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Winning You Over

Chapter Text

The late afternoon sun was pouring through the windows of the large corner office, illuminating the space in its serene golden tones, stretching all the way through the glass door and to Nike’s workspace, in front of the luxurious glass-encased hell.

She glanced at the currently vacant office of her boss. Truly, that office was where one would lose their soul; so hell was not such a bad name for it. She toyed with a non-Christian idea for a minute before she realized it was too high up to be called Underworld and that she didn’t want to be Cerberus in that analogy.

With a heavy sigh, she took the small calendar from the corner of her desk, looking at the current date wistfully. Overtime again today. On a Friday. It was her second anniversary with her boyfriend and she had just texted him to let him know there was no chance in hell Victor would let her leave early (technically, not even early; just after normal working hours) and she couldn’t make it in time for their reservation at the restaurant, asking him if it was okay for him to just sleep over at her place.  

How many things has she missed during the almost-year of her working for Victor?
There were two friend’s birthdays, her boyfriend’s opening night at the theatre, her sister’s baby shower and probably other things she was too exhausted to remember.
Her phone vibrated and she jumped on instinct, her heart thumping wildly. Thankfully, it was not her hellish boss. It was her boyfriend. She touched the green receiver icon and immediately started apologizing:

“Honey, I’m so sorry. I asked him earlier today and there’s no way…”
“I understand.” He interrupted her and before she could think about the tone of his voice, he continued:
“I am just calling to tell you I will be stopping by your place in an hour or so to grab my stuff. I will leave my copy of the key with Mrs. Brady when I’m done.”

Nike’s head was spinning. What was he saying? Taking his things? Leaving his key with her first neighbor? Was he…

“What are you talking about, David?”
There was a short pause after her quivering question until David sighed and said sternly:
“I’m breaking up with you. I would have told you in person but I figure I’d have to schedule months in advance, with how busy you always seem to be.”
“Were you… were you planning to do that tonight at dinner?”
Her hands were shaking and she felt nauseous.
“No, I wasn’t. I even bought you a present, I will leave it at your place. But I did promise myself I will do it if you miss one more important event in our relationship because of that asshole you work for.”
“Please save it. You’ve been making promises and excuses galore and yet I haven’t seen you in 17 days. Yes, I’ve been counting. And when I DID see you, you were falling asleep while I was talking about my new play. And THEN… he called.” David spat out “he” with hatred:
“And you were immediately jolted awake, all “yes sir” and “sorry sir” and “understood sir” like a fucking doormat. He called at TEN P.M.! What kind of a boss does that? And I could hear him through the phone. I am pretty certain he called you an idiot.”
He made a pregnant pause to emphasize the judgmental tone of his voice and Nike wished he wasn’t a director for once.
“So, he drives you like a slave, imposes on your private time, calls you names… and still, he seems to be more important to you than me.”
He concluded and Nike could hear some sadness as his anger cracked to let it peek through.
“How can you say that? How can he be more important than you?”
Nike almost pleaded and David just scoffed:
“If he wasn’t, you’d have taken a day off from time to time. Perhaps today, on our anniversary. You could have called in sick. Or something. I’d have done it for you.”

The thought hadn’t even crossed her mind and she felt her cheeks heat up in shame. She just accepted that her boss was dictating her schedule and she didn’t even think to put a spoke in his unrelenting wheel, not even for David, once a year.
She turned in her chair and lowered her voice so as not to let anybody hear:
“David, I’m sorry. Please reconsider. Wait for me at my place and we will talk, please…”
“No, Nike. I’m sorry, but no. I’ve tried talking to you several times over the past year; you always just try to placate me and make promises but nothing changes. I cannot take it anymore. It’s over. Keep spending all your time with Mister Hottest Under 30 from Success Quarterly; guess him treating you like shit is alright with you. Perhaps I should have also called you an idiot from time to time and you wouldn’t forget I existed.”
Nike was crying at that point:
“How can you say those things…” His tone was bitter, resentful, cold. She knew she should be angry with herself but she was angry with Victor.
That bastard! Like it wasn’t enough for him to ruin her life at work, now he had to ruin her relationship, too? She would give him a stern…

The sound of a throat being cleared behind her made her jump in her chair.

“I believe break time has ended 7 minutes ago.”
Victor exclaimed flatly and between the war drum that was her heart in her ears and his stern voice, she heard David’s angry shout:
“Nike? Oh, I guess Mister Idiot has returned since you’re ignoring me and all. Enjoy.”
He hung up.
Nike felt herself die on the inside, her mind going on autopilot:
“Excuse me, sir. I’ll be with you in a minute. There’s something in my eye.”

She didn’t care if he kicked up a fuss, if he called her an idiot again, if he gave her a ludicrous task as punishment again. All she currently cared about were two things: preventing herself from falling apart crying in front of this horrible man and finally pulling out that paper from her drawer that she was too much of a pussy to pull out until now.
To her surprise, Victor calmly desisted:
“Alright. You might want to take care of that in the restroom.”

He went to his office and she waited until his footsteps couldn’t be heard anymore and heeded his advice. She could use some cool water.

Several minutes later, she felt stable enough to not start crying again and her anger went from white-hot to icy cold and resolved. That was it. She’ll finally do it.
She opened her bottom drawer and pulled out the paper that was hidden under several manila folders. Why was she hiding it anyway? Was she that afraid of this devil in a designer suit?

She walked into Victor’s office only to find him typing on his laptop, his glasses perched atop his long nose. Why wasn’t he wearing contacts as usual? It was far too early to break out the glasses, he only ever did that if overtime took him deep into the night.
She chuckled inwardly, imagining perfect Victor losing a contact lens and searching for it like a damsel in a lame B-production sitcom.
Already used to his silent treatment until he finished whatever he was currently working on when she walked in the office, she waited, letting her fantasies of Victor embarrassing himself soothe her frightened heart as she gripped all the papers she held, the most important one right under her hand. Victor slipping on a banana peel. Victor’s 20k suit being shat on by a bird. Victor being stung by a bee. How she wished she could see those things.

He finally closed his laptop and took his glasses off, eyeing her for a few seconds:
“Have you solved your little problem?”
He asked and she wished to punch him in the throat. LITTLE problem! Her boyfriend just dumped her because of him!
She reminded herself that Victor didn’t know that.
“Yes, thank you.” She replied dryly before placing files on his pristine desk:
“I completed correspondence on this. These are the reports from marketing. This is what Mr. Johnson had delivered for you regarding the AffirmNation investment.”
She handed the final paper to him directly:
“And this is my letter of resignation. Please also consider this my two weeks’ notice.”

For the first time in this entire year, Victor seemed surprised. His typical stone face displayed only a slight curve of the brow but she reveled in it like he shouted “what the fuck?” aloud.
The asshole wasn’t expecting this. She was willing to bet he thought the universe revolved around him and there was no way for anyone to willingly escape the force of his pull.
He accepted the paper, taking it in his elegant hand and not even bothering to read it, giving her a condescending once-over. She hated that she was used to it.

“Are you absolutely certain?”
He asked, calm as ever and she dared look him in the eyes, her chin jutting as she replied:
“One hundred percent.”
Victor nodded, interlacing his fingers under his chin:
“I see. August 2nd will be your last day, then. You may return to your work now.”

Chapter Text

The following two weeks at work didn’t feel or appear any different than usual and Nike was a little angry with herself. What did she expect? Victor suddenly becoming nice, now that she’s leaving?
That man couldn’t be nice if his life depended on it, she scowled to herself.

He still berated her over coffee and criticized her work. She tried to remember if there was anything he used to criticize that she improved at as a result, causing him to stop nagging and came up with only one thing; her organizational skills. It’s been months since Victor last complained about the way she handled his schedule; and even though that realization brought her some comfort, while thinking about it, she remembered the many things he was STILL complaining about that quickly pushed that comfort away.

She never considered herself a thin-skinned person. That was why she applied for this job in the first place. Nike needed to earn money to finance her further education, wishing to go beyond her current bachelor’s degree. She wanted to go to law school, thinking she will one day become a corporate lawyer. When she heard of a 28-year-old CEO; she jumped at the opportunity to meet the man who managed something like that.
She made a silly mistake of not trusting the rumors. She saw the man’s photo in various magazines before she even met him and she still remembered her first reaction.
He. Was. Smoking.
She was so happy she didn’t just walk into her interview not knowing what he looked like because she knew she’d blush and stutter like an idiot.

So, a young, insanely hot, successful guy? Of course, there would be mean rumors! She disregarded them, thinking they must either be simply untrue or blown out of proportion.

Unfortunately for her, that was her just giving him too much of a benefit of the doubt.
Victor was not simply serious and strict; he was a monster.
She could handle a boss who never smiled or engaged in pleasantries and who demanded hard work; she expected that. But did he really have to call her an idiot and order her around like she was a servant and not an assistant? Would a simple “please” or “thank you” kill him?

In the beginning, he mostly ignored her unless he had a direct order. She was a bit shaken by that at first, not used to someone not even replying to a greeting in the morning.
Then he did a 180 and started watching her like a hawk and she wished he’d go back to ignoring her.
He was constantly breathing down her neck, figuratively, of course.
She suspected Victor believed he’d catch some disease if he stood closer than a step away from a plebian such as herself. Perhaps he thought her supposed idiocy was contagious?

She realized much later that when she implemented any of his pieces of “humiladvice” as she called them; she wasn’t necessarily doing it because she truly believed he was right or because she realized she could grow from his instructions. She was just doing it as a personal challenge. She desperately wanted to see that man with any expression other than displeasure or a poker face. Even just once, just once she wanted to see him smile and nod at a job well done; just to reassure herself he was human and not a robot or a demon or something.
Did that man even know how to smile?
She wondered about his private life. Did he behave any different outside of work; did he treat his family the same? Did he have any friends or a girlfriend?
She found it hard to believe a man with behavior that grating could find a girlfriend before she reminded herself that he was rich and hot. Women probably liked him, at least in short-term arrangements.

She chuckled to herself. So, he was most likely getting some and he was STILL this pissy? Must be very bad sex, then. She nearly choked on her morning coffee imagining Victor keeping his poker face even in the bedroom, barely blinking (it was creepy how long that man could go without blinking, even with contacts in!). She hoped whichever robotics corporation made him remembered to install some thingies that made him sweat, at least; just something to make him not feel like one of those “companion” robots.

Imagining Victor in silly situations was one of the few stress-relievers she had when it came to her work.
Well, in another 6 days, that will all be over; as it was now Saturday of the first week of her notice.
She just needed to grit her teeth and hang in there a while longer; she was already feeling better just knowing she wouldn’t ever have to see him again after this.
Well, seeing him wasn’t the problem, she could stare at his handsome face all day.
It was talking to him that was making her miserable.

She glanced at last month’s issue of Success Quarterly, one of the magazines she was subscribed to. Victor was on the cover as number 1 of the Hottest Under 30 list the magazine did every year.
He looked much better when he was just a still photo.

She remembered David and felt like crying. Again. She missed him, even though she still felt like punching him over how he dumped her.
Somewhere in the back of her mind, she was aware it was coming. She loved him but the longer she worked these insane hours and the less she managed to see him, the more she realized she wasn’t missing him as much as she thought she would or should have.
She felt guilty about that. David was a good guy. Smart, funny, talented, dedicated. Excluding the way they parted, they never even had big arguments. She now almost wished they had. If he had gotten angry before there was a straw that broke the camel’s back, they might have been able to fix it.

She stared at his anniversary present, still in its box, on the kitchen island that served as her dining room table. It was a gorgeous watch that he knew she was eyeing for some time prior. But that wasn’t the worst part about it, now that he was gone. No. He didn’t remove the small hand-written note from the box; she suspected because he wanted her to feel guilty.

The note was written in his messy handwriting, in dark blue ink and said:
“Your time for my heart.”
It was cliché, and she was almost certain it was a line from one of the plays he directed, but it still hurt now. If they were still together, it might have brought a smile, however guilty, on her face, but now she just felt awful.

He was a good boyfriend. He treated her nicely, made her laugh, called her cute, usually dessert-based nicknames. He always did have a sweet tooth, the tiniest hint of fat on his stomach being proof.
He was warm and cuddly in the mornings and evenings and he had such adorable brown puppy eyes.
He also sang, much better than he gave himself credit for and sometimes she’d be able to get him to sing something for her.

She hadn’t heard the song he sang for her last time before. But now it was on repeat on her YouTube for days.

Hey there, Delilah

Don't you worry about the distance

I'm right there if you get lonely

Give this song another listen

Close your eyes

Listen to my voice, it's my disguise

I'm by your side


No, he wasn’t. Not anymore.
And all because of… her. Victor was not to blame, she realized and that made her angry. She wished she could blame him but Victor wasn’t the one who didn’t push through exhaustion and try harder to make time for David.

Putting her now-empty coffee mug in the sink, she went to change into her gym clothes. Some exercise will do her good. On Saturday mornings, she’d usually engage in sleepy cuddles and lazy sex with David before he’d make pancakes.
She absolutely had no will to make pancakes herself. Besides, her neck was always stiff from sitting in front of the computer all day, so the gym was probably what she objectively needed.

She survived her last week. It did include a particularly unpleasant scolding from Victor after a business meeting where she took longer than 2 seconds to pull out the minutes out of her folder.
He switched it up this time, however.
Instead of calling her an idiot, he started an odd sentence: “How are you going to…” and then stopped himself. It was a show in itself and made her almost forget all the scolding that came beforehand. His eyes widened just a tiny bit like he was surprised with himself, like he had a slip of the tongue.
That NEVER happened to Mr. Perfect Asshole.
He was always in complete control, both of himself and of everyone around him. She laughed inwardly and considered this tiny glitch in his interface her parting gift. Maybe that was the face he made when he came, too. “Oh fuck, I did something human! Override, override!”

“What are you grinning about like an idiot?!” He scowled, his voice sharp and she snapped back to reality. Oh nothing, just imagining you cum, boss.

“I am just grateful for all the guidance you have provided me with over the past year, sir.” She lied glibly. If there was one thing she learned working here, it was how to lie pleasantly.
Victor paused for a second as if assessing whether she was telling the truth. Does he have some sort of a lie detector behind those steely irises?

“I am certainly hoping you’d be wise enough to use it in your future endeavors.”
He walked around his desk, settling in his chair and she knew that meant the conversation was over.

As she walked out of his office with his snarky order for another coffee, she was slightly puzzled.
Did she just… stop Victor’s tirade? He was still going strong and she knew he would usually scold her for another ten minutes but she grinned, he asked why and just… stopped when she answered him.
Was that the trick? Showing him that he couldn’t upset her?
Why didn’t she think of that sooner?
Well, it doesn’t matter now, does it?
She went to make him his blasted coffee and dared to hope she’d get another parting gift: Victor not frowning upon tasting it.
Seriously, why did he keep drinking her coffee if it was so bad?


Finally, her last day at the company rolled by.
She used her lunch break to say goodbye to the few coworkers she was friends with, cleaned her computer of all the personal files; packed her belongings in a box she got from HR and left contact information should anyone from the office have any questions.
She wished she didn’t have to do that last thing, knowing whoever Victor hired for her spot would have a bazillion problems.

There was one other thing. She never asked Victor for a letter of recommendation.
It would be stupid, anyway. He’d most likely flat out refuse, calling her an idiot for even asking. On the off chance that he DID say yes, what would he write?

You’d be wise to hire this idiot who couldn’t learn how to make my coffee properly for an entire year.
I am pleased I had the chance to meet a person this incompetent and clumsy.
She possesses many talents, such as getting on my nerves.

No. Some avenues are best left unexplored. She’d find a new job on her own.

Even though a recommendation from someone of Victor’s caliber would be… so perfect to have.

She was just checking if she had all her stuff before she’d go and say goodbye to Victor when he called her to his office. As always, beating her to the punch. Dickhead.
It was almost 8 p.m. and it had gotten dark already, but she was surprised to see that the only lamp that was on in his office was the one at his desk. He usually kept the office lit well until he planned to go home.
She walked up to his desk and he surprised her again by looking at her immediately, the light from his laptop glinting on his expensive watch as he interlaced his long fingers, elbows on the glass desktop.

“Are you quite finished packing?”
“Yes, I just finished.” Perfect timing, robot. “I would like to thank you once again…”
“Stop talking.” Victor interrupted, closing his laptop and getting up from his desk, buttoning his suit jacket again:
“Grab your things and let me drive you home.”

Her mouth almost gaped. Victor NEVER did this. After some particularly long working nights, he’d have his driver take her home of call her a taxi, but never this. She had never even seen him drive himself.

“Uhm, sir, you don’t have to…”
“I am well aware I don’t have to. However, unless you want to lug a box around in public transportation, I think it’s a better idea.”
Again, that condescending, matter-of-fact tone, like he was talking to a child.
“I thought I’d call a taxi actually.” She tried but Victor already took his coat from the hanger:
“Consider it my own way of thanking you for your service. Besides, I have something I want to discuss with you.”

Did Victor just… utter the T-word?

She didn’t even know the black Tesla she sometimes saw parked in the underground parking was Victor’s. Guess he had evenings when he didn’t want his chauffer driving him home.
She also never expected him to drive a Tesla. The car did look nice, but it was not the flashiest car ever. She’d have expected him to drive a Ferrari or something like that.
He took the box from her and placed it in the trunk before opening the passenger door for her and all she could hear in her mind was the music from Twilight Zone.
He never opened a door for her before.
Well, maybe it was inappropriate in a business setting?
Or maybe Victor Tron 5000 CEO Edition got a software update? DecentHuman patch?

She settled into the seat, promptly fastening her seat belt. Just like she imagined, there were no traces of a person in Victor’s car. It looked like it was still in the salon, merely taken out for a test drive. It even had that new car smell. Maybe it was new?
Nike didn’t know anything about cars, really; but knowing Victor, this might be an exclusive pre-order of a model the regular mortals would be able to buy next year or something. Maybe even a gift from Elon Musk himself.
Did Elon Musk know he gave a car to an android? The man was such an AI sceptic.

Victor started the engine and the car softly purred out of the parking lot. It was barely audible and the seat was so comfy Nike almost forgot who she was in the car with.
They drove in silence for a while; she knew Victor knew where she lived.

She stole a couple of glimpses at his stoic, chiseled profile. His eyes were focused on the road, his single-handed hold on the steering wheel nonchalant.
If only he wasn’t so obnoxious… his face lit by the city lights was magic. A masterpiece. She wished she knew how to paint realistic portraits because the way the neon hues danced across his skin and jet black hair was mesmerizing and she wished to capture the sight and put it up on her wall.
As long as he remained silent, Nike could imagine she didn’t hate him and they were two people who treated each other with respect, a considerate boss doing his former employee a favor and the employee sincerely saddened for leaving, giving him a heartfelt handshake.

So, naturally, he had to open his mouth and ruin her fantasy.
His face was bathed in the crimson glow from the traffic light. How fitting.

“You never asked me for a letter of recommendation.” He remarked idly.
“I didn’t.”
“Why not?”

His question was non-committal and Nike wondered if this was his idea of small talk. More importantly, what should she reply? I was scared shitless of what you’d write. I didn’t want to humiliate myself only for you to mockingly say no.

“I didn’t want to trouble you.” She figured that was the least of all evils. Victor tapped his fingers on the wheel, driving on as the light turned green.

“You didn’t want to trouble me for something that could make your career.”
It was not a question and she felt her blood heat up. There it was. The typical Victor remark; one where he’d summarize something in a way that made the other person appear an idiot.
She hated his face as he said it, she hated his tone, but most of all… she hated that he was right.
Just a few more minutes of this and it will all be over, she reminded herself.
So, she remained silent. He was not her boss anymore and she wasn’t obligated to entertain his sadism any longer.

Another traffic light; another red light. Great. Just the right time to hit every red; during this super comfortable and non-awkward conversation!

Victor reached for the inside pocket of his suit jacket and pulled out a neatly folded paper:
“I wrote you one anyway.”
Nike’s eyes widened and she looked at Victor’s face, his eyes still trained on the road as he held the paper between his index and middle finger. Is this the time he chooses to be funny?
He continued, the light turning green:

“However, I want something in return.”

Nike froze. Blackmail?! What the fuck could he possibly want?

“What?” She almost whispered, already regretting it.
“I want you to tell me, completely honestly, why you quit. If you do, I’ll give you the letter. Regardless of what your answer is, I will give it to you as is. And it is very satisfactory.”

His brow quirked in what she’d learned to recognize as taunting.
There was no way in hell she should fall for this! She couldn’t know what he wrote in that letter, maybe he didn’t even write it, maybe he just printed out some random lucky chain e-mail to play her like a fool.

But Victor was not a prankster. Would he play dirty? Why?
Why did it matter to him why an incompetent idiot quit?
She couldn’t tell him the truth anyway, he’d kill her!

“A letter from me opens many doors.” He kept tempting her and she swore she saw devil’s horns on his head. “And I went out of my way to write it unprompted. All I ask for in return is an honest answer to a simple question.”

“I’m afraid I cannot do that.” Nike refused flatly and Victor frowned almost imperceptibly as he pinned her with his steely blue stare just long enough for her knee to jerk.

“Then you are bigger of an idiot than I thought. I told you the contents of your answer don’t matter, they will never leave this car or affect what is written in this letter.”

“Is that a promise?”

And then it happened. Victor’s mouth curved ever so slightly into a smirk. It was the self-satisfactory smirk, she’d seen it before, but so rarely that it warranted a moment of pause.

“Yes, it is. I hope that puts an end to your idiocy.”

Something in Nike snapped. Even during what could possibly be their last conversation ever, he had to toy with her and demean her. All her restraint flew out the proverbial window; she forgot she could just refuse and grit her teeth until she got home.
She still had no idea whether the letter was real or whether Victor was lying and if he was; what she was about to say would come to bite her in the ass so hard it would rip it clean off.

“My name is Nike.” She snarled. “Once; just once, I’d like you to talk to me like I was a human being and not a doormat.”

Victor didn’t even flinch, his face perfectly still as he stopped at yet another red light:
“I’ve never called you an idiot when you weren’t acting like one. So, that is why you quit?”

“Partly.” She spat out, crossing her arms and deciding the conversation was over. But nobody could decide anything for Victor.
“Partly.” He repeated calmly: “Tell me the rest.”
How could someone give an order so quietly and nonchalantly?
And why did she obey it, she owed him nothing and he was probably just leading her to her professional demise!
Did he already know what she was about to say? Was that why he was so insistent?
She was trembling with rage.
She couldn’t even quit with dignity, it seemed.

Alright, if that’s what he wanted, he’d get it. She had dreamed of this moment so many times. It was the dumbest thing she could possibly do but it would feel SO good.

“I quit because I hate your guts.”

If she expected dramatic silence, Victor hitting the brakes and telling her to get out, or even surprise on his face; she would be in for a sobering surprise as that mouth just curved into a slightly larger smirk, still as arrogant as ever:

“Assumed as much. Why?”
“Why?!” Nike did all she could to not shout: “Are you AWARE of the way you’re treating me? Are you aware you’re insulting me every single time we talk, are you aware you’re calling me on the phone at all sorts of ungodly hours only to bark one order or the other, are you aware you’re driving me like a slave only to NEVER be satisfied? I swear, even if I was as much of an idiot as you claim I am, it is YOU who has a problem. How are you NEVER satisfied? And if you really are, why haven’t you fired me? Why do you keep drinking my “godawful” coffee? I don’t want to be a punching bag for a sadistic dickhead any longer; you’re ruining my life.”

She might have taken it a little too far. Well, that’s the understatement of the century.
She took it out of the ballpark, out of the city, over the ocean and it dropped somewhere in Siberia, destined to end her life just like those freezing temperatures would.

Except… Victor didn’t even flinch.
“How am I ruining your life?”
“I beg your pardon?”
It was buzzing in her ears. Of all the things… he asks that? Was he even listening? She just told him off the way she never told anyone off before, she called him a SADISTIC DICKEAD, for crying out loud!
“You were crying the day you quit. Was I ruining your life then?”

She unclasped her death grip on the handle of her purse when she realized her hands hurt:
“I asked you to leave after regular hours that day.” She quietly said, finding her resolve suddenly blown out like a balloon losing air.
“I remember you did. I said no. You cried because of that?”

It was none of his business but she had already gone this (too) far.
“It was my anniversary with my boyfriend that day. When I informed him I’d have to cancel AGAIN, he broke up with me.”

Victor paused for a moment, making a turn:
“Over the phone?”
“Yes.” She squeezed out, ashamed. “That’s why I was crying.”
“So, it was not because of me.” He nodded smugly.
“What do you mean, it wasn’t because of you?”
She felt like punching him, but then he frowned in almost a sad way as he shook his head and it compelled her to listen:

“Let me explain something to you.” He began. “Adults work. As your boss, I am not obligated to care whether it’s an anniversary, birthday or wedding. I reserve the right to grant or deny employees’ requests. But dinners can be rescheduled. Adults know this. Adults also know that it is cowardly to end relationships over the phone, disrespecting the other person’s work in the process.”

Nike’s head was spinning. Did she just receive relationship advice from Victor of all people?!

“So, just so we’re clear. You weren’t crying because of what I did. You were crying because of what he did.”

“Does that make you feel better?” she retorted “Making sure it’s not your fault?”
“I know it’s not my fault. I wanted you to know as much, too.”
He stopped the car and she realized they were in her neighborhood but she made no move to leave the vehicle. This conversation was not over yet.
“But let me answer your question. Do you want to know what does make me feel better?”

He turned his head to face her now and she found herself flinching from the intensity in his gaze. He took her silence as a yes:
“Do you remember your first days at LFG?”
Where was he going with this?
“You weren’t able to properly attach more than one thing to an e-mail. You messed up my appointments for one entire afternoon, making me go to the wrong person. Excel tables gave you a headache. You thought I was talking about being interviewed when I mentioned exposure. I glanced at your notes one day during a meeting when I saw you crossing something out furiously and saw you initially wrote dividend FIELD before correcting F to Y.”

The red of her cheeks was deepening with each word he said and she prayed he’d stop soon. His voice then softened:
“But now you know all of those things and much more. Although I am afraid you truly are hopeless when it comes to coffee.”

She blinked. Once. Twice. Did he just… praise her? In an extremely twisted way.
Also… did he attempt to make a joke?!

“Every time I called you an idiot, you’d get spiteful and miraculously overcome the hurdle. Call it reinforcement if you wish. You want to know why I pushed you so hard? Because you cannot be a corporate lawyer without not only knowing all there is to know; but also not letting some CEO dickhead calling you an idiot bother you. I really thought I’d thickened your skin by now. Not every CEO you will meet will have your best interest at heart. In fact, I can almost guarantee they never will.”

She was stunned. Not even in her wildest dreams would she have assumed Victor was… helping her?!
How did he even know she wanted to go to law school, she never told him that?
But also…

“Okay, you had my best interest at heart. But that doesn’t explain why you hired me in the first place. I’m sure there were people more qualified than me at that interview.”

Surprises seemed never-ending that evening as Victor chuckled. The man actually laughed!?
It was a pleasant, low sound, one that spread over her entire body like butter on hot toast. This was not his usual mocking chuckle, cold and unpleasant like nails on a blackboard. This was a genuine one.

“Keep it a secret, but yes, there were. Some with brilliant biographies, in fact. I was going to hire one of them initially.”
“Why didn’t you?”
“Because I learned you wanted to go to law school and were financing it yourself.”
“How the hell do you know that?”
“Now, that’s something I’m keeping secret.” Victor tilted his head to the side and a strand of hair almost falling in his eye moved aside:
“I considered it a long-term investment. LFG could use a legal representative who learned from the CEO himself.”

He handed her the letter and as she took it in shaky fingers, he remarked:
“And as for why I’m drinking your sub-par coffee… I’m drinking it because I keep hoping the quality of it will catch up with the rest of your work. Guess even I make inaccurate predictions sometimes.”

She just stared at him, her heart feeling like it will jump straight out of her mouth by way of her throat.
His gaze was not the blood-chilling directorial steel it always was.
Victor looked… human. She hung her head in shame. She had no idea he was doing so much for her.

“I’m sorry for saying all those things.”
“Are you sorry for saying them or for meaning them?”
“Uhm… both. Do you have to make this even harder on me?” She whimpered in self-deprecation.
“I’m trying to apologize. Really. I had no idea…”

“I made damn sure you had no idea. The entire plan would topple if you ever suspected I was anything but a sadistic dickhead.”

He seemed to be having fun with this and Nike cringed:
“Could you stop saying that?”
“Why? It amuses me.”

She locked eyes with him again and saw a glint in his eyes that she never saw before:
“I didn’t think anything but my suffering amused you.”
She wished she could take that back as soon as she’d said it. That sounded too much like flirting. Her palms were sweaty and, in horror, she realized Victor inched ever so slightly closer. The scent of his cologne tickling her senses teasingly and his long eyelashes captivating her. She never noticed his lashes were quite that long.
“Many things amuse me. But of course, you don’t actually know me very well.”

They say emotional rollercoasters can drive people slightly insane. Nike would remember that later, in her apartment, as she downs a glass of whiskey trying to make sense of what she’d said to that:

“I wish I did.”

Chapter Text

Nike’s cheeks wouldn’t stop burning as she sat on the floor of her small living room, between the sofa and the coffee table, the letter thrown away on it because she was too nervous to read it just yet.
She placed the cold whiskey glass against her forehead and then cheeks, trying to cool down.

This time, she’ll say it to herself: Nike, you idiot.

Why in eight hells did she say that?!
What came over her?
Okay, alright, she misjudged Victor. She felt guilty about it. But the “I’d like to know you” bullshit?
He was still the same cold jerk. Maybe not an asshole or a dickhead, but he was still a grating jerk. Doing something nice wasn’t a carte blanche to act the way he did.
He could’ve pushed her hard while being a little more polite, couldn’t he?

She sighed. She was just looking for excuses because she felt ashamed and she knew it. She not only misjudged him but she proved to him she doesn’t have what it takes by quitting.
Well, no more of that. She wouldn’t let all her hard work go to waste. She’ll go to law school.
But she had to find a new job first.
She glanced at the paper on her coffee table, gulping the rest of her whiskey down, the ice cubes clinking against the glass softly.

She really should read Victor’s recommendation letter.
Placing the slightly wet glass on the table, she took the paper in her shaky hands, unfolding it only to stomp her slipper-clad foot down on the floor in frustration when she started reading it:

Dear Naivest Aspiring Corporate Lawyer,

I’ve e-mailed the recommendation letter to you this morning. How many times have I told you to keep checking both the company and personal e-mail account, just in case?

The meeting we had on Wednesday, with Bloomberg, was very important. Expect to be called in for an interview at his company next week. Apparently, you’ve passed his test Wednesday.

Start calling people’s bluffs. Stop operating on emotion. Be assertive. And good luck.

The asshole fucking KNEW! He predicted the future; he KNEW she’d fall for his bullshit?!

She finally understood his “How are you going to…” after that meeting on Wednesday. How are you going to pass the interview if you keep fumbling like this? Or something along those lines.
She threw herself back, laying on her floor, covering her face with the embarrassing letter.
It smelled faintly of Victor’s cologne.

That didn’t exactly help alleviate her stress. But it did smell nice.

So, an interview next week, huh? She better get that amazing charcoal pantsuit to the dry cleaner’s.
Oh, and she’d need to revise her CV and probably brush up on some possible interview questions and check what the easiest commute to Bloomberg’s company was and…

And get some sleep.
She was exhausted, even though it was barely a quarter past nine.
Her stomach growled.
Sleep will have to wait. She should make dinner. And take a shower.

As she slowly got up from her unsightly spot on the floor, she heard her phone ring from her purse. She barely made two steps before the ringing stopped.
Pulling the phone out, she glanced at the screen. Unfamiliar number.
She double-checked, making sure that she didn’t know whose number that was.
Oh well, maybe it was a mistake.

A little over an hour later, when she finally crawled into bed and settled under the covers, she suddenly thought about how one of her wishes came true. She did see Victor smile. He knew how to!
And it was the most attractive smile she’d ever seen.

It was Thursday, a few minutes past two and Nike left Bloomberg Financial with a spring in her step.
She dared say she rocked that interview.
Everything seemed like it was going well and Mr. Bloomberg said his secretary will be calling her the following day. To her, that sounded like she got the job, or at least, was very close to.
She certainly hoped so; it would be great to find another job so quickly; it would save her from having to touch her savings to support herself.

Victor’s recommendation letter sounded like it was describing someone else at first; but then she thought about it. Nothing that he wrote there was untrue.
So, perhaps the letter was not ABOUT someone else, it was written BY someone else.
No matter, she’d take it.

A huge smile on her lips, she decided to treat herself to her favorite milkshake before she got home. Maybe it was premature of her to celebrate just yet, but the coffee shop was right along her way, calling her name.

The weather was beautiful, the sun shining gently and birds chirping along with a soft breeze.
Her pantsuit looked professional AND stylish and she even had a good hair day.
On top of all that, she felt great about that interview and the delicious milkshake was in her hand at the moment… life was GOOD.
She grinned to herself. What would Victor say if he saw her this bubbly?
Will you wipe that dumb grin off your face?

Was he ticklish? If there was no other way to make him laugh, maybe tickling would do?
Imagining Victor squirming away from being tickled was apparently the funniest thing she thought about in a while because she had to fake cough so as not to be the fruitcake who started randomly laughing in public.


She arrived home sometime later, humming a song about Friday and being in love on a Thursday a little after a bad break up. Not even that irony and that realization could stifle her good mood.
She grabbed her usual sweats for wearing at home when she changed her mind and put on a dress.
It was not a super elegant dress by any means, just a flowy, almost baggy, shirt dress with a sash, white with black stripes, stopping a little above her knees. She loved that dress. It wasn’t really suitable for work so she hadn’t worn it in a while, but was happy to now even if it was just at home.
She was allowed to feel pretty, wasn’t she?

She let her hair down from her bun and brushed through it before she touched up her berry lip stain.
What will she do now? Maybe she should put on her comfortable red wedges and take another walk? She could use some additional groceries and maybe she could stop by at the bookstore? She hadn’t read a book in forever.
Making up her mind, she got ready, fishing through her drawer for her sunglasses when she heard the doorbell.
Thinking it’s probably Mrs. Brady, she opened the door without looking through the peephole only to let out a choked gasp when she saw who it was.

“David?” Her eyes were the size of saucers. David looked uncomfortable, shifting his weight and running his hand over his uncharacteristic stubble.
“Can we talk, Nike?”
“What the hell are you doing here?”
She finally recovered from her initial shock, trying to slam the door in his face, but he stopped her, stepping closer. He made those puppy eyes she used to love:
“Please listen to me. I’m sorry, okay? I feel like a piece of shit for how I’ve ended things. Can I come in?”

She had no idea why she stepped aside and let him into the apartment.
Maybe because she didn’t want half the building to be able to listen on whatever it was he wanted to say.
“How did you even know I’d be home at this time?”
“Luna told me you quit your job.”
Luna was a mutual friend that Nike wished to slap right about now. Why the fuck did she tell him that?
Oh right. Luna loved both of them. She wanted them to make up.
Nike paused. Was she a bad person for not sharing Luna’s wish?
She just realized it now. She did miss David, but she didn’t want to be with him again. Why not? He was a good guy, he treated her well.
Yet today, and yesterday and several days prior, she’d giggle thinking about whether Victor is ticklish or what his favorite ice cream flavor was.  

Wait. Was she… No, she couldn’t be. With that asshole?!

David spoke, yanking her back into reality:
“Nike, I’m sorry. I really fucked everything up. I acted like an immature brat. I know you must be angry with me and you have every right to be.”
Nike just nodded, crossing her arms:
“You could’ve at least waited until I got off work, David. People saw me crying.”
She didn’t want to say that by “people” she meant Victor. She had no mental energy to listen to another angry rant about him. But also… now she felt a little guilty.

David rubbed the back of his neck, his brows knitting apologetically:
“I know. I acted like an idiot, I’m sorry. I know I have no right to just walk in here and ask you to give me a second chance but… I really miss you.”

She realized something and it was like a bucket of cold water. The puppy eyes weren’t working.
She never thought it was possible; but at that moment, she felt nothing except cold, detached anger.
He dropped that bomb on her with zero consideration for either her feelings or her job, making her look unprofessional. He did it over the phone, too!
Not even her first boyfriend, way back in high school, dumped her over the phone and they dated for about three months!

Yes, she missed David but… she didn’t want him back, it was as simple as that.
However, she really didn’t want to argue with him. Her day had started so well!

“I accept your apology, David.” She saw his eyes turn hopeful before she continued:
“However, you said it yourself, it’s over.”

David’s brows dipped:
“But you quit your job! Now we can…”
“Now I will get a new job and I will most likely work just as hard there. I know I neglected you, I shouldn’t have and I’m sorry, but… I think it’s better this way.”

He took another step toward her, placing his hands on her biceps:
“Do you really mean that?”

Before she could answer, her phone rang. It wasn’t even her cell phone; it was her landline.
Whoever still used those?
When the answering machine beep echoed through the room and her cheery message finished; she heard the one voice she dreaded hearing at this very moment.
David’s gentle hold turned into a death grip as he stopped her from going to interrupt the blasted thing; gritting his teeth at Victor’s leveled baritone:

“Bloomberg called. Congratulations. I’ll be in meetings for the rest of the day and you haven’t turned your cell phone volume on; so I might as well do it like this. Tomorrow, at 7 p.m., I’ll pick you up, the dress code is formal. You did say you wanted to get to know me better.”


Nike swore the room turned several degrees colder.
David affixed her with a death glare, his mouth forming a thin, angry line:

“And now I understand why you said that.”
“David…” She tried to explain but he shook her by the shoulders:
“No. Was that your asshole boss?”
“Former boss.” She corrected him before she could realize she’s digging her grave. Now there definitely WILL be an argument.

“Former boss and current boyfriend, huh?”
His voice was dripping with vitriol:
“So, how long have the two of you been “getting to know each other”? Did he comfort you when you were crying or was that a lie and the two of you were laughing at me during some “overtime”, huh? Did you quit so you could "get to know him" properly?”
“David, cut it out. And let go of me, you’re hurting me.”

His glare didn’t let up but at least his hands did as he took a step back and Nike continued:
“It’s not what it looks like. I have no idea why he did that.”
“Oh, you don’t? I have a guess. Mr. Dickhead saw you crying and probably thought now you’re easy prey. So, what are you going to wear for your date?”

He mocked her mercilessly and she thought how she never heard David this… heartless.
It was like he was trying to hurt her on purpose. Was this the same sweet boyfriend she loved?
So, Nike got angry:
“It’s none of your business. I never cheated on you, David, but thanks for having such a great opinion of me.”

He did pause for a moment, the contempt on his face letting up before he seemed to catch himself and frown even more:
“So, you’re not denying you’ll accept his invitation?”

Nike had it. Who did he think he was? Dumping her, then waltzing back, expecting to sweet-talk his way out of that one only to throw a hissy fit now?!
“Again, David, that’s none of your business! I might be at fault for neglecting you, I’ll admit. But you were the one who decided to break up. I begged you to reconsider and you refused. It’s over. I am single now and you shouldn’t concern yourself with how I’m spending my free time.”

“I came here to try and patch things up! I told you I was sorry and I meant it! But it seems that you could hardly wait to get rid of me and jump into his arms and…”
“Yet, I wasn’t the one who fucking broke up, David, are you listening to yourself? If I wanted to get rid of you, I’d have told you I wanted to break up. I didn’t!”

“You didn’t?” He asked and she shook her head. David continued, lowering his voice a fraction:
“But you’ll still go out with him.”

“I told you. Who I go out with…” Nike really wanted to make sure this would be the last discussion she ever had with David. Even if she considered giving him a second chance… after this? No way.
“And who I get to know… and who I decide to sleep with now… Is none of your business.”

She made sure every word was measured, deliberate, poignant. Like she was an actor in one of his plays.
He seemed stunned for a few seconds but before she could even tell him to get out, he was already at the door:

“You really are an idiot. Enjoy it until he dumps you, too.”

He slammed the door shut so hard it echoed through the entire building. Nike just hoped poor old Mrs. Brady wasn’t home. If she heard that, she’d most definitely stop by with some homemade cookies to try to comfort her.

Her day started so well, how did it come down to this?!
All thoughts of shopping forgotten, she crashed on her sofa and started crying.

Chapter Text


Luna was browsing the clothing racks in her favorite boutique, pulling out two sundresses, one in dark blue with white polka dots and the other with a bright floral print, holding them out for Nike to see.
She nodded toward the blue one and Luna looked at it as if she was double-checking before placing the floral one back on the rack:

“So, what do you think about David?”

Nike felt her heartbeat quicken. David was Luna’s friend that she met recently at her birthday party. As soon as she saw the guy, she thought he was so cute it should be illegal.
His slightly too long dark brown hair was kinda messy in that bedhead type of way, he had adorable big brown eyes and he looked oddly attractive in a flannel shirt with sleeves rolled up to his elbows.
She also liked his voice and the cheery way he spoke; talking about a play he was working on, music, a festival that was recently held in the city, his trip to Thailand last year… She felt like she could listen to him talk about anything and never get bored.

David was exactly her type. Just a little bit messy, friendly, charismatic, approachable.
She also couldn’t deny he was handsome, tall with broad shoulders and long legs. He played handball and even though she never cared about the sport before, now she wished to see one of his games.

“He’s cute.” She replied with a small smile and Luna tilted her head knowingly:
“He said the same thing about you. He asked me for your number but I told him he should ask you this weekend. You’ll be there at the cookout, won’t you?”

Nike grinned like a schoolgirl and just nodded, her cheeks pink. David liked her, too?

He did ask her for her number. Called her to ask her out on a date the following day, warning her to wear pants with a chuckle.
He picked her up on his motorcycle, looking so sexy in a leather jacket she wanted to squeal.
They watched a movie she immediately forgot all about because she spent most of it stealing glimpses at his handsome face. He had a small scar on his left cheekbone and she liked the smell of his aftershave. He held her hand in the movie theater, his large, warm one enveloping hers easily.
She kind of liked his silver rings and the leather cuff he was wearing, he looked like one of those American guys in early 2000s rock bands.

They went for a walk afterward and he took her to his favorite sweets shop while they talked about pop culture:

“Oh come on, Meteora is totally the best Linkin Park album!” he chuckled and Nike shook her head:
“It’s amazing, but Hybrid Theory will forever remain the best!”
“But Meteora has Numb!”
“Hybrid Theory has In The End!”

He paused: “Fair point.” Nike continued:
“Although I think Papercut might be my favorite LP song. But Somewhere I Belong on Meteora is also amazing!”
“See? You can’t just disregard Meteora!” He laughed and entwined their fingers as he stopped walking to look at her and Nike’s breath caught. He was so gorgeous in the late afternoon light.
He leaned in slowly and she tilted her head up toward him.
His lips were slightly dry but still so soft and gentle she felt her knees melting into mush.
He caressed her cheek with his free hand, giving her cute, gentle pecks and caressing the tip of her nose with his until she giggled and he flashed her that adorable smile, his eyes crinkling.



So, they started dating. She had just graduated from university and was looking for a full-time job, juggling her two part-time ones and David had graduated several years prior, already working at one of the theaters that was slowly establishing a respectable name for itself, with its innovative plays that the art lovers soon took notice of and started attending in ever the growing numbers.
She was so happy for him and attended his premieres with a box of chocolates and some cute knick-knack she thought would make him laugh, like a keychain shaped like a cupcake or a pen with a plush donkey on top.

They had it well, he was often sleeping over at her place or she at his, they watched movies, listened to music together, played games, had delicious food and sweet sex.
It was easy to get comfortable with David, he was almost always smiling and straightforward and hardly anything really got on his nerves.
Until she started working at LFG.
In the beginning, David would smile and nod his understanding when she apologized about not being able to make it somewhere. They would reschedule and he never seemed to be angry.

Then she missed one of his premieres. She was beating herself up over it for months afterward, especially after seeing David had the look of a kicked puppy for days.
She tried to make it up to him, she spent the entire weekend at his place, even tried to make him pancakes and she did that… thing in bed that he liked.
He seemed to have forgiven her after a few days and she was relieved, thinking how, next time he had a premiere, she’ll definitely call in sick.

David shared her frustration over her impossible boss. She was too embarrassed to tell him he called her names, but she told him everything else.
“Who treats their employees like that, what the fuck is wrong with him?” David nearly fumed over a glass of beer one afternoon. He was tapping his fingers on the table; the fact he recently quit smoking still making him a little twitchy. Nike offered him a stick of gum and he shook his head:
“My jaw hurts from how much fucking gum I’ve been chewing. I also look like a lame skater with all these patches!”

He truly did, he was wearing his usual combo of a band tee, olive green cargo pants, and skater shoes. He also had nicotine patches on the inside of his arms and probably elsewhere under his clothes. Like he was full of scrapes after falling off his skateboard.

Nike suppressed a giggle and took his restless hand:
“I’m proud of you, honey. You finally quit! Just hang in there, it will get easier.”
“Easy for you to say, you never smoked!” he grumbled with a small chuckle.
“I had to wean myself off of gummy bears!” She protested and David laughed:
“I don’t think that compares really well but you’re too cute when you pout.”

He placed a quick peck on her nose before leaning back in his chair and glancing around the island Nike called “table”. His eyes went to one of the magazines on it and he picked it up:
“Success Quarterly, let’s see what the business prodigies are doing. Who bought a new car and who broke up with a supermodel, what do you think?”
“I think Elon Musk has a new goth girlfriend!” She giggled as he flipped to that page:
“Maybe I should get myself one of those, I heard they’re pretty feisty.” He chuckled and she smacked him on the shoulder:
“I’ll give you feisty if you keep that up.”
“Maybe that’s why I’m bringing it up.” He winked, still flipping through the magazine, obviously just barely interested and Nike went to the fridge to grab them more beer.

She took a few seconds to rearrange all the sweets David dumped in haphazardly previously when she heard him clear his throat, suddenly sounding serious:

“Did you say your boss’ name was Victor?”
“Yeah. Why?” She replied absent-mindedly.
“You never told me he’s my age.”

Nike frowned in confusion:
“Does it matter?”
“Nah.” He replied casually. “I just always imagined CEOs as greying or balding guys in their forties or fifties. Never thought I’d see one under 30. And you really never mentioned it.”
He repeated and Nike tried to brush it off, not realizing how jealous he actually was.
“I don’t dare think how horrible he’d be if he also had a middle-age crisis to worry about!”


Now that she thought about it, her makeup completely ruined after her tears finally subsided as she laid on her couch; David did make more than a couple of odd comments since.
When Victor took her on a business trip across the country and she was packing her suitcase, David remarked how he loved the cocktail dress she was packing.
She rolled her eyes, explaining most business deals actually get made in the evening while drinking at these lavish parties.

“You think I wouldn’t much rather be eating ice cream while watching Dolce Vita in my hotel room?”
She asked him and David shrugged:
“I don’t know. I never took you to a lavish cocktail party, for business or otherwise. You’d be wearing that dress, some rich dude by your side…”
“David. That rich dude is VICTOR, for Christ’s sake. If I could trade a kidney just to avoid this business trip, I’d do it in a heartbeat.”
“But if the rich dude wasn’t Victor? Would you like to go to a fancy party?”
“I want to spend time with you. The location doesn’t matter.”

And she meant it.
Although, that business trip, and especially that cocktail party, had been a little strange.
There were many important people there, most of them trying to hook Victor on some of their projects.
It was the first time she’d seen her boss act politely… to some of them.

She knew why. They were potential partners. Victor was still serious and level-headed but his snark was gone and she thought she much preferred this model of Victor. He listened carefully, asked reasonable, mostly non-loaded questions and took the answers into consideration.
He did know how to communicate respectfully! It was attractive.
Oh, but of course, he only did it for money.

She did her own part, working on her tablet during these semi-formal negotiations, following Victor around to talk to whomever he estimated was worthy of it.
He didn’t even treat her too shabbily that evening; she suspected because he didn’t want others to know how horrible of a boss he was.
At one point, he took her to the bar and ordered them both drinks, signaling that was to be a short break and she laid her tablet on the bar for the time being.
Victor briefly excused himself (well, kind of, he basically just said “wait here” and disappeared) so she used the time to unwind with her martini.
A woman she hadn’t noticed before politely asked if the seat next to her was available.

She didn’t think this woman was one of the executives, although she could’ve been wrong. Maybe she was also an assistant, although her expensive jewelry told Nike that was not the case.
She seemed to be in her early thirties, her blonde hair gathered in a neat bun, her pearl earrings jingling delicately:

“Your boyfriend doesn’t seem to be enjoying himself.”
She remarked as the bartender placed her Cosmo in front of her.
“My…Oh no! He’s my boss.” Nike explained, wondering why the woman’s mistake made her ears feel hot. The woman raised an eyebrow as she tilted her head and Nike thought she vaguely resembled Samantha from Sex and the City; the knowing smirk was the same.
“You say that as if the two are mutually exclusive.”
Now Nike felt the heat in her cheeks.
“They are for me.” She managed and the woman seemed to notice how uncomfortable she was because she smiled pleasantly:
“I didn’t mean to upset you, I was just joking, I’m sorry. I merely thought the two of you look beautiful together, so I assumed…”
Nike nodded fervently, wishing to end this conversation before Victor came back. If he heard this, or probably if he even saw her chit-chatting while she was technically on the clock, he’d have her head.
“Please don’t worry about it; it’s a minor misunderstanding.” She reassured the blonde lady and she raised her glass slightly in cheers before getting up with a wink:
“But if you ever quit…” She paused “And that was another joke! Please enjoy the rest of your evening.”

The lady left and Victor returned a few moments later, eyeing Nike’s still flushed face but opting not to say anything.
Nike noticed it afterward.
Several gorgeous women, most of them vaguely familiar like they could be supermodels, eyed Victor through half-lidded eyes before they’d see her in all her tiny “glory” and nearly scowl.

I am his SECRETARY, people, what the hell is wrong with you!?

One of them even made a move on him and Nike wished she could laugh.
She was gorgeous, legs up to her chin, golden tan, luscious dark hair, designer dress, the whole nine yards. Nike didn’t exactly hear what she told him, as she leaned in to almost whisper in his ear but she did catch her giving her a dirty glance and then she saw Victor taking a step away as if the woman didn’t even exist. He didn’t even look back as he waved his hand:
“Nike.” He commanded and that was it.

If that was a scene in a movie, Nike would howl with laughter.
What would it be?
Henry Cavill, most likely, ignoring Priyanka Chopra while waving for Emma Stone to follow him?
She’d watch that movie.

Except this was not a movie and her feet hurt in high heels and the evening was still far from over.

Was David right to be worried, she thought now? Did she like Victor?
Certainly, he was gorgeous. But looks weren’t everything and being someone who experienced how abrasive and infuriating the man was almost every day, she’d be crazy to have liked him.
But apparently, other people also got the wrong idea.

How about now; though?
Now that she knew Victor was more than a cold-hearted jerk?
She was thinking about him every day, wondering about meaningless small things he liked or didn’t, what he would do in certain situations, what his childhood was like, even down to the position he slept in (probably on his back, still as a statue; after all, robots don’t move when on stand-by)
Those weren’t things one would think about regarding just anyone.

Oh god.
She did have a huge crush on Victor.

Nike scoffed at her closet after she padded to her bedroom naked after a shower.
She browsed through it, discovering she had only two dresses that could pass as formal.
One was the cocktail dress she wore for that business mingling thing and the other was a dress she wore once at a wedding a couple of years ago.
She hoped she could still fit in it as she pulled it out of its protective bag.

It was a gorgeous flaming red dress. It dipped low in the back, the subdued mermaid cut slightly losing in opacity below the knees so one could catch a glimpse of her shins down to her feet until the hem was almost see-through and she thought it went really well with nude pumps.
If only she could find them…
She liked that the dress had no decorations like embroidery or anything sewn to it or several different textures, just a bit of rouging to accentuate the waist and that gradient at the bottom. It was sleek and she remembered she felt like a princess when she first tried it on.
She put it on now, remembering it won’t look as good as it could without shoes and hair and makeup before she stepped in front of her mirror.
It still fit, thank heavens.
But what the hell?!

Her biceps were bruised.
Fucking David.
She eyed several slightly purple fingermarks and tried to steady her breathing.
She had no formal dresses with sleeves.
Could she wear a stole? No… she’d have to take it off at some point.
Could she… cover them up with makeup?
If it worked on dark under eyes, some color correcting might also work on other bruises. Then she could just cover that up with some well-matched concealer and tons of fixing spray and call it a night.

If anybody ever told her she’d have to cover up bruises on her body, she’d tell them they were silly.
Her face fell and she seriously hoped David would never try to talk to her again.
This was like some domestic abuse crap.

Maybe she should just text Victor her refusal.
After all, it was never smart to start dating right after a breakup.

She stopped herself. It probably wasn’t a date anyway. Victor might have just wanted to nag her again and give her more humiladvice under the pretense of celebrating her new job.
That made her smile again, imagining Victor basically becoming addicted to giving humiladvice.
Like some twisted older brother.
Yeah, that’s what it was. Just some Victor-style nagging with dinner or drinks or whatever.

However, now he wasn’t her boss anymore, so work was not all they were allowed to talk about.
She grinned. She could actually TEASE Victor now, something she always wanted to do, just to see if she could beat him at the game of wits now that she had no reason to fear him anymore.

Nike barely stopped herself from tapping her fingers together evilly like Mr. Burns. Excellent.

Victor rang her doorbell at 7 sharp and Nike shook her head, basically asking herself why she’s not surprised.
She smoothed her dress as she stood up, her heels clicking across the floor and she opened, schooling her expression into one she hoped was neutral but polite:

“Good evening.” She chirped and Victor merely nodded. Does he just never return greetings verbally on principle?
She missed the way his pupils slightly dilated as he blinked slowly:
“Are you ready?”
“A second.”
She dipped behind the door to grab her purse and reemerged with a smile, turning the light in the hallway off as she locked the door.

Victor smelled even better than usual, she noticed. Sandalwood, with something light and also something spicy… it suited him.
She was used to seeing him in suits with ties but this was the first time she’d seen him with a white shirt on.
Was he actually wearing a tuxedo?
Nike always thought tuxedos had those two tails in the back of the jacket… or was that called something else?
Man, she wasn’t cut out for this fancy world.

Victor was silent in the elevator and Nike had to remind herself not to shift her weight anxiously.
He opened the building door for her, leading her to a black BMW that looked like it belonged in a movie.
Way flashier than that serious Tesla.
He placed his hand in the indent in the car door on her side and it opened in that slightly strange, butterfly-wing way that always reminded Nike of the car from Back To The Future.

He started the engine and pulled out of the parking lot and Nike finally started the conversation:
“So, where are we going?”
“You’ll see,” Victor replied curtly and Nike almost regretted doing this. Is he going to be like this the entire evening? The silence in the car was almost maddening. Why couldn’t he drive something a little louder? It was like even the car engine was against her.

 “You’ve left a strong impression on Bloomberg. When do you start?”
His serious tone wasn’t surprising but he broke the silence and Nike’s brows raised:
“On Monday. I’m excited.”
“Don’t blow it.”
“Thank you, I guess.” She replied with an uncomfortable chuckle before deciding to ask him something that’s been on her mind for a while:
“Uhm, did you recommend me to him, sir?”

Victor chuckled and THAT surprised her. He tilted his head toward her just enough to give her a brief side-eye:
“Why do you still call me that?”
“Call you what?”
“Sir. My name is Victor.” He was still smirking and she knew he was mocking her over what she told him last time they were in a car together. She kicked herself mentally, both over that and over the fact she didn’t even notice she said “sir”.
“Force of habit, I suppose.”
“You’re lucky I am adept at breaking my own habits. Nike.”

He emphasized the way he pronounced her name and even though she suspected it was just the punchline of his mocking, it sounded… nice, rolling off of his tongue. It wasn’t the typical barking way he’d always say it in the past. It almost sounded… sexy.

He drove in silence for a little while before finally continuing:
“And yes, I did. Bloomberg owed me a favor.”
“He hired me because he owes you?” Nike frowned. Just as she thought she might not be incompetent after all…
“He’s not an idiot. He called you in for an interview because he owes me. He hired you because you passed the interview.”

Another poignant side-eye from him but this time, Nike smiled:
“I guess that’s the nicest thing I’ve ever heard you say.”
“Me saying nice things won’t teach you anything.” He scoffed and averted his eyes back to the road. Nike didn’t miss how his lips pursed slightly. Was he spiteful?
“Maybe not. But it would make me feel better.” She kept smiling, wishing she wasn’t imagining the faintest pink hue on his cheeks. He was adorable.
“You are the one who’s supposed to make yourself feel better.” He replied coldly.
“People don’t exist in vacuums… Victor. They influence each other with what they say or do. Especially if one of them is a successful professional and his opinion has weight.”

He was silent for a while after that, his face the typical expressionless stone and she wondered if he was irritated before he finally replied:
“You did well. I’m glad.”
“Thank you very much.” She grinned. Even if he cut that sentence short and it was supposed to be “I’m glad you didn’t go in there and embarrass me.” He cut it short willingly, for her. Maybe Victor could be nice after all!

Chapter Text

Victor left his car with the valet and Nike looked at the glass behemoth that was the Ritz Carlton.
She never would have guessed she’d set foot in this place on a dinner date. Or dinner new job celebration, whatever.
He buttoned his tux jacket and offered her his arm nonchalantly.
She looked up at his face only to see that partial side-eye glance again before she hooked her arm under his and he led her in.
She was painfully aware of his warmth, his arm strong, firmer than she expected, making her wish to run her fingers against it and check whether he was tense.

She should’ve assumed people would bend over backwards for him at the restaurant. Everybody knew his name and not only that, but it seemed to her he came here often, especially when they were told his usual table was ready.
It was weird to be assisted when taking a seat, too. The maître d' was a superbly elegant gentleman in his late thirties, his features subdued, like they were matching the lighting in the restaurant.
They were seated in a private area and she again thought she should’ve expected that, too.

The place was magnificent. Tall windows overlooking the city that looked breathtaking from this high up, crystal decorations hanging off the tall ceilings, leather chairs that were comfortable enough for her to almost fall asleep in, soft grey flooring that she couldn’t determine the material of and unobtrusive classical music playing from invisible speakers.
Everything looked like it was just magically working together and she almost felt out of place. Shouldn’t she be wearing some diamonds or be able to speak French or at least know 17 different types of cutlery?

As they were seated and served their desired drinks, the maître d’ left them to decide on their order and Victor entwined his fingers in that familiar way that meant he was about to start a discussion he found entertaining. So, usually, something to torment her.
Yet, he said nothing. Nike was beginning to feel uncomfortable under his gaze like she has so many times before. Just as she thought her anti-squirm self-control mechanism was about to crash from overheating, he nodded softly:

“Go ahead.”
“Excuse me?”
“I will grant you three questions. You may ask me anything you wish and I will answer.”
Nike wanted to ask “truthfully?” before she stopped herself, knowing he’d count that as her first question.
A smirk emerged on her lips. She knew she should really make the most out of this; but what should she ask him? Once she eliminated all the silly questions about ice cream flavors, favorite music or vulnerability to tickling, there was not much left.
She also didn’t want to go into the cliché mushy territory and ask something like “what was your dream job as a child?” because Victor would probably scoff mockingly, call her an idiot and say the job he now has as an adult. Just because he’s perfect like that.

“You were the one who said you wanted to get to know me.” He prompted, taking his glass of wine.
“And you don’t want to get to know me?” She blurted out before she mentally slapped herself.
“I thought my answer to that was already known. We are here, after all. You have two questions left.”

Nike thought how she just CaptainObvioused herself out of a question before thinking whether she’ll ever feel comfortable around this man.
He held no official power over her but she still felt like she was walking on eggshells and all her previous glee at the prospect of teasing him melted under that steely gaze.
She took a sip of her own drink, trying to buy time.
Not a single topic of conversation she was used to on social outings felt like it would work now.
This was not the type of place she went to, it was not the type of clothes she’d normally wear… and Victor was not the type of person she’d normally spend her time with.

What was she thinking? They had nothing in common. He was rich, successful, perfect. More importantly, he was so serious. He had a stick up his ass.
Nike was usually cheerful, relaxed, even a little silly. Nothing Victor would appreciate.
She should’ve stayed home. Why did she even agree to this?

Victor placed his glass back on the table, smoothing his tie down:
“You seem to be unable to think of anything you wish to know.”
“Oh, there might be things I wish to know, but nothing you wouldn’t be snarky about answering.”
“Sadistic AND snarky? Are you trying to butter me up?”
His face didn’t betray him, but his eyes did. They glinted in what she realized was amusement… no. Mirth? He was enjoying this?

A new surge of determination washed over Nike. There were two possible ways this could go. She could screw up or not. That was all there was to it. So, she might as well try.

“What are your hobbies?” She finally asked. She might as well start there. Perhaps it was a boring and too easy of a question but all she knew about Victor was work-related. If she really wished to know him as a person, hobbies were a safe way to start.
“So, that is what you’re going with.” He remarked but it wasn’t in his usual cold tone and she almost thought these remarks or summaries might be a habit of his.
“I enjoy swimming. Cooking. I occasionally attend auctions, exhibits, plays, or visit galleries and museums.”
Cooking?! She would never have guessed that. Victor in an apron, his shirt sleeves rolled up to his elbows… she’d pay to see that.
“Judging by that silly grin, you are surprised.” Victor quipped, taking his glass again.
She schooled her features into a more neutral expression, thinking she probably looked like a smitten teenager. But there just was SOMETHING about a man in a shirt with rolled-up sleeves… and a man who cooked. Knowing Victor, he could probably death glare a souffle into rising just perfectly.

