. Considering the mess she’d made the last time she cooked, it was probably better for her to have her hair up, too. “But…I think you should put your hair up first, too.”

He was not risking her lighting that on fire. Vanderwood loved her hair, more than he really cared to admit. “Oh, my hair too?” Cerise nodded and disappeared out of the kitchen and into her bedroom before returning with a thicker hair scrunchie and handing it to him. “You do it~” She didn’t give him a chance to answer before she turned around, shaking her hair out with her hands for a moment.

A light blush appeared on his face. He loved messing with her hair, really, so putting it up, as dumb as it sounded, it was a little on the intimate side, at least for him. “Alright then.” Such a simple task shouldn’t really make your chest feel warm and fuzzy should it? Vanderwood took the hair scrunchie and put it on his wrist as he gathered her hair up carefully before sliding the scrunchie from his wrist to around her hair, making sure to get it tight enough that it would stay but not so it would hurt her head.

He gave her a quick kiss to the top of her head then moved to grab some carrots and broccoli from his grocery bag, handing them to her. “Alright…so, first we get them out of the bags. Then we wash them off. The carrots will need peeling, but the broccoli just needs a good wash.” Vanderwood washed his hands quickly, leaving the water running to wash the veggies. “So…let’s wash the broccoli first, since that doesn’t need peeling.”

Cerise bounced in place excitedly as he talked before taking the broccoli from him. “You got it~” Easy stuff; she was practically a broccoli-washing pro! Cerise hummed excitedly to herself before turning the broccoli over. He watched her, shaking his head a little. Lord, she was in adorable form. At least he could trust her to wash broccoli, right? That wasn’t so hard.

Vanderwood had gone to open the bag of carrots, so they could wash those as soon as she got the broccoli cut up, and then his thoughts were violently interrupted when he was splashed with water. She had managed to somehow make the stalk fling water at the both of them, getting in her eyes. “Sorry!” Cerise apologized and rubbed her eyes. She didn’t know broccoli could be so…rubber-bandy and flingy. He looked over at her to see that, yup, somehow she had managed to mess up washing, but at least the broccoli was clean? He carefully took the broccoli from her and placed it on a cutting board, trying not to be bothered by the fact that there was a wet spot on his back. “That’s alright.” She really was rather clumsy.

Did he trust her with a knife? Vanderwood cut the stalk of the broccoli off himself before motioning for her to stand in front of him, demonstrating cutting the broccoli apart from the little cluster. He hadn’t expected her proximity to be a problem for him, but she was so close, and he needed to get away before problems arose, so to speak. Vanderwood did just that, shifting away from her directly after showing her how to cut the pieces apart. “So…just cut them away from the bigger portion while I wash the carrots.” She could get that, right?

“Yessir!” She answered with another salute, trying to ignore how close he had been to her. Cerise had cut things before. That shouldn’t be hard…At least she couldn’t get splashed. Except with blood once you manage to cut your finger off. Cerise froze. Whoa, what a terrible thought. She shook her head; she wouldn’t be cutting any appendages off today. Carefully, she did as he’d instructed and managed to successfully cut the florets away from the stalks without much of an issue. How in the world could she do that but not wash the goddamn thing correctly?

Vanderwood had started on washing the carrots, snorting at her salute. Thankfully, cooking was a good mind clearer, but he kept glancing at her to make sure she wasn’t cutting herself. Her voice got his attention. “I think I did this right.” As he looked over, his eyes widened. “Yeah, you did great. And no blood.” That was supposed to be an internal thought, but now it was out. “Um…I wasn’t expecting any.” He resisted the urge to rub the back of his neck, because then he’d just have to wash his hands again. “So…um…put that in a pot, and let’s wash and peel some carrots.”

Cerise couldn’t help but feel a little flush in her cheeks as he, apparently accidentally, pointed out the obvious. “It’s okay…I’m actually surprised too.” She confessed with a nervous laugh. That probably wasn’t reassuring at all, but there it was. Cerise deposited the broccoli into the designated pot. “Okay…carrots.” He seemed to be busy with washing them…which was fair considering how she had treated the broccoli, so she could just start on the peeling.

She grabbed the peeler and a carrot. He hadn’t really shown her how to do it, but it couldn’t be any harder than chopping broccoli. Vanderwood was surprised to see her grabbing the peeler already, apparently wanting him to wash the carrots while she peeled. Did she need to be shown how? Probably not…Holding the carrot, Cerise applied pressure with the peeler and peeled the top skin off. Well…it was more like half the carrot…which as she applied pressure to get the chunk of carrot off, suddenly shot across the room. Cerise just stared blankly and she watched the orange torpedo hit the wall and then the floor. Why? Why was she so bad at this?

He had been watching what she was doing, a little confused by how she was choosing to hold the carrot, but he wasn’t expecting the orange missile situation. Vanderwood just kind of stared at the carrot on the floor for a minute. “Um…let me help you with that.” He tossed the carrot, grabbing another, a little wary as he took her hands from behind her again. His head bent to lightly press a kiss to the spot just behind her ear, an easy task with her hair up, before he bit his tongue and returned to the task at hand.

No time for nonsense…Vanderwood took the carrot and placed it in her hand, showing her how to properly hold the damn thing, because apparently that was too difficult for her clumsiness, God, she was cute…and slightly terrifying. Cerise cooking could probably be weaponized. Vanderwood had to suppress a snort as well as control the little side of fear that gripped at him as he envisioned her shooting carrots at someone. He shook his head before he helped her peel a few lines off the carrot. “It can peel both ways, but I think you should peel in the direction away from your body…To be safe.” His concern for her safety was outweighing his concern for how close he was pressed to her like this.

For a moment, he seemed to be thinking, maybe in more reverent silence over what had happened to that poor carrot. Cerise was still having her own little moment of silence over that, quite frankly. It was becoming apparent to even herself just how bad at this she was. His comment about peeling away from herself for her own safety made her scrunch up her nose for a second before her face relaxed. “You know…that’s fair.” She peeled the carrot like he had shown her away from herself, and once she had started, she found it rather easy, as long as she held it correctly.

He stepped away to start on the eggs, but Vanderwood had found himself mostly watching her rather than dealing with the eggs out of worry. After the first carrot, it looked like she was doing okay. She managed not to maim any more defenseless carrots and successfully peeled the rest he had washed as he cracked the eggs into a pot for stirring together.

Cerise figured that cutting them was next as she finished, placing the peeler aside along with the final carrot. “Done with this part~” She sang out and went to go and grab her knife. Unfortunately, she had completely forgotten that she might not have peeled them over the trash can, causing her to slip on the orangey peels. The kitchen was not her friend. Cooking was not her friend. The Gods above obviously hated her.

He had snorted softly at her sing-song tone, having moved to place the eggs on the counter, and then he noticed her slipping. Vanderwood’s heart was in his throat as he reached out and grabbed her hand, pulling her into his arms successfully before she could hit the ground. Cerise had closed her eyes in preparation of hitting the floor, but it never came. She opened one eye to see that he had grabbed her before she could. It was a good thing she hadn’t managed to grab for the knife; that would have been a disaster. Vanderwood was about ready to curl up in a ball in the corner. The mess too…the carrot peels on the floor he hadn’t noticed out of concern for making sure she didn’t launch the carrots about the room.

Obviously, she simply wasn’t meant to cook. It was fate, clearly. Life had prepared him to be the housewife for her, because his future wife sure as Hell wasn’t one. He realized he was holding her rather tightly and let go slowly. “Are you alright?” When he finally let go, Cerise looked down to see what it was that made her slip. Yep. That figured. She knew she should have peeled the orange traitors over the trash can. Cerise looked back at him and blinked. “Yeah, I’m fine…”

Despite her saying so, he still felt the need to check her over, apparently. His hands went to her shoulders, moving down her arms and then to her waist and over her legs as he searched for any sign of injury, his face slowly turning redder. It was sweet how much he worried over her, even for super simple things. God, she was so clumsy…Maybe cooking would never be her thing. In theory, it seemed so simple, but she just was not able to pick it up. Maybe in time…who knew?

When he was done checking her over, she noticed that his face was at a new level of red. The touches were innocent, and she thought nothing of them, but the way his face was flushing only made hers match it, and she couldn’t help but to look down at her feet, letting her hair obscure her face again. Marion moved to press a soft kiss to her forehead, which didn’t make it easier. “I think you’ve learned enough for one day, shortcake…Please go sit down before I have a heart attack…”

Cerise wanted to argue with him, tell him that she wanted to stay in the kitchen and learn more, but he did have a point. If she stayed in there today, she was either going to kill herself or kill him in some ridiculous freak kitchen accident. She didn’t even blame him for shooing her away. Cerise stalked over to the couch and plopped down with a bounce, turning her head so she could watch him in the kitchen. It made her feel bad that she sucked at cooking so much that he basically had to do everything. Maybe she was just good at other things and hadn’t realized it? Cerise let out a sigh and pulled her phone out, stopping to glance at her ring. If she was going to be someone’s wife…his wife–shouldn’t she be better at these things? Some woman she was…but she didn’t think he was the type of person at all to ask her unless he was absolutely sure that she was what he wanted. She had time to learn things.

A smile played on her face as she opened the camera and took a selfie of herself with her ring in view, making sure to angle it to where Vanderwood could be seen cooking in the background. Cerise had her doubts about being a good wife, but she wasn’t going to let that dampen her excitement. She figured she must have added like fifty tags to that photo and surprisingly opted not to put stickers all over it. It was a great picture how it was and didn’t need any decorations–Cerise’s ring was decoration enough.

As expected, as soon as she uploaded the picture, her phone began to blow up with messages and notifications. She couldn’t help but giggle and read through the well wishes and congratulations. There were a few salty people, but she tended to ignore them. They were going to have a beautiful relationship, haters or no.

Vanderwood really wasn’t sure he could take more kitchen mishaps, focusing on taking care of the mess that was making his skin crawl before he could start cooking again. Occasionally, he peeked at her from his periphery. It looked like she was on her social media. A little smile crossed his face. How had he, a guy who had tried all his adult life to avoid having any online presence whatsoever, fallen in love with a woman who was virtually famous?

It struck him as incredibly ironic. On top of that, it was a bit dangerous, but…Cerise was the love of his life, and he wasn’t about to let any more danger come to her. It might show up at the doorstep, but he would take care of it. Vanderwood let the veggies cook while he worked on the omelets, adding a little cheese, which hopefully she liked. “Lunch is almost ready.” He looked at her there on the couch. That woman, that perfect little obstinate woman, was going to be his wife.

Cerise perked her head up at his announcement. No doubt if she had stayed in there, it would have taken ten times as long. This incredibly domestic setting made her feel warm and fuzzy inside. There were no issues to worry about, no secret threats to speak of. Cerise hopped back up off of the couch and made her way back to the kitchen, coming up behind him to wrap her arms around his torso as he’d turned around. It could have waited, sure, but she just really felt she needed to hug him right then.

Vanderwood was portioning the veggies onto the plates with the omelets when she wrapped her arms around him from behind. He hadn’t been expecting that at all, but his heart flipped in his chest, and his hands found hers as he hung his head and closed his eyes. It was such a simple little thing, just a hug, but he felt so happy, a moment of peace and quiet with his soulmate. His finger stroked lightly over her ring, the ring that said she was his wife to be. She felt him relax into her arms and they were able to share a quiet little moment. It was nice to just be near him, especially when they had recently spent so much time apart. Cerise decided she hated being apart from him and hoped that there was never another situation that he had to be away for so long, because his absence was definitely noticed.

How long did they stand there like that? It felt never ending, and maybe that’s just what it was like to be truly happy. Vanderwood gently moved her hands away to grab her plate and turn to hand it to her. “I love you, shortcake…I’m so glad you said yes.” He felt blush in his cheeks again, but that was just how today was going to be, it seemed. It was the best day of his life so far. “I love you, too.” A light blush dusted her cheeks. Marion sounded so soft and sincere, and it made her heart flutter. “I’m glad you asked me. ” Cerise shot him a smile before she was headed back to the couch with her omelet, waiting to start on it until he joined her. Not only had she gotten the cooking lesson she was promised today, but she’d gotten a proposal for something much better.

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Mystic Messenger Fanfiction | VanderwoodxOC Cerise – Tagged | High as a Kite

It was strange; she was lying down, but it felt like she was floating on the ocean, on a boat. Everything else around her was cloudy and hard to see.

***Just a couple days until my birthday, and here is your update for the week. Obviously, my birthweek has to be filled with Cherrywood goodness. There are going to be quite a few hidden scenes next week, but this week I deliver a hidden chapter to my patrons. It’s called ‘Preparations Apart,’ and is all about Vandy gettin that ring and there are shower selfies involved. ~Let’s Connect! FFC***

*Remember, this is a sequel to Vanderwood Backstory, and Cerise has a bio. You can support my writing on patreon and get access to my VIP Discord Server or other goodies like early chapter releases and hidden scenes.  Tagged Chapter Directory*

Cerise had been grocery shopping with her mother plenty of times, so it wasn’t something that was completely new to her. While walking to the store, she tried to think about stuff her mom would make. Her mother was such a good cook, and she regretted not learning anything from her now. Cerise would always brush her off whenever she offered, insisting that when she was on her own, she would just order food. She didn’t expect to ever want to cook for someone, to care for them. Looking back, Cerise felt that she was a total brat to her parents. Maybe she would call them soon, they were probably worried about her, since she hadn’t really been keeping in contact after the move.

Strangely, as much as she’d wanted to get away from them, she also found herself missing them a great deal. Apologizing to them was something that she was going to have to do, as much as she wasn’t looking forward to it. She realized now that they were just trying to raise her right…not that she’d turned out to be a particularly bad adult. Although, maybe if she’d paid attention more she would be a little more mature and put together.

Before she knew it, she had arrived at the grocery store. She had spent so much time thinking about what a little shit she had been to her parents that she had totally forgotten to formulate what she should get to cook. Cerise shrugged and just figured she’d figure it out along the way. Chicken was easy enough, right? All she had to do was put some spices on it and throw it in the oven. So easy! The sides would be the hardest. She shopped around and picked out anything that looked like it could go together. Some of the vegetables she had no idea even what they were, but she could probably make a pretty bomb soup thing if she just threw it all together. That’s how stew worked, right? Could you even serve that with chicken? Oh well, food was food.

Luckily, the store had a simple medicine section where she picked up some actual pain killers and hot/cold packs. They would probably be a lot more help to him than the stuff her parents had her keep around. When she was satisfied with what she had picked out, she went to the counter to pay for it. While the clerk was checking her out, she sent a quick text to him to let him know that she was okay and that she was about to head back.

In retrospect, she should have remembered that she had to walk back to her place. She struggled to carry all the bags, so it took probably twice as long to get back than it did to actually get there. Hopefully, that didn’t worry him too terribly much. He’d be okay once she got home, anyways.

After what seemed like forever, she arrived at her door and was somehow able to get it open. “I’m back!” She loudly proclaimed as she headed to the kitchen to dump off her supplies. Before she did anything, she dug into her bags to retrieve the medicine she’d bought and fixed a glass of water. “Here, I brought you something back. It should help you a lot more than the ginger tea.” Cerise gave him the bottle, so he could decide how much he needed. “I’m going to go start cooking~ Please relax!”

Vanderwood had laid on the couch trying not to be too anxious. He’d sent Seven out to do things before, and that had been lightly worrying but this was much different. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust her to be safe, he was just so used to being with her and couldn’t bear the thought of losing her. Was he just going insane? Now that she was home, the stress melted off him instantly. “Welcome back, mon amour.” The pills and water were a welcome relief, and that fuzzy feeling from her caring for him had him smiling. “Thank you.” He took the pills and downed the water, nodding at her request for him to relax.

Cerise wasted no time getting back to the kitchen, where she put the hot/cold packs in her freezer for him to use later. Where to start…? She figured that maybe she should start the chicken first, so she went to a labelled box in her kitchen and pulled out some spices that her parents had bought for her, since she had no clue what to get. Cerise opened a few of the bottles and sniffed them. Some were stronger than others, but in the end, they ended up tasting good on anything, right? She shrugged, and after prepping the chicken, she dumped various spices on it, not really reading the labels.

The packaging said, “giblets included”. What even were giblets? Must have been something special, she guessed. After turning her oven on, she popped the chicken in to cook. Wow, this was so easy already! Next, she chopped up some of the vegetables she had bought and threw them into a pot all together, adding water and some more spices. She remembered her mom putting something in stews to make them thicker…What was it? Flour? That had to be it. She added a generous amount of flour to the ‘stew’ and added the lid. So easy.

It wasn’t normal for Vanderwood not to be the one cooking. He’d been feeding himself and Seven for years. From the couch he watched her, furrowing his brows at what she was doing. Chicken and stew? She seemed a little unsure of herself, but surely, she knew what she was doing at least enough not to burn the house down. Vanderwood decided he needed to stretch and got up, doing just that, although very slowly and carefully. He made his way over to the kitchen. “I know you told me to relax, but I need to stand for a bit…” Vanderwood nuzzled the top of her head and gave it a quick kiss. “Would you mind if I helped just a little?” He just couldn’t help it, this was usually his job.

Cerise pouted, “Helping is not resting. I have this.” She made the motion to shoo him away. Things were going so well so far. It was nice that he wanted to help her, but all she really needed to do was stir the stew periodically. Being adorable wasn’t going to earn him any brownie points. As if the universe was trying to prove her wrong, smoke started to come from the oven. “What in the…” Cerise opened the door, and the chicken was literally on fire. She panicked and opened and closed the door a few times which only fanned the flames, making them flare up. Bad choice.

She was fussing at him, and he was about to open his mouth to fuss a bit back but then she was opening and closing the oven, fanning the flames inside. Vanderwood looked around for a fire extinguisher, but of course, there wasn’t one. He was quick to reach over and turn the oven off, moving her out of the way and holding the door closed. Making sure that the oven stayed closed would remove the oxygen it needed to keep the flames going.

At least he seemed to know what to do, so Cerise moved out of the way to let Marion do his thing. Now she looked towards the pot on top of the stove. The stew was still–nope. There was an ominous smoke coming from that, too. She groaned in frustration and picked the pot up by the handles to move it to another burner in hopes of keeping it from burning further. Cerise hadn’t realized that the lid wasn’t on very well, and it slid off onto her hand, causing her to yelp in pain and drop the pot onto the burner (which luckily didn’t spill much). She ran to the sink to run water over the angry redness on her hand. Okay…so maybe cooking was harder than she thought. Oh…and her oven was kinda on fire. Great.

He noticed almost immediately as he’d contained the flames inside of the stove, that Cerise had managed to burn herself with the lid of the pot. Shit fuck. Vanderwood couldn’t deal with the potential stew problem and help her, so the newest hazard came first. Now he turned off the stove top, using a cloth to push the pan away from the hot portion of the stove. He felt a little sick as he turned toward her where she was treating her burn by the sink. Seeing her in pain was not something he had any interest in. “Let me see, love…” Vanderwood carefully took her hand away from the water and examined the burn, hissing softly. It wasn’t horrible, but it definitely needed some treatment. His mind was too busy to notice any pain, and he was on painkillers, so now he moved, picking her up bridal style.

After she’d taken her hand from the water, she’d immediately felt an intense burning sensation. Marion seemed to know what he was doing, but he was still injured, and she wasn’t exactly pleased with him taking it upon himself to intervene right now. Cerise wanted to protest being picked up, but she ended up brushing the burn against something and hissed in pain. She felt terrible that he was so injured and fussing over something like a burn that she had stupidly brought upon herself. He set her on the couch. “Do not move.” He didn’t need her getting herself more hurt, pressing a long kiss to her forehead before going to his bag and rummaging for the first aid kit he had brought.

Vanderwood found what he needed quickly. He hadn’t brought up the kit earlier, since it was really only for emergencies, but this counted. After grabbing bandages and ointment, he walked back over to the couch and sat down on the floor in front of her, taking her hand again with a gentle touch. He gently brushed his lips over her fingertips, hoping to cheer her some. “How badly does it hurt?” The ointment should help some with that, but if it was bad enough, she’d probably need some painkillers, too.

“It hurts bad, but…” She leaned forward and kissed him, short and sweet, “I think I can manage thanks to you.” Cerise’s hand was hurting quite a bit, but she didn’t want to agitate Marion’s injuries by having him worry over her for something that was her fault. He was so much worse off than she was. If she could keep a happy face on, he wouldn’t notice. His hand tightened on her wrist for a moment, and she had to cover a wince, playing it off as a wink.

That little kiss was great, but as his hand tightened on her wrist, she seemed to attempt to hide a wince. He was getting frustrated and irritated, and she was lying to him about the pain. She hated pain, and he knew from experience that her tolerance for it was incredibly low. Well, he simply wasn’t going to let her play it off and was going to take care of her. Vanderwood bit his tongue to relax before taking the ointment and putting a generous amount on his fingers then applying it very carefully, not wanting to hurt her further. “This will numb some of the pain and make it easier to bandage.”

The bandage came on next over the ointment. He wrapped it slowly around her hand before tying it off and kissing the bandage over the burn. It was stupid, but it seemed like a good thing to do. His pain was starting to eat at him just a little from sitting in this position, but he needed to get up anyway and calculate a dosage of painkillers for her height and weight.

She didn’t know exactly why, but when he kissed the bandage, it made her flush hard. The gesture was so sweet that she felt like her heart was swelling up and threatening to explode into a million tiny pieces. He kissed her soon after, sliding his hand along her cheek, which she was thankful for. He wouldn’t have the chance to see right then how much of a mess she was at such a small gesture. He pulled away from her, and it left her heart beating much faster than normal…It almost made her forget about the pain on her hand.

After the kiss, which he’d needed…Well, he wasn’t sure why he’d needed it, but he just had, Vanderwood made his way to the kitchen with his empty glass to fill it with water, taking the bottle of pills she’d given him earlier with him. “Shortcake…I need your exact height and weight, so I can give you some pills.” Her fluttery and pleasant feeling was a little short lived when he asked his next question. “You want…what? I’m not telling you my weight.” Didn’t he know that was something you did not ask a woman? Cerise twisted her body away from him, frowning with a huff while she carefully crossed her arms to not disturb the bandage.

Vanderwood raised an eyebrow at her as she refused to tell him. What was wrong with her weight? She couldn’t be that underweight, her body seemed perfectly fine on that front. Maybe that wasn’t a good thing to be thinking about when she was irritating him. He loved this woman, but holy…he just needed her weight. Vanderwood sighed and put his hands on the counter, trying to just breathe.

Was it his imagination or was he even more needy for her when he was irritated now than he had been before they’d slept together? No…it wasn’t his imagination, so he’d need to be more careful. “Shortcake…I just need to give you some medication…If you don’t tell me, I’ll have to guess, and I might under-dose you.” He was bad at guessing weight, considering most weight felt like nothing to him to lift.

Cerise turned her head just a little bit, so she could see him out of the corner of her eye. He seemed kind of irritated? She shrugged and turned away again. “Marion.” she quipped back, “No. I’m not telling you my weight. I don’t want medicine.” To make her point clear, she turned towards him and stuck her tongue out before she turned back and went to typing something on her phone, wincing when she figured out that flexing her thumb hurt.

This was bad, terrible. How was she supposed to keep up with things if she couldn’t text right? Cerise groaned and pulled her knees up to her chest, hugging them while she rested her head on her knees. Maybe if she relaxed, the pain would go away. She thought briefly about drinking some of the ginger tea, but the thought of it made her stomach lurch. Cerise would rather suffer through it.

He bit his tongue. She was going to keep fighting him unless he found some sort of leverage. Vanderwood watched as she attempted to get on her phone, and that was the opening he needed. “If you want to be able to text, you’re going to need some meds.” If there was one thing that was more important to her than being stubborn, it was her social media.

“So, what’s it gonna be, Cerise.” Vanderwood repeated her name the way she’d said his with the tiniest of smirks. Damn it, she was attractive when she was fighting him, and it felt damn good to feel like you were winning. What he should really be focused on was getting her medicated. God, he really was an ass sometimes. He bit his tongue again.

She tensed up at his words. He did have a point…Her honey-colored eyes looked at her phone longingly, and then she turned her head towards him again, pouting. Her followers did need her, but at the same time, it was rude to ask her weight. Weren’t there directions on the bottle? She didn’t know. For whatever reason, her mom wouldn’t let her take normal medicine. She may have explained it once or twice, but honestly, Cerise hadn’t listened. Her mom was just kinda weird. “…Vanderjerk.”

Cerise mumbled before sighing and straightening herself up. “I’m…” She paused and looked him dead in the eyes, “…I’m five foot four and ninety-two pounds.” Cerise had given him her actual weight, but as for her height…there was no way she was going to admit how tall she was. He was so massive that maybe he wouldn’t notice. Everything looked small to him. Who really wanted to admit that they were just under five feet tall?

Okay, the 92 pounds he could believe, but her height was an outright lie. Vanderwood was really trying to breathe, not wanting to listen to the little voice that was nagging in his head that he needed some sort of something to calm down. This really wasn’t so bad; she wasn’t that irritating. It was probably just the combination of dealing with the stress of the fire as well as his injuries that was making it worse. “You’re lying to me about your height.” He said it as a simple statement, choosing to believe her on her weight, because he really didn’t want more fuss. With her alcohol tolerance, she probably had plenty of tolerance for this, too, and that gave him a little bit of leeway.

Crap. He caught her…of course he would. He was a friggin’ secret agent, and he wasn’t at all stupid. Too stupidly good looking for his own good…but not dumb. Telling him something wrong again would probably only serve to irritate him further, and as much as that amused her, it probably wasn’t a good idea while he was still trying to recover. Besides, she really wanted to be able to use her phone like normal.

Medicine was supposed to help…right? Cerise kept her eyes on Marion, silently challenging him and still pouting. Maybe he would just drop it. They stayed like that for about a minute, but Marion’s gaze never wavered. Damn, he was really good at this… Finally, Cerise lowered her eyes to the side and mumbled, “…I’m four foot eleven.”

She was really attempting to stare him down. His tiny, injured girlfriend was attempting to stare him down. Vanderwood nearly felt blush rising into his cheeks as he’d met her gaze but kept his eyes on her. Not now. He had to get her some medicine. That pout…He wanted to kiss it right off of her. Jesus, her reply was more than welcome, although he had to suppress a snort. So, she was even shorter than he’d thought. After a pause, he nodded. “Okay. Four foot eleven and 92 pounds.”

Vanderwood checked the back of the pill bottle for exact dosage on each pill before deciding to give her one and a half. That should do it for her, just to the point where she could move her hand without extreme pain. He didn’t want her too numb, or she might hurt it more, but she’d at least be able to text. Vanderwood took the glass and the pill dosage and brought it to her. “Here you are, Cerise.” As she took it, he looked towards the kitchen and the mess that would need to be cleaned up. “Do you have a hair tie I could borrow?” Generally, he liked to clean with his hair up, that way he didn’t have to push it back and end up getting it wet or getting cleaner in it, which was a pain.

She took the glass and medicine from him, “Thanks, Marion.” Cerise stared at the pills. She was supposed to swallow these things without choking? Cerise was about to try when he had asked her for a hair tie. “Yeah…hold on.” She got up and disappeared into her bathroom for a second before returning with one, and instead of just handing it to him, she stretched it and shot it at him. It would have been funny, but she forgot about her hand, which now throbbed in pain…yeah. The medicine was going to be needed.

Vanderwood was caught off guard by her shooting the hair tie at him, but it just hit him in the arm and he bent to pick it up, peeking over at her to see her nursing her hand. His stomach turned a little. He really didn’t like to see her in pain. It seemed every time he did, it was his fault, too. Cerise grabbed the pills again and examined them. You can do it… She gave herself a small pep talk before throwing them in her mouth and taking a big swig of water. Cerise was happy that she didn’t choke. It would probably take a little while to kick in, so she settled on watching whatever her boyfriend was currently doing.

He’d stayed bent as he put his hair up before standing back up properly and tightening the tie, so it would stay. Thankfully, the pills were working really well for him, so he would be able to handle the cleaning, but obviously she wouldn’t have anything else to cook, so he’d have to figure out how to order something. Vanderwood absentmindedly ran his fingers over the tattoo on the back of his neck, the familiar feeling of the raised serial number and his last name not really comforting but just something he tended to do whenever his hair was up.

After some searching, he managed to find an app where he could order pizza, and he just got a cheese, since he didn’t know what else to do. It was going to take a good bit of work to exercise all that crap off after he recovered properly, but it was better than either of them cooking right now. Vanderwood looked over at Cerise to double check that she’d taken the pills. “Those should kick in pretty quickly.” He raised an eyebrow at the way she seemed to be zoning out. What was up with that?

Cerise had been so totally mesmerized by him putting up his hair that she didn’t hear what he had said. She had just been blankly staring at him for who knows how long. “Oh uhh…yeah.” That seemed like the right thing to say, and now he was putting his phone away, going into the kitchen and starting on cleaning the pot. When he turned around, he’d given her a glimpse of a tattoo she had never seen before on the back of his neck. It made sense, since Vanderwood always had his hair down.

Somehow, the unfamiliar sight of him having his hair up made her heart beat just a little faster as pink dusted her cheeks. This man was gorgeous. Cerise was rudely interrupted from her thoughts by a rather painful stomach cramp followed by a few smaller ones. It wasn’t a big deal; she decided that it was probably because she hadn’t eaten anything that her stomach was upset. She looked towards him to watch him clean. Was it just her or was it getting a little harder to focus…? It was probably just her hunger speaking. “Sorry I…kinda ruined dinner.”

Vanderwood could feel her eyes on him as he cleaned and turned his head to look at her as she spoke. His girlfriend was a little odd sometimes, but he loved her tremendously. “Don’t worry about it, shortcake. I ordered some pizza. Never cooked before?” Her face had that hint of blush, and that caused one of his own.

When he said he had ordered pizza, it was like music to her ears. She was familiar with pizza. Pizza was safe and didn’t spontaneously combust. “I…no. Not really…” Cerise liked to pretend that she was a good cook, though. She would take pictures of her mom’s dishes and put them up on her instafram, cleverly omitting that it wasn’t actually her who’d cooked it.

She was still looking at him funny, and Vanderwood furrowed his brows. “Is…something wrong?” Her stomach was still cramping up, and she was beginning to feel nauseated. “No, I think I’m just hungry. I’m gonna…lay down here for a sec.” Cerise straightened herself out to lay on the couch, staring at the ceiling as she rubbed the area over her stomach that hurt. Hopefully, the pizza would be there soon.

He still had his brows furrowed as he watched her. Was something up with her? Vanderwood sighed and busied himself with cleaning, hoping the pizza would get there sooner rather than later, so that she could get some food. Her pills weren’t necessary to be taken with food, but it would probably help. After a while, he managed to clean out the pot and moved on to the oven, setting off the smoke alarm as the leftover smoke billowed out. Vanderwood coughed and reached up to press the button to turn off the alarm.

“Sorry about that shortcake.” Cerise couldn’t be bothered to react to the smoke alarm or his voice. She was feeling woozy, and it was like her mind was wandering off into weird places. Cerise thought for a second that she was feeling incredibly happy, but she didn’t know why. It was strange; she was lying down, but it felt like she was floating on the ocean, on a boat. Everything else around her was cloudy and hard to see.

