Jae’s never been a discriminatory, homophobic kind of guy. He was raised in a household that taught him everyone was equal, his best friend from school is gay-- he’s just never had a problem with it. There’s obviously nothing wrong with it. His roommate, Brian, who he met from a craigslist advert about a nice apartment with low rent, and had lived with ever since, had come out to him as gay and Jae was fine with it, so why does he feel like this?
They’d always been chill with it, even joking about it from time to time (“Oh, fuck you,” Brian would say, to which Jae would retort “Don’t you just wish you could?” and Brian would cheekily respond with “Pretty sure it’s the other way around, Jae.” And they’d call it a day). Brian is gay, Jae is straight, they both know each other’s limits but aren’t shy to mess around with each other for laughs. And everything is fine, Jae feels a lot better knowing that Brian’s not hiding anything, but there’s something that’s been insistently prodding at him the wrong way and he doesn’t know why.
Brian brings home guys sometimes, and it irks Jae to the bone. At the beginning, it was fine. Jae would just mind his own business and read a book, not bother to say anything besides Hey if he catches the guys leave the next morning, because it’s not Jae’s business who Brian sleeps with. He’s an adult, with a job and a life and it’s not Jae’s issue who Brian decides to pick up. He was always respectful about it too, never being to loud and making sure to text Jae a heads up beforehand, just the same way Jae did whenever he had hookups.
Which, for the record is very rare. Jae doesn’t get around much.
He thinks that this might be the reason for it all, that he’s just a little ticked off that Brian can get a lay and he can’t, so he starts picking up people at bars. He doesn’t even think before doing it, just sees a girl and goes for it. More often than not, they reciprocate. But it gets lacklustre so fast. Jae gets to the point that he hardly even looks at them, takes them home whether or not they’re pretty, or funny, or a good time at all because he just doesn’t care. It turns into unenjoyable sex with strangers rather than a hookup for a good time. He doesn’t even know why he does it anymore; who is he trying to prove himself to? Brian doesn’t care, Jae doesn’t like it, this clearly isn’t what’s the problem.
If this isn’t, then what is?
It’s been relatively quiet for a while, neither of them having anyone over in a while, and for once Jae is just happy to get home from a long day at work (his boss had made him work an extra shift on a Friday. A Friday. Getting home just before ten on a Friday when you’re usually home at five thirty is really not the vibe), to pop some popcorn and binge Drag Race with Brian (it had been his favourite show before they met, but naturally, Brian had gotten Jae hooked), but of course this is not what happens. When Jae walks into his flat at nine fifty-three, he is not so pleasantly surprised with Brian sitting in some guy’s lap on their couch, kissing his messily.
The guy is very lanky, but not in the lean way, more so the sickly, bones-sticking-out, tree kind of way.
If there’s one thing that Jae has noticed after the past few months of Brian’s sporadic lays, it’s that he has a type. Tall, kind of muscular in the soft way, pretty eyes and a strong set face, usually never Korean, or Asian at all, except for once, a while back. It’s not that Jae pays that much attention, it’s just that he’s observant some times. Anyways, that’s besides the point. Fact of the matter is that this guy is not the type of guy that Jae usually sees. Not Brian’s type at all. He's the opposite. In fact, Jae can almost see himself in the lanky man.
Jae, all of the sudden feels very sick in many different ways. Like he’s going to throw up but also like he’s going to pass out. It’s at this point that Brian must notice him standing there because he gasps and says Oh my god.
“Jae, I’m sorry, I-- we’ll move.” Lanky guy smiles apologetically and removes his hands from where they’d been on Brian’s ass, lets Brian climb off of him. Jae also all of the sudden feels very bad for interrupting and not just backing out of the apartment and heading over to Wonpil’s instead.
“No,” Jae says, “no, it’s fine, I um, I’m going to Wonpil’s. Uh, I’ll see you tomorrow, Brian. Be safe.” And Jae leaves, and he feels so grossed out and awful and he doesn’t know why, but he doesn’t stop hitting his head against the steering wheel of his car once he’s down.
