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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Mystic Messenger Fanfiction | VanderwoodxOC Cerise – Tagged | Pretty Birdy

“You’re also warm, and sexy, and perfect, and pretty…so very very pretty.” Vanderwood wrapped his arms around her and pulled her into his lap. “Like a bird…pretty pretty bird.”

***So…I kind of got a little caught up in finishing a ZenRan commission’s first draft, but it’s only a few hours into Thursday, so let’s not split hairs??? Here’s the reason Vanderwood will end up with a bird tattoo, eventually. What kind of drunk did you think he’d be? Feel free to let me know in the comments! ~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***

Vanderwood pulled into the parking lot of the new hotel and grabbed the bags after helping her out of the car. His eyes looked over the parking lot, a little more paranoid than usual thanks to Jessica’s surprise appearance. A familiar looking man was standing at the entrance, and they made brief eye contact. Vanderwood could almost remember the smell of that nasty pimp. The pimp jumped and immediately started to walk out of the parking lot. Serves him right, nasty little prick.

Once they’d arrived, Cerise had made sure to stay close to him, probably closer than normal. If he was on guard, then she wanted to make sure she was right there, just in case there was a need to bolt. She thought she saw someone familiar, but the person was gone before she could really process who it was. It almost looked like…the gross smelling man at the diner. If that was the case, no wonder he ran away.

The memory made her smile, he had protected her so fiercely then and had even complimented her appearance. The heat started rising on her face. Great, that was probably going to be there for a while. Cerise kept her face down, letting her long hair fall over her shoulders to try and hide the fact that she literally was the color of what she was named after.

“We’re getting one room to share for now.” He said it more clearly than he’d thought he would be able to, with all of the current stress. Vanderwood was tired and on edge, but as long as nothing else happened, surely, he would be fine. And then he realized “Two beds. Of course.” Great, now his face was on fire. She was following him closer than normal, which was great because he would have been pushing close to her anyway, but also bad because it didn’t help the blushing.

For some reason, she seemed to be trying to hide her face with her hair, maybe something to do with the blush he’d seen building on her face in the car. Damn she was cute. Vanderwood led her into the hotel and to the front desk. “One room, two beds.” Right now, he was tired and just wanted to lay down, maybe even a little in need of a fix and just trying to ignore it.

After the incident at the other hotel, Cerise could see why he would opt for a single room. It honestly didn’t bother her, she enjoyed having company instead of being doomed to be by herself with little outside contact for days on end. Cerise continued to keep her head down, nodding when it was necessary to do so. Only when she heard someone shout Vanderwood’s name did she look up.

“Vanderwooood!” He turned his head to see a particularly bubbly looking Marie. The brunette was wearing a low-cut and tight as Hell dress showing off both of her assets. She bounced over to him and attempted to give him a kiss on the cheek, but he put his hand on her shoulder to keep her at arm’s length. “Hey Marie.” That was part of why she wasn’t one of his favorites. Marie was always far too familiar with him.

The look of this woman alone made Cerise blush more if that was even possible. Who wore something like that just casually in public? She wanted to laugh when she heard the woman’s name, but she was currently focused on how touchy she was trying to be with him. Her eyes flickered between him and the woman named Marie, the English namesake to his French name. They certainly seemed to know each other…Cerise didn’t want to be rude so she opted to stay silent in case they needed to have a chat.

His eyebrow was twitching again, great. Why did he have to run into Marie and in front of Cerise? He wanted her away from him, but the bubbly chick just kept talking. “Ooo, you seem so stressed. The last time I saw you this tense, Crystal and I had to tag team on our kne-.” Holy fucking shit. Vanderwood covered her mouth. “Don’t.”

He dropped his hand away and Marie tilted her head in confusion, for the first time taking in the fact that he seemed to be with someone else. Her eyes widened, and her mouth made a little ‘o’ as she leaned down. Had his tastes changed? That was terribly disappointing…Vanderwood was brusque and cool, but he was never rough with her even if he never really talked to her. “I didn’t know you liked little girls now…How much are you making a night? Probably pretty good money.” Marie stood up again, putting her hands on her hips with a huff. “I have to compete with all the other girls that are my shape. You’re so lucky.”

It didn’t take long for Cerise to figure out who this woman was…especially after that. It was one thing hearing about his past, but it was a completely other thing actually seeing remnants of it. Well…at least what she hoped was remnants. Cerise was pulled from her thoughts when Marie leaned down to look at her, and she reflexively took a step back. “…Excuse me?” She had scrunched up her nose; she was far from a little girl, and she definitely was not using her body to make money. Cerise opened her mouth to say something, give the woman a piece of her mind, when Vanderwood stepped in front of her, blocking Marie from her view.

Every single muscle in his body seemed like it was tightening down on him as he stepped between Marie and Cerise, not wanting her anywhere near this. Guilt was nagging at him too as something in the back of his mind was telling him he needed to relax, needed his fix, Marie was right there. Vanderwood clenched his injured hand, the painful burn helping him to relax at least a little, enough that he could speak instead of grabbing the escort for some relief. “She’s not an escort; she’s my girlfriend. Get out of my sight.” Cerise could tell by Vanderwood’s body language that he was extremely irritated, and she might have reacted to the fact that he had just called her his girlfriend, had she not been so damn pissed herself.

Marie’s eyes went even wider as she started to pout. “Girlfriend?” That couldn’t be right. “No…No, no, she’s barely even a woman! How can you like that over this.” She gestured to Cerise before gesturing to her own body. Vanderwood was done. So very done. He reached out and yanked Marie to him, muttering into her ear. “You disgust me. Get the fuck away from me, and never talk to me again. Got that?” His body was reacting to her being against him, so he pushed her away, that guilt washing through him again.

This woman just continued to insult her. So what, she wasn’t blessed with a full figure like a lot of women were, but she felt that she had a lot more to herself than just the curvature of her body. Cerise had had enough of this and turned her back, not witnessing the tail end of the situation.

Apparently, Marie had at least gotten the message as her face paled, tears rising in her eyes before she ran off. “Fuck you, Vanderwood!” Oh, God…Cerise had seen and heard all of that, and he felt like utter shit. Not just that, but his mind was practically screaming at him that he needed a fix and needed it now. He’d called her his girlfriend too. Fuck. He rubbed the bridge of his nose, grabbing the keys from the desk clerk, who was hurriedly attempting to pretend he hadn’t been staring. “Let’s get to the rooms quickly, please.” At least he’d managed to say please.

Cerise finally turned around to his suggestion, glad to see the Marie woman had left. “Yeah…let’s.” She let him lead the way to their hotel room. Right now, all she wanted to do was bury her face into some fluffy pillows and try to forget that had even happened. It was quiet and tense all the way to the room, but they both just wanted to be out of the public eye at this point.

Vanderwood held the door open for her once they got there, trying not to focus too much on how tight his muscles felt and how irritated he was. This really wasn’t good. And they were sharing a room. Great. The room was huge and there was a decent TV, so maybe they could find something to distract him on there. Vanderwood sighed as he entered the room and sat on the edge of the closest bed, running his hand through his hair. Cerise took the other bed and pretty much face planted into it, a bonus that the pillows were super soft, calming her somewhat.

“I’m sorry.” Vanderwood wasn’t entirely sure what he was apologizing for. Everything, pretty much. That whole situation was all sorts of not okay, not to mention the thoughts he was having. How could he think he was any sort of worth Cerise? She was far too perfect for him.

Cerise had turned her head upon hearing his voice. He was sitting on the edge of his bed looking pretty rough. “It’s really not something you could have helped…” She spoke as she sat up into a sitting position. The encounter for him was probably more irritating and stressful than it was for her. “I think maybe you should try to take a nap. A lot happened today.”

Her voice was somehow a relief. “A nap, huh…Don’t really sleep very well as it is, so I doubt I could nap.” His eyes scanned the room, and he noted the mini bar. That was probably fully stocked, if he knew anything about these fancy hotels. “How about a drink instead?” Vanderwood had gotten up and opened the mini bar before pausing. “You’re not a lightweight are you?” Lord, there would be so many ways that this distraction plan could backfire if she was. Particularly, if she was a specific kind of drunk. The touchy kind that wanted to be all over you would kill him. Not only were those rather annoying, but he didn’t know if his recovery could handle it. Although, he didn’t really know what kind of drunk he was either, since he’d only ever been buzzed. He had a pretty good tolerance with his size.

She watched as he moved to the mini bar. “…says the man who forcibly removed me from a bar?” Cerise scoffed and scooted to sit at the edge of her bed, adjusting her skirt so it wouldn’t ride up. He watched her out of the corner of his eye, thankful that she’d adjusted her skirt, because he did not need an image in his head right now. “That, was because you were trying to get into a drinking match with a bunch of strangers.” Actually, why had he done that? He could have just stayed there and watched her instead; she would have been safe, but he had removed her from the situation completely.

“It’s a bad idea, you know.” Something Cerise was fairly confident in was her ability to out-drink most people. At one point, she would sneak out of her house to parties or sneak into bars where people would always attempt to get her drunk, it never failed. What did fail though, were their attempts. “…but not because I’m a lightweight. It’s because I wouldn’t want to put a guy like you to shame.” A grin spread on her face, causing an almost evil glint in her eye. Vanderwood grabbed some random bottles, not really caring what he was taking, and two glasses, sitting on the floor with them. “Put me to shame? You realize I’m over twice your size, right?” He snorted at the idea of her out-drinking him, but Hell, it would be fun to find out. “Give it your best shot, shortcake.”

“It’s because you’re twice my size that you’ll be put to shame~” She moved from her spot on the bed to sit on the floor across from him, grabbing one of the bottles and pouring the contents into the glass until it was full. Cerise knew you weren’t supposed to fill it up all the way, but she had a point to prove. Lifting the glass to her lips, she downed the whole thing in one go, making sure to lock eyes with him, grinning and speaking in her sing-song tone. “Your turn.”

Well, shit. She’d downed that glass like a pro. Why was that vaguely sexy? Vanderwood bit his tongue. That’s exactly the opposite of how he should be thinking at the moment. “Alright.” He poured into his own glass, filling it like she had done before downing it, following her example and locking eyes with her. “That’s one each.” Maybe this would actually work as a distraction pretty well. It already felt like he had relaxed substantially and that was a good thing.


Jesus, she was really throwing him for a loop. What number were they on now? Four? He was so confused. They were essentially taking huge shots of hard liquor, and she seemed far less inebriated than he was. Vanderwood felt that warm fuzzy feeling that told him he was definitely drinking way too much, way too fast, and way too long after dinner. He leaned his head back against the fluff of the bed and snorted rather loudly at himself. “I’m really gonna fucking lose to my sweet little pretty shortcake.” His words came out slurred, and he’d added far too many adjectives. “You know how pretty you are?” Yup, he was definitely getting Hella fucking drunk.

Cerise felt a little bit of a warm burning sensation, but she wasn’t drunk quite yet. Maybe buzzed if anything. She was pretty sure he was getting drunk though, and it made her giggle. With the way Vanderwood was talking, she was going to win this. Not that she was surprised. What she lacked in bodily assets, she made up for it in her godly alcohol tolerance. Not the fairest tradeoff, but it certainly never failed to amuse her. Cerise downed another glass and waved her hand over it like she had just completed a magic trick. “You think I’m pretty, huh~?” She poured more liquor into his glass herself and motioned towards it. “You’re not such a bad catch yourself. ”

He was pretty much wasted, and couldn’t even process her flirty attitude. “What I am…” Vanderwood took the glass and downed it, just a little slipping past the corner of his mouth and running down his chin before he could wipe at it. “Is fucking hot…Or so I’m told.” That wipe had managed to cause his injured hand to start throbbing, and he looked at the bandage with a look of ‘when the fuck did that happen?’ He shrugged and turned his attention back to the angelic woman in front of him. “But you…are the prettiest woman I’ve ever met.” Definitely Hella drunk. Vanderwood leaned forward to give her forehead a bit of a sloppy kiss. “You’re also warm, and sexy, and perfect, and pretty…so very very pretty.” Vanderwood wrapped his arms around her and pulled her into his lap. “Like a bird…pretty pretty bird.”

She hadn’t pegged him for a flirty drunk. “Hokaaaay, enough for you.” Cerise moved the alcohol and the glasses aside before he could knock them over or break them. She was glad that he seemed to already be pretty drunk, because if she had taken one more glass, it probably would have been her undoing. In the end, she had won and that’s all that mattered. His compliments were amusing and honestly made her heart soar, but she also knew she couldn’t take much of what a drunk person said seriously.

She hadn’t expected him to pull her into his lap at all. Holy hell was he strong…not that she was the hardest person ever to move, but still. She laughed a little and patted his face. “That’s the sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me.” Cerise wasn’t sure if she was redder from the effects of the alcohol or from blushing profusely. She was trying to talk to him simply and knew better than to try and flirt back at this point, aware that he had a bit of an issue with self-control, if the first time he had kissed her was anything to go by.

Vanderwood smiled wide as she patted his face and stroked her cheek. “And you’re the sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me…wait…well you’re really sweet….and you smell like heaven.” He nuzzled her hair gently. “You’re an angel…a pretty little angel birdy…pretty birdy.” She really did smell like heaven. Vanderwood yawned and stretched. “I’m tired…Why am I so tired?” The events of the day were catching up with him, even while drunk, perhaps even more so while drunk. He wasn’t exactly the spry young guy he’d once been, a good bit worse for wear with age and the amount of damage his body had taken over the years. Vanderwood tried to poke her nose and ended up poking just over her upper lip instead. “Pretty birdy, I need to go to bed.”

Well…at least he wasn’t an aggressive drunk. That was a plus. He was just clingy and awkwardly flirty. Cerise thought about pulling her phone out and recording what was happening to tease him with later, but she had left it on her bed, and he had pulled her into his lap before she could really think to grab it. Oh well. It was of no surprise that he was tired–she thought he would be. It seemed he just needed to wind down and relax. Cerise was actually pretty tired herself. Her days were never this…exciting? And it wore her out. She took the opportunity to nuzzle into him, a blush apparent on her cheeks. He probably wouldn’t remember it anyways. “If you let the birdy go, you can go to bed and sleep.”

He’d mumbled something along the lines of “Wanna hold birdy forever.” Vanderwood pulled her closer against his chest as she nuzzled into him before finally letting her go slowly as he yawned and stretched once more. He moved away from her, pulling himself up into bed before awkwardly removing his jacket and shirt, nearly getting stuck in the shirt before burrowing himself in under the covers. He reached out to her from the bed. “Come to beeedd…I want my birdy.”

It was like he was a child when he was drunk. A very large child. He’d let her go and she’d kind of tumbled away. Okay so…a little more buzzed than she thought she was. Maybe even a little drunk herself. Certainly not as bad off as Vanderwood was, though. She shakily stood up and made her way to her own bed. The room was spinning a little, so she didn’t trust herself to make it to the bathroom to change into her pajamas without falling flat on her face.

The sight of him struggling with his own shirt was somehow hilarious to her and she began to laugh until he suggested that she go over there to bed with him. He was shirtless, really drunk….and wanted her to sleep in his bed with him. Oh god…she could feel her face completely burn up. Even her ears felt hot. “Ahahahaha…ummm…birdy has to sleep in her own bed. Umm…room is too spinny for birdy to move.” There, that should convince him, she figured. She got under her own blankets and buried herself in her fluffy pillows again, feeling like she could pass out at any moment.

Vanderwood pushed himself up with a pout on his face. “But I want to cuddle the birdy…” In his drunk mind, if she wouldn’t come to him, he would go to her. He tumbled out of the bed, landing painfully on his injured hand, but thankfully inebriated enough that it didn’t really phase him. Her bed was just as cozy as his, and he snuck in under the covers, pulling her into his arms. “Here I am, pretty birdy.” He nuzzled her hair gently. Her warmth against his chest felt so right, and he promptly passed out, sleeping harder than he had in years.

Yep. There he was indeed. Honestly, she should have expected that he would do that, as drunk as he was. She would have complained, but having him hold her felt so nice. Cerise just had to ignore the fact that he was very shirtless and very close. Instead of feeling uncomfortable, she felt very relaxed as he was gently nuzzling her hair. He was already asleep, so there was nothing she could do, but if she was being honest…she didn’t want to move anyway. Cerise just smiled to herself before snuggling into him more and falling asleep.

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Mystic Messenger Fanfiction | VanderwoodxOC Cerise – Tagged | Ode to Jessica

In the lobby, Jessica still seemed to be hitting on the desk clerk. Vanderwood approached her from behind carefully, not wanting to clue her in on his position until he spoke, to give himself the edge of being the one to surprise her and not the other way around.

***I’m so sorry I didn’t post last week. I was getting a medical procedure done and was in too much pain afterwards that I hadn’t been expecting. T_T Good news, posting continues! Also, check out this week’s hidden scene Jessica Backstory if you’re a patron. =0 ~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***

Cerise had made it to the room with no incident, and she made sure that she was quiet, listening for anything that could be out of place. If she were perfectly honest, she was scared and rather worried. Vanderwood had seemed nervous, and that only made Cerise feel all the more worried. Would he be okay? He had to have been trained for this stuff, right? She sat in the corner of the hotel room and waited for him to come up.

In the lobby, Jessica still seemed to be hitting on the desk clerk. Vanderwood approached her from behind carefully, not wanting to clue her in on his position until he spoke, to give himself the edge of being the one to surprise her and not the other way around. “Hey, sweetheart. Don’t you wanna come up to my room?”

The redhead spun on her oddly spiked heel and smiled broadly. Vanderwood, just the man she was looking for. It was unfortunate that the girl wasn’t with him, but she could always find that target later. He was the more dangerous target anyway. “Well hello, Korean Casanova.” Jessica flicked her hair over her shoulder as she fixed her vibrant green eyes on the brown of Vanderwood’s. He’d been a thorn in her side, always keeping her from completing her missions from the moment they’d met, so Drawl wasn’t the only one who had a grudge. Still, this wasn’t about grudges, it was about winning against him. (Jessica Backstory available as patron.)

Vanderwood snorted at that old nickname she insisted on calling him, even though he’d told her many a time that he wasn’t Korean. He just turned his back to her, tilting his head just enough that he could watch her as she followed him, the clerk she’d been flirting with staring after the two of them with confusion. There was a dark area underneath the stairs, and neither of them wanted to be obvious about what they were doing, so it worked as their battleground. It was better than going outside of the hotel around back where there would be cameras.