Vanderwood was caught up in what he was doing, going back to cleaning out the stove, his arms ending up covered in black. The doorbell rang, and he figured that must be the pizza. His eyes traveled to where she was lying. He wasn’t about to make her get it, not with how zoned out with apparent hunger she was. The pizza boy looked at him strangely as his eyes saw the black all over his arms and hands. Vanderwood just tipped the kid and took the pizza with before closing the door and setting the pizza on the side of the couch.

He certainly couldn’t sit down and eat with her until he got this black muck off his arms, his skin already crawling. “Gimme a second to clean up. You just eat, alright?” To his announcement to eat, she just gave him a non-committal “Hnnn” as she continued to lay there, unmoving and staring at the ceiling. What was up with her? She was just lying there. Had she tired herself out? Probably…with the stress he could certainly believe it.

It was quick work as Vanderwood washed off his arms and hands before walking over to the couch, she was short enough that all he had to do was pick up her feet and pop them on his lap. “Want me to hand you a slice, or?” Was she basically gone to the world, or was it just his imagination? She really had gotten tired out. Considering nearly lighting the house on fire and getting burned, it wasn’t so surprising.

Cerise gave him the same answer as earlier. It kind of seemed like the ceiling was getting closer and closer, but she couldn’t bring herself to move. She couldn’t really bring herself to care about anything at the moment, so let the ceiling crush her. As she turned her head slightly, she could see the wall coming at her, too. Oh good, she was going to be crushed from all four sides. Cerise shrugged and turned to stare at the ceiling again. That bastard. She’d find a way to get her revenge if it smushed her. Cerise reached up to swat at the ceiling to see how close it was now. She couldn’t feel it. Oh well.

Vanderwood was so confused. Why the Hell was she acting like that? He bit his tongue, and then it slowly dawned on him. He’d calculated for her height and weight, and he really doubted she’d lied to him, but she was high as a kite. Vanderwood’s heart slammed hard in his chest as he moved to pick her up and place her in his lap carefully, looking into her eyes to see dilated pupils. High as a fucking kite.

Oh. Now she was moving on her own. How strange. “Shortcake…what day is it?” She tried to focus in on what was being said, the voice that said it. It was…It was Marion. God…What had she done now? Instead of an actual answer to his question about the day, all he got from her was a, “Yes”. Vanderwood was realizing that her tolerance for meds was clearly nothing like her tolerance for alcohol. Why hadn’t she told him? She felt limp and heavy in his arms as he held her, and panic set in hard.

That heavy feeling…it wasn’t quite like Caleb’s body had been, but…he’d gotten his girlfriend high. Vanderwood needed to get some food and water in her fast. He fumbled with the pizza box, so worried that he couldn’t quite think straight. Vanderwood bit his tongue. If he was going to take care of her, he needed to be calm. After a slow breath, he managed to get his hands on some pizza. “I’m going to feed you, okay, Cerise?” There was more talking, but she couldn’t zero in on it. It was like her mind was taking a vacation, hidden somewhere deep, dark, and unreachable. What she did know was that she was hearing Marion’s voice. It was soothing. The best voice.

He cradled her carefully in one arm as he brought the pizza to her lips. “Here you go, shortcake, open up.” Vanderwood nuzzled her gently, feeling like he was about to start crying for the second time that day. What if when she came out of this she decided she liked it? No…Cerise wasn’t like that. He couldn’t let himself think like that. She wasn’t like that. Why was he even thinking like that? His arm tightened around her as he managed to get her to eat the pizza. “Let’s get you some water…” He didn’t want to put her down, but he had to, so he laid her down on the couch and went to get the water. “Don’t move darling…” If she even could move.

So, she guessed she was eating now. What was it…? Pizza? That’s what it tasted like. Oh, right…Marion. He said something about pizza. She was happy to eat it, though it felt like she was doing so way too slowly for her liking. It didn’t matter, she was done now, and the ceiling was coming for her again. Cerise closed her eyes and anticipated its arrival. Goodbye, cruel world.

Vanderwood laid her back down on the couch before he went to get her the water, trying hard not to let his anxiety over the current situation overtake him. His muscles were starting to grow tense, making the soreness reappear despite the pills he was on. How did he always manage to cause terrible things to happen to her? The person he loved most in the world was cursed by him. He brought the water back to her, sitting on the floor as he helped her to drink it, stroking her hair softly and kissing her forehead.

“Everything’s going to be okay ma moitié.” Was he telling her or himself? He didn’t know at this point. “Everything…okay.” She repeated and leaned against him with her eyes closed. Cerise felt incredibly heavy and tired. Her limbs might as well have been lead, and her brain felt scrambled. A nap is what she needed. After a minute or two, she was out like a light, sleeping off the rest of the high.

He sat there on the floor next to the couch as she slept, stroking her hair and humming softly. What else was he supposed to do? Vanderwood felt useless, a feeling he’d only become more familiar with now that she was around. “Je’taime…” He kissed the side of her head softly. To pass the time, he started telling her stories. Obviously, she was asleep, but what the Hell else could he do?

Vanderwood talked about the pranks Caleb used to pull and then about meeting Seven for the first time and how difficult it had been when he’d started acting like Caleb. It was a good way to pass the time, he thought. He followed that up by telling her about how much he loved her, telling her everything, that he wanted to marry her and keep her by his side forever, even though he wasn’t sure he deserved to have her anymore. Did it seem like she was finally waking up? Good…

Cerise stirred from her nap, bringing her hands up to rub her eyes before she sat up and stretched her arms out. Man, she must have been pretty tired to have fallen asleep like that. She opened her eyes and searched the room, finding her boyfriend sitting on the floor beside the couch. That was…confusing a bit. “Hey, dummy…there’s like an entire couch here. Why would you sit on the floor with your injured butt?” Cerise poked at him as she talked. She felt like she had a headache and remembered her stomach cramping up. That must have been why she had lied down in the first place.

Wonderful as ever. Vanderwood snorted, at least she seemed back to herself. “I was taking care of you. You didn’t tell me your tolerance for meds was so low. I…got you high….How do you feel?” Come to think of it, his ass and leg really were hurting now, as well as the rest of him. His meds had worn off, too. Mostly, he was just panicking that she’d say something along the lines of ‘Can I have some more?’ That was such a stupid thought, but it wasn’t one he could help. His tongue was even sore at this point from all the biting. So far, she didn’t seem to remember much, at least.

Her face scrunched up. He was taking care of her? She got high? Off of that amount of pain medicine…Did that explain the grogginess and headache? Now that she thought about it…”I’m fine, but…maybe that’s what my mom was talking about when she told me not to take medicine. I just kinda thought she was a freak.” Cerise scooted over and patted the couch for him to sit next to her and–Oh my God, was that pizza? She hopped up and grabbed some before sitting back down and happily munching on it, despite the fact that it was somewhat cold.

Vanderwood groaned and rubbed his face. The relief that she was okay and didn’t remember much had only helped so much to loosen the tenseness in his body. Looking at her now, he wanted to pull her against him and take what he needed. That made him sick. Cerise was so much more than that, along with the fact that she was in no state for that herself either. Vanderwood pushed off from his place on the floor, removing the hair tie from his hair now and shaking it out. Maybe he should go for a run…No…He wasn’t physically capable of that right now. He agitatedly flopped down onto the couch. Vanderwood still hadn’t eaten, but right now he didn’t care. He needed to calm down, figure out what was going on with his head.

Cerise glanced at him from the corner of her eye. Was he…annoyed? She got back up and grabbed some more pizza, handing it to him. Maybe he just needed to eat. She was feeling quite guilty about the whole thing, though. Really, she should have listened to her mother more instead of regarding her words as not being valuable. There was obviously more there than just her being an overprotective mother, and Cerise felt terrible that she had just brushed her off. “Hey,” She started before scooting a little closer and putting a hand on his arm. “I’m sorry if I worried you. I honestly didn’t remember…”

He took a deep breath as she touched him before he let it out, staring up at the ceiling. “You don’t need to be sorry for anything, Cerise. I do.” Vanderwood took a bite of the slice of pizza she’d given him. He wouldn’t have bothered if she hadn’t handed it to him, but he might as well not further be an ass than he already was. He was really great at being an ass when he was like this. Vanderwood closed his eyes. “I’m sorry…I’m tired and injured and just overall stressed right now…” To anyone else he would have said nothing, but Cerise wasn’t just anyone.

She couldn’t help but feel that a lot of the reason he was stressed was because of her. If she had just remembered, if she hadn’t almost set her kitchen on fire or burned herself…It was her fault no matter what he tried to say. Cerise got up and went to the kitchen to pull out the ice packs she had put in there hours before and walked back over to him. Vanderwood watched her, trying not to think how nice her legs looked, how beautiful she looked under him with her hair spilling around her. He bit his tongue even with the pizza still in his mouth. That wasn’t even a possibility with how much pain he was in, but it was still completely not okay to be thinking about under the circumstances. She handed him some ice packs, and his heart just melted to mush. “This should help with the more serious spots…right?”

Why did she have to be taking care of him while he was thinking like this? While he was constantly causing her pain? She sat back down and gently leaned against his shoulder, nuzzling into it slightly. “If there’s anything I can do or get for you…please just ask. I want you to rest. Don’t hesitate to call me for even the smallest of things. ” To make a point, she pointed ahead to a picture she had hung above her TV. “For instance, if you told me to go and fix that frame because it was just slightly crooked and was annoying you, I’d totally do it. Just ask.”

“You’re too good to me.” And for me. He turned his head to nuzzle her hair, breathing in her heavenly scent. Cerise…Could he even let her go for her own good? Losing her wasn’t on his list of things he ever wanted to do, but he did want to protect her. She grinned at him and nuzzled into him more. Being near him and having contact with him made her feel completely relaxed and at ease, like nothing was missing from her life. “Just think…I’ll be even better once I learn to cook!” Cerise giggled and leaned up to press a small kiss to his cheek. “Just you wait~ I’ll make the most awesome thing and it’ll make you completely forget about the time I set the kitchen on fire!”

Why did she have to be so incredibly perfect? “Cerise…” His heart was floundering, and he didn’t even know what to do with the thoughts in his head. Cerise felt like maybe something was a little…off with him. Maybe it was the stress or something on his mind. She didn’t want to pry…well, she did want to pry, but she decided that since he said he would try to be more open with her, he’d come to her eventually with whatever it was that was bugging him. She’d just have to play the waiting game for a bit.

A portion of him was melting right into her, relaxing to her presence, another was panicking that he couldn’t stay with her, that he would hurt her, and the final portion wanted him to…Vanderwood slid a hand along her cheek, down to hold her chin and kissed her deeply. The warmth of his hand on her cheek and then her chin as she anticipated his kiss spread throughout her entire being, and it made her heart swell with love and adoration for this man. He could have had literally anyone of his choosing, yet here he was kissing her, staying with her.

He’d put behind his old habits, so he could be with her. There was no doubt in her mind that he was still struggling with it somewhat. She imagined how it would be if suddenly her social media was taken away from her. When she thought about it from that perspective…she felt so proud of him. He was doing so well and had gotten so far. Cerise put as much effort into their kiss as he had–she liked to think she was getting the hang of it.

Her lips and her love were what he had needed right now, even though his brain might be saying he needed other things too. Those parts, he was completely ignoring. They would need to talk, but right now, this was what he needed to truly relax, her in his arms, her lips against his. He pulled away slowly, locking eyes with her, his own probably showing some of his desire, desires that would go unfulfilled tonight, but also that unmistakable devotion.  Just that kiss had left her breathless when he pulled away.  As much as she wanted to continue, to go farther, she knew they couldn’t. Judging by the look in his eyes, he felt the same way.

There was something else, too…it made happy to see it. It was such an intense gaze of so many emotions, that she wanted to etch it into her memory forever. She had no doubt that he could easily read her eyes, not only was he trained, but she wasn’t exactly a closed book. Her love, adoration for him, her desire…she was sure that he could see it all. His breath hitched just looking at her, his Cerise. “I’m sure I’ll forget before long…” Cerise couldn’t help but smile at him. “You probably will. Knowing my luck, I’ll probably end up doing something a lot more stupid.”

His heart clenched hard again. “Well…I’ll have to teach you to cook, for sure.” Should he really be planning long-term things with her right now? Vanderwood sighed and kissed the top of her head before moving the ice packs she’d given him around. They really were helping, and she was relaxing him slowly, even with that anxiety still there under the surface. Cerise was amazing like that. “I uh…Cerise…how’s your burn?” It was getting hard not to just blurt out his thoughts as they plagued him. Cerise blinked and brought her hand up to examine it. She flexed her fingers a bit, and while it still hurt, it wasn’t as bad as it initially was. “It’s okay, it doesn’t hurt that bad anymore. I think I’ll live, Dr. Vanderwood, sir!” She joked with a laugh. “How are you doing, though?”

A smile broke the dreary look he’d had on his face. “I like that name…” Her next question had him internally battling with himself again, though, but what was he going to do? Let his anxiety fester? He’d promised to tell her things. “Physically…I’m just really sore…Cerise I….” His chest felt heavy. “I keep hurting you…Even when you’re with me, I can’t keep you safe.” Vanderwood pushed his bangs back, trying to bite down some of the anxiety, so he could get his thoughts out.

“I’m not good for you. It’s dangerous for you to be with me…and I should let you go…” There was so much pressure in his chest; it was unfamiliar to him. Just how much was this supposed to hurt? What would he do without the only happiness in his life? Could he even manage to let her go for her own safety? He wanted to be with her forever, wanted to marry her, grow old together…Maybe they could even start a family…maybe….She was light and life and breath to him now, taking that away, could he even survive it?

Cerise furrowed her brows as she listened to him. Was he…was he really telling her this? She could feel the anger and sadness bubbling up inside of her and tried to push it back down. He was coming to her with his feelings, after all. It wouldn’t do to get angry at him for that. Still, it was hard to manage when these words were leaving his lips so easily. “Don’t you think…that maybe I should have a say in that?” She spoke slowly and concisely. “If I wanted to leave…if I thought that you were a danger to me…I would have left a long time ago. I would have tried to escape.”

Her hands grabbed at the cloth of her skirt, bunching the bottom of the fabric in her fists. She was trying so hard to remain calm, to not cry or go off on him. “I really…I don’t give a damn whether or not you think you’re good for me. That’s my decision to make.” Cerise let out a careful breath, trying to control her breathing. “I want to be with you. Ever since you came into my life, I felt like everything was right. There’s been some missteps along the way, sure, and there’s probably going to be plenty more. Don’t you think…it makes life kind of exciting? Worth living? How boring would it be if nothing ever went wrong?”

She was angry, hurt, and he couldn’t blame her. Vanderwood watched her as he always did, the pain in his chest not helped by the fact that he was hurting her again. But what she was saying to him, it made sense…It really did make sense, but could getting stabbed by a psycho killer really be just called a misstep?  He mulled over how to respond. It was new to him, discussing your feelings, and no wonder he hadn’t done it before, because it was damn difficult and painful.

“You make life worth living.” It was true, he’d just been going through the motions for years. He couldn’t even remember a time that he was truly happy since Caleb’s death, not until he found Cerise. “And I can’t go back to living without you. That is a fact, but it doesn’t make it any easier knowing the way that I’ll hurt you over and over again.” She tried to remain silent as her grip on her skirt loosened. He was finally spilling out his feelings to her, truly opening up. Marion looked troubled, but at least he was letting it out. Cerise couldn’t understand completely how he felt, he had had a much tougher time in life than she had. All she could do was listen and be there for him, but what she did know was that she couldn’t go back to living without him either.

Words started to just spill over, but he let them. “I’ve never been so happy in my life. I haven’t genuinely smiled or laughed in 8 years, and then you….You mean everything to me…I just want to protect you, Cerise…and I want to be with you. Then…seeing you high…knowing I did that…seeing…essentially thinking I was going to be finding your body like I found Caleb’s…I just…I’m panicking.” And there it was, the real reason he would even try to process the thought of leaving her.

Finally, he’d gotten to the actual reason he was freaking out so badly. He was worried that he was going to lose her like he had lost his brother. “Marion…” Her body moved almost automatically to embrace him, holding him while she stroked his hair. “We live, and we learn…That wasn’t your fault. You couldn’t have known. The important thing is that we know now, so it won’t have to happen again…” Cerise held on to him a little tighter, but not tight enough to disturb his injuries. “I promise you, I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to stay right here by your side for as long as you’ll let me.”

She was holding him now, stroking his hair and instinctively he pulled her closer. “I never want to lose you…” The thought of it tore him up inside. How could he have even thought of letting her go? Hell, she wasn’t even going to let him. Vanderwood felt the burning of tears in his eyes again, but he just nuzzled into her hair. “Stay with me. I want you to stay with me.” How had she done that? Twice in one day now she’d taken his pain and made it bearable, gotten him through it rather than letting him pull a band-aid over it and pretend it didn’t exist.

He didn’t even need to ask her to stay with him; even if he pushed her away, she would keep trying. She was stubborn like that. “Yes, always. ” Cerise couldn’t imagine herself being with anyone else, being a serial dater like her friends had been. This was someone she wanted to hold on to and never let go of. She didn’t care how damaged he was, how moody he could be, because she loved all of him, the good and the bad. Cerise knew she had her moments too. She wasn’t exactly the picture of maturity, but he accepted her and loved her anyways. They needed each other, there was no mistake.

“Cerise…” He found her lips with his, skirting the edge of danger somewhat with how needy for her he felt, but she had relaxed him to the point where he thought he could trust himself. The kiss was long, slow, and unmistakably hungry for her affection and presence. Vanderwood felt he was meant to be with her, there was no other explanation for the way she made him feel. Even his kiss told her how much he needed and wanted her by his side. She responded by pouring her feelings into it, her love and affection for him. Cerise kept her arms wrapped gently around him, holding him while they shared their affection for one another.

Marion broke the kiss, looking into her honey colored eyes once again. “Je’taime, Cerise…I don’t think I can be without you.” His soft brown eyes were filled with a kind of reverence, leaving her breathless for the second time. She leaned her forehead against his and smiled. “I know that I can’t be without you, Marion. I’m never going anywhere. Je t’aime aussi. ”

The overwhelming urge to ask her to marry him right now flooded him. No. He was going to wait…He had to wait, but from the way she spoke, Vanderwood somehow knew she would say yes, without a single care for how early it was in their relationship. She would say yes. Now he was a mess in a whole lot of ways. Vanderwood wanted her, to hold her and never let go and to make love to her.

At least it had calmed from the rough and needy desire from earlier, but it was still a hard pill to swallow that that’s what he wanted right now for one and for two that he couldn’t. Vanderwood closed his eyes, enjoying the feeling of her forehead against his. “Good…I won’t go anywhere either…I belong with you.” He wasn’t looking forward to being apart from her for another day, not after what had happened today.

She was extremely happy that he was listening to her, that he wanted to be with her as much as she wanted to be with him. “Good.” Cerise repeated after him. “And I belong with you, ma moitié.” She literally felt like he was her other half, the person written in the stars for her. Cerise closed her eyes, too, just enjoying the feeling of his presence. All her life, she’d heard stories of women who spent forever looking for their one and only, and she was so thankful that, despite the circumstances in which they met, they had just kind of stumbled upon each other. Fate had plans for them both, it seemed. She wouldn’t change any of it for the world.

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Mystic Messenger Fanfiction | VanderwoodxOC Cerise – Tagged | Back Home

Her honey-gold eyes scanned the area she was in. The place was mostly unpacked and neat, but it felt really weird being there again. This was all of her stuff but in a place she was unfamiliar with. A lot had happened since she’d last seen this place, but she wouldn’t have changed any of it, even if she had the power to.

***Apologies for the late post today! It *is* still Wednesday, barely, but my friend came to Texas today all the way from California, so it’s been a bit of a hectic day. Pray forgive me! Check out this amazing gif by our official artist @chaoticstarblossoms on tumblr to help get your forgiveness juices flowing. ~Let’s Connect! FFC***

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*Remember, this is a sequel to Vanderwood Backstory, and Cerise has a bio. You can support my writing on patreon and get access to my VIP Discord Server or other goodies like early chapter releases and hidden scenes.  Tagged Chapter Directory*

As Vanderwood pulled back onto the road, he couldn’t help but marvel at Cerise. From the way she made him feel to the way she could get the truth out of him and help him deal with the pain, it amazed him. It would amaze him for the rest of his life. He parked close to her apartment, walking around to help her out before grabbing the bags, wincing as he tossed them over his right shoulder, having forgotten about the bruising there.

Cerise felt bad that Marion was still carrying her stuff around, knowing that he was still in pain and noticing the wince. It was too bad he hadn’t given her much of a chance to grab them, but at least they’d be inside the house soon. She realized pretty quickly upon arriving at her door that…there was going to be a slight problem with the lock.

“I didn’t have a chance to get my keys before everything. ” Cerise turned to look at him over her shoulder. “Is there any awesome secret agent stuff you can do to unlock it? That won’t hurt you more?” She added on the last part, not wanting him busting the door down or anything. The more she thought about it, the more she had to wonder…was it even safe in there? It had to be if his employers had been there, right? Cerise honestly didn’t know much about who Marion worked for, maybe it was better that she didn’t try. If there was anything they had to worry about, she was sure he’d bring it up.

Vanderwood set the bags on the ground lightly, kissing her forehead. “Just a moment.” It was a pretty easy feat for him to pick a lock and leaving evidence of that didn’t really matter anymore. As usual with a break in, the lock would have been replaced with an exact copy, just missing the telltale scraping from lockpicking. The inside would be clean too, no sign of any struggle. Hell, her bed would probably even be made.

His hand settled over the doorknob just to test what kind it was, and that’s when he felt that tiny bit of resistance that said a string was attached. Vanderwood’s eyebrow twitched, a dark feeling coming up in his chest. The fucking cleanup crew had set up a booby trap, probably meant to capture Cerise and question her.

“Fucking asshats.” He muttered softly as he got something from his jacket pocket which he used one, to very carefully pick the lock and two, to carefully push the door pin in, so all he had to do was slowly push the door open to keep from turning the door knob. It would have snapped the string otherwise.

Cerise watched in awe as he went to work on the door. She couldn’t help but to think that it was actually really cool…like the secret agent stuff you would see on the TV. She hovered around him, watching what he was doing from different angles, intrigued. Cerise definitely wasn’t a fan, though, of whatever it was that they hooked up to her apartment which she could see now, peering in under his arm.

Once the door was open, they’d been greeted with the sight of a hooked-up tranquilizer shooter, which he immediately went to and took down. “Sorry, shortcake. Apparently, the cleanup crew didn’t think I’d be letting you back in here.” Vanderwood found the camera that would have activated as well and turned that off, too. “Apparently.” Cerise was glad that her boyfriend was good at his job, otherwise they would have had to deal with that whole mess. “Do you think the rest of the apartment is okay?”

It was pissing him off a good bit, worrying what they would have done about it if Cerise had come back here on her own. Then again, he’d told them that she had been moved to a secure hospital after being assaulted and had covered it up with hospital records from somewhere to make it appear as though she’d never even seen him. It was better that way. However, that was an even better reason for them not to have rigged the place like this. “Let me check.”

He took his time, looking in every nook and cranny and testing all her locks and windows while he was at it. No one was going to hurt Cerise. If he had anything to say about it, he would always be by her side, but he already couldn’t guarantee that. In fact, by this time tomorrow they would probably be apart. His heart felt a twinge.

Vanderwood didn’t like being apart from her for even a moment, but it was probably best for them both, just so he could finish recovering and she could settle into her place. This way he would have time to get her ring too. The thought was a little nerve-wracking, because he was really going to ask her to marry him at some point, but it was better for now if he kept his focus on checking for any other boobytraps.

Cerise had decided it was best to just stay in one place while he checked her apartment. She didn’t want to accidentally trigger anything that might have been hidden, and she wasn’t trained to look for it herself. Her honey-gold eyes scanned the area she was in. The place was mostly unpacked and neat, but it felt really weird being there again. This was all of her stuff but in a place she was unfamiliar with. A lot had happened since she’d last seen this place, but she wouldn’t have changed any of it, even if she had the power to. The time she had spent away had been precious, the good and the bad. Absentmindedly she let her fingers touch where her wound was. Even the bad things had their purpose.

Once he’d finished looking around the apartment, Vanderwood felt rather sore and needed to just sit, finding a place on her couch and lying down, stretching across it and holding his arm out to indicate he wanted her to snuggle in. “You’re safe. Now I want to hold you close.” The comment had blush rising in his cheeks. Vanderwood wanted to hold her and never let go, and that cheesiness was probably what kept those awkward words falling out of his mouth all the time.

She was pulled away from her thoughts when he spoke up, taking one more look around and then walking over to where he was, a blush dusting her own cheeks. “You know…I’m gonna have to find another nickname besides Vanderjerk for you if you continue to be sweet like this. ” With a smile playing on her lips, she took him up on his offer and settled into his arms, snuggling up close to him. “…Vandercute? Naah…doesn’t have the same ring to it. Hmm…” Cerise spent the next few minutes coming up with various silly potential nicknames for him that played on his last name. “Y’know….I actually don’t think I can top Vanderjerk.” That was the conclusion she came to with a small giggle.

He’d snorted at her little game, the blush on his face not getting any lighter any time soon. “You can call me whatever you want, shortcake. Just stay with me forever.” Was he getting cheesier the more he was around her? It seemed like it, but he was starting not to mind. Vanderwood shifted just a little to get more comfortable, managing to keep a soft grunt at bay when he moved in a way that made his stomach muscles clench up painfully. He sighed and nuzzled her hair. Injuries were always the worst time for him. Especially now when he was with her and wanted to give her the world, make her feel safe after all the shit they’d been through.

Cerise couldn’t stop her blush from increasing tenfold. Forever was a long time…did he know how much those words made her heart leap from her chest? “Don’t worry…I’m not going anywhere.” It made her nose scrunch up a little as he’d moved and tensed. Cerise knew he was still in some pain…How could he not be? She tried to rub his side comfortingly while snuggled up to him, hopefully it didn’t hurt. “…Are you okay?”

When she rubbed his side, he closed his eyes. It felt surprisingly soothing. No one had really done that for him before. “Yeah…I’ll be okay. I am okay, now that I’m with you again.” His hand cupped her cheek gently, stroking with his thumb. “Thank you for worrying for me.” Those words had come unbidden, but he really was thankful. Seven had often asked if he was okay after he’d been injured, but it wasn’t with the same kind of care that Cerise gave him, the kind that made his heart melt, likely because they just checked up on each other like ‘bros.’ The term always made him roll his eyes, even if Seven was more like a brother to Vanderwood than he ever should have been.

She nuzzled into his hand. Marion stroked her face often, and it had become one of her favorite feelings. Just his touch in general was something she loved and couldn’t get enough of. Ever since she’d first met him, she had found herself drawn to him, even if she couldn’t explain it at the time. Even when she didn’t realize it, she was always trying to get his attention in one way or another.

At least he let her worry. Cerise had thought that he might be the type to refuse help and keep things bottled in, that he might be too proud to let her help. Luckily, that wasn’t the case at all. He seemed to like the fact that she made a fuss over him like she did. It made her wonder if anyone had done that for him before. Cerise was lost in his warmth and her thoughts when suddenly a light bulb went off in her head. “VANDORABLE!” Cerise was so proud of herself at the new ridiculous nickname, she couldn’t help but to start laughing at herself.

He was about to move to kiss her, not caring that it would hurt like Hell, when the unexpected nickname arrived. His face first blanched, then filled up completely with red before he started laughing right along with her, probably harder than he’d ever laughed. It hurt his aching muscles, but it felt so good to laugh like that.

This was the kind of laugh that bubbled warmth up in his chest, like there was never anything funnier in this world. Once he finally started to come down from it, he really did move into more of a leaning position against the arm of the couch, pulling her along so he could give her a deep kiss. His body was hurting already from the laughing fit, so he didn’t care. He just wanted to love on her, have the intimacy.

Cerise was still smiling against the kiss. She had never heard him laugh like that, and she was happy that he did, that she had caused it with a dumb little joke about his name. He had already come so far compared to the first day they’d met. Marion seemed a lot lighter. Happier. It made her feel warmth spreading throughout her chest. Cerise really did love this man. Before him, she hadn’t known that feelings that intense even existed. Slowly, a thought crept up on her. If he was being more open and honest with her, maybe she should be with him.

She pulled away from the kiss, looking a bit worried. “Marion…there’s something I didn’t tell you…” Cerise couldn’t look anywhere but down. It was only a small thing, but the fact was that she had kept a secret… She should have just told him before. “I’ve…I’ve had a boyfriend before.” Cerise said it so fast that it might have been hard to catch, but there! She’d said it. It was off her chest.

The way she’d pulled away from the kiss with a look on her face had had the breath stilling in his chest. He was surprised just how much his body was tingling with anxiety. ‘I’ve had a boyfriend before.’ That possessiveness he was only just starting to get used to crept up on him, and he tightened his arms around her. Cerise was his, and anyone else having been with her made him feel…dark and dangerous. It didn’t make a whole lot of sense, considering the kind of shit he had done in his life, that he should be so jealous. Vanderwood bit his tongue to bite it back; she had been a virgin when they got together, and as far as he knew, their first kiss had been her actual first kiss.

Cerise had been gathering her thoughts, letting him process what she’d said before she could continue. “I was in third grade…I don’t even remember his name…And I almost dated a guy in high school, but he just wanted my dad, so that ended.” All of the tension melted right off of Vanderwood almost immediately, and he started to chuckle again, leaning his forehead against hers. “Shortcake, you are more than forgiven your transgression. I’m pretty sure I’ve done far worse.” Which he had. It made guilt flood him a bit. His soulmate didn’t have the satisfaction of being the first woman in his life. “I’m sorry.”

“Marion…” Cerise could guess at what he was thinking as he apologized to her. It was true that he had a rather questionable past with women, that he probably didn’t know the names of a lot of them…but that was okay. The important thing to her was that he was healing, that he was happier. Cerise let a hand find his hair again, running it gently through. “Marion, I think that sometimes maybe…you have to make a few wrong turns, hit a few bumps in the road, before you end up where you’re supposed to be. It might just…take some people longer to get to their destination than others.”

He looked into her eyes as she talked, nodding softly as she finished. “I guess that’s one way of looking at it.” Vanderwood kissed her nose gently. “I’ve found my destination now…” More cheesiness. Seemed like a lot more than usual today. Cerise let out a soft giggle as he kissed her nose. He really was adorable and soft underneath that rough exterior.

“I guess I found mine kinda early…” Now that she thought about it, she really didn’t even know how old he was. He couldn’t have been much older than her, maybe a few years. Marion certainly acted older than he appeared, but that was just one of his charms. Did he even know how old she was? Probably things you should find out before you start dating someone. Good job, Cerise! She made a mental note to ask him about it later.

Vanderwood had been enjoying their little moment of silence before the thought hit him like a train. Oh, bloody Hell. Was he going to be cheesy when he proposed? He didn’t want to think about it. Vanderwood would just have to practice beforehand. Wait…how did you say, ‘Will you marry me’ in French? That was something to look up later. He coughed softly and shifted to look at the TV. If he spent too much time thinking about it, he would just freak himself out, and she would probably notice. “Maybe we should watch something?”

Cerise bolted up from the couch to her television. “Oh, yeah. That sounds great!” It was one of the first things she set up, so she could have some entertainment while she unpacked. She could not stand the silence. After turning the TV on, the first thing she went to was the telenovela channel and then promptly returned to the couch. “…Maybe I should learn Spanish one day.” She mumbled as she watched another rather impressive cat fight break out on the screen.