“I just always assumed you enter some capsule where you hibernate and let nanobots do system maintenance overnight.” She smiled, placing her elbows on the table and resting her chin on her hands as if mimicking his common gesture when he was enjoying himself.
Of course, he noticed, a slight quirk of an eyebrow betraying his amusement before a corner of his lip twitched. So, his smile curved slightly to the left.
Did anything else curve slightly to the… NIKE! Get a hold of yourself!
“You’ve certainly put a lot of thought into that.”
He leaned on his hands as well and Nike realized they were probably too close, his cologne intoxicating her. Yet, she didn’t pull back. Was this how snakes charmed critters they were about to eat?

“I merely used to watch a lot of sci-fi while I still had time for myself, you know.”
“I see. In any case, you have one more question left.”
It was getting harder to think under his gaze. Now that he was closer, in the warmly lit restaurant, his eyes seemed almost the color of lilacs instead of their usual steely grey hue. Those long lashes cast a shadow over his intense irises and Nike thought how his pupils never looked quite that big before. Or maybe she never dared hold his gaze long enough to notice before.
She didn’t think hard about her last question.

“You said you also wanted to get to know me. Why?”
Victor’s eyes narrowed ever so slightly before he gave a small sigh, as if slightly frustrated, but nothing on his face tensed the way it usually did when he was:
“Why not?”
“No answering questions with another question!”
“I don’t remember that being a rule.” The tiniest of smirks. Was he toying with her? Of course.
“Well, I am putting it into effect now.”
“It still comes into effect only after I’ve already done it.”
“I expected a cleverer answer from you.” Two could play that game. Victor’s smirk deepened and she remembered that guy from Tangled. Did they call that “smolder”?

“Are you telling me you are disappointed?”
“Very much so. “Why not” is the 101 of Question Evasion. I’d have taken you for a man of more sophisticated tactics.”
She hadn’t even drunk half of the martini in her glass yet; why was she this bold?!
But Victor seemed to… enjoy it? It was hard to tell, especially after his jaw tensed at her jab, but then he spoke again:
“Perhaps I’ve decided now is not the right time for those sophisticated tactics.”

Did she… strike a chord? Could Victor be manipulated… no… coaxed; by being called out on his bull?
Something similar did the trick on her last day at LFG. Although this time; it was definitely done through flirting.

“I will continue being disappointed, then.” She graced him with another smile.
“I’ve used up all my questions.”
“And quite unwisely. You could’ve asked absolutely anything.”
“And you would’ve evaded.”
“Indeed. So, the lesson is that you should always make sure things play out according to your rules before you even start playing.”
“I’ll remember that next time, Mr. Deckard.”

Victor’s brows raised slightly in amusement:
“I thought you considered me a robot.”
He'd seen Bladerunner? Obviously not the right version, though.
“I do. Watch the Director’s Cut.” She won this one. Maybe. How did the point system with Victor even work? She leaned back in her chair, swirling the martini in her glass:
“Now what?”
“Now I get to ask questions.”
Victor replied immediately.
“And thanks to your rule, you cannot evade them.”
He won that one. Damn. Was this his plan all along?

He took his sweet time, pretending to think and Nike waited, enjoying all the minute new nuances in his expressions she got to discover. Off-the-clock Victor was… sexy as fuck.
Finally, he seemed to have come to the conclusion he let her simmer long enough. Hah, was that a cooking joke?

“Why haven’t you quit earlier?”
Nike didn’t let his question catch her off-guard. She was slowly getting the hang of this:
“You called me unwise, yet of all the questions you could’ve asked, you ask about work?”
“Should I remind you that is a question and you’re all out?”
“That was also a question. So, you’ve used up two. On work.”

Victor laid his glass down, blinking slowly before his large hands connected into a barely audible languid clap:
“Well played. I finally saw a glimpse of a corporate lawyer in you.”
Did she… just defeat Victor in a battle of wits?! He frowned, even though the corners of his lips betrayed amusement:
“And of course, you had to immediately ruin it with that grin.”

She giggled at that:
“Can you blame me? It’s not every millennium that I see you pleased.”
She only realized how that sounded when Victor’s smirk turned almost predatory:
“So that is what you want to see. Me pleased. That was not a question.”
He added sternly and she thought it was getting hotter in the room. Her cheeks flared up and she hoped they weren’t matching her dress already. How did the initially awkward evening turn to this?!
She couldn’t remember if she ever flirted this hard with anyone before!
Taking a sip to calm her nerves, she tried to ignore the smolder that she suspected was the closest Victor could get to a shit-eating grin.

Victor pleased. Not just with an answer or a report or a cup of coffee; but Victor pleased with other things. Starting from a meal (she’d get to see that soon enough if he was a regular here), to a good movie for instance. Or Victor pleased with dessert. Or… a special kind of dessert.
She faked a small cough to hide the grin she already knew would emerge if she kept entertaining those thoughts. It didn’t work. But of course.
Victor shook his head, the strands of hair always curving above his left ear swaying delicately. She wanted to see his hair slicked back, wet after he emerged from the pool. Nike herself was not a very good swimmer, and that was an understatement. She couldn’t swim at all.

“Why are you so easy to read?” He cocked his head to the side and the blush came back to her cheeks with added fury.
“I am not!”
“Yes, you are.”
“Wait.” Her face lightened up. “You just asked another question.”
“Glad you noticed. Because I meant to. Now give me my answers.”

Nike fiddled with her earring nervously:
“I haven’t quit earlier because I thought I could handle you as long as it was just the office. But then it spilled over into my private life and it just made me so angry.”
“So, you would still be working for me if not for your breakup.”
Victor concluded and she couldn’t read his expression; he affixed his usual stone face mask firmly in place. She didn’t want to focus on that sentence and any implications she might have imagined were there.
“As for your third question. I don’t think I am easy to read.”
“I think you are.”
“Maybe just for you.”
He leaned in again, a strand of hair nested between the root of his nose and his brow making her want to tuck it aside just to see how soft his hair was:
“Well, if that’s the case, I might have to reconsider whether it’s a flaw.”

The food was indeed exquisite and Nike got her wish. Victor’s features softened almost to the point where he looked adorable as he ate. She had to keep reminding herself to eat and not stare at him too much, because… he looked like a different person almost.
He was still serious, but not intimidating and she was enjoying it.
If anyone ever told her she’d be having dinner and flirting with this man that used to infuriate her to no end, she’d have called them crazy. She wondered what was going through Victor’s head at the moment.
Was he also surprised by what this maybe date was like?

In the past, Nike only ever went on, as she called them, low-maintenance dates. Movies, walks, ice-cream, drinks… some dinners, too, but at places nowhere near as fancy as this one. She even went to amusement parks and arcades for dates before.
Not only the dates but also the guys have been kinda low-maintenance. They were mostly talkative, cheerful guys with a good sense of humor. She loved to laugh and she always considered the sense of humor the most important factor in determining whether a date was enjoyable or not; the first date especially.

Victor was not funny. He was witty and superbly intelligent, but not funny.
Yet, she was having fun. Kinda.
It might be due to how mysterious he was. Perhaps he was actually super boring under all the attitude and the fanciness. She would be so disappointed if that were the case.

“Dessert?” He snapped her out of her thoughts and she almost jumped, being unceremoniously yanked out of a fantasy where Victor was telling her his favorite author was Dostoyevsky. For Nike, Russian classics were the definition of boredom.
The last book she read was Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, for Christ’s sake!
And that was… over a year ago, she realized.
She barely had enough time to watch a movie a month over the past year.
How did Victor have time to swim and cook and attend every event ever?!
“No, thanks.” She shook her head. She was never big on sweets and Victor quirked an eyebrow:
“They do make excellent pudding here.”
“I don’t have much of a sweet tooth.” She admitted. Victor’s eyes widened a fraction before he schooled his expression back to neutral.
“I see. That might be a deal-breaker.”
She stared at him for a couple of seconds before her brain caught up:
“Are you joking?”
“I see you’re already getting to know me better.” He nodded over his glass and Nike grinned:
“So, you like sweets?”
“I like pudding.”

Was it important to specify? Did he like only pudding? But wait… that meant:
“I see. Pudding is soft and delicate and sweet. And the big mean CEO likes it.” She teased mercilessly but Victor merely scoffed, that crooked smile on his face again:
“Beginning to see a pattern?”

What was that supposed to mean?! How did he take her moment and turn it into his victory? Was he… likening her to pudding? She barely suppressed her instant desire to look at her stomach. She hasn’t gained weight, has she?
Or maybe he just called her sweet.
She might need hair dye after a few more conversations with Victor. He’d make her hair go grey with frustration.

Victor decided to forgo pudding and Nike felt a little guilty. She should’ve accepted dessert.
As they left the restaurant and stepped back into the fresh night air, brightly lit with all the buzzing life of the city that never seemed to sleep, Victor offered her his arm again, only to frown so abruptly she almost squealed. The Evil Victor was back:

“What is that?” He asked quietly through gritted teeth and Nike’s entire body grew cold. He was looking at her bicep. She followed his gaze in a panic only to notice that somehow, SOMEHOW, the bright neon lights made the bruises peek through her concealer as ghostly grey marks. Did the concealer oxidize?! NO!

“What is what?” She attempted but Victor’s frown only deepened. It seemed she never learned that he was simply too perceptive for her to be able to feign ignorance with him.
“The marks on your arm. And don’t try to lie to me.” He snaked his own arm out only to take a step and check her other arm. She heard him click his tongue, shaking his head in what she could only assume was disgust. She shriveled into herself.
Great. Now he will probably voice that disgust and that would be the end of their first and last maybe date.

She remained silent for a while and Victor took a step:
“Let’s get into the car.”
She could only follow. Just a little longer. He can take her home and it will all be finished.

He waited until they were both seated in the vehicle and then he turned to face her:
Nike fiddled with the seatbelt much longer than necessary to avoid his gaze.
“Look at me.” He almost whispered and she screamed internally. She will not cry.
When she did turn her head toward him, she noticed Victor didn’t seem angry or disgusted anymore. He seemed… concerned?
“It’s nothing.” She managed to spit out and his hand went toward her arm before he stopped himself:
“Doesn’t look like nothing. Tell me.”
“There’s nothing to tell.” Nike insisted:
“Can you please take me home now? I feel a little tired.”

Victor nodded. He finally seemed to have given up, fastening his own seatbelt and starting the car.
They drove in silence for a while before he finally broke it, his voice confident, yet oddly soft:
“This will not do, Nike.”
She turned away from the window she was gazing through previously and looked at his profile.
“I will not have you lying to me or hiding things from me. I don’t care how insignificant, stupid, embarrassing or whatever you imagine something is; I want to know.”
“Why?” Her mouth felt dry.
“For how much you overthink, you surely miss the most blatantly obvious things.”
He shook his head and it was a few seconds before he had to stop at a red light, the crimson glow illuminating his features like a soft caress as he turned to face her, eyes warming up:
“We’re getting to know each other. And I want to know everything.”

Chapter Text

Nike stared at Victor, unsure how to respond to that, while a warm, fuzzy ball in her stomach started spreading all over her body, making her toes curl.
Did that mean that they were… dating now?
She really didn’t want to talk about David.
Victor started driving again as the light turned green and waited a few seconds before speaking again and Nike could tell he was trying to sound nice:

“You can tell me. Maybe I can help.”
“I already handled it myself.”
“What did you handle?” He wasn’t letting up and Nike chuckled despite herself:
“You’re like a pitbull, Victor, you just won’t let go!”
“If I deem it worthy of my investment. Now stop being stubborn for the sake of being stubborn and tell me.”
He was almost using the authoritative voice she knew well and she sighed. She was so used to the inevitability of her doing whatever that voice demanded of her that she again gave in:
“David came to my place yesterday.”

Victor’s hold on the steering wheel shifted slightly before he nodded:
“I thought so. What did he do?”
Nike threw her head back against the car seat, closing her eyes:
“This is going to sound ridiculous. He squeezed me in order to stop me from turning off my answering machine when a certain someone called to order me to have dinner with him.”

She half-expected Victor to snort or give some dry remark. He glanced at her again:
“Did he do anything else to you?”
His tone was cold but she had learned how to recognize types of his anger by now. He was not angry with her this time.
“No. I asked him to leave and he did.”
Victor nodded, tapping his fingers against the steering wheel, his lips ever so slightly pursed in thought. His icy chill was still in place.
“Is he going to be a problem?”

Nike blinked. What did he mean by that?
“I told you I handled it. I think he didn’t actually mean to bruise me.”
“That’s not all I’m asking.” His knuckles were white on the steering wheel now.
“What is it you are asking, then?”

Victor remained silent for a while after that and she only noticed they were in front of her building when he stopped the car.
“Let us assume I ask you out again and you say yes.”
He was still staring ahead of himself. She wanted to say he didn’t exactly ASK the first time but she wisely kept her mouth shut, waiting to hear him out.
“Would you be saying yes because of me or because of him?”

Her brows raised. She blinked. Then she started laughing, trying to hold back but finding herself unable to. Victor whipped his head around to look at her, a deep frown on his, now definitely slightly flushed, face. Nike wished she could kiss the frown away and the blush deeper.
He scowled:
“Forget I said anything. You mentioned you were tired, sorry for keeping you.”

She shook her head vigorously:
“No, no, no! I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to laugh, I’m sorry, really! You just surprised me.”
She took a few deep breaths to calm down:
“Let me get this straight. Are you asking me if I’m using you to make my ex jealous?”
Victor tilted his head to the side, schooling his expression into a more neutral one:
“I’m asking you if I’m wasting my time.”
“Only if you consider spending it with me wasted.”
“I wouldn’t be here if I did and you know that.”
“I do. I also wouldn’t be here if I actually wanted to be somewhere else.”
She unfastened her seat belt, feeling so giddy she could jump over the moon, high heels and all.

“You know what helps when one is feeling tired? Coffee. Wanna climb up for a cup?”
It was Victor’s turn to blink in surprise. His pupils have dilated again and she noticed a slight bob of his Adam’s apple as his brows furrowed in that composed way she was used to:
“You know what I think about your coffee and I’m trying to be nice tonight.”

Nike was almost bursting from giddiness:
“Finally! Here’s something I wanted to say for a year: Make it yourself then.”

It felt almost like a dream, having Victor in her apartment. He looked kinda like a Victorian (hah!) porcelain doll in a Mattel store, his suit probably cost more than everything in her living room combined.
She was also surprised when she took her shoes off and realized, for the first time, just how much shorter than him she was, she was up to his chin. She always wore heels around him before.
He looked around the apartment curiously and she waited to see if he would deliver some snarky remark. His eyes locked on a painting above her sofa:

“That’s a good piece. Who’s the artist?”
It was an almost surrealist large painting of a Rorschach inkblot on a white background. Inside the inkblot was a colorful city landscape, upside down. Nike smiled, her brow arching. If she knew that would please him, she’d have brought him 10 pieces like that for his office.
“I am. Painted that in college.”
“Do you still paint?” He was still studying the painting.
“Not really. Don’t have enough time or inspiration.”
“Too bad.”

She felt warm. She loved that painting and it simply felt nice to hear Victor compliment it and not even assume it wasn’t done by an artist, but merely her; painting was just a hobby for her, one she neglected. How many things has she neglected since graduating?

“Anyway, the kitchen is this way.” She jokingly pointed across the open plan of her living, dining and kitchen area.
She handed him the coffee packets and made a theatrical gesture toward the coffee machine:
“Go ahead, Mr. CEO. Teach me how you like your coffee.”

Victor shook his head in mock-exasperation but she noticed the way his mouth corners were upturned.
He made the coffee with robotic precision and her gaze followed his fingers. They were long and elegant, slightly tapered and she wondered if his fingertips were soft.
She opened her cabinet, picking out two of her favorite mugs. Nike never owned a set of mugs, all of them were mismatched and not only did she like it, collecting unique and strange ones, but she knew it would probably annoy Victor.
She placed them on the counter and reveled in Victor’s almost dumbfounded expression.
One of them was shaped like a Shiba Inu, ears and all. The other like a cactus. She picked that one out for him.

“How old are you…” he muttered and she laughed again:
“Not too old to have fun, obviously.”

He poured the coffee into the mugs and handed her the cactus one. She pouted, trying to switch them but Victor shook his head in that usual “end of discussion” way:
“I prefer this one.”
“But this one suits you better!”
“Because I’m a prick?”
“Exactly.” She grinned a shit-eating grin and Victor closed his eyes momentarily and sighed before moving to the sofa. She settled next to him, leaning an elbow on the backrest and wishing she wasn’t in her super elegant dress so she could pull her legs under herself like she usually did when sitting on a sofa.

She silently waited for him to take a sip and nearly melted when he did make a relaxed face. He looked at her and nodded toward her mug:
“Go ahead, taste what coffee is supposed to be like.”
She took a sip. It was indeed amazing but she’d be damned if she let him have that victory so easily:
“Not bad.” She shrugged and Victor shuffled on the sofa, loosening his tie just a tiny bit and her eyes locked with the small part of the skin that he exposed in the process. It seemed like the smell of his cologne only intensified, like he stirred it.

She finally remembered she should lift her gaze sometime this century only to notice him looking at her, his eyes again the color of lilacs, irises almost swallowed by dark, bottomless pits of pupils.
At that moment, when his face was relaxed, his smell so enticing, mixed with delicious, hot coffee, his lashes long and his warmth just a shuffle away, she felt like time had stopped, like everything around her faded into the background and there was just the hue of his eyes and those enticing lips. He would taste like coffee now. His tongue would be warm and sweet, rubbing languidly against hers.
All he had to do was lean in slightly, she would tilt her head up and meet his lips. They looked soft and she just wanted to melt into them, let that speak instead of the two of them.

Slowly, agonizingly slowly, the distance between them dissipated, like there was a line they were both dancing, thin like an edge of a knife, like a single hair.
There was still time to pull back, Nike thought. She still wasn’t too far gone.
But if he kissed her, she had a feeling she wouldn’t want to or even be able to, let him go again.

There was so much about Victor that she didn’t know. A little bit that she did. His cheeks flushed when he was trying to ask her if he was her potential rebound while he was pretty much the only thing on her mind lately.
She wanted to hear him laugh. Really laugh his stuck up, stoic ass off.
She wanted to know when his birthday was. What his voice sounded like in the morning. If he liked music or rain or animals or fireworks.
She wanted to see him swim. She wanted to hug him and listen to his heartbeat. She wondered what he was like underneath all the layers he carefully donned over the years. What was his heart truly like? Was he ever sad, melancholic, regretful, ecstatic, giddy, joyful or nervous? Was he afraid of anything? Was he truly perfect or was that just a well-rehearsed act?
Was he as cold as he led everyone to believe?

Their noses touching brought her back to the lilac and sandalwood and coffee.
Victor’s lips were slightly parted and she could almost feel his sweet caffeinated breath on her face. Her own lips quivered and she found her eyelids fluttering closed, anticipating the kiss.
His free hand snaked to her face and he traced the outline of her jaw with his fingertips. Soft. Like petals. Barely there, making her shiver, every nerve on end. The fingers snaked up her chin agonizingly slowly, teasing her bottom lip, the contour of it before she felt his thumb run down it, pulling on it gently and she opened her eyes only to see him still inches away, his eyelids heavy as a soft breath escaped his still parted lips.
Those eyes.
She placed her free hand on his knee and his eyes narrowed another fraction as her palm moved slowly up a couple of inches before she stopped, tracing small circles with her fingertips.
Victor’s voice was barely louder than a whisper when he spoke and she felt the tiny hairs on the back of her neck standing up at the sound

“You’re tempting me.”
“You started it.” She returned in kind and his thumb ran down her lip again, the tip of his nose pulling away only for his forehead to connect to hers:
“I should get going.”

Her heart sank.
“You haven’t even finished your coffee.”
“I wouldn’t finish it if I stayed either.”
His touch left a lingering warmth as he stood up, smoothing the perfection back into place as she walked him to the door. She felt tingly all over and as Victor turned to cast one last glance at her, she wished she just kissed him first instead of waiting:
“What do you think about Sunday, 11 a.m.?”

She grinned like a cat entirely too enthusiastic about the cream:
“Good. I’ll send a car for you. Goodnight, Nike.”
“Goodnight, Victor.”

Victor was back in his car, leaning his head against the back of the seat. Leaving when he did took almost inhuman self-restraint. But he was never the man to rush anything.
She might have looked like she wanted that kiss as much as he did, but there were things he should make sure are resolved first.
He was still angry about that asshole of her ex. What was the idiot even doing at her place? Asking for a second chance most likely.
What kind of a pathetic coward hurts a woman like that? He hoped she didn’t see how angry he truly was. Victor took immense pride in his level-headedness, but it flew out the window at stuff like this. Abusing someone weaker than you? Really, dickhead!?
He was aware people called him cold, ruthless, even evil. Maybe he was. He liked to think that was not the case. Every mean thing he did was motivated by the desire to help, however twisted that might sound. But he never just abused his power for the sake of it. He never threatened anyone for his personal gain, he never intimidated anyone innocent into anything. And he definitely never laid a finger on anyone.

But if that idiot thought his shit would fly…
Victor led LFG with an iron fist. He knew everything that went on in his company. His employees were not aware of this, but Victor knew of most, if not all, water-cooler conversations, cafeteria gossip, even New Year party gossip.
He knew what the bastard’s name was, where he worked and what he did.
He even watched one of his plays once. It wasn’t all that good.
He took his phone out of his pocket and dialed the familiar number:

“Goldman. I want to buy a theater.”  

Chapter Text

David was always well-liked wherever he went. At school, he had many friends and would get a significant number of cards on Valentine’s day. At university, he was constantly told how he should have gone for acting, with his face and voice. He never had any trouble finding a girlfriend and people, in general, were always flocking around him.
And now at work, his coworkers and cast were almost like family to him.

He always thought it was because he was cheerful and nice. He did his best to always brighten up a room, to always help when he could, or at least not stand in anyone’s way when he couldn’t.
He fell in love with Nike almost instantly, finding her to be a kindred spirit. They had so much in common and boy was she beautiful to boot! He loved her sweet, heart-shaped face and her huge bright smile, her soft skin and her cute little butt.
He could see she liked him very much, too and he was oddly grateful, not only for his bright personality but also for the way he looked, especially when she would run her fingers through his hair and kiss his nose, calling him so cute it should be illegal.
He never minded being called cute, he enjoyed it. Especially when she said it.

And then that bastard appeared and ruined everything.
He didn’t know what Victor looked like at first. He just assumed he was some middle-aged prick. He was angry over how he treated Nike. David could understand working hard, he didn’t expect anyone to baby his girlfriend just because HE thought she was too cute for anyone to upset her. But it seemed Victor was not merely strict, he was cruel.

Then he saw his photo in that damn magazine and felt shaken to his core.
THAT was Victor?!
He instantly thought how Nike never mentioned how young and… not-fat-and-ugly he was.
Slowly, he started doubting her. Was she really staying for overtime work or was she cheating on him? Were her stories about Victor being a monster just a cleverly concocted lie? If she made David believe the man was horrible, he’d never suspect she was actually cheating.

He started watching Nike carefully and he thought her clothes were getting more elegant and her makeup stronger. She kept telling him she’s following the dress code and had to cake on makeup to hide the dark under eyes she earned from the lack of sleep but David couldn’t help but wonder if she was just following Victor’s wishes and if the lack of sleep was caused by him personally.

It was becoming torture. On the one hand, he felt guilty for doubting his girlfriend like that but on the other… he would look at Victor’s picture and then at himself in the mirror.
He was cute and funny, but Victor was rich, successful, obviously intelligent if he was CEO at 28 and… hot. Even David could see that. That man was not cute. That man could play James Bond in a few years.

What could he offer Nike? He couldn’t take her to fancy restaurants or just fly them to Paris on a whim or drive her around in a Ferrari or give her diamonds and furs like some billionaire could.
He never thought she wanted any of those things, but if they were within reach…

She missed his premiere and that hurt him the most. He did believe she was interested in his work at least. She did watch the play a couple of weeks later but it never helped David feel better.

He saw her less and less. She was always tired and nervous. Over time, everything in their relationship suffered. The communication, the laughter, the affection, the sex…
When did they last have sex anyway?
His teeth would grit when he thought she probably didn’t want it because she was getting it somewhere else.

He tried to rein it in, he really did. Especially when he caught himself sniffing her for male cologne and… and that was the lowest point of his life… reading her texts.
His heart sunk to his stomach when he saw Victor’s texts comprised over 80% of her inbox. He listened carefully so as not to miss when she turned the water in the shower off as he scrolled, checking the timestamps.

Cancel Thompson tomorrow.

I need that Chesterfield report yesterday. Hope I’m making myself clear.

If Smith calls, tell him I said he can kiss his job goodbye unless he fixes that report.

Move the board meeting for Tuesday at 10.

I want McGee in my office tomorrow at 9 sharp. I don’t care how you get it done.

So it went. Those messages didn’t look suspicious but David couldn’t know if there were others in between that she deleted. His mind was screaming he was being paranoid and downright disgusting, invading his girlfriend’s privacy like that.

Maybe she truly wasn’t cheating on him with Victor.
But maybe she wanted to, it might even be subconscious but… what if she was attracted to him?
What if she realized she didn’t want a sweet guy but someone like him, harsh and strict?
He put her phone back in place, pretending to read a book on the sofa.

Nike only ever did his favorite thing in bed on rare occasions. He knew she wasn’t crazy about it but he always thought it was just because she was new to it, he hoped he could get her more interested in it. She claimed she did like it but still, it happened less often than he would have liked.
However, she never asked him for much either. He half-expected, half-dreaded she would ask him to be mean to her in bed, especially after he started doubting there was something between her and Victor.
It never happened and he didn’t know if he should be relieved or doubly worried that she’s not asking because she is getting it, just not from him.

He knew he was being ridiculous; he knew it logically. But his heart had other ideas.
When she said she’ll miss their anniversary dinner, David saw red and immediately called her to break up. His mind caught up with his impulse only an hour later, as he was at her place, packing his stuff in a big duffel bag.
What the hell was he doing? He loved that woman!
He should fight for her, goddamn it!

He simmered in his misery for over two weeks before finally planning out what he wanted to say. He was ecstatic when Luna told him Nike quit her job the very day they broke up.
She wouldn’t have done that if she was interested in Victor! Would she?

That call… David was never violent but at that moment he wished to bash his rich, entitled head in. Who the fuck did he think he was, ordering her on a date and… she never said she wouldn’t go.
What if she quit so she could date Victor openly without raising any brows?
He was so angry he might have said some things he didn’t mean. Or he meant them but wished to believe he didn’t.

He was miserable the entire weekend and on Monday, while he was getting ready for work, the owner of the theater texted him to let him know they would be having a meeting at 2 p.m. that day.
They had meetings once a month, but their usual August one was scheduled for the 25th, that was still some time away. So what was this impromptu meeting about?

He arrived at work neglecting to shave and wearing the first thing he grabbed. Not like they had a dress code or anything.
As they gathered in what they called their conference room, David noticed the elderly theater owner and his son were accompanied by a man he didn’t know. He was wearing a blue suit and large glasses, his brown hair neatly trimmed, covering half his forehead.
The man introduced himself as Goldman and Mr. Swanson, the elderly theater owner, informed everybody present that he had sold the theater to Goldman’s superior.

“I am here on authority given to me by my boss, acting on his behalf. We are currently sorting out all the necessary paperwork, but I would like to inform you about some upcoming changes around here.”

His stern gaze encompassed everyone present before he went on:
“It is in our best interest to continue to grow as a theater. As such, certain quality assurances will be necessary.”
He pulled out a paper from the folder in front of him:
“After we have completed some renovations, work will resume normally. I see here that we have two premieres soon, one in September, a play directed by Mr. Jacobs and another in November, directed by Ms. Taylor.” His eyes searched the room:
“Mr. Jacobs?”
David grumbled from his seat:
“That would be me.”
He noticed Goldman gave him a disapproving once-over, his lips pursing as he took in his slightly wrinkled flannel shirt, Leonard Cohen T-shirt and the week-old beard.
David was not in the mood for games.
What the fuck was even happening? Mr. Swanson’s family has owned that theater for generations. Of course, once he started preparing his son to take over, the theater took on a different approach, doing more modern and eccentric plays. That’s when David got much more freedom to make the stuff he loved and that got them a much larger audience. Has that also attracted the attention of the person who now bought the theater?  
Goldman continued:

“How is your play coming along? I believe my superior would like to attend the premiere and disappointment is out of the question.”

David scowled at the other man:
“And who might this superior of yours be? A theater lover?”
“His identity is irrelevant; but yes, he is rather fond of theater.”
“Well, I assure you you’ve got nothing to worry about. I am a professional and I deliver.”
Goldman eyed him up and down again, his reply cynical:
“I don’t doubt that. So, I take it everything will be ready as planned?”
“Indeed.” David almost growled. Who did this asshole think he was, doubting the quality of his work when anyone in the city who knew anything about theater knew about plays directed by David Jacobs?

He desperately needed a cup of coffee. And a smoke.


Nike’s bed was covered in clothes she chucked out of her closet. It was now 9 a.m. and she was trying to find something to wear that would look stunning but not like she was trying too hard but also not like she wasn’t… that made no sense.
It was much easier last time when Victor just told her the dress code and she basically only had one thing available. Oh God, what will she do next time he invites her to a fancy place, she’d have to buy another dress!

She eyed the garments she has narrowed down to: a maroon shirt with a short black A skirt with a high waist, a bodycon knee-length grey dress with ¾ sleeves and a white shirt with red high-waisted capris.
She ruled out the first combination: too dark, more appropriate for an evening setting.
With the grey dress, she usually wore a leather jacket and her biker boots… which will probably not do. She was left with the third combination but she never liked wearing white. She did have a cute pair of black high-heel sandals to accompany the capris. What if they could also go well with the grey dress?

She tried it on. Looked good! Just for shits and giggles, she decided to try on the leather jacket with it… it was probably too hot for that, actually.
She decided to just tie a silken scarf with a geometric print around her neck. Her favorite purse will also be able to accompany this outfit and she could pull her hair up and…

Why was she thinking so hard about this?
She should be able to go wearing jeans and a pair of vans if she wanted to!
After all, if this went anywhere and they kept seeing each other, Victor was bound to see her in more casual outfits eventually! She also wanted to see him in some. He did have a great butt… would look amazing in jeans.
She smirked and then eyed the mess on her bed. She had no strength or time to try and make another combination. She better get in the shower soon or she won’t make it in time.

Victor sent his driver to pick her up and Nike was a little nervous. Where were they even going?
He drove past the neighborhoods Nike knew and she noticed they were in a more luxurious part of town. She’d never really been in this area before.
He parked the car in the underground parking of a large, shiny building and led Nike to the elevators:
“Just go to the penthouse, Miss. You cannot miss the place.”
He nodded with a smile and wished her a nice day.

Nike’s palms started sweating. Was this… Victor’s place?
The driver was right, she couldn’t miss the place as the elevator door opened and she saw Victor waiting and her first thought was that he looked even more gorgeous with rolled-up sleeves than she imagined. Her heart thumped. He was wearing all black and charcoal as she was used to but he had no jacket or tie on. Just form-fitting shirt and slacks and… non-dress shoes! It almost looked strange but in a good way.

He nodded with a small smile as she stepped out of the elevator and motioned for her to follow him but made sure she kept up to give her the side-glance again:
“Thank you. You didn’t tell me I’d be coming to your place.”
“You seemed surprised when you heard I cooked.”
“Uhm, yes?”

He led her into the apartment and she did her best not to stare up. How tall WERE those ceilings?! And how many places to sit did one person actually need?
It seemed to be stretching on forever and it reminded her of a maze, the glass wall letting in abundant light that danced over the panels meant to break the vertical space into two, maybe even three additional floors, the stairs to which she still couldn’t see from where she stood. Everything was black, white and charcoal and she was only surprised by how much white there was.
Enormous contemporary paintings decorated the walls, their vibrant hues the only color in the place.

All in all, this was pretty much what she was expecting. Sleek, luxurious, modern, elegant.
Victor led her for what seemed like minutes until they reached the kitchen area, all granite countertops, and shiny metal. She finally smelled food, which she thought was the only indicator this was a place where someone lived and not just a display for an interior decoration magazine.
He motioned for her to sit and wordlessly poured her a cup of coffee as she settled into his surprisingly comfy bar stool near the island the size of Australia.
The mug was tall, simple and black with a silver handle. Such a boring mug, Nike thought.

Victor was making pancakes and her mouth drooped.
David also made her pancakes. Were pancakes like, universal or something?
She opted to follow Victor with her eyes instead of thinking about the sentimental value of pancakes; she did have a marvelous back view after all. The broad shoulders, the narrow waist… that butt.
The muscles around his shoulders flexed slightly under his charcoal shirt as he moved, Nike appreciating him not wearing a jacket. Her gaze ran down his arms, his biceps nicely outlined, down his sinewy forearms and those beautiful hands.
Why was he this perfect?
Her eyes went up again and she found his nape oddly tempting before he turned around and caught her staring, her chin resting on her palm while she was circling the rim of her mug with the index finger of her other hand.

Realizing she’s been caught when it was already too late and Victor quirked an amused brow, placing one of many plates on the island, Nike just flashed him a smile and he placed his elbows on the granite, leaning in to look her in the eyes:
“Yes?” The bastard knew he was sexy.
“Those pancakes smell nice.” She quipped, blushing as the scent of his cologne made her forget about the smell of pancakes.
“So, you are just hungry?”
“Why is there a “just” in there?”
“Why wouldn’t there be?”

She snorted at him, rolling her eyes and taking a sip of coffee, trying to hide her blush behind the mug when Victor’s fingers wrapped around it, gently pulling it out of her grasp and placing it out of her immediate reach, his now even warmer fingers brushing against her face as he tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and her gaze traveled from his eyes, so beautiful in daylight, shifting violet-blue and silver, down to his lips and back to his eyes again.
He had to take that hint!

However, his smirk only broadened:
“Are you trying to make me burn the omelet now?”
She shook her head immediately before her hazy brain forced itself to follow:
“You’re also making an omelet?”
“Thought you could smell it.”
“Not with you this close.”
These odd bursts of boldness will never stop surprising her. Victor shook his head, stealing a sip from her coffee mug before going back to the stove:
“In that case, I better pull away so you can appreciate other aromas.”
Damn him!

He ended up making the pancakes, vegetable omelet and ham and cheese omelet.
She wondered when he would stop pulling out bowls and plates with different types of pancake toppings out of the fridge. Ice tea, milk, orange juice… was he making brunch for two or will Homer Simpson be joining them?

She opted for the vegetable omelet and some orange juice:
“You really didn’t have to go this far, Victor.”
His brow furrowed dismissively:
“This is just typical brunch.”
“I’m sorry for being surprised upon hearing you cooked.” She grinned. “You didn’t have to work yourself half to death to prove a point.”
“I told you it’s nothing.” He scoffed, seemingly offended: “And it wasn’t to prove a point, don’t be an… don’t be ridiculous. I did it because I felt like it.”

Nike giggled and now, in broad daylight, it was clear his cheeks were pink.

“Did you just want to call me an idiot again but stopped yourself?”
“Of course not.” He frowned but she saw right through him:
“You did!” She brushed her fingers softly against the side of his hand: “I appreciate it, though. And I appreciate that you made all this.” She gestured across the huge island he managed to clutter entirely. She didn’t dare think what he would do if he was making dinner and had that monster of a dining table in the back to work with.

His brows were still dipped low but he didn’t move his hand and she kept her fingers where they were, trying to see if he would move it away after a few seconds.
But he just shifted it slightly, his index finger caressing the back of her hand as his knuckles brushed against her palm as he casually took another bite, letting the caressing continue as he ate and Nike just smiled at him over her glass.
Who knew Victor could actually be this adorable?

He didn’t let her help him clean up after the meal:
“I’ll actually do it faster alone.” He tried to sound curt but Nike caught the subtle shift in his posture as he nodded toward the behemoth of a sofa half a Fussball court away, handing her the refilled coffee mug:
“Make yourself comfortable and try not to spill.”
She barely suppressed the wish to stick her tongue out at him as she walked over to the sofa, her position allowing her a great view of the city. It looked so beautiful from this high up and she imagined it was even better at night as she took a moment, standing in front of the window, bathed in golden sunrays, her steaming mug warm in her hands.

She caught Victor in her peripheral vision before he stood next to her, smelling of that amazing cologne and pancakes and chocolate.

“I love the view.”
“It’s why I bought the place. Looks even better at night. I’ll give you the full tour of the place later. The balcony is the best spot.”

She nodded with a small “mmm” sound, turning toward him as she tried to shift her mug to her other hand, feeling the one she was holding it with was getting too warm.
She felt her hold was incorrect even before the mug slipped through her fingers like she was in slow motion. She already started saying her favorite expletive when the mug was suddenly safely secured back into her hand like it never slipped at all, Victor looking down at her with a frown:
“I did have a feeling you’ll drop it.”

Nike blinked. How did he…?
“What just happened?”
“My quick reflexes just happened.”
“How did you catch a hot, full mug like that?”
She didn’t even see him do it, let alone place it back into her hand, his own now on hers.
He nodded toward the floor:
“Well, not perfectly, obviously.”
She saw some of the coffee on the shiny hardwood floor.
“I’m sorry, Victor.”
He sighed, still holding her hand and shaking his head:
“It’s alright, I knew what I was signing up for.”
She wished to smack him on the shoulder:
“Are you calling me clumsy?”
“Can you deny it?” He smirked, nodding at the floor again.
“It could happen to anyone!”
“Yet it very often happens to you.”
Her cheeks were now probably crimson as she shifted her weight in her thin heels, Victor’s now fully violet eyes, nearly iridescent in the sun, locked firmly with hers.
“Well, we can’t all be perfect.” She muttered begrudgingly, words dying down to a breathy whisper as Victor closed the remaining distance between them, only to whisper right against her lips, his sweet breath scorching her in the process:
“No. We can’t.”

His lips were soft, brushing against hers like rose petals and she breathed his scent in as he laid a gentle peck, his hand cupping her cheek and she silently cursed the mug for being there at that moment, preventing her from wrapping her arms around his neck and pulling him close.
As if reading her mind, Victor took the mug and placed it blindly on the window sill separating two panels of glass, both his hands cupping her face as her arms wrapped around his waist; his teeth grazing her lip as he deepened the kiss. He tasted like berries and coffee and mint and… desire and Nike’s heart thrummed in her ears as he teased at the seam of her lips. She parted them readily and his tongue brushed against hers in that deliciously languid way she imagined it would, causing her to tighten her embrace as his thumbs brushed against her skin.

She felt like he was consuming all her senses, his scent entrancing and his touch scorching her to the core, making her toes curl and her stomach tighten before she felt herself melting into him as the kiss swept her under like a wave, her initial disbelief dissipating as she realized they were far more in sync than what she could ever imagine.
He was so gentle yet all-consuming, rendering her brain temporarily useless as she only realized how hungry for air she was when his lips left hers and she suppressed a whimper.
She blinked herself back into normalcy or tried to, his forehead against hers as his fingers traced her jawline again.

Her hands slid up his muscular back to his shoulder blades, wishing to pull him in for an even closer embrace and he smiled, snaking his hands away to take her wrists and place them on his shoulders, having her wrap her arms around his neck before his large hands were on her waist, pulling her snugly against his firm body and leaning in for another kiss.

Chapter Text


Victor had always considered job interviews a necessary evil. His controlling attitude toward work obligated him to personally make sure anybody he hires to work in his immediate proximity is someone he found suitable for the position.
He knew he technically could let Goldman handle it, he trusted his right-hand man, but it still made him uneasy. Goldman was certainly hard-working and capable, but he was also… spineless around him. He showed remarkable initiative around others, but Victor was annoyed by how jittery he was around him. It was what almost made him fire Goldman a short while after he started working for him.

It frustrated him how the man idolized him. Goldman also had a flaw Victor could never overlook, constantly making sure he doesn’t overstep his boundaries; he tended to get… drunk on authority; probably thinking he’s taking cues from Victor himself but what he failed to understand was that Victor was never unnecessarily harsh. There was a difference between people who felt the need to say they were in charge and those who didn’t.
The former usually weren’t real leaders.
It had gotten better over time, but Victor knew Goldman still had a long way to go to properly balance his grip on authority.

So, he presumed he’d just hire someone as jumpy and eager to please and kiss Victor’s ass as he was. He’d fire that person in two days. Then the entire drag that was the hiring process would have to be repeated. Waste of time.
So he just interviewed the candidates himself.

The first one was a spitting image of Goldman in demeanor. Nope.
The second one was a spitting image of Goldman if Goldman was a woman. Double nope.
Several more people with impressive resumes but grating attitudes went through his office before there finally was just one person left. Victor was beyond cranky.
Could he not get a single person he didn’t feel annoyed by at this interview? Were they all just ladder-climbing ass-kissers, so focused on the top without even realizing WHY they want to be there?

He called for the last person to be let in. Might as well just get it over with.
A young woman in a moss-green business suit entered his office and Victor’s eyes immediately shot up to her fiery red hair, gathered in a tall ponytail.

“Good afternoon, Mr. Lee.” She smiled as she took the seat he gestured toward, introducing herself:
“My name is Nike Conrad; it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

Victor nodded curtly, resisting his first impulse to stop time and satisfy his desire to stare at her for a while before proceeding.
He never thought he’d see a woman like this in a place like this.
She looked bright, vibrant. He could see she wasn’t used to her constricting pencil skirt as she fumbled slightly to cross her legs. The color of the suit was too loud, as well.
Yet, so beautiful. It contrasted her red hair and Victor’s brow quirked in satisfaction when he saw freckles on her nose and cheeks.
Not only was she a natural redhead but she wasn’t even wearing makeup, it seemed.
What kind of an idiot walks into a job interview looking like that, like a bright-eyed child completely unaware that professionals shouldn’t look like skincare line ambassadors?

He glanced at her resume. That explained it. Fresh out of college. An almost perfect GPA, participation in several projects such as debates, lecture organizations and various seminars concerning business and law.
It wasn’t that he couldn’t believe it, but he was intrigued. This woman looked, sounded and even smelled… cute. Yet everything about her resume indicated she was very ambitious and serious.

She fumbled some of her answers and Victor was well-aware why.
He upped his usual cold gaze to freezing; to really make it difficult for her, just to see how she’d handle it. She never tried to flatter him. She smiled through most of the interview, even if that smile was only meant to soothe her own nerves.
There was one last question:

“Why do you feel you should get the position?”
“I strive to better myself. I am here because I concluded this is the best place for me to both make myself useful and broaden the scope of my…” She chuckled and it, by all means, SHOULD have caused him to deduct points “usefulness. Potential. Skillset.”

It was not an answer THAT much different than what he’d heard before, in content. But her delivery was raw, passionate, emotional.
Victor wondered if that type of character would work well with ambition or not.
He could read everything that was going on in her mind through those big, bright green eyes framed by blonde eyelashes. Not even any mascara.
Just the faint blush on her cheeks and the natural rosy hue of her lips.

He tugged on his mental leash with utmost ferocity.
This woman was a job candidate, NOT a gorgeous lady he wanted to ask out. Just a job candidate.

He realized he’s considering hiring her, even if the other candidates had better resumes.
He tried to imagine she wasn’t so beautiful and asked himself if he’d still consider it. Was he lying to himself when he said yes?
In any case, he was not about to decide immediately, so he informed her she will be contacted by Goldman if she got the job and she soon left, leaving behind a faint, lingering scent of lilies.

Victor waited for a few minutes and then left the office himself, wanting a coffee break.
Then, on his way out, in the lobby, he noticed two of the interviewees who seemed to have become jolly acquaintances in the short time they must have spent in the waiting room.
They couldn’t see him yet and their conversation caught his attention.

“What do you think, who’s getting the job?” Candidate 2, the LadyGoldman asked Candidate 5, a man with slicked-back black hair and a prominent nose. Both of them have graduated from top universities and grad schools and had between 3 and 5 years of business and investment-related experience.

“I believe both of us have a fairly good chance, also that blonde guy who studied in America. It’s hard to tell who will get it, but I know who will NOT!” The man chuckled and the woman followed suit:
“Ah, yes, the bubbly ginger! What was she even thinking, appearing here like that?”
“She told the Harvard guy she also wanted to go to law school.”

The woman snorted mockingly:
“Yeah right. Well, she should have been smart and only applied here once she actually graduated from law school, assuming she can do that.”
“But you know, I guess I wouldn’t be surprised if she gets hired for her looks alone.”
“No way! Victor Lee dates supermodels, why the hell would he need to hire her for her looks?”
“You might have a point. Yeah, she definitely stands no chance but I guess I commend her on her bravery to appear in front of him wearing that fucking lawn and with an undergrad degree!”
“I think she’s not brave, she’s just stupid.”

Victor mulled it over for a while. Was she brave or stupid indeed? He wanted to find out. If that woman had what it takes, Victor would make sure to turn her into the best lawyer in the entire country. If not, he could always fire her.

He cleared his throat, stepping from behind the pillar in the lobby, the look of horror on the candidates’ faces amusing him as he gave them The Look.
They scurried away like frightened rats.

As he exited the company and walked to the coffee shop a block down and across the street, he noticed the Law School Redhead… Nike was it, leaving it, milkshake to go in hand, talking on the phone. He couldn’t make out what she was saying but there was a huge smile on her face and a dumb starry-eyed expression that could only mean one thing: she was talking with a significant other.
He wondered why he was mildly surprised.
God, that dumb grin.

She noticed him and what she did next made Victor blink in shock.
She raised her milkshake-occupied hand toward him and nodded.
She would have waved if her hand was free! WAVED. AT HER POTENTIAL BOSS.

Such brazen, clueless little thing. As far as Victor was concerned, she was already hired.

He kept his distance initially, wanting to make sure he could remain entirely professional around that scent of lilies and those freckles. She was Ms. Conrad initially.
She was his subordinate. Not only that, but she was apparently taken.
Victor was the kind of man who would rather chew his arm off than make a move on a person who was in a relationship, no matter how attractive he might find the said person.
It also meant he was extremely territo… protective, of his own partners.

But they were there to work, not be attracted to each other.
He was used to women eyeing him appreciatively, but when she did it, he felt almost angry. He was aware she was trying to make it inconspicuous. He was a master of hiding his emotions so he shouldn’t expect her to know how much she was tempting him, so he instead felt angry because she was looking at him while having someone; probably.

However, it soon stopped and Victor realized that it was probably because he made sure she couldn’t stand him. He deliberately made her work harder than anyone who ever worked for him before.
He was even more critical and cold than necessary or usual. She became Nike.
Then, as he realized just how smart, but nervous she was, she became an idiot.

The first time he’d said it, it was a slip of the tongue.
He gave her a very difficult task but one he’d explained before and she made a mistake. Not only that but the mistake was not due to her not knowing how to execute the task. It was due to a trap Victor laid in it. He deliberately inserted an error in the problem. She either didn’t notice it (lack of critical thinking or simple carelessness, neither was appreciated) or didn’t dare challenge him (he hated that especially)
and he got angry. How did she expect to achieve her dream like that? She should expect to always look for inconsistencies and precedents and it shouldn’t be important WHO made a mistake; she must strive to correct it!

Her lip quivered in shock as he insulted her and he could see the flame in her eyes rage with resentment of him. Good. That would help both of them. She’d work harder and he’d have fewer of her intoxicating smiles to deal with. He was already too far gone which he realized one morning when he stopped time for two seconds to catch a big, satisfying inhale of her scent when she changed her perfume.
He was never a weak man and he wasn’t about to start being one now.
So, he doubled down on both of them. She never realized he was being much stricter with himself than he was with her.
He never truly wanted to upset her or make her angry or sad. Quite the opposite; but he couldn’t exactly hug her, now could he? Technically he could but the very thought of stopping time to do that abhorred him. That was sexual assault, what the fuck was wrong with him?! He left earlier that day just to avoid having to look at her.

God, that cocktail party.
Why the hell did she have to look so perfect in amaranth?
Victor’s hawk eyes caught every single glimpse thrown her way. Of course people were looking at her, she was stunning. What was truly the most uncomfortable was the fact he noticed they were looking at the both of them, thinking they are a couple. Victor didn’t dare entertain those thoughts.
He noticed she began having difficulty walking in those heels after a while so he decided on a break, taking her to the bar. Opposite of the bar was a mirror and as he caught a glimpse of the two of them next to each other like that, he practically ran away, barking for her to wait.

He pretended to check his e-mail but stole occasional glances at her, not fully realizing he was waiting to see if a man approached her. Nobody would dare, they saw her with him.
He was surprised when he saw her talking to a woman he vaguely remembered as the lover of one of the executives. He didn’t particularly like either of them, the fact that he was married and not to this woman being part of the reason. He hoped she wasn’t telling Nike anything too stupid while he waited for her to go before he returned.

And then… the breakup happened. By that time, Victor knew full well about David. He couldn’t help himself, he researched him more than was necessary.
What did Nike see in him? It wasn’t meant to be a demeaning thought, he was genuinely curious. Was he everything she wanted in a man? If so, why?
He had an inkling after he actually saw the man when he went to his play. David didn’t see him, having been too busy with some people he assumed were guests. Nike was not there, probably still swamped with all the work he dumped on her. David looked; and Victor hated that he couldn’t come up with any other word: cute. He was constantly smiling as he shook hands and received flowers, his slightly disheveled hair framing his youthful face in that way that Victor never liked on himself, it was too messy.
But with that natural smile and friendly behavior, it looked nice.
He was dressed casually and Victor thought, slightly inappropriately, a turtleneck and dark jeans and… were those Converse shoes?! Was he an idiot?
He began to see why Nike loved this guy. He seemed just as warm and just as sweet as she was. Victor’s mood was foul the entire following week. He couldn’t even hate the guy, he was that charismatic, even from afar. He still hated his shoes, though, but that meant little.

He would be lying if he said he didn’t sometimes allow his own desires to keep Nike for overtime on common date nights. He never knew if the two of them actually had dates planned but he did do it from time to time. As soon as he realized he was doing it however, he tried to stop and was pretty successful until that day.
She asked him to let her leave after regular hours and he could read it from her face; she was asking because of David. His mind screamed at him he should and HAD to let her, yet he didn’t.
Her perfect boyfriend would understand.
Except, he didn’t. He found Nike crying at her desk after break time and immediately knew what happened.
He was furious with himself. This was all his fault.
He never wanted to do this; no matter how beautiful, captivating, interesting and perfect this woman was and how much he wanted her all for himself.

He had no right to ruin her relationship, no real man would do that.
However, no real man would just leave his girlfriend over the phone like that either.
She deserved better than either of them, it seemed.

He wasn’t even surprised that she quit, although he feigned it. It would go well with the arrogant asshole image she already had of him. He should let her go.

Except he couldn’t. He arranged for her to be invited for a job interview with one of his partners. He wrote her that recommendation letter and it took him three days, he scrapped it 8 times.
And then he let himself be stupid and admit to her what he was doing. Well, most of what he was doing. He was too ashamed to say he was happy about her breakup.
He gladly took her anger; it was warranted, even if it took all he had not to hit the brakes and kiss her breathless.
Then she went and told him she wanted to get to know him better.
Did that mean… what he thought it did?

He thought he was already far enough gone but as she relaxed on that dinner date he realized he’s a lovestruck fool. Now not even God himself could make him let go.

The only person who could make him let go was Nike herself.
He saw the bruises when they left the restaurant and mentally kicked himself over failing to notice them sooner. Was he too busy staring at her face to notice?
Probably. He was also trying not to look down, where those collarbones and that crimson were waiting for him, to torment him. He felt like a bull going crazy over a matador’s cape.
Why did she have to wear red, of all colors? Victor had imagined her in red countless times before; torturing himself, probably being the only man in the world who actively tried to put clothes ON a woman in his fantasy. He wasn’t allowed to imagine her without clothes. Lingerie was not clothing; as he reminded himself many, many times. Proper clothes! A fully buttoned-up coat ideally! With pants! Nothing red! No smiling that knee-wobbling smile!

He failed so miserably he wondered who he even was, his chest heaving as he scrubbed at his skin in the shower after one of his many failures as if doing so could wipe his dirty thoughts away.
He was ashamed to admit it but he’s been failing even more often after that cocktail party.
Then, after she quit, even more often. He knew he should still be ashamed, she was not his, she might as well love the other bastard just the same as she always did or Victor thought she did, but it was hard to feel ashamed anymore. He could have her now… he could try.

But what if she did love that guy? What if Victor was just someone meant to entertain her sadness away? He wouldn’t have that. The only way Victor would allow himself to be fully swept under this crazy wave was if he knew she would be his and only his. What was the point in him loving her if she didn’t love him back?

He even bought the fucking theater. He knew it was probably an overreaction but he was so pissed off over those bruises. He thought the guy was harmless. Terror washed over Victor. What if this wasn’t the first time he did something like this or maybe even something worse to Nike? If that was the case, Victor was fully ready to ruin his life; and he would have done it even if Nike never wanted anything to do with him. Abusive worms who called themselves men didn’t deserve better anyway.
But for now, he bought the theater as more of a warning. David better not do anything stupid.

His heart was beating so loudly it rang in his ears as he kissed her that Sunday.
He used his evol before he could even think about it and was it just an excuse to finally kiss her? He could pretend he was distracting her from being suspicious but in reality… he was dying to kiss her.
As she melted into him just like he so often wished she would and he felt her gripping at his shirt on his back, he remembered an old pop song he used to like as a teenager. What were the actual lyrics?
Something about the magic of her fingertips making his heart do double flips?
He did feel like his heart was doing double flips at that moment; as he reined in his desire with the last shred of self-control he had left.
He couldn’t blow it now and make her think he was some horny idiot! (He was, but that was not ALL he was.)

He probably wasn’t supposed to even be kissing her yet but once, just once, Victor wanted to not be so perfectly composed.
But hells, if she kept melting into him like a warm, pliant cat like that, he’d go crazy!

He pulled back finally, forcing himself to calculate the risk margins for investing in three of the current strongest companies on the tech market. It was effective in cooling his head off.

“How about that tour?” She grinned that dumb, adorable grin of hers and Victor couldn’t help but smile back, however briefly before he remembered he probably looked stupid doing it. He never thought his smiles looked very attractive.
“Sure. Can you promise not to trip anywhere or knock anything over?”

Better to tease her than keep kissing her and risk doing something stupid.
“I can’t, I’m not psychic. So, you better keep me under your watchful eye at all times.”
She stuck her tongue out at him and he blinked. How could this woman say something so flirtatious while acting like a brat? Victor never thought he was a fan of bratty women before.
He pulled back, taking her hand and entwining their fingers:
“Alright, you brat. You’re coming with me.”
He wished he’d turned the AC on as she giggled and he felt his ears grow hot.

Chapter Text

“You did what?!”
Luna almost choked on her coffee as her body shot forward and she nearly slammed the mug on the table to look at her friend, who was currently positioned; as that couldn’t be called sitting, on the couch like a monkey, sideways, her head nearly hanging off and her feet on the wall, tucked under the frame of her large Rorschach-Loveland painting, her arms splayed to the sides:

“I started dating my former boss.” She repeated.
“Wait, wait, wait, hang on.” Luna took a deep breath, tightening her long, blonde ponytail, a surefire way for anybody to know she was about to crack a whip on someone.
“Please tell me it’s just a rebound thing or a “we were on a break!” thing!”
“Nope. Neither of those.”
Nike didn’t even care that her now loose hair was dragging across the floor as she spoke.
Luna blinked a few times, staring at the upside-down face of her friend intently:

“What do you mean, neither of those, are you messing with me right now? And sit normally, your face is all red already.”
Nike grumbled but did as asked, shifting on the sofa until she was once again sitting like a human being, her feet tucked under her legs in a yoga-like position.
“I mean it’s not a rebound and David and I are not on a break because I don’t intend to take him back. Ever.” She exclaimed coldly.
Luna’s brows furrowed:
“So now you think the best course of action is to date the man who previously made your life a living hell? Really date him and not just fuck the crap out of his sexy ass and dump him?”
“Oh, I do hope there will be some fucking, but no, that’s not all I want from him.”
“What else could you possibly want from him? I know you’re not interested in his money. So, unless it’s the D, I really don’t see what else that man could offer you?!”

Nike laughed:
“So, you know I’m not a gold digger but you also assume I’m a slut?”
“Hey, don’t shame us sluts!” Luna briefly chuckled back before she clicked her tongue:
“I’m serious, Nike. You’ve been miserable because of that man for the past year. What good could come out of dating him?”

Nike twirled a strand of hair around her finger sheepishly:
“Let’s just say it’s been a misunderstanding.”
“What do you mean?”

So Nike told her best friend everything new she learned about Victor recently, hoping that would get her to see a different side to him but Luna was not easily convinced:
“I don’t trust him. That’s a very fishy story; mistreating you like that for a year as some weird-ass long con to actually help you! Nike, he’s lying through his teeth. Maybe you want more than just sex from him, but he doesn’t seem to want more than that from you. He probably just realized now that you quit, he can actually do it without repercussions.”

Nike frowned:
“What do you mean, repercussions?”
“Do you know how easy it is to accuse your boss of sexual assault even if it’s not true?”
“Who the fuck would do that?”
“Maybe he thinks you would.”
“Luna, you’re being ridiculous. Why would he go through all the trouble just to get me into bed? Have you seen him? I don’t think he’d have any trouble getting laid. Besides, you’re hurting my feelings right now. Is it so hard to believe he actually likes me for me?”

Luna’s face scrunched up apologetically as she saw her friend’s face fall:
“I didn’t mean it like that, NyNy.” She called her by her childhood nickname.
“I just fear HE’s too much of an asshole to think that way. Didn’t you say he calls you an idiot? Why do you even like a guy like that; especially after David…”

Nike stiffened, uncrossing her legs and riding her sleeves up to show Luna her bruises:
“Ah, yeah, David is such a nice guy!”
Luna stared, her mouth gaping and Nike continued:
“And just so you know, I’m upset with you for telling him I quit my job. I don’t want you to tell him anything about me anymore. He dumped me like a fucking trash bag and then he thought he could just waltz in and I’d fly right into his arms?! And then he did this! He can choke on a dick for all I care.”

Luna remained silent for a while:
“Nike, I’m sorry, I had no idea he would do that… I never thought he’s the type… I don’t know what to say. I’m sorry. I won’t tell him anything else, I promise. But…”
“But what?”
“Please listen to me. Okay, David acted horribly and I wanna punch him now, but… that still isn’t the reason to just start a new relationship straight away, no matter who the other guy is. Think about it.
You probably need some time to heal, to…”

“To heal from what, Luna? I’ve been thinking this past couple of weeks. Do you know how many of David’s plays I’ve attended? All of them. Every single one he’s made since I’ve met him. All premieres. And the ONE time I wasn’t able to, he pouted for DAYS, even though I did go to see it as soon as I could. I don’t remember him ever actually asking me about my dream. What I DO remember is him constantly talking about his! HIS dream was IMPORTANT! He didn’t care about mine! I started working at LFG to earn money to invest in that dream and he couldn’t respect that even as little as waiting for a few hours so as not to dump me while I’m at work!”

Luna remained quiet and Nike continued:
“I know it sounds really weird and unbelievable but I’m closer to achieving that dream because of Victor; the man who made my life hell; instead of because of my lovely nice sweet boyfriend! He was so lovely and nice he didn’t even know I wanted to be a CORPORATE lawyer, did you know that? His mother once asked me how would I react if I found out my client was actually guilty of the murder he was accused of.
When I asked her why she was asking me that, she was confused as to why her son hasn’t specified that I was interested in corporate law. Well, I think he didn’t even know.”

She took a sip of coffee to calm down and involuntarily scrunched her nose. She really did make bad coffee; it was painfully obvious after having Victor’s. Why didn’t Luna ever tell her that her coffee sucked?

“So yeah, do you really think I need to spend time crying over someone who probably never even loved me in the first place? At least not enough to give me as much respect as he demanded I gave him.”

Luna seemed to have finally returned to her senses, playing with her mug:
“Okay… I have to admit you do have a point; but can you try to understand me, too? I’m just worried, you know? Yes, I was fond of David and I really thought the two of you were perfect together; by the way, why haven’t you ever told me any of this before? But still… I’d be careful around Victor if I were you. He’s anything but naïve.”

“That still doesn’t mean he’s a bad person.”
“That in itself doesn’t, no. I’m just so shocked; having been listening to all the horror stories for a year and now all of a sudden there’s a 180! I apologize but I will need some time to process that. I do understand that probably I don’t have the entire picture since I wasn’t there and I haven’t even met the man; so bear with me while I adapt, alright?” She chuckled and Nike finally smiled:

“I’m sorry, Luna. I was rude to you, I know you’re just worried. Sorry.”
“It’s alright, I’m sorry for sounding like a nagging mother.”
They both laughed at that and Luna finally leaned back into the armchair:

“Sooo… wanna tell me about those dates?”

Victor called on Monday evening. It was almost 10 p.m. and Nike assumed he finally went home.

“I can still see Bloomberg Financial standing, so I presume your first day went well?”
“Indeed! My boss isn’t a jerk, can you imagine?” She laughed and could almost hear Victor frowning even through the phone.
“You think you’re really funny, don’t you?” His voice betrayed no genuine annoyance.
“As a matter of fact, I do.”
“Keep running that little mouth like that and see what happens.” His voice lowered a fraction and it sent a tingle down her spine. She loved his voice.
“Don’t tell me you’d punish me?” She tried awkwardly. Victor let her wait a few seconds for his reply and her scalp tingled. Did she take it too far; she still had difficulty gauging how much teasing that sourpuss tolerated.
“Fine. I won’t tell you.”

Nike suppressed the nervous giggle that threatened to emerge as her mind ran wild. What was that supposed to mean? While their relationship was strictly professional, she did get her fair share of punishments from Victor but they were always… professional; like making her practice doing something harder or making her stay overtime.