Jae thinks that after that it won’t be so bad, because while he felt bad when he’s witnessed it, he’d somehow assured himself that it was just because he’d had a long day and wanted to relax and not have to be thrown full force into the middle of something he doesn’t want to see at all. But god, is he wrong. It doesn’t get better, in fact, everything gets worse.
It’s not even just seeing the guys Brian sleeps with, even just the knowledge that they’re in the house makes Jae feel sick. He can’t help it; the thought of Brian doing things with those men, even though Jae doesn’t want to think about it at all just bothers him so much. He hates to think about what he’ll do when Brian gets a boyfriend.
And it’s not even like Brian doesn’t notice something is off. Jae’s been acting more standoffish, making up an excuse to get out of their movie nights or doesn’t let Brian come grocery shopping with him, blatantly avoiding him for no good reason. Brian brings it up one day, when his latest lay is sat at their breakfast bar for god knows why, lacing up his shoes with an empty bowl of what was presumably cereal beside him.
Just with seeing him, Jae feels upset. The guy doesn’t even notice it, he must not, because he’s absolutely chipper when he sees Jae and greets him good morning.
And all Jae can produce is a grunt of recognition and some cut eye that he hates to admit he gives. He doesn’t think Brian notices. The guy pulls on his coat and walks towards the door, tells Brian to call him sometime before he walks out. Jae knows that he won’t.
But Brian must notice, because he sounds mad when he asks, “what the fuck was that?”
“What was what?”
“I don’t think that’s very fair of you, Jae,” he says, picking up the guy’s bowl and tossing it in the sink. It lands with a clatter.
“What?” Jae asks, and he’s genuinely confused. He shouldn’t be, but he is.
“You know, I always deal with your hookups. You can’t even be nice for a second? Why doe it bother you so much?”
“Is that what this is about?” Jae asks, bewildered. “It doesn’t bother me at all. I don’t care who you sleep with, Bri. You know that. It’s not my business.” But it’s a lie because it does bother him and he doesn’t know why but he does know that it makes him feel sick every time he sees one of Brian’s hookups leave with messy hair and their shirts half unbuttoned. For some reason, this comment only seems to make Brian more upset.
“Clearly it does bother you,” Brian snaps. “You think I don’t notice how standoffish you’ve become, or how disgusted you look when I have someone over? Is it because I’m gay or is it because you just don’t want me to have people over? Because I can only change one of those things.”
“Jesus, Brian, of course that’s not it. I told you, I don’t care. It’s your life, you can sleep with however many people you want. I. Don’t. Care.”
“Whatever,” Brian says, scoffs, and slips on his shoes. “I’m going over to a friends to cool off.” And all Jae do can watch him, standing there, stiff as a board as Brian walks out the door. But before he leaves, he turns and asks, “you don’t care so long as I do it at his place and not ours, right?”
“No, I don’t care at all. Just give me a heads up and I’ll be fine.” And then the door is shut and Jae is alone. While he had made it seems as though he was okay, when those words left Brian’s mouth, he swears he felt sicker than he’s ever felt.
Jae is convinced that he’s homophobic, but only towards Brian for some twisted reason. Because he’s never felt this way towards anyone who likes the same sex before. There was no need for it, because there’s nothing wrong with it. So, if Jae believes there’s nothing wrong with it, why does he feel so disgusted everytime Brian has another man over? Clearly there’s something wrong, because he doesn’t feel this sick towards any other gay people, it’s just Brian. It doesn’t make any sense.
Jae decides to get Wonpil’s opinion on the whole thing. They’re sitting in Wonpil’s living room drinking tea. There’s some romcom playing in the background. Jae has just told Wonpil that he needs to talk about something important with him.
“Lay it on me, Jae.”
"IThinkI’mHomphobic,” Jae rushes out. Wonpil rolls his eyes.
“Gonna need to try that one again, bud. This time slower. And in English.”
“I think,” Jae says, breaking off with a sigh. “I think I’m homophobic.”
Wonpil raises his eyebrows. Jae can’t be serious, right? “You’re not serious are you?”
Jae is very serious. “I’m serious,” he affirms, and Wonpil lets out this big bark of laughter.