He snorted softly as he lightly played with her hair once she’d returned, completely absentmindedly. “Well, maybe I’ll teach you some Spanish in exchange for you teaching me French.” Why were these characters fighting over… oh God no. His eyes went wide. “That would be…so great! I would finally be able to understand these…” Cerise’s voice trailed off once she got a look at his face, turning to look toward the television in horror. Oh no. This looked a lot like…and there it was. The donkey. The rapping donkey. Cerise had no idea what they were saying, but at this point she didn’t want to know.

The damn donkey. Not the damn rapping donkey. They’d escaped the donkey while they were in the hotel room on the run, but here it was again. How were these shows supposed to be taken seriously when these women were pulling each other’s hair out over a fight of who should get to ride the donkey? The camera panned over to an image of the donkey, who was now being ridden by yet another woman. Jesus. “Um…maybe we should watch the news.”

He had a feeling that the donkey was going to start…yep, there it was. A rap. Great. Cerise nodded at Marion’s suggestion. “…That’s a good idea.” She got up again to change the channel to the news, ending their rapping donkey induced suffering. Sighing, she returned to the couch and shook her head. “…Who thought that was a good idea? Who?”

Vanderwood felt instant relief when the channel was changed away from the burro monstrosity. He pulled her close to him again and kissed the top of her head as some sort of entertainment report started. ‘Rising star musical actor, and Rika’s Fundraising Association member, Zen aka Hyun Ryu shocked the nation when he was spotted with a dazzling woman by the paparazzi recently.’ Vanderwood frowned. Wasn’t that the organization Seven was a part of? They started to play a clip from Zen’s recent performances and Vanderwood’s eyebrows furrowed.

“I know that guy from somewhere.” His looks were singularly unique, a hard face to forget. Vanderwood bit his tongue and leaned back onto the couch. “Oh. Right. Yeah. I remember now.” Probably best not to tell Cerise so much about that particular incident. Cerise watched the man on TV. Vanderwood knew him? The man looked like someone straight out of a magazine and not at all like someone her boyfriend would have associated with. His hair was really long, and he had a little bit of femininity to him.

Cerise froze. Could he have…mistaken this man as a woman? “You…remember?” She asked nervously. Surely that wasn’t the case…Marion seemed to realize that he was a man at least now. “If you remember him, did you erm…uhh…” Cerise began to fidget where she was and started to play with her own hair, becoming really interested in it as she talked. “…I mean uhh…he does look really pretty and…I could see how you could have…thought he was a woman…”

What was she trying to say? He watched her becoming more interested in her hair and then his face filled with dark red. She thought he’d? Oh God no. Well, that one time when he was 21 almost, but he had gotten the fuck out of there so fast. “N-no. I have never, never had sex with a man. I uh…I slept with his girlfriend.” Vanderwood realized quickly that he needed to be clearer as pictures of Zen flashed on the screen. “This was maybe…five or six years ago. And I didn’t know she was cheating on him with me until I was leaving their place.” That felt like something he needed to point out. Although, he didn’t feel guilty about it. It wasn’t his fault the girlfriend was a cheater. He just happened to be the one she cheated with, with no prior knowledge.

Oh…so it was his girlfriend he’d slept with, not the man himself. Even if it had been, it wasn’t like it would have changed her feelings for him in the least. Cerise was a little disappointed that he would be involved in someone else’s relationship though, the disappointment fading with his explanation. At least he hadn’t known she was already in a relationship. “Oh…that makes a lot more sense. ” Cerise relaxed into him and took his hand to play with his fingers. “Even if you had slept with another dude, I totally wouldn’t judge you.” As much as he was in no way interested in men and wanted to make that clear, it was still heartening that she was so open minded. She was probably more open minded than he was.

Another thought crept up on her and she momentarily stopped playing with his fingers. “Do we…do we need to get more sheets for next time, Marion? There weren’t enough sheets.” Her question had him all sorts of confused. “Next time? Sheets? For what?” There weren’t enough sheets?? Vanderwood couldn’t even begin to fathom why she was asking about sheets. He was wracking his brain and going through the possible things that had to do with sheets. Did…she not like his blanket and sheet set or what?

Cerise faced him, a confused look on her face. “You know, sheets. For next time.” Wasn’t he supposed to know about that sort of thing? He was the one who had the most experience, after all. When it seemed that he wasn’t getting it, Cerise pulled out her phone and went to Utube, pulling up a scene from one of her favorite telenovelas in which there were a ridiculous amount of conveniently placed sheets. There were many scenes like that, so it wasn’t particularly hard to find one. “Sheets.”

As the confusion slipped away, his smile grew wider and wider. “Sheets.” Vanderwood snorted and bit his tongue to keep from bursting out laughing so that he could formulate a good explanation for her. “Shortcake…haven’t you noticed how the sheets are always placed perfectly so you can’t see anything. Look.” He pointed out a portion of sheet in the video she was showing him, his face growing a bit red, which was stupid since he was explaining perfectly normal things, but it was always like this with Cerise. “The sheets are between them…you can’t have sex like that…obviously…and uh…really it’s just so the audience doesn’t see anything. Trying to have sex with sheets around you would be…uncomfortable and rather impossible…” Cerise’s knowledge was pretty restricted to her shows and what he had taught her so far. It was honestly rather adorable and certainly funny. “We don’t need sheets, shortcake.”

It took a second to fully sink in as she furrowed her brows, looking at what he’d pointed out. “Don’t need…” Of course. What he was saying did make perfect sense now that she thought about it. Wow, she probably made a complete fool out of herself by asking that question. Cerise turned red and began to play with her hair so it was covering her face after putting her phone away again. “Yeah…don’t need sheets.”

She had honestly thought it was a normal thing…Think, think. What would be a good recovery…? Oh God. No. Cerise looked up with a confident smile and her trademark wink. “That’s okay, I enjoy the view a lot better without sheets anyways~” She couldn’t stop herself from saying the first thing that popped into her mind, and now she found herself mentally screaming. WHY. What is your problem?

Vanderwood was about to kiss the top of her head, just because she was so adorable, when she looked up at him and gave that flirt. Jesus. He turned so red he thought he was a tomato. With as much as he had missed her and as frustrating as it was that he was injured and still recovering, he did not need to be thinking about ‘the view.’ But now he was, and he had to bite down hard on his tongue to stop his imagination from getting too far gone. “Well…I enjoy the view too….” Jesus…Should have kept his mouth shut.

Cerise had absolutely no response. What were you supposed to do when someone you liked flirted back? She was probably as red as she could get, not to mention just the slightest bit happy that he did actually like ‘the view’. Trying to get her mind out of the gutter was something she wasn’t used to, so when she found less than innocent thoughts creeping up on her, she shook her head and slapped her cheeks to get a hold on herself. At least those thoughts weren’t being verbalized. She thought that she might die if those slipped out…”I’m uhh…glad.” Oh, that’s great. Cerise was so happy that something normal came out.

He just kind of nodded and pushed his hair back, looking away from her. God, he needed to get his head on straight. If he spent too much time thinking about her in bed, he would be stuck with a problem he couldn’t really take care of thanks to pain and soreness. Maybe he should…make that clear? “I uh…so…thing is um…I can’t really…handle the view today…If you…get what I mean.” There was so much redness in his face it was impossible to handle, and he was trying so hard to make his words work. Besides that, she wasn’t good with innuendo. “I uh…I can’t have sex until I’m better.” Yup, okay, they worked now, but he still wasn’t much use as far as mentally functioning.

That…certainly didn’t help her mind. Cerise accidentally fell over off the couch onto the floor. Wow, such grace. “Ow…” Cerise got up quickly and rubbed where she fell. “I…wasn’t….didn’t think…of course you need to get better first. I’m not…ugh…” Cerise honestly had no idea how to Korean at the moment. Of course, she didn’t want him to do anything while he was injured. What in the world…”I’m going to go erm…get something to drink.” Without waiting for a response, she disappeared into her kitchen.

He’d reacted when she fell, making a move to grab her that only made his sore muscles clench up hard. Thankfully, she seemed to be fine, and disappeared off into the kitchen. “Fuuuck.” Vanderwood had to lean back into the couch. Bloody Hell, now he was in some pretty intense pain. “I didn’t mean you wanted to…just…honesty.” He managed to mumble out between gritted teeth. God, he was really great at saying the wrong things sometimes.

She hadn’t witnessed the tail end of his pain, running away like that for her mentality’s sake, but now she could hear him from the kitchen and peeked out. He probably needed some sort of pain relief, too. It was a good thing that Cerise had set up her single serve coffee maker, because she really needed coffee right then. She grabbed what she needed and added water and let it do its thing.

Cerise didn’t really have much in the way of actual medicine. Her parents were firm believers in natural remedies (or rather her mom scared her dad on board with it). She wasn’t sure if he even liked hot tea or not, but that was what she had. It was easy enough to do, so while she waited for the coffee, she brewed some green tea and added a large amount of ginger into it. Cerise was sure it wasn’t going to taste so great, but the ginger should help with the muscle aches somewhat at least.

She set up her coffee how she liked it and grabbed it in one hand while she had the tea in another. Careful not to spill it, she slowly made her way back into her living room and put her cup down before handing him his. “This…isn’t going to taste the greatest, but it should help with soreness. ”

He’d been trying not to focus on the pain, but now Vanderwood’s heart was melting again. Once again, she was taking care of him, and he was totally unprepared. “Thank you…” He sniffed the tea she’d handed him, and it smelled strongly like ginger. Well…if she said it would help, maybe it would. Normally, he wouldn’t eat or drink anything he hadn’t had a hand in making himself, but it was Cerise, and she wasn’t trying to poison him.

It didn’t seem like it was too hot, so he could probably get a good-sized gulp down without burning himself. Vanderwood took a breath before doing just that. It definitely didn’t taste that great, and it was too hot to gulp again too quickly, so he had to wait a minute before he downed the rest. Yup. Not his favorite taste, but he set the cup aside and it did feel like he was relaxing a little more. “That…I think it actually did help.” Vanderwood, as a British man, did unironically enjoy tea, although…usually with a better flavor.

Cerise watched him while he tried to down the ginger tea. It was something her mom did for her when she complained about pain, though most of the time she would just rather deal with the pain than the taste of the ginger. She nursed at her coffee after sitting on the floor in front of the couch. It would have been nice to keep cuddling, but she didn’t want to do anything to cause him any further pain; he needed to rest. “I’m glad…I thought it might. Sorry I don’t have any actual medicine. Parents aren’t a fan. ” The TV was on, but she wasn’t paying much attention to it anymore. Instead, she took to writing in her blog and updating her social medias, only occasionally glancing up when she heard something mildly interesting.

Vanderwood felt oddly lonely with her not in his arms, but she was sitting right in front of him, so he was just being ridiculous. She had gotten on her phone, probably doing all of her postings and such. That reminded him he had his own stuff to look at now. She’d accepted his friend request on Fakebook, so he decided to start there and see what she was up to. When he opened his phone, his eyes grew wide. Way too many notifications, and way too many friend requests. He went through and accepted the one he recognized, Seven, and decided to leave the rest alone for the time being.

There was a number 22 over this little message looking box which he clicked on. He was thinking it was kind of nice just sitting here quietly with Cerise like they had when they’d been alone in their hotel room after they’d started dating. He’d really missed just watching her, which maybe was weird, but she was so breathtakingly beautiful that he really couldn’t help it. His phone pinged and now the little icon said 23 even though it was already open. Vanderwood clicked around the messages. Seven being an idiot, which he ignored and just asked if he and his brother were doing okay before moving on to the next set of messages.

He shifted uncomfortably in the couch. A request to hook up, another request, another. Clearly, he should have had Fakebook while he was in his crazy sex haze, because this was too easy. It made him a little sick thinking about, the fact that there was a time he would have taken these women up on their offer. His eyes flitted to look at Cerise before he swiped through to another message.

Okay, so, boobs. He had not been expecting that and swiped to the next conversation so fast only to be confronted with more boobs. Vanderwood was inwardly panicking a little, his face blanching as he looked up at Cerise. Of course, she couldn’t see what he was seeing, but now he was just done with his messages.

Would she be irritated if he asked for her help in getting rid of them? Because…it really wasn’t a good idea for him to have those around. It wasn’t that he was getting turned on, but he was a little worried about if he got stressed enough that the temptation was there. He could easily create a program later to filter all of this out, but if she knew how to turn off the messages already…then that was all he really needed.

“Hey…shortcake.” Probably it would be best to just come right out with it, so she didn’t think he was trying to hide it from her or anything, but he was fumbling with finding the words. “I uh…There’s a bit of a problem with my messages. Do you think you could help me?” God, he hoped she wouldn’t ask specifically what the problem was, because he had a feeling the wrong words would come out of his mouth.

Cerise was a bit absorbed, initially giving a simple, “Hmm?” She didn’t look up from her phone until he mentioned that there had been something wrong. Now she leaned back and looked at him, her face upside down. He looked mildly concerned, so she grabbed for his phone and took a look. “Oh.” So, he was already getting inappropriate pictures. Whoever this woman was…those were clearly fake.

Okay, great, so she hadn’t asked, but now she had taken his phone and was looking right at the messages he had been sent. If his face could go any paler…Still, Cerise seemed incredibly un-phased, which had his eyebrows furrowing.

Honestly, Cerise wasn’t surprised he was getting these already, she got her fair share of them, too and just tended to ignore or block them. “So…Watch what I do.” She positioned the phone where they could both see and demonstrated how to block someone. Cerise figured that’s what he wanted, anyways. “I get those all the time.” She opened her messages and handed Vanderwood her phone, so he could see just how many she tended to get. “Usually women are a bit more erm…reserved. Guess those just couldn’t resist mister Vanderhottie.”

At least the system of blocking seemed incredibly simple, but then she showed him her phone. Vanderwood had known she got the occasional creep, but not just how many occasional creeps. He didn’t like it at all, and he liked it even less when he actually could see just how many pictures she was getting. Vanderwood’s eyebrow twitched. Nope. That didn’t just make him angry, he felt just a little bit dangerous. Her comment about him wasn’t even heard, he was too busy trying to figure out a way to make sure none of the men who were sending her messages like this would ever dare try it again, blocked or not. Really, he was being ridiculous, but he was injured and irritated. Vanderwood bit his tongue and took a deep breath before handing her phone back to her. “That’s…that’s a normal thing for you?”

Cerise noticed how uncomfortable he seemed to be but shrugged and took her phone back from him. “Pretty normal…I get a lot. You should see my blocked list. “She laughed nervously, not wanting to further upset him. When she had first gotten one, she was pretty freaked out, but it had become the norm. She was kind of numb to it now. “It happens to some of my friends too. I’ve just kinda accepted it as part of having a popular account.”

His eyebrow was still twitching, but he just nodded. “I guess, but I still don’t like it.” Some sort of program would have to be implemented to delete, block, and give some sort of punishment to the sender and very soon. “You think I do?” Cerise had raised her eyebrow at him, pushing his phone towards him again, and Vanderwood took his phone back from her with a sigh.

It wasn’t like he could control the internet, and she was blocking them, so really, it was just an annoyance. After a few moments of silence, he decided maybe he should look up how to say, ‘Will you marry me’ in French, but he wasn’t sure if he could trust the robots to give him the correct pronunciation. Still, he couldn’t just ask her how to say that…but maybe something similar? “Hey, shortcake, how do you say, ‘wWll you go out with me’ in French?’”

She had started to edit some selfies she had taken with stickers and filters before she looked back up from her phone, turning her head to see him. His question was…confusing to say the least. It was a strange thing to ask, considering they were already going out…Weren’t they? ” ‘Iras-tu sortir avec moi…'” She answered slowly with careful enunciation. “But erm…why do you ask? Aren’t we already…?”

He hadn’t thought of that. That was really smart of him. Vanderwood floundered around in his head trying to think of something. “Oh…well…of course, but…I just…wanted to ask in French…” He was cheesy all the time lately, so hopefully she would just take that as his excuse. Finally, his cheesiness was good for something other than looking like an idiot. “Um…Iras-tu sortir avec moi, ma moitie’?” Vanderwood tested the words slowly, glad that at least his delicacy with trying to remember them and their pronunciation wasn’t an offense that could be criticized. As confused as she was, she probably wouldn’t be able to figure out the real reason he was asking, and that was good.

Cerise raised an eyebrow at him and then laughed. He could be such a dork sometimes. “I dunno~” She grinned at him and poked him gently. “I tend to get myself into a lot of trouble. I was kinda kidnapped from my house once, you know.”

Vanderwood was blushing like an idiot now just from the way she was looking at him. “Well…You’re not wrong…”  She seemed to have believed that he really was just an idiot. And in a way…yeah, he had to admit he was. He moved to take a seat on the floor next to her, happy to find that he didn’t feel nearly as sore moving after the tea than he’d felt earlier. Vanderwood simply couldn’t help but want to be close to her. Cerise felt a twinge of worry when he started to move, knowing he wasn’t completely devoid of pain. Still, he was a grown man and more than twice her size, so she wasn’t about to stop him as he took a seat on the floor next to her.

He nuzzled his nose against hers, and Cerise felt relieved when he didn’t seem to be in a state of pain and affectionately nuzzled back.  Vanderwood’s blush just got worse. “But I hope you’ll seriously consider it.” It felt silly playing along, but it also gave him that fuzzy feeling in his chest that he enjoyed so much. “Hmm~” Cerise pulled back and dramatically gave him a once-over, clicking her tongue and holding her chin like she was judging and debating about something. “I guess you’ll do. Plus. you’re kinda cute! I think I’ll keep you.” She teased while laughing. It was fun when he decided to play along with her being silly, and it made her chest feel warm in the best way.

Wait, why did he actually kind of feel nervous when she did that? Vanderwood watched her, unable to understand how this amazing woman had become his or even wanted to be. “Hopefully I’m worth keeping then.” He smiled, pushing some of her hair gently behind her ear. “Je’ taime, Cerise.” Love was a funny thing, so new to him, and yet he was absolutely certain that he would be with her for the rest of his life. When he became such a cheesy sap was a mystery to him, too, but he was so happy that it didn’t matter.

“More than worth it.” She scooted closer to him and kissed his cheek. “Je t’aime aussi~” Her kiss to his cheek left a little warm feeling behind. They sat together quietly for a little while. Cerise carefully leaned against him for a bit, just enjoying his company before she realized that maybe she should attempt to make them something to eat. Really, she hadn’t had to seriously cook before; she was mostly limited to heating things up and opening packages, but that worked for when you were eating alone, not with your boyfriend and certainly not with your injured boyfriend.

It was a chance to show him that she could actually act like a normal woman and do normal woman things. She was an adult, after all. “I think I’m going to go out for a bit and grab some groceries to cook.” Or try to… Cerise stood up to brush herself off. Now, she could use her own money too, since she had access to her purse again. “Stay here and rest, I’ll be back soon. ”

He was starting to feel a little hungr,y so when she mentioned getting some groceries to cook, he was only too happy. That didn’t mean he wanted her to go alone, though. “I can come with you.” As good as a rest sounded, he didn’t want her out and about without him. Vanderwood had gotten way too used to watching over her practically every moment. As he made a move to stand up, he groaned, the muscle in his leg tightening up hard. He had to sit back down, sinking into the couch again, not wanting to rest on the floor. “Maybe I won’t…but be careful.” Was he really getting anxious over her taking a trip to the grocery store? Well, she had been attacked right in this very house.

Cerise had let out a nervous chuckle when he attempted to move. She knew that he was in no position to come with her, as much as he wanted to. It was touching that even in his current state he wanted to watch over her. She’d just have to be extra careful, so she wouldn’t have to worry him. “Don’t worry, I’ll be so super careful!” Cerise had never had the opportunity really where she was taller than him, even just barely., so she moved to kiss him on top of the head while he sat down on the couch. Even with her standing up and him sitting, he was almost as tall as she was.

If it weren’t for the fact that she needed to get going, maybe she would have pouted and complained about it, just to have him make some silly compliment. That made her feel warm and fuzzy. Obviously, she needed to get back quickly, so she could be with him again. “I’ll be back soon~” Cerise ran to her room and threw on a heavier jacket, since it was pretty cold outside, as well as her purse. She still wasn’t about to put on pants, though. Cerise much preferred her skirt, and the grocery store was only a few blocks away. She could totally manage that with no trouble.

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Mystic Messenger Fanfiction | VanderwoodxOC Cerise – Tagged | Return

Quickly she got up and practically ran for the door, opening it. Her suspicions were confirmed; he was finally home.

***All of my NSFW scenes have had their passwords removed. =0 So, now you can get dat gud gud when you want it. Enjoy your weekly dose of Cherrywood!***

*Remember, this is a sequel to Vanderwood Backstory, and Cerise has a bio. You can support my writing on patreon and get access to my VIP Discord Server or other goodies like early chapter releases and hidden scenes.  Tagged Chapter Directory*

It felt strange to Cerise, being in his weird place with nobody around. He’d been gone less than an hour, and she was already beginning to feel antsy. They had retrieved the rest of her pillows from the trunk of the car, and she spent a lot of her time buried in them and texting her boyfriend. He was so formal when it came to texting, but it was also kind of cute, too. The texts stopped coming at some point, meaning they must have arrived at their destination, and that’s when she started to feel alone and just weird without him. Just like he said, he was checking in with her in twelve-hour intervals. It wasn’t a lot, but it was at least something.

In the time between, she busied herself with exploring the house and watching TV while updating her blogs. She’d even managed to not burn the kitchen down. Coffee was a no-go, since she couldn’t figure out the coffee maker. Obviously, there was only one thing to do there. Cerise took a sad picture with it and posted it, taking an hour or so to watch another show before she felt there was no doubt there many people explaining the mysterious workings of the coffee maker to her. After some reading, she was able to figure it out. Sometimes being cute and popular online had its perks. Cerise posted a new picture with her freshly made cup of coffee and thanked her followers.

While digging through the cabinet, she found a bag of chips she’d never seen before. They looked like they would be a good snack, so she opened a bag and took a bite. Nope. Nuh uh. Cerise found herself promptly spitting it out and taking a gulp of her still hot coffee to eliminate the taste from her mouth. Who could stand to even eat those? So gross. Her mind slipped to Marion. He certainly wouldn’t have eaten those chips. Was he eating right out there on his mission? Cerise did her best not to worry and keep herself occupied, but she couldn’t stop thinking about him like that.

The second day was coming to a close, and there was no sign of either of them. Marion was supposed to have come back…just two days, that had been what he’d said, so anxiety kept building higher by the second. Cerise checked her phone to see if maybe she had missed a text…something. She didn’t like it…worrying wasn’t going to get her anywhere, so she buried herself in the blankets and pillows of his bed and fell asleep.

Cerise wasn’t sure how long she was asleep before a notification woke her up. She rubbed her eyes and sat up as she sleepily unlocked her phone to check it, letting out a sigh of relief when she saw that it was from Vanderwood, but soon her relief turned into concern. `Can’t talk am okay Wil take longr than thouht` He was saying that it was going to take longer…and the way he was texting was so unlike him.

Panic began to set in. Did something go wrong? He said he was okay…but was he really? She wouldn’t put it past him to tell her he was when he wasn’t. Cerise wanted to reply, but it wouldn’t have done any good. He’d said he couldn’t talk, and she didn’t want to possibly compromise him by spamming his phone. That jerk had better come back in one piece.

***

He had spent the entire trip to the mission point texting Cerise, wishing he could be there with her instead of in the car with Zero Seven. It sucked ass that when they got to their location, he couldn’t talk to her much anymore, and maybe he was somewhat distracted by that fact. This was just further proof to him of why agents couldn’t have loved ones, why he couldn’t keep working, why they needed to get this done. At least he was managing to keep up with separating himself from the kid by calling him by his agency name, but he felt like that wasn’t really doing him any good on this mission either. Vanderwood didn’t feel like he was his usual self.

The first and second day went as planned. Every twelve hours he would send Cerise a quick message to let her know that he was okay. By the time Zero Seven felt he’d taken down all of the security cameras and given them the best possible guess on where his brother would be, Vanderwood was ready to get this shit over with.

They had some trouble getting past a few guards, but they slipped easily through the corridors of the building using the blueprint Seven had found. At this point, there wasn’t even a point to calling him Zero Seven…This mission was an emotional one anyway, not even agency regulated. With the security system down, they only had to worry about running into people. There was a strange large room that honestly looked like a church from the outside. Now they just needed to get through that to get toward the main information hub where Seven thought his brother would be.

Everything seemed to be going as it should…right up until they entered the strange church like building. For whatever reason, the people inside had been expecting them. Vanderwood tried not to blanch at the number of people surrounding them. They all seemed like they were in some haze, and the one that was clearly Seven’s brother was no better. He’d noticed him almost immediately, the white hair tinted in pink and mint colored eyes not keeping him from being almost the exact likeness of his twin brother.

Brown eyes traveled to the queen bitch as she stood. Really, she was rather pretty, but her heart was clearly ugly. “Can I start my revenge, Savior?” The twin had a weird manic tone to his voice, and Vanderwood furrowed his brows. What the fuck was he talking about? The queen bitch looked over to them, her eyes glassy. “Not until after we give them their cleansing.”

He shifted away from her. What the fuck did that even mean? They were at a major disadvantage here. Fuck. Already completely surrounded, and no way to just escape. “You’re not giving me shit.” Vanderwood didn’t like the sound of it, and now two men were laying their hands on Seven. He moved instinctively, knocking the first to the ground before punching the other in the face so hard that the man fell backwards. “Seize him!” The bitch shrieked and then he was on the ground as four men kicked at him. He was lucky that the first one’s kick to his jaw didn’t snap his neck.

Vanderwood tried to block out the pain as the next started going nuts on his abdomen, one kicking him in the back of his leg and another assaulting his shoulder blade. It hurt like Hell, and he would be damn lucky if he didn’t start internally bleeding to death right there on the floor. No, he couldn’t think like that. He needed to get back to Cerise. Vanderwood just laid there, waiting for it to stop and thinking of her.

When he came back to reality, they’d ended up in some sort of dungeon, constantly being watched by two guards. Vanderwood ran his hands discreetly over his body, wincing at the pain, but finding his phone and a few other weapons still stashed on him. At least he had his phone. They’d found his taser and gun and stopped at that, it seemed. If he risked a text to Cerise, there was a chance he’d lose his phone completely. Still, he needed to let her know that he wouldn’t be home, needed to keep her from doing anything rash. Not that he knew what she would do or could do.

He tucked himself into the corner sending the text as quickly as he could with his left hand, since his right was out of use, thanks to the damage his shoulder blade had taken. `Can’t talk am okay Wil take longr than thouht` There wasn’t time to fix the typos or punctuation. He stuffed his phone back into his pocket before making his way over to his moping partner, limping a little. “So. What are we gonna do?”

***

It was the fourth day now…When he could manage, he’d sent messages to confirm to Cerise that he was alive, but he was sure that she was frightened. Honestly, he was a little frightened too. There were guards everywhere, and they could easily knock out a few, but then they would be swiftly set upon by another few.

There was simply no way they could get out of this, and every day Seven’s brother would come by to taunt them about this ‘cleansing’, which Vanderwood was pretty certain was drug related, something that gave him a whole different kind of terror. Seven wasn’t as useful as he needed to be either, begging his brother to hear him out every time he was in their cell. Vanderwood had to knock the kid over the head just to get him to pay attention instead of staring off into a corner. They needed to get out of here somehow.

After long drawn out whispers of conversation, Seven and Vanderwood had decided they needed to knock out the guards and call for the help of Seven’s friends. Usually they had the agency to rely on, but considering they were about to release the information of the major members of the organization as soon as this mission was over, as well as the fact that this mission was unauthorized, that wasn’t an option. Seven had assured Vanderwood that the rich kid could handle sending the right people, and as much as both of them didn’t want to involve anyone else, they didn’t have a lot of options left open to them.

It was only a matter of minutes after Seven had made the call that they heard helicopters overhead. Damn. The rich dude really was resourceful. After what seemed like hours, they were finally released from their dungeon, giving Vanderwood a massive rush of relief as they were out of that dirty environment and back in control.

Seven hadn’t been able to handle this well. He felt like he’d completely lost himself in all of this. His brother…there was so much wrong with this. V had been supposed to keep Saeran safe…Rika had been…It didn’t make any sense. The others…they were all involved now, and they all needed to get to a hospital. At least with Saeran on his way to the hospital, he’d be able to remove the agency threat by releasing the information on those agents who deserved justice brought down on them…Seven wasn’t even sure he felt like praying, even though it felt like his entire soul was being flushed down a toilet.

Everyone would be getting the, ‘cleansing’ flushed from their systems, so he needed to go with Saeran, although Vanderwood looked…all sorts of fucked up. “Mary, shouldn’t you come too?” His girlfriend was at the bunker, she was safe, but it seemed like that didn’t matter much to Vanderwood, who only gave him a glare in response to the pet name he hated so much. “I need to get home to Cerise.”

And he did. She was probably all sorts of panicked, and he felt absolutely empty without her. Driving hurt like Hell. Any time he moved the muscles black with bruise, it hurt like Hell, and every time he opened his mouth, his jaw clicked painfully. Still, the only thing he could think of was Cerise, holding her close and filling what felt like an empty void in his soul. He didn’t care that he was driving, opening his phone to look at the picture they’d taken before he left. It wasn’t enough, but at least he could look at her and remember the joy of that moment. His moitié, the other half of his soul.

Once he parked. the thought of having a cigarette wasn’t even on his mind, nor was sex, he was tense and agitated, but all he wanted was her in his arms, to bury his face in her hair. He pushed the door open, grunting at the motion before calling out to her, his voice betraying the pain he was in. “Cerise?” Was she in his room? He limped along to find her.

Cerise had been napping when she was woken up by what she could have sworn had been her name being called. She sat up on the bed and listened…could she hear someone? The possibility of an intruder hadn’t even crossed her mind; the first thing on her mind was the possibility of it being Vanderwood. Quickly she got up and practically ran for the door, opening it. Her suspicions were confirmed; he was finally home.

A mix of emotions swirled through her when she saw him. Love, adoration, worry, empathy, anger…He’d said he was okay, so why did he look so beaten up? Cerise couldn’t stop the tears from forming in her eyes as she ran up to him and threw her arms around him as gently as she could, knowing that he had to be in all sorts of pain. “You jerk…you lied to me…said you were okay…”

Vanderwood could only describe the sight of her as angelic. He wrapped his arms around her, grunting softly at the pain as he pulled her close, nuzzling into her hair and breathing in her heavenly scent. It was like stitching his soul back together. “I’m more than okay now…” That was cheesy, but he was too tired to berate himself. He had lied to her a little…this was incredibly painful. “I missed you so much, shortcake.” Pressing kisses to the top of her head, he made a move to get back to his room, keeping an arm around her, not willing to let go quite yet.

If it wouldn’t have hurt so much, he would have flopped onto his bed, but instead he sat slowly, the pain in his leg reminding him that maybe he should just be laying down. Honestly, he should get some pain-relieving patches on his bruises just to get towards functioning again, but even the thought of getting up again was painful. “Mon amour…Would you do me a favor and get the first aid kit from the bathroom?” So far, she’d been silently watching him. His jaw was clicking again, and he winced, going to pull off his shirt, revealing the mass of bruising on his abdomen and right shoulder blade.