But those things weren’t really possible now, so what could he mean?
There were times, over the past year, when Victor would get on her last nerve berating and lecturing her and she’d just wish he’d shut up. Intent on not losing control and clapping back at him, she would resort to her one method of relieving stress: her imagination.
Victor was so pissy, running that mouth of his and punishing her; he was making her angry.
All of a sudden, a mental image of Victor with his mouth taped shut sprung into her mind. She nearly giggled. That would probably just drive him insane but at least she wouldn’t have to listen to his harsh words. It was so funny.

Then one day, her imagination took her someplace else; she would wonder later how it got there.
She stayed up late the previous night to finish a report for him and then, after finally having printed it, she was so tired, her eyes stinging from staring at the screen for hours on end that she could barely make out the text on the papers. So, she just threw them in the folder haphazardly, promising herself to arrange them in proper order in the morning, before work.
She overslept and forgot, barely even making it to work on time.

So basically, Victor received a folder with a confusing mess of stuff. It was all there, but nothing was in proper order and it was a quarterly report, a pretty long one.
His voice was icy when he called her into his office and she sighed, instantly remembering why. Here we go, 20 minutes of snarling and nagging, at LEAST.

Victor sat in his directorial chair, the open folder in one hand:
“Would you mind telling me what this is?” He affixed her with The Look.
“It’s the report you requested, sir.” She knew it was a trick question but she was obligated to answer anyway. She was in no mood to apologize, given how exhausted she was. Besides, Victor equated apologies to excuses. He was very stubborn about doing your work perfectly so you never have to apologize in the first place.
“Is it? Because what I see is a horrible mess.” He smacked the papers with the back of his hand and Nike’s half-asleep body twitched in surprise at the sound.
“I don’t remember asking for a report I would have to decipher, Nike. I asked for the quarterly report, January to April. January. SMACK To. SMACK. April. SMACK.
Nike’s not-caffeinated-enough brain could only focus on that sharp sound that felt so out of place and so interesting at the same time. He must have been super pissed to abuse poor papers like that.
“This.” Victor continued, flicking the paper again and Nike subconsciously focused on his hand. Such a nice movement, from the wrist. Did he play tennis?
“Is the first paper I see and it relates to March. Then as I move on…” He flipped the paper smoothly, yet sharply and for some reason, it looked like yanking fabric… hiking up a skirt. “The next paper is January.” SMACK.

Nike’s face turned beet red in shame when she realized that, while being berated for her professional failure by her upset boss, she was associating it with… spanking?
She wasn’t sure if it was lack of sleep or if she was just an idiot but the way he yanked at those papers and kept hitting them, his voice cold and leveled all throughout; something tingled in her belly.
Before she could stop it, a mental image of Victor bending her over that behemoth of a glass table, hiking up her skirt and spanking her came to mind. The folder would probably be right in front of her and he would be pulling papers out with his other hand, making her look at them as he needlessly and so humiliatingly explained what was on them as if she couldn’t read.

Yet, somehow… that image felt better than what was actually happening.
She shook her head as if to bring herself back to her senses. What the fuck was she thinking, what was wrong with her?! Not only was Victor her boss; such a professional one at that; but why was she even thinking about spanking in the first place?
And if she was… why was it so exciting and… arousing?
And EVEN SO… why wasn’t she thinking about David in an arousing scenario?

Because David would never do anything like that. Not like she asked, hells, it only now even occurred to her as a possibility; but David was so… sweet that she couldn’t even picture him doing that. She tried, as if that would make her feel less ashamed but it was difficult. At least it made her lower body stop tingling.
Victor’s scolding continued and then, as he lifted his gaze to look at her again, having just smacked another paper and Nike having flinched again, he stopped; hand still in the air.
His eyes widened a fraction as they locked with hers and just as she thought that he noticed she wasn’t truly listening and would now get even angrier, his face turned back to stone in the blink of an eye.
How could he always school himself back into the statue so quickly?!

He closed the folder sharply and stuck it out toward her:
“Arrange these properly and bring them back when you’re done. Hurry up and quit being so jumpy, you look like an idiot.”
“Yes, sir.” She snarled through teeth gritted in what was the fakest smile ever; all thoughts of the sexy spanking forgotten. She should spank him on the head with a paperweight instead!

But now… with Victor on the phone, his voice low and almost playful like that, she remembered that fantasy vividly. Now she was allowed to have these thoughts.
She had half a mind to tell him about it next time she sees him, too, just to see his reaction. She imagined him blushing and calling her ridiculous again.
But what if he didn’t? What if he embraced the idea wholeheartedly and decided to start implementing it? He even had countless reasons; she DID tease him a lot.
She swallowed a lump and heard him sigh on the other side:
“Seems I finally managed to get you to shut up. It was almost too easy.”
She giggled awkwardly:
“You do realize that if you asked nicely, you’d get anything you wanted even easier?”
A short pause on his side:
“Anything I wanted, huh?” She swore he sprouted horns and a pointy red tail. “I’ll remember that.”
“Why do I have a bad feeling about that?” her voice was higher-pitched than usual as her brain was flooded with inappropriate imagery.
“You tell me.” He nearly purred and she hid her face in her free hand, even if Victor couldn’t see her.
“Really, why do you have a bad feeling about me getting whatever I wanted? I thought you wanted to see me pleased.”

A delicious shiver shot all the way down to her core at his words. She didn’t truly even understand why but he was saying it so… wait. Was he just joking?! It was doubly hard to tell when she couldn’t see his face. Then she remembered what he wrote in that trick of a recommendation letter.
Start calling people’s bluffs.
Time to die by your own sword, Victor!

“I do. So, do you even know what you want or are you just getting my hopes up in vain with your jokes?”

Victor chuckled approvingly:
“Oh, you think I’m joking. Cute. I will call you later this week to NICELY ask for what I want. Get ready by then. I’m hanging up now. Goodnight.”

What the fuck just happened?! Who got played here?

Chapter Text

David walked into one of his favorite pubs that Thursday evening, his expression glum. He was in a foul mood ever since the breakup and especially this past week since he’d learned Nike would be going to dinner with that dickhead.
He hasn’t really slept all that well since. His mind would always wander to the two of them and he hated those thoughts with a zealous passion. He didn’t want to imagine his girlfriend… well, ex-girlfriend; sleeping with another man but there was no stopping it; he even had nightmares about it when he did manage to sleep.

He welcomed the invitation to go out for drinks with his best friend that evening. Greg was usually the first one to call him out on his bullshit but even he sounded sympathetic over the phone when David told him about the breakup.

His eyes searched the pub and he saw Greg waiting at the table in the corner, typing on his phone.
He met Greg at university, they were often studying at the library at the same time, even though Greg’s major was acting and David’s was directing and theatrical production. One day, Greg asked to borrow one of his textbooks for a few hours since he forgot his own, David gave it to him and Greg offered to buy him a beer later to thank him. That’s how they started hanging out.
Greg was now moderately famous, having appeared in a few commercials and three soap operas. He was actually starring in the current one and was hoping for some movie roles in the near future.

He lifted his gaze from the phone to greet David and after they both received their beers, Greg finally started:
“So, man, how do you feel?”
David sighed, pulling out a packet of cigarettes from his breast pocket. He started smoking again on Monday.
“Like crap.”
Greg paused for a second, choosing not to voice his disapproval of his friends renewed addiction.
“Have you tried talking to her? Both of your heads have cooled off by now and…”
“That ship has sailed.” Came David’s cold reply.
“Why do you say that?”
“Oh, I went there to apologize and try to talk to her; only to find out she had replaced me already.”
Greg’s eyes widened:
“Replaced? Wait, how do you know?”
“Oh yeah, replaced. Not only that, but she replaced me with the bastard I thought she was fucking all along anyway. He called while I was there.” He spat, downing a huge sip of beer.

Greg seemed confused:
“Wait, you thought she was cheating on you?”
That’s right, David never confided in anyone about his doubts. But now he didn’t even care anymore, he was right all along, wasn’t he?
“Yeah. Turns out I was right.”
“Hang on, man, your Nike? The two of you were so in love it was diabetes-inducing! Besides, didn’t you say she worked at LFG; some insane hours or something? I remember she could never accompany you whenever I asked the two of you out! How did she…”
“It seems those insane hours were mostly her fucking her boss.”
David waved for the waitress to get another beer and Greg’s mouth gaped:
“Wait, are you sure? I seem to remember her mentioning her boss was that Lee guy.”
“Yes. Are you surprised she’s fucking that?”

Greg’s face turned serious as he nodded:
“As a matter of fact, I am.” David’s gaze shot up curiously and Greg continued:
“My own opinion of Nike as a girl who wouldn’t do that aside;” David snorted “I’ve met the man. He’s one of our main investors for Youthful And Reckless. He’s about as charming as a cockroach. And much scarier than one.” He briefly flashed his pearly white teeth, hoping to get David to chuckle. David snorted:

“But he’s rich and apparently handsome.”
“Bro, no homo, but you look better than him.” Greg grinned “And come on, do you seriously think your Nike cares about money like that?”
“She’s not MY Nike anymore.” David snarled and Greg let out an exaggerated, soap opera sigh:
“Listen. I know what I always saw from Nike. I remember several instances where she nearly choked on her drink laughing at your jokes. She looked at you like you were a god, dude, she loves you! Yeah, sure, I don’t know what’s going through that guy’s head; maybe he does want to date her; but are you seriously going to let him? Just give up like that, turn your back on a two-year-long relationship?”
“It doesn’t matter anymore. She told me she doesn’t want to make up.”
“Maybe you should give her a little more time and then…”
David smacked his hand against the table:
“Give her time to fuck other guys, right? And then hopefully she’ll take pity on me and take me back once she’s had her fun riding yachts and Bugattis and dicks?! Yeah, that sounds like a plan!”

“Okay, you need to calm down,” Greg warned, looking around the pub where a few people were already looking at them, startled by David’s outburst.
“Do you have any proof that she cheated on you or that she wants to date anyone else?”
“She didn’t say she would refuse his invitation,” David admitted begrudgingly.

Greg chuckled despite himself, but reined it in quickly:
“Sorry about that. But that’s it?”
“What do you fucking mean, that’s it?”
“Bro, OF COURSE she will not tell you that now! She’s probably still angry so maybe she wants you to THINK she will date someone! And if you ask me, after how you handled it, you kinda deserve it.”
David was about to tell him to go fuck himself, but Greg continued:
“However! I’m sure she loves you and just needs time. No, not time to fuck other guys, will you calm down?! Just some time to forgive you. I mean, really David, over the phone? Imagine she did that to you. Wouldn’t you be angry and spiteful too?”

“It’s great to know nobody is on my side in this,” David mumbled in frustration, lighting another cigarette and Greg waved the smoke off with a frown:
“I AM on your side, that’s why I’m telling you this. Wait a little bit and then send her a letter. Don’t go talking to her again, that just might lead to another argument. Just send her a nice, heartfelt letter or you know what… do something romantic; like, send flowers or something! I’m afraid you’ll have to swallow your pride this time around but if you really love her, you should do it.”

David was silent for a while, finishing his cigarette slowly. When he finally spoke, he looked like a blown-out balloon:
“Do you really think she wasn’t cheating on me?”
“I really do.” Greg nodded, “Come on, Nike is not the type. Besides, you know better than me that she loves you. To top it all off… well, I already told you about the guy. His money and appearance might only work on superficial girls, which we both know Nike is not. So, having that in mind, he stands no chance with her, no matter how single she might be at the moment.”

David was finally starting to feel a little better.
“You’re not just saying all that to make me stop being a downer?”
“I’m offended.” Greg grinned “I really mean it, Dave, and you know it. So for now, just relax a little, okay? Wanna play some pool?”


Nike got home at about 6 p.m. not being able to remember when was the last time something like that happened.
So far, she was very happy with her new job.
Mr. Bloomberg assigned her as an assistant to the company’s Vice President, Mrs. Whitman.
Mrs. Whitman was a pleasant-looking middle-aged lady, her demeanor friendly and her overall appearance proper, but not stiff.
On Nike’s first day, she greeted her personally and gave her a tour of her new workplace, patiently explaining and asking if she had any additional questions.
They spent these past few days in a respectful professional atmosphere. Nike was used to most of the tasks she had to do here, as she had already done them plenty of times before and Mrs. Whitman was the kind of person to actually say “please” and “thank you”.
She also didn’t drink coffee at all and Nike was oddly happy about that.

Her workload was now also considerably less intense, there was no Insane Victor around and she had also gotten more time-efficient, which was especially visible now when she wasn’t stressed by her boss. She still didn’t allow herself to be careless, doing her work just as diligently as always, but it sure was nice to not feel like your boss is a bloodhound.

So, that Thursday, she came home and was just checking her personal e-mail in her comfy sweats when the doorbell rang. She wasn’t expecting anybody and for a moment, her heart nearly stopped, fearing it might be David.
One look through the peephole alleviated those fears. But she had no idea who the man at her door was. She opened it tentatively, only for the dark-haired man to nod and give her a small, polite smile:
“Ms. Nike Conrad?”
“Mr. Lee sent me with a delivery.” He pulled out a small white envelope from his pocket and Nike accepted it, still confused. The man noticed and quickly explained:
“I believe you will find all the necessary information inside. Have a nice evening, miss.”

With that, he left and Nike closed the door, scratching her head in confusion.
Sending her messengers all of a sudden? Wait. Victor did say something about calling her sometime this week and her needing to get ready. Could this be related to that?
She sat on her sofa and opened the envelope. A piece of paper and a black card fell out. A black credit card. Nike stared at it, dumbfounded. What the fuck?
She quickly opened the folded piece of paper, looking for an explanation. Victor actually handwrote it, she recognized his pointy letters, angled to the right.

Will you please do me the honor of taking a small trip with me this weekend? I’m planning on taking you to some of my favorite restaurants, so feel free to use the card to buy anything you might want to wear.

Nike’s eyelid twitched. Was she Pretty Woman in this scenario?! The bastard even asked NICELY on the card, just like she teased him previously. And now he sent her that fucking card to go shopping for fancy dresses to be shown at expensive restaurants, like a trophy!
She knew dating Victor was a mistake.

As if on cue, her phone rang. Great.

“I take it you received the envelope.” Victor started smoothly and Nike pinched the bridge of her nose so as not to snap at him.
“I did. I will have to decline. I’ll send the envelope back.”
Victor’s voice tightened just like she imagined his jaw did:
“You’re angry. Why?”
“Because I’m not Julia Roberts and you’re not Richard Gere.”
“Pretend I’m an idiot and explain that.”
She wanted to say she didn’t need to pretend but held her tongue:
“You can’t just… just buy me like that!”
“Buy you? I sent you a present.”
“I cannot accept such presents.”
“Why not?”
“Because I never started dating you so I would spend your money.”
“I never thought you did.” Victor now sounded irritated: “I did that because I wanted to. It’s like any other present.”

Nike’s anger sometimes manifested as a desire to cry and now was one of those times. She took a deep breath:
“I don’t feel comfortable being a Barbie doll at expensive restaurants; with someone else paying for it. Feels like I’m a sugar baby.”

Victor sighed in that familiar “you idiot” way and Nike wished to slap him. Why the fuck was HE irritated when he was the one who offended her?! Did he think she’d simply accept that? Now that they were dating, she suddenly wasn’t an independent, hardworking person, but a pretty doll for him to play with?

“I’ll be at your place in an hour.” He said curtly and hung up, not giving her a chance to respond.
The three calls she tried to make all went directly to voice mail.
Why the fuck did she ever even hope that man could be anything but infuriating?!

She still stomped over to her bedroom to change into something other than sweats.

It was almost uncanny how punctual Victor was. She couldn’t remember him ever being late for anything. She opened the door with a frown on her face, immediately pushing the envelope in his hand before letting him enter the apartment.
She marched over to the armchair and sat, Victor still standing in the middle of the living room. He looked at her, her arms crossed and her gaze stubbornly affixed to something at her side so she wouldn’t look at him and he chuckled:

“You pout like a child.”
“Yeah, would you like me to call you Daddy?” She retorted and Victor’s face tensed:
“Stop that.” His voice held a strong warning before he sat on the sofa opposite her.
“Believe it or not, I don’t date women who want my money.”
“Then why did you basically send me money?”
“I thought I wrote why in that note.”

Nike shot him a glare and leaned in, her elbows on her thighs:
“Victor, I am really, really not in the mood for a battle of wits with you. You know what I am asking. You also know why it’s bothering me. Hells, I could have already started law school if I let my Dad pay for it! I didn’t want to! I wanted to do it myself! I also earn money for my clothes myself.”
“You just answered your question.” Victor’s lips were tight as he nodded:
“You’re saving money to do what is most important to you. I’m not going to let you spend it on me. And I also did want to give you a present.”
“If I asked why, would you say why not?” Nike’s eyes narrowed and Victor smirked:
“Why would I need a special reason?”

Nike didn’t reply. She tried to process what Victor had said with the assumption of it being true. She could see he wasn’t coming from a bad place but it still felt weird to her. She wasn’t used to anything like that. Fancy restaurants, apartments the size of a stadium, cars that cost more than three of her own apartments… Why didn’t she think about this sooner? This will never work.
Victor was from a world entirely different than the one she lived in; that wasn’t something they could just ignore because they liked each other.
“It’s still too much.” She insisted stubbornly.
“So, if I gave you flowers or a book, you would have accepted it.”
“It’s not…” She felt her cheeks heat up as she gestured around the apartment:
“Look at this place, Victor. This is smaller than one of your… how many, 4 bathrooms? But it’s my place and I like it. I go to bowling alleys and local pubs and restaurants with no Michelin stars. I’m okay with that. I don’t need you to take me to extravagant places and I don’t need to be wearing formal dresses.”
She paused, hoping he understood what she tried to say. Victor’s lips quirked as he loosened his silvery-grey tie:
“I’m aware of all that. But I really liked seeing you in a formal dress.”

She blinked. That was what this was about?
“So this present was actually for you? You just want to see me in more dresses?”
“You’re being ridiculous again.” Victor uncrossed his legs sharply, his sole smacking against the floor as his face tensed back into the stone mask she was used to. She must have struck a nerve.
“Am I? Why? You just said it.”
“That was not why I did it. I explained why.”
Nike couldn’t suppress a grin:
“Who’s pouting like a child now?”

She stood up in a sudden rush of boldness and leaned in, her palms on his knees:
“Talk to me, Victor.”
Victor looked her in the eyes stubbornly:
“I don’t know what kind of dates you’re used to but I don’t bowl and I dislike pubs.”
Nike chuckled, gently running her nails along his knees and lower thighs:
“You could’ve just asked me. And those were random examples.”
“I shouldn’t have to ask you.”
“And why not? Don’t I get a say?” She nearly yelped defensively and Victor frowned:
“I should know.”
“You should know?” Now she was confused and Victor clicked his tongue:
“I just said that. I should know how to take you out on a good date.”
Nike’s features softened. This dumbass. She should have guessed he was just too stubborn. Perfect Victor simply couldn’t accept the idea that he didn’t know everything.
“You do realize that people’s definitions of good dates differ? There’s not only one possible type of a good date.”

Victor didn’t immediately reply and she took that as her cue to continue:
“I really don’t care about the fancy stuff. I’m totally fine with this as a date, actually.”
His lips quirked as the corners of his eyes lost some of their sharp edges and Nike decided to emphasize her point. She climbed into his lap, straddling him. Victor’s eyes widened but his arms wrapped around her nonetheless.
“There. This is a good date.”
She nuzzled his neck and heard a small sigh escaping him as his warm, large palms softly caressed her back. He smelled like his usual cologne, with a bit of that paper smell typical of the office. He came to see her straight from work.
Nike got to thinking. It was less than a week but she had a feeling Victor was actually pretty sweet on the inside but his brash outer layers were messing him up. She decided to test her hypothesis:
“You really like your fancy scene, don’t you? Do you want to go there this weekend?”
“You obviously don’t.” He was still stubborn.
“How about a compromise? Nobody says we have to stick to only what one of us is used to. I’m still not comfortable with you giving me a present like that and I won’t accept it; but… if it means a lot to you, I’ll go to places you like, okay? Will you also go to some places I like?”

Victor’s fingers gently combing through her hair, his chest rising and falling with every breath, her body snug against him, she noticed his heartbeat was slightly quickened. His serious face suggested he was merely annoyed but his gentle touch made Nike think he was actually… nervous.

He finally nodded, laying a soft kiss on her crown:
“When have you become such a negotiator?” he grumbled but she could hear some amusement… no, approval behind it.
“Does that mean you agree?”
“Yes, you sneak, I agree.” He sighed in good-natured resignation “I’ll do what you want on Sunday. Saturday’s mine.”
Nike nodded into his neck, her lips brushing against the pulse under the warm, soft skin:
She started laying tiny pecks along his neck, her lips sneaking up to his ear, teasing at his earflap as his embrace tightened and she heard a barely audible sigh escaping him. Oh! Mr. Composed has a sensitive spot! She ran her tongue along the shell of his ear and Victor’s low voice was almost a purr as his entire body tensed slightly:
“I’d advise against that.”
“Why’s that?” She asked innocently before nibbling on his ear and reveled in the tiny shudder that elicited:
“Is it displeasing for you?” She teased further, pulling back slightly to look at him. His eyes were half-lidded and those big pupils made her feel like the temperature in the room has increased.
Victor snorted quietly, shaking his head as if to shake her question off. He stopped her when she tried to go for his ear again:
“You never listen.” He scolded her in a voice barely louder than a whisper, its depth caressing her entire body and she felt her nape tingling. Why was his voice so sexy? And why did it make her not want to push and tease him further?
She made a move to get up and Victor’s arms reluctantly unwrapped and all that lovely warmth was gone. Nike tried to give him her most innocent smile:
“You hungry? I may not be a world-renowned chef but I know a thing or two.”
“You’ll cook?” His brow quirked and he immediately got up, Nike’s face falling. Well, after he’s had her coffee, she couldn’t really blame him for wanting to run away. However, he merely took off his suit jacket and headed for the bathroom:
“I better help you, then. I actually want to enjoy the food.”

She laughed over the sound of the tap as he washed his hands:
“You’re welcome, no it’s not a bother for me, but you can help!”
That stubborn jerk. That sweet, contrarian, stubborn jerk.

Chapter Text

“I need to borrow a dress,” Nike said with determination and Luna lifted her gaze from the ice cream box she was scooping the treat out of and into two small glass bowls:
“What kind of a dress?” She asked immediately and Nike couldn’t help but grin. Throughout all these years that she knew Luna, it was her problem-solving attitude that Nike respected the most about her.
Luna never panicked and never let her emotions get the best of her.
“A fancy one.”
“Going-on-a-date-with-a-billionaire fancy one?”
“Yeah. It’s tomorrow and I refused to let him pay for it so I was thinking…”
“Did you say you refused to let him pay for it?”
“Yeah. He offered me his card to buy whatever I wanted.”

Luna paused, her brows furrowing:
“This is one of those things that would sound so romantic in a novel, but is just weird in real life.”
“I know, right? But I guess to him, it’s like giving me a flower, no big deal.”
“What did he say when you refused?”
“Not much, really. We agreed to compromise when it comes to dates. I’ve considered taking him to an escape room on Sunday but I have a feeling he’d have my hide.”
Luna laughed, sticking two little spoons in the bowls and handing one to Nike before closing the box and putting it back in the freezer.
“From fancy restaurants to escape rooms. Do it. Make him sweat.”
Nike wiggled her brows suggestively and took a spoonful of ice cream as Luna sat on the sofa next to her.
“Do you really like this guy?”
“I do. So far. It’s strange. He can annoy me one second and endear me the next.”
“Please just don’t fall into the “I can change him!” trap.”
“Change Victor?” Nike laughed “Are you kidding? That man has watches and tie clips for specific days of the week or only certain suits! I think he’s pretty unchangeable.”
“Well, you’ve certainly watched him carefully enough.” Luna quipped before her face turned serious:
“You know, Nike, I am aware you don’t want to hear this and I’m sorry but I can’t help but feel bad for David. Yeah, I know he acted like a douche, but I actually kinda thought you guys would get married. Call me crazy if you wish.”

Nike paused, her spoon in the air:
“Yeah, I can’t really call you crazy. At one point, I kinda KINDA had the same idea. But you know, after a while… I started feeling like it was just… nice. He made me laugh and everything was chill but… am I a bad person for thinking that’s not enough for marriage? We talked so much but now that I think about it, I can’t remember us talking about anything super serious. We never even talked about whether we want to get married or have children someday. It only sunk in after I wasn’t able to see him as much as I wanted to, but I realized that we were just… together because it was nice.”

“I’m not sure I understand what the problem with that is. Isn’t it supposed to be nice?”
“It’s weird, I can’t explain properly. It was nice just like it is nice to hang out with you… except that we had sex.” Nike grunted in annoyance “No, that explanation is weird, sorry…”
“I think I get it. He felt more like a friend?”
“I suppose so. I still loved him… to be honest I might love him even NOW, even though I want to smack him on the mouth! But I suppose that love turned to a more friendly one once I didn’t have any free time anymore. I still feel guilty about it, I did nothing; maybe I could’ve prevented it or fixed it. You know… when he said he wants to break up… only a part of me was shocked. The other part knew that it was coming… maybe a part of me was even relieved.”

Luna nodded, eating ice cream in silence for a while:
“I don’t think you’re a bad person. Of course, it might not be an ideal situation but… if you felt that way, I think it’s better that you two broke up. Have you ever considered leaving him?”

Nike’s cheeks burned:
“I’m so ashamed; but no… and the only reason why is that I barely even thought about my relationship once everything at work started piling up. I guess I took David for granted and when I think about it that way… I can almost understand why he flipped.”

“I think he was also jealous. Of Mr. CEO. Which, I’m sorry, but looks justified now.”
“I never thought about cheating on him, Luna!” Nike nearly shouted in her defense but her cheeks were burning… what about that spanking fantasy?
“I know, I know… but now you’re dating the guy and I can imagine David thinks you wanted to do that for a while.”
“Well, I didn’t. It happened that way but I didn’t. If David already had his opinion formed, there’s not much that I can do; but my conscience is clear.” Mostly, Nike thought.

Luna’s small spoon clinked against the glass as she scooped up the last parts of her ice cream:
“Can I ask you something else?”
“Where do you feel this thing with Victor will lead?”

It caught Nike by surprise. She never really thought about it. She was almost certain Victor wasn’t in it for the sex; otherwise, he’d have tried to have his way with her already; but really… what could come out of it? Would they keep dating for a while only to realize they’re too different and end it, will it lead to a relationship or will it go some other, completely unforeseen direction?

“I have no idea.” She finally responded. Luna’s brows raised:
“Really? You haven’t even thought about where you WANT it to go if you could choose?”
“Well, of course, I don’t want it to just be a hookup or anything. You know I dislike those. But other than that, no. I guess I just want to get to know him better, and then I will probably know.”
“Okay, sounds fair; it’s only been a couple of dates anyway. So… let’s get to rummaging through my closet!”

Victor was just finishing up at the office; he let his new assistant go several minutes prior. The man was capable and pretty experienced and Victor suddenly didn’t feel the desire to micromanage anymore.
Did he feel slightly guilty about it? Yes. It really turned out he was playing favorites.

To call Victor a perfectionist would be an understatement. He sometimes suspected it had something to do with the circumstances his life started in, combined with how it turned out. Or maybe it was just his nature. But due to how coincidence marked his life in a good way, he was always afraid that pendulum might now swing the opposite way. So he wished to leave nothing to coincidence.
About 20 years ago, things didn’t look like they would ever be fine for the little orphan boy; but then he got adopted into a rich family that provided him with all the head start he could ever need.
He couldn’t deny the fact that he most likely wouldn’t be where he was now if he never got adopted or got adopted into a different kind of family.

As far as he knew, Nike’s family was average in every sense of the word. He did a background check before hiring her; just like he always did. Married parents, both university-educated, but neither university was an elite one, an elder sister with a similarly satisfactory but not stellar background, no scandals or extraordinary achievements connected to any of their names… just average.
Victor got to thinking. Would he also have turned out average if his family was like that?
If elite colleges didn’t almost fight for him just because of his last name? Victor was very intelligent and always a good student. But so was Nike. Yet, it all mattered little when her father wasn’t someone like Mr. Lee.
It didn’t feel fair; some people were blessed with opportunities due to things they didn’t do or couldn’t control. Others were punished for the same reason.
Victor still had to work hard to get where he was now. But he started on the 3rd floor. Nike was still in the lobby.

He admired her. He was aware that his feelings for her are making him want to help her more than he might anyone else. But Nike was very proud and Victor knew she would never accept any direct help, especially after she said she wouldn’t let even her father pay her tuition.

Why did he do what he did yesterday? Victor was rarely unsure of his actions or their motives but this was one such instance; so he got to analyzing.
He wanted to give her a present. Why? Because he wanted to see her in another beautiful dress? That was not the main reason. Because he didn’t want her to feel like she has to spend her own money like that? That was a big part of it but it still felt to him like that was not the main reason. Because he hoped she might accept a present if she didn’t want to accept help? He could pay for any top college in the world without batting an eye but even thinking about that was a wild fantasy, she’d never say yes.

So, what was it? Why did he end up inadvertently acting like a sugar daddy? It never even occurred to him she might take it that way because he never thought of her as a sugar baby, but now he understood it was an easy connection to make and he felt sorry for offending her.
Why did he do it?
Perching his glasses higher up his nose; he took his contacts out some time prior, he switched his computer off and started getting ready to leave. He really wanted a bath.

His phone buzzed in his pocket before the ringtone started. Victor’s brow quirked. He had different ringtones assigned to people who called him the most. This ringtone was the default one, meant for unfamiliar and hidden numbers.
It was late, so this most likely wasn’t business-related, unless it was a strange emergency of some sort.
Thinking how someone like him could never afford to miss a call, he picked up.

“Long time no see, mister.” A coquettish female voice purred on the other side and Victor frowned.
“Stephanie. What do you want?”

Great. Just great. Of all the people…
He briefly dated Stephanie about six months ago… or was it nine?
“Now, is that a way to greet a friend?” She chuckled.
“We are not friends.” Came his cold reply.
He might have been more polite had Stephanie not made it very obvious she saw him as a stepping stone in her modelling career. Not only that but… Victor was not sure if he had the right to say this about anyone else… but she was not the nicest type of person and Victor hated her entitled attitude.  
“You wound me. I really thought we were. You know, I’m so happy you finally worked up the courage to ask your cute little secretary out.”

Victor’s scowl turned vicious:
“What did you just say?”
“Oh, come on, Vic, you take her to the Ritz and you expect it to be a secret?”
“It’s not a secret. It also has nothing to do with you.”
Why did she say “finally worked up the courage”, though? Stephanie and Nike never even met. He didn’t even know Stephanie knew what his, now former, assistant, looked like.
“It doesn’t, does it?” She mused in her typical sugary voice. “Except, as I said, I thought we were friends and I just wanted to say I was happy for you.”
“Is that all? I’m in a hurry.”
“There is something else. I wanted to come clean.” Stephanie said and her fake remorseful tone could use some work. “You know, there were rumors even while we were dating.”
“You’re bothering me with rumors, seriously?” Victor feigned disinterest but either that could also use some work or Stephanie just decided nothing would deter her.
“I thought you might want to hear this. Everybody kept saying how Victor Lee hired some cute, inexperienced little thing because he liked her. People were shocked, really. The perfectly professional, super-efficient Victor Lee hiring a clearly sub-par candidate just because she’s beautiful? So, some journalists looked into her a little bit. Do you know what they found? You must know, you know everything. Her boyfriend is David Jacobs, Loveland’s Theatre Sweetheart! Some people actually call him that, isn’t that so cute?” She nearly squealed and Victor shuddered:
“Do you have a point to make or are you just that bored that you decided to annoy me?”
“Oh, I’m getting to my point. Some people had the nerve to laugh at you, darling! She was still with him months after having met you… entirely immune to you, it seemed. She loved her sweet, kind, poor boy. If I were more romantic, I would have admired her. Choosing a penniless artist over the most powerful person in the city? She must really be all about character, all about love!
But now she’s apparently dating you after all!
Have you turned into a loving, caring, funny guy somehow? Or has she realized she could use a rich guy by her side? I actually doubt the latter. So, I just called to wish you two good luck. Please provide her with all that love and sweetness you carry in your hea… oh, wait.” She laughed and it was the most disgustingly evil laughter Victor has ever heard: “Well… let’s hope she learns how to be happy with just money. Sweet dreams, darling.”

Victor blinked. Once. Twice. Three times.
A sense of dread washes over him as he tossed his phone on his glass desktop, unconcerned about the noise and possible damage.
Stephanie was an evil bitch. He knew that. But… he finally understood why he sent Nike money like an idiot. Because he didn’t know what else to offer to make her happy.

Victor was not a funny man. He was not a laid-back man. He was not open with his feelings or very affectionate. None of those traits were necessary in order to be excellent.
It was deeply ingrained. As an abandoned child in an orphanage, you don’t receive love. You are not taught how to recognize it, how to express it or how to accept it. Neither are the other children around you. While one might wish to believe in sweet stories about children in orphanages forming deep bonds and being each other’s family… that was simply not the case.
A place with so much misery and so many gaps in social skills couldn’t lead to anything worthy of a sweet family movie. Victor remembered pranks, stolen items, arguments, and fights. The strongest kids had the privilege of the semi-decent pillow, the safety of their meager belongings and the absence of wedgies. He made sure he was the strongest kid.
It might have been why he was adopted, actually. He was the one who stood with his head held high, looking at the couple in expensive clothes defiantly. I am not impressed by your glitz. I am not desperate.
They liked him. His new life was so different at first glance, but Victor knew nothing had changed. It was still a fight to be the strongest. It was still loveless.
He would receive advice, instruction, rewards, and punishments. Strict, demanding, but fair. Expectations. There were many expectations.
“You are my heir, boy. Lee is a proud name, make sure you remember that.”
And Victor did. After all, he was grateful he wasn’t at the orphanage anymore. He wanted to make sure he never ends up there again, he wanted to make sure he can own his own life.
He was pretty successful at that.

He couldn’t remember if his adoptive parents ever hugged him. Probably at his graduation or maybe a couple of times when he was little; maybe an interviewer was there.
They treated him well, he was not unhappy and he didn’t think he had a bad childhood or life since he became part of their family… but he would sometimes see mothers hugging or kissing their children and fathers carrying them on their shoulders and he wondered whether that was normal or what he had at home. Did they maybe not express affection because they didn’t feel it? Because he was not their biological child?
As Victor grew up, he realized affection doesn’t only mean a hug or a kiss. Affection is when your parents make sure you study hard so you can get a good job. Affection is when they attend your piano recital. Affection is when they take you to their office to start teaching you the ropes even though you’re 15. Affection is when they pay for the best schools so you have the best possible opportunities.

He thought he didn’t feel like he was missing out because the mansion chef would make him HIS homemade soup when he was sick; the maid bringing it, and not his mother. It was still a delicious homemade soup. He wasn’t missing out because he wasn’t hugged, what was the use of hugs?
He wasn’t missing out because he never had that many friends and people never considered him funny; those things were not necessary.

But now, he was terrified.
Victor never really thought about his feelings until he met Nike; when his feelings started appearing like notification pings on a screen. Nike was gorgeous, he knew he enjoyed listening to her voice, talking to her, enjoying her scent, observing her expressions and gesticulation, picking up on tiny mannerisms. He knew he liked learning new things about her. He knew he considered her funny. And smart, hardworking, kind, vibrant, bright… almost perfect. Yes, she was sometimes a rash, overly-emotional idiot… but he couldn’t bring himself to be genuinely frustrated by it.
Maybe she wasn’t overly-emotional, maybe he just knew nothing about emotions.

He knew he wanted her. So, so very much. He wanted her time, he wanted to know her, he wanted to have her; he wanted her to love him. All those wants have accumulated over time and by the time he realized he was craving love, that’s when this new emotion emerged: fear.

Because; he now realized, all those things he never had and never learned, all those things that were unnecessary in order to be Victor Lee… all those things were essential for love.
Victor was never taught much about love but he knew that he felt it. He just didn’t know what to do about that.
He couldn’t even bring himself to apologize to Nike for sending that card. She doesn’t need apologies, she needs him to not make such stupid moves in the first place.
He didn’t know how to make her laugh intentionally. She seemed to be laughing at his stupidity and Victor thought it would be a matter of time before she got bored of it.
He couldn’t offer her the same kind of cuteness and sweetness she was offering him; he just couldn’t get those things out of his mouth; he couldn’t even organize them into thoughts. What does he say?! Everything felt fake.
But she deserved someone who knew how to be as sweet as she was.

Maybe there was one thing that was necessary in order to be Victor Lee that could come in handy now.
Refusal to give up.

Chapter Text

It was Saturday and Nike was getting ready for her date with Victor; he said he would be picking her up at 7. The dress she ended up borrowing from Luna was indeed gorgeous; it was another bright red one and Nike began to think she might have more of a penchant for the color than she ever believed.
This one had a layered, flowy skirt but dipped low in the back, similarly to her own red dress. The collar was smooth metal with a long decorative chain down the spine and there was something about that detail that she really loved.
She should put her hair up to really let that detail shine. Pun intended.

She thought about Thursday evening again and a huge smile tugged at her lips. Victor was a huge help in the kitchen and it felt so… nice to cook with him. He’d give instructions or ask where she kept this and that in his usual stern voice but when she touched his hand and looked up at him, assured she looked like a starry-eyed puppy, he didn’t pull away or tell her she’s distracting him. On the contrary, he seemed to welcome the attention, kissing her on the forehead. He also just took over the frying pan and as he placed his arm in front of her as if to stop her from approaching after placing the chicken in the pan and warned her to be careful because of the oil; she wanted to smush those cheeks of his and hump him at the same time. 
Did he even realize how sweet he could be? Was he even trying to be sweet?

Victor’s eyes softened for a moment when he saw her, only for his pupils to dilate again and Nike began to catch on. That meant he liked something.
She stepped toward him until their faces were inches apart, smiling at him:
“You like?” Let’s see if he can give a compliment.
“Red again,” Victor said briefly before his lip quirked slightly and he just nodded, but his eyes were the color of lilacs as if they were blooming and she kissed the tip of his nose. It seemed that was the closest she’d get to receiving a compliment for now.
His hand snaked around and he laid his palm on the small of her back, his skin brushing against the long chain and she caught his eyes locking with her collarbones briefly before his lips tightened but his eyes seemed to be burning and she saw his Adam’s apple bob as he gulped silently.
Oh! He REALLY liked the dress, it seemed.

The restaurant he took her to was one Nike had actually heard about but never thought she’d enter. It belonged to a luxury hotel situated on the river and the interior almost took her breath away. One entire wall was an aquarium, with sea plants, coral reefs and many beautiful, colorful fish swimming languidly. The entire place was bathed in blue light as she walked down the glass path that was also an aquarium, right under her feet! The wall lamps cast an orange glow as if to contrast the blue hues of the aquarium and they were seated in another private area before the maître d’ left after having sent for their drinks.
Nike might not have been one for extravagance but as Victor led her through the restaurant, his warm hand gently placed on the small of her back, right on top of the chain, she caught more than a few curious looks. Everybody surely knew Victor, but not all the looks were directed at him. She felt a blush creeping on her cheeks as she realized she was very happy with her own appearance that evening and didn’t exactly mind it being noticed. That was so superficial!

Victor was silent again and Nike couldn’t help but wonder what he was thinking until she noticed he’s keeping eye contact and his lips were curved into a slight smolder she was growing so fond of.
“Do you like this place?” he finally asked and Nike nearly gushed, casting a glance around, observing all the beautiful fish in the aquarium:
“It’s amazing.” Her eyes suddenly lit up: “Oh look, it’s Gill!” She giggled at the interesting fish, black with white stripes tinged with yellow, its body flat, with a plume-like fin on its back.
“Gill?” Victor’s brows furrowed:
“The badass fish from Finding Nemo.” She smiled at him but Victor’s gaze was blank.
“The black and white moody one that looks like you.” She couldn’t help it and Victor just sighed, closing his eyes briefly:
“That’s a Moorish Idol. The small orange one next to it, annoying it, is a goldfish. Looks like you.”
“I’d have liked it to be a clownfish, like Nemo, so it’s canon. And it would suit me better.”
“You say the weirdest things.” Victor finally chuckled and Nike snorted:
“I’m just joking.” Her eyes lit up in mischief “But did you just compare me to a goldfish?”
“You compared me to a moody fish. Besides, it’s fitting.”
“Because of the short attention span or because of the wish-granting?”
“Maybe both.” Victor entwined his fingers under his chin again and Nike kept giggling:
“I see. So, you want me to grant you three wishes?”

Victor’s brow raised and Nike instinctively brushed her thighs together as he spoke slowly:
“The attention span of a goldfish is three seconds. There’s no way for it to keep count of how many wishes it has granted.”
“I should have guessed Victor Lee would want to cheat the system to get infinite wishes.”
“Would you have guessed that it would go both ways?”

Victor leaned in, his eyes smoldering as a small smile tugged at his lips and Nike found herself nearly entranced, her stomach tightening as her heart started thumping.
“So…” she began quietly. “Who gets their wish first?”
“You do,” Victor answered without hesitation. “Tell me what you want me to do for you.”
“Right now?”
Victor chuckled at her dumbfounded expression:
“Yes, tell me right now.”
“I can ask for anything?”
“Within reason. I am not a wizard, after all.”
“I know that.” Nike rolled her eyes.
“I still figured I should point it out. Just in case.” He teased her and Nike barely resisted sticking her tongue out at him.
But what did she want from Victor? His gorgeous face, illuminated by entwining blue and tangerine hues, was making her almost weak in the knees; and that voice of his, so low, almost like a purr, wasn’t helping her string together coherent… or decent thoughts, for that matter.
She loved his hand on her bare lower back, it felt so… intimate. She wanted to feel his hands on her skin and immediately blushed, taking a sip of her drink to try divert her thoughts in a more decent direction.
Nike was never the type of girl to have casual or meaningless sex. But she was also never the one to worry too much about not being overly flirtatiously naughty when she did like someone.
And she did like Victor, so, so much. Spending more time with him was only making her like him more. Yes, he had his flaws, many of them, but somehow… Nike felt he still had some virtues she wasn’t fully seeing yet, too.

So why was she so confused right now? It wasn’t like she wasn’t imagining Victor naked over the last few days. But she couldn’t say that! She really wished he asked for his wish first so she’d know where the boundary was.
Her eyes lit up as she finally got a safe idea:

“I want to see you in casual clothing tomorrow. Like jeans and sneakers or something.”

She could tell Victor was surprised by how his mouth parted slightly and his gorgeous eyes widened a fraction. Nike chuckled:
“Why is that so surprising?”
Victor quickly schooled his expression into a smug one:
“I guess it’s only fair; after I wanted to see you in more dresses.”
Nike winked:
“I hope I’m as happy with the result tomorrow as you are tonight.”
Victor snorted behind a smile he tried to hide with his whiskey glass but Nike noticed it and again, thought that he was adorable.
“So, what is your wish, Victor?” She asked casually, even though she was a little nervous and more than a little curious. Victor’s eyes glinted playfully:
“I’ll tell you later.”

This time, Victor was the one to invite her for coffee at his place after the date and as they entered his enormous apartment, the lights automatically switching off, he gestured toward the white sofa again:
“It will be a minute. Do you want pudding?”
Nike laughed:
“You just wanted to eat pudding, didn’t you?”
“I’ll have you know that this is the best pudding in the world!”
“Have you tried every pudding in the world?”
“I don’t need to. I know what I like when I find it.”

He looked at her significantly and she almost squealed. Victor had affixed her with his impactful gaze countless of times but now that gaze was making her hot. She merely nodded:
“I’ll wait here.”
“Good…” Victor seemed to have stopped himself in the middle of a sentence and Nike’s brows raised but he was already headed for the kitchen. Did he want to say something else?
She sank into his sofa and let out a big, content sigh. That was a comfy sofa!
Her feet hurt, the shoes she was wearing were pretty unforgiving. Sheepishly, she slid them off, tucking them as close to the sofa as possible as she did her best to hide her feet under the flowy layers of her skirt.
Victor soon returned, suit jacket gone; with a tray with two mugs and two glass bowls of pudding. When did he have time to make it? It was steaming!

“Wait. You MADE pudding?”
Victor chuckled, rolling his eyes:
“Microwaves DO exist, you know.”
“Oh.” She felt stupid. But, after that brunch, who could blame her for assuming Victor again went full out?
He laid the tray on the coffee table and loosened his tie as he sat next to her. He looked so sexy in his shirt, his tie no longer perfect, his enticing scent mixed with coffee and chocolate and she just wanted to snuggle up to him. However, with all these spilling hazards… she’d rather not risk ruining his shirt or Luna’s dress.
“Are you comfortable?” Victor asked suddenly and she realized her posture was a little stiff.
“Uhm, yeah.” She fidgeted a little and Victor handed her one of the bowls, along with a napkin:
“Careful. The bowl might be hot.”
“Yes, mom.” She grinned and Victor clicked his tongue before taking the other bowl for himself:
“If you dislike this pudding, it will be the biggest surprise for me this decade.”

She took a spoonful and carefully blew on it a little after noticing Victor’s warning gaze. When did he become this much of a worrywart?
The rich chocolate aroma melted on her tongue, making her entire face light up as she nodded and Victor’s expectant face broke into a smile, the corners of his eyes narrowing, his pearly white teeth showing and Nike smiled back; only for him to try to straighten his face once again:
“So, you like it.” He commented nonchalantly and Nike scooted just a little closer:
“It’s the best pudding I’ve ever tried. But… I like your smile even better.”
He took her bowl and laid both of them on the coffee table, his eyes locked with hers the entire time:
“Silly.” He whispered even as he was leaning in to kiss her, the remnants of his smile still on his face and Nike cupped his face gently right before his lips brushed against hers, his arms pulling her into an embrace. His fingertips traced her spine with featherlight touches and she caressed his cheeks as her eyes fluttered closed and she let the softness of his lips envelop hers. The gentle, languid kiss lasted a long time and she was melting. Victor just knew how to kiss her to make her knees go weak and make her want more even as her lungs are burning for air.

He nibbled on her lower lip and she gasped, his tongue teasing her for entrance and she wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him closer and she felt him wrap the chain on her back around his hand before tugging softly, eliciting a gasp from her. Her entire body tingled as his lips slid along her jaw, tiny, soft pecks before he slid along her newly conveniently exposed neck, tongue tracing a line along her pulse and her fingers entwined in his hair for purchase. She nearly shivered in his arms, a barely audible moan escaping her and, hearing it, Victor seemed to reel himself in, letting go of the chain, his embrace turning more innocent and she laid her head on his shoulder even as her entire body was craving for him to continue.
Why did he stop?! It was so delicious she already felt tense, her cheeks burning up and her lips slightly swollen from his kiss.
She kissed his throat tentatively, listening to his deep breaths as he closed his eyes, holding her snugly against his side:
“Coffee and pudding are getting cold.”
“I find it hard to care about that right now.” She murmured, letting her lips brush against his neck:
“You still haven’t told me your wish.” She reminded him.
Victor softly rubbed his cheek against her forehead, smiling:
“I knew you would take your shoes off.” He remarked and Nike’s brows furrowed:
“Do your feet hurt?”
“A little.” She admitted and he slowly let go of her only to give her her pudding bowl back:
“I want you to put your feet in my lap.”
She looked at him in surprise as she took the bowl and sat against the backrest on the angle of the sofa.
Victor sat and gave her the authoritative look, although it wasn’t without softness:
“That is my wish, come on.”
She did as he asked and he cupped her feet in his hands, thumbs running along her instep only to circle around the balls of her feet:
“Tell me if I squeeze too hard.”
Nike blinked, hardly able to believe her eyes. His wish was to give her a foot rub? She grinned, a warm, fuzzy feeling spreading in her chest. Luna had asked her where she wanted dating Victor to go, and now she knew. Someplace like this.
She studied his gorgeous face, entirely relaxed, as he pressed on her soles with his thumbs, his warm hands making her sigh deeply in pleasure as he made her entire body turn to jelly:
“I’m starting to think there is nothing you cannot do, Victor Lee.” She teased and he chuckled:
“There are many things I cannot do.”
“For example?”
“For example…”
Nike laughed as he paused:
“See, you can’t even think of anything! Mr. Perfect!” She giggled quietly, only for the sound to get louder as Victor tickled her sole, his other hand holding her foot in place so she can’t pull it away:
“It’s not very smart to antagonize the man who can tickle you.”
“Right as usual. May I make it up to you?”
“How do you plan to do that?” His brow arched and she leaned forward, taking a spoonful of pudding and offering it to him:
“Pudding, of course.”
Victor smiled before letting her feed him the treat, caressing the bridges of her feet:
“I didn’t even have to state my second wish.”
“And you call me sneaky. Now you owe me two.”
“That won’t be a problem.”
She kissed his warm, pudding-flavored lips.
That pudding surely wasn’t cooling down too quickly, though.

Victor let time resume on the coffee table. He was pushing his luck anyway, one glance would let her see the steam frozen in time and he really didn’t want to give her the terrifyingly confusing feeling that she was seeing things as her brain would inevitably strive to correct the visual anomaly.
He just didn’t want things to get cold, knowing their affections could last forever if either of them could choose. The pudding tasted even better when she was feeding it to him and when he could taste it in their kiss. He sighed against her jaw, still cupping her feet in his hands. Seems like he did a good job being affectionate tonight, she was happy. It made him smile.

Chapter Text

Buckling her black platform sandals, Nike grinned to herself. It was Sunday and her turn to plan a date so she scoured the internet for good places and finally found the perfect one.
It was an interesting bookstore/café that opened just recently. You could read books and comic books while there, without being obligated to buy; of course, you COULD buy something if you wanted to, and you could also trade in your old stuff, provided it was gently used, naturally.
But the best part? It was also a cat café!

She was curious. What kind of books does Victor like? Does he like cats? Do they like him? This place seemed like it would go a long way in them getting to know each other better.
What also excited her was the prospect of seeing Victor casually dressed; he did kinda promise.
Still sitting on her sofa, she rolled the hems of her own jeans above her sandals and stood up, checking her reflection in the mirror. It looked good. The platforms with chunky heels elevated her jeans and baggy crop-top sweater outfit (literally and figuratively) and the tiniest part of the midriff exposed made her feel playful but still casual. She contemplated putting a belt while she checked if she had everything she needed in her purse.
She nervously combed her hair again, deciding to leave it down. Does she need lipstick? It might be too much; maybe tinted lip balm? Yeah, that’s a good idea! Where did she leave that cherry one?
She went to her bedroom to rummage through her Everything Drawer only to find the box with David’s watch still in there. Why didn’t she throw it out or try to return it to the store or give it to Luna to return to David himself?

Finally noticing the red tube of lip balm, she grabbed it and slammed the drawer shut along with that compartment of her brain. Not today.
She glanced at her phone and noticed Victor would be picking her up in less than 5 minutes. A devilish smirk on her face, she pulled up the analog clock on her screen, just to check if he’d be even a second late.

He was three seconds early. Nike giggled to herself.
She opened the door, still smiling only for that smile to turn into probably the silliest lovestruck grin in the world. He was indeed wearing jeans; black wash ones and a black shirt she presumed he considered casual since the sleeves were rolled to his elbows and the top two buttons were undone, a tie finally nowhere in sight. She stole a brief glance down and noticed he wasn’t wearing sneakers after all, but loafers will have to do, she supposed.

“Black again.” She teased before stepping toward him for a kiss. Victor snorted, his arms readily wrapping around her waist before giving her a toe-curling slow kiss.
Her cheeks were slightly flushed when he broke it and she fumbled for words, pushing her desire to fully unbutton his shirt aside:
“You’re not wearing sneakers.”
“Neither are you.”
“I never said I would.”
“Neither did I.” He teased. “I only wear them if I’m at the gym.”
“Oh? I find them too comfy to only wear them then.”
“Why aren’t you wearing them now? Hoping for another foot rub?” His eyes glinted and Nike giggled sheepishly:
“No! Well, maybe; but I’m not scheming in order to get it.” Victor’s brow raised in mock suspicion and Nike tapped him on the shoulder blade:
“Really! I’m just too short in sneakers.” She finally admitted and Victor leaned his forehead against hers:
“Perhaps.” He said vaguely and she extricated herself from his embrace, knowing she could stay there forever if she didn’t get a hold of herself:
“Let me grab my purse and we can go.”

As she was locking her apartment, Mrs. Brady emerged from the elevator, her eyes lighting up as she saw her neighbor before she looked at Victor, eyeing him in that all-knowing way typical of elderly ladies.

Mrs. Brady was Nike’s favorite neighbor she ever had, even though the age gap between them was more than 40 years. The sweet old lady was the first to welcome her when she moved in and sometimes they had tea together, she would bring her homemade treats and Nike, not being a good enough baker, would buy some at the nearby pastry shop to bring when she was the guest.
She reminded her of her own grandmother, who passed away 4 years prior and she loved listening to all the stories Mrs. Brady would tell her about her youth, her former job as a music teacher, her late husband, her children and grandchildren or just anything at all. Before she got a full-time job, she could also listen to Mrs. Brady playing her piano every weekday from 2 to 4 p.m. It was a lovely classical music concert that she actually missed.
She was so happy each time she saw her family visiting her; especially because it was not a rare occurrence. She hoped one day she could be as sweet of a grandma as Mrs. Brady.

“Good afternoon, Mrs. Brady.” She chirped, slipping her key in the small pocket of her bag. Oddly enough, she didn’t feel strange about Mrs. Brady seeing her with Victor. After all, she wasn’t doing anything wrong and if they kept dating, it would be just a matter of time before everyone around her knew anyway; so why fret it?

“Good afternoon, my dear. Going for a walk? It’s a lovely day.”
Mrs. Brady must have been grocery shopping if her bag was anything to go by.
She smiled, her knowing gaze encompassing both her and Victor and Nike couldn’t help but smile back. That old lady! She knew she was going on a date, she must! Yet she asked her question so casually.

“Yes, I love late summer weather.” She turned to Victor briefly:
“Victor, this is Mrs. Brady, my favorite neighbor.” The old lady gave a happy chuckle, waving her hand in that “oh, stop it, you” way but enjoying hearing it nonetheless.
“Mrs. Brady, this is Victor.”
She introduced them, stealing a glance at Victor, who, to her surprise, had one of the politest expressions she has ever seen on him as he shook Mrs. Brady’s hand:
“Victor Lee, nice to meet you, ma’am.”
Mrs. Brady smiled at him warmly, nodding:
“Nice to meet you too, dear.”
Nike never thought she’d hear anyone call Victor “dear” and she bit her lip so as not to laugh.
Mrs. Brady looked at Nike with an innocent smile, but she noticed the glint in her eyes:

“Did you know that Starlit Bakery introduced new cheesecake flavors? If you try them, please tell me what they’re like, dear, my grandchildren might enjoy me taking them there!”

Nike knew Mrs. Brady could make a cheesecake better than any bakery; this was just a hint for Victor to take Nike for some cheesecake, it being one of the few types of cake she actually liked.
She was convinced the old lady could outmaneuver even Victor in a negotiation.
Unsurprisingly, Victor picked up on the hint, nodding subtly as they wished Mrs. Brady a nice day.

Having stepped into the elevator, he shook his head in mock exasperation:
“So, you like cheesecake.”
“I do. It’s perhaps the only cake I like. Strawberry cheesecake in particular.”
“So, we’re going to Starlit Bakery.”
“Nope. We’re going someplace better.”
“You’ll see.”
“You do realize I cannot drive us to an unknown location?”
“Oh, we don’t need to drive, it’s a 10-minute walk from here.”
Victor eyed her feet suspiciously and Nike laughed:
“These shoes are comfortable!”
“So, appearances are deceiving.”
“You should know.” She wrapped her arm around his waist, looking up at him:
“You giant softie.”
Victor scowled, his cheeks a dusty pink hue.

Victor’s face, as he saw where she took him, was priceless and she barely suppressed her desire to take a photo. The place seemed like it was made of books and cats, some of them lounging on books or laps of various patrons, some of them sleeping under tables or sauntering around.
He stood near the door, frozen for a minute and Nike suddenly felt stupid:
“Is everything okay, Victor? You’re not allergic to cats, are you?”
“Seeing this mess, I wish I was.” He frowned: “People actually eat and drink with all that hair flying about?”
“Yes, because nobody has ever heard of the Food Sanitation Act but yourself!” She laughed, picking up a fat orange tabby that was already rubbing its cheeks against her legs.
“Look at this fiery ball of cuteness!” She cooed and Victor tilted his head, his gaze on her the entire time:
“Which one?”
Nike opened, then closed her mouth, turning away and whispering “you smooth motherfucker” under her breath before turning back to Victor, only to see not one, not two, but three cats already around him. Two of them were black and one was a gorgeous Russian blue:
“Oh look, Victor, only the cats compatible with your color story have swiped right on you, how considerate, the hair on your clothes won’t be so visible!”
“Swiped right?”
Victor’s brows furrowed as he carefully stepped around the cats and followed Nike to a free table.
“You know… liked you. Expressed the desire to get to know you. It’s an online dating term.”
“You went through all this trouble just to mock me?”

Nike’s face fell as she sat, the cat immediately making itself comfortable in her lap, purring as she stroked its head:
“I’m not mocking you, Victor, it was just a joke. I genuinely thought this place would be fun, cute cats, coffee, books… But if you don’t like it, we can leave.” She looked at him seriously before glancing down at the napping cat in her lap:
“Although that might inconvenience old boy Garfield here, he seems to like my lap as a bed!”
Victor sighed, his head snapping aside in surprise as the Russian Blue jumped into his lap, immediately placing its paws on Victor’s chest, looking at him intently. Nike laughed, Garfield shuffling at the sound:
“See, this one is begging you to stay! He’s like “Seriously, dude? You’re gonna pretend you don’t think we’re super cute?” “
The cat leaned in as if trying to touch Victor’s face with its nose and Victor’s eyes widened before he let out an annoyed sigh, gently taking the cat by its front legs and laying it on his lap:
“Personal space, cat.” He grumbled but petted its back nonetheless and Nike beamed:
“Are you sure you don’t wanna go someplace else?”
“And inconvenience bold boy Garfield there? I wouldn’t dream of it.”
Bold boy Garfield, huh. She rolled her eyes at the joke:
“This place lets you read or buy any book you like. Maybe we could browse later?”
“Sure.” Victor nodded and Nike hoped he wouldn’t stay so uncomfortable. She nibbled on her lip for a moment, thinking about what to say when he read her mind:
“Just say it.”

“Uhm… I know I’m annoying, but are you absolutely certain you don’t want to leave? We can go anywhere you’d like… I just wanted to check this place out, but I should have asked you first. I’m sorry.”
Victor’s eyes softened in surprise as he shook his head at her:
“I promised you I’d go anywhere you wanted today.”
“Yeah, but what’s the point if you hate the place?”
“I don’t hate the place, silly. I’ve just never been to a place like this.”
“I don’t see the point in lying about the cafes I visit.”
“No, I meant do you really not hate the place?”
“Again, I don’t see the point in lying about my preferences. Now quit fretting.”
Victor grabbed the menu to study it when he felt a paw on his shoulder. One of the black cats was trying to climb on him, standing on the shelf behind him and Nike couldn’t resist laughing:
“They really like you, Victor!”
Victor grumbled something unintelligible but made no move to prevent the cat from draping itself on his shoulders:
“The only thing you should’ve done is told me to bring a lint roller.” He nagged.
“Oh, I brought one, don’t worry!”
“At least you’re prepared.”
“Did you ever have a pet cat, Victor?”
“I’ve never had a pet. Not really.”
“Never?! And what does “not really” mean?”
Victor seemed to contemplate his answer:
“My father adopted a panda from the zoo in my name for one of my birthdays, so it technically is my pet.”  
“A panda? Are you messing with me?”
“Why would I do that?”
“Can we go see your panda someday? Is it still alive?”
“It might be. That was over 15 years ago.”
“What’s its name?”
Victor shrugged:
“Can’t say I remember. Min, I think.”
“That’s a cute name!”
“How about you? I bet you had a pack of critters as a child.”
Nike giggled right before the waiter came to take their order. When he left, she continued:
“Yes, there were always pets in my family. I always wanted a hamster or a rabbit but my parents said they don’t live long, so we just had dogs and cats. My building doesn’t allow pets, and I couldn’t bring myself to leave them alone the entire day anyway, so my dog now lives with my parents. His name is Jubei, he’s a Shiba Inu.”
Victor merely nodded and Nike thought he might be bored, as he remained silent for a while, but then he said:
“I always wanted to have a Husky.”
“Why didn’t you?”
“My parents never allowed pets. Not even fish.”
“Oh!” Nike tried to downplay her surprise, even though she shouldn’t really be surprised, she thought. Victor did seem like he was raised by very strict, maybe even cold, parents.
“Do you have any siblings, Victor?”
“Not that I know of.”
Nike raised an eyebrow but kept her mouth shut. Were Victor’s parents having some affairs? She knew it was not her place to ask. Victor shuffled in his seat, another cat trying to jump on his lap:
“Just ask.”
“Oh, no… it’s not… I probably overstepped…” She fumbled and Victor chuckled:
“By asking me about having siblings? Idiot. I’m adopted. I don’t know anything about my biological family, so I might have siblings I don’t know about.”

Victor was adopted?! Nike wondered how that piece of information never came up in all the public coverage of him. It seemed like something the media would enjoy pointing out.
“Oh.” Was all she managed before the waiter came back with their coffee. She didn’t know what to say. Did he have a bad childhood? Was he unhappy with his family?
She thanked him inwardly to the moon and back when he changed the topic, perfectly composed:
“You have an elder sister, right?”
“How do you know?” Her eyes narrowed and he snorted:
“You asked for a day off to go to her baby shower. In the middle of that business seminar none of us could afford to miss, I might add.”
“I don’t remember mentioning she was older than me.”