Of course, as soon as they were out of sight of any people, Jessica rushed at him. There was a smirk on her face and her heart was racing as she made her first move. Vanderwood was good at what he did, but his major problem was being slow. Still, he had been ready for this kind of attack; she was faster, but he was prepared, dropping off to the side and grabbing for her leg. Fuck. Something pierced through his glove, and his hand started to burn painfully before it began to throb. One of her hidden poison needles. Still, he yanked her to the ground with him and towards him.

Jessica was far too full of adrenaline to even bother with feeling afraid, attempting to catch him with her spiked heel as he pulled her towards him, but he pushed that leg away. “Alright, Jessi.” Vanderwood flipped over on top of her, grabbing her wrists and placing them into the now throbbing hand before grabbing her neck with the other. “I have someone to protect. No hard feelings.” The redheaded woman was staring up at him, her green eyes going wide as she now attempted to struggle out of his grip. The pin in his hand should have rendered it useless, but it was like he barely felt it. It couldn’t end like this for her could it really? Was she losing?

This was his least favorite part of his job. But Hell. Jessica was a ripe bitch, and her agency was into far worse activities than his was. He just killed scumbags who somehow managed to avoid justice by the law, but they were one of those groups who spent their time creating those organizations and fostering them. Vanderwood was talking himself out of being merciful as he felt her struggling less and less, the lack of oxygen making it impossible for her to stay awake. Once she finally passed out, he let go of her wrists and snapped her neck. God, that sound was the worst, but she was dead. That was one threat to Cerise down, one to go.

He was slow to stand, feeling pretty damn sick to his stomach, like he always did after that sound. His hand was in terrible pain, but he should probably get to Cerise sooner rather than later. Like he’d said, he had someone to protect. It was a relief to him that she would be just that little bit safer now. He shoved Jessica’s body into a dark area nearby, sending a message for cleanup request to Seven before making his way up the stairs. They’d need to get to a new hotel too, since now Drawl’s agency would know this was where he and Cerise had been staying.

“Caleb.” Vanderwood started to pull off his glove as he waited for Cerise to answer the door.

Time had gone by so slowly while Cerise waited for him to return. She had no idea what had happened down there or why it seemed to be taking so long, and she was beginning to panic. Her mind went to the worst-case scenario as though it was the only option, but she tried to quickly push it to the back of her mind. ‘He’s going to be okay…everything will be okay.’ She was repeating that to herself over and over again when, finally, Cerise heard the word she had been waiting for. She got up and ran to the door as fast as she could, pulling it open, and wasting no time to throw herself into his torso, holding onto him in a tight embrace. “Thank goodness…you’re okay.”

Vanderwood instantly relaxed into her embrace, even though his hand felt like it was on literal fire. “Of course I’m okay, shortcake. I had to come back to you.” It was strange for him, how he could smile after something like that, but it simply felt good that she had seemingly been so worried about him. He ran his good hand through her hair before making a soft grunt as his other hand cramped painfully. His glove was off now, and he could see that the fleshy portion of his hand had turned completely purple. Holy Hell it hurt. The first aid kit was in the bag he’d sent her into the room with, so he’d need to clean this off and bandage it until it healed. “I need to take care of this…” Vanderwood showed her his hand “And then we need to pack up and head for another hotel, since this one’s compromised.”

When he showed her his hand, she audibly squeaked at the sight. Cerise didn’t think a purple hand was a good sign at all. “Oh my god, what happened?” Cerise pulled him into the bathroom before he could object, turning on the faucet and telling him to put his hand under it. Vanderwood was confused as he responded. “I just nicked myself on one of Jessica’s poison pins is all. It’ll go away in a day or two.” Just as quickly as she’d pulled him into the bathroom, she was gone and searching for the first aid kit, Vanderwood staring after her stunned. The squeak sound had caught him off guard, as adorable as it was, but her trying to take care of him? That was just as shocking to him. No one in his life ever really took care of him and it had his face feeling hot as his heart grew wings like it was going to fly off.

Cerise found the first aid kit in the bag he had sent her up with, so she grabbed it and emptied the contents onto the bathroom counter. There were some things to clean his hand and some bandages, and honestly, she had no idea what she was doing. All Cerise knew really, was that he was clearly in pain, and something needed to be done about it. She’d seen these things on her telenovelas and did her best to mimic what she had seen with a gentle touch. It looked right, but she wasn’t sure if she actually did everything she needed to. Oh God, she sucked at this. Good thing she had no plans to become a doctor. “I…guess I did this right?”

Vanderwood had watched her fumble around with the bandages and other items, a little bit of blush appearing in his cheeks as she worked. Cerise was doing the best she knew how, and even though he could have done it much more quickly and easily himself, it just felt so good to let her do it. Her questioning remark had a smile spreading wide across his face as he bent to give her a quick and soft kiss.

Getting kisses for when he approved of something she did was quickly becoming one of her new favorite things. The show of affection gave her the fluttery feeling in her stomach again. She wanted to argue and fuss over him that his hand didn’t look like he had gotten ‘just a nick’ from a pin, but she didn’t want to stress him out further after he’d just dealt with God knows what. All that mattered was that he was safe and in one piece, especially if it was one of those nasty people from the first day. Cerise would prefer not to have to deal with them again.

He broke the kiss with a sigh. That wasn’t nearly satisfying enough with all the stress he’d just been through. Vanderwood wanted to hold her closely and float on the idea of her being just that much safer and his good fortune in finding this person who seemed to be the only truly beautiful thing he’d ever had in his life. Still, he resigned himself to making the kiss a short one. It was safer for her that way with his addiction and the current situation, it was definitely far safer. They didn’t have much time, since they needed to switch hotels before anyone else showed up. His hand was certainly out of commission, so that would make Drawl showing up much more difficult to deal with.

“We need to get going…Pick an expensive hotel from your phone for me, please.” Why expensive? Usually he stayed in hovels, this had been a mid-ranked hotel, so luxury it was. “An…expensive one? If you say so…” Cerise gave his now bandaged hand a gentle kiss before she pulled out her phone and began to search, that simple little kiss making Vanderwood’s heart go crazy. Cerise was too busy looking through her phone to notice the look on his face. What did he even consider an expensive hotel? She came across one that had the word luxury in the name. The pictures her phone provided certainly looked nice.

Vanderwood had gone to grab his bag and anything he’d left in his room as she searched before grabbing things from hers. As he finished, Cerise came up to him to show him her phone with the hotel she’d decided on. “This one.” He did a brief skim of the information before nodding at her. “Perfect. Make sure I grabbed everything, we won’t come back for anything that’s left behind.”

He was almost going to add ‘Even your phone’ but who was he really telling that to? Something told him that if she left her phone, at this point, he’d risk it to bring it back just for how happy she would be. He was seriously going insane. So that’s why getting attached was so dangerous. Vanderwood snorted at himself.

Cerise scoured the room to make sure nothing was being left. Luckily, she had kept all of her things together…which wasn’t much besides the clothes he had bought her before. If she had had time to pack, she would probably have brought tons of unnecessary things. First and foremost, she made sure she had her phone and charger. Leaving her phone would have been disastrous for her. Just to be sure, she gave the place another look before she was satisfied that she didn’t leave anything. “That’s it, I think we have everything. ” She gave him a worried glance as they were leaving the room, the fact that he had come in contact with any sort of poison not sitting well with her.

Every time she threw him a worried glance, it made him feel like the luckiest man on Earth. Vanderwood offered her his bandaged hand to hold as he kept the bags in the other, slinging them over his shoulder. Cerise hadn’t thought that he was the type to hold hands, but she was also starting to realize that Vanderwood was full of surprises. She still took his hand slowly, careful not to squeeze the injury.

The desk clerk was surprisingly fast at checking them out of the hotel, probably helped along by the fact that Vanderwood was being so business only. Any attempt for more was met with a blank look, although he did occasionally squeeze Cerise’s hand gently, not minding the sting it gave his palm. Every time he would squeeze her hand, it was like he was squeezing her heart just a little, and she liked it. Cerise would try to give a slight squeeze back but was worried about his hand. It was purple for God’s sake. Purple. Nobody’s hand should be that color! She was thankful for his swift handling of the desk clerk, though, wanting to get out of that place as soon as possible

Once they were in the car, Vanderwood bit at his tongue, the memory of how she’d kissed his bandaged hand, bandaged by her playing in his head now that he was sure they were on their way to safety. The drive to the other hotel would go pretty quickly, and the added bonus was that it wasn’t far from where they had been staying. That was even more reason why it wouldn’t make sense to stay there. “Thank you…for worrying about me. I hope I didn’t scare you too badly.” He felt a little awkward, but it seemed like that was the right kind of thing to say.

Cerise felt like she could finally breathe again as they were in the car and on their way to the new hotel, his attempt at thanking her not quite breaking her free of her thoughts, though. “Your hand was purple.” That was all she could manage to say. For whatever reason, her mind just kept looping back to that. Her lack of filter normally let worse things through, so she was happy that something relatively normal was said this time. Well…normal for her.

She seemed to be pretty disturbed by the color of his hand, which made him snort softly. “Yeah…I’ve had worse.” All his comment did was make her scrunch up her face. There was no doubt in her mind that he’d had worse, but it wasn’t something that she particularly wanted to think about unless she wanted to stay in a perpetual state of worry.

Based on her reaction…was that really a smart thing to say right now? God, he sure was good at this whole calming her down thing. “I’m fine, Cerise. Everything is fine.” He brought her fingers to his lips pressing a gentle kiss against her knuckles. “Because I’m with you.” That sounded so cheesy. Oh Lord, he was really cheesy. Maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing to be? He sure as Hell didn’t know. The expression on her face softened at his words, being replaced by an impressive blush at the kiss to her hand. She was pretty sure that he was trying to kill her, because she never got this flustered before, not even by her own doing.

Once they were at the new hotel, she would be able to get a look at his hand again, and everything would be alright, or as alright as they could be with still being chased by another agent. The woman had that partner. Cerise shivered just thinking about the man and the way he’d handled her before Vanderwood had shown up to rescue her.

He furrowed his brow as he noticed her little shiver, running his thumb over her knuckles as he drove one-handed still. Vanderwood hadn’t been able to get himself to let go of her hand yet. The situation with Jessica had left him tense, but just her care and presence had been helping him calm down. Drawl was still out there after them, so their status as on-the-run was still in effect, but he would take care of that idiot too.

Just thinking about Drawl made Vanderwood’s eyebrow twitch. He and Cerise weren’t exactly together, but he loved her, and he wasn’t about to let anyone hurt her. Anyone or anything threatening her would be met with a swift end. Whether they were anything to each other after this experience or not, he would make sure she was safe.

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Mystic Messenger Fanfiction | VanderwoodxOC Cerise – Tagged | A Day Out

After an extensive bout of shopping, Cerise had created what was likely her cutest phone yet, and Vanderwood had essentially gone on what was his first ever date, he figured.

***Cherrywood continues, going on what could technically be called their first date =0 It’s going to be a while before they ever have a life that’s considered ‘normal’ isn’t it? Kinda same for me here, going through some financial issues at the moment, but such is life sometimes. I will *eventually* get around to working on Seven Good Ending Continued, but there is a lot more research and prep involved with his character arc, so it may take some time. #accuracymatters  In the meantime, please continue enjoying Tagged! ~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******

Cerise didn’t know when she finally fell asleep, but an annoying beeping was trying to interrupt that precious time. Grumbling, she pulled her covers over her head and tried to ignore the sound, drifting back off to sleep. In the other room Vanderwood was getting up, doing his morning exercises. God, why wasn’t she turning off her alarm? He grumbled and put his earbuds in as he continued his routine. As long as it wasn’t Secret Agent Man…

The sound didn’t bother Cerise again, and she ended up waking up from sleep on her own, stretching under the hotel covers. They were nowhere near as fluffy or cute as her covers at her apartment, and she didn’t have as many pillows, but it wasn’t so bad. Maybe she could convince Vanderwood to get her a cute shaped pillow for while they were still at the hotel. She grabbed for her phone, sleepily checking the time. The time! Oh crap… She hadn’t meant to sleep in this late! Cerise ran around her hotel room, finding the clothes she wanted to wear and then quickly brushing her teeth and hair. She was hoping that he was running a little behind too as she threw off her pajamas, just tossing them anywhere for now. At the time, she didn’t have time to care.

Vanderwood already had everything in the car, other than the one gun he carried in his go bag. He tucked that one into the back of his pants so that it pressed against the small of his back before grabbing his bag and slinging it over his shoulder. It was well hidden there, thanks in part to his jacket and his penchant for loose fabric shirts. The thought of spending more time taking Cerise somewhere had him blushing like crazy. He was definitely infatuated. Now he made his way back up to the rooms, spending a few more minutes in his and wondering what she was doing. It seemed like she was taking her sweet time getting ready, and he couldn’t hear anything from her room.

He raised an eyebrow and opened the door between their rooms, just wanting to check, thinking that she was sleeping since he didn’t hear much of anything. “Cerise? Are you…ready….” His voice trailed off as he took in the sight in front of him, completely frozen, rooted to the spot. Cerise was hooking her bra, in a bra and panty set that he had technically purchased for her. Something about that was incredibly erotic. Vanderwood couldn’t move. His mind wandered, and he internally slapped himself, heat rising fast in his face but still unable to do anything but stare.

She hadn’t noticed the door opening at first, fighting with the clasp of her bra, and it took her a moment to notice the voice. When she turned her head towards the voice, her brain took a moment to catch up with the situation at hand. At first, she was frozen, and then her brain started to work again, causing her face to turn completely red. Was he staring at her? He was definitely staring at her. “NO I’M NOT READY YET! GET OUT!” Her first instinct was to chuck pillows at him, so that’s what she did before grabbing her remaining clothes from the bed and disappearing into the bathroom.

“I didn’t mean to!” He didn’t even bother to knock the pillows away, letting them hit him as he fled back to his room. Was it even possible for him to get any redder at this point? Now he was banging his head against the wall in an attempt to get the image of her out of his mind. God I’m the worst. Think about something else… He looked around the room trying to think of anything to distract him, but not really finding much. Guns. You’re going to shoot guns. Think about shooting guns. Finally…something worked. Vanderwood sighed in relief before gently knocking on the door, this time waiting for an answer. “Hey…Let me know when you’re ready…”

It felt like she was getting dressed more quickly than she ever had in her entire life. She was trying to block out of her brain that he had seen her in her underwear. The fact that they had kissed only made it worse. Wait. Didn’t he…buy these for her? Oh God. Oh God. That thought hadn’t crossed her mind until just now. Vanderwood had picked out and bought her underwear. Cerise felt like she could die right then and there. She walked out of the bathroom and jumped when she heard a knock, the sound of his voice making her face even more red. “I’m…I’m ready now.” At this point, she was trying really hard to keep calm, but her voice was betraying her, coming out in a higher pitch than usual. She really needed to pull herself together.

After a deep breath to get his own blush under control, Vanderwood opened the door. Even clothed, she had his mind slipping to the image from earlier and the raging blush was back. Nope. You will be decent. He internally slapped himself for what felt like the tenth time that day. “I uh…I didn’t mean to…walk in on you like that.” He rubbed the back of his head awkwardly, biting his tongue before he went to open the door for her and lead her towards the car. “Let’s get going then?”

Their walk to the car had been quiet, and now the drive to wherever they were going was quiet. What could you even say after that? Vanderwood was attempting to figure that out himself, and he finally figured he should tell her what they were doing. “I’m going to teach you how to shoot a gun.” Oh good, his words were actually working pretty well. “Just in case…I’m not around when something happens. I want you to be able to protect yourself. I’m not letting the best thing that ever happened to me get hurt.” Okay, so his words were working too well. He hadn’t meant to say it quite like that. Too late now.

Cerise was honestly oddly excited when he said he was teaching her to shoot a gun. A scary gun in the hands of cute her? It was sure to be an instant hit with her followers when she posted the inevitable selfie. The next part of his explanation just made her blush. She was the best thing to ever happen to him? It seemed that he really knew what to say to make her heart melt, though she hoped she’d never have to use a gun due to him not being around. That thought was scary, but she pushed it to the back of her mind, grinning at him with her obvious blush and putting a hand on his shoulder, her sing-song voice very much in evidence. “I’m ready to learn, Mister Secret Agent Vanderwood.”

He had been watching her reaction from the corner of his eye, seeing the little bit of excitement coupled with a bit of fear. She really should be afraid, and he felt like shit for doing that to her, since it was his fault she’d gotten kidnapped and shoved into his life. Her flirting just had him biting his tongue and nodding his head, not trusting his words when he felt like he was dying of cute. At least by the time he reached the empty wooded area outside of town, he felt like he was in control of himself. Enough to handle a gun anyway.

He went around to help her out of the car, not that she really needed it, but Cerise wasn’t complaining. As he grabbed a few empty cans from the back of the vehicle, PHD Pepper from that idiot redhead, Cerise looked around the woods looking back to him to see him pull a gun from the small of his back. So, that was where he hid it? Vanderwood checked it over, ensuring it was properly loaded. This one would probably be easier for her to work with since it was the smallest out of the two he had with him, not nearly as heavy, the only drawback would be the recoil.

She watched curiously as he set the three cans on a fallen log. “Right, so…” He walked back to her, holding out some earplugs towards her. “You’re going to want these. Obviously, you wouldn’t have time in a real situation, but might as well not blow out your eardrums when you’re practicing.” That earned him a snarky remark from her, a snort escaping him as she talked. “Oh, right. Best to blow them out later. Gotcha.” Damn, she was something. Vanderwood almost wanted to kiss her. He was really out of his element with this whole…romance type thing.

Right, he was supposed to be teaching her to shoot. First, he showed her how to turn the safety on and off before going over everything else, coming back to the safety feature once more. “If you remember nothing else, remember the safety. Alright, pop those ear plugs in for me, and I’ll show you how to do this.”

Vanderwood placed his own ear plugs in. Sure, his ears were beyond damaged by now, but why make it worse when he had the opportunity not to? Cerise had listened intently and now placed her ear plugs in, watching as he positioned himself and shot one of the cans off the log, deciding to leave the other two for her. She jumped a little when the gun went off, amazed at how effortless he made it seem. It was pretty cool, though. Now that Vanderwood was turning towards her and pulling his own ear plugs out, she did the same.

He held the gun out to her, so she could grab it handle first. “So, ready to give it a try?” This earned him a wink that made his heart stop completely for a full two seconds. “Ready as I’ll ever be.” Once more he found himself biting his tongue to make his head work. “Alright, shortcake.” Okay, so, he just called her a pet name. Vanderwood was internally dying, heat filling his face. Romance was not his forte’, not at all. It didn’t help that she was giggling at him now as she took the gun. “Shortcake, huh?” It felt weird to actually be holding a gun. This small thing could do so much damage, even take a life. “You don’t like being my shortcake?” His own comment had him so confused. Why did words just keep falling out of his mouth? Cerise was blushing hard too, and for once in her life, she had no comeback.