Cerise hadn’t been able to do much to support him on his way back to his room. All she could think was that he was really beat up. It was a scary sight. He had asked for the first aid kit, but she didn’t move upon his request, and as he pulled his shirt off to reveal even heavier injuries, she found herself getting even more angry and upset. Marion most definitely wasn’t okay. Cerise frowned at him and sat on the edge of the bed with her back to him, her arms crossed. “…If you’re so okay, you can get them yourself.” Her voice held a bit of bitterness. What he needed was a doctor, not a first aid kit.

She was pissed at him. Rightfully so, he deserved it. Vanderwood was about to gather up the strength to get up and retrieve the first aid kit when she went off to get it for him after all. Cerise figured she might as well give him what he wanted, because he wasn’t about to go to a doctor, and she wasn’t about to let him hurt himself more with getting up, even if a small part of her thought he deserved it.

Vanderwood wasn’t really sure how to feel at the moment, even though she was angry at him, he couldn’t help feeling so refreshed simply being around her. Cerise had wordlessly gotten up to fetch the first aid kit and bring it over, and now she was rifling through it instead of handing it to him. “Do you want me to-“ Vanderwood didn’t get to finish his sentence before she gave him a glare. Apparently, Cerise was not in the mood to let him take care of it. She had some idea of what to do and grabbed some pain relievers from the kit, preparing a glass of water and bringing that to him. “Open.”

He did as she requested, opening his mouth for the pills and water and drinking it down. God, it felt like forever since he’d had something to drink. Vanderwood probably hadn’t eaten in over 24 hours either, and he certainly smelled terrible after four days of not showering and sleeping in a car and on a cold dungeon floor.

His skin started to crawl, but he had other pressing matters to attend to. He reached for the kit to grab those little patches, not wanting to bother her any more than he already had. Cerise just glared at him. Vanderwood started with popping one on his jaw, a couple on his abdomen and then contorting himself to attempt to place some properly on his shoulder blade. Which, really, he shouldn’t be attempting to do by himself, because that was just hurting him more, but he wasn’t about to ask her any more favors. He’d pissed her off enough already.

Cerise had been watching silently as he attempted to patch himself up and kinda fail. What did he think he was doing? Really? Marion was an idiot, pretending that he was ‘okay’ and trying to take care of himself. It was only making her madder. Sighing, she grabbed a patch from him and placed it properly on his shoulder blade herself, making him snort softly that she was still bothering to take care of him despite how angry she was. God, he loved this woman.

She disappeared into the other room, and while she was gone, he pulled his pants down just enough to pop a patch on the back of his upper thigh. She didn’t need to see everything. It was about fifteen minutes before she reappeared with what looked like soup in a cup. The cup of soup was a welcome meal, even if he would never eat that normally.

His heart was doing that melty thing that it always did when she took care of him, too, and Vanderwood thought it was oddly romantic…in his own special way. Cerise had just figured that the soup would be easier on him, since his jaw had looked pretty bad. “I’m not really good at cooking, but this should be tolerable. ” Marion just nodded as Cerise sat on the bedside beside him and offered to help him down it by placing the rim of the cup by his mouth.

Fucking Hell, she was amazingly kind, kinder than he deserved, and her help was more than he’d ever gotten from anyone other than maybe an agency nurse, and she got paid for that shit anyway. Vanderwood let her help him drink the soup down, feeling his stomach protest somewhat at finally getting food again, but knowing that it would settle before long.

As he finished off the soup, he reached for her, taking her hand and pressing a soft kiss to her knuckles. She deserved an apology, and he meant to give it to her. “I’m sorry…I should have told you. I didn’t have much time to explain, and I didn’t want you to worry…but I shouldn’t have lied to you.”

She enjoyed the feeling of his lips on her skin, but as much as she enjoyed it, she was still irritated with him. “Shut up, don’t talk.” Cerise was happy that he was apologizing, she just didn’t feel like hearing it at the moment. He was just going to have to put up with that. She got up, taking the emptied cup with her to put away and then came back to clean up all the packaging mess from the first aid kit.

He did as she asked, clamping his mouth shut and watching her move about the room cleaning up. Vanderwood was happy she was picking up for him because otherwise it would have just driven him crazy. It was difficult to understand for him, the fact that his apology didn’t mean anything, but then he’d never been good with interpersonal things. Honestly, he couldn’t even remember the last time he’d apologized for something. Cerise was pissed…he deserved that…and it wasn’t like someone had to accept an apology even if it was given. Perhaps she just wasn’t ready for it? Hell if he knew, but he laid back on the bed as best as he could, letting her do the cleaning, despite itching to do so himself.

Shit, he needed a shower too. Vanderwood tried not to think about it. Tomorrow…tomorrow after he took her back home like he’d promised, at least not failing her there, he could clean, and he could shower in the morning. For now, just focusing on the fact that he would get to clean up soon was keeping him from wanting to scrape his skin off.

Cerise left the actual kit out in case he needed it, watching him as he was laying there in thought before settling on the bed beside him and getting as close to him as she could without hurting him. Lying beside him, she reached out to stroke his hair comfortingly. She was mad, yeah…but that didn’t mean that she didn’t care or didn’t love him, and she was sure that he knew that. Right now, no matter how much of a jerk he was, she wanted to be close…to appreciate that he was back at all.

As she played with his hair, Vanderwood closed his eyes, enjoying the feeling of it. Cerise was angry, but the care was there. It was only too obvious how much she cared. No one ever cared for him like that in his life, and it made him smile, despite all the pain he was in. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close, feeling like he needed it after being away for so long, thinking maybe she needed it, too. Now he simply laid in silence, lightly playing with her hair, happy to be back with the love of his life.

Cerise felt the silence was much needed. She didn’t want to snap at him too much, just needing some time to cool down before she was ready for normal conversation with him. The jerk had lied to her and was in so much pain. It hurt, made her chest feel tight. She welcomed his arms and gently snuggled into him, hoping she wasn’t hurting him too badly. After so many days away from him and despite being upset, she was happy to be in his arms and beside him again. There was no way she could fall asleep after that, so she just laid there awake, enjoying the feeling of having her hair played with as she returned the favor

Vanderwood’s thoughts drifted around as he felt himself relaxing into her. He hadn’t even needed sex to get to this point and was honestly pretty proud of himself, knowing that it was all thanks to Cerise that he could relax like a normal human being. The two times they’d had sex had only served to prove to him even more. While he was still impatient as ever, his relationship with sex had changed into something else entirely.

He remembered the last time they’d had sex, making a sharp intake of breath as it hit him full force that he’d nearly forgotten to put on a condom. It was the first time that had ever happened to him, and knowing the way it felt being with her, seemed to him that he could easily forget again. Vanderwood internally slapped himself, not wanting to keep his thoughts drifting in that direction.

His arms tightened around her. Now wasn’t the time to think about it. They’d talk about it tomorrow when he went with her to her apartment. Vanderwood felt incredibly stupid on many levels, but again, it wasn’t the time. Why was he even thinking about it right now? He was exhausted, she was still angry, and he was passing out even with that moment of panic. After pressing a soft kiss to her forehead and nuzzling into her wealth of hair, he took some time to just breathe in her scent, not even realizing that he was sinking into sleep.

Cerise had felt his hold on her tighten, heard his sharp intake of breath, but now he was relaxing again. She didn’t know what he was thinking, but it didn’t feel like it was really the time to ask. He needed to rest, be able to recover. and she wasn’t going to keep him up any longer than he needed to be. He was out shortly after kissing her forehead, easy to notice with the way he went lax. The room was cold, but he was warm, and alive. Such a jerk…Marion had terrified her, but she’d clung to the fact that he was okay only to now find out that he really wasn’t. That was what made her so mad. She sighed again and snuggled into him more, hoping not to wake him, but he was so exhausted that he didn’t even stir in his sleep.

She wasn’t sure when she had fallen asleep, opening her eyes slowly and pulling back from him. For the first time since meeting him, she’d woken up before he did. Marion was out cold and was probably going to stay that way for a while, despite how light of a sleeper he was. Even a secret agent couldn’t train himself out of sleep when he was exhausted. Cerise did her best not to wake him as she carefully moved away from him to hop off the bed, heading to the kitchen to fix a glass of water to set by the bed in case he woke up. After grabbing some fresh clothes, she closed herself in the bathroom to take a quick shower, not wanting to use too much of the warm water. He was probably going to want to use the shower when he woke up.

The sound of the shower turning on was what finally woke him. He opened his eyes slowly and rolled over, groaning softly at how sore he felt. There was a glass of water on the table. A smile spread across his face as he realized Cerise must have put it there. Vanderwood drank it quickly before forcing himself out of bed. Gross, he felt rather gross in general, but Cerise was in the shower for now, and the best he could do was change clothes.

Energy wasn’t exactly something he had a lot of at the moment, but he needed to eat, so he made his way to the kitchen, making some toast and grabbing some juice. Vanderwood set some out for her as well, not sure if she had eaten yet but guessing that she hadn’t. When she was done with her shower they’d just switch places, and then he could get delightfully clean. After that, back to her place. The thought of taking her home wasn’t one he was a fan of either, but she did need to be in her own place.

His thoughts stilled for a moment as he remembered what had panicked him last night. Fuck…They’d need to talk about that. It wasn’t a major emergency, but the fact that it could have been was enough to tell him they needed to talk sooner rather than later. It was strange the way that after coming back from something so dangerous and stressful, a person slipped into their normal life as though nothing had happened. Before he’d just continued on with training, so agency life was what had felt ‘normal.’ Vanderwood snorted at his own musings as he bit into a piece of toast.

***

Cerise finished her shower quickly, getting dressed as quickly as she could, too. Her hair was still wet, but she could dry it later, wanting to check on him first. She wrung out any excess water and threw a towel over her head before heading into his room. Her eyes scanned the room, finding he wasn’t in bed anymore. “Marion?” Cerise called out and headed out into the kitchen, finding him there. She noted that he looked a little better, rested at least. “Morning. Shower’s all yours.” It would be silly to lie, she was still a little upset, but she had had same time to cool down. Sleep had definitely helped.

Vanderwood heard his name and perked up a little as she entered the room. “Morning…” His eyes scanned hers, checking to see if she was still angry, and it looked like she was, at least a little. “Thanks…I’ll be right back.” It would have been a lie if he said he wasn’t absolutely excited at the thought of taking a shower and washing off the dirt and grime. He chugged down the rest of his juice before wiping his mouth and giving the top of her head a quick kiss.  Vanderwood limped as quickly as he could into his shower.

Cerise gave him a non-committal ‘Hnn’ before she sat down and nibbled on what he’d set out for her. Even though he was injured, he was still thinking about her, making her breakfast. God, she was being a brat. Briefly she wondered where the red head was, but since Vanderwood wasn’t broken up about anything, she assumed he was okay. As much as they seemed to not get along, she could tell they cared about each other. There was no way Vanderwood would have let anything happen to him.

Vanderwood felt like he’d been in a dream-like state as he showered. It felt so good to have the hot water over his sore muscles, that and washing off all the grime. He tried not to think too much about the conversations they needed to have as he dried off and got dressed, packing up a little bag for himself before heading into the kitchen. “Want me to help you pack up your things, mon amour?” He was taking her home today…It felt a little weird, not that he was going to let her stay there alone tonight. The last time he saw her in that apartment, she was being attacked.

She had been a little lost in thought when he came back into the room and inquired about helping her. “Huh, what…?” She stared confused for a moment while her brain caught up. Right. The plan had been to take her back to her place when he got back. It had slipped her mind as a possibility, since he’d been so injured, but clearly, he was still sticking to the plan. That…probably shouldn’t have surprised her, considering how OCD he was. “Oh! No, I have it. ” For one thing, she wasn’t about to let him hurt himself helping her, but for another, Cerise had packed up most of her things already while waiting for his return, besides the things she knew she was going to immediately need.

He didn’t really have much of a chance to respond before she was moving the dishes to the sink and washing them. It was oddly homey, and he found himself wanting this every day, the time together at least. Vanderwood lightly touched the bruise on his jaw as she ran off to grab the rest of her things, feeling just a light twinge of pain. The formerly black bruises were now yellow and orange in color, so it wouldn’t be long before they were gone completely. It wasn’t even that long before she appeared again and stood in front of the garage door. “Ready when you are, Marion.”

It felt awkward to him, the way he was stiff completely unrelated to his pain as he helped her to the care. Vanderwood couldn’t quite place his finger on it, maybe all of the things that they needed to talk about were just…picking at him harder than he thought. As he was about to help her into the car, he felt like he needed to say at least something. “Hey…shortcake…” She paused and looked up into his eyes. Maybe she was ready to hear it now? He gently slid his fingers along her jawline, urging her to lock her eyes with his. “I really am sorry.” It wasn’t like him to apologize to anyone. Usually, he had nothing to be sorry for, but with Cerise, he was as vulnerable as he could ever be. “I love you, Cerise.”

His eyes were so genuine as he apologized to her, and she couldn’t help the way her heart responded or the relief she felt now as the anger had washed off of her. It’s not like she could stay mad at him forever. Cerise caught his hand and nuzzled into it before bringing it to her lips and kissing his knuckles like he often did for her. “I know…I was….I was just scared. I want you to be honest with me, even if the truth hurts.” Cerise moved to embrace him gently before she got ready to get into the car. “I love you too, Marion.”

His face lit up with blush at her simple little actions, those small moments feeling like they mattered more to him than anything else. “I’ll try my best. I’m not really used to…sharing my world.” He lightly stroked her hair before taking her hand to help her into the car as he liked to do. Maybe what he’d just said didn’t make much sense, but hopefully she understood.

It’s not that he really made a habit of lying, but it was far more often that he just lied by omission, because he had to, as much as he hated lies. Vanderwood drove in silence for a while, biting his tongue. There was still that other thing they needed to talk about. For the time being she was blissfully unaware, but it wouldn’t be long before she’d notice how agitated he was, if she hadn’t already.

Cerise was lost in her own thoughts as he drove. She hoped that eventually Vanderwood would open up to her more, maybe trust her. Yeah, she would worry, but at least she would have a clear idea of what was going on and what to expect. It was a complete shock to her when she’s first seen him when he came back, and she didn’t want that to happen again.

The silence was starting to become almost deafening. Cerise felt like there was something between them, something unsaid, and she wanted to talk, but decided to busy herself with her phone for comfort. The air seemed so strange. Did he want to talk too? She peeked over at him more than once, waiting for him to speak up.

Maybe it wasn’t the right time at all, but the thought was starting to become impossible to ignore, so Vanderwood decided to just get it out there. “I uh…I have to tell you something.”  He needed to tell her something? She tensed up a bit. What in the world was he talking about? “We kind of might have a problem…Well, I don’t think we have a problem…but the other night I got really distracted, and…I was so caught up in you I just, I uh…For the first time ever, I did something majorly stupid. ”

She was giving him her full attention, her eyebrows furrowing in confusion as Vanderwood was getting frustrated with himself. His words were having trouble working. Talking to Cerise about these types of matters was constantly flustering. It would be so much simpler if he could just come out and say it. “I almost forgot to wear a condom.” Oh great. Well, at least now it was said. He coughed softly, going back to biting his tongue as he watched for her reaction from his periphery vision.

Oh. Cerise was at a loss for words before she could gather her composure. It’s not like she remembered either…”I…uhh…” What was the correct response? She took in a deep breath. “I won’t get pregnant will I…?” Cerise internally screamed at herself a little. Obviously, he’d only almost forgotten, but now her mind was going down another path. “I think…I’m too young.” It was a little like having cold water dumped on her all at once. What would she even do if she got pregnant? She felt herself start to panic a little but tried to talk herself down from it. Nothing had happened, it could have happened, but it hadn’t.

“I…No, but…We should get you on some birth control in the future, just in case…I forget.” Vanderwood couldn’t stop biting his tongue, her comment that she was too young just making him think more about it. Cerise felt she was too young…but he wasn’t sure no matter how old she was if he could ever be a father. “I can’t…” He sighed heavily. She wanted his honesty, and she deserved it. “I can’t be a father. After Caleb…I mean…He died in my bathroom. I knew something was up, and I left him at my place alone. Had I been a better parental figure than I was a brother, maybe none of that would have happened.”

Vanderwood felt like his heart was crushing in on itself as he pushed his bangs back with one hand, keeping the other on the steering wheel. “I’m sorry. Really, I never thought I’d have anyone in my life again, and I certainly never thought I’d have a girlfriend or a family. I don’t know.” That was a heavy conversation to just lay on her. It hadn’t been meant to be that kind of conversation, just a suggestion to solve any potential forgetfulness.

He didn’t like it, the pain that he felt, and he liked even less that now she was stuck feeling it too. It wasn’t like he would run away if it ever happened. Vanderwood could never leave Cerise, but the thought of being a parent terrified him. Then again…No…Not now, and maybe not ever. His jaw was starting to get sore with how much he was biting his tongue. “I might not ever be able to give you that…”

Marion was clearly hurting so badly, and the air in the car was only feeling heavier, but at least he was telling her. That was all she could ask for right now. “Marion…” She listened to him talk, concern apparent in her eyes. “You were so young…a child can’t raise another child. You did the best you knew how.” Cerise put a hand on his leg and squeezed gently. “I can’t say I understand how you feel, and I’m not going to pretend that I do. You’ve been through so much, and I’ve been through so little…”

Her heart ached for him. What happened with his brother was beyond his control, and Cerise wished that he could realize that, as hard as it was. Marion would probably beat himself up over it for the rest of his life. “I honestly….I never thought about it…but…” She paused, trying to search for the right words, “I want you to know that…all I need from you is yourself. That’s all I want. You don’t have to give me anything. ”

Vanderwood listened, not really able to bring himself to talk with the knot that seemed to have formed in his throat. What she was saying…It wasn’t wrong, but he would always feel like he could have done more, that he could have done something. His foot had gone off the gas, letting the car slow on its own as the weight of her words sank into him. ‘All I need from you is yourself. That’s all I want.’ He pulled over, and Cerise was about to ask him why, thinking that maybe she had said something wrong before he was leaning over to slide his hand along her cheek and kiss her deeply.

He needed this right now. It was like his heart couldn’t decide whether to disintegrate or to swell with affection, so it was doing both and he didn’t know what else to do except this. She made the pain bearable when any other time he would have been slamming his hand through something or finding some random woman to just bury the pain. Cerise made him see things from a totally different point of view, with a new outlook on life.

She relaxed into his kiss. It felt like it had been forever since they’d last kissed, and she’d missed it, missed him. Cerise returned his kiss with fervor, letting him know how much she cared and how much she had missed him. Maybe one day he would be able to see himself through her eyes and stop blaming himself, even though it was a lot to hope for. Whether he could or not, she would stay with him every step of the way.

Vanderwood felt choked up, something now burning at his eyes. Was he crying? He was honestly crying. Vanderwood kissed her just a little longer, having missed the feeling of her lips on his. This wasn’t like when he sought physical release to make the pain go away, the pain was still there…just it was somehow a lot lighter.

It was so different, letting himself actually bear the pain, but it also felt good underneath it all. Vanderwood touched his cheek as he pulled away from her, fingers coming away wet, snorting softly at himself. Really, this just wasn’t like him. He hadn’t cried for so long it seemed, and now, here he was, crying in front of his girlfriend. It wasn’t that he felt emasculated; it was just funny to him that after all these years she was what it took to break through his barriers. Seemingly, his whole life had been leading him towards her, somehow.

He pressed another kiss to her forehead, thumb stroking her cheek gently. “I love you. You’re all I need.” Cerise was surprised to see that he was crying when he had pulled away. If he was crying then…”I…” She started to sniffle as tears welled up in her eyes. “…I love you too.” It wasn’t that she was sad, she was actually really happy. Cerise just happened to be a sympathy crier. At least…that’s how it was at first.

Once she started to cry just because he was crying, she started to cry harder as all the emotions from the past few days came flooding to her. Her entire composure broke, and she wasn’t able to hold it in. Cerise didn’t care if Marion thought she was a baby or if she was being silly, she just wanted to be close to him. After flinging her seatbelt off she leaned over to throw her arms around his torso and bury her face into him, sobbing. Really…he was the one who had all these problems and emotions to deal with and here she was making a scene and being a baby.

Vanderwood pulled her close despite the pain as she’d launched herself at him, nuzzling into her in turn as he gently stroked her hair, muttering softly into her ear. “Je’taime…Everything’s okay.” He continued to mutter sweet words, not really sure of what else to do. This was another of those new situations where he berated himself for not watching more romance movies, so he’d have known what to do. Vanderwood wasn’t entirely sure why she was crying. Hell, he wasn’t sure why he was crying, but right now he just wanted to hold her close and never let go.

After today, he was going to ask her to marry him. He’d already wanted to, had already thought about it before he left for his mission, had wanted that domestic bliss of watching her do the dishes just today…Yeah…Tomorrow he’d get a ring, and then he’d find the right time. It seemed like he held her there like that for hours as their tears dried up, but he still didn’t let her go for a while longer, needing her close to him. “Je’taime, Cerise…Let’s get you home, so I can hold you even tighter.” That sounded cheesy but right somehow.

She didn’t know how long they were there, and she didn’t care. Marion didn’t judge her, he just held her and told her that he loved her. It did wonders for calming her, and she could feel her tears lessen until she wasn’t crying anymore. “…Je’taime aussi…” Cerise murmured into him and pulled back to put her seat belt back on, settling back down into her own seat. “That sounds good…” She was looking forward to potential cuddles, like she couldn’t get enough of just having his arms around her, sharing their warmth. It was a beautiful feeling that she didn’t think she could get tired of ever. Cerise leaned against the window and closed her eyes. The trip wouldn’t be long, but a little relaxation never hurt anyone, and she even opted to ignore her rapidly buzzing phone.

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Mystic Messenger Fanfiction | VanderwoodxOC Cerise – Tagged | One More Day

“If you don’t come back…I will absolutely never forgive you. ” Marion had better make good on that promise because she couldn’t imagine losing him, especially this soon. Cerise scooted closer to him and nuzzled into his shoulder. “I love you, Marion. You better come back.”

***They…did the do, le gasp. I’m just digging how that ends up affecting the two of them after the fact. Heads up! I am dropping an unrelated Hidden Scene called Otome Wings (patron only) in which Cerise finds an otome game of her father and his band mate for some lulz. So patrons, go check that out. ~Let’s Connect! FFC***

*Remember, this is a sequel to Vanderwood Backstory, and Cerise has a bio. R-Rated Scenes are no longer going to have a password attached to them now as I simply am not able to keep up with it. Yep, I suck, lol, but there is a legal disclaimer and warning in place now. You can support my writing on patreon and get access to my VIP Discord Server or other goodies like early chapter releases and hidden scenes.  Tagged Chapter Directory*

There was a bird singing outside his window. Vanderwood grumbled at the sound, opening his eyes slowly. It was still pretty early in the morning. Cerise was warm against his chest, and he could feel her breathing softly against him. A smile spread across his face. This was maybe the first time in his life he was glad that he was such a light sleeper, so he could enjoy the sight of her just like this. His mind slipped to thoughts of last night, his face growing rather red as he felt a familiar little twitch. That was new, but she was naked in his arms after a night of lovemaking, so could anyone really blame him? Vanderwood moved away to brush his lips against her forehead, so he could get up to put on some pajama pants and start breakfast. Once he was done, he’d be able to get his revenge on the redhead, too.

She stirred after she felt him get up, taking a minute to actually open her eyes before sitting up slowly. Cerise realized that she was still very naked and quickly pulled the blanket up to cover herself…Was that silly? It’s not like he hadn’t seen her…despite that, she kept a hold on it before greeting him, golden eyes finding him near his closet. “Good morning, mon amour~”

He was putting his pants on as she called out to him to say good morning. God that felt great, having her greet him in the morning. She grinned at him and then she noticed something that caused her to blush up to her ears. He was…he had…Oh God. Cerise don’t do it…please for the love of…”….Vanderwoody.” WHY. ARE. YOU. LIKE. THIS?

Vanderwood had noticed where her eyes had gone and the blush that had been creeping up her face causing him to more hastily pull up his pants before…Vanderwoody. How did she even know the term woody? She never knew innuendo. “I…Um…Good morning…” Good God, was he supposed to be able to talk? Because that just wasn’t happening right now. Vanderwood was so red faced, getting his pants on as quickly as he could now, grabbing the little pile of clothes he’d made the night before and placing them in his laundry hamper. “I’ll uh…just be making breakfast.”

Cerise tried to refrain from laughing, but she just couldn’t help it…he was so flustered and adorable. She watched as he retreated from the room, hopping off of the bed once he was out of sight. Her bag was near the bed, and she grabbed some clothes before heading to the bathroom. With him making breakfast, she should have enough time for a quick shower. His bathroom was as plain as his room, so everything was easy to find. She turned on the faucet to let the water heat up a bit before she hopped in and enjoyed the warm water running over her before she actually started to bathe.

Memories from the previous night flooded into her head, and she froze for a moment. They had really done that…and she had enjoyed it. Cerise couldn’t keep herself from blushing as she scrubbed at her hair. How was she going to be able to look him in the eye or even function properly around him after that…? She hadn’t been fully awake when she saw him before he left to make breakfast, so the gravity of it all hadn’t hit her yet. Cerise sighed as she let the water finally rinse all the soap off before grabbing a towel and hopping back out.

As she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror she frowned. He had actually…liked her body? Compared to the others she had seen him interested in, she didn’t exactly have much going on in the asset department. Was he really okay with that or…no. Don’t go there, Cerise. He was getting better, and she shouldn’t think like that. Cerise shook her head to get rid of the negative thoughts and began to towel dry her hair and put on her clothes.

Vanderwood was trying not to freak out in the other room. Holy, that was so incredibly embarrassing. Why was he so embarrassed? That was a perfectly normal body function, right? He wanted to bang his head into the wall, but he busied himself with breakfast instead. Once pancakes and eggs were laid out on the table, he made some coffee for Cerise as well, placing cream and sugar by her plate. It was just a case of him being too observant, but he remembered how she’d reacted that first time they’d eaten together at the hotel restaurant when her coffee had been black. Vanderwood was always remembering the little things like that.

Now that breakfast was done, though, it was time for some revenge. He ducked into his room to grab his taser from its holster before he braved giving Cerise a quick kiss, his face turning entirely red thinking about the situation earlier. “Breakfast is ready…mon amour.” Now that he was certain he knew what the words meant, he attempted using them, hoping his pronunciation was right.

She had just finished brushing her hair when he’d appeared in his room again, and she’d automatically averted her eyes, so she didn’t really see the kiss coming as quick as it was. Her face flooded with red, and God help her, he was using that name and it sounded so sexy coming from him. Hormones. These were hormones. New experiences…

Vanderwood wasn’t sure why, but she seemed to be completely on a shut-down. Was it earlier? He felt so incredibly awkward as he left the room, with her following him out not far behind. Cerise thought she was moving a little robotically too as he walked her out of the room and into the main part of the house. No doubt, Cerise was wary of even leaving his room after the shenanigans the previous night, but the fact that he was right there and all she could think about was the night before and how amazing he looked and sounded, and oh God, how awful she was for spazzing over it. She sat down at the table and looked down, surprised that he could actually cook, and it looked amazing to boot.

He shifted awkwardly on his feet, fiddling with his taser. She seemed impressed or shocked by the food set out in front of her, and for whatever reason, that made him feel a little anxious to hear what she thought, but he had something to take care of first. “I’ll uh…be right back…” Cerise nodded as he took off down a hallway, guessing that he was going to wake up that weird guy who called himself Seven. She was beyond delighted to see a cup of coffee set out for her along with cream and sugar. Coffee could help her get her mind off of it. Coffee wouldn’t judge her or do her wrong. Coffee was her friend. Cerise set up her coffee the way she liked it taking a sip, and then she was in heaven.

Vanderwood was struggling with himself. It was difficult really, not thinking about last night and this morning, how he wanted her and the way she looked naked. He internally slapped himself. That was probably why she was acting so awkward, because she was picking up on his awkward behavior. Vanderwood pushed Seven’s door open slowly, not caring too much for the noise it made, as the redhead was generally a pretty hard sleeper, since he never slept until he collapsed.

Seven was delightfully coverless, and shirtless, which meant Vanderwood could put the taser right onto the guy’s lower back, and he did, turning it on and watching as Seven yelped in pain and surprise as the shock went through him. “That was for making my girlfriend cry. Breakfast is on the table.” He wasn’t about to wait around for a reply. Before Seven could start complaining too much, Vanderwood was already back in the living room, taking his seat next to Cerise. “Now that’s taken care of.”

Whatever blend her boyfriend had used was delightful, and she had been happily drinking her coffee when he appeared again, but she almost choked when he sat beside her, hyper aware of his presence, evident by the blush on her face. The coffee had betrayed her. She couldn’t even forget her hormones in its sweet and warm embrace…Probably because she would rather be in his embrace. Cerise that is not helping. WHY.

Cerise was so stiff that Vanderwood was starting to feel nervous. God, did she regret what they’d done last night? His mind slipped to thoughts of their night together, her sounds, the way she’d responded to him, that was a bit dangerous, as he adjusted himself in his seat and tried not to get another…Vanderwoody as she’d so lovingly put it. No, there was no way she regretted it right? Vanderwood slipped his hand to the nape of her neck, rubbing there as he leaned over to attempt to catch her gaze. “You okay, shortcake?”

Cerise’s skin jumped under his touch before she relaxed, but she was still rather tense. Her face turned completely red when their eyes met, and she averted them again after a few seconds. “I uhh…y-yeah. I’m great. So great. Thanks for asking. How are you? Did you sleep well? Are you okay? The weather’s nice, isn’t it?” Vanderwood didn’t even attempt to answer all of her questions. He simply couldn’t keep up with her rambling. Was she…embarrassed? That made him chuckle a little. Cerise was so damn precious. Later, when they were alone, maybe they’d talk about it, but obviously with Seven around, it wasn’t the time.

Seven eyed the two with a bit of a sour look as he entered the room, but it turned to a smile pretty quickly, even though he was sporting a little burn from Vanderwood’s taser on his lower back now. The redhead went to grab a bag of honey buddha chips, but quickly realized that if the big guy was already tasing this early in the morning, he’d better eat what he’d made so as to avoid another shock. He sulked at his spot on the table before deciding to look through his phone as he ate. What was this? Oh right, his file on the girl, Cerise…There were some pretty good video clips in there…Maybe he could get his own revenge on Vanderwood without ending up tased again.

Cerise laughed nervously as Seven sat down. This would at least be a good way to change the subject. “O-oh, good morning! It’s a good morning, isn’t it? Breakfast looks good. Do you drink coffee? You should drink coffee. It’s great. So great.” Yep. She had officially lost it, they both probably thought she was insane at this point, but she just could not stop the word vomit. Cerise made a small noise and tilted her head so that way her hair hid her face again. How could a person forget how to act like a normal human being?

Seven just started to laugh, his mouth full of food. “Your girlfriend sure is talkative this morning.” He wiggled his eyebrows at them, earning a glare from Vanderwood. “Close your mouth when you chew.” The redhead was unperturbed. He’d found the video clip he was looking for and scooted over closer to Vanderwood and his little lady love. “She doesn’t seem like the embarrassed type from this video.” Seven reached over and hit play, making sure they could both see the screen.