Victor’s eyes widened for a moment before he chuckled:
“You signed your consent to having a background check conducted, don’t you remember?”
Nike’s face lit up:
“And any information I post on social media is fair game even without my consent.”
“Not unless you set your accounts to private, which I suggest doing.”
“I know that! I just didn’t think I have anything to hide!” She took a sip of her coffee, grinning:
“So, you stalked my Instagram… Victor!” She mock-admonished him and Victor gave her The Look:
“I always check everyone I intend to hire; I wasn’t stalking.”
“So cautious. So safe. You never take risks, do you?”
“You know my work and you’re asking me this. I only take calculated risks, and they pay off.”

Nike just nodded, Garfield finally deciding her lap was no longer the perfect place to sleep so he jumped off and sauntered away. Victor gestured toward the seemingly countless books:
“Anything in particular you hope to find here?”
“Not really, I just like browsing. If they have The Dresden Files, I might buy a few of those.”
She didn’t expect him to know the books but he chuckled:
“The wizard detective… Not bad.”
“Have you read them?” Her face lit up.
“No, I merely stumbled upon some online reviews. People seem to like the series.”

Nike tapped her fingertips together:
“Would you like us to read them together?”
“Yeah. We can either just lounge around, each with a book in hand or we can even take turns reading aloud. Or simply read a little over a period of our own time and then discuss, like in a book club?”
Victor thought about the idea, the corners of his lips tugged upwards:
“Why not. People usually watch movies together, but this might be interesting as well.”
“Of course, it doesn’t have to be The Dresden Files if you’re not into that… you can…”
Victor interrupted, rolling his eyes:
“Why don’t you ever ask for things you want with confidence?”
“Hey, I’m trying to be considerate! I don’t know what you like yet!”
“Doesn’t matter. Ask anyway. I can always refuse.”

Was that life advice, their relationship advice or both? Victor continued, shaking his head to avoid getting a tail in his face:
“We’ll read the first book of The Dresden Files and after that, I’m picking a book.”
“Fair enough.”
“See? It’s not difficult to state what you want.”
“For you.”
“Goldfish, have you already forgotten our conversation yesterday?”
Ah, that’s right. Wish-granting. She blushed.
“I just… thought you were flirting and it wasn’t meant to extend to… you know, everything anytime.”

Victor’s face turned serious, almost all business and offended:
“Then you should have sought clarification, not doubted me. I mean what I say and I try to be very clear. You can ask me anything you want and you can ask for whatever you want. I will always be honest, so quit asking me if I’m sure. Of course, I expect the same from you.”

Nike felt strange. Victor was scolding her, but at the same time, he was promising her something that sounded really nice… and he sounded sexy doing it. She was never turned on by him scolding her previously, so why now? She finally nodded:
“Alright, I understand. I didn’t mean to doubt you.”
“Don’t do it again, just ask.”
“Yes, sir.” She grinned teasingly and Victor’s brow raised:
“What was that?” He heard her. He just dared her to repeat. Well… let’s call that bluff!
“I said: yes sir.”
Victor entwined his fingers under his chin, leaning in:
“I already told you not to call me that. Unless you know what you’re doing.”

Seems it wasn’t a bluff, something was telling her that, but she had no idea what he meant. However, she decided to do what he just told her to do:
“What do you mean?”
“Yes, I figured you don’t know.” He chuckled. “This is not the place for that conversation, but I will tell you later.”

As she sat on needles, Nike felt “later” couldn’t come soon enough.

Chapter Text

She could barely wait until they were on her sofa again, Victor finally pleased after he removed all the cat hair from his clothes and she poured them both some ice tea.

“So?” She asked impatiently and Victor chuckled at her expectant face:
“You promised to tell me what you meant back there.”
Victor took his time, taking a sip of tea:
“What I meant by what?”
“Oh, don’t play dumb with me! You know what I mean!”
“I do, but I want to hear you say it.”
Nike let out a frustrated sigh that looked more like a puff:
“What did you mean when you said, “unless you know what you’re doing”? And did you just make me wait for the answer to troll me? There probably even is no answer and you’re just…”

Suddenly, Victor was in her face, his eyes sternly boring holes down to her soul as he spoke in a low voice, almost a purr:
“I meant you should only call me sir in bed. Or wherever else we happen to be fucking.”

She nearly dropped her glass, eyes widening as she gulped, her mouth opening and closing a few times stupidly as Victor didn’t move a single inch, his eyes firmly affixed on her, a self-satisfied smirk on his face. Her cheeks burned as she tried to fight through a shocked stutter:
“You… you’re messing with me, right?”
His smirk broadened as he leaned in even closer, his breath warm on her lips:
“I do applaud you heeding my earlier advice and trying to call bluffs, but learn to recognize what IS a bluff.”

She scooted away, suddenly feeling too uncomfortable to be that close to him and Victor let her, slowly straightening on the sofa to give her more space. Nike took a big gulp of tea, the ice cubes rattling. It wasn’t like it was her first time to hear a man she was dating make a lewd or suggestive comment, but this comment, coming from Victor especially, floored her completely for some reason.
Also, she still didn’t really understand how her calling him sir would be related to…

“Ooooh!” It finally dawned on her and she chuckled nervously: “I see what it is!”
“Pray tell.” Victor swirled the tea in his glass in amusement and Nike played with her hair, avoiding to look him in the eyes:
“It’s a roleplay thing, right? Boss/secretary? I think it’s actually a common fantasy and…”
“What do you mean wrong?” She was mildly irritated now, with him for being so vague and with herself for obviously being too stupid to understand anything.
Victor sighed, his features softening:
“I don’t want to roleplay. That means it’s a game. I don’t play games like that.”
“You officially lost me. I don’t understand anything you’re saying.”
Victor chuckled, setting his glass on the coaster placed on the coffee table:
“I believe you once called me a control-freak?”
“I thought I was clever enough to only do it behind your back.” She chuckled nervously but Victor gave her that silencing look and her skin crawled in equal parts excitement and nervousness. He continued:
“You were right but I don’t think you realize how much, actually.”
“Will you explain?”
“Of course.” He leaned in once again to take her glass and set it aside, his fingers running along her forearm teasingly:
“I do like having a lot of control. In relationships.”
“What does that mean?” She squealed, cursing the armrest that didn’t let her move away further and cursing herself for feeling hotter as he said that.
“Whatever you’re comfortable with. I don’t force.” He frowned briefly before smiling again:
“So, for example…” He took her wrists gently and brought them together, her palms touching before one of his hands slipped away and the other one held both of her wrists, like a bind:
“This.” She stared dumbfoundedly at their hands before his free one slid along her neck, fingertips grazing before the ghost of his touch laid on her neck, his palm barely touching her throat and his fingers on the sides of her neck:
“Or this.”
The hand slid further up and he covered her eyes with his palm:
“Or that.”

He let go of her then, but remained close, looking at her face as the wheels in her head were turning and she was trying to get over the surprise and the odd feeling of giddiness that coursed through her.

“So… it’s… bondage?” She tried again and to her relief, Victor nodded this time:
“Yes, it’s a part of it. There are other things but as I said, I won’t do anything you’re uncomfortable with. It’s only pleasing if you’re enjoying it.”
She pulled her sleeves over her hands, tugging on them with her fingers to give them something to do. She never smoked so she never understood the desire for cigarettes when one was stressed but she suddenly craved gummy bears.
She remembered her shameful spanking fantasy she beat herself up over for so long. If she was to look at it purely from the perspective of its contents, and not her relationship status at the time, or her employment… it was not so shameful in itself now that he told her what he just did. Maybe spanking even was one of those “other things”?

“What are the other things?” She asked, trying to sound casual but Victor saw right through it:
“Is there something, in particular, you’re hoping for?”
“I thought we agreed we won’t be answering questions with questions.”
“Right. Okay. Some of the other things might include you obeying me when I tell you to do something and letting me make decisions; the scope of that is very broad. We would discuss it beforehand, but I would be willing to take as much as you would give me. However.” Victor’s voice turned more serious as if to underline his next point is the most important one: “That takes time and immense trust. It’s good that we’re having this conversation now but that doesn’t mean I am pressuring you or rushing you into anything. Don’t worry. For now, just treat it as me telling you another piece of information about myself.”

Nike remained silent for a long time, trying to make sense of what she’d heard and Victor let her, waiting patiently. She’d never had a boyfriend ask her to “obey” him and she tried to imagine an example of that, her cheeks flushed throughout.
She could and did see Victor giving orders in a professional sense and she never even thought to relate it to anything personal, much less toward her.
She felt frustrated when he’d hang above her head and bark orders. Yet she would always do what he asked. Well, demanded. Of course, an employee would be wise not to deliberately defy their boss, at least not without an extremely valid reason but… she wasn’t just doing it for that reason.
She remembered her thought process at the time.
She was frustrated with his stone face and harsh tone. She wanted to see if there would ever come a time when he’d be pleased with something she did and… praise her.

He abruptly stopped himself last night when he…
Without stopping to think about it, she decided to ask:

“You said something odd last night.”
“What was it?”
“Well, it was not exactly what you said but how you’ve said it. I don’t often see you hold your tongue so it attracted my attention; you said “good…” and then stopped really abruptly, like there was more you wanted to say but decided not to. Am I wrong?”

Victor chuckled:
“You’re not wrong, that was a slip of the tongue. I wanted to call you a good girl.”
Her eyes widened for a second at the completely unexpected pleasant sensation she felt in her chest… and downstairs. Victor continued, a playful glint in his eyes:
“You told me a while back how I’m never pleased with anything you do. That’s really not true. I was very often tempted to praise you, but that was the first time I almost actually did; the way I wanted to.”

“You often wanted to call me… a good girl?” Her voice was so quiet she wondered if he even heard her, but he was listening carefully:
“Very often. You really ARE a good girl, after all. I realized that very quickly. I already explained to you why I went as hard on you as I did and I knew it was frustrating you but… even so, you tried so hard. Yes, you were taking your job seriously but… I knew you were also craving to please me.”

He chuckled in self-deprecation:
“It was fucking hard to resist giving you what you wanted. I was your boss, after all, it would be wildly inappropriate. Not only that but… you were not mine to praise anyway.”

Nike shuffled in her seat uncomfortably, raising her arms in defense:
“I never meant it like that… I just wanted to know I’m not terrible at my job!”
“I know that. You’re not to blame, it was me who had inappropriate thoughts about it, very consciously.”

He leaned in again and this time she made no move to flinch away:
“Correct me if I’m wrong though… but I do think your impulse was entirely subconscious.”
“What do you mean…”
“It would make YOU happy to hear me praise you. Now. That we’re not in a boss-employee relationship.”
Nike gulped and Victor seemingly decided not to have mercy on her:
“If I told you to do something now and called you a good girl when you did; how would that make you feel?”

Her gaze darted away as if on instinct as she felt a bead of sweat slide down her spine, making her skin crawl. Her thighs squeezed against each other tightly as her heart was beating in her throat. How would that make her feel… she was already inexplicably turned on and he hasn’t even done anything and what does she tell him now and…

“Look at me.” Came Victor’s calm, yet serious command and she just… did. Without thinking.
“Relax. Deep breaths.” She obeyed again, trying to ignore his smolder and blown pupils in those lilac orbs. She took several deep breaths and Victor smiled:
“That’s right. Good girl.”

Her breath caught. There it was. The unmistakable wanton tingle in her crotch. She wondered how crimson it was humanly possible for her cheeks to get.
“So, how does that feel? Do you like it? Be honest. I will only do it again if you like it.”

She nodded softly and Victor’s lips were inches away as he whispered:
“Use your words. How does it make you feel?”
“Good.” She managed to squeeze out.
“Define good.”
She squealed in embarrassment:
“Good as in… pleasant.” She opted for that word after trying to say “arousing” but finding herself unable to. Victor’s fingers entwined in her hair behind her ear as he cupped her face gently:
“Is it making you wet?” He smirked, obviously deciding to help her but she felt like he was torturing her.
“I… Well… It’s nice.” Victor’s brows furrowed seriously:
“I will drop the topic entirely if you tell me to, Nike. Do you want to talk about something else?”

Her mouth was dry as a wash of what could only, very eloquently, be described as “nope” swept her under. She has never felt so embarrassed in her life but for some odd or crazy reason, she didn’t want him to stop:
“No… I. Yes, it’s making… yes.”
Victor’s smirk turned so smugly enticing she almost shuddered, another tingle making her legs nearly cramp. He was… enjoying this. It made her even wetter and even more embarrassed.
“Finish that sentence properly. You can do it. If you do, I’ll reward you.”
Now he was simply not playing fair! She perked up at that promise without fully realizing why or how was it possible for her to just be going along with a situation like this:
“Yes, it’s… makingmewet.” She smushed the words together, wishing to just get that difficult sentence over with and Victor nodded:
“Good girl. Told you that you can do it. Let me reward you.”

His head dipped slightly and Nike closed her eyes, anticipating a kiss but his lips slid past her expectant ones, all the way to her ear, whispering:
“It pleases me greatly to hear that. I’ve wanted to hear it for a very long time. Makes me hard.”

She nearly squealed as his lips brushed against her ear, his warm body so close it was radiating heat and yet it was not touching her. His breath was scorching her skin as he continued, his smirk audible in his words as she nearly trembled under him:
“You like that, don’t you?”
She nodded and Victor nibbled on her earlobe:
“Say it.”
“Yes.” She bit her lip, her hands bracing against the sofa: “I like it.” Victor nearly purred, his hair tickling her as he dipped in to kiss her neck:
“You want to be my good girl, don’t you?”

Nike was slowly letting go of her embarrassment, Victor’s warmth and scent intoxicating her and she just wanted him to continue, to tell her more, to touch her.
“Yes.” She nodded with a breathy whisper and Victor bit on her neck just hard enough to make her gasp and not cause actual pain:
“Good. Do you have any idea how difficult it was to restrain myself all this time?” His soft purr turned into an almost threatening growl and she felt herself growing even wetter:
“When every time you would look at me with those hopeful puppy eyes, I would just want to bend you over my desk and fuck you silly?”
“Your office is glass…” She protested dumbly and Victor chuckled:
“Is that a pro or a con?”

To Nike’s lust-addled brain, it seemed like a good question. She was already imagining the situation. It would be terrifying to be seen but… what if he told her it would please him?
She didn’t even have time to process just how many objections she had or didn’t have about that when Victor continued and she realized she was already laying on her back, Victor hovering above her on his palms:
“I want you to stop me now.”

His face was serious, even with that threatening hunger in his eyes and Nike bit her tongue so as not to keen at him desperately.
“Stop me now.” He repeated and she blinked a couple of times:
“Why?” She finally managed, extremely unwilling to end this. She had never wanted anyone this much in her life.
“Because this is not how I want to do it. But if we continue, I won’t be able to hold back anymore.”
She must have made a pleading face because Victor closed his eyes, shaking his head:
“Don’t tempt me. I am serious.”

With a deep ragged breath, he pulled away, getting up and Nike was confused. Did she do something wrong? Victor ran his fingers through his hair, a gesture most uncharacteristic and somewhere in the back of her mind, it registered as him being nervous:
“This is not about sex.” He finally squeezed out and she sat up on the sofa, looking up at him. So that was what was bothering him!
“I know it’s not.” She said simply and Victor shot her a glare:
“Do you? You suspected I was lying to you about wanting to stay at that café. You obviously don’t trust me.”
Nike laughed nervously, pulling her feet up on the sofa and hugging her knees. She was still turned on and for some reason, this glare he gave her, along with that oddly sweet statement, made her heart giddy as well:
“I only suspected you were humoring me so I wouldn’t feel bad. Not that you are lying for some nefarious purpose. I wouldn’t assume you cared about my feelings if I thought you just wanted sex.”

Victor seemed to contemplate it for a moment, shifting his weight. Finally, with a deep sigh, he replied:
“Even still. I want to do this differently.”
“You just don’t like my place, do you? You want to do it on home turf?” She laughed and he scowled at her:
“I want to do it on my terms, yes.” He replied stiffly and Nike grabbed her long-forgotten glass, lamenting the fact the ice has melted and diluted her minty goodness.
“Alright, Victor. If that would please you.” She added teasingly and Victor shook his head:
“I can’t wait to make you regret teasing me so much.”

As she looked at him, his features finally relaxed into a warm, affectionate expression, he didn’t seem so threatening and Nike realized the wild thump of her heart was not nervousness anymore.
She was really falling for this silly man, wasn’t she? She found it sweet; he wanted to earn her trust before sleeping with her. But Nike already trusted him. She was familiar with his integrity, underlined further by his confession of having liked her for a long time. He remained professional throughout and she never even suspected it, not once. She started to notice he was also kind and sweet under the brash façade and she was endeared every time he’d say something so stiff she just knew he meant something nice. And he was so sexy it pained her.
Even with these revelations that made her cheeks burn… she still wanted him. She wanted him MORE.

She stood up and hugged him, nuzzling his neck as best as she could with the height difference now that she was barefoot. Victor hugged back without hesitation and she just let herself enjoy his warmth for a few seconds:
“I really… really like you. A lot. I do know a thing or two about your character and it’s a big reason why I like you. You might be harsh and appear cold, but you are fucking honorable. I might not trust you to give me the most adorable and gentle pep talk, but I trust you to not play with my feelings, I trust you to not wish anything negative upon me.”

Victor’s embrace tightened as his head dipped into her hair:
“Good. Right now, hearing this pleases me more than anything else.”

Victor left soon after that and Nike slumped back onto the sofa, looking through the window at the pleasant late afternoon glow outside. She should really take a, possibly cold, shower.
She grabbed her phone absent-mindedly, scrolling through her social media, only half-reading posts.
Another high school classmate got engaged. This other one posted yet another picture of her baby. The third one flaunted her new hairstyle, which was actually very pretty, Nike thought. Oh, look, these two got married! It shouldn’t surprise her, they were high school sweethearts.
Another one posted a cute selfie of her and her new boyfriend.

It didn’t bother Nike particularly, she was never someone who considered relationships, marriage and children the measurement of happiness. She scrolled past a photo of her classmate’s freshly manicured hand with an elegant watch on her wrist, holding the handle of some expensive bag, the logo on which didn’t ring any bells to Nike. She chuckled. That classmate always liked finer things in life.
With a playful surge of cattiness, she imagined her face if she saw Nike with Victor.

It was stupid, really. She was not with Victor because of his money or status. She liked him. But she never really liked that classmate. Oh, what a face she’d make!

David was sitting at his apartment, typing away on his computer at lightning speed, a full ashtray next to him. He just got an idea for a script and even though he was technically a director, figured he had to write it. Yes, the story will probably be just a ton of projecting but he left his future self to worry about that. Right now, it was just therapeutic to write.
His cellphone suddenly rang, jolting him out of his creative daze.
He fumbled through many papers on his desk, finally fishing it out. He didn’t know the number.

“David Jacobs speaking.”
“Mr. Jacobs.” An unfamiliar, decidedly pleasant female voice addressed him:
“I apologize for calling you on a Sunday like this. My name is Stephanie Connors.”
David almost laughed out loud and hung up. Will these prank calls never stop? Seemed like every month some bored teenagers annoyed people with another stupid prank. This time, a supermodel calling random guys out of the blue! However, the woman continued:
“I also must apologize for what I am about to say, I know it will sound uncanny, maybe even a little creepy, but I am more than willing to answer all of your questions.”
The more she spoke, the more David realized that whoever this was, they imitated Stephanie’s voice perfectly. He’s heard it a few times on TV when she’d give interviews and he was channel-surfing with nothing better to watch. Her interviews were nothing super interesting but she was so beautiful David found it hard to NOT look at her. She had those piercing sky-blue eyes that, contrasted with her golden tan, made it feel like she’s staring into people’s souls.
He decided to play along:
“How may I help you, Ms. Connors?”
“I will get straight to the point. Your ex is dating my ex.” She pouted: “I don’t know about you, but I love my ex and want him back.”

David’s mind reeled. Could this be part of the prank and just a sick coincidence:
“I’m sorry, Ms. Connors, I’m not sure I’m following.”
“Your ex, Nike Conrad, is dating my ex, Victor Lee.” Explained Stephanie patiently, her voice tinged with sadness:
“I must apologize again. I know I am overstepping by calling you but… I love him and… I wanted to ask you if you also love your ex?”

Well, this was most certainly NOT what most men would picture when they imagine a gorgeous supermodel calling them. But David’s heart thumped happily. Was she asking him what he thought she was asking him?
“Yes. Yes, I do.” His mouth was dry as Stephanie let out a sigh of relief:
“Oh, thank goodness, that gives me hope. Say, Mr. Jacobs, when would you be available to meet with me? I believe we can help each other get back the people we love.”

Chapter Text

David never thought he’d meet a supermodel, much less have a drink with her at a local coffee shop.
He was a little surprised when he saw she changed her signature long blonde hairstyle in favor of a structured bob the color of chocolate.
It suited her well, bringing out her blue eyes that shone with a sad glaze under her straight bangs:

“Mr. Jacobs, I’m so sorry for troubling you on a Tuesday afternoon like this.” She apologized, her manicured white nails tapping against her cup in thought.
David shook his head:
“Please don’t apologize, it’s quite alright. And call me David, Mr. Jacobs is my Dad.”
He tried to make a joke and Stephanie gave him a small smile and a nod:
“Thank you, David; of course, I expect you to call me Stephanie.”
“It’s a deal, Stephanie.” He smiled back and she took a small sip of her herbal tea.
Laying the cup back on the saucer delicately, she spoke:

“I told you over the phone that I love my ex… I feel like I have to explain that a little.”
David kept his mouth shut, although he agreed THAT needed a good explanation. Why would anyone love that arrogant, megalomaniacal, mean bastard? Stephanie sighed:
“You see, our relationship wasn’t long and I know I really should be well over him by now, it’s been about seven months since we broke up and we only dated for about three; but I can’t.”
She chuckled bitterly:
“It’s one of the curses of dating famous people, you know. Wherever I go, I see his face or hear his name. It’s like Loveland itself won’t let me forget him.”
She toyed with the handle of her cup, her eyes downturned:
“Please forgive me for what I’m about to say… I know it’s not polite in the current situation, but… Victor is the most amazing man I have ever met.”

David clenched his jaw at that but tried to understand. It was good that SHE thought that way. Any other woman can think that way for all he cared; just not Nike.
“I understand, Stephanie, I feel the same about Nike.” He took a big sip of his coffee and Stephanie flashed him an endearing smile:
“Yes… I am aware she’s an amazing woman. I feel guilty for doing this but… When I met Victor, I really thought he was the one, you know? But then… I heard what people were saying… everybody thought he was in love with his secretary and that the only thing preventing him from making a move was the fact that she loved her boyfriend… that’s how I found out about you.”
She looked at him sheepishly:
“I know it sounds a bit creepy, but that’s celebrity magazines for you.”

David couldn’t help but feel a happy pang of pride in his chest. Even those filthy mags couldn’t say anything but that? That Nike loved him and was faithful? Then it must be true.
Stephanie sighed, continuing:
“As they… dug out; God that’s a horrible expression; more about you, I could understand it. Nobody has anything but praise for you, people love you. Did you know they call you Loveland’s Theatre Sweetheart?” She smiled at him and David snorted:
“My best friend did mention that. I thought he was just messing with me.”
“It’s true. I was really happy the situation is like that and that Nike doesn’t want anything to do with Victor but it still hurt to know your partner doesn’t consider you his number 1.”
“I know what you mean… call me silly, but I thought Nike didn’t consider me hers once she started working for LFG… it was always overtime and work, work, work… I barely saw her.”
“You’re not silly… it’s understandable to feel sad if your girlfriend has no time for you.”

David nodded before clenching his teeth:
“But now… now they ARE dating.”
“Yes. I am devastated… it’s like Victor finally got what he wanted and I know a bigger person would be happy for him, but I just can’t feel that. I want him to love ME.”
“Boy, do I get that.” David snorted again, taking another sip of now lukewarm coffee.
“So, what do you propose we do?” He inquired curiously and Stephanie cupped her chin in thought:
“There is one thing, but I must ask you… how far are you willing to go?”

David blinked, chuckling nervously:
“We’re not killing anyone, are we?” Stephanie blinked in surprise before laughing:
“Of course not, but… we will upset both of them, especially Nike. But before that… I’m sorry, but you will be upset, too.”
“Upset by what?” David felt nervousness creep into his gut:
“I’m so sorry…” Stephanie shook her head: “But… I heard your theatre recently got a new owner?”
“Yeees?” David was already sweating.
“That new owner is Victor.”

David clenched his fists on the table, taking a deep breath to steady his voice:
“Stephanie… do you mind if I smoke?”
“Not at all.”
He lit a cigarette with trembling fingers, taking a hungry drag to stop him from overreacting. That fucking bastard! Who did he think he was, BUYING David’s workplace! Was that a scare tactic, to stop him from ever approaching Nike unless he wants to be fired and probably ruined?
He would have preferred if the bastard challenged him to a fistfight.
What kind of possessive bullshit was that anyway? Marking territory like a fucking mutt?!
“I’m so sorry,” Stephanie repeated and David shook his head, his lips a thin line:
“It’s not your fault. Does Nike know about this?”
“I don’t think so… and that’s what I wanted to say. I think she should know. I strongly disapprove of what Victor did, that’s just not a decent thing to do and even I am angry with him about this.”

David took another drag of his cigarette:
“You’re right. She should know. I will tell her.”
“No. No, please.” She shook her head fervently:
“It will only create problems for you, with Victor.”
“Then what do you suggest?”
“Well, if she found out from a neutral source…”
“What neutral source?”

Stephanie reached for her Birkin, pulling out her cellphone:
“One of my friends owes me a favor. He’s the editor at Fame. If you are willing to wait, I can have it published in the next issue, it comes out in 10 days.”

Nike had just picked Luna’s dress up from the dry cleaner’s and was waiting for an Uber to take her to her friend’s place. She glanced at the time. 18:45.
She pulled up her texting app and texted Victor a donut emoji and a coffee emoji, essentially reminding him to take a break and eat something. She had no idea why she did that. Victor was a grown man, he could take care of himself. Yet, she knew he was in the habit of staying at the office until well past 10 in the evening without eating dinner.

Victor replied a few minutes later with a question mark. She giggled at her phone:
Remember to eat something, overtime-addict.
Her Uber arrived and she got in, only to notice his reply:
Eating nothing is better than eating donuts.
She rolled her eyes, suppressing another giggle so the driver doesn’t think she’s insane.
Excuse Raspberry for not including caviar emojis!
She tried to imagine his snorting face as he read that text.
Teasing me as usual. What did I do to deserve this?
She bit her lip, that giggle was difficult to suppress:
I’m teasing just a little, but mostly I’m expressing concern. Don’t skip meals!

Several minutes passed and Victor wasn’t replying. Nike got out of the car and entered Luna’s building, checking her phone every few seconds before she realized she’s acting desperate and her phone would ping when she received a text anyway. She put it in her bag.

“NyNy! Just in time, the apple pie is cooling down!”
Luna let her in before they kissed each other on the cheek and Nike handed her the bag with the dress:
“Thank you so much, you’re a lifesaver.”
“Anytime.” Luna winked and went to hang the dress in the closet as Nike inhaled the delicious smell of Luna’s homemade pie.
Luna worked at her family’s catering company, which was the main reason her wardrobe was much more fancy dress-heavy than Nike’s. They often did posh events.

Luna served them a slice of pie each, being generous with whipped cream as usual and they settled on the sofa, Luna browsing through the menu of movies available at one of the streaming services she was subscribed to:
“What are you in the mood for? Wanna watch a rom-com, or maybe some action movie?”
“How about the new Predator?”
“Nike, that came out 2 years ago, it’s hardly new.”
“Well, I haven’t seen it yet.”
“I have, but I could watch it again, it will be fun. So… how did Mr. Billionaire react to the dress? Did his jaw hit the floor?” Luna teased and Nike laughed, rolling her eyes:
“Don’t call him that, his name is Victor. Well… I think he did like it.”
“You think?”
“His pupils dilated.”
“His pupils… what? That’s it? No “you look gorgeous” no “c’ mere and lemme kiss ya”, no nothing?”

Nike laughed:
“Victor is not the most verbally expressive person… or facially expressive for that matter. Believe me, the pupils are a big deal.”
Luna shook her head, laughing:
“If I went through the trouble of dolling myself up in a Valentino only for the guy to make cocaine pupils at me; I’d have been pissed!”
“Cocaine pupils… what the fuck is that? And the dress was VALENTINO and you just gave it to clumsy old me?”
Luna waved her hand dismissively:
“It was thrifted, do you seriously think I can afford a new Valentino dress? It’s like… 10k!”
“Damn…” Nike whistled. “I have to start going to that thrift store!”

They both laughed and Luna found the new Predator movie on her list.
“Man, I love these movies… I love them more than Alien!”
“How dare you!” Luna feigned shock “You can’t just say that… you know the first Alien is a classic?”
“Nothing can be as classic as 80s cringey Schwarzi!” Nike laughed and Luna rolled her eyes:
“I never understood your penchant for cringe. Anyway, watch the movie!”

Some 20 or so minutes into the movie, Luna paused it, realizing they both needed more juice and went to grab a refill and Nike heard her phone. Her belly fluttering, she opened the text message, only to see Victor had sent her a photo of a plate on his desk at the office, some salmon and colorful veggies on it.
Happy now? You little nag.

He must’ve had it delivered. Well, at least it was something healthier than pizza, that would be what she would’ve ordered for herself. And he actually listened to her!

Yes, I’m happy. You giant softie.

Stop calling me a giant softie.

Luna returned, chuckling at her best friend as she laid the glasses on the table:
“Stop sexting!”
“I’m not!” Nike shouted defensively right before she glanced at Victor’s next message:
You’re just begging to be punished.

She blushed furiously, the spanking fantasy immediately coming to mind.
“That’s not a blush of someone who’s not sexting!” Luna teased further as Nike smacked her on the shoulder when she sat back on the sofa.
She pouted as she typed out her reply:
Don’t make me blush now, my friend is already teasing me.

Then I should double down, but I have more work to do so you’re off the hook for now. Call you later.

She just sent him a kissing emoji and put her phone away:
“Sorry. I reminded him to eat dinner before I arrived and he had to go and get all sassy with me.”
Luna clicked her tongue:
“Judging by your grin, you liked it. And reminding him to eat, come on!”
“Well, I have to! He usually has lunch at 1 and then nothing… and works until 10 on a good day.”
Luna kept nodding at her, the teasing smile still on her face:
“You’re done. Head over heels. Worrying over his meals. Should I thrift another dress to attend your wedding in?”
“Thrift me a Vera Wang wedding dress while you’re at it.” Nike stuck her tongue out.
“Marrying a billionaire in a thrifted dress. Now that’s a good movie premise!”
“Starring Emma Stone and Henry Cavill.”
“With Jennifer Lawrence as the bride’s best friend!”
“Oh come on, you’re prettier than Jennifer Lawrence!”
“I know, but it’s a sacrifice I am willing to make!” Luna put a hand on her heart dramatically.

Nike got home at around 10 and texted Victor before she went for a quick shower, wondering how she became so addicted to talking to him.
He called her a while later:

“Hey, little nag.”
“Hey, giant softie.”
She could hear him sigh and imagined him pinching the bridge of his nose:
“You’re really pushing it, you know.”
“Sorry.” She giggled, not feeling sorry at all. “But you’re just cute.”
“I’m cute? I thought I was a… sadistic dickhead prick?”
“Yeah… when you’re not cute.”
Victor sighed again, grumbling:
“Why me, Lord.”
Nike laughed before she decided to stop teasing him:
“So, how was your day?”
“Same as usual. You know how my days are. Yours?”
“Well, I went to Luna’s after work. Luna is my best friend.”
“Had fun?”
“Yeah, we watched the new Predator movie. Have you seen it?”
“I’ve never seen a single Predator movie.”
“What’s your favorite movie, Victor?”
“I don’t have one. I don’t often watch movies.”
“Ah, yeah, I forgot, you don’t have the time.”

Victor chuckled at this and Nike smiled, enjoying the sound.
“But you do. What’s your favorite movie?”
“Well, I already know you’ve seen it. Bladerunner.”
“Alright, what’s your second-favorite?”
“Probably Fight Club.”
“Good to know.”

Nike wondered what he meant before he continued:
“Any weekend plans?”
“Not yet. Why?”
“Because I want to see you, of course. We can arrange everything on Friday.”
“Alright. Have your people call my people.”
She heard him scoff:
“You’re impossible. And it’s late. Sleep well, Nike.”
“Goodnight, Victor.”

She fell asleep that night with a smile on her face, hugging her pillow.

It was Friday afternoon and Nike entered her apartment sneezing three times in a row. The AC at her office must be harsher than she thought, she seemed to have caught a cold.
She cursed the timing, not wanting to be a sniffling mess over the weekend. Oh well. She might feel better by tomorrow morning if she really cranks up on Vitamin C tonight.

When Victor called, she was on her third glass of freshly squeezed lemonade, fearful she’s turning highlighter yellow:

“Off work already, Victor? It’s not even 8!”
“Even I deserve an early Friday.” Victor paused: “Have you been crying?”
His tone turned serious and Nike couldn’t help but giggle:
“No, my nose is just a little stuffy.”
“Are you sick?”
“Probably nothing serious. The AC got to me. I’ll be fine.”
Victor made a small humming noise:
“Well, now I definitely know what we’re doing over the weekend.”
“I just picked up two copies of Storm Front. I also make very good chicken soup. Want me to come and pick you up now?”
“Pick me up?”
“That’s what I said. If you’re sick, it would be best for you to rest over the weekend. We can probably even finish the book.”
Nike’s brows furrowed. Was he saying…
“Wait. What exactly is your weekend plan?”
“I thought it was clear. You spending it at my place.”
When she didn’t immediately reply, Victor continued, a hint of annoyance in his voice:
“No, you won’t get me sick and yes, you can choose your bedroom.”

Nike chuckled at that:
“Well, guess I won’t ask you if you’re sure and if it’s really okay. Give me an hour to pack a few things.”
“Don’t overpack.” Victor teased before he hung up.

Chapter Text

Stephanie was sitting on a sofa in her luxurious penthouse apartment, drinking mineral water. She briefly checked her makeup against the glossy screen of her phone. She finished getting ready a little early, her driver was supposed to pick her up in about 20 minutes. She usually enjoyed clubbing, wherever she appeared, people would stare in awe and shower her with compliments and any club she appeared at would instantly earn a prestigious trendy status, if it didn’t already have one. After all, who doesn’t want to pay for overpriced, watered-down cocktails in a place they knew a supermodel could appear?
She just hoped that stupid new soap-opera actress wouldn’t decide to go out tonight as well. Stephanie couldn’t have anyone trying to take her spotlight away.
She was supposed to be the winner, number 1.

Angrily, she thought about her earlier meeting with David.
Of course, his clothes were cheap and baggy and he wasn’t clean-shaven but even Stephanie couldn’t say he was a bad-looking guy. She knew he had a relatively solid career as well and was popular in his circle, almost everybody saying nice things about him. He was more than good enough for Nike.
So why couldn’t that ginger bitch stay in her lane?
What the fuck was she able to offer to a man like Victor?
Yeah, she was a pretty little thing, but if Victor wanted pretty, that at least wasn’t difficult to find.

Maybe she was a fun project for him? My Fair Lady type of thing? Did he want to take a little bumpkin and turn her into a lady in exchange for her adoration?
It was possible. But why was he so hellbent on that particular bumpkin?

Stephanie didn’t really want Victor back. Not exactly. Victor was extremely rich and handsome and an amazing choice to have on your arm at events, a very good look in the media; the investment genius dating the most gorgeous supermodel on the continent, maybe even in the world?
They did call her the new Linda Evangelista, after all.
But she never particularly enjoyed Victor’s company. He didn’t talk much and when he did, it was almost always something that made him seem annoyed. He never gave her compliments or fawned over her.
Yes, he was a gentleman and a great kisser, which made her think at least sex would be good.
And then it felt weird. Technically, it was perfect, Victor knew what to do and he was doing it better than she even hoped for. But… she didn’t feel special enough.
It was almost like he wasn’t all there. Like he could be doing that same thing with any other woman and that was what bothered Stephanie the most. She couldn’t complain about his performance, her physical needs were more than met. But… he didn’t seem happy enough that he was getting to sleep with her.

She was used to men literally worshipping her and Victor just didn’t.
She first put two and two together when she saw he had his eyes closed most of the time.
Why wouldn’t he want to look at her, she was most likely the most beautiful woman he’s ever touched?
And then she caught wind of the rumors and grew so angry she could’ve wrung his neck.
Was he… thinking about that tiny ginger bitch?!
Why would anyone in their right mind be doing that? What did that midget have that Stephanie didn’t?
Was it a power trip? Did Victor get a kick out of being her boss? Was it a bucket list type of thing; maybe he never banged a ginger or an employee? What the hell could it be; it most definitely couldn’t be that he considered THAT more attractive than Stephanie!

When her driver arrived, she got into the car with a sour look on her face and used the ride to practice her photograph smile. Stephanie Connors was perfect goddamn it!

Victor led Nike through one of the maze-like hallways of his apartment, her compact weekend bag in his hand. He opened the door to the first guest bedroom:
“You can have this one…”
He moved on to the other room:
“Or this one.”

Nike was suppressing giggles all the while:
“What’s the difference?”
“One of them faces East and the other North.”
“I’ll take the East one, then.”
“Alright.” He laid the bag on a chair in the room:
“I’m going to take a shower and get dinner started.” He pointed at a door on the other side of the room:
“That’s your bathroom, you can take a bath if you want to, you’ll find the towels in the cabinet. Join me in the living room whenever you’re ready.”

Nike nibbled on her lip, seemingly wanting to say something and Victor cocked an eyebrow:
“Say it.”
“Uhm… I just… it’s down the hall, right, down the stairs and then the second left?”
“Do you want me to draw you a map? The place isn’t THAT big!”
“You haven’t answered my question.”
“Yeah, that’s right. Or I could pick you up so you don’t get lost.”
He teased and Nike rolled her eyes:
“Okay, you don’t have to be mean. It’s just that I wasn’t leaving a breadcrumbs trail on my way to this room.”
Victor chuckled at this, his eyes glinting:
“I won’t be stuffing you full of sweets if that’s what you’re implying.”
He stepped toward her, laying his lips against her forehead and Nike’s arms wrapped around him:
“You don’t seem to be having a fever.”
“Yeah, it’s not a serious cold, Victor, just a sniffle.”
He murmured, dipping his head lower to kiss her and she stood on her tiptoes, welcoming the warmth of his lips as he pulled her closer. She was beginning to think Victor had the Best Kisser trophy hidden away somewhere.

She managed to find the living room area without much trouble and her eyes immediately locked on Victor, clad in a white T-shirt and navy drawstring pants. So this was him in his lounging-at-home clothes. She stared at his muscular arms and that firm butt for a while.
He turned around briefly:
“Come get your tea.”
Oh! His hair was damp and slicked away from his forehead and she found herself thinking he was even more attractive like this. She never saw Victor’s forehead and immediately wondered how it was possible to be turned on by a forehead. She must be going crazy.

She settled on the barstool and Victor poured her a cup of hot tea.

“Your slippers are ridiculous.” He remarked although she could see a smile tugging at the corners of his eyes. She brought her soft fuzzy pink slippers and was currently wearing them.
“These are the comfiest slippers that ever existed. I’ll buy you a pair. They will be just like these, color and all.”
“I’m fine, thank you.”
“Don’t tell me you’re afraid of pink.”
“I’m afraid of rocking them better than you.”
Nike laughed, wiggling her foot:
“Sassy! I welcome the challenge.”
“Don’t complain when it happens then. I’m a size 44.”

Nike grinned over her cup. He would seriously accept those slippers! Just the thought of Victor in pink fuzzy slippers made her giddy. He will kill her with cuteness if he keeps this up.

He laid out the dinner in front of her and she again stared, flabbergasted. How could he have made this elaborate meal in such a short time?!

“Okay, Victor, I have a serious question.”
“Shoot.” Replied Victor, giving her the chopsticks.
“Where did you park the TARDIS?”
“The what?”
“The TARDIS, you know, since you’re obviously a Time Lord.”
Victor’s brow quirked in amusement before he smirked, genuinely interested:
“A Time Lord?”
“Yeah, you have time for a bunch of hobbies even though you always work overtime and you pull these meals off in what seems like a blink of an eye! Sadly, you’re STILL not ginger, though!”
Victor leaned on his hands, the amusement and confusion mixed on his features:
“So, these Time Lords have to be gingers? Like you?”
Nike couldn’t suppress her laughter anymore:
“Oh come on, don’t tell me you’ve never seen Dr. Who?!”
“He’s a human-looking alien, a Time Lord who travels in his time and space ship that looks like a police box and… well, does a lot of running!”
She reveled in the disbelieving face Victor gave her:
“Oh, and he also has a sonic screwdriver and assumes a new form whenever he dies! It’s a great excuse to change actors.”
“Is this a TV show?” Victor finally managed, still shocked by the bizarre, yet completely accurate synopsis.
“Yeah. It’s been on for decades. The Doctor is currently female, for the first time.”
“Is she ginger?”
“Nope. No Doctor has ever been ginger. They always complain about it after regenerating.”
“Can’t they choose to be?”
“Well, obviously not. I don’t know exactly but I think they regenerate into a likeness of someone they met some time. At random.”
“That’s very elaborate for a kids’ show.”
“It’s not a kids’ show!” Nike protested. “Well, okay, it might be… but it’s not! Argh, you have to watch it to understand, it sounds silly but it’s actually a great show!”

Victor chuckled softly, finally sitting down and grabbing his own chopsticks:
“You’ll never stop surprising me.”
“Yes, I am an Oodball like that.”
“I’m sure that’s a reference I’m too much of an adult to understand.”
“You’d be adulting your way through tears during that episode!”
“My turn to welcome a challenge.”

Nike beamed at him even through his teasing. She knew Victor was serious and totally not geeky but he seemed very open to things, even things that sounded as crazy as Dr. Who. The rabbit hole of her growing infatuation with this man was growing ever deeper.

The dinner was delicious and this time, Victor even accepted her help with cleaning up before he gave her the books and a blanket, taking two cups of tea himself:
“To the sofa.”
“Is that an order?” Nike wiggled her brows and met his gaze and Victor just tilted his head and nodded.
She went to the sofa.
They settled down and Victor ignored her protests before he covered her legs with the blanket:
“You’re not wearing socks.”
She glanced at his feet:
“Neither are you.”
“I’m not the one with a cold.”
“You will be without socks.”
“Well then, share the blanket.”

Was that his masterplan all along? Nike chuckled as she nuzzled his chest, opening the book.
They read in silence for a while before she felt her eyelids getting heavy. The sofa was comfy and she felt warm, the steady rise and fall of Victor’s chest against her cheek lulling her to sleep and she finally lowered the book and closed her eyes. His chest rumbled softly as he chuckled:
“Don’t sleep here.”
“It’s cozy here.” She murmured.
“It will be even cozier in bed.”
She shook her head, tightening her hold around his waist:
“Nope. I like this pillow.”
Victor chuckled again, laying his own book aside:
“Idiot. Come on, let’s go to bed.”

He picked her up and she wrapped her arms and legs around him. The giant softie. She finally murmured the question that has been gnawing at her the entire evening:
“How are you single…”
She only realized she’d said it out loud when Victor snorted:
“I am?”
That woke her up. Her heart fluttered as Victor took her up the stairs and she giggled:
“My bad. I meant how WERE you single.”
“Well… you’re great. You’re spoiling me.”
“Are you complaining?” came Victor’s defensive reply as his muscles tensed and she giggled:
“No! I’m literally telling you you’re too good.”
“Nonsense.” She could hear he pursed his lips as he said that and wondered if he was blushing.
“You need to work on accepting a compliment.”
“You’re awfully chatty tonight.”
Nike let out an exaggerated sigh:
“Sweet and difficult.” She kissed him on the cheek.
“Do you want me as your pillow or not?”
“Of course I do. Please, be my pillow, Victor.” She asked sweetly.

He sighed and shook his head:
“Little manipulator. We’re going to my room.”

Chapter Text

Luna has decided to go out after a long time. She wasn’t a big drinker, but that evening, she was in the mood for some cocktails. She texted Nike and a couple of their other friends in the group chat and Nike said she was spending the weekend at Victor’s, which ensued in a bunch of “you go, girl”, “raise that boy’s stock”, “invest in his D!” and other ridiculous words of encouragement.

Luna was still a little skeptical over the whole thing but she didn’t want to baby Nike. She was an adult, she could make her decisions. David had called her a few days prior but she never returned his call. Nike was angry with him, he was probably also angry with her and Luna just didn’t want to be in that sandwich.
Sighing deeply, she put on her heels and called a cab. She would meet her friends at the club, it was the club they used to frequent back in the day but were now only able to go to every once in a while.

It got redecorated, she noticed as she stepped inside, the loud dance music blaring from the speakers and colorful lights playfully gleaming in almost unpredictable patterns.
After some navigating, she realized she can’t see her friends anywhere. They were either late or she somehow missed them, so she decided to walk around the place one more time, skillfully avoiding elbows and shoulders of some enthusiastic dancers.
A guy approached her. He was burly and had slicked-back black hair and a huge grin on his face. He leaned into her to ask her to dance. Luna explained that she was looking for her friends, yelling into his ear over the music. The guy made a disappointed face and tried to convince her, now uncomfortably close and when she shook her head, he grabbed her by the waist.

Luna froze as the guy pulled her toward him. He didn’t seem drunk but she noticed his eyes looked kinda crazy now that she was up close. He probably took something. He swayed her to the music, grinding against her and she tried to push him away, her desperation and disgust growing by the second when she suddenly realized one of his arms left her waist only for the other to dart away from it too as the guy’s face twisted in pain and she noticed his arm was being twisted behind his back by a young brown-haired man with big, almost child-like eyes. He held him effortlessly, his face stern as he flashed a police badge and said something to the man, to which he stammered and scurried away like a frightened dog.

The young man readjusted his denim jacket and put the badge in his pocket again before he approached her:

“Are you alright?”
“Yes, thank you!” Luna shouted in relief and the man nodded with a small smile:
“No need to thank me. Do you know that man?”
“No! I was looking for my friends and he just approached me and wouldn’t take no for an answer.”
“Do you need help finding your friends?”
“I said: I can help you get to your friends!”
Luna’s eyes lit up. Surely, she’d be safe from the grabby guys with a policeman.
“Thank you, officer! Are you sure it’s no trouble?”
“Of course it’s not. And please call me Gavin.”
“Sorry… Kevin?”
“Oh!” She twitched in embarrassment. Eyeing officer Gavin a bit better, she noticed he was very handsome. Cute even. His eyes seemed to be light brown, but she couldn’t tell exactly.
“My name is Luna!”
“Una?” He put his hand next to his ear and tilted his head to the side.
“Luna!” She repeated only to see him laugh. The corners of his eyes crinkled:
“I heard you, I’m just joking!”
She blushed. He had an adorable smile.

They managed to find her friends after a few minutes and Luna was almost sad she had to part ways with the cute officer as he smiled:
“Delivered safely. Have a good time, girls!”
He waved at all of them, casting Luna another glance before she lost him in the crowd.

Leaning in from their places in the booth in the far end of the club, where the music wasn’t so obnoxiously loud, her friends were getting ready to grill her:

“Who is that?” Donna asked, wiggling her eyebrows: “He’s cute!”
“He’s a police officer. Some guy got grabby with me as I was looking for you guys, but Gavin drove him away and offered me help.”
“Oooh, well done, officer gentleman Gavin!” Maya whistled: “Hope you got his number, at least!”
“We barely spent 5 minutes together.” Luna protested although she wished they’d spent more. It was kind of a guilty pleasure thing, but she always liked men in uniform. Although Gavin wasn’t currently wearing one, getting his number and getting to know him better might have resulted in her getting a chance to see him in it.
“That’s more than enough, why didn’t you ask?”
“To be honest, I have no idea,” Luna grumbled. It wasn’t like her to miss a flirting opportunity. She must have still been in shock after that black-haired guy’s assault.
“Well, in that case, you have no choice but to hope he’ll pull you over someday. Start speeding, girl!”
Donna joked and all the girls laughed.

The evening was nice, they had a few drinks, talked about their current situations at work and their respective social lives, joked just like good old times and finally decided it was time to call it a night a couple of hours later.
They left the club together, calling a taxi and Luna realized her gaze was searching the crowd, hoping to see Gavin. No such luck. Seems she really missed her chance with the cute officer.
Maybe it’s for the better. He probably helps people with everyday problems on the regular and is super annoyed when they start flirting with him afterward.

She pulled her leather jacket tighter around her body. When did it get this windy?!

The bed was as soft as a cloud and about the size of one, Nike thought as Victor laid her on it:
“Let me just take my contacts out. Try not to fall asleep or I’ll be offended as a pillow.”
She giggled and he disappeared in the bathroom only to return a couple of minutes later, clapping the lights off as he got into the bed next to her.
Nike was enjoying the scent. The bedding smelled faintly of roses and had another soft scent she now learned to recognize as Victor’s shampoo. He settled, adjusting the covers as he laid on his back and she snuggled up next to him, laying her head on his shoulder, her arm wrapping around his waist as she nuzzled his neck. How could he feel this firm yet this comfortable, she wondered. She inhaled his scent and let his warmth lull her back into drowsiness as he ran his fingers through her hair slowly. She sighed in contentment, it felt so nice.
She felt herself drifting off to sleep, only to have that horrible feeling she sometimes had in this situation. Everybody knows the one. You’re half-asleep and then suddenly you jerk, feeling like you were walking down the stairs and missed a step.
Unintentionally, her fingers gripped at Victor’s side and she felt him twitch with a surprised hiss:
“What happened?” He asked, his voice still sounding awake.
“Weird half-dream.” She mumbled only to knit her brows when she realized Victor’s entire body got stiff. Like he was on high alert all of a sudden.
“Did I scare you? I’m sorry.”
“It’s alright,” Victor grumbled, shifting slightly. Nike wanted to laugh, he was so adorable, but then she noticed he shifted so her hand would be slightly lower from its place on his ribs.
A devilish smirk played on her features. Could he be…? Time to test her long-standing hypothesis.

“Are you…” Her fingers playfully danced across his ribs and he stiffened again: “Ticklish?”
“No.” He replied a little too quickly and Nike giggled:
“Really?” She tickled him again and he let out a barely audible sound as he squirmed:
“Stop that. Brat.”
“Why would you mind if you weren’t ticklish? Liar.” She nibbled on his neck as she tried to tickle him again but he grabbed her hand:
“I said stop that.” He repeated, entwining his fingers with hers and keeping her hand in place:
“Unless you want me to retaliate.”

Nike was extremely ticklish herself and didn’t feel like cry-laughing at that moment:
“Okay, I’ll stop. I was just very curious.”
“About whether you were ticklish.” She explained, suddenly feeling very bold:
“When you never ever smiled and were always such a sourpuss, I wondered if it was even possible to make you laugh through tickling or if your model was simply built without a full range of emotion.”
Victor snorted, his thumb massaging her palm:
“Are you calling me a budget model?” His voice dropped in mock-threat.
“I wouldn’t dream of it, sir.” She teased back and Victor’s hold on her tightened:
“What did I say about that?”
“Well, we ARE in bed.” Nike could barely suppress her desire to shout “ha!” triumphantly.
“Wipe that grin off your face.”
“You can’t even see my face!”
“I can hear the grin.” He replied and she laughed.
“Besides, I stipulated the specific conditions to be fulfilled.”
“I’m sorry. I’m afraid my goldfish memory is to blame here. I don’t remember the conditions.”

Victor sighed in exasperation:
“You really are a little manipulator.”
She was about to respond when he flipped them over, trapping her under him, his hands on either side of her head:
“So now you want me to remind you?”
Even in the dark of the room, she could still catch a glimpse of his face, his brows knit together slightly and the line of his jaw silver in the moonlight:
“I am afraid it is a bit hazy, yes. You mentioned a bed or any other place we might be… ducking? Lucking? It’s not easy being golden.”

Victor bit his lower lip in what she suspected was an attempt to not laugh as he leaned in on one of his elbows:

“Guess again.” His lips brushed against her cheek as he whispered, his hair grazing her skin as he laid tiny pecks down her cheek and along her jawline and she wrapped her arms around his waist:
“Not quite.”
He suddenly bit on her neck and she hissed in surprise, his warm tongue soothing the skin as his murmur coursed through her whole body and she shivered, her fingertips sinking into his back over the T-shirt.
He captured her earlobe between his teeth, dragging them along the shell of her ear, his breath scorching and her skin crawled in anticipation.

She arched into him, trying to pull him closer only to earn herself a sharp nibble on the ear, her hands moving under his T-shirt and raking up his back. She heard his sharp inhale as his free hand ran along her side. She laid both her palms on his back and let them run across his surprisingly soft skin.

Victor’s hand stopped at her waist as he put some space between them again, his eyes locking with hers. She got accustomed to the darkness in the room and was now able to discern his features, his lips slightly parted and hair just a little disheveled:

“Are you giving up?” His brow quirked and she smiled at him and just nodded. No matter how much she liked teasing Victor, other things she wanted to do with him were threatening to make her serious.
With a devilish chuckle, his smoldering gaze made her skin tingle as he murmured softly:

“I said fucking.”
She briefly contemplated whether to feign surprise or have him continue his ministrations when his smirk turned menacing:
“But you seem to prefer getting on my nerves.”
Nike’s heart thumped in an odd mixture of excitement and nervousness:
“I was just joking.” She attempted meekly but Victor shook his head:
“So, you were lying to me.”

Her skin crawled as he readjusted himself, only to have both his palms at her sides on the bed again, his knee separating her legs:
“I didn’t appreciate the jokes.” He spoke slowly, her gaze firmly affixed on his face. With the strict expression she knew all too well and a voice so alluring she thought they matched perfectly, Victor leaned in:
“I might have to teach you how to take me seriously.”
Her eyes widened:
Nike blinked in confusion but Victor continued:
“If you want me to stop, say “pudding” at any time.”
“Stop what?” She asked dumbly and Victor straightened up on the bed and took his T-shirt off, tossing it aside:
“Whatever it is that I might do now.”

Even as her eyes immediately roamed over his torso, she felt her cheeks burn as she swallowed:
“That sounds scary.”
“You should’ve thought of that before you started running your mouth.”

He scooted down on the bed until he was kneeling between her ankles, fingertips grazing down her legs, the top of her foot and all the way down to her soles. She involuntarily twitched and Victor clicked his tongue:
“Stay still.” He commanded and she clenched her teeth against the impulse to pull her feet away and escape the feather-light ticklish touch on her soles:
“Let’s see how long until you apologize. I’m not stopping until you do.”
He tickled her soles and she whined, feeling she wouldn’t be able to withstand this even once more:
“Please stop.” She tried through a nervous giggle and Victor shook his head:
“That’s not an apology.”
He tickled again and her legs jerked up as she bent them in the knees, soles seeking shelter on the bed. Victor was completely unfazed:
“Bring them back here.” He demanded.
“I’m sorry!” She blurted out and Victor tilted his head:
“What are you apologizing for?”
“I’m sorry for teasing you. I will stop, just don’t tickle me, please!”

Victor chuckled at that and she stared at his face:
“I really thought you would be more stubborn than this. Guess I found your weak spot?”
He was right. She would have done much more than simply apologize if it would save her from having her feet tickled. Victor motioned with his hand:
“Put your legs back down.”
“Will you tickle me if I do?”
“You did apologize. Tickling you now would make you distrust me.”

She lowered her legs tentatively and Victor’s eyes narrowed:
“I don’t go back on my word.”
He leaned down, taking her ankle in his hand and laying a kiss on the top of her foot:
“But tease me like that again and I will tickle you again. Maybe even not give you a way to pull back.”

She nodded, her pulse drumming in her ears. She was confused. She hated being tickled and she couldn’t understand why it was making her excited now.
Victor kept kissing up her leg, surprising her with tiny nips and long passes of the tongue until all other thoughts melted from her brain.
Nike realized nobody ever actually paid much attention to her calves or shins before. As Victor slowly went up her leg, her body melted into the mattress, enjoying the sensations as heat pooled in her lower belly the further up he went.
His hand hooked right above the backside of her knee, he started kissing up her inner thighs and she reached out to place her fingers in his hair when he bit on the soft flesh, murmuring as he shook his head:
“Hands on your sides.”

She obeyed and could feel his smirk against her skin as his teeth grazed her skin gently, tongue peeking through only to tease her and she squirmed as he inched closer and closer to her core. He nipped on her inner thigh, right below the hem of her shorts before focusing on her other leg.

Nike felt like she was melting and stiffening all at the same time, his attentions making her nerves feel taut like strings with his seemingly endless patience. By the time he was kissing the arch of her other foot, she was putty in his hands and Victor finally felt satisfied, inching up, his right hand sliding along her leg, hot palm scorching her, up, up, over her hip, his fingertips delving under her shirt. They grazed along her stomach softly as his face came into her line of sight, only to stop at her ribs.

She was trembling, her fingers digging into the mattress as she nodded as if to answer an unspoken question and his hand continued up, fingers finally brushing along the outline of her breast.
He leaned in to capture her lips and she eagerly returned the kiss, her lips parting and welcoming his tongue as he teased her, his fingers grazing the soft flesh, rubbing against the nipple and she shivered, gripping the sheets, her back arching into his touch.

He broke the kiss, eyes gleaming with lust before pulling her shirt up and Nike sat up slightly, raising her arms to help him take it off.
His gaze enveloped her and she suddenly felt sheepish even as her pussy tingled treacherously. He pulled her into an embrace, lifting her back off the mattress, tongue gliding along her collarbones as she held onto his arms for support. He trailed kisses along her chest, every time he would nip at her skin, she would feel like a small part of her sanity was gone and as his tongue flicked her nipple, she hissed softly, causing him to do it again, self-satisfied smirk still on his face.

She gripped onto his biceps as he sucked, his warm mouth making her nipple hard enough to nibble on and she moaned, trying to pull him even closer and Victor let her. His hardness pressing into her thigh, she gasped before inching her leg curiously against it. That was… big.

Victor nuzzled her neck, chuckling softly at how her entire body stiffened right before he shifted away enough to run his fingers over her shorts, along her slit and she closed her eyes in delight:

“Look at me.” He nearly growled into her ear and she obeyed, hips subconsciously arching into his hand, the fabric clinging to her core with wetness.
His pupils blown to the point where his eyes nearly looked black, Victor’s fingers hooked under the waistband of her shorts and he arched a questioning eyebrow at her. She nodded, biting on her lip and his eyes narrowed into menacing slits right before he deftly slid both her shorts and her underwear down her legs, tossing them blindly to the other side of the bed.

He loomed over her in a tall kneel, eyes hungrily drinking her in and she almost felt like he was fucking her with his gaze and she squirmed involuntarily, unable to close her thighs to get any friction as she felt herself drip on the sheets beneath her.

Nike always knew Victor was handsome and even if those biceps or his chiseled abs weren’t immediately noticeable under his suits, she suspected they were there. But her eyes were drawn to his face at that moment, eyes dark and his lips slightly parted as his long fingers trailed across her hipbones, inching so close to her core but never touching her, down to her inner thighs, a soft touch, barely there, but making her squirm eagerly. A strangled moan stopped in her throat as he smirked upon picking up her wetness from the innermost part of her upper thighs, hands spreading her legs further and fingers roaming along the outer part of her labia, so slowly she thought he was torturing her and not caressing her. A single finger ran along her slit and she whined softly, his eyes locked on hers making her cheeks heat up with a blush.

“Yes?” Victor inquired evilly, his finger still teasing as he let her arch her hips into his touch but always keeping it just out of reach.
“You’re teasing me.” She whispered and his finger made a non-committal circle around her clit, making her clench her teeth.
“Observant.” He leaned in toward her, the pad of his finger rubbing against her clit before he trailed down her slit again, teasing her entrance:
“What are you going to do about it?”
His voice was a low purr as he supported himself with his free hand, looming above her, those eyes fanning the flames of her lust almost more effectively than his hand.
He looked even hotter than she imagined he would. She arched her hips, trying to get his finger to enter her and Victor’s smirk deepened as he shook his head. His hand pulled away briefly, only to deliver a smack to her pussy. It was not strong but her eyes still widened in shock, her mind trying to comprehend the lewd sound of the impact upon her wetness and the warmth spreading through her as a result.
Victor chuckled:
“Wrong answer. But…” He smacked her again and this time, she gasped, her eyes still affixed to his:
“You seem to like this.”
The heat in her cheeks deepened even as she nodded and felt her pussy gush and Victor tilted his head slightly, fingers sliding to pick up the new wetness, spreading it around her core:
“Think. How can you get what you want now?”

Nike tried to focus on his question but all she could pay attention to was how he slid those fingers along her core again and brought them to his lips, tongue picking up her wetness as she gripped the sheets in frustration, her brain on autopilot:
Victor took his time licking his fingers, pretending not to have heard her and her gaze was locked with his mouth, her chest heaving as she noticed his features set into almost the same expression as when he ate pudding, pleased and almost relaxed, but the underlying hunger making her pussy throb for him.
“Please what?” He inquired, hand returning to tease her and her jaw clenched:
“Please…” She attempted, a circle on her clit making her gulp: “Please fuck me.”

