Hak knows he's in for an earful the moment he hears the first pebble hit his window.

He chews the idea of ignoring her in his brain for a moment. Long enough for Yona to find bigger rocks to throw, and for as much as he loves the idea of just saying fuck it and rolling over to go back to bed, because for as much as he adores her, she really is spoiled sometimes, he still knows she'll feel bad about unintentionally scratching the glass. He treads a fine line between teasing his sheltered best friend and tending carefully to her whims, and there's not much he can do about it, other than shaking his head and peeling back his curtains.

It's clear she's come from dinner with her father. She has her hair tied back with a bow, her wild mane of red temporarily tamed, and though there's a fire burning there in her eyes, she still looks cute in her sweater and knee-length skirt. She still looks cute, even with gravel in her hands now.

"Gramps will kill me if you chip the glass," Hak calls, pushing the window open.

"Then let me in!"

Bossy. Well, Yona is who she is. For as much as he complains, he knows he'd still never want to change her.

His response takes too long for the little heiress's liking. Yona raises the hand full of gravel again, as if it's a threat. "Let down your hair, Rapunzel!"

She's got it twisted if she thinks he's the princess in this scenario. Still, Hak tosses the old rope ladder out of his window, and though she's still wearing her good heels from dinner, Yona drops her ammunition and scales his tower.


They're an odd pair.

It's not lost on him how funny she looks sitting in his bedroom. The juxtaposition between Yona, in a cashmere sweater and diamond earrings, and the stark black of the punk band posters on his wall is almost comical, even if it really is his normal now. She is just as much a common presence in his room as he is, really, and though she looks funny surrounded by all of the dark colors — and his humble collection of records — he wouldn't want it any other way.

She narrows her eyes at him as she sits daintily, one leg crossed over the other, hands folded neatly on her knee. "You have bedhead."

"I sleep sometimes."

"You should wash your eyeliner off first."

As if she has a right to lecture him on self care. Hak snorts. "Whatever you say, your highness."

Her nose wrinkles up at that. "Hak."

He drops beside her, sleepily curling around the general shape of her. He's careful, as always, not to push the envelope and break the touch barrier — never in his bed, anyway — and looks up at her, watching her pivot to face him, long hair curling around the crook of her shoulder, brushing just below her shoulder blades. Even in the lowlight of his mood lamp, her hair still looks soft, and there's so much of it; Hak narrowly resists the urge to reach up and run his fingers through it.

What a sappy thought. It's not like she'd let him do it anyway, even if she was sweet on him. Yona chases off frizz like it's her god-given duty. She's had a strict no-touching policy on her locks since she was twelve.

"So what's got you all upset, anyway," Hak asks, instead of dwelling on the way her hair looks as though it's glowing in the purple light.

Her eyes regain their spark without a moment's pause. "Ugh!"

Not entirely an answer, but Hak knows better than to prod too deeply. Instead, he cracks his neck and pokes her knee, brow quirked.

"I just don't understand his reasoning!" Yona says, cheeks puffed, and he hates how cute he thinks she looks when she's about to throw a fit. "And it's not like he has any good reason for me not to marry Soo-Won anyway! He can't just- he can't just tell me who I can and can't marry. I don't care what he thinks, Soo-Won is- he's the perfect gentleman, and beautiful, and-"

"Actually going to school for business," Hak supplies helpfully.

"Going to school for business!" Her hands are pressed down to her lap, now, and Yona unfolds her legs just as Hak has the mindfulness to look away from that particular siren song. "Wouldn't he want me to marry someone who could potentially take over the business someday? Or someone who could help me if I chose to?"


"He's the ideal son-in-law," Yona says, very primly. Hak rolls onto his back and stares at the ceiling, ignoring the slow, gradual stabbing in his gut. "And the perfect husband! What more could he ask for?"

It's an old song and dance, but Hak's still not entirely desensitized to the bump and grind. "Why're you in a rush to get married anyway?"

"I'm seventeen!"

"You're a baby."

"I'm in LOVE," Yona gasps.

Tragically, unfortunately in love. Hak lets out a long breath and rubs at his chest, instead, where the stabbing feeling has migrated to. He knows instinctively that she has a point - Soo-Won is the ideal partner, what, with his pretty face and gentle words, and his dependability is second to none - but Yona is only seventeen, and on that basis alone, he can understand her father's hesitence.

Hak doesn't question her feelings towards Soo-Won. He only questions the timing. Ah, but Yona's always been impatient, and pushy, and bossy, and - well, he could go on, but that'd be rude of him.

"You're seventeen," he deadpans.

She huffs and swats at his shoulder. She misses, somehow, and instead her palm slaps down on his bare bicep, and she leaves a burn of goosebumps in her wake. Hak only prays she doesn't notice.