Cerise kept her head down and began working on her breakfast. The video would just have to wait. It was tasty enough to help her mind make sense of itself. She didn’t think she’d ever had pancakes that good, and the eggs were amazing too…Cerise now looked up to compliment him on the breakfast but Seven seemed to have actually gotten Marion’s full attention…”Video…?” She didn’t need to see what they were talking about to know…Cerise knew exactly what Seven had found. It’s not like it was a secret or anything…considering the video had been circulating on the Internet for a while now. It was essentially what made her popularity rise. Still, for them to find it while she was there made her sink down into her seat a bit. The video didn’t embarrass her in the least…she was proud of her skills…but she just wished they had found it literally any other time when her brain wasn’t mush.

Vanderwood at first had leaned away from the redhead, but then he saw Cerise on the screen and his eyes were riveted to it. Holy shit…She was a pretty damn good dancer. Seven chuckled, Vanderwood’s mouth was agape. Her comment didn’t even register, because he was just staring. “Isn’t she just absolutely precious? Think she’d give you a private show?”

Now Vanderwood’s eyebrow twitched, and he tilted his head at Seven threateningly. “How about you go be stupid somewhere else very far away from me?” There was something dark in his tone, a result of his anger at the thought of Seven thinking of Cerise like that. The redhead’s revenge had failed simply because he couldn’t keep his mouth shut. “If you’re here talking, you’re not at your computer working. So get there.” Vanderwood didn’t have to repeat himself. Seven grabbed his plate of pancakes and was off to work. That look in Vanderwood’s eyes was Hella deadly. Note to self, seriously stop messing with his girlfriend.

Cerise had stayed silent as they went back and forth until the red headed man finally disappeared. She glanced at Marion before quietly busying herself with her cup of coffee. Well…That had pretty much made Vanderwood’s mind up that he needed to get himself some social media accounts. She still seemed to be a little off. He wasn’t used to this whole relationship thing, but he knew he should probably do something. Vanderwood bit his tongue trying to come up with anything to say. “How’s breakfast?” Oh, small talk, yeah…That’s what she needed, sure. Her eyes found him again. “Breakfast is amazing, thanks…”

He was hopeless, so he started to fiddle with his phone, downloading a couple of the apps he’d seen on hers when he’d removed all of her geotags. Cerise raised an eyebrow at him. She couldn’t see what he was doing, but she had never really seen him use his phone for anything other than the occasional text or call. “You’re really a great dancer…” Yeah maybe that was more embarrassing…Vanderwood felt lost. Cerise just went red in the face again. “Thanks…I umm…used to sneak out a lot. Dance clubs…a friend decided to video tape me one day, and she put it on the Internet. It got popular, and boy, my parents were not happy. ”

He raised an eyebrow at her. “Sneak out?” Cerise tried to give a little shrug, at least she could manage this conversation without feeling like she was drowning in blush. “Yeah…my friends were a good influence. ” Vanderwood wasn’t sure if he found that endearing or if he was absolutely terrified at the idea of her sneaking out as a teenager. Was he just old or overprotective? “I can imagine your parents were pissed…” He really could only imagine. “My parents never gave a shit what I did.”

With a small sigh, she took a sip of her coffee. She guessed at least her parents cared enough to actually lecture her and make sure she was safe. Really, she couldn’t imagine parents who didn’t care. Cerise gave him a sympathetic look and squeezed his arm beside her. He was still messing around with his phone….What for though?

Fakebook and Instafram was what he’d decided to get for now, and they’d both downloaded, so he started on the profile. Why did they need all this information? Jesus…Seven was one Hell of an idiot for having these accounts all this time, but now he was no better…All because he wanted to look at his girlfriend’s pictures and videos. He found her accounts and hit the follow and friend buttons. “I um…sent you a friend request.” Now he was the one blushing. He’d set his profile picture to the one of him snuggling into her hair. That was such a couple-y thing to do, he thought? At any rate it seemed right to him.

Her questions had been answered once he mentioned that he sent her a friend request. Cerise grinned and checked her phone, finding that he really had….and the picture he had used made her heart melt. She accepted the request. Now she could actually tag him in everything! It was exciting, and she couldn’t wait for him to finally experience the joys of social media. Cerise glanced back at him. He seemed….tense? She couldn’t blame him, she was too but for probably different reasons entirely.

Vanderwood tucked his phone back into his pocket before he turned to her again, a deep breath he didn’t realize he’d been holding escaping him. “Are you really okay…after…last night I mean? It’s um, it’s okay if you don’t want to…um…” What was he even trying to say? “I love you, Cerise…I just want to be sure you’re okay with what happened…”

Cerise stiffened and put her coffee down to look at him. “I’m okay…I’m just…I keep thinking about it.” She admitted with her face turning red again. “I love you too, and I don’t regret it–what we did. I uhh…I’m not used to…” How could she even say it? Cerise took a deep breath and went to her phone, finding his contact information and sending him a text.

There was a rush of relief as she said she didn’t regret it, although he couldn’t fathom what was making her tense. Then she was messing on her phone, avoiding him again? `that feeling frm last night keeps coming back when ur around me` Cerise figured that if she couldn’t say it to his face, she could text it. Hopefully that would help.

His phone pinged, and he checked his texts. “Oh…” Vanderwood’s face turned bright red. Okay…so, if it was easier for her to talk to him about it over text, he would respond the same way. `I keep thinking about it too. That’s normal when you really care about someone.` That sounded about right. He didn’t know a whole lot about love, little to none really, but as far as he did know, being with someone you loved made the experience completely different, something to be treasured. At least that’s how he felt about it. Vanderwood bit at his tongue before he sent her another text. He would have gladly spoken these words aloud, but maybe it would be nice for her to see them too. `You’re the only woman I’ve ever felt this way about.`

She read over his texts and smiled. At least she was normal…and his last text made her heart feel like skipping a beat. It was much easier to talk that way, at least for the moment and especially when just looking at him sent her brain into meltdown. `I’m glad. I’m sorry it’s hard 4 me rn…ur just >///< n I’m… I’ve never had these feelings b4 u n now I’m a wreck n it’s sooo weird admitting this sort of thing.` Was it weird to talk to him through text when he was sitting right there? Or that she was having some major hormonal issues at the moment? Probably. Cerise hit send and glanced at him from the corner of her eye as she took another bite of her breakfast.

It took him a moment to decipher her message. He wasn’t used to text speak, no matter how much Seven used it to confuse him. Once he understood, his blush wasn’t going down, in fact maybe he was starting to have his own issues. Vanderwood coughed before biting his tongue, trying to get words to work right in his brain so he could answer her. It was a little strange talking to her through text when she was sitting right there, but maybe it was the best thing, because there was no way his tongue could work properly at the moment if he was already struggling with his head. `It’s alright. It’s hard for me too.` Quickly following that text because he realized how that sounded. `Not like that. Well…This morning like that, but you get the idea.` Wow, he could even manage to be a complete idiot over text. Congratulations, man.

Cerise was about to respond when another text came through and her face flushed more. Her thought process hadn’t even gone there until he decided he needed to elaborate. `omg well at least it’s good 2 kno that I’m not weird…lol I ❤ u n thx 4 breakfast` Even though she was still a blushing lunatic, Cerise held up her phone and took a selfie as she blew a kiss into her camera and then immediately sent it to him. It was strange considering he was next to her and literally saw her do it, but she felt like she needed to. She put her phone back down on the table and attempted to finish what remained if her breakfast and coffee.

She was so incredibly adorable. He kind of wanted to send a selfie back, which was weird, because he’d never done that type of thing before. Vanderwood worked on his breakfast for a while right along with her, although his thoughts even more so now kept slipping to last night and the fact that she was thinking about it too. She was even apparently reacting to him right now. Jesus, he shouldn’t be thinking about it, really. Well, there was really no helping it.

He almost turned to his phone when he was done to ask her if she wanted to go back to the room but realized he didn’t need it and could just open his mouth. “Shortcake…do you want to go to my room for a bit? Seven’s probably gonna want to leave for this mission thing soon, and we can talk about it in there.” He was going to need to lay just a couple of ground rules while he was gone, that was the only reason that he would really tell her more than just how long he would be gone and when he’d be checking in, right? No…he was just going to tell her everything, because he was a besotted idiot. Well…it really wouldn’t hurt anything for her to know anyway.

“Mission thing? You’re leaving?” That was probably the reason they had been talking the previous day…Cerise didn’t really like the fact that he’d be leaving to do something potentially dangerous, especially since she saw how often he tended to get hurt. “Just for a little while.” He got up to grab the plates and various items and put them where they belonged. The redhead wasn’t going to remember to put his plate away later so he’d have to deal with that before he left too. Fucking slob.

She finished her cup of coffee and clutched her phone. “Yeah…we can talk about it there. ” Cerise frowned. She didn’t want him to leave at all. At this point, she was so used to having him around and being able to talk to him when she needed to and generally being there with him wherever he went. God I’m clingy

Vanderwood bit his tongue and reached down to hold Cerise’s hand on the way back to his bedroom, blushing a bit as he did so. It just felt so nice to hold her hand. He’d never really thought of himself as someone who craved physical attention, since he never let anyone touch him, but Cerise was totally different. Once they were back in the room, he laid down on his bed and motioned for her to do the same.

Cerise had squeezed his hand when he led her back to his room, more to comfort herself than anything. Now he was motioning for her to lay with him…She tried not to think of what they’d done there last night, laying on her side, so she could properly hold a conversation with him instead of feeling like she was talking to a wall or ceiling. “So…mission.”

Vanderwood rolled over to take her hand again, it was easier to look her in the eyes this way anyway. Although he couldn’t help but think about last night, particularly now they were in his bed, which was real great of him. What a lovely one-track mind. He bit his tongue to get back his focus. “Yeah…It’s our own so we’re not on a deadline. Seven needs to find his twin brother before we can leave the agency, something about protecting him from the whole reason he entered the agency in the first place.”

His heart twinged just a little bit at the thought of Seven having had an estranged brother this entire time. He would have done anything to be able to be with his brother, which obviously would never happen. “I’ll be gone two days, and I’ll check in every twelve hours on the hour. A little extra here and there when I can manage it. If I’m gone longer than that…I’ll find my way back to you, I promise. I don’t plan on dying or getting hurt.” The latter probably would happen, but he didn’t want to worry her too much.

He’d already come up with his plans for how to get in contact with her and check in, even though he shouldn’t do that at all. Honestly having her around, he didn’t want to go anywhere without her, but there was no way she was coming along for this. He brought her hand to his lips and kissed each individual finger. “I’ll always find my way home to you.” Cheesy, but true. Wherever Cerise was felt like home now.

Two days was not just a little while. That was forty-eight whole hours…more if something went wrong. She felt for Seven having a brother he needed to rescue, and it sounded like he really needed Marion on his side to do it…otherwise she would have argued against it. Cerise really wanted to be understanding of him whether it was his job or his vices, but it didn’t mean that she didn’t worry. “If you don’t come back…I will absolutely never forgive you. ” Marion had better make good on that promise because she couldn’t imagine losing him, especially this soon. Cerise scooted closer to him and nuzzled into his shoulder. “I love you, Marion. You better come back.”

She had him snorting softly as he nuzzled into her hair. “Of course, I’ll come back. I have someone to live for now.” He pressed a soft kiss to the top of her head before he moved back to kiss her lips, feeling like he needed to. His hand slid into her hair, wanting to keep her close even as he broke the kiss. Cerise was his everything, and maybe he was getting a little carried away, but he couldn’t imagine losing her. He’d be more lost than he’d ever been. “Je’taime aussi, Cerise.”

She smiled when he answered her in French. He was amazing in his pronunciation, so amazing that maybe teaching him would be an easy feat…In turn, he could maybe help her become more fluent in English. Now it was her turn to slide a hand into his hair; it was her favorite spot. Cerise was glad to spend this time with him and kissed him back affectionately, more so now that she knew he was going to be gone for a few days. It still bothered her, but he had to do what he had to do.

Her emotions were still building up to a breaking point, though. She almost wanted to cry, but she would not be a little bitch in front of him right now. Cerise wanted to show him that she could be strong…except whoops she was crying a little anyways. Fail.

Was she crying? Vanderwood broke the kiss to kiss her tears away instead. His heart ached a little at the thought that this was his fault. She didn’t want to be away from him anymore than he wanted to be away from her. He held her even tighter. Cerise found comfort in his embrace, and she felt like she didn’t want to ever be away from it…more clingy thoughts, but she just couldn’t help it. At least he had stopped her tears, and Cerise thought that maybe he was better at this than he realized.

Vanderwood loved holding her like this, her hand in his hair, the two of them cuddled up together, and he certainly didn’t want to be away from her any time soon. Still, he had a feeling he would get carried away if he didn’t pull away from her, his imagination both a blessing and a curse. He gave her a quick soft kiss before trying to explain to her and failing miserably. “I uh…if I don’t…unless you want to…”

Cerise was giving him a puzzled look at his attempt to talk, and he was turning redder than an overcooked lobster. Why? Why couldn’t he be direct with her like he was with every other human on the planet? It wasn’t about the addiction, it was more…he was realizing even more so how much he appreciated her and wanted that intimacy all the more knowing that he would be gone and the danger he would be in. His face was so red from embarrassment, he would be surprised if she didn’t just outright laugh at him. “I um…do you want to have sex?” That wasn’t how he’d meant to say it either. He hadn’t meant to ask! Damn, he was useless. “I mean I need to pull away or I’ll want to…”

Oh. So that was why. She had been watching his attempts to talk with furrowed brows, but not it all made sense. Cerise found herself turning equally red then. Hadn’t they just…and he wanted to…again? They hadn’t even had time to talk about the sheets yet. Asking her had made her become extremely hyperaware of him again. “I…” Cerise looked up to him, catching his gaze with hers, blushing up to her ears. “I do. Want to…want you…”

Okay, deep breaths. Her response was equally disjointed, and she was blushing like crazy too, so at least they were both acting like fumbling teenagers. Vanderwood bit his tongue, trying to get himself a little under control. “Okay…” He stroked his fingers along her cheek and down over her neck as he gave her a soft kiss. “Okay.” she repeated. At least he was as flustered as she was…and it wasn’t like they hadn’t done the same thing the night before. “Okay.” If she wanted to, he didn’t have to be as worried, so he let that go, sliding his hand along her shoulder now and down her back as he teased her lower lip with his tongue.

(The following is an R-Rated scene. By reading this you acknowledge that you are of legal age to do so and absolve fanfictionconnection and all its admins of any legal ramifications in regards to underage consumption of NSFW content. Look for the next set of parentheses to avoid R-Rated Content.)

Just his simple touches now were making her body react in ways that were beyond her control which both liked and hated it all at once. Cerise let her hands rest on his chest, it was still weird trying to figure out what exactly she should be doing with them. She knew what he wanted when he teased her lip again with his tongue, it was one of the first things he had taught her. Cerise parted her lips to give him access if he wanted it as she let one hand slide up from his chest to his face, letting her thumb softly caress his cheek.

Vanderwood pressed his hand against the small of her back, pulling her as close to him as he could manage. She didn’t seem to know what to do with her hands, even though no matter where she touched him he wasn’t complaining. Maybe he should tell her that? He teased and played with her tongue, enjoying the way she could do it back now that she’d gotten more comfortable with it.

That’s when he heard a knock on his door and then it opening. Did the redhead have a death-wish? Vanderwood’s eyes were dark as he glared over at Seven who had started to talk. “We should really get g-” He was cut off by Vanderwood throwing his now ruined Arabic dictionary at him from the nightstand. The redhead managed to close the door in time not to get hit, by some miracle. Okay, make a note, do not enter before given permission. Cerise felt like she would die once the door had opened, but luckily Vanderwood remedied that issue quickly.  Seven seemed to be nice enough of a guy he just seemed to have a penchant for getting on Vanderwood’s nerves. Cerise could almost laugh at herself, seeing as sometimes she wasn’t any better…

Vanderwood bit his tongue and looked back to Cerise sheepishly. “Sorry, mon amour…” He nuzzled her gently before mumbling softly the thought he’d had earlier. “You know you can touch me anywhere…” His face was on fire again thanks to that, glorious. She nuzzled him back and smiled, glad that that was over with. There were worse times he could have interrupted, at least. “Oh~? Where would you like for me to touch you, ma moitié?” Whoa, Cerise. Not here. Not now. Why. Notnownotnownotnownotnow. Her face was about ten shades redder than it had previously been. She had now achieved ultimate redness.

He had no idea what the French phrase she’d used meant but he was as red as she was. That was forward, and he was totally unprepared. “I…uh…everywhere?” That was stupid but true. Still, he could be clearer. Vanderwood took her hands and laid them on his shoulders. “Just…start here and…explore…” Really this was entirely new to both of them. The few times she had touched him before were enough to tell him that no matter what she did, he would turn to putty, but he had yet to give her time for a full exploration. It was unfamiliar for him to be touched anywhere let alone everywhere.

It looked to Cerise like he was a little thrown off, but he was still trying to work with her. At least he had a little patience when it came to her random unfiltered outbursts. Still sporting a blush that would make a tomato jealous, she’d let him lay her hands on his shoulders. She hovered there for a second and then trailed her hands down his arms and then back up. “Like that?” Vanderwood tried to focus on breathing. Cerise had touched him last night, but somehow, it was just as good or better this time. Her fingers left little goosebumps where she touched, and he closed his eyes just to focus on what she was doing, enjoying it even more than he’d expected.

“Yeah…like that.” How could even the tiniest of touches send his heart into overdrive? It was a miracle to him that his heart was even working anymore. She then trailed her hands down his torso from his shoulders, stopping to explore his collar bone, then his chest, and down to his abdomen. Cerise spent time running her fingers down his side and to his back, tracing little words of endearment along the way. The way her fingers were starting to leave a burning trail had Vanderwood biting his tongue and then she’d kissed him so he couldn’t do that anymore. That was when she started to kiss along his chin and neck and his breath hitched so hard Vanderwood honestly thought he would stop breathing. His hand slipped back into her hair, wrapping some of it around his hand to bunch there like that.

Cerise started to give him a similar treatment to what he had done for her before, guessing that since she had liked it he would too, placing soft kisses before she was brave enough to nip and lick at his neck a bit…which reminded her. She trailed kisses down to his shoulder before she bit down. Hard. Vanderwood was lost in the enjoyment. Her lips were leaving an even hotter trail and then…a low grunt escaped him at the pain of her bite, but it also felt…good…which was a new way for pain to feel.

“That was for biting me yesterday, you jerk.” Her voice didn’t hold any malice, it was actually relatively playful. Cerise knew that he hadn’t done it to be mean, more to tease her. She was just giving him payback. Vanderwood had snorted softly, aware that Cerise was teasing him, making a smile break out across his face. “You sure you weren’t just laying claim to your territory?” Of course, it wouldn’t faze him much. He was even smiling at her…how rude. His next words had her a little more flustered. Laying claim to her territory? Why did that have to sound so appealing? She stared at him a little wide eyed, and she didn’t have a chance to respond before he moved to kiss her again.

He’d put his hand on the side of her neck to keep her where she was, kissing her deeply. She felt like when he kissed her like that, it was enough to infiltrate her very soul. Cerise noticed when he pulled away from the kiss that he was mimicking what she had just done, moving down along her jaw and neck, did that mean he was going to…it seemed like it, and she was somewhat nervous, although what he was doing was making it hard to remain tense because of the heat building in her body.

He teased in the crook of her shoulder with his tongue before lightly grazing his teeth over the matching spot to where she had bitten him, feeling the desire to leave his own mark. Should he indulge himself? “What if I want to leave my mark too? So the whole world knows you’re taken.” At least he hadn’t done it without warning. As much as she hated pain, for some reason the thought of him marking her made her feel a bit excited. “What a wonderful aesthetic that would be…” Cerise teased lightly and reached to move her hair out of the way, pulling it over her other shoulder. She wouldn’t be surprised if even he could hear her heart racing at this point.

She had again braced herself for the pain that she knew was coming, holding on to him as he pulled her closer before actually biting down. Vanderwood grazed his teeth over the spot once more, twice, giving her a little time to process what was coming before he held her to him, biting down, sucking so he didn’t have to bite nearly as hard. That possessive streak of his seemed to be purring with satisfaction at what he was doing, which was something he’d never done either. Everything with Cerise was a new experience. Cerise let out a soft cry but was surprised to find that it hurt in a much different way than she was used to. It was almost…pleasurable? Yeah…she was officially weird.

He pressed a gentle kiss to the mark, admiring it before he pushed a lock of hair behind her ear and kissed her again. Vanderwood was hopelessly addicted to her lips, hopelessly lost in their love, and he poured those feelings into that kiss as his hands drifted to the hem of her top. His kiss held both the hunger of his possession and his raw love for this woman who could make even the darkest of times feel like the world was a beautiful place, something he never thought it was before.

She wrapped her arms around his neck as he kissed her again, somehow that kiss felt so much more passionate and intense than any other he had given her. Was it her imagination? It was almost like he was wordlessly speaking to her, she wanted to respond to him, tell him how she felt through this connection. As soon as she realized where his hands where, she made quick work of her top and tossed it aside before she had her lips back on his. Cerise poured all of her spoken and unspoken feelings into her own kiss, letting her instinct tell her what to do.

The way she was kissing him now took his breath away. Was she doing the same as he had? It was like she was telling him too just how much she loved and cared for him. His fingers trailed along her sides, up her back, finding her bra and pausing slightly. Vanderwood broke the kiss, locking his brown eyes with her honey gold. “Je’taime mon amour…You’re my other half.” It had felt right to say, even if he wasn’t used to sharing his feelings with anyone; it had just felt right.

He’d wanted to say it before he went any farther, wanted her to know it wasn’t just something he was saying because he was on some high. Something in him had clicked and he knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her; he wanted to marry her. This wasn’t the time to make decisions like that, but he knew he was serious. Later…he would deal with that later when he came back, so he could tell her properly.

Cerise had stopped and took a moment to look into his eyes. How did he…she didn’t think that he understood much French. Where had he learned that? “Je’taime aussi…” she replied in a voice barely above a whisper. Cerise was searching his eyes a bit with her own for a moment before she spoke again. “Marion…how did you know what I said…?” It probably wasn’t the time to be asking and ruining the moment, but it had caught her off guard so much that it had just tumbled out.

“What?” He furrowed his brows. What she’d said…? Oh…earlier…The French term he hadn’t understood. “Is…is that what you said earlier?” She…felt the same way. Something was most definitely wrong with his heart…or really really right with it. Vanderwood felt something he could only describe as utter joy. He kissed her again and again, little short kisses before he peppered her face with them.

She tried to process what had just happened as he reacted. He hadn’t known? Vanderwood unknowingly said the same thing to her? Cerise felt her heart swell and a broad smile overtook her face as he peppered her face with small kisses. It was a warm feeling seeing him like this, so different than when she had first met him. It wasn’t so long ago but he’d seemed a little…dark, apathetic? She knew better now. Cerise knew him better now.

If he could have remembered what the French word she’d used earlier sounded like, he would have repeated it to her over and over as well, but instead he just kept saying, “Je’taime” and he did, he really did. This was most definitely one of the happiest moments of his life. He nibbled at her lip and her chin, going to kiss her neck and then the mark her had left earlier. Could life be any more perfect?

Cerise couldn’t stop smiling and just held onto him, holding him as close as she could while he went to kiss her neck and shoulder. Nuzzling into him and feeling his warmth felt like the most right thing in the world. This was where she was supposed to be. She didn’t even want to think about the fact that she’d have to be a few days without him.

Vanderwood couldn’t help the way he was feeling, and he wouldn’t have wanted to if he could. His hands were trailing along her body again, tugging her skirt away with just enough of a pause to make sure she was okay with that. It was enough to turn her body into a furnace, it felt like. She could feel the need that she had for him weighing on her now.

For Vanderwood, it almost felt like an epiphany. Right now, he wanted that closeness. He had wanted her earlier too, but it was just an even different kind of want now. Sex wasn’t just sex anymore. There was no denying that the hormones he’d always had were there. but it was something else now. too. Vanderwood ran a hand along her leg as the other once more found the clasp of her bra at her back. “You…still want this, right?” He wanted to make love to her and get as close as he could get to her, but Jesus, he needed to make sure she was on the same wavelength. It was the one thing he’d always at least prided himself on…consent.

Cerise let out a small laugh and kissed his cheek affectionately before she moved her lips to his ear, talking softly. “I want everything~” She didn’t have to scold herself for once. Those were words she had definitely meant to say, as forward as she felt they were for her. Vanderwood tensed, although not unpleasantly. Holy God, that had his body reacting, muscles clenching in anticipation rather than frustration. He nuzzled into the side of her face, nipping at her earlobe gently. “I’ll give you my everything.” Shivers made their way down her body when he nipped at her earlobe and with those words… Cerise felt that somehow his attention to her felt even better now than it had last night.

His fingers expertly unclasped her bra, removing it and tossing it to the side. Just like last night, the sight of her topless was absolutely breathtaking to him. Vanderwood kissed her shoulder again before trailing kisses down, teeth grazing lightly over her nipple before he teased at her with his tongue, wanting to hear her moan like she had for him last night. He rubbed her other breast, teasing over the nipple there with his thumb, not wanting to leave it ignored.

She couldn’t help but to lean into him slightly as he teased at and rubbed her breasts. Cerise had wanted to be quiet, since she knew another person was around somewhere in the house, and she wasn’t sure how exactly soundproof the walls were, but that just wasn’t happening apparently. It was like her body always had other plans for her while she was around him, and she ended up moaning louder than she would have liked. She put her hand over his, putting on a little more pressure to show him what she was comfortable with and what felt good for her.

From anyone else, he would have found the direct way she was showing him what she wanted irritating, but from her he was actually glad. Vanderwood wanted to please her. It was a total shift in mindset, one that he couldn’t help but to appreciate from himself. The more sounds she made the more he liked it, not even caring about Seven. The kid would have put his noise cancelling headphones on by now anyway. He pressed a gentle kiss to her hand on his, following her lead and letting her show him before he lightly nipped her knuckle and moved her hand away, so he could switch sides, showing her with his hand on the other side now that he’d been paying attention.

She bit her lip, still attempting not to make way too much noise as he switched sides. Despite her best efforts, some sounds still escaped. Cerise knew that he liked to hear her, but she didn’t want to disturb the other resident of the house too much…especially with something like this. She was delighted to see that he had actually paid attention when she had shown him something she thought might feel good, and it was even better without her assisting him.

Vanderwood pulled away to move lower, kissing her wound gently, causing Cerise to jump a bit. She was still really careful about it, because it was tender sometimes. He just moved on, after making eye contact, hooking his fingers into her panties and tugging the fabric away, taking a moment to just appreciate the view. She felt a bit exposed now that her panties were tugged away, and she fought every urge to cover herself up despite having done this the previous night. He’d seen her before…he loved her. She told herself she was okay as she took a deep breath and ran her hand through his hair affectionately.

He mulled over his options here, where he could go next, and he was more than ready to just take her…but with the way she still seemed apprehensive, he’d rather show her even further just how beautiful this intimacy was. He’d only recently discovered the beauty of it himself and wanted to share it with her. If she wanted everything…”Ready to try something new?” Something new? She only knew the basics of how sex worked, and she could have sworn they had covered all the bases…What else even was there? No matter, she trusted him in whatever it was that he wanted to show her. “I’m ready…” she answered, as she watched him curiously, wondering what else they would do.

He moved down her body and kissed her thigh softly. Her discomfort was probably a combination of being new to this, some insecurities still maybe, and the way she was being quiet, worrying about Seven. Those were all guesses, but he was pretty perceptive, and it would be better not to talk about it right now. Vanderwood certainly didn’t want to bring up the redhead, so he’d just have to get the sounds out of her by making her feel too good to remember. His hands slid along her thighs before he pushed her legs further apart, moving down to give her a teasing lick, pausing for her first reaction to this new sensation. She tasted even better like this than from his fingers, that was for sure. “Feel good, mon amour?”

Her eyes widened and her face flushed something awful. Had he just… It undoubtedly felt good, she was just surprised. Cerise had to figure out how to make words work again. Word, words, words…She ended up muttering something in French. Wait, no. Cerise shook her head. Wrong words. Focus. She didn’t want to ruin it by voicing her surprise at it, though he could probably figure as much from her face…”Y-yeah…feels great.” She felt like she might have been blushing harder. Her face felt like it was heating up more, anyways. Was that even a possibility?

Vanderwood chuckled a little. She was surprised, and that he had expected, but not the mumbling in French. Even during sex, he couldn’t help but find her adorable, beautiful and sexy, but adorable nonetheless. “I’m glad…I’ll just give you more then.” He made good on his statement, going slowly once more before he let his tongue explore.

This wasn’t entirely new to him, he’d done it maybe three or four times simply for the satisfaction of knowing he was good at it, but that had been irritating otherwise, making him obsessively wash himself off afterwards. This he was actually enjoying fully without the skin-crawling feeling. Her taste filled his mouth, and he wanted to memorize it. Vanderwood felt his erection throb but ignored it, wanting to take her closer to the edge before he did anything.

Cerise had put her forearm to her mouth, biting down on it to muffle herself. The entire concept was so strange to her, but it felt so amazing. She just had to ignore the fact that he was so close to her. Cerise lost her train of thought and loudly cried out when his tongue found her sensitive bud, teasing there and then sucking on her. So much for muffling herself. At that point, she figured even the Gods themselves could have heard that. The hand that she had been using to stroke his hair was now bunched up in it as he teased at her.

That cry and her hand in his hair, it had him impatient. He needed some sort of relief, even if he wasn’t done with her quite yet. Vanderwood pulled his pajama pants off and tossed them off the bed. Cerise wondered for a moment why he was stopping but didn’t complain as he got naked. Vanderwood simply returned to his place between her legs like he’d never left, tongue swirling over her clit.

He had one hand on her thigh, tracing little designs and stroking himself with the other, moaning softly against her. It served to make him want her more, but at least now he wasn’t in nearly as much pain. His treatment of her had Cerise arching a bit and curling her toes as she moaned out his name in complete ecstasy. Cerise had forgotten that she was supposed to try and be quiet. The sight he was giving her paired with his soft moans and his tongue teasing at her most sensitive area…she was sure that she was wound up tightly enough to break soon.

Cerise was feeling again like she had the previous night except it didn’t alarm her this time. She knew what the end result would be, and it made her want it even more. He pulled away from her before she could experience that feeling again, causing her to whine against him softly as he went up to kiss her. She could taste herself on him, and as strange as that sounded and felt to her, it made her desire for him grow deeper. It was still such a foreign feeling, and it felt so intense for her.

Now, he mumbled against her lips, positioning himself to thrust inside her, but wanting to tell her first. It felt like he just couldn’t wait, but he forced himself to, because this was so much more important. “You’re my everything, Cerise.” It was difficult to talk with as breathless as she felt, with as mesmerizing as his voice was when it dipped so low like this, but somehow, she managed. “…and you’re mine, Marion. I love you, ma moitié.” She gave him a kiss of her own and then nuzzled him affectionately. Cerise didn’t know she could feel that strongly about a person, but here she was. With everything in her, she loved and adored this man to her very core.

“Ma moitié.” He repeated it to her, running a hand through her hair before deciding that now was as good a time as any to give them both some relief. That was when he realized something was missing, reaching for it quickly and biting his tongue. Well, that was something he’d never nearly done. After…he’d deal with that after, because right now they both needed each other desperately. He slipped on the condom and pressed himself against her entrance.