Victor shook his head in mock-disappointment, his hand stilling:
“Try again.”
Nike’s mind swam as his hand cupped her pussy, small enough to fit in his palm and through her haze, she finally understood what he wanted and she felt her ears burning even as she grinned:
“Please fuck me, Sir.”
“Took you a while, but you got there.”
Victor’s features darkened as his middle finger finally slid inside her and she moaned:
“Good girl.” He murmured and his brow twitched as she clenched around his finger at the praise. He circled the finger slowly, letting it sink deeper, past the second knuckle:
“Oh, you like being praised, don’t you?”
She averted her gaze sheepishly even as she arched her back into his touch and nodded. Victor lowered himself on the bed, his closeness compelling her to look at him, his breath scorching her as he whispered right next to her lips:
“Well, then, try to be really, really good.”

She nodded again, biting her lip as he started pumping the finger in and out, his lips trailing kisses along her neck and down her collarbones, nipping at the skin and Nike’s fingers entwined in his hair:
“Please. More. Sir.” Each word came in a breathy whisper and in the back of her mind, she still could ask herself why was this turning her on so much.
She was never in a situation like this before. She never had to beg in bed, she never had to use any kind of title in bed, if anything, more often than not, she was the one in control of the situation.

But it was difficult to imagine Victor giving up control. Even now, when she could clearly see he wanted her, he seemed perfectly composed and patient and it was just turning her on.

“How much more do you want?” He teased, nibbling on her heated earlobe and she squirmed against him as his finger curled and rubbed against a sensitive spot deep inside:
“More. You. Inside.” She was aware she was barely making sense but that was the best she could do at the moment. Victor added another finger and she moaned, gripping his hair.
“Like that?” He murmured before dipping down to nibble on her nipple and she shook her head and nodded at the same time:
“Yes… no. I want you. Please.”

She lifted her leg to try to brush her thigh against his hardness only to whimper when he pulled his fingers out and locked eyes with her again:
“You’re not making much sense.” He mock-frowned, his wet fingers running up her stomach, between her breasts and straight to her lips, his gaze threatening and she parted her lips and grazed her tongue against his digits before sucking them in and Victor nodded briefly, pumping his fingers in and out of her mouth:
“Good girl. You taste great.”
She moaned around his fingers before he gently pulled them out, running them back down her torso as he readjusted himself and took her leg to throw it over his shoulder, blowing warm air on her pussy:
“And you’re so very wet for me.”
He ran his tongue along her slit and she moaned, unable to prevent it as she threw her head back. His tongue slid up and down, soft lips enveloping her inner labia and giving her a gentle suck, making her hips buck when he switched his attention to her clit and she whimpered his name softly, making him chuckle against her, the vibration causing her to arch further into him. He prodded her with his tongue and she felt her legs tremble. He caressed her thigh as he pulled her further up, tongue roaming, lips sucking and teeth grazing until she felt boneless like his hold was the only thing keeping her from dissolving on the mattress.

Her fingers blindly gripped around her and she didn’t care what was it that she was grabbing as her heart raced and her whole body felt like it was burning as he brought her so close to the edge that every nerve in her body was pulled taut. His fingers reentered her slowly and she let out a loud moan that only spurred Victor on as his mouth focused on her clit and she was keening through clenched teeth and just as he curled his fingers to rub against that special spot inside of her, she fell apart, whining and whimpering his name along with something incomprehensible as she gushed around his fingers and Victor throbbed, his cock still confined in his pants, now straining against the wet patch it made a while back.
He knew he couldn’t be patient much longer. He had wanted this for months on end and now that he had her in his arms, begging him and falling apart so sweetly for him, he was feeling like an enraged beast. She tasted so delicious and she was so hot and tight that he wanted to keep taking her until the morning until she begged him to stop.

He kissed her thighs, allowing her to come down from her high, but she was still shivering and whimpering quietly and he thought how he had never heard a better sound. Her eyes were closed and her chest was heaving, those hard nipples competing with her lips for his attention as she ran her fingers through her hair.
She was almost crying in delight and it took all the mental fortitude Victor had not to pounce at her. Instead, he shifted on the bed until he was flat on his back next to her and her eyes followed him with confusion.
He smirked at her, his chin still glistening as he nodded toward his pants:
“Undress me.”

She smiled, her eyes narrowing in what Victor now knew to recognize as triumph as she untied the drawstring surprisingly deftly and he raised his hips to allow her to slide the pants off and she tossed them aside so far he thought he saw them land on the floor.
Her gaze was flitting between his face and his cock and Victor knew what she was thinking. He was not small by any means and that was the reason why he decided to get in this position.
He would let her adapt to him at her own pace.
He studied her face and couldn’t help but enjoy her wide eyes and the way she bit on her lip as her hand wrapped around the base of his cock. She gasped, trying to touch her middle finger with her thumb and only succeeding if she squeezed with no negligible grip.

Her eyes flitted back to his face and just when Victor felt a twinge of fear that she might back out, she grinned that dumb, lopsided grin of hers, only this time, it was accompanied by the fire of lust in her eyes that made him throb in her hand.
She leaned down, straddling his legs and ran her tongue along the underside of his cock.
Victor’s eyes widened for a brief moment before he ran his fingers through her hair:

“I thought you wanted me to fuck you.”
He tried to keep his voice steady. He was surprised. She was blushing and stuttering a while back, what was this now?
She nodded, her lips and tongue smearing his precum along the tip of his cock before she sucked it into her mouth and Victor let out a barely suppressed grunt. She trailed wet kisses along his length, her hand pumping him slowly at the base before she let a drop of saliva fall on his tip, smearing it along once she took him into her mouth again. She slid her lips down slowly and Victor’s fingers tightened their grip on her hair ever so slightly:
“That’s good.” He murmured and felt a vibration on his length as she let out something between a moan and a giggle, her head bobbing up and down right before she released him with a plop, her hand shifting to his hip only to let her tongue run from the base to the tip and suck him in again.
Victor clenched his eyes shut, trying to prevent himself from thrusting into her mouth. Her tongue ran along his length as she sucked him and everything was so nice and wet that he just wanted to grab her by the ears and…
“Take me deeper.” He murmured demandingly and felt her lips sliding down, down, slowly, halfway, a little further and he felt the resistance of her throat. She gagged slightly, holding him there for a moment before pulling back and he throbbed at the feeling.
He often fantasized about having her gag on his cock, her eyes tearing up as she would look up at him… the gagging point moving further and further each time he’d have her go down on him until he could sheathe himself fully in her mouth, her nose on his stomach…
“Look at me.” His fingertips pressed into her scalp just slightly and he throbbed once more when those big, wet green eyes locked with his. He clenched his jaw, feeling like he could burst from that sight alone.
“Come here.” He grabbed her by the arms and she released his cock, crawling up to him and he grabbed her by the back of her neck and pulled her in for a kiss, his fingers running along her slit and he growled into the kiss, biting on his lower lip. If he thought she was wet earlier, she was entirely drenched now. He felt like purring.
“Look how wet you are.” He smeared her wetness with his fingers and she moaned into his mouth, her hands on his shoulders. Victor smirked:
“Good girl.” She really was: “You like sucking my cock, don’t you?”

She nodded, breaking their kiss and nuzzling his neck as her hips circled on his hand and Victor grabbed her hip, guiding her toward his engorged tip, stopping right at her entrance. He was burning with the desire to bury himself balls deep into her:
“Go ahead. Take it.”

She straightened her body, one of her hands reaching back to take a hold of him as she raised her hips to guide him inside. He held her thighs, fingertips sinking into her soft skin:
“Look at me.”
She locked eyes with him and he bared his teeth as he felt himself sinking into her heat. She was just as tight as he imagined, his cock stretching her just the right way and as she moaned at the sensation, her brows furrowed, his hands slid up to her hips, holding her as she slowly took him, inch by inch until he was sheathed fully inside. Her eyes were wide, pupils blown as her slightly swollen lips parted and she murmured something under her breath and Victor squeezed her hips, his own arching, not allowing her to move a single inch, holding her completely full of him as he growled:
“Speak up, I can’t hear you.”
Nike’s cheeks tinged pink again and Victor could barely suppress a smile. She was not embarrassed to suck his cock or ride him, but she was embarrassed to talk? Then he will make her talk more.
“You’re huge.” She finally murmured and Victor circled his hips:
“Oh, you don’t like it?”
He reveled in the strangled moan she gave him as her pussy clenched him and he hissed:
“You’re dripping down my balls, you know that?”
Her eyes widened again as she bit her lip and nodded, her cheeks turning a deeper shade.
Victor lifted her off effortlessly by her hips before slowly easing her back down on his cock:
“So, you don’t like how I stretch you?”
Nike gulped, trying to suppress a moan only to yelp as he smacked her ass:
“Answer me.”
“I like it.” She finally managed, gulping as her eyes nervously flitted between his eyes and a random spot on his chest:
“It’s like you’re shaping me.” She admitted sheepishly, her cheeks an angry scarlet color.
Victor throbbed, his hold on her hips almost bruising her and he barely made himself relax the grip.
Shaping her. Yes. He loved that. His heart drummed wildly as he kept guiding her along his cock, studying her face as she enjoyed how big he was inside of her.
He was almost seeing red. Yes, he would shape her and mold her to make her completely and utterly his. He wanted them to fit so perfectly in every possible way that she would never again be able to imagine herself with anyone else. He wanted to ruin her for anybody else. She was his now, only his and he’s not letting her go…

He thrust inside as she lowered her body onto him, seeking a kiss and he captured her lips hungrily, groaning as he felt her starting to move, sliding along his length as she moaned into his mouth, his hands gripping her ass as the squelching sound of how soaked she was for him echoed through the room.
Victor felt like he was in heaven. She was trembling and so so wet just for him and her pussy was clenching him like she was afraid he would pull out. Her movements were getting slightly erratic as she nipped at his neck, nuzzling him through moans, moans of his name. Victor never thought his own name could sound so good.
He felt the tell-tale spasms of her pussy, she was so close… so fast. She was loving how he fucked her. He gripped her hair and pulled her head back, forcing her to look at him as he thrust balls deep, circling his hips, her own arching to meet them and she fell apart on him, clenching and spasming so hard it took him a skin-breaking bite of his own lip not to follow her into bliss.
Her eyes rolled to the back of her head and her nails buried into his shoulders as she babbled through whines. She babbled how she loved his cock and Victor throbbed, his heart racing in excitement. He knew she would.
At that moment, even in the lust-addled state his mind was, Victor followed a train of thought that was so prominent he wasn’t even sure there was any other.
This woman just might love him the same way he already loved her. He was certain he would love her more and more each day and the only thing on his mind was how to be equally loved back. He wanted to spoil her, give her everything and anything she asked for, have her as his and make her able to see only him, to love him like he was her entire world, the way he would love her.

He flipped them on the bed, pushing her thighs against her chest as he thrust into her hard. He hooked his arms under her legs, pulling her tight as she cried out, her nails raking along his shoulders and she arched her hips toward him as much as she could even as she cried out how he was so deep inside.
Victor didn’t even have to tell her to look at him this time, she did it on her own, her face displaying nothing but bliss as he took her relentlessly. He kept changing angles, manhandling her by her legs until she hissed out a breathless “yes” and started unraveling on his cock again, her moans and cries making him feel like it would be a miracle if he lasted through another one.

She was a shivering, sweaty mess, her hair damp and her cheeks wet with tears as she struggled to catch her breath, her thighs trembling and it only drove Victor crazier to see her lost like that and he flipped her over on her stomach, pulling her hips toward him, her head in the pillows as he entered her from behind, bending over to growl into her ear as he started thrusting, slowly at first; she seemed even tighter like this:
“Do you think you can cum on my cock one more time?”
She nodded breathlessly and Victor’s hand slid to play with her clit as he established a rhythm, her hips helplessly bucking into him as she whimpered into the pillow, clenching him into fucking her harder and just as he thought he couldn’t take much more, he felt her cum again, her entire body going rigid with the shocks and he knew she wouldn’t be able to keep her weight up as her orgasm subsided so he snaked his arm around her to hold her up, thrusting inside her a few more times before he pulled out and the disappointed whine she gave him finally pushed him over the edge and his vision went dark.

He sprayed all over her ass, vaguely aware that she was gripping the sheets and smiling tiredly, the smile growing wider with every spurt of his warm, thick seed on her wet skin. Victor growled low in his throat, his heart feeling like it would burst out of his chest as he finally let her fall onto the mattress, trying to catch his breath, looking at her. She was completely spent, her skin glistening with sweat, still trembling, her ass and thighs covered in his release and Victor leaned in, taking her chin in his hand gently and kissing her dumb grin away, aware he’s probably wearing one, too.

Barely able to resist her cuddly whine for attention, Victor got up and went to the bathroom to grab something to clean her with. He pressed a few buttons on the panel to get the tub ready, knowing she’ll probably enjoy a relaxing bath.
When he returned with a soft damp towel, he thought she might have fallen asleep but as he was gently wiping her skin, she murmured softly:

“Were you trying to kill me?” 

For what was probably the first time since they’ve met, Victor laughed heartily and Nike turned her head as much as she could to look at him as he swiped damp hair from his forehead, eyes crinkling with deep, hoarse laughter that would have made her want him again if she wasn’t feeling like she was fucked within an inch of her life already.
He finally calmed down, shaking his head and laying a kiss on her shoulder as he leaned in:
“You’re teasing me again after the entire point of this was to make you take me seriously.”

He was far from mad, though, and Nike thought she could get used to post-orgasmic, cheerful Victor. Seems like her hypothesis of him being cranky because he wasn’t getting laid enough or well enough was correct, after all.

“I’m not teasing,” She lied through a giggle: “I feel like I am at 1 hit point.”
Victor smacked her ass playfully:
“I have no idea what that means and you know that.”
“Yeah, I do. It means I am in need of healing.”
“The bath should be almost ready by now.”
“There’s no way I can walk right now.”

His cock stirred at that but Victor knew she can’t take any more right now so he just snorted:
“Want me to carry you, princess?”
Nike chuckled at his only slightly mocking tone. It was too gentle to actually be mean:
“You are too smug about this.”
With a grunt, she turned over on her back and Victor gathered her in his arms, enjoying how she immediately nuzzled his neck, wrapping her arms and legs around him as best as she could. He kissed her damp hair, carrying her to the bathroom, not even trying to deny what she said. He was feeling smug. And also extremely happy.

Chapter Text

Not all of Victor’s fantasies revolved around sex. Some revolved around things happening after sex or things possibly leading to (more) sex.
He was aware of that but wasn’t too bothered; it was pleasant after all.
He wanted to have a bath with Nike for a long time. Victor generally enjoyed taking a bath whenever he had enough time. But add her to the mix, especially now that her entire body was pleasantly limp and her eyes half-closed as she leaned against his chest in his enormous tub, humming some tune absent-mindedly as her fingers drew abstract patterns on his legs? Bliss.

Victor embraced her from behind, caressing her under the water as the thick foam obscured his vision so he had to let his hands roam. She was so small and soft in his arms and he loved it, basking in the moment as he inhaled the mixed scent of the two of them along with the rich aroma of the bath bomb he used. They stayed like that for a long time and he would have thought she fell asleep if it wasn’t for her soft humming. It was pleasant, he could almost fall asleep like this.

“What is that melody?” He asked for no specific reason. He just liked talking to her.
“Otherwise by Morcheeba. Popped into my mind randomly.”
“Never heard of it. Do you always sing after sex?”

She chuckled, throwing her head back to look at him upside-down:
“No, I usually ask for their name again and tip nicely.”
Victor frowned, unamused:
“That’s not funny.”
“Hey, not every joke can be a winner! The real answer is no. What about you?”
“I don’t sing.”
“Well, do you always take baths after sex?”
“No.” This was the second time he’s done it in his life, the first one being with a college girlfriend a while back. He also had feelings for her.
“And why don’t you sing?”
“It’s one of those things I cannot do.”
“I cannot do it well either. That’s not why I sing.”
“Why then?”
“Because I feel like it. You should give it a try. It’s relaxing.”
“I’m pretty relaxed as it is.”

Nike giggled, taking a bit of foam and smearing it on his nose. Victor rolled his eyes, although he wasn’t bothered by it:
“So, you’re shy.” She teased.
“You’re hardly the one to talk. You were as red as one could get not too long ago.”

She fidgeted with a nervous laugh:
“Well, that’s different. I’m not used to… you know, talking like that.”
He didn’t even have to be able to see her to know she was blushing again:
“I’m not used to singing either.”

His hands slid from her belly down to her hips teasingly:
“But I will have to let you get used to talking to me while I’m having my way with you.”
She tensed up in his arms, covering her face with soapy hands:
“It’s difficult.”
That was not a no and his cock stirred.
“That’s why we will practice.”
“You have a thing for talking dirty, don’t you?” She was still trying to laugh it off and Victor was not about to let her.

Victor bent down to nibble at her ear, whispering softly:
“I have a thing for hearing what you want.”
His lips trailed along her neck and she gasped, her legs parting slightly as if on instinct and it made him harder. She leaned further into him as his hands slid up her torso, fingertips teasingly outlining her breasts, spiraling until he brushed them against her nipples, still lavishing her neck with kisses and as her nipples hardened under his touch, her hand reached behind her to wrap fingers in his hair and pull him closer. He nipped at the soft skin, voice already turning darker with lust:
“So… anything you want to say?”
She shook her head sheepishly and Victor realized he’d have to nudge her a little:
“Nothing? So, you don’t want me to fuck you again?”

He rolled her nipple between his fingers and she arched into his touch, shaking her head right before nodding:
“I do.” She whispered and Victor smirked against her skin:
“Oh heavens…” She chuckled nervously, the sound morphing into a soft moan as he nibbled on her ear again, pinching her nipple and letting her feel his erection against her lower back.
“How do you want me to fuck you?”
The tips of her ears were red as one of his hands dipped in the water and as it ran down her stomach, she spread her legs a little further and Victor bit her neck in response. He loved that obvious invitation.
He teased her clit and she gasped again:
“However it pleases you.” She managed to squeeze out and Victor’s cock throbbed in delight right before his mind caught up. That was an easy way out of talking dirty but it was also an opportunity for him to show her she shouldn’t take easy ways out.

“You really want to get out of talking dirty that much, don’t you?”
He teased her, fingers running across her slit:
“Or do you really mean it?”
She squirmed and Victor wished he could see her face.
“How much trouble am I in?” She finally murmured and he bit his lip so as not to laugh. He guessed right.
“So you WERE just trying to get out of talking.”
“I’m sorry.” She giggled apologetically but he just clicked his tongue:
“Apologizing won’t save you now. I have to punish you for lying to me. And then I will still fuck you however it pleases me.”
For a second, he thought he frightened her and he immediately tried to think of a way to smooth it over but then she covered her face again:
“You’re really strict.”
“I have to be with a brat.”
“I’m not a brat!” She protested weakly and he pinched her nipple:
“Only a brat would try to weasel their way out of something they were uncomfortable with.”
“Well, I don’t know what to say!”

Victor sighed, part of him still amused that something like this would give her so much trouble and part of him now wanting to straighten her out:
“You had three options.”
“The first one is very simple. You could have just said you don’t know what to say.”
“But wouldn’t that…”
“I haven’t finished.” He said sternly and she instinctively flinched a little and Victor felt bad:
“Ask anything you want when I finish.” He kissed her temple and felt relieved when she relaxed at that.
“Your second option was to just say “pudding” if you really think you can’t do it. Your third option, and that’s the one I personally prefer, was to try and say anything that came to your mind. There has to be an idea or two in that brain of yours. I don’t care if you stutter through them or if you ramble or if you don’t think they’re good. Heavens know I have already heard bad ideas from you, delivered incoherently with a lot of stuttering.”

“Now you’re just being mean.” He didn’t have to see her face to know she was frowning. She barely stopped herself from crossing her arms. Like a real brat.
“Can you deny it, then?”
She hesitated for a second:
“No. But still. That was mean. You can’t say that and then expect me to keep telling you my ideas enthusiastically.”
“Wrong. That’s exactly what I expect. I told you already, I want to know everything. If I ask you what you want, I expect to hear what you want. Not what you think I want to hear or just anything that would get you off the hook.”

She didn’t reply and instead only sunk a little deeper in the water. Victor decided he would have to ease up a little:
“You are embarrassed, is that it?”
“Yes.” He could hear her pouting and barely resisted the urge to kiss her. No. She had to understand this properly first.
“What do you mean, why?”
“Why are you embarrassed? What’s embarrassing about telling me what you want? I can’t read your mind, you know. And no snarky comebacks.”

At least she snorted at that. Good sign. She played with the foam nervously, gathering it toward her like a blanket and Victor made note of that. Hiding.
“I know you can’t read my mind. I just… never talked dirty that much.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Why didn’t you?”
“I guess it just never happened, I don’t know.” She shrugged.
“Do you want to? And don’t lie to me again.”

She ran her hands over her biceps, hugging herself nervously:
“I don’t know, maybe. But I don’t really know how to, you know.”
“Well, people usually don’t know how to do something new. That doesn’t mean they cannot try and learn.”
“It’s gonna be bad.” She laughed and Victor pulled her closer, his arms wrapping around hers and locking them in place as he murmured into her ear:
“I don’t care if it’s bad. It can get better. I just care about whether it’s true. I do personally like it. You can try and see if you like it.”
“And if I don’t?”
“Then you don’t have to do it. Just be honest.”
“But…” She attempted and then stopped.
“Yes?” Victor prodded and she shifted in his arms slightly:
“Well, I mean, you like it. And you said… that you want me to please you.”

There it was. Victor chuckled softly, a warm feeling in his chest. This little idiot. She really was such a good girl.
“I also said it’s not fun unless you’re enjoying pleasing me. I don’t want you to do something you don’t want to do just to please me. Even though sometimes it might seem like I do, I don’t. But I would also hate it if you refuse to do something just because you have never done it before and for no other reason.”

She pondered over that for a while and he just waited, hugging her until he heard her chuckle softly:
“Okay, I will admit something to you but only if you promise not to laugh.”
“I promise,” Victor said seriously, his curiosity peaked and Nike started, her voice a fraction higher in pitch like it always was when she was nervous:

“I was really, really ashamed of this for a long time because it was so inappropriate with the situation at the time and everything.” She took a deep breath:
“You asked me for the first-quarter report this year.”
“I remember it, it looked like a tornado passed through the folder.”

He actually remembered a very strange look on her face and blush very similar to the one she wore not long ago in his bed. So, she was actually thinking of something inappropriate at the time and he wasn’t imagining it. He thought he saw her lips part and her eyes widen as she stared at his hands. He dismissed it as his stupid wishful thinking at the time… but it seems he was right.
“Thanks for that. Well… like I said, I felt really guilty about this for a long time and… well, you know, you were my boss and I was in a relationship and I really didn’t get enough sleep that night and was tired and angry with you and the job and the report and…”
“Rambling.” He reminded her softly and she snorted:
“Right. Well… I was half-asleep that morning and then you startled me. You…”

She imitated the gesture right above the water, sending a bit of it splashing:
“You smacked the paper abruptly. And then you did it again and again.”

Victor finally understood. How could he have missed that? His lips curved into a smirk:
“And I suddenly had a weird thought I never had before in my life.”
“What thought was that?”
“Well, you know. You were yanking and smacking at those papers and I… thought it resembled spanking.”

It most definitely did. And he did it entirely subconsciously like an idiot.
“And I felt very guilty about that thought.”
“Because I thought it was interesting.”

Victor’s cock stirred at that. He wasn’t very big on many of the forms of impact play or inflicting pain in general… with the exception of bare hand spanking. It was one of the things he always inexplicably liked. It was difficult to remember exactly, but he thought that was what first clued him into the fact that he might be a Dom many years ago, he still remembered a pin-up illustration he accidentally found online when he was in high school. He loved the heart-shaped view of a woman’s ass if she was bent over, or her squirming if she was over his knees, he loved how the skin would tinge pink and get so warm under his touch, he loved the sound of the smack followed with her yelp or a moan, he loved the ripple and he especially loved if she would get wet from being spanked.

“Do you want to try it?” he murmured and she squirmed again, nodding softly. Excitement washed over him and he leaned into her ear, his voice slightly husky:
“Uhm… I don’t know. I guess… over a desk?”

A fantasy of his own immediately came to mind:
“Good idea. It would be cold against your chest, though.” He ran his fingers over her breasts and she shuddered:
“I would also have you spread your legs wide for me.” He nipped at her neck again, enjoying how she always responds to that and how her legs opened up a bit more in the tub.
“Because I really want to see and feel how wet you would get from being spanked.” She gasped, bucking back into him and leaning her head on his shoulder, turning slightly so she could look at his face and Victor lowered his voice to a whisper:
“I think you might just drip for me.”
She gave him the softest whimper, her eyes wide with excitement, those cheeks pink and his hand ran back to tease at her pussy:
“And I did love that dress.”
For a second, she seemed surprised as she arched an eyebrow:
“What dress?”
“The one that looks like you’re wearing a collar.” His fingers ran along her collarbones and around her neck “With that chain down your back that looks like a leash.” His lips brushed along her ear as he whispered, fingers circling around her clit:
“When I wrapped that chain around my hand, I imagined tugging at it while having you bent over my desk.”

She moaned softly, arching into his touch and nibbling on her lip:
“I could always wear that dress again.”
“Or you could wear a real leash.”

Just as he suspected, her blush deepened at that but she didn’t stop surrendering to his touch:
“That’s… kinky.” She muttered with a hint of a smile.
“And I think it’s making you wet.” He teased and she nodded sheepishly. Victor continued, finger teasing her entrance as his palm brushed against her clit:
“I do want to see you with my collar on. And I want to control you with that leash…pull it taut so you have to arch that back while I’m fucking you from behind.”
“Oh fuck…” She whimpered, chest heaving, trying to cover her face with her hand but Victor grabbed her wrist:
“Don’t hide.” He nearly growled into her ear: “I wouldn’t let you hide or move except to take me deeper.”
He slipped a finger inside and she grabbed his knee at him circling his finger as he kept whispering:
“You wouldn’t have a choice but to take me like a good girl and cum really hard for me.”

He felt her pussy clench his finger at that as she moaned, her nails now buried in his skin. He smirked as he pulled his finger out:
“Punishment time.”
She stiffened and Victor knew she had already forgotten he mentioned he would punish her:
“You thought I would let it slide?” He asked with his typical stone face and her own face fell a little in trepidation:
“No. You never let anything slide.”
She was right and Victor hoped she would remember it.
“I need you to know you should never lie to me. So, for your punishment, you will answer my question honestly. How do you want me to fuck you? And look me in the eyes while saying it.”

She pulled her knees toward her, shaking her head:
“Oh heavens. You sadist.”
She shifted slightly to face him, cheeks crimson and hot as she bit her lip. Victor waited, merely raising an eyebrow and she giggled uncomfortably:
“I’m thinking!”
“It’s not that difficult of a question.”
“Well, I’m thinking about phrasing.”
He almost wanted to laugh. Victor didn’t really consider himself a sadist, but there was something thrilling about seeing her embarrassed. She finally straightened her back, like preparing to give a report:

“Okay, I got it.” It wasn’t the sexiest start ever by a long shot but it turned him on that she’s trying.
“You’re strong.” She began, nodding toward his chest vaguely and Victor’s brow shot further up.
“So, I was wondering if you could hold me up?”

The corner of his lip twitched:
“I’m not sure I understand, you have to be more specific.”
“Victor…” She whimpered and he grabbed her wrist before she had a chance to hide her face:
“No. Look me in the eyes and say exactly how you want it.”
She huffed a long breath, fidgeting against him, her eyes wide and sweet, a mist of emerging tears of embarrassment clouding them. His cock throbbed.

“Well, it could be against a wall or not, whichever is easier for you. I suppose I hug you and you hold me by my thighs. There!”

She mushed the last few words together quickly, obviously thrilled to get it over with and Victor smirked, kissing her forehead:
“Good girl, you didn’t stutter.”
She giggled at that and Victor got ready to stand up, taking her with him:
“To the shower.”

He teased her in the shower again, his mouth on her nipple and his fingers playing with her pussy, making her believe he will give her what she wanted but there was still another part to his punishment; he would still do it however he wanted.
He loved how she would just give in to his touch, letting him explore and tease her even if he was just trying to frustrate her, she would still let him.

Her arms around his waist, he broke a kiss only to reach for a shampoo bottle:
“Let me wash your hair.”
She just nodded and Victor lathered up the shampoo between his hands before spreading it across her scalp gently. She closed her eyes as he massaged her head, letting out a content sigh. His fingers ran to spread some foam along the length of her hair, now midway down her back. He loved her hair. It was one of the things people would notice about her first, the copper shade and the shine as it cascaded down her back. And it was soft under his fingers and it always smelled fruity. He wanted to stroke it indefinitely, run his fingers through it; he wanted to pull on it as he thrust into her, he wanted to bury his face in it…

Rinsing the shampoo off, he reached for the conditioner. Nike looked at him skeptically:
“I can do that part. My hair tangles a lot.”
“I’ll be gentle.”
She didn’t say anything else and let him proceed. It was a small thing, probably insignificant, but Victor still enjoyed that small gesture of trust.

“Turn around.”
She turned to face the wall and Victor ran his palms, coated in conditioner, down the strands gently, carefully separating and easing through any knots and she stood perfectly still, giggling softly:
“You do this better than I do it to myself. Can I wash your hair later?”
“Even though I’m better at it than you are?”
“Well you don’t have half a meter of length, I’m sure I can manage.”
“Alright then. Manage.”

He finished with her hair and she turned back to face him as he passed her the shampoo. She squeezed a little out, looking up at him:
“Can you… come down a little, oh gentle giant?” She grinned and Victor rolled his eyes:
“You will never stop that, will you?”
“You love it.”

He scoffed and got down on his knees in front of her:
“Can you reach now, munchkin?”
She laughed at that and Victor smiled back, looking up into her eyes.
“If your goal was to annoy me, you failed. Hearing you say “munchkin” was the cutest thing ever.”
He scoffed, lips still quirking:
“Just get on with it.”

She started washing his hair and Victor got an idea. He ran his fingers along her inner thigh and her hands in his hair stilled:
“What do you think you’re do…” His fingers ran along her slit teasingly and she grinned:
“I should have known you didn’t do that for my sake.”

Victor just hummed in response, leaning in to flick her clit with his tongue:
“You were washing my hair. Why did you stop? Don’t let me distract you.”

She murmured something under her breath and continued massaging his scalp as he played with her, tongue and mouth teasing at her before his fingers joined and she grabbed at his soapy strands, a moan echoing off the tiles as his finger entered her and he sucked on her clit lightly. She clenched around him, trying to loosen her grip on his hair, leaning her head back against the wall as he brought her higher, soon adding another finger and just as he felt her soaring a little too high, he stopped, meeting her frustrated eyes with his own playful ones as he got up:

“I think it’s time to rinse.”
Her lips quivered but she didn’t say anything as he started rinsing his own hair out. He recognized that sly grin on her face right before her hand ran down his stomach and along his hardness:
“You tease.” She murmured before she got down on her knees herself and ran her tongue along his length:
“Out for revenge?” Victor asked, a hand stroking her cheek. She nodded, taking his tip in her mouth and he gasped, fingers running through her hair, still coated in conditioner:
“Look at me.”
She looked up and Victor let himself be played with, her tongue twirling around his tip, teasing at the sweet spot between his tip and his shaft until he shuddered and she took him in again, lips running down slowly, down to her gagging point and he throbbed, hissing affirmatively and she managed to smile with her mouth full.
“Do that again. Try to go deeper.”
She hummed around him and obeyed, taking him in inch by inch until he felt her throat tightening again and her eyes watered as she stilled, holding him in for a moment before pulling off with a shaky sound between a cough and a chuckle. Victor’s fingers ran along her scalp, careful not to tug at her wet hair roughly:
“Good girl. Can you do it again?”
She nodded, smiling before she added some saliva and started easing her mouth onto him again. He tightened his hold of her:
“Easy. Go slow.”
He felt when her throat started tightening and held her in place:
He pulled back in a second, looking down at her, a small smile on his face:
“Good girl.”
She blushed but smiled back at him as he motioned for her to get up, pulling her in for a kiss. He pinned her against the wall, holding her tight as she let his tongue into her mouth, her hands roaming down his back.
He broke the kiss, fingers gently running along her sides:
“Turn around and let me rinse your hair.”

It was silky smooth as the last traces of conditioner were rinsed out and he could run his fingers through it with ease. He turned off the water and reached out to grab towels, ignoring the expectant look on her face as she started drying her hair first. He knew she wouldn’t muster the courage to ask him why he’s not fucking her right now and it amused him, his mind already racing to what he planned for when they got back to the bed.

“You don’t have to leave. You can spend the night, I don’t mind.”

David shook his head, his back to the girl as he pulled his pants up.
“Sorry. I have an early morning tomorrow.”
He didn’t want to stay. He wasn’t even planning on having sex with anyone when he decided to go out that night. He just wanted a few drinks and some distraction. But then this girl showed up, she seemed to know some of his friends, who greeted her warmly, they danced, they kissed and before he knew it, they were at her apartment. She was pretty and the sex itself was great, David had to admit. But still… he wasn’t feeling it. He wasn’t nearly drunk enough to be able to lie to himself that he wasn’t imagining Nike as he fucked her nor was he drunk enough to not feel bad about that.
He just used some random girl, who, to top it all off, seemed like a nice person. He was grateful he was at least sober enough to memorize her name. Jennifer. At least he hoped it was Jennifer.
“Well, if you want to, you can call me one of these days?”
She inquired, propping her chin on her hand in bed. David bent over for his T-shirt and hummed distractedly:
“Yeah, sure. I’m kinda busy now with work, so maybe it will not be this week, but I’ll give you a call.”

Jennifer frowned:
“You could’ve just honestly said you’re not interested.”
David stopped as he pulled his T-shirt over his head, contemplating whether to admit it or not. He was way too sober for this. Finally, he sighed:
“I’m sorry. I didn’t even really plan for this to happen.”
He rubbed the back of his neck apologetically:
“I know this will sound like a lame excuse, but I recently broke up with my girlfriend. I shouldn’t have slept with you, I know it looks like I just used you and it was not my intention, I…”

Jennifer started laughing:
“I wasn’t asking you on a potential boyfriend-girlfriend date. I just thought we could do this again sometime.”

David was surprised:
“You mean, have sex?”
“Well, unless I’m mistaken, that’s what we were doing tonight, right?”
“Right.” He answered dumbly. She stood up, grabbing a bathrobe from a nearby chair and putting it on:
“I’m not really looking for anything serious at the moment. But the sex was good, so why not do it again?”

David thought about it for a moment but then remembered he thought about Nike earlier:
“Sorry.” He shook his head: “I think we really shouldn’t.”

Jennifer arched an eyebrow at him, tilting her head:
“That bad of a breakup, huh?”
“Excuse me?”
“Well, usually one refuses casual sex only if they’re really fucked up over someone.”
David felt his cheeks heat up as he grumbled:
“I’m sorry.”
“No need to apologize, at least you didn’t start crying on me halfway!”
He must have given her a dirty look because she raised her hands apologetically:
“I’m joking! Don’t worry about it, I’m not mad or anything. I hope you can feel better soon.”

David paused for a moment, thinking about the upcoming issue of Fame and the interesting article in it.
“Thank you, I hope so too.”

Jennifer clapped her hands as if making a conclusion:
“Okay, let me walk you to the door.”

As he stepped out of her apartment, he turned toward her:
“I really am sorry.”
“Told you not to stress it. I’ve been there, I know how you feel.”

David’s brows shot up slightly:
“Oh?” He was extremely eloquent tonight, it seemed.
“Oh.” She grinned: “It gets better. In the beginning, I wanted to slash his tires and get his cheating ass fired. I’m glad I didn’t. Revenge is never good.”

David’s face fell and he suddenly just wanted to run away. What he was doing wasn’t petty revenge! It was just the truth and he had to… oh, who was he kidding?!

“I see.” He nodded dryly. “Thanks for the advice. Have a good night.”

Should he call Stephanie and tell her not to let that article be published? He tapped his pockets for cigarettes.

Chapter Text

David arrived home shortly after, knowing he won’t really be able to sleep. Tossing his pants aside, he switched the PS4 on. Browsing through his game library and thinking about what he wants to play, he eyed the second controller, now all dusty next to the console.
When was the last time he played with anyone?

It was one of the things he liked to do with Nike or Greg. But Greg was busy with his soap opera these days and Nike… well, they haven’t played much at all this past year. Everything just became so much worse once she started working for that asshole. They used to have fun, even though she would usually wipe the floor with him in Tekken, he was the Street Fighter champion.
He initially thought he had gotten better at Tekken when he’d manage to win a match here and there but then he noticed she switched to a less execution-heavy character, saying she was too tired to use her finicky main.

Her main was the well-dressed, black-haired, evil CEO.
David scoffed. Should that have clued him in on something?

“How can you play Kazuya, he literally has like 3 good moves!”
“Yeah, that makes him difficult to play, my arsenal is so limited I have to really know how to work him in order to win! And look at that sweet leather coat!” Nike laughed right before her main suddenly assumed his winged Devil form, grappling David’s cute dancing idol and soaring high right before he slammed her into the ground, winning the round.
“I especially hate that move. It comes out of nowhere.” David grumbled.

So, then, she switched to an easier character for a while and eventually they stopped playing altogether. She was either tired or distracted so she would make stupid mistakes and then she started telling him she’s not in the mood to play.
She eventually stopped being in the mood for so many things they previously used to enjoy, like going to gigs or rollerblading together.
She just wanted to stay at home and read through endless papers and books, grumbling under her breath how she was stupid and how she will never be able to get that report just right.

David was sad. Nike was not stupid and he hated it that this job was making her think so about herself.

But it now seemed he was sad for naught. How could she now date this guy? Was she a masochist or something? To top it all off, the fucking fruitcake bought David’s theater? Why the hell did he do that? Showing off his power? Intending to ruin him?

He turned the PS4 off, grabbing his directorial notes for his upcoming play. Yes, the premiere was drawing near but he still made some changes to the thing. He would call it social commentary. The play in itself was satire so he had a lot to work with. A couple of tweaks here and there and he would be able to send a message without putting himself in direct danger. After all, it would be his problem if he recognized himself in the character of the landlord.

He thought about that article in Fame. Should he really go through with it? Jennifer’s words still echoed in his head. But he wasn’t taking his revenge on Nike. He was just retaliating against that dickhead, who apparently thought he could just buy whatever he wanted and make his problems go away.
It was like he thought Nike was his possession and wanted to lock him out of ever talking to her again.
He grabbed his phone and froze.
No. He will not call her. What would he even say? He didn’t want to risk it and tell her about the theater.
Besides, it was Friday. She often went out with her friends on Fridays. She was probably out with Luna; who still hadn’t called him back, in days! He should have seen that coming, she took Nike’s side in all of this, they were much closer friends than Luna and David were, after all.

A painful thought surfaced. What if she was not out with the girls? What if she was with him? He wouldn’t be surprised if the asshole thought he could monopolize her time like he did when she worked for him. What if he tried to control her, would Nike let anyone tell her how she should spend her time?
A year ago, his answer to that was a resounding no.
Now, he wasn’t so sure. How could she let a domineering asshole have his way with her like that?
He went to take a shower, frowning all the while.
If it were anyone else, any other guy in the world, this would have been much easier on David.


Victor led Nike to the bed, tossing both their towels aside as he crawled on top of her, cupping her face and kissing her so deeply her toes curled, their tongues dancing and his lips making her melt.
Her heart was racing as the few stray drops of water on their skin seemed to evaporate as his body made her own heat up. She entangled her fingers in his wet dark locks, neither of them caring enough to dry their hair as she trailed kisses along his jawline and his eyes fluttered closed as she grazed her teeth along his five o’clock shadow, giving him a few soft nips before going for his ear. She trailed her tongue along the shell and Victor let out a pleased sigh through his nose, inching closer like a large, cuddly cat.

She nibbled on his ear as he reduced the distance between them, pulling her closer and tilting his head as if surrendering to her attentions, his cock throbbing as she softly sucked and her tongue flicked over his earflap. It was thrilling to discover his sensitive spots and she arched toward him, pulling him into an even tighter embrace as her tongue traveled down his neck, along his pulse and it was like she could feel his heartbeat against her entire body. Strong, powerful, a steady, lively rhythm that made her wrap a leg around him, her sole running down his calf.

Gently extricating himself from her embrace, Victor gave her a kiss on the forehead, causing her to smile at him and something in her gaze, clouded with lust and wonder, made him smile back as he slid an arm under her and deftly laid behind her, pulling her snugly against his chest, his arm wrapping around her, fingers entwining with her own as his other hand teased its way down her stomach, her legs parting seemingly of their own accord and she wondered how he had that power over her, but anytime his hand would travel down, she would just surrender.
His fingers ran along her slit and she arched back into him. He chuckled into her ear softly, nibbling at the spot between her neck and shoulder as those long fingers of his circled her clit before they ran down, teasing at her entrance, his hot breath on her ear making her close her eyes and completely melt into his touch:
“Good girl.” His whisper was so soft, so warm it made her shudder in delight as two of his fingers slid barely inside of her and she gave him a tiny, helpless moan.
He teased her and she once again wondered how he had so much patience right before the fingers slipped out and he raised her leg slightly, his tip probing her and her hold on his hand tightened.

Nike’s eyes rolled to the back of her head as he let himself slowly enter her, every inch making her entire body buck further into him as their fingers were tightly locked together right above her heartbeat and she turned her head to kiss him.
His kiss swept her under as he kept burying himself all the way inside and she moaned into his mouth as she felt him fully sheathed, hard and throbbing, his hand sliding up her thigh and straight to her clit, her own covering it, fingertips slowly caressing as he ravaged her mouth.

He started moving, so slowly she gasped in delight, the delicious feeling of being shaped to fit him washing over her with every smooth, languid thrust as his lips went along her neck, fingers playing with her until she became a shivering mess of gasps and moans in his arms, moans she tried to swallow back, biting on her lip.
“Don’t hold back, let me hear you.” He whispered between thrusts, his fingers gently capturing her clit, making her whimper softly for him as her pussy squeezed him and he let out a barely audible hiss of pleasure, nipping at her neck, hot breath scorching her skin.
He kept thrusting slowly, each time pulling almost all the way out before sheathing himself fully again and it was like she could feel him in every fiber of her being, the sound of her arousal soft with his gentle rhythm as he smirked against the soft skin of her neck:

“I love how wet you get for me.” He kissed her skin softly as she clenched her eyes shut, moaning affirmatively as her hips tried to match his rhythm as best as she could, already soaring high on the bliss of his warmth, his skillful fingers and his hard length bringing her closer and closer to her peak so quickly it nearly terrified her. It was like she was an instrument and he was playing her masterfully, strumming at each string with deliberate precision and she hazily wondered how this was supposed to be a punishment; it felt like heaven.

As if reading her mind, Victor’s hand on her clit pulled away right before he gently slipped out of her and her eyes snapped open as she whimpered. He bit at her nape just a tad too roughly, his tone teasing:
“What’s the matter?”
Her mind still hazy, all she managed was another whimper with a shake of the head as she turned to look at him and Victor arched an evil eyebrow:
“I don’t understand.”
“Don’t stop.” She whispered, her cheeks tinging pink already as he brought his fingers coated in her to her mouth, teasing the contour of her lips, the hungry look in his eyes making her pussy clench on nothing as she licked his fingers and he slipped them inside her mouth, making her eyes flutter closed, tasting herself as her tongue grazed the pads of his fingers:
“Don’t stop what?” He inquired evilly as he bit on her neck again:
His fingers thrust in and out of her mouth slowly, her pussy gushing as her blush deepened:
“Or this?”

He pulled his fingers out, trailing them down along her neck and between her breasts and Nike gulped, too turned on to truly hate him trying to make her talk again:
“Don’t stop…” she nodded toward their nether regions vaguely before clenching her eyes shut in an attempt to squeeze the rest of that sentence out:
“Don’t stop fucking me.”

Victor chuckled once again, leaning in to bite on her shoulder:
“Why not?” He inquired, lips going back to her ear as he whispered:
“Were you enjoying it?”
She nodded and he flicked his tongue over her earlobe:
“Use your words.”
She felt his tip teasing at her entrance again, sliding up and down her pussy, slick with wetness and she gasped a strangled “yes”. Victor clicked his tongue, still teasing and even without being prompted, she knew she would have to say it clearly, really ask for it. That was the punishment:

“I was close.” She whispered and Victor just let out a small inquiring noise as if asking “close to what?” and she threw her head back against the pillow, hating how her heart raced and her pussy kept begging for him even as her cheeks burned:
“Please… fuck me.”
Victor nuzzled her neck and she could hear his muffled chuckle:
“I’m not convinced. Try harder.”

He wanted her to beg for it and even though her heart was racing with embarrassment, she couldn’t remember the last time she was this wet for someone. Maybe never. He was still teasing her with his slick tip and all she cared about was having him bury himself balls deep into her and make her cum on his cock. So why can’t she say that? He wanted to hear it obviously.

He held both of her hands, preventing her from hiding her face and she bit her lip, opening her eyes stubbornly and meeting his hungry lilac gaze:
“I want to…I want to cum with you inside of me.”

The corner of his mouth twitched:
“How much?”
“So much.” She replied without thinking and he laid another kiss on her forehead:
“Good girl. Begging for my cock.”

She felt like her entire body throbbed as he said that and slipped back inside of her, eliciting a moan so desperate she would have been ashamed if it didn’t feel so good having him back inside, his fingers right there on her clit, where they should be and he started thrusting, slightly rougher this time and she whined in delight, calling his name as her pussy clenched him so hard he grunted softly, his hot whisper making her almost crazy with need:
“So desperate for me…”
He was driving her back to her peak, his cock so deep inside of her she had no choice but to just surrender to his increasing pace, her breasts bouncing as he fucked her, his grip on her hand tightening:
“Go ahead. Cum for me.”

As if on command, she fell apart, legs jerking wider, crying out his name as the spasms of her pussy around him caused him to growl quietly in her ear and Nike felt so right, she started shaking, overwhelmed with him. He was so good, his body so warm and his embrace so tight as he held her and they just fit together, every part of their bodies seemingly molded for each other and he smelled so good, intoxicating her and he drove her so crazy she just wanted him to never stop.
It was their first night together and she already felt like he knew exactly what to do to her, he read her like an open book and her heart raced. She never felt this good in bed with someone before. It was an intoxicating, frightening feeling; addictive.

Once she stopped trembling and started being aware that Victor was laying soft kisses all over her face and shoulder, she smiled at him weakly, half-aware it was her dumb grin that he always mocked but his face was different now somehow. It was like that grin was deepening his lust, something in his eyes making her entire chest swell. It was not just lust, she recognized. It was warm with something else… like awe or admiration or… adoration.

She almost felt like unraveling again from that gaze alone, leaning in to kiss him, the kiss erratic and hungry and Victor responded, claiming her mouth until she parted with the need for air and he released her from his embrace, sliding out as she fell on her back helplessly, her half-lidded eyes following him as he loomed above her and her legs went to embrace him around the waist, inviting him back in but he took them, lifting them on one of his shoulders as he settled into a kneeling position and her eyes briefly followed his hand caressing her legs before she locked eyes with him again as he slid back in slowly.

Nike’s eyes widened at the new angle. He embraced her legs, fingertips dipping into the skin as he sunk deeper, his lids falling with a pleased exhale at how tight she felt like that and she whimpered softly, gripping the sheets as he established a slow rhythm at first, gently rocking her entire body with him, her head thrown back, mind reeling with how huge he felt.
His pace slowly increased and she opened her eyes, gaze roaming from his face, lips parted and eyes dark with lust, strands of still damp hair clinging to his forehead; down to his arms, embracing her legs, muscles tightening as he thrust into her and she extended a hand toward him unthinkingly and he took it immediately, enveloping it in his own as he kept thrusting, erasing all rational thoughts from her brain. She was lost in the movement, the way he felt inside of her, the way he was holding onto her tightly, the way his eyes were consuming her in their depths and she pulled on his hand, an incoherent sound beckoning him closer. Victor smiled, letting go of her hand and separating her legs, putting one on each shoulder now as he leaned in, hands on the bed at her sides as she embraced him, nearly clawing at his back as she felt bent in half and she groaned at how deep she could feel him, hitting that special spot inside of her and she moaned his name through gritted teeth, reveling in the way he responded with a throb.

He established a rhythm, her hands desperately seeking purchase on his back, her eyes clenching shut only to whip open and look at his face as he held her there, pinned down and completely at his mercy and she knew that’s what he wanted.
She felt herself soaring toward yet another peak as he picked up his pace, a nibble of his own lip and ragged breaths guiding her along, the pleasure mounting until he asked her to fall apart for him again as he slammed against her sweet spot, her nails digging into his back as she let out a silent scream, legs quaking with the force of the spasms of her pussy, her gaze catching Victor closing his eyes and grunting softly, her vision blurring with tears of pleasure.
He slowly fucked her through her orgasm, smirking at her before he straightened up on his knees again, grabbing her legs and spreading them wide, holding her ankles tightly as his pace was now merciless and rough, his jaw tight and muscles tense and Nike was nearly limp in his hold, surrendering herself to his ruthless pace, their eyes locking as he grunted her name under his breath, pulling out, a hand releasing her ankle and taking a hold of his cock as he finished all over her stomach now, his eyes on hers holding her captive as she saw a turmoil of emotions surge through them, his teeth firmly on his bottom lip, low, nearly growling sounds escaping him.
He kissed her other ankle before releasing it, hot breath tickling her skin as her legs fell limp on the bed, eyes already fluttering closed.

She was only half-aware that he cleaned her again gently before pure warmth enveloped her, Victor settling in bed, clapping the last of the lights off as he pulled her into his chest, his steadying heartbeat as his strong arms pulled her close, and a soft kiss on her crown the last thing she felt before she was lost to sleep, dumb grin firmly plastered on her face.

Chapter Text

Nike woke up to gentle sunlight caressing her through half-open blinds. She shifted in bed, feeling it somehow too comfortable as she stretched, the soft cover slipping across her naked hip.
Sore… She felt Victor’s scent as she finally opened her eyes, looking at the unfamiliar room for a moment before the memories of last night came rushing back, causing her cheeks to heat up as her toes curled. That’s why she was sore… she grinned to herself.
Victor was nowhere to be found and she noticed one of his watches on the bedside table, shifting to check the time and cursing under her breath. Almost 10.
How could she have overslept this much?

A gentle breeze was coming through the open window and Nike was once again reminded how much she loved this late August weather, the fleeting summer sun and the hints of the upcoming fall.
She noticed her weekend bag was neatly placed on one of the chairs in the far corner of the room and she shook her head softly. Victor must have brought it over. Good thinking, too, as she rummaged through it and pulled out a fresh change of clothes, heading for a quick shower.
Looking in the mirror, she thanked all heavens she had been getting her hair permanently straightened for a few years now. Fooling around and then falling asleep with her natural hair wet would have resulted in a frizzy mess.
She tied her hair in a bun as she stepped into Victor’s enormous shower, noticing a neat array of products on a little shelf. Just as she suspected, having in mind what kind of a perfectionist the man was; there was exactly one full line of products, arranged in the order in which they would be used and she chuckled.

Having finished her shower, she brushed through her hair and went through the rest of her morning routine, wondering where Victor could be.
Right as she stepped out of the room to look for him, phone in hand, she opened her chat with Luna, noticing a few new messages from last night:

Giiiiirl, I finally met a super cute man-in-uniform (well, not at the moment but still) and I didn’t even ask for his number! I’m kicking myself atm.

How’s your evening with Victor going?

Ha, seems that you either fell asleep or are having too much fun
😉  Talk to ya tomorrow!

She chuckled, typing out a reply:

Sorry, I just woke up. How did you not immediately hump the Uniform Boy? Is he military? Police? Firefighter? Tell me everything! The evening was a lot of fun, indeed.

She slid the phone in her pocket, feeling a smell of coffee a little before she heard Victor’s voice. Cutting the corner and having the living area in her view, she saw him standing next to the kitchen island, talking on the phone. He was wearing a pair of light grey slacks and a simple black T-shirt, his hair neat as always and she smiled at him, giving him a small wave as he nodded back, his face the epitome of Business Victor:

“I do not care what you think, I care what the ratings say. That report should have been on my desk yesterday.”

Oh no. Some poor soul dared to miss Victor’s deadline?! Nike walked over to the island and Victor kept talking to the other person as he opened the cupboard, pulled out a cup and poured hot coffee for her. She gave him an air kiss and he shook his head in mock-exasperation right before he barked in the phone:

“Your time slots are horrendous; your star is virtually unknown and you… I haven’t finished.”

It was the same sentence he told her the previous night but this time it was delivered without any affection and Nike shuddered:

“As I was saying, you are running late and not using your promotional opportunities well enough. I expect that report delivered to my home address by 2 p.m. today or you can start writing a premature ending to your show.”

He hung up, taking a deep breath and Nike eyed him tentatively:

“I suppose “good morning” is out of the question?”
Victor scoffed, stepping toward her and giving her a kiss on the forehead, fingers brushing through her hair:
“It’s getting better.”
“Who’s giving you grief?” Nike chuckled as Victor settled on the barstool, grabbing his coffee:
“The company producing those soap operas, as usual. Sometimes I wonder why I even gave them the time of day. It’s not like this will be the new Dynasty.”

Nike laughed at that, imagining Victor watching Dynasty:
“I forgot that show even existed.” She briefly remembered Greg, David’s best friend, who was an aspiring actor. She seemed to recall he wanted to get a role in a soap opera.
“Do you have a lot of work to do today? I will finish my coffee and be out of your hair…”
“Have I asked that?” Victor’s brow raised and Nike fiddled with her cup:
“Well, I don’t want to bother you while you’re working.”
“It’s just a report. I can read through it in a few minutes. I already know what will be in it. We agreed you’re spending the weekend, didn’t we?”

She grinned at him before taking a sip of coffee:
“Alright then. And why didn’t you wake me up?”
“I went for a swim, there was no point. I just came back.”

The late morning light was filling the apartment, dancing across marble and chrome and Nike thought how Victor’s eyes looked almost periwinkle in it. He did have such beautiful eyes, they changed colors and she would seem to see something new in them every day.

“Do you want me to cook something or do you want to go out to eat?”
“The weather is great.” She replied, chin resting on her hand, aware she’s staring at him, lovestruck.
“That’s not what I asked.” He smirked, returning her gaze in full and for a second, they just sat there, fingers sneaking across the marble countertop until they entwined them, drinking coffee in silence. His face was so soft, so beautiful in the morning sun and his scent fresh and reassuring, hand made even warmer by the coffee cup and for a moment, Nike thought time had stopped to let her enjoy the sight of him a while longer, letting her count his long eyelashes and run her fingers over the soft skin on his knuckles before he blinked, bringing her back to reality and Nike finally replied:
“We should go out. I think there’s some big mall around here. Maybe they have a cool pastry shop or something.”

So, they went out, Nike regretting that she forgot to bring her sunglasses along as the bright light assaulted her eyes and Victor clicked his tongue, opening the glove department in the car and handing her a pair of sunglasses:
“Don’t you need them?” She looked at him and he pulled out another pair:
“I keep two pairs around.”
“How convenient.” She grinned, slipping on the aviators he gave her. They felt slightly too big but the protection was great and she leaned back in her seat as he drove. Nike looked at him and furrowed her brows:
“Wait. Why do you keep two identical pairs of sunglasses?”
“They are not identical; the frames are different colors.”

She took the glasses off to look and sure enough, one pair had silver and the other black frames:
“But both these colors suit the same colored clothes.”
“One better than the other, depending on the clothes.”

Nike laughed:
“I didn’t know you’re a fashion expert!”
“I’m not. I’m not colorblind either.”

She decided to stop teasing him, pulling her phone out, noticing another message from Luna:

Police officer. He saved me from some grabby sleazeball at the club and helped me find Maya and Donna. His name is Gavin, he’s SO cute and I just dumbly didn’t say anything!
What kind of fun? Tell me everything!

Nike grinned, her cheeks heating up and Victor gave her a side-eye, shaking his head:
“Something funny?”

She flinched, putting the phone back into her purse:
“It’s just Luna. She met a guy last night and didn’t ask for his number.”
Victor paused for a second, brows knitting above the black frame of the glasses:
“Is there a punchline I am missing?”

Nike giggled:
“No, that’s pretty much it.”
“So, why are you grinning and blushing then?”

She hesitated for a second, taking her hair and flipping it over one shoulder:
“Girl talk.”

She wasn’t about to tell Victor Luna was grilling her for details about last night. She wasn’t about to share them with Luna anyway. They were friends since elementary school and they did talk about everything, including detailed analyses of their respective sex lives, but for some reason, Nike now felt like she would be doing something wrong by telling her and she had no idea why. Perhaps she was embarrassed because of how intense Victor was or perhaps she just wanted those things to remain between them; but it somehow just didn’t feel right to share it with anyone else.
But she dreaded the moment when she’d actually see Luna next, knowing she’ll be interrogated and teased to no end.

As if reading her mind, her phone buzzed with messages from their group chat. Nike decided to ignore them for the time being.
Victor was already parking the car at the mall and she put her phone away before they stepped out of the car:

“Any specific place you want to see?” Victor inquired as they fell into step together.
“Not really. I’ve never been to this mall; we can just walk around and see if we like anything.”
“Okay.” His hand grazed hers gently and she opened her fingers, gazing up at him as she put the sunglasses on her head and his hand slipped to take hers, fingers entwining.
It was warm and large and she felt kind of giddy to be holding hands with him in public. She never took Victor for someone who’d be holding hands. But then again, she never took him for someone she’d ever be in a situation to check that assumption, either. She grinned to herself, looking up at his face as he tucked his glasses into the collar of his shirt and he glanced back at her:

“Something you want to say?” He almost challenged her and she chuckled, elated:
“Not really. You’re just adorable.”
“Adorable?” Victor tested the word on his tongue, brows knitting even as he smiled:
“You should look in the mirror.”
“Was that a diss or a compliment?”

He clicked his tongue, squeezing her hand gently:
“Idiot.” He said the word endearingly and she laughed:
“You use that word as if it was the most versatile one in the thesaurus!”
He just shook his head, cheeks tinging pink and Nike’s chest swelled. So HE was embarrassed by cute stuff!

The mall was relatively crowded but nobody seemed in a rush and it was almost relaxing. Nike would glance at store windows here and there, noticing this mall was more high-end than the kind she usually went to, judging by elegant displays that hardly even contained any goods. She remembered how they always depicted Chanel and similar stores in movies… black and white and without much clothes in them at all, like you were buying prestige and not clothes; which you probably were.
How did the customers even know what the store offered, though? Was there some Rich People Catalog they were subscribed to or was it like, you had to attend a Chanel fashion show to know what their new collection had?

“See anything you like?” Victor pulled her out of her reverie and she shook her head:
“No, I was just thinking about how these shop windows don’t show us much at all.”
“That’s because you’re not supposed to do window shopping. Want to go inside?”

He nodded toward a Givenchy store and Nike shook her head fervently:
“No need!” Victor was just about to protest, she just knew it and she cut him off:
“We’re here for breakfast, aren’t we?”
“More like brunch.”
“Yeah, brunch. Do you see a restaurant nearby?”

They kept walking and Nike felt odd. She knew he was offering to buy her something and she regretted suggesting they come here; it was like that was what she was planning and that made her feel a little sleazy. She genuinely just wanted to check the place out and find a cool restaurant.

“You need to stop being so uncomfortable around me.”
Victor said seriously and she was aware she gave him a nervous chuckle:
“I’m not.”
“And you need to stop lying.”
“No, it’s just… we’re not here for shopping.”
“Okay. Still, if you see something you like, let me know.”
“Will do.” She won’t. She avoided even looking at store windows from that point onward and she started noticing the people they were passing by.
Some of them, mostly women, would look at Victor with obvious interest and Nike felt uncomfortable again. There she was, walking hand-in-hand with this gorgeous, elegant man who seemed like he belonged in a fancy place like this, whereas she was in her Levi’s and probably staring like a kid in a chocolate factory. If they ever visit a mall again, it will be the one in her neighborhood, in all its H&M and Zara glory. This was too much for her.

She nearly frowned at a couple of women who had the audacity to glance at their hands and then give her a dismissive once-over. Every woman knows what that means:
He’s with YOU? Really?!

But she really was and Victor didn’t seem to see anything odd about that. If anything, judging by that delicious, toe-curling look he gave her last night, he was pretty happy about her being there. And he was the one who initiated hand-holding, so it was safe to assume he thought it was perfectly fine for everyone to see that they were together.
Together. She mulled the word over. Did that mean they were boyfriend and girlfriend now? You don’t usually hold hands with just anyone. She absolutely despised the “so, what are we now?” question and she hoped she would never have to ask it.
Would she feel this weird if they haven’t had sex last night? If they just fell asleep snuggling and held hands today, would anything be different?

Nike then noticed a woman wearing a gorgeous teal dress approaching them. She did always love that color. The woman looked gorgeous herself, she realized. Her hair was black and down to her waist, her face small and classically beautiful. She also didn’t have a dismissive scowl plastered on it. On the contrary, her lips curved into a smile that only grew as she approached them until she was a couple of steps away, tilting her head:

“Victor, it IS you!”
Nike froze for a second, immediately admonishing herself. Why was she nervous? Of course, it was bound to happen that they would run into someone Victor knew sooner or later. She shouldn’t even be surprised that it was a gorgeous woman. Victor surely knew many of those. She stupidly comforted herself that at least this woman was as tall as she was. She’d probably wither if she had to look up at her.

“Hello, Amelia.” Victor nodded, without a trace of annoyance and then turned to Nike:
“Nike, this is Amelia. Amelia, Nike.”

Victor never let go of her left hand and she extended her right one for a handshake, Amelia’s smile almost reaching her ears and Nike noticed it was also present in her eyes, this realization comforting her.