He realized that he needed to keep going, get this done before he said anything else ridiculous. “You’re going to want to put both hands on the gun.” Vanderwood leaned down, wrapping his arms around her, his head just above her shoulder as he positioned her hands, feeling the warmth of her against his chest. That wasn’t helping his blush at all, and with Vanderwood’s close proximity, Cerise couldn’t help but to blush too.

“It’s going to have quite a bit of recoil, since it’s not very heavy, so make sure you hold it tight so it doesn’t buck back in your face. Be ready for it.” At the moment, it was a miracle that he could actually talk. “Now, show me how you stand, and I’ll correct you.” Hopefully that would be easier, except…Oh God, she’s wearing a skirt. Cue the extreme blush again. Shit, he hoped he wouldn’t have to fix her position too much.

Cerise wasn’t thinking about her skirt. It seemed easy enough to shoot a gun, but she was rather worried about the recoil he mentioned. A busted-up face wasn’t good for selfies. She did her best to mimic his stance though. “This…doesn’t feel quite right.” Then she changed her stance a little more to something she thought felt a little more comfortable. “Like this?” Vanderwood realized almost as soon as she had moved again that her stance needed correcting. Damn it. Her hips weren’t quite right, and thank God he didn’t have to touch her skin to skin thanks to his gloves. “Here.”

Vanderwood was gentle as he put his hands on her hips, guiding her as his face slowly turned more red. Now he carefully touched her inner thigh, to get her to spread her legs properly. Jesus. He had to bite his tongue to keep from bringing up an image from earlier. It had been too long for him, even just a couple of weeks, but he could surely behave better than this. At this point, Cerise felt she was probably as stiff as a robot, as she struggled to keep her eyes forward on the can that were her targets. Anything to keep her brain from completely shutting down when she had a gun in her hands and his hands on her. He was touching the inside of her thigh now. Oh God. She tried to tell herself to calm down and loosen up.

His heart was slamming against his rib cage as he pulled away, rubbing the back of his head awkwardly. Thank God that was over. How could she mess with him so much when she wasn’t even his type? Or maybe the thing was she was the only woman who was his type. He certainly loved her, felt about her like he’d never felt for anyone else, and she didn’t want anything from him. It felt so good to be around someone who didn’t want anything from him except his presence. Vanderwood shook his head at himself. It wasn’t the time to be thinking about that. “Alright, so try to hit those two cans for me. You have seven shots left in this gun.” He noticed the way she seemed so tense and lightly touched her shoulders. “And relax.”

Carefully, he moved her wealth of hair to the side to place her earplugs for her, putting in his own after and standing back to give her a questioning look with a thumbs-up. Cerise had let herself relax a little in response to his gentle touch. With her ear plugs in now, she took a deep breath, whispering to herself, although she couldn’t really hear it. “You can do this.” He had given her a thumbs-up, but it took her a minute to gather up the nerve to actually shoot the thing. She was able to successfully shoot the gun the first time, but the recoil did scare her, causing a yelp in surprise.

Vanderwood was watching her, a chuckle escaping him at the yelp. That was to be expected. Honestly, she looked really fucking good with a gun in her hands. Stop that. He had to reprimand himself, watching her next shot miss. Thanks to the ear plugs, he wasn’t able to hear her mumbling to herself. “Third time’s the charm.” She took another deep breath and tried to focus, her third shot finally hitting a can. Vanderwood was impressed, watching her relax and lower the gun, putting the safety back on before she turned to look at him with a big smile and a thumbs-up of her own.

That simple action made his heart swell a little, and Jesus, he really wanted to give her a kiss right then, gun and all. Even with the safety on, it was best to get his hands on the weapon too. His hand closed over the top of the gun, lowering her hands so that it was pointed to the ground as his other hand took her chin gently. Vanderwood bent his head to hers, not quite kissing her yet, by some miracle letting her close the gap if she wanted to. He was going to have to work on his self-control, clearly, but at least he had the clear thinking to let her make the final decision. Was he actually holding his breath as he waited?

Cerise had been searching for his approval, and she guessed this meant she had earned it. She could feel her heart in her throat, the fact that her ear plugs were still in only making it more obvious to her how hard and quickly her heart was beating. It was like he was waiting for an answer from her. He acted totally different now than what he had previously described himself to be. She might have been able to imagine it at first, but it was kind of hard to now. Cerise closed the gap between them, bringing her free hand up to touch his face. Now she was wondering how much it would take for her heart to actually beat out of her chest, because she was pretty sure that it was close to doing so.

His heart was pounding in his ears as she kissed him, partly because of the earplugs, but mostly because of the way he reacted to Cerise. Nothing in his life had prepared him for what it felt like to be with her. Vanderwood took his time in the kiss, removing the gun from her hand completely before he broke away, bumping her nose softly with his. She grinned and nuzzled him. Kissing him felt nice, and besides the first time, it always had so far.

He snorted softly. Vanderwood didn’t want to pull away from her at first, enjoying the feeling of her hand against his cheek, wanting to kiss her more, but she would still need time. In fact, he still needed time, to be sure he wasn’t going to hurt her. If he ever did something like what he’d done the first time they’d kissed, Vanderwood didn’t think he’d be able to forgive himself. He tucked the gun back in its place at the small of his back. “I guess I’ll have to get you your own gun. But for now, I believe I owe you a trip out somewhere you want to go.” Where would she want to go? All in all, he didn’t know too much about her, other than that she loved social media, Spanish dramas, and phones. She was definitely a phone nut. An adorable one at that.

She was realizing that she had completely forgotten to take a selfie with the gun, which probably would have annoyed him, now that she thought about it. Cerise could almost hear him scolding her, something like ‘Guns are not props!’ Oh well, she’d have another chance one day, especially… ”My own gun? Do you think they have they have them in pink? Oh! Or maybe even ones with cute designs on them?” She had seen such guns on aesthetic blogs, but she didn’t know if they were real or if it was possible to buy them like that if they were.

The second part of what he’d said only processed now. Somewhere she wanted to go? Right…”You did say I could pick out any accessories I wanted for my phone, so…” She latched herself to his arm and attempted to drag him to the car. “Let’s go and get some!” Cerise was always excited for anything that had to do with her phone, especially when it came to decorating it. A boring phone was not a happy phone. Besides, her phone needed to look as good in a mirror as she did.

Vanderwood hadn’t expected her to be so excited about a gun, and he honestly had no idea whether they came in pink. His had always been agency issue, but if she wanted a pink one or one with designs, he would find it for her. That was a little weird to him still, wanting to do something like that for her just because it would bring a smile to her face, even though he thought it was somewhat ridiculous. To see her excited like this warmed him in ways he’d never known were possible. From anyone else, her attempt to drag him would have been met with harsh resistance, but instead he feigned like she was dragging him along towards the car, all the time chuckling at how incredibly adorable she was.

It was obvious to him that she loved her phone and aesthetics. She was a beautiful woman, so it only made sense for her to have beautiful things. He furrowed his brows a little. Well, he sure as Hell wasn’t beautiful, but he’d get her whatever cute shit she wanted…As long as she didn’t try to put it anywhere near him, other than herself. He wanted her near him all the time. As they got in the car he nodded towards her as he pulled the car back out onto the road. “Find your phone store then.”

Cerise was quick to comply with his request. That was one thing she loved about Korea, it was so much easier to find stores like this than in France where she had to do online shopping to get what she wanted. By the looks of the pictures in the description on the website, it had everything she would be looking for. She couldn’t wait to get her hands on some cute new accessories. As attached as she was to her old ones, they were pretty dated. After giving Vanderwood the address, she busied herself with her cellphone. A short while went by before she stared at the screen perplexed. “Uh…what does it mean when someone says they want to ‘eat you like a cannoli’ and then ‘take you to Pound Town’? Where even is Pound Town?”

Everything was fine, going well, the world seemed beautiful, and then Cerise asked that. Vanderwood went through a surprising range of emotions in just a matter of a second: surprise, laughter, and then finally landing on anger. Obviously, that wasn’t directed at her, but whoever the Hell was sending her messages like that. “That’s not a place.” His eyebrow twitched. Already he was pulling over and holding out his hand. “Phone.” Whoever this was, he was in for a world of hurt. Why was he even so angry? It didn’t really matter. Vanderwood wanted this creep taken care of.

“Sounds like some sort of amusement park to me, but…honestly I’d rather not get eaten.” Cerise looked around confused as he pulled over. Her initial thought was that something was wrong, but when he held out his hand and requested that she hand over her phone, she placed it in his hand, trusting him not to throw it out the window. Why would he hurt it if he was taking her to get accessories for it, anyways? “Just, try not to hurt it or anything, okay?”

Vanderwood sighed heavily as he took her phone, trying to go for bluntness was much more difficult with a subject like this for some reason. He should be able to talk about it, out of all people, but his tongue twisted, finally untwisting at her request. “Cerise…he’s talking about sex. Of course I won’t hurt your phone.” Almost as soon as Vanderwood was looking at her phone, a few more creepy messages popped up along with a picture of the stranger’s lower extremities followed by a ‘like wut u see?’ with a ton of eggplant emojis. Previous messages revealed that the conversation had started out rather pleasant, the guy seemed genuinely interested in what she liked and where she was from. She had explained that she had moved to Korea from France and all the places she wanted to visit, prompting the creepy messages about ‘Pound Town.’

His eyebrow was really twitching now. This piece of shit was going to get it. The text speak was a little hard to follow other than that he’d been dealing with it from Seven for years. The eggplants he didn’t understand at all, but that picture. Vanderwood removed the gun from its place at the small of his back, taking a photo and sending it back. `Do u like wat u see` Typing like that hurt his perfectionist mind, but he tried to type like Cerise simply for the added shock value. Of course, that wasn’t enough to just threaten him with a gun, so he was already sending the guy’s number to Seven as he messaged one handed on his own phone. Guys like this annoyed him incredibly, even more so since this person was messaging Cerise. At least when he wanted a hook up, he was up front about it. This kind of guy went from ‘I care about you’ to ‘I want you in bed’ without warning and would always be on his shitlist.

Cerise had made a noise of disgust to Vanderwood’s explanation. “What a creep.” Watching in confusion as Vanderwood took out his gun and sent a picture, prompting her to giggle. It was cute in a way. She never quite knew how to handle these types of people anyway. It wasn’t like that had been the first time she’d gotten that type of message; that was a given with popular accounts. She had just never heard of those terms before. Cerise wouldn’t even have responded, but the guy had seemed so nice at first.

Apparently, the guy had liked what he saw and responded with another picture of himself. `I got sumthin else 4 u 2 shoot.` Vanderwood had a feeling his eyebrow was going to remain in a state of twitching for a while. He dialed Seven’s number, thankful for how quickly the redhead picked up. “That info I just sent you, troll your heart out for me.” Seven was exactly the perfect guy for this kind of thing. This was really right up his alley. “Also, if you could send his pictures to his mother for me, or anyone in his family really.” Vanderwood listened as the redhead mentioned something about putting the guy’s information on public boards. “Yeah. Go for it.”

Now the redhead was laughing, so excited that he was probably loud enough for Cerise to hear now. “You’re not usually this angry. Ooooo! Is it the girl? Good old Mary Vanderwood has a crush!” Vanderwod clenched his jaw. He was getting more irritated, but also, maybe embarrassed was the word. Blushing like a maniac was a new thing to him, and he wasn’t particularly fond of how it was happening right now. “Tell me more, she doesn’t seem like your type.” Vanderwood’s voice went a little gruff. “Just shut up and do it.” He hung up before typing out another reply to the creepy guy. `Have fun.`

Cerise watched him and raised an eyebrow. The guy on the other end of the phone sounded excitable. She knew of the guy, but had never actually heard or seen him. She just knew they stopped by his house to switch cars that one time. Was Vanderwod blushing? He was totally blushing. Cerise felt heat rise to her own cheeks. Great, she was too. “Yeah…so…” She stared at him intently as he pulled back onto the road after handing her phone back to her, heading towards the cell phone store again. “Mary? Youre real name is Mary?” Now she snickered a little. It was such a feminine name for someone like him.

That redhead was annoying as Hell. “It’s Marion. Pretty sure my dad was high when he named me.” Cerise was trying to contain her giggles and mostly failing. His name was essentially Marie in French. There was something hilariously beautiful about that. The giggling faded as she thought about the rest that Seven had said. “Um…so…what is your type?” That phrase ‘his type’ she’d heard it a lot in the short time they’d been around each other, and apparently she wasn’t it, and it was plaguing at the back of her mind.

With her next question, he sighed heavily again as he drove before biting his tongue. This was the kind of thing that had him itching for a cigarette. Thankfully, it wasn’t enough to have him needing a different kind of fix. Even the thought of girls who were supposedly ‘his type’ made him sick now. “I’ve never really been with a woman romantically. It’s always been escorts and hookups…so tall with tons of curves, I guess.” That came out a little weird. “It’s always been emotionlessly getting my fix. I don’t actually have any interest in any of them.” If he hadn’t been driving, he would have been rubbing at the back of his head. It felt so odd to have these types of conversations, but maybe they were necessary. “You…make me feel completely different.”

His type was…pretty much the polar opposite of what she was. She wasn’t tall at all, and she definitely didn’t have any curves to speak of. All her friends back home had been that type. As cute as she was, guys seemed to go for the girls who were well endowed and blessed with legs for miles. Cerise seemed to have gotten the short end of the stick, literally. He said he didn’t have any interest, and she understood that there was addiction involved, but she still couldn’t help but to feel…insecure? Disappointed? It wasn’t a normal feeling for her, she was very confident in her looks…so why did this feel so different? “Oh, h-hey! I can see the store down there!” A change of subject was definitely needed, and being in the store would be a great help.

(Hidden Scene of Vanderwood and Cerise shopping at the cell-phone store available as a patron.)

After an extensive bout of shopping, Cerise had created what was likely her cutest phone yet, and Vanderwood had essentially gone on what was his first ever date, he figured. That was such a weird thought as old as he was and as many women as he’d been with. Really, he’d rather not think about it and just start over with Cerise. Maybe that was something he could actually do now, start over?

His thoughts were broken as they made it to the hotel, and he helped her out as usual, but something seemed…off? Vanderwood couldn’t quite put his finger on it. His eyes searched the parking lot. Nothing strange there. As they walked inside, he kept just a little closer to her than he even usually would, and then he knew why he was on edge. One of his least favorite redheads, Jessica, was leaning over the lobby table, probably showing off her cleavage to the guy there and trying to gather information. She and Drawl must have been sweeping the different hotels. This wasn’t good.

Cerise had watched him with a confused expression as he tensed up in the parking lot. Did he have some sort of weird secret agent sense or something? She couldn’t help but feel a little tense too as she walked beside him. Vanderwood stopped Cerise by putting his hand lightly on her shoulder, but she was still startled enough to jump. At least she hadn’t yelped. Fear was swamping him, a feeling he was starting to get used to dealing with when it came to Cerise. He took his bag off his shoulder and removed the gun from the small of his back, placing it in there. “Cerise, I need you to listen very carefully.”

He made eye contact with her to make sure she was listening, and she nodded, the serious tone he was taking with her telling her that the situation must have been bad. Vanderwood took out the two hotel cards and placed them both in her hands before handing her the bag. “Go up to the room, and stay inside. Keep the gun in your hands. You should have four bullets left. If anyone tries to enter the room without saying…” His voice trailed off for just a moment as he grabbed the first word that came to mind. “Caleb, do not let them in.” So, using his brother’s name, not a bad time for that information really. No one else knew anyway. “I’ll be up there soon. Remember the name.”

What he wanted right now was to kiss her deeply, tell her that everything would be alright, but it wasn’t the time. “Caleb.” Cerise repeated it to him, indicating that she understood before she was making her way up to the rooms, Vanderwood watching her go to make sure she wasn’t followed. Obviously, she would be scared, and if he was being honest, he was too. For the first time in a long time, he had something to live for other than the fear of death. He wanted this not to be their first and last day out.

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Mystic Messenger Fanfiction | VanderwoodxOC Cerise – Tagged | Secret Agent Man

“Let’s see how long you can handle…this!” She pulled up a song on a music app and set it to repeat on the loudest volume setting, putting it by the door. “I hope you like this song, hon~” Cerise laughed, making sure he would be able to hear it through the door. “Oh, who am I kidding, of course you would!’

***No hidden scenes this week, but….I think you’ll enjoy the comedy of this chapter, even if it ends on a bit of a…sour note? ~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***

Cerise had spent the next few days catching up on her favorite telenovela. She couldn’t understand a word they were saying, but she enjoyed it nonetheless, imagining it was a bit like being addicted to crack…except not really. Rarely did she see Vanderwood beyond when he would bring her something to eat, but he would never stay. Cerise had tried inviting him a few times to play a game or watch a movie or just something, but to no avail. It was getting to the point where Cerise was beginning to crave real actual social interaction with actual people, and she felt like she was going to go stir crazy in that room when the evening of the fourth day rolled around. “Hey!” She called out, seemingly talking to a door, if there’d been an onlooker. “Vanderwoooood!” Now she knocked on the door, waiting for a response from him.

The knock and call for him had his heart doing that stupid flip thing again. He’d been trying to keep his distance, as much as he wanted to join her for a game or a movie, it just wasn’t a good idea, not with the way his heart jumped when she talked to him. Mostly, he’d kept to himself, going through intel reports on Jessica and Drawl to brush up on their habits and fighting styles, doing some minor paperwork, and making sure to check in with boss that he’d officially been given the counter-hit job. Of course, only he and Seven knew about Cerise. It wasn’t good to involve a civilian where the agency was concerned. It was really fortunate in this case that Drawl and Jessica had a personal vendetta against him. Vanderwood was planning on killing the two, whether he’d gotten the counter-hit or not anyway, simply because that’s what it would take to keep Cerise safe.

He went to the door, internally groaning at himself and his reactions to her before responding, just another person seemingly talking to a door. “What’s wrong Cerise? Do you need something?” She typically left him alone other than when he brought food, so it was possible something was amiss. The thought wasn’t a comforting one. Vanderwood opened the door for her, eyes quickly sweeping her room for anything, but everything seemed the same, nothing out of place except the beautiful and very petite woman standing there.