Cerise moved her hips to let him know that she was ready, moaning at the sensation of being filled by him. Vanderwood wasn’t as slow as yesterday, although he did give her some time to adjust, moaning against her lips before he found a steady pace. She was expecting it to hurt again, but the pain hadn’t come the second time, and she was able to adjust to him much more quickly.

They were as close as they could get, and yet, he felt like he could never get enough of her. She was his, and he was hers. Nothing and no one would take that away from him. It was still so amazing to him the way she made him feel. Vanderwood craved her hands on him, kissing along her neck to that mark on her shoulder. “Touch me…” It didn’t come out like a command, more like pleading, but it didn’t upset him, how helpless he felt for her. Normally, helplessness made him need to clean or control every tiny detail of his life, but this wasn’t that kind of lost confusion and pain, it felt good to want her, need her.

He didn’t have to tell her twice; her hands were on him and roaming his body as soon as he had uttered the words. She moved so that she had access to his neck, not an easy feat considering their size difference, but she was athletic enough to manage it, placing hot kisses there as her hands found their way to his back, tracing along his skin like she was trying to memorize every inch with her fingertips. Cerise started to let her nails drag along lightly over his skin, liking the way it felt on her fingers, just a little more resistance that way.

Vanderwood closed his eyes, focusing on the sensations she was giving him. When she dragged her nails lightly over his skin, he couldn’t help but to curse. “Oh, fuck.” His hand bunched in her hair as he changed angles for her, knowing he could find and hit a spot that would make her feel even better. Hearing him curse made her feel a little smug, taking it as a sign that she was on the right track before she clung to him tightly with the change in angles.

She was sure that her nails were digging into him accidentally, but the feeling she was experiencing was almost too overwhelming for her. He had her gasping his name and crying out much more frequently. Vanderwood didn’t even mind that her nails were digging into him slightly, in fact it just made him curse again. Would she make him swear every time they had sex? Probably. Vanderwood never wanted it to end, even more so because he knew that he’d have to leave soon, but he wanted to be wrapped up in her for eternity.

Now that tight and tense feeling calling for relief was back full force, like she was wound up so tightly that she would break at any moment. “Marion, I’m…” Cerise was able to at least get that much out in between how much gasping and moaning she was doing. Oh, right. She was supposed to be quiet…It was obviously too late now, because she was the exact opposite of that.

Her sounds were winding him up even further, and he could tell that she was getting close before she’d even tried to speak. “It’s okay, mon amour.” He moaned the term of endearment more than he said it, feeling like he was about to break apart into pieces. “I’m…right there with you.” Holy crap, the way he had uttered that was incredibly sexy and it did nothing but push her closer to that release she needed.

Cerise reached her climax mere seconds before he did, burying her head into his shoulder as she cried out his name. Vanderwood was right there, waiting for her release before he let go himself. Being polite during sex was new to him, but it also was so rewarding, because her crying out his name almost seemed like it tipped him right over the edge towards ecstasy in a totally new way. He stopped his motion as he came hard, crying out her name in turn.

She stayed there buried into his shoulder as she tried to compose herself, still clinging to him like she had before, both of them completely lost. He nuzzled into her hair as she clung to him, trying to catch his breath and get to the point where he could function like a normal human being again. Vanderwood pulled out to roll onto his side, bringing her with him, careful to avoid hurting her. Cerise let out a small squeak in surprise but recovered quickly, just wanting to nuzzle back into him, only to be momentarily disappointed. He’d shifted away to dispose of the nearly forgotten condom before he returned to snuggling her.

(End R-Rated)

Vanderwood pressed a gentle kiss to her forehead. “How was everything, ma moitié?” The tease had a little pepper of blush in his own cheeks, but considering that he was already flushed from their lovemaking, it wasn’t so bad. She kissed his cheek and ran a hand through his hair, smiling affectionately at him. “Everything,” She put emphasis on it like he had, teasing him a bit, “…was perfect. She swept his bangs back to place her own kiss on his forehead. “Thank you.”

He snorted softly at her teasing him in return. Vanderwood was going to marry her, no doubt about it. All he needed was to find a ring and the right time to ask. How long had they been together now? A few weeks? It hardly seemed sane, but that was definitely how he felt. Love…it was something he’d never thought he’d have, and yet, she made him feel like he deserved it. He’d told her he wanted to be with her forever, and that was as close as he could feasibly get, the intimacy they’d just shared just making him want it all the more. Trust him to think of getting married after sex. Jesus.

***

Seven removed his noise cancelling headphones, hoping he wouldn’t have his ears assaulted. It had been about an hour, surely, they were done. Thank God. Maybe with someone else he would have taped it and sent it to them as a prank, but with as much stress as he was under, Seven wasn’t feeling up to it. He was really antsy to get going, but Vanderwood didn’t seem in as much of a hurry. Apparently, wanting to be around your girlfriend would do that to you. The redhead shrugged and made his way to Vanderwood’s door, knocking but not entering. Okay, so maybe he could have just a little bit of fun. “Marion~!” He cried the name in a false French accent.

Cerise tensed up when she heard the knock, but she became irritated quickly once she heard Seven pretty much mocking her accent. She felt she really understood why Vanderwood wanted to tase him. Hell, she wanted to tase him at that point. The knock had already gotten Vanderwood irritated, but the way Seven said his name. His eyebrow twitched, and he pulled Cerise closer to his body, pulling a blanket over them as he called out to the redhead. “Leave us the fuck alone. Or do I need to tase you again?” Cerise snuggled into him, just letting him handle it. Vanderwood obviously had a way with words.

He was really just ridiculously irritated with Seven today. The kid was sticking his nose into everything. Granted, the guy was nervous and worried about his brother, which did relax Vanderwood somewhat in sympathy, but why did he have to keep being annoying? “I’ll be out in a half hour.” Cerise felt a twinge of sadness… half an hour…that’s all the time she had left with him. She still really didn’t want him to go, but she knew that he had to.

With soft grunt, he shook his head and nuzzled the top of her head, certain that the redhead had run off again. “Why did I take a bullet for that idiot?” Well, he knew the answer to that question. Vanderwood held his right hand out, noting the gouged and raised crisscrossing scars before resting his chin on the top of her head, stroking her back gently as he was lost in thought.

This wasn’t the time to be thinking about any of that really…he should be enjoying what little time he had left with Cerise before his trip, and he had enough to worry about in the present. Cerise stayed quiet and just focused on the feeling of having him there warm and next to her while he stroked her back. He seemed to be lost in his own thoughts. Once he left, it would be the first time since the day they met that they would be apart for an extended amount of time.

Vanderwood pulled back to press a kiss to her lips gently. “I’m going to miss you…” She’d welcomed the kiss, always delighted to feel his lips press against hers, but the topic of conversation made her feel a little lost. “I’ll miss you too…only two days, right?” Two days still seemed like a long time for her, but considering the nature of their work, it was probably a short time to do a job, especially if it was complicated.

“Just two…” It felt like it would be way too long already, and he hadn’t even left yet. Time was ticking down every minute. “I’ll try not to get into trouble for you…and when I get back I can take you back to your place.” When he got back, he’d also be finding her a ring, something beautiful enough to match her. What was her ring size? Pretty small, he thought. Vanderwood nonchalantly took her hand and pressed a kiss to her knuckles. Definitely a smaller size. If he chose wrong, he could always get it resized.

Cerise wasn’t even sure what to think about the plans for when he returned. Back to her place…it felt like a strange concept. She hadn’t even spent but a few hours at her apartment before she was whisked away and on the run with Marion. Despite all the bad things that had happened, there were a lot of good things, too. If she hadn’t met him, there would no doubt be an unexplainable hole in her heart that she wouldn’t be able to fill. Cerise couldn’t imagine being without him now, as silly as it might seem, considering how long they had known each other.

After a little longer of just holding her, giving her the occasional kiss, he looked at his clock and groaned. The redhead was smart enough not to have come back right on the dot, but he’d be back soon enough. Cerise was content with the silent company for a while, it meant that she couldn’t say anything completely stupid and ruin the mood, but now he really needed to get ready, and as much as she would prefer he stay in bed with her, Cerise knew it wouldn’t be good to ask. Vanderwood gave her another long kiss before he got up to put on his clothes, strapping his taser on. She watched him get ready, like she was committing his image to her memory. “There should be food you can make while you’re here and what’s mine is yours.” He indicated his TV with his chin.

“Okay…I’ll try not to burn the house down while you’re gone. ” Vanderwood snorted pretty hard. He was pretty sure Seven had gotten closer to burning down the house than she was going to get. Now he crawled back onto the bed to kiss her again, deep and slow, unable to resist. Vanderwood didn’t want to go, but the sooner he left, the sooner he’d be back, right? She kissed him back eagerly, embracing him tightly as she did so. Cerise broke away and watched him for a moment before speaking. “Take a picture with me before you leave.” She hopped up and got dressed quickly before grabbing her phone. “This way when I miss you, I can open my phone and see you. ”

Her request had his heart completely melting, that now familiar fuzzy feeling in his chest making a smile break across his face. “Of course, mon amour. Make sure you send it to me too.” He wrapped his arms around her from behind, placing his chin on top of her head. “How’s this?” Cerise could move him however she wanted, and he wouldn’t mind in the slightest. Vanderwood had developed rather a liking for pictures…at least pictures with her.

She had honestly been expecting him to protest at least a little. Cerise knew how much he had disliked having his picture taken, but she was excited that he was allowing it and even wanted a copy. Cerise leaned back into him a little and smiled. “It’s perfect. ” She positioned her camera so that they were both in the frame and snapped the picture, checking the picture and deciding she was satisfied with the first take. It looked so natural. Grinning, she turned to show it to him. “I think it turned out good.”

“Anything with you in it is perfect.” Cheesy, but true; it just slipped out of his mouth without a thought. There was no point in worrying about how cheesy he had clearly become, because there was no stopping it. Vanderwood loved the picture. They looked comfortable and happy; they were comfortable and happy. He really didn’t want to leave, but it was time for him to go.

His heart was actually aching as he took her chin and gave her yet another long kiss, wanting to be able to remember the feeling of kissing her while he was away. “I’ll be back soon.” It took him a minute to actually let go of her and tear himself away. She was able to keep from letting herself tear up, not wanting to worry him right before he left, Marion was going to have more important things to think about if she wanted him to stay safe. The last kiss he had given her felt a little bittersweet. “I’ll be waiting…be safe.”

Vanderwood greeted Seven in the living room where he was lounging on the couch. “You were so ready to get going earlier, so let’s get going.” They had a long drive ahead of them, and he was just happy the redhead would be the one driving so he could text Cerise.

After sending him the picture, Cerise grabbed a pillow and held it to herself, sitting down and bringing her knees to her chest, burying her face into it. She just had to get through two days; she could manage that, right? There were plenty of things she could busy herself with, plus it wasn’t like she would have zero contact with him…it would be fine. It had to be fine.

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Mystic Messenger Fanfiction | VanderwoodxOC Cerise – Tagged | Addiction Free

Not for a single moment had he felt like his addiction was in charge of him. Cerise had given him a new lease on life, made him see the world wasn’t all bullshit and sadness. Vanderwood was well on his way to a happy life, one free from his addiction. For that, he would love this woman for eternity.

***Here comes some naughty naughty ;3 that y’all have been asking for. There are also three commissioned Cherrywood smuts that will be posted eventually on my website but are currently only available to patrons on my Discord with access to Hidden Scenes. Don’t worry though, you’ll see them soon too, if you’re patient enough. Enjoy you some loving Cherrywood. ~Let’s Connect! FFC***

*Remember, this is a sequel to Vanderwood Backstory, and Cerise has a bio. R-Rated Scenes are no longer going to have a password attached to them now as I simply am not able to keep up with it. Yep, I suck, lol, but there is a legal disclaimer and warning in place now. You can support my writing on patreon and get access to my VIP Discord Server or other goodies like early chapter releases and hidden scenes.  Tagged Chapter Directory*

Cerise was happy for the safety that his room provided, or at least…that he said it provided. Marion had never lied to her, though, so she had no reason to think they wouldn’t be safe here. Now that the lights were on and things were calm, she was able to get a good look. It was spacious enough, if pretty bare.

It looked like he kept only the essentials around, no decorations of any sort and remarkably clean. There was a TV with some movies, an open closet with what looked like both clothes and weapons readily available, and then a door leading to the side which she assumed was a bathroom. So, he could have just changed in there earlier and avoided the whole conveyor belt incident. Woops. There was also…a strange bar hanging from the ceiling which she now approached. It was way too high for her to reach, but she got his attention and pointed at it. “What’s this for?”

Vanderwood had been watching her take everything in, awkwardly rubbing at the back of his head before she asked about his exercise bar. “Oh, I use that for working out.” She had furrowed her brows, and he shrugged before the idea slipped into his head. “Do you…wanna see something cool?” Oh, dear God, he sounded like an awkward teenage boy. Maybe she would think he was ridiculous, but Cerise just chuckled, moving away and gesturing to the bar again. “Yep! Impress me!~” Was he really going to show off for her? No matter how much he protested that he wasn’t cute, Marion was absolutely cute.

The way she’d responded…it actually on some level made him feel nervous and excited at the same time. So ridiculous. He was completely ridiculous, and he could feel heat on his face as he jumped to grab onto the bar. It was tall enough for him to hang off of without his feet touching the ground so that he could do pull ups. Cerise watched as he flipped up onto the bar. Heck, just that was impressive to her. She didn’t think she could do that even if she tried…She’d probably just fall flat on her bottom. He made brief eye contact with her before he swung his body back and forth to get the momentum he needed before flipping up and putting his knees onto the bars. Usually, he did this shirtless, so he grabbed it just as it was slipping down to cover his face, pulling it upwards so he could see her.

A giggle had escaped her as his shirt had slipped before he corrected that problem, but it just made it obvious to him that if he was going to actually show her anything from the bar, he’d need the shirt off. He moved almost effortlessly, essentially doing a sit up from that position and pulling his shirt off, tossing it into his closet. Cerise could feel a blush coming on full force. After that, he honestly didn’t even need to do anything with the bar, she was already impressed. “You’re…really good with that thing.”

Vanderwood came back down from his sit up to just hang there as she complimented him, his own blush getting more intense. He had managed to impress her, and that gave him a little boost of pride. “Thanks, shortcake.” Looking at her upside down was a little odd, so he gripped either side of the bar flipping back down before letting go and landing on his feet. If she was already impressed, he didn’t really need to waste time showing her more when he was just going to work out again later anyway. He didn’t bother going to get his shirt. It wasn’t hard to imagine that she liked the view, and he liked that. “Think I’ve impressed my girlfriend into giving me a kiss?”

Her eyes followed him as he flipped back down. She had to admit it was pretty cool, and the body strength he had was beyond impressive. His question made her heart flip just a little, but she didn’t waste time in responding. “I think you have. Your girlfriend is…very impressed.” Cerise sheepishly giggled standing on her tip toes so she could reach up and pull him down to her to place a kiss on his lips. It was as if she had to climb a mountain any time she wanted to do something other than hug him; a lot of the time she really wished she was taller.

He kissed her back gently, bending down to meet her halfway, so she didn’t have to work so hard to reach him. Vanderwood felt like he’d have to get used to being bent over all of the time. Remembering how he’d helped her reach her pillow at the store they’d been to the other day, it gave him an idea. His hands went to her hips, looking into her eyes in question to give her time to decide. “Want a boost?”

Cerise had enjoyed the little kiss, flinching for just a moment as he put his hands on her hips because she was still worried about her wound. A boost? Was he wanting to pick her up? It probably would be easier for him to not have to bend down for her, for her not to have to stretch to get to him. Cerise thought for a second before grinning up at him. “I dunno…I’m really heavy, I’m not sure someone like you could pick me up.”

A soft snort escaped him at her sing-song teasing. To him, she weighed practically nothing. He hoisted her up, helping her to wrap her legs around his waist, putting an arm around her back and the other underneath her legs, blushing hard as he tried not to think about it too much. Proximity with her made his heart go insane. “Easier to kiss me from here?”

Initially, she had tensed up somewhat, afraid of the pain and possibly falling. She had her legs around him, he was holding her tightly, and she hadn’t felt a single thing, so Cerise was able to relax. Cerise put her arms around his neck, nuzzling him before giving a quick kiss to his nose and then his lips. If she tried that before in succession, it probably would have taken a lot more effort and bending. “Much easier. Plus, the view’s kinda nice up here.”

He laughed, it felt so good to laugh these days. It wasn’t that dry cynicism anymore. “Oh yes, and the weather’s always great.” Vanderwood found he quite liked holding her like this. He had a direct view of her face which he usually could only get when they were snuggled up together in bed. Vanderwood could look right into her golden eyes from here, almost getting lost in them, because they were just…”So beautiful…” He realized he’d said that aloud and blushed again. “You know view…of you…you’re beautiful.” Hardcore words failure as his brain malfunctioned. Wow. He was talented

Cerise had been laughing along with him at his silly joke but stopped when she heard his words absentmindedly slip. The grin was still on her face, accompanied by a blush now. Marion was starting to ramble. Obviously, he hadn’t meant to voice his thoughts, but it made her feel confident that he actually did find her beautiful and wasn’t just saying it just to say it. She couldn’t help but to giggle again. Sometimes Marion was such a spaz for being such a large, moody guy. Cerise kissed him as he went quiet, holding it a little longer than she usually initiated before pulling away, still grinning. “You’re really not so bad yourself~”

Her kisses were death to his heart. It felt like he could never get enough, and her compliment didn’t make his heart any more functional. Vanderwood was used to being considered attractive, pretty much any woman was all over him, but from her, it actually meant something. Vanderwood nuzzled her nose gently before brushing his lips against hers. “Thank you, shortcake.”

“Anytime,” Every time they kissed, it was like her heart was going to explode into a million different pieces. All he really had to do was be near her to make it skip a beat. She had noticed on that first day that he was extremely attractive (all her followers thought so too), but she never guessed that she would end up getting involved with him romantically. Marion really had so much more to offer than his looks, and she adored it all, even the irritated mood swings. Cerise was honestly surprised that he somehow managed to put up with her.

He snorted softly in amusement before kissing her again, not that Cerise minded at all. Sometimes she felt like she could do it all day. The feeling of kissing him was just so addicting. Cerise smiled into it and tightened her hold around his neck with her arms as she copied what he had done to her before by running her tongue over his bottom lip. Though she still had no idea what it had to do with the French, she wanted to show him that she was definitely learning and taking notes.

As he felt her tongue on his lower lip he made a soft little gasp of surprise, opening his mouth to her gladly. His heart had stopped and only started again once she was taking advantage of the opening he’d given her. She was proud of herself, obviously doing something right if he hadn’t pulled away from her yet. In most situations, Cerise considered herself a fast learner, and she felt that this was no exception. Cerise was taking full advantage of the opening, and it felt nice to just do it, without him having to explain to her how or why. She let her tongue playfully push against his, taking the time to be the one exploring his mouth for a change.

Vanderwood wasn’t sure he could handle continuing this while he was standing. His heart was an absolute mess. Usually he wouldn’t get so lost in things like this, but he was also usually the instigator. No one ever got to do this kind of thing with him. He didn’t want to have his focuses divided, careful as he walked backwards and waiting to feel the bed against the back of his legs before he sat down. It was a marvel that Cerise only mildly tensed as he’d started to move, but she trusted him completely.

Now she was right in his lap. That maybe wasn’t the best idea, because she was completely throwing him right now. He was so lost in her, his hand slipping from her back into her hair. Cerise’s own hands had moved into his hair too, running her fingers through the soft mess of brown. They’d made out plenty by now in the span of their short relationship, always with him guiding it and pulling away, but he wasn’t stopping her as she was taking charge.

The more she explored and tested movements with her tongue, the more she touched him, Vanderwood just melted into her body and soul. He was really only concerned about one thing right now, because Vanderwood knew any second that she was going to feel the beginning evidence of his excitement. He didn’t want to stop her, but he needed to be sure that she knew. They hadn’t been together long, but it had been a much longer time for him than he was used to since he’d last had sex or even gotten off, so the excitement was coming on fast.

Vanderwood broke the kiss, trying to untie his tongue but failing miserably, stuttering worse than he ever had. “Cerise if…you don’t stop I’m…gonna get…you know…” Holy God, what the Hell was he even trying to say? Of course. she didn’t know, phrases and innuendo weren’t really her thing. He was going to have to be clear about it. “Turned on…I….already kind of am.” Wait, did she know what turned on meant? Vanderwood felt like a bumbling teenager in the back of their parents’ car with how stupid he was acting.

She had felt a little disappointed when he broke their kiss, especially since she had just begun to get the swing of it, but the way he began to stutter and act was totally worth it. It took her a minute as she listened amused, but as soon as she realized what he was saying, she was turning red again. Cerise was having a little trouble fully processing it just because of how flustered it was making her. She had turned him on? Just the thought made her entire body heat up, so much so that she probably looked like a lobster. Cerise wasn’t able to look him in the eye for the moment and just kept a hand in his hair, still playing around with it. The bare wall was really interesting right then. “Do you…want me to stop?”

He bit his tongue at the feeling of her hand still in his hair as she looked away from him at the wall. They were both bright red at this point, but what she said had him thinking. He sure as Hell didn’t want her to stop, but he was more worried about her than anything. “Do you…want to keep going?” It felt like even his ears were on fire.

“I…might not want to stop if we start something…” His mind was now playing around with the idea, the thought of her, bare and beneath him. Vanderwood had to bite his tongue to shut his head up. Up until now, they hadn’t gone anything anywhere near sex. He’d been concerned about his recovery, about whether she was ready, so as much as he was sexually frustrated and wanting her, it was all up to her.

Cerise flickered her gaze towards him as he talked. “You…know….I haven’t…I’m not…” She wasn’t sure what she was trying to say. Of course, he was aware that she had absolutely no experience, that much was evident when they had kissed. Then there was the fact that she looked nothing like anyone he had previously been with. Insecurities started to build up inside her, threatening to spill out. She had to take a deep breath to calm herself. Closing her eyes, she rested her forehead against his. “I trust you…look how far you’ve come.”

What was she trying to say? Vanderwood was about to ask, when he realized what she meant. Right…of course, he’d known that. She clearly had no experience, and that was fine. He just wanted her, wanted her to feel comfortable. As she rested her forehead against his, he closed his eyes as well, fingers caressing down her back gently, meant to be soothing but probably conveying at least a little of what he was feeling right now. “It’s all thanks to you…I’ve never wanted someone like this before…” That was true. Before it had been all about the sex itself, not the person on the other side of it.

With Cerise, he wanted her, wanted to make her feel good, wanted to show her how he felt about her. “So…It’s a little new to me too…and I’ll be gentle, I promise…” Cerise was so small he would have to be, especially for a first time. He wasn’t entirely sure it wouldn’t hurt like all Hell for her; virgins weren’t exactly an experience he’d had.

It comforted her to know that part of this was new to him too. At least there was something that they could both experience together. Honestly, she had no idea what she was supposed to expect. Of course, she wasn’t completely oblivious…but the reality was that all she really knew was what she’d seen in her cartoon phone games and her telenovelas. She was pretty sure that they didn’t translate completely into real life. Her heart was beating in her chest probably harder than it ever had in her life. Was this really going to happen? Cerise had no idea what she was doing or what she was supposed to be doing. She liked to flirt and talk a big game but in reality, she was a clueless, flustered mess.

Vanderwood could tell she was apprehensive, unsure, but he wasn’t about to push her. “I’ll do my best to take care of you…so please don’t stop.” His hands found the edge of her shirt now, fingertips ducking just under the fabric to caress the skin of her lower back as he moved his head to hover his lips just a hair’s breadth away from hers, letting her make the final decision.

The way Marion was caressing her skin was comforting and helped calm Cerise’s nerves a little bit. He was letting her decide if she wanted to move forward with things; she could pull back now if she wanted to. Just the fact that he had given her that option showed her that he had made a great deal of progress. Cerise didn’t think she could turn any redder than she currently was as she closed the distance between them to pick up where they had left off.

His heart was trying to escape his chest as he kissed her back, giving her lip a nibble before giving her an opening to return to her exploration of his mouth. She took the opening like she had before he had stopped her, enjoying the feeling of getting to kiss him again. The knowledge of what she knew this was going to eventually lead to made her feel a little flustered, but she attempted to push it into the back of her mind.

(The following is an R-Rated scene. By reading this you acknowledge that you are of legal age to do so and absolve fanfictionconnection and all its admins of any legal ramifications in regards to underage consumption of NSFW content. Look for the next set of parentheses to avoid R-Rated Content.)

This was really going to happen, then? Vanderwood’s hands continued their caressing for a while, not wanting to move too quickly for her, even though he really wanted to see her without it. But patience was apparently not his virtue. It didn’t take long before the temptation was too much. Vanderwood tugged gently at her shirt before realizing she probably wouldn’t get the hint and lifting it just a little over her midsection, hoping that would make more sense, but he didn’t go any further, waiting for her okay.

Cerise felt him tug at her shirt and then begin to lift it before stopping. Was he asking her to take it off? That’s was what she figured, anyways. Their kiss was broken again as she removed her shirt the rest of the way, not meeting his eyes as she did so. Usually she was really confident in her looks, but right then she just felt so insecure. “That’s what you wanted…right?” Was she living up to what he was used to? Probably not…

“Yeah…” He wasn’t sure he could talk at first, leaning back just a little to take in the view as his heart stuttered and tried to restart. His fingers slid along her collarbone and then down, fingering along the edge of her bra. Somehow, he was acting as nervous as she was, but at least he had some semblance of what to do. Cerise felt goosebumps as he slid his fingers along her skin, and she thought her heart would completely stop when he went anywhere near her bra. He had mentioned before that he was getting turned on, and by now she could definitely tell that he was excited, especially with her legs still wrapped around him. Deep breaths…it did amuse her how equally red he was when compared to her, making affection swell up in her chest.

His eyes flitted to hers again, and he coughed softly, his face so red he probably looked like an idiot. As he ran his fingers along her skin, he gently covered her wound with the palm of his other hand. It hurt to look at it, knowing why it was there. She put a hand over his, silently telling him that it was okay. If he hadn’t made that decision, much worse could have happened to her, and she was thankful that it hadn’t.

Vanderwood bit his tongue before he did something he’d never done. He took her hand and gently placed it on his own chest. “You can touch me too…if you want…” She had to admit, she did want to touch him. Cerise had before touched his scars but the intent behind it was totally different than what they were doing now. “Alright…then…” She knew he was toned before, but now she could appreciate that he had a really nice body as her hands traveled around his chest and torso. Her other hand joined, and she would stop at any of his scars she would find to gently caress them. It hurt her that he seemed to have so many. Such a sweet man didn’t deserve that much pain.

His breath hitched in his throat every time she caressed his scars, his heart doing a strange little melting thing at the way her touch seemed so caring even with what they were building up to. Vanderwood felt like he would never get used to that, nor was he used to the tingling trail of heat her fingers left behind. Cerise was the only woman he’d ever let touch him like this, and he was glad, because he knew there was no other woman out there who could make him feel this way. His own hands having explored her torso moved lower, slipping onto her legs, shaping them as he traced little designs along her thighs with his fingertips, not entirely surprised to find that they were rather toned.

Cerise bit her lip for just a moment as his hands had moved to her legs. She was used to casual touches, but she had never let someone close to her in this way. At least it was him…She was glad it was him, that she’d never let someone else this close. Her hands moved along his toned abs, and she still couldn’t help but marvel at how well he kept in shape. He had always found time to exercise while they were on the run, so it was no wonder. His touches, while soothing, felt like they left flames in their wake. She began to feel like she was completely burning up, guessing that her being flustered had reached its peak.

He did his best not to grind his hips against hers, still wanting to move slow, even if his body didn’t want to. Vanderwood slipped his hand to her upper back, the other on her hip as he moved her onto the bed with gentle care to lie beneath him, the change in position removing some of the urge. “Is this alright?” He gently kissed her neck as he waited for her response, checking in on her just to be sure, surprised that he hadn’t been completely swept away by his desire for her.

His lips on her neck for that instant left behind a tingling feeling that she decided she liked. He had even been gentle when he moved her, which she was thankful for, because otherwise it might have startled her. “Yeah.” She nodded a bit for extra confirmation. “Everything is good…” Cerise gave him a smile accompanied by a wink like she normally would. With how flustered she was right now, it actually probably looked weird, if she thought about it. It didn’t matter, her main concern was letting him know that she was okay and not uncomfortable.

Vanderwood snorted at the way his body tensed thanks to that wink, just happy that she was feeling okay. He kissed her neck again, before giving it a teasing nip and then a tease of his tongue. She was right beneath him, letting him touch her, and the vulnerability of this moment wasn’t lost on him.

Cerise had never realized that being kissed somewhere other than her face could be so enjoyable. His teasing of her neck earned him a small whimper…too bad she couldn’t blush any harder than she already was…but she didn’t regret her decision to share this moment with him. Even though she could practically hear her own heart beating wildly in her ears.It felt like her heartbeat might deafen her when he started at her collarbone and worked his way down, seeming to want to kiss every inch of her skin.

He was loving the way she responded to him. This was the slowest he’d ever gone, but it was enjoyable, because it felt like he was getting to know her body. Vanderwood kissed further downwards until he made it to her bra, sliding his hand around underneath her to find the clasp, eyes locking with hers in question.

During that time, her hands had found their favorite place in his hair. There was just something about it that she loved and couldn’t get enough of. She could feel herself tense up. Cerise knew what he was silently asking permission for, it was just hard to get rid of that nagging voice in the back of her head that was saying that she wasn’t his preferred body type. She took a deep breath again, those thoughts had to be pushed away with the others.

Her face was so intensely red, she probably looked like a tomato at this point. Cerise shifted her eyes to avoid eye contact with him and slipped her arms through the straps to make it easier, giving him the permission he had asked for. Vanderwood bit at his tongue, thinking that maybe she was a little self-conscious. She wasn’t his typical type, but the sight of her topless took his breath away in a way no one else ever could.

After her bra was removed, she didn’t think she had ever felt more vulnerable in her life. It was like her heart stopped, and there was a complete silence while he traced along her skin there, her breath hitched when he did the same thing to her nipple…and then she was back to hearing her heart strong in her ears. “You’re beautiful, Cerise…I want you to know that…” He bent his head to kiss her breast. “Look at me…please?” If she was feeling self-conscious, he wanted to help her feel better, because there was no one as beautiful or attractive to him as she was.

Hesitantly she returned her gaze to him. His words did help her calm down a little. Marion loved her, she knew that, he was showing her great care and was really considerate. She was just really nervous and unsure of herself. “I’m…looking.”

Vanderwood locked his eyes with hers, those golden eyes he loved so much. “You are absolutely perfect to me, in every way.” His voice was soft as he moved upwards again to give her a soft kiss, his hand rubbing her breast gently causing her to whimper. When he rolled his thumb over her nipple, she couldn’t help but squirm. It felt so sensitive, and she wasn’t used to the pleasurable sensation. When he broke the kiss. her breathing became a little heavier and her body felt…strange. She couldn’t really explain it, but it was a good feeling. Was this what it was like to be turned on?

“Good?” Vanderwood felt the need to ask for the first time in his life. He was relatively confident in his ability to please her, if only a little worried, and he’d never paid this much attention to his partner before. Cerise reached up to caress his cheek lovingly, setting his mind at ease with her reply. “Y-yeah…good.” He nuzzled her hand gently, pressing a soft kiss to her palm. Vanderwood gave her another little kiss before he moved down again, pressing a kiss to her other breast. She didn’t tense up as bad the second time around, and she was trying her best not to be…weird? about things. What even constituted as weird?