“Nice to meet you, Nike. I love your hair, is that your natural color?”
Nike grinned. She was used to women asking her about her hair:
“Nice to meet you, too, Amelia. Yes, it is.”
“Color me envious!” She giggled “It’s so pretty!”
“Thank you.”

Amelia turned to Victor, the smile still on her face:
“Never thought I’d run into you here. Doing well?”
“Yes, thank you. Yourself?”

Victor actually uttered a “thank you” during the small talk! Nike tried to study his face inconspicuously. It was relaxed and he seemed… glad to see Amelia?
Then it clicked. Of course! She was an ex-girlfriend! Nike was suddenly entirely sure of it.

“Oh, I’m doing great. I’m on holiday now, just came back from Korea.”
Her gaze went back to Nike:
“Do you think I have too much of a tan?” Her face scrunched in concern and Nike almost giggled. She barely had a tan!
“No, it’s perfect, very subtle.”
“Thank you! You know how it is, buying new shades of foundation for summer and winter.”
“It’s a drag, I know.”

Amelia was actually… bubbly. Nike didn’t know what she expected but she almost reminded her of Luna. Did Victor actually like dating cheerful people?
Amelia suddenly glanced at her watch and Nike noticed a wedding ring:

“Well, I don’t want to be keeping you lovebirds any longer! It was nice to see you again, Victor; and nice to meet you, Nike! Have a great day, alright?”

She gave them a small wave that Nike returned while Victor just nodded with a small smile.
She called them lovebirds. It made Nike grin.

“She’s sweet.” She commented once they were out of earshot and Victor just nodded:
“I suppose.”
He clearly didn’t want to say anything else and Nike thought she probably shouldn’t prod so they kept walking in silence for a while but she couldn’t help but wonder when they dated, how they met and why they broke up. She was aware of the fact that Victor surely did have exes but she never expected to meet one, let alone have a good impression of her. Did she expect some uptight perfect robot lady?

“You’re awfully silent,” Victor remarked and Nike glanced up at him only to see him looking at her warmly:
“Well, so are you. Guess I’m just a little surprised.”
“By what?”
“I didn’t expect to run into an ex of yours.” She giggled and Victor’s eyes widened a fraction:
“How did you…” He shook his head with a defeated smile: “Women. Yes, we used to date back in college. Haven’t seen her in years.”
Nike nodded:
“I see. Well, she seems very nice.”
“She is,” Victor said seriously and for some reason, Nike felt glad to hear it. It was kind of reassuring that Victor had an ex he had a good opinion of. That’s usually a good sign. Yes, she was way more beautiful than Nike, but beauty isn’t everything, right? They broke up, after all.

Victor’s cell phone rang and he scrunched his nose briefly upon looking at the screen.
“A second.”
He picked up and Nike decided to give him some space as she noticed a bookstore, stepping away to look at some of the titles, completely forgetting her earlier promise to herself that she will not window-shop.

Yet another new Harry Potter book? She didn’t know those were still being written.
And they seemed to be promoting some Japanese authors as well. Osamu Dazai… she vaguely remembered reading that book over there when she was a student. Maybe she should reread it, most of those books become interesting only when the reader was past a certain age.

Lost in thought, she barely noticed a young man waving at her from the bookstore. He stepped out with his purchase, a broad smile on his face:

Nike’s eyes widened when she saw Greg:
“Hello, Greg!”
“Haven’t seen you in forever, didn’t know you came here!”

Greg greeted her with the usual peck on the cheek and she was a little surprised. Why was he being nice to her, she expected David probably badmouthed her to his best friend. Well, that was a mean thought. Maybe he didn’t. Or maybe Greg didn’t want to be a part of it either way.

“Oh, no, this is my first time here, I just…”

She followed Greg’s suddenly cooling gaze only to notice Victor was coming back. He briefly nodded to Greg, casting a glance at Nike:
“More books? Don’t you want us to finish Storm Front first?”

Nike was still absorbed in Greg’s stiffening expression, one of intense displeasure as he held out his hand:
“Nice to see you again, Mr. Lee.”

Victor returned the handshake and Nike cursed herself for being stupid. Was it possible that Greg actually DID become a soap opera actor at the company Victor was investing in?
She felt icicles emanating from Greg’s gaze as he leveled it back on Nike, making her cross her arms instinctively as he tried to sound casual:

“So, what are you up to these days, Nike?”

Nike wished to disappear.
“Uhm, just working, preparing for my LSAT, you know. Yourself?”
Her whole body was stiff without her even realizing why. She wasn’t doing anything wrong, although that was hard to believe with Greg’s gaze boring holes in her:
“We’re wrapping up filming of our second season. If all goes well, we’ll be making many more.”

He cast a glance at Victor, who dialed a number and stepped away to make another phone call. Once he was a safe distance away, Greg’s gaze turned a little more sympathetic and sadder:

“And I thought David was worried over nothing. I defended you.”

Nike blinked a few times, feeling like she just got slapped:
“You defended me? What from?”
“He’s very hurt, Nike. I told him there’s no way in hell he would lose you to him.”

A surge of anger bloomed in her throat:
“I am not a set of keys to be lost, Greg.” She tried to keep her voice quiet: “David was the one who dumped me and very cowardly if I may add; you might as well know since you seem to believe my life is any of your business.”

Greg frowned at that, clicking his tongue as he shook his head like he couldn’t believe what he was hearing:
“There’s no need to be so rude. He’s my best friend, I’m worried about him.”
“Oh, you give yourself the right to stick your nose in my business, but I’m the one who’s rude? As a concerned friend, you might want to tell him to think before he acts like a complete brat next time he’s butthurt over not being the center of the universe.”

Not giving him a chance to reply, Nike marched over to Victor’s side, not caring that he was still on the phone. Her heart was beating wildly in her throat, making her feel almost nauseous.
Nike never liked confrontations. She would get these intense surges of boldness if need be but they would always leave her with immense anxiety afterward.

Trying to give herself something to do, she pulled out her phone, only half-reading the messages in the group chat. Her stomach was in knots and she was angry. Who did David and Greg think they were, she wasn’t an object to be sold off to the highest bidder! She wasn’t just a thing to compete over and it was just so disgusting that she would be the one who was left but then she was also the one blamed that she didn’t curl up and die suffering! What did they expect, that she would beg David to take her back or something? Did they think she was obligated to be miserable?

She was nearly fuming when she noticed Victor was looking at her intently:
“What’s wrong?”
He raised an eyebrow and opened his mouth but she cut him off, speaking through gritted teeth:
“Please let me chill for a minute.”

Victor glanced at Greg’s retreating back, nodding:
“Okay. I found a restaurant.”

He waited for her to speak and Nike was grateful for that. She was not often angry, or at least not this angry and she wasn’t sure she wouldn’t snap if forced to talk while in that state. She was not even hungry anymore so she barely ate anything, her fork grazing the plate absent-mindedly.
Was she supposed to feel guilty that she was dating so soon after the breakup? Was she supposed to feel guilty because the person she was dating was Victor?

Even Nike didn’t quite understand how they got where they did. It all happened so fast and it was still awkward and she was not entirely relaxed around Victor yet. He was different than anybody she ever liked or dated before. But she LIKED him, for some inexplicable reason. Victor was blunt, rigid and by-the-book, but… he was also something more. She noticed he could be gentle, considerate, maybe even romantic and sweet. She couldn’t be entirely sure, but she suspected he wasn’t very comfortable or adept at expressing emotions. A while back, she thought he had none, but now she knew better. He certainly did have emotions and some of them were probably warm and sweet.

But she also thought that maybe that would be a problem; if Victor couldn’t express them and she couldn’t comprehend his roundabout ways…
She reprimanded herself. They weren’t even that serious, at least not yet. He probably didn’t feel anything for her past attraction at this point. That gaze from last night was probably just him being turned on.
Maybe they will never even get serious.
That thought made her sad and it took her a few moments to comprehend that. Why would not becoming serious with him make her sad? She did like him, but it was way too early to anticipate any deep emotions… wasn’t it?
She sighed, resting her chin on her hand, frustrated when she realized she was overthinking things.

Victor broke the silence:
“Do you not like the food?”
For a second, Nike tried to substitute his words for “are you alright?” and thought his tone matched that sentence, too. It improved her mood a tiny bit.
“I’m not hungry.”
“Still angry?”
“Not really. But I still feel gross.”
“Talk to me.”

Nike toyed with a strand of her hair as Victor locked eyes with her. There was a slight crease between his brows and she wanted to kiss it away.

“That guy is David’s best friend.” She finally said with a sigh.
“He kinda guilt-tripped me.”

Victor’s brows dipped and the crease deepened:
She groaned:
“He basically said he “defended” me,“ She made air quotes “telling David he could never…” She clenched her teeth, feeling angry and disgusted all over again “lose me to you.”
Victor’s jaw tightened as coldness washed over his face:
“He said that?”
Nike glanced back at her plate, tossing food around with her fork:
“Yes. So, I kinda told him off.”

Victor remained silent for a while and Nike stole glimpses at him, recognizing his expression. She had seen this one before. Behind the cold, rigid exterior, there was boiling anger. Her mind switched from her own frustration to an attempt to calm him down:

“It’s not that serious, really; it’s just that I was shocked by that. It’s rude. I feel like I was compared to an inanimate object that can just be passed from one hand to another, or a prize to be won or some other chauvinist shit like that. That sucks so much; but… it’s just a stupid remark, I’ll get over it.”

Victor didn’t immediately reply, taking a sip of water as she recognized he was in thought. She forced herself to eat another bite of the waffle, feeling it dry in her mouth even though it was expertly prepared. She washed it down with her lemonade.

Victor smoothed the front of his T-shirt over and she would have chuckled if his face wasn’t so serious. He seemed to have forgotten he wasn’t wearing a tie.

“You made your decision to date me.”
He exclaimed quietly and Nike thought it might have actually been a question, so she nodded.
“Of course I did. Like I make all my other decisions.”

Victor bit on his lip and he almost looked… vulnerable:
“Do you regret it?”
His voice was almost a whisper and her eyes widened in shock as she shook her head immediately:
“No! Where did you get that from?”

It was his turn to look surprised and Nike was confused. Why was the ultra-confident Victor surprised that she liked him? She thought he knew that better than she even did.

“Just checking.” His lips tightened as the vulnerability she thought she had seen vanished as if it was never even there: “If that’s true, why do you care what anybody says?”

Nike blinked, cheeks heating up in sudden shame. He was right, she shouldn’t get so riled up over other people’s opinions, but all she could think about was one part of that sentence:
“Just checking if it’s true? You think I am lying to you?”
“I didn’t say that.” His tone was cold and she felt her anger resurfacing:
“Then what did you say? What was the point of that statement?”

Victor took a deep breath that only fanned the flames of her anger. This was the “you idiot” breath:
“I merely thought it would help you put things into perspective if you said it out loud.”

Was he playing therapist now?! Nike kept blinking rapidly, her heart beating wildly in her chest:
“I do have things in perspective, Victor. I just hate people being rude to me.”
“Why do you care?”
“What do you mean, why do I care?”

Another frustrated breath:
“You made your own decision. For yourself. Not for anyone else.”
“I know that, but…”
“Do you know how many times people have said stupid and rude things to me about the decisions I have made or about the life I lead? And that’s probably only the 10% that had the guts to say it to my face. I didn’t care. So, unless you are doubting your decision, there’s no reason you should care either.”

His gaze was dead serious and she just stared at him for a while before she tried to question herself whether this was his way of comforting her? What would a softer person say? What would Luna say, for example:
“Honey, unless they’re paying your bills, pay no mind to those bitches! People always talk shit about others, you live your own life, screw them! You know what’s best for you!”

With that translation, it didn’t sound so harsh. Still, she wished Victor would get in the habit of validating her feelings and not just always focusing on the cold, hard facts. Feelings were not always entirely rational; she was allowed to have an emotional response while she’s processing something and slowly arriving at that rational conclusion. Not everybody was as rational as Victor, after all.
Yet, the glimpse of his fragility she saw gnawed at her:

“Why do you think I might be regretting my decision?”
“Because somebody’s words made you doubt it.”

She hung her head. He was right. But… she tried to rationalize. She wasn’t exactly doubting her decision, she still wanted to stay with Victor, but she still felt guilty. Why? Why was her conscience weighing on her, she didn’t cheat, she didn’t lie, she wasn’t using anybody, she wasn’t…
A lump formed in her throat as she started speaking before she got a chance to change her mind:

“I hate hurting people, Victor.”
He opened his mouth and she raised a shaky hand to stop him:
“Please let me finish.”
He obediently shut his mouth and gestured for her to go on with a nod:
“I haven’t made my decision a year back, months back, or even that many weeks back. I made it when you asked me out. But I made it so easily that I’m surprised with myself. I… cannot help but feel like I actually wanted to make it way back and I feel guilty because of that. Can you understand that?”

She searched his face and he nodded slowly, recognizing she wasn’t quite done yet:
“I was often accused of having feelings for you. I always denied it and I thought I was being honest but now…”
She ran a hand down her face with a deep breath:
“I never regret my decisions when it comes to the people I date.” She emphasized this deliberately and Victor’s brows raised almost imperceptibly:
“There is not a single person in my past I regret dating, even if I’m angry with them or disappointed in them or want nothing to do with them in the future. I also never regret those decisions once I make them… if it’s over, it’s over. However, that doesn’t mean I hate the person, nor does it mean I want them hurt. Does that make sense?”

She hoped he would understand what she was saying. Victor blinked slowly, crossing his arms and she thought for a moment that he either didn’t believe her or simply couldn’t relate.

“It does. You’re too soft-hearted.”
“And I don’t want to be any other way.” She raised her chin stubbornly and Victor’s lips curved into a slight smile:
“I didn’t say I disliked it.”
She finally felt her muscles relax. Victor then continued, almost tentatively:

“There’s no need for you to feel guilty. You did nothing wrong. It’s stupid to beat yourself up over something you didn’t do.”
“Are you trying to comfort me or make me feel stupid on top of feeling guilty?”
She squinted and Victor clicked his tongue in frustration; with her or himself, she wasn’t sure:
“My point is you should just let it go. If you don’t regret your decision and if you want to be with me, than be with me; not with past hang-ups or pointless emotions.”

Despite herself, Nike laughed:
“Pointless emotions? Is that your umbrella term for all emotions?”
“No.” His reply was stiff and she was still smiling:
“Then what are non-pointless emotions?”

Victor leaned in, shaking his head in that endearing, almost exasperated manner:
“Well, you’re smiling now. That’s not entirely pointless.”
Her heart started fluttering:
“I thought you considered my smile dumb.”
“That doesn’t mean I don’t like it.”

She was amused now. Amused and endeared:
“It IS dumb but you like it?”
“That’s what I just said.”
She kept grinning at him and after a resigned sigh, he smiled back:
“It’s one of my favorite expressions on you.”
“One of them? What are the others?”

Victor smirked in a devilish way before he pretended to think:
“Your focused face when you’re hard at work. Your expression when you’re engrossed in something you find interesting. Your face when you’re confident in yourself when you succeed.”
He stood up slightly, leaning into her ear and whispering:
“And your faces when you’re begging for my cock and falling apart on it.”

Her cheeks burned as her breath caught and she frantically looked around, as if it was possible for anyone but her to have heard that and Victor sat back down, chuckling:
“Also your embarrassed face and I’m not apologizing for that.”

Nike fumbled with her own fingers:
“I… you don’t have to apologize.”
“Then what do I have to do?” He feigned ignorance and she grinned, her cheeks hot and her eyes narrowing:
“You have to make me make only your favorite expressions.”
“That’s the plan.”  

Chapter Text

Luna was smirking at her phone, knowing she would have to grill Nike tomorrow afternoon or wherever she gets to see her in person next. It was only fair; they’ve always shared fun details like that.
She sighed. She has been single for a while now, having broken up with her previous partner because they moved to Europe and didn’t want to have a long-distance relationship.
That was over a year ago. Since then, she’s had a couple of dates or hookups and having sex was fine, but nobody really caught her eye and made her wish to get to know them better.

She figured that simply doesn’t happen anymore once you’re an adult. She was 24 and perhaps now liking somebody was more subdued, no more hammering in the chest, butterflies in the stomach or wobbly knees.
And then she saw Gavin. She definitely DID feel wobbly all over. Tongue-tied as well, which was the one symptom of liking someone she hated. Luna was not quite as romantic to believe in love at first sight, but a crush at first sight? Definitely.
Why didn’t she say anything?!
Now, she will probably never see him again and she bet those wide shoulders that looked so hot in a denim jacket would look even better in uniform and he could use his handcuffs…

She giggled in self-deprecation. That was terribly objectifying and thirsty of her. Gavin surely had other qualities except for his amazing looks. But since she’ll never see him again…
She can let her imagination run wild. Does he ride one of those police motorcycles? Hmmm, sex on a bike…

Head still light in post-orgasmic bliss, she left her apartment after a quick shower. She should really buy some groceries and make herself a proper dinner that evening. Working at a catering company often meant she was sick and tired of the kitchen by the time she got home. But one of her coworkers shared a great recipe with her the other day and she was curious.
Her step light, she perused the isles of the nearby supermarket, willing herself to not buy 2 packets of biscuits again.
She tried to recall all the spices her coworker mentioned he put in his dish and whether she had all of them at home; thinking she might have used up all of her turmeric.
Frowning, she eyed the spice shelf. Why were the smaller packets so high up? She stood on her tiptoes, trying to reach and figuring she might have to wait until nobody was watching her and then jump and grab the packet. Why was everything against short people? Couldn’t they have put some step ladders around the store or something?

“Which one do you need?”
A pleasant voice and a subtle waft of pine-smelling cologne washed over her and she smiled even before she turned around and stared wide-eyed at Gavin. Did she summon him?! Could the hot cop scent-trail thirsty women? That sounded like something out of very self-indulgent fan fiction. But there SHOULD be fan fiction about this man; Luna thought, I mean, look at him!

His denim jacket was flung over the handle of his shopping basket, chest and biceps in full glory in a crisp white T-shirt. She wanted to dump a bucket of water on him just to see that T-shirt wet.
And man, his face looked even better now that she could see it properly. Those eyes were the color of caramel, large and beautiful, long eyelashes framing them; and his jawline… god, his jawline!

“Seems like you’re my hero.” She blabbered before thinking and Gavin chuckled, shifting his weight from one foot to another, obviously a little flustered. He was shy?! For some reason, it made him even hotter.
“I’m happy to help.” He murmured with a small smile, hand reaching for the back of his neck.
“I hope you didn’t have any more problems at the club last night?”
“No, everything was fine. But I didn’t even get the chance to thank you properly. I really appreciate you stepping in as you did.”

Gavin’s face turned serious, features tightening and Luna found it very hot:
“Well, I cannot just ignore harassment when I see it.” His eyes shifted from Luna to the shelf, like he was  a little nervous:
“So, which spice should I grab?”
“Oh! The little orange bag please, turmeric.”
“One bag?”
“Yes, please.”

He took the bag with ease and handed it to her, fingers brushing and she locked eyes with him, finding it adorable how he cleared his throat at the touch. She placed the bag in her basket, smiling at him:
“Thank you so much.”
“You’re welcome.”

They stood there in silence for a while and Luna admonished herself; why was she tongue-tied again?! She decided to bite the bullet:
“Uhm, say… if you’re not terribly busy, would you let me buy you a cup of coffee? I really want to thank you somehow.”
She wanted to “thank him” in ways way less innocent than a cup of coffee. Gavin rubbed the back of his neck again, those beautiful eyes locking with a random spot next to her:
“Well, I mean, there’s no need to thank me like that, I just did what any normal person would do.”

Luna’s face fell. There she was, hitting on him and he probably wasn’t interested or he had a girlfriend… yeah, he probably had a girlfriend.
“But, you know…” he cleared his throat again “Coffee does sound nice.”

She couldn’t prevent a huge grin that appeared on her face:
“Great! I know the perfect place!”

She took him to a great coffee shop nearby and silently enjoyed the cute expressions he was making while obviously trying to look cool. She couldn’t help but wonder if there was a sexy beast hidden under there somewhere, waiting to be unleashed once he relaxed enough.

“So, what do you do?” He finally asked and Luna smiled sweetly:
“I work at my family’s catering company. I’m kind of an Everything Manager.”
Gavin chuckled:
“So, what is the hardest thing to manage?”
“Bridezillas.” She replied immediately and Gavin laughed incredulously:
“I’m serious. Catering weddings is a trial like no other. Did you know that the color of the salmon must match the trims on the bridesmaids’ dresses?”

Gavin was still laughing, eyes wide and Luna felt a thump in her chest looking at his smile. He finally calmed down with a loud sigh:
“Well, I wish I had funny things like that to share about my job.”
“Come on, you must have something!”

She leaned in, eyes glinting expectantly. Gavin thought for a moment, rubbing his chin before he finally grinned in recollection:
“One guy used his one call to call his friend to tell him he lost their bet about not being able to be arrested on one’s birthday.”
“What? Did he think there’s some birthday magic that prevents you from getting arrested?”
“You haven’t heard the best part yet. It was April 1st that day, so the other guy didn’t even believe him.”

Luna started laughing, trying to talk:
“So… you mean to tell me… the guy’s birthday was one giant joke gone bad?”
Gavin snorted:
“Yeah, guess you can say that.” 
She chuckled some more, eyes locked with him. He carried his own smile in his eyes and she felt warm all over:
“And you say you have no fun stories.”
His brows furrowed half-apologetically:
“Well, there are a couple. Mostly, it’s not all that light-hearted.”

Her face turned serious as she nodded:
“Yes, of course. Sorry if I was rude. I really appreciate what you and your coworkers do.”
Gavin tilted his head, rubbing his temple, cheeks tinging pink:
“Thank you very much. And don’t worry, you weren’t rude. I guess it’s good to think about the fun aspects of one’s job every once in a while.”

They sat there in silence for a few moments, sipping at their coffee and Luna thought how the silence didn’t feel entirely uncomfortable before Gavin broke it again:
“This place is good. I’ve never been here before.”
She grinned:
“I actually discovered it because of my work. One of my clients suggested we met here to discuss her order.”
“Was she one of the bridezillas?” He teased and Luna rolled her eyes, chuckling:
“Actually, no, she was already married but she and her husband were renewing their vows.”
“That sounds sweet.”

Luna was just about to think about how it could be perceived as odd to talk about weddings with a guy she had just met, but he seemed to genuinely mean what he said.
“It was. They are sweet people.”

Gavin nodded, looking out the shop window for a second, voice casual:
“Do you like bowling?”
Luna was surprised by his sudden change of topic:
“I haven’t bowled in years, but yes. Why?”

He cleared his throat and ran his finger through his hair and Luna noticed he wore small stud earrings. Were policemen allowed to wear earrings?
“Well… you took me to a place you like and there’s this bowling alley that I like so, you know… we could go there sometime this week?”

He was inviting her on a date?! She barely suppressed her desire to pop off.
“Sure, I’d love to.” She must have beamed because Gavin’s blush intensified as he smiled back.
“We should exchange numbers.”

Nike’s mood improved after the half-eaten brunch and the spring in her step was back, until Victor nodded toward the pair of his glasses still on top of her head, trying to lead her into a Ray-Ban store:

“Those are too big for you. You should choose another pair.”
“I have sunglasses at home, Victor, I just forgot to bring them along; it’s fine.”

He raised a dissatisfied eyebrow and sighed. She knew that look. She counted the seconds until he pinched the bridge of his nose:
“Why are you so stubborn?”
“Why do you insist on buying me things?”
“Why wouldn’t I?”
Nike huffed, the fact they were holding hands preventing her from crossing her arms.
“See, this is why we don’t answer questions with more questions, we’re getting nowhere.”
“You started it.”
She groaned, half frustrated and half-amused:
“Well, alright, let me rephrase it, I am stubborn because you keep insisting. Now, why do you keep insisting?”
Victor looked at her like she just asked the dumbest question in the world:
“It’s nothing abnormal.” He said defensively: “I want to give you presents. And before you start, I am not doing it because I am trying to buy your affections.”
Nike realized now that he was probably offended that she thought he did. How hadn’t she thought of that before?
“It’s not that…” She replied in a small voice: “I just can’t give you the same kind of gifts in return. It’s not like I can just saunter into a store and buy you a Rolex or something.”
“I have plenty of watches already.”
“That’s not the point and you know it!”

Victor chuckled:
“You seem to think this is a competition. That’s not how presents work.”

He was right. You were supposed to give presents because you wanted to make the other person happy. Getting one back shouldn’t enter your thought process. She finally gave a resigned sigh:

“But I really don’t need sunglasses.”
“You can’t have mine.” He quipped and she smacked him on the arm:
“I wasn’t planning on that!”
“Just saying. They look better on me than they do on you.”
Nike laughed, rolling her eyes:
“Good to know you’re humble. Sunglasses are not typical girlfriend prey anyway.”

Victor stopped at that, turning toward her and pulling her slightly closer by her hand. He towered over her, a glint in his violet-blue eyes and a smile that she found was making her knees weak on his lips:
“Oh really? So what IS the typical girlfriend prey then?”

Nike’s brain caught up. She just called herself his girlfriend! And he didn’t seem to mind?!
“T-shirts. Hoodies. Dress shirts. Things like that.”
Victor seemed to be thinking about that for a second, slowly closing the distance between their faces, lips brushing against her temple:
“Do you think those would look better on you than they do on me?”
“I don’t know. We can check.”
“Remember not to complain if I end up wrinkling the shirt you’re wearing.”

She giggled, cheeks hot and he continued:
“And I really need to teach you there’s a penalty for smacking me like you just did.”

Victor grabbed the delivered report, giving Nike the look that signified he had a plan. Most likely, one that would make her cheeks bright red:
“I’ll be in the study. Join me when you have chosen which shirt of mine you want to wear.”
Nike bit her lip, imagining any of Victor’s shirts would look more like an oversized dress on her:
“Is that an order?” She teased and his expression turned stern:
“I thought that was obvious.”
“Well, in that case, yes, Sir.” She grinned.

She turned to leave and Victor added casually:
“I don’t want you wearing anything but the shirt, understood?”
And there it was, her cheeks were red.
What did he have planned, anyway? Something to make her beg again, no doubt. Her ears tingled. Maybe this time she could try to avoid it? She got an idea.

Nike always wanted to have a walk-in closet. Although, the closet she was envisioning whenever she indulged that fantasy was not as big as the reality of the one she walked in some moments later.
Fortunately for her, everything was perfectly tidy and color-coordinated so she could see white dress shirts immediately.
Unable to suppress her curiosity, she looked around.
Victor actually had multiple pieces that were completely the same. Which, if she thought about it, didn’t surprise her. He did seem like the type of person to stick with something he liked.
She counted 7 silvery-grey ties, the kind she would see him with most often and she had to touch them and turn them to shift the light before she noticed they were not the same after all, some having a very subtle pattern. One would have to look at the tie point-blank to see that, what was the point?

With a resigned sigh, she stood before the rack with white shirts. Now, those did look like they were all the same, so she took one, placing it in front of her body while it was still on the hanger and looking in the mirror. Yep. An oversized dress. But she supposed it would look cute.
Nike always liked borrowing the clothes of her boyfriends. She would try to really borrow them, meaning she would usually give them back, but she still had a couple of “stolen” T-shirts at home. They were her favorite pajamas.
Frowning, she remembered some of them were David’s. He didn’t take them back when he came to pick up all his other stuff.
One of them had the image of Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side Of The Moon album cover and she now rolled her eyes. That seemed to be every alternative person’s uniform. At least she never even touched any of his Nirvana T-shirts. Nike hated Nirvana.
The other depicted a confused, shrugging cartoonish zombie, with “I.D.K.” imprinted under the picture and she took that one just because of the genius pun. The material was also very soft and the print still hadn’t cracked, so she considered that a success.

Turning away from the full-size mirror, for the time being, she took her clothes off, pausing right before she slid her panties down her legs. He did say nothing but the shirt.
Heart pounding in her belly, she carefully unbuttoned the shirt and took it off the heavy, satin-protected hanger.

“No wire hangers!!!” she did her best Joan Collins impression, which, admittedly, was still horrible; as she threw the shirt on, fingers clumsy as she discovered the buttons were on the right side. That’s right, female shirts were still produced like they would have to be put on by maids. She scoffed.
This shirt was nice. The material was smooth and cool against her skin and she wondered if it wrinkles as she smoothed it down and turned to look in the mirror.
It was almost halfway down her thighs and she immediately noticed the material was not entirely opaque, a tiny hint of her nipples visible. She buttoned it all the way up to the collar as if that would help.
The sleeves were way too long. Should she roll them up? Well, maybe a little. No sleeves should cover anyone’s fingers. 

But, in a sense, it did look cute and she smiled. Maybe she should steal this one. 

Victor was doing his best to focus on the report when all he could think about was bending Nike over his desk and spanking her ass a shade of pink that would match her cheeks. She would get so flustered and yet she would melt at his touch, letting him play with her however he liked. He loved the hunger in her eyes as she drew ragged breaths, those lips parted and swollen from his kisses, hair disheveled and legs trembling while she was so, so wet for him.

He took a steadying breath, trying to focus on the graph he was looking at but it just looked like a curve of her spine if she were on all fours.
And the idea of her wearing his clothes… he loved it. It was such a clear sign that she was his and that she was loving it and… would she choose a black shirt, a white one…?
She rarely wore white, but, over the past year, he had seen her in a white shirt a couple of times and he always thought it suited her remarkably well, it would bring out the copper in her hair and the emerald green in her eyes and she looked so innocent, yet very alluring at the same time and he would always have to go over the most ridiculous figures in his mind to get it off of the thought of unbuttoning her shirt and burying his face between those perky breasts of hers, running his tongue along the smooth flesh while he’s pinning her against his desk and she’s entwining her fingers in his hair…

The sound of her clearing her throat brought him out of his failed attempts to calm his arousal and he gripped the papers, resisting the urge to immediately look up at her and probably stare like an idiot.
Instead, he languidly uncrossed his legs and slid the chair out a tiny bit, motioning for her to approach him. He caught her nervously pulling the hem of the shirt down her thighs. It was a white shirt. The corner of his lip twitched. Still pretending to read, he tapped on his thigh with his free hand and she tentatively sat sideways in his lap, his arm wrapping around her small waist, fingers brushing against the soft strands of her hair. She smelled so good. The shirt was as big on her as he suspected and it made him harder. Flipping the page with his free hand, he tried to keep his voice sounding almost disinterested:

“I am almost done with this. Be a good, quiet girl for me, will you?”

She nodded and he knew she blushed even as she wrapped one arm around his neck, her other hand in her own lap as her tiny, bare feet hung in the air.
He kept half-reading, fingertips mapping out the curve of her waist, her hip, sliding along her spine all the way up to her shoulder blades only to languidly slip down again to her tailbone.
She snuggled up closer, nails gently drawing up his nape as her other hand laid on his chest now, right above his now quickened heartbeat.
Victor felt her body tense just a tiny bit, thigh obviously brushing against the bulge in his pants right before her tongue ran against the shell of his ear and he nearly shuddered, trying to ignore her.

She sucked on his earlobe softly, teeth grazing and it took all his mental fortitude not to gasp. His ears were his weak point and she was exploiting the fact. Bad girl.
She started laying soft, slow kisses down his neck, along his jawline as her hands cupped his head gently and he knew there was no way he could comprehend a single word on the paper he was looking at. He let go of the damn folder, hand running from her bare knee up her thigh, under the shirt and his cock throbbed at how she parted her legs immediately and gasped right into his ear.
He let his fingertips brush against her slit right before he brought his nails down her thigh. Already wet.

“Impatient.” He chided, hoping he sounded strict rather than overjoyed:
“Do I need to entertain you or will you let me work?”

She shook her head against his neck, whispering softly in his ear:
“Please keep working, don’t mind me.”

Victor’s brow shot up in confusion when she stood up and he barely had time to wonder if he turned her off when she pushed his chair back and slid down on her knees in front of him.
He kept a straight face as he looked down at her even as he felt himself throb at the sight.
A distinct blush on her cheeks, she smiled up at him and he felt his heart swell. To say that he never entertained this particular fantasy would be a brazen lie.
He often imagined her sucking him off under his desk, her little knees slightly red afterward, obviously showing she spent some time on them for the rest of the day and it had made him as ashamed as he was turned on by it. He would make her eyes water and her lipstick would be ruined, he would probably dishevel her hair and he tried to care but the image of him sliding past her soft lips was too inviting.

He even often imagined her smiling up at him but no image in his mind could compare to the real thing as she was looking up at him, eyes warm and soft, cheeks pink, wearing nothing but his shirt and initiating this all by herself. He couldn’t help smiling back, back of his hand caressing her cheek softly:

“Are you that eager to get my cock you can’t even let me finish a single report?”

Her pink cheeks flared to a blazing red, but her eyes twinkled and the smile broadened as she nodded, unzipping his pants:

“Are you complaining?” She teased and Victor straightened his face even as he helped her slide his garments down enough to release his length:
“That depends on how well you perform.”
Her little fingers wrapped around the base of his cock as she broke eye contact to lay a kiss on his tip and he shuddered:
“Is there an incentive?”
Victor’s already clammy fingers gripped at the paper as she playfully pecked his sensitive tip over and over again like she was trying to make him stutter. It almost worked:
“Your incentive should be the prospect of me coating that brazen tongue of yours with my cum.”

He looked down at her, even her ears how red but then she giggled, voice lowering to a tentative, but teasing murmur:
“So… liquid assets?”

Victor bit his lip to suppress a chuckle that threatened to emerge. This silly smartass!
“That just earned you a harsher punishment than what I already have planned for you.”

She stopped mid-lick from his base to tip and he knew she wasn’t done digging her own grave. Brat.
“Well, at least you’re not pulling out, Mr. Investor.”

This time, his lips twitched into a smirk:
“Remember you said that and get on with it.”

Nike giggled as she lowered her kneel, lips grazing against his balls, tongue poking out to tease, running between them and Victor clenched his teeth at how good that felt right before she gently took one of them in her mouth, sucking just hard enough to make him throb in her hand that stroked him slowly, thumb brushing against his head, smearing precum around and he gasped, throwing his head back against the chair, looking at the ceiling as she gave her attention to his other testicle, lips so soft and tongue warm against it, taking her time making his mind draw a complete blank. He focused on the way her mouth felt as it dragged along the underside of his cock, laying wet kisses, her tongue tracing the curve between shaft and tip and his cock drooled as he now looked down at her, her eyes closed as she let her tongue explore, twirling around all his sensitive spots and when she dipped the tip of it into his slit in one slow pass, his fingers gripped at her hair:

“Look at me.” He nearly hissed and her eyes met his, her tongue still teasing him, her cheeks pink but a smile in her gaze as she let a drop of her saliva coat him and he throbbed, her lips sliding past his tip, tightening around the edge of it. He shuddered.
She was thoroughly enjoying this and it made it all the better. As her tongue ran flat up and down his length, her lips dipping back down to give playful sucks to his balls and she took her time in making him soaking wet, Victor thought how he never had a woman show this much enthusiasm giving him a blowjob. She hasn’t even taken him in her mouth past the tip yet and he was already soaring high, his head swimming with pleasure. If she did it like this every time, he might just get addicted to it. His mind trailed off with the idea of him stopping time wherever he pleased and having her get down on her knees before a pang of jealousy shot through him and he gripped the edge of his desk.
Was she doing it like this every time? With every guy? Showing this much desire and passion?

Her lips slid down on his length and she hummed, sending vibrations that jolted him out of his thoughts.
He knew they were silly, he shouldn’t be thinking about her past. Of course, she had one. It was stupid to expect he was the first man she cared about and wanted to make feel good. It didn’t matter, she was with him now and she so obviously wanted and liked him… Liked him.
That still wasn’t enough for Victor. He wanted to make this woman fall desperately in love with him, to the point where she would never think of leaving him, where she would want to fall asleep and wake up next to him every day, to the point where she would share everything with him and let him love her in his own stupid way. He knew he was stupid when it came to love, the closest he’d ever gotten to loving a woman was with Amelia and he went ahead and screwed that up as well, just like he will probably screw this up…

He only realized that he let his thoughts go too far when her mouth was gone and she saw her concerned gaze on him, her hands on his thighs:
“You’re hating this.” She murmured sadly and Victor’s mind scrambled for purchase as a million new thoughts flooded it all at once. How could he be hating it, it was the best blowjob that he… why were her eyes wet?!

Good going, Victor, you idiot.
He berated himself as he realized he let his toxic thoughts distract him so much he’s softened to a semi.
He wanted to crawl into some hole and die.

Nike ran her hands across her eyebrows in an attempt to hide her eyes as she sniffled quietly, getting out from under the desk and standing up, immediately tugging at the shirt to cover as much skin as possible.
Victor stopped time and as soon as she froze, he slammed the back of his head against the chair three times, the soft leather preventing him from feeling any pain as he struggled to come up with some excuse as to why he failed like this.
Who fucking softens while getting a blowjob from a beautiful woman they loved?!
An idiot like him, apparently.
Why did he have to think stupid thoughts like that, what did it fucking matter if she loved anyone else before?

What if she still loved that theater guy?

That’s what it was, he realized as his heart shriveled and thumped dully in his chest.
She did get upset earlier that day at what his friend said. Victor had half a mind to get him fired from the soap but the graph indicating a rise in ratings prevented him. That would be stupid, from a business perspective, not to mention it would be a real dick move. That guy was not to blame.

The only one to blame here was himself, he realized. He was the one who leaped at the chance to date Nike so soon after her breakup, like a desperate idiot. And then he went ahead and bought the stupid theater in an attempt to prevent the ex from getting a second chance…
What was wrong with him? It hit him all at once… he was acting exactly like what Nike hated… like she was a possession; like he could build walls around her to keep her.

He should call Goldman and have him sell the theater. He’d probably lose money but what did it matter?
Nike would probably leave him if she knew what he did. If she knew he was no better than her dumbass ex when it came to actually respecting her as a person who made her own decisions.

What would she say if she knew just how insecure Victor apparently was when it came to her?
She thought he was perfect, always confident, self-assured, always getting what he wanted…
But she was not a business deal, he couldn’t just make a strategy and an analysis and get her based on how smart he was.

He found himself at a crossroads of sorts. If he didn’t tell her the truth, he ran the risk of her not understanding what he felt for her, or worse yet, she might find out what he did anyway and naturally despise him for lying to her. Wasn’t he the one who demanded honesty from her?

But if he did tell her everything… she’d think he was some pathetic idiot who couldn’t deal with his own emotions like an adult… in other words, she’d see him for who he was.
She’d hate that. Who would want a 28-year-old who behaved like a 16-year-old?
Why would she want a madman who bought off things he saw as threats?
How could he even tell her he saw that messy jerk as a threat?

But he did. That messy jerk probably made her laugh more than he ever could. That messy jerk didn’t offend her by offering expensive gifts and making her feel like a sugar baby. That messy jerk probably knew her friends and her family and he probably fit in because he was friendly and cheerful and not an intimidating stick in the mud.
That messy jerk probably had way more in common with her, Victor didn’t understand her references nor did he listen to the same music or read the same books.
He didn’t care about The Dresden Files, he bought those books just so he would have something in common with her… was that pathetic?
The only thing he seemed to be able to do well was to have sex with her… that is until now… He couldn’t even look down at his crotch. He scoffed bitterly. “It never happened to me before,” Was the worst thing he could say, no matter how true it was.
Why couldn’t this have happened with any other woman, he wouldn’t have given two flying fucks.

He just answered his question. He didn’t care enough to worry with other women.
The irony didn’t miss him, he was so worried about screwing up that he was screwing up.
He still didn’t know what to tell her and even as he resumed time, he was unsure what would come out of his idiotic mouth.

Nike cleared her throat and Victor knew she was trying to sound cheerful:
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have distracted you from your report, it’s probably too important to just forget in a minute. I’ll leave you to it and maybe we can continue with the book later?”

Now, this was just humiliating. She was giving him an out, he could say his mind was on the report and she basically told him she wouldn’t hold it against him. She probably didn’t want him to feel bad. But she felt bad, she was blaming herself if the slight crack in her high-pitched voice was anything to go by.

She seemed to want to say something else, but when he didn’t reply, mind still swarming with thoughts, she fidgeted uncomfortably:
“Right. I’ll go change.”
He wanted to grab her wrist, to tell her to wait, to explain, to say something, ANYTHING, just to wipe that sad look from her face but, like a real idiot, he let that chance slip and the sound of the door closing behind her was like a slap across his face.

Chapter Text

Nike rushed to change, feeling like she might cry and hating herself for it.
She was an idiot! Who knows what Victor was thinking now, he probably hated that she was distracting him from his work. He probably only offered her to be with him while he worked to appease her. She felt like a child that was annoying but nobody wanted to say so. Did he feel like he was babysitting a brat? Yes, especially with how she was always joking, he probably regretted ever inviting her on a date, realizing what kind of a fucking child he got himself involved with.

And she went down on him all of a sudden like that and he probably thought she was some sort of a slut who always just did things like that and…
She smacked herself on the forehead angrily as she hastily put her clothes on, just wanting to run away. Could she say she got an urgent call? Luna would play along and invent a sudden emergency she would whine about over the phone in an Oscar-worthy performance and then she could go home to hide under a blanket and die.

No. That was immature and childish. She still wanted to do it.
She retrieved her phone, contemplating texting Luna with a request to bail her out but something stopped her.
If she did that, that would just solidify her as a brat. Even if Victor bought the bogus emergency story, which he wouldn’t because Victor was smart; she would know and she would feel even worse than now.

Why did it happen, anyway?! Nike tried to be at least a little reasonable about it. It could happen if the man was stressed or tired, both of which Victor probably was at all times if how much he always worked was any indication. Maybe last night caught up with him?

Or maybe she was just horrible at blowjobs. Oh, God, what if she was but nobody ever told her because they didn’t want to hurt her feelings?!
She shook her head vehemently as if she was trying to banish such thoughts.
Those were toxic thoughts and Nike had been working hard over the years to build her self-esteem up.

She used to be scrawny and weak, the smallest child in class, and her red hair, a snaggle tooth (thank heavens for braces!) and freckles that eventually faded considerably didn’t help; she basically carried a “bully me” target on her back.
It was her looks, the fact that she was a little Hermione-Granger-level teacher’s pet tryhard, and her utter incompetence when it came to sports that singled her out and elementary and middle school have been hell.
Meanwhile, her pretty sister never had to deal with any of that and Nike was jealous and then guilty for being jealous of her own sister.

For years after, she would obsessively check everything about her appearance whenever she would see a group of people that laughed as she passed by, thinking they were laughing at her.
Thankfully, after puberty, her looks got considerably better as she gained a few pounds, just enough so she didn’t look starved anymore and her body grew into her large head.
She also found some good friends who never made her feel bad about herself and she eventually told herself that children were children and that she was now safe, that she wasn’t the worst, that she could do things without people laughing at her and mocking her.

She was lucky enough to get several odd boosts of confidence over the years, such as when an old male classmate messaged her on Facebook to apologize for how he’d treated her, explaining he used to have a crush on her; or when she ran into the girl that used to bully her and she told her she always admired how clever and diligent she was.
Maybe those people were lying to clear their conscience but she wanted to believe them.

She worked hard to keep any toxic thoughts in check and it worked most of the time but now they came back full-force. What the hell could a man like Victor be seeing in her?
If he wanted beautiful, he could have an actress or a supermodel as easily as a flick of the wrist.
If he wanted fun, there were women both more fun and funnier than her.
If he wanted smart, there were women he would never feel the need to call an idiot.

Why did she like him? She sat on the edge of the bed as a shiver of realization washed over her.
Was she a masochist? Was she drawn to Victor because he bullied her?
No, no, she used to hate him while she worked for him… and he wasn’t bullying her anymore.
In fact, he was being very sweet to her… in his own way.
She realized she was half-expecting him to go back to being mean at any moment.

She sighed, throat tightening as the desire to cry came back.
Perhaps she should break things off before that happened. She overestimated herself, thinking she could do this. She should stay in her own lane.

Another toxic thought. She gripped at her pants in an attempt to calm down.
Nike knew she will never get anywhere in life if she constantly kept thinking she somehow didn’t deserve something. Why wouldn’t she get into a prestigious law school, why wouldn’t she have an amazing job, why wouldn’t she be able to date a perfect guy?
She took deep breaths, trying to calm down. It was just her overthinking, just her usual penchant for assuming the worst. That didn’t make it true and she should keep a cool head and maybe… maybe talk with Victor?
Even if he told her that, yes, she was annoying him or her head was horrible, so what?
It would be unreasonable to expect they would like EVERYTHING about each other and if she knew what bothered him, she would know not to do it.
Being told you were not doing something right didn’t mean you were horrible, she reminded herself.

Having given herself her usual silly pep-talk of “you’re perfect, you’re beautiful, you look like Linda Evangelista, you’re a model” that served more to lighten her mood than provide actual advice or wisdom, she felt better.

No crawling under a blanket and dying today! She went back to the living room and settled on the couch, deciding to check her social media while she waited for Victor to finish his work.

He emerged from the office sometime later and she looked up from her phone and gave him what she hoped was a genuine smile as he sat next to her, taking her legs in his lap.

“Are you hungry? You barely ate anything today.”
She shook her head, her smile broadening:
“I’m fine. Did you finish reading the report?”
“Yes.” He replied stiffly, massaging her feet absent-mindedly.

They sat there in silence for a while as she flipped the phone around in her hands, looking at his tight expression, his lips a thin line as he looked straight ahead at the window:

“I’m sorry.” He finally mumbled through gritted teeth, brows furrowing and Nike’s heart let out a loud thump:
“What for?” She asked quietly and Victor’s warm hands enveloped her feet gently.
“For… failing. It wasn’t your fault.”
“Oh.” She stammered: “It’s alright. Don’t worry about it!”
Victor still wouldn’t look at her as he kept squeezing words out like they were bringing him physical pain:

“What do you think this is?”
Nike leaned in slightly, not understanding his question:
“What do you mean by “this”?”

Victor shook his head, tensing up like she had slapped him:
“Forget it.”
He moved her legs aside and stood up:
“I’ll make coffee. Do you want some?”

She sat up, sliding her feet into her silly slippers by the couch:
“Victor.” She called after him but not even the warning in her voice could stop him as he strode over to the kitchen. Cussing mentally, she followed him:
“Victor! Don’t make me run after you.”
“I just went to make coffee.” He said flatly and Nike felt a pang of anger:
“No, you just deflected. And you’re the one who demanded I tell you everything.”

Victor sighed, pulling out the mugs from the cabinet:
“It was just a stupid question.”

Nike crossed her arms, imitating his deep voice:
“I don’t care if you think it’s stupid, I want to know everything.”
Before she even had a chance to mentally kick herself because that was such a second-grade dick move and she was just admonishing herself over being a brat, Victor turned his back to her, busying himself with the coffee machine:

“Fine. What do you think this is; this between us?”

Was he asking her what they were now? And there she was just this morning, thinking the same thing only to discover the same question was bothering him?
Or maybe he was asking because he wanted to make sure she wasn’t getting the wrong idea about them being serious…

“I…” She stopped herself, feeling like she was headed toward massive embarrassment if she had a different idea than him.
But, what idea did she even have? What did SHE want them to be?
She knew she didn’t want this to just be some casual sex arrangement, she never wanted that with guys. So, that left her with the idea of a relationship.
Half of her was telling her that was a terrible idea and she tried to reason with herself. Was it her toxic half, the half that thought Victor was too good for her?
The other half inexplicably wanted him.

It hit her all at once. She would miss Victor if this conversation turned out to be their breakup.
She liked him… no, she was already in love with him by now. He was so smart, so capable. He was incredibly handsome and he made her head spin, but above all that… she felt that he was much kinder and beautiful on the inside than he was letting on.
Of course, she could have been wrong about that but she thought there were several layers of him that she still hadn’t seen.
She started to see his perfection was more him being uptight and she wondered if she could sneak past that and discover a more relaxed and open side to Victor, maybe even a vulnerable side… she wanted to see it.

“Well, I…” She tried again, mouth dry:
“I like you.”

That doesn’t tell him much at all, Nike, try harder!

“I mean… I really like you and I want to get to know you better and…”
She stopped herself again, looking at his tense posture from behind, his hands stilling on the counter.
“Oh, to hell with it, feel free to laugh and call me an idiot after this. I’m in love with you.”

Her cheeks burned as she said it and squeezed her eyes shut as if expecting the ground to open up and swallow her. Time seemed to be dragging painfully slowly as Victor didn’t respond and she dared open her eyes, feeling like she might choke on the lump in her throat.
He pushed himself off of the counter, head low before he strode over to her at an abrupt pace that almost made her flinch:

“Why would I call you an idiot?”
She shivered under his intense gaze as he studied her face; his pupils blown and the violet in his eyes as vibrant as a gemstone:
“Do you feel like an idiot because of that?” A deep crease between his eyebrows and Nike nearly scowled at him, her tone defiant:
“No!” She was half-lying. She would only feel like an idiot if he didn’t reciprocate her feelings.
“But you think I would call you an idiot?”

A beat. His face was stiff but it was not due to annoyance, she recognized. For a second, he almost looked… anxious.

“I don’t know. Would you?”
“Of course not.” He gulped, hands tentatively reaching to cup her face, thumbs caressing her cheeks softly as if trying to steady her breath.
Nike was afraid to prompt him to say anything. After all, he could say something that would crush her. She wanted out of this conversation, she wished she could make him forget she said anything.

Victor’s hands dropped to her shoulders, sliding down them in a gentle caress before he removed them completely, brows still knit, corners of his mouth downturned like he bit on a lemon:

“We might have gone too fast.”
His voice was quiet, even lower than usual and Nike felt her gut wrenching. There it was, the breakup. “It’s not you, it’s me.” Or “I’m not ready for a relationship.” Or “We should take it slow, by the way, I will be incredibly busy from this point on so I won’t call or answer your calls.” Bullshit was incoming.

She gripped onto her anger so as not to delve into shame and start crying:
“Alright, give it to me straight. No excuses, please, don’t coddle me. I can take it.”

Her spiteful gaze met his own, his lips shifting to a scowl:
“What are you talking about?”
Deep down, she knew she was being stupid but there was no turning back now:
“I’m telling you to just honestly tell me you don’t want this. I’m not as stupid as you think.”

Victor pulled back, again looking like he was viciously slapped:
“Oh really?! You’re not? You think I will call you an idiot because of your feelings and I will run away? Is that who you think I am?”

His voice was vibrating with anger now, but that only spurred Nike’s own anger on:
“I don’t know, Victor! You were obviously not enjoying yourself earlier! I tell you how I feel and you tell me we’re going too fast! What am I to think?!” She rubbed her eyes in resignation:
“I mean, even if it’s just that I am horrible at… you know… I would appreciate it if you told me. It’s no big deal.”

“Horrible at…” Victor sounded shocked for a second, voice trailing off as if he was thinking aloud:
“What the…”

Nike kept rubbing at her eyes, feeling the relief of her cold knuckles pressing into her skin:
“Well, if I were any good, you wouldn’t have… oh God, this is embarrassing, why am I even talking about this…”
“Oh, it’s embarrassing for YOU? You want to know why it happened?! I’m an idiot, that’s why!”

Silence, nearly deafening, as the only sound in the room was the coffee machine and Nike slowly removed her hands from her face, eyes looking at Victor’s profile, his cheeks pink, fists clenched against his sides and just as she opened her mouth to ask him to continue, he murmured:

“I’m sure you wouldn’t believe me, but I was enjoying it. A lot.”

She blinked. Now she was even more confused:
“I was enjoying it,” he repeated deliberately, his voice stern “until I thought how I don’t know why you were doing it… so well.”
“So well?!”
“Well, amazing, passionate, call it what you will.”

It was her turn to feel like she was slapped out of one daze into another:
“Why I was doing it so well? Are you asking me…” Her teeth clenched at the disgusting thing she was about to say: “Are you asking me where I learned to do it?”

“I think it’s pretty obvious where you learned to do it.” He replied bitterly and Nike decided she’s had enough.

“Give me a minute to pick up my stuff.” Her voice trembled as she tried to almost run for the bedroom but Victor grabbed her wrist:
“What do you think you’re doing?”
“I’m not going to stand here and have you basically call me a slut. Let go of me.”
“Have I said that?!” His grip tightened and Nike tried to yank her arm out:
“Let go of me, Victor!”
“I’m not letting you go until we get one thing straight.” His voice was almost threatening now:
“Never in my life have I shamed anyone in regards to sex and I’m not about to start now. Do you understand me?”
“You JUST said…”
“I just WANTED to say; before you interrupted me and jumped to a conclusion that I am some sort of a caveman; that I got distracted by wondering how you really feel. About me.”

He squeezed the last two words out painfully as he let go of her wrist and Nike slowly turned around to face him:
“That still sounds like you think…”
“You don’t know what I think.”
“And whose fault is that?”

Victor blinked before taking a deep breath:
“I’m in love with you too. Idiot. I have been for a fucking year.”

His voice was still spiteful but there was a slight tremble to it and Nike lost her ability to speak, mouth opening and closing dumbly:

“You called me an idiot after all.” Was all she managed and Victor groaned:
“Not for your feelings. For not noticing mine. I thought I was obvious.”
Was he? Driving her almost to insanity as a boss? But insisting on spoiling her as a boyfriend?

When she didn’t respond, Victor continued, sounding almost ashamed:
“I said we were going too fast because of your recent breakup. I should have given you more time.”

“You think I still love my ex?”

Victor ran his fingers through his hair, almost pulling at the strands:
“It crossed my mind. So that’s why it happened. There. Now you know.”

Nike was beyond baffled. Victor… the perfect Victor, was THIS worried he was just a rebound? She should have known, they already touched upon that in a previous conversation, but she stupidly thought he was only worried because he didn’t want to be made a fool; not because he was actually in love with her. Should she be angry or happy or glad or…

She only realized she was hugging him when he looked at her, baffled, his cheeks still pink.
“You should have told me all that earlier.” She almost whispered, more gently than she thought she would and Victor’s arms slowly wrapped around her:
“I should have.” He conceded and Nike pulled him even closer:
“Victor… I would never date anyone if I was in love with someone else. That’s just wrong. Why do you think I would do that?”
“I told you I am an idiot.”
“Well, today you’re acting like one. You’re pretty much all I think about on a daily basis. Don’t you see you make me all weird and flustered and stupid? Why were you even doubting you would?”

His heart was beating fast as his own embrace tightened:
“I don’t know.”
“We need to talk about stuff. I’m not all that confident and you’re difficult to read.”

Victor sighed deeply:
“I thought I showed you that you have every reason to be confident.”
“Well, it’s easier said than done. I’m trying.” She chuckled in self-deprecation and Victor kissed the top of her head in a silent apology, leaning his cheek on it:
“Try harder. And I will try to help you more.”

She nuzzled into him, smiling:
“Can you try to tell me how you feel about me without shouting and name-calling? I will even start. I’m in love with you, you giant softie.”

Victor scoffed, kissing her forehead as she looked up at him. His eyes were warm, warmer than she had ever seen them before:
“I’m in love with you, too. Munchkin.”

“If I tell you something, will you promise not to flip out?”

Greg started after taking a big sip of beer that afternoon. He stopped by at David’s place after contemplating whether he should tell him the truth or not hurt his feelings.

“Tell me what?” David’s eyes narrowed over his own can. Greg leaned in:
“Promise me.”
“I can’t promise you if I don’t know what it is.”

Greg squeezed the can slightly, sighing:
“I saw Nike this morning at a mall.”
David’s brow arched in interest before Greg recognized the realization that washed over his face:

David nodded, uncrossing his legs as he gulped down the remainder of his beer:
“I see. So, lovebirds were taking a walk.”
He muttered sarcastically and Greg felt bad:
“Well, to be honest, they didn’t look like…”
“Yeah, I don’t care what they looked like, who walks around a mall with someone on a Saturday morning?”
Greg thought the same thing and he was aware his friend also came to the conclusion that they probably spent the night together.

“Well, maybe I shouldn’t have done this but I told her how I was wrong telling you there’s no way she would… you know, be with him.”

David let out a mirthless laugh:
“Let’s hope that doesn’t get you fired from your soap if he hears about that.”
Greg’s brows furrowed:
“He’d be an idiot to do that. I’m the only reason that show’s afloat.”
“So, what did she say to that?”

Greg stopped, twirling the beer can nervously and David lit a cigarette:
“You can tell me, Greg, I can take it.”
“Well, she told me it’s none of my business.”
He decided not to give him the angry message she had for David himself.

“I see.” David blew a puff of smoke loudly.
“Well, you know, now I don’t feel so bad about what is going to happen next week. There’s some of HIS business she should be aware of.”

Greg frowned as David told him about the magazine ploy he made with Stephanie:
“I don’t know about that, Dave.”
“What is there to not know about? It’s only fair that she knows her darling new boyfriend thinks of everybody as assets to be bought.”
“But what if she does know?”

David stopped for a moment. He didn’t think about that but now that Greg mentioned it, he was further reassured she didn’t. Nike HE knew would go apeshit at something like that.
But then again, Nike he knew wouldn’t be dating an asshole like Victor in the first place.

“If she does, fine. Now everybody else will, too. Imagine the headline: insecure CEO cracking whips because of girlfriend!”

Greg shook his head slowly:
“Look, I see the appeal. I’m just saying that if you do that, and if she finds out it was you… do you really think she’ll forgive you that?”
“Do I think she’ll forgive me not letting someone walk over me? Not letting someone lie to her?”

Greg clenched his teeth, raising his hands defensively:
“Look, man, don’t sock me in the jaw for what I’m about to tell you, but it IS possible that all she would see is you spreading rumors about the guy she’s dating. He’s rich, after all, he can hire people to deny everything and push it under a rug no problem.”
“We’ll see about that.” Countered David begrudgingly:
“You know what? If she’s that much of an idiot to believe him over me… then I’ll be happy to see it come back to bite her in the ass.”

Greg shook his head sadly. This was not the friend he knew and loved. David was not this angry, this spiteful… this hateful.
Greg tried to cut him some slack, imagining how stupid with various emotions he would be if he broke up with a woman he loved. He would be upset, sad, even angry, too.
But… if he loved that woman, then… he would want to see her happy.
It sucked major balls to think she’d be happy with someone who is not him but… he would still let her go and just turn his back on it and get over it as best he could.

There was the entire theater thing, though. It was tricky. On the one hand, David was right to be angry about someone buying his place of employment because of some personal matter. But on the other hand… the way he was planning to go about it could only end in chaos.

“Dave… are you sure you don’t want to talk to her directly? I mean, doing things like that through the press will just make everyone stressed and kinda crazy, you know? Maybe tell her in person!”
“And spare the asshole from public embarrassment?”
“Is he really what’s important here? You love Nike, you want Nike back, don’t you? If you can do something to increase your chances of that happening, even if it means going easy on him, isn’t that what you want?”

David thought about it as he went to grab two new cans of beer from the fridge. When he finally replied, his voice was quiet and sad:
“I think that ship has sailed.”
“Don’t say that, you…”
“Don’t coddle me, Greg. She’s taking walks and shopping with the guy on a Saturday morning! You know when we used to do that? We used to do it after a fun Friday night when neither of us would feel like cooking! We’d go to a fucking mall, eat some McDonalds or KFC or whatever and buy stupid stuff; like this very fucking ashtray or that set of salt and pepper shakers in the kitchen or a book or whatever. So, she’s doing that kind of stuff with him now.”

His voice fell to almost a whisper:
“She doesn’t want me anymore.”

Chapter Text

Victor scooped Nike up and she wrapped her arms and legs tightly around him as they kissed until they were both panting for air and even then, they kept exchanging tiny pecks all over each other’s faces, smiling and nuzzling into touches like two cats.
She felt her heart swell in her chest at his relaxed expression when she kissed his eyelids, the way he just closed his eyes and surrendered, corners of his mouth twitching up joyfully.

“Am I heavy?”
She finally murmured when she thought it had been some time since he’s picked her up.
“Don’t be ridiculous, I could hold you like this for hours.”
“Oh yeah, I forgot you were Superman.”
Victor scoffed, laying a peck on her nose:
“You’re NOT getting me in costume.”
“Damn, there go my hopes and dreams.”

They chuckled and Victor nuzzled her neck:
“Besides, you did mention you want me to fuck you like this.”
She giggled, half tickled by his nose and half-flustered:
“Can that wait until after lunch?”
“So, now you ARE hungry?”

He let her down gently:
“What do you want to eat?”
“We can make pasta together?”

Coffee forgotten, Victor agreed to let her help him with lunch and Nike soon realized this will probably be the slowest made pasta in the world when neither of them seemed to be able to get their hands off of each other and he pinned her against the counter:
“You know, I still owe you a punishment for smacking me this morning. And for making those horrible puns afterward.”

She felt his crotch against her ass as he made her bend over the marble countertop:
“You really hate my puns that much?”
“I don’t. That doesn’t mean they’re not horrible.”
He unbuttoned her jeans deftly, sliding them down her legs and Nike thought how, had somebody asked her whether Victor would get sexual in the kitchen some months back, she’d have replied with a resounding no, the man’s generally uptight attitude making her think he’d frown disapprovingly and say how that was unsanitary.
But here he was, pushing bowls and jars away and just going for it. She didn’t hate it. She actually enjoyed discovering surprising things about him.

“Spread your legs.” He commanded and Nike kicked off the jeans from around her ankles before she did as he asked. His large hands ran across her buttocks, kneading just hard enough to make her pulse quicken as he spread them ever so slightly over her panties:
“Have I ever told you that you have a great ass?”
He murmured and she felt her cheeks heat up, biting her lip. Will she ever stop blushing at his words?
“Such an oversight on my part. Especially when you wear those tight skirts of yours.”