Cerise was just happy that he’d come to the door. Not that she’d been expecting him to ignore her or anything. He seemed to be scanning the place over for any trouble, but the only real trouble was that she was so bored. Cerise put on the most pitiful look she could manage and tugged at his shirt. “Yeah…” She started, making sure to sound the part too, so far so good. “I’m really lonely and bored…will you please let me out? I wanna go do something fun.” Cerise wasn’t sure he would fall for her dramatics, but it was certainly worth a try. All for the good of her sanity! She wasn’t above a little trickery.

Vanderwood was…Lord, he was choking on air. It took all of his concentration just to figure out how to talk again with a puppy dog look like that staring up at him. How was he supposed to respond to a look like that, and her tugging on his shirt? What even were words? How even did you use them? He internally slapped some sense into himself, biting his tongue. It simply wasn’t a good idea for her or even him to go out right now, in fact, they should be limiting their contact with other human beings as much as possible. Anyone who saw their faces was at risk of leading Jessica and Drawl right to them, and if they were caught on anyone else’s cameras and posted to the internet, hello facial recognition software and geotags.

She was lucky he was even letting her be on social media, but then again, it was best if no one in her life thought anything was going on and tried to find her at her apartment. By now, it would have been cleaned of any evidence of a struggle, and his blood on the floor, but it would still be a major problem if she had any visitors. Damn…he needed to give her a good answer, puppy dog eyes and all. Vanderwood sighed and leaned his arm against the doorframe. If only they could watch a movie or do something together. Even the thought was overstepping bounds. “I’m sorry, but it’s going to be a while before I let you out. Can’t you find something else to do? Instafram some selfies or something?” Vanderwood didn’t really know what he was talking about. Social media wasn’t something he used personally, especially the picture services.

“A while?” Now she was really pouting, and that really wasn’t good for his heart. “How long is a while? There’s only so much I can post or take selfies about how bored I am before my followers get bored too, ya know?” Cerise sighed and let go of his shirt, still looking up at him. “There’s nothing interesting to do in a hotel room.” I can think of a few things. His internal response was very much an unwanted thought.

Vanderwood just looked at her for a moment before he could find some sort of proper response. “A while is a while. I’m preparing to do a hit, you know. I can’t have our position compromised before I want it to be.” Honesty, as uncomfortable as it was, was what she needed to hear, and what he’d promised himself to give her to make keeping her trust easier, and maybe even hopefully scare her away from him. “Until they’re dead, the likelihood of me taking you out to do anything is pretty slim.” He realized his oversight a little too late, mentally griping at himself that even afterwards he wouldn’t be taking her out to do anything. That wrenched a little at his heart, but he shook his head and pushed off from the door frame. “Start learning another language, or find a game on your phone. I have intel to go through.”

Cerise huffed, clutching her phone in her hand. If he was going to be difficult about it, so was she. It wasn’t like she was asking much, just to wander around the hotel or something. Anything was better at this point than being stuck between the same four walls. When he pushed off from the door frame, she saw her chance. Now she ducked under him and crossed into his room, planting herself on the floor, looking up at him with her arms crossed. By the look of things, all of his work was in here, so it wasn’t like he could just leave. “Guess I’ll just have to hang out here, then.”

God fucking damn it. Her entering his room, well, that was exactly the opposite of what he needed. It was frustrating enough the way he reacted to her whenever he brought her food, even in the simplest of conversation his heart going wild, but now she was in his room. It wasn’t good for him, especially with as long as it had been since his last fix and how irritated he was. That thought didn’t help him any either, because it just made him feel guilty, which irritated him more. Vanderwood had a few choices, pick her up and place her back in her room, potentially making it worse or dissipating what trust they did have between each other, or just dealing with it.

The latter was probably the better option. He was somehow on the road to a recovery thanks to her, not even thinking about grabbing a cigarette anymore. Maybe if he clung to the thought of her long enough he’d be able to kick his bad habits completely. No, probably not. Somehow, he had a feeling that when she went back to her old life, his old life would seem that much more fascinating. Vanderwood closed the door before walking past her to sit on his bed. She was so fucking cute when she was being obstinate, and it honestly made him feel a little angry, certainly tense. He wasn’t angry at her, though, just his own reactions to her. Just don’t touch her, whatever you do. “Find something on the TV then.” At least if she was watching TV, they wouldn’t have to talk much.

Seriously? She was blinking at him in confusion now, tilting her head a bit. Cerise had expected much more protesting from him. Was she disappointed or relieved? At least arguing with him would be something to do. The remote was on the nightstand, seemingly untouched. Did this man not watch TV…? Cerise stood up to retrieve it and then took a place on the floor, at the foot of the bed so it was easier to see the television and have something to lean against.

Shortly after turning on the TV, she found exactly what she wanted to watch. It was a show about a handsome player doctor, a pretty smokin’ lady janitor, and their romance despite all the protests from their families…or at least she thought that was what it was about. Cerise honestly had no idea what anyone was saying, but she watched intently as what appeared to be a cat fight between two women played out on the screen. Even though she was stuck watching TV again, she took comfort in the fact that she wasn’t completely alone.

He’d raised an eyebrow at her show choice, but wasn’t saying anything. Did she even speak Spanish? She was watching the show rather intently, so he couldn’t be entirely sure. It wouldn’t be completely surprising if she did, considering she at least spoke Korean and French. Surely, she could speak another language. Vanderwood snorted softly as the doctor character accidentally called the maid fat. Why was he actually getting into this? He stretched and laid across his bed, Cerise right in front of him at the foot of it. Well, he shouldn’t have done that, but it did feel better for his back. Vanderwood broke the silence out of curiosity, having noticed that she didn’t react to the ‘fat maid’ thing at all. “Do you even know what they’re saying?”

She took her eyes off of the TV and peeked her head over the food of the bed to look at him, not having actually expected him to talk. “Nope!” Cerise now laughed a little, realizing how silly it sounded to watch something she didn’t understand, but hey. A guilty pleasure was a guilty pleasure. “…Do you?” He had snorted at something, probably something to do with the show, unless he was having an interesting conversation in his head.

“Maybe about half of what they’re saying…yeah.” Her laugh had his heart twisting. Why was she so perfect? This one girl was the only one who’d ever made him feel this way. Vanderwood bit his tongue before he explained what little he’d gleaned from the show so far. “The doctor guy accidentally called the maid lady fat, who it turns out is pregnant. That other lady is the doctor’s wife, and the maid just told her about the baby.” Really these shows were incredibly dramatic, and he wasn’t sure he understood why anyone would watch it, whether they understood Spanish or not.

The way Cerise was now looking between him and the TV had him starting to translate what the maid was saying next, but then his face filled with color and he just wasn’t able to finish the sentence. “So, she’s telling the wife all about…nevermind.” Cerise frowned at him. “All about what?” Now she was turning to look towards the TV again and try to guess at it. Whatever the maid was telling the wife, she looked really upset and offended. He had begun to tell her and now she was just dying to know, but it looked like he wasn’t talking.

Wait…was…was he not telling her on purpose? Because she forced her way into his room? She hadn’t seen his massive blush thanks to the TV screen, but Cerise pouted again and climbed up to plant herself beside him now, prodding at him with her pointer finger. “Heeey, Vanderwood, you meanie. Tell me!” Jesus Christ. That made him tense up. What the maid had described was bad enough on its own, but having to tell her with her right next to him?…Could he even control his own mind from slipping to thinking about Cerise doing?…Nope. He mentally slapped himself and bit down on his tongue. Maybe he did need a cig…and a hooker…like he needed air. This was far too much for him. Cerise wasn’t going to stop unless he gave her something, so he tried to get his words worked around enough that he didn’t have to directly translate it. “Alright…so…she described….rather specifically…how that baby was conceived.” That wasn’t too direct, and she’d get the picture probably, or so he hoped. Now he scooted a little away from her, but the bed was only so big.

“Oh!” Cerise said it like the entire world suddenly made sense to her. “So that’s why the wife is so mad.” Now she nodded, pleased with his answer, but not moving from her spot. “You know, I didn’t even know until just now that that was even his wife.” She paused as she watched the TV, one woman slapping the other, causing Cerise to unconsciously wince. “I just…kinda figured she was some salty lady who liked him too. Now the jealousy makes sense.”

Vanderwood snorted softly. “Yeah…things tend to make shit ton of sense when you speak the language of the show you’re watching.” So that was a little douchey of a response, but he was rather a douchey guy most of the time. There was something oddly intimate about watching a ridiculous telenovela with her, and it wasn’t helping him with how tense he felt at all. Now he pushed out of bed to stretch. Maybe exercising would relieve him a little bit. “I’m going to work out for a bit, if you want to go back to your room.” Out of habit, he’d started to pull off his shirt before thinking better of it, noticing the way her eyes widened. He’d at least let her decide whether she wanted to leave first.

Her response was quick, moving to make a grab for a pillow and hanging onto it. “And suffer eternal loneliness again? Never.” She had finally achieved some sort of extended human interaction after what seemed like forever, so she might as well make herself comfortable, because she didn’t plan on moving. Vanderwood returned to taking off his shirt again then, and Cerise’s eyes only continued to widen. Was he really taking his shirt off…right now? Oh no….Don’t say something stupid, don’t say something stupid. “Besides, I think I found a more interesting show.” Her sing song voice didn’t give away the internal screaming as she berated herself. Dammit, Cerise, you had one job!

Fuck. He was too busy internally dying to notice that she was too, as his face lit up with blush again. Vanderwood had literally never blushed around any woman before her. Hell, even in high school when he’d gotten kissed by a classmate, nothing. He groaned at himself internally before he tossed his shirt towards his bag, turning his back to her and stretching for the ceiling, revealing his half demon, half angel wing tattoo, the exit wound scar from the bullet he’d taken for Seven marring a few feathers on the right side.

Cerise felt like her brain had just stopped functioning, and she pretty much lost all interest in whatever was going on on the television. He was really muscular, which made sense considering his line of work. She could feel the heat rising in her cheeks as she just kept looking. It was impossible to tear away her gaze really, now noting the various scars he had, which again wasn’t so surprising. Cerise almost wanted to ask how he’d gotten them, but she didn’t think he’d answer her even if she asked.

Was it rude to keep staring? Probably…but she just couldn’t help it! While his back was turned, she snapped a picture, making sure to zoom in slightly to get a good shot of his tattoo. Vanderwood didn’t notice, thinking it was easy enough to reach the ceiling, being as tall as he was in a country that was mostly built for shorter people. Unfortunately, it wasn’t like Seven’s house where he had installed the bar hanging from his ceiling to use for pullups and sit-ups. On the road, he had to do everything on the floor. If there was one thing he missed while on the road, it was that bar. Now, he got on the ground and started doing sit-ups, trying to pretend that a beautiful woman wasn’t watching him.

She fumbled a little with her phone when he went to do sit-ups, hiding that she had just taken a picture of him. It was almost too much now, and she had to bury her head in the pillow she was holding, otherwise he was going to notice how red she was. Probably red enough to put a tomato to shame. Vanderwood was just happy that she wasn’t watching him anymore. Yet, he found that strangely disappointing too. He finished up his sit-ups and switched to push-ups, first both arms and then one handed, needing to do the full reps on each hand. Had he caught a glimpse of her blushing as she nuzzled more into that pillow? She certainly seemed interested in that thing. Did it smell like him? That was a weird thought to have. What kind of a weirdo thought like that? Or was that normal for people who had crushes? Shit fuck. Best not to dwell on the fact that he had a crush…or whatever.

Now Cerise peeked out over the pillow. He was still going at it. She at least admired his dedication to keep his body in shape even while they were stuck in a hotel. Cerise probably wasn’t doing herself any favors by hiding in the pillow…In fact, she was probably being all the more obvious. This was definitely a lot better than being trapped in her room though…Her eyes flickered to where he was again. Yep, definitely a lot better. She couldn’t help but to…take another picture. Her hands moved automatically like it was the most natural thing in the world for her as she quickly, and not so inconspicuously, took another picture of him.

Had she just? Vanderwood stopped and just stared for a moment. Of course she had. He groaned, and sat up, giving her a look. “Didn’t I ask you to stop taking pictures of me?” Vanderwood had only just started to feel better, and now he was irritated again, pushing off the floor to make a grab for her phone. Cerise squeaked and fell backwards when he reached for her phone. Her first instinct was to smack him in the face with the pillow she had been holding, which promptly fell to the floor as soon as she chucked it, but she made sure to hold her phone away from him so that he couldn’t grab it.

He ended up crouched on top of her, having swatted the pillow she’d thrown at him away. Now he’d managed to grab the phone as well as her hand, but then he looked down at her face which was literally only inches from his. Vanderwood’s face heated up quickly, and he let go of her, sitting back on his haunches and holding his hands up like she was pointing a gun at him. The gun, was just how damn attractive she was to him. What the Hell? He dropped his hands and sighed. “Can you please not?”

It took a second for Cerise to recover. He had been so close. Now she sat up and looked at him. Somehow, he looked annoyed, but he was still…blushing…No matter how harshly her brain told her not to, she leaned forward towards him. She was sure her face was red too, but this was just too perfect of a moment. “Not what?” Cerise all but purred, dangerously close to him now. “This?” She waited until she was basically right up on him to take another picture while his blush seemed to be at its maximum. Payback for not letting her out of her room for all that time.

Fucking Hell. It was taking everything in him not to just grab her and kiss her right then, particularly after she took that picture. Of course, then it would have been out of anger, the need for a fix. Wait…would it have not been that way before the photo? All he knew right now was that he couldn’t have Cerise playing around in his room anymore. He took a deep breath before he stood, picking her up over his shoulder and taking her to the door.

Cerise didn’t have time to respond before she was slung over his shoulder. “Hey!” She protested and struggled a bit before he opened her door and set her down. He was quick to close and lock the door then, talking to her through it. “Have a good night, Cerise. Dinner will be soon.” She was probably all sorts of upset with him, which hurt a bit. He just couldn’t be around her right now, not with what he was wanting to do. Vanderwood could hear her complaints through the door. “Vanderwood, you meanie! It’s only six pm!”

She knew that he could hear her, but he wasn’t responding. It wasn’t like she had been asking to roam the city or anything. Now she tried knocking, no answer still. “Ugh.” Cerise huffed and sat on the bed, hugging one of her own pillows as an idea dawned on her. If he was going to be like this, she was going to make his life Hell until he decided to finally let her out. “Let’s see how long you can handle…this!” She pulled up a song on a music app and set it to repeat on the loudest volume setting, putting it by the door. “I hope you like this song, hon~” Cerise laughed, making sure he would be able to hear it through the door. “Oh, who am I kidding, of course you would!’ And that marked the start of a three-hour loop of the song Secret Agent Man.

He ignored her at first, chuckling a little at how cute she was and then grumbling at himself for thinking that. After a few rounds of the song, he was starting to get irritated. Then the first hour passed, and he tried working out again, but that didn’t help. Next, he attempted to listen to music with his earbuds in for the second hour, but that wasn’t working, because now he could still hear the song in his head. Finally, the third hour rolled around, and he unlocked the door, opening it and pointing towards the door to the hotel hallway. “Turn that God damn music off, and you can leave. Please leave.”

Cerise had heard him shuffling around and walked over to the door. Was he finally unlocking it? Her suspicions were confirmed when she saw his figure appear in the doorway, looking incredibly irritated, his eyebrow twitching like crazy. She did feel a little bad, but she’d won her freedom fair and square, mostly. He didn’t have to tell her twice before she scooped up her phone and left out the door with a song songy “See ya, Vandy!” Cerise didn’t trust herself or anyone around enough to actually leave the hotel, but there was a bar attached. Maybe she could go and meander around there? She certainly wasn’t going to that horrible diner restaurant again. It didn’t take her long to find the bar, the ‘bouncer’ seeming to have dozed off, allowing her to easily get in. Much to her delight, the place was lively. This would do well in curing her boredom for now.

It hadn’t taken long before she got multiple requests to buy her a drink, which she rejected. She wasn’t dumb enough to accept a drink from any random person in there. She wandered around the bar area, honey gold eyes sweeping the place. There were men and women everywhere of all shapes and sizes, the rug a slightly different pattern than the one on the floor of the hotel, and the lights much dimmer. It wasn’t a dance bar by any means, which was a little sad, but she didn’t have her dance pants anyway, and she wasn’t about to allow for any accidental up-skirt pictures. The bar itself was your standard type, a hardwood bar top and the typical barstools. There were tables with chairs all around the place too, but for now, she was staying away from that in favor of the bartender who was calling her over to have a seat at the bar.

“I’ll make you something on the house, if you promise not to tell my boss, that is.” He seemed nice enough, and at least she could watch him make the drink too. Cerise gave him her signature wink. “I won’t tell if you don’t!” It was always best not to accept drinks from sleazy guys unless they were buying it for you right at the bar, and it went straight into your own hands. She kept a close eye on him, making sure he wasn’t doing anything fishy. He was decent looking enough and deserved something for his efforts in wooing her, right? “So, are you here with anyone?” The light flirting she was giving him was of course making it easier for him to bring up conversation, and she didn’t falter in coming up with the backstory Vanderwood had given her. “Just a family friend, showing me around Korea. I’ve been in France and only just got back.”

He nodded, and she noted the way his smile seemed to get a little bigger. So, he probably thought he was getting somewhere. Cerise was really only being polite, but she did enjoy the attention, at least when her lack of filter wasn’t making her internally scream. As he handed the drink to her, he was about to ask her for her number, but instead his eyes grew wide as this tiny woman downed the drink with seemingly no effort. Cerise uttered a thanks and was off again, taking in the scenery of the place a little more, the mass of plants that seemed to get thicker and more…foresty, the deeper she walked into the place.

Weaving through the crowd of people, she came across this rather large and burly man who was loudly boasting that nobody would be able to out drink him. Well…they’d see about that, wouldn’t they? “Excuse me?” Cerise approached him with a smile, and the crowd around him stilled from grumbles to incredulous whispers. “I’d like to challenge you.” Instantly the man, along with his buddies, began laughing, obviously thinking that she was joking, causing her to pout. “I’m serious, you know!” Cerise stared the man down, a fierce look in her eyes that actually made him, as well as his buddies, quiet down.

The biker gulped a little. Damn, this tiny lady had a lot of fire in her. He motioned for her to sit down. “Okay, girly. But if I win…” He thought about it for a moment before a chuckle escaped him. “If I win, you have to go on a date with me.” Now it was Cerise’s turn to laugh. “You won’t win though. When I win, you have to buy everyone here a drink.” The man had a twinkle in his eyes, his rosy red cheeks not indicative of blushing, but he had the cash and now the crowd was excited for this little gal to win more than for him. Well then. A good challenge indeed.