The look in his eyes was intense, but loving as he once more locked their gazes. That loving intensity was comforting to her, but at the same time made her heart feel like it wanted to escape her chest. She ended up biting her lip pretty hard as he swirled his tongue over her nipple, because at this point she felt like her body was just trying to respond automatically to him. Cerise was not about to make some ungodly weird noises while he was doing anything, no matter how good they felt or how much she felt like she needed to.

Vanderwood built himself up to it slowly before he began to suck on her nipple, and now she failed completely, a moan escaping her lips on its own, seemingly beyond her control. It sent what felt like a shock through him right to his arousal, and all he wanted was to make her do it again while Cerise inwardly panicked. Was that weird? That had to be weird. People on TV didn’t make those noises. They were actually relatively quiet unless they were fighting? And they were covered with sheets if they even kissed. Oh god. Were they supposed to have sheets? It took a lot of concentration to keep from doing it again, but then Vanderwood switched to her other breast, and she ended up doing it anyways.

Obviously, judging from the small moans he’d gotten so far, Vanderwood figured he still had some work to do to make her more comfortable. It was getting more and more difficult to be patient now that he knew she was enjoying it, but he found he was enjoying it nonetheless. His hand traced along the band of her skirt now, telling her without words what he would be doing next, slipping his fingers into the elastic of her skirt. “May I?” Vanderwood was still doing his best to let her decide when things would continue.

His question completely broke her out of her mortified worries. “Umm…” Words…how did words work? How to make words and not weird noises? Focus…”I…yeah…you can.” Good, good. It was at least comprehensible. Vanderwood just snorted softly. How even in a situation like this could she be adorable? He pulled her skirt away, tossing it to the side before he ran his fingers along her leg, trying not to lose his ability to breathe as he looked at her. Now that her skirt was gone and the only thing she was wearing were her panties, the realization hit Cerise that she was almost completely naked in front of him. It was time for those deep breaths again. Everything was okay.

As much as he wanted to get straight to the point, Vanderwood knew it still wasn’t time. Particularly when she still seemed tense, almost as though she was fighting with herself. He could only assume it was the moans she was trying to bite back. “You don’t have to be so quiet, you know…I like your noises.” His voice pulled Cerise from her thoughts again. He liked her noises…? She was relieved that she wasn’t being weird, at least. The deep breaths would work if she could control her breathing…Which she couldn’t very well at the moment…especially now that he was kissing along her thigh like that, sending shivers along her spine.

He gave her a teasing bite, testing just a little where her limits were, he needed to know anyway, right? It wasn’t just for his enjoyment. Okay, maybe mostly it was. Now, Cerise shot him a look. Did he just bite me? He would get payback for that later, and she was about to scold him before she completely froze. Vanderwood had liked that look in her eyes now that he’d bitten her, but had finally allowed himself to touch her heat, running his fingers up to find her sensitive bud through the cloth of her panties. That’s when another very loud and involuntary moan escaped her. Cerise almost covered her mouth until she remembered what he had said.

That sound was so fucking heavenly, and Vanderwood shifted to nuzzle her nose gently. “Keep that up…It lets me know I’m doing a good job.” Wow, he was really finding his groove, or at least he thought he was really finding his groove until he locked eyes with her again and was blushing like a madman. At least he was still somehow managing to be smooth. The blush on his face was so deep, that Cerise couldn’t help but be a little amused. She would never not find that cute…but all of this and how good it felt wasn’t going to get him back for biting her. No face he could make, no matter how cute, could save him, not even how good what he was doing felt. Her breathing was definitely more labored now, and she couldn’t quite get it under control.

Vanderwood couldn’t handle how tight his pants were anymore, so he removed them, tossing them to the side. He left his boxers on, certain that if he took those off, his patience would run out. That, and he was certain it wasn’t polite to just get naked in front of her without warning. Her eyes had followed as he went to remove his own pants. Was it rude to stare? She wasn’t too sure, but she felt that as his girlfriend, she was allowed to. Something she definitely noticed was how excited he had gotten. It wasn’t like she couldn’t not notice, though she tried not to dwell on it, because she would rather not have a heart attack at the age of twenty.

His fingers found the elastic of her panties now. The fact that his pants were now off was not helping the heat in her body at all, nor was the way he was tugging on her panties. There was just this one piece of cloth left to have her fully naked beneath him. Vanderwood was waiting for her okay once more, giving her the control in this crucial moment. It was her last line of defense. His erection was so uncomfortable, even just caught behind his boxers, but this was her decision to make.

There was no going back after they were removed…that was it. Cerise contemplated for a moment before meeting his gaze with her own. Blushing wildly, she reached out to put her hand over his own to help tug her panties down just a bit, hopefully showing him that it was okay to move on, that she was okay.

He took her assistance to mean just that, removing her panties and tossing them atop the little pile of clothes he’d created on the floor. He took a moment just to look at her, his heart starting and stopping irregularly. “Absolutely beautiful…” His voice was more of a low whisper. This wasn’t just in his head, it was really happening. Cerise felt very exposed and a bit self-conscious, but he was proving time and time again that he loved her and that he would do his best to make sure he took care of her. She put her entire trust in him.

Vanderwood bent over her to kiss her again, more hungrily this time. Cerise met his kiss with a similar enthusiasm. He now rubbed her heat, nothing between his fingers and her, pulling away from their kiss so he could watch her face as he teased at her slick folds. She felt like she might as well have been putty in his hands with the way he was teasing at her. It felt so great, and she wasn’t as worried about not making noise. He’d said it let him know he was doing a good job, so she didn’t hold back, moaning out for him.

God those moans were making it so hard to be patient, but he needed to be sure that she would be ready. He paused and Cerise almost whined. “I’m going to put a finger inside you, alright?” Hopefully, this would help get her more ready for him. He was pretty big for the average woman let alone his petite girlfriend. Vanderwood just wanted to make sure it wouldn’t hurt too badly.

“Do it, just please start touching me again.” She moved her hips towards him, urging him to continue as she gave him a quick kiss. He had been making her feel so good that she didn’t even care about being embarrassed at that moment. Vanderwood bumped her nose gently with his. For a guy who knew what he was doing, he was so much more nervous with her. “It’ll feel good, I promise.”

As he pushed his finger inside of her, he was watching her face, moving it within her. After the initial foreign sensation of having his finger in her, Cerise felt he’d made good on his promise. It did feel good, and she let him know by moaning his name appreciatively. If she hadn’t been a squirming, moaning mess before…she certainly was now. Vanderwood started testing around, finding the places that made her moan the loudest.

At this point, his erection was damn painful. He ground it against her leg just for some relief, which had really been a bad idea as he let out his own moan, needing more. Cerise realized now why he wanted to hear her make those noises once she heard him moan for the first time, making her body heat up in the best way. Vanderwood bit his tongue and removed his finger placing it in his mouth and nearly moaning just at the taste of her. She panted a bit, watching him bring his finger to his mouth. It was a little confusing but also pretty hot. Anything he did right now just made her feel like a live wire.

His patience was running out at this point, but by now he felt she was ready for him, or as ready as she was going to get, because if he waited much longer, he wasn’t sure he could trust himself not to go too hard. He took a slow breath before reaching for his side table drawer, grabbing a condom from it and then leaning over to kiss her again, pretty much addicted to her lips at this point. Vanderwood mumbled softly against her lips. “Ready, love?” The boxers weren’t coming off until he had her answer, just to be safe.

She’d kissed him back and nuzzled her face against his, nodding. Sneakily, she reached her hands down to run a hand over his still concealed erection to tease him a little, figuring he was rather sensitive right then, judging by the way he reacted when he had rubbed against her leg. He gripped the bed as he felt her hand on him, making a sharp intake of breath. Now he just wanted her all the more. Cerise grinned a bit and kissed his cheek, “Ready, mon amour.”

His eyes were darker than usual as he gave her a look of his own, was that her payback for his bite to her thigh? Her eyes were so much darker too, warm honey. Vanderwood tried to focus on breathing just to get to the point where he could trust himself to be careful with her. Finally, his erection was free of his boxers and it felt both relieving and little terrifying, because Holy shit it was really happening. Cerise had been stroking his cheek up until he removed his boxers, but she couldn’t help gawking at him now that he was finally matching her state of undress. He looked so…could you use the word beautiful to describe a man? He was definitely sexy. It was still rather new to her to think about someone in that light.

It didn’t take him longer than a few brief seconds to expertly get the condom out of its wrapper and on. Then he was positioning himself over her, causing her heart to start beating almost out of her chest. His forearm was on the bed near her head, so he could still be close to her despite their height difference. This was it…They were about to do this.

Vanderwood rested his forehead against hers for a moment as his other hand found her hip. “This might hurt a bit at first…” He felt the need to warn her, even though he was sure she knew that already. Cerise had to admit that she was a bit anxious, but with him resting his forehead against hers, it was easier to push that anxiety away. “It’s okay…I’m tougher than I look.”

He took a deep breath before he moved, entering her as slowly as he could manage. His hand gripped her hip maybe a little roughly, but she felt so good. It was enough to make him lose his breath completely. Cerise didn’t realize she had been holding her breath as well before she gasped as he was entering her, trying to take a slow breath. It did hurt a bit, her eyebrows furrowed as she tried to get used to the sensation of taking him in. It felt so much different than when he just used his finger, and she could tell that he was adjusting to her himself with how roughly he was gripping her hip.

Was it his imagination or was this even better than any other time? Definitely not his imagination. It took everything in him to pause for her, allow her to adjust as he kept his forehead against hers. “Tell me when I can move…” It wasn’t normal for him to let someone else tell him what to do, but for Cerise it was a necessity. She ran her hands along his sides as she attempted to get used to him. “O…okay. I’m okay…it’s fine…”

Vanderwood nuzzled her, obviously it hurt, the way her voice was so small and the look on her face. Her hands on his side had his breath hitching again, but he just gripped the sheet below him a little harder. There was no way he was letting himself get carried away right now, as much as his body was screaming at him to do so, because it just felt all too good for him. The fact that it wasn’t feeling good for her yet was just a bump in the road, or at least that’s what he told himself. Did it hurt the entire time for women when they lost their virginity? How the Hell would he know?

Cerise was as okay as she felt she was going to be for now, but she trusted that it wasn’t going to continue to hurt, he wouldn’t have let that happen. “You can…” Her voice was quieter than it normally was, and she was sure that he could see she was visibly a bit nervous about it. When it came to pain of any sort, she was a bit of a baby. She told herself that this was going to be okay; she had been enjoying it so far. They just had to get through this small hurdle.

“Alright, shortcake.” It was still clearly uncomfortable for her, probably thanks to how shit her pain tolerance was. He was going to have to be extra gentle. Vanderwood kissed her softly as he moved, going slower than he probably ever had and letting out a low moan against her lips. It was pure torture for him that he couldn’t move any faster, but he just nuzzled into her neck now, pressing soft kisses there as he waited for her to get past the pain.

When he’d first started to move, she tried to focus on his soft kiss and how gently he was treating her. She could feel herself become less tense, making the pain she had felt subside while he nuzzled into her neck and started placing kisses there. It wasn’t long before she didn’t notice any pain at all, having it replaced by a pleasurable feeling. Cerise felt comfortable enough to move her hips against him a bit, testing the waters. It caused him to groan right in her ear and a small moan escaped her own lips. Yeah…definitely no pain anymore. Vanderwood bit down on his tongue. If she was moving against him, then the pain was subsiding, but he wasn’t about to risk it.

Cerise felt like she was really coming into her own now, and she wanted to make sure he knew too, just in case. “Marion…” She started, her voice was a little shaky, “…doesn’t hurt. Anymore…I mean. ” Vanderwood was thankful for her communication, taking his hand from her hip and moving it to the side of her neck, gently stroking her jawline with his thumb. “Good…I’ll move a little more now, then.” His voice sounded foreign to him, too low to be his with just a little hint of growl in the back of his throat. He wasn’t used to talking during sex, so maybe that was really just what he sounded like in bed?

Cerise brought her hand up and ghosted her fingers over his at the side of her neck before turning her head to kiss his fingers. His voice was a little huskier than it normally was, but Cerise decided that she liked it. “Okay…just…don’t worry so much. You’re not going to break me.” She didn’t want her inexperience to keep him from enjoying himself too. It was clear that he was being extra careful with her, like he was afraid that one wrong move would shatter her. If she could handle taking a knife to the stomach and survive, surely this should be a piece of cake, especially now that it felt so good.

Vanderwood picked up the pace from that agonizing slowness to something more manageable for him, hoping it would be good for her too and gritting his teeth as he moaned her name. It sent a shock through Cerise’s system, and she could feel her body reacting to something as simple as his voice. That was new too, usually he was incredibly quiet, but Cerise had him all wrapped up in sensation, completely different than just chasing the high. Vanderwood kept his eyes on her, not wanting to forget who he was with, wanting to watch her reacting to any change he made, so he could make her feel even better.

The quickened pace was a lot more enjoyable than the initial one for Cerise, and he seemed to be enjoying it more as well. She had loved the reaction she had gotten out of him earlier when she moved herself and wanted to experience that again. Cerise ended up wrapping her legs around him and moving her hips in rhythm with his. Moving against him felt even better, causing her to moan at the sensations. Cerise couldn’t even believe that she was in pain there at first when now everything felt so amazing. Fuck. She was a quick study, and he was groaning her name, cursing inelegantly. “Fuck, Cerise.” His hand that had been on her neck now buried in her hair, clenching in the silken locks.

That was exactly the reaction she had wanted from him, and Cerise couldn’t help but to feel proud of herself. It took a great deal of self-control for Vanderwood not to pull her hair and assault her neck, instead going for a light tug that gave him more access there. Normally for Cerise, him tugging on her hair would have made her mad, but instead, it felt right in this situation. She ended up baring her neck for him more, his treatment of it only ended up heightening the pleasure she was feeling.

He wanted to mark her up, a little confused at himself because he’d never done something like that, but he settled for nipping and licking at her pulse, not wanting to cause her pain when she’d just started to feel good. Vanderwood again changed the pace, adjusting the angle as well, taking advantage of how she’d wrapped her legs around him to go deeper.

When he changed his pace again and even the angle, Cerise loudly cried out his name and her body arched against him on its own. Her hand automatically went to her mouth to cover up her sounds before she had to remind herself not to, biting the back of her hand before grabbing a hand full of the sheets beneath her. She hadn’t expected it to be this good.

Vanderwood felt like he was getting near that edge already. The way she’d cried out his name, it was almost enough to drive him over it, happy to see her removing her hand from her mouth just as quickly as she’d tried to muffle herself. He wanted to make sure that she came first, somehow managing to untangle his hand from her hair before moving his hand between them to find her clit, circling and rubbing, causing her to moan out as he nipped her neck.

Cerise felt like there was a heavy weight within her body, wound up tightly like something was trying to get loose. It was a sensation she didn’t know how to explain; she just knew that she needed relief from it. She couldn’t call it painful, it was torturous though, in a way. The feeling in her body felt like it was getting heavier, wound up more tightly. She wanted to speak, to tell him what was going on, because she wasn’t sure if this feeling was normal, but all she could manage were moans and whines of pleasure.

His nips were getting a little harder, so he moved away from her neck, kissing her instead, raw hunger and need, but not for just anyone, just for her. She was his other half, it was just that simple. His body was clenching up tight, preparing for the climax he knew was coming. Cerise kissed him back with equal intensity, the best she knew how, before suddenly she had to tear herself away. The feeling she had building up inside her felt like it had suddenly and violently exploded, causing her to cry out and tightly cling to him as the feeling of intense euphoric pleasure swept through her body.

As she clung to him, he finally let go of the pressure that had built up in his own body, the dam breaking as his orgasm had him calling her name. It whipped through him harder than one ever had before, and it was hard to breathe in anything other than short gasps afterwards. Vanderwood leaned his forehead against hers as he tried to catch his breath. It seemed to Cerise that he was having just as tough of a time breathing normally as she was. She loved just being there with him, foreheads touching while they looked into each other’s eyes, trying to catch their breath. So…that was sex.

They’d just had sex for the first time. Well, more like made love. The thought was so strange and yet so pleasant to Vanderwood. It was a while before he thought he could speak again, just looking into her eyes as he waited, stroking her hair gently. “Je’ taime, Cerise.” He kissed her gently and then nuzzled her nose for just a moment as she responded. “Je t’aime aussi, Marion.”

(End R-Rated)

Vanderwood pulled away, discarding the condom before curling up next to her in the bed and pulling a blanket over the both of them as he nuzzled into her. He was only gone for a moment, but it still felt too long for Cerise, and she wasted no time before she was cuddling into him once he’d returned. There was really no reason to get dressed right now, so they could just enjoy this feeling for a little while longer.

He was still trying to wrap his mind around it. It wasn’t a high so much, well it was, but it was mixed with his adoration of her, and it just felt right. “You feel okay?” Vanderwood gently took her hand to press a kiss to her knuckles as he checked up on her. Her response was almost instantaneous. “Better than okay…You okay?” Even after what they had just done, she still felt a blush creeping up on her when he took her hand to kiss it. How ridiculous was that? She could almost laugh at herself.

“I will always be okay, as long as I’m with you.” Oh, good. He was back to being cheesy. His response made her smile and giggle a bit. Vanderwood just nuzzled the top of her head, pulling her as close as he could feasibly manage, and stroking her hair and back. “I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy in my life.” His heart felt so full, his chest so warm, and not just from the warmth of holding her against him. It felt so incredibly right, being with her like this.

“Me either…I’m happy I got to share this with you.” Cerise felt like she was significantly weaker after their lovemaking session. She wasn’t sure if that was normal or not but didn’t ask about it as not to worry him. If anything, she’d just Noogle any questions she had about it later. “I think…I’m gonna nap right here.” Cerise put an arm around him and cuddled into his chest like he was one of her pillows. She felt so incredibly happy, and it was like all was right in the world. Cerise hadn’t known him long, but she was positive that this was the person meant for her. She already loved him so much.

His hand kept up its gentle stroking of her hair and back as she yawned and let her eyes droop, sleep claiming her quickly. Not for a single moment had he felt like his addiction was in charge of him. Cerise had given him a new lease on life, made him see the world wasn’t all bullshit and sadness. Vanderwood was well on his way to a happy life, one free from his addiction. For that, he would love this woman for eternity. He listened to her breathing for a while, feeling like there was nothing better in this world than having her in his arms, before he drifted off into his own sleep.

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Mystic Messenger Fanfiction | VanderwoodxOC Cerise – Tagged | Seven’s Bunker

Seven was standing in the doorway to the house with a huge grin on his face as Vanderwood approached, standing close to Cerise. Something about the grin on the redhead’s face made the brunet feel on edge.

***What a day to post! Saeran route is officially available for Android users and my best friend is over at my place playing it, so we can experience the glory together. I’m hoping for a good route that I can do a continuation for in my Good Ending Continued Series. I just made it through Seven’s route again and am drafting the beginning of his version which I hope to start posting by March. Hope to see ya’ll reading that too~ Vandy will obvs make an appearance. Oh, btw, next week you get your first Cherrywood NSFW. ;3  ~Let’s Connect! FFC***

*Remember, this is a sequel to Vanderwood Backstory, and Cerise has a bio. Don’t forget to subscribe to the email list for access to R-Rated Scenes and my monthly newsletter. You can support my writing on patreon and get access to my VIP Discord Server or other goodies like early chapter releases and hidden scenes.  Tagged Chapter Directory*

After their most recent encounter with Marie, Vanderwood and Cerise had decided to take another day before heading away from the hotel, making a shopping trip to a store for Cerise to purchase some pillows that would make her more comfortable while staying at the bunker. (Hidden deleted chapter for patrons.) It was for the better that she’d be there until Vanderwood could leave the agency. She needed to be kept safe; that was his highest priority. Cerise was simply playing around with her phone during the ride, only putting it away once Vanderwood pulled into Seven’s garage. He locked the security system using the in-car controls before turning to her. “Alright, shortcake…Let’s get you inside.”

Honestly, he was feeling just a little anxious. Vanderwood had always been on Seven’s case that relationships weren’t safe for them, that they didn’t deserve it. Not that he thought Seven would complain, more like he had a feeling the redhead would somehow take revenge on him. Seven would definitely be weird and annoying, that was inevitable, and he rolled his shoulders back, already dreading the idiot’s behavior.

Cerise was just ready to stretch her legs again, eager to get out of the car. Once Marion helped her out of the car, she grabbed her cherry pillow from the back and held it with both arms as they approached who she assumed was Seven. He looked nice enough, and he was already smiling. Of course, Marion had warned her that Seven was a troll, but maybe he was exaggerating. Sometimes it seemed like Marion saw the worst in everything.

Seven was standing in the doorway to the house with a huge grin on his face as Vanderwood approached, standing close to Cerise. Something about the grin on the redhead’s face made the brunet feel on edge. “Ooo, I read in her file that she was short, but she is absolutely adorable, Mary.” And Seven was already pissing him off. Cerise shuffled, her nose scrunching up in displeasure. The first thing out of his mouth was commenting on her height?

Vanderwood was about to open his mouth to give the redheaded idiot a piece of his mind when Seven started to reach for Cerise’s waist like he was going to pick her up. Cerise stepped back, tucking herself a little behind him as Vanderwood felt something ugly stirring in his chest. Not only was Seven about to put his hand over her still healing wound, but the redhead was also about to touch his girlfriend. Vanderwood snatched Seven’s arm roughly. “Pick her up, and I will break your arm.”

Seven’s eyes widened somewhat at the tight grip. Holy…Vanderwood was mad. The redhead had seen him mad plenty of times, maybe even gotten tased on one or two occasions, but this was different. He frowned and pulled his arm away from Vanderwood’s grip, who let go, seemingly a little confused as well at why his reaction had been so violent so quickly. If it had been anyone else, Seven had a feeling his arm would already be broken. Well, no matter, just don’t touch the little lady, and he could still have fun. The redhead grinned just as wide as before at Cerise. “As you wish, Mary dearest. I’m Seven Oh Seven, good to meet you, Lady Vandy. I happen to enjoy your blog as of late. I might have a picture or two of my maid that you can add.”

She was glad that Vanderwood had succeeded in keeping his partner from picking her up, still sensitive where her wound was and not really interested in being treated like a child. Cerise chuckled nervously as the man introduced himself. “…Lady Vandy?” Apparently, he knew about her blog…not like it was hard to find it. Cerise glanced over towards her boyfriend who seemed to be in a state of irritation. She slipped her hand into his, giving it a little squeeze. Obviously Vanderwood’s anger didn’t deter his partner, and somehow, that was unnerving to her. “Uhh…sure, but I don’t think I know your maid?”

Vanderwood was already bristling, clearly not wanting Seven to show off his pictures, but when the girl took his hand, he seemed to get somewhat distracted. It was actually kind of sweet seeing the big guy with his girlfriend. He’d always thought Vanderwood wouldn’t be able to find anyone to grab his attention, for longer than a few hours anyway. Of course, it also stung. Seven found what he was looking for and with an exaggerated bow, held out his phone, showing Cerise the photo of Vanderwood and he dressed as maids. Seven was hanging off of Vanderwood’s shoulder in the photo, who looked very unamused.

Cerise peeked at the phone with her eyes wide, although as soon as Marion saw that photo, he snatched the redhead’s phone. “No. Absolutely not.” She had still managed to get a good look though, and now her mind was racing. Was that…was he…? Crossdressing, really? Just what sort of relationship did those two even have? She was horribly, horribly confused. Was this another part of his past that she didn’t know about? Cerise kept nervously glancing between Vanderwood and Seven even as Vanderwood handed the phone back to Seven, presumably after deleting the image. Was there more about him that she didn’t know?

Deleting the photo was probably pretty useless, since Seven likely had a million copies, but it at least felt somewhat therapeutic, even with his eyebrow twitching. Cerise’s hand slipped out of his, causing him to furrow his brows and watch her from the corner of his eyes. She seemed…shocked and lost in thought. Well, could he expect anything less when Seven had just shown her a picture like that? He’d have to deal with that later, once the redhead wasn’t around. Vanderwood slipped his hand behind Cerise’s back after giving Seven a little shove, getting a laugh from the redhead even as Vanderwood guided Cerise past him, grumbling. “Lay off, will you?”

He led his girlfriend to the couch, but Seven still seemed to be hovering. That wasn’t completely unusual. Vanderwood sighed and rubbed his face. “I’ll be right back, shortcake.” Cerise made a noncommittal noise. She didn’t even take out her phone when she sat on the couch as she tried to wrap her head around the situation and make sense of it.

Vanderwood broached the topic of leaving the agency, disbanding it even, but it seemed like Seven wasn’t entirely on board. It didn’t make sense to him. In all the time Vanderwood had known the redhead, Seven had always seemed like he hated what he had to do and the workload. Although, once the kid mentioned his twin brother, Vanderwood felt a tight pang in his chest. He hadn’t known. Well, he’d suspected there was someone that the redhead was protecting, but it made even more sense to him now. “Right, yeah, just give me a day to rest up then…I’ll help you find your brother and then we’ll get out of this.” The redhead seemed far more on board with that. It would mean field work, potential danger, being away from Cerise, but that was what it was going to have to take.

Vanderwood rejoined Cerise on the couch as Seven shot him a peace sign and left the house, with a grin that once again had Vanderwood questioning if the redhead was up to something. Cerise was still out of it, only shifting slightly as Marion sat next to her. She hadn’t been able to hear what he and his partner had been talking about, but considering that she didn’t understand what was really going on between the two of them, she wasn’t sure if she even wanted to know.

“So, that’s Seven. I took a bullet for that asshole.” God, he felt awkward. Vanderwood rubbed at the back of his head. He hadn’t addressed the photo yet, but with Cerise sitting here looking like she was going through the shock of her life, he was going to have to deal with it right now. “That photo…that was just us doing undercover work, and in no way do I do that normally, nor did I enjoy it in any capacity.” He wasn’t sure if she just had an issue with crossdressing or if she was having weird visions of him walking around in women’s clothing, but he wanted to nip anything like that in the bud right away.

Cerise had been about to ask him about the photo, but he had beaten her to it. His explanation made her sigh in relief. Okay, so that was one less thing she had to worry about…It wouldn’t have made her love him any less, she would have just had…a bit of concern. Knowing now that he wasn’t a crossdresser or secretly wanted to be a woman or something…It made the photo a lot more hilarious. He had looked really irritated in it too, like he wanted to kill somebody. “I think…” She started to laugh a little now, the hilarity of the moment really hitting her, “…That you might…pfft…look better in a skirt than I do.”

He had been waiting for her reaction, watching her, but when she finally did react, he wasn’t sure how to process that either. Was she laughing at him? And then what she’d said actually started to make sense in his brain. “C’mon, Cerise. I’m too masculine for that bullshit…” His voice kind of trailed off a little before he coughed and the rest of what he was thinking made its appearance. “Besides…no one could ever be better looking than you.” It was really true, no one had ever affected him in the way that she did. Her cuteness had been the first thing to strike him when he’d met her, but that had quickly transformed into the knowledge that he found her strikingly beautiful. Vanderwood rubbed the back of his head awkwardly. He needed a change of subject. Now that he wasn’t on a mission anymore and cigarettes were back on the table he also felt like he was getting a craving. “Do you uh…want to watch a movie or something?”

Cerise was still giggling, loving the way he was reacting. Maybe she would have to ask Seven if he had any backups of the photo later. She hoped he did, because she now found that she needed it. Grinning at the compliment, she gave Marion a kiss on the cheek before settling back down on the couch. “A movie sounds great. Let’s watch something you like.” Cerise was a little excited to see the type of thing he would watch on his own. So far, they’d only watched things together that she enjoyed.

“Um…” Something he liked to watch? Mostly all he’d ever watched was action movies and laughing at the crazy shit they did in the secret agent ones. Sometimes he’d complain about them totally flubbing something up…but if she wanted to watch something he wanted to watch…”I guess that’ll be a secret agent movie then.” The nerd in him had considered grabbing Niron Man, but he didn’t quite want to reveal just how much of a dweeb he was right now. He smiled sheepishly, getting up from the couch to grab a movie he’d watched several times and starting it up. Cerise just giggled at his selection as he worked on getting things ready. Did he like to watch secret agent movies ironically or something?

Vanderwood stretched and looked at the couch as the opening previews started to play. After being cramped up in the car all day, he really needed to stretch out. Maybe Cerise wouldn’t mind. His face filled with a little bit of color. “Shortcake, you think I could lay across the couch and you could uh…lay on my chest maybe?” Why was he being so awkward to ask such a simple little question? She tilted her head a bit at his request before smiling widely. “I’d love to do that.” Cerise wasn’t about to pass up an opportunity to snuggle up to him, no matter the reason, and laying on his chest while watching a movie sounded cozy and actually sorta romantic. She shifted out of the way to let him lay down, grabbing her cherry pillow from the cushion where she’d placed it and hugging it tight.

He stretched out onto the couch, making a soft groan of relief at getting to lay down and relax. Vanderwood was really getting into this lazy day stuff. He furrowed his brows, eyes scanning the room. It didn’t look like a pigsty…Had the redhead cleaned up on his account or for Cerise? Or was the redhead really planning something?

Once Cerise had settled down onto Vanderwood’s chest, he reached for the remote and started the movie. She could probably hear his heart skipping just a little as she’d first laid down, something he was starting to get used to when it came to her. Vanderwood stroked her hair and back gently, knowing she liked that from the time they’d spent watching TV in the hotel room. Cerise could hear the quickening of his heartbeat as she snuggled the cherry pillow trapped between them. She found the way his heart changed pace as she nuzzled him endearing as well as amusing. This man wasn’t playing when he said he had feelings for her, and it made her own heart beat faster. Cerise couldn’t help but to close her eyes despite the movie playing as he stroked her hair. She was a victim to the calming sound of his heartbeat. The way he was gently stroking her hair and then her back…who could blame her for having heavy eyelids?

He pressed a gentle kiss to the top of her head as he hit play on the main menu. This was so incredibly pleasant. His brows furrowed as a soft hissing got his attention. Vanderwood looked up, seeing the emergency sprinkler directly above him opening up. Shit fuck, and the next moment the sprinkler started pouring on them. He was pretty stuck with her on top of him, not wanting to move too fast and knock her off him to get hurt.

Cerise was just able to drift off when she was beginning to get soaked with water, causing her to shriek and jump up. Her first instinct was to protect her phone, so she shoved it in between the cushion and arm of the couch. It was already too late for the pillow she was cuddling in her arms. She looked up to see that all of the water was coming from the sprinkler above the couch and moved away from it to try and get out of range of the thing. “How do you turn this thing off!?”

Vanderwood was about to get more soaked than he already was. “Fucking…Just a second.” He pushed himself up and hopped onto the couch, reaching up to the sprinkler and manually placing it into the locked position, stopping the downpour. Everything was sopping wet, from his hair, to his clothes, to his girlfriend. His jacket and gloves would need some tending to after this bullshit. Grumbling, he hopped off the couch, pulling off the items and hanging them over a nearby chair to dry. This had to be Seven. One single sprinkler turns on and it happens to be the one right above them? Vanderwood turned to check on his girlfriend. “You alright, Cerise? Besides being wet, I mean.” His eyebrow twitched just a little. The redhead was going to get it. He didn’t know how yet, but he’d figure it out.