Over the year of her having the fancy office job, she bought several business suits and although some of them were pantsuits, many had knee-length pencil skirts. She blushed harder knowing he’d been checking out her ass when she wore them; wondering again how she never even got an inkling, let alone noticed. Was she that blind or was Victor just that good at being inconspicuous?

“I never noticed you looking at my ass.”
“I never wanted you to notice. But now I can do much more than just look.”

He hooked his fingers under the hem of her panties, pulling them down slowly until they were halfway down her thighs, kept there by her spread legs, and his hands ran over the bare skin of her behind, fingers hooking around her hips as he pulled her closer, making her arch her back further, now entirely on display for him and Nike bit her lip, gripping the marble in front of her, feeling its coolness even through her shirt.

“Relax.” Victor chuckled, still caressing her skin gently as if rubbing warmth around:
“I am going to give you ten for now and I am not going to hit hard. Just to remind you, you can say “pudding” if you really hate it. Understood?”
“Yes, Sir.” She couldn’t help but smile. His fingertips roamed across her skin and that felt soothing and tantalizing at the same time as she anticipated the strike. He kept her waiting, mapping out her curves slowly, fingers inching closer to her core along her inner thighs, causing her to stand on the balls of her feet as if to coax him when he finally swatted her behind. It was more surprising than painful even though a tinge of warmth spread across her skin and she gasped:

“Stand still.” He warned, hand sliding across the warm skin before he swatted her again, slightly stronger this time and she bit her lip. That felt… nice.
The smack echoed through the kitchen, the pain just strong enough to leave her wanting more, warmth and a slight tingle left in the wake of his hand making her wet.
He repeated it on the other side and her spine arched further subconsciously as her hold on the counter tightened and she heard the low rumble of his chuckle:

“Someone’s enjoying this.”
His fingers ran up her slit and she shuddered at how slick she was already:
“Maybe next time I’ll have you over my knees.”

She imagined that; Victor sitting on the bed with her over his legs, spanking and fingering her and she just nodded with a small mew, arching into his fingers, right there at her entrance only to feel another swat on her ass, sharper this time:
“I told you to stand still.”
His fingers withdrew as he kneaded her ass possessively:
“I know you’re eager for me to fuck you, but you will have to wait. Don’t disobey me again. Understood?”

Her cheeks heated up even as something stirred in her gut and she just nodded, nearly whimpering a breathy “yes, Sir” that seemed to suit Victor just fine as he delivered another swat:
“How many was that?” He asked her and Nike recognized the challenge in his tone. He knew. He wanted to see if she did. He never told her to keep count!
She tried to remember, was it 5 or 6?
“I asked you a question.” He murmured threateningly and she shivered:
“Lucky guess.” His tone was dark: “Something distracting you?”
“No, Sir.”
“Good. Let’s keep it that way. Focus on me.”

Something pulled at her chest and it wasn’t pure excitement. In light of what happened earlier in the office, she recognized this was most likely him warning both of them. An idea sprang into her mind and even as it made her entire face burn, she decided to test it:

“I’m always thinking of you, Victor.”
Victor stilled for a moment before he clicked his tongue:
“Trying to make me go easier on you?”
“No. I just wanted you to know that.” She grinned now, the tone of his voice confirming her suspicions. It was still slightly doubtful as if he didn’t quite believe there wasn’t anybody else on her mind.

Victor didn’t reply, but his hand ran up and down her spine gently, right before he delivered another smack and she hissed “six” to let him know he had her attention. She wished to see his face.
“Good girl.” He whispered, smacking at the spot where her ass met her thigh and it stung a little sharper even though the force hadn’t changed.
She loved that. His fingers teased at her slit again as his other hand smacked the other side:
“Seven.” She counted and the tips of his fingers prodded slightly, demanding all of her self-control not to arch into the touch. His slight hum of approval caused her clit to throb as he smacked one more time.

Her mind was soaring and it barely registered that the feeling of embarrassment had subsided slightly. The warmth in her cheeks got replaced with a different kind of warmth, heart swelling like it might flutter out of her chest. She smiled to herself, her ass tingling, pussy wet and on display and none of it bothered her even if she’d be almost scandalized to think of something like these just days ago, with Victor no less.
But it WAS Victor and she didn’t want it to be anyone else.
“Nine.” She counted another swat, her eyes closed as the desire to kiss him overpowered her desire to have him inside of her. She should tell him she wanted him more often. Nike wasn’t quite sure what exactly brought that on, other than that he seemed like he needed to hear it.

Her mind wandered to when he mentioned he was adopted. Was he loved by his family? Probably. But were they showing it? If she had to guess, she’d say no and it made her heart drop. Other than physically, Victor didn’t seem great at expressing affection. Physically, he was a cuddler. She remembered her initial surprise when he never seemed to mind her touch. No matter where and how she touched him, his body welcomed it and he often sought physical contact himself.

It saddened her to think whether he was cuddled enough or at all even by his ex-girlfriends. It wasn’t jealousy… she was sad for him if he wasn’t.

Victor rubbed at her warm skin soothingly, leaning over her on the counter and kissing the back of her head, nuzzling her hair:
“Good girl.” He whispered and Nike’s hand slid down the counter, her fingers wiggling and Victor took the hint, entwining his fingers with hers, remaining snuggled against her, his hardness against her ass.

“I meant it, Victor.”
“When I said I’m always thinking of you.”

Victor remained silent for a while before he finally murmured, voice soft:
“Good. That’s how it should be.”
Nike grinned even though he couldn’t see her as he kissed the back of her head again:
“And me too.”

He helped her up, turning her around to face him, fingers stroking her cheeks, his pupils blown, eyes violet and hot:
“I want you to finish what you started in my office.”
She grinned, nuzzling his hand:
“Yes, Sir.”
“And remember, I’m not pulling out.”

Nike finally kicked her panties off completely and got down on her knees, Victor’s gaze following her hungrily:
“You say that like it’s a threat.” She teased and Victor tucked a strand of hair behind her ear as she stroked him over his pants.
Victor just smirked, fingers stroking her hair softly as she unbuckled his belt.
She took her time undressing him, hands languidly exploring and she was aware his eyes were trained on her the entire time, fingers tapping on the underside of her chin as she kissed him over his underwear:
“Look at me.”

Nike has always enjoyed blowjobs. She tended to only have sex with people she cared about so she always viewed blowjobs as another way to express her affection. There was something about witnessing the other person’s pleasure that made her giddy and incredibly wet. She didn’t always maintain eye contact (sometimes, the position wouldn’t allow it) but when she did, it was always very intimate and it excited her on a whole other level. And she loved Victor’s eyes. She wanted to see the minute changes of his facial expressions as she discovered what kind of stimuli he enjoyed. That was another fun thing about blowjobs, you can only be technically good at them, but every time you found a new partner, you’d have to relearn most of it like it was your first time.

He caressed her face, keeping eye contact and she knew her cheeks were still pink, his gaze was so intense that she just couldn’t help it, but she didn’t feel as nervous as the previous night and was happy about it.
Her fingers mapped him out through the fabric, sliding up to hook under the hem and pull his boxers down and there was a slight tension to Victor’s shoulders as his hardness was released and she readjusted her kneel:
“Do you want a cushion?”
She looked at him blankly for a moment and he chuckled:
“To kneel on.”
She just shook her head, smiling at him being considerate (was this the same man who once told her “I don’t care that it’s midnight, you misplaced my file!” over the phone?), fingertips sliding up his length, followed by her lips grazing. He blinked slowly, almost reluctantly.

Her lips slid down and she ran her tongue along the space between his balls and his fingers in her hair twitched slightly. So, that was either good or tickling. She did it again, unable to really see his face that way but enjoying the small intake of breath she heard. She let her tongue explore before softly taking his testicle in her mouth, earning another soft gasp she had to strain her ears to hear. She smiled, wishing to make him louder.
Fingers wrapping around his shaft, she started stroking him slowly and his fingers slid across her nape, almost massaging as he took in all the patient exploration she set out on, his breathing deep.
She could feel his precum on her fingers as he throbbed in her hand and decided it was time to move on. Setting into a taller kneel, her tongue ran from base to tip and Victor’s chest visibly heaved as she looked up at him again. His eyes were darker and there was a tight expression on his face, lips slightly parted as he stared at her hungrily, gaze flitting between her mouth and her eyes.
She swirled her tongue around his tip slowly, noting what caused a reaction and his entire body stiffened when her tongue grazed the V shape on the underside.

So, she did it again and this time, he gasped audibly:
“Tease.” He murmured, eyes narrowing and she figured he was plotting revenge. She just grinned and ran her tongue flat against his tip, his cock throbbing in her hand.
He clenched his teeth as she ran it along his slit and slid it down to tease between head and shaft.

“You’re so quiet.” She said between licks and Victor’s grip in her hair tightened:
“You can try to make me louder. Or do you want me to talk?”

Her cheeks heated up again as she smiled and gestured “a little” with her free hand, and he chuckled right before she took his tip in her mouth, lips tightening over the edge of it and his chuckle turned into a breathy grunt that made her clit throb.
“Hands off.” He commanded, gaze turning mean and she felt tingly all over.
“Keep them behind your back.” She complied, crossing her wrists behind her back, an idea of him binding them there like that briefly in her mind.
“Now… get it nice and wet.”
His voice was velvety and so deep she shuddered.
Letting her saliva drip on him, she spread it around his tip, his eyes still locked on her as he cradled the back of her head with one hand, fingertips of the other stroking her cheek:
He was getting slippery under her lips and she enjoyed it, adding more saliva until she could see the corners of his eyes crinkling in approval:
“Good girl. You love this, don’t you?”
She nodded sheepishly, taking him in her mouth, head bobbing up and down slowly, his eyes almost the color of the night as that deep voice caressed her from the inside:
“Sucking my cock in the middle of the day like that…” He mused teasingly and she felt her pussy gush as she took him in deeper, his fingers sliding along her neck:
“And I have you trapped here.” He knocked against the counter with the knuckles of his hand on her head to emphasize his point and it made her all the more excited. She hadn’t thought of that but now she found it sexy.

Her lips slid down his length, tongue pressed against the underside of him and he let out a soft groan as she hollowed her cheeks a little.
“That’s good. Can you take it deeper?” He challenged and she hummed around him, lips slowly sliding down, testing her gag reflex. She never really managed to overcome it and going this slowly, she got a little over halfway down his shaft before her throat tightened in warning. He felt it, hand on her head holding her in place, her mouth taut around his girth as he chuckled darkly:
“Is that it?”
He let her pull back and she gasped for air, a drip of saliva already sliding down her bottom lip and onto her chin:
“Not good enough?” She retorted, partially amused but mostly turned on. He brought her back onto his cock, guiding her slowly along, deep breaths punctuating her movement:
“I want to eventually feel my balls against your chin.”
She whimpered involuntarily, eliciting another dark chuckle from him:
“Does that sound good?”
It did. Very naughty, but very good. She nodded and his hand on her head tightened:
“Then you have to practice a lot. Go as far as you can now.”

His hand didn’t push down, just held her as she managed to get slightly further this time before pulling back and coughing a little, her eyes watering and pussy gushing. Victor’s chuckle was downright evil:
“I love that.”
“Watching me choke?” She managed to laugh shakily before he brought her back onto him, thrusting slowly this time:
“Watching you being a good girl and trying to take my cock so deep in your mouth.”
She reveled in the praise even as it made her ears hot as he established a slow rhythm, making sure not to make her gag and she once again felt endeared with him.
His hand held her firmly, controlling her on his length and he grunted quietly as he felt her tongue against him. He increased the pace slightly and she was half-aware of his hand knocking against the counter periodically, shielding her head through the sloppy sounds of how wet his cock was in her mouth. She closed her eyes, wishing he’d throw her on the counter and fuck her hard.
“Look at me.” He nearly growled: “I want you to look me in the eyes while I fuck your mouth.”

She whimpered again, realizing her inner thighs were wet as she locked eyes with his own now dark and wild ones. He grunted, exhaling through his mouth as his hand on her cheek went to brace against the counter, his chest heaving as she felt him tighten in her mouth, her tongue brushing against him with every thrust.
She truly was trapped now, his other hand the only thing keeping her from banging her head against the counter and she loved it. She gripped at her wrists behind her back as she felt his release approaching, curious about his taste. The hold of his fingers on her head tightened as he held her mouth nearly halfway down his cock, groaning her name as he started releasing, coating her tongue with warmth. She felt it course through his length, spurt after spurt as she tightened her cheeks swallowing, looking up at him, a wild, almost disbelieving expression on his face, a few quiet growls escaping him.
She liked his taste. Just slightly salty but otherwise neutral and she suppressed her grin at thinking how she wouldn’t mind tasting him again. And again.

His chest still heaving, he released her head, both his hands coming to cup and caress her face as she gave him a few additional licks as if to pick up any stray drops, until he shuddered in post-orgasmic sensitivity and she finally released him when he made no move to pull back even then, her lips curving into a smile as she wiped her chin sheepishly.

Victor helped her up, his breathing still uneven as he brought her in for a kiss, entwining fingers in her hair as his other hand gripped her ass, his tongue dominating her mouth and she was glad for the tight hold on her behind, feeling her knees might give out.
When he finally let both of them breathe, she tried to pull him closer, her arms around his waist. She hoped he won’t make her beg to be fucked, although half of her mind was already preparing for it.

He leaned his forehead against hers, chuckling in that evil way she grew to love and hate at the same time:
“Get dressed.”
Her face must have turned extremely dumb because he snorted in amusement:
“We have lunch to make.”
“But what?”

She swallowed hard, blinking fast a few times. She couldn’t just tell him she wanted him to take care of her!
“Something you want to say?” He prodded evilly and she squeezed her eyes shut in embarrassment:
“I want you.”
“I know.” His fingers ran along her folds to emphasize his point:
“Dripping wet. But that’s your punishment. Next time you want to get clever with me, remember that.”

She half-whined and half-chuckled:
He smacked her ass one more time, smirking:
“You’ll learn to enjoy it. I’ll show you later if you behave.”

He pulled away and picked her panties up, handing them to her before he pulled his clothes back up:
“And don’t pout.”
“You’re not even looking at me!”
“I don’t need to. You’re pouting. It won’t work. You’re not getting fucked just yet.”

She contemplated testing him but something stopped her. Teasing Victor was fun but when it came to this… she realized she didn’t want to disobey him. She would have to think about why that was some other time. So, she just took the panties and put them on, shaking her head at how she got played.
Besides, there was something oddly interesting about trying not to think about having him inside of her and squirming during lunch.
Victor seemed amused by it, having the expression of a cat who ate the canary as he asked her loaded questions like “Creamy enough?” about the pasta sauce or “Not too dry?” about the pasta itself.
She gritted her teeth, recognizing he was trying to coax her into getting smart with him again and she didn’t want to think what he’d do if she did.
So, she just crossed her legs and pretended not to notice his questions were not so innocent.

Stephanie was pacing through her apartment, her face in a disgusted scowl as she gripped her phone. One of her friends just called her, saying she saw Victor at the mall, holding hands with some small redhead.

Holding hands! Victor?! He never held her hand!

Stephanie had always been the most popular girl everywhere. Her parents were well-off, her mother a former pageant queen turned interior decorator and her father a surgeon.
She inherited her mother’s beauty and her father’s assertiveness, making all the other kids blindly follow her all her childhood. She always had the best toys, the most fun birthday parties, the prettiest clothes, and later, when she grew up, the most handsome boyfriends in school.
Even her grades were good, but that was mostly because she would always charm some geek to do her homework or tutor her.

She got her first modeling job when she was 13, it was for a sportswear company, advertising sneakers and gym bags. After that, she did more ads and soon started walking the runway. She walked for Diane Von Furstenberg at 17, for crying out loud!

Yet, the booming recognition and her name becoming a household one only knocked on her door when she was first seen with Victor. It had much to do with the fact that the CEO was not someone known for his relationships, so the press immediately jumped to the conclusion that their relationship must be serious, even going so far as to suggest they must’ve kept it secret for a while.
She felt no shame over leaking their location to the magazines herself. Anyone in her position would be a fool not to do so; dating him was like a gateway to success.
Victor’s reputation was impeccable, no scandals, no dark past; he was obscenely successful and very handsome, she really couldn’t have chosen a better stepping stone.

So, why did it bother her that he didn’t seem to feel anything for her?
They didn’t have much to talk about, she didn’t care about business and he didn’t care about fashion.
He was a very cold person and Stephanie was bothered that she never saw the infatuation in his eyes as she would always see from every guy she allowed to come close enough.
No guy ever looked at her with that sort of a neutral expression.
Even when he would pick her up for a date and tell her she looked good, he did it so… indifferently.
She wanted to see his pupils dilate, his Adam’s apple bob, hear his voice go lower…

And now he was dating some tiny rodent of a girl! And those rumors in the press, spitting directly in her face, that he had liked her even as he dated Stephanie!

She hated those articles, still remembering how some knucklehead of a journalist churned out a story of how a “gorgeous redhead” turned the CEO’s head away from his model girlfriend. They even forgot to write “supermodel” like they always did in the previous articles that concerned her.
She stared at the photo they managed to snap of Nike at the time.
She was most certainly NOT gorgeous!
Cute, yes, Stephanie was not denying that. Nike was not an ugly girl. But there was no chance in hell she was comparable to her in any way, shape or form.
She was short and even though nobody could exactly call her fat… she wouldn’t be able to fit in any dress Stephanie wore on the runway.
She had freckles and the type of face Stephanie liked to call “mousey”, round eyes, small nose, pointy chin, that sort of thing.
If it weren’t for the, admittedly pretty, color of her hair, she would be entirely unremarkable.

Yet, Victor obviously liked her enough for rumors to spit in Stephanie’s face and enough to hold hands with her in public. The word “downgrade” came to mind.
Even if Victor was not as stubborn as he was, Stephanie didn’t want to try and make him give her up. That would be no fun. However, if she could be coaxed into leaving him… now, that would be something for the front page: Big Catch CEO Dumped By Regular Girl.
She giggled to herself. What would the magazines imply? Why would someone like Victor get dumped? A sick fetish? A small dick? Shitty personality?

It was not difficult to get Nike’s number. So, before the new issue of Fame came out, why not give her yet another reason to be angry with Victor?

Chapter Text

Victor acted as if nothing happened for the rest of the day like he didn’t just leave Nike turned on after that blowjob. She observed him, trying to guess what he was thinking but she hardly had any luck, with his face that gave practically nothing away.
They finished their lunch and snuggled up to watch a movie, Victor remarking how she complained she had no time for books and movies while she worked at LFG.
He passed her the remote and let her pick anything she wanted from the long list in the streaming service menu.

He dozed off even before Brad Pitt mutilated Edward Norton’s hand and Nike found herself looking at him instead of at the movie.
She’d never seen Victor asleep before. His long lashes cast a shadow over his face, the pale afternoon sun giving him an almost angelic vibe as his features relaxed into a tiny, content smile. His head slowly dropped to her shoulder, arms reaching for her in his sleep and her heart swelled. She thought she had never seen anything so adorable.

Edward Norton wailed and knocked the dishes off the table in an attempt to flee. Victor stirred, brows furrowing in his sleep as he pulled Nike closer as if to comfort or protect her.
She still didn’t look at the screen, lowering the volume blindly. It was one of her favorite scenes in any movie.

Only after you’ve lost everything are you free to do anything.

It was one of those “interpret it as you wish and keep it within you, consciously forgotten but potent” movie quotes. Fight Club was littered with those, to the point of being pretentious. She still loved the movie. It wasn’t a good pick if one wanted to be romantic, not by a long shot; and Victor certainly didn’t appreciate it, if him dozing off this fast was any indication.
She’ll let him pick the movie next time.

His face relaxed after the noise subsided but he didn’t wake up, his embrace tight as he nuzzled into her and Nike thought how she wouldn’t mind spending every day like this. Being embraced and snuggled and even just sitting in silence with Victor. The more she got to know him, the less awkward the silence between them was. His scent became more comforting and she felt warm around him. Not just physically warm, but warm on the inside, the reasons why not always clear but she was enjoying it.

If she was asked to describe the kind of person she’d like to date at any time in the past, her descriptions would fit David or some other ex. Cheerful. Funny. Silly. Relaxed. Playful. Geeky.
Yet, she never felt quite like this with any of those guys.
On paper, Victor’s character wouldn’t mesh well with hers. But it just felt nice. Even if she was embarrassed or didn’t know what to say, there was a good sort of feeling lingering in her mind, like everything would be alright given some more time. They weren’t the most logical or the easiest fit, but they felt like a good fit.

The movie ended and Victor was still asleep, Nike softly kissing his cheek:
“Victor. Wake up.” She whispered and Victor groaned quietly, opening his eyes:
“Is the movie over?”
“Yeah, you fell asleep an hour ago.”
“I figured out the ending anyway.”
“Did you now?” Nike’s brow shot up suspiciously.

Victor arched his back and stretched with a crack, followed by a pleased groan:
“He literally tells you two sentences in.”
Nike smirked:
“Yeah, I suppose he does.” Victor was too smart. She didn’t realize what that sentence meant when she first watched it.


He finally seemed to acknowledge he had some unfinished business much later, in the bedroom, his eyes turning a shade darker as he loomed over her:
“Now, I want you to get naked.”

She grinned, wanting to embrace him but Victor grabbed her by the wrists, face strict:

He pulled back and entered the closet without another word as she started peeling her pajamas off. Her hair was still damp from the shower and she hesitated a moment once she removed all her clothes, before she finally got under the covers.

Victor reemerged from the closet, having removed his own T-shirt along the way, a long black strip of fabric over his shoulders.
He walked to the bed and threw the covers off of Nike, tossing them to the side:
“I didn’t ask you to get naked so you would hide.”

He climbed on the bed, pulling the strip of silk off his skin in an elegant motion, noticing the way her eyes widened at the gesture:
“I’m not going to tie you up just yet, but I want to see if you get less embarrassed when you can’t see me.”
A blindfold? That sounded interesting. She lifted her head to allow him to secure the fabric and Victor tied the blindfold with deft fingers she somehow expected of him.
She felt her curiosity peaking as soon as she couldn’t see anymore. She strained her ears and tried to gauge Victor’s movements by the way the mattress shifted. His scent seemed stronger and she shuddered as the ghost of his fingertips ran down her body, from throat to navel.

He caressed her languidly, fingers roaming from her hipbones, up her stomach, teasing around her nipples then up to her collarbones only to run back down and she closed her eyes behind the blindfold, letting out a pleased breath as the tender touch now ran along her hips and down her thighs, Victor’s warmth inching closer as his lips joined in, grazing down her throat and to her collarbones.

He took his time, tongue running along her skin, its warmth leaving a trace of coolness as the air hit the wet trail, lips tender, intermittent soft nips causing her to gasp, earlier desire coming back full-force, her nipples hardening before he even touched them and she could feel his smirk against her skin as he left a mark on her hip. Her hand went for his hair but he grabbed her wrist:
“Hands on the bed for now. Spread your legs.”

She did as he asked and his teeth grazed a teasing path down her inner thigh, along the knee, down her shin, all the way to her foot, his hand lifting it off the bed as his mouth teased at it, Nike twitching when he would nip and relaxing at kisses. He placed her sole against his shoulder, hand running along her calves:
“I like how you look with your leg up like this. Gives me a good view. I might tie your legs like that one day. How does that sound?”
Nike’s cheeks turned a shade brighter even as she nodded:
“Not bad.”
Victor hummed, his other hand gently nudging her free leg away wider:
“I want you to touch yourself now.”

Her breath caught, brows arching above the fabric. He wanted to watch her masturbate?
She was suddenly thankful for the blindfold, realizing she could never do it if he asked her to look him in the eyes.
Her right hand slid down her stomach slowly, reaching the apex of her thighs, fingers splaying across her pussy, running up and down gently, middle finger right on her slit, circling around her clit on its way up before escaping back down to tease at her entrance.

She was aware of Victor’s gaze but not being able to see it made it easier to focus on the way her hand felt playing with her wet pussy.
She bit her lip, fingers dancing and teasing as his hand wrapped around her ankle, enveloping it entirely as he brought her leg higher up, letting it rest on his shoulder now, exposing her further to his gaze.
Her other senses more sensitive now, she could hear his deep breaths as he silently watched, still caressing her leg.
Her middle finger slid inside gently, the wetness welcoming as her left hand found her breast, fondling, kneading, fingertips teasing her nipple before she pinched just hard enough for her clit to throb, wishing for a second there to see the expression on Victor’s face.

She pumped the finger in and out slowly, palm grazing across the clit, the sound of her arousal already audible in the quiet room and Victor ran his nails across her shin:
“This wet already…” He chuckled softly, voice husky. He liked it:
“Add another finger.”
She obeyed; and, with a pinch and a slight pull at her nipple, slid another finger inside, back arching slightly, foot trying to slide down to find better leverage against Victor’s shoulder, but he held her ankle:
“Don’t get overzealous. I never said you could come.”

Nike whimpered quietly. He was still teasing her? What if he just makes her do this for a while, leave her hanging again and fuck her mouth or something? She normally wouldn’t mind having him in her mouth but she wanted him right where two of her fingers were thrusting at that moment.

She realized why he mentioned her embarrassment lessening with a blindfold earlier.
He wanted her to beg. In fact, he would probably only give it to her if she begged.
Her clit throbbed, pussy clenching around her fingers as the thought of it being his cock inside kept replaying in her mind. She moaned softly, leaving her abused nipple to find the other one and give it much the same treatment when Victor murmured and his voice sounded so sexy, so deep:
“Hands off. On your sides.”

She threw her head back into the pillows, huffing out a tortured breath as she obeyed anyway and he kissed the top of her foot:
“Good girl.”

He let her leg down, shifting on the bed and Nike could hear the rustle of his pants, her heartbeat picking up at knowing he was naked now.
More shifting. His warmth approaching, hands on the bed on either side of her head. He was looming above her, scent intoxicating, thick, hard cock positioned right where it should be. She whimpered, spreading her legs a tad wider, hips arching invitingly.
Victor clicked his tongue:
“Do you want me?”
“Yes.” She hissed under her breath: “Please.”
“Hmmm…” Victor sounded unconvinced, resting his weight on one hand, cock sliding along her slick folds before he took it in his other hand, lifting it off and letting it fall, spanking her on the pussy with it:
“Try again. Do you want me?”

Nike’s eyes were shut tightly behind the blindfold, she was biting on her lip, hands gripping the sheets:
“Victor, please… fuck me. I want your cock. Now. Please.”
Her words came out as a series of sharp whispers, bordering on whimpers, impatient, eager and Victor hummed once again:
He slid the tip of his cock inside and she moaned, trying to arch her hips to take him in deeper. It felt so good, finally feeling him, the warmth, the slickness, the stretch, his throb… she wanted it so much…

And he pulled out, spanking her pussy with his heavy cock again:
“I never said you may move. You will take as much as I give you. If you’re eager, if you want it so much, beg for it.”
His cock slid down her slit again, tip barely prodding and Nike’s brain was just a fuzzy mix of desire and frustration as she realized she will have to do as he says:
“Please… I want to feel it stretching me. All the way… feels so good.”
Her knuckles were white on the sheets and she was only half-aware she sounds barely coherent and nearly scandalous, but it was the truth.

And with an evil chuckle, Victor slid in with a smooth, slow thrust:
“You love it that much, hm? Like this? Stretching you nicely?”
Her loud, desperate moan should have been an answer enough. Her eyes rolled to the back of her head as she felt him sink deeper and deeper, so slowly it was almost torture, shaping, filling her, pinning her down, conquering. She wrapped her legs tightly around his waist:
“Yes… So good. Don’t stop. Don’t go.”
She babbled, Victor humming, leaning in to kiss her forehead as he lifted the blindfold:
“I’m not going anywhere.”

His rhythm was slow, languid, torturous at first, Nike begging him to go faster and knowing it would hurt if he did, but it would hurt so sweetly.
He kissed her, breath hot and wet as he whispered how good she felt in her ear. How he wanted to have her like that all the time, all his, so wet and desperate and wanting him and only him.
She eventually entangled her fingers in his hair, embraced him, legs squeezing tighter as she was lost in a sea of pleasure, nodding, saying yes to everything and meaning it.

Their lips were swollen from kissing as Victor kept pounding into her, switching positions, always seeking her eyes, her lips, his hands caressing and gripping like he wanted to reconfirm she was real and she reciprocated, her thin fingers entwining with his whenever his hand was within reach, her legs embracing him with more strength than he thought she had.

She was so beautiful when she fell apart on him, his name a series of desperate whines and moans as her eyes would roll back and her lips would tremble. He wanted to see it again and again and she was happy to let him, every time harder and harder for him to hold his own release off.
He had her in his lap, her legs and arms around him, when she came again and something about the way she nearly growled as she buried her face in his neck, her body exhausted but struggling to keep riding him, a dumbly satisfied expression on her face made him throw her on her back, her legs finding what seemed to be their place by now, around his waist but Victor tried to stop her:

“I’m close.” He hissed, rhythm unrelenting, her breasts bouncing with every hard, squelching thrust.
She just locked her ankles around his waist, the dumb smile on her face and in her eyes as she looked at his own hungry pools of indigo, pleasure tugging at her voice:
“Pill. I want to feel you inside.”

Victor’s eyes widened, entire body tensing as those words finally unraveled him and Nike’s exhausted body still followed, the grip of her legs letting up as she felt him coating her spasming walls, her own climax pulling all the more pleasure from Victor, his teeth bared as he pinned Nike down with his gaze.
It felt so good, so perfect and he kissed her, helplessly trying to convey the confusing, overwhelming storm in his chest through that kiss.

He wasn’t going anywhere. She was his.

It was Thursday afternoon and Nike had just gotten home from work, a spring in her step and an old Selena Gomez song on her lips. If she could see herself like in a movie, she would have laughed, an obligatory “look at this lovey-dovey sap” eye roll included.
But she actually loved it. Nike would be hard-pressed to admit as much, but she was a romantic deep down and she always believed in true love, although she attempted to be a little more rational and realistic when it came to her romantic pursuits.

There was nothing rational about how she was feeling these days, however. She was ridiculously in love, a stupid grin on her face whenever she was left with her thoughts for more than a second. She was aware that probably even Mrs. Whitman noticed, with how she commented she was happy that Nike was in such a great mood as of late. It wasn’t mean or meant to tease her, but Nike still felt the need to school her expression into a more neutral one for fear of appearing unprofessional.

After all, there was no way in hell someone trained by Mr. Lee of all people would have that cheery school girl demeanor. Yet, it was he who caused it. She found it unreasonably funny, but then again, she found everything funny these days; she was nearly euphoric.

The weekend they’d spent together was probably the best weekend she’d ever had in her life and she wanted nothing more than to snuggle into Victor again, inhaling his scent, especially after they’d had sex; and have him pull her so incredibly snug and kiss and nuzzle her hair as he did.
He truly was incredibly cuddly and it was one of her favorite things about him.

She’d seen Luna the previous day and her best friend interrogated her about the weekend, as expected. She laughed at Nike’s expressions as she avoided to spill juicy details and teased her that she does appear to be glowing:

“That’s some Good D Afterglow right there, you know?”
“I plead the Fifth!”
“We don’t even live in the US!”
“Then I plead whatever it is that will make you lay off my case!” She laughed and Luna playfully kicked her calf.
“You have to understand me, I am going through a kind of a dry spell ever since Sasha moved to Poland and now I am vicariously living through you!”
“Didn’t you say Victor was an asshole?” Nike teased without malice and Luna pretended to be embarrassed:
“Well, seeing how happy you look, I was obviously wrong! Tell me everything! It’s not true that these rich guys in fancy suits and cars have small dicks, is it?”

Nike nearly choked on her coffee laughing:
“Judging by my incredibly conclusive sample of ONE, no.”
“I knew it! But you know, they also say these guys who boss everyone around at work usually want someone to boss them around in the bedroom!”
“Only in the bedroom? What about in the kitchen?”

Nike meant it as a tease but Luna wiggled her eyebrows:
“So, you did it in the kitchen?”
“Too late, I can read your face!” Luna’s eyes were wide: “So, you dominated a billionaire CEO! Did you spank him with a wooden spoon? Had him cook in nothing but a frilly apron? Was the apron pink? Was his ass pink?”
“Luna! What kind of ideas ARE in that silly head of yours?”

Luna blinked a few times, an evil smirk spreading on her face:
“Oh no… I was wrong again, HE spanked YOU with a wooden spoon, didn’t he?”

Luna just kept her shit-eating grin firmly plastered as she deliberately slurped on her own coffee, eyebrow raised and Nike finally grumbled:
“Not with a wooden spoon. Seriously, that is just weird.”
“Why? Sometimes one just cannot be arsed to have a proper cane or paddle.”

Nike rolled her eyes, cheeks heating up:
“I forgot you watched that 50 Shades movie.”
“Hey, hey, hey! Some of us knew about kink way before that dubious clusterfuck came out! I’d be worried if anyone got their dynamic ideas from that, to be honest.”
Nike just nodded but Luna was apparently not done:
“But he IS the archetype! Rich, handsome, dominant CEO. Tell me, does he have Dom Jeans?”
“He is not an archetype of anything, he’s Victor. And Dom Jeans, what the fuck?”

Luna poked her shoulder:
“Oooh, sorry, Girl-In-Love HEISUNIQUE! Don’t you know about Dom Jeans? I sent you the meme, the guy puts them on like a costume when he plays!”
“I can’t imagine Victor even entertaining the idea of wearing a costume.”
“Well, I don’t think even Christian THINKS of them as a costume…”
“Would you like me to ask Victor for you? Tell him my friend is interested to see if he resembles a movie character?”

Luna shuddered:
“He’d probably make me write three annual reports in 4 days, please don’t.”
“Make it 3 days.” They both snickered.
Nike was ready to move the conversation along:

“What about the police officer you met?”
“We’re going on a date tomorrow, as it happens! He’s taking me bowling!”
“Can I trust you not to make jokes about big, heavy balls?”
“You’d do it too.”
“I would. But don’t be like me.”

As usual, Luna knew her too well:
“Whyyyy? Did it get you in trouble?”
“I didn’t mention any big, heavy balls.”
“But knowing you, you mentioned SOMETHING and Victor doesn’t seem like someone who would find it funny!”
“Well, not everyone has a sense of humor we do.”
“What did you say?”

Nike laughed, covering her face in embarrassment:
“I might have mentioned liquid assets.”
“Oh God! Why didn’t I think of that?! What did he do?”
“It doesn’t deter me, no matter how many times you plead it! Spill!”

They both laughed at “spill” as they would, and Nike just shook her head:
“Nope. We’ve got more pressing matters. Your date!”
“I will let you off the hook just because I want to gush at how adorable Gavin is!”
“Is he now?” Nike teased and Luna stuck her tongue out:
“Yes! I have to be a sweet, polite girl at least for now, I have a feeling I’d scare him off if I thirsted too openly.”
“Don’t objectify the guy.”
“I’m trying not to, but if you saw him, you’d understand.”
“You want to play with his baton, I understand.”
“You’re horrible!” Luna laughed, not finding it horrible at all.
“So, it wasn’t horrible to talk about Victor’s dick, but it is horrible to talk about Gavin’s? I KNOW the same thought occurred to you!” Nike mock-huffed and Luna winked:
“Oh, no, believe me, I will tell you everything about his dick when I get to see it.”
“WHEN you get to see it? Damn, I always loved your confidence.” Nike said without mocking.

So that evening, Luna was having her date and Nike was honestly excited for her friend. Luna was very sad when she broke up with Sasha and she deserved to find someone nice.
She was just starting dinner when her phone rang. Hoping it wasn’t Luna with the request for a made-up emergency, Nike dug it out of her purse. Hm. Unfamiliar number.

On the other side, she heard a pleasant female voice:
“Is this Miss Nike Conrad?”
Thinking that this might be business-related, Nike put on her professional voice:
“Yes, how may I help you?”
The woman on the other side let out a relieved chuckle:
“Oh, I am so happy I managed to get to you, Miss Conrad. First of all, I must apologize for calling your private number but I really need your help.”
Nike was confused, but then the woman continued:
“Silly me, I haven’t even introduced myself, forgive me. I am Stephanie Connors.”

THE Stephanie Connors? Supermodel? No way! But what were the chances that some other Stephanie Connors just happened to call her? She knew no Stephanies whatsoever to think this might be a woman she once knew who married a Connors and changed her name.
Stephanie continued, sounding apologetic all the while:

“I would have called you at the office but that would ruin the surprise, you see, so I had to do it this way, I am really sorry to disturb your private time.”

How did Stephanie even get her number? Did she know Mrs. Whitman or Mr. Bloomberg?
“Please don’t worry about it, Ms. Connors. So, what can I help you with?”
“Thank you SO much, and please, call me Stephanie. I’ll get to the point. I really need you to do me a favor, as Vic’s assistant.”

Nike’s brows furrowed. Nobody ever called her private number to ask for a favor as… Vic’s assistant. She couldn’t even imagine even herself calling him Vic.
Stephanie went on, entirely unperturbed by Nike’s silence:
“You see, I was supposed to reserve us a table for dinner tomorrow but unfortunately it completely slipped my mind due to my schedule and now they’re claiming they have nothing available at the Ritz. But if Vic’s assistant called, I am sure an opening would magically appear! Can you please, please do this for me, I will find some way to make it worth your while. I can’t just fail at this, it’s a special date, after all.”

The room was spinning. This definitely WAS the supermodel Stephanie Connors, now that she listened to the voice a while longer, she recognized it.
She squeezed her eyes shut as she gripped the counter to combat how dizzy she was feeling as her heart sank to the pits of her stomach.
So that was how it was. Victor demanding that she thought of nobody else while he had a supermodel on the side.
A surge of toxic spite climbed to Nike’s throat. Rationally, she knew she shouldn’t be blaming Stephanie, she didn’t know about her and Victor or she wouldn’t have called like this, but Stephanie was talking to her now, and Nike was heartbroken now. The cold grip of shame at sleeping with someone else’s boyfriend was yet to set in, so she was feeling bold:

“Mr. Lee makes all of his personal arrangements himself. I am surprised you do not know this, Ms. Connors.” She emphasized the formal addressing:
“Besides, I am not an LFG employee anymore. I cannot help you. Have a nice evening.”

She hung up, tossing her phone aside while her heart raced in an almost panicked state. She took deep breaths, feeling like she might vomit.
How the fuck could this have happened?
Her knuckles turned white as she held onto the counter for dear life, cold sweat making her shiver.
She wasn’t about to have a panic attack over this! Breathe!

Her eyes firmly shut, she counted to 20 aloud, focusing on her own voice instead of her thoughts until the bile climbing up her throat subsided slightly and she was confident enough to open her eyes. The kitchen wasn’t spinning around her anymore.

Was David right? Was she an idiot who got played? A little adventure, some fun thing to do on weekends? And she told him she was in love with him, for Christ’s sake! He said it back! He made fucking LOVE to her!
How could Victor lie that well?
Nike didn’t consider herself a stupid woman, but this time… she was an imbecile if she thought he was being genuine.

But… why? Why would he be that cruel? Even if he wanted to get some, why lie about any love being involved? That was just… heartless and evil.
Was that his revenge for her quitting? Was he that much of a psychopath?

She crumpled to the floor, trembling. She felt filthy. Nike never cheated on anyone and as far as she knew, nobody had cheated on her either. She would rather cut her arm off than be The Other Woman but it seemed that fate had a cruel way of spitting in her face.

Why would he do that to her? She buried her face in her hands and started crying.

It was almost an hour later when her tears finally subsided and her legs almost fell asleep on the floor when she finally got up, shaky like a newborn foal.
She had a crying-induced headache and she felt like she might have given herself a slight fever.

Feeling dead inside, she went to wash her face. It will all be fine. Nothing to worry about in the long run. Stephanie didn’t know anything and Nike will just get on with her life and recover in a few weeks. It wasn’t that serious, nothing she can’t get over with, it barely lasted a few weeks, that was nothing.

How could she have been so stupid… No! No more crying. She swallowed a bitter lump as she brushed her teeth, her dinner forgotten. She avoided looking in the mirror, the red as a tomato mess staring back frightening her.

She felt angry. Why would Victor get away with this? He cheated on his girlfriend AND he did it by tricking the other woman into it! He didn’t DESERVE to get away with something like that!
She glanced at her watch; toothbrush stuck in her mouth. It wasn’t even half past 7, Victor was still at the office.

Nike’s sorrow and shame all turned to white-hot rage.
If there ever was a moment in her life to feel enraged, this was it.
He was really going to get it now!

She washed her mouth quickly and ran to grab her shoes and bag.


The new personal assistant Victor hired was a young English man called Niles. He grew up in Loveland but got his higher education in Europe, living with his mother in London. He considered his current position at LFG a good starting point for advancing his career in business.
He didn’t particularly mind Victor as a boss, either. He was demanding and abrasive, but it was nothing he hadn’t already seen during his internship in England the previous year.
Besides, this past week, Victor seemed to be in a better mood. He praised Niles’ coffee and let him leave without overtime on Monday. Niles also caught him smiling at his phone on a couple of occasions.

Ever observant, he caught on very quickly. His boss was in love.
He just hoped it would last since he didn’t mind leaving work at 5 like a normal person.
But that day, Niles did have to stay for some overtime because Victor informed him that he could leave early the next day. He was fine with that; every additional hour of the weekend was good news.

He was just wrapping up some correspondence with Germany (it was the middle of the day for them still) when he was startled by a young woman barging into his office. It didn’t take Niles’ sharp eye to notice that she was angry as all hell. Her mouth was tight in a scowl and her flaming red ponytail swayed as she marched. She spared him a glance:

“I’m terribly sorry.” She squeezed out as she went right for Victor’s office.
“Sorry, Miss, you cannot…” Niles was already getting up but the woman didn’t even flinch:
“I’d like to see him try and scold you for this.”
She said menacingly but Niles still had to try and stop her so that was how they both stumbled into Victor’s office, causing him to lift his gaze in surprise, pulling earbuds out of his ears. His eyes immediately locked on the woman, initially bright but his brows furrowed as soon as he saw the expression on her face.

Was that the girlfriend? And she was THIS angry and he dared frown?
Did he have balls of steel or a death wish?!

“I’m sorry, sir, I tried to…”
“That’s alright, Niles.” Victor didn’t even look at him: “You may go home.”

Uh-oh. It was serious, then. The woman stared Victor down for a brief moment before she turned to Niles and tried her best to smile politely:
“I apologize once again, Mr. Niles. I can promise you this will never happen again.”
“It’s alright, Miss,” Niles replied before he wished Victor a pleasant evening to which his boss merely scoffed.

When Niles closed the door behind him, Victor stood up, motioning for the leather chairs at the other end of his office:
“Let us take a seat.” He said curtly, obviously displeased with what she’d done but Nike couldn’t care less. What she did care about, however, was not letting his new assistant hear anything so they both sat in awkward silence until they saw Niles had turned off the lights in his workspace and left.

She avoided even looking at Victor for fear of crying again. When the space was finally quiet, Victor spoke:

“Is there any specific reason for this sudden visit? You could have called.”
“I could have.” She nearly snarled, staring blankly at the bookshelf in front of her. When she finally dared look at him, his expression was still mildly annoyed but he also looked worried which just spurred her on. He had every reason to be worried!

“Were you planning to tell me you have a special date tomorrow night?”
She tried her best to not let her voice shake. The crease between Victor’s brows deepened:
“I should think so since you’re one half of it. Why are you angry?”
“Oh, I am one half of it? Are you sure?”

Victor nearly scowled at her, his voice dripping in warning:
“Nike, what is this about?”
“This is about your girlfriend calling me to book you two a table at the Ritz since I am… Vic’s assistant.”

She mockingly emphasized the last two words, air quotes and all.
Nike believed she had seen Victor angry before. But the shadow that now passed over his face was not just angry… it was frightening, his brows dipping so low in a frown his eyes seemed black and the corners of his mouth tightening like a string that was about to snap:

“Is her name Stephanie?” He asked quietly, his voice a low growl that would have terrified Nike if she wasn’t already furious:
“How many have you got if you’re guessing?”
“Answer my question.” He threatened in the same growl, getting up and fetching his phone.

Nike stood up as well:
“You must be lucky to guess on your first try. So? What do you have to say for yourself?”
Victor’s eyes flitted from the phone he was already scrolling through:
“You’ll hear in a moment. If she dares pick up. And then you and I are going to have a serious conversation.”

He touched the screen a few times and laid the phone on the desk, turning the speaker on. Nike blinked in confusion. What was he doing?

It rang a few times and every time tightened the knot in her stomach, her fingers tingling.
Stephanie finally picked up, voice as sweet as honey:

“Vic, darling! So happy you called.”
“That makes one of us. What the fuck are you doing, Stephanie?”
Victor’s voice was leveled and cold and Stephanie giggled:
“What on earth do you mean?”

There was no trace of the sweet, apologetic woman that called Nike previously. She was enjoying this. Victor cast a warning glance to Nike, supposedly to keep her quiet. Not like she had the strength to speak, anyway.

“You called Nike. What did you tell her?” He demanded, like a professor about to discipline a student.
“Oh me? Nothing special. We had a little girl talk. Nothing for you to be worried about.”
“Stephanie, I am warning you. What. Did. You. Tell. Her?”
His posture was perfectly straight and as taut as a bow, his jawline clenched. Stephanie giggled again:
“Darling, I’d love to stay and chat but I have somewhere to be…”
“Would you prefer our lawyers talking instead?”

That seemed to have done the trick and Nike briefly wondered why before Stephanie chuckled:
“There’s no need to go that far. I merely called your little assistant to ask her to book us a table for dinner… you know, it is our anniversary and all…”

Nike opened her mouth but a glance from Victor froze her in her tracks:
“Stephanie, you and I are NOT in a relationship.”
Stephanie seemed to find that hilarious, laughing like a gleeful child:
“Yes, but she doesn’t know that!”

Victor kept his cold, terrifying eyes on Nike, observing a wash of anger on her face.
“She does now,” Victor growled quietly:
“If I ever catch you doing anything even remotely inconveniencing to me OR her again, Stephanie, I WILL make sure your bosses are entirely aware of certain things about you.”

There was a short pause on the other side before Stephanie hissed:
“You wouldn’t dare. I could destroy you in the press.”
“Nobody whose opinion matters reads the kind of garbage that would listen to you.”
“Hm… I wonder about that. Oh, since we’re being honest, does she also know you bought her ex’s theater, Vicky, darling?”

Nike’s mouth gaped at Victor who seemed to have straightened his spine even further if that were possible, hanging up on Stephanie without a word.
Nike’s entire body grew cold and stiff as a rock:

“You… Did… What?!”

Chapter Text

Nike felt her insides fluttering as her eye twitched uncontrollably, pinning Victor with her gaze.
She was never this distressed in her life, she thought.
The emotional rollercoaster was too much. First, she was devastated, then furious, then guilty and now she went right back to being furious. And confused. And scared.

Her breathing came out almost ragged as the seconds seemed to drag on as she waited for his response, something in the back of her mind noticing his bangs seemed slightly more parted all of a sudden.
When did he rake his hand through his hair? She was looking at him the entire time and he didn’t do it.
How could something move without actually moving?

He finally opened his mouth and even his eyes looked different… guilty. He was furious just moments ago. He seemed to be able to ride that rollercoaster at lightning speed.

“I bought the theater.”

“I heard as much. Why?” She barked back. “And when?!”

“He hurt you.” Victor’s brows furrowed as if that was obvious. He clenched his teeth:
“After our first date.”

Nike inhaled through her nose loudly:

“I already told you I handled everything myself! Were you even listening to me when I said that? Were you even listening to me when I said I DO NOT wish for anything bad to happen to any of my exes?”

Victor blinked, seemingly in shock before he scowled back:

“Should I have let him disturb you further? Hurt you again?”

“What you SHOULD have done is mind your own fucking business! You’re the one who has Cruella De Fucking Vil pulling shit!”

“Don’t yell at me,” Victor warned, blowing air out of his nostrils and Nike barely resisted her urge to slap him. She had never slapped anyone in her life.

“Or what? You’ll buy my apartment building and evict me?”


“No! I am talking! After our first date, Victor?! What kind of a… a… a PSYCHOPATH buys the fucking COMPANY her ex works at after ONE date with the woman?! Or EVER, for that matter, that is not something a normal person would ever do! What were you THINKING?!”

“Psychopath thoughts, apparently,” Victor remarked dryly. He sounded like he was viciously kicked and for a moment there, something in Nike felt guilty, like she was taking it too far, but her anger kept pushing those thoughts away. Her anger was twisting her into someone whom she didn’t know, someone who just wanted to have the whole world crash down on Victor.

“Apparently.” She retorted stubbornly.

They stood there, two steps away but the distance seemed to grow with every heartbeat of silence. The anger was still holding normal thoughts hostage and so the terrifying thought that suddenly gripped at Nike’s heart didn’t truly register, or if it did, her disgusting rage just took it as free reign to bring this shitstorm down even harder.

I just lost him.

Tyler Durden would have laughed and patted her on the back:

Now you can do anything! Anything you want! Go ahead!

“What did you do to him, Victor?”

Any remaining spark in Victor’s gaze was blown out like a candle after that question.
His face turned expressionless, voice impassionate and cold:

“Nothing, don’t worry. I’ve already initiated the process of selling the theater.”

He spoke robotically, walking around the desk and taking a seat, fingers crossing with more vigor than usual, fingertips red as he gripped at the backs of his hands.
Nike would later remember this moment; it would be the most vivid sight of the entire conversation. The moment she lost Victor, the moment the Victor she had just begun to discover closed off, turning back to the cold, expressionless, emotionless robot she thought he was initially.

“Anything else?” He asked.

And just like that, the conversation was over. Nike shook her head as she stormed to the chair to fetch her purse, her eyes stinging already:

“That will be all. Thank you for your time.”

She didn’t spare him a single glance as she stormed out of the office. If she did, she would have seen him opening his mouth, her name on the tip of his tongue. If she did, he might have decided to call her back.
But all he saw was her leaving after confirming David was fine.
He was an idiot.



Victor’s hands were trembling even after he unclasped them as Nike left. He stared at the door, feeling his throat constricting, trying to breathe to force nausea away.

She left. And she’s not coming back. He probably just helped her realize she wants that bastard back.
She was probably going to him at that very moment.
Could he even have done anything to prevent that from happening?

Maybe. Maybe not.
But all he did do was play the bad guy… the psychopath and make David appear so much better in comparison.
Victor just wanted to protect her. He wouldn’t have done anything to David provided he didn’t try to hurt her again.
But what if he tried to get her back? Would Victor have brought the whip on him if he tried to reconcile with Nike? Regardless of her response?

Of course not, she was a free person. Victor couldn’t control anything about her.
He wanted to. He so wanted to make sure she wanted to stay with him.

A rush of cold sweat washed over him. She was right. He WAS a psychopath.
He felt like he could vomit. Out of disgust with himself, probably.

What was it all even for? He never even stood a chance. Maybe if he waited… if he gave her time to get over David; if he…
He knew why he didn’t do that. That would have given them time to get back together.
When did he become this desperate?
Why did he pursue someone who obviously loved someone else?

She only worried about him… she left after she made sure Evil Psycho Victor didn’t harm him.
He slammed his hands against his desk as he stood up, flailing to knock over some folders, a mess of papers flying everywhere.

He had made such an utter and complete fool of himself.
He should have never even asked to drive her home on her last day at LFG.
He should have probably just gnawed his arm off, it would have hurt less.

She never even trusted him as far as she could throw him. She instantly bought Stephanie’s shit, she didn’t even stop to think, to give him the benefit of the doubt, she instantly assumed he was a cheater and a player and a fucking scumbag who would hurt her like that.

It all twisted a knife in his chest.

Was she lying when she told him she loved him?

He ran through the empty halls, getting to the restroom just in time to seemingly throw up every meal he ever had.

A loud, frantic knock on the door jolted David out of his nap. He fell asleep watching some artsy movie with Christopher Walken and he now sat up, confused and muzzy.

He fumbled out of his tangled blanket and padded over to the door, yawning.
But when he opened it and saw Nike, he was instantly awake, rubbing his eyes in shock:

“I hope you’re happy.” She started venomously:
“I just came to tell you something I think you should know. Victor bought your theater. He’s selling it, though, I hope… so don’t worry. I’m sorry. I had nothing to do with it. We broke up. There. I don’t even know why I came to tell you this. I feel weird. Have a nice evening.”

She turned to storm off, but David was awake enough now to grab her by the wrist:

“Wait, wait, wait.”

Their eyes locked and he saw her own were red, her eyelashes still wet. His heart dropped to the pit of his stomach and without thinking, he hugged her tight, enveloping both her arms in the embrace, nearly crushing her against his chest, his hand on the back of her head. She started crying again:

“Let me go.”
“No. We have to talk. Come in.”
“We don’t have to talk. You were right, I’m an idiot, so there.”
“No. We really have to talk. Please.”

He didn’t let her go until he safely closed the door behind them in his apartment.

“Let me get you some water.”

It was strange to have Nike in his apartment, especially after fearing that would never happen again.
It didn’t happen the way he wanted it to, either.

David drank some water himself before grabbing a glass for her. He could hear her sniffling from the living room, she turned off the TV.

He felt guilty. He didn’t want to see her cry. Even if she was crying because she broke up with her new boyfriend… David still didn’t like the sight.
Fame hasn’t even come out and she found out… did that mean that Victor told her?

A thought surged through David’s mind. If he did… she never needs to know David had anything to do with the magazine or Stephanie or anything. He was beginning to realize that hadn’t been such a good idea after all and he just hoped it would quietly disappear.

He just wanted Victor to suffer, to get it, to be embarrassed. Exposed.
He never thought that would make Nike cry.
Or maybe he only stupidly hoped it wouldn’t. He hoped she wouldn’t care enough to try. He hoped she’d get angry, dump the guy and then… then maybe… maybe with time, they could reconcile, David and her.
If only there was nothing about Victor that she found appealing…

If only he hadn’t lost his shit because of that anniversary dinner. If only he waited, let his head cool off, talked to her… if only he told her how he felt, insecurities be damned. This was his girlfriend, his Nike. He should have shared things like that with her. Why was he stupid?

Nike took the glass and gulped all the water down in record time:
“You want another one?”
She shook her head.
David sat down across from her, suddenly not knowing what to say. So he said a stupid thing:
“Are you alright?”

“Do I look alright?” She snapped before she rubbed her face and sighed in defeat:
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to shout… I came here to apologize to you. I’m sorry and I never wanted you to go through any trouble like that. I know I said some mean things but… I would never do something like this to you… or anybody.”

“I know,” David said quietly, eyes on his feet. He was burning with shame. He sighed, bracing himself for the worst:
“I knew.”

Nike didn’t seem to understand what he meant because she thanked him quietly. David cleared his throat and tried again:

“I knew that he bought the theater.”

He could tell her gaze shot up to look at him and he couldn’t face her:
“Did he… threaten you?”

This should have been exactly what David wanted. Nike just assumed he was innocent and Victor was the bad guy through and through. He could say yes or let her think he did. He could take advantage of this. But he didn’t.

“No. He never came to the theater.”
“So how did you know?”

He ran his fingers through his hair, tugging at the strands with another sigh:
“His ex-girlfriend told me.”

“Ex-girl…” Nike began, slapping her thigh angrily and David looked up at her. She was fuming:
“That Stephanie bitch?!”

She knew about Stephanie, too? But why call her a bitch…
Nike grabbed the glass and stomped off to the kitchen to get more water, her voice louder as she kept talking:

“She called me to…” Nike cut herself off: “She called me to lie. Made me into a complete fucktard. And THEN she mentioned the theater.”

That was not what they agreed to! Stephanie shouldn’t have called Nike, ever!

David suddenly realized he had probably been played. He didn’t quite understand how or why, but even David could be intuitive sometimes. Too late, but still.
Stephanie talked politely about Nike!

That should have been a sign. David has had several female friends throughout his life and if there was one thing he knew, one thing he SHOULD HAVE known, was that women weren’t polite about their ex’s new girlfriend if they had feelings for the ex.

Well, to be fair, men were like that, too. He was living proof.
He should have noticed! He should have thought Stephanie’s proposal was too good to be true!

Was there nothing he wasn’t able to screw up?!

Nike came back, eyes narrow and David knew the look. She realized something:

“Why did she tell you?”

That was it. That was David’s chance to, for once, do the right thing. So, he came clean:

“She contacted me and told me she loves him and wants him back and since I also want you back… that we should let you know what he did.”

Nike blinked. Took a very deep breath. Then another one. And another one. Finally, she spoke, the quiet anger more terrifying than any shout:

“Let me know how exactly? I don’t recall you calling me to tell me.”

“She said that would have just gotten me fired.”
Nike pursed her lips, obviously considering that. Her brows dipped and relaxed several times in thought until she finally shook her head.
David knew this look, too. Her shoulders slumped as she plopped back in the armchair.

Nike was defeated. Deflated. Exhausted.
She will now raise her hands defensively, then cross her arms on her chest.

He wished he could do something to fix it. Anything. He realized it felt horrible to see her sad, more horrible than he assumed it would. His anger, his bitterness, his stubbornness, all prevented him from coming to that conclusion sooner.

And even after everything, she came here to apologize to him.
He felt like he owes her something but he didn’t know what.

“It seems nobody ever listens to me.” She finally muttered, her voice detached and flat.

“I told you I loved you until you ignored it so many times that I didn’t feel like saying it anymore. It was always tension and jealousy and hurtful remarks and accusing me and… it became exhausting, David. It became exhausting to never be able to tell you that I’m tired and angry and frustrated because you would always twist it to be about you. And when we’d spend time together, it was always your plays, your ideas, your work and fun fun fun, video games and movies and comics and shit. Yes, I love those things but… it felt like I’m spending time with a high school friend. Not my boyfriend who was supposed to believe me and believe in me and support me and at least feign interest in my life.
For you, my life became about how YOU felt threatened by Victor.”

David remained silent, avoiding to look at her, feeling like he deserved that. It was painful, but he deserved it.

“I stopped telling you I loved you before I even realized it was because I didn’t love you anymore. I stopped loving you because I started thinking you never loved me to begin with.”

He tensed at that:

“That’s not true and you know it. I loved you… I still love you.”

“It doesn’t feel like it. If you loved me, you’d have listened to me. You’d have believed me when I told you that I loved you. It wasn’t Victor who “stole me” from you, David. You pushed me away yourself. It was probably over way before you actually left me. I didn’t want to admit it or even believe it myself, but now I think that’s what happened. You never needed me, for me. You needed someone to validate you. You needed someone to make you feel good about yourself.
I probably indulged you until I had no more energy. I am sorry.”

Her voice trembled and she swallowed back tears:

“I’m sorry.” She repeated, steadying her voice “Because that wasn’t fair to either of us. I should have said something. If I told you how I felt… maybe things would have been different. But I just let everything die down. You were both right and wrong. This relationship ending indeed was my fault, but it wasn’t because of Victor. This would have happened anyway. Maybe it would have taken longer but… I wouldn’t have been able to have you as the center of the universe forever.
I still feel sad about it. I did love you.”

She stood up slowly, the half-empty glass of water forgotten on the cluttered coffee table:

“Please take care of yourself. Stop smoking, why did you start again? Try to believe in yourself… nobody will be able to give you that, you have to do it yourself.”

She chuckled self-deprecatingly, adjusting her purse strap on her shoulder:
“Oh, you know what, ignore what I just said. I am the least qualified person to give self-love advice.”

David stood up as well and they locked eyes.
Yes, this hurt. But deep down, he knew that she was right:

“I am so sorry, Nike.”
“I know. Me too.”

He hugged her again and this time she hugged back. They stood like that for a long time, no tears left to cry on either side. She was warm and smelled just as nice as he remembered, but somehow… she didn’t feel so well-molded to his embrace anymore. Maybe that thought will sting less someday.

“I wish I was smarter earlier,” David mumbled into her hair and Nike rubbed his back:
“Me too. Is this what they call “too little too late?” ”
“I think so. We should have looked it up online instead of trying it out for ourselves.”

His chuckle was hollow as he let silence reign for a while. Neither of them made a move to end their embrace, knowing this was the last one they had, this was truly goodbye.
Finally, while he was still safely hidden from her eyes, he asked:

“What are you going to do now?”
“Nothing. Go home.”
“You know what I mean.”
“I do. My answer is still the same. Go home. Get shitfaced by myself. Find something boring to watch to fall asleep. Work with a hangover tomorrow. Live dangerously.”
“You just told me to take care of myself.”
“And then I remembered that bottle of Jack I have at home and told you to forget what I just said.”

David scoffed:
“Do you remember Far Cry 3?”
“You were the one who played it. I just watched you a little when half my WoW guild was late for raids.”
“Do you remember Vaas? The guy with the mohawk?”
“The one who talks about insanity?”
“Yeah. He says the definition of insanity is doing the same fucking thing over and over again, expecting shit to change.”

Nike paused, trying to make sense of what he said:
“Why are you bringing that up now?”

David gave her a final squeeze before he let her go, rubbing the back of his neck, eyes wandering:
“I thought it was a good piece of advice for both of us.” He shrugged:
“To try and break some habits in the future.”

Nike smiled and it seemed sad, yet hopeful at the same time:
“Yeah… that’s why I’m drinking the Jack straight tonight.”

He snorted and Nike walked toward the door slowly:
“I know that’s not what you meant and thank you. I promise to try to heed that advice if you promise you’ll do the same.”

“I promise.”

She stood there for another second until both their lips curved into matching smiles like mirror images. Sad smiles. But liberating smiles:

“Have a good life, David.”
“You too, Nike.”