“Dude, you’re sitting next to the biggest homo, like, ever. If you’re homophobic then we have a serious problem because I’ve known you for ten years.”
“Pil,” Jae huffs. “I’m serious. Please don’t joke. I think I’m homophobic.”
“Okay, well when you think about me and Dowoon hugging or kissing, does it make you feel gross or angry?” Jae can tell that Wonpil is taking this as if he’s speaking to an actual child, and to be completely honest, Jae kind of feels that way.
“Well, no. You guys are annoying sometimes but you can be cute.” Like Jae had realized before, it’s not every gay couple. It’s just Brian and the people he brings home.
“Congratulations, you’re not homophobic,” Wonpil says dully. Well if he’s not homophobic, then what is wrong with him? “ What brought this on?”
“Well, it’s Brian,” Jae says, and Wonpil must not want to interrupt because he just nods, urging Jae on. “I just feel really awful and bad all the time whenever he brings people over. And it’s not fair because he’s really chill when I have people over, but I feel really sick when I know that he’s getting laid. Brian can tell something is up too, because I’ve been acting really closed off lately. But he gets really mad when I tell him that I don’t care who he sleeps with. I don’t know why.”
“It sounds like you’re jealous,” Wonpil says, but something about his tone tells Jae that he’s not referring to the type of jealous that he had originally thought he was.
“I thought that originally,” Jae tells him. “I started sleeping around more, because I had kinda fallen off the horse. It got to a point where I was just having sex because I had nothing better to do. I don’t know who I was trying to prove it to, but it didn’t help anything. I still felt gross thinking about Brian with those guys. I feel gross thinking about it now, even. What is wrong with me? If this isn’t homophobia, what is it?”
Again, Wonpil lets out this big bark of laughter, but it fades quickly when Jae shoots him an upset look.
“What?” Jae asks. “What are you laughing at?”
“Jae baby,” Wonpil says, like he’s explaining simple concepts to a difficult toddler, “you’re not homophobic. You’re jealous.”
“Nah,” Jae says, shakes his head. “I told you, I thought that too. I’m not jealous of Brian.”
“Not of Brian, Jae,” Wonpil says. “You’re jealous of the guys he’s fucking.”
“I don’t follow.”
“It sounds to me like you have a crush on him.”
“No,” Jae says, “That’s not possible. I’m not into guys.”
Wonpil doesn’t seem to buy it. “Explain to me the situation again, then. I could be wrong, but I’m never wrong, so. Make sure you listen to yourself, Jae.”
“I don’t like it when Brian sleeps with other guys. It bothers me when I see him kissing them, but I don’t have anything against any other gay people. Sometimes I kinda just want him for myself, I guess. I’m not jealous of him. I tried sleeping with women to test the theory but it just got very lacklustre and unenjoyable. I haven’t wanted to sleep with a woman in a long time, but that’s not really important is it? Look, I don’t see the point in this, Wonpil.”
“Think over what you just said again.”
Jae’s not into Brian in that way. He’s straight. So what if he doesn’t like it when Brian has sex with other guys? So what if he just wants to keep Brian to himself most of the time? So what if-- oh god , Jae has a crush on Brian.
“There it is,” Wonpil says, grins.
“Fuck, Wonpil, I like him. Oh my god I like him.” Jae threads his hands through his hair, tugging insistently at the strands, eyes blown wide. “Oh my fucking god, Wonpil what am I going to do? I can’t live with him now. I can’t, I can’t-- I’m straight."
Wonpil raises his eyebrows in amusement. “Clearly you’re not if you have a crush on your male friend.”
“How are you not freaking out? This is such a big thing, oh my god, I’ve been straight my whole life was completely content with it and then fucking poof Brian comes in and I didn’t even realize that I’m not! I had to have someone else tell me that I’m in love with him!”
“I never said you were in love with him.”
“Did I just say that out loud?”
Wonpil nods. “Yep.”
“Oh my god, Wonpil I love him. What am I going to do?”
“You could tell him,” Wonpil suggests. “Based on the way that you said he was acting, it seems like he likes you too, you blind son of a bitch.”