For a few minutes, Vanderwood had just lied in bed, praising, for once, whatever God existed for mercy once the song stopped playing in his head. How long had he even been lying there? That’s when he realized what he’d done. He’d let Cerise out without him. Cerise who had a target on her back thanks to him. Cerise who might have been grabbed by a pimp in this very hotel if it wasn’t for him. This was not okay. Vanderwood was immediately panicking, far more than he usually would when he’d made a mistake.  He had to find her quickly and make sure she was safe.

As he left the hotel room, he couldn’t stop thinking about it. Vanderwood had promised to protect her, and he meant to, no matter how confusing his feelings were for her or how much she annoyed the crap out of him. She didn’t deserve to get hurt just because he was an ass. Granted, her little game had been…still, he shouldn’t have fallen for it. He was supposed to be keeping her safe.

Vanderwood made his way down the stairs of the hotel, trying to gauge where she would go. Hopefully she was still in the hotel. Since she’d mentioned earlier that she didn’t want to leave it, there was a good chance. He figured that she wouldn’t go to the restaurant again, but the only other thing this hotel had was…the bar. The bar. His heart stilled. She could get into a Hell of a lot of trouble in a bar. He was quick to find it, slipping past the ‘bouncer’ and curling his lip in disgust at the sleeping form. What a useless prick, sleeping on the job. Now his eyes scanned the bar area, hard to do thanks to the swathe of other bodies.

Apparently, it was more difficult to find a peach-haired petite shorty in the crowd than he had anticipated. As long as she was here and not out of the hotel…She had to be here. Panic was making his heart race and his body feel colder the more he had to search. Cerise made it so hard for him to think, and it made all the sense in the world to him why you weren’t allowed to be attached to people in the agency. He needed to stop and breathe. A slow and deep breath was hard to take in the midst of panic, but he managed, and once he had, it was much easier to scan the room. That’s when he heard her voice over a throng of people and laughter as he made his way into the more foliaged area of the bar. ‘I’m serious, you know!’

What was she doing? Vanderwood had to push through a crowd of people to finally see her…challenging a man who looked like he was from a biker gang to a drinking match. He was there in a flash, his hand on her shoulder. “We are going back upstairs. Now.” His eyebrow was twitching up a storm and he gave everyone a look, his normally bright brown eyes dark and dangerous as they met the eyes of the burly man who had stood as though to start something with him, the look causing the man to slowly sit back down.

Cerise had jumped at the hand on her shoulder and now turned to look up at him. “Vanderwood?” She thought she had irritated him enough to at least give her a few hours out. Vanderwood wasn’t really paying attention to her as he swept Cerise over his shoulder as effortlessly as he had in the hotel room, taking her out of the bar. Cerise protested, struggling against him to no avail “Hey! This isn’t fair, you said I could go out!” She stopped struggling when she realized it was getting her nowhere and just groaned the entire time until he finally placed her on her feet again once they reached the stairs.

Vanderwood was the first to speak, his voice rather grim and dark. “I’ll take you somewhere tomorrow. Just. No. Bars.” Everything in him felt tight and angry. How could he have made a mistake like that? He didn’t even want to think about what a bunch of drunk men could have done to her. That had him thinking what he wanted to do to her. Now he was just disgusted with himself in every way a person could imagine. He needed a fuck, and he needed it bad, or he was going to go insane, but he wasn’t going to make it her. Cerise was just glowering at him, feeling mildly irritated herself. The promise of going somewhere the next day hadn’t even seemed to help. He’d begun to start up the stairs, but she was now running up ahead of him, a few steps above him, putting them at eye level. “You know, I could have taken that guy.”

His eyebrow twitched and he bit at his tongue, a sharp and angry inhale before he started to gripe at her, like he’d done on many an occasion with Seven and Caleb, the very few. “And tell me, Cerise, what exactly would you have done when he and his drunk friends decided they wanted to take you home? What would you have done if one of those drunkards decided he wanted to find out what you look like naked?” He lived in a world of scumbags, sociopaths, and murderers. At least two of those categories included himself. Vanderwood was absolutely pissed at himself, and now the flood gates of anger had opened.

It was far too easy to pick her up and press her against the wall. “You cannot tell me, that you can take them, that you would have been fine on your own.” He’d been trying to make a point about her physical strength in comparison to his and to those men, but…even the look of surprise on her face didn’t register for him now. Her face was so close, and he was so done. Vanderwood kissed her hard, the unrelenting and emotionless kind he was used to, not even in control of what he was doing, but just searching for relief.

God fucking damn it. No. No, no no. Guilt and shame flooded him like a dam had broken, and he felt sick to his stomach. This wasn’t what he wanted at all. It took him a moment still before he could break away, and that only made it worse. Now he was just stuck staring at her in disbelief. What had he done? He’d treated her like one of his whores and it felt like his heart was actually collapsing in on itself. She deserved so much more than that, so much more than him. He loved her too much to want that for her. Love? What was even happening right now?

Cerise hadn’t let her glare falter except for just a brief moment of surprise when he’d picked her up. She was pissed, and it only got worse from there. His kiss sent an entire shock through her system that her brain couldn’t quite catch up with. He hadn’t been gentle at all…Was he trying to teach her a lesson? About how easy it would be for someone to just take what they wanted from her? What a shitty way to demonstrate. And now he was just staring at her? What did he want her to say? ‘Oh, you have a point, I see the error of my ways now, please lock me back up?’ When she was finally out of her confused daze, she frowned, speaking in a calm voice, despite how angry she was. “Take me back to my room. Now.” She would have just gone herself, but he was the one with the key card.

Vanderwood didn’t say anything. There was nothing to say. He just put her down, walking silently to the room and letting her in. Everything was crushing in on him. More than anything, he wanted to apologize, tell her he hadn’t meant for that to happen, that she deserved better. The words wouldn’t come, and besides that, he needed to get away from her for now, relax, get himself under control, if he even could. Any trust she’d had for him was probably gone now. He realized that he was staring at her closed door. She’d slammed it as she went into the room.

Cerise was curled up hugging the fluffiest pillow she could find, her head buried in it. She felt like she wanted to cry, but she wasn’t going to allow herself to. “What made him think that was okay…” Now she mumbled to herself before flopping onto her back and picking up her phone, trying to occupy herself. She found that even that wasn’t making her feel any better. Sighing, she brought her fingers to her lips…That had been the first time she’d ever been kissed…and it had been wasted on some stupid lesson. “Jerk…”

After he’d finally bothered to enter his own room, Vanderwood just sat on the ground, placing his back against her door. Why couldn’t he control himself? Even with her. She was the most wonderful thing he’d had in his life for years. Cerise made him feel more than he had in years. He’d known he hadn’t had a chance with her, shouldn’t even have thought of the option, knowing what he did of himself. He simply didn’t deserve her and couldn’t have her, but it still hurt beyond reason that he had hurt her. How many hours passed? Maybe it was just minutes? Vanderwood took off his leather gloves, gently tracing the crisscrossing scars along his hand. “Cerise…?” His voice sounded foreign to him after so much silence, but he had to apologize for what he’d done.

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Mystic Messenger Fanfiction | VanderwoodxOC Cerise – Tagged | Day One

There was something happening to him with Cerise, and it wasn’t simply needing a fix, was it? He was getting hopelessly attached to her, and he needed to take care of Drawl and Jessica soon. She needed to get back to her normal life, a normal life without him. The fact that the thought genuinely hurt him had him worried. He’d need to get that done sooner rather than later to avoid anything happening between the two of them.

***So this is what it’s like to be on the run with our favorite secret agent. =0 Special thanks to my official artist and best friend chaoticstarblossoms on tumblr for this new cherrywood art which is absolutely amazing~~~~~ There is a deleted scene this week of Vandy picking out clothes for Cerise so make sure you patrons head on over to get your hands on that!

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. ~Let’s Connect! FFC Tagged Chapter Directory***

(Deleted Scene, Vanderwood buying clothes for Cerise)

The first thing he’d done when they’d gotten to the next town over was find a clothing store that would suit her liking, which he figured meant pink, comfortable, and cute based on how she was dressed the day before and her pajamas now. He’d tried to wake her to get Cerise to go in, but she’d refused thanks to her current state of dress, and that had been the only reason he’d bothered going in for her. It was uncomfortable, in fact it was rather horrible.

Per Cerise’s suggestion, he’d talked to a sales woman about what to choose, but of course he’d ended up in the bra and panties aisle with the woman because, well, Cerise needed those items too. Thanks to his cover story, the woman had picked out a piece of lingerie too, which he tried not to imagine Cerise in as the woman said, ‘I’m sure your girlfriend wouldn’t mind you picking out something for yourself too.’ Vanderwood just shoved all of the clothes into the trunk, tucking a specific clothing item into the far back of it, just like he was doing with his imagination.

It was a relief to him that Cerise didn’t start to wake up until after he’d gone to get her new phone too. When she was sleeping, she was much easier to manage, and she could apparently sleep harder than even Seven. Vanderwood could see her waking up now, though, but maybe that was a good thing, since it was time to find a hotel.

Cerise opened her eyes again slowly, adjusting them to the light. The road still passed by them as she tried to train her eyes on anything outside, hard to do when everything was moving. Instead, she turned her head and let her eyes focus on the man who was currently still driving. How long had it been? She noted that he didn’t look as intense, at least. Cerise yawned and stretched before sitting completely upright. “Morning.” She greeted him with a sleepy smile, rubbing at her eyes. Maybe she’d bug him soon to stop for coffee.

Vanderwood turned his head slightly to see her, a half smirk on his face. “Well, good morning, sleeping beauty.” What would have been and should have been a normal quip, made him feel red-faced and embarrassed. Normally he was so good with women, and it was really starting to bother him. Cerise’s sing song response wasn’t helping him any either. “Well, I have been told that I have quite the cute sleeping face.” Vanderwood was internally groaning again, taking a few minutes before he could talk. “I got your new phone. It’s in that bag on the floor, and when we get to the next town we’ll be staying at, I’ll transfer your files.” That came out normally, good.

Cerise had been taking his few minutes of silence to try and wake up, to process the events up until the current situation, but she perked up immediately at the mention of her new phone. Instantly she was grabbing at the bag, taking it out and examining it. “Oh my God! It’s actually the new model…Yes!” She began to chatter for the next few minutes about all the functions the phone had and how it would help her social media, how much higher quality the camera was and all the new emojis and filters. Cerise couldn’t wait until they finally got to the next town, and she could test out her new toy.

Vanderwood was absolutely stunned by her reaction. The way she reacted to a simple new phone was just…He wasn’t sure whether he was annoyed or endeared. On one hand, he should really be paying attention to make sure that no one was following them, but on the other hand, she was just so adorable talking about the new phone. His heart felt like it had grown wings and was going to fly away that he’d managed to make her so happy. Well, the phone had.

A sign welcoming them to the next town was what reminded him of what they needed to be doing. He had to choose their hotel, and get them checked in. It would be best if it were somewhere that people wouldn’t think for him to go, which gave him an idea. He interrupted her chatter, as much as he almost wanted to hear her go on and on about the phone for eternity. “Cerise, choose a hotel.”

“Wait, me? Well, okay, I guess.” Cerise looked around their immediate area, not bothering to look anything up on her phone. She didn’t want to waste time until she could get into her new phone and get it up and running. There was so much to post about that it would probably take her upwards of two hours if she hurried. The throw away phone was pretty much useless to her. She just couldn’t do anything with it. Cerise pointed to the first hotel that looked…not questionable. “That one looks nice, I think?” That and it looked like it had a restaurant attached to it, which was great because she was starving and really wanted coffee. What was he even looking for in a hotel anyway?

Vanderwood had to admit that the hotel she had chosen looked pretty decent. The best part really was that he hadn’t chosen it. That would slow Drawl and Jessica down as far as finding Cerise and him. Vanderwood found his way into the parking lot, realizing that Cerise still needed to change into some decent clothes. That meant they should probably start with checking into the hotel rooms first. Granted, he was starving, and she probably was too, but that would have to come after.

“Let’s change, check in, and go eat.” His mention of food was like music to Cerise’s ears, and she couldn’t wait to finally get out of the car, that and out of her pajamas to get into some real clothes. It was winter, after all. Vanderwood was apparently thinking about the same thing because he went to the trunk instead of around to the passenger side first. He figured she needed at least some shoes on now, so she wouldn’t have to walk through the parking lot and hotel bare foot.

Cerise was wondering what he was doing in the trunk, but didn’t have to wait long before he was opening the passenger side door, causing her to pull his jacket tighter around her against the cold winter air. Vanderwood handed her the shoes, which she slipped on happily. Thankfully the store he’d gone to seemed true to size because her feet fit perfectly.

Vanderwood had waited for her to put on the shoes before he took her hand to help her out of the car. Holding her hand, even though it was a perfectly normal action, seemed to make his face light up with red again. He coughed to clear his mind so that he could get his brain functioning properly in agent mode. “I’ll get the bags. We’re getting two rooms connected by a door.”

Cerise was thankful for his help, feeling rather stiff from all of her time spent curled up in the front seat. The moment he had taken her hand, though, her chest felt…fluttery? That was weird…His abrupt cough pulled her back to reality, and she looked up at him as he spoke. “Wow…You’re such a gentleman.” The praise had him just not able to process what she was saying as she turned to grab the two cellphones from the car so the files could be transferred later. “A gentleman and good looking, you’re just the whole package, aren’t ya?” She was teasing him but also internally asking herself Why?

Vanderwood somehow managed a “Yup.” Even though his brain was on the fritz. He busied himself with grabbing their bags from the car and locking it before leading her to the entrance of the hotel. Cerise remained quiet, and the entire time he was checking them in, and he was berating himself for not knowing how to respond. His eye scanned constantly as he led her up to the hotel, unlocking her door for her.

“Just knock on our connected door when you’re ready, and we’ll head down together.” It was probably a little strange for her that he was keeping even her room key, but it was safer if he was in charge of her comings and goings. She took the bags that were meant for her, affirming to him that she was listening before disappearing into her own room.

Once he was in his room, he finally had a chance to just breathe and be alone. For the first time that day, he noticed the burning sensation in his abdomen. Everything going on had made him forget that, right, Drawl had stabbed him. He tugged off his shirt, going to the sink to examine the wound. It looked swollen and angry, cauterized instantly thanks to Drawl’s love for knives covered in acid, so at least there wasn’t blood to clean off. The acid did need to come off, though.

After quickly cleaning the cut with some items from his go bag kit, he changed into some normal looking clothes, a purple t-shirt and some jeans, putting his taser in his right pocket for easy access. He needed some comfort right now, but that didn’t mean he was going to go without his favorite weapon. Not that he didn’t have plenty others hidden on his person.

His entire body felt tense and not just from being in the car all day. A cigarette would have been a dream, but that wasn’t an option, and he had to avoid talking to others as much as possible, so getting his other fix wasn’t an option either. Just the thought of getting an escort with Cerise next door was making him feel a little guilty too. He was supposed to be protecting her, considering it was his fault she was in danger in the first place, so he shouldn’t even consider doing something so dangerous.

Cerise had dug through the bags Vanderwood had given her and laid out the new clothes she had received, trying to figure out what to wear. He really hadn’t done so bad picking stuff out, and she could definitely see herself wearing it. It didn’t take her long on deciding what she wanted, opting for a cute top and skirt that she threw a tan jacket over. There was even a matching scarf!

She changed out of her pajamas and into her new outfit to find that it was even really comfortable, much to her enjoyment. When she was satisfied with how she looked, she grabbed her phones, wanting him to make good on transferring the files as soon as possible, and knocked on their connecting doors. “Hey! I’m ready now!” She called out, the last part she emphasized in a sing-song voice. She was not only excited for food but also for her brand-new phone.

As soon as Vanderwood heard Cerise’s voice, he went to open the door only for another shock to his system. Sure, he’d picked out her clothes, even imagined her wearing them, thanks brain, but they were even better actually on her. Vanderwood was certain he was going insane. He couldn’t possibly like this woman, could he? She was nothing like his sexual type, and she was certainly nothing like him. He was cold and brusque and she was lively and excitable. He had to shake his head to clear it.

Cerise was confused as Vanderwood just kind of…stared at her? Her face started to turn red, but she narrowed her eyes and stared back defiantly. He was incredibly attractive, she’d noticed before, but it was impossible to ignore when she was staring at him like this. When he shook his head, she realized that this wasn’t some weird staring contest. She was about to ask him ‘What are you staring at, handsome~’ but thankfully, his talking saved her from embarrassing herself.

“Alright, let’s head down then…For cover story purposes, you’re a family friend, and I’m showing you around Korea.” That would make more sense than, girlfriend because of the separate rooms, and it made a lot more sense for his brain continuing to function. Cerise just listened as he led her down the stairs to the restaurant. It seemed simple enough to her, easy to remember, not to mention she didn’t look completely Korean, so the story would hold more merit. Good thinking on his part!

Vanderwood made their order at the restaurant, and the staff was pretty prompt with taking it, spending a little extra time attempting to chat with them, which he was sure was because the waitress was interested him. He pretty much ignored her. Cerise was just surprised at how fast their order was taken and their waitress seemed super friendly to her. She was liking this place already.

He wasn’t talking much, which was boring, and to avoid sitting there in awkward silence, Cerise looked around curiously. Normally, she would just use her phone to keep her attention, but the poor little throw away phone just couldn’t keep up and ended up frustrating her, doing more harm than good. Her followers would just be even happier when she returned.

Vanderwood scanned the restaurant for any sign of trouble, anyone looking their way unnecessarily. Mostly, he saw the usual reaction of shock of people reacting to him. He wasn’t exactly inconspicuous, with his height, let alone just the air he gave off usually made people either uncomfortable or turned on, depending on the person. Vanderwood noted that there was one person continually sending glances their way, but he wasn’t looking at Vanderwood, he was eyeing Cerise. Vanderwood’s eyebrow twitched. Could he really blame the guy? Cerise was pretty cute. That thought just made his eyebrow twitch again.

Cerise’s eyes locked with a young man’s from the next table over and he averted his gaze quickly, looking down with a large blush. As she continued to look around trying to amuse herself, she would catch him staring at her again, and she would just flash him a smile and wave before she decided she would just go talk to the flustered guy. Vanderwood was already getting more irritated with the way she was interacting with the kid, but then she was saying “Hey, I’ll be right back.” In her sing song voice, and before he could give her an answer, she had made her way to the table, pulling up a chair opposite of the young man.