"You'll understand when you fall in love, Hak," she says, foolishly. Hak bites back his laughter, because it'd only be self-deprecating at this point. "Life is too short to wait around for what's proper, isn't it? Or what someone else has decided what's proper for me. It's my life! Shouldn't I get to decide what's right or wrong for me?"

She's preaching to the choir. Hak sits up and rolls his neck. "Ideally."

"But he won't let me!"

"There are a lot of eyes on your father, you know," Hak says slowly. "Everyone's interested in the direction he'll take the business in, and a lot of that's probably going to fall onto your shoulders. And whoever you decide to eventually marry." Or something. "He probably just wants you to go to school first and get serious about it before you just decide to elope or something."

"But that's not his choice to make!"

Classic Yona. Pure emotional response. It's not that he doesn't agree with her, because he does - of course he does, it should always be her choice who she decides to allow the privilege of marrying her - but in the end, her father had spoiled her. Spoiled her sweet, of course, but spoiled her nonetheless.

Hak supposes this is the direct effect of giving her everything she'd ever wanted as a kid. It's not unlike a temper tantrum; Yona, denied her favorite toy, comes crying to Hak, expecting a different outcome. And, well, he's not sure what he's supposed to do about it, other than hear her out and offer what she probably hopes are words of encouragement. What else are friends for?

"It's not his choice to make," he echoes, placatingly. Stands up and crosses his room to open his dresser, as Yona huffs and puffs and probably pulls on her hair. "Give it some time. Maybe seeing Soo-Won around and watching him ace his classes will convince him otherwise."

"He said absolutely not, though," Yona sighs, and he can hear his mattress creak beneath her shifting weight. "He said on no terms could I ever marry Soo-Won."

That seems a little dramatic. The top drawer of his dresser groans as he tugs it open and pulls out a pair of old sweatpants.

"Huh." Hak grabs a (black) shirt and turns to face her.

"Father said I could have anyone else." She's looking at him pleadingly now, and that knife in his chest twists, sinking directly into his heart. Yona barrels on, with eyes like burning sunsets and lashes long enough (and painted dark enough) to numb his tongue. "But I don't want anyone else! I only want him."

Yeah, doesn't he know it. Hak chucks the clothes at her instead of dwelling on his own selfish feelings. "That sounds dramatic."

"I don't understand! I could do so much worse than Soo-Won," she stresses, crushing his sweatpants in her hands. "I could…! I could date a delinquent, for all he cares, and apparently that'd be fine! A gold digger! A criminal! A… a goth!"

Does she realize whose room she's sitting in?

Hak snorts, raises a brow and leans back against his dresser, arms folded across his chest. At least this way there's distance between them, and if she inadvertently reams him with another knife through the chest, maybe he'll at least has a few more seconds to try and prepare himself for that sting. It's a delicate line he walks, the best friend but not the one. Second best. B team.

He'll get nowhere thinking like that. Yona's heart is huge, despite her rather laser-guided crush, and even if he's not her dream man, Hak still knows he means something to her. He's dependable in his own way, he thinks; otherwise, she wouldn't be here, leaning on him for comfort and advice. And that place that he takes up in her heart, one of comfort and utmost trust — well, that's special too, and it's more than Hak could ever ask for.

If she wants a big brother figure then that's the role he'll play. The shoe doesn't quite fit, but Hak's grown enough to deal with a pair of sneakers that hug a little too tight. Whatever. To ask for more would be greedy, and selfish, and above all, it'd be unthankful. He likes being allowed in her life, no matter the reason.

She trusts him. Even if she thinks being goth is worse than breaking the law.

"I guess so, huh," Hak says airily, "by that logic, even I could qualify."

"Yeah! You're the opposite of what he wants." Ow. "It's perfect."

There's a moment's pause. Long enough for Hak's brain to catch up with his mouth - and no. Oh no.

It takes Yona about a minute longer to catch on to what he'd actually said. Her eyes lit up, and god, they're like Christmas lights, the way they glow, pretty and fluorescent. But before she has the chance to suggest anything dangerous, Hak interrupts her with a firm "Hell no."

"But Hak!"

"Not on your life," he says, in his best attempt to shut down whatever hairbrained scheme she's already shoddily plotted in the minute and a half since Hak had forgotten to think before he spoke. "Think about what you're asking."

"I am!" In her passion, she throws his clothes onto the floor and stands up, and her hair bounces around her cheeks. It's cute, and he hates that he notices it even as his stomach drops in dread. She has those puppy eyes now, looking at him through those long, dark lashes of hers, and he has to make an actual effort not to melt beneath her will. "Hak," she says, taking three steps toward him, "Please, wait, listen to me-"

He doesn't need to listen to know what she wants. Yona has never needed words to convey what she wants. Not with him, anyway. The pretty princess wears her big, woeful heart on her sleeve for all to see - and it's impossible for him to not be mindful of it at any given time.