She closed the door behind her quietly. And just like that… David realized finality was not as devastating as he feared. Bad, yes. But not hopeless. Or was it called closure?

“Another gutter ball? Didn’t you say you liked bowling?”

Luna teased Gavin, her eyes narrowing playfully:
“Or are you letting me win out of pity?”

Gavin chuckled, shaking his head and Luna thought, for the umpteenth time that evening, how she wanted to kiss him:

“No, I’m just a little out of practice.”

He did win in the end, but Luna suspected he threw several gutters to try and at least not win with a devastating advantage. It was unnecessary but sweet.
She didn’t bowl that much and Gavin showed her a few neat tricks that she couldn’t quite replicate straight away but they were still cool.
She discovered Gavin was fun to talk to unless she flirted. When she did, he’d stutter, blush, look away and generally be so adorable she thought he should come with a health warning.

Danger: This adorable officer might cause death by cuteness overdose.

They had drinks later and she enjoyed looking deep into his honey-amber eyes until he’d smile awkwardly and look away only to bring his gaze back seconds later.
It was weird, she didn’t feel this giddy about someone since high school.

“Would you like to see a movie this weekend?” She asked him and Gavin’s eyes widened:
“How did you do that?”
“Do what?”
“I was… well I was just about to ask the same thing.” He muttered, scratching the tip of his nose cutely.
“Great minds think alike?” She offered and Gavin dipped his head in laughter before he looked back up at her:
“That’s so cliché.”
“Yeah, I know.” She grinned, nibbling on her straw, not missing the tiniest flit of his gaze toward her mouth before he schooled it back on her eyes, cheeks slightly pink.

“So, what movie do you want to see?” She asked and Gavin seemed grateful for that small mercy even as she kept playing with the straw, fingers stroking up and down and lips wrapping around it slowly as she sipped on her drink.
“Uhm… whatever you want. I’m fine… with anything.” He was trying to focus on words and not on what she was doing.
“Anything?” She asked as innocently as she could and Gavin walked right into that one:
“Sure. I like all sorts of movies.”
“Oh, great! I have many movies at my place.”

This was the moment where Gavin either chickens out or shows that he’s Officer Courageous. He nodded slowly, his face lighting up in that angelic smile even as his eyes glinted:

“Sounds good. When works for you?”

She wanted to say “whenever” but realized he needed a specific day:

“That works, I’m off on Sunday. So I’m yours even if you want to watch two movies.”
“What if I want to watch movies all night?”

She arched an eyebrow at him, voice dripping in mischief and Gavin gulped, even as his gaze turned resolute:

“Then I’m yours all night.”

Luna realized that, in trying to play him, she played herself. That was probably the hottest thing she ever heard. Even if she reconsidered her initial idea to fluster Gavin with a risqué movie… after this? No way!
He wasn’t getting any mercy!

Chapter Text

It was almost 1 a.m. and Nike was on her second glass of whiskey when she had a thought.

She hurt Victor.
She knew it before but it was floating around her mind, like little specks of dust that are invisible until a ray of sunshine pierces the room and brings them to full view.

She immediately asked about David.
That was when Victor’s face just… died.
Why did she do that? She knew it wasn’t because she wanted David back… but she wanted to make sure he was alright, she…

His apartment was so messy, even messier than what was David’s normal, and David’s normal was already bumped from normal person’s normal.
He looked a little slimmer and his place reeked of smoke. It got in her hair just from being there for half an hour.
But he was alright, all things considered. He will be alright.

She needed that, she realized. She needed to talk to him one last time and not end that conversation on a bad note…

Then why did she end it so tragically with Victor?
She screwed that up so, so, so bad. She should have waited… she should have let him say something, anything… even if what he ended up saying was stupid…
She knew Victor never did anything without a reason. She also thought Victor never did anything on impulse.
Yet, this purchase of his was entirely impulsive. Victor never even invested in theater before.

And she just jumped to the conclusion he did that to torture David.
That was… unfair.

She likened him to any of the many bullies she met throughout her life.
Him, who was supposed to be her boyfriend. Whom she supposedly loved.
She scoffed at herself, downing the strong spirit and grimacing as it burned her throat.

She wronged him. And he never even said so.
Nike’s chest shriveled with shame.
How could she claim to love somebody and then immediately believe someone slandering them or assume they were a bully?

She bought Stephanie’s story like it were hotcakes and Victor was innocent.
Yes, it was an overreaction on his part to go and buy that theater but… she just assumed he did it out of the worst possible reasons.

Her mind went to that time when he sent her his credit card.
That was too much, as well.
Then that time in his home office, when he… blundered, right.
He blundered because he was worried about David.

He did grand things because… why? Because his balance was off?
Could it be possible that Victor did all these rom-com level grand things because he didn’t know how to express what he felt in a less… intense way?

Contrary to her knee-jerk reaction to always assume the worst, Nike now deliberately tried to assume the best.

If she were Victor… what would make her purchase companies and send black cards and worry so much?

Her body tensed as she smacked her forehead.

It’s a desperate desire to be liked. No… loved.

It was: “I will give you everything, please love me” that she could understand. It was like when she was little and she would share all her toys and offer homework help to the point of being used just because she wanted the other kid to like her and be her friend.
She stopped doing that when they just broke or stole her toys and she realized they only talked to her if she would do their homework.

Victor was offering her his toys.
If she weren’t already snotty and dizzy from crying, she would have laughed.
Neither of them was 6 anymore. Yet, it seemed like some things never truly changed.

Black cards replaced Action Men, but the sentiment was the same.

Her foggy gaze stuck to an empty spot on the wall.
What now?

She screwed up. If she were Victor, she’d never want to see her again.

Nike poured herself another glass of whiskey, ignoring the fact she was already seeing double, having skipped dinner.
She spent the entire night sitting on the floor of her living room, half-crying and half-spacing out, coming up with seemingly thousands of empty consoling words for herself, knowing she doesn’t deserve them; passing out in the morning, right after she informed the office she’s sick.

The heavy beat seemed to throb in her very head sometime later. But it was too… rhythmical.
Who was singing? And what language was that?
It took her until the chorus to realize it’s a song she loved. The song she used as her ringtone.

She fumbled as best as she could with only one eye open in the way too bright room, the other one clinging to sleep, wincing. Why did she fall asleep on the floor?

“Yes…” she murmured groggily.
“Nike, have you seen… Wait, what’s wrong with you?!”

Luna’s voice was panicked and way too loud.

“I’m hungover.” She pressed her fingers to her eyelids.
“Oh God. Where are you?”
“Hang in there. I’m coming after work.”
“No… you don’t need to.”
“Shut up.”

Luna hung up and Nike slammed her forehead into the sofa, immediately regretting it. Her mouth was dry and there was still a clench in her chest.
She sighed. Time for days of anxiety.

She somehow managed to take a shower and half-successfully tidy up before Luna arrived. Why did she even call in the first place?
Nike was out of aspirin. Her stomach was also growling and too clenched to have anything put in it. It was what she hated the most about being anxious and depressed.
Other people ate because they were upset. She didn’t.
She’d just stare at a spot on the wall or brainwash herself with memes, funny movies or anything else meant to elicit a chuckle, or sleep for hours on end.
It was like even breathing was a chore when she’d get like this.

The last time this happened was way back freshman year of university. This bottomless pit inside of her.
She took every day prior to this one for granted. What was it like to be happy?

Part of her knew those were irrational thoughts, depression mixed with alcohol that had yet to fully clear out of her system and with exhaustion.
Part of her knew she’ll be alright.
That part was on standby now. She just wanted to crawl into a hole and die.

Luna gave her a once over, eyebrows furrowed in concern and just spread her arms:
“Come here.”
She rubbed circles on her back and rocked her left and right softly and Nike felt nothing at the gesture. She knew she should feel good about her friend being there and she would once she regained some of her non-depressed identity, just not now.
“Tell me everything.”

Luna took her to the sofa and pulled out two cups of Starbucks and a pastry for Nike out of the takeout bag.

“And eat this.”
“I’m not hungry.”
“Liar. Eat it or I will force-feed you.”

Nike grunted and started picking at the pastry absent-mindedly:
“We broke up.”
“Why?” Luna asked, seemingly cautiously.

“I don’t want to talk about it.” Nike took a sip of coffee, thanking every deity ever that Luna remembered not to buy her sweet coffee. Hangover and sweet coffee were NOT buddies.
Ignoring what she just said, she continued:
“Because I am an idiot and he is an idiot, too; but I out-idioted him.”

Luna frowned:
“What did he do?”
“His ex called and tried to make me believe they were together.”
“Please don’t tell me she succeeded.”
“She did,” Nike whined to herself in recollection before she continued:
“He cleared that one up… I might have managed to apologize… it MIGHT have been fine… but then she said that Victor bought David’s theater.”

Luna pulled something out of her blue Michael Kors bag that Nike called “Of Kors I have it! Bag”, because it was humongous and Luna seemed to carry half the world’s wonders in it.
She threw the object in front of Nike, her expression bitter:

“I choked on my coffee when I read it.”
It was the new issue of Fame, Victor’s picture on the cover, with a large yellow title: “CEO buys competition”.
Nike pushed the magazine off the table and to the floor, like a cat.

Luna was staring her down intently:
“So? What did he say?”
“Not much.”
“Yes?” she prodded and Nike uttered the next words sheepishly, as if nervous about Luna’s reaction:
“He said he did that because David hurt me.”

Luna paused at that, leaning back and crossing her legs, index finger tapping on her lips in thought:
“That’s a fucking power move.”

Nike’s head jerked and she didn’t even register the flash of pain in her temple at that:
“A what now?”

Luna chuckled even as she raised a hand apologetically:
“And they say alpha males don’t exist in humans, fucking Adam, ruining everything! Well, can’t you see what he did?”

Nike tilted her head, swallowing:
“I’m done making dumb assumptions, so please enlighten me.”

“Well, someone hurt you and upset you. Now, Victor could have… oh, I don’t know, gone there and told him to chill, maybe even served him a knuckle sandwich or just… you know, offered you some good old Sturdy Chest to nuzzle, you know how guys are when they realize you could use some comfort… but no. He figured he could, so he just went and did the most terrifying, the most threatening “back off MUH WOMAN, lesser man!” thing he could think of without getting his hands actually dirty. Ballsy.”

Nike blinked at her friend in shock:
“Wait… you APPROVE of it?”
Luna shook her head, frowning:
“No, no, don’t get me wrong. I DID say it’s terrifying. He didn’t ACTUALLY do any mobbing or fire him or something?”
“No. They never even met.”
“Just as I suspected, so it was just an intimidation tactic.”
“But Luna, WHO spends MILLIONS on an intimidation tactic over someone they went on ONE date with?”

Luna laughed, leaning in to flick Nike on the head, Nike being too groggy to dodge:
“Someone who has BILLIONS and is in love. Idiot.”
In her defense, Luna tried not to laugh too much at her friend. Nike frowned, hugging her knees:
“Well, it doesn’t matter now.”
“What do you mean, it doesn’t matter?! The poor sap loves you, you obviously love him, or you wouldn’t look as miserable as you do right now… what is your issue, people?”

Nike suddenly felt irritated. She knew Luna was not to blame, but she couldn’t suppress the sarcasm in her voice:

“The ISSUE, Luna, is that I called him a psychopath and he basically kicked me out of his office.”
“He kicked you out?” Luna knew better than to believe her friend when she got defensive like this:
“Repeat what he said. Verbatim.” Her eyes narrowed suspiciously.
“Anything else?” Nike squeezed out.

Luna gasped:
“You called him a psychopath and he said “anything else”?”

Luna uncrossed her legs only to switch them as she crossed them again, fingers still tapping on her lips:
“You told me this guy is not that verbally gifted?”
“You make it sound like he has a stutter and a lisp and rolls his Rs.”
“Okay, okay, he’s not great at communication! Better?”

“Yeah, he’s not. But I thought I was and look how that turned out!”
“True.” Luna ignored the glare Nike gave her. “So, correct me if I’m wrong, but he let you fume and rage and basically ASKED you if you want to do it some more?”

“No, he asked that like he was concluding a tedious business conversation.”

Luna shook her head, her voice triumphant:
“Yeah, because All Business is a defense mechanism. I mean, okay, wanting to show your love and getting called a psycho for it surely hurts… but you’re a firecracker and I KNOW you ran a train over him. I don’t know what I would do if I was ever on the receiving end of your anger, honestly.”

“So, it’s all MY fault?! Is that what you came here to tell me?”
“No and you know it. Calm down, I am on your side. What he did was really intense and I get that you’re upset, especially since he didn’t even tell you himself… I get it. But look at it from his perspective. He goes all Prince Charming, or what HE believes is Prince Charming only for the princess to get uber pissed because of it!”

She ignored how Nike buried her face in her hands:
“Hmmm… I don’t know him, but do you think he’s stoic enough not to tell you because he believes he should handle everything and you should just be happy and unconcerned?”

Nike mumbled from behind her palms, voice muffled:
“Should I get victory rolls and move to Stepford, too?”

Luna laughed at that:
“You’d look awesome with victory rolls! But no, listen. I know us women always grumble how we want to be independent and do everything a man does and how we don’t need them… and yet… we all secretly want a man who takes charge and SOLVES shit. That doesn’t mean we want him to baby us or whatever, but you can’t tell me you never wished to have a badass guy nobody dares to mess with! Be honest!”

“I’m still shitfaced.”

Luna continued as if Nike said nothing:
“And you can’t tell me you couldn’t even presume he’d do something like this. You think people just manage to have Steve Jobs’ net worth at 28 by being nice when there’s an obstacle?”

“It’s not about being nice… I didn’t want all that drama… I never wanted the two of them to have anything to do with each other… and I mean… I’m not exactly used to guys buying companies because of me.”

“Hey, if you don’t want it, pass him to me, that other catering business down the street is a thorn in my side… I’d gladly have someone buy it and reconstruct it into a hardware shop or something!”

“Luna!” Nike scolded but laughed nonetheless. Luna felt glad.
“I’m just kidding. Come on, chin up. We’ll figure it out. I’ll have you two crazy kids back together in no time.”

Nike’s face fell again:
“You haven’t seen him. He just… looked at me like he hated me.”
Her voice wavered, another wave of tears approaching. Luna clicked her tongue:
“Well, I imagine he’s hurt, too. He wouldn’t be hurt if he hated you. Come on. Calm down now and give it a few days and then call him.”
“He wouldn’t pick up. He probably already has a restraining order against me. Just like that, in less than a day. Because he’s Victor.”

Luna rubbed her hands together:
“Even if he does, and you watch too much Suits and should of all people know better; he doesn’t have a restraining order against ME. I’ll go up there and drag him here by the ear if I must.”
“The security would…”
“You think I trained aikido because the instructor was cute?”
“Well, actually…”
“It was a rhetorical question! The point is, I’m not going to let the two of you ruin something you JUST started building because you haven’t discovered the magic of communication yet!”

Nike fell silent, some of the life returning to her eyes:
“I love you, Luna. Even if you are just a big-titted bully.”
“You need some bullies in your corner and you know it. I love you, too.”

Victor finished signing all the necessary papers to resell the theater and was actively trying to think of anything but Nike’s relieved face when she realizes her precious David is safe.
It was Friday, he hasn’t slept a second, driving around Loveland almost all night, resisting the urge to open two or maybe even three bottles of that fine red wine he had and get hammered like a true lovestruck idiot.

She would have loved that wine. French. Old. Cedar and black plum delicately integrated.
He sighed, loosening his tie as he paced toward the coffee shop. He was driving around again and decided he needed some caffeine in his system and was too moody to go to his usual place for fear of the baristas, who knew him as he was a regular, asking him if he’s alright.

He was fine. Just fine. His stomach was in knots and he couldn’t stop his hands and feet from tapping around like a madman but he was fine.

The place was bustling and Victor considered turning around and finding a quieter place but the aroma of coffee made him change his mind.
So he made his order and took a seat, pulling out his phone and trying to focus on some important numbers. Work would not wait for him just because he was miserable.

The staff at this place was obviously a well-oiled machine because his name was called out pretty fast and he deliberately ignored several glances he noticed following him as he picked it up.

The coffee was good. Not as good as at his usual place, but if he didn’t know about it, he’d say the coffee here was excellent.
He kept scrolling through the data, face focused even if he had no idea what he was reading when he heard the sound of a throat being cleared next to him, someone’s shadow falling on his table.
Victor slowly raised his moody gaze, ready to bark at anyone who dared disturb him when he saw who it was, his mouth shifting to a scowl immediately.

David was staring him down, entirely unperturbed, cold determination in his gaze, arms crossed on his chest:
“I know the coffee here is good, but seriously, dude?”
Victor was just opening his mouth to send him to nine hells and beyond when David plopped onto the chair across from him:
“I’d rather have my nails ripped out than have this conversation, but here we are.”
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
“I should ask you the same thing.” David shot back and Victor thought how he never expected him to be brave enough to face him. Yet, here he was, sitting at his table… did he come here to rub it in his face now that he most likely had Nike back?!

“Is it true that you’re selling the theater?”
David asked him, all business.
“Go away.”
“Listen, we can do this the easy way or we can go outside. Is it true?”
“Are you threatening me?”
“Oh, you think it’s unwarranted that a part of me wants to beat you up? After the kind of shit you pulled?”

Victor put his cup aside and affixed his unwavering gaze on David, mildly irritated when he didn’t see him squirm under it:
“You’ve got yourself to thank for that.”
“Myself?! Do you just go around buying the workplaces of anybody who dared date someone you’re drooling over?”

Victor’s eyes flashed in warning:
“Only if they raise a hand at them. And you call yourself a man.”

David seemed shocked at that but Victor’s eyes narrowed:
“Do not play dumb. You hurt her. I saw the bruises.”
“What bruises, what are you talking about?!”
“On her arms. From how you squeezed her.”

David’s head jerked, taken aback. His lip quivered and he ran a hand through his hair:
“Shit.” He muttered guiltily before he frowned at Victor:
“You think I meant to do that?”
“Doesn’t matter. You did it.”
“So, a proper response is to buy my workplace and ruin my life?”
“Had you dared lay a finger on her again, yes.”

They sat in silence for a while before Victor raised an eyebrow. He wanted to end this conversation but he would be damned if he was the one walking out of it.
“Anything else or will you let me drink my coffee in peace?”

David’s foot started tapping a nervous rhythm under the table and Victor’s irritation was surging by the minute:
“Why are you even here?”
“I don’t see how where I have my coffee is any of your business.”
“Are you really that dense?! I don’t mean the coffee shop, although I would be grateful if you didn’t show your snobby nose in here anymore, this is my chill zone. I mean why are you not fixing what you screwed up?”

Victor gave him the coldest chuckle he could muster:
“Fine, brat. I DID sell the theater. Happy? Now LEAVE.”

David smacked the desk, his voice nearly a snarl as he leaned into Victor:
“Listen up. I’m done acting 14 and you should follow my example here. Last night, I had to watch the woman I love cry her eyes out over someone who hurt her and I could do nothing to help her!”

Victor felt those words like a knife to his chest. So, she did go to him. Immediately. He suspected as much but having it confirmed still hurt.

“I’m sure she’ll forgive you.” He remarked bitterly.
“She already did. Because that’s Nike, too good for her own good. Honestly, she’s too good for either of us dumbasses.”
“You came here to rub it in my face?” The image of someone else, anyone else, comforting Nike made Victor grit his teeth. And he had nobody to blame but himself.
“Rub what in your face?!”

Victor shook his head:
“Forget it. Are we done?”
“NO, we are not done! I am trying to do the right thing here! Will you drop the tsundere act and pay attention?! I LOVE this woman. Yes, I kind of want to fucking kill you but it’s mostly because you made her miserable. I blamed you for everything for the longest time and make no mistake, I still very much do not like you. But she does.”

Victor’s eyes widened the tiniest bit, head swarming. What was he trying to tell him?
David took a deep breath, scratching his head nervously:
“I am trying to tell you that I’d rather never see her again than know she’s unhappy. And she’s unhappy because of you. Fuck, I am giving you advice on how to reconcile with… Look, I am doing this for her and also because I don’t want to feel like a piece of shit for the rest of my life. I’ve wronged her too much already.”

He finally stood up, Victor’s gaze following him intently:
“She loves you, idiot. Don’t be like me and take it for granted. Now we’re done.”
He walked away without a second glance and left the coffee shop.
Victor rarely regretted something he said, but at that moment he wished to take back telling David that he had no right to call himself a man.

Luna was fully prepared to cancel her date with Gavin in order to stay with Nike on Saturday, but she would have none of it, telling her how that wouldn’t be fair and how she’d be fine.
She argued for a while but finally heeded Nike’s wish and so now she was checking her place for the 10th time, straightening sofa cushions and picture frames like a crazy person.

She gave Gavin her address and he promised he’d be there at 8. It was now quarter to 8 and Luna was grinning with sweet anticipation. Would Gavin have the balls to hug her while they’re watching the movie? She hoped so, although she wouldn’t object even if he did way more than hug her.
She had already prepared the snacks and was staring at the slightly out of line fringe on the sides of her rug, contemplating whether she should comb it through before snapping out of that train of thought.

Since when did she stress over a date this much? And since when did guys pay attention to the fringe on the rug?! Or matching bowls and glasses she pulled out and polished.
She checked her reflection in the mirror, thinking she did a pretty good job of choosing clothes that seemed plausible as loungewear but still cute. What was it with the unspoken rule of dating where you try too hard but wish to look like you didn’t try at all? Why wasn’t it okay to try too hard and have it show?
It should be a compliment, someone going through some trouble to show you they liked you, to show you that your approval mattered to them.

That was part of the reason that she could sympathize with Victor in this whole shitstorm. What he did wasn’t tactful and he could have done it more smoothly, but that boy TRIED. She had her doubts about him initially and even though she was certain Nike had A point in thinking he acted kinda scary, she now had confidence in him. He just needed to communicate better. It was true that actions spoke louder than words, but that didn’t mean words weren’t necessary. Especially with her dumb friend.
Luna loved Nike to death, but she would be first to admit Nike had her moments. Luna could understand her reasons, but not why she hadn’t shaken them off yet… she had every reason to be at least a little more confident, a little more optimistic.

She giggled to herself. She really hoped she wouldn’t have to find Victor and drag him to Nike. It wouldn’t be very nice if the first time they met was with her twisting his ear… or arm.

Logging into her favorite mobile game just to get the daily rewards, Luna killed a few minutes. Quarter past 8… Gavin was late. Knowing her phone would have vibrated if she had a text, she checked anyway.
A gust of strong wind shook her window and she jumped, startled.
Where did that come from?! She looked outside. Was there a storm approaching? Nope… all the tree crowns were more or less still and she could see the moon. So what WAS that?

She had no time to wrack her brain over it as she heard the doorbell.
She opened the door to reveal a slightly out-of-breath Gavin who seemed to be followed by a fresh scent Luna could only describe as… breezy? Outdoors-y?

“Sorry I’m late. I got held up at work and had to stop by at mine to take a shower.”

Gavin handed her a bottle of wine that was freezing cold. Just like his hand as it brushed against hers.

“It’s okay. You didn’t have to rush on my account.” She smiled and Gavin fixed his windswept hair. It looked like he rode a motorcycle without a helmet. Bad cop.
“Well, we DID say 8 and it’s nearly half-past. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t worry about it! By the way, on your way here, did you see something… I don’t know, fly? Or crash?”

Gavin tensed at that:
“What do you mean?”
“Well, just before you arrived, there was like a… very violent gust of wind. You didn’t see anything?”
“No.” came his clipped reply.
He removed his windbreaker and shoes and followed her into the apartment. Luna shook her head absent-mindedly. Maybe it wasn’t that strong of a wind and she was just caught off guard, lost in thought.

“I like your place.” Said Gavin and Luna grinned at him:
“Mi casa es tu casa, muchacho! You hungry? I prepared some snacks, but if you skipped dinner, I can whip something up quickly.”
“Nah, I grabbed a bite on my way.” Gavin waved his hand as he plopped down on the sofa, immediately chuckling in that cute way that made Luna almost blush:
“But thank you. That’s very sweet.”

Scratch that “almost”. She blushed. How could he be so boyishly awkward and smooth at the same time?

“Well, then… do you want coffee? Tea? Soda? Want me to open this wine?”
“I’m fine with anything. Whatever you want.” He tilted his head, brushing his hair down some more. She noticed a cool bracelet around his wrist. The shirt he was wearing hugged his body just perfectly, not too tight but pulled taut in all the right places when he’d lift his arm. She wanted to feel his pecs.
And if he kept giving the perfect answer to every question she asked, Luna couldn’t guarantee she wouldn’t try to.

She paced to the kitchen area, opening a drawer to find her corkscrew. The wine Gavin brought was not exactly the “chill at home with a movie” type of wine, it was honestly almost wasted without some juicy ribs or steak to accompany it, but that didn’t matter. He was sweet to bring anything.

Gavin stood up:
“You want me to open it?”

Another unspoken rule of dating. Let the guy be the gentleman. Luna nearly giggled, thankful she wasn’t Nike. She could almost hear her “I can do it myself!”. Unlike her, Luna welcomed chivalry.
So she gave Gavin the corkscrew and observed him open the bottle with ease and efficiency.

Did she have any unopened jars in her pantry? The muscles in his arms looked so alluring when he… alright, that was enough. There’s more to Gavin than good looks!

She prepared the glasses and Gavin poured the wine. Luna’s trained eye noticed he poured more than he technically should have and his pour lacked finesse but that was what made it cute.

They settled on the sofa and Gavin gave her a smile:
“So, what are we watching?”

Luna originally wanted to choose some sexy movie, hoping to either see Gavin flustered or maybe even set the mood. But now that he was in her living room, looking like he belonged there, with his cute bangs and breezy scent and big, most assuredly warm frame, her plan crumbled:
“I haven’t decided. I wanted us to pick together.”
“You could’ve chosen the first one. We do have all night… Uhm, I mean, you know… we can watch several movies. Like you said. Unless you changed your mind.”

Could he BE any more adorable? He says something so flirty and then gets flustered…

“I haven’t changed my mind. I’m keeping you until morning.”

She reveled in his blush and gulp, Adam’s apple bobbing:

“Uhm… sure. Keep me however long you wish.”
“Don’t say that so lightly. I might keep you indefinitely.” She smirked and Gavin seemed to freeze for a second, before he briefly leaned in and placed a peck on her cheek, his own face now burning as he looked to the side and cleared his throat:
“I didn’t say it lightly.” His face was stoic. Luna brushed her fingers against his on the sofa:
“Good. I’m keeping you, then.” She bumped her forehead against his shoulder lightly and Gavin turned to look at her, his amber eyes warm and big enough to get lost in them.

She decided to help him as he seemed stuck and shortened the distance between their faces halfway. He gulped again before he covered the other half, slightly chapped lips softly brushing against hers.
Luna snaked her fingers between his and his now warm hand gave her own a gentle squeeze as he pecked on her lips tentatively. He smelled so fresh, so… free.
She parted her lips, inviting him to deepen the kiss and he took the invitation with the softness, almost hesitation she expected, his tongue slowly inching to brush against hers.
Her other hand rested atop his knee and he gasped into the kiss, his hand covering hers before it ran up and down her forearm gently. His hands were slightly calloused but Luna found herself enjoying it as their kiss deepened. Their noses brushed awkwardly as they sought the perfect angle and she giggled.

That seemed to spur Gavin on, as his hand from her arm went up to cup her face, fingers entwining in her hair, pulling her closer.
Her heart was thumping loudly, ecstatic over how his demeanor spilled even into his kiss. He was bold yet awkward, smooth yet shy… she loved it.

They pulled apart when the need for air overpowered their desire to keep kissing and Gavin’s thumb was gently rubbing circles on her cheek. He was smiling with those beautiful eyes and Luna knew she was already head over heels.

“The movie?” He whispered, mouth twitching into a wider grin, eyes narrowing.
“You’re more interesting.”
“I was hoping you’d say that.”

This time, he needed no assistance, he kissed her all by himself.

Chapter Text

Nike had cleaned her apartment from top to bottom that Saturday, forcing herself to keep busy so she wouldn’t vegetate and listen to sad songs all day.
She was in the middle of her closet purge (why did she still own three of her past Halloween costumes?) when she heard her phone. Her heart immediately lurched to her stomach.

It couldn’t be Victor, could it?
She so wanted him to call, but at the same time, she dreaded it. What would she even tell him? What would he tell her?

She had turned her mobile phone off because of this, but she couldn’t bring herself to plug off her landline as well. She told herself it was because Luna or her family might need her urgently, but deep down she knew it was because she still hoped Victor would call.

Or maybe just appear at her door. She’d grab him by his tie and pull him inside and kiss him and everything would be alright… Stupid. Life didn’t work that way.

She picked up only to feel the guilt-inducing mixture of relief and disappointment upon her sister’s voice greeting her:

“Hello, stranger.” She teased and Nike snorted. Rhea was 3 years her senior, just enough for all the teachers at school to compare the two of them and just enough for Nike to always be able to see her at school, surrounded by her friends when Nike had none.
It was not Rhea’s fault and she would always defend her sister if she knew someone was bothering her but the problem was that Nike tried to make sure she didn’t know about most of it.

Rhea was not an awkward, freckly, skinny ginger. She had their mother’s dark hair and features, while Nike looked more like their father, plus a load of freckles. Rhea was also naturally more confident than Nike, more feminine, less geeky and Nike had tried to take a page out of her book, but to no avail. It seemed her destiny was to remain weird.

“Hey, Rhea. What’s up?”

“What is up is that my little sister disappeared and I’m trying to find her. Have you seen her? She’s this adorable redhead princess who needs to come to see her little niece more often! Last time I’ve seen her, she was held hostage by a big, mean dragon who never gave her days off! But I heard she managed a daring escape, so I’m wondering why she ain’t here yet!”

Nike just sighed, not having the heart to tell Rhea how she missed her big, mean dragon. She never even told her they were dating in the first place:

“I can come tomorrow if you’d like?”
She really did want to see her niece. Besides, it might be good to spend time with people instead of scrub the varnish off of all her furniture if she keeps cleaning.

From the background, she heard the cheery, deep voice of her brother in law:
“You talkin’ to Little Nicky? Lemme say hello!”
Nike loved her brother in law. Rhea and Michael were high school sweethearts, an exemplary romance. Nike was happy proms were not a thing in this part of the world, or Rhea and Michael would have been prom queen and king, which would just mean more comparisons and teasing for her.  

One of the prettiest girls at school and the adorable, popular jock. Michael was now an electronics engineer while Rhea fulfilled her childhood dream to become a photographer.

Michael always acted in a brotherly fashion to Nike and that included a bunch of teasing and small pranks. He had been calling her Little Nicky for ages now even though Rhea was always admonishing him for it, it being the titular character of an Adam Sandler movie, Nike didn’t truly mind.

“Nickyyyyyy! Do you not love us anymore?!” Michael rumbled, trying to sound pitiful and Nike chuckled despite herself:
“I never loved y’all in the first place!”
“I knew it! I just knew it! I’ve been telling Rhea you only come visit for my cooking!”

Michael couldn’t even boil an egg properly. Nike rolled her eyes, still chuckling:
“Yeah, it’s the new fad diet: Antitalent Brother In Law! Guaranteed to make you lose weight!”
“I’m glad to be of help, but if you lose any more weight, the wind might blow you away! Seriously, when are you visiting? Rhea will be cooking, okay?”

Nike heard her sister in the background:
“Oh, no, I won’t be! You’re going to order delivery! And let me talk to my sister, you big yenta!”
She took the phone back and Nike heard her shooing him away. They were probably the most adorable couple she knew.

“So, you’re coming tomorrow?”

“I still don’t believe it,” Nike told Luna over the phone as she was walking from the train station to Rhea’s house.
“You, having a guy at your place and no sex happens?”

Luna laughed almost apologetically:
“Well, what can I say, this one is too cute!”
“Too cute for sex?”
“You know what I mean! I actually like him… I think I want a relationship with him.”

Nike beamed:
“Really? Oh, Luna, that’s amazing! Okay, you will have to tell me EVERYTHING tonight when I get home, okay?”
“How are you feeling?”

“Empty, but I’m still standing. It will be alright.”
“Did he call?”
“Will you call or text him?”
“Probably not.”

Luna grunted in annoyance:
“Why not? You’d rather be miserable?”
“Luna, he’ll just tell me to go to hell.”
“He won’t. And even if he does, at least you will know! Right now, you can just eat yourself alive not knowing and feeling bad.”

Nike sighed. Luna was right and she needed to get over her fear and just call Victor. If anything, maybe she could at least apologize before he tells her never to contact him again.


Rhea and Michael were still renting, saving money to get their own house. They lived in the suburbs and Nike always thought their neighborhood was great, everybody seemed to know one another and people would stop and talk on the street, not just ignore each other, even if they were neighbors, like most people in the city did.

Her brother in law opened the door when she rang.
Michael looked pretty much like what one would expect a popular high school jock to look like. Sandy blonde, always kind of messy hair, a big smile with dimples on his cheeks and a burly, tall frame.

“Bear hug!” He announced, grabbing Nike and rubbing at the top of her head, just like an older brother.
She mock-squealed and pretended to squirm. This was their ritual, Michael never rubbed hard enough for it to actually be painful but she would always pretend she hated it.

Rhea emerged from the living room, baby in her arms. Penelope was the cutest baby Nike has ever seen and that was not because she was her niece, she told herself.
She was nearly 6 months old and her curly blonde hair had gotten longer since the last time Nike had seen her.

She was babbling, pointing at Nike with a big smile on her face and Rhea let her younger sister hold her before giving her a kiss on the cheek.
Penelope, or Penny, as Michael already popularized, grabbed a fistful of Nike’s hair and started playing with it, tugging and chewing, making her laugh as she cooed at her niece.

They all walked to the living room and Rhea looked at her sister bouncing the baby on her lap, muttering gibberish words.
She was curious to see Nike now that she had a new, less stressful job. She hoped it would make her happier and if this were anyone other than her, or their mother, they would have been fooled. But Rhea saw the dark circles around her sister’s eyes and the way her foot tapped an erratic rhythm on the floor, seemingly having a mind of its own even as she was engrossed in playing with Penny.

“How have you guys been lately?”
Nike asked, Penny now calm in her lap, enjoying the cuddles.

Michael’s grin widened:
“Well, I got promoted, did Rhea tell you?”
“No! Really? And such good timing!”
“Yes, they actually transferred me, but the new place is closer. However, I will have to take some business trips 3 to 4 times a year. You know how you want to just mess with fun stuff and give people a reason to ask “What does this button do?” but then they make you do the boring corporate rectal alpinism?”

Nike barked out a laugh, but Rhea looked at her husband:
“I’m sure nobody could fit you in their ass, Mike.”

Nike now laughed more sincerely:
“That sounded VERY wrong, sis.”

Michael appeared offended:
“Are you calling me fat or provoking me to say something ungentlemanly in front of the children?”
“Hey!” Nike protested. Michael always teased her that she’s a child, but grouping her with a baby of 6 months? That was new, even for him.

“I wasn’t calling you fat, but now that you mentioned it…” Rhea grinned and Michael stood up:
“I don’t have to stand for this! This is abuse!” He joked and both women laughed, which caused Penny to laugh as well, even though she had no clue what they were talking about.

“Oh come on, Penny, you’re joining in?” Michael now whined: “I feel outnumbered. Betrayed by my own daughter… such is the life of the lone man in a household…”
He took Penny from Nike:
“Let’s go, Penny… these two are grown witches, but there is still time to get you on my side!”

Rhea had already grabbed a cushion to throw at him but she now narrowed her eyes:
“You are using our daughter as a shield, aren’t you?”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about, it’s time for her nap.”

His innocent voice wasn’t fooling anyone and Rhea just gave him a nod:
“Mhmm. Well, the witch can always get you later.”
“We better hurry, Penny, Daddy doesn’t have much time left on this Earth.”

As he took Penny out of the room, she babbled at him and he nodded in mock sadness:
“Yes, yes, that’s right, Penny, I feel you… Mommy’s mean.”

They left and Nike was still laughing, Rhea putting the cushion away and shaking her head amicably:
“That goofball.”

As soon as Michael’s footsteps could no longer be heard, Rhea decided to grill her sister a little. She was silently grateful to Mike because she knew he did all this to give them some time alone. Even if he didn’t notice Nike didn’t look good, he probably just wanted to let them catch up, she still thought that was very nice of him.

“So… how’s work?” Rhea started. Nike seemed to realize where this was going but tried to play it cool, crossing her legs:
“Great. I love it. Mrs. Whitman is a great boss.”
“Well, I imagine anyone would be an upgrade from that tyrant you used to work for.”

Nike’s mouth tightened and she nodded slowly, suddenly very interested in fluffing up some cushions next to her, grabbing one to put on her lap and place her elbows on it:

Rhea’s eyes narrowed until they were almost two slits on her face:
“Nike, what’s wrong? You look like a hungover insomniac. You weren’t like this last time I saw you. Did something happen?”

“No, I just didn’t sleep well last night.” Nike’s tone was cheery, but Rhea knew it was fake:
“Why? And stop lying. You know you suck at it or I would have been able to sneak out and go to that Paramore concert back in 2008!”
“You will never let me live that down, will you?”
“I swear never to mention it again if you tell me what’s wrong now. Honestly.”

Nike ran a palm over her face, chuckling bitterly before she tightened her jaw:
“You’re givin’ me an offer I cannot refushe.”
“That was the worst Marlon Brando impression I’ve ever heard.”

Nike rolled her eyes, still rubbing at her browbone:
“I did something stupid.”
Rhea let her continue silently and Nike pulled her knees up, hugging them, chin on the cushion:
“I don’t even know how to tell you this, you’ll think I’m crazy.”
“Try me.”
“Well… I started dating that big, mean, dragon tyrant.”

Rhea just snorted:
“Took you long enough.”

Nike’s eyes widened until they looked like they’d pop out of her skull:

Rhea laughed:
“I always suspected the two of you would end up dating.”
“What?! HOW?! Even I never…”
“Yeah, of course, you never thought about it, you are kind of dumb when it comes to these matters.”
“Oh, come on, remember Josh?”

Josh was a boy from their high school, he was in some of Nike’s electives with her and Michael’s soccer teammate.

“Josh always asked for your help with homework, offered to walk you home, invited you to watch his games… and you came to me and Michael to ask us to tell him to stop!”
“Well… he was… I thought he was just messing with me.”
“No, dumbass, he actually had a huge crush on you!”
“Yeah, I know that NOW.”
“Well, obviously, you always know in hindsight, because you never once stopped to think about how nobody, and I mean NOBODY, needs their secretary for THAT much overtime? You never once thought to check if everyone’s bonuses were as high as yours? You never stopped to think that most bosses would not sacrifice their own spare time to teach their assistant stuff that wasn’t even in their job description? How there was no way that he actually needed you at informal mingles?”

Nike’s ears turned red. Did everyone know except her?! Rhea went on:
“You complained, sure. But when I’d try to cheer you up by making jokes about the man, you defended him!”
“When did I ever defend him?”
“I can’t recall every single example, but you’d basically bash him, but if I did it with you, suddenly, he didn’t have a stick up his ass anymore, he was just devoted and hardworking. He wasn’t a cruel asshole, he was just stricter than most. That kind of thing. That was when I knew you actually like him. And are probably subconsciously aware he likes you, too. Then, you and David broke up and honestly, I was just waiting for you to tell me you finally started actually touching your boyfriend of one year.” She concluded, chuckling.

Nike just stared at the window stubbornly, pursing her lips:
“Well, it doesn’t matter now, because we broke up, anyway.”

Rhea frowned:
“What did you do?”
“Why do you assume it was me?!”
“Because I know you. Am I wrong?”
Nike pouted:
“Only partly.”

She proceeded to tell Rhea everything, missing how Michael snuck by the room and went outside when he noticed they’re having a sister moment. They needed milk and toilet paper, anyway.

Rhea listened to the story in silence, only nodding periodically and when Nike finally finished, tears in her eyes, she sat next to her on the other sofa, rubbing her back and hugging her:

“Okay, okay, it’s not irreparable. Although you might want to refrain from giving out F diagnoses so liberally, people don’t usually like that.”
“Rhea…” Nike sniffled in admonishment and Rhea kissed the top of her head:
“Shh… listen. Do you really like this guy?”
“Do you like him enough to take a good look at yourself and recognize there are some bad habits you need to curb if you want that relationship to work?”
“But he…”
“We’re not talking about him at the moment.”
Rhea’s tone was loving but firm:
“He has his own stuff to work through, sure. But right now, I’m talking about you. You need to finally let go of the things that taught you to always be defensive and lash out. We’re not in junior high anymore, Nike. Even if the two of you never make up and it’s really over, you really need to stop that, it will only harm you. Can you understand that?”

Nike just nodded, sniffling and Rhea went on:
“He might have made a mistake, I can see that. Now, you need to ask yourself if you can forgive him. And I mean truly forgive him, not just patch things up only for it to resurface every time the two of you have a rough patch in the future. If the answer is no, don’t even bother calling him. But if the answer is yes, then instead of talking to me or Luna or whatever, you need to talk to him. I am a very smart woman, and so is Luna, but we cannot tell you what he’s thinking. Only he can do that.
And when he does, you need to restrain that first instinct you always have, where you always assume everyone is coming for you and everyone is secretly evil and specifically so against you, only doing nice things as part of some long con to hurt you. I really don’t think he’d have been doing everything he has been doing if he was a shitty man.”

Nike cleared her throat awkwardly, but Rhea wasn’t done yet:
“Look, I always knew your relationship with David wasn’t the real deal. The two of you never really communicated because on the surface, you got along splendidly. Some parts of your personalities just meshed really well and there were never big things to butt heads over, there was never a challenge that would force both of you to sacrifice some of your pride for the sake of your love. Even if there was, I knew neither of you would actually do it because it was much easier to cling to that “we work so well together because we have things in common and have fun” surface. But now…”

“Are you saying it’s better to butt heads?”
“Sometimes, only sometimes. Because you need to understand that you cannot and will not always get along or agree about everything. You won’t always have the same perspective on things. It’s good to know this early on, so, in a way, this situation you’re in now is a good thing. And now we’re going back to my earlier question. Do you really like… no, scratch that… do you, or do you think you would, LOVE this man?”

“I thought love meant people have stuff in common,” Nike grumbled. Rhea laughed:

“Yeah, that’s a crush. Sure, people need to have SOME things in common to be together, but it’s usually less than you think. Michael loves sports and tech and gizmos, I couldn’t care less. I love art and galleries and he starts yawning uncontrollably if we’re visiting one. But he goes with me sometimes, and I don’t nag if he watches his precious World Cup or whatever. However, those are easy compromises.
More difficult compromises would be me accepting who he is as a person. He always wants people to get along and gives third, fourth, fifth chances. I wouldn’t do that and I think some of his friends deserve a boot to the head, but they are his friends, they are important to him, so I respect that.
I know he jokes excessively even when it’s highly inappropriate and as much as I disagree with that, I know he’s doing it when he’s scared or nervous or doesn’t know what else to do but wants to help.
I don’t want to change these things about him, even if I sometimes might advise him or tell him he’s annoying me at the moment. He does the same to me. The point is, we are both imperfect and sometimes even opposites, but we still love each other, maybe because of it or in spite of it, I don’t know. But we make a conscious decision every single day to accept and respect everything about each other, even the things we don’t like because at the end of the day, the things we don’t like pale in comparison to the things we do like about each other. And those things we don’t like are not objectively bad and they also contribute to creating that person we love.”

Rhea let Nike mull this over for a while:
“Thank you for coming to my TED talk; that’s what Michael would say if he was giving this advice. And he’d give you pretty much the same advice.”

Nike chuckled, shaking her head. Her sister was right but it wasn’t the easiest thing to digest. Rhea poured her some more tea:
“So listen. What you need to do now is ask yourself if you can accept the entire package, along with the parts you disagree with and then make an effort to make it work. It will never be a magical fairytale romance and problems will never solve themselves. You need to make an effort every single day and be open and vulnerable. Of course, that goes for him as well. Only then will it be worth it. That is actually what people call magic. Just a shitload of effort. And chocolate. Chocolate IS actually magic. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

Nike snorted, getting lost in thought. When she finally spoke, her voice was warm:
“Thank you, Rhea. You’re the best sister in the world.”
“Of course I am, I have a mug to prove it!”

Nike had gifted her a mug that said so some years prior.
“So, I should talk to him, regardless of what I think he’d say?”
“That’s tough.”
“What have I been saying just now? Love is not easy!”
“I know, I know.”

Nike stood up and Rhea’s eyes followed her curiously:
“You’re going already?”
“Yeah. Better get it over with as soon as possible.”

Rhea chose not to comment on the typical Nike choice of words:
“You sure thought about it fast enough,” she smiled proudly instead. Nike waved her hand coyly:
“Yeah, I guess I always kinda knew but I needed someone else to tell me. Rhea, he’s… special.”
“Is he?” Rhea beamed.
“Yeah. I can’t describe it but when he does things, I feel some odd surge of warmth. At times, I feel like I am watching Animal Planet.”
“Okay, you need to explain that analogy.”

Nike laughed:
“You know when penguins make nests or bring gifts to their mates? Or when monkeys groom each other or when raccoons snuggle with cats? It’s all so… pure.”

Rhea’s grin grew even wider:
“You just called him pure and you were still dumb enough to think he’s a bully.”
“Hey! Monkeys can be bullies, too! Especially chimps!”
“I suggest you don’t compare him to a chimp. Or any other kind of monkey.”
“I won’t, don’t worry. I’m not THAT dumb.”
“Just checking.”

They hugged and Rhea kissed Nike’s head again, letting the hug last until her little sister decides to end it. When she finally did, and reluctantly so, Rhea winked:

“And wear some cute underwear.”
“When you go talk to him. You need to work on that confidence, so wear cute underwear and really believe you’ll get to show it off by the end of the evening!”
“Rhea!” Nike pretended to be mad, but her grin gave her away:
“You sometimes have terrible ideas.”
“But this is not one of them.”

Nike just stuck her tongue out instead of a reply.

Chapter Text

“Okay, Luna, talk.”

Nike was walking home from the train station, still psyching herself up to go to Victor’s place after a quick shower.

“Aren’t you coming over?”
“No. Rhea made too much sense with her Elder Sister logic. I’m going to see Victor.”

Luna squealed:
“For real?! Man, I should have called Rhea from the get go if I knew it was as easy as having her talk to you!”
“Yeah, yeah, it takes a village to raise Nike. Now, will you tell me about your date already?”

She could practically hear Luna beaming on the other side:
“Well, he was too sweet and we kissed and snuggled and then we did watch a movie but fell asleep eventually. That was it, really, we just slept and, in the morning, we ate breakfast and then he left. We’re having another date on Tuesday, though.”
“God, that’s so cute. I never expected that from you.”
“I never expected it from myself, either. I have a great feeling about him. You know what, in a couple of weeks, what do you say about a double date?”
“Luna, I haven’t even gone to see Victor yet.”
“Oh, but come on, we both know it’s gonna be fine!”
“Fingers crossed.”

Nike did her best not to stall as she stood in the shower and later, as she opened her closet to get dressed. It was already almost 7 p.m. and she knew that no matter how much she rehearses what she wishes to say, once she actually gets face to face with Victor, she will forget it. She knew she wanted to apologize but… all the other thoughts swarming in her mind were impossible to organize into a cohesive whole. She pulled out a red sweater, pulling it over her head hastily before she remembered her sister’s underwear advice.
She thought it was kinda dumb. She was used to contingency plans but it was always a negative outcome one would plan for, not a positive one. Besides, if it fell through…

No! Rhea was right. She should break away from that train of thought. Everything would be alright.
So she took the sweater off and dug through her newly tidied underwear drawer, messing it up again, until she decided on a set. She slid it on quickly and put the sweater back on, pairing it with some black pants.
She rushed through the apartment, her socks sliding across the polished floor as she had a feeling she’s constantly forgetting something and going back. Cellphone. ID. Transit pass. Gum. Chapstick. No! Where were her keys now?! Why did she move those shoes all the way to the back of her cabinet?

And why was she more nervous now than before any job interview or exam she ever had?
She finally put on her shoes and jacket, bag safely zipped with all her dumb stuff inside. All set.

Victor silently apologized to all the forests of the world as he crumpled another paper and tossed it in the bin. It was a bad idea. Writing a letter, like they were in a classic novel!
He contemplated sending her roses, but roses could include a small card and what would he write on a card? There’s no way he could express what he wanted to say on a tiny card!

But then again, all these big papers were too much space. He didn’t know what to say.

I’m sorry. I love you. I shouldn’t have done what I did.

Although none of that would be a lie, it still felt lame. Like it was not enough. But what else to say, how to explain and how to make it all better?
Victor was taught that dwelling on the problem was not fixing the problem.
He had the urge to fix it but this time, fixing the problem required words.

She was so angry… she didn’t even let him explain. Although he knew she had the right to be angry over him keeping things from her… she still seemed to consider him heartless deep down.
He gritted his teeth, knowing it was mostly his fault for being so terrible with words.

Victor never felt desperate in a relationship before. With any of his previous girlfriends, things would go relatively smoothly until they wouldn’t anymore and then they’d break up. He never loved any of them except maybe Amelia and back then, something similar happened.

Amelia told him she didn’t want to keep guessing how he felt. She told him he made himself distant and difficult to love.
He was difficult to love. Those words hurt. He never did anything to deliberately hurt any girlfriend. He never cheated on them, he tried to spend as much time with them as possible, he never forgot important dates, he kept his promises… and yet, they all seemed to feel he was not doing enough.

Victor knew they were probably right. He knew it was normal to verbally express one’s feelings but his deeply ingrained upbringing would stop him every time.
He was supposed to be a man and men were proactive, men showed rather than said. Men didn’t expect their girlfriend or wife to coddle them, men didn’t whine, men didn’t cry, men didn’t complain.

At least that’s what his father believed.
But then again, his relationship with Victor’s mother resembled a partnership more than a romance.
They got along well, they were always nice to each other, they conversed well enough at dinners and day-to-day affairs, but Victor couldn’t remember if he ever saw them kiss or express affection the way his classmates’ parents did or the way the couples on TV did or the way he later saw when he grew up and his friends had girlfriends or wives.

It could have been worse, he thought. They could have argued, fought, despised each other, or gotten divorced. What they had was good, Victor always told himself.

But he didn’t want good.
His father had a saying he liked to repeat during Victor’s childhood, whenever the boy would struggle with a new task and make his first, unsteady steps in acquiring a new skill.

“It’s okay to fail, but it’s not okay to settle.”

Victor always liked that saying, it was the encouragement he needed to learn so many things.
Yet, now, he wondered why his father didn’t heed his own advice, because to him, it looked like what he did with his marriage was settling.

He realized he didn’t want to be in a relationship where he would merely feel fine. He wanted to rush home to his wife every day, he wanted to smother her with affection, he wanted to be one half of those adorable elderly couples he’d sometimes see on the street, walking hand-in-hand and still gazing into each other’s eyes with the same warmth they did during their puppy love phase.

He didn’t want his entire life to be meticulous work and a decent personal life nobody could disapprove of; just because that was expected of him. Formulaic, have a pretty, well-mannered, socialite wife, a good, smart kid and a mansion. The façade perfect, and on the inside? Bland and grey.

He figured that was why he initially fell in love with Nike.
Nike was most definitely not from that world. Nike was vibrant and very obviously imperfect but she was so cheerful and open.
He remembered his business trip to Turkey a few years ago. During a negotiation, which was done so informally, in such a friendly fashion that he was still surprised; he was offered coffee.
He accepted, as any help against jet lag was much appreciated and then he was served a kind of coffee he had never tried before. It came on a decorative metal tray, in a little copper pot, carved and adorned like a masterpiece, only to be poured into small, colorful cups. The aroma filled the room until it all felt warm and there was some foam on top of the beverage.

When he finally took a sip, he realized this coffee was not filtered. You would get the full flavor, which was stronger and richer than what he was used to and when you finished drinking it, there was coffee residue on the bottom of your cup, like a testament to the reality of the experience.
It woke him up better than espresso and the aroma lingered in the room long after.

Nike was like that coffee, he realized. Unfiltered, aromatic, impactful even if she came in the smallest of cups, the handle of which was almost too small for his hand.

He often ordered that coffee online, experimenting with various brands until he found the one he liked. He didn’t drink it often, always considering it a special experience, but now he wondered why not.
Why wasn’t he enjoying what he liked every chance he got?

Why did he relegate that amazing coffee to a “once in a blue moon” experience, like it was a reward and he didn’t deserve it all the time?

Why was he about to do the same with Nike?

Yes, that coffee was strong and heavy but it was WORTH it. So was Nike. If he had to make compromises, if he had to change the way he behaved, if ALL he had to do was TALK… how small of a “sacrifice” was that compared to everything she was and everything she brought to his life?

Victor laughed more with her than he did with anyone else. He felt more at ease with her than with anyone else. It was difficult for him to allow himself to feel that way, but he felt like it was okay to be imperfect. She seemed to welcome the things about him that were quirky or odd. She felt the closest when he would allow himself to be soft and open with her.
So why wouldn’t he be? Because that was not what he was TAUGHT he should be?

Screw that. He was not his father and he didn’t want to be his father. He wanted to be the kind of man a vibrant woman would love. He wanted passion.

Victor stood up from his desk, leaving the mess of papers behind as he nearly ran through the penthouse. His hair was a mess. So what? He didn’t stop to consider if he was color-coordinated as he grabbed his jacket, either.

He even forgot his car keys and had to run back, chuckling to himself. Idiot.

Nike swung her door open only to yelp in surprise as she saw Victor, his hand hovering on the doorbell.
Her heart raced as she looked up into his eyes. His hair was a little messy and he looked like some Hollywood actor, leather jacket over a white button-down shirt.

He seemed surprised that she opened the door before he rang, too, his eyes wide as he gulped.
For a while, they just stood there, staring at each other before she held out her hand, stopping it just shy of touching him and gesturing for him to come in instead, stepping aside.

“Hello.” He finally said, awkwardly as she closed the door. His gaze flitted between her shoes, jacket, and purse and he seemed like he wanted to say something, shifting his weight:
“Bad time?”

Nike was still processing the fact that he was here, staring at him like he wasn’t real, her reactions slow as she finally shook her head, a shy smile creeping on her lips:
“You beat me to it.”
“To what?”
“I was just about to go to your place.” She mumbled, averting her gaze and Victor cleared his throat:
“I see.”

A beat. They said beginnings were always the most difficult part.
The clock on the wall was the only sound, its unwavering rhythm almost mercilessly reminding them that it will not wait and even to Victor, it sounded like something he couldn’t change. Not truly.
No matter what he did or how long he might stop it, time would continue and time didn’t take hostages.

Time was never right, either. There never would be the right time, the perfect time. Any moment was like any other in its bare nature. It was what you did with it that changed it.

“I’m sorry.”
“I’m sorry.”

They stammered at the same time and locked eyes in a near panic. He could see her chest heaving, she was blinking fast as a crooked, anxious smile broke her features:

“You first.”
Victor didn’t dare move. If he moved, he’d have just closed the distance between them and kissed her but that would have been an easy way out. He needed to tell her things.

“I’m sorry I bought the theater. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about it. Goldman should have everything finalized this coming week, I sold it.”

Nike nodded, giving small, nervous sniffles he already knew was her habit when she was scared.
Victor knew he should say more:

“I just wanted to protect you… guess I chose the wrong way to go about it. I shouldn’t have done it.”

Nike finally opened her mouth, her eyes searching his face as she spoke quietly:
“Why did you do it like that, though? Why not some other way?”

This time, there was no accusation in that question, just curiosity and Victor sighed:
“I thought this way was sure to work.” He gritted his teeth in embarrassment:
“A display of power, maybe. I thought to show it would be enough, so I never have to actually use it.”

Nike nodded, giving another small sniffle:
“I see. I can understand that.”
Victor’s brows arched and she continued sheepishly:
“Does not mean I necessarily think it’s the best way, but I can understand. I don’t know what I would have done if I were you in that situation.”
“You’d have let it go.”
“Probably. Is that a bad thing?” Nike blinked, her voice sad.

Victor’s head tilted affectionately:
“No. That’s who you are. You forgive people.”
“What about you?” Another sniffle.
“I should learn how to do that.”

Nike’s foot moved forward a tiny bit before she reined it in and something in Victor twitched in hope:
“I’m sorry, too, Victor. I accused you without listening to you. I shouldn’t have done that. Even if you’ve made a mistake, I should have given you a chance to explain.”

“I was a hypocrite.” Victor’s jaw tightened: “I hid things from you while demanding you tell me everything.”
“Why? Why didn’t you tell me?”

Victor chuckled bitterly:
“Because I had a feeling you’d run away as fast as you can.”
That made Nike blush. In a way, she did.
“I was shocked, Victor. It hurt to hear it from someone else, too. To see it in magazines… when you could have just… I don’t even know. I was just taken by surprise and I handled it poorly.”

Another beat.
Victor still didn’t know what this meant. What should he do now? Nike finally broke the silence:
“I love you, Victor.”

Even though he didn’t use his Evol, he couldn’t hear the clock anymore. Fuzzy, white noise in his ears condensed the entire world into her wet eyes as her brows gathered, lips stretching into a sad smile:

“I love you even when you do shocking things. There’s no need for you to worry that much… I want to stay with you. Not because of your status or because of your power or money or good looks… I didn’t fall in love with any of those things. I fell in love with the warm, sweet, soft man that’s beneath all that.”

Victor gulped, steadying his voice, eyes prickling:
“I know.”
“Nobody is going to hurt me or take me away or convince me to leave or whatever. I’m stubborn and I really want to be with you.”

Her voice trembled, pitching almost to the point of breaking and Victor stepped toward her, cupping her face:
“I know.” He blinked the prickle away from his ears:
“And I want you to stay. Please.”

She nodded, trembling fingers grabbing onto his jacket:
“I feel so bad that I hurt you. I assumed the worst even as I knew deep down it was not true.”
Her eyes locked with his:
“I promise I won’t do that again. I should believe in you.”

Victor just nodded, thumbs gently wiping the tears away from her cheeks, his heart swelling in his chest, bringing a smile to his face:
“Thank you.”
She sniffled again as more tears slid down her cheeks and he bent down, kissing them as he wrapped her into an embrace:
“Shhh. Don’t cry.”

Nike returned the embrace with more strength than Victor even thought she had as she closed her eyes, chuckling apologetically:
“Sorry. Can’t help it. I got scared I’d never see you again.”

Victor had to try and snort, still keeping his own eyes dry as best he could:
“Dummy. You thought I’d give up on you so easily?”
Nike cry-laughed as she nuzzled Victor’s chest, inhaling his scent, hands roaming on his back like she was still making sure he was real. Victor kissed the top of her head, rocking her softly:
“I often don’t know what to say. But I love you. If you doubt that or forget that… that hurts.”

Nike nodded fervently and he heard a small whine from her hiding spot as her crying intensified:
“Don’t cry.” He repeated, caressing her hair: “It also hurts when you cry.”
“I’ll stop soon… Promise.”
“I hope you don’t always cry when I tell you I love you.”

She laughed again, the sound muffled by his chest:
“Your heart is beating fast.” She remarked, pressing her ear against it and Victor shook his head:
“I got scared, too.”
Nike kissed his chest, giving him a squeeze:
“I thought you’re never scared. Superman.”
“You’re trying to set up a kryptonite joke, aren’t you?”

Nike snorted and Victor promised himself he’d tell even the dumbest joke if it meant she’d stop crying:
“Caught me.”
“Doesn’t kryptonite harm Superman?”
“I suppose so, I never actually read the comics.” She shrugged.
“But he can’t be near it?”
“Yeah, I think so.”
“There goes your joke. I’m pretty near.”
“Not near enough.” She purred and Victor’s brow arched:
“Is that so?”

“You know, I thought I would never hear from you again.”
Jennifer started, taking a sip of her lemonade. David had called her that day to invite her for some cake, saying he wants to talk to her.
“What made you call?”

David put his elbows on the table, eyes warm as he nodded:
“I wanted to thank you. You were right. Revenge doesn’t feel good.”

Jennifer grinned, a wash of relief warming her from the inside:
“I’m very happy to hear you say that.”
“I wish I had met you and heard that sooner, though. But I tried to fix what I did.”

David didn’t exactly know why he called her to tell her that. He could have called Greg. But as Jennifer smiled, he felt oddly glad to see it.

“Would it be patronizing to say I’m proud of you?”
“A little, maybe. But I deserve it.”

They sat there in silence for a while as Jennifer slowly went through her slice of matcha cheesecake.
As she gently pushed the empty plate away, she locked eyes with him again:

“Do you want to be friends?” She asked directly and David was taken aback:
“Oh?” Jennifer chuckled:
“Yeah. No funny business. We can just do stuff like this. Eat or go see a movie or play ping pong or whatever. As friends. I think we both need a friend who’s been through similar shit and who wouldn’t try to fix us or approve or disapprove. Who’d just let us rant, you know?”

David understood:
“I’d like that.” He grinned, eyes narrowing and head tilting:
“You’re a cool person, Jennifer.”
“Damn right I am. Hope you can keep up!”

They both laughed and David pulled his flannel collar up:
“How’s this? Do I look cooler?”
“A little.” She humored him and David’s brow arched:
“So, what do you want to do now, friend?”
“I want to sing karaoke. Some stupid, sappy song!”
“Celine Dion?”
“Or Bryan Adams.”
“Oh God, do you want to have fun or torture us both?”
“Okay then, what do you want to do?”
“Karaoke is fine. But we’re singing Livin’ La Vida Loca or I’m out!”
“If we also sing All-Star, I’m in!”

David laughed. All-Star was a good karaoke song, he thought. Maybe this was indeed the beginning of a beautiful friendship.