Vanderwood had wanted to tell her that she would be doing no such thing and grab her wrist, but that would have been an overreaction, and he hadn’t had time to come up with an appropriate response that could keep her at his table. Instead he settled for watching her from his own seat. They were talking and laughing, and Vanderwood could feel irritation growing by the second. The more she smiled at the other guy, the more he felt his body growing tight. This wasn’t normal for him at all. Vanderwood felt…possessive. He wanted to keep her safe, and he was certain his irritation over this young guy was just the physical reaction to his sense of duty to protect her.

She was talking and laughing with the guy for a few minutes before he scribbled something down on a napkin and shyly handed it to her. Cerise thanked him with a wink before getting up and returning to her own table, sitting down with a giggle. She’d have to wait to put the number he had given her into her new phone once it was in working order. Vanderwood was almost going to say something, but as Cerise returned to the table, seemingly pleased with her conversation, the waitress appeared again with their food.

Vanderwood gave the waitress a smirk, where before he had ignored her. He needed some sort of relief for his frustration, so maybe a small bit of playing around wouldn’t be so bad. “Thanks for the food, sexy.” Her face turned red, but she made a motion to sit next to him, which he didn’t refuse. She whispered something in his ear about when she would get off work and that he should meet her after her shift. Nice, one night stand material. Just as quickly, she was gone to help her other customers.

Cerise watched the scene in front of her unfold with a slight confusion. He had seemed disinterested in everything before now. Honey gold eyes flickered between him and their waitress as the woman sat down next to him and whispered into his ear. She watched as the woman got up and walked away, scrunching her nose up before talking. “She’s…really nice?” Cerise picked up a fork to dig into some pasta that she had ordered. She noticed that even the guy she had talked to earlier was staring at their waitress. Weird.

“Nice isn’t exactly what I go for.” He speared a sausage on his fork and took a bite before noticing the waitress giving a little display. The woman seemed to drop something before letting out a quite audible ‘oops!’ then quite dramatically bending over to pick it up. Vanderwood grimaced in disgust. He wasn’t one for shows, but what he really needed was someone quick to get in and out of bed. The thought occurred to him that he really shouldn’t be getting anyone into bed for the time being, but something about Cerise’s new ‘friend’ was making him too irritated to care. The fact that even that guy was watching the woman’s display, too eagerly, only made it worse. Somehow, he’d have to help Cerise lose the guy’s number.

She was a little confused by his comment. “Go for? Oh…” So that’s what he meant by that. The exchange with the waitress made so much more sense now. Cerise shook her head, blushing from the blatant display for attention and letting herself focus on her pasta in front of her. Okay, so the waitress had forgotten her coffee. Despite how much she had wanted it, she was not about to invite that woman back over to them. Cerise was going to have to endure without that heavenly liquid crafted by the Gods themselves. Woe was her.

His eyes strayed to the waitress again. With the way this one was acting, he wasn’t entirely sure she was just a civilian. More likely, she was a fuck you and steal your wallet kind of whore. Vanderwood looked back to Cerise to realize that her coffee hadn’t arrived and raised his still gloved hand, indicating they needed the waitress to come back. She scampered over quickly. “Hey, lovely, my friend here still needs her coffee.” Vanderwood wasn’t eager to spend time with the waitress by any means, but he was paying for coffee so he’d better receive what he paid for. That was his only rule for spending money in general.

Cerise had opened her mouth to protest when he called the waitress back, but didn’t want to make a scene of it. Now, Cerise looked down and poked at her pasta some more, forgetting that she actually had to eat it. She sunk down in her chair a little and waited. If anything could brighten her spirits, coffee could. Cerise didn’t have to wait long for her coffee to get to her, which was great, but she could have done without the display of melons that the waitress was now giving Vanderwood.

The waitress had bent over to give Vanderwood a glimpse of her cleavage once she’d brought the coffee. He had to admit she had some decent curves, and now he decided to test his theory from before, leaning forward to whisper in the waitress’ ear, asking for her rate. Vanderwood caught a lock of her hair between his fingers and slid it out of his hand just as quickly. This one was definitely not a civilian with the way she so easily let him do as he pleased. She winked at him before indicating a man in another booth he’d only briefly noticed earlier. So that was the pimp.

When she was gone he went back to eating like he hadn’t done anything. Cerise was just shoveling pasta in her mouth, likely trying to distract herself too, and on some level he felt bad for the little show he’d forced her to watch, but it was all for the sake of information. He wasn’t going to use this woman’s services, she was too cheap for one and had pretended not to be a whore in the first place. If there was one thing he hated, it was a liar.

He saw the pimp approaching first, but he could tell that Cerise had noticed him too out of the corner of her eye. The man was rather plump, middle-aged, and Vanderwood could already smell him. That was not something anyone could call pleasant. Cerise had turned her head to watch curiously as the man made his way toward them. He seemed to be dressed nicely, but the closer he got, the more she noticed that he indeed did not smell nice, causing Cerise to absentmindedly scoot her chair back. Vanderwood could hardly blame her. The man leaned his hand on the table and started to talk with a crooked, toothy smile.

“Ey.” He greeted them, keeping his eyes on Cerise who replied “…ey?” cocking her head to the side. “I…like your hat?” This was really awkward. What did this guy even want? The man grinned even wider and straightened said hat. “Yeah, yeah. It’s coo ain’t it. Say listen…” Now he turned his attention to Vanderwood, putting a hand on his shoulder. Usually pimps would let the johns come to them, so as much as Vanderwood didn’t like the man anywhere near Cerise and certainly did not like the man touching him, he was going to wait and hear what the man had to say, even though his skin was starting to crawl with the need to get away from this obviously dirty person.

The pimp kept up his toothy grin the entire time, scratching at his cheek occasionally before replacing his hand on Vanderwood’s shoulder over and over. If this tall man was so interested in his girl, maybe he would make a deal for this little one…? “I saws you puttin’ the moves on my girl over there and that’s coo, that’s coo. She’s a good girl.” Now he was moving to sit down next to Vanderwood, which he allowed without a fuss even though the guy absolutely reeked, causing Cerise to scoot back further. Whatever was happening she did not feel comfortable. The vibes this man was giving off were really strange.

“I was wonderin’ if you’d be interested in a lil trade?” As soon as the mention of trade was made, Vanderwood raised an eyebrow. “Excuse me?” What the Hell was that supposed to mean? The nasty man continued onward, not noticing or too stupid to notice that neither of the people at the table were actually interested in what he had to say, laughing in a dry cough that grated on their ears and made Cerise shiver.

“Ya see…some mens – well a lot of dem actually, dey would pay a lot, and I mean a lot, of money to have a legal ho whos looks like a kid, like dat one dere.” The man then gestured towards Cerise. Her honey-colored eyes widened at his comments. She’d had her fair share of creepy comments directed towards her, but nothing like this. The only thing she could do was sit and stare in disbelief at what was happening. Surely Vanderwood wouldn’t give her over to a creep like this…She’d have to think of something quick just in case things went South.

Vanderwood’s eyebrow twitched as the man talked. He’d suggested one, that Cerise should be a ho, and two that she looked like a kid. There was something ugly stirring in his chest. It’s not like Cerise was that important to him, but the things this asshole was saying were definitely making Vanderwood vehemently angry. “Whatdya say? My ho for yours, I’ll even gives ya fifteen percent of her earnings.” Now he was holding his hand out to Vanderwood.

He looked over to Cerise before he looked at the pimp, giving him a smirk as he took the man’s hand, seemingly like he was going to agree. That moment, Cerise’s heart fell. She didn’t have time for the panic to set in before Vanderwood was yanking the man forward. Vanderwood was squeezing the guy’s hand like no tomorrow and pressing his taser hard into the guy’s side.

Cerise couldn’t tell what Vanderwood was threatening the man with, but he looked absolutely terrified, which served him right. She listened as Vanderwood leaned towards the man, seeing his nose crinkle in disgust at the stench. “Here’s the deal. You are going to apologize to this beautiful young woman, and then you are going to turn around and walk. You’re going to walk, and walk, and walk, until you’re out of this hotel and you’re never going to come back. In exchange, I won’t tase you to death.” Vanderwood let go of the reeking man, shoving him away with a scowl, his eyes dark and menacing. Really, the man was lucky to not be dead.

Despite the intense and even a little frightening situation, Cerise found that Vanderwood’s words were having quite the effect on here. He’d really just called her beautiful? She felt her face heat up a little despite everything happening. It was like his words held a greater weight than the ones the gross older man had said about her, as negative as they were. The smelly pimp couldn’t get away fast enough, uttering a quick, half-assed apology before he rushed out the door.

The whole establishment had their eyes on them at this point but Cerise didn’t really care. “Hey, Vanderwood…thanks for that.” She was really happy that he had been there; she didn’t know what she would have done if she had been on her own, and more importantly, the way he had fiercely defended her sent her heart into a frenzy. She’d be the first to admit that she was weak for those kinds of things in the things she read, but to have it actually happen to her?

He had been giving a dark look to those looking their way, daring them to say or do something, irritated with himself and angry at the pimp because of the display which could be of danger to Cerise and him, but her thank you brought his attention back to her. Was she blushing? Oh God, now he was blushing, and his heart was doing that strange flip thing again. He rubbed the back of his head awkwardly. “Don’t mention it. He was way out of line…Let’s pay and get back to our rooms for now.” She wasn’t about to argue with that; she wanted to get away from that place as soon as possible.

The waitress was terrified of him now, bringing his ticket and taking it and his money back as quickly as possible. He paid her no mind, his interest soured over her pimp, although he would love a cig or something to relax, but it was just as well. Vanderwood led Cerise back up to the room, and to her relief, they made it there with no incident. It seemed like her life had gotten significantly more complicated since moving to Korea again.

Vanderwood could feel his skin crawling, still thanks to that disgusting piece of shit having touched him so much. His OCD could occasionally be coupled with germophobia, thanks to the need for everything around him to be so clean, but he noticed Cerise’s phones still both clutched in her hand as he held her door open.

Cerise turned around when he spoke. “I think…I owe you transferring your phone files now.” Her phone…she had almost forgotten about it with all of that commotion going on. Almost. She nearly squealed as she jumped to grab her new phone and the old one, handing them both to him excitedly. “This is going to be so great! I have so much to catch up on.”

He snorted softly at her excitement, taking the phones and grabbing the cord from his pocket to connect the two. “You’re really cute when you’re excited.” Fuck. He hadn’t really meant to say that out loud. Nothing to do about it now. Vanderwood had meant to pretend that he hadn’t said anything but then she responded along with a playful punch and wink. “You’re not so bad yourself~”

God, his face was red. Vanderwood went through the new phone, in part to distract himself but also because he needed to ensure once again that the geotags were off. He just couldn’t control himself or act normal with Cerise. Once he was done with her phones, he handed the new one to her before forcing his mind to work on putting together sentences.

Cerise was already burying herself in the new phone, tapping away, only stopping when he began talking to her again. “Ground rules. One, you don’t leave this room unless I’m with you. Two, you do not tell anyone where you are staying or why you’re staying there.” He looked her in the eyes, locking brown to honey gold, wanting to make sure she understood how important what he was saying was. “If you need anything at all, I’m right next door. If you hear something strange, see anyone following you or looking at you in a way that makes you uncomfortable, you tell me. I’ll protect you, Cerise, okay?” Why was it so important to him that she believe him? It was just about making his life easier while he took care of her, certainly…No, there was something to it; he just didn’t understand it.

“Okay.” She nodded, indicating that she understood what he was saying. Cerise could totally lay low for a few days, catch up on her shows and blog posts. Especially since she now had a hold of this beautiful new phone. Piece of cake! After today, Cerise had no doubt in her mind that he would protect her, which made her feel comforted even when she was supposedly trying to get away from two deranged maniacs. Cerise smiled and stared at him for a moment, his face and especially his eyes looked really intense in that moment; it was a perfect opportunity for…She quickly snapped a picture with her new phone, for the first time right in front of his face, giving him a wink. “Sorry, couldn’t help it~”

Damn it. Cerise was going to be the death of him. He already felt like he was having a heart attack every time she did anything but her wink was just…not helping. At least she seemed to be listening to the ground rules, so that was good, although the way she’d just taken that photo made his eye twitch. Maybe she would literally be the death of him. “I have the feeling you aren’t sorry at all.” Vanderwood hated his picture taken, let alone the attention he was apparently getting from her followers. It wasn’t something he liked to think about, even Seven had already called him Vanderhottie in a text he’d checked while Cerise had been sleeping in the car. Really, it was just one big security risk too, particularly if he started getting recognized on the street.

Vanderwood needed a cig, but he just sighed. “Do me a favor and make that the last one you take of me, alright?” He was far gentler with her than he would have been with anyone else, but now he decided it was best to get out of there before she tried again. Cerise seemed like the type to do it again simply because he asked her not to. Vanderwood ducked into his own room, flopping onto the bed and sending a few messages to Seven before staring at the ceiling.

Cerise was somewhat disappointed, almost having wanted to snap another quick picture just for defiance’s sake before he slipped away. Oh well. She spent the rest of her day lounging about her hotel room, getting accustomed to her new phone. It was everything she’d hoped it would be and more. After about three full hours getting caught up on her social media, she’d done pretty much everything she could with it. It looked like her followers were just eating up the previous pictures of Vanderwood she had taken. Cerise pulled up the one she’d taken of him earlier that day. If she posted it, it was sure to be a hit, but she couldn’t help but want to keep just that one to herself. She noticed that he was rather quiet; she couldn’t hear anything beyond the door. Was he even in there? Must have been a secret agent thing.

He was lost in his thoughts for the rest of the day, only slipping out of them when Seven sent him some files of information to on Jessica or Drawl to review. When Seven sent him a file on Cerise, Vanderwood opened it instantly, but he could only get past the first sentence stating her age and birth date before he felt like he was invading her privacy. She was quite a bit younger than him…but he didn’t care. Vanderwood bit his tongue.

There was something happening to him with Cerise, and it wasn’t simply needing a fix, was it? He was getting hopelessly attached to her, and he needed to take care of Drawl and Jessica soon. She needed to get back to her normal life, a normal life without him. The fact that the thought genuinely hurt him had him worried. He’d need to get that done sooner rather than later to avoid anything happening between the two of them.

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Mystic Messenger Fanfiction | Tagged – VanderwoodxOC Cerise | The Long Road Begins

Once they were about halfway to the next town, he tossed her phone out of the window and onto the side of the road. It wouldn’t be terribly long before they made it to the next town, but it felt like he had a long road ahead of him, at least figuratively.

***It’s about to get Hella intense in here, so everybody buckle up. Also, you should totally get your hands on the new Drawl Backstory available to patrons only.

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Why could he never get a full night’s sleep? Vanderwood had of course trained himself to be a light sleeper, so clearly that was why, but it never ceased to annoy him just how often something would wake him at night. This time it was his phone buzzing like crazy. He rolled over to grab it, expecting it to be from boss, only to unlock the screen to find a slurry of texts, screenshots of photos of him, and one with Cerise with him in the background.

His internal dialogue was Fuck. She had been taking photos after all. He’d noticed but had completely forgotten about it again, a huge mistake. The screenshots themselves weren’t the worst of it. There were comments from the unknown sender. ‘She’s got such pretty eyes, pity if I were to pour acid into them?’ ‘Look at those fingers, just begging to be bent back.’ ‘This is what you get for getting attached, Vanderhottie.’

Vanderwood felt sick, but instantly he knew who these messages were from. Drawl. (Get Drawl Backstory by becoming a patron.) He was up and getting changed in mere seconds, running out of the room to grab one of Seven’s keys, not bothering to take the time to ask. If Drawl had Cerise…he didn’t want to think about it, and he certainly didn’t have much time. The guy was a sociopath. From the information the agency had, he’d even murdered his own family just to become an agent for the rival agency. (insert Drawl hidden scene backstory) What was worse, Vanderwood had shot the guy in the shoulder and completely shattered it. Drawl wasn’t exactly known for being forgiving.

He was panicking, speeding down the highway to the address Drawl had screenshotted from Cerise’s geotags. This was all his fault, and he couldn’t let her get hurt. Cerise was just a civilian, one that wasn’t supposed to be involved in this shit at all, but look how the cookies had crumbled. She shouldn’t have been in his life for even a second.


Drawl smirked, this was going to be so much fun. Vanderwood deserved it too. It had taken months for Drawl’s shattered shoulder to heal. The lock was easy to pick, nothing to it. Such a nice little apartment Vanderwood’s sweetie had. The girl wasn’t hard to find, sleeping soundly in her bed.

Well, she had been sleeping soundly until Drawl pressed his hand down over her mouth and nose, watching her struggle for air for a while. All Cerise knew was that she could not breathe. She struggled against her attacker, and she so desperately wanted to scream, but couldn’t. He was feeling his pants grow tight from the image. Watching the panic, seeing the life leave a woman’s eyes was always great, oh, it was great. He disappointedly removed his hand from her face to allow her to grab some gasps of air as he pressed a knife against her side to keep her still and under his control.

Cerise wasn’t sure how long she was deprived of air, but it seemed like an eternity. As soon as the hand came off, she gasped for air, breathing heavily. Her blood ran cold, senses coming back to her once she felt the cold touch of the blade against her side. Normally she would fight, but there was nothing she could do with a knife pressed against her. She had only just started breathing again, but she was choked with fear now.

He wasn’t a weak man, far from it. Some likened him to a chimp or an orangutan because of his thick body and square features. Still, it was easier if they didn’t fight him openly, and much more fun to watch them struggle aimlessly. The fear in their eyes was always most intoxicating. It was just unfortunate that he couldn’t feel their soft skin anymore, thanks to the way his acids had burned away the sensations in his fingers. It was well worth it to have acid covered blades to cut with. That always kept them from bleeding out.

His slow and deliberate tone as he bent to mutter in the girl’s ear gave away the reason for his nickname. “Hello, sweetheart, we’re going to play a game.” That voice, even just the sound of her attacker speaking was enough to make her feel nauseous. Drawl took his time in tying her up, Cerise struggling lightly. It wouldn’t do her any good, she was too small to do any real damage to the man.

Right now, the only thing she could do was observe him, as much as even his person was repulsive. His dark black hair was a greasy mess, peppered with gray although he didn’t look old. Even his eyes were black, glinting with an intent that made her entire body feel cold. Now he was sitting on the edge of her couch, playing with the point of his knife against his thumb. Just his clothes were enough to make someone uncomfortable, an oversized puke green jacket, brown pants, and black combat boots clearly meant to make him appear taller. The man’s skin was a dark brown, but his hands were discolored as well as discolored splotches on his wrists.