"I'm not being your fake boyfriend."

"But!" She closes the distance left between them and snatches his hands out of their firm lock around his chest and into her own tiny pair. Her skin is soft, and he clears his throat and finds his grit, latches onto it, because he can't think like that, can't get lost in her wiles. "But Hak, there's no one else I can ask-"

Ow. Again. "You say the sweetest things sometimes," he says, looking anywhere but her.

"That's!" She seems to squirm for a moment. "You know I didn't mean it like that. Please, Hak. I don't want to ask anyone else."

That almost hurts worse. If he tries hard enough, he can rearrange the words, can write his own siren's call in her summons - I don't want anyone else but you - but he's too old now, and he's been playing this game too long to put what he wants to hear in her mouth. It's too dangerous for him to search for hidden meanings and what-ifs between her lines.

"It's a bad idea," he says, instead, shortly. "It won't work."

But she pushes on, still, in that stubborn, clueless way of hers. "We won't know until we try!"

We. Hak can't think in 'we's. He can only think in her, and what she wants, and how he can help her achieve those things without throwing himself in the fire in the process. And this - this isn't just walking through fire, which he would do, given the opportunity, really. This is emotional suicide. Murder of his feelings of the highest degree. And the stubborn girl doesn't even know it, doesn't realize what she's actually asking of him.

It's easy to play pretend. He's far too good at playing pretend. What's difficult is pretending the double negative, or double positive, or whatever it is. He loves her. He can't pretend to love her when the feelings are already there. The truth will bleed through. He'll bleed through, in his stupid, stubborn possessive yearning for her, and then she'll hate him. Or he'll hate him. Or both.

"No," he says again.

Yona squeezes his hands in hers. It's a direct line to his heart. "Please?" she tries again. "For me?"

It might be her most damning blow yet. Never mind stabbing him in the chest - she might've as well reached into his ribcage herself and held his heart in her hands herself. She doesn't know, he reminds himself. She doesn't know the kind of power she has over him. Yona knows not what she does.

When he doesn't respond, she adds, "I trust you, Hak. I'll let you do anything you want."

Record scratch. Rewind.

"... Anything I want," he repeats.


He knows she doesn't mean that. Yona's talking about boundaries, about whether or not she'll be okay with him holding her hand, which. She doesn't mean that, either. He doubts she's had a risque thought about him in her life, and doesn't intend on allowing him to get away with copping a feel or kissing her, god forbid, but - but even then, they're definitely not on the same train of thought here anyway.

To have permission - express permission, at that - to do whatever he wants is tempting, to say the least. For devious reasons. Teasing reasons. How does one say… gremlin reasons.

He tries not to let his grin bleed through. He shouldn't. He knows he shouldn't, for his own sake, more than anything else, but the temptation is too strong. If he's going to crash and burn, he might as well take the chance to tease her in front of her rich friends before he finally croaks.

"Shake on it," he says. "I want that in writing."

If she's suspicious, her glee overwhelms her intuition, and she gasps and lunges forward to hug him. She's warm, and soft, and tiny, but Hak still can't help the shit eating grin that splits his expression as he allows himself to wrap his arms around her, too. If he's going to suffer for this, if he's going to actively throw himself into the fray and help Yona marry her sweetheart, well, at least he'll have permission to get on her nerves in the meantime. It's the least she could do, he thinks, to put up with his harmless jokes.

"You're the best," she sighs, and Hak catches a whiff of her shampoo as she drops back to smile up at him.

Flowery. Typical Yona. Still. It's so nostalgic that it does remind him that she still has his heart in her hands, whether she knows it or not.

"I mean it," he says. "I want it in writing. No take backs."

"Scouts honor!"

"You were never a girl scout." She pinks and smiles, guiltily, and she has no right being so cute. Hak huffs and rubs his face. "Pick those pajamas back up and get changed. Gramps should be asleep, so we're safe."

"It's not like I'm not allowed in the house, you know," Yona says, kneeling down to collect the discarded clothing. She hugs them to her chest and smiles still, still too overcome with gratitude for him to really school her expression into anything remotely sisterly.

Well. He supposes that's the point now.

Fuck. What'd he just agree to?

Hak rubs his face harder. "That's the point. He'll be too happy to see you. I'll never hear the end of it."

Yona hums a little something and trots over to his bedroom door, bow bouncing in her mess of hair. Shoots a giddy look over her shoulder and sing-songs, "Whatever you say, boyfriend."

He can't help it. Hak trips on his way to his bed. Falls right on it, face down, and works on convincing himself that his heart hadn't just skipped a beat.