“Impossible,” Jae says, flopping backwards and rolling onto the floor, wrapping a throw blanket around himself and turning himself into a sad little newly gay burrito. “If he liked me, then why does he sleep around with so many guys?”
“Why don’t you ask him?”
“Did you know?”
“Did I know what?”
“That I’m not straight.”
Wonpil smiles softly. “Maybe a little.”
Jae grabs a throw pillow from the couch and screams into it in frustration. “HOW THE FUCK DO YOU KNOW THESE THINGS? HOW DID YOU FIGURE ALL OF THESE THINGS OUT BEFORE ME?”
“Takes one to know one, sweet pea.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Jae cries, so fucking weirded out for the day that he doesn’t even know how to handle it.
“Hun, I can’t just go and tell you you’re not straight. Just because I knew doesn’t mean you were ready.” And Wonpil does have a point, because even though Jae knows now, he still thinks he’s not ready. “Now,” Wonpil says, “Drink your tea and get out of my apartment. You have a confession to make. I’d hurry too. Don’t want to walk in on something you don’t want to see.”
Jae is banging roughly at the door even though he has his own set of keys. When Brian opens it he’s in a pair of sweatpants and one of Jae’s t-shirts. At least, he thinks it was his to begin with, most of their clothes have migrated to the other’s closets, so it’s hard to tell anymore. He looks surprised to see Jae even though he lives here.
“Brian I need to talk to you.” And it’s super rushed and breathy, partially because he’s just finished running up six flights of stairs but also because he’s just that desperate.
“You’re talking right now, aren’t you?” Brian asks, but he steps aside and let’s Jae in anyhow.
“This is important, please.” Jae flops down onto the couch and pats the spot next to him. Brian sits down easily, but not without a soft look of confusion on his face. “I’ve realized why I’ve been such an ass lately.”
“Good to know that you recognize that,” Brian says sarcastically, and Jae is this close to getting on his knees and sobbing at Brian’s feet for him to just fucking listen for one second.
"Please,” Jae pleads, and Brian must see the desperation in his eyes because he digresses.
“Alright, okay, I’ll shut up.”
“I was being such an asshole because I was jealous,” Jae explains, but Brian must not buy it because he scoffs, laughs a little.
“Please, what do you have to be jealous of? You have no problem in getting laid.”
“No, Brian, I’m not jealous of you,” Jae says, takes a deep breath because ohmanholyshit, it’s happening, he’s going to fucking bite the bullet that he’s only found out existed a few hours ago. “I was jealous of them.”
“Of the guys you were with,” Jae explains. Brian laughs. Fucking laughs in his face.
“That’s-- that’s not possible. You-- you’re straight.” There’s a hint of something that Jae can’t quite decode behind Brian’s tone, something sad, almost.
“I thought so too, and then Pil made me think about it real hard and then I realized that I like you so fucking much,” Jae admits, exasperated. “That’s why it made me feel so awful whenever you had them over, that’s why I was such a dick, because I was jealous and wanted you for myself. I’m sorry if you don’t--”
“You’re serious?” Brian cuts him off.
“God, I like you too you fucking dumbass.”
Jae’s confused. If Brian liked him, then why did he--?
“Why did you sleep with all those people then?”
Brian sighs, but he’s smiling. “I wanted to make you jealous, partially, which is why I was mad when you kept saying that you didn’t care. It was mainly because I thought out were straight and was trying to get over you. Clearly that didn’t work.”
“Thank fucking god. And to be fair, I didn’t know I wasn’t straight until four hours ago. Thank god for gay whisperer Wonpil Kim.”
“Gotta love that kid,” Brian says. “Now that we’ve got all those gross mushy feeling out of the way, why don’t you do something about those months of pent up jealousy?”
“Like what?” Jae asks, because he’s fucking idiotic. Brian rolls his eyes.
“Like this.” And then they’re kissing, and Jae has never kissed a man before and it’s different but so, so fucking amazing. Where girls are soft and smooth and small and pliant, Brian is broad and thick and scratchy from where he didn’t shave this morning. And Jae loves every second of it.
After a while more, Jae decides that he doesn’t have an issue Brian kissing other guys when it’s him that he’s kissing.