Drawl’s voice broke her observation, making her whimper. “Do you think your Vanderhottie will come quickly enough to save your pretty little lips? I might just cut them off…and he’d never get to kiss them then, would he?” Who was this guy even talking about Vander…oh. The man from earlier. She started to cry and plead. “No, I really don’t know him, please. My…my parents are rich…is…is it money you want?” Now she was sobbing, her voice broken. Cerise wished that she would have just listened to her parents and stayed in France where it was safe.

He snorted at the girl. She thought money mattered. Although, he was disappointed when she said she really didn’t know Vanderwood. The one good thing was that Vanderwood was the kind of guy who would do anything to protect a civilian, so he’d still come. The revenge wouldn’t be nearly as sweet, but he could always have his way with the girl afterwards. His slow voice held a snide tone as he replied to her desperate pleas. “Money doesn’t matter to me. I have plenty. Revenge, blood, people screaming in fear, that’s what I like. Speaking of…” He took out his phone and snapped a photo, captioning it ‘Hurry.’


His phone was buzzing again; he was almost there. It seemed like it was taking far too long to get there, even driving as fast as he was. Vanderwood risked checking his phone and his heart was at his feet, fear like a living thing in his chest. Seeing Cerise like that…This was his fault, and he had to get there in time to keep her from getting hurt. If she’s not already. The thought had him practically pressing the accelerator to the floor.


This had to be a dream…These kinds of things just didn’t happen in real life. Only on TV. She was brought back to reality as her attacker approached her, pressing the cool metal of his knife against her throat, a light burning sensation accompanying it. “I think I hear our Vanderhottie friend…” Drawl’s typically slow voice was dragging out even more as his smile spread wide. Cerise didn’t dare to make a noise or even to breathe too hard, fearful for her throat and her life.

Vanderwood realized quickly as he parked that his taser would do him no good since Drawl’s weapon of choice was also close range. He reached under the driver’s seat to grab the emergency gun stashed there. Thankfully, there was on in each of Seven’s cars as well as the ones he had on his own body. As soon as he had the weapon, Vanderwood nearly jumped out of the vehicle, kicking her door open, allowing him to keep use of his weapon, quickly scanning the room to point it at Drawl. Cerise desperately wanted to feel relieved as soon as she saw the source of the crashing, but there was still a knife to her throat, making her panic.

That knife against her throat had Vanderwood panicking every bit as much as she was. It was an unfamiliar feeling to him, true panic. He hadn’t felt fear like that in years. It nearly had him doing something rash, but he couldn’t afford to have feelings right now. “Leave her the fuck alone. She’s got nothing to do with me or you.” He was angry, pissed really, wanted to beat Drawl into a bloody pulp, but he had to get his hands on the smiling bastard first. “Didn’t you hear me? Get the fuck away from her. She’s a civilian, you ass.”

Drawl still wasn’t moving. He just kept smiling more and more, watching like he liked to. Vanderwood realized that clearly this wasn’t working. The feelings swirling around inside of him had his muscles taught and tensed, and they weren’t helping his focus. He took a deep breath, shoving them away. Finally, he looped the gun around his thumb, pulling his taser out of his pocket with his other hand to drop it to the floor. “Just step away from her, and you can have me. That’s what you want. You know you can’t touch her without your agency punishing you.”

Now Drawl finally moved, pulling away from Cerise to stand and approach Vanderwood. Cerise felt like she could finally breathe again once the knife was away from her throat, but all she could do now was watch the scene in front of her unfold, unable to move. She felt so useless, she couldn’t even call the authorities. That gave her an idea. She glanced over at her nightstand. Good, her phone was still there. Her attacker was advancing towards Vanderwood as she attempted to wiggle free from the rope binding her.

“I guess you are right…as much as I’d love to scar that pretty little skin.” The man’s voice made her skin crawl as she continued to attempt to reach her phone. Drawl was approaching Vanderwood warily. He was too short to reach the gun looped around Vanderwood’s thumb, so Vanderwood had to lower it for him. Drawl pressed his blade against the lower left side of the taller man’s abdomen, letting it press in just slightly, using his blade again for some leverage. Cerise had looked over from her attempts just in time to see it, causing her to gasp in surprise. Still, Vanderwood seemed to be taking it well enough.

The only reaction Vanderwood gave was a sharp intake of breath as the blade pierced him, acid burning and instantly cauterizing the wound. He knew what he needed to do. Although Vanderwood wasn’t fast, Drawl was even slower, and he was able to grab the man’s wrist, letting the blade press in even farther in favor of grabbing Drawl’s throat, squeezing his wrist until Drawl couldn’t hold on to the knife anymore. It clattered to the floor as Vanderwood applied the same treatment to his neck. Cerise had never seen anything like this, and she watched as he gained the upper hand over her attacker. She wanted to look away, she really did, but she couldn’t take her eyes off the scene. Then the man went limp in Vanderwood’s grasp. Was he dead?

Vanderwood grimaced at Drawl as he dropped him onto the ground. The creep’s smile hadn’t faltered the entire time. He didn’t have much time now, knowing that Drawl had a partner. How had he even been alone here in the first place? It didn’t matter; time was of the essence. Vanderwood moved to untie Cerise, and that was what finally made her able to tear her eyes away from the scene, jumping a little at his voice, even though it was far more welcome than the voice of the other man. “I’m not going to hurt you, alright? But you’re going to have to trust me, because I need to get you out of here.” He was trying to keep his tone as calm and even as possible, even though he was irritated and panicked beyond belief. She wasn’t used to these kinds of experiences, so he had to be gentle. “If Drawl was here, backup isn’t far behind, so we need to leave fast.” Cerise nodded, her voice still shaky. “O-okay…” As soon as she was free from the ropes, she made a grab for her phone, yanking the charger out of the wall.

Irritation was very much his enemy at the moment as he snorted at that damn phone of hers. He was going to have to take it from her later, but now he needed to get them out of there. “The black car outside, get in.” His tone was brusque because it had to be. Drawl needed to be dealt with permanently, and it was always his disgusting job to take care of that. Vanderwood grabbed the gun and taser before returning to look down at Drawl’s limp body.

She did as she was told, not wanting to stick around and tempt fate. Cerise shivered as she felt the nighttime winter air hit her skin, making her way to the black car and quickly hopping in. Her bare feet felt like ice cubes. Was she really going to let this stranger take her away from her apartment? He had just saved her life, even if it sounded like he’d been somewhat the reason she was in trouble anyway, but she trusted him. She had to…and there was just something about him that she couldn’t quite shake.

Vanderwood was bending down to finish the job when he heard it, the sound of another vehicle’s brakes grinding the car to a halt. Damn it. He was out of time. Vanderwood ran out of the house to see Jessica on the way out of her car. He flipped her off before hopping into his, putting pedal to the metal. “Hang on, Cerise.” There wasn’t even time to put his seatbelt on before they were peeling off away from the scene.

Cerise held on to the ceiling handle tightly as soon as he’d gotten into the car, although she hadn’t managed to put her seatbelt on either. He was driving like a bat out of Hell, but she couldn’t really complain. She just wanted away from the man that had attacked her, silently staring out of the window and trying to make sense of everything in her head.

He was focused on getting away and to Seven’s garage, running through an action plan as he went. They would need to switch cars and head out of town to lie low somewhere. She was in far more danger than any civilian ever should be, and there was a lot of guilt there, but he didn’t have time for it right now. Thankfully, his go bag was already in the red car, so they could switch over pretty quickly. His eyes searched the rearview mirror to see that no one was tailing them, allowing him to slow down and drive far more legally.

She was quiet, reflective even, as he watched her from the corner of his eyes. This was probably the biggest shock of her life, and he had done this to her. Cerise was thinking, why her? What luck was this? Her phone made her jump when she felt it vibrate in her lap. Vanderwood watched as she put in her pass code and immersed herself in the world of what he assumed was social media. Her fingers were tapping at her phone’s screen at an alarming speed. She was clearly freaked out, it was only too obvious. On one side, he wanted to destroy her phone since it and his stupidity had gotten them into this mess, but on the other, it seemed to be helping her, somewhat of an escape, which he only understood all too well.

He sighed and bit his tongue before he began to speak, feeling like the words needed to be said, like he was compelled to comfort her. “I’m sorry…I got you into this. But I’ll keep you safe, I swear to God, I will.” He felt like complete shit for doing this to her, and although he didn’t trust any God, he would swear to all of them just to make the point to her that he was going to protect her. She was under his protection now, even though she shouldn’t have had to be.

Cerise looked up when Vanderwood spoke, not really knowing how to respond. Keep her safe? Were there more of those creeps…? “Are they…will they just leave you…us alone?” He had to shake his head at her question, as much as he wished he could just drop her off back at home and she would be fine, it simply wasn’t the case. “We’re going to have to go on the run until I can backtrack them or they find us, and I terminate them. Undoubtedly, Drawl’s got a hit out on me now…the guy that attacked you. I didn’t have time to take care of him before his partner showed up.”

Take care of him? So, the guy wasn’t dead, but Vanderwood had intended to kill him. The thought made her shiver more than the cool air did. Vanderwood thought that all of that was probably terrifying enough to listen to, and he didn’t want her to be afraid of him, but it felt wrong not to be honest. She had her eyes trained on him, listening intently as he talked. “I’m a secret agent. They’re from a rival agency. They found pictures of you and me on the internet and used the geotags to find you. So…until they’re dead, I’m going to take care of you.” It wasn’t up for debate, not that he thought she was going to argue.

Vanderwood pulled into Seven’s garage. It only made sense that Cerise was terrified, and he was going to need to be a little gentler than his usual to make her able to trust him, so he did his best not to sound gruff, as much as he was tense and frustrated. “Stay in this car until I say to move, alright?”

Cerise couldn’t help but feel a pang of guilt as she thought over what he’d said, staying in the car as he’d instructed and fiddling with her phone to pass the time. The pictures…this was her fault. It’s not like she knew that he was a secret agent, though, that wasn’t something that came up in real life…being tied up by a psycho, running into secret agents. Did that mean…she had to be on the run for a while? With him? In any normal circumstance, she’d be all for a road trip…and with a cute guy, no less. This wasn’t that situation, though.

He tried not to take too long as he went inside to exchange keys, grabbing the ones for the red car. Vanderwood harshly woke Seven and explained the situation, getting the kid to begrudgingly agree to loan him the red car mostly because they didn’t have much time to figure out anything else. Then Vanderwood returned to the garage, opening the door for her. “Alright, we’re moving to the red car.” He offered his hand to help her out. It was hurting him so badly that this was happening. She was just a normal person; she wasn’t a part of this, and he’d made her a part of it.

She hesitated before taking his hand, letting him help her out of the car. As soon as her bare feet hit the cold concrete she remembered again that she hadn’t grabbed shoes…or clothes for that matter. Clutching her phone, she looked down. Yep. Still in her pajamas. In the wintertime. Good job, Cerise! She wanted to slap herself for not thinking to at least grab her coat by the door.

Vanderwood finally took stock of her clothes when he saw her react to the cold concrete floor and heat instantly went up into his face. She wasn’t even his ‘type’ and yet his heart was doing gymnastics as he looked at her. Her ‘pajamas’ were just a pink flowy tank top and shorts combination, the top not quite fully covering her midriff. His face turned bright red as he took off his jacket and draped It over her shoulders gently. “Wear this until the car heats up…” The red-faced agent opened the passenger side of the red vehicle for her. “I’ll get you some new clothes to wear once we get to the next town.” He’d also need to take care of her damn phone, sooner rather than later.

His jacket was huge on her, as well as heavy. It might as well have been a blanket, but she was grateful for it either way. She wrapped it around herself as she got into the other car. “Thanks.” The promise of new clothes was another thing she was grateful for. Cerise definitely didn’t want to be seen in public with just her pajamas on…even if she did look amazingly cute in them. Still not something she should be seen in public in.

Once he’d helped her into the car, Vanderwood got in and started it up, letting it get going on warming up. They didn’t have a lot of time before he was certain the rival agency would have people watching traffic cam footage and potentially trailing them, but the geotags on her social media needed to be turned off before she had the chance to post again. She needed a new ip address too. “I need you to hand me your phone.” Vanderwood was gentle and matter of fact about it as he held out his hand expectantly.

“My phone…?” She stared at him blankly. He wanted her phone? That wasn’t going to happen. Her phone was a part of her, and she wasn’t about to hand it over to someone she barely knew. “You mean this?” Cerise kept eye contact with him as she pulled her phone into his eyesight, letting him get a good look at it before defiantly shoving the phone into her shorts, beneath the strap of her panties. If he wanted her phone, he was going to have to work for it.

Holy Jesus his face was red, and he felt like a complete mess. There was no way he could put his hand down her shorts. Hell, he wasn’t even sure with as irritated as he was that he could control himself right now. That defiance was…sexy…coming from this cute little lady, and he had to shut down his brain. Vanderwood coughed softly, shaking his head to clear it of any dirty thoughts before he could explain, trying to reason with her. “I need to give you a new one, and in order to move all your information to the new one, I’m going to need the old one. Need to turn off your geotags too. So, you give me the phone, or they find us. Every second we wait, the more danger we’re in.” Hopefully that would be enough to get through to her on some level.

“I don’t want a new one. Find another way.” Cerise huffed and turned her head away from him, crossing her arms. She knew that judging by how red he had turned, he wasn’t about to reach into her shorts to grab her phone. If he was that serious about it, he would find another way around it, because there was no way in Hell she was giving anyone her phone. She may be in danger, but her phone was her life.

Vanderwood internally groaned. Cerise was going to test his patience during this whole situation, he had a feeling. She looked cute, but she was definitely a lot more than that. “And I don’t want to die.” He had to think fast on how he could get her to agree willingly. Her phone seemed pretty new, but hadn’t a new model just come out? He seemed to remember Seven going on about the new capabilities of some smart phone. “How about, I buy you any model phone you want, with whatever accessories?” That would probably peak her interest.

He was right. That caught her attention, and she whipped her head back to him. “…any model?” If he really meant that…she was going to go for the newer model of her phone that had just come out a few days prior. Cerise wasn’t able to get it due to budgeting, and she wanted to show her parents that she could be responsible with her money. Well…not that she’d have to worry about that now since her purse was still at her apartment. She pulled her phone back out and handed it to him, lingering for a moment before she left her most prized possession with a total stranger. This must be what mothers feel like when they leave their child in a daycare…”You win…but you better make good on that promise.” She narrowed her eyes at him, crossing her arms again as though making a point.

That whole time he’d had to sit patiently and wait for her to deliberate while her phone was right there for the taking. It wasn’t like him to be bashful with women, and he was anxious to get moving, but he just couldn’t do that with her. He rationalized to himself that it was because he knew he needed her trust. Finally, she handed it over. “I will, right after we get you some different clothes, we’ll get you a phone.”

As soon as he took her phone from her, his face grew red again. Even through his leather gloves, he could feel that her phone was warm from having been in her shorts. He coughed softly and got to work, grabbing a throw away from the glove compartment, easy enough to do when one’s arms were as long as his were. She was short enough that opening the compartment didn’t threaten her knees too, thankfully. After hooking the phones up to each other, he transferred everything before going through her apps, turning all of the geotags off. She had a shit ton of them, it was insane. Then he handed the throw away phone to her. “You can use this until we can get your new one. This one…” He wiggled her old phone. “Is getting thrown out the window on the way out of town. Buckle up.”

Cerise grimaced at the plain phone he had given her. It was so…ugly and undecorated. “This isn’t cute at all…” She complained as she held it at arm’s length, examining it. When he mentioned throwing her phone out of the window, she winced, but it was for the better if she wanted a brand-new phone. Cerise would just have to deal with it, not think about it. She could do this. She could. Cerise buckled her seat belt and waited for them to leave. The car was getting warmer, which she was thankful for, and his jacket certainly helped.

Vanderwood mumbled what was meant to be an internal thought, thankful that it was hopefully quiet enough that she didn’t overhear. “Nowhere near as cute as you.” What the Hell was he doing flirting with her? He pulled out of Seven’s garage, heading on the way out of town. As he drove, he watched her out of the corner of his eyes. Cerise frowned at his mumbling. If he had something to say, he should say it, but she didn’t bother to say what she was thinking either, too worn out to care.

After a little while, Vanderwood deigned to speak, not sure why he wanted to. Small talk wasn’t exactly something he was very good at or used to. “I’m sorry if the jacket smells.” He’d been smoking so long that he was used to his own smell, but she probably wasn’t. Although he was very careful to keep his jacket clean and cared for, it probably had at least some residual scent of cigarettes. Cerise just shook her head before resting it against the window. “It’s not bad…” Her answer ended with a yawn. His jacket did smell a little like cigarette smoke, but she could tell that he took care of it.

The two of them sat in silence for a while, him watching her and her too tired to even check the phone or any of her social medias. Vanderwood was thinking just how incredibly beautiful she was…and how incredibly stupid it was for him to be thinking about that. This was going to be difficult for him. She made him feel way different than any other woman, and that might not bode well for staying unattached, even if he was convinced that it was just part of his sex addiction not having been assuaged for a while. At any rate, his job wouldn’t allow attachment, and it wasn’t like he hadn’t gotten her in enough trouble already, so Vanderwood was going to do his best to have as little contact with her as he could manage. Just enough to keep her safe. He also couldn’t report that he was with her at all. No, he was alone.

Cerise was exhausted, both physically and mentally, and this man went through all of that to rescue her, so she had no reason to believe he was of any threat, allowing her to relax for the time being. By now the car was toasty, and she pulled her legs up in the seat so she could cover herself completely in his jacket before she let sleep finally claim her.

She looked so small and peaceful sleeping curled up like that. He felt a strange tightness in his chest looking at her wrapped up in his jacket. Vanderwood realized that he should focus on the road, essentially giving himself tunnel vision other than checking the rearview mirrors for anyone potentially tailing them. Once they were about halfway to the next town, he tossed her phone out of the window and onto the side of the road. It wouldn’t be terribly long before they made it to the next town, but it felt like he had a long road ahead of him, at least figuratively.

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Mystic Messenger Fanfiction | VanderwoodxOC Cerise – Tagged | Move Out, Move In

It seemed the men following him had turned down the other side of the alley first, but he had no doubt they would be coming this way before too long. He realized he should remove his gloves and jacket. If he was going to pretend to be her moving crew, that only made sense.

***OMG Welcome to Tagged! I’ve been talking about this fanfiction in the works for a while, and I’m so glad to finally get to share it with you. This will be my version of Vanderwood as seen in Vanderwood Backstory and an OC created by my best friend and you can read Cerise’s bio here. This is legit my OTP #cherrywood for life, so I really hope you love this~

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Why did it always have to take so fucking long for computers to transfer their files? Even with Seven’s modified flashdrives it could take eternity. Vanderwood was just waiting for the rest of the files about the different women this company held as ‘product’ to finish transferring. As far as missions went, this one was going pretty well. He’d infiltrated the place easily with Seven’s intel. Although, he couldn’t help that nagging feeling in the back of his mind. The last time they’d checked the security was a week ago.