Cerise nodded and looked to the now soaked couch where her phone was hidden, approaching slowly just in case the sprinkler decided to come back on. She reached for her phone, scrunching her eyes closed tight before trying to press the home button and then opening her eyes to see if it had turned on. Thankfully it still worked and wasn’t damaged…but her poor pillow. Cerise squished it a little and water dripped onto the floor. She stared at it blankly for a moment before tears formed in her eyes. Once a soft, fluffy pillow got wet, it would never be the same again. She hadn’t even gotten to properly cuddle it yet! It probably seemed silly to cry over a pillow but dammit! It had so much cuddling potential! Cerise kind of crouched with the wet pillow and held it to her chest, not caring because she was rather soaked herself. One last cuddle for her fallen comrade.

He watched rather helplessly as tears formed in her eyes. Holy shit, his girlfriend was crying! What was he supposed to do? He felt completely unprepared. Oh, that redhead was so dead. Vanderwood just went with his gut instinct and crouched down next to her, pulling her into his arms with gentle care and kissing the top of her head. He didn’t say anything, not really one hundred percent positive on why she was crying, but he supposed that didn’t really matter at the moment. What was important was that he got her to feel better, and this seemed like a normal way to do that…right?

Cerise leaned into him and sniffled a little. “The pillow you got me is ruined…you’re not supposed to get them wet…” Vanderwood held her a little tighter as she sniffled. “I’m sorry, shortcake…” It seemed a rather silly thing to be crying over to him, he’d been concerned that it was something horrible. Well, maybe this was horrible in her mind. The harder Cerise squeezed the pillow, the more water dripped from it. It was like her pillow was crying too.

After a few minutes of silence, she straightened herself up and did her best to wring out the rest of the water from the pillow. She sighed and looked at it with a sad expression before turning back to Vanderwood who was starting to stand up now too. “At least I still have it so…that’s a plus.” Cerise shivered a little, reminding her that she was indeed still wet, and the room was a little chilly. “We should probably go get some dry clothes. “They were pretty damn soaked, and Vanderwood wasn’t about to disagree with her, definitely not when she’d just been crying. “Let me just go grab your stuff out of the car.”

He was thinking about how he would get back at Seven as he headed out to the car, grabbing her bag from the back. His eyebrow twitched as he heard something else, faint thanks to his hearing damage but… Was that barking? Oh no. Oh no, no. Vanderwood broke out in a run back to the living room.

Cerise had taken out her phone to write a status update while she waited when she heard shuffling. She looked around confused until there was barking. What looked like a tiny robotic dog had wandered into the living room and was barking at her. It was actually kinda cute, and she kinda wanted to…pet it? She had made up her mind to do so when Vanderwood came barreling back into the living room, yelling not to touch it.

“Cerise! Whatever you do don’t touch that dog!” What the Hell was the redhead thinking? That stupid fire-breathing guard dog could really hurt her. Of course, Seven was probably sending it out for him, but really. What the fuck? The dog was standing in the living room, facing the doorway as Vanderwood came in, and then it’s mouth opened, an orange glow visible. Oh shit. He ducked out of the way and ran to pick up Cerise, carrying her bridal style.

She had turned to shoot him a puzzled look before the dog’s mouth began to glow, and then he was picking her up and running off with her. It was hard for her mind to keep up. The dog started to spew flames from its mouth as it chased him. What was even happening…? “The dog breathes fire!?” She asked him incredulously. Was this normal for this place? It wasn’t long before the lights went out too, the only light coming from the glow of the robot dog’s flames. Now Cerise was panicking and terrified. It was like something out of a horror movie.

Holy Lord, this wasn’t good. He couldn’t remember the damn command for the mutt. Had Seven been banking on him remembering? Jesus. “It’s okay, just…gotta remember what ‘heel’ is in Arabic.” Vanderwood was going to strangle Seven. It was dark too, and he was having to think hard to figure out where his own room was. Cerise was in danger in his own damn house. He started randomly spewing the Arabic words he could remember as the dog continued to bark away. At least it was keeping its fireballs restricted to the floor. Vanderwood got to his doorway after what felt like running in circles for ages, placing Cerise and her bag inside. “Change here, I’ll take care of the mutt.” He closed the door as fast as he could to keep that dog out, running back into the living room to find his Arabic dictionary in his jacket.

Cerise stumbled around in the room a bit in the dark, her heart beating wildly and trying to calm down. She was worried but was sure that Vanderwood could handle it…being an actual secret agent and all. Still…that dog was scary. What dog breathes fire anyways!? She dug around in her bag to try and find some clothes to change into. She couldn’t really see, so she grabbed whatever. Matching was the least of her problems at the moment, and she just wanted to be out of her wet clothes. Cerise peeled off her clothes and replaced them with the dry ones she had randomly chosen. Just as suddenly as the lights had turned off, they turned back on. Did that mean Vanderwood had successfully defeated the scary fire breathing robot dog? She wanted to take a peek outside of the dorm but decided against it, because who knew after that what she would find?

Vanderwood had been stumbling around trying to find his jacket when the redhead finally decided to show a little mercy by turning the lights back on. He was probably laughing his ass off as he watched from the CCTV’s. After grabbing his jacket and rummaging around in the pockets, he was finally able to find the dictionary. It was soaked, but somehow, he found the right page. Vanderwood gave the command and the dog stopped completely, sitting back on its haunches and shutting down.

Such a quick fix for something so disastrous. He breathed a sigh of relief and focused on trying to catch his breath. There were scorch marks all over the floor. So that was why the house had been clean, why he’d used the sprinkler on the couch. Seven had been trying to keep from starting an actual fire or damaging anything important. The brunet’s eyebrow was twitching like mad, his skin starting to crawl as he looked at the mess. Vanderwood needed to clean…but then Cerise was probably worried. As much as he couldn’t stand the mess, his OCD making him itch like mad, Vanderwood started to make his way back to his room. She was far more important than the mess.

“Everything’s fine now, shortcake!” Vanderwood called out to her before he returned to his room, pausing before entering, not wanting to walk in on her changing like he had that one time. He knocked and waited for her okay before opening the door and going to her, taking her face in his hands. “Are you alright?” His brown eyes searched her gold ones as he ran his hands over her, looking for any injuries just in case, too focused on the task at hand to be flustered by it.

“I’m fine…are you?” He just nodded as he continued what he was doing. Cerise didn’t really care that he was dripping some water on her as he checked her over, she was just happy that he was able to handle the danger and get back seemingly without any injuries. Having him worry over her like this was sweet…even if having his hands run over her was a little flustering. She knew his mind wasn’t anywhere near that, so she didn’t make a fuss over it. “You should probably get changed yourself. I’ll wait outside the door.” It shouldn’t be a problem if the threat of the dog was taken care of. Cerise gave him a quick squeeze before she headed out the door, closing it behind her and waiting for him to change.

Vanderwood had been about to tell her that he had an attached bathroom, but she was already headed out of the door, and he was getting hit with a Hell of a realization. Only then did he realize that he’d just touched her practically everywhere. His face turned all sorts of red as he grabbed some clothes to change into, getting out of his soaked pants as well as his shoes and everything else. He could walk around the house barefoot just fine, so Vanderwood threw on just a t-shirt and some pants, praying to whatever douchebag of a God existed that Seven was done with his trolling game before joining Cerise just outside his room in the hallway.

When he finally reappeared from his room, she turned around to face him and couldn’t help but to blush a little. He was wearing normal clothes…just a t-shirt and pants, but somehow, he made it look extremely attractive. She was pulled from her thoughts when he started getting close to her and her heart felt like it was beating out of her chest. Normally she wasn’t this hyper aware of him or this flustered at the mere sight of him…What was going on? He was giving her a sheepish smile, trying not to think about the fact he’d just had his hands all over her.

His thoughts slipped to Seven, anger and tenseness slipping into him, worse the more he thought about it. He decided to focus on Cerise, knowing she had that amazing ability to calm him down…when she wasn’t irritating him too. A small snort escaped him at the thought. She was his everything, and he was really going to give that redhead some good payback, although he wasn’t positive on how yet. Vanderwood bent his head to give Cerise a kiss. Cerise melted right into him, her hands going to his chest as he pulled her closer. Was her heartbeat even wilder than normal? She didn’t have time to dwell on it.

The floor was moving out from under them, and Vanderwood broke their kiss just before it sped up even more. Fuck. How had he forgotten about the damn hallway conveyor belt? They tumbled, causing Cerise to shriek in surprise. Thankfully, she had fallen on top of him. Vanderwood grunted as he hit the floor, quick to wrap his arms around her protectively. Then the conveyor belt just stopped moving, having deposited them at the end of the hallway.

Once the dumb conveyor belt stopped moving, she attempted to check on him, because he was the one who had the pleasure of falling right onto the floor with extra weight on him. “Marion! Ohmygosh Are you okay?” Luckily, her wound hadn’t been disturbed much. It ached a little, but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

Vanderwood’s mind was turning toward revenge. Seven was so dead. He probably wouldn’t be home until late that night, but that meant he wasn’t going to get much sleep…Perfect. It really wasn’t time to think about that right now with her on top of him, though, and now she was fussing over him. He couldn’t help but blush at how she was checking on him, using his real name. It just sounded so nice coming from her. “Yeah, yeah, I’m fine, shortcake.” His hand found her cheek, thumb stroking gently. “I’m fine.” Actually, he was surprised that he wasn’t so tense that he couldn’t think, surprised at just how little effort it was taking to push irritation away in favor of caring for her and enjoying her presence. It seemed like the more he had gotten used to not using sex as a stress-reliever, the easier it was to relax normally. That felt so fucking good. No pun intended.

Cerise sighed in relief and smiled as he responded to her. The guy took bullets and being cut like a champ, of course a fall wouldn’t hurt him…but she still couldn’t help but to worry. Cerise nuzzled into his hand before realizing that maybe she should get off of him, so he could get up. She laughed nervously and stood up, blushing something fierce again. “I uh…thanks for breaking my fall by the way…”

That blush on her face was supremely adorable, and he immediately responded without even thinking. “I’ll always be there to break your fall…Just like you were when I fell for you.” Cheesy. He was going to have to get used to the fact that he sounded like an utter idiot when he was hitting on her. All other women, he was charming and sultry, but no, he was just a cheesy idiot with her. Vanderwood got up from the floor, briefly rubbing the back of his head where he’d whacked it, for once not rubbing it because he felt awkward. He was so sweet, and it was just making her blush worse. She turned around, so he couldn’t see her, rubbing at her cheeks…which was probably doing absolutely nothing.

He looked up at the CCTV directly above them and flipped it off. It was best to get the two of them out of any main areas of the house where Seven could enjoy watching his trolling through CCTV feeds. “Let’s head to my room…It’s safer in there.” Cerise nodded her head in agreement, hoping that maybe magically her blush would go down, as she turned to follow him back to his room. They were both stepping carefully, so as to avoid the conveyor belt. Yeah…his room was probably safer. She didn’t quite know what was going on, but she definitely didn’t want any more surprises from the weird house.

Vanderwood was busy hating himself for having moved into Seven’s house, but it had become impossible not to with the way the redhead had started slacking when that ‘MC’ joined the RFA or whatever stupid charity group it was that the idiot had joined despite the security risk. Could he really judge the redhead for the security risk anymore now that he had his own? It was better not to think about it. Honestly, it all felt a little like déjà vu, as though maybe he’d been through this route of things several times before. His scar from Drawl started to ache as well as his head, so he just shook his head and opened his door, holding it open to let Cerise inside. At least they’d be safer in here.

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Mystic Messenger Fanfiction | Tagged – VanderwoodxOC Cerise | Recovery

“Cerise…pretty birdy…won’t you wake up for me, please…” Fear and tears and pain were choking him so hard that he couldn’t do much else. “Please…”

***I had to take my bestie to the doctor’s yesterday, my parents were here last week, and then our server got a little cray cray, so today’s chapter is just a tad late, BUT things should be settling back to normal here soon~ I promise the naughty bits are coming, but you’re gonna have to put up with a bit more angst and fluff first. ;3 ~Let’s Connect! FFC***

*Remember, this is a sequel to Vanderwood Backstory, and Cerise has a bio. Don’t forget to subscribe to the email list for access to R-Rated Scenes and my monthly newsletter. You can support my writing on patreon and get access to my VIP Discord Server or other goodies like early chapter releases and hidden scenes.  Tagged Chapter Directory*

Her scream was playing in his mind, and he knew that he needed to call Seven to send someone to take care of Drawl, but Cerise was more important right now. He didn’t care about anything else except making sure she was okay. Vanderwood carefully cleaned the acid away, the cauterization of the wound meaning he wouldn’t have to stitch her up. Did her skin feel too hot? It was probably his gloves. Vanderwood pulled them off with a wince. His right hand was fucked up, probably a boxer’s fracture, but whatever. It didn’t matter. Nothing mattered, except her. He stroked her forehead gently after he’d bandaged her wound.

“Cerise…pretty birdy…won’t you wake up for me, please…” Fear and tears and pain were choking him so hard that he couldn’t do much else. “Please…” Who was he really begging? Her or God? Whatever God it was that existed…taking Cerise from him…no…This was definitely his own fault. But Cerise…It didn’t need to go out over Cerise.

She thought she heard someone calling out her name. It was hard to make it out with the pain she was feeling. Cerise slowly opened her eyes, her hands automatically moving to her wound, noticing it was dressed now. Her eyes eventually found him. He was stroking her forehead and…was he crying? Marion looked pretty rough himself. The feelings from what he had said started to rush back to her, and she wanted to cry again. “…You. Why…would you say…” Cerise winced a little as a wave of pain hit her. It hadn’t seemed like a particularly deep cut. “…why would you say those…things?”

She was awake. The relief of that washed over him, but it seemed like she was still in a lot of pain. How could he answer that question? “I didn’t mean them…You’re my one and only, Cerise…but I had to. Drawl is…was insane. He wanted to watch me in pain for you. But I needed him not to be watching me. This…” His hands trailed to the dressing he’d placed on her. “It’s all my fault…I should have remembered the taser, then you wouldn’t have come. I shouldn’t have gotten distracted…and there should have been another way.” His voice broke several times. He didn’t even know himself anymore. For well over a decade, he had trusted in his skills and abilities, the anal-retentive perfectionism that kept him and those around him safe, sticking to his duty and following orders without question because that was his purpose. This time he had failed, and he’d failed the one person who meant the most to him. “I love you, Cerise…” Vanderwood didn’t deserve her. He never had. And why…why was he only realizing that now?

There was no doubt that the man had been insane…that was true.  Marion’s reasoning made sense to her, but it didn’t make his words hurt her any less. Of course, she still loved him…that feeling couldn’t go away so suddenly. She was confused, and the pain wasn’t making it any better…plus the room was incredibly hot. It was hard to focus on anything that he was saying. She began to mumble something in French before she closed her eyes again, feeling incredibly tired. Her eyelids felt like lead, and she didn’t feel like fighting it.

Vanderwood furrowed his brows at her as he ceased stroking her forehead and instead felt it with the back of his hand. “Fuck.” She was burning up. Either she was having some sort of reaction to the acid, or it had done just a bit too much damage, and her body was trying to flush it out somehow. Not good. Vanderwood needed to find some way of bringing down the fever…Well…they had a tub in the other room and it was big enough. When fevers were this bad, body temperature needed to be brought down immediately.

Fuck. He pulled off his jacket, shoes and socks, everything else could stay on. She needed to get cooled down and quickly. The bandage would have to be redone afterwards, and he’d need to be careful to make sure that she didn’t start shivering because that would raise her internal temperature. There was a lot to think through and be aware of, but that was his specialty, if only he could keep from failing her now. Emotions and attachment shouldn’t make you lose your skills.

Vanderwood ran the bath, going back to pick up Cerise and take her with him into the tub. He cradled her carefully in the water, but he couldn’t leave her in it alone, so he held her there, praying the fever would break quickly. The water was the right temperature to even out her own, and Vanderwood hummed softly to her, not really sure what else to do. What he was humming, he had no idea, but he just hummed. It seemed like a good thing in the moment. Just as long as she wasn’t overheating anymore. As her outside temperature went down, he was able to un-stopper the tub with his foot. Vanderwood pressed a soft kiss to her forehead. Testing her temperature that way wasn’t reliable, but she did feel much more pleasant to the touch rather than burning.

After a few minutes she opened her eyes again, trying to focus on her surroundings. Someone was humming, and it was really comforting. Was there water…? She remembered she was hot before, but now she felt light, buoyant. The pain was still there, but it seemed that the water was numbing it some. Glancing up she realized that Marion was holding her, and they were in the tub. Had it been because the room was so hot? Nothing made much sense to her, so she didn’t try to think too hard about it. “You’re a jerkwad,” were the words that decided to come out of her mouth, strained and low.

He gave her a pained smile. Could he really blame her? He was a jerkwad…or whatever else she wanted to call him. “I know, shortcake…I know.” Now that she was awake with her fever seemingly under control, he could get them out of this tub. He was careful getting out of the tub with her in his arms, but it was a relatively easy feat for him with as small as she was. “I’m the biggest jerkwad there is.”

Vanderwood grabbed the fluffiest towels on his way out of the bathroom, throwing some over the bed before carefully laying her down and drying her as much as he could. His face was lighting up with color because he’d realized, he needed to get her shirt and skirt off. “I promise I’m not going to do anything inappropriate, but I need to get your clothes off of you.” Vanderwood was careful, he’d done this for Seven all the time when the dumbass got himself injured, but he was like his kid brother. She was different, and he was far more delicate, making sure to wrap the towels around her again quickly so as not to be a creep, save for the bandage on her abdomen which he redressed, peeking at the wound. It looked swollen and angry, worse than his had. He hissed softly at the sight. Cerise was in so much pain, emotionally and physically, and it was all his fault.

Cerise was in too much pain to really care what he was doing, not really aware of any of it or listening. As much as what he said had hurt her, she understood why he had said it and trusted him to do what was needed to help her feel better. He had said before that he was going to take care of her, and she was going to hold him to it. She would jump and wince every time he was around the wound, the dumb thing hurt so badly, but other than that she was in her own head. Is this what it had felt like for him? He had even helped her escape after Drawl had cut him…and here she was making a big deal out of it.

Though, she did suppose that his body had built up some sort of tolerance for this type of thing, all the scars and marks on his body. She had never been in any situations even close to that before now. It was taking some time, but now she was starting to come a little more into her own as she felt him tuck her in with some more towels and blankets. “Thanks for this…” She looked up at him now, able to keep her eyes open better this time. “Y’know…you’re…a big jerkwad but…” Cerise managed to reach out her hand to touch his arm, grinning weakly. “you’re…my big jerkwad.”

When he heard her voice again, he immediately searched her eyes with his. She was starting to be able to hold her eyes open better, it seemed, and that was a very good sign. He laid his hand over hers on his arm, snorting softly at her comment. Why did he feel like crying again? This time it was probably relief. He brought her hand to his mouth, kissing her knuckles gently, catching a glimpse of the bruising on his own. “What an honor.”

Vanderwood grabbed some bandages for himself, now that she seemed out of the worst of it. He wrapped up his hand tightly as he grit his teeth. Yup, definitely a boxer’s fracture. Now he only had a few other loose ends and his focus could be back on her where it belonged. Vanderwood sent Seven a text with his other hand, fumbling a little since his left hand wasn’t his dominant hand, but the other wasn’t in the mood for texting. Then he got up to grab some clothes to change, feeling that stiffness again from stress, that he tried to ignore.

Cerise had watched him moving around, taking in what information she could despite how tired she felt. Marion seemed to be injured somewhat too, and was doing something with his phone before slipping away. For just a split second, her mind tried to convince her that he was abandoning her or wore, but he wouldn’t have gone to all of the trouble to dress her wound and tuck her in if that was the case.

He’d returned now, moving to lay next to her and pulling her into his arms, careful to avoid the wound, although it still caused her to bite her lip. “Je t’aime, Cerise…Your big jerkwad loves you.” Despite the pain any type of movement brought her, she much preferred being in his arms. “Je t’aime aussi…Marion.” Vanderwood’s heart clenched, although not as much with pain. He loved the way she said his name…loved that she even said his name. It was almost hard to believe that was his name anymore, considering that everyone called him Vanderwood, but hearing her say it felt right. She felt right…so good in his arms. His body was tense, but relaxing. There was just his clothes and a layer of towels and blankets between them, but for once in his life his mind was clean of dirty thoughts.

Cerise tried to push the words he had said to the back of her mind as he was holding her in silence. If he didn’t care, he wouldn’t have gone this far for her. He had had every opportunity to take advantage of her had he chosen to, but he didn’t. Marion was careful and gentle with her, respected her. He had to care, his words now were the true ones. Another wave of pain hit her, causing her to whimper. Maybe she would try to go to sleep…at least that way she didn’t have to deal with it again until she woke up. She snuggled into him to the best of her ability and closed her eyes. Cerise wasn’t sleepy, she was just physically tired. It shouldn’t be too hard for her to ease herself into the world of dreams. Marion had nuzzled into her hair gently, clearly catching on to what she was doing. “Sleep tight, shortcake.”

***

Cerise didn’t know how long she had been asleep for. She instinctively went to grab for her phone, but quickly realized that she hadn’t been sleeping alone, nor was she in any position to grab for her phone. It was across the room. Her mind didn’t feel cloudy anymore, but her abdomen still hurt pretty badly. Cerise spotted her phone charging on the desk in the room, blinking indicating that she had things she needed to be attending to. It had been a while since she updated her status, and now that she was awake, she needed some distraction from what had happened the day before.

She tried to somehow wiggle out of his arms, but it was proving difficult. Every move she made hurt like Hell. After some careful struggling as Marion grumbled a little before his eyes flew open. She’d managed to gracefully tumble off the side of the bed, letting out a yelp as she hit the floor. The wound was starting to hurt like it did before, so she curled up a little, trying not to cry. Cerise wasn’t even going to attempt to get up now. All she had wanted was her stupid phone, not have a fateful encounter with the floor while she had a gash in her belly.

Vanderwood had been waking up slowly thanks to her wiggling in his arms, surprised that he had actually managed to fall asleep. His hand throbbed a little as he worked through what had happened before the fall and subsequent yelp of his girlfriend. He was out of bed quickly, bending to help her, his hand on her back as the other found her own hand. “You alright, shortcake?” And then he realized he was touching her bare back, his face turning red as he looked her over and realized that, yup the towels were off her.

Cerise felt her cut throbbing, even when she wasn’t moving it hurt. There was no winning with that stupid cut. Marion had coughed and looked away, causing her to furrow her brows before he was slipping his arm around her and under her arms to lift her up onto the bed again. That was when she realized that her towels were off of her, and she was sitting in her bra and panties while he was staring at the ceiling. “I’m going to grab you some clothes…What were you trying to get to?” Jesus, Vanderwood felt red in the face as he quickly handed her a towel to cover up again for the time being.

It was a good thing for Cerise that Marion probably couldn’t tell she was flushed, considering the small fever she was sure she still had. “…My phone.” She answered with her head down, pulling the covers to her to hide the exposed parts of herself that the towel he’d handed her didn’t cover. She would have just slid under the covers, but the amount of moving required to do that would not be fun with the bastard cut on her stomach. Cerise couldn’t even be properly embarrassed because of it!

Vanderwood wasn’t really surprised by her answer. Of course, it was her phone. He grabbed it before looking for something for her to wear, so she could use it while he searched, although Cerise just ended up catching a glance at his wrapped hand. Marion must have hurt himself during that encounter with Drawl. She remembered noticing it before when she was out of it too. For once Cerise wasn’t worried about her phone, she put it down beside her without checking it, waiting for him to return.

He’d decided that her clothes would probably rub against the cut too much, and it didn’t need to be further irritated. Vanderwood grabbed a shirt of his, it would be really fucking big…and the idea of her wearing something of his was kinda…Just get her the clothes, you idiot. “This should do it for now.” He snorted at himself before handing her the shirt.

Cerise had been ready to grab his hand to check on him, but he had just as quickly offered her his shirt. She nodded and slipped it over her head, pulling the rest of her hair through the neck opening. To say it was huge on her was an understatement…it practically swallowed her up. Vanderwood noted that she’d placed her phone next to her and wasn’t checking it. Her phone always seemed to have a ton of notifications, but he didn’t check them; it wasn’t his business. It was blinking pretty erratically, though, so he pointed at it. “Looks like I’m not the only one who wants your attention.” That sounded a bit cheesy…Why was he always cheesy?

She took this opportunity now that he was holding out his hand to grab his wrist and actually look at the bandages. “You hurt yourself…Are you okay?” His first instinct was naturally to tense and prepare to attack, but she was just…checking on him. Vanderwood’s face lit up with color and he rubbed the back of his neck with his other hand. “It’s nothing…just a boxer’s fracture. I kinda…broke my hand on Drawl’s face.” God, having someone actually give a shit about your injuries was a little embarrassing, not that Seven ignored him, but he certainly didn’t react with the level of care that Cerise did.

“Don’t worry about it…It’s fine, see.” He clenched and unclenched his fist, but it had the opposite effect than he’d hoped for as he winced at the pain. Okay, so it hurt to move it around too much. “Really…it just hurts a tiny bit.” Cerise raised an eyebrow at his wincing in pain. “Look at you, trying to act all tough…” She nuzzled his hand gently and kissed it. Cerise was most certainly going to worry about it; she cared about him, and he had hurt himself…but she was happy that he had punched Drawl to that degree. The creeper deserved it. She shuddered at the memory of that man’s touch, it was all sorts of gross, and she was glad he was gone. There was no telling how many people he had taken advantage of or murdered. Drawl was where he deserved to be.

Vanderwood bit at his tongue, his heart fluttering at her gentle ministrations. “I am tough…for the most part.” He was quickly realizing that he really wasn’t tough at all, at least when it came to her. Vanderwood bent to kiss her forehead gently. “I need to check your bandages…” Last time he’d looked, it had looked pretty bad. “Okay.” Cerise laid back and straightened herself out the best she could, so he could check her bandages, wincing as she moved. This was not fun, and she had no idea how he handled getting injured all the time. She watched him from where she was as he spoke to her.

“The quicker I can get you healed up, the quicker you can go back to normal life…although…” Vanderwood had been thinking about it already, but if he was going to keep her safe, he was going to need to leave the agency. He was too close to her now, and undoubtedly someone would know that he had kept her with him this entire time, figuring that she would know too much. “You’re going to need to stay with me for a little bit while I tie up some loose ends. Gotta get myself out of this job.”

Cerise had no qualms about staying with him, but she wanted him to be a part of her ‘normal life’ too. If he was just talking about this thing with Drawl, that meant their time together was coming to an end. He was her boyfriend now, though, said that he loved her, and she believed him. That had to mean he was going to quit the agency altogether, right?  “Job?” She asked him curiously, “The creepy stabby man thing or…the secret agent thing?”

He chuckled a little at her question, of course she’d want the full story from him. “Creepy stabby man is dead…I’m going to find a way to leave the agency, then you can be safer being around me.” He carefully moved his shirt up her body to get to the bandage, blushing furiously the entire time. If he focused too much on how much of her body he could see right now, he’d just explode.

Cerise had gotten out her phone to mess with while he was working on her wound as a distraction, but now began to realize the situation they were in as he moved his shirt up her body. He could totally see her underwear. She didn’t have a lot of time to be embarrassed, though because of the pain she was still in. She could stew about it later, but right now she just wanted to make sure that the wound she was given was healing correctly. Marion seemed to have had enough of them to know what he was doing. His face was completely red despite how focused he looked, and she couldn’t help but to think his blushing was adorable. Since he was focused on treating her, she silently snapped a picture and tagged it #blushyvandy putting the phone back down at her side as his ministrations were starting to make it difficult to focus even on that.

Vanderwood nimbly removed the old bandage. The wound was looking angry, but most of the swelling was down. She was still clearly hurting the way she reacted as he’d touched the skin of the surrounding area, so hopefully some numbing cream would help. “This might hurt a bit, but I promise it’ll feel a little better afterwards.” His focus was too much on her and not thinking about her in her underwear for him to have noticed the picture she’d taken.

He found the cream in his bag before gently rubbing it over the wound, trying not to apply too much pressure. Cerise had instinctively tried to shy away from the touch to her wound and winced when he rubbed the cream over it, but Marion was doing his best. Then he rebandaged it and pulled the shirt back down, relieved to not have the view of her panties anymore. “Better?” Cerise scrunched her eyes closed and focused on breathing while she waited for the burning to stop until it ended up hurting less than it had before the cream.

Marion seemed to be waiting for her response, and now she was relaxing, really feeling how much cooler and less irritated her wound was. “It…actually is. Thank you~” She grinned and pulled out her phone, showing him the picture she took. “You’re really cute when you blush like that.” Vanderwood loved that sing-song tone of hers that she was using, even if he wasn’t a big fan of what she’d apparently been doing while he was taking care of her. “You’re taking pictures of me again.” He said it before sitting down and actually taking a look at it, and he had to admit he kind of liked the way she wanted his picture and her comment just made that worse. “I’m not cute…” He was muttering, not wanting to make this any worse for himself than it already was.

Cerise felt a comment bubbling up and started to mentally scream at herself to keep her filter under lock and key. No. Nononono. Don’t you dare. “You weren’t thinking anything improper, were you~?” Cerise YES. She had obviously lost this internal conflict. Again. Vanderwood choked on his own air. “I…I wasn’t…trying to…I…just…” Brain glitch, words weren’t working. Damn it… Once he was reacting, her own fluster at her weird brand of flirting faded some, and she could enjoy the way he was losing himself. No matter how much he said he wasn’t, she thought that he most definitely was cute, especially right now.

Vanderwood just laid down next to her, ending up with his face buried in her hair. “Nothing…I wasn’t thinking anything…except for how beautiful you are…” His face was only getting redder as he couldn’t control his tongue “…and sexy…” He just kept hiding herself in among her hair, feeling a bit like a child, but at this point it was too late to go back anyway. “I swear I won’t touch you…unless you want me to.” Oh good, something sensible could come out of his mouth. Well, partially sensible.

When he’d buried his face into her hair, her hand moved automatically to stroke his hair as she laughed a little…until his next comment. It was her turn to completely flush red this time. She’d gotten beautiful before…but hardly ever sexy. Blushing furiously, she grabbed for her phone at her side while he continued to hide and talk and carefully took a selfie with one hand. She examined it quickly to see the picture of herself as a blushing mess as he was still snuggled and hiding in her hair before poking at him with her phone. “Here…if this makes you feel any better…”

The poke had him coming out of hiding from her hair, and he took the phone to look at the picture. She looked so incredibly perfect…both of them blushing like maniacs as he snuggled up. Vanderwood was quiet for a moment; he hated pictures, but not this one. “Send me that.” He realized it had come out as a command and coughed softly before trying again. “Please send me that…It’s perfect, I love it.” Vanderwood snuggled right back into her. “And I love you.” She was going to take some time to recover before he could take her home, quit the agency, start a new life, but he had a feeling that there were good things on the horizon.

It wasn’t going to be easy, in fact, maybe they would always be in a bit of trouble. Vanderwood tended to be pessimistic, angry, cold…but she’d warmed him to his core. He wasn’t sex obsessed and grabbing any opportunity to fuck anymore, and that was all thanks to falling in love with her. Cerise probably deserved better than him, really…but he wasn’t about to give her up.

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