That’s when he heard it, the telltale sound of guards making their way up the stairs. Fuck. How did they get tipped off? Maybe some sort of silent alarm had been installed since their last reconnaissance. Vanderwood had to think through his options fast. His heart was racing as he looked around the room, a familiar feeling that any other time, the adrenaline rush would relax his muscles, but right now he felt tense and sick. Brown eyes searched the room. There were two other doors in this room, one a fire escape that would set off an alarm and the other a lab that might not have another opening.

There were still five minutes for the documents to transfer, but now he could hear the footsteps reaching the landing he was on. How many were there? Judging from the sound, three or four. Vanderwood yanked the flashdrive from the computer and made a dash for the fire exit. God damn, that alarm was loud, but this was the safest option. He could hear one of the guards above calling for the others to “Move out!”

He scaled the side of the fire escape, dropping from one landing to grab the next until he made it to the ground and turned down an alleyway to head down into an empty street. Fuck, fuck, fuck. He had to find somewhere to hide and fast. Vanderwood could still hear the guards coming, so he was again, stuck trying to think fast.

Up ahead, he caught sight of a moving truck and a young woman carrying some boxes into an apartment. Perfect. He’d just have to get her to agree. Vanderwood was pretty good with women, so it couldn’t possibly be that hard. In fact, he had a bit of a reputation as a womanizer thanks to his addiction. Still, this was a civilian. Granted, he often slept with civilian women too, but there was a much higher risk, especially if he was spending more than just the time it took to sleep with them. At any rate, there weren’t many other options available.

Vanderwood launched himself into the moving truck as she entered her new place, waiting for the girl to come out again with his hip leaned against the wall as he worked on catching his breath. It seemed the men following him had turned down the other side of the alley first, but he had no doubt they would be coming this way before too long. He realized he should remove his gloves and jacket. If he was going to pretend to be her moving crew, that only made sense. Setting them aside on a box, he looked through the door to her apartment which was propped open. It seemed like a nice little place, and certainly a good cover as long as the girl didn’t raise any problems.


Cerise felt nervous about moving back to Korea after so many years, especially without her parents. She had convinced herself that she needed to break away for a bit, out from under the watchful eyes of her parents – cutting the umbilical cord, so to speak. They’d given her a good amount of money to get a start in her new life until she could find a job on her own, but that wouldn’t be for a while…Not that she was really complaining.

Here she was, in a new place, a new environment where she knew nobody, and where she had to move her own boxes. Most of them were as big as she was! Cerise huffed, struggling to move another particularly large box from her living room to the kitchen where it belonged. After finally managing what seemed like a super human feat, she dropped the box and panted. This would be the perfect opportunity for a selfie, as miserable as she was.

She took out her phone and snapped a quick picture, making sure she looked extra miserable before she put a bunch of cute filters on with the caption, ‘not cut out for physical labor sum1 save me );’ There. That would do it! Within moments of posting it, her phone pinged multiple times. Back to the grind…Cerise headed back outside and was surprised to find a man leaning against the inside of her moving truck. “Hey!” She called out to him, opting to stay in the safety of her doorway. “Can I…help you?” The guy looked like he was probably twice her size!

“Hey!’ Vanderwood put on the nicest smile he could manage. She seemed a little wary, rightfully so. This girl was incredibly small in comparison to him, and the fact was that he was probably pretty intimidating. He approached slowly so as to not freak her out. “I have a proposition for you. I need to hide, and you need your boxes moved into your house.” Vanderwood took in her appearance. She was actually pretty cute, her long light red hair, auburn? Was that the word? Peach. That was it. And her eyes were a beautiful golden color. His smile became a little more genuine. “I’ll help you with moving in your boxes if you do me one favor. Whoever comes knocking, whatever happens, you tell them I’ve been here for at least an hour.”

He was trying to be as charming as possible, but it only made sense for her to accept his offer. It looked like she would have trouble moving in all those boxes by herself, particularly the ones that looked like they were as big as she was. What was she anyway, maybe five foot? At any rate, his offer didn’t have much downfall for her. “The name’s Vanderwood, and no, you’re not going to get arrested for helping me out.” There was a high likelihood that the guards would be chasing down this street any minute now, so he grabbed a particularly large box with ease and hoisted it carefully over his shoulder. “Just free labor.”

“Hide…?” She’d repeated the word as she listened to the rest of his proposition. The man…Vanderwood, seemed pretty sincere. Cerise watched in awe as he lifted a box with no trouble at all. In any other circumstance, she would probably tell him to beat it, but he obviously needed help and so did she if she wanted to be done moving in any time soon. “I’ll take you up on your offer.” She slowly walked towards him, still a little wary, picking up a smaller box that she could easily handle on her own. “After you, Mister Vanderwood.” Letting someone play hide and seek in her house was a small price to pay for free labor…and by someone so handsome too! She grinned at her luck.

Vanderwood felt incredibly relieved, surprisingly so. He should be feeling anxious still that he was involving a civilian, but the guards wouldn’t do anything to her most likely…Well, he wouldn’t let them do anything to her. A little spark of anger went through him at the thought. Usually he was protective of civilians, but that was just a part of his job, staying covert with little effect to bystanders. Really, if it came down to it, he was supposed to avoid revealing his skills to bystanders too, even if that meant not saving them, but he wasn’t that kind of guy.

He made his way into her house, needing to duck under her doorway thanks to his height. Being six foot wasn’t the easiest thing in Korea, since most people tended to be at least half a foot shorter than him. That was the fun part about being American born in an Asian country. He looked around the apartment. There weren’t many boxes in there, so obviously she’d either just started moving her boxes or his help was sorely needed. “Just tell me where to put it, short stuff.” It wasn’t really a bad nickname for her, and he didn’t know what else to call her.

“I think that one goes in the kitchen.” Cerise called out to him as she broke off to drop her box in her would-be bedroom. Short stuff, huh? She laughed to herself; she’d certainly been called worse. Peeking her head out of the room, she took her phone out and snapped a quick picture of the strange man while he wasn’t looking, tagging the picture with, ‘look!! My savior~ >///<!’ before posting it. She put her phone away and walked back out to join him in her kitchen. “So…how long do you need to hide out for?”

Vanderwood had placed the box down carefully, brushing some dust off his shirt. Something in his periphery made him pause. Was that her phone? After turning, she was already back in the other room. Maybe he was just paranoid? Not likely. Her question had him shrugging, rubbing the back of his head. “I’m not really sure, but I’ll stay until your truck is empty as thanks.” Until the truck was empty? That sounded amazing to her ears. “Than-“ her words were cut off by someone knocking and appearing in her doorway. Cerise wasn’t really sure what else to do, so she went towards the door as though to answer it, even though it was open and there were now other people standing in her doorway.

He was preparing to pry as toward what she’d been doing with her phone, a security risk wouldn’t be good along with an incomplete mission, but he’d heard the sound of someone knocking on her doorway too and decided to keep quiet to survey the situation.

Three suited guards were standing in the doorway, looking far more official than he did. They were clearly sizing him up, and he casually stretched, placing his hand near his taser strapped to his thigh. The girl had approached the three, causing Vanderwood just a brief and unusual moment of panic. She was looking to him for a cue as to what to do. At least it gave Vanderwood the opportunity to approach the men too, head tilted in false intrigue and a smile on his face. “Hi there, can we help you with something?”

The biggest of the three nodded before starting to speak. “We’re looking for a man who ran off, probably down this street. Did either of you see anything?” His eyes and those of his buddies were clearly taking note of everything about Vanderwood, trying to discern whether he was the one they were looking for. Vanderwood looked towards the girl with false concern as he angled his body to stay between her and the men. “I’ve just been helping my girlfriend move in, and I didn’t see anything. Did you happen to see anything, hon?”

At least Cerise’s look of confusion was genuine, although she did get the picture as the men talked. She wrapped her arm around Vanderwood’s waist, clutching onto him as if she were worried or scared. “How suspicious…I haven’t seen anyone like that, dear.” She averted her eyes to the ground, feigning worry. “I hope they find him soon.”

He pulled her closer to his side, feeling blush rising in his face. She was so warm against him. This girl’s acting was damn convincing. Vanderwood mentally slapped himself to pay better attention. “Don’t worry, sweetheart, I’ll keep you safe.” His eyes flitted to the three men in the doorway. “I’m sorry we’re not much help…But if we see anything, do you have a number we should call?” The biggest of the three who had spoken earlier nodded towards one of the others who reached out to place a card into Vanderwood’s outstretched hand. After the card was in Vanderwood’s hand, the big one grunted before gesturing to the others to leave the doorway.“Thank you for your help, nonetheless.”

Cerise let out a breath she forgot she was holding once the men were gone. “Homigod that was intense…” She looked up at Vanderwood and examined him briefly now that she had front row seats. He really was handsome…more so than she realized before. Vanderwood didn’t let go of her at first, marveling a little at how she fit in so perfectly under his arm. He wasn’t used to that at all. Most of the women he met were just one night stands he didn’t pay attention to, and generally women had no effect on him, but this one was damn…cute. Vanderwood frowned at himself and finally stepped away, wild blush in his face. “Hey…thanks, short stuff.”

She was almost disappointed when he moved away and she couldn’t admire his face anymore without being painfully obvious. Vanderwood noted the little look of disappointment that crossed her face with a raised eyebrow before she had him blushing like a maniac again. “Hey” she mocked him, “No problem.” Cerise poked him in the chest for emphasis before she headed towards the door again. “Think it’s safe to go back out now, hon?

The girl was even spunkier than he had expected from someone so small, and that poke to the chest only made his blush worse. He was thankful that she had turned around to head out the door. Why was he reacting to her like this? Likely it was just because she was the first woman he was spending time with that he didn’t intend to sleep with. “Yeah, probably safer for my cover anyway.”

There was a possibility that the three men were still watching, if he’d been the only person they’d run into that raised their suspicions it was a possibility. Plus, he’d promised to stay until the truck was empty. He shrugged and followed her out, grabbing another of the larger boxes. “So…do you mind if I make a phone call once I get this box in?” Checking in with Seven was the next priority, since the plan hadn’t exactly gone…as planned. He was already overdue to update the redhead.

Cerise picked up another of the smaller boxes, walking a little closer to him than she’d dared before. “Phone call?” She clicked her tongue, looking a little worried. “I dunno…As long as you’re not calling other women~ You wouldn’t want to break my heart now, would you?” Giggling, she headed inside with her box. This was the first person she’d really met since she came back to Korea…so what in seven Hells was she even doing!? Flirting with a stranger?? A potentially shady one at that?? As soon as she got inside, she put the box down and walked into the bathroom to splash a little water on her face and looked into the mirror. Oh God, she was blushing. She facepalmed and groaned, mumbling to herself. “Why are you like this, Cerise…”

Vanderwood couldn’t help but nearly choke on air as she teased him relentlessly, barely managing to get the box he was carrying down in the living room before stumbling. His heart was a mess of flutters and he was so confused. Had he breathed something in in that building? “I wouldn’t dream of breaking your heart.” That was true; he didn’t break hearts, because he never got attached. Well, maybe for a few crazies, but that wasn’t his fault. Vanderwood couldn’t let himself keep fawning over her like this. He was going to have to clear out that truck fast. But first, Calling Seven. Once she was out of sight, he leaned his hip against the wall and called the redhead, pushing his bangs back like he always did when he was on the phone.

“Your lazy ass almost got me killed. The douche had a silent alarm installed since last week.” The redhead, for once, wasn’t laughing as Vanderwood chided him. When they worked, Seven was usually at least in a no nonsense mode, which made life easier. “I told you we should have done another sweep last night.” Now the redhead was asking if Vanderwood had actually managed to get what they were looking for. “Yeah, I got most of the documents. Hopefully it’ll be enough to end the trafficking ring.” Vanderwood was trying to be quiet even as disgust curled into his voice.

Granted, Vanderwood was a part of the sex scene. His addiction had him frequenting escort services, but he was always certain that those women were fully consenting adults, not kidnapped immigrants like this scumbag organization they were attempting to take down. At least the girl wouldn’t have much to go off of with only half of a conversation, but Vanderwood wasn’t going to say much more, he couldn’t let her get more involved with him than she already had.

Seven noticed the silence and asked if he was with someone. “Yeah, just a uh…a girl.” There was a pause as the redhead half-teased and half-scolded him. “No, I’m not having sex with her, you prick!” She uh…just helped me out.” Did he hear her coming back out? “I’m going to do her a favor real quick, and then I’ll be back to your place with the flashdrive.” He hung up as the redhead started going on about using protection. That was his line anyway.

Cerise slapped her cheeks lightly to help herself snap out of it and dabbed her face with a fluffy towel before looking at herself in the mirror again and messing with her hair a bit. She needed to look good for any impromptu selfies. Speaking of which…Cerise thought she could hear him talking. Something about documents and rings? Was he…a jewel thief? Probably not…that was only in the movies.

She popped her head out of the bathroom, and it supplied her with a rather pleasant view of him leaning against her wall rather…photogenically. This was obviously the perfect time for a picture! After making sure her flash was off, she sneakily snapped another picture of her ‘savior,’ adding the caption ‘he can call me any time ^3~’ After hitting send, she slowly walked out of the bathroom now that he seemed to have ended his call.

He sighed as he pushed away from the wall, tucking his phone into his pocket. His muscles were so taut and tense after that phone call and knowing they’d probably get shit from the agency. Vanderwood needed a cigarette, and a good fuck wouldn’t be a bad idea either. When missions went wrong, he always got stressed. The adrenaline rush from running away from potential death wasn’t satisfying like the rush of success.

His brown eyes met the golden ones of the girl as he turned his head. She was really cute, rather beautiful really, although she wasn’t his regular type. What the Hell was he comparing her to his type for? He wasn’t going to sleep with her. She’d already spent far too much time with him as it was, and he almost felt guilty for thinking about her like that. “Alright, I’m all yours until that truck’s empty.” Vanderwood made his way back out to grab another box, not wanting to spend too much more time interacting with her…well a part of him did, but that wasn’t good.

“Sounds great, handsome~” She laughed and winked at him, leading them outside again. Whywhywhywhywhy Cerise repeated it in her head over and over, a furious blush on her face. Why did she keep doing this if all it did was fluster her!? She made a point to conceal her face when she could, grabbing smaller boxes and moving quickly. Gotta get that cardio in somehow… After passing him a few times wordlessly, she couldn’t help but note that he was handling those boxes like a champ. Cerise took another opportunity to snap a candid photo of him as he carried in the last particularly large box, making sure to catch herself in the photo too. She smiled and flashed a cute peace sign in the frame. ‘#whatagentleman +A+’

Vanderwood was used to being called handsome, it was a pretty regular thing for him really, but when she said it, his face had turned a whole new shade of red. He’d coughed and grabbed another huge box to hide behind. She was really something else. Vanderwood thought he detected a blush on her face as well as she hid behind smaller boxes. Really something else…adorable…beautiful…Where the Hell was his head going? He shook his thoughts away and focused on moving boxes.

Finally, after an hour or so, the truck was empty. Vanderwod was incredibly relieved and yet also a little…He wasn’t sad, but maybe he was feeling regret? That was weird. It was stupid too. There were no options, he couldn’t bring her anywhere nearer to his life than he already had, but for the first time in his life, he actually wanted to give a girl his number.

Cerise looked at the empty cabin with a slight disappointment. Well…she figured that maybe it was enough excitement for one day anyways. She had an apartment to put together. The man, Vanderwood, had been a huge help. By morning the truck driver would be there to pick it up. Cerise jumped up to reach the handle to close the back, Vanderwood snorting softly as she struggled in the air for a moment before the door finally slid down along with her. Curse her height…She made her way back to Vanderwood, dusting off the skirt she was wearing. “Thanks…I’m Cerise by the way. Cerise Song.” Cerise smiled and patted his arm. “I just moved here from Paris.”

He’d tensed only just a little at the unwanted touch before he felt a hard pang in his chest. “Oh good, you finally trust me with your name.” The name wouldn’t do him any good. He couldn’t see her again. This was one of the strangest moments of his life, because he fucking wanted to see her again. Something in him wanted her around. A regular woman and not one of his whores. That was a dream too good to be true, though. “Well, Cerise…Maybe I’ll see you around.” Empty promise; he couldn’t. Lying made his gut twist, but he didn’t have a choice.

He looked down at her, eyes locking for a few seconds, but those seconds felt like minutes. Vanderwood just couldn’t tear his eyes away from her. Then he bit his tongue, effectively breaking whatever the Hell spell it was keeping him there, grabbed his jacket and gloves and was out of there quickly, running down the street again like he had been earlier. This time he wasn’t running from anyone chasing him, although it felt like it.

When their eyes had locked, the only way Cerise knew how to describe it was intense. It was the first time she’d ever experienced that, and the feeling was…strange? She couldn’t put a finger on it. Before she even had a chance to react, he was gone. Cerise had meant to possibly ask him for his number, but she never got the chance to. She sighed and went inside her apartment. It was getting cold out, and she certainly wasn’t dressed for that kind of weather. “This is such a great start to my new life here…” She mumbled to herself.

At least if every day was as exciting as today had been, she would never be bored, and she hated to be bored. Her honey-colored eyes scanned her new apartment. There was a mess of boxes everywhere. “Time to get to work if I plan on sleeping.” Before she got started, she prepared to take what seemed like the hundredth selfie that day chronicling her first day in her new home. She posed herself in front of all the boxes, making sure to put on a sad pouty face. ‘vanderhottie left )’: #time2get2work’ It seemed her followers on social media were simply eating up her posts that day. Cerise dug through a box to throw on some pajamas, deeming them more comfortable to unpack in than being dressed up.

Vanderwood didn’t even bother to take the bus when he reached a stop. He ran the whole way home, thankful for the distraction. The small adrenaline rush was at least something to take his mind off that beautiful smile. Damn. He couldn’t stop thinking about her. What was this? Why was he like this? Vanderwood wanted to turn around and find her again, pick her up and kiss her. His addiction coupled with meeting a regular person probably.

He shook his head and leaned against Seven’s door, the metal cold against his forehead before he took out his cigarettes and popped one in his mouth. How had he managed without them for so long? Vanderwood groaned and lit the thing, taking long drags. What he really needed right now was a good fuck, but thinking about Cerise had him feeling…guilty about that. Something was seriously wrong with